Pixel Scroll 5/4/24 Pixels On The Storm

(1) KUANG Q&A. In the Guardian: “Rebecca F Kuang: ‘I like to write to my friends in the style of Joan Didion’”.

And cancel culture? Does it exist?
I find a lot of this so disingenuous. The shape of an internet takedown would go something like this: somebody would err, and often there would be pretty genuine complaints about their conduct. But there’s also a really big spectrum of what counts [as bad behaviour]. It could be something quite egregious and harmful, and it could also be something as silly as misrecognising a breakfast cereal. We conflate all of these scales of harm. Anyway, someone would air this complaint, and then there would be a back and forth with that complaint, and then, very quickly, it would spread to the corners of the internet, and those with no stake in it at all would spread disinformation. Nobody would ever seem interested in the truth, or in reparations, or in genuinely understanding what happened. It’s so self-serving and frivolous…

What are you working on now?
My next book is set in the 80s. It’s a fantasy novel, but it’s very different from The Poppy War trilogy. It’s Neil Gaiman meets… Lewis Carroll. There’ll be a big emphasis on nonsense and riddles and mysteries. It’s an entirely new genre. I like to feel like I’m moving forward. I get bored very easily.

(2) CRIMINALIZED WRITING. “Record Number of Writers Jailed Worldwide in 2023” says PEN America annual report.

PEN America today released its annual Freedom to Write Index, recording the highest number of jailed writers around the globe since the Index launched five years ago. There were 339 writers from 33 countries jailed in 2023, an increase of 62 writers compared to 2022 and 101 more than in 2019….

The top ten jailers of writers in 2023 are China (including autonomous regions) with 107, Iran 49, Saudi Arabia and Vietnam each with 19, Israel (including the Occupied Palestinian Territory) with 17, Belarus and Russia each with 16, Türkiye 14, Myanmar 12, and Eritrea seven. 

PEN America spends the entire year researching news and verifying accounts of writers jailed for their speech–and held for a minimum of 48 hours –anywhere in the world (see more on our methodology here). In addition to the Freedom to Write Index, PEN America maintains and updates a Writers at Risk Database throughout the year, providing insights into the wide array of threats that writers face. There are currently 923 active cases of writers at risk in 88 countries in the database….

(3) FEARLESS OCTAGENARIAN. “’I can say things other people are afraid to’: Margaret Atwood on censorship, literary feuds and Trump” in the Guardian.

…Questions of freedom of expression are “front and centre” right now, she believes, with both left and right turning to censorship. “‘You have to take this book out of the school because it hurts my child’s feelings,’ says one hand, and the other hand says ‘Well this other book hurts my child’s feelings, so you have to take it out.’ And that goes on until there aren’t any books left. If you go too far down the road in either direction, you shut down political speech.” While she doesn’t think this is likely to happen in Britain any time soon – “the British are quite mouthy, you may have noticed” – it is happening in parts of America.

When Atwood speaks the world listens, with good reason: the financial crash, the rise of the extreme right and the infringement of women’s freedoms in recent years have all been anticipated in her work. “I just pay attention,” she likes to say. Her status as an international treasure and seer means she is frequently sought out for her opinions on the hottest issues of the day, as well as panel discussions and events.

“I’m a kind of walking opinion poll,” she says. “I can tell by the questions that people ask me what’s on their minds. What is the thing they’re obsessing about at the moment.” The backwards turn of women’s rights, with the ruling just this month that the 1864 total ban on abortion be enforced in Arizona, for example, is high on the list. But as always she is careful to stress that there is no one answer to questions about the future for women. “I have to ask which women? How old? What country? There are many different variations of women.”

She attributes her outspokenness to the fact that she doesn’t have a job: “You can say things that other people might be afraid to because they will lose their job or get cancelled.”… 

(4) WATER WAITERS. Animation Magazine signal boosts a “Dreamy Chinese Animated Feature ‘Deep Sea’ Now Streaming on Peacock”.

Having made a striking visual impression upon audiences at prestige film festivals in Berlin, Tribeca, Annecy and Tokyo, the innovative CG-animated feature Deep Sea has made its exclusive streaming debut on Peacock. Written and directed by Tian Xiaopeng (Monkey King: Hero Is Back), the film is produced by China’s October Media and Enlight Pictures, and had a limited U.S. theatrical release through Viva Pictures in November.

Synopsis: A young girl named Shenxiu is unexpectedly swept into the sea during a family cruise and stumbles upon a mysterious restaurant under the waves. There, she meets the scheming head chef Nanhe, and his ragtag crew of adorable otters and sarcastic walruses. They join forces to save the restaurant and reunite Shenxiu with her long-lost mother in a kaleidoscopic, dreamlike world of swirling color and dazzling views….

(5) A TRAILER PARK FAR, FAR AWAY. Animation World Network is tuned in when “Disney+ Drops New ‘Star Wars: The Acolyte’ Trailer”.

To celebrate Star Wars Days, Disney+ has just dropped a second trailer and batch of images for Star Wars: The Acolyte, which debuts with the first two episodes on June 4.

The newest Star Wars offering, the mystery-thriller takes viewers into a galaxy of shadowy secrets and emerging dark-side powers in the final days of the High Republic era. A former Padawan reunites with her Jedi Master to investigate a shocking crime spree, but as more clues emerge, they travel down a dark path where the forces they confront are more sinister than they ever anticipated.

(6) SANFORD (SANDY) ZANE MESCHKOW (1941-2024). By Nigel Rowe: Sandy (Sanford) Meschkow passed away on January 28, 2024 in Bryn Mawr, Montgomery, Pennsylvania. He was 83.

He grew up in the Catskill Mountains area of New York State, and was a longtime SF fan and onetime roommate and best friend of artist Mike Hinge. As President of the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society early in the 1970s Sandy commissioned Kelly Freas to do a portrait of Keith Laumer for a PSFS program book. An engineer and editor/writer by trade who worked at NASA for a time in the Sixties. James Blish has Sandy to thank for helping him move out of his apartment when he was moving to England.

Back in early 2022, he wrote saying, “My wife died in January of 2019 and I moved into this large retirement facility that July. I just turned 81and while I have some cardiac and dfiabetic problems I’m not using a walker yet! I wrote an SF novel I can’t seem to sell, but I’ll e-mail it to you for comments if you want to see it. I keep in close contact with an old girlfriend who also knew Mike and we keep each other from getting depressed.  We are in anti-COVID-19 lockdown here. Only one resident and seven staffers have caught the new variant lately.”

He never did send the story along, but we wrote a few more times, sharing memories about Mike and what Sandy was up to. Sandy was Mike’s executor and had packed up all his personal items for me to transport back to New Zealand along with his ashes. A task I carried out the year after he passed. A memorial for Mike was dutifully held in NZ with Mike’s brother Noel and several old time New Zealand 50’s fans present.

Sandy’s fannish memories about his early days in fandom are available in his blog from 2009: Fanograph.

Sadly, we never did meet up in person, but I’ll miss those occasional chatty emails.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born May 4, 1976 Gail Carriger, 48. Steampunk and mannerpunk , it’s time to talk about both, specifically that as written by our birthday author, Gail Carriger.  

Where to start? Her first novel, Soulless, set in an alternate version of Victorian era Britain where werewolves and vampires are members of proper society. Alexia Tarabotti is a wonderful created character that anyone would love to have an adventure with, as well as sit down with to high tea in the afternoon. 

It begins the Parasol Protectorate series centered around her, which as of now goes on to have Changeless, Blameless, oh guess, Heartless and Timeless in it, plus one short story, “Meat Cute”. Why the latter broke the naming convention I know not. 

Gail Carriger. Photo by Vanessa Applegate.

Wait, wait, don’t tell me! — she’s done more mannerpunk. Indeed she has. There is Custard Protocol series (Prudence ImprudenceCompetence and Reticence), also set in Parasol Protectorate universe. When Prudence “Rue” Alessandra Maccon Akeldama , a young woman with metahuman abilities, is left an unexpected dirigible in a will , she does what any sensible (ha!) alternative Victorian Era female would do — she names it the Spotted Custard and floats off to India. Need I say adventures of a most unusual kind follow? I really love this series and not just for the name of the series. It’s just fun. Really fun.

The Finishing School series is set in Parasol Protectorate universe. Again she has a delightful manner in naming her tales, Etiquette & EspionageCurtsies & ConspiraciesWaistcoats & Weaponry and Manners & Mutiny. Go ahead, I think you can figure what this series is about without me telling you. It’s delightful of course.

So I’m not that familiar with her other writing. It appears the two Delightfully Deadly novellas might have a tinge of romance in them though at least one also has dead husbands, four to be precise, lobsters and of course high society. Lobsters? 

The Claw & Courtship novellas are standalone stories set in the Parasol Protectorate universe. So far there’s just “How to Marry a Werewolf (In 10 Easy Steps)”, though she says there’ll be more.

Finally, I’ll note she did a SF series, the Tinkered Stars Universe series — how can this possibly be? — which she describes on her website as “a sexy alien police procedural on a space station”. Oh, that sounds so good. It consists of Divinity 36Demigod 22Dome 6Crudat and The 5th Gender

Did she do short stories? Just four, of which I really want to read one — “The Curious Case of the Werewolf that Wasn’t, The Mummy that Was and the Cat in the Jar”.

(8) COMICS SECTION.

(9) OUTRÉ TECH. Gizmodo has a slideshow of “7 Extremely Weird Inventions From the Grandfather of Science Fiction” – ideas conceived by Hugo Gernsback.

…In 1913, he started The Electrical Experimenter, which would become known as Science and Invention in the 1920s. And in 1919 he founded Radio News, with Television News launched in 1928, just a couple of years after the first experimental tests of TV. That doesn’t even include the sci-fi titles he started like Amazing Stories.

All of these serious-minded tech magazines had at least one article in every issue by Gernsback, and they often included ideas for futuristic inventions. They’re simply some of the most interesting old ideas for the future from a century ago….

(10) YE KEN NOW. Apparently it booked up last year, however, you can still take a virtual tour of “Barbie’s Malibu DreamHouse, Ken’s Way in Malibu, California, United States” on Airbnb. (Was this a real property? Hard to tell.)

Welcome to my Kendom! While Barbie is away, she has handed over the keys to her Malibu DreamHouse this summer and my room could be yours for the night. I’ve added a few touches to bring some much-needed Kenergy to the newly renovated and iconic Malibu DreamHouse. Placed perfectly above the beach with panoramic views, this life-size toy pink mansion is a dream come true!

Booking opens at 10 a.m. PT on Monday, July 17 for two, one-night stays for up to two guests on July 21 and July 22, 2023.

What you’ll do
Situated along the stunning, photogenic coastline, the Malibu DreamHouse is a sunny surfer’s sanctuary surrounded by beach, beach and more beach – just the way I like it.

I’ve decked out the place with a little more…well, me! I’m more than just beach! My cowboy stuff is great. And horses! Guitars, games and more. And of course, rollerblades, because I literally go nowhere without them. Now, guests can live it up Ken-style for a neon night in Barbie Land – six-pack not included.

– During your stay, you will have the opportunity to live in technicolor by:
– Taking a spin through my awesome wardrobe to find your best beach fit. Look out Barbie, I’ve got quite the closet too!
– Channeling your inner cowboy and learning a line dance or two on my outdoor disco dance floor or performing a sunset serenade on my guitar
– Challenging your fellow guests to a “beach off” with plenty of sunbathing and chillaxing by the infinity pool
– Taking home a piece of my Kendom with your very own set of yellow-and-pink Impala skates and surfboard

(11) THE SHIP OF ISHTAR. Grammaticus Books looks at an early 20th century classic.

An in-depth review of A. Merritt’s high fantasy novel, ‘The Ship of Ishtar’. Originally published in serialize form in 1924. And an influence for future fantasy authors such as Michael Moorcock.

(12) RECOGNIZE THIS ROCK? “After Star Trek Symbol Was Spotted By NASA’s Mars Rover, We’re Getting Serious ‘Strange New Worlds’ Vibes”. See the video at the link.

Fans are experiencing a bit of a lull due to the fact that upcoming Star Trek shows are still months off. However, fortunately, NASA’s Mars rover is keeping fans entertained in a surprising way. The Curiosity happened to photograph a rock that strongly resembles an iconic symbol from the franchise and, with that, we’re now getting serious Strange New Worlds Season 2 vibes after seeing it. NASA has made cool shoutouts to The Orville and other sci-fi shows, and one gets the feeling that there are also some Trekkies working at the space-centric organization. The official account for Curiosity confirmed that there were team members delighted when an X user scanning publicly available raw images from the rover noticed a rock that looked like the Delta sigil commonly seen on a comm badge.

(13) WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU JUMP INTO A BLACK HOLE? [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] This week physicist Matt O’Dowd over at PBS Space Time asks what happens if we jump into a singularity…

Meet Alice and Bob, famous explorers of the abstract landscape of theoretical physics. Heroes of the gerdankenexperiment—the thought experiment—whose life mission is to find contradictions in the deepest layers of our theories. Today our intrepid pair are jumping into a black hole. Again. Why? Well, to determine the fundamental structure of spacetime and its connection to quantum entanglement of course.

[Thanks to Teddy Harvia, Kathy Sullivan, Mike Kennedy, Nigel Rowe, JJ, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, and Steven French for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jeff Smith.]

Pixel Scroll 3/22/24 White Rabbits Are Easy, Try Pulling A Pixel Out Of A Hat

(1) YE KEN NOW. [Via MT Void.] Read Michael Dirda’s article “The two best American fantasy writers you’ve probably never heard of” at the Washington Post. He’s talking about Avram Davidson and Manly Wade Wellman.

… Happily, though, these too-little-known but excellent writers — did I mention that both were honored with the World Fantasy Award for lifetime achievement? — have been supported and championed in recent years by independent publishers and knowledgeable admirers. Let’s start with Wellman.

Back in 2012, Haffner Press assembled “The Complete John Thunstone,” all of Wellman’s stories from Weird Tales magazine about a Manhattan-based occult investigator who, armed with a silver sword-cane, combats demons, the evil magician Rowley Thorne (loosely based on Aleister Crowley) and a hidden race of malignant humanoids called the Shonokins. Fans of Marvel Comics’ Doctor Strange will feel right at home…

… Despite the similarity in their structure, these tales of mystery and the supernatural excel at evoking the uncanny, even as the myriad details of Southern legend and lore further ramp up the tension and foreboding. Think of them, then, as round-the-campfire stories or front-porch yarns: They are shivery without being gruesome, they move right along, and each will leave you wanting to read just one more.

By contrast, Avram Davidson is far more literary, as well as amaster of many vocal registers and genres. In relating his brilliantly gonzo fantasies, he often takes his own sweet time, reveling in pyrotechnic sentences, Jewish slang, mordant humor, digressions and archaic diction. You’ll certainly find all these in “AD 100: 100 Years of Avram Davidson: 100 Unpublished or Uncollected Stories,” edited by Neva Hickman….

(2) NOT AT ALL ELEMENTARY, MY DEAR WATSON. “The Weird Lawsuit Over Netflix’s Enola Holmes, Explained” at Slashfilm.

…In the case of another prominent pop culture figure, Sherlock Holmes, many of the stories featuring Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous detective entered the public domain some time ago. Copyright typically lasts for the duration of an author’s life plus 70 years, 120 years from the date of their creation, or 95 years from their publication date — whichever comes soonest. Doyle passed away in 1930, and a lot of his Sherlock Holmes novels entered the public domain in the 20th Century, beginning in 1981 when 1887’s “A Study in Scarlett” made the transition. So, by the time author Nancy Springer published her first “Enola Holmes” novel in 2006 — a novel based on the world established by Doyle — she was mostly in the clear.

In 2020, Netflix’s first adaptation of a Springer book, “Enola Holmes” arrived, welcoming girls into the detective club and becoming a big enough hit for the streamer to green-light a sequel. When “Enola Holmes 2” debuted in 2022, it proved to be an even more charming mystery outing, firmly cementing these films as a solid new franchise for Netflix. All in all, then, a pretty nice little success story for the biggest streamer in the game. Or at least it would have been if it wasn’t for that pesky copyright law….

…. The complaint alleged that Springer and the other parties infringed copyright and trademark law with the “Enola Holmes” products, specifically stating (via The Guardian) that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle had created “significant new character traits for Holmes and Watson” in the 10 stories that remained protected by copyright law in the U.S. Back in 2014, a ruling made all the Sherlock Holmes stories authored prior to 1923 property of the public domain, allowing Springer and others to use the character and his world in their creations. But the 10 remaining stories, referred to in the 2020 lawsuit, were written between 1923 and 1927, meaning they were still covered by copyright law.

So, what exactly had Springer, Netflix, and the others infringed upon from these specific stories? Well, emotions, apparently…

(3) TREK HISTORY ON THE AUCTION BLOCK. Two of the highlighted items in March 29’s “The Greg Jein Collection Hollywood/Entertainment Showcase Auction” are from Star Trek: The Original Series – a phaser, and a shuttlecraft model.

Star Trek: The Original Series (Paramount TV, 1966-1969), Mid-Grade Type-1 Phaser. Vintage original iconic prop measuring 3.75″ x 1.75″ x 1″. Constructed of hollow fiberglass, painted dark gray with silver stripe on both sides, with wooden emitter tip, acrylic gauge, aluminum power dial and diamond patterned decal. This very rare prop was used by the production for closer shots. Exhibiting scuffing and some paint retouching as well as adhesive remnants on the underside. Comes with a COA from Heritage Auctions. From the Collection of Greg Jein.

Heritage Auctions says about the shuttlecraft:

This piece is truly special. Greg, obviously known for his incredible model-building prowess, built this as a “stand-in” for his screen-used Galileo shuttlecraft filming miniature for the famous Star Trek exhibit at the Smithsonian in 1992. Greg feared his original miniature would become damaged, so he spared no attention to detail in creating this piece, knowing it would be viewed by hundreds of thousands of visitors at the National Air and Space Museum….

Star Trek: The Original Series (Paramount TV, 1966-1969), Greg Jein-Built Galileo Shuttlecraft Model for “Star Trek: The Exhibit” at the Smithsonian (1992). Original static model miniature constructed of cast resin elements, vacuum-formed plastic, mixed-media components, all expertly assembled, painted, and finished with Enterprise-gray paint, tape details, and transfer lettering for badging. Measures approx. 22″ x 14″ x 7.5″. The Greg Jein-built model was on display at the legendary “Star Trek: The Exhibit” at The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, Washington, D.C., from February 1992 through January 1993. Exhibits age, paint chipping, cracking and handling. Comes with a COA from Heritage Auctions. From the Collection of Greg Jein.

(4) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites listeners to join biographer Julie Phillips for Jӓgerschnitzel in Episode 221 of the Eating the Fantastic podcast.

I first met this episode’s guest, Julie Phillips, in the dealers room of the 2006 Los Angeles Worldcon, where I was introduced by Gordon Van Gelder, her editor on James Tiptree, Jr.: The Double Life of Alice B. Sheldon. That biography had been out only a few weeks by then, and it would go on to win the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Hugo and Locus Awards, and the Washington State Book Award. It’s a truly magnificent achievement, and if you haven’t already read it, you should track it down immediately. Once you do, you’ll understand why I’m anxiously awaiting her next biography — of the great Ursula K. Le Guin.

Julie Phillips

Her most recent book is The Baby on the Fire Escape: Creativity, Mothering, and the Mind-Baby Problem (2002). Her articles have appeared in The New YorkerMs.The Village VoiceNewsdayMademoiselle, and many other publications. She currently lives in Amsterdam, where she reviews books for 4Columns.org and writes about English literature for the Dutch daily newspaper Trouw.

When I learned the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts had asked her give the kickoff lecture of its More than Muses Weekend in nearby Hagerstown, Maryland, I reached out to see whether she had time to break bread so I could share her wisdom with you. And I’m so pleased she agreed. We met for lunch the day after her presentation at Schmankerl Stube Bavarian restaurant, one of my favorite places to eat in Hagerstown.

We discussed why she called The Baby on the Fire Escape “a weird hybrid monster of a book,” the one thing she regrets not researching more thoroughly for her Tiptree bio, the reason there’s more space for the reader in a biography than a memoir, why some children of artistic mothers can make peace with their relationships and others can’t, the three things she felt it important to squeeze into the seven minutes she was given to speak at Ursula K. Le Guin’s memorial service, her writing method of starting in the middle of a book and working out toward both ends, the occasional difficulty of withholding judgement on one’s biographical subjects, the relationship between biographer Robert Caro and editor Robert Gottlieb, plus much more.

(5) ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE, REAL BALONEY. “A Celebrity Dies, and New Biographies Pop Up Overnight. The Author? A.I.” finds the New York Times.

After Joseph Lelyveld, a former executive editor of The New York Times, died last month, his brother Michael Lelyveld went online to see how he was being remembered. He found obituaries in major news outlets, as expected. But he also found other, unexpected portraits of his brother.

At least half a dozen biographies were published on Amazon in the days immediately following Lelyveld’s death. Several of them were available for purchase on the very day he died. The books, he said, described his brother as a chain smoker, someone who honed his skills in Cairo and reported from Vietnam — none of which is true.

“They want to make a buck on your grief,” said Michael Lelyveld.

Books like this are part of a macabre new publishing subgenre: hasty, shoddy, A.I.-generated biographies of people who have just died…

(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born March 22, 1920 Ross Martin. (Died 1981.) Let’s talk about Ross Martin and his involvement with Wild Wild West which is a fascinating story indeed. 

He got his first acting job in the early Fifties series Lights Out’s “I Dreamed I Died” episode. 

This was not the beginning of his performance career as he did a lot of radio before that, including the last broadcast episode of Dimension X, and two of X Minus One, one of which taken from was Bradbury’s “The Man in The Moon” story which I believe Bradbury himself adapted for broadcast. 

Before the Wild Wild West, he would be in the Conquest of Space, a film about the first interplanetary flight to the planet Mars, and in The Colossus of New York where he’s Dr. Jeremy “Jerry” Spensser (sic) whose brain gets put into a giant robotic body. What could possibly go wrong?  

Ross Martin in 1965

Mike wants to note that that though “not genre, he played the villain in Experiment in Terror which was a memorable film.” Thanks Mike! 

Not surprisingly, he’d be in Twilight Zone. The first time “The Four of Us are Dying” where he’s already dead as Johnny Foster. Seriously he is. Nice touch there, Serling. The next time is in what starts as a purely SF episode which is described this way, “Space Cruiser E-89, crewed by Captain Paul Ross, Lt. Ted Mason (his character), and Lt. Mike Carter, is on a mission to analyze new worlds and discover if they are suitable for colonization.”  Well, this being the Twilight Zone, it will take a trip into the very strange of course. 

It is said that the Artemus Gordon character was largely shaped by Martin himself. He created almost all of his disguises for the show, and even the gadgets used on the series were either created by him or largely constructed with his input. Even the make-up he did for many of the episodes was mostly his own design. Given that he was in eighty-five episodes, that’s quite amazing!

Gordon missed nine episodes after suffering a heart attack. The actor was temporarily replaced by familiar actors like William Schallert and Alan Hale, Jr.  So yes the Captain did escape from the island. And time traveled. 

I loved the series, loved him and Conrad, thought they made a great pair of agents. I’ve watched the series quite a few times including on DVD about a decade ago, that viewing allowed me to see pre-production sketch that was made of his very first make-up design for the pilot episode. 

The four season boxed set has the two movies plus all the extras from seasons two  through four but very oddly not the ones from the first season when these were first released as separate sets. A very odd thing to do. And yes, you can find the separate seasons easily enough on eBay. 

After this series, his genre appearances are as follows. 

He appeared in another Serling series playing Mister Gingold, a  moneylender with almost no compassion for his debtors who would get his due justice Night Gallery-style in “Camera Obscura”, and again as Bradley Meredith in “The Other Way Out” as the jig is up after he kills a go-go dancer. Serling did not write this script and it shows. There’s nothing at all interesting here.

Not genre (I think, we could call it genre adjacent) was his role was Charles Chan in The Return of Charlie Chan

Definitely genre was his appearance on Quark as Zorgon the Malevolent in “All the Emperor’s Quasi-Norms, Parts 1 & 2”. 

I’m down to his last three genre appearances, he was in    The New Adventures of Wonder Woman  as Bernard Havitol in the “IRAC is Missing” episode and his next two genre role was as Ace Scanlon in a Fantasy Island two parter, “The Devil and Mandy Breem” and “The Millionaire”.

His final genre role was on Mork & Mindy as Godfrey in the “Mork and the Bum Rap” episode. That, I think, covers it. 

(7) COMICS SECTION.

From Cooper Lit Comics:

(8) USE THE COFFEE MACHINE, LUKE. “’Star Wars’ Marathon Set From Alamo Drafthouse With All Nine Films” says The Hollywood Reporter.

Alamo Drafthouse is hosting a Star Wars marathon of all nine movies to screen back-to-back May 3-4, coinciding with the 25th anniversary of Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace.

The Texas-based theater chain will host the 21-hour marathon of the Skywalker Saga’s episodes one through nine at the Alamo Drafthouse New Mission in San Francisco. The all-in-one-sitting viewing will start May 3 with The Phantom Menace and end a day later with a screening of The Rise of Skywalker.

There will be breaks for “unlimited coffee and water” to keep your eyes open in case the Force isn’t enough. Audiences can expect Star Wars-themed food items from a galaxy far, far away at the concession stands, an immersive Star Wars lobby for selfies, and games and trivia between screenings.… 

(9) WARP FACTOR TEA. Of course, if you’re not a coffee drinker, Adagio Teas looks like they have at least ten selections in their “To Boldly Brew…” line. One of them is “Picard’s Tea. Earl Grey. Hot. Tea”. Below are three examples of the art on the product tins.

Picard’s Tea. Earl Grey. Hot. Creamy Earl Grey Moonlight blends beautifully with Summer Rose, (English roses in honor of Sir Patrick Stewart’s homeland). Extra rose petals added for that touch of Starfleet Command red. [Episodes: TNG 2×11 “Contagion,” 4×26 “Redemption,” 6×19 “Lessons,” 7×20 “Journey’s End,” 7×25/26 “All Good Things…”]

(10) ON THE BEACH. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] “NASA’s Mars rover probes ancient shorelines for signs of life” reports Science. A  core drilled by Perseverance in October 2023 suggests it has been driving on the remains of an ancient beach.

…For the past few months, NASA’s rover, which is collecting rock samples to eventually send to Earth, has explored a ring of rocks just inside the rim of Jezero crater, which is thought to have been filled with water billions of years ago. An initial analysis suggests the rocks are composed of rounded grains of carbonate, a mineral that precipitates out of water. It’s a promising sign that the rocks were once beachfront property, says Briony Horgan, a planetary scientist at Purdue University who leads the rover’s science campaign. “You can imagine the waves crashing up against the shores of an ancient palaeolake,” she says….

(11) A PENGUIN IN YOUR FUTURE. “Colin Farrell returns in Max’s first The Penguin teaser” — let AV Club set the stage.

While fans will need to wait an extra year to see Robert Pattinson re-don his black cape for The Batman Part II (the film is now set to premiere in 2026), they don’t need to stay out of Matt Reeves’ gritty version of Gotham entirely. Colin Farrell’s Oz Cobb—in all his prosthetic-covered glory—is returning far sooner for his own eight-episode spinoff series, which lands on Max sometime this fall.

Move over, Tony Soprano. A new boss is coming to HBO. The first teaser for The Penguin opens in a flooded Gotham, right where the 2022 film left off, with Farrell doing exactly what any DC villain worth his salt should do: monologuing….

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

Pixel Scroll 8/10/23 Pick A Peck Of Pixels

(1) MICHELE LUNDGREN ARRAIGNED. Nine of the 16 Michigan Fake Trump electors were arraigned today on felony charges including Michele Lundgren, wife of sff artist Carl Lundgren. The other seven have already been in court, and all 16 now have entered not guilty pleas. CNN covered today’s proceedings: “Michigan’s fake GOP electors arraigned on state charges”.

The 16 Michigan Republicans who served as fake electors in 2020 have pleaded not guilty to the first-of-their-kind felony charges stemming from the Trump-backed election subversion plot.

Nine of the defendants were arraigned on the state charges Thursday at a virtual court hearing in Lansing. The other seven defendants already pleaded not guilty in the past few weeks.

The group of GOP activists were hit with state charges last month over their role former President Donald Trump’s seven-state plan to subvert the Electoral College and overturn the 2020 election results by supplanting lawful Democratic electors with fake Republican electors.

Each of the fake Michigan electors were charged with eight state felonies, including forgery, conspiracy to commit election law forgery, and publishing a counterfeit record. Some of their defense attorneys have already said they’ll challenge the novel prosecution and will try to get the charges dropped. The case is unfolding in Ingham County District Court.

The defendants were released on a $1,000 bond, after state judges determined that they weren’t a danger to the community and didn’t pose a flight risk. The next hearing in the case is scheduled for August 18, where prosecutors will need to show probable cause of the crimes….

Today’s arraignment was livestreamed from the judge’s courtroom, with some persons participating remotely. You can see Michele Lundgren’s appearance starting at about 43 minutes into this video.

https://www.youtube.com/live/9Z47VZ7kJo4

Carl Lundgren left this comment about the charges on File 770 on August 7. (His identity was verified before it was posted.)

Hello, to all my former friends in science fiction.

I guess we forget that there are two sides to every story.

I’ve been with my wife Michele, through all of this, and I know that she did nothing wrong. (Outside of being a camera hog).

Two sets of 3 FBI Agents (One a member of the National Archives). Came to the house and spent two hours each interviewing her a couple of years ago.

They went through all of her correspondence found that she committed no crime.

The AG in Michigan has other ideas, seemingly political.

Michele has a brain condition called CAA and her mental functions are deteriorating, but I know that she did nothing wrong.

Thanks for listening, and stop believing the commie news.

(2) STRIKE’S HUNDREDTH DAY. They reached the century mark on August 9. Someone told The Hollywood Reporter “’Picketing Disney Is More Fun Than Writing a ‘Star Wars’ Movie’: Scribes Mark 100 Days of the Strike”.

…referring to the so-called “talks about talking” meeting Friday between the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers and the Writers Guild executives to discuss if there was a path back to restart negotiations […the] WGA said in a briefing to members afterward that the AMPTP is offering the 11,000-member WGA the same deal that the DGA ratified on pattern issues and increases on a few writer-specific TV minimums. Scribes have since voiced their frustration with the AMPTP’s unwillingness to engage on such core issues as the minimum size of writers rooms or success-based residuals, among other topics. (The AMPTP has not commented on the meeting.)

Showrunner Damon Lindelof walked the humid picket line outside Disney in Burbank with Justin Britt-Gibson — the two were recently fired off a Star Wars movie they had been scripting for Disney-owned Lucasfilm — and shared that they both feel a new sense of resolve. “Ninety-nine days of steps under my belt and I don’t know if there’s any end in sight, but I’m feeling good, strong, convinced and unified,” said Lindelof. “Justin and I wrote a Star Wars movie together and picketing Disney is a lot more fun than writing a Star Wars movie,” said the Lost and Watchmen creator. Added Britt-Gibson: “This will not be in vain. This will be done so we have a better future for writers, for actors, for everybody out here on the line. … Strike the Empire back!”

(3) BEATLES CONSPIRACY THEORIST. Connie Willis reminded fans that August 8 is the anniversary of the day the four Beatles walked across the road at an Abbey Road zebra crossing. But was Paul actually dead? “The Abbey Road Zebra Crossing Today” at Facebook.

…Back when my daughter was in high school, she went to see a Beatles cover band and became obsessed with the Beatles. She and her friends dubbed themselves the Fab Four, and she began reading all about the Beatles. One day she came to me and said, “Did you know that there’s a rumor that Paul’s dead?”

“Are you KIDDING?” I said, incensed. “I was there when that rumor started. I helped SPREAD that rumor!”…

(4) IS THE CORPSE NO LONGER THE GUEST OF HONOR AT ITS OWN PARTY? New York Times essayist Amor Towles mourns that “Once at the center of the murder mystery, the cadaver has become increasingly incidental to the action and now figures as little more than a prop” in “The Corpse in the Library” .

…But in the golden age, the cadaver didn’t simply get things going. It maintained its position at the center of the story from the moment of its discovery until the denouement. As Hercule Poirot often pointed out, it was the psychology of the victim that was paramount. In life, was the cadaver lascivious? Unscrupulous? Greedy? To understand who had most likely monkeyed with the brakes of her car or poisoned her cup of tea, one first had to understand whom she had loved and whom she had spurned; whom she had enriched and whom she had cheated.

In the golden age, while the cadaver gave its life fairly early in the story, it could take comfort that it would remain of primary concern to the writer and reader until the book’s very last pages. This was no small consolation. As Lord Henry observed in Oscar Wilde’s “The Picture of Dorian Gray, “There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.”

BUT TIME MOVES on. In the years before World War II, a new kind of mystery, spearheaded by Dashiell Hammett and refined by Raymond Chandler, rose to prominence: the hard-boiled detective story.

Unlike the detectives of the golden age, who were often aristocratic in bearing and schooled in etiquette, the hard-boiled detectives were men who disdained artifice and favored plain speaking. They hung their hats in shabby offices, gathered information in flophouses and bars, and went home to one-bedroom apartments. Leading rugged lives, earning meager livings, prepared to expect the worst of everyone, the hard-boiled detectives were consummate professionals in the most world-weary of industries.

But when Hammett and Chandler opted to foreground the gritty, quotidian life of the detective-for-hire, one consequence was that the role of the cadaver shrank in importance. For these detectives were not hired to solve murders (that task was the purview of the police). Instead, they were hired to solve messy domestic problems….

(5) SVENGOOLIE AND JOE BOB TOGETHER. [Item by Michael Toman.] This certainly brings back a lot of Good Memories of Seeing Bad Movies. “Svengoolie and Joe Bob Briggs’ panel at Flashback Weekend ’23 pt. 1” at MeTV.

… the highlight of the event, the crown jewel of Flashback Weekend, was a panel hosted by horror legends Svengoolie and Joe Bob Briggs. Together, the hosts regaled guests with tales of TV, from their onscreen lives to their hopes for the future of horror hosts. With attendance limited to seating capacity, the intimate conversation will be fondly remembered by everyone in the room…. 

Joe Bob: I’m the spokesperson for the 90th birthday of the drive-in!

Sven: I also think it’s the 90th anniversary of somebody driving off with the speaker still attached to their window.

Joe Bob: I’m sure it is! Although, at the very first drive-in, in Camden, New Jersey, in 1933, the owner, Richard Hollingshead, thought he could just put up a big screen, park the cars in front of the screen, and get the most powerful speaker he could find — some kind of military-grade, industrial speaker, and put it by the screen and just shoot it out at the cars. That was actually what they did for the first — I don’t know — at least the first year. And then they went, “Now we’re gonna have to try some other solution, this is not working with the romantic comedies.”…

(6) WEAR YOUR DUDS WITHOUT BEING A DUD. Today Scott Edelman reminded people about David Hartwell’s classic “Three Laws of Fashion”.

His Three Laws are:

1. To dress in ignorance of fashion is to dress badly.

2. To dress knowingly in fashion is to be invisible.

3. To dress knowingly in opposition to fashion is to have your own style.

(7) ON BOARD THE TARDIS. The Companions of Doctor Who, edited by David Bushman (Conversations with Mark Frost) and Ken Deep (Showrunner of L.I Doctor Who con), is coming in February 2024. Preorder here.

Gallifrey One’s Shaun Lyon wrote the article on Donna Noble. (Yay Shaun!)

The Doctor should never be alone. With companions like these, why would he? The follow up to The Villains of Doctor Who essay book is right here. Donna, Clara, Amy, Rose, Ace, Sarah Jane and more are waiting for you in this sequel book which covers a diverse group of author’s take on the ones who travel alongside of The Doctor

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 10, 1896 John Gloag. His first SF novel, Tomorrow’s Yesterday, depicts a race of cat people from the distant future observing human society. It was one of five SF novels and a double handful of short stories he wrote in the Thirties and Forties. Kindle has almost all of his non-fiction. Really they do. Alas the SF no one has. (Died 1981.)
  • Born August 10, 1902 Curt Siodmak. He is known for his work in genre films for The Wolf Man and Donovan’s Brain, the latter from his own novel. ISFDB notes the latter was part of his Dr. Patrick Cory series, and he wrote quite a few other genre novels as well. Donovan’s Brain and a very few other works are available from the usual suspects. (Died 2000.)
  • Born August 10, 1903 Ward Moore. Author of Bring the Jubilee which everyone knows and several novels more that I’m fairly sure almost no one knows. More interestingly to me was that he was a keen writer of recipes as ISFDB documents four of his appeared in Anne McCaffrey’s Cooking Out of This World. Kidneys anyone? Or tripe anyone?  (Shudder.) (Died 1978.)
  • Born August 10, 1932 Alexis A. Gilliland, 92. He won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in 1982, edging out Brin and Swanwick for the honor. Gilliland also won four Hugo Awards for Best Fan Artist in the early Eighties and won the Tucker Award for Excellence in Partying in the late Eighties. What the Hell is that?  He’s got two series, Rosinante and Wizenbeak.
  • Born August 10, 1944 Barbara Erskine, 79. I’m including her because I’ve got a bit of a mystery. ISFDB lists her as writing over a dozen genre novels and her wiki page says she has a fascination with the supernatural but neither indicates what manner of genre fiction she wrote. I’m guessing romance or gothic tinged with the supernatural based on the covers but that’s just a guess. What do y’all know about her?
  • Born August 10, 1952 David C. Smith, 71. He is best known for his fantasy novels, particularly those co-authored with Richard L. Tierney, featuring characters created by Robert E. Howard, most notably the six novels which involved Red Sonja. Those novels are available on iBooks but not on Kindle. 
  • Born August 10, 1955 Eddie Campbell, 68. Best known as the illustrator and publisher of From Hell (written by Alan Moore), and Bacchus, a series about the few Greek gods who have made it to our time. Though not genre, I highly recommend The Black Diamond Detective Agency which he did. It’s an adaptation of a most likely never to be made screenplay by C. Gaby Mitchell. 
  • Born August 10, 1955 Tom Kidd, 68. Genre illustrator, he’s won an impressive seven Chelsey Awards. Though he didn’t win a Hugo for Best Professional Artist, he was nominated  at Aussiecon Two, Nolacon, Conspiracy ‘87 and ConFiction. Since I’m fond of this Poul Anderson series, I’m giving you his cover for Maurai & Kith.

(9) FANDOMS – SF/F AND BEYOND. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] This week’s BBC Radio 4 edition of Word of Mouth discusses fandoms writ large.  It looks at things like fan fic – its origins seem close to Sherlock Holmes over a century ago – cosplay, cons etc.  “Fandom”.

You can download the 28-minute episode here and you do not have to have a BBC Sounds account to download.

(10) MAKE YOUR PITCH. “’Stray Gods: The Roleplaying Musical’ lets players perform an interactive Broadway show” on WBUR. The audio recording of the 8-minute news item can he heard at the link.

Video games stories often shift and splinter based on a player’s unique actions.

But “Stray Gods: The Roleplaying Musical” goes a step further: Not only does it present branching paths through an urban fantasy, but it’s also bursting with interactive music.

Unlike other games that focus on shooting, spells or swordplay, “Stray Gods” is all about singing. Forced to clear her name after being accused of murder, protagonist Grace has to use her newfound powers as a muse to investigate the game’s modern-day Greek gods, swapping styles depending on the player’s approach. You can sing compassionately in one verse then get angrier in the next. Each choice will solicit divergent reactions and progress the story differently.

“I would say it’s hundreds or maybe thousands of really noticeably discrete versions, and then it gets into the millions once you start getting into the more subtle variations of this instrument versus that instrument,” says “Stray Gods” composer Austin Wintory…

(11) MARK YOUR CALENDAR. “Star Wars: Ahsoka Streaming Schedule Released”. Here is the essence of Comicbook.com’s post:

…According to the official Star Wars social media accounts, Ahsoka will be released every Wednesday, starting with two episodes on August 23rd. The series will feature eight episodes and span seven weeks into October. You can check out the full schedule announcement below.

(12) PROMISES, PROMISES. Abigail Nussbaum reviews “The Saint of Bright Doors by Vajra Chandrasekera” at Asking the Wrong Questions.

“The moment Fetter is born, Mother-of-Glory pins his shadow to the earth with a large brass nail and tears it from him. This is his first memory, the seed of many hours of therapy to come.” So begins Vajra Chandrasekera’s remarkable debut novel The Saint of Bright Doors. It’s a good beginning, full of promise. The shock of that sudden violence. The strangeness of the fantastical act. The lurch towards modernity right at the end. It is also, however, an opening whose promises—including one that we are not even aware is being made—the novel will spend most of its length breaking…

(13) THE MARTIAN SKY’S THE LIMIT. Gizmodo draws our attention to the good news on Mars: “NASA’s Mars Helicopter Resumes Flights After Untimely Landing”.

NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter has had a rough few months, first losing communication with its home planet and later suffering a glitch that interrupted its flight. But you can’t keep a good chopper down. Ingenuity soared above the Martian terrain once again as its team on Earth tries to figure out what went wrong with its previous flight.

The Mars helicopter briefly flew for a 25-second hop on August 3, logging in its 54th flight above the planet’s surface to provide data that could help determine why its 53rd flight ended prematurely, NASA revealed this week….

The space agency has full details: “NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter Flies Again”.

Flight 53 was planned as a 136-second scouting flight dedicated to collecting imagery of the planet’s surface for the Perseverance Mars rover science team. The complicated flight profile included flying north 666 feet (203 meters) at an altitude of 16 feet (5 meters) and a speed of 5.6 mph (2.5 meters per second), then descending vertically to 8 feet (2.5 meters), where it would hover and obtain imagery of a rocky outcrop. Ingenuity would then climb straight up to 33 feet (10 meters) to allow its hazard divert system to initiate before descending vertically to touch down.

Instead, the helicopter executed the first half of its autonomous journey, flying north at an altitude of 16 feet (5 meters) for 466 feet (142 meters). Then a flight-contingency program was triggered, and Ingenuity automatically landed. The total flight time was 74 seconds.

“Since the very first flight we have included a program called ‘LAND_NOW’ that was designed to put the helicopter on the surface as soon as possible if any one of a few dozen off-nominal scenarios was encountered,” said Teddy Tzanetos, team lead emeritus for Ingenuity at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California…

The Ingenuity team is confident that the early landing was triggered when image frames from the helicopter’s navigation camera didn’t sync up as expected with data from the rotorcraft’s inertial measurement unit. The unit measures Ingenuity’s acceleration and rotational rates – data that makes it possible to estimate where the helicopter is, how fast it is moving, and how it is oriented in space. This was not the first occasion on which image frames were dropped by the helicopter’s Navcam during a flight. Back on May 22, 2021, multiple image frames were dropped, resulting in excessive pitching and rolling near the end of Flight 6.

After Flight 6, the team updated the flight software to help mitigate the impact of dropped images, and the fix worked well for the subsequent 46 flights. However, on Flight 53 the quantity of dropped navigation images exceeded what the software patch allows.

“While we hoped to never trigger a LAND_NOW, this flight is a valuable case study that will benefit future aircraft operating on other worlds,” said Tzanetos. “The team is working to better understand what occurred in Flight 53, and with Flight 54’s success we’re confident that our baby is ready to keep soaring ahead on Mars.”

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

Pixel Scroll 6/2/23 I Thought Muddy Waters Scrolled That Pixel

(1) JMS RETURNS TO MARVEL IN CAPTAIN AMERICA #1. Marvel Comics has announced that writer and filmmaker J. Michael Stracyznski will return this September in Captain America #1. Marvel previously shared the news with io9.

Stracyznski has written fan-favorite stories including AMAZING SPIDER-MAN and THORand now he’s ready to embark on a new adventure with Marvel’s star-spangled hero! Alongside superstar artist Jesús Saiz (PUNISHER, DOCTOR STRANGE), the talented duo is ready to take Steve Rogers on an exhilarating new adventure.

Decades ago, Steve Rogers changed the world forever. Now powerful and insidious forces are assembling to ensure he never does it again. Past, present and future collide as the man out of time reckons with an existential threat determined to set the world on a darker path at any cost…

 Speaking with io9, Straczynski says, “Overall, the goal is to do some really challenging stories, some really fun stories, and get inside Steve’s head to see who he really is in ways that may not have been fully explored before. If folks like what I did with Peter in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, and Thor in, well… THOR, then they should give this a shot, because I’m really swinging for the bleachers in this one!”

 See the cover by Jesús Saiz below.

(2) ARTIFACTS OF AFROFUTURISM. The National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC is displaying “Afrofuturism: A History of Black Futures” through March 24, 2024. An online version of the exhibit is here.

Investigating Afrofuturist expression through art, music, activism and more, this exhibition explores and reveals Afrofuturism’s historic and poignant engagement with African American history and popular culture. From the enslaved looking to the cosmos for freedom to popular sci-fi stories inspiring Black astronauts, to the musical influence of Sun Ra, OutKast, Janelle Monae, P-Funk and more, this exhibition covers the broad and impactful spectrum of Afrofuturism.

A highlight of the exhibition is the Black Panther hero costume worn by the late Chadwick Boseman. The Black Panther is the first superhero of African descent to appear in mainstream American comics, and the film itself is the first major cinematic production based on the character.

The exhibition also utilizes select objects to elevate stories that speak to Black liberation and social equality, such as Trayvon Martin’s flight suit from Experience Aviation, and his childhood dream of being an astronaut.

Companion book: Afrofuturism: A History of Black FuturesNational Museum of African American History and Culture, Kevin Strait, and Kinshasha Holman Conwill

(3) SOMETIMES THEY DO GET WEARY. Mark Roth-Whitworth says, “I’m so tired of hearing how ‘character-driven’ stories are somehow ‘better’ than plot-driven, and I’ve written a rant, er, sorry, criticism.” “Character- or Plot-Driven – A False Dichotomy?”

As I’ve been developing as a writer, and submitting stories, I read and hear a lot about character-driven stories vs. plot-driven these days. Most novels seem to me to still are “plot-driven”, while a lot of shorter fiction that gets published in magazines is character-driven, or primarily thus, and I have issues with this.

Many years ago, in a long letter to my just-teenage children, speaking of people and relationships, I said that barring some life-changing event, whoever someone is at eighteen is who they will remain, only growing to be more of that. The result of that is that thinking someone is perfect, except for one little thing that you can fix… well, you can’t. In a story, the same is necessarily true….

(4) HAPPY WINNERS. Frank Wu and Jay Werkheiser are ecstatic to have won Analog’s AnLab Award for their novella “Communion” in the Jan 2022 issue as you can see in this photo taken by Brianna Wu. The winning cover was Eldar Zakirov’s artwork for the same story. Frank’s elevator pitch for the story is –

 A space ship is about to crash and a 50-km-long mag wire is an essential part of the drive. During the crash, the robot saves the wire – and the mission and his human captain – by wrapping the wire around his arm and using his own body as a heatfield!

Frank Wu and Jay Werkheiser with their certificates recognizing their Anlab-winning novella “Communion” in the Jan 2022 issue. Photo by Brianna Wu.

(5) THIS JOB IS NOT THAT EASY. “How to be a Regency Lady Sleuth” by Alison Goodman at CrimeReads.

…For instance, the Regency era – officially from 1811 to 1820—was well before England had a police force. So where does a lady sleuth get her official back up and assistance?

What’s more, record keeping was patchy at best and, if it did exist, was not centralised or easy to access. This was particularly the case for women because a vast majority of them could not read. Education, my dear fellow, is wasted on women—or at least that was the majority opinion of the time. How then, does a lady sleuth track down the information she needs to solve her mysteries?

So, when it came to written information, my lady sleuths had to be the kind of women of that era who would be feasibly taught to read, and secondly have access to the various places these records were kept. That is why I decided to make Lady Augusta (aka Gus), and Lady Julia part of the highest rank in Regency society, the aristocracy. At this rank, they would have a chance of some education, as well as having access to private libraries (public libraries as we know them were not yet in existence). They would also have the social clout and contacts to obtain information from other sources. At that time, most of the government officials were men from the gentry class or the aristocracy and since Gus and Julia move in those circles, they literally have friends in high place: excellent sources of information….

(6) BANNED IN 2023. The Los Angeles Times discusses each of “The 15 most banned books in America this school year” before moving on to a list of challenged classics which include these genre works:

“Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley. Modern Library’s editorial board ranked “Brave New World,” the 1932 novel about the discontents of a technologically-advanced future society, as the fifth most important novel of the 20th centuryNevertheless, the book was challenged as required reading in the Corona-Norco Unified School District in 1993 because it is “centered around negative activity.” The novel also was removed from a high school library in Foley, Ala., in 2000 after a parent complained that it showed contempt for religion, marriage and family.

“Animal Farm” by George Orwell. The 1945 allegorical novella has been a target of complaints for decades, according to the ALA. In 1987, “Animal Farm” was one of dozens of books banned in schools in Bay County, Fla. Then 44 parents, students and teachers filed a federal lawsuit, and the school board reversed the decision. ‘’The only thing we have succeeded in doing is making sure every child in Bay County reads the books we banned,’’ a board member told the Associated Press.

(7) BEAGLE Q&A. Shelf Awareness is “Reading with… Peter S. Beagle”

Book you’re an evangelist for:

The Time Traveler’s Guide to Medieval England by Ian Mortimer. If you’re going to write a historical novel, you’ve got to start with that one. It’s a fascinating book about the way that medieval England actually was, as opposed to the novels about it. It’s still a book that I go back to if I’m setting a story in anything like medieval England.

(8) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites listeners to dip into durian ice cream with William Shunn in Episode 199 of the Eating the Fantastic podcast.

William Shunn

It’s time to head to Anaheim, California to take a seat at the table with William Shunn, the first of five guests I managed to chat and chew with for Eating the Fantastic during last month’s Nebula Awards conference. I first met Bill in 1993 though his words alone, when I bought his short story “Colin and Ishmael in the Dark” for publication in Science Fiction Age magazine. We met in the flesh later that same year at the San Francisco Worldcon, and he’s been part of my life for the past 30 years.

Bill attended the Clarion Science Fiction Writers Workshop in 1985, when he was only 17. (A class which included Mary TurzilloGeoffrey Landis, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Resa Nelson, and other writers with whom you might be familiar.) In addition to being published in Science Fiction Age, he’s also appeared in Asimov’sAnalogF&SFRealms of Fantasy, and other magazines. In 2002, he was nominated for a Nebula in the category of novelette for “Dance of the Yellow-Breasted Luddites,” and a few years later hit the nomination trifecta when he was up for a Nebula, Hugo, and Sturgeon Award for his novella “Inclination,” which had been published in Asimov’s in 2006.

In addition, if you’re a writer, you might be familiar with what’s come to be called the “Shunn format,” a guide to proper manuscript preparation which first appeared online in 1995 and has since become the gold standard for numerous publications. His widely acclaimed memoir, The Accidental Terrorist: Confessions of a Reluctant Missionary, was published in 2015, and in addition to detailing the youthful indiscretion which prevents him from ever returning to Canada, explains how Clarion changed his life and helped him become the writer he is today.

We discussed what he hoped would happen when he arrived at the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writing Workshop when he was 17 vs. what actually did happen, how his post-Clarion homelife was haunted by Ray Bradbury, the time Kate Wilhelm critiqued his critiquers, how an early rejection from Playboy got him in big trouble, the way a tragedy scuttled the sale of his memoir to a major publisher, how he and Derryl Murphy collaborated on a novella without killing each other, and so much more.

(9) RAJNAR VAJRA-LOEB (1947-2023). Rajnar Vajra-Loeb, known to the sff field as author Rajnar Vajra, died May 16 at the age of 75. Memorial comments are being gathered on his funeral information webpage.

He twice won the Analog Readers Poll, in 2002 for the short story “Jake, Me, and the Zipper” , and in 2005 for his novella “Layna’s Mirror”.

His 2015 Hugo-nominated story “The Triple Sun: A Golden Age Tale” was on both the Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies slates, however, as reported by Chris Barkley at the time “he has vehemently disassociated himself from them. When other nominees dropped out of the Hugo Awards race, he bravely stayed in, because he believed in his story and vacating the nomination slot may have given the ballot yet another puppy candidate.”

He lived long enough to celebrate the “book birthday” of his latest novel Opening Wonders released on May 2.

(10) MEMORY LANE.

2019[Written by Cat Eldridge from a choice by Mike Glyer.]

Silvia Moreno-Garcia is a fantastic writer. Mexican born and raised, she moved to Canada in her twenties. Her debut novel, Signal to Noise, is a superb first novel. 

She’s the publisher of Innsmouth Free Press, a press devoted to weird fiction. With Lavie Tidhar, she edits The Jewish Mexican Literary Review

Gods of Jade and Shadow, the source of our Beginning, a historical fantasy, was published by Del Rey four years ago.  Gods of Jade and Shadow was nominated for a Nebula Award for Best Novel.

And now let’s go into our Beginning….

But what the lords wished was that they should not discover their names.—Popol Vuh, translated into English by Delia Goetz and Sylvanus Griswold Morley from the work by Adrian Recino

Some people are born under a lucky star, while others have their misfortune telegraphed by the eposition of the planets. Casiopea Tun, named after a constellation, was born under the most rotten star imaginable in the firmament. She was eighteen, penniless, and had grown up in Uukumil, a drab town where mule-drawn railcars stopped twice a week and the sun scorched out dreams. She was reasonable enough to recognize that many other young women lived in equally drab, equally small towns. However, she doubted that many other young women had to endure the living hell that was her daily life in grandfather Cirilo Leyva’s house. 

Cirilo was a bitter man, with more poison in his shriveled body than was in the stinger of a white scorpion. Casiopea tended to him. She served his meals, ironed his clothes, and combed his sparse hair. When the old brute, who still had enough strength to beat her over the head with his cane when it pleased him, was not yelling for his grandchild to fetch him a glass of water or his slippers, her aunts and cousins were telling Casiopea to do the laundry, scrub the floors, and dust the living room.

Casiopea, who had prayed at the age of ten for her cousin Martín to go off and live in another town, far from her, understood by now that God, if he existed, did not give a damn about her. What had God done for Casiopea, aside from taking her father from her? That quiet, patient clerk with a love for poetry, a fascination with Mayan and Greek mythology, a knack for bedtime stories. A man whose heart gave up one morning, like a poorly wound clock. His death sent Casiopea and her mother packing back to Grandfather’s house. Mother’s family had been charitable, if one’s definition of charity is that they were put immediately to work while their idle relatives twiddled their thumbs. 

Had Casiopea possessed her father’s pronounced romantic leanings, perhaps she might have seen herself as a Cinderella-like figure. But although she treasured his old books, the skeletal remains of his collection—especially the sonnets by Quevedo, wells of sentiment for a young heart—she had decided it would be nonsense to configure herself into a tragic heroine. Instead, she chose to focus on more pragmatic issues, mainly that her horrible grandfather, despite his constant yelling, had promised that upon his passing Casiopea would be the beneficiary of a modest sum of money, enough that it might allow her to move to Mérida.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born June 2, 1915 Lester Del Rey. Editor at Del Rey Books, the fantasy and science fiction imprint of Ballantine Books, along with his fourth wife Judy-Lynn del Rey. As regard his fiction, I’m fond of Rocket Journey and Police Your Own Planet, early works of his. His Jim Stanley series has much to say for it. And he got nominated for four Retro Hugos. (Died 1993.)
  • Born June 2, 1929 Norton Juster. Author of the much beloved Phantom Tollbooth and its less known variant, The Annotated Phantom Tollbooth. Adapted in 1970 into a quirky film, now stuck in development hell being remade again. He also wrote The Dot and the Line: A Romance in Lower Mathematics, a story he says was inspired by Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions. (Died 2021.)
  • Born June 2, 1937 Sally Kellerman. She makes the list for being Dr. Elizabeth Dehner in the superb episode of Trek “Where No Man Has Gone Before”. She also had one-offs on the Alfred Hitchcock HourThe Twilight ZoneThe Outer LimitsThe Invaders, and The Ray Bradbury Theater. She played Natasha Fatale in Boris and Natasha: The Movie. (Died 2022.)
  • Born June 2, 1941 Stacy Keach, 82. Though best known for playing hard-boiled Detective Mike Hammer, he’s got a long association with our genre starting with being The Mountain of the Cannibal God, an Italian horror film. Next up for him was Class of 1999 followed by voicing both Carl Beaumont / Voice of Phantasm in Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, a film I really, really likeMore horror, and a really silly title, await him in Children of the Corn 666: Isaac’s Return where The Hollow has a tasteful title which the Man with the Screaming Brain does not provide him. Storm War, also known as Weather Wars, is SF. And then there is Sin City: A Dame to Kill For which is a rather nice piece of film making. And yes, he’s been in a televised version of Macbeth playing Banquo. 
  • Born June 2, 1920 Bob Madle. Helped start his local sf club in 1934, went to what he considered to be the first-ever sf convention in 1936, and attended the first Worldcon (Nycon I) in 1939. Bob Madle and named the Hugo Awards. He was the first North American TAFF (Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund) delegate to an overseas con (Loncon, 1957). Twenty years later he was Fan Guest of Honor at the 1977 Worldcon (listen to his GoH speech here.) First Fandom has inducted him to their Hall of Fame, and given him the Moskowitz Award for collecting. He’s a winner of the Big Heart Award). This post about his centennial birthday in 2020 includes photos and a summary of his fannish life in his own words. (Died 2022.)
  • Born June 2, 1979 Morena Baccarin, 44. Very long genre history starting with portraying Inara Serra in Firefly and  Serenity; Adria in the Stargate SG-1 series and the Stargate: The Ark of Truth; Anna in the 2009 version of the series V; Vanessa in Deadpool and Deadpool 2; and Dr. Leslie Thompkins in Gotham.
  • Born June 2, 1982 Jewel Staite, 41. Best known as the engineer Kaylee Frye in the Firefly verse. She was Jennifer Keller in Stargate Atlantis, Catalina in the Canadian series Space Cases, Tiara VanHorn in Honey, I Shrunk the Kids: The TV Show and “Becca” Fisher in Flash Forward. Genre one-offs? Oh yes: The Odyssey (twice), Are You Afraid of The Dark (again twice), The X-FilesSo WeirdSabrina: The Animated SeriesThe ImmortalSeven DaysStargate AtlantisSupernaturalLegends of TomorrowThe Order and The Magicians.

(12) A DOCKET FOR DEMETRIOUS. “J.R.R. Tolkien’s Trust Sues Author For Selling ‘Derivative’ Sequel To ‘Lord of the Rings’ As $250 Million Battle Heats Up”Radar Online has the story. “The legal moves comes weeks after Demetrious Polychron filed his own $250 million lawsuit against the Trust, Amazon and Jeff Bezos.”

J.R.R. Tolkien’s estate has filed a bombshell lawsuit accusing a writer of ripping off the late author’s iconic Lord of The Rings series and is demanding his books be taken out of stores, RadarOnline.com has learned.

According to court documents obtained by RadarOnline.com, The Tolkien Trust, which is responsible for managing the intellectual property of the late Professor J. R.R. Tolkien, is suing a man named Demetrious Polychron.

In the suit, the Trust said the lawsuit was brought due to Polychron’s “willful and blatant violation” of its copyright interests in the Lord of the Rings franchise.

The Trust said despite the author being aware of its rights in Tolkien’s work, he decided to “write, publish, market and sell a blatantly infringing derivative sequel to the Tolkien Trilogy entitled The Fellowship of the King (the “Infringing Work”). In addition to clearly mimicking the title of the first book in the Tolkien Trilogy, the Infringing Work constitutes a blatant, wide-ranging and comprehensive misappropriation of Professor Tolkien’s creative opus.”

The Trust said its aware that Polychron plans to release up to six additional books — all based on Tolkien’s characters.

“The Infringing Work is currently being offered for sale on various online platforms in the United States for $17.99 – $26.99 a copy,” the suit read.

The suit explained, “Neither Professor Tolkien nor the Tolkien Estate has ever authorized any written sequels to the Tolkien Trilogy. Not only was the Infringing Work unauthorized, but the Tolkien Estate had already expressly refused the [Polychron’s] request to publish any work of this nature, in keeping with its longstanding policy.”

(13) PAYING THOSE STORY IOUs. Charlie Jane Anders demonstrates with her own novel that “Revision is the Process of Going from General to Specific” at Happy Dancing.

I feel as if a big part of revision is going from the general to the specific. My first drafts, at least, always include a lot of details that are kind of fuzzy. Sometimes, a piece of information changes every time it comes up, because I haven’t made up my mind yet what the actual real version is, and I’m just hedging my bets. Sometimes there’s a highly specific piece of backstory, front story or side story, but it’s just really a placeholder — a supporting character is a stock character, or someone’s job is merely a sitcom job that doesn’t feel like a real employment situation. And sometimes, things are just left so vague that they could be anything, or there’s no information whatsoever.

So when I revise, I try to nail things down more. On one level, this is just a process of deciding on stuff. Where did this character grow up? Who were their parents? What kind of job do they have, and what specifically does the job ask of them? And so on….

(14) AWARD-WORTHY VISIT TO THE SPIDER-VERSE. Variety’s Clayton Davis makes the case why “’Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse’ Should Be a Best Picture Oscar Contender”.

Don’t tell me “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” is merely a cartoon. It’s a visionary work that redefines what the animation medium can achieve, sitting alongside the handful of sequels such as “The Dark Knight” and “The Empire Strikes Back” that elevate their franchises by pushing them in surprising new directions.

On a personal level, this animated second installment of the web-slinging superhero is the closest I’ve ever come to seeing an accurate depiction of my life and culture on a movie screen – well, with a few fantastic elements added into the mix. That’s invaluable.

“Across the Spider-Verse” takes place a year after the events of the previous film with Miles Morales (a.k.a. Spider-Man) facing a new threat. Unfortunately, it’s one that causes him to interact with a new group of Spider-People from across the multiverse.

So why did I respond so deeply to this superhero story? Like Miles, I’m made up of an exciting ethnic mix of Puerto Rican and Black parents brought together in the melting pot that is New York City. Neither of us possesses the acceptable amount of Spanish fluency that our fellow Boricuas require. Nonetheless, we have a weakness for fried platanos, as well as an appreciation for our heritage. Just hearing the word “bendición,” a standard greeting and farewell term used in Latino culture, used in “Across the Spider-Verse, ” filled my eyes with tears and pride….

(15) COMMUNICAT. Salon reports “A ‘talking’ cat is giving scientists insight into how felines think”. And if you think only a hungry plant will say “Feed me”, stick around, it won’t be long until this cat does it.

…Considering Billi’s feline status, Baker was naturally a bit skeptical at first.

“I was concerned because they [the buttons] were quite large for a little tiny kitty, and I was not sure that she was actually going to be heavy enough to press them,” Baker said. “So I started with a word that I’d really not recommend that you start with, which is ‘food,’ because it becomes very motivating for them. And Billi loves food.”

Baker’s concerns quickly washed away once it became clear that Billi was able to press the button “food” — which she appeared to enjoy doing perhaps a little too much.

“She was definitely heavy enough for it,” Baker said. “And then I later regretted starting with food because it kind of backfired on me, but it definitely got the ball rolling.”

Today, Billi has 50 words on her board, and — like Bunny — is part of the ongoing research project called TheyCanTalk, whose goal is to understand if animals can communicate with humans through AAC devices. While the study is mostly made up of dogs, about 5 percent of the animals using AAC devices are now felines. It turns out that many cats have been successful at using the device.

“They have this reputation of just doing what they want and not really caring what the humans are doing, and I think this is a great opportunity to see that they actually are paying attention,” Smith said. “Seeing that they can be engaged, that they’re not just cat automatons, that aren’t driven by instinct 24/7 can function a great deal positively for their role in other studies.”

(16) PAYING DIVIDENDS ON BORROWED TIME.  Ingenuity, NASA’s record-breaking Mars helicopter, continues to fly two years after scientists expected it to fail. “NASA plays hide-and-seek with unrelenting Mars helicopter Ingenuity” in the Washington Post.

…On April 2, Ingenuity soared 52 feet up into the Martian sky — a record height for the drone — to take a suborbital photo of Mars’s landscape.

After landing, it disappeared. When scientists attempted to upload instructions for a subsequent flight, Ingenuity’s radio sign was gone.

Scientists eventually located Ingenuity after six days of searching as the helicopter’s companion on Mars, the Perseverance rover, crested a ridge and drove closer to where the helicopter had landed.

Ingenuity, controlled via radio signals relayed from Perseverance, completed its five-flight mission — a simple series to prove that the helicopter’s design would work in the thin Martian atmosphere — in May 2021. Then, Tzanetos’s team received approval to keep flying.

“At that point, we’re on borrowed time,” Tzanetos said. “None of the mechanisms were designed to survive longer than that.”

Somehow, they did — for months and months, and dozens more flights. By May 2022, it seemed as if Ingenuity’s miraculous story would finally plummet down to (Martian) earth. Winter was setting in, and NASA feared the lower temperatures would cause Ingenuity’s solar-charged batteries to fail, or even freeze overnight.

The helicopter entered a low-power state after its 28th flight in late April of that year, and scientists told The Post they weren’t sure if it would fly again.

Incredibly, Ingenuity’s delicate parts stood up to the Martian cold. But NASA still faced the challenge of reconnecting with the helicopter every time its components froze, Tzanetos said. The Ingenuity team adjusted by using data on Martian sunrises to calculate when the helicopter would thaw out each morning and regain enough charge to power on….

(17) CAN WE MOVE EARTH ACROSS SPACE? [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Shades of Stephen Baxter in this week’s PBS Space Time when Matt O’Dowd asks can we move planet Earth across the Universe?

Interstellar travel is horrible-what with the cramped quarters of your spaceship and only the thin hull separating you from deathly cold and deadly cosmic rays. Much safer to stay on here Earth with our gloriously habitable biosphere, protective magnetic field, and endless energy from the Sun. But what if we could have the best of all worlds? No pun intended. What if we could turn our entire solar system into a spaceship and drive the Sun itself around the galaxy? Well, I don’t know if we definitely can, but we might not not be able to.

(18) TALES FROM THE ZONE – ROADSIDE PICNIC. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] In this week’s Media Death Cult Moid Moidelhoff considers Roadside Picnic. Roadside Picnic is in the Goldilocks zone, it is a perfect balance of a straight narrative that requires nothing more than standard plot and characters to make sense. But the sub-text is as thick as porridge… “Tales From The Zone – Roadside Picnic”.

[Thanks to Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Steven H Silver, Rich Lynch, Jennifer Hawthorne, Scott Edelman, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter. John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jake.]

Pixel Scroll 5/2/23 Rejoice, Glory Is Ours, Our Pixels Have Not Died In Vain. Their Graves Need No Flowers, The Files Have Recorded Their Names

(1) WRITERS GUILD STRIKE BEGINS. “Hollywood writers strike over streaming pay after talks fail” reports the LA Times.

A festering dispute over how writers are compensated in the streaming era came to a head Monday night, as leaders of the Writers Guild of America called on their members to stage Hollywood’s first strike in 15 years.

The boards of directors for the East and West Coast divisions of the WGA voted unanimously to call a strike effective 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, the union said in a statement.

Thousands of WGA members were set to walk picket lines across Los Angeles, New York and other cities Tuesday after the union was unable to reach a last-minute accord with the major studios on a new three-year contract to replace one that expired Monday night.

“The companies’ behavior has created a gig economy inside a union workforce, and their immovable stance in this negotiation has betrayed a commitment to further devaluing the profession of writing,” the WGA said in a statement. “No such deal could ever be contemplated by this membership.”

In a statement, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers said it offered “generous increases in compensation for writers as well as improvements in streaming residuals.”

The alliance, which bargains on behalf of the major studios, said it was prepared to improve the offer but was “unwilling to do so because of the magnitude of other proposals still on the table that the Guild continues to insist upon.” The alliance said primary sticking points included the guild’s demands over mandatory staffing levels and duration of employment.

Writers are seeking a larger slice of the streaming pie that has dramatically transformed the television business. They voted by a historic margin in favor — 98% to 2% — to grant a strike authorization sought by their leaders if they couldn’t reach a deal on a new film and TV contract on behalf of 11,500 members.

The walkout, which could last for weeks or months, is expected to halt much of TV and film production nationwide and reverberate across Southern California, where prop houses, caterers, florists and others heavily depend on the entertainment economy. The previous writers strike in 2007 roiled the industry and lasted 100 days….

(2) IT’S ON. WGA member Craig Miller has a lot of experience with strikes over the decades, which he shares on Facebook before making predictions about the latest one.

At a WGA Board of Directors Meeting in 1988, my membership (among a group of others) was approved by the Board. At that same meeting, the Board voted to go out on strike. “Congratulations! You’re now a member. Grab a sign!”

Despite being a new member, I soon found myself a Strike Team Captain, coordinating a group of members on when and where they’d been assigned to picket, making sure they were informed of any status changes in the strike and negotiations, etc. This because Larry DiTillio and other animation writer friends had already been members and themselves were involved in “working” the strike. I still have the “Band of Brothers – Henry V” medal given out by our then-Executive Director Brian Walton to many of us involved with that strike….

(3) LITERARY AUTOPSY. Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki introduced this article on Facebook with the comment, “I really really wanted to dislike this piece. With the name. I honestly tried. But by the end of it, there’s almost not one thing that I can definitely disagree with, without reaching enough, to be completely dishonest.” “The Death Of Nigerian Literature” by Oris Aigbokhaevbolo at Efiko Magazine.

…As it was once, so it is again: Any young Nigerian stubborn, foolish, and blind enough to insist on writing as a career must go it on her own, with neither a national guide nor an international map—so that you could say that to be a Nigerian writer today is to live a peculiar loneliness. But that’s not the whole truth. Nigerian writers are very much united—in spirit—because whether based outside of the country or inside of it, the Nigerian writer is not heavily involved in the production of literary writing anymore. To be a Nigerian writer these days is not to be a writer at all. To be a Nigerian writer is to be a teacher abroad, a tech employee, a “comms” consultant, a social media handler. Although a meeting was never held, we agree that there are more important things to do, to be, and, to become….

(4) WHEN THREE FEET IS NOT A YARD. Bradford, a city that has had two UK Eastercons, annually holds the Bradford Literature Festival. They used AI art for their promotional material and it’s caused a bit of upset. Twitter user Emmaillustrate noted the 3 feet in one image…. 

The BLF tweeted this statement in reply:

“BLF appreciates that AI is a very fast moving and contentious subject right now for all creatives. Our creative agency, Lazenby Brown, used AI for early source images which their illustrator then augmented to create our beautiful new artwork. We believe that these images fully reflect our inclusive ethos, our city and its people. We choose to work directly with illustrators, and a huge range of creative individuals from across the globe, to share, amplify and develop creative discussion and inclusion.”

(5) FUTURE TENSE. “Escape Worlds”, about video games, uncanny personalized media, and the futility of escape, by K Chess, author of the fantastic novel Famous Men Who Never Lived, is the April 2023 entry in the monthly series of short stories from Future Tense and Arizona State University’s Center for Science and the Imagination about how technology and science will change our lives.

 It was published along with a response essay “How designers personalize video games” by video game designer Liz Fiacco, who has worked on games including The Last of Us: Part II and Kena: Bridge of Spirits.

It changed my life. These are the words that every working artist, no matter the medium, wants to hear at some point. Everyone has at least one piece of art—a formative album, a deeply felt novel, a visit to grand architecture, a powerful movie—that strikes them at the right time, in the right way, so that the impact lasts forever.

While a novelist or film crew have to do their best to make a story that is personal and honest and hope that it is relatable, game designers have the opportunity to co-author an experience with the players. This opportunity for participation is what drew me into the craft. A game can mold itself to make moments strikingly personal, unique, and, yes, life-changing. There’s less reliance on happenstance that the right person will meet your game at the right time; as a game developer, I have tools to reach out and meet each player where they are….

(6) CHEAP AT TWICE THE PRICE. CBR.com’s Isaac Williams names the “10 Best Sci-Fi Series With The Worst Special Effects”.

Science fiction is more demanding than many other genres of fiction. Its fantastical technology, esoteric settings, and non-human creatures all require special effects to produce. Science fiction media has higher budget requirements even before factoring in cast members, props, and more.

This is especially true of television, which has to create more material than a film with less budget. Some of sci-fi’s most beloved properties can be found on television despite the inherent challenges. Many television shows do admirable work with their budget and create realistic special effects. In other cases, the effects are a weak point despite the show’s quality….

At number nine on his list is —

Doctor Who

Plenty of beloved sci-fi shows are decades old. This naturally limits their special effects, with CGI coming on leaps and bounds in recent years. Nonetheless, many shows look good, particularly for their time, through heavy use of practical effects over computer-generated ones. Doctor Who‘s effects, however, have always been inconsistent.

Classic Doctor Who monsters range from the iconic and intimidating design of the Daleks to obvious props spray-painted a strange color. Even the modern version isn’t safe. The early seasons of Doctor Who‘s reboot are infamous for their cheesy and unrealistic monsters. This doesn’t detract from the show’s strong writing in either era, however.

(7) MEMORY LANE.

2018[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

Peter Watts is one of those authors that I’ve enjoyed immensely whenever I’ve encountered his fiction which was fairly often. He started his long career almost a quarter of a century ago with his Starfish novel. It generated two sequels, Maelstromβehemoth: β-Max (and βehemoth: Seppuku). The latter are actually one novel that the publisher split into two works. 

Really mild spoiler here. I say only because it’s not revealed in the Beginning.

The Freeze-Frame Revolution is one of the novels in the Sunflower series which concerns the voyage of a jumpgate-building ship named Eriophora

End really mild spoiler.

It was published by Tachyon Publishing in 2018. It was nominated for a John W. Campbell Memorial Award. 

And now for a most interesting Beginning….

BACK WHEN WE FIRST SHIPPED OUT I played this game with myself. Every time I thawed, I’d tally up the length of our journey so far; then check to see when we’d be if Eriophora were a time machine, if we’d been moving back through history instead of out through the cosmos. Oh look: all the way back to the Industrial Revolution in the time it took us to reach our first build. Two builds took us to the Golden Age of Islam, seven to the Shang Dynasty. 

I guess it was my way of trying to keep some kind of connection, to measure this most immortal of endeavors on a scale that meat could feel in the gut. It didn’t work out, though. Did exactly the opposite in fact, ended up rubbing my nose in the sheer absurd hubris of even trying to contain the Diaspora within the pitiful limits of earthbound history. 

For starters, the Chimp didn’t thaw anyone out until the seventh gate, almost six thousand years into the mission; I slept through almost all of human civilization, didn’t even wake up until the fall of the Minoans. I think Kai may have been on deck for the Pyramid of Cheops, but by the time Chimp called me back from the crypt we were all the way into the last Ice Age. After that we were passing through the Paleolithic: five thousand gates built—only three hundred requiring meat on deck—and we’d barely finished our first circuit of the Milky Way. 

I gave up after Australopithecus. It had been a stupid game, a child’s game, doomed from the start. We were just cavemen. Only the mission was transcendent. 

I don’t know exactly what moved me to pick up that kiddie pastime again. I’d learned my lesson the first time around, and space itself has only grown vaster in the meantime. But I gave it another shot, after everything went south: called up the clocks, subtracted the centuries. We’ve been around the disk thirty-two times now, left over a hundred thousand gates in our wake. We’ve scoured so many raw materials that God, looking down from overhead, could probably trace out our path by the jagged spiral of tiny bubbles sucked clean of ice and gravel. 

Sixty-six million years, by the old calendar. That’s how long we’ve been on the road. All the way back to the end of the Cretaceous. 

Give or take a few millennia, the revolution happened on the day one of Eriophora’s pint-sized siblings punched Earth in the face and wiped out the dinosaurs. I don’t know why, but I find that kind of funny.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born May 2, 1921 Satyajit Ray. His Professor Trilokeshwar Shonku stories , throughly throughly Hindi, are based on a character created by Arthur Conan Doyle,  Professor Challenger. You can find most of his fiction translated into English in Exploits of Professor Shonku: The Diary of a Space Traveller and Other Stories (Satyajit Ray and Gopa Majumdar). (Died 1992.)
  • Born May 2, 1924 Theodore Bikel. He was on Next Generation playing the foster parent to Worf in the “Family” episode playing CPO Sergey Rozhenko, retired. That and playing Lenonn in Babylon 5: In the Beginning are the roles I want to note. Bikel also guest-appeared on The Twilight Zone in “Four O’Clock” as Oliver Crangle. Well there is one minor other role he did — he voiced Aragorn in the animated The Return of the King. By the way, Theodore Bikel’s Treasury of Yiddish Folk & Theatre Songs is quite excellent. (Died 2015.)
  • Born May 2, 1925 John Neville. I’ve mentioned before that Kage considered Terry Gilliam’s The Adventures of Baron Munchausen to be one of her favorite films and John Neville was one of the reasons that she did so. You can read her review here. Among his other genre roles, Neville had a prominent recurring role in The X-Files as The Well Manicured Man. And he showed up playing Sir Isaac Newton on The Next Generation in the “Descent” episode. (Died 2011.)
  • Born May 2, 1938 Bob Null. Very long-time LASFS member who was the club’s VP for an equally long period. Fancyclopedia 3 say that “He also sat on the Board of Directors, and frequently handled logistics for local conventions including both Loscon and local Worldcons, and was always one of those nearly invisible hard-working people who make fandom work. He is a Patron Saint of LASFS.” (Died 2010.)
  • Born May 2, 1942 Alexis Kanner. His first genre appearance was on The Prisoner where he so impressed McGoohan in the “Living in Harmony” episode that he created a specific role for him in the series finale, “Fall Out” where he stands trial. He also has an uncredited role in “The Girl Who Was Death” in that series. His final known acting role was as Sor in Nightfall based off the Asimov story of the same name. (Died 2003.)
  • Born May 2, 1946 David Suchet, 77. Rather obviously better remembered as Hercule Poirot, and I’d be remiss not to note all twelve series and specials are available on the BritBox streaming service. Yes, it’s on my list on things to watch. Now, he does show up on in a Twelfth Doctor story, “Knock Knock,” simply called Landlord.  Don’t let don’t deceive you as he has a major role there. He’s appeared in some other genre work from time times to time including Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the ApesHarry and the HendersonsDr. No: The Radio PlayWing CommanderTales of the Unexpected and Peter Pan Goes Wrong
  • Born May 2, 1946 Leslie S. Klinger, 77. He is a noted literary editor and annotator of classic genre fiction. He is the editor of The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes, a three-volume edition of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes fiction with extensive annotations, and an introduction by John le Carré. I’d also like to single out him for his The Annotated Sandman, Vol. 1, The New Annotated Frankenstein and The New Annotated H. P. Lovecraft

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • Tom Gauld has an encouraging word.
  • Tom Gauld eavesdrops on an editorial meeting.

(10) DINNER THEATRE. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] At Vulture, a collection of writers describe how they would fillet, stuff, sauté, roast, skewer, or otherwise prepare for your dining pleasure the supporting cast of Disney’s new, live action, The Little Mermaid. Mind you, these are primarily CGI characters. Primarily, but not completely. “How to Prepare and Eat The Little Mermaid Cast”. [Editorial note: Some kind of trigger warning may be called for here.]

Flounder.

In the interest of preserving as much of Flounder’s character and dignity as possible, my recommendation here is to prepare and serve him whole. It’s important to capture the essential qualities of each ingredient, and the essential quality here is “CGI fish with a face designed to communicate a bare minimum of human expression,” so be careful to keep the whole head on during the cooking process. Beyond that, you have a few possible routes: Score the skin and broil him if you’re more focused on a crispy flounder skin, but stuff and roast him if you’re more excited about tender flounder flesh. I’m personally into the roasting model, and my preference would be to stuff Flounder’s insides with lemon, garlic, and as many fresh herbs as you can cram in there — dill is classic, but any combination you like will work — then roast him on a baking sheet. If you wanted to get very fancy, though, you could throw some Sebastian in there for a double-seafood treat! —Kathryn VanArendonk 

(11) JEOPARDY! [Item by David Goldfarb.] You wouldn’t think there’d be much SFF content in a “Nonfiction” category, but at the $1200 level (the middle, this being Double Jeopardy):

Nonfiction, 1200: In Jo Walton’s novel “The Just City”, Athene creates a community based on this Plato work of philosophy

Nobody was able to guess “The Republic”.

I’m pretty sure that this is the first time a book I beta-read has been mentioned on the show.

(12) AVOIDING MARTIAN POTHOLES. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] The Mars rover Curiosity has been in operation for about eleven and a half years, but that doesn’t mean it can’t learn a little something from a younger sibling. Perseverance, which is only a little over five years into its mission, has more modern obstacle avoidance/navigation software. Lessons from this have been incorporated into the latest software update for Curiosity. “How A Software Update Could Help The Curiosity Rover Travel Across Mars Faster” at SlashGear.

As advanced as the robotic rovers which explore Mars are, one thing that might surprise you is how slowly they travel. The NASA Curiosity rover, for example, has a top speed of less than 0.1 mph, far less than the typical human walking speed of 3 mph. Even though it could theoretically travel more than one hundred meters in a day, it typically travels just a few hundred meters per month.

That’s because the drivers who control the rover are very careful with it, avoiding any hazards which could potentially damage the rover — being especially aware of potential harm to its wheels, which are already damaged from its 11 years of travel across the Red planet. They need to avoid obstacles like large boulders and potential dangers like sharp rocks named gator backs for their rough surfaces, while still visiting sites of interest like climbing up the steep slopes of Mount Sharp, also known as Aeolis Mons, a mountain located within the crater whose layers represent millions of years of deposits….

(13) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Ryan George explains why “Psychic Powers Always Give You A Little Nosebleed”. Um, since you asked, yes, this is a grotesque set of visuals.

[Thanks to Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Joey Eschrich, You Didn’t Get This From Me, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Patrick Morris Miller.]

Pixel Scroll 12/10/22 Pixel Was A Scrollin’ Stone

(1) LEARNEDLEAGUE. [Item by David Goldfarb.] After a long drought, we get our second and third in the space of two days!

LL95 match day 22 Q3: What 1898 novel, famous in its own right, is also famous for its presentation in the October 30, 1938 installment of the CBS radio series “Mercury Theater on the Air”?

Filers no doubt will readily identify this as The War of the Worlds, and LLamas knew it too, with an 83% get rate.

Same match day, question 5: “SDCIWC” is an initialism common to many players of the roleplaying game Dungeons & Dragons. Per the game’s original 1974 rules, the first four letters stand for Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, and Intelligence. What do either of the final two letters stand for?

This was Wisdom or Charisma. Get rate was 65%, with 6% of players giving the most common wrong answer “Courage”.

(2) FTC HANGS UP ON CALL OF DUTY. “F.T.C. Sues to Block Microsoft’s $69 Billion Acquisition of Activision” – the New York Times covers the government’s grounds for a suit.

The Federal Trade Commission, in one of the most aggressive actions taken by federal regulators in decades to check the power of the tech industry’s giants, on Thursday sued to block Microsoft’s $69 billion acquisition of the video game maker Activision Blizzard.

The F.T.C. said that the deal would harm consumers because Microsoft could use Activision’s blockbuster games like Call of Duty to lure gamers from rivals. The agency’s commissioners voted 3to 1 to approve filing the suit.

The decision is a blow to the expansion of Microsoft’s video game business, which has become its most important consumer unit and topped $16 billion in annual sales during the most recent fiscal year. For the F.T.C. chair, Lina Khan, a legal scholar who rocketed to fame after she wrote an article criticizing Amazon, the lawsuit will test whether her aggressive plan to rein in the power of Big Tech can survive in the courts….

(3) YOUNG WOLVES. Wolf Pack, the newest release by Edo van Belkom, is the inspiration behind a new TV series coming to Paramount+ on January 26, 2023.

Nothing gets between a wolf and its pack…

Most of the time, Noble, Argus, Harlan and Tora are like any other teenagers. Prowling the halls of their high school in search of new crushes and true friendships, all while trying to keep up their grades. Except these teens are anything but ordinary…

Discovered as wolf cubs in the wilderness of Redstone Forest, the pack knows their adoptive parents are the only humans they can trust with their shape-shifting secret. So whenever the siblings want to wolf around, they race to the forest to run—and relish their special bond. Until the terrible day a TV crew films their shocking transformation—and Tora is captured by a scientist determined to reveal her supernatural abilities to the world.

Now the brothers will do anything to get their sister back. Even if it means taking their powers to a whole new level by becoming werewolves for the very first time–something their parents warned them never to attempt. But once the teens go to the dark side, will they ever make it back to the only life they’ve ever known?

Available on Amazon.ca and Amazon.com.

Bram Stoker and Aurora Award-winner Edo van Belkom is the author of over 200 stories of horror, science fiction, fantasy, and mystery. As an editor, he has four anthologies to his credit that include two books for young adults, Be Afraid! (A Canadian Library Association Young Adult Book of the Year finalist) and Be Very Afraid! (An Aurora Award winner — Best Work in English).

(4) ARTIFICIAL STUDENT INTELLIGENCE. The Atlantic’s article “ChatGPT Will End High-School English” is mostly paywalled, but there’s the beginning:

Teenagers have always found ways around doing the hard work of actual learning. CliffsNotes date back to the 1950s, “No Fear Shakespeare” puts the playwright into modern English, YouTube offers literary analysis and historical explication from numerous amateurs and professionals, and so on. For as long as those shortcuts have existed, however, one big part of education has remained inescapable: writing. Barring outright plagiarism, students have always arrived at that moment when they’re on their own with a blank page, staring down a blinking cursor, the essay waiting to be written.

Now that might be about to change. The arrival of OpenAI’s ChatGPT, a program that generates sophisticated text in response to any prompt you can imagine, may signal the end of writing assignments altogether—and maybe even the end of writing as a gatekeeper, a metric for intelligence, a teachable skill.

If you’re looking for historical analogues, this would be like the printing press, the steam drill, and the light bulb having a baby, and that baby having access to the entire corpus of human knowledge and understanding. My life—and the lives of thousands of other teachers and professors, tutors and administrators—is about to drastically change….

(5) DEL TORO’S PINOCCHIO. Nicholas Barber’s review for the BBC “Pinocchio: The scariest children’s story ever written” includes spoilers. Like these in the very first paragraph:

Two major Pinocchio films premiered this year, but it isn’t too difficult to tell them apart. One of them is Robert Zemeckis’s live-action remake of the 1940 Walt Disney cartoon, with Tom Hanks as a cuddly Geppetto, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt providing the voice of Jiminy Cricket. The other, directed by Guillermo del Toro, has Geppetto’s flesh-and-blood son being killed by a World War Two bomb, Geppetto (David Bradley) carving a wooden boy in a drunken fury, and Mussolini’s fascists ruling over Italy. And then there are the deaths, plural, of the title character. “Pinocchio dies in our film three or four times,” del Toro tells BBC Culture, “and has a dialogue with Death, and Death teaches him that the only way you can really have a human existence is if you have death at the end of it. There are roughly 60 versions of Pinocchio on film, and I would bet hard money that that doesn’t exist in any of the other 60.”…

(6) GARY FRIEDKIN (1952-2022). Actor Gary Friedkin, who made his film debut as a four-foot-tall Munchkin in the 1981 comedy Under the Rainbow, died December 2 of Covid complications. His other genre appearances include, uncredited, in Blade Runner and as an Ewok in Return of the Jedi.

(7) MEMORY LANE.

1994 [By Cat Eldridge.] Dorothy L Sayers

Now we have a statue of a mystery writer which you will notice includes her SJW credential. 

The statue of Dorothy L Sayers and stands in Newland Street, Witham, opposite the Witham Library, and also opposite her house.

The statue was cast in bronze, about six and feet tall tall, by the Ardbronze Foundry and designed by John Doubleday, the sculptor who did the Sherlock Holmes sculptures we talked about in the Scroll last night. It was erected in 1994. 

An amusing note: several commenters online say that you can see that quite a few children and even adults like to pet Blitz, Sayer’s feline companion — he is now quite shiny on top!

A very, very not amusing note: it was privately funded through sale of much smaller statues as the British government didn’t think she was worthy of have a statue and wouldn’t fund it saying that she lacked literary worth. Fans of Ngaio Marsh need not apply. 

The plinth bears the inscription: Dorothy L. Sayers 1893 – 1957 and the name John Doubleday, Sculptor with the foundry name.

Witham Library holds a reference collection of all of her works, press-clippings, all of her reviews and letters in the Dorothy L Sayers Centre, which is jointly managed by Essex Libraries and the Dorothy L Sayers Society, and which is held in a specially outfitted room on the upper floor.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 10, 1815 Ada Lovelace. English mathematician and writer, principally known for her work on Charles Babbage’s proposed mechanical general-purpose computer, the Analytical Engine. Genre usage includes William Gibson and Bruce Sterling’s The Difference Engine and S.M. Stirling’s The Peshawar Lancers. (Died 1852.)
  • Born December 10, 1824 George MacDonald. Scottish author I think best known for Phantastes: A Faerie Romance for Men and Women and The Princess and The Goblin. His writings have been cited as a major literary influence by many notable authors including C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, G. K. Chesterton and Madeleine L’Engle to name but a few who mention him. The Waterboys titled their Room to Roam album after a passage in Phantastes. (Died 1905.)
  • Born December 10, 1903 Mary Norton. Author of The Borrowers which won the 1952 Carnegie Medal from the Library Association, recognizing the novel as the year’s outstanding children’s book by a British author. She would continue to write these novels for three decades with Hallmark turning it into a film in the early seventies. Her novels The Magic Bed Knob; or, How to Become a Witch in Ten Easy Lessons and Bonfires and Broomsticks would be adapted into the Disney film Bedknobs and Broomsticks in the same period. (Died 1992.)
  • Born December 10, 1907 Graves Gladney. An illustrator known for his cover paintings for Street & Smith pulp magazines, especially The Shadow. He produced all the covers from April 1939 to the end of 1941, and here’s one of his covers from June 1st, 1939. It’s worth noting that when he replaced The Shadow‘s cover artist George Rozen who did a more fantastical approach to the covers, Gladney depicted an actual scene that Walter Gibson had written in a story inside. (Died 1976.)
  • Born December 10, 1927 Anthony Coburn. Australian writer and producer who spent most of his career living and working in the U.K. He was closely involved in the earliest days of Who to the extent that it’s believed it was his idea for the Doctor’s travelling companion, Susan, to be The Doctor’s granddaughter.  He wrote four scripts for the show, of which only An Unearthly Child was used. (Died 1977.)
  • Born December 10, 1953 Janny Wurts, 69. Illustrator and writer.  She’s won three Chesley Awards, plus a HOMer Award for her Servant of the Empire novel. I strongly recommend the Empire trilogy that she co-authored with Raymond E. Feist, and her excellent That Way Lies Camelot collection was nominated for a BFA.
  • Born December 10, 1984 Helen Oyeyemi, 38. I like it when a Birthday results in my adding to my audiobook listening list. She’s resident in Prague now and her take on European folktales that surround her there is particularly sharp in Mr. Fox, which was nominated for an Otherwise Award, off that well known tale. And White is for Witching has all the makings of a damn fine haunted house story. Now one should not overlook her Icarus Girl, her first novel, which is fascinating. I’ve not encountered Gingerbread, her latest novel. 

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • The Flying McCoys shows a 20th Century answer to a 19th predicament that may not end as well for Tiny Tim.
  • Tom Gauld gives season’s greetings to a UFO.
  • In another cartoon, Tom Gauld renders a brutal translation of a familiar academic conversation.

(10) IT ONCE WAS WET. Yesterday’s Science journal reports from Mars: “Organic geochemistry in Jezero crater”.

The Perseverance rover has investigated the floor of Jezero crater on Mars, finding that it consists of igneous rocks that were modified by reactions with liquid water (aqueous alteration). Scheller et al. used the rover to perform Raman and fluorescence spectroscopy of rocks at two locations within the crater. They identified the presence of organic molecules, including aromatics with one and two benzene rings. The presence of perchlorates allowed the authors to set a limit of more than 2 billion years for the last time water filled the crater. Carbonates and sulphates were also found. The results demonstrate that the rocks in Jezero crater contain a record of ancient organic geochemistry.

Primary research paper here.

(11) VIDEO OF THE DAY. How It Should Have Ended presents “How Black Adam Should Have Ended”.

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

Pixel Scroll 11/26/22 A Pixel Short And A Scroll Late

(1) THE NEW NUMBER ONE. The ever-widening circle of people who are hearing about the death of beloved sf author Greg Bear has resulted in File 770’s obituary notice “Greg Bear (1951-2022)” becoming the site’s most-read post ever. It passed 55,000 hits today.

The previous two record-holders were both from 2015, “Sunday Business Meeting at Sasquan” and “Viewing the Remains of Bradbury’s Home”, each with over 50K hits.  

(2) TOASTS TO GREG BEAR. Also, today at 4:21 p.m. in each time zone people have been offering a rolling toast to Greg Bear, and some have posted photos – like Walter Jon Williams on Facebook.  

Astrid Bear’s own comment on Facebook details what was in her glass:

I sit here near Seattle WA as the skies darken. It’s been an overcast day with occasional rain, so there is no hope of a golden sunset here at ground level. In my glass is a wee dram of Zaya rum from Trinidad and Tobago, one of Greg’s favorites. I am hearted to consider this toast rolling along the globe as sunset travels westward. I know people will be toasting in Australia, Europe, and the Americas, as each in their turn see the shadows draw long.

The memories of Greg will remain with those of us who knew and loved him for many years to come. His books will live on for many more years, even centuries. And that is a grand thing.

To Greg!

——–

Tasting notes: a lot of caramel and vanilla. Almost crème brulee in a glass. The label says “Trinidad and Tobago/Land of the Hummingbird.” Greg loved watching the hummingbirds that come to our flowers and feeders, and he managed to get some very good photographs of them.

(3) BUTLER’S EARLY DAYS. E. Alex Jung chronicles “The Spectacular Life of Octavia E. Butler” at Vulture.

…In her family, Butler went by Junie, short for Junior, and in the world, she went by Estelle or Estella to avoid confusion for people looking for her mother. As a girl, she was shy. She broke down in tears when she had to speak in front of the class. Her youth was filled with drudgery and torment. The first time she remembered someone calling her “ugly” was in the first grade — bullying that continued through her adolescence. “I wanted to disappear,” she said. “Instead, I grew six feet tall.” The boys resented her growth spurt, and sometimes she would get mistaken for a friend’s mother or chased out of the women’s bathroom. She was called slurs. It was the only time in her life she really considered suicide.

She kept her own company. In her elementary-school progress reports, one teacher wrote that “she dreams a lot and has poor concentration.” That was true. She did dream a lot, and she began to write her dreams down in a large pink notebook she carried around with her. “I usually had very few friends, and I was lonely,” Butler said. “But when I wrote, I wasn’t.” By the time she was 10, she was writing her own worlds. At first, they were inspired by animals. She loved horses like those in The Black Stallion. When she saw an old pony at a carnival with festering sores swarmed by flies, she realized the sores had come from the other kids kicking the animal to make it go faster. Children’s capacity for cruelty stayed with her. She went home and wrote stories of wild horses that could shape-shift and that “made fools of the men who came to catch them.”…

(4) BRINGING THEM BACK TO LIGHT. Cora Buhlert’s new “Fancast Spotlight” is “Tales from the Trunk”.

Tell us about your podcast or channel.

Tales from the Trunk is a podcast about the stories that we, as writers, have had to give up on for one reason or another. Every episode, an author comes on to read a story out of their trunk, or in the case of book tour episodes to read an excerpt from a new or forthcoming release, and chat about the writing life, the reasons that some stories just don’t make it, and why every word you write is its own victory. Episodes come out on the first and third Friday of every month.

Who are the people behind your podcast or channel?

Tales from the Trunk is hosted and produced by author Hilary B. Bisenieks (that’s me). I’m joined each episode by a guest author who works in science fiction, fantasy, horror, and beyond….

(5) GOING HOG WILD. Cora Buhlert has also debuted another “Masters-of-the-Universe-Piece Theatre: ‘Pig Invasion’”.

… Now I have a soft spot for pigs in general and the villain Pig-Head is a delightfully goofy character, a pig with a Samurai-style helmet in the most mid 1980s colour scheme ever. So once I spotted him for a good price, I bought him.

Since I like taking photos of new arrivals, I made a short photo story to post on Twitter before Twitter goes belly-up altogether, something which is looking increasingly likely.

So let’s see what happens when Pig-Head invades Eternia….

(6) CLOUDS OF PUNK WITNESS. New Lines Magazine appears to have a -punk suffix movement issue, since they published articles about cyberpunk and solarpunk.

Twenty minutes into the future, the transformative effects of computers and networks necessitate that misfits, outcasts and dissenters living on the fringes rebel against the abuse of cutting-edge science and tech for pleasure, profit and power.

That may seem extreme, but if “Star Trek” and its ilk were the summations of the optimism of the Atomic Age, this is the logical conclusion to the nihilism of the Information Age — one where technology won’t usher in the world of tomorrow. One where the solutions of yesterday will be our undoing; one where we wish we had dismantled the system we now live in before it was too late.

…Enter Solarpunk. By its simplest definition, Solarpunk is a literary and art movement which imagines what the future could look like if the human species were actually to succeed in solving the major challenges associated with global warming, from reducing global emissions to overcoming capitalist economic growth as the primary motor of human society. These seemingly titanic tasks are actually pragmatic necessities dictated by scientific knowledge. We know, for example, that it is simply impossible to have infinite economic growth on a finite planet. And yet, this impossibility is exactly where we are still heading towards as a species…

(7) THOUGHT EXPERIMENT. Inverse speculates, “If Neanderthals had survived, this is what the world might look like now”.

For 99 percent of the last million years of our existence, people rarely came across other humans. There were only around 10,000 Neanderthals living at any one time. Today, there are around 800,000 people in the same space that was occupied by one Neanderthal. What’s more, since humans live in social groups, the next nearest Neanderthal group was probably well over 100 kilometers away. Finding a mate outside your own family was a challenge.

Neanderthals were more inclined to stay in their family groups and were wary of new people. If they had outcompeted our species (Homo sapiens), the population density would likely be far lower. It’s hard to imagine them building cities, for example, because they were genetically disposed to be less friendly to those beyond their immediate family…

(8) MEMORY LANE.

1968 [By Cat Eldridge.] Charly 

So let’s talk about the film that was based off a Hugo Award winning story. 

Charly premiered fifty-four years ago on this date. It was based off “Flowers for Algernon” which is a short story and a novel by Daniel Keyes. The short story, written in 1958 and first published in the April 1959 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, would win the Hugo Award for Best Short Story at Pittcon. The novel was published in 1966 and was the joint winner of that year’s Nebula Award for Best Novel with Samuel R. Delany’s Babel-17

The scriptwriter for this film was Stirling Silliphant who is best remembered for his screenplay for In the Heat of the Night for which he won an Academy Award the previous year.  Not genre but worth noting is he created the Perry Mason series.

The movie had an outstanding cast of Cliff Robertson, Claire Bloom, Leon Janney, Lilia Skala and Dick Van Patten. 

I’m not going to detail the film here as I’m assuming y’all have seen, so no spoilers this time. May I say I found it a terribly depressing film and leave it at that? 

It’s worth noting that the short story became “The Two Worlds of Charlie Gordon”, a 1961 television adaptation for The United States Steel Hour in which Robertson had also starred. The UCLA Film & Television Archive has it legally up on YouTube so you can watch that version here.

William Goldman was to write the screenplay on the strength of his No Way to Treat a Lady novel and got $30,000 to write a screenplay. However, Cliff Robertson was pissed off with Goldman’s work and he hired to Silliphant write a draft which he found most satisfactory.

It was a hit by the studio, making eight times its budget of just a million dollars. 

I think Vincent Canby, critic for the New York Times, summed it up best in saying that it is a: “self-conscious contemporary drama, the first ever to exploit mental retardation for…the bittersweet romance of it.”  It is still way too depressing and ethically questionable for me, but that’s me. I’ll entertain other opinions of course. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 26, 1897 Naomi Mary Margaret Mitchison, Baroness Mitchison, CBE (née Haldane). Author of many historical novels with genre trappings such as The Corn King and the Spring Queen and The Bull Calves but also new wave SF such as Memoirs of a Spacewoman, pure fantasy Graeme and the Dragon and an Arthurian novel in Chapel Perilous. (Died 1999.)
  • Born November 26, 1919 Frederik Pohl. Writer, editor, and fan who was active for more seventy-five years from his first published work, the 1937 poem “Elegy to a Dead Satellite: Luna” to his final novel All the Lives He Led. That he was great and that he was honored for being great is beyond doubt — If I’m counting correctly, magazines he edited won three Hugos, fiction he wrote won three Hugos and two Nebula Awards, and at the end of his career he circled back around and won the 2010 Best Fan Writer Hugo. His 1979 novel Jem, Pohl won a U.S. National Book Award in the one-off category Science Fiction. SWFA made him the 12th recipient of its Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award in 1993, and he was inducted by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame in 1998. OK, setting aside Awards which are fucking impressive, there’s the matter of him editing Astonishing StoriesGalaxy Science FictionWorlds of If, and Super Science Stories which were a companion to Astonishing Stories, plus the Star Science Fiction anthologies – and well let’s just say the list goes on. I’m sure I’ve not listed something that y’all like here. As writer, he was amazing. My favorite was the Heechee series though I confess some novels were far better than others. Gateway won the Hugo Award for Best Novel, the 1978 Locus Award for Best Novel, the 1977 Nebula Award for Best Novel, and the 1978 John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best Science Fiction Novel. Very impressive. Man Plus I think is phenomenal, the sequel less so. Your opinion of course will no doubt vary. The Space Merchants co-written with Cyril M. Kornbluth in 1952 is, I think, damn fun. (Died 2013.)
  • Born November 26, 1936 Shusei Nagaoka. Artist and Illustrator from Japan who is best known for his music album cover art in the 1970s and 1980s. He designed covers for many of Earth, Wind and Fire’s albums, and many of his covers were very distinctively SFFnal; especially notable are Out of the Blue, by Electric Light Orchestra and When We Rock, We Rock, and When We Roll, We Roll by Deep Purple. His art also graced numerous genre books, including Tepper’s After Long Silence, Attanasio’s The Last Legends of Earth, and Reed’s Down the Bright Way. He helped to design the 1970 Osaka World’s Fair Expo, and had one of the first artworks which was launched into outer space and attained orbit, via the Russian Mir Space Station, in 1991. He won a Seiun Award for Best Artist in 1982. (Died 2015.) (JJ) 
  • Born November 26, 1940 Paul J. Nahin, 82. Engineer and Writer of numerous non-fiction works, some of genre interest, and at least 20 SF short fiction works. Time travel is certainly one of the intrinsic tropes of SF, so certainly there should be at least one academic that specializes in studying it. Oh, there is: I present this Professor Emeritus of electrical engineering at the University of New Hampshire who has written not one, but three, works on the subject, to wit: Time Machines: Time Travel in Physics, Metaphysics, and Science FictionTime Travel: A Writer’s Guide to the Real Science of Plausible Time Travel, and Time Machine Tales: The Science Fiction Adventures and Philosophical Puzzles of Time Travel. No mere dry academic is he, as he’s also had stories published in genre venues which include Analog, Omni, and Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone Magazine. (JJ)
  • Born November 26, 1949 Victoria Poyser-Lisi, 73. Artist, Illustrator, Teacher, and Fan who was inspired at the 1979 World Fantasy Convention to become a genre artist. She did more than a hundred covers and interior illustrations for fanzines, magazines, and books, and won two of her three Hugo Award nominations for Best Fan Artist. She now works in collaborative children’s book illustration and instructional painting books, and teaches drawing and painting courses in Colorado. (JJ) 
  • Born November 26, 1961 Steve Macdonald, 61. Musician, Writer, Singer, Filker, and Fan. He served for several years as the Evangelista for the Pegasus Awards (the Filkers’ most prestigious awards, given out by the Ohio Valley Filk Fest), and was responsible for many changes in the award process that led to greater participation among the voting base. In 2001, he attended ten filk conventions around the world and recorded filkers singing “Many Hearts, One Voice”, a song he had composed; the tracks were merged electronically for the WorlDream project to celebrate the new millennium. He has won six Pegasus Awards, for Best Performer, Writer/Composer, Filk Song, Adapted Song, Dorsai Song, and Myth Song. He has been Filk Guest of Honor at numerous conventions, and was inducted into the Filk Hall of Fame in 2006, after which he emigrated to Germany to marry fellow filker Katy Droge, whom he had met eight years before at OVFF. (JJ)

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Mutts is one of the many comics paying tribute to Charles Schulz today on the 100th anniversary of his birth.

(11) MAKING NEW STAR WARS FANS. The conclusion of Andor has people raving (favorably). Here’s a transcript of NPR’s “Movie Review: ‘Andor’”. Beware spoilers.

…DEL BARCO: Showrunner Tony Gilroy created the show after working on “Rogue One” and having written movies such as “Michael Clayton” and the “Bourne Identity” franchise. For many years, he’s been fascinated with empires and revolutions throughout history.

GILROY: I mean, I have a library downstairs just on the Russian Revolution alone. I can go between the Montagnards and the Haitians and the ANC and the Irgun and the French Resistance and the Continental Congress. And literally, you could drop a needle throughout the last 3,000 years of recorded history, and it’s passion. It’s need. It’s people being swept away by betrayal and their own ability and failure to commit. And, oh, my God, it’s just everything.

DEL BARCO: Gilroy infused that kind of drama into “Andor,” and he’s been pleasantly surprised by the passionate reaction by critics and fans, even those like himself who were not necessarily hardcore “Star Wars” aficionados before….

(12) JPLRON. Space.com introduces listeners to “’Blood, Sweat & Rockets:’ Podcast series looks at colorful founders of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab”. The direct link to the podcast is: Blood, Sweat and Rockets.

The early years of rocketry weren’t all about horn-rimmed glasses and slide rules. 

Some of the 20th century’s most important aerospace pioneers were incredibly colorful characters — folks like Jack Parsons, a handsome young chemist who conducted occult rituals with L. Ron Hubbard and sold bootleg nitroglycerine during the Great Depression.

Parsons’ many interests also extended to the nascent field of rocket science: He helped establish the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Southern California, which eventually became NASA’s lead center for robotic exploration.

…A new podcast called “Blood, Sweat & Rockets (opens in new tab)” delves into the lives and work of Parsons and his circle, which included fellow JPL co-founders Frank Malina and Theodore von Kármán. Some of these ambitious engineers, Parsons and Malina among them, were part of a group called the Suicide Squad. The name came from their aggressive approach to rocket research, as the podcast will doubtless detail….

(13) SHADES OF WEIRD TALES. Cora Buhlert has done a “Retro Review” for “’The Hanging of Alfred Wadham’ by E.F. Benson”, which she feels is “a not very good ghost story” that appeared in Weird Tales in 1929.

 …In addition to satirical novels about upper class people being jerks, Benson also wrote a lot of ghost stories and this is what brought him to the attention of H.P. Lovecraft, who wrote admiringly about Benson’s work in “Supernatural Horror in Literature”, and finally to Weird Tales….

(14) SF SCREENPLAY CONTEST. The Geneva International Science in Fiction Screenplay Awards are taking entries through December 2. Full details at the link.

GISFSA is a science related and Sci-Fi screenplay contest based out of Geneva, Switzerland, sponsored by the local production company, Turbulence Films, and CineGlobe the film festival of the CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research).

Our roots in scientific research and connections makes GISFSA the premiere science and sci-fi screenplay contest. We connect winners with the most reputable scientists in the world, who regularly advise on sci-fi pictures.

When submitting a screenplay, all content is analyzed through our sponsors at Scriptmatix, the industry’s leading content evaluation technology company.

For Screenplay Contests:
CONTEST ENTRIES receive analytics on their screenplay’s execution across multiple categories.
ENTRIES + ANALYSIS receive full analytics and evaluative write-ups….

(15) CAST(ING) OF HUNDREDS. “’The sheer scale is extraordinary’: meet the titanosaur that dwarfs Dippy the diplodocus” in the Guardian.

It will be one of the largest exhibits to grace a British museum. In spring, the Natural History Museum in London will display the skeleton of a titanosaur, a creature so vast it will have to be shoehorned into the 9-metre-high Waterhouse gallery.

One of the most massive creatures ever to have walked on Earth, Patagotitan mayorum was a 57-tonne behemoth that would have shaken the ground as it stomped over homelands which now form modern Patagonia. Its skeleton is 37 metres long, and 5 metres in height – significantly larger than the museum’s most famous dinosaur, Dippy the diplodocus, which used to loom over its main gallery.

…The remains of Patagotitan mayorum were uncovered in 2010 when a ranch owner in Patagonia came across a gigantic thigh bone sticking out of the ground. Argentinian fossil experts later dug up more than 200 pieces of skeleton, the remains of at least six individual animals.

Casts have been made of these bones by the Museo Paleontológico Egidio Feruglio in Trelew, Patagonia, and these form the skeleton that will go on display in London in March.

“The number of bones uncovered represents a treasure trove of material,” said Sinead Marron, the exhibition’s lead curator. “It means we now know a lot more about this species than we do about many other dinosaurs.”…

(16) GOOD NIGHT OPPY REVIEW. The New York Times shows why “This Mars Documentary Required Many Sols”.

Early in the documentary “Good Night Oppy,” footage from late 2002 shows Steve Squyres, clad in scrubs, staring down in quiet awe, his eyes welling up as he shakes his head in disbelief. Squyres, the principal investigator for NASA’s first Mars rover mission, is watching his babies take their first steps.

That at least is the sense one gets from the improbably sentimental journey at the core of this movie (which begins streaming Wednesday on Amazon Prime Video) about the Mars exploration rovers Spirit and Opportunity (a.k.a. Oppy). Squyres vividly remembers experiencing this exact moment from the film.

“The first time it sort of came to life, it was a very, very moving experience,” he said recently over Zoom.

Squyres had long awaited the moment. A former geologist, he had worked on Mars exploration proposals for 10 years, including three failed submissions to NASA, before spending another six years, including three cancellations and revivals of the mission, building the machines.

As much as “Good Night Oppy” chronicles the depth of the human achievement behind the Mars rover mission — which was initially planned for a roughly 90-day stretch but instead lasted 15 years — the film is anchored most of all by a kind of pure devotion and connection to the rovers.

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. How It Should Have Ended says this is “How Top Gun Maverick Should Have Ended”.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Cora Buhlert, Francis Hamit, Jack William Bell, Mike Kennedy, JJ, John King Tarpinian, and Chris Barkley for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Lis Carey.]

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

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

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

Michael Swanwick

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

(10) MEMORY LANE.

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

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

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

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

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

SPOILERS BEWARE ARE SWIMMING AROUND, AND FLYING TOO

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

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

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

NOW BACK YO MY IMPRESSIONS

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

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

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

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

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

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

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

(12) COMICS SECTION.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pixel Scroll 10/4/22 TANSTAFE! (There Ain’t No Such Thing As Free Elevenses)

(1) MEASURED BY ANOTHER YARDSTICK. “Too Dystopian for Whom? A Continental Nigerian Writer’s Perspective” by Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki at Uncanny Magazine.

It is a common conception that people come to fiction, especially the speculative, to escape reality. And that is indeed one of the purposes it can serve. Another is that conversely to escaping, people come to fiction to encounter or experience reality. A paradox? After all, we already live in reality, one that is ubiquitous. We have it all around us, painfully so sometimes. Hence the need for an escape. But you see, reality has different facets, different windows, like eyes, that reveal different vistas.

This is why the consumption of fiction and SF/F based on other cultures and by people of other demographics is a necessity. Doing so helps us diversify our understanding and encounter all these different realities that lie beyond our immediate purview. What we are often steeped in is our own immediate reality, which is, while occasionally painful, also painfully limited.

It has often been surmised, most especially around discussions of war, climate change, natural disasters, and more recently the outbreak of COVID-19, in articles like this in Wired and on The Apeiron Blog we are living in a dystopia. This realization has weaned many of the need for apocalyptic, post-apocalyptic, and dystopian fiction, and has them preferring instead to immerse themselves in lighter, more upbeat and positive work. This is of course valid, as we all must do what we feel right. But beyond personal preferences of individuals for lighter, “happier” works in this period of gloom, there is a wider and more general assertion that dystopias, apocalypses, grimdark, dark fantasy, and the like are now unnecessary because we live in and have it all around us. A Publishers Weekly piece talks about dystopian fiction losing its lustre due to the pandemic and spells doom for the subgenre of doom. But is this really so? In a viral tweet, the account tweets its disagreement, which I quite agree with, saying that “Dystopian fiction is when you take things that happen in real life to marginalized populations and apply them to people with privilege.” The dystopian reality is not new and has been with us for a while. Its fictionalizing continues till date despite those debates regarding its relevance or necessity….

(2) FINALIST NUMBER ONE. Mark Lawrence has started posting finalists for the 8th Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off. The first (and as of today only) finalist is Tethered Spirits by T.A. Hernandez.

(3) NOBEL PRIZE IN PHYSICS. The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences today announced the winners of “The Nobel Prize in Physics 2022: Entangled states – from theory to technology”.

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has decided to award the Nobel Prize in Physics 2022 to
Alain Aspect, Université Paris-Saclay and École Polytechnique, Palaiseau, France,
John F. Clauser, J.F. Clauser & Assoc., Walnut Creek, CA, USA and
Anton Zeilinger, University of Vienna, Austria

Alain Aspect, John Clauser and Anton Zeilinger have each conducted groundbreaking experiments using entangled quantum states, where two particles behave like a single unit even when they are separated. Their results have cleared the way for new technology based upon quantum information.

The ineffable effects of quantum mechanics are starting to find applications. There is now a large field of research that includes quantum computers, quantum networks and secure quantum encrypted communication.

One key factor in this development is how quantum mechanics allows two or more particles to exist in what is called an entangled state. What happens to one of the particles in an entangled pair determines what happens to the other particle, even if they are far apart….

(4) THE ONION ISN’T KIDDING. “Area Man Is Arrested for Parody. The Onion Files a Supreme Court Brief.”  — the New York Times covers the litigation.

A man who was arrested over a Facebook parody aimed at his local police department is trying to take his case to the Supreme Court. He has sought help from an unlikely source, which filed a friend-of-the-court brief on Monday.

“Americans can be put in jail for poking fun at the government?” the brief asked. “This was a surprise to America’s Finest News Source and an uncomfortable learning experience for its editorial team.”

The source is, of course, The Onion.

Or, as the satirical website described itself in the brief, “the single most powerful and influential organization in human history.”

The Parma, Ohio, area man in question, Anthony Novak, spent four days in jail over a Facebook page he created in 2016 that mocked his local police department. He was charged with using a computer to disrupt police functions, but a jury found him not guilty.

Mr. Novak says his civil rights were violated, and he is trying to sue the city for damages. A federal judge dismissed the lawsuit earlier this year, saying that the police had qualified immunity, and an appeals court upheld that decision. Now the high court is reviewing his request to take up the matter….

(5) STAR TREK SANDWICH. According to Boing Boing, “Harlan Ellison auction includes the world’s most (in)famous “Star Trek” photo”.

Heritage Auction’s upcoming auction of Harlan Ellison’s estate contains a wealth of memorabilia, including a photo of young Harlan flanked by Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner in full character costume. Nimoy inscribed the photo with, “Harlan, Love you & your great credits,” and Shatner wrote, “Who’s the kid in the middle.”

Heritage says the photo is “sure to be one of the most fought-over, sought-after items in Heritage’s history.”

…Proceeds from the sale will benefit the Harlan and Susan Ellison Foundation, a nonprofit created by Straczynski. The foundation is working to turn the late couple’s Los Angeles home into what Straczynski calls “a place dedicated to writing, creativity, art and music.”

It will be a “memorial library,” he says, “full of books (50,000 by actual count), art (the pieces in the Heritage auction represent only a small portion of what’s there), comics, amazing architecture (complete with a tower, hidden rooms, gargoyles and the Lost Aztec Temple of Mars).” Straczynski says it will serve “fans of Harlan’s work, sure, but also lovers of art and books and architecture, as well as academics who will be able to study his manuscripts and decades of correspondences with some of the most famous writers in and out of the science fiction genre.”

(6) DEBUT NOVEL OF FAMED COMICS CREATOR. Grant Morrison discusses their first novel at CrimeReads. “Grant Morrison on Gender, Genre, and Drag”.

Molly Odintz: Luda is all about the instability of identity, exemplified by drag. What did you want to say about the identities we are assigned, and assume?

Grant Morrison: At the simplest level, I suppose I want to say that ‘identity’, at least from my point of view, appears to be conditional and refuses to be contained by any label; how does the ‘identity’ of a person as a two year old child square with that same person’s alleged ‘identity’ as a 40-year old or as a dying 90-year old in a failing physical frame – our bodies and minds and how we feel about ourselves, and who we are within a larger constantly shifting and rearranging system, are subject to such radical transformations over decades that were we to speed a human life up to last ten minutes rather than 80 years the result would resemble a radical metamorphic shifting of shape and size, intellectual capacity and ‘personality’. The idea of a single label adequate to that process seems absurd.

(7) SOCIAL MEDIA CRITICISM AGAINST GRRM COAUTHORS. George R.R. Martin’s tweet publicizing a forthcoming Westeros reference book opened floodgates of criticism against his coauthors Linda Antonsson and Elio M. García Jr.

Variety reported today “‘Game of Thrones’ Fans Boycott George R.R. Martin’s Next Book, Accusing Coauthors of Racism”.

Bestselling fantasy author and “House of the Dragon” executive producer George R.R. Martin is caught in the crossfire of the heated battle over inclusive casting — and some of his fans are calling for a boycott of his upcoming book due to comments by its coauthors.

Out Oct. 25, “The Rise of the Dragon: An Illustrated History of the Targaryen Dynasty, Volume One” is being touted as a “deluxe reference book” for those itching to learn more about Westeros’ most powerful family. When Martin publicized it on social media last week, thousands of fans responded in outrage, many calling out the problematic behavior and “history of racism” of his coauthors, married couple Linda Antonsson and Elio M. García Jr. “I will not be buying anything with Linda and Elio attached to it,” one wrote, while others urged Martin to sever ties with the pair….

…Antonsson contends that upset fans are criticizing “cherry-picked statements stripped of context.” She tells Variety that it bothers her to be “labeled a racist, when my focus has been solely on the world building.” According to the author, she has no issue with inclusive casting, but she strongly believes that “diversity should not trump story.”

“If George had indeed made the Valyrians Black instead of white, as he mused on his ‘Not a Blog’ in 2013, and this new show proposed to make the Velaryons anything other than Black, we would have had the same issue with it and would have shared the same opinion,” Antonsson says.

Vulture carries more documentation: “’Game of Thrones’ Book Co-Authors Accused of Racism by Fans”.

…Married couple Linda Antonsson and Elio M. García Jr., who founded the fansite Westeros.org and have worked as fact-checkers on Martin’s novels, have decried the casting of people of color in Game of Thrones for over a decade. In 2011 and 2012, Antonsson made numerous Tumblr posts saying that most of Westeros, including Dorne, and many of the overseas lands, should be considered “very white indeed,” and getting angry and defensive at any suggestions from “whiny social justice crusaders” to the contrary. Antonsson insists that the only correct interpretation of the books is that “Unremarked skin colour=>white.”

“If you start talking about there being a need — a need outside of what is in the text — to cast actors of certain ethnicites [sic] even if their appearance doesn’t match at all what’s in the text … well, fuck that, plain and simple,” she wrote in May 2012. “I don’t respect that approach, never have and never will, and that is a perfectly valid decision. It has nothing to do with racism, so kindly go fuck yourself with something sharp and pointy.” She disapproved of the casting of a Black actor as Xaro Xhoan Daxos because that character was described as “pale” in the books, and celebrated the casting of a white actor to play Daario Naharis because of his race. In 2021, after the casting of Steve Touissant as Corlys VelaryonAntonsson wrote on Twitter, “Take your woke fucking stupidity and shove it up you ass. Corlys is miscast, there are no black Valyrians and there should not be any in the show.”…

(8) BIG DEALS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times behind a paywall, Tom Faber discusses the appeal of card games.

The influence of cards is more notable in the popular genre of ‘deck-building’ games.  These titles such as Slay The Spire and the enormously popular Hearthstone, from World Of Warcraft creator Blizzard, prove particularly compelling because they augment cards with all the capabilities of digital technology, offering seamless online multi-player modes, visual pyrotechnics and an eternally expanding set of possible cards from which to choose…

…The enduring presence of cards is credit to their adaptability.  Cards are not a game in themselves but a highly flexible medium which can be used as metaphors for combat, vehicles for strategy or links to a long lineage of play that stretches far back into human history.  Today you can build memories out of houses of cards in Where Cards Fall or use cards as units of dialogue in Signs Of The Sojourner.  Rather than killing off the humble playing card, video games have given them thousands of fresh possibilities.

(9) MEMORY LANE.  

1965 [By Cat Eldridge.] Fifty-seven years ago on the BBC, Out of this World series first aired. It. produced by the BBC and broadcast on BBC2 in four series. 

It was created and produced by Irene Shubik while she was working on Armchair Theatre as a story editor. In the highly patriarchal workplace of the Sixties BBC, it was unusual that was allowed to do this. 

(Very much to her credit, she was involved in The Jewel in the Crown undertaking, a most impressive series indeed.)

She was aided by the fact that Armchair Theatre had done an adaptation of John Wyndham’s “Dumb Martian” story as a deliberate showcase for the Out of this World series. 

It lasted but thirteen episodes of which one survives today as the BBC bulk erased them, the ass****s. Too bad as Boris Karloff presented it and the stories were based off tales written by Clifford D. Simak (“Immigrant”), Isaac Asimov (“Little Lost Robot”) which is the only one that survives which the British Film Institute has released on DVD and Philip K. Dick (“Impostor”). 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 4, 1860 Sidney Edward Paget. British illustrator of the Victorian era, he’s definitely known for his illustrations that accompanied Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories in The Strand. He also illustrated Arthur Morrison’s Martin Hewitt, Investigator, a series of short stories featuring the protagonist, Martin Hewitt, and written down by his good friend, the journalist Brett. These came out after Holmes was killed off, like many similar series. (Died 1908.)
  • Born October 4, 1904 Earl Binder. Under the pen name of Eando Binder, he and his brother Otto published SF stories. One series was about a robot named Adam Link. The first such story, published in 1939, is titled “I, Robot”. (A collection by Asimov called I, Robot would be published in 1950. The name was selected by the publisher, despite Asimov’s wishes.) As Eando Binder, they wrote three SF novels — Enslaved BrainsDawn to Dusk and Lords of Creation. There’s lots of Eando Binder available on iBooks and Kindle. (Died 1966.)
  • Born October 4, 1923 Charlton Heston. Without doubt, his best known genre role was astronaut George Taylor in the Planet of the Apes. He returned to the role Beneath the Planet of the Apes. He’s also Neville in The Omega Man, and Detective Thorne in Soylent Green. By the way, once at the LA Music Center he played Sherlock Holmes in The Crucifer of Blood, opposite Richard Johnson as Dr. Watson. His IMDB credits show him as being on SeaQuest DSV in the “Abalon” episode. (Died 2008.)
  • Born October 4, 1932 Ann Thwaite, 90. Author of AA Milne: His Life which won the Whitbread Biography of the Year, as well as The Brilliant Career of Winnie-the Pooh, a scrapbook offshoot of the Milne biography. (And yes, Pooh is genre.) In 2017 she updated her 1990 biography of A.A Milne to coincide with Goodbye Christopher Robin for which she was a consultant. 
  • Born October 4, 1956 Christoph Waltz, 66. He portrayed James Bond’s nemesis Ernst Stavro Blofeld in Spectre and in No Time to Die. Genre wise, he also portrayed Qohen Leth in The Zero Theorem, Benjamin Chudnofsky in The Green Hornet (I lasted ten minutes before giving up), Cardinal Richelieu in The Three Musketeers, himself in Muppets Most Wanted, Léon Rom in The Legend of Tarzan and Dr. Dyson Ido in Alita: Battle Angel
  • Born October 4, 1956 Bill Johnson. His writing was strongly influenced by South Dakota origins. This is particularly true of his “We Will Drink a Fish Together” story which won a Hugo for Best Novelette in 1998. (It got a Nebula nomination as well.) His 1999 collection, Dakota Dreamin, is quite superb. (Died 2022.)
  • Born October 4, 1960 Annabelle Lanyon, 62. She was Oona in Legend. And she showed as Isabel in the Quatermass franchise, Quatermass series and the Quatermass Conclusion. She’s been in more genre related films and series than I can possibly list here, i.e. The Werewolves of The Third Reich which has a twenty-one rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes, 
  • Born October 4, 1975 Saladin Ahmed, 47. His Throne of the Crescent Moon was nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Novel and did win the Locus Award for Best First Novel. He has also written for comics characters Kamala Khan (The Magnificent Ms. Marvel), Black Bolt, Exiles and the Miles Morales (Spider-Man) series, all on Marvel Comics. Oddly only his Marvel is available at the usual suspects.

(11) COMPLETELY MAD. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Washington Post, Michael Cavna profiles Sergio Aragones, who is still active at 85 drawing for MAD, about his comic book Groo The Wanderer. “Sergio Aragones, MAD magazine artist, is still spoofing our humanity”.

… “When Mad accepted me, that was a change of life, a change of mind, a change of everything. Somebody liked what I did,” Aragonés says. Yet despite this “radical mind change,” he appreciated: “I didn’t have to change at all. It was what I had been doing since I was a kid, drawing, drawing, drawing.”

Aragonés also cherished the famous annual Mad trips, sometimes to far-flung places. He roomed with his heroes in Switzerland, went on safari with them in Africa, and while onboard near Bermuda, helped surprise Gaines by re-creating the publisher’s favorite Marx Brothers moment: the crowded cabin scene from “A Night at the Opera.”…

(12) IT’S OFFICIAL. “Velma Is a Lesbian: New ‘Scooby Doo’ Film Makes Her Gay Officially” reports Variety.

Velma is officially a lesbian.

Clips from the brand new movie “Trick or Treat Scooby-Doo!,” which show the Mystery Inc. member googly-eyed and speechless when encountering costume designer Coco Diablo, have gone viral on Twitter, confirming suspicions held by the “Scooby” fan base for decades.

“OMG LESBIAN VELMA FINALLY,” reads one tweet, which has over 100,000 likes.

It’s long been an open secret among fans and “Scooby-Doo” creatives that Velma is gay. Even James Gunn, who wrote the early live-action films, and Tony Cervone, who served as supervising producer on the “Mystery Incorporated” series, have confirmed the character’s sexuality, but they were never able to make it official onscreen.

In 2020, Gunn tweeted that he “tried” to make Velma a lesbian in the live-action movies. “In 2001 Velma was explicitly gay in my initial script,” he wrote. “But the studio just kept watering it down & watering it down, becoming ambiguous (the version shot), then nothing (the released version) & finally having a boyfriend (the sequel).”

(13) LOCAL ROVING. [Item by Steven French.] Wanted: job for redundant Mars rover! “Planetary rover once intended for Mars tested in Milton Keynes quarry” – the Guardianihas the story.

A planetary rover potentially destined for missions on the moon or Mars has been put through its paces at a quarry in Milton Keynes.

The Sample Fetch Rover (SFR), known as Anon, was intended to collect sample tubes left on the surface of Mars by Perseverance.

But this year Nasa and the European Space Agency announced the rover would no longer be needed for this work, as Perseverance, which landed on the red planet in February 2021, was already collecting samples from the planet.’

… Quarry testing is essential to the development process, providing a unique and dynamic landscape that cannot be replicated within the Mars Yard test facility at Stevenage, and the event marks the first time all the rover’s systems are being tested simultaneously….

(14) PLAYING IN OVERTIME. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “The Visual Effects Crisis,” the Royal Ocean Film Society notes that visual effects artists are suffering, with weeks of 100-hour days to make insane deadlines.  The Phantom Menace used one visual effects company; The Rise Of Skywalker used 12, and some Marvel films use 35.  But profit margins are thin, and companies frantically shift locations to take advantage of tax credits.  CATS is exhibit A of what happens when visual effects companies screw up.  The narrator notes that Rhythm and Hues’s work helped Life Of Pi win four technical Oscars but the company went bankrupt because of the many changes they had to do to make director Ang Lee happy.

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Trailers: Avatar (2022 Remastered) the Screen Junkies say that even though they did Avatar in 2012 if there’s a remastered version of Avatar in theatres they can take on the film again.  They say the plot combines Dances With Wolves, Pocahontas, and Ferngully, with generic characters they call “Colonel Soldier” and “Doctor Samples” (because Sigourney Weaver’s character is always looking for samples).  The aliens look like a cross between Ugly Sonic and those creatures in CATS.  And if you think “unobtainium” is a silly name, your inner 12-year old can look up the real mineral “cummingtonite” on Wikipedia.

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Steven French, 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 Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 6/16/22 Scrolls Against Pixelry

(1) HALFWAY THRU THE YEAR. Emily St. John Mandel’s Sea of Tranquility tops Amazon.com’s list of the twenty “Best science fiction and fantasy of 2022 so far”.

And joining Sea of Tranquility on Amazon.com’s overall “Best Books of the Year So Far” are Saara El-Arifi’s The Final Strife and John Scalzi’s The Kaiju Preservation Society.

(2) BROOKS BY THE BOOK. The New York Times’ interview with Geraldine Brooks gives backhanded praise to a Hugo winner.

Can a great book be badly written? What other criteria can overcome bad prose?

The “Remembrance of Earth’s Past” trilogy, by Liu Cixin, is full of insight into everything from China’s Cultural Revolution to why we have yet to experience first contact, and why we maybe shouldn’t want to. But there’s a clunkiness to some of the sentences and I can’t know if it’s the writing or the translation. Alas, it’s too late for me to learn Mandarin in order to get a definitive answer.

(3) HEAVY DUTY. TrekMovie.com reports “Toymaker TOMY To Make 32-Inch Die-Cast ‘Star Trek’ USS Enterprise Weighing 20 Pounds”. Twenty pounds!!! What, have they got Garfield the Cat as the Captain?

… TOMY has announced a new collaboration with Paramount to develop a number of Star Trek products, starting with a limited edition highly-detailed 1/350 scale premium die-cast U.S.S. Enterprise model from The Original Series. Made of 90% die-cast metal, the model includes precision detailing and decorations with over 70 LED lights and a premium stand with collector packaging…. 

Gizmodo has more of the story and – brace yourself – the price tag: “Star Trek USS Enterprise Model Created With Smithsonian’s Help”.

…As you’ve probably guessed, this replica isn’t priced for casual Trekkies. Tomy is taking a crowd-funded approach and will only put the limited run replica into production if it receives 5,000 pre-orders for the ship, with pre-orders starting tomorrow. That’s a lofty goal, especially with a price tag of $600, and with pre-orders being limited to just Star Trek fans in the United States. If Tomy finds enough backers, its Prestige Select U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701 replica will ship out to fans next Summer in 2023.

This video shows off the prototype with the lights in action.

(4) INTO THE WEST. HBO’s Westworld Season 4 Official Trailer says, “Maybe it’s time you questioned the nature of your own reality.” Sounds right.

(5) CARNEGIE AND GREENAWAY MEDALS. The Yoto Carnegie and Yoto Kate Greenaway Awards 2022 were announced today. Neither winner is a genre work.

The 2022 Yoto Carnegie Medal 

  • October, October by Katya Balen, illustrated by Angela Harding (Bloomsbury)

The 2022 Yoto Kate Greenaway Medal 

  • The Midnight Fair illustrated by Mariachiara Di Giorgio, written by Gideon Sterer (Walker Books)

(6) YOUNG XENA AND OTHER ROLES. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] I listened to this podcast Leonard and Jessie Maltin did with Rose McIver. “Maltin on Movies: Rose McIver”.  Nearly all of her work is genre-related, including her current role in CBS’s Ghosts and her best-known role in IZombie.  Of course, being a Disney fan, Leonard Maltin made sure to ask about her work as Tinker Bell (spelled that way) in Once Upon a Time.

McIver has a good story about Lucy Lawless.  When she was nine she played young Xena while Lawless stepped away from her role during her pregnancy.  Lawless sent McIver several cassette tapes where she explained Xena’s story and gave her a chance to listen to the cadences of Lawless’s voice so she could do a better job of being a young Lucy Lawless.  McIver fondly remembered Lawless’s kindnesses over two decades later.

I thought this was a good interview.

(7) A VISIT TO THE INSTRUMENTALITY. Rich Horton tours the worldbuilding of Cordwainer Smith in “The Timeless Strangeness of ‘Scanners Live in Vain’” at Black Gate.

I recently had occasion to reread Cordwainer Smith’s Science Fiction Hall of Fame story “Scanners Live in Vain.” This was probably my fifth rereading over the years (soon followed by a sixth!) — it’s a story I’ve always loved, but for some reason this time through it struck me even more strongly. It is a truly great SF story; and I want to take a close look at what makes it work….

(8) PORT YOUR HELM. If you can make a silk purse from a sow’s ear, you can certainly make an anime feature from Tolkien’s appendix. “’Lord of the Rings: War of the Rohirrim’: Brian Cox, Miranda Otto Cast”Deadline has the story.

…The movie centers around the fate of the House of Helm Hammerhand, the mighty King of Rohan, a character from the J.R.R. Tolkien book’s appendix. Succession actor Cox will provide the voice of that protagonist.

The anime feature, directed by Kenji Kamiyama, is set 183 years before the events chronicled in the original trilogy of films. A sudden attack by Wulf, a clever and ruthless Dunlending lord seeking vengeance for the death of his father, forces Helm and his people to make a daring last stand in the ancient stronghold of the Hornburg – a mighty fortress that will later come to be known as Helm’s Deep. Finding herself in an increasingly desperate situation, Hera, the daughter of Helm, must summon the will to lead the resistance against a deadly enemy intent on their total destruction.

Wise (A Walk in the Woods) will play Hammerhand’s daughter Hera; and Luke Pasqualino (Snowpiercer) will portray Wulf…

(9) DOCTOR DOOGIE HOWSER WHO? “Neil Patrick Harris Joins Doctor Who’ for 60th Anniversary Special” reports Yahoo! But what’s he doing on the show?

…“It’s my huge honour to open our studio doors for the mighty Neil Patrick Harris…but who, why, what is he playing? You’ll just have to wait,” [Russell T] Davies said in a statement. “But I promise you, the stuff we’re shooting now is off the scale. Doctor beware!”

Harris is currently filming his scenes for the special, though details about his role are being guarded safely behind the closed doors of the TARDIS…

Harris released a photo of him in character on Instagram.

(10) THREE MORE MONGOLIAN TRANSLATIONS. [Item by Ferret Bueller.] I stopped in at the really snazzy bookstore at the State Department Store today and found three more recent translations: Second Foundation (the Mongolian is literally more like “Second Storehouse/Coffers/Holdings”), Fahrenheit 451, and Zamyatin’s We (between Ahmet Ümit’s Istanbul Souvenir and Moby Dick).

(11) ESSAY: GEORGE ALEC EFFINGER’S WHEN GRAVITY FAILS

1986 [By Cat Eldridge.] No, When Gravity Fails wasn’t published this month. It was published in January of 1986 by Arbor House. It’s just one of my favorite novels. And it’s one of the few truly great genre fictions set in the Middle East or whatever you want to call that region. (Jon Courtney Grimwood’s Arabesk trilogy and G. Willow Wilson’s Alif the Unseen are two other great ones set there. Do suggest others ones to me please.) That When Gravity Fails is the first in the Marîd Audran series makes it even better.

SPOILER ALERT Effinger’s novel, set near the end of the 22nd Century in an Islamic world in the rise while the West is fast descending or so we are told, describes an ascendant Arabic/Muslim is Center around Marîd Audran, a young man whose has a deep phobia about getting his brain wired. Hence he’s always on the outside of society. He and his trans girlfriend sometimes get along, sometimes want to kill each other. END SPOILER

I re-read about a half a decade ago. I was pleasantly surprised that the Suck Fairy hadn’t trod her steel studded combat boots upon this work. It feels remarkably fresh and Effinger’s society still rings true. Like the settings in Grimwood’s Arabesk or Wilson’s Alif, it feels real. That a neat trick that not many genre writers accomplish when trying to create a different culture. 

I understand that Effinger said in interviews that a lot of his society there was based on his living in the New Orleans French Quarter. If that’s true, the sex, violence, and moral ambiguity shown in the novel suggests a lot about the French Quarter in the Eighties! 

A note for y’all to consider. Most reviewers consider it a cyberpunk novel. I do not. It’s very good SF novel but the personality chips just don’t feel cyberpunkish to me. Neither the Arabesk trilogy or Alif is cyberpunk either.

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born June 16, 1896 — Murray Leinster. It is said that he wrote and published more than fifteen hundred short stories and articles, fourteen movie scripts, and hundreds of radio scripts and television plays. Among those was his 1945 “First Contact” novella, a 1996 Retro Hugo-winner, one of the first (if not the first) instances of a universal translator. So naturally his heirs sued Paramount Pictures over Star Trek: First Contact, claiming that it infringed their trademark in the term. However, the suit was dismissed. I’m guessing they filed just a bit late given the universal translator was used in Trek prior to that film. (Died 1975.)
  • Born June 16, 1924 — Faith Domergue. Dr. Ruth Adams in the classic Fifties film This Island Earth. She has a number of later genre roles, Professor Lesley Joyce in It Came from Beneath the Sea, Jill Rabowski in Timeslip (aka The Atomic Man) and Dr. Marsha Evans in Voyage to a Prehistoric Planet. She amazingly did no genre television acting. (Died 1999.)
  • Born June 16, 1938 — Joyce Carol Oates, 84. To my utter surprise, she’s won a World Fantasy Award for a short story, “Fossil-Figures”. And though I didn’t think of her as a horror writer, she’s won five, yes five, Stoker Awards.  Her short fiction, which is legion, is stellar. I recommend her recent Night, Neon: Tales of Mystery and Suspense collection . 
  • Born June 16, 1939 — David McDaniel. A prolific writer of The Man from U.N.C.LE. novels penning seven of them, with such names as The Vampire Affair and The  Hallow Crown Affair. He also wrote a novel for The Prisoner series, The Prisoner: Number Two which I must find. As a fan, he was quite active in LASFS, serving as its Director, writing various APAs and is remembered as a “Patron Saint” which is to say he financially support the Club. (Died 1977.)
  • Born June 16, 1940 — Carole Ann Ford, 82. Best known for her roles as Susan Foreman in Doctor Who, and as Bettina in of The Day of the Triffids. Ford appeared in the one-off 50th-anniversary comedy homage The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot.
  • Born June 16, 1957 — Ian Buchanan, 65. Best remembered as Dick Tremayne on Twin Peaks. He’s done one-offs on the first Flash series, Quantum Leap, voice roles on GargoylesBatman: The Brave and the BoldBatman Beyond and Justice LeagueCharmed and Stargate SG-1
  • Born June 16, 1972 — Andy Weir, 50. His debut novel, The Martian, was later adapted into a film of the same name directed by Ridley Scott. He received the Astounding Award for Best New Writer. His next two novels are Artemis and Project Hail Mary. Intriguingly, he’s written one piece of Sherlockian fan fiction, “James Moriarty, Consulting Criminal”  which is only available as an Audible audiobook. Project Hail Mary is nominated for the Hugo Award this year. 

(13) COMICS SECTION.

  • The Argyle Sweater is based on a gag I bet every comics reader has thought of at some point.
  • Bizarro finds it’s time to have that discussion when little robots wonder where they came from.
  • Close to Home overhears what the next thing is that a kaiju wants to eat.

(14) VOYAGE CONTINUES WITH A NEW PILOT. In the Washington Post, Michael Cavna interviews Randy Milholland, who has just taken over Popeye from 95-year-old Hy Eisman.  Cavna explains that Milholland is trying to preserve Popeye’s noble spirit and champion of the underdog while making Popeye a GenXer and Olive Oyl a MIllennial. “Popeye is getting a makeover at age 93”.

…Today, he thinks characters like Olive Oyl, as shaped long ago by Segar and writer Tom Sims, can speak to modern audiences. He notes that their Olive was outspoken and in your face. “She was never the damsel in distress in the comics.” He says her stance was: “I’m here and I will fight either at Popeye’s side or I will get in front of him.”

All these characters have flaws — and Popeye’s father, Poopdeck Pappy, “is a flaw on his own,” Milholland notes with a grin — but Popeye and Olive are the types to “find their moral centers” when needed.

Milholland likes to play with character faces and shapes, including the antagonistic witch the Sea Hag and the magical pet Eugene the Jeep. He enjoys designing the ballet of fisticuffs that flows across the page. Yet, for all the enduring dynamics of “Popeye,” Milholland comes back to valuing the familial heart that beats at the center of the strip….

(15) DINO MIGHT. Did you ever ask yourself “Why Does Batman have a T-Rex in the Batcave?” MSN.com’s Aman Singh did.

Debuting in 1943, the Batcave is a fascinating place that holds many mementos to Batman’s long history. The Caped Crusader’s lair features many interesting items such a giant penny and a large replica of Joker’s playing card. Though some may say it’s ridiculous, the cave is a reflection of Batman’s character evolution. Despite going through many changes over the years and different iterations across creative teams, one of the few items that remains constant is the iconic T-Rex prop. The origins for this unusual memento go way back into Batman’s formative years….

(16) NINEFOX GAMBIT TRPG ON ITS WAY. Yoon Ha Lee has designed an RPG for his Machineries of Empire universe.

https://twitter.com/deuceofgears/status/1537212981360074752
https://twitter.com/deuceofgears/status/1537563229613858824

(17) ONE THUMB DOWN. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] This reviewer pretty much hates Kyra Sedgwick‘s directorial premier, indie feature film Space Oddity. I’ve seen others reviews that were kinder to it. Me? I have no clue. “Space Oddity Review: Kyra Sedgwick’s Sexless, Spaceless Rom-Com” by Samantha Bergeson at IndieWire.

….But the film heavy-handedly relies on a climate change component to beat people over the head with a bouquet of reasons why the world as we know it is dying. True, but this film makes a good reason for why it should.

At one point, Alex angrily lectures a mirror: “I hope you all had a good time at the farewell party for the tigers and the lions!” And no, he is not talking about Detroit teams finishing their seasons. It is hysterical in the best way. “I’m going to Mars!” is Alex’s refrain in “Space Oddity,” and he even says it to himself — “over and out.”….

(18) BUGS, MR. RICO. ZILLIONS OF ‘EM. “Spilling the Tea: Insect DNA Shows Up in World’s Top Beverage” is the jolly news from The Scientist.

How do you monitor which species live in an area? In addition to traditional ecological tools such as camera traps, researchers have reported new methods in recent years that allow them to detect minute traces of DNA known as environmental DNA, or eDNA, that animals leave behind in water and even air. In a study published June 15 in Biology Letters, a group reports picking up eDNA from a new source: dried plant material. The team purchased tea from grocery stores, and were able to detect hundreds of species of arthropods in just one bag….

TS: Was there anything about the results of this study that surprised you? 

HK: What really surprised me was the high diversity we detected. . . . We took one tea bag, and . . . I think it was from 100 [or] 150 milligrams of dried plant material, we extracted DNA. And we found in green tea up to 400 species of insects in a single tea bag. . . . That really surprised me. And the reason probably is that this tea, it’s ground to a relatively fine powder. So the eDNA [from all parts of the tea field] gets distributed.  

(19) THEY’RE DEAD, JIM. The Scientist reports on evidence that the “Black Death Likely Originated in Central Asia”.

In the foothills of the Tian Shan mountains in what is now Kyrgyzstan, tombstones in the Kara-Djigach cemetery with Syriac inscriptions showed that the village’s death rate skyrocketed over a two-year period. Phil Slavin, a historian at the University of Stirling in Scotland, says that “out of a total of 467 stones that are precisely dated to the period between 448 and 1345, 118 actually turned out to be dated to the years 1338 [and] 1339.”…

(20) A CLOSER LOOK. “NASA’s Perseverance rover begins key search for life on Mars” reports Nature. “Rolling up an ancient river delta in Jezero Crater, the rover starts crucial rock sampling.”

More than 15 months after landing in Jezero Crater on Mars, NASA’s Perseverance rover has finally begun its hunt for ancient life in earnest.

On 28 May, Perseverance ground a 5-centimetre-wide circular patch into a rock at the base of what was once a river delta in the crater. This delta formed billions of years ago, when a long-vanished river deposited layers of sediment into Jezero, and it is the main reason that NASA sent the rover there. On Earth, river sediment is usually teeming with life.

Images of the freshly ground spot show small sediment grains, which scientists are hoping will contain chemical or other traces of life. Poet William Blake’s “‘To see a world in a grain of sand’ comes to mind,” wrote Sanjeev Gupta, a planetary geologist at Imperial College London, on Twitter.

The rover will spend the next few months exploring the Jezero delta, while mission scientists decide where they want to drill and extract rock samples. NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) plan to retrieve those samples and fly them back to Earth for study, no earlier than 2033, in the first-ever sample return from Mars….

(21) DEL TORO OPENS HIS CABINET. Guillermo Del Toro and Netflix have shared the first teaser trailer for Guillermo Del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities, an eight-episode horror anthology featuring original plots and adaptations of short stories. No release date has been set.

The maestro of horror – Guillermo Del Toro – presents 8 blood-curdling tales of horror. This anthology of sinister stories is told by some of today’s most revered horror creators, including the directors of The Babadook, Splice, Mandy, and many more.

(22) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Jurassic World: Dominion Pitch Meting,” Ryan George, in a spoiler-packed episode says that neither the producer or the screenwriter can remember the names of the characters Bryce Dallas Howard and Chris Pratt play so a quick Wikipedia search is in order. Also, when the producer learns that several characters from Jurassic Park have come back, he asks, “Is there any other way to make money? We’re rapidly running out of iconic characters to bring back!”

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