Pixel Scroll 5/19/24 Come For The Chocolate, Stay For The Pixels

(1) SMALL WONDERS IS KICKSTARTING YEAR 2. Cislyn Smith and Stephen Granade have launched a Kickstarter to fund the year two of Small Wonders, a monthly online SFF magazine for flash fiction and poetry.

For the past year, Small Wonders has published original and reprint flash fiction and narrative poetry, all tinged with the wonder of other worlds both science fictional and fantastic. Now the magazine is raising funds to cover Year Two, with an initial goal of $11,000. Stretch goals include publishing a Best of Year One collection, an issue guest edited by Premee Mohamed and Chimedum Ohaegbu, and more. Backers can get discounted yearly subscriptions; a Kickstarter-only mini issue with new works by Nino Cipri, Myna Chang, Jennifer Mace, Avra Margariti, and more; and pins and stickers themed to stories and poems from Year One. The Kickstarter runs through June 3.

Each issue of Small Wonders contains three original pieces of flash fiction, three new poems, and three re-printed flash fiction stories. Issues are published as ebooks (mobi, epub, and pdf) at the first of the month, and subscribers can receive every story and poem in their inboxes as they’re published on the website.

The first year of Small Wonders succeeded beyond Cislyn and Stephen’s expectations. It published new authors and poets as well as familiar names such as John Wiswell, Ali Trotta, Premee Mohamed, and Mary Soon Lee. and included multiple Rhysling-nominated poems. They’re excited to see what year two will bring, and hope you’ll be a part of it through the Kickstarter.

(2) VOTE FOR BEST FRENCH SFF SHORT STORY OF 2022. SFSF Boréal invited readers during the month of March to nominate the best French-speaking sff short stories that were published in 2022 in Canada. The four finalists for the Prix Aurora-Boréal have been announced. Members of SFSF Boréal are invited to vote for the best story at this link. Votes must be cast by June 1. The finalists are:

  • Blouin, Geneviève, “La Vie secrète des carapaces” (Solaris 223)
  • Côté, Philippe-Aubert, “À l’Ère des Jumeaux errants” (Les Six Brumes)
  • Kurtness, J.D., “Bienvenue, Alyson” (Hannenorak)
  • Vonarburg, Élisabeth, “Into White”, (Les Six Brumes)

The Congrès Boréal will be held in Montréal, Québec from September 20-22.

(3) THE N-WORD. Wrath James White gives his conclusive answer to using the n-word in dialog: “Make It Make Sense” at Words of Wrath.

Wrath James White

I have been asked several times lately about non-Black authors using the n-word when writing character dialog. Because I am, frankly, weary of answering this question, I decided to answer it here, once and for all. 

So, here’s my answer. It is appropriate for a White author to put the n-word in a character’s mouth if it isn’t done gratuitously (ala Quinton Tarantino) where the word is just shoehorned in unnecessarily to sound cool or edgy. If the dialog feels natural and non stereotypical. If the characters themselves aren’t one dimensional caricatures and are the type of people who would use the word as part of their everyday vernacular. If it’s the appropriate word to use in the moment and another word wouldn’t work just as well, then by all means do it. Wherever another word would be just as effective, don’t do it. 

For example, if your story takes place in the 90s or early oughts, then “dog”, “playa”, “gangsta”, “playboy”, “sistah” and “bruh” would all work just as well in most situations where one Black person is talking to another. Using the n-word in place of these words is a choice and the author should definitely question their motives for making that choice. That is unless you are writing a racist character. 

Obviously, it would be absurd to have a racist character avoid using the n-word unless he’s a closeted racist. Still, even a racist doesn’t use the word in every sentence, and might even use other more creative pejoratives. And, most racists are not blatant in their racism….

…The bottom line, I can’t grant you a pass to use the n-word. Nothing I have said above will guarantee that you won’t get the taste slapped out of your mouth for including it in yourwriting. But, if you do find it necessary to use it, just like I said in a previous article about grossout and gore, make it make sense. Make it feel natural and not like a teenager or adolescent trying to shock their parents. If you don’t think you can pull that off, use another word.

(4) LEFT BEHIND? “Some fight change, while others adapt. It’s a Toy Story sort of deal,” says Ronald Kelly in “Woody, Buzz, & the Changing of the Guard” at Fear County Chronicle.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about my place in an ever-growing, ever-changing horror genre. How it once was, how it is now, and if Ol’ Ron has the willpower and stamina to hang in there and keep up the pace with all the new and wildly talented authors who are flooding a market that was once relatively small and limited, both in ranks and growth. I’ve also been thinking a lot about the Pixar movie Toy Story….

You see, I’m Woody. Most of us veteran horror authors are. Woody is old-fashioned, leery of change, and a little hesitant to hand over the reins to anyone else because he likes the position he’s held for so long (Andy’s favorite and the leader of the toys). Deep down inside, he believes that he deserves to retain that position, perhaps indefinitely. Could be that he was pretty special and popular in the past, along with some of his peers (Woody’s Roundup stars Jessie, Bullseye, and even Stinky Pete in Toy Story 2). Woody likes how it is in Andy’s Room because it’s familiar, comfortable, and safe. He feels like he’s the head honcho there… not necessarily giving the orders but holding some measure of respect and authority among those around him. Even the mouthy and cantankerous Mister Potato Head looks to him for stability and guidance….

…Truthfully, very few veteran writers feel contempt and suspicion toward the swell of new storytellers bursting on the scene, but unfortunately some do. They feel challenged by progress and diversity and aren’t receptive to those who want a piece of the action. They also don’t approve of how the rules have changed, and how the dynamic of the writing world is evolving at a rapid pace. The mere thought of the Changing of the Guard horrifies them. We’ve seen it happen in social media in the past few years; an old-dog author bristles at the sudden influx of new talent in the genre and cries foul, sometimes in very volatile and unflattering ways. Some have even gone as far as losing all respect in the genre they helped trailblaze and end up being cast from the ranks for their nearsightedness, prejudice, and insolence….

(5) IN THE BEGINNING. “A Closer Look At Great Animated Title Sequences” at CartoonBrew.

In honor of Saul Bass’s birthday this month, we’re taking a look at some of the greatest animated title sequences from live-action movies (the topic of great credits sequences in animated movies is a subject for another time)….

… As Walt Disney suggested above, opening credits in the early days of movies tended to be straightforwardly informational, often created quickly by in-house art departments superimposing text over static background paintings. Even so, there are a handful of movies from the 1930s and ’40s that contain brief bits of animation during the credits. One great example is the cartoon opening of Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948). This scene is frequently attributed to Walter Lantz, but was actually directed by Dave Fleischer….

… Maybe the all-time classic title sequence comes from The Pink Panther (1963), by DePatie-Freleng Enterprises, which not only introduced a cartoon star but also introduced one of the best movie themes ever composed (by Henry Mancini). Looney Tunes director Friz Freleng supervised the sequence, while Freleng’s longtime layout artist Hawley Pratt designed the panther and Ken Harris primarily animated him. Producer David DePatie remembered the movie’s premiere: “The memories of that night will remain with me forever. The projector started to roll and as the Panther first appeared there was a ripple of laughter from the audience which quickly became whistles and roars of approval as the Panther toyed with the various titles. At the conclusion of the main title, the crowd went bananas.”…

(6) REESE WITHERSPOON, LITERARY TASTEMAKER. “When her career hit a wall, the Oscar-winning actor built a ladder made of books — for herself, and for others.” Link bypasses Paywall, courtesy Brad Verter: “Inside Reese Witherspoon’s Literary Empire”

…First and foremost, she wants books by women, with women at the center of the action who save themselves. “Because that’s what women do,” she said. “No one’s coming to save us.”

Witherspoon, 48, has now been a presence in the book world for a decade. Her productions of novels like “Big Little Lies,” “Little Fires Everywhere” and “The Last Thing He Told Me” are foundations of the binge-watching canon. Her book club picks reliably land on the best-seller list for weeks, months or, in the case of “Where the Crawdads Sing,” years. In 2023, print sales for the club’s selections outpaced those of Oprah’s Book Club and Read With Jenna, according to Circana Bookscan, adding up to 2.3 million copies sold.

So how did an actor who dropped out of college (fine, Stanford) become one of the most influential people in an industry known for being intractable and slightly tweedy?

It started with Witherspoon’s frustration over the film industry’s skimpy representation of women onscreen — especially seasoned, strong, smart, brave, mysterious, complicated and, yes, dangerous women…

(7) PUBLIC FROCKING. Attention 18th-century re-enactors! “You Can’t Live in the Past, Even in a Period-Accurate Frock” contends the New York Times, although they know where you can get one.

In 2012, not long after he decided to dedicate his professional life to 18th-century wares, Casey Samson spent a weekend at a colonial-era fair in Bardstown, Ky., selling leather mugs out of a tent.

On his first night there, Mr. Samson sat alone by a crackling campfire, smelled the wood smoke and felt as if he had been transported to a different time. He knew then, he said, that he had made the right choice.

Today, Mr. Samson and his wife, Abbie, own and operate Samson Historical, a three-story business that doubles as a pseudo-museum on the downtown square in Lebanon, Ind., about 30 miles northwest of Indianapolis.

On a recent morning, Mr. Samson, 32, walked into a small warehouse tucked behind the retail space and waxed poetic about the shop’s “great wall of waistcoats.” But there was more: “These are original sugar dippers.” And: “One of Abbie’s passions is clay pipes.” And: “All right, so: gun flints.”

There were breeches and bonnets, frocks and cloaks, candles and lanterns, hip kidneys (for extra support) and bum rolls (for that perfect silhouette). And while Samson Historical has 10 full-time employees and manufactures its own merchandise, it also works with about 40 artisans from trades that are teetering on the edge of extinction: blacksmiths, woodworkers, glass blowers, horners. A fifth-generation pipe maker from Germany handcrafts the store’s pipes.

“A lot of what we do,” Mr. Samson said, “is trying to help keep these things alive.”…

(8) MAYBE YOU WONDERED. “How the ‘B Movie’ Got Its Name” at MSN.com.

When the legendary filmmaker Roger Corman died on May 9 at the age of 98, obituaries dubbed him “the King of the B Movies”—or, even more snappily, “King of the B’s.” He earned that sobriquet by churning out hundreds of low-budget productions, often sensationalistic “exploitation films” or genre fare like horror or science fiction….

In the silent era, motion picture studios began using a tiered approach to categorize productions. When Adolph Zukor founded his Famous Players film company in 1912, he used a three-way classification. As Gerald Mast recounted in his 1971 book “A Short History Of The Movies,” Zukor initially divided his pictures into “Class A (with stage stars and stage properties, the artsy films); Class B (with established screen players); and Class C (cheap, quick features).” Mary Pickford started as a “B” actress in 1914, but her movies quickly proved more popular than Zukor’s “Class A” productions.

A two-tiered system with “Class A” and “Class B” films became the industry standard, catching on during the Great Depression when the “double feature” offered two-for-one pricing to attract customers. The main feature would have the prestigious stars and high production values, while the “B” feature would be an inexpensive, quickly produced genre film like a Western. Studios set up “B units” to produce second features, and the slapdash “B movies” were aptly nicknamed “quickies” or “cheapies.”…

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Paul Weimer.]

Born May 19, 1946 André the Giant.  (Died 1993.) This Birthday for André René Roussimoffwho performed as André the Giant came about because (a) I really, really like The Princess Bride film and have seen it way too many times, and (b) I thought that he was charming in it as Fezzik. That said, I knew nothing about him and all his other performances, or his life story, at all.

He was a French professional wrestler of impressive height, seven feet and four inches to be precise. He would wrestle his entire life right up until he died at age forty-six of congestive heart failure after an apparent heart attack in his sleep in the Paris hotel he was staying at in order to attend his father’s funeral. It was likely associated with his untreated acromegaly which had been diagnosed some twenty-five years earlier.

His first genre role was being Bigfoot on The Six Million Dollar Man on “The Secret of Bigfoot, Part 1” and “The Secret of Bigfoot Part 2”. Naturally I’m giving you a photo of him in that role. 

Next up is being the Monster in “Heaven Is in Your Genes” on Greatest American Hero. Monster, just Monster? So, what did he look like there? Ahhh…. They apparently didn’t a budget for creating a monster which explains the generic name. I’m giving you a photo anyway so you can see what he looked like sans makeup. 

Andre the Giant on Greatest American Hero

He got to be in a film with Arnold Schwarzenegger, Conan the Destroyer. He played Dagoth the Dreaming God, the main antagonist of Conan. For some reason, he was uncredited. Considering what he looks like in the film, it was easy for him to go uncredited. 

Andre the Giant as Dagoth

And that brings us to his best and last genre role, that of Fezzik, the giant in The Princess Bride. He’s played as Goldman describes him in his novel, “Fezzik. The timid, large-hearted and obedient giant who accompanies Vizzini. Fezzik loves rhymes and his friend Inigo, and he is excellent at lifting heavy things.”  

Not a long career, but an interesting one I’d say. 

(10) COMICS SECTION.

Tom Gauld shared his latest:

(11) SAURON TURNS HIS EYE TO YOUR WALLET. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Palantír viewing room included. Hopefully without a working Palantír just in case Melkor find a way to open the Door of Night. I mean, if you thought Sauron was bad news, you sure don’t want to deal with the OG baddy. “$460, 5,471-piece Lego Barad-dûr set comes for LOTR fans’ wallets in June” at Ars Technica. (See the set in detail at the LEGO® Icons website.)

…Sauron, Base Master of Treachery, will keep his Eye on you from atop the tower, which will actually glow thanks to a built-in light brick. The tower includes a minifig of Sauron himself, plus the Mouth of Sauron, Gollum, and a handful of Orcs.

The Lego Barad-dûr set will launch on June 1 for Lego Insiders and June 4 for everybody else. If you buy it between June 1 and June 7, you’ll also get the “Fell Beast” bonus set, with pose-able wings and a Nazgûl minifig. It doesn’t seem as though this bonus set will be sold separately, making it much harder to buy the nine Nazgûl you would need to make your collection story-accurate….

(12) SPACE AT LAST. “90-year-old Ed Dwight, 5 others blast into space aboard Blue Origin rocket”NPR has the story. (This was Blue Origin’s 25th mission to space. The New Shepard Mission NS-25 Webcast replay is on YouTube.)

Ed Dwight, the man who six decades ago nearly became America’s first Black astronaut, made his first trip into space at age 90 on Sunday along with five crewmates aboard Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket.

The flawless liftoff from a West Texas launch site marked the first passenger flight in nearly two years for the commercial space venture run by billionaire Jeff Bezos. The approximately 10-minute suborbital flight put Dwight in the history books as the oldest person ever to reach space. He beat out Star Trek actor William Shatner for that honor by just a few months. Shatner was a few months younger when he went up on a New Shepard rocket in 2021.

(13) INDIA’S NEXT MARS MISSION. Space.com says “India’s ambitious 2nd Mars mission to include a rover, helicopter, sky crane and a supersonic parachute”.

India is preparing to launch a family of seemingly sci-fi robots to Mars, perhaps as soon as late 2024.

The Mars Orbiter Mission-2 (MOM-2), or Mangalyaan-2 (Hindi for “Mars Craft”), is set to include a rover and a helicopter, like a robotic NASA duo already on Mars — the Perseverance rover and now-grounded Ingenuity. A supersonic parachute and a sky crane that will lower the rover onto the Martian surface will also be part of Mangalyaan-2, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) officials said last week during a presentation at the Space Applications Centre in Gujarat, India Today reported….

Media reports from late last year suggest that Mangalyaan-2 will have at least four science instruments designed to study the early history of Mars, analyze its leaking atmosphere, and look for a hypothesized dust ring around the planet generated by its two moons, Phobos and Deimos….

(14) SPEEDING UP TRAVEL TO MARS. “NASA-funded pulsed plasma rocket concept aims to send astronauts to Mars in 2 months” reports Space.com.

An innovative rocket system could revolutionize future deep space missions to Mars, reducing travel time to the Red Planet to just a few months. 

The goal of landing humans on Mars has presented a myriad of challenges, including the need to quickly transport large payloads to and from the distant planet, which, depending on the positions of Earth and Mars, would take almost two years for a round trip using current propulsion technology.The Pulsed Plasma Rocket (PPR), under development by Howe Industries, is a propulsion system designed to be far more efficient than current methods of deep space propulsion, enabling the trip between Earth and the Red Planet to be made in just two months. Specifically, the rocket will have a high specific impulse or Isp, a measure of how efficiently an engine generates thrust. This technology could therefore enable astronauts and cargo to travel to and from Mars more efficiently and rapidly than existing spacecraft, according to a statement from NASA…

(15) THE FINEST SUPERNATURAL TALE IN ENGLISH LITERATURE? [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Moid Moidelhoff over at the Media Death Cult YouTube Channel invites us to consider Algernon Blackwood’s 1907 novelette, ‘The Willows’, as a contender for the grand chief fountainhead of the insidious order.  It did though inspire the likes of H. P. Lovecraft.  You don’t have to buy in to the pronunciation of Danube as ‘dan-noob’ but it is the Moidelhoff way…

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

Pixel Scroll 4/19/24 Pixel And Her Friends

(1) GET READY FOR SELF-PUBLISHED FANTASY BLOG-OFF 10. The ninth contest is about to wrap up, and sponsor Mark Lawrence warns there will be a quick turnaround to start SPFBO 10:

SPFBO 10 (SPFBOX) will open to entries on Friday the 10th of May 2024 at 1pm GMT. The link will be posted here.

The SPFBO 10 contest will start on the 1st of June 2024.

Since SPFBO 9 filled its 300 slots in ~40 minutes, a different system will be used this year so that people in some time zones don’t have to get up in the middle of the night. The entry form will stay open for 24 hours. After it’s closed 300, manuscripts will be randomly selected from the pool of those who have signed up….

(2) 2024 STURGEON SYMPOSIUM. The Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction will hold the third annual Sturgeon Symposium from October 24-25, 2024. Samuel R. Delany will be there.

We are delighted that Samuel R. Delany has accepted our invitation to speak at the symposium. As an innovative author, Delany has redefined the boundaries of SFF as well as literary criticism through his explorations of language, society, sexuality, and narrative form. This year’s symposium acknowledges his lasting impact on science fiction, speculative fiction, and literary criticism.

Delany will speak on the subject “Samuel R. Delany and Theodore Sturgeon: Exclusion, Loneliness and Difference”.

See the Call for Papers here.

(3) DORAN ILLUSTRATED GOOD OMENS DELAYED. Artist Colleen Doran announced “Good Omens Rescheduled” — to accommodate her recovery from cancer treatment.

A couple of weeks ago, Neil Gaiman gave me a call to let me know he was not worried about me flaming out on Good Omens despite my truly awful 2023, and if I needed more time or some help to please take it. Shortly before that, the folks at Dunmanifestin, the publishing arm of the Terry Pratchett Estate, dropped me a line to say the same.

I was very much hoping I’d spring back to normal life after my cancer treatment was finished, but no. I felt like I’d been hit by a truck. My mental and physical energy comes and goes. I told Neil I need to be working ten hour days but have trouble managing six.

Anyway, I nervously requested the dreaded deadline extension and got it. Frankly should have asked for a big(ger) one months ago, but having never had this kind of health issue before, I didn’t know what to expect re: recovery. Some people spring back quickly, and some don’t. I figure I’m fair to middlin’.

So, the Good Omens release date is set for spring next year…

Gaiman and Wilkins say:

As a team, we collectively support Colleen and the time and space needed to finish the graphic novel after the past year she has been powering on through, and have a quick note from both Neil Gaiman and Rob Wilkins, the manager of the Terry Pratchett Estate:

Neil: “I’ve been amazed and impressed by how much Colleen has done so far, despite dealing with health issues. We are proud of her and her dedication to adapting Good Omens with such care, and look forward to holding the finished books in our hands.”

Rob: “Colleen is doing a fantastic job bringing the graphic novel to life. We’re absolutely delighted with each and every page and it is essential she can work comfortably whilst giving the book the time it deserves. She has our full support and we can’t wait for you to see the results.”

(4) BALTICON SF FILM FESTIVAL. Balticon 58, taking place May 24-27, 2024 will feature the Balticon Sunday Short Science Fiction Film Festival. The festival will include “Night of The Cooters” (2022) produced by George RR Martin from a story by Howard Waldrop, directed by Vincent D’Onofrio.

On the program will be 19 Selections from 10 Countries. The showings run 4.5 hours with two intermissions.  Day rates are available for Sunday. 

(5) SCRAPER, NO SCRAPING! “Amazon is filled with garbage ebooks. Here’s how they get made.” according to Vox.

…Here is almost certainly what was going on: “Kara Swisher book” started trending on the Kindle storefront as buzz built up for Swisher’s book. Keyword scrapers that exist for the sole purpose of finding such search terms delivered the phrase “Kara Swisher book” to the so-called biographer, who used a combination of AI and crimes-against-humanity-level cheap ghostwriters to generate a series of books they could plausibly title and sell using her name.

The biographer in question was just one in a vast, hidden ecosystem centered on the production and distribution of very cheap, low-quality ebooks about increasingly esoteric subjects. Many of them gleefully share misinformation or repackage basic facts from WikiHow behind a title that’s been search-engine-optimized to hell and back again. Some of them even steal the names of well-established existing authors and masquerade as new releases from those writers. According to the Authors Guild, it would be impossible for anyone but Amazon to quantify these books — and that’s not information Amazon is sharing….

… It’s so difficult for most authors to make a living from their writing that we sometimes lose track of how much money there is to be made from books, if only we could save costs on the laborious, time-consuming process of writing them.

The internet, though, has always been a safe harbor for those with plans to innovate that pesky writing part out of the actual book publishing. On the internet, it’s possible to copy text from one platform and paste it into another seamlessly, to share text files, to build vast databases of stolen books. If you wanted to design a place specifically to pirate and sleazily monetize books, it would be hard to do better than the internet as it has long existed…

(6) JOHN G. TRIMBLE (1936-2024). Longtime LASFSian John Trimble, husband of Bjo Trimble, died April 19.  Lora Boehm, his daughter, made the announcement on Facebook. The Fancyclopedia notes that he co-chaired Westercon 18 and chaired Westercon 23, He worked on several Equicons, chairing one.

John Trimble in 2004.

He was a co-founder of the LASFS club newzine, De Profundis, for a time helped edit its genzine Shangri-L’Affaires. He also edited To the Stars, a short-lived newzine backed by Authors Services.

John and Bjo Trimble married in 1960 – having met under Forry Ackerman’s piano during a party at his house. Bruce Pelz published A Fanzine for Bjohn in their honor when they wed. (And paging through a copy at their 40th anniversary party I found it’s a highly entertaining read!)

Bjo and John Trimble at Star Trek: Discovery premiere in 2017.

They were early members of the Society for Creative Anachronism and served on its Board of Directors. Together they were Fan Guests of Honor at ConJosé, the 2002 Worldcon.

Lora’s obituary adds:

…Their 3 children, Kathryn, Lora and Jenn have been a constant joy and the addition of husband to Lora, Jason and Jenn’s husband Chris have completed the family.

In 1966 they found a group of people interested in mediaeval combat and arts. They joined the Society of Creative Anachronism (SCA) . John served 2 terms as a member of it’s board of directors, was a landed Baron of the first Barony. His arms were the very first to be registered with the college of Heralds and both John and Bjo have been members ever since. Later that year he said to his wife, “Gee it’s a shame a good science fiction show like Star Trek is going to be canceled. We should do something about that!” And the same Star Trek campaign was born. For over 58 years John and Bjo Trimble have been ambassadors for science fiction, the space program and the SCA. Meeting and hosting people from all walks of life, all over the world.

John has touched thousands of lives in a way that positive and full of joy. He will be greatly missed.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born April 19, 1946 Tim Curry, 78. Let me note upfront that this is very much not an overview of everything that he’s done but my picks of what I like most. 

So let’s start off with him as Cardinal Richelieu, the corrupt Cardinal who in charge of the Red Guards in The Three Musketeerswhich came out forty-one years ago from Disney. He magnificently costumed as you can see here and had the most devilish beard as well. It’s a wonderfully over the top role that works even that I think he only has than a handful of scenes. It won’t surprise anyone here for me to say he comes to a dramatic and wonderfully flamboyant demise.

Next up must be his role in that film. Need I say which one? I think not. He rose to prominence as Dr. Frank-N-Furter reprising the role he had originated in the 1973 London and 1974 Los Angeles musical stage productions. Good, that output, and that singing. What an amazing performance it was. I’ve seen it a number of times including yes in a theater at midnight. Seattle if memory serves me right. 

Tim Curry in Rocky Horror.

Would you like to know what my absolutely favorite Tim Curry performance is? That would be him in Clue. When I wrote it up here three years back, I noted that “It had a stellar cast of Tim Curry, Madeline Kahn, Christopher Lloyd, Michael McKean, Martin Mull. Lesley Ann Warren and Eileen Brennan. Tim Curry played The Butler.”  

Tim Curry in Clue

Such a role it was. Hyperkinetic, full of Bugs Bunny worthy action on his part and some of the best bouncing off all walls possible dialogue ever said by a Butler.

Siskel and Ebert hated the three alternative endings as different theatres originally got one of three though eventually all theatres got all of them. It still bombed. 

My final is him as Gomez Addams in Addams Family Reunion. Not perhaps the first person that you’d think of for the role given John Astin originated the role and Raul Julia had played him twice to that date, each being sharp-dressed gentleman, but he turned out to a rather splendid choice first the third outing as the director Tony Payne wanted this version of the character to be weird and Curry does weird oh very well.  

Tim Curry as Gomez Addams.

So there’s my choices. So what’s your favorite role by him? 

(8) MORE FALLOUT. Variety tells us “’Fallout’ Renewed for Season 2 at Amazon”.

“Fallout” has been renewed for Season 2 at Amazon Prime Video.

The announcement comes after Variety reported that a second season was set to receive $25 million in tax credits by relocating shooting to the state of California.

Based on the video game franchise of the same name, the series is set two hundred years after the apocalypse. The official description states it follows “the gentle denizens of luxury fallout shelters that are forced to return to the irradiated hellscape their ancestors left behind—and are shocked to discover an incredibly complex, gleefully weird, and highly violent universe waiting for them.”

(9) AVENGERS AND OTHERS ASSEMBLE. Here’s an amusing video – we’ll call it ”Superheroes stop for a traffic light”.

(10) A REASON TO MAKE A MARTIAN ODYSSEY. “NASA’s downed Ingenuity helicopter has a ‘last gift’ for humanity — but we’ll have to go to Mars to get it” says Live Science.

NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter has beamed back its final message to Earth, which included a heart-warming goodbye to mission scientists. The record-breaking robot will now spend the rest of its days collecting data that could be used in future Mars missions — but only if future robots or astronauts go all the way to the Red Planet to get it.

The pigeon-size helicopter, or rotorcraft, first landed on the Red Planet on Feb. 18, 2021, alongside the Perseverance rover, and it successfully completed the first-ever powered flight on an alien world on April 19 of the same year. The Ingenuity mission’s initial goal was to fly five missions across 30 days. But the tiny chopper ended up flying 72 times on Mars, spending more than two hours in the air and traveling 14 times farther than initially planned, according to a statement by NASA.

According to NASA:

…If a critical electrical component on Ingenuity were to fail in the future, causing data collection to stop, or if the helicopter eventually loses power because of dust accumulation on its solar panel, whatever information Ingenuity has collected will remain stored on board. The team has calculated Ingenuity’s memory could potentially hold about 20 years’ worth of daily data….

(11) WHAT’S THE RECIPE FOR THESE PLANETS? “Uranus and Neptune aren’t made of what we thought, new study hints” reports Live Science. Whatever you expected to find on Uranus, look again…

Astronomers have long believed that the ice giants Uranus and Neptune are rich in frozen water. However, a new study suggests they may also have tons of methane ice.

The findings could help solve a puzzle about how these icy worlds formed.Much about Uranus and Neptune remains unknown. These ice giant worlds have had just a single spacecraft visitor, Voyager 2, which flew past them in the 1980s. As a result, scientists have only a hazy idea of the ice giants’ compositions — for example, that they contain significant amounts of oxygen, carbon and hydrogen.

… Of the various models they built, the astronomers found that those with methane fit their criteria, with the methane — either in solid chunks or, given the pressure, in a mushy state — forming a thick layer between the hydrogen-helium envelope and the water layer. In some models, methane accounted for 10% of the planet’s mass….

(12) TWO^H^H^H ONE NEW PITCH MEETINGS^H. [Item by Mike Kennedy.]

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

Pixel Scroll 4/16/24 Click For The Scroll Necessities, The Simple Scroll Necessities

(1) DATLOW Q&A. The Horror Writers Association blog checks in with one the genre’s all-stars: “NUTS & BOLTS: Interview With Ellen Datlow, Editor and Shaper of Multiple Genres”.

Q: What qualities must a story have to qualify as good horror in particular?

A: The things that any good story has plus the building of a sense of unease in the reader, the feeling that something is seriously wrong — dark and creepy and horrific. Horrible things are going to happen or are happening. I don’t expect stories to scare me, but I surely appreciate them making me feel extremely uncomfortable.

Q: What are some of your most common reasons for rejecting stories?

A: Bad writing, boring, tired plots. The words lying there like a dead fish.

(2) 2024 NEBULA CONFERENCE PRELIMINARY PROGRAMMING SCHEDULE HAS BEEN RELEASED. SFWA’s preliminary programming schedule for the 2024 Nebula Conference can be viewed here. The full schedule of events, including office hours and author meet-and-greets is yet to come.

Programming will begin on the 6th of June at 1:30pm PDT and conclude on the 9th of June at 11:30am PDT.

This professional development conference is for all authors and industry professionals within the science fiction, fantasy, and related genres and includes content geared toward creators working in games, comics, prose, poetry, and other mediums of storytelling.

If you volunteered to speak on programming: Thank you! You may have received a programming assignment email–please review this email to accept your assignment. Some assignments, however, will arrive in later waves. If you have not received an assignment you are still being considered. Our programming team will send notifications to all speaking volunteers, including those who were not scheduled, when assignments are complete.

If you submitted a programming idea: We’re grateful for the hundreds of panel topics and suggestions submitted for the conference – if your submission was not scheduled for this conference weekend, we may still be in touch about using it for an online panel later this year or during another event.

New Registration Feature: If you’ve already registered for the conference, we’ve now implemented a checkbox on newer registrations to show that you’re going! This option wasn’t available early on in the registration process, but if you’d like to opt-in and show your name on our list of attendees, please email [email protected] and we’ll get you sorted!

Registration (whether online or in-person in Pasadena, CA,  includes access to the event, a year of access to recordings of many of the weekend’s panels, mentorship opportunities, the Nebula Awards ceremony, a conference Discord, and entry to our ongoing Nebula conference events–writing events, regular online panels, meetups, and more!

Register here.

Room Block: If you are thinking about attending in person, time is ticking to reserve your room for the conference. Our room block will be closing soon and SFWA will not be able to guarantee the price for your stay with us. Every room that is booked directly will help us with our room block obligations, so if you have already booked, please let us know so we can add you to our list! 

Hotel booking – Start your reservation.

(3) A THOUSAND SUNS. Inverse says don’t miss out: “The Best Sci-Fi Anthology Series of the Year Is Streaming For Free Right Now”.

…One indie sci-fi anthology series, just released on YouTube, proves that the short form is still alive and well. A Thousand Suns is a series created by filmmaker Macgregor, a cinematographer who has worked on everything from music videos for Dua Lipa to the Gerard Butler spy thriller Kandahar. Produced by Blackmilk Studios, with work from directors Ruairi Robinson, Tyson Wade Johnston, Tim Hyten, and Philip Gelatt, A Thousand Suns is basically a miniature, independent sci-fi film festival that you can watch right now….

…Because each of these shorts is about four minutes long, the Black Mirror-esque twists are sort of already happening as soon as you start watching….

…As of April [15], 2024, there are six episodes of A Thousand Suns up on YouTube and on the official site: 1Ksuns.com

This is the trailer:

Here’s Episode One:

(4) CINEMATIC LANGUAGE. “’Civil War’ Action Sequences Build on War Movies” at IndieWire.

… “Civil War” joins a robust tradition of war films stretching back as far as 1925’s “The Big Parade” and 1926’s “What Price Glory?” that try to convey the power of violence itself: its horror, its allure, its twisted humor, and most of all its undeniable pull towards more violence. Hardy told IndieWire that he was much more influenced by photographers William Eggleston and Saul Leiter than specific war films or war photographers — although he did look at the work of Jessie’s (Cailee Spaeny) hero Lee Miller and others….

… Here are five war films (and one video game) that all share something — be it a sensibility, specific techniques, or a philosophical approach — with how “Civil War” tackles its action and combat sequences. They show just how successful war films can be at evoking strong feelings about violence, suffering, power, and courage, and also just how hard it is to tell war stories in a way that helps us avert them….

Here’s what the writer says about one of them:

‘Zero Dark Thirty’ (2012)

The impact of “Zero Dark Thirty” seems to have lessened over time, but that might be because the Seal Team Six assault that takes up the final third of Kathryn Bigelow’s film is so tautly edited that it leaves no room for other combat sequences to top its realism. Its use of night vision cameras and its ability to make the camera feel like another soldier on the mission is painfully precise. But there’s also something of a military practitioner’s perspective on how the camera tracks movement and what it settles on as important — it assesses threats and moves on. That perspective is sometimes clinical, sometimes fearful and adrenaline-fueled, and doesn’t leave too much space for sadness or horror until it floods in. Whether that is good enough determines whether you think a movie with combat sequences like “Zero Dark Thirty” or “Civil War” is ultimately a success or a failure in what it has to say about war.

(5) BAKER STREET IRREGULARITIES. Here’s a literary curiosity: “Sherlock Holmes Original Manuscripts by Conan Doyle: A Census by Randall Stock & Peter E. Blau”. There is a list at the link.

…Conan Doyle wrote 60 Sherlock Holmes stories.  He sold or gave away many of these manuscripts during his lifetime.  He passed along others through his children.  They eventually sold most of them, but his last surviving child, Dame Jean Conan Doyle (1912-1997), bequeathed three Holmes manuscripts to British institutions.  Her gifts included The Retired ColourmanThe Illustrious Client, and The Creeping Man….

… Almost all of the Holmes manuscripts written after 1902 still exist, in part because Conan Doyle started submitting typed copies to his publishers and retaining the original for himself.  Only 4 of the 27 manuscripts written before 1902 are known to survive, although a few leaves remain from three other tales.  Private collectors hold about half of the known existing manuscripts….

(6) EXTREMIST PLAY. “IntelBrief: Incels and the Gaming-Radicalization Nexus” is an overview by The Soufan Center.

… Gaming is an inherently multisensory, immersive experience that, when riddled with violence or slanted by an extremist ideology, can be more impactful than a simple propaganda text or image in the radicalization process. According to a report by the UN Counter-Terrorism Centre (UNCCT) on the intersection between gaming and violent extremism, simulations created by extremists in otherwise neutral games like The Sims and Minecraft allow players to experience the Christchurch massacre from the shooter’s perspective. Meanwhile, in Roblox, a system that allows users to program and play games created by themselves or other users, extremists have created “white ethnostates”. Christian Picciolini, a former white supremacist, has explained how far-right extremists use popular games like Fortnite, Minecraft, and Call of Duty to recruit and radicalize marginalized youth experiencing social isolation….

(7) DRAGON ICON BURNS. “Fire destroys Copenhagen’s Old Stock Exchange, collapsing its spire”AP News says the 184-foot-tall dragon-tail spire was destroyed today.

A fire raged through one of Copenhagen’s oldest buildings Tuesday, destroying about half of the 17th-century Old Stock Exchange and collapsing its iconic dragon-tail spire, as passersby rushed to help emergency services save priceless paintings and other valuables.

The blaze broke out on the building’s roof during renovations, but police said it was too early to pinpoint the cause. The red-brick building, with its green copper roof and distinctive 56-meter (184-foot) spire in the shape of four intertwined dragon tails, is a major tourist attraction next to Denmark’s parliament, Christiansborg Palace, in the heart of the capital.

Bells tolled and sirens sounded as fire engulfed the spire and sent it crashing onto the building, which was shrouded by scaffolding. Huge billows of smoke rose over downtown Copenhagen and could be seen from southern Sweden, which is separated from the Danish capital by a narrow waterway.

(Click for larger images.)

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born April 16, 1921 Sir Peter Alexander Ustinov. (Died 2004.) Peter Ustinov showed up in Logan’s Run as the Old Man; he had the lead role in Blackbeard’s Ghost as Captain Blackbeard based the Robert Stevenson novel; he was Charlie Chan in Charlie Chan and the Curse of the Dragon Queen (it’s at least genre adjacent, isn’t it?); he’s The Caliph in stellar Thief of Baghdad; a truck driver in The Great Muppet Caper and finally he has the dual roles of Grandfather and Phoenix in The Phoenix and the Carpet.

Peter Ustinov in 1986. Portrait by Allan Warren.

He voiced myriad characters in animated films including that of Grendel in Grendel Grendel Grendel based off John Gardner’s novel Grendel, in Robin Hood, he voiced Prince John King Richard; and in The Mouse and His Child, he was the voice of Manny the Rat. 

Now I’m going to admit that my favorite role by Peter Ustinov was playing Poirot which he did in half a dozen films, which he first in Death on the Nile and then in Evil Under the SunThirteen at DinnerDead Man’s Folly, Murder in Three Acts and Appointment with Death. He wasn’t my favorite Point as that was David Suchet but it was obvious that he liked performing that role quite a bit. 

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • The Far Side needles Superman.
  • Macanudo shows a problem you can never get away from, even on Arrakis.

(10) CHP PUTS THEIR FOOT DOWN. Luckily, they were wearing shoes.“California police arrest four in $300,000 stolen Lego brick bust” in The Verge.

Los Angeles citizens can rest easy knowing that a criminal theft ring is no longer stalking the city’s retail stores to feed a Lego black market. That’s because the California Highway Patrol (CHP) announced this week that it had arrested four people it accused of swiping what police estimated was “approximately $300,000” worth of Lego sets.

The four had allegedly burgled stores like Target, Home Depot, and Lowe’s of their Lego stock and sold them to black-market dealers who would then vend the stolen bricks at “seemingly legitimate businesses, swap meets, or online.” Police say they were booked on “charges related to Organized Retail Theft, Grand Theft, and Conspiracy to commit a crime.”…

(11) AS YOU WISH. Figure Fan Zero reviews “The Princess Bride Figures by McFarlane”. Lots of photos of the figures in different poses.

The Princess Bride is a movie that I absolutely love and for some reason never seem to re-watch a lot these days. I’m not sure why that is, but maybe it’s because I overdid it back when it first hit home video. I was surprised to see McFarlane turn up with the license, not only because it was a weird fit among their sea of DC Comics and Warhammer figures, but also because the film has received so little merchandising over the years. Either way, I wasn’t in on these figures when they were first released, but earlier this year they hit the bargain bins and I was able to snap up the regular figures for under ten bucks each and the Mega Figure, Fezzik, for $16. So, let’s just tackle the whole damn thing today! Inconceivable? Nah, we can do this!

(12) JOCULARITY. Entertainment Weekly is “On set for Ncuti Gatwa’s ‘Doctor Who’ debut”.

…To be fair, Gatwa has a lot to laugh about. After stealing scenes in Sex Education and Barbie, the 31-year-old actor is launching his next act, playing the titular Time Lord in the BBC’s legendary sci-fi series Doctor Who. After popping up in last year’s 60th anniversary special, “The Giggle,” and a solo Christmas episode, he’s now taking full control of the TARDIS, headlining his first full season as the Doctor — making him the first Black and first openly queer man to take on the role. It’s a new era for both Gatwa and the show itself: For the first time ever, the BBC is partnering with Disney+ to launch the show worldwide, and when the new season premieres May 10, it will air simultaneously around the globe….

(13) FORGET PLAN A, FIND PLAN $. NASA admits plan to bring Mars rocks to Earth won’t work — and seeks fresh ideas. Meaning: cheaper. “Nasa: ‘New plan needed to return rocks from Mars’” at the BBC.

The US space agency says the current mission design can’t return the samples before 2040 on the existing funds and the more realistic $11bn (£9bn) needed to make it happen is not sustainable.

Nasa is going to canvas for cheaper, faster “out of the box” ideas.

It hopes to have a solution on the drawing board later in the year.

Returning rock samples from Mars is regarded as the single most important priority in planetary exploration, and has been for decades.Just as the Moon rocks brought home by Apollo astronauts revolutionised our understanding of early Solar System history, so materials from the Red Planet are likely to recast our thinking on the possibilities for life beyond Earth….

(14) IT’S OFFICIAL. “NASA confirms mystery object that crashed through roof of Florida home came from space station”Yahoo! has the story.

NASA confirmed Monday that a mystery object that crashed through the roof of a Florida home last month was a chunk of space junk from equipment discarded at the International Space Station.

The cylindrical object that tore through the home in Naples on March 8 was subsequently taken to the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral for analysis.

The space agency said it was a metal support used to mount old batteries on a cargo pallet for disposal. The pallet was jettisoned from the space station in 2021, and the load was expected to eventually fully burn up on entry into Earth’s atmosphere, but one piece survived.

The chunk of metal weighed 1.6 pounds (0.7 kilograms) and was 4 inches (10 centimeters) tall and roughly 1 1/2 inches (4 centimeters) wide.

Homeowner Alejandro Otero told television station WINK at the time that he was on vacation when his son told him what had happened. Otero came home early to check on the house, finding the object had ripped through his ceiling and torn up the flooring….

(15) BUSINESS IS BOOMING. Unlike the last story, you won’t need NASA to make a home delivery in order to look at this: “NASA’s New Solar Sail Spacecraft Will Shine So Bright We’ll See It From Earth” reports Autoevolution.

… The most recent piece of news on this front comes from American space agency NASA, which announced last week that it is getting ready to launch a new kind of solar sail that may revolutionize such technologies.

You see, one of the trickiest parts of making a solar sail is not the sail surface itself but the booms that are used to deploy them. That’s because solar sails are meant to extend after the ship reaches space.

At the moment there are only so many materials booms can be made from, and so many structures that can be used, and that limits the capabilities of a functional sail. NASA says it kind of solved that problem and promises “to change the sailing game for the future.”

The hardware that will do that is officially called Advanced Composite Solar Sail System (ACS3), and it physically comprises twelve NanoAvionics CubeSats linked together. The boom that’s meant to unfurl the sail is made of flexible polymer and carbon fiber materials.

NASA says this way of making the booms ensures they are both stiffer and lighter than what came before, which were either heavy, metallic structures or light but bulky ones that didn’t necessarily fold as they should have.

The new NASA design comes as tubes that can be squashed flat and rolled like a tape measure – up to 23 feet (seven meters) of booms can be rolled into something that fits in a human hand, NASA says. The design also provides less bending and flexing during temperature changes, which is what the spacecraft is expected to experience in space….

(16) SCOOBY SPINOFF CONTINUES. Velma Season 2 premieres April 25 on Max.

More mystery. More murder. And lots, lots more meddling.

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

Pixel Scroll 3/25/24 For A Short Time, They Were Amber Pixels, But All Cried NAY, And They Returned To True Green

(1) THE THOUGHT PANZER PROBLEM. [Item by Doctor Science.] “Netflix blockbuster ‘3 Body Problem’ divides opinion and sparks nationalist anger in China” reports CNN.

A Netflix adaptation of wildly popular Chinese sci-fi novel “The Three-Body Problem has split opinions in China and sparked online nationalist anger over scenes depicting a violent and tumultuous period in the country’s modern history. …

Author Liu said in an interview with the New York Times in 2019 that he had originally wanted to open the book with scenes from Mao’s Cultural Revolution, but his Chinese publisher worried they would never make it past government censors and buried them in the middle of the narrative.

The English version of the book, translated by Ken Liu, put the scenes at the novel’s beginning, with the author’s blessing.

Ye Wenjie’s disillusionment with the Cultural Revolution later proves pivotal in the sci-fi thriller’s plot, which jumps between the past and present day.

I learned of the CNN article via esteemed Sinologist Victor Mair at Language Log: “’The Three Body Problem’ as rendered by Netflix: vinegar and dumplings”.

All of this rancorous dissension surrounding the Netflix version of “The Three Body Problem” reminds me of what transpired after the airing of “River Elegy” (Héshāng 河殇), which was written during the latter part of the 80s.  This was a six-part documentary aired by China Central Television on June 16, 1988 that employed the Yellow River as a metaphor for the decline of Chinese civilization.  … I strongly believe that it was this artistic production created by Premier Zhao Ziyang’s (1919-2005) zhìnáng tuán 智囊团 (“think tank”) in an inclusive sense that precipitated the Tiananmen protests and massacre one year later …”

“The difference is that “River Elegy” was a documentary created in China by critical, progressive intellectuals, whereas the Netflix version of “Three Body” is a film adaptation of a Chinese sci-fi novel infused with Western ideas and standards by its American producers, making it a much more complicated proposition.

Let’s see if the chemistry is there in Netflix’s “Three Body” to cause the sort of ramifications that ensued from CNN’s “River elegy”.

(Dr. Mair’s history of the think tank, “River Elegy”, and the Tiananmen protests is here: “Thought Panzers”).

… As soon as I read the expression “sīxiǎng tǎnkè 思想坦克”, I had the exact same impression as Mark.  It sounded bièniu 彆扭 (“awkward”), weird, unnatural.  But I don’t think the person who translated the English term “think tank” into “sīxiǎng tǎnkè 思想坦克” was clever enough to add the extra military dimension consciously, though they may have done so sub/unconsciously ….

(2) NO AI RX FOR THE DOCTOR AFTER ALL. [Item by Ersatz Culture.] A couple of weeks ago, the March 7th Pixel Scroll covered the BBC’s plan to use AI to promote Doctor Who.  Today Deadline reports that this plan has been abandoned.

The BBC has “no plans” to use AI again to promote Doctor Who after receiving complaints from viewers.

The BBC’s marketing teams used the tech “as part of a small trial” to help draft some text for two promotional emails and mobile notifications, according to its complaints website, which was intended to highlight Doctor Who programming on the BBC.

But the corporation received complaints over the reports that it was using generative AI, it added.

“We followed all BBC editorial compliance processes and the final text was verified and signed-off by a member of the marketing team before it was sent,” the BBC said. “We have no plans to do this again to promote Doctor Who.”   

(3) AO3 VS. DDOS. Archive Of Our Own’s Systems volunteers have posted an account of last year’s DDoS attacks against the Archive. “The AO3 July/August DDoS Attacks: Behind the Scenes”.

…We later found out that the attack had actually peaked at 65 million requests per second. For context, the largest publicly announced HTTP DDoS attack by Cloudflare at the time was a 71 million request per second attack. Additionally, we received information that the attack originated from the Mirai botnet. However, Cloudflare did its job well and we saw very little, if any, impact….

(4) WOMEN ARTISTS HARD HIT AS NEWSPAPER CHAINS SHED PRINT COMICS. [Item by Kristine Kathryn Rusch.] Cartoonist Georgia Dunn discovered that Gannett has gotten rid of most of its diverse and female cartoonists, even if they’re making money for the syndicate.

Michael Cavna’s article in the Washington Post explains why “Standardization at Gannett, other chains, leaves few women in print comics” [Google cache file; article is behind a paywall.].

The latest warning signs for some female artists began last fall. Suddenly, their work began disappearing from many American comics pages.

An announcement started hitting the pages of newspapers dotted around the country: the USA Today Network, owned by Gannett, was “standardizing” its comics across more than 200 publications. One of those newspapers, the Coloradoan, published a list of comics, batched in groups, that it said made up Gannett’s new lineup of options.

What began to concern some cartoonists and industry observers: None of the dozens of comics listed as print offerings for Gannett papers was actively being created by a woman artist.

Just three strips in Gannett’s list of print comics have a credited woman: “For Better or For Worse,” which creator Lynn Johnston says is in reruns; “Luann,” by writer-artist Greg Evans and his daughter, co-author Karen Evans; and “Shoe,” by artist Gary Brookins and Susie MacNelly.

As the changes rolled out at many Gannett papers between October and early this year, Hilary Price, creator of the long-running syndicated strip “Rhymes With Orange,” said she began to see a significant dip in her sales income.

Price said she is accustomed to encountering misogynistic reader responses to her work as an artist. What is becoming professionally demoralizing to her lately, though, is the sense that female artists are being removed from America’s comics pages as several newspaper chains have consolidated or contracted their print funnies in recent years.

Some female cartoonists say that as they endure double-digit percentage losses in their income from client papers, their representation in print, already historically unbalanced, is growing alarmingly, and disproportionately, small.

…Georgia Dunn, creator of the syndicated “Breaking Cat News,” said her income dropped substantially in recent months as a result.

“I don’t think it’s a Machiavellian plot — I don’t think it’s intentional,” Dunn said of the optics that female artists are being disproportionately affected by the industry’s changes. “But they overlook us a lot.”

…The “Breaking Cat News” creator shared with her readers the bad news that she might have to make some hard financial decisions as her client income dropped sharply. But “when I shared with them how this restructuring hit me, they made up my lost income overnight,” she said.

“I woke up and opened Patreon and started crying,” she continued. “I felt like George Bailey at the end of ‘It’s a Wonderful Life.’”…

And here’s Dunn’s follow-up post on GoComics. (Scroll beneath the cartoon itself) — Breaking Cat News – March 23.

(5) SAM I AM. John O’Neill’s “The Horrors of Sam Moskowitz” at Black Gate begins its discussion of a series of horror anthologies with this discussion of their fanhistoric editor:

…Moskowitz was an interesting character. A professional magazine editor, he edited the trade journals Quick Frozen Foods and Quick Frozen Foods International for many years, and he gradually put his professional skills to use in the genre, starting in 1953 with Science-Fiction Plus, Hugo Gernsback’s last science fiction magazine. He began editing anthologies with Editor’s Choice in Science Fiction, published by McBride in 1954, and produced two dozen more over the next 20 years.

Moskowitz (who sometimes published under the name “Sam Moscowitz,” maybe because the ‘k’ on his typewriter was worn out?), was just as well known as a critic and genre historian. While still a teenager, he was one of the key organizers of the first Worldcon, held in New York City in 1939 (where he famously barred several Futurians, including Donald A. Wollheim, Fred Pohl, Robert A. W. Lowndes, Cyril Kornbluth, and others).

His genre histories and biographies, including Explorers of the Infinite and Seekers of Tomorrow, are still well worth reading today — as is his legendary history of fannish feuds, The Immortal Storm, which fan historian Harry Warner Jr. summed up with,

“If read directly after a history of World War II, it does not seem like an anticlimax.”

First Fandom still presents an annual award in Moskowitz’s memory each year at Worldcon….

(6) IT’S NOW AN EX-CASE.  Deadline is on hand as “Judge Tosses X/Twitter Case Against Group That Produced Study On Proliferation Of Hate Speech On Platform”.

A federal judge tossed out a lawsuit brought by X/Twitter against a watching group that produced a study that examined the proliferation of hate speech on the platform.

U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer concluded that the platform, owned by Elon Musk, was attempting to chill the speech rights of the Center for Countering Digital Hate and other groups.

The judge wrote that X’s “motivation in bringing this case is evident. X Corp. has brought this case in order to punish [Center for Countering Digital Hate] for CCDH publications that criticized X Corp.—and perhaps in order to dissuade others who might wish to engage in such criticism.”

X/Twitter had sued the group, claiming that in doing their study, they unlawfully “scraped” the platform for its data that led to an exodus of advertisers.

“X disagrees with the court’s decision and plans to appeal,” the company said.

Read the judge’s decision in the X case….

(7) CHECKING IN ON THE COPYRIGHT CLAIMS BOARD. At Writer Beware, Michael Capobianco suspends judgment about the effectiveness of the relatively new Copyright Claims Board: “To CCB or Not to CCB: The Question is Still Out”.

It’s been more than a year since my last post about the now not-so-new Copyright Claims Board (CCB).

Victoria covered the CCB when it first started hearing claims in June 2022, and her post gives a good summary of how it operates and what it is supposed to accomplish. The short version:  The CCB was created as a judicial body under the US Copyright Office to administer small copyright claims that would be too expensive and/or time-consuming in federal court.

At the time I confess I was worried about an eventuality that fortunately hasn’t come true. There are vanishingly few copyright trolls trying to use the CCB to collect money from innocent or ignorant individuals by scaring them into paying settlements. On the other hand, it has worked for some business to business claims: Joe Hand Promotions, Inc., a company that “serves as the exclusive distributor of all Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and select boxing pay-per-view programming” is by far the most frequent CCB claimant, with forty-five claims and counting, mainly against bars and restaurants, and many of those are withdrawn from consideration by the CCB and apparently settled privately.

What has happened in the intervening 20 months has been a disappointment for anyone hoping that the CCB would become a useful tool for writers seeking to get redress for infringement of their work. First of all, the number of “literary” claims is still very small, around 10% of total claims, and many of those, as we previously pointed out, are dismissed by the CCB because they weren’t filed correctly or have other flaws. Some are outright bizarre, and I may do a post about them in the future. With others the claimant doesn’t understand that a vendor selling used copies of their books is not a violation of their copyright….

…In short, even as its second birthday is only a few months away, it’s still too early to draw conclusions about the efficacy of the CCB when it comes to literary works, especially books. The majority of the claims that it has decided so far involve photographs and, in those cases, it generally is finding in favor of the photographer and awarding reasonable to low damages. But there are still only a handful of contested decisions and none of them involve the kinds of published material that Writer Beware usually deals with….

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born March 25, 1920 Patrick Troughton. (Died 1987.) So let’s talk about Patrick Troughton, the Second Doctor. 

(Digression: All of the classic Doctors are available on the BritBox streaming service. It’s $8.99 a month for a lot of British content including all of the Poirot mysteries. End of digression.) 

The first time that I watched his run I wasn’t at all fond of him as I thought his characterization wasn’t that serious. Rewatching them a few years ago on BritBox, I realized that he was a much better actor than I thought he was and that his Doctor was a much better, more nuanced persona that I realized. No, he’s still not anywhere near my favorite Doctor but now I can watch him without cringing. 

Patrick Troughton as the Second Doctor Who.

Ok I’m getting distracted…

Part of his problem, and yes of the first Doctor, and yes this is just my opinion, is that the scripts weren’t that good. It wasn’t until the Third Doctor that they started actually thinking about having decent scripts.

So what did he do? Well he had the distinct honor of being in The Gorgon, an early Sixties horror film with Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing.   

Horror films involving Dracula, Frankenstein, feathered serpents and demons would all see him make his appearance. He showed in a lot of mysteries including the Danger Man and The Saint series. And several Sherlock Holmes series as well. 

I think Space: 1999 is the only other genre series he appeared in besides a lot of Robin Hood work in the Fifties, mostly on The Adventures of Robin Hood

(9) COMICS SECTION.

(10) A CHANCE TO START AT THE BEGINNING. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] The weekly 2000AD British anthology SF/F comic has its landmark 2,375 issue coming out next week. “New readers start here: jump on board with 2000 AD #2375”.

First up, it’s a little longer at 48 pages.  Second, all the current stories ended this week, so the next, 2,375 prog will see the start of all new stories: so, no jumping into the middle of something. In short this is an ideal place for newcomers to give it a try. 2000AD is perhaps most noted for its Judge Dredd strip. But there is a Rogue Trooper film in the works….

The new issue of 2000 AD has been precision-tooled for those hungry to discover why it’s called the Galaxy’s Greatest Comic – with bitingly good stories from top comics talent!

2000 AD Prog 2375 is a 48-page special on sale from 27 March, with a bold new cover by Hitman artist John McCrea and colourist Jack Davies.

This latest issue is designed to make it easy for new readers to pick up 2000 AD, with a mix of brand new stories and ongoing series that showcase the best the GGC has to offer!

(11) SHATNER ON JIMMY KIMMEL. The Captain celebrated his birthday on late night TV a few days ago with a flaming cake and a mulligan on Captain Kirk’s final moments: “William Shatner on Turning 93, Going to Space & He Gets a Do-Over of His Star Trek Death Scene”.

(12) A LAUGHING MATTER. Bob Byrne’s enjoyment is contagious in his article “Terry Pratchett – A Modern-Day Fantasy Voltaire” for Black Gate.

…Rincewind isn’t Conan, or Elric, or Gandalf (I’ve met Gandalf, and you sir, are no Gandalf). But while we love reading about the great heroes (or villains), we ‘get’ Rincewind….

(13) FUNNY VIDEO. [Item by Jennifer Hawthorne.] This clip showed up on Reddit. It’s apparently from the shooting set of Ford’s TV show, Shrinking. “Harrison Ford is too old for this shit”.

(14) CARGO CULTISTS. “Astronauts’ mementos packed on Boeing Starliner for crew flight test”Space.com has the story.

A NASA astronaut who had the honor of naming her spacecraft will fly items inspired by that name when she launches to the International Space Station next month.

Sunita “Suni” Williams, who is set to fly with fellow NASA astronaut Barry “Butch” Wilmore on Boeing’s first Crew Flight Test (CFT) of its CST-100 Starliner capsule, will reveal the “Calypso”-related items once she is in orbit.

“A little homage to other explorers and the ships they rode on, I think we are going to call her ‘Calypso,'” said Williams in 2019, when she announced the ship’s name just after it returned to Earth from flying its first uncrewed mission.

Boeing announced Williams’ intentions as it completed packing Calypso for the CFT launch, which is currently targeted for April 22. All that remains to be added to the vehicle are some late stow items and the astronauts, themselves.

The CFT Starliner will carry 759 pounds (344 kilograms) of cargo, including 452 pounds (205 kilograms) from Boeing and 307 pounds (139 kilograms) from NASA. Boeing will have 25 bags and NASA will have 11 bags stored in the cabin where Wilmore and Williams will be seated….

(15) MARK WATNEY’S HOME AWAY FROM HOME. View NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day at the link – a photo of a place you’ve probably read about already.

Ares 3 Landing Site: The Martian Revisited. Explanation: This close-up from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter’s HiRISE camera shows weathered craters and windblown deposits in southern Acidalia Planitia. A striking shade of blue in standard HiRISE image colors, to the human eye the area would probably look grey or a little reddish. But human eyes have not gazed across this terrain, unless you count the eyes of NASA astronauts in the scifi novel The Martian by Andy Weir. The novel chronicles the adventures of Mark Watney, an astronaut stranded at the fictional Mars mission Ares 3 landing site corresponding to the coordinates of this cropped HiRISE frame. For scale Watney’s 6-meter-diameter habitat at the site would be about 1/10th the diameter of the large crater. Of course, the Ares 3 landing coordinates are only about 800 kilometers north of the (real life) Carl Sagan Memorial Station, the 1997 Pathfinder landing site.

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Black Nerd Problems tees up the Studio Ghibli Fest for 2024.

Studio Ghibli Fest is back in theaters in its biggest year yet! Now, coming off the triumphant Oscar® win for Hayao Miyazaki’s latest feature The Boy and the Heron, celebrate this iconic studio with an all-new selection of fan favorites and iconic titles alike.

This year’s lineup highlights the works of studio co-founders Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata, as well as directors Yoshifumi Kondo, Hiroyuki Morita, and Hiromasa Yonebayashi. In celebration of Hayao Miyazaki’s recent Oscar win, Studio Ghibli Fest 2024 kicks off with the acclaimed director’s previous Academy Award-winning feature, Spirited Away, which took home the Oscar in 2001.

The lineup also includes special celebrations for the Howl’s Moving Castle 20th Anniversary, Kiki’s Delivery Service 25th Anniversary, and Pom Poko 30th Anniversary.

[Thanks to SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Steven French, Mike Kennedy, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Kathy Sullivan, Jennifer Hawthorne, JJ, Doctor Science, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Mark.]

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 3/15/24 What Can You Scroll About Chocolate Covered Stepping Disks?

(1) WALDROP TO THE SCREEN. George R.R. Martin tells us, “The Chickens Are Coming” at Not A Blog.

Howard Waldrop is gone, but his work will live on.

…And here’s the latest one, an adaptation of Howard’s most famous story, THE UGLY CHICKENS.  Winner of the Nebula.   Winner of the World Fantasy Award.   Nominee for the Hugo, but, alas, not a winner.   A pity, that.  Howard never won a Hugo, but in some more Waldropian  world he has ten of them lined up on his mantle.

Felicia Day (SUPERNATURAL, THE GUILD, DR. HORRIBLE’S SING ALONG BLOG) stars in our film of “that dodo story.”   Mark Raso (COPENHAGEN, KODACHRONE) directed.   Michael Cassutt (TWILIGHT ZONE, MAX HEADROOM, TV101, EERIE INDIANA, and many more) did the screenplay.

Howard saw a rough cut of the film before he died.   He liked it, which pleases me no end.   I only wish we had been able to screen the final cut for him.

(2) HIGH CALIBER CANON. The Atlantic’s list of“The Great American Novels” includes Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson, A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K. Dick and a number of other works of genre interest.

(3) INTERNATIONAL BOOKER PRIZE LONGLIST. Based on the descriptions of the works at the website, there are no books of genre interest among the 13 that made the International Booker Prize 2024 longlist.

(4) BECOMING THE LIFE ON MARS. Space.com interviews Robert Zubrin about his new book: “’The New World on Mars’ offers a Red Planet settlement guide”.

To say that Dr. Robert Zubrin, the esteemed Colorado-based aerospace engineer, author, lecturer and founding president of the Mars Society, has the Red Planet on his mind is a colossal understatement.   

This pioneering educational voice and influential space authority has written many books on the timely topic of Mars and Mars settlement over the years as interest in humankind’s role in its ultimate development has risen exponentially. Now Zubrin adds to his impressive catalog of visionary volumes about our mysterious planetary neighbor with the recent release of “The New World on Mars” (Diversion Books, 2024), a fascinating and infinitely readable peek into Mars’ inestimably rosy future….

Space.com: One of the most interesting chapters deals with the psychological aspects of leaving Earth and establishing an identifiable Martian culture with its own customs, rites and rituals and the importance of that process. Can you elaborate on that subject more?

Zubrin: The Mars Society over the past couple years held two contests asking people to design a 1,000-person Mars colony and a one-million-person Mars city-state. And by design we meant not just the technology or the economy, but the social system, political system, what kind of sports are likely to be played, as well as the aesthetics. 

Between the two contests, there were something like 300 entries. The ideas proposed spanned a huge range of political systems from socialist, to democratic and libertarian. Rather than attempt to choose my favorite system for a Martian utopia, I took the point of view that there will be many Martian cities founded by different people with very different ideas on what the ideal state should be, and it’s going to be sorted out by natural selection.  

Some of the answers I came up with I like a lot, like human liberty. But this is in contradiction to many visions of science fiction colonies that are totally controlled because no one would immigrate to one. The ones that will outgrow the others will clearly be the ones that are most attractive to immigrants. Freedom is a great attractor. North Korea does not have an illegal immigrant problem. Martian colonies will have to be highly inventive and invention only thrives under freedom. I believe a Mars colony will also require a great deal of social solidarity, so it will not be multi-cultural and will need to have a strong sense of community and common identity….

(5) DOCTOR WHO STARTING TIME.  From Variety we learn “’Doctor Who’ Starring Ncuti Gatwa Reveals May Premiere Date”.

…The new season of “Doctor Who,” starring “Sex Education” breakout Ncuti Gatwa as the Fifteenth Doctor, will premiere on May 10.

The new installment will be the first-ever to launch on Disney+ and release simultaneously worldwide. The premiere will start on May 10 at 7 p.m. ET in the U.S. and internationally (excluding the U.K.) with Christmas special “The Church on Ruby Road” airing before two brand-new episodes. In the U.K., the season will premiere at midnight GMT on May 11 on BBC iPlayer.

…A new trailer for the season will debut on March 22.

(6) SHATNER WON’T BE ECLIPSED – FOR LONG, ANYWAY. The Los Angeles Times interviewed “William Shatner on his long career, horses and watch design”. Behind a paywall, unfortunately. Here’s the first paragraph:

A documentary on his life, “You Can Call Me Bill,” directed by Alexandre O. Philippe (“Lynch/Oz”), is scheduled to roll out in theaters March 22 to coincide with his 93rd birthday. He continues to host and narrate the puzzling-phenomena History series “The UnXplained With William Shatner.” A 2022 performance at the Kennedy Center, backed by Ben Folds and the National Symphony Orchestra, is about to be released both as an album, “So Fragile, So Blue,” and a concert film. The title song, says Shatner, “encompasses a lot of my thinking about how we’re savaging the world, and [I’d hope] it’d be a song that people would listen to and perhaps be inspired to do something about global warming.”

And on April 8, for 15 minutes before the shadow of an eclipse falls over Bloomington, Ind., Shatner will address “55, 60,000 people” in the Indiana University football stadium. “So what do you say, what do you write, what do you do? I’m going to have to solve those problems.”…

(7) SIMULTANEOUS TIMES CELEBRATES ANNIVERSARY. Space Cowboy Books presents a special six-year anniversary episode of Simultaneous Times in collaboration with Worlds of IF Magazine bringing you works from the pages of Worlds of If Magazine #177. Listen to the podcast at the link. Story and poetry featured in this episode:

  • “Contact” by Akua Lezli Hope; with music by Fall Precauxions. Read by the author
  • “The Pain Peddlers” by Robert Silverberg; with music by Phog Masheeen. Read by Jean-Paul Garnier
  • “Time Junkies” by Pedro Iniguez; with music by Fall Precauxions. Read by the author

Theme music by Dain Luscombe

(8) RELICS OF WONKY PROMOTION TRANSMUTED TO CHARITY GOLD. “Props from botched Willy Wonka event raise more than £2,000 for Palestinian aid charity” reports the Guardian. The charity is Medical Aid for Palestinians.

Props from a botched Willy Wonka event in Glasgow that went viral after frustrated attenders called the police have raised more than £2,000 at auction for a Palestinian aid charity.

Fabric backdrops from the “immersive experience”, which was cancelled midway, were found in a bin outside the warehouse where it took place.

Monorail Music, a record shop in the city, auctioned the remains on eBay after they were passed on by the finder. The listing said: “Don’t miss out on this rare opportunity to own a piece of history.”

The Wonka event gained online notoriety after images of the sparsely decorated warehouse in Glasgow, staffed by actors dressed as Oompa Loompas and other characters, spread worldwide. On Thursday, the listing had a total of 57 bids and the items were sold for £2,250. Michael Kasparis, online manager of Monorail, described the outcome as “amazing”….

(9) RED FLAGS RAISED ABOUT TCG-CON. Outside the Asylum urges “Don’t Go to TCG-Con”. Here’s the synopsis of a long post with many receipts:

Summary: TCG-con frequently does not pay out its advertised prizes and staff compensation. They currently owe upwards of $50,000 to players, cosplayers, judges, and other staff members for previous conventions, and appear to be in the process of collapsing entirely. I would strongly recommend not purchasing a ticket to their future events, trying to get a refund if you already have, and warning anyone you know away from them as well. If you’re owed money yourself, see the end of this page for information on next steps.

(10) GRANT PAGE (1939-2024). Deadline pays tribute in “Grant Page Dead: Australian Stuntman In ‘Mad Max’ Films & 100-Plus Others Was 85”.

Grant Page, the Australian stunt icon who performed in and coordinating stunts for the original Mad Max,sequel Beyond Thunderdome,the upcoming prequel Furiosa: A Mad Max Sagaand more than 100 other films and TV series, died Thursday in a car crash. He was 85.

A legend of Aussie cinema, Page worked … on the 1979 action classic Mad Max,which introduced the world to Mel Gibson. He performed and served as stunt coordinator on …  its 1985 second sequel Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome… He also worked on … prequel, Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga, which is on the radar to premiere at Cannes in May, and on his 2022 pic Three Thousand Years of Longing.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

The New Yorker cartoon for the Ides of March gives us Dr. Seuss’ interpretation instead of Shakespeare’s.

(12) I BECAME WHAT I BEHELD. “Grant Morrison Responds to Zack Snyder’s Take on Batman Killing, ‘If Batman Killed His Enemies, He’d Be the Joker’” (comicbook.com) – in a quote at Comicbook.com.

Filmmaker Zack Snyder recently stirred up some controversy when he defended his aggressive version of Batman from Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice who killed, a choice that for many comic book fans runs counter to basic tenets of the character. Now, comic book writer Grant Morrison is weighing in and they don’t agree with Snyder. According to Morrison, “if Batman killed his enemies, he’d be the Joker.”

In their newsletter Xanaduum (via ScreenRant), Morrison — whose own work has been among some of the more definitive takes on Batman — dug into not only the practical aspect of why Batman doesn’t kill (because he’d end up arrested by Commissioner Gordon, in theory) but also the psychological aspect of the character and how Batman’s “no-kill” rule is something locked into him from the time he was a small child and is a part of his mental state having never fully developed, in some respect, out of the child who saw his parents murdered in Crime Alley.

“That Batman puts himself in danger every night but steadfastly refuses to murder is an essential element of the character’s magnificent, horrendous, childlike psychosis,” Morrison wrote.

There’s also the matter of the line between what Batman does and what the villains do. Villains kill; Batman does not. It makes all the difference, at least to Bruce Wayne who, should he ever cross the line, would then become no better than those who killed his parents….

(13) SNOWPIERCER RESCUED. It won’t be frozen out by streaming services after all says Deadline: “’Snowpiercer’: AMC Picks Up Season 4 After TNT Scrapped Sci-Fi Drama”.

The final season of Snowpiercer has finally found a home.

The fourth season of the sci-fi drama will air on AMC after the company acquired the rights to the Tomorrow Studios-produced series. It comes after TNT scrapped the show last year as part of a wider Warner Bros. Discovery content write-down strategy.

Deadline revealed in January 2023 that the fourth season wouldn’t air on its original home, as part of a slew of content cuts that also included the axing of Batgirl, Abrams’ HBO drama Demimonde, and TBS series such as The Big D, Chad and Kill The Orange Bear….

(14) A YELLOWSTONE UNSTUCK IN TIME. Gizmodo assures us “Josh Brolin’s Sci-Fi Hole Show Will Get Even Sci-Fi-er, Holier in Season 2”.

…The central mysteries of Outer Range surround that giant hole, which materializes on property owned by Brolin’s Wyoming rancher character and is eventually established to be a time portal. Along the way, various characters go missing, are revealed to have been born in different centuries, notice odd happenings that seem anachronistic, or are unmasked as characters we’ve already met who happen to be several years older than they should be. In season two, we’ll all take a time leap; the action begins in 1984 with a younger version of Brolin’s character, and Vanity Fair describes the narrative structure as “gamely hopping between different decades (and centuries) with newfound propulsion.”

An astrophysicist called in to help the time-travel stuff make sense—but according to new showrunner Murray, “The biggest part of what time travel meant to me and the writers was: How can this help us expose something that a character’s going through?” We’re very intrigued to see where this wild trail heads next….

(15) DISHING IT UP. A reporter tells BBC that “’Journalists are feeding the AI hype machine’”.

When Melissa Heikkilä looks back on her past four years writing about artificial intelligence (AI), two key things jump out to her, one good, one bad.

“It’s the best beat… AI is a story about power, and there are so many ways to cover it,” says the senior reporter for magazine MIT Technology Review. “And there are so many interesting, and eccentric people to write about.”

That’s the positive. The negative, she says, is that much of the wider media’s coverage of AI can leave a lot to be desired.

“There is more hype and obfuscation about what the technology can and cannot actually do,” says Ms Heikkilä. “This can lead to embarrassing mistakes, and for journalists to feed into the hype machine, by, for example, anthropomorphizing AI technologies, and mythologizing tech companies.”…

(16) RIGHT TURN, CLYDE. And while we’re on the subject of dud reportage – “Seismic signal that pointed to alien technology was actually a passing truck” says Physics World.

In January 2014 a meteor streaked across the sky above the Western Pacific Ocean. The event was initially linked to a seismic signal that was detected on Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island. This information was used by Harvard University’s Amir Siraj and Avi Loeb to determine where the object likely fell into the ocean. Loeb then led an expedition that recovered spherical objects called spherules from the ocean bottom, which the team claimed to be from the meteor.

Because of the spherule’s unusual elemental composition, the team has suggested that the objects may have come from outside the solar system. What is more, they hinted that the spherules may have an “extraterrestrial technological origin” – that they may have been created by an alien civilization.

Now, however, a study led by scientists at Johns Hopkins University has cast doubt on the connection between the spherules and the 2014 meteor event. They have proposed a very different source for the seismic signal that led Loeb and colleagues to the spherules.

“The signal changed directions over time, exactly matching a road that runs past the seismometer,” says Benjamin Fernando, a planetary seismologist at Johns Hopkins who led this latest research.

“It’s really difficult to take a signal and confirm it is not from something,” explains Fernando. “But what we can do is show that there are lots of signals like this, and show they have all the characteristics we’d expect from a truck and none of the characteristics we’d expect from a meteor.”

That’s right, it was a truck driving past the seismometer, not a meteor….

(17) WAR OF THE WORLD. “Air defense for $13 a shot? How lasers could revolutionize the way militaries counter enemy missiles and drones” at Yahoo!

Britain this week showed off a new laser weapon that its military says could deliver lethal missile or aircraft defense at around $13 a shot, potentially saving tens of millions of dollars over the cost of missile interceptors that do the job now.

Newly released video of a test of what the United Kingdom’s Defense Ministry calls the DragonFire, a laser directed energy weapon (LDEW) system, captured what the ministry says was the successful use of the laser against an aerial target during a January demonstration in Scotland.

“It’s a potential game changer for air defense,” the video says as a bright laser beam pierces the night sky over a firing range in the remote Hebrides archipelago, creating a ball of light as it hits its target.

The Defense Ministry says the DragonFire can precisely hit a target as small as a coin “over long ranges,” but it did not offer specifics. The exact range of the weapon is classified, it said.

The laser beam can cut through metal “leading to structural failure or more impactful results if the warhead is targeted,” a UK Defense Ministry statement said….

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

Pixel Scroll 1/27/24 Qual Piuma Pixel?

(1) CREEPING. [Item by Anne Marble.] Author J.D. Barker has been called out for sending e-mails to young women book reviewers asking them to make and send risqué videos he could use in promoting his book. He also offered to pay for the videos once he’d “approved” them. There are reaction videos on TikTok and Xitter. Here is one:

You can see screencaps of the message he sent here:

In addition, he didn’t verify anyone’s age before sending out these e-mails which might cause him legal trouble.

Barker’s upcoming book is Behind a Closed Door, an erotic thriller novel, but he is known in sff circles for having co-authored the Dracula prequel Dracul with Dacre Stoker (Bram Stoker’s great-grandnephew).

He posted an apology — but it made eyes roll. The apology blames his publicity firm, but people have pointed out that he co-founded the publicity firm.

https://twitter.com/jdbarker/status/1750958811236491700

He has been dropped by his agent says Publishers Weekly, and it has been reported that he also stepped down from his position on the board of International Thriller Writers. His book is being distributed by Simon & Schuster — but it’s through Hampton Creek Press, which Barker founded. NBC News has more coverage: “Bestselling author faces fallout after BookTok creators call out ‘racy’ promotion request”.

He’s no relation to Clive Barker or R. J. Barker, by the way.

(2) ICONIC SFF ART ACQUIRED BY UC RIVERSIDE. The Dillons’ cover art for The Left Hand of Darkness has been sold to the Eaton Collection: “UC Riverside buys Le Guin sci-fi novel cover art”Bay Area Reporter has the story.

A renowned science fiction collection at UC Riverside has purchased the original cover art for Ursula Le Guin’s award-winning 1969 novel “The Left Hand of Darkness.” The artwork is joining the state university’s Eaton Collection of Science Fiction & Fantasy and should be on display in the college library’s special collections reading room by the summer…

…”I am absolutely over the moon,” Phoenix Alexander, the Jay Kay and Doris Klein Science Fiction Librarian at UC Riverside, told the Bay Area Reporter about being able to buy the 17 1/4 by 13 inch acrylic painting used for the cover of the debut edition of Le Guin’s novel, which was released in paperback by Ace Books.

As the B.A.R. first reported in December, publisher Ace Books hired award-winning artists and biracial couple Leo and Diane Dillon to create the cover art. Highlighting the novel’s plot centered on a gender-nonconforming and ambisexual race of humanoids, the Dillons featured profiles of the book’s nonbinary protagonists in the left bottom corner looking off into the distance. Surrounding the pair is a blue and white celestial-like scene with what appears to be a brown planet and a spaceship hovering above.

(Leo Dillon, of Trinidadian descent, died in 2012. He was the first African American to win the prestigious Randolph Caldecott Medal for illustrators of children’s books, while the Dillons were the only consecutive winners of the award, having received the honor in 1976 and 1977.)

“Their artwork draws on African folk art, Japanese block printing, and medieval illumination,” noted Alexander, who has been in his position at UC Riverside since August 2022….

(3) SWATTER BUSTED. On Facebook Patrick Tomlinson cheered WIRED’s report: “Police Arrest Teen Said to Be Linked to Hundreds of Swatting Attacks”.

For more than a year, the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation has been hunting the person whom experts say is one of the most prolific swatters in American history. Law enforcement now believes they have finally arrested the person responsible.

A 17-year-old from California is allegedly the swatter known as Torswats, according to sources familiar with the investigation. The teenager is currently in custody and awaiting extradition from California to Seminole County, Florida. The Florida State Attorney’s Office tells WIRED that he faces four felony counts.

Seminole County, located in central Florida, had two high-profile swatting incidents within the last 12 months, including one targeting a mosque and another targeting a courthouse. Todd Brown, a spokesperson for Florida’s Office of the State Attorney in the 18th Circuit, confirmed the charges against the teen and his extradition. Brown says he will be prosecuted as an adult under Florida law. WIRED is withholding the 17-year-old’s name because he is a minor….

…According to the Florida State Attorney’s Office, the charges against the California teenager include making false reports concerning the planting of a bomb or the use of firearms, causing a law enforcement response. All charges are described as related to acts of terrorism and showing prejudice based on race, color, ancestry, ethnicity, or religion.

In private Telegram chats witnessed by WIRED over the past year, a person operating the Torswats handle claimed responsibility for hundreds of false reports of bomb threats and active shootings called into schools, politicians’ homes, courthouses, and religious institutions around the US….

…Other messages [private investigator] Dennis shared with WIRED suggest that the FBI has known the identity of Torswats, whose swatting activities were first revealed by Motherboard last April, since at least July 2023, when the agency executed a search warrant and seized Torswats’ devices. The FBI’s Seattle field office, which oversaw the investigation into Torswats, declined WIRED’s request to comment…

…It is unclear whether a single person operated under the Torswats name. On January 20, two days after Dennis, the private investigator, said that Torswats had been arrested, a person using the Torswats’ Telegram handle who had knowledge of previous conversations with WIRED reached out.

“I am pretty sure I’ll never be arrested,” the individual wrote in a direct message on Telegram. “Seems ridiculous that a few bucks a month can allow someone to do crazy shit and never go to jail.”

(4) LETTERS FROM THE PAST. Pulp Librarian reminds readers about a product that wildly expanded choices for desktop publishers. I remember it well. Thread starts here.

(5) HOW IT WORKS. Chris Rose invites users of his Glasgow 2024 Hugo nominating software behind the scenes in a post on Mastodon’s The Wandering Shop. I really do like its name: “Nomnom”.

(6) ANNIVERSARY OF BABYLON 5 LAUNCH. In “30 Years Ago, the Most Pivotal Sci-Fi Show of all Time was Almost Killed by a Rival Franchise” Inverse refreshes our memories about the way Babylon 5 and Deep Space 9 were developed.  

In the beginning, Babylon 5 was almost murdered by Star Trek. Back in 1987, the same year Star Trek: The Next Generation brought space-based sci-fi back to mainstream TV, writer J. Michael Straczynski took his pitch for a sci-fi “novel for television” to studios and networks.

Today, Straczynski is best known for co-writing the first Thor movie in 2011 and co-creating Sense8 with the Wachowskis. But in 1987, his big credits were writing for Masters of the Universe and being a story editor on The Real Ghostbusters. His pitch for Babylon 5 was a unique and radical departure.

… In the late ’80s and early ’90s, serialized TV didn’t really exist outside of soap operas. But on January 26, 1994, the first episode of Babylon 5 debuted and insisted on a new kind of viewing habit: fans had to catch nearly every episode to understand the story, which was set to last for five years….

… Ultimately, the two shows became very different, but the specter of Star Trek loomed over B5. There is also evidence that Paramount and Warner Bros were considering launching a joint network, which wouldn’t have had room for two space station sci-fi shows…. 

(7) GHOSTS AND DOLLS. The list of 2024 Family Film & TV Awards winners includes these genre works:

  • Outstanding Actors in a Feature Film: Margot Robbie (Barbie)
  • Best Iconic Family FilmGhostbusters
  • Best Ensemble Feature FilmBarbie
  • Best Animated Family FilmLeo

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

Many Hugo and Worldcon posts across multiple Chinese internet platforms are being removed

This is a developing item.

Whilst Chinese coverage of events following the release of the Hugo statistics report has been much spottier than in the west — I’m not aware of any coverage from mainstream media — there have been posts on public platforms such as Weibo, WeChat/Weixin and Zhihu (comparable to Quora/Stack Overflow).

Within the past day, several posts across these various platforms, and posted by various users have disappeared.  In some cases, the post is visible to the post’s author, but no other users.

For example, as of 01:15 UTC on Sunday 28th, if you went to the Baidu search engine and entered 雨果 别塔 (Hugo Awards / Babel) you would see as the first result a post on Zhihu with an English language cover of R. F. Kuang’s novel.  If you clicked on the link however, Zhihu would serve you an error page.  However, shortly afterwards, the Baidu result disappeared; this in itself isn’t suspicious, it’s probably due to the search engine realizing the page is no longer any good.

Error page when you click on that link

Google Search for 雨果 别塔 zhihu was still finding the deleted page in the results the last time I checked, but I imagine it will disappear from the results sooner or later.

Search results on Google for 雨果奖 把别塔 zhihu (Hugo Awards / Babel zhihu)

Luckily, I’d previously seen this particular post on Friday 26th, and thanks to some self-made browser extensions, I have a copy of the raw text/HTML.  Due to that webpage relying on JavaScript, it needed a bit of jiggery pokery to bring that saved content back into a semi-usable form, but you can see the original Chinese text, and the Google Translate rendition of part of it here.

Part of the original Chinese text
Part of the text put through Google Translate

As I expected, it was a summary of the controversies following the release of the Hugo nominations report.  I haven’t read it closely, but I’m pretty certain it’s just a recycling of information that had already been posted by other users on other platforms previously.  There’s nothing new to File 770 readers, but it’s the sort of thing that would serve as a useful explainer to people who had not been following the story.

(9) FOR THOSE KEEPING SCORE AT HOME, OR TRYING TO. Charles Stross’ “Worldcon in the news” at Antipope offers an extensive and well-informed discussion of how Worldcons and Hugos work which will be helpful to help those trying to catch up.

…The world science fiction convention coevolved with fan-run volunteer conventions in societies where there’s a general expectation of the rule of law and most people abide by social norms irrespective of enforcement. The WSFS constitution isn’t enforceable except insofar as normally fans see no reason not to abide by the rules. So it works okay in the USA, the UK, Canada, the Netherlands, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and all the other western-style democracies it’s been held in … but broke badly when a group of enthusiasts living in an authoritarian state won the bid then realized too late that by doing so they’d come to the attention of Very Important People who didn’t care about their society’s rulebook.

Immediate consequences:

For the first fifty or so worldcons, worldcon was exclusively a North American phenomenon except for occasional sorties to the UK. Then it began to open up as cheap air travel became a thing. In the 21st century about 50% of worldcons are held outside North America, and until 2016 there was an expectation that it would become truly international.

But the Chengdu fubar has created shockwaves. There’s no immediate way to fix this, any more than you’ll be able to fix Donald Trump declaring himself dictator-for-life on the Ides of March in 2025 if he gets back into the White House with a majority in the House and Senate. It needs a WSFS constitutional amendment at least (so pay attention to the motions and voting in Glasgow, and then next year, in Seattle) just to stop it happening again. And nobody has ever tried to retroactively invalidate the Hugo awards. While there’s a mechanism for running Hugo voting and handing out awards for a year in which there was no worldcon (the Retrospective Hugo awards—for example, the 1945 Hugo Awards were voted on in 2020—nobody considered the need to re-run the Hugos for a year in which the vote was rigged. So there’s no mechanism….

(10) HOW TO SAVE A FEW BUCKS IN THE TWILIGHT ZONE. SYFY Wire tells “The Weird Story of the Twilight Zone Episode That Won an Oscar”.

…So, how does an award-winning French short film make its way to American television as part of a beloved sci-fi program? Well, according to producer William Froug, it came down to budget concerns. At the time, CBS was pushing the show to save money as it worked to complete its Season 5 order, and that meant that producing a whole new episode to complete the order was going to make money extremely tight. In an effort to appease the network while still meeting the tone of the show, Froug suggested they license “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge,” which he’d already seen, and simply make it part of The Twilight Zone

“It was almost entirely silent,” Froug said in The Twilight Zone Companion. “There were maybe a half-dozen lines in it, and there was one brief ballad –– in English, of all things. CBS was very reluctant –– ‘A French film on television? Who ever heard of such a thing?’ –– but I convinced them, because we bought all the TV rights for $10,000. With that one airing, we immediately took care of the whole year’s overage. It brought us out at the end of the year under budget.”…

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born January 27, 1957 Frank Miller, 67. So this Scroll we have artist and writer Frank Miller, a fascinating writer indeed.

Although some Miller fan sites want to credit him with writing two stories for the Twilight Zone comic, there is no actual proof he did, so his first credited artistic endeavor was he as the artist on Wyatt Gwyon’s “Deliver Me From D-Day” which ran in Weird War Tales #64 in June 1978. Fascinating comic it was. 

He was that rare versatile artist who did everything so his first job for Marvel was penciling John Carter, Warlord of Mars, Part 3’s “The Master Assassin of Mars”. 

Frank Miller

Shortly afterwards, he was the artist for Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man where was Daredevil also present. This is important as Miller would eventually become the writer on Daredevil after successfully pursuing the job: “My secret is to do crime comics with a superhero in them. And so I lobbied for the title and got it.” I consider his work the highlight of this comic.

He’d return to the Daredevil story later and, like so many writers, either brilliantly do something new, or mangle it beyond recognition.

Now we have a brief but noteworthy stay at DC. That produced Batman: The Dark Knight Returns and Batman: Year One.  The first, like oh many of the animated films that came out of it, was far better than any of live film which saw a screen. Needless to say both series were stellar in their own right.

Elektra Lives Again is one seriously weird story. Saying anything more is a Major Spoiler. And whatever you do, if you’ve not read it, don’t go anywhere near the Wikipedia article. I’m serious. Just don’t. 

I’m not even going to talk about Sin City as it’s either brilliant or — let me use German to describe it, die Scheiße.

Not at all going to talk about The Dark Knight IIIThe Master Race, as I’ve not read it. Opinions? 

His film work includes writing the less sterling RoboCop 2 and RoboCop 3 scripts, sharing directing duties with Robert Rodriguez on Sin City and Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, producing 300 which is by far not my cup of anything, and directing The Spirit which got a 25% rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes, though having seen it I think that’s being kind.

(12) COMICS SECTION.

(13) PIONEERING WOMAN SFF WRITER. “Winona McClintic – ‘Who?’” at A Deep Look by Dave Hook.

…In Atlantic November 1956, her non-genre story “A Heart of Furious Fancies” was published. The editors noted,

WINONA MCCLINTIC was a radioman second class in the United States Navy during World War II and the Korean War. She graduated from Mills College, contributed poems to the Atlantic, and was at work on her Ph.D. (under the G.I. Bill) when matrimony intervened. She married an engineer and while he, she says, “fiddles with things on airplanes,” she finds time to raise guinea pigs and write….

(14) GHOSTESS WITH THE MOSTESS. The New York Times is there when “Ghostwriters Emerge From the Shadows”.

So it was unusual for a group of around 140 ghostwriters to gather, as they did in Manhattan on Monday, to schmooze and celebrate their work with awards, panel discussions and keynote speeches. The one-day conference, called the Gathering of the Ghosts, took place at a moment when ghostwriting is in high demand and gaining recognition as an art form of its own, after years of operating largely in the shadows.

“There’s great value in building this community because of the nature of what we do,” said Daniel Paisner, who hosts a podcast about ghostwriting called “As Told To” and has collaborated on 17 New York Times best-sellers. “We do it in a vacuum, sitting alone in our underwear in our offices. We don’t get out much. So I think it’s helpful to be able to compare notes.”

Held at the New York Academy of Medicine, in a room lined with old, leather-bound medical books overlooking a snowy Central Park, the event included panels about finding the right publisher for a project, whether A.I. might render ghostwriters irrelevant and conversations about how much a ghostwriter can charge (the consensus: more). The profession has a history of being undervalued, and one panelist advised everyone in the audience to double their rates and add 20 percent.

“Is it good to be a ghostwriter?” Madeleine Morel, an agent who specializes in matchmaking book projects with ghostwriters, said at the event. “I’ll paraphrase Dickens: It’s the best of times and the worst of times. It’s the best of times because there’s never been so much work out there. It’s the worst of times because it’s become so competitive.”…

(15) ROBERTO THE BUILDER. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Is an animated film about building stuff that doesn’t fly between the stars or shoot lasers genre? Who knows. But we can hope that Jenny from the block will make it so. “Jennifer Lopez Producing Bob the Builder Movie Reboot Starring Anthony Ramos” at Comicbook.com.

Bob the Builder is getting a brand-new movie produced by Jennifer Lopez. Transformers series star Anthony Ramos will play the titular handyman. Mattel Films teamed with the international music superstar to build this project from the ground up. Bob the Builder‘s new movie will be animated with Ramos providing the voice for the character. As per a description for the project, Bob the Builder sees Roberto travel to Puerto Rico for a major construction job. As issues affect the island, Bob will have to dig deep to bring the project to life. Felipe Vargas has been attached as a writer. Ramos sounds absolutely elated about playing the popular character in the press release put out today.

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Ingenuity has officially ended its mission after an incredible 72 flights on Mars” after being damaged on its last flight. The National Air and Space Museum pays tribute.

Ingenuity in flight.

This week, NASA announced that Mars helicopter Ingenuity‘s 72nd flight was the final flight of its mission. The helicopter sustained damage to one or more of its rotor blades during landing on January 18 and is no longer capable of flight.  

Ingenuity landed on the Red Planet with Mars rover Perseverance in February 2021 and achieved the first powered flight on another planet in April 2021.

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

Pixel Scroll 1/22/24 Encounter at Fargo

(1) KUANG ON BABEL’S HUGO INELIGIBILITY. Rebecca F. Kuang decided that saying nothing isn’t an option. “Rebecca F. Kuang: ‘statement’” at Bluesky.

(2) ANOTHER WAY TO RUN A RAILROAD. Answering some writers’ renewed cry that the Hugo Awards be taken away from the Worldcon, Cheryl Morgan has drafted a proposal. It’s explained in “Decoupling the Hugos” at Cheryl’s Mewsings. Morgan’s draft can be downloaded at “Independent-Hugo-Administration.pdf”.

In amongst all of the discussion as to what to do about the Chengdu Hugo issue has been one suggestion that can actually be implemented, albeit over a number of years. That is decoupling Hugo Award Administration from the host Worldcon, so that the laws of the host country cannot interfere with the voting process….

… WSFS already has an organization called the Mark Protection Committee (MPC), which is responsible for maintaining the service marks that WSFS owns (in particular “Hugo Award” and the logo). I suggest renaming this the Independent Hugo Award Administration Committee (IHAAC) and giving it, rather than Worldcon, the job of administering the voting process. The IHAAC would recruit experienced administrators in much the same way that Worldcon does, but there would be a lot more consistency from year to year.

Worldcon would still have the option of staging a Hugo Award ceremony, and creating a distinctive trophy base, but equally it could decline to do that and pass the job back to the IHAAC.

Kevin [Standlee] and I cannot take this proposal forward ourselves. Kevin is a member of the MPC, and I effectively work for them in maintaining the WSFS websites, so we both have a vested interest. Our involvement could easily be portrayed as a power grab. But we are happy to provide help and advice to anyone who does want to take this forward at Glasgow….

(3) DON’T MAKE CHANGES THAT TAKE VOLUNTEERS FOR GRANTED. Abigail Nussbaum has a remarkably insightful post about the current crisis: “The 2023 Hugo Awards: Now With an Asterisk” at Asking the Wrong Questions.

… Even taking this most charitable view of events, however, there comes a point where honest mistakes corrupt a result too thoroughly to be distinguishable from malice, and that’s before we even get into those three still-unexplained ineligibility rulings. Unless Chengdu steps forward with more information, there is, unfortunately, no avoiding the conclusion that the 2023 Hugo results are irreparably tainted.

On the matter of those three disqualifications, the assumption that many people are making—and which, again, seems like the most plausible conclusion until and unless Chengdu starts answering questions—is that all three were struck off for political reasons. This might mean outright government interference, or someone on the Hugo team complying in advance, or an independent but politically-motivated actor among the award’s administrators striking off work they don’t approve of. This may also explain the silence from the Hugo team, who may fear reprisals towards themselves or their teammates. At this point it is possible that we will never know the whole story of what happened to the 2023 Hugo Awards. Which means the important question before us is how to move forward.

That question is complicated by the erratic, increasingly rickety superstructure of the Hugos and the Worldcon as a whole. Put simply, there is no Worldcon organization. Each convention is its own corporate entity charged with holding the convention and administering the Hugos, and bound only by the WSFS constitution. Said constitution is discussed and amended in the annual Business Meeting, a sclerotic, multi-day affair administered under rules that seem designed to baffle new participants and slow change to a creeping pace. What this means, among other things, is that there is no actual oversight over any individual Worldcon’s behavior, and no mechanism to claw back either the convention or the Hugos if it appears that they are being mismanaged.

It’s not at all surprising that the reaction of many people upon learning these facts, and especially in the present context, is to immediately leap to the conclusion that this entire system should be scrapped and replaced with a centralized authority. This, I think, is to ignore some very basic facts: the Worldcon is a fully volunteer-run organization. The free labor that goes into administering it, and the Hugos specifically, probably runs to tens, perhaps hundreds, of thousands of dollars in value. The idea that one can simply erect a super-organization under those same conditions is hard to imagine….

(4) LECKIE ON THE HUGOS. If you happen to be on Bluesky, Ann Leckie has a thread with a lively discussion. It begins:

(5) MORE CHINESE SOCIAL MEDIA RESPONSES. [Item by Ersatz Culture.] Some more anonymized online reactions to social media posts about the Hugo nomination report, some of which are based on coverage of the continued Anglosphere reactions, such as John Scalzi’s blog post about Babel.

English translations are all via Google Translate unless otherwise indicated, with minor edits or commentary in square parentheses.  Some of the smileys haven’t come through, so bear in mind that some of these should be read in a sarcastic tone.

怎么感觉雨果奖次次都有瓜

Why does it feel like the Hugo’s have a melon every time? [Note: “melon” is Chinese slang – maybe “drama” is a reasonable translation in this context?  Also, this translation is via DeepL; Google Translate comes up with a less literal result, but which I think is incorrect]

2023这次应该是“中国雨果奖”吧。

This time in 2023 it should be the “China Hugo Award”. 

雨果奖到底怎么了

What happened to the Hugo Awards?

看到这新闻心里没有一丝波澜,甚至觉的这事发生在这里太正常辣,出现正面新闻才令人惊讶呢。外国人对真实的种花家还是了解太少

When I saw this news, I didn’t feel any emotion at all. I even thought it was too normal for this to happen here. It was surprising to see positive news. Foreigners still know too little about real flower growers [Note: “flower growers” = China]

太可惜了

What a pity

然而巴别塔还在国内出中译了,就很神奇 很迷惑

However, [Tower of] Babel has been translated into Chinese in China, which is amazing and confusing

到底为什么呀怎么感觉这么大的事情国内平台都没几个声??

Why on earth do you feel that there are not many domestic platforms talking about such a big thing? ?

因为雨果奖怎么样并不算大事,国内的雨果奖获奖作品能给媒体带来多少收入才是大事

[replying to previous comment] Because it’s not a big deal how the Hugo Award is, but how much income the domestic Hugo Award-winning works can bring to the media is a big deal

真实了,我记得之前国内作者获得雨果奖的时候大小媒体都在采访

[A further reply] It’s real. I remember when a domestic author won the Hugo Award, all the media were interviewing him.

我推测并不是CN康的审查而是主办方自身某种私心(虽然我不知道具体是什么动机),要知道《巴别塔》本身有一种强烈的“早产的列宁主义”的意味,在这边不要太正确。当然,我坚决拥护斯卡尔齐老师对办会章程的建议!

I speculate that it is not CN Kang’s censorship but some selfish motives of the organizer (although I don’t know the specific motivation). You must know that “[Tower of] Babel” itself has a strong sense of “premature Leninism”. Don’t be too correct. Of course, I firmly support Mr. Scalzi’s suggestion on the rules of the conference!  [I’m not sure what “CN康” is, Wikipedia says “CN” is “virgin”, but that doesn’t seem to make any sense in this context.]

????所以呢?在其他地方举办世界科幻大会没有按国外的审美标准就是存在疑问及不适合的?

????So what? Is it questionable and inappropriate to hold the World Science Fiction Convention elsewhere if it does not follow foreign aesthetic standards?

毕竟是有关国家信誉的大事,别只写获奖不写争议吧咱就说

After all, it is a major matter related to the credibility of the country. Don’t just write about the awards and not the controversies. Let’s just say  [This comment cced in half-a-dozen news organizations, some of which are ones that I recognize from earlier coverage of the con, I think some of which was linked in prior Scrolls]

《巴别塔》批判殖民主义,还以英国为背景,咋不猜是英国通过某些手段干预了提名[smiley]

“[Tower of] Babel” criticizes colonialism and is set in the United Kingdom. Why don’t you guess that the United Kingdom interfered with the nomination through certain means [smiley]

去年看的巴别塔,前不久看的Yellowface,Rebecca F. Kuang就是很灵秀啊,23年雨果奖怎么搞的评委最清楚啦

I [read] [Tower of] Babel last year and Yellowface not long ago. Rebecca F. Kuang is so smart. The judges of the [2023] Hugo Awards know best

《巴别塔》明明是歌颂中国人民反殖民主义的努力的啊,被雨果奖错过太可惜了

“[Tower of] Babel” obviously praises the Chinese people’s anti-colonial efforts. It would be a pity to miss out on the Hugo Award.

这,别人也倒罢了,她不是参与过联名抵制成都科幻大会吗?现在觉得自己被除名还应该给个具体原因了?

[Re. Xiran Jay Zhao] This is just for others. Didn’t [they] participate in a joint boycott of the Chengdu Science Fiction Conference? Now you feel like you should [be given] a specific reason for being removed?

赵希然,写武则天开机甲的那个华裔女科幻作家。她说唐代是中国的荡妇时代。

Zhao Xiran, the Chinese science fiction writer who wrote about Wu Zetian’s mecha. [They] said that the Tang Dynasty was the era of sluts in China. [referring to this Tweet]

Kuang特别棒 熬夜读完了1/4的巴别塔

Kuang is awesome. I stayed up late and read 1/4 of Tower of Babel.

(6) MAP CANNON. Yesterday’s China roundup by Ersatz Culture included the term “map cannon”, for which made an approximate English translation. Thanks to Gareth Jelley for finding a Baidu Encylopedia article that explains it in detail.

The map cannon originally refers to a map attack type weapon in the “Super Robot Wars” series. It first appeared in the “Second Super Robot Wars” in the Magic Machine God’s Sebastian , and was later used to refer to some mass destruction weapons. weapons or magic. On the Internet, the extended meaning of “map cannon” is the act of verbally attacking a certain group. On the Internet, it often refers to geographical attackers , or the behavior of a few people is used to deny the behavior of a certain group.

Since in many anime works, the map cannon exists as a weapon with great power and large area of ​​destruction, so in some forums (such as NGA), the map cannon is extended to large-scale indiscriminate deletion of posts, banning IDs, and punishing users. Behaviors such as this also often refer to some moderators who often delete and ban people on a large scale and indiscriminately.

It can also express prejudice against certain things. There is often a label that summarizes the whole based on the characteristics of the part. Prejudice against different groups of people will always exist. However, there are also some “facialization” who are willing to be accepted by others – if they think they are at the top of the discrimination chain. The rise of the Internet has redefined the standards of “us” and “them” for the first time.

(7) COMIC RELIEF KERFUFFLE. Doctor Who fandom blew up yesterday. The first one got almost 300K views. The second is one of the more entertaining replies.

(8) YOUR SF TAXONOMY. Horst Smokowski lists “All the Types of Science Fiction”: at McSweeney’s Internet Tendency. There are fifty of them. The first three are:

1. Check this place out, it’s dope

2. Technology solves problems ???? (future good)

3. Technology creates problems ???? (future bad)

(9) EXTREME SUFFRAGE. Looking for more sff awards you can vote for? (Oh, you glutton for punishment!) Rocket Stack Rank has a roundup here: “SF/F Ballots For Stories From 2023”.

Here are links to ballots for various SF/F awards, 5 that are open to all, and 4 that are open to members of a convention or association. Highlighted awards are currently open for voting.

The magazine-specific awards come with a longlist link to all stories published by each magazine, with blurbs to help you remember the ones you’ve read and scores to guide further reading….

(10) FREE READ. Marie Brennan’s “Embers Burning in the Night” is a free-to-read story at Sunday Morning Transport, offered to encourage new subscriptions.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born January 22, 1970 Alex Ross, 54. So Alex Ross, eh? A fantastic, in all senses of that word, comic book illustrator and writer whose first work with comic book writer Kurt Busiek, the four-issue The Marvels for, er, Marvel Comics would been a highlight of anyone else’s career.

Not Ross though.  Another four-issue run, Kingdom Come, this time for DC, under their Elseworlds imprint, told of an aleternate DC  universe that might have happened. One of my favorite DC stories. It was written by Mark Waid and him. 

Yes, he can do pulp as he illustrated the John Layman written series, Red Sonja/Claw:  the Unconquered Devil’s Hands,  that  was co-published with Dynamite Entertainment where Red Sonja and Claw, a  cursed warrior I had never heard of before this, had a series of adventures that showed Red Sonja’s assets very well. 

He’s just not interested in the costumed superheroes. Over at his website, you’ll find the prints he’s done for the Universal Monsters – Dracula, Wolf Man and so forth, they’re all there. The prints look fantastic bad they can be yours if your pocket change is deep. 

Here’s my favorite piece of art by him. 

(12) COMICS SECTION.

  • Frazz is for editors.
  • Last Kiss breaks the fourth wall.
  • Annie mentions science fiction, and also might be a reference to this B.C. strip.

(13) THE SGT. MAJOR’S MARSCON REPORT. [Item by Dann.] Mike Burke is a retired US Marine Corps Sergeant Major.  Mike operated under the nom de plume (or perhaps nom de guerre) of “America’s Sergeant Major” for several years.  He has led Marines in peace and in war.  Since his retirement, he has written fiction and nonfiction for the US Naval Institute.  The USNI is a non-profit organization with the purpose of providing an “independent forum for those who dare to read, think, speak, and write in order to advance the professional, literary, and scientific understanding of sea power and other issues critical to global security.”

Sgt. Maj. Burke has started writing on Substack as Spearman Burke and is a self-professed “noob” at the profession of writing.

He recently attended Marscon in Norfolk, VA and has a report from the con.  He was able to meet Ben Yalow, David Weber, Kacey Ezell, and a few other notable authors.  One of Kacey’s stories was what inspired Mike to pursue his next career as a genre author.  He scored a contract to submit a short story for an anthology at the con.

(14) CRIME AND PUNISHMENT. AP News says “Reformed mobster who stole Judy Garland’s ruby slippers from ‘Oz’ wanted one last score”. Now they’re about to drop the big house on him.

The aging reformed mobster who has admitted stealing a pair of ruby slippers that Judy Garland wore in “The Wizard of Oz” gave into the temptation of “one last score” after an old mob associate led him to believe the famous shoes must be adorned with real jewels to justify their $1 million insured value.

Terry Jon Martin’s defense attorney finally revealed the 76-year-old’s motive for the 2005 theft from the Judy Garland Museum in the late actor’s hometown of Grand Rapids, Minnesota, in a new memo filed ahead of his Jan. 29 sentencing in Duluth, Minnesota.

The FBI recovered the shoes in 2018 when someone else tried to claim an insurance reward on them, but Martin wasn’t charged with stealing them until last year….

(15) ROBERT BLOCH WEBSITE UPDATE. Jim Nemeth of the Robert Bloch Official Website announced a major update.

At the (fantastic) suggestion and immense help of Mr. David J Schow (DJS) we now have a new Gallery page, showing just about every/all sides of our beloved Bob.

(16) THE REMNANT OF HUMANITY IS COMING HOME. Friends of Fred Lerner will be excited to hear that his book In Memoriam will be released by Fantastic Books And Gray Rabbit Publications on July 2.

David Bernstein is a 17-year-old member of the Remnant of Terra, the descendants of the 2,000 people who survived the Cataclysm that destroyed human life on Earth. For two centuries the Remnant has lived among the Wyneri, who rescued the few survivors and brought them to their world. Although the Wyneri are physically and psychologically very similar to Terrans, the two species interact only when they must. The Remnant earn their keep among their alien hosts, but otherwise remain apart, devoting themselves to preserving the cultural heritage of Terra.

David, however, is fascinated with the Wyneri and their culture, an interest shared by none of his contemporaries. Attending a Wyneri performance he meets a Wyneri girl his own age, and he and Harari strike up a taboo friendship.

While David learns about his Terran heritage, he feels very much alone in trying to also learn about the history of the Terran-Wyneri relationship. Violent Wyneri xenophobia drives David to intensify his studies, and to dig into the mysteries surrounding the Cataclysm, the rescue, and the ensuing two centuries of cover-ups. He begins to suspect a long-lived cabal that has spent the years working in secret, preparing for a return to Earth.

Harari’s murder crystallizes David’s need to explore the Terran-Wyneri history. Her posthumous message proving that the Cataclysm was caused by rogue Wyneri military personnel leads David to the Remnant’s leaders, who confirm it as genuine. Their conclusion? The time has come for Terrans to separate from the Wyneri. They enlist David’s help to persuade the Remnant to return to Earth, and to encourage the Wyneri to help them.

(17) RED PLANET WINGS. “Nasa plans to fly giant solar-powered Mars plane to look for water on Red Planet” reports The Independent.

Nasa has received its first set of funding to develop a giant airplane that could fly high in the planet’s atmosphere and look for signs of water on the Red Planet.

The solar-powered vehicle, called Mars Aerial and Ground Intelligent Explorer or Maggie, is expected to fly in the Martian atmosphere with vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) capability similar to Nasa’s pioneering Ingenuity Mars helicopter.

With fully charged batteries, the Mars airplane could fly at an altitude of 1,000m for about 180km with its total range over a year on Mars expected to be over 16,000 km, the space agency said earlier this month.

Using the aircraft, Nasa hopes to conduct three studies on the Red Planet’s atmosphere and geophysical features, including the hunt for water, research on the origin of the planet’s weak magnetic field as well as tracing the elusive source of methane signals on Mars….

(18) HIDDEN HISTORY. Constellation comes to Apple TV+ on February 21.

“Constellation” stars Noomi Rapace as Jo — an astronaut who returns to Earth after a disaster in space — only to discover that key pieces of her life seem to be missing. The action-packed space adventure is an exploration of the dark edges of human psychology, and one woman’s desperate quest to expose the truth about the hidden history of space travel and recover all that she has lost.

(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Isaac Arthurs has just had his monthly sci-fi weekend and asks who would win: robot or alien?

We often worry that humanity might be attacked by Aliens or AI, but which is worse and which would win in a battle between them?

[Thanks to Steven French, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Andrew (not Werdna), Gareth Jelley, Dann, Rich Lynch, Daniel Dern, Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, and SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jim Henley.]

Pixel Scroll 1/8/24 Come Gather ’Round Pixels, Wherever You Scroll; And Admit That The Files, Around You Have Rolled

(1) CREATIVE ARTS EMMYS NIGHT 2. Sff was much less prominently featured among the second night 2023 Creative Arts Emmys Winners. (Note: Some categories had multiple winners.)

Outstanding Individual Achievement in Animation

  • EntergalacticThe Simpsons, “Lisa the Boy Scout;” More than I Want to RememberStar Wars: Visions, “Screecher’s Reach”

Outstanding Costumes for Variety, Nonfiction or Reality Programming

  • Beauty and the Beast: A 30th Celebration; We’re HereSt. George, Utah

Outstanding Makeup for a Variety, Nonfiction or Reality Program

  • Beauty and the Beast: A 30th Celebration

Outstanding Animated Program

  • The Simpsons

Outstanding Emerging Media Program

  • For All Mankind Season 3 Experience

(Click here for a report about “Night One of the 75th Creative Arts Emmy Awards”.)

(2) QUESTION TIME. Steve Davidson opines “The Fannish Inquisition Needs More Than Soft Cushions and Comfy Chairs” at Amazing Stories. Davidson says that in particular the recent Chengdu Worldcon bid and the 2028 Uganda Worldcon bid needed/needs sharp questioning on human rights. (Note that conventions generally abandoned the “Fannish Inquisition” panel title several years ago; at last December’s Smofcon the event was called “Future Worldcon and Smofcon Q&A”.)

…We’d all like to believe that stepping inside a convention transports us from a real world that is flawed with all manner of injustices, mistaken values and ancient moralities into one where the things that really matter are given their due.

But you can’t do that if the host country doesn’t at least respect those values enough to be hands-off.  ANY country that does not operate under one version of a rule of law or another is a potential mine field, because the rules are, in fact, arbitrary, and can change on a political whim….

…Sure, we need to know about the “restaurant scene” in your city, but we also need to know –

How is the LGBTQI community perceived in your culture or country?   Can Transgender individuals be arrested for “wearing the wrong clothing”?  Will I be arrested for having posted something critical of its government or leaders in my Fanzine?  Will my cell phone be scanned?  My internet communications monitored and recorded?  Will I have to hide my necklace with a Cross or a Star of David on it?  Will I be prevented from entering the country because I have the wrong stamps in my passport?  Will I disappear because I held hands with the wrong person in public?  What are my risks if I travel outside the venue?  If I’m female and need a doctor, will a male owner have to be present? Will armed thugs beat me in the street because I didn’t cover my hair?

… I strongly suggest that some additional questions be added to our Fannish Inquisitions.  Questions like:

What kind of government does the host country have?  Where does it fall on the Corruption Perceptions Index?  Why?

Where does the host country fall on the Universal Human Rights Index?  If it’s rating is considered to be low, why is that?

Do individuals identifying as LGBTQI enjoy the same rights and freedoms as those who do not?  If not, why not?  What are the restrictions, if any? What are the consequences for expressing LGBTQI affiliation privately?  Publicly?

Do women enjoy the same freedoms as men?  The same opportunities?  The same protections under the law?…

(3) THEY SAY AI CREPT. [Item by Anne Marble.] The official account for Magic: The Gathering had to admit that some recent marketing images they posted were, in fact, created with AI. As often happens, the company first claimed they were not created via AI. Some have pointed out that perhaps some of the 1,100 people they laid off just before the holidays could have checked the images and kept the company from making this mistake.

And Ars Technica quotes one artist who says he is done with the company after the way this was handled: “Magic: The Gathering maker admits it used AI-generated art despite standing ban”.

…As accusations of AI use in the creation of the promo image grew throughout the day, WotC posted multiple defenses on Thursday (such as this archived, now-deleted post) insisting that the art in question “was created by humans and not AI.” But given the evidence, the situation was too much for veteran MtG artist Dave Rapoza, who has created art for dozens of Magic cards going back years.

“And just like that, poof, I’m done working for Wizards of the Coast,” Rapoza wrote on social media on Saturday. “You can’t say you stand against this then blatantly use AI to promote your products… If you’re gonna stand for something you better make sure you’re actually paying attention, don’t be lazy, don’t lie.”….

(4) IN THE NEWS. Nnedi Okorafor shared happy moment with Facebook readers.

I was featured in New York Times yesterday! A great way to start 2024.

(5) NINO CIPRI SEMINAR. Atlas Obscura Experiences will host a four-part seminar “Thrills & Chills: Horror Story Writing With Nino Cipri” in February/March. Full details and prices at the link.

The horror genre is a funhouse mirror, offering larger-than-life reflections of a culture’s fears and insecurities. Its popularity may rise and fall, but horror is always with us. In this seminar, award-winning author and lifelong horror fan Nino Cipri will guide students through the process of writing horror, from generating ideas to the final revision and submission process. Along the way, we’ll talk about horror’s roots in oral traditions, embracing and subverting tropes, and why we keep coming back to horror even when it can’t compete with real life’s awfulness. This course welcomes writers of all backgrounds and experience who are interested in sharpening their skills and exploring the genre. 

(6) THE BLACK AMAZON. On Bluesky (for those of you with access) Jess Nevins wrote a 26-post story about a “real superhero” in 19th-century Paris. Thread begins here.

The concept of the superhero is as old as human culture. (See: Enkidu, “Epic of Gilgamesh”). But “real” superheroes? Vigilante groups have likely been wearing disguises for centuries. Certainly, the Whiteboys of Ireland (na Buachaillí Bána) in the 18th century did. What about women vigilantes?

(7) THE REINVENTED EDITORS Q&A. Paul Semel interviews “‘The Reinvented Detective’ Editors Jennifer Brozek & Cat Rambo”.

Who came up with the idea for The Reinvented Detective?

Jennifer: This one was all me! I have a deep and abiding love of noir detective stories, as well as mysteries in the future. Think Blade Runner / Blade Runner 2049 or any Philip K. Dick type story.

Also, as a member of Gen X, I grew up without the Internet, and was introduced to it in my formative adult years. I remember things that many people have never been without (contact online access, GoogleAmazon, and more). My world has changed enough that I can see how technology changes the face of society and how people interact with each other.

And yet…many of the same problems remain. We all live, love, hate, feud, want. We are still human in all the ways that matter. Which means no matter the circumstances, motivations for crimes remain the same. It’s how we see, solve, and punish those crimes that change. That’s what I wanted the stories to be about, and our authors delivered.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born January 8, 1944 Richard Bowes. (Died 2023.) Richard Bowes is a fascinating story.  He started getting published relatively late in life, in his early forties, with three novels in three years — WarchildFeral Cell and Goblin Market. Warchild and its sequel, Goblin Market are set in an alternate history version of the New York City, his home city. 

Richard Bowes in 2008.

A series of stories, mostly published in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, were later reworked into his Minions of the Moon novel which won the Lambda Literary Award. One of these stories, “Streetcar Dreams”, would garner a World Fantasy Award for Best Novella.

Dust Devils on a Quiet Street is semi-autobiographical but adds in a dose of the supernatural as it centered around 9/11. It got nominated for Lambda and World Fantasy Awards. 

Now my favorite stories by him are his Time Ranger stories mixing fantasy and SF. They’re some of the best such stories and the mosaic novel, as edited by Marty Halpern, From the Files of the Time Rangers, has a foreword by Kage Baker in which she gives her appreciation of his stories. It was nominated for a Nebula Award.

Two of the novelettes that make up this novel,  “The Ferryman’s Wife” and “The Mask of the Rex” were  originally published in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction – were also nominated for Nebula Awards. 

(9) THE SOURCE. Gareth L. Powell tries to answer the eternal question “Where Do You Get Your Ideas?”

… These ideas can be something complex or something simple, and often come in the form of an answer to a ‘What would happen if…?’ question.

The Embers of War trilogy sprang from an article about the Titanic that I was reading in a dentist’s waiting room. There had been other ship losses before the ill-fated liner, but the Titanic carried a radio and was able to call for help, which meant other ships arrived in time to rescue survivors and relay the tale of what had happened. I started thinking about how different things might have been today, when the ship’s radio could have summoned helicopters and planes and fast-response boats – and as I write science fiction, I naturally projected that situation into space. If space travel became commonplace, I thought, there would need to be some sort of rescue organisation for starships in distress. And from there, I went on to build the rest of the universe around that central notion.

My point is, ideas can come from anywhere. You just have to learn to interrogate them.

Read widely, both within and beyond your chosen genre. Expose yourself to nonfiction, biographies, music, art, poetry. The wider you cast your net, the better your chances of finding something at inspires your creative process. It all goes into the compost heap of the imagination, where unexpected connections happen all the time….

(10) FAMILY TIES. Someone followed this Mark Hamill’s post at X.com with a comment: “Seems to have gone better than your meeting with your father.”

(11) YOU DON’T SAY. The Guardian offers advice about “Where to start with: Wilkie Collins”, the 19th-century author.

Monday marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Wilkie Collins, the Victorian writer known for his mystery novels. His writing became foundational to the way modern crime novels are constructed, and his most famous works – The Woman in White, No Name, Armadale, and The Moonstone – have earned him an international reputation. British crime novelist and Collins fan Elly Griffiths offers a guide for those new to the author’s work.

…the book [No Name] abounds with colourful characters, including the disreputable Captain Wragge and the noble Captain Kirke (a protype of the Star Trek hero?).

(12) AKA TRIBULATION PERIWINKLE. Can scholars identify the works published under the many pen names of Louisa May Alcott? There’s Gould in them thar hills. Max Chapnick tells “How I identified a probable pen name of Louisa May Alcott” in The Conversation.

…Where was this phantom “Phantom” story? Could I find it?

After searching digital databases, I came across one such story, called simply “The Phantom,” with the subtitle, “Or, The Miser’s Dream, &c.” It had been published in the Olive Branch in early 1860, months after Alcott listed having written “The Phantom” in her journals. But the byline under the story read E. or I. – I couldn’t quite make out the first initial – Gould, which wasn’t a known pseudonym of Alcott’s.

So I went to sleep. Sometime later I awoke with the thought that Gould might be Alcott. What if, along with her several known pseudonyms – A. M. Barnard, Tribulation Periwinkle and Flora Fairfield, among others – Alcott had yet another that simply hadn’t been identified yet?

I cannot say for certain that Gould is Alcott. But I’ve encountered enough circumstantial evidence to consider it likely Alcott wrote seven stories, five poems and one piece of nonfiction under that name….

(13) SFNAL ADVERTISING EPHEMERA, CIRCA 1900. [Item by Bruce D. Arthurs.] Liza Daly on Mastodon posted some interesting sample pages from “The Mars Gazette: News from Another World”, a circa-1900 advertising pamphlet, that was an illustrated 16-page story of a traveler to Mars who enlightens the sickly malnourished Martians about the virtues of “Liquid Peptonoids”. (A combination of beef, milk and gluten; vegans, lactose-intolerant, and people with celiac disease, beware!) Daly’s post includes a link to the full pamphlet. Some of the illustrations are kinda neat:

(14) PRIVATE LUNAR LANDING NOW UNLIKELY. “US lunar landing attempt appears doomed after ‘critical’ fuel leak” reports AP News.

The first U.S. moon landing attempt in more than 50 years appeared to be doomed after a private company’s spacecraft developed a “critical” fuel leak just hours after Monday’s launch.

Pittsburgh-based Astrobotic Technology managed to orient its lander toward the sun so the solar panel could collect sunlight and charge its battery, as a special team assessed the status of what was termed “a failure in the propulsion system.”

It soon became apparent, however, that there was “a critical loss of fuel,” further dimming hope for what had been a planned moon landing on Feb. 23….

This news has implications for a Star Trek-themed payload that is part of the mission: “Vulcan Centaur rocket launches private lander to the moon on 1st mission” at Space.com.

…The company [Celestis] also put a payload called Enterprise on the rocket’s Centaur upper stage. That mission, aptly named, has been decades in the making. It includes DNA from “Star Trek” creator Gene Roddenberry and his wife, Majel Barrett-Roddenberry, as well as the remains from several actors from the original TV series, including Nichelle Nichols, James Doohan and DeForest Kelley, who played Lieutenant Uhura, Chief Engineer “Scotty” and CMO Leonard “Bones” McCoy, respectively….

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “New Lisa Frankenstein Trailer Brings Awesome ’80s Movie Vibes” says SYFY Wire. The movie arrives in theaters on February 9.

There are a lot of genre movies we’re already looking forward to in 2024, and at the moment, Lisa Frankenstein is near the top of the list. With a great roster of talent behind it, a wonderful dark comedy concept, and a blend of warmth and irreverence, it’s exactly the kind of movie we’re ready to see. Oh, and if you love nostalgia vibes, it’s also got that ’80s movie feeling, and lots of it.

Written by Diablo Cody (JunoJennifer’s Body) and directed by Zelda Williams in her feature directorial debut, the film follows Lisa (Kathryn Newton), a weird teenager who doesn’t fit in for a lot of reasons, including her taste in men. See, Lisa has a crush, but her crush happens to be on a Victorian man who’s buried in a local cemetery. She visits him, talks to the handsome statue that marks his grave, and dreams of what their life might be like together. Then, a lightning strike unexpectedly reanimates the man (Cole Sprouse), making Lisa’s dreams seemingly come true.

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

Pixel Scroll 12/5/23 Which Items In This Scroll Contain A Hovercraft Full Of Eels?

(1) INDIE SPIRIT. The 2024 Independent Spirit Awards nominations are out. Full list at Variety: “Indie Spirit Film and TV Nominations 2024 Revealed”.

…The annual honors recognize the best of television, as well as film…. Only new TV shows that have run for one season and were released between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31 of this year are eligible for awards….

The sff epic The Last of Us received four nominations.

(2) KGB. Fantastic Fiction at KGB speculative fiction reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present Holly Black and S.L. Coney on Wednesday, December 13. The event begins at 7:00 p.m. Eastern in the KGB Bar, 85 East 4th Street, New York, NY 10003 (Just off 2nd Ave, upstairs).

Holly Black

Holly Black is the #1 New York Times bestselling and award-winning author of fantasy novels, short stories, and comics. She has been a finalist for an Eisner and a Lodestar Award, and the recipient of the Mythopoeic Award, a Nebula, and a Newbery Honor. She has sold over 26 million books worldwide, and her work has been translated into over thirty languages and adapted for film. Her most recent novel is The Stolen Heir.

S. L. Coney

S. L. Coney is the author of Wild Spaces, an Esquire Best of Horror 2023 pick, and named as an author to watch by Publisher’s Weekly. Their short stories have appeared in St. Louis Noir and Gamut Magazine and their story “Abandoned Places” was picked for 2017s Best American Mystery Stories. They still hold seashells to their ears to hear the ocean speak to them, and are still deeply disappointed that their fins never grew in.

(3) SCHOLASTIC DISCONTINUES SEPARATING OUT BOOKS WITH BIPOC/QUEER CHARACTERS. Publisher’s Lunch reports:

Scholastic announced an update to its Book Fairs policy, after separating out books with BIPOC and queer characters and creators from elementary school fairs in a purported effort to protect teachers and librarians who are dealing with legislation that bans such titles. Scholastic apologized and reversed course in October, announcing that they would discontinue the share Every Story, Celebrate Every Voice a la carte collection but without additional details about the future of the program.

“From our experience in the fall, we have learned that separating out titles or highlighting titles that might make teachers and librarians vulnerable to serious legal and professional consequences is not the answer,” they state in a release.

Now, Scholastic has announced that books from the separate case—which they now call the Celebrating Voices Collection—will be integrated into the standard book fair case for the spring 2024 season, “joining a number of new titles with a wide array of representation.” All books will be delivered to schools, “which will be able to make their own local merchandising decisions, as they have always done, just like any bookstore or library.”

(4) WOOF. The Worldcon Order Of Faneditors had a collation at the Chengdu Worldcon. This year’s Official Editor (OE), Don Eastlake, has made WOOF #48 a free download at eFanzines.

WOOF is an amateur press association (apa) that has been a feature of Worldcons since 1976 thanks to its originator, the late Bruce Pelz. 

(5) WHAT A STINKER. “Doctor Who: Worst Things The Doctor Has Done”GameRant has seven of them on its list. They get even worse after this one —

Abandoning Sarah Jane Smith

The Hand of Fear (Season 14, Serial 2)

Sarah Jane Smith first appeared alongside the third Doctor in 1973. She was a determined woman who managed to infiltrate a secret research facility in her first episode, an act that caught The Doctor’s attention. He took her on board the TARDIS as his next companion, and Sarah Jane faced off against the Daleks, Cybermen, and The Master in her time. She even got to witness The Doctor regenerate into the fourth incarnation.

All of this history made it seem even stranger that The Doctor would just abandon Sarah Jane Smith when he is called back to Gallifrey by the Time Lords. He did agree to take her home, but accidentally left her in Aberdeen with the promise of returning to her. However, it is revealed later on during the tenth Doctor’s run that the two never saw each other after that, and that The Doctor chose to abandon Sarah Jane as he did not want to see her grow old.

(6) NEW SFF IN THE NYT. Amal El-Mohtar reviews new books by Vajra Chandrasekera, Avi Silver, Cadwell Turnbull, Michael Mammay and T. Kingfisher in “What’s Behind That Door?” at the New York Times.

THE SAINT OF BRIGHT DOORS (Tordotcom, 356 pp., $27.99), by Vajra Chandrasekera, is the best book I’ve read all year. Protean, singular, original, it forces me to come up with the most baffling comparisons, like: What if “Disco Elysium” were written by Sofia Samatar? At the same time, all you need to know about it is contained in its opening:

“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.”…

(7) FRANKLY. David Fear’s Rolling Stone review says “’Poor Things’ Is Emma Stone’s Horny, Feminist-Frankenstein Masterpiece”. (To be precise, that’s Frankenstein’s monster, of course.)

…Based on Alasdair Gray’s award-winning 1992 novel, this serrated satire from Yorgos Lanthimos (The Favourite) drops you into Victorian-era London, at the very moment that a young woman steps off the city’s titular bridge. She is Bella Baxter (Emma Stone), and her contemporaries might call her “simple.” Or perhaps “beastly.” She communicates by grunting, smashing plates, and high-decibel screaming. When she’s not gleefully terrorizing the servants, she hobbles unsteadily throughout the house of her guardian, Dr. Godwin Baxter (Willem Dafoe) — God, for short. A surgeon by trade (and judging from the jigsaw scars on his face, intimately familiar with the scalpel), he spends his off hours exploring the boundaries of bleeding-edge 19th century science….

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born December 5, 1936 James Lee Burke, 87. James Lee Burke is a writer that I first encountered by way of his Dave Robicheaux series, the once seriously alcoholic former homicide detective in the New Orleans Police Department, Robicheaux lives in New Iberia, Louisiana, and works as a detective for the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office.

James Lee Burke

The series being set there takes full advantage of its setting. This is an extraordinary series in which people I care about have bad things happen to them and yet I keep reading the series. It has cringe-inducing moments and it is not one to read late at night, but I enjoy it immensely. 

ISFDB lists four novels in this series as having genre elements, all I assume fantasy as Burke doesn’t do SF: In the Electric Mist with Confederate DeadBurning AngelJolie Blon‘s Bounce and A Private Cathedral, the latter the newest novel.  Now I remember the scene in Electric Mist with Confederate Dead that they think might be fantastical. It might, it might not be. To say what I think would be a spoiler. 

His shorter series of which there are currently four are all much shorter than the Dave Robicheaux series which is now at twenty-three novels over thirty three years and has even spawned has two films, the first with Dave Robicheaux played by Alec Baldwin (Heaven’s Prisoners) and then Tommy Lee Jones (In the Electric Mist). I go with the latter as working in this role as the former is too handsome as the character is described in the novels. 

The Billy Bob Holland series which I’ve read is damn good. Billy Bob Holland, an attorney and former Texas Ranger, in Deaf Smith, Texas which the author admits is a sort of love affair to his birth state. The first novel, Cimarron Rose, an Edgar Award for Best Novel. Very impressive. 

Though I’ve not read them yet, I’m very interested in his series using the real life memorable Texas sheriff Hackberry Holland coming of age against the backdrop of the civil rights era in a border town with the problems of that time.

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • Shoe has a horrible literary pun.
  • Bizarro has a more subtle horror pun.
  • Reality Check mashes up Shakespeare and Spider-Man.
  • Existential Comics wonders a bit about relative perspectives.  Paladins and orcs, on the other hand, aren’t terribly concerned with the nuances of perspective. 
  • xkcd has a strange (of course) solar system navigation aid.

(10) DWAYNE MCDUFFIE GRANT CREATED. “There is now a Dwayne McDuffie Genius Grant Award (as there should be!)”Popverse has the story.

Dwayne McDuffie is a titan in the world of superhero comics and animation. The Milestone hero Static who you know from all the DC Comics and cartoons? That’s one of his. Marvel’s Damage Control, which is now not only in comics, but the MCU, and board games? That’s one of his as well. And that’s not to mention his foundational work on the animated series Ben 10 and Justice League Unlimited.

Although McDuffie sadly passed away in 2011, his personality and work have lived on through subsequent reprints, re-issues, collections, spinoffs to his work, and the contributions of those he helped along the way. And now if you consider yourself helped by McDuffie – as a reader or watcher of his work, as a collaborator, and/or as a friend – you can help someone on his behalf.

A non-profit organization called the Dwayne McDuffie Foundation has been started by McDuffie’s widow Charlotte (Fullerton) McDuffie, and one of its first acts is partnering with the iconic writer’s childhood school for the gifted with a “significant” scholarship called the Dwayne McDuffie Genius Grant Award….

More details are available in the announcement on the Dwayne McDuffie Facebook page.

… The main beneficiary of the Foundation at this time is Dwayne’s beloved childhood school in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan: The Roeper School, a prestigious private institution of learning for gifted students pre-K through high school.

The Dwayne McDuffie Foundation has established a significant scholarship at Roeper called the “McDuffie Genius Grant”—a moniker Dwayne himself always wanted to use.

Beginning in Fall 2023, this annual scholarship is being awarded to a young African-American student entering the Lower School, as Dwayne did, famously reminiscing that at Roeper, he finally “felt at home.”

In February 2024, a ceremony will take place at Roeper, honoring Mr. McDuffie for his humanitarianism and many professional achievements, including his inclusion in The Smithsonian National Museum of African-American History and Culture. The faculty and staff of Roeper, present and past, couldn’t be prouder of their alumnus.

(11) BARBENHEIMER Q&A. “Cillian Murphy and Margot Robbie Discuss Barbenheimer Memes, Box Office Success”. Variety thought it would be cute for the two stars to interview each other. Were they right?

ROBBIE: It was all the way along. The fact that it’s Greta Gerwig, people are like, “Greta Gerwig and a ‘Barbie’ movie, what?” And then the pictures of Ryan Gosling and me Rollerblading on Venice Beach came out and went even wider than I was expecting. I’d been thinking big for it, and it still turned out bigger than I expected.

But what about you? Did you think so many people were going to watch a movie about the making of the atomic bomb?

MURPHY: No. I don’t think any of us did. Christopher Nolan was always determined that it would be released in the summer as a big tentpole movie. That was always his plan. And he has this superstition around that date, the 21st.

ROBBIE: Do all his movies come out on that date?

MURPHY: In and around the 21st of July — they always come out then.

ROBBIE: It’s a good date. We picked that day too!

MURPHY: Yeah, I know.

(12) AARGH. “British Museum ends terrible year as punchline in Christmas cracker joke” which is repeated in the Guardian. (And here.)

The British Museum has barely been out of the headlines in 2023. First, there was the theft of 1,500 items from its collection and then it found itself in the middle of a diplomatic row over the Parthenon marbles.

Now the institution’s annus horribilis has been topped off by becoming the punchline in the year’s most popular Christmas cracker joke.

The annual competition, commissioned by the TV channel Gold, asks people to post their festive jokes to X (formerly Twitter) with a winner of the annual poll decided by the British public.

This year’s winner was written by Chris Douch from Oxfordshire who managed to combine a joke about the British Museum’s recent travails with a reference to fruity festive confectionery: “Did you hear about the Christmas cake on display in the British Museum? It was Stollen.”

The annual competition usually produces a topical winner that sends up one of the biggest stories of the year. In 2020, the winner poked fun at Dominic Cummings and his trip to Barnard Castle during the Covid-19 pandemic….

(13) HOLD THAT THOUGHT. A Scientific American article says, “Mars Can Wait. Questions Surround Settlements on Other Worlds”.

As ever-deepening turmoil engulfs Earth, daydreaming about moving to Mars might provide a pleasant break from our everyday predicaments. It is entirely understandable—and human—to grasp onto promises of a better life in a faraway place. But when Martian daydreams, in particular, turn into reality, the picture becomes less pleasant. What promise could a barren, hostile planet like Mars hold? As far as the solar system is concerned, we already inhabit a paradise.

Nevertheless, Mars is on the menu. NASA’s proposed Artemis mission ends with people planting flags on Martian soil in coming decades. China plans a sample return mission to Mars, and India plans to send another orbiter there in 2024. Even Earth’s newest space billionaire, Elon Musk, has joked about spending his last years on Mars, apparently intending to make humans a multiplanetary species…

…At face value, the long-term survival of humanity seems to provide a solid and noble cause for building permanent settlements on Mars. However, for a Mars settlement to truly mitigate extinction risks it must be adequately self-sufficient. This is unlikely to be achieved any time soon, and we may not have the time to wait. Instead, investments in global food security, meteor or comet deflection, pandemic preparedness and global peace appear far more cost-effective than building a settlement off-world. Additionally, some risks may follow us to Mars , such as rogue artificial intelligence, meaning that a settlement on Mars does not lower the total risk of extinction that much. Therefore, while in the long term safeguarding humanity may provide a good reason to settle other planets, it does not give us an urgent one….

(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “10 Funny James Bond Commercials”.

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