Pixel Scroll 1/20/23 Scrolling About Pixels Is Like Stardancing About Naval Architecture

(1) SHORT SFF REVIVAL. Charlie Jane Anders diagnoses the problem and then brings forward “Some Ideas for How to Save Short Fiction!”

Short fiction is once again in crisis. After an era when the Internet seemed to be helping a lot of short stories find a bigger audience, the same thing is now happening to short stories that are happening to a lot of other content: the invisible hand is raising a big middle finger. Among other things, Twitter is getting to be much less useful in helping to spread the word about short stories worth reading, and Amazon just announced that it’s ending its Kindle subscription program from magazines, depriving magazine publishers of a pretty significant slice of income….

Here’s a short example out of several ideas Anders pitches.

I’d love to see more short fiction turning up in incongruous contexts

This is something I talked about a lot in the introduction to my short story collection Even Greater Mistakes (shameless plug alert!). I am always happy to see short stories show up on coffee bag labels, in pamphlets on public transit, scrawled on bathroom walls, or in the middle of a publication that mostly includes serious non-fiction pieces about politics and culture. I feel like we could be doing more to leverage the ability of short stories to show up in surprising places and suck us in with their narrative power.

(2) MEDICAL UPDATE. Paul Di Filippo’s partner Deborah Newton wrote to friends that on January 19 Paul was hit by a large SUV. 

The driver stopped, spoke to Paul and gave him her phone to call Newton.

I ran the three blocks to where the accident had occurred — the ambulance passed me as I ran.  Luckily there was a witness whose moving car was facing the accident when it happened and had a video camera on the dashboard.  He made arrangements with the police, who had already arrived, to share the video.  

Those of you who have met Paul in the flesh will not be surprised that he dragged himself up after the huge hit, and even climbed by himself into the ambulance.  The Dr. at the ER later called that “adrenaline”, but I believe Paul has a stronger energy and will than most of us mere mortals.

After extensive testing in the ER it was determined he sustained no head wounds or broken bones. However, writes Newton, “He is covered with bruises and has a large hematoma on his left thigh. His hip, where he believes he landed after the hit, is excruciatingly painful.”

He is back home, presently using a walker to get around.

(3) LIVE FROM 1968. Cora Buhlert returns to Galactic Journey as one of the contributors to a “Galactoscope” column, reviewing Swords of Lankhmar by Fritz Leiber — and also talking about some of the biggest protests her hometown has ever seen. There are also reviews of Picnic on Paradise by Joanna Russ, a Jack Vance book, an Andre Norton book and several others: “[January 20, 1968] Alyx and Company (January 1968 Galactoscope)”.

… However, with the sale of the Ziff-Davis magazines to Sol Cohen, the appearances of Fafhrd and Gray Mouser in the pages of Fantastic became scarce. It seemed the dynamic duo was homeless once again, unless they shacked up with Cele Goldsmith Lalli over at Modern Bride magazine, that is.

So imagine my joy when I spotted the brand-new Fafhrd and Gray Mouser adventure The Swords of Lankhmar in the spinner rack of my trusty import bookstore…

(4) 2024 NASFIC UPDATE. Sharon Sbarsky, the Pemmi-con/2023 NASFiC committee member in charge of NASFiC 2024 Site Selection, announced today that the Buffalo in 2024 bid has filed. She published the following extract from their letter of intent.

Upstate New York Science Fiction and Fantasy Alliance Inc. is pleased to present this letter of intent, along with Visit Buffalo Niagara, to host the 16th North American Science Fiction Convention in Buffalo, New York USA in 2024 .

Details of the bid

Proposed date: July 18-21, 2024

Proposed site: Hyatt Regency Buffalo Hotel and Convention Center & Buffalo Niagara Convention Center

Proposed Headquarter Hotel: Hyatt Regency Buffalo Hotel and Convention Center

Upstate New York Science Fiction and Fantasy Alliance, Inc. is a NYS registered not-for-profit corporation focused on encouraging and running fannish activities in New York State. Members of our bid committee include individuals who have experience working on Worldcon / NASFiC events, as well as others who have organized small conventions and other events across New York and Southern Ontario
https://buffalonasfic2024.org/

Sbarksy added: “Members of Pemmi-con will be able to vote in the Site Selection. Details will come at a later time. We hope to have electronic voting, similar to the Worldcon and NASFiC selections at Chicon 8. 180 days before the Start of Pemmi-Con is January 21, 2023, so the ballot is still open for additional bids.”

(5) GETTING UNSTUCK. Victoria Strauss of Writer Beware delivers another warning: “Bad Contract Alert: Webnovel”.

A bit over two years ago, I wrote about two companies, A&D Entertainment and EMP Entertainment, that appeared to have been deputized by serialized fiction app Webnovel to recruit authors to non-exclusive contracts. The contracts from both companies were (and continue to be) absolutely terrible.

EMP Entertainment no longer appears to be active (it has no website and I’ve heard nothing about it since 2020), but A&D is still going strong, and over the past two years I’ve been contacted by a lot of (mostly very young and inexperienced) writers who are confused about its complicated English-language contract, or have changed their minds about signing up and want to know how to get free (as with the contracts of so many serialized fiction apps, there’s no option for the author to terminate).

A&D recruits via a bait and switch. Writers are solicited by an editor or Author Liaison who claims to have discovered the writer’s work on Amazon or elsewhere, and invites them to publish on the Webnovel platform (the bait)….

(6) DON’T JUST ROLL THE DICE. [Item by Daniel Dern.] “5 Things SecOps Can Learn from Dungeons & Dragons” at Tech Beacon. Note, “SecOps” is tech shorthand for “Security Operations” (or possibly “Security Operators”)

… Anyone who has ever experienced a SOC 2 or ISO 27001 audit might see the parallels between a lengthy framework of rules and their arbiter. Still, D&D is significantly more fun than a cybersecurity audit. In fact, when it comes to security preparedness there are quite a few lessons that security operations (SecOps) teams that are responsible for the security of connected assets—including myriad Internet of Things (IoT) devices—can learn from D&D. And they might just have a bit of fun along the way.

Assemble Your Party

From wizards and warriors to clerics and rogues, there are a wide variety of classes in D&D—each with its own specializations. The key to an effective adventuring party is to combine them in a way that the strengths of one character can mitigate the weaknesses of another. Building a cybersecurity team is no different. Aside from all the specialized roles within cybersecurity, such as incident-response or threat-hunting teams, an effective approach to security preparedness requires cross-functional collaboration between IT teams, operational-technology (OT) teams, and other lines of business to better understand how to balance business objectives with security requirements….

(7) A THEORY ABOUT THE HOBBIT.  Scott McLemee poses the questions in an “Interview with Robert T. Tally Jr. on historicizing ‘The Hobbit’” for Inside Higher Ed.

Q: You don’t historicize The Hobbit in the naïve or narrow sense of interpreting it as a fictionalized response to real-world events. Your approach owes a great deal to the American Marxist literary theorist Fredric Jameson—the subject of your first book. What does it mean to read Tolkien as a Jamesonian?

A: “Modernism” is a dirty word among many Tolkien enthusiasts, and perhaps for Tolkien himself, but I see his desire to “create a mythology for England” as a powerfully modern thing to attempt, more like Yeats or Joyce than most mere medievalism. Also, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings are clearly novelistic in form, even if they deal with “epic” or “romantic” ideas.

In his work on postmodernism, Fredric Jameson refers to the “attempt to think the present historically in an age that has forgotten how to think historically in the first place.” Coming from an entirely different direction politically, I think Tolkien was deeply concerned with the modern world’s inability to “think historically,” and thus his desire to connect elements of the medieval historical world with our own time, even if—or especially if—that meant using fantasy as a way of sort of tricking us into “realizing” history.

(8) MEMORY LANE.

2021 [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

Cat Rambo’s You Sexy Thing was a novel that I nominated for a Hugo. Why so? Because it is damn good. It made my top ten novels of that year by having a fantastic story, great characters that for the most part I could care about and not one but two truly interesting settings, the first being the intelligent bioship You Sexy Thing, and the other being a restaurant situated near a defunct star gate.

Now unlike the restaurant in the Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhikers Guide to Galaxy, this one is not played for laughs and is real, working environment. I don’t know if Rambo has worked in such a place but she captures the feel of it very nicely as I have a very long time ago and it seems quite right.

Now before we get to the quote, I’m very, very pleased to note that the next novel in the series is indeed out relatively soon. Here are the details courtesy of the author:

Devil’s Gun, available this August, follows the adventures of intelligent bioship You Sexy Thing and its crew. While seeking a weapon against the pirate king Tubal Last and operating a pop-up restaurant near a failed star gate, Niko and her friends encounter a strange pair of adventurers who claim to have power over the gates that link the Known Universe.  But following the two on an intergalactic treasure hunt will require going into one of the most dangerous places any of them have ever faced.

Of course it will be available from all the usual suspects in both print and epub formats. 

Now I normally choose the quote, but this time I’m honored to say that Cat chose her favorite quote about food from You Sexy Thing:

[Niko] looked at Dabry, who stood ignoring them, caressing the eggplant with all four hands and his eyes half closed. “Sweet Momma Sky, should we leave so you can have your way with that eggplant or should I just let you take it to your bunk?”

His eyes closed entirely, expression blissful. “Baba ganoush,” he said. “Flat wheat bread dusted with cumin. Seared protein tinctured with lemon and garlic…”

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 20, 1884 A. Merritt. Early pulp writer whose career consisted of eight complete novels and a number of short stories. H. P. Lovecraft notes in a letter that he was a major influence upon his writings, and a number of authors including Michael Moorcock and Robert Bloch list him as being among their favorite authors. He’s available at the usual suspects. (Died 1943.)
  • Born January 20, 1920 DeForest Kelley. Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy on the original Trek and a number of films that followed plus the animated series. Other genre appearances include voicing Viking 1 in The Brave Little Toaster Goes to Mars (his last acting work) and a 1955 episode of Science Fiction Theatre entitled “Y..O..R..D..” They’re his only ones — he didn’t do SF as he really preferred Westerns. (Died 1999.)
  • Born January 20, 1934 Tom Baker, 89. The Fourth Doctor and still my favorite Doctor. My favorite story? The “Talons of Weng Chiang” with of course the delicious added delight of his companion Leela played by Lousie Jameson. Even the worst of the stories were redeemed by him and his jelly babies. And yes, he turns up briefly in the present era of Who rather delightfully. Before being the Doctor he had a turn as Sherlock Holmes In “The Hound of the Baskervilles”, and though not genre, he played Rasputin early in his career in “Nicholas and Alexandra”! Being a working actor, he shows up in a number of low budget films early on such as The Vault of HorrorThe Golden Voyage of Sinbad,The MutationsThe Curse of King Tut’s Tomb and The Zany Adventures of Robin Hood. And weirdly enough, he’s Halvarth the Elf in a Czech-made Dungeons & Dragons film which has a score of ten percent among audience reviewers on Rotten Tomatoes.
  • Born January 20, 1946 David Lynch, 77. Director of the first Dune movieWent on to make Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me which is possibly one of the weirdest films ever made. (Well with Blue Velvet being a horror film also vying for top honors as well.) Oh and I know that I didn’t mention Eraserhead. You can talk about that film.
  • Born January 20, 1960 Kij Johnson, 63. Faculty member, University of Kansas, English Department. She’s also worked for Tor, TSR and Dark Horse. Wow. Where was I? Oh about to mention her writings… if you not read her Japanese mythology based The Fox Woman, do so now as it’s superb. The sequel, Fudoki, is just as interesting. The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe is a novella taking a classic Lovecraftian tale and giving a nice twist. Finally I’ll recommend her short story collection, At the Mouth of the River of Bees: Stories. She has won a Best Novella Hugo for “The Man Who Bridged the Mist” had several other nominations. Much of her work is available at the usual suspects.
  • Born January 20, 1964 Francesca Buller, 59. Performer and wife of Ben Browder, yes that’s relevant as she’s been four different characters on Farscape, to wit she played the characters of Minister Ahkna, Raxil, ro-NA and M’Lee. Minister Ahkn is likely the one you remember her as being. Farscape is her entire genre acting career. 

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Get Fuzzy makes a noble pun about a bestselling horror writer.
  • Eek! deals with a young superhero’s fib.

(11) FRANKLY SPEAKING. In “When Monsters Make the Best Husbands”, a New York Times reviewer tells about two plays, one of genre interest.  

The monster is nestled in a glacier when the villagers dig him out, frozen but not dead, because he was undead already. Tall, broad-shouldered, hulking in his platform boots, he is instantly recognizable, and once he thaws, proves unpretentious despite his Hollywood fame.

It is 1946 in a tiny European village, and he is the most endearing of monsters: awkward, uncertain, just wanting to help out. And in “Frankenstein’s Monster Is Drunk and the Sheep Have All Jumped the Fences,” a winsome cartwheel of a show that’s part of the Origin Theater Company’s 1st Irish festival, he finds lasting romance — with a local outcast who falls in love with him at first sight. Never mind that by his own account he is “constructed from the dismembered body parts of a number of different corpses”; their sex life is fabulous….

(12) BEGIN AGAIN. The Cromcast, a sword and sorcery podcast that started as a Conan readthrough, are rereading all the Conan stories again ten years after they launched. They started with “The Phoenix on the Sword”, the very first Conan story: “Season 18, Episode 1: The Phoenix on the Sword!”

“Know, oh prince, that between the years when the oceans drank Atlantis and the gleaming cities, and the years of the rise of the Sons of Aryas, there was an Age undreamed of…”

(13) HE-MAN. The For Eternia YouTube channel has a great interview with Tim Sheridan, one of the writers of Masters of the Universe Revelation/Revolution, about why the Filmation Masters of the Universe cartoon resonated with so many gay people: “The Power of Pride: Talking Importance of 1980’s He-Man on the LGBTQ+ Community with Tim Sheridan”.

(14) THE NATURE OF REALITY COUNTS. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] I know from being involved with SF2 Concatenation that quite a few fans are interested in the interface between science and science fiction: after all, the term ‘science fiction’ contains ‘science’. Consequently, it should not be any surprise that all of the four YouTube Channels I invariably check out each week are SF and/or science related.

One of these is PBS Space-Time. It is ostensibly a physics channel (though often there’s astronomy and cosmology) and there’s nothing like at the start of the day having a mug of Yorkshire builders tea (sufficiently strong that the teaspoon stands up in it) along with a short episode of PBS Space Time: it is good to limber up with some physics before embarking on the serious biological and geoscience business of the day (tough as that is for Sheldon Cooper to take).

One aspect of the SF-science border is an exploration as to the true nature of reality. Are we living in a holographic universe? Are we living in a Matrix simulation? And if so is there a simulator?

This week’s PBS Space Time asks the question as to whether the Universe is simply, and purely, mathematical (not physical)? And if so, what of parallel Universes, dimensions and alternate Universes? Indeed, are there different levels to the multiverse?

Be assured, despite maths (or ‘sums’ as we environmental scientists call it) being in the title, there are no heavy mathematics in this short video, rather it is a somewhat deep philosophical discussion. Nonetheless, don’t worry if you find your mind being stretched: that’s what daily limbering up exercises are all about.

So, sit down with your mug of builders and enjoy this 16 minute slice of Space Time“What If The Universe Is Math?”

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

Pixel Scroll 1/13/23 I Get Scrolled Down, But I Scroll Up Again

(1) STOP LOAFING AROUND. Cora Buhlert snagged another figure, who stars in her latest toy photo story called: “Masters-of-the-Universe-Piece Theatre: ‘Wun-Dar and His Wonderful Dinosaur’”.

… “Halt, stranger! State your business!”

“Relax. Like I said, I’m Wun-Dar. You know, legendary hero, champion of Grayskull and wielder – well, former wielder of the Sword of Power? And this is Giga, my trusty mount. I came through a portal from Preternia because… well, even paradise gets boring eventually, I guess. And besides, Fleaman – I mean, Adam – said that you guys needed help with someone named Skeleton? Is that right? Stupid name, at any rate.”

“It’s Skeletor, young man. And what exactly do you and this… this thing want here in my throne room?”…

(2) ANOTHER MASTERS FAN. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] The Dad-at-Arms podcast has a very good interview with animation and comic writer Tim Sheridan, who worked on Masters of the Universe: Revelation, Dragon Age: Absolution and a lot of Transformers and DC superhero stuff: 

(3) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites listeners to feast on French toast with Ron Marz in Episode 189 of his Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Ron Marz is perhaps best known for his writing of the characters Silver Surfer and Green Lantern, but also for his work on the Marvel vs. DC crossover and Batman/Aliens. He also worked on the CrossGen Comics series ScionMysticSojourn, and The Path. At Dark Horse Comics, he created Samurai: Heaven and Earth and various Star Wars comics. For DC Comics, he’s written Ion, a 12 part comic book miniseries that followed the Kyle Rayner character after the One Year Later event, and Tales of the Sinistro Corps Presents: Parallax and Tales of the Sinestro Corps Presents: Ion, two one-shot tie-ins to the Green Lantern crossover, The Sinestro Corps War.

Ron Marz

We discussed how the letter he wrote to Marvel when he was a kid suggesting a Justice League/Avengers team-up predicted his future comics career, which side his childhood self fell in the Marvel vs. DC war, the difficulties of surprising readers when the publicity machine is always running, how early encounters with Bernie Wrightson and Jim Starlin led to him giving up journalism, why it was better he broke in first at “collegial” Marvel rather than “corporate” DC, how the thick skin he developed in newspapers helped him when he took over Green Lantern, why comic book companies like poaching each other’s creators, the ironic conversation that led to him writing Superman, what he still considers the best part of the job after 30 years in comics, our memories of George Perez and Neal Adams, and much more.

(4) TODAY VERSUS TOMORROW. Here are two somewhat contradictory articles from the Guardian about independent bookstores in the UK:

The number of independent bookshops in the UK and Ireland climbed to a 10-year high in 2022, as the book trade defied the odds in an otherwise brutal year for high street retailers.

The lifestyle changes brought about by the coronavirus pandemic lockdowns were a boon for the book trade, as Britons with more time on their hands read more and sought out bookshops when they reopened.

There are now 1,072 independent bookshops after the industry enjoyed a sixth consecutive year of growth, according to the Booksellers Association (BA). The resurgence followed a 20-year losing streak in which bookshop numbers sank to a nadir of 867 in 2016….

… The survey also asked booksellers about the year of trading to come, with many concerned about the cost of living crisis and how it might impact consumer spending and business viability.

Caitlin Lowe, assistant manager of the St Helens Book Stop in Merseyside, told the Bookseller that as well as being concerned about customers spending money on books, there were also concerns “about the cost of running our shop owing to increasing energy prices”….

(5) ROBERT E. HOWARD WORKS RESCUED FROM OBSCURITY. The good folks of Goodman Games have two articles about some of Robert E. Howard’s lesser known works.

Bill Ward talks about Bran Mak Morn, last king of the Picts, in “Bran Mak Morn, The Doomed King”.

…Bran is, unquestionably, one of Howard’s major creations; representing not only the best of what Howard was capable of producing, but also exemplifying deeply personal themes that would inform the entirety of Howard’s writing life.

Bran Mak Morn emerges out of Howard’s fascination with the Picts – but not the Picts of modern, sober archaeology – rather the Picts of turn-of-the-century pseudo-scientific conjectural anthropology, the sort of thing that was available for a young Howard to read….

Ryan Harvey takes a look at Howard’s stories for the weird menace pulps: “A Black Wind Blowing: Robert E. Howard and The Weird Menace Horror Pulps”.

…The term “weird menace” was given to these pulps by later popular culture scholars. At the time, the magazines were referred to as “horror pulps.” This wasn’t an inclusive horror, but a specific subset with its own formula. The best way to understand what weird menace is about is to imagine a three part mixture: the action-speed of pulp detective stories; the mood and settings of Gothic novels; and the bloody excess of the Grand Guignol theater of Paris….

(6) PLAID INSPIRATION. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] I wouldn’t call Outlander a thriller, but Diana Gabaldon recounts how she wrote her time travel novel: “My First Thriller: Diana Gabaldon” at CrimeReads.

…“When I turned 35, I told myself I’d better get started writing. Mozart died at thirty-six.”

“Gradually, the voice in the back of my mind came up with a bunch of stuff,” she says. She wrote down ideas for a book. This would be her practice round, so she had no plans to show it to anyone. 

Inspired by a young man wearing a kilt on the BBC science fiction series “Doctor Who,” she decided to set her story in Scotland. Since she was a researcher and couldn’t afford an overseas trip to check on her setting, Diana figured the easiest type of novel for this first attempt would be historical fiction. She could find all the historical information she needed in books….

(7) IN THE MIDST OF SUCCESS. Matt Wallace pulls back the curtain on his career, and ponders about what’s to come. Thread starts here. (Via John Scalzi.)

(8) THE COLD WEIGHT LOSS EQUATIONS. [Item by Daniel Dern.] Gizmodo reports “DARPA Wants to Find a Drug That Makes You Impervious to Cold”. (Playlist, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside, But Who Cares”).

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is looking for a new way to get nice and cozy: The agency is funding research into drugs that could protect people from extreme cold. Should these efforts bear fruit, the drugs could have a variety of uses, from treating hypothermia patients to helping people better explore the Arctic—and, what is surely DARPA’s main interest, creating soldiers who aren’t fazed by freezing conditions.

… Szablowski and his team will use the money [a DARPA grant] to investigate a non-genetic treatment that can enhance our adaptation to cold temperatures via thermogenesis, or the bodily production of heat. There are two basic methods of thermogenesis in humans, with the most familiar being shivering. But the researchers are more interested in improving how our bodies burn off brown adipose tissue (BAT), or brown fat, to keep warm….

(9) MEMORY LANE.

1819 [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

So food I suspect is not what comes to you mind what you think of Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Most likely you think of the headless rider of the horse with his weapon in hand wrecking most unholy terror upon that small village.

But Irving’s narrator was a keen observer of life on that small village and,  to be rather honest about it, craved food in all its forms. If it was edible, he dreamed about consuming it with great rapture. 

In his devouring mind’s eye, he pictured to himself every roasting-pig running about with a pudding in his belly, and an apple in his mouth; the pigeons were snugly put to bed in a comfortable pie, and tucked in with a coverlet of crust; the geese were swimming in their own gravy; and the ducks pairing cozily in dishes, like snug married couples, with a decent competency of onion sauce. In the porkers he saw carved out the future sleek side of bacon, and juicy relishing ham; not a turkey but he beheld daintily trussed up, with its gizzard under its wing, and, peradventure, a necklace of savory sausages…

So let’s end this essay with my favorite passage…

Fain would I pause to dwell upon the world of charms that burst upon the enraptured gaze of my hero, as he entered the state parlor of Van Tassel’s mansion. Not those of the bevy of buxom lasses, with their luxurious display of red and white; but the ample charms of a genuine Dutch country tea-table, in the sumptuous time of autumn. 

Such heaped-up platters of cakes of various and almost indescribable kinds known only to experienced Dutch housewives! There was the doughty doughnut, the tenderer ‘oly koek,’ and the crisp and crumbling cruller; sweet cakes and short cakes, ginger cakes and honey cakes, and the whole family of cakes. 

And then there were apple pies and peach pies and pumpkin pies, besides slices of ham and smoked beef, and moreover delectable dishes of preserved plums and peaches and pears and quinces, not to mention broiled shad and roasted chickens, together with bowls of milk and cream, all mingled higgledy-piggledy, pretty much as I have enumerated them, with the motherly teapot sending up its clouds of vapor from the midst– Heaven bless the mark!

It was first published in The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent in 1819. “Rip Van Winkle” was also published first here.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 13, 1893 Clark Ashton Smith. One SFF critic deemed him part of “the big three of Weird Tales, with Robert E. Howard and H. P. Lovecraft.” This is while some readers found him to excessively morbid, as L. Sprague de Camp said of him in noting “nobody since Poe has so loved a well-rotted corpse.” If you’ve not read his work, Nightshade has collected it in The Collected Fantasies of Clark Ashton Smith, five volumes in total. They’re all available at the usual suspects. (Died 1961.)
  • Born January 13, 1933 Ron Goulart. First I must acknowledge that he was very prolific, and uses many pseudonyms, to wit: Kenneth Robeson, Con Steffanson, Chad Calhoun, R.T. Edwards, Ian R. Jamieson, Josephine Kains, Jillian Kearny, Howard Lee, Zeke Masters, Frank S. Shawn, and Joseph Silva. (Wow!) You did see the Doc Savage one in there, didn’t you? I’m reasonably sure that I’ve read a lot of his fiction including the Flash Gordon series, his Avenger series, maybe a bit of the Vampirella novels, the Incredible Hulk definitely, not the Groucho Marx series though it sounds fun, and, well, damn he was prolific. So what have you have read by him that you like? (Died 2022.)
  • Born January 13, 1938 Daevid Allan (aka Divided Alien, Dingo Virgin, Bert Camembert, etc.). Co-founder of the British band Soft Machine (named for the William Burroughs SF novel), and the Anglo-French psychedelic band Gong. With Gong, he released the Radio Gnome trilogy (1973-74), a surreal science-fantasy epic musical story featuring pothead pixies in flying teapots, erotic witches, and the Compagnie d’Opera Invisible de Thibet. (Died 2015.) (Xtifr)
  • Born January 13, 1938 Charlie Brill, 85. His best-remembered role, well at least among us, is as the Klingon spy Arne Darvin in “The Trouble with Tribbles”. And yes he’ll show in the DS9 episode, “Trials and Tribble-ations”, that repurposed this episode to great effect. (It was nominated for a Hugo at LoneStarCon 2.) He was the voice of Grimmy in the animated Mother Goose and Grimm series, as well having one-offs in They Came from Outer SpaceThe Munsters TodaySlidersThe Incredible HulkWonder Woman and Super Train. Not even genre adjacent but he was a recurring performer on Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In.
  • Born January 13, 1945 Joy Chant, 78. Chant is an interesting case as she only wrote for a short period between 1970 and 1983 but she produced the brilliant House of Kendreth trilogy, consisting of Red Moon and Black MountainThe Grey Mane of Morning and When Voiha Wakes.  Her other main work, and it is without doubt absolutely amazing as well, is The High Kings, illustrated lavishly by George Sharp and designed by David Larkin with editing by Ian and Betty Ballantine. It is intended as a reference work on the Arthurian legends and the Matter of Britain with her stellar retellings of the legends.  I’ve got one reference to her writing Fantasy and Allegory in Literature for Young Readers but no cites for it elsewhere. Has anyone read it?
  • Born January 13, 1947 Peter Elson. Illustrator whose life was far too short as he died of a heart attack. If you were reading SF between the early seventies and the late eighties, it’s likely that you saw his astonishing artwork. I found covers for the Sphere edition of Asimov’s Pebble in the Sky, a Mayflower edition of Leiber’s Swords Against Death and a Methuen edition in Canada on Zelazny’s To Die in Italbar, which are but a few of the several hundred covers he did. (Died 1998.)
  • Born January 13, 1961 Wayne Coyne, 62. Founder and frontman of the neo-psychedelic band The Flaming Lips which frequently incorporates science-fictional elements in their songs and albums, perhaps most prominently with their 2002 hit album Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots. Coyne also wrote and directed the low-budget 2008 SF movie, Christmas on Mars, which starred members of the Lips and friends, including actors Adam Goldberg and Fred Armisen. (Xtifr)

(11) IN PLAIN SIGHT. “Title Search: Can You Find the 21 Fantasy Books Hidden in This Story?” is the challenge posed on the New York Times’ “Books” page. It’s really not that hard, but you may find it fun to work on.  And the answers appear at the end of the puzzle story.

If you like an adventure with your quest to discover books, try this month’s Title Search challenge, which intentionally hides the names of 21 classic and popular fantasy novels (and graphic novels) within the fictional text passage below.…

(12) MATCHING SCI- WITH -FI. Nancy Kress and Robert Lanza interview each other about their collaboration on the novel Observer: “A Scientist And Sci-Fi Author On Imagining The Future And Breaking The Rules” at CrimeReads.

Scientist Robert Lanza and science fiction author Nancy Kress have co-written a new thriller grounded in deep scientific principles and guided by the writers’ shared passion for technology and biocentrism. Read a conversation between Lanza and Kress below. 

Kress: Robert, you’re a pioneer in stem cell research and in addition to writing dozens of textbooks related to the topic, you’ve written three works of nonfiction on biocentrism, the central concept in our novel, OBSERVER. Why now a novel?

Lanza: I wanted to introduce the ideas of biocentrism ─ where life is the basis of the universe ─ to a broader audience through storytelling to bring to life the science behind the astounding fact that time, space, and reality itself, all ultimately depend upon us, the observer.

(13) LATEST PLAGUE. “Review: ‘The Last of Us’ Is a Zombie Thriller About Single Parenting” says the New York Times’ James Poniewozik.

…The series kicks off in Standard Apocalypse-Onset Mode. Joel (Pedro Pascal), a construction contractor in Texas, starts his birthday in 2003 eating breakfast with his family and ends it amid the chaos of civilization’s collapse. The intense but bloated 81-minute pilot runs up a high body count, making clear that there is minimal plot armor to go around here.

Twenty years later, in 2023, we find Joel in the military-occupied ruins of Boston, a grim, grizzled survivor. Battling fungi does not make one a fun guy. With his black-marketeering partner, Tess (Anna Torv), he lands a job escorting Ellie (Bella Ramsey), a 14-year-old who is immune to zombie bites, on a risky journey that could lead to a cure.

Ellie may or may not be the savior of humanity, but she certainly rescues “The Last of Us” from apocalyptic mope. In “Game of Thrones” (in which Pascal also did time), Ramsey was memorable as Lady Lyanna Mormont, the fearsome child leader of a northern fief. Here she’s all foulmouthed verve, her adolescent insolence turbocharged by the liberation of living after the end of the world. Her fighting spirit is, well, infectious….

(14) ROBO-UMP. Robots have made it to AAA baseball reports The Comeback in “MLB world react to massive umpire news”.

While fans hoping to see robot umpires during the upcoming 2023 Major League Baseball season will still have to wait, they also won’t have to look too far to find them. Robot umpires will reportedly be implemented in all 30 Triple-A stadiums during the 2023 season.

Buster Olney of ESPN reported on Thursday that “The electronic strike zone will be used in all 30 Class AAA parks in 2023.”… 

(15) NO LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION! “Wow! NASA-Funded ShadowCam Captures Dark Side Of The Moon In Stunning Detail” at Hot Hardware.

The first image from ShadowCam reveals the permanently shadowed wall and floor of Shackleton crater in incredible, never before seen detail. NASA-funded ShadowCam is one of six instruments onboard the Korean Aerospace Research Institute’s Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter.

The poles of the Moon are in a perpetual state of dawn to dusk, making it difficult to gather images of the depressions in the dark locations. KPLO has six instruments onboard, one of which is the NASA-funded ShadowCam. The instrument is the younger sibling of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC), Narrow Angle Camera (NAC). LROC has been able to image nearly all of the Moon’s surface, except within permanently shadowed regions (PSRs). ShadowCam will add to our knowledge of the Moon by being able to capture images within those PSRs near the poles….

(16) POETRY IN MOTION. Gizmodo makes the latest science news sound dramatic: “Astronomers Discover Two Invisible Stars Spinning Around Each Other at Breakneck Speed”.

Researchers have found an extreme binary system that features two dwarf stars that are so cool, they don’t emit visible light. And they’re so close together that they take less than one Earth day to orbit around each other.

The system is called LP 413-53AB, and it was identified by researchers from Northwestern University and the University of California San Diego. The two dwarf stars are in a class known as ‘ultracool’—their temperatures are so low that they emit mostly infrared light, rendering them invisible to our eyes (but thankfully not our telescopes). Chih-Chun “Dino” Hsu, an astrophysicist at Northwestern University, led the study and presented the findings at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Seattle this week….

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In the short film “Uprising!” from DUST, “Humanity is being tea-bagged, kill-shotted, and yo-mama-joked out of existence by robots who think they’re teenage gamers.” But kindess will out!

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

Pixel Scroll 12/16/22 I Think There Is A World Market For About Five Pixel Scrolls

(1) BAD NEWS FOR SFF MAGAZINES. [Item by rcade.] Neil Clarke posted on Mastodon that Amazon has informed Clarkesworld that it is ending Kindle Subscriptions in 2023 and trying to get magazines to move to Kindle Unlimited:

In an absolutely devastating announcement (right before the holidays) Amazon has informed us that they are ending their Kindle Subscription program in 2023 and trying to get magazines to switch to Kindle Unlimited. Asking for more details, but this is bad. Magazine subscriptions are guaranteed revenue from each subscriber. KU is not like that. It will effectively cancel thousands of subscriptions since there’s no migration path.

It’s hard to even say how much we’d get from a single subscriber. This completely removes our ability to control our price if we want to be in the dominant ebook ecosystem.
I’ve scheduled an appointment to talk with Amazon later this afternoon. Have many questions. Fellow editors of mags on Amazon: feel free to DM/email me. We should be talking.

(2) LOTS OF BUZZ. Cora Buhlert returns with a new “Masters-of-the-Universe-Piece Theatre: ‘Honeypot’”.

This story is called “Honeypot” and the star is not He-Man for once, but another member of the Masters of the Universe (which was originally just the name of the toyline, until the 2002 cartoon made it the name of the heroic warrior team, something most subsequent versions kept), namely Buzz-Off.

(3) AN INTERVIEW WITH MATT RUFF. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] An interview with Matt Ruff by Moid over at Media Death Cult. Despite discouragement Matt Ruff has always been a writer, it’s what he was born to do. His novel Lovecraft Country was adapted into a HBO TV show.

Matt Ruff, as he says at the start of the interview, is largely unknown in Great Britain, unlike his native US, but originally was most popular in Germany. I certainly never heard of him (though was aware of the show Lovecraft Country) so I did a word search on SF2 Concatenation’s news section on the basis that the majority of the specialist genre imprints – and a few ancillary ones – send their catalogues for their titles to be added to its news pages’ forthcoming books sections. I only found the novel Lovecraft Country listed in awards news as well as the book listings. It is published over here by Picador. Picador is a respected imprint in the UK but not especially noted for having an SF/F focus (despite having published some very worthy SF/F – they have a broader ‘literary’ camp). Picador’s PR folk don’t normally proactively reach out to us, though they are good at responding when we hear of relevant news and get in touch with them. Picador belongs to the Macmillan group and Matt Ruff might want to consider moving to Macmillan’s Tor (UK) if he wants more attention from Britain’s SF/F reading community…? (Just saying.) (Don’t know who publishes him in the US.)

(4) EXCELSIOR AWARD NOMINEES. Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden are shortlisted for Excelsior Awards for Hellboy: The Bones of Giants, and Neil Gaiman and Colleen Doran are shortlisted for Chivalry, both published by Dark Horse Comics. “Excelsior Award Red 2023”.

The Excelsior Awards are chosen by students in over 200 schools in the UK. The Excelsior Award is split up into four different shortlists: Access the entire range of Excelsior Award shortlists 2023 at the link.

  • Excelsior Award White, for students aged 9 and over (Key Stage 2)
  • Excelsior Award Blue, for students aged 11 and over (Key Stage 3)
  • Excelsior Award Red, for students aged 14 and over (Key Stage 4)
  • Excelsior Award Black, for students aged 16 and over (Sixth Form)

Each shortlist consists of five books (graphic novels and/or manga) that will cost no more than £65. 

(5) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites listeners to dive into dim sum with Randee Dawn in episode 187 of his Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Randee Dawn

Randee Dawn’s debut novel, the humorous pop culture fantasy Tune in Tomorrow, was released in August by Rebellion Publishing. She’s a former editor at The Hollywood Reporter and Soap Opera Digest, and these days covers show business for VarietyThe Los Angeles TimesEmmy Magazine, and Today.com. Her short fiction has appeared in numerous anthologies and online publications such as Stories We Tell After MidnightEven in the GraveAnother World: Stories of Portal Fantasy, and more.

She co-edited the anthology Across the Universe: Tales of Alternative Beatles. Her love of all things Law & Order led her to appear in one episode and later co-author The Law & Order: SVU Unofficial Companion. Once a month she hosts Rooftop Readings at Ample Hills Creamery in Brooklyn.

We discussed the way her soap opera and gaming backgrounds led to the creation of her fantasy debut novel Tune in Tomorrow, what made her decide it was time for her to write funny, why her first instinct is always to turn her ideas into novels rather than short stories, how Law & Order fan fiction conquered her fears of showing her writing to others (and eventually led to her appearing as extra on the franchise), the reason she doesn’t read her reviews, and much more.

(6) SIMULTANEOUS TIMES. Space Cowboy Books’ Simultaneous Times podcast episode 58 features these stories:

“The Hand, The Face” by Megan Engelhardt
music by Fall Precauxions

“Cave Art” by Xauri’EL Zwaan
music by Phog Masheeen

Find the podcast here.

(6) RECOMMENDED. “Avatar: On The Cutting Edge” – movie critic Leonard Maltin is very positive about the sequel.

I surrender. It’s easy to poke holes in James Cameron’s films because of awkward dialogue or glib characterizations or his propensity for staging climaxes to his climaxes. But I was completely taken in by Avatar: The Way of Water and overwhelmed by its fluid, kinetic action scenes, eye-popping production design and propulsive storytelling….

(7) MEMORY LANE.

1991 [By Cat Eldridge.] Eeyore, Piglet, Winnie the Pooh and the Hunny Pot, Newton Free Library, Newton, Massachusetts 

You didn’t think we’d pass this up, did you? It’s a most stellar group of statues of Eeyore, Piglet, Winnie the Pooh and the Hunny Pot at the Newton Free Library in Newton, Massachusetts.

They were sculpted by Nancy Schön who is best known for the  “Make Way for Ducklings” sculpture in the Boston Public Garden (which has had two stolen since it was first installed — bad people! Yes, she sculpted new ducklings to replace them.)

All are in honor of young children who have departed us. Piglet was commissioned by a woman who wanted us to celebrate the quite short life of her much-loved brother. She thought her brother was very much just like Piglet. He was timid, yet brave and he was quite able to conquer his fears, according to her, facing the reality of dying. 

Nancy notes of Pooh and the Hunny Pot that, “Sarah died on February 14, 2001. Her parents asked me to design a sculpture of Winnie-the-Pooh in her memory. I added a hunny pot for children to sit on, possibly to cheer Eeyore up. The sculpture was installed on May 12, 2002 with a plaque reading “For The Children of Newton From Sarah Oliver”.

Eyeore was the original statue that she did and was there alone for almost a decade as he was cast in bronze as they all were in 1991, and Pooh and the Hunny Pot in 2002. Piglet would join them eleven years later.

These are based the original illustrations in the A. A. Milne’s books which were illustrated by E. H. Shepard. They are closer in appearance to stuffed animals than the awful Disney version of these characters. For one, Pooh doesn’t have a shirt in the statue. (And of course those were Disney copyright.) 

Here they are with sculptor Nancy.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 16, 1917 Arthur C. Clarke. When I was resident in Sri Lanka courtesy of Uncle Sam in the early Eighties, nearly every American ex-pat I ran into was reading The Fountains of Paradise. The tea plantations he described therein are very awesome.  I never saw him but he was well known among the small British community there and I passed by his residence one day. I’ll admit that I’ve not read that much by him — Childhood’s EndRendezvous with Rama  and that novel are the only long form works by him I’ve read. I’ve read a lot of short fiction including of course Tales from The White Hart which I’ve read over and over. I’m certain I’ve read The Nine Billion Names of God collection as well. And I’ve seen 2001 myriad times but I’ve never seen the sequel. (Died 2008.)
  • Born December 16, 1927 Randall Garrett. Ahhh, Lord Darcy. When writing this up, I was gobsmacked to discover that he’d written only one such novel, Too Many Magicians, as I clearly remembered reading reading more than that number. Huh. That and two collections, Murder and Magic and Lord Darcy Investigates, is all there is of this brilliant series. Glen Cook’s Garrett P.I. is named in honor of Garrett.  I’ll admit I’ve not read anything else by him, so what else have y’all read? (Died 1987.)
  • Born December 16, 1928 Philip K. Dick. Dick has always been a difficult one for me to get a feel for. Mind you Blade Runner is my major touchstone for him but I’ve read the source material as well, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, and Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said which won a John W. Campbell Memorial Award, and I’ve read a lot of the shorter works, so I’d say that saying he’s a challenging writer is a Good Thing. I was surprised his only Hugo win for his fiction was for The Man in The High Castle at Discon though Blade Runner would pick up one at ConStellation.  (Died 1982.)
  • Born December 16, 1927 Peter Dickinson. Author who was married from 1991 to his death to Robin McKinley. He had a number of truly great works, both genre and not genre, including EvaThe Tears of the Salamander and The Flight of Dragons. His James Pibble upper class British mystery series are quite excellent as well. (Died 2015.)
  • Born December 16, 1957 — Mel Odom, 65. An author deep into mining franchise universes with work done into the BuffyverseOutlandersTime PoliceRogue Angel (which I’ve listen to a lot as GraphicAudio as produced them as most excellent audioworks) and weirder stuff such as the Left Behind Universe and Tom Clancy’s Net Force Explorers, both I think game tie-ins. 
  • Born December 16, 1961 — Jon Tenney, 61. He’s best known as Special Agent Fritz Howard on The Closer and continued in its spinoff Major Crimes, but he does have genre creds. He played Jimmy Wells in The Phantom, Martin Jordon in Green Lantern, and Lt. Ching in two episodes in Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. He also showed up on Tales from the Crypt, Outer Limits and neXt
  • Born December 16, 1967 — Miranda Otto, 55. She was Éowyn in the second and third installments of Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings film franchise. (I stopped watching after The Fellowship of The Rings.) She‘s Zelda Spellman in Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, and Mary Ann Davis in Spielberg’s version of The War of The Worlds. She also played Wueen Lenore inI, Frankenstein which had an amazing cast even if the tomatometer at Rotten Tomatoes gives it a five percent rating meaning the critics really didn’t like it.

(9) KGB. Ellen Datlow has posted her photos from the December 14, 2022 gathering of the Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series where Richard Kadrey and Cassandra Khaw each read sections of the forthcoming collaborative novel The Dead Take the A Train coming out from Nightfire.

(10) YIPPIE-AI-OH. David D. Levine has been making this sound pretty interesting – “Die Hard the Musical Parody” which will be a Funhouse Lounge streaming event on Christmas weekend.

In 2017, Funhouse Lounge presented its first original work of its kind, Die Hard the Musical Parody. It was a live stage version of the 1988 Willis/Rickman action classic, re-imagined as a musical. During its 3-year sold out run, it became a holiday tradition for many who came to see it.

We are happy to say it has returned this year, live on stage, for another sold-out run. However, we understand that given the current situation, many of you may not be comfortable gathering to see it. Or, you waited too long and didn’t get tickets. Or you don’t live nearby, but still like stuff that kicks ass. Or maybe you want to enjoy it with friends and family on that big screen TV at home. If any of these describe you, we have what you need.

We will have a recording of this year’s performance and it will be available to view streaming Christmas weekend. Showtimes are December 24th, 25th and 26th,

So, treat yourself to a present you deserve after another long hard year. Gather your family around the TV. Make your favorite hot drink, remembering that the drunker you are the funnier we are.

Levine also got a kind of onstage credit for donating to the production.

(11) TIME VS. GRAVITY. “Time rules everything around you. It’s also an illusion” explains NPR.

… The best-known force that stretches time is gravity. The more gravity somebody experiences, the slower time passes for them when compared to someone in a lower gravitational field.

The effect is miniscule compared to a human lifespan, but it is real and measurable. Boulder, Colo. is a mile above sea level. That means the gravitational field is slightly weaker, and time ticks by a little faster.

But modern technology can’t deal with flowy time like this. As a result, the timekeepers at Boulder and elsewhere make corrections to ensure these different flows of time look like they’re ticking in lock-step….

(12) ALSO SPRACH MATTEL. The Barbie teaser trailer is a hilarious take on 2001: A Space Odyssey. Margot Robbie is Barbie, Ryan Gosling is Ken in the new film.

(13) TANGLED UP IN BLUE. Perhaps the sequel to the Avatar skit we ran yesterday from The Late Late Show With James Corden: “Zoe Saldaña Is Crazy About Anything Blue”.

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

Pixel Scroll 11/30/22 Mr. Balrog, I Move We Adjourn Combat Sine Die

(1) FUND FOR PETER DAVID. A GoFundMe has been started on behalf of writer Peter David, who has many health problems and faces mounting bills. “Peter David Fund”.

I’m fundraising for author Peter David and his family. He’s had some compounded health problems, and the bills are piling up! On top of kidney failure, and the steep medical bills incurred from that, he just had another series of strokes AND a mild heart attack.  

As we wish him a swift recovery, and send our love and support to his wife Kathleen and his family, let’s also pitch in and help with their medical bills and living expenses. 

Please give what you can to relieve some of the immense stress that this family is going through right now.  

On behalf of Peter, Kathleen, and the whole family, thank you!

The appeal had brought in $51,725 from 1100+ donors at the time this was written.

(2) ARISIA NAMES NEW CHAIR. Melissa Kaplan is the new acting con chair of Arisia 2023. She has written a statement about her conrunning background and why she volunteers to do this.

The past few months have been among the most tumultuous in Arisia’s long history. After the loss of our conchair Jodie Lawhorne, two people stepped up to complete his work. In late October we learned about a serious incident involving one of our volunteers that was reported but never written down many years ago. The individual was put through our current more robust incident response protocol and was subsequently banned from all future participation in Arisia. We also learned that the acting con chairs had had knowledge of this and despite that, had consulted with this individual about volunteering for Arisia 2023. Between that information, and increasing levels of unrelated personal stress on those acting con chairs, it was determined that it was best for all parties for them to step down. Where that left us was 7 weeks out from a convention with no one in charge. I reached out to the e-board and offered to fill in the gap.

So hi, my name is Melissa Kaplan and I’ll be your acting con chair for the next 6.5 weeks….

(3) WILLIS X 2. Dave Langford and Rob Hansen have assembled TAWF Times Two: The 1962 Trip Reports by Walt and Madeleine Willis into a book and made it available in multiple formats at the Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund’s website, where they hope you’ll make a little donation to the fund if you please.

The Tenth Anniversary Willis Fund (TAWF) was organized to bring Walt Willis – this time with his wife Madeleine – to the 1962 Chicago Worldcon, ten years after the fan initiative that brought Walt alone to the 1952 Worldcon also held in Chicago. Both wrote trip reports: Walt’s was serialized in various fanzines and eventually collected as Twice Upon a Time in the monumental Warhoon #28 (1980) edited by Richard Bergeron. Madeleine’s instalments of The DisTAWF Side appeared in The SpeleoBem edited by Bruce Pelz, and have never until now been collected.

For this ebook, Rob Hansen has digitized Madeleine’s chapters, expanded them with comments and corrections from others (plus an unpublished letter from Walt and another from Madeleine) and written a new Foreword covering both reports. David Langford had the easier task of extracting Twice Upon a Time from Warhoon #28, unscrambling dates, correcting typos and restoring a fragment of lost text. Scans of all the original fanzine appearances at Fanac.org were a great help to both of us.

Released as an Ansible Editions ebook for the TAFF site on 1 December 2022. Cover photo of the Willises in 1957 from the collection of Norman Shorrock, probably taken by Peter West. Over 87,000 words.

(4) ANOTHER OPENING OF ANOTHER SHOW. “The Museum of Broadway Is Open. Here Are 10 Highlights.” The New York Times gives reasons to visit when you’re in town.

When a Broadway show closes, the next stop for the hundreds of costumes, setpieces and props is often … the dumpster.

“The producers often stop paying rent in a storage unit somewhere, which is heartbreaking,” said Julie Boardman, one of the founders of the Museum of Broadway, which opened in Times Square this month.

Boardman, 40, a Broadway producer whose shows include “Funny Girl” and “Company,” and Diane Nicoletti, the founder of a marketing agency, are looking to reroute those items to their museum, a dream five years in the making.

“We see it as an experiential, interactive museum that tells the story of Broadway through costumes, props and artifacts,” Nicoletti, 40, said of the four-floor, 26,000-square-foot space on West 45th Street, next to the Lyceum Theater….

‘Phantom of the Opera’ Chandelier Installation

Each of the 13,917 glistening crystals in this piece, which were fashioned by the German artist Ulli Böhmelmann into hanging strands, is meant to represent one performance the Broadway production of “The Phantom of the Opera” will have played from its opening on Jan. 26, 1988, through its closing night performance. Though the final show was originally set for Feb. 18, 2023, the production announced Tuesday that it had been pushed to April 16 amid strong ticket sales (Böhmelmann plans to add the necessary crystals).

‘Avenue Q’ Puppets

In the early days of the 2003 Broadway production of the puppet-filled musical comedy “Avenue Q,” the show’s low budget meant the puppeteers had to put their charges through quick changes. The show initially had only three Princeton puppets — but he had eight costumes — meaning the puppets took a beating from changing clothes multiple times eight shows a week. “Eventually, they had a puppet for every costume,” McDonald said.

Gershwin Theater Set Model

This scale model, which is just over five feet wide, was designed by Edward Pierce, the associate scenic designer of the original Broadway production of “Wicked,” and took four people seven weeks to build. It includes more than 300 individual characters — and another 300 seated audience members in the auditorium. (See if you can find the Easter egg: a small model of the set model, with the designers — who look like the actual designers — showing the director a future design for “Wicked.”)

Wicked set model

(5) THE BEGINNING. In “Back to Back and Belly to Belly and Other Epiphanies on Speculative Poetry”, Akua Lezli Hope shows where it all comes from.

The world’s first literature is speculative poetry.

We told each other stories and encoded them in the form of verse. The earliest written literature is poetry – The Story of Gilgamesh, The Iliad and Odyssey, The Ramayana and Mahabharata, Beowulf and other npoem myths, verse histories and tellings in cultures across and around the world.

I had an epiphany about speculative poetry.

It was there from the start, in my womb and my heart….

(6) PROBABLY AN ANNIVERSARY. “Hitchhiker’s at 42” and 3 Quarks Daily is celebrating. Because something to do with Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy happened forty-two years ago. Didn’t it?

… To document the broader cultural impact of Hitchhiker’s, we’ve asked a number of public figures in science, the arts, the humanities, and government to reflect on how the book changed their own understanding of life, the universe, and everything.

The Hitchhiker series taught me to laugh at the absurd, to mock self-proclaimed genius, to put off searching for the meaning of life in favor of play, and to oppose time travel on the ground that proper tense usage would become too difficult. It also prepared me to understand that some Albany politicians are like Vogons, insofar as neither are above corruption in the same way that the ocean is not above the sky. And it made 42 my favorite number.” –Preet Bharara, former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York and host of Stay Tuned and Doing Justice…

(7) FREE READ. Congratulations to Cora Buhlert, who has a new short story “Legacy of Steel” in the November 2022 issue of Swords and Sorcery Magazine. The other stories in the issue are “Sun in Shadow” by Sandra Unerman and “You Stand Before the Black Tower” by Nathaniel Webb.

(8)  MORE FROM THE MASTERS. Cora Buhlert also has posted a new Masters of the Universe photo story on her blog: “Masters-of-the-Universe-Piece Theatre: ‘Family’”.

…I have had some new arrivals recently, including at long last King Randor, which opens up a lot of possibilities for stories involving the royal family of Eternia.

One thing that is remarkably consistent over all versions of Masters of the Universe from the early mini-comics via the Filmation cartoon of the 1980s, the 2002 cartoon, the various comics, Masters of the Universe: Revelation all the way to the Netflix CGI show is that Prince Adam has a strained relationship with his father King Randor. Cause Randor always finds something to criticise about his son and heir. Adam is too lazy, too irresponsible, not princely enough, not interested enough in affairs of state, not heroic enough, too foolhardy and he also missed dinner or an official reception, because he was off saving Eternia….

(9) NO MERE METAPHOR. Douglas Kearney holds forth “On the Similarities Between Writing and Turning Oneself Into a Werewolf” at Literary Hub.

…While stretching my hands into claws, I hunt my memory. Have I ever felt talons grow from my fingertips? Do I know the twinge of lupine hair breaking my burning, blossoming skin? How does the paradigm of meaning-making shift when I find I can smell more keenly than I can see? In all these years, have I come closer to knowing?

You might suggest I use writing to account for these questions. Documenting my thoughts about them in a field journal—“May 26: I think I smelled a pig at one mile today.” Nope. I’ve no werewolf archive. There are a few poems, sure; yet they skin the lycanthrope to cover and do some other thing. Those poems, they are not telling you what I am telling you: that I have meant to be a werewolf, and that this has been, I’m afraid, a quiet, lifelong ambition, a discipline I’ve maintained longer and to less purpose, it would seem, than nearly all else….

(10) MEMORY LANE.

1998 [By Cat Eldridge.] Hobbit holes (New Zealand)

Stop me before this gets novella length!

In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort. — The Hobbit

Only one of the movie sets in New Zealand survives and charmingly enough it’s the village where the hobbits resided. It was used for both trilogies and quite unsurprisingly is now a place with guided tours being offered every day. 

Jackson spotted it during a search by air for suitable locations using one of his airplanes, or so the story is now told, and thought it looked like a slice of England. Furthermore Alan Lee commented to him that the location’s terrain “looked as though Hobbits had already begun excavations” there. 

It became Hobbiton and the Shire with the facades of quite a few hobbit holes and associated gardens, a double arch bridge, hedges, and a mill. They erected an immense oak above Bag End that had been growing nearby and which was cut down and recreated in fibreglass on site complete with artificial leaves.

When I mean facades, I really mean just that. It’s not possible to go inside the as there is nothing inside them, just retaining walls and beyond that dirt. I’m guessing that the site is going to need expensive ongoing maintenance if it is going to survive long term. 

Bag End is the exception as they designed it so a little bit of interior has been designed to seen and the door will open so you can peek in. 

About those hobbit holes. No, the interior scenes for Bag End weren’t not shot here. (Of course they’d make lousy film sets, wouldn’t they? You can’t get cameras in there.) The interior of Bag End was shot in a studio in Wellington.  Ok, there are actually two Bag Ends as Ian McKelllen explains on his charming look at these:

Hobbits must appear smaller than the other characters in the film. When I, as Gandalf, meet Bilbo or Frodo at home, I bump my head on the rafters. (Tolkien didn’t think to mention it!) So there is a small Bag End set with small props to match. 

As Ian Holm and Elijah Wood would be too big within it, they have “scale doubles” who are of a matching size with the scenery and its miniature furniture. In the small set Bilbo and Frodo are played by Kiran Shah (Legend) who is in hobbit proportion to my Gandalf.

And of course there has to be a big Bag End, where the scale is human-sized and all the objects of the small set are duplicated but bigger. There the “hero actors” can play the hobbits but the camera expects a gigantic Gandalf and gets him in Paul Webster (a 7’4″ Wellingtonian) who substitutes for me.

So we’ve got a village full of hobbit hole facades that all look very charming as you can see here and you’ve got the rather amazing effect of creating the illusion of a hobbit hole interior that we can all think is real. I certainly did when I watched the first Hobbit film. I may not have cared for the film itself, but oh my the scenery and the depiction of Bag End was stellar! 

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 30, 1835 Mark Twain. It’s been decades since I read it but I still know I loved A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. His other genre work is The Mysterious Stranger in which Satan might be visiting us went unpublished in his lifetime and it’s only relatively recently published with the University of California Press editions of all his completed and uncompleted versions in one volume that a reader can see what he intended. (Died 1910.)
  • Born November 30, 1893 E. Everett Evans. Writer, Editor, Conrunner, and Member of First Fandom who started out with fan writing, but eventually became a published genre author as well. He helped to found the National Fantasy Fan Federation (N3F) and served as its president and editor of its publication. Food for Demons was a chapbook compilation of his fantasy tales, though he was generally not considered to be a good fiction writer. Fandom’s Big Heart Award, which was founded by Forrest J Ackerman in 1959, was named for him for its first 40 years. In 2018, Bob Tucker’s fanzine Le Zombie, of which he had co-edited two issues, won a Retro Hugo Award. (Died 1958.) (JJ)
  • Born November 30, 1906 John Dickson Carr. Author of the Gideon Fell detective stories, some of which were decidedly genre adjacent and The Lost Gallows is apparently genre. The Burning Court with Fell is on this list as are his vampire mythos backstoried novels, Three Coffins and He Who Whispers. And I really should note his Sir Henry Merrivale character has at one genre outing in Reader is Warned. The usual suspects have a more than decent stock of his offerings. (Died 1977.)
  • Born November 30, 1950 Chris Claremont, 72. Writer in the comic realm. Best known for his astounding twenty year run on the Uncanny X-Men starting in 1976. During his tenure at Marvel, he co-created at least forty characters. Looking at his bibliography, I see that he did Sovereign Seven as a creator own series with DC publishing it.  And then there’s the matter of Lucas providing the notes for The Chronicles of the Shadow War trilogy to follow the Willow film and then contracting our writer to make them exist.  Anyone ever encountered these?
  • Born November 30, 1952 Debra Doyle. Writer, Filker, and Fan. Her novel Knight’s Wyrd, co-written with her husband and collaborator James D. Macdonald, won a Mythopoeic Award for Children’s Literature. Most of their co-written works are fantasy, but their Mageworlds series also crosses into space opera territory. As filker Malkin Grey, she and Pergyn Wyndryder won a Pegasus Award for Best Historical Song. She was an instructor at the Viable Paradise Writer’s Workshop, and has been Guest of Honor at several conventions. (Died 2020.) (JJ)
  • Born November 30, 1955 Kevin Conroy. Frell, another great one lost too soon. Without doubt, best known for voicing Batman on Batman: The Animated Series and many other DCU series.  On Justice League Action, the other characters often noting his stoic personality.  I’ve not seen it, but on Batwoman, he plays Bruce Wayne in the “Crisis on Infinite Earths: Part Two” episode.  (Died 2022.)
  • Born November 30, 1952 Jill Eastlake, 70. IT Manager, Costumer, Conrunner, and Fan who is known for her elaborate and fantastical costume designs; her costume group won “Best in Show” at the 2004 Worldcon.  A member of fandom for more than 50 years, she belonged to her high school’s SF club, then became an early member of NESFA, the Boston-area fan club, and served as its president for 4 years. She has served on the committees for numerous Worldcons and regional conventions, co-chaired a Costume-Con, and chaired two Boskones. She was the Hugo Award ceremony coordinator for the 1992 Worldcon, and has run the Masquerade for numerous conventions. Her extensive contributions were honored when she was named a Fellow of NESFA in 1976, and in 2011 the International Costumer’s Guild presented her with their Lifetime Achievement Award. She and her fan husband Don (who is irrationally fond of running WSFS Business Meetings) were Fan Guests of Honor at Rivercon.
  • Born November 30, 1957 Martin Morse Wooster. He discovered fandom in 1974 when he heard about “a big sci-fi con” in downtown Washington where admission was $10 at the door.  He had ten bucks, and so attended Discon II at 16.  A year later, he discovered fanzines through Don Miller, and discovered he liked writing book reviews.  He started contributing to File 770 in 1978 and continued for the rest of his life. He was one of twelve founders of the Potomac River Science Fiction Society, which split from the Washington Science Fiction Association in 1975, and regularly attends PRSFS meetings to discuss books. Lost his life to a hit-and-run driver on November 12. (Died 2022.) (JJ)

(12) THERE’S SOMETHING YOU DON’T SEE EVERY DAY, EDGAR. “Passenger Jet Flies Over Launchpad Right as SpaceX Rocket Takes Off” reports Futurism.

Passengers on board a United Airlines commercial jet flying over Florida’s Cape Canaveral were able to spot an amazingly rare sight in the distance: a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifting off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, far below….

(13) HITCHCOCKIAN HORROR. “’Lost in Space’ star Bill Mumy shares ‘scary’ moment with Hitchcock, claims ‘he’s the monster of the story’” at Yahoo!  I don’t want to spoil the anecdote with an excerpt, however, you film history buffs will be interested.

Bill Mumy has worked with some of the most celebrated filmmakers in Hollywood history – but not all of his experiences were out of this world.

The former child star, who made his mark in the ‘60s series “Lost in Space,” has recently written a memoir titled “Danger, Will Robinson: The Full Mumy.” In it, he details his rise to stardom and the numerous encounters he had with TV and film icons along the way – including Alfred Hitchcock.

Mumy worked with the filmmaker in the TV series “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” for the episode “Bang! You’re Dead!”. It was filmed in the summer of 1961 when Mumy was 7 years old….

(14) LEADER OF THE PACK. “Toxoplasma-Infected Wolves More Likely to Lead Packs, Study Finds”The Scientist has details.

Wolves infected with the parasite Toxoplasma gondii are far more likely to become pack leaders than uninfected wolves and are also more likely to disperse from the pack they’re born into, a study published November 24 in Communications Biology reports. The finding points to a possible connection between the infamous parasite and wolf population health.

Toxoplasma gondii (T. gondii) is a “mind control” parasite that can infect any warm-blooded animal, the paper states. The protozoan can only reproduce sexually in the guts of cats, and often spreads through contact with infected feline feces. Infection with T. gondii causes hosts to accrue permanent brain cysts and also induces toxoplasmosis, a disease that can embolden some host species, causing infected animals to seek out more situations in which they can transmit the parasite. Mice infected with T. gondii lose their fear of cat urine, for example, making them more likely to be killed and eaten by a cat, enabling the parasite to reproduce once again…

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Snopes has a surprising answer to the question “Was a Harrison Ford Cameo Cut from ‘E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial’?” Well, you’re not surprised now – it wouldn’t be worth linking to if the answer was “No”, would it?

…The film, which was released in 1982, was written by Melissa Matheson, whom Ford was dating at the time. During a 2012 reunion for the film, actor Henry Thomas, who played the main character, Elliott, told Entertainment Weekly that he was just excited at the prospect of meeting Ford.

“When I met Steven, the first thing out of my mouth was I think, ‘I love Raiders of the Lost Ark,’ and my hero was Harrison Ford,” Thomas said. “I basically was just excited to meet Steven in hopes that I would meet Harrison.”

Ford eventually agreed to shoot a cameo scene with Thomas, playing an uptight school principal who would scold Elliott after the famous frog escape scene, in which Elliott would also kiss a girl in his class. Spielberg also spoke about the cameo in an interview with EW: “He did the scene where E.T. is home levitating all of the stuff for his communicator up the stairs. Elliott is in the principal’s office after the frog incident. We don’t ever see Harrison’s face. We just hear his voice, see his body.”…

(16) VIDEO OF A PREVIOUS DAY. A short clip from Futurama illustrates why, “In the end, it was not guns or bombs that defeated the aliens, but that humblest of all God’s creatures, the Tyrannosaurus Rex.”

[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Standback, Rich Lynch, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Rick Moen.]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To Greg!

——–

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

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

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

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

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

Tell us about your podcast or channel.

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

Who are the people behind your podcast or channel?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(8) MEMORY LANE.

1968 [By Cat Eldridge.] Charly 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

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

(10) COMICS SECTION.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

National Toy Hall of Fame Inductees for 2022

The ancient top, cultural phenomenon Masters of the Universe, and the Lite-Brite are the 2022 inductees to the National Toy Hall of Fame. They were chosen from a field of 12 finalists that also included bingo, Breyer Horses, Catan, Nerf, piñata, Phase 10, Pound Puppies, Rack-O, and Spirograph.

TOP

Since ancient times, the spinning top has been a childhood staple of cultures in Asia, Europe, the Americas, and Australia. The toy form has entertained adults, too. (Ancient Greek pottery shows women playing with tops more than 2,000 years ago!) Special eight-sided tops called teetotums supply the element of chance in board games and similar pastimes. Modern kids play with this classic toy still, calculating the placement, centrifugal force, and velocity needed to execute the longest spin or to capture their competitors’ prized tops.

MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE

The Master of the Universe line of action figures, which includes the iconic He-Man and She-Ra, traces its popularity to maker Mattel’s use of comic books, television, and the big screen. The cartoon series He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, which ran from 1983 to 1985,created a cohesive, fantasy world that allowed Mattel to introduce new characters and new toys to the line. Over the years, Mattel has paired the brand with everything from toothbrushes to sleeping bags. In 2021, a new Netflix series based on Masters of the Universe proved the toy’s staying power.

LITE-BRITE

Created in 1966, Lite-Brite uses the same concept as stained-glass windows, allowing children to create glowing images against a black background, either following manufactured designs or creating their own picture. Through the years, Lite-Brite has gradually changed its format and technology but the potential for open-ended creativity has kept Lite-Brite popular for more than 50 years.

The National Toy Hall of Fame® at The Strong, established in 1998, recognizes toys that have inspired creative play and enjoyed popularity over a sustained period. Each year, the hall inducts new honorees and showcases both new and historic versions of classic toys beloved by generations.

[Based on a press release.]

Pixel Scroll 11/8/22 We Only Scroll Respectable Pixels

(1) MAJOR STATHOPOULOS SHOW. “The Semblance of Things: Portraits by Nick Stathopoulos” will be a comprehensive 30-year survey show coming next February to the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre in Australia. Nick announced it on Facebook.  There’s already an article about the upcoming exhibition in the Centre’s magazine, downloadable at the link.

(2) FIGURING. Cora Buhlert posted a new “Masters of the Universe-piece Theatre” photo story. This one is called “New Look”.

… I have had some new arrivals recently, including the Teela and Zoar two-pack. I mainly bought the two-pack, because I wanted Zoar the Falcon, but I also got a Teela figure with a nice new headsculpt, which is loosely based on the way she looked in the 2002 cartoon, where Teela had a long ponytail instead of her customary upswept hairstyle. And since Teela is my favourite Masters of the Universe character, I’m always happy to have another version of her. Plus, this Teela has a sword, which is the weapon she actually uses most of the time in the various cartoons. The toys mostly only have the snake staff, even though the snake staff only prominently features in the 2002 cartoon – in every other version she uses a sword.

The fact that Teela got a makeover for the two-pack also inspired the following story. Furthermore, I also get to explore the friendship between Teela and Adora that the cartoons never really gave us (so far) some more….

(3) AMAZING. The Kickstarter for the “Amazing Stories Annual Special: SOL SYSTEM by Steve Davidson” now includes a rather clever animated Zoom meeting between famous science fiction figures from H.G. Wells to Octavia Butler. Here’s a teaser – the complete video runs almost five minutes.

(4) HEARING MORE FROM CORA. Issue one of The Lotus Tree Literary Review is out and contains an interview with Cora Buhlert conducted by Jean-Paul L. Garnier: “The Lotus Tree Literary Review, Autumn 2022, Issue #1”.

Garnier: What challenges have you faced as a German author working in English speaking markets?

Buhlert: It’s harder for someone from beyond the Anglosphere (i.e. the US, UK, Canada, Australia, Ireland and New Zealand) to get noticed. First of all, if you come from a non-English-speaking country (and for some countries in Africa and Asia, where English is an official language, even if you come from an English-speaking country), some people will simply assume that you cannot possibly speak English well enough to write in what is not your first language. I have actually had someone leave a long rambling comment on my blog to tell me that I’m obviously too stupid to understand English.

Physical distance is also an issue, because a lot of the big cons happen in the US or UK and attending takes time, money and also the privilege of being able to get a visa at all, something which is a huge issue for SFF writers from Africa, but also from the Middle East and some countries in Asia and Latin America. It’s probably no accident that I was only nominated for the Hugo after I had attended two Worldcons and one Eurocon in person, took part in programming and met a lot of people…

(5) HAILEY PIPER READS. Space Cowboy Books will host an online reading and interview with Hailey Piper author of No Gods for Drowning on Tuesday November 15 at 6:00 p.m. Pacific. Register for free here.

IN THE BEGINNING, MAN WAS PREY WITHOUT THE GODS, THEY’LL BE PREY AGAIN The old gods have fled, and the monsters they had kept at bay for centuries now threaten to drown the city of Valentine, hunting mankind as in ancient times. In the midst of the chaos, a serial killer has begun ritually sacrificing victims, their bodies strewn throughout the city.

Set in an alternate reality which updates mythology to near-modern day, No Gods For Drowning is part dark fantasy, part noir detective story, and unlike anything you’ve read before, from an author whose imagination knows no boundaries.

(6) A ROBOT WITH A ROSE BY ANY OTHER NAME. Lavie Tidhar discusses his favorite robot stories: “The Best Robots In Science Fiction” at CrimeReads.

My new novel, Neom, started off with the simple image of a robot and a rose. The robot goes to the market in the city of Neom and buys a flower. It then takes the rose into the desert and leaves it in the sand…

Why?

I wrote the rest of the book just to find out….

Second Variety by Philip K. Dick (1953)

As we go through Neom we find out that my robot (who is never named) had a group of companions during the long-ago war. One of them is, of course, a Tasso, from PKD’s classic story about a war in which humanoid robots infiltrate the human population only to blow themselves up. They come in several models, including the David (a young boy) and a Wounded Soldier, but there are rumours of a new, improved model…

(7) LESLIE PHILLIPS (1924-2022). SYFY Wire reports: Leslie Phillips, “Voice of the Sorting Hat in ‘Harry Potter’ dies at 98”.

Leslie Phillips, the British screen legend who voiced the Sorting Hat in the first two Harry Potter films, has passed away at the age of 98 following a lengthy illness. The anthropomorphic head piece that sorts incoming Hogwarts students into the school’s four famous houses appeared prominently in Sorcerer’s Stone (2001) and Chamber of Secrets (2022) — both of which were helmed by director Chris Columbus.

… The actor’s career dated all the way back to the late 1930s and included over 200 roles in dozens upon dozens of projects spanning film, television, and the stage (Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and Doctor Who: Medicinal Purposes are just two small examples). Wizarding World fans, however, will forever associate the man with the sagely voice of the tattered magical hat that took Harry’s own desires into consideration and placed the boy wizard into Gryffindor — where dwell the brave at heart….

(8) MEMORY LANE.

2018 [By Cat Eldridge.] Sometimes it’s the offbeat stories that I really like from authors, the short works that aren’t expanded into full length stories. Such is the case with Elizabeth Bear’s Sub-Inspector Ferron series. Of course, everything she writes is a delight to read. 

Bear’s Sub-Inspector Ferron series at the present consists alas of but two novellas, “In the House of Aryaman, a Lonely Signal Burns” and “A Blessing of Unicorns”. Will there be more? Oh, I hope so. 

TASTY, SPICY ASIAN SPOILERS FOLLOW. THEY REALLY DO!

These two novellas start with “In the House of Aryaman, a Lonely Signal Burns” which is set a half a century from now. In the city of Bangalore, where  scientist working on cutting-edge biotechnology has been discovered inside his own locked flat, his body converted into a neat block of organic material. 

It’s up to Police Sub-Inspector Ferron to figure out the victim’s past and solve the crime, outwitting the best efforts of whoever is behind the death, her overbearing mother, and the complexities of dealing with the only witness – an ever so cute parrot-cat Chairman Miaow. (The latter, she says are, as I guessed, a cat with parrot colors and “a parrot-like level of intelligence and ability to mimic speech”. That cat will later adopted by her. She already has a fox. 

I’ll note that the stories aren’t freestanding, so the novella, “A Blessing of Unicorns” builds off the first novella, therefore must be experienced after the first is read or listened to.

Together they make up a fascinating look at the life and work of Ferron as a Police Sub-Inspector in a balkanised world where there are no national or regional police forces. No, it’s not some small libertarian wet dream here, but a real world with actual consequences to everything that happens. 

WE HAVE CONSUMED THOSE TASTY MORSELS, SO YIU CAN COME BACK.

There is certainly more than enough story here for her to someday write a novel set in the universe. And I look forward to it. 

When I asked her if there would be a novel in the series, she replied “there might be a novel someday but I really need to visit Bangalore myself to write that! I’ve been relying on friends who hail from there, or who have family there and have visited extensively, but it’s not the same as boots in the dirt experience!”

Fantastic stories told well by a master storyteller, what more do you want? 

The Audible narrations are done most excellently by narrated Zehra Jane Naqvi. She’s an Australian expatriate in the United Kingdom of Anglo-Indian descent. She obvious handles the Indian accents quite wonderfully here.  Another genre connection — She started her voice acting career in a several  Big Finish Productions’ Doctor Who audio dramas with Sylvester McCoy and Peter Davison reprising the Seventh and Fifth and Doctors.

The first one is available at the usual suspects, but the second remains at this time an Audible exclusive though Bear assures me that it will be available soon as as an ebook soon.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 8, 1847 Abraham “Bram” Stoker. You know that he’s author of Dracula but did you know that he wrote other fiction such as The Lady of the Shroud and The Lair of the White Worm? Of course you do, being you. The short story collection Dracula’s Guest and Other Weird Stories was published in 1914 by Stoker’s widow, Florence. (Died 1912.)
  • Born November 8, 1906 Matt Fox. I’m here to praise an illustrator of one of those magazines that published the stories of such writers as Robert Bloch, Manly Wade Wellman and Ray Bradbury. The covers by Fox were of course intended to lure you to magazine rack, pick up the magazine and purchase it. Such was what he did for Weird Tales from November 1943 to July 1951. After that, during the Fifties and Sixties he worked for Atlas Comics, inking and penciling Journey into MysteryWorld of FantasyTales of Suspense and Journey into Unknown Worlds. It is thought that his last known published work is an advertisement, printed in 1967, for original mail-order glow-in-the-dark posters. (Died 1988.)
  • Born November 8, 1914 Norman Lloyd. Yes, those dates are right. His longest genre role was as Dr. Isaac Mentnor on the most excellent Seven Days series. He’s been on Next GenGet Smart! in the form of the Nude Bomb film and visited The Twilight Zone, and in a fair number of horror films from The Dark Secret of Harvest Home to The Scarecrow. (Died 2021.)
  • Born November 8, 1932 Ben Bova. He wrote more than one hundred twenty books. He won six Hugo Awards as editor of Analog, and also once was editorial director at Omni. Hell, he even had the thankless job of SFWA President. (Just kidding. I think.) I couldn’t hope to summarize his literary history so I’ll single out his Grand Tour series that though uneven is overall splendid hard sf as well as his Best of Bova short story collections put out in three volumes. What’s your favorite book by him? (Died 2020.)
  • Born November 8, 1955 Jeffrey Ford, 67. Winner of a very impressive seven World Fantasy Awards as well every other award given to writers of fantastic literature except Hugos. Really there’s too many to list here. He’s got two Hugo nominations, one at Torcon 3 for his “Creation” short story, another at Noreascon 4 for ”The Empire of Ice Cream” novelette “.  And yes, his Well-built City trilogy is amazing.
  • Born November 8, 1956 Richard Curtis, 67. One of Britain’s most successful comedy screenwriters, he’s making the Birthday List for writing “Vincent and the Doctor”, a most excellent Eleventh Doctor story. He was also the writer of Roald Dahl’s Esio Trot which isn’t really genre but it’s Roald Dahl who’s certainly is one of us some of the time, isn’t he? (Please don’t deconstruct that sentence.) And he directed Blackadder which is most decidedly genre.
  • Born November 8, 1968 Parker Posey, 54. Doctor Smith on the rebooted Lost in Space series. I’ve not seen it, so how is it?  She was in a film based on based Dean Koontz’s version of Frankenstein. And she shows in Blade: Trinity as well which I’ll admit I liked.
  • Born November 8, 1952 Alfre Woodard, 70. I remember her best from Star Trek: First Contact where she was Lily Sloane, Cochrane’s assistant. She was also Grace Cooley in Scrooged, and polishing her SJW creds, she once voiced Maisie the Cat in The Brave Little Toaster Goes to School. And yes, I know she’s portrayed a character in Marvel Universe. I just like the obscure roles. 

(10) ROWE Q&A. Marc Tassin interviews Christopher Rowe for the GenCon podcast: “Today’s Guest: Christopher Rowe” at Out of Character with Marc Tassin.

(11) VALLESE ESSAY COLLECTION. Grace Byron’s book review considers “Nightmares Worth Indulging: On Feminist Press’s ‘It Came from the Closet’” at LA Review of Books.

… In his introduction, editor Joe Vallese asks, “[H]ow are we to think about the complicated relationship between the queer community and the horror genre?” Vallese notes that all the contributors “convey a rich reciprocity, complicating and questioning as much as they clarify.” In other words, some of the essays will see horror films as nightmares worth indulging, while still interrogating what the genre gives and takes from queer people.

Ever since (and surely before) Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick offered queer readings of homosociality in Dickens, a certain kind of essay was born. These kinds of queer essays excavate the subtext of dominant culture. The mainstream 2009 film Jennifer’s Body, after all, inspired lesbian titillation and launched a thousand lavender wet dreams. Earlier this year, the father of body horror, David Cronenberg, declared that “surgery is sex” in Crimes of the Future, a few years late to the trans tipping point…

(12) FORGET ABOUT IT. “J.D. Dillard’s Star Wars Project Canceled, Exits Rocketeer Sequel” reports CBR.com.

Filmmaker J.D. Dillard experienced a Disney double whammy, having lost not one, but two prominent projects, Star Wars and The Rocketeer, to which he was attached.

In an interview with The Wrap, the director, who was promoting his latest film, the Jonathan Majors-starring Korean War aviator drama Devotion, dropped news about his formerly promising backlog. Indeed, the Mouse House not only lined him up to direct the long-belated sequel to the 1991 adventure classic, titled The Return of the Rocketeer, but tapped him to direct a mysterious Star Wars feature. However, when asked for an update on those projects, Dillard delivered bad news, stating that his Star Wars movie is “unfortunately no longer a thing. It was not for lack of trying.” He further lamented his nixed endeavor for the iconic space franchise, describing it as “an original idea.” Compounding that, Dillard also revealed his exit from the Rocketeer sequel….

(13) PRODUCT WARNING. Ryan Reynolds tells the people that his new movie Spirited is a Christmas movie with Will Ferrell in it and is NOT ELF. “Legally Required Spirited Disclaimers”.

(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Game Trailers: World of Warcraft:  Wrath of the Lich King” Fandom Games says in order to play this game you either have to dress like a “Norse hobo” or “an off-brand Dora” the Explorer. The characters either spend time in cold regions where they run past “icy castles, icy beaches, and icy plains” or go underground in “the most positive depiction of sewers since Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.”

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

Pixel Scroll 10/18/22 Pixelitl Axolotl Pixelitl Axolotl Cheep Cheep Cheep! Axelot, Pixelitl More…

(1) CLARION WEST AUCTION AND GALA. The Clarion West After Dark 2022 Auction is open until October 21 at 9:00 PM Pacific Time. You must register for the event to begin bidding on auction items. Clarion West After Dark is a fundraising event and auction created to help support Clarion West’s year-round speculative program. 

Here are a couple of the many items on the block:

Clarion West board member Yang-Yang Wang (Dungeon Scrawlers) will serve as DM for a One Shot Dungeons & Dragons adventure (a single self-contained adventure) with author Seanan McGuire (Middlegame, Every Heart A Doorway, X-Men) and up to 3 of your friends.

Nisi Shawl is an award-winning author of science fiction, fantasy, and horror. They also make delectable, unique, and magical teas. Spend time with Nisi learning how they buy, dry, cut, stir, and steep the best cup of tea. Join Nisi at the home of board member Susan Gossman in Queen Ann.

Includes a signed copy of Nisi’s book Everfair.

There will also be a livestreamed Clarion West After Dark 2022 event on YouTube on October 21 at 7:00 p.m. Pacific with Special Guest Author Daniel J. Abraham. Register at the link.

Join us as we journey across the dark expanse of space for a night of celebration, imagination, and inspiration. Clarion West is all about stories, and our story is like a generation ship: students become instructors and scholarship recipients become donors, powering this journey across time and space as we go boldly into the creation of wild and amazing worlds.

(2) SFBC’S PROMO ART RARITIES. The fourth installment of Doug Ellis’ look at the art from the Science Fiction Book Club’s Things to Come bulletin is now available; this one covers 1964-1966 and includes seldom seen work by Virgil Finlay. “The Art Of Things To Come, Part 4: 1964-1966” at Black Gate.

…As I’ve noted in prior installments, the artists who contributed to these early bulletins are often unidentified. That’s usually the case during this period as well.

The notable exception to that rule is the great Virgil Finlay, who kicks off our tour with his illustration for Fifth Planet by Fred Hoyle and his son, Geoffrey Hoyle (misspelled as Goeffrey) from the Winter and March 1964 issue of the bulletin. The original of this lovely piece still exists in a private collection….

(3) PARAMOUNT PLUS HALF PRICE DEAL. [Item by Daniel Dern.] Paramount Plus, where the new Star Trek shows (and some of the older ones) are available, is having a “temporary promotion” (not clear how that differs functionally from “a sale.” (Note: “Offer ends 11/3/22.”)

In particular (as in, the one I just went for), Paramount Plus’ with-ads version has a half-off year offer ($24.99 instead of $49.99). (And other offers which I ignored, because of lack of interest or frugality. We enjoyed no-ads on a previous promotion, which, when it expired, I cancelled our subscription.)

So if you plan to watch Star Trek (new seasons and some older ones, and, I believe, movies) (and/or want to watch the final season of The Good Fight), here’s a helpful article (where I learned about this) including a link: https://www.howtogeek.com/841103/you-can-get-an-entire-year-of-paramount-for-just-25

Quick notes:

(1) As HowToGeek cautions, “The only catch is that the subscription auto-renews, and the low price is only for the first year”.

If you don’t want to lose track and accidentally get auto-renewed, at full price, in a year, consider cancellation after, say, a month. (If you were able to get the free trial period, make sure you’re a few days past that.)

Paramount says: “If you cancel your subscription, the cancellation will go into effect at the end of your current subscription period, as applicable. You will have continued access to the Paramount+ Service for the remainder of your paid subscription period.”

(2) The HowToGeek article says [you] also get an Amazon Fire TV Stick Lite. https://www.amazon.com/fire-tv-stick-lite/dp/B07YNLBS7R ($29)

However, I didn’t see this offered in the actual subscribing process or the near-immediate confirmations from Paramount. I just did a Chat with Paramount customer service; they said I should have received an email with a PIN (didn’t comment whether that related to the promised Fire Stick), and will cause a new message-with-PIN to get sent to me.)

Even if you don’t need one for everyday use, if you’re actually travelling (within the US), it might be a convenient take-along.

(4) SCHULZ CENTENNIAL. Just to remind you, the new issue of Charles M. Schulz / Peanuts stamps is now available from the USPS.

New stamps salute the centennial of cartoonist Charles M. Schulz (1922–2000) whose “Peanuts” characters are some of the best known and most beloved in all of American culture. For five decades, Schulz alone wrote and drew nearly 18,000 strips, the last one published the day after he died. Each character reflects Schulz’s rich imagination and great humanity. His resonant stories found humor in life’s painful realities including rejection, insecurity and unrequited love.

In a celebratory mode, characters from “Peanuts” adorn 10 designs on this pane of 20 stamps and form a frame around a 1987 photograph of Schulz.

Art director Greg Breeding designed the stamps from Schulz’s artwork and an existing photograph by Douglas Kirkland.

(5) DOCTOR WHICH. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Leslie S. Klinger provides background on Robert Louis Stevenson for a new edition of Dr Jekyll And Mr. Hyde.

… While RLS’s fiction never flagged in popularity, he was shunned by the critics for a long period. His work was excluded from major anthologies for much of the twentieth century. Today, however, he is highly regarded by academia as an original voice, an artist with a wide range of interests and insights, no longer to be relegated to the shelves of children’s literature or horror fiction. In 2004, the Journal of Stevenson Studies began publication, with an impressive editorial board and a mission: “The Journal of Stevenson Studies (JSS) is committed to the study and wider consideration of the work of Robert Louis Stevenson as a popular writer with an original and unique insight into the moral, psychological and cultural ambiguities of the modern world. This is the Stevenson admired by authors like Henry James, Graham Greene and Jorge Luis Borges….

(6) JEMISIN TAKES STOCK OF NYC. N. K. Jemisin was the guest on a New York Times podcast — The Ezra Klein Show: “A Legendary World-Builder on Multiverses, Revolution and the ‘Souls’ of Cities” on Apple Podcasts.

N.K. Jemisin is a fantasy and science-fiction writer who won three consecutive Hugo Awards — considered the highest honor in science-fiction writing — for her “Broken Earth” trilogy; she has since won two more Hugos, as well as other awards. But in imagining wild fictional narratives, the beloved sci-fi and fantasy writer has also cultivated a remarkable view of our all-too-real world. In her fiction, Jemisin crafts worlds that resemble ours but get disrupted by major shocks: ecological disasters, invasions by strange, tentacled creatures and more — all of which operate as thought experiments that can help us think through how human beings could and should respond to similar calamities.

Jemisin’s latest series, which includes “The City We Became” and “The World We Make,” takes place in a recognizable version of New York City — the texture of its streets, the distinct character of its five boroughs — that’s also gripped by strange, magical forces. The series, in addition to being a rollicking read, is essentially a meditation on cities: how they come into being, how their very souls get threatened by forces like systemic racism and astronomical inequality and how their energies and cultures have the power to rescue and save those souls.

I invited Jemisin on the show to help me take stock of the political and cultural ferment behind these distressing conditions — and also to remember the magical qualities of cities, systems and human nature. We discuss why multiverse fictions like “Everything Everywhere All at Once” are so popular now, how the culture and politics of New York and San Francisco have homogenized drastically in recent decades, Jemisin’s views on why a coalition of Black and Latinx voters elected a former cop as New York’s mayor, how gentrification causes change that we may not at first recognize, where to draw the line between imposing order and celebrating the disorder of cities, how Donald Trump kept stealing Jemisin’s ideas but is at the root a “badly written character,” whether we should hold people accountable for their choices or acknowledge the way the status quo shapes our decision-making, what excites Jemisin about recent discoveries about outer space, why she thinks we are all “made of exploding stars” and more.

(7) CINEMA FARAWAY. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] I review the 1967 West German Edgar Allan Poe adaptation The Snake Pit and the Pendulum at Galactic Journey as part of an overview post about recent movies. The other films covered are Quatermass and the Pit, The Day the Fish Came Out, which I have to admit I’d never heard of before, and Bonnie and Clyde, which is not even remotely SFF, but a film that reviewer Jason Sacks really likes: “[October 18, 1967] We Are The Martians: Quatermass and the Pit, Bonnie and Clyde, The Day the Fish Came Out and The Snake Pit and the Pendulum”.

… Compared to the many horrors of the real world, watching a spooky movie in the theatre feels almost cathartic. And so I decided to get away from the real world by watching the new West German horror movie Die Schlangengrube und das Pendel (The Snake Pit and the Pendulum) at my local cinema….

(8) ICONIC ARTIST. The Goodman Games website has a profile of Flash Gordon artist Alex Raymond: “A Profile of Legendary Illustrator Alex Raymond”.

Few people have influenced American comics as much as Alex Raymond. While “Jungle Jim” and “Rip Carson” [sic – Rip Kirby] may not be household names, Raymond’s most famous creation, Flash Gordon, is so ingrained into American pop culture that simply his name can be used as shorthand for a specific type of heroic, romantic science fiction. Alex Raymond’s career was short, and his death came far too soon, but his art and influence are immortal….

(9) SERIES COMPLETED. The Guardian interviews Malorie Blackman, author of dystopian YA fiction: “Malorie Blackman: ‘Thank God that’s done!’”.

…The sixth and final book in the Noughts & Crosses series, Endgame, came out last year. How do you feel now that’s over?
Mainly: Thank God I lived long enough to finish it! And: Thank God that’s done! OK, to be serious about it, it’s been a hell of a journey, which I’m really grateful for because it’s been 20-odd years. But I really do feel with the end of Endgame that really is it. And anyone who’s read it will know why. If there are more books written in that series, they won’t be by me….

(10) BE YOUR OWN SQUID. Also at the Guardian, Amelia Tait asks why immersive pop culture experiences are booming: “Dance like you’re in Bridgerton, play Squid Game: why are immersive experiences booming?”

…Welcome to the age of immersion. Dinosaurs and DC barely scratch the surface – this  summer also saw the launch of Stranger Things and Tomb Raider “experiences” in London, an I’m A Celebrity Jungle Challenge in Manchester, and an Alice in Wonderland “immersive cocktail experience” in Sheffield.

By September, fans were able to re-enact Netflix’s Squid Game at Immersive Gamebox venues in London, Essex and Manchester. In the coming weeks, London will also host an experience based on the horror franchise Saw, while Cheshire will see thousands visit Harry Potter: A Forbidden Forest Experience. And that’s without mentioning the boom in immersive art experiences, the most recent of which – Frameless – has just opened in central London….

(11) HAUNTED TRACKS. The Cromcast have launched their annual “Cromtober” event of reviewing spooky works in October. This time around, they discuss The Twilight Zone episode “A Stop at Willoughby”: “Episode 1: Get on the Ghost Train and Head to Willoughby”.

…For our first episode, we focus most of our discussion on the class Twilight Zone episode “A Stop at Willoughby” where our protagonist “Mr. Gart Williams, an ad agency exec, who in just a moment, will move into the Twilight Zone—in a desperate search for survival.”

Beyond our stop in the Twilight Zone, we also discuss why trains are kind of scary and the different things they symbols in folklore and ghost stories. Last but not least, let’s learn about President Abraham Lincoln’s Ghost TrainHop aboard, won’t you? …

(12) JIM MCDIVITT (1929-2022) Former astronaut Jim McDivitt, who played key roles in making America’s first spacewalk and moon landing possible, died October 17 at the age of 93. NPR paid tribute:

…In 1962, McDivitt was selected by NASA to become an astronaut. He was chosen to pilot Gemini 4 — becoming the first-ever NASA rookie to command a mission.

Considered NASA’s most ambitious flight at the time in 1965, the Gemini 4 mission was the first time the U.S. performed a spacewalk and the longest that a U.S. spaceflight had remained in Earth’s orbit: 4 days.

Four years later, McDivitt commanded Apollo 9 — a 10-day shakeout mission orbiting the Earth in March 1969 that involved testing the lunar landing spacecraft. It paved the way for NASA to successfully land humans on the moon four months later in July 1969.

Apollo 9 was his last trip to space. Despite his instrumental role in propelling NASA’s moon landing, McDivitt himself never reached the moon. Francis French, a spaceflight historian, said McDivitt chose not to command a moon landing mission and decided to take on a management role….

… McDivitt became manager of Lunar Landing Operations in May 1969, and in August of that year became manager of the Apollo Spacecraft Program. He was the program manager for Apollo missions 12-16….

(13) MEMORY LANE.

2005 [By Cat Eldridge.] Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars (2005)

Once upon a time, a beloved SF series got cancelled, and yes there is absolutely nothing unusual in that happening, it happens more often than it should. What is extremely unusual is that it got a second chance to have a proper ending in the Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars seventeen years ago. 

So let’s tell the tale of how that happened. Farscape arrived here twenty-three ago when Deep Space Nine was just wrapping up and Voyager was well into its seven year run. It started fine and ratings were strong until the fourth season and that, combined with regime change here in the States on who was picking up the tab for the two million dollars per episode led it to end abruptly. 

Fans being fans weren’t going to let things end that way, nor should we. (Yes I loved the show. Deeply, unreservedly. I think it was one of the best series ever made, if not the best.) A massive campaign was undertaken with of course emails,  letters, phone calls, and phone calls pleading with the network to reverse the cancellation. 

Even Bill Amend who created the Fox Trot series had his Jason Fox character direct his ire at SciFi and demand that they change their mind.

Well they did, sort of. A fifth season didn’t happen after all. What did happen in some ways I think was even better though I know that isn’t a popular opinion among those who wanted a full season. 

What we got was the two episode, one hundred and eighty minute Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars which I thought splendidly wrapped things up. Every single storyline that wasn’t dealt with during the series was during this film.

SPOLER ALERT HERE.

We got a baby too. Yes, our Peacekeeper gives birth in a fountain in the middle of a firefight, insists she’s married while in labor, carries her baby unscathed through a battle. I assume that the baby was a puppet from the Henson labs. It was terribly cute.

END OF SPOILERS

I’ve watched it at least a half dozen times, probably more, in the last fifteen years. The Suck Fairy in her steel toed boots is obviously scared of those Aussie actors (and the non Aussie one as well) as she slinks away to harass someone else. 

Just looked at Rotten Tomatoes — not at all surprisingly, it carries a ninety-two percent rating among audience reviewers there. It’s streaming at Amazon Prime.

(14) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 18, 1934 Inger Stevens. She’s here for two appearances on The Twilight Zone. She had the lead as Nan Adams “The Hitch-Hiker” and she was again the lead, Jana, as the sensitive daughter of a creative genius in “The Late of The Hour”. Her only other genre credit was as Sarah Crandall in the post nuclear Holocaust film The World, the Flesh and the Devil. The coroner ruled her 1970 death a suicide. (Died 1970.)
  • Born October 18, 1938 Barbara Baldavin. She was a recurring performer on Trek first as Angela Martine in “Balance of Terror” and “Shore Leave”.  She would also appear in the final season’s “Turnabout Intruder” as communications officer Lisa.  After that, she had one-offs on Fantasy Island and The Bionic Woman. She retired from the business in 1993.
  • Born October 18, 1948 Dawn Wells. Mary Ann Summers on Gilligan’s Island which y’all decided was genre.. She had genre one-offs on The InvadersWild Wild West and Alf. (Died 2020.)
  • Born October 18, 1944 Katherine Kurtz, 76. Known for the Deryni series which started with Deryni Rising in 1970, and the most recent, The King’s Deryni, was published in 2014. As medieval historical fantasy goes, they’re damn great. 
  • Born October 18, 1951 Jeff Schalles, 71. Minnesota area fan who’s making the Birthday Honors because he was the camera man for Cats Laughing’s A Long Time Gone: Reunion at Minicon 50 concert DVD. Cats Laughing is a band deep in genre as you can read in the Green Man review here.
  • Born October 18, 1952 Pam Dawber, 71. Mindy McConnell in Mork & Mindy. She did very little other genre work, such as Faerie Tale Theatre and the Twilight Zone. She was however in The Girl, the Gold Watch & Everything as Bonny Lee Beaumont which is based off the John D. MacDonald novel of the same name. Go watch it — it’s brilliant! 
  • Born October 18, 1964 Charles Stross, 58 . I’ve read a lot of him down the years with I think his best being the rejiggered Merchant Princes series. Other favorite works include the early Laundry Files novels and both of the Halting State novels. 

(15) FIGURES DON’T LIE. Cora Buhlert posted another “Masters-of-the-Universe-Piece Theatre” photo story. This one is called “Fake Out”.

(16) SCI-FI BREAD. It turns out that the “Pan Solo” linked here the other day was only the latest genre baking stunt from this Benecia, CA bakery. The New York Times gets the goods: “Bakery Creates ‘Pan Solo,’ a 6-Foot Replica of ‘Star Wars’ Hero Made of Bread”.

…In 2018, the year they opened the family bakery, they made Game of Scones, featuring a White Walker made of bread, next to an iron throne of baguettes.

Encouraged by the positive response from the public, in 2020 they made the “Pain-dough-lorian,” clad in armor made of bread, “Baby Dough-Da” clothed in bread and “floating” in mixing bowls, and “the Pandroid,” made of pans and kitchen tools, all inspired by the television series “The Mandalorian.”

Last year, they created “Dough-ki,” a menacing alligator made of bread, with sharp teeth and curved horns, modeled after “Alligator Loki,” a creature on the Marvel television series “Loki,” starring Tom Hiddleston…..

(17) MERMAN FOR HIRE. The Los Angeles Times takes readers “Inside Southern California’s subculture of mermaid enthusiasts”.

…Laflin squirmed and flailed around on the floor for 45 minutes that first time. When he could finally sit up, he looked down his torso to inspect himself. Half fish, half man, it was a transformation that turned out to be life-altering.

Ten years after he first tried on the set piece in his apartment, Laflin, 40, is a full-time merman, part of a hub of mermaid enthusiasts in Southern California who inhabit personas that express everything from a yearning for childhood play and entertainment to environmental advocacy and gender identity. Going by the stage name “Merman Jax,” he runs a business that he christened Dark Tide Productions, which employs a team of about 10 men and women who perform at events such as birthday parties, corporate galas, and Renaissance fairs, sometimes in water, sometimes posing by a pool or the entrance of an event.

Mermaids tend to be more in demand, Laflin says, because most clients prefer to go with a performer who is female-presenting. But he loves the moments when he is swimming in a tank or lounging poolsidebecause of the sense of wonder it can inspire….

(18) THE MASKED HYMIE. “You probably forgot that Dick Gautier once filled in briefly as Batman” – let MeTV remind you.

In 1971, Adam West was done being Batman.

“I knew it was going to be hard to live down such a strong identification,” West told a TV columnist syndicated in The Newspaper Enterprise Association that year. “But it’s been even harder than I anticipated. And today the series is being widely rerun, so I’m still identified with Batman.”

This was three years past the series end, but the action series maintained a wide fan base, and that year, an idea was floated to use the popular characters of Batgirl, Batman, and Robin to run a public service announcement raising awareness for a movement to secure equal pay for women.

In the PSA, Batman and Robin are tied up, and Batgirl appears.

“Untie us before it’s too late,” Batman commands Batgirl.

“It’s already too late,” Batgirl retorts, refusing to set them free until Batman agrees to give her a raise. “I’ve worked for you a long time, and I’m paid less than Robin!”

The PSA was promoting awareness of the federal equal pay law, and it ends with a cliffhanger to tune in tomorrow to find out if Batman does his duty and gives Batgirl what she’s owed.

West refused to do this PSA, not because of politics, but because he just didn’t want to be Batman anymore….

(19) DEL TORO’S PINOCCHIO: ONE REVIWER’S TAKE. “’Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio’ Review: The Fantasy Master’s Distinctive Stop-Motion Take on the Old Story Carves Out Its Own Way” at Yahoo!

The possessive claim in the title “Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio” is a gutsy one. There’s confidence — some would even say arrogance — in filming an oft-told story at least as old as the hills, and suddenly branding it as your own: Even two auteurs as ballsy as Francis Ford Coppola and Baz Luhrmann didn’t slap their own names on “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” and “William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet,” respectively. Still, you can hardly blame del Toro’s stop-motion spin on Carlo Collodi’s 19th-century chestnut “The Adventures of Pinocchio” for wanting to advertise its distinguishing vision up top: After umpteen tellings of the wooden-boy tale, and coming on the heels of Robert Zemeckis’ wretched Disney remake, Netflix’s rival adaptation has to announce itself as something different. That it is; it’s often delightful too….

(20) THESE ARE THE MENUS OF THE STARSHIP ENTERPRISE. “The New ‘Star Trek’ Cookbook Reveals the Challenges in Recreating Trek Food” reports Rachel P. Kreiter at Eater, who finds that making food green isn’t enough.

The Star Trek Cookbook is lightly bound by the conceit that Monroe-Cassel is a “gastrodiplomat” lecturing Starfleet cadets about how to further the Federation’s exploratory and expansionist goals through sharing a meal with representatives of other planets. The dishes themselves are all references I could ID from a lifetime of consuming Star Trek, but each dish’s franchise origin is noted. The book is organized by dish type, and not Star Trek series, era, or culture. In theory this makes it more usable for its intended purpose, that is, making and eating the food. This is (ugh) logical for a cookbook, and some of the recipes in here are good. Cardassian Regova eggs, for example: I boiled them, cracked the shells, and submerged them in dye diluted in water until they emerged a pretty, webby green. Spiked with some frilly bits of lettuce they looked striking; maybe I’d serve them at a Halloween party. They were also okay devilled eggs, and I learned a new trick: that you can slice off the tops and prepare them vertically.

But they’re also just devilled hen eggs, and nothing in the filling (yogurt, red pepper, garlic) makes them anything other than superficially a little weird. Everything about how the food looks — the plating, the reliance on dyes, the lightly modernist approach — broadcasts alienness, in a sci-fi aesthetic way. But making a traditionally structured cookbook with solid recipes for kinda odd-seeming food falls short of this project’s full potential, since nobody is going to a Star Trek cookbook first and foremost because it’s a cookbook…

(21) AI ART GENERATION. Camestros Felapton reviews one of the early books about the new AI art-creating systems, by a name that will be familiar to some of you: “Review: An Illustrated Guide to AI Prompt Mastery by Jack Wylder”.

…If the name sounds familiar, Jack Wylder does a lot of work with Larry Correia including producing Correia’s podcast. He’s recently produced a book which, unsurprisingly was promoted in former Puppy circles. That’s where I saw it but my interest wasn’t the connection to that particular circle of authors. Rather, I’ve been interested to see how independently published authors would start engaging with machine-learning art generation systems such as Midjourney and Dall-e for producing book covers.

An Illustrated Guide to AI Prompt Mastery attempts a system-agnostic approach to prompts. It doesn’t suggest a given system or discuss the syntax differences between systems. That is a sensible choice given that new systems are appearing regularly and the details of the syntax are better covered in their own documentation. The downside is that if you are expecting a kind of plug-and-play manual to AI-art syntax you’ll be disappointed….

(22) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Game Trailers: Overwatch 2,” Fandom Games says this comes from Blizzard, which “delivers controversies faster than new titles,” as development of the game led to a lot of the staff quitting and the company releasing a bug-ridden game that included times where 40,000 people were in front of you to play.  Overwatch 2 is  for “people who fear change so much that you want sequels that are five percent different than the last title,”  and that Blizzard should have fixed the bugs in Overwatch rather than come out with a “new” line extension.

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

Pixel Scroll 10/5/22 Thoughts Gather, But Fail To Coalesce Into Pixels

(1) CHARLES YU Q&A. “’In Any Version of Reality’: Talking SF with Charles Yu” at Public Books.  

Christopher T. Fan (CF): In a later chapter of How to Live Safely, there’s another father-son scene, where the father is trying to impart knowledge to the young protagonist. He’s opening a pack of graph paper, peeling off the cellophane—it’s very tactile. He says, “Choose a world, any world,” as he opens up this graph paper and presents it to his son. Can you say more about that sense of optimism? How graph paper leads to a world? 

Charles Yu (CY): In my dad’s office, he had these thick pads of graph paper with this very pleasing feel. They were pretty squishy because the paper was thick, and they had these very light green lines. It wasn’t perforation, it was like they were wax. You just tore a page off, and there was a sound that the pad would make as you tore off a nice sheet. I usually wouldn’t tear off the page I was working on, because you’d want the feeling of all the sheets underneath the top one. I was just playing with the idea.

No matter what else is going on, no matter if you’re an immigrant making your life in a foreign country, or if you’ve got all this work pressure and money pressure, or you’re trying to refinance the house because you’re maxed out on all your credit cards—whatever is going on in your life at that moment, you think, OK, we have math, we have a universe. I draw the X axis, I draw the Y. We’re in the Cartesian plane—here we are. To be able to go to that plane, anytime, just like that.

(2) NBA FINALISTS. The 2022 National Book Awards finalists were announced October 4 by the National Book Foundation. There are two works of genre interest. The complete list of finalists is here.

National Book Award 2022 Finalists: Translated Literature

Scattered All Over the Earth by Yoko Tawada

Original Language: Japanese/ Translator: Margaret Mitsutani (Penguin Random House / Riverhead Books)

National Book Award 2022 Finalists: Young People’s Literature

The Ogress and the Orphans by Kelly Barnhill(Workman Publishing / Algonquin Young Readers)

(3) WIKI BARS THE DOOR. [Item by Paul Weimer.] Author Gwenda Bond has been denied a Wikipedia for extremely sketchy reasons. Thread starts here.

(4) THE TANK HAS BEEN REFILLED! Chris Garcia just released his Drink Tank Chicon 8 / Chicago issue — The Drink Tank 441 – Chicon! It’s 84 pages of words and pictures from Alissa McKersie, Chuck Serface, and Chris Garcia, joined by Dave O’Neill, Paul Weimer, Fred Moulton, Vanessa Applegate, Juan Sanmiguel, Phoenix Data Art, Bill Rowe, Thad Gann, Ron Oakes, Steven H Silver, Espana Sheriff, DALL*E 2, Midjourney, and WOMBO Dream.

The Drink Tank’s “Crime Fiction – 1950 to 2000” issue should be out in a week or so, but there’s still time to submit for the up-coming looks at “Welcome to Nightvale” (Deadline Dec. 1) and the “Grant Morrison” issue (November 1).

(5) SKELETOR’S RECRUITING OFFICE. Cora Buhlert has a new photo story — “Masters-of-the-Universe-Piece Theatre: ‘Help’”

… “Ahem and why are we capturing Man-at-Arms, boss?”

“So he can build machines and weapons for us, Trap Jaw. And tell me all about the secrets of Castle Grayskull and how to kill He-Man, while he’s at it.”

“Uhm, I’m pretty sure Tri-Klops won’t like that, boss. After all, he is our tech guy.”

“I don’t care what Tri-Klops thinks. If he doesn’t want to be replaced, maybe he should come up with inventions that actually work.”…

(6) MY LITTLE PONYTAIL. GQ inquires “How Did This Ponytail Become the Go-To Men’s Hairstyle in Fantasy Adaptations?”

…The show, a Game of Thrones prequel, takes place 200 years before the events of the original series and focuses on the wheelings and dealings of the Targaryen dynasty. This means that while there was one recurring platinum blonde Targaryen wig on Game of Thrones, pretty much everyone on House of the Dragon gets to rock one—and, along with it, the half-ponytail. (It’s so excessive that Vulture published an entire House of the Dragon half-ponytail ranking.) By the time I saw Matt Smith stride onto screen as the bad boy prince Daemon Targaryen—complete with a fancy little half-ponytail he apparently meticulously styles in between waging wars, riding his dragon, and macking on his niece—I realized that the look was far bigger than Westeros. It’s become the go-to hairstyle to telegraph: “This guy’s in a fantasy series.”

So where did its reign start? The ur-fantasy-half-ponytail, down to the blonde dye job, seems to belong to Legolas in the early aughts Peter Jackson Lord of the Rings movies. J.R.R. Tolkien’s Elven prince had previously been depicted on paperback covers or in the 1978 animated Ralph Bakshi adaptation with more of a cocaine chic shag situation going on. But in the Jackson films, Orlando Bloom emerges with long silky blonde locks, tied back in a half-pony. (Where were you when, in 2001, you discovered what Bloom’s actual hair looked like?) Every prominent modern half-ponytail in fantasy—Henry Cavill in The Witcher, Daemon in House of the Dragon—owes a debt to this one.

Curious about how it originally came to be, I called up the Academy Award-winning hair designer for the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Peter Swords King (yes, really). He told me that he didn’t consult any previous aesthetics when developing the hair for Legolas. “We spent weeks experimenting with different things and came up with that. Then Peter Jackson said, ‘Oh, I really like that. That looks great,’” King recalled. “Legolas had two fishtailed braids on the other side of his head and that kept it back off his face. And then there was a tiny bit at the top by the back that was pulled into a ponytail.” (“Elves cannot have messy hair,” King added. “Lots of other characters can, it’s fine. But elves can’t. It’s not elvish to be messy.”)

King also worked on Jackson’s three-part adaptation of The Hobbit and pointed out that he gave a more rugged version of the style to Luke Evans when he played Bard the Bowman. “He was going to have all his hair down at one point and I went, ‘No, no I’m going to just try it half up, half down once,’” he said. “And I did that and said, ‘That’s it. That’s perfect. We want to see that hair moving when he runs and fights, but we don’t want it in his face.’” The issue with the hair all down was that “as soon as he started fighting, even with product in it and everything, it kept getting in his face. It looked bad. He looked messy.”

(7) MIYAZAKI ON STAGE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times behind a paywall, Sarah Hemming interviews My Neighbour Totoro, based on the film by Hayao Miyazaki, written by Tom Morton-Smith and with music by Joe Hisaishi (who also did the music for the film).  It is playing at the Barbican Theatre (barbican.org.uk) through January 21.

Morton-Smith “describes his task as ‘translation as well as adaptation’  He’s expanded several scenes, brought forward some characters and increased the dialogue.  But he adds that, although the story doesn’t confirm to convention expectations, it does have defined sections and a narrative journey…

Finding a stage language for this delicate story has meant drawing together a high-powered international team.  Hisaishi has been closely involved and his original score will be played live.  Jim Henson’s Creature Shop is building the puppets, designed by Basil Twist, and Phelim McDermott, expert in improvisation and puckish invention is directing.  The show is produced in collaboration with English theatre company Improbable and Japan’s Nippon TV.

(8) ALBERT COWDREY (1933-2022). Author Albert Cowdrey died August 21 at age 88. According to the family obituary, “He wrote Elixir of Life, a historical novel, Crux, a science fiction novel, and more than sixty published short stories, many in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. He was the only writer to receive awards from both the American Historical Association (Herbert Feis Award, 1984) and the World Fantasy Convention (World Fantasy Award, 2002).” The WFA was for his short story “Queen for a Day”.

(9) MEMORY LANE.  

1923 [By Cat Eldridge.] Ninety-nine years ago this month in Black Mask’s October 1923 issue, Dashiell Hammett’s Continental Op private detective first appeared. He’s employed as an operative of the Continental Detective Agency’s San Francisco office, hence his nickname. The stories are all told in the first person and his actual name is never given.

He may be the earliest hardboiled detective to appear in the pulp magazines. Note I said maybe. It’s still in matter of debate among pulp magazine historians. 

He appeared in thirty-six short stories, all but two of which appeared in Black Mask. Some ofHammett’s short stories in Black Mask were intended to be the basis for his novels, so for example “Black Lives”, “Hollow Temple”, “Black Honeymoon” and “Black Riddle” would become The Dain Curse. The novels differ substantially from the stories as they were revised by an editor at Alfred A. Knopf.

There are but two novels in the series, The Dain Curse and Red Harvest.  The latter was originally called The Cleansing of Poisonville and it sums up the novel damn well. Red Harvest, like The Dain Curse, started life as linked stories in Black Mask.

The Library of America’s Complete Novels includes both Red Harvest and The Dain Curse as printed by Knopf. The companion collection Crime Stories and Other Writings uses the original pulp magazine texts.

Of course there have been video adaptations. 

The Dain Curse was made into a six-hour CBS television miniseries in 1978 starring James Coburn. Here The Op was named Hamilton Nash which was his creator’s name ‘spelled sideways’. 

Four years later, Peter Boyle played the Continental Op in the opening of Hammett in which Hammett as played by Frederic Forrest is writing a story about the detective character.

And finally thirteen years later, Christopher Lloyd played The Continental Op in “Fly Paper” in season two, episode seven of the Fallen Angels anthology series adapted from Hammett’s short story of the same name. 

Blackstone has done a most exemplary audio productions of the novels which I know are on Audible and probably everywhere else as well.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and JJ.]

  • Born October 5, 1905 John Hoyt. His first genre role was in When Worlds Collide as Sydney Stanton, and the next in Attack of the Puppet People as Mr. Franz, bookending the Fifties. He starts off the Sixties in The Time Travelers as Varno. He appeared twice during the second season of The Twilight Zone in the episodes “Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?” and “The Lateness of the Hour”. And he had roles in many other genre series, including as the KAOS agent Conrad Bunny in the Get Smart episode “Our Man in Toyland”, and General Beeker in Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea’s episode “Hail to the Chief”, and Dr. Philip Boyce in the original pilot episode of Star Trek (“The Cage”). In the Seventies he appeared in Flesh Gordon as Professor Gordon. Yes, Flesh Gordon. (Died 1991.)
  • Born October 5, 1919 Donald Pleasence. He was Doctor Samuel Loomis in the Halloween franchise and the President in Escape from New York. He also had a plethora of parts in other genre properties, a few of which include the main role in the movie Fantastic Voyage which was novelized by Isaac Asimov, roles in episodes of the The Twilight ZoneThe Outer Limits, and The Ray Bradbury Theater, a part in George Lucas’ first foray into filmmaking, THX 1138, John Carpenter’s The Prince of Darkness, and the role of Merlin in the TV movie Guinivere. My favorite film title for a work he was in? Frankenstein’s Great Aunt Tillie in which he played the dual roles of Victor Frankenstein and Old Baron Frankenstein. (Died 1995.)
  • Born October 5, 1949 Peter Ackroyd, 73. His best known genre work is likely Hawksmoor which tells the tale of a London architect building a church and a contemporary detective investigating horrific murderers involving that church. Highly recommended. The House of Doctor Dee is genre fiction as is The Limehouse Golem and The Casebook of Victor Frankenstein.  I thought Hawksmoor had been turned into a film but it has not. But he has a credit for The Limehouse Golem which is his film work. 
  • Born October 5, 1952 Clive Barker, 70. Horror writer, series include the Hellraiser and the Book of Art, which is not to overlook The Abarat Quintet which is quite superb. Though not recent, The Essential Clive Barker: Selected Fiction published some twenty years ago contains more than seventy excerpts from novels and plays and four full-length short stories. His Imaginer series collects his decidedly strange art.  There has been a multitude of comic books, both by him and by others based on his his ideas.  My personal fave work by him is the Weaveworld novel.
  • Born October 5, 1945 Judith Kerman, 77. Can we call her a polymath? She’s a translator, publisher, academic, anthologist and poet.  All of her poetry, collected in Uncommonplaces: Poems of the Fantastic, is well worth your time. She did two non-fiction works of which I’m recommending one, “Retrofitting Blade Runner: Issues in Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner and Phillip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep”, as I’ve a Jones for that literature.
  • Born October 5, 1959 Rich Horton, 63. Editor of three anthology series — Fantasy: Best of The Year and Science Fiction: Best of The Year, merged into The Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy in 2010. He wrote a review column for Locus for twenty years, signing off this past February. His Strange at Ecbatan blog includes reviews, criticism, and a well-received series that proposes Hugo finalists to fill in the old years when only winners were announced, or even before the award was created.
  • Born October 5, 1971 Paul Weimer, 51. Writer, Reviewer, and Podcaster, also known as @PrinceJvstin. An ex-pat New Yorker living in Minnesota, he has been reading science fiction and fantasy for over 30 years and exploring the world of roleplaying games for more than 25 years. A three-time Hugo finalist for Best Fan Writer (2020-2022), he is a prolific reviewer for Nerds of a Feather. He also contributes to the Hugo-nominated fancast The Skiffy and Fanty Show and the SFF Audio podcast. He was the 2017 Down Under Fan Fund delegate to the Australia and New Zealand National Conventions, and his e-book DUFF trip report, consisting of more than 300 pages of travel stories and stunning photographs, is still available here.
  • Born October 5, 1975 Kate Winslet, 47. A longer and deeper genre record than I thought starting with being Prince Sarah in A Kid in King Arthur’s Court before playing Ophelia in Branagh’s Hamlet a few years later. She shows next as Clementine Kruczynski in the superb Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and was Sylvia Llewelyn Davies in the equally superb Finding Neverland. She’s Jeanine Matthews in Divergent and Insurgent, and is slated to be Ronal in the forthcoming Avatar 2. She’s the voice of Miss Fillyjonk in the English dub of the Swedish Moominvalley series. Finally, I’d like to note she narrated the audiobook version of Roald Dahl’s Matilda.

(11) LIVE FROM NEW BOOK, IT’S SATURDAY NIGHT! Goodman Games is doing a live interview with Michael Moorcock this weekend: “Live Interview With Michael Moorcock is This Weekend!”

The Sanctum Secorum is pleased to announce a special episode of Sanctum Secorum Live with guest Michael Moorcock. In honor of the forthcoming release of the newest book in the Elric saga, The Citadel of Forgotten Myths, Mr. Moorcock will be talking live about Elric, his new book, and more. Perhaps more importantly, he will also be taking questions from you, our viewers!

The show will be broadcast live on The Official Goodman Games twitch channel, and will also be rebroadcast via the Sanctum Secorum podcast feed as well as the Goodman Games Youtube channel. The show is being broadcast at 4:00 pm EST, allowing the entirety of the global Goodman Games fan base to take part and have your voices heard (figuratively at least).

(12) CHOW IN THE PINE TREE STATE. Some parts are edible…! Stephen King talks about the cuisine of Maine and shares a recipe that sounds pretty tasty: “Stephen King on What Authentic Maine Cuisine Means to Him” at Literary Hub.

… When I think of Maine cuisine, I think of red hot dogs in spongy Nissen rolls, slow-baked beans (with a big chunk of pork fat thrown in), steamed fresh peas with bacon, whoopie pies, plus macaroni and cheese (often with lobster bits, if there were some left over). I think of creamed salt cod on mashed potatoes—a favorite of my toothless grandfather—and haddock baked in milk, which was the only fish my brother would eat. I hated it; to this day I can see those fishy fillets floating in boiled milk with little tendrils of butter floating around in the pan. Ugh.

As the twig is bent the bough is shaped, so they say, and my tastes have remained simple and unrefined. I like nothing better than a couple of blueberry pancakes for breakfast, floating in maple syrup. (Folks think of Vermont when they think of maple syrup, but the Maine variety is just as good.) There’s nothing like a chunk of fried fish with vinegar for lunch, and a New England boiled dinner for supper—corned beef, cabbage, potatoes, and carrots. (“You must zimmer very zlowly,” my mother liked to say.) Add some strawberry shortcake (Bisquick biscuits, please) for dessert, and you’ve got some mighty good eatin’….

(13) BLANK SLATE. Slashfilm knows “Why Star Trek: Lower Decks Creator Mike McMahan Wanted Non-Trekkies In The Writers’ Room”.

… While it might seem like a no-brainer to stick with die-hard fans, the writers who were new to the “Trek” universe brought something special to the table, too:

“The original ‘Star Trek’ was made by people who had never seen ‘Star Trek’ because they were creating it. I wanted that feeling of brains that didn’t know ‘Star Trek’ as well, but were just thinking about the characters and the comedy. … [The new writers] find things that are super funny that they love, and you’re like, ‘Oh, right, that was normal to me because I’ve seen it my whole life, but that is an amazing, weird, funny thing.'”

As it turns out, McMahan’s unconventional decision paid off. The show has been a breath of fresh air, which was almost certainly the result of getting fresh eyes in the writers’ room. …

 (14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] How It Should Have Ended took a pause this summer, but they are back with guest voice Jon Bailey (the “epic voice guy” form Honest Trailers)

[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Chris Barkley, Paul Weimer, Cora Buhlert, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Lis Carey.]

Pixel Scroll 9/26/22 They Sentenced Me To Twenty Years Of Scrolldom, For Trying To File The Pixel From Within

(1) IT’S A HIT! NASA’s DART mission crashed into the targeted asteroid today.

And CNN reports “After DART’s successful collision with an asteroid, the science is just getting started”.

For the first time in history, NASA is trying to change the motion of a natural celestial body in space. Now that a spacecraft successfully hit the asteroid Dimorphos — the science is just getting started.

To survey the aftermath of the impact, the European Space Agency’s Hera mission will launch in 2024. The spacecraft, along with two CubeSats, will arrive at the asteroid system two years later.

Hera will study both asteroids, measure physical properties of Dimorphos, and examine the DART impact crater and the moon’s orbit, with the aim of establishing an effective planetary defense strategy.

The Italian Space Agency’s Light Italian CubeSat for Imaging of Asteroids, or LICIACube, will fly by Dimorphos to capture images and video of the impact plume as it sprays up off the asteroid and maybe even spy the crater it could leave behind. The mini-satellite will also glimpse Dimorphos’ opposite hemisphere, which DART won’t get to see before it’s obliterated.

The CubeSat will turn to keep its cameras pointed at Dimorphos as it flies by. Days, weeks and months after, we’ll see images and video captured by the Italian satellite that observed the collision event. The first images expected back from LICIACube could show the moment of impact and the plume it creates.

The LICIACube won’t be the only observer watching. The James Webb Space Telescope, the Hubble Space Telescope and NASA’s Lucy mission will observe the impact. The Didymos system may brighten as its dust and debris is ejected into space, said Statler, the NASA program scientist.

But ground-based telescopes will be key in determining if DART successfully changed the motion of Dimorphos.

(2) WSFA AT 75. The 75th anniversary of the Washington Science Fiction Association will be celebrated this weekend at the club’s annual Capclave.

(3) OCTAVIA BUTLER GOES INTO HALL OF FAME. The 2022 induction ceremony for the National Women’s Hall of Fame was held last weekend, honoring Octavia Butler, Hidden Figures’ Katherine Johnson, and other 2021 inductees. See a video of the ceremony here.

(4) WILD BLUE AND OTHER YONDERS. “Sharp-Eyed Viewers Notice Stunning Addition To Key U.S. Intelligence Logo” at MSN.com. Oh, yeah. Check for yourself on the U.S miliary’s NIM-Aviation Homepage.

A federal intelligence office charged with matters related to aviation has a new logo ― and it suggests the organization is tracking more than just known aircraft.  

The logo of the National Intelligence Manager-Aviation shows a series of aircraft as well as a UFO…. 

(5) WHERE CAPS BELONG. In a way it’s more of a thought experiment, interestingly constructed by Max Florschutz: “Being a Better Writer: The Problem With Proper Nouns in Sci-Fi and Fantasy” at Unusual Things.

See, the genesis of this post comes from my editing on Starforge. This titan of a book is now in the Beta phase, which means looking for typos, misspelled words, misplaced quotation marks, and all that jazz. However, it also means going through and ensuring proper capitalization of proper nouns. At which point, I ran into a bit of a conundrum. Said conundrum led me to Google, which in turn pointed me to this post from 2009 concerning a similar issue in Fantasy writing—though note that it does as well address Science Fiction as well.

Anyway, what is this conundrum? Well, before we dive into it directly, I have a sort of pop quiz for you. You can do it in your head, but if you’re really determined you can bring out a pen and pencil and do the classic grade-school exercise. It’ll only take a moment either way, but here we go. Correctly capitalize the following sentence:

“The terran vehicle rolled up the hill, backed by dozens of terran marines.”

That’s it. Got it? Placed those capital letters where they belong? Okay, check out the answers after the break….

(6) FIGURES OF FUN. Cora Buhlert brings us another “Masters-of-the-Universe-Piece Theatre: ‘Peeping Mantenna’”.

… Here we have He-Man and Skeletor in the style of the 2002 He-Man and the Masters of the Universe cartoon (currently streaming here), for which the designs of the characters were updated. I don’t normally buy all of the He-Man and Skeletor variants (and there are a lot of them), but I like these two, since they are quite different from the standard versions, including redesigned accessories. Though I’ll give 2002 Skeletor’s sword to my Keldor figure, since it actually is Keldor’s sword.

The third new arrival is Mantenna, a member of the Evil Horde and the closest thing Masters of the Universe has to a bug-eyed monster….

(7) TODAY’S RUNNER-UP. Steve Davidson suggested a Scroll title based on a children’s toy. He even provided art!

The Cow Says “Moo!” The Cat Says “Meow!” The Pixel Says “Scroll!”

(A “modified” image of a See-N-Say is below.)

(8) SUCCESSFUL CASTING. Gretchen Rue discusses her favorite TV witches. “The Most Underrated Witches in Media” at CrimeReads.

Supernatural is a hard show to discuss without needing to put an asterisk on all the things it did wrong. It was frequently toxic, misogynistic, and struggled mightily with its female characters who were all either victims or the embodiment of pure evil. Not exactly the most fertile grounds for growing relatable characters who fit the bill for underrated witches. And yet Supernatural has not one, but two of the most underrated witches in all of modern television. There is ongoing antagonist Rowena, who pesters and plagues the Winchesters over the course of multiple seasons, but Rowena, played by Ruth Connell, defies the regular run of the mill baddie legacy most other female villains on the show get saddled with. She Is funny, she has sexual agency, she is emotionally complex and has her own deep backstory that drives her to do the things she does beyond the standard demon-possession fare of most other women on the show. Rowena is a match for the Winchesters, and often an unwitting ally, and she gets to be smart, beautiful, and charismatic season after season. She is only underrated in that she has been somewhat overshadowed in popularity by similarly love-to-hate/hate-to-love demon Crowley….

(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.  

1987 [By Cat Eldridge.] ALF: The Animated Series (also known as ALF on Melmac) premiered on NBC thirty five years ago on a Saturday morning. Though it lasted two years which you would think would give it over fifty episodes, it had two seasons of just thirteen episodes instead. 

WARNING: PREACHING MODE ENGAGED

Interestingly it has a long runtime of thirty minute in an era where most cartoon series had twenty to twenty six minutes of time so that as much junky product as possible could be pushed unto the young viewing audience. Buy! Buy! Buy! Who cares about your teeth! 

PREACHING MODE OFF

It was created by Paul Fusco (the only acting talent who returned here.) He is the puppeteer and voice of ALF on ALF and was the creator, writer, producer, and director of the series, and Tom Pratchett, the co-creator of ALF who shows his most excellent taste by being involved in the writing of The Great Muppet Caper. If you’ve not seen the latter, it’s on Disney + right now.

(No, I’m not plugging Disney +. Just noting the Angry Mouse has a lot of interesting product in his vast pockets. I personally am avoiding Him like the bubonic plague for the time being.) 

Why the human characters didn’t appear is rather simple — the shows premise is that ALF is traveling to various places on his home-world of Melmac.  It was a prequel to the ALF, depicting ALF’s life back on his home planet of Melmac before it exploded. How well they did this ive no idea as I’ve not seen it.

Now want weird? Really frelling weird? It was paired with ALF Tales, a spin-off of this series, that had the astonishingly weird premise of characters from that series were playing various characters from fairy tales. Now this series only lasted twenty-one episodes. 

It apparently never got reviewed by the critics, not altogether surprisingly.  Amazon and Tubi, should you care, are streaming it. Personally I’d go watch ALF instead if I were you as it’s actually really great. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 26, 1866 Winsor McCay. Cartoonist and animator who’s best remembered for the Little Nemo strip which ran between The Wars and the animated Gertie the Dinosaur film which is the key frame animation cartoon which you can see here. He used the pen name Silas on his Dream of the Rarebit Fiend strip. That strip had no recurring characters or theme, just that a character has a nightmare or other bizarre dream after eating Welsh rarebit. What an odd concept. (Died 1934.)
  • Born September 26, 1872 Max Erhmann. Best remembered for his 1927 prose poem “Desiderata” which I have a framed copy hanging here in my work area. Yeah big fan. Genre connection? Well calling it “Spock Thoughts”, Nimoy recited the poem on Two Sides of Leonard Nimoy, his 1968 album. (Died 1945.)
  • Born September 26, 1941 Martine Beswick, 81. Though she auditioned for Dr. No, she was instead cast in From Russia with Love as Zora. She also appeared as Paula Caplan in Thunderball. She would appear in One Million Years B.C. opposite Raquel Welch.  She made several Hammer Studio films including Prehistoric Women and Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde.
  • Born September 26, 1944 Victoria Vetri, 78. I do have a very expansive definition of SF and she definitely gets here by being in the Sixties pulp film When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth as Sanna, and a lost world film called Chuka playing Helena Chavez. She’d also in be a bit of forgotten horror in the role of Rosemary’s Baby as Terry Gionoffrio. But actually she enters SF lore by way of a role she didn’t do. Vetri has been incorrectly identified in myriad sources as playing the role of the human form of a shape-shifting cat in the Trek’s “Assignment: Earth” episode, a role actually played by April Tatro. As she notes, she has brown eyes and that actress has blue eyes. She had a handful  of genre appearances — The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Batman as Florence of Arabia, Mission: Impossible and Land of Giants.
  • Born September 26, 1956 Linda Hamilton, 66. Best known for being Sarah Connor in The Terminator film franchise and Catherine Chandler in the Beauty and the Beast series. She also played Vicky Baxter in Children of the Corn, and Doctor Amy Franklin in King Kong Lives. She would be Acacia, a Valkyrie in “Delinquents” of the Lost Girl series, a role she would reprise in two more episodes, “End of a Line” and “Sweet Valkyrie High”.
  • Born September 26, 1957 Tanya Huff, 65. Her Confederation of Valor Universe series is highly recommended by me.  And I also give a strong recommendation to her Gale Family series. Let’s not forget the cat friendly Keeper’s Chronicles series. I’ve not read her other series, so I’ll ask y’all what you’d recommend.
  • Born September 26, 1968 Jim Caviezel, 54. John Reese on Person of Interest which CBS describes as a “crime drama”. Huh. He was also Detective John Sullivan in Frequency, and Kainan in Outlander. And yes he played Number Six in the unfortunate reboot of The Prisoner
  • Born September 26, 1985 Talulah Riley, 37. Miss Evangelista in “Silence in the Library” and “Forest of the Dead”, two Tenth Doctor stories. She also portrays Angela in Westworld, and she shows up in Thor: The Dark World as an Asgardian nurse. 

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) ROCKY HORROR. Today’s also the anniversary of this movie’s release:

(13) HIGHER GEAR. Inverse reminds us that “40 years ago, one sci-fi show had the most bizarre beginning in TV history”. Video clips at the link.

…Michael Long, we’re told, has a metal plate in his head — “probably from military surgery” — and this metal plate deflected the bullet away from his brain and into his face. He later emerges from reconstructive surgery all Hasslehoffed-up at the 11:57-minute mark. This means there’s been at least one commercial break before we even see Hasselhoff in Knight Rider.

Frankly, the fact that the show needed a talking car after that setup is fascinating. Today, if the premise of Knight Rider were floated as a prestige drama all about the nature of identity and the existence of false identities, you can’t imagine a studio executive saying, “Yeah, but what if he had a talking car, too?”

The soap opera-esque origin story of Michael Knight’s face was actually a brilliant starting point for the series. By Season 2 episode “Goliath,” we learn that there’s an evil version of Michael Knight — Garthe Knight — also played by Hasselhoff, with a small, sleazy mustache and a soul patch. (The fact he looks like Michael Knight is because Michael Knight’s new face was based on Garthe’s, not the other way around.)…

(14) IT’S ELEMENTRY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Entertainment Weekly discusses what happened when a scientist visited The Big Bang Theory set and found uranium!

…. During the tour, the physicist noticed one of the props in Leonard and Sheldon’s apartment. Prady says, “People always ask what that thing on the wall post was, it was this wooden box that was actually an antique Geiger counter. The physicist looks at it and goes, ‘That’s an old Geiger counter.'” (A Geiger counter is a device used to detect radiation).

It turns out the Geiger counter was more than just a unique prop….

(15) SCARY FOOD. Fortunately, these horrifying “Hallowieners” are baloney says Snopes.

(16) A WORLD UNBUILT. Arturo Serrano finds one that’s not so good: “Nanoreview: The Paper Museum by Kate S. Simpson” at Nerds of a Feather.

…The Paper Museum is a frustrating read. The microcosm inside the museum is described in abundant, at times excessive detail, while the world outside of it is a nebulous blank that may as well be made of air. Since we only follow Lydia, who basically never leaves the museum, the significance of a world without paper is lost because we never get to see that world…. 

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] This clip of Alasdair Beckett-King satirizing a “popular space show: appeared last year. “Every Episode of Popular Space Show™”.

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