Pixel Scroll 2/5/24 To Boldly Scroll Where No Fan Has Scrolled Before

(1) MCCARTY Q&A. Chris Barkley’s audio interview with Dave McCarty was published here overnight: “Barkley — So Glad You (Didn’t) Ask #81”. The audio recording is at Soundcloud. A transcript is here.

(2) SPARE CHANGE? The New Zealand Mint has a line of The Lord Of The Rings™ Collectible coins.

Set in the mythical world of Middle-earth, The Lord of The Rings fantasy saga follows hobbit Frodo Baggins, Samwise Gamgee and a fellowship of characters as they embark on a quest to destroy the One Ring. Considered one of the greatest works of the 21st century, its popularity has spawned numerous adaptions.

Return to Middle-earth with our limited-edition THE LORD OF THE RINGS™ coins. Made from pure gold or silver, they feature characters and landscapes from the epic fantasy adventure films. Crafted in fine detail with themed packaging, they make the perfect memento for any fan!

Famed Middle-Earth locations feature in these gold coins.

And the silver series includes one with Gollum. Heads he wins, tails you lose!

(3) LEST GRIMDARKNESS FALL. [Item by Anne Marble.] Sebastian Milbank, in an article for the British magazine The Critic (called a “contrarian conservative magazine”) refers to “grimdark” as “Grimdull” — and seems to think they are both “liberal” and “leftist.” (Umm, those are not the same thing.) The article also flings darts at Michael Moorcock and Phillip Pullman. And it calls Breaking Bad grimdark?! Boy, does this article ever make a lot of assumptions about the writers (and readers) of grimdark! And it uses a lot of words in which to do so.

For those unblessed (or uncursed) with an interest in contemporary fantasy, the phrase “Grimdark” may suggest the name of some 2000s era Goth club. It’s a recent coinage for an ongoing craze in “gritty” and dark fantasy settings, epitomised and popularised by George RR Martin, becoming the default tone for a whole range of feted fantasy offerings from Joe Abercrombie’s First Law series featuring a dark, brooding protagonist who kills a lot of people — and occasionally feels bad about it — to Mark Lawrence’s Broken Empire Trilogy featuring a dark, brooding protagonist who kills a lot of people — and occasionally feels bad about it.

It’s a genre with a number of consistent features. It’s generally in a mediaeval fantasy setting, but shorn of any romance. Characters are overwhelmingly cynical, and those few who exhibit nobility are treated as foolish or naive. Generally a chaotic war is happening, or about to happen. Religion features, but largely as a tool of social control, often portrayed (usually with some real effort given the baseline awfulness) as even more cruel and cynical than the secular world around it. Dark observations about human nature substitute for any moral drama, with characters seeking to outwit, manipulate or overpower one another in a kind of Darwinian struggle for dominance.

It’s a script born of vaguely liberal, vaguely radical, vaguely anarchic sentiments common to most contemporary creative “industries”. But fantasy, with its over escapism and heroic aristocratic setting, presents something of a problem. This is the inner tension of left wing fantasy — how can a genre defined by apparent escapism not end up serving reactionary ends?…

Grimdark author Joe Abercrombie has a very concise takedown:

(4) ALERT FOR CONVENTION EMAIL RUNNERS. Andrew Trembley shared this alert on Facebook.

For y’all running conventions and running convention email, if you haven’t set up SPF, DKIM and DMARC, you need to do it yesterday. If you’re reading this on Monday, February 5, literally yesterday, because today is the day Google and Yahoo started refusing mail from many email services that have failed to implement SPF, DKIM and DMARC.

(ETA long version, did not include in the share)

I’m seeing people saying “Google is starting to block more non-Gmail senders.” Now they’re right from the perspective they’re looking at this from, but they’re not seeing the whole picture.

It’s not non-Gmail senders. It’s also not just Gmail.

So what is happening? Bear with me, this is long…

(5) MARY SOON LEE Q&A. Space Cowboy Books hosts an “Online Reading and Interview with Mary Soon Lee” on Tuesday, February 6 at 6:00 p.m. Pacific. Register for free HERE.

How-to astronomy poetry to answer vexing questions such as How to Surprise Saturn, How to Blush Like Betelgeuse, and How to Survive a Black Hole.

“Unraveling meaning from partial glimpses of the universe has preoccupied astronomers for thousands of years. Mary Soon Lee’s remarkable collection of poetry traces this journey, capturing the wonder of the celestial bodies that comprise our universe, the elegance of the rules that guide its evolution and the humanity of those who search to better our understanding.” -Andy Connolly, Professor of Astronomy, University of Washington

Mary Soon Lee is a Grand Master of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Poetry Association, and has won the Rhysling Award, the Elgin Award, and the AnLab Readers’ Award. Her work has appeared in Science, American Scholar, Spillway, Asimov’s Science Fiction, and Strange Horizons. This is her second collection of science poetry, following on from Elemental Haiku: Poems to honor the periodic table three lines at a time. Born and raised in London, she now lives in Pittsburgh.

(6) FAN FALLOUT. The Seattle 2025 Worldcon committee answered a query on Facebook by saying that neither Dave McCarty nor anyone else from the Chengdu Worldcon team will be involved with their Hugo Awards.

(7) SALAM AWARD OPEN FOR SUBMISSIONS. The Salam Award, which promotes imaginative fiction in and about Pakistan, reminds Pakistani writers they have until midnight July 31 to submit entries for the award. See full guidelines at this link. Participants must either be currently residing in Pakistan, or be of Pakistani birth/descent.

(8) DANISH COMPLETIST. “Modstand og håb” at Superkultur is written in Danish, however, Lise Andreasen has provided an English translation in the first comment.

Niels Dalgaard is a patient man – not only in his persistent attempt to collect all the science fiction that has been published in odd corners of the Danish publishing world, but more specifically in this case in his project: to read through the approximately 250 novels that has been published in Danish, which can be placed in the category “youth dystopias”….

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born February 5, 1941 Stephen J. Cannell. I have come this Scroll to talk of not cabbages and kings but a man who as a mystery writer showed up regularly playing poker as himself in the Castle series with Nathan Fillion as Richard Castle — Stephen J. Cannell. James Patterson, Michael Connelly, and Dennis Lehane were the other such writers here. I’ll talk about his work as a novelist later. 

Nathan Fillion as mystery writer Richard Castle, playing poker with real-life authors Michael Connelly, James Patterson and Stephen J Cannell.

The Zorro rip-off, scripted in its one season by him, The Night Rider, described by IMDB this way, “A refined New Orleans gentleman becomes a masked crimefighter by night, both to uphold law and order and to find the men who murdered his family in order to get their silver mine” is genre the same The Shadow or Doc Savage is in that it’s pulp.

Between that series and what I’m about to note next, scripting shows, the good, the bad and the truly awful made him very wealthy. So he got to produce a series that he said was one he’d to do a very long time ago — The Greatest American Hero.  You know the story of it so I want go into deep detail here, but suffice it to say that he was very happy with its success.

Veering way out of genre, I’m going to note he created Baa Baa Black Sheep (which was renamed Black Sheep Squadron for the second season for reasons unknown by the Powers That Be), a series I really liked.

I’ll note next 21 Jump Street which he created with Patrick Hasburgh which was about the cases of an undercover police unit composed of really great looking young officers specializing in youth crime. Definitely not genre, so why mention it? Because that featured Johnny Depp who would later do so many genre performances. And yes, he’d done one before this series as Greg Lantz in A Nightmare on Elm Street.

He loved making low budget horror films such as The Demon HunterThe Fairy and Left in Darkness. All shot on all cheap budgets (and this is after he became very wealthy), shot on locations you wouldn’t go without security in armor and shot fast enough you’d suspect use of interesting drugs to keep everyone alert, there’s more than makes sense of these in his IMDB listings. Stephen, you devil. Possibly literally.

Now about that poker game on Castle. All four of those players are there because they are mystery writers. Cannell wrote a series of novels about Shane Scully who was a detective in the LAPD force. I don’t know if they actually played poker in those scenes but I suspect they did. 

(10) SATISFIED FAN. Cora Buhlert heaps praise on a He-Man adaptation: “The Revolution Will Be Televised: Some Thoughts on Masters of the Universe Revolution”.

…So I watched Revelation and it turned out to be not just some nostalgic fun, but so much more. Here was the He-Man story I always wanted to see, a series which took the characters seriously in all their beautiful absurdity and found new depths in them and even managed to make me cry (something western animation in general very rarely does – crying is for anime), while also harkening back to the early 20th SFF which had inspired Masters of the Universe in the first place. Plus, the animation was gorgeous and finally looked as good as the Filmation cartoon looked in my memory, but never in reality, and the voice cast was stellar….

(11) GROUNDHOG DAY CAST REUNION. “Bill Murray celebrates ‘Harold Ramis Day’ Groundhog Day” at CBS Chicago.

This Groundhog Day, Woodstock Willie did not see his shadow — and thus said we should expect an early spring this year.

But at a ceremony in Chicago on Friday, a groundhog named Chicago Harry did not agree.

But first off, why is there a groundhog prognosticating on the trajectory of winter in Woodstock, Illinois? The answer, of course, is that in the 1993 film “Groundhog Day,” Woodstock stood in for Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania — home of Groundhog Day celebrations since the 1880s.

Ever since the movie came out 31 years ago, Woodstock Willie has been up there with Punxsutawney Phil in the real Punxsutawney among large-rodent long-range winter forecasters.

Members of the cast of the iconic film reunited for the first time at Navy Pier Friday, marking 31 years since the film was released. But Friday was also about honoring Harold Ramis and commemorating 10 years since his death….

…”I think it’s great that we’re here and, I don’t want to be too Irish, but it’s very nice of Harold to make it a very nice, mild day for today,” Murray said. “He’s up there stirring the clouds around, making that low pressure move out to Indiana and just drenching, ruining those people’s lives over there in Indiana.”

Ramis’ wife, Erica, was in attendance, beaming with pride as many spoke wonders about her husband. She even read a letter from former President Barack Obama encouraging people to enjoy the day as Ramis would. 

The ceremony included re-enactments of Punxsutawney festival emcee Buster Green (Brian Doyle-Murray) knocking at the tree stump with his cane, where a groundhog named Chicago Harry made his prediction.

Ken Hudson Campbell (“man in hallway”), Robin Duke (Doris the waitress), Marita Geraghty (Nancy Taylor), Richard Henzel (the DJ), Don Rio McNichols (drum player), David Pasquesi (the psychiatrist), and Peggy Roeder (the piano teacher) were also in attendance.

And unlike Woodstock Willie, and Punxsutawney Phil, Chicago Harry saw his shadow — and predicted six more weeks of winter after all.

(12) GOING ROGUE. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Just learned that the 2000AD strip Rogue Trooper film is at last moving forward. Director Duncan (Moon, Source Code) Jones teased about this back in 2018 and it now looks like a cast is being pulled together. “Duncan Jones’ Rogue Trooper Movie Cast Announced, Including Hayley Atwell, Sean Bean, and Matt Berry” at IGN.

The cast for Rogue Trooper, the upcoming movie from Moon and Warcraft director Duncan Jones, has been announced. The animated adaptation of the classic 2000 AD comic will be headlined by Aneurin Barnard, Hayley Atwell, and Jack Lowden, and will also feature a number of other well-known British stars such as Sean Bean.

Aneurin Barnard, who previously starred in The Goldfinch and Dunkirk, plays the titular Rogue Trooper, a blue-skinned, genetically-engineered soldier fighting on the toxic battlefields of a seemingly never-ending war. The sole survivor of a massacre that killed his squadmates, he’s on the hunt for the traitor that arranged their deaths. He does this with the aid of three of his killed-in-action squadmates, whose digital personalities still remain conscious after death and are uploaded into Rogue’s gun, helmet, and backpack….

(13) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Science Futurism with Isaac Arthur this week took a look at Death Worlds. These are planets on which, once you land, they set out to kill you.  Unlike most of Isaac Arthur’s episodes (other than his monthly ‘Sci-Fi Sundays’) which have a (highly speculative) science take, this one has as much a science fictional approach, starting as it does with the legendary Harry Harrison’s DeathWorld series of the 1960s. Along the way, he gives us a number of SFnal examples… So, pour a mug of builders and sit back for a half-hour episode (it won’t kill you)…

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

Pixel Scroll 1/15/24 The Hypoteneuse of the Squares Of The City Is Equal To The Fifths Of The Other Two Scrolls

(1) BRINGING UP THE REAR. Cora Buhlert’s latest Masters-of-the-Universe-Piece Theatre story is “In Exile”.

… “And then I said, ‘With all due respect, Your Majesty – not that I think you’re due any – you can kiss my…”

“Malcolm, please tell me you didn’t tell the King to kiss your arse?”

“Oh, I was very polite. I said butt.”

“Sigh. Malcolm, you’re unbelievable.”…

(2) SIMULTANEOUS TIMES. Space Cowboy Books presents episode 71 of the Simultaneous Times podcast. Stories featured in this episode:

“Cynscout” by KC Grifant with music by Phog Masheeen

“The Almost-Activation of Ruby Valentine’s Catastrophe Machine” by Jenna Hanchey with music by Fall Precauxions

(3) A NEIGHBORHOOD OF DOCTORS. [Item by Steven French.] An interview with the 12th Doctor: “’The government has been too terrible to make fun of’: Peter Capaldi on satire, politics and privilege” in the Guardian.

…Capaldi became famous as the permanently angry spin doctor Malcolm Tucker in the BBC comedy The Thick of It, which ran from 2005 to 2012 and, after that, between 2013 and 2017, he played the sternest, least imp-ish Doctor Who in decades. In his new Apple TV show, a police procedural called Criminal Record, which Capaldi co-produced with his wife, Elaine Collins, he stars as an ageing detective: another scowler. Now, coffee in hand, he smiles affectionately. So, did he bump into any other Doctor Whos this morning? “David [Tennant, 10th Doctor] used to live in Crouch End, near me. Matt [Smith, 11th Doctor] lives around here. Jodie [Whittaker, 13th Doctor] is nearby, Christopher [Eccleston, 9th Doctor] too, I think.” But no, no encounters with his fellow alumni this morning, Capaldi says….

(4) CHENGDU WORLDCON ROUNDUP. [By Ersatz Culture.] A few recent-ish Chengdu-related items ahead of the release of the Hugo nomination statistics.  NB: with a couple of exceptions, all of the links below are to Chinese language pages.

Chengdu con reports posted by Zero Gravity

A couple of days ago, RiverFlow posted updates to Twitter about the next issues of the Hugo winning fanzine, Zero Gravity.

https://twitter.com/heliu79457845/status/1745951117052453156

Several of the reports which (presumably) will appear in the upcoming issues have already been posted online.  Whilst I don’t think there are any previously-unheard revelations, they do provide further insight into the varying experiences that domestic attendees had.  In the order that they’ve been published online:

The last item isn’t really a con report as such; it’s more of an article about Brian Aldiss’ relationship with China.  It has an interesting tidbit that in 1979 Aldiss was part of a British delegation that had an audience with future-leader Deng Xiaoping.  This meeting was apparently captured on video, and the author ponders whether the recording might still be lurking in a vault somewhere.

WSJ China features science fiction in their review of the year

In December, the Chinese edition of The Wall Street Journal published the first of a series of articles about notable events in 2023, entitled “Recording the ‘Year of Science Fiction’: Is this year really a new starting point for Chinese science fiction?”  It opens (via Google Translate, with minor manual edits):

In years to come, when people look back on 2023, they will surely notice the weight of science fiction in it.

Since the beginning of the year, there has been the popularity of the movie “The Wandering Earth 2” and the [Chinese, not Netflix] TV adaptation of “The Three-Body Problem”.  “Journey to the West” with only a 2 million yuan [around $300k USD] budget unexpectedly earned over 60 million yuan [around $8.4m USD] at the box office. Phenomenal movies, topics such as the universe, the metaverse, and artificial intelligence continue to gain popularity. Science fiction themes in literary creation are experiencing a “big explosion” in China. People are increasingly talking about the impact of the Internet on everyday life.  Consider the changes that the rapid development of science and technology has had on people…

This year, following Liu Cixin and Hao Jingfang respectively winning the Hugo Awards for Best Novel in 2015, and Best Novelette in 2016, there was once again a Chinese winner, Hai Ya, who won this year’s Hugo Award for Best Novelette. Winning [a Hugo] is highest honor for international science fiction writing.

People can’t help but wonder, did the golden age of European and American science fiction end in the last century? Has the secret to its resurrection been found in China today?

The core focus of the piece is the Chengdu Worldcon, and there’s a fair bit about the Chinese Hugo winners – although Enzhe Zhao is seemingly ignored – but the absence of any details or photos from the event makes me think that the author of the article was not in attendance.  There’s also a fair amount about the wider Chinese SF publishing industry.

New Year’s Day run in the vicinity of the con venue

January 1st saw a “welcome run” take place in the grounds of the SF Museum that was the venue for the Worldcon, as reported on Weibo by the Sports Chengdu account.  To the best of my knowledge, there have been no activities in the actual museum itself since the con – other than the Lukyanenko visit covered in a couple of earlier Scrolls – and no future events have been announced, other than the Chinese Nebula/Xingyun conference, previously covered in the December 12th Scroll.

(5) HOWARD WALDROP (1946-2024). Writer Howard Waldrop, creator of many brilliant short sff stories, died of a stroke on January 14 at the age of 77. Howard Waldrop’s classic “The Ugly Chickens” (1980) won a Nebula and World Fantasy Award. Waldrop was also recognized with a World Fantasy lifetime achievement award.

He was a wildly popular program participant at cons. His presentation “Howard Waldrop’s Condensed Cream of 1950s Science Fiction Movies” involved acting out key scenes from a lot of the movies. For 3-D movies, he hid under the table and threw wadded-up paper at the audience. He also was an unsurpassed live reader of his own stories.

Lawrence Person’s Waldrop obituary is especially recommended. However, there is no better introduction to Howard than the one he wrote himself for the now-shuttered SFF Net.

Are they science fiction? Are they fantasy? Are they alternate history? Are they from Mars or from Venus?

In the 1970s and 1980s, Howard Waldrop’s disorientingly strange/familiar stories made him a famous unknown writer.

They racked up best-of-the-year inclusions and award nominations, sometimes several stories a year in different categories. “Custer’s Last Jump” and “Mary Margaret Roadgrader” were nominated for the Nebula in 1977. In 1980, “The Ugly Chickens” captured both the Nebula and the World Fantasy Award, and narrowly evaded the Hugo. In 1983, “Ike at the Mike” was up for the Hugo. In 1986, two Waldrop stories, “Flying Saucer Rock and Roll” and “Heirs of the Perisphere,” were nominated for the same Nebula award, placing hardcore Waldrop fans in a schizophrenia-inducing double-bind.

Amid such celebrity, Waldrop himself continued to live below poverty level, volunteering for a top-secret study that helped determine the nutritional limits of using integrity as hamburger helper. As part of this historic experiment, he once pulled a story that had already sold to a big-bucks market in order to place it elsewhere for half the price.

Occasionally stories slipped through to higher-paying markets — PlayboyOmni, and the like. Howard compensated for these lapses of vigilance by selling his books only to very-high-quality small presses or to publishers who could be counted on not to distribute them.

Award nominations kept racking up: 1987, “The Lions are Asleep This Night,” for the Nebula. 1988, “Night of the Cooters” for the Hugo. 1989, “Do Ya, Do Ya Wanna Dance” for the Nebula, and 1990, “A Dozen Tough Jobs,” for the same.

And now, SFF.NET, bless its heart, has brought Howard Waldrop to the World Wide Web. So thanks to the wonders of cyberspace, to Howard’s uniquely contrarian marketing savvy, and to his inability to keep his stories off the awards short-lists, Howard Waldrop is now a legendary unknown writer.

Nor should it be forgotten that Waldrop wrote what became the Wild Cards universe’s origin story, “Thirty Minutes Over Broadway” (which I think of as “Jetboy’s Last Adventure”). Bradley Denton got Howard to tell how that happened in “Fifty Minutes Over Manchaca (now Menchaca) Road!”

…HW:  You’ll recall in “The Annotated Jetboy,” where I talk about Danny Deck writing the biography of Jetboy?  Danny Deck is the hero of Larry McMurtry’s novel All My Friends Are Going to Be Strangers.  And of course he writes Godot Is My Co-Pilot: A Life of Jetboy.

…Anyway, I was gonna do the Jetboy story about the A-bomb for Jessica Amanda Salmonson, and either Lew or Bud (sf authors Lewis Shiner and Walton “Bud” Simons, both Austin-based at the time, like Howard), I can’t remember which, said, “You should talk to George.  George and that bunch in New Mexico have been playing a superhero role-playing game, and they’ve spent so much time and money on it that they’re trying to find a way to turn it into a book.  You oughta tell him about this Jetboy thing, because it sounds like something that would fit in there.”  If it was Lew I was talkin’ to, he told me to call Bud, and if it was Bud I was talkin’ to, he told me to call Lew.  One or the other of ‘em knew more about it than the other one did, right?

See, I didn’t even know about this.  George hadn’t mentioned it to me in a letter or anything.  So I wrote to George, and I said, “I’ve got a story that might fit with whatever goddamn thing you’re doing.  You should tell me about it.”

So he sent me the prototype Cut and Shuffle, which was all about what was going on in the Wild Cards world before anyone else even knew what it was.  And I said, “Yeah, that sounds about right, I can work with that.  But your timeline is all wrong.”  See, they were gonna start it in the 1980s, with the world having gone on for thirty years.

BD:  Oh, so they weren’t initially going to do an origin story?  They were going to jump into the world of Wild Cards three decades on?

HW:  Right, exactly.  I said, “That’s all wrong!  You gotta tell how all this came about!”  So I got them to tell me all the stuff about Dr. Tachyon, and the virus, and the whole thing, y’know.  And I stuck it sideways into the Jetboy/A-bomb story, and sent it to George.

And of course George says, “When we send you stuff, you should read it!  You got all this stuff wrong!”  I said, “Ah, that’s your job!  You can fix that!”

And he did!

Howard Waldrop

(6) TOM PURDOM (1936-2024). Tom Purdom died January 14. He was 85.

His first published short story, “Grieve for a Man”, appeared in the August, 1957 Fantastic Universe. His first novel was I Want the Stars (1964). His other novels include Five Against Arlane, and The Barons of Behavior. His literary memoir, When I Was Writing, appeared in installments in The New York Review of Science Fiction.

From 1990 to 2023 he had almost three dozen short stories published in Asimov’s.

He served as a Vice President of SFWA in its early years.

His wife, Sara, predeceased him in 2006. He is survived by his son, Christopher.

Filer Mark Roth-Whitworth knew him, and shared these memories on Facebook:

I’ve known the Purdoms since the late Sixties. He was a constant in Philly fandom. In the late seventies, he and his late wife Sara had house parties, as did Winona and her ex, Tom Smith and Viv, and later, when my ex (Morgan’s mother) and I bought a house in the area, we all rotated – was it every Friday but second (the PSFS meeting) having an open house. Michael Swanwick would show sometimes, and then there was the late David Sherman. Not sure when, but Tom built a small harpsichord from a kit.

And he was always there, his loud baritone… and now he’s gone.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born January 15, 1974 Shaun Tan, 50. Australian-born and resident Shaun Tan’s one of my favorite artist and writers. Not just for his work which is extraordinarily wonderful, but for being a really nice individual. Tan was an easy choice for the Birthday for this Scroll.

His fiction is all YA. It’s all illustrations with words. Or not, sometimes. Think school libraries as where you’ll find it in Australia. Children love him. School librarians adore him just as much.  

So now some selected works by him that I’ve enjoyed.

The Haunted Playground also known as The Playground would do Stephen King proud if King wrote children’s literature (I don’t think he’s written any, has he?) with one male encountering a larger group of males on a playground that are not what they seem to be. Truly chilling. 

The Arrival has a man coming from a city that might or might not be in Eastern Europe to what might or might not be New York City. The city is awesomely depicted as steampunk. Did I mention that it has no spoken narrative?

The Lost Thing is set in the near future, a dystopian Melbourne. It’s  is a story about Shaun, a kid who doesn’t quite fit in anywhere. And he found something that doesn’t fit in either. (SPOILER ALERT. GO AWAY FOR A AWHILE.) There’s a secret utopia out there. Really there. (YOU CAN COME BACK BACK NOW.) 

It was adapted into a fifteen-minute animated short film which was directed him and Andrew Ruhemann and narrated by Tim Minchin. It won the Oscar for Best Animated Short.

One he didn’t do himself as creator is The Stray Cat, a tale of the supernatural horror by writer Steve Paulsen with rather macabre illustrations by him. The cat, a black cat of course, is scarily drawn.

Librarians have constantly praised Tan for understanding children and being willing to give generously of his time to meet with them. 

Those illustrated works are an excellent representation of his works. Now let’s talk about his Awards. Usually I mention Hugos first but I want to note the Awards that the folks who in children’s books gave him.

No, I forgot an Award, what was it! Ahhhh that one. He won the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award from the Swedish Arts Council, considered by everyone in children’s literature to be the major Award in the field.

In our community, he got the Hugo for Best Professional Artist at Aussiecon 4 (nice to win at home, isn’t it?), again at Renovation, nominated for two more at Anticipation and Denvention 3.  

There were three World Fantasy Awards first Best Artist and another nomination. I can’t count the number of Ditmar Awards and nominations that he received. Seriously it’s that many.

Shaun Tan accepts Astrid Lindgren Award.

(8) IT IS THE END, MY FRIEND. “Peregrine moon lander and its cargo will likely burn up in Earth’s atmosphere” reports Engadget.

It looks like the Peregrine lunar lander’s final resting place will be back at home where it started. The doomed spacecraft, which experienced an anomaly shortly after launch and has been leaking propellant ever since, is expected to burn up in Earth’s atmosphere, Astrobotic wrote in an update on X this weekend. The company plans to host a press conference with NASA on Thursday January 18 at 12PM ET to discuss the lander’s fate.

And when that happens, all the SFnal cremains aboard will burn up on re-entry. LiveScience lists the notables whose DNA is aboard: “Peregrine moon lander carrying human remains doomed after ‘critical loss’ of propellant”.

Controversially, the spacecraft is also carrying human remains, including those of science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke; Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry; Roddenberry’s wife, Majel Barrett; and Nichelle Nichols, James Doohan and DeForest Kelley, who played Nyota Uhura, Montgomery Scott and Dr. Leonard McCoy, respectively, on the classic sci-fi show. Stored alongside these remains are samples of DNA of the U.S. presidents George Washington, Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, and Ronald Reagan.

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

Pixel Scroll 11/13/23 Yesterday, Upon A Scroll, I Met A Pixel Who Wasn’t There

(1) MAYBE “COYOTE” ISN’T DEAD YET. “I’m feeling better!”Deadline reports “Coyote vs. Acme: Warner Bros Showing Pic to Amazon, Apple For Acquisition”.

Screenings are being set up this week for streamers Amazon Prime Video, Apple and Netflix to check out and potentially acquire Warner Bros‘ axed Looney Tunes movie Coyote vs. Acme after the studio’s phone ran off the hook the entire weekend from angry filmmakers and talent reps over their third feature film kill after Batgirl and Scoob Holiday Haunt!

The more egregious Hollywood sin with Coyote vs. Acme is that it’s a finished film was intended for a theatrical release, while the other two movies were still in the works.

Of those kicking the tires, even though no deals have been drafted, I hear Amazon is a leading contender given the fact that Courtenay Valenti, the Head of Film, Streaming and Theatrical for Amazon Studios and MGM, was a big champion and linchpin for the movie while she was President of Production and Development at Warner Bros. All of this boils down to Head of Amazon Studios Jen Salke’s signoff, I understand. During the pandemic, Prime Video acquired Sony’s family titles Hotel Transylvania 4 and Cinderella, among other movies. Amazon has been known to take finished films off the table for $100M and turn them into events for Prime Video….

(2) SFPA OFFICER ELECTION RESULTS. The Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association has tallied the votes and announced that starting January 1, 2024, John Philip Johnson will be SFPA Secretary and Jordan Hirsch will be SFPA Treasurer.

(3) ULTRAMAN ARRIVING IN 2024. “The First Ultraman: Rising Trailer Looks Incredible” says Yahoo!

Ultraman is one of Japan’s biggest superheroes – both figuratively and literally – but outside of Japan the hero’s popularity hasn’t quite hit fever pitch. Netflix’s newest film could change all that, if the first trailer for Ultraman: Rising is anything to go by, as it looks absolutely incredible.

Netflix released the first trailer for the CG animated film Ultraman: Rising last night, as part of its annual Geeked Week celebrations. The trailer shows off a rebooted Ultraman, a gigantic super-powered hero that’s the powered-up form of baseball superstar Ken Sato.

As the story goes, Ken comes back to Japan to take up his duties as the biggest superhero on the planet, promptly defeating a large, dragon-like kaiju. In the trailer, he retrieves a mysterious orb from the monster, only to discover it’s an egg — and it hatches into the child of his greatest foe…

(4) LEARNEDLEAGUE CALENDAR. [Item by David Goldfarb.] Here are LearnedLeague One-Day Special quizzes scheduled for 2024, that relate to SF and fantasy. Some are specifically SFF-related, some are genre-adjacent. I’ll list both.

SFF-related:

  • Spaceballs: The One-Day Special!  Jan 9
  • The Sandman  Jan 10
  • The X-Men   May 8
  • Folk Horror Films  May 13
  • Science Fiction Homeworlds  Jul 20
  • Mars in Popular Culture  Jul 23
  • Studio Ghibli  Jul 23
  • Faerie Tale Theatre  Aug 6
  • Brandon Sanderson’s Cosmere  Aug 7
  • Murderbot for Everyone  Aug 21
  • Elemental Masters (probably? Mercedes Lackey has a series with that title, but it could be about something else with a similar name)  Oct 7
  • The Silmarillion   Oct 10 (we’ve had 3 quizzes already about The Lord of the Rings, so now we move on to The Silmarillion)
  • Godzilla  Oct 14
  • Just Audio Horror Pairings  Oct 16
  • Jurassic Park  Oct 17
  • Just Images Portals  Oct 28
  • Romance Novels 3: Super Friendly Monsters  Oct 31
  • Science of Science Fiction 2  Nov 4
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation  Nov 7

Genre-Adjacent:

  • Polyamory  Jan 12
  • Video Game Weaponry  Jan 22
  • Homestuck  Feb 7
  • Year of the Dragon (possibly? not 100% clear what this one is about)  Feb 8
  • Secret Identities  Mar 25
  • DuckTales  Apr 9
  • Nanotechnology  Apr 10
  • Chemicals I Won’t Work With  Apr 13
  • Asteroids  Apr 15
  • Horror Hosts  Apr 15
  • Fictional Religions  May 15 (not clear how this will differ from Fictional Theology)
  • Science Theater  Jul 15
  • Tintin Comics  Jul 18
  • Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall Trilogy  Oct 10
  • Mercury 7 Astronauts  Nov 7

I’m particularly looking forward to Cosmere, Homeworlds, Murderbot, and Science of SF. (I was part of a 10-way tie for champion of the first “Science of Science Fiction” quiz.)

(5) WHO MAY GIVE YOUNG VIEWERS THE CREEPS? “Doctor Who showrunner Russell T Davies issues warning to parents ahead of anniversary specials” and The Independent boosts the signal.

Doctor Who’s returning showrunner Russell T Davies has issued a warning to parents about “dark” and “violent” content in the show’s forthcoming episodes.

… Of the three episodes, series opener The Star Beast, which airs on 25 November and centres on a furry creature called a Meep (voiced by Miriam Margolyes), is the most child-friendly, Davies explained.

“It is like a great big Pixar family film, like a bank holiday film – all the family watching, lots of laughs, a funny monster,” he said.

However, the following two episodes will not be appropriate for children, Davies warned. “The second one, Wild Blue Yonder, is darker. Not scary – it’s genuinely weird,” he said.

“We do very scary stuff. Some stuff is quite violent. It’s not for children, it’s about children.”…

(6) LOKI SEASON 2 BOX SCORE. Deadline has the viewership numbers: “’Loki’ Season 2 Finale Pulls In 11.2M Views, +3% From Opener”.

Marvel Studios’ season 2 finale of Loki went out with a blast attracting 11.2M global views over three-days, which is +3% from the season 2 first episode 3-day draw of 10.9M.

Loki‘s season 2 kickoff was the second most-watched season premiere this year on Disney+, behind March’s season 3 premiere of The Mandalorian.

The finale of the Marvel Studios series—which concluded last Thursday—was only behind the season three finale of The Mandalorian, which wrapped up its season in April….

(7) OUROBOROS Q&A. “Ke Huy Quan Discusses Loki Season 2 Finale & His Marvel Entry” at Deadline. Beware spoilers.

DEADLINE: It’s so great to get to talk with you about Loki. You haven’t really been able to talk about your role, due to the actors strike. What have you been waiting to say?

KE HUY QUAN: When I decided to become an actor again, [being part of the MCU] was at the top of my wishlist…They all welcomed me with wide open arms, and I was so happy. I was patiently waiting for the show to come out so we can go and celebrate it and tell the fans. Then, of course, the strike happened. I just want to tell everybody how proud of the show I am. How happy I am with it. And working with Tom Hiddleston, Owen Wilson, the entire Loki family has just been incredible. We made this last year in London. I was there for four months, my wife and I were there. It was one of the best four months of my life. I’ve done a few shows before, and this was the first time where I didn’t want it to end. I was so happy. In fact, I’ll tell you this. We were scheduled for reshoots this February, and I was waiting. My wife and I were looking forward to spending more time in London and with our Loki family. And all of a sudden we were told, ‘Oh, we don’t need any reshoots. It’s all good.’ I was kind of disappointed. I was actually disappointed that we didn’t get to go back because of how much fun we had… So we made history. We make history two times. One is the first series of Marvel getting a second season and the second is the first time a Marvel show didn’t have any reshoots. I’m so proud of that….

(8) MICHAEL BISHOP (1945-2023). Beloved sff author Michael Bishop died November 13, the day following his 78th birthday, after a prolonged stay in hospice care. His daughter made the announcement on Facebook.

…It is with great sadness (and yet relief for my dad) that I post with the news that Daddy breathed his last breath early this morning with my mom by his side. He is at peace and free from pain AND we miss him terribly already….

He made such an immediate and strong impression on the field that he was presented DeepSouthCon’s Phoenix Award for lifetime achievement in 1977, less than a decade after his first work was published.

By the time his career was over, Bishop was a 17-time Nebula finalist, winning Best Novelette for “The Quickening” in 1982 and Best novel for No Enemy But Time in 1983. He was also a 9-time Hugo finalist, though never won.

His versatility was proven by the other awards he received. His short story “The Pile” won a 2009 Shirley Jackson Award. His novel Unicorn Mountain won the Mythopoeic Award for Best Fantasy in 1989. His poem “For the Lady of a Physicist” won a 1979 Rhysling Award. He was also a four-time Locus Award winner.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 13, 1850 Robert Louis Stevenson. Author of Treasure IslandStrange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and the New Arabian Nights collection of short stories.  Internet Movie Database gives over three hundred productions that have been based off of his works. What are your favorite ones? And I’m not even going to get into the deeps of genre fiction based off just the Strange Case of Dr Jekyll as I know Theodora Goss was making use of that story in one of her series and Simon R. Green had Hydes in his Nightside series. Not to mention Bugs Bunny… (Died 1894.)
  • Born November 13, 1887 A. R. Tilburne. Pulp artist who by 1938 was selling cover illustrations to Short Stories and Weird Tales such as the November 1938 issue of the latter, and in the 1940s he also drew many interior story illustrations for Weird Tales. In 1947 he painted the cover for H. P. Lovecraft’s The Lurking Fear, published by Avon paperback books. (Died 1965.)
  • Born November 13, 1888 Philip Francis Nowlan. He’s best known as the creator of Buck Rogers. While working in Philadelphia, he created and wrote the Buck Rogers comic strip, illustrated by Dick Calkins. Philip Nowlan working for the syndicate John F. Dille Company, later known as the National Newspaper Service syndicate, was contracted to adapt the story into a comic strip. The Buck Rogers strip made its first newspaper appearance on January 7, 1929, but the first appearance of “Anthony Rogers” was actually in Amazing Stories in August of 1928 in the “Armageddon—2419 A. D.” Story there with cover illustration by Frank R. Paul. (Died 1940.)
  • Born November 13, 1945 Pierre Pelot, 78. A French writer who wrote fourteen science fiction novels and seven horror novels including space operas. Only But What If Butterflies Cheat? (its English translation title) is available in English so far. It’s part of the might exist The Child Who Walked on the Sky / But What If Butterflies Cheat? omnibus as I failed to find it anywhere including Amazon and any of the places that resell books online. He was nominated for a dozen Grand Prix de l’Imaginaire Awards winning two. 
  • Born November 13, 1955 Brenda Clough, 68. She was nominated for a Hugo at ConJosé for her “May Be Some Time” novella. I’m very fond of her fantasy Averidan series. Though very much not genre, I recommend her A Most Dangerous Woman, a sequel to The Woman in White by Wilkie Collin. It’s a serial on Realm which you can find at the usual suspects. 
  • Born November 13, 1957 Stephen Baxter, 66. Ok I’m going to confess that the only thing I’ve read that he’s written is the Long Earth series with Terry Pratchett.  I’ve only read the first three but they are quite great SF!  Ok I really, really need your help to figure out what else of his that I should consider reading.  To say he’s been a prolific writer is somewhat of an understatement and he’s gotten a bonnie bunch of awards as well though no Hugos.  It’s worth noting that Baxter’s story “Last Contact” was nominated for a Hugo for best short story at Denvention 3 as were The Time Ships as L.A. Con III, “Moon Six” novellette at BucConeer, “On the Orion Line” novellette  and “The Gravity Mine” short story at the Millennium Philcon, and finally “The Ghost Pit” short story at ConJosé.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Speed Bump checks the shelves of an interesting library.
  • Thatababy has a strange way of getting rid of autumn leaves.
  • Wallace the Brave gives a teacher a novel excuse.
  • Tom Gauld made a design with you in mind.

(11) HORRENDOUS PROBLEMS IN IRON FLAME PRINT BOOKS. Publishers Lunch learned that “Entangled Is Working On A Solution to ‘Iron Flame’ Misprints”.

Entangled Publishing said in a statement that it’s working to correct misprints in the new Rebecca Yarros novel Iron Flame that published on November 7. Entangled reportedly indicated the book sold more than half a million copies on its release day, and some of the copies had irregularities including damaged pages, missing pages, upside down pages, and more, which readers catalogued on TikTok.

In a statement to Variety, the company acknowledged that the misprints “have caused disappointment among those who eagerly awaited this release.” They write, “In keeping with our values of quality and responsibility, we are committed to making this right. We are actively working with our distribution partner to create a solution for those who wish to exchange their copy but are unable to do so at their original retailer. Our printing company is also working to produce the additional copies needed to facilitate this process. Entangled Publishing appreciates the patience and support of our readers as we work to swiftly resolve this issue. More details will be available on our social media platforms in the coming weeks.”

(12) AI COPYRIGHT LAWSUIT NEWS. Publishers Weekly reports“Judge Will Toss Part of Authors’ AI Copyright Lawsuit”.

At a hearing last week, a federal judge said that he will dismiss part of the lawsuit filed by a group of authors including comedian Sarah Silverman that claims Meta’s Llama AI application infringes their copyrights.

According to Reuters, judge Vince Chhabria said the authors’ allegations that text generated by Llama infringes their copyrights simply doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. “When I make a query of Llama, I’m not asking for a copy of Sarah Silverman’s book—I’m not even asking for an excerpt,” Chhabria observed, noting that, under the authors’ theory, a side-by-side comparison of text generated by the AI application and Silverman’s book would have to show they are similar.

However, the judge said he will not dismiss the case with prejudice, meaning the authors will be allowed to amend and refile their claims. Furthermore, a core claim of the suit—that Meta’s use of unauthorized copies to train its AI model is infringing—remains.

The judge’s decision was not unexpected. As PW reported in July, multiple lawyers said that the authors’ copyright claims face long odds in court.

The proposed class action suit before Chhabria was filed on July 7 by the Joseph Saveri Law Firm on behalf of authors Christopher Golden, Richard Kadrey, and comedian Sarah Silverman, just days after the Saveri firm filed a similar suit on behalf of authors against Open AI, with authors Paul Tremblay and Mona Awad as named plaintiffs (though Awad has since withdrawn). A third group of authors represented by another firm (with authors including Michael Chabon, David Henry Hwang, Matthew Klam, Rachel Louise Snyder, and Ayelet Waldman among others) filed a lawsuit in August….

(13) TOY-BASED MOVIE GETTING ANOTHER CHANCE. “‘Masters of the Universe’ Movie Eyes New Home at Amazon” reports Variety.

In “Masters of the Universe,” He-Man’s nemesis is the evil wizard Skeletor. In Hollywood, his greatest threat has been a list of studio partners that have sidelined him from the big screen for nearly two decades. 

The blond barbarian, based on a popular set of Mattel toys, may finally win the day. Amazon MGM Studios is in serious talks to mount a live-action “Masters of the Universe” movie from Adam and Aaron Nee, the writing and directing team behind “The Lost City,” according to multiple insiders. Conversations are taking place with Amazon after Netflix dropped a planned version of the Nee brothers film in July….

(14) TERMINATOR BEGINS AGAIN. Yahoo! says“Terminator is back with a new anime series coming to Netflix”.

Netflix is giving the Terminator franchise the anime treatment in a new series that’s set to hit the streaming platform “soon.” The company dropped the first teaser for Terminator: The Anime Series this weekend during its Geeked Week event. Details so far are scant, but we do know it’ll be produced by Production IG, the Japanese animation studio behind the original Ghost in the Shell movie and spinoff TV series.

Terminator: The Anime Series will take us back to August 1997, when the Skynet AI becomes self-aware and turns against humans. While there is no information on the cast just yet, Variety reports the series will feature entirely new characters….

(15) THESE GHOSTS ARE ON THE CASE. Variety is there when “’Dead Boy Detectives’ Netflix Series Drops First Trailer”.

The “Dead Boy Detectives” series is officially set to air on Netflix after originally being set up at Max.

The show, based on characters created for DC by Neil Gaiman and Matt Wagner, was originally ordered to series at Max back in April 2022. However, it was reported earlier this year that it would be moving to Netflix due to the fact it did not fit the new direction for Max-DC content being spearheaded by James Gunn and Peter Safran.

The official description for the eight-episode series states, “Do you have a pesky ghost haunting you? Has a demon stolen your core memories? You may want to ring the Dead Boy Detectives. Meet Edwin Payne (George Rexstrew) and Charles Rowland (Jayden Revri), ‘the brains’ and ‘the brawn’ behind the Dead Boy Detectives agency. Teenagers born decades apart who find each other only in death, Edwin and Charles are best friends and ghosts… who solve mysteries….

(16) MOON UNIT. “Rebel Moon Trailer: Part One A Child of Fire Kicks Off Zack Snyder Epic”Variety provides the introduction.

Netflix has debuted an explosive new trailer for Zack Snyder‘s “Rebel Moon – Part One: A Child of Fire,” set for a limited one-week theatrical release on Dec. 15 and a wide streaming release on Netflix on Dec. 22.

Snyder’s epic space adventure film stars Sofia Boutella, Ed Skrein, Cleopatra Coleman and Cary Elwes. The story centers on a young woman living on the outskirts of a galaxy who must find a group of warriors to save the galaxy from an invasion from a tyrant. Snyder revealed to Total Film that “Rebel Moon” takes place in the same universe as another Netflix film of his, “Army of the Dead,” though one is set in outer space and the other in apocalyptic Las Vegas….

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

Pixel Scroll 7/19/2023 Sometimes A Great Alien Nation

(1) WRITER LOSES EYE TO GUN VIOLENCE; FUNDRAISER STARTED. Sff author Jessie Kwak of Portland, OR was severely injured in a drive-by shooting last weekend while leaving the Mississippi Street Fair. “Author shot in eye near Mississippi Street Fair in Portland: ‘My left eye exploded'” at KGW8.

Jessie Kwak spent most of Saturday among hundreds of others enjoying the Mississippi Street Fair in North Portland. For the science fiction author, it was a special chance for her to sell her books at a booth, along with her friend and fellow author, Mark. Just after 8 p.m., the pair walked to Mark’s car, which was parked at North Kerby Avenue and North Failing Street. As they prepared to drive away, they heard gunfire.

“It was just kind of like, pop, pop, pop, pop, like somebody set off a string of fireworks,” Kwak said. “The windshield exploded and my left eye exploded and I realized that wasn’t fireworks, and so I ducked down.”

Mark drove Kwak, 40, to Legacy Emanuel Hospital about four miles away. Kwak’s husband, Robert Kittilson, took photographs of his wife’s injured face, which was covered in blood. The photos are difficult to look at, but the couple hopes those who see them will see the impact of gun violence for what it is, not just a statistic to ignore

There’s a GoFundMe to help with medical bills and loss of freelance income. “Help Jessie recover from a traumatic eye injury”. The appeal has raised almost $8,000 of the $20,000 goal in the first 24 hours.

Hi, I’m Jessie, a self-made freelance writer and author. On Saturday, July 15th, I was selling books at a local street fair with another author friend. As we were leaving, someone in the car ahead of us started firing their gun into the street nearby. A bullet ricocheted into our windshield, and glass and bullet fragments hit my face and entered my left eye. I was rushed to the hospital immediately, but it was clear that the bullet had done severe damage to the eye.

On Sunday, July 16th, I went under for a 5-hour surgery to reconstruct my left eye. Doctors said it was in pieces and had to be put back together like a puzzle. The CT scan revealed that bullet fragments were embedded deep in my eye and had damaged the retina. Another surgery is scheduled for Wednesday, July 19th to remove the bullet fragments and if possible repair the retina.

It will take time to learn to live with one eye, and as a freelancer, I won’t be able to work as I recover. And no work means no income.

This fundraiser is to help pay for medical treatment, lost income and clients, and for future legal expenses.

I have been watching as gun violence has been increasing in our country, and in retrospect, I know that I am very very lucky. Many families don’t get a second chance to hug their loved ones tight.

I want to take this opportunity to show you the real person behind the statistic, and that this was not a freak accident, but the result of a systemic issue we are facing here in the United States.

(2) HUMMINGBIRD PRIZE. The winner of the 2023 Hummingbird Flash Fiction Prize has been announced.

Winner: ‘Field’s Nocturne No. 10 in E Major’ by Matt Lumbard

Sonny wakes to the smell of coffee and the sight of his Grampa slipping suspenders over his shoulders, looking at the woodstove and muttering: “It’ll burn itself out.”

The editors also picked their own winner, by sff author Chip Houser.

Editors’ Choice: ‘Separate Worlds’ by Chip Houser

The first time the earth tolls, we’re all in our separate worlds doing what we do.

(3) AWARDS META. Daniel Dern suggests the Award Award, featuring categories like the “Most ingenious nomination process”. What others would you suggest?

(4) BACK IN THE TOY BOX. Masters of the Universe has been returned to development hell says Variety: “’Masters of the Universe’ Movie Dead at Netflix”. What will Cora think?

…Set on the planet Eternia, “Masters of the Universe” largely focuses on the conflict between He-Man, a blonde muscle god, and his devious nemesis Skeletor. The characters formed a much-loved 1980s animated series, which developed a cross-generational fan base during its syndicated runs. For the latest film iteration, the budget came in at over $200 million with cameras set to roll this February, sources said. Last spring, however, Netflix was confronted with a stunning stock drop that saw the powerful streamer shed $50 billion in value after investors became concerned about the company’s subscriber losses.

In the aftermath of the sell-off, Netflix film head Scott Stuber and chief content officer Bela Bajaria tried to reassure the industry that they still had money to spend amid their Wall Street woes. However, sources close to “Masters of the Universe” said after that point the streamer refused to shell out more than $150 million to see up-and-comer Allen (“American Horror Story,” “A Haunting in Venice”) pick up He-Man’s sword. A source familiar with Netflix said the stock drop was irrelevant to budget issues on “Masters,” noting that its content spend has been flat at $17 billion for two years, despite market fluctuation….

(5) WE PAUSE FOR A COMMERCIAL MESSAGE. Meanwhile, the Mark Twain House & Museum is adding a dose of grumpiness to the Masters of the Universe mix by hosting the virtual event “The He-Man Effect: How American Toymakers Sold You Your Childhood”. Register here – choose your own price, minimum $2.50 (free to Twain House members).

Brian “Box” Brown unravels how marketing that targeted children in the 1980s has shaped adults in the present. The He-Man Effect shows how corporate manipulation brought muscular, accessory-stuffed action figures to dizzying heights in the eighties and beyond. Bringing beloved brands like He-Man, Transformers, My Little Pony, and even Mickey Mouse himself into the spotlight, this graphic history exposes a world with no rules and no concern for results beyond profit. 

(6) CHARLES E. NOAD OBITUARY. David Bratman has written a tribute to the late Charles E. Noad at Kalimac’s corner. It begins:

Charles was a mainstay of the Tolkien Society, the UK-based organization, and an absolute monument for Tolkien studies for all that he didn’t write very much. Besides doing bibliographical work for the TS, his most valuable contribution was as proofreader for most of the posthumous Tolkien volumes, in the History of Middle-earth series and elsewhere. At this his ability to catch glitches was unsurpassed. He could quite literally tell whether a period (the full stop at the end of a sentence) was in italics or not. As a support to Christopher Tolkien, the editor of these volumes, he was more than invaluable….

(7) MEMORY LANE.

1998 [Written by Cat Eldridge from a choice by Mike Glyer.]

A work by S. M. Stirling provides our Beginning this Scroll. Now I’ll admit that I am not that familiar with him which is not to say that there aren’t works by him that I do like deeply such as The Peshawar Lancers and The Lords of Creation series which consists of The Sky People and In the Courts of the Crimson Kings. The latter is extraordinary work.

He has been nominated for many awards, winning the Lord Ruthven Award which is given for significant contributions to the field of horror literature for his A Taint the Blood novel, and a Dragon Award for the Black Chamber novel in the Best Alternate History Novel category. It was nominated for a Sunburst was awarded to a Canadian novel in previous year.

Mike choose Island in the Sea of Time, the first novel in the Nantucket series, published by Roc Books twenty-five years ago. 

And now for the Beginning…

March, 1998 A.D. 

Ian Arnstein stepped off the ferry gangway and hefted his bags. Nantucket on a foggy March evening was chilly enough to make him thankful he’d worn the heavier overcoat; Southern Californian habits could betray you, here on the coast of New England. Thirty-odd miles off the coast. The summer houses built out over the water were still shuttered, and most of the shops were closed—tourist season wouldn’t really start until Daffodil Weekend in late April, when the population began to climb from seven thousand to sixty. He was a tourist of sorts himself, even though he came here regularly; to the locals he was still a “coof,” of course, or “from away,” to use a less old-fashioned term. Everybody whose ancestors hadn’t arrived in the seventeenth century was a coof, to the core of old-time inhabitants, a “wash-ashore” even if he’d lived here for years. This was the sort of place where they talked about “going to America” when they took the ferry to the mainland.

He trudged past Easy Street, which wasn’t, and turned onto Broad, which wasn’t either, up to the whaling magnate’s mansion that he stayed in every year. It had been converted to an inn back in the 1850s, when the magnate’s wife insisted on moving to Boston for the social life. Few buildings downtown were much more recent than that. The collapse of the whaling industry during the Civil War era had frozen Nantucket in time, down to the huge American elms along Main Street and the cobblestone alleys. The British travel writer Jan Morris had called it the most beautiful small town in the world, mellow brick and shingle in Federal or neoclassical style. A ferociously restrictive building code kept it that way, a place where Longfellow and Whittier would have felt at home and Melville would have taken a few minutes to notice the differences. 

Mind you, it probably smells a lot better these days. Must have reeked something fierce when the harborfront was lined with whale-oil renderies. It had its own memories for him, now. Still painful, but life was like that. People died, marriages too, and you went on. 

He hurried up Broad Street and hefted his bags up the brick stairs to the white neoclassical doors with their overhead fanlights flanked by white wooden pillars. The desk was just within, but the tantalizing smells came from downstairs. The whalers were long gone, but they still served a mean seafood dinner in the basement restaurant at the John Cofflin House.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 19, 1883 Max Fleischer. Animator, film director and producer. He brought such animated characters as Betty Boop, Popeye and Superman to the screen and was responsible for a number of technological innovations including the Rotoscope and Stereoptical Processes. You can see Betty’s first screen appearance here in the 1930 Cartoon, “Dizzy Dishes”. (Died 1972.)
  • Born July 19, 1924 Pat Hingle. He portrayed Jim Gordon in the Burton Batman film franchise. Genre wise, he had roles in Alfred Hitchcock PresentsThe Twilight ZoneCarol for Another ChristmasMission: ImpossibleThe InvadersTarantulas: The Deadly CargoAmazing Stories and The Land Before Time. He would reprise his Gordon role in the Batman OnStar commercials. (Died 2009.)
  • Born July 19, 1927 Richard E. Geis. I met him at least once when I was living out there in Oregon. Interesting person. He won the Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer twice; and whose science fiction fanzine Science Fiction Review won Hugo Awards for Best Fanzine four times. The Alien Critic won the Best Fanzine Hugo (once in a tie with Algol), and once by himself. And yes, I enjoyed reading the Science Fiction Review. I’ve not read any of his handful of genre novels, and certainly haven’t encountered his soft-core porn of which there’s a lot. (Died 2013.)
  • Born July 19, 1950 — Richard Pini, 73. He’s half of the husband-and-wife team responsible for creating the well-known Elfquest series of comics, graphic novels and prose works. They are also known as WaRP (as in Warp Graphics). It’s worth noting that characters based on works by the Pinis appear in Ghost Rider (vol.1 issue 14).
  • Born July 19, 1957 John Pelan. Committed (more or less) the act of opening serial small publishing houses in succession with the first being Axolotl Press in the mid-Eighties where he’d published the likes of de Lint and Powers (before selling it to Pulphouse Publishing) followed by Darkside Press, Silver Salamander Press and finally co-founding Midnight House. All have been inactive for quite awhile now and he’d been editing such anthologies as Tales of Terror and Torment: Stories from the Pulps, Volume 1 for other presses though even that has not happened for some years as near as I can tell. As a writer, he had more than thirty published stories and he had won both a Stoker for The Darker Side: Generations of Horror anthology and an International Horror Guild Award for his Darkside: Horror for the Next Millennium anthology. (Died 2021.)
  • Born July 19, 1969 Kelly Link, 54. First, let me note that along with Ellen Datlow, she and her husband Gavin Grant were responsible for the last five volumes of The Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror. They all did an absolutely magnificent job. All of her collections, Pretty Monsters, Magic for Beginners and Get in Trouble are astonishingly good. And she’s much honored having three Nebula Awards, a World Fantasy Award, an Otherwise Award, a Sturgeon Award and received a MacArthur Genius Grant. She was a finalist for a 2016 Pulitzer Prize. And Hugos. She won a Hugo at Interaction for her “Faery Handbag” novellette, her “Magic for Beginners” novella was nominated at L.A. Con IV, and finally Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet was nominated at Nippon 2007 for Best Semi-Prozine (her husband Gavin Grant was also nominated). 
  • Born July 19, 1976 Benedict Cumberbatch, 47. Confession time: I really didn’t care for him in the Sherlock series, nor did I think his Khan In Star Trek Into Darkness was all that interesting but his Stephen Strange In Doctor Strange was excellent. He did do a superb job of voicing Smaug inThe Hobbit and his Grinch voicing in that film was also superb. I understand he’s the voice of Satan in Good Omens… 

(9) WIZARDS IN TRAINING. This is a pretty cute set of bookends (and middle!) “The Journey To HOGWARTS Illuminated Bookend Collection Featuring A Detailed HOGWARTS Express On Its Journey Back To HOGWARTS Castle” from the Bradford Exchange.

(10)  ARE FANS NO LONGER ALIENATED? “’The Redemption of Jar Jar Binks’ podcast explores internet outrage and its aftermath” at WBUR.

1999’s “Star Wars: The Phantom Menace” introduced audiences to a technological marvel: Jar Jar Binks, cinema’s first major motion-captured character. But the comic-relief alien also became the target of one of the internet’s first hate campaigns, with vitriol spilling over to the actor who played Jar Jar as well.

The new podcast “The Redemption of Jar Jar Binks” tells this story and how it informs online discourse today. Here & Now‘s Celeste Headlee speaks to podcast host Dylan Marron, also known for his writing work on “Ted Lasso” and his podcast “Conversations with People Who Hate Me.”

Here’s the direct link to the podcast: “The Redemption of Jar Jar Binks”.

Jar Jar Binks became one of the most polarizing figures in cinematic history when he made his debut in Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace in 1999. He was even named “the most annoying movie character of all time” by Complex Magazine. After the release, Ahmed Best, the man who played Jar Jar, was hit with the full force of the backlash — and it nearly destroyed him. The Redemption of Jar Jar Binks is a six-part journey through the early internet to understand how one of the first-ever online hate campaigns began, and to right what we got so wrong about Jar Jar the first time around.

(11) UP ABOVE THE WORLD SO HIGH. “High altitude balloons spy on dark matter” at Popular Science.

High altitude balloons have drawn a lot of fire lately. In February, the US military shot down a spy balloon potentially operated by the Chinese government and an “unidentified aerial phenomenon” that was later revealed to likely be a hobbyist balloon.

So, when people caught sight of another large balloon in the southern hemisphere in early May, there was concern it could be another spy device. Instead, it represents the future of astronomy: balloon-borne telescopes that peer deep into space without leaving the stratosphere.

“We’re looking up, not down,” says William Jones, a professor of physics at Princeton University and head of NASA’s Super Pressure Balloon Imaging Telescope (SuperBIT) team. Launched from Wānaka, New Zealand, on April 15, the nearly 10-foot-tall telescope has already circled the southern hemisphere four times on a football stadium-sized balloon made from polyethylene film. Its three onboard cameras also took stunning images of the Tarantula Nebula and Antennae galaxies to rival those of the Hubble Space Telescope. The findings from SuperBIT could help scientists unravel one of the greatest mysteries of the universe: the nature of dark matter, a theoretically invisible material only known from its gravitational effects on visible objects….

(12) THE SHIPPING NEWS. The Last Voyage of the Demeter has the dirt on Dracula.

Based on a single chilling chapter from Bram Stoker’s classic novel Dracula, The Last Voyage of the Demeter tells the terrifying story of the merchant ship Demeter, which was chartered to carry private cargo—fifty unmarked wooden crates—from Carpathia to London. Strange events befall the doomed crew as they attempt to survive the ocean voyage, stalked each night by a merciless presence onboard the ship. When the Demeter finally arrives off the shores of England, it is a charred, derelict wreck. There is no trace of the crew.

(13) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Fanac.org now hosts the venerable Castle of Terrors made in 1964 by the UK’s Delta Science Fiction Film Group.

This fannish production from Harry Nadler and the Delta SF Film Group gives us a slapstick parody of horror movies, replete with well known British fans of the day. There are angry villagers, damsels in distress, and scary monsters, as well as less well-known horror tropes like food fights in this 20 minute amateur extravaganza. In “Castle of Terrors” you can feel just how much fun Delta Group was having (and get a clear sense of their love for slapstick). Bill Burns, who provided this and other Delta Films tells us “The individual films date from 1963 to 1970, and were made on 8mm silent film to which a magnetic stripe was later added and the sound dubbed on. They were then shown mercilessly at club meetings and Eastercons, and suffered accordingly.” For more about the Delta SF Film Group, see the Fancyclopedia article and see the text of Bill’s talk at Manunicon (2016 Eastercon) here.

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

Pixel Scroll 7/1/23 Yes, There Be Pixels And Where There Be Pixels There Be Birthdays

(1) WILL FANS ENCOUNTER PICKET LINES AT LA CONVENTION? Anime Expo started today in LA under the cloud of a threatened strike by hotel workers. The union has not said when they will walk off the job: “Anime fans face hotel strike threat” in the Los Angeles Times. (An NBC Los Angeles post updated an hour ago does not show that the strike has begun.)

The largest U.S. hotel workers’ strike in recent memory and the largest anime convention in North America are both set to kick off this weekend in the same downtown Los Angeles spot — with all the attendant agitation playing out on social media.

More than 15,000 union workers are seeking higher pay and better benefits and working conditions at 62 hotels in Los Angeles and Orange counties.

They could walk off the job as early as Saturday after their contracts expire.

On Thursday, the largest hotel, the Westin Bonaventure Hotel & Suites, announced it had reached a tentative deal with the union representing its more than 600 employees.

The deal is the first among many that would be needed to avert the planned strike.

Meanwhile, thousands of fans of Japanese pop culture will gather Saturday for the start of Anime Expo, a four-day convocation of people interested in manga art, cosplay and video games with exhibitions and panels at the Los Angeles Convention Center and nearby hotels. Many have spent months hoarding vacation days and cash to trek to Southern California and commune with like-minded people.

The two passionate interest groups met up virtually in recent days, and the results weren’t pretty.

On Reddit, a union organizer with hotel workers’ Unite Here Local 11 kicked off the Ask-Me-Anything discussion by asking, “Did you know hotel workers at many of the properties you might be staying at for AX, such as the JW Marriott Downtown LA, Westin Bonaventure, Downtown Los Angeles Courtyard, Residence Inn Downtown LA, the Ritz Carlton and more, might be on strike?

“This could mean pickets, protests and other actions at hotels that could impact and potentially disrupt the Anime Expo,” wrote AnimeJustice11, the unnamed organizer.

“When workers go on strike, they stop work and walk off the job. If workers go on strike, there might not be anybody taking out the trash, cooking the food or cleaning the rooms. There also may be loud 24-hour picket lines right outside the property. How do you think this would affect the quality of the Anime Expo if you are attending / planning?”

AnimeJustice11 wrapped up with a plea: “I hope most/all of you will stand in solidarity with the potential striking workers and don’t cross picket lines!” The poster also asked those planning to attend Anime Expo to “contact the management and ask if they would negotiate a new contract that meets what workers are asking for.”

Unite Here Local 11 also has reached out to Anime Expo attendees, as well as other groups, with a targeted anime-style advertisement featuring a pink-haired worker carrying a sign reading: “Anime is cool! Disrespecting workers is not!”

Reddit users had many thoughts, including anger at the union for disrupting an expensive and cherished tradition, anger at hotel owners for not giving raises, and anger at one another for attacking the union organizer. Others debated what it meant to cross the picket line…

(2) LIKE SAND THROUGH THE HOURGLASS. Warner Bros. dropped a second Dune: Part Two Official Trailer.

The saga continues as award-winning filmmaker Denis Villeneuve embarks on “Dune: Part Two,” the next chapter of Frank Herbert’s celebrated novel Dune, with an expanded all-star international ensemble cast. The film, from Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures, is the highly anticipated follow-up to 2021’s six-time Academy Award-winning “Dune.”

(3) GRIST FOR THE RUMOR MILL. “Denis Villeneuve Wants To End His Dune Trilogy With A Dune Messiah Adaptation” according to GameSpot.

Fans got a hearty helping of Dune: Part Two yesterday with a wild new trailer, showing everything from Feyd (Austin Butler) in action, to Paul Atreides (Timothee Chalamet) delivering his iconic speech to the Freman. Even though there are only two parts to the Paul and House Atreides narrative, director Denis Villeneuve wants to fans to get a taste of the larger mythos at play with a third Dune film.

Deadline has reported that Villeneuve intends to cap off his Dune trilogy with a much deeper dive into Frank Herbert’s lore of the world of Dune with an adaptation of Dune Messiah. This film would be co-written by Villeneuve and screenwriter Jon Spaihts. Obviously, Warner Bros. Discovery has not yet officially announced active development for Part Three but should Part Two find success like its predecessor, a conclusion should be a no-brainer.

Dune Messiah was the second novel in the Dune Chronicles released in 1969. The book was adapted in the 2003 miniseries Children of Dune–the name of the actual third novel–which included parts of both “Messiah” and “Children.”…

(4) THE CIRCULAR FILE. Camestros Felapton fails to explain “Why did people read The Wheel of Time?” In that he probably has a lot of company.

… I’m happy to dunk on Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time books because I too read them, each and every one. I bought some of them as big chunky trade paperbacks as well *AND* I thought they were badly written at the time *AND* realised that the story was going nowhere somewhere around the middle. So really I could rephrase this question as “Why did I read the Wheel of Time?”…

(5) NOT THE SPITTING IMAGE.  [Item by Cora Buhlert.] Since I got some new figures, I also made a new Masters-of-the-Universe toy photo story called “Artistic License” to address the question of why Skeletor and his Evil Warriors created the least convincing He-Man doppelganger ever: “Masters-of-the-Universe-Piece Theatre: ‘Artistic License’”.

… As for why Faker looks the way he does, the real world reason is that some Mattel designer forty years ago thought a blue and orange He-Man looked cool. As for the in universe reason, well, here is one potential answer…

… “Behold my new robot doppelganger of He-Man, Lord Skeletor. Those accursed Masters of the Universe will never know what hit them, when we plant this Faker in their midst. And now arise, my Faker.”

“I Am He-Man.”

“Is he not glorious, Lord Skeletor? I daresay he is my best invention yet.”

“Why is he blue?”

“Excuse me, boss?”

“He-Man is not a Gar. So why is he blue?”…

(6) GENRE GENESIS. A paper by Helen de Cruz titled “Cosmic Horror and the Philosophical Origins of Science Fiction” is online at Cambridge Universe Press.

We now live in a universe composed of billions of galaxies. And, for the most part, we rarely give this any thought. We go about our lives as people have done in the past. Still, you might have reflected on the vastness of the universe: perhaps when you visited a planetarium, or watched a documentary, or even looked up at the (probably light-polluted) night sky and felt a dizziness, a vertigo. That experience is cosmic horror, a sense of the sublime that makes you feel both small and insignificant and a part of a huge, interconnected whole. Once we realize the universe is enormous, and that we’re but a tiny speck in that vast world, we need to recalibrate ourselves. We need to find meaning and significance in being the tiny speck we are. As I’ll argue here, science fiction helps us to come to terms with cosmic horror, as the history of philosophy shows. As a literary form, science fiction originated in philosophical speculation about the universe and our place within it….

(7) G.O.A.T. FANTASY MOVIES. You might not be surprised by what’s at the very top of TimeOut’s list of “The 50 best fantasy movies of all time”, but I, for one, was surprised to see what made number three:

3. Onward (2020)

A pair of grieving elf brothers turn to magic to reanimate, for 24 emotional hours, the dad they never really knew. But the spell is broken halfway through, leaving them with, well, half a dad. With only the legs operational and the missing top half flopping around under layers of clothes, the three bluff their way through a quest to find a magical gem and finish the job. Set in a fantastical land populated by evolved cyclops, fauns, mages and all manner of mythical fauna who have switched from magic to mod cons, ‘Onward’ is a cometh-of-age tale that makes playful capital from our habit of turning the past into touristy kitsch. 

Magic moment: When Ian listens to a tape of the dad he never knew and you wish you’d remember to bulk-buy tissues.

(8) RR DOES NOT STAND FOR RAILROAD. Dominic Noble is “Talking to George RR Martin About HIS Favorite Book”.

GRRM joins me for this very special episode of Reginald’s Book Club to talk about Nine Princes in Amber by Roger Zelazny, which is currently being adapted for TV by Robert Kirkman and Stephen Colbert. I was so nervous doing this I got the name of the book, the name of the author and the name of MY OWN PODCAST wrong, but George was so friendly and chill the whole time I think it came out pretty well.

(9) MEMORY LANE.

2022 [Written by Cat Eldridge from a choice by Mike Glyer.]

Mike chose Ray Nayler’s The Mountain in the Sea, which came out last year as our Beginning this Scroll. It’s his only novel, published by MCD. 

He’s published considerably more short fiction, most of it in the past three years, though his first published sff story came out in 1996. And he’s written one wonderfully-titled essay, “Not Prediction, But Predication: The True Power of Science Fiction”, which ran in Asimov’s Science Fiction, the May-June 2023 issue.

Our choice was a finalist for the Nebula Award, the Locus Award, and for the LA Times Book Awards’ Ray Bradbury Award for Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Speculative Fiction…

NIGHT. DISTRICT THREE of the Ho Chi Minh Autonomous Trade Zone. 

The plastic awning of the café streamed with rain. Under its shelter, wreathed in kitchen steam and human chatter, waiters wove between tables with steaming bowls of soup, glasses of iced coffee, and bottles of beer. 

Beyond the wall of rain, electric motorbikes swept past like luminescent fish. Better not to think of fish. 

Lawrence concentrated his attention instead on the woman across the table, wiping her chopsticks with a wedge of lime. The color-swarm of the abglanz identity shield masking her face shifted and wavered.

Like something underwater … 

Lawrence dug his nails into his palm. “I’m sorry—does that thing have another setting?” 

The woman made an adjustment. The abglanz settled to a bland construct of a female face. Lawrence could make out the faint outline of her real face, drifting below the surface. 

Drifting …

“I don’t usually use this setting.” The oscillations of the abglanz flattened the woman’s inflection. “The faces are uncanny. Most people prefer the blur.” 

She brought her chopsticks to her mouth. The noodles sank into the glitchy surface of the digital mask’s lips. Inside was the shadow of another set of lips and teeth.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 1, 1891 Otis Adelbert Kline. Early pulp writer and literary agent whose great claim to fame was a possibly apocryphal feud with fellow author Edgar Rice Burroughs, in which he supposedly raised the latter’s anger by producing close imitations of Burroughs’s Mars novels. Wollheim and Moskowitz would believe in it, Lupoff did not. (Died 1946.)
  • Born July 1, 1934 Jean Marsh, 89. She was married to Jon Pertwee but it was before either were involved in Dr. Who. She first appeared alongside The First Doctor in “The Crusade” as Lady Joanna, the sister of Richard I (The Lionheart). She returned later that year as companion Sara Kingdom in “The Daleks’ Master Plan”. And she’d return yet again during the time of the Seventh Doctor in “Battlefield” as Morgana Le Fay. She’s also in Unearthly Stranger Dark PlacesReturn to OzWillow as Queen Bavmorda and The Changeling
  • Born July 1, 1935 David Prowse. The physical embodiment of Darth Vader in the original Star Wars trilogy. Ok, it’s been a very long time since I saw Casino Royale but what was Frankenstein’s Creation doing there, the character he played in his first ever role? That he played that role in The Horror of Frankenstein and Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell, Hammer Films a few later surprises me not. He shows up in Gilliam’s Jabberwocky according to IMDB as Red Herring and Black Knights (and no I’ve no idea what that means). Finally he’s the executioner in The People That Time Forgot, a film that’s very loosely based off of several Burroughs novels. (Died 2020.)
  • Born July 1, 1942 Genevieve Bujold, 81. We would have had a rather different look on Voyager if things had played out as the producers wished, for Bujold was their first choice to play Janeway. She quit after a day and a half of shooting, with the public reason being she was unaccustomed to the hectic pace of television filming. What the real reason was we will never know.
  • Born July 1, 1955 Robby the Robot, 68.Yes, this is this official birthday according to studio of the robot in Forbidden Planet which debuted a year later. He would later be seen is such films and series as The Invisible Boy,Invasion of the Neptune MenThe Twilight ZoneLost In SpaceThe Addams Family, Wonder Woman and Gremlins.  He was also featured in a 2006 commercial for 2006 commercial for AT&T.
  • Born July 1, 1964 Charles Coleman Finlay, 59. His first story, “Footnotes”, was published in 2001 in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction where many of his other stories were published, and which he edited for several years. The Traitor to the Crown series is his best-known work.
  • Born July 1, 1981 Genevieve Valentine, 42. Author of the superb Persona novel and also she scripted a Catwoman series, working with artists Garry Brown and David Messina. Her first novel, Mechanique: A tale of the Circus Tresaulti, won the Crawford Award for a first fantasy novel. She scripted a run of Xena: Warrior Princess, and scripted Batman & Robin Eternal as well. 

(11) CAN YOU HEAR THE DRUMS FERNANDO? The Guardian’s Tim Dowling writes, “The board game is back out, and I’m losing again”.

…“We can have a takeaway for supper, but you’ll have to hang around.”

“In that case,” says the youngest, “shall we play this?” He is pointing to a box containing a complicated board game to do with medieval dynasties.

“Yeah, all right,” says the oldest.

“And Dad,” says the youngest, “you’re definitely playing.”

When this box was first opened a few weeks ago, I wrote about two fears: that it may be one of the last times I watched my grown sons sit down to play a board game in our house; and that I had accidentally raised three nerds.

At the time I did not realise the board game would become a Sunday fixture, and that I would be roped into playing against my will. I still don’t know which outcome is preferable.

“I’m new to this,” I say, sitting down. “So this is a practice round.”

“It’s easier if we just play,” says the middle one. “You’ll pick it up.”

I am supplied with a character, Fernando; some territory – the Iberian peninsula; and a number of plastic knights. I am then obliged to select an abiding trait at random.

“Chaste,” I say.

“Chaste is good,” says the middle one, “but it makes it hard to marry.”

He’s not kidding. By the start of the Second Era the middle one has launched a sustained attack on the Papal States – much to the consternation of the youngest one, who reigns there – but, critically, I have still not found a spouse….

(12) THE SMART SET. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] This item will be appearing in next season’s (September) SF² Concatenation news page’s science and SF interface section…

Smart clothing – that is, not ‘neat’ but, ‘clever’ clothing – is a minor SF trope.  In terms of SFnal clothing, space-suits are positively mundane, but the genre offers much more from the techno-suits of super-heroes to the stillsuits of Dune.  Now there is a new, electrically-controlled fabric that can vary its heat – infra-red – transmission that could be used to create clothing with abilities not too dissimilar to, say, those found in Iain Banks’ ‘Culture’.  US engineers and applied physicists have created this fabric they call Wearable Variable-Emittance (WeaVE).  To make the material flexible, the authors used kirigami principles, which entail cutting a 2D surface and then folding it into 3D patterns. The polymer can either emit heat or provide insulation depending on the voltage applied to it. Here, the voltage needed is really small, less than one volt, so no large batteries are required.  The material enables wearers to experience the same skin temperature at ambient temperatures from 17.1°C to 22.0°C: that’s almost a 5°C range. No doubt we will get even better smart fabrics in the future… A brief summary of this research appears in Nature and the primary research is Chen, T-H. et al (2023) A kirigami-enabled electrochromic wearable variable-emittance device for energy-efficient adaptive personal thermoregulationPNAS Nexus, vol. 2, p1-10.

(13) VIDEO OF THE DAY. From a year ago, the opening scene of The Batman.

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

Pixel Scroll 6/25/23 “A Pixel Less Scrolled Is A Scroll Saved” As The Old Saying Doesn’t Go

(1) FROM FANFIC TO THE TOP. [Item by Steven French.] One to watch out for: after debuting with Boy Parts, ‘a mischievous satire’, and following that up with Penance, based on horrific true events, Eliza Clark is planning a third novel of speculative fiction and a collection of science fiction and horror short stories: “Eliza Clark: ‘I’m more primary school teacher than enfant terrible’” in the Guardian.

…She reckons that being a word-of-mouth success let her fly under the radar of critics ready to dismiss Granta’s selection as a list of commercially unsuccessful unknowns. “But you don’t want to be the arsehole who’s like: ‘Actually, if you were to check TikTok and ask 20-year-old girls on humanities courses at university, you’d find that one of these books is actually very popular,’” she says, with a winningly wicked laugh.

Being underestimated is something of a theme with Clark. In her early teens she read keenly, led by her parents to Tolkien, George RR Martin and Stephen King while finding Nabokov and Murakami on her own (“Ryū, not Haruki,” she adds quickly, as if to make certain I know that extreme horror is her jam, not pervy magic realism). The kind of pupil who once wowed English teachers by writing “pages and pages and pages”, she was blocked by her school from applying to study English at Oxbridge because she got C grades in GCSE maths and French. She then fell into boozing with pals (“it was very easy to underage drink in Newcastle”) and out of love with reading – or at least with books. “My brain had been so boiled by the internet by that point. I shouldn’t have been allowed to have my own laptop! Shock images were so clickable and findable. But I used to write loads of fan fiction and I wouldn’t have had all those years of writing practice.”…

(2) MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE. Cora Buhlert brings us her “Masters-of-the-Universe-Piece Theatre Pride Month Special: ‘Ambush in the Mystic Mountains’”.

…Last year, I posted a Masters-of-the-Universe-Piece Theatre Pride Month Special called “Fisto’s Significant Other”, in which Fisto and Ram-Man announce that they are a couple. This is only my head canon BTW, but the various cartoons hint quite strongly that Fisto as well as various other heroic warriors are not straight. And besides, they do make a cute couple.

Therefore, I decided to do another Pride Month Special featuring fan favourite Malcolm a.k.a. Fisto and his significant other Ram-Man a.k.a. Krass. Especially since I had just picked up the new Masterverse Deluxe Ram-Man figure.

So enjoy…

Ambush in the Mystic Mountains…

(3) INCREASING REPRESENTATION. Arturo Serrano interviews two game designers, Miguel Colón (designer of Boricubos) and Adrián Mejía (designer of Koboa) in “More Latin American content for your TTRPG sessions” at Nerds of a Feather.

…AS: How did you ensure a respectful representation of elements from real-world cultures?

MC (Boricubos): There is a careful balance here. As someone who is very entrenched in the culture, I had to make sure I represented what I loved about some of the stories I was told, some of the research I did, and some of the things that I came up with individually. This all blended together quite nicely, I believe. Ultimately, it is not my role to speak for every Puerto Rican, other Latin Americans, or anyone, really. I am trying to represent something deeply personal to me, share with others something that would make them interested in doing their own research, and present a new point of view for people. It’s very hard because, in order for the setting to work, there have to be things that are inspired by the actual culture, but also things that are completely independent. I think the best thing for people to take away is that Boricubos represents some stories and legends, but is not a one-for-one recreation.

AM (Koboa): It is an ongoing process. We have built up a team of South American designers, writers, and artists with extremely diverse backgrounds and experiences. Additionally, all our content (writing, art briefs, illustrations, etc.) goes through two or more cultural and sensitivity consultants, to ensure we don’t inadvertently represent elements of culture in ways that are harmful or offensive….

(4) HWA PRIDE. The Horror Writers Association blog continues this month’s theme with “A Point of Pride: Interview with Mae Murray”.

What was it about the horror genre that drew you to it?

I didn’t have an idyllic childhood. I was exposed to a lot of pain, loss, and trauma from an early age, which made me feel alienated from my peers. I enjoyed the horror genre because it allowed me to deal with those themes in an imaginative, transformative way. It was safe to talk about certain traumas in the context of a horror story, because for a child/teen/young adult, the truths were almost too brutal to articulate any other way. But it’s more than just that… I found horror sexy, exciting. I hated being afraid, and I loved being afraid. It was the push and pull of daring yourself to be brave. It’s a challenging genre that begs to break formulae time and again. It can be romantic, erotic, terrifying, cathartic, disgusting, beautiful. It truly is a genre that has it all and can do it all. 

(5) TIDAL FLOW. Really, I’m not convinced by this first paragraph. Is adding “-punk” to a noun anything more than a tactic to market a short list of books? “Diving into the Sub-Genre of Oceanpunk” at Book Riot.

From steampunk to dieselpunk to clockpunk and more, there is a proliferation of sub-genres and mashups that fall under the punk literature umbrella. Defined by their embrace of retro, yet futuristic technologies and specific elements and settings, these books transport readers to an imaginative world in which characters move through an altered landscape from our own. Punk sub-genre books often play with timelines and settings in ways that both echo our own world and change it up. For example, steampunk writers craft fictional worlds that are both futuristic and have echoes of Victorian fashion and steam powered-technology, while cyberpunk authors focus on what happens when a high-technology society meets humanity. Oceanpunk writers take us under or onto the high seas, to explore what it would be like to live in a water-dominated world….

(6) IT’S POSSIBLE AFTER ALL. “‘I’m not that geeky guy any more’: Simon Pegg on comedy, action heroes and staying at home” in the Guardian.

Pegg’s ascent remains one of the great, recent Hollywood creation stories. In one of the most entertaining parts of it, he and Wright were asked in an interview, after Shaun of the Dead, whether they planned to leave the UK behind and make action films in the US. Pegg responded, “It’s not like we’re going to go away and do, I don’t know” – scanning his brain for an imaginary, and unimaginable, blockbuster – “Mission: Impossible III.”

The reply was honest. Pegg had not long before done an audition for a small part in the Mission: Impossible franchise, something involving a helicopter, and heard nothing. But then, the original director, Joe Carnahan, left the project and Cruise brought in Alias creator JJ Abrams, who was a huge fan of… Shaun of the Dead! Ricky Gervais was set to play Cruise’s sidekick Benji Dunn, but dropped out and Pegg was given the nod. “So it was a huge irony that I’d said, ‘I’m not going to go off and do this,’” says Pegg. “But then, at that time, there was this attitude that anyone who went off to Hollywood was betraying their roots in some sense or selling out. It’s not like you cross some misty bridge at night and never come home again. So many people assume that I live over there. But, you know, I live in Hertfordshire.”…

(7) MONTY PYTHON’S DYING CIRCUS. ICv2 carried news of CMON’s game expansion “Monty Python’s Flying Circus – Zombicide 2E”. There’s a gallery of images of the components at the link.

CMON announced Monty Python’s Flying Circus – Zombicide 2E, a new board game expansion, which will arrive in April 2024.

Zombicide 2E just got a whole lot more wacky with the introduction of this expansion featuring the elements of the classic TV show by the legendary English comedy troupe.  The set revisits some of the show’s funniest sketches by adding Monty Python-themed survivors , enemies, and equipment.  There is also a new mission and if the expansion is preordered off CMON’s website, it includes an exclusive pack of Gumbys.

This set comes with 21 miniatures, 8 tokens, 47 cards, and a rules leaflet.  The expansion requires a base set to play and it will retail for $50.00….

(8) MEMORY LANE.

1994 [Written by Cat Eldridge from a choice by Mike Glyer.]

Now here’s an author that I really like — Mike Resnick. There’s really nothing by him that I’ve not enjoyed immensely. 

First and foremost are the four novels in the John Justin Mallory series, followed by his Future History series and the ever so silly Galactic Midway affair with one with the best novel titles ever, The Best Rootin’ Tootin’ Shootin’ Gunslinger in the Whole Damned Galaxy.

Let’s not forget the Weird West Tale series which I consider one of the best steampunk Western series ever done.

And then there’s the “Seven Views of Olduvai Gorge” novella, the source of our Beginning this Scroll, which was first published in 1994 by Axolotl Press, part of Pulphouse Publishing. Part of his Birthright Universe series, it would win a Hugo at Intersection. A Nebula would be also would be won as well as a HOMer. There was also a Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award nomination 

And here’s our Beginning…

The creatures came again last night.

The moon had just slipped behind the clouds when we heard the first rustlings in the grass. Then there was a moment of utter silence, as if they knew we were listening for them, and finally there were the familiar hoots and shrieks as they raced to within fifty meters of us and, still screeching, struck postures of aggression.

They fascinate me, for they never show themselves in the daylight, and yet they manifest none of the features of the true nocturnal animal. Their eyes are not oversized, their ears cannot move independently, they tread very heavily on their feet. They frighten most of the other members of my party, and while I am curious about them, I have yet to absorb one of them and study it.

To tell the truth, I think my use of absorption terrifies my companions more than the creatures do, though there is no reason why it should. Although I am relatively young by my race’s standards, I am nevertheless many millennia older than any other member of my party. You would think, given their backgrounds, that they would know that any trait someone of my age possesses must by definition be a survival trait. 

Still, it bothers them. Indeed, it mystifies them, much as my memory does. Of course, theirs seem very inefficient to me. Imagine having to learn everything one knows in a single lifetime, to be totally ignorant at the moment of birth! Far better to split off from your parent with his knowledge intact in your brain, just as my parent’s knowledge came to him, and ultimately to me.

But then, that is why we are here: not to compare similarities, but to study differences. And never was there a race so different from all his fellows as Man. He was extinct barely seventeen millennia after he strode boldly out into the galaxy from this, the planet of his birth—but during that brief interval he wrote a chapter in galactic history that will last forever. He claimed the stars for his own, colonized a million worlds, ruled his empire with an iron will. He gave no quarter during his primacy, and he asked for none during his decline and fall. Even now, some forty-eight centuries after his extinction, his accomplishments and his failures still excite the imagination.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born June 25, 1894 – Hermann Oberth. Physicist, engineer, pioneer of rocketry. Read Jules Verne as a child, built his first model rocket at age 14. Doctoral dissertation Rockets into Space. Consulted on Fritz Lang’s film Woman in the Moon (1929). Worked on early rockets, came to work for NASA. Autobiography in Clarke’s anthology The Coming of the Space Age (1967).  Werner von Braun said “Oberth was the first.” (Died 1989) [John Hertz]
  • Born June 25, 1903 George Orwell, born Eric Blair in 1903. Animal Farm is fantasy of a political sort, but 1984 is clearly genre, and it may hold the record for the most neologisms added to English by a single SF book. Orwell was mostly known as a journalist and essayist, including his spats with H.G. Wells, most notably in “Wells, Hitler and the World State”. (Died 1950.) [Alan Baumler]
  • Born June 25, 1925 June Lockhart, 98. Maureen Robinson on Lost in Space which amazingly only ran for three seasons. She has a number of genre one-offs including Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., The Greatest American Hero and Babylon 5. She appeared in the Lost in Space film as Principal Cartwright. 
  • Born June 25, 1935 Charles Sheffield. He was the President of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America and of the American Astronautical Society. He won both the Nebula and Hugo Awards for his novelette “Georgia on My Mind” and a John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best SF Novel for Brother to Dragons which is an amazing read. Much of his fiction is in his Heritage Universe series; the linked short stories of space traveler Arthur Morton McAndrew are a sheer comic delight. Besides his Hugo Award at ConAdian (1994) for “Georgia on My Mind”, he had several nominations as well. Chicon V (1991) picked two, “A Braver Thing” novelette and the “Godspeed” short story.  Oh, and he was toastmaster at BucConeer. (Died 2002.)
  • Born June 25, 1947 John Maddox Roberts, 76. Here for being prolific with his Conan pastiches, seven to date so far. I’ll also single out his The SPQR series beginning with SPQR which are police-procedural mystery novels set in Ancient Rome. Someone at the Libertarian Futurist Society really, really likes the Island Worlds as it has been nominated three times for the Prometheus Hall of Fame.
  • Born June 25, 1956 Anthony Bourdain. That’s a death that hit me hard. Partly because he’s round my age, partly because, damn, he seemed so interested in everything that I couldn’t conceive him committing suicide. And yes, he was one of us with three works to his credit: Get Jiro!, (with Joe Rose and Langdon Foss), Get Jiro: Blood and Sushi (with Joe Rose and Ale Garza) and Hungry Ghosts (with Joel Rose, Alberto Ponticelli, Irene Koh, Paul Pope). The first two are on DC, the latter‘s on Berger Books. (Died 2018.)
  • Born June 25, 1981 Sheridan Smith, 42. She makes the Birthday list for being Lucie Miller, a companion to the Eighth Doctor in his Big Finish audio adventures starting in 2006 and running through at least this year. Her only video genre work was being in The Huntsman: Winter’s War as Mrs Bromwyn.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Bizarro introduces us to King Kong’s mom.

(11) TO THE THIRD POWER. Paul Weimer praises a trilogy with a satisfying ending: “Review: The Ivory Tomb by Melissa Caruso” at Nerds of a Feather. “Melissa Caruso finishes the Rooks and Ruin trilogy, as Ryx and her friends must deal with the return of all the demons of legend and myth to the world.”

It’s not been a good time for Ryx. After the revelations of the second book in the series (the main one I will discuss anon), The Quicksilver Court, and the disastrous events, she and the rest of the magical-problem solving Rookery are on the backfoot. All the demons are on the loose, both the Vaskandrans and Serene Empire seem to be ready to pummel each other. But the Rookery is still in the fight, hoping to get new and old friends together to oppose the world-spanning threat.

This is the story of The Ivory Tomb, the third and final volume in Caruso’s Rooks and Ruin series, her second series set in her world of Vaskandar and the Serene Empire….

(12) KEEPING AN EAR ON ANIME. This month Anime Explorations’ Summer of JoJo continues with the second season of the series, and the first half of the Stardust Crusaders arc of the story, with their first pair of JoJos, and introducing the concept of Stands into the series. “Anime Explorations Podcast: Episode 9: JoJo Part 2 – Stardust Crusaders (Road to Egypt Arc)”.

(13) FLAME ON. The Hunger Games star finds hunger isn’t always a bad alternative: “Jennifer Lawrence Sobs in Pain While Eating Spicy Wings” on Hot Ones, where they taste progressively spicier sauces.

(14) LIKE YOU NEED TEENY-TINY BRANDING IRONS FOR ANTS. “How To Visit This Secret Trader Joe’s in California” at Apartment Therapy.

Taking a trip to your local Trader Joe’s is probably a highlight of your week, so if you got the chance to check out the most secretive Trader Joe’s in the country, that might just make your entire year. There’s a hidden (and exclusive!) Trader Joe’s in Irvine, California, that’s making waves on social media. You need a ticket to get in and … it’s completely pint-sized.

This top-secret Trader Joe’s is located inside Pretend City Children’s Museum, and the entire store has been shrunken down to give children the experience of grocery shopping. Natasha, the creator behind the Trader Joe’s List Instagram account, visited the spot that comes with child-sized shopping carts, make-believe food, faux flower bouquets, and pretend cash registers….

(15) MARKS THE SPOT. Whatever happened to the “on the internet no one knows you’re a dog” meme? Ryan George’s new video shows what it would be like “If Dogs Had Podcasts”.

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. And HISHE says this is “How The Super Mario Bros Movie Should Have Ended”.

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

Pixel Scroll 6/18/23 I Think There Is A World Market For About Five Pixel Scrolls

(1) STOKERCON 2024. Next year the Horror Writers Association will hold StokerCon in San Diego, CA from May 30-June 2. Here’s the Eventbrite listing: StokerCon 2024 Tickets.

(2) 3-BODY TRAILER FROM G-O-T CREATORS. “3 Body Problem: Netflix Show From Game of Thrones Creators Has Trailer” reports Variety.

At long last, Netflix has revealed the first footage of its highly anticipated sci-fi epic from “Game of Thrones” creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss — their first large-scale project at the streamer since signing a mega overall deal in 2019 — and Alexander Woo.

Based on the book series by Cixin Liu, the eight-episode drama, which recently wrapped production, will launch in January 2024.

Per Netflix’s logline for the sci-fi series, “A young woman’s fateful decision in 1960s China reverberates across space and time to a group of brilliant scientists in the present day. As the laws of nature unravel before their eyes, five former colleagues reunite to confront the greatest threat in humanity’s history.”…

(3) BAD B.O. “Pixar’s ‘Elemental’ Falls Flat, Adding to Worries About the Brand” opines the New York Times.

Pixar is damaged as a big-screen brand.

That was one of the rather glum takeaways from the weekend box office, which found “Elemental,” a $200 million-plus Pixar original, arriving to a disastrous $29.5 million in domestic ticket sales. “The Flash,” a Warner Bros. superhero spectacle that cost about $200 million, also struggled, taking in a lethargic $55.1 million, according to Comscore, which compiles ticketing data.

“Hard to sugarcoat this,” said David A. Gross, a film consultant who publishes a newsletter on box office numbers.

Questions about Pixar’s health have swirled in Hollywood and among investors since last June, when the Disney-owned studio released “Lightyear” to disastrous results. How could Pixar, the gold standard of animation studios for nearly three decades, have gotten a movie so wrong — especially one about Buzz Lightyear, a bedrock “Toy Story” character?

Maybe pandemic-worried families were not quite ready to return to theaters. Or maybe, as some box office analysts speculated, Disney had weakened the Pixar brand by using its films to build the Disney+ streaming service. Starting in late 2020, Disney debuted three Pixar films in a row (“Soul,” “Turning Red” and “Luca”) online, bypassing theaters altogether.

By streaming standards, those three movies were runaway hits. But Pixar’s most recent box office success was in 2019, when “Toy Story 4” took in $1.1 billion worldwide…

(4) MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE PIECE THEATRE. Cora Buhlert has posted a new Masters of the Universe toy photo story — or rather two short ones in time for the US Father’s Day: “Two Links and a Masters-of-the-Universe-Piece Theatre Double Feature: ‘New Dad’ and ‘Orko Interruptus’”.

…This version of King Randor is based on the 2002 cartoon, where Randor was protrayed as a somewhat younger and more active character than his Filmation counterpart. While the Filmation Randor mostly set around on his throne and occasionally gave a speech, the 2002 Randor charged into battle alongside his warriors on occasion and also seemed to do more actual governing. The 2002 cartoon also established that Randor was captain of the guard, i.e. Teela’s current, before he became king. All in all, I’d say that the 2002 cartoon features the best overall King Randor – and Randor is a difficult character, because his raison d’etre is to be the parent who does not understand or even see their child – though the Netflix CGI features the best version of Randor as a father. In case you’re wondering which version of King Randor is the worst, that would be the King Randor of Masters of the Universe Revelation, who narrowly missed winning the 2021 Darth Vader Parenthood Award

(5) AGENT OF CHAOS. But trolls have made Father’s Day rough for Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki as he told Twitter readers:

Hows my Father’s day going? Saw @virtuallyleslie wrote a racist manifesto where she said I only get attention cuz of political correctness. Her supremacist cult friends are on it, including the one impersonating my dead father who was gruesomely murdered, to defame & harass me

Patrick S. Tomlinson also has commented on what Leslie Varney wrote, and the significance of it coming from an agent. Thread starts here.

Leslie Varney wrote a reply thread that starts here.

(6) ONCE UPON A BIRTHDAY. Brian Murphy profiles Lin Carter for what would have been his 93rd birthday: “Lin Carter: Enthusiast of the Fantastic” at Goodman Games.

…. I love Carter’s illuminating and occasionally gushing introductions to the volumes he edited. Introducing readers to William Morris in the BAFS, Carter makes a compelling case that his The Wood Beyond the World (1895) was the first-ever novel of heroic fantasy ever written in a true secondary world, quipping that “it was the first of all such tales of adventurous wanderings through the marvelous landscapes of worlds which have somehow managed to avoid the wear and tear of ever having actually existed.”…

(7) FREE READ. Issue 7 of Whetstone Amateur Magazine of Sword and Sorcery has just come out and is available as a free download: Whetstone: Amateur Magazine of Pulp Sword and Sorcery: Issue 7.

(8) MEMORY LANE.

1999[Written by Cat Eldridge from a choice by Mike Glyer.]

Vernor Vinge’s A Deepness in The Sky is our Beginning this Scroll.  It won a much deserved Hugo at Chicon 2000 along with a John W. Campbell Memorial Award and a Prometheus Award for Best Libertarian SF Novel. It was also nominated for a HOMer and a Nebula as well. Damn impressive I’d say.

The novel is a loose prequel and is set twenty thousand years earlier to his A Fire Upon the Deep which was published previously. 

So let’s get to the Beginning…

The manhunt extended across more than one hundred light-years and eight centuries. It had always been a secret search, unacknowledged even among some of the participants. In the early years, it had simply been encrypted queries hidden in radio broadcasts. Decades and centuries passed. There were clues, interviews with The Man’s fellow-travelers, pointers in a half-dozen contradictory directions: The Man was alone now and heading still farther away; The Man had died before the search ever began; The Man had a war fleet and was coming back upon them. 

With time, there was some consistency to the most credible stories. The evidence was solid enough that certain ships changed schedules and burned decades of time to look for more clues. Fortunes were lost because of the detours and delays, but the losses were to a few of the largest trading Families, and went unacknowledged. They were rich enough, and this search was important enough, that it scarcely mattered. For the search had narrowed: The Man was traveling alone, a vague blur of multiple identities, a chain of one-shot jobs on minor trading vessels, but always moving back and back into this end of Human Space. The hunt narrowed from a hundred light-years, to fifty, to twenty—and a half-dozen star systems. 

And finally, the manhunt came down to a single world at the coreward end of Human Space. Now Sammy could justify a fleet specially for the end of the hunt. The crew and even most of the owners would not know the mission’s true purpose, but he had a good chance of finally ending the search.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born June 18, 1917 Richard Boone. He did only two genre roles of which one, playing Maston Thrust Jr. in The Last Dinosaur, I’m willing to bet almost all of you have never seen it. (It gets a fifty percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes.) The other however is one that nearly everyone here has heard, yes heard, as he voiced Smaug in the Rankin/Bass animated version of The Hobbit. Of course his major non-genre role was as Paladin in Have Gun, Will Travel which I’ve seen every episode of at least three times. Really I have. (Died 1981.)
  • Born June 18, 1931 Dick Spelman. A fan and a legendary book dealer who was active at SF conventions from the late Seventies through the early Nineties. He chaired Windycon IX in 1982. He was a member of the board of directors of Chicon IV, and ran the Dealers’ Room at many Worldcons. In 1991 he sold his book business to Larry Smith and retired to Orlando, where he was active in local fannish affairs. (Died 2012.)
  • Born June 18, 1942 Roger Ebert. He got his start as a fanzine writer while in high school, publishing the Stymie zine and having his writing appear in XeroYandro and many other zines such as KippleParsection and Psi-Phi. At university, he was a member of the Champaign-Urbana Science Fiction Association. His fannish  autobiography is  How Propellor-Heads, BNFs, Sercon Geeks, Newbies, Recovering GAFIAtors and Kids in Basements Invented the World Wide Web, All Except for the Delivery System. Mike has much to say about him in a obituary here. (Died 2013.)
  • Born June 18, 1958 Jody Lee, 65. Illustrator with a long career in genre work. Her first cover art was Jo Clayton’s Changer’s Moon for DAW Books in 1985. Her latest is Passages: All-New Tales of Valdemar, a Mercedes Lackey anthology from DAW Books which seems to be her primary client. Her most stellar website is here.
  • Born June 18, 1960 Barbara Broccoli, 63. Daughter of the late James Bond producer Albert R. “Cubby” Broccoli. She has producer or director credit on at least fourteen Bond films which or may not be genre depending on how you view each one of them. Her only acting role is as an uncredited Opera patron in The Living Daylights. She produced the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang production staged in NYC at the Hilton Theater sixteen years ago. 
  • Born June 18, 1947 Linda Thorson, 76. Best known for playing Tara King, the only actual spy in The Avengers. For her role in that series, she received a special BAFTA at the 2000 BAFTA TV Awards along with the other three actresses from the series, Honor Blackman, Joanna Lumley and Diana Rigg. She’s also been in Return of the SaintTales from the DarksideStar Trek: The Next GenerationKung Fu: The Legend ContinuesF/X: The Series and Monsters
  • Born June 18, 1949 Chris Van Allsburg, 74. For some twenty years now until the Pandemic came upon us, the local Narrow Gauge Railroad ran a Polar Express every Christmas season compete with cars decorated in high Victorian fashion and steaming cups of hot chocolate for the children. It always sold out for the entire month they ran it. Allsburg‘s Polar Express book is just magical for me and I enjoy his Jumanji every bit as much. (I’ve never seen the film.) He illustrated A City in Winter which was written by Mark Helprin and I highly recommended it. 

(10) COMICS SECTION.

(11) ROLLING THE CREDITS. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Descendants of Jack Kirby seem none too happy about the recently-released Disney+ documentary on Stan Lee’s life. Granddaughter Jillian Kirby has published a statement from her father Neal Kirby at the latter’s request. 

Among other things, Neil provides an analogy for Lee having an idea for a character to others bringing the character to life. “In 1501, the Opera del Duomo commissioned a 26-year-old Michelangelo to sculpt a statue of David for the Cathedral of Florence—their idea, their money. The statue is called Michelangelo’s David—his genius, his vision, his creativity.” “Jack Kirby’s Son, Neal Kirby Responds to Stan Lee Disney+ Documentary” at Bleeding Cool.

The following is an excerpt of the statement from Neal Kirby, son of the late Jack Kirby.

…I (000ps!) understand that, as a “documentary about Stan Lee,” most of the narrative is in his voice, literally and figuratively. It’s not any big secret that there has always been controversy over the parts that were played in the creation and success of Marvel’s characters. Stan Lee had the fortunate circumstance to have access to the corporate megaphone and media, and he used these to create his own mythos as to the creation of the Marvel character pantheon. He made himself the voice of Marvel. So, for several decades he was the “only” man standing, and blessed with a long life, the last man standing (my father died in 1994). It should also be noted and is generally accepted that Stan Lee had a limited knowledge of history, mythology, or science.

On the other hand, my father’s knowledge of these subjects, to which I and many others can personally attest, was extensive. Einstein summed it up better; “More the knowledge, lesser the ego. Lesser the knowledge, more the ego.”

If you were to look at a list and timeline of Marvel’s characters from 1960 through 1966, the period in which the vast majority of Marvel’s major characters were created during Lee’s tenure, you will see Lee’s name as a co-creator on every character, with the exception of the Silver Surfer, solely created by my father. Are we to assume Lee had a hand in creating every Marvel character? Are we to assume that the other co-creator never walked into Lee’s office and said, “Stan, I have a great idea for a character!” According to Lee, it was always his idea. Lee spends a fair amount of time talking about how and why he created the Fantastic Four, with only one fleeting reference to my father. Indeed, most comics historians recognize that my father based the Fantastic Four on a 1957 comic he created for DC, “Challengers of the Unknown,” even naming Ben Grimm (The Thing) after his father Benjamin, and Sue Storm after my older sister Susan.

Though the conflict between Lee and my father concerning creator credit gets glanced over with little mention, there is more attention paid to the strife between Lee and Steve Ditko, with Lee’s voice proclaiming, “It was my idea, therefore I created the character,” Ditko’s rebuttal being that his art and storyline is what brought life to Spiderman. In 1501, the Opera del Duomo commissioned a 26-year-old Michelangelo to sculpt a statue of David for the Cathedral of Florence – their idea, their money. The statue is called Michelangelo’s David – his genius, his vision, his creativity.

I was very fortunate. My father worked at home in his Long Island basement studio we referred to as “The Dungeon,” usually 14 – 16 hours a day, seven days a week. Most of the artists, writers, inkers, etc. worked at home, not in the Marvel offices as depicted in the program. Through middle and high school, I was able to stand at my father’s left shoulder, peer through a cloud of cigar smoke, and witness the Marvel Universe being created. I am by no means a comics historian, but there are few, if any, that have personally seen or experienced what I have, and know the truth with first-hand knowledge.

My father retired from comic books in the early 1980s and of course, passed away in 1994. Lee had over 35 years of uncontested publicity, much naturally, with the backing and blessing of Marvel as he boosted the Marvel brand as a side effect of boosting himself. The decades of Lee’s self-promotion culminated with his cameo appearances in over 35 Marvel films starting with “X-Men” in 2000, thus cementing his status as the creator of all things Marvel to an otherwise unknowing movie audience of millions, unfamiliar with the true history of Marvel comics. My father’s first screen credit didn’t appear until the closing crawl at the end of the film adaptation of Iron Man in 2008, after Stan Lee, Don Heck, and Larry Lieber. The battle for creator’s rights has been around since the first inscribed Babylonian tablet. It’s way past time to at least get this one chapter of literary/art history right. ‘Nuff said.

(12) JEOPARDY! [Item by David Goldfarb.] On Thursday’s episode there was a full category of “21st Century horror novels”, which the contestants took in order.

  • Returning champ Holly Hassel
  • Kiran MacCormick
  • Suzanne Goldlust

$200: Christina Henry’s “Looking Glass” is the last book in a chilling trilogy about a woman with this 5-letter name

Returning champ Holly Hassel tried: “What is Megan?”

Her name was Alice. (As in “Through the Looking-Glass”….)

$400: In Grady Hendrix’ “How to Sell” this place, it has a sealed attic & creepy puppet collection & Redfin will be no help

Suzanne Goldlust knew or guessed: “What is a haunted house?”

$600: The Scooby Gang was often accused of being these, the title of a book by Edgar Cantero about 4 teens with a telepathic pooch

Suzanne said, “What are meddling teens?”

Holly tried “What are those meddling kids?” but this was not accepted, as the title of the book was just “Meddling Kids”.

$800: Megan James pays homage to this horror master & his creation Cthulhu with her graphic novel “Innsmouth”

Holly knew this one.

$1000: Clive Barker’s “Scarlet Gospel” revisits the Hellraiser universe where this prickly priest of Hell mans the pulpit

Holly knew this one too: “Who is Pinhead?”

In the Double Jeopardy round, there was one:

TV Criminals, $800: The villainous supe Homelander on this series is the leader of The Seven, a group of some not-so-super heroes

This was triple stumper: nobody was familiar with the comic “The Boys” or its Amazon Prime adaptation. (I quibble with the question here. The Seven are super enough! It’s the “hero” part that should be getting the “not-so-“.)

(13) TURA SATANA. [Item by Steve Green.] Tura Satana, whose movie credits included The Astro-Zombies (1968) and its 2004 ‘reimaging’, is now an action figure, based upon her role in the 1965 cult classic Faster Pussycat… Kill! Kill!

Ms Satana, who died in 2011, was smart enough to trademark her own likeness, and this is apparently the first officially-licensed figure. It’s a collaboration between White Elephant Toyz and the publisher PlaidStallions (as Odeon Toys). “Tura Satana Action Figure Pre-Orders now open!”.

… This limited edition action figure is 8″ tall and features a detailed outfit, natural hair, motorcycle gloves, and boots. Tura is ready to kick your other action figures’ asses.

Each Tura Satana Action figure comes in vintage style packaging with striking artwork by Joseph Michael Linsner, creator of “Dawn.”…

(14) FIRST AMERICAN WOMAN IN SPACE. The National Air and Space Museum remembers “Sally Ride”.

40 years ago today, Dr. Sally K. Ride became the first American woman in space, launching aboard Space Shuttle Challenger on the STS-7 mission.

Dr. Sally Kristen Ride was a physicist, astronaut, educator, and advocate for young people in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Best remembered as the first American woman in space, Ride’s tenure as an astronaut was but one chapter in a long and impactful career.

Ride was accepted to the astronaut corps in 1978 as a member of Astronaut Group 8—NASA’s first astronaut class to include women. On June 18, 1983, when Dr. Sally K. Ride became the first American woman in space, she challenged long-held stereotypes about who would make a good astronaut. Ride spent more than two weeks in space over the course of two missions, STS-7 and STS-41G. Ride operated one of the Space Shuttle’s most important tools—the robotic arm—and loved taking photos of Earth from space.

When Ride retired from NASA in 1987, she dedicated herself to educating and inspiring learners. For more than 18 years she taught physics at the University of California San Diego. In 2001, Ride founded Imaginary Lines (now Sally Ride Science) with her partner, Dr. Tam O’Shaughnessy, to inspire girls and young women to explore science careers.

(15) ANKYLOBITERS. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] A new dinosaur has been found on the Isle of Wight so the BBC reports.

Don’t worry, it’s dead! So we are all safe. (Phew.) If you do go to the Isle of Wight to hunt for dinosaurs (they really all are dead) then I recommend a beer and food at the Crab and Lobster Inn. The view from outside to the left is mainland Brit Cit while straight ahead and left is the English Channel with a view of The Nab tower a few miles offshore and transatlantic liners going around the point.

But if you can’t be bothered then there is the primary research paper.

…It is the first new species of armoured dinosaur to be found on the island since 1865 and belongs to the same family – the ankylosaurs.

Though fearsome in appearance with its blade-like armour, the giant reptile – which has been named Vectipelta barretti – only ate plants.

It was discovered in rocks dating back between 66 and 145 million years….

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Here’s the teaser trailer for One Piece.

Here’s a first look at the live action adaptation of the most popular manga in history, written by Eiichiro Oda. ONE PIECE sets sail on August 31st only on Netflix.

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, Cora Buhlert, David Goldfarb, Steve Green, Rich Lynch, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]

Pixel Scroll 6/6/23 The Magic Morlock, So Pixeled And So New

(1) KGB. Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present Nathan Ballingrud and Dale Bailey on Wednesday, June 14 at 7:00 p.m. Eastern. Where: KGB Bar, 85 East 4th Street, New York, NY 10003 (Just off 2nd Ave, upstairs).

Nathan Ballingrud

Nathan Ballingrud is the author of The StrangeWounds: Six Stories from the Border of Hell, and North American Lake Monsters, which won the Shirley Jackson Award. A novella, Crypt of the Moon Spider, will appear in 2024. He has been shortlisted for the World Fantasy, British Fantasy, and Bram Stoker Awards. His stories have been adapted into the Hulu series Monsterland. He lives in Asheville, NC.

Dale Bailey

Dale Bailey is the author of This Island Earth: 8 Features From the Drive-In and eight previous books, including In the Night Wood and The End of the End of Everything. His story “Death and Suffrage” was adapted for Showtime’s Masters of Horror television series. He has won the Shirley Jackson Award and the International Horror Guild Award, and has been a finalist for the World Fantasy, Nebula, Locus, and Bram Stoker awards. He lives in North Carolina with his family.

(2) THESE FIGURES ADD UP. Cora Buhlert’s latest Masters of the Universe action figure photo story is “The Prisoner of Castle Grayskull Revisited”.

Masters of the Universe: Revelation never really goes into what happens to Duncan, after Lyn gets the Power. We only see him again, after he has escaped from the dungeon with the help of the tentacled creature known as the Orlax of Primeria and joins the battle outside Castle Grayskull.

But would Lyn really ignore her favourite prisoner? I don’t think so, so let’s see what happens when the powered up Lyn goes to see Duncan in the dungeon.

In the dungeons deep underneath Castle Grayskull…

(3) SPIDER-VERSE NETS BIG DOLLARS. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse opened to $120.5 million in North America, the third-biggest opening ever for an animated film, as well as a best-ever for Sony Animation. According to Deadline:

Among all animated pic domestic openings, Spider-Verse is sixth behind Incredibles 2 ($182.6 million), Super Mario Bros ($146.3 million), Finding Dory ($135 million), Frozen 2 ($130.2 million) and Toy Story 4 ($120.9 million). 

NPR analyzes why the film is drawing a big audience in “’Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ stats show how representation works”.

Turns out inclusivity also means more people want to give you their money! The early box office figures for the new Spider-Man film — and the demographic data of moviegoers — paint a vivid picture.

Who is he? There are plenty of variations on who Spider-Man is, and now Miles Morales is getting the spotlight….

What’s the big deal? The most recent film in the series, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse has made even bigger headlines and received rave reviews.

  • The film grossed $208 million worldwide in its opening weekend, roughly three times as much as the opening of the first film, as reported by NPR’s critic, Bob Mondello.
  • And while in his review Mondello cites the inventive animation and plot as contributing to the success, he says that the diversity on screen was a huge draw for audiences.
  • That ranges from the main hero portrayed by Shameik Moore, to the several Spider-women featured, as well as the India based Spider-guy, Pavitr Prabhakar.
  • According to Mondello’s reporting, the film opened strongly in 59 countries. In North America, exit tracking found that the audience was about one-third Latino and another third Black and Asian, diversity percentages far higher than for most superhero films.

(4) COULD IT BE…TRINITROTRITICALE? The filmmaker insisted on a real crop of wheat for scenes in his movie.“Zack Snyder Goes Galactic: Exclusive First Look at ‘Rebel Moon’” at Vanity Fair.

Zack Snyder is world-building once again with Rebel Moon. This time the 300 and Justice League filmmaker is creating not just one world but a sprawling menagerie of planets, full of cyborg warriors with molten-metal swords, giant half-humanoid arachnids, and ancient robots that seem to have emerged more from medieval times than the future. The new Netflix space saga that Snyder directed and cowrote extends far beyond the verdant orb of the title. That moon is actually one of the more modest worlds. It circles an immense gas giant at a distant edge of the galaxy and is populated mainly by farmers. It’s nowhere special, but it’s about to change the balance of power in this fictional universe.

While any sci-fi extravaganza naturally features copious digital effects, Snyder also used his estimated budget of at least $166 million to manifest as much of it in real life as possible. In a Santa Clarita canyon just outside Los Angeles, a full-size abandoned starfighter decays not far from what appears to be an idyllic Scandinavian-style village, complete with clusters of homes, shops, and barns, as well as a stone bridge arching over a crystalline river. (Team Snyder also built the river.) Vast fields of actual wheat sprout from desert hardpan never meant for such lush growth, but Snyder insisted on real crops for his farmers to harvest and defend. Just over the rocky hillside sits another Rebel Moon set for a larger community known as Providence that looks like an Old West metropolis.  All of these are just locations on the moon of the title; there are other worlds beyond.…

(5) FILM HAS NEW NAME BUT YOU’LL RECOGNIZE THE SHIELD. Yahoo! is on hand when “Marvel Announces ‘Captain America 4’ Retitled as ‘Brave New World’”.

…Brave New World comes on the heels of the events of Avengers: Endgame and the Disney+ series The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. The former saw Chris Evans’ Steve Rogers pass the Captain America shield on to Mackie’s Sam Wilson, who had been serving as hero Falcon since Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which released in 2014…

(6) GRIFANT Q&A. Space Cowboys Books will host an online reading and interview with KC Grifant on Tuesday June 13 at 6:00 p.m. Pacific. Register for free here.

In an Old West overrun by monsters, a stoic gunslinger must embark on a dangerous quest to save her friends and stop a supernatural war. Sharpshooter Melinda West, 29, has encountered more than her share of supernatural creatures after a monster infection killed her mother. Now, Melinda and her charismatic partner, Lance, offer their exterminating services to desperate towns, fighting everything from giant flying scorpions to psychic bugs. But when they accidentally release a demon, they must track a dangerous outlaw across treacherous lands and battle a menagerie of creatures-all before an army of soul-devouring monsters descend on Earth. Supernatural meets Bonnie and Clyde in a re-imagined Old West full of diverse characters, desolate landscapes, and fast-paced adventure.
Get your copy of Melinda West: Monster Gunslinger here.

(7) DENNY LIEN MEMORIAL ITEMS. A memorial celebration was held on June 2 for Minneapolis fan Denny Lien, who died April 15.

The photo stream about Denny Lien’s life put together by David Dyer-Bennett for the memorial celebration (which was not screened due to equipment problems) can be viewed on DD-B’s Facebook feed.

At the memorial co-editors Karen Schaffer and Geri Sullivan distributed copies of the 32-page sampler of Denny’s fanwriting, LienZine, now available at eFanzines. Their introduction begins:

Denny Lien was Minneapolis fandom’s gentle giant. He was a research librarian at the University of Minnesota, and a mainstay of Minneapolis fandom back in the day. His height and impressive muttonchops could be intimidating on first encounter, but his quiet and calm demeanor was reassuring. He was also a prolific, erudite, and funny writer, with a fondness for parodies, puns, and imaginative flights of speculation. His letters to newspapers range from stern factual corrections to delightful skewering of logical fallacies. He wrote columns and articles for science fiction fanzines and APAs (Amateur Press Associations). He exercised his skill for parody in musical lyrics, especially in the beloved local production of Midwest Side Story. He even enlivened the minutes from the local science fiction club Minn-StF during his times as secretary.

For this memorial fanzine, we tried to include a representative cross section of his prodigious output, though we undoubtedly missed many gems. Perhaps you, the reader, will discover more someday. 

They suggest if LienZine leaves you looking to make a donation in Denny’s memory, make it to the Down Under Fan Fund or Habitat for Humanity.

(8) MEMORY LANE.

2010[Written by Cat Eldridge from a choice by Mike Glyer.]

Catherine Asaro is the writer who provides our Beginning this Scroll. 

She is best known for her books about the Ruby Dynasty, called the Saga of the Skolian Empire.  The Ruby Dice, one of those novels,is the source of our Beginning. 

It was first published thirteen years ago by Baen Books and in audio format by Recorded Books. 

Digging around the net, I discovered the Point Valid band had worked with her. Their second CD, Diamond Star, released fourteen years ago, is considered the soundtrack for Asaro’s novel of that name. She provides vocals on several tracks including “Ancient Ages” and her voice is quite excellent indeed. That album is available on Apple Music and I assume elsewhere. 

It’s worth noting that she’s a member of SIGMA, a think tank of speculative writers that advises the government as to future trends affecting national security.  

My favorite works by her are this series plus The Quantum Rose series and her last novel, The Jigsaw Assassin.  I can’t say that I’ve read he short fiction, so do tell me about it please. 

And now for The Ruby Dice Beginning…

Prologue

The Emperor of the Eubian Concord ruled the largest empire ever known to the human race, over two trillion people across more than a thousand worlds and habitats. It was a thriving, teeming civilization of beautiful complexity, and if it was also the greatest work of despotism in all history, its ruling caste had managed to raise their denial of that truth also to heights greater than ever before known.

Lost in such thoughts, the emperor stood in a high room of his palace and stared out a floor-to-ceiling window at the nighttime city below. The sparkle of its lights created a visual sonata that soothed his vision, if not his heart. At the age of twenty-six, Jaibriol the Third had weathered nine years of his own rule. Somehow, despite the assassination attempts, betrayals, and gilt-edged cruelty of his life, he survived.

Tonight the emperor grieved.

He mourned the loss of his innocence and his joy in life. His title was a prison as confining as the invisible bonds that held the billions of slaves he owned and wished he could free.

Most of all, he mourned his family. Ten years ago tonight, his parents had died in a spectacular explosion recorded and broadcast a million times across settled space. In the final battle of the Radiance War between his people and the Skolian Imperialate, the ship carrying his parents had detonated. He had seen that recording again and again, until it was seared into his mind.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born June 6, 1947 Robert Englund, 76. I think his best performance was as Blackie on the very short-lived Nightmare Cafe. Of course, most will remember him playing Freddy Krueger in the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise. He actually appeared in a couple of now forgotten horror films, Dead & Buried and Galaxy of Terror, before landing that role. And he’s continued to do myriad horror films down to the years ranging from CHUD to Strippers vs Werewolves. Versatile man, our Robert.  
  • Born June 6, 1951 Geraldine McCaughrean, 72. Fifteen years ago, she wrote Peter Pan in Scarlet, the official sequel to Peter Pan commissioned by Great Ormond Street Hospital, the holder of Peter Pan’s copyright which J.M. Barrie granted them. So has anyone here read it? 
  • Born June 6, 1959 Amanda Pays, 64. I first encountered her as Thero Jones on Max Headroom, a series I think could be considered the best SF series ever made. She also had a guest role as Phoebe Green in the episode “Fire” of The X-Files, and and as Christina “Tina” McGee in The Flash. She appeared as Dawn in the Spacejacked film. 
  • Born June 6, 1961 Lisabeth Shatner, 62. Uncredited as a child along with her sister Melanie in “Miri” episode. Also appeared uncredited on TekWar entitled “Betrayal” which she wrote. The latter also guest-starred her sister, and was directed by their father.  Co-wrote with father, Captain’s Log: William Shatner’s Personal Account of the Making of Star Trek V the Final Frontier.
  • Born June 6, 1963 Jason Isaacs, 60. Captain Gabriel Lorca, the commanding officer of the USS Discovery in the first season of Discovery and also provided the voice of The Inquisitor, Sentinel, in Star Wars Rebels, and Admiral Zhao in Avatar: The Last Airbender. Oh, and the role of playing Lucius Malfoy in the Harry Potter film franchise.
  • Born June 6, 1973 Guy Haley, 50. British author of the Richards & Klein Investigations series, a cyberpunk noir series where the partners are an android and an AI. His regular paycheck comes from his Warhammer 40,000 work where he’s written a baker’s dozen novels so far. Not surprisingly, he’s got a novel coming out in their Warhammer Crime imprint which, though I’ve read no other Warhammer 40.000 fiction, I’m interested in seeing how they do it.
  • Born June 6, 1973 Patrick Rothfuss, 50. He is best known for the Kingkiller Chronicle series, which won him several awards, including the 2007 Quill Award for his first novel, The Name of the Wind. He also won the Gemmell Award for The Wise Man’s Fear. Before The Name of the Wind was released, an excerpt from the novel was released as a short story titled “The Road to Levinshir” and it won the Writers of the Future contest in 2002. 

(10) DRAWN FROM THE SOURCE. Publishers Weekly’s questions about her latest book leads them to revelations about “Tananarive Due’s Haunted History”.

Tananarive Due’s new novel The Reformatory (Saga, Aug.) opens with this dedication: “For Robert Stephens, my great-uncle who died at the Dozier School for Boys in Marianna, Florida, in 1937. He was fifteen years old.”

Due learned of Stephens’s existence 10 years ago, when she got a call from the Florida state attorney general’s office telling her she likely had a relative buried at the Dozier School, a reform school operated by the state from 1900 to 2011 that has become notorious for its horrific abuse of students. This brutality resulted in the deaths of dozens of boys who were then buried on the premises. After getting the call, Due and her father traveled to the site and attended a meeting of survivors.

Speaking via Zoom from her home office in Upland, Calif., clad in black and with posters for several of her works framed on the wall behind her, Due recalls the meeting: “I heard the firsthand testimony of survivors, Black and white, and the things that they had been through,” she says. “Some of those stories I will just never forget.”

Due mentions a man who spoke about receiving a beating so violent that the school physician had to remove pieces of his clothing from the lash marks on his back. “And this was a white man,” she notes, “which I say because if you’re talking about the segregation era, the 1960s and the 1950s, if they’re treating white students like that—white prisoners—you can only imagine how they’re treating the Black prisoners.”

Learning of her personal connection to the institution inspired Due to write The Reformatory, a ghost story that fictionalizes the experience of her great-uncle at Dozier. It’s set in 1950, when 12-year-old Black boy Robert Stephens is convicted of the crime of kicking a white boy. After being sent to the Gracetown Reformatory for Boys, Stephens finds himself under the jurisdiction of the sadistic Superintendent Haddock.

The school is also crawling with the “haints,” or ghosts, of boys who were killed there, and Haddock soon discovers that Robert has a gift for spotting them….

… “My real wish was to create almost a historical fable,” Due says, “but built on reality, where I could raise awareness about the horrible things that happened at the Dozier School and in the Jim Crow South in general.” Using the format of a ghost story also allowed her to put a spotlight on a broken criminal justice system “without retraumatizing readers.”…

(11) ZILLIONS OF CATEGORIES, MISTER RICO! [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Oh my good ghod there are tons and tons and tons of categories here. And, despite the name of the award, it covers a lot more than just trailers. All that said, quite a percentage of the nominees are genre or genre related. “Golden Trailer Awards Nominations List: ‘Stranger Things,’ ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,’ ‘Ted Lasso’ & ‘Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery’ Among Most Nominated” at Deadline.

The Golden Trailer Awards has unveiled its nominees for its 23rd annual extravaganza taking place on Thursday, June 29th at The Orpheum Theatre in Los Angeles. The awards show honors the creative teams that are tasked with condensing two-hour films into two-minute trailers.

Films that received the most mentions include Black Panther: Wakanda ForeverDungeons & Dragons: Honor Among ThievesGlass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, Nope and Oppenheimer. The TV series that were the most nominated included Ted LassoStranger Things and Only Murders in the Building.

This awards show highlights the phenomenal trailers from the current year. The 2023 jury comprises an illustrious lineup of A-list directors, producers, actors, writers, executives, and advertising creatives. Winners are awarded in categories such as Best Action, Comedy, Drama, Documentary, Horror, Foreign, Video Game, Romance, and more….

(12) TRANSFORMERS FRANCHISE POPULARITY RANKING. With the premiere this week of Transformers: Rise of the Beasts, JustWatch has checked how many people are viewing the various films in the Transformers franchise.

Classic Transformers claims the first position, followed closely by Bumblebee in second place, which outshines the third-ranked Transformers: The Last Knight. The sixth spot is occupied by Transformers: Dark of the Moon. completing the lineup.

(13) DON’T LET IT BUG YOU. Mant (1993) is the story of a man who has mutated into a giant ant.

This 16-minute film in glorious black and white is the complete ‘film within a film’, which was featured in Joe Dante’s Matinee from 1993. A parody or homage morphing of several low-budget science-fiction horror films of the 1950s (many in black & white) that fused radioactivity with mad science and mutation.

(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. The Good Omens Season 2 Opening Title Sequence has been released.

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Michael J. Walsh, Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, and SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]

Pixel Scroll 5/21/23 I Was Born Under A Scrollin’ Star

(1) HUGO FINALISTS AGED IN THE CASK. At Young People Read Old SFF, James Davis Nicoll gets the panel’s reaction to William F. Wu’s story “Hong’s Bluff”.

This month’s Young People Read Old Hugo Finalists story is William F. Wu’s Hugo and Nebula-nominated ​“Hong’s Bluff”. Wu has had a long career—the 50th anniversary of his first sale is only three years off — with a respectable collection of nominations and accolades. However, honesty requires me to admit this is the first Wu story I have ever read. It was certainly… energetic. Wu is now on my acquire list….

(2) DOCUMENTING THE IMPACT OF TREK. Nana Visitor is writing a book about the women of Star Trek and their effect on culture, and would like to hear from any women who are in the medical field and were inspired by Star Trek.

(3) BURIED ALIVE IN $$$. Paste Magazine’s Jacob Oller says, “The IP Era’s Venture Capital Philosophy Has Poisoned Movies”.

Among so many heinous problems trickling down on our heads from the top of the film industry is that of intellectual property. It’s not that adaptations are new, but that the ability to make a living by creating anything else has only recently been destroyed. IP obsession has killed the mid-budget movie, it’s killed the movie star, and it’s coming for the rest of the industry. This is as much a problem for audiences as for filmmakers (at any level), and it all comes from the same place: Unchecked greed, and the familiarity with which we accept it.

Tidy, consistent, sustainable profits—the kind of thing generated by movie studios that once offered a diverse slate of reasonably budgeted adult dramas, teen-date rom-coms, family films, and fence-swinging art movies—are a thing of the past for those in charge of the industry. Other forces from the entertainment world are certainly at play, specifically the rise of prestige TV as a destination for what the movies have abandoned. But the pivot to the IP Era feels simple, because it feels familiar. It’s because tidy, consistent, sustainable profits aren’t enough. There must be growth. There must be domination. There must be Shared Universes.

This attitude goes beyond being risk-averse. Risk aversion isn’t new. Single-minded speculation, trying to alchemize IP into gold, is.

The management decisions keeping workers from their fair pay—as described by Writers Guild of America board member John Rogers in a thread about the current strike—are the same ones milking old IP for all it’s worth: “The new robber barons of Hollywood are on a suicide run.” This shift is tech-bro economics, Wall Street-fellating “vulture capitalism” here to feast on the industry, not further it….

(4) ALT-INTELLIGENCE. Chris Panatier tweeted a very funny thread about an AI writing program run amuck. Thread starts here.

Here is another excerpt:

(5) NEBULA WINNERS CONSIDERED. Cora Buhlert offers “Some Thoughts on the 2022 Nebula Award Winners”. For example:

… The winner of the 2022 Nebula Award for Best Novella is Even Though I Knew the End by C.L. Polk. This is one win I’m fully aboard with, because Even Though I Knew the End mixes a lot of elements I like – urban fantasy with a retro noir setting, a hardboiled detective story and a wonderful love story. It’s a great novella and I hope to see it on the Hugo ballot this year….

(6) A TOY STORY. Cora Buhlert also released a new “Masters-of-the-Universe-Piece Theatre: ‘Playing for Dinner’”.

…So enjoy this story of Orko and Man-e-Faces, the two entertainers at the royal palace, teaming up and taking their show on the road.

On the market place of the city of Sarnscepter…

(7) AFROPANTHEOLOGY. The latest If This Goes On (Don’t Panic) podcast features “Publishing in Africa: Afropantheology with Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki”.

In this Episode of Publishing in Africa, Oghenechovwe and Alan [Bailey] discuss the meaning behind Afropantheology, Oghenechovwe’s plans for Afropantheology (including a new line of books), and the International Conference for Fantasy in the Arts.

(8) DEJA FU. This seemed like the perfect video to discover on the day I began rereading the Murderbot series. “Tesla Bot Update”.

(9) IT’S TIME. See “The Muppet Show” theater at LEGO Ideas. (And there are a lot more images in the updates.)

…For nearly 70 years, Jim Henson’s creations have captured the hearts of millions of fans around the world in movies, TV shows, Disney attractions, concerts, and more. Now, for the first time ever, join Kermit the Frog, Fozzie Bear, Miss Piggy, and the Great Gonzo in this zany recreation of the Muppet Show in LEGO form!

This miniature playset beautifully houses some of the Muppet’s most hilarious and endearing production numbers through the years. The theater proscenium features an ornate red and gold facade harkening back to the show’s vaudevillian roots. Look closely at some of the art deco decor… you might spot a few easter eggs hiding in the design.

The mainstage includes three mini diorama sets and a detachable balcony. With ‘you’ as the guest star, start off the show beneath the Muppet Show’s iconic opening theme arches. Then, you’ll be able to act out wacky experiments in Muppet Labs, cook up a feast in the Swedish Chef’s Kitchen, rock out with the Electric Mayhem, or explore the final frontier on the set of the USS Swinetrek. If that’s not enough, Statler and Waldorf will throw in a quick heckle or two from their balcony seats….

(10) MEMORY LANE.

2015[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

Kazuo Ishiguro, a Japanese-born British writer, has  written four SF novels including The Buried Giant: A Novel which is where our Beginning is from, the other three being Klara and The SunNever Let Me Go and The Unconsoled.

It was published eight years ago by Alford Knopf. It didn’t win any awards but it was nominated for both a Mythopoeic and World Fantasy Award.

The British Council, yes the British Council has a very nice literature section on their website.  They, say that “Ishiguro’s novels are preoccupied by memories, their potential to digress and distort, to forget and to silence, and, above all, to haunt.”

February of this year, the Hollywood Reporter said that Netflix planned on adapting the novel into an animated film. It will have Guillermo del Toro as director and Dennis Kelly as writer.

With that, here’s the Beginning…

The Buried Giant: A Novel to The Buried Giant: A Novel 

You would have searched a long time for the sort of winding lane or tranquil meadow for which England later became celebrated. There were instead miles of desolate, uncultivated land; here and there rough-hewn paths over craggy hills or bleak moorland. Most of the roads left by the Romans would by then have become broken or overgrown, often fading into wilderness. Icy fogs hung over rivers and marshes, serving all too well the ogres that were then the still native to this land. The people who lived nearby—one wonders what desperation led them to settle in such gloomy spots—might well have feared these creatures, whose panting breaths could be heard long before their deformed figures emerged from the mist. But such monsters were not cause for astonishment. People then would have regarded them as everyday hazards, and in those days there was so much else to worry about. How to get food out of the hard ground; how not to run out of firewood; how to stop the sickness that could kill a dozen pigs in a single day and produce green rashes on the cheeks of children.

In any case, ogres were not so bad provided one did not provoke them. One had to accept that every so often, perhaps following some obscure dispute in their ranks, a creature would come blundering into a village in a terrible rage, and despite shouts and brandishings of weapons, rampage about injuring anyone slow to move out of its path. Or that every so often, an ogre might carry off a child into the mist. The people of the day had to be philosophical about such outrages

In one such area on the edge of a vast bog, in the shadow of some jagged hills, lived an elderly couple, Axl and Beatrice. Perhaps these were not their exact or full names, but for ease, this is how we will refer to them. I would say this couple lived an isolated life, but in those days few were “isolated” in any sense we would understand. For warmth and protection, the villagers lived in shelters, many of them dug deep into the hillside, connecting one to the other by underground passages and covered corridors. Our elderly couple lived within one such sprawling warren—“building” would be too grand a word—with roughly sixty other villagers. If you came out of their warren and walked for twenty minutes around the hill, you would have reached the next settlement, and to your eyes, this one would have seemed identical to the first. But to the inhabitants themselves, there would have been many distinguishing details of which they would have been proud or ashamed.

I have no wish to give the impression that this was all there was to the Britain of those days; that at a time when magnificent civilisations flourished elsewhere in the world, we were here not much beyond the Iron Age. Had you been able to roam the countryside at will, you might well have discovered castles containing music, fine food, athletic excellence; or monasteries with inhabitants steeped in learning. But there is no getting around it. Even on a strong horse, in good weather, you could have ridden for days without spotting any castle or monastery looming out of the greenery. Mostly you would have found communities like the one I have just described, and unless you had with you gifts of food or clothing, or were ferociously armed, you would not have been sure of a welcome. I am sorry to paint such a picture of our country at that time, but there you are.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born May 21, 1903 Manly Wade Wellman. I remember reading the John the Balladeer collection Karl E. Wagner did and then seeking out the rest of those stories. Amazing stuff! Read the Complete John Thunstone a few years back — strongly recommended. What else by him should I read? And I should note he’s not that well stocked at the usual suspects. (Died 1986.)
  • Born May 21, 1917 Raymond Burr. Speaking of lawyers, we have the Birthday of the man who played Perry Mason. It looks the 1949 film Black Magic with him playing Dumas, Jr. was his first genre performance. Bride of the Gorilla was his next with Lou Chaney Jr. co-starring and Curt Siodmak directing. He goes on to be Grand Vizier Boreg al Buzzar in The Magic Carpet before being Vargo in Tarzan and the She-Devil. And finally he’s in a Godzilla film, Godzilla, King of the Monsters! To be precise, as Steve Martin says. And unfortunately he played the same role in Godzilla 1985 which earned him a Golden Raspberry Award. (Died 1993.)
  • Born May 21, 1918 Jeanne Bates. She’s Diana Palmer in the Forties The Phantom serial, possibly the first one done. Her first genre was as Miss Norcutt in The Return of the Vampire, in a not authorized sequel to Lugosi’s 1931 Universal Studios film Dracula. Most of the films she’s known for are such horror films such as The Soul of a Monster and Back from the Dead. (Died 2007.)
  • Born May 21, 1940 Booker Bradshaw. A record producer, film and TV actor, and Motown executive. He’s here because he’s one of those rare secondary characters that showed up more than once on Trek. He played Dr. M’Benga in “Obsession” and “That Which Survives”. Because his background story was that he served under Captain Christopher Pike, his character has been recast on Strange New Worlds and is played by Babs Olusanmokun. (Died 2003.)
  • Born May 21, 1945 Richard Hatch. He’s best known for his role as Captain Apollo in Battlestar Galactica. He is also widely known for his role as Tom Zarek in the second Battlestar Galactica series. He also wrote a series of tie-in novels co-authored with Christopher Golden, Stan Timmons, Alan Rodgers and Brad Linaweaver. (Died 2017.)
  • Born May 21, 1954 Paul Collins, 69. Australian writer who has been nominated for an astounding twenty Ditmar Awards. In the nineties, he won a William Atheling Jr Award for Criticism or Review for The MUP Encyclopaedia of Australian Science Fiction & Fantasy published by Melbourne University Press which alas was never updated. In his twenties, he began published and edited Void Science Fiction and Fantasy, a semi-prozine.

(12) REASON WHY A FAMOUS COMIC SHUTTERED. “’People Would Be Wishing Me Dead’: Why Calvin & Hobbes’ Creator Ended the Comic Despite Its Popularity” at MSN.com.

Bill Watterson, the creative mind behind Calvin and Hobbes, has no issues with how he left his beloved comic strip. An interview reveals Watterson’s reasoning for ending the cartoon and why he still remains confident in his decision….

…While many fans might have preferred the adventures of the comedic duo to continue, Watterson was quite happy to bring Calvin and Hobbes to its natural conclusion. In an interview with The Cleveland Plain Dealer in 2010, Watterson looks back on his career fifteen years after leaving his strip behind, saying:

“This isn’t as hard to understand as people try to make it. By the end of 10 years, I’d said pretty much everything I had come there to say.

“It’s always better to leave the party early. If I had rolled along with the strip’s popularity and repeated myself for another five, 10 or 20 years, the people now “grieving” for “Calvin and Hobbes” would be wishing me dead and cursing newspapers for running tedious, ancient strips like mine instead of acquiring fresher, livelier talent. And I’d be agreeing with them.”

(13) COLLECTIBLES. [Item by Ben Bird Person.] YouTuber Jules Burt just posted this video of his SF/horror Pan Books paperback collection featuring novels by Arthur C. Clarke, Robert Heinlein, and Frederik Pohl: “INCREDIBLE – Vintage PAN SF & Horror – Paperbacks – 1945 to 1979 – Herbert van Thal – John Burke”.

(14) I’VE HEARD THAT NAME BEFORE. Andrew (not Werdna) caught an interesting reference while watching the most recent episode of The Flash. A startled Chester Runk (from 2049) exclaims “Sweet N. K. Jemisin!”

It’s also mentioned in the Arrowverse Wiki episode recap “A New World, Part Three”.

(15) SHARK WEEK’S 35TH ANNIVERSARY. Entertainment Weekly reports “Aquaman himself Jason Momoa will host Shark Week”.

Aquaman star Jason Momoa has been announced as host for the annual Discovery Channel event, news that came out of the Warner Bros. Discovery upfront presentations in New York on Wednesday.

“As the host of Shark Week, I am beyond excited to take you along on this journey,” Momoa said in a statement. “This project means more to me than a week of talking about sharks. It’s a chance for me to learn and share my connection to these amazing creatures. My love of sharks came long before my time as Aquaman — it began several generations before me.”…

(16) PIPPI IN THE BEGINNING. Witness History – “Pippi Longstocking” at BBC Sounds.

In Stockholm in 1941, Astrid Lindgren made up a story for her seven-year-old daughter, Karin, about a young girl who lived alone and had super-human strength. 

Karin named her Pippi Långstrump, or Pippi Longstocking in English. 

Four years later, Astrid submitted her story into a competition and it won. Her book, Pippi Långstrump, was published and became an overnight success. It’s now been translated into more than 70 languages, as well as being made into more than 40 TV series and films. 

Rachel Naylor speaks to Astrid’s daughter, Karin Nyman. 

(17) JWST RESULTS CHALLENGE MODELS. It may be even bigger on the inside than they knew: “Rethinking the Universe: Astronomers Disturbed by the Unexpected Scale of James Webb’s Galaxies”.

The first results from the James Webb Space Telescope have hinted at galaxies so early and so massive that they are in tension with our understanding of the formation of structure in the Universe. Various explanations have been proposed that may alleviate this tension. But now a new study from the Cosmic Dawn Center suggests an effect that has never before been studied at such early epochs, indicating that the galaxies may be even more massive.

If you have been following the first results from the James Webb Space Telescope, you have probably heard about the paramount issue with the observations of the earliest galaxies:

They are too big.

From a few days after the release of the first images, and repeatedly through the coming months, new reports of ever-more distant galaxies appeared. Disturbingly, several of the galaxies seemed to be “too massive.”

From our currently accepted concordance model of the structure and evolution of the Universe, the so-called ΛCDM model, they simply shouldn’t have had the time to form so many stars.

Although ΛCDM is not a holy indestructible grail, there are many reasons to wait before claiming a paradigm shift: The measured epochs at which we see the galaxies could be underestimated.

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “It’s Quieter In The Twilight” is a documentary about the people who keep the Voyager mission going.

In an unremarkable office space, a select group of aging engineers sacrificed promotion, postponed retirement, and dedicated their lives to stay with the longest running and farthest reaching mission in NASA’s history. Fighting outdated technology and time, Voyager’s flight-team pursues humankind’s greatest exploration.

[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Francis Hamit, Danny Sichel, Ben Bird Person, Andrew (not Werdna), Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, and Chris Barkley for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Niall McAuley.]

Pixel Scroll 5/14/23 Pixelberry Jam On Filer Buttered Scrolls

(1) BAFTA TV AWARDS. The genre cupboard was practically bare when the winners of the BAFTA TV Awards 2023 were revealed tonight. “Memorable Moment” — the only publicly-voted category – proved the exception, won by “’Platinum Jubilee – Party at the Palace’ – Paddington meets Queen Elizabeth II”. 

…Ben Whishaw was a part of Queen Elizabeth II’s Paddington Bear skit – as the voice of Paddington – which won an 2023 BAFTA TV award for most memorable moment, the only prize voted on by the public. The skit beat out Nick and Charlie’s first kiss in “Heartstopper” and the “Running Up That Hill” moment in “Stranger Things,” among other nominees…

(2) CRUISING. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] I took my Masters of the Universe figures out into the garden and posted another photo story: “Masters-of-the-Universe-Piece Theatre: ‘Adam’s Day Out’”.

“I just love getting out of the palace and enjoying the peace and quiet of the Eternian wilderness in springtime. And the Road Ripper really packs a punch. Too bad it’s only a one-seater, so I can’t take Cringer along. Or Teela…”

“Still, nothing beats racing across the plains of Eternia. No Prince Adam, no royal duties, no He-Man, just me and the unspoiled wilderness and… – Oh, raptor crossing!”

SCREECH!

(3) EUROVISION BOOK CONTEST. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] The finalists for the Eurovision Book Contest (like the Eurovision Song Contest, only with books) have been announced and there is at least one genre finalist, the German entry The Perfume by Patrick Süsskind, which won the 1987 World Fantasy Award: “Elena Ferrante and Marian Keyes among authors competing in Eurovision book contest” in the Guardian.

In March, the literary festival asked the public to submit their favourite fiction from any of the 37 countries that take part in the music competition each year. Suggestions could be of any genre and language but they had to have been published in the years since Eurovision began in 1956.

The final selection of one book from each country was chosen by an expert panel, who were aiming to come up with “an ambitious reading list” of books that will “inspire, examine and entertain”.

This also illustrates IMO the issue with that contest. The Perfume was released in 1985, i.e. it’s almost forty years old. The Irish contestant Rachel’s Holiday by Marian Keyes came out in 1998. That Georgian contestant is a novel written in German by a Georgian expat. Two finalists are graphic novels. The selection is just weird.

(4) A CROWNING ACHIEVEMENT. Connie Willis shared her delight in Charles’ coronation with Facebook readers.  

“What is the finest sight in the world? A Coronation. What do people talk most about? A Coronation. What is delightful to have passed? A Coronation.” — Horace Walpole

Saturday I got up early to watch Charles III’s coronation. It was the second one I’d seen. The first was Elizabeth II’s which I watched seventy years ago on someone else’s TV because we didn’t own one yet. It was an impossibly grainy image on a tiny screen of a Cinderella-looking carriage drawn by four horses. I was only seven years old, but I have a vivid memory of it, probably because I was so fascinated by fairy tales and princesses and queens and golden coaches made out of pumpkins.

This time my husband and I watched it in color on a much larger screen while talking on the phone to our daughter in California the whole time as she kept us updated with texts from her friends and comments on Tumblr. Now, seventy years later, I am no longer all that fascinated by princess and carriages, but I am fascinated by history, and in terms of historical events, a coronation simply can’t be beat….

(5) ROBOTIC ROBBERY. Lincoln Michel knows “The Endgame for A.I. Is Clear: Rip Off Everyone”.

…But let’s talk about the more specific ways companies plan to rip off writers with “A.I.” as the excuse.

A strong hint can be found in the current Writers Guild of America strike. A key sticking point is the use of A.I. writing. The writers aren’t asking for Hollywood to ban the use of A.I., rather they are asking that A.I writing not count as “literary material” or “source material.” This is technical Hollywood language related to the realities of how contracts work and how much money writers get. With the hard realities of capitalism and how corporations look to rip off writers.

The concern isn’t that ChatGPT can replace writers, but that studios will get chatbots to produce a crappy script then hire a writer at a lower rate to fix up the script into something usable. Fixing up a mess of ChatGPT vomit could take more work than writing a script from scratch, but cost the corporation less money.

I think this fear is completely justified and one that writers everywhere should take note of. Will websites and magazines start hiring writers or editors to “fix” chatbot outputs for less pay and no credit? Will book publishers decide they can feed an idea into ChatGPT then hire a novelist as a ghostwriter to rewrite it?

Again, the chatbots don’t have to produce good or even usable writing for this to be a threat. The threat is A.I being an excuse to rip off writers. If you hire a screenwriter to rewrite a chatbot script, you can pay them less. If you hire an author to rewrite a chatbot draft, you can avoid royalties. Etc ….

(6) FOUNDATION. GeekTyrant walks viewers through a “Thrilling New Trailer for Apple Adaptation of Isaac Asimov’s FOUNDATION Season 2”.

…Season 2 is set more than a century after the finale of the first season, “tension mounts throughout the galaxy in Foundation season two. As the Cleons unravel, a vengeful queen plots to destroy Empire from within. Hari, Gaal, and Salvor discover a colony of Mentalics with psionic abilities that threaten to alter psychohistory itself. The Foundation has entered its religious phase, promulgating the Church of Seldon throughout the Outer Reach and inciting the Second Crisis: war with Empire. Foundation chronicles the stories of four crucial individuals transcending space and time as they overcome deadly crises, shifting loyalties, and complicated relationships that will ultimately determine the fate of humanity.”…

(7) TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS AND WORKING OVERTIME. New Amazing Stories editor Lloyd Penney has been interviewed by Angelique Fawns for The Horror Tree, a website for horror writers and markets.

AF: What personal projects are you working on? What do you do in your spare time?

LP: Spare time? What is this ‘spare time’ you speak of? These days, I go into a publications office in Toronto’s east end twice a week to do the proofreader/copyeditor thing for one print magazine and two e-magazines. Then, I am the occasional editor for a British author’s long-time series of books, D.J. Holmes and his Empire Rising series of space adventures. And, for the past 40 years, I have been a regular correspondent and writer in the Letters Column for a long series of fannish publications, fanzines. I try my best to juggle all of this, and I hope not to drop anything. I have been an editor/copyeditor/proofreader for most of my working life, and I have always been an SF reader, so this is the first time I’ve been able to combine the two, and I have tried my best to run with it. I was told it should be fun, and it has been.

(8) PRO TIP. “Tim Dowling: my wife is gardening. I’m in my shed writing. It’s a risky situation”. The author is quoted in the Guardian saying —

“A long time ago I read a quotation in a book of advice, which held that the hardest thing about being a writer is convincing your spouse that looking out of the window is part of your job. I have never been able to track down the exact wording or the author of that quotation; when I look online the only source I can find for it is me, because I cite it so regularly. This is perhaps fitting, since my wife thinks I made it up.”

(9) ONE SUMMER TO A CUSTOMER. Jonathan Clarke investigates “Rod Serling’s Enduring Appeal” for City Journal.

…You might have guessed by now that in “Walking Distance,” Serling was telling his own story. He was 35 when the episode appeared, and he had come a long way from a charmed boyhood in Binghamton, New York. Like Martin Sloan, he had good reason to be tired, and good reason, despite his considerable success, to want to go home again. As his success grew, that desire would grow stronger, too.

It’s easy to forget now that television was once regarded as a creative nullity, good only for selling product. In the medium’s early decades, the programming was mostly quiz shows, Westerns, and police procedurals. Corporate sponsors had considerable creative control, and in tone and style, the industry was not unlike Madison Avenue, slick and a bit shameless. At the same time, because the medium was so new, conventions hadn’t yet hardened, and barriers to entry were lower, especially for writers. Serling, with his early work for two important live series, Kraft Television Theatre and Playhouse 90, became one of a handful of creators pushing television forward. Even so, he accepted that it was a second-rate form, inherently inferior to theater and film. Interviewed by Mike Wallace in 1959, shortly before The Twilight Zone debuted, Serling argued that he was writing “serious, adult” scripts, but he didn’t claim the privileges of an artist. “I’m a dramatist for television,” he said, by way of apology. “This is the medium I know.”

By then, Serling was the most recognizable writer in the country. The face he showed to the public was an appealing one, and very much an American face—principled but modest, industrious, courageous. Beneath that there was a different man: vain, self-indulgent, needy. And underneath that there was a sensitive artist, and a traumatized war veteran, and a young man who lost his father too early. The inmost Serling was perhaps ever that eager boy in Binghamton, standing on his tiptoes to be seen. (As an adult, he stood just 5’5”.) As a writer, he sought to integrate these different selves, to find the sense of coherence that evaded him in life. He would never quite feel that he had done so….

(10) GERALD ROSE (1935-2023). Illustrator and teacher Gerald Rose died May 5 at the age of 87 reports the Guardian. He was the youngest winner of the Kate Greenaway medal for children’s book illustration, in 1960.

…As well as the books with [his wife] Elizabeth, Gerald illustrated the work of many other authors, including Ted Hughes’s Nessie the Mannerless Monster (1964), James Joyce’s The Cat and the Devil (1965), Paul Jennings’ The Hopping Basket (1965) and The Great Jelly of London (1967), Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky and Other Poems (1968) and a number of Norman Hunter’s Professor Branestawm titles (1981-83). His own later picturebooks included the award-winning Ahhh! Said Stork (1986) and The Tiger Skin Rug (2011)….

(11) LAST FAREWELL. “RIP John Mansfield”, Kevin Standlee’s tribute to our friend, includes a link to the video of the service.

As most of you who follow me may know, John Mansfield, chair of the 1994 Winnipeg Worldcon and an important figure in Canadian fandom, passed away a few days ago after a long period of decline. His funeral service in Winnipeg was today, and was live streamed and recorded so that people (including me) who could not come to Winnipeg could attend virtually….

(12) MEMORY LANE.

1990[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

Charles de Lint’s Drink Down the Moon which is where this Beginning comes from is one of my favorite novels by him. Published by Ace Books in 1990, it is the second novel of his Jack of Kinrowan series, one of his Ottawa set novels. 

I like them because they are tighter, less sprawling than the later Newford novels are. They have a simplicity that sometimes gets lost in those novels.

And here’s our beginning, complete with fey music…

He slipped through the darkness in the 4/ 4 tempo of a slow reel, startled an owl in its perch, and crept through the trees to join the quiet murmur of the Rideau River as it quickened by Carleton University. At length, he came to the ears of a young woman who was sitting on the flat stones on the south bank of the river. 

The fiddle playing that tune had a mute on its bridge, substantially reducing the volume of the music, but it was still loud enough for the woman to lift her head and smile when she heard it. She knew that tune, if not the fiddler, and yet she had a sense of the fiddler as well. There was something–an echo of familiarity–that let her guess who it was, because she knew from whom he’d learned to play. 

Every good fiddler has a distinctive sound. No matter how many play the same tune, each can’t help but play it differently. Some might use an up stroke where another would a down. One might bow a series of quick single notes where another would play them all with one long draw of the bow. Some might play a double stop where others would a single string. If the listener’s ear was good enough, she could tell the difference. But you had to know the tunes, and the players, for the differences were minute.

“There’s still a bit of you plays on, Old Tom,” she whispered to the night as she stood up to follow the music to its source. 

She was a small woman with brown hair cropped short to her scalp and a heart-shaped face. Her build was more wiry than slender; her features striking rather than handsome. She wore faded jeans, frayed at the back of the hems, sneakers, and a dark blue sweatshirt that was a size or so too big for her. Slipping through the trees, she moved so quietly that she found the fiddler and stood watching him for some time before he was aware of her presence. 

She knew him by sight as soon as she saw him, confirming her earlier guess. It was Old Tom’s grandson, Johnny Faw. He was a head taller than her own four foot eleven, the fiddle tucked under his clean-shaven chin, his head bent down over it as he drew the music from its strings. His hair was a darker brown than her own, an unruly thatch that hung over his shirt collar in back and covered his ears to just above his lobes. He wore a light blue shirt, brown corduroys, and black Chinese rubber-soled slippers. The multi-coloured scarf around his neck and the gold loops glinting in each earlobe gave him the air of a Gypsy. His beat-up black fiddle case lay beside him with a brown quilted-cotton jacket lying next to it. 

She waited until the tune was done–”The King of the Fairies” having made way for a Scots reel called “Miss Shepherd’s”–and then stepped out into the little clearing where he sat playing. He looked up, startled at her soft hello and sudden appearance. As she sat down facing him, he took the fiddle from under his chin and held it and the bow on his lap.

(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born May 14, 1929 Kay Elliot. The actress who shows up in “I, Mudd” as the android form of Harry Mudd’s wife Stella Mudd. SPOILER ALERT (I promised our OGH I’d put these in. It’s possible someone here hasn’t seen “I, Mudd”.) Need I say she ends getting the upper hand in the end? She also had appearances in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. as Miss Prendergast in “The It’s All Greek to Me Affair” episode and multiple roles on Bewitched. That’s it, but she died young. (Died 1982.)
  • Born May 14, 1935 Peter J. Reed. A Vonnegut specialist with a long history starting with Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.: The Vonnegut Chronicles: Interviews and Essays that he wrote with Marc Leeds, and Kurt Vonnegut: Images and Representations with Leeds again. He also wrote a handful of essays such as “Hurting ’til It Laughs: The Painful-Comic Science Fiction Stories of Kurt Vonnegut” and “Kurt Vonnegut’s Bitter Fool: Kilgore Trout”. (Died 2018.)
  • Born May 14, 1944 George Lucas, 79. For better and worse I suppose, he created the Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises. (Raiders of the Lost Ark and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade are fine. I adore the original Trilogy.) And let’s not forget THX 1138. My fav works that he was involved in? LabyrinthRaiders of the Lost Ark, The Empire Strikes Back and Willow. Oh, and and The Young Indiana Jones series. 
  • Born May 14, 1945 Francesca Annis, 78. Lady Jessica in David Lynch’s Dune, Lady Macbeth in Roman Polanski’s Macbeth. I know only two roles, but what a pair of roles they were! She also appeared in Krull as The Widow of The Web but I’ll be damned if I can remember her in that role. 
  • Born May 14, 1947 Edward James, 76. Winner at Interaction of Best Related Non-Fiction Book for The Cambridge Companion to Science Fiction which he did with Farah Mendlesohn. A companion volume, The Cambridge Companion to Fantasy Literature, was also edited with Mendlesohn. He was the editor of Foundation: The International Review of Science Fiction from 1986 to 2001.
  • Born May 14, 1952 Robert Zemeckis, 71. He’s responsible for some of my favorite films including the Back to the Future trilogy, The Muppet Christmas CarolThe WitchesWho Framed Roger Rabbit and the savagely funny in a twisted sort of way Death Becomes Her. So what’s your favorite films that’s he had a hand in? 
  • Born May 14, 1952 Kathleen Ann Goonan. Her Nanotech Quartet is most excellent, particularly the first novel, Queen City Jazz. Her only Award was given for In War Times which garnered a John W. Campbell Memorial Award. She’s wrote an interesting essay on the relationship between sf and music,  “Science Fiction and All That Jazz”. (Died 2021.)
  • Born May 14, 1955 Rob Tapert, 68. I’d say he’s best known for co-creating Xena: Warrior Princess. He also produced and/or wrote several other television series including Hercules: The Legendary JourneysM.A.N.T.I.S. and American Gothic. Tapert also co-created the prequel series Young Hercules which I loved more than the adult series. He’s married to actress Lucy Lawless. 

(14) COMICS SECTION.

  • Tom Gauld says this job is not that easy!

(15) KEEP A SHARP EAR OUT. You’ve still got 18 days to bid on some prime Star Trek: The Original Series collectibles available in “The Comisar Collection Platinum Signature® Auction” at Heritage Auctions.

(16) HUANG’S OUTLAWS. At Nerds of a Feather, Paul Weimer starts with history — “Review: The Water Outlaws by S. L. Huang”.

… In Classic Chinese literature, there are a number of canonical novels, core books that are the backbone of a strand of Chinese history, culture and society….

…The Water Margin is set in the Song Dynasty, the last native Chinese Dynasty before the invasion of the Mongols. The Water Margin is a story that in its 50000 foot level will be familiar to Western readers. A group of diversely outlaws in an inaccessible area, fighting against corrupt officials who are oppressing the people? Yes, in the most broad of senses, The Water Margin is the Chinese parallel to the story of Robin Hood. It’s bigger scale, (108 outlaws in all, much larger than Robin’s band), larger stakes–fighting against full imperial armies, and, sadly, ends in a tragedy, the heroism of the outlaws ending not quite in a happily ever after.

And it is The Water Margin that is the story that S. L. Huang retells in The Water Outlaws.

S. L. Huang puts us in a slightly different China right from the get go by giving it a more feminist approach, starting with genderflipping the main character, Lin Chong. In Huang’s slightly alternate China, women have a significantly better role and place in society, but not so much that sexism and oppression of women are still not huge obstacles. But as a guard captain, Lin Chong is certainly in a position she would have not had in our own history. In this way, The Water Outlaws invites for me, comparisons to Shelley Parker-Chan’s She Who Became the Sun, which has a genderflipped protagonist, but she is a character who hides her gender. And her story is at the end of the Yuan dynasty, a century or more after the events of The Water Margin. But the queer, feminist lens of Chinese history and the perspective that it brings is strong in both works.

(17) LUNAR ORDERS. Also at Nerds of a Feather, Alex Wallace’s hook “Murder, Monks, and the Moon! What’s not to like?” gets readers started: “Review: Poor Man’s Sky by Wil McCarthy”.

There’s something about the great black void above us that attracts a wide variety of peculiar people. In our world, we have the likes of Elon Musk (who promises settlements on Mars when not driving Twitter to implosion) and other billionaires with god complexes and more money than sense. This is a theme that runs through Poor Man’s Sky Wil McCarthy’s most recent novel, a sequel to 2021’s Rich Man’s Sky….

(18) TINY DANCERS. The New York Times takes readers “Inside the Big World of Small Objects” — “For over 40 years, Tom Bishop’s dollhouse miniatures show has been the gold standard for serious collectors and hobbyists alike.”

Moments before 10 a.m., a security guard thanked the crowd for being cooperative.

When the clock struck the hour, it became clear why: The doors of the Marriott Chicago O’Hare conference center opened, and hundreds of attendees, a majority of whom were over the age of 60, bee-lined as fast as they could to the booths.

Many had studied the color-coded map ahead of time listing each booth’s location and came prepared with a shopping plan — a scene that could easily be mistaken for a Black Friday sale. Instead, it was the Chicago International Miniatures Show.

Despite the gathering touting itself as “the World’s No. 1 Dollhouse Miniatures Show,” there aren’t many actual dollhouses. Attendees instead sift through thousands of tiny objects that fill these tiny homes: miniature sponges, chocolate fondue fountains, rocking chairs, barbecue sets, Tupperware containers or fly swatters.

“The largest miniature dollhouse convention” may sound like a silly distinction to some, but it is no joking matter for the sellers. For many, the Tom Bishop show is where they hope to make the bulk of their annual sales.

The Tom Bishop show, as many attendees call it, is considered by its founder, Mr. Bishop, to be the largest dollhouse miniatures event in the world. Numbers appear to support that claim. This year, over 250 vendors traveled from 21 countries and 35 states.

More than 3,000 people attended, filling three large conference rooms, with hallway spillover. The weeklong event, from April 24 to April 30, included ticketed workshops with themes like “Lobsterfest” (focused on making miniature lobster boil accouterments); trade shows; and three days of ticketed shopping for the public….

(19) FULL GROWN DANCERS. Boris Karloff narrated “The Peppermint Twist” on Shindig 1965.

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