Pixel Scroll 12/14/23 Because My Pixels Are Delicious To Scroll

(1) ALL SYSTEMS GREEN. Martha Wells’ series is coming to TV: “Alexander Skarsgård Stars In ‘Murderbot’ Sci-Fi Series Ordered By Apple”Deadline carried the announcement.

Apple TV+ has officially picked up Murderbot, a 10-episode sci-fi drama series starring and executive produced by Emmy winner Alexander Skarsgård (Succession). Based on Martha Wells’ bestselling Hugo- and Nebula Award-winning book series The Murderbot Diaries, the project hails from Chris and Paul Weitz (About a Boy) and Paramount Television Studios.

The action-packed Murderbot received a blinking green light a year ago, with the casting of the title character interrupted by the strikes. The series centers on a self-hacking security android (Skarsgård) who is horrified by human emotion yet drawn to its vulnerable “clients.” Murderbot must hide its free will and complete a dangerous assignment when all it really wants is to be left alone to watch futuristic soap operas and figure out its place in the universe….

(2) THE END IS NEAR. Good Omens is getting another curtain call: “Good Omens Renewed for Season 3 at Amazon” says The Hollywood Reporter.

The streamer has renewed Good Omensthe fantasy-comedy that started as a limited series, for a third and final season. Production on the show from BBC Studios, and based on the novel by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, is expected to begin soon in Scotland.

“I’m so happy finally to be able to finish the story Terry and I plotted in 1989 and in 2006,” Gaiman said in a release announcing the news Thursday. “Terry was determined that if we made Good Omens for television, we could take the story all the way to the end. Season one was all about averting Armageddon, dangerous prophecies and the End of the World. Season two was sweet and gentle, although it may have ended less joyfully than a certain Angel and Demon might have hoped. Now in season three, we will deal once more with the end of the world. The plans for Armageddon are going wrong. Only Crowley [David Tennant] and Aziraphale [Martin Sheen] working together can hope to put it right. And they aren’t talking.”…

(3) WHO COUP. Sir Derek Jacobi will be a headline guest at Gallifrey One, the annual LA Doctor Who convention, happening February 16-18.

Star of stage and screen, and one of Britain’s national treasures, Sir Derek Jacobi portrayed the Master (and his alter ego, Professor Yana) opposite David Tennant in 2007’s “Utopia,” fulfilling a life-long ambition of the actor to star in Doctor Who. He also voices the character in audio adventures for Big Finish Productions, credited as the War Master; also voiced the Master in the 2003 Doctor Who audio play “Scream of the Shalka”; and starred as Martin Bannister in the Doctor Who Unbound audio release “Deadline.”

…We are honored to be able to welcome Sir Derek to Gallifrey One this year, his first-ever Doctor Who appearance in North America, courtesy our friends at Showmasters Events.  Sir Derek will participate in two main stage interviews during his visit, one on Friday afternoon, and one Saturday, included with general admission.  He will also be autographing and doing photo ops on Saturday and Sunday, will do a VIP script reading on Sunday morning, will participate in our guest receptions on Friday & Saturday evenings, and has a separate Diamond Pass; all of these require purchase (see below.)  Additionally, he is included in the TARDIS Tag package….

The con will also have Billie Piper, Alex Kingston, and a flock of other Doctor Who actors, writers, and production people.

(4) WHO HOLIDAY SPECIAL. Inverse tells how “2023’s Wildest Sci-Fi Show is Bringing Back Its Most Underrated Secret Weapon”.

… With this episode being the first one to contain Gatwa as the sole Doctor, this could mean a shift in the Doctor Who we know and love. Original reboot showrunner Russell T. Davies may be back, but there’s a new Doctor and a new companion at the start of a new season, why not try a new (old) genre as well?

Even if this is just a temporary jaunt into the world of fantasy, it’s proof of exactly what the third special “The Giggle” established: The Doctor took a break to rest and deal with the literal centuries of trauma that he has undergone, and now he can find himself in silly high jinks that are more suited to a classic children’s novel instead of a hardboiled sci-fi paperback….

(5) ECCLESTON’S PRICE. CBR.com listens in as “Christopher Eccleston Reveals His Conditions for Doctor Who Return”.

Eccleston, who played the ninth Doctor in the first season of the show’s revival in 2005, had a relatively brief spell at the helm before being replaced by David Tennant. Eccleston has since been vocal about his mixed feelings about his time on the show. While speaking at the For The Love of Sci-Fi fan convention over the weekend, Eccleston was asked about if he would come back to Doctor Who, and what the BBC would need to do in order to make that happen. Eccleston was brutally honest with his answer, telling audiences, “Sack Russell T Davies. Sack Jane Tranter. Sack Phil Collinson. Sack Julie Gardner. And I’ll come back. So can you arrange that?”…

(6) MOVE TOWARDS STREAMER TRANSPARENCY. Netflix today debuted its first semi-annual report of hours of content viewed on the streaming site. Or as The Verge puts it: “Netflix reveals how many hours we spent watching The Night Agent and Queen Charlotte”.

Netflix is going to start publishing a new report twice a year that details the most popular shows and movies on the platform. The first report, released today, details the most-watched content from January to June 2023, and it’s perhaps the best look yet at how much people are actually watching Netflix’s gargantuan library of titles.

“What We Watched: A Netflix Engagement Report” will track three metrics: hours watched, whether a show is available globally, and a show’s release date. In this first report, the first season of The Night Agent tops the list with more than 812 million hours viewed, followed by Ginny & Georgia’s second season (665.1 million hours viewed), The Glory’s first season (622.8 million hours viewed), Wednesday’s first season (507.7 million hours viewed), and Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story (503 million hours viewed). Those are only the top five; the full list contains more than 18,000 titles. (Content is included if it has been watched for more than 50,000 hours.)

(7) SUBSTACK’S NAZI PROBLEM. Max Gladstone, in “Substackers Against Nazis”, told readers:

I’m taking part in a collective action on Substack today. I did not help draft the letter below, but I agree with it. I’ve been planning to shift this newsletter off Substack for a while now, and this is one of the reasons why.

Gladstone signal-boosted a mass letter which begins:

Dear Chris, Hamish & Jairaj:

We’re asking a very simple question that has somehow been made complicated: Why are you platforming and monetizing Nazis

According to a piece written by Substack publisher Jonathan M. Katz and published by The Atlantic on November 28, this platform has a Nazi problem

“Some Substack newsletters by Nazis and white nationalists have thousands or tens of thousands of subscribers, making the platform a new and valuable tool for creating mailing lists for the far right. And many accept paid subscriptions through Substack, seemingly flouting terms of service that ban attempts to ‘publish content or fund initiatives that incite violence based on protected classes’…Substack, which takes a 10 percent cut of subscription revenue, makes money when readers pay for Nazi newsletters.”

As Patrick Casey, a leader of a now-defunct neo-Nazi group who is banned on nearly every other social platform except Substack, wrote on here in 2021: “I’m able to live comfortably doing something I find enjoyable and fulfilling. The cause isn’t going anywhere.” Several Nazis and white supremacists including Richard Spencer not only have paid subscriptions turned on but have received Substack “Bestseller” badges, indicating that they are making at a minimum thousands of dollars a year….

Filer Robin Anne Reid also circulated the letter to her Substack readers.

(8) CHENGDU CATCHUP. [Item by Ersatz Culture.]

Two new articles published by Southern Weekly

On Wednesday 13th, Southern Weekly published two long articles following up from the Worldcon.

The first is titled ‘“They gave me comfort, and I risked my life to do something for them”: The birth of a Hugo-award winning science fiction fanzine’, and is an interview with Best Fanzine winner and Best Fan Writer finalist RiverFlow.  Extracts via Google Translate, with manual edits:

“In those two years, I was in so much pain that I couldn’t communicate with people normally, and I couldn’t take care of myself to a certain extent.  My daily spiritual support was to communicate with a group of science fiction fans on the Internet,” he said.  “They could give me some comfort. Even if I risk my life, I can do something for them.”  For a young man who is used to being self-isolated, these kindnesses and comforts from strangers are almost unbelievable…

He decided that he was not a “science fiction fan” in the strict sense, but a “fan of science fiction fans.”

So, he found another way to do something for his friends.  The idea of starting a fan magazine was mentioned by someone in the group, and it stirred something in his heart. He searched for public information about Chinese science fiction fans and found that there was almost no specialized research in the country.  “Why do the groups of science fiction fans who cared about me seem to have no part in the narrative of the entire history of Chinese science fiction and seem to have disappeared?”

In July 2020, the first issue of “Zero Gravity News” was released.  RiverFlow only took one day to typeset it in Word.  The issue was not detailed, just excerpting some science fiction news, group discussions, etc.  But the sci-fi fanzine had taken one small step.

RiverFlow also posted some comments on Weibo about the piece.

The second article is ‘A conversation with science fiction scholar San Feng: Why is science fiction fan culture important?’  Much of the article covers the history of the Worldcon, western SF fandom etc and seems to be aimed at a general audience, and so will be already familiar ground to File 770 readers.  Later on it moves onto SF in China, which will probably be of more interest.  (Again, this is via Google Translate with manual edits.)

Southern Weekly: Does the Chinese science fiction circle also have a similar structure [to SF in the West]?

San Feng: Our science fiction fan culture is relatively recent. According to our research, it was not until the late 1970s and early 1980s that science fiction fans in the strict sense began to appear.

Liu Cixin said that he is the first generation of science fiction fans, including Han Song, Yao Haijun, etc. It can be understood that people born in the 1960s fell in love with science fiction in the early 1980s. At that time, Chinese science fiction did not have a distinct cultural identity of science fiction. Science fiction clubs or science fiction research societies were established in many places, but most of them were in a top-down manner. Many places wanted to organize people to write science fiction, so they set up science fiction research associations.

To truly build a science fiction fan community from the bottom up, I think the landmark event was Yao Haijun’s founding of the science fiction fan magazine “Nebula” in 1988 (note: some say it was 1986).  At that time, he was still working as a lumberjack in Yichun [in northeast China].  Because he liked science fiction, he used a mimeograph in his spare time to publish a science fiction fan magazine “Nebula”, which was shared with science fiction fans all over the country.  If you got in touch with him and sent a little money to him, maybe a few cents, he would send you a mimeographed magazine.

(Note: both of the above links are to mobile versions of the articles, and have subheadings stating that they will only be freely available for some unstated time period, before going behind a paywall.  There are desktop versions of those pages, but those have truncated content, requiring a login to see the full article.)

Three Worldcon reports

The following Chinese-language con reports all strike quite different tones from each other.  (All extracts via Google Translate, with manual cleanup edits.)

The first one is by Shen Yusi, and was posted on the Zero Gravity Weixin/WeChat account on November 15th.  This one is very positive about the event.

If Liu Cixin won the Hugo Award and let the world hear the strongest voice in Chinese science fiction, then in 2023 the World Science Fiction Convention held in Chengdu allows the world to truly see what the Chinese science fiction community looks like…

I had seen the aerial view of the Chengdu Science Fiction Museum on the official website, which is quite shocking. It looks like a huge piece of silver metal foil flying down by the lake. I once joked that I would never be able to witness this form of the venue with my naked eyes – after all, I can’t fly. From the ground, the venue looks like a huge alien aircraft, with a silver-white outer shell and mostly icy blue light inside. From an aesthetic point of view, this sci-fi feel is relatively avant-garde, rather than being something from the present day…

There were many young people and children at the event, which I had never thought about before.  Groups of primary school students visited this event under the guidance of their teachers.  There was also an award ceremony for the essay competition in an exhibition hall on the second floor.  I can’t do anything other than praise Chengdu’s education sector!  Maybe the next Liu Cixin will emerge from these children?

There were many college students on site, including booth staff and student media interviewing guests.  As a person who was very capable of making waves when they were in college, I can’t help but sigh and think that it’s great to be young! Many of these college students have not yet shed their youthfulness, and they are full of bookishness and strong idealism. After all, science is “fantastical”. If you don’t have a little bit of the second spirit, how can you have the ambition to conquer the stars and the sea?

The second report was posted to Zhihu – which I think usually gets compared to Western Q&A websites like Stack Overflow or Quora – by Chen Mengyu on November 6th.  This one is slightly more mixed; it seems like they enjoyed the more literary, fannish or creative activities, but were bored stiff by some of the more “corporate” events that they stumbled into.

At lunch, the sun was just right and the lake was like a mirror. I lay on a soft chair and had a bite of fried chicken and a Coke, feeling comfortable.

[A woman I’d met previously] invited her friends over, and there were more people.  Everyone had finished eating and wandered around chatting. While chatting, I felt that most of the people who like science fiction are middle-class people. There was also a man who flew over from Guangzhou to attend the conference.

I went to the Trisolaris [Three-Body Problem] fan meeting and found that there was a queue of two to three hundred meters. Haha, the last time I saw such a queue was at the National Museum. We gave up on queuing.

Soon we found an area where people were playing a creative game. We were divided into several groups, and given a common starting prompt, each group would start writing one sentence at a time, and at the end there was a vote for the group with the best writing…. My group won first place, and as a reward each person chose a book. I chose

[2021 novel] Tales from a Small Town, and I was very happy….

Then I went to the Shenzhen Science and Fantasy Growth Fund panel. My friends became bored, so instead they queued up for the The Three-Body Problem panel. I was the only one who stayed, and I have to admit that it was really boring… The top ten sci-fi cities in the country, as calculated by complex formulas, were announced in the panel: Shanghai, Beijing, Shenzhen, Chongqing, Guangzhou, Xi’an, Chengdu, Hangzhou, Wuhan and Nanjing.  This looked familiar to me – the top ten cities ranked by GDP.  The list was exactly the same except that Xi’an is not in the top ten by GDP… Then I wrote down a piece of data and was shocked! Beijing and Chengdu have the highest density of science fiction writers, reaching a level of 27 science fiction writers per million people…

Because I drew a lottery ticket for the closing ceremony, I attended it on the next day, but there was nothing interesting in the closing ceremony… there were only two things worth  mentioning; one was the simultaneous interpretation, either English to Chinese or Chinese to English.  After choosing, if someone speaks English, the interpreter would translate it on the spot and read it out into the earphones, which I found very interesting.

[The other was that] next year’s science fiction convention was represented by Vincent in a kilt.  It is foreseeable that there will be many Scottish hunks in kilts at next year’s Worldcon.

(Attached images: chenmengyu[123].jpg)

The final report is a Weibo post from October 23rd, which to be honest is a bit of a snarky rant.  This isn’t completely unjustified, as the poster was unable to attend due to the rescheduling, despite living relatively close to Chengdu in a neighbouring province, nor did they have much success with the online component of the con, with both the livestreams and the Hugo voting failing for them.

Your science fiction conference this year is really terrible. I really can’t help but want to curse, but after thinking about it, I might as well forget it…

Since I couldn’t attend in person, I bought an online ticket.  However the website locked up, and I couldn’t get in to watch the live broadcast. They didn’t give me a refund. When I asked, they said it wasn’t allowed.

It’s 2023, and a “science fiction conference” that can’t even be broadcast online is awesome.

The Hugo Awards have always been voted for by members who spend money, and I have been a member for a long time.  I have been voting for the Hugo Awards in the past few years, but this year I was inexplicably unable to vote.  I really admire this organizer.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born December 14, 1916 Shirley Jackson. (Died 1965.) I was surprised to learn how prolific she was — she composed six novels, two memoirs, and more than two hundred short stories! 

Shirley Jackson in 1940.

Her first novel, The Bird’s Nest, she considered a mainstream work of fiction but the publisher didn’t and marketed it as the publishing house marketed it as a psychological horror story. She was right as it’s a woman with multiple personalities, not horror at all.

Her following novel, The Sundial, concerned a family of wealthy eccentrics who believe they have been chosen to survive the end of the world, and was definitely genre as there’s a ghostly presence. 

Jackson’s fifth novel, The Haunting of Hill House, Is one that we all know about it. It has been made into two feature films and a play, and is the basis of a Netflix series. It was done as The Haunting in 1963, and then as, errr, The Haunting thirty-six years later. The latter is not faithful to the novel as it is (SPOILER ALERT) an explicit fantasy horror film in which all the main characters are terrorized and two are killed as explicitly supernatural deaths (END SPOILER). 

Elizabeth Hand’s A Haunting on the Hill is the first authorized novel set in the world of Hill House. The novel takes place decades after the events of The Haunting of Hill House, as a group of theater professionals rent Hill House to workshop a new play. Lis is reviewing it for us. 

The same year she wrote The Bad Children, a one-act children’s musical based on the “Hansel and Gretel” tale. She wrote the book and lyrics with the music being by Allan Jay Friedman.

I’d talk about “The Lottery” short story but I’ve honestly never figured out the appeal of that frankly abhorrent story, so I won’t. If you won’t to, go ahead. Now “The Missing Girl” short story first published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction in their December 1957 issue is a chilling work of horror well worth you reading.

It’s available in a collection comprising fifty four stories of the hundred and four that she did called Just an Ordinary Day. Remarkably it’s a Meredith Moment I’d say at just $7.99! 

Though in extremely poor health, she produced two final works of note. The first being We Have Always Lived in the Castle, a Gothic mystery novel. Time magazine noted it as one of the Ten Best Novels of 1962.

The following year, she published Nine Magic Wishes, an illustrated children’s novel about a child who encounters a magician who grants him numerous enchanting wishes.

At just one forty-eight years of age, her heart failed, according to both of her biographers, due to a combination of heavy smoking, alcoholism and extreme dependence on pain killers prescribed by physicians who didn’t know better at the time. 

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Frazz is for those of us who like big words.
  • Shoe goes well with Frazz.

(11) I SEE NONEXISTENT PEOPLE. “Imaginary Friends ARE Real in ‘IF’ Teaser Trailer”Animation News Network explains how it works.

…Ask yourself the question, “What if all your imaginary friends were real?” And what if your superpower was you could see them all? Then your life would look a lot like the story of IF, John Krasinski’s upcoming comedy adventure about a girl who discovers that she can see everyone’s imaginary friends and the magical adventure she embarks upon to reconnect forgotten ‘IFs’ with their kids….

(12) MR. ROBOT NOW HAS A UNIVERSE. GQ tells readers, “Confirmed: ‘Leave the World Behind’ Takes Place in the ‘Mr. Robot’ Extended Universe”.

Leave the World Behind, Sam Esmail’s first feature film since the success of his tech-thriller series Mr. Robot, deals with themes similar to those of his acclaimed USA Network show. But the connections may not stop there. As one keen-eyed Reddit user noted, the film references a hacking in the tri-state area that nearly led to a catastrophic meltdown at a nuclear power plant. This seems to clearly be a nod to the 11th episode of Season 4, “eXit,” in which Rami Malek’s Elliot nearly hacks a nuclear plant, with catastrophic potential damage….

(13) FIRST, LET’S IGNORE ALL THE LAWYERS. As usual, people aren’t interested in legal advice that would keep them from doing what they’ve already decided to do: “Meta used copyrighted books for AI training despite its own lawyers’ warnings, authors allege”Reuters has the story.

…Meta Platforms’ (META.O) lawyers had warned it about the legal perils of using thousands of pirated books to train its AI models, but the company did it anyway, according to a new filing in a copyright infringement lawsuit initially brought this summer.

The new filing late on Monday night consolidates two lawsuits brought against the Facebook and Instagram owner by comedian Sarah Silverman, Pulitzer Prize winner Michael Chabon and other prominent authors, who allege that Meta has used their works without permission to train its artificial-intelligence language model, Llama.

… In the chat logs quoted in the complaint, researcher Tim Dettmers describes his back-and-forth with Meta’s legal department over whether use of the book files as training data would be “legally ok.”

“At Facebook, there are a lot of people interested in working with (T)he (P)ile, including myself, but in its current form, we are unable to use it for legal reasons,” Dettmers wrote in 2021, referring to a dataset Meta has acknowledged using to train its first version of Llama, according to the complaint.

The month prior, Dettmers wrote that Meta’s lawyers had told him “the data cannot be used or models cannot be published if they are trained on that data,” the complaint said….

(14) SOUNDS LIKE THE NEEDLE IS STUCK. “NASA working to solve Voyager 1 computer glitch from billions of miles away” reports CNN.

NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft has experienced a computer glitch that’s causing a bit of a communication breakdown between the 46-year-old probe and its mission team on Earth.

Engineers are currently trying to solve the issue as the aging spacecraft explores uncharted cosmic territory along the outer reaches of the solar system.

Voyager 1 is currently the farthest spacecraft from Earth at about 15 billion miles (24 billion kilometers) away, while its twin Voyager 2 has traveled more than 12 billion miles (20 billion kilometers) from our planet. Both are in interstellar space and are the only spacecraft ever to operate beyond the heliosphere, the sun’s bubble of magnetic fields and particles that extends well beyond the orbit of Pluto.

Voyager 1 has three onboard computers, including a flight data system that collects information from the spacecraft’s science instruments and bundles it with engineering data that reflects the current health status of Voyager 1. Mission control on Earth receives that data in binary code, or a series of ones and zeroes.

But Voyager 1’s flight data system now appears to be stuck on auto-repeat, in a scenario reminiscent of the film “Groundhog Day.”

A long-distance glitch

The mission team first noticed the issue November 14, when the flight data system’s telecommunications unit began sending back a repeating pattern of ones and zeroes, like it was trapped in a loop.

While the spacecraft can still receive and carry out commands transmitted from the mission team, a problem with that telecommunications unit means no science or engineering data from Voyager 1 is being returned to Earth.

The Voyager team sent commands over the weekend for the spacecraft to restart the flight data system, but no usable data has come back yet, according to NASA….

(15) IN A HOLE IN THE GROUND THERE LIVED…OUR ANCESTORS. IndieWire sets the frame for “’Out of Darkness’ Trailer: A Stone Age Survival Horror Story”.

Set during the Stone Age, the horror film “Out of Darkness” brings a modern twist to the survival story.

The film, which marks both director Andrew Cumming and screenwriter Ruth Greenberg’s respective feature debuts, centers on a teenager (Safia Oakley-Green) who must survive immigrating across the sea and into a foreign land that may or may not house monsters.

The official synopsis for the indie horror film reads: “A group of six have struggled across the narrow sea to find a new home. They are starving, desperate, and living 45,000 years ago. First they must find shelter, and they strike out across the tundra wastes towards the distant mountains that promise the abundant caves they need to survive. But when night falls, anticipation turns to fear and doubt as they realize they are not alone. Terrifying sounds suggest something monstrous at large in this landscape, something that could kill or steal them away. As relationships in the group fracture, the determination of one young woman reveals the terrible actions taken to survive.”…

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Joel Zakem.] Loontown is a nearly 18-minute animated noir set in a city reminiscent of Los Angeles, whose denizens are talking balloons, gasbags and others of their ilk. It was written by World Fantasy Award winning author Lavie Tidhar and directed, animated and scored by Nir Yaniv, who had previously collaborated with Tidhar on the 2009 novel The Tel Aviv Dossier. Loontown can currently be viewed on YouTube.

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

Pixel Scroll 9/9/23 My Mother Did-A Tell Me That I Go Pixel Scroll, And Read All The File Seven

(1) WHERE HAVE YOU GONE JOE DIMAGGIO? PrimaMedia.ru says on October 9 “Science fiction writer Sergey Lukyanenko will open the visiting session of LiTR-2023 in Harbin”. Harbin is a city in China. The author will proceed there from another literary event in Vladivostok. But so far there is no coverage on Lukyanenko’s blog or in his social media about his role as a GoH of the Chengdu Worldcon during the week of October 18-22. Speculation whether he is really coming has been fueled by the minimal publicity the Worldcon has given him compared to its other GoHs. However, since Lukyanenko will be crossing the border into China to do something just 10 days before the Worldcon, perhaps he will be there.  

The Sixth Pacific International Festival “Literature of Pacific Russia” (6+), dedicated to the literary heritage of the country and the Far East, and the Fair-Festival of Book and Urban Culture “Red Square. Far East” (6+), a project created by the team of the Moscow International Fair of Intellectual Literature non / fictioN and the Book Festival “Red Square” (6+), will be held in Vladivostok on October 6-8, 2023.

Popular Russian science fiction writer Sergey Lukyanenko will not only traditionally take part in the sixth LiTR, but will also be part of the international delegation of the festival and will take part in the visiting session of the event (6+), which will be held on October 9 in Harbin (China), at the Institute of the Russian Language of Heilongjiang University, reports IA PrimaMedia.

…Of course, I will communicate in Russian with an interpreter, because, unfortunately, I do not speak Chinese. In general, I have been published in China quite often, especially lately. Just the other day, several novels were published. And I think that in Harbin there will be a sufficient number of readers who came not just to look at such an outlandish foreign guest, but to talk with the author they read…. 

(2) STAR TREK IN CHINA. “’Star Trek’ boldly goes to Beijing for first fan event” reports Yahoo!

Fans of the space adventure franchise “Star Trek” assembled in Beijing on Saturday for the first official activity of its kind to be held in mainland China.

Paramount’s multimedia sensation has a niche following in China, although interest in the science-fiction genre has grown with the recent success of several domestic hits.

“Star Trek Day” is celebrated each year on September 8 to commemorate the 1966 debut of the original US series, which has an ardent global fanbase.

AFP spoke to several fans who gathered at the venue in a central Beijing mall, many clad in the brand’s galactic travel uniforms or the pointed ears of its fictional “Vulcan” species.

“I think it has a kind of space utopia feeling,” said Ma Yuanyuan, 36, a translator and long-time fan.

She said the main appeal of “Star Trek” was the nostalgia it evokes for the early days of space exploration….

(3) STAR TREK ON THE PICKET LINE. NPR is there when “’Star Trek’ stars join the picket lines in Hollywood”.

Photo from NPR.

As Hollywood actors and writers continue their strike against major studios, one special picket line honored Star Trek and its many spinoffs. Castmates from the various generations of the show met on the picket line outside the gates of Paramount Pictures, where they once taped episodes.

Among them was OG Trekker George Takei, who played Lieutenent Sulu in the original 1960s series. He stood alongside LeVar Burton, who played Geordi La Forge in Star Trek: The Next Generation in the 1990s. Burton had a message for studio executives who they’ve been on strike against:

“Y’all are losing profits, hand over fist. And I know that there are meetings happening in backrooms all over this town,” Burton said, adding “greed isn’t good for any of us. So let’s get real. Let’s come back to the table. Let’s make a fair and equitable deal and let’s get back to work.”

Takei said actors are struggling to make a living in the changing entertainment industry. “We’re here to ensure that the young actors coming up, building their careers, will have the incentive to keep on keeping on, rather than giving up and opening up a restaurant or something,” he said. “We want them to be able to survive on their art of acting. We’re here in solidarity to support their careers so that they can enjoy the career that LeVar and I have enjoyed.”

Actor Wil Wheaton, who grew up acting in Star Trek: The Next Generation was also on the picket lineand also talked about supporting up-and-coming actors, who are on strike for higher pay, more residuals and protections from artificial intelligence.

Star Trek teaches us that we can create and sustain a world where everyone works together, where everyone has equal access and equal opportunity,” Wheaton said. “I am out here today to do for the future of my industry what SAG and WGA did for me back in the ’60s. I have a pension and health care and I was able to receive residual checks during the years that I did not work on camera. That really kept me going. And actors are coming up today in a world with streaming. And AI is really a threat that needs to be looked at and negotiated and managed.”…

(4) NEW ‘FREEDOM TO READ’ STATEMENT COMING. Publishers Weekly reports “ALA Seeks Member Input on Freedom to Read Statement Revision”. The schedule is at the link.

When it was first adopted some 70 years ago, the Freedom to Read Statement was considered a landmark document—a pointed response to the censorship running rampant in the McCarthy era. Now, in the midst of another historic attack on the freedom to read, the American Library Association has announced a series of “listening sessions” which could lead to a revision of the statement.

The review will include five virtual sessions, organized by theme and facilitated by an Intellectual Freedom Committee task force focused on revising the statement, which will gather ALA member input throughout the fall of 2023 and submit their findings to the Office of Intellectual Freedom for consideration. ALA leaders are “strongly encouraging” members to attend one or all of the upcoming listening sessions….

(5) SPACE COWBOY BOOKS. The Joshua Tree, CA bookstore has two online events in the coming days.

  • Flash Science Fiction Night Online Event – Online Flash Science Fiction Reading

Tuesday September 12th 6pm PT. Register for free here.

Join us online for an evening of short science fiction readings (1000 words or less) with authors Pedro Iniguez, Tonya R. Moore, and Renan Bernardo. Flash Science Fiction Nights run 30 minutes or less, and are a fun and great way to learn about new authors from around the world.

  • Online Reading & Interview with Eliane Boey

Tuesday September 19th 6pm PT. Register for free here.
Other Minds is a collection of two bold new novellas from Chinese Singaporean speculative fiction author, Eliane Boey

Signal\Tracer
A near-future cyberpunk story set in the digital world of Lion City, ruled by the Administration, for which two agents, Xi and Wei, must regulate an immersive mirror of their decaying Eastern city. That is, until Xi finds avatars controlled by dead users. The more she digs, the more questions are raised about her identity, the system, and her friendship with Wei.
Carrier
Ten years after her flagship project (the deep space hauler, Solar Endeavour) split in half while in orbit, aerospace designer Ming Wen is back, test-flying her new intelligent luxury orbiter, the Infinite Dream. The Dream is her chance at redemption, but also a chance at reconciliation with her estranged twenty-year-old daughter, Cora, who has joined the crew on the voyage. The launch is successful, but the mission might be doomed from the start. An uncanny presence has stowed away aboard the ship and now haunts Ming Wen. But on the Infinite Dream, there is no escape.
Get your copy of Other Minds here.

(6) BROUGHT TO YOU IN LIVING DEATH. Max Gladstone, in  “Conan and the City of the Extremely Online”, finds these Robert E. Howard stories remind him of something. Could it be – the Internet?

…Finally, after substantial eeriness, our heroes encounter Ms Exposition 1933, in this case a tall beautiful princess from prehistoric not-Egypt named Thalis. Conan asks what gives in this weird city. Thalis answers, well, here, I’ll type it out for you:

“Much of the time these people lie in sleep. Their dream-life is as important—and to them as real—as their waking life. You have heard of the black lotus? In certain pits of the city it grows. Through the ages they have cultivated it until, instead of death, its juice induces dreams, gorgeous and fantastic. In these dreams they spend most of their time. Their lives are vague, erratic, and without plan. They dream, they wake, drink, love, eat, and dream again. They seldom finish anything they begin, but leave it half completed and sink back again into the slumber of the black lotus. That meal you found—doubtless one awoke, felt the urge of hunger, prepared the meal for himself, then forgot about it and wandered away to dream again.”

I’ll admit that “vague, erratic, and without plan” got me feeling… targeted with uncomfortable directness. But it was the bit where the guy heats up a meal, then wanders off to check his email, where I felt keenly that Howard was @ me across the decades….

(7) YAEL GOLDSTEIN-LOVE Q&A. “Berkeley author wrote her way through postpartum anxiety by embracing a sci-fi multiverse” in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Q: So in a way your homesickness and postpartum anxiety led you into this sci-fi multiverse. Were you already a science fiction fan, or did it take you by surprise?

A: It took me completely by surprise. I had always written straight literary realism, and I never anticipated writing in this mashup of genres. But I’ve always read eclectically and I’m a tremendous fan of sci-fi, so in a way it’s predictable that I landed on this idea: What if at the moment of birth the laws of nature briefly change so that different possibilities not only exist side by side, but also affect each other? 

Once I said that, I felt, this is how it actually feels and now I can make sense of it in writing.

Q: Was there something in particular about the postpartum experience you thought sci-fi could explain better than realism?

A: The existential stakes of loving a person the way a parent loves a child. We are saddled with this existential urge to protect our kids, but there’s this profound gap between what we want to do and what we actually can do because we are human and our children are subject to chance. That was the No. 1 thing I wanted to capture with this sci-fi metaphor.

I also see psychotherapy patients, and the thing that most interests me in both careers is the human mind’s infinite depths and surprises. I feel like there are ways in which you can get at the utter strangeness of how our minds work so much better when you aren’t bound by the conventions of realism. Now that I’ve started writing that way, I feel like I’ll never stop….

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 9, 1900 James Hilton. Author of the novel Lost Horizon which was turned into a film, also called Lost Horizon by director Frank Capra. It is best remembered as the origin of Shangri-La. Definitely not genre, but I was intrigued to discovered that he wrote Goodbye, Mr. Chips which as you know became a 1939 film starring Robert Donat (who won an Oscar for his performance), and a 1969 remake with Peter O’Toole and Petula Clark. (Died 1954.)
  • Born September 9, 1922 Pauline Baynes. She was the first illustrator of some of J. R. R. Tolkien’s lesser known works such as Farmer Giles of Ham and Smith of Wootton Major and of C. S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia. With the help of cartographers from the Bordon military camp in Hampshire, Baynes created a map that Allen & Unwin published as a poster in 1970. Tolkien’s was generally pleased with that, though he didn’t at all like her creatures especially her Shelob. (Died 2008.)
  • Born September 9, 1935 Topol. He’s best remembered for his role of Tevye the Dairyman in Fiddler on the Roof, on both stage and screen, but that’s not why he’s getting a Birthday.  No, that’s because it’s because he was Dr. Hans Zarkov in the 1980 Flash Gordon film. He’s got just two other genre appearances, once in Tales of the Unexpected as Professor Max Kelada  in the “Mr. Know-All” episode, and in the Bond film, For Your Eyes Only. (Died 2023.)
  • Born September 9, 1943 Tom Shippey, 79. Largely known as a Tolkien expert, though I see he wrote a scholarly 21-page introduction to Flights of Eagles, a collection of James Blish work, and under the pseudonym of John Holm, he is also the co-author, with Harry Harrison, of The Hammer and the Cross trilogy of alternate history novels. And early on, he did a lot of SF related non-fiction tomes such as Fiction 2000: Cyberpunk and the Future of Narrative (edited with George Slusser). 
  • Born September 9, 1949 Jason Van Hollander, 73. A book designer, illustrator, and occasional author. His stories and collaborations with Darrell Schweitzer earned a World Fantasy Award nomination. It was in the Collection category, for Necromancies and Netherworlds: Uncanny Stories. I’m fairly sure he’s done a lot of work for Cemetery Dance which make sense as he’d fit their house style.
  • Born September 9, 1952 Angela Cartwright, 71. Fondly remembered as Penny Robinson on the original Lost in Space. I rewatched several of them recently and the Suck Fairy was kind to them overall from a nostalgic viewpoint. She, like several of her fellow cast members, made an appearance in the Lost in Space film as a reporter, and again in the rebooted series as Shelia Harris in the “Echoes” episode. She appeared in the Logan’s Run series in “The Collectors” episode as Karen, and in Airwolf as Mrs. Cranovich in the “Eruption” episode.  
  • Born September 9, 1954 — Jeffrey Combs, 69. Though no doubt his best known genre role was as Weyoun, a Vorta, on Deep Space Nine. However, his genre portfolio is really, really long. it starts with Frightmare, a horror film in the early Eighties and encompasses some forty films, twenty-six series and ten genre games. He’s appeared on Babylon 5, plus three Trek series, Voyager and Enterprise being the other two, the Enterprise appearance being the only time an actor played two distinct roles in the same episode.  He’s played H.P. Lovecraft and Herbert West, a character by that author. Each multiple times. 
  • Born September 9, 1958 – Frank Catalano, 65. Half a dozen short stories in F&SF, Analog and others, plus a book review column in Amazing with Buck Coulson and stints as SFWA secretary and Nebula Awards Report editor. Better known for a later 25 years as a tech columnist (1994-2019) plus writing about science fiction for GeekWire, Seattle Times and others. Toastmaster and emcee at several cons, including several Norwescons, plus one fan GoH spot at Rustycon 4. 

(9) OATES ARTICLE. “Joyce Carol Oates on Women and the Roots of Body Horror” at CrimeReads, from the introduction to the anthology A Darker Shade of Noir: New Stories of Body Horror by Women Writers edited by Joyce Carol Oates.

Of mythological figures of antiquity, none are more monstrous than harpies, furies, gorgons—Scylla and Charybdis, Lamia, Chimera, Sphinx—nightmare creatures representing, to the affronted male gaze, the perversion of “femininity”: the female who in her physical being repulses sexual desire, rather than arousing it; the female who has repudiated the traditional role of submission, subordination, maternal nurturing. Since these fantasy figures have been created by men, we can assume that the female monster is a crude projection of male fears; she is the embodiment of female power uncontrolled by the male, who has most perversely taken on some of the qualities of the male hero—physical prowess, bellicosity and cunning, an appetite for vengeance and cruelty. As in the most lurid male fantasies of sadism and masochism, the female monster threatens castration and something even more primeval: humiliation….

(10) RECOMMENDATIONS. Lisa Tuttle’s latest installment of “The best recent science fiction, fantasy and horror – reviews roundup” for the Guardian covers The Circumference of the World by Lavie Tidhar; Girlfriend on Mars by Deborah Willis; The Blue, Beautiful World by Karen Lord; Bride of the Tornado by James Kennedy; and The Land of Lost Things by John Connolly.

(11) IS IT A TWISTER TOP? Mano’s Wine offers another specialty bottle: “The Wizard of Oz Tornado Etched Wine”. The favorite of flying monkeys who own corkscrews.

Embark on a mesmerizing journey with our Wizard of Oz wine bottles. Expertly deep-etched and lovingly hand-painted, these enchanting collectibles capture the essence of the beloved film. Sip from the elixir of nostalgia and let the magic unfold with every pour. Raise your glass to the Emerald City and indulge in a taste of cinematic splendor….

(12) LIGHTSABERS, CAMERA, ACTION! Cass Morris continues sharing her adventures on Disney’s Star Wars-themed Starship Halcyon in “Day Two on the Halcyon, Part 3: Coaxium”.

6:30pm: I had been invited to a special meeting down in the Lightsaber Training Pod. The blueshirt outside was asking everyone if they were here for the “advanced lightsaber training” and checking them against a list of the invitees. It’s very intimate — I think there were only about 12 of us in there. (They run this scene several times, I think, so more people than that experience it overall).

Inside, we find not only Saja Tycer, but SK-620 and Rey! I was so glad to see that SK was safe. Rey was so wonderful with this one little girl in particular, giving her the MacGuffin to hold on to during this scene. Saja Tycer introduced us as “the students I’ve been telling you about” and then told us that we’d found a truly incredible Jedi relic down on Batuu: a holocron.

None of us could open it alone. But all of us together, using the Force, got it to open.

And this was another part that was for 11-year-old Cass. The girl who used to stand on her head and try to move objects with her mind. And yes, there’s a metric ton of atmospheric manipulation happening in that room. The lights, the background music, the sound… it’s all perfectly designed to elicit a huge emotional reaction. And it works!…

(13) RECITE AFTER ME. [Item by Scott Edelman.] I was at the AFI Silver Theatre last night watching the world premiere of Married to Comics, a documentary about underground cartoonists Justin Green and Carol Tyler, and spotted this sign over the sink in the men’s room in place of the traditional signs suggesting you sing happy birthday while washing your hands.

(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Dann.] “I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings….” John Gillespie Magee Jr in High Flight.

Between Earth and outer space is a nebulous line where our atmosphere slips away into nothingness.  Beyond that point lies the playground of the stars, the workplace of astronauts, and the dreams of humanity as demonstrated by thousands upon thousands of movies, books, poems, and songs.

Thin air whips around the Earth just below making flight impossible for all except the most carefully designed of aircraft.  Few winged aircraft ventured into that rarified air.  One of which was the U-2 Dragonlady.  The now venerable reconnaissance aircraft once flew around the world providing valuable intelligence for the American military.

Photographer Blair Bunting had the rare opportunity to not only fly in one of the few remaining TU-2S trainer aircraft, the Air Force arranged for a 2-airplane flight so that he could photograph a second U-2 in flight at high altitude.  His story and a collection of images are presented by The Drive.  He couldn’t touch it but he could see the heavens just a short distance away.

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

Pixel Scroll 5/19/23 I’m Still Big; It’s The Pixels That Got Small

(1) EXPECT HUGO BALLOT IN “EARLY JUNE”. The Chengdu Worldcon committee today told Facebook readers when to look for the 2023 Hugo ballot:

The 2023 Chengdu Worldcon Hugo Awards nomination was officially closed on April 30th, and the shortlist will be out early June. Big thank you to all members who spent your valuable time to make the nominations.

(2) TAKE TWO. Cass Morris was very sorry to hear that Disney is closing the Galactic Starcruiser. And not for any abstract reasons – she was planning to go next year. However, the attraction’s inability to stay in business prompted Morris to embark on a vast thought experiment about the kind of Disney Star Wars immersive hotel experience which could work, and her results are quite entertaining. “Galactic Travels” at Scribendi.

…Unfortunately, while this news is terribly sad, it’s also not wholly unexpected. The Starcruiser has had trouble ever since it opened. The high price point, unusual conceit, and level of fannish commitment required for full enjoyment seem to have kept it operating at low capacity.

So, last night as I was nursing my sadness about probably never getting to go, I started thinking… 

If I were going to design a Star Wars hotel for Disney World, one that might stand a better chance of succeeding… what would I do?…

(3) MINDFULNESS ABOUT VIRTUAL GOHS. Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki has an idea for using virtual cons in a progressive way – involving international, disabled, and otherwise nontraveling creators — which he has shared with Facebook readers:

…Something I learnt along the way, from my first con I participated in, was that virtual cons are important. Having people of diverse backgrounds & voices be able to attend, contribute to the general pool of knowledge & discussions. I believe diversity, multiple viewpoints and experiences taking into account, people working together, will solve many world problems, including the recent AI scourge of the arts. twitter.com/Penprince_/sta

Sure, running virtual components isnt always possible. Funding, the tech issues, etc. It’s understandable when cons can’t have them. But when they do have them, it’s imperative, almost compulsory they have both virtual attendees and guests of honour like CanConSF & ICFA did. It gives a platform to allow people with the experience and expertise to contribute on a larger scale to genre development and history, the change to. As ICFA guest of honour, the first ever African born, Black writer to be, I created the genre #Afropantheology, which I believe hope, & plan will contribute and richly influence genre & storytelling generally. The GoH platform was very helpful in that. …

(4) IT’S BIG. Max Gladstone tells how his vacation was interrupted by word about the apotheosis of his writing career in “Big Bigolas Energy” at The Third Place.

…It unfolded for me in fits and starts, and almost out of order, as one would expect of a book about time travel.

While we were in transit, a friend who often texts us about Time War sitings in the wilds of social media sent my partner a screenshot of The Bigolas Tweet, which at that time had 12,000 likes.

I thought, how wonderful! Nice note to start the vacation. And also: what a great screen name. My brain was in vacation mode already, so I didn’t think about the numbers too much. As I’ve been told many times, Twitter Doesn’t Sell Books. 

Later that evening, Amal (that’s my New York Times Bestselling co-author Amal El-Mohtar, to be clear, though at this point we were neither of us New York Times Bestselling co-authors) sent me a screenshot of the same tweet; the numbers were much bigger (Bigolas-er?). I thought: wow! It’s really taking off. But still: Twitter Doesn’t Sell Books.

As they say: lol….

(5) INNOCENT BYSTANDER. Google Bard, another of these AI language models, has somehow managed to pull Nnedi Okorafor into the latest row about BasedCon.

(6) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites listeners to munch on mahi mahi with L. Marie Wood in Episode 198 of the Eating the Fantastic podcast.

L. Marie Wood

I knew L. Marie Wood for a decade or more before I learned at the last in-person Balticon before the pandemic that we’re basically neighbors, but never knew it. So after an earlier lunch during which we tried to figure out how we’ve somehow managed to avoid each other all these years, we got together at Brix 27 in downtown Martinsburg, West Virginia so I could learn more about who she is and how she came to be.

L. Marie Wood is a writer of psychological horror, supernatural suspense, and dark fiction of all kinds who’s been a professionally published writer for 20 years, ever since her first novel Crescendo and first short story “The Dance” were published in 2003. Her novels since then include The Promise KeeperCacophonyAccursed, and others, plus multiple short story collections, including Anathema and Phantasma. She’s also a screenwriter who’s a three-time winner of Best Horror Screenplay at the NOVA International Film Festival, Best Psychological Horror Short Script at Hollywood Horrorfest, and on and on. Her most recent publications are the novel The Open Book, accompanied by the related short story collection The Tales of Time, which contains the short stories being read by — and feared by — the characters in that first book.

We discussed the way she began her writing career selling poetry in parking lots, our differing experiences with hand selling our own books, the fears which keep horror writers up at night, the many misconceptions she had about the writing life back when he began, the uncomfortable novella she wrote when she was five, what our parents made of our horrific scribblings, the ever-present problem of dealing with rejection, our mutual love of pantsing, what should become of our papers, and much more.

(7) WHEN THEY WERE THE FUTURE. Fanac.org has posted video of a panel from this year’s Eastercon: “Conversation 2023 – The Third Row w/ John Coxon, Niall Harrison, Emily January & Abigail Nussbaum”.

At the 2023 Eastercon (Conversation), Guest of Honor Niall Harrison, and fellow “Third Row” fans John Coxon, Emily January and Abigail Nussbaum sat down for a discussion on the future of fandom (circa 2004). 

Moderated by Meg MacDonald,  the panel hilariously tells the story of Third Row Fandom, named and brought into being accidentally by Greg Pickersgill during a “Future of Fandom” panel at the 2004 Eastercon. 

Themselves dubbed “the future of fandom” by Greg, the fans seated in the third row at that panel have made good on the title, pulling others into their orbit and having an outsized influence on science fiction and science fiction fandom over the last 20 years.

Illustrated with powerpoint slides to map out their impact, this fascinating panel tells the story of a cohort of young fans maturing into movers and shakers in the field, as writers, reviewers, editors, award judges and convention organizers.

Many thanks to Conversation 2023 for providing this recording, and particularly to Alison Scott for her assistance.

(8) WORRA Q&A. The Horror Writers Association blog continues its series: “Asian Heritage in Horror: Interview with Bryan Thao Worra”.

What inspired you to start writing? 

These days I think a poet has a thousand beginnings. Sometimes I trace it back to an old encyclopedia with gorgons and dinosaurs, another, a 3rd-grade role-playing game almost no one remembers. Others it feels like an unrequited crush on a classmate, a fortune teller’s prediction about me shared to my grandmother, a ghost in an attic, or just the absence of seeing stories like my own in the news, in movies and novels, and especially poetry. Each moment was liberating in its own way….

(9) KNOW YOUR CONTRACT. “Editing Clauses in Publishing Contracts: What to Watch For” — Victoria Strauss issues warnings at Writer Beware.

Editing Clauses of Concern

Here’s an example of an editing clause that should be a dealbreaker (this and other clauses quoted below are taken from actual contracts in my possession):

“Publisher shall have the right to edit and revise the Work for any and all uses contemplated under this Agreement.”

What’s missing here? Any obligation on the publisher’s part to seek your approval before making the edits and revisions–or even allow you to see them before publication. A clause like this enables the publisher to edit at will without consulting or even informing you, and, if you do have the opportunity to see the edits, to unilaterally reject your concerns. If you sign a contract with this kind of language, you are at the mercy of the publisher and its editors. You shouldn’t be surprised if the publisher takes advantage of it.

(10) SPFBO 9. Right now Mark Lawrence’s Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off judges are picking their favorite covers from among the 300 entrants. See them here: “SPFBO 9 – The Cover Contest!”

(11) MEMORY LANE.

1996[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

Mary Doria Russell’s The Sparrow is one of those novels that treats the Catholic Church with respect and is also a true SF novel at the same time, a very neat trick indeed. 

It was published by Villard twenty seven years ago, and was honored with an Arthur C. Clarke Award, the Otherwise Award, and a BSFA Award. It has a sequel, Children of God, published two years afterwards.

The Sparrow has one of the most perfect Beginnings I’ve ever read which you can see below if by any slim chance you’ve not read it yet. 

It was predictable, in hindsight. Everything about the history of the Society of Jesus bespoke deft and efficient action, exploration and research. During what Europeans were pleased to call the Age of Discovery, Jesuit priests were never more than a year or two behind the men who made initial contact with previously unknown peoples; indeed, Jesuits were often the vanguard of exploration. 

The United Nations required years to come to a decision that the Society of Jesus reached in ten days. In New York, diplomats debated long and hard, with many recesses and tablings of the issue, whether and why human resources should be expended in an attempt to contact the world that would become known as Rakhat when there were so many pressing needs on Earth. In Rome, the questions were not whether or why but how soon the mission could be attempted and whom to send. 

The Society asked leave of no temporal government. It acted on its own principles, with its own assets, on Papal authority. The mission to Rakhat was undertaken not so much secretly as privately—a fine distinction but one that the Society felt no compulsion to explain or justify when the news broke several years later. 

The Jesuit scientists went to learn, not to proselytize. They went so that they might come to know and love God’s other children. They went for the reason Jesuits have always gone to the farthest frontiers of human exploration. They went ad majorem Dei gloriam: for the greater glory of God. 

They meant no harm.

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born May 19, 1937 Pat Roach. He was cast in the first three Indy Jones films as a decided Bad Person though he never had a name. His first genre appearance was in A Clockwork Orange as a Milkbar bouncer but his first named role was being Hephaestus in Clash of Titans. He was of an unusually stocky nature, so he got cast as a Man Ape in Conan the Destroyer, and as Bretagne the Barbarian in Red Sonja. And of course he had such a role as Zulcki in Kull the Desttoyer. Oh, and he played a very large and mostly naked Executioner in the George MacDonald Fraser scripted The Return of The Musketeers. (Died 2004.)
  • Born May 19, 1944 Peter Mayhew. Chewbacca from the beginning to The Force Awakens before his retirement from the role. The same year he first did Chewy, he had an uncredited role as the Minotaur in Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger. He also shows in the Dark Towers series as The Tall Knight.  Can we say he earned a Hugo at IguanaCon II? I know I’m stretching it there. (Died 2019.)
  • Born May 19, 1946 Andre the Giant. Fezzik in The Princess Bride, one of my all-time favorite films. Also, an uncredited role as Dagoth in Conan the Destroyer. He’s actually did a number of genre roles such as The Greatest American Hero with his American acting debut playing a Bigfoot in a two-part episode aired in 1976 on The Six Million Dollar Man titled “The Secret of Bigfoot”. He died of cardiac arrest, not at all surprising given his size and weight of over five hundred pounds. (Died 1993.)
  • Born May 19, 1948 Grace Jones, 75. First genre appearance was as Stryx in Rumstryx, an Italian TV series. Her next was Zulu in Conan the Destroyer followed by being May Day in A View to Kill and Katrina in Vamp. She was Masako Yokohama in Cyber Bandits which also starred Adam Ant. Her last several genre roles to date were Christoph/Christine in Wolf Girl, and Death aka The Devil in Gutterdammerung, a film that also featured Henry Rollins, Slash and Iggy Pop! 
  • Born May 19, 1966 Jodi Picoult, 57. Her Wonder Women work is exemplary (collected in Wonder Women, Volume 3 and Wonder Woman: Love and Murder).  She also has a most excellent two-volume YA series called the Between the Lines Universe which she wrote with Samantha van Leer. ISFDB lists her Second Glance novel as genre but I’d say it’s genre adjacent at best. Her latest work though marketed as a mainstream novel, Between the Lines Musical, is actually genre.
  • Born May 19, 1966 Polly Walker, 57. She appeared in Syfy’s Caprica, Sanctuary and Warehouse 13, as well as performing voice work in John Carter.
  • Born May 19, 1996 Sarah Grey, 27. Before DC Universe cast the present Stargirl in Brec Bassinger for that series, Legends of Tomorrow cast their Stargirl as this actress for a run of three episodes.  The episodes (“Out of Time”, “Justice Society of America” and “Camelot 3000”) are superb. I’ve not seen her as Alyssa Drake in The Order but I’ve heard Good Things about that series.

(13) COMICS SECTION.

  • Speed Bump shows even the ultimate Creator needs prompts.
  • The Far Side, on the other hand, shares an idea about Hell.  
  • The Far Side also imagined how this Star Trek personality would spend his time in Hell.

(14) KAIJU IN TRANSLATION. Never before available in English it says here. Now’s your chance to read the original Godzilla stories: “Godzilla and Godzilla Raids Again” coming from the University of Minnesota Press in October 2023.

The first English translations of the original novellas about the iconic kaijū Godzilla

Although the Godzilla films have been analyzed in detail by cultural historians, film scholars, and generations of fans, Shigeru Kayama’s two Godzilla novellas—both classics of Japanese young-adult science fiction—have never been available in English. This book finally provides English-speaking fans and critics the original texts with these first-ever English-language translations of Godzilla and Godzilla Raids Again. As human activity continues to cause mass extinctions and rapid climatic change, Godzilla provides a fable for the Anthropocene, powerfully reminding us that nature will fight back against humanity’s onslaught in unpredictable and devastating ways.

(15) IMAGINARY PAPERS. ASU’s Center for Science and the Imagination has published Imaginary Papers, Issue 14, their latest quarterly newsletter on science fiction worldbuilding, futures thinking, and imagination.

 In this issue, medievalist and SF writer Erin K. Wagner writes about C. S. Lewis’ science fiction novel That Hideous Strength, communication studies scholar and SF writer Jenna N. Hanchey considers the Africanfuturist film Neptune Frost, and we offer a brief reflection on the new essay collection Ex Marginalia, edited by Chinelo Onwualu.

(16) WHERE THE SKELETONS ARE. Ranker takes up “The Story of Theodore Rex, The Bizarre Whoopi Goldberg Dinosaur Film”.

Theodore Rex, the weirdest of weird ’90s movies, is a $33 million direct-to-video buddy cop movie starring Whoopi Goldberg and a wisecracking dinosaur. (Take as much time as you need to wrap your brain around that sentence. We understand.)

Theodore Rex wasn’t an attempt to tie into the dino-fever that swept the nation’s youth in the early ’90s; it was a genuine attempt at making a gritty sci-fi film about a detective and her dinosaur partner. That’s right. Legendary EGOT-winner Whoopi Goldberg and a Talking Man-Sized Dinosaur teamed up for a cop film and they demanded to be taken seriously. (The 90s were a very strange time.)

Even though the film is a complete nightmare, things behind the scenes of Theodore Rex were much worse. As weird as it sounds, we can’t stress this enough: nobody had fun on this Whoopi Goldberg/Dinosaur joint.

Ranker’s first little-known fact is –

Whoopi Goldberg Was Forced By Law To Be In This Movie

Whoopi Goldberg did, at one time, want to be in Theodore Rex and agreed to play the lead for $5 million and a share of the profits, but she quickly changed her mind and tried to back out (good instincts, Whoopi!). Goldberg had to learn the hard way that it’s just not that easy to simply walk away from expensive movies starring talking dinosaurs (a lesson we all could learn from). Because she had agreed to do the movie, the producers sued her for $20 million when she tried to back out. After an answering machine recording of Goldberg surfaced where she said she was “100% committed” to the project, she was forced to choose between appearing in the film or paying out the nose for a dinosaur detective movie that she agreed to appear in. There’s a famous saying in Hollywood: “The only thing worse than appearing in a terrible dinosaur movie is paying $20 million NOT to appear in a terrible dinosaur movie,” so Whoopi opted to appear in the terrible dinosaur movie.

(17) CASE SOLVED? “Who Stole Dorothy’s Ruby Slippers? A Minnesota Man Is Charged.” reports the New York Times.

A Minnesota man has been indicted on charges that he stole a pair of the famed ruby slippers worn by Judy Garland in “The Wizard of Oz” from the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, Minn., the actress’s hometown, nearly 18 years ago.

The red-sequined pumps were recovered in a sting operation that ended in Minneapolis in 2018, but the authorities said at the time that their investigation was continuing and they did not name any suspects.

On Tuesday, a federal indictment in U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota charged Terry Jon Martin of Minnesota with stealing an authentic pair of the slippers, which officials estimated have a market value of $3.5 million, from the museum sometime between Aug. 27 and Aug. 28 of 2005. Mr. Martin was indicted on one count of theft of a major artwork….

Interesting – I recently corresponded with someone from this museum. They’re always looking for things related to cousin Judy, and I’m told some of my other cousins may be making donations. (I have nothing, myself, and never met her.)

(18) AU REVOIR. Deadline has posted a list of what’s being pulled: “Disney To Remove Dozens Of Series, Including ‘Big Shot’, ‘Willow’, ‘Y’ & ‘Dollface’”.

Big Shot [Disney+]
Turner & Hooch [Disney+]
The Mysterious Benedict Society [Disney+]
The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers [Disney+]
Willow [Disney+]
The Making Of Willow [Disney+]
Diary of a Future President [Disney+]
Just Beyond [Disney+]
The World According to Jeff Goldblum [Disney+]
Marvel’s Project Hero [Disney+]
Marvel’s MPower [Disney+]
Marvel’s Voices Rising: The Music of Wakanda Forever [Disney+]
Cheaper by the Dozen remake [Disney+]
The One and Only Ivan [Disney+]
Stargirl [Disney+]
Artemis Fowl [Disney+]
The Princess [Disney+]
Encore! [Disney+]
A Spark Story [Disney+]
Black Beauty [Disney+]
Clouds [Disney+]
America the Beautiful [Disney+]
Better Nate Than Ever [Disney+]
Weird but True! [Disney+]
Timmy Failure [Disney+]
Be Our Chef [Disney+]
Magic Camp [Disney+]
Howard [Disney+]
Earth to Ned [Disney+]
Foodtastic [Disney+]
Stuntman [Disney+]
Disney Fairy Tale Weddings [Disney+]
Wolfgang [Disney+]
It’s a Dog’s Life with Bill Farmer [Disney+]
The Real Right Stuff [Disney+]
The Big Fib [Disney+]
Rogue Trip [Disney+]
More Than Robots [Disney+]
Shop Class [Disney+]
Pick the Litter [Disney+]
Own the Room [Disney+]
Among the Stars [Disney+]
Harmonious Live! [Disney+]
Pentatonix: Around the World for the Holidays [Disney+]
Y: The Last Man [FX/Hulu]
Pistol [FX/Hulu]
Little Demon [FX/Hulu]
Maggie [Hulu]
Dollface [Hulu]
The Hot Zone [Nat Geo/Hulu]
The Premise [Hulu]
Love in the Time of Corona [Hulu]
Everything’s Trash [Hulu]
Best in Snow [Hulu]
Best in Dough [Hulu]
Darby and the Dead [Hulu]
The Quest [Hulu]
Rosaline [Hulu]

(19) DISORIENTING. Steven Heller interviews Hungarian artist István Orosz in “Illusions From a Visual Magician” at Print Magazine. Includes a gallery of images like the one below.

What you see is never what you really see. It is neither real nor surreal, it is art—the result of precision drafting and intricate mathematical logic. Hungarian illustrator, animated film director and poster artist István Orosz basks in the mystique of his ambitious visual contortions, implausible objects and incredible optical illusions. He is a visual punster on the highest plane who is happiest when making confounding images and anamorphoses relying on forced perspective that echo, not coincidentally, his famous mathematics teacher (and inventor of the Rubik’s cube) Ernő Rubif….

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

Pixel Scroll 5/10/23 Not Just Another Scroll Title. This One Has Heart. And Humanity. Four Pixels!

(1) “BIGOLAS DICKOLAS WOLFWOOD ENERGY”? [Item by Soon Lee.] Four years after release, This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone rocketed up to number 6 in the Amazon overall book rankings (it’s number one in a number of categories). And it is all thanks to a recommendation tweet from an account named “Bigolas Dickolas”, a fan account for the “Trigun” anime. Amal El-Mohtar tweeted a link.

This Is How You Lose the Time War is a Hugo, Nebula, and BSFA winner so it’s not like it wasn’t critically acclaimed. I loved it. But for a book to climb into the Amazon Top 10 four years after release is not something that happens. Let alone it happening because an anime fan account tweeted about it. Stunned and delighted reactions all round.

My TL;DR

Bigolas Dickolas has done for “This is How You Lose the Time War” what “Stranger Things” did for “Running Up That Hill”.

Several more write-ups here:

DongWon Song (Amal El-Mohtar’s agent) commented:

(2) THIS IS THE WINTER OF OUR DISCONTENT MODERATION. Charlie Jane Anders’ Happy Dancing newsletter offers “Some (Probably) Worthless Thoughts About Content Moderation”. Spoiler: They are far from worthless.

… Twitter has long had a feature where you can choose to see notifications only from people you follow, which is great in theory. If you have that box checked on Twitter, you’ll only see replies and quote-tweets from the people you’ve decided to trust — but in practice, if your tweet gets a ton of hostile replies and quote-tweets, you will absolutely know about it. It’ll show up if you look at the permalink for your actual tweet, but also your trusted followers will inevitably start arguing with the folks you don’t follow. Plus, it requires a lot of willpower to avoid looking at a swarm of replies or quote-tweets when you know they’re there.

Plus as I’ve said above, even if you decide you don’t want to see hate group posts, you’ll still find out about it if they target you. It’s impossible to ignore at a certain point.

Here’s a good place to mention that I’m enjoying Bluesky a lot so far — a ton of Black Twitter folks who were turned off by Mastodon’s well-documented racism problem are hanging out there, along with many other folks I enjoyed chatting with on Twitter. But I’m also very aware that I’m enjoying it, in part, because it’s still a small community and we’re at the start, rather than the end, of the “enshittification” process*….

(3) AI IS MY COPILOT. [Item by Anne Marble.] If you see people getting upset with publishers asking for AI submissions, here is one example. In a Special Submissions Call, Space and Time Magazine is asking authors to collaborate with AI for a unique issue. This submissions call did not go over well…

Here are the first two of many tweeted responses:

(4) GREMLINS PREQUEL ARRIVES. Animation World Network has the story: “Max Shares ‘Gremlins: Secrets of The Mogwai’ Official Trailer”.

Max (formerly HBO Max) has dropped an official trailer and poster for Gremlins: Secrets of the Mogwai, the highly anticipated 3DCG animated prequel series to the iconic Gremlins film franchise. The show debuts May 23, followed by two new episodes released weekly on Thursdays.

The new series takes viewers back to 1920s Shanghai, where the Wing family first meets the young Mogwai called Gizmo. Sam Wing (future shop owner Mr. Wing in the 1984 Gremlins film) accepts the dangerous task of taking Gizmo home and embarks on a journey through the Chinese countryside. Sam and Gizmo are joined by a teenage street thief named Elle, and together, they encounter—and sometimes battle—colorful monsters and spirits from Chinese folklore. Along their quest, they are pursued by a power-hungry industrialist and his growing army of evil Gremlins….

Gremlins: Secrets of the Mogwai, from executive producers Steven Spielberg and Tze Chun premieres May 23 on Max.

(5) J.M. COSTER MEMOIR. “Your Tongue Remembers” is introduced by Sarah Gailey as “Jen Coster’s reflections on language, food, and what it means to be loved.”

…During my childhood, my parents were learning English while I was forgetting the little bit of Chinese that I knew. We spoke to each other in fits and starts, each of us hurt (in the exact same but also completely different ways) by the lack of understanding. With my grandmother, I barely spoke at all. She didn’t know English, and I was eventually too ashamed of my broken Chinese to try.

And yet, China was my first home, and Chinese was my first language. At some point in my early life, it was all I knew. Even though I don’t remember what it was like to have those musical words fall from my mouth at the speed of thought, there are certain shapes my mouth still knows how to make, certain tones my ears still know how to hear—things my mind and body have held on to as a record of my past.

The words that my tongue remembers, though it’s clumsy in the shaping of them, are mostly related to food.

It always comes back to food.

I don’t know what it’s like to have to make concessions related to cultural identity, for success to require the rejection of things that make up the fabric of you, for victory to feel like surrender. But I do know what it feels like to grieve the loss of something I never really had in the first place….

(6) EKPEKI TAKES ON IAFA ROLE. International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts (IAFA) announced on Facebook they have appointed Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki as their Virtual Conference Coordinator.

(7) CSSF WORKSHOP OPPORTUNITY. Applications are being taken for the online CSSF Speculative Fiction Writing Workshop. 

This intensive, 2-week creative writing course will be taught online by RB Lemberg, author of the acclaimed novellas The Four Profound Weaves (2020) and The Unbalancing (2022) and finalist for the prestigious Nebula Award for best science fiction or fantasy published in the United States.

Lemberg will bring their expertise in writing and publishing speculative fiction—an umbrella category that includes science fiction, horror, fantasy narratives, magical realism, and the like—to instruct students in the creation and polishing of their own imaginative work. Students will read an assortment of SFF short stories for discussions of craft and stylistic choices, and participate in writing exercises and peer review workshops. Each class member should come prepared with at least one short story they are prepared to share and revise. 

June 12 – June 23, 2023 (Monday – Friday)

4:30 – 7:30 pm (Central US/Canada), with synchronous and asynchronous elements. 

Cost and Enrollment:

NON-CREDIT-SEEKING STUDENTS: $500 for 2-wk session – Register here

CREDIT-SEEKING KU STUDENTS: Enroll via https://classes.ku.edu/ – ENGL 757 (Summer 2023)

Small scholarships available – 1st come, 1st served. Email us with your name, contact information, institution (if applicable), connection to the Gunn Center (if any).

(8) 2024 STURGEON SYMPOSIUM DESIGN CONTEST. If you have an inspiration for next year’s Sturgeon Symposium t-shirt design it could be worth $250 to you.

The J. Wayne & Elsie M. Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction (CSSF) is dedicated to research and education in science fiction and other speculative forms, such as fantasy, horror, Afrofuturism, fanfiction, and neo-Gothic narratives. We believe that through our encounters with different worlds, we come to know the one we all share; we also become better equipped to create new possibilities within it. Our ongoing mission is to foster a global community of students, scholars, artists, educators, and enthusiasts who are interested in exploring the limitless potential of the human imagination, whether that be to question, to play, or to dream about the future.

The Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award, offered annually for the best published science fiction short story of the previous year, will be presented at the Sturgeon Symposium, where scholars, artists, educators, students, and enthusiasts come together to discuss and learn about new work in the field. The winning design will be featured on T-shirts sold to generate funds for the 2024 symposium and on flyers used to promote the event. Help us showcase the limitless potential of the human imagination!

The 2024 Sturgeon Symposium will be honoring the foundational work of Samuel R. Delaney to the field and study of Science Fiction. Inspired by his 1984 science fiction novel, Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand, the theme of this year Design contest is “Stars in Our Pockets.”

To Enter:

  • Submit your original design(s) by 11:59 pm on 18 August 2023 to [email protected]. Include name, email address, and phone number with entry.
  • File(s) should be submitted as a .pdf, .jpb, .png, .ai, or .eps with dimensions of 1500px by 1500px.
  • Designs should be front of t-shirt only and can include up to 4 colors.
  • Transparent artwork preferred. Avoid gradients.

Judges will consider:

  • how well each design celebrates the concepts of science fiction and/or the speculative
  • how well each design represents KU’s Gunn Center for the Study of SF
  • how well each design builds energy for the 2024 Sturgeon Symposium

By entering the contest, you agree and acknowledge that:

  • You have read, understood, and will abide by the contest rules, terms, and conditions.
  • If your design is selected as the winning entry, you grant the Center for the Study of Science Fiction a non-exclusive license to reproduce, distribute, display, and create derivative works of your submitted design (the “Work”) on promotional materials and marketing materials such as t-shirts, posters, brochures, and digital media.
  • You warrant that you are the original creator of the Work and that it does not infringe upon the rights of any third parties, including, but not limited to, copyright, trademark, and rights of publicity or privacy.

Winner will be announced at the Sturgeon Award ceremony, Date and Time TBD Questions? Contact The Gunn Center for the Study of SF – [email protected] https://sfcenter.ku.edu/

This is last year’s winning design:

(9) MEMORY LANE.

2019[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

Sarah Pinsker’s A Song for a New Day was her Nebula-winning debut novel. It was also nominated for a Compton Crook Award. Those folk in Baltimore have stellar taste in SF novels, don’t they?

It is a wonderful read (no spoilers there) and I surprised to learn that she wrote but one more novel to date. I’ve read this novel but haven’t read We Are Satellites, so am very interested in what y’all think of it.

A Song for a New Day was published by Berkley Books. 

And here is her splendid Beginning. Warning: fatal violence involving Muppets occurs here. It really does. 

172 Ways 

There were, to my knowledge, one hundred and seventy-two ways to wreck a hotel room. We had brainstormed them all in the van over the last eight months on the road. As a game, I’d thought: 61, turn all the furniture upside down; 83, release a pack of feral cats; 92, fill all the drawers with beer, or, 93, marbles; 114, line the floor with soapy plastic and turn it into a slip ’n’ slide; etc., etc. 

In my absence, my band had come up with the one hundred and seventy-third, and had for the first time added in a test run. I was not proud. 

What would Gemma do if she were here? I stepped all the way into their room instead of gawking from the hallway and closed the door before any hotel employees could walk past, pressing the button to illuminate the DO NOT DISTURB sign for good measure. “Dammit, guys. This is a nice hotel. What the hell did you do?”

“We found some paint.” Hewitt’s breath smelled like a distillery’s dumpster. He lingered beside me in the vestibule.”

“You’re a master of understatement.” 

All their bags and instruments were crammed into the closet by the entrance. The room itself was painted a garish neon pink, which it definitely hadn’t been when I’d left that morning. Not only the walls, either: the headboards, the nightstand, the dresser. The spatter on the carpet suggested somebody had knifed a Muppet and let it crawl away to die. For all the paint, Hewitt’s breath was still the overwhelming odor.

“Even the TV?” I asked. “Really?” 

The television, frame and screen. Cable news blared behind a drippy film of pink, discussing the new highway only for self-driving cars. We’d be avoiding that one. 

JD lounged on the far bed, holding a glass of something caramel colored. His shoes were pink. The bedspread, the site of another Muppet Murder.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born May 10, 1863 Cornelius Shea. As SFE puts it, “author for the silent screen and author of dime novels (see Dime-Novel SF), prolific in many categories but best remembered for marvel stories using a fairly consistent ‘mythology’ of dwarfs, subterranean eruptions, and stage illusion masquerading as supernatural magic.” To my surprise, only two of his novels are in the Internet Archive. (Died 1920.)
  • Born May 10, 1886 Olaf Stapledon. Original and almost unimaginable, Last and First Men, his first novel (!) written in 1930 extends over two billion years. Who could follow that?  He did, with Star Maker, over 100 billion years. Their range, imagination, and grandeur may still be unequaled. He was, however – or to his credit – depending on how you see things – an avowed atheist.  Odd John, about a spiritual-intellectual superman, may be tragic, or heroic, or both. Darkness and the Light was nominated for a Retro-Hugo At WorldCon 76 as was Sirius: A Fantasy of Love and Discord at CoNZealand. He was the first recipient of the Cordwainer Smith Rediscovery Award in 2001 and voted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2014. (Died 1950.)
  • Born May 10, 1891 Earl Askam. He played Officer Torch, the captain of Ming the Merciless’s guards, in the 1936 Flash Gordon serial. It’s his only genre appearance though he did have an uncredited role in a Perry Mason film where the SJW credential was the defendant in a Perry Mason murder case, The Case of Black Cat. I haven’t seen the film but it’s got cool poster. (Died 1940.)
  • Born May 10, 1899 Fred Astaire. Yes, that actor. He showed up on the original  Battlestar Galactica as Chameleon / Captain Dimitri In “The Man with Nine Lives” episode. Stunt casting I assume.  He had only two other genre roles as near as I can tell which were voicing The Wasp in the English-language adaptation of the Japanese Wasp anime series, and being in a film called Ghost Story. They came nearly twenty years apart and were the last acting roles that he did. (Died 1987.)
  • Born May 10, 1963 Rich Moore, 60. He directed Wreck-It Ralph and co-directed Zootopia and Ralph Breaks the Internet; he has worked on Futurama. Might be stretching the definition of genre (or possibly not), but he did the animation for “Spy vs. Spy” for MADtv. You can see the first one here.
  • Born May 10, 1969 John Scalzi, 54. Bane of Puppies everywhere. Really he is — successful, white and writing SF very much that is in the mode of writers like Heinlein. How dare he? And yes, I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve ever read by him. What would I recommend if you hadn’t read him? The Old Man’s War series certainly is fantastic, with Zoe’s Tale bringing tears to my eyes. The Interdependency series is excellent as well. I really have mixed feelings about Redshirts in that it’s too jokey for my taste. I will note that his blog is one of a very few which I read every post of.

(11) COMIC SECTION.

  • Bizarro once again lives up to its name with this Pinocchio joke.
  • Arlo and Janis find a clever use for a 2001 reference.
  • Thatababy calls out a buttinski named Batman.
  • Dog Eat Doug isn’t that funny but it does reference a well-known sff writer.

(12) KAIJU AND OTHERS. The birthday boy and Michi Trota featured today in episode 142 of the AMW Author Talks podcast: “John Scalzi & Michi Trota”.

Acclaimed science fiction author John Scalzi discusses his recent book The Kaiju Preservation Society and the science fiction genre with fellow award-winning science fiction writer Michi Trota.

This conversation originally took place May 15, 2022 and was recorded live at the American Writers Festival.

(13) APPLY FOR LEONARDO. Applications are being taken for the “Leonardo Imagination Fellowship”, hosted by Arizona State University, through June 2.

Leonardo and the Center for Science and the Imagination are proud to announce our second Imagination Fellowship, starting in August 2023. In this virtual, global program, fellows will develop experimental media projects exploring diverse aspects of Planetary Health Futures, including but not limited to issues of climate, human well-being, interspecies relationships, democracy, emerging social structures, and safeguarding the Earth’s habitability for humans and other life forms. Applications are due on June 2, 2023 at 11:59pm MST.

Fellows will reflect on how their projects support, align with and add new complexity and nuance to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). They should also substantively engage with the notion of experimental media, charting new territory in areas like expanded reality, immersive storytelling, worldbuilding, and more. Projects should embrace global perspectives and invite global participation, and demonstrate commitment to justice and equity.

Each fellow will produce a discrete media artifact, and will be supported in collaborative, cross-disciplinary experimentation with practice and process throughout the fellowship period. Examples of outputs or deliverables include, but are not limited to experimental publishing projects, from books and novellas to zines and networked texts; expanded reality projects, from virtual and augmented reality to mixed reality; games and interactive experiences; films and video installations; sonic environments and acoustic experiences.

We invite fellowship applications focusing on a range of themes. Each fellow will connect their work with one of the following themes at Leonardo-ASU or the Center for Science and the Imagination. In the first phase of their fellowship the fellows will identify a specific existing CSI or Leonardo project to focus on, building on its networks, communities, and creative outputs. Some exemplar projects are listed for each theme below.

ACCESS

PLANETARY FUTURES

LEARNING FUTURES BRAIN/MIND/CONSCIOUSNESS

  • Futures of Learning and Education, connecting with the Arizona STEM Acceleration Project*
  • Imagination, Cognition, and Consciousness, connecting with Applied Imagination Project
  • Speculative Fiction for Institutional Transformation, connecting with the Applied Sci-Fi Project

*While several of these existing projects are rooted in Arizona, we welcome global connections, extensions, and expansions in fellowship projects that connect to these regional efforts.

Fellowship Details

  • The Imagination Fellowship Program will offer up to 3 virtual fellowships, beginning in August 2023, and running through April 2024.
  • Fellows will receive $6,000 per fellow for the period of 9 months. There is no separate production budget. Fellows are free to use their stipend to support production needs.
  • Applications are due Friday, June 2, by 11:59 pm Arizona time (UTC-7).

For further questions, please reach out to [email protected].

(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. When my daughter was very young we used to watch The Wiggles. So it didn’t take much to rouse my curiosity about Defunctland’s YouTube video, “The Awful Wiggles Dark Ride”.

In Defunctland, Kevin and company return with stories of defunct rides, parks, and themed entertainment experiences. Whether it’s Disney, Universal, Six Flags, or a hastily built World’s Fair, Defunctland looks at the stories behind their incredible failures.

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Soon Lee, Anne Marble, Kathy Sullivan, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kip Williams.]

Pixel Scroll 10/14/22 The Sky Was Full Of Scrolls

(1) DANGER MAN. Max Gladstone holds forth about “The Wolfeman” at The Third Place.

Gene Wolfe is a tricky writer to discuss.

For a certain type of reader (generally but not exclusively a reader of science fiction), he is The Author. He is axiomatically intelligent and referential. His texts are not merely without flaw—they are without accident, each element load-bearing. If any piece of text (or elision) in a Gene Wolfe novel could be read to suggest vast churning implications invisible to the casual reader, it has definitely been read that way by someone on the internet. The terrifying thing is that many of these readings are not wrong. They’re not even generous. They are sometimes, even often, the readings that most account for the facts of the text.

And this is why talking about his books and stories feels dangerous. To discuss, say, Wolfe’s PEACE, which I recently finished re-reading, one must put forth some theories about what PEACE is, what’s happening both in the book and between the lines of this book. This raises two risks.

First, one risks short-circuiting another reader’s tremendous and eerie process of discovery. (Even as I write this very general description, I worry: am I doing the literary equivalent of recommending a movie by saying it “has a great twist”? But PEACE isn’t about twists. It’s about the experience of realizing how much attention one should pay. More on this in a bit.)

Second, when one puts forth a theory, one risks being wrong….

(2) CAN*CON LEADERSHIP CHANGE. Derek Künsken is stepping down after nearly 11 years as Co-Chair of Can*Con, Ottawa’s literary scifi and fantasy conference. The conference has won Canadian national awards and is the major con in Eastern Canada. Marie Bilodeau, currently co-chair, will assume the chair role solo. “A Message from Derek Künsken, Programming Co-Chair: Don’t worry, I left Marie the Keys, or Hayden was right again”.

… Marie will lead the conference to its next successes and glories. She’s got a great team, great ideas and she’s a community leader I would follow anywhere. I’ll remain a member of the board of directors, and I’ll suggest panel ideas from time to time and I’ll apply to be on programming and see if they take me…

(3) MASKED AND UNMASKED IN ABUNDANCE. “Fans Come Roaring Back to New York Comic Con 2022”Publishers Weekly gives its assessment.

New York Comic Con returned to the Javits Center October 6-9 at full strength for 2022. The event drew 200,000 attendees, according to a spokesperson for ReedPop, the show organizer.

The show floor was crammed with enthusiastic fans of media and with cosplayers, who enjoyed elaborate displays from mostly manga and toy companies. However, the show floor was not crammed with mask-wearing attendees. Despite a mandate from ReedPop that masks would be required—and volunteers handing them out at the door—enforcement was lax, with less than 50% of the crowd wearing one at many times. Compliance was similarly mixed among booth workers and creators who set up displays. Although some booth workers were vocal on social media and in-person about their alarm over the lack of Covid masking protocols, many workers behind tables were unmasked most of the time as well.

Whether NYCC will be another super spreader event, like some recent pop culture events, remains to be seen, but it was clear that the general public anxiety over Covid is receding in this new and more complacent era….

(4) A LEARNEDLEAGUE THROWBACK. Courtesy of David Goldfarb.

Question 2 of match day 18 of LearnedLeague season 87, in December of 2020 asked us:

Kindred, the Parable/Earthseed series, and Bloodchild and Other Stories are well-known works of what Hugo and Nebula Award-winning American author, a “godmother of Afrofuturism” who became in 1995 the first science fiction author to be granted a MacArthur fellowship?

The answer of course is Octavia E. Butler. 32% of players got this right league-wide, with the most common wrong answer being Ursula K. LeGuin (perhaps some people confused “Earthseed” with “Earthsea”).

(5) GET IT ON THE CALENDAR. The winner of the 2022 Ursula K. Le Guin Prize for Fiction will be named on October 21 in a virtual event hosted by actor and author Anthony Rapp. There will be readings from the authors of the nine shortlisted books before they reveal the inaugural prize winner.

(6) GENRE SHOPPING. Netflix merch can be bought here: “Vecna comes to the Grove as Netflix debuts pop-up store” in the Los Angeles Times.

A life-sized version of Vecna from the popular sci-fi series “Stranger Things ” and Queen Charlotte’s throne from drama “Bridgerton” are coming to the Grove.

The photo opportunities are part of Netflix’s new store opening Thursday at the L.A. shopping center.

Inside the 10,000-square-foot space, fans will be able to buy merchandise related to popular Netflix shows including the dollhouse from “Gabby’s Dollhouse,” Funko collectible figures from “Squid Game” and “Stranger Things”-related clothing, such as a Hellfire Club raglan shirt or Palace Arcade hoodie.

The store will be open from Thursday until Jan. 6….

(7) TAKE THE CASH AND LET THE CREDIT GO. AbeBooks shared the 15 “Most expensive sales from July to September 2022”. There are many sf and fantasy works among them.

#4 — The Dark Tower by Stephen King – $24,000

No introductions are necessary for Mr King, who released a new novel called Fairy Tale in September. These are the nine volumes of King’s Dark Tower fantasy series published by Donald M. Grant, and they have all been signed by the author and their respective illustrator. The nine volumes are Dark Tower: Gunslinger (published in 1982), The Drawing of the Three (1987), The Wastelands (1991), Wizard and Glass (1997), Wolves of the Calla (2003), Song of Susannah (2004), The Dark Tower (2004), The Little Sisters of Eluria (2008), and The Wind Through the Keyhole (2012). All copies are first editions.

#6 — Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K Dick – $21,275

This is the 1968 US first edition of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep published by Doubleday. First editions of this influential science fiction book, which inspired the Blade Runner movies, are scarce.

This book was sold with an original letter to Venom Magazine typed and signed by Philip K Dick. In the letter, which was also published in The Selected Letters of Philip K. Dick 1980-1982, Dick asks if he can review his own work. The third part of this sale is Dick’s typed humorous review of his own book, The Divine Invasion.

#7 — A Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne – $20,000

An 1874 first American edition of A Journey to the Center of the Earth, published by Scribner Armstrong and Co, with a laid-in author signature. Verne’s novel imagines an underground world inhabited by prehistoric creatures where travel is possible via volcanic tubes.

#9 — Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Seas by Jules Verne – $17,500

An 1873 first edition of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Seas published by James R. Osgood. This underwater adventure story first appeared in serial form in a French periodical in 1871. Verne’s depiction of the Nautilus correctly foresaw the impact that submarines would have on the maritime world, starting in World War I when both Germany and Britain used submarines to sink naval and merchant shipping.

#11 — Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling – $12,500

A 1997 Bloomsbury first edition fourth printing of the first Harry Potter book, signed by J.K. Rowling on the front free endpaper with its original dust jacket. This copy includes a rare Harry Potter postcard signed by the author.

#13 — A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens – $12,000

An 1843 first edition first printing published by Chapman & Hall bound in half maroon morocco letter. A Christmas Carol was published on December 19 in 1843 and became an instant bestseller. A novella, this book helped craft the modern version of Christmas with its focus on family, food, and giving. Scrooge has entered the lexicon for anyone who is tight-fisted. AbeBooks sold another first edition of this book, accompanied by a Dickens letter, earlier in 2022 for $20,000.

(8) ROBBIE COLTRANE (1950-2022). The Scots actor Robbie Coltrane, famed as Hagrid in the Harry Potter movies, who also starred in the British crime drama Cracker, died October 14 at the age of 72. The cause of death was not disclosed. The Hollywood Reporter’s profile includes more genre roles.

…Coltrane’s early TV credits include Flash Gordon, Blackadder and Keep It in the Family. His other comedy credits included series like A Kick Up the Eighties, The Comic Strip and Alfresco as he became a mainstay on British TV screens.

Coltrane’s breakout role was playing Dr. Edward “Fitz” Fitzgerald, an anti-social criminal psychologist with a gift for solving crimes, in Jimmy McGovern’s Cracker series, which ran over 25 episodes between 1993 and 2006.

That BAFTA-winning performance led Coltrane to roles in two James Bond films as he played Valentin Zukovsky in GoldenEye and The World Is Not Enough…. 

(9) MEMORY LANE.

1983 [By Cat Eldridge.] Something Wicked This Way Comes film (1983)

Look, it’s Autumn, isn’t it? Therefore shouldn’t we talk about one of the Autumnal fantasy films that got done? So let’s converse about Something Wicked This Way Comes which came out thirty-nine years ago though I admit not at this time of year as inexplicably the Mouse released it in April.

It was based as you know upon the Ray Bradbury novel that Simon & Schuster published twenty-one years previously with a cover by Gray Fox.  To my utter amazement, it won absolutely no Awards. Pity that. It has however been continuously in print ever since. Yes, I think it’s a spectacular piece of writing perfectly suited to the season. 

Usually I find films based on works I loved somewhat of letdown but not here as Bradbury wrote the script and a decent amount of his script survived the Mouse mangling it. Yes Bradbury and Mouse became the Kilkenny Cats rather quickly. 

It was directed by Jack Clayton whose only previous film I recognize is The Great Gatsby which was a phenomenal movie. He was a British film director and producer who specialized in bringing literary works to the screen such as The Innocents, so Something Wicked This Way Comes wasn’t really in his wheelhouse. 

It had an amazing cast of these adults: Jason Robards, Jonathan Pryce, Diane Ladd and Pam Grier, plus Vidal Peterson and Shawn Carson as the most important characters here, the boys.  

If you haven’t read or seen it, a deep boo on you as I’m not discussing the story. Let’s just say Bradbury did a wonderful job of moving it from text to video even if the Mouse messed with it which they did. Bad Mouse.. 

Bradbury explains in Zen in the Art of Writing that it started as ‘The Black Ferris’ a 3,000-word story, published in Weird Tales (1948), about two youngsters who suspect there is something peculiar about the carnival that comes to town. The story became a seventy-page screen treatment, Dark Carnival (1958), a project for Gene Kelly to direct. Unproduced, the treatment became a novel, Something Wicked This Way Comes (1962); the novel, a screenplay (1971), then a second screenplay (1976), and… at last, a film.

Bradbury wanted either Peter O’Toole and Christopher Lee to play Mr. Dark. Lee I can see, but O’Toole? However, the Mouse went as cheap as possible and cast someone who wasn’t well known, so hence Jonathan Pryce. This was five years before he shows up in The Adventures of Baron Munchausen.

It bombed at the box office earning just eight million against a twenty million budget. Ouch. 

The film was nominated for a Hugo at L.A. Con II where Return of the Jedi won. 

Oddly enough it is not streaming on Disney +. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 14, 1927 Roger Moore. Bond in seven films 1973 to 1985, a long run indeed. And he played Simon Templar in The Saint for most of the Sixties, an amazing one hundred eighteen episodes. Let’s not forget that he was in the Curse of the Pink Panther as Chief Insp. Jacques Clouseau!  He even got to play Sherlock Holmes in Sherlock Holmes in New York. He wasn’t a bad Sherlock either. (Died 2017.)
  • Born October 14, 1946 Katy Manning, 76. She was Jo Grant, companion to the Third Doctor. She also appeared in that role with the Eleventh Doctor on the Sarah Jane Adventures in a two-part story entitled “Death of the Doctor”. She appears as herself in the The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot.
  • Born October 14, 1949 Crispin Burnham, 73. And then there are those who just disappear.  He was the founder, writer and publisher of Dark Messenger Reader / Eldritch Tales from 1975 to 1995 as the publisher Yith Press. He was also a prolific essayist from 1973 to 1995, his final essay being a reflection on the life and career of Robert Bloch. There’s nothing to show him active after 1998 when the final part of his “People of The Monolith” was published in Cthulhu Cultus #13. Then he vanishes without a trace. 
  • Born October 14, 1953 Richard Christian Matheson, 69. Son of the Richard Matheson that you’re thinking of. A very prolific horror writer mostly of short stories, he’s also no slouch at script writing as he’s written for Amazing StoriesMasters of HorrorThe Powers of Matthew StarSplatterTales from the CryptKnight Rider (the original series) and The Incredible Hulk. Wiki claims he wrote for Roger Zelazny’s The Chronicles of Amber but IMDB shows no such series or show. The usual suspects have a goodly number of story collections available for him.
  • Born October 14, 1953 Greg Evigan, 69. TekWar, one of Shatner’s better ideas, starred him as Jake Cardigan. I really liked it. Yes, Shatner was in it. He also shows up in DeepStar Six as Kevin McBride, as Will South in the horror film Spectre aka The House of The Damned, as Marcus Cutter in Cerberus: The Guardian of Hell, and on the Alfred Hitchcock Presents as David Whitmore in “In the Driver’s Seat”. 
  • Born October 14, 1963 Lori Petty, 59. Rebecca Buck – “Tank Girl” in that film. She was also Dr. Lean Carli in Cryptic, and Dr. Sykes in Dead Awake. She had one-offs in The HungerTwilight ZoneStar Trek: Voyager, BrimstoneFreddy’s Nightmares and Alien Nation, and voiced quite well Livewire in the DCU animated shows.
  • Born October 14, 1968 Robert C. Cooper, 54. He was an executive producer of all the Stargate series. He also co-created both Stargate Atlantis and Stargate Universe with Brad Wright. Cooper has written and produced many episodes of Stargate series as well as directed a number of episodes. I’m really impressed. 

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • Drabble has an unexpected definition of a horror movie.
  • Heart of the City shows friends arguing which date in October deserves to be celebrated.

(12) BACKSTORY IS A DISH BEST SERVED COLD. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] More than 3-1/2 decades after the release of Aliens, one badass Latinx is getting their backstory told. “Pvt. Vasquez from ‘Aliens’ gets her own story in new novel” at Axios.

Pvt. Vasquez, the fictional Latina member of the U.S. Colonial Marine Corps in the 1986 hit sci-fi movie “Aliens,” is getting a backstory in a new novel.

The big picture: The November U.S. release of “Aliens: Vasquez” by Violet Castro comes as writers and artists of color increasingly reimagine minor characters of color from popular sci-fi films.

Background: Castro, a Mexican American writer from San Antonio, Texas, who now lives in London, told Axios she pitched the idea for the book a few months ago after thinking about the big influence the character had in such a small role.

  • “It was one of the few depictions that kind of broke the mold of a domestic worker, farm worker, or gangbanger,” Castro said.
  • “I saw her and I was like, wow, look at this brown woman. She has this bandana and she’s unapologetic about who she is.”…

The intrigue: Castro said that, for her book, she reimagined Vasquez as someone linked to the soldaderas — the women who took up arms during the Mexican Revolution….

(13) STRANGE CHOW. [Item by Scott Edelman.] Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken is now selling Stranger Things-themed doughnuts. They have locations in Washington, D.C. and Falls Church, VA.

(14) JEOPARDY! On tonight’s episode of Jeopardy!, the Final Jeopardy category was “Authors.”

Answer: Featuring a statue of a man escaping his grave, his tomb in Amiens contrasts with the title of his 1864 adventure novel.

Wrong questions: Who is Dumas (two contestants) and Who is Lovecraft?

Correct question: Who is Jules Verne?

Andrew Porter, who sent this item, says he remembers the image from a 1920s issue of Amazing Stories.

(15) TRAIL BLAZER. In Science, “Fireball is traced to far edge of Solar System”. “Rocky meteor suggests distant cloud of comets also contains asteroids.”

….Even if the Oort Cloud is just 1% rocky, explaining how these objects got there from the asteroid belt will challenge theorists, says Alan Jackson, a planetary astronomer at Arizona State University, Tempe. He says the finding could lend support to one hypothesis called the Grand Tack, which suggests that just 3 million years after the Solar System’s birth, Jupiter swooped inward toward the Sun, nearly to Earth’s orbit, before moving back out to near to its current position…

(16) THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOLMES. Netflix dropped this new trailer for Enola Holmes 2.

Fresh off the triumph of solving her first case, Enola Holmes (Millie Bobby Brown) follows in the footsteps of her famous brother, Sherlock (Henry Cavill), and opens her own agency — only to find that life as a female detective-for-hire isn’t as easy as it seems. Resigned to accepting the cold realities of adulthood, she is about to close shop when a penniless matchstick girl offers Enola her first official job: to find her missing sister. But this case proves to be far more puzzling than expected, as Enola is thrown into a dangerous new world — from London’s sinister factories and colorful music halls, to the highest echelons of society and 221B Baker Street itself. As the sparks of a deadly conspiracy ignite, Enola must call upon the help of friends — and Sherlock himself — to unravel her mystery. The game, it seems, has found its feet again!

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] “In Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part 2 Pitch Meeting,” Ryan George says the producer thinks they can split the second Deathly Hallows Movie in Half, and split it again, but the producer convinces him that is a very bad idea.  Once again, the writer says, “when the story demands it, Harry Potter gets visions” that move the story forward. And when Harry Potter gets another narrow escape, the producer says, “these are kind of weird movies, aren’t they?”

 [Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Scott Edelman, Derek Künsken, David Goldfarb, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 9/9/22 The Risk of Repeating Scroll Titles is Real

(1) YOU’RE NOT FOOLING ANYONE EXCEPT YOURSELF. Cat Rambo tells SFWA Blog readers to “Stop Multitasking”.

I am here to say: Stop multitasking. Yes, I understand its appeal. Like many writers, I love the idea of multitasking, the notion that one can be doing two things at once, such as driving to work while dictating one’s novel, or answering e-mails while dialed into a Zoom call and listening to a meeting.

How could we not embrace that notion? It holds the promise of getting more done, with a little edge of “easier.” That’s a seductive promise. Particularly if you suffer from a particular and common form of writer’s guilt: the awareness that even when you are working on one piece, you are not working on some other piece of writing. And like many seductive promises, it is a false one. Humans consistently overestimate their ability to multitask, and you are probably not the exception to that. It’s okay. I’m not either.

Multitasking, for the overwhelming majority of people, is not compatible with writing….

… Multitasking may be more obvious than you realize. I was on a podcast recently while my mother was texting me, and while the host was speaking, I took a second to read those and make sure everything was okay. The host stopped and said, “I feel like I lost you there,” and I realized at that moment that yes, my focus and energy had lessened, and that was pretty uncool. Since then, I try to give podcasts and other recordings 100 percent of my attention….

(2) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites listeners to meet Max Gladstone for a Mexican meal in episode 180 of the Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Max Gladstone

I’d like you have lunch with Max Gladstone. Max is perhaps best-known for his Craft Sequence of fantasy novels which began in 2012 with Three Parts Dead, continued in 2013 with Two Serpents Rise, and so far consists of six volumes, which considered as a whole were nominated for a Best Series Hugo Award. His interactive projects include the Choice of the Deathless and Deathless: The City’s Thirst, which both take place in the world of the Craft Sequence. With previous guest of the podcast Amal El-Mohtar, he wrote the internationally bestselling This is How You Lose the Time War, which was published in 2020 and won the Hugo, Nebula, and Ignyte Awards. Gladstone also created the Serial Box series Bookburners, and the interactive television series Wizard School Dropout. His most recent novel, Last Exit, was published in March.

We discussed what a Godzilla movie has to tell us about the way future art will likely deal with the pandemic, our differing ideas over what we mean when we say we’ve written another draft of a story, how we’d be willing to dispense with the art inspired by tragedy if we could only skip the tragedy as well, the differences between his early and final drafts of Last Exit, how to make us care equally when writing from multiple points of view (and how doing so could cause the reader to trust the writer even more), what it is about science fiction that attracts dystopias, how our dreams have changed due to COVID-19, what we get wrong when we write about civilizations lasting thousands of years, and much more.

(3) REAL NUMBER$. Dorothy Grant shares a lot of publishing industry sales data while countering the recent “most books only sell 12 copies” meme in “Lies, Damn lies, and Statistics” at Mad Genius Club.

… Now data is a funny thing. It can be sliced and diced to create different types of views. For instance we could run the same analysis on ALL of those 487K new books published in the last 52 weeks, which includes many small press and independetly published titles, and we would find that about 98% of them sold less that 5,000 copies in the “trade bookstore market” that NPD BookScan covers. (I know this IS a true statistic because that data was produced by us for The New York Times.)

But that data does not include direct sales from publishers. It does not include sales by authors at events, or through their websites. It does not include eBook sales which we track in a separate tool, and it doesn’t include any of the amazing reading going on through platforms like Substack, Wattpad, Webtoons, Kindle Direct, or library lending platforms like OverDrive or Hoopla.

BUT, it does represent the general reality of the ECONOMICS of the publishing market. In general, most of the revenue that keeps publishers in business comes from the very narrow band of publishing successes in the top 8-10% of new books, along with the 70% of overall sales that come from BACKLIST books in the current market….

(4) INTERNET ARCHIVE AND CDL. “Publishers, Internet Archive Trade Reply Briefs in Book Scanning Case” and Publishers Weekly offers analysis.

In a reply filing last week, four major publishers further detailed their claims that the Internet Archive’s long-running program to scan and lend physical library books based is blatant copyright infringement that “ignores established law and undisputed facts.” And in a reply filing of their own, lawyers for the Internet Archive further insisted that the publishers are improperly conflating the market for licensed e-book lending with the IA’s efforts to facilitate traditional library lending.

The briefs come after the parties filed dueling motions for summary judgment on July 7, and more than two years after the publishers (Hachette, HarperCollins, Wiley, and Penguin Random House, organized by the Association of American Publishers) first filed its copyright infringement lawsuit in the Southern District of New York, alleging that the Internet Archive’s controversial program to scan and lend books under an untested legal theory known as “controlled digital lending” is a massive piracy operation “masquerading as a not-for-profit library.”

In their 41-page reply to the IA’s motion for summary judgment, filed on September 2, lawyers for the publishers attack the Internet Archive’s claims that its scanning and lending of physical library books is merely an extension of traditional library lending, contending that that argument ignores clearly established law—most recently a high profile decision in Capitol Records vs. ReDigi, in which the federal courts forcefully rejected an upstart program to expand the doctrine of first sale (also known as exhaustion) to create a resale market for digital music files.

“IA argues that CDL ‘is fundamentally the same as traditional library lending’ and should be treated as a fair use since it ‘furthers the ends of copyright’s exhaustion doctrine,’” the publisher’s brief states. “This position is a study in blind denial that ignores established law and undisputed facts. Perhaps most astonishing, IA essentially disregards ReDigi, in which the Second Circuit held that (1) unauthorized reproduction is ‘not protected by [First Sale]’”; (2) the fair use doctrine cannot be used to expand the statutory scope of [first sale]; and (3) ReDigi’s actions were unlawful even though it used technology to avoid increasing the number of music files in circulation, a practice akin to CDL’s central principle.”

Under CDL, the Internet Archive and other libraries make and lend out digital scans of physical books in their collection under rules that mimic traditional lending: only one person can borrow a scanned copy at a time; the scans are DRM-protected; and the corresponding print book the scan is derived from is taken out of circulation while the scan is on loan to maintain a one-to-one “own-to-loan” basis.

But not only is CDL a fatally flawed, invented legal theory, the publishers argue, the IA doesn’t even follow the rules of CDL…

(5) AFTER ACTION REPORTS. Dave Hook takes us inside a couple of panels he participated in at the Worldcon.

Epistolary fiction has a long tradition in speculative fiction, starting with “Gulliver’s Travels” (1726) and “Frankenstein” (1818, originally published anonymously!) among others. As was noted on the panel description, some think it is undergoing a resurgence. One aspect of this is clearly the new modes of communication which were envisioned in some ways and which are now actual, such as email, text messages, twitter, etc. We could have equally argued that epistolary fiction never went away.

…The other factor which I observed for the 1944 and 1945 Retro Hugo nomination and voting was a substantial amount of voting based solely on the name of the author and not on the specific work on the ballot. Especially when I looked at the nominations in some categories, the only response I could offer was something like “WTF? I don’t believe they read this.” The 1944 and 1945 Retro Hugo Awards avoided major debacles in the works receiving awards, in my humble opinion, but this aspect of it was not confidence building. I get that we’ll always have some “Wow. I love that author, so I’m voting for them regardless of what they wrote here.”, but this is much more of an issue for the Retro Hugos….

(6) MEMORY LANE.  

1966 [By Cat Eldridge.] The Time Tunnel. Ahhh, Irwin Allen. A man responsible for a number of interesting genre undertakings, this being one of them. Fifty-six years ago, the same year that Star Trek premiered, The Time Tunnel series launched on ABC.

It was the third of Allen’s genre series, having earlier done Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea and Lost in Space. His last one would be Land of the Giants.

It starred James Darren, Robert Colbert, Whit Bissell, John Zaremba and Lee Meriwether. I’m convinced that every one of these genre series has to have a beautiful female on them.

It lasted one season of thirty episodes.

Please don’t ask how it stands up nearly sixty years on. Really don’t. I’m a Seven Days devotee.

Like of so many series including Star Trek, it was filmed in and around Southern California so scenes set elsewhere had that hilly landscape desert scrubby look where filming obviously occurred. Didn’t Galaxy Quest deliberately parody this look in several scenes?

The series was dropped because of network politics, as it was doing well in the ratings, in favor of The Legend of Custer. That series bombed in the ratings and only lasted seventeen episodes. 

Time Tunnel is apparently not streaming anywhere, however, episodes can be rented for viewing on Amazon Prime

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 9, 1922 Pauline Baynes. She was the first illustrator of some of J. R. R. Tolkien’s lesser known works such as Farmer Giles of Ham and Smith of Wootton Major and of C. S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia. With the help of cartographers from the Bordon military camp in Hampshire, Baynes created a map that Allen & Unwin published as a poster in 1970. Tolkien was generally pleased with it, though he didn’t particularly like her creatures, especially her spider. (Let the disagreements begin…) (Died 2008.)
  • Born September 9, 1929 Joseph Wrzos, 93. He edited Amazing Stories and Fantastic under the name Joseph Ross from August 1965 through early 1967. He was responsible for their move to mostly reprints and a bimonthly schedule while the publisher refused to pay authors for the reprints saying he held the rights to them without needing pay additional renumeration and leading to severe conflict with SFWA. With Hannes Bok, he edited in 2012, Hannes Bok: A Life in Illustration.
  • Born September 9, 1952 Angela Cartwright, 70. Fondly remembered as Penny Robinson on the original Lost in Space. She, like several of her fellow cast members, made an appearance in the Lost in Space film. She appeared in the Logan’s Run series in “The Collectors” episode as Karen, and in Airwolf as Mrs. Cranovich in the “Eruption” episode. 
  • Born September 9, 1954 Jeffrey Combs, 68. No doubt his best known genre role was as Weyoun, a Vorta, on Deep Space Nine. However, his genre portfolio is really, really long. it starts with Frightmare, a horror film in the early Eighties and encompasses some forty films, twenty-six series and ten genre games. He’s appeared on Babylon 5, plus three Trek series, Voyager and Enterprise being the other two, the Enterprise appearance being the only time an actor played two distinct roles in the same episode.  He’s played H.P. Lovecraft and Herbert West, a character by that author. Each multiple times. 
  • Born September 9, 1954 Graham Joyce. Let’s talk about him. The Tooth Fairy which won a British Fantasy Award is one damn scary novel as is Some Kind of Fairy Tale which garnered the Robert Holdstock Award for Best Fantasy Novel. I’m sure the latter kept me up several nights. His short stories are quite delicious which is why I’m recommending his 25 Years in the Word Mines: The Best Short Fiction of Graham Joyce. He stopped genre fiction writing well before his death. (Died 2014.)
  • Born September 9, 1953 Janet Fielding, 69. Tegan Jovanka, companion to the Fifth Doctor. The actress had a rather short performing career starting with the Hammer House of Horror series in 1980 where she was Secretary Mandy on the “Charlie Boy” episode” before landing the the Doctor Who gig through 1984 before her career ending in the early Nineties. She was part of the 2013 50th Anniversary The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot.
  • Born September 9, 1960 Hugh Grant, 62. He appeared in The Lair of the White Worm as Lord James D’Ampton and in the remake of The Man from U.N.C.L.E as Mr. Waverly. (I have not seen it. So how is it?) And he was the Handsome Doctor in Doctor Who: The Curse of Fatal Death, the 1999 Doctor Who special made for the Red Nose Day charity telethon. I know I’m missing some important genre wise about him, but what is it? 
  • Born September 9, 1971 Henry Thomas, 51. Elliot in E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. Let’s just say that he’s had a busy if mostly undistinguished post-E.T. acting career, though I will single him out for his rather good work in Nightmares & Dreamscapes: From the Stories of Stephen King and The Haunting of Hill House series. He’s playing Doctor Mid-Nite in the Stargirl series on the DCU streaming service. 

(8) COMICS SECTION.

  • Eek! has a crude but effective award joke.

(9) D23 SPIDER-MAN HIGHLIGHT. Marvel celebrates Spider-Man’s 60th anniversary at D23 Expo 2022 with a very special comic giveaway.  Two variants for Amazing Fantasy #1000 will be given to attendees of the “Marvel Comics: Celebrating 60 Years of the Amazing Spider-Man panel.” 

(10) SUBSCRIPTION CANCELED. “Amazon Cancels ‘Paper Girls’ After One Season” says The Hollywood Reporter.

Amazon’s Prime Video streaming service has canceled the series, based on a comic by Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chiang, after a single season. The decision comes six weeks after the eight-episode season debuted in its entirety.

The show received positive reviews from critics and solid audience scores on review aggregators, but it did not break out with viewers, based on what little data is available. Paper Girls didn’t make Nielsen’s top 10 original streaming rankings for any of the three weeks after its July 29 premiere….

(11) LAST WILL AND TESTAMENTS. However, Handmaid’s Tale will have a sixth season to wind up, and a spinoff. “The Handmaid’s Tale renewed for sixth and final season”.

Since premiering in 2017, The Handmaid’s Tale has received critical praise for its portrayal of Margarett Atwood’s dystopian novel, earning multiple Emmy Awards throughout its run. Now, Elisabeth Moss’ journey as June looks to have an end date. Ahead of the Hulu Original’s fifth season return on September 14, the show has been renewed for a sixth season, which will also be its last.

While this determines the end for the once-never-ending, dark narrative that we’ve gone on with June and other characters throughout the series, there are already spin-offs in the mix. Under the tutelage of The Handmaid’s Tale creator, showrunner, and executive producer Bruce Miller will come the sequel series The Testaments, based on Atwood’s 2019 sequel novel. Set 15 years after the events of The Handmaid’s Tale, the book is narrated by three women, including the villainous Aunt Lydia (played by Ann Dowd in the Hulu series).

(12) A LAST MISSION. “Another Star Trek Legend Honored With A Final Space Voyage” and MSN.com has the story.

Last month we learned that a portion of the ashes of Nichelle Nichols–who passed away at the end of July–would be joining the DNA of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, Roddenberry’s wife as well as a Trek alum of multiple projects Majel Barrett, actor James Doohan, and visual effects master Douglas Trumbull on United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan Centaur mission. Today we learned another name has been added to those whose remains will soon start a fitting journey into deep space. The DNA of Star Trek: The Original Series star DeForest Kelley–who played Doctor Leonard “Bones” McCoy on the show and in many subsequent projects such as the first six Trek films–will be joining those of his late colleagues.

(13) WHEN COUSINS AREN’T TWO OF A KIND. “Gene-Edited Organoids Explore Neanderthal Brain Function” at The Scientist Magazine.

A gene called NOVA1, which plays a role in regulating the formation of synapses between neurons, could hold the key to understanding how we differ from our Neanderthal cousins. Researchers created human brain organoids with a Neanderthal and Denisovan variant of the gene, resulting in neurons that matured faster than neurons with a modern sequence did, developing synapses that fired at a higher rate, according to a study published yesterday (February 11) in Science.

“This is amongst the first studies of its kind to investigate how specific changes in the DNA of modern humans influences brain development,” Duke University’s Debra Silver, a developmental neurobiologist who did not participate in the research, tells Science

“It’s an extraordinary paper with some extraordinary claims,” developmental biologist Gray Camp of the University of Basel in Switzerland notes to Nature. Camp was also not involved in the current study but reported with colleagues last year an analysis of Neanderthal gene variants, which modern humans still carry, in human stem cell–derived brain organoids.

In human pluripotent stem cells, University of California, San Diego, neuroscientist Alysson Muotri and his colleagues used the CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing system to change a single base pair in NOVA1, effectively converting the modern gene into an archaic version. The researchers then grew the cells in culture conditions to induce the growth of brain-like organoids up to 5 millimeters in diameter. Comparing them with organoids containing all modern DNA, Muotri tells Nature, the difference was obvious, with the CRISPR’d organoids being smaller with convoluted, rather than smooth, surfaces. “As soon as we saw the shape of the organoids, we knew that we were on to something.”

Muotri and his colleagues chose NOVA1 because they found that it is one of just 61 genes with modern sequences not found in the Neanderthal genome—nor in the genome of Denisovans, another archaic group of hominins—and because it has a prominent regulatory role in neurodevelopment. Dysfunction in the gene and its associated pathways has been linked with neurological conditions such as schizophrenia and autism.

In addition to the structural differences in the organoids, the team found that the archaic gene induced significant changes in the expression of 277 genes, including those involved in neurodevelopment. These differences translated into varying levels of synapse proteins and, ultimately, differences in firing patterns. In addition to firing more quickly, the neurons with the archaic variant of NOVA1 had less-orderly patterns of action potentials….

(14) A VERY EXOPLANET. Good old James couldn’t be expected to waste any time discovering boring ordinary planets! “James Webb Telescope Discovers Strange Alien Planet” at MSN.com.

… The alien planet known as VHS 1256 b is what is referred to as a “brown dwarf.” This is given to planets that are not big enough to ignite into the stars but are far too big to be considered a normal planet. In fact, this planet happens to be 20 times the size of Jupiter. Brown dwarfs don’t burn hydrogen like most other planets, but they do produce their own light and heat by burning deuterium. Astronomers believed that the reddish glow of the planet was because of the atmosphere, which has now been determined to be wild and turbulent, as various gases change on the planet. Astronomers have discovered water, methane, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, sodium, and potassium all on the planet’s atmosphere….

(15) MEANWHILE, IN ORBIT AROUND RED DWARFS. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Today’s Science journal reports, “Precise densities of red dwarf exoplanets help distinguish potential ‘water worlds’:  “Three types of planets orbit red dwarfs”.

Small planets orbiting faint red stars less than half the size of the Sun are numerous and could be the best places to search for signatures of life…

Luque and Pallé  present refined compositions of small planets orbiting around red dwarf stars. They find evidence that the planets fall into three main types: rocky, watery (including icy), and gassy. This result differs from most previous studies of small planets that have suggested only rocky and gassy types. Although the presence of watery small exoplanets is particularly enticing, all three types of planets around red dwarfs could present potentially habitable conditions for life.

Primary research paper here: “Density, not radius, separates rocky and water-rich small planets orbiting M dwarf stars”.

(16) BLACK ADAM. DC dropped this trailer for Black Adam. Only in theaters October 21.

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

Pixel Scroll 7/15/22 The Pixels Come From The Scrollwork Out

(1) VILLAINS DOING WORK. Max Gladstone on “The Villain, Considered as Safety Tool” in “Guard Rails Around the Bottomless Pit”.

…To ask what makes a good villain, we should first ask what a villain does, so that we can understand what it means to be good at it. To call, say, Darth Vader or Keyser Soze or Sauron a ‘good villain’ is not to make any claims about their absolute moral character. It’s a statement about how good they are at doing the thing they’re in the story to do….

(2) GO PHISH. The Guardian explains why “Alleged book thief Filippo Bernardini may avoid trial in the US”.

Filippo Bernardini, an Italian citizen who worked at UK publisher Simon & Schuster, was arrested in the US in January, with the FBI alleging he had “impersonated, defrauded, and attempted to defraud, hundreds of individuals” to obtain unpublished and draft works. The indictment said Bernardini had registered more than 160 fake internet domains to impersonate others since 2016.

Bernardini, who was charged with wire fraud and aggravated identity theft, was due in court in early July. In June, however, the judge in his case, US district court judge Colleen McMahon, agreed to postpone the appearance so prosecutors could consider a deferred prosecution request, according to Publishers Marketplace.

A deferred prosecution agreement is usually used in fraud or financial crime cases. It consists of a deal where prosecution is conditionally suspended while the defendant fulfils the requirements of the agreement in a set period of time. It is supervised by a judge, and could consist of Bernardini having to pay fines or compensation, or enacting other measures. The judge adjourned the case until 10 September.

Bernardini had previously pleaded not guilty to both charges, reported the Bookseller.

Hundreds of manuscripts were stolen over a period of five years, with authors, agents, editors, scouts and even judges for the Booker prize among the victims of phishing scams. Manuscripts of highly anticipated novels by Margaret Atwood, Sally Rooney and actor Ethan Hawke were among those targeted….

(3) GAILEY HEARD FROM. The Fire the Canon podcast is “Talking to Author Sarah Gailey About Horror, Compulsory Girl Bossing, and Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery”.

Sarah Gailey, author of the upcoming book Just Like Home, joins us to talk about one of the most famous American short stories of all time: Shirley Jackson’s 1948 classic, The Lottery. Jackie reveals her long, sordid history with technology. Rachel reads a book review from an alternate reality. Theo discusses an affordable delicacy. Topics include: old houses, cottagecore, rollerblading accidents, park raters, trusting your editor, killing off Chuck, mom texts, Muppet Treasure Island, cicada pizza, and cricket flour.

(4) FILETING THE MINIONS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times behind a paywall, John Gapper explains the success of the Minions franchise.

“There are said to be 48 variations of Minion, depending on their height and build, style of hair, and whether they possess one or two eyes, but they are essentially one big gang.  Although te plots require individuals to emerge from the pack–notably Kevin, Stuart and Bob i 2015’s MINIONS–there is power in their union.

They are also cheerful, Chris Melandri, series producer at Illumination studios, defines its purpose as ‘to make you feel good in a world where so many things don’t. The theme song of Despicable Me 2 was Pharrell Williams’s ‘Happy’: that’s the Minions’ selling point.”

(5) UNSTUCK LANDINGS. Only 10? I’d say this is a subject where the pickings are easy! “10 Great Sci-Fi Series With Terrible Endings” at CBR.com.

Series finales can either make or break a show. The science fiction genre, in particular, often weaves a tale of intrigue leading up to its finale episode. Because of this, an unsatisfying ending can make audiences feel as though the entire series has been ruined.

First on the list —

10 – Quantum Leap Audiences Wanted A Happier Ending

When the popular series Quantum Leap ended its run in 1993, audiences were accustomed to a more traditional happy ending. So, when the series ended with the main character, Sam, sacrificing his happy ending and leaping back to help a friend, only to never return, it wasn’t well-received.

A more modern audience might have been more accepting of the show’s sad end, but in 1993, it was too dark. It left audiences feeling as if they had followed the series for five seasons, only to be let down.

(6) MEMORY LANE.  

2007 [By Cat Eldridge.] Doctor Who’s “The Shakespeare Code”. My favorite Doctor by far of the modern Doctors was the one played by David Tennant. And I believe that he got some of the best stories as well. Originally titled “Love’s Labour’s Won”, the re-titling apparently is a reference to The Da Vinci Code. Or least the Wiki page for this thinks so. 

This was the beginning of the period in the series when Freema Agyeman  played companion Martha Jones. Need I say that she was my favorite of the modern companions?  Actually of all companions. 

SPOILERS HERE!

The story here is he takes Jones to 1599 arriving near the Globe Theatre where they meet Shakespeare. Shakespeare is being bewitched by three Carrionites who look like Witches to rewrite the ending to his play “Love’s Labour’s Won” so that the performance will create a code to free the rest of the Carrionite race from imprisonment. 

Jones will, as she does in her time in the TARDIS very often, save the day. How she does is something that I won’t spoil here as it’s a, ahem, meta moment that proves the universe of Doctor Who is our universe. A fascinating meta moment at that.

Martha even suggests that stepping on a butterfly might change the future of the human race, an idea that originates in Bradbury’s “A Sound of Thunder” story.  

SPOILERS END HERE! 

Jones in her introduction here as a full-time companion is written well and more than holds her own against the Tenth Doctor. They have, and interviews later by both of them, individually and collectively, that they enjoyed working together. Even early on, he said of her that she “inhabited Martha Jones from day one without a hint of trepidation or nervousness. I found myself quite envious of her confidence. She is going to be brilliant.”

Most British critics liked it, but then they liked Tennant’s Doctor more than any other Doctor, and I’ll quote just one here, Scott Matthewman from The Stage: “It’s somehow appropriate that it’s David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor who becomes the first to meet William Shakespeare (at least on screen). More than any other, this incarnation of Doctor Who revels in wordplay, and in Gareth Roberts’ rollocking script he certainly meets his match.”

It’s one of my favorite episodes as it shows Shakespeare in a favorable light and the word play between him and the Doctor is quite delicious. Not to mention the introduction of Jones as a companion here handled quite well. 

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 15, 1918 Dennis Feltham Jones. His first novel Colossus was made into Colossus: The Forbin Project. He went on to write two more novels in the series, The Fall of Colossus and Colossus and the Crab, which in my opinion became increasingly weird. The usual suspects have the Colossus  trilogy plus a smattering of his other works available. (Died 1981.)
  • Born July 15, 1931 Clive Cussler. Pulp author with definite genre leanings. If I had to pick his best novels, I’d say that would be Night Probe and Raise the Titantic, possibly also Vixen 03. His real-life National Underwater and Marine Agency, a private maritime archaeological group, has found several important wrecks including the Manassas, the first ironclad of the civil war. Warning: do not watch the films based on his novels as they are truly wretched. (Died 2020.)
  • Born July 15, 1944 Jan-Michael Vincent. First Lieutenant Jake Tanner in the film version of Roger Zelazny’s Damnation Alley which consensus here is that I’ve been wise in not seeing. Commander in Alienator and Dr. Ron Shepherd in, and yes this is the name, Xtro II: The Second Encounter. Not to mention Zepp in Jurassic Women. (Please don’t ask.) As Airwolf counts as genre, he was helicopter pilot and aviator Stringfellow Hawke in it. (Died 2019.)
  • Born July 15, 1947 T. E. D. Klein, 75. Horror writer with two awards to his name, one a British Fantasy Award for The Ceremonies novel, another a World Fantasy Award for his “Nadelman’s God” novella. He was editor of the Twilight Zone Magazine in the mid Eighties and the Night Cry zine for several around that time.
  • Born July 15, 1961 Forest Whitaker, 61. His best known genre roles are Rogue One: A Star Wars Story as Saw Gerrera and in The Black Panther as Zuri. He’s had other genre appearances including Major Collins in Body Snatchers, Nate Pope in Phenomenon, Ira in Where the Wild Things Are, Jake Freivald In Repo Men (anyone see this?) and he was, and to I’ve somehow managed not to see any of it, Host of Twilight Zone.
  • Born July 15, 1963 Brigitte Nielsen, 59. Red Sonja! What a way to launch your film career. Her next genre roles were 976-Evil II and Galaxis… Oh well… She starred as the Black Witch in the Nineties Italian film series Fantaghiro, and played the Amazon Queen in the Danish Ronal the Barbarian
  • Born July 15, 1967 Christopher Golden, 55. Where to start? The Veil trilogy was most excellent as was The Hidden Cities series co-authored with Tim Lebbon. The Menagerie series co-authored with Thomas E. Sniegoski annoyed me because it never got concluded. Straight On ‘Til Morning is one damn scary novel. His short stories are most excellent thus it’s most fitting his recent The Twisted Book of Shadows collection won a Shirley Jackson Award. 

(8) SUPERHERO GIRLFRIENDS ANONYMOUS. Ravynn K. Stringfield tells Catapult readers how “Black Women in Fantasy Saved Me Where Academia Failed”.

…I flipped through a few dozen issues of Marvel’s Jungle Action  comics featuring Black Panther, as well as several  Captain America and Fantastic Four titles at the comics archive at Virginia Commonwealth University. I read the issues as I scanned them and took quick notes on storylines and the fan letters readers sent in when I walked back to my table to grab another from the box.

The more I read, the more the lack of Black women and girls present in meaningful ways on the page bothered me. Though I had committed to a project on Black Panther as the focal point, searching for racial diversity in comics, the distinct lack of women characters triggered an alarm in my brain. So when I stumbled across a few issues that featured a new-to-me character, T’Challa’s Black American girlfriend, Monica Lynne, I kept her close to my periphery as I worked. At that moment, I could not commit to a project or a paper on her, but she distracted me.

Even as a side character, Monica demanded attention. Her speech often reflected 1970s Black American vernacular, and she wore her hair in a neat Afro, both of which gave Wakandans pause. Monica did not always like it in Wakanda, feeling ill at ease in the palace, where she was meant to be invisible, a background fixture while everything about her defied that.

There was something about Monica that refused to be relegated to the background, a quality I envied. I saw myself folding into someone smaller in graduate school. I increasingly lacked the energy to continually insist upon the validity of how I, and others like me, experienced, thought about, and wrote about the world. Though often depicted as out of place in Wakanda because of her speech and dress, Monica’s inability to blend was a lesson in stepping confidently into the world and changing for no one.

(9) HOW NOPE GOT A YEP. “Jordan Peele on why ‘Nope’ felt impossible 5 years ago” at SYFY Wire.

…Now, as he prepares to release his third film as director, Nope, Peele has realized that the movie he just made may have been impossible back in the days of Get Out. At least, it felt that way at the time.

“I think this idea of letting a Black director put his vision into a film and commit to it… let’s put it this way, five years ago, I didn’t think they’d ever let me do that,” Peele told TODAY in a new interview. “So much of my career before I became a director was marred with this internalized sense that I could never be allowed to do that, that no one would ever trust me with money — enough money to do my vision the way they’d trust other people. I felt that that was true.”…

(10) WHAT’S SAUCER FOR THE GOOSE. BBC Culture is inspired by the Nope trailer to recall “The UFO sightings that swept the US”.

It’s only there for a moment in the trailer for Jordan Peele’s new horror film, Nope, but it’s definitely there: a flying saucer. Judging by the twists and turns in Peele’s previous films, Get Out and Us, it’s impossible to say whether its real or fake, whether it’s from the Earth or from outer space, but that glimpse of sparkling silver is tantalising. Maybe, just maybe, Nope will be a proper flying-saucer movie – a celebration of one of the most recognisable and spine-tingling shapes in the history of popular culture.

“By the end of the 1950s,” says Andrew Shail, senior lecturer in film at Newcastle University, “that particular shape had become a shorthand for ‘spacecraft piloted by beings from another world’, available to everyone working in the visual arts.” Sure enough, flying saucers have signified mysterious visitors from Mars and beyond in countless films, TV series, novels, comics, and even hit records, from Mulder’s I Want To Believe poster in The X-Files TV series to the popular children’s picture book, Aliens Love Underpants. The flying saucer is a design classic – the archetypal Unidentified Flying Object. And yet it didn’t take off, so to speak, until the 1950s, when the world went flying-saucer crazy….

(11) A DIFFERENT PRINCESS DIARY. BBC Culture calls “Princess Mononoke: The masterpiece that flummoxed the US” – “Twenty-five years old this week, the film is Japanese animation master Hayao Miyazaki’s most complex work. But how it was mishandled in the West speaks of fundamental artistic differences, writes Stephen Kelly.”

In 1997, the British fantasy author Neil Gaiman received a call out of the blue from then-head of Miramax, Harvey Weinstein. “This animated film, Princess Mononoke,” Gaiman recalls him saying, “it’s the biggest thing in Japan right now. So I thought I’ve got to get the best to do it. I called Quentin Tarantino and said, ‘Quentin, will you do the English language script?’ And he said, you don’t want me, you want Gaiman. So, I’m calling you.” Miramax, a then-subsidiary of Disney, had acquired the rights to distribute Princess Mononoke, the newest film from Japanese animation studio Studio Ghibli, in the United States, and Weinstein wanted to fly Gaiman to Los Angeles to watch a cut of the movie….

(12) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Thor: Love And Thunder Pitch Meeting,” Ryan George, in a spoiler-packed episode, has the writer tell the producer, “Thor’s back–and he’s dumber than ever!”  Jane Foster may have Stage 4 cancer, but the writer says, “don’t worry–it will be hilarious all of the time!” adding that “we’re redlining the JPM”–that’s jokes per minute.  For example, in New Asgard  there’s Infinitz Conez, named after Thanos’s infinity gauntlet.  When the producer asks why someone would name an ice cream store after a device Thanos used to kill billions of people, the writer says, “Who doesn’t like ice cream?”

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

AudioFile Magazine’s Best Sci-Fi & Fantasy Audiobooks of 2022—So Far!

Audiofile Magazine calls these the nine best sff audiobooks to appear in the first half of 2022.

SIREN QUEEN

  • by Nghi Vo| Read by Natalie Naudus
  • [Macmillan Audio | 8.75 hrs.]

Natalie Naudus’s skilled narration adds to the luminous and otherworldly qualities of Vo’s historical fantasy. Luli Wei is determined to be a star. But in her world, that means making dangerous pacts, trading away years of her life, and fending off literal monsters. Naudus moves from character to character with ease, enlivening the ambitious and bold Luli, the captivating women she falls for, and the roaring executives who are looking to own Luli’s soul. Naudus conveys all of Luli’s passion as she delivers her lines for her starring role as the monstrous Siren Queen. A surreal and spellbinding story of a Golden Age Hollywood that is steeped in ancient magic. 

THE MEMORY LIBRARIAN: And Other Stories of Dirty Computer

  • by Janelle Monáe| Read by Janelle Monáe, Bahni Turpin
  • [Harper Audio | 12.25 hrs.]

Musician and actor Janelle Monáe adds author and narrator to her considerable list of accomplishments with this story collection based on themes from her 2018 album DIRTY COMPUTER. The totalitarian entity New Dawn seeks to strip away all perceived deviance from humanity. Monáe’s narration of the eponymous first story is softly menacing as she introduces listeners to Seshet, a bureaucratic memory thief who longs for love and connection. Bahni Turpin narrates the rest of the stories in her engaging voice, using crisp and flexible tones to portray characters at odds with Seshet’s mission. Together, they create a memorable experience for listeners seeking classic science-fiction themes with new horizons. 

FEVERED STAR

  • by Rebecca Roanhorse| Read by Christian Barillas, Darrell Dennis, Cara Gee, Nicole Lewis, Shaun Taylor-Corbett
  • [Simon & Schuster Audio | 12.75 hrs.]

Five talented narrators continue an epic fantasy story of political upheaval, magic, and destiny in the Meridian. Serapio, portrayed with intensity and vulnerability by Shaun Taylor-Corbett, is struggling to maintain his humanity after becoming the living avatar of the Crow God. Cara Gee voices priestess Naranpa with wonder as she discovers she has been reborn as the Sun God, the Crow God’s bitter enemy. Each narrator propels the story forward in turn, expertly conveying the tangled fears and ambitions of its many characters. Listeners will be eager for the third part of this tense series inspired by pre-Columbian societies. 

THE MEASURE

  • by Nikki Erlick| Read by Julia Whelan
  • AudioFile Earphones Award
  • [Harper Audio | 11 hrs.]

Golden Voice narrator Julia Whelan gives a thoughtful performance of a novel focused on a fundamental question: Would you want to know how long you’re going to live? One night everyone 22 years and older receives a box containing a length of string that tells them how much longer they will live. Would you open the box? Whelan introduces listeners to characters who have a range of reactions to that question. She provides a sense of intimacy to their stories as she calmly explores the dramatic ways the world changes for each one. Whelan shares the intensity of their emotions and the camaraderie that develops, especially among the “short stringers” who are soon to die.

THE CANDY HOUSE

  • by Jennifer Egan| Read by Michael Boatman, Nicole Lewis, Thomas Sadoski, Colin Donnell, Griffin Newman, Rebecca Lowman, Jackie Sanders, Lucy Liu, Christian Barillas, Tara Lynne Barr, Alex Allwine, Emily Tremaine, Kyle Beltran, Dan Bittner, Chris Henry Coffey, and a Full Cast
  • AudioFile Earphones Award
  • [Simon & Schuster Audio | 11.25 hrs.]

The ensemble performance of this novel is exceptional. Michael Boatman narrates the opening chapter at the right pace with the right intonation. He captures the interior life of the enigmatic Bix Boughton, a social media genius who invents the world-altering technology “Own Your Unconscious.” Alex Allwine delivers a haunting automaton-like second-person narration of the chapter titled “Lulu the Spy, 2032”; Tyra Lynne Barr emulates the chirpy sound of 13-year-old Molly in “The Perimeter After-Molly”; and Dan Bittner supplies sharply insightful tone as Ames, whose life story ends this imaginative tour de force. While Egan reprises some of the characters from her award-winning A VISIT FROM THE GOON SQUAD, this novel has a wider timeframe, a greater trajectory, and a more complex plot. 

THE CARTOGRAPHERS

  • by Peng Shepherd| Read by Emily Woo Zeller, Nancy Wu, Karen Chilton, Ron Butler, Neil Hellegers, Jason Culp, Brittany Pressley
  • AudioFile Earphones Award
  • [Harper Audio | 14.25 hrs.]

A superb ensemble of narrators animates this exciting tale of friendships and betrayals, a cartographers’ cabal, maps, murder, and missing towns. Among her father’s effects, cartographer Nell discovers what appears to be a worthless 1930s highway map. However, this map hides dark secrets as well as a “phantom settlement” known only to “the Cartographers.” Possessing it puts Nell in great danger. Nell’s third-person point of view comes alive with narrator Emily Woo Zeller’s artistry, while the other narrators’ perceptive interpretations create fascinating, believable secondary characters. Outstanding performances highlight Peng Shepherd’s thrilling magical literary mystery.

NETTLE & BONE

  • by T. Kingfisher| Read by Amara Jasper
  • [Macmillan Audio | 8.5 hrs.]

Narrator Amara Jasper faithfully delivers Kingfisher’s audiobook filled with fairy-tale magic. Princess Marra’s oldest sister dies under mysterious circumstances only months after her marriage. Her second sister marries the same prince, but when his abuse comes to light, Princess Marra embarks on a perilous quest to save her with a gravewitch, her fairy godmother, an exiled knight, a dog made of bones, and a demon-possessed chicken. Jasper’s unhurried pace and impassive tone perfectly complement the story’s dry humor. Her skill and commitment to creating diverse voices offer listeners distinct and emotionally connected characters—and bird caws. Jasper easily immerses listeners in the story and keeps them hooked to the end. 

LAST EXIT

  • by Max Gladstone| Read by Natalie Naudus
  • [Recorded Books | 21 hrs.]

Natalie Naudus’s immersive delivery immediately draws listeners into Gladstone’s kaleidoscopic adventure. Estranged in the wake of their last failed mission, a group of friends with deep wounds and unusual powers must reunite to defeat forces that are threatening to tear apart all realities. Naudus readily dives into a sprawling, harrowing narrative of perilous battles, ominous voices in the dark, gut-wrenching flashbacks, and defiant feats of magic and science. Characterizations range from courageous and clever to horrifying and unhinged. Underpinning the friends’ expedition is a powerful, complex love story, deftly explored by Gladstone and beautifully rendered by Naudus. 

SEA OF TRANQUILITY

  • by Emily St. John Mandel| Read by John Lee, Dylan Moore, Arthur Morey, Kirsten Potter
  • [Random House Audio | 5.75 hrs.]

The four narrators of Mandel’s newest novel create a mesmerizing listening experience full of time shifts. Kirsten Potter shines as an author on a book tour at the beginning of a 2200s pandemic; her increasingly worried observations hit close to home. Dylan Moore brings a perfect mix of malaise and inertia as a young woman living in 2020 New York. John Lee effortlessly transports listeners to British Columbia in 1918. Arthur Morey’s beautiful, throaty narration of a man from the moon colonies whose life is changed forever by a mysterious government job is haunting and familiar. These interlocking storylines offer a poignant and surprising exploration of love, art, and the beauty of everyday life.


“Best Sci-Fi & Fantasy Audiobooks of 2022—so far!” was curated by AudioFile.  AudioFile is an independent source of audiobook reviews and recommendations with a clear focus on the performance and listening experience.

Suzanne Palmer Wins 2020 Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award

The winner of the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award for best short science fiction of 2019 is Suzanne Palmer for “Waterlines,” published by Asimov’s Science Fiction.

The second-place story for the Sturgeon was Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone’s “This is How You Lose the Time War.” The third-place story was Karin Tidbeck’s “The Last Voyage of Skidbladnir.”

The winner was selected by a jury composed of Elizabeth Bear, Andy Duncan, James Gunn, Kij Johnson, and Nöel Sturgeon, Trustee of the Theodore Sturgeon Literary Estate.

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the in-person presentation of the award will be postponed until next year’s Gunn Center Conference, date and location to be announced.

The Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award recognizes the best science fiction short story of each year. It was established in 1987 by James Gunn, Founding Director of the Center for the Study of Science Fiction at KU, and the heirs of Theodore Sturgeon, including his partner Jayne Engelhart Tannehill and Sturgeon’s children, as an appropriate memorial to one of the great short-story writers in a field distinguished by its short fiction.

2020 Ignyte Awards

FIYAH Literary Magazine’s inaugural Ignyte Awards were presented in an online ceremony on October 17 brilliantly hosted by Jesse of Bowties & Books.

The Ignyte Awards seek to celebrate the vibrancy and diversity of the current and future landscapes of science fiction, fantasy, and horror by recognizing incredible feats in storytelling and outstanding efforts toward inclusivity of the genre. There were 1,431 valid votes cast to decide the winners. 

Best Novel – Adult – for novel-length (40k+ words) works intended for the adult audience: 

  • Gods of Jade and Shadow – Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Best Novel – YA – for novel-length (40k+ words) works intended for the young adult audience:

  • We Hunt the Flame – Hafsah Faizal

Best in MG – for works intended for the middle-grade audience:

  • Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky – Kwame Mbalia

Best Novella – for speculative works ranging from 17,500-39,999 words:

  • This is How You Lose the Time War – Max Gladstone & Amal El-Mohtar

Best Novelette – for speculative works ranging from 7,500-17,499 words:

  • Emergency Skin – N K Jemisin for the Amazon Forward Collection

Best Short Story – for speculative works ranging from 2,000-7,499 words:

  • A Brief Lesson in Native American Astronomy – Rebecca Roanhorse for Mythic Dream

Speculative Poetry – 

  • A Conversation Between the Embalmed Heads of Lampião and Maria Bonita on Public Display at the Baiano State Forensic Institute, Circa Mid-20th Century – Woody Dismukes for Strange Horizons

Critics Award – for reviews and analysis of the field of speculative literature:

  • Alex Brown – Tor.com

Best Fiction Podcast – for excellence in audio performance and production for speculative fiction:

  • LeVar Burton Reads – LeVar Burton

Best Artist – for contributions in visual speculative storytelling:

  • Grace P. Fong

Best Comics Team – for comics, graphic novels, and sequential storytelling:

  • These Savage Shores – Ram V, Sumit Kumar, Vitorio Astone, Aditya Bidikar, & Tim Daniel

Best Anthology/Collected Works – 

  • New Suns – Nisi Shawl

Best in Creative Nonfiction – for works related to the field of speculative fiction:

  • Black Horror Rising – Tananarive Due

The Ember Award – for unsung contributions to the genre:

  • LeVar Burton

Community Award – for Outstanding Efforts in Service of Inclusion and Equitable Practice in Genre:

  • Strange Horizons – Gautam Bhatia, Vajra Chandrasekera, Joyce Chng, Kate Cowan, Tahlia Day, William Ellwood, Rebecca Evans, Ciro Faienza, Lila Garrott, Dan Hartland, Amanda Jean, Lulu Kadhim, Maureen Kincaid Speller, Catherine Krahe, Anaea Lay, Dante Luiz, Heather McDougal, AJ Odasso, Vanessa Rose Phin, Clark Seanor, Romie Stott, Aishwarya Subramanian, Fred G. Yost, and the SH copyediting team and first readers

Rebecca Roanhorse

Woody Dismukes

LeVar Burton

Tananarive Due

Ram V

Alex Brown

Jesse of Bowties & Books

L.D. Lewis, Art Director of FIYAH