Pixel Scroll 3/2/24 Yeets of Eden

(1) HUGO NOMINATIONS CLOSE IN ONE WEEK. Nicholas Whyte, Glasgow 2024 Hugo Administrator and WSFS Division Head reminds members that they have until March 9 to submit nominations for this year’s Hugo Awards. Full information at “Hugo Awards – Nomination Ballot”.

They also are offering Chinese translation for the 2024 Hugo Award nomination process as a courtesy to the Chinese-speaking 2023 Chengdu WSFS members who have nomination rights for the 2024 Hugo Awards.

(2) HWA: MARUYAMA Q&A. The Horror Writers Association continues “Women in Horror Month 2024” in “An Interview with Kate Maruyama”.

Kate Maruyama. Photo by Rachael Warecki.

Do you make a conscious effort to include female characters and themes in your writing and if so, what do you want to portray?

I write all characters, but I am always trying to get inside women characters in a complex way that blows out the walls of archetypes. The old woman who is complex and funny and real (and swears! All the older women I admire swear), the ingenue aged woman who is brilliant, unpredictable, problem solving, and forward moving, the mother whose entire existence is not mothering, but is a whole person who happens to have kids, the little girl who is smart and weird and does not give a crap about boys.

What has writing horror taught you about the world and yourself?

We all have darkness in us, and if we can get inside it and open up our fears and where they come from, it can help people manage their very real lives.

(3) CHUCK TINGLE ON CAMP DAMASCUS CATEGORY. The Horror Writers Association moved Chuck Tingle’s novel Camp Damascus out of the YA category into the main Novel category. One of the responses earned this callout. (Whoever’s blog this is, I see there also were other comments supportive of Tingle’s book.)

(4) IWÁJÚ. Eddie Louise calls Iwájú on Disney+ — “Amazing science fiction for kids with deep cultural and societal commentary.” See trailer at the link.

“Iwájú” is an original animated series set in a futuristic Lagos, Nigeria. The exciting coming-of-age story follows Tola, a young girl from the wealthy island, and her best friend, Kole, a self-taught tech expert, as they discover the secrets and dangers hidden in their different worlds. Kugali filmmakers—including director Olufikayo Ziki Adeola, production designer Hamid Ibrahim and cultural consultant Toluwalakin Olowofoyeku—take viewers on a unique journey into the world of “Iwájú,” bursting with unique visual elements and technological advancements inspired by the spirit of Lagos. The series is produced by Disney Animation’s Christina Chen with a screenplay by Adeola and Halima Hudson. “Iwájú” features the voices of Simisola Gbadamosi, Dayo Okeniyi, Femi Branch, Siji Soetan and Weruche Opia.

(5) LIKE SAND THROUGH AN HOURGLASS. Maya St. Clair finds what time has done to the first Dune movie – not that a lot of time needed to have passed before the results were known: “Make Sci-Fi Cringe Again (Duneposting 1)”.

The other night, a friend and I went to an anniversary screening of David Lynch’s 1984 Dune. Its manmade horrors were consumed in the way God intended: on a towering screen, with a printout of the infamous Dune Terminology sheet balanced in my lap, as I inhaled a bucket of curly fries agleam with twice their weight in grease. Visually, Dune is an orgy of delights: a dense mannerist universe filled with gilt and wires and inbred animals/people. The voiceovers are camp, the editing ridiculous, the hairdos lofty and aggressive (Aquanet — like spice — must flow). Around the midpoint of the movie — when Sting steps out of a sauna in a codpiece —most people had come to the unspoken understanding that it was okay to laugh instead of sitting in respectful, cinephilic silence. The Harkonnen milking machine (i.e. a rat just duct-taped to a cat) brought down the house….

(6) DUNE PT. 2. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Front Row on B Beeb Ceeb’s Radio 4 (a.k.a. the Home Service) first third sees a review of Dune Part II.

Now, while I concur (others may disagree) that for all its spectacle Part I was a little ponderous (go in with a medium or large real coffee Americana) it was faithful to the novel and the SFX far better than the Lynch offering… This last is, of course unfair, the Lynch offering came out four decades ago… Yes, just a decade short of half a century and so you’d expect as big an improvement in cinematography as there was between 1984 and films made towards the end of the war (that’s WWII in case you were wondering how old I was).

So, how did the Front Row review go?  Well, the first thing that surprised me was that one of the reviewers hates epic ‘sci-fi’.  Yes, for some in the arts, SF remains a ghetto genre.  (Or perhaps we at SF² Concatenation should swop our book review panel of ardent SF readers to those that loathe genre literature. Perhaps File 770 should be edited by someone outside of fandom? Perhaps Boris Johnson  should become Prime Minister…)

Be thrilled.  Be amazed.  The truth is out there….

You can listen to the first third of the programme here: “Front Row, Dune 2”.

(7) ABOUT THOSE LENSMEN. Steve J. Wright may not be treading new ground in “How the Other Half Lives”, but fascism, John W. Campbell Jr., and the Golden Age have been thoroughly plowed under by the time he’s done.

This is spilling out of a discussion over on File 770 (item 4 on the scroll), which in turn derived partly from Charles Stross’s “We’re Sorry we Created the Torment Nexus”. It also ties in, of course, to the ongoing “was John W. Campbell a fascist?” non-debate (because people who say no are not changing their minds, ever.)

“Fascist”, of course, is one of those terms linguisticians call “snarl words”, where the negative connotations have pretty much obscured the original usage…

…But were Golden Age SF writers in general, and John W. Campbell Jr. in particular, happy with elitism? Oh, you bet they were. The Gernsbackian ideal, as exemplified in Gernsback’s own ridiculous novel Ralph 124C41+, was a homogeneous, rationally-planned society in which government, if it existed at all, was strictly subordinated to the scientific elite – in the eponymous Ralph’s case, the “plus men”, entitled to that + sign on their names, whose unfettered experimentation led to an endless round of fresh discoveries and scientific benefits for the general populace. And you can’t throw a brick in Campbell-era SF without hitting an omni-competent super-science hero with world-transforming insights and the steely determination to push aside bureaucratic meddling and Get Things Done. Campbell himself regarded Astounding as not just a science fiction magazine, but a proving ground for the ideas that would shape the world of tomorrow. And he had plenty of sympathy from SF fans, who were happy to believe that their time would come, and they would be in the vanguard of the new elite. Granted, not many fans took it as far as the rather alarming Claude Degler, but if you said “fans are slans” at any fannish gathering of the times, you would see more than one head nodding in approval….

(8) REFERENCE DIRECTOR! Meanwhile, in Russia: “Alexei Navalny Was Buried to the Terminator 2 Theme Song”  — New York Magazine has the story.

…Navalny got in one last laugh at his funeral on Friday. As his coffin was lowered into the ground, the tune playing in the background wasn’t some funeral dirge, but the theme from his favorite movie, Terminator 2: Judgment Day. It was the refrain that plays during the movie’s famous final scene, as Arnold Schwarzenegger’s soulful killer cyborg gives a thumbs-up while he is lowered into a vat of molten steel, sacrificing himself to save the future….


[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born March 2, 1966 Ann Leckie, 58. So let’s start with Lis Carey talking about her favorite work by our writer this Scroll, Ann Leckie:

Ann Leckie wins Hugo in 2014. Photo by Henry Harel.

Ann Leckie’s Imperial Radch trilogy, starting with Ancillary Justice in 2013, gives us a culture where biological sex is ignored, and only female pronouns are used. Breq, our protagonist throughout the trilogy, is the only survivor of a ship destroyed by treachery, and she’s the ship’s artificial intelligence, occupying an ancillary body, i.e., a body whose own personality has been erased and replaced with one more useful to the empire, and presenting herself as an officer. 

In her quest for revenge, she becomes more and more fully human, and more and more aware of what’s wrong with the empire she serves. We see glimpses of a galaxy beyond the Radch Empire, some of them fascinating.

We’re certainly not given the impression that the Radch are the good guys. In subsequent books and stories, we get looks at the Radch from the outside, and at the other human cultures trying to survive in a galaxy where the Radch are the major human power. It’s a wonderfully complex and layered universe, and it’s well worth exploring.

Ancillary Justice swept the awards field in 2014: a Hugo at Loncon 3, a British Fantasy Award, the Clarke a Kitschie, and a Nebula. The sequel, Ancillary Sword was nominated at Sasquan and won a BSFA Award; the final book in the trilogy, Ancillary Mercy, was a Hugo finalist at MidAmeriCon II. Her next book set in that universe, Provenance, novel garnered a Hugo nomination at Worldcon 76. 

Translation State, though also part of the Imperial Radch, is a pretty a stand-alone story. Yes, I liked it a lot. So let’s have Lis set the scene for you again…

It’s set in that universe, on the edge of human space, in a space station where the human polities including the Radch, and several alien polities, attempt to maintain calm and peaceful relations with the Presger, whom no one has ever seen, but who could destroy everyone if they got annoyed.

This is the book where we really get acquainted with the Presger translators, who appear to have been created from humans, but really aren’t, anymore.

It is, I would say, primarily a missing person case more than a murder mystery but it is both. It is a fascinating story. 

She’s also written an excellent fantasy novel, The Raven Tower, which I’ve been listening to of late. Adjoa Andoh narrates the audio version. She’s been on Doctor Who numerous times, mostly playing the mother of Martha Jones. She does a stellar performance here. 

Leckie has published a baker’s dozen short stories, two set in the Imperial Radch universe. I’ve not read any of them. Who has?

I look forward to seeing what she writes next. 


  • Reality Check shows a fan pedant in (unwelcome!) action.
  • Close to Home has the most grotesque Pinocchio joke I’ve ever seen.
  • Tom Gauld mixes higher math with lower cuisine.

(11) GOOD OMENS VISUALS. Colleen Doran’s Funny Business is back with “Good Omens Peeks” – artwork at the link.

… I don’t know if, you know, getting cancer, going blind, smashing my face in, and generally having a really awful 2023 hasn’t been some weird sort of super-motivation, but I’m working very steady, and I actually think the art has gotten more solid as I go along.

I’m also very far behind schedule, but since the book was so far ahead to start, even though it’s going to be late, it won’t be horribly late. I set some pages aside and was unable to work on them for months, and that distance helped me work through some problems, too.

Anyhow, here’s some of my art in progress. And thanks for all the votes in the ComicScene awards for Good Omens as #1 crowdfund campaign of 2023….

(12) AFTER MIDNIGHT. Bitter Karella is back with the members of The Midnight Society, who are being a trial to Ursula K. Le Guin. Thread starts here.

(13) WAY AFTER MIDNIGHT. In “Seeing ‘Dune 2’ in 70mm Imax at 3:15 a.m. Was an Unforgettable Experience”, Variety’s Ethan Shanfeldfiles a snarky report about the ambiance.

…About 45 minutes into the movie, I thought for sure I was toast. Those gorgeous desert sand dunes reminded me of pillows, and I questioned what life choices I made that led me here, to seat H35. But then I saw a guy nod off two rows ahead of me, and I thought about how annoying it would be to have to see this movie again just to catch the parts I missed. I’m not weak like him, I thought, inhaling my Diet Coke. And, to even my own surprise, I powered through, savoring Paul Atreides’ larger-than-life odyssey all the way until the credits rolled at 6:18 a.m.

On the escalator down, I caught up with the three friends from New Jersey. “What are your plans this morning?” I asked, and they told me they were going to walk west to watch the sunrise over the Hudson. I didn’t have the heart (read: brain cells) to tell them the sun rises in the east.

(14) JUSTWATCH. Here are JustWatch’s charts of the most-viewed streaming movies and TV series of February 2024.

(15) SQUEAK IN DELIGHT. [Item by Bill Higgins.] Good news for all who love helium, Minneapolis in 73, and airships! Let us lift our high-pitched voices in song! “’A dream. It’s perfect’: Helium discovery in northern Minnesota may be biggest ever in North America” on CBS Minnesota.

Scientists and researchers are celebrating what they call a “dream” discovery after an exploratory drill confirmed a high concentration of helium buried deep in Minnesota’s Iron Range.

Thomas Abraham-James, CEO of Pulsar Helium, said the confirmed presence of helium could be one of the most significant such finds in the world.

“There was a lot of screaming, a lot of hugging and high fives. It’s nice to know the efforts all worked out and we pulled it off,” Abraham-James said….

…According to Abraham-James, the helium concentration was measured at 12.4%, which is higher than forecasted and roughly 30 times the industry standard for commercial helium.

(16) 2021 FLASHBACK: STRICTER RATINGS FOR THESE SFF MOVIES. The British Board of Film Classification ratings change to Mary Poppins (see Pixel Scroll 2/26/24 item #9) was just the latest to affect sff films as shown in this 2021 BBC News article: “Rocky and Flash Gordon given tighter age rating”. In 2021 the extended edition of The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring has also been moved up to a 12A for its “moderate fantasy violence and threat.”Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back was moved from Universal to PG.

Of the 93 complaints the board received last year, 27 were about 1980 space opera film Flash Gordon.

The movie’s 40th anniversary re-release was reclassified up to 12A partly due to the inclusion of “discriminatory stereotypes”.

The BBFC did not say what the stereotypes were. However Flash Gordon’s main villain, Ming the Merciless, was of East Asian appearance but played by Swedish-French actor Max von Sydow….

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Back in the day at school — seems like half a century ago (hang on, it was) — there were a bunch of us whose aim in chemistry was to get the contents of one’s boiling tube to mark the ceiling… We were the back bench bucket chemists! Those were the days. Very much in that spirit, physics Matt O’Dowd asks “What Happens If We Nuke Space?” Come on, Bruce Willis has done it?

EMPs aren’t science fiction. Real militaries are experimenting on real EMP generators, and as Starfish Prime showed us, space nukes can send powerful EMPs to the surface. So what exactly is an EMP, and how dangerous are they?  

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Kathy Sullivan, Daniel Dern, Lis Carey, Eddie Louise, JJ, Bill Higgins, Steven French, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, and Chris Barkley for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Peace Is My Middle Name.]

Pixel Scroll 1/11/24 Scroll, Pixel, Scroll, Upon Your Mystery Ship

(1) BITTER KARELLA (“MIDNIGHT PALS”) Q&A. The Horror Writers Association blog continues its “Nuts & Bolts” series in an “Interview With Bitter Karella, Creator of The Midnight Pals”.

The Midnight Pals microfiction series started as a simple but inspired running gag on Twitter. Storytellers gather around a campfire a la Nickelodeon’s Are You Afraid of the Dark?, except they’re real-life horror authors past and present — Stephen King, Clive Barker, Mary Shelley, etc.

Its author, Bitter Karella, has managed to find surprising depths in that premise, delivered almost entirely in dialogue. Midnight Pals features complex, interweaving storylines, recurring characters, and trenchant social commentary, all while remaining consistently hilarious….

Q: Humor aside, it’s impressive how Midnight Pals manages to convey entire narrative arcs using little but snippets of dialogue. Do you have any pointers on story-telling?

A: One of the most powerful parts of storytelling is leaving things unsaid. A well-timed pause or a deflection can say so much —  about what a character is thinking, their emotional state, what they want to say but can’t for some reason, what inner demons they refuse to confront, what blind spots they’re not even aware of. These are the moments that really let the reader ponder what’s going on in a character’s brain and I think letting the reader try and figure out for themselves what is going on gives the whole affair a bigger impact than if the writer just spells everything out for them. Because we live in a social media world where we’re all understandably nervous about getting yelled at online, I think many writers today feel uncomfortable with the idea that a reader might misunderstand them and they feel compelled to answer every question before it’s asked. I struggle a lot with that as well … when I write a punchline, I want to write it so that there’s no ambiguity about what’s happening, so that everyone can get it. But sometimes the phrasing that hits best is also going to be the phrasing most ripe for misinterpretation or sometimes it’s just funnier (or more interesting) to leave something out. You just have to trust your reader to connect the dots for themselves, sometimes!

(2) AUTHOR BIO ADVICE. Nicola Griffith makes recommendations: “Author Bios: Saying the quiet part out loud”.

…Nobody really talks about about Author Bios. Consequently, when I was first asked to write one (in the late 80s, for Interzone, or maybe Iron Women) I hadn’t a clue where to begin. If I’d thought about them at all I probably assumed somebody else wrote them. After all, as my English, trained-to-not-blow-my-own-horn inner voice reminded me, If you have to tell people you’re important/interesting, you’re not. Looking back, I’m glad I was clueless about this kind of self-promotion. I might never have begun this writing thing if I’d had any idea how much being a working novelist depends on blasting out your own brassy fanfares all the time, about everything: not just social media but essays, interviews, panels, readings, think pieces, puff pieces, listicles, blog posts, podcasts… It’s a very large part of the job. And all those things rest on the bio—usually between 500 and 1,000 words for your own website (the Inside Bio), and anything from 25 to 200 words elsewhere (the Outside Bio)1

(3) LEARNEDLEAGUE. [Item by David Goldfarb.] Two SFF-related themed quizzes were featured this week on LearnedLeague. Here’s a link to “Spaceballs: The One-Day Special!” and here’s one to “The Sandman“.

I’ve actually never seen Spaceballs, so I didn’t take that quiz. Sandman, by contrast, I’ve been reading since 1988. I got 12/12 right on that one fairly easily (I did need the embedded hints in one question) but wasn’t in the winners’ circle because the scoring involves guessing what questions will be the hardest, and I failed at that. My old friend Tom Galloway got a perfect score, though.

(4) SHADE TREK. “Star Trek Series Erased From Existence By Sci-Fi Show, Is It Revenge?” asks Giant Freakin Robot.

Star Trek definitely exists in the universe of Ronald D. Moore’s Apple TV+ series For All Mankind, but does every show from the franchise exist? A recent episode has fans speculating that Moore is purposefully suggesting that Star Trek: Voyager wasn’t made in the For All Mankind universe.

If true, it seems like Moore would be throwing some slight shade toward screenwriter Brannon Braga, whom Moore had a falling out with, causing him to leave Voyager.

For All Mankind takes place in an alternate reality where there is a global space race, and one of the interesting aspects of the show is seeing the slight differences in the timelines from our reality. The Star Trek: Voyager theory popped up when a Reddit user pointed out that the character Danielle (Krys Marshall), the first African-American woman in space, sent a message to her stepson Isaiah about the birth of his daughter.

In the scene, Danielle says, “I know you hate Star Trek, but you better get used to it, because I’m gonna make sure my grandbaby is a full-blown Trekkie,” adding, “That’s right, we’re gonna watch all the series, all three of them.”

While that statement may seem innocuous enough, the scene takes place in 2003, when there were six series in the franchise, including The Original SeriesThe Animated SeriesThe Next GenerationDeep Space NineVoyager, and Enterprise….

(5) SCRIPT OF THE UNMADE DUNE SEQUEL. Max Evry tells Ars Technica “I found David Lynch’s lost Dune II script”. That the 1984 Dune movie was low-earning and brutally reviewed is part of the reason it was lost.

… During the two years I spent putting together my book A Masterpiece in Disarray: David Lynch’s Dune—An Oral History, I had no luck uncovering Lynch’s script for Dune II, despite Frank Herbert telling Prevue magazine in December 1984 that he possessed a copy and was advising Lynch on it. “Now that we speak the same ‘language,’ it’s much easier for both of us to make progress, especially with the screenplays,” Herbert told the publication. Then, in July 2023, within the Frank Herbert archives at California State University, Fullerton, I came across a slim folder with a sticky note declaring “Dune Messiah script revisions,” addressed to the second floor of VFX man Barry Nolan’s office in Burbank where Lynch supervised the final effects shoots and editing on Dune….

… Of the many differences between Dune Messiah in novel form and David Lynch’s script, the biggest lay in the opening pages, which detail what happens in the aftermath of the scene in the first Dune movie when the Harkonnens bombed the Atreides’ fortress in Arrakeen, the capitol of the desert planet Arrakis. In the hallway where Duncan Idaho (Richard Jordan) was shot in the head, his shielded dead body still floats on the floor, humming and sparking.

From out of the shadows emerges a familiar face: the Baron’s Doctor (Leonardo Cimino). Thought to be the only speaking part created specifically for Dune by Lynch, we learn this Doctor was actually Scytale, a shape-shifting “face dancer” crucial to the plot of Herbert’s second book. Going back to Dune ’84, you may not have noticed Cimino’s Doctor accompanied Baron Harkonnen during the Arrakeen attack. The Doc is absent after that, even as the Baron yells creepily, “Where’s my doctor?” That’s because Doc/Scytale absconded with Duncan’s body. This Easter egg is Lynchian world-building at its best.

Scytale’s 12-year odyssey reanimating “dead Duncan Idaho” into the ghola named Hayt on the nightmarish Bene Tleilax world (mentioned by Paul in Dune) constitutes the entire opening 10 minutes of the script. Lynch calls the planet Tleilax “a dark metal world with canals of steaming chemicals and acids.” Those canals, Lynch writes, are lined with “dead pink small test tube animals.” Initiating Dune II with a focus on Scytale foregrounds him to primary antagonist, unlike Herbert’s book where myriad conspirators work against Paul….

(6) TURN OUT THE LIGHTSABER, THE PARTY’S OVER. And speaking of unmade sequels – which two famous producers did in The Hollywood Reporter interview: “David Benioff, Dan Weiss Reveal Their Star Wars Movie: The First Jedi”.

…On the Star Wars front, the duo confirm media reports from 2019 that they were looking at the early days of the Jedi, but added some details.

“We wanted to do The First Jedi,” Benioff says. “Basically, how the Jedi Order came to be, why it came to be, the first lightsaber …” 

“And we were annoyed as hell when [Rian Johnson, the duo’s longtime friend and 3 Body Problem producer] called his movie The Last Jedi,” Weiss says dryly. “He completely destroyed the obvious title for what we were working on.” 

Asked what went wrong, Benioff says, “[Lucasfilm] ended up not wanting to do a First Jedi story. We had a very specific story idea in mind, and ultimately they decided they didn’t want to do that. And we totally get it. It’s their company and their IP, but we weren’t the droids they were looking for.”

The duo were far from the only ones that had their Star Wars movie taken away. Lucasfilm also decided against making Star Wars projects from top creatives like Kevin Feige, Patty Jenkins and Damon Lindelof….

(7) BRITISH LIBRARY RECOVERY. [Item by Bruce D. Arthurs.] The British Library announced that some of their major services will begin to be available again starting next week, following last October’s crippling cyber-attack. “Restoring our services – an update”. There is still much work to be done.

As we begin a new year, I’m pleased to confirm that – as promised before Christmas – next Monday 15 January will see the return online of one of the most important datasets for researchers around the world: the main British Library catalogue of over 36 million records, including details of our printed books, journals, maps, music scores and rare books. Its absence from the internet has been perhaps the single most visible impact of the criminal cyber attack which took place at the end of October last year, and I want to acknowledge how difficult this has been for all our users.

When the catalogue returns it won’t be in quite the form that long-standing users will be familiar with. Most notably it will be ‘read-only’, so although you will be able to search for items as before, the process for checking availability and ordering them for to use in the Reading Rooms will be different. We’ll be providing more detailed information and practical guidance when the catalogue goes online on Monday….


[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born January 11, 1961 Jasper Fforde, 63. I, like most folk I suspect, first discovered the somewhat eccentric charms of his writing in the Eyre Affair, the first of his novels with Tuesday Next, the  Special Operation Network, Literary Detectives (SO-27) who could literally enter the great and not so great works of English literature. 

Bidder and Stoughton published it twenty-three years ago. I’d like to say the Eyre Affair was a much desired literary property but he says there were seventy-six publisher that he sent his manuscript to. I’m surprised there were that many publishers in the U.K. that would have been interested…

Jasper Fforde in 2012.

There would be six in the series in all — this novel followed by Lost in a Good BookThe Well of Lost PlotsSomething RottenFirst Among SequelsOne of our Thursdays Is Missing and The Woman Who Died a Lot. I won’t say that they were consistently great as they weren’t and the humor sometimes wore more than a bit thin, but overall I like the series considerably.

Next up, and I wasn’t eggspecting to like it, yes I know bad pun there, is The Big Over Easy which is set in the same universe as the Thursday Next novels though I don’t remember any overlapping character twenty years after reading them. It reworks his first written novel, which absolutely failed to find any publisher whatsoever. 

Its original title was Who Killed Humpty Dumpty? Errr, wasn’t there a novel involving a rabbit by almost that name?  It had a sequel of sorts in The Fourth Bear. Both are quite more than bearably good. 

I have not read his dystopian novel Shades of Grey: The Road to High Saffronwhich is about a future Britain where everyone there is judged by how they perceive colors. Suspect someone with color blindness like myself wouldn’t be welcome there. A friend who did read it like it a lot. 

His Dragonslayer series, also known as The Chronicles of Kazam, are a YA affair and a great deal of fun indeed. 

He’s got several one-offs but I know absolutely nothing about them.


(10) STRACZYNSKI Q&A. “Hope and Strange: PW Talks with J. Michael Straczynski” at Publishers Weekly.

You’ve said before that, with established mainstream comics characters, you view your job as asking unlikely questions. Could you expand on that approach?

[JMS]: Spider-Man is a good example of that. For 50-plus years, we’ve known that Peter Parker got bit by a spider and got his powers. I like to look under the hood and say, oh, wait, hang on a second. The spider was irradiated—we know that part of it. But did the spider have the powers from the radiation, and therefore gave it to Peter, or was that spider bringing the powers to him in the first place, and had to get to him before the radiation killed it? Because the second question implies intent. And the moment you put intent into that equation, it changes everything. It opens up whole new possibilities of storytelling. Out of that one question came the Spider Totem idea, but also the Spider-Verse. All the things you’ve seen since then from the Spider-Verse, the characters and movies, and the animated stuff, all that came from that one unlikely question—that implied intent….

(11) UNCANNY MAGAZINE’S SUBMISSION SCORECARD. A little peek behind the scenes at a leading sff magazine.

(12) MORE AI FAKERY ON AMAZON. “Scammy AI-Generated Book Rewrites Are Flooding Amazon” reports WIRED.

When AI researcher Melanie Mitchell published Artificial Intelligence: A Guide for Thinking Humans in 2019, she set out to clarify AI’s impact. A few years later, ChatGPT set off a new AI boom—with a side effect that caught her off guard. An AI-generated imitation of her book appeared on Amazon, in an apparent scheme to profit off her work. It looks like another example of the ecommerce giant’s ongoing problem with a glut of low-quality AI-generated ebooks.

Mitchell learned that searching Amazon for her book surfaced not only her own tome but also another ebook with the same title, published last September. It was only 45 pages long and it parroted Mitchell’s ideas in halting, awkward language. The listed author, “Shumaila Majid,” had no bio, headshot, or internet presence, but clicking on that name brought up dozens of similar books summarizing recently published titles.

Mitchell guessed the knock-off ebook was AI-generated, and her hunch appears to be correct. WIRED asked deepfake-detection startup Reality Defender to analyze the ersatz version of Artificial Intelligence: A Guide for Thinking Humans, and its software declared the book 99 percent likely AI-generated. “It made me mad,” says Mitchell, a professor at the Santa Fe Institute. “It’s just horrifying how people are getting suckered into buying these books.”…

(13) ELFQUEST SCRIPT IS GO. “’Elfquest’ Animated Series Based On Comics In Works At Fox” reports Deadline.

Fox has given a script commitment to Elfquest, a one-hour animated drama series based on the epic fantasy adventure comic series created by Wendy and Richard Pini, from Rodney Rothman and Adam Rosenberg’s Modern MagicSusan Hurwitz Arneson (The Last Amazon) will pen the series adaptation and serve as showrunner and executive producer.

Created in 1978, Elfquest, published by Dark Horse Comics, is a fantasy story about a community of elves and other fictional species who struggle to survive and coexist on a primitive Earth-like planet with two moons….

(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Daniel Dern.] The fan-relevant part starts at 3:53 into the video, “Stephen [Colbert] Plays ‘Ick Or No Ick’ With Taylor Tomlinson, Host Of “After Midnight”. Listen through Colbert’s follow-up to Tomlinson’s response, until he closes with a plug for her new show.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, Daniel Dern, David Goldfarb, Kathy Sullivan, Michael J. Walsh, Bruce D. Arthurs, Jim Janney, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Steven French, Mike Kennedy, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Mark J. McGarry.]