Pixel Scroll 6/5/22 Scroll, Scroll, Scroll, Went The Pixel. Fifth, Fifth, Fifth Went The File

(1) HUGO ARCHAEOLOGY. Rich Horton continues his project to fill in the blanks with “Hugo Nomination Recommendations, 1956” at Strange at Ecbatan.

Potential Hugo Awards for 1955 Stories (1956 Hugos)

I admit now — this has become a project for me, to go through most years of the 1950s and figure out what my choices for potential Hugo nominations for fiction might be. I think the years from 1952 to 1957 are interesting years to study, because for a variety of reasons, the Hugo nominations for those years are either unknown, nonexistent, or inconsistent. This is due to three factors — the Hugos were just getting started, and so in some years there were no Hugos, or no fiction Hugos. The Hugo rules were wildly inconsistent, especially as to time of eligibility, so the Hugos (and the nomination list, in the one year it is known) might have first appeared in the year of the Worldcon, the year prior (as is now standard) or even before then. That all adds up to some years with no Hugos, and some with multiple. 1959 was the first year in which the rules were codified as to year of elibigility (the calendar year before the Worldcon) and as to beginning with a list of nominees for the voter to choose from.

(2) WILL THERE BE AN SJV IN 2022? SFFANZ News says this year’s Sir Julius Vogel Award is in jeopardy: “Postponement of one-day event and extension of SJV Award voting”.

…The SFFANZ board has decided to extend voting in this year’s Sir Julius Vogel Awards until June 30 as insufficient votes have been received to date. If there are still insufficient votes received at that time, no awards will be presented this year. The board feels such action is necessary to protect the value and prestige of the awards….

(3) CLARION UPDATES. The Clarion Ghost Class fundraiser closed after having successfully raised $8,366. Why the “Ghost Class”? Here is the explanation that was posted with the Indiegogo appeal.

In 2020, we were all accepted to the prestigious six-week Clarion Writing Workshop in San Diego. It was a dream come true for each of us. Then, the pandemic happened. Clarion UCSD was cancelled — two years in a row. In that time, we’ve changed and lost jobs, cared for and lost family members, graduated and had to start paying back student loans, moved across states, countries, oceans. We’ve even created at least two entirely new human beings. And because Clarion brought us together that fateful spring day in 2020, we’ve become friends online through all of it.

And now, finally, Clarion UCSD is back on! We couldn’t be more excited. But all that life stuff over the past two years means some of us need extra help to get there…. 

The 2022 Clarion Write-a-Thon is now open for sign-ups.

What is a write-a-thon, anyway? Think charity walk-a-thon, where volunteers walk as far as they can in return for pledges. In the Write-a-Thon, our volunteers write instead of walking. Sponsors make donations or pledges to show support for the writer and the Clarion Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers’ Workshop at UC San Diego.

This year’s Write-a-thon runs from June 19 to July 30. Their goal is to raise $15,000 for student scholarships and workshop operations.

(4) THE RIGHT QUESTION. LeVar Burton chats with The Ringer on why he didn’t get hired by Jeopardy! and the current state of his “Trivial Pursuit” game show project. “LeVar Burton on ‘Jeopardy!’: ‘It Really Wasn’t What They Said It Was’”.

I saw you mentioned a while back when you were trying out for the Jeopardy! job that one of the aspects that inspired you was this feeling that it would be particularly significant for a Black man to take on a public role like that, in a position like the host of Jeopardy! or presumably of the National Spelling Bee. I was hoping you could expand on that a little more.

It’s significant socially and sociologically. Absolutely. Because based on the history of this country, having a Black man occupy that acknowledged position of intellectual standard and ability is huge. It’s huge for the country to acknowledge because this country has spent so much time not acknowledging the worth and value of Black people and people of color and marginalized people when it comes to these very high-profile positions in our society. That’s why it was significant to me on a macro level. On a micro level, I thought I was right for the [Jeopardy!] job.

(5) HEAD OUT ON THE HIGHWAY. MeTV suspects these are “8 things you might not know about the awesome 1966 Batmobile”.

…One thing all fans of the Caped Crusader can agree on — the 1966 Batmobile is perfection. Today, the Dark Knight of movies rumbles around in a tank. The two-seater that was seen in the Batman television series, on the other hand, had the curves of a classic sports car. Adam West’s Batmobile evoked the finned cruisers of the ’50s, the hot-rods of the ’60s and the potential Jetsons-like future of automobiles. It still had all the nifty gadgets, too, of course.

There is a reason this remains the most immediately recognizable Batmobile. But some things might surprise you about its history. To the Bat-poles!

1. It was not the first Batmobile — not even the first made in the Sixties.

Batman’s Hollywood history dates back to the theatrical serials of the 1940s. In his big-screen debut in 1943, Batman motored around in a black 1939 Cadillac Series 75 convertible. A 1949 Mercury served as the Dynamic Duo’s mode of transport in 1948’s Batman and Robin. Those were regular automobiles, not a “Batmobile.” However, there was a true “Batmobile” in the Sixties — three years before Batman premiered. Forrest Robinson of New Hampshire built a fantastic touring version of “Batman’s Batmobile” from a 1956 Oldsmobile Rocket 88. All Star Dairy Products used it to promote its line of Batman ice cream treats.

(6) TAKE A MOMENT TO REMEMBER. Ray Bradbury died ten years ago today at the age of 91. “All Bradbury, all the time” is one of File 770’s unofficial mottos. You can glean some of the reasons why from these remembrance pieces written immediately following his death.

…At the Oakland-Berkeley Worldcon in 1968 (or so), I was sitting in the coffee shop with some friends when we saw Bradbury enter the hotel.  He smiled and waved at me — then, to my surprise, made an abrupt turn and came into the coffee shop to talk to me.  He said I always knew where the best stuff was going on, so where should he go?  We chatted a bit, and he breezed out of the place.  My friends stared at me in shock.  Ray fucking BRADBURY?  Did I know Bradbury THAT well?  I said “Evidently so,” but I was quite puzzled myself — yes, I knew him (thru Forry), but I didn’t think I did know him that well.  So later I encountered him in a hallway and asked about it.  He was ready for me.  He said that at an early convention (I figure this was the post-WWII Worldcon in LA), he was with a bunch of friends when Leigh Brackett came up and chatted with him about his work.  He was puzzled; they WERE friends, but it seemed out of character for her to approach him like that.  So he asked her about it.  She said she was trying to encourage his career as a writer, by treating him as a fellow professional — and did it in front of his friends, to give him egoboo.  Bradbury said “Now you have to pass it on.”…

…We’d be at book signings and older men would come up to get Ray to autograph their tattered copy of The Martian Chronicles and say that they were retired from JPL or NASA and became an astrophysicist because they read Ray’s books as a child. People would come up to Ray with tears in their eyes (as I now have) and tell him they became English teachers or librarians because of Ray. He touched people in so many ways….

…He clearly relished an audience, speaking often at libraries, universities and civic events. He spoke at USC during my freshman year, the first time I got his autograph. That was 1970, and Ray had already shaped the basic autobiographical speech that he continued to present til he was 90, about his childhood memories, the art he loved and his successes as a writer. That day he said, “I wanted to become the greatest writer in the world. Aren’t you glad I finally made it?” The audience cheered like mad….

Ray Bradbury as the Spirit of the Elephant.. Photo by Bill Warren.

(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1998 [By Cat Eldridge.] Not quite a quarter of a century ago but very close to it, The Truman Show, one of my all-time favorite films, premiered on this date. 

It was directed by Peter Weir, the Australian director who previously done the non-genre but really scary Picnic at Hanging Rock. It was produced by committee in the form of Scott Rudin, Andrew Niccol, Edward S. Feldman, and Adam Schroeder. 

Unlike the finished product, Niccol’s spec script was more of a SF thriller, with the story set in New York City. 

It starred Jim Carrey, Laura Linney, Noah Emmerich, Natascha McElhone, Holland Taylor and Ed Harris. I particularly liked the relationship between Carrey and Linney. Actually I loved the film from beginning to end and thought it was perfectly written. 

It was costly to make, somewhere over sixty million, but that was OK as  it made well over a quarter of a billion in its first run. That’s really impressive, isn’t it?

Critics loved it. Really they did. 

Rita Kempley at the Washington Post thoroughly enjoyed it: “’The Truman Show’ is ‘Candid Camera’ run amok, a sugar-spun nightmare of pop paranoia that addresses the end of privacy, the rise of voyeurism and the violation of the individual. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. This show-within-the-show makes for a parody all by itself, but it is couched in an even more subversively entertaining satire. One of the smartest, most inventive movies in memory, it manages to be as endearing as it is provocative.”

Peter Travers at the Rolling Stone enjoyed it as well but noted the cruel streak embedded in it: “’Sayonara’ to Seinfeld and hello to The Truman Show, a movie – and a great movie, by the way – about a television series in which the ‘selfishness, self-absorption, immaturity and greed’ that Jerry, Elaine, George and Kramer were slammed for in the last episode don’t exist. Except behind the scenes. Jim Carrey has the role of his career as Truman Burbank, the unwitting star of a TV show that has trained 5,000 hidden cameras on him since his birth thirty years ago. Everyone in Truman’s life – parents, lovers, best friend, wife – is an actor. Truman’s seemingly idyllic world on the island of Seahaven is really a giant, dome-encased studio controlled by Christof (Ed Harris), a beret-wearing director who has made his name as a televisionary by invading Truman’s privacy seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day. Thanks to the global audience that hangs on Truman’s every move, his life is a cruel joke, with Truman the only one not in on it.” 

The audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it an eighty-nine percent rating. 

Did I mention it won the Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation at Aussiecon Three (1999)? Well it most deservedly did. 

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born June 5, 1908 John Russell Fearn. British author and one of the first British writers to appear in American pulp magazines. A prolific author, he published his novels also as Vargo Statten and with various pseudonyms such as Thornton Ayre, Polton Cross, Geoffrey Armstrong  and others. As himself, I see his first story as being The Intelligence Gigantic published in Amazing Stories in 1933. His Golden Amazon series of novels ran to over to two dozen titles, and the Clayton Drew Mars Adventure series that only ran to four novels. (Died 1960.)
  • Born June 5, 1928 Robert Lansing. He was secret agent Gary Seven in the “Assignment: Earth” episode of Trek. The episode was a backdoor pilot for a Roddenberry series that would have starred him and Teri Garr, but the series never happened. There is a novel however and it available from the usual suspects for a quite reasonable price.  He of course appeared on other genre series such as the Twilight ZoneJourney to the UnknownThriller and Alfred Hitchcock Presents. (Died 1994.)
  • Born June 5, 1931 Barbara Paul, 91. Writer of mysteries, some twenty or so, and a handful of genre novels. Her novels feature in-jokes such as her Full Frontal Murder mystery novel which uses names from Blake’s 7. Genre wise, she’s written five SF novels including a Original Series Trek novel, The Three-Minute Universe, which is available at the usual suspects.
  • Born June 5, 1946 John Bach, 76. Einstein on Farscape (though he was deliberately uncredited for most of the series), the Gondorian Ranger Madril in the second and third movies of The Lord of the Rings film trilogy. Also a British bodyguard on The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian. And he was the body double for shooting Saruman in place of Christopher Lee, who was unable to fly to New Zealand for principal photography on The Hobbit film series. 
  • Born June 5, 1960 Margo Lanagan, 62. Tender Morsels won a World Fantasy Award for best novel, and Sea-Hearts won the same for Best Novella. (She has won four World Fantasy Awards, very impressive. She’s also won a bonnie bunch of other Awards as well.) She’s an alumna of the Clarion West Writers Workshop In 1999 and returned as a teacher in 2011 and 2013.
  • Born June 5, 1971 Susan Lynch, 51. Northern Irish actress whose career in film started off by being a selkie in The Secret of Roan Inish with her next role being an unnamed Paris Vampire in Interview with a Vampire, and she was Liz Stride, a prostitute, in From Hell. Film wise, her last role to date is Aunt Alice in Ready Player One. She’s got one series credit to date playing Angstrom in the Thirteenth Doctor story, “The Ghost Monument”.  
  • Born June 5, 1976 Lauren Beukes, 46. South African writer and scriptwriter.  Moxyland, her first novel, is a cyberpunk novel set in a future Cape Town.  Zoo City, a hardboiled thriller with fantasy elements is set in a re-imagined Johannesburg. It won both the Arthur C. Clarke Award and a Kitschies Red Tentacle Award for best novel. (I love the name of the latter award!) And The Shining Girls would win her an August Derleth Award for Best Horror Novel. Afterland, her latest genre novel, was on the long list for a NOMMO. Much of short fiction is collected in Slipping: Stories, Essays, & Other Writing

(9) CHIVALRY EXHIBIT. The Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco presents “Chivalry: The Art of Colleen Doran”, an exhibition of original artwork from the Dark Horse graphic novel Chivalry as illustrated by Doran and written by Neil Gaiman. It continues through September 18.

This exhibition features Doran’s beautiful cover painting and twenty original pages personally selected by the artist. The graphic novel is an adaptation of a short story written by Gaiman in which an elderly British widow buys what turns out to be the Holy Grail from a second-hand shop. This chance purchase sets her off on an epic adventure when she begins receiving visits from an ancient knight who lures her with ancient relics in hope for winning the cup.

… This exhibition of Doran’s fully-painted original artwork will be on display at the Cartoon Art Museum from April 23 through September 18, 2022, and will be accompanied by a selection of chivalrous artwork from the Cartoon Art Museum’s permanent collection. An online discussion with Colleen Doran is planned for this summer, and details regarding that program will be announced soon.

(10) LASER DEFENSE. “Israel Builds a Laser Weapon to Zap Threats Out of the Sky” reports the New York Times.

After two decades of research and experimentation, Israeli defense officials now say they have a working prototype of a high-powered laser gun that can intercept rockets, mortar shells, drones and anti-tank missiles in flight.

Officials said that the system performed successfully in a recent series of live fire tests in the southern Israeli desert, destroying a rocket, a mortar shell and a drone, and prompting a standing ovation from officials watching the action onscreen.

The government has allocated hundreds of millions of dollars to develop the weapon, which Prime Minister Naftali Bennett described this week as a “strategic game changer.” He has pledged “to surround Israel with a laser wall.”

Professionals involved in developing the system say it is still several years away from being fully operational in the field, and experts caution that even then it may initially be of limited use in protecting Israel from heavy incoming rocket fire. Israeli officials have not said whether it would be effective against the precision-guided missiles that Israel says Hezbollah is developing in Lebanon…

(11) NEXT STOP: TIANGONG. “Shenzhou-14 crew launches for new Tiangong Space Station”CNN has the story.

… This is the third crewed mission during the construction of the space station, which China plans to have fully crewed and operational by December 2022. The first crewed mission, a three-month stay by three other astronauts, was completed in September 2021. The second, Shenzhou-13, saw three astronauts spend six months in space for the first time.

Six months is the standard mission duration for many countries – but it is an important opportunity for Chinese astronauts to become accustomed to a long-term stay in space and help prepare future astronauts to do the same.

Six space missions have been scheduled before the end of the year, including another crewed mission, two laboratory modules and two cargo missions….

(12) BEE PICTURE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Shouldn’t we regard any series with Rowan Atkinson as fandom-adjacent?

(13) VIDEO OF THE DAY. The Queen and Paddington Bear get the Platinum Party at the Palace rocking. “Ma’amalade sandwich Your Majesty?”

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, 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 Jack Lint.]

Review: Lost Solace by Karl Drinkwater

Lost Solace by Karl Drinkwater

By Mike Glyer: Opal steals an experimental AI-controlled spaceship from the military to begin Lost Solace by Karl Drinkwater because she’s seeking something that’s been taken away from her. She hopes to find it on a Lost Ship, one of the spaceships that vanish with all hands, then reappear, strangely altered, derelict, and rumored to be full of horrors. And Opal knows where she expects to find one.

In the vicinity of a neutron star Opal locates a seemingly deserted spaceship – and from the moment she boards an endless variety of tech and lifeforms are trying to kill her. Her companion AI, named Clarissa, helps keep track of the threats – though their relationship is complicated by the fact that Opal isn’t telling Clarissa everything, beginning with the fact that she’s been stolen.

What does Opal hope to find? What happened to this Lost Ship? The way Drinkwater builds this story discovery-by-discovery, with all kinds of dangers thrown in, marries what I liked about Rendezvous with Rama to the array of lethal threats presented in the novels of Rusch’s Diving Universe. And the story moves at an even more dynamic and compelling pace than either of them.

An orphan who has been pushed into a military career, Opal may be a highly effective fighter but she hates taking orders or being under any kind of discipline, and has only endured it with her goal in mind. Eventually we learn what that goal is. Meanwhile, she fights her way through endless deadly situations aboard this mystery ship, protected by her armored spacesuit and its suite of ingenious weaponry. Writers have been improving on Heinlein’s Mobile Infantry gear for more than six decades, and Drinkwater brings a richly inventive imagination to the table, giving Opal the weapons of a marine, a suit of armor tailored for vacuum, visual displays worthy of a fighter plane (or maybe a video game), and the support of artificial intelligence.

One of the best and most difficult accomplishments, as the author unfolds this fast-moving action adventure, is that the two main characters – Opal and Clarissa – grow in identity and friendship. Their mutual loyalty makes the reader care about their survival. And the way the experience transforms them provides a satisfying sense of closure to this novel, while still leaving the way open for the follow-up.

[Lost Solace by Karl Drinkwater is an entry in the Self-Published Science Fiction Competition.]

Never Mind The News – File 770’s Best Feature Articles of 2021

Was the year too heavy, deep, and real? Yes, but it was also rich in creativity, humor, and shared adventures. It’s a gift and privilege for me to be continually allowed to publish so many entertaining posts. Thanks to all of you who contributed!

FEATURES

David DoeringMost Remote SF Bookstore in the World?

Meet “Book Island” in the town of Saint Denis on Reunion Island—a small speck in the vast Indian Ocean

Pierre E. Pettinger, Jr.Never Too Late To Start: Guest Post by Pierre E. Pettinger Jr.

… Like many fans, I had tried my hand with writing, especially as a teenager. I wrote notes, drew weird aliens, and even wrote a novel which will never see the light of day. But during all this I did noodle, consistently, with several recurring characters and a story line. It shifted and changed, of course, as I matured and different interests came into my life, and eventually they just settled in the back of my mind.

John HertzAt the Height of His –

… Once when [Tim] Powers was being interviewed at an SF convention someone asked “Do you actually believe in this stuff?”  He said “No.  But my characters do.”  As Gordon Bennett wrote, and Frank Sinatra sang, “This is all I ask, this is all I need.”

JJ2020 Novellapalooza

… I’m a huge reader of novels, but not that big on short fiction. But the last few years, I’ve done a personal project to read and review as many Novellas as I could (presuming that the story Synopsis had some appeal for me). …

Patty WellsLearn About SAFF, the Space Agency Fan Fund

… The mission of SAFF is to keep the factual progress of space exploration out there for our community and to help individual Worldcons and other conventions in dealing with the arrangements and funding of space experts as special guests. 

JJWhere To Find The 2020 Nebula Finalists For Free Online

To help propel you into your awards season reading, here are links to excerpts or complete works from the 2020 Nebula Award finalists.

John HertzGood Names for Bad Guys

 During 1937-1956 a radio program called “The Answer Man” was broadcast over the Mutual Broadcasting System….  

Wolf von WittingInexplicable Phenomena and How To Approach Them

… Another solved mystery was that of the vanishing pancake. A friend of mine, by profession police officer, was standing at his stove, frying pancakes. As we both did with pancakes, we flipped them around in the air. So did my friend on this day.

His mystery was that the pancake never came back down. It vanished. There was no trace of it….

A Multitude of FilersOpening Lines Rewritten for a Pandemic — By Filers

Eli Grober’s “Opening Lines Rewritten for a Pandemic” in The New Yorker humorously changes the beginnings of famous books to suit life as we knew it in the plague year of 2020…. Filers answered the challenge to add to the list. Here is a collection from yesterday’s comments….

The Dark Tower I: The Gunslinger by Stephen King

The Man in Black fled across the desert, and the Gunslinger followed, being careful to maintain a distance of at least six feet.

–Nina Shepardson

Brendan DuBoisIn Happy Pursuit of Jeopardy!

… It was the Jeopardy! gameshow display screen one saw all the time on television, in real life, just yards away, here inside the cool Sony studios.   Six rows across with the categories, columns of five numbers under each.  To the right of the large display was Alex Trebek’s podium, and nearby were the three contestant stations. 

There were sixteen of us here, and before the end of the day, all of us but one would have our thirty minutes of fame — or infamy — in this very special place.

But how did I get here?

John HertzAnother Well-Titled Book

Glorious, the Greg Benford – Larry Niven novel appearing last year, is one of the more ambitious SF stories.  

Rich LynchRocket Boy

… The model took off and rose straight up for maybe 100 feet or so before the second stage kicked in, but then there was trouble.  Instead of continuing its upward flight, the thing veered to the right and zoomed away horizontally, slightly descending all the while.  It went directly over a house across the street and continued on, neatly bisecting the span between two tall trees behind the house.  And then it was gone from sight.  I remember that my uncle gave me a quizzical look and asked, “Was it supposed to do that?”…

IphinomeFour Reviews by Iphinome

Reading. That’s what I do, I read and I snark things.

IphinomeIphinome Reviews Novik’s A Deadly Education

El (Galadriel) is pissed off. Her classmate Orion just rescued her for the second time –needlessly. She’s capable, more than capable, El’s powerful – El, power, get it? Get it?…

Lyrics by Aydrea Walden and Jocelyn Scofield“All Because of You” Lyrics from the Nebula Awards Ceremony

But then I had a spark, a realization
While floating here all by myself
I’m actually in the best of company
Because you’re on my shelf

Mark L. BlackmanDeath and Doom (and Cats) at the KGB Bar with Seanan McGuire and Nadia Bulkin

On the evening of Wednesday, June 16, 2021, the Fantastic Fiction at KGB Reading Series, hosted by Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel, presented authors Seanan McGuire and Nadia Bulkin in livestreamed readings on YouTube. (Neither reader is running for Mayor of New York.)

This is the 16th month of virtual readings, in place of in-person reading at the eponymous bar in the East Village in Manhattan, noted Kressel. New York City may be “open,” added Datlow, but they don’t yet feel comfortable “going into the crowd” at the Bar for at least a few more months….

Mike GlyerSmell Like A Superhero

Is there a science fiction movie character you want to smell like? Forget Swamp Thing, c’mon, he’s not in Fragrance X’s catalog. Otherwise, there’s no end of superhero and genre branded colognes you can buy.

Sara FelixWhy I Work on Worldcon: Guest Post by Sara Felix

There was a post a while ago on twitter that asked, “So what motivates y’all to continue entering bids to host Worldcons? Genuinely curious.”

And I responded with, ”I think there are some great bids out there like Glasgow 2024 that you can genuinely tell they are enthusiastic and want to put on a good show.  Working on Dublin was like that for me as well.  I am not saying they are perfect but the excitement is really important.”

But that is just the tip of the iceberg of what I wanted to say…

Cat EldridgeLeague of Extraordinary Gentlemen Film Anniversary: Celebrate or Not?

… Now back to Connery. The film would leave him with such a bad experience that claimed he the production of the film and the film’s final quality was what he caused his decision to permanently retire from filmmaking, saying in an interview with The Times that, “It was a nightmare. The experience had a great influence on me, it made me think about showbiz. I get fed up dealing with idiots.”

Martin Morse WoosterSpace Jam: A New Legacy – A Review

Space Jam:  A New Legacy is a fun-free synthetic entertainment substitute.  Its many writers (six are credited) created a screenplay from artificial sweeteners, high fructose corn syrup, and gas….  

Mark L. BlackmanTwo Too-Near Futures from Kim Stanley Robinson and Nancy Kress

… Datlow asked Robinson, “How can you be so optimistic?” He replied that his mother was; she felt that it was our duty to be optimistic and to help people….

Mike GlyerLe Guin Stamp Issued Today

The Ursula K. Le Guin commemorative Forever stamp was officially unveiled today during a ceremony at the Portland (OR) Art Museum.

Steve VertliebCelebrating The Wonderful Nehemiah Persoff At 102

… I began to wonder whatever became of this marvelous actor and so, before retiring for the evening, I started to research Mr. Persoff’s whereabouts on my computer. As luck would have it, I found him and wrote him a rather hasty letter of personal and lifelong admiration. To my shock and utter astonishment, he responded within five minutes….

Melanie StormmEmails From Lake Woe-Is-Me: Links To Every Installment

Stormm began her humorous series about the misdirected emails she gets from Writer X in August and has done 17 regular and two bonus installments. It swirls together comedy, horror, and the pitfalls of being a writer.

Robin A. ReidWriting Against the Grain: T. Kingfisher’s Feminist Mythopoeic Fantasy

The purpose of this presentation is to place Tolkien’s theory of mythopoeic fiction in dialogue with fantasy series by T. Kingfisher in order to argue that her work is feminist and mythopoeic. While there are a number of elements of Kingfisher’s fiction that are relevant to my purpose, I’ll be focusing on two: her version of Faërie and system of magic, and her portrayal of female characters whose relationships are with failed warrior heroes….

Brian Z.A Modest Proposal for the Very Retro Hugo for Genre-Related Work

The talk of time capsules and 1000-year M-discs in the Pixel Scroll 8/12/21 discussion of item (16), the Louis XIII Cognac 100-year sci-fi film vault, got me thinking that Worldcon should do Hugos for Best Genre-related Work Created 1000, 2000, 3000, 4000, 10,000, 20,000, 30,000 and 40,000 years ago….

Sultana RazaHergé’s Multi-Layered Worlds

… Considered to be a genius by many, not only was Hergé skilled at drawing, he was also good at fascinating his readers with mysteries, and intriguing situations. For example, why was Prof. Calculus going into the heart of a volcano, following the agitated movements of his pendulum, instead of running away, like all the others? Perhaps he was so oblivious to his real surroundings, and was so desperate to find the cause of the wild swinging of his pendulum for the sake of science, that inadvertently, he was willing to risk his very life. Or was he running away from mundane reality? And why did Tintin rush back to save his friend from going deeper in the maze of the mountain? Possibly because that was Tintin’s nature, to rescue not just the innocent people of the world, but it also showed his deep friendship with the absent-minded professor….

Robert RepinoConsequences as an Engine of Storytelling: A Guest Post by Robert Repino

…After watching [John Wick: Chapter 3], my friends and I got some drinks at a nearby bar. There, I found myself repeating a single word from the movie: “Consequences.” Wick utters this word whenever one of the characters points out that his past may have finally caught up with him. Since I like to drive jokes into the ground, I began to say “Consequences” in response to everything that night, in a poor imitation of Wick’s scratchy voice. Why did we need to buy another round? “Consequences.” Why should someone else pick up the tab? “Consequences.” And maybe I should call out sick tomorrow? “Consequences.”…

Mike GlyerHallmark Rolls Out 2021 Ornaments

Right after the Fourth of July might not be when I shop for Christmas ornaments, but somebody does, because that’s when Hallmark runs its Keepsake Ornament Premiere.

If the timing is for the convenience of retailers, there is also a certain logic in picking a spot on the calendar that is as far away as you can get from a date associated with Christmas trees. It’s plain some of these ornaments are intended for a Halloween or Thanksgiving tree, while others probably are destined never to decorate a tree at all but to remain pristine in their original wrapping on collectors’ shelves….

Craig MillerPreview of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures

In, I believe, 1927, the Academy of Motion Pictures was founded.

In 1929, they decided there should be a museum of motion picture history and memorabilia.

In three days, a little shy of a hundred years later, the Academy Museum will open to the public….

Martin Morse WoosterReview: Museum of the Bible

Continuing my reports on museums that might be of interest to Filers coming to Washington for DisCon III, I offer a report on the Museum of the Bible, which I visited recently.  (I had a Groupon!)…

Glenn HaumanOh, The Place We Boldly Stop.

The Dr. Seuss Enterprises lawsuit against us is finally over….

Esther MacCallum-StewartCOP26 and Glasgow in 2024

… COP26 has produced an enormous impact on Glasgow….

Sultana RazaFan or Spy?

… I couldn’t help thinking of the passage from The Lord of the Rings, where the Crebain go searching for the Fellowship. In fact, there are many birds as spies in fantasy fiction, such as the Three-Eyed Raven, the, One-eyed Crow, or Varamyr Sixskins warging into an eagle in A Song of Ice and Fire, to mention a few…. 

Mike GlyerShould the Best Series Hugo Category Be Kept?

The Best Series Hugo category was added to the WSFS Constitution in 2017 with a sunset clause requiring a future re-ratification vote to remain part of the Worldcon Constitution. That vote happens next week at the DisCon III Business Meeting. If you were there, would you vote yes or no on keeping the category?

Shana WorthenTwas the Night Before DisCon III

Then down the long hall there arose so much chat,
that I sprang from my chair to see what was that?
Through archways, past plant pots, I slipped through the throng
as the loud murmuration came strolling along.

Colin HarrisThe World in Worldcon

… In reality, China is a huge country with a vast population and an expanding middle class; an enormous SF field and well established fandom. Chengdu is an established international convention site as well as a centre for science and technology.

I rather suspect that from the Chengdu bid’s viewpoint, the US-centric history of Worldcon is at odds with the very name of the event and its claim to be the leading global celebration of the genre. I do not need to believe there is anything suspicious about the bid, because it only needs a tiny percentage of Chinese fans to get behind it to make it a success….

Sultana Raza (and others)International Interactions with Tolkien – A Roundtable

Though Tolkien’s novels were very successful in the last century, after the Peter Jackson trilogy in the early 2000s, their reach increased to encompass the globe. Irrespective of geographical or linguistic differences, they spoke to us in different ways. In an informal Discussion Group at Oxonmoot 2021, (held online), participants were welcome to share their thoughts/reactions/ take on various aspects of Tolkien’s works, mainly his Legendarium….

Mike GlyerThe Twenty Percent Solution: A Self-Published Science Fiction Competition Judge’s Upvotes

… Based on reading 20% of Team File 770’s assigned books, I found there are actually 12 I’d say yes to – so I am going to need to cut two more before I finalize this list….

TRIGGER SNOWFLAKE

The saga of Sheriff Trigger Snowflake, the lovely Coraline, and the shenanigans of the Solarian Poets Society added several chapters this year that were not so much ripped-from-the-headlines as amused by the news.

Ingvar Trigger Snowflake and the Election

… Trigger put his cup down, as he saw Coraline wave a paper in the air.

“Trigger!” she said, “Look at this! Look who’s standing for president!”

IngvarTrigger Snowflake and the Dessert

A few days later, down at the Coffee Emporium, Trigger was having breakfast. A nice cup of Bean of the Day and a grilled synthecheese. As he finished the last bite of the synthecheese, Barbara Dimatis walked up to his table.

“Sheriff Snowflake, may I sit?”

“Why, sure, Ms Dimatis. What troubles you?”

“You’ve heard of Bistro Futuristo? Well, turns out that the editor and owner of Futuristo Magazine has made an announcement.”…

Ingvar Trigger Snowflake and the Grand Reopening

“Sheriff! Sheriff! Have you heard?”

“No, Ms Dimatis, I don’t believe I have?”

“The Bistro has re-opened!”

“Bistro Futuristo?”

INTERVIEWS

Brandon Sanderson WFC 2020 Interview Highlights – Conducted by David Doering

Far Sector Round Table with N.K. Jemisin – Conducted by James Bacon and others

CHRIS BARKLEY

ConStellation Hat. Photo by Craig Glassner/Pinterest/Hat of the Day

… Needless to say, I have witnessed or participated in a number of remarkable, bizarre and historic incidents during my tenure working at Worldcons. I not only know how the sausage was made, I helped make it as well….

… Before I reveal my BDP Hugo Nomination Ballot choices, let’s contemplate these ten outstanding films from 2020…

So forget about what the naysayers are saying; Zack Snyder’s Justice League is a big, exciting, sprawling, violent, intense, profane, beautiful and ultimately moving film.

DECLASSIFIED! Seven Secret and Untold Stories From the Worldcon Press Office

CONVENTION REPORTS

Commemorative button.

CHRIS BARKLEY’S DISCON III REPORTS

Ride along with Chris at this year’s Worldcon, everywhere from major events to favorite restaurants.

JAMES BACON

In addition to reviewing comics and graphic novels, James used his camera and descriptive abilities to take us along on visits to all kinds of fascinating exhibits and pop culture events.

CATS SLEEP ON SFF

OBITUARIES

[date of publication]

Team File 770’s 30 Books for the Self-Published Science Fiction Contest

The inaugural Self Published Science Fiction Competition (SPSFC) judging teams have now been assigned their books — here are the titles, authors and covers of the works that will be judged in the first round by Team File 770 – Cora Buhlert, Rogers Cadenhead, Sarah Duck-Mayr, and Mike Glyer:

SPSFC art by Tithi LuadthongLogos designed by Scott (@book_invasion)

Self-Published Science Fiction Competition Is Filling Fast

Hugh Howey’s Self-Published Science Fiction Competition (SPSFC) is now taking submissions. Are you an indie science fiction writer looking for a wider audience? Check the guidelines here – the slots are filling fast. Earlier today, Howey tweeted: “We have blown past the 300 submissions we were looking for. Once we get to 400, we will close the window and begin sorting these amazing books for the review teams.”

The contest is modeled after Mark Lawrence’s Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off, which just named its sixth winner in May, and has his blessing.

File 770 is one of the 10 reviewing teams that will participate in the judging. Our team members are:

Cora Buhlert was born and bred in Bremen, North Germany, where she still lives today – after time spent in London, Singapore, Rotterdam and Mississippi. Cora has been a science fiction fan for as long as she can remember and a File 770 commenter and occasional contributor since 2015. Cora is a two-time Hugo finalist for Best Fan Writer and blogs about old and new SFF at www.corabuhlert.com, at Galactic Journey and elsewhere. When Cora is not writing or blogging, she works as a translator and teacher. She also edits the Speculative Fiction Showcase blog. Twitter: @CoraBuhlert

Rogers Cadenhead is a computer book author, ServiceNow software developer, science fiction fan and popesquatter. He’s voted in the Hugo Awards for over a decade, been a member of FAPA and Capa Alpha, and contributes news to File 770. He blogs at Workbench. Twitter: @rcade

Sarah Duck-Mayr says: “I have always been a bookworm, fell into book reviews from a lucky tweet that gained traction. Been riding that high for almost 2 years. I hope to do this for as many as I can.” See Sarah’s reviews here at Goodreads. Twitter: @DedDuckie

Mike Glyer edits the fan newzine File 770, winner of eight Hugos as Best Fanzine. He also has won four Hugos as Best Fan Writer. As a book reader, he looks to sf writers for clues to the changes that are coming, other ways to look at life, and better ideas for facing the future. Twitter: @File_770

SPSFC art by Tithi Luadthong. Logos designed by Scott (@book_invasion)

Pixel Scroll 5/3/21 The 770 File Cabinets Of Dr. Credential

(1) LEARNING ABOUT RUSSIAN SFF. Clarkesworld presents “A Brief History of Russian Science Fiction” by Alex Shvartsman.

It’s telling that the Russian term used to describe speculative fiction doesn’t distinguish between science fiction and fantasy. The word is fantastika —the literature of the fantastic. It is used equally to reference the Three Laws stories of Asimov and the Middle Earth tales of Tolkien. It is this lack of distinction—combined with Russia’s rich heritage of fairy tales and its rigorous education in mathematics and the sciences—that may be responsible for so many genre-bending tales penned by Russian-speaking authors, which have become classics of world literature. The history of Russian fantastika is inseparable from the history of Russia itself, and the political, economic, and social forces that have shaped it over the course of the twentieth century….

(2) WORLDCON FUNDAMENTALS. The World Science Fiction Society (WSFS) – unincorporated – is the umbrella organization that awards the right to host Worldcons and sets the Hugo rules. Cheryl Morgan asks “Is WSFS Fit for Purpose?” at Salon Futura.

…The problem is that WSFS suffers from what we in the Diversity & Inclusion business called “Status Quo Bias”. When the existing system happens to favour one particular segment of a population over others, that system will be seen as grossly unfair. There will be pressure for change. And if change is impossible within the system, the aggrieved parties will look to leave that system for an alternative, or to destroy it.

The accepted wisdom is that if you want to change WSFS then you have to do so through the Business Meeting. But the way that works, with the time commitment and necessity of understanding Parliamentary Procedure, is itself a form of Status Quo Bias. Kevin [Standlee] can help people who want to create a new Hugo Award category, but I suspect that no amount of help will be enough for people who want to recraft the entire governance process of the Society.

Furthermore, mollifying upset fans is not the only reason why this should be done. We live in an increasingly corporate world. WSFS is not a corporate animal, and other corporations simply don’t know how to deal with it. Relatively simple things such as selling advertising in the souvenir book, or soliciting sponsorship, become much more complicated than they need to be because WSFS itself has no corporate existence, and external organisations have to deal with a different company each year. Being proudly unincorporated is all very well, but it makes it hard to do business….

Just one note before leaving this open to discussion – when the Worldcon is held in the U.S. the “different company each year” has for many years been a nonprofit corporation organized by the bidders under state corporation and federal tax laws.

(3) ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST. James Davis Nicoll’s Young People Read Old SFF panel take on Robert Bloch’s “That Hell-Bound Train.” And are young people impressed by this 1958 Hugo-winning short story? You’re kidding, aren’t you?

(4) STORY OF A LATE ADOPTER. Debarkle is Camestros Felapton’s work-in-progress chronicle of the history and consequences of the Sad Puppy/Rabid Puppy Kerfuffle. He’s added a chapter that does a good job of capturing what I’ve tried to do with File 770 since issue #1: “Debarkle Chapter 29: Dramatis Personae — Mike Glyer & File 770”. For instance:

…The point is not that the fanzine was a paragon of feminism or even progressive politics but rather that a newszine had a responsibility to engage with issues of the day and in the process, the editor had to get to grips with those issues also….

(5) D & DEITY. James Davis Nicoll’s busy day continues with “Five Fantasy Novels Featuring Gods and Religious Sects” for Tor.com.

In the days of yore, if I wanted to buy a table-top roleplaying game, I had to travel to Toronto, the nearest major city. If I wanted inked dice, I had to hand-ink them myself. If I wanted fellow gamers, I had to shape mud into human form and breathe life into my golems (oops, no, I couldn’t do that, sometimes I just wished I could).

In those days, most TTRPGs treated gods as a sort of theological ConEd for wandering clerics. Gods had different names and superficial attributes, but otherwise their cults were much of a muchness, with no actual doctrinal differences.

One notable exception was Chaosium’s RuneQuest, particularly those supplements set in Greg Stafford’s gaming world of Glorantha….

(6) ABOUT THOSE FREE FANZINES. When David Langford learned that the N3F had started including copies of Ansible among the fanzines they were emailing to their distribution list it was news to him. And not welcome news, as Langford made clear:

Dear N3F President,

I’m told that the N3F is distributing PDF copies of Ansible in a bundle of “Free Fanzines from the N3F” without having asked my permission. Permission is not granted. You are welcome to circulate links to individual issues on the Ansible site at news.ansible.uk, but not to copy the issues themselves to others.

N3F President George Phillies wrote back an apology. That probably puts the matter to rest.

(7) JUNG OBIT. Actor Nathan Jung died April 24 at the age of 74. Deadline has the story —  

Jung began his acting career in 1969 with a role as Genghis Khan in “The Savage Curtain” episode of the original Star Trek.

In the 1990s, he had stints on Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman…His other [genre] film credits include Big Trouble in Little China, Darkman, The Shadow….

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born May 3, 1896 Dodie Smith. English children’s novelist and playwright, best remembered for The Hundred and One Dalmatians which of course became the animated film of the same name and thirty years later was remade by Disney as a live action film. (Saw the first a long time ago, never saw the latter.) Though The Starlight Barking, the sequel, was optioned, by Disney, neither sequel film (101 Dalmatians II: Patch’s London Adventure and 102 Dalmatians) is based on it. Elizabeth Hand in her review column in F&SF praised it as one of the very best fantasies (“… Dodie Smith’s sophisticated canine society in The Hundred and One Dalmatians and The Starlight Barking…”) she had read. (Died 1990.) (CE) 
  • Born May 3, 1901 – John Collier.  Three novels, twoscore shorter stories for us; poetry; screenplays, teleplays; two dozen short stories adapted for television by others.  Collection Fancies and Goodnights won an Edgar and an Int’l Fantasy Award.  (Died 1980) [JH]
  • Born May 3, 1928 Jeanne Bal. In Trek’s “The Man Trap” episode, she played Nancy Crate, a former lover of Leonard McCoy,  who would be a victim of the lethal shape-shifting alien which craves salt. This was the episode that replaced “The Cage” episode which the Network really didn’t like. She also had one-offs in Thriller and I-Spy. (Died 1996.) (CE) 
  • Born May 3, 1939 Dennis O’Neil. Writer and editor, mostly for Marvel Comics and DC Comics from the Sixties through the Nineties, and was the Group Editor for the Batman family of titles until his retirement which makes him there when Ed Brubaker’s amazing Gotham Central came out. He himself has written Wonder Woman and Green Arrow in both cases introducing some rather controversial storytelling ideas. He also did a rather brilliant DC Comics Shadow series with Michael Kaluta as the artist. (Died 2020.) (CE) 
  • Born May 3, 1946 – Elizabeth Horrocks, age 75.  Three novels for us.  Won at the British television programme Mastermind, her subjects Shakespeare’s plays, works of Tolkien, works of Dorothy L. Sayers.  [JH]
  • Born May 3, 1951 – Tatyana Tolstaya, age 70.  One novel, three shorter stories for us available in English; for others outside our field, see here; hosted a Russian television-interview show a dozen years.  Great-grandniece of literary giant Leo Tolstoy.  [JH]
  • Born May 3, 1962 – Stephan Martiniere, age 59.  Two hundred seventy-five covers, fifty interiors.  Artbooks Quantum DreamsQuantumscapesVelocityTrajectory.  One Hugo, two Chesleys; two BSFA (British SF Ass’n) Awards.  Here is Heavy Planet.  Here is Dozois’ 22nd Year’s Best SF.  Here is Betrayer of Worlds.  Here is The Three-Body Problem.  Here is The Poet King.  [JH]
  • Born May 3, 1969 Daryl Mallett, 52. By now you know that I’ve a deep fascination with the nonfiction documentation of our community. This author has done a number of works doing just that including several I’d love to see including Reginald’s Science Fiction and Fantasy Awards: A Comprehensive Guide to the Awards and Their Winners written with Robert Reginald. He’s also written some short fiction including one story with Forrest J Ackerman that bears the charming title of “A Typical Terran’s Thought When Spoken to by an Alien from the Planet Quarn in Its Native Language“.  He’s even been an actor as well appearing in several Next Gen episodes (“Encounter at Farpoint” and “Hide and Q”) and The Undiscovered Country as well, all uncredited. He also appeared in Doctor Who and The Legends Of Time, a fan film which you can see here if you wish to. (CE) 
  • Born May 3, 1980 – Jessica Spotswood, age 41.  Three novels, one shorter story, one anthology (with Tess Sharpe) for us.  Works for Washington, D.C., Public Library.  Has read five Anne of Green Gables books, three by Jane Austen, The Strange History of the American QuadroonThe CrucibleWe Should All Be Feminists.  [JH]
  • Born May 3, 1982 Rebecca Hall, 39. Lots of genre work — her first role was as Sarah Borden in The Prestige followed by being Emily Wotton in Dorian Gray and then as Florence Cathcart in The Awakening which in turn led to her being Maya Hansen in Iron Man 3. Next up? Mary in Roald Dahl’s The BFG. Is she done yet? No as next up is the English dub of the voice of Mother of Mirai no Mirai.  She might’ve wanted to have stopped there as her most recent role was Dr. Grace Hart in Holmes & Watson which won an appalling four Golden Raspberries! (CE) 
  • Born May 3, 1984 – Ian Bristow, age 37.  Four novels, two shorter stories, a dozen covers.  Here is The Interspecies Poker Tournament.  Here is Contact.  Here is The Gaia Collection.  [JH]
  • Born May 3, 1985 Becky Chambers, 36. I’m currently listening to The Galaxy, And The Ground Within which is most excellent. Her Wayfarers series won the Best Series Hugo at Dublin 2019: An Irish Worldcon. (A Closed and Common Orbit was on the final list at WorldCon 75 for Best Novel but lost out to another exemplary novel, N. K. Jemisin’s The Obelisk GateRecord of a Spaceborn Few would be on the ballot at Dublin 2019 but lost out to yet another exemplary novel, Mary Robinette Kowal’s The Calculating Stars.) (A digression: The Wayfarers are the best series I’ve listened to in a long time.) “To Be Taught, if Fortunate” was a finalist at ConZealand in the Best Novella category but lost out to “This Is How You Lose the Time War” by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone. (CE) 

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • Non Sequitur follows an outfit that knows their truth is out there. Maybe.
  • Heathcliff doesn’t look very superheroic – that’s what makes him so dangerous.
  • Maximumble shows why not all AI want to be more like humans.

(10) FAMILY TIME. Get your tissues ready. “Marvel Studios Celebrates The Movies” on YouTube is something Marvel Studios put together (with words by Stan Lee) about the importance of seeing MCU movies in theatres, along with a list of forthcoming MCU releases for the next two years.

The world may change and evolve, but the one thing that will never change: we’re all part of one big family.

(11) THE FATES OF THREE GENRE SHOWS. SYFY Wire says don’t change that channel – unless you want to watch Pennyworth: “The CW renews Stargirl & Kung Fu; HBO Max eyes Pennyworth pick-up”.

Stargirl will continue to shine bright on The CW with a third season, the network announced Monday. The DC show’s renewal also came with the news that Christina M. Kim’s Kung Fu reboot has scored a second, butt-kicking season. Stargirl‘s sophomore season is scheduled to kick off this summer, while Kung Fu is in the middle of airing its debut batch of episodes (the premiere garnered over 3.5 million audience members when it first dropped in early April)….

“STARGIRL SEASON 3!!!” Brec Bassinger, Stargirl‘s leading lady, wrote on Twitter. “I get to go be with my star fam another year.”

“Thank you to everyone who has been tuning in to our little show,” tweeted Olivia Lang, who headlines Kung Fu. “We hope we’ve made your lives brighter and brought joy into your homes.”

Elsewhere, Epix’s Batman prequel, Pennyworth, could score a third outing of its own, but not on Epix. According to a new report from Deadline, HBO Max is mulling over a decision to pick up the DC-inspired series about a young British spy (Jack Bannon) who will one day become the butler of Wayne Manor…. 

(12) THE PAST THROUGH TOMORROW. Brett Molina reviews the updates Atari: “Remember Atari? We played its latest video game console, Atari VCS” at Yahoo!

It is 2021, and I’m not playing on an Xbox, PlayStation or Nintendo Switch. I’m playing Atari.

This isn’t an old Atari 2600 previously collecting dust in a closet or an emulator I found online. It’s a fresh home video game console: the Atari VCS.

Having spent some time playing Atari VCS, it’s easy to get trapped by the nostalgic feelings of popping in my “Asteroids” or “Missile Command” cartridges. However, the VCS delivers plenty of modern touches such as wireless, rechargeable controllers and Wi-Fi support for downloadable games.

The Atari VCS is available to preorder for $399.99 and includes the console, a wireless modern controller and a wireless classic joystick.

(13) REAL HANDWAVIUM. The New York Times reports “These Materials Could Make Science Fiction a Reality”.

Imagine operating a computer by moving your hands in the air as Tony Stark does in “Iron Man.” Or using a smartphone to magnify an object as does the device that Harrison Ford’s character uses in “Blade Runner.” Or a next-generation video meeting where augmented reality glasses make it possible to view 3-D avatars. Or a generation of autonomous vehicles capable of driving safely in city traffic.

These advances and a host of others on the horizon could happen because of metamaterials, making it possible to control beams of light with the same ease that computer chips control electricity.

The term metamaterials refers to a broad class of manufactured materials composed of structures that are finer than the wavelength of visible light, radio waves and other types of electromagnetic radiation. Together, they are now giving engineers extraordinary control in designing new types of ultracheap sensors that range from a telescope lens to an infrared thermometer.

“We are entering the consumer phase for metamaterials,” said Alan Huang, the chief technology officer at Terabit Corporation, a Silicon Valley consulting firm, who did early research in optical computing during his 12 years at Bell Labs. “It will go way beyond cameras and projectors and lead to things we don’t expect. It’s really a field of dreams.”

The first consumer products to take advantage of inexpensive metamaterials will be smartphones, which will improve their performance, but the ability to control light waves in new ways will also soon enable products like augmented reality glasses that overlay computerized images on the real world….

(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Mortal Kombat (2021) Pitch Meeting” on ScreenRant, which has spoilers, the producer explains he’s heard of the Mortal Kombat video game because “you mash a lot of buttons and someone’s spine explodes.  Then you need a lot of therapy.”  Also one character’s laser eye powers are discovered “by arguing about egg rolls” with another character.

[Thanks to Michael Toman, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Andrew Porter, Kendall, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, John Hertz, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Walter Jon Williams Q&A
About Fleet Elements and the Praxis Series

Walter Jon Williams at Worldcon 75 in Helsinki (2017). Photo by Henry Söderlund.

WALTER JON WILLIAMS is the winner of two Nebulas and a five-time Hugo nominee. His most recent books are The Sundering, The Praxis, This Is Not a Game, and Quillifer. In 2006, Williams founded the Taos Toolbox, a two-week writer’s workshop for fantasy and science fiction writers. He was the guest of honor of the 2017 Worldcon in Helsinki. Williams lives near Albuquerque, New Mexico, with his wife, Kathleen Hedges.

File 770 reviewed his latest book, Fleet Elements here.

MIKE GLYER: Fleet Elements is the latest novel in your Dread Empire’s Fall series. (Which I confess to thinking of as the Praxis series.) You once told an interviewer, “As for the Shaa, for now they’re all dead, but I reserve the right to alter reality at any point.” They’re still dead in Fleet Elements, yet you’ve managed to shed new light on them and turn their history into a mystery that might be important to solve. Other authors – Larry Niven, for one – talk about having to be careful that new stories that don’t violate some already-established part of their series’ universe. How do you overcome that challenge?

WALTER JON WILLIAMS: I keep copious notes, I try to re-read the books before starting a new one, and I have complex plot outlines on legal pads, with different colors for different characters, and lots of arrows and diagrams.  Then I just cross my fingers and hope I don’t make a mistake.

(By the way, I call it the Praxis series, too.)

MG: A series balances the familiar with change and growth. What’s your strategy for character development?

WALTER JON WILLIAMS: Character development is a consequence of trauma, so I try to keep my characters as traumatized as possible. 

MG: The demise of the Shaa, of course, is the event that kicks off the Praxis series. Until then, the various sentient races of the Empire enjoyed a kind of equality in their subordination to the Shaa. When one of them tried to move into the power vacuum, humans were still aligned with the other nonhumans. But in the latest arc they’re on their own. Although milestone space operas from the Lensman Series to Starship Troopers to Ender’s Game set up genocidal conflicts between humans and aliens, that hasn’t been characteristic of your series before now. Are you going there, or will the end game somehow weave all these species together again?

WALTER JON WILLIAMS: I don’t really want to offer spoilers on whether the human race is exterminated by the end of the series.  That’s giving away a little much.

At the end of the current series there will be an adjustment to the political system, which may well set up more conflict farther down the line.  Plus I also guarantee more character-developing trauma for my characters.

MG: On one level the science fiction genre is a conversation, where writers see what’s gone before and say “I’d love to tell more stories like that” or “No, can’t you see how wrong that extrapolation is?”  Who are some of the authors who inspired your interest in writing a space opera series like this, for either of those reasons?

WALTER JON WILLIAMS: This is going to sound odd, but my inspirations for the Praxis books include Herodotus, Polybius, Livy, Cassius Dio, Edward Gibbon, and Thomas Babington Macauley, all historians writing on an epic (and at present unfashionable) scale.  From them I learned how to tell a vast, complex story against a background of Deep History.

I might as well add HG Wells to that list, not only for the inevitable influence of his scientific romances, but for his concept of history.

MG: You have penned several different series – in fact, after reading The Accidental War I not only sought out the rest of the Praxis books, I proceeded to read most or all the books in four other series. And I see readers commenting on my blog about their hopes that you’ll do another Metropolitan book, another Quillifer, another Dagmar Shaw. Will you keep the Praxis series going beyond this latest arc? What are you working on now?

WALTER JON WILLIAMS: The Praxis series was originally intended to run 9-12 books (depending on when I got bored), so there will be more if the publisher so desires.  The Metropolitan series was cut short when my editor was fired and his entire science fiction line canceled, and I’ve been hoping to find an editor willing to reprint the originals and complete the series with a third book.  (And yes, I know I could self-publish the third book, and I will if I have to.)

The Quillifer series was planned for six books, though I’ve contracted only for three.  So if your readers want more of those, they should buy the hell out of the books now in the stores. 

All this said, I have the urge to write some singletons, so once I finish with my current contracts I’m going to write a stand-alone or two.

MG: What are your sources of “inspiration” beyond just the literary? Someone once asked the composer Hoagy Carmichael where his inspiration came from, and his answer was “When the check arrives.” At this point in a successful career do you have more freedom to choose what to work on?

WALTER JON WILLIAMS: While I’m not rich, I’m financially secure, and I don’t have to write anything I don’t want to.

And while I like having money, money has nothing to do with why I write.  If all I wanted was money, I’d run a hedge fund or something.  Except for a very few lucky people, a career in the arts is a perilous balancing act between inspiration and the need to pay the rent.

I have the wonderful privilege of creating something new every day.  That other people might want to read what I write is a bonus, but I’d still be writing even if I had no audience. 

And as for inspiration, usually it comes from other writers.   When I was ten years old, reading great writers made me want to write something great.  That hasn’t changed at all.

MG: How has your career changed today changed from when you were younger? What do you like or dislike about the changes?

WALTER JON WILLIAMS: I have more security now , a lifetime of experience, and a large backlist available to readers.  When I was younger I had a lot more energy, and a lot less cynicism. 

The thing I most dislike is people assuming they know all there is to know about me.  After all, I’m over fifty, right?  I must have nothing interesting left to say.

I would like to submit that these people are wrong.

MG: What is one life lesson or writing skill you’re glad to have a chance to pass on through the Taos Toolbox?

WALTER JON WILLIAMS: What I tell my students is that they should be writing because they love it.  Any other reason— money, fame, ticking off something on your bucket list— is inadequate, and will lead to disappointments. 

You can’t control what shape your career will take— it could be killed by a single failure on the part of someone in production (which has happened to me).  You can’t predict the readers’ reaction to your work.  Odds are good that you’ll have multiple careers under multiple names, as the early careers founder (which happened to me)— but if you love the work, you’ll learn your lessons, become a better writer, and carry on. 

Which also happened to me.  Love of the work carried me through, and if you don’t do it for love, there’s no damn reason to do it at all.

Review: Fleet Elements by Walter Jon Williams

By Mike Glyer: Walter Jon Williams’ Fleet Elements – out today — is set in the same universe as his Dread Empire’s Fall series, where the demise of the ruling Shaa created a power vacuum which their subject species – including the human race – are struggling to survive. Fans reading the series’ seventh book will find out whether the biggest threat to the beloved characters they’ve met in the course of the series is the war to reunite the empire — or the actual reunion of protagonists Captain Gareth Martinez and Lady Caroline Sula.

In the series’ opening trilogy the Naxids, an insectoid species ruled by the Shaa, made a failed bid to to take their place. In this continuation, humans have been blamed for the postwar financial collapses and are threatened with destruction by the remaining powers of the empire. Martinez and his allies move first to take control of a Praxis fleet and bring on a decisive battle in hopes of saving humanity. And while the Shaa are still dead in Fleet Elements, a discovery sheds new light on them and turns their history into a mystery that might be important to solve.

Fleet Elements, like every book in the series, plunges ahead with a forward momentum that would make Miles Vorkosigan gasp. Along the way the inexhaustibly inventive Williams continually fills you in about flowers to be seen, the ecology, the art and lavish architecture, all the beauty surrounding his characters whether planetside or in space, yet the story never slows; he doesn’t feel a need to stop and admire the things he’s thought up – he’s already on to the next one.

In the universe of the Praxis wormholes facilitate interstellar travel – but voyages to and from them are at sublight speeds, raising navigation and ballistics issues worthy of Heinlein juveniles and setting up fleet battles between clouds of ships in the Lensman tradition. Characters face external challenges to their careers and physical survival, complemented by internal struggles to discover who they are, what they believe in, and to overcome adversity and setbacks

We are now in the second book of the current Praxis story arc, and our hero Gareth Martinez has been maturing into a family man despite his starcrossed attraction to Lady Caroline Sula, each playing the candle to the other’s moth. But SPOILER ALERT! Have I mentioned how much I don’t want to read about broken marriages and fathers alienated from their children?

On the other hand, Walter Jon Williams has been weaving the tragic derivoo musical tradition through Lady Sula’s whole biography. No matter how much we may be pulling for her we can hardly expect things to end well. However, they haven’t ended yet.

Lady Caroline Sula’s origin story flows from her youth around crime gangs, and a murder. As a reader I questioned why was I rooting for her criminal success? Was it because that’s so obviously the gate through which I must pass to get to the story I want to read? I asked myself the same question about Colleen McCullough’s version of Sulla, the future dictator, in The First Man in Rome series, who had to murder a woman to afford to start his career.

Lady Sula’s background reemerges, often to great advantage, like when she makes the gangsters she knows the backbone of the Secret Army that resists the first alien coup attempt. But the ones who are still alive in Fleet Elements are a complication for someone like Sula, ambitious to climb to the top.

Before the demise of the Shaa, the event that kicks off the series, the various sentient races of the Empire enjoyed a kind of equality in their subordination to the rulers. When the Naxids tried to move into the power vacuum, humans were still aligned with the other nonhumans in resisting them. But in the latest arc humans are mostly isolated and on their own. Many space operas set up genocidal conflicts between humans and aliens, however, Walter Jon Williams wasn’t telling that story before now. I look forward to the next novel to learn the fates of Martinez and Sula, and if the end game will somehow weave all the Empire’s species together again.

Q&A With Blue Helix Series Author Kathrin Hutson

Kathrin Hutson has been writing Dark Fantasy, SFF, and LGBTQ Speculative Fiction since 2000. She is a member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America and the Horror Writers Association. Kathrin lives in Vermont with her husband, their young daughter, and their two dogs, Sadie and Brucewillis.

Sleepwater Static, Book Two in the LGBTQ Dystopian SF Blue Helix Series by Kathrin Hutson was released May 26 by Exquisite Darkness Press.

Wyoming’s Sleepwater chapter is on the run, hunted for their ability to spin a beat. With little time to mourn the members they’ve lost, Bernadette Manney takes the group to the one place she swore she’d never see again: the cabin in Hollywood, South Carolina. It’s remote enough to lay low and catch a break, but not for long.

Their beats are condemned as mutations, radical terrorist tactics, and felonies punishable both by and outside the law. Bernadette thought Sleepwater would be safe here, but returning to her Southern roots unleashes more demons than she left behind.

Kathrin Hutson

MIKE GLYER: In your Blue Helix series, the condemned mutation that confers special abilities — the beat – almost floats in a colloidal suspension where it comes in contact with the profoundly human stories that you want in the foreground. Instead of a big comic book bang, we see how individuals or families relate and conflict, only with more tools that may or may not help them. The genre elements tend to be pushed to the margins while focus is on the human relationships, romances, family histories and conflicts. What what was it specifically that attracted you to science fiction and fantasy as a setting?

KATHRIN HUTSON: I’ve always been more attracted to science fiction and fantasy as genres in general, and I think that came mostly from my desire as a kid, adolescent, and young adult to escape what was happening around me in my real life. Today, I choose to write in these genre for a few reasons. First, story always comes first. For me, the story is more exciting when I can work with these genre elements (even if they’re pushed to the margins) in order to create that sort of surrealist escapism while still keeping it grounded in what we as readers are all able to identify with – fleshed-out characters and profoundly human stories. 

Second, these genres are just so dang fun. With fantasy especially, I get to work with worlds to change them and shape them in whatever way I see fit. As long as it fits the overall story too, of course. With the Blue Helix series, which is all I’ve written in the science fiction genre so far (dystopian and very “light” on the science part), I had to do a lot more research to create this world and these characters than I really have ever done for any of my other work, all of which is fantasy. But I did choose dystopian science fiction very specifically for the Blue Helix series because of what I wanted to say within the broader context of this “condemned mutation” found in my main characters and supporting characters. Originally with Sleepwater Beat, Book 1, I wanted to create an only slightly different world from our reality — a parallel universe, if you will. I believed it was really important to be able to show these parallels between worlds in order to highlight the disparities between marginalized communities and “the majority”. So I looked at these marginalized groups – the LGBTQ community, BIPOC, drug addicts, addiction survivors, victims of emotional and physical abuse, the homeless, the disenfranchised, those struggling with mental illness, disabled peoples, and anyone living on the fringes of society — and used this fictionally marginalized group in the books who have this special-ability mutation to open a window into the injustices, double-standards, and outright ridiculousness of bigotry and discrimination in all its forms. As it turned out, this parallel universe I created and fully intended to be farther in the future (2031 in the Blue Helix series) ended up having so many eerie similarities to what the world and specifically the United States has been experiencing as each book was published. They’ve been called timely and prescient, though I think I ended up giving “the future” too much credit for being farther away than it turned out to be. 

MIKE GLYER: These books maintain a wonderful dynamic between characters on the run and rich sense of the location they’re presently in. I saw an author say he starts his stories from a sense of place—where do you start?

KATHRIN HUTSON: I start my stories from a sense of character and really getting inside their heads first. I think this is a lot easier for me to do than starting from a physical location or a sense of place because my “record” for the longest amount of time lived in one house in the last twenty years is two and a half years… and that was just recently reached in my last house in Vermont (my family moved to Colorado this past July, so now I’m starting over). One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned personally through always moving around for most of my life is that I can still be myself and carry everything I am and want to be with me, no matter where I end up. I hope that my characters provide that same feeling of “self” throughout my stories, even when these characters are fleeing across the country from persecution and holing up wherever they can find a roof over their heads for the night. Sometimes even just a car roof. But then when I have the characters down (and they don’t change who they are at the core, even with a different setting – unless it’s part of the story, of course), I get to play with bringing the setting to life almost as much as the people inhabiting it. I’ve lived in four different states in the last eight years – Colorado, South Carolina, California, and Vermont, in that order – and have gotten a decent sense of what each place feels like, what kind of people are found there, and how a physical location can play less or more or just as much of a role in the characters’ experiences as the people around them or the plot itself. But always, characters come first. And the fun lies in choosing how they do or don’t interact with the space around them when it changes. 

MIKE GLYER: In The Blue Helix series, the special gifts the characters have in common bring them together because they are persecuted. Would that thing be enough reason to organize together if they were free to express their gifts?

KATHRIN HUTSON: This is a fantastic question. My immediate reaction was actually to think, “Well, it’s common ground. Common interests. Of course we’re drawn to other people like us.” But is that really the reason for gathering with like-minded individuals when we aren’t facing danger, persecution, and hatred simply for personal traits, beliefs, orientation, skin color, age (you name it) that we have no control over whatsoever? 

I think there are two different reasons for these characters with “the beat”, who later joined to form the organization Sleepwater, to come together as they do in these series. Before their ability was weaponized, demonized, and relegated to something the rest of the world was told over and over again to fear and hate, yes. Beat-spinners gathered together to listen to each other’s individual abilities and form a sense of community around what made them different. Even when the rest of the world wouldn’t understand or had no idea of what they could do. There’s always a chance that “being different” will give others who fall under “normal” (like there’s even such a thing as “normal” anyway) a reason to taunt, make fun of, villainize, or otherwise act out against us. Take the overused (and sometimes still very real) trope in any YA entertainment media where high school is involved. We have “the nerds”, and even though “the nerds” get picked on by “the jocks” (or insert whichever high school clique you like) for being who they are, they still come together to play videogames, trade comic books, play chess, etc. because that’s a part of who they are. And they enjoy those parts of themselves (to be clear, I’ve done all of those things but play chess. I did, however, play D&D in high school, so there’s that). And in this hypothetical high-school setting, being “a nerd” isn’t necessarily a life-threatening “label” to carry. Sure, it makes things more difficult sometimes. I’m fortunate enough to have been “a nerd” in high school and still didn’t experience any bullying because of it, so I can say that seeking out like-minded individuals with similar interests and abilities in a relatively safe environment does absolutely exist. 

On the other hand, when the danger and the discrimination become so wildly disproportionate to whatever makes us “different”, then yes. There is more of a reason to band together – for support, encouragement, hope, and to remind ourselves that we’re not alone in our struggles, even when it feels like we’re being persecuted for who we are on a core, raw human level. I wish more people had the opportunity to experience community in the former arena, i.e. within safe spaces and because we are drawn to people like us, even during good times. That’s part of the reason I wrote this series in the first place. 

MIKE GLYER: Who was your favorite character to write?

KATHRIN HUTSON:  I love this question, because the answer surprised me so much. While each of the characters in the Blue Helix series were phenomenally fun to write (and gave me more insight into myself and my understanding of the nearly infinite scope of individual human experiences), the character I enjoyed writing the most was Donna. And when I set out to write Sleepwater Static, Book 2, I had no idea that I would be writing her as much as I did. Honestly, I expected her to remain a mentioned side-character in the pen-pal letters between the main character Bernadette and her best friend Janet. But then I realized I needed to put Bernadette and her boyfriend Darrell into a room with Janet and Donna to explore some more ideas of interpersonal relationships I was playing with, and it happened more than once. 

Donna is a sharp-witted, charismatic, well-educated, affluent, biracial lesbian living in Vincent, Alabama in the 1980s who also happened to have this beat-spinning ability herself. She is Janet’s partner through most of the book, and she later becomes the spearhead of a revolutionary movement/rebellion by a group of people with this same “mutant ability” even before the rest of the world knew what Sleepwater and people like them could do. She was so much fun to write precisely because she is so complex, and not always in a good way. I wanted to write her in as a character (including that full description above) that I found lacking in speculative fiction when it comes to BIPOC characters, especially in the South and especially in the ’80s. And while Donna knows how to play a room to her full advantage, how to win people over with her gorgeous smile and her go-get-’em attitude, how to organize and stoke the fires of inspiration and action in others, she’s one of the most insecure characters in this series. She’s manipulative, sensitive, emotionally abusive toward Janet at times, and terrifyingly territorial. Nothing stops her, and she’ll do whatever it takes to circumvent any obstacle standing between her and what she wants, even if it happens to be her own partner. I didn’t intend to use writing Donna and Janet’s relationship as a way to juxtapose a “seemingly normal” relationship that’s actually quite dysfunctional with a purely healthy, loving, respectful relationship we see between Bernadette and Darrell. But as I kept writing, that’s what it became. And it served another purpose “layer” of showing how impossible and senseless it really is to “judge a book by its cover” – or, in this case, to judge a person by physical, economic, financial, and intellectual status. I also really love writing sharp-edged characters you can’t help but admire and appreciate even after seeing glimpses of their “masochistic side”, and Donna most definitely fits that bill. 

MIKE GLYER: Have you ever received any pushback from editors or readers when you’ve included marginalized characters in your stories?

KATHRIN HUTSON:  
This was one of the things that I was actually quite nervous about experiencing when I wrote both Sleepwater Beat and Sleepwater Static. Fortunately, I haven’t gotten any blowback whatsoever. In some ways, that still throws me for a loop, and I’m always expecting that feedback to come down the line at one point or another (I’ll chalk it up to knowing I have to have that “thick author skin”, and if I’m expecting it, it’s not that heavy of a blow when it happens). But so far, the worst feedback I’ve received from anyone — and it was a reader — was “some people may like reading about the seedier sides of other people” but the story “wasn’t happy enough”. That garnered me a two-star review for Sleepwater Beat, which I was actually thrilled to receive. I did not in any way set out to write this series with the intention of making it a happy-go-lucky sci-fi read with action and intrigue thrown in for fun. That’s just not what I write. And even though it was a two-star review, it still solidified in my mind the belief that I’m writing exactly what I want to write with this series. Not everyone is going to enjoy it. Not everyone wants to read fiction about “the darker underbelly of society” that just isn’t “happy enough”. And that’s okay. The people who do want to read it, like myself, appreciate it for what it is. 

I was especially nervous about the potential for negative feedback when I wrote Sleepwater Static, because in addition to touching on the marginalized communities I explored and shed light on in Sleepwater Beat, Book 2 in this series also focuses a lot on racism, racial discrimination and injustice, interracial relationships and families, and the difficulties BIPOC face on an every day basis. The closest I felt I could respectfully get to touching on these issues, as a white woman who’s been the target of other forms of discrimination but not those based on skin color, was to write from the perspective of a main character who: is a white woman; has been the target of discrimination but not discrimination based on the color of her skin; is in a healthy romantic relationship with a black man in the South and has a child with him; and finds herself willing to do whatever she can to protect the people she loves, even if she happens to take it too far and make mistakes she deeply regrets along the way. My editor was such a huge part of reaffirming for me that I hit the points in Sleepwater Static delicately and respectfully. The other instrumental resource in ensuring I didn’t perpetuate harmful stereotypes, cross the boundaries into acceptable representation, or get things flat-out wrong was using a sensitivity reader. Fortunately, this sensitivity reader agreed with my editor, and I didn’t have to make any changes to the manuscript. I suppose I didn’t have to agonize over doing this “the right way” for as long as I did while writing this book, either, but it was a valuable experience nonetheless. 

I recently was a guest on the Sci-Fi Saturday Night podcast with The Dome and Cam to talk about Sleepwater Static, and they told me something after the show that was so invaluable for me to hear and that I think is a pretty important nugget for any writer wanting to tackle bigger issues within a work of speculative fiction. In a nutshell, they told me that the difference between writing on a large scale like this to the same effect of standing up on a soap box with a megaphone — spouting “political or social stances” — and writing in a way that is clear, versatile, and accessible to everyone, without becoming didactic or overblown, is whether or not we as writers are tackling these issues and writing our stories from a place of anger and fear. That was a hugely enlightening moment for me. I’ve written so many of my own personal life experiences into the Blue Helix series — some of them remarkably traumatic at one point in time — after I’d already found a place within myself where that rage and that fear could be removed. Not completely ignored or erased, because I’m well aware of the fact that the causes of that rage and fear (and the work I’ve done in my own life to move past them) will always be a part of who I am. But they are detached from my writing process, and it allows me to create stories like these that don’t feel didactic or like I’m trying to “sell” readers on any particular stance. Because I’m not. This is the one of the things, in my opinion, that may be a reason why I haven’t received a lot of pushback from editors or readers of the Blue Helix series since Sleepwater Beat released in November of 2018. I just want to offer readers a chance to look at the world around them from a different perspective, maybe even to realize that they’re not alone in how they think or feel or what they’ve gone through, and in doing that, I always prioritize the quality of my craft – good story, robust characters, real moments — first.

MIKE GLYER: Corporate villains, family betrayal, chemical addiction, racism, and sexual self-discovery, aren’t just issues explored in your books, they’re decision points a character may pay the price for with their lives. In one of your bios you talk about “Happily Never Afters.” What are the keys to writing stories like this that appeal to readers who probably grew up conditioned to Disney-style resolutions?

KATHRIN HUTSON: Answering this question as so many layers I could probably keep peeling back forever. But the first thing that comes to mind is that I’m already well aware of the fact that we as writers can’t possibly appeal to everyone. Fiction would become quite bland indeed if that were the endgame. But I think that appealing to these readers who probably grew up conditioned to Disney-style resolutions is made possible through what I believe is the cornerstone of every good story, which is that human connection. Despite race, age, gender, sexual orientation, economic status, education level, religion, belief system, any and all demographics I could list here, we all have something in common. We are all living, breathing, feeling human beings who hold personal values and care about something. Appealing to this shared human experience through fiction, I believe, is the best way to reach so many more people who would otherwise not have been open to reading about these things in the first place, or maybe even reading dark fiction as an overarching genre. 

As an example, I met with a book club last year in Vermont who’d all read Sleepwater Beat beforehand. When this group came together to talk with me about the books (and it really turned into an hour-and-a-half-long discussion of them mostly describing their experiences and thoughts when reading, which was phenomenal), I was blown away by the demographics represented just in this small group — BIPOC, men, woman, straight cis-gendered men, LGBTQ people, parents, people without children, and the age rage went from 25 to 76. Each and every one of these book-club members had something to say about different parts in the book that spoke to them, touched on their own experiences, made them think differently, made them feel like they were seen and recognized, and helped them tap into the gratitude they carried for what they had in their own lives. And this was possible, I’d like to say, because of the fact that I do choose to put human relationships and “profound human stories” into the foreground of my work, especially with the Blue Helix series. We all have different experiences, and many of us break away from what we’re “conditioned” to believe, feel, think, understand simply through interactions with other humans and their experiences. I’m lucky enough to say that after everything I’ve been through in my life (and there’s plenty more of it to come), I’ve found my own version of a “happy ending”. And I think that by writing Happily Never Afters, at the very least, I may help others come to understand that reaching theirs is actually possible and not just relegated to fairytale resolutions. 

MIKE GLYER: Finally, would you like to tell us about any other new or upcoming releases you have?

KATHRIN HUTSON: This may sound like a complete 180 after answering that last question, but my next upcoming release is the first in a Dark Urban Fantasy series called Accessory to Magic. Book 1 is The Witching Vault, which will be available on December 10th, 2020. I’m trying something a little bit different with this series, going for a “lighter” approach to fiction more for entertainment purposes than the complex levels of picking apart “the human struggle” found in the Blue Helix series. But, of course, the Accessory to Magic series still has my dark spin on it and quite a bit of my own experiences peppered throughout: An apprentice witch with a criminal past inherits a magical bank that can think for itself – and the clientele are almost as dangerous as what’s inside their safety deposit boxes. 

I’m excited to see how my darkness-loving readers will react to something a little more on the fun-escapist side with a heck of a lot more snark. And, of course, I’m also working on Book 3 in the Blue Helix series, which will release in Spring of 2021. So readers have about eight months to prepare for that one, and it’s shaping up to be the series wildest ride yet. 


KATHRIN HUTSON ON SOCIAL MEDIA

Pixel Scroll 9/12/20 Seems To Lack The Necessary Imaginative Elements

(1) BRADBURY’S 1986 WORLDCON GOH SPEECH AND OTHER TREATS. History site Fanac.org has two segments of video highlights from the 1986 Worldcon in Atlanta.

ConFederation, the 44th World Science Fiction Convention, was held in Atlanta, GA in 1986, with Ray Bradbury and Terry Carr as Guests of Honor. Hosted by Eve Ackerman, this is “ConFederation (1986) Worldcon – Best of Confederation w/ Ray Bradbury Guest of Honor speech – Part 1” and includes candid scenes around the convention, an excerpt of a (very funny) performance on the recent history of SF, a little filk, and a little programming. Best of all are long excerpts from the Guest of Honor speeches. Terry Carr talks about his fannish past, and after that there are 20+ minutes of Ray Bradbury’s captivating Guest of Honor speech. Ray touches on fandom, Ray Harryhausen, John Houston, EPCOT Center and more, ending with a stirring affirmation. This is an outstanding talk by Ray Bradbury.” Thanks to Ron Zukowski, co-chair of ConFederation for permission to put this online.

“ConFederation (1986) Worldcon -Best of Confederation w/Bob Shaw, Ray Bradbury, Harlan Ellison-Part 2″ includes candid scenes around the convention, a salute to Julius Schwartz, Toastmaster Bob Shaw at the Hugos, Harlan Ellison on the Manly Wade Wellman auction (and accepting his Hugo), scenes of the Masquerade and hall costumes. There’s also the memorable non-acceptance of Judy-Lynn del Rey’s award. The video ends with the traditional closing ceremonies and thanks to the committee (including Joe Siclari who now runs the Fanac.org).

OMG – I’m in this one just after the 17-minute mark

(2) AFROFUTURIST YA PREVIEW. Gizmodo/io9 teases a preview chapter for Last Gate of the Emperor, a new Afrofuturist YA adventure from coauthors Kwame Mbalia and Prince Joel Makonnen. The book is due to be released May 4, 2021. “A Look Inside Last Gate of the Emperor, a YA Future Adventure Defined by Augmented Reality”.

In Cake Literary’s upcoming middle grade novel Last Gate of the Emperor—from co-authors Kwame Mbalia (Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky) and Prince Joel Makonnen—a young boy living in a technologically dense near-future grapples with the reality that while the world’s arguably become a more advanced and developed place, its bounty still isn’t exactly available to everyone.

(3) TARDIS MUST DODGE THE SUPER BOWL. The pandemic has forced Los Angeles Doctor Who convention Gallifrey One to call off its 2021 edition. The postponement to 2022 was announced today. The exact date in 2022 remains open, as the NFL has committed to play the Super Bowl in February in LA’s new stadium and has not fixed its own date yet.

It is with deep sadness that today we must announce that we are officially postponing the 2021 Gallifrey One convention to the first quarter of 2022, due to the ongoing worldwide COVID-19 pandemic emergency.

Gallifrey One has run successfully every year since our first event in 1990, and we’ve never intended to take a year off.  But these are extraordinary times: infection rates are climbing, there are unknown factors regarding safety and community exposure, and there have been ongoing edicts from local and county officials in our area prohibiting all mass gatherings, so this news should come as no surprise to anyone.  There is simply no way we can continue planning our event for next February with the same goals in mind, given that it’s very likely our lives won’t return to any semblance of normalcy until after a vaccine is proven effective and is widely circulated to the general population… which according to the medical community won’t be happening until at least sometime in the middle of next year.

(4) MIND IF I SMOKE? A satellite has traced smoke from the US wildfires over Northern Europe reports the German-language site Wetteronline. Here is a computer translation to English:

….For days, the smoke has been billowing over the skies of the US West Coast. In San Francisco, the sky turned into a deep red in the middle of the day. The column of smoke from a fire in California reached a record height of 17 kilometers. So far up, the particles with the jet stream can shift particularly quickly to the east, which has now happened.

A NASA satellite analysis shows how particles were transported from the west coast, first over North America and then across the Atlantic with a low pressure area. According to an analysis by the European Meteorological Satellite organization, the particles reached Central Europe on Friday.

(5) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.

  • September 12, 1993 seaQuest DSV premiered on NBC. Created by Rockne S. O’Bannon who was also responsible for Defiance and Farscape, it counted Steven Spielberg among its legion of executive producers. The actual producers were Steve Beers, Gregg Fienberg and Oscar L. Costo. The cast was large and included Roy Scheider, Jonathan Brandis, Stephanie Beacham, Don Franklin and Michael Ironside. It lasted three seasons and fifty-seven episodes but it never had great ratings and was canceled. Three novels were written during the first season, two by Diane Duane and David Bischoff. There were also comics, action figures, replica badges and even t-shirts but a seaQuest DSV never made it out of the prototype stage alas.

(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Bon September 12, 1897 Walter B. Gibson. Writer and professional magician who’s best known for his creating and being the first and main writer of the pulp character The Shadow. Using the pen-name Maxwell Grant, he wrote 285 of the 325 Shadow stories published by Street & Smith in The Shadow magazine of the Thirties and Forties. He also wrote a Batman prose story which appeared in Detective Comics #500 and was drawn by Thomas Yeates. (Died 1985.) (CE) 
  • Born September 12, 1917 – Han Suyin.  (Han is the family name.)  She never liked Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing (H. King dir. 1955; she is portrayed by Jennifer Jones) which she felt distorted her novel.  The Enchantress, her last, is ours; eight others; eight memoirs; seven historical studies including two of Mao and one of Chou (or as mainland China now prefers, Zhou).  (Died 2012) [JH]
  • Bon September 12, 1921 Stanislaw Lem. He’s best known for Solaris, which has been made into a film three times. The latest film made off a work of his is the 2018 His Master’s Voice. Both iBooks and Kindle have generous collections of his translated into English works at quite reasonable prices. (Died 2006.) (CE) 
  • Bon September 12, 1922  John Chambers. He’s best known for designing Spock’s pointed ears, and for the prosthetic make-up work on the Planet of the Apes franchise. Some of those character creations, including Cornelius and Dr. Zaius from the Planet of the Apes series, are on display at the Science Fiction Museum. He worked on the MunstersOuter LimitsLost in SpaceMission mpossibleNight Gallery and I Spy along with uncredited (at the time) prosthetic makeup work on Blade Runner. (Died 2001.) (CE) 
  • Bon September 12, 1940 John Clute, 80. Critic, one of the founders of Interzone (which I avidly read in digital form) and co-editor of the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (with Peter Nicholls) that I use every day for these Birthdays, and of the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (with John Grant) as well as writing the Illustrated Encyclopedia Of Science Fiction. All of these publications won Hugo Awards for Best Non-Fiction.and I’d be remiss not to single out for praise The Darkening Garden: A Short Lexicon of Horror which is simply a superb work.(CE) 
  • Bon September 12, 1942 Charles L. Grant. A writer who said he was best at what he called “dark fantasy” and “quiet horror.” Nightmare Seasons, a collection of novellas, won a World Fantasy Award, while the “A Crowd of Shadows” short garnered a Nebula as did “A Glow of Candles, a Unicorn’s Eye” novella. And  “Temperature Days on Hawthorne Street” story would become the Tales from the Darkside episode “The Milkman Cometh”. The usual digital suspects have decent but not outstanding selections of his works including a few works of Oxrun Station, his core horror series. (Died 2006.) (CE) 
  • Born September 12, 1942 – Marge Simon, 78.  Edited Star*Line 1991-2011.  Three Rhyslings, second woman to be named a Grand Master; two Elgins, one Dwarf Star, three Stokers, one Lord Ruthven.  One novel, seven dozen shorter stories, four hundred fifty poems, a hundred twenty covers (see herehere), three hundred interiors (see herehere).  Various co-authors including husband Bruce Boston.  [JH]
  • Born September 12, 1946 – Don Brautigam.  Eighty covers; here is Michaelmashere is the Feb 83 Asimov’shere is Virtual Light.  (Died 2008) [JH]
  • Born September 12, 1957 – Deb Vanasse, 63.  No Returns (with Gail Giles) for us, three other novels; six picture books, two nonfiction, about Alaska, where DV lived for thirty-six years.  A Distant Enemy a Junior Literary Guild selection; it and Out of the Wilderness in John Gillespie’s Best Books for Young Teen Readers.  DV and Andromeda Romano-Lax founded the 49 Alaska Writing Center.  [JH]
  • Born September 12, 1958 – Jean-Pierre Normand, 62.  Seven dozen covers, seventy interiors.  Here is Solaris 100.  Here is the Apr 04 Analog.  Here is the Anticipation (67th Worldcon) Souvenir Book.  Here is Orbiter.  Here is Polar Borealis 6.  Artbook Science Fiction Illustrations.  [JH]
  • Bon September 12, 1962 Mary Kay Adams, 58. She was Na’Toth, a Narn who was the aide to G’Kar in the second season of Babylon 5, and she would show up as the Klingon Grilka in the episodes “The House of Quark” and “Looking for par’Mach in All the Wrong Places” in Deep Space Nine. (CE)
  • Born September 12, 1989 – Jorge Jacinto, 31.  Seven covers for us; much else.  Here is Beneath Ceaseless Skies 112.  Here is Le monde du fleuve.  Here is Bücherköning.  Here is his card for Invoke Prejudice.  He’s Portuguese, so here is a a port and here is a ship.  Website here.  [JH]

(7) SFF-INSPIRED MUSIC. Bandcamp, which is a site for selling music from independent musicians and labels, has highlighted nine Asian electronic musicians who have been inspired by speculative fiction.

Electronic music has historically had an uneasy relationship with narrative. While rock was elbowing its way into the category of “serious music” with the concept album, house and techno preferred to emphasize the kinesthetic utility of organized sound. Early producers often avoided the album format entirely, focusing instead on 12’’ singles that could be easily slotted into DJ sets, prioritizing emotional resonance over cerebral stimulation.

One notable exception, however, is electronic music’s association with speculative fiction, the system of literary genres that imagine alternate futures and realities. From the mystic Alvin Toffler-inspired futurism of techno progenitor Cybotron to the cli-fi storyline that underpins Grimes’ most recent album, there’s a rich tradition of computer-made music meditating on the technology that made it. Considering that electronic music almost by definition sounds futuristic, it’s perhaps unsurprising that its creators are so often interested in what that future will look like.

This tradition is being made richer by the recent explosion of electronic music created by East and Southeast Asian artists. Forward-thinking labels like CHINABOT and Do Hits have established brilliant rosters of producers either living in or hailing from Asia, all of whom are putting their own stamp on the genre’s decades-long dialogue with speculative fiction. In contrast to their more Eurocentric peers, these artists often incorporate components of Asian folklore and spirituality into their work, which are as likely to feature guzheng or suona samples as they are drum machines and synthesizers….

(8) BLOCKED FOR A REASON. Adam-Troy Castro is among those rejecting the Facebook Unblock Challenge:

Lots of people are saying, “Hell no,” to the “Facebook Unblock Challenge,” this widely spread meme that insists we should unblock all the people we barred from our Facebook activities and then apologize to them.

The thing is, people seem to be treating this as if it’s merely someone’s piss-poor Utopian idea.

No. It is not that. It is worse.

It is trolling.

It is a stone attempt, possibly connected with the election, to gaslight those of us who didn’t want racists or trolls or abusive pieces of shit in our lives

…Well over a hundred people who I quite rightly decided, for one reason or another, I didn’t need on my page. And that is not all that many. I cited the number to Stonekettle’s Jim Wright once and he told me that it was downright adorable.

I’ll tell you what “Unblock and Apologize” is all about. It is an attempt — possibly Russian — to get good people to self-gaslight, to wonder if they were truly fair in all those cases where they had to dropkick people, to delete their asshole filters and to endure all that bullshit ALL OVER AGAIN. There is a reason it is taking place before the election. It is so the piece of shit you barely remember, who you blocked for advocating genocide, or something of equal vileness, can have access to you again. It is an attempt to break you.

This is not just a stupid idea. This is a disinformation campaign.

(9) WINNING ASTRONOMY PHOTOS. The Guardian published a gallery: “Astronomy photographer of the year (2020) winners – in pictures”.

Images of the Milky Way, California nebula and Andromeda galaxy are among the winners of the Insight Investment astronomy photographer of the year award. An exhibition of the winning pictures can be viewed at National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, south-east London, from 23 October

(10) THE LAST TAKEOFF OF JONNY QUEST. StrucciMovies makes a case that “Adult Swim just cancelled the best show on television.” CONTENT WARNING.

“What if a raunchy parody of Jonny Quest and other old school adventure cartoons grew into one of the richest, funniest, and most human shows on television? What if two pop culture geniuses and their tiny crew spent 17 years and seven seasons crafting a show that quickly grew tired of making fun of its world and instead chose to invest in it with layered mythology, complex characters, and fascinating mysteries? What if the crude animation of the early seasons evolved into quietly beautiful work, showcasing stunning action, brilliant character designs, and a downright cinematic framing? The Venture Bros. was the quiet miracle of Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim line-up, an always-evolving magic trick that was never content to sit still. A silly cartoon that learned to let its characters, and stakes, matter.”

(11) VIDEO OF THE DAY. A tribute to the late Diana Rigg.

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, John Hertz, Cora Buhlert, N., Rob Thornton, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Anna Nimmhaus.]