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

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

Gene Wolfe is a tricky writer to discuss.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(9) MEMORY LANE.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oddly enough it is not streaming on Disney +. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

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

(11) COMICS SECTION.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Correct question: Who is Jules Verne?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pixel Scroll 9/25/22 It’s Raining Marshmallows! And The Unicorns Are Spearing Them!

(1) STAR WARS AMID REAL WARS. “Darth Vader’s Voice Emanated From War-Torn Ukraine”Vanity Fair details how and why it was done.

Bogdan Belyaev was working from home when the air raid sirens went off. They hadn’t been heard in the city of Lviv since World War II, but it was February 24, and Russia had just invaded Ukraine. “When we heard that missiles were attacking and that our [internet] connection was dropping from parts of our country, we got into shelter,” says Belyaev. That meant him, his wife, and their dog and two cats huddling in the center of their building. “It’s a ‘shelter,’ really in quotes because it was actually our bathroom,” he says. “There is a rule of two walls. You need to be behind two walls. The first wall is taking the impact, and the second one is stopping the small shrapnel.” But for Belyaev, work carried on because he needed it to. People on the other side of the world were relying on him, and the project was the culmination of a passion he’d had since childhood: Star Wars.

Belyaev is a 29-year-old synthetic-speech artist at the Ukrainian start-up Respeecher, which uses archival recordings and a proprietary A.I. algorithm to create new dialogue with the voices of performers from long ago. The company worked with Lucasfilm to generate the voice of a young Luke Skywalker for Disney+’s The Book of Boba Fett, and the recent Obi-Wan Kenobi series tasked them with making Darth Vader sound like James Earl Jones’s dark side villain from 45 years ago, now that Jones’s voice has altered with age and he has stepped back from the role. Belyaev was rushing to finish his work as Putin’s troops came across the border. “If everything went bad, we would never make these conversions delivered to Skywalker Sound,” he says. “So I decided to push this data right on the 24th of February.”

Respeecher employees in Kyiv also soldiered on while hunkered down. Dmytro Bielievtsov, the company’s cofounder and CTO, got online in a theater where tabletops, books, and more had been stacked in front of windows in case of blasts. Programmers “training” the A.I. to replicate Jones’s voice and editors piecing together the output worked from corridors in the interior of their apartments. One took refuge in an ancient brick “basement” no bigger than a crawl space.

Back at Skywalker Sound in Northern California, Matthew Wood was the supervising sound editor on the receiving end of the transmissions from Ukraine. He says that they hired Respeecher because the vocal performances that the start-up generates have an often elusive human touch. “Certainly my main concern was their well-being,” says Wood, who is a 32-year veteran of Lucasfilm. “There are always alternatives that we could pursue that wouldn’t be as good as what they would give us. We never wanted to put them in any kind of additional danger to stay in the office to do something.”…

(2) THE VOICE OF THE PEOPLE. Charles Payseur takes up the “Fan vs. Pro” debate about contenders for the fan Hugos at Quick Sip Reviews“Quick Sips 09/23/2022”

… “What kind of fan work should be recognized by the Hugo Awards?” If you answer “the kind of fan work that is underappreciated and deserves recognition” then I’m sorry, that’s not what a popular vote award is going to give you by definition. Already appreciated fans, fanzines, fancasts, and fan artists are going to have the advantage because by virtue of having fans of their own, they’ll get more votes. If you want awards that will seek to award people doing thankless and vital work, you’re going to need a juried award (both steps, too, because even a juried first stage, popular vote second stage is going to probably favor already popular fans).

And I could propose that we get together and create The Fannies (bwahahahaha), but that again is avoiding the question again. “What kind of fan work should be recognized by the Hugo Awards?” Like with all the other categories, the answer is that we should recognize the fan work that was the most popular in a given year. Yes, platform will effect that a lot. Money will effect that a lot. But unless we’re going to seek to correct for wealth, access, and privilege across all the Hugo categories, singling out the fan awards without reckoning with the current shape and state of SFF fandoms is pointless at best. Might as well just say with your whole voice that you don’t think specific finalists or winners DESERVE the recognition. At which point everyone can see what it is you’re really doing….

(3) GONE INDIE. Brian Keene is moving into indie all the way. He tells why in this interview with Bloody Disgusting: “Manhattan On Mars – Horror Author Brian Keene Launches His Own Publishing Imprint”.

BD: What led you to first consider launching an imprint?

BK: J.F. Gonzalez and I had often talked about doing this, but we were both of a generation where making this sort of transition was seen as crazy talk. So we never did. But even after he died, the idea was there in the back of my brain, gnawing and gnawing. And I started watching authors younger than me, whom I admire, and the success they were having making the plunge. Two of them are thriller writer Robert Swartwood and horror/sci-fi writer Stephen Kozeniewski. They were who finally convinced me to make the move. Rob got me to see that with the size of my audience and fan base, it was ridiculous not to do this.

For the entirety of my career, other companies — big and small — have had partial ownership of my rights and my intellectual properties. And these days, IP is king. These corporations aren’t paying for books or films or comics or video games. They’re paying for IP. I want to fully own my IP again. Now, obviously, I’m not talking about the properties I’ve worked on for others — stuff like Aliens, Doctor Who, The X-Files and all of the Marvel and DC Comics stuff. That’s somebody else’s IP and I was paid to play with it. But I’ve got over fifty books and over three hundred short stories of my own. Why should somebody else get a cut of those profits and a share of the ownership when the technology and infrastructure exists for me to produce them myself and get them into stores and the hands of readers?

And I should stress, I have a great relationship with most of my current publishers. But when I reached out to each of them individually and told them this was the direction I wanted to go, they all understood. They get it. This is what’s best for my remaining years, and for my sons.

And that’s what it comes down to, really. My sons. I turn fifty-five this week, and while I’m in relatively good health (despite the misadventures of my first fifty years), I can also hear that mortality clock ticking. I don’t plan on leaving yet, but most of us don’t really get a say in that, you know? Surprises happen. When I’m gone, I don’t want the executor of my literary estate having to chase down royalty checks from twenty different sources, and I don’t want my sons to have to share my intellectual property with a bunch of other people. By bringing everything in house, they’ll have total control over all of that.

(4) CENSORING FOR POWER. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Washington Post, YA sf writer David Levithan, who PEN America rates as the 11th most censored author in the US, says censorship ultimately won’t prevail and supporters of free expression will win. “Standing up to the new censorship”.

… What I’ve come to believe, as I’ve talked to authors and librarians and teachers, is that attacks are less and less about the actual books. We’re being used as targets in a much larger proxy war. The goal of that war isn’t just to curtail intellectual freedom but to eviscerate the public education system in this country. Censors are scorching the earth, without care for how many kids get burned. Racism and homophobia are still very much present, but it’s also a power grab, a money grab. The goal for many is a for-profit, more authoritarian and much less diverse culture, one in which truth is whatever you’re told it is, your identity is determined by its acceptability and the past is a lie that the future is forced to emulate. The politicians who holler and post and draw up their lists of “harmful” books aren’t actually scared of our books. They are using our books to scare people….

(5) AGE OF EMPIRES AGING WELL. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times, Chris Allnutt discusses a tournament for Age Of Empires II, first released in 1999, with a $200,000 prize and how older games still get big prizes at tournaments.

It is, by and large, older titles–those that have had longer to build a competitive scene and tweak their game mechanics–that dominate the most lucrative tournament rosters.  Data 2 continues to top the table for e-sports prize money, with about $48 million up for grabs in 2021, eight years after its initial release.  Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (2022) and League Of Legends (2009) earned players $21 million and $8 million respectively.  That’s nearly a third of all 2021’s prize money.

As a franchise, Age Of Empires speaks particularly well to the penchant for nostalgia. The series has spawned four games in total, with Age Of Empires IV released last year. But the second game still boasts the higher player count on Steam.

(6) FINAL WRITE-A-THON RESULTS. The Clarion Workshop Write-a-Thon raised $6,713.34 this year. The majority of the funds will go to scholarships for the Clarion Class of 2023. Forty-four writers participated in the Thon this year.

(7) HAVE A CUPPA. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] Here is a nice article from Stewart A. Shearer about the rise of cozy fantasy: “Orcs, Coffee, and the Rise of Cozy Fantasy” at Side Quest.

… While [Travis] Baldree wrote Legends & Lattes for his own satisfaction, the book has still gone on to be a genuine hit. Even months later, it’s holding strong in some of Amazon’s most competitive fiction markets. It’s currently the 19th most popular book on the retail giant’s competitive Romantic Fantasy list. It’s also number five in the LGBQT+ Fantasy category.

If there’s one place where its influence has been most deeply felt, however, it’s the realm of “cozy fantasy.”

Inspired directly by Legends & Lattes, enthusiastic readers established the CozyFantasy community on Reddit. Since its inception in May 2022, r/CozyFantasy has added more than 5,000 subscribing members. The community sees hundreds of posts  every week from people sharing reviews, looking for recommendations, and eager to chat about their favorite works from the sub-genre.…

(8) PYTHON ALUM PALIN’S NEW BOOK. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times, Sir Michael Palin discusses his newest book, Into Iraq, which also is part of a series that was broadcast on Channel 5 beginning on September 20.

In September 2019 I went into Bart’s Hospital in London for open-heart surgery (during which a mitral valve was repaired and an aortic valve replaced0, but within a few months I was feeling not only better but bolder too, and looking at my atlas again with a renewed confidence. Before I could rush to the nearest airport, however, the world hit the pause button.  Airports emptied and the world fell silent…

…On a bright morning, we gathered outside the Rixos hotel in the town of Duhok.  “Candle In The Wind’ was playing in the lift as I checked in the previous night, and ‘Hey Jude’ as I sat down to breakfast.  Shielded from the road by blast barriers, we were briefed by James Willcox, whose company Untamed Borders socializes n taking people to places most other people don’t want to go.  Standing beside him was Peter, ex-army, accompanying us as security and medical escort.  No one suggested that he was here because I was so old, but I couldn’t help sensing that he was keeping an eye on me.  I, in turn, was determined to pretend I was 29, not 78.

If you want a signed copy, Palin will happily send you one through his website.

(9) TOM MADDOX HEALTH UPDATE. Tom Maddox’s wife Mary told his Facebook followers he’s had a stroke:

Tom is in the hospital (ICU) after having a severe stroke. He is unconcious and may not wake up the doctors say at present. The doctor told me if he lives he will go to a nursing home for critical care. I am beyond grief stricken and am going everyday to the hospital and he is restless but when I am there he sleeps peacefully.

(10) TOM CHMIELEWSKI (1952-2022). Science fiction writer Tom Chmielewski died in June at the age of 70. The family obituary is here.

He worked in the field of journalism beginning in 1975, and worked at the Kalamazoo Gazette from 1987-1997. After leaving the Gazette, he worked as a part-time instructor at WMU; started a monthly publication called Great Lakes Stage, which covered theatre in the Midwest; and served as editor of Trains.com, an online publication based in Milwaukee that covered model railroading, one of his passions.

He was a member of the Clarion workshop class of 1984. He served as Treasurer to the Clarion Foundation from 2016-2022, where he did tremendous work behind-the-scenes for the Foundation, including supporting their Thon fundraiser for numerous years.

He published his first novel Lunar Dust, Martian Sands in 2014 through his company, TEC Publishing, followed by two more novels in his Mars trilogy, Rings of Fire and Ice (2018), and The Silent Siege of Mars (2019). He created and released an audio drama, “Shalbatana Solstice,” a prequel to his first novel, that was later broadcast by the BBC.

Chmielewski is survived by his brothers and sisters-in-law, four nieces and a nephew, and his former wife, Susan Lackey.

Contributions may be made to the Tom Chmielewski Memorial Fund, which is designated for older writers who wish to attend Clarion, set up in his honor by the Clarion Foundation. To make a donation, go to theclarionfoundation.org (if donating online, designate your contribution for Tom’s fund by sending an email to info@theclarionfoundation.org. You may also mail a check made out to The Clarion Foundation to 716 Salvatierra St., Stanford, CA 94305-1020.)

(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.  

1987 [By Cat Eldridge.] Thirty-five years ago, what might indeed be the sweetest damn film ever released premiered today in The Princess Bride. Yes, I’m biased. 

Based off the exemplary novel of fourteen years previously by William Goldman who adapted in the film here, I need not detain the story here as I know there’s not a single individual here who’s not familiar with it. If there is anyone here with that hole in their film education, why are you reading this? 

It’s streaming on Disney + right now and you can rent it pretty much everywhere. Go and then come back here! 

It’s a very sweet love story, it’s a send-up of classic adventure tales, it’s a screwball comedy, it’s a, well, it’s a lot of things done absolutely perfectly. Did I mention sword fights? Well I should.

I fell in love with The Princess Bride when Grandfather played by Peter Falk repeated these lines from the novel: “That’s right. When I was your age, television was called books. And this is a special book. It was the book my father used to read to me when I was sick, and I used to read it to your father. And today, I’m gonna read it to you.” A film about a book. Cool!

Yes, they shortened the title of book which was The Princess Bride: S. Morgenstern’s Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure, The “Good Parts” Version. But unwieldy for a film. Though a stellar book title indeed. 

There are very few films that successfully adapt a book exactly as it written. (Not looking at you the first version of Dune or Starship Troopers.) The only one I’ve seen that did was Like Water for Chocolate off the novel by Laura Esquivel. That Goldman wrote the script obviously was essential and the cast which you know by heart so I’ll not detail here were stellar in their roles certainly made a difference.

Rob Reiner was without doubt the director for it and the interviews with him have indicated his love for the novel.

That it won a Hugo at Nolacon II was I think predestined. I won’t say it magical, no I take that back, in many ways it was magical. And I think that it was by far the best film that year. My opinion, yours of course might well be different.

Only six percent of the audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes don’t like it. Ponder that. 

Deluxe one-sixth scale figures of the cast members are starting to be released. You can stage your own version of the film. 

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 25, 1919 Betty Ballantine. With her husband Ian, she created Bantam Books in 1945 and established Ballantine Books seven years later. They won one special World Fantasy Award for professional work in 1975 and another one shared with Joy Chant et al for The High Kings which is indeed an amazing work. ISFDB lists just one novel for her, The Secret Oceans, which I’ve not read. Who here done so? (Died 2019.)
  • Born September 25, 1930 Shel Silverstein. Not sure how he is SFF but ISFDB lists him as such for his Every Thing On It collection and a handful of aptly named poems, and I’m more than thrilled to list him under Birthday Honors. I’m fond of his poetry collection Where the Sidewalk Ends and will also note here A Light in the Attic if only because it’s been on “oh my we must ban it now attempts” all too often. So what do you think is genre by him? (Died 1999.)
  • Born September 25, 1932 J. Hunter HollyHer various book dedications showed she had a strong love of cats. I’ve not encountered her novels but she wrote a fair number of them including ten genre novels plus The Assassination Affair, a novel in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. franchise. Only The Flying Eyes novel by her is available from the usual digital suspects. (Died 1982.)
  • Born September 25, 1946 Felicity Kendal, 76. She plays Lady Clemency Eddison in the the Tenth Doctor story, “The Unicorn and The Wasp”, one of my favorite Who tales which I reviewed at Green Man here. She recently played Baroness Ortsey in the new Pennyworth series. And though it’s definitely really not genre, I’m noting her role in Shakespeare-Wallah, story of a family troupe of English actors in India, just because it’s a fascinating story.
  • Born September 25, 1951 Mark Hamill, 71. OK, I’ll confess that my favorite role of his is voicing The Joker in the DC Universe. He started doing this way back on Batman: The Animated Series and has even done so on other such series as well. Pure comic evilness! Oh, and did you know he voices Chucky in the new Child’s Play film? Now that’s really, really creepy. 
  • Born September 25, 1952 Christopher Reeve. Superman in the Superman film franchise. He appeared in the Smallville series as Dr. Swann in the episodes “Rosetta” and “Legacy”. His Muppet Show appearance has him denying to Miss Piggy that he’s Superman though he displayed those superpowers throughout that entire episode. (Died 2004.)
  • Born September 25, 1977 Clea DuVall, 45. A long genre history if we include horror (and I most gleefully do) — Little Witches, Sleeping Beauties, Ghosts of Mars and How to Make a Monster. Series appearances include Buffy the Vampire Slayer, a main role on Carnivàle as Sofie Agnesh Bojakshiya (loved that series), a recurring role as Audrey Hanson on Heroes, and though we didn’t see it, she was in the unsold television pilot for the never to be Virtuality series as Sue Parsons, she had a recurring role in American Horror Story: Asylum as Wendy Peyser, and finally another recurring role in The Handmaid’s Tale as Sylvia.
  • Born September 25, 1983 Donald Glover, 39. A cast member of Community as Troy Barnes, a series that is least genre adjacent. His first genre appearance is in The Muppets film as a junior CDE executive. He also appeared in a season 43 episode of Sesame Street as famous musician LMNOP. And then there’s the minor matter of being in Solo: A Star Wars Story as someone called Lando Calrissian, Spider-Man: Homecoming as Aaron Davis and then voicing Simba in The Lion King. Not bad at all.

(13) COMICS SECTION.

  • The Flying McCoys shows Superman trying to come up with a new theme song.
  • Sally Forth shows why it’s hard to decide which super-power to wish for.
  • Dilbert is told how he can help robot sales.

(14) CROSSING SPACE VIA WINDMILL. Literary Hub invites you to “Watch the first episode of a forgotten 1970 TV adaptation of Don Quixote . . . set in space.”

For about two months in 1970, ITV aired episodes of a bonkers science fiction comedy series based (oh so very loosely) on Miguel de Cervantes’ literary classic Don Quixote. The show, entitled The Adventures of Don Quick, follows an astronaut named Don Quick (Ian Hendry) and his sidekick, Sam Czopanser (Ronald Lacey), who are part of an “Intergalactic Maintenance Squad” that sends them, each episode, to try to “maintain” or otherwise improve alien planets—which usually do not at all need their help, and whose citizens range from bemused to quite irritated by the intrusion.

Fun fact: Angela Carter, the queen of feminist fairy tales herself, was once commissioned by ITV to write the script for an episode of the show, which was (alas!) never produced….

(15) LEAP YEARS. “’Quantum Leap’ revival to address Sam’s leap into Magic” reports SYFY Wire.

Did you know the character played by Ernie Hudson in NBC’s Quantum Leap revival goes back more than 30 years within the world of the show?

Herbert “Magic” Williams first appeared in the original iteration of the series in the 1990 episode entitled “The Leap Home, Part II,” where Dr. Sam Beckett (Scott Bakula) travels back to the days of the Vietnam War, leaping into the body of Herbert “Magic” Williams, who served in the same Navy SEALs platoon as Sam’s older brother, Tom.

This will actually be addressed by Williams in the fourth episode of the revamp. “[Magic] does explain, from his point-of-view, that leap,” showrunner and executive producer Martin Gero (Blindspot) teased during a recent interview with TVLine. “Ernie [Hudson] gives this phenomenal monologue. It’s so beautiful. It might be my favorite scene of this first chunk [of episodes]. It’s really, really special.” He also went on to tease an adventure in the Old West — circa the 1870s — come Episode 5. “We’re telling some stories that have not been told about the West, and that is very exciting for us.”

(16) HOLMES ON THE RANGE. “Millie Bobby Brown’s Detective Service Is Open for Business in ‘Enola Holmes 2’ Trailer”. Yahoo! cues up the film —

…Poor Enola is still facing down misogynist creeps in this new trailer. After opening her very own detective agency, people are still uncertain of her crime-solving abilities. Cut the girl some slack! Hasn’t she gone through enough? Still, folks beg to be assigned to her older brother Sherlock (Henry Cavill), reliant on his wits instead of hers.

“While I have not a single case, Sherlock’s latest seems to be vexing him,” Enola tells us. Cut to Sherlock playing a sad violin, panicking over his inability to crack the case.

Not only does Enola have a sad big bro to fix, she does have a big case to prove herself as a professional sleuth….

(17) REVISIT AN EIGHTIES OPEN FILK SESSION. Fanac.org has posted video from when Julia Ecklar was the special filk guest at Tropicon 8, held in Dania, Florida, in 1989. This recording captures the second part of an open filk at the convention, and includes 11 songs (of which Julia sings seven). 

The singers in order of appearance are: Julia Ecklar, Linda Melnick, Dina Pearlman, C.J. Cherryh, Francine Mullen, and Doug Wu.

This includes much of the conversation between songs, the laughter and the real feel of a 1980s convention filk session. 

One lovely addition is that Linda Melnick signs on one of the songs, as well as sings. 

Another bonus – this video includes several songs by Orion’s Belt, which consisted of Dina Pearlman, Francine Mullen and Doug Wu. 

Tropicon was a small convention, and you will see some of the author guests in the filk. That’s Tropicon 8 GoH Lynn Abbey sitting next to C.J. Cherryh for example, and Joe Green sitting back against the wall…

Thanks to Eli Goldberg for sound editing on this recording and for the details in the song listing. 

(18) WORRIES. Some say this is feminist sf in the vein of The Stepford Wives“Don’t Worry Darling”.

Alice (Pugh) and Jack (Styles) are lucky to be living in the idealized community of Victory, the experimental company town housing the men who work for the top-secret Victory Project and their families. The 1950’s societal optimism espoused by their CEO, Frank (Pine)—equal parts corporate visionary and motivational life coach—anchors every aspect of daily life in the tight-knit desert utopia. While the husbands spend every day inside the Victory Project Headquarters, working on the “development of progressive materials,” their wives—including Frank’s elegant partner, Shelley (Chan)—get to spend their time enjoying the beauty, luxury and debauchery of their community. Life is perfect, with every resident’s needs met by the company. All they ask in return is discretion and unquestioning commitment to the Victory cause. But when cracks in their idyllic life begin to appear, exposing flashes of something much more sinister lurking beneath the attractive façade, Alice can’t help questioning exactly what they’re doing in Victory, and why. Just how much is Alice willing to lose to expose what’s really going on in this paradise? An audacious, twisted and visually stunning psychological thriller, “Don’t Worry Darling” is a powerhouse feature from director Olivia Wilde that boasts intoxicating performances from Florence Pugh and Harry Styles, surrounded by the impressive and pitch-perfect cast.

(19) GLASS ONION NEWS. Rian Johnson introduces a clip from his sequel to Knives Out – “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery — Exclusive Clip”.

(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Trailers: Nope,” the Screen Junkies, in a spoiler-packed episode, says that Jordan Peele is one of the few directors trying to preserve cinema “in a world dominated by corporate IP.”  Daniel Kaluuya is “the oldest young man ever” and Nope is “an old-fashioned Black cowboy movie.”  But while Peele is geeky enough he has an Akira reference as an Easter egg, much of the film shows “we’re so emotionally stunted that we can only process trauma through old SNL references.”

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