Pixel Scroll 5/21/22 The Appertainment of Item-Fifth

(1) MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE. Cora Buhlert rocked Twitter with another #MastersOfTheUniverse action figure photo story. Thread starts here. Don’t miss it!

(2) GENRE BOOKS TARGETED FOR BAN. The Washington Post’s Hannah Natanson says two Virginia Republican state legislators have asked courts to ban Maia Kobabe’s graphic novel Gender Queer and Sarah J. Maas’s fantasy A Court Of Mist And Fury from Virginia Beach libraries and prohibit Barnes and Noble from selling the book to children under 18.  A Court Of Mist And Fury has also been placed on book-banning lists in Florida, Idaho, and Texas. “Virginia Republicans seek to prevent Barnes & Noble from selling ‘Gender Queer’ and ‘A Court of Mist and Fury’”.

… The request for restraining orders comes two days after retired judge Pamela Baskervill issued a ruling in the suit finding “probable cause” that both books qualify as obscene. Per a little-known and little-used section of Virginia law, the judge’s formal declaration of obscenity opened the pathway for Anderson to request the restraining orders. A retired judge is ruling because the other judges in Virginia Beach recused themselves, according to Anderson….

(3) WANT LIST. Walker Martin has posted his “Windy City Pulp Convention 2022 Report” at Mystery*File.

…I’ve been collecting now for over 65 years and I don’t need much anymore, but I always find something. This year I’m rebuilding some of my sets such as All Western and Dime Detective. I found several copies of each that I need plus an Ace High from 1926 that I’ve been looking for.

   One of the problems of collecting for a long time is that you start to run out of things to collect. Most of my wants are very odd and hard to find, such as the five Sea Stories I lack. There were 118 and I have 113, so it’s not too likely that I’ll find issues I need. Same thing with Western Story and Detective Story. I only need a few issues of each for complete sets, but I’ll probably never find them. But you never know. I never thought I’d find all 444 All Story either but I did….

(4) DO NOT PASS GO. “Stranger Things Season 4 Spoiled by Monopoly Game; Creators Angry at Netflix” says The Hollywood Reporter. The game images are not linked at the article. Nevertheless, BEWARE SPOILERS.

Images have leaked online from an official Monopoly board game tie-in pegged to the long-awaited new season of the retro sci-fi hit….

…Netflix wasn’t happy about the mishap. But they weren’t nearly as displeased as the show’s creators, the Duffer brothers, who sources say weren’t consulted about the game. Matt and Ross Duffer have long valued maintaining story secrecy and were said to have had a “total meltdown” about the mishap.

A Reddit thread devoted to the leak claimed the game was bought at “a nationally recognized retailer and purchased fair and square by a consumer. Nobody stole it; nobody leaked a sample.” Those purchase details are unconfirmed, however. Retailers are currently advertising Stranger Things Monopoly games pegged to past seasons, though a couple purported copies of the season four version are being advertised on eBay….

(5) THE FIRST EIGHT MINUTES. Now that we’ve said all those bad things about spoiling the next season of Stranger Things, we’ll hypocritically link to SYFY Wire’s invitation to watch the “Stranger Things 4 season premiere sneak peek” – an eight-minute clip.

The fourth season of Stranger Things is still a week away, but you can whet your appetite for ’80s nostalgia with the first eight minutes from the premiere, which opens in September 1979 and brings back Matthew Modine as Dr. Brenner (one of the lead scientists at Hawkins Laboratories who helped Elven hone her abilities). A de-aged Millie Bobby Brown also makes an appearance, but we won’t be spoiling any of the specifics beyond that because it’s pretty chilling stuff.

(6) NOT JUST ANY CRANK. Anyone who cherishes the days of mimeographed fanzines will appreciate Rob Hansen’s photos documenting his visit to “The Roneo Sculpture”.

For over a year now I’ve been visiting Roneo Corner in East London, so named because it was the site of the former duplicator factory. Though it’s not why I travel to the area I usually also shop in the Tesco supermarket there which is considerably larger than my local one with a consequently more varied range of foodstuffs. Where the entrance to the car park branches off from the main road is a triangle on which they planted a tiny wood. I’d never paid much attention to this, but today for some reason I did – and discovered a sculpture of a duplicator!

(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1985 [By Cat Eldridge.] The Ray Bradbury Theatre which first aired thirty-seven years ago on this night had a complicated broadcast history.  It had first ran for two seasons on First Choice Superchannel in Canada and then HBO in the United States from 1985 to 1986, and then on the USA Network for four more seasons from 1988 to 1992 with those episodes also being broadcast on the Global Television Network in Canada from 1991 to 1994.

It was created by Bradbury and starred him with whatever guest stars there were that week. I’ve written up an essay on one such episode, “Gotcha”, and that gives a good look on the feel of these stories. I’d say they’re much lighter, much gentler that The Twilight Zone ever was.

All sixty-five episodes of the Ray Bradbury Theatre were written by Ray Bradbury, based on short stories or novels he had previously written. Obviously they were not exact adaptations of the stories or novels as they had to fit into twenty-three minute long story format. 

Name your favorite actor and it’s likely that he or she appeared here. Why even Captain Kirk did! Well William Shatner did in “The Playground” as Charles Underhill. The short story first appeared in Esquire, October 1953 before making its first book appearance in Dark Carnival and then appearing in The Illustrated Man.

So what do critics think of it? Most liked it, a few though it, well, hokey. A few hated it which suggested they needed a serious attitude adjustment. 

I think personally think that Orrin Grey of The Portalist summed it up best so I’m going to use just his comment here: “If you’re a fan of the legendary science fiction writer and you’ve never seen the show, it’s an opportunity like no other to see the master’s work adapted to the screen by his own hand. If you’re new to Bradbury, it’s a perfect primer for what you can expect from his inimitable short stories.” 

That photo below which is used at beginning of the episodes is the real office of Bradbury. How cool is that? 

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born May 21, 1889 Arthur Hohl. He’s Mr. Montgomery, the man who helps Richard Arlen and Leila Hyams to make their final escape in Island of Lost Souls, the 1932 adaptation of H.G. Wells’ The Island of Dr. Moreau which is considered the first such filming of that novel. Genre adjacent or genre depending on how generous you are, he’ll show later in The Adventures of Sherlock HolmesThe Three Musketeers and The Devil-Doll. (Died 1964.)
  • Born May 21, 1903 Manly Wade Wellman. I remember reading the John the Balladeer collection thatKarl E. Wagner did and then seeking out the rest of those stories. Absolutely amazing stuff! I also read The Complete John Thunstone a few years back — strongly recommended as it’s quite stellar. What else by him should I read? (Died 1986.)
  • Born May 21, 1917 Raymond Burr. Speaking of lawyers, we have the Birthday of the man who played Perry Mason.  It looks the 1949 film Black Magic with him playing Dumas, Jr. was his first genre performance. Bride of the Gorilla was his next with Lou Chaney Jr. co-starring and Curt Siodmak directing. He goes on to be Grand Vizier Boreg al Buzzar in The Magic Carpet before being Vargo in Tarzan and the She-Devil. And finally he’s in a Godzilla film, Godzilla, King of the Monsters! To be precise as Steve Martin. And unfortunately he played the same role in Godzilla 1985 which earned him a Golden Raspberry Award. (Died 1993.)
  • Born May 21, 1918 Jeanne Bates. She’s Diana Palmer in the Forties The Phantom serial, possibly the first one done. Her first genre was as Miss Norcutt in The Return of the Vampire, in a not authorized sequel to Lugosi’s 1931 Universal Studios film Dracula. Most of the films she’s known for are such horror films such as The Soul of a Monster and Back from the Dead. (Died 2007.)
  • Born May 21, 1940 Booker Bradshaw. A record producer, film and TV actor, and Motown executive. He’s here because he’s one of those rare secondary characters that showed up more than once on Trek. He played Dr. M’Benga in “Obsession” and “That Which Survives”. Because his background story was that he served under Captain Christopher Pike, his character has been recast on Strange New Worlds and is played by Babs Olusanmokun. (Died 2003.)
  • Born May 21, 1954 Paul Collins, 68. Australian writer who has been nominated for an astounding twenty Ditmar Awards. In the nineties, he won a William Atheling Jr Award for Criticism or Review for The MUP Encyclopaedia of Australian Science Fiction & Fantasy published by Melbourne University Press which alas was never updated. In his twenties, he began published and edited Void Science Fiction and Fantasy, a semi-prozine.

(9) V’GER ON LINE 2. “Nasa puzzled by ‘mysterious’ signals from Voyager space probe” according to MSN.com.

Nasa engineers are trying to solve a mystery taking place on its Voyager 1 spacecraft.

The space probe is apparently sending signals that ‘don’t reflect what’s actually happening onboard’.

Nasa said that the interstellar explorer was operating normally otherwise, receiving and executing commands from Earth.

While the spacecraft continues to gather and send science data and otherwise operate as normal, the mission team is searching for the source of the issue.

The problem seems to be the Voyager 1’s attitude articulation and control system (AACS) which controls the 45-year-old spacecraft’s orientation.

It’s what keeps the probe’s antenna pointed precisely at Earth, enabling it to send data home.

‘All signs suggest the AACS is still working, but the telemetry data it’s returning is invalid,’ said Nasa in a statement.

Engineers are baffled by Voyager’s seemingly randomly generated signals that do not reflect any possible state the AACS could be in.

In spite of the issue, Voyager 1’s signal hasn’t weakened, which suggests its antenna remains in its prescribed orientation with Earth.

Mysterious signals from space might seem sinister, but Nasa’s engineers don’t think it’s out of the ordinary….

(10) CAT WITH A BLOG. Global Happenings tells us “Cat Stepan from Kharkov received a prestigious award in Cannes”.

Kharkiv cat Stepan continues to collect blogging awards for his collection. The fluffy influencer won an award the day before World Influencers and Bloggers Awards 2022 for which he was nominated in April this year.

… Also, as we reported earlier, abroad the cat Stepan and his mistress are engaged in volunteer activities – the fluffy blogger helps to raise funds to help his four-legged brothers from Ukraine.

(11) CYO ADVENTURE. Austin McConnell remembers Joe Dever, whose role-playing game/choose your own adventure books made “free reading day” exciting for him in middle school in the 1980s. He talks to Dever’s son, who is helping reprint his father’s books with a small publisher. “The Fantasy Series That Took 40 YEARS To Finish”.

(12) RETRO KERFUFFLE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Cory Doctorow and Junot Diaz are interviewed in this 2016 New York Times investigation of the 1980s-era allegation that playing D&D would introduce kids to Satanism.

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

Name An SF Film With a Mimeograph In It

By Kim Huett: The Day The Earth Caught Fire is a 1961 British Lion/Pax Universal film produced and directed by Val Guest (director of the Hammer films, The Quatermass Xperiment (1955) and Quatermass 2 (1957)), who with Wolf Mankowitz, also wrote the screenplay. Additionally, I also see in the credits that Beatnik music was provided by Monty Norman and you don’t see too many science fiction films featuring Beatnik music.

The film stars Leo McKern, Janet Munro, and Edward Judd and deserves to be better remembered as not only is it quite well made (barring some slightly dodgy special effects) but it also avoids the overused Earth being invaded by aliens plot. Instead The Day The Earth Caught Fire revolves around the idea of what would happen if H-bomb testing knocked the Earth out of its orbit and sent it spiraling towards the Sun. It’s a rather earnest anti-nuclear story that’s very much a product of the early sixties, but that’s what makes it so interesting.

(Just as an aside, I see Leo McKern and Edward Judd were both in an earlier SF film I’m keen to watch, X the Unknown, which features a living radioactive mass. These two don’t seem to have had much luck with radioactivity. In other startling news during Janet Munro’s disappointingly short film career she was in The Crawling Eye, a 1958 mess that made it on to MST3K. Despite the film being quite terrible it has her, Forrest Tucker, and Warren Mitchel in the cast.)

Anyway, apart from anything else much of the film is set in the offices of a daily newspaper which means that scene after scene is filled with the technology of yesterday in full use. However the best scene as far as I’m concerned involves Edward Judd entering the Press Office of the Meteorological Centre only to discover Janet Munro attempting to clean (or so I assume) a certain piece of technology once central to fanzine production. As far as I’m aware The Day The Earth Caught Fire is the only science fiction film to feature a mimeograph machine and that alone makes it special in my book.

[Reprinted by permission.]

Talkin’ About the 50 Ways

So many capsule histories of fan fiction are appearing under the influence of Fifty Shades of Grey that one occasionally defies Sturgeon’s odds.

The Guardian’s Ewan Morrison presents an exceptionally coherent history of fan-fic, “In the beginning, there was fan fiction: from the four gospels to Fifty Shades”, noteworthy for its gloss of this faanish classic:

The Enchanted Duplicator by Walt Willis and Bob Shaw was a metafiction based on Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress, but which described a world populated with sci-fi fans. It chronicles the adventures of hero Jophan in “the land of Mundane”. All of the characters in the book are renamed versions of real fans from the London SF circle of the 50s and the book was created entirely for their pleasure.

(Note: This post cried out to be named “50 Shades of Purple” — in America the word “duplicator” triggers images of volatile-smelling copies fresh from the school’s spirit duplicator. However, as anyone likely to care already knows full well, The Enchanted Duplicator is a mimeograph. The technology A.B. Dick trademarked in America as the mimeograph was often called in Britain by its generic name, stencil duplicator, otherwise shortened to duplicator.)

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster for the story.]

In the Beginning

It’s appropriate that during Corflu weekend an antique Edison mimeograph machine is being auctioned on eBay.

Several large photos show the item in all its glory, enough to set the heart of any steampunk fan racing. A metal plate on the mimeo’s wooden box says it was made by A.B. Dick in Chicago and displays a patent date of 1880. There are interior compartments for the flatbed mimeo screen and ink roller. Sure looks like this equipment has seen heavy use somewhere along the way.

The original set of operating instructions is still inside. (So it obviously never belonged to a guy.)

The seller is asking for an opening bid of $49.99.

[Thanks to Steve Davidson for the story.]