Pixel Scroll 10/23/23 In A Scroll In The File, There Lived A Pixel

(1) WORLDS OF IF REVIVAL. The title that won three straight Hugos in the Sixties under the editorship of Frederik Pohl, Worlds of If, then folded in 1974, is making a comeback here.

The classic science fiction magazine Worlds of IF will live again starting February 2024. The magazine will be relaunched with Justin Sloane of Starship Sloane as editor-in-chief and publisher, Jean-Paul L. Garnier of Space Cowboy Books filling the role of deputy-editor-in-chief, and Dr. Daniel Pomarède as science editor. The inaugural issue will be available both in print and free download PDF, with works from multiple generations of SFF authors, artists, and poets. Leading up to the release, the website will feature teasers including interviews with notable SFF authors and fans, audio adaptations of classic tales from the original IF, and articles about SFF and beyond. In the tradition of IF, the editors plan on experimenting with new forms and styles of SF, showcasing new authors, interacting with fandom, and bringing fun and weird science fiction to readers.

Visit Starship Sloane Publishing’s homesite for a free webzine reissue of the April 1955 Worlds of IF, featuring novelettes by James E. Gunn and Fox B. Holden, with a short story by Philip K. Dick.  Learn more and find bonus content here.

(2) TOLKIEN STUDIES NEWS. David Bratman of Tolkien Studies today announced his co-editor, Verlyn Flieger, is ending her run with the journal. Her place will be taken by Yvette Kisor, Professor of Literature at Ramapo College of New Jersey.

After 22 years as co-Editor of Tolkien Studies, Verlyn Flieger will be retiring to take up the position of Editor Emerita. One of the co-founders of the journal, Verlyn has co-edited 20 volumes of the journal. Highlights include editing previously unknown material by Tolkien, some of his scholarly works that had become very difficult to access, and many of the most insightful and original articles published on Tolkien in the past two decades. It is impossible to list even a fraction of the contributions Verlyn has made to every single aspect of the journal’s operations, so we are reduced to saying the obvious: without Verlyn, there would be no Tolkien Studies. We will miss her terribly (though we expect to be drawing upon her wisdom on a regular basis). Volume 20, to be published later this year, will be the last issue she will have co-edited.

Tolkien Studies is delighted to announce that, beginning with Volume 21, Yvette Kisor, Professor of Literature at Ramapo College of New Jersey, will be taking up the position of co-Editor. The co-editor of Tolkien and Alterity, Yvette is well known to the international community of Tolkien scholars both for her publications on Tolkien, including “‘The Lay of Aotrou and Itroun’: Sexuality, Imagery, and Desire in Tolkien’s Works,” in Tolkien Studies 18 (2021), and her work organizing the influential “Tolkien at Kalamazoo” sessions at the International Congresses on Medieval Studies at Western Michigan University. A medievalist by training, Prof. Kisor has also published extensively on Old and Middle English literature. We are extremely pleased that she will be joining the journal’s editorial team.

(3) UNCANNY HUGO ACCEPTANCE SPEECH. Best Semiprozine Hugo winner Uncanny Magazine hasposted the video with the team’s acceptance remarks.

(4) ANDREW CARNEGIE MEDALS LONGLISTS.  The Longlist for 2024 Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction is now available on the awards’ website.

Forty-five books (21 fiction, 24 nonfiction) have been selected for the longlist for the 2024 Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction. The list is now available on the awards’ website. The six-title shortlist—three each for the fiction and nonfiction medals—will be chosen from longlist titles and announced on November 14, 2023. The two medal winners will be announced by 2024 selection committee chair Aryssa Damron at the Reference and User Services Association’s (RUSA) Book and Media Awards livestreaming event, held during LibLearnX in Baltimore on Saturday, January 20, at 9:45 a.m. Eastern. A celebratory event, including presentations by the winners and a featured speaker, will take place in June 2024 at the American Library Association’s (ALA) Annual Conference in San Diego.

The fiction longlist contains the following works of genre interest. Several are novels, while others are story collections in which one or more of the stories have a genre component.

  • Adjei-Brenyah, Nana Kwame. Chain-Gang All-Stars (Pantheon)
  • Blaché, Sin and Helen Macdonald. Prophet (Grove)
  • Brinkley, Jamel. Witness (Farrar)
  • Huang, S. L. The Water Outlaws (Tordotcom)
  • Labatut, Benjamin. The MANIAC (Penguin)
  • Norris, Kelsey. House Gone Quiet (Scribner)
  • Qian, Cleo. Let’s Go Let’s Go Let’s Go (Tin House)

(5) ASKING FOR FLASH FICTION NEBULA. A letter being circulated for signatures calls for SFWA to create a Nebula Award for Flash Fiction. The letter says in part:

… Flash fiction, short-short fiction, drabbles, dribbles, and other forms of very short prose stories have long had a place in genre fiction. Over the years, there have been many respected genre publications devoted exclusively to flash, while other publications recognize it as a distinct category. Despite this, works of flash rarely appear on the SFWA Nebula final ballot, and even fewer works of this length have won.

We do not think this is because SFWA members do not appreciate or enjoy flash fiction or other forms of very short fiction. Rather, it is likely because the strategies and techniques of flash often differ from those used in short stories, which makes it difficult to compare them to these longer works. In particular, flash as a form encourages experimentation, and pieces of flash fiction are more likely to include unusual narrative structures and points of view, to blend elements of poetry and prose, or to otherwise approach storytelling differently than longer works of fiction.

Indeed, in early 2022 the SFWA membership recognized the value of flash fiction and its presence in the genre community by passing two rules changes to the membership qualification criteria that removed the minimum word count for joining as an associate or full member….

(6) SIDEWISE AWARD PRESENTATION. [Item by Steven H Silver.] The Sidewise Awards will be presented this Friday, October 27 at 12:30 CDT (UTC-5) at the World Fantasy Con  in Kansas City, Missouri.

The presentation will be made by judges Eileen Gunn and Steven H Silver in the Chicago A Room.

Finalists who will not be in attendance can appoint a designated acceptor or e-mail an acceptance speech to Steven H Silver at [email protected].

(7) NANANA NONOMO HEY HEY. Cass Morris’ latest newsletter is full of advice about “Worldbuilding for NaNoWriMo: Preptober Edition”.

What do you need to get started?

A perennial question for the worldbuilding writer: How much do you need to do before you actually start drafting?

The answer varies by writer, of course. Some of us compile chonky world bibles before setting down a word; some of us start with the plot and fill the world in as we go. For me it’s usually somewhere in the middle. The dolls and the dollhouse tend to come at least a bit at the same time.

The answer can also vary by project. Some may need more scaffolding before you can set to work. That may be dictated by how near or far your speculative world is from the “real world,” or by how much research you need to do.

When it comes to Nano, though, it can help to target your worldbuilding to the sort of story you think you’re working on. Me, I gravitate towards political plots, so I can’t really get started until I know a lot of details about what sort of government a world has, how it functions, and what factions are at play. If you’re doing a tightly-focused fantasy of manners, however, that might be something you can handwave….

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 23, 1880 Una O’Connor. Actress who appeared in the 1930s The Invisible Man as Jenny Hall. She had a bit part in Bride of Frankenstein, and a supporting role in the genre The Adventures of Robin Hood. Though not even genre adjacent, she was Mrs. Peters in the film adaptation of the quite excellent Graham Greene’s Stamboul. Great novel, I’ll need to see if I can find this film. She’s in The Canterville Ghost, and shows up twice in TV’s Tales of Tomorrow anthology series. (Died 1959.)
  • Born October 23, 1918 James Daly. He was Mr. Flint in Trek‘s most excellent “Requiem for Methuselah” episode. He also showed up on The Twilight ZoneMission:Impossible and The Invaders. He was Honorious in The Planet of The Apes, and Dr. Redding in The Resurrection of Zachary Wheeler
  • Born October 23, 1935 Bruce Mars, 87. He was on Trek three times, one uncredited, with his best remembered being in the most excellent Shore Leave episode as Finnegan, the man Kirk fights with. He also had one-offs in The Time TunnelVoyage to the Bottom of The Sea, and Mission: Impossible.  He is now Brother Paramananda with the Self-Realization Fellowship in Los Angeles which he joined shortly after ending his acting career in 1969. 
  • Born October 23, 1942 Michael Crichton. An impressive number of Hugos, both winners and nominations. The Andromeda Strain nominated at L.A. Con, Westworld at Discon II and the Jurassic Park film would win a Hugo at ConAndian.  I’m very fond of the original Westworld film, not at all enamored of anything that has followed. Same holds for The Andromeda Strain film which I think is a perfect adaptation of his novel unlike the latter series that trashes the novel. (Died 2008.)
  • Born October 23, 1948 Brian Catling. Author of The Vorrh trilogy whose first novel, The Vorrh, has an introduction by Alan Moore. Writing was just one facet of his work life as he was a sculptor, poet, novelist, film maker and performance. And artist. Impressively he held Professor of Fine Art at the [John] Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art in Oxford and was a fellow of Linacre College. Yeah that John Ruskin. (Died 2022.)
  • Born October 23, 1953 Ira Steven Behr, 70. Best remembered for his work on the Trek franchise, particularly Star Trek: Deep Space Nine which is still my favorite Trek though Strange Worlds has its charms, on which he served as showrunner and executive producer. As writer and or producer, he has been in involved in Beyond RealityDark AngelThe Twilight ZoneThe 4400Alphas, and Outlander
  • Born October 23, 1969 Trudy Canavan, 54. Australian writer who’s won two Ditmars for her Thief’s Magic and A Room for Improvement novels and two Aurealis Awards as well, one for her “Whispers of the Mist Children” short story, and one for The Magician’s Apprentice novel.  It’s worth noting that she’s picked up two Ditmar nominations for her artwork as well. 

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • Shoe contains a horrible, horrible, genre-adjacent pun. Did I mention it’s horrible?
  • Tom Gauld’s pick is probably number one in its own obscure Amazon category.

(10) MYTHING ANSWERS. The Scots Magazine invites you to take the “Scottish Myths And Folklore Quiz”. Flying absolutely blind I scored 7 out of 10. All those fantasy book blurbs I’ve read must have helped.

Do you know the name of the Loch Ness Monster’s cousin, who is said to live in Loch Morar? Or which season, Beira, who washes her clothes in the Corryvreckan whirlpool, represents?

There’s so much more to learn about Scotland’s strange and mystical past….

(11) MONSTER MAVEN. The Hollywood Heritage Museum presents “Jack Pierce: Hollywood’s Greatest Monster Maker” on October 25. Tickets for this in-person event are available at the link.

Please join us on Wednesday, October 25th at 7:30PM as we kick off the 2023-24 season of our Evening @ The Barn series with a very special Halloween edition!

In this exclusive multimedia event, the career of Jack Pierce, legendary makeup department head at Universal Pictures from 1928-1947, will be explored in depth. Unquestionably, Pierce was responsible for many of cinema’s most memorable screen characters, including The Frankenstein Monster, The Mummy, The Bride of Frankenstein, The Wolf Man, and The Phantom of the Opera, during that seminal period in horror films. Videos, photos, and unique, rarely seen elements will be critical aspects of this two-hour presentation hosted by author and historian Scott Essman. Additionally, special guests and surprises are in store for attendees!

Free parking is available in Hollywood Bowl Lot “D” which is directly adjacent to the museum.

In case you’ve never heard of the Hollywood Heritage Museum before:

The Hollywood Heritage Museum is a must-visit for cinema enthusiasts. It is located in the oldest surviving motion picture studio in Hollywood. Here, you can learn about the history of the studio and how it played a crucial role in the birth of Paramount Pictures Corporation in 1916. The first feature length film was produced here in 1912 by Jesse L. Lasky and Cecil B. DeMille. This 1901 barn turned studio was designated California State Historic Landmark No. 554 in 1956. 

(12) SPIELBERG Q&A. SYFY Wire speaks to the director about Laurent Bouzereau’s new book in “Spielberg: The First Ten Years Excerpt Reveals E.T. Secrets”.

Last fall, Neil DeGrasse Tyson made the claim that E.T., the lovable cosmic visitor, “was a sentient plant” during a guest appearance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. When asked how he came by this strange piece of information, DeGrasse Tyson simply replied: “Steven Spielberg told me in my office.” He didn’t elaborate any further than that, but we now know he wasn’t just blowing smoke.

The legendary director confirms the titular alien of his 1982 coming-of-age classic (now streaming on Peacock) is “more like a plant or a vegetable” in the pages of Laurent Bouzereau’s new book — Spielberg: The First Ten Years

Bouzereau is, perhaps, one of the few people alive who could actually pull off something like this. After all, he’s spent decades cultivating a close professional relationship with the celebrated storyteller while serving as director on the numerous behind-the-scenes documentaries found on the home release editions of Spielberg’s own movies.

Hitting stands tomorrow, Tuesday, October 24, from Insight EditionsSpielberg: The First Ten Years features exhaustive and must-read interviews centered around the productions of DuelThe Sugarland ExpressJawsClose Encounters of the Third Kind, 1941Raiders of the Lost Ark, and, of course, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial….

What other references did you study?

I wanted E.T. to give the impression of a thousand-year old wizened life form. Carlo took directions the same way an actor would — but it’s of course really the actor who creates the performance, and in that sense, it’s really Carlo Rambaldi who created E.T. I also remember saying to Carlo that E.T. should kind of waddle when he walks like Chaplin with his cane, that he should look like Bambi on ice. When E.T. starts to walk on Earth, he is ungainly, and he is insecure. Several times in the movie, we showed how awkward E.T. is and how funny he is when he falls over…

(13) WHAT CATS THINK. This book trailed for The Adventures of Trim series is pretty cute – probably because several cats are interviewed on camera.

(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Please Don’t Destroy: “Bad Bunny Is Shrek” on Saturday Night Live.

Three guys listen to Bad Bunny’s idea for a script.

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Ersatz Culture, Lynne M. Thomas, Daniel Dern, John-Paul L. Garnier, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, and SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Joe H.]

Pixel Scroll 8/24/21 We Can Scroll Where We Want To, We Can Leave Your Files Behind

(1) NOW PLAYING IN THE THEATER OF YOUR MIND. Pat Cadigan pointed Facebook readers to the 23rd Legion’s review of her forthcoming book: Alien – Alien 3: The Lost Screenplay by William Gibson by Pat Cadigan”.

… This story is gritty as all hell. Focusing largely on Hicks and Bishop after being “rescued” with Ripley and Newt in the Sulaco where they ended up at the conclusion of Aliens, this version of Alien 3 goes from “Ehhh, things might be ok.” to “What the hell do you think you’re doing?” to “Oh yeah, everything is totally screwed.”

We see a whole lot of evolution in the Xenomorphs in this story. Their adaptation and speedy evolution is both terrifying and, for franchise fans, fascinating given the total lore that already exists. These bugs are a total game changer when it comes to their propagation and swarm-like spread….

(2) THEY DID THE MONSTER STAMP. On September 24, 2021, in Topeka, KS, the United States Postal Service® will issue the Message Monsters stamps (Forever® priced at the First-Class Mail® rate) in four designs, “Message Monsters Ready to Bring a Smile to Your Mail”.

The U.S. Postal Service will celebrate Message Monsters with the most playful, customizable Forever stamp design ever. The four monster illustrations on this pane of 20 stamps invite interactivity with dozens of self-adhesive accessories on the selvage. The monster-ific accoutrements include cartoony voice balloons and thought bubbles with exclamations and salutations, hats and crowns, hearts, stars, crazy daisies and other fun flair.

Art director Antonio Alcalá designed the pane with original artwork by Elise Gravel, author and illustrator of popular children’s books.

(3) TUNE IN TO FM. But if you want to spend a lot more for monster art, Heritage Auctions can fix you up: “Basil Gogos Famous Monsters Cover Art from the Kevin Burns Collection” goes on the block November 5-7. Article by Joe Moe, well-known 4SJ batman.

In 1958, a monster magazine intended to be a one-off hit the newsstands – and sold out! This specialty mag was Famous Monsters of Filmland, and would go on to become the longest published, and one of the most influential entertainment periodicals, ever! Throughout the 1960s, publisher James Warren and editor Forrest J Ackerman’s FM did something no other magazine of the era had. It turned the spotlight from the stars in front of the camera to the artists behind the camera. The people who actually made the movie magic that captured the imagination of audiences. Basil Gogos’ vivid cover paintings became the freaky face of and “gateway” to the magazine. A magazine that was a vessel for the exciting, creative world kids dreamed of being a part of. Gogos created hallmarks of the “big bang,” that inspired legendary careers. A Basil Gogos FM cover painting is impossible to find…until now.

Basil Gogos’ (1929-2017) paintings brought black and white monsters to vivid, colorful life….

(4) SURPLUS TO REQUIREMENTS. Benjamin C. Kinney does an in-depth discussion of “Short Fiction Rejection Letters: Best practices and expectations” at the SFWA Blog.

…Most markets send form-letter rejections. These are typical and acceptable; other options take work, and more work per submission means slower responses. Vague rejection language like “it didn’t work for us” is common, and means exactly what it says. Form rejections can be brief, but the market’s staff should be aware of the emotional impact of words, and write a letter that feels supportive rather than dismissive.

Some markets use “tiered forms,” which means they have a handful of different form letters, and the choice reflects something about the staff’s reaction to your submission….

(5) PRESERVING FANHISTORY. The latest FANAC.org newsletter was distributed today. When it’s online the link will be here — F. A. N. A. C. Inc. (fanac.org). An excerpt:

Behind the Scenes or How the Sausage is Made:
     Finding Anne Steul: Anne Steul is not a familiar name to most of us. In June, Rob Hansen sent us a scan of Fantum 1, edited by Anne Steul, who he remarked had also organized the first German SF con with some help from Jim and Greg Benford. That led to an expansion of Anne Steul’s Fancyclopedia article, followed by more biographical data on her from Rob Hansen. We asked Thomas Recktenwald if he could tell us more. Thomas provided insight into why she left fandom, and a link to Rainer Eisfield’s book, Zwischen Barsoon und Peenemunde (Between Barsoom and Peenemunde) that had 10 pages on Anne Steul, and German fandom of the time, including bibliographic data and a photo. Next, Joe asked Jim and Greg Benford for additional info and Greg forwarded a few 2013 issues of CounterClock, a fanzine from Wolf von Witting published in Italy, that had articles on early German fandom. So now we have expanded our knowledge, added her Fantum, and added to the Fancyclopedia entry. And that’s how the Fan History sausage is made. As a result, Thomas Recktenwald is helping us add information about German fandom to Fancyclopedia. Thomas is a long-time contributor to The Fan History Project having provided many photos, fanzines and  recordings.

(6) DON’T IT JUST FRY YOUR SHORTS? [Item by Rob Thornton.] Here’s another “SF written by a mainstream writer” example. French guy writes a novel about “what if the Incas invaded Europe in the 16th century” and it is getting all the attention, including media deals. “How a French Novelist Turns the Tables on History” in the New York Times. (Registration required.)

…It’s an imaginary scenario — of the Incas of Peru invading 16th-century Europe, not the other way around, which is what happened in 1532 — that haunted and inspired Binet.

“There’s something melancholic in my book,” he said in an interview at his home last month, “because it offers the conquered a revenge that they never really had.”

The reality for the Incas, like many other Indigenous populations, was that they were killed and exploited, Binet added. “That’s what both fascinates and horrifies me: You can think what you like of the past but you can’t change it.”

Binet, 49, has made his name writing historical novels that blur the boundaries between fact and fiction. His debut “HHhH,” which was translated into 34 languages (including English in 2012), melded history, fiction and autobiography to explore the events surrounding the assassination of the Nazi leader Reinhard Heydrich. He followed it up in 2015 with “The Seventh Function of Language,” a murder mystery set in the 1980s that poked fun at the posturing of Parisian intellectuals. The French magazine L’Express called it “the most insolent novel of the year.”…

(7) TGIFF FILM FESTIVAL. [Item by Darius Luca Hupov.] The second edition of “The Galactic Imaginarium” Film Festival will take place in hybrid format at location, in Romania and online (TGI Sci-Fi and Fantasy Film Festival), from September 15-19, 2021.

The festival will screen 66 short and feature films, in 4 categories: Science Fiction, Fantasy/Fantastic, Comedy/Parody (SFF) and Animation (SFF). The public will see the films at the local drive-in cinema (due to the pandemic restrictions) and online, at the festival streaming platform. Also, the program of the festival (panels, debates, presentations, workshops, contests, etc.) will be present online, on ZOOM and the Discord channel of the Festival (https://discord.gg/hgDjxCMT).

In the program you can meet our Special Guests:

  • Josh Malerman, the New York TImes best selling author of Bird Box and Goblin
  • Naomi Kritzer (won the Hugo Award, Lodestar Award, Edgar Award, and Minnesota Book Award)
  • John Wiswell, a Nebula winner, and a World Fantasy and Hugo finalist
  • Representatives from Seed&Spark, Mogul Productions, Storycom…

And many, many more. You can find more details and get an online General Access Ticket here.

(8) N3F’S FRANSON AWARD. Patricia Williams-King’s service to the National Fantasy Fan Federation has been recognized with the Franson Award by N3F President George Phillies:

The Franson Award was originally called the N3F President’s Award. It was renamed in honor of Donald Franson. This award started because past N3F Presidents have wanted to give a show of appreciation to people – even those who may have won the Kaymar Award, which you can only win once. Presidential Statement Patricia Williams-King has faithfully and energetically served the N3F for many years, most recently by maintaining the N3F Round Robin Bureau. Round Robin groups discuss a topic by circulating a papermail letter bundle from one member to the next. If one member of a group gafiates, the group stops functioning. The Bureau Head has the task of restarting groups, so to speak bringing them back to life. Through thick and through thin, in the face of great obstacles, personal and fannish challenges, and other hindrances to smooth operation, Patricia Williams-King gave us an N3F Bureau that largely continued to function. As your President, it is my privilege and honor to give a 2021 Franson Award to Patricia WilliamsKing. 

(9) MULTIVERSE NOW. “Strange New Spider-Man Trailer Drops And, Yes, Marvel Is Officially Going There” warns Yahoo!

The trailer for “Spider-Man: No Way Home” dropped on Monday — hours after a version leaked online — and it confirms months of rumors over the newest phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe

They’re not waiting until next year’s “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” to open up the multiverse. 

In the trailer, Peter Parker accidentally messes up a Doctor Strange spell, creating a rift that brings out elements of previous Spider-Man film eras, which didn’t share much of a timeline… until now…

(10) MEMORY LANE.

  • 1999 – Twenty-two years ago, the Compton Crook Award, Baltcon’s Award for the Best First Novel, went to James Stoddard for The High House. It is the first novel of his Evenmere trilogy that was continued in The False House and which was just completed in 2015 with his Evenmere novel.  It had been been published by Warner Aspect the previous year.  It would also be nominated for the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature in the year the illustrated edition of Stardust would garner that Award. It was also nominated for a Locus Best SF Novel Award. If you’ve not read it, Stoddard has let us put the first chapter up at Green Man and you can read it here.

(11) TODAY’S DAY.

Shed a tear.

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 24, 1899 Gaylord Du Bois. He was a writer of comic book stories and comic strips, as well as Big Little Books. He wrote Tarzan for Dell Comics and Gold Key Comics from the Forties to early Seventies.) He was one of the writers for Space Family Robinson which was the basis for the Lost in Space series. (Died 1993.)
  • Born August 24, 1899 Jorge Luis Borges. I’m reasonably sure my first encounter with him was at University with the assignment of The Library of Babel. I’m not deeply read in him but I also loved The Book of Imaginary Beings, and though not genre, recommend The Last Interview and Other Conversations for an excellent look at him as a writer. (Died 1985.)
  • Born August 24, 1932 William Morgan Sheppard. Best remembered I think as Blank Reg in Max Headroom: 20 Minutes into the Future. Genre wise I’d add him being the Klingon Prison Warden In Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, Merrit in The Prestige, the rather scary Soul Hunter on Babylon 5 and a Vulcan Science Minister in Star Trek. He appeared in a seventies Broadway production of Sherlock Holmes though I can’t tell you who he played. (Died 2019.)
  • Born August 24, 1934 Kenny Baker. Certainly his portrayal of R2-D2 in the Star Wars franchise is what he’s best known for but he’s also been in Circus of HorrorsWombling Free, Prince Caspian and the Voyage of the Dawn Treader series, The Elephant ManSleeping BeautyTime BanditsWillowFlash Gordon and Labyrinth. Personally I think his best role was as Fidgit in Time Bandits. (Died 2016.)
  • Born August 24, 1936 A. S. Byatt, 85. Author of three genre novels, two of which I’m familiar with, Possession: A Romance which became a rather decent film, and winning the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature for The Djinn in the Nightingale’s Eye, and one I’ve never heard of, Ragnarok: The End of the Gods,  but I’m actually much, much more fond of her short fiction. I’d start with the Little Black Book of Stories and Angels & Insects collections. 
  • Born August 24, 1951 Tony Amendola, 70. Prolly best known for being the Jaffa master Bra’tac on Stargate SG-1. He’s also had recurring roles as Edouard Kagame of Liber8 on Continuum and on Once Upon a Time as Pinocchio’s creator, Geppetto. His list of one-off genre appearances is extensive and includes AngelCharmed,  Lois & Clark, Space: Above and Beyond the Crusade spin-off of Babylon 5X FilesVoyagerDirk Gently’s Holistic Detective AgencyTerminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Alias, She-Wolf of London and Kindred: The Embraced. He’s also been a voice actor in gaming with roles in such games as World of Warcraft: Warlords of DraenorWorld of Warcraft: Legion and Workd of Final Fantasy. (CE)
  • Born August 24, 1957 Stephen Fry, 64. He’s Gordon Deitrich in V for Vendetta, and he’s the Master of Lakedown in The Hobbit franchise. His best role is as Mycroft Holmes in Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows though he made an interesting narrator in the film version of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and not to be overlooked is that he’s the narrator for all seven of the Potter novels for the UK audiobook recordings. Interestingly when first commissioned, the eleventh episode of Doctor Who’s second series with David Tennant was to be called “The 1920s”.  It was based on a script written by Stephen Fry. It was never produced.
  • Born August 24, 1958 Lisa A. Barnett. Wife of Melissa Scott. Some of her works were co-authored with her: The Armor of Light, Point of Hopes: A Novel of Astreiant and Point of Dreams: A Novel of Astreiant. They wrote one short story, “The Carmen Miranda Gambit”. (Died 2006.)

(13) D&D. The Kingfisher & Wombat party resume their adventures. Thread starts here.

(14) SERIOUS ABOUT SERIES. Electric Theist shares the fruit of their labors and rates the finalists “The Hugo Award for Best Series: 2021 Reviews”.

Reading the nominations for the Hugo Awards for Best Series takes dedication. I have read at least the first three books of every single one of the series and given the series a grade and review based upon that reading. If I have not read the entire series, I have noted it in my review of the series. I would love to talk about these series with you, dear readers, and want to know what you think about them. Which is your favorite? Have you read them all? This year’s nominations are a pile of excellent books, so it’s worth diving in.

(15) BABY STEPS. “Japan tests rotating detonation engine for the first time in space” reports Inceptive Mind.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has announced that it has successfully demonstrated the operation of a “rotating detonation engine” for the first time in space. The novelty of the technologies in question is that such systems obtain a large amount of thrust by using much less fuel compared to conventional rocket engines, which is quite advantageous for space exploration.

On July 27, the Japanese agency launched a pair of futuristic propulsion systems into space to carry out the first tests…

…The rotating detonation engine uses a series of controlled explosions that travel around an annular channel in a continuous loop. This process generates a large amount of super-efficient thrust coming from a much smaller engine using significantly less fuel – which also means sending less weight on a space launch. According to JAXA, it has the potential to be a game-changer for deep space exploration.

The rocket began the test demonstrations after the first stage separated, burning the rotating detonation engine for six seconds, while a second pulse detonation engine operated for two seconds on three occasions. The pulse engine uses detonation waves to combust the fuel and oxidizer mixture.

When the rocket was recovered after the demonstration, it was discovered that the rotary engine produced about 500 Newtons of thrust, which is only a fraction of what conventional rocket engines can achieve in space….

(16) ROLE PLAYING GAME. “Invasion of the Robot Umpires” in The New Yorker.

…Two years ago, DeJesus became the first umpire in a regular-season game anywhere to use something called the Automated Ball-Strike System. Most players refer to it as the “robo-umpire.” Major League Baseball had designed the system and was testing it in the Atlantic League, where DeJesus works. The term “robo-umpire” conjures a little R2-D2 positioned behind the plate, beeping for strikes and booping for balls. But, for aesthetic and practical reasons, M.L.B. wanted human umpires to announce the calls, as if playacting their former roles. So DeJesus had his calls fed to him through an earpiece, connected to a modified missile-tracking system. The contraption looked like a large black pizza box with one glowing green eye; it was mounted above the press box. When the first pitch came in, a recorded voice told DeJesus it was a strike. He announced it, and no one in the ballpark said anything.

…Baseball is a game of waiting and talking. For a hundred and fifty years or so, the strike zone—the imaginary box over home plate, seventeen inches wide, and stretching from the batter’s knees to the middle of his chest—has been the game’s animating force. The argument between manager and umpire is where the important disputes over its boundaries are litigated. The first umpires were volunteers who wore top hats, at whom spectators “hurled curses, bottles and all manner of organic and inorganic debris,” according to a paper by the Society for American Baseball Research. “Organic debris” wasn’t defined, but one wonders. A handful of early umpires were killed….

(17) A DIFFERENT KIND OF DOGSLED. “The Oscar Mayer Wienermobile Joins Lyft” reports Food & Wine. I’m wondering who would be the ideal convention GoH to be picked up by this ride.

…Starting tomorrow, your Lyft XL ride may send your jaw dropping to the ground when the driver arrives in… the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile.

From August 25 to 27, Oscar Mayer and Lyft will be offering free Wienermobile trips in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Atlanta — which were chosen because they are “the nation’s hottest rideshare cities.” The brand says riders can simply request a Lyft XL and one of Oscar Mayer’s Hotdoggers — the name given to those who drive the Wienermobile — may show up in a 27-foot hot dog on wheels instead. (Assuming it hasn’t been pulled over on the way.)

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In Transformers: Dark of the Moon Pitch Meeting” on Screen Rant, Ryan George says in the third Transformers movie, Sam Witwicky may be “smelly, whiny, and stinky,” but he’s easily able to find a new supermodel to be his girlfriend and let him live in her apartment rent-free because he can’t find a job.  We also learn that Chernobyl happened because of a secret Transformers battle, which leads the producer to say that “the worst nuclear disaster in history was caused by Hasbro products.”

[Thanks to Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, Dann, Rob Thornton, Darius Luca Hupov, Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ  for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Jayn.]

Pixel Scroll 9/13/17 Is That A Pixel On Your Screen, Or Are You Just Scrolled To See Me?

(1) YOU CAN ORBIT BUT YOU CAN’T HIDE. Alex Parker likes to think Cassini’s dive into Saturn is payback for the dinosaur extinction event. A thread explaining his complicated theory starts here:

(2) SFWA GALAKTIKA SETTLEMENT NAMES AFFECTED AUTHORS. There are further developments in a story reported here in July. Full information at the SFWA Blog: “Agreement Reached with Galaktika on Past Infringements”.

The Authors Guild and Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) announced today that they collaboratively reached an agreement with a Hungarian science fiction magazine, Galaktika, which for years had been reprinting stories of American and British science fiction writers without their permission….

Part of the settlement between the magazine Galaktika and SFWA and the Authors Guild was that Galaktika would provide a complete list of authors whose work had been published without authorization by Galaktika. The list below was created from the spreadsheet that they provided, and, as far as SFWA can discover, it is accurate. This list includes authors or their representatives who have already come to agreements with Galaktika or are still in the process of negotiation. It is being made public to aid authors who may not know their work was published without authorization. Note that some of the works affected may be out of copyright in Hungary.

(3) BOOK SMUGGLERS KICKSTARTER. Thea James and Ana Grilo have launched The Book Smugglers: Level Up Kickstarter.

Ana and Thea

We celebrate our tenth anniversary next year and we would like to level up, so we finally decided to take the leap and create a Kickstarter of our own. We are trying to raise $16,500 which will go towards a new season of short stories (under the theme “Awakenings”) at a higher pay rate and ensuring we can hire freelancers to do production work for the ebooks. We would also love to get paid contributors to the blog on a weekly basis. If we raise more than the initial amount? The sky is the limit. All with a view to continue to publish and highlight diverse voices.

We donate our time to the Book Smugglers because we love the work that we do, which we hope to continue doing for another ten years.

To date their Kickstarter has raised 5,842 of its $16,500 goal.

(4) KEEP ON TICKING. Jim C. Hines reviews “The Tick, Season One”. BEWARE SPOILERS. In case that sort of thing worries you….

I didn’t need this to be a repeat of the animated show I loved. But it felt like it tried way too hard to be dark and gritty and edgy, at the cost of the heart and joy I was hoping for.

With all that said, I might still watch the next batch of six episodes when they come out. (I’m told that technically, this won’t be season two, but the second half of season one.) If they continue to improve the way they did in those last couple of episodes…

But for now, I’m rating this a solid disappointment.

(5) GUILTY CONSCIENCE. Anybody who’s watched the right episodes of the TV series Suits on the USA Network knows that lawyer Louis Litt is a Game of Thrones fan … at one point, he said, referring to himself, “A Lannister always pays his debts.” This clip from the most recent episode shows that watching aGoT may not always be good for your mental health:

(6) ACROSS THE ATLANTIC BY HOT AIR. Black Gate’s Sean McLachlan blows the whistle on a pre-internet author of bogosity: “Edgar Allan Poe Wrote Fake News”.

In 1844 he was working for the New York Sun, and penned a front-page story for the April 13 issue trumpeting a new scientific wonder — the crossing of the Atlantic in three days by balloon. The story breathlessly related how a crew of eight men, including William Henson and Monck Mason, both well-known aeronauts, and famous British novelist Harrison Ainsworth, traveled in a powered balloon from England to Charleston, South Carolina, in 75 hours. The article went on to give various technical details.

(7) GETTING PAID, BUT NOT MUCH. Catherine Baab-Migura, in “Edgar Allan Poe Was A Broke-Ass Freelancer” on The Millions looks at how little money Poe made for his great works and how much time he had to hassle publishers to pay him. But now that you know his history with fake news, how broken up can you really feel?

A lot of fans know Edgar Allan Poe earned just $9 for “The Raven,” now one of the most popular poems of all time, read out loud by schoolteachers the world over. What most people don’t know is that, for his entire oeuvre—all his fiction, poetry, criticism, lectures—Poe earned only about $6,200 in his lifetime, or approximately $191,087 adjusted for inflation.

Maybe $191,087 seems like a lot of money. And sure, as book advances go, that’d be a generous one, the kind that fellow writers would whisper about. But what if $191,087 was all you got for 20 years of work and the stuff you wrote happened to be among the most enduring literature ever produced by anyone anywhere?

(8) AFTER THE EVE OF DESTRUCTION. Jennifer Brozek’s new project returns her to the BattleTech universe: “Award-winning author Jennifer Brozek slated to pen the first Young Adult BattleTech trilogy”.

Catalyst, licensors of the BattleTech tabletop game and Shadowrun roleplaying game, is taking the next step in creating a diverse BattleTech universe with a new young adult trilogy. Jennifer Brozek, award-winning author of BattleTech: The Nellus Academy Incident and Shadowrun: DocWagon 19, is developing a character-driven, action-filled story set after the Jihad, and exploring the tumultuous aftermath of the Age of Destruction. Currently scheduled for a Fall 2018 release date, it can’t come soon enough for BattleTech fans looking for brand new fiction set in the military science fictional universe.

(9) SADCOMS. The Guardian should warn readers they might need a tissue here: “In the golden age of TV, the existential-animation is king”

Why is a talking cartoon horse making me cry? It’s a question many of us might have asked ourselves as the new season of BoJack Horseman – an improbably moving Netflix cartoon about a version of Hollywood populated by talking animals – surfaced over the weekend.

The characters, led by BoJack (voiced by Will Arnett), make terrible decisions about sex and dating, sell themselves short, and generally end up miserable in the funniest possible ways. It’s a show at the forefront of a recent crop of animated TV series for adults that surpass most live-action shows this side of Twin Peaks in terms of sheer emotional ambition.

There’s BoJack, Adult Swim’s critically lauded sci-fi series Rick and Morty, the Duplass brothers’ Animals on HBO, and Archer, a workplace comedy about a spy agency that has gone crazily off the rails. In broad terms, TV is still embracing what critic Jenny Jaffe dubbed the “sadcom” – a show with an ostensibly comic outlook that trades in for pathos – but something special is happening in animation. With animated shows TV is able to flex different muscles.

(10) FROZEBUD. Citizen Lucas might go for this — “Star Wars Wampa Cave Snow Globe” from ThinkGeek.

We’re going to be honest here: we squeed when we first unboxed this product. Our excitement might have drawn other employees over to look. There are SO many little details. “Oh look! Luke’s lightsaber is in the snow!” “I love how the ice of the cave starts on the inside of the globe and continues outside it.” “OMG. THERE’S A DEAD TAUNTAUN ON THE SIDE.” A Hoth snow globe just makes sense. And this Star Wars Wampa Cave Snow Globe created by our GeekLabs team is magnificent. It perfectly captures the tense atmosphere of the cave scene while still being a flippin’ snow globe. Watch the snow gently settle around Luke in what looks like a hopeless situation. And the Tauntaun isn’t gory so it’s appropriate for all ages. Stick it behind your little holiday village diorama as a reminder to the elves and reindeer not to wander out alone.

(11) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • September 13, 1965 Ghidorah, The Three-Headed Monster battled their way into theaters
  • September 13, 1974 Planet of the Apes TV version premiered.
  • September 13, 1977 — Jay Anson’s The Amityville Horror is published.

(12) TODAY’S CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANGER

  • Born September 13, 1916 – Roald Dahl

(13) YOUR FAVORITE ICONOCLASTS. Timothy the Talking Cat and Straw Puppy declare “Chapters are cultural convention that we need not adhere to” at Camestros Felapton’s blog as they unleash (get it?) a new installment of their classic work.

“Well, well, well,” said McEdifice, “if it isn’t Commander Clench, my old nemesis. I thought I told you never to set foot again on the Grassland Planet of Steppe.”

“Well yes, you did but as I explained at the time, I’m free to go anywhere I like and also I outrank you and also I have an orbiting space-dreadnought directly above us that could wipe you off the face of the planet before you could even grimace at me in a way I didn’t like.” explained Commander Clench.

I don’t know, I thought this was quite readable…. Send help….

(14) EMPTY THE MAGAZINE. Bullets with the Monster Hunters International logo on sale for charity. Ten percent goes to the Houston Food Bank. They’ve already sold 60,000. Living in interesting times.

These are just bullets for handloading. This is not loaded ammunition. Also, be aware that this design is on the front of a 9mm bullet. It is VERY small and serves no purpose other than being really cool. Please do not expect anything magical or supernatural from them. They are just bullets with an awesome stamped logo. Though the lead we sourced does contain trace amounts of silver, it isn’t enough for serious hunting. They are to be used on nothing larger than a gnome.

(15) NZ CONREPORT. At Concatenation, Lee Murray, Dan Rabarts and Darian Smith discuss LexiCon 2017, New Zealand’s 38th National Science Fiction and Fantasy Convention – with a shout out to DUFF delegate Paul Weimer.

LM:  First up for me panel-wise was moderating a session on the language of science fiction and fantasy, with Swedish writer Emma Lindhagen, Cloud Ink Press’ Mark Johnson and local personality Jack Newhouse sharing the front table. One of the first panels of the con, it was too soon for convention goers to have succumbed to con crud, so the room was packed and it was a lively discussion covering topics such as conlanging, conlinging, inclusiveness, and Klingon. I also moderated a panel on Introducing new readers to SFF, but because the session was scheduled against Paul Mannering in conversation with Guest of Honour Seanan McGuire, there were only seventeen of the con’s attendees present. So we decided to pull the chairs into a circle and invite everyone to join in, which turned out to be a great idea as the input from the audience was terrific. I think that’s one of the advantages of our New Zealand conventions: because we are small and most of us know each other, we can be flexible and no one throws a hissy fit. The DUFF delegate, Paul Weimer from Minneapolis, made a comment to that effect in the ‘Australia and Us’ panel, saying he hadn’t realised before he came, just how close-knit our SF/F/H community is here, an aspect he felt might be unique to New Zealand.

DR:  In the way of all good cons, a good portion of the Con should have seen the bar buzzing with people rubbing shoulders and chinking glasses, and from time to time it was. Surprisingly, there was less of this than expected, mainly because so many of the attendees were going to panels, which in some cases came as a surprise even to them. So while there was less action in the bar than we are used to, the panels were humming and people were networking and fan fund delegates were hanging out and talking community-building while peddling raffle tickets and auction lots. I am not quite sure the Suncourt knew what they were letting themselves in for when they agreed to our booking the place out for a convention, but they were amazing hosts as well, and everything went off about as smoothly as we could have hoped.

(16) SCHRODINGER’S 7-11. Fast Company says “Two Ex-Googlers Want To Make Bodegas And Mom-And-Pop Corner Stores Obsolete”.

While it sometimes feels like we do all of our shopping on the internet, government data shows that actually less than 10% of all retail transactions happen online. In a world where we get our groceries delivered in just two hours through Instacart or Amazon Fresh, the humble corner store–or bodega, as they are known in New York and Los Angeles–still performs a valuable function. No matter how organized you are, you’re bound to run out of milk or diapers in the middle of the night and need to make a quick visit to your neighborhood retailer.

Paul McDonald, who spent 13 years as a product manager at Google, wants to make this corner store a thing of the past. Today, he is launching a new concept called Bodega with his cofounder Ashwath Rajan, another Google veteran. Bodega sets up five-foot-wide pantry boxes filled with non-perishable items you might pick up at a convenience store. An app will allow you to unlock the box and cameras powered with computer vision will register what you’ve picked up, automatically charging your credit card. The entire process happens without a person actually manning the “store.”

Cat Eldridge sent the link with a comment, “Interesting idea but expecting it to be viable in ethic communities where a bodega or the cultural equivalent is as much community centre as store is incredible culturally naive.”

Where Cat lives, “We have, other than gas stations that carry a range of stuff this plans on carrying, exactly one English language as first tongue convenience shop for the twenty thousand inhabitants of the peninsula. But there’s dozens of ethically based shops including Central American, Middle Eastern, African, Russian and at least one Armenian one.”

And to see the Bodega Cats, er, SJW Credentials mentioned in the above article, click here, Instagram has photos.

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@whiskeygems

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(17) BRIGHT. Will Smith in Bright available on Netflix starting December 22.

In an alternate present-day where magical creatures live among us, two L.A. cops become embroiled in a prophesied turf battle. Stars Will Smith.

Starring: Will Smith, Joel Edgerton, Noomi Rapace

 

(18) LEAGUE OF GODS. Out on DVD.

Based on the 16th-century Chinese novel Feng Shen Yan Yi (The Investiture of the Gods), the story tells of how King Zhou of Shang becomes a tyrant due to the wiles of Daji, a vixen spirit who is disguised as one of his concubines.

 

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Mark-kitteh, JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, Daniel Dern, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Ingvar.]

Kickstarter for Monster Kids

A Kickstarter project is raising money to make That $#%! Will Rot Your Brain!, a documentary about the Monster Kids, those horror movie fans who got their start watching 1930s movies on late-night television under the tutelage of local ghoulish hosts.

Robert Tinnell is on board — an award-winning filmmaker, comic book artist, and devoted Monster Kid  — whose credits include Surf Nazis Must Die (Producer), Frankenstein and Me (Director), and most recently Flesh and Blood (Writer).

The Kickstarter page carries a long list of other supporters out of which I recognize six names, although one belongs to someone over 100 years old so I doubt she’s taking a very active role in the project —

John Zacherle, Tom Savini, Bill Bob Thornton, Fred Dekker, David Selby, Richard Atkins, Edward Bonacore, Bob Burns, David Colton, Eric Caidin, James Clatterbaugh, Marian Owens Clatterbaugh, Frank Dietz, Dukey Flyswatter, Brittany Fontaine, Mark Frank, Jerry Gergely, Kerry Gammill, Andy Hershberger, Carla Laemmle, Todd Livingston, Ben Martin, Jonathan Maeberry, James Morrow, Steve Niles, Sam F Park, Eric Red, Mark Redfield, Ron Russo, Andrew Sands, David J. Skal, Michael Sonye, Gary Svehla, George Stover, J.C. Vaughn, Neil Vokes, Steve Vertlieb, Voltaire, and Mark Whetley.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian for the story.]

In the Days of THEM!

emTHEM!/em movie poster

<em>THEM!</em> movie poster

Photographs comparing views of downtown Los Angeles in 1951 and 2009 from the observation deck of City Hall have been posted on the Los Angeles Times site.

While the entire 360-degree view will fascinate locals, of greatest interest to science fiction fans will be view northeast from City Hall in 1951.

Stately Union Station and the post office’s Terminal Annex appear grand despite the vast holes in the foreground where the 101 Freeway is being constructed. Behind the train sheds, a series of natural gas storage towers block the view of the Los Angeles River. As far as I recall, this was the general area where the giant ants hypothetically accessed the sewers in THEM! I believe a tower or two is in the background during one of the movie’s horrific ant sequences.

On a personal note, the “new” Federal Building replaced that block of buildings to the right of the hole in 1964. I worked there four years, 1987-1991.

[Thanks to Laurraine Tutihasi for the story.]