Pixel Scroll 4/8/24 Everyone I Know Is A Hoopy Scroll, Who Know Where Their Pixel Is

(1) ANGRY ROBOT BRINGS ON ECLIPSE OF STORYWISE. [Item by Anne Marble.] Angry Robot Books announced a one-week open submissions period that begins April 22, and several posts down in their thread they also said they would be using a submissions portal named Storywise to help them sort through their submissions. In their image, they explain a little more and point out that it’s not generative AI.

Angry Robot provided more information about Storywise here: “Storywise and Open Submissions FAQ’s “ [Internet Archive copy]. It included information on how authors can opt out of Storywise being used in their submission.

For obvious reasons, people are worried. People are pointing out that the Storywise platform can have biases. (And because it’s software, you can’t see those biases.) While it’s great that it’s not generative AI, does that mean writers can still trust it? For example, how do authors known what Storywise will do with their submissions? Others think its fine because it’s not generative AI — it’s just AI being used as a tool. Some have pointed out that slush readers are often unpaid, so that this is not taking away jobs. (But does that apply to slush readers working for book publishers?!)

Here is a quote-tweet by Vajra Chandrasekera with lots of information about Storywise. (Thread starts on X.com here.)

Angry Robot subsequently removed the posts to social media about their open submissions, and walked back the announcement with respect to Storywise, saying they will resume using their inbox system.

Editor’s note: Adrian Moher has a good roundup about the controversy at Astrolabe Digest: 040824. (Moher provided the link in his social media.)

(2) ON THE WAY TO THE CENTERLINE. Rich Lynch snapped this photo of the view from Interstate 87, in the middle of Adirondack Park while on his way to witness today’s eclipse. (Click for larger image to read sign).

No pictures of the event itself, though. “I don’t have any eclipse photos on my iPhone.” But Rich says, “It very much did exceed my expectations, even with the sun having to burn its way through a thin cloud layer.”

(3) STOKERCON 2024 ADDS GOH. Rob Savage was announced today as StokerCon 2024’s fifth Guest of Honor.

Rob Savage initially gained attention at the age of 19 when he wrote, directed, produced, and edited the low-budget romantic drama film Strings (2012), he later became more widely known for his work in horror films and has since co-written and directed lockdown horror hit Host (2020), co-written and directed Dashcam (2021), and directed Stephen King adaptation The Boogeyman (2023).

The con also signal-boosted HWA’s Librarian’s Day.

This year’s Librarian’s Day on Friday, May 31, 2024, once again offers fantastic programming featuring the conference’s guest authors on timely topics and more. Librarian’s Day ticket holders ($60) will have access to the Dealers Room and other areas of the full conference throughout the day.  

(4) DETROIT FURRY CON VICTIMIZED AGAIN. “Motor City Furry Con evacuated for second straight year” reports Audacy.

For a second straight year Motor City Furry Con attendees were forced to be evacuated from their hotel due to a threat.

The nature of the threat was not clear, but officials with the convention confirmed Sunday the Ann Arbor Marriott Ypsilanti at Eagle Crest in Ypsilanti was evacuated around 9 a.m.

The “all clear” was given around 12:30 p.m. and the final day of convention activities resumed.

Sunday’s evacuation comes a year after attendees were evacuated from the same hotel due to an emailed bomb threat. Ultimately, there were no injuries or any explosives found last March.

The Motor City Furry Con is a convention for people who “appreciate the anthropomorphic lifestyle,” according to a report from The Detroit Free Press.

The Detroit Free Press article also noted, “Event attendee Scoops took to social media to celebrate the second year of being an evacuee.”

(5) SLOWLY WE TURNED, STEP BY STEP. “Caeciliusinhorto” has written an impressive perspective piece synthesizing all the news items that comprise “The 2023 Hugo Awards fuckup” for Reddit’s r/HobbyDrama.

… After much discussion, the general consensus seemed to coalesce around a combination of two or three explanations: firstly, active censorship by the Hugo administrators, possibly due to pressure from the Chinese government (national or local); secondly, incompetence; and perhaps thirdly, weird nominator behaviour (possibly including organised voting blocs). For a while things stalled there: the data was obviously wrong, the most plausible explanation seemed to be some combination of cock-up and conspiracy, and there was no prospect of anyone finding out anything more.

And then we found out more….

(6) SURE. MAYBE. DUNNO. ABSOLUTELY NOT. Nautilus asked six sff writers “Does Science Fiction Shape the Future?”.

Behind most every tech billionaire is a sci-fi novel they read as a teenager. For Bill Gates it was Stranger in a Strange Land, the 1960s epic detailing the culture clashes that arise when a Martian visits Earth. Google’s Sergey Brin has said it was Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash, the cyberpunk classic about hackers and computer viruses set in an Orwellian Los Angeles. Jeff Bezos cites Iain M. Banks’ Culture series, which unreel in an utopian society of humanoids and artificial intelligences, often orchestrated by “Minds,” a powerful AI. Elon Musk named three of SpaceX’s landing drones after starships from Banks’ books, a tribute to the role they played in turning his eyes to the stars.

Part of this makes sense. Science fiction widens the frontiers of our aspirations. It introduces us to new technologies that could shape the world, and new ideas and political systems that could organize it. It’s difficult to be an architect of the future without a pioneer’s vision of what that future might look like. For many, science fiction blasts that vision open.

Yet these tech titans seem to skip over the allegories at the heart of their favorite sci-fi books. Musk has tweeted, “If you must know, I am a utopian anarchist of the kind best described by Iain Banks.” Yet in Banks’ post-scarcity utopia, billionaires and their colossal influence are banished to the most backward corners of the galaxy.

Recently, I interviewed six of today’s foremost science-fiction authors. I asked them to weigh in on how much impact they think science fiction has had, or can have, on society and the future….

The interview subjects are N.K. Jemisin, Andy Weir, Lois McMaster Bujold, David Brin, Cory Doctorow and Charles Stross. Here’s a quote from Stross:

Charles Stross: Yes, the entire current AI bubble is exactly that. The whole idea of AI has been turned into the centerpiece of a secular apocalyptic religion in which we can create superhumanly intelligent slaves that will solve all our knottily human intellectual problems, then work out how to liberate our pure soul-stuff from these clumsy rotting meatbags and upload us into a virtual heaven. And right now, some of the biggest tech companies out there are run by zealots who believe this stuff, even though we have no clear understanding of the mechanisms underlying consciousness. It’s an unsupported mass of speculation, but it’s threatening to derail efforts to reduce our carbon footprint and mitigate the climate crisis by encouraging vast energy expenditure.

(7) MONSTER BOX OFFICE. Godzilla x Kong rang the registers loudly last weekend reports Variety.

“Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire” dominated the domestic box office again, looming large over newcomers “Monkey Man” and “The First Omen.”

Warner Bros. and Legendary Entertainment’s monster tentpole added $31.7 million from 3,948 theaters in its second weekend of release. Ticket sales dropped a standard (for a tentpole of its size and scale) 60% from its mighty $80 million debut and stand at $132 million domestically and $361 million globally.

First-time director Dev Patel’s action thriller “Monkey Man” nabbed second place with $10.1 million from 3,029 venues, while Disney and 20th Century’s supernatural prequel “The First Omen” trailed at the No. 4 spot with a muted $8.4 million from 3,375 locations….

(8) PEAK TELEVISION. “Twin Peaks’ Agent Cooper: How TV’s strangest detective was born” – BBC went right to the source.

… Writer Mark Frost told the BBC’s Late Show that part of the inspiration behind the character was the show’s co-creator and director David Lynch. 

“I tried to base that character on David to some extent,” said Frost. “A lot of his quirkiness and attention to detail, which are things that David has in great abundance, sort of came to the surface with that character. I guess his interest in people’s obsessions, and characters who are obsessed with something, are pretty common with other things he’s done.” …

(9) SMALL BUSINESS. And what is David Lynch working on today? “David Lynch Still Wants To Make Animated Movie ‘Snootworld’: Interview” at Deadline. Netflix said no – maybe someone else will say yes.

…“I don’t know when I started thinking about Snoots but I’d do these drawings of Snoots and then a story started to emerge,” Lynch told us in a rare interview. “I got together with Caroline and we worked on a script. Just recently I thought someone might be interested in getting behind this so I presented it to Netflix in the last few months but they rejected it.”

Lynch was philosophical about the reasons for that decision: “Snootworld is kind of an old fashioned story and animation today is more about surface jokes. Old fashioned fairytales are considered groaners: apparently people don’t want to see them. It’s a different world now and it’s easier to say no than to say yes.”

Thompson described the storyline to us as “wackadoo”: “It takes my breath away how wacky it is. The Snoots are these tiny creatures who have a ritual transition at aged eight at which time they get tinier and they’re sent away for a year so they are protected. The world goes into chaos when the Snoot hero of the story disappears into the carpet and his family can’t find him and he enters a crazy, magnificent world”….

(10) WHO WAS THAT MASKED MAN? “Star Trek Discovery’s Doug Jones Reveals How He Said Goodbye to Saru (And It Involves Whitney Houston)”Comicbook.com listens in.

Star Trek: Discovery‘s long-awaited fifth season finally debuted this week on Paramount+, and it marks the beginning of the end for the series. ComicBook.com recently had the chance to chat with some of the show’s cast, and they opened up about saying goodbye to their characters in the final season. Doug Jones (Saru) revealed how he said farewell to the character he began playing in 2017, and it involves an iconic song…

“Oh yeah,” Jones said when asked if he was able to keep any part of Saru after the show finished filming. “I wasn’t gonna let that go. Yeah. My final time taking Saru off, I did not cut him up and throw him across the room at all,” he added, referencing the famous story of René Auberjonois throwing his Odo mask at the showrunner at the end of Deep Space Nine. “I held him on my hand and we were playing a Whitney Houston song and I sang ‘I Will Always Love You’ to him and somebody was recording it. So I hope that’s out there somewhere.”…

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born April 8, 1974 Nnedi Okorafor, 50. Tonight we have Nnedi Okorafor, a truly phenomenal writer. 

She’s Nigerian, and has coined two words to describe her literary focus, Africanfuturism, and Africanjujuism. The latter word identifies the Afrocentric subgenre of fantasy fiction that draws on African spiritualities and cosmologies. Cool. 

Let’s start with some of her work as comic book writer.  The LaGuardia series that she wrote for was published by Berger Books. The collection won a Graphic Story Hugo Award at ConZealand, and her Black Panther: Long Live the King was nominated at Dublin 2019. She did other work in the Panther universe as well — Shuri in which Black Panther is missing and she has to find him (great story), Wakanda Forever and Shuri: Wakanda Forever

I started there as I love her writing in this medium. Now let me pick my favorite novellas and novels by her. 

The Binti trilogy is an extraordinary feat of writing and my favorite reading experience by her. The Binti” novella which leads it off won a Hugo at MidAmeriCon II. Then came the “Binti: Home” novella which was nominatedfor a Hugo at Worldcon 76 and the final “Binti: The Night Masquerade” novella to date which was nominatedfor a Hugo at Dublin 2019. 

Lagoon is a deep dive in Nigerian mythology including Legba in the forefront here, in what is a SF novel as aliens and humans come together to form a new postcapitalist Nigeria. Neat concept well executed, characters are fascinating and the story is done well. 

(12) COMICS SECTION.

(13) IT COULDN’T HURT. “Fallout Moves To California For Season 2 With Big Tax Credit Award”Deadline pencils in the numbers.

Just days before its debut, Fallout looks to be assured a second season thanks to a $25 million tax credit from California.

Officially, Amazon has not said yet that the Prime Video series is coming back, but, with some hints from executive producers Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan recently, it is pretty clear the money is doing the talking here. Receiving one of the largest allocations ever from the program for a relocating series, the LA-set post-apocalyptic drama is among a dozen shows awarded $152 million in incentives.

Primetime prequel NCIS: Originsthe Noah Wyle starring The Pitt, plus the Ryan Murphy executive produced Dr. Odyssey starring Joshua Jackson, and Grotesquerie starring Emmy winner Niecy Nash also were awarded credits through the California Film Commission run $330 million annual program – as you can see below….

… Of course, being awarded the tax credits, even big bucks like what Fallout has reaped, is no guarantee a project will go forward. The allocations are conditional on certain timelines being met, and a number of films and shows, like Season 2 of Amazon’s spy saga Citadel, have dropped out of the program after getting a green light….

(14) FILM CENSORSHIP. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Though not SF in itself, this half-hour radio programme, Screenshot, will be of interest to anyone over here in Brit Cit who are fans of fantastic films.  It explains how Britain ranks its films for age suitability. Those in the rebel colonies are not ignored as there is a section comparing Britain’s system with that in the US. It seems we get a better deal over here. Meanwhile, along the way Kim Newman (co-master of ceremonies at the 2005 Hugo ceremony) gets a name check.

As the British Board of Film Classification publishes its new guidelines, Ellen E Jones and Mark Kermode delve into the long, chequered history of film censorship and classification in the UK.

Mark speaks to BBFC President (and original Strictly Come Dancing winner) Natasha Kaplinsky about her role, and about her reaction to the new guidelines. And he discusses the Board’s controversial history, and some of its most notorious decisions, with ex-BBFC Head of Compliance Craig Lapper.

Ellen talks to director Prano Bailey-Bond about her debut film Censor, which was inspired by the ‘video nasty’ moral panic of the 1980s. And pop culture critic Kayleigh Donaldson talks her through some of the differences between the BBFC and its US equivalent, the MPA Ratings Board.

Half hour prog here: BBC Radio 4 – Screenshot, “Censorship”.

(15) THE ELEPHANT NOT IN THE ROOM. “US company hoping to bring back the dodo and the mammoth – but here’s why it won’t be like Jurassic Park” explains Sky News.

… “We’ve got all the technology we need,” says Ben Lamm, chief executive of the firm, based in Dallas, Texas.

“It is just a focus of time and funding. But we are 100% confident [we can bring back] the Tasmanian tiger, the dodo, and the mammoth.”

The science behind the project is simple: Work out the genes that make an extinct animal what it is, and then replicate those genes using the DNA of a close existing relative….

… So after around 4,000 years of extinction, when could we see the return of the mighty mammoth – a creature that fell victim to human hunting and the changing conditions brought about by the end of the last Ice Age.

“We are well into the editing phase,” says Mr Lamm.

“We don’t have mammoths yet, but we still feel very good about 2028.”…

(16) STAND BY FOR MANIACAL LAUGHTER. “Animaniacs in Concert” will be presented at Pepperdine in Malibu on April 19. Buy tickets at the link. Learn more about the show itself at their website: “Animaniacs – IN CONCERT”.

Join the leading voice cast of Animaniacs—the iconic animated Warner Bros. series created and produced by Steven Spielberg—for a “zany, animany and totally insaney” evening as they perform the world-famous songs backed by projections from the beloved cartoon TV series. The live show celebrates the creative inspiration behind the songs with lots of audience interaction and never-before-told behind-the-scenes insider stories shared by the show’s original Emmy-Winning composer Randy Rogel and iconic voice actors like Rob Paulsen (Yakko) and Maurice LaMarche (The Brain) to some of the most unforgettable characters in the history of animation. Special guest Nancy Cartwright joins for this performance. Nancy, of course, is Bart Simpson, a lead character in a “globally known property,”  as well as Mindy in Animaniacs, from “Mindy and Buttons.”  

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Warp Zone’s video “If the Star Wars ‘Cantina Song’ Had Lyrics” was first posted six years ago – but it is news to me! (Maybe you, too?)

[Thanks to SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Steven French, Mike Kennedy, Mark Roth-Whitworth, Lise Andreasen, Daniel Dern, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Igvar.]

Lis Carey Review: The City We Became (Great Cities Trilogy #1)

We know New York City is a great city. That New York City has a soul. But New York City is about to become a living city, and its avatar needs to arise from the city, and become the personification of the city. Or, in this case, avatars. And they need to face a threat previous living cities have not faced, and refuse to believe in.

The City We Became (Great Cities Trilogy #1). N.K. Jemisin (author) and Robin Miles (narrator). Hachette Audio, ISBN 9781549119736, March 2020

Review by Lis Carey: We all know that great cities have spirits, souls, living identities. New York City is unquestionably a great city, and as one might expect of New York, it’s a little bit different than most other great cities. It has an avatar for each of its five boroughs, and a sixth avatar, the avatar of the whole city.

But New York City is just being born, just coming alive, and its avatars don’t yet understand what and who they are, or what they need to do. And there’s a new danger out there, that most of the older cities have not faced–nor do the older cities believe the few newest cities who are telling them something new is going on.

Sao Paolo, newest city to be born, to manifest into life, with but a single avatar, has been assigned the task of midwifing the City of New York into life. He’s worried, but all he really knows is that something seems different, and that the cities that have had multiple avatars, have either failed to be successfully born, or, like London, clearly went through something very traumatic, and emerged with one avatar that is not eager to mix with the other cities. Sao Paolo is afraid the birth of New York is going to be very bad, and perhaps fail.

He also expects that if New York is successful, the five borough avatars will be absorbed into the City avatar, and no longer exist separately.

When the avatars of Manhattan, Queens, the Bronx, and Brooklyn learn this, well, they have their own opinions. As for the fifth borough, Staten Island, well, something else entirely, and far more disturbing, is going on with her.

Manhattan, a.k.a. Manny, is a mixed-race young man who had just arrived in NYC on a bus, intending to start a new life. This gets a bit more comprehensive than intended when the first manifestations of the city being born cause him to lose his memory of his own identity, and anything but the broad outlines of his plans. He’s now Manhattan, and has to figure out what that means for him.

Brooklyn is a middle-aged woman, former famous singer and DJ, now city politician and mother of a teenage daughter. Brooklyn really is her given name; now she is also the avatar of the borough.

Bronca Siwanoy is a Lenape woman, in her 60s, an artist, and director of the Bronx art center. She is also, now, the avatar of the Bronx.

Padmini Prakesh is in her twenties, a Tamil immigrant and grad student, a mathematician, and now the avatar of Queens.

Aislyn Houlihan, white, thirty, lives with her parents on Staten Island, has never actually been off Staten Island to visit any other part of the city. Now the avatar of Staten Island.

And of course, New York, a young, homeless, black man, a gifted artist who does his work as graffiti.

These are highly individual, proud, often contentious people, with strengths, weaknesses, and sometimes counterproductive impulses to think their borough is the most valuable, or the only one they need to care about–and if New York City is to survive, they need to find ways to work together.

This turns out to be a little more literal than merely the sense of having a living avatar or avatars to support and protect the city. There really is something new and different going on, and the city, all the living and potentially living cities of Earth have an Enemy.

I got sucked into the story, and the characters, right away. Jemisin is a wonderful writer, and Miles does a great job with the narration. Highly recommended.

I bought this audiobook.

Lis Carey Review: The City Born Great

The City Born Great (Great Cities #0.5), by N.K. Jemisin (author), Landon Woodson (narrator); Macmillan Audio, ISBN 9781250773302, May 2020 (original publication 2016)

Review by Lis Carey: The process of a great city being born as a living city starts sooner than we might realize from just the birth itself. Living cities, actual and potential have enemies, and they need protectors.

This is a short story about one of New York’s midwives, a young man about a decade earlier than the actual birth, coached–and coaxed–by Paolo, the avatar of San Paolo. He’s a street painter, and a singer, and he’d really rather not have the responsibility, but the city calls to him, and enemy needs to be stopped.

The narration is wonderful, and the story is a lovely addition to the two books so far in the Great Cities series.

I bought this audiobook.

Pixel Scroll 1/6/24 10 Pixels To Scroll, Number 9 Will SHOCK You

(1) 2024 IS LAST YEAR KRESS AND WILLIAMS RUNNING TAOS TOOLBOX. Taos Toolbox, a two-week master class in writing science fiction and fantasy helmed by authors Nancy Kress and Walter Jon Williams, is open for submissions.

And as part of the announcement Williams told Facebook readers, “This will be the last year that Nancy and I will be doing this. Taos Toolbox may continue under new management (it’s under discussion), but Nancy and I won’t be running things.”

This year’s Taos Toolobox workshop will take place June 2-15, 2024, in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Special Guest for 2024 is the creator of The Expanse, James S.A. Corey, in reality the writing team of Daniel Abraham and Ty Frank…

Special lecturers this year include Jeffe Kennedy, who currently holds the office of President of the Science Fiction Writers of America. She’s been widely published and has special expertise in indiepub, and owns her own press.

The second special lecturer is Diana Rowland, who at various times been an Air Force pilot, a Las Vegas card dealer, a detective for a sheriff’s office in Louisiana, and a morgue assistant, occupations that contributed to writing her Demon and White Trash Zombie series.

(2) MISSING ROYALTIES. Authors are the hidden victims of the cyber-attack on the British Library, which has prevented them receiving an annual rights payment. The Guardian explains: “Richard Osman among authors missing royalties amid ongoing cyber-attack on British Library”.

…In February 2023, those authors would have been paid thousands of pounds each from Public Lending Right (PLR) payments – money earned by writers, illustrators and translators each time a book is borrowed. But not this year.

Ongoing fallout from a massive cyber-attack means that PLR payments will not be paid as expected while the British Library, which manages the service, fights to restore its crippled systems.

Every time an author’s book is borrowed from a library, they get about 13p, capped at £6,600 a year. To authors like Osman and JK Rowling, whose first Harry Potter book was also on last year’s top read list, this might be a drop in the ocean, but for many authors whose books are library favourites it is a different matter….

The British Library was hit by a cyber-attack at the end of October. At the time, its chief executive, Sir Roly Keating, said that access to even basic communication tools such as email was initially lost. “We took immediate action to isolate and protect our network but significant damage was already done.

“Having breached our systems, the attackers had destroyed their route of entry and much else besides, encrypting or deleting parts of our IT estate.”…

(3) STEVE VERTLIEB MEDICAL UPDATE. File 770 contributor Steve Vertlieb was briefly hospitalized after suffering a mini-stroke on January 4. He told Facebook friends:

Well, there’s good news and bad news early in the new year. The bad news is, that while at needed physical therapy for my balance on Thursday afternoon, I began babbling unintelligibly. I knew what I wanted to say to my trainers but, when it physically left my lips, it became distorted beyond recognition, rather like mumbling incoherently in my sleep.

They called an ambulance and rushed me to nearby Nazareth Hospital where I spent the next twenty-four hours.

I continued complaining, while in the ambulance, that I simply wanted to go home but they drove me, instead, to the Emergency Room.

I began recovering once we reached the waiting hospital. However, to be on the safe side, they kept me overnight in a hospital room. I knew that I must have been returning to “normal,” however, when I began cracking jokes.

It appears that I must have suffered a “T.I.A,” or what’s called a “mini-stroke.” However, following that isolated assault on my sensory nerves, the seemingly isolated attack that apparently came out of nowhere somehow abated and I’ve recovered.

I had a single previous occurrence some eighteen months earlier on what was to have been my last night in Los Angeles. It’s frightening. I can tell you that. The wiring in your brain goes … you should excuse the expression … “haywire.”

I asked the doctors what I can do to keep this from happening again. They said “You’re doing it. You’re taking all the right medications. Just keep an eye out for trouble signs in future.”

What’s the good news, you may well ask?????????? Well, the simple answer is that I’m Home once more!!!!!!!!!! Unlike the esteemed Mr. Bond, I’m “shaken, yet stirred.” “Toto, We’re home …. We’re Home.”

(4) SFWA’S COPYRIGHT OFFICE RESPONSE. Following up SFWA’s October 30th comments to the Copyright Office, they had the opportunity to respond to some of the many other comments received. With over 9,000 responses, SFWA “focused on specific aspects of the conversation around fair use that we felt were not given due attention, as well as to raise concerns that are unique to our community.” Their 10-page response document can be downloaded from Regulations.gov at the link.

One topic SFWA discussed is the scraping of content that is offered free to readers by online sff magazines.

…SFWA acknowledges the problem of generative AI scraping pirated material published as copy-protected ebooks by professional publishers, but SFWA additionally has the unique position of representing many authors who have fought to make their work available for free for human readers. Over the last twenty years, many science fiction and fantasy authors of short fiction have embraced the open Internet, believing that it is good for society and for a flourishing culture that art be available to their fellow human beings regardless of ability to pay. That availability is not without cost; it is quite difficult to bring an online magazine to market, and being freely available has never meant abandoning the moral and legal rights of the authors, nor the obligation to enter into legal contracts to compensate authors for their work and spell out how it may and may not be used. But on balance, many writers and fans believe that freely sharing stories is a good thing that enriches us all.

The current content-scraping regime preys on that good-faith sharing of art as a connection between human minds and the hard work of building a common culture. The decision to publish creative work online to read and share for free is not guaranteed; it is a trade-off of many factors including piracy, audience, and the simple (albeit elusive) ability to make a living. In too many comments to enumerate here, individual authors have made clear that they regard the use of their work for training AI to be another important factor in that mix, and the ultimate effect on the short fiction marketplace and its role in our culture is far from certain. Bluntly, many authors do not want their work taken for this purpose, and that cannot be ignored.

“If my work is just going to get stolen, and if some company’s shareholders are going to get the benefit of my labor and skill without compensating me, I see no reason to continue sharing my work with the public — and a lot of other artists will make the same choice.” (N. K. Jemisin, COLC-2023-0006- 0521)

The developers of AI systems seem to believe that a green light to use scraped copyrighted work will result in a clear field for them to continue freeloading forever; we fear rather that it will result in large swathes of artistic work removed from the commons, locked behind paywalls and passwords to the detriment of all….

(5) AURORA AWARDS. [Item by Danny Sichel.] The Eligibility Lists for this year’s Aurora Awards are open. If you’re aware of any genre work produced by Canadians, submit it. (CSFFA membership required — $10 – to make an addition to the lists.)

(6) WESTERCON 2025 UP FOR ADOPTION. Kevin Standlee announced a “Committee Formed to Select Site of 2025 Westercon” at Westercon.org.

Because no bid filed to host Westercon 77, selection of the site of the 2025 Westercon devolved upon the 2023 Westercon Business Meeting held at Westercon 75 (in conjunction with Loscon 49) in Los Angeles on November 25, 2023. The Westercon 75 Business Meeting voted to award Westercon 77 to a “Caretaker Committee” consisting of Westercon 74 Chair Kevin Standlee and Vice Chair Lisa Hayes with the understanding that they would attempt to select a site and committee to run Westercon 77 and transfer the convention to that committee.

Any site in North America west of 104° west longitude or in Hawaii is eligible to host Westercon 75. There are no other restrictions other than the bid has to be for dates in calendar year 2025. All other restrictions in the Westercon Bylaws are suspended, per section 3.16 of the Westercon Bylaws.

To submit a bid to the 2025 Caretaker Committee to host Westercon 77, contact Kevin Standlee at [email protected], or send a paper application to Lisa Hayes at PO Box 242, Fernley NV 89408. Include information about the proposed site, the proposed dates, and the proposed operating committee. The Caretaker Committee asks that groups interested in hosting Westercon 77 contact them by the end of February 2024.

Should the Caretaker Committee be unable to make a determination for a site for Westercon 77 by Westercon 76 in Salt Lake City (July 4-7, 2024), and assuming that no bid files to host Westercon 77, the Caretaker Committee will ask the Business Meeting of Westercon 76 for additional guidance on how to handle Westercon Site Selection.

(7) MOVING FORWARD – AT OLD MAN SPEED. Tor.com notified those not reading Bluesky that “Netflix’s Adaptation of John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War Is Still In The Works”.

We first found out that Netflix optioned the rights to John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War over six years ago, back in December 2017. It’s not uncommon for things to get optioned but never get made (Old Man’s War, in fact, had been previously optioned by Paramount and Syfy without making it to the production stage), but it sounds like the Netflix movie adaptation is still moving forward.

Scalzi gave an update on the project over on Bluesky yesterday, where he said that work on it is “slowly but surely moving along.”…

(8) COPPOLA’S NEXT APOCALYPSE. Another long-awaited sff project finished filming last year and should actually get released sometime: “Francis Ford Coppola Says ‘Megalopolis’ Is Coming Soon” at Collider.

Francis Ford Coppola is renowned as the mastermind behind some of the greatest pieces of cinema in history but as all legends do, he refuses to rest on his laurels and he’s preparing to release his first film in over a decade with his self-funded star-studded sci-fi drama, Megalopolis. The film has been mired by a number of setbacks, but filming wrapped on the project back in March. And now, we won’t have much longer to wait for it to arrive, as Coppola revealed on the latest episode of The Accutron Show.

The film has an eye-watering array of talent attached, including Adam Driver, Forest Whitaker, Nathalie Emmanuel, Jon Voight, Laurence Fishburne, Aubrey Plaza, Shia LaBeouf, Chloe Fineman, Kathryn Hunter, Dustin Hoffman, DB Sweeney, Talia Shire, Jason Schwartzman, Bailey Ives, Grace Vanderwaal, James Remar, and Giancarlo Esposito.

All that’s known so far about the film so far is that it has a futuristic setting and that it will revolve around the idea of humanity attempting to build some sort of utopian society in the wake of a natural disaster. Other than that, it’s anybody’s guess, and Coppola isn’t up for explaining more quite yet.

(9) WAS THIS THE BEST SF OF 2023? [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Every January the SF2 Concatenation have an informal survey as to the best SF novels and films of the previous year. It is strictly informal and a bit of fun, enabling team members see what more than one of the others rate. The years have shown that this informal survey has form in that invariably some of the chosen works go on to be short-listed, and sometimes even win, major SF awards later in the year. SF² Concatenation have just advance-posted their selection for 2023 as part of the “Best Science Fiction of the Year Possibly?” post. Scroll down to see how previous years’ choices fared…

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born January 6, 1905 Eric Frank Russell. (Died 1978.) So let’s talk about the British writer Eric Frank Russell. His first published piece of fiction was in the first issue of Tales of Wonder called “The Prr-r-eet” (1937). (Please don’t tell me it was about cats.) He also had a letter of comment in Astounding Stories that year. He wrote a lot of such comments down the years. 

Eric Frank Russell

Just two years later, his first novel, Sinister Barrier, would be published as the cover story as the first issue of Unknown. His second novel, Dreadful Sanctuary, would be serialized in AstoundingUnknown’s sister periodical, in 1948.

At Clevention, “Allamagoosa” would win a Short Story Hugo.  The Great Explosion novel garnered  a Prometheus Hall of Fame Award.

Now let’s note some reworkings he did as I like them a lot. Men, Martians and Machines published in 1955 is four related novellas of space adventures at their very best. 

The 1956 Three to Conquer, nominated for a Hugo at NY Con II is a reworking of the earlier Call Him Dead magazine serial that deals with an alien telepath and very well at that. Finally Next of Kin, also known as The Space Willies, shows him being comic, something he does oh so well. It was a novella-length work in Astounding first.

And then there’s the Design for Great-Day novel which was written by Alan Dean Foster. It’s an expansion by him based off a 1953 short story of the same name by Russell. I’m pretty familiar with Foster has done but this isn’t ringing even the faintest of bells. Who’s read it? 

He wrote an extraordinary amount of short stories, around seventy by my guess. 

(My head trauma means numbers and I have at best a tenuous relationship. I once counted the turkeys left over after we distributed them at a food pantry I staffed pre-knee injury. Three times I counted. I got, if I remember correctly now, twelve, fifteen and eighteen birds. I had someone else do it.)

Short Stories Collection is the only one available at the usual suspects. He’s an author who needs a definitive short story collection done for him. 

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • Free Range shows there are always lines.
  • Edith Pritchett’s cartoon for the Guardian recalls how “I climbed the tube station steps and entered another dimension.” Steven French adds, “Of marginal genre interest but having walked up those steps, this made me laugh!”

(12) PIONEERING WOMAN COMICS ARTIST RETIRES. BoingBoing pays tribute as “Aquaman, Metamorpho, and Brenda Starr cartoonist Ramona Fradon retires”.

Famed cartoonist Ramona Fradon is retiring at the age of 97, according to a January 3 announcement from her comic art dealer Catskill Comics….

An extremely long run, indeed. Her comic book career started in 1950, and her career highlights include a 1959 revamp and long run on Aquaman, the co-creation of DC’s offbeat superhero Metamorpho with writer Bob Haney in 1965, a run on Super Friends in the 1970s, and the comic strip Brenda Starr, Reporter from 1980-1995.

She also was a pioneer, as one of the only women working in comics during the first decades of her career.

Cartoonist and curator of the Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco Andrew Farago wrote on BlueSky, “Ramona Fradon retires today at the age of 97, just a little shy of Al Jaffee’s retirement age of 99. Not sure if that means that cartooning keeps you young or if it just means that cartooning keeps you broke, but what a body of work she’s produced over the past eight decades!”…

(13) WHAT THEY WILL READ IN 2024. “’I want some light in my life’: eight writers make their new year reading resolutions “ – the Guardian’s collection of quotes includes a declaration from Sheena Patel.

‘I’m turning to sci-fi and dystopia’
Sheena Patel

I have a fascination with sci-fi that is purely theoretical. I often think about reading it but never make any attempt to go near such books because I am afraid of the imagination I will find there. Perhaps I haven’t felt I can really access the genre because sci-fi feels like what Black and Brown people can go through on a daily basis. We’re still in an age of empire, even though we are distracted from this knowledge.

I do love sci-fi films though. I had a true epiphany when I saw Jonathan Glazer’s Under the Skin at the cinema. It was so strange, the alien mixed with the mundane, documentary spliced with fantastical set pieces. Next year I think I will read the Michel Faber book from which the movie was adapted.

In 2024 I also want to tackle Frank Herbert’s Dune books. Earlier this year, I watched the film on my laptop maybe 50 times. At first, I hated it, but then I totally fell in love with it – the visual representation of different worlds opened my mind. Throat singing and nomadic desert tribes could be used as a mood board for the future, but this is already happening now in communities that are regarded as “primitive”. It is the future because it is eternal – such a beautiful thought.

We are fed so much dystopia that reading it in fiction feels hard – but, as the world burns, maybe it is a good idea to hear from artists about where we might be heading. So the other three titles I will try are classics: Octavia E Butler’s KindredStanisław Lem’s Solaris and The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K Le Guin. The present feels so bleak, and our vision of the future so foreshortened, it almost seems like tempting fate – but, without science fiction, how can we dream?

I’m a Fan by Sheena Patel is published in paperback by Granta

(14) HOOFING IT TO MOUNT DOOM. They say “One does not simply walk into Mordor,” but apparently they exaggerated. The Conqueror Virtual Challenges is a thematic program to encourage you to exercise by walking, running, and biking, with solo variations costing from $49.95 to bundles costing $299.95 and up. This link takes you to All 8 LOTR Conqueror Virtual Challenges.

Follow Frodo and Aragorn on an epic journey across Middle-earth with the ULTIMATE THE LORD OF THE RINGS Virtual Challenge Series.

Walk, run or cycle all the way from The Shire to Mount Doom in an epic adventure with one goal – destroying the One Ring. Complete this unforgettable saga by following Aragorn into battle and restoring peace to Middle-earth.

(15) CITY OF HEROES. “11 years after this cult classic superhero MMO was shut down, the original publisher has given its blessing to the community’s custom servers” reports GamesRadar+.

Despite the shutdown of the beloved superhero MMO City of Heroes over a decade ago, fans have been keeping it alive for years with a variety of custom server efforts. Now, one of those projects has just gotten the blessing of the game’s original publisher and license holder, NCSoft.

City of Heroes: Homecoming made the surprising announcement earlier today that “Homecoming has been granted a license to operate a City of Heroes server and further develop the game – subject to conditions and limitations under the contract.” The Homecoming project will remain free and donation-funded, and while there are a few changes to how the project is being managed, it doesn’t look like players will see any meaningful differences in the game itself.

“NCSoft has always had (and will continue to have) the right to demand that Homecoming shuts down,” as the announcement notes. “This agreement provides a framework under which Homecoming can operate the game in a way that complies with NCSoft’s wishes in hopes of minimizing the chances of that happening. We’ve had a really positive and productive relationship with NCSoft for over four years now, so we do not anticipate there being any issues.”…

…The question mark that currently weighs over the license for Homecoming is what this means for other custom server projects, like City of Heroes Rebirth. Today’s announcement notes that “other servers are out of scope” for this license, and the devs say that “our hope is that our license will help us consolidate our userbase with City of Heroes fans from other servers.” There’s already a bit of fear in the community that other private servers might start to disappear following this news, but only time will tell what will happen on that front….

(16) RECORDS BROKEN. Gizmodo tells why “Doctor Who’s New Streaming Home Has Been a Huge Success” – that is, for viewers who can accesss the BBC platform.

To celebrate Doctor Who’s 60th anniversary last year, the BBC made a huge, unprecedented move: for the first time, almost the entirety of Doctor Who, from episodes from 1963 all the way up to the then-airing anniversary specials, would be made available to stream in the UK in one place, on the BBC’s own streaming platform iPlayer. And it turns out doing so has helped the BBC break streaming records over the festive period.

The corporation has announced that Doctor Who—and most specifically Doctor Who episodes from 2005 onwards—were streamed 10.01 million times over the week between Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve, helping the platform break a previous record for streamed content for the week between January 2 and January 8, 2023, with 177 million programs being streamed in total….

It’s hard to say just how that success has panned out internationally, however. The BBC’s new deal with Disney to stream Doctor Who on Disney+ everywhere but the UK and Ireland only covers new episodes from the 60th anniversary onwards—other contemporary and classic Doctor Who access is spread out on various platforms elsewhere, such as Britbox for classic Doctor Who and Max for post-2005 Doctor Who.

(17) MY BLUE HEAVEN(S). [Item by Mike Kennedy.] So you know how astronomers are always using false color images to show this detail or that detail or what something would look like if it was only in the visible spectrum or some such? well, those can leave lasting misimpression.

New images showing color-corrected true-color likenesses of Uranus and Neptune show the latter ice giant—rather than being a dark blue—is only slightly darker than the former.  “True blue: Neptune only slightly deeper colour than Uranus, say Oxford scientists” in the Guardian.

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Steven French, Kevin Standlee, Kathy Sullivan, Danny Sichel, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, and Chris Barkley  for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Thomas the Red.]

Pixel Scroll 11/24/23 “My Bellona” — Theme Song from Dhalgren: The Musical

(1) R’LYEH AND PUPPIES. Francis Gooding’s review of The World We Make includes comments placing it in recent genre history: “Slimed It: On N.K. Jemisin” in The London Review of Books.

…The backstory to this battle with Cthulhu was widely covered when The City We Became first appeared. It stretches back to 2011, when the Nigerian American writer Nnedi Okorafor won the World Fantasy Award for her novel Who Fears Death. The prize came with a trophy – an ugly sculpture of Lovecraft’s head – and Okorafor wrote a thoughtful, measured blog post about her conflicted feelings on getting the award, having discovered just how racist Lovecraft was. A petition was drawn up to have the Lovecraft trophy replaced, and there was something of a furore in the sci-fi and fantasy community about what to do with Lovecraft now that, belatedly, his influence and reputation had to be squared with his racism.

The debate that followed had the disheartening outlines familiar from other culture war clashes of the time. A reactionary bitterness at progressive political gains came to the surface, a sure sign of festering prejudice. A few years later, that lurking ressentiment assumed a more active form: a concerted effort by two organised groups of authors and fans (known as the ‘Sad Puppies’ and ‘Rabid Puppies’), to skew the public nomination process for the prestigious Hugo Awards in sci-fi publishing. In response to a perceived bias in favour of the liberal left in all its manifestations – Black and brown people, women, novels with progressive themes (‘boring message fic’), gay writers and so on – the Puppies flooded the nominations with their own picks. Some of the people involved were connected to the then ascendent alt-right, and racist abuse was aimed at Jemisin herself. But though the campaign succeeded in souring the atmosphere, it didn’t achieve its desired result: in 2016, on a slate dominated by the Puppies’ astroturfed nominees, Jemisin won the Hugo for best novel with The Fifth Season, the first book in her Broken Earth trilogy. She was the first Black writer to win the award. Both the book’s sequels, The Obelisk Gate and The Stone Sky, won the Hugo in subsequent years; a fourth Hugo followed in 2019 for the novella Emergency Skin.

The alt-right of the 2000s and early 2010s was preparing the ground for the subsequent radicalisation of the mainstream. The neofascist ideologies that once lurked in the subcultural margins have since become the basis of the ‘war on woke’, as an endless succession of manufactured outrages have bound small-c conservatives ever more tightly to what were once outré far-right positions. The eldritch bullshit that turbo-charged the Trump era wasn’t put back in its box. Jemisin evidently felt there was unfinished business. ‘The City Born Great’ was a knowing literary confrontation with the noisy and reactionary elements in the sci-fi community for whom Lovecraft remains talismanic.

In the novels, New York’s initial scrap with the Enemy expands to take in wider, ongoing struggles. Lovecraft, however, remains elemental. It eventually emerges that the Enemy is the personification of R’lyeh, the lost city from Lovecraft’s ‘The Call of Cthulhu’. Lovecraft’s stories often feature dead, inhuman cities from an unfathomably ancient past. Jemisin’s cities are the opposite, alive and defiantly human – real people, right now. And Jemisin makes sure to embody them in just the sort of people Lovecraft loathed. All the boroughs (bar Staten Island) are Black, Asian or Indigenous; and Manhattan, Queens, the Bronx and New Jersey – later an honorary sixth borough – are gay or queer…

(2) PERSONAL FAVORITE WHO MOMENTS. “’My favourite moment is me … not in a big-headed way!’ Stars share their best Doctor Who memories – part four” in the Guardian.

Neve McIntosh (played Silurians, including Madame Vastra, 2010-2014)

The episode A Good Man Goes to War was so special because they’d killed me off twice before and I was amazed to be asked back, as a goodie not a baddie, with Catrin Stewart as my fabulous kick-ass wife and brand new friend and stunt potato Dan Starkey! The best bit was filming the dematerialisation. The director cries “freeze!”. We are still as statues, two guys from the art department run out and flat-pack the Tardis, then, “action!”, and we all react to the Doctor disappearing off to a new adventure! Of course Madame Vastra is blase about it all but inside I was bursting with delight!

(3) WORKING HER WAY BACK. Writer Kelly Barnhill tells “How a Traumatic Brain Injury Changed Me” in an opinion piece for the New York Times.

[Ms. Barnhill is the author of “The Ogress and the Orphans.” She experienced a traumatic brain injury in 2021.]

I’ve been trying to write this essay for a very long time. Months, I think. Or maybe even longer, before I ever mentioned it to anyone, before I let anyone know that I was even capable of multiple sentences again. When all I could muster writing was a single sentence on a note card. My brain works differently now than it used to, and differently than I feel that it ought to. I told my speech therapist that I was frustrated that I haven’t been able to write fiction since experiencing a traumatic brain injury — which means that I am still, after nearly two years, unable to do my job.

He nodded with practiced care. “That must feel frustrating,” he said. “But maybe it’s important to focus on what you can do.”

Which is fair, I suppose. But I still wanted to clock him.

Healing from any injury is a process of rebuilding cells and tissues and structures — taking that which is broken and making it new again. Healing a brain injury is the process of rebuilding not only tissues and cells and the connections between those cells, but also memory, thoughts, imagination, the fundamentals of language and our very concept of ourselves.

I am rebuilding myself, you see. Right now. Sentence by sentence.

In December 2021, just a few months before the publication of two of my novels, “The Ogress and the Orphans” and “When Women Were Dragons,” I took a colossal spill down the stairs.

My husband heard me holler and found me in an unconscious heap. I remember none of this. It’s strange not remembering the moment that changed my life, that altered my work and vocation, that disrupted the me-ness of me. I think, though, that my body remembers it, even if I do not. A chaos of movement. A scramble through space. A short, sharp knock at the back of my head. And then a thunderous dark….

The piece discusses the many changes to her life and the challenges in recovery, and ends:

…But lately, I’ve had dreams of writing. I wake up in tears. What story was I writing? No idea. But each neuron shoots forth messages into the dark. A small candle. A lighthouse at the edge of a stormy ocean. I exist. I saw this. Felt this. Know this. Am this. Meanwhile, my sentences have grown. I’ve taken to using larger index cards. Sometimes I go as far as a steno pad. A full sheet of paper is too much — my eyes can’t track it very well. I get lost. I need something small and contained, where I can fit pretty words into a pretty sentence and allow them to become more than themselves.

Recently, I wrote a story. Only six sentences long, but a story nonetheless. With a character, a place and the passage of time. An opening, a turn, a conclusion. Such a small thing, a tiny accomplishment. And yet. I stared at the card for a long time, utterly astonished.

(4) DETAILS OF SERGEY LUKYANENKO’S DECEMBER BOOK TOUR IN CHINA. [Item by Ersatz Culture.] Further to the File 770 post on November 12, Sergey Lukanenko’s visit to China in December has now been publicly announced on Chinese social media.  That Weixin/WeChat piece describes him as a GoH of the 2023 Chengdu Worldcon (2023成都世界科幻大会荣誉主宾), despite his non-appearance then.

He will be making four appearances in Chengdu between December 1st and 4th, two in Beijing on the 7th and 8th, and a final one in Shanghai on the 10th.  Three organizations are listed as event co-hosts:

The announcement also indicates a number of people will be appearing alongside Lukyanenko at some of the events:

  • Yao Haijun – deputy editor-in-chief of Science Fiction World, Hugo finalist and member of the Chengdu concom
  • Jiang Zhenyu – member of the Chengdu concom
  • Baoshu – writer of a Three-Body Problem sequel, amongst other works

(5) ILYA SAYS, ‘OPEN CHANNEL BEEB…’ [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] There has been a lot the past week on BBC Radio 4 or the Home Service as I like to call it, of likely interest to Filers (and indeed SF² Concateneers)… 

This month’s Open Book has a substantive section on book banning in the USA (“Bestselling novelist Michael Connelly talks about his response to the ongoing campaigns banning books in American school libraries.”) We do not have this problem to such a degree over here in Brit Cit but, from coverage in File770, it is clearly a substantive issue in the US mega-cities and especially the Cursed Earth. You can listen to the programme here

Doctor Who is 60 this year and some of us in Brit Cit remember its first episode, peering out from behind the sofa. Anyway, the BBC has a number of programmes to mark this special anniversary. One of these was Doctor Who: The Wilderness Years that looked at why the original series ended and what happened over the years when the show was not on our screens. 

In December 1989 – after 26 years on TV, 694 episodes and seven different Doctors – Doctor Who, the longest running series in the history of British television, was quietly exterminated by the BBC. It remained off air for 16 years until the series was revived in 2005, quite spectacularly under the auspices of Russell T Davies with Christopher Eccleston as the Time Lord. But the period between 1989 and 2005 was a very special interregnum. Known as the Wilderness Years, they belonged to the true keepers of the flame, Doctor Who fans – and never had a wilderness proved so fertile. 

You can listen to the programme here

iPromise was a cyberpunk stand-alone radio play about a hacker hired by not nice people to break into a quantum computer so as to get at cryptocurrency…. 

A quantum cryptocurrency audio heist movie and psychological tech thriller exploring the illusory nature of money itself. Bit – real name Rebecca “Becky” Isobel Troughton, BIT, get it? – is in trouble. Big trouble. She’s only gone and hacked into US mainframes and brought the entire eastern seaboard to a standstill. And now she’s on everybody’s Most Wanted list. But Bit is no hacking ‘gun for hire’. She’s driven by principle and she’s the very best at what she does. So when shady government organisations come knocking in a bid to secure her services, she just sends them packing. Well, sort of. .

You can listen to the play here

Spores is a five-part SF series. Mysterious glowing fungi appear in a house. Father and son are exposed to its spores. The father becomes unresponsive and the mother takes it upon herself to get out with her son and go camping. But did they get away in time…? You can listen to episode one here; episode two here; episode three here; episode four here; episode five here.

(6) SF2C EXITS X. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] I see that a load of folk are leaving Twitter or X or whatever it is these days. Actually, SF² Concatenation left Twitter a few months ago after the Musk takeover. We only used Twitter for site alerts and not chat, and found only a handful of folk signed up to our account. But I had kept it going for those few die-hard followers, sometimes treating them to some early releases before they were announced on our various indices pages. The thing is that that account, @SF2Concat, was set up ages ago using a now defunct e-mail address.

One of the first things Musk did was to insist on strengthening passwords blocking accounts – such as ours – that did not have a password that included a number, symbol and Klingon hieroglyph. To get our account back, I’d have to give Twitter an extant e-mail address. Those that know me are aware that I really hate to sign up to anything (so, for example, for the first time since 1979 I will not be on the science programme of next year’s British Worldcon – Less work for me, so that’s a plus.)

Anyway, seeing the writing on the wall what with Musk’s apparent support of Trump’s ramblings, I decided not to continue with Twitter. The account is still there for future digital archaeologists.

For those wanting alerts, the wonderful Caroline frequently posts something on the BSFA Facebook page (last season edition alert here) which I mention because the BSFA is a worthy page to follow for a plethora of other reasons. And if you are on FB I give a shout out to one of Brit Cit’s local SF group pages North Heath SF.

(7) LET’S FIX THAT RIGHT UP. Artnet analyzes how “A Prankster Used A.I. to ‘Improve’ Edward Hopper’s Classic ‘Nighthawks’”.

The rise of artificial intelligence has created reams of new artworks, many of them generated, controversially, on the backs of artist’s existing pieces. Now, one X (formerly Twitter) user has shown a way that A.I. can offer “improvements” to classic works of art, starting with Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks, and even one of the art world’s most beloved critics may have fallen for the gag.

“Using AI, I was able to take some old painting and make it better,” posted X user Sonch (@soncharm) last week, sharing a jpeg of Edward Hopper’s famous scene of urban ennui, Nighthawks from 1942, how housed in the Art Institute of Chicago. “Where even is this? Who are the people? Huh? You’re too far away to really see the setup. Whole left side blank. Nothing here to grab onto,” Sonch complained….

Click on tweets for larger images.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born November 24, 1948 Spider Robinson, 75. Spider’s an American-born Canadian citizen who’s one of my favorite writers and individuals to boot. 

This is not a complete listing of what he’s written, just my experiences with him and what I think should be commented upon.

I wasn’t surprised to discover that his first sale, “The Guy with the Eyes”, published by Analog in February 1973, was one of his Callahan stories. Four years later, he released Callahan’s Crosstime Saloon, a collection of Callahan short stories. These stories, and the later novels, make frequent reference to the works of mystery writer John D. MacDonald’s Travis McGee stories.

I’m very fond of the Lady Slings The Booze and Booze and Callahan’s Key as these Callahan’s Crosstime Saloon novels allow him to develop the characters at length more than he dies in the short stories. 

It was at this time that he married Jeanne Robinson, with whom he later co-wrote the quite excellent Stardance trilogy. The first, “Stardance”, a novella, won a Hugo at IguanaCon II, and a Nebula as well. 

His first published novel, Telempath, was a reworking of the “By Any Other Name” novella. 

And there’s Variable Star which as you know was based on an outline by Heinlein. I think it was, errr, ok. Not great, not bad, just ok. 

Hugo wise, I mentioned the first “Stardance” novella garnered a Hugo as did his “By Any Other Name” novella at SunCon and “Melancholy Elephants” short story which also got a Hugo at ConStellation. He was an Astounding Award Best Writer as well. And he received a much deserved LASFS Forry Award for Lifetime Achievement. 

He hasn’t published anything since 2008 though he’s been working on a novel, Orphan Stars, for the last decade and is said to be working on his autobiography as well.

He was Toastmaster at MagiCon and Torcon 3.

Spider and Jeanne Robinson at MagiCon. Photo by Lenny Provenzano.

(9) COMICS SECTION.

(10) WORKING FOR THE DOCTOR EVERY NIGHT AND DAY. “’It’s £2m ploughed into Cardiff’: how Doctor Who boosted the Welsh economy” in the Guardian.

…The original Doctor Who series ran from 1963 to 1989 before being mothballed. The report acknowledges that basing the series in Cardiff for its revival at the turn of the century felt like a risk.

But the show, originally starring Christopher Eccleston as the Time Lord and first broadcast in 2005, was an immediate success. Further series were commissioned and the BBC launched the spin-offs Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures.

As well as finding creative people ready to work on the series, the show used settings in and around Cardiff, from the beaches of South Glamorgan to the capital’s castle and museums, prompting a spike in Doctor Who tourism.

The report, by economists within the BBC public policy team using research from the consortium Media Cymru and Cardiff University’s centre for the creative economy, looks at the impact of the show between 2004 and 2021. It estimates that each of the 13 revamped series generated the equivalent of 50 FTE (full-time equivalent) jobs per series in Wales, and 95 within the UK overall. These jobs are in addition to posts for people who directly work on the show.

It describes Doctor Who’s return as a “pivotal moment”, a catalyst for the growth of the Welsh creative industries over the past 15 to 20 years, claiming it paved the way for big BBC-commissioned shows including Merlin, Atlantis and Sherlock. This year, six new dramas have come out of Wales including Steeltown Murders, the story of the serial killer Joseph Kappen, and the thriller Wolf, both of which have won plaudits…

(11) OCTOTHORPE. Episode 97 of Octothorpe, “The Future of Language”  is raring to go!

We fire up the LizBat signal and discuss the Chengdews (John’s new pun; he’s extremely proud of it) including WSFS discussion, before moving onto Glasgow 2024’s online plans and Novacon chat. Then we talk about books and games and stuff. In

(12) BRING ME THE HEAD OF E.T. “An otherworldly auction full of cinematic sci-fi props will land in Beverly Hills” promises NBC Los Angeles.

…[December is] an eye-catching and otherworldly month, in other words, but sci-fi splendor and the heart of the holiday season don’t intertwine all that often, or as often as someone who adores both might wish.

But here’s some good news: That’s changing about a week ahead of Christmas when the “Robots, Wizards, Heroes & Aliens: Hollywood Legends” auction phones home at Julien’s Auctions in Beverly Hills.

Indeed, “phones homes” is a reference to a certain sweet space traveler, so you can bet you’ll spy E.T the Extra-Terrestrial, or rather an animatronic E.T. head, in the collection.

Other iconic additions to the line-up include a “Fantastic Voyage” ship, a Xenomorph head from “Aliens,” a “Back to the Future Part II” hoverboard, and the oh-so-cuddly Muffit II the daggit, a “Battlestar Galactica” favorite; Marvel and Harry Potter treasures will also be in the spotlight….

(13) THE ART IN ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE. Nature tells readers “How AI is expanding art history”. (Don’t worry, nothing in here about “Nighthawks”.)

From identifying disputed artworks to reconstructing lost masterpieces, artificial intelligence is enriching how we interpret our cultural heritage.

Artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and computer vision are revolutionizing research — from medicine and biology to Earth and space sciences. Now, it’s art history’s turn.

For decades, conventionally trained art scholars have been slow to take up computational analysis, dismissing it as too limited and simplistic. But, as I describe in my book Pixels and Paintings, out this month, algorithms are advancing fast, and dozens of studies are now proving the power of AI to shed new light on fine-art paintings and drawings.

For example, by analysing brush strokes, colour and style, AI-driven tools are revealing how artists’ understanding of the science of optics has helped them to convey light and perspective. Programs are recovering the appearance of lost or hidden artworks and even computing the ‘meanings’ of some paintings, by identifying symbols, for example…

(14) FIRE-AND-FORGET MATING TECHNIQUE. Butts with a mind of their own. Don’t tell me you haven’t seen this in fandom. “Why these sea worms detach their butts to reproduce” at Popular Science.

Bye bye, butt

Some segmented sea worms like the syllid worm go through a reproductive process called stolonization. The stolon is the worm’s posterior organ and it is full of eggs or sperm depending on the worm’s sex. During stolonization, the stolon completely detaches from the rest of the worm’s body for reproduction. 

This detached butt swims around by itself and spawns when it meets another stolon of the opposite sex. This autonomous swimming is believed to protect the original body of the worm from dangers in the environment and help the eggs and sperm travel longer distances. 

In order to swim by themselves, the stolon have to develop their own eyes, antennae, and swimming bristles while still attached to their original body. How this happens has been a mystery. The formation of the stolon itself begins when the gonads near the worm’s butt mature. A head is then formed in the front of the developing stolon, with the eyes, antennae, and swimming bristles following close behind. It develops its nerves and the ability to sense and behave independently before the stolon detaches from the rest of the body….

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. John King Tarpinian found this old Tonight Show clip on YouTube: “Paul Williams Arrives Straight From Filming ‘Battle for the Planet of the Apes’”.

[Thanks to SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Ersatz Culture, Lise Andreasen, Steven French, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 10/29/23 Swamp Thing! You Make My Scroll Sing

(1) LINDA ADDISON ON HALLOWEEN. The Horror Writers Association blog continues its October theme: “Halloween Haunts: All The Treats! by Linda D. Addison”.

Halloween has been one of my favorite holidays my whole life. As a child the idea of dressing up that one day and going house to house to collect candy was magical. Back then, no one worried about being poisoned or razors in fruit. I felt stronger and magical in costume then in regular clothes. The thin awkward kid who read books all the time and didn’t talk much could become a powerful witch, one of my favorite costumes, and no doubt the easiest for my mother to create, since there were nine of us….

(2)  CHENGDU WORLDCON ROUNDUP. [Item by Ersatz Culture.]  So, when I emailed Mike yesterday’s update, I told him that that would be the last of the big daily updates, and anything in the future would just be ad hoc submissions.  Unfortunately the real-world had other ideas.

Con reports: Jiang Bo, SF Light Year and Nicholas Whyte

This pair of Chinese reports posted to Weibo are coming from different perspectives; one from a Hugo finalist in the Best Short Story, the other from a high profile fan.

Jiang Bo

This one is a bit awkward to report on, as whilst it was published on Weibo, the latter sections are only visible to logged in users, and creating a Weibo account – from the UK at least – is a Kafkaesque nightmare of “you need to verify via a code sent by SMS/sorry, we can’t send you an SMS, try again tomorrow/rinse and repeat”.  Fortunately a kind person on Twitter was able to provide me with the full text; I’ll see if there’s some way of getting the full text available more easily.

In terms of events at the con, he mostly writes about “businessy” and writerly stuff, which he seems to have enjoyed.  The selected extracts below are about more humdrum stuff, but which I think Filers would maybe relate to more.  In the interests of full transparency, it seems that these aspects were less enjoyable for him, and it would not be an unreasonable accusation to say I’m giving a negative spin on his overall experience.  

(Via Google Translate, with minor manual edits.)

It was only when I landed that I learned some big news: the hotel I was staying at, the Wyndham Hotel, was far away from the venue, and the organizer had arranged a shuttle bus to solve the transportation problem. As a rule of thumb, the hotel is usually next to the venue, and you can enter the venue just a short walk away. The shuttle bus takes about thirty minutes to get to the venue, and it leaves on time. This poses a challenge to the conference schedule, and is also the reason why I will be quite tired in the next few days – I have to catch the early morning bus to the conference venue every day…

The name of the venue is Nebula, and the largest hall inside is called Hugo. If you add some text to it, wouldn’t it mean that Nebula is greater than Hugo? I wonder if Americans will quarrel about this. However, a Chinese venue is too far away and the sound cannot be transmitted even if there is a noise…

There was an episode where I went back and forth for fifteen minutes just to find the Hall of Mars. This venue is very unique. The halls on the second floor are basically isolated from each other. They are small halls. You must find the correct elevator to go up. When you first arrive, it’s easy to get confused…

Speaking of eating, there are no restaurants around the huge Xingyun Hall. There is only one storefront on the first floor, which houses three or four fast food restaurants, including Subway, McDonald’s and Pizza Hut. If everyone wants to solve the problem of eating in the venue, they can only find these three or four restaurants. There are so many people there, it’s almost like a restaurant in Disneyland. It’s hard to find tables and chairs, so just find a place to eat…

“Hanging by a Thread” [aka “On the Razor’s Edge”] won the Galaxy Award for Best Short Story, which was a surprise. On returning to the hotel, I was interviewed by a Chengdu TV station for almost an hour, and it was almost midnight. Then I chatted with the producer Lao Wu about creative matters, and it was already 1 a.m. when we finished talking. It felt good to chat with Lao Wu and talk about pure creation. It’s just that the schedule of the World Science Fiction Convention is too tight. If we don’t seize this time, we may not have the chance to have a good chat…

In order to get to the venue before 10 a.m., I took the 9 a.m. bus. The opening hours of science fiction convention venues are actually 9:30, so there will generally be fewer people attending the 9:30 morning session. In fact, at 10 a.m., there were still very few people, especially on weekdays. So the audience at our panel seemed very minimal, especially since it was located in the road show area, a corner that is difficult for tourists to reach. We started with the same number of people on stage and off stage. Fortunately, as time went by, the number of listeners gradually increased, and finally it was like a decent press conference…

After the press conference, I started thinking about eating again. The afternoon activity was at the Sheraton Hotel. After looking at my guest card, I had a bold idea, why not try the Sheraton?

The Sheraton Hotel is right next to the venue and can be reached on foot in about fifteen minutes. The Sheraton housed VVIPs, who are some important international friends and more important domestic guests. Although you needed to show your room card to eat at the Sheraton, what if you only needed to show your card during the conference?

I contacted the contact person and they replied that I could only have lunch at the hotel where I am staying. But I still set foot on the road to the Sheraton Hotel with hope…

The smooth lines of the Nebula Pavilion are natural, and equally smooth are the queues waiting for autograph signings. That’s right, this afternoon happened to be Liu’s autograph signing. The signing line stretched from the third floor to the first floor, and then meandered along the lakeside. I was shocked when I saw such a long line, and quickly took out my mobile phone to take pictures… I was both admiring and envious at the same time: I wish I could have such a long signing queue one day!…

Something strange also happened at SF Night [a reception jointly organized by Science Fiction World and Saifan Space]. The security of this science fiction conference was extremely strict. Xia Jia and several other authors were stopped outside.  Even organizers like Sun Yueraz were stopped from entering again after leaving. I met Xia Jia when I went out after the event. He was sitting at a table outside the security gate, looking relaxed and comfortable, chatting with others. Some things are changing, and some things remain unchanged…

The signing event went much better than expected. For at least an hour, there was a steady stream of people coming to get my signature. This is the power of the World Science Fiction Convention. It gathered a large number of people and brought some traffic to us authors. One of the fans took out the journal where I first published my novel, the April 2003 issue of The End Game, which had a photo of me on it. Compared to that time, my hair volume is a bit anxious. After all, people only have so many good days, and youth never comes back once it’s gone…

[Extracts from the acceptance speech he prepared] Thank you to all readers who voted for me and for recognizing this work.

Thank you to all readers who voted for the Hugo Awards. Anyone who is willing to spend money to vote is true love. Your support is the driving force behind this award continuing to this day….

The last thing I want to thank is this great era. In the past few decades, China has developed from an agricultural country to an industrial country, and has continuously made progress in economy and science and technology. This great process must be reflected in the writer’s thinking. Without this era and the Chinese Space Station, stories like “Hanging by a Thread” would not have been possible.

As for me, I would like to quote Mr. Carl Sagan’s epitaph to illustrate, “He never grew up, but he never stopped growing.” I hope that I can continue to grow in science fiction. Share this with everyone.

Thank you everyone, thank you to everyone who loves Chinese science fiction.[end of his acceptance speech].

Finally, the lottery was drawn, and the pie did not fall on my head. When my boots hit the ground, I felt calm. This is probably the closest I’ve ever been to a Hugo Award. If I miss it, I won’t get it again. Life always has its ups and downs. But after all, I never had the chance to say this. Writing it down is also a kind of record and will not be forgotten.

After the awards ceremony, there was a reception on Hugo night. It was held on the large terrace of the Nebula Pavilion, and you needed a ticket to enter, have a drink and chat. Generally speaking, I still chat to people I know. The organizer also arranged some programs. Many foreign friends gathered to watch, but domestic people seemed not very interested.

I came out before the reception ended and happened to meet [SF World editor, Hugo Editor finalist, concom member] Yao Haijun. I took his car back to the hotel and enjoyed the VVIP red flag car treatment…

I felt very sleepy after the conference. For the two days after I came back, I felt like I couldn’t wake up every day. Maybe I had a dream. Dreams are easy to be forgotten, so I have to fix them with words. This is probably the only thing that short-lived humans can struggle with in the face of the infinite world. 

SF Light Year

SF Light Year (aka 科幻光年/Kehuan Guang Nian aka Adaoli) is an influential Chinese fan, with 370k followers on Weibo.  He has been mentioned in several earlier Chengdu updates, and has commented here a few times.  Disclosure: he was also my co-conspirator in a plan to exchange fanzines and signed books between the UK and China, in order to give them as surprise gifts to some Hugo finalists, a couple of whom went on to win in their categories.  I also get namechecked in the second of the three parts of this report posted to Weibo.  As such, I’m not an impartial reporter of his comments.  Note also that Mike and File 770 also gets briefly mentioned in the first part.

Part 1Part 2Part 3

Note: Because these three posts are so long, the “Translate content” links that appear at the bottom of posts timed out for me.  I ended up having to copypaste the text into Google Translate.  I did ask him if I could upload the translated text (e.g. to Pastebin or similar) for everyone’s convenience, but didn’t get a reply due to it being night in China when I asked that question.  

The following excerpts are via Google Translate, with minor manual edits.

(from first post)

Every time I attend various science fiction conferences and meet authors and fantasy fans, I am always happy and excited. What gives me good memories of the Chengdu World Science Fiction Conference is not the gorgeous venue but every sincere science fiction fan and person who laughed, cried, got angry, and was moved. I will remember every moment in my heart. But this long article is dedicated to recording my disappointment with the Chengdu World Science Fiction Conference, as a small supplement to a grand narrative, because it is important to us science fiction fans, to our science fiction community, and to our internal and external science fiction. Communication can have far-reaching consequences. I’d love to be that little kid who calls out that the Emperor has no clothes.

After the successful bid to host the Chengdu World Science Fiction Conference in 2021, the organizing committee promised that fantasy travelers will “enter as VIP guests, enjoy VIP treatment, and all tickets to the conference will be free of charge.” The actual situation of the conference is that these so-called VIP guests (who are also members of WSFS) are different from the guests separately invited by the organizing committee. They did not automatically receive the right to participate in the opening and closing ceremonies and the Hugo Award ceremony… Those who purchased event tickets (non-members) also needed to participate in the lottery for access to one of the three ceremonies. Some fellow WSFS members were not even able to get admission to any of the ceremonies…

On the other hand, public news shows that as early as April 2022, an internal meeting in Pidu District arranged the event planning plan for the 81st World Science Fiction Convention in that district. Real estate developers also used the venue of the Pidu District convention as a selling point to make plans for nearby properties. [Real estate developer] Vanke also once put up a big sign announcing the countdown to the World Science Fiction Conference at the sales office, but it was later removed at the request of the organizing committee. In the tug-of-war of the balance of forces among all parties, the interests of this group of college student application groups were the first to be sacrificed.

Because he had been tracking the venue confirmation and conference information posted on Weibo from very early on, which revealed the venue change to Pidu District before the official announcement, Yao Chi [from the con team, I think this is the same person as Joe Yao] once contacted me and asked me to remove the relevant article. My response was that if Pidu District took down their announcements, I would also take down my posts on Weibo…

(from second post)

… Wu Miao mentioned that his book signing was actually a mess: although the book sold well in the two days, part way through, the con removed copies of his book, and the readers who went in the afternoon were all empty-handed and could not buy the book.  I took four customers everywhere to look for books, but none of the exhibition staff had any explanation or follow-up. His autograph signing was arranged for the first two days (non-weekends) when there were few people. The on-site booth was borrowed from Booker Bookstore because the conditions of the venue were very poor… His publisher also stated that the conference did not consider the interests of exhibitors and “there will be no next time.” Similar lack of coordination occurred repeatedly. Several guests told me that they were suddenly informed that there was a signing, or that there was a time conflict between the signing and the panel schedule. The book sales were located on the first floor, but the book signings were on the third floor. It was very inconvenient for readers to buy books and sign books, and the process of selecting and finding books was very unfriendly.

On October 14, 2023 in our online science fiction group, a hearing-impaired person attending the conference, who has a disability certificate, told us about the accessibility request email she sent to the conference.  She had asked what kind of help will be provided to the hearing-disabled people if they need it, and what materials should be applied and prepared for in advance.  Her email was returned undelivered… We found that the contact address given on the official website was wrong.  However [after this was pointed out on Weibo and the address got promptly fixed] our disabled member sent another email to the correct address, but there was no reply or official contact instructions until the end of the conference.  For such an important communication channel, it seemed that the accessibility service department was just a fiction, which is disappointing especially when the organizing committee clearly knew from reading Weibo that someone had applied for accessibility services. Fortunately, she was always accompanied by enthusiastic fans during the conference.

The lack of communication was also reflected in the coordination of volunteers. The organizing committee announced the recruitment of volunteers through different processes more than once. I submitted forms and emails twice, stating that my specialty was Japanese and that I could be a volunteer, but there was no response to any emails from the beginning to the end. Many times in various groups, I encountered netizens complaining and asking me about the same situation. Later, I learned that the government had arranged a bidding process for volunteer service projects [1], and the volunteers and training procedures were determined through other methods. However, all offline applications were not responded to and followed up, which is indeed inappropriate…

Many Hugo Award finalists, including those from China, were told they would stay at the Sheraton [close to the venue], but were eventually downgraded to Wyndham [much further away]. In terms of differential treatment, I would like to mention that Ling Shizhen, who was also a Hugo Award finalist for the Zero Gravity fanzine, was not initially given permission to attend the opening and closing ceremonies or the Hugo Award Ceremony. (His badge only had the number 3/5, which was the minimum permission for all invited guests, only allowing entry to the Science Fiction Museum and the Sheraton hotel). He was very angry about this. After contacting the organizing committee, he had to travel back and forth between the con venue and the hotel to coordinate, until finally he was allowed to enter the ceremony hall, and eventually went on stage to receive the Hugo Award.

(from third post)

On the opening day of the conference on October 18, 2023, we passed by the venue and found that the newly established “food truck area” at the Nebula Campground (renovated from dozens of buses) at the Science Museum and Sheraton Road was blocked off. and not open to the public. The news circulating in our group was that “the food in the food trucks was not classy and would affect the image” and therefore it was cancelled….

Regarding the sudden need to control the number of attendees at the reception held at the Sheraton during the conference, which resulted in a large number of invited domestic and foreign guests being unable to enter, breaking up unhappy or even causing disputes, we will not discuss this for the time being….

Enthusiastic netizens have compiled a complete breakdown of the amount related to the venue construction, tens of millions related to conference preparation and venue.  For example, the winning bid amount for the Hugo Trophy, just for the design was as high as 570 thousand yuan [approximately $80,000 USD]…

Basically, this World Science Fiction Convention was held in a situation that was both open and closed, rich and barren. If you were interviewing foreign guests, especially several World Science Fiction Convention officials or important guests – the venue has a distinction between VVIP and VIP arrangements for volunteers – there were elaborate arrangements for the support of various celebrities, free travel, meals and accommodation for two people, and special personnel to coordinate and arrange access, and enjoy exquisite meals. [Regular] Guests who have participated in dozens of conferences never enjoyed such support, even though participating in the Chengdu World Science Fiction Conference would be their highlight moment. According to Nnedi Okorafor herself, “I was treated like a queen.”… 

On the other hand, I came into contact with front-line staff from the exhibition organizers who were exhausted due to internal friction in coordination and communication, relevant leaders who frankly said they no longer wanted to bid for the World Science Fiction Convention, guests who canceled their panels because they were angry that the promised venue control would not cooperate, as well as guests who continued to attend the convention…

 In every sense of the word, this is an unforgettable World Science Fiction Convention. This was the first time it was held in China. I don’t know if there will be a second time.

[1] This might explain a Xiaohongshu post I saw yesterday, which was a group selfie of some volunteers, who were all employees of (IIRC) a construction company.  At the time I just assumed it was a group of colleagues who’d decided to do a good deed, but now I wonder if there was more to it.

Nicholas Whyte

His post about the Doctor Who panel was covered in Friday’s Scroll, but he has also posted about a visit to a panda research centrethe panels he was on, and the events he attended  and his various experiences.

Still waiting on the Hugo Statistics report

A week ago today, there was an indication that the statistics might be published on the Friday just gone.  That hasn’t happened, and as far as I know, there has been no further status update.

I think lots of us are very interested in finding out where certain books that seemed like dead certs – or as close as you can get to it in the Hugos – ended up in the nominations.

(3) CHEERS FOR FEARS.  “Shock of the new: Jordan Peele, Mariana Enríquez and more on the horror fiction renaissance” in the Guardian.

…Now horror is emphatically back, and it is no longer a dirty word. Publishing imprints such as Titan and Nightfire are devoted almost entirely to the genre, small presses are helping to introduce new names, and a thriving online community of readers, writers, critics and commentators champion literature’s most sinister impulses.

Such insatiable appetite is forcing change. From the Argentinian new wave to British neo-folk, from the Asian-inflected horror of authors such as Chinese-Canadian writer Ai Jiang to the African heritage of British-Nigerian Nuzo Onoh, writers across the world are pushing outwards, creating space for new perspectives. Horror is rapidly evolving from what was once a white, male and highly Anglocentric genre into something more diverse and much more reactive.

A new US book is testament to this progress. Out There Screaming: An Anthology of New Black Horroris edited by film director Jordan Peele, who made Us and the electrifying Oscar-winner Get Out. Peele writes in his introduction: “I view horror as catharsis through entertainment. It’s a way to work through your deepest pain and fear.” But, he suggests, that isn’t possible for Black people “without the stories being told in the first place”.

For Peele, this collection, compiled with co-editor John Joseph Adams, was a chance to commission “the very best Black authors in fiction,” he tells me over email. “I hoped that, when prompted to create a personalised nightmare, their ‘monsters’ might be representative of some previously unnamed truths. What you get are stories that feel like they couldn’t or wouldn’t have been told a few years ago.”

NK Jemisin’s contribution examines police brutality through surrealistic body horror, while Tananarive Due imagines a moment from the civil rights movement that reads like an unearthed piece of folk history. But it’s interesting how many of the tales in Out There Screamingeschew overtly racialised horror – in particular, the tight focus on trauma that has long been a thorny issue in the Black horror community….

(4) WHY JEMINSIN CONTRIBUTED. “For N.K. Jemisin, Reality Inspired Horror Fiction” – the New York Times has the details.  

Nineteen writers contributed to the story collection, including N.K. JemisinLesley Nneka ArimahTochi Onyebuchi and Tananarive Due. Initially Jemisin declined to participate, although she was pleased to be approached. “I like writing stories, but I’m very slow to write them and I don’t do well with commissions,” Jemisin said in a phone interview. “I don’t have any interest in writing to order, basically. I said, if something inspires me, sure, I’m on it, but otherwise don’t count on anything.”

Jemisin had a change of heart on a vacation in the Outer Banks: “Next door to us was a family of cops, apparently, who hung a thin blue line flag and partied all weekend and made a great deal of noise, knowing full well nobody was going to call the cops on them.”

She went on, “Nothing overt happened. We were fine. But we were on this trip with some teenagers and we told them, ‘Do not go out by yourselves because this doesn’t feel like a safe place to be a bunch of young Black folks.’”

Instead of going to the beach, Jemisin started writing “Reckless Eyeballing,” the story that now opens “Out There Screaming.” It’s about Carl Billings, a Black highway patrol officer with a habit of “roughing up” people he pulls over — a broken arm here, a baton to the teeth there. His white supervisor is on to him, and then a video of one of his traffic stops goes viral. But worst of all is Carl’s unsettling vision of oncoming headlights as eyeballs, blinking and veined, watching. He can’t get away from them…

(5) HARVEY Q&A. “Samantha Harvey: ‘I like Alien as much as anybody else. But I see this novel as space pastoral’” in the Guardian.

…How come you initially lost your nerve?
We’re in an age of first-person veracity. By some bizarre spasm of fate, I’m doing a radio interview next month alongside Tim Peake. I’m filled with anxiety: why would anyone care what some woman in Wiltshire has to say about what it might be like to be in space, when she’s sitting alongside Tim Peake? Maybe the answer is that there’s somewhere the imagination can go that experience can’t. Nasa’s website has hundreds of fascinating but quite humdrum journals that astronauts have written while in space. I was thinking, there’s a gap here – a sort of metaphysical gap, a magical experience that isn’t being documented the way I’d like to document it.

Did you want to write against more plot-driven space narratives?
I like Alien as much as anybody else. I never saw this novel as being against sci-fi, but I didn’t see it as having an awful lot in relation to it either. I thought of it as space pastoral – a kind of nature writing about the beauty of space, with a slightly nostalgic sense of what’s disappearing. Not just on Earth, but also the ISS itself, this really quite retro piece of kit which is going to be deorbited after 23 years of rattling around at 17,500 miles an hour….

(6) LOWER DECKS. “Mike McMahan Talks ‘Star Trek: Lower Decks’ Season 4” with Animation World Network’s Dan Sarto.

…DS: Right. Let’s talk a little bit about the Strange New Worlds crossover episode. You teased it when we spoke last August. It was a fantastic episode.

MM: Thank you.

DS: The animation held its own against a well-designed visual effects-driven show. It did both worlds proud. It fit. It wasn’t too gaggy, but it was funny. I was really impressed because I had no idea what to expect. And of course, Commander Riker [Jonathan Frakes] directed it. So, tell me about your involvement. And how tough was it to pull that off?

MM: Strange New Worlds allowed me to get to somewhere where it was a little funnier than they’re used to and a little more strange new worlds than I’m used to. I was a tool that they were using. So, they used me on multiple script passes in the edit, helping conceive of the episode and all that stuff, but I can’t take any credit for that. It really was an amazing thing that they wanted to do because it was so different. And they’re only in their second season. I don’t think I would’ve had the balls to do that on a second-season show. But what it really came down to is we all had a blast, and that really comes through when you watch the episode.

And I could have made that a feature-length episode and added way more Orion pirates and all sorts of stuff. But at the end of the day, what it really highlighted was character, and I think that was really smart, that Tawny and Jack are fucking amazing. But you know who else is? Everybody on Strange New Worlds. So, getting to see them all mixed together the whole episode, it’s just such a party. It’s just such a Star Trek party that, if you’re watching this era, that is a crazy encapsulation of what makes you feel good. It’s like what you like about Trek….

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 29, 1906 Fredric Brown. Author of Martians, Go Home which would be made into a movie of the same name. He received compensation and credit from NBC as their Trek episode “Arena” had more than a passing similarity to his novelette which was nominated for Retro Hugo at CoNZealand. Interestingly, a whole lot of his Edgar Award-winning mysteries are being released on the usual suspects in December. (Died 1972.)
  • Born October 29, 1935 Shelia Finch, 88. She is best remembered for her stories about the Guild of Xenolinguists which aptly enough are collected in The Guild of Xenolinguists story collection. She first used it her 1986 Triad novel. The term would later be used to describe the character Uhura in the rebooted Trek film. Her Reading the Bones novel, part of the Guild of Xenolinguists series would win a Nebula. 
  • Born October 29, 1938 Ralph Bakshi, 85. Started as low-level worker at Terrytoons, studio of characters such as Heckle and Jeckle and Mighty Mouse which I adore. His first major break would be on CBS as creative director of Mighty Mouse and the Mighty Heroes. Fast forwarding to Fritz the Cat which may or may not be genre but it’s got a foul-mouthed talking cat when should make it genre, yes? Genre wise, I’d say Wizards which features voice work by Mark Hamill and whose final name was Wizards so it wouldn’t be confused with you know what film. It was nominated for a Hugo at IguanaCon II when Star Wars won. Next up was The Lord of the Rings, a very odd affair. That was followed by Fire and Ice, a collaboration with Frank Frazetta. Then came what I considered his finest work, the Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures series!  Then there’s Cool World
  •  Born October 29, 1941 Hal W. Hall, 82. Bibliographer responsible for the Science Fiction Book Review Index (1970 – 1985) and the Science Fiction Research Index (1981 – 1922). He also did a number of reviews including three of H. Beam Piper’s Fuzzy books showing he had excellent taste in fiction.
  •  Born October 29, 1954 Paul Di Filippo, 69. Ciphers: a post-Shannon rock-n-roll mystery was his first work. He is, I’d say, an acquired taste. I like him. I’d suggest first reading you don’t know him should be The Steampunk Trilogy and go from there.  His “A Year in the Linear City” novella was nominated at Torcon 3 for Best Novella, and won the 2003 World Fantasy Award and the 2003 Theodore Sturgeon Award. Oh, and he’s one of our stellar reviewers having reviewed at one time or another for Asimov’s Science FictionThe Magazine of Fantasy and Science FictionScience Fiction EyeThe New York Review of Science FictionInterzoneNova Express and Science Fiction Weekly
  •  Born October 29, 1954 Kathleen O’Neal Gear, 69. Archaeologist and writer. I highly recommend the three Anasazi Mysteries that she co-wrote with W. Michael Gear. She’s a historian of note so she’s done a lot of interesting work in that area such as Viking Warrior Women: Did ‘Shieldmaidens’ like Lagertha Really Exist?  And should you decide you want to keep buffalo, she’s the expert on doing so. Really. Truly, she is.
  • Born October 29, 1971 Anna Dale, 52. Scottish writer whom many reviewers have dubbed “the next JK Rowling” who’s best known for her Whispering to Witches children’s novel. It was based on her masters dissertation in children’s writing. She has written two more novels of a similar ilk, Spellbound and Magical Mischief

(8) COMICS SECTION.

  • The Flying McCoys explains why a Charles Schulz tradition came to an end.
  • Tom Gauld shares the cauldron ingredient list.

(9) REFLECTS A CHANGING MARKET. LAist brings the bad news that “Two Of LA’s Oldest Comic Stores Are Closing Down”.

Not even a superhero could save two of Los Angeles’s oldest comic book stores.

Torrance’s Geoffrey’s Comics and Hi De-Ho Comics in Santa Monica are closing at the end of the year.

Owner Geoffrey Patterson II said that ever since the pandemic, many comic book fans moved from purchasing their comics in person to online. For his stores, that meant losing half of his customer base and more than half of the profits.

But the pandemic was just the last straw.

“It’s also just as it has become mainstream, that other places are now selling comic books that weren’t selling them before,” he said, citing big retailers like Target. “It went from being only in comic book stores to everywhere. So the customers now have 100 choices for where they pick up a comic book story, and that just kept shrinking and shrinking our customer base.”…

(10) DOING HARD TIME. He’s rocky, just not the one that first comes to mind.Animation World Network reviews “‘Curses!’ Blends Horror, Comedy, and Action with a Dad Turned to Stone”

Premiering today, Friday, October 27, Curses!, from DreamWorks Animation, hits Apple TV+ just in time for Halloween. In the all-new animated, spooky adventure-comedy series for kids, when a generations-long family curse turns Alex Vanderhouven to stone, it’s up to his two children, Pandora and Russ, and his wife Sky, to return artifacts stolen by their ancestors to their rightful homes to finally lift the curse for good….

Curses! began as a collaboration between creators Jim Cooper and Jeff Dixon. The two had never written together before; they met when their children started school together, and after dropping them off, they’d walk home and discuss their writing careers. “Jeff was mostly in horror, and I was mostly in family animation,” Cooper shares. “Sometime over the years, we thought, ‘Hey, it would be cool to combine the two.’ We hit upon the idea of Curses! after discussing what we call my ‘family curse.’ That got us thinking about other family curses and their causes, and things just sort of went from there.”

“It started with Coop telling me the story of his ‘family curse,’ Dixon adds. “He told me that all the men on one side of his family died young, generation after generation. After he showed me a photo of his grandfather as a baby holding an actual human skull, we started thinking, ‘Holy hell, that skull must somehow be the origin of the curse!’ Then our imaginations started spinning out of control thinking about curses and what happens to later generations when a family line is cursed because of something their ancestors did, to no fault of their own. And it only grew from there.”…

(11) JUST DUCKY. Heritage Auctions’ November 16 – 19 Comics & Comic Art Signature® Auction has rafts of collectible art.  This piece is particularly interesting – and is already bid up to $26,000.

 Carl Barks Luck of the North Donald Duck Painting Original Art (1973). Though this rollicking scene is based on one of the “Good Duck Artist’s” most famous yarns, this is the only painted version of it that he ever did. Carl Barks based this colorful calamity on his 1949 Donald Duck adventure from Four Color #256. This mirthful masterwork was published on Page 169 (as color plate 49) of The Fine Art of Walt Disney’s Donald Duck, where Barks noted: “In that northern lights effect at the top, I found pictures of the northern lights in some National Geographics and I kind of stole some. I find water very difficult to paint. It’s hard work, but I worked at this until I got it to look halfway authentic. I generally just plunged right in on an idea whether I was going to have trouble or not. I’d start out with a simple idea, and keep on elaborating on it until I had a real complex thing going.”

(12) VAMPIRE HUNTER D. The Animation Explorations Podcast has dropped the first episode of their second year. For the spooky season they take a look at the 1985 adaptation of Hideyuki Kikuchi’s first novel in “Vampire Hunter D (1985)” series. 

(13) THE LIGHTS IN THE SKY.  “‘Call me chief priestess for the moon goddess’: space scientist Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock” tells the Guardian.

Call me chief priestess for the moon goddess,” says Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock when I ask whether she prefers to be known as an astronomer, physicist or space scientist. She is, after all, entitled to all of them because before presenting The Sky at Night on the BBC she trained as a physicist, then an engineer and is now the nation’s go-to woman for all things space. But it seems that she really has her eye on the job of a 4,300-year-old Sumerian religious leader.

“I was giving a talk in the Scottish parliament,” she explains when we meet at a photographer’s studio hidden in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it alleyway in east London, “and I mentioned En Hedu’anna, the first female scientist who was known as chief priestess for the moon goddess of the city of Ur [in ancient Mesopotamia].” After the talk, the chair suggested they vote to bestow on Aderin-Pocock the title of chief priestess for the moon goddess of the city of Edinburgh. “That’s what I would like on my business card,” she says with a delighted clap of the hands and the kind of irresistible enthusiasm that viewers of The Sky at Night will be familiar with.

Forgotten or uncredited scientists, such as En Hedu’anna, feature prominently in Aderin-Pocock’s new book, The Art of Stargazing, a practical guide to identifying and understanding the 88 constellations…

…[Why] is outdated ancient science from long-dead civilisations still important? “When I grew up, there were many kids who looked at science and thought: ‘Well, someone like me doesn’t do that because it’s not my culture, it’s not for me – I don’t have a history of this.’ Diversity is about bringing different ideas and people into science because if it’s all just done by the European white guys, we get a very blinkered view of the world. That’s why access to the history of astronomy is important for everyone.’…

 [Thanks to SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Steven French, Alexander Case, Ersatz Culture, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 10/27/23 For A Mere $39.95 You Can Turn A Dalek Into a Barista Machine

(1) CHENGDU WORLDCON ROUNDUP. [Item by Ersatz Culture.]

New articles on the Chengdu Worldcon website, but only in Chinese

There have been several news articles published on the official website since the convention ended on the 22nd, but only in Chinese.  Below are extracts from a few of them, via Google Translate with minor manual edits.

What kind of “future” did people encounter in Chengdu? (posted Monday 23rd)

This conference is a new starting point for the take-off of the science fiction industry in Chengdu, but it is not only the starting point for the take-off of the science fiction industry in Chengdu. This conference is the starting point for China’s science fiction industry to set sail from Chengdu.

The organizing committee of the 2023 Chengdu World Science Fiction Conference has made the science fiction industry a major topic of the conference for the first time. At the first industrial development summit held at the conference, the “Chengdu Consensus on Science Fiction Industry” was officially released, which will allow various industries to gather a consensus to build the cornerstone of the science fiction industry.

A thank you note! ICBC’s patient and thoughtful service won praise from guests at the Science Fiction Conference (posted Monday 23rd)

On the first day of the World Science Fiction Convention in Chengdu on October 18, foreign customer Mr. Barkley hurried to the mobile banking car for help. He wanted to use his credit card to withdraw some cash to buy a domestic mobile phone to send emails online, but domestic credit card withdrawals required a password.  Mr. Barkley had previously used his credit card abroad to make purchases or withdraw cash based on his signature, and he did not know the reserved password.

Behind the exciting exhibitions at the Chengdu World Science Fiction Convention, ICBC’s thoughtful, patient and heart-warming financial services undoubtedly provide comprehensive protection…..

The exhibition hall is also equipped with a digital RMB coffee machine. Using digital RMB, you can enjoy a steaming cup of coffee for only 1 yuan. At the same time, the Chengdu Universiade co-branded digital RMB hard wallet set exhibited by ICBC supports payment without network and electricity. Payment can be completed with just a “touch” during transactions, which left a deep impression on many domestic and foreign guests.

In order to provide all-weather, omni-channel, international financial services and facilitate services, ICBC comprehensively promotes the financial services for the Science Fiction Conference at 11 outlets in Pidu District. 

Note that ICBC was one of two top tier sponsors of the Chengdu Worldcon.  Also note that although the article was posted two days after the Hugo ceremony, the article makes no mention of Chris being a Hugo winner.

Ximalaya Operations Director Zhou Tiantian: Science fiction encourages people to find the meaning of life on a cosmic scale (posted Monday 23rd)

Zhou Tiantian, director of operations of Ximalaya, said that science fiction gives people the limits of their imagination and encourages people to find the meaning of life on a cosmic scale . As the leading audio app in China, Ximalaya is closely integrated with cutting-edge technology and has launched many science fiction, fantasy and technological contents. At present, Ximalaya has released a number of sci-fi Atmos audio dramas, including classic sci-fi IPs “The Wandering Earth Liu Cixin Collection”, “Solaris” and “Dune Overture”. Ximalaya has cooperated with Dolby Laboratories to launch a Dolby Atmos zone. Launched with [car manufacturer] NIO, it provides high-quality audiobooks in various genres such as science fiction, suspense, and children’s books.  Previously, Ximalaya cooperated with Li Auto and WANOS to launch panoramic audio dramas, providing a shocking auditory experience for the in-car space.

Ximalaya is committed to empowering culture with technology and actively promotes the widespread application of AI technology in the audio industry, which is consistent with its long-term development strategy. As a beneficiary and leader of AI technology, Ximalaya is unswervingly committed to the exploration of AI technology in the audio field. Through the development of AI technology, Ximalaya can appear in users’ lives in a new way of experience, realizing rebirth in some scenarios. Ximalaya will continue to be committed to the application of AI technology in the audio field, and continue to promote innovation to meet the diverse needs of users and help Ximalaya continue to develop.

[Note: I’m not familiar with this audiobook company, but it seems that they use both the “Ximalaya” and “Himalaya” brand names; the former seems to be aimed at the domestic market, the latter internationally.]

The winning games of the 81st World Science Fiction Conference “Fantasy Galaxy – Annual Selection of World Science Fiction Games” have been announced! (Posted Monday 23rd)

On the morning of October 22nd, the 81st World Science Fiction Conference “Fantasy Galaxy – Annual Selection of World Science Fiction Games” award ceremony was held at the Chengdu Science Fiction Museum, where the winning works were announced. The selection event was released by the Organizing Committee of the 81st World Science Fiction Conference and sponsored by Sichuan Game Innovation and Development Center, Chengdu Science Fiction Association, and Sichuan Publishing Association Game Publishing Working Committee.

Sichuan New Media Group and other relevant leaders, as well as Canada’s “Godfather of Science Fiction” Robert Sawyer, attended the event and presented awards, as well as specially invited representatives from Google, Amazon Cloud, NetEase, Tencent, Huawei, Bilibili, and Ubisoft.

The first two winners named are by remarkable coincidence associated with sponsors of the con.

As an aside, I see that Sergey Lukyanenko is still listed as a GoH on the front page, and the “Special Guests” and “Hosts” are still showing as “UPDATING”.

Con reports: Jeremy Szal, Arthur Liu and Nicholas Whyte

Jeremy Szal was tweeting during the con and has now written his con report:

I’m led through a whirlwind of events, ceremonies, meetings, interviews and conversations. I’m thrust in front of cameras, wired up with microphones, offered seats and stools. I greet friends, both new and familiar to me. My editors and handlers keep close correspondence with me, telling me where I need to be, and at what time, and how I should be dressed. I’ve done WorldCons before. I know this gig. But something here feels different. There’s a buzz, a feverishness, in the air…

And it’s nice. Never before have I felt so welcome. Never before have I truly felt at home, as a member of the science-fiction community. Diversity here isn’t spoken off. It’s acted upon. Where other conventions may attempt to gesture at diversity, as an abstract, here it is exacted. It’s presented, on an international scale. And it’s wonderful. We don’t all speak the same language. Because we share something else, something grander: a love of science-fiction and fandom.

Arthur Liu is currently suffering from severe con crud, but nevertheless has put out the first part (of four) of his Chinese-language con report, covering the run-up to the event.  (Disclosure: I am mentioned in this article.)  Via Google Translate, with minor edits:

Yao Xue from the business meeting group also invited me to propose “constitutional amendment” proposals. The F.8 proposal also caused controversy in the American science fiction circle. A group of science fiction fans attacked it on File 770. These somewhat brought back a bit of the “Worldcon” flavor of this conference, and made us decide to at least enjoy it as much as possible. I think that the science fiction fans who finally decided to attend this conference all have more or less ambivalent feelings about it…

The theme salon is divided into three application channels: (1) Questionnaire star entrance provided on the WeChat official account; (2) Organizing committee email address provided on the official website; (3) Planorama website. This caused a lot of confusion in the early days, because the contents filled out in the three channels were different and incomplete. Later, the information was completed only through the collection of volunteers. The application for a fan booth is relatively straightforward, just send an email. However, because the venue had not yet been completed, the relevant person in charge did not respond for a long time after the application was submitted, and did not start notifying people until just before the con. From August to before the conference, I had to go through this “catch up on winter and summer vacation homework” mode at almost every stage and every milestone. The intermediary organizer also repeatedly asked us to fill in forms and provide additional event materials because they needed to review the content to ensure on-site safety. For example, the panellists needed to provide speech notes, the host needed to provide speech notes, etc. In addition, they also had to provide true identity information in order to enable the organizers to be able to perform facial recognition on the guests… From these preliminary preparations, we could actually roughly guess what the scene would be like, which shows that the local government attached great importance to this matter.

Nicholas Whyte’s first post about the con covers the Doctor Who panel:

Many aspects of Chengdu Worldcon were great fun. I will write about the things I especially enjoyed: the pandas, the set-piece events, and the friends I made along the way. (I enjoyed the WSFS Business Meeting even less than usual, so I won’t write about that.)

The thing that gave me the most unexpected joy was the love for Doctor Who shown by the Chinese fans. I have to give huge credit here to Yan Ru, 晏如, an English Chinese teacher from Wuhan, who may well be the leading Doctor Who fan in China. We had made contact before the convention, and had a lot of conversations about our shared passion.

(2) TRIANGULAR TRADE.  “The Flatiron Building Will Be Converted Into Condos” in the New York Times. Not so long ago New York fans knew it as the headquarters of Tor Books but I suspect they will resist the temptation to buy condos and live there around the clock.

The Flatiron, the storied office building in the heart of Manhattan that has recently fallen on hard times, will be converted into luxury housing, its owners announced on Thursday.

The proposed redevelopment by the new owners is aimed at starting a second life for the Flatiron — its sole office tenant, Macmillan Publishers, departed before the pandemic — and moving past a dramatic period in which its fate seemed uncertain. In March, a little-known buyer won an auction for the building, only to disappear without paying.

The building’s future as housing began to take shape this week when the Brodsky Organization, a residential developer, bought a stake in the 22-story, triangular-shaped tower on Fifth Avenue. Brodsky will lead the conversion, carving out units — either for sale as condominiums or as rentals — from the notoriously awkward space….

(3) THE GOALS OF BLACK HORROR. The Atlantic’s Hanna Rosen found out “What Scares Jordan Peele?” And N.K. Jemisin, too.

…Since then I’ve learned a lot more about how race worked in that movie. But for a Black kid interested in horror, the subtext might have been a little more obvious. Jordan Peele grew up writing horror stories in his journals, and occasionally scaring his classmates with them on school trips. In 2017, after a successful sketch-comedy career, he wrote, produced, and directed Get Out, the critically acclaimed horror film. He says the movie “felt very taboo” and “un-produceable” at the time. “I don’t know if you noticed, but Get Out doesn’t have any good white people in it,” he told me. I did notice.

After Peele made that movie, and several others, he says, Black creators started telling him that they too had a horror story to tell, but they had never thought to tell it publicly. Classic horror always seemed to be speaking to white people’s fears about the menace of “the other,” made manifest as dark and sinister forces. But Black people of course saw different monsters….

(4) UPHILL CLIMB. “Fantasy, sci-fi books by Latinx authors need more support, authors and agents say” at The 19th News.

Romina Garber had always been an avid reader of fantasy stories, especially Harry Potter, but something ate at her: She could never find another Latina in the stories.

“I couldn’t find someone that reflected me or represented me, and that always really bothered me,” she said.

So Garber wrote the story of a young girl who discovers she’s a lobizona, a werewolf of Argentine folklore. But when Garber began looking for literary representation for the book that would eventually be “Lobizona,” 15 years ago, no one wanted it.

Garber remembers one agent telling her that “no one cared about Argentine immigrants.” There was no American market for the title, and it’s not what people wanted to read. Garber felt her identity, not just her book, being rejected. 

“He was talking about me, he wasn’t talking about my characters,” Garber said. “It really crushed me. And after that, I just realized I can’t write about myself.”

So she began writing allegorical science fiction instead, creating a world where everyone is divided up by their zodiac sign. Garber found an agent with this new concept and finished publishing the four-book series in 2017. But Garber’s mind drifted back to the first book she tried to sell about an undocumented immigrant lobizona. It felt more urgent than ever: The news was filled with stories of immigrant children being detained in cages during the Trump administration’s border crackdowns.

Now armed with an agent from her science fiction series, her book was sold to a publisher. “Lobizona,” the first in the Wolves Of No World Duology, was released in 2020. Garber regrets that she ever shelved the story in the first place. “I should never have stopped fighting.”

There have been a few standout successes for Latinx authors in the realm of speculative fiction — which includes fantasy, science fiction and dystopian stories — and many are written by women and LGBTQ+ authors. Books such as Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s “Mexican Gothic” and Aiden Thomas’ “Cemetery Boys” have been New York Times bestsellers. Moreno-Garcia’s “The Daughter of Doctor Moreau” is up for the genre’s prestigious Hugo Award.

Publishers have backed a few bright stars, but that doesn’t translate into broader support. Publishing, both the industry and the authors, are overwhelmingly White. For Latinx authors, that can mean an industry that flattens cultural nuances, tokenizing and misrepresenting the speculative worlds they are dreaming into existence….

(5) THE WEB NOT SPUN. [Item by Steven French.] David Fincher’s take on Spider-Man: “’Who doesn’t think they’re an outsider?’ David Fincher on hitmen, ‘incels’ and Spider-Man’s ‘dumb’ origin story” in the Guardian.

…He pitched his idea for a Spider‑Man movie in 1999. Fincher’s version skipped the whole “bitten by a radioactive spider” part and focused on Peter Parker as a grownup. “They weren’t fucking interested,” he says with a laugh. “And I get it. They were like: ‘Why would you want to eviscerate the origin story?’ And I was like: ‘’Cos it’s dumb?’ That origin story means a lot of things to a lot of people, but I looked at it and I was like: ‘A red and blue spider?’ There’s a lot of things I can do in my life and that’s just not one of them.” The gig went to Sam Raimi….

(6) SECOND FIFTH. “Fantastic Beasts: JK Rowling franchise has been ‘parked’, director says” – the Guardian took notes.

… The Secrets of Dumbledore netted just $407m at the international box office, compared with the first film in the franchise, 2016’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, which grossed $814m, and the second movie, 2018’s The Crimes of Grindelwald, which took $654m.

The franchise has also been dogged by controversy arising from its stars and writer. JK Rowling, the Harry Potter creator who received the sole screenwriting credit for the first two Fantastic Beasts films and was co-writer on the third, has been widely criticised for her outspoken views on transgender issues.

Johnny Depp, who played Grindelwald in the first two Fantastic Beasts films, was in 2020 asked to resign from the franchise days after he lost his libel case against the Sun, which had referred to the actor as a “wife-beater” following accusations of domestic violence made against him by his ex-wife Amber Heard.

And Ezra Miller, another of the franchise’s stars, made headlines in 2022 after they were arrested multiple times; Miller eventually pleaded guilty to unlawful trespassing and revealed they were seeking treatment for “complex mental health issues”.

Yates revealed to the podcast that the franchise’s five-film plan had not initially been on the cards.

“The idea that there were going to be five [Fantastic Beasts] films was a total surprise to most of us,” he said.

“Jo just mentioned it spontaneously, at a press screening once. We were presenting some clips of FB1 [Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them]. We’d all signed up for FB1, very enthusiastically. And Jo, bless her, came on … and Jo said, ‘Oh, by the way, there’s five of them.’ And we all looked at each other because no one had told us there were going to be five. We’d sort of committed to this one. So that was the first we’d heard of it.”…

(7) A “MONSTER KID” REMEMBERS. [Item by Steve Vertlieb.] Cosmic dreams (and provocative nightmares) of tantalizing journeys through time and space … infinite, conceptual exploration of the stars … alien creatures … Hammer Films … Universal Pictures … “King Kong” … Ray Harryhausen … Ray Bradbury … George Pal … Robert Bloch … Peter Cushing … Veronica Carlson … Buster Crabbe … John Agar … Frank Capra … John Williams … Miklos Rozsa … Forrest J Ackerman … and Famous “Monsters” of all shapes, sizes, and creeds, both conceived and lovingly chronicled in books, magazines, journals, tabloids, and on line for over half a century, inspired this affectionate, deeply personal, if slightly “Monstrous,” remembrance of a life in “horror” by a gray haired, unabashedly child like, Monster “Kid.” “Vertlieb’s Views: A Monster Kid Remembers” at The Thunder Child.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 27, 1926 Takumi Shibano. Teacher, Writer, Editor, and Fan from Japan. He co-founded and edited Uchujin, Japan’s first SF magazine, in 1957. He was a major figure in the establishment of Japanese SFF fandom, and he founded and chaired four of the first six conventions in that country. In 1968 the Trans-Oceanic Fan Fund (TOFF) brought him to a Worldcon for the first time, in the U.S., where he was a Special Guest. He wrote several science fiction novels starting in 1969, but his work translating more than 60 science fiction novels into Japanese was his major contribution to speculative fiction. From 1979 on, he attended most Worldcons and served as the presenter of the Seiun Awards. He was Fan Guest of Honor at two Worldcons, in 1996 and at Nippon 2007, he was given the Big Heart Award by English-speaking fandom, and he was presented with a Special Hugo Award and a Special Seiun Award. (Died 2010.) (JJ) 
  • Born October 27, 1940 Patrick Woodroffe. Artist and Illustrator from England, who produced more than 90 covers for SFF books, including works by Zelazny, Heinlein, and GRRM, along with numerous interior illustrations, in the 1970s. He was also commissioned to provide speculative art for record album cover sleeves; his masterwork was The Pentateuch of the Cosmogony: The Birth and Death of a World, a joint project with the symphonic rock musician Dave Greenslade, which purported to be the first five chapters of an alien Book of Genesis, consisting of two music discs by the musician and a 47-page book of Woodroffe’s illustrations. It sold over 50,000 copies in a five-year period, and the illustrations were exhibited at the Brighton UK Worldcon in 1979. Hallelujah Anyway, a collection of his work, was published in 1984, and he was nominated for Chesley and BSFA Awards. (Died 2014.) (JJ) 
  • Born October 27, 1943 Les Daniels. Writer of a series concerning the vampire Don Sebastian de Villanueva. During the Seventies, he was the author of Comix: A History of Comic Books in America with illustrations by the Mad Peck — and Living in Fear: A History of Horror in the Mass Media. Later on, he’d write myriad histories of DC and Marvel Comics, both the Houses and individual characters. (Died 2011.)
  • Born October 27, 1948 Bernie Wrightson. Artist and Illustrator, whose credits include dozens of comic books and fiction book covers, and more than hundred interior illustrations, as well as a number of accompanying works of short fiction. His first comic book story, “The Man Who Murdered Himself” appeared in the House of Mystery No. 179 in 1969. With writer Len Wein, he later co-created the muck creature Swamp Thing in House of Secrets No. 92. In the 70s, he spent seven years drawing approximately fifty detailed pen-and-ink illustrations to accompany an edition of Frankenstein. And in the 80s, he did a number of collaborations with Stephen King, including the comic book adaptation of that author’s horror film Creepshow. In 2012, he collaborated with Steve Niles on Frankenstein Alive, Alive! for which he won a National Cartoonists Society’s award. He was Guest of Honor at numerous conventions, was honored with an Inkwell Special Recognition Award for his 45-year comics art career, and received nominations for Chesley Awards for Superior and Lifetime Artistic Achievement and for a Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in an Illustrated Narrative. (Died 2017.)
  • Born October 27, 1970 Jonathan Stroud, 53. Writer from England who produces speculative genre literature for children and young adults. The Bartimaeus Trilogy, winner of Mythopoeic Award for Children’s Literature, is set in an alternate London, and involves a thousand-year-old djinn; Lockwood & Co. is a series involving ghost hunters in another alternative London. I’ve read a few of the latter – they’re fun, fast reads.  Netflix made the latter into a series and promptly cancelled it after one season.
  • Born October 27, 1973 Anthony Doerr, 50. Author four novels, two of which are genre — About Grace and Cloud Cuckoo Land. The first is straightforward, the latter is really complex storytelling. He’s won four Ohioana Awards (Literature by writers from Ohio and about Ohio), not an Award I’d heard of before now.  He’s written one piece of genre fiction, “The Hunter’s Wife” which is only in The Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror: Fifteenth Annual Collection which means it was commissioned for there. 

(9) HOOPLA COMICS KINGDOM 1-WEEK BINGE PASSES. [Item by Daniel Dern.] As I wrote in “Reading Daily Comic Strips Online” (File770.com, March 23, 2022) a lot of current and classic comic strips are available online, primarily through ComicsKingdom and GoComics, for modest annual subscription prices — and
both offer free try-it access.

If you’re curious about Comics Kingdom’s offerings but don’t want to pony up a payment method just to try, Hoopla (hoopladigital.com) (access available through participating libraries) Binge Passes include a week’s access to a selection of the full site: Comics Kingdom Binge Pass.

(10) THIRD HELPING OF OMENS ON THE MENU. “Good Omens to Reportedly Be Renewed for Season 3, But With A Catch” — and Comicbook.com knows what it is.

Good Omens is reportedly looking at a Season 3 renewal by Amazon Prime Video and the BBC – but reportedly there is a catch. It’s now looking like Good Omens showrunner, director and executive producer Douglas Mackinnon will not be returning for Season 3 (likely the final season) – although lead actors Michael Sheen and David Tennant and the main cast of the show have reportedly all been locked-in to return.

(11) THE BLOB. “Spacewalking cosmonauts encounter toxic coolant ‘blob’ while inspecting leaky radiator” reports Space.com.

Two cosmonauts conducting a spacewalk outside the International Space Station (ISS) on Wednesday (Oct. 25) got an up-close view of a coolant leak that was first observed flowing from an external radiator earlier this month.

Oleg Kononenko came so close to the growing “blob” or “droplet” — as the pooling ammonia was described — that one of his tethers became contaminated, necessitating it being bagged and left outside of the space station when the spacewalk ended.

Kononenko and his fellow Expedition 70 spacewalker, Nikolai Chub, also of the Russian federal space corporation Roscosmos, began the extravehicular activity (EVA) at 1:49 p.m. EDT (1749 GMT) on Wednesday, knowing that one of their first tasks was to isolate and photo document the radiator, which was first observed leaking coolant on Oct. 9. Used as a backup to a main body radiator that regulates the temperature inside Russia’s Nauka multipurpose laboratory module, Kononenko and Chub configured a number of valves to cut off the external radiator from its ammonia supply….

(12) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Ryan George introduces us to “The First Guy To Ever Trick or Treat”.

[Thanks to Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Daniel Dern, Gary Farber, Steven French, Steve Vertlieb, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Ersatz Culture, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 9/26/23 One-Eyed, Once-Scrolled Flying Purple Pixel Eater

(1) HEAR JEMISIN ON WORLDBUILDING. N. K. Jemisin’s lecture at Cornell on October 4 will be livestreamed: “N. K. Jemisin to speak on imagining a better future” in the Cornell Chronicle.

N. K. Jemisin

N. K. Jemisin, award-winning fantasy author and critic, will give the Bartels World Affairs Lecture on Wednesday, October 4, at 5:30 p.m. in the Rhodes-Rawlings Auditorium.

The campus community is invited to join an in-person livestream watch party in Klarman Hall and attend a reception and book signing with Jemisin in the Groos Family Atrium after the event. A free watch party ticket is required. General admission is sold out. The lecture will also be livestreamed by eCornell.  

In this Bartels World Affairs Lecture, fantasy author N. K. Jemisin will share how she learned to build unreal worlds by studying our own — and how we might, in turn, imagine a better future for our world and reshape it to fit that dream.

Join us for Ms. Jemisin’s lecture and a discussion featuring a panel of distinguished Cornell faculty to kick off “The Future,” a new Global Grand Challenge at Cornell. We invite thinkers across campus to use their imaginations to reach beyond the immediate, the tangible, and the well-known constraints. How can we use our creativity to plan and build for a future that is equitable, sustainable, and good?

(2) FOOLS’ NAMES AND FOOLS’ FACES. [Item by “Orange Mike” Lowrey.] I will be appearing this coming Sunday as a special guest star in a lecture/presentation called Depths of Wikipedia Live, at the Majestic Theatre in Madison, WI. Ticket information at the link:

Join Depths of Wikipedia creator Annie Rauwerda on a journey through Wikipedia’s most interesting corners. You’ll have the time of your life [citation needed]…

(3) SALT LAKE CITY BOOKSTORE THREATENED. The King’s English Bookstore in Salt Lake City, UT was temporarily shut down by a bomb threat on Sunday morning targeting a drag queen story hour. Salt Lake City police heard of a “suspicious circumstance” around 9:30 and, after determining it was a bomb threat, evacuated the store to search for explosives, clearing it to reopen around 11. Tara Lipsyncki has hosted that drag queen story hour for five months. “Salt Lake City bookstore cleared after receiving bomb threat”Fox13Now has the story.

…Salt Lake City Police said they learned of a “suspicious circumstance” at the King’s English Bookshop, located at 1511 S. 1500 East, around 9:30 a.m. They later determined that it was a potential bomb threat and evacuated the building.

…The threat came in an hour and a half before “Sunday Storytime” with drag queen Tara Lipsyncki.

She’s been reading children’s books at the shop on the last Sunday of every month for five months now. She said she was heading to the King’s English when the co-owner, Calvin Crosby, called her to say the store had received a bomb threat.

“The parents and the queer kids that need this event and need to be seen, I feel for them,” she said….

Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall posted to X, “I cannot say this strongly enough, EVERYONE belongs in Salt Lake City. The actions today to cause fear at @KingsEnglish around a drag story time event are not welcome here. We’re looking forward to working with King’s English so this event can happen at a future date for all those who wanted to be there today.”

Sad Puppy Brad R. Torgersen joined others piling on the mayor with slurs about pedophilia.

Lipsyncki wrote in an Instagram post:

(4) WGA WEST AND EAST BOARDS VOTE TO LIFT STRIKE. A membership ratification vote comes next. “Writers Strike Is Over: WGA Votes to End Work Stoppage” reports Variety.

The Writers Guild of America (WGA) strike is officially over.

On the 148th day of the work stoppage, the board of the WGA West and council of the WGA East voted unanimously on Tuesday to lift the strike order as of 12:01 a.m. PT on Wednesday. following a tentative agreement on a new contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP). That means writers can go back to work as of Wednesday even before the final ratification vote.

The ratification vote will be held from Oct. 2-Oct. 9. The WGA will hold member meetings on both coasts this week in person and on zoom to discuss the details of the contract. Given the enthusiastic endorsement of the WGA negotiating committtee, it is expected to be easily ratified by strike-weary members.

(5) TOYS’R WHO? “57 Years Later, A Forgotten Sci-Fi Villain is Making an Unexpected Comeback” Inversefills in his dossier.

…With the release of the action-packed trailer for all three Doctor Who 60th-anniversary specials, airing this November, BBC confirmed that Neil Patrick Harris is playing the Toymaker. The name seems obvious — when he’s not donning a tuxedo and top hat, the character is dressed like a sinister Gepetto, and constantly surrounded by toys. But there’s more to him than just a toy-making gimmick: the Toymaker, also known as the Celestial Toymaker, is one of the oldest villains of Doctor Who, first appearing in a serial that aired 57 years ago.

Originally played by Michael Gough, the Toymaker made his debut in the 1966 serial “The Celestial Toymaker,” as a cosmic adversary to the Doctor who forced the Doctor’s companions to play a series of seemingly childish but deadly games. Think Squid Games but everyone is dressed in questionably oriental-looking robes (the Toymaker’s nickname was also “the Mandarin” — it was the ’60s). The Toymaker trapped his victims in a kind of pocket universe called the Celestial Toyroom, which he could manipulate to his whim. If his victims lost the games, they would become the Toymaker’s playthings forever, but if the Toymaker lost, the Toyroom would be destroyed and he would be forced to build another. The Toymaker also appeared to only be able to exist within his pocket universe, and couldn’t — or wouldn’t — leave it. But in the upcoming Doctor Who anniversary special, it seems that the Toymaker has made it into the main universe, and he’s pulled Donna Noble (Catherine Tate) into his schemes….

(6) CHENGDU WORLDCON UPDATE. [Item by Ersatz Culture.]

This is one I stumbled across, it was posted on February 9th, although the video title mentions January 5th, which was perhaps when it was filmed?  (Which would be two weeks before the venue and date change was officially announced.)

What is the progress of the main venue of the World Science Fiction Convention? Cover anchor takes you on a tour of the “Nebula” main venue (January 2023, 1)

(7) RILEY ON THE COVER. Although the story by David A. Riley initially accepted by F&SF was turned down after social media raised the issue of Riley’s history of having once been part of the UK’s National Front (see “F&SF Will Not Publish Riley Story”), a different work by the author has been announced as part of the lineup of Rogue Rocket Press’ Best of Lovecraftiana. (Lovecraftiana is a quarterly.) Riley also announced it on his blog: “The Best of Lovecraftiana Magazine will include The Psychic Investigator”.

The Best of Lovecraftiana Magazine will include my story The Psychic Investigator, which is likely to be the last of my Grudge End tales as it brings them to a post-apocalyptic end. 

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 26, 1869 Winsor McCay. Cartoonist and animator who’s best remembered for the Little Nemo strip which ran between The Wars and the animated Gertie the Dinosaur film which is the key frame animation cartoon which you can see here. He used the pen name Silas on his Dream of the Rarebit Fiend strip. That strip had no recurring characters or theme, just that a character has a nightmare or other bizarre dream after eating Welsh rarebit. What an odd concept. (Died 1934.)
  • Born September 26, 1872 Max Erhmann. Best remembered for his 1927 prose poem “Desiderata” which I have a framed copy hanging here in my work area. Yeah big fan. Genre connection? Well calling it “Spock Thoughts”,  Nimoy recited the poem on Two Sides of Leonard Nimoy, his 1968 album.  Who here has actually heard it? (Died 1945.)
  • Born September 26, 1888 T. S. Eliot. He’s written at least three short poems that are decidedly genre, “Circe’s Palace” “Growltiger’s Last Stand” and “Macavity: The Mystery Cat”. Then there’s his major work,  “The Waste Land” which is genre as well.  It’s worth noting that Lovecraft intensely hated the latter and wrote a parody of it called “Waste Paper: A Poem of Profound Insignificance”. (Died 1965.)
  • Born September 26, 1935 Juan Zanotto. An Italian-born Argentine comic book artist whose Italian Yor series was used as the basis of the 1983 Yor, the Hunter from the Future film. It has a fourteen percent rating over at Rotten Tomatoes. Who’s seen it? And he drew the Marvel Comics War Man graphic novel which was written by Chuck Dixon. (Died 2005.)
  • Born September 26, 1946 Louise Simonson, 77. Comic editor and writer. She started as editor on the CreepyEerie, and Vampirella titles at Warren Publishing. Working for DC and Marvel, she created a number of characters such as Cable and Doomsday, and written quite a few titles ranging from Doomsday, Wonder WomanConan the Barbarian and X-Terminators. She’s written a Star Wars title for Dark Horse. 
  • Born September 26, 1957 Tanya Huff, 66. Her Confederation of Valor Universe series is highly recommended by me.  And I also give a strong recommendation to her Gale Family series. I’ve not read her other series, so I’ll ask y’all what you’d recommend. Oh and her Blood Books series, featuring detective Vicki Nelson, was adapted for a television series as Blood Ties. And yes, it was, like Forever Knight, filmed and set in Toronto.  It’s streaming pretty much everywhere. 
  • Born September 26, 1959 Ian Whates, 64. The Noise duology, The Noise Within and The Noise Revealed, are space opera at its finest. And his City of a Hundred Rows steampunk urban fantasy series sounds damn intriguing. As an editor, he’s put together some forty anthologies of which I’ll note only one of the most recent, London Centric: Tales of Future London, as it’s a quite amazing collection. 

(9) AD ASTRA INSTITUTE WORKSHOP. The Ad Astra Institute‘s new speculative-fiction workshop “Writing in (& about) the Age of Artificial Intelligence” led by Christopher McKitterick will run from October-December. Outline below; full information at the link.

The format differs from prior workshops in that it’s a Science, Technology, & Society course blended into our “Science into Fiction” low-intensity writing workshop structure – our first pro workshop with a syllabus that includes weekly readings and viewings for discussion to inspire and inform participants. We hope people enjoy it and get a lot out of the experience.

This third SiF course takes place over the course of about two months, so it’s much lower-intensity than our residential summer workshops – suitable for people with day-jobs. But if you want high-intensity, it can be as intense as you like by getting more involved in Discord discussions, write-ins, reading and watching more stuff and talking with the others about it, playing around with chatbots, and so forth.

The developmental and brainstorming weekend takes place October 21-22, and after six weeks of drafting a new story (and one week to critique one another’s work) we’ll hold our critique weekend on December 9-10. We’ll host both workshop weekends in hybrid format (in-person in Lawrence, KS, plus on our Discord channel), so there’s no need to come to LFK unless you want to rub elbows with the small in-person cohort.

Workshop leader (and Ad Astra director) McKitterick is getting married this week and will be away while everyone is getting starting reading and watching, but will check in while on the road. Soon after he gets back to LFK in October, we’ll begin hosting discussions and write-ins.

Registration is now open! There are only a few spots left, so check it out soon if you’d like to participate. Alums are eligible for a small AdAstranaut scholarship right off the bat, plus – thanks to generous donors and attendees who pay full price – we can offer a few further scholarships, as well. So don’t let cost be a barrier to participating if you’d like to join.

Ready to take a deep-dive into AI and write a new story this fall? It needn’t be about AI, and you won’t get an “F” for failing to read and discuss enrichment materials, but hopefully the’ll inspire and get you writing.

(10) WHERE THE CORPSE FLOWER GROWS. On October 27-28, The Huntington Library in Pasadena, CA will roll out some events, entertainments, and displays in the Halloween spirit for “Strange Science at The Hauntington”. Full details and tickets at the link.

Join us for an evening of chills and thrills! Witness spirited performances and special displays of rarely seen objects from our vaults. Hear spine-tingling stories, learn weird scholarly facts, and experience twisted fantasies on the dance floor.

(11) PRESENT AT THE CREATION. Frankenstein 1930 at the Long Beach (CA) Playhouse between now and October 21 – full details and tickets at the link.

Just in time for the Halloween season, FRANKENSTEIN 1930 harkens back to the Universal monster movies of the 1930s in a stage homage that features all the elements we love and remember from those films: the stone walled laboratory, the crazed scientist, angry villagers, a swooning yet determined heroine, a fearful storm, and the hideous but sympathetic creature with its confused mind and powerful, undisciplined body. Can Victor Frankenstein and his fiancée Elizabeth subdue his deadly creation, or will the final confrontation be the end of them all?!?

(12) RIGS IN SPACE. [Item by Steven French.] Space drugs are coming soon! “Building in zero gravity: the race to create factories in space” in the Guardian.

… For some startups, the most pressing questions in manufacturing right now are: how do you build computer parts, harvest stem cells or produce pharmaceuticals while in space?

A group of founders say it’s already happening, at least at the research level. Nasa has given a $2m grant to scientists who want to see if zero-gravity conditions can help produce new stem cell and gene therapies. The defense company Northrop Grumman partnered with a startup that aims to produce semiconductors in space. By the end of this decade, one expert says, we’ll be using items that contain some element that was built off of Earth.

Why go through the trouble of “off-planet manufacturing”? Jeff Bezos told CBS’s Gayle King that heavy manufacturing and air-polluting industries could operate away from Earth. “This sounds fantastical … but it will happen,” Bezos said.

Advocates say that certain conditions in space, including the lack of gravity, low temperatures and near-perfect vacuum, mean that certain ingredients, such as crystals, can be made at a better quality than on land….

(13) A VERY BIG DESERT ISLAND. Nature says “This is what Earth’s continents will look like in 250 million years”. It will take true grit to survive this.

…Up to 92% of Earth could be uninhabitable to mammals in 250 million years, researchers predict. The planet’s landmasses are expected to form a supercontinent, driving volcanism and increases to carbon dioxide levels that will leave most of its land barren.

“It does seem like life is going to have a bit more of a hard time in the future,” says Hannah Davies, a geologist at the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences in Potsdam. “It’s a bit depressing.”

Earth is currently thought to be in the middle of a supercontinent cycle1 as its present-day continents drift. The last supercontinent, Pangaea, broke apart about 200 million years ago. The next, dubbed Pangaea Ultima, is expected to form at the equator in about 250 million years, as the Atlantic Ocean shrinks and a merged Afro-Eurasian continent crashes into the Americas.

…If humans are still around in 250 million years, Farnsworth speculates that they might have found ways to adapt, with Earth resembling the 1965 science-fiction novel Dune. “Do humans become more specialist in desert environments, become more nocturnal, or keep in caves?” he asks. “I would suspect if we can get off this planet and find somewhere more habitable, that would be more preferable.”…

(14) A LITTLE TOUCH OF HARRY IN THE NIGHT. Unlike King Kong, Harry Potter will not be climbing the building as part of this celebration: “Empire State Building to light up in Harry Potter’s Hogwarts house colors Wednesday to mark 25th anniversary” at AMNY.

The Empire State Building will light up in the four Hogwarts house colors on Wednesday, Sept. 27 to mark the 25th anniversary of the first Harry Potter book published in the U.S.

With a flick of the wand and a “Lumos,” the Tower Lights will shine in Gryffindor red, Hufflepuff Yellow, Ravenclaw blue, and Slytherin green at sunset.

A magical pop-up cart with free copies of “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” and bottled Butterbeer will be given to guests who purchase tickets to the 86th floor Observatory from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., while supplies last.

The Empire State Building, Wizarding World franchise partners, and Scholastic collaborated to organize the anniversary event, which all Muggles are also invited to come. 

(15) A TARTAN FOR OGRES? It’s Nice That tells how “You can now book a stay at Shrek’s swamp for free on Airbnb”. It’s in Scotland!

Shrek is giving Barbie a run for its money. After Barbie’s Malibu DreamHouse recently returned to Airbnb (this time hosted by Ken), the holiday rental platform has listed Shrek’s Swamp on its site. Located in the Scottish Highlands, the property is a real-life recreation of the homestead built by everyone’s favourite ogre.

According to Airbnb, anyone can request to book. One lucky group of three will be chosen for a two-night stay from 27-29 October, where they’ll experience all the luxuries of Shrek’s swamp – from “earwax candlelight” to the ogre’s iconic outhouse. The property was designed exclusively for this campaign, and is independently owned and operated by Ardverikie Estate….

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Ersatz Culture, John King Tarpinian, Steven French, “Orange Mike” Lowrey, Remco van Straten, Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day John Lorentz.]

2023 SFF Hall of Fame Inductees

Seattle’s Museum of Pop Culture has announced the 2023 inductees to the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame – author N. K. Jemisin, filmmaker John Carpenter, the Dune franchise, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show.


N.K. Jemisin

b. 1972

American science fiction and fantasy writer, N.K. Jemisin debuted her first novel, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, in 2010. She has since won multiple awards, including the Hugo, Locus, and Nebula Awards for Best Novel. She is known for exploring a wide range of themes like cultural conflict, liminal spaces, and the mechanics in systems of oppression.

Her Broken Earth Trilogy (2015-2017) won her the Hugo Award for Best Novel, making her the first Black author to win the award. She is the first author to win the award three years in a row, and the first to win it for each book in a trilogy. Jemisin was a recipient of the MacArthur Fellows Program Genius Grant in 2020 and included in Times annual list of the 100 Most Influential People in the World in 2021.

Jemisin has also worked as a counseling psychologist, an instructor for the Clarion and Clarion West writing workshops, and as the science fiction and fantasy book reviewer at The New York Times. Jemisin’s works have been translated into more than 20 languages and in 2021 Sony’s TriStar Pictures won the rights to The Broken Earth Trilogy with Jemisin adapting the novels for the screen.

SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY

Inheritance Trilogy (2010-2011)
Dreamblood Duology (2012)
Broken Earth Trilogy (2015-2017)
Great Cities Series (2020-2022)


John Carpenter

b. 1948

John Carpenter is an American filmmaker and composer known for his horror, action, and science fiction films, most notably the Halloween franchise. Carpenter’s films are characterized by minimalist lighting, panoramic compositions, and distinctive scores.

They include box office hits such as Halloween (1978), one of the most successful independent films of all time, The Fog (1980)Escape from New York (1981), and Starman (1984), as well as cult classics Dark Star (1974)The Thing (1982)Prince of Darkness (1987)They Live (1988), and Escape from L.A (1996).

Raised in a musical home, Carpenter wrote or co-wrote the scores for nearly all his films. His early adoption of synthesizers inspired many electronic artists and recent reissues of several has reinvigorated public interest in his talents as a musician.

While his commercial film success peaked in the 1980s, Carpenter’s legacy as a legendary American filmmaker continues to grow. The U.S. Library of Congress selected Halloween for preservation in the National Film Registry in 2006, and in 2019 Carpenter was presented with the Golden Coach Award at the Cannes Film Festival.

SELECTED FILMOGRAPHY

Halloween (1978)
The Fog (1980)
Escape from New York (1981)
The Thing (1982)
Starman (1984)
Big Trouble in Little China (1986)
They Live (1988)
Memoirs of an Invisible Man (1992)
In the Mouth of Madness (1994)
Village of the Damned (1995)
Escape from L.A. (1996)
Ghosts of Mars (2001)

SELECTED DISCOGRAPHY

Lost Themes (2015)
Lost Themes II (2016)
Anthology: Movie Themes 1974–1998 (2017)
Lost Themes III: Alive After Death (2021)


Dune (Franchise)

Considered the world’s best-selling science fiction novel, Frank Herbert’s Dune (1965) created a franchise that now includes comics, video games, television shows, and films—and continues to challenge and inspire generations of creators and audiences.

Herbert’s novel, with its more than two dozen prequels and sequels, tells the story of an interstellar empire tens of thousands of years in the future. Vital to this empire is the desert planet Arrakis, the only known source of the spice melange, which is the most valuable substance in the universe. Control of Arrakis, its spice production, and the combined impact on humanity’s development form the axis of a millennia-long conflict that develops throughout the series.

Ambitious screen adaptations include the 1984 film by David Lynch and the John Harrison turn-of-the-millennium TV miniseries. Denis Villeneuve’s cinematic reimagining brought Dune back to the screen in 2021.

Frank Herbert’s original book was honored with the inaugural Nebula Award for Best Novel and the Hugo Award in 1966. It was praised by The New Yorker as “an epic of political betrayal, ecological brinkmanship, and messianic deliverance.” The novel has been translated into dozens of languages and sold roughly 20 million copies.

RELATED WORKS

Dune, book (1965)
Dune Messiah, book (1969)
The Illustrated Dune, book (1978)
Avalon Hill’s Dune, board game (1979)
Marvel Comics Super Special #36: Dune (1985)
Dune: Blood of the Sardauker, comic book (2021)

Dune, film (1984)
Dune, video game (1992)
Dune, television show (2000)
Children of Dune, television show (2004)
Dune, film (2021)
Dune: Spice Wars, video game (2022)


The Rocky Horror Picture Show (Film)

1975

The Rocky Horror Picture Show is a musical comedy horror film exploring themes of self-expression, the ethics of conformity, and gender and sexual freedom. Initially panned by critics, it has become a landmark cult film with a devoted global fanbase.

Based on Richard O’Brien’s 1973 musical stage production The Rocky Horror Show, it stars O’Brien, Tim Curry, Susan Sarandon, and Barry Bostwick, and centers on a young couple seeking help at a remote castle after their car breaks down. They find the castle occupied by extravagantly dressed people celebrating an annual convention led by Dr. Frank N. Furter, an eccentric scientist, and visiting alien, who creates a man named Rocky Horror in his laboratory.

Embracing the show’s affirmation of gender expression, audiences began participating with the film at the Waverly Theater in New York City in 1976, and audience interaction has become an essential part of the Rocky Horror experience. In 2016, a television remake was made starring Laverne Cox as Dr. Frank N. Furter.

Still in limited release in 2023, Rocky Horror is the longest-running theatrical release in film history. The film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress in 2005.

RELATED WORKS

The Rocky Horror Show, play (1973)
The Rocky Horror Picture Show, film (1975)
Rocky Horror Picture Show, The Comic Book, comic book (1980)
Shock Treatment, film (1981)
The Rocky Horror Glee Show, television show (2010)
The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let’s Do the Time Warp Again, television special (2016)


This is the complete list of nominees voted on by the public:

Pixel Scroll 6/24/23 My Pixel Threw Out All My Old Scrolls And All That’s Left Is This Godstalk

(1) TROLLING FOR DOLLARS. Victoria Strauss advises how to handle a certain kind of litigation threat in “When the Copyright Trolls Came for Me” at Writer Beware.

If you’re a writer who’s serious about a career, you probably have some form of online presence: a website, a blog, an Instagram account. You may make use of images and/or videos created by others–to add visual interest to your blog posts or newsletters, decorate your website, and/or engage your readers and followers. For example, the header image at the top of this post.

If you use images online, you need to be aware of copyright trolls….

The full article is at Writer Unboxed: “When The Copyright Trolls Came for Me”. And part of the advice is to actually have rights to the images you used online.

The Importance of Protecting Yourself

The resources I consulted in my research for this post agree that copyright trolling is on the rise—and as my experience shows, you don’t have to infringe to be a target. In that environment, it makes sense to do what you can to defend yourself.

What does that include?

  1. First and most obvious, if you use images, make sure you have the proper licenses and/or permissions, or that the images are free to download under a Creative Commons license, such as photos from sites like Pixabay and Unsplash (though do read the license terms: there may be restrictions on use, such as a requirement for attribution—and yes, trolls come after people for messing that up too). Giving credit to the image creator and/or linking back to the source is polite, but it won’t protect you from copyright claims….

(2) NEW BLOCH TRIBUTE. The Robert Bloch Official Website launched just one week ago, and today Jim Nemeth announced a major update: the Stories page is greatly expanded, providing the most comprehensive list of Bloch’s published stories to date.

 (3) A REAL HE-MAN. Cora Buhlert shows off two Masters of the Universe figures.

(4) TINGLE BOOK AD. “Chuck To The Future” is an appeal to preorder Chuck Tingle’s Camp Damascus.

“No, no buckaroo, the Hugo Awards are fine. We’ve gotta help Chuck Tingle!”

(5) TINGLE BOOK TOUR. And Chuck Tingle has been dropping announcements about book tour appearances with colleagues – you’ll be able to tell them apart, he’ll be the one with a bag over his head.

With Nicola Griffith in Seattle.

With Catriona Ward in Minneapolis.

With N.K. Jemisin in New York.

(6) REGRETS, I’VE HAD A FEW. “Our Way” is a parody of the Frank Sinatra hit “My Way” about the DC Extended Universe.

The Flash marks the end of the DCEU run as we’ve known it. Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman sing goodbye to the DCEU and reminisce on the good, the bad, and the weird that the DC Comics movie universe entailed

(7) MEMORY LANE.

2015 [Written by Cat Eldridge from a choice by Mike Glyer.]

Becky Chambers as you all well know is the author of the Hugo Award-winning Wayfarers series which is where our Beginning comes from this Scroll, as Mike choose wisely in selecting The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, the first novel in that series. It is one of my favorite novels, period.  

The novel itself surprisingly didn’t garner any Awards though it was nominated for an  Arthur C. Clarke Award, a British Fantasy Award for Best Newcomer, a Grand prix de l’Imaginaire and a Kitschie for Best Debut Novel. No Hugo nomination though. 

And now for a rather superb Beginning…

As she woke up in the pod, she remembered three things. First, she was traveling through open space. Second, she was about to start a new job, one she could not screw up. Third, she had bribed a government official into giving her a new identity file. None of this information was new, but it wasn’t pleasant to wake up to. 

She wasn’t supposed to be awake yet, not for another day at least, but that was what you got for booking cheap transport. Cheap transport meant a cheap pod flying on cheap fuel, and cheap drugs to knock you out. She had flickered into consciousness several times since launch—surfacing in confusion, falling back just as she’d gotten a grasp on things. The pod was dark, and there were no navigational screens. There was no way to tell how much time had passed between each waking, or how far she’d traveled, or if she’d even been traveling at all. The thought made her anxious, and sick.

Her vision cleared enough for her to focus on the window. The shutters were down, blocking out any possible light sources. She knew there were none. She was out in the open now. No bustling planets, no travel lanes, no sparkling orbiters. Just emptiness, horrible emptiness, filled with nothing but herself and the occasional rock. 

The engine whined as it prepared for another sublayer jump. The drugs reached out, tugging her down into uneasy sleep. As she faded, she thought again of the job, the lies, the smug look on the official’s face as she’d poured credits into his account. She wondered if it had been enough. It had to be. It had to. She’d paid too much already for mistakes she’d had no part in.

Her eyes closed. The drugs took her. The pod, presumably, continued on.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born June 24, 1947 Peter Weller, 76. Yes, it’s his Birthday today. Robocop obviously with my favorite scene being him pulling out and smashing Cain’s brain, but let’s see what else he’s done. Well, there’s The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension, a film I adore. And then there’s Leviathan which you I’m guessing a lot of you never heard of. Is Naked Lunch genre? Well Screamers based on Philip K. Dick’s short story “Second Variety” certainly is. Even if the reviews sucked.  And Star Trek Into Darkness certainly qualifies. Hey, he showed up in Star Trek: Enterprise
  • Born June 24, 1950 Mercedes Lackey, 73. There’s a line on the Wiki page that says she writes nearly six books a year. Impressive. She’s certainly got a lot of really good series out there including the vast number that are set in the Valdemar universe. I like her Bedlam’s Bard series better. She wrote the first few in this series with Ellen Gunn and the latter in the series with Rosemary Edgehill. The SERRAted Edge series, Elves with race cars, is kinda fun too. Larry Dixon, her husband, and Mark Shepherd were co-writers of these. 
  • Born June 24, 1950 Nancy Allen, 73. Officer Anne Lewis in the Robocop franchise. (I like all three films.) her first genre role was not in Carrie as Chris Hargensen, but in a best forgotten a film year earlier (Forced Entry) as a unnamed hitchhiker. She shows up in fan favorite The Philadelphia Experiment as Allison Hayes and I see her in Poltergeist III as Patricia Wilson-Gardner (seriously — a third film in this franchise?). She’s in the direct to video Children of the Corn 666: Isaac’s Return as Rachel Colby. (Oh that sounds awful.) And she was in an Outer Limits episode, “Valerie 23”, as Rachel Rose. 
  • Born June 24, 1961 Iain Glen, 62. Scots actor who played as Ser Jorah Mormont in Game of Thrones, he’s also  well known for his roles as Dr. Alexander Isaacs/Tyrant in the Resident Evil franchise; and he played the role of Father Octavian, leader of a sect of clerics who were on a mission against the Weeping Angels in “The Time of Angels” and “Flesh and Stone”, both Eleventh Doctor stories.
  • Born June 24, 1982 Lotte Verbeek, 41. You most likely know her as Ana Jarvis, the wife of Edwin Jarvis, who befriends Carter on Agent Carter. She got interesting genre history including Geillis Duncan on the Outlander series, Helena in The Last Witch Hunter, Aisha in the dystopian political thriller Division 19 film and a deliberately undefined role in the cross-world Counterpart series. 
  • Born June 24, 1988 Kasey Lansdale, 35. Daughter of Joe Lansdale. Publicist at Tachyon Books and a really nice person. Really she is. And yes, she’s one of us having written The Cases of Dana Roberts series, and edited two anthologies, Fresh Blood & Old Bones and Impossible Monsters. In her father’s Hap and Leonard collection Of Mice and Minestrone, she has “Good Eats: The Recipes of Hap and Leonard”. 
  • Born June 24, 1994 Nicole Muñoz, 29. You’ll perhaps best remember her for role as Christie Tarr (née McCawley) in the Defiance series. Her first role was playing a Little Girl in Fantastic Four. Likewise she was A Kid with Braces in The Last Mimzy, and yes, Another Girl, in Hardwired. The latter was written by Michael Hurst, and has apparently nothing to with the Walter Jon Williams novel of the same name.

(9) COMICS SECTION.

Yo_runner reveals the superpower of reading.

(10) NO ONE WILL WANT TO LEAVE. Architectural Digest takes readers to “The 9 Most Beautiful Bookstores in the World”. One is in Chengdu, China.

Dujiangyan Zhongshuge Bookstore (Chengdu, China)

When Dujiangyan Zhongshuge Bookstore opened in 2020, it was hard to escape news coverage of the surreal masterpiece. The company is known for its maximalist bookstores, and this location—with its tower book spirals and sculptural shelves—was no exception. In her book, Stamp recommends a visit to a similarly extravagent sister store, the Taizhou City branch.

(11) CHANNELING THE FUTURE. MeTV analyzes “Five predictions from ‘TV of Tomorrow’ that came true, and five that didn’t”.

3. Interior Design

While maybe not to the extent in this exaggerated cartoon, many rooms today are constructed with special attention given to the furniture’s placement in relation to the TV. While most of us aren’t installing a bathtub in the living room, televisions are nonetheless often the anchor, or focal point, in a room’s design. 

(12) PRIME DIRECTIVE. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] You’ve probably heard that Amazon Prime Day is coming on July 11-12th. A few Prime Day sale prices are reserved as “invitation only“. (You can request, but are not guaranteed, an invitation.)

This year, a trio of those deals have genre connections — stands for the 4th & 5th generation Echo Dot styled as Darth Vader, a Storm Trooper, or the Mandalorian. They’ll be 25% off the usual price. Check them out here.

(13) THE DINOS MAY BE DEAD BUT THEIR BONES STILL MOVE. Science News investigates “How ‘parachute science’ in paleontology plays out in 3 countries”.

In the Cretaceous Period, roughly 100 million years ago, the dinosaur Ubirajara jubatus probably turned heads with its feathers, shoulder rods and flashy displays. In 2020, the petite theropod made headlines as the first feathered dinosaur discovered in the Southern Hemisphere (SN: 12/14/20).

Today, the dinosaur is notorious for different reasons: Shortly after the news of its discovery, its backstory quickly drew some red flags.

The fossil had been unearthed in Brazil’s Araripe Basin, yet no Brazilian researchers were involved in its study. The researchers initially said they found the fossil in a Brazilian museum and brought it to a German museum in 1995 for further study, yet that museum later revealed it bought the fossil in 2009 from a private company. That company imported the fossil to Germany in 2006, yet it’s not clear if that import was legal.

U. jubatus isn’t unique in this sense. A supposed four-legged, 120-million-year-old snake (Tetrapodophis amplectus), for example, also made an unsanctioned trip from Brazil to Germany (SN: 7/23/15). And then there’s a roughly 90-million-year-old shark (Aquilolamna milarcae) from Mexico with a fantastic wingspan, which may have been purchased by a private collector through a legal loophole  (SN: 3/18/21).

These and many other cases of fossil fishiness are part of a long trend of what some call “parachute science” (or in this case “parachute paleontology”) and “scientific colonialism.”

These umbrella terms describe practices where scientists from high-income countries travel to middle- and low-income countries to study or collect fossils and fail to collaborate with or involve local experts. Or they skirt local laws around fossil collection and export. Sometimes the fossils are removed from their home countries under dubious or outright illegal circumstances. In other cases, the scientists purchase fossils from dealers, smugglers or private collectors in their own countries. The trend is linked to the legacy of colonialism, as many of the lower-income countries also happen to be former European colonies, while the higher-income ones are former colonizers….

(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “We Don’t Talk About Pluto” is a parody of “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” from Disney’s Encanto. Written in tribute to the Pluto formerly known as “planet”.

[Thanks to Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Rich Lynch, Daniel Dern, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jon Meltzer.]