Pixel Scroll 2/21/24 Born Of Scroll And Pixel?

(1) NOT A NEW PHENOMENON. [Item by Anne Marble.] If the article quoted in Seanan McGuire’s thread is any indication, the people marketing “romantasy” seem to think they’re the first to publish fantasy novels for women. Or maybe they know better — but they don’t care because they’re trying to market romantasy/romantic fantasy.  Bluesky thread starts here.

(2) WELCOME TO DYSTOPIA. Like Abigail Nussbaum says in her headline: “The 2023 Hugo Awards: Somehow, It Got Worse” at Asking the Wrong Questions.

… I’m going to say this again, because it is so shocking that it seems to have taken a lot of people some time to grasp the enormity of it: hundreds, perhaps even thousands of valid, legal nominating ballots were dropped from the final nominating stats, apparently under the pretext of having represented a slate, even though slates are perfectly legal under the Hugo rules. This was done on the orders of the Hugo administrator, with apparently no outside input or discussion, and appears to have elicited so little response from the Hugo team that they are casually mentioning it as if it’s nothing. If these numbers are correct, it’s entirely possible that the whole Hugo ballot should have looked completely different, and that none of the eventual winners in the fiction categories should have even been nominated.

What this means is that the entire 2023 Hugo scandal is something completely different from what we’ve understood it as during the last month. Appalling as it is, the choice to screen English-language nominees for ideological compatibility may, in fact, be a sideshow to the real scandal, which is that hundreds of Chinese voters have been disenfranchised. And—barring even more revelations—this disenfranchisement cannot be blamed on PRC sensibilities and censorship. I truly doubt that it was in the interest of China, or the Chinese business interests who took over Worldcon, to remove Chinese-language nominees from last year’s Hugo ballot. This decision came from the American and Canadian staffers who made up the English-language Hugo team, many of them Worldcon volunteers of long standing.

In this context, it is infuriating to recall just how quickly the response to our original sense of what this scandal was turned to anti-democratic measures and calls to limit the power of rank-and-file Worldcon members. “Elections have consequences!” crowed the people who are still pissed they weren’t allowed to steal the site selection vote in 2021, while others called to limit site selection to those with “skin in the game”—read, those with the wherewithal to travel to US-based conventions. But as it turns out, the call was coming from inside the house. This was never a China problem. It’s an us problem. If the allegations that are now emerging claiming that McCarty has behaved this way in the past, and also harassed other Worldcon staffers, are to be believed (and there is certainly more than enough reason to believe them at this point), it’s a profound failure on the part of Worldcon and its membership to police toxic members, which has now blown up in all our faces….

(3) TCHAIKOVSKY’S STATEMENT ABOUT 2023 HUGO. His Children of Time was announced as winner of the 2023 Best Series Hugo, however, after all the revelations “Adrian Tchaikovsky Will No Longer Cite His 2023 Hugo”.

There are many reasonable points of view about how to deal with the awards. File 770’s goal is to support and respect the recipients’ decisions.

Another author, Samantha Mills, recently made a decision comparable to Tchaikovsky’s, in a blog post titled “’Rabbit Test’ unwins the Hugo”

(4) THE WHOLE WORLD IS WATCHING. The Hugo Awards scandal has even made it into Sweden’s Dagens Nyheter – “Litteraturpris valde bort kinesiska författare”. The article is behind a paywall, though that’s honestly only a problem if you read Swedish.

(5) RAH VS. PKD. Giant Freakin Robot, in “The Sci-Fi Master Whose Work Has Been Ignored By Hollywood, And That Needs To Change”, feels Robert A. Heinlein deserves the kind of cinematic attention given to Philip K. Dick. (Survey says – *bzzzt*! “Wrong!”)

…Hollywood has had an ongoing love affair with the works of Phillip K. Dick for decades now. Sometimes it’s a healthy relationship, giving us masterworks such as Blade Runner. Sometimes it’s downright abusive when it produces flicks like Screamers or Paycheck. And sometimes it splits the difference and serves up enjoyable silliness such as Total Recall.

Still, as many times as the movies have returned to Dick’s catalog, you’d think he was the only SF writer out there. We all know better, of course, and pretty much any SF fan has their dream list of books they’d love to see brought to the silver screen.

If Hollywood really wants to freshen things up, they should take a closer look at the work of Robert A. Heinlein….

(6) BANNED FROM THE HIGHWAY. [Item by Dann.] Remember when non-genre magazines used to publish SFF stories?

Every automobile begins as the sparkle in someone’s eye. In 1981, Neil Peart and his Rush bandmates introduced the world to a Red Barchetta. Saved in an old white-haired uncle’s barn. A relic from before the Motor Law being chased down by gleaming alloy air cars before being saved by a one-lane bridge

But before that, it was an old MGB roadster. Rendered obsolete by wave after wave of modern automobile safety standards had made surviving car crashes not only likely but predictable. The drivers of the newly designed cars expected to walk away from accidents unscathed. As a result, drivers of these Modern Safety Vehicles began targeting older vehicles leaving them in mangled heaps. Those driving older cars were likely to be left in a similarly mangled condition. The price for driving a classic. And so the driver of the old MGB engages in a race for his life pursued by a pair of MSVs.

The story was “A Nice Morning Drive“. It was written by Richard S. Foster and first published in the November 1973 issue of Road & Track magazine. Neil Peart had encountered the story and was inspired to re-tell it in a more distant future where automobiles were banned. It appeared in 1981 on the quintessential RUSH album, Moving Pictures as the second track, “Red Barchetta“.

The band had tried to contact Richard, but R&T no longer had his current address. They did add a credit note referencing the original story in the liner notes.

It was many years later before a friend pointed out that Neil had been inspired by Richard’s story. And it was a few years after that when Richard began corresponding with Neil. The two eventually planned a motorcycle ride along the East Coast. It turns out that they both owned the same model motorcycle, the BMW R1200GS.

As a footnote, Moving Pictures came out in my junior year of high school when I took an advanced composition class. At some point, a red car entered into the zeitgeist of my classmates. The model would shift to suit the moods and tastes of various authors. Sometimes it was only glimpsed under a protective tarp. Other times it would it would fly along country roads kicking up a stream of fall leaves. Our automobile appreciations lasted about a month before our teacher put a firm but kindly end to our vehicular ruminations.

(7) BACK IN ACTION. Nancy Collins’ February 19 update to her GoFundMe backers is good news indeed: “Fundraiser by Nancy Collins : What Doesn’t Kill Me Leaves Me With Medical Bills”.

I want to take a moment to thank all of you once again for the great kindness and generosity you have shown me in the recent weeks and also update you on my current status and plans.

This coming weekend (February 23rd-25th) I will be a guest at Pensacon 2024 in Pensacola, FL. My doctor says I’m in good enough health to travel as long as I continue to pace myself and take my meds and supplements. And, to be blunt, I can’t afford to pass up what is likely my only comic con appearance for the foreseeable future. So if any of you who have donated are at the convention this coming weekend, please stop by so I can thank you in person. My good friend, Adam–who is the one who talked me into going to the ER instead of gutting it out another 24 hours–will be driving me there and back, as well as helping set-up and run my merchandise table for the weekend, so I have reliable support with me.

I have 3 more weeks, more or less, of blood thinners twice a day ahead of me before I get an idea of whether or not the blood clots were a one-off event or a symptom of something more serious. Until I know one way or another, I will be staying close to home. However, I still plan to be at the Outer Dark Writer’s Symposium in Atlanta next month, health permitting.

(8) LEE AND MILLER PHOTO. Following yesterday’s announcement of Steve Miller’s death, Andrew Porter sent File 770 his photo of the Steve and Sharon at Book Expo.

(9) MARK MERLINO DIES. Mark Merlino, one of the early founders of organized Anime and Furry fandoms in North America, died February 20 at age 71. He suffered a stroke in December, then was diagnosed with stage 4 liver cancer about two weeks ago. 

Merlino was known for organizing ConFurence, the very first furry convention, which laid the groundwork for the community’s expansion and visibility. His influential role was also recognized in the documentary feature The Fandom, showcasing his significant contributions.

Mark Merlino in 2006.

(10) RICHARD MATHEWS (1944-2024). Scholar Douglas Anderson pays tribute to a colleague in “R.I.P. Richard Mathews (1944-2024)” at Tolkien and Fantasy.

I just googled to see if my old friend Richard Mathews was still the Director of the University of Tampa Press, only to find out that he died last month.

I met him at the 1987 Mythcon in Milwaukee, where we both appeared on a panel on David Lindsay. We found we had many common interests. Richard had published, with Borgo Press, a short book on Tolkien, Lightning from a Clear Sky (1978), and other short books on William Morris and Brian Aldiss. His most notable work was the Twayne volume Fantasy: The Liberation of Imagination (1997; reissued in 2012), which was filled with insights despite the somewhat odd structure of the book (presumably imposed upon him as part of the series it was in). Richard also contributed introductions to some of the William Morris reprints for the Newcastle fantasy series in the 1970s…. 

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born February 21, 1946 Alan Rickman. (Died 2016.) The first time I saw Alan Rickman was in the decidedly not-genre role of German terrorist leader Hans Gruber in Die Hard, a film that’s still high on my list of great thriller films. Great role for him, too. It was amazingly his first film role.

He would won a BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for playing the Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. I actually did see that film. No, I’ll never watch again. Simon R. Green’s publicist tells me he made a lot of money for writing the novelization. 

Rickman went on to play the wizard Severus Snape in the Harry Potter series. I can’t say I cared for the character but I don’t think we were supposed to. I never got beyond a hundred pages in the first novel before I gave up reading it, but loved the films. 

While in the film The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the GalaxyWarwick Davis played Marvin, the android who was clinically depressed and in the novels I thought a royal pain in the ass, it was Alan Rickman who actually voiced the character.

He also voiced Absolem, the Caterpillar in an odd version of Alice in Wonderland. Look it up. Trust me, it’s weird.

And yes, I saved the best first last for last which as you already know is his role in the Hugo Award winning Galaxy Quest which is by far his best genre role. Alexander Dane is a Shakesperean actor who resents his character  Dr. Lazarus, the ship’s science officer. His catch phrase? Oh, you know that by heart.

(12) COMICS SECTION.

  • Macanudo shows who really was entitled to say, “How wude!!”

(13) ALL IN THE FOUND FAMILY. [Item by Steven French.] How the story of the ‘Hopkinsville goblins’ led to ET, Gremlins and a bunch of other movies! “The Long, Surprising Legacy of the Hopkinsville Goblins” at Atlas Obscura.

…THE STORY COMES TO US from the local newspaper Kentucky New Era, which, on August 22, 1955, reported strange goings-on the previous night, eight miles north of Hopkinsville, Kentucky. At about 11:00 pm, two cars arrived at the local police station, blasting out of the night filled with at least five adults and several children, all of whom were highly agitated. “We need help,” they told the police. “We’ve been fighting them for nearly four hours.”

Once they’d calmed down enough to talk, they unfurled a strange story. One of the men, Billy Ray Taylor, had been visiting from Pennsylvania. At one point, he went outside to fetch water from the farm’s well. As he walked through the failing light, he saw a circular-shaped object hover through the air before coming to rest in a nearby gully…

… Concerned, Taylor retreated inside and returned with a shotgun to investigate. As he walked into the gloom, a strange, goblin-like thing with glowing eyes appeared and moved toward him. It had “huge eyes,” and hands out of proportion with its body, and looked to be wearing some kind of “metal plate.” Taylor retreated to the house yet again and grabbed a .22 caliber pistol, while Lucky Sutton grabbed a shotgun and joined him.

A creature—whether it was the same one, they didn’t know—appeared in the window, and Sutton unloaded his shotgun at it, blowing out the window screen. When they went outside to see if they’d hit anything, Taylor felt a “huge hand” reach down from the low roof above and grab his hair….

(14) CARVING OUT A PLACE IN SPACE. “Japan to launch world’s first wooden satellite to combat space pollution” – the Guardian has the story.

The LignoSat probe has been built of magnolia wood, which, in experiments carried out on the International Space Station (ISS), was found to be particularly stable and resistant to cracking. Now plans are being finalised for it to be launched on a US rocket this summer.

The timber satellite has been built by researchers at Kyoto University and the logging company Sumitomo Forestry in order to test the idea of using biodegradable materials such as wood to see if they can act as environmentally friendly alternatives to the metals from which all satellites are currently constructed.

“All the satellites which re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere burn and create tiny alumina particles, which will float in the upper atmosphere for many years,” Takao Doi, a Japanese astronaut and aerospace engineer with Kyoto University, warned recently. “Eventually, it will affect the environment of the Earth.”…

(15) IT’S SUN-GRY. The Guardian reports — “Astronomers discover universe’s brightest object – a quasar powered by a black hole that eats a sun a day”. (“Feed me!”)

The brightest known object in the universe, a quasar 500tn times brighter than our sun, was “hiding in plain sight”, researchers say.

Australian scientists spotted a quasar powered by the fastest growing black hole ever discovered. Its mass is about 17bn times that of our solar system’s sun, and it devours the equivalent of a sun a day.

The light from the celestial object travelled for more than 12bn years to reach Earth….

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Animation Magazine encourages readers: “Watch: Prime Video Sneak Peeks ‘The Second Best Hospital in the Galaxy’ in New Clip”. The series debuts February 23.

…In a new exclusive clip shared with Animation Magazine, we get an advance look at the premiere episode. The excerpt features Dr. Klak (Keke Palmer), Dr. Sleech (Stephanie Hsu), Dr. Vlam (Maya Rudolph) and Dr. Plowp (Kieran Culkin). In Season 1, doctors Sleech and Klak take on a highly dangerous and potentially groundbreaking case and, in doing so, put existence itself in jeopardy. (Although considering their dismal personal lives, oblivion might be an improvement.)…

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Taral Wayne, Rich Lynch, Anne Marble, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Steven French, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jeff Jones.]

Pixel Scroll 2/13/24 If I Could Talk Through The Ansibles

(1) VENITA BLACKBURN Q&A. “How Venita Blackburn Wrote a Sci-Fi Novel About Sex, Grief, and Debt Collection” at Interview Magazine.

RITA BULLWINKEL: Black Jesus and Other Superheroes and How to Wrestle a Girl are two of my favorite books I’ve ever read. And Dead in Long Beach, California, I just gobbled it whole in one sitting. I really feel like it is a book of science fiction. How do you feel about that genre camp? 

BLACKBURN: I don’t think about genre like that, so I don’t approach any kind of work with one tone or angle as the goal. I have to have the voice that matters to me. But for this one, I did have this intention of doing this sort of high fantasy sci-fi, speculative kind of world that was tethered to our current modern world in a way. And as I kept going, I figured out, “Oh, the thing that’s nagging me, the thing that’s most hard to write is actually the part that’s closer to reality, and that’s the part I need to start investing more of my energy in.” That was a turning point during the early drafting stages, where I had to readjust the proportions and the vision and the scope. But I always knew it was going to be a little bit out of this world. Of course, the original title was “Lesbian Assassins at the End of the World,” so I was definitely going to reach far beyond what we know in this tangible universe. So that was fun to write, especially during the pandemic, when I was very disconnected from humanity. I wanted to be someplace safer, someplace where I understood everything, where I knew what was going to happen. So I started to get invested in that process and, apparently, that is a pretty cross-genre kind of way of looking at a story. 

(2) LIVE FROM 1965. James Davis Nicoll fed the Young People Read Old SFF panel James Schmitz’ “Balanced Ecology” from a 1965 issue of Analog, and one of the nominees for the first Nebula Awards (1966). What did they think? Well, they didn’t hate it.

(3) NESFA NEWS. The 2023-2024 winners of the NESFA Short Story Contest were announced at Boskone 61 last weekend:

  • Winners (tie): Dragana Matovic of Serbia for the story “Outside the Rain Was Relentlessly Falling” and Dr. Jennifer Grimes of Milford, MA for the story “The Simulation: Subject Ashe Klinn”.
  • Runner-up: Michael Barron of Parkville, MD for the story “The Last Time My Twin Destroyed the World”.
  • Honorable Mention: Jessica Li of Fremont, CA for the story “Wed the Sea Angels”.
  • Honorable Mention: Tyler Robinson of Dexter, MO for the story “Acid Memory Reflux”.

(4) STANDING BY. Hazel’s Picture Gallery, the massive archive of fanhistorical photos hosted by Chaz Boston Baden, isn’t around right now, for reasons he shared on Facebook last month.

It turns out my unlimited hosting account was not as unlimited as I’d thought. In particular, it’s “not intended to be used for data backup or archiving purposes.” And 20-plus years and a quarter-terabyte of photos is clearly an archive of my own.

So I’m learning how I can rebuild the Gallery within my hosting service’s rules. It’s going to be a process, but we’ll get there.

(5) DO YOU KNOW THE WAY TO OSCARLAND? “Ryan Gosling, America Ferrera, Jimmy Kimmel Spoof Barbie in Oscars Promo” in The Hollywood Reporter.

Jimmy Kimmel is ripping the Barbie parody band-aid a full month before the Oscars.

The Jimmy Kimmel Live! host dropped a five-minute short on Monday night, directed by JKL‘s Will Burke, hyping his March 10 gig emceeing the Academy Awards — re-creating many Barbie sets and reuniting four of its castmembers in a spoof that finds a hapless Kimmel trying to make his way to the Dolby Theatre. “Since the dawn of time, men have been getting lost,” says a voice-of-God Helen Mirren, spoofing her own narration of the Margot Robbie feature. “This is the story of one such dum-dum.”…

(6) THE MARVELS MINI-REVIEW. [Item by Daniel Dern.] The Marvels is now on Disney+ (as in, available to subscribers – we just watched it), and, I see, also on DVD/BluRay in libraries (having just checked my local library/network).

I liked this a lot. It was (IMHO) a fun, well-done ride throughout, with some unexpected scenes and bits.

Some brief possibly-helpful non-spoiler notes:

  • If you haven’t already watched the Ms. Marvel series (via Disney), it would help, I’m sure, so you know who (within the Marvel video universe) Ms Marvel is (there’s some powers differences vs the comics). And it’s a good show, well worth watching.
  • Captain Monica Rambeau’s story starts in WandaVision. I’m not sure watching WV for this is essential (they do one-line-summarize, which feels sufficient vis-a-vis the movie). IFTM (It Feels To Me)(and it’s implied/flashbacked) that some other of Rambeau’s character/backstory takes place in the Captain Marvel movie.

(One wonders what this movie might have been like if Rachel Brosnahan had been given that Cap M. role instead of Brie Larsen, yielding The Mazel-ous Ms Marvel 🙂 )

(7) NY FILM/TV TAX CREDIT CRITICIZED. “State-funded report says NY’s $700 million film tax credit is a bust” says Gothamist.

New York’s $700 million-a-year tax break for film and TV productions isn’t providing taxpayers with a good return on investment, according to a new analysis commissioned by the state itself….

…The state’s biggest industry-specific tax break belongs to the film industry, which gets $700 million a year to film or do post-production work in the Empire State. Hochul and legislative leaders are big supporters of the program, which has helped lure hundreds of productions over the years.

The tax break can be considerable. It covers up to 30% of a film’s qualified production costs, with another 10% available if productions are filmed in certain counties north of New York City. The credit is also refundable, meaning the state pays out the excess money if it exceeds a film production’s tax bill.

Last year, TV shows “Saturday Night Live,” “Blue Bloods,” “New Amsterdam” and “God Friended Me” all claimed the tax credit, totaling more than $20 million each, according to state records.

Beyond the lackluster return on investment, PFM’s report surmised that much of the filming that occurred in New York would have happened regardless of the tax credit….

(8) MEDICAL UPDATE. Nancy Collins shared news with followers of her GoFundMe about her recovery from a blood clot in one of her lungs: “What Doesn’t Kill Me Leaves Me With Medical Bills”. Donors have given $6,708 of the $10,000 goal as of today.

February 7th, 2024 by Nancy Collins, Organizer

I had to adjust my goal upward because I just found out how much my Eliquis prescription is costing me even *with* insurance. Holy cow. As it is, I’m having trouble getting it filled. The doctor sent my prescription to the Walgreens I use Monday evening. It’s Wednesday morning and it’s still not in stock. Apparently the “Starter Pack” isn’t kept in stock at any of the Walgreens–or most pharmacies, for that matter. My PCP is trying to get me samples to tide me over. Luckily, I feel okay and have enough energy to go buy compression socks.

I am deeply touched by the response so far. Y’all are good peoples.

Today by Nancy Collins, Organizer

I saw my PCP today, and she said my lungs sound good and warned me from taking NSAIDS until I’m off the blood thinners. She also set up an outpatient appointment with a Cancer Care Center for next month, to check that my clotting issues have been resolved. Also, this is the last day I take 4 Eliquis–tomorrow I step down to 2 a day for the next 3 weeks. And it’s also Mardi Gras!
Laissez les Bon Temps Roulez to all of you who have helped by donating or passing along the link!

(9) GARY SWATY OBITUARY. Arizona fan Gary Swaty has died. The CoCoCon announcement on Facebook covered his lifetime of fanac.  

He’s been attending science fiction conventions for half a century.

The first con he worked was IguanaCon II, the 1978 Worldcon, here in Phoenix.

He chaired HexaCon 16 and CopperCon 28 and has worked most committee positions at a host of others, especially LepreCons and CopperCons, but also multiple Westercons, World Horror, World Fantasy, Anizona, MythosCon and RandomCon. Most recently he sponsored filk GoHs at CoKoCon.

Gary loved to read poetry on panels at various conventions. He was also a gaming fan and could be found at most of the local gaming conventions.

He was the editor’s assistant for years on ConNotations.

He’s served on the boards of LepreCon, Inc., CASFS and WesternSFA and still held positions on all three when he passed.

He was honoured at LepreCon 42, who made him their Fan GoH.

Perhaps most of all, he’s known for his association with filk, especially through the Phoenix Filk Circle, which he ran for many years.

Bruce D. Arthurs adds, “Hilde and I have known Gary for years, and always tried to catch up with each other at local conventions. One more face that will be missed.”

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born February 13, 1929 Carol Serling, (Died 2020.) I try here to write Birthdays that I’ve not done before which is how I come to be celebrating Carol Serling, wife of Rod Serling.

She was, as all her family and friends will tell you, the faithful defender and steward of his work. She was born Carolyn Louise Kramer and she married him in 1948; they were married just twenty-seven years until his heart simply didn’t survive open heart surgery at age fifty. 

Upon his death, she became rather active in preserving his legacy. She would become editor and television producer for many of The Twilight Zone-related enterprises including the third iteration of The Twilight Zone series in which she was an executive producer for the first twenty episodes.

She has but one acting credit, in Twilight Zone: The Movie’s “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” segment, as a passenger. She was a key consultant for this film. 

She was the executive producer on Twilight Zone: Rod Serling’s Lost Classics, a two-story film.  Ms. Serling found these two unproduced stories by her husband in a trunk at her home. 

She donated many of his television scripts and movie screenplays to Ithaca College where her husband had taught courses in creative writing and film and television criticism. The gifts helped the college establish its Rod Serling Archives.

Now we come to her print publications. 

She edited five Twilight Zone anthologies (Journeys to the Twilight ZoneReturn to the Twilight ZoneAdventures in the Twilight ZoneTwilight Zone: 19 Original Stories on the 50th Anniversary and More Stories from the Twilight Zone), plus the Rod Serling’s Night Gallery Reader with Martin H. Greenberg and Charles G. Waugh. 

With David Brode, she wrote Rod Serling and The Twilight Zone: The 50th Anniversary Tribute

I know that she was responsible for Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone Magazine by licensing the name to Montcalm Publishing. She would be the associate publisher and consulting editor there. 

Carol told her daughters that she would like this poem to be read at the time of her death…

Mary Elizabeth Frye’s “Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep”

Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am in a thousand winds that blow,
I am the softly falling snow.
I am the gentle showers of rain,
I am the fields of ripening grain.
I am in the morning hush,
I am in the graceful rush
Of beautiful birds in circling flight,
I am the starshine of the night.
I am in the flowers that bloom,
I am in a quiet room.
I am in the birds that sing,
I am in each lovely thing.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there. I do not die.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • Tom Gauld’s strategy to save libraries.

(12) PYTHON KERFUFFLE. “John Cleese Responds To Eric Idle: ‘We Always Loathed Each Other’”Deadline recaps the brawl from X.com:

John Cleese is making it clear that he – and a few other Pythons – are in complete disagreement with long-ago co-star Eric Idle, who last weekend slammed manager (and daughter of Python co-founder Terry Gilliam) Holly Gilliam for what Idle suggested were the troupe’s dwindling finances.

“We own everything we ever made in Python and I never dreamed that at this age the income streams would tail off so disastrously,” Idle posted on X/Twitter Saturday. “But I guess if you put a Gilliam child in as your manager you should not be so surprised. One Gilliam is bad enough. Two can take out any company.”

Cleese left no doubt where he stands on the matter.

“I have worked with Holly for the last ten years,” the Fawlty Towers creator tweeted today, “and I find her very efficient, clear-minded, hard-working, and pleasant to have dealings with.”

Cleese continued, “Michael Palin has asked me to to make it clear that he shares this opinion. Terry Gilliam is also in agreement with this.”

Apparently there’s no love lost between Cleese and Idle, with the latter responding, when asked by an X follower if the two remain close, “I haven’t seen Cleese for seven years.” When another follower replied saying that made him sad, Idle responded, “Why. It makes me happy.”

Today, Cleese responded with an assessment so blunt some followers wondered if it was all a gag: “We always loathed and despised each other, but it’s only recently that the truth has begun to emerge.”

(13) PRIME CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT. “Amazon Prime Video Slapped With Class Action Lawsuit Over Introduction of Ads” reports Cord Cutters News.

Some Amazon Prime customer were angry enough at Prime Video’s introduction of ads that decided to take legal action.

The retail giant is facing a proposed class action lawsuit filed on Friday that alleges it breached its terms of service and misled customers by introducing ads into Prime Video service and then requiring users to pay $2.99 to get rid of them. The Hollywood Reporter first spotted the lawsuit, and posted a copy of the lawsuit on its site.

Amazon turned on the ads to its Prime Video service after telegraphing the move a few months earlier. Executives said the ads would allow Amazon to continue investing in content without having to raise the price of the service. Unlike other subscription streaming services, Prime Video is a feature tied to the online retail company’s Prime service, so raising prices could’ve meant charging people who don’t even use the service a higher rate.

But beyond the introduction of ads, the new standard service also dials back sound and picture quality….

(14) DON’T POOH IN YOUR PANTS, BUT HE’S BACK… [Item by Mike Kennedy.] …and he brought along a new friend. “Tigger arrives in ‘Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey 2’ trailer” reports Entertainment Weekly.

A couple of years back, British filmmaker Rhys Frake-Waterfield learned that the 1926 book Winnie-the-Pooh — which introduced the characters Pooh, Piglet, Eeyore, and Christopher Robin — was about to fall into the public domain and decided to direct a horror film featuring the quartet. The low-budget result, Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honeybecame a viral sensation after stills from the film hit the internet in May 2022.

At the time he was making the film, Frake-Waterfield was unable to feature the character of Tigger, who first appeared in 1928’s The House at Pooh Corner and had not yet bounced into the public domain. Pooh’s tiger buddy does, however, feature in the director’s sequel, Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey 2, as you can see in the frightening first-look images of the horror franchise’s version of Tigger.

In the film, Winnie-the-Pooh, Piglet, Owl, and Tigger find their woodland home and their lives endangered after Christopher Robin reveals their existence. Not wanting to live in the shadows any longer, the group decides to take the fight to the town of Ashdown, leaving a bloody trail of death and mayhem in their wake….

(15) READER, I CLICKED. “Dinosaur Evergreens Thought Extinct for 2Mil Years Discovered by Park Ranger–the Grove is the ‘Find of the Century’” at the GoodNewsNetwork.

From Australia comes a story too cool to believe. Like a vegetable version of Jurassic Park or King Kong, a copse of pine trees from a species that evolved in the Cretaceous Era were found high in the mountains.

These living fossils, to use the classic phrase, survived both the comet impact and subsequent global firestorm that killed the dinosaurs, as well as two intervening ice ages to make it to our time, and Australian botanists are treating the specimens as a top-secret national treasure.

The Wollemi pine evolved 91 million years ago and went extinct according to the fossil record 2 million years ago, but in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney, a stand of 90 specimens were found high in the more remote peaks in 1994.

For the past three decades, and in extreme secrecy, a team of specialists from the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) of Australia has been gradually planting small clumps of the Wollemi pine in other locations to help ensure it has every chance to see another 91 million years.

It helps the story that the Wollemi doesn’t look much like any pine tree you’ve seen in the woods by your house. Sporting Granny Smith apple-green foliage that grows in a pattern similar to a fern, it has a covering of bark reminiscent of Coco-puffs….

(16) GORT REPORT. Dan Monroe at Media Master Design tracks down “What Happened to GORT from The Day The Earth Stood Still?”

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Ryan George takes us inside the Argylle Pitch Meeting”.

Matthew Vaughn really made a name for himself with the ultra-stylized action movie Kingsman: The Secret Service in 2014. Now he’s bringing us Argylle, with an absolutely stacked cast of actors who are sometimes in it! Argyle definitely raises some questions. Like why was Henry Cavill presented as the star of this movie when he’s in it for just a few minutes? How many twists is too many twists? What does The Division even do? Why did they let her publicly share their secrets for half a decade? What’s that cat doing here?

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

Pixel Scroll 2/7/24 We’ll Pixel Them All With Laughter And Merriment, Except For The Ones We Scroll For Experiments

(1) PRH PLANS EDITION OF A FAMOUS POTTER FANFIC. [Item by Anne Marble.] Penguin Random House (through Del Rey) is going to publish a revised version of “Manacled,” a very famous Harry Potter fanfic. This is a Hermione plus Draco (Dramione) fan fiction with a lot of trigger warnings. The author, SenLinYu, announcd this on Tumblr:

I’m excited to announce that I have signed a book deal with Del Rey at Penguin Random House in the US and Michael Joseph in the UK for my debut novel, Alchemised, a standalone dark fantasy set in a war-torn world of necromancy and alchemy, in which a healer with amnesia is taken as a prisoner of war and must fight to protect her lost memories and the secrets hidden among them. It will grapple with themes of trauma and survival, legacy, and the way that love can drive one to extreme darkness, and it is, as you may be able to tell, a reimagined version of Manacled.

I know I’ve been rather quiet about my publishing journey, and a lot of that has been because I didn’t want to spark any concerns or worry that I might be abruptly taking away a story that is such a deep part of myself and that I know has meant so much to so many people. This process has unfolded very slowly and quietly because I have tried to be mindful as I could be in every step of the way. 

As most of you know, I have been a reader in fandom long before I ever began to write. Fanfiction is incredibly special to me, and I have tried to do my best not to undermine its legal protection or allow my works to do so either. During the last several years, there has been a growing issue with illegal sales of Manacled, putting both me and the incredible community that shares fanfiction freely in legal jeopardy. 

After consulting with the OTW as well as other lawyers, it has grown clear that as a transformative writer I have limited options in protecting my stories from this kind of exploitation, but I wasn’t sure what to do; I didn’t want to just take the story down, in part because I worried that might only exacerbate the issue, but I didn’t know what other options I had. Then I suddenly had this idea of alchemy, which was peculiarly appropriate; an academic world filled with unique transmutational abilities, and a necromantic war against people who had discovered the secrets of immortality, and I could see a path to reimagining the story while still holding on to as much of the original spirit of Manacled as possible.

I began redrafting the concept privately around Christmas 2022, and then as if the universe had aligned, just as I was finishing, Caitlin Mahony and Rivka Bergman of WME reached out to me and were delightfully enthusiastic about concepts and ideas for my new alchemical world and the ways I had reimagined the story. 

I’m thrilled to be working with Emily Archbold, my visionary editor at Del Rey, along with Rebecca Hilsdon at Michael Joseph in the UK, to polish this novel for publication in Fall 2025. I feel uniquely privileged that both my publishing teams are familiar with Manacled and understand how special it is to so many people, and how important it is that this reimagining captures the same spirit while also having its own wings. 

Manacled is not going anywhere at present. It will remain online throughout 2024, at which point it will, if you’ll pardon the pun, alchemise for 2025 and be removed from AO3….

The revised version is described as “Alchemised, a standalone dark fantasy set in a war-torn world of necromancy and alchemy, in which a healer with amnesia is taken as a prisoner of war and must fight to protect her lost memories and the secrets hidden among them.” As far as I know, it will be published under the name SenLinYu — just like the original fan fic. A lot of people are happy for the author. They are happy she is finally going to get paid for her work. They also see it as Penguin Random House banking on the popularity of her fanfic.

One aspect that drove the author’s decision is that “Manacled” is so popular that some people have resold it online without the permission of the author. However, those sales are illegal, and they jeopardize both the original author and the fanfic community. The author mentioned that she consulted with the Organization for Transformative Works (OTW) as well as lawyers about how to protect herself. So she decided to revise the fanfic and turn it into a new work. It will be sold in 2025. Until then, the original fanfic will still be available on A03. This news is not without its critics. First, a number of posts have accused the author of ripping off The Handmaid’s Tale alongside the Harry Potter elements. I haven’t read the fanfic, so I’m not sure how close it gets. From what I understand, there is a “concubine” element. (It seems a lot of dystopias have borrowed heavily from A Handmaid’s Tale in recent years.)

One poster got truly angry about this upcoming publication, calling the author a “freak” and a “horrible person” for romanticizing abuse. I’m sure this won’t be the only complaint along these lines. I’m torn with that sort of take. Yes, maybe some readers might get the wrong idea from reading a very dark story. But maybe we’re not giving readers (even young ones) enough credit.

(2) DON’T LET KIDS GET SMARTER. “LeVar Burton’s Banned Book Rainbow” is a show-within-the-show on Jimmy Kimmel Live, beginning at the 11:05 mark:

(3) KGB. Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present Isabel Yap and Randee Dawn in person at the KGB Bar on Wednesday, February 14 starting at 7:00 p.m. Eastern.

ISABEL YAP

Isabel Yap is the author of Never Have I Ever: Stories, which was published by Small Beer Press in 2021, and was named one of the 2021 Best Books for Adults by the New York Public Library. Her work has appeared in venues including Tor.com, Lithub, and Year’s Best Weird Fiction. Her collection won the British Fantasy Award, and was a finalist for the Ignyte, Locus, Crawford, and World Fantasy Awards. By day she works in the tech industry as a Product Manager. She likes visiting museums, playing the ukulele, and commiserating with others about how hard it is to write books.

RANDEE DAWN

Randee Dawn is the author of the bestselling novel Tune in Tomorrow, which was a finalist in the 2023 Next Generation Indie Awards. Her latest story, “The Fifth Horseman,” appears in the new anthology The Four ???? of the Apocalypse. Her stories have also appeared in Soul Scream, Horror for the Throne, and Even in the Grave, and she is the co-editor of Across the Universe: Tales of Alternative Beatles. An entertainment journalist who writes for the Los Angeles Times, Variety, and other publications, Randee lives in Brooklyn with her spouse and a fluffy, sleepy Westie.

Location: KGB Bar, 85 East 4th Street, New York, NY 10003 (Just off 2nd Ave, upstairs)

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

Observations from Hugo winner Ling Shizhen regarding the trophies

As yet, I’ve not noticed any Chinese coverage of the core part of Chris M. Barkley’s interview with Dave McCarty on Weibo, perhaps because of the initial lack of transcripts making that less accessible to non-native speakers, plus I’m uncertain how accessible SoundCloud, Google Drive, etc are to Chinese users.  (Google Drive I’m fairly sure is inaccessible in China without workarounds)

However, the notes at the end of Chris’ piece, regarding damage to the trophies that were shipped to the US, have garnered some discussion.

One of my Chinese SF friends made me aware that Best Fanzine co-winner Ling Shizhen had spoken on WeChat about the subject.  I don’t personally have access to that app, nor did I have alternative contact details for Ling, so I reached out to RiverFlow to see if I could get more information which I might be able to share more widely. 

Here is the the subsequent response from Ling via RiverFlow, firstly in the original Chinese, and then a machine translation via DeepL, with minor manual edits for phrasing.

2023年10月22日,我自成都抵重庆。一路行程中,我的箱包被塞满,为防这奖杯受损,便基本手持,虽感沉重,这奖杯无事。

后由重庆回上海时,先快递回去一大批于2023成都世界科幻大会收到的物件,便想这奖杯放书包里会好些。这奖杯被安置妥当后,一路小心,最多受行走及列车难免的些许微小颠簸。

至家后,发现有问题:这奖杯底座上的“星门”和这奖杯底座间的衔接处,有此前未有的松动,那“星门”有点晃。才发现:那“星门”本不是整块完全焊死在这奖杯底座上。于是想还不如一路手持由重庆回上海。至少我的相关亲历可以说明这奖杯很经不得碰……

On 22nd October 2023, I arrived in Chongqing from Chengdu [a journey of approximately 300km per Google]. During the journey, my bag was stuffed to the brim, so I basically held the trophy in my hand to prevent it getting damaged, and although it felt heavy, the trophy was fine.

When I returned to Shanghai from Chongqing [a distance of just under 1,700km per Google], I couriered back a large number of items I received at the 2023 Chengdu World Science Fiction Convention, so I thought it would be better to put the trophy in my backpack. After the trophy was properly placed, I was careful all the way, and it endured nothing worse than the inevitable bumps of walking and trains.

After arriving home, I found that there was a problem: the connection between the “stargate” and the base of the trophy had loosened up in a way that I had not been seen before, and the “stargate” was a bit shaky. It was only then that I realised that the “stargate” was not completely welded to the base of the trophy. So I think it would have been better to go all the way back to Shanghai from Chongqing carrying it by hand. At least my personal experience shows that this trophy is not very contact-friendly.

Many thanks to Ling Shizhen and RiverFlow for getting back to me so promptly, and for providing the information I requested.

Ling Shizhen and RiverFlow receiving the 2023 Hugo Award for Best Fanzine.  Image from the 2023 Hugo Ceremony video stream
Close up of the 2023 Hugo base, taken from the 2023 Worldcon Opening Ceremony video stream, previously published in the 2023-10-18 Pixel Scroll.

(5) FLAME ON. [Item by Steven French.] The Guardian is agog as “House of Flame and Shadow by Sarah J Maas races to the top of bestseller chart”.

The story of a half fairy, half human woman has gripped UK book buyers this week, as a novel about the hybrid heroine shot to the top of the bestseller chart.

House of Flame and Shadow by Sarah J Maas, the third book in the Crescent City series featuring Bryce Quinlan, has become the third fastest-selling science fiction and fantasy title since records began since its publication on 30 January.

Maas sold 44,761 copies of the new title in the week of its launch, coming in behind Terry Pratchett’s 2011 book Snuff with 54,687 launch week sales and Rebecca Yarros’s Iron Flame which saw a record-setting 57,055 sales last November, according to the Bookseller.

Maas and Yarros are driving a surge in popularity of the “romantasy” genre, which blends elements of romance and fantasy and has attracted huge numbers of readers through social media recommendations, particularly via TikTok. Videos with hashtags related to Maas have been viewed more than 14bn times, her publisher Bloomsbury said.”

(6) USED OR OVERUSED? At the Fantast Author’s Handbook, Philip Athans challenges the use of  particular word: “Active Search: Because”.

…I want to talk about the word “because.” I think “because,” which like all words is perfectly fine and in no way “banned,” sometimes—actually, fairly often—sounds clunky….

(7) COLLINS FUNDRAISER. Horror author, comics creator, and File 770 news contributor Nancy Collins was hospitalized earlier this week with blood clots in one lung, and as she says in the title of her GoFundMe, “What Doesn’t Kill Me Leaves Me With Medical Bills”.

This past Saturday (February 3rd, 2024) I woke up to discomfort in my left chest every time I inhaled. As the day went on I experienced increasing pain that radiated into my armpit and through my left shoulder, accompanied by extreme exhaustion. That evening I drove myself to the E.R. at a hospital near my house here in Macon, GA. By that point I thought I was having some kind of cardiac episode, as my mother’s side of the family had a long history of heart issues.

Within 30 minutes of being taken into the exam area, I was screaming in agony and could no longer sit up. Being kept prone helped alleviate the intensity of the pain, but breathing was still an issue.

An EKG, a set of Xrays, and a MRI scan later, I was told I wasn’t having a heart attack. However, I did have a blood clot in my lower left lung–actually, several small ones, according to the doctor. He said that if I hadn’t come in when I did Saturday night, odds are I would not have woken up Sunday morning.

They admitted me into the hospital, where I was ordered bed rest, pumped full of blood thinners, and then underwent several ultrasounds. They kept me over the weekend, finally releasing me Monday evening with several prescriptions and an outpatient appointment with a hematologist. I suspect I will be on blood thinners for the rest of my life. (I know, ironic for someone best known for writing vampire stories. Even more ironic–the clots appear to be the result of me sitting too long in front of my laptop while writing. )

I’m setting up this campaign to help with the medical bills from this unexpected reminder that I am no longer a spring chicken. While I have medical insurance, it ain’t all that and a bag of chips. I’m still on the hook for 25% of my treatment–possibly more, if it turns out any of the physicians, technicians, or laboratories who handled my case happen to be out-of-network.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born February 7, 1960 James Spader, 64. How can I not do the Birthday of James Spader, the performer who played Dr. Daniel Jackson, Egyptologist in Stargate? Yes, I’m really fond of that film. And yes, I am equally fond of the Stargate SG-1 franchise. 

His first SF film actually came as a starring role as Joey Callaghan in Starcrossed where an alien woman is running from a deadly enemy and tries to hide here. She meets a young mechanic (Joey), who helps her to go home and to be a freedom fighter there.

James Spader in 2014. Photo by Gage Skidmore.

A decade later, his next role is in Stargate one. I thought it was a great performance by him. And yes, the character as performed by Michael Shanks in Stargate SG-1 continuity is just as interesting, just completely different. His role I thought was more true to that of being an Egyptologist but the Stargate SG-1 continuity isn’t really concerned with the original premise, is it? 

If you saw Avengers: Age of Ultron, and I will readily admit that I have not, he not only voiced Ultron but did the motion capture for it. 

But his greatest role, and I readily admit that is not genre was in The Blacklist as Raymond “Red” Reddington, a former US Naval Intelligence officer turned fugitive who’s forced to become an FBI crime consultant. And I was surprised to learn that he was an executive producer for that series. 

(9) COMICS SECTION.

(10) TRACING THE ROOTS OF COMICS. At Colleen Doran’s Funny Business the artist takes her work on a Neil Gaiman book as the jumping-off point for a discussion of comic art history: “CHIVALRY: From Illuminated Manuscripts to Comics”.

One of the many reasons I wanted to adapt Neil Gaiman’s Chivalry into graphic novel form was to create a comic as a bridge and commentary re: comics and illuminated manuscripts.

We’re often told that the first comic was Action Comics #1 featuring Superman, a collection of Superman comic strips that morphed into comic books as an art form.

Sequential art predates Action Comics #1.

Action Comics popularized sequential art book storytelling that had already appeared in other forms in fits and starts throughout history. Comic books didn’t take off as a popular medium for several reasons, not least of which was the necessary printing process hadn’t been invented yet and it’s hard to popularize – and commercialize – something most people can never see. 

You find sequential art in cave paintings and in Egyptian hieroglyphics. I’ve read that comics (manga) were invented by the Japanese in 12th century scrolls.

And sequential art appears over and over again in Western art going back well over 1000 years, and in book form at least 1100 years ago.

The most obvious example of early sequential art in Western art – as a complete narrative in sequence – is the Bayeux Tapestry. …

(11) GRIMDARK ARCHITECTURE. The completed Brooklyn Tower is being compared to Barad-dûr. “Brooklyn Tower and 100 Flatbush Lead a Borough’s Art Deco Revival” at Bloomberg.

On an overcast day, the delicate pointed crown of the Brooklyn Tower is invisible in the clouds, as if a vengeful enemy has shrouded its superlative vantage in smoke. Nonetheless, over the low-rise flatlands that comprise most of the borough, the jagged edges rising along the dark shaft are present and unmistakable.

The Batman building, the Tower of Sauron — the nicknames write themselves. And why not? Better this than another squared-off tower that simply fiddles with the ratio of white solid to blue glass. Maybe I should hate it for its bigness, its blackness, its thrust — but I don’t. Skylines need punctuation. The designers of the Brooklyn Tower, SHoP Architects, threw everything at this to make it an exclamation point…

….“The idea was Gotham, it was Deco,” says Gregg Pasquarelli, founding partner of SHoP Architects. “Batman should live here.”…

Color photo of Brooklyn Tower, a supertall skyscraper.
Brooklyn Tower is the borough’s first supertall skyscraper. Photo: Max Touhey, courtesy of SHoP Architects

(12) OMG! The H Book Club blog on X.com made this gobsmacking observation:

Footnote: In case you don’t already know the background:

(13) MARVEL TV CREW MEMBER LOSES LIFE. “’Wonder Man’ Crew Member Dies During Production Of Marvel TV Series” reports Deadline, and people are donating to the support of his widow.

Go Fund Me drive has already raised more than $115,000 for Juan Carlos Osorio, the crewmember on Marvel’s WonderMan series who died Tuesday after falling from a catwalk at Radford Studios.

“On February 6th, 2024, our friend Spike lost his life on the set of Marvels WonderMan shoot at CBS Radford studios due to a potential structural failure,” reads the fundraise, started by Bill Martel. “We are hoping the Production Company, The Facility, MBS, Marvel Studios handles things properly, but expect a long road fraught with attorney fees and expenses. In the mean time, bills will be mounting and the widow, Boom Operator Joanne W. will be left to deal with everything. Help if you’re able, it’s greatly appreciated.”…

(14) INVESTMENT MEANS ADDING DISNEY CONTENT TO FORTNITE. “Disney Invests $1.5 Billion in ‘Fortnite’ Developer Epic Games” reports Variety.

Disney is investing $1.5 billion in “Fortnite” developer Epic Games in what will be the Mouse House’s “biggest foray into the game space ever,” Disney CEO Bob Iger announced Wednesday.

…Per further information provided by Disney, “in addition to being a world-class games experience and interoperating with ‘Fortnite,’ the new persistent universe will offer a multitude of opportunities for consumers to play, watch, shop and engage with content, characters and stories from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, ‘Star Wars,’ ‘Avatar’ and more. Players, gamers and fans will be able to create their own stories and experiences, express their fandom in a distinctly Disney way, and share content with each other in ways that they love.”…

(15) RARE UNFINISHED DOCUMENTARY FEATURE FILM TRAILER FOOTAGE FROM “THE MAN WHO ‘SAVED’ THE MOVIES”. [Item by Steve Vertlieb.] Here’s the original theatrical trailer for the never completed feature length motion picture documentary, The Man Who “Saved” The Movies, concerning over half a century of published writings…associations with actors, composers, writers, and directors…and some seventy-six years devoted to a passion for both films and film makers, while lovingly chronicling the life and career of film, and film music historian Steve Vertlieb.

Featuring appearances by Veronica Carlson, Philippe Mora, Paul Clemens, Juliet Rozsa, Lee Holdridge, Mark McKenzie, Patrick Russ, and Gregg Nestor, the film remains a work in progress. While financial difficulties have sadly plagued its production, it is my hope that it may one day reach completion.

… and, yes, that is me with Frank Sinatra, Johnny Mathis, Kirk Douglas, William Shatner, Jack Klugman, old friend and iconic American film director, Frank Capra, Oscar winning film composer, John Williams, Oscar winning film composer, Miklos Rozsa, famed science fiction author, Ray Bradbury, iconic special effects titan, Ray Harryhausen, “Psycho” author Robert Bloch, together with “The Time Machine” producer/director, George Pal, Hammer Films’ star, Peter Cushing, and screen hero/gold medal Olympian, Buster Crabbe.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ob6-t0MKXRY

(16) COLD WAR SURPLUS? “Remnants of a Nuclear Missile Are Found in a Garage” – in Bellevue, WA – reports the New York Times. “The police responded to a call from a U.S. Air Force museum that said a man had offered to donate a Cold War-era missile stored in his late neighbor’s garage.”

Members of the bomb squad in Bellevue, Wash., on Thursday were called to inspect parts of a military-grade missile in the garage of a resident.

Elements of the larger, intact missile, such as the warhead, were missing and the authorities deemed the piece to be inert and safe, the police said in a news release on Friday.

An Air Force museum in Dayton, Ohio, contacted the police in Bellevue on Jan. 31 to report that a resident had offered to donate the missile, which belonged to his late neighbor….

…The next day, the man was “surprised” to hear from the police because he had not called them but invited the bomb squad to inspect the missile remnant, Officer Tyler said.

Squad members identified the rocket as a Douglas AIR-2 Genie missile, designed to carry a 1.5-kiloton nuclear warhead….

…It was clear that the missile remnant did not pose a threat given that it was missing its warhead and did not contain rocket fuel, Officer Tyler said.

“It was essentially just a rusted piece of metal at that point,” he said. “An artifact, in other words.”…

The NYT news report reminds me that when I first got into fandom I heard tell about Russell Seitz, a fan who was famous for having acquired the components of an ICBM. The following is one version of that story:

In the late 70’s, when most of our nuclear arsenal was converted from liquid to solid fuel, the U.S. Government auctioned off a number of obsolete missile silos and their contents. Mostly the silos got bought by local farmers who converted them for grain storage. I only know what happened to one of the missiles. It was offered at sealed bid auction and a friend of mine, Russell Seitz, bought it. When you bid on something like this, you have to send in a check for 10% of your bid as a deposit. He looked at his bank account, and figured he could spare about $300 that month, so that’s what he sent. When he discovered that he’d won the bid, he had to scrounge up the rest. Now the buyer must pick up the goods himself, but he can request that his purchase be delivered, at government expense, to the nearest military base. Being an undergraduate at M.I.T. at the time, he had the missile shipped to Hanscom Airforce Base, about 12 miles away. He then arranged for a truck, and donated the missile to a local modern art museum (I forget which one). Tax laws were a little different in those days, and if you donated something to an art museum, you could deduct not the just the purchase price, but the original value of the object, which was considerable. Income averaging allowed him to spread the “loss” out over a number of years so that he didn’t have to pay taxes for a long time! He was legendary at M.I.T. for quite a while, and acquired the nickname “Missile” Seitz.

(17) EARLY RELEASE SUPER BOWL AD. Does having the Aquaman actor in it make this an item of genre interest? You decide! Zach Braff, Jason Momoa and Donald Faison appear in a Flashdance-themed Super Bowl commercial for T-Mobile.

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. The official trailer for Despicable Me 4 is out. The movie comes to theaters on July 3.

In the first Despicable Me movie in seven years, Gru, the world’s favorite supervillain-turned-Anti-Villain League-agent, returns for an exciting, bold new era of Minions mayhem in Illumination’s Despicable Me 4.

Following the 2022 summer blockbuster phenomenon of Illumination’s Minions: The Rise of Gru, which earned almost $1 billion worldwide, the biggest global animated franchise in history now begins a new chapter as Gru (Oscar® nominee Steve Carrell) and Lucy (Oscar® nominee Kristen Wiig) and their girls —Margo (Miranda Cosgrove), Edith (Dana Gaier) and Agnes (Madison Polan)—welcome a new member to the Gru family, Gru Jr., who is intent on tormenting his dad.

Gru faces a new nemesis in Maxime Le Mal (Emmy winner Will Ferrell) and his femme fatale girlfriend Valentina (Emmy nominee Sofia Vergara), and the family is forced to go on the run. The film features fresh new characters voiced by Joey King (Bullet Train), Emmy winner Stephen Colbert (The Late Show with Stephen Colbert) and Chloe Fineman (Saturday Night Live). Pierre Coffin returns as the iconic voice of the Minions and Oscar® nominee Steve Coogan returns as Silas Ramsbottom.

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

Dragon*Con Addresses Kramer Connection

Dragon*Con’s management has responded on Facebook to the storm over its continued financial connection to Ed Kramer.

The controversy was energized by Kramer’s extradition from Connecticut to Georgia, where he has been facing child molestation charges since 2000, and a recent article in an Atlanta monthly that raised fans’ awareness that Kramer remains a stockholder in Dragon*Con’s parent corporation and gets dividends from the con’s profits.

Nancy Collins has called for a Dragon*Con boycott and some have answered, notably Kaja and Phil Foglio.

Dragon*Con’s response begins:

There has been a great deal of discussion as of late in the community regarding our continued financial connection to Edward Kramer. Please know that we are as troubled by this circumstance as anyone else, but please also know that there is no simple, legal, solution to this matter…if there were, it would have been resolved long ago.

For the record, Edward Kramer resigned from the Dragon*Con convention in the year 2000. Since that time, he has had no role in the direction or management of the convention; however, he remains a stockholder despite our desires otherwise.

Since Edward Kramer’s arrest in 2000, we have made multiple attempts to sever all ties between Edward Kramer and Dragon*Con including several efforts to buy Edward Kramer’s stock shares. Unfortunately, Edward Kramer’s response to our buyout efforts was repeated litigation against Dragon*Con…th­us our buyout efforts have been stalled. The idea proposed of dissolving the company and reincorporating­ has been thoroughly investigated and is not possible at this point. Legally, we can’t just take away his shares. We are unfortunately limited in our options and responses as we remain in active litigation.

They deny generally the “current flood of ‘information’” sourced in Kramer’s multiple lawsuits against Dragon*Con, claiming “much of this misinformation is being quoted as pure fact despite the reality that a court of law determined that many of the facts and figures provided by Mr. Kramer in his law suits were false, inaccurate or completely fictitious.”

The statement also emphasizes that since 2000, Dragon Con has been managed by three of the original co-founders, Chairman Pat Henry and board members Dave Cody and Robert Dennis. Which is to say – not Ed Kramer.

Regardless whether Dragon*Con management is legally helpless, or just unwilling to do anything that might kill the goose that lays the golden eggs, one fact is clear. People who don’t want to be making a financial contribution to Ed Kramer must find their own solutions. Not giving Dragon*Con any of their money is one.

Collins, the Foglios any many others consider the boycott a necessity to cut off the funds Kramer uses for his legal defense. I make no doubt that Ed uses his Dragon*Con income to pay his lawyers, but let’s not forget that in our system he’s entitled to a defense. If he was broke, the government would have to appoint him a public defender. I won’t characterize it as a problem that he’s defending himself, frustrated as I may be that the charges have lingered unresolved for almost 13 years.

It’s the prosecutors and courts in Georgia I’ve felt should be held accountable for letting Ed scam them into infinite delays, arguing he was unable to assist in his own defense. Quotes from people who saw Kramer out and about prior to his arrest in Connecticut show he considers himself able to work on a film. Why wasn’t anyone in Georgia law enforcement able to bring similar information to light over the years?

[Thanks to James Bacon for the link.]

Foglios Boycott Dragon*Con

Kaja & Phil Foglio posted today on the Girl Genuis Webcomic Facebook page that they will not be going to Dragon*Con this year because of co-founder Ed Kramer’s history as an accused pedophile, and because Kramer’s significant income from his continued financial interest in Dragon*con (though he is no longer an officer) has afforded him the ability to mount a defense which has helped him avoid going to trial on the charges since they were brought 12 years ago.

The Foglios were invited to come to Dragon*Con as guests and say they will be sacrificing $15,000 of income by skipping the con.

They also posted a link to an article about Nancy Collins’ call for a Dragon*Con boycott.

The Foglios’ announcement has already received over 500 “likes” and 400 shares.