Pixel Scroll 1/24/24 A Fist Full Of Typos

(1) HELP NEEDED. Writer Richard Kadrey, whose work includes the Sandman Slim novels, is asking for financial help in a GoFundMe for “Medical bills, rent, and a big, hungry cat”.

This is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do, but my back is against the wall. Because of physical and mental health issues over the last year, plus disappearing gigs and jobs that never came through, I have to suck up my pride and ask for help.

I’ve been living off savings and credit cards for a year. I had one good, steady gig but got blindsided when it ended abruptly. Now that money is gone, my cards are pretty much played out, and the IRS is giving me the side eye. And there are still health issues and bills I need to deal with. Basically, I could use some help to feed my cat and keep my stupid life intact.

If you could spare a couple of bucks, you’d a life saver. And if one of the good gigs I’m hoping for comes through later this year, I promise to pay your kindness forward to another artist down on their luck.

So, here I am with my dumb hat in my dumb hand, humbled as hell. This is the last thing in the world I ever wanted to do. But I don’t have a choice. Even if you can’t help, thanks for reading this. I appreciate it and so does Aces, my hungry cat who will eat me if I don’t keep up with the kibble.

(2) MORE QUOTES ABOUT HUGO CONTROVERSY FROM CHINA SOCIAL MEDIA. On Bluesky, Angie Wang has some screencaps and computer translations to go with this introduction:

RE the Hugo Awards, if you go on Weibo and do a public search right now, you’ll see some Chinese fans cussing the hell out of the Chengdu organizers specifically, and some cryptic remarks from someone who seems related to the event and the organizers about trying to prevent all this from happening

(3) PAIJIBA. Pajiba’s Nate Parker brings schadenfreude to bear on the topic in “The Hugo Awards Step In It Again”.

… If you look through McCarty’s thread – and you should, because it’s fun to watch him get wrecked in real time – you’ll see Gaiman’s about the only one who gets a polite answer. “After reviewing the Constitution and the rules we must follow, the administration team determined those works/persons were not eligible.”

He repeats the same answer ad nauseum despite multiple polite requests for clarity. It’s a vague answer for an organization that prides itself on inclusivity and transparency…. 

(4) POLYGON. Chris Barkley is quoted in Polygon’s coverage, which otherwise contains nothing new to readers here: “Hugo Awards controversy sparks censorship allegations”.

… The Hugos are among the most prestigious awards in science fiction and fantasy, and it’s incredibly disheartening to see what should be a celebration of all the great work happening in that space be tainted by controversy. With the committee still refusing to give answers and with no central governing body to step in, it seems unlikely we’ll ever know the details of what occurred — or see anyone held accountable if anything unconstitutional did.

What is clear is that the community is determined never to see a repeat of what occurred this year. As Barkley wrote, “this incident, whether it was at the behest of the government of the People’s Republic [of] China or some other entity, will NEVER be forgotten and that doing something about preventing such a thing from happening again will be at the top of the agenda at the Glasgow Worldcon Business Meeting in August…”

(5) WHERE IN THE WORLD. At Winter Is Coming, Daniel Roman’s article “Controversy strikes the 2023 Hugo Awards, causing uproar over censorship speculation” ends with this conclusion.

…I happened to be at DisCon III when Chengdu won the bid for this year’s Hugo ceremony, and one of the prominent arguments in its favor that I heard floated around was that Worldcon should be a world convention, not just one that floats back and forth across the U.S. and a handful of other western countries. Bringing it to countries in, for example, East Asia and Africa would be a great way to include fans in parts of the world who have not typically been able to attend, and to recognize the writers doing amazing work in those regions.

However, if each Worldcon must logically abide by the local and regional laws of the country where it’s being held, and those laws mean that the Hugo Awards cannot be conducted legitimately and fairly because of things like censorship — or even worse, that certain groups of people might have their safety put in jeopardy — then that must be considered as well. We have a situation right now where it’s being speculated that there was government censorship on the 2023 Hugos, and regardless of whether there was or not, it seems clear that the people behind the event do not feel that everyone involved is safe enough to explain the situation in full. In that sort of circumstance, it’s hard to imagine any scenario where the awards can actually take place in a legitimate manner.

(6) OKAY, HERE IT IS. You want the truth? You think you deserve the truth? Sarah A. Hoyt will give it to you: “This Thing Isn’t Entirely Under My Control” at Mad Genius Club.

…Among the many strange things I get asked — and other writers get asked — is how we do what we do. I.e. how we create the stories, and stay on track and write them and all. 

Now, normally when I’m asked this I’m at a panel, where I’m under writ to tell a lot of lies, provided I make them entertaining. Also, on principle, I’m supposed to sound like a professional who know what she’s doing. Of course, acting like a pro should be easy after 30 years or so of being published (okay, 25 years just about in novels. But yeah, about 30 from first semi-pro short story.) And if you believe that, I have some primo Florida swamp I’d like to sell you at a really good price.

I often wonder, though, if my fellow writers lie like moth eaten rugs at this panels. Because they make the whole thing sound so rational, so controlled. “Well, I wanted to write a book about the manufacture of bells in the planet Korud, so, I thought, how do I wrap an adventure around that?” And we all smile and nod sagely as someone explains how he researched the manufacture of bells for five months, then went to a Buddhist monastery and sat contemplating the metalness of bells, before the idea of having pirates come to the planet and remove the bells, and then our hero….”

I know I lie. I lie a lot about the writing process, when I want to sound like I did things for a reason. Well, and when I worked for Trad Pub. Because you don’t want your editor and publisher to think you’re a complete loon. But more and more I just tell the truth.

And the truth is “this thing isn’t fully under my control.”…

(7) BIG CUTS AT LA TIMES. From Politico: “LA Times slashes newsroom as paper struggles under billionaire owner”.

The Los Angeles Times on Tuesday laid off at least 115 people, including about a quarter of its newsroom, in a stunning second round of major layoffs in less than a year that underscored broader challenges facing the news business.

Cuts included reporters, editors and columnists, according to the union that represents the newsroom and social media posts from individual journalists. Layoffs fell disproportionately on Black, Latino and Asian employees who tend to have less seniority, the Guild said in a statement….

(8) CHASING MOBY CHATGPT. In a recent email to members from the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society the ALCS’ Deputy Chief Executive Richard Combes expects the coming year to provide more clarity around AI, authorship and copyright.

My piece last year opened and closed with a few sentences generated by ChatGPT. At the time, this seemed like a novel way of demonstrating the capability of the technology; then I found the acres of other articles doing the exact same thing. But as Herman Melville observed, “it is better to fail in originality than succeed in imitation.”

During the intervening year, the think pieces have piled up, commenting on various policy initiatives, lawsuits and existential crises, while AI-generated content has sprouted online like fungi on the forest floor (including, notoriously, several foraging guides offering unreliable advice about edible mushrooms).

As judicial decisions and statutory rules emerge and evolve over the coming year, we should begin to find answers to key questions about copyright, authorship and creativity in the age of AI. Conceptually, we’ve been here before, repeatedly. The first quarter of this century has seen successive technologies redefine the way that creators’ works are consumed and distributed without due consideration for how they will be credited and paid, and the latest wave is no different.

The false dilemma that’s often presented between an innovative tech sector and a robust framework for copyright and creators’ rights is as artificial as it is banal. It is possible and, if we want to maintain the value and stature of our creative industries, essential to develop models whereby the tech sector is an ally to those creating the works upon which their products and services rely. So, how do we get there from here?

…For almost 20 years, the ALCS authors’ earnings surveys have described a fixed direction of travel, a stubbornly downward trend. This threatens not only the viability of existing careers but also creates barriers to entry for new and diverse voices. So, our work this year is about plotting a new course, on what promises to be an interesting, challenging but vitally important journey; which leads me to close as I opened, with Melville, “it is not down in any map; true places never are”.

(9) LOVIN’ SPOONFUL. Charlie Jane Anders argues on behalf of “10 Space TV Shows That Don’t Get Enough Love” at Happy Dancing.

The first two on the list are:

1) Space Cases.

Peter David and Bill Mumy created this YA TV show about kids exploring space, including a young Jewel Staite. It aired for two seasons on Nickelodeon, and it was cute as hell, not to mention quite subversive at times. George Takei plays an alien conqueror named Warlord Shank, and when I say Takei chews all the scenery… You’ll see tooth marks all over the sets. This show was sort of a precursor of Star Trek: Prodigy, and I remember it being fun as all heck.

2) Quark.

Quark was a short-lived spoof of Star Trek and Star Wars that aired in 1977, featuring a host of campy characters. The thing is, it had so many cool ideas in the mix. Long before Firefly (or even Alien), this is the story of the crew of a humble blue-collar starship — a garbage scow, in this case – getting involved in vital, dangerous shenanigans. There’s a gender-fluid character, a pair of clones who both insist they’re the original (just like the Maulers in Invincible!) and a plant in humanoid form. In many ways, Quark was ahead of its time.

(10) AFTER ACTION REPORT. [Item by Steven French.] The recently wrapped-up “Fantasy: Realms of Imagination” exhibition included several science-fiction related items, including this copy of the March 1956 issue of Ploy, a fanzine edited by Ron Bennett, a member of the Leeds Science Fiction Association which, as the exhibit’s label notes, was the successor to the group formed after the famous 1937 convention (not just the first in the U.K. but the first in the world!). For some reason the Library chose to display these letters from fellow fans, one of which including a description of a talk given to the Sheffield Junior (and Parents) Astronomical Society which contains language ‘of its time’ that would definitely be deemed inappropriate nowadays.

Elsewhere in the issue (available here at the FANAC site) there are brief contributions from mega fans/editors/authors Shirley (Lee) Hoffmann and Terry Carr. 

(11) FRANK STROM DIES. Comics fan and writer Frank Strom recently died, mourned by his friend Tom Brevoort in “Mortality” at Man With A Hat.

Frank had aspirations of breaking into the field professionally, and he operated on the fringes of it for many years, but was never quite able to find that break that would make it a full time vocation. He wrote a ton of issues of the licensed ELVIRA comic book, he had a short-lived series in Fantagraphics’ X-Rated Eros line in the 1990s, CHEETA POP, SCREAM QUEEN, and he wrote one story for Marvel. That one I commissioned from him especially; it starred the 1940s/1950s character Venus who was a fascination of both of ours, and guest-starred both a number of the girl comics stars of the 1950s but also a small bevy of Marvel’s pre-hero monsters. I was able to convince Dan DeCarloFrank’s favorite, to draw it. Eventually, though, he settled into a routine day job…. 

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born January 24, 1944 David Gerrold, 80. How could I not start by acknowledging he wrote one of the best scripts ever in the Trek series, “The Trouble with Tribbles”? Seriously it’s a perfect script from the very beginning to those Scottie saying “Aye, sir. Before they went into warp, I transported the whole kit ‘n’ caboodle into their engine room, where they’ll be no tribble at all.”  It garnered a Hugo nomination at Baycon. 

David Gerrold. Photo by and (c) Andrew Porter.

Not that he stopped there of course. He was responsible for an uncredited rewrite on “I, Mudd”, and he scripted along with Oliver Crawford the rather excellent “The Cloud Minders” in season three. 

The animated series which I still truly adore and which of course is on Paramount + saw him  following up his “The Trouble with Tribbles” script with one for “More Tribbles, More Troubles”. His other animated script was “Bem” in which he reveals James T. Kirk’s middle name to be Tiberius. I had thought it’d been done in the series but that’s just my memory. It’ll next be used in The Undiscovered Country

David Gerrold and Diane Duane at the 1975 Westercon. Photo by and (c) Andrew Porter.

He left Star Trek: The Next Generation and the Trek verse as Memory Alpha explains here: “He left the show near the end of the first season, partly because of the dispute over his controversial script, ‘Blood and Fire’. The story, which was basically an allegory of AIDS, and involved allegedly homosexual characters, was initially scrapped by the producers. It was re-written by Herb Wright as ‘Blood and Ice’, removing the gay characters, but it still remained unproduced.” Well and other reasons that he into in great detail as well. 

Not at all surprisingly, he got involved in those video fan fictions, as a series consultant for fan-produced series Star Trek: New Voyages, and Star Trek: Phase II for which he was named show runner. He fell out later with other members of the latter series over creative differences and left. 

Let’s see… let’s not overlook that JMS actually did produce his “Believers” script on Babylon 5, a story involving our good doctor, aliens and a very unfortunate outcome. 

Books? Oh yes. When HARLIE Was One is an extraordinary novel. Though I’ve sampled his other novels, it’s his most original, most interesting and certainly most intriguing work. Interestingly, at least to me, I discovered doing this essay that When HARLIE Was One is not a one-off but is rather just one novel in a rather extensive series entitled simply Harlie. Intriguingly the first one is titled Oracle for a White Rabbit. Was that Rabbit there? 

The War Against the Chtorr series of books, about an invasion of Earth by deliberately not sketched out aliens was, errr, ok. I read A Matter for Men and A Day for Damnation but stopped there. There were two more published then a comedy or tragedy of reasons for why the series wasn’t completed have followed in the decades since. 

Other novels? Well there’s this novelette called “The Martian Child” won a Hugo at Intersection which became a film. There’s the most readable The Man Who Folded Himself that nominated for a Hugo at Discon II. It’s wonderful and certainly deserved that Hugo.

Now my favorite work by him is the first novel that he did, The Flying Sorcerers which started out in If as “The Misspelled Magician” which I like better as a title. It was co-written with Larry Niven. 

There’s too much other fiction, both long form and short form which I’ve not encountered to deal with here. I know all of you well enough that you’ll note anything that you think I should mentioned. 

(13) WEIGHING MJOLNIR. After viewing Neil deGrasse Tyson’s analysis of “How Much Thor’s Hammer Weighs”, Daniel Dern notes (anticipating much of Tom Galloway’s initial comment-worthy thoughts) (playlist: “She’s So Heavy,” The Beatles) —

Overspecialized nerds missing the point: Neil deGrasse Tyson forgets (or never read the relevant Marvel comics, nor watched the right Marvel movies). Unlike Superman’s super-heavy regular-sized front door key to his Fortress of Solitude (see Grant Morrison & Frank Quiteley’s All-Star Superman) (as opposed to the original classic humongous key pretending to be a road sign for plane flight paths), Mjolnir’s liftability was a function of the lifter’s worthiness.

(14) MICKEY AND FRIENDS PLAY AVENGERS AND X-MEN IN NEW DISNEY WHAT IF? COVERS. This time marking the 60th anniversary of two of Marvel’s most iconic super hero teams—the Avengers and the X-Men — new Disney What If? variant covers kicked off earlier this month with Amazing Spider-Man #41 and will continue to adorn select issues of Amazing Spider-Man throughout 2024. 

(15) DISNEY IMAGINEER JOINS INVENTORS HALL OF FAME. “Lanny Smoot Becomes The Second Person From Disney, Since Walt Disney Himself, To Get Inducted Into The National Inventors Hall Of Fame” reports Yahoo!

… The Disney Parks Blog reports that The National Inventors Hall of Fame announced its Class of 2024 inductees during a ceremony at the Walt Disney Imagineering campus in Glendale, CA.

Smoot is making history as the first Disney Imagineer to receive this honor. He’s also only the second Walt Disney Company employee since Walt Disney to earn the recognition.

During Smoot’s 45-year career, he has been a theatrical technology creator, inventor, electrical engineer, scientist, and researcher. The innovator has amassed a collection of over 100 patents, 74 of them created during his 25-year stint at the Walt Disney Company….

… Smoot has been integral in creating some of the most technically advanced special effects at Disney theme parks and experiences. Some examples of these special effects include Madame Leota’s floating in the Séance Room at Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion, Disney Live Entertainment’s extendable lightsaber, the Magic Playfloor interactive game experience on the Disney Cruise Line, and the Fortress Explorations adventure at Tokyo DisneySea….

(16) EVERYBODY KNOWS LOTR. [Item by Daniel Dern.] “The Trick to the Fluffiest Muffins May Already Be in Your Kitchen” says the New York Times.

As winter set in this January, Sarah Kieffer recalled how it snowed for eight months last year in her hometown, Minneapolis. For weeks on end, the temperature dipped below minus 20. Surrounded by grayness, she baked blueberry muffins for the cheer of their bright pops of blue.

“It’s like when the hobbits got to Mordor, and Sam looks up and sees a bright shining star, and has a little bit of hope,” she said. “That’s what a blueberry muffin feels like in February.”

Ms. Kieffer, the author of “100 Morning Treats” (and a self-described “super nerd”)…

Daniel Dern comments: Implicit in the text is the assumption (by the writer and NYT section editor) that the reader is at least familiar to recognize the source (Lord of the Rings) without the invocation of Frodo, Gandalf, Bilbo or Gollum — and simply saying “Sam” rather than “Samwise” or “Sam (Frodo’s more-than-a-sidekick)” although “hobbits” and Mordor” do help provide key context, of course.

At least Ms. Keiffer didn’t close with an ending like “I’ll bet even Gollum might exclaim ‘Better than Precious!’”

(17) MEET JOE GREEN. The FANAC FanHistory Zoom Joseph L. Green Interview is now available to watch on YouTube.

Title: Joseph L. Green – An Interview conducted by Edie Stern

YouTube Description: Joe Green’s interest in science fiction began in the 1940s, before he knew there was even a name for this kind of literature. His introduction to science fiction fandom came in the early 1950s, and  first published fiction in the 1960s. Add to that his long career in the military and civilian space programs, and you have a trajectory that is the envy of a many a science fiction reader.

In this fascinating interview, Joe Green talks about his life and career, and his views on science fiction and fandom after more than 70 years in the SF community.  With a professional career spanning more than 60 years, (his last published work was in 2023),  in this discussion Joe starts with his introduction to fandom, and his early fanzine contributions, his first professional sales and the struggle to balance fandom, professional writing and a growing family.  

With a decades long career revolving around space, he tells anecdotes ranging from the Cuban missile crisis of the 60s to one of his most important accomplishments – editor and principal writer of the NASA report on the Challenger disaster. Here  he talks about that difficult but necessary work….Starting in the days of the manned Apollo launches, the Greens hosted spectacular and now legendary launch parties. Joe couldn’t help but share his joy at one of the finest achievements of mankind. In this session, there are great anecdotes about well-known writers and fans, including Poul Anderson, Sam Moskowitz, Arthur C. Clarke and A.E. Van Vogt, and Joe’s unorthodox  advice about getting entrée to NASA launches. It’s a delight to hear, and makes you wish you had been there.

One story we didn’t get to was what happened when Joe Green heard filk music for the first time. Joe was delighted, especially with the space-oriented pieces, and not too long after he heard the “Minus Ten and Counting” recording,  one of those songs was played as the wake-up music for the astronauts in space.

Many thanks to Joe’s daughter, Rose-Marie Lillian for her technical support, enabling Joe to participate in the Zoom. 

(18) TURNING TWENTY ON MARS. From an National Air and Space Museum email:

20 years ago this month, Mars Exploration Rovers Spirit and Opportunity landed on the Martian surface, on opposite sides of the Red Planet. Soon after, the twin rovers, boasting a level of mobility that far surpassed the 1997 Mars Pathfinder rover Sojourner, embarked on their respective journeys. Spirit was sent to the floor of a 90-mile-wide crater named Gusev and Opportunity was sent to Meridiani Planum, a smooth area near the Martian equator.

Spirit and Opportunity

With identical sets of science instruments onboard, Spirit and Opportunity conducted comprehensive geological surveys and atmospheric analyses. Both rovers were able to find compelling evidence of the Red Planet’s ancient environments, revealing a past where conditions were intermittently wet and potentially capable of supporting life.

Panoramic view (consisting of hundreds of images stitched together) of the Martian surface. The images were captured by Spirit with the rover’s deck visible.

Both rovers exceeded their initial 90-day mission durations by a significant margin. Spirit traveled five miles on the Martian surface and sent its last message to Earth on March 22, 2010, after operating for over six years. Opportunity covered a total of 28 miles and holds the record as the longest-serving rover on Mars, having conducted over 14 years of exploration before it sent its last signal on June 10, 2018. Together the duo sent over 340,000 images back to Earth.

Mars Exploration Rover Surface System Test Bed (middle) was used on Earth to troubleshoot problems that Spirit and Opportunity encountered on Mars. It is on display next to Sojourner’s flight spare Marie Curie and a Curiosity model in the “Kenneth C. Griffin Exploring the Planets Gallery” at the Museum in DC.

The twin rovers’ landings on Mars also marks 20 years of continuous rover exploration of the Red Planet, with rovers Curiosity and Perseverance currently active on Mars and continuing on the legacy of Spirit and Opportunity.

(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. I haven’t viewed it because my hearing is awful and there’s no closed captioning, but no reason you should deprive yourself: “The Litigation Disaster Tourism Hour: World Contastrophe, Trademark Edition” on Twitch.TV.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Daniel Dern, Danny Sichel, Francis Hamit, Trey Palmer, 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 Andrew (not Werdna).]

Pixel Scroll 1/18/24 Mission Of Impossible Gravity

(1) LETTERS FROM THE EDITOR. C. E. Murphy shares her views about what kind of revision request letters work best: “Process Post: on edit letters” at The Essential Kit.

There was a discussion going on over on Bluesky about dealing with edit letters, and this truth came up: “Editors aren’t always right about the solutions, but they’re nearly always right about the problems.”

That thread went on to discuss how the person quoting it, who happens to be KJ Charles whose books I read all of last year and who is also an editor, approaches edit letters; her approach involves suggesting ideas to fix the problems, because it opens the writer’s mind to the possiblity that the book could have something different happen in that moment, and also it gives them something to reject/bounce off/spitefully correct. Which, like: that seems very valid.

That said, I have recently watched friends get SUPER LONG, to my mind, edit letters, 70%+ of which are ideas & suggestions as how to tackle problems, and I honestly think my brain would explode. My editors have VERY MUCH been of the “this is a problem, pls fix” approach, rather than the “let us brainstorm!” approach, and I think that works for me….

(2) NONSENSE OF TASTE. Camestros Felapton shared a couple of riotous sci-fi themed brew labels in “Thursday’s Sunday Beer”. I won’t steal his thunder – click the link to discover his selections — only thank him for introducing us to New Zealand’s Behemoth Brewing Company where literally dozens more comical labels can be viewed, including tap badges like these:

(3) SEATTLE 2025 STATEMENT ABOUT REGISTRATION. Seattle 2025 Worldcon chair Kathy Bond today made the following statement about their registration software, and a delay in the ability to upgrade to attending membership for Seattle Worldcon bid supporters and site selection voters:

Due to a last-minute change in our registration software, our ability to process registrations and upgrades to attending memberships for site selection voters and bid supporters has been delayed past our originally projected date. We apologize for the delay. Please be assured we will honor our initial registration rates for at least two weeks after we are able to make our registration system go live. 

Thank you for your patience as we iron out the bugs.

(4) BRITISH LIBRARY CONVENES ONLINE PANEL ABOUT LE GUIN. On January 23, join Theo Downes Le Guin, Ursula’s son and literary executor; Julie Phillips, her biographer, and writer Nicola Griffiths (shortlisted for the 2023 Ursula K. Le Guin Prize for Fiction) for an evening of appreciation and exploration: The British Library Cultural Events – “The Realms of Ursula K. Le Guin Tickets”.

  • Event: 7:00 pm UK/11:00 am Pacific
  • Tickets are £6.50, or £3.25 for Library members

This is an online event streamed on the British Library platform. Bookers will be sent a viewing link shortly before the event and will be able to watch at any time for 48 hours after the start time.

(5) THESE REBOOTS ARE MADE FOR WALKING. [Item by Cat Eldridge.] This could be good, it could be decidedly not. “’The Avengers’ Reboot Coming; ‘Industry’ Writers Pen StudioCanal Pilot” at Deadline.

There were rumors that the project was in with HBO, but this was denied last year. It is not clear where The Avengers reboot will land. StudioCanal declined to comment as talks continue….

Macnee starred as Steed, who fought off diabolical plots against the state with his trademark bowler hat and umbrella. He had a succession of high-fashion assistants played by the likes of Diana Rigg and Honor Blackman. They broke ground for being Steed’s equal, holding their own in brawls and delivering playful quips….

Steed’s first partner wasn’t a woman at all but medical doctor David H Keel as the series  spun out of Police Surgeon where Keel played the same character who asked Steed to help on a case. It would feel like a uniquely different series than the later series as the tone, Steed’s personality and stories are markedly more grounded. 

Nightclub singer Venus Smith played by Julie Stevens was next, just six episodes in duration. Now we have Cathy Gale played by Honor Blackman, an anthropologist. Of course we finally got the extraordinary Emma Peel as played by Diana Rigg, described as a “talented amateur agent”.  

Linda Thorson ended the series as Tara King. An actual spy, enlisted at an early age in the Intelligence Service as a trainee, under the number 69. Would I kid about that? No, I would not. 

So how do you reboot a beloved classic of British television? Personally I don’t think you can. 

So before you ask, I prefer not to mention that film.

(6) CLIMATE ACTION ALMANAC. The Center for Science and the Imagination at Arizona State University has launched The Climate Action Almanac, a free collection of fiction, nonfiction, and art exploring positive climate futures, grounded in real science and in the complexities of diverse human and physical geographies. The book is presented in partnership with the MIT Press and supported by the ClimateWorks Foundation.

The Almanac features 8 individual works of science fiction, with four authors contributing two stories apiece: Vandana Singh, Gu Shi, Hannah Onoguwe, and Libia Brenda. Overall, the collection features contributions from more than 25 writers representing 17 different countries around the globe, from Argentina, Norway, and China to Nigeria, Germany, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, and more. On the science fiction front, there is also a dialogue between Kim Stanley Robinson and Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

(7) NOT OK IN OK. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] A certain Oklahoma state legislator might want to take advantage of any mental health benefits available in his medical plan. Representative Justin Humphrey apparently has a possibly-unhealthy obsession with Furries. Or, perhaps specifically, with the urban myth that Furries are being provided litter boxes by school systems. According to HuffPost, “An Oklahoma Republican Wants Animal Services To Remove Furries From Schools”.

A Republican legislator in Oklahoma who once said that transgender people have “a mental illness” introduced a bill this week that would allow animal services to remove students who identify as furries from school.

The bill, which was pre-filed ahead of Oklahoma’s legislative session, would bar students who “purport to be an imaginary animal or animal species, or who engage in anthropomorphic behavior commonly referred to as furries,” from school activities.

The legislation, sponsored by Republican state Rep. Justin Humphrey, may seem farcical. But the idea that schools accommodate students who identify as animals has its roots in a long-standing — and repeatedly debunked — conservative myth.

Republican legislators and candidates have for years claimed that schools are putting litter boxes in classrooms for students who identify as cats or furries. At least 20 GOP politicians peddled these claims in 2022, and used them as a way to sound the alarm over protections and accommodations for LGBTQ+ students, NBC News reported.

“What’s most provocative about this hoax is how it turns to two key wedge issues for conservatives: educational accommodations and gender nonconformity,” Joan Donovan, a researcher on media and politics at Harvard University, told the outlet at the time…

(8) GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN. Rich Horton sadly reports that “Bad Things Come in Threes: Terry Bisson (February 12, 1942 – January 10, 2024), Howard Waldrop (September 15, 1946 – January 14, 2024), Tom Purdom (April 19, 1936 – January 14, 2024): A Tripartite Obituary” in an obituary notice for Black Gate.

On the heels of Terry Bisson’s death I heard news that Howard Waldrop had died. And this morning I woke up to learn that Tom Purdom had also died. A profound 1-2 punch to the SF community, followed by a knockout. Bisson and Waldrop were two of the most original, indeed weirdest, SF writers; and if Purdom wasn’t as downright weird as those two he was as intriguing in his slightly more traditional fashion. All three writers wrote novels, but it’s fair to say they are all best known for their short fiction….

(9) PURDOM TRIBUTE. Michael Swanwick also salutes the late author in “Tom Purdom, Heart of Philadelphia” at Flogging Babel.

This is very hard for me to write. So please excuse its infelicities. I knew this man for a full fifty years.

Tom Purdom is dead. Not enough people will know what a loss this is. While he was as vivid and eccentric an individual as any of the rest of us, he absolutely refused to promote himself. I think he believed it was ungentlemanly. But those who knew him, cherished him.

Tom was the very heart of Philadelphia science fiction long before I came to town in 1974. He and his socially elegant wife Sara Purdom had monthly open houses where all the SF community was welcome–even rowdies like Gardner Dozois and myself. They two served as role models for Marianne and me. 

His gatherings were as glittery events as our crew ever saw. I recall Milton Rothman discussing the physics of nuclear-powered aircraft, and I most vividly remember Jack McKnight (who machined the first Hugo trophies in  his garage) pretending to steal our then-infant son Sean at one of these soirees….

(10) PETER SCHICKELE (1935-2024). The composer also known as “P.D.Q. Bach”, Peter Schickele, died January 16 at the age of 88.

Schickele won the Grammy Award for Best Comedy Album four years in a row from 1990-1994. He also won in 2000 for Best Classical Crossover album. Once, he included in a concert program book an airsickness bag, labeled “For Use In Case of Cultural Discomfort.”

His catalogue of more than 100 works includes the score for Silent Running (1972).

He hosted the radio show “Schickele Mix” for Public Radio International. In 168 episodes, produced between 1992 and 1999, he explored the elements, concepts and techniques that make music work, illustrated with classical, jazz and rock recordings, proclaiming in his introductions that “all musics are created equal.”

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born January 18, 1953 Pamela Dean, 71. So we come this Scroll to Pamela Dean, one of the writers I consider without equivocation to be one of the best fantasy writers ever. 

She’s a member of two writing groups, of which the first was the Scribblies, with Nate Bucklin, Steven Brust, Emma Bull, Kara Dalkey,Will Shetterly and Patricia Wrede.

Then there was Pre-Joycean Fellowship. Love that name!  It was a shared belief that was more or lesser seriously adopted by several writers to indicate that they value 19th-century values of storytelling. Steven Brust wrote that “it is in large part a joke, and in another large part a way to start literary arguments.” 

Pamela Dean

Writers who are members include Steven Brust, Emma Bull, Kara Dalkey, Pamela Dean, Neil Gaiman, Will Shetterly, Adam Stemple and Jane Yolen. No idea when the Pre-Joycean Fellowship meet up for tea and biscuits, but they must, right? 

Warning: this is my list of favorites, not a comprehensive overview though it comes close. 

Tam Lin, based of course on that Child ballad, and set in the early Seventies at the fictional Blackstock College in Minnesota is just brilliant. It was nominated for a Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature. It’s certainly my favorite book by her. 

Another Child Ballad, “Riddles Wisely Expounded”, is the root text of her novel, Juniper, Gentian, and Rosemary. I relish a story with a house that shouldn’t exist and a character who speaks in riddles. Quite delicious indeed.

And for my reading pleasure, the final set of works by her is The Secret Country trilogy consisting of The Secret CountryThe Hidden Land and The Whim of the Dragon. A Royal family in considerable turmoil, witches, unicorns — what’s not to like? Really it’s superb storytelling at its best. 

She’s written but thirteen short stories and a poem, six of which and the poem were published in the Laivek tales that were edited by Emma Bull and Will Shetterley who created that franchise. Yes, I’ve read the Laivek tales and they are really great fantasy. Hers are among the best here. (The one here was co-written with Patricia C. Wrede.)

All of the novels I like are now available from the usual suspects. Oh and what I thought but now know having just checked the usual sources was a single Laivek story with Wrede is actually multiple stories as it’s available here as Points of Departure: Liavek Stories, all three hundred sixty-four pages of it! 

I’m very glad to see these nine Laivek stories getting published like this, and I’m hoping more Laivek writers do the same. 

(12) COMICS SECTION.

(13) WATCH ON THE RHINE. The Governator ran afoul of German customs inspectors says the Guardian: “Arnold Schwarzenegger held at Munich airport over luxury watch”.

Arnold Schwarzenegger was briefly held by customs officers at Munich airport on Wednesday after allegedly failing to declare a €26,000 (£22,000) Audemars Piguet watch the Terminator star was planning to sell at an auction in aid of his climate crisis charity.

The Austrian-born actor and former governor of California, 76, was stopped at the airport for about three hours upon arrival from Los Angeles, according to the German tabloid Bild, which quoted customs officials.

Schwarzenegger was taken aside by officers who searched his luggage and found the watch, which the actor had allegedly not declared on his arrivals customs form….

A spokesperson for the main customs office in Munich said: “We have initiated criminal tax proceedings. The watch should have been registered because it is an import.”

(14) OCTOTHORPE. In episode 101 of the Octothorpe podcast “John Has Developed Precognitive Abilities”.

Alison Scott, John Coxon and Liz Batty get the year started off correctly. We give listeners a round-up of forthcoming conventions (mostly in the UK), give Keanu Reeves a frank talking-to, and discuss some hot new SF.

(15) UP AGAINST THE PRIZE WALL. This project is not being marketed as horror for some inexplicable reason: “Chuck E. Cheese Television Series Based on Restaurant Chain Now in Development” at Yahoo!

Chuck E. Cheese reality television series is now in development.

Per The Hollywood Reporter, Magical Elves, a production company that’s worked on shows such as Top Chef and Project Runway, is now developing a reality television series based on the Chuck E. Cheese restaurant chain.

The description of the series reads, “The format will feature stand-alone comedic physical challenges where duos of ‘big kids’ (a.k.a. adults) will compete over supersized arcade games — including pinball, air hockey, alley roller, and the human claw.  The top ticket-earning duo will get the chance to exchange their tickets for prizes off the massive version of the iconic Chuck E. Cheese prize wall.”…

(16) IT’S A GAS! Futurism reports “Astronomers Puzzled by Galaxy With No Stars”.

Astronomers have accidentally found an entire galaxy that appears to have plenty of gas — but no visible stars to speak of.

Their findings, which were presented this week at the annual meeting of the American Astronomy Society, may seem paradoxical on their face, but the discovery could provide a rare, possibly never-before-seen insight that challenges our understanding of how stars and galaxies are formed….

… The eerily empty object, called J0613+52, is located 270 million light years away, according to a Big Think writeup on the discovery, and at the very least appears to be a low-surface brightness galaxy (LSB).

As the name suggests, an LSB is significantly less bright than other glimmering objects that populate the night sky because the gasses it contains are so spread out that few stars are formed.

Still, this classification holds that such a galaxy would at least have some stars, and J0613+52, with seemingly none at all, could be something even more rare and elusive: a dark, primordial galaxy.

“This could be our first discovery of a nearby galaxy made up of primordial gas,” Karen O’Neil, a senior scientist of the Green Bank Observatory, said in a statement about the research….

(17) BARBIE’S DREAM HOUSE. Neil DeGrasse Tyson geo-locates Barbieland using visual details in the movie in this clip from The Late Show with Stephen Colbert as adapted by @EnigmaWorldOfficial.

(18) YOU’RE LOCKED INSIDE WITH ME. Isn’t that what Rorschach said was the inmates’ problem? There’s good reason to call this “The Creeptastic ‘Abigail’ Trailer”. The film arrives in theaters on April 19.

Children can be such monsters!. You just can’t ‘dance’ around the subject. If you need convincing, check out Radio Silence’s first trailer for the horror film ‘Abigail,’ featuring a very, very creepy kid. After a group of would-be criminals kidnap the 12-year-old ballerina daughter of a powerful underworld figure, all they have to do to collect a $50 million ransom is watch the girl overnight. In an isolated mansion, the captors start to dwindle, one by one, as they discover that they’re locked inside with no normal little girl.

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

Pixel Scroll 9/23/23 I Can’t Scroll, Don’t Ask Me, My Heart Won’t Let My Pixel Do Things It Shouldn’t Do

(1) WRITERS STRIKE REPORTEDLY NEARS END. CNN reports“WGA strike: Writers Guild and Hollywood studios in ‘final phase’ of negotiations”.

The striking writers and Hollywood studios are in the “final phase” of negotiations and hope to strike a deal to end the historic work stoppage that has paralyzed the entertainment industry by the end of the weekend, two people familiar with the matter told CNN.

The Writers Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers spent Saturday negotiating for the fourth consecutive day.

The big four studio bosses — Warner Bros. Discovery chief David Zaslav, Disney chief Bob Iger, Netflix co-chief Ted Sarandos, and NBCUniversal studio chairman Donna Langley — were no longer in the Sherman Oaks room by Saturday afternoon, one person said, signaling nearly all the major issues had been resolved. The person stressed, while not directly in the room, the studio chiefs remained wholly engaged in the process….

(2) INCIDENTS AND ACCIDENTS, HINTS AND ALLEGATIONS. “New Doctor Who 60th Anniversary Teaser Hints at Return of Rose Tyler & Twelfth Doctor” at CBR.com.

As Doctor Who‘s 60th anniversary draws closer, the BBC has started to post even more promotional images on social media ahead of the specials’ release, and the latest teaser may be a clue that both Rose Tyler and the Twelfth Doctor are coming back….

… On Sept. 17, the official X (formerly Twitter) account for Doctor Who shared a cryptic image that featured the Doctor’s TARDIS at the end of a long and narrow corridor. The walls are covered with posters hung by employers who are looking to hire workers for their businesses, and one poster clearly reads Henrik’s, the very department store chain Rose Tyler works at in the New Who’s first episode “Rose.” Fans are now saying that this Easter egg could easily mean that Piper will be returning to Doctor Who after all, at least for a cameo appearance in the anniversary episodes….

Another poster, situated right above the Henrik’s one, contains a reference to Glasgow, which some Doctor Who fans are ready to take in as an indication that Capaldi is coming back as well….

… Neither Capaldi nor Piper are confirmed to be part of the cast for Doctor Who‘s 60th-anniversary specials yet, but viewers believe that these Easter eggs offer strong evidence that they will be making cameo appearances. The show is known to be very careful and selective with the promo images and other teasers shared publicly, so there’s definitely hope that the former stars, who were both in Doctor Who‘s 50th-anniversary episode in 2013, will be making fans happy this November once more….

(3) DOCTOR WHO CLIP. And here’s a trailer for the “Doctor Who 60th Anniversary Specials”.

Destiny isn’t done with them just yet… The Doctor and Donna return for three special episodes

(4) LONGTIME PULP COLLECTOR. Joe Kloc introduces readers to Gary Lovisi in “The Golden Fleece” at Harper’s Magazine.

…Gary, I learned, was Gary Lovisi, a retired postal worker living in South Brooklyn who, since 1986, has edited and self-published more than one hundred issues of Paperback Parade, a near-quarterly journal in which he interviews midcentury noir and sci-fi writers, revisits the “girl-fight covers” of the “sleaze era,” and eulogizes longtime pulp book dealers as they pass on. I got Gary’s number through Gryphon Books, the publishing house through which he put out three issues last year, though he stopped updating its website nearly a decade ago….

… He went on to explain: they were talking about the first issue of Golden Fleece Historical Adventure, a pulp magazine created by Sun Publications in Chicago in 1938. Apart from its two stories by Robert E. Howard, the creator of Conan the Barbarian, and its two covers by Margaret Brundage, an early master of the damsel-in-distress motif, it is an unremarkable periodical that folded after nine issues. It’s possible that Gary would not have given it a second glance if not for the circumstances under which they came across it: “It was maybe twenty years ago,” he began.

He and Lucille were at a flea market in Brimfield, Massachusetts, when swirling black rain clouds gathered overhead. The storm broke, and they ducked under a tent in which a man was selling items recovered from a house fire. Gary noticed a pile of burnt books on a folding table and started digging through them. He brushed one off, revealing the first issue of Golden Fleece Historical Adventure. Somehow, it had survived the fire unharmed, the only book to do so. He showed it to the vendor, who couldn’t make sense of it. Gary paid the man five dollars and drove back to Gerritsen Beach. He placed the book on a shelf in the basement and forgot about it for a decade. Then, in the fall of 2012, Hurricane Sandy made landfall. The water rose, filling subway tunnels, submerging thousands of vehicles, and killing more than one hundred people. Gary and Lucille’s basement flooded to the ceiling. Tens of thousands of their books were destroyed. Days later, as a city sanitation worker was hauling the remains of the waterlogged collection out to a garbage truck, Gary noticed that two books had swelled and fused together. He pulled the paperbacks apart to discover, wedged between them, in pristine condition, his Golden Fleece.

“It’s invincible,” said Gary….

(5) BANNED BOOKS WEEKS CHAIR. “LeVar Burton to Lead 2023 Banned Books Week as Honorary Chair”.

LeVar Burton

Beloved reading advocate, writer, and television and film star LeVar Burton will lead this year’s Banned Books Week, which takes place October 1–7, 2023.  Burton is the first actor to serve as honorary chair of Banned Books Week, an annual weeklong event that highlights the value of free and open access to information and brings together the entire book community in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas.

Recognizable for his groundbreaking roles in the landmark television series Roots and the Star Trek franchise, Burton’s work as a literacy advocate has inspired generations. Many in the book community can trace their love of reading and advocacy for the right to read to Burton’s treasured PBS children’s series Reading Rainbow. Burton has continued to inspire readers with the enormously popular LeVar Burton Reads podcast. A long-time champion for reading and access to books, Burton executive produced The Right to Read. This award-winning 2023 documentary film positions the literacy crisis in America as a civil rights issue. 

“Books bring us together. They teach us about the world and each other. The ability to read and access books is a fundamental right and a necessity for life-long success,” says Burton. “But books are under attack. They’re being removed from libraries and schools. Shelves have been emptied because of a small number of people and their misguided efforts toward censorship. Public advocacy campaigns like Banned Books Week are essential to helping people understand the scope of book censorship and what they can do to fight it. I’m honored to lead Banned Books Week 2023.”

Burton will headline a live virtual conversation with Banned Books Week Youth Honorary Chair Da’Taeveyon Daniels about censorship and advocacy at 8:00 p.m. ET on Wednesday, October 4. The event will stream live on Instagram (@banned_books_week). Visit BannedBooksWeek.org for more details….

(6) THEY, THE JURY. Niall Harrison touts the Sturgeon Award shortlist as the place to look for the best short sff. “The Year’s Best Is Dead, Long Live the Year’s Best: On the 2023 Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award Finalists” at LA Review of Books.

…We might, then, turn our attention to awards, of which there is still an abundance. The invaluable Science Fiction Awards Database tracks the short lists and results of over 100 different awards, and a few dozen include short fiction categories. Through their short lists, they provide a kind of crowdsourced year’s best survey, not least because most of them are decided by some form of popular vote. This includes probably the two best-known SF awards—the Nebulas, which are voted on each year by members of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers Association (SFWA), and the Hugos, which are voted on by members of that year’s World Science Fiction Convention—and is one reason why, historically, it has been so useful to have both awards and anthologies.

Popular votes and editorial selection have different strengths and weaknesses, and one particular weakness of popular votes has become more noticeable in recent years. There has always been a degree of overlap between the Hugo and Nebula nominees, but in an era of more short stories than any one person can reasonably read, there is an incentive to read the stories that are most easily accessible and that other people are already talking about, leading to reinforcing cycles of attention. As a result, it is now the norm for at least half of the short fiction nominees for these two awards to be the same, and for them to come from a relatively small group of online magazines—and even allowing for Sturgeon’s sometimes-useful generalization, in a healthy ecosystem, you’d like more differentiation than that.

All of this is a long way around to justifying the ostensible subject of this essay: now is a particularly good time to pay more attention to the short story awards that are casting a broader net than the Hugos and the Nebulas themselves, and one that I find consistently interesting is the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award. …

(7) MASTER BALLARD. Tom McCarthy justifies the distinction in his article “J. G. Ballard’s Brilliant, Not ‘Good’ Writing” in The Paris Review.

Putting Ballard on a master’s course list, as I’ve done a couple of times, provokes a reaction that’s both funny and illuminating. Asked to read Crash or The Atrocity Exhibition, the more vociferous students invariably express their revulsion, while the more reflective ones voice their frustration that, although the ideas might be compelling, the prose “isn’t good.” This is especially the case with students who’ve been exposed to creative writing classes: they complain that the books are so full of repetition they become machinic or monotonous; also that they lack solid, integrated characters with whom they can identify, instead endlessly breaking open any given plot or mise-en-scène to other external or even unconnected scenes, contexts, and histories, resulting in a kind of schizoid narrative space that’s full of everyone and no one.

This second group, of course, is absolutely right in its analysis; what’s funny (and, if I can teach them anything, reversible) about their judgment is that it is these very elements (repetition, machinism, schizoid hypermnesia) that make Ballard’s work so brilliant. Not only are his rhythmic cycles, in which phrases and images return in orders and arrangements that mutate and reconfigure themselves as though following some algorithm that remains beyond our grasp, at once incantatory, hallucinatory, and the very model and essence of poetry; but, mirroring the way that information, advertising, propaganda, public (and private) dialogue, and even consciousness itself run in reiterative loops and circuits, constitute a realism far exceeding that of the misnamed literary genre. If his personae are split, multiplied, dispersed, this is because they are true subjects of a networked and fragmented hypermodernity—ones for whom identification, if it is to amount to anything more than a consoling fiction, must come through man’s recognition of himself (as Georges Bataille put it) not in the degrading chains of logic but instead, with rage and ecstatic torment, in the virulence of his own phantasms….

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 23, 1908 Wilmar House Shiras. Her story “In Hiding” was submitted in 1948 to Astounding Science Fiction, where it was published. She published two sequels in the magazine: “Opening Doors”, and “New Foundations”. The three stories would become the first three chapters in the novel, Children of the Atom. Other than a handful of short fiction, I think it’s her only work. (Died 1990.)
  • Born September 23, 1920 Richard Wilson. Not a writer of much genre fiction at all. His really major contribution to fandom and to Syracuse University where he worked as the director of the Syracuse University News Bureau was in successfully recruiting the donation of papers from many prominent science fiction writers to the Syracuse University’s George Arents Research Library.  The list of those writers includes Piers Anthony, Hal Clement, Keith Laumer, Larry Niven and Frederik Pohl. And, of course, himself. It has been called the “most important collection of science fiction manuscripts and papers in the world.” (Died 1987.)
  • Born September 23, 1928 John S Glasby.English writer who wrote a truly amazing amount of pulp fiction of both a SF and fantasy under quite a few pen names that included  John Adams, R. L. Bowers, Berl Cameron, Max Chartair, Randall Conway, Ray Cosmic, John Crawford, J. B. Dexter, John Glasby, J. S. Glasby, Michael Hamilton, J. J. Hansby, Marston Johns, Victor La Salle, Peter Laynham, H. K. Lennard, Paul Lorraine, John C. Maxwell, A. J. Merak, H. J. Merak, R. J. Merak, John Morton, John E. Muller, Rand Le Page, J. L. Powers and Karl Zeigfried. It is thought but not confirmed that he produced more than three hundred novels and a lot of short stories in a twenty year period that started in the early Fifties. (Died 2011.)
  • Born September 23, 1948 Leslie Kay Swigart, 75. Obsessions can be fascinating and hers was detailing the writings of Harlan Ellison. Between 1975 and 1991, she published Harlan Ellison: A Bibliographical Checklist plus wrote shorter works such as “Harlan Ellison: An F&SF Checklist“, “Harlan Ellison: A Nonfiction Checklist” and “Harlan Ellison: A Book and Fiction Checklist”. Her George R. R. Martin: A RRetrospective Fiction Checklist can be found in the Dreamsongs: GRRM: A RRetrospective collection.
  • Born September 23, 1959 Frank Cottrell-Boyce, 64. Definitely not here for his sequels to Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang. (Horrors!) He is here for such writing endeavors as Goodbye Christopher Robin, his Doctor Who stories, “In the Forest of the Night” and “Smile”, both Twelfth Doctor affairs, and the animated Captain Star series in which he voiced Captain Jim Star. The series sounds like the absolute antithesis of classic Trek
  • Born September 23, 1956 Peter David, 67. Did you know that his first assignment for the Philadelphia Bulletin was covering Discon II? I’m reasonably sure the first thing I read by him was Legions of Fire, Book: The Long Night of Centauri Prime but he’s also done a number of comics I’ve read including runs of Captain Marvel , Wolverine and Young Justice.
  • Born September 23, 1967 Justine Larbalestier, 56. Writer, Editor, and Critic. An Australian author of fiction whose novels have won Andre Norton, Carl Brandon, and Aurealis Awards, she is probably best known for her comprehensive scholarly work The Battle of the Sexes in Science Fiction which was nominated for a Hugo at Torcon 3. Her Daughters of Earth: Feminist Science Fiction in the Twentieth Century, an anthology of SFF stories and critical essays by women, won The William Atheling Jr. Award.

(9) SMOFCON RATES TO RISE. SMOFcon 40, taking place December 1-3 in Providence, RI, is raising its membership rates on September 30. Register now and save.

Current rates are:

Attending $60

First Smofcon (never attended Smofcon in person) $40

Young Adult (Under 33 Years Old / Born After 1 December 1990) $40

Unwaged / Retired / Hardship $40

Virtual/Online $35

Family/Con Suite Only $30

On October 1 the attending rate will rise to $70 and the Virtual/Online membership will rise to $40. All other rates will remain the same. The new rates are good through November 27, when the Attending membership will rise again to at-the-door pricing.

Smofcon 40 also has published a Covid policy at the link. Short version: masks required in program space, recommended but optional in hospitality space. Up-to-date vaccines are recommended but not required. Corsi-Rosenthal boxes will be used to filter air in all spaces.

(10) OVERTHROWN. “Neil DeGrasse Tyson Claims ‘Armageddon’ Has Been Dethroned As Film Violating Most Laws Of Physics”Deadline names the new “champion”.

Armageddon‘s quarter-century reign as the Hollywood movie running afoul of the most physics laws is over. Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson made the revelation during an interview on SiriusXM’s The Jess Cagle Show to promote his new book, To Infinity and Beyond, highlighting glaring scientific inaccuracies in another space film, the 2022 Moonfall starring Halle Berry.

Armageddon, you say, violates more laws of physics per minute than any other film ever made,” Cagle began.

DeGrasse Tyson agreed, adding, “That’s what I thought until I saw Moonfall. It was a pandemic film that came out, you know, Halle Berry, and the moon is approaching Earth, and they learned that it’s hollow and there’s a moon being made out of rocks living inside of it and the Apollo missions were really to visit, to feed the moon being, and I just couldn’t, so I said, “Alright, I thought Armageddon had a secure hold on this crown, but apparently not.”…

(11) NCIS AT 20. Compiled entirely from quotes by showrunners and producers (none of the actors), this oral history will still be of interest to those who like NCIS: “NCIS Oral History: CBS Show Team Talks Mark Harmon, Pauley Perrette” in The Hollywood Reporter.

(12) CARBON IN EUROPA MOON OCEAN. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] All these worlds are yours, except Europa. Attempt no landing there. Use them together. Use them in peace.

Two research teams have independently used the James Webb Space Telescope to look at Jupiter’s moon, Europa.

In this week’s Science journal, one team reports that carbon dioxide seems to have been transported from the ocean beneath the moon’s ice crust. The second team’s observations seem to corroborate this.  Both papers together have caused some in the media to speculate what this means for there being alien life in Europa’s ocean. With Earth.com saying, for instance, that “Alien life on Jupiter’s moon Europa just became a very likely scenario”.

(13) SHBOOM! “Video Shows Rare Bright Fireball on Jupiter, From Amateur Astronomer” at Business Insider.

Jupiter takes a lot of hits for the rest of the solar system, and new footage shows one of the biggest astronomers have ever seen.

About 14 seconds into the video below, you can see a bright flash appear in Jupiter’s southern hemisphere. The flash is from an impact — likely an asteroid or comet slamming into the planet. The video was captured by amateur astronomer Tadao Ohsugi, in Japan, in August. It’s a rare sight….

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, Rick Kovalcik, Tammy Coxen, Steven French, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, and Chris Barkley for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Elisa.]

Pixel Scroll 5/9/23 Professor, I Observed Your Encounter With The Pixel Scroll. Today It Is You Who Learned The Power Of The File. Tomorrow It Will Be The Whole World!

(1) GRRM ON STRIKE. George R.R. Martin has written two persuasive and informative posts about the WGA strike for Not A Blog which are excerpted here.

In the waning hours of May 1, the Writers Guild of America declared a strike.   The action began on May 2.   There are pickets in front of every studio lot and sound stage in LA, and many in other cities as well.   Get used to them.  I expect they will be there for a long time.

I am not in LA, so I cannot walk a picket line as I did in 1988, but I want to go on the record with my full and complete and unequivocal support of my Guild….

(Many of you will be wondering, rightfully, about the impact of the strike on my own shows.   The second season of DARK WINDS wrapped several months ago.   Post production has been completed on five of the six episodes, and will soon be done on the last.   The show will likely air sometime this summer on AMC.   No decision on the third season will be made until after the strike.   Peacock has passed on WILD CARDS, alas.   A pity.   We will try to place it elsewhere, but not until the strike is over.   The writer’s room on A KNIGHT OF THE SEVEN KINGDOMS: THE HEDGE KNIGHT has closed for the duration.   Ira Parker and his incredible staff of young talents are on the picket lines.   Across the ocean, the second season of HOUSE OF THE DRAGON started filming April 11 and will continue in London and Wales.   The scripts for the eight s2 episodes were all finished months ago, long before the strike began,  Every episode has gone through four or five drafts and numerous rounds of revisions, to address HBO notes, my notes, budget concerns, etc.   There will be no further revisions.   The writers have done their jobs; the rest is in the hands of the directors, cast and crew… and of course the dragons)….

I want to say a few words about what I think is THE most important issue in the current writers’ strike: the so-called “mini rooms” that the Guild is hoping to abolish, and the terrible impact they are having on writers at the start of their careers.

A look at my own career may be instructive.   For the first fourteen years of my career, I wrote only prose; a few novels, and lots of stories for ANALOG, ASIMOV’S, and various other SF magazines and anthologies.   Much as I enjoyed television, I never dreamt of writing for it until 1985, when CBS decided to launch a new version of THE TWLIGHT ZONE, and executive producer Phil DeGuere invited me to write an episode for them.   A freelance script; that was how you began back then.   I decided to give it a shot… and Phil and his team liked what I did.   So much so that within days of delivery, I got an offer to come on staff.   Before I quite knew what had happened, I was on my way to LA with a six-week deal as a Staff Writer, at the Guild minimum salary, scripts against.   (In the 80s, Staff Writer was the lowest rung on the ladder.   You could tell, because it was the only job with “writer” in the title).

…There is no film school in the world that could have taught me as much about television production as I learned on TWILIGHT ZONE during that season and a half.  When TZ was renewed for a second season, I was promoted from Staff Writer to Story Editor.  (More money, and now scripts were plus and not against).   Started sitting in on freelance pitches… and now I was allowed to talk and give notes.   Sadly, the show was cancelled halfway through the second season, but by that time I had learned so much that I was able to go on to further work in television.   I did a couple stories for MAX HEADROOM, but my next staff job was BEAUTY AND THE BEAST.   They brought me on as Executive Story Editor, one bump up from my TZ rank.   Over the next three years, I climbed the ladder, rung by rung:  Co-Producer, Producer, Co-Supervising Producer, Supervising Producer, Co-Executive Producer.   When B&B finished its run, I started writing features and pitching pilots, landed an overall deal at Columbia, created and scripted STARPORT and THE SURVIVORS and FADEOUT… and DOORWAYS, which we filmed for ABC.   I was Showrunner (along with Jim Crocker) and Executive Producer on that one.

That was my first  ten years in television;  1985-1995, more or less, long before HBO and GAME OF THRONES.

NONE OF IT would have been possible, if not for the things I learned on TWILIGHT ZONE as a Staff Writer and Story Editor.   I was the most junior of junior writers, maybe a hot(ish) young writer in the world of SF, but in TV I was so green that I would have been invisible against a green screen.   And that, in my opinion, is the most important of the things that the Guild is fighting for.  The right to have that kind of career path.   To enable new writers, young writers, and yes, prose writers, to climb the same ladder.

Right now, they can’t.   Streamers and shortened seasons have blown the ladder to splinters….  

(2) PULITZER PRIZE. The Pulitzer Prize winners were announced yesterday. Nothing I recognized as being of genre interest. The complete list is at Publishers Weekly: “’Demon Copperhead,’ ‘Trust,’ ‘His Name Is George Floyd’ Among 2023 Pulitzer Prize Winners”. (In case you wonder, Kingsolver’s Demon Copperhead borrows its narrative structure from the Charles Dickens novel David Copperfield, and the blurb doesn’t indicate there is anything supernatural in the story.)

(3) THINKING IS NOT HIS STRENGTH. “Kevin Sorbo’s Bonkers Take On Assault Weapons Gets Instant Fact-Check On Twitter” at HuffPost Entertainment. “The star of the 1990s‘Hercules’TV series hears it from his critics.”

Actor Kevin Sorbo tried a new approach in defending assault weapons amid a wave of mass shootings: They don’t exist.

The star of TV’s “Hercules” in the 1990s but who now focuses on Christian films and right-wing conspiracy theories wrote on Twitter:

Sorbo’s tweet came one day after a gunman killed eight people and wounded seven others at an outlet mall in Texas, and as a recent wave of mass shootings is leading to renewed calls for increased gun control….

(4) HOME ON THE MARTIAN RANGE. “To Live on Mars, Human Architecture Has to Combine Science and Sci-Fi” and Inverse presents a gallery of ideas for doing so.

…In the late 1990s, American architect Constance Adams worked with NASA to design TransHab, a large-scale inflatable spacecraft that would have increased the crew’s living space. While there are many advantages to using lightweight inflatable habitats, Adams once noted that before her creation, the biggest challenges facing space inflatable tech were strength, safety, and their need for a firm structure to maintain the form. With a soft inflatable shell, hard inner structural core, and three roomy levels, TransHab was the first hybrid structure that could be used for a pre-deployable Mars habitat. Although NASA did create a prototype, the project never received the funding it needed to get off the ground….

(5) SPEED READING. The New York Times says “A Faster Delivery for Fans of Manga” is on the horizon.

VIZ Media, a publisher devoted to manga and anime, on Tuesday will begin offering translated chapters of popular manga to audiences in North America on the same day they are released in Japan.

The simultaneous publication of titles through the company’s VIZ Manga app is part of an effort to get manga more quickly into the hands of fans at a time of booming readership, the company said. And it may also help fight pervasive piracy.

“In the last few years, manga became so much bigger,” said Ken Sasaki, the chief executive of VIZ Media, which is based in San Francisco and is a subsidiary of the Japanese publisher Hitotsubashi Group. “I think readers are finally aware that there are so many other genres.”

Manga sales hit $550 million in 2021, said Milton Griepp, the chief executive of ICv2, an ​​online pop culture trade publication, last year at New York Comic Con. Sales jumped 9 percent in 2022, ICv2 reported in March….

(6) MEMORY LANE.

1991[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

So Mike is picking our Beginnings (for the most part) and I get the great delight of doing the research and writing them up. (Yes, they are written from my viewpoint. How else would I write them up?) His Beginning this Scroll is Nancy Kress’ “Beggars in Spain” novella. (Not the novel of the same name.)

It was published by Axolotl Press thirty-two years ago with a cover illustration by George Barr. 

It won a Hugo at MagiCon as well as Asimov’s Readers, Nebula and SF Chronicle Awards while being nominated for HOMer and Locus awards. The expanded novel that came out under the same title won no Awards.

And now our Beginning…

They sat stiffly on his antique Eames chairs, two people who didn’t want to be here, or one person who didn’t want to and one who resented the other’s reluctance. Dr. Ong had seen this before. Within two minutes he was sure: the woman was the silently furious resister. She would lose. The man would pay for it later, in little ways, for a long time.

“I presume you’ve performed the necessary credit checks already,” Roger Camden said pleasantly, “so let’s get right on to details, shall we, Doctor?”

“Certainly,” Ong said. “Why don’t we start by your telling me all the genetic modifications you’re interested in for the baby.”

The woman shifted suddenly on her chair. She was in her late twenties—clearly a second wife—but already had a faded look, as if keeping up with Roger Camden was wearing her out. Ong could easily believe that. Mrs. Camden’s hair was brown, her eyes were brown, her skin had a brown tinge that might have been pretty if her cheeks had had any color. She wore a brown coat, neither fashionable nor cheap, and shoes that looked vaguely orthopedic. Ong glanced at his records for her name: Elizabeth. He would bet people forgot it often. 

Next to her, Roger Camden radiated nervous vitality, a man in late middle age whose bullet-shaped head did not match his careful haircut and Italian-silk business suit. Ong did not need to consult his file to recall anything about Camden. A caricature of the bullet-shaped head had been the leading graphic for yesterday’s online edition of the Wall Street Journal: Camden had led a major coup in cross-border data-atoll investment. Ong was not sure what cross-border data-atoll investment was. “A girl,” Elizabeth Camden said. Ong hadn’t expected her to speak first. Her voice was another surprise: upper-class British. “Blonde. Green eyes. Tall. Slender.”

“A girl,” Elizabeth Camden said. Ong hadn’t expected her to speak first. Her voice was another surprise: upper-class British. “Blonde. Green eyes. Tall. Slender.” 

Ong smiled. “Appearance factors are the easiest to achieve, as I’m sure you already know. But all we can do about slenderness is give her a genetic disposition in that direction. How you feed the child will naturally—”

 “Yes, yes,” Roger Camden said, “that’s obvious. Now: intelligence. High intelligence. And a sense of daring.”

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born May 9, 1860 J. M. Barrie. Author of Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up, which I’ve read a number of times. Of the movie versions, I like Steven Spielberg’s Hook the best. The worst use of the character, well of Wendy to be exact, is in Lost Girls, the sexually explicit graphic novel by Alan Moore (bad script) and Melinda Gebbie (even worse art). If you’ve not read it, don’t bother. If you really must know more about it, here is the Green Man review. (Died 1937.)
  • Born May 9, 1913 Richard McKenna. His short story “The Secret Place” was a Hugo nominee and won the Nebula.  “Casey Agonistes” (short story) and “Hunter, Come Home” (novelette) are in many anthologies; “Casey” has been translated into French, German, Italian; “Hunter” into French, German, Italian, Romanian; “Secret” into Dutch, German, Italian, Polish.  Cover artist for Volume 3 of the NESFA Press Essential Hal Clement (Variations on a Theme by Sir Isaac Newton).  Best known outside our field for The Sand Pebbles which I’ve read and must say is rather excellent. (Died 1964.)
  • Born May 9, 1920 William Tenn. Clute says in ESF that “From the first, Tenn was one of the genre’s very few genuinely comic, genuinely incisive writers of short fiction, sharper and more mature than Fredric Brown and less self-indulgent in his Satirical take on the modern world than Robert Sheckley.” That pretty sums him up I think.  All of his fiction is collected in two volumes from NESFA Press, Immodest Proposals: The Complete Science Fiction of William Tenn: Volume I and Here Comes Civilization: The Complete Science Fiction of William Tenn: Volume II. He’s very, very well stocked at the usual suspects. (Died 2010.)
  • Born May 9, 1925 Kris Neville. His most well-remembered work, the “Bettyann” novella, is a classic of science fiction. It would become part of the Bettyann novel, a fix-up of it and “Overture“, a short story of his. He wrote a lot of rather great short fiction, much of which can be in the posthumous The Science Fiction of Kris Neville, edited by Barry N. Malzberg (who greatly admired him) and Martin H. Greenberg, and more (some overlapping with the first collection) Earth Alert! and Other Science Fiction Tales. He’s not alas widely available at the usual suspects. (Died 1980.)
  • Born May 9, 1926 Richard Cowper. The White Bird of Kinship series is what he’s best remembered for and I’d certainly recommend it as being worth reading.  It appears that all of them are available from the usual digital suspects. (Died 2002.)
  • Born May 9, 1929 Richard  Adams. I really loved Watership Down when I read it long ago — will not read it again so the Suck Fairy may not visit it. Reasonably sure I’ve read Shardik once but it made no impression one way or the other.  Heard good things about Tales from Watership Down and should add it my TBR pile. (Died 2016.)
  • Born May 9, 1951 Geoff Ryman, 72. His first novel, The Unconquered Country, was winner of the World Fantasy Award and British Science Fiction Association Award. I’m really intrigued that The King’s Last Song is set during the Angkor Wat era and the time after Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge, grim times indeed for an SF novel. And let’s not overlook that The Child Garden which bears the variant title of The Child Garden or A Low Comedy would win the Arthur C. Clarke Award for Best SF Novel. 

(8) COMICS SECTION.

  • Eek! shows Count Dracula was scarred by childhood.
  • Get Fuzzy’s absurd pet humor cannot easily be explained, but I laughed anyway.
  • Lio’s elementary school is named for a good friend of Ray Bradbury’s.

(9) JEOPARDY! [Item by David Goldfarb.] After a little bit of a drought, today’s episode had a number of SFF-related clues.

In the single Jeopardy round:

Yeet! for $600: In “2001” this computer yeets Frank Poole off into space but still has Dave to contend with

Returning champion Hannah Wilson knew HAL 9000.

Yeet! for $1000: In Greek myth, after he was born lame, his mom yeeted him out of heaven, but he returned & made Hermes’ winged helmet

Juveria Zaheer tried, “What is Vulcan?” but this Roman equivalent was not accepted. Sami Casanova got the money with “Who is Hephaestus?”.

Children’s Lit for $1000: Though he comes from another world, not from France, this diminutive guy appeared on the 50-franc note for many years

This was a Daily Double for Sami and she correctly responded with “The Little Prince”.

In the double Jeopardy round:

Futility for $2000: Harry Potter might have a better chance of turning metals to gold using this medieval substance from alchemy, also called the tincture

A triple stumper: they were looking for the Philosopher’s Stone. Perhaps people in England might have had a better chance with this one.

What Kind of TV Place Do You Live In? for $2000: Commander Sheridan & the gang on “Babylon 5” (an inaccurate question! Sheridan had the rank of captain. It was season 1’s Sinclair who was a commander.)

Hannah tried: “What is a spaceship?”. Mayim Bialik prompted on that, “More specific?”, which surprised me — I would have just called that wrong. After the prompt, Hannah went to “What is a space station?” and was counted right.

Futility for $400: Always armed with the catchphrase no one in the “Star Trek” world wanted to hear, the Borg let it be known that this “is futile”

Juveria responded, “What is resistance?”

(11) DON’T LOOK UP? [Item by Mike Kennedy.] A New Jersey homeowner, and his family, returned to find something had broken into the house. Yep, something, not someone. An apparent meteorite had crashed through the roof, broken through an upper floor bedroom ceiling, banged off the floor, and hit the ceiling again before coming to a stop. “Possible meteorite strikes New Jersey home, officials say” at CNN.

What could be a meteorite struck a home in Hopewell Township, New Jersey, authorities said Monday. The metallic object crashed through the roof of a house and ricocheted around a bedroom. No one was in the bedroom at the time of the incident, and no injuries were reported.

Police are still working to determine the precise nature of the object, though officials suspect it is related to the current meteor shower, called the Eta Aquariids, according to statement from the Hopewell Township Police Department in New Jersey.

The Eta Aquariid meteor shower is an annual phenomenon in which debris from the famous Halley’s Comet rains down into Earth’s atmosphere. The celestial event was expected to peak this past Saturday, according to American Meteor Society predictions, though it will last through May 27.

“I did touch the thing because I just thought it was a random rock,” Suzy Kop, a local resident who said the rock fell through the roof of her father’s bedroom, told CNN affiliate KYW-TV in Philadelphia. “And it was warm.”

“I just thank God that my father was not here. No one was here,” she added. “You know, we weren’t hurt or anything.”…

(12) RECOMMENDATIONS FROM THE PUBLIC DOMAIN. At Open Culture, “Neil deGrasse Tyson Lists 8 (Free) Books Every Intelligent Person Should Read”. This is a 2011 post, however, it’s not like these books will have been superseded since then – the most recent title is Darwin’s On the Origin of Species.

A Reddit.com user posed the question to Neil deGrasse Tyson: “Which books should be read by every single intelligent person on the planet?”

Below, you will find the book list offered up by the astrophysicist, director of the Hayden Planetarium, and popularizer of science….

(13) CAN YOU BELIEVE IT? [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] I found out what all the commotion was about [why the library was closed] — it was Charles (the artist formerly known as Prince) being coronated the next day. Sadly my invite to the abbey appeared to have got lost in the post.  That’s the Royal Mail for you….

(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Honest Trailers seeks the truth about “The Mandalorian Season 3”. But it’s not easy to find!

…After parting ways with baby Yoda in season two Disney took one look at the toy sales and said, um, no. No. It may not be super clear why they’re still together. Make up your mind whether he’s an actual baby or just a baby they’re forcing to be a Child!

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

Pixel Scroll 4/20/22 “Sorry We’re Late, Kate,” The Sweet Birds Sang

(1) FROM THE LIFE OF JMS. J. Michael Straczynski has released an unlocked Patreon post of a chapter he cut from his autobiography: “Chapter Cut from Bio: The Great Bible Battle”. Here’s his introduction:

As noted elsewhere, I cut a good chunk of material from my autobiography Becoming Superman because there was just too much stuff for one book and I didn’t want to do this in two volumes.  It was already almost too long.  

This is actually one of the better, and in part most heartfelt chapters in the whole book, but it was also one that could be cut without damaging the structure of the book because it was for all intents and purposes unconnected from what came before and what followed.  It also marks one the first times that something I’d done earned me death threats (yes, there were others).  

So I present this to you, good patrons, seen here for the first time anywhere, ever.

(2) AWARD RETURNING. Submissions are being taken for the 2022 IAFA Imagining Indigenous Futurisms Award through December 1, 2022.

The IAFA Imagining Indigenous Futurisms Award recognizes emerging authors who use science fiction to address issues of Indigenous sovereignty and self-determination.

(3) AWARD FLAMBEAU. Serge Ecker’s video takes you inside the foundry to witness the “Making of the European Science Fiction Award 2022 – LuxCon, the 2022 EuroCon”. Molten metal and flames aplenty.

(4) LOVE IS BLUE. Somtow Sucharitkul is creating “Terrestrial Passions: a Regency Romance with Aliens” on Kindle Vella. The wry titles of the first four installments set the tone — “A Most Peculiar Frenchman”, “Universally Acknowledged”, “Dissuasion”, and “Incense and Insensibility”.

The widowed Mrs. Dorrit lives a marginal existence with her brother, a vicar, and twin daughters in a cottage on the estate of her wealthy cousin, Lord Chuzzlewit, in the West London village of Little Chiswick. As the season dawns and a rakish Earl takes up residence in the once-abandoned Flanders House nearby, their lives, and the marital prospects of Emma’s daughters, become immeasurably complicated when a starship lands in her apple orchard. By World Fantasy Award winning author S.P. Somtow

Where did this art come from? Somtow says, “Hilarious cover created for my Vella Serial by an Austrian designer on Fiverr.” No name given.

(5) VERTLIEB HONORED. Steve Vertlieb shared today that he has been honored “for his dedication and tireless activity to keep Miklos Rozsa’s memory alive,” by the Hungarian Hollywood Council. Congratulations, Steve!

(6) HOW KENTUCKY LEGISLATION WILL AFFECT LIBRARIES. “New Kentucky Law Hands Control of Libraries to Local Politicians” reports Publishers Weekly.

In a move that has alarmed library supporters, a new law in Kentucky will give politicians control over local library boards in the state. According to a report in the Lexington Herald Leader, SB 167—which came back from the dead last week with a dramatic veto override—will empower local politicians to “appoint whomever they want to library boards and block major library spending.”

Last week, the bill appeared to be killed after Kentucky governor Andy Beshear vetoed it, and the Kentucky House of Representatives fell short of the necessary votes to override. But in a surprise maneuver, supporters of the bill were able to revive the bill for another override vote—and this time, four representatives who had not voted in the previous effort voted to override Beshear’s veto, carrying the measure into law. The law is scheduled to take effect in January 2023.

According to the Lexington Herald Leader, Kentucky Republicans say the issue is “accountability,” pointing out that most of Kentucky’s public library boards can levy taxes and should therefore “answer to someone elected by voters.” But critics say the bill is in fact a thinly veiled effort to “politicize” library boards, and give unprecedented control over library operations to politicians….

(7) CAN IT BE THEY DON’T LOVE US? Lise Andreasen sends “A warm hug to everybody who feels physical pain at ‘it’s not science fiction’ and ‘it’s science fiction but’” in her roundup of critics’ slighting comments about the sff genre in “They Bellow… Dune edition”.

(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1955 [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.] Sixty-seven years ago, George Pal’s fourth genre film premiered. It was the Conquest of Space and it had two firsts, our first trip to Mars and our first space station, a marvel in itself. It was based off The Conquest of Space by Willy Ley and Chesley Bonestell. The former author has a crater on the far side of the moon named after him. Later in life he became a believer In cryptozoology. Ohhh well. (I’ve actually met Loren Coleman, the prime proponent of that fake science. Don’t get me started on that subject.) 

Ley and Bonestell would win an International Fantasy Award for the book. Bonestell would be recognized with Special Award for Beautiful and Scientifically Accurate Illustrations at DisCon II (1974). He later won a Hugo for Best Related Work for The Art of Chesley Bonestell at ConJosé (2002). He’d also pick up a Retro Hugo at Noreascon 4 (2004) for Best Professional Artist. 

(Pal had hired Bonestall to the technical adviser on Destination Moon buthe bought the book’s film rights at the urging of Ley.) 

The screenplay was by James O’Hanlon from an adaptation by Barre Lyndon, Phil Yordan and George Worthing Yates. O’Hanlon had done the Destination Moon screenplay which won a Retro Hugo at the Millennium Philcon.

It was directed by Byron Haskin who is best remembered for directing The War of the Worlds, one of many films where he teamed with producer George Pal. Bonestell who is known for his photorealistic paintings of outer space, provided the film’s space matte paintings.

So what did critics think about when it was released? 

The Variety said of it that, “When Byron Haskin’s direction has a chance at action and thrills they come over well, but most of the time the pacing is slowed by the talky script fashioned from the adaptation of the Chesley Bonestell-Willy Ley book by Philip Yordan, Barre Lyndon and George Worthington Yates.”

The New York Times likewise liked it: “THERE is very little doubt about who should receive a generous amount of credit and praise for ‘Conquest of Space,’ yesterday’s science-fiction entry at the Palace. They are the special effects artists, John P. Fulton, Irmin Roberts, Paul Lerpae, Ivyle Burks and Jan Domela. In telling the fanciful tale of man’s first trip to Mars, they created top-flight effects such as ‘the wheel,’ a self-contained station orbiting about earth, rocket flights in space and a horrendous near-collision with an asteroid. These facets of the Paramount production—and fortunately they are many and frequent—are much to marvel at. But then there is a story. As plots go in this type of unearthly entertainment—and it is nothing more than broad, undemanding entertainment—it is not offensive.”

Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes do not like it at all giving at just a twenty percent rating. Damned if I know why this is so. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born April 20, 1908 Donald Wandrei. Writer who had sixteen stories in Astounding Stories and fourteen stories in Weird Tales, plus a smattering elsewhere, all in the Twenties and Thirties. The Web of Easter Island is his only novel. He was the co-founder with August Derleth of Arkham House. He received the World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement, and he’s a member of First Fandom Hall of Fame. Only his “Raiders of The Universe“ short story and his story in Famous Fantastic Mysteries (October 1939 issue) are available at the usual digital suspects. (Died 1987.)
  • Born April 20, 1937 George Takei, 85. Hikaru Sulu on the original Trek. And yes, I know that Vonda McIntyre wouldn’t coin the first name until a decade later in her Entropy Effect novel. Is it canon? Post-Trek, he would write Mirror Friend, Mirror Foe with Robert Asprin. By the way, I’m reasonably sure that his first genre roles were actually dubbing the English voices of Professor Kashiwagi of Rodan! The Flying Monster and the same of the Commander of Landing Craft of Godzilla Raids Again.  Oh, and it won’t surprise you he played Sulu again in the fan fic video Star Trek: Phase II episode, “World Enough and Time.”
  • Born April 20, 1939 Peter S. Beagle, 83. I’ve known him for about twenty years now I realize, met him but once in that time. He’s quite charming. (I had dinner with him here once several years back. His former agent is not so charming.)  My favorite works? A Fine and Private PlaceThe Folk of The AirTamsinSummerlong and In Calabria. He won the Novelette Hugo at L.A. Con IV for “Two Hearts”. And he has the World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement. He is working on a new novel now I’m told by his editor Deborah Grabien, another friend of mine.
  • Born April 20, 1949 Jessica Lange, 73. Her very first role was Dwan in the remake of King Kong. Later genre roles are Sandra Bloom Sr. in Big Fish, Katherine Pierson in Neverwas, and the amazing run of Constance Langdon / Elsa Mars / Fiona Goode / Sister Jude Martin in American Horror Story
  • Born April 20, 1949 John Ostrander, 73. Writer of comic books, including GrimjackSuicide Squad and Star Wars: Legacy. Well those are the titles he most frequently gets noted for but I’ll add in The SpectreMartian Manhunter and the late Eighties Manhunter as well. His run on the Suicide Squad is available on the DC Universe app as is his absolutely amazing work on The Spectre.
  • Born April 20, 1951 Louise Jameson, 71. Leela of the Sevateem, companion to the Fourth Doctor. Appeared in nine stories of which my favorite was “The Talons of Weng Chiang” which I reviewed over at Green Man. She segued from Dr. Who to The Omega Factor where she was in the regular cast as Dr. Anne Reynolds. These appear to her only meaningful genre roles. And she like so many Who performers has reprised her role for Big Finish. 
  • Born April 20, 1964 Sean A. Moore. He wrote three Conan pastiches, Conan the Hunter, Conan and the Grim Grey God and Conan and the Shaman’s Curse. He also wrote the screenplay for Kull the Conqueror, and the novelization of it. All were published by Tor. He was active in Colorado fandom. He died in car crash in Boulder. (Died 1998.)
  • Born April 20, 1964 Andy Serkis, 58. I will freely admit that the list of characters that he has helped create is amazing: Gollum in The Lord of the Rings films and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, King Kong in that film, Caesar in the Planet of the Apes reboot series, Captain Haddock / Sir Francis Haddock in The Adventures of Tintin (great film that was), and even Supreme Leader Snoke in The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi. Last year, he portrayed the character of Baloo in his self-directed film, Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle. His readings of The Hobbit and The Lord of The Rings are truly amazing as well. 

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Bizarro reports a shocking defection from a well-known superhero team.

(11) PANTHER CHOW. In the Washington Post, Emily Heil interviews Nyanyika Banda, author of The Official Wakanda Cookbook, who explains how they tried to come up with a cuisine that wasn’t just pan-African but actually might have recipes that would come from that imaginary country. “Wakanda cookbook brings Black Panther food lore to life”.

The fictional worlds spun in many TV shows, movies and video games can feel as real and as meaningful to fans as places with actual Zip codes. Think of Hogwarts, the magic-filled, honey-lit boarding school in the world of Harry Potter books and movies; the faraway galaxy of “Star Wars”; or even the lovably quirky small town of Stars Hollow in “Gilmore Girls.”

Wakanda, the wealthy, technologically advanced, mountain-ringed land of the “Black Panther” comics and blockbuster 2018 movie, though, occupies an even more rarefied role. It’s not just the setting for the action in a beloved franchise; it has become a symbol of African greatness, a mythical place that feels like an actual homeland to many people, and not just to comics geeks with posters of King T’Challa on their bedroom walls.

This week, the mythical country is seeing its culture expand with “The Official Wakanda Cookbook,” a collection of recipes sanctioned by “Black Panther” publisher Marvel….

… Aside from the challenges posed by satisfying an avid fan base and respecting a cultural touchstone, Banda faced another, more practical task. Often, a cookbook author writing about a region of the world is concerned about staying true to the dishes, the ingredients, the people and the history of the land. But what does it mean to be faithful to something that doesn’t actually exist?…

(12) JEOPARDY! Andrew Porter was tuned into Monday night’s episode of Jeopardy! and watched as contestants drew blanks on several items about the fantasy genre:

Category: Fantasy Fiction

Answer: In George R.R. Martin’s saga of Westeros, this blustery & bloody volume follows “A Game of Thrones” & “A Clash of Kings”

No one could ask, What is “A Storm of Swords?”

***

Answer: Set in ancient China, “A Hero Born” by Jin Yong takes place in a world where this martial art is practiced magically.

Wrong question What is Karate?

Right question: What is Kung-Fu?

***

Answer: Victor LaValle’s “The Changeling” tells the tale of a human baby switched at birth with one of these Nordic creatures.

No one could ask, What is  troll?

(13) FUTURE IS NOW FOR SJW CREDENTIALS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Washington Post, Maria Luisa Paul discusses  ViaGen Pets, which will clone your dead cat for $25,000.  But while the clone may look like the original cat, it won’t have the personality of the original feline. “A woman cloned her pet after it died. But it’s not a copycat.”

… When the beloved 5-year-old cat died in 2017, there was nothing her owner, Kelly Anderson, could do — or so she thought.

Chai’s body had not yet turned cold when Anderson remembered a conversation with her roommate about the Texas-based ViaGen Pets, one of just a few companies worldwide that clones pets. The next morning, she called them.

Some $25,000 and five years later, Anderson — a 32-year-old dog trainer from Austin — has a 6-month-old carbon copy of Chai curled up in her lap. Belle is nearly identical to Chai, down to her deep-blue eyes and fluffy white coat. The two cats share a couple of quirks, like sleeping with their bodies stretched out against Anderson’s back. But that’s where the similarities end, Anderson said….

(14) PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER. What could be more wholesome? Mecha Builders is coming from the makers of Sesame Street.

Catch a sneak peek of an all-new series from Sesame Street in this official Mecha Builders Trailer! Together Elmo, Cookie Monster, and Abby are the Mecha Builders! The Mecha Builders are always ready to save the day, and while they may not get it right the first time, they won’t give up until they do! There’s no problem too big or too small for this super team to solve … all before snack time. New series coming to Cartoonito! Watch on Cartoon Network May 9th and stream the next day on HBO Max!

(15) SUMMERTIME, AND THE CONCATENATING IS EASY. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] The SF² Concatenation summer* edition is now up, which is a few days later than usual so as to capture news announced over Easter. This edition has its full news page, articles and convention reports, including:  Film NewsTelevision News;  Publishing News;  General Science News  and  Forthcoming SF Books from major imprints for the season, among much else.  Plus there is a tranche of stand-alone book reviews.  Something for everyone.

* ‘Summer’ season here being the northern hemisphere, academic year summer.

v32(3) 2022.4.20 — New Columns & Articles for the Summer 2022

v32(2) 2022.4.20 — Science Fiction & Fantasy Book Reviews

v32(3) 2022.4.20 — Non-Fiction SF & Science Fact Book Reviews

(16) E.T. FAMILY REUNION. Dee Wallace played Drew Barrymore’s mom in the iconic film E.T. almost 40 years ago. They will be reuniting at the 40th Anniversary screening of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial on Opening Night of the: 2022 TCM Classic Festival. And Wallace got a head start by appearing on Drew’s TV show. Yahoo! has the story: “Drew Barrymore Reunites with E.T. Onscreen Mom Dee Wallace Ahead of Film’s 40th Anniversary”.

Drew Barrymore is taking fans on a trip down memory lane.

The Golden Globe winner, 47, reunited with Dee Wallace, who played her mother in 1982’s E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, as they reminisced about the film ahead of its 40th anniversary Monday on The Drew Barrymore Show.

“That was the first day on the set and I’m sitting in this really high director’s chair,” Wallace, 73, recalled of a photo of the two of them. “And Drew comes up to me and she says, ‘Hi, I’m going to sit on your lap now.’ And I said, ‘Well, come on up Drew.'”

“I mean, I knew you were going to be a director/producer back then,” she told Barrymore.

Barrymore raved about how “sexy” Wallace looked in the cheetah costume her character wore for the Halloween scene. “I still fit in it too,” Wallace proclaimed….

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Neil deGrasse Tyson was on Colbert last night to talk about his new book Welcome To The Universe In 3D. “Aliens May Have Been Watching Earth’s TV Shows For The Last 80 Years – Neil deGrasse Tyson”.

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

Pixel Scroll 1/12/22 Asking Only Filer’s Pixels, I Come Looking For A Scroll

(1) BIPOC WRITERS INVITED. Editor Jonathan Strahan is reserving up to three spots in his upcoming anthology The Book of Witches for new BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and other People of Colour) writers. “Open submission period for BIPOC* writers for The Book of Witches”. He will be taking submissions from March 14-18. Complete guidelines at the link.

Following on from the award-winning success of The Book of Dragons, Harper Voyager will publish an exciting new anthology, The Book of Witches, edited by Jonathan Strahan in the fall of 2023. Like The Book of DragonsThe Book of Witches will be a big, inclusive, illustrated anthology of fiction and poetry, this time looking at “witches”, more specifically your witch and what it means to you.

So far writers who have agreed to contribute to the book include Linda Addison, S.A. Chakraborty, Zen Cho, P. Djèlí Clark, Indrapramit Das, Amal El Mohtar, Andrea Hairston, Millie Ho, Nalo Hopkinson, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Cassandra Khaw, Fonda Lee, Darcie Little Badger, Ken Liu, Karen Lord, Usman T. Malik, Tochi Onyebuchi, C.L. Polk, Rebecca Roanhorse, Kelly Robson, Angela Slatter, Rivers Solomon, Andrea Stewart, Sheree Renée Thomas, and Tade Thompson, and we are reserving up to three spots in the final book for new BIPOC writers.

If you are a BIPOC writer – regardless of whether you’re widely published or just starting out – and would like to see your work appear in a major anthology like The Book of Witches, we’d love to hear from you. Just check out the submissions guidelines below and send us your story. 

(2) KEEP WATCHING THE SKIES. The American Museum of Natural History will livestream Neil deGrasse Tyson’s “Year in Review” on February 26. Purchase tickets at the link.

Find out what’s new in the cosmos as Tyson, the Frederick P. Rose Director of the Hayden Planetarium, reviews top stories from 2021, including notable commercial space launches, missions to Mars, visits to asteroids, and sky phenomena. 

This program will be presented online. Viewing information will be provided with your purchase confirmation. Only one ticket is needed per household.

(3) APPLY FOR SLF’S BOSE GRANT. The Speculative Literature Foundation is now accepting applications for the 2022 A.C. Bose Grant for South Asian Speculative Literature. Applications will be open through January 31. Complete guidelines are here.

The $1,000 A.C. Bose Grant for South Asian Speculative Literature, co-sponsored by the SLF and DesiLit, is awarded to a South Asian or South Asian diaspora writer developing speculative fiction.

The grant is named in memory of Ashim Chandra Bose, a lover of books, especially science fiction and fantasy, and was founded by his children, Rupa Bose and Gautam Bose.

(4) RELOADING THE CANON. Lois McMaster Bujold has updated her recommended reading order for her various series: “The Vorkosigan Saga Reading Order Debate: The Chef Recommends – Bujold reading-order guide 2022 update (chapter 2)” at Goodreads.

(5) NASA’S WEBB TELESCOPE LEADER PROFILED. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Washington Post, Courtland Milloy profiles James Webb Space Telescope program administrator Gregory Robinson, who is Black. His parents were tobacco sharecroppers and he began his student days in a segregated school, but after graduating from Virginia Union University and then from Howard University joined NASA in 1989 and worked his way up to his current position. Gregory Robinson, Webb telescope director, has had his own journey – The Washington Post

…“I often reflect on how dedicated, smart, encouraging and supportive they were during that time,” Robinson said of his teachers. “They’d tell us that we could do anything we wanted if we had an education. That appealed to me because I wanted to get out of Danville and have a better life.”

“I wanted to go to college but didn’t know if I could afford it,” he recalled. Fortunately, along with his knack for math, he’d been a pretty good high school quarterback. He earned himself a football scholarship to Virginia Union University in Richmond, packed two bags, and caught a Greyhound bus to the university.

At Virginia Union, he earned a bachelor’s degree in math. Then he transferred to Howard University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. He later earned an MBA from Averett College in Danville and attended Harvard University’s Senior Executive Fellows Program at the Kennedy School of Government.

While attending Howard, he met students who had done internships with NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. He was intrigued by what he heard. “They were doing really interesting things, unlocking many secrets, mysteries and unknowns about our solar system, our Earth systems,” he said….

(6) FROM AN OLD FAMILIAR SCORE. CBR calls these the “10 Most Overdone Sci-Fi Clichés”.

…However, the overabundance of certain clichés can be a tad tiresome, especially for fans of sci-fi. This is because the genre insists on recycling the same old symbols and allegories, over and over until all meaning is drained out of the story, leaving behind nothing more than a stale skeleton of something that used to be original at one point….

One of the offenders on their list:

7 Hacking Into Computers Is Easy Enough For Anyone

The process of hacking, particularly methods that rely on brute force, is long, slow, and painfully dull. Most people wouldn’t have the attention span to work out the countless algorithmic permutations required to break into secure computing systems, but sci-fi would have audiences believe that anyone can become a hacking professional.

Even scientist characters aren’t immune to this trope: in Independence Day (1995), they somehow write a virus and inject it into the alien’s computer, despite having no formal knowledge of extraterrestrial tech. Similarly, R2-D2 from Star Wars is capable of hacking practically any computing device with ease, even though his build is relatively ancient.

(7) MEMORY LANE.

1937 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Eighty-five years ago, the German adaptation of The Hound of Baskervilles, Der Hund von Baskerville, as directed by Carl Lamac premiered in Bavaria from the screenplay by Carla von Stackelberg. 

Two individuals are credited as playing Holmes, Bruno Güttner doing the physical work and Siegfried Schürenberg doing the voice. The latter dubbed most of Clark Gable’s films into German including Gone with the Wind. Fritz Odemar was Dr. Watson it was the ninth German film adaptation of this story with the first being in 1914. (There’s only been three such adaptations since then.) 

This was one of two films that was found in Adolf Hitler’s bunker by the Allies in 1945. The other film was Der Mann, der Sherlock Holmes war (The Man who was Sherlock Holmes), another Thirties film. 

If you’re interested, you can see it here with English subtitles.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 12, 1913 Marc Davis. He was one of Disney’s Nine Old Men who created some of Disney’s most-remembered animated cartoons from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs to The Rescuers in the Seventies. He worked on Snow White and the Seven DwarfsBambi, Cinderella, Peter Pan, Sleeping Beauty and A Hundred and One Dalmantians. (Died 2000.)
  • Born January 12, 1916 House Peters Jr. Though he’s best remembered as Mr. Clean in the Procter & Gamble commercials of the Fifties and Sixties, he did appear in a fair amount of SFF including Flash Gordon, Batman and RobinKing of the Rocket MenThe Day The Earth Stood StillRed Planet MarsTarget Earth and The Twilight Zone. Here’s one of the pre-animated Mr. Clean commercials. (Died 2008.)
  • Born January 12, 1937 Shirley Eaton, 85. Bond Girl Jill Masterson in Goldfinger, and yes, she got painted gold in it. She was not nude as is generally thought but was wearing a monokini. She also shows up as the title character in The Million Eyes of Sumuru, the Sax Rohmer based film we discussed last year. Her other significant role would be as Dr. Margaret E. ‘Maggie’ Hanford in Around the World Under the Sea. She retired from acting in the late Sixties. 
  • Born January 12, 1948 Tim Underwood, 74. Bibliographer with such works as Fantasy and Science Fiction by Jack Vance (done with Jack Miller), Shameless Art: Paintings of Dames, Dolls, Pin-ups, and Bad Girls (genre adjacent at the very least) and Stephen King Spills the Beans: Career-Spanning Interviews with America’s Bestselling Author.  
  • Born January 12, 1951 Kirstie Alley, 71. She’s here for being Saavik on Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, her very first film. It was, errr, interesting reading the various rumors why this was her only Trek film. Her SFF experience otherwise was brief limited to being the villain’s ex-girlfriend in Runaway, an uncredited handmaiden on Quark, and being in the Village of the Damned as Dr. Susan Verner.
  • Born January 12, 1952 Walter Mosley, 70. I have read his most excellent Ezekiel “Easy” Rawlins series but hadn’t  been aware that he wrote SF of which he has four novels to date, Blue LightFutureland: Nine Stories of an Imminent FutureThe Wave, and 47. There’s a Jack Kirby art book called Maximum Fantastic Four that was conceived of and orchestrated by him.  Interestingly enough, he’s got a writing credit for episode of Masters of Science Fiction called “Little Brother” where Stephen Hawking was the Host according to IMdB.
  • Born January 12, 1952 Rockne S. O’Bannon, 70. He’s the genius behind the rejuvenated Twilight ZoneAmazing Stories, the absolutely frelling fascinating Farscape, the could-have-been-great SeaQuest 2032, the Alien Nation series and Defiance.
  • Born January 12, 1980 Kameron Hurley, 42. Winner of a Best Related Work Hugo at London 3 for We Have Always Fought: Challenging the Women, Cattle and Slaves Narrative. Fiction wise, her most excellent God’s War won a BFA and a Kitschie, whereas her The Geek Feminist Revolution won her a BFA for non-fiction. Very impressive indeed. Oh, and she won a Hugo for Best Fan Writer at London 3 as well. Nice. 

(9) COMICS SECTION.

 (10) THINK AGAIN. In the Washington Post, David Betancourt says Andrew Garfield’s good work in Spider-Man: No Way Home should lead to a reassessment of his two Spider-Man movies, which Betancourt believes are underrated. “Andrew Garfield’s Spider-Man deserves redemption”.

…That is not to say Garfield’s Spider-Man never had believers. There are plenty of younger fans who were children when he was sticking to walls on the screen between 2012 and 2014 and who identify him as their Spider-Man. For many, however, Garfield’s Peter Parker was the Spider-Man that couldn’t. A Spider-Man who couldn’t beat the worldwide box office of his predecessor, Tobey Maguire. A Spider-Man who couldn’t make it to trilogy status. And worst of all, a Sony Spider-Man that couldn’t swing on his webs alongside the Avengers over at Marvel Studios because of legalities.

But our spidey-senses failed us. Now we know we were wrong about Garfield….

(11) A PREVIOUS PIXEL. Pat Cadigan is always supplying her Facebook readers with essential facts.

Robert Heinlein told me that one winter day, he and his wife were watching one of their cats go from door to door in their house. The cat would look at each door curiously, meow, and then move on to another door.

Heinlein said to his wife, “I wonder what he’s looking for.”

Virginia Heinlein replied, “He’s looking for the door into summer.”

Heinlein said, “Don’t say another word!”

He ran to his typewriter and finished a first draft of the novel within ten days.

Just because I know you couldn’t go a moment longer without knowing this. You’re welcome.

(12) LOOKALIKE COLLECTIBLE. Space Command showrunner Marc Scott Zicree tells “How I Saved Myself $300,000!” Before Marc gets to the main event he talks about some other Star Trek items.

…Then this could easily be an illustration from that but, no, this is an officially licensed product — the Star Trek Coloring Book. Spock has the wrong color uniforms so he’s a red shirt, so he should probably  get killed in this coloring book…

(13) SOLAR BUBBLE. Been having a “lonely, empty feeling” lately? “The Solar System Exists Inside a Giant, Mysterious Void, And We Finally Know Why”ScienceAlert has the story.

The Solar System floats in the middle of a peculiarly empty region of space.

This region of low-density, high-temperature plasma, about 1,000 light-years across, is surrounded by a shell of cooler, denser neutral gas and dust. It’s called the Local Bubble, and precisely how and why it came to exist, with the Solar System floating in the middle, has been a challenge to explain.

A team of astronomers led by the Harvard & Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) has now mapped the Local Bubble with the highest precision yet – and found that the Local Bubble was likely carved out of the interstellar medium by a series of supernova explosions millions of years ago.

(14) DEATH WILL NOT RELEASE YOU. Netflix previews a Korean series about zombies taking over a high school. “All of Us Are Dead”.  Gore warning.

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

Pixel Scroll 6/3/21 An Iron Pixel In A Velvet Scroll

(1) LAFFERTY FANS. LAFFCON, the annual celebration of science fiction author R. A. Lafferty, returns June 12, 2021. LAFFCON is a free event and open to the public. This year’s conference will be held online via Zoom. Register now.

(2) STORYBUNDLE. The 2021 Pride Bundle, curated by Catherine Lundoff and Melissa Scott, Includes our Heather Rose Jones’ 3rd Alpennia book. (Available for another 28 days.)

We’re back again with another queer-themed bundle for Pride — five books in the main bundle and a generous eleven in the bonus, for a total of sixteen if you spring for the bonus. As has become usual, we were spoiled for choice: there are just so many writers out there for whom intelligent, nuanced queer writing is their default mode. There is never an easy way to winnow things down to a manageable number.

For StoryBundle, you decide what price you want to pay. For $5 (or more, if you’re feeling generous), you’ll get the basic bundle of five books in any ebook format—WORLDWIDE.

  • No Man’s Land by A.J. Fitzwater
  • Silver Moon by Catherine Lundoff
  • Dropnauts by J. Scott Coatsworth
  • Burning Bright by Melissa Scott
  • Highfeil Grimoires by Langley Hyde

If you pay at least the bonus price of just $15, you get all five of the regular books, plus eleven more books! That’s a total of 16.

  • The Four Profound Weaves by R. B. Lemberg
  • Succulents and Spells by Andi C. Buchanan
  • City of a Thousand Feelings by Anya Johanna DeNiro
  • Mother of Souls by Heather Rose Jones
  • Blood Moon by Catherine Lundoff
  • Spellbinding by Cecilia Tan
  • Glitter + Ashes edited by Dave Ring
  • Queens of Noise by Leigh Harlen
  • Stone and Steel by Eboni Dunbar
  • Skythane by J. Scott Coatsworth
  • Stories to Sing in the Dark by Matthew Bright

(3) DERN’S LATEST PROFILE ABOUT AN EE WHO WRITES SFF. [Item by Daniel Dern.] I’ve been doing a bunch of these (monthly), including Bruce Schneier (who’s directly sfnal via his crypto algorithm and appendix for Neal Stephenson’s Cryptonomicon). My latest, just up a week or so ago, is on S. B. Divya: “S.B. Divya: How This EE Combines Engineering With Writing Some of the Best Sci-Fi Around”, IEEE Spectrum, (online) May 21, 2021 (online); page 19, June 2021 issue.

Engineers often find themselves in the role of turning ideas that used to be science fiction into reality. So it’s natural that some of them turn the flow of ideas in the other direction, and become authors of science fiction. One such engineer-turned-writer is Divya Srinivasan Breed, who writes her science fiction as S.B. Divya, and whose stories have been nominated for Hugo and Nebula awards.

“In my novella Runtime (2016), my main character was putting together exoskeletons, hacking firmware, people were embedding chips in their bodies…. And my novel Machinehood (2021) reflects my understanding of where we are today and where we are headed in terms of machine intelligence, and where some of the trouble spots are, socially, for labor, economics, humanity, and ethics,” says Divya. All the engineering aspects “were things I had studied or done at my jobs.” …

(4) WIDE WORLD OF SFF. The Best of World SF: Volume 1 is editor Lavie Tidhar’s “The Big Idea”, as he explains to Whatever readers today:

…I set out to do this book because I didn’t think anyone would do it for me. I hunted for stories far and wide—picking up horror collections in Malaysia, getting writer friends in China to send me rough translations, translating stories myself from Hebrew, begging and cajoling to find writers in Latin America, Africa, Eastern Europe… And I pitched the first Apex Book of World SF to Jason Sizemore in 2008, by telling him it wasn’t going to make him any money but it was a good thing to do.

Improbably, he agreed….

(5) REVIVING CURIOSITY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] David Marchese has an interview with Neil deGrasse Tyson in the April 24 New York Times Magazine.  Topics include how to get the public interested in science, how he got his points across when being interviewed by Colbert and Jon Stewart, and, if the footnotes come through in the web version, why the proportions of Elsa in Frozen are all wrong. “Neil deGrasse Tyson Thinks Science Can Reign Supreme Again”.

In your work, you often bring up wanting to inculcate in people a scientific mind-set, which is a way of thinking that would help navigate misinformation. But we don’t always recognize misinformation for what it is. So what questions should people be asking themselves when they encounter material that’s skeptical about mainstream science? 

Let me first offer a transition from your question: I’ve gotten simultaneously famous and infamous for commenting on Twitter  on films and whether they get their science correct.

If something lands awkwardly, I ask myself, Could they have done that better or differently? Then later I comment. My defense is, if you are watching a period piece that takes place in the 1950s in L.A., and there’s a 1962 Chevy Bel Air on the road, and the person you see the movie with is a car buff and says, “That car wasn’t made yet,” you say, “That’s pretty good that you noticed that.” Or if you’re watching a Jane Austen period piece: The carriage rolls up, and somebody is wearing a derby instead of a top hat. If you’re a costume designer, you would cry foul. Those people aren’t criticized for making those observations. Because I’m bringing science to that table, people reject it unfairly. Now getting back to your point: What’s behind all this? The missing link is curiosity. Without curiosity you’re no longer probing for what is true. If someone says, “I saw Bigfoot the other day,” there are people who say, “Yeah, that’s great!” And people who say, “No, you’re full of [expletive]” — both of those responses require no brain work. What is the brain work I would like to see more of? It’s: Tell me more. When did you see this? Where did you see it? Did you find other evidence? You start probing. It’s the absence of curiosity that concerns me.

(6) PAVED WITH GOOD INTENTIONS. James Davis Nicoll knows the one thing that ruins even the best-designed plans: “Would-Be Utopias: Five Books Featuring Arcologies and Domed Cities”.

Strength of Stones by Greg Bear (1981)

Rather than settle their new world willy-nilly, the hopefuls who migrated to the planet they dubbed God-Does-Battle decided to start with a clear vision made into manifest reality. They hired Robert Kahn, humanity’s greatest architect, to design perfect cities, which they then built. Utopia could only result!

To quote Sartre, “Hell is other people.” Utopias tend to fell apart as soon as humans are introduced. Kahn’s cities had a simple solution: They expelled all the humans, to survive or not, as fate decreed on, the surface of God-Does-Battle. The arcologies were now free to operate without human complications.

A thousand years later, Kahn’s creations are beginning to run down, which may give the starvelings outside a chance to reclaim their lost homes.

(7) YOU ARE THERE. Galactic Journey livetweeted today’s (in 1966) Gemini 9 mission — There’s a concept for you!

(8) LISTEN TO THIS. “APA Says Audiobook Sales Rose 12% in 2020”Publishers Weekly has the numbers.

The Audio Publishers Association’s annual review of the audiobook market found another year of double-digit sales increases as well as a profound shift in listening habits.

In 2019, 43% of listeners said they most often listened to audiobooks in their car, a percentage that fell to 30% last year when work-at-home orders kept people from commuting to the office. The percentage of people who took part in the APA survey who said home was their preferred listening spot jumped to 55% in 2020, from 43% in 2019.

Despite concerns early in the pandemic that the plunge in commuting would lead to a drop in sales, the APA found that sales from the 27 companies that report results to the APA sales survey increased 12%, to $1.3 billion. The sales gain is in keeping with data from the AAP, whose preliminary figures also show a double-digit increase in audiobook sales.

The consumer part of the survey found that 67% of audiobook consumers said that one of the reasons they enjoy listening to audiobooks is to reduce screen time….

(9) NOT JUST A BABBLING BROOK. Radio Times’ Tom Chapman declares that “Doctor Who’s River Song is the best companion of all time”.

Since the BBC relaunched Doctor Who in 2005, there’s been a colourful cast of fan-favourite companions that have joined the time-travelling Time Lord. From the early days of Rose Tyler through to Martha Jones, the Ponds, Yasmin Khan and all the rest, each has brought something different to the table.

However, all of the above pale in comparison to a certain River Song, aka the wife of the Doctor, who first debuted in the series to acclaim 13 years ago today. (Don’t get too attached though – Steven Moffat claims she’s been married 428 times.)

While naming River so definitively as the greatest companion of all time is sure to spark a debate hotter than the Satan Pit, she rightly earns her place at the top thanks to her flirty and fearsome attitude – and a few other qualities that have helped her unlock more than just the door to the TARDIS. Though before we get into all that, it’s time for a trip down memory lane…

(10) GRAB YOUR BRICKS. The first ever LEGO CON is happening online June 26.

(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • June 3, 1991 — On this date in 1991, The Guyver premiered in the United States. Directed by Screaming Mad George (really) and Steve Wang, it was produced by Brian Yuzna from the screenplay by John Woo Jr.  It starred Mark Hamill, Vivian Wu, David Gale, Linnea Quigley, Michael Berryman and many others. The critics really, really didn’t like it and audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a rating of just thirty-six percent. 

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born June 3, 1809 – Margaret Gatty.  Capable marine biologist; British Sea Weeds (1872) took 14 years, described 200 species, still used in the 1950s.  Also that year The Book of Sun-Dials, with 350; there’s a 2010 paperback reprint.  For us, founded and edited Aunt Judy’s Magazine with contributions by Lewis Carroll, Hans Christian Andersen, CaldecottCruikshank; books of parables and tales – Legendary Tales was illustrated by Phiz.  (Died 1873) [JH]
  • Born June 3, 1861 – Sophie Jewett.  Poet, translator; taught at Wellesley.  Rendered The Pearl in its original meter.  (Died 1909) [JH]
  • Born June 3, 1929 – Brian Lewis.  Ninety covers for New Worlds (here’s one), Science Fantasy (here’s one), Science Fiction Adventures (here’s one), for a few books, sometimes realistic, sometimes surrealistic; fifty interiors; also comics.  (Died 1978) [JH]
  • Born June 3, 1946 — Dame Penelope Alice Wilton DBE, 75. She played the recurring role of PM Harriet Jones in Doctor Who and became one of the most popular characters in it. She also played Homily in The Borrowers and The Return of the Borrowers as Shaun of the Dead as Barbara and The BFG as The Queen. (CE)
  • Born June 3, 1948 – Dale Payson, age 73.  Here is her cover for The Silver Crown.  Here is her frontispiece for The Sleepy Time Treasury.  Here is On Reading Palms.  Here is The Pop-Up Magic Castle Fairytale Book.  Outside our field, applauded for still-life and relatively-still  life paintings.  [JH]
  • Born June 3, 1950 — Melissa Mathison. Screenwriter for E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. Spielberg credits the line “E.T. phone home” line to her. (She’s Eliot’s school nurse in the film.) She also wrote the screenplays for The Indian in the Cupboard and BFG with the latter being dedicated in her memory. And she wrote the “Kick the Can” segment of Twilight Zone: The Movie. (Died 2015.) (CE) 
  • Born June 3, 1958 — Suzie Plakson, 63. She played four characters on Trek series: a Vulcan, Doctor Selar, in “The Schizoid Man” (Next Gen); the half-Klingon/half-human Ambassador K’Ehleyr in “The Emissary” and “Reunion” (Next Gen); the Lady Q in “The Q and the Grey” (Voyager); and an Andorian, Tarah, in “Cease Fire” (Enterprise).  She also voiced Amazonia in the “Amazon Women in the Mood” episode of Futurama. Really. Truly. (CE)
  • Born June 3, 1960 – Daniel Horne, age 61.  Ten dozen covers, twoscore interiors.  Here is the Jan 89 Amazing.  Here is Spectrum 9.  Here is the Winter 2016 Baum Bugle (that’s King Rinkitink, about whom much in this issue).  Here is Vincent Price as Edward Lionheart in Theater of Blood.  Here is Arcadia.  Outside our field, here is President Lincoln.  [JH]
  • Born June 3, 1964 — James Purefoy, 57. His most recent genre performance was in the recurring role of Laurens Bancroft in Altered Carbon. His most impressive role was I think as Solomon Kane in the film of that name. He was also in A Knight’s Tale as Edward, the Black Prince of Wales/Sir Thomas Colville. He dropped out of being V in V for Vendetta some six weeks into shooting but some early scenes of the masked V are of him. (CE)
  • Born June 3, 1992 – William Broom, age 29.  Half a dozen short stories, two in Aurealis, two in Beneath Ceaseless Skies.  Here is a note last year at Rocket Stack Rank.  [JH]

(13) COMICS SECTION.

  • Off the Mark shows why a certain Marvel superhero movie horrified this audience.
  • Rhymes with Orange shows what you might find in a used time machine.
  • Macanudo suggests a corporate symbol that might represent a particularly alluring vampire meal:

(14) SPACEDOG. “Owl! at the Library” is here to surprise us with the fact that One Hundred and One Dalmatians, the novel, has a sequel called The Starlight Barking. I haven’t read it yet and already there are tears in my eyes… Thread starts here.

(15) RED FLAGS. Here’s your opportunity to learn from a professional why he’s self-rejecting from these short fiction markets. Joe Vasicek “Navigating Woke SF, Part 2: When Is It Not Worth Submitting?”

“Woke” is a slang term describing a basket of socioeconomic and political ideologies that are incompatible with and antithetical to individual rights and liberties. Taken to their logical conclusion, they end in the sort of totalitarian horrors the world saw in the 20th century (and continues to see today in communist China)….

.. So now, with a working definition of “woke” (promoting ideologies incompatible with and antithetical to individual rights and liberties) and the determination that wokeness is toxic in any degree, how can I tell if a market has gone truly woke?

…So with that in mind, what are the red flags?

1) Has the market won any awards that have gone completely woke?

Specifically, I’m thinking here of the Hugo Awards. They were trending to the left for a very long time, but 2015 was the year that they specifically went woke by voting “no award” over several deserving authors and editors. The transformation was completed in 2017, when the new rules shut out the Sad and Rabid Puppies, and both of those movements died out.

Therefore, if a short story market has won a Hugo since 2015 or been nominated for a Hugo since 2017, I’m not going to bother submitting to them. And if a market has had stories that have won or been nominated for a Hugo in those years, I’m going to ignore the market as well, unless it appears to be a fluke or a one-off.

2) Does the market have an explicit diversity statement in their submission guidelines?

…Therefore, if a market has an explicit diversity statement that contains woke signaling language, it’s going on the blacklist. Even if the market only put out a diversity statement to keep the woke mob from descending upon them, that’s still a sure sign that they’ve bent the knee….

3) Does the market publish content that is explicitly woke?

Editors always say that the best way to know what they’re looking for is to read a couple of issues or listen to a couple of episodes or stories. That seems like a reasonable standard, so I see no reason why I shouldn’t hold them to it.

Do the editors ever go off on explicitly woke political rants, or try to explain the message of the story in woke ideological terms? Do the author bios read like a checklist of woke intersectional identities? Are the stories themselves often thinly veiled rants about woke issues? Again, it’s important to apply the benefit of the doubt here, but you can tell a lot about a market by what they choose to publish. I won’t be wasting my time with the markets that regularly publish any of those things….

Vasicek also predicts a backlash is coming “that will shock the people who are too deeply ensconced in their echo chambers.” (Before you read that you didn’t know that Joe thought echo chambers were a bad thing, did you?)

(16) VENUS IF YOU WILL. Some like it hot: “NASA picks Venus as hot spot for two new robotic missions”AP has the story.

The space agency’s new administrator, Bill Nelson, announced two new robotic missions to the solar system’s hottest planet, during his first major address to employees Wednesday.

“These two sister missions both aim to understand how Venus became an inferno-like world capable of melting lead at the surface,” Nelson said.

One mission named DaVinci Plus will analyze the thick, cloudy Venusian atmosphere in an attempt to determine whether the inferno planet ever had an ocean and was possibly habitable. A small craft will plunge through the atmosphere to measure the gases.

It will be the first U.S.-led mission to the Venusian atmosphere since 1978.

The other mission, called Veritas, will seek a geologic history by mapping the rocky planet’s surface….

(17) HOT SHIRT. You can see Venus here, too. High Seas Trading Company has a new Planets / space themed Hawaiian shirt on offer, “A beautiful illustration of planets orbiting the sun.”

(18) SUPERSONIC AIR TRAVEL RETURNING? USA Today reports United Airlines has a deal to acquire the new aircraft if they make it over all the hurdles: “United Airlines: Concorde-like supersonic jet will halve travel time”.

…Overture, which is billed as an environmentally-friendly aircraft running only on up to 100% sustainable aviation fuel, is not expected to be introduced until 2025 and won’t fly until 2026. The first passengers won’t board until 2029, the companies said. Last year, Boom rolled out XB-1, a test aircraft.

The New York Times also reports that “United Airlines Wants to Bring Back Supersonic Air Travel”.

…United and Boom would not disclose financial details, including the cost of each plane, but Mr. Leskinen said the economics should be about the same as a new Boeing 787, a wide-body plane that airlines typically use on international routes. United has committed to buying the planes if Boom manages to produce them, secure regulatory approvals and hit other targets, like meeting its sustainability requirements.

Boom also plans to make planes for Japan Airlines, an investor in the company.

What is not clear is whether Boom has solved the problems that forced British Airways and Air France to stop using the Concorde on trans-Atlantic flights — high costs, safety concerns and flagging demand.

“There was no airline interest,” Henry Harteveldt, a travel industry analyst and consultant, said about why supersonic flights languished. “And a big part of the lack of airline interest was there were no engines that were commercially available that would allow a supersonic jet to be economically viable.”

Two decades later, some start-up companies, including Boom and Spike Aerospace, are pushing ahead with new designs and plans.

Boom, which is working with Rolls-Royce, the British jet engine maker, said its plane would be more efficient than the Concorde; United estimates it will be 75 percent more efficient. Boom’s planes will not be as noisy as the Concorde because their engines will create a sonic boom only when flying over water “when there’s no one to hear it,” said Boom’s chief executive, Blake Scholl, who previously worked at Amazon and Groupon.

(19) WATCH THE WATCH. Hypebeast thinks you should wind up with a “Sonic the Hedgehog x Seiko 30th Anniversary Watch”.

The watch dial references the Green Hill Zone from the SEGA game with an image of Sonic chasing golden ring hour markers at the four o’clock position. The inner bezel sees the game’s pixelated green grass along with other details like satin-blue finishing, a star second hand, a 1/20-second chronograph at 12 o’clock, a date function, and a commemorative box and card.

Limited to 3,000 pieces, the Sonic x Seiko 30th-anniversary quartz watch is priced at ¥49,800 JPY (approximately $450 USD) and is expected to be delivered in mid-August.

(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Robert Quaglia explains how this Bradbury conversation came to be.

Robert Sheckley speaks via teleconference with Ray Bradbury in the occasion of Bradbury’s 80th birthday. This happened in Bergamo in July 2000. But why actually in Bergamo? During his “genovese” period, when Robert Sheckley was living in Italy as a guest of Roberto Quaglia, suddenly Ray Bradbury became 80 years old, and people of Bergamo, Italy, had earlier invited Bradbury to Bergamo. But in the last moment Bradbury didn’t go, and knowing that Sheckley was in Italy, people of Bergamo decided to invite him so that Bradbury could speak with someone in a videoconference. This is the video of that unique – and to some extent bizarre – event. The moderator of the event is Corrado Augias.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John Owen, Lise Andreasen, James Davis Nicoll, Daniel Dern, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, John Hertz, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Kip Williams.]

Pixel Scroll 9/1/20 Senpai
Noticed Me!

(1) GAME OF THRONGS. Netflix has ordered a series covering all three books in Liu Cixin’s trilogy — The Three-Body Problem, The Dark Forest, and Death’s End — reports Variety: “‘Three-Body Problem’ Series From David Benioff, D.B. Weiss, Alexander Woo Set at Netflix”.

There seem to be a lot of cooks hovering over the broth:

Benioff and Weiss executive produce under their Bighead Littlehead banner along with the company’s newly installed president, Bernadette Caulfield. [Rian] Johnson, Ram Bergman, and Nena Rodrigue executive produce via T Street Productions. [Brad] Pitt executive produces with along with Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner for Plan B Entertainment. [Rosamund] Pike and Robie Uniacke executive produce for Primitive Streak. Lin Qi, chairman of Yoozoo Group and The Three-Body Universe, and Zhao Jilong, vice president of The Three-Body Universe, also executive produce.

…Author Liu Cixin and accomplished sci-fi writer Ken Liu, who translated the English versions of the first and third books, serve as consulting producers.

The article quotes Liu Cixin:

“I have the greatest respect for and faith in the creative team adapting ‘The Three-Body Problem’ for television audiences,” said Cixin. “I set out to tell a story that transcends time and the confines of nations, cultures and races; one that compels us to consider the fate of humankind as a whole. It is a great honor as an author to see this unique sci-fi concept travel and gain fandom across the globe and I am excited for new and existing fans all over the world to discover the story on Netflix.”

(2) INTERNET ARCHIVE SUIT TRIAL SCHEDULED. Publishers Weekly is a fly on the courtroom wall when “Judge Sets Tentative Schedule for Internet Archive Copyright Case”. All the benchmark dates are at the link.

…The parties, barring a motion that would moot the schedule, are to be ready for trial on 48 hours notice on or after November 12, 2021.

…The copyright infringement lawsuit against the Internet Archive’s scanning and lending program was first filed on June 1 in the Southern District of New York by Hachette, HarperCollins, John Wiley & Sons, and Penguin Random House, and is being coordinated by the Association of American Publishers.

(3) VOTERS BY THE YARD. “Biden campaign launches official Animal Crossing: New Horizons yard signs” reports The Verge.

…Since the start of the coronavirus outbreak in the US earlier this year, campaigns like Biden’s have been forced to entirely rethink how they organize voters. Instead of in-person rallies, Biden’s team has opted for live-streamed events and fundraisers along with socially distanced productions and interviews. The entire Democratic National Convention was held virtually earlier this month, with most guests streaming in over video software like Zoom to deliver speeches.

The Biden-Harris campaign released four sign designs for players to download, featuring the official Biden-Harris logo, Team Joe logo, the “Joe” Pride logo, and an image of aviator sunglasses shaded in red, white, and blue. Players will be able to access the designs in-game by scanning the design QR codes through the Nintendo Switch Online app.

Millions of people have picked up Animal Crossing: New Horizons since its initial release in March, and the Biden campaign is hoping to engage that large base with their new merch. “Animal Crossing is a dynamic, diverse, and powerful platform that brings communities together from across the world. It is an exciting new opportunity for our campaign to engage and connect Biden-Harris supporters as they build and decorate their islands,” Christian Tom, director of digital partnerships for the Biden campaign, said in a statement to The Verge. “As we enter the final campaign stretch towards November, this is one way we are finding new creative and innovative ways to meet voters where they are and bring our supporters together.”

(4) ZOOM IN BLOOM. Cora Buhlert wrote a NASFiC conreport and an overview of the growing phenomenon of virtual sff events: “Cora’s Adventures at the Virtual 2020 NASFiC and More Thoughts on Virtual Conventions”.

…The first panel I watched was “Fantasy for YA vs. Adults”, featuring Alma Alexander, Farah Mendlesohn, Sherwood Smith and Kathryn Sullivan. I picked this panel over the horror panel going on at the same time, because I knew and liked the panelists. There was some concern in the chat that the panelists were all white. And indeed, more diversity would have been nice, especially considering what a diverse field fantasy in general and YA in particular is.

Talking of the chat, unlike other recent virtual conventions, NASFiC opted not to use the Zoom chat, but have the Discord chat side by side with the panel. From the POV of an audience member, this was a lot better than having to switch between Discord and Zoom in different tabs/windows. Though I’m not sure how it was from the POV of a panelist, since panelists and moderators can more easily see questions, when they are asked in the Zoom chat…

(5) MASTERING DUALITY. Sarah Gailey’s Personal Canons series continues with “Abhorsen”.

…When I first read the Abhorsen books, I was very young, and I was just starting to grapple with questions of identity, duality, and choice. Bound up in those questions was a larger, overarching question of worth. I felt certain that if I didn’t answer those questions about myself correctly, I’d lose some degree of goodness. Bit by bit, parts of me would tarnish; I’d become Bad, and there would be no place in the world for me. That feeling was too much. I couldn’t face it.

But in Garth Nix’s books, I saw that perhaps the answers could be more complicated than I realized. In Sabriel, I saw that feeling afraid and unprepared didn’t have to mean surrender, so long as I could be resourceful and stubborn. In Lirael, I saw that it’s possible to survive the crushing feeling that life is unsurvivable.

(6) NYRSF 30TH SEASON. The New York Review of SF Readings Series, hosted by Jim Freund, kicks off its new season virtually on September 8 with a reading by Michael Swanwick. More info at the link: “NYRSF Readings: Swanwick/Dozois ‘The City Under the Stars’”

This reading marks the beginning of our 30th Season! Sadly, we cannot all join together for a fete, but over the course of time, we’ll figure something out. We wish to experiment with simulcasting the reading on our traditional home here on Facebook, but also try simulcasting it on YouTube. We’ll be testing this through the week so be sure to check back here to find out where to log in.

On Tor.com, Michael Swanwick wrote:
“Almost a quarter century ago, Gardner Dozois and I published “The City of God,” now the first half of this novel. It ended with a slam, seemingly precluding any sequels. But over the decades Gardner and I talked over what might come next. We planned to write two more novellas, “The City of Angels” and “The City of Men,” which would tell one long, complete story. One with a happy ending.

Don’t laugh.

Yes, Gardner could be a bleak writer. Yes, the novella was dark even for him. But he had an uplifting idea for how the book would end. We discussed it often. We were midway through the second novella and aiming at that happy ending when, without warning, Gardner died.

I knew I would never write that third novella without his input, his genius. Nevertheless I wanted the world to see this genuinely happy ending. So I changed the direction of the work in progress, combined both novellas, divided them into chapters, and made of them a novel I think Gardner would have been pleased with.

The ending is exactly what Gardner envisioned all those decades ago. A happy one. For everyone.

When I wrote the last words of it, I cried.”

(7) NOT TOO LATE TO TUNE IN. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.]“Arthur Charles Clarke discusses science fiction” at the Studs Terkel Radio Archive is a 1959 interview Studs Terkel conducted with Clarke where Clarke discusses his novels Childhood’s End and Earthlight, explains why he thought sf was not escapist, and said that “I’m a moral vegetarian, although I hate vegetables.”

(8) OKAY BOOMER. “Can You Recognize These Guest Stars On Star Trek: The Original Series?” John King Tarpinian got 9 of 11. I got 10. It helps if you’ve watched too much Sixties television.

We gathered some of our favorite guest stars from Star Trek: The Original Series. They are famous faces from classic television. See if you can match them to their popular roles. Good luck!

(9) DINO MITES. “‘Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous’ Trailer: Netflix Unleashes Look At New Dreamworks Animation Series, Launches Interactive Site”Yahoo! Entertainment has the story.

…The series trailer (watch it above) sets up the premise of Camp Cretaceous: A group of six teenagers are trapped at a new adventure camp on the opposite side of Isla Nublar. When the events of the film unfold and dinosaurs are unleashed across the island, each kid realizes their very survival rests on the shoulders of themselves and their fellow campers. Unable to reach the outside world, the six teens will go from strangers to friends to family as they band together to survive the dinosaurs and uncover hidden secrets so deep they threaten the world itself.

Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous premieres September 18 on Netflix.

The new interactive site, live now, invites users to experience a behind the gates look at Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous. At CampCretaceous.com, users can tour the campgrounds, get up close with dinosaurs, check out tree top cabins and a zipline, among other adventures.

(10) GOSPEL OR BLASPHEMY? Chris Mooney, in “You Don’t Have To Be A Genre Writer To Explore Genre” on CrimeReads, says his desire to put sf elements in a suspense novel led him to explore other works that combine sf and suspense, including novels by Colson Whitehead, Margaret Atwood, and Sir Kazuo Ichiguro.

…Sometimes when you mix things together, the results are amazing, even spectacular. As I was writing Blood World, I realized that almost of my all-time favorite books—the ones that had the greatest impact on me—were from authors who successfully incorporated elements from more than one genre. And now, it’s mid-August, the height of vacation season, and if, like me, you find yourself stuck in your backyard on a “staycation,” or lucky enough to live near a beach, you can do no better than these definitive, intelligent, page-turning, genre-bending classics.

(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • September 1, 1950Dimension X’s “The Roads Must Roll.” Based on the Robert Heinlein story that first was published in Astounding Science Fiction in the June 1940 issue, it would first be broadcast on this date on NBC  in 1950. It would win the Retro Hugo for Best Novella at MidAmericon II, the same year that OGH won another Hugo for Best Fan Writer. Jason Bolander, Norman Rose and Karl Weber were the cast. You can listen to it here. (CE)

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born September 1, 1875 Edgar Rice Burroughs. Bradbury declared him “the most influential writer in the entire history of the world.” Now I’d not necessarily disagree or agree with that statement but I would note that he has largely fallen out of public notice once again. So what’s your favorite works by him? The Barsoom stories are mine. (Died 1950.) (CE)
  • Born September 1, 1928 – Shelby Vick.  Edited Planetary Stories 2005-2017.  Edited a new (i.e. 2013, centuries after the original) volume of Sindbad stories (with E. Erdelac & E. Roberts; unable to resist the spelling “Sinbad”), writing one.  A score of short stories around then.  Leading fan since the 1940s.  Introduced Lee Hoffman (to some of us, after this incident, “Hoffwoman”), to Bob Tucker.  Started WAW with the Crew in ’52 bringing W.A. Willis to Chicon II the 10th Worldcon.  Organized, if that word may be used, Corflu 16 (fanziners’ con; corflu = mimeograph correction fluid, once indispensable); brought as a guest to Corflu 29.  Rebel Award.  (Died 2018) [JH]
  • Born September 1, 1942 C. J. Cherryh, 78. I certainly think the Hugo Award-winning Downbelow Station and Cyteen are amazing works but I think my favorite works by her are the Merchanter novels such as Rimrunners. Anyone familiar with “Cassandra“,  the short story she won a Hugo for at Seacon ‘79? What’s it part of? (CE) 
  • Born September 1, 1943 – Filthy Pierre, 77.  So unassumingly and widely helpful for so long he was at length given the Big Heart (our highest service award) and more locally made a Fellow of NESFA (New England SF Ass’n; its service award).  With Marilyn Wisowaty (as she then was; also F.N.) compiled The Blackdex and Bluedex indexing SF prozines.  FP being a filker is often at hand during an SF con and, when waiting is, inspires song, accompanying us on the current version of the Filth-O-Phone.  Made the well-named Microfilk, an early filk index.  Filk Hall of Fame.  Invented the Voodoo Message Board.  Fan Guest of Honor at Albacon 2010, Baltcon 52.  Under a transparent pseudonym has conducted the SF Conventional Calendar for Asimov’s since 1977.  [JH]
  • Born September 1, 1951 Donald G. Keller, 69. Editor and critic. Co-edited Phantasmicom with Jeff Smith (1969-1974). A contributor to The New York Review of Science Fiction in the early Nineties which is where his “The Manner of Fantasy” essay appeared. He also edited The Horns of Elfland anthology with Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman. Inactive genre wise for a decade now other than being a member of the editorial board of Slayage, the online Encyclopedia of Buffy Studies. (CE) 
  • Born September 1, 1952 – Brad Linaweaver.  Productive pro writer found lovable by many because of or despite proclaimed libertarian opinions.  A dozen novels, five dozen shorter stories, some with co-authors.  Artbook anthology Worlds of Tomorrowwith Forrest J Ackerman.  Interviewed William Tenn for Riverside Quarterly.  Two Prometheus Awards.  Phoenix. Heinlein’s brass cannon bequeathed to him.  (Died 2019)
  • Born September 1, 1954 – Larisa Mikhaylova, Ph.D., 66.  Editor, critic; translator including Cadigan and Le Guin.  Editor-in-chief, Supernova.  Organizer of conferences on Ivan Yefremov, co-ordinator of preparing his Complete Works.  Biography of HE in J. Francaville ed., Harlan Ellison.  “Shore Leave Russia” on Star Trek fandom in Russia, Eaton Journal of Archival Research in SF.  Academic Secretary, Russian Soc. Amer. Cultural Studies.  [JH]
  • Born September 1, 1961 – Jacinta Escudos, 59.  Mario Monteforte Toledo Central American Prize for Fiction.  Collection, The Devil Knows My Name (in Spanish, i.e. El diablo sabe mi nombre).  Anthologized in And We Sold the RainLovers and ComradesYou Can’t Drown the Fire.  Widely known outside our field.  Blog here (in Spanish).  [JH]
  • Born September 1, 1964 Martha Wells, 56. She’s has won a Nebula Award, a Locus Award, and two Hugo Awards, one for the “All Systems Red” novella at WorldCon ‘76, and the other for her “Artificial Condition“ novella at Dublin 2019.  Impressive. And she was toastmaster of the World Fantasy Convention in 2017 where she delivered a speech called “Unbury the Future”. Need I note the Muderbot Diaries are a truly amazing reading? (CE)
  • Born September 1, 1967 Steve Pemberton, 53. He’s on the Birthday List for being Strackman Lux in the most excellent Eleventh Doctor stories of “Silence in the Library” and “Forest of the Dead” but he has other genre credits including being Drumknott in Terry Pratchett’s Going Postal, Professor Mule in the Gormenghast series and Harmony in the Good Omens series as well. (CE) 
  • Born September 1, 1974 Burn Gorman, 46. Best known for his roles as Owen Harper in Torchwood , Karl Tanner in the Game of Thrones, Philip Stryker in The Dark Knight Rises and also as Hermann Gottlieb in Pacific Rim and the sequel Pacific Rim: Uprising. Like so many of his fellow Torchwood performers, he’s been active at Big Finish where he’s been in nine Torchwood stories to date. (CE) 
  • Born September 1, 1978 — Yoav Blum, 42.  Software developer and author.  First novel translated (from Hebrew), The Coincidence Makers.  Ranks Guards! Guards! about the same as Winnie-the-Pooh.  [JH]

(13) COMICS SECTION.

  • Ziggy listens to an outburst about an unfair evolutionary advantage.
  • Off the Mark comes up with one of those times when you shouldn’t count on Superman to save your life.
  • The Far Side asks Doctor who?
  • The Far Side illustrates a science fictional parenting problem.

(14) LIPTAK’S SEPTEMBER GUIDE. Andrew Liptak teases “22 science fiction and fantasy books to check out this September” on the Readling List.

….I’ve been in a bit of a reading rut in recent weeks, but one book that I’ve been enjoying is The Human Cosmos: Civilization and the Stars by Jo Marchant. It’s out today, and Marchant takes a slightly different tack on the history of astronomy: she looks at not how humanity discovered the stars and planets, but how it impacted our development as a civilization. It’s an excellent example of multidisciplinary history, looking at archeology, science, mathematics, and of course, astronomy. I highly recommend it.

If you’re looking for other books coming out this month, here are 22 science fiction and fantasy ones hitting stores that you should check out.

(15) THE STICKS HAVE BEEN HEARD FROM. SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, who has been without the internet most of the time during the pandemic, broke out of isolation to update “Concatenation Science Communication News”.

CoVID-19 / SARS-CoV-2 Lockdown — Please Note  Both Science Com and SF² Concatenation are in digital lockdown, but much is continuing as usual.  So stakeholders and those who liaise with either should note the following carefully.

Prior to CoVID-19 / SARS-CoV-2, neither abode being connected to the internet was not a problem (not even required) as regular internet access was available at college, volunteer work offices as well as learned society Fellows rooms’ and public libraries’ cybercafes (plus even hotels when travelling).  However, with SARS-CoV-2, access to these has ceased.  This means no e-mail communication since 20th March 2020 and this will not resume until we get a vaccine and restrictions are lifted. So if you have e-mailed, now you know why you have not had a response.

All other (non-e-mail) communications are working fine…

More news at the link.

He also tweeted assurance that there will be an autumnal edition of SF2 Concatenation as contributors have been snail-mailing contributions in on memory sticks.

(16) C.S. LEWIS MOVIE TO COMMENCE FILMING. “Production Begins Next Month for New C.S. Lewis Motion Picture” reports Narniafans.

… The material that this movie is based upon is Max McLean’s one man stage play that chronicles the Narnia author’s journey from atheism to Christianity… Although a filmed from the stage version of this production is already available on DVD, the new movie version will be entirely different with a full cast shooting at historic locations from C.S. Lewis’s life.

“The difference about this play is it’s going to be on location all over Oxford. We have full access to Maudlin College, The Kilns, the church, [and] various other places that are mentioned in the play. Instead of it being a one person show, it’s going to be a multi-actor show. I’ll play the older Lewis, we’ll have a boy Lewis, a young Lewis in his 20’s, cast his mother, his father, Tolkien, Barfield, Kirk, among others, and that is going to begin shortly.”

 In March 2020 the entire world of Fellowship for Performing Arts came to a complete standstill. The New York based theatrical organization had been selling 2,000 tickets a week for their four productions, but that quickly dropped to 0 tickets a week and there is no expectation that live theater will resume until 2021. More than 30 FPA shows have been canceled because it is far too dangerous to hold any public gatherings in the United States.

“Since our plays have all shut down, we’ve moved up our feature film adaptation of C.S. Lewis’s conversion story. That was designed to be a 2021/2022 project, well we’ve moved it up to September and October of this year. I’ll be leaving tomorrow for the UK to begin shooting in mid-September (I have to quarantine for two weeks before we begin shooting).”-Max McLean

Norman Stone is the producer of this movie. This award-winning British director also directed Shadowlands (1985), C.S. Lewis: Beyond Narnia (2005), and The Narnia Code (2009).

(17) WILL CROWDFUNDING LET THEM MAKE THEIR TEASER TRAILER? The Kickstarter for “BAÏDIR – the animated series”, a space-opera animated series, looks to be far from funding, having raised only $29,266 of its $35,968 goal and the appeal ending September 6.

This is an epic, modern, ecological, and family fable…

It tells the initiatory path of a hero willing to do anything to locate his sister, and thus restore the family’s lost balance. It is also a story that echoes a much broader collective quest. At stake: restoring our planet’s lost environmental equilibrium.

Baïdir is a series designed to span three parts, each composed of 8 episodes of 26 minutes. The genre varies from adventure to science fiction with a good dash of fantasy.

Born from the imagination of Slimane Aniss, then enriched by the graphic universe spun by Charles Lefebvre and Thierry Rivière, Baïdir got its first teaser in 2009. Several years later, in 2012, the concept for the series was purchased by a first production studio. This resulted in a second teaser being hatched. Then several years after that, Andarta Pictures managed to acquire the rights to the work. At long last, work could begin on building the narration and the universe, thus allowing it to take shape for the television screen.

Baïdir is a project that has garnered quite a lot of interest during its various development phases. There is a massive amount of fan art on social networks. This crowdfunding campaign will allow us to breathe life into this whole universe and to tell the story of Baïdir and his friends at last.

(18) ALIEN LIFE. The American Museum of Natural History will present online the “2020 Isaac Asimov Debate: Alien Life” on Wednesday, September 9, 2020.

Join Neil deGrasse Tyson, the Frederick P. Rose Director of the Hayden Planetarium, and a panel of experts for a livestream debate and question-and-answer session to discuss how life may have formed on Earth and explore what alien life might look like elsewhere in the universe.

What criteria do we use to classify life as we know it? Should the criteria be revised as we look for life on other worlds? The debate will bring together scientists from different fields–Nathalie A. Cabrol of the SETI Institute, Vera Kolb of the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, Seth Shostak of the SETI Institute, Carol Cleland of the University of Colorado, and Max Tegmark of MIT–to share their creative ideas for what forms life might take in an extraterrestrial environment and what these predictions can teach us about life on our own planet.

(19) HO, HO PHO. Archie McPhee has “Ketchup, Shiitake And Pho Candy Canes” ready for the holiday season – whatever holiday that may be. (“National Flash on Your Carpet Day”?) Wait – they seem to think it’s Christmas!

This year’s Archie McPhee candy canes are here! We’ve got three crazy flavors to make your Christmas more delicious than ever. Ketchup Candy Canes are fresh-from-the-bottle candy that tastes just like America’s favorite condiment. Shiitake Mushroom Candy Canes have a mushroom flavor that will make Christmas morning even more fungus than usual. And, finally, Pho Candy Canes are un-pho-gettable! 

I hope Santa leaves the antidote within reach!

(20) RU A ROBOT? Daniel Dern calls it “The best CAPTCHA I’ve seen to date”.  From FB’s Concellation group.

[Thanks to N., John King Tarpinian, Lise Andreasen, Contrarius, Michael Toman, JJ, Cat Eldridge, John Hertz, Martin Morse Wooster, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, Daniel Dern, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day O. Westin.]

Pixel Scroll 5/10/20 She Scrolls Like A Pixel, Dances Like A Nipped Out Cat

(1) SOUND CHOICES. AudioFile’s Candace Levy helps listeners “Discover 5 New Fantasy Audiobook Series”.

Feeling down because you’re all caught up with your current fantasy series? Be sad no more, because 2020 is overflowing with new characters and new adventures for audiobook lovers.

First on the list –

Camille Peters’s PATHWAYS, the first in the Kingdom Chronicles series, finds its roots in two classic stories—“The Princess and the Pea” and “Rumpelstilskin”—and contains many familiar fairy tale elements, such as an enchanted forest and a peasant girl who meets a prince. At the same time, the plot includes fresh twists, making it easy for teen listeners to relate to the budding romance, the magical woods, the secrets and betrayals, and the hope for redemption and a happily ever after. Our reviewer praised narrator Shiromi Arserio for her skill in conveying the full range of emotions felt by our heroine as she follows her destiny.

(2) WHAT THE SHOW’S ABOUT. Abigail Nussbaum, in “Deus Ex: Thoughts on Westworld’s Third Season”, begins her summary with an example:

There’s a moment in the third season premiere of Westworld that, though incidental, also feels like it encapsulates the entire show. Dolores, the former “host” at the titular park, who has gained awareness, escaped her enslavement, and vowed to destroy humanity in her pursuit of safety for her people, has arrived at a swanky party wearing a classic Little Black Dress. Striding onto the scene with elegant purpose as only the statuesque Evan Rachel Wood can, she tugs at a bit of fabric, and the dress transforms, unfolding and draping itself around her to become a glittery ballgown. It’s very pretty, and an impressive feat of dressmaking (presumably vying for an Emmy nomination for costuming, the show has even released footage of a test run for the dress transformation). But a moment’s thought can only leave you wondering what it was all for. Both dresses are appropriate evening attire. Neither one makes Dolores more or less noticeable. Neither one conceals her from pursuit (of which there appears to be none). It’s not even as if the LBD was particularly “practical”. The whole thing exists purely for the cool moment. Which is not a bad thing in itself, of course–what is on-screen science fiction for, after all, if not providing us with cool moments to GIF and meme? But it also feels like Westworld in a nutshell: it looks super-dramatic, but when you give it a moment’s thought, it means nothing….

(3) SPFBO BEHIND THE SCENES. Mihir Wanchoo’s post about the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-off at Fantasy Book Critic, “SPFBO 5: Conclusion & Some Thoughts”, includes a lot of “inside baseball,” but ends with these passionate thoughts about the contest’s mission —

Lastly I would like to clarify what the point of the contest is… Here’s what I think:
– It’s NOT about the authors.
– It’s NOT about the bloggers
– IT’S ABOUT THE READERS
– It’s about shining a spotlight on books that readers might have overlooked or never heard about. It doesn’t matter whether a book has a single Goodreads rating or 5K-plus because it can still reach more people by being in the contest.

I vehemently believe that every book should be judged on its own merit and not whether its author has won SPFBO or been a previous finalist or is a famous one (either traditionally published or self-published). Yes we can have rules about how frequently a previous winner or finalist can re-enter their new books (maybe with a cooling period of 2/3 years for a winner and a year for the finalist) but that’s a discussion to be had.

(4) THERE’S AN ART TO THIS KIND OF WRITING. Add NPR’s Steve Mullis to the list of people who adore the series: “Murderbot Makes A Triumphant (And Cranky) Return In ‘Network Effect'”.

…Wells’ latest, Network Effect, is the first full-sized novel featuring our favorite cranky, cynical, sentient, artificially intelligent robot. For those unfamiliar, I’ll give you a few minutes to catch up on the first four books. Done? OK, well that might not be long enough for a simple human, but for Murderbot, it would have been plenty of time to read the previous four volumes, watch an episode of future soap opera The Rise and Fall of Sanctuary Moon and break into a security system to complete a mission.

(5) WRITE-IN. Marc Scott Zicree, creator of Space Command, makes headlines when Neil deGrasse Tyson joins the cast!

Mr. Sci-Fi shares how famed astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson suggested a story for Space Command and now is a character in the show!

(6) REGISTER FOR VIRTUAL WISCON. WisCon, the world’s first feminist sff convention, is preparing to hold its first ever all-online edition. WisCon 44 will run virtually over U.S. Memorial Day Weekend — May 22-25, 2020. Registration is now open.

Aqueduct Press is collaborating with the organizers to encourage registration with a book giveaway: the first 100 people to register for the online con will receive a digital copy of this year’s volume of The WisCon Chronicles (Vol. 12): Boundaries and Bridges. This year’s volume of the traditional series, which gathers thoughts and creations by WisCon attendees, is edited by Isabel Schechter and Michi Trota.

The volume features Charlie Jane Anders’s and G. Willow Wilson’s WisCon 43 Guest of Honor speeches and the Tiptree (now Otherwise) award winner Gabriela Damián Miravete’s speech and fiction, as well as essays by Alexandra Erin, Julia Rios, Nisi Shawl, John Scalzi, and more.

(7) COMPANY CLOSES AFTER COFOUNDER DIES. [Item by Steve Green.] Twilight Time, the boutique home video label founded in 2011 by Brian Jamieson and the late Nick Redman, announced today (May 10) that it will be shutting down this summer and has begun a ‘closing down’ sale of warehouse stock. Effective July 1, Screen Archives will be taking over remaining inventory. Press release: “It’s Twilight Time For Us!”

Redman died on January 17, aged 63, following a lengthy illness. During his time at the Fox Music Group, he oversaw such movie soundtracks as the 1996 boxset Star Wars Trilogy and the following year’s Star Wars: A New Hope. Thanks to his input, most of the Twilight Time releases had isolated music tracks.

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • May 10, 1945  — Green Hornet’s “An Armistice From Death” was broadcast on WXYZ in Detroit. It has a cast of Bob Hall as the Green Hornet and Rollon Parker as Kato. The latter actor also voiced The Newsboy at the end of each episode who hawked the Extra edition of The Sentinel that carried the story of the weekly racket or spy ring being smashed. The story this time was that though the Nazis have surrendered, a team of a German agent and a Japanese spy plan to carry on the fight against America. The Japanese spy says, “Honorable Hitler never admit defeat!” The first step is to kidnap Kato, Next, they leave a bio weapon in the form of a fatal virus to attack the celebrating Americans. This broadcast followed the actual V-E Day by only 2 days! You can hear it here.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born May 10, 1863 Cornelius Shea. As SFE puts it, “author for the silent screen and author of dime novels (see Dime-Novel SF), prolific in many categories but best remembered for marvel stories using a fairly consistent ’mythology’ of dwarfs, subterranean eruptions, and stage illusion masquerading as supernatural magic.” To my surprise, only two of his novels are in the Internet Archive, though Complete Mystery Science Stories of Cornelius Shea which includes two of these Novels is available from iBooks  and Kobo. (Died 1920.) [CE]
  • Born May 10, 1870 Evoe. Brother of Ronald Knox, husband of Mary Shepard who illustrated Mary Poppins and whose father illustrated Winnie the Pooh and The Wind in the Willows.  Edited Punch 1932-1949 after contributing for years.  When in 1960 Punch ran a series “Authors in Space” – “Dickens in Space”, “Kipling in Space”, “Joyce in Space” – Evoe (a pen name) wrote “Conan Doyle in Space”. (Died 1970.) [JH]
  • Born May 10, 1886 Olaf Stapledon. Original and almost unimaginable. Last and First Men, his first novel (!) extends over two billion years – written in 1930.  Who could follow that?  He did, with Star Maker, over 100 billion years. Their range, imagination, and grandeur may still be unequaled.  He was, however – or to his credit – depending on how you see things – an avowed atheist.  Odd John, about a spiritual-intellectual superman, may be tragic, or heroic, or both; likewise Sirius, about a superdog, on this year’s Retro-Hugo ballot.  First recipient of the Cordwainer Smith Rediscovery Award, 2001.  Science Fiction Hall of Fame, 2014. (Died 1950.) [JH]
  • Born May 10, 1895 Earl Askam. He played Officer Torch, the captain of Ming the Merciless’s guards, in the 1936 Flash Gordon serial. It’s his only genre appearance though he did have an uncredited role in a Perry Mason film, The Case of Black Cat, which is at least genre adjacent as the defendant is a feline! (Died 1940.) [CE]
  • Born May 10, 1899 Fred Astaire. Yes, that actor. He showed up on the original Battlestar Galactica as Chameleon / Captain Dimitri In “The Man with Nine Lives” episode. Stunt casting I assume.  He had only two genre roles as near as I can tell which were voicing The Wasp in the English language adaptation of the Japanese Wasp anime series, and being in a film called Ghost Story. They came nearly twenty years apart and were the last acting roles that he did. (Died 1987.) [CE]
  • Born May 10, 1900 Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin. Groundbreakingly proposed in her doctoral dissertation (first Ph.D. from Radcliffe, at the time women-only) that the Sun was mainly hydrogen and helium; proved right four years later.  First woman to head a department at Harvard.  Six honorary degrees.  Stars in the Making (non-fiction) reviewed by Schuyler Miller in the July 1953 Astounding. Biography, What Stars Are Made Of (D. Moore; just published 2020). (Died 1979) [JH]  
  • Born May 10, 1905 Alex Schomburg. One of our finest graphic artists. 130 covers 1939-1993 from Startling to Tomorrow, including Amazing, Astounding and AnalogF & SFGalaxyAsimov’s, books – and the Westercon 37 Program Book; 250 interiors; not that numbers are supreme. Worldcon Special Committee Award for Lifetime Achievement, 1989, and Chesley Award for Lifetime Achievement, 1987; First Fandom Hall of Fame, 1990.  Six years an Illustrators of the Future judge.  See him in Di Fate’s Infinite Worlds. (Died 1998.) [JH]
  • Born May 10, 1935 Terrance Dicks. He had a long association with Doctor Who, working as a writer and also serving as the programme’s script editor from 1968 to 1974. He also wrote many of its scripts including The War Games which ended the Second Doctor’s reign and The Five Doctors, produced for the 20th year celebration of the program. He also wrote novelizations of more than sixty of the Doctor Who shows. Yes sixty! Prior to working on this series, he wrote four episodes of The Avengers and after this show he wrote a single episode of Space: 1999 and likewise for Moonbase 3, a very short-lived BBC series. (Died 2019.) [CE]
  • Born May 10, 1963 Rich Moore, 57. He’s directed Wreck-It Ralph and co-directed Zootopia and Ralph Breaks the Internet; he’s has worked on Futurama. It’s not really stretching the definition of genre , so I’ll note that he did the animation for the most excellent Spy vs. Spy series for MADtv. You can see the first one here. [CE]
  • Born May 10, 1969 John Scalzi, 51. I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve ever read by him. What would I recommend if you hadn’t read him? The Old Man’s War series certainly is fantastic with Zoe’s Tale bringing tears to my eyes as well as the Interdependency series are excellent. I really have mixed feelings about Redshirts in that it’s too jokeyfor my taste. I will note that his blog is one of a very few which I read every post of. [CE]

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Frazz wonders what else is in the universe.
  • Garfield enjoys a fan favorite.
  • Free Range plays with a skeptical rock climber.

(11) LINE BY LINE. Gideon Marcus surveys the state of the computing arts – in 1965 – for Galactic Journey: “[MAY 10, 1965] A LANGUAGE FOR THE MASSES (TALKING TO A MACHINE, PART THREE)”.

This is part three of our series on programming in the modern computer age.  Last time, we discussed the rise of user-oriented languages.  We now report on the latest of them and why it’s so exciting.

…These days, thanks to companies like IBM, Rand, and CDC, digital computers have become commonplace — more than 10,000 are currently in use!  While these machines have replaced de Prony’s human calculators, they have created their own manpower shortage.  With computation so cheap and quick, and application of these computations so legion, the bottleneck is now in programmers.  What good does it do to have a hundred thousand computers in the world (a number being casually bandied about for near future years like 1972) if they sit idle with no one to feed them code?

(12) WHEN JUPITER COLLIDES WITH MARS. Yahoo! News asks “Will Coronavirus Kill Astrology?” Are they kidding?

If ever there was one, Susan Miller would be a blue-chip astrologer. So in January, when she appeared on CBS New York and predicted that 2020 would “be a great year, and it will be a prosperous year,” people listened.

People listened when she said Capricorn would be the year’s “celestial favorite,” Cancer was the most likely to wed, Libra was set to score in real estate, and Taurus could expect a calendar full of international travel.

And then people got mad because — it probably doesn’t need pointing out — things didn’t exactly go according to the stars’ plan….

(13) ONE PICTURE IS WORTH A THOUSAND BRICKS. Apartment Therapy introduces fans to “The New Harry Potter LEGO Collection [which] Includes Tiny Mandrake Plants and a Giant Hedwig”.

The Harry Potter universe is expanding, with six new LEGO sets coming this summer. They include scenes from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, as well as the house on Privet Drive where Harry spent his childhood and a large Hedwig that can move its wings with the turn of a crank.

The LEGO world of Harry Potter is already vast. The first sets came out in 2001 along with the first film, and 19 years later, you can find LEGO versions of everything from the Hogwarts Castle to Diagon Alley, with niche sets dedicated to moments in the books and films.

See them all at the LEGO site, including the Hogwarts Astronomy Tower.

(14) CAPALDI PITCHES IN. “Peter Capaldi on For The Love of Scotland Livestream 22/4/2020” is a segment Capaldi did (including reading Kurt Vonnegut) for the “Masks for Scotland” fundraiser held on April 22. He quips, “My life is mostly unchanged because i avoid people anyway.”

(15) LEM BACK IN PRINT. Brendan Byrne makes “The Case for Stanislaw Lem, One of Science Fiction’s Unsung Giants” at Medium.

Since his death in 2006, the work of Polish science fiction writer Stanislaw Lem has slowly slid from view. While his impact upon on American audiences was always softened by the Iron Curtain — he was was in peak form during the ’60s and ’70s — and an often tortured translation process, Lem was at one point “the most widely read science fiction writer in the world,” at least according to Theodore Sturgeon, an eminent writer of SF’s so-called Golden Age.

Lem was acknowledged, especially by fellow authors, as an especially important figure in the genre, but of late he seems to be primarily remembered as the author of the novel Solaris, the base material for the 1972 film by Andrei Tarkovsky and the 2002 version by Steven Soderbergh. This is a poor fate for an author who, for the latter half of the 20th century, skipped nimbly between SF sub-genres, with occasional excursions outside SF. While his sphere of influence was massive — he sold 45 million books worldwide — Lem’s refusal to settle into some comfortable little niche is distinctly unusual in a contemporary marketplace which today sections writers into increasingly sub-sub-genres.

Lem was simultaneously a moralist, stylist, and semi-professional scientist (a teenage inventor who trained as a physician). He managed to write hard science fiction that engaged with contemporary developments in science, medicine, and philosophy without ever condescending to his audience or engaging in specialist-speak (unless he was satirizing it).

Fortunately, the MIT Press has seen fit to help rejuvenate Lem’s oeuvre — they recently republished six of his key books, and, in the process, made the case for a Lemian resurgence — just in time for his 2021 centenary….

(16) THE END IS NEAR. The wait is over. “Here Comes the Droughtlander! Everything You Need to Know About Outlander Heading into the Season 5 Finale” in Parade.

…“Almost anybody can write a good love story, in which people meet and fall in love and get married or run off together,” Gabaldon says, adding, “It’s much harder and thus more interesting to find out what it takes to be married for 50 years. I had never seen anybody do that, so that’s what I decided I’d like to do.”

The Starz series that follows the heroic journey of Jamie (Sam Heughan) and Claire (Caitriona Balfe) is such a success that the term “Droughtlander” has been coined for the period of time in between seasons. And we will be heading there shortly. The season five finale airs May 10, and according to Heughan, it’s going to be “big.”

(17) NOT QUITE AT THE SPEED OF LIGHT. [Item by David Doering.] From the Truth is Stranger than Fiction department, here’s the tale of how SF turned fact gave us the 13th Amendment to the US Constitution and banned slavery. “The $60,000 Telegram That Helped Lincoln End Slavery”.

…Statehood looked promising, particularly for Nye, who had great political ambitions. He preferred living on the East Coast and saw his post in Nevada as a way to launch himself into what he really wanted to be — a Senator. Nye was charismatic and known for his “winning friendly face,” but his countenance changed rapidly when a telegram arrived the evening of Tuesday, October 25, 1864. The head of the California Pacific Telegraph passed on a telegram to him, which said, “The President has not received a copy of your constitution.” The deadline for the materials was just a few days away. There wasn’t enough time to mail it to the President. If Nye was going to get 175 pages of this official document to Abraham Lincoln, he was going to have to use the new technology that was just installed three years prior — the telegraph.

…When these electrical impulses finally reached the last leg of their journey, they were sent to the telegraph office of the War Department. This transmission was of such importance that intelligence from the warfront was put on hold for five hours to make way for Nevada’s telegram. Hodge’s and Ward’s message took two days to get to Lincoln and the cost of sending the message was $4,303.27 ($60,000 today). Nevada’s electric constitution reached Lincoln on the evening of October 28 and he proclaimed it a state on the 30th. On the 31st of October, Nevada officially celebrated its statehood, which gave it the right to participate in the election a week later on November 8….

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Inside The Making of Dr. Strangelove” on YouTube is a 2000 documentary about Dr. Strangelove that includes interviews with production designer Sir Ken Adam, Kubrick biographer John Baxter, and James Earl Jones, who made his debut in the film.

[Thanks to Microtherion, Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, Darrah Chavey, Andrew Porter, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, JJ, Lise Andreasen, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]

Pixel Scroll 4/7/20 Files In My Pocket Like Pixels Of Scrolls

(1) S.P. SOMTOW RETURNS TO SFF. Somtow Sucharitkul celebrated the appearance of his new novel with these retrospective thoughts —

My first novel was published in 1981 by Simon and Schuster. It cost $2.50 and I got 20¢ a copy. To earn out my $5,000 advance, I would have had to sell 25,000 books. I don’t know if it sold that many, but it did get reprinted by S&S, and then republished by Del Rey. Later, my advances, and presumably the number of books they sold, increased quite a bit.

Twenty years ago, I kind of vanished from publishing except for the odd (very) Star Trek novel. But anyway the bottom fell out of the market for us mid-list types.

Now forty years have gone by since my first novel came out. I have just put out my first new science fiction novel since 1997 (unless you count that “very” odd Star Trek novel. Today, I’m not even imagining selling 100,000 copies of Vampire Junction or 25,000 copies of a space opera. Today, putting the whole thing on amazon all by myself, I’m thinking boy, if I sell 100 copies, I’ll have made a whole lot of old-time fans, most of whom I know personally, happy. And enjoy a lot of very nice meals.

But here’s the thing … it was REALLY satisfying to finish a science fiction novel. I might have to do some more.

Homeworld of the Heart — the 5th novel in the Inquestor series and my first science fiction book since 1997. Here are the links to the trade paperback and Kindle editions on Amazon.

It’s about the childhood of Sajit, who was to become the poet of the entire galactic empire. It’s chock-full of childsoldiers, people bins, tachyon bubbles, utopia hunters, beauty and depravity and the other expected features of the series, but also speaks about the chaos that ensues when the Inquestors’ games misfire, about the subtleties of music in the Inquestral age, and the stone-age taboos of a high-tech civilization.

(2) BAEN SERIES ENDS. I inquired of Baen Books’ Christopher Ruocchio and learned there won’t be a volume of The Year’s Best Military & Adventure SF in 2020. He said, “Toni and [editor] David Afsharirad decided that five volumes was going to do it for the military sf anthology series and wrapped it up. Last year’s was the last for the present.” The series will be missed.

(3) MEDICAL UPDATE. Juanita Coulson, 87, was taken to Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center in Columbus, Ohio, for tests and treatment. It was suspected she’d had a stroke, however, Bruce Coulson told Facebook readers today in a public post: “Further news on Mom. It turns out she did NOT have a stroke (probably), but does have a UTI and will be off work for a while. On the plus side, she might be going back home in a couple of days.”

Coulson is a sff author, winner of the Big Heart Award (2012), and past DUFF delegate.

(4) CANADA PERFORMS. Margaret Atwood kicks off a streaming series for Canadian writers whose tours have been derailed. “It doesn’t replace the fun of an audience, mass audience response, but it’s better than nothing,” she said. “I think we’re in the better-than-nothing era.” The New York Times reports: “At Margaret Atwood’s Prompting, Canada Launches Virtual Book Tours”.

Margaret Atwood is launching an online series that she hopes will help Canada’s writers sell books to a nation of shut-ins. But even she has not been immune to the headaches plaguing many people as they attempt to communicate during the global pandemic.

One came half an hour into a conversation about upcoming books with Adrienne Clarkson, a friend and fellow author, hosted by the National Arts Centre on Facebook Live. Atwood’s image froze.

“Come back, come back,” Clarkson said. “Was it anything I said?”

After a few minutes, Atwood did reappear, in a different room of her house with a superior internet connection. The two women continued to go through a list of books they acknowledged that, for the most part, they hadn’t even seen, let alone read, but were written by authors whose earlier works they enjoyed.

Their chat, which veered into social distancing and gardening, among other subjects, was an extension of a program the arts center started two weeks ago, CanadaPerforms, to provide a paid venue for musicians, actors, comedians and other performers at a time when stages are dark around the world….

(5) BARBER OBIT. [Item by Joel Zakem.] Michigan fan Tom Barber (born 1949) passed away on April 4, 2020, from complications of COVID 19. Tom was a long time convention worker and occasional t-shirt dealer who, in the past, had chaired both Confusion and Conclave. He was a member of the Dorsai Irregulars and was Fan GOH at Confusion in 2001.

(6) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • April 7, 1933 King Kong was released nationwide I he U.S. It was directed and produced by Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack. The screenplay was written by James Ashmore Creelman and Ruth Rose was developed from an idea by Cooper and Edgar Wallace. It stars Fay Wray, Bruce Cabot and Robert Armstrong. Critics mostly loved it, the box office was quite amazing and the audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a 97% approval rating. You can watch it here.
  • April 7, 1951 The Thing from Another World premiered. It was directed by Christian Nyby, and produced by Edward Lasker. It’s based on John W. Campbell ‘s “Who Goes There?” novella. The film stars Margaret Sheridan, Kenneth Tobey, Robert Cornthwaite, and Douglas Spencer. James Arness is The Thing, but he is almost impossible to recognize in makeup due to both the extremely low lighting and other steps used to hide his face. Critics at the time weren’t wild about it but audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes really like it and give it an 87% rating. You can watch it here.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born April 7, 1915 Henry Kuttner. While he was working for the d’Orsay agency, he found Leigh Brackett’s early manuscripts in the slush pile; it was under his guidance that she sold her first story to Campbell at Astounding Stories. His own work was done in close collaboration with C. L. Moore, his wife, and much of what they published was under pseudonyms.  During the Forties, he also contributed numerous scripts to the Green Lantern series. (Died 1958.)
  • Born April 7, 1915 Stanley Adams. He’s best known for playing Cyrano Jones in “The Trouble with Tribbles” Trek episode. He reprised that role in the Star Trek: The Animated Series episode “More Tribbles, More Troubles” and archival footage of  him was later featured in the Deep Space Nine “Trials and Tribble-ations” episode. He also appeared in two episodes of the Batman series (“Catwoman Goes to College” and “Batman Displays his Knowledge”) as Captain Courageous. (Died 1977.)
  • Born April 7, 1928 James White. Certainly the Sector General series which ran to twelve novels and ran over thirty years of publication was his best known work. I’ve no idea how many I read but it was quite a few. I’m not sure what else by him I’ve read but I’m certain there was other novels down the years. He worked on the famed Irish fanzines Slant and Hyphen. He was a guest of honor at the 1996 Worldcon. (Died 1999.)
  • Born April 7, 1935 Marty Cantor, 85. He edited with his then wife Robbie Holier Than Thou, nominated for the 1984, 1985 and 1986 Hugo Awards for Best Fanzine — losing in the first two years to File 770 and in the last to Lan’s Lantern. He also published Who Knows What Ether Lurks in the Minds of Fen?, a rather nice play off The Shadow radio intro.
  • Born April 7, 1939 Francis Ford Coppola, 81. Director / Writer / Producer. THX 1138 was produced by him and directed by George Lucas in his feature film directorial debut in 1971. Saw it late at night after some serious drug ingestion with a red head into Morrison — strange experience that was. Other genre works of note include Bram Stoker’s Dracula, a episode of Faerie Tale Theatre entitled “Rip Van Winkle”, Twixt (a horror film that almost no one has heard of), Captain EO which featured Michael JacksonMary Shelley’s FrankensteinJeepers Creepers and Jeepers Creepers 2.
  • Born April 7, 1945 Susan Petrey. Only three of her stories were published during her lifetime. More of her work appeared in the Gifts of Blood collection published after her death. She was nominated, also posthumously, for the Astounding Award for Best New Writer, and her story ”Spidersong” was nominated for the Hugo Award. Susan C. Petrey Clarion Scholarship Fund annually awards scholarships to both the Clarion & Clarion West workshops and also supports an instructor at Clarion West as a Petrey Fellow. (Died 1980.)
  • Born April 7, 1946 Stan Winston. He’s best known for his work in Aliens, the Terminator franchise, the first three Jurassic Park films, the first two Predator films, Batman Returns and Iron Man. He was unusual in having expertise in makeup, puppets and practical effects, and was just starting to get in digital effects as well upon the time of his passing. I think we sum up his talent by noting that he both an Oscars for Best Visual Effects and Best Makeup for his work on Terminator 2: Judgment Day. (Died 2008.)
  • Born April 7, 1951 Yvonne Gilbert, 69. Though best remembered for her controversial cover design of Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s 1983 single ”Relax”, she did a number of great genre covers including Le Guin’s A Wizard of Earthsea for Bantam in 1991 and Beagle’sA Dance for Emilia for Roc in 2000.

(8) COMICS SECTION.

Is coronavirus funny enough to fill the entire Comics Section? You be the judge!

  • xkcd tells why homemade masks are better than some other ideas for avoiding infection.
  • Pearls Before Swine’s creator is suspiciously unavailable — April 6 and April 7
  • Brewster Rockit goes for a pretty obvious punchline on the first day, and another one the next day.
  • Frank and Ernest certainly have their hearts in the right place.
  • Lio is about as funny as usual. (If you’ll pardon my saying so.)
  • Tank McNamara, on the other hand, is almost worth a laugh, which has never happened before. 

(9) AS LONG AS YOU HAVE SOME TIME ON YOUR HANDS: Neil DeGrasse Tyson and Barry Kibrick discuss the Universe from the Big Bang to Newton in a two-part special episode of Between the Lines: “Astrophysics: Part One, From the Big Bang to Newton” and “Astrophysics: Part Two, From Newton to Our Current Time”.

(10) SPIN CONTROL. “Event Horizon Telescope: Black hole produces twisting jet” – BBC has the story.

One year on from publishing the first ever image of a black hole, the team behind that historic breakthrough is back with a new picture.

This time we’re being shown the base of a colossal jet of excited gas, or plasma, screaming away from another black hole at near light-speed.

The scene was actually in the “background” of the original target.

The scientists who operate the Event Horizon Telescope describe the jet in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.

They say their studies of the region of space known as 3C 279 will help them better understand the physics that drives behaviour in the vicinity of black holes.

(11) TIGER, TIGER. Details on the sick tigers: NPR asks “A Tiger Has Coronavirus. Should You Worry About Your Pets?”

Nadia is a four-year-old Malayan tiger at the Bronx Zoo. Last week, she started exhibiting one of the key symptoms of the novel coronavirus: a dry cough.

And it wasn’t just Nadia — her sister Azul, two Amur tigers, and three African lions were all experiencing the same thing. So the zoo got permission from local and state health departments and animal health authorities, and took a sample from Nadia to be tested for the SARS-CoV-2. The sample was analyzed at the University of Illinois and Cornell University, and the presumptive positive finding confirmed at a U.S. Department of Agriculture lab in Iowa.

That positive makes Nadia the first known infection case of an animal in the U.S., the CDC says.

That result raises a number of questions about the virus, and how it could affect the animals we spend time with. We’ll tackle those questions here.

How do you test a tiger for coronavirus?

The test involved an oral swab, a nasal swab, and procedure called a tracheal wash, which allows for sampling of the animal’s airways….

How did the tiger get tested when a lot of people still can’t?

The sample from Nadia was tested at veterinary diagnostic labs that aren’t approved to analyze human tests. The testing of the tiger “did not take a test or resources from human health efforts,” the zoo said.

Nadia and the other tigers and lions are doing well and improving, the zoo says, though some have a decrease in appetite.

(12) VIDEOS OF THE DAY. “2 Lizards:  Episode 3, 2020” completes a three-part series of short videos on Vimeo in which Oriem Barki and Meriem Bennani show that even lizards get antsy if they stay inside and watch coronavirus coverage on their laptops.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Michael Toman, JJ, Rich Lynch, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Mike Kennedy, Joel Zakem, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Bruce Diamond.]