Pixel Scroll 9/21/22 She Took The Midnight Train To Arcturus

(1) ANTHEM LAUNCH. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Washington Post, classical music critic Michael Andor Brodeur discusses the new Space Force anthem by Jamie Teachenor and Sean Nelson, and lets his father make a dad joke that the tune was written by “Buck Rogers and Hammerstein.” “New Space Force anthem aims to land the military branch on your radar”.

On Tuesday, the United States Space Force entered its anthem era, announcing the release of its own official song at the Air Force Association Air, Space and Cyber Conference at National Harbor in Maryland.

The song, “Semper Supra” (“Always Above”), joins the ranks of “The Marines’ Hymn,” “The Army Goes Rolling Along” and other staples of the American military anthem repertoire. It’s also … Wait. Why are you laughing?

I knew as soon as I said “Space Force” this would happen.

Because the Space Force is, for the foreseeable future, the New Guy among military branches. Because its sudden and ham-handed public rollout in 2019 was largely entrusted to the writers’ rooms of late-night shows. And, yes, because it’s called the Space Force, so there remains a lingering temptation not to take it seriously (and a tacit cultural authorization to proceed).

… I guess for a song that’s destined to orbit around this branch of military in perpetuity, I was hoping for something … I don’t know, spacier?

Over the past century, the cosmos has supplied us with such a rich musical mood board: Gustav Holst gave us his standard-bearing model of the solar system, “The Planets,” back in 1916. Stanley Kubrick’s use of Johann Strauss’s antigravity waltzes and the monolithic motif taken from the other Strauss’s “Also sprach Zarathustra” have informed our perception of deep space since “2001” arrived in 1968. John Williams has also memorably distilled his visions of the vastness of space into universal themes — think the “five tones” of “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.”…

(2) FLIP THE SCRIPT. Camestros Felapton supplies the answer to the question, “Could you rewrite the Lord of the Rings as a techno-thriller?” (Did you doubt it for a moment?)

…Part of the issue is that much of what makes LotR a compelling story, are not the things that make it genre distinctive. Attempts to make a clear distinction between science fiction and fantasy can founder when we consider how LotR would change if it had to conform to proposed rules about science fiction. If, as the thought experiment goes, Tolkein’s elves were aliens, would the story now be sci-fi? The role of magic in fantasy versus materialist explanations in science fiction has also been offered. However, LotR has an odd take on magic. Much of the overt magic we see is attached to made objects (the Ring obviously, but also the palantir, the doors of Moria, Sting, the vial of light gifted to Frodo by Galadriel, or delving deeper into the mythos, the Silmarils themselves). We don’t know how those things work (magic!) but of course we don’t know how phasers, tractor beams, replicators or warp drives work either. To quote the overused quote from Arthur C. Clarke “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”. Clarke was making a point about technology rather than genre distinctions but the insight works almost symmetrically…. 

(3) HOPKINSON ZOOM. The Feminist Futures Forum, organized by the Emily Taylor Center for Women & Gender Equity at the University of Kansas, presents a conversation with Brown Girl in the Ring author Nalo Hopkinson facilitated by Anthony Boynton, a Ph.D. candidate in the KU English Department in September 22 at 6:30 p.m. Central, They will explore Black speculative fiction, Afrofuturism, and Black feminisms. Register here. This year’s Forum is planned in conjunction with the Gunn Center’s Sturgeon Symposium.

(4) FIRST STURGEON SYMPOSIUM. Speaking of which, the 1st annual Sturgeon Symposium, a hybrid in-person/online event hosted by the Gunn Center for the Study of SF, takes place next Thursday and Friday, September 29-30. 

Sessions include presentations on Fan Fiction, Indigenous Speculative Fiction, Eastern European SF, Latin American Dystopias, Gender & The Black Fantastic, Pedagogical Approaches, and much, much more.

Visit their website for the full program: Sturgeon Symposium.

(5) HOW DO YOU TURN THAT OFF? Sarah A. Hoyt explains why “Words Are Our Profession” at Mad Genius Club, though it is this paragraph that has me nodding in agreement:

…I will also straight up admit that I must be very odd in my relationship with text, because I never understand why anyone highlights or clips certain excerpts from books. When I got my latest kindle, I had the “show other people’s markings” setting on and couldn’t figure out how to turn it off. This made me glare a lot, as I couldn’t figure out why people were highlighting completely mundane sentences. Of course, it’s entirely possible that all these highlights and clipping of sentences happen the way they happen to me: Kindle starts falling, grab it with my off hand, and suddenly I’ve saved a clipping of “Hi, I am looking for my cat” as though it were some kind of life altering message. (As is, I had to turn the dictionary off, otherwise, by the same process, I was continuously having the meaning of “hand” or “parasol” explained to me.)…

Hoyt’s column is mainly about when it’s a good idea to eschew surplusage, and successful tactics for so doing.

(6) STEP BY STEP TO PUBLICATION. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Amit Gupta sold a short story to Tor.com.  Here, he discusses how long it took and all the rejections he accumulated. “Short stories: How much do you make? How do you sell one? How long does it take to write?” And you can read his story “India World” at Tor.com.

What’d I learn looking back through all this?

  • Writing takes forever, even if it’s a just a few thousand words. Way longer than I thought.
  • Submitting takes even longer. This tracks with other areas of my life. Selling is always less fun for me than making things.
  • SO MANY people helped! I’m blown away by how many people took time to read drafts and offer their feedback.

(7) DEUTSCHER BOOK PREIS. The only longlisted genre work didn’t make the Deutscher Buch Preis shortlist. If you want to know what did, click here.

(8) IT BECKONS. Kelly McClymer encourages writers to ask “Is Your Book Cover Doing the Job or Does It Need to Be Fired?” in the “Indie Files” series at the SFWA Blog.

… For authors, the cover is a double-edged sword. We need one that calls to our readers and makes them pick our book out of a crowded line up.

I remember the first time I realized would have to change the cover for an indie book. I didn’t want to pay for another cover design, so I delayed making the obvious decision. I kept telling myself that the book was good, so the cover couldn’t make that much difference.

I should have known better. I’ve been a voracious reader since I learned to read and my personal book choice algorithm is simple: favorite author first, then intriguing title, then intriguing cover. That personal algorithm hasn’t changed in decades. As a reader, I am easily seduced by title or cover.

As an author, I hate spending money on new covers and agonizing over the design. What got me to stop pinching pennies in this critical area of marketing? Evidence, of course. My indie author friends weren’t afraid to change their covers. Multiple times. And it (usually) helped their sales significantly. Even better, some of them were able to do so on a budget by using pre-made covers that were on sale. …

(9) WHAT’S THE MESSAGE? Scifihistory.net seriously doubts 2001 deserves a reputation for greatness: “Stardate 09.21.2022.A: Warp Core Breach: Science Fiction’s Biggest Circle Jerk – 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)”.

Circle jerk = a situation in which a group of people engage in self-indulgent or self-gratifying behavior, especially by enforcing or reinforcing each other’s views or attitudes.
 
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away (snicker snicker) I attended a small private college in Anytown, USA.  In one of my several classes talking about film, a professor (who shall be nameless) took the occasion one day to wax on eloquently about “mankind’s claim” that Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey was not only the greatest Science Fiction film ever made but very well was considered the best film ever made.
 
Now, at this juncture in my cognitive development, I was a firm supporter of Citizen Kane’s rightful claim to that title.  Not one to keep silent, I spoke up, asking where it was written that 2001 was ever considered a greater accomplishment than Kane was … to which I got an earful.  Pushing back as politely as I could, I argued that I’d never heard of anyone making such an assessment, and – while I didn’t doubt the instructor had read or perhaps thought such a ranking possible – I wanted to know which experts felt that way so that I could go out and read their analysis.  Essentially what I was told was that 2001 was, clearly, the superior film because of its central message.
 
Get ready, folks.
 
I asked, “What is 2001’s central message?”…

(10) SPELLER TRIBUTES CONTINUE. Strange Horizons’ Aishwarya Subramanian and Dan Hartland mark the loss of their colleague and friend: “In Memoriam: Maureen Kincaid Speller”.

…Maureen Kincaid Speller was capable of producing among the best criticism SFF has to offer. Now she has left us, our understandings of the genre will be poorer and less complete. We will know our favourite texts less well, and we will struggle sometimes to express a reading she would have worked into prose of wit, clarity, and pith. We will miss her because, as a critic, she helped us be better readers; because, as an editor, she made us better writers; and because, as herself, she was fearless in achieving these ends. But most of all, we will miss her because she was our friend—was the friend of all readers, and all authors, and all books. She showed us this every time she attended to a text and asked not just why she liked it, but why she—or why we—might not. Friends make us better, and they often do so via the unvarnished truth….

(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.  

1969 [By Cat Eldridge.] Randall And Hopkirk Deceased (1969)

Yes, I know it had multiple premiere dating back fifty-three years ago, so I’ve picked the London Weekend Television broadcast of the pilot two days after the ATV broadcast. No reason, but that’s my choice. Well, and it’s today.

Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) is a somewhat comical British PI series that starred Mike Pratt and Kenneth Cope respectively as the private detectives Jeff Randall and the quickly quite dead and just as rapidly ghostly Marty Hopkirk. Annette Andre as Jeannie Hopkirk, secretary at the Randall and Hopkirk private investigation office, and widow of Marty, was the only other regular cast member. 

(Note: beautiful woman here as well. The trope holds true!) 

In the United States possibly because the word deceased would be offensive, it was called My Partner the Ghost. Or because the syndicators here were utterly lacking in imagination and had to be sickeningly cute. You pick. 

It was created by Dennis Spooner who did a lot of writing for Doctor Who, a spot of writing for The Avengers and quite a bit later for the New Avengers, and was the creator of Department S

It would last one run of twenty-six episodes. In the year 2000 it was remade by the BBC starring Vic Reeves as Hopkirk (once again in a white suit) and Bob Mortimer as Randall, with Emilia Fox as Jeannie. Two series were made lasting just thirteen episodes.

A decade ago, SyFy announced that it had secured the rights to Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased) and were looking to develop a pilot, and in January 2011, Entertainment Weekly announced that Jane Espenson and Drew Z. Greenberg would be writing a pilot for SyFy. Given SyFy’s record for rebooting series, guess what happened to it? Well did you see a pilot? 

It does not appear to streaming anywhere for free right now.

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 21, 1904 Alexander Key. American writer primarily of children’s books. His novel Escape to Witch Mountain was made into by Disney into a film three times 1975, 1995, and again in 2009. (Originality isn’t one of Disney’s stronger suits.) The sequel novel was made into another film in 1978. The Incredible Tide novel became the Seventies Future Boy Conan anime series. (Died 1979.)
  • Born September 21, 1912 Chuck Jones. Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies creator (think Bugs Bunny). His work won three Oscars, and the Academy also gave him an honorary one in 1996.  I’ve essayed him more that once here, so you know that I like him. What’s your favorite one of his? Though perhaps culturally suspect these days, I’m very fond of “Hillbilly Hare”. (Died 2002.)
  • Born September 21, 1935 Henry Gibson. I’m going confess upfront that I remember best him as a cast member of Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In. You know what role that was. In regards to his genre work, he showed up on the My Favorite Martian series as Homer P. Gibson, he was in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang as an uncredited dancer, in Bewitched twice, once as Napoleon Bonaparte, once as Tim O’ Shanter, he was the voice of Wilbur in Charlotte’s Web, in The Incredible Shrinking Woman as Dr. Eugene Nortz, and even in an episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, the “Profit and Lace” episode to be exact in which he was Nilva, a ferengi. (Died 2009.)
  • Born September 21, 1960 Mary Mara. Best remembered as Inspector Bryn Carson on Nash Bridges but she had a number of genre appearances including Mary in K-PAX from Gene Brewer’s novel of the same name, and her best role though animated was — and don’t blame the messenger — Alice Kerchief/Geisha in Spicy City is an adult animated erotic cyberpunk television series which was created by Ralph Bkashi for HBO that ran for six episodes. It was a really fascinating role. I’d rate the series a strong R. (Died 2022.)
  • Born September 21, 1964 Andy Duncan, 58.  If I were to start anywhere with him, it’d be with his very excellent short stories which fortunately were published in two World Fantasy Award-winning collections Beluthahatchie and Other Stories, and The Pottawatomie Giant and Other Stories, and another WFA nominee, An Agent of Utopia: New & Selected Stories.  I’ve read his novels, so what you recommend?  He has garnered some very impressive Awards — not only World Fantasy Awards for the two collections, but also for the “Wakulla Springs” novelette (co-authored with Ellen Klages), and a Nebula for the novelette “Close Encounters” (2013). He has three Hugo nominations, for his “Beluthahatchie” short story (1998), the novella “The Chief Designer” (2002), and “Wakulla Springs” (2014). 
  • Born September 21, 1974 Dexter Steven, 48. He wrote interesting novels, the first being The Dream of Perpetual Motion which is based off The Tempest, with steampunk, cyborgs and airships as well; the second being Version Control, a media-saturated twenty minutes into the future America complicated by time travel that keep changing everything. He wrote these and that was it. 
  • Born September 21, 1990 Allison Scagliotti, 42. One of the primary cast of Warehouse 13, a show that I really, really loved. Her first genre role was as Jayna, one of the Wonder Twins, on the Smallville series. And she showed in a crossover episode of Eureka, “Crossing Over”.  She was in Camille Engelson on Stitchers which I must watch soon. 

(13) COMICS SECTION.

  • Bizarro  shows mythical beasts need therapy, too.

(14) WHO DAT? The Bookseller’s Joe Phelan knows there’s always an audience for anyone prepared to tell us, “What happened to Sad Puppies?”

The Sad Puppies era is arguably the bleakest passage in the history of the Hugo Awards. The Puppies’ campaigns gave rise to smears, vitriol, conspiracy and hostility; they can be regarded as an early skirmish in publishing’s now-pervasive “culture wars”, where suspicion, belligerence and an unwavering conviction in one’s own position routinely permeate discourse.

There are quotes from Kevin Standlee and Neil Gaiman which Phelan presents as recently obtained, and another from this laughably “anonymous” pro-Puppy figure:

…The anonymous Sad Puppies advocate we spoke to fully disputes suggestions that the campaigns should be branded failures. They are adamant the Hugos remain just as unrepresentative and biased as they considered them to be in 2013, and they believe Sad Puppies played an important role in raising awareness of this apparent issue.

“No, it was not unsuccessful. The campaign(s) proved to any onlookers who care to look that the modern Hugos are awarded solely for reasons of political correctness. A casual perusal of the lists of candidates and winners over the past four years is a sufficient confirmation of this. The Hugo Awards, in effect, burned themselves to the ground for the sole purpose of avoiding my work being recognised. The fans had selected an author that the insiders did not prefer – despite that I myself was a Tor author at the time. Those who hoped sobriety would prevail, and the Hugos return to the dignity they once knew, had their hopes dashed.”…

If you know any ex-Tor authors who were on the Sad Puppy slates that weren’t named John C. Wright, please do refresh my memory.

(15) PURE WROUGHT. Speaking of Mr. Wright, his recent “Note on Christian Science Fiction” contains this wonderful passage scoffing at some familiar genre works:

…People would go mad at the sight of stars, Mr. Asimov? Really? Eyewitnesses to the Crucifixion would immediately convince the world without any fuss that all religion was bunk, Mr. Clarke? Say you so? One should sleep with whores out of courtesy to one’s hosts when visiting whoreland, Mr. Heinlein? Really? Adultery is lawful for persons truly in love, Mrs. Rand? Honestly? Or, my personal favorite, if Captain Kirk is split into a good and evil pair, a la Jekyll and Hyde, the bad side is filled with passion and energy rather than filled with vice, and the good side is indecisive and weak rather than virtuous? Really, Mr. Roddenberry? Honestly, is that the way good and evil works, or have you simply been reading too much Freud, and it has warped your brain?…

(16) SEEMS MORE RELEVANT NOW. [Item by Todd Mason.] A quote from an old sff magazine:

“The Ukraine had had a number of serious attacks in the previous week, which refuted the theory that the metal locusts were a Russian weapon being used in preparation for a mobilisation of forces.”

“The Locusts” by R. Whitfield Young, Science-Fantasy, April 1958.

Apparently the only published story by Young under that byline, and one might guess why from the bulk of the story.

(17) AGAIN. CBR.com decides “Kaley Cuoco & Pete Davidson’s Meet Cute Is a Clever, Affecting Sci-Fi Rom-Com”.

When Sheila (Kaley Cuoco) approaches Gary (Pete Davidson) in a New York City bar at the beginning of Meet Cute, it seems like the moment referenced in the title — the romantic-comedy staple of the main characters first encountering each other in an adorable, amusing manner. For Gary, that’s what it is. He’s won over by Sheila’s offbeat charms, including ordering the exact same drink as him and toasting in the exact same way. For Sheila, though, this isn’t her first time meeting Gary, or even the fifth time. As she tells him almost immediately, she’s a time traveler, and she’s experienced this moment multiple times already. It’s a disarmingly direct way for the movie to introduce its sci-fi concept, which is indicative of the clever, surprising, and emotionally affecting story to come….

(18) LONGER AGO THAN YESTERDAY. Neil Gaiman, Ian Rankin, and Denise Mina are featured in this 2009 BBC piece about graphic novels that dropped today.

(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Adam Savage reports from the convention he holds (Silicon!) and how a fabricator he calls “evil Ted” gave him a very realistic foam space helmet.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, Todd Mason, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]

Pixel Scroll 9/13/22 Of Course That’s Scrollock Holmes. He’s Wearing A Godstalker And Scrolling A Meershaum Pixel

(1) CONGRATULATIONS. The 2022 Washington State Book Award Winners in the Books For Adults Categories include two by authors often in the news here.

Biography/Memoir

Fiction

(2) WHEN THE BIRD NESTS IN YOUR HEAD. Foz Meadows writes at length about the nature of Twitter interactions, taking as a text the criticisms and accusations made against her by Gretchen Felker-Martin and R.S. Benedict related to comments by Meadows about Isabel Fall and the author’s story “I Sexually Identify as an Attack Helicopter” for which Meadows subsequently apologized — “Twitter, Truth & Apologies”. At the end, Meadows sums up:

…And all too often, even when social media professes to want growth from those it accuses of wrongdoing, what it really wants is a new culprit to feel vindicated about shaming, because that’s easier than weighing up whether you think so-and-so deserves another chance, and whether all your mutuals will agree with you, and if saying so is worth the chance of being called an apologist in the event that they don’t. Being reactive is simpler, easier, but at some point, we have to accept that not all takes require responses, and that if they do, they don’t necessarily have to be ours. If there’s one positive thing I’ve taken out of all this, it’s a desire to be more judicious about how I speak online: to be less knee-jerk, to give less space to opinions that don’t merit discussion, and to try for kinder readings of the works and people around me…

(3) GET YOUR S&S FIX HERE. At Grimdark Magazine, John Mauro reviews the anthology A Book of Blades, edited by Matt John and L.D. Whitney, in which Cora Buhlert has a story.

…I’d also like to mention “The City of the Screaming Pillars,” Cora Buhlert’s quest story of four travelers seeking long-lost treasure in an abandoned city in the middle of the desert. “The City of the Screaming Pillars” starts off as a standard quest story but then dives into much darker Lovecraftian territory…. 

(4) NEAL ADAMS TRIBUTE. [Item by Daniel Dern.] I just saw the 3-page (comic) story they’re talking about in the new issue of Fables (either #153 or #154, IIRC); here’s links to some articles about it.

DC Comics has published a comic paying tribute to legendary artist Neal Adamsfollowing his passing earlier this year. The three-page story, which is called “The Endless Line”, began to be published in all DC titles beginning Tuesday, July 19th, is written by Tom King and drawn by Neal’s son, Josh Adams. The story, which you can check out in a tweet from King below, features snippets from a real-life interview that Adams did with The Comics Journal in 1982, with wisdom that he is bestowing while drawing a sketch for one of his characters, Deadman.

The final page of the story shows a line of other characters that Adams is known for waiting in line for sketches, including Batman, Green Arrow, Black Canary, and Green Lantern. Also included among the story are quotes from some of Adams’ contemporaries and fans, including Jim Lee, Frank Miller, and Roy Thomas, which highlight his prolific work as an artist and advocate for creators’ rights…. 

In April, Bleeding Cool reported the sad news of the deal of comic book publisher, writer, artist and advocate, Neal Adams. From genre-defining runs on Batman, X-Men, Green Arrow and Green Lantern that would define the medium, and heavily influence the TV series and movies that would spin out of it, Neal Adams’ greatest legacy is one of creator rights, fighting for himself and fellow comic book creators against publishers, over rights, royalties, return of artwork and basic human decency. So much so that he even started his own publisher, Continuity Comics, and later his own comic book shop. He also fought creators to value their own contribution, demanding they charge for sketches and then signatures at comic book conventions, as a measure of their worth. 

And here’s a tweet to the full 3-page story!

(5) TALES FROM THE ROOF. In the Washington Post, Mary Quattlebaum interviews comedian George Lopez, who has co-written middle-grade horror novel Chupacarter with Ryan Canejo. “George Lopez, Ryan Calejo blend Latin folklore and laughs in new novel”.

… Like Jorge in the book, Lopez did some of his best thinking as a kid on the roof of his grandparents’ house in Southern California. “I’d sit there and look at the moon and wonder ‘Who am I going to be?’ ” he said.

His grandmother and step-grandfather, who raised him, are the models for Jorge’s loud, tough abuela and gentle abuelo.

Though his abuela didn’t throw empanadas at him, as does Jorge’s grandmother, she “did throw other things,” said Lopez with a laugh.

Calejo’s abuelas told him stories of frightening chupacabras and other legendary creatures to entertain and keep him out of mischief, Calejo said by phone from his home in Miami, Florida.

These tales inspired the first story he remembers writing in elementary school. It was about a protective doglike spirit known as el cadejo….

(6) ELLISON COMMEMORATION. “Troublemaker, Malcontent, Desperado: A Celebration of the Life and Legacy of Harlan Ellison” will be hosted by the Ohio Center for the Book at Cleveland Public Library on September 17. [Warning: The downloadable 2007 booklet is a 238MB PDF file.]

The Ohio Center for the Book, in collaboration with Cleveland State University and Celebrating Cleveland’s Past Masters*, are honoring the life and legacy of Harlan Ellison: speculative fiction author, screenwriter, social critic, and self-described “troublemaker, malcontent, desperado” on Saturday, Sept. 17, 1:00 pm at Cleveland Public Library’s Louis Stokes Wing, 2nd floor, 525 Superior Avenue in downtown Cleveland.

The event commemorates the 15th anniversary of Ellison’s last public appearance in his hometown of Cleveland when he participated in the 2007 Midwest premiere of the biographical documentary Dreams with Sharp Teeth in the auditorium of Cleveland Public Library.

Click here to download a high-resolution PDF of the 2007 program booklet, A Tribute to Harlan Ellison, with appreciations, congratulations, and “short stories” from Daniel Pinkwater, Stuart Kaminsky, Marv Wolfman, Michael Moorcock, Leonard Maltin, Eric Shanower, Leo and Diane Dillon, Steven Barnes and Tananarive Due, Richard Matheson, David Twohy, and many, many others!

(7) BEST OF THE BEST. The Unofficial Hugo Book Club Blog says next year’s Hugo ballot is already filled to overflowing with deserving media. Thread starts here.

(8) A DAUGHTER’S MEMOIR. “Emma Straub Remembers Her Father, Peter Straub” at Vulture. Andrew Porter sent the link with a note about his missed opportunity: “I confirmed that he was living in the Watermark, the assisted living facility in the former Towers Hotel, literally half a block from where I live… Wish I’d known; I’ve have visited him there.”

When I gave my father the pile of pages that would become my novel This Time Tomorrow, he quickly thumbed to the back and asked, “What page do I die on?” This was a joke and also not a joke. In the book, he (“he” being Leonard Stern, the fictional father in my novel) dies on page 301. In real life, off the page, my father, Peter Straub, died on September 4, 2022. In the book, Leonard dies in his bedroom at home with his daughter, her stepmother, and his nurse. In real life, my father died in the windowless ICU hospital room he’d been stuck in for a month, most of that time doing fairly well, recovering from a fractured hip and sitting up, reading books and watching MSNBC, just as he would have at home. My mother and brother and I were by his side, and I held his hand. It started very slowly — what page do we begin to die on, any of us — and, mercifully, ended fast….

(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.  

1974 [By Cat Eldridge.] Forty-eight years ago this evening Kolchak: The Night Stalker first aired on ABC. It was preceded by The Night Stalker and The Night Strangler films, both written by Richard Matheson. 

It was based off a novel by Jeff Rice who Mike has some thoughts about here.

It was remade seventeen years ago as The Night Stalker with Stuart Townsend as Carl Kolchak. It lasted ten episodes. It was set in Los Angeles. Need I say more? 

Let’s talk about Darren McGavin for a moment. He was perfect for this role. Though only fifty-two when the series was shot, he looked a decade older and quite beat up. That suit he wore could have been acquired second hand. Or fourth hand. And that hat — I wonder how many they had in props that were exactly identical. 

The actor himself had certainly had some interesting times with four divorces by then, and this was not his first time portraying a world-weary investigator. He was the title character in the short-lived Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer series in the Fifties. It lasted a year.

Now Kolchak: The Night Stalker did not break the pattern of having a beautiful woman around as it had Carol Ann Susi as the recurring character of semi-competent but likable intern Monique Marmelstein in a recurring role.

And I really liked the characters of his boss, Tony Vincenzo as played by Simon Oakland, who was quite bellicose and had no clue of what Kolchak was doing. Good thing that was, too. 

Ahhh the monsters. Some were SF, sort of — a murderous android, an invisible ET, a prehistoric ape-man grown from thawed cell samples, and a lizard-creature protecting its eggs. Then there was the fantastic ones — a Jack the Ripper, a headless motorcycle rider, vampires, werewolves, witches and zombies to name but a few he tangled with. 

It has become a cult favorite which currently carries a not surprising ninety-four percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes but it was a ratings failure complicated by Darren McGavin being unwilling to do more episodes and only lasted one season before being cancelled.  

Chris Carter who credits the series as the primary inspiration for The X-Files wanted McGavin to appear as Kolchak in one or more episodes of that series, but McGavin was unwilling to reprise the character for his show. He did appear on the series as retired FBI agent very obviously attired in Kolchak’s trademark seersucker jacket, black knit tie, and straw hat.

C.J. Henderson, who won a World Fantasy Award for his Sarob Press, wrote three Night Stalker novels  — Kolchak and the Lost WorldKolchak: Necronomicon and What Every Coin Has. There have been other novels and shorts published. Three unfilmed scripts for the TV series have survived, “Eve of Terror”, written by Stephen Lord, “The Get of Belial”, written by Donn Mullally, and “The Executioners”, written by Max Hodge.

Let’s see if it streaming anywhere… It is streaming on NBC of course. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 13, 1916 Roald Dahl. Did you know he wrote the screenplay for You Only Live Twice? Or that he hosted and wrote for a sf and horror television anthology series called Way Out which aired before The Twilight Zone for a season? He also hosted Roald Dahl’s Tales of the Unexpected broadcast in the UK.  My favorite Dahl works are The BFG and The Witches. What’s yours? (Died 1990.)
  • Born September 13, 1920 John Crawford. He appeared in The Twilight Zone’s “A Hundred Yards Over the Rim” as Joe. He was also Harrison in the early Fifties pulp The Invisible Monster.  Interestingly he was Roth in Zombies of the Stratosphere which was supposed to be a Commando Cody serial but got changed for reasons unknown. And late in his career, he was Polydeukes in Jason and the Argonauts. (Died 2010.)
  • Born September 13, 1931 Barbara Bain, 91. She’s most remembered for co-starring in the original Mission: Impossible television series in the 1960s as Cinnamon Carter, and Space: 1999 as Doctor Helena Russell.  Her first genre role was as Alma in the “KAOS in CONTROL” episode of Get Smart! She was active as of last year as showed in the Space Command series as Auut Simone in the “Ripple Effect” episode. 
  • Born September 13, 1933 Warren Murphy. Ok, I’ll admit that I’m most likely stretching the definition of genre just a bit by including him as he’s best known for writing along with Richard Sapir the pulp Destroyer series that ran to some seventy novels and was (making it possibly genre) the basis of Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins.  He did a number of other series that were more definitely genre. (Died 2015.)
  • Born September 13, 1937 Don Bluth, 85. Animator of quite some note. In his career, he’s been involved in some manner with Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too, the Fantastic Voyage series, the Archie series (seriously) Will the Real Jerry Lewis Please Sit Down series (again seriously) The Secret of NIMHAn American TailThe Land Before TimeAnastasia and Titan A.E. 
  • Born September 13, 1944 Jacqueline Bisset, 78. I never pass up a Bond performance and so she’s got on the Birthday Honors by being Giovanna Goodthighs in Casino Royale even though that might have been one of the dumbest character names ever. As near as I can tell, until she shows up in as Charlotte Burton in the “Love the Lie” episode of the Counterpart series that’s her entire encounter with genre acting. Genre adjacent, she appeared in the Albert Finney fronted Murder on the Orient Express as Countess Helena Andrenyi. 
  • Born September 13, 1947 Mike Grell, 75. He’s best known for his work on books such as Green Lantern/Green ArrowThe Warlord, and Jon Sable FreelanceThe Warlord featuring Travis Morgan is a hollow Earth adventure series set in Skartaris which is a homage to Jules Verne as Grell points out “the name comes from the mountain peak Scartaris that points the way to the passage to the earth’s core in Journey to the Center of the Earth. The animated Justice League Unlimited “Chaos at the Earth’s Core“ episode made use of this story. 
  • Born September 13, 1974 Fiona Avery, 48. Comic book and genre series scriptwriter. While being a reference editor on the final season of Babylon 5, she wrote “The Well of Forever” and “Patterns of the Soul” as well as two that were not produced, “Value Judgements” and “Tried and True”. After work on the Crusade series ended, she turned to comic book writing, working for Marvel and Top Cow with J. Michael Straczynski’s Rising Stars series being another place where her scripts were used. She created the Marvel character Anya Sofia Corazon later named Spider-girl. She did work on Tomb RaiderSpider-ManX-Men and Witchblade as well.

(11) MIRACLEMAN. Neil Gaiman and Mark Buckingham’s unfinished storyline “The Silver Age” begins October 19.  

 In the late 80s, Neil Gaiman and Mark Buckingham took over the saga of Miracleman to critical acclaim. The pair of comic visionaries expanded the Miracleman mythos with new characters and introduced the story of Young Miracleman. Their series was cut short mid-storyline almost 30 years ago, but now their Miracleman: The Silver Age saga will finally be completed! MIRACLEMAN BY GAIMAN & BUCKINGHAM: THE SILVER AGE #1 and MIRACLEMAN BY GAIMAN & BUCKINGHAM: THE SILVER AGE #2 will present the early chapters of the story that made it to stands but with stunning new remastered artwork by Buckingham and containing bonus content! And then, starting in December’s MIRACLEMAN: THE SILVER AGE #3, all-new material by Neil Gaiman and Mark Buckingham will at long last, continue this legendary comic story!

(12) SEARCHING FOR INTELLIGENT LIFE. Carl Sagan tells the BBC in 1967 how to send a message to outer space that extraterrestrials could understand. “Where Is Everybody?”

(13) MORE DISNEY SEQUEL MANIA. Disney revives the National Treasure franchise but without Nic Cage. National Treasure: Edge Of History Official Trailer”.

Jess Morales, a 20-year-old Dreamer, sets off on an exploration to discover the mystery of her family history, and, with the help of her friends, seeks to recover historical lost treasure.

(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Thor: Love and Thunder,” the Screen Junkies say this film has “the joke rate of Family Guy” (including playing Jane Foster’s fatal pancreatic cancer for laughs) with “the look of that time you shroomed at Dave and Busters.”  Chris Hemsworth, who has played Thor ten times in eight years, struggles to come up with something new, and few will be excited by the “100 screaming goat jokes.”

[Thanks to Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Cora Buhlert, N., 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 Andrew (not Werdna).]

Pixel Scroll 9/10/22 The Risk of Repeating Scroll Titles is Real

(1) EKPEKI ALSO THREATENED BEFORE CHICON 8. Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki today said that he was the second person, in addition to Patrick Tomlinson, who received death threats about attending the 2022 Worldcon (see “Chicon 8 Reveals Anonymous Death Threats Were Made Against Two Program Participants”).

Ekpeki wrote on Facebook:

Said participants were Patrick Tomlinson & myself. Been getting death threats before this, warning me not to attend Chicon 8 – Chicago Worldcon 2022. I was informed of the new threats & steps to keep things secure. Which was reassuring. I in turn did my panels and enjoyed the event immensely.

All in all, it was an amazing event, my 1st physical SFF con. Thanks to the organizers, volunteers, panelists, participants, all who donated funds & voices, to crowdfund, clamour, and ensure bigoted systems & persons did not prevail in this case. See ya’ll in perhaps another Chicon, WorldCon, soon, hopefully.

(2) ATTENTION FANZINE COLLECTORS. The “Massive Archive of Fanzines from the Golden Age” that belonged to the late Donald Day (1909-1978) is being offered for $150,000. If you can’t write the check, you can at least drool over the examples in the 77-page announcement. Where else will you see hand-stenciled cover art by Ray Bradbury? (Page 63.)

An immense archive of over 3,000 original fanzines and ephemera, mostly from the late 1930s to mid/ late-1950s– the years when scifi fandom was a close[1]knit group of correspondents, before the scifi boom expanded its audience. A small percentage of later fanzines (from mid ’50s to the 1970s) are included, but the collection is primarily rooted in the Golden Era of Science-Fiction, from the late 1930s and 1940s. This archive shows the highly-organized and sophisticated world of mid-20th century fandom fandom, made up of far-flung individuals who had found one another by reaching out to into the ether, united by their love of dreaming of the future, while using present day printing technology and speaking to each other through DIY-publishing. While mostly published in America, some fanzines hail from the United Kingdom, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Australia, and Mexico.

(3) TAKE I-5 TO D23. “’Indiana Jones 5′: Harrison Ford Shows New Footage at D23” reports Variety. The clip is not available online yet.

The king of adventure is back once again.

Indiana Jones 5” showed its first trailer on Saturday during the D23 Expo. Although it was not released online, Harrison Ford appeared onstage to speak about the footage, joined by director James Mangold and co-star Phoebe Waller-Bridge.

“Thank you for making these films such an incredible experience for all of us,” he said, looking quite emotional. “I’m very proud to say to say that this one is fantastic. [Points at Waller-Bridge] And this is one of the reasons.”

“‘Indiana Jones’ movies are about fantasy and mystery, but they’re also about heart,” he continued. “We have a really great story to tell, as well as a movie that will kick your ass.”…

(4) DID TOLKIEN KNOW? Jeff LaSala is hot on the trail of the answer to the question “Where in the World Is Galadriel in the Second Age? (And For That Matter, Where Is Celeborn?)” at Tor.com.

…It could be asked, who has it in for Sauron the most? Where? And with what? Was it the Lady of the Golden Wood, in the Lórinand Conservatory, with the Lead Pipe?…

(5) GAIMAN WILL PRESENT. “Art Spiegelman to Receive NBF Lifetime Achievement Award” at Publishers Weekly.

The National Book Foundation will honor Art Spiegelman with the 2022 Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. Spiegelman is the first comic artist to receive the DCAL medal, which will be presented to him by author Neil Gaiman at the National Book Awards Ceremony on November 16.

(6) YOU COULD BE MULTITASKING IN ENGLAND. [Item by Dave Lally.] The Science Museum in London will host “Science Fiction: Voyage to the Edge of Imagination” from October 6, 2022 through May 4, 2023. (Science Museum, Exhibition Road, London SW7 2DD, UK.) This major SF exhibition follows on from similar (and very successful) ones earlier in the UK (one in The British Library and then, a few years later, one in The Barbican Centre).

And if visiting the UK from overseas and between the Exhibition dates above, this Science Museum London event may be of interest. And one could ‘kill two birds with one stone’, by combining it with the annual UK National SF Con-Eastercon in NEC, Birmingham in April 2023 (*). You’ll be made very welcome. [ (*) UK annual National SF Con: Conversation 2023, the 2023 Eastercon. Fri 7 – Mon 10 April 2023 inclusive. Hilton Metropole Hotel, NEC (National Exhibition Centre), Birmingham B40 1PP, UK.]

[Nearest UK Rail Station: Birmingham International (“BI”) – NOT Birmingham New Street. Inter-City express trains (Avanti West Coast) from London Euston Rail Station (above London Tube Station: Euston). Journey time: ~ 1hr 35 min.] 

“If visiting but not during Eastercon, the UK-based, multi-Hugo Award winning sf-newszine Ansible usually carries a listing of many UK (plus other country) Cons. One could then combine such Con attendance with a visit to the Exhibition. (Ansible Editor is of course SF legend Dave Langford.)”

And the regular monthly London SF Meeting happens every 1st Thursday of the month: 1800->closing time. (total informality). Top Floor (private) Bar: THE BISHOPS FINGER (real/craft ales pub +hot food), West Smithfield, London EC1A 9JR. Overseas, passing-though/visiting fen, very welcome. Order food and drink downstairs on ground floor (bring your drink up with you — your food order is delivered to you upstairs later). 

(7) SHELVES FULL OF CRIME. Martin Edwards leads “A Deep Dive Into the History of Bibliomysteries” at CrimeReads. One example even bears a touch of sff.

…A later and more sophisticated variant on the same theme is to be found in John Franklin Bardin’s The Last of Philip Banter (1947). The eponymous Banter is an advertising man with marriage trouble and a drink problem. He finds a typed manuscript on his office desk, apparently typed by himself, which confuses past and future. It describes what is going to happen as though it had happened already. Then the “predictions” start to come true…

(8) GIBSON ADAPTATION. Ars Technica admires the way “William Gibson’s novel comes to vivid life in first teaser for The Peripheral”. The makers of Westworld are involved. Beware spoilers in article.

A young woman struggling to hold it together in small-town America finds herself witness to what may or may not be a murder in the first teaser for The Peripheral, a new Prime Video series based on William Gibson’s 2014 novel of the same name.

The YouTube blurb says:

The Peripheral centers on Flynne Fisher, a woman trying to hold together the pieces of her broken family in a forgotten corner of tomorrow’s America. Flynne is smart, ambitious, and doomed. She has no future. Until the future comes calling for her. The Peripheral is master storyteller William Gibson’s dazzling, hallucinatory glimpse into the fate of mankind — and what lies beyond. Flynne Fisher lives in the rural American South, working at the local 3D printing shop, while earning much needed extra money playing VR games for rich people. One night she dons a headset and finds herself in futuristic London—a sleek and mysterious world, alluringly different from her own hardscrabble existence. But this isn’t like any game she’s ever played before: Flynne begins to realize it isn’t virtual reality… it’s real. Someone in London, seventy years in the future, has found a way to open a door to Flynne’s world. And as utterly beguiling as London is… it’s also dangerous. As Flynne searches to discover who has connected their worlds, and for what purpose, her presence here sets dangerous forces into motion…forces intent on destroying Flynne and her family in her own world.

(9) MEMORY LANE.  

1977 [By Cat Eldridge.] Don’t worry if you never heard of this Saturday morning series that lasted one season forty-five years ago on NBC. Hardly anyone else did either as the ratings were truly awful. Space Sentinels was originally titled Young Sentinels, renamed for somewhat obvious reasons midway through its only season of thirteen episodes.

It was directed by Hal Sutherland who was an animator and painter who began his career at Disney in the Fifties working on Sleeping Beauty, Lady and the Tramp and Peter Pan

Now I’ve not a clue who created the series as no one claims credit for it. Hmmm. Create by numbers? 

It was produced by Filmation. Genre wise, they were busy doing such animated series as The New Adventures of Superman, The Adventures of Superboy, and the live action Fantastic Voyage.

Need I say that it had as characters two handsome males and one beautiful female? Seriously it did. Only this time she was black. And she was the field leader of the team. Could this be the influence of Star Trek? And two males who, like her, were supposed to be modeled on ancient Greek and Roman deities, though it was set millennia in the future and far, far away, competed for her favors. This being a children’s series nothing happened.

Remember that I mentioned they changed the name of the series? Oopsy. Unfortunately, the series was in the can and the dialogue could not be altered as this is pre-digital, so the characters are sometimes addressed as being the Young Sentinels but never the Space Sentinels.

It has no rating at Rotten Tomatoes. JustWatch says it is not streaming anywhere. It was released on DVD sixteen years along with all five episodes of The Freedom Force. It goes from fifty-five dollars upwards as eBay and Esty. 

In the image below, the three principal characters are on the left. Having not watched the series, I’ve no idea who the three characters are to the right but note the matching belts, a sure give-away! 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 10, 1898 Bessie Love. She’s best remembered for The Lost World, filmed in 1925, which was the very first screen adaptation of the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle novel and which he was involved in. She was Paula White. You know, the beautiful woman who must be there?  I can’t see checking IMDB that she did any other genre films. Did she? (Died 1986.)
  • Born September 10, 1951 Harry Groener, 71. One of those performers who shows up in multiple Trek series, in his case it was The Next Generation where he was Elbrun on the “Tin Man” episode, Voyager where he was The Magistrate on the “Sacred Ground” episode and finally he appeared on Enterprise as Nathan Samuels in two episodes, “Demons” and “Terra Prime”, and would have a novel written based around him, The Good That Men Do
  • Born September 10, 1952 Gerry Conway, 70. Writer who’s best known for co-creating with John Romita Sr. and Ross Andru the Punisher character and scripting the death of Gwen Stacy during his long run on The Amazing Spider-Man. (The Punisher comic is far, far better than any the three films is. I broke my vow of not watching anything I like and deeply regret it. I really mean that.) I’m also fond of his work on Weird Western Tales at DC. A truly odd and deeply entertaining series. 
  • Born September 10, 1953 Pat Cadigan, 69. Tea from an Empty Cup and Dervish is Digital are both amazing works. And I’m fascinated that she co-wrote with Paul Dini, creator of Batman: The Animated Series, a DCU novel called Harley Quinn: Mad Love. In many ways, it was better than the damn series is which I’ll discuss with anyone here. 
  • Born September 10, 1953 Amy Irving, 69. She has major genre credits, having her feature film debut in Brian De Palma’s Carrie in the Seventies followed by a lead role in two years later in The Fury, a supernatural thriller.  (I will confess that I’ve seen neither.) She’d play Katie in Rumpelstiltskin, before having the major role of the singing voice of Jessica in Who Framed Roger Rabbit? a few years later. Did you know there was a series called Twilight Zone: Rod Serling’s Lost Classics? She appeared in it.
  • Born September 10, 1955 Victoria Strauss, 67. Author of the Burning Land trilogy, she should be praised for being founder along with AC Crispin of the Committee on Writing Scams. She maintains the Writer Beware website and blog. 
  • Born September 10, 1959 Nancy A. Collins, 63. Author of the Sonja Blue vampire novels, some of the best of that genre I’ve ever had the pleasure to read. She had a long run on Swamp Thing from issues 110 to 138, and it is generally considered a very good period in that narrative.  I certainly enjoyed that period. She also wrote Vampirella, the Forrest J Ackerman and Trina Robbins creation, for awhile.
  • Born September 10, 1964 — Chip Kidd, 58. Graphic designer. And isn’t that an understatement. He did Batman: Death by Design which was illustrated by Dave Taylor, and there’s his amazing homage to Plastic Man with Art Spiegelman, Jack Cole and Plastic Man: Forms Stretched to Their Limits. He also created the Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton design for the original Jurassic park novel which was later carried over into the film franchise. Neat. Really neat.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) RACE IN TOLKIEN. [Item by Nick Hudson.] A paper by Charles Mills (influential philosopher, especially on race) on Tolkien, “The Wretched of Middle‐Earth: An Orkish Manifesto”, was just published posthumously after long being thought lost. It was probably written in the late 80s so dated as far as Tolkien scholarship goes, but it’s currently free to read.  Also, some background on the paper: “Introduction to Charles Mills’s ‘The Wretched of Middle‐Earth: An Orkish Manifesto’”.

(13) CHILLERCON. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] SF2 Concatenation has just advance Tweeted a convention report on Chillercon ahead of its seasonal edition. Ian Hunter reports on Chillercon UK. The event had been previously cancelled a number of times due to CoVID. 

There were almost 300 attending to see four guests of honour: Gollancz Editor Gillian Redfearn who was being interviewed by her husband, horror writer, Joe Hill; American horror writer, Grady Hendrix; author and critic, Kim Newman who is one of my favourite writers whose works adorn several shelves in Hunter Towers; and the film-maker, producer, director, and screenplay writer, Mick Garris, whose many credits include directing the TV versions of The Shining and The Stand, as well as directing other Stephen King “stuff”. There were also two special guests in the shape of writer M. R. (Mike) Carey, and actor Robert Lloyd Parry who did a reading and also performed on the Saturday night as M. R. James.

Chillercon 2022 guests.

(14) WHEN TOLKIEN MET THE QUEEN. The One Ring recently celebrated the 50th anniversary of J.R.R Tolkien receiving the OBE. (The photo at the link [left] is cropped to show Tolkien and a woman, which I guess we are supposed to think is him next to Queen Elizabeth when she was younger. However, the full photo [right] reveals we’re actually looking at Tolkien flanked by his son John and daughter Priscilla.)

September 8

50 years ago – in 1972 – Queen Elizabeth II appointed JRR Tolkien Commander of the Order of the British Empire “for services to English Literature.”

She was 11 when The Hobbit was published, and The Lord of the Rings hit bookstores two years into her reign.

Tolkien wrote to his publisher Rayner Unwin about the day, Letter 334 “But I was very deeply moved by my brief meeting with the Queen, & our few words together. Quite unlike anything that I had expected.”

After everything he had lived through, and all the fairy stories he had written, meeting the Queen was a special moment for him.

(15) TUNE TIME. Author Amy Sterling Casil sings as part of “Bruce & Amy – Guitar and Vocals”. Enjoy a video of them performing here.

Philly Meets LA! Bruce arranges songs and plays guitar, Amy sings – rock, country, blues/soul …

(16) HULKING OUT. SYFY Wire introduces clip: “Daredevil meets ‘She-Hulk’ in new trailer setting up Season 1”.

…Matt seems to be encouraging Jenn about being a hero in both the courtroom and on the streets, and if there’s anyone qualified to help her along that path, it’s Hell’s Kitchen hero turned legal expert himself. There also seems to be a bit of a … spark between the two. Just imagine it — Walters, Nelson & Murdock has a pretty nice right to it, right?

(17) RETURN TO SALEM. You ate the cereal:  now see the movie! Hocus Pocus 2 Official Trailer”.

(18) DISENCHANTED. This sequel to Enchanted is coming to Disney+ in November.

(19) LIVE ACTION LITTLE MERMAID. It’s been a busy weekend at D23, or had you noticed?

“The Little Mermaid,” visionary filmmaker Rob Marshall’s live-action reimagining of the studio’s Oscar®-winning animated musical classic, opens exclusively in theaters nationwide May 26, 2023. “The Little Mermaid” is the beloved story of Ariel, a beautiful and spirited young mermaid with a thirst for adventure. The youngest of King Triton’s daughters, and the most defiant, Ariel longs to find out more about the world beyond the sea, and while visiting the surface, falls for the dashing Prince Eric. While mermaids are forbidden to interact with humans, Ariel must follow her heart. She makes a deal with the evil sea witch, Ursula, which gives her a chance to experience life on land, but ultimately places her life – and her father’s crown – in jeopardy.

[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Nick Hudson, Rob Thornton, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Dave Lally, Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jamoche with an assist from Anna Nimmhaus.]

Pixel Scroll 9/6/22 All Of The Riverworld Ramblers Are Losing Their Grails

(1) A LITTLE SMACK. Deadline takes notes as “Neil Gaiman Slaps Back At Elon Musk For Criticizing ‘LOTR: The Rings Of Power’”.

…Gaiman’s comment came after Musk slammed Amazon’s LOTR: The Rings Of Power, saying “Tolkien is turning over his grave,” as Musk is attempting to exit his proposed $44BN takeover of Twitter and amid an ongoing feud with Amazon founder and executive chairman Jeff Bezos.

(2) DANISH AUTHOR IN NY. The Community Bookstore in Brooklyn, NY will host “Olga Ravn presents ‘The Employees’” on Friday, September 30 at 6:00 p.m. Eastern. Tickets for sale at the link.

Shortlisted for the International Booker prize, and the Ursula K. Le Guin Prize, The Employees reshuffles a sci-fi voyage into a riotously original existential nightmare.

Olga Ravn’s prose is chilling, crackling, exhilarating, and foreboding. The Employees probes into what makes us human, while delivering a hilariously stinging critique of life governed by the logic of productivity.

(3) FREE READ. Sunday Morning Transport offers a free story: “About what you keep, what you mend, and what you throw away,” by Elizabeth Bear: “The Part You Throw Away”.

(4) SOURCES OF TERROR. Meg Elison promotes her new novel Number One Fan on CrimeReads.“Why Are Stories of Captivity and Abduction So Extraordinarily Terrifying?”

…Part of the reason for the power of captivity is something called the “castle doctrine.” This is an underpinning of law, dating back to the English document known as the Magna Carta. This concept and subsequent iterations of law made the home a sacrosanct place, providing the bedrock from which we derive our rights to deny search and seizure without a warrant, to remove anyone we wish from our homes, and to defend ourselves at home using force, including deadly force. This concept and the laws formed around it make any domicile, even a van or a bus a person might live in, a legally protected place that no one may enter or inspect without cause and (usually) a judicial order. As much as this is a crucial piece of our right to privacy (but not in your own womb! ha!) it also shrouds and protects perpetrators of home-based violence: domestic and child abuse, incest, and this kind of home-grown captivity….

(5) BRITISH ACADEMY BOOK PRIZE. The shortlist for the British Academy Book Prize for Global Cultural Understanding 2022 is comprised of six books. The international book prize, worth £25,000, rewards and celebrates the best works of non-fiction that have contributed to public understanding of world cultures and their interaction.

  • The Invention of Miracles: Language, Power, and Alexander Graham Bell’s Quest to End Deafness by Katie Booth (Scribe UK)
  • Aftermath: Life in the Fallout of the Third Reich by Harald Jähner (WH Allen/Ebury Publishing)
  • Osebol: Voices from a Swedish Village by Marit Kapla (Allen Lane)
  • Horizons: A Global History of Science by James Poskett (Viking)
  • When Women Kill: Four Crimes Retold by Alia Trabucco Zerán (And Other Stories)
  • Kingdom of Characters: A Tale of Language, Obsession, and Genius in Modern China by Jing Tsu (Allen Lane)

(6) WORLDCON CHAIRS PHOTO SESSION. Recorded at Chicon 8.

(7) PETER STRAUB (1943-2022). Author Peter Straub died September 4 at the age of 79. The New York Times obituary is here. The Guardian notes that Straub’s many novels ranged from his debut horror novel Julia in 1975 – later filmed as The Haunting of Julia – to the 2010 novel A Dark Matter and The Talisman, which he co-wrote with Stephen King.

He told Salon in 2016, “I like the worst characters, I like the villain. You can almost always tell there’s a lot of imaginative sympathy for them on my part. Once I start thinking about how they got that way I feel empathy and compassion. I don’t want to kill them off.” 

Straub won four World Fantasy Awards and ten Bram Stoker Awards. He received World Fantasy and Bram Stoker Life Achievement awards, was named an International Horror Guilds Living Legend, and a World Horror Grandmaster.

(8) MEMORY LANE.  

1999 [By Cat Eldridge.]  Speaking of most stellar novels, there’s the matter of Neil Gaiman’s Stardust. There are two novels that I think Gaiman did really well, this and Neverwhere. This is his best novel and I’ll say why now. (Me? Opinionated? Why yes!) 

SPOILERS ABOUND LIKE SPRITES IN THE MOONLIGHT

Stardust was written twenty-three years ago, starting off with the story set in late April 1839, as John William Draper had just photographed the Moon and Charles Dickens was serializing Oliver Twist, but almost all of the book takes place seventeen years later, starting around October 1856.

The novel set in the village of Wall. Once every nine years an opening to Fairy occurs on All Hallows’ Eve. Naturally a young man will fall in love with what he thinks is a young woman. Who isn’t. Really she isn’t. Trust me on this plot point. 

We have really evil witch-queens, near immortal rulers of vast castles delightfully named Stormhold, quests to the end of the world or nearly so. All deliciously told by Gaiman as though it was a fairy tale. There’s even unicorns. And pirates! 

Yes, and true love won out in the end as it should. 

END OF SPOILERS. NO MORE SPOILERS FOR NOW. MAYBE.

The best edition of this book is the one illustrated by Charles Vess that should’ve won a Hugo but didn’t. Nor did Stardust itself. The film did win one most deservingly at Denvention 3.  Oh and Neil himself narrates the audio version! 

I’ve read both the unadorned text version and the version with Vess artwork, or listened to it, at least a half dozen times now, and it always delights me every time that I do. No, I’ve not seen the film, nor will I ever see it following my long standing policy of never seeing any video version of books that I really, really like. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 6, 1904 Groff Conklin. He edited some forty anthologies of genre fiction starting with The Best of Science Fiction from Crown Publishers in 1946 to Seven Trips Through Time and Space on Fawcett Gold in 1968. The contents are a mix of the obscure and well known as Heinlein, Niven, Simak, Dahl, Sturgeon, Lovecraft and Bradbury show up there. (Died 1968.)
  • Born September 6, 1943 Roger Waters, 79. Ok Pink Floyd is definitely genre and I’m no longer doing any substances that aid in my judgement thereof. The Wall of course. And The Division Bell with its themes of communication. And Happy Birthday Roger!
  • Born September 6, 1946 Hal Haag. Baltimore-area fan who found fandom in the early Eighties and who chaired Balticon 25 and Balticon 35 and worked on Balticon and quite a number of regionals. He Co-founded BWSMOF (Baltimore/Washington SMOFs) along with Inge Heyer from Shore Leave, a regional organization whose purpose it is to discuss running regional conventions of all types. The Baltimore Science Fiction Society put together a very touching memorial site which you can see here. (Died 2006.)
  • Born September 6, 1953 Patti Yasutake, 69. Best-known for her portrayal of Nurse Alyssa Ogawa in the Trek universe where she had a recurring role on Next Generation and showed up in Star Trek Generations and Star Trek First Contact. In doing these Birthdays, I consult a number of sites. Several of them declared that her character ended her time as a Doctor. Not true but made for a nice coda on her story.
  • Born September 6, 1972 China Miéville, 50. My favorite novels by him? The City & The City is the one I’ve re-read the most, followed closely by Kraken. Scariest by him? Oh, that’d King Rat by a long shot.  And I’ll admit the dialect he used in Un Lun Dun frustrated me enough that I gave up on it. I’ll hold strongly that the New Crobuzon series doesn’t date as well as some of his other fiction does. His Hugo history is a one long one. His first nomination at ConJosé for Perdido Street Station was followed by The Scar at Torcon 3. He picked up another nomination at interaction for Iron Council, and his only win at Aussiecon 4 for The City & The City which was shared Paolo Bacigalupi’s The Windup Girl. He has two more nominations to date, Embassytown at Chicon 7 and “This Census-Taker” novella at Worldcon 75. 
  • Born September 6, 1958 Michael Winslow, 64. Though he might bear notice as the comically voiced Radar Technician in Space Balls, I’m more interested that his first genre role of significance was giving voice to Mogwai, and the other gremlins in Gremlins, a role he didn’t reprise for the second Gremlins film. 
  • Born September 6, 1972 Idris Elba, 50. Heimdall in the Thor franchise, as well as the Avengers franchise. First genre role was as Captain Janek in Ridley Scott’s Prometheus and later he was in Pacific Rim as Stacker Pentecost. And let’s not forget him as the Big Bad as Krall in Star Trek: Beyond
  • Born September 6, 1976 Robin Atkin Downes, 46. Though he’s made his living being a voice actor in myriad video games and animated series, one of his first acting roles was as the rogue telepath Byron on Babylon 5. He later shows up as the Demon of Illusion in the “Chick Flick” episode of Charmed and he’s got an uncredited though apparently known role as Pockla in the “Dead End” episode of Angel. Ditto for Repo Men as well. He does get as the voice of Edward in Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters.
  • Born September 6, 1976 Naomie Harris, 46. She’s Eve Moneypenny in SkyfallSpectre and  No Time to Die. This was the first time Moneypenny had a first name.  No word if she’ll be in Bullets for Winter, the next Bond film which has been announced.  She also appeared in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End as Tia Dalma. In the Marvel Universe, she was Frances Barrison / Shriek in the Spider-Man centric Venom: Let There Be Carnage. And lastly I’ll note she played Elizabeth Lavenza in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein at the National Theatre.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

(11) THE WINNER GETS A T-SHIRT. Joe Stech will begin giving the Compelling Science Fiction Appreciation Award every month. See what it takes to win.

Ever since Compelling Science Fiction stopped publishing short stories I’ve been looking for ways to engage with the science fiction community that don’t involve me reading a submission queue of 500 stories/month. I’m still thinking about different approaches, but in the meantime I’m announcing a fun project: every month I’m going to send a t-shirt to the author that writes the short story that scores the highest on the set of axes that best represent Compelling Science Fiction (plausibility/novelty/entertainment).

(12) COMPELLING SCIENCE FICTION T-SHIRT DESIGN POLL. Joe Stech is also going to print up some more of the original Compelling Science Fiction shirts, but also wants to create a new design.

Below are eight different astronaut designs that I think reflect Compelling Science Fiction’s lack of taking itself too seriously, and I’d love it if you’d tell me your favorite. Please ask your friends too, if your friends have good taste! Here’s the poll.

(13) A TRUCE WITH BEAVERS. [Item by Daniel Dern.] My favorite informative fact from the article: “They’re wild, swimming rodents the size of basset hounds.” “It Was War. Then, a Rancher’s Truce With Some Pesky Beavers Paid Off.”

Horace Smith blew up a lot of beaver dams in his life.

A rancher here in northeastern Nevada, he waged war against the animals, frequently with dynamite. Not from meanness or cruelty; it was a struggle over water. Mr. Smith blamed beavers for flooding some parts of his property, Cottonwood Ranch, and drying out others.

But his son Agee, who eventually took over the ranch, is making peace. And he says welcoming beavers to work on the land is one of the best things he’s done.

“They’re very controversial still,” said Mr. Smith, whose father died in 2014. “But it’s getting better. People are starting to wake up.”

As global warming intensifies droughts, floods and wildfires, Mr. Smith has become one of a growing number of ranchers, scientists and other “beaver believers” who see the creatures not only as helpers, but as furry weapons of climate resilience.

Last year, when Nevada suffered one of the worst droughts on record, beaver pools kept his cattle with enough water. When rains came strangely hard and fast, the vast network of dams slowed a torrent of water raging down the mountain, protecting his hay crop. And with the beavers’ help, creeks have widened into wetlands that run through the sagebrush desert, cleaning water, birthing new meadows and creating a buffer against wildfires.

…“We need to get beavers back to work,” Wade Crowfoot, California’s secretary of natural resources, said in a webinar this year. “Full employment for beavers.” (Beaver believers like to note that the animals work for free.)…

(4) VERY CAREFULLY. “Once they had breathed our air, germs which no longer affect us began to kill them. The end came swiftly. All over the world, their machines began to stop and fall.” You know where that line comes from. And we don’t want to be on the receiving end. “To Prevent a Martian Plague, NASA Needs to Build a Very Special Lab” reports the New York Times.  

…“It is possible that on Mars there are pathogens,” [Carl Sagan] wrote, “organisms which, if transported to the terrestrial environment, might do enormous biological damage — a Martian plague.”

Michael Crichton imagined a related scenario in his novel “The Andromeda Strain.”

Such situations, in which extraterrestrial samples contain dangerous tagalong organisms, are examples of backward contamination, or the risk of material from other worlds harming Earth’s biosphere.

“The likelihood that such pathogens exist is probably small,” Sagan wrote, “but we cannot take even a small risk with a billion lives.”

Scientists have long considered Sagan’s warnings in mostly hypothetical terms. But over the approaching decade, they will start to act concretely on backward contamination risks. NASA and the European Space Agency are gearing up for a shared mission called Mars Sample Return. A rover on the red planet is currently scooping up material that will be collected by other spacecraft and eventually returned to Earth.

No one can say for sure that such material will not contain tiny Martians. If it does, no one can yet say for sure they are not harmful to Earthlings.

With such concerns in mind, NASA must act as if samples from Mars could spawn the next pandemic. “Because it is not a zero-percent chance, we are doing our due diligence to make sure that there’s no possibility of contamination,” said Andrea Harrington, the Mars sample curator for NASA. Thus, the agency plans to handle the returned samples similarly to how the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention handles ebola: carefully….

(15) WHAT’S BREWING? Make explains how “This Elven Architecture Diorama Makes A Perfect Cup Of Tea”. It’s a sort of steampunk encounter with Rivendell.

…There are multiple options available, for different blends of tea and temperatures for steeping. With a quick press of a button, this elven village hops to life measuring out tea leaves, depositing them into the tea ball, heating water and dispensing it into the cup, then dunking the tea ball for the prescribed amount of time, then depositing it on a tiny coaster for disposal. 

At the end of the process, Samuel is left with a perfect cup of tea, and a view that is absolutely wonderful.

[Thanks to Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Daniel Dern, Kevin Standlee, 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 8/27/22 We Will All Scroll Together When We Scroll, All Suffused With A Pixelicious Glow

(1) HOARDED GOLD. Amazon’s Rings of Power will cost $1B to make? That nice round number is bringing out skeptics.

Behind a paywall at Business Insider is an extensive analysis of “What Amazon’s ‘Lord of the Rings’ Series Means for Its Streaming Future”.

…With “Rings of Power,” Amazon has given Hollywood something to talk about. No single season of television has ever cost as much. On top of the $250 million deal to secure the rights from J.R.R. Tolkien’s estate in 2017 — Amazon outbid rival big spenders HBO and Netflix — it’s been widely reported that the studio spent north of $460 million on production in New Zealand. Add tens of millions of dollars in marketing, promotions, and global red-carpet events and you arrive at the $1 billion total estimated by industry observers — with four more seasons planned.

The show is expected to be a hit, but if it somehow misses the mark, several sources told Insider the studio may face an existential crisis.

“The reason why it’s going to succeed is because the executives at Amazon need it to succeed. If it doesn’t succeed, there’s going to be a big question from Andy Jassy and the board,” said one former senior Amazon Studios exec. “If we can’t take this piece of IP and make it successful, why is Amazon Studios even here?”

“It has to succeed,” this person added. “There’s no option.”…

(2) ONE FOOT IN FRONT OF THE OTHER. Gizmodo points the way to a clip about one of the peoples in the forthcoming series: “Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power: Meet the Harfoots”.

…Since Rings of Power’s ensemble is rather enormous, Prime Video has released this video focusing on just the Harfoots—according to Dylan Smith, who plays Largo Brandyfoot, they’re “arguably the biggest secret of the show,” since J.R.R. Tolkien didn’t write too much about them—to give viewers a sense of who they’ll be meeting when the series arrives….

(3) A LOOK AT VAN VOGT. The Middletown (PA) Public Library’s Science Fiction Book Club has added another to its online archive of Science Fiction Author Interviews. The new one is an interview with Charles Platt about A.E. van Vogt.

John Grayshaw: What makes van Vogt interesting from a critical perspective? What first drew you to his work?

CP: I first read his work when I was reading literally every science-fiction novel that was published. About one book per day. He wasn’t my favorite author, but I did respond to his flood of strange ideas and his unique way of building a narrative. It was utterly impossible to guess what would happen next. I loved that unexpectedness, and still do. (I re-read World of Null-A just recently. Its plot is so convoluted, I felt as if I should be taking notes. But instead I just enjoyed the roller-coaster ride.)…

(4) ERIC HOFFMAN (1944-2022). LA-area fan Eric Hoffman died August 27 after being badly burned in a home electrical fire. Hoffman, born in Brooklyn, came to California, and in 1965 joined LASFS. His deep interest in monster/horror films and sff TV history were reflected in the innumerable programs he assembled about those topics for local conventions, becoming a frequent panelist at Loscon, Westercon and the San Diego Comic-Con. The latter recognized Hoffman’s work as a film historian with the Inkpot Award in 1974. Also a Doctor Who fan, he did presentations at the local Gallifrey One event for thirty years.

Hoffman assisted in providing archival posters and images for movie documentaries, and provided history commentary for several monster and horror videos. He got in front of the camera twice, according to IMDB, first in Don Glut’s short Rocketman Flies Again (1966), and then as a bartender in Sorority House Massacre II (1990).  

(5) MEMORY LANE.  

1955 [By Cat Eldridge.] Sixty-seven years ago, “Hyde and Hare”, a Warner Bros. Looney Tunes cartoon, was released in theaters as part of a reel with other such Looney Tunes cartoons. One reel would have six to ten minutes of these cartoons.  This cartoon was particularly long at seven minutes. 

SPOILER ALERT. REALLY, DO WE NEED ONE THIS LONG ON? 

Bugs is looking for a warm, comfortable home instead of his hole in the Park, and he meets a Doctor who takes him home. That Doctor turns out to be Doctor Jekyll. Soon Hyde is trying to kill our rabbit. He fails repeatedly. Quite amazingly he fails.

It ends when Bugs leaves after drinking all of the potions. (Yes, there are two potions shown.) Nice take at the end on the Hyde like Bugs. 

Yes, I rewatched it just now. Research you know. Not on HBO+ where it’s streaming but off iTunes where I downloaded a copy.

YOU CAN COME BACK NOW. REALLY YOU CAN.

It was directed by I. Freleng who was an animator, cartoonist, composer, director and producer (a man of many talents, wasn’t he?), mostly working at Warner Bros on the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies series. He’s responsible for over three hundred cartoons. 

The story was by Warren Foster, a writer, cartoonist and composer for the animation division of Warner Brothers and later on with Hanna-Barbera. Of special note I think, he was the composer of Tweety’s theme song, “I Taut I Taw a Puddy Tat.” It was sung by Mel Blanc. Yes, I’m weird. 

Mel Blanc of course did all the voices. Who else would? 

Animation was by Gerry Chiniquy, Arthur Davis, Virgil Ross and Ted Ike . I’ll be honest and note that I don’t recognize any of them by name but the style here certainly is recognizable. 

(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 27, 1922 Frank Kelly Freas. I’ve no idea where I first encountered his unique style on a cover of a SF book, but I quickly spotted it everywhere. He had a fifty-year run on Astounding Science Fiction from the early Fifties and through its change to the Analog name — amazing! Yes, he won ten Pro Artist Hugos plus one Retro-Hugo, an impressive feat by anyone. There doesn’t appear to a decent portfolio of his work. (Died 2005.)
  • Born August 27, 1945 Edward Bryant. His only novel was Phoenix Without Ashes which was co-authored with Harlan Ellison and was an adaptation of Ellison’s pilot script for The Starlost. He won two Nebulas for his short stories “Stone” (1979) and “giANTS” (1980), which also were nominated for the Hugo, as was his novelette “The Thermals of August” (1982). I’m personally familiar his short fiction in the Wild Cards anthologies. Phoenix Without Ashes and all of his short stories are available in digital form. (Died 2017.)
  • Born August 27, 1947 Barbara Bach, Lady Starkey, 75. She’s best known for her role as the Bond girl Anya Amasova in The Spy Who Loved Me.  One of her other genre appearances is in Caveman which her husband Ringo Starr is also cast.
  • Born August 27, 1952 Darrell Schweitzer, 70. Writer, editor, and critic. For his writing, I’d recommend Awaiting Strange Gods: Weird and Lovecraftian Fictions and Tom O’Bedlam’s Night Out and Other Strange ExcursionsThe Robert E. Howard Reader he did is quite excellent as is The Thomas Ligotti Reader.
  • Born August 27, 1957 Richard Kadrey, born 1957, aged sixty five years. I’m admittedly way behind on the Sandman Slim series having only read the first five books. I also enjoyed Metrophage: A Romance of the Future and I’ve still several years later got The Grand Dark on my interested to be read list.
  • Born August 27, 1962 Dean Devlin, 60. His first produced screenplay was Universal Soldier. He was a writer/producer working on Emmerich’s Moon 44. Together they co-wrote and produced Stargate, the first movie to have a web site. The team then produced Independence Day, Godzilla and Independence Day: Resurgence. They’re also credited for creating The Visitor series which lasted 13 episodes, and The Triangle, a miniseries which I’ll bet you can guess the premise.
  • Born August 27, 1965 Kevin Standlee, 57. He attended his first con in 1984, L.A. Con II. Later he co-chaired the 2002 Worldcon, ConJosé, in San José. One source says he made and participated in amateur Doctor Who films in the late 1980s. I wonder if he played Doctor Who? And I wonder if we can see these films? 
  • Born August 27, 1978 Suranne Jones, 44. Not a long genre performance history but she shows up on the Doctor Who spin-off, The Sarah Jane Adventures as Mona Lisa. Yes, that Mona Lisa. She’ll be back on Doctor Who in “The Doctor’s Wife”, an Eleventh Doctor story as written by Neil Gaiman. She is Idris, a woman hosting the Matrix of the TARDIS. 

(7) COMICS SECTION.

Peanuts / Endless mashup.

(8) THE NEXT EXORCIST. In the midst of a Q&A primarily about her history with Actors Studio and Lee Strasberg, “Ellen Burstyn Reveals Why She Said Yes to an ‘Exorcist’ Sequel” in The Hollywood Reporter.

I just got a scoop. Thank you.

You’re welcome. And I’ve shot most of the picture. The writer-director, David Gordon Green, I like very much. I met with him and we talked about the script and so forth, and I promised him four more days if he needed them. And he’s edited the film and he wants the four days, so I’m going back in November to shoot four more days. And it’ll come out in 2024, on the 50th anniversary of The Exorcist, the original.

(9) GETTING OFF THE GROUND. Francis Hamit urges everyone to contribute to “The All American film organizing fund” at Indiegogo. “I have to raise money to raise more money for this great epic World War Two film.  Not just a war film but also a musical.  That might not be science fiction or fantasy, but it sure feels like it.” 

That image is of a real event that happened on February 1, 1943.  A B-17 Flying Fortress Bomber named The All American was returning from a bombing raid when it was struck by a German fighter and almost cut in half.  It lost part of its tail and suffered a 16 foot long, four foot wide gash on its left side.  Ten men were aboard, all young men who a year before had been civilians and who had volunteered for the most dangerous duty of the war, aerial combat.  They were part of the 414th Bomb Squard, 97th Bombardment Group, United States Army Air Force.   Originally they were based at Grafton Underwood, England.  It was there that Margaret Bourke-White   joined the 97th.  She was a beautiful, world famous photojournalist for LIFE magazine and determined to tell  their story.  Part of that meant flying with them on a bombing mission….  

To actually make the film will take millions of dollars.  I don’t expect to raise that here, but would like your help getting to the next phase.  I need help paying for legal, publicity and staff.  The next phase is raising the money,

(10) THROWING SAND IN THE GEARS. Variety took notes: “Neil Gaiman Says He Sabotaged Jon Peters’ ‘Sandman’ Movie by Leaking ‘Really Stupid’ Script”.

This year, Neil Gaiman’s comic book series “The Sandman” was finally adapted on screen in Netflix’s popular television series. But this is far from the first time that Hollywood tried to put the sprawling fantasy world to film.

In fact, Gaiman declined several movie offers for “The Sandman” throughout the last three decades, but the author recently revealed that he went as far as to sabotage an idea from “Wild Wild West” and “A Star Is Born” producer Jon Peters by leaking the script to the press.

“It was the worst script that I’ve ever read by anybody,” Gaiman said in an interview with Rolling Stone.

“A guy in Jon Peters’ office phoned me up and he said, ‘So Neil, have you had a chance to read the script we sent you?’ And I said, ‘Well, yes. Yes, I did. I haven’t read all of it, but I’ve read enough.’ He says, ‘So, pretty good. Huh?’ And I said, ‘Well, no. It really isn’t.’ He said, ‘Oh, come on. There must have been stuff in there you loved.’ I said, ‘There was nothing in there I loved. There was nothing in there I liked. It was the worst script that I’ve ever read by anybody. It’s not just the worst Sandman script. That was the worst script I’ve ever been sent.’”…

(11) BACK TO THE MOON. While we’ve done a lot of Artemis Program stories, have we ever linked to the NASA: Artemis I website where all kinds of information and educational resources are gathered?

And here’s an update: “Our Artemis I Flight Test is “Go for Launch” on This Week @NASA – August 26, 2022”.

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

Pixel Scroll 8/25/22 Eats, Scrolls And Athelas

(1) RHYSLING REVAMP SURVEY REPORT. The Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association (SFPA) surveyed members about potential changes to their Rhysling Award. See their feedback here: “Rhysling Revamp” at the SPECPO blog. From the introduction:

The Rhysling Awards are in their 45th year of recognizing excellent speculative poetry, presented by The Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association (SFPA). Leaders have been monitoring the Rhysling Anthology as it grew along with membership numbers. The anthology has ballooned from 42 poems in 2002 to 180 poems in 2022. Continued growth would result in an anthology that is not feasible to print or read.

Here’s an excerpt from the survey results.

CATEGORIES

A continual discussion point among members is the question of “double dipping” on awards. Most respondents support that Elgin-length poems not be considered for the Rhysling (64%). A slight majority agree at setting a maximum line length for the Rhysling (53%), which would be consistent with considering extra-long poems being only eligible for the Elgins. On the other side of the spectrum, there is generally support (49%) for Dwarf Stars to be the only award that can catch the 1-10 line poems. Only 25% of respondents disagreed about keeping Dwarf-Stars-eligible poems out of the Rhyslings.

There was very little support for adjusting the length definitions, but lots of ambivalence showing in the swell of neutral responses (44%).

(2) CHICON 8 POCKET PROGRAM. In a manner of speaking. The 392-page Pocket Program is now available on the Chicon 8 website. There are two versions, (1) a single page version best viewed on phones and tablets, and (2) a two-page version which is best for printing.

(3) ALERT: FAUX CHICON 8 MERCHANDISE. The Worldcon committee issued a heads up that some t-shirt sites are selling Chicon 8 branded merchandise and saying they are official. They are not.

“Our only official site for Chicon 8 merchandise at this time is Redbubble. If you buy from anywhere else, it does not benefit the convention. Please shop wisely!”

(4) THE OTHER WORLD. This World Fantasy Award winner’s new book isn’t genre, but when speaking about her research she says things like this — “So I went on this fantastic two-week trip into a time and place that doesn’t really exist now.” “Sofia Samatar Brings a Second Coming” at Publishers Weekly.

Sofia Samatar has a way with a sentence. No matter what she’s writing—whether it’s short stories, like her quietly devastating Nebula- and Hugo-nominated “Selkie Stories Are for Losers,” or novels, like her World Fantasy Award–winning debut, A Stranger in Olondria—her work has a way of pairing the mundane and sublime with casual aplomb.

Her latest, The White Mosque (Catapult, Oct.), is a mosaic memoir that juxtaposes history, culture, religion and regionalism, tracing the journey of a group of German-speaking Mennonites into the heart of Khiva in Central Asia—now modern-day Uzbekistan—on a quest that promised no less than the second coming of Christ.

Samatar’s own journey to the site where the group’s church once stood started in 2016, when her father-in-law gave her a book titled The Great Trek of the Russian Mennonites, by Frank Belk. “This guy, who’s sort of a cult leader, predicts Christ is returning, and these people just uproot their lives to follow him,” she says, speaking via Zoom from her office at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Va., where she’s an associate professor of English. “Of course, nothing happens. But they stayed for 50 years, until they were deported by the Bolsheviks.”

Samatar, the child of a Black Somali Muslim and a white Mennonite, became obsessed with the story…. 

(5) CON OR BUST. Dream Foundry, which previously announced that Con or Bust is “folding into our (dragon) wing,” shared the program’s new logo designed by Dream Foundry contest winner Yue Feng.

Applications for grants are open, and they’ve already begun reviewing and issuing grants. If you want to help creatives and fans of color have access to conventions and other opportunities, donate here. To stay in the loop on Con or Bust news, sign up for the program’s quarterly newsletter.     

(6) BACK TO THE MOON. This NASA promo about the Artemis mission dropped yesterday. “Artemis I: We Are Ready”.

The journey of half a million miles – the first flight of the Artemis Generation – is about to begin. The uncrewed Artemis I mission will jump-start humanity’s return to the Moon with the thunderous liftoff of NASA’s powerful new Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft. This critical flight test will send Orion farther than any human-rated spacecraft has ever flown, putting new systems and processes to the test and lighting the way for the crew missions to come. Artemis I is ready for departure – and, together with our partners around the world, we are ready to return to the Moon, with our sights on Mars and beyond.

(7) WHERE’S THE LOOT? [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times behind a paywall, Tom Faber looks at the problems game designers have giving users rewards.

Most games interface short, mid- and long-term rewards that trigger at different times.  the short-term rewards often take the form of sensory feedback; the bright ‘ding’ when you get a coin in Super Mario, an enemy’s head exploding in a shower of gore in Grand Theft Auto.  These get boring after a while–behavioural psychologists learned that repeating the same rewards generates diminishing returns.  So developers offer midterm rewards:  new levels, items, skills, characters, locations or narrative beats.  The longterm rewards are often related to social competition and prestige, such as difficult high-level team challenges or rare cosmetic items which players can show off to their friends.

Loot boxes lean into several of these techniques.  They have been employed in all manner of games ranging from FIFA to Star Wars, and they’re very profitable.  Yet they have also faced a backlash:  a recent report from consumer bodies in 18 European countries called them ‘exploitative.’  Although they have been banned in Belgium since 2018, most governments have been wary of legislation–the UK recently decided not to ban loot boxes after a 22-month consultation.  Still, some developers have heard gamers are unhappy–loot boxes were removed from Star Wars Battlefront 2 after an outcry and Blizzard recently announced they won’t feature in upcoming shooter Overwatch  2.”

(8) AGAINST ALL ODDS. The New York Times drills deep into one writer’s experience in “How to Get Published: A Book’s Journey From ‘Very Messy’ Draft to Best Seller”. The author’s novel The School for Good Mothers is set in the near future.

…“I’d like people to know that it’s possible for a debut author in her 40s, a woman of color, a mom, who led a quiet life offline with no brand building whatsoever to have this experience,” said Jessamine Chan.

And yet Chan’s “The School for Good Mothers” was published in January 2022 — and soared to the best-seller list, catapulting her to literary stardom. Last month, former President Barack Obama featured it on his summer reading list.

How does a debut novel go from a “very messy” draft on a writer’s desk to a published book, on display in bookstores around the country?

Here, we take you behind the scenes to see how a book is born — the winding path it takes, the many hands that touch it, the near-misses and the lucky breaks that help determine its fate.

(9) WHEATON SIGNING SCHEDULED. “Wil Wheaton presents and signs Still Just a Geek: An Annotated Memoir at Vroman’s Bookstore in Pasadena, CA on August 31 at 7:00 p.m.

From starring in Stand by Me to playing Wesley Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation to playing himself, in his second (third?) iconic role of Evil Wil Wheaton in The Big Bang Theory, to becoming a social media supernova, Wil Wheaton has charted a career course unlike anyone else, and has emerged as one of the most popular and well respected names in science fiction, fantasy and pop culture.

Back in 2001, Wil began blogging on wilwheaton.net. Believing himself to have fallen victim to the curse of the child actor, Wil felt relegated to the convention circuit, and didn’t expect many would want to read about his random experiences and personal philosophies.

Yet, much to his surprise, people were reading. He still blogs, and now has an enormous following on social media with well over 3 million followers.

In Still Just a Geek, Wil revisits his 2004 collection of blog posts, Just a Geek, filled with insightful and often laugh-out-loud annotated comments, additional later writings, and all new material written for this publication. The result is an incredibly raw and honest memoir, in which Wil opens up about his life, about falling in love, about coming to grips with his past work, choices, and family, and finding fulfillment in the new phases of his career. From his times on the Enterprise to his struggles with depression to his starting a family and finding his passion–writing–Wil Wheaton is someone whose life is both a cautionary tale and a story of finding one’s true purpose that should resonate with fans and aspiring artists alike. (William Morrow & Company)

(10) VIKING FUNERAL FOR BATGIRL? The Guardian hears “‘Secret’ screenings of cancelled Batgirl movie being held by studio – reports”.

The Hollywood Reporter confirmed with multiple sources that a select few who worked on the film, including cast, crew and studio executives, would be attending the screenings this week on the Warner Bros lot in California. One source described them as “funeral screenings”, as it is likely the footage will be stored forever and never shown to the public.

…The Hollywood Reporter reported there was a chance Warner Bros would make “the drastic move of actually destroying its Batgirl footage as a way to demonstrate to the IRS that there will never be any revenue from the project, and thus it should be entitled to the full write-down immediately.”

On Tuesday, in an interview with French outlet Skript, Batgirl directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah said they no longer had any copy of the film, recalling the moment they found they could not longer access the servers that held the footage.

…El Arbi said it was unlikely they’d have the studio’s support to release it in the future or that there could be an equivalent of “the Snyder cut” – Zack Snyder’s four-hour director’s cut of the DC film Justice League, which added an extra $70m to a $300m budget film.

“It cannot be released in its current state,” said El Arbi. “There’s no VFX … we still had some scenes to shoot. So if one day they want us to release the Batgirl movie, they’d have to give us the means to do it. To finish it properly with our vision.”

(11) TRANSFORMATIVE RULES OF ENGAGEMENT. Seekingferret posted a “Panel Report” from Fanworks where the topic was “Ethical Norms in Fanworks Fandom”.

… I presented three models for fandom’s approach to copyright- the It’s All Transformative model, the It’s Illegal but I Do It Anyway model, and the It’s Not Illegal Because the Copyright Holders’ Inaction is an Implicit License model, and then the audience argued with me for a while about whether the second two models are essentially the same, which was a good, clarifying argument to have….

Also of interest is the panel’s accompanying slideshow.

(12) WARNING. [Item by Daniel Dern.] Since, fan-wise, many cons use Discord… “Roblox and Discord Become Virus Vectors for New PyPI Malware” at The New Stack.

If you can communicate on it, you can abuse it. This was proven again recently when a hacker using the name “scarycoder” uploaded a dozen malicious Python packages to PyPI, the popular Python code repository. These bits of code pretended to provide useful functions for Roblox gaming community developers, but all they really did was steal users’ information. So far, so typical. Where it got interesting is it used the Discord messaging app to download malicious executable files.

(13) BOOK PORN. [Item by Bill.] Whenever I see a photograph on the web that has a bookshelf in the background, I spend way too much time trying to figure out what the books are.  For example: 

Blogger Lawrence Person has posted photos of his SF book shelves, and there are a lot of titles I’d love to have in my own collection.  A few years old, but perhaps worth a look ….  “Overview of Lawrence Person’s Library: 2017 Edition”. He provides regular updates to the collection (see the “books” tag).  

(14) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.  

1989 [By Cat Eldridge.] Thirty-three years ago, the first installment of the Bill & Ted franchise, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure premiered.

Starring William “Bill” S. Preston Esq. and Ted “Theodore” Logan, portrayed by Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves as, and not giving a frell about spoilers here, time travelling slacker high schoolers assembling the ultimate history report. And let’s not forget Rufus as portrayed by George Carlin. I met him some forty years ago — a really neat gentleman. 

Stephen Herek directed here. He had previously written and directed the horror/SF Critters film. Nasty film it was. Chris Matheson who wrote all three of the franchise films co-wrote this with Ed Solomon who co-wrote the third with him and, more importantly, was the Men in Black writer.

By late Eighties standards, it was cheap to produce costing only ten million and making forty in return. Critics for the most part were hostile —- the Washington Post said “if Stephen Herek has any talent for comedy, it’s not visible here.” And the Los Angeles Times added, “it’s unabashed glorification of dumbness for dumbness’ sake.” 

It spawned not one but two television series named – oh, guess what they were named. Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, an animated series that started out on CBS and ended on Fox, lasted twenty-one episodes over two seasons, and Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, the live version, lasted but seven episodes on Fox. Evan Richards and Christopher Kennedy played Bill and Ted.

DC did the comic for the first film, Marvel for the second. It did well enough that it led to the Marvel series Bill & Ted’s Excellent Comic Book which lasted for just twelve issues. And there was a sort of adaptation of the animated series that lasted for a year by Britain’s now gone Look-In Magazine.

Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give it a most bodacious seventy-five percent rating.

(15) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 25, 1909 Michael Rennie. Definitely best remembered as Klaatu in The Day the Earth Stood Still. He would show up a few years later on one of The Lost World films as Lord John Roxton, and he’s got an extensive genre series resume which counts Lost in Space as The Keeper in two episodes, The Batman as The Sandman, The Time TunnelThe Man from U.N.C.L.E. and The Invaders. (Died 1972.)
  • Born August 25, 1913 Walt Kelly. If you can get them, Fantagraphics has released the complete Pogo in twelve stunning hardcover editions covering up to 1973. Did you know Kelly began his career as animator at Walt Disney Studios, working on DumboPinocchio and Fantasia? Well he did. (Died 1973.)
  • Born August 25, 1930 Sean Connery. Worst film? Zardoz. Best film? From Russia with Love very, very definitely. Best SF film? Outland. Or Time Bandits you want to go for silly. Now remember these are my personal choices. I almost guarantee that you will have different ones. (Died 2020.)
  • Born August 25, 1940 Marilyn Niven, 82. She was a Boston-area fan who now lives in LA and is married to writer Larry Niven. She has worked on a variety of conventions, both regionals and Worldcons.  In college, she was a member of the MITSFS and was one of the founding members of NESFA. She’s also a member of Almack’s Society for Heyer Criticism.
  • Born August 25, 1947 Michael Kaluta, 75. He’s best known for his 1970s take on The Shadow with writer Dennis O’Neil for DC in 1973–1974. He’d reprise his work on The Shadow for Dark Horse a generation later. And Kaluta and O’Neil reunited on The Shadow: 1941 – Hitler’s Astrologer graphic novel published in 1988. If you can find them, the M. W. Kaluta: Sketchbook Series are well worth having.
  • Born August 25, 1955 Simon R. Green, 67. I’ll confess that I’ve read pretty much everything he’s written except that damn Robin Hood novel that made a NYT Best Seller. Favorite series? The NightsideHawk & Fisher and Secret History were my favorite ones until the Ismael Jones series came along and I must say it’s a hell of a lot of fun as well.  Drinking Midnight Wine and Shadows Fall are the novels I’ve re-read the most. 
  • Born August 25, 1958 Tim Burton, 64. Beetlejuice is by far my favorite film by him. His Batman was, errr, interesting. Read that comment as you will. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is definitely more Dahlish than the first take was which I think is a far better look at the source material, and Sleepy Hollow is just too damn weird for my pedestrian tastes. (Snarf.)
  • Born August 25, 1970 Chris Roberson, 52. Brilliant writer. I strongly recommend his Recondito series, Firewalk and Firewalkers. The Spencer Finch series is also worth reading. He won two Sidewise Awards, first for his “O One” story and later for The Dragon’s Nine Sons novel. He’s had five Sidewise nominations. 

(16) COMICS SECTION.

(17) HORROR WRITERS HAVE OPINIONS. Midnight Pals did a sendup of John Scalzi and his purchase of a church building. And his burritos. Can’t overlook those. Thread starts here.

(18) SPACE OPERA. “Friday’s Rag Tag Crew: Shards of Earth by Adrian Tchaikovsky”, a review by Camestros Felapton.

… I found myself in the mood for a big space opera the other day and with the novel also being a Dragon Award finalist, it seemed like a natural choice. I wasn’t wrong in my initial assessment. It is in many ways a more conventional space opera than the books I’d read. Humanity is a spacefaring species with its own factions, in a galactic society with a range of aliens. There’s hyperspace (or rather “unspace”), a cosmic threat, mysteriously vanished advanced civilisations, space spies, space gangsters, badass warriors and epic space battles. This is all good but if you are hoping for the millennia-long deep dive into the evolution of a sapient spider civilisation this book doesn’t have anything like that. Which is fine because that gives Tchaikovsky more space and time to attend to a cast of characters….

(19) A CITY ON A HILL. Paul Weimer reviews Stephen Fry’s Troy at Nerds of a Feather: “Microreview [book]: Troy, by Stephen Fry”. There may be surprises in store for some readers – at least there were for Paul.

…In any event, Fry is here to help you. He starts at the beginning, as to how Troy was founded, and why, and brings its history up to date as it were. The delight in the depth of research and scholarship he brings is tha there is a fair chunk here I didn’t know about. Fun fact, the Trojan War is not the first time that Troy gets attacked in its mythological history, and you will never guess who did it before the Greeks got it into their heads to take back Helen, nor why…. 

(20) GOING PUBLIC. “Tom Lehrer: The Public Domain Tango”, a Plagiarism Today post from 2020.

…However, it seems likely that Lehrer may be set for yet another major revival as news spread yesterday that Lehrer, now 92, had released his lyrics and much of his music into the public domain. This has already sparked a great deal of interest in possible covers and recreations of his most famous songs.

Note: It’s worth stating that the declaration deals with his compositions and his lyrics, not the recordings. Those are most likely not owned by Lehrer.

However, the statement isn’t wholly true. Tom Lehrer didn’t actually release his songs into the public domain. While it may be pedantry given that there is no practical difference, the lengths Lehrer had to go to release what he did in the way that he did only further highlights Lehrer’s genius and is well worth exploring.

If this is truly to be Lehrer’s final musical act, it makes sense to see it for both the effort it took and the intellect required to conceive of it….

(21) AI GIVES ASSIST TO MUSIC VIDEO. [Item by Dann.] Someone recently made a video using the lyrics to “Renegade” by Styx.  The lyrics were fed, line by line, into AI art software to create the images used in the video.

While the lyrics aren’t explicitly genre centered, the AI created several images that evoked sci-fi/fantasy themes.  The rhetorical progeny of Edgar Allen Poe shows up a few times as well. “Renegade – Styx – But the lyrics are Ai generated images”.

(22) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows Part I Pitch Meeting,” Ryan George says the producer in the seventh Harry Potter film mourns when several beloved minor characters die.  He is bored by the very long camping scenes (where the characters camp and camp and camp some more” but gets excited when Harry Potter gets to duke it out with Voldemort only to discover that this is the end of Part I and we have to wait for Part II.

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

Pixel Scroll 8/14/22 I Am A Little Scroll Made Cunningly, Of Pixels, And An Angelic Sprite

(1) AURORA AWARD STATS. The 2022 Aurora Award Results and Hall of Fame Inductees were announced last night, and the CSFFA website now has the voting statistics and nomination totals available here.

It’s notable that in the Best Fan Writing and Publication category it was R. Graeme Cameron competing against himself, winning for Polar Borealis, while his Canadian SF&F book and magazine reviews in Amazing Stories (online) finished second.

(2) CONFUSION IS STILL WITH US. [Item by John Winkelman.] Con Chair Cylithria Dubois has posted an update about ConFusion 2022 and 2023. To sum up: Despite hardships and obstacles, COVID-related and otherwise, ConFusion 2022 ended in the black, financially, and there will be a ConFusion 2023, about which details will be announced soon. “2022 Rising ConFusion Final Report & Handoff to The Legend of ConFusion”.

Rising ConFusion 2022 took place January 21st – 23rd of 2022.  December & January were peak times for the  DELTA variant of the COVID-19 pandemic. As DELTA took hold, times looked very grim due to the pandemic, and on January 7th, 2022, I made a public plea to our community, alerting you of the dire financial straits ConFusion Convention faced due to lower attendance, higher costs, and lack of income from the postponed 2021 event. 

The day I made that plea, I was also packing to travel via car from my home in Kansas City, MO., to my Home in Bay City, MI. I posted that, went to bed, got up and drove the 14 hour journey. By the time I arrived in Michigan, I was gob-smacked at the community outpouring of support. Y’all have no idea how utterly stunned silent I truly was. (Lithie, Silent? Whoa)… 

In Quick Summary Form:

-The amount of income made by Rising ConFusion 2022 was $17,848.48. 
-The amount of Donation Income made from your generosity was $13,705.09. 
-Combined those total: $31,553.57! 
-Our total expenses (see note below) came to -$19,234.81.  
-The amount of money leftover was: +$12,318.76

In Short; Yes, you saved Rising ConFusion and there will be another ConFusion in 2023!…

(3) HEINLEIN BLOOD DRIVE. “The Heinlein Society Sponsors Chicago Blood Drive” for those wanting to donate blood while the Worldcon is happening. The Society says:

Worldcon chose not to sponsor a blood drive this year. For the convenience of those expecting to Pay It Forward by donating blood The Heinlein Society and Virgin Hotels, a block away from the Hyatt, will have a blood drive on Sunday. Schedule your appointment early as the drive is open to the public before Worldcon starts. More information will be available as well as a free book with a cool bookmark at The Heinlein Society Fan Table at Worldcon.

(4) WHERE IT BEGAN. Robert Charles Wilson told Facebook readers about a personal artifact he rediscovered.

I’ve spent the last few days putting my book collection in order, and yesterday I came across this, the first sf magazine I ever purchased: the March 1964 issue of F&SF, from a little shop in the town of Port Credit, Ontario.

J.G. Ballard, Kit Reed, Oscar Wilde, Avram Davidson’s haunting little story “Sacheverell”—pretty heady stuff for a precocious ten-year-old. But what had the greatest impact, looking backward from 2022, was Robert Bloch’s article “The Conventional Approach”—a pocket history of science fiction fandom. I was already nursing an ambition to write, specifically to write sf, and here was what looked like an invitation to a subculture of like-minded enthusiasts and maybe even a roadmap to a career.

A few more years would pass before I attended a convention or sold a piece of fiction to a professional market, but that little digest-magazine article had pretty profound consequences for me. What I eventually found by way of that subculture was, yes, a career, including a Hugo Award for my novel Spin, but also enduring friendships, two marriages and one long-term relationship, visits to Europe and Asia I would probably not otherwise have undertaken, and a more colourful and varied life than my 10-year-old self could have reasonably imagined.

All that, bought for 40 cents on a wintry Saturday in rural Ontario. Your money went further in those days, I guess.

(5) RUSHDIE UPDATE. “Salman Rushdie off ventilator and ‘road to recovery has begun,’ agent says” reports Reuters, quoting an email.

Salman Rushdie, the acclaimed author who was stabbed repeatedly at a public appearance in New York state on Friday, 33 years after Iran’s then-supreme leader called for him to be killed, is off a ventilator and his health is improving, his agent and a son said on Sunday.

“He’s off the ventilator, so the road to recovery has begun,” his agent, Andrew Wylie, wrote in an email to Reuters. “It will be long; the injuries are severe, but his condition is headed in the right direction.”…

Meanwhile, the Guardian reports that author J.K. Rowling, after tweeting sympathy for Rushdie. received a death threat: “Police investigate threat to JK Rowling over Salman Rushdie tweet”.

Police are investigating a threat against JK Rowling that was made after she posted her reaction on social media to the attack on Salman Rushdie.

Rowling tweeted on Friday: “Horrifying news. Feeling very sick right now. Let him be OK.”

Twitter user under the name Meer Asif Asiz replied: “Don’t worry you are next.”

Rowling shared screenshots of the threat and thanked everyone who had sent supportive messages. “Police are involved (were already involved on other threats),” she wrote.

(6) HE KNOWS HORROR WHEN HE SEES IT. In MSN.com’s extract of The Sunday Times interview, “Stephen King talks politics: ‘Trump was a horrible president and is a horrible person’”.

…King, who is himself active on Twitter, also spoke to the Sunday Times about the role social media has played amid the current political and cultural climate. 

“It’s a poison pill. I mean, I think it’s wonderful, for instance, that in the wake of George Floyd’s death, his murder by police, that you could muster via social media protests in cities across America and around the world,” he noted. “But on the other hand, it’s social media that has magnified the idea that the election was stolen from Donald Trump. And there’s millions of people who believe that, and there are millions of people who believe that the COVID vaccinations are terrible things. Some of the things are good, some are not so good, and some are downright evil.”…

(7) THE BOOKEND. Rich Horton’s last 50’s Hugo post is “Hugo Nomination Recommendations, 1960”. (I don’t have to explain why 1960 is the last year in this series about the 50’s, I’m sure.)

… This was the height of the Cold War, and the height of fears of Nuclear War, and that is emphasized by the popular success of out and out “End of the World due to Nuclear War” books like Level 7Alas, BabylonA Canticle for Leibowitz; and On The Beach, all published in this time frame. For that matter, Providence Island is about a lost race resisting the use of their island for nuclear tests, and The Manchurian Candidate is surely a Cold War novel to the max!…

(8) FAN MAIL. Connie Willis writes in praise of “Favorite Author – Mary Stewart” on Facebook.

I just finished re-reading AIRS ABOVE THE GROUND and was reminded all over again what a wonderful writer Mary Stewart was. Many science-fiction fans will be familiar with her because of her trilogy about Merlin and King Arthur–THE CRYSTAL CAVE, THE HOLLOW HILLS, and THE LAST ENCHANTMENT–but when those books came out, I was already a long time admirer who’d discovered her through, of all things, Hayley Mills.

I was a huge Hayley Mills fan in high school and college and saw all her movies. I also was an inveterate reader of movie credits (this was how I found new books to read–and still do) and thus discovered Eleanor Porter’s POLLYANNA, Jules Verne’s IN SEARCH OF THE CASTAWAYS–and Mary Stewart’s THE MOONSPINNERS. I promptly ran to the library to check out the book.

…I said her novels had been the foundation for the modern romantic mystery genre, but that’s not really true. Even though they’ve been compared to Daphne DuMaurier’s and Jane Austen’s books, nobody else before or since has been able to do the sort of thing she did. What is true is that she “built the bridge between classic literature and modern popular fiction. She did it first, and she did it best.” And if you’ve never read her, you’re in for a treat….

(9) SUMMER HELL IS HERE. This sounds fascinating. At Black Gate, Joe Bonadonna introduces an anthology: “In Hell, Everyone’s Pants are on Fire: A preview of Liars in Hell.

Seven Degrees of Lying

The opening story in Liars in Hell is by Janet and Chris Morris, and it’s called Seven Degrees of Lying. Under Lord Byron’s protection for a night, Percy Shelley is abducted and drowned. Honor bound, Byron sets out to find and rescue him, dragging Christopher Marlowe, Shakespeare, the Inklings, Satan, Lord Walsingham, and J, the mysterious Bible writer, into the first skirmish of the Liars War. Even Byron’s dog, Boatswain, gets in on the act.

…So come visit Hell and enjoy the company of our heroes and villains. There’s plenty of action, drama and gallows humor to go around. But bring your own pitchfork. It’s better to have it and not need it, than it is to need it and not have it. You never know when it might come in handy.

(10) MEMORY LANE.  

2009 [By Cat Eldridge.] I like pulp films and the Sherlock Holmes films that Robert Downey Jr. did, Sherlock Holmes and Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, certainly are pulp. Expensively produced ones as I will note in a bit. 

Both films were directed by Guy Ritchie and were produced by Joel Silver, Lionel Wigram, Susan Downey, and Dan Lin. Susan is the wife of Robert. They have their own production company, Team Downey. 

The story for the first one was by Lionel Wigram and Michael Robert Johnson. Eigram’s only other story was the The Man from U.N.C.L.E film, though he was the executive producer for the Potter films; Johnson genre wise only did three episodes of The Frankenstein Chronicles

The second film’s screenplay was written by Michele Mulroney and Kieran Mulroney, a married couple whose entire genre output otherwise is scripting together Next Generation’s “The Outrageous Okona” and Star Trek: Enterprise’s “Fortunate Son” episodes.

Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law portray Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson, respectively. I really think that they do a great job but, I suspect very deeply, like the video Poirots from yesterday, that is very much a matter of personal taste. I like their takes on the characters a lot. No, Downey is not the Holmes in the stories. 

They were expensive to produce, ninety million and the sequel added thirty-five onto its cost. The first was shot at in part at Freemasons’ Hall and St Paul’s Cathedral. The former was where the Suchet Poirot shot part of its Murder on the Orient Express. For the second film, principal photography moved for two days to Strasbourg, France. Shooting took place on, around, and inside Strasbourg Cathedral as that in stood for the German city where it was supposed to be set.

They made money, oh did they make money, roughly a half billon apiece. 

Roger Ebert I think in reviewing the first nails it perfectly and I’m going to quote only him from the multitude of critics. Here’s his entire first paragraph of his Sherlock Holmes review: “The less I thought about Sherlock Holmes, the more I liked ‘Sherlock Holmes.’ Yet another classic hero has been fed into the f/x mill, emerging as a modern superman. Guy Ritchie’s film is filled with sensational sights, over-the-top characters and a desperate struggle atop Tower Bridge, which is still under construction. It’s likely to be enjoyed by today’s action fans. But block bookings are not likely from the Baker Street Irregulars.”

Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give both films scores of seventy-seven percent which is a most excellent rating. 

They are available on HBO Max and Netflix.

There may or may not be a third film next year. The film company has announced such for Christmas but I hold little stock in that as the film hadn’t started production yet. 

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 14, 1910 Herta Herzog. At the Radio Project, she was part of the team of that conducted the groundbreaking research on Orson Welles’ 1938 broadcast of The War of the Worlds in the study The Invasion from Mars. The Radio Research Project was founded in 1937 as a social research project and funded by the Rockefeller Foundation to look into the effects of mass media on society. (Died 2010.)
  • Born August 14, 1932 Lee Hoffman. In the early Fifties, she edited and published the Quandry fanzine. At the same time, she began publication of Science-Fiction Five-Yearly which appeared regularly until ‘til 2006. It won a Hugo at Nippon 2007 which she shared with Geri Sullivan and Randy Byers. It was awarded after her death. She wrote four novels and a handful of short fiction, none of which are in the usual suspects. (Died 2007.)
  • Born August 14, 1940 Alexei Panshin, 82. He has written multiple critical works along with several novels, including the Nebula Award-winning Rite of Passage and the Hugo Award-winning study of SF, The World Beyond the Hill which he co-wrote with his wife, Cory Panshin. He also wrote the first serious study of Heinlein, Heinlein in Dimension: A Critical Analysis.
  • Born August 14, 1950 Gary Larson, 72. Setting aside a long and delightful career in creating the weird for us, ISFDB lists a SF link that deserve noting. In the March 1991 Warp as published by the Montreal Science Fiction and Fantasy Association, he had a cartoon “The crew of the Starship Enterprise encounters the floating head of Zsa Zsa Gabor”. 
  • Born August 14, 1951 Carl Lumbly, 71. I first encountered him voicing the Martian Manhunter on the Justice League series and he later played M’yrnn J’onzz, the father of the Martian Manhunter on the first Supergirl series.  His first major genre role was in The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension as John Parker, and he later had a number of voice roles in such films as Justice League: Doom and Justice League: Gods and Monsters. He of course was the lead in the short lived M.A.N.T.I.S. as Miles Hawkins. 
  • Born August 14, 1956 Joan Slonczewski, 66. Their novel A Door into Ocean won the John W. Campbell Memorial Award. They won a second John W. Campbell Memorial Award for their Highest Frontier novel. They were nominated for an Otherwise Award for The Children Star novel.
  • Born August 14, 1965 Brannon Braga, 57. Writer, producer and creator for the Next Gen, Voyager, Enterprise, as well as on the Star Trek Generations and Star Trek: First Contact films. He has written more episodes in the Trek franchise than anyone else with one hundred nine to date. He was responsible for the Next Gen series finale “All Good Things…” which won him a Best Dramatic Presentation Hugo (1995), along with Ronald D. Moore.
  • Born August 14, 1966 Halle Berry, 56. Her first role genre was not as I thought Miss Stone in The Flintstones but a minor role in a forgotten SF series called They Came from Outer Space. This was followed by being Storm in the X- Men franchise and Giacinta “Jinx” Johnson in Die Another Day, the twentieth Bond film. She then shows up as Catwoman. She has myriad roles in Cloud Atlas. And she is Molly Woods in Exant, a Paramount + series that originally ran on CBS. Both seasons are streaming there now.

(12) COMICS SECTION.

  • Popeye versus Cthulhu?
  • Thatababy shows what Alexa is up to after the owner leaves.
  • Tom Gauld covers all the options.

(13) THE REASON PEOPLE ARE TALKING ABOUT THIS BOOK. Politico’s Jenni Laidman interviews Kim Stanley Robinson: “Climate Catastrophe Is Coming. But It’s Not the End of the Story”.

…“This book has transformed my life,” Robinson said. “I’m doing nothing but talking about Ministry for the Future for the last year and a half, almost two years now. It’s also terrifying. It shows to me that people are feeling a desperate need for a story like this. They’re grabbing onto this book like a piece of driftwood, and they’re drowning at the open ocean.”…

Laidman: In your opening chapter, 20 million people die in an Indian heat wave and power failure, with several thousand of them poached to death in a lake as they try to escape the heat. Will it take this kind of climate horror to jolt the world into action?

Robinson: No. When I was at COP 26, Jordanian diplomat Zeid Ra’ad Hussein, who had read Ministry, was talking about the power of stories. He said, “You don’t need to be in a plane crash to know that it would be bad to be in a plane crash.” Every year since I wrote the book — I wrote it maybe three years ago — it’s as if attention to the climate change crisis has more than doubled. It’s almost exponential.

We’re not at the point of solutions, but at every COP meeting the sense that, “Oh my gosh, we are headed into a plane crash” is intensified. We’re not doing enough. We’re not paying the poor countries enough. Rich countries are breaking promises made at earlier COPs. Disillusionment with that process is getting so intense that I fear for the COP process itself. I’ve been comparing it to the League of Nations. The League of Nations was a great idea that failed. And then we got the 1930s and World War II. The 2015 Paris Agreement was an awesome thing, like something that I would write that people would call utopian. But it happened in the real world.

Now, with Russia and the brutal Ukraine war, things are so messed up that the COP process and the Paris Agreement could turn into the League of Nations. I’m frightened for that. It’s not a done deal.

(14) WHAT DO YOU THINK? Book Riot’s Caitlin Hobbs calls these the “20 of the Best Science Fiction Books of All Time”.

Before we get started, let me define “best” for you real fast. In this context, best does not secretly mean my favorite science fiction that I’m calling best because I’m the one writing the article. The best science fiction books of all time — at least the ones on this list — are the ones that remain highly rated, are incredibly popular, or have made some sort of mark on the science fiction genre or its various sub-genres, even mainstream culture as a whole. There are also only 20 books on this list, meaning it is not conclusive, as I am one person. I will inevitably miss a book that you think belongs on this list. So many science fiction falls into the definition of “best” that I’m using.

Because that’s what science fiction is meant to do: push the envelope, show what things could be if we continue down the path we’re on, and make you question what’s possible…. 

(15) KHAW SHORT FICTION. Sunday Morning Transport has a story and an offer.

(16) BREAKFAST IN A GALAXY A LONG TIME AGO. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Who thought this was a good idea?  The Mandalorian NEVER waffles! “The Mandalorian Galactic Homestyle Frozen Waffles”. (However, Martin confesses he bought these today.)

Start your adventure with a delicious breakfast including Eggo® The Mandalorian Galactic Homestyle Waffles. It’s our classic Eggo® taste featuring the Mandalorian & Grogu™ from the hit Star Wars™ series. Collect all Mandalorian cards, only available across three different hero pack designs while supplies last. It’s the quick and delicious breakfast that families across the whole galaxy love.

(17) DON’T TOUCH THAT DIAL. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Inverse writer Jon O’Brien takes a, let’s say nostalgic, look at Stay Tuned—a 30 year old movie the columnist believes deserved a better reception than it got. Starring John Ritter (Three’s Company) and Pam Dawber (Mork and Mindy), the movie’s plot includes strong flavors of the metafictional tropes so utterly infused in the recent & much better received WandaVision. “30 years ago, a sci-fi flop beat Marvel to its smartest story idea”.

…In 1992, Stay Tuned was accused of failing to say anything substantial in its send-up of America’s TV addiction. But decades on, the film serves as a forewarning of the dark route TV went down. The prank show genre, for example, has gone to such extremes as staging fake ISIS abductions and simulating plane crashes. The macabre spoof “Autopsies of the Rich and Famous” pretty much become a depressing reality.

Alongside ads for warped products such as The Silencer of the Lambs (muzzles for annoying youngsters) and Yogi Beer (alcohol for kids), and an end-credits sequence that zips through teasers for “Beverly Hills, 90666,” “The Golden Ghouls,” and “I Love Lucifer,” these brief side gags only appear via the Knables’ new-fangled TV set. But most of Stay Tuned’s lampoons play out in full screen, with Roy and Helen front and center after the new satellite dish zaps the bickering pair into Hellavision….

(18) A LUCRATIVE REJECTION. Neil Gaiman reveals he first pitched Sandman to George R.R. Martin for a Wild Cards series and Martin turned him down in this video with Gaiman and Martin that dropped last week: “Why Neil Gaiman Has George R.R. Martin to Thank for The Sandman”.

(19) BILL NYE IS BOOKING. SYFY Wire shares an “Exclusive clip for ‘The End is Nye’ on Peacock”.

SYFY WIRE has an exclusive first look at the all-new clip for the six-episode event series set to debut at Peacock on Aug. 25, and it’s safe to say that Bill’s not backing down from some of the biggest CGI-realized effects ever to bring a science documentary to life. How big are we talking? Like, positively supervolcanic — as in Yellowstone Caldera exploding, mushroom cloud-forming, town-engulfing big.

Bill and his trademark neckwear are in serious jeopardy in the new clip, which finds him flooring it out of a Rocky Mountain hamlet in a frighteningly futile attempt to outrace a superheated, 500 mph pyroclastic flow. Can Bill and his little electric car make it? Well…stick around to the end: It’s definitely Bill Nye like you’ve never seen him.

The blurb for the YouTube trailer says this is what the series is about:

Synopsis: The End is Nye sends Bill Nye into the most epic global disasters imaginable – both natural and unnatural – and then demystifies them using science to show how we can survive, mitigate, and even prevent them. Each stand-alone episode takes a hell-bent dive into the mystery and terror of one specific threat. Every catastrophe is abundant with thrills, but also offers hope and a way forward —a scientific blueprint for surviving anything that comes our way. The series is hosted and executive produced by Emmy Award winner and renowned science educator, engineer, author, and inventor Bill Nye. Each episode also features a brief cameo by longtime science advocate and series EP Seth MacFarlane.

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Rich Horton, Daniel Dern, Clifford Samuels, John Winkelman, Dennis Howard, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Chris Barkley, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day JeffWarner returns, because he isn’t donne yet.]

Pixel Scroll 8/8/22 Cause Your Scrolling Lifts Me Higher, Like The Sweet Song Of A Choir

(1) EYE ON THE PRIZE. Iron Truth author Sofie Tholin, winner of the first Self-Published Science Fiction Competition, has received her trophy from Hugh Howey.

(2) FELICITATIONS! SJW’s assemble! It’s “International Cat Day”. (As opposed to National Cat Day, which is October 29.)

(3) PAWS FOR GENRE. [Item by Daniel Dern.] Over on a mailing list, a (so far) brief discussion of “grinning like a Cheshire cat” came up.

In the 150th anniversary version of The Annotated Alice, a page-and-a-half comment discussion on this starts on page 73. (Other CC-related annotations show up a few pages later.) (If you’ve got the original hardcover Annotated Alice, from 1960, like the one I won at summer camp either in 1962 or 1963, there’s a much shorter annotation comment on page 83.)

And out on the Internet:

“The term grin like a Cheshire cat predates the publication of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by at least seventy-five years, if not longer”

along with this suggestion/explanation for the idiom:

“Cheshire is a county in England that is known for its milk and cheese products, surely a reason for Cheshire cats to smile….The most intriguing story may be that at one time a cheese was manufactured in Cheshire county that was shaped like a cat. The cheese was eaten from tail to head, leaving the cat’s smile as the last part of the cheese to be consumed”

“the phrase crops up in English literature as early as 1788, where it appears an entry in a sort of slang dictionary of the time, Francis Grose’s A Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue.”

Playlist/Lagniappe: And here’s Sammy Davis Jr, who voiced The Cheshire Cat in the 1966 Hanna Barbara ABC-TV animated movie, singing “What’s A Nice Kid Like You Doing In A Place Like This?”

(4) PUBLISHER REBRANDS. Tom Doherty Associates has rebranded itself Tor Publishing Group, effective immediately. Tor president and publisher Devi Pillai said in the announcement, “Although the Tor name has always been associated with science fiction and fantasy, our list has included titles beyond that genre since our inception. With this name change and continued growth, the Tor name will now stand for quality in various types of genre publishing, with each imprint representing a distinct voice.” “Tom Doherty Associates Is Now Tor Publishing Group” at Tor.com.

(5) ALAMAT. [Item by Chris Garcia.] We here at Journey Planet have been working hard as we barrel towards Worldcon where many of us will be seeing one another for the first time since 2019-ish. Chris and James are joined by 2022 Hugo nominees Jean Martin and Chuck Serface for an issue looking at Filipino myth, legend, and folklore, alamat in Tagalog. 

Jean provides an excellent introduction to the zine and her journey into myth and legend, and writers Pat M. Yulo, Karl Gaverza, Claire Mercado-Obias, Gerard Galo, Jimuel Villarosa Miraber, and James Bacon provide fine words on the subject. 

Art from Franz Lim, Diana Padullo, Leandro Geniston, Clair Mercado-Obias, Alfred Ismael Galaroza, and Jimuel Villarosa Mirabar is also joined by a couple of pieces from the AI art-generator DALL*E 2, and graphic design elements from Chris’ 1960s airline menu collection! 

It’s all available at Journey Planet 64 – “Alamat”.

Journey Planet 64 cover

(6) ATOMIC PILES. First Fandom Experience’s latest post in support of the “1946 Project” at Chicon 8 is “The Fan Cave, c1940s”. They’ve reproduced “narrative tours” of the dedicated fan spaces created by Bob Tucker, Harry Warner Jr., and Ron Holmes.

The “experience” component of “First Fandom Experience” conveys our desire to capture what it was like to be an early fan. To date we’ve dedicated the most space to fannish interactions — clubs, correspondence, conventions, conflicts. But fans spent most of their time at home. Those fortunate enough to have even a semi-permanent residence literally papered their walls with the accumulated evidence of their devotion to science fiction….

(7) FREE READ. The Sunday Morning Transport offers Michael Swanwick’s “The Warm Equations”.

Welcome to the first, free-to-read Sunday Morning Transport story for August: science fiction from Michael Swanwick. Concise and epic, “The Warm Equations,” explores a different side of the choices we may make in space.  ~ Fran Wilde, August 7, 2022.

(8) PRINCE AND REPRINTS. Jason Sanford has written a follow-up Twitter thread about the SF Insiders post commenting on Best Editor Short Form finalist Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki (who they ranked last) and the merits of reprint anthology work.  The thread starts here.

Jeff VanderMeer also drew on his experience in a comment to Sanford:

(9) ORVILLE MOURNS. “’The Orville’ Honors Norm Macdonald in Yaphit Tribute Video” at The Wrap.

“The Orville” honored Norm Macdonald in a tribute video posted Friday showcasing the late comedian and actor’s moments on the show as lovable Gelatin Lieutenant Yaphit….

(10) OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN (1948-2022). Actress and singer Olivia Newton-John died August 8 at the age of 73. Her husband made the announcement on Facebook. Her genre credits include the movies Xanadu and Sharknado 5: Global Swarming.

(11) MEMORY LANE.  

2009 [By Cat Eldridge.] Ravens in the Library: Magic in the Bard’s Name (2009)

I get a lot of personally signed books and Ravens in The Library showed up in the post some thirteen years ago with a note asking if Green Man would review it. I already knew of SJ Tucker, a singer-songwriter who does a lot of filk, sort of filk and of course straight singer-songwriter material. You can hear her doing Catherynne Valente’s “A Girl in The Garden” here, riffing The Orphan’s Garden as she gave it to Green Man

She also writes children’s books and we reviewed one here, Rabbit’s Song, she wrote with Trudy Herring. 

Sadly she got a severe illness starting in 2008 caused her to have a very long hospital stay and related surgery, and left her to recover under the weight of massive medical bills. As you well know, independent musicians don’t have deep pockets, so her friends launched a number of projects to generate the needed monies. 

So what did they do? Well the most successful project is sitting on my desk, The Ravens in the Library anthology. Three hundred and seventy pages of ballads, poems, songs and stories amply illustrated by far too many stellar artists too note here. The great cover which you can see below is James A. Owen

The writers here are, well, let’s just say I was gobsmacked. Charles de Lint, and Terri Winding, and Neil Gaiman. Ari Berk usually known for his illustrations does a story too, as does Catherynne Valente, Holly Black, and, of course, S.J. Tucker contribute excellent work too. It would be wrong to overlook the work by writers that I’ve never heard of, most likely from the fan community, who are just as great. 

So how successful was it? This anthology in less than a week paid off all of her considerable medical bills. Very impressive! 

I’d be remiss not to mention the excellent editing work of Phil Brucato and Sandra Buskirk. 

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 8, 1905 Reginald Lal Singh. Indian-born actor. He portrayed Captain Chandra in Star Trek’s “Court Martial”. He can also be seen by use of archival footage from The Day the Earth Stood Still in the Star Trek: Strange New Worlds’ “Strange New Worlds” episode. He was a military officer in the fifties War of the Worlds. (Died 1970.)
  • Born August 8, 1919 Dino De Laurentiis. Responsible for the first Dune obviously (it’s odd to have to state that it’s the first Dune, for decades there was only one) but less obviously also a lot of other genre including two Conan films, Flash GordonKing KongHalloween II and Halloween IIIDead Zone and The Last Legion. His company even made Army of Darkness! (Died 2010.)
  • Born August 8, 1920 Jack Speer. He is without doubt one of the founders of fandom and perhaps the first true fan historian having written Up to Now: A History of Science Fiction Fandom covering up to 1939 as well as the first Fancyclopedia in 1944. Filking and costume parties are also widely credited to him as well.  Mike has a proper remembrance here. (Died 2008.)
  • Born August 8, 1930 Terry Nation. Best known as scriptwriter for Doctor Who and creator of the Daleks. He later created Blake’s 7. He would also write scripts for Department SThe Avengers, The Champions and MacGyver. He both Davros and the Daleks on Who. He died from emphysema in Los Angeles aged 66, as he working with actor Paul Darrow who played Kerr Avon on Blake’s 7 in an attempt to revive that series. (Died 1997.)
  • Born August 8, 1935 Donald P. Bellisario, 87. His genre shows include Tales of the Gold Monkey, Airwolf, Magnum P.I. (according to some of you) and of course that truly amazing show Quantum Leap. He was a writer and producer on the original Battlestar Galactica.
  • Born August 8, 1937 Dustin Hoffman, 85. Ahhh Captian Hook, the man who got figuratively swallowed by the vast crocodile in Hook. Yeah I like that film a lot. But then I like the novel very much, too. By no means his only genre appearance as he was Mumbles, Caprice’s fast-talking henchman in Dick Tracy (a film I actually find rather odd), Mr. Edward Magorium in Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium and the voice of Master Shifu in Kung Fu Panda.
  • Born August 8, 1961 Timothy P. Szczesuil, 61. Boston-based con-running fan who chaired Boskone 33 and Boskone 53. He’s also edited or co-edited several books for NESFA, Strange Days: Fabulous Journeys with Gardner Dozois and His Share of Glory: The Complete Short Science Fiction of C. M. Kornbluth
  • Born August 8, 1987 Katie Leung, 35. She played Cho Chang, the first love interest for Harry in the Potter film series. Her only other genre appearance to date is as Dou Ti in Snow in Midsummer at the Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon. Dou E Yuan, often also translated as The Injustice to Dou E, is a Chinese play written by Guan Hanqing (c. 1241–1320) during the Yuan dynasty with serious bloody magic realism in it. End of your history lesson. 

(13) COMICS SECTION.

  • Breaking Cat News ran a series where the cats play an RPG. The first post is on June 20 and it runs through July 9.

(14) SUPERCANCELLATION. They are dropping like flies. “Another Huge DC Superhero Movie Is Dead” reports Giant Freakin Robot.

…Now, Rolling Stone Australia reports that another DC superhero movie is dead, this time, it is Supergirl who will fly no more.

…insiders at Warner Bros. have also said the currently in-development Supergirl film is next to be canceled. The film was planned as a spin-off from the upcoming The Flash, starring Ezra Miller. Supergirl is set to be introduced in The Flash when it is released in 2023, with actress Sasha Calle portraying the blue-suited heroine. 

It should come as no surprise that Supergirl is the next DC superhero project to be retired by the newly cutthroat Warner Bros. Discovery regime and it is likely that it has nothing to do with Batgirl. So far, The Flash has constantly been suffering bad press thanks to its lead actor Ezra Miller. Miller has been embroiled in several criminal charges and allegations over the past year and Warner Bros. has already stated the actor no longer has a future in the DC franchise beyond The Flash. With Miller out of the picture, it is safe to assume any spin-offs related to their lead role will follow suit. It’s worth mentioning that Michael Keaton’s return as Batman in The Flash was also set to be complemented by his appearance as the iconic character in Batgirl…. 

(15) SAFE TO COME OUT NOW. [Item by Soon Lee.]  (Yet) Another “Sandman” Review, but it does capture why this adaptation works. NPR’s Glen Weldon says “Netflix’s ‘The Sandman’ is a long-awaited dream come true”.

First, to the many nervous fans of The Sandman among you:

Relax. They nailed it.

Yeah, it took forever, and a slew of assorted aborted attempts, but the Netflix adaptation of the landmark comic book series just … works.

It succeeds as a faithful presentation of the look, feel and story of the Lord of Dreams as presented in the comics, which was written by Neil Gaiman, with art by Sam Kieth, Mike Dringenberg and many other pencilers and inkers over the years.

Far more importantly, however, it succeeds as a work of adaptation.

Where recent audiobook versions strictly adhered to every infinitesimal detail of the 1989-1995 comic run (and as a result ended up feeling both dated and overwritten), the Netflix series’ grip on the source text is gratifyingly looser. It breathes.

Changes, big and small, have been made to characters and storylines that streamline, update and focus the narrative, now honed to fit the specific propulsive demands of serialized television….

(16) BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD. In “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds: How Starship Enterprise was Redesigned” Variety interviews production designer Jonathan Lee.

…Those elements started with the Bridge, which already made its debut during the second season of “Star Trek: Discovery.” But now that Pike’s Enterprise was getting its own show — one that will hopefully (and boldly) go the distance with a five-year mission — that called for significant revisions to the nerve center of the Enterprise.

“We’ve taken the set that we’ve inherited, but we did a great deal of work,” Lee said. “[Executive Producer] Akiva Goldsman briefed me to bring it back to ‘The Original Series.’ We had to move things around a little bit. We moved the captain’s chair around so that Captain Pike could throw a look to helm and navigations really easily, and that would work with the camera.” And since the viewscreen that was seen in “Discovery” was depicted using visual effects, a physical representation of the viewscreen was designed and added to the Bridge set for “Strange New Worlds.”

Lee also changed the color language from the “Discovery” version of the Enterprise. “It was quite cool with blues and greens and cool yellows. I said, the Bridge must feel warmer, particularly the motion graphics on all the monitors. When you see the before and after, it’s pretty dramatically different, but it’s much more intimate, and it feels more like our show.”

(17) DEEP-SIX IT. Gregory Benford has an idea for removing atmospheric carbon dioxide: “Addressing climate change: plants instead of plants?” in UCI News.

Growing up in Fairhope, Alabama, in the mid-20th century, Gregory Benford engaged in more than his share of character-building employment. In sun-parched farm fields, he chopped sugar cane and bagged potatoes. On shrimping and fishing boats operating out of Mobile Bay, he hauled in nets laden with the ocean’s produce.

Those years of toil on the land and water planted a seed in Benford’s young brain that would, decades later, sprout into CROPS, a nascent commercial enterprise he co-founded that may prove to be one of the most practicable and effective approaches to solving climate change ever devised.

Crops Residue Oceanic Permanent Sequestration is a method of atmospheric carbon dioxide removal that’s simple, straightforward and globally scalable. It relies on the seasonally regulated natural processes of our planet combined with readily available farm labor and unremarkable, centuries-old equipment such as baling wire, trucks and barges. Essentially, CROPS involves bundling agricultural waste into half-ton cubes and transporting them out to the deep sea, where gravity will take them to the ocean floor. Here, the carbon that was once in the air will sit unperturbed for millennia…

(18) JWST NEWS. In the Washington Post, Joel Achenbach gives an overview of the James Webb Space Telescope and the discoveries astronomers have already made with it. “The Webb telescope is astonishing. But the universe is even more so.”.

…Jane Rigby patiently walked me through what the Webb can and can’t do. One thing I learned: Even a million miles from Earth, with that sun shield providing the equivalent of SPF 1 million, the Webb isn’t in total darkness. The heavens glow in the infrared part of the spectrum because of sunlight bouncing off dust.

“It’s our stupid solar system,” Rigby said. “It’s the zodiacal cloud. It’s the light from our own solar system. We’re stuck in our solar system, and we can’t get out of it.”

The Webb probably won’t be able to see the very first stars, she said, “unless they’re kind enough to blow up for us.” But already, the Webb has detected a galaxy that emitted its light just 300 million years after the big bang — easily a record. The instruments on the telescope can do spectroscopy on that light to see what elements are present….

(19) STATE OF THE ART! ATARI 800. Paul Daniels discuses how he programmed an Atari 800 to create a computer game in this 1983 clip from the BBC that dropped today.

“The massive problem with all of this is that it’s not written for ordinary people, and it’s a shame. The magazines and the manuals are completely non-understandable, it’s gobbledygook.” – Paul Daniels Micro Live takes a trip to Blackpool, where magician, presenter and self-taught computer programmer Paul Daniels is hard at work coding his first computer game – Paul Daniels’ Magic Adventure – on the Atari 800. Will you like it? Daniels feels that the unnatural language surrounding computers and their associated literature is a huge barrier to entry for many potential users.

(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Emory Allen asks, “What if you could change your head as easily as you change your clothes? “Detached”.

[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Chris Barkley, Soon Lee, Cath Jackel, Arnie Fenner, Daniel Dern, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Camestros Felapton.]

Pixel Scroll 8/3/22 We Don’t Need No Pixelcation, We Don’t Need No Scroll Control

(1) HUGO VOTING DEADLINE APPROACHES. Chicon 8 reminds everyone that the Hugo Award voting deadline is August 11. Aiyee!

Remember, you have only over one week left to vote for for the 2022 Hugo Awards, the Lodestar Award for best Young Adult Book, and the Astounding Award for Best New Writer!

All ballots must be received by 11 August 2022, 11:59 pm PDT (UTC-7). Access our website link [above] for information on how to access the voters packet, how to vote online, or how to vote by mail.

(2) APPEAL FOR CWCF. Yesterday the Chicon 8 committee also asked for donations for the Chicago Worldcon Community Fund.

The Chicago Worldcon Community Fund (CWCF) needs another $5000 to meet the needs of our community! Can you contribute?

The CWCF is a special fund to help defray the expenses of attending Chicon 8 for non-white fans or program participants, LGBTQIA+ fans or program participants, and local Chicago area fans of limited means.

You can give directly to the fund or even donate a membership you may not use. Even $5 goes a long way!

For donation information or how to apply to the fund, visit our site at the link [above].

(3) REALLY FINISHING A BOOK. Carmen Maria Machado’s newsletter, in “On Writing and the Business of Writing”, considers why authors are tempted to overlook their clear priority.

A very long article about the Jumi Bello plagiarism scandal has come out from AirMail. In brief, if you aren’t familiar with the story: a debut author had her book canceled by the publisher because it contained a significant amount of plagiarism.

The article, which is about what happened and its antecedents and aftermath, is… not great. The journalist focuses on odd, salacious details, fails to draw some obvious points, and misses big questions about the commodification of marginalized identities, the responsibility of due diligence from agents, editors, and publications, how authors often take the fall for systemic industry failures, and the lack of education around the ethics of influence and inspiration1.

I’m not going to address any of those points, though I hope someone does because I think they’re important. But I do think there is something hugely instructive to be taken from this incident—something that teachers of writing and emerging writers alike can learn from—about the business of publishing and the fragility of the creative life.

…This is a story about plagiarism, yes, but it’s also a story about something I see so much of—in my capacity as a teacher, a mentor, and just someone who gets asked about publishing literally constantly. That is, how easy it is to let the desire to be published (and by extension obsessed over by name-brand agents, editors, and publishing houses) completely outstrip the act of writing a good book.

… I was lucky. Jesus was I lucky. Because there’s an alternate universe where I was writing a (more obviously) commercially viable book in grad school and agents fought over me and I published something not done, something closer to my thesis, which had the seeds of a good book but was not, in and of itself, a good book. Instead, I was forced to sit with Her Body and Other Parties until it was ready. I am so fucking grateful that I got to write the book I needed to, even if I resisted that process at every turn….

(4) INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE FOR THE FAN The International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts has announced the ICFA 44 Guest of Honor and Guest Scholar.

  • Guest of Honor — Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki

Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki is an African speculative fiction writer and editor in Nigeria. He has won the Nommo award for Best Speculative Fiction by an African twice, both for Short Story and Novella, as well as the Otherwise and British Fantasy Awards. He is the first African to have won the Nebula Award for Best Novelette with his climate fiction story “O2 Arena,” for which he is also a BSFA, BFA and Nommo Award finalist, and the first African to be a Hugo Award Best Novelette finalist. He is the first African editor to be a finalist in the Hugo Award Best Editor categories and the first BIPOC editor to be a finalist in both the Hugo Award Editing and Fiction categories in the same year. He is the founder of Jembefola Press and the Emeka Walter Dinjos Memorial Award for Disability in Speculative Fiction. He is the first African-born Black writer and the youngest writer to be Guest of Honor at the International Conference for the Fantastic in the Arts.  

  • Guest Scholar – Dr. Isiah Lavender III 

Isiah Lavender III is Sterling-Goodman Professor of English at the University of Georgia, where he researches and teaches courses in African American literature and science fiction. His books include Race in American Science Fiction (Indiana UP, 2011), Black and Brown Planets: The Politics of Race in Science Fiction and Dis-Orienting Planets: Racial Representations of Asia in Science Fiction (UP of Mississippi, 2014 and 2017 respectively), Afrofuturism Rising: The Literary Prehistory of a Movement (Ohio State UP, 2019), and Literary Afrofuturism in the Twenty-First Century (Ohio State UP, 2020), co-edited with Lisa Yaszek. His interview collection Conversations with Nalo Hopkinson is forthcoming from UP of Mississippi in early 2023. He is currently hard at work on The Routledge Handbook of CoFuturisms, co-edited with Bodhisattva Chattopadhyay, Grace Dillon, and Taryne Jade Taylor as well as his manuscript-in-progress Critical Race Theory and Science Fiction. If you would like to know more about Dr. Lavender, check out https://narrativeencounters.aau.at/how-reading-shapes-us-isiah-lavender/

The title of Dr. Lavender’s ICFA Guest Scholar presentation shall be “Imaginary Amendments and Executive Orders: Race in United States Science Fiction.” 

(5) NOT EXACTLY A BIOPIC. The Hollywood Reporter says “Charlize Theron, Alfonso Cuaron Team for Philip K. Dick Family Movie ‘Jane’”, a project that sounds like it will be based on a reality PKD wished he had inhabited. Which is very PKD, as you doubtless already know.

Oscar winners Charlize Theron and Alfonso Cuarón are partnering for Jane, an Amazon feature project based on the personal life of beloved science fiction author Philip K. Dick from his daughter Isa Hackett.

The genre-bending project is based on the relationship between Dick and his twin sister, Jane, who died six weeks after birth. The death affected Dick personally, and also influenced his creative work.

Jane, according to the project’s description, is “a moving, suspenseful and darkly humorous story about a woman’s unique relationship with her brilliant, but troubled twin, who also happens to be the celebrated novelist Philip K. Dick. While attempting to rescue her brother from predicaments both real and imagined, Jane plunges deeper and deeper into a fascinating world of his creation.”…

“The story of Jane has been with me for as long as I can remember,” said Hackett. “Jane, my father’s twin sister who died a few weeks after birth, was at the center of his universe. Befitting a man of his unique imagination, this film will defy the conventions of a biopic and embrace the alternate reality Philip K. Dick so desperately desired—one in which his beloved sister survived beyond six weeks of age. It is her story we will tell, her lens through which we will see him and his imagination. There is no better way to honor him than to grant him his wish, if only for the screen.”

(6) NEW FROM NEVALA-LEE. Cora Buhlert interviewed Alec Nevala-Lee about his brand-new book Inventor of the Future: The Visionary Life of Buckminster Fuller for her “Non-Fiction Spotlight” feature.

Biographies of prominent SFF and SFF-adjacent people are quite common on the Hugo ballot and today’s featured non-fiction book is just such a biography.

Therefore, I am pleased to welcome Alec Nevala-Lee, author of Inventor of the Future: The Visionary Life of Buckminster Fuller to my blog today….

What prompted you to write/edit this book?

I’ve been interested since high school in Fuller, whom I first encountered in the pages of the Whole Earth Catalog. After Astounding, I was looking to expand the range of subjects that I could cover as a writer, and Fuller was an obvious choice—his life expresses many of the themes that I’ve explored in my earlier work, and until now, there’s never been a reliable biography that covered his entire career using the best available sources. I hoped that writing it would be a real intellectual adventure, and it was.

 
(7) START HERE. Becky Spratford’s post in The Line-Up, “These Six Horror Anthologists Are Masterful Curators of Terror”, kicks off with two books edited by Ellen Datlow, so they’re obviously on the right track!

…Anthologies are books that collect short stories by multiple authors, often under a common theme. Because these volumes contain tales by different voices, the work of the editor is extremely important. Not only does the anthologist have to solicit and select the titles to include, but they also have to edit and arrange said stories into a cohesive tome. The very best anthologists are able to expertly walk that line, offering different voices that when expertly brought together, create a unified whole, a single book that readers will enjoy from cover to cover.

Anthologies are also the best way for readers to survey the landscape of a genre, to see a wide variety of styles and voices writing under one umbrella. They also provide a tasting menu of voices familiar and brand new. And if the editor does their job well, readers will finish the book having learned of a few new writers who will be added to their personal to-read pile….

(8) HOW TO SELL A BOOK BY ITS COVER. Sarah A. Hoyt is starting a series about cover creation for indie authors at Mad Genius Club: “The Great Cover Up”.

… Which means this year alone, I’ve laid out a thousand for covers I just couldn’t seem to get right. There are now reasonably priced artists and at the end of the series I’ll give you names and contacts. Also places to buy ready-made and/or decent graphics just needing the lettering. But here is the thing: you still have to know what the cover is supposed To do and what it can do. And what in a cover matters or doesn’t

I guarantee 90% of what you think matters in a cover doesn’t. And vice-versa. And you must know what matters and what a cover is supposed to be, because when that artist/designer hands you Hamlet, you’ll have to explain why it won’t sell cornflakes and why he must prostitute his art to give you a jingle….

(9) LIGHTS OUT. Hollywood accounting played a role in the highly-publicized cancellation of two productions. But that wasn’t the only reason: “The Dish: What’s Behind The ‘Batgirl’ & ‘Scoob!’ Discard? David Zaslav’s Abject Rejection Of Jason Kilar’s HBO Max Strategy” at Deadline.

Why did Warner Bros scrap Batgirl and Scoob! Holiday Haunt?

The cancellation by Warner Bros of two made-for-HBO Max streaming movies came as a shock to the town. There are several threads here, but the move amounts to an emphatic rejection of past WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar’s strategy to make original $70 million live-action and animated films directly for the streaming site.

The makers of the live-action Batgirl and the animated Scoob! learned today that those films were being stopped in their tracks. The timing was particularly awkward for Batgirl co-directors Adil El Arbi and Billal Fallah. Both are in Morocco for El Arbi’s wedding — some wedding present — and they expected to return to the cutting room and continue work on the film that stars Leslie Grace, J.K. Simmons, Brendan Fraser and Michael Keaton.

There were initial cries that the scrapping of Batgirl carried bad optics because the title role is played by a Latina. But there were reasons for the move. In both cases, the filmmakers were told that it came down to a “purchase accounting” maneuver available to Warner Bros Discovery because the company has changed hands, and also changed strategy from the previous regime. This opportunity expires in mid-August, said sources, and it allows WBD to not have to carry the losses on its books at a time when the studio is trying to pare down $3 billion in debt across its divisions.

There has been much speculation on why Batgirl was canceled, having to do with it being a bad movie. …

(10) THE SQUEEZE IS ON. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] An Anonymous Source reveals how hard it is to work on Marvel films. At Vulture: “A VFX Artist Explains What It’s Like Working for Marvel”.

It’s pretty well known and even darkly joked about across all the visual-effects houses that working on Marvel shows is really hard. When I worked on one movie, it was almost six months of overtime every day. I was working seven days a week, averaging 64 hours a week on a good week. Marvel genuinely works you really hard. I’ve had co-workers sit next to me, break down, and start crying. I’ve had people having anxiety attacks on the phone.

The studio has a lot of power over the effects houses, just because it has so many blockbuster movies coming out one after the other. If you upset Marvel in any way, there’s a very high chance you’re not going to get those projects in the future. So the effects houses are trying to bend over backward to keep Marvel happy.

To get work, the houses bid on a project; they are all trying to come in right under one another’s bids. With Marvel, the bids will typically come in quite a bit under, and Marvel is happy with that relationship, because it saves it money. But what ends up happening is that all Marvel projects tend to be understaffed. Where I would usually have a team of ten VFX artists on a non-Marvel movie, on one Marvel movie, I got two including myself. So every person is doing more work than they need to.

The other thing with Marvel is it’s famous for asking for lots of changes throughout the process. So you’re already overworked, but then Marvel’s asking for regular changes way in excess of what any other client does. And some of those changes are really major.…

(11) NECROMANCER RECRUITMENT. The publicity for Tamsyn Muir’s forthcoming novel Nona the Ninth includes the “LOCKED TOMB QUIZ! What Necromantic House Are You??” at Riddle.com.

TLT stans, RISE!

The Emperor needs necromancers, and this is your chance to align with one of the Nine Houses! 

SPOILERS THRU THE END OF HARROW THE NINTH YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED

(12) MEMORY LANE.  

1995 [By Cat Eldridge.] Back in in 1995 Charles Vess self-published a biannual series of illustrated ballads entitled The Book of Ballads and Sagas in a series of four chapbooks, through his Green Man Press. In this series Vess illustrated adaptations of traditional Scottish and English ballads written by a variety of contributors, including Emma Bull, Charles de Lint, Neil Gaiman, Sharyn McCrumb, Jeff Smith, and Jane Yolen.  

Debbie Skolnik reviewed it for Green Man and she noted there that “The ballads are English and Scottish; the sagas are, as their name implies, Norse in origin. There are more ballads than sagas. Actually, there’s only one saga: Skade. Being enthralled by the English and Scottish ballads myself, I am quite familiar with all the stories. Norse mythology, however, I know very little about, so I did a little bit of quick research to familiarize myself with the basic story.”

I read when it came out as I got them sent to me by Vess before I sent them unto Debbie for review. Of course the illustrations by Vess were stellar as everything by Vess is. (I’m writing this under the artwork for the art for the cover art for de Lint’s A Circle of Cats.) So how were the stories?

If you liked of the tale of Thomas The Rhymer, Ellen Kushner has done an excellent version of the story in her book of the same name. Here she retells the tale in a much-shortened version.

Charles de Lint took up the matter in “Twa Corbies” (Two Crows) which deals with the death of a Knight and the Corbies telling his tale. Twa Corbies will become part of his Newford characters in the firm of Maida and Zia, the Crow Girls who are immortal.

Vess himself does Tam Lin and it is one of the best pieces here. The depiction of the cursed Tam Lin turning into various creatures is quite amazing. 

I have barely scratched the surface of what is offered here. If you like this sort of ballads and sagas, I’m sure you’ll love this.

Debbie notes in her review that “Careful readers will note that Steeleye Span has recorded a version of almost all the ballads in this series of books.” That’s certainly true and Vess has acknowledged that he was strongly influenced by that band in selecting the tales here. 

The chapbooks were later printed in a hardcover edition in 2004 by Tor books with some additional material.

(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 3, 1861 Michel Jean Pierre Verne. Son of Jules Verne who we now know rewrote some of his father’s later novels. These novels have since been restored using the original manuscripts which were preserved. He also wrote and published short stories using his father’s name. None of these are the major works Jules is now known for. (Died 1925.)
  • Born August 3, 1904 Clifford Simak. I was trying to remember the first novel by him I read. I’m reasonably sure it was Way Station though it could’ve been City which just won a well-deserved Retro Hugo. I’m fond of Cemetery World and A Choice of Gods as well. By the way I’m puzzled by the Horror Writers Association making him one of their three inaugural winners of the Bram Stoker Award for Lifetime Achievement. What of his is truly horror?  I really can’t think of anything by him that’s truly horror. (Died 1988.)
  • Born August 3, 1920 P. D. James. Author of The Children of Men which she wrote to answer the question “If there were no future, how would we behave?” Made into a film which she said she really liked despite it being substantially different than her novel. I like authors who can do that. ISFDB lists her as having done a short story called “Murder, 1986” which they say is genre but I’ve not read it. (Died 2014.)
  • Born August 3, 1940 Martin Sheen, 82. So that was who that was! On Babylon 5: The River of Souls, there’s a Soul Hunter but the film originally didn’t credit an actor who turns out to be Sheen. Amazing performance. He’s been in a number of other genre roles but that’s the ones I like most. Though I will single him out for voicing Arthur Square in Flatland: The Movie.
  • Born August 3, 1946 John DeChancie, 76, A native of Pittsburgh, he is best known for his Castle fantasy series, and his SF Skyway series. He’s fairly prolific even having done a Witchblade novel. So who here has read him? Opinions please. And no, I didn’t know there were Witchblade novels. 
  • Born August 3, 1950 John Landis, 72. He’d make this Birthday List if all he’d done was An American Werewolf in London, but he was also Director / Producer / Writer of the Twilight Zone movie. And wrote Clue which is the best Tim Curry role ever. And Executive Produced one of the best SF comedies ever, Amazon Women on the Moon. Neat fact: he was the puppeteer for Grover in The Muppet Movie, and he later played Leonard Winsop in The Muppets Take Manhattan
  • Born August 3, 1972 Brigid Brannagh, 50. Also credited as Brigid Brannagh, Brigid Brannah, Brigid Brannaugh, Brigid Walsh, and Brigid Conley Walsh. Need an Irish red headed colleen in a genre role? Well she apparently would do. She shows up in Kindred: The EmbraceAmerican GothicSliders, Enterprise (as a bartender in one episode), RoarTouched by an AngelCharmedEarly Edition, Angel (as Virginia Bryce in a recurring role), GrimmSupernatural and she had a run in Runaways in the main role of Stacey Yorkes.

(14) COMICS SECTION.

(15) MR. MEME. In the Washington Post, Michael Cavna looks at the “Mr. Men” characters created by British illustrator Roger Hargreaves in the 1970s have now become popular memes. “’Little Miss [Blank]’: How a kid-book meme became viral comedy”.

… Fast-forward to this month, when one Instagram account alone — “LittleMissNotesApp” — has attracted nearly 2 million followers by posting the Hargreaves’ characters beneath such captions as, “Little Miss Lexapro,” “Mr. Vape Cloud” and “Little Miss Aggressive Drunk.” The account gives credit to the user “Juulpuppy,” who last spring began posting such art updates as “Little Miss Weed Psychosis.”…

(16) FLAME OFF. CBR’s Jerry Stanford came up with “10 Jokes From The Golden Age Of Marvel Comics That Wouldn’t Be Printed Today”.

Asbestos Was Overused, Making It An Unintentional Joke Years Later.

In the Golden Age, Marvel’s Human Torch seemed unstoppable, so criminals, Nazis, and other villains resorted to asbestos, a material that became popular for its resistance to fire. In the 1970s, it also became known for causing cancer.

While the use of asbestos was not originally played for humor, the best-known example of this is Asbestos Lady, who clothed herself head-to-toe in the carcinogenic material. However, the funniest example comes from All-Winners Comics #11, where a villain known as the Hawk traps the Human Torch and Toro in an airtight, asbestos-lined dungeon. The Torch’s hyperbole call the sealed room “a death trap.” Time has made this an unintentional joke.

(17) INSIDER INFORMATION. “Neil Gaiman Knows What Happens When You Dream”. And he shares that with the New York Times.

For the last five or six years, we’ve been living through what feels like almost unfathomable turmoil, and I think a lot of people see this period as an unprecedented chapter in the human story. But when it comes to stories, I basically believe in Ecclesiastes’ “There is nothing new under the sun.” So my question to you is whether you think we are living in a new story — or is it just new to us? 

This reminds me of something that happened after the Sept. 11 attacks. When we could fly again, I flew to Trieste, Italy, for a conference. I remember going into a display of Robert Capa photographs taken in that area during World War II. Until that moment, I had regarded World War II as being unimaginably distant in time. It was this thing that had happened in history, that had happened to my family — basically all of them were killed; a couple of outliers made it to England — but that was history. That happened then. But there was something very strange about looking at those Robert Capa photos post-9/11, because they made me go, Those people are us. I feel the same way today. History is now. But I’m also getting more obsessive about human beings over huge swaths of time. Part of that came out of being on the Isle of Skye during the serious U.K. lockdown. On Skye, if there’s a rock somewhere, it’s probably because somebody put it there. I realized that the rock that I was using to keep the lid on my dustbin was a stone that had been dragged around. People have been in this place for thousands and thousands of years, and in this bay I’m living in, they’ve left behind rocks! Realizing that about the rocks makes you take the long view. Which is that the human race is mostly people just trying to live their lives, and that bad [expletive] is going to happen. That then moves you into other territory….

(18) THAT DARNED ELUSIVE EARENDEL. Or so the Baroness Orczy might have phrased the news. “James Webb Space Telescope sees Earendel, most distant star” and Space.com shares the image.

The James Webb Space Telescope has caught a glimpse of the most distant star known in the universe, which had been announced by scientists using Webb’s predecessor the Hubble Space Telescope only a few months ago. 

The star, named Earendel, after a character in J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings” prequel “The Silmarillion,” was discovered thanks to gravitational lensing in a Hubble Space Telescope deep field image. The star, whose light took 12.9 billion light-years to reach Earth, is so faint that it might be rather challenging to find it in the new James Webb Space Telescope image, which was released on Twitter on Tuesday (Aug. 2) by a group of astronomers using the account Cosmic Spring JWST(opens in new tab). 

The original Hubble image provides some guidance as to where to look through the zoomed-in cut-out. Essentially, Earendel, is the tiny whitish dot below a cluster of distant galaxies. By comparing the Hubble image with that captured by Webb, you can find the elusive Earendel….

(19) KEEP WATCHING THE TREE. “This Mystery Orb From the Sky Has Baffled Us All”, which is saying a lot for something reported on Popular Mechanics.

Social media is awash with theories about the origin and purpose of a strange, smooth, solid object, which landed on a tree in Veracruz, Mexico, the night of July 31.

Isidro Cano Luna, a television meteorologist reporting on the mystery, says locals described the sphere making a sound as it fell, but releasing no fire. He posted several messages to his more than 132,000 followers about the object, along with photos of what appears to be a dull, yellow sphere the size of a large beach ball perched atop a tree.

… Luna describes the sphere in all caps in his posts. It seems to be made of “A VERY HARD PLASTIC OR AN ALLOY OF VARIOUS METALS,” and “APPARENTLY IT HAS AN ANTENNA,” he says. Luna wonders if it could be a former chunk of a Chinese rocket that crashed back to Earth and landed in the Indian Ocean over the weekend. Perhaps it could be radioactive, he writes, warning people who see it not to get too close. There’s no apparent way to get inside the orb, either. It has a a code visible on its exterior, he says in an August 1 post. “NOTICE SMALL HOLES THAT ARE A KIND OF [INDECIPHERABLE] CODES.”

(20) GOING VIRAL. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] The BBC explains a computer virus in this report from March 1992.

(21) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Ryan George reveals that a time traveler from 2022 has a very hard time explaining Elon Musk to the people of 1996.

[Thanks to Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Brian Z., Michael J. Walsh, Todd Mason, 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 Soon Lee.]

Pixel Scroll 8/1/22 The Scrolls Finally Busted Madame Marie For Filing Pixels Better Than They Did

(1) CHICON 8 SITE SELECTION OPENS 8/6. Site Selection Administrator Warren Buff wrote to members today that voting for the location of both the 2024 Worldcon and the 2023 NASFiC will open August 6.

Also that day there will be a Q&A session with the bidders over Zoom (Saturday, August 6, at 12:00 p.m. Central).  The public is welcome to view the Zoom event, however, the committee asks that they request the link by emailing siteselection@chicon.org.

Electronic/online voting will be a new option, alongside paper voting, this year. Chicon 8 has selected ElectionBuddy for this service. An explanation will be given during the Q&A session on the 6th. Members will also be provided documentation online.

(2) FUTURE TENSE. Here is the July 2022 entry in the Center for Science and the Imagination’s  Future Tense Fiction series, published this past Saturday: “All That Burns Unseen,” by Premee Mohamed, a story about the future of fighting wildfires.

The plane had no pilot. Vaughn, who had wandered into the cockpit to find someone to talk to, found herself more startled than shocked by this—after all, her boss had said about half the flights going up to the fires were self-flown—but there had certainly been a pilot when she’d boarded. He must have disembarked in Cold Lake, where they had stopped so briefly that Vaughn hadn’t even bothered unfastening her seat belt. Either way, the Hercules was now, undeniably, flying itself…. 

It was published along with a response essay by Meg Duff, an expert in environmental politics and climate law. “Firefighting chemicals are dangerous for the environment. Can that change?”

(3) WELLER OUT. Columbia College Chicago professor Sam Weller has been terminated following an investigation of accusations of sexual assault reports The Columbia Chronicle. He is a four-time Bram Stoker Award nominee for his work as a Bradbury biographer.

Tenured professor Sam Weller, who was accused of sexual assault by a former faculty member in February, has been terminated by the college.

In an email statement, President and CEO Kwang-Wu Kim announced that Weller, who was an associate professor in the English and Creative Writing Department, was issued a Notice of Dismissal earlier today as a result of the investigation conducted by the law firm Mayer Brown LLP.

“Based on Mayer Brown’s findings that Professor Weller engaged in conduct that violated the college’s sexual harassment and other policies, Provost Marcella David concluded that the conduct warranted termination,” the statement read.

Cara Dehnert, a former associate professor of instruction in the Business and Entrepreneurship Department, accused Weller of sexually assaulting her in her office in 2018 in an article published to Medium Feb. 12.

Dehnert said she spoke with Human Resources in a February 2020 meeting where she told then-Associate Vice President of Human Relations Norma De Jesus “everything,” and provided texts, emails and Facebook messages between her and Weller, but never heard from Human Resources again following the meeting. 

De Jesus resigned from her position at the college two weeks ago on June 24…. 

(4) A REACH THAT EXCEEDS. “’I can’t do superheroes, but I can do gods’: Neil Gaiman on comics, diversity and casting Death” – the Guardian profiles the Sandman creator. Here’s what he thought when he started out:

…“Bear in mind, at this point I’ve written and sold maybe four short stories and [comic miniseries] Black Orchid. And now I’m going to have to do a monthly comic,” he says. “And I have no idea whether or not I can do it. I don’t think I have the engine to write a superhero comic. I’ve watched what Alan Moore does, what Grant Morrison does. These guys have superhero engines, they can do them; I don’t have that.”

Gaiman needed another way in, and it came via a US science-fiction author. “Roger Zelazny did a book called Lord of Light, where he did science-fictional gods who feel like superheroes,” says Gaiman. “It’s set in a world in the future where a bunch of space explorers have given themselves the powers of the Hindu pantheon. I thought: I can’t do superheroes, but I could do god comics. I bet I could get that kind of feeling to happen, and it might feel enough like a superhero comic to fool people.”…

(5) TESTING THE TURING TEST. Mohanraj and Rosenbaum Are Humans podcast episode 39 is about “Ted Chiang and the Metrics of Personhood”.

Surprise! It’s a bonus season 1 episode we’ve been keeping on the back burner! Ted Chiang comes onto the show to have a discussion with Ben about what it means to be a person, whether Alan Turing’s test for artificial intelligence still holds up, and the persistent themes of parenting and religion in Chiang’s work.

Content warning for a potentially ableist use of a congenital disease as an example of the theological problem of innocent suffering.

(6) TRIAL BEGINS. “Penguin Random House-S&S Acquisition Case Goes to Court” – an update from Publishing Perspectives.

It was on November 25, 2020, when it was announced that Penguin Random House‘s parent company Bertelsmann had struck a deal to buy Simon & Schuster for US$2.175 billion.  And it was nine years and a month ago—July 1, 2013—when another merger was completed, the one that brought Penguin and Random House together.

Oral arguments are scheduled to begin today (August 1) in the antitrust suit filed by the United States Department of Justice, a case with which the government proposes to block the merger of PRH and S&S.

The case, being heard by Judge Florence Pan at Washington’s US District Court for the District of Columbia (the Prettyman Courthouse), brings home the fact that those who object to consolidation among the book business’ biggest players aren’t wrong that things actually are moving quite quickly. These two major inflection points are occurring in under a decade.

That’s one reason that this American antitrust trial has a lot of interest for our international readership, of course. The case in Washington is focused on Penguin Random House as the States’ biggest publisher and Simon & Schuster as one of PRH’s sisters in the US “Big Five”—which could become the “Big Four,” if Bertelsmann and Penguin Random House are successful the bid to buy S&S. These industry-leading companies, however, have profound presence in many markets of world publishing, and so, in fact, does an issue on which the government’s case turns very heavily: author compensation.

Author Stephen King is expected to testify at Tuesday’s session: “Stephen King is star witness as government tries to block publishing giants’ merger” reports the Portland Press Herald.

… The government’s star witness, bestselling author Stephen King, is expected to testify at Tuesday’s session of the weekslong trial in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. King’s works are published by Simon & Schuster.

At Monday’s opening session, opposing attorneys for the two sides presented their cases before U.S. District Judge Florence Pan.

Justice Department attorneys called the merger “presumptively wrong” because it would shrink competition and, inevitably, the vital public discourse that books help engender. Penguin Random House countered that the new company would “enhance” competition because the combined company could turn out books more efficiently….

(7) LABORING IN THE VINEYARD. Sharon Lee’s post “In which the authors are working” includes some Trader’s Leap spoilers, should you be in the market for some.

Much like being a Liaden Scout, being a writer is 98% mucking around in the mud, and 2% excitement.

And, after a brief period of excitement, we’re back to Business as Usual, which is exciting enough for those doing the work, but makes for poor telling….

(8) SOMEBODY OWES HIM MONEY. Cory Doctorow explains why he won’t let his books appear on Audible in “Pluralistic: 25 Jul 2022”. The long saga includes this bit of comic relief:

…We’re going to be rolling out a crowdfunding campaign for the Chokepoint Capitalism audiobook in a couple of weeks (the book comes out in mid-September). …And it won’t be available on Audible. Who owe me $3,218.55.

But you know what will be available on Audible?

This. This essay, which I am about to record as an audiobook, to be mastered by my brilliant sound engineer John Taylor Williams, and will thereafter upload to ACX as a self-published, free audiobook.

Perhaps you aren’t reading these words off your screen. Perhaps you are an Audible customer who searched for my books and only found this odd, short audiobook entitled: “Why none of my books are available on Audible: And why Amazon owes me $3,218.55.”

I send you greetings, fellow audiobook listener!

…In the meantime, there is now a Kindle edition of this text:

I had to put this up, it’s a prerequisite for posting the audio to ACX. I hadn’t planned on posting it, but since they made me, I did.

Bizarrely, this is currently the number one new Amazon book on Antitrust Law!

(9) MEMORY LANE.  

1977 [By Cat Eldridge.] Now I’m feeling old as I clearly remember watching this episode, the next-to-last one of the series. Holmes & Yoyo’s “The Cat Burglar“ aired forty-five years ago on this date on ABC. Someone is stealing well loved felines for ransom from wealthy ladies, and Holmes and Yoyo set out to catch the cat stealer. 

Look no one is ever going to accuse Holmes & Yoyo, which lasted a mere thirteen episodes, of being deep or meaningful because it wasn’t. Was it good SF? Not really? Was it a decent detective series? Oh no, but despite that, it was fun to watch. 

And this story was proof of that in, errrr, the number of cats under foot. It’s lightweight and no one but one gets hurt, it’s got John Schuck at his very, very comic best and it’s got cats in it. None of which get hurt. 

I don’t think that series could’ve gone any further than it did as there just wasn’t anything there to build off, was there? To say to the premise was thin would be an understatement. 

I hold that John Schuck is best in his comic roles and that includes his role as Draal on Babylon 5 which had a measure of comedy the way he presented himself. Herman Munster on The Munsters Today may have been his best role ever, and the Lt. Charles Enright character on the McMillan & Wife series (which yes, I watched and liked a lot) had more than a bit of comic relief in it. And I adore his take on M.A.S.H. as Capt. ‘Painless’ Waldowski. I’ve watched that film at least a half dozen times now. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 1, 1862 M.R. James. Writer of some of the best ghost stories ever done. A Pleasing Terror: The Complete Supernatural Writings, released in 2001 from Ash-Tree Press has forty stories which includes the thirty stories from Collected Ghost Stories plus the 3 tales published after that, and the seven from The Fenstanton Witch and Others. It’s apparently the most complete collection of his stories to date. Or so I though until I checked online. The Complete Ghost Stories of M.R. James, over seven hundred pages, is available from the usual suspects for a mere buck ninety-nine! (Died 1939.)
  • Born August 1, 1910 Raymond A. Palmer. Editor of Amazing Stories from 1938 through 1949. He’s credited, along with Walter Dennis, with editing the first fanzine, The Comet, in May 1930. The secret identity of DC character the Atom as created by genre writer Gardner Fox is named after Palmer. Very little of his fiction is available from the usual suspects. Member, First Fandom Hall of Fame. He was nominated five times for a Retro Hugo for Best Editor, Short Form, and once as Best Professional Editor, Short Form. (Died 1977.)
  • Born August 1, 1914 Edd Cartier. Illustrator who received the World Fantasy Award for lifetime achievement, the first artist to receive that honor. His artwork was first published in Street and Smith publications, including The Shadow, to which he provided many interior illustrations, and Astounding Science Fiction, Doc Savage Magazine and Unknown as well. (Died 2008.)
  • Born August 1, 1930 Geoffrey Holder. You’ll likely best remember him for his performance as Baron Samedi in Live and Let Die but he’s also the narrator in Tim Burton’s rather awful Charlie and The Chocolate Factory. He was also Willie Shakespeare in Doctor Doolittle but it’s been so long since I saw the film that I can’t picture his character. And he was The Cheshire Cat in the Alice in Wonderland that had Richard Burton as The White Knight. Weird film that. (Died 2014.)
  • Born August 1, 1932 Paddy Chayefsky. In our circles known as the writer of the Altered States novel that he also wrote the screenplay for. He is the only person to have won three solo Academy Awards for Best Screenplay. The other winners of three Awards shared theirs. He did not win for Altered States though he did win for Network which I adore. (Died 1981.)
  • Born August 1, 1941 Craig Littler, 70. His main genre role was as space adventurer Jason in Jason of Star Command which of course James Doohan was in as well. If you look closely, you’ll spot him briefly in Blazing Saddles as Tex and Rosemary’s Baby as Jimmy as well. And he has one-offs in The Next BeyondAirWolf and Team Knight Rider. Team Knight Rider? Really, they didn’t know when to stop?
  • Born August 1, 1942 Jerry Garcia. Lead vocalist of the Grateful Dead. The Dead did some songs that were SF as SFE notes. The song “The Music Never Stopped” (on Blues for Allah, 1975) borrows its title from a sentence in Alfred Bester’s The Stars My Destination (1956) and was possibly inspired by that novel.  And SFE notes that the band was hired to compose and perform some appropriately outré music for the first revival of the Twilight Zone television series.  There’s lots more connections to SF but I’ll stop by saying that Garcia played the banjo heard in the first remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. (Died 1995.)
  • Born August 1, 1948 David Gemmell. Best remembered for his first novel, Legend, the first book in his long-running Drenai series. He would go on to write some thirty novels. The David Gemmell Awards for Fantasy were presented from 2009 to 2018, with a stated goal to “restore fantasy to its proper place in the literary pantheon”. (Died 2006.)
  • Born August 1, 1955 Annabel Jankel, 67. Director who was first a music video director and then the co-creator and director of Max Headroom. She conceptualized Max. She and her partner Rocky Morton first created and directed The Max Talking Headroom Show, a mix of interviews and music vids which aired on Channel 4 (where it was sponsored by Coca-Cola) and HBO. Jankel and Morton would go on to direct Super Mario Bros. And they’re both responsible for the Max Headroom movie and series. I haven’t heard if she has a role in the forthcoming rebooted Max Headroom series.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) DEJA VIEW. That NPR is a radio network doesn’t keep them from reaching for this optical analogy: “Seeing double: Near-identical films that came out at the same time”. Surely you’ve noticed yourself that this happens. And many of the movies are genre.

They are showdowns that didn’t need to happen — rival studios staring each other down, refusing to blink.

In 1998, Earth-snuffing asteroids got blown up in the nick of time by nuclear warheads, not once but twice, in Armageddon and Deep Impact. That same year, animated insects skittered onto movie screens in Antz and A Bug’s Life — and just a year earlier, dueling lava flows erupted in Dante’s Peak and Volcano.

And in 2013, Jesse Eisenberg starred in The Double, and Jake Gyllenhaal in Enemy, each as a man tormented by his doppelganger (and wouldn’t you know that Enemy was based on a novel called…wait for it… The Double.)…

(13) ACT NOTABLE AWARDS. [Item by Dann.] A.C.T. (Australia Capitol Territory) Writers presented their awards for 2020 and 2021 over the weekend.  Covid caused them to not have an awards ceremony for 2020.

T.R. Napper’s collection of science fiction stories called Neon Leviathan won in for fiction in 2020 under the Small Press category. The collection was published by GrimDark Magazine.

(14) MORE MUNROE DOCTRINES. Randall Munroe has a new book coming out in September. “Randall Munroe – Sixth & I. At the link you have the option to buy in-person or virtual tickets to see Munroe in conversation with Derek Thompson on September 14 at 7:00 p.m. Eastern.

Planning to ride a fire pole from the moon back to Earth? The hardest part is sticking the landing. Hoping to cool the atmosphere by opening everyone’s freezer door at the same time? Maybe it’s time for a brief introduction to thermodynamics. For the answers to the rest of the weirdest questions you never thought to ask, “xkcd” creator and former NASA roboticist Randall Munroe is back with What If? 2: Additional Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions.

(15) IN THE BEGINNING. Bill jumped in his TARDIS and returned with a clipping of this early advertisement for Nichelle Nichols when she was a nightclub singer. From the Honolulu Advertiser, Aug 4, 1960.

(16) SUPER CLEAN. WLKY captures the scene as “’Superhero’ window washers scale Norton Children’s Hospital again”.

It’s a bird. It’s a plane. No, it’s superheroes outside of patient windows at Norton Children’s Hospital again!

That’s exactly what kids and their families at Norton Children’s Hospital in downtown Louisville got on Monday morning as window washers traded in their cleaning uniforms for capes and masks.

The goal is to give sick children a surprise several stories high as a crew from Pro Clean International dress as superheroes to wash the exterior windows of the hospital.

CEO of Pro-Clean International, and ‘Iron Man’, Joe Haist says, he got the idea from personal experience. “I have a special needs child that was born blind with special needs” said Haist, “I know that sometimes you go to the hospital, you’re there for a long time and there’s not a lot to see or do and there’s not a lot of happiness. So it’s really a great moment to really kind of bring people with some happiness.”

They have done this at least the past few years.

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] This video from Alasdair Beckett-King dropped today. “Every Internet Video From 2003 (not literally)”.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Chris Barkley, Bill, Warren Buff, Dann, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jeff Smith.]