Pixel Scroll 6/25/22 File The Pixels, Lest They Squeak Or Scroll

(1) OKORAFOR’S LOVE FOR COMICS. It started when she was seven: “From Garfield to Black Panther: Nnedi Okorafor on the Power of Comics” at Literary Hub.

My path to writing the big black cat started with a fat orange cat.

I’ve always been attracted to comics. Even before the word, it was the black line that drew me (pun intended). It began when I was about seven years old in the early ’80s with . . . Garfield. My father was an avid Chicago Sun-Times newspaper reader, and every day he would sit at the dinner table and read it. It was while hanging around him that I noticed that there was a comics page every day. The Family CircusHi and LoisBloomsburyCalvin and HobbesMommaZiggy—there were so many I enjoyed. And, oh man, on Sunday, there were pages of comics, and they were in color! I loved these little stories told in pictures. But I became most obsessed with Garfield….

(2) FUTURE TENSE. “This, But Again” by David Iserson, about life as a recurring simulation, is this month’s story from Future Tense Fiction, a monthly series from Future Tense and Arizona State University’s Center for Science and the Imagination about how technology and science will change our lives.

There’s an accompanying response essay by Eric Schwitzgebel, “If We’re Living in a Simulation, the Gods Might Be Crazy”.

That we’re living in a computer simulation—it sounds like a paranoid fantasy. But it’s a possibility that futurists, philosophers, and scientific cosmologists treat increasingly seriously. Oxford philosopher and noted futurist Nick Bostrom estimates there’s about a 1 in 3 chance that we’re living in a computer simulation. Prominent New York University philosopher David J. Chalmers, in his recent book, estimates at least a 25 percent chance. Billionaire Elon Musk says it’s a near-certainty. And it’s the premise of this month’s Future Tense Fiction story by David Iserson, “This, but Again.”

Let’s consider the unnerving cosmological and theological implications of this idea. If it’s true that we’re living in a computer simulation, the world might be weirder, smaller, and more unstable than we ordinarily suppose…

(3) KEEP WATCHING THE SKIES. “See rare alignment of 5 planets and moon in stunning photo” at Space.com.

The rare sight of five bright planets lining up with the moon wowed skywatchers around the world Friday, with some gearing up for more this weekend to see a planetary sight that won’t happen again until 2040.

Throughout June, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn have lined up from left to right, in their orbital order from the sun, before dawn in the southeastern sky. Early Friday (June 24), the moon joined the planet parade in an awesome sight captured by astrophotographer Wright Dobbs, a meteorologist for the U.S. National Weather Service in Tallahassee, Florida….

(4) “US IN FLUX” RETURNS. In 2020 ASU’s Center for Science and Imagination published Us in Flux, a series of 11 flash-fiction stories and virtual events about community, collaboration, and resilience in the face of transformative events. They’re back!

This summer, we’re presenting a second cycle of Us in Flux stories and events, providing glimpses of better futures shaped by new social arrangements, communities, and forms of governance, with a focus on bottom-up creativity and problem-solving at the local level. Our stories will present civic experiments, envisioning the collectives, systems, and activities that could power the functional, equitable, and thriving communities of the future.  

 We’ll publish one story and host one event each month from June to September 2022.

 Our first story is “Becoming Birch” by Carter Meland, about rock music, unexpected connections, and northern Minnesota forests. The story is available to read now, And you can view a conversation about the story’s themes and implications with Carter and Grace Dillon, professor of Indigenous Nations Studies at Portland State University and editor of Walking the Clouds: An Anthology of Indigenous Science Fiction.

(5) YOU’RE OUT OF THERE. The #KickedFromTheJediOrderFor meme has inspired some funny tweets (and some obnoxious duds, what else is new?) Here are two I liked.

(6) SLOWER THAN LIGHT. James Davis Nicoll ransacks the genre for “Scientifically Plausible SF Settings That Provide an Alternative to FTL Travel” at Tor.com.

Suppose for the moment that one was a science fiction author and was trying to imagine a plausible setting in which a multitude of inhabited worlds were within easy, quick reach. Further suppose that one did not care to discard relativity, but likewise was not keen on a setting where time dilation plays a significant role. What is one to do?

How many authors have tried to come up with settings that meet all these demands? More than you’d expect….

(7) PAGES OUT OF HISTORY.  Publisher Penguin has established an online gallery, The Art of Penguin Science Fiction. Click on individual covers to see them larger. The Table of contents link takes you to a chronological discussion of the designs and artists.

(8) GORN WITH THE WIND. MeTV drops the challenge: “How well do you know the memorable Gorn episode of Star Trek?” I got 9 out of 12 – I expect you to do better!

The original Star Trek series was philosophical, strange, deadly serious and wonderfully wacky – sometimes all in the same episode! One of those episodes is the first season outing “Arena.” It has since become a legendary entry in the franchise for its reptilian villain – the Gorn. Though immensely strong, the green, glitter-eyed monster doesn’t exactly move at warp speed.

How well do you remember this iconic space adventure? Test your might, at least when it comes to Star Trek details, in this “Arena” episode quiz!

(9) KEN KNOWLTON (1931-2022). “Ken Knowlton, a Father of Computer Art and Animation, Dies at 91” reports the New York Times.

…In 1962, after finishing a Ph.D. in electrical engineering, Dr. Knowlton joined Bell Labs in Murray Hill, N.J., a future-focused division of the Bell telephone conglomerate that was among the world’s leading research labs. After learning that the lab had installed a new machine that could print images onto film, he resolved to make movies using computer-generated graphics.

“You could make pictures with letters on the screen or spots on the screen or lines on the screen,” he said in a 2016 interview, recalling his arrival at Bell Labs. “How about a movie?”

Over the next several months, he developed what he believed to be the first computer programming language for computer animation, called BEFLIX (short for “Bell Labs Flicks”). The following year, he used this language to make an animated movie. Called “A Computer Technique for the Production of Animated Movies,” this 10-minute film described the technology used to make it.

Though Dr. Knowlton was the only person to ever use the BEFLIX language —he and his colleagues quickly replaced it with other tools and techniques — the ideas behind this technology would eventually overhaul the movie business….

…At Bell Labs, Dr. Knowlton realized that he could create detailed images by stringing together dots, letters, numbers and other symbols generated by a computer. Each symbol was chosen solely for its brightness — how bright or how dark it appeared at a distance. His computer programs, by carefully changing brightness as they placed each symbol, could then build familiar images, like flowers or faces….

(10) MEMORY LANE

1972 [By Cat Eldridge.] Philip José Farmer’s To Your Scattered Bodies Go wins Hugo.

At the round earth’s imagin’d corners, blow Your trumpets, angels, and arise, arise From death, you numberless infinities Of souls, and to your scattered bodies go — English poet John Donne’s “Holy Sonnets”, number seven

Fifty years ago at the very first L.A. Con which was indeed attended by OGH, one of the finest novels ever written won the Hugo for Best Novel. That was the first of three Riverworld novels, To Your Scattered Bodies Go, and its author was Philip José Farmer who was there as Mike remembers hearing his acceptance speech.

It had been published by the Putnam Publishing Group in June of the previous year. The cover art was done by Ira Cohen.

To Your Scattered Bodies Go, and all of the Riverworld series, is based off of his unpublished novel Owe for the FleshTo Your Scattered Bodies Go was originally serialized as two separate novellas: “The Day of the Great Shout” which appeared in the January 1965 issue of Worlds of Tomorrow and “The Suicide Express” which appeared in the March 1966 issue of that magazine.

It has been made into two films, neither of which I’ve seen nor have any intention of seeing. 

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born June 25, 1903 — George Orwell. George Orwell, born Eric Blair in 1903. I’m not sure if Animal Farm counts as fantasy, but 1984 is clearly Science Fiction, and it may hold the record for the most neologisms added to English by a single SF book. Orwell was mostly known as a journalist and essayist, including his spats with H.G. Wells, most notably in “Wells, Hitler and the World State”. (Died 1950.) (Alan Baumler)
  • Born June 25, 1925 — June Lockhart, 97. Maureen Robinson on Lost in Space which amazingly only ran for three seasons despite my feeling that it ran a lot longer. It’s on Amazon Prime and Netflix currently. She has a number of genre one-offs including Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., The Greatest American Hero and Babylon 5Babylon 5? Huh. She appeared in the Lost in Space film as Principal Cartwright. 
  • Born June 25, 1935 — Charles Sheffield. He was the President of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America and of the American Astronautical Society. He won both the Nebula and Hugo Awards for his novelette “Georgia on My Mind” and a John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best SF Novel for Brother to Dragons which is an amazing read. Much of his fiction is in his Heritage Universe series; the linked short stories of space traveler Arthur Morton McAndrew are a sheer comic delight. Besides his Hugo Award at ConAdian (1994) for “Georgia on My Mind”, he had several nominations as well. Chicon V (1991) picked two, “A Braver Thing” novellette and the “Godspeed” short story.  Oh, and he was toastmaster at BucConeer.  (Died 2002.)
  • Born June 25, 1947 — John Maddox Roberts, 75. Here for being prolific with his Conan pastiches, seven to date so far. I’ll also single out his The SPQR series beginning with SPQR which are police-procedural mystery novels set in Ancient Rome. Someone at the Libertarian Futurist Society really, really likes the Island Worlds as it has been nominated three times for the Prometheus Hall of Fame.
  • Born June 25, 1951 — Priscilla Olson, 71. She and her husband have been involved with NESFA Press’s efforts to put neglected SF writers back into print and have edited myriad writers such as Chad Oliver and Charles Harness, plus better-known ones like Jane Yolen.  She’s chaired a number of Boskones, and created the term “prosucker” which I must admit is both elegant and really ugly at the same time.
  • Born June 25, 1956 — Anthony Bourdain. That’s a death that hit me hard. Partly because he’s round my age, partly because, damn, he seemed so interested in everything that I couldn’t conceive him committing suicide. And yes, he was one of us with three works to his credit: Get Jiro!,  (with Joe Rose and Langdon Foss), Get Jiro: Blood and Sushi (with Joe Rose and Ale Garza) and Hungry Ghosts (with Joel Rose, Alberto Ponticelli, Irene Koh, Paul Pope). The first two are on DC, the latter‘s on Berger Books. (Died 2018.)
  • Born June 25, 1981 — Sheridan Smith, 41. She makes the Birthday list for being Lucie Miller, a companion to the Eighth Doctor in his Big Finish audio adventures starting in 2006 and running through at least this year. Her only video genre work was being in The Huntsman: Winter’s War as Mrs Bromwyn.

(12) COMICS SECTION.

  • The Argyle Sweater takes you back to the Marvel writers’ room of long ago.
  • Baby Blues shows a family on the way home from a comic con, and which parent got the better deal with their divided responsibilities.
  • The Flying McCoys has a superhero with no feeling for certain things.

(13) WILLIAMS BIRTHDAY CONCERT. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Washington Post, Michael Andor Brodeur reviews John WIlliams’s 90th birthday concert at the Kennedy center, which had appearances by Steven Spielberg and Daisy Ridley and Yo-Yo Ma on stage. “Composer John Williams feted with birthday gala fit for the big screen”.

…To drive home the evening’s big-screen energy there was … a big screen, suspended over the orchestra and showing various montages, call-ins and clips. (This included a full screening of Kobe Bryant and Glen Keane’s Oscar-winning 2017 short film, “Dear Basketball,” accompanied by the orchestra and movingly introduced via video by the late NBA star’s wife, Vanessa Bryant.)

(Perhaps best of all, there was quiet on the set! I heard nary a beep nor bloop from the sold-out crowd. Good job, y’all. Oscars for everyone!)

Yet despite all the big names and Hollywood-level production values of the celebration, what stood out the most (and lingered the longest in my mind on the walk home) was the unexpected intimacy of Williams’s music, which feels hard-wired in my DNA, enmeshed in multiple dimensions of my memory and experience (and quite likely yours)….

(14) LIGHTYEAR MIGHT MAKE MONEY YET. [Item by Cat Eldridge.] The Sox Vinyl Collectible by Super 7 is life sized. The ultimate SJW robotic companion, I’d say. And it’s only $400 but that includes the carrier.  And a robotic mouse too. 

Attention Space Ranger Recruits! Sideshow and Super 7 present the new Sox Vinyl Collectible! Sox the cat is Buzz Lightyear’s PCR (Personal Companion Robot) and now he can be your pal too!

From Disney and Pixar’s Lightyear, this premium vinyl figure is engineered to be truly “life-sized” and measures about 20” long from nose to tail, and almost 15” tall to the tip of his ears. Fully poseable and wearing a faux leather collar with real metal name tag, Sox is accompanied by his small mouse protocol robot with a glow-in-the-dark tail.

This limited edition premium collectible comes packaged in a “Property of Star Command” cat carrier to display with the rest of your Disney collection!

(15) ISS.CON. “Astronaut cosplays as ‘Gravity’ spacefarer in space station shot” at Space.com.

The only flaw in this cosplay is the hair, joked European astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti.

The Italian astronaut posed on the International Space Station in just about the same way as Sandra Bullock, who visited the orbiting complex fictionally in the 2013 movie “Gravity.” Cristoforetti wore a similar outfit to Bullock, who played fictional NASA astronaut Ryan Stone in a rousing adventure sparked by a cloud of space debris that struck Stone’s space shuttle on-screen.

(16) NEVER TELL SOMEONE TO SMILE. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Screen Rant says “Happiness Turns To Horror In Smile Trailer Starring Sosie Bacon”. (It’s a grim trailer.)

The trailer for Paramount Picture’s new horror film Smile might make viewers instead want to scream. Sosie Bacon (Mare of Easttown) stars in the film by writer/director Parker Finn. Smile is Finn’s first feature, and is adapted from his own horror short Laura Hasn’t Slept, which won the SXSW Film Festival’s special jury Midnight Short award. While Bacon began her acting career in 2005 in her father Kevin Bacon’s film Loverboy, this is her first leading role in a feature film.

The unsettling trailer released by Paramount Pictures shows Bacon as a psychiatrist named Dr. Rose Cotter who witnesses a patient gruesomely kill herself after the patient sees the form of a terrifying entity. After the incident, Rose seems to be followed by that same supernatural force, which spreads via a literally infectious smile and kills all those around her. It turns out her troubling past may hold the secret to unlocking her frightening present….

(17) OINKATASTROPHE. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Xenotransplantation appears in genre fiction from time to time. In a recent real-world incidence, a heart from a genetically-engineered pig was transplanted into a human with heart failure. Initially the transplant was a great success, but a puzzling and unexpected mechanism of failure presented itself. The patient died after 60 days. So what happened? “Pig heart transplant failure: Doctors detail everything that went wrong” at Ars Technica.

Earlier this year, news broke of the first experimental xenotransplantation: A human patient with heart disease received a heart from a pig that had been genetically engineered to avoid rejection. While initially successful, the experiment ended two months later when the transplant failed, leading to the death of the patient. At the time, the team didn’t disclose any details regarding what went wrong. But this week saw the publication of a research paper that goes through everything that happened to prepare for the transplant and the weeks following.

Critically, this includes the eventual failure of the transplant, which was triggered by the death of many of the muscle cells in the transplanted heart. But the reason for that death isn’t clear, and the typical signs of rejection by the immune system weren’t present. So, we’re going to have to wait a while to understand what went wrong….

(18) HEY ABBOTT. Aurora offers a resin model kit based on Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein “McDougals Frankenstein Crate Scene” – for a mere $319.99.

You Get All Accurate Likeness Unpainted Models of Wilbur Gray with Mcdougals Dummy head, Chick Young with wagging finger and Spook Candle, Strange Frankenstein laying in Wooden textured Crate Model Plus special sculpture study Dracula and Wolfman. Model comes with realistic Frankensteins Wood Crate with House of Horrors address on it Plus 2 easels with Mcdougals Sign and Dracula lengend. wood floor base comes with raised logo name plate also hammer and crow bar.

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Joey Eschrich, Will R., John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Stuart Hall.]

Pixel Scroll 6/4/22 Pixel Of Illusions

(1) ANOTHER BURKE CO-PANELIST MAKES A STATEMENT. Shahid Mahmud, Arc Manor Books publisher, who was one of the panelists on “Diversity Readers and Why You Need Them” at Balticon 56, today told Facebook readers that he and Stephanie Burke “got into a heated discussion” but that Burke did “nothing that warranted her treatment” or expulsion from program afterwards.

…One of the panels that keeps getting referred to is a panel I was on with Stephanie, the one on Sensitivity Readers. Not only that, but I was also the one who got into a heated discussion with her on the panel.

As a fellow panelist (particularly one who got into that that discussion with her) I would like to, in no uncertain terms, make it clear that Stephanie NEVER crossed the ‘line.’ I found her charming, informative, and forceful (in a good way).

At one point I did turn to the audience and apologized for us having hijacked the discussion for the last few minutes and several of them pointed out how refreshing it was to hear different sides of the issue (a couple of them reiterating it after the panel as well).

After the panel ended, Stephanie and I did chat briefly and both of us indicated to the other how much we had enjoyed the discussion even though we disagreed with each other.

So, imagine my shock when I found out that she had been kicked off panels. Even more so, since no from Balticon bothered to contact me about the panel (and no one still has).

Anyway, as a fellow panelist on the panel that is being cited as the reason for her expulsion, I want to make it absolutely clear that Stephanie did nothing that warranted her treatment.

What I find incredulous is that someone at Balticon took it upon themselves to treat another person like that without even bothering to find out what happened or having any investigation of a any kind. Escorting someone out of a panel is pretty extreme. I do think Yakira (the Balticon Chair) is trying to set it right to the extent she can (she has publicly apologized and is now leading an investigation into the incident). I hope the investigation also focuses on Lisa Adler-Golden (the program chair, and I believe the person behind the expulsion) and her actions, motivations and suitability for participation in future Balticons.

David Weber responded at length in comments (here and here), saying in part:

…I’m waiting to see how this all works out, and I hope the con chair is able (and willing) to tell the world what really happened and issue a very sincere and public apology (if appropriate) based on the results of her investigation.

If, as I suspect from all I have heard so far, an apology IS appropriate, I think it should be accompanied with an invitation to return as a special guest and, particularly, for a panel on just how destructive this sort of thing is for the fan community as a whole, and not just for the pros/guests immediately affected by it. It’s an issue that needs to be dragged out into the daylight and confronted, without accepting it as long as it only happens to people WE don’t like, and without degenerating into fruitless rounds of whataboutism. This is goring ALL our oxen. It needs to stop, and I hope one response to this fiasco is that Balticon will tell us how IT intends to prevent it going forward….

Also in comments, Gregory Benford reminded readers why he was removed from the 2019 Loscon.  

(2) THE MESSAGE RECEIVED VARIES WITH THE READER. Jeff VanderMeer addresses the question if “Le Guin’s ‘The Left Hand of Darkness’ is a classic for its portrayal of gender, but is it also sometimes, for the modern reader, a climate change parable?” in  “Landscape, Change, and the Long Road Ahead” at Orion Magazine.

…Le Guin, in creating both this world and this situation, meant to interrogate the politics and logic of countries, and how societies deal with the outsider. Even the long, harrowing journey by Genly and his erstwhile friend from Winter, Estraven, across barren ice can be interpreted as a traditional Jack Londonesque extreme wilderness survival tale, rather than anything more modern.

Yet, the reader changes a book because the world changes, and so when I read of the “facts” of Genly being disputed in Orgoreyn, I could not help but think about the “disputed” facts and proofs of the climate crisis.  

Climate crisis is about extremes, and in The Left Hand of Darkness cultures are shaped by an immeasurably hostile physical environment. The coldness of the place, which forces adaptation to its conditions and discourages certain kinds of risk. The fact the nations of Winter do not engage in war constitutes one unique manifestation of this adaptation to an extreme environment. Full-scale conflict, as opposed to minor sorties, skirmishes, individual feuds, simply seems alien to the nations of Winter…. 

Genly describes war as “the opposite of civilization,” and this is literally true on Winter—if not on our Earth. The planet’s inhabitants cannot afford the destructiveness of war or risk Death by Planet, by diverting or destroying resources needed for survival. They do not have the luxury of surviving both the climate and war….

(3) ALMOST BREAKING EVEN. Despite having cancelled Arisia 2022 due to Covid and the small number planning to attend or be on the program, Arisia, Inc. reports they have made up their annual expenses from grants and donations.

…We have heard back from the grants from this cycle, and we’ve gotten quite a few of them.  A few were contingent on holding a convention and I’ll get into the disposition of each of those.

The big news is that we got $15,000 from the City of Boston!  This is $10,000 for COVID relief and $5,000 in general operating support.  We can use this money to pay organizational expenses such as rent, which comes to $15.600 per year.

We got a grant for $2,275 from SFWA for convention expenses and we can use this for expenses the convention had even though it didn’t actually happen.  We have easily enough eligible expenses to get the access grant and $2500 for organizations that did.  This appears to be what happened, as we were approved for $2500 for training.  We have heard back from the grants from this cycle, and we’ve gotten quite a few of them.  A few were contingent on holding a convention and I’ll get into the disposition of each of those.

…We proposed to use this general staff anti-racism training, and I also requested in the application to be able to use the money for board training, in case we get other funding for anti-racism trainings.  I believe the Anti-Racism Committee is working on specifics for this training.

We got $3000 for CART from the Universal Participation Fund and the expenses didn’t happen.  This is the grant that we qualify for because of Card to Culture.  I don’t know if the money can be repurposed, or if so how.

Speaking of Card to Culture, we had 12 people registered for A22 via Card to Culture, vs. 3 in 2021.  I am hopeful that we get even more in 2023.

Finally, we have gotten about $4,000 in donations, with one large donation pending in an unknown amount.

This is a total of almost $24,000 not including the access grant.  Our annual expenses are a little over $19,000 and the convention had $6,000 in expenses that can’t be passed on to Arisia 2023, plus one of the grants obliges us to spend money on training that we might not have spent otherwise.  So we aren’t quite square, but we’re pretty close….

(4) LAWSUIT GOING FORWARD. “Freedom to Read Advocates Sound Alarm as Obscenity Lawsuit Advances in Virginia” reports Publishers Weekly.

Library groups this week joined with booksellers, publishers, and public advocacy groups in sounding the alarm over a lawsuit in Virginia in which two popular authors and their publishers have been ordered to defend their works against obscenity charges.

The legal action was filed last month by Virginia Beach lawyer and delegate in the Virginia Assembly Tim Anderson (on behalf of local plaintiff and congressional candidate Tommy Altman), citing an obscure state obscenity law. It alleges that two books for sale in a Virginia Beach Barnes & Noble—Maia Kobabe’s popular graphic memoir Gender Queer (Oni Press) and A Court of Mist and Fury (Bloomsbury) by bestselling author Sarah J. Maas—are “obscene for unrestricted viewing by minors.”

According to the Virginia Mercury, “the little-utilized state law allows ‘any citizen’ to ask a court to weigh in on books alleged to be obscene.” And in a development that has shocked observers, a local judge on May 18 found there was probable cause the books could be deemed obscene and ordered the authors and publishers to defend the books later this month.

According to the Mercury, the judge who issued the order, Pamela Baskervill, is “a retired Petersburg-area judge,” who is handling the case because “all other judges in Virginia Beach recused themselves.”

The court’s order raises the possibility that the court could issue a restraining order barring the books from public display and restraining booksellers and libraries from selling or loaning the books to minors without parental consent. In a Facebook post, Anderson hailed the judge’s order as “a major legal victory” and laid out the playbook for those seeking to restrict access to materials they find objectionable: “Suits like this can be filed all over Virginia,” Anderson wrote. “There are dozens of books. Hundreds of schools.”…

(5) HEAR FROM EUGEN BACON. Space Cowboy Books will host a free “Online Reading & Interview with Eugen Bacon” on Thursday, July 7 at 6:00 p.m. Pacific. Get tickets at the link.

(6) INSPIRATIONAL WOMEN. “Can a book change a young woman’s life?” Hear The Conversation with Nnedi Okorafor and Mel Mazman on BBC Sounds.

Can a book change a young woman’s life? Kim Chakanetsa talks to two women in the publishing world about the importance of writing stories that inspire and empower girls. 

Nnedi Okorafor is an award-winning Nigerian-American writer of fantasy and science fiction for both children and adults. Her books have strong female leads and draw inspiration from her Nigerian roots. Nnedi has also written comics for Marvel: she was the first woman to write the character of T’challa, the Black Panther, and she wrote a series about his tech loving sister, Shuri. She is a recipient of the World Fantasy, Hugo and Nebula Awards. 

Mel Mazman is the chief product officer at Rebel Girls, a franchise publishing books and digital content aimed at empowering young women. The company started in 2016, with a crowdfunding campaign for Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls, a book featuring the stories of 100 inspirational women. Since then, they sold 7.5 million books in over 100 countries. Mel shares her insights on how the publishing industry is changing to cater for the needs and interests of younger generations of readers. 

(7) BREAKFAST WITH TIFFANYS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Jo Walton talks to Helen Zaltzman about what she calls “The Tiffany Problem, or how do you tell readers that the “anachronisms” they find in novels aren’t actually anachronistic.  “Tiffany” is an authentic 12th century name (ultmately derived from “Epiphany”) but use it in a historical novel and readers complain,  Walton discusses how she handles this problem in her novels. “The Tiffany Problem” at The Allusionist podcast.

(8) KEN KELLY (1946-2022). Prolific genre and album artist Ken Kelly died June 3 at the age of 76. He was particularly known for his sword & sorcery cover art. He depicted Conan the Barbarian, Tarzan and the rock acts KISS, Manowar, Sleepy Hollow, Rainbow, and Ace Frehley.

(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1982 [By Cat Eldridge.] On this day forty years ago, my favorite Trek film by far, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, premiered. As I noted yesterday in my essay on the ending of the original series, there have been thirteen films so far — the good, the bad and the just plan forgettable. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan is in my opinion stellar.

Now I’ll admit that the episode that spawned it, “Space Seed”, isn’t one of my favorite episodes, but the screenwriter for this film, Jack B. Sowards, who based it off a story by him and Harve Bennett, created a story here that is fantastic. Neither had any genre background so Bennett watched all of the original series after being hired by Paramount and decided to do a film off the “Space Seed” story.

Damn, they did a great job. From the Kobayashi Maru simulation (named after Soward’s neighbor) to the over-the-top villain that Ricardo Montalbán is here (far more than he was in “Space Seed”), there is nothing that is not completely entertaining here. Most of these Trek films have a spot or two where I want to say to the editor why is that scene in here, but not in this film. I loved it from beginning to end unreservedly.

(Roger Ebert in his review had an interesting point about Khan: “Khan is played as a cauldron of resentment by Ricardo Montalban, and his performance is so strong that he helps illustrate a general principle involving not only Star Trek but ‘Star Wars’ (1977) and all the epic serials, especially the ‘James Bond’ movies: Each film is only as good as its villain.”) 

(Some of them are entirely like that.) 

They were given a lousy budget, just twelve million, as Paramount really didn’t believe the film was going to do crap. It did as it made ninety million. 

What did the critics think? If they were Trekkies, they liked it. If they weren’t, they didn’t.

Kevin Thomas of the L.A. Times definitely liked it: “In this new film there’s no feeling that its makers are straining to compete with ‘Star Wars’ and other special-effects spectaculars, instead, they’re attempting to recapture the spirit of the beloved TV series. (It is, in fact, probably a plus that the film actually began production intended for TV.) The result is a brisk, handsomely designed film in which its hardware, sturdy as it is, never overwhelms its humanity.” 

Whereas David Khmer of the Chicago Reader wasn’t impressed: “In this second Star Trek feature (1982), the crew of the Enterprise confronts middle age in a plot that makes very little literal sense but is packed with pertinent life-out-of-death, Waste Land imagery: a 200-year-old heavy (Ricardo Montalban) living on a barren planet, a secret project code-named ‘Genesis’ that can turn deserts into tropical jungles, Captain Kirk wearing specs and rediscovering his long-lost family. If only director Nicholas Meyer had grasped the implications of his tale more fully and enthusiastically, this might have become a classic piece of cornball SF poetry, but as it stands the tepid acting and one-set claustrophobia take a heavy toll.” 

It was nominated for a Hugo at ConStellation losing out to Blade Runner. Rotten Tomatoes reviewers really like giving a ninety percent rating. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born June 4, 1951 Wendy Pini, 71. With husband Richard, responsible for Elfquest which won them a Balrog. Over the years Elfquest has been self-published by the Pinis through their own company Warp Graphics, then Marvel Comics, then the Pinis again, more recently DC Comics and then Dark Horse Comics. Everything prior to 2013 is free online at the Elfquest Comic Viewer. Be prepared to spend hours lost in great reading! 
  • Born June 4, 1960 Kristine Kathryn Rusch, 62. If you’ve not discovered the delights of her Diving Universe series, you’re in for a treat — it’s that good. Her Retrieval Artist series is one that can be read in no particular order so is great deal of fun no matter where you start. And her Spade / Paladin series of which the first novel just came out, Ten Little Fen, is absolutely delightful.  Oh, and she won the Astounding Award for Best New Writer. Her website is here; don’t miss her appreciation of A.J. Budrys. 
  • Born June 4, 1960 Bradley Walsh, 62. His first genre was on The Sarah Jane Adventures as Odd Bob Elijah Spellman aka The Pied Piper in “The Day of the Clown” story. His major genre role video wise however is Graham O’Brien, companion to the Thirteenth Doctor. Now it’s worth noting that he has a lot of theatre experience that is genre having appeared in multiple versions of AladdinCinderellaJack & the Bean StalkPeter Pan and Snow White.
  • Born June 4, 1964 Sean Pertwee, 58. Let’s see, where did I see him first? Oh, of course, playing Sheriff Hugh Beringar on Cadfael but that’s not genre, is it? Captain Heinz in “Trenches of Hell, Part 2 “,  on The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles which was his first genre role followed being Pilot Smith on Event Horizon and Macbeth in a UK film of that name the same year. He did a bit of low-budget horror playing Bradley Cortese in Tale of the Mummy and likewise in being Sergeant Harry G. Wells in Dog Soldiers. There were some fairly low budget SF as well, say Father in Equilibrium. Not to mention Brother Proteus in Ultramarines: A Warhammer 40,000 Movie which I dearly want to see! All of which gets redeemed by his Inspector Lestrade in Elementary, a stunning take on that character. And then there’s his Alfred in Gotham.
  • Born June 4, 1969 Julie Gardner, 53. She was executive producer on the revival of Doctor Who and the spin-offs of Torchwood and Sarah Jane Adventures. She co-founded with Julie Tranter Bad Wolf, best known for the BBC TV series His Dark Materials and A Discovery of Witches on which she serves as an executive producer.
  • Born June 4, 1972 Joe Hill, 50. I’ve met him once or twice down the years as he shows up here in Portland for signings at both book shops and comic shops pre-Pandemic. Really nice guy like his father. Actually the whole family is amazingly nice. Locke & Key is a superb graphic novel series and I’m fond of all of his short stories, particularly those collected in 20th Century Ghosts, and his collection Full Throttle. I notice that though he’s not yet won a Hugo, he’s won a fistful of Stokers, many BFAs, a World Fantasy Award and even an International Horror Guild Award.
  • Born June 4, 1975 Angelina Jolie, 47. I really liked her two Tomb Raider films and thought Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow was a really cool film with her role being quite magnificent. I never saw her early Cyborg 2 undertaking but think Hackers and her role as Kate “Acid Burn” Libby was rather good. I’ve not seen her Maleficent films. 
  • Born June 4, 1991 Jordan Danger, 31. She is best known for her role as Zoe Carter on Eureka. (Now inexplicably renamed A Town Called Eureka in syndication but not on Peacock which is streaming it now along with Warehouse 13.) She also showed up in Ragin Cajun Redneck Gators which as horror is genre of sorts, plus the SF films, Higher Power and Beyond the Sky. And even a vampire film, Living Among Us. All low budget, all straight to DVD productions.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

(11) COWL SCOWL. In “What Is Batman” the Pretty Much Pop podcast shares its taxonomical theories.

In light of the recent release of Matt Reeves’ film The Batman, we consider the strange alternation of darkness and camp that is Batman. Is he even a super hero? What’s with his rogues’ gallery? What’s with DC’s anti-world-building?

Your Pretty Much Pop host Mark Linsenmayer is joined by philosophy prof/NY Times entertainment writer Lawrence Ware, improv comedian/educator Anthony LeBlanc, and Marketing Over Coffee host John J. Wall, all of whom are deeply immersed in the comics, and we touch on other recent shows in the Batman universe.

(12) HUMOR IN THE DARKNESS. Death’s Intern by D.C. Gomez is the debut novel in the Intern Diaries series launched in 2017.

A talking cat, a boy genius, missing people, and an untrained Intern for Death. What could possibly go wrong?

Did that really happen?

There’s no way Death offered me a job. I’m a musician that makes her living as a waitress, with absolutely no training in the supernatural world. This is all a very bad dream.

But Bob has been kidnapped, and I can’t possibly lose the only friend I have.

Bob, you’d better be alive. Because if I just gave my soul to Death for nothing, I will personally kill you. Not to mention, it seems Death’s Interns have fairly short life expectancies.

God, don’t let me die.

D. C. Gomez was born in the Dominican Republic, and grew up in Salem, Massachusetts. She study film and television at New York University. After college she joined the US Army, and proudly served for four years. Those experiences shaped her quirky sense of humor. D.C. has a love for those who served and the families that support them. She currently lives in the quaint city of Wake Village, Texas, with her furry roommate, Chincha.

One of D. C.’s passions is helping those around her overcome their self-limiting beliefs.  She writes both non-fiction and fiction books, ranging from Urban Fantasy to Children’s Books. To learn more about her books and her passion, you can find her at www.dcgomez-author.com.

Available at Amazon.com and Amazon.ca.

(13) SCIENCE TAKES A HOLIDAY. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] You don’t know what it has been like the past few days as you are a citizen living in a flawed democracy, conversely, I am a subject living in a full democracy kingdom. Anyway, our Queen has ruled that we must have four days celebrating 70 years of her reign. So it has been street parties, barbecue, coronation chicken and a right old national knees-up this side of the Pond. It is a tough life, but we Brits are used to it.

It has also meant that, with the exception of this morning, the library cybercafés have been closed, hence no science news until now.

“NASA’s Perseverance rover begins key search for life on Mars” in Nature.

More than fifteen months after landing in Jezero Crater on Mars, NASA’s Perseverance rover has finally begun its hunt for ancient life in earnest.

On 28 May, Perseverance ground a 5-centimetre-wide circular patch into a rock at the base of what was once a river delta in the crater. This delta formed billions of years ago, when a long-vanished river deposited layers of sediment into Jezero, and it is the main reason that NASA sent the rover here. On Earth, river sediment is usually teeming with life.

Images of the freshly ground spot show small sediment grains, which scientists are hoping will contain chemical or other traces of life. Poet William Blake’s “‘To see a world in a grain of sand’ comes to mind,” wrote Sanjeev Gupta, a planetary geologist at Imperial College London, on Twitter….

Meanwhile, the journal Science has been looking at Mayan astronomy and this features on their cover: “The Stargazers”.

The historic Maya oriented their lives by the heavens. Today, their descendants and Western scholars team up to understand their sophisticated astronomy

In the past few years, slowly converging lines of evidence have been restoring the clearest picture yet of the stargazing knowledge European colonizers fought so hard to scrub away…

(14) SHADOWPAW PRESS MAKES DUOTERO AVAILABLE AGAIN. Duatero by Vancouver author Brad C. Anderson, a searing far-future science fiction novel about the struggles of an abandoned human colony to survive on a hostile alien world, is back in print in a new edition from Shadowpaw Press after being orphaned by the closing of its original publisher, Bundoran Press.

Majstro Falchilo Kredo has devoted his life to protecting the abandoned Earth colony of Duatero from Malamiko, the indigenous ecosystem that makes their crops fail and whose contamination turns humans into mindless monsters.

But Malimiko is changing, becoming more dangerous, more aware, even as the ancient technology the humans use to combat it fails piece by precious piece. Kredo and his fellow soldiers must risk everything or see all they hold precious wiped away and forgotten.

Kredo is prepared to sacrifice himself—and anyone around him—to do his duty. But what if the price demanded is even higher?

Duatero is a powerful work of science fiction that confronts issues of morality and survival head-on in a carefully thought-out and terrifying alien world,” said Edward Willett, editor and publisher of Shadowpaw Press. “It deserves to find many new readers, and I’m thrilled to be able to give it that opportunity.”

Duatero can be bought directly from the publisher or from most online bookstores in both ebook and print and can also be ordered through any brick-and-mortar bookstore. This handy URL provides links to multiple online sources:  https://books2read.com/duatero/

(15) SPELL TREK. “Harini Logan is the 2022 Scripps National Spelling Bee champion after a historic spell-off” reports CNN.

…This year’s host was LeVar Burton. The Emmy and Grammy-award winner hosted the semifinal and the final round of the event.

In a statement in December, Burton called the position “an honor.”

“Like a lot of folks, I look forward to the competition every year and am excited to be a part of this wonderful tradition that celebrates excellence,” he said….

(16) IT’S ALMOST TIME. Suspension by Andrea Faye Christians – “a time travel tale of epic proportions” — is Book One of the Time Binder Series.

When Carla Thompson falls asleep and doesn’t wake up, she is shocked to discover what destiny has in store for her. Suspended between two worlds, she meets Isambard Brunel, the legendary eighteenth-century civil engineer, who built the Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol, England, and who now serves as guardian of its secrets. Historical events intertwine with Carla’s current reality and along the way she discovers a murder, encounters a host of characters including Jamaican psychic, Matilda, and engages in verbal banter with literary legend, Ernest Hemingway. Her adventures lead her to a startling revelation about why she was chosen for her strange new role. In death Carla realises she has never felt more alive.

Andrea Faye Christians was born and raised in Swansea, South Wales. Following a successful career in British radio including the BBC, she moved to the southern Mediterranean island of Malta to pursue her dream of becoming a freelance writer. A decade later she bought a farm in the Madonie Mountains of Sicily where a menagerie of rescue animals found their way to her. With a son in Malta and a daughter in Sicily, Andrea has a home and her heart in both places, and she now divides her time between the neighboring islands.

The book will be released June 30 and is available for pre-order from Bookshop, Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, Amazon.co.uk, Book Depository, and Barnes & Noble.

(17) PHILIP K. DICK WILL BE SORRY HE MISSED THIS SHOW. Matt O’Dowd on PBS Space Time dares to ask,“What If Physics IS NOT Describing Reality?”

Neils Bohr said, “It is wrong to think that the task of physics is to find out how Nature is. Physics concerns what we can say about Nature.” Well it turns out that if we pay attention to this subtle difference, some of the most mysterious aspects of nature make a lot more sense.

[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, 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 Tom Becker.]

Golden Pen and Golden Brush Winners Announced at 38th Annual Writers & Illustrators of the Future Gala

The L. Ron Hubbard Writers and Illustrators of the Future Awards Gala was held April 8 in the Taglyan Complex in Hollywood.

38TH GRAND PRIZE GOLDEN BRUSH AWARD

  • Zaine Lodhi of Sarasota, Florida, for his illustration of “Agatha’s Monster”

38TH GRAND PRIZE PEN AWARD

  • Desmond Astaire of Illinois for his story “Gallows”

The grand prize winners were presented with an additional $5,000.

Two previous winners who had been unable to attend the 2020 and 2021 ceremonies delivered their acceptance speeches at this event, the Volume 36 winner of the Golden Pen award C. Winspear of Blacktown, NSW, Australia, and the Volume 37 Golden Brush award winner Dan Watson of Earley, Berkshire, England.

A huge statue of the mammoth that strides across the cover of Volume 38 greeted winners and guests as they walked the red carpet at the Taglyan.

Anyaugo Okorafor-Mbachu (left) with her mother Nnedi Okorafor (right)

Jesse L. Stevenson opened the April 8 event with a powerful rendition of “Men of Reason,” a poem by L. Ron Hubbard, followed by a special memorial tribute to the late David Farland/Wolverton, the previous Writers Contest Coordinating Judge. Fellow judges and long-time friends shared anecdotes and fond memories of Dave’s passion for the craft and his impact on their lives and the industry.

Jody Lynn Nye was introduced as the new Writers Contest Coordinating Judge, and Dean Wesley Smith as the new anthology editor.

L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future Volume 38 was released by John Goodwin, President of Galaxy Press. This is the final volume edited by David Farland. The cover art is by Bob Eggleton. In addition to stories from the 12 winners and one finalist, there are stories by L. Ron Hubbard, Frank Herbert, and David Farland. There are writing tips and advice for artists from Illustrators of the Future Coordinating Judge Echo Chernik, L. Ron Hubbard, Frank Herbert, Brian Herbert, Kevin J. Anderson, and Diane Dillon.

The article from Frank Herbert, “The Single Most Important Piece of Advice,” was the last article written by Frank for the Writers of the Future before he passed away. He was one of the early Contest judges.

Lieutenant General John F. Thompson of the Air Force and Space Force did the keynote speech. He spoke about the importance of science fiction to our future in space.

A visual presentation was shown of L. Ron Hubbard’s poem “Declaration of Peace.” It was written for the Battlefield Earth alum, and an appropriate message with the strife abroad.

Frank Frazetta, known as the “King of Illustration,” was judge for the illustrator contest since its beginning. A rare video was shown describing how he works and technique he used when painting “Man the Endangered” for Battlefield Earth, which was used for the cover the 21st Century Edition.

Celebrity presenters included Nancy Cartwright, Jade Pettyjohn, and Lee Purcell.

The gala was followed by a reception and large book signing of the newly released anthology for guests and attendees.

L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future Volume 38 releases in bookstores on June 28, 2022 and is available now on Kindle and Kindle Unlimited.

The Writers of the Future writing contest was initiated by L. Ron Hubbard in 1983 to provide “a means for new and budding writers to have a chance for their creative efforts to be seen and acknowledged.”

See a photo gallery from the event here.

[Based on a press release.]

Pixel Scroll 2/27/22 Diskworld Engineers

(1) WHERE THE FUTURE COMES FROM. Nnedi Okorafor was featured in Chicago Magazine in January: “Nnedi Okorafor’s Books Focus on Future Tense”.

What are some of your favorite books?

Wizard of the Crow [by Ngugi wa Thiong’o], The Talisman by Stephen King [and Peter Straub], Life of Pi [by Yann Martel], and Ben Okri’s The Famished Road, which is like a dream, so psychedelic. It’s probably the most influential book for me. It’s about a young boy who was born with spirit friends, but it’s an adult novel. He views the world in such a way that the mystical and mundane coexist. It’s set in Nigeria during a very politically tumultuous time. Akata Woman, my new book, pays homage to The Famished Road. The first time I read it, I was an undergrad. This guy I was dating had gotten it for an African studies class and I just stole it from him. He didn’t care. He didn’t even read it. For me, it changed everything.

(2) AARDMAN NEWS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] I watched this 2015 BBC Documentary, “A Grand Night In: The Story of Aardman”, directed by Richard Mears, which tells the story of Aardman. You learn lots of things in it, including where their name came from — it’s a 1972 animation that company founders Peter Lord and David Sproxton sold to the BBC about a creature that’s half-human, half aardvark. They talk about how Nick Park submitted student films to the company and essentially became the third partner, with his creation Wallace and Gromit earning him two Oscars with a third for his short “Creature Comforts.”

Lots of actors and fellow animators are in this, including Terry Gilliam, Matt Groening, John Lasseter, and even Jeffrey Katzenberg, the great Bill Nighy, who’s done voice work for Aardman, says the four things that seem to him to be England at its best are the Rolling Stones, Harold Pinter, Crystal Palace FC, and Aardman Animations.

Aardman fans will note this show was done before the last theatrical release, Early Man, which bombed and led to everything Aardman does going straight to Netflix.

Fun facts: the documentary says that the Oscar for best animated feature happened because of the success of Chicken Run (2000).  Nick Park says he wanted to call Wallace And Gromit: The Curse Of The Were-Rabbit “The Great Vegetable Hunt” but changed it because focus groups of kids said they didn’t like vegetables.

I thought this was a fun hour.

(3) M SQUAD. [Item by Steven French.] Some alliteration here! “A mashup of mythology, Middle-earth and Marvel comics, …” — “Marlon James: ‘Violence is violent and sex is sexy. You are supposed to be appalled’” in The Guardian.

…He read whatever he could get his hands on – “the only category I needed for a book was ‘next’” – coming late to classic fantasy fiction simply because there wasn’t a drugstore paperback of The Lord of the Rings. Instead he gorged on film tie-ins, fairytales and comics. He attended the “posh” school, where he always felt a bit of an outsider. It was this sense of “having to negotiate a world you don’t belong to”, that he associated with Mantel’s Thomas Cromwell, and which he gives to Sogolon and also to the ambitious Nina Burgess in A Brief History, the character closest to him, he says….

(4) TABLE TOP SFF GAMES. CBR.com gives us “The 10 Best Sci-Fi Board Games, Ranked”.

3. Terraforming Mars Is Corporate Greed & Future Progress

Terraforming Mars is one of the most beloved board games in the world at the moment. The game currently sits in the top 5 board games of all time, according to hobbyists on the website Board Game Geek. In Terraforming Mars, players take on the role of different corporations that are attempting to terraform and mine resources from Mars for greed and political gain. The game has tons of unique cards, combos, and strategies which is what keeps players coming back to it time and time again.

(5) HOME ON THE STRANGE. “Outer Range: First look at Josh Brolin’s Amazon Prime Video thriller” at Vanity Fair.

…Brolin plays Royal Abbott, an old-school cowboy and patriarch tested by horrors both known and unknown. In the former category: His daughter-in-law has gone missing, and simmering tension with the rival Tillerson family is about to reach a boil. And in the latter: A giant metaphysical void has popped up on the Abbott property, representing…something. An alternate dimension? Aliens? Nightmares? As Royal stumbles upon it, we quickly glean that it’s his—and our—destiny to find out. Eventually. 

Outer Range is difficult to pinpoint, its shades of Yellowstone and Westworld (continuing in prestige TV’s ongoing Western trend) gradually giving way to a true singularity…. 

(6) CLEAR FEAR. Catriona Ward contends, “‘When done right, horror is a transformative experience’” in a Guardian Q&A.

Does it chafe to be described as a horror writer?
Like most terms applied to books, it’s both really useful and not useful at all, but I love horror. I think it’s one of the most expressive, most empathetic genres you can work in. Everyone feels afraid at some point in their life. Reading is a sustained act of telepathy or empathy, and reading horror is even more profound than that: it’s asking people to share real vulnerabilities of yours and open themselves up to their own. It is like going down a tunnel, and hopefully the writer is leading the way with a torch, taking the reader’s hand….

(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1994 [Item by Cat Eldridge] Twenty-eight years ago this evening, TekLab, the third of the TekWar episodes, aired. Created by William Shatner who you all know, the novels are ghost-written by Ron Goulart, but I don’t know how much input he had into the TV series. TekWar would be developed for television by Stephen Roloff who earlier had done the same for Friday the 13th: The Series and Beyond Reality, also produced in Canada. 

TekLab would take our detectives to London attend a ceremony at the Tower of London which marks the start of a campaign to restore the British monarchy. Before the film ends, much will happen including the appearance of Excalibur. 

The primary cast was Greg Evigan as Jake Cardigan, Eugene Clark as Sid Gomez, William Shatner as Walter Bascom, Michael York as Richard Stewart, Laurie Winger as Rachael Tudor and Maurice Dean Winter as Lt. Winger. 

I can’t say the critics loved this William Shatner created affair as they didn’t, with one saying of the series in general that it was “bargain basement science fiction with a stale protagonist, a convoluted murder mystery, and a narrative that feels incomplete.” Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give this film specifically a thirty-one percent rating. 

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born February 27, 1934 Van Williams. He was the Green Hornet (with the late Bruce Lee as his partner Kato) on The Green Hornet and three Batman cross-over episodes. He would voice President Lyndon B. Johnson on the Batman series, show up in an episode of Mission Impossible, and also do a one-off Quinn Martin’s Tales of the Unexpected and that’s it. (Died 2016.)
  • Born February 27, 1937 Barbara Babcock, 85. She had a remarkable six roles on Star Trek, first as Mea 3 on “A Taste of Armageddon” followed the “Assignment: Earth” episode as Beta 5 Computer / Isis, then in “The Tholian Web” as the voice of Cmdr. Loskene followed  by being on “Plato’s Stepchildren” as Philana. Her final appearance was in “The Lights of Zetar” as the Voice of Zetar. Somebody in casting really, really liked her voice. She also showed up on Green HornetLogan’s RunMission: ImpossibleNight GallerySalem’s Lot and Alfred Hitchcock Presents.
  • Born February 27, 1940 Howard Hesseman. Though best-known as DJ Johnny Fever on WKRP in Cincinnati and the New WKRP in Cincinnati (and yes, I remember the frozen turkey episode vividly), he did do quite a bit of genre. His first genre role I’m reasonably sure was as Dr. Louis Faraday in The Flight of The Navigator, a most superb film, he is Rupert King in “Titan Man” portion of Amazon Women on the Moon. He’s Doctor Berg in Martin Child, and his last genre film was Halloween II where he was Uncle Meat. Huh. He’s done one-offs on the Faerie Tale TheatreThe Ray Bradbury Theatre and The Outer Limits. (Died 2022.)
  • Born February 27, 1944 Ken Grimwood. Another writer who died way too young, damn it.  Writer of several impressive genre novels including Breakthrough and Replay, a World Fantasy Award winner, which I’ve thoroughly enjoyed and Into the Deep and Elise which are listed in ISFDB but which I’m not at all familiar with. Who’s read them? (Died 2003.)
  • Born February 27, 1960 Jeff Smith, 62. Creator and illustrator of Bone, the now complete series that he readily admits that “a notable influence being Walt Kelly’s Pogo”. Smith also worked for DC on a Captain Marvel series titled Mister Mind and the Monster Society of Evil. He’s won a very impressive eleven Harvey Awards and ten Eisner Awards! Kindle, though not Apple Books, has the complete Bone for a very reasonable twenty dollars.
  • Born February 27, 1962 Adam Baldwin, 60. Genre roles include Firefly and its continuation in Serenity as Jayne Cobb. Colonel John Casey in the exemplary Chuck series, Independence Day as Major Mitchell and Mike Slattery in The Last Ship, series I’ve yet to see. He’s also done voice work such as Hal Jordan and Jonah Hex on Justice League Unlimited, and Metamorpho on Beware the Batman
  • Born February 27, 1964 John Pyper-Ferguson, 58. I certainly remember him best as the villain Peter Hutter on The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. but I see that he got he got his start in Canadian horror films such as Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II and Pin: A Plastic Nightmare. His first major SF role was in Space Marines as Col. Fraser. And though he has an extensive one-off career in genre series with over two dozen appearances, his occurrence as a repeated cast member is not uncommon as he’s Agent Bernard Fainon in the new Night Stalker for several episodes, shows up as Tomas Vergis on Caprica for six episodes and I see he’s had a recurring role on The Last Ship as Tex  Nolan. Yep, two Last Ship performers here in these Birthdays. 

(9) COMICS SECTION.

(10) SPEED OF LIGHTFINGERS. Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki told Facebook readers a funny story related to his interview in a recent issue of Locus.

(11) TIME ON HIS HANDS. “Men In Black Turns 25: Why The Movie Remains A Sci-Fi Comedy Classic” at GameRant.

…Barry Sonnenfeld’s Men in Black is one of the most popular science-fiction films of the past half-century. Joining the ranks of Star WarsStar Trek, and most recently Dune, the Men in Black franchise has the benefit of being one of the most internationally recognizable science-fiction I.P.’s in recent memory. While the sequels and reboot of the M.I.B. property have certainly done a lot towards hindering the brand, the first Men in Black remains a propulsive, thrilling, and funny entry in a landscape that often sees more failures than successes….

And John King Tarpinian says, “The movie made me to want to buy the Hamilton Ventura watch.”

(12) TAKING THE HANDOFF. Geek Tyrant boosts the signal for “STAR WARS Severed Hand Magnets Include Luke Skywalker and Wampa Hands”. What a concept.

Regal Robot has a Star Wars Separation Collection, and they introduced two new severed hand magnets. Those magnets include a severed Luke Skywalker hand holding a lightsaber and a severed wampa hand, the one sliced off by Luke Skywalker….

(13) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Fanac.org has taken a sound recording of Fred Lerner’s 1963 interview of fannish legend Sam Moskowitz, matched in still photos to create a YouTube video.

Sam Moskowitz (SaM) was the chairman of the first World Science Fiction Convention (1939), a mover and shaper of science fiction fandom from the earliest days, and a historian of the field. 

In this audio interview (presented with illustrative pictures) from 1963, Fred Lerner, noted librarian, bibliographer and historian, conducts a conversation that ranges from the definition of science fiction, to typical early plots, to an analysis of the early 60s magazine and paperback industry. 

SaM was both a professional in the field, a writer, anthologist and critic as well as an iconic fan presence. In this interview, he speaks as a professional, casually inserting fannish references as he discusses the differences between science fiction fandom in the 30s and 60s, analyzes how fans relate to the general readership, and talks about the gaps that science fiction can fill.

In Fancyclopedia.org, it is reported that “one friend described him as “physically massive” — with a booming voice.” In later years, SaM had throat cancer which required the surgical removal of his larynx, necessitating that he speak through an electronic voice-box, held against his throat. In this recording, you can hear SaM speak in his own voice about the field he loved and lived in. Thanks to Fred Lerner for providing the recording, and to Dr. Eric Fleischer (Dr. Gandalf) for digitization.

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

Pixel Scroll 11/22/21 There’ll Be Time Enough To File When The Clicking’s Done

(1) WORLDCON PROGRAM. DisCon III has posted a basic outline of the times programming will take place – on their website here. They’ve also included specific times on significant events and for important DisCon III locations, such as Registration and the Exhibit Hall.

(2) OP-ED. Nicholas Whyte writes about the “2021 Worldcon Business Meeting agenda: my comments” at his LiveJournal, From the Heart of Europe. Here’s an excerpt:

A.3.2: Hugo Awards Study Committee – I was one of the original proposers of this committee. I am very disappointed with the results. The only concrete output that it has achieved in four years of existence is the addition of the words “or Comic” to the category title of “Best Graphic Story”. In the meantime other proposed changes have been killed off by referring them to this committee, which has then failed to consider them. I would not support the continuation of this committee’s mandate. I do not blame anyone, especially in the circumstances of the last two years, but I think we have proved that this is not a format that will deliver change.

On the other hand, if it is renewed, I would prefer to continue as a member, and I strongly urge (yet again!) that it takes the reform of the Best Artist categories as a priority. This was the main motivation for my proposing the committee in the first place. It is the single issue that has caused most headaches in my four years of Hugo administration. The Artist category definitions are very out of date, and present a risk to the future reputation of the awards because it would be very easy to make a public and embarrassing mistake. A bit more on this further down….

(3) C.J. CHERRYH HEALTH UPDATE. In a public Facebook post, C.J. Cherryh discusses the effects of her chemotherapy.

Coming to grips with chemo and change…

I’ve decided to go with the Gandalf look. I had reconciled myself to the Yul Brynner or Zhaan look, but I didn’t lose the hair with chemo. It just went snow-white and brittle. It’s not bad, now that I’m not trying to be Cher. I think I’ll let it grow and see if I can rock the look. I have a light hat I can wear when the wind’s blowing, so I don’t look like sfx surround me—it’s super light, and doesn’t stay put.

Complexion—well, that’s aged a whole lot. Dropping 40 sudden pounds will do that to you: I am developing…character. That’s my take on it. Always wondered where the lines would go. Not too bad.

Strength: that’s the big one. I don’t have much stamina for standing upright—or for walking very far…

She is getting a portable powered scooter and plans to attend cons as they continue to open up again.

(4) ROWLING DOXXED? “J.K. Rowling condemns activists for posting her address to Twitter” reports Yahoo!

…[On] on Friday, …activist-performers Holly Stars, Georgia Frost and Richard Energy held a protest ahead of Saturday’s Trans Day of Remembrance in front of Rowling’s Scotland home to protest what many see as the author’s anti-trans viewpoints. They held signs that read “Don’t Be a Cissy” and ‘Trans Liberation Now” and, while there, took a photo in front of Rowling’s house in which the address was visible, then posted it on Twitter.

Rowling’s thread starts here.

Rowling’s response included the Twitter URLs of the three who had tweeted the picture – they have since deleted their accounts.

Forbes has subsequent developments: “J.K. Rowling Slams ‘Activist Actors’ Who Doxxed Her During Trans Rights Protest”.

… According to Pink News, their demonstration outside Rowling’s home in Edinburgh, Scotland, was in support of the International Transgender Day of Remembrance, an annual event to memorialize the scores of trans and gender nonconforming people murdered every year.

The Post Millennial reported Stars, Frost and Energy stood by their tweeting of the photo, but Stars tweeted they made the decision to delete it after a backlash from Rowling supporters:

“Yesterday we posted a picture we took at JK Rowling’s house. While we stand by the photo, since posting it we have received an overwhelming amount of serious and threatening transphobic messages so have decided to take the photo down. Love to our trans siblings.”

(5) PLAYING MONOPOLY. Kristine Kathryn Rusch thinks about what-might-have-been if the DOJ had been on the job sooner: “Business Musings: The If-Only Lawsuit”.

The United States Justice Department is suing to stop the big merger of Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster. That I can write about without a lot of research, because I’ve been following this merger for a long time….

All the promises in the world mean nothing when large companies merge.

I read the complaint for the suit the day the suit was announced. The complaint is worth reading because, if nothing else, it’s a what-if. What if the DOJ had been on this as the mergers started twenty years ago? What would the traditional publishing landscape look like now?

I can tell you: It would look completely different. Instead of the traditional part of the industry being dominated by five large conglomerates, the traditional part of the industry would look the same or better than it did in the early 1990s. There would be a lot of publishing houses, a lot of working editors, a lot of imprints, and a lot of competition….

(6) DC METRO NEWS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] This article about the problems of the Washington Metro is important because it’s going to affect DisCon III attendees.  The short version: one of the 7000 series of Metrorail cars derailed on October 12 and Metro pulled these cars out of service.  They haven’t brought them back yet. So Discon attendees should factor in extra time when using the troubled Washington D.C. subway. “Metro extends limited rail service through December”.

Metro will operate with reduced rail service through the end of the year as it works to return its 7000-series rail cars to the tracks, the transit agency announced Monday.

The trains, the newest in Metro’s inventory, make up 60 percent of the transit agency’s fleet but have been sidelined since the October derailment of a Blue Line train near the Arlington Cemetery station….

[Manager Paul J. Wiedefeld] said a more likely scenario would be a gradual ramp-up of service as trains are cleared to resume carrying passengers. In all, Metro has 748 rail cars in the series. The transit agency is operating with about 45 trains using its older 2000-, 3000- and 6000-series rail cars.

Wiedefeld said rail ridership, which had been around 30 percent of pre-pandemic levels, has dipped to about 28 percent in recent weeks.

No one was injured in the Oct. 12 incident, but an initial investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board found defects in the trains’ wheelsets that could make them more prone to derailment. 

(7) OKORAFOR IN THE NEWS. In the Chicago Tribune, an article (which you may find blocked by a paywall) refers to fantasy writer Nnedi Okorafor in reporting on Black residents who have moved out of the Chicago area. “Black residents leaving Chicago with few regrets”. Here are the paragraphs about her:

Award-winning fantasy writer Nnedi Okorafor said she moved from the south suburbs to Phoenix earlier this year, drawn there by its year-round warmth. The author of 19 books, Okorafor said her resolve to stay in the Southwest grew after her daughter, Anyaugo, was accepted at Arizona State University.

“Each time I’ve gone (to Arizona), I’ve gradually fallen in love with the area because I love heat and the desert,” she told the Tribune. “Once (my daughter) got into ASU, it all just lined up and made sense.”

(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1996 — Twenty-five years ago, Star Trek: First Contact premiered. It was the eighth film of the Trek films, and the second of the Next Gen films following Star Trek Generations. It was directed by Jonathan Frakes from the screenplay by Brannon Braga and Ronald D. Moore. The story was written by Rick Berman, Brannon Braga and Ronald D. Moore.  It of course starred the Nex Gen cast plus guest stars Alfre Woodard, James Cromwell and Alice Krige, the latter as the Borg Queen. 

First Contact received generally positive reviews upon release. The Independent said “For the first time, a Star Trek movie actually looks like something more ambitious than an extended TV show.”  And the Los Angeles Times exclaimed, “First Contact does everything you’d want a Star Trek film to do, and it does it with cheerfulness and style.” It did very well at the box office making one hundred fifty million against a budget of fifty million. Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a most excellent rating of ninety percent. 

It was nominated for a Hugo at LoneStarCon 2, the year that Babylon 5’s “Severed Dreams” won. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 22, 1932 Robert Vaughn. His best-known genre work was as Napoleon Solo in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. with other genre work being in Teenage Caveman, Starship InvasionsThe Lucifer ComplexVirusHangar 18Battle Beyond the StarsSuperman III C.H.U.D. II: Bud the C.H.U.D. (seriously who penned that awful title?), Transylvania Twist and Witch Academy. Oh, and he wrote the introduction to The Man from U.N.C.L.E. series companion that came out a generation after the series aired. (Died 2016.)
  • Born November 22, 1940 Terry Gilliam, 81. He’s directed many films of which the vast majority are firmly genre. I think I’ve seen most of them though I though I’ve not seen The Man Who Killed Don QuixoteTidelandThe Zero Theorem or The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. I’ve seen everything else.  Yes, I skipped past his start as the animator for Monty Python’s Flying Circus which grew out of his work for the children’s series Do Not Adjust Your Set which had the staff of Eric Idle, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin. Though he largely was the animator in the series and the films, he did occasionally take acting roles according to his autobiography, particularly roles no one else wanted such those requiring extensive makeup.  He’s also co-directed a number of scenes. Awards? Of course. Twelve Monkeys is the most decorated followed by Brazil with two and Time Bandits and The Fisher King which each have but one.  He’s not won any Hugos though he has been nominated for four — Monty Python and the Holy GrailTime BanditsBrazil and Twelve Monkeys. My favorite films by him? Oh, the one I’ve watched the most is The Adventures of Baron Munchausen followed by Time Bandits.
  • Born November 22, 1943 William Kotzwinkle, 78. Fata Morgana might be in my opinion his best novel though Doctor Rat which he won the World Fantasy Award for is in the running for that honor as well. And his short stories of which there are many are quite excellent too.  Did you know Kotzwinkle wrote the novelization of the screenplay for E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial? The usual digital suspects are well stocked with his books.
  • Born November 22, 1949 John Grant. He’d make the Birthday list solely for being involved in the stellar Encyclopedia of Fantasy which won a Hugo at BucConeer.  And he did win another well-deserved Hugo at Noreascon 4 for Best Related Work for The Chesley Awards for Science Fiction and Fantasy Art: A Retrospective.  Most of His short fiction has been set in the Lone Wolf universe though I see that he did a Judge Dredd novel too. (Died 2020.)
  • Born November 22, 1957 Kim Yale. Married to John Ostrander until 1993 when she died of breast cancer, she was a writer whose first work was in the New America series, a spin-off of Truman’s Scout series. With Truman, she developed the Barbara Gordon Oracle character, created the Manhunter series, worked on Suicide Squad, and was an editor at D.C. where she oversaw such licenses as Star Trek: The Next Generation. For First Comics, she co-wrote much of the amazing Grimjack with her husband.
  • Born November 22, 1958 Jamie Lee Curtis, 63. Can we agree that she was the best Scream Queen for her film debut in the 1978 Halloween film in which she played the role of Laurie Strode? No? Well, that’s my claim. She followed up with yet more horror films, The Fog and Prom Night. In all, she’s the only character that survives.  She would reprise the role of Laurie in six sequels, including Halloween H20Halloween: ResurrectionHalloween II and Halloween III: Season of the WitchHalloween (a direct sequel to the first Halloween) and Halloween Kills.  She shows up in one of my fav SF films, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension as Sandra Banzai but you’ll need to see the director’s extended version as she’s only there in that version. Is True Lies genre? Probably not, but for her performance, Curtis won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy and the Saturn Award for Best Actress. Damn impressive I’d say.  No, I’m not listing all her films here as OGH would likely start growling. Suffice to say she’s had a very impressive career. 
  • Born November 22, 1979 Leeanna Walsman, 42. Spoiler alert. She’s best known as the assassin Zam Wesell from Attack of The Clones.  Being Australian, she’s shown up on Farscape, a Hercules series (but not that series), the BeastMaster and Thunderstone series, and Spellbinder: Land of the Dragon Lord
  • Born November 22, 1984 Scarlett Johansson, 37. Best known perhaps for her role as the Black Widow in the MCU films including the present Black Widow film but she has other genre appearances including playing Motoko Kusanagi in Ghost in the Shell which was controversial for whitewashing the cast, particularly her character who was supposed to be Japanese. 

(10) REUBEN WINNER. In the Washington Post, Michael Cavna has a profile of Ray Billingsley, creator of “Curtis,” who is the first Black winner of the Reuben Award, given by the National Cartoonists Society for best cartoonist of the year. “Cartoonist Ray Billingsley has been portraying Black family life for decades — and now he’s getting his due”.

Ray Billingsley didn’t much like his second-floor Harlem home on Bradhurst Avenue back then. It was affordable — this being the mid-’80s — but he felt isolated, and he knew crime was a threat: “One evening while in bed with the window open, I actually heard three guys planning on burglarizing my apartment.”Yet this setting was also where, later that night after going to bed, Billingsley drew inspiration. He awoke with a creative burst. “I had a vision of these two kids. I sketched them down in the dark and went back to sleep. That morning, I found the first images of Curtis and Barry.”

There they were, two cartoon brothers — the taller one wearing Curtis’s signature ball cap, the shorter one in suspenders. With minimal line work, he had rendered his future….

(11) TAKE A BOW (WOW). “League of Super-Pets: John Krasinski Teases Role as Superman” at Comicbook.com.

…When DC’s League of Super-Pets comes to theaters next year, fans will get an odd pairing as Superman and Lex Luthor: facing off against Marc Maron’s scheming Luthor will be a Man of Steel voiced by The Office star John Krasinski. Sharing a still from the upcoming, animated movie, Krasinski revealed not only that he is Superman, but what his Superman will look like. The costume owes a debt to the one from the Max Fleischer cartoons of the 1940s — a look that recently popped back up again in flashbacks of Tyler Hoechlin’s character on Superman & Lois.

While the Super-Pets getting their own feature film may seem strange, the movie has an absolutely stacked cast providing the voices for its characters. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is starring in the film as Krypto the Superdog, the canine pal of one Superman. Kevin Hart, Johnson’s friend and frequent collaborator, will be voicing Batman’s four-legged friend, Ace the Bat-Hound….

(12) FAMOUS LIGHTSABERS AND WANDS. Julien’s Auctions “Icons And Idols: Hollywood” auction starts December 2. “I am almost grateful that I don’t have unlimited funds,” says John King Tarpinian, who sent links to such items as this lightsaber.

Collectors Hype ran a feature about some items on their “Original Movie Prop and Costume Blog”:

From the Harry Potter franchise: David Thewlis’ wand in his role as Professor Remus Lupin from the 2004 installment Harry Potter & The Prisoner of Azkaban ($5,000-$7,000), a wand used by Death Eater “Alecto Carrow” in the 2011 film Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows and Rupert Grint’s hero wand in his role as “Ron Weasley” from the same film as well as signed stamp sheets by the cast members, Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint, call sheets and Hogwarts acceptance letter;

Julien’s is also hawking “Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck voice artist Mel Blanc’s personal memorabilia” according to the Daily Mail.

Also included in the collection is a signed animation cel from 1958 featuring five of Blanc’s famous characters, Porky Pig, Tweety Bird, Bugs Bunny, Sylvester the Cat, and Daffy Duck. 

The cel is inscribed in black fountain pen ink on the background page, which reads, ‘For Pat/ with love from/ ‘Uncle’ Mel Blanc/ 4/8/58.’

(13) FIRST BLACK VOICES MATTER ACQUISITION. Angry Robot Books has officially announced their first signing through the Black Voices Matter unagented submissions.

Denise Crittendon

Denise Crittendon is a former editor of NAACP’s The Crisis, and her debut Where it Rains in Colour infuses romance, mystery and the mythology of the Dogon tribe of Mali, West Africa in a magical mythological retelling. Significantly inspired by her time in Zimbabwe, Crittendon questions and plays with universal beauty standards, and challenges the structure and system in which they live. Where it Rains in Colour will be published in December 2022.

Launched as an open submissions program for sff novels by Black authors in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests last year, this window was originally meant to run from July to September 2020, but Angry Robot Books has since announced it would be extended indefinitely. For more details, click through here.

(14) ZERO GRAVITY NEWS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Washington Post, Christian Davenport talks about how he experienced weightlessness for only $7,500 on a Zero-G flight from Dulles Airport, as he talks about adapting to weightlessness and how these flights give a lot of encouragement to disabled people who get to stand for the first time in years. “You don’t have to go to space to experience weightlessness”.

… I did the flips, flew arms wide like Superman, did the Spider-Man crawl along the ceiling, all in an airplane with a couple dozen others as part of a flight organized by Zero Gravity Corp. (Zero-G) that flew out of Dulles Airport in Northern Virginia earlier this month.

For years, the company has been able to create an experience for customers that mimics the weightless experience of going to space by flying in parabolic arcs. The plane flies up on a pitched ascent, and then crests over like a roller coaster into a steep dive that allows passengers to float for about 30 seconds at a time.

In a hollowed-out cabin of a 727 jet, with padding all around, your body rises involuntarily, and you float, effortlessly, as if you were a molecule in a state of matter that suddenly went from a solid to freewheeling gas, pinging around with abandon….

(15) ACRONYMS IN SPACE. “The Search for Life Around Alpha Centauri Just Took a Major Leap Forward”Gizmodo tells how.

Our nearest neighbor, Alpha Centauri, is 4.37 light-years from Earth, which is super close from a cosmological perspective but achingly far from a human point of view. A new telescope promises to bring this intriguing star system, and any habitable planets it holds, into closer view.

The new mission, called TOLIMAN, was announced today in a press release. TOLIMAN is the ancient Arabic name for Alpha Centauri—the closest star system to Earth—but it’s also an acronym for Telescope for Orbit Locus Interferometric Monitoring of our Astronomical Neighbourhood. Once in space, astronomers will use the orbital observatory to search for potentially habitable exoplanets around Alpha Centauri.

The international collaboration includes teams from the University of Sydney, Breakthrough Initiatives, Saber Astronautics, and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Peter Tuthill from the Sydney Institute for Astronomy at the University of Sydney will lead the project.

(16) PUSHBACK. NPR tells how“NASA’s DART spacecraft will smash into asteroid to test planetary defense tool”.

…In the first real-world test of a technique that could someday be used to protect Earth from a threatening space rock, a spacecraft is scheduled to blast off from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California on Tuesday at 10:20 p.m. PST.

The golf-cart-size spacecraft will travel to an asteroid that’s more than 6 million miles away — and poses no danger to Earth — and ram into it. Scientists will then watch to see how the asteroid’s trajectory changes.

NASA has identified and tracked almost all of the nearby asteroids of a size that would cause world-altering damage if they ever struck Earth. For the foreseeable future, none that big are headed our way. But there are plenty of smaller asteroids, the size that could take out a city, that still haven’t been found and tracked.

It’s a space rock of that smaller size that the DART mission — short for Double Asteroid Redirection Test — will take head-on…

[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Jim Meadows III, Chris Barkley, 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 9/30/21 We’ve Replaced Their Files With Scroller’s Pixels. Let’s See If Anyone Notices

(1) CLARION WEST OCTOBER CLASSES. Clarion West is offering three more months of classes. See the full schedule here. Below are the October offerings — click the links for tuition cost and to register.

This class will discuss the history and traditions of the genre, give tips on how to update those traditions in your writing while maintaining a timeless tone, and provide suggestions on creating a modern Southern Gothic atmosphere in your writing. Students will gain a clearer understanding of the genre and its archetypes, as well as be given tools to more readily generate ideas on how to incorporate recognizable traditions of the genre into modern work.

This class is geared toward writers of long and short speculative fiction. As this is a course focusing on genre, it can be relevant to beginning, intermediate, or advanced writers unfamiliar with Southern Gothic and/or desirous of learning how to bring this genre up to date.

The Afro-Surreal is a storytelling approach allowing creators to examine Black contemporary life much more concisely than a traditional literary narrative by permitting that which is physically impossible or defies explanation. Despite Black-centered horror going mainstream, we have yet to see Afro-Surrealism incorporated widely to amplify aspects of psychological horror, weird fiction, traditional supernatural narratives, or splatterpunk. This workshop will define what constitutes Afro-Surrealism, which horror works have successfully employed it, and how to incorporate Afro-Surrealism in your writing while maintaining your own voice. Key aspects of plot, characterization, and action will be discussed, including: the overlap between the Afro-Surreal and the supernatural, dialogue and the disconnect between how marginalized and privileged people experience an interaction, the unreality of action since facts are frequently suppressed or denied when it comes to the Black experience.

Beginning, intermediate, and advanced authors can use this workshop to refine existing drafts or craft new material for future projects. Students will come away from the workshop equipped to adapt techniques developed by surrealists of the African diaspora for communicating bizarre, unreal experiences in their own horror-centric work.

Voice, Dialogue, and Characterization

Many non-Native writers are reticent to develop Native characters, but leaving out Indigenous characters is not an option, especially when writing science fiction, because it makes assumptions about the future. In the book Writing the Other, Nisi Shawl and Cynthia Ward give practical advice for how to write characters whose backgrounds differ from one’s own. One of their most pertinent pieces of advice is to build relationships with people from those backgrounds. A good start to building a relationship with Indigenous folks is to study their texts.

In this three-hour class, we will discuss several Indigenous futurist texts with Indigenous characters in order to learn how to diversify our science fiction (or otherwise-genred) story in a good way.

Attendees will be provided with readings for class. Writing exercises and prompts will also be provided.

This class is geared toward beginning writers.

Creatives, writers especially, are entirely too familiar with burnout, even before 2020. Trying to get your work published, let alone make a living as an author, requires a volume of effort that can be crushing. 

In this workshop, we’ll focus on regaining a sense of joy and delight in your writing, and generating ideas, characters, and settings that keep your joy front and center as you continue your journey.

How can we make the familiar scary? The aesthetics of a contemporary urban city doesn’t quite have the spine-chilling factor of an ancient village shrouded in fog, but that doesn’t mean there can’t be plenty of scares in everyday life.

In this class, attendees explore how to design new tools to build horror written in contemporary settings that take us beyond expected traditional tropes. Five excerpts from five works of horror fiction, period and contemporary, ranging from Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita to N.K. Jemisin’s The City We Became, will be analyzed and discussed, with the ultimate goal of understanding how these examples have gone against the grain in horror to create an original approach to a classic field. Based on these examples, students will propose their own premises and approaches to a non-traditional horror story or novel. In the second session, we will workshop those ideas, flesh them out, and exchange suggestions for improvement. Then students will write excerpts of their own premises. In the third session, we all evaluate how effective each excerpt is and how it can be improved.

How many words does it take to create true fear? There are many genres of horror that can exist in little spaces. In this workshop, attendees will learn how to create short and scary stories within the confines of micro and flash fiction (100-1,000 words). We’ll study the similarities between comedy and horror in terms of timing, expectation, and subversion. We’ll learn about wildcard characters, invented worlds, and pacing strategies to set up suspense. Throughout the workshop, we’ll stay close to character and keep an eye on how turning points and climaxes are related to the specificity of voice, desire, and fear. By the end of this workshop, participants will have the beginnings of several new horror flash pieces based on in-class writing prompts, a worksheet for outlining a short horror piece, and resources and recommendations for further reading. 

If you’ve ever wanted to include the Tarot in your novel or short story without looking like a Fool, this class will teach you how to avoid common divinatory pitfalls. Learn why an all-Majors spread is statistically unlikely (and laughably overused), the basics behind each suit’s themes, and why the Eight of Swords can be scarier than Death itself!

Alternatively, if you just want to use the Tarot to help you get unblocked in your own writing, this class can provide tips and tricks for that too. Tarot can also be used as a tool to help clarify plot arcs and themes in your writing. Iori and Vida will discuss finding (and breaking in!) the right deck, interpretation tips, and useful spreads and layouts. 

(2) INSPIRED MUSIC. And on October 9, the Bushwick Book Club Seattle presents original music inspired by Nnedi Okorafor’s Akata Witch. This will be a hybrid in-person and livestreamed event. Get tickets here.

An evening of musicians and artists premiering new, original works inspired by the written word.

Story: For Sunny, twelve years old and albino, her arrival in Nigeria from America was shocking enough—until she discovers herself smack in the middle of a world of indescribable magic.
Themes: Self-discovery, friendship, tradition
Heads-up: Killer on the loose, racism (more at Book Trigger Warnings / Trigger Warning database)

(3) RITE GUD. Raquel S. Benedict’s Rite Gud podcast discusses “Tragedy of the Creative Commons: Superheroes and Modern Mythology” in a new installment that dropped today.

Whenever a critic complains about the ubiquity or the creative emptiness of superhero narratives in contemporary pop culture, fans argue back that mass entertainment is just the modern incarnation of our rich cultural heritage: superheroes are mythology, and fandom is folklore. Is this true, or is this a way to flatten the complexities of traditional art while giving commercial media a spiritual significance it does not deserve?

Karlo Yeager Rodríguez joins us.

(4) LEFT BANK LOGROLLING. The New York Times covers a French literary kerfuffle: “In Paris, It’s Literary Scandal Season Again”.

The sidewalks of Paris were already strewn with fallen chestnuts by the time the literary season’s first scandal finally broke.

Most Septembers, as French publishers release their most promising books and start jockeying for prizes, the world of letters is engulfed in the Left Bank’s version of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

This season had been unfolding smoothly — unnaturally, impossibly so, some literary observers quipped — until trouble hit the one big French literary prize known for its probity: the Goncourt, the 118-year-old standard-bearer of the French novel, whose laureates include Marcel Proust, Simone de Beauvoir and Marguerite Duras.

Things started when the Goncourt’s 10 jurors gathered this month, over a lunch of roast duckling with cherries and bottles of Château Maucaillou 2015, to come up with their long list of contenders. The author of one book up for consideration happened to be the romantic partner of one of the jurors, Camille Laurens, a novelist and book reviewer at Le Monde. In fact, the book was dedicated to a certain “C.L.”

Other French prizes are also known for their jurors’ conflicts of interest.

…At the Renaudot and other big prizes, jurors openly lobby for books in which they have a personal or professional stake. Some judges are also editors at big publishing houses and advocate titles by their employers — or books they have themselves edited.

Before the changes at the Goncourt, it, too, was referred to by some critics as “the Goncourt mafia,” recalled the jury’s current president, Didier Decoin, who has been a juror since 1995.

(5) WRITING PROMO COPY. At Dream Foundry, Catherine Lundoff advises about “Words that Sell: Writing Marketing Copy for Your Novel”.

…Some day, when we can have book tables at conventions again, it’s very helpful to watch people when they pick up your books and read the back. That reaction can be magical or disappointing, but either way, it tells you when your copy grabs someone’s attention. In the meantime, look at your reviews, particularly the ones from readers. If they are consistently “expecting something else,” that may be a sign to review your marketing copy and ask writer friends to help you vet it.…

(6) THEY TURNED DOWN THE VOLUMES. The Pew Research Center can tell you “Who doesn’t read books in America?”

Roughly a quarter of American adults (23%) say they haven’t read a book in whole or in part in the past year, whether in print, electronic or audio form, according to a Pew Research Center survey of U.S. adults conducted Jan. 25-Feb. 8, 2021. Who are these non-book readers?

Several demographic traits are linked with not reading books, according to the survey. For instance, adults with a high school diploma or less are far more likely than those with a bachelor’s or advanced degree to report not reading books in any format in the past year (39% vs. 11%). Adults with lower levels of educational attainment are also among the least likely to own smartphones, an increasingly common way for adults to read e-books….

More statistical cross-sections at the link.

(7) TOMMY KIRK (1941-2021). Best known as a young Disney star, actor Tommy Kirk died September 28 at the age of 79. His first venture for Disney was in the Mickey Mouse Club’s genre-adjacent serial The Hardy Boys: The Mystery of the Applegate Treasure, and the studio later cast him in numerous sort-of-genre productions like The Shaggy Dog, Son of Flubber, The Absent Minded ProfessorBabes in ToylandMoon PilotThe Misadventures of Merlin Jones and The Monkey’s Uncle. He was also in several Sixties beach party movies, a couple of them sf-tinged — playing a Martian in the 1964 feature film Pajama Party, and in The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini. His other sff roles included the campy Village of the Giants, and Mars Needs Women. Late in his career he appeared in Attack of the 60 Foot Centerfold (1995), Billy Frankenstein (1998) and The Education of a Vampire (2001).

(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1988 – Thirty-three years ago on this date, Elvira, Mistress of the Dark premiered. It was directed by James Signorelli from a script by Sam Egan, John Paragon, and of course Cassandra Peterson who is as you know the person behind the impressive facade of Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. She’s really the only cast that matters here as this is Her Vehicle.  Critics liked it with one saying that it was “Campy, witty and always eager to push the bawdy limits of a PG-13 rating”. 

Unfortunately for Elvira, Mistress of the Dark at the box office the distributor went dramatically out of business without warning the day before it came out, so it would only ever appear on five hundred screens instead of the twenty-five hundred that was intended, so it ended up losing a lot of money despite only costing seven-and-a-half million to produce. (Her costume might be the most expensive thing in the film.) Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give it an excellent sixty-five percent rating.  

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 30, 1932 — Antoinette Bower, 89. I’ll start off with her being Sylvia in the classic Trek episode of “Catspaw” written by Robert Bloch. She had a previous genre appearance in a Twilight Zone story, “Probe 7, Over and Out” in which she was Eva Nord. It’s a shaggy God story as so termed by Brian Aldiss. She also had one-offs in The Man from U.N.C.L.E.The Wild Wild WestMission: ImpossibleGet Smart and The Six Million Dollar Man.
  • Born September 30, 1946 — Dan O’Bannon. Screenwriter, director, visual effects supervisor, and  actor. He wrote the Alien script, directed The Return of the Living Dead, provided special computer effects on Star Wars, was writer of two segments of Heavy MetalSoft Landing and B-17, co-writer with Ronald Shusett and  Gary Goldman of the first Total Recall. That’s not complete listing by any stretch! (Died 2009.)
  • Born September 30, 1950 — Laura Esquivel, 71. Mexican author of Como agua para chocolateLike Water for Chocolate in English. Magical realism and cooking with more than a small soupçon of eroticism. Seriously the film is amazing as is the book. ISFDB says she’s also written La ley del amor (The Law of Love) which I’ve not read. 
  • Born September 30, 1951 — Simon Hawke, 70. Author of the quite superb Wizard of 4th Street series as Well as the TimeWars series.He has written Battlestar GalacticaTrekFriday the 13th, Predator and Dungeons & Dragons novels as well as the genre adjacent Shakespeare & Smythe mysteries which bear titles such as Much Ado About Murder
  • Born September 30, 1959 — Debrah Farentino, 62. She’s was in the cast of Earth 2 (never saw it — how was it?) and the recurring character of Dr. Beverly Barlowe on Eureka (superb, her character and the series). She was also in Son of the Pink Panther, Baker Street: Sherlock Holmes Returns, and the “Mind Over Matter” episode of Outer Limits. 
  • Born September 30, 1960 — Nicola Griffith, 61. Editor with Stephen Pagel of the genre gender anthologies, Bending the Landscape: Science Fiction and Bending the Landscape: Fantasy (World Fantasy Award and Lambda winner) and Bending the Landscape: HorrorAmmonite won both the Lambda and Otherwise Awards. She also garnered a Lambda and a Nebula for the most excellent Slow River. All of her novels are available from the usual digital suspects. 
  • Born September 30, 1972 — Sheree Renée Thomas, 49. Writer, Shotgun Lullabies: Stories & Poems and Sleeping Under the Tree of Life; Editor, Dark Matter: A Century of Speculative Fiction from the African Diaspora which won a World Fantasy Award, and Dark Matter: Reading the Bones which also won a World Fantasy Award. She’s also written a variety of poems and essays including “Dear Octavia, Octavia E. Butler, Ms. Butler, Mother of Changes”. In 2020, Thomas was named editor of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Half Full proves no matter where you go there’s no escaping the spam.

(11) GUESSING WHO. Radio Times speculates about “Who will be the next Doctor Who after Jodie Whittaker?”.

At the moment there’s not much to go on, and the BBC have only said the decision will be revealed “in due course” – but, based on a few of the names swirling about, our own theories about how the next Doctor would be chosen and recommendations from RadioTimes.com staff, here are a few of our picks for the Fourteenth Doctor.

Spoiler alert: we are almost certainly wrong. But if we’re right, well, you heard (or read) it here first….

Meanwhile, “Billie Piper hints at possible Doctor Who return”.

The I Hate Suzie star, who played the Ninth and Tenth Doctor’s companion Rose Tyler from 2005 until 2008, said in a recent Cameo video that she would consider reprising the iconic role if the moment was right.

“Would I ever go back? I think if the circumstances and the story were right,” she said. “I feel like I’ve had enough time away from it to really, really want back in on it.

“I feel like my kids are are at a good age and may appreciate that too, which is often my incentive to do anything.”…

And Radio Times’ Paul Kirkley adds his own evidence-free guesses about “What to expect from Russell T Davies’ return”.

…Will it be easy, this gear shift? Not for a second. Firstly, anyone who thinks this is going to mean a return to regular Saturday night audiences of eight million (faithful) viewers is probably deluding themselves; that world no longer exists. Sure, the likes of Line of Duty and Vigil may have proved that reports of linear TV’s death continue to be exaggerated, but Doctor Who relies on continually refreshing its audience with a new generation of younger viewers. And, as Ofcom has warned, the traditional broadcasters are currently staring down the barrel of a “lost generation” who, lured away by sexy young buzz brands like Netflix, Disney Plus and YouTube, increasingly view the BBC as that funny old thing your nan watches in the afternoons. (BBC One’s average viewing age, lest we forget, is 61.)

… If, as hinted, Russell does want to expand the Doctor Who “empire”, what sort of expanded portfolio might we reasonably expect? The short answer: haven’t got a Scooby. But has that stopped you starting to build your own fantasy Doctor Who Cinematic Universe in your head? Of course it hasn’t.

So what’s on your bingo card? How about an anthology series featuring one-shot appearances from former – possibly unseen – Doctors? (Hugh Grant as a pre-Hartnell Doctor, anyone?) A stylish period spy-fi drama about the early years of UNIT? Jo Martin’s Fugitive Doctor versus The Division? A Dalek cartoon for the kids? The Humker and Tandrell Adventures…?

Will Russell be dusting off his proposal for Rose Tyler: Earth Defender? Is Torchwood coming back? (Er, probably not.) And will they please, for the love of the mighty Jagrafess of the Holy Hadrojassic Maxarodenfoe, just give us something – anything – with Paul McGann in?

(12) PRODUCT PLACEMENT IN PRATCHETT. [Item by Meredith.] This is old (a 2011 post) but it’s so incredible I thought it might still deserve a spot in the Scroll: Terry Pratchett changes his German publisher because they inserted a soup advert into the text of one of his novels. “Terry Pratchett and the Maggi Soup Adverts” at Stuffed Crocodile.

…Fans of course got used to it, if it gave them access to the books, why not? But it became more and more grating the more genre literature was accepted into mainstream.

And then you actually had a bestseller author like Pratchett jump ship and go to the direct contender (Goldmann), just because one of these stupid stunts. I wonder how that actually was taken by the Heyne CEOs. Back then Pratchett was at the verge of becoming a star in Germany as well, so they lost him just when he was getting big….

There’s a scan of an ad in the post, too.

Diane Duane also wrote a post (with scans) on her blog in 2015: “What’s the Rihannsu for ‘soup’?” at Out of Ambit.

If the above (and below) images look a little bizarre, well, they should. They’re from long-ago German editions of My Enemy, My Ally and The Romulan Way into which the publisher inserted soup ads.

(13) NANO BUNDLE. StoryBundle is offering a 2021 NaNoWriMo Writing Tools Bundle, curated by Kevin J. Anderson.

Each year, as countless determined writers, both aspiring and professional, look at November as National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, we put together a grab back of helpful books that cover all aspects of writing, from craft, to business, to indie publishing, to marketing. This year is no exception.

Presenting a world-class StoryBundle of 16 books that will help you up your game as a writer. Plus, if you meet the bonus price, you can also get discount coupon codes for the ebook editing apps Jutoh 3 and Jutoh 3 Plus!

(14) IT’S A THEORY. Did social media clamoring for actress Lucy Lawless to be cast backfire? “Lucy Lawless Says ‘Mandalorian’ Fan Campaign to Replace Gina Carano Hurt Chances of ‘Star Wars’ Gig” at Yahoo!.

…Lawless revealed to Metro that she was actually circling a different “Star Wars”-adjacent role at the time of Carano’s firing, and she said the fans urging for her “Mandalorian” casting might’ve cost her a trip to a galaxy far, far away.

“Well to be honest with you, I was already in discussions about something on — it wasn’t ‘The Mandalorian’ — something Star Wars-affiliated,’ Lawless said. “[The fan campaign] might have hurt me in some way, because then [Lucasfilm] couldn’t hire me because it would seem to be pandering to…I’m just guessing here, I don’t know anything, but in some ways, it can be unhelpful, because if they pander to this fan group, then how are you going to pander to every other fan group, do you know what I mean?”…

(15) OCTOTHORPE. The Octothorpe podcast team, John Coxon, Alison Scott, and Liz Batty, say about episode 41: “We recorded this before Fantasycon, but that didn’t stop us talking about it a whole bunch. We also talk about Novacon’s COVID policy, discuss the Ignyte Awards and do picks.”  “Leaves the Beans In”.

(16) ICE CUBE ROOTER. The New York Times knows “Where NASA Will Send Its First Robotic Moon Rover to Search for Ice”.

NASA has been planning for years to send a robotic rover to the moon’s polar regions. Water ice trapped at the bottoms of craters there could be a boon to future visiting astronauts, providing water to drink, air to breathe and rocket fuel to propel them back to Earth or even farther out into the solar system.

Now, NASA has identified the crater that the rover — the Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover, or VIPER — will spend about 100 days exploring when it arrives in a couple of years.

VIPER will land near the moon’s south pole, at the western edge of the 45-mile-wide Nobile crater, which formed when something hit the moon. Near the poles, the sun is low on the horizon and the bottoms of craters, lying in permanent shadows, are among the coldest places in the solar system….

(17) BEYOND GOOSEBUMPS. SYFY Wire promotes the trailer for a new series based on R.L. Stine’s YA comic: “Just Beyond on Disney+ drops first spooky trailer for R.L. Stine series”.

Just Beyond. Based on the BOOM! Studios YA comic of the same name (written by Goosebumps and Fear Street creator, R.L. Stine), the eight-episode anthology heads for Disney+ in October. 

The official press release teases a collection of “astonishing and thought-provoking stories” about witches, aliens, ghosts, parallel dimensions, and more. Each episode will feature an entirely new cast of characters “who must go on a surprising journey of self-discovery in a supernatural world.” 

Seth Grahame-Smith (author of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and one of the writers behind HBO Max’s upcoming Green Lantern series) serves as writer, executive producer, and showrunner….

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Game Trailers: WarioWare: Get It together!” Fandom Games says this new extension of the Warioware franchise features snappy little games with characters named 5-Volt, 9-Volt, and 12-Volt and in the next edition they’ll  “eliminate the middleman,” and is a snack-size alternative to watching TikTok videos of men punching themselves over and over.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Michael Toman, Meredith, R.S. Benedict, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jayn.]

Pixel Scroll 8/16/21 The Scroll Of Elfland’s Pixel

(1) BLACK STARS. There are six short tales of speculative fiction in the Black Stars series of Amazon Original Stories which will be released on August 31.

  • “2043…(A Merman I Should Turn to Be)” by Nisi Shawl
  • “The Black Pages” by Nnedi Okorafor
  • “The Visit” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie 
  • “These Alien Skies” by C. T. Rwizi 
  • “Clap Back” by Nalo Hopkinson
  • “We Travel the Spaceways” by Victor LaValle 

(2) NICHELLE NICHOLS CONSERVATORSHIP NEWS. The article excerpted here the other day when it was behind an LA Times paywall is now available in full online at AL.com: “Nichelle Nichols, Star Trek’s Lt. Uhura, faces heartbreaking conservatorship fight”.

… Questions around the fate of Nichols’ home — who lives in it and what happens to it — have been central to an ongoing, years-long legal battle over the finances and care of the beloved TV star, who friends and family say is financially drained and struggling with dementia.

A three-way fight over Nichols’ fate involves her only child, Kyle Johnson, who is also her conservator; her former manager Gilbert Bell; and a concerned friend, Angelique Fawcette….

(3) WEST SCHOOL HO! Deadline reports a Seanan McGuire series is being developed by Paramount: ”’Wayward Children’ Movie Franchise In Works After Paramount Lands Rights”.

After aggressively pursuing rights, Paramount Pictures has preemptively acquired the Wayward Children fantasy book series by Seanan McGuire. With six books already published and a seventh installment coming in early 2022, the studio plans to build a franchise around this universe of characters and stories.

Sources say Paramount’s Motion Picture Group president Emma Watts has had her eye on the series for some time and was  hands on in making sure the studio landed the rights. Insiders say the studio views the series as a possible franchise given the huge fanbase that is behind it, and add it has already drawn interest from top talent to be a part of it.

The series adaptations will be produced by Pouya Shahbazian. The series takes place in Eleanor West’s School for Wayward Children, a boarding school for people who have returned home from magical fantasy worlds and have trouble readjusting to their old lives. For as long as time, children have always found doorways into different worlds, whether down rabbit holes and wishing wells or through wardrobes and magic mirrors, but this series explores what happens to the ones who come back — and want nothing more than to return to those other worlds.

This surreal and subversive take on portal fantasy stories is centered around a culturally diverse group of teenagers across the LGBTQIA+ spectrum, as they work to make sense of the fantastical realms they came from and the shared world they find themselves back in….

(4) MAKERS AND SHAKERS. “From Mary Shelley to Carmen Maria Machado, women have profoundly shaped horror” in the Guardian.

You probably know the story of Lord Byron’s house party at Villa Diodati – the one in which he challenged his guests to see who could write the scariest ghost story. Teenage Mary Shelley won his challenge on infamy, if not technicality, when she wrote Frankenstein. Thus the horror genre was invented by a disenfranchised teenage girl.

While it might be more precise to say that Shelley invented science fiction in this moment, her story, a non-religious creationist myth, would upend the rules of literature. Frankenstein has become such an influential examination of the distortion of nature and hubris of man, that it looms larger in the gothic horror genre than any other work of literature.

If you want to acknowledge just how much women have contributed to the horror genre, and how much the genre continues to reflect women and women’s realities back to themselves, Frankenstein is also a useful place to start.

Horror is one of the only genres that allows for a constantly evolving interplay of the factual and fantastical. “When you enter into horror, you’re entering into your own mind, your own anxiety, your own fear, your own darkest spaces,” said American author Carmen Maria Machado, speaking to the Paris Review in 2017. Having won the Shirley Jackson award for her short story collection Her Body and Other Parties, Machado went on to use a horror framework to tell her personal story of queer domestic violence in her 2019 memoir, In the Dream House. With gothic tropes and style, Machado replayed physical and emotional abuse within the walls of her mind and the memories of the old house she shared with her partner – now haunted by the past and their relationship. “Horror is an intimate, eerie, terrifying thing, and when it’s done well it can unmake you, the viewer, the reader,” she said….

(5) ANDERS AND YU. A Room of One’s Own in Madison, WI will host A Virtual Conversation With Charlie Jane Anders, author of Never Say You Can’t Survive, and Charles Yu on August 18 at 6:00 p.m. Central

Full of memoir, personal anecdote, and insight about how to flourish during the present emergency, Never Say You Can’t Survive is the perfect manual for creativity in unprecedented times. Things are scary right now. We’re all being swept along by a tidal wave of history, and it’s easy to feel helpless. But we’re not helpless: we have minds, and imaginations, and the ability to visualize other worlds and valiant struggles. And writing can be an act of resistance that reminds us that other futures and other ways of living are possible. 

(6) BE ON THE LOOKOUT FOR THESE. Lisa Tuttle’s latest Guardian column is up: “The best recent fantasy, horror and science fiction – review roundup”. Includes —

…P Djèlí Clark’s debut novel A Master of Djinn (Orbit, £8.99) is set in an alternative-history version of Egypt. In 1912, half a century after the mystic al-Jahiz made an opening into the realm of spirits, Cairo is a modern, multicultural city running on a combination of magical, alchemical and steam-powered technology. Muslims and Copts co-exist with devotees of Hathor; djinn and humans work together; even women have won the right to vote, and are employed in jobs formerly given only to men. Fatma el-Sha’arawi of the Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments and Supernatural Entities has already saved the universe from destruction once and is sure she can handle the little problem of an imposter in a gold mask, claiming to be al-Jahiz and stirring unrest in the rougher neighbourhoods. This fantasy is refreshingly different; a well-plotted mystery filled with engaging characters, presented with a lightly humorous touch….

(7) CLI-FI. Future Tense, a partnership of Arizona State University, Slate, and New America presents the first public event connected with their Climate Imagination Fellowship.

“Unlocking Our Climate Imagination” is on August 31 at 12 p.m. Eastern. Speakers include Kim Stanley Robinson, the three Climate Imagination Fellows, Vandana Singh, Hannah Onoguwe, and Libia Brenda, plus Nigel Topping, the UN High-Level Climate Champion for the UK, and Bina Venkataraman, Boston Globe editorial page editor and former White House climate advisor.

 The event is free and open to everyone. Register here.

(8) MEMORY LANE.

  • 1967 – Fifty-four year ago at NyCon 3 where Harlan Ellison was Toastmaster, Robert Heinlein would win the Hugo for Best Novel for The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. It had been serialized in If the previous year and published by Putnam that year. Other nominated works were Samuel R. Delany‘s Babel-17, Randall Garrett‘s Too Many Magicians, Daniel Keyes‘ Flowers for Algernon, James H. Schmitz‘s The Witches of Karres and Thomas Burnett Swann’s Day of the Minotaur.  It would also be nominated for a Nebula and it would be inducted into the Prometheus Hall of Fame. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 16, 1884 Hugo Gernsback. Publisher of the first SF magazine, Amazing Stories in 1926. He also helped create fandom through the Science Fiction League. Pittcon voted him a Hugo titled Father of Magazine Science Fiction, and he was voted the First Fandom Hall of Fame Award. He’s the writer of the Ralph 124C 41+ novel which most critics think is utterly dreadful but Westfahl considers an “essential text for all studies of science fiction.” There’s at least nine versions of it available at the usual suspects which is sort of odd. (Died 1967.)
  • Born August 16, 1930 Robert Culp. He’d make the Birthday Honors solely for being the lead in Outer Limits’ “Demon with a Glass Hand” which Ellison wrote specifically with him in mind. He would do two more appearances on the show, “Corpus Earthling” and “The Architects of Fear”. Around this time, he makes one-offs on Get Smart! and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. before being Special FBI Agent Bill Maxwell in The Greatest American Hero. Did you know there was a Conan the Adventurer series in the Nineties in which he was King Vog in one episode? I’ve not seen it. Do we consider I Spy genre? (Died 2010.)
  • Born August 16, 1933 Julie Newmar, 88. Catwoman in Batman. Her recent voice work includes the animated Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders and Batman vs. Two-Face, both done in the style of the Sixties show. They feature the last voice work by Adam West. Shatner btw plays Harvey Dent aka Two Face.  She was on the original Trek in the “Friday’s Child” episode as Eleen. She also has one-offs on Get Smart!Twilight ZoneFantasy IslandBionic WomanBuck Rogers in the 25th CenturyBewitched and Monster Squad
  • Born August 16, 1934 Andrew J. Offutt. I know him through his work in the Thieves’ World anthologies though I also enjoyed the Swords Against Darkness anthologies that he edited. I don’t think I’ve read any of his novels. And I’m not Robert E. Howard fan so I’ve not read any of his Cormac mac Art or Conan novels but his short fiction is superb. His only award was a Phoenix Award which is lifetime achievement award for a science fiction professional who had done a great deal for Southern Fandom. (Died 2013.)
  • Born August 16, 1934 Diana Wynne Jones. If there’s essential reading for her, it’d be The Tough Guide to Fantasyland with a playful look at the genre. Then I’d toss in Deep Secret for its setting, and Fire and Hemlock for her artful merging of the Scottish ballads Tam Lin and Thomas the Rhymer. Now what’s the name of the exemplary short story collection she did late in life? Ahhh it was Unexpected Magic: Collected Stories with the great cover by artist Dan Craig. (Died 2011.)
  • Born August 16, 1954 James Cameron, 67. Let’s see… Terminator… Aliens… Terminator 2… True Lies… Strange Days… And The Abyss as well. Did you know he was interested in doing a Spider-man film? It never happened but the Dark Angel series with Jessica Alba did. And then there’s his Avatar franchise.
  • Born August 16, 1958 Rachael Talalay, 63. She made her directorial debut with Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare, and she also worked on the first four of the Nightmare on Elm Street films. Moving from horror to SF, she directed Tank Girl next. A long time Who fan, she directed all three of Twelfth Doctor’s series finales: series 8’s “Dark Water” and “Death in Heaven,” along with series 9’s “Heaven Sent” and “Hell Bent” before directing series 10’s “World Enough and Time” and “The Doctor Falls.” She capped who Who work with “Twice Upon a Time”, the last Twelfth Doctor story. Her latest genre undertaking is A Babysitter’s Guide to Monster Hunting.
  • Born August 16, 1960 Timothy Hutton, 61. Best known of late as Nathan Ford  on the Leverage series which is almost genre. His first genre was in Iceman as Dr. Stanley Shephard, and he was in The Dark Half in the dual roles of Beaumont and George Stark. He’s David Wildee in The Last Mizo, based off “Mimsy Were the Borogoves” by Lewis Padgett (husband-and-wife team Henry Kuttner and C. L. Moore). He was Hugh Crain in The Haunting of Hill House series. I’m going to finish off this Birthday note by singling out his role as Archie Goodwin on the Nero Wolfe series. 

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Bizarro shows what happens when Uber goes Unter.  

(11) AVENGERS 750. When Marvel Comics presents the 750th issue of Avengers in November, it will include Christopher Ruocchio making his Marvel Comics debut alongside artist Steve McNiven in a bonus story starring Thor.

 “I’m honored to play a small part in this moment of Avengers history and thrilled to get to work with Steve McNiven to bring you all a little classic Thor,” Ruocchio said. “It’s a bit surreal to get to work with a character I grew up with, and I hope I’ve told a tale worthy of the God of Thunder.”

The rest of the supersized issue will include the introduction of The Multiversal Masters Of Evil, the deadly new group of villains fans met in this year’s Free Comic Book Day: Avengers/Hulk #1. Fans will also witness the conclusion of “World War She-Hulk”, finally learn the true purpose of the prehistoric Avengers, uncover the secret of the Iron Inquisitor, watch the Avengers recruit some surprising new members, and follow the Ghost Rider on a quest for vengeance across the Multiverse that will spark an all-new era in Avengers history.

(12) UK REVIEWERS NEEDED. Jonathan Cowie sends a head’s-up to UK based Filers: “SF2 Concatenation is on the hunt for SF/F book reviewers (especially fantasy and especially female reviewers to more even our gender balance). Sadly UK reviewers only as we have to snail-mail post books.” Full details here: “SF & Fantasy book reviewers wanted”

(13) SHINY. James Davis Nicoll knows the addresses of “Five Fictional Space Colonies From the Post-Disco Era”, and they’re definitely not orbiting mirror balls.

As previously discussed, Gerard K. O’Neill’s vision of space colonies was particularly comforting to 1970s anxieties.  Soaring population? The asteroid belt has enough material to build habitats promising many times the surface area of Earth! Energy crisis? Have said habitats pay for themselves by building solar power arrays IN SPAAACE!  Indigenous populations weirdly ungrateful for genocidal displacement by Europeans? Colonization do-over in space where there are no natives to displace or complain!…

A Plague of Angels by Toren Smith and Adam Warren (1990–1991)

When member worlds are overwhelmed by crisis, the United Galactica’s World Welfare Work Association dispatches field agents to resolve the problem. A very unlucky minority of worlds find themselves being assisted by Trouble Consultants Kei and Yuri, who are as inadvertently destructive as they are inexplicably scantily-clad. Code-named “the Lovely Angels,” the apocalyptic pair are infamous as the Dirty Pair.

Habitats are by their nature fragile. Kei and Yuri are harbingers of doom. Logic would dictate sending someone else—anyone else—to Kalevala O’Neill Colony. The 3WA sends the Dirty Pair. Kalevala is struggling to deal with smugglers. Soon, smugglers will be the least of Kalevala’s problems.

(14) PLANETARY EXPLORATION. CBS Sunday Morning did a segment on Planet Word: “Word play: A visit to D.C.’s Planet Word”. (Martin Morse Wooster recently wrote about his own visit here.)

(15) TINY WORLDS. Jeffrey Smith sent the link with a comment: “These are amazing! Not really skiffy, but what an imagination!” — “Japanese Artist Creates Amazing Miniature Dioramas Every Day For 10 Years” at Digital Synopsis. (The entire collection by Japanese artist Tatsuya Tanaka is at Miniature Calendar.) I think this first one actually does reference a well-known genre movie. The second is more typical of Tanaka’s series of inventive scenes.

[Thanks to JJ, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Jeffrey Smith, Joey Eschrich, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Jon Meltzer.]

Pixel Scroll 7/28/21 So Put Another File In The Jukebox, Baby

(1) MORE’S HAPPENING THAN WHAT’S ON THE PAGE. Aigner Loren Wilson is “Exploring Nnedi Okorafor’s Africanfuturist Universe” at Tor.com.

…Though not all of the stories take place in Africa, they all speak to the same African future that Okorafor is creating and envisioning. Sometimes this future is at the nexus of American industrialism and the exploitation of Africans like in The Book of Phoenix, in which Okorafor shows the rage and anger of a child used and experimented on. Sometimes her stories show the aftermath of such greed. In Who Fears Death, Okorafor writes of the strife of Sudan and the resilience of its people through the story of Onyesonwu. Readers watch her grow from an infant to a powerful being with the ability to save and heal a whole people. Though the landscapes change, the heart of an Africanfuturist universe is being carved out within these books. Eventually in Binti, Africa reaches the stars by way of the character literally running away so she can be the first of her people to attend a top intergalactic school. Binti is the future of her people, carrying the weight of all the past struggles of them and herself—the histories both told and not….

(2) BOOKER PRIZE LONGLIST. The Booker Prize 2021 longlist includes three books of genre interest, titles shown in boldface.

  • A Passage North, Anuk Arudpragasam (Granta Books, Granta Publications)
  • Second Place, Rachel Cusk, (Faber)
  • The Promise, Damon Galgut, (Chatto & Windus, Vintage, PRH)
  • The Sweetness of Water, Nathan Harris (Tinder Press, Headline, Hachette Book Group)
  • Klara and the Sun, Kazuo Ishiguro (Faber)
  • An Island, Karen Jennings (Holland House Books)
  • A Town Called Solace, Mary Lawson (Chatto & Windus, Vintage, PRH)
  • No One is Talking About This, Patricia Lockwood (Bloomsbury Circus, Bloomsbury Publishing)
  • The Fortune Men, Nadifa Mohamed (Viking, Penguin General, PRH)
  • Bewilderment, Richard Powers (Hutchinson Heinemann, PRH)
  • China Room, Sunjeev Sahota (Harvill Secker, Vintage, PRH)
  • Great Circle, Maggie Shipstead (Doubleday, Transworld Publishers, PRH)
  • Light Perpetual, Francis Spufford (Faber)

The shortlist will be announced September 14, and the winner on November 3.

(3) COMPLICATED Q&A. LeVar Burton was interviewed by David Marchese in the July 4 New York Times Magazine.  It’s mostly about his Jeopardy! stint, but he also discusses his 1997 sf novel Aftermath, which has recently been reprinted. “LeVar Burton’s Quest to Succeed Alex Trebek”

…Forgive me for making the subtext of these questions the text, but I’m trying to see if we can complicate the image of you as almost a secular pop-culture saint like Alex Trebek or Fred Rogers. And one of the things that I came across that maybe does complicate things is your novel, “Aftermath.”5

[5 Published in 1997, Burton’s only novel to date is a dystopian story about a United States recovering from a series of catastrophic events, including violent racial conflicts after the assassination of the nation’s first Black president-elect by a white extremist.]

 Wow. I love talking to people who have taken the time to read my book. I’m enormously proud of it. I just recorded a digital version of it with a new author’s note. I threw out the old author’s note about how I came to be a science-fiction fan and instead addressed the time in which we find ourselves now and some of the ways in which the events at the beginning of the novel are kind of prescient.

I don’t really know how well the book sold, but I think it’s fair to say that it’s obscure. Is it possible that the public wasn’t eager to accept the side of your sensibility that it represented? I was surprised by the violence, the allusions to sexual assault — just the darkness in it. 

I would venture to say, based on some encounters that I have had on Twitter, that there is a population of people who aren’t willing to see me displaying an aspect of my character that perhaps goes against their idea of who I am. They feel like they have the right to opine on who I should be, what I should and should not say. That’s an interesting part of this dynamic of fame. However, I spent a lot of time and energy discovering, defining, divining who I am and how I want to live my life. What you do with what I put out there is your business. What I put out there is my business….

(4) AFTER ACTION REPORT. At Green Book of the White Downs, Tim Bolton’s “Thoughts on the release of the Tolkien Society Summer Seminar videos and push-back against the online small-minded backlash around the event” includes links to “an outpouring of writing focused on the reception of Tolkien’s work and finding representation to identify with in Tolkien’s words” plus “numerous blog posts about LGBT+ and Tolkien.”

…A couple of weeks ago, as we headed towards what would be a fantastic and thoughtful Tolkien Society Summer Seminar, it came apparent that a part of the Tolkien fandom were quite vocally angry that diversity should be a topic associated with Tolkien. We saw a rival conference set up (as if other conferences have ever been a bad thing), we saw podcasts and YouTube rants. Social media saw the same people posting angrily about the affront that the Tolkien Society were holding a seminar – not sure where these lot have been, the Tolkien Society have hosted seminars every year for longer than some of them were born….    

This is the Tolkien Society seminar whose announced schedule was used by some bloggers as an excuse to act out – “Seminar’s Focus on Diversity in Tolkien Draws Conservatives’ Ire” – including pitching a dubious rival event: “Purported Event Will Counter-Program the Seminar on Diversity in Tolkien”.

Bolton concludes his post with this affirmation:

…Here’s the thing. No matter how far back these cave trolls want to try and drag us, we (as a fandom and a society) are going to move forward. We are diverse, we are inclusive. Will we make mistakes? Of course, we are human. But I will stand by groups that at their core hold values such empathy, kindness and being welcoming to all.

And at the centre of it all – our love of Tolkien’s works.

(5) DOG AT LARGE. Joseph Tuttle introduces readers to “’Roverandom:’ Tolkien’s little-known children’s story” at Voyage.

Roverandom is the endearing tale of a little dog’s adventures after being turned into a toy by a wizard. Tolkien originally told this story to his children after one of them had lost a toy dog on vacation. After searching for the lost toy unsuccessfully, Tolkien devised Roverandom to help explain what happened to the toy. Years later, he put the story into the book format we now have….

(6) LUMPY LOKI. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster, Designated Reader, Financial Times.] In the July 24 Financial Times, Fiona Sturges interviews Richard E Grant about his role on Loki.

Grant hams it up terrifically as Classic Loki, one of several ‘variant’ Lokis marooned in a purgatory known as ‘The Void’ (other variants include Alligator Loki and Kid Loki.)  When he first saw his costume — scoffed-grubby-with clear sagging in the crotch area — he was a little crestfallen.  ‘My first question was, ‘Where are the muscles?’  If you look at Jack Kirby’s original drawings in the comic, the guy had muscles.  But the costume designer was very insistent that I was relying on Loki magic (for strength). So I didn’t get my way.  I thought, ‘Oh well, it’s a withered and old Classic Loki that they’re going to get!’

The role also required Grant to grapple with CGI and green screen technology.  He notes that in 2019’s Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker, in which he played Allegiant General Pryde, ‘ all the doors were functional, all the lights on the consoles worked, and there were stormtroopers’  By contrast, in Loki, his alligator co-star was made of three cushions roughly sewn together. 

(7) METAVERSE MAVEN. The Verge says “Mark Zuckerberg is betting Facebook’s future on the metaverse” – so I guess I’d better start figuring out what that’s supposed to be.

As June came to an end, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told his employees about an ambitious new initiative. The future of the company would go far beyond its current project of building a set of connected social apps and some hardware to support them. Instead, he said, Facebook would strive to build a maximalist, interconnected set of experiences straight out of sci-fi — a world known as the metaverse.

The company’s divisions focused on products for communities, creators, commerce, and virtual reality would increasingly work to realize this vision, he said in a remote address to employees. “What I think is most interesting is how these themes will come together into a bigger idea,” Zuckerberg said. “Our overarching goal across all of these initiatives is to help bring the metaverse to life.”

The metaverse is having a moment. Coined in Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson’s 1992 sci-fi novel, the term refers to a convergence of physical, augmented, and virtual reality in a shared online space. Earlier this month, The New York Times explored how companies and products including Epic Games’ FortniteRoblox, and even Animal Crossing: New Horizons increasingly had metaverse-like elements. (Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney has been discussing his desire to contribute to a metaverse for many months now.)…

(8) SECOND BANANAS WITH MORE APPEAL. James Davis Nicoll points out “Five Supporting Characters Who Outshine the Protagonist” at Tor.com.

Sergeant Sam Anderson from Starman Jones by Robert A. Heinlein (1953)

Had runaway Max Jones never met Sam Anderson, late of the Imperial Marines, Max’s plans to follow his late uncle Chester into space would have come to nothing. Chester may have been a member in good standing of the Astrogators’ Guild, but he never signed the necessary paperwork nominating Max for membership. As far as the Guild is concerned, that is that.

Sam, on the other hand, has the ethical flexibility, experience, and connections needed to circumvent onerous regulation. Thanks to Sam’s experienced mentorship, Max acquires all the necessary papers needed to work in space and a position on board the Asgard. Max’s odd talents will prove invaluable when the Asgard is lost in space. Those talents would never have been there to help the Asgard without genially amoral Sam’s corrupting influence.

(9) HELP SOLVE A MYSTERY. Filer Jake says at the Something Awful forums someone has posted a Polaroid picture from 1989 in which a paperback book, believed to be SF, can be seen, and asked “What is that book?”

We’re seriously stumped, to the point where I’ve been trawling a copy of the ISFDB to get titles that might be of the same length as the one in the picture, and am also considering downloading their cover DB so as to do some heavy-duty image analysis.

I’m hoping that you’d be willing to add this as an item in a Pixel Scroll, as in the words of the original asker “Why should we be the only ones to be haunted by this?”

This is the picture. You can see why they’re having so much trouble figuring out the answer. But maybe the pattern of the cover will tickle something in your memory banks?

(10) MEMORY LANE.

  • July 28, 2007 – On this date fourteen years ago, Jekyll, a British series produced as a sequel to The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde novella, finishes airing on BBC One. Steven Moffat wrote all six episodes with Douglas Mackinnon and Matt Lipsey each directing three episodes. Elaine Cameron and Jeffrey Taylor were the producers. It starred James Nesbitt in the lead role with the rest of the cast being Gina Bellman, Paterson Joseph, Denis Lawson, Michelle Ryan, Meera Syal and Fenella Woolgar. Critics loved it with James Jackson of The Times saying Nesbitt’s acting as Hyde was “entertainingly over the top as a dozen Doctor Who villains, with a palpable sense of menace to boot”.  A second season was written by Moffat but the BBC never picked up the option on it. Eight years later, ITV would air Jekyll and Hyde based off the same source material and it too would cancelled after one series.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 28, 1866 Beatrix Potter. Probably best known for Tales of Peter Rabbit but I’d submit her gardening skills were second-to-none as well as can be seen in the Green Man review of Marta McDowell’s Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life. Those skills are reflected in her fiction. (Died 1943.)
  • Born July 28, 1928 Angélica Gorodischer, 93. Argentinian writer whose Kalpa Imperial: The Greatest Empire That Never Was got translated by Ursula Le Guin into English. Likewise Prodigies.has been translated by Sue Burke for Small Beer Press. She won a World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement. You can read Lightspeed Magazine’s interview with her here.
  • Born July 28, 1931 Jay Kay Klein. I’ll direct you to Mike’s excellent look at him here as I can’t add anything to what he says.  I will note that Jay Kay was a published author of three stories, “Century of Progress”, “Mass Communication“ and  “On Conquered Earth”.  The first two in Analog, the latter in If. None of these have been republished since.  (Died 2012.)
  • Born July 28, 1941 Bill Crider. Primarily a writer of mystery fiction, his extensive bibliography includes three stories in the Sherlock Holmes metaverse: The Adventure of the Venomous LizardThe Adventure of the St. Marylebone Ghoul and The Case of the Vanished Vampire. He also wrote a Sookie Stackhouse short story, “Don’t Be Cruel” in the Charlaine Harris Metaverse. His “Doesn’t Matter Any Matter More” short story won a Sidewise Awards for Alternate History and his “Mike Gonzo and the UFO Terror” won a Golden Duck Award. (Died 2018.)
  • Born July 28, 1955 Dey Young, 66. One of those performers who appeared in multiple Trek series. She was in Next Gen’s “The Masterpiece Society” as Hannah Bates, in Deep Space Nine’s “A Simple Investigation” as Arissa and  and in Enterprise’s “Two Days and Two Nights” as Keyla. She’s got minor roles in Running ManStrange Invaders and Spaceballs as well.
  • Born July 28, 1966 Larry Dixon, 55. Husband of Mercedes Lackey who collaborates with her on such series as SERRAted Edge and The Mage Wars Trilogy. (They were CoNZealand GoHs last year.) He contributed artwork to Wizards of the Coast’s Dungeons & Dragons source books, including Oriental AdventuresEpic Level Handbook, and Fiend Folio
  • Born July 28, 1968 Rachel Blakely, 53. You’ll most likely know her as Marguerite Krux on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World as that was her longest running genre role. She was briefly Alcmene on Young Hercules, and played Gael’s Mum on The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. And showed up as Penelope in the “Ulysses” episode of Xena: Warrior Princess
  • Born July 28, 1972 Elizabeth Berkley, 49. Her best known role is Verhooven’s Showgirls which is decidedly not genre even if Kyle MacLachan is in it. She’s done some genre work including The Twilight ZonePerversions of Science which appears to be akin to the Tales from The Crypt series, the animated Armitage III: Polymatrix series, and the Threshold series which pops up regularly in these Birthday notes. 

(12) SJW CREDENTIAL BUNDLE. StoryBundle’s 2021 Cattitude Bundle, curated by Kristine Kathryn Rusch, is available for three more weeks. Get the full list of books and the rest of the deal at the link.

This bundle thrills me. Often, I curate StoryBundles filled with books I’ve read. Always, I curate with authors whose work I like. But as I curate them, I’m aware that I am a moody reader who rarely wants to read what’s prescribed. So, with the books I have only read parts of or haven’t read at all, I put them in a To-Be-Read pile to finish when the mood strikes.

With cat fiction, though, the mood always strikes me. I’ll stop whatever I’m doing to read a cat story. Well, that’s not entirely true. I’ll do whatever I’m doing, unless I’m petting one of my three cats.

Many of the books in this bundle combine cats and magic. It seems a proper combination. Cats can twist themselves into the strangest positions. They have an uncanny way of loving us or torturing us (depending on how they feel about us). They have a mysterious edge, even if they’re the friendliest cat on the planet.

(13) LOCKDOWN WAS GOOD BUSINESS FOR THEM. Game makers are getting an unexpected slice of the pie. The Guardian has the story: “Warhammer maker Games Workshop hands staff £5,000 bonus after lockdown sales surge”.

Warhammer retailer Games Workshop is handing its shop workers, model makers, designers and support staff a £5,000 bonus each after sales and profits benefited from tabletop gamers escaping lockdown by fighting bloodthirsty battles with orcs, elves and alien hordes.

The Nottingham-based company behind the popular fantasygaming equipment and Lord of the Rings figurines said its 2,600 ordinary workers would split a £10.6m special bonus on top of a £2.6m profit share.

Senior managers will share an extra £1.1m bonus pot, up from £300,000 the year before, after sales rose by just over a third to £361m and pretax profits soared almost 70% to £151m….

(14) WITCHER SPINOFF. This trailer for a Witcher anime spinoff dropped on Wednesday. The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf premieres August 23 on Netflix.

The world of The Witcher expands in this anime origin story: Before Geralt, there was his mentor Vesemir — a swashbuckling young witcher who escaped a life of poverty to slay monsters for coin. But when a strange new monster begins terrorizing a politically-fraught kingdom, Vesemir finds himself on a frightening adventure that forces him to confront the demons of his past.

(15) KEEP WATCHING THE SKIES. Dr. Brian Keating, Co-Director of the Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination, who also is a member of the Galileo Project’s Advisory Board, is joined by Harvard University Professor Avi Loeb to chat about the Galileo Project in “Extraterrestrial Technology: The Situation Has Changed!” on YouTube.

Huge news out of Harvard: In 2017, the world for the first time observed an interstellar object, called ‘Oumuamua, that was briefly visiting our Solar system. Based on astronomical observations, ‘Oumuamua turned out to have highly anomalous properties that defy well-understood natural explanations. We can only speculate whether ‘Oumuamua may be explained by never seen before natural explanations, or by stretching our imagination to ‘Oumuamua perhaps being an extraterrestrial technological object, similar to a very thin light-sail or communication dish, which fits the astronomical data rather well.

After the release of the ODNI (Office of the Director of National Intelligence) report on Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP), the scientific community now needs the determination to systematically, scientifically & transparently look for potential evidence of extraterrestrial technological equipment. The impact of any discovery of extraterrestrial technology on science & on our entire worldview would be enormous.

Given the recently discovered abundance of Earth-Sun systems, the Galileo Project is dedicated to the proposition that humans can no longer ignore the possible existence of Extraterrestrial Technological Civilizations (ETCs), and that science should not dogmatically reject potential extraterrestrial explanations because of social stigma or cultural preferences, factors which are not conducive to the scientific method of unbiased, empirical inquiry. We now must look through new telescopes, both literally and figuratively. The Galileo Project aims to identify the nature of UAP and ‘Oumuamua-like interstellar objects using the standard scientific method based on a transparent analysis of open scientific data to be collected using optimized instruments.

The Galileo Project follows three major avenues of research:

1. Obtain High-resolution, Multi-detector UAP Images, Discover their Nature: This goal will be accomplished by searching for UAP with a network of mid-sized, high-resolution telescopes and detector arrays with suitable cameras and computer systems, distributed in select locations. The data will be open to the public and the scientific analysis will be transparent.

We anticipate extensive Artificial Intelligence/Deep Learning (AI/DL) and algorithmic approaches to differentiate atmospheric phenomena from birds, balloons, commercial or consumer drones, and from potential technological objects of terrestrial or other origin surveying our planet, such as satellites. For the purpose of high contrast imaging, each telescope will be part of a detector array of orthogonal and complementary capabilities from radar, Doppler radar, and high-resolution synthetic aperture radar to high-resolution, large camera visible range and infrared band telescopes. If an ETC is discovered to be surveying Earth using UAP, then we have to assume that the ETC has mastered passive radar, optical and infrared technologies. In such a case, our systematic study of such detected UAP will be enhanced by means of high-performance, integrated and multi-wavelength detector arrays.

2. Search for and In-Depth Research on ‘Oumuamua-like Interstellar Objects:  

The Galileo Project research group also will utilize existing and future astronomical surveys, such as the Rubin Observatory, to discover and monitor the properties of interstellar visitors to the Solar system. We will conceptualize and design, potentially in collaboration with interested space agencies or space ventures, a launch-ready space mission to image unusual interstellar objects such as ‘Oumuamua by intercepting their trajectories on their approach to the Sun or by using ground-based survey telescopes to discover interstellar meteors.

3. Search for Potential ETC Satellites: Discovering potential 1 meter-scale or smaller satellites that may be exploring Earth, e.g., in polar orbits a few hundred km above Earth, may become feasible with VRO in 2023 and later, but if radar, optical and infrared technologies have been mastered by an ETC, then very sophisticated large telescopes on Earth might be required. We will design advanced algorithmic and AI/DL object recognition and fast filtering methods that the Galileo Project intends to deploy, initially on non-orbiting telescopes. 

(16) PICS OR IT DIDN’T HAPPEN. The Expanse was a Jeopardy! clue. I can prove it. (Do we still call this a screenshot?)

(17) TRAILER FOR A PROMISED FAN FILM. Strap in for a fun Star Wars fan film from writer/director Anthony Ferraro, Forsaken Mandalorian and the Drunken Jedi Master. “The goal was to make a fan film driven by dramatic performances rather than winks and nods to the franchise. But not to worry, we do some winking and nodding,” Ferraro promises. The video launches August 6 on the Create Sci-Fi YouTube channel.

Hope hinges on two men with no hope.

A forsaken Mandalorian hunts down a Hutt Courier to recover an asset that unexpectedly leads him to team up with an outcast drunken Jedi Master to fulfill his sworn duty.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, N., Jake, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]

Pixel Scroll 6/12/21 The Scroll Of His Pixels, The Click Of His Files

(1) OKORAFOR RECRUITED TO INTERPLANETARY INITIATIVE. Nnedi Okorafor will join the faculty at Arizona State University:

I’ve just accepted an appointment at Arizona State University as a Professor of Practice as part of the Interplanetary Initiative and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. I’m a professor again! This time, on MY terms and in a way that accommodates and compliments my heavy and active life as a published author and screenwriter (I won’t be teaching classes, but I will show up in some).

A small fact that makes me smile: They based my contract on those of an astronaut and a senator who hold the same type of position at the university.

The Interplanetary Initiative webpage says it “is a leading space center, creating private-public partnerships and driving our positive human space future for exploration by finding the key needs and filling them with interdisciplinary teams.”  

(2) DINING ON ANOTHER PLANET. Esquire tells the “Planet Hollywood Origin Story – How Bruce Willis, Sylvester Stallone and More Celebs Started Planet Hollywood”.

…This was opening night of the Planet Hollywood on Rodeo Drive. Every celebrity you could imagine was there. It was the hottest ticket in town. ABC aired a special event, Planet Hollywood Comes Home. The cops shut down the street. All this for a chain restaurant that served chicken coated in Cap’n Crunch. And not just a chain restaurant but a theme restaurant. A Rainforest Cafe with celebrities. It seems unfathomable now that stars would go along with this.

But they appeared to be having a ball. For a few years in the nineties, these stars dropped any pretense of hauteur, while everyone else succumbed to their love of celebrity by paying ten dollars to eat a burger under the Terminator’s leather jacket. Cheesy? Yes. A massive—but fleeting—success unlike anything before it? A resounding yes.

By the start of the next decade, the enterprise would collapse, falling into bankruptcy twice, and the bold-faced names who reveled there would begin to walk away. Today, there’s a tendency among the stars involved to be overcome with sudden amnesia. It seems they’d rather we all just forget about the whole thing.

…They needed an action star, someone with appeal in the U. S. and overseas, so they started with a moon shot: Arnold Schwarzenegger, whom Barish had worked with on The Running Man. It didn’t get much bigger than Schwarzenegger in the late eighties, early nineties. He was hot off The Terminator and Total Recall. On Valentine’s Day, after the actor wrapped a scene for Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Barish told him about the plan for a Hollywood restaurant. He accepted immediately. Barish left the set with his first star locked in as Schwarzenegger’s family arrived with Valentine’s Day balloons for him…

…Todd went to the studios to ask for donations—some would only lend items, demanding the right to get them back whenever they wanted. And he bought items that went up for auction, bidding against private collectors. He dug around in musty attics, damp garages, secondhand shops. He found the ships from Ben-Hur in the middle of a Nebraska cornfield. The ax Jack Nicholson wielded in The Shining, still caked in fake blood, was buried in the back of the garden shed of a guy who worked on the film.

“We asked what he wanted for it,” Todd told the Los Angeles Times in 1995, “and he said, ‘Well, I’ll need another ax.’ That was an easy deal.”…

(3) STRACZYNSKI’S NEW COMICS. You can’t read his mind but you can read his comics. J. Michael Straczynski told Facebook readers about his upcoming project:

“When are you going to tell another story about telepaths?” I’ve been asked at conventions over the years. (The second most frequent question I get asked is, “Where is the restroom?”) Having explored the subject area a fair bit in both #Babylon5 and #Sense8, it’s something I have a great interest in given all of the societal implications.

I waited until I had a story worth telling, one that would let me dive deep into the subject matter…which became TELEPATHS, a new 6 issue comic miniseries from AWA. Details and sample art by the amazing Steve Epting can be found at the link below.

SYFY Wire has some of the art: “J. Michael Straczynski shares a first look at his new comic series ‘Telepaths’”.

…“I’ve always been fascinated by questions of privacy and what defines the self,” he continues. “And the fact that so often we are defined by our secrets, by the things that we don’t tell anyone and what happens when suddenly all of that is out in the open and there’s nowhere to hide. That to me is the most interesting part. And I started thinking about this for a long, long time. I thought I have more things to say about this. I want to get it out in another story.”

This led to Telepaths, a book that is very much an ensemble that includes police officers, White House staff members, MIT professors, and even convicted murderers. Everyone has their secrets they are hiding, but once the incident happens, many of those secrets are no longer kept hidden. “That’s a larger application of this story is, maybe you’re having an affair and your partner has that power, so that person’s going to know,” he explains. “There’s no such thing as having a secret life or dreams or goals or ambitions. It’s all going to be on display.”

(4) CENSORSHIP HITS HONG KONG CINEMA. “China’s Censorship Widens to Hong Kong’s Vaunted Film Industry, With Global Implications” reports the New York Times.

…The city’s [Hong Kong’s] government on Friday said it would begin blocking the distribution of films that are deemed to undermine national security, marking the official arrival of mainland Chinese-style censorship in one of Asia’s most celebrated filmmaking hubs.

The new guidelines, which apply to both domestically produced and foreign films, come as a sharp slap to the artistic spirit of Hong Kong, where government-protected freedoms of expression and an irreverent local culture had imbued the city with a cultural vibrancy that set it apart from mainland megacities.

…The updated rules announced Friday require Hong Kong censors considering a film for distribution to look out not only for violent, sexual and vulgar content, but also for how the film portrays acts “which may amount to an offense endangering national security.”

Anything that is “objectively and reasonably capable of being perceived as endorsing, supporting, promoting, glorifying, encouraging or inciting” such acts is potential grounds for deeming a film unfit for exhibition, the rules now say.

The new rules do not limit the scope of a censor’s verdict to a film’s content alone.

“When considering the effect of the film as a whole and its likely effect on the persons likely to view the film,” the guidelines say, “the censor should have regard to the duties to prevent and suppress act or activity endangering national security.”

(5) PUBLISHER TAKES CAPTAIN JACK COMIC OFF WEBSITE. Radio Times reports more consequences of the Barrowman allegations: “Doctor Who graphic novel centred around Captain Jack Harkness on hold”.

Plans for a Doctor Who graphic novel centring around Captain Jack Harkness are on hold following allegations that John Barrowman had frequently exposed himself on the sets of Doctor Who and Torchwood.

All mentions of the graphic novel, referred to as ‘Doctor Who 2021 Event’, have been removed from the Penguin Random House website.

The now-deleted synopsis for the novel revealed that the story tied-in “directly with episode two of the hotly-anticipated series 13,” suggesting Barrowman may have filmed scenes for the upcoming 13th series….

(6) GET ACQUAINTED WITH WINNIPEG BIDDERS. The Winnipeg in ’23 Worldcon bidders got me this last night:

Join the “Winnipeg in ‘23” Worldcon bid committee movers and shakers at one of our Zoom socials, where you can hear the latest news, ask questions, and get to know our crew better. We’re dedicated to bringing you an absolutely stellar 81st World Science Fiction Convention in 2023. Winnipeg has lots of cool plans in the works, which we’d love to share with you! Sign up links and more information are here.

We will also stream our socials to our YouTube channel here.

Sign up here for June 12 at 8:00pm CDT

Sign up here for June 13 at 1:00pm CDT

(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • June 12, 1987 — On this date in 1987, Predator premiered. The first in the franchise, it was directed by John McTiernan and written by Jim and John Thomas. It was produced by Lawrence Gordon, Joel Silver and John Davis.  As you know, it starred Arnold Schwarzenegger and Carl Weathers. There would be four Predator films including one currently in production plus three Alien cross-over films as well. With the exception of Roger Ebert, critics generally hated it which didn’t stop it from being very successful at the box office. Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it an eighty-eight percent rating. 

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born June 12, 1856 – Georges Le Faure.  Among a dozen popular swashbuckling novels, War Under Water against Germany; The Extraordinary Adventures of a Russian Scientist (with Henry de Graffigny, 4 vols.; tr. in 2 vols. 2009) with an explosive that could destroy the world, a Space-ship faster than light, visits to other planets, aliens.  Verne was first but not alone.  (Died 1953) [JH]
  • Born June 12, 1921 – James Houston.  Canadian Volunteer Service Medal in World War II.  Drew and painted in the Eastern Arctic; civil administrator of western Baffin Island.  Brought Inuit carvings to Montreal, where Canadian Handicrafts Guild held autumn sales with queues stretching out the door and down the block; introduced printmaking to the Inuit with similar success.  Master designer for Steuben Glass.  Thirty books for children & adults, some ours.  Producer & director of documentaries.  Four honorary doctorates.  Inuit Kuavati Award, Metcalf Award (twice), Massey Medal.  Acrylic & aluminium – I said he was Canadian – sculpture Aurora Borealis 70 ft (20 m) high at Glenbow Museum, Calgary.  Memoirs, Confessions of an Igloo Dweller and Zigzag.  See here.  (Died 2005) [JH]
  • Born June 12, 1924 — Frank Kelly. All of his short fiction was written in the Thirties for Astounding Science Fiction and Wonder Stories. The stories remained uncollected until they were published as Starship Invincible: Science Fiction Stories of the 30s. He continues to be remembered in Fandom and was inducted into the First Fandom Hall of Fame in 1996. Starship Invincible is not available in digital form. (Died 2010.) (CE)
  • Born June 12, 1927 — Henry Slesar. He had but one genre novel,Twenty Million Miles to Earth, but starting in the Fifties and for nearly a half century, he would write one hundred sixty short stories of a genre nature, with his first short story, “The Brat” being published in Imaginative Tales in September 1955.  He also wrote scripts for television — CBS Radio Mystery Theater (which, yes, did SF), Tales Of The Unexpected, the revival version of the Twilight ZoneBatmanThe Man from U.N.C.L.E., and genre adjacent, lots of scripts for series Alfred Hitchcock did. (Died 2002.) (CE) 
  • Born June 12, 1930 — Jim Nabors. Fum on The Lost Saucer, a mid sixties series that lasted sixteen episodes about two friendly time-travelling androids from the year 2369 named Fi (Ruth Buzzi) and Fum (Jim Nabors) who land their UFO on Earth. (Died 2017.) (CE) 
  • Born June 12, 1940 — Mary A. Turzillo, 81. She won the Nebula Award for Best Novelette for her “Mars is No Place for Children” story, published first in Science Fiction Age. Her first novel, An Old Fashioned Martian Girl was serialized in Analog, and a revised version, Mars Girls was later released. Her first collection to polish her SWJ creds is named Your cat & other space aliens. Mars Girls which I highly recommend is available from the usual digital suspects. (CE)
  • Born June 12, 1946 – Sue Anderson.  Fannish musicals with Mark Keller, performed at 1970s Boskones: RivetsRivets ReduxMik Ado about Nothing (i.e. alluding to both Gilbert & Sullivan, and Shakespeare), The Decomposers. George Flynn, Anne McCaffrey, Elliot Shorter are gone, but Chip Hitchcock was in some or all and may yet explain what really happened.  Three short stories (one posthumously in Dark Horizons 50); this cover with Stevan Arnold for Vertex.  (Died 2004) [JH]
  • Born June 12, 1948 — Len Wein. Writer and editor best known for co-creating (with Bernie Wrightson) Swamp Thing and co-creating Wolverine (with Roy Thomas and John Romita Sr.) and for helping revive the X-Men. He edited Watchmen which must have been interesting dealing with Alan Moore on that. He’s a member of the Will Eisner Award Hall of Fame. (Died 2017.) (CE)
  • Born June 12, 1953 — Tess Gerritsen, 68. ISFDB lists her as genre so I’ll include her even though I’m ambivalent on her being so.  They’ve got one novel from the Jane Rizzoli series, The Mephisto Club, and three stand alone novels (GravityPlaying with Fire and The Bone Garden). All save Gravity couldbe considered conventional thrillers devoid of genre elements. (CE) 
  • Born June 12, 1963 – Franz Miklis, age 58.  Austrian artist active for decades in fanart (see here and here) and otherwise (see here and here).  Edited Galacto-Celtic Newsflash.  A hundred covers, three hundred interiors for e.g. Future Magic, LoneStarCon 3 the 71st Worldcon, Jupiter JumpThe Nat’l Fantasy FanOpuntiaVisions of Paradise.  Artbooks Vance World (part 1, paintings; part 2, crystal cities & flying palaces); Behind the Event Horizon.  Website here.  [JH]
  • Born June 12, 1964 — Dave Stone, 57. Writer of media tie-ins, including quite a few in the Doctor Who universe which contains the Professor Bernice Summerfield stories, and Judge Dredd as well. He has only the Pandora Delbane series ongoing plus the Golgotha Run novel, and a handful of short fiction. (CE)
  • Born June 12, 1970 – Claudia Gray, age 51. A score of novels, a few shorter stories.  Website here (“Bianca, Tess, Nadia, Skye, Marguerite, and Noemi aren’t that much like me.  For example, they all have better hair”; also “Read as much as you can….  Read the stuff you love.  Read the stuff you never thought you’d love”).  [JH]
  • Born June 12, 1985 – Madeleine Roux, age 36. A dozen novels (some NY Times Best-Sellers), half a dozen shorter stories.  Fiction Weblogs (for some of us, blog is a drinkAllison Hewitt Is TrappedSadie Walker Is Stranded.  Has read Pride & PrejudiceFrankensteinLolitaThe Adventures of Huckleberry FinnOne Hundred Years of SolitudeSlaughterhouse-Five.  [JH]

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • Lio enjoys a practical joke on Dracula.
  • Non Sequitur has a heap of dino humor.

(10) FABLES TO CONTINUE. DC Comics announced that Bill Willingham’s Fables series will resume in September with Batman vs. Bigby! A Wolf in Gotham: “Fables Returns!”

…“I’ve wanted to do this since the very first year of Fables,” says writer Bill Willingham. “Why? Because Batman is a detective, and Bigby is a detective, and I love a well-crafted story crossing over characters from two different fictional worlds. It’s automatically a fish-out-of-water story for at least one of the main characters, and that sort of story always works. Plus, I knew from the very beginning of Fables that my fictional universe would allow for many ways to get Bigby Wolf into the DCU and Gotham City. Even though those cosmic story structures wouldn’t be introduced in the Fables books for a year or more, they were baked in from the very beginning.”

Then, on sale the first week of May 2022, the main story line continues with Fables #151—just in time for the 20th anniversary of Fables #1. Fables #151 is the first installment of “The Black Forest,” a 12-issue arc that picks up where the story left off in Fables #150, and is also a perfect jumping-on point for new readers. The series also reunites the core creative team, with pencils by Mark Buckingham, inks by Steve Leialoha, colors by Lee Loughridge, and letters by Todd Klein….

(11) WANTED TO GROW UP TO BE RUMPOLE. The author of the Phryne Fisher series tells CrimeReads about her days practicing law: “Kerry Greenwood’s Life In Crime”.

…My practice was far more colorful than most. Rumpole never prosecutes, and neither did Greenwood. I worked for the Legal Aid Commission and gave free advice and legal representation to anyone who needed it. Because appearing in court seemed to me the most important thing I could do with my life, I volunteered. I didn’t want to sit in a cosy office anyway. I wanted to be doing Rumpole things, and be an advocate for those who had no voice of their own. At the height of my career I was appearing in three different courts every week. ‘Anyone for Legal Aid?’ I would ask. Oh yes. Word got around about me. As my writing career blossomed I reduced my hours. By the end I was paid for five hours a week (around $A130), and for this trifling sum I would represent my twenty-odd clients in court and out of it; and stagger home knowing that whatever I was doing this for, it certainly wasn’t for the money….

(12) SAIL, HO. The Guardian comments on prospects for another film based on the work of Patrick O’Brian: “Avast and furious: will it be a triumphant return for Master and Commander?” Not sff, but didn’t you want to know?

If the 2003 naval epic Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World teaches us anything about life on a 19th-century British frigate, it is that even the most prolonged period of deck-scrubbing doldrums can suddenly erupt into thrilling action. Long-standing admirers of Peter Weir’s film experienced a similar adrenaline jolt this past weekend when news broke that the long-becalmed franchise based on Patrick O’Brian’s swashbuckling novel series was preparing to sail on to the big screen again. Ship just got real.

Patrick Ness, the author and screenwriter tasked with creating this new adaptation, confirmed his involvement by posting a bookshelf on Instagram of cherished O’Brian volumes. “This is a cache of riches,” he wrote, “with so much left to be explored.”… 

(13) SHUTE IN COMICS. Clark J. Holloway has posted some installments of the On The Beach graphic adaptation on his website.

I first read Nevil Shute’s best-selling 1957 cautionary novel of nuclear holocaust when I was in my early teens. It scared the bejabbers out of me. Sometime later I saw the 1959 movie with Gregory Peck, Ava Gardner, and Fred Astaire on late-night TV, and whatever bejabbers that may have been left in me fled to join their departed comrades. The story had a powerful impact on my young mind. However, as the years rolled by and the Cold War wound down the fear of imminent nuclear destruction faded from my mind and On the Beach became little more than a distant memory.

…In searching the Internet for reviews of Shute’s 1957 novel and the 1959 film I found that a closed-end comic strip adaptation of the novel had run in a number of the nation’s newspapers beginning on November 4, 1957. The story has been condensed down so that it could be told in five weeks worth of daily installments, excluding Sundays, and was drawn by cartoonist Ralph Lane. Since reprints of the comic are apparently rather rare, I’ve posted copies of them found on newspapers.com. Following the story are some examples of beautifully drawn original art from the strip that I’ve been able to acquire for my collection….

 (14) WOULD YOU LIKE SOME SF IN YOUR POLITICS? [Item by Daniel Dern.] Daily Kos told how “Rep. Dan Crenshaw asks soldiers to report ‘wokeness’ in military ranks, is trolled into oblivion”.

…Continuing the Republican tradition of pretending at maximum manly toughness while thumping through life with shows of oddly weaponized gutlessness, it’s Texas Rep. Dan Crenshaw and Arkansaw’s Sen. Tom Cotton leading a new charge against Rampant Theoretical Wokeness in our nation’s tough manly military. Crenshaw announced it on Twitter with suitable turgidity: “We won’t let our military fall to woke ideology,” he puffed. The Crenshaw-Cotton response is a new “whistleblower webpage” where you can “submit your story” of being, um, exposed to Wokeness…. 

Twitter was flooded with reports. (You’ll probably have to click on the tweet to see the full text,)

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

Pixel Scroll 1/6/21 First There is A Mount-To-Be-Read, Then There Is No MTBR, Then There Is

(1) INSIDE THE HATCH. ‘”If the aliens lay eggs, how does that affect architecture?’: sci-fi writers on how they build their worlds”. Nest-designing tips from Alastair Reynolds, Nnedi Okorafor, Ann Leckie, Becky Chambers, Kim Stanley Robinson and M. John Harrison.

Nnedi Okorafor

Binti (2015), Akata Witch (2011), Who Fears Death (2010)

My stories tend to start with the characters. Then I look through their eyes (or however they “see”), minds, perspectives to observe the world. Typically this happens the moment the character exists. So I know the world not long after I know the characters. I walk through it, I smell the air, listen to the gossip, observe its insect world, hear its history through various perspectives, and so on … I experience it.

I don’t make notes initially or while writing – I find that distracting. And while writing, I can hold the world pretty fully in my mind … I tend to write first drafts swiftly and nonstop, putting it aside to cool only when it’s complete (which means it carries everything in it; it’s out of my head and on the page). I might draw maps, charts or diagrams while editing. My editing phase is much longer than the writing phase….

(2) THE MAN WITH THE POWER. Fabrice Mathieu, four years after “Darth by Darthwest,” returns with his wonderful “DARTH BY DARTHWEST Episode II”

Cary Grant is back in a new galactic adventure! This time, he is their only hope! When Alfred Hitchcock meets George Lucas…

(3) CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS. Chuck Serface and Christopher J. Garcia are working on an issue of The Drink Tank dedicated to cults and new religious movements, and they want material to suit the theme:

We’re looking for related articles, fiction, poetry, personal essays, artwork, and photography.  We’re open to explorations of cults and new religious movements, cults and new religious movements in genre fiction and comics . . . you get the idea.  The deadline for submissions is Monday January 25, 2021. We’ll have the issue out shortly thereafter.  Please send your contributions or your questions to either Chris at johnnyeponymous@gmail.com or to Chuck at ceserface@gmail.com.

(4) KEEP THOSE CLICKS COMING. The rumored departure of Jodie Whittaker gives pop culture pundits something to chew on. At Radio Times, Huw Fullerton argues it’s too early for her to go:  “Jodie Whittaker leaving Doctor Who? Why the 13th Doctor should stay”.

… Whether these reports are true or not is currently unclear – the BBC has declined to comment on what it describes as “speculation” about Whittaker’s future in the show, which isn’t a firm denial – but if they are borne out by the facts, I have to confess I’m disappointed.

Because really, it still feels like Whittaker is just getting started. After two series and an awful lot of adventures, I’m still looking and waiting for her quintessential “Doctor” moment, the scene that will define her period in the role and be looked back on by fans with fond nostalgia….

Fullerton also devotes his podcast to the topic here.

(5) THE FACE OF POE. Joe R. Lansdale credits Edgar Allan Poe as his “Dark Inspiration” in 2009 article from The Texas Observer. (It’s news to me!)

I can’t think about Edgar Allan Poe without thinking about my life, because he was there in dark spirit, in my room and in my head. He was out there in the shadows of the East Texas pines, roaming along the creeks and the Sabine River, a friendly specter with gothic tales to tell. It was a perfect place for him. East Texas. It’s the part of Texas that is behind the pine curtain, down here in the damp dark. It’s Poe country, hands down.

These thoughts were in my mind as I toured the Harry Ransom Center’s current exhibition, From Out That Shadow: The Life and Legacy of Edgar Allan Poe. The Center, at the University of Texas at Austin, is celebrating the bicentennial of Poe’s birth with an exhibition that includes original manuscripts and illustrations. Looking at these artifacts, it occurred to me that Poe reached out from the grave and saved this East Texan from the aluminum chair factory. I know there are those who will say working in an aluminum chair factory is good honest work, and I’m going to agree. But I will say without hesitation and with no concern of insult that it damn sure wasn’t work of my choosing, and that it takes the skill of a trained raccoon and the I.Q. of a can of green beans, minus the label, to get it done….

(6) THESE MY JOINTS. That robot army you’re always reading about in sf? Might be getting closer. Army Times has the story: “Not quite the Terminator, but ‘muscle-bound’ robots are coming for the Army, Marines”.

Army researchers are looking to add muscle tissue to robot platforms, giving them “never before seen mobility and agility.”

The effort by scientists with the Army’s Combat Capabilities Development Command, Army Research Laboratory and Duke University and the University of North Carolina is looking first at adding muscle to legged robot joints rather than using actuators, according to an Army Research Laboratory statement….

While the early Army research makes no mention of cyborgs, scientists do note the advantages of muscle tissue as compared to robotics components currently in use.

(7) RELEASE THE BROKEN. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster, Designated Financial Times Reader.] In the December 30 Financial Times, gaming columnist Tom Faber uses the problems of Cyberpunk 2077 to explain why developers release so many bug-ridden games.

So why can’t a developer simply delay a game until it’s ready?  Release dates are rarely chosen by  the makers; instead they are imposed by marketing departments and shareholders, calibrated to avoid competitors, giving a game a fighting chance in a crowded market, or timed to tie in with a holiday season or new console.  Pushing back a game’s release can send costs spiralling as marketing needs to be replanned and other games in the pipeline are delayed as a consequence.  A game is a calculated economic risk, and if it flops, a studio can collapse.  Sometimes it makes more sense to release a bug-ridden game than to further delay it…

…The increasing prevalence of patching has incentivized the release of games before they are ready.  This has coincided with a demand for increasingly sophisticated games that developers are struggling to meet.  The result iis unrealistic production schedules and the controversial labor practice known as ‘crunch,’  where developers work six- or seven-day weeks and long hours on the run up to release.  This acceleration is unsustainable, and glitches are simply the external evidence of deeper problems in the industry.

(8) FAREWELL SALE. Offworld Designs owners Ray and Barb Van Tilburg say after 31 years of service to fandom they are retiring. They’re holding a big sale to move their inventory.

We appreciate all of our customers so much.  Whether we met at a Science Fiction, Gaming, Anime, Furry or Comic Con, you’ve been the people we wanted to work for and share this nerdy adventure with. 
 
After the horrible year we’ve all just lived through and the rolling disaster in Washington that’s unfolding while I write this, we need to unlock the value of our dragon’s hoard of inventory.  We were so busy we didn’t know the meaning of the word “scale” as the business grew, but still built something special with the help of family, friends and great employees from our little town of Sandwich, Illinois. 
 
We’ve marked everything down by 50% with nothing held back, including convention souvenirs from our wonderful licensors. 
 
What does this mean in the short term?  Well, we still have staff and equipment to print or embroider for you while we work through this process but we’re not adding new designs to our huge inventory.  Let us know how we can be of service and if we can do it sooner as opposed to later, we’ll be there for you.   

We are open to a sale of the business if you know someone, but it’s time to get moving toward whatever is waiting for us in 2021 and beyond.

(9) LARKIN OBIT. David Larkin has died at the age of 84. Art director for Granada Publishing, Pan, Panther, and had his own imprint. The Guardian’s obituary was written by his brother, Colin.

In 1972 David was headhunted to join Pan Books and in 1980 he moved to the US, setting up David Larkin Books, often working in association with the US publisher Ian Ballantine. By then David had achieved major success with the Fantastic Art seriesFaeries, Giants, Shaker and countless coffee-table books including Barn, Mill, Farm and the Country Wisdom series. He regarded his final book, When Art Worked, as his finest work.

Married Sabra Elliot, who survives him.

(10) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • January 6, 1975 –In the United Kingdom, The Changes was first broadcast on the BBC. It was a ten-part series adapting Peter Dickinson’s trilogy of The WeathermongerHeartsease and The Devil’s Children. It was adapted by Anna Home and directed by John Prowse. It starred Victoria Williams, Keith Ashton, David Garfield, Rafiq Anwar,  Zuleika Robson and  Raghbir Brar. Though written as a children’s series, its themes caused considerable controversy. 

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born January 6, 1832 – Gustave Doré.  Illustrated Dante’s Divine Comedy, Milton’s Paradise LostMother Goose, Poe’s “Raven”Puss in Boots, Rabelais’ Gargantua and Pantagruel, Shakespeare’s Tempest, and much more outside our field or at our border (is Tennyson’s Idylls of the King – about Arthur – fantasy? what about Cervantes’ Don Quixote?).  Famous in his day as a painter, maybe even greater with engravings and woodcuts. Here is Cinderella.  This is from History of Holy Russia – it’s a dream, so is it fantasy?  Here is a vision of Paradise.  Also sculpture, watercolor, and in fact pioneering comic strips.  (Died 1883) [JH]
  • Born January 6, 1895 Tom Fadden. He’s on the Birthday Honors List for the original  Invasion of the Body Snatchers where his character was one of the first victims to yield to the invaders.  It wasn’t his first SFF role as some thirty years before that role, he would make his Broadway debut as Peter Jekyll in The Wonderful Visit based off the novel of the same name by H. G. Wells, who also co-wrote the play.  The last note of his that I’ll not was that one of his first television roles was Eben Kent, the man who adopts Kal-El on the first episode of The Adventures of Superman series. (Died 1980.) (CE) 
  • Born January 6, 1905 Eric Frank Russell. He won the first Hugo Award for Best Short Story at Clevention in 1955 for “Allamagoosa” first published in the May 1955 issue of Astounding Science FictionSinister Barrier, his first novel, appeared in Unknown in 1939, the first novel to appear there. Much of his work has not made to the digital realm yet. What’s you favorite work by him? (Died 1978.) (CE) 
  • Born January 6, 1941 – Joni Stopa.  Fanwriter since the 1950s – teens can do things.  Helped Bjo (there should be a circumflex over the j, an Esperantism indicating pronunciation “bee-joe”) Trimble invent SF con Art Shows.  Married Jon Stopa, went to live at his family’s ski lodge in Wilmot, Wisconsin.  Mother Joni’s Jams and Jellies raised money for TAFF and DUFF.   Co-founded Windycon; Fan Guest of Honor at Windycon II.   Fine Masquerade entries (our costume competition) with Jon; ran the Masquerade at Chicon IV the 40th Worldcon; she & Jon Fan GoH at Chicon V the 49th.  Three remembrances of her.  (Died 1996) [JH]
  • Born January 6, 1947 – Bob Vardeman, age 74.  Active fan and pro.  Seventy novels (some with co-authors), fifty shorter stories.  Helped found Albuqurque SF Society and Bubonicon where he has often been Toastmaster (no documentation that he ever said “Tackett, you’re toast!”); elsewhere too.  Guest of Honor at AggieCon IV, CopperCon 8, ChattaCon XV.  [JH]
  • Born January 6, 1955 Rowan Atkinson, 64. An unlikely Birthday perhaps except for that he was the lead in Doctor Who and The Curse of Fatal Death which I know did not give him the dubious distinction of the shortest lived Doctor as that goes another actor though who I’ve not a clue.  Other genre appearances were scant I think (clause inserted for the nit pickers here) though he did play Nigel Small-Fawcett in Never Say Never Again and Mr. Stringer in The Witches which I really like even if the author hates.  (CE) 
  • Born January 6, 1959 – Ahrvid Engholm, age 62.  Early winner of the Appeltofft Award.  Two collections in English of Swedish fanwriting (note his initials at lower left; he drew this cover).  Co-founded Baltcon.  Interviewed the Strugatsky brothers for Yellow Submarine.  [JH]
  • Born January 6, 1960 Andrea Thompson, 62. I’ll not mention her memorable scene on Arli$$ as it’s not genre though it was worth seeing.  Her best genre work was as the telepath Talia Winters on Babylon 5. Her first genre role was in Nightmare Weekend which I’ll say was definitely a schlock film. Next up was playing a monster in the short lived Monsters anthology series. She had an one-off on Quantum Leap before landing the Talia Winters gig. Then came Captain Simian & The Space Monkeys. Really. Truly. Her last genre role to date appears to be in the Heroes: Destiny web series. (CE) 
  • Born January 6, 1969 Aron Eisenberg. Nog on Deep Space 9. Way after DS9, he’d show up in Renegades, a would-be Trek series loaded with Trek alumni including Nichelle Nichols, Robert Beltran,  Walter Koenig and Terry Farrell. It lasted two episodes. Born with only one partially functioning kidney, he died of kidney failure way too young. (Died 2019.) (CE)
  • Born January 6, 1974 – Ashley Barnard, age 47.  Four novels for us; three others, one about Byron.  Cast of Illusions is a Shakespearean fantasy (it’s not fair for me to quote “Jonathan Wilder…. preferred dying by the sword, as smothering and choking usually occurred when he was a woman”; that part – I warned you about these puns – is in 16th Century theater).  Has read The MonkThe Scarlet Pimpernel, two by Hardy, two by Willkie Collins, five by Austen, six by Dickens.  [JH]
  • Born January 6, 1976 Guy Adams, 45. If you’ve listened to a Big Finish audio-work, it’s likely that you are familiar with his writing as he’s done scripts for their DoctorUNIT and Torchwood series among his many endeavors there. Not surprisingly, he’s also written novels on Doctor Who, Torchwood, Sherlock Holmes and so forth. I’ve read some of his Torchwood novels — they’re good popcorn corn literature. (CE) 
  • Born January 6, 1983 – Rachel Cotterill, Ph.D., age 38.  Four novels.  Runs.  Bakes tofu in spicy baharat marinade.  Has read Harriet the Invincible hello Wombat, The Picture of Dorian Gray, and I can’t tell whose edition of the Dhammapada.  [JH]

(12) IS THE FATE OF DC COMICS IN THE BALANCE? AT&T’s balance sheet, that is. Publishers Weekly looks in as “DC Comics Leaves Its Legacy Behind”.

The world’s #2 superhero comics publisher is undergoing a stress test. DC Comics, the venerable publisher of Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Watchmen, and dozens of other celebrated superhero characters, looks to be caught in the corporate restructuring taking place at its parent company, AT&T, along with other divisions of WarnerMedia, which the telecom giant acquired in 2019. After several rounds of layoffs and controversial business decisions, comics fans, comics professionals, and retailers are speculating whether DC, or its parent company, will choose to abandon comics publishing or the comics shop market entirely….

AT&T can’t afford to be concerned with DC’s legacy, no matter what it represents to the U.S. comics market. The company took on an even heavier debt load following the WarnerMedia acquisition, and has much bigger problems, including the controversial move to shift all of WarnerMedia subsidiary Warner Bros.’s 2021 theatrical film releases to streaming in an effort to keep the newly launched HBO Max service alive in a streaming-media war it appears to be losing badly to Disney+.

At the moment, DC’s value seems to be as a licensor of some very famous comics characters and logos that serve as the flagship of a popular consumer brand. That DC also publishes print comics that sell reasonably well in comics stores and the mass market (Walmart, Target), in addition to a strong and growing trade book program, is a bonus. The past, as far as AT&T may be concerned, is history. And that’s too bad, because to a lot of longtime fans, the past is what makes DC, DC.

(13) BOFFO B.O. In the Washington Post, Peter Marks reviews Ratatouille:  The Tik Tok Musical, which premiered Friday online as a benefit for the Actors Fund, which says the show raised $1 million on opening night.  The show has a professional cast and 51 minutes of songs, or half as many as would appear in a full production.  Marks credits Hartsdale, New York teacher Emily Jacobsen as being the inspiration for this project. “’Ratatouille: The TikTok Musical’ debuts online”.

… Let’s acknowledge the affirmative circumstances of this virtual performance, which also offers up the talents of Wayne Brady, Ashley Park, Adam Lambert, Andrew Barth Feldman and André De Shields as Anton Ego, the restaurant critic whose effete heart Remy melts. It augurs the arrival, in the midst of a fraught time for theater and other performing arts, of a bona fide new musical. Even more remarkable — as its title suggests — is that it came together via TikTok, the digital platform on which users create videos of up to a minute….

(14) JEOPARDY! Faithful Jeopardy! viewer Andrew Porter saw the contestants hit another stumbling block tonight —

Final Jeopardy: Blockbuster Movies

Answer: Released in 2017, this movie is the highest-grossing film in the U.S. that’s set during WorldWar I.

All three contestants got it wrong, asking, “What is 1917?” and “What is Dunkirk?”

The correct question: “What is Wonder Woman?”

(15) THEIR WORDS REMAIN. James Davis Nicoll shares memories of “Five Books by Authors We Lost in 2020” at Tor.com. His first book is by Ben Bova.

It is a regrettable fact that authors are mortal. This year has seen at least sixty SFF-related authors, artists, and editors die, some of natural causes, some due to the ongoing pandemic. Here are five books of interest by five different authors we lost in the last few months….

(16) BIOGRAPHY OF AN ICON. Jeff Foust reviews a new memoir about Stephen Hawking for The Space Review: “Review: Stephen Hawking: A Memoir of Friendship and Physics”.

It’s been nearly three years since Stephen Hawking passed away. At the time of his death in 2018, Hawking had been for decades one of the most famous scientists in the world, even though few people understood his research in topics such as black holes and cosmology. He was, in many respects, a cultural figure, revered for his intelligence and his achievements in spite of the physical limitations imposed by amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

Lost in those recollections is the fact that Hawking was not just a scientist, or a pop culture representation of one, but also a human being with a personality, a person with desires and pet peeves and passions. That aspect of Hawking is illustrated in Stephen Hawking: A Memoir of Friendship and Physics by Leonard Mlodinow, a physicist who worked closely with Hawking for years.

(17) NEED NEW CABIN IN THE SKY. In the Washington Post, Christian Davenport surveys what private space companies want to do to replace the aging International Space Station, with Blue Origin, Sierra Nevada, and Axiom Space all having their own alternatives. “The International Space Station can’t stay up there forever. Will privately run, commercial replacements be ready in time?”

… While NASA and the private sector work toward developing commercial habitats, China is building its own space station that it hopes to launch within a couple of years and is recruiting countries around the world as partners. The United States would not be one of them, however, since NASA is effectively barred by law from partnering with China in space.

“I think it would be a tragedy if, after all of this time and all of this effort, we were to abandon low Earth orbit and cede that territory,” NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine told a Senate panel earlier this year.

The ISS still does have some good years left, officials said. “We’re good from an engineering standpoint,” Joel Montalbano, NASA’s space station program manager, said in an interview. “We’re cleared through 2028.”

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. On Jimmy Kimmel Live, Elizabeth Olsen talks being in London during the lockdown, celebrating New Year’s Eve abroad, an exclusive never-before-seen clip from Marvel’s WandaVision premiering on Disney+ January 15th, and she reacts to online fan theories about the show. The discussion of WandaVision starts around the 3:00 mark, the clip rolls around 4:25.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John Hertz, Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, Chuck Serface, Stephen H Silver, StephenfromOttawa, and Daniel Dern for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel “En Fuego” Dern.]

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