Pixel Scroll 4/9/24 Ebenezer Scroll! Tonight You Will Be Visited By Five Pixels (Three, My Lord!)

(1) IMAGINE THERE’S NO MUSIC. “59 Years Later, The Oldest Sci-Fi Show Ever Is Fixing A Very Big Beatles Problem”Inverse tries to guess how Russell T. Davis will do it in a Fab Four-themed Doctor Who episode — because he can’t afford the rights to the real thing.

…In the upcoming relaunched Doctor Who Season 1 (2024), the Doctor (Ncuti Gatwa) and Ruby Sunday (Millie Gibson) will travel to the 1960s in the forthcoming episode “The Devil’s Chord,” and, at some point, cross paths with the Beatles….

… As Russell T. Davies says in the new Empire interview: “‘How would you do a Beatles episode without Beatles music?” Previous movies about the Beatles have faced similar problems. The 1994 biopic Backbeat — which chronicles the Beatles’ early days in Hamburg — features no actual Beatles music. Meanwhile, the 1979 movie Birth of the Beatles (helmed by Return of the Jedi director Richard Marquand!) used cover versions of most Beatles songs to avoid copyright issues of the time.

But, for Davies and Doctor Who, the copyright law problem became “the entire plot.” As Davies says, “I knew instantly you can never play Beatles songs on screen because the copyright is too expensive… That’s where the idea came from — copyright law!”

Could this mean the Doctor and Ruby will inspire alternate Beatles songs? Could the Beatles be getting by with a little help from their time-traveler friends? We don’t know the exact plot of “The Devil’s Chord,” but there’s a good bet that the Doctor will almost certainly inspire a classic Beatles song. We’ll just have to read between the lines to figure out which one.

(2) CAROL SHIELDS PRIZE FINALISTS. The Carol Shields Prize shortlist has been revealed. The award recognizes “creativity and excellence in fiction by women and non-binary writers in Canada and the United States”.

One of the finalists is a work of genre interest.

  • Birnam Wood by Eleanor Catton

In this eco-thriller, a guerilla gardening collective named ‘Birnam Wood’ (after Macbeth) meets an American billionaire. In his review for WHYY’s Fresh Air, John Powers writes, “this New Zealand-set book is a witty literary thriller about the collision between eco-idealism and staggering wealth.”

The other shortlisted books are:

  • Daughter by Claudia Dey
  • Coleman Hill by Kim Coleman Foote
  • A History of Burning by Janika Oza
  • Brotherless Night by V. V. Ganeshananthan

The winner gets $150,000 and a residency with Fogo Island Inn in Newfoundland, Canada. Each of the four runner-ups will get $12,500. The prize-winner will be announced May 13.

(3) INTERNATIONAL BOOKER PRIZE SHORTLIST. Based on the descriptions of the works at the website, there are no books of genre interest among the 6 that made the International Booker Prize 2024 shortlist today.

(4) 2023’S MOST-CHALLENGED BOOKS. From the American Library Association: “ALA Releases Top 10 Most Challenged Books of 2023”. Publishers Weekly has the list. Based on the descriptions, none are sff works.

The Most Challenged Books of 2023

  1. Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe, for LGBTQIA+, and sexually explicit content.
  2. All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson, for LGBTQIA+ and sexually explicit content.
  3. This Book Is Gay by Juno Dawson, for LGBTQIA+ and sexually explicit content.
  4. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, for LGBTQIA+, and sexually explicit content, rape, drugs, profanity.
  5. Flamer by Mike Curato, for LGBTQIA+ and sexually explicit content.
  6. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison, for rape, incest, sexually explicit and EDI (equity, diversity, inclusion) content.
  7. (Tie) Tricks by Ellen Hopkins, for LGBTQIA+ and sexually explicit content.
  8. (Tie) Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews, for sexually explicit content, profanity.
  9. Let’s Talk About It by Erika Moen and Matthew Nolan, for LGBTQIA+ and sexually explicit content.
  10. Sold by Patricia McCormick, for sexually explicit content, rape.

(5) IN-BODY EXPERIENCES. Logan Dreher discusses “Octavia Butler, Audre Lorde, and the Power of Pleasure” at Reactor.

…I’ve been especially interested in revisiting three of her strangest works—her vampire novel Fledging; “Bloodchild,”a short story about a colony of humans living alongside an insectoid race of aliens; and the Xenogenesis trilogy, which explores human’s post-apocalypse relationship with a bioengineering race of extraterrestrials called the Oankali. Across these stories, I see a recurring fascination with the reality of our bodies, our needs and frailties, and the way our bodily desires inextricably link us to each other.

In each of these stories, humans are less powerful than their nonhuman counterparts, whether that’s the tentacled, pheromone-exuding Oankali in Xenogenesis or the three-meter long, centipede-like Tlic in “Bloodchild.” But for all of their physical superiority, the nonhuman characters are desperately reliant on their relationships with humans. In Xenogenesis, the Oankali can exude chemicals that drug humans with a thought and heal with a touch. They manipulate their own genetic makeup and easily heal their own bullet wounds. Yet they depend on their human relationships in order to live. Oankali adolescents go into metamorphosis where they are comatose—profoundly helpless—and rely on their human partners to care for them. In Imago, the final book in the trilogy, a young Oankali begins to physically dissolve, unable to survive because it does not have human companions to ground it in a stable form. As the narrator notes, “We called our need for contact with others and our need for mates hunger. One who could hunger could starve.”….

(6) AFROANIMATION AWARDS NEWS. “AfroAnimation Summit Honors Kemp Powers, Camille Eden, Bruce Smith & Jermaine Turner”Animation Magazine introduces these icons and other awards finalists.

AfroAnimation, the largest annual event featuring diverse and BIPOC animators and creators, announced today the honorees for the first AfroAnimation Summit Icon Awards

…Icon Award honoree Kemp Powers, director of Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, will headline the summit’s kick-off panel April 10, ‘Developing Original Stories and the Art of Diverse Storytelling.’ Pioneer Award honoree Camille Eden, Vice President of Recruitment, Talent Development & Outreach at Nickelodeon, will speak on the April 11 panel, ‘Unveiling the Untold Narratives of Women in Entertainment: Triumphs, Challenges, & Journeys.’

In addition, Bruce Smith, creator and executive producer of Disney+’s The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder, and Jermaine Turner, Director of Adult Genre Animation for Netflix, will be honored as industry pioneers at the AfroAnimation Icon Awards….

FRWD Awards Semifinalists. (Celebrates the art of diverse storytelling in the film, new media, and streaming platform industries.)

  • Best Series: Castevania, The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder, Young Love, Scavengers Reign
  • Best Animation FeatureSpider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, Elemental, The Boy and the Heron, Craig Before the Creek
  • Best International SeriesKizazi Moto: Generation Fire, IwájúKiya & the Kimoja HeroesSupa Team 4
  • Best Animation Director: Kemp Powers (Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse)

(7) M. JOHN HARRISON MEMOIR. Saga Press will publish author M. John Harrison’s anti-memoir Wish I Was Here on September 3, 2024. 

What is an “anti-memoir”? M. John Harrison has produced one of the greatest bodies of fiction of any living British author, encompassing space opera, speculative fiction, fantasy, and magical and literary realism.  Yet in WISH I WAS HERE, he asks, ‘Is there even an M. John Harrison and if so, where do we find him?’ This is the question the author asks in this memoir-as-mystery, turning for clues to forty years of notebooking: ‘A note or it never happened. A note or you never looked.’

Are these notebooks records of failed presence? How do they shine a light on a childhood in the industrial Midlands, a portrait of a young artist in counterculture London, on an adulthood of restless escape into hill and moorland landscapes? And do they tell us anything about the writing of books, each one so different from the last that it might have been written by another version of the author?

With aphoristic daring and laconic wit, this anti-memoir will fascinate and delight. It confirms M. John Harrison still further in his status as the most original British writer of his generation.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born April 9, 1937 Marty Krofft. (Died 2023.)

H.R.Pufnstuf.
Who’s your friend when things get rough?
H.R. Pufnstuf.
Can’t do a little, ‘cause he can’t do enough

Who here didn’t grow up watching some of the shows created by the Krofft brothers? Well, this is the day that Marty Krofft was born, so I get to talk about their work. So let’s get started.

Their very first work was designing the puppets and sets for Banana Splits, a rock band composed of four animal characters for Hanna-Barbera.  To get a look at them, here’s the open and closing theme from the show.

After working for Hanna-Barbera, they went independent with the beloved H. R. Pufnstuf, their first live-action, life sized puppet series. It ran a lot shorter than I thought lasting only from September to December of ‘69. Like everything of theirs, it ended up in heavy, endless syndication.

Next was The Bugaloos. This was a musical group, very much in keeping with the tone with Banana Splits. It was four British teenagers wearing insect outfits, constantly beset by the evil machinations of the Benita Bizarre. Here’s the opening song, “Gna Gna Gna Gna Gna” courtesy of Krofft Pictures.

Lidsville, their next show lasted but seventeen episodes, and I’ve no idea if the short longevity of their series, all of them, was planned or due to poor ratings. This show had two types of characters: conventional actors in makeup taped alongside performers in full mascot costumes. It was mostly stop motion in its filming. 

Opening credits are here. The opening was produced at Six Flags Over Texas. The show was itself shot at Paramount Pictures film studio in Los Angeles.

Sigmund and the Sea Monsters lasted two seasons though it was aired over three years, the second delayed because a fire at the beginning of season two which destroyed everything. It’s about two brothers who discover a friendly young sea monster named Sigmund who refuses to frighten people. Poor Sigmund. This time you get a full episode as that is all Krofft Pictures had up, “Frankenstein Drops In”.

There’s two more series I want to note. 

The first is Land of the Lost which was created though uncredited in the series by David Gerrold. So anyone know why that was? It was produced by Sid and Marty Krofft who co-developed the series with Allan Foshko. Lots of genre tropes here. A family lost in a land with dinosaurs and reptile men? It was popular enough that it lasted three seasons. And here’s the opening and closing credits for season three.

The very last pick by me is Electra Woman and Dyna Girl which lasted but sixteen episodes of twelve minutes. Despite the ElectraEnemies, their foes here being way over the top, this is SF though admittedly on the pulp end of things. 

So they stayed active including doing rebooted versions of new versions of Electra Woman and Dyna GirlH.R. PufnstufLand of the Lost and Sigmund and the Sea Monsters

Marty Krofft passed on from kidney failure on November 25, 2023, at the age of eighty six. 

(9) COMICS SECTION.

(10) VASTER THAN EMPIRES, AND MORE EXPENSIVE. Francis Ford Coppola’s Megalopolis might be sff – which might matter more if the film can make it into theaters. Variety says it will premiere at Cannes. However, The Hollywood Reporter learned studios are not lining up to accept the film’s high-dollar marketing risk: “’Megalopolis’: Francis Ford Coppola’s Challenges in Distribution”.

…The project, which Coppola first began writing in 1983, cost a reported $120 million to make — funded in part by the sale of a significant portion of his wine empire (the 2021 deal was reportedly worth over $500 million). Clocking in at two hours and 15 minutes, the film follows the rebuilding of a metropolis after its accidental destruction, with two competing visions — one from an idealist architect (Adam Driver), the other from its pragmatist mayor (Giancarlo Esposito) — clashing in the process. References to ancient Rome — including Caesar haircuts on the men — abound…

… One source tells THR that Coppola assumed he would make a deal very quickly, and that a studio would happily commit to a massive P&A (prints and advertising, including all marketing) spend in the vicinity of $40 million domestically, and $80 million to $100 million globally.

That kind of big-stakes rollout would make Megalopolis a better fit for a studio-backed specialty label like the Disney-owned Searchlight or the Universal-owned Focus. But Universal and Focus have already tapped out of the bidding, sources tell THR…. 

(11) THANKS FOR YOUR GIZZARD. James Davis Nicoll comments on “Five Science Fiction Stories About Involuntary Organ Donation” at Reactor.

… Why should some teenager enjoy perfect skin, a pain-free back, and functional joints when persons of my age could make much better use of these body parts? Yet such are the politically correct times in which we live that simply proposing, never mind implementing, mandatory organ1 donations is considered somehow controversial.

Science fiction can see past the squeamishness of short-term social fashions to the glorious world we might have if we were willing to apply technology in a socially responsible—which is to say, one that benefits the people in charge—manner. Consider these five classic tales….

One of the selections is –

The Reefs of Space by Frederik Pohl and Jack Williamson (1964)

Reefs features an intriguing deep space ecology in no way inhibited by plausible science. The use of political prisoners as involuntary organ donors is much more plausible….

(12) SPACE COWBOYS READINGS. Space Cowboy Books will host an online Flash Science Fiction Night on April 23 with Howard V. Hendrix, Ai Jiang, and Hailey Piper. These short science fiction readings (1000 words or less) are great way to learn about new authors from around the world. Starts at 6:00 p.m. Pacific. Lasts around half an hour. Register for free at Eventbrite.

(13) TODAY’S THING TO WORRY ABOUT. “They Came From Outer Space. Now, They’re Going Into Hiding.” So says the New York Times.

If you’re looking for meteorites, here’s a tip: Go south. All the way south. And do it soon.

In some parts of Antarctica, there’s a good chance that what looks like a regular old rock could actually be a chunk of an asteroid, the moon, or even Mars. Roughly 60 percent of all known meteorites have been collected there.

But scientific sleuthing for such extraterrestrial material, which can shed light on how the solar system formed billions of years ago, will probably get more difficult in Antarctica in the coming decades. That’s because, as temperatures rise, thousands of meteorites will sink into the continent’s ice and disappear from sight every year, according to a new study published on Monday.

Antarctica’s meteorite largess isn’t because more extraterrestrial stuff is falling there, Cari Corrigan, a geologist at the Smithsonian Institution and a curator of the National Museum of Natural History’s meteorite collection, said.

Rather, meteorites simply tend to be more visible on the Antarctic ice sheet than they would be, say, in your backyard. “Your eye can pick out a dark rock on a white surface super easily,” said Dr. Corrigan, who was not involved in the new research….

(14) ON THE JOB. Here’s the trailer for “Monsters at Work: Season 2” with Ben Feldman, Billy Crystal, and John Goodman. The season premiered April 5 on Disney Channel, and on May 5 comes to Disney+.

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAN. [Item by Daniel Dern.] For the small Venn overlap who know both references: “Leslie Nielsen in Star Wars”.

[Thanks to Steven French, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Kathy Sullivan, Dann, Daniel Dern, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, and SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]

Pixel Scroll 3/20/24 He Will Know These Pixels As If Born To Them

(1) HE LIED. THANK GOODNESS! Former Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat is writing an episode due to air in Ncuti Gatwa’s first season as the Fifteenth Doctor: “Steven Moffat returns to write episode for new season of Doctor Who”.

….Speaking on his return to the Whoniverse, Steven Moffat says:

“Yes, okay, fair enough – apologies to everyone I’ve very slightly misled – I am in fact writing an episode of the series of Doctor Who. Exactly like I said I never would. What can I tell you? There was begging, there was pleading but finally Russell agreed to let me have another go – so long as I got out of his garden. Working with old friends and a brand new Doctor I couldn’t be happier. Sorry I was a bit reticent on the subject for so long. It was all part of an elaborate plan that would have delighted millions but at the last minute I forgot what it was.”

(2) OCTAVIA E. BUTLER SCIENCE FICTION FESTIVAL. The Pasadena middle school once attended by — and in 2022 renamed for — the author Octavia E. Butler will hold its third Science Fiction Festival on Friday reports LAist in“Student Sci-Fi”. (The event schedule is here: “Octavia E. Butler Library Science Fiction Festival 2024”.)

…The multi-award winning and best selling author graduated from what was then Washington Junior High in 1962 and wrote some of her earliest stories while a student.

School librarian Natalie Daily organized the Octavia E. Butler Magnet’s first science fiction writing contest in 2020, the same year the school’s library was renamed in her honor. The school itself was renamed two years later.

“I want [students] to realize that their ideas matter,” Daily said. “I think that Butler is a testament to that, you know, she was writing stuff and thinking about really, really deep ideas when she was a student here.”…

(3) KINGFISHER AND COMPANY. Sarah Gailey interviews the Tor team behind the publication and promotion of T. Kingfisher’s new book. “The Mess That the Editor Fixes: What Feasts at Night by T. Kingfisher” at Stone Soup.

T. Kingfisher has been one of my favorite horror authors since I read The Twisted Ones, one of the only novels that has ever made me scream out loud with genuine terror. In 2022, Kingfisher released the Locus Award-winning novella What Moves the Dead, an early entry into the now-thriving world of Fungal Gothic Literature. It’s a tale of declining wealth and reanimation (sort of), and it includes some fascinating worldbuilding conversations about social constructions of gender. I got to connect with Kingfisher and the production team at Tor to discuss the upcoming sequel to What Moves the Dead. What follows is a deep dive into the process behind What Feasts at Night….

Gailey: Okay, T. Kingfisher, tell us what you do.

T. Kingfisher, Author, What Feasts at Night: I write the mess that the editor fixes. I always say that my dream is to sit in a room and write and have people shove food and checks under the door, and Tor is like “Here is a sandwich and a check and we wrote a list of all the advertisements the book has appeared in on the napkin.” It’s basically the perfect relationship, so far as I’m concerned. Lindsey Hall, my editor, is an absolute champ!…

(4) XENOMORPHS ON THE LOOSE AGAIN. Variety interviews the director of the next Aliens movie in “’Alien: Romulus’ Trailer: Fede Alvarez Teases Facehuggers, Frights”.

…“Alien: Romulus” marks the seventh film in the “Alien” franchise, and the overall ninth involving acid-blooded xenomorphs, if you include the “Aliens vs. Predator” crossover films. Writer-director Álvarez is about to complicate its already convoluted timeline even further with “Romulus,” which premieres August 16. But the more important question is, will it be better than some of the more lackluster chapters in this ongoing saga — which there are probably more of than great ones?…

How tough was it to find a balance between the little green computer monitors of “Alien” and the futuristic technology of the more recent films?

I know a lot of people felt like it makes no sense. But I think we make the mistake when we watch the Nostromo and assume that’s how the entire universe looks like. If I decide to make a movie on Earth today, and I go to the Mojave Desert and I take an old truck because a guy drives a Chevy, if you’re an alien, you’re going to go, “That’s what the world looks like.” But it doesn’t mean there’s not a guy in a Tesla in the city, which would be the “Prometheus” ship. The first movie is truck drivers in a beat-up truck. “Prometheus” is the ship of the richest man in the world….

(5) PRE-WORLDCON TOUR OF SCOTLAND OFFERED. Val and Ron Ontell are fans who have been running tours in connection with Worldcon since 1987. Past tours have included Britain, Australia, Ireland, Japan, and Scandinavia/St. Petersburg. They are currently organizing one for two weeks in Scotland beginning in Edinburgh and ending in Glasgow the day before the con begins.

Some of the highlights: Loch Ness, Inverness and the Highlands, the Isles of Arran and Skye, Stirling Castle, a ride on the Jacobite Steam Train (aka the Hogwarts Express), going into a Concorde SST at the National Museum of Flight, having a traditional Scottish dinner (including haggis), and attending the Edinburgh Tattoo. Click for the itinerary.

For complete information, visit their website at <ontell.org/Scotland> or contact them at <[email protected]>.

(6) FREE FLYER. Flaco, the escaped Central Park Zoo owl, died on February 23. The owl’s story is the premise for a book competition offering a $20,000 prize from Brazen House Inc. Contact [email protected] for full details.

The story of Flaco, the owl from Central Park Zoo, has touched people all over the world as a tale of inspiration and admonition for humans. The Eurasian eagle-owl escaped from his cage after thirteen years in captivity and moved about fearlessly in the concrete jungle of New York skyscrapers, pursuing freedom and a little perch he could call home. He found neither in that rich patch of America that stands for freedom and opportunity. Even though he had a legion of human supporters rooting for him, the authorities shadowed him, trying to get him back into his cage. As for finding a home, every inch of the land had been claimed by humans. After a year of striving and struggling, Flaco met with a tragic death when he crashed into a building on the Upper West Side.

If Flaco could speak to us from the other side of the veil, what would he say about his captive life and the brief freedom he enjoyed? What resentments would he have about the humans who for years kept him in a cage as an object of mere curiosity? What were his most joyful moments in freedom? What did he pine for most as he ranged over the concrete jungle of New York City?

Brazen House is soliciting proposals for an imaginative novel that will tell his story through his eyes and reflect on how humans regard other species. The book is intended for young adults, but the story and the writing should resonate with older readers as well. And it should make a distinguished contribution to the literature for young readers in enhancing their appreciation of other species with whom we share this Earth…

The submission should be exclusive to Brazen House. The winning proposal will be announced on September 1, 2024….

Somtow Sucharitkul sent the news item to File 770 with a disclosure, “I’m doing a new trilogy with his publishing house and I’m on his committee to pick the winning book for the 20,000 prize.”

(7) E PLURIBUS YRTH. And since we’ve mentioned Somtow’s new trilogy from Brazen House…

Yrth Trilogy by S.P. Somtow

An epic series by World Fantasy Award winning author S.P. Somtow

A timeless story reinvented for the 21st Century: with the sweep of Lord of the Rings and the spectacle of Dune

An eon from now, humans are mostly a memory, wiped out by war and their own hubris, living on the fringes. Yrth is a desolate wasteland, but life has started to return. New races have begun to live in the wasteland, finding their own harmony with their environment. Some have evolved from what were once thought of as animals. Others were created to make real the myths and imaginings of the departed humans. These races have created pockets of utopia.

But will they repeat the mistakes of past, and return Yrth to the realm of shadow? Can many species become a united world?

(8) LIGHTS…CAMERA…WATCH MEDIA! “Sci-Fi Series ‘Murderbot’ Officially Begins Filming at Apple TV+” reports Midgard Times.

The upcoming Apple TV+ sci-fi series, “Murderbot” has officially begun filming this Monday in Toronto, Canada. Starring Alexander Skarsgård in the leading role, the series is based on the award-winning books by Martha Wells.

“Murderbot” is described as an action-packed sci-fi series based on Wells’ award-winning novels about a self-hacking security android who is appalled by human emotion but lured to its weak “clients.” Murderbot must suppress its free will and perform a perilous mission when all it truly wants is to be left alone to watch future soap operas and find out its place in space….

…The 10-episode Murderbot is expected to take more than three months to complete the production. As per the current schedule, the sci-fi series will officially wrap filming on June 27, 2024. The series comes from Chris and Paul Weitz, who are writing, directing, and producing it, while also acting as showrunners….

(9) THY THREE SUNS. Critic Inkoo Kang tells readers of The New Yorker, “’3 Body Problem’ Is a Rare Species of Sci-Fi Epic”.

…“3 Body Problem” belongs to an all too rare breed: mainstream entertainment that leads its viewers down bracingly original speculative corridors. The scenario the show ultimately posits bears little resemblance to traditional sci-fi fare; the aliens are coming, but not for another four hundred years, putting humanity on notice for an encounter—and possibly a war—that’s many lifetimes away. This time span is as much a curse as a blessing. Forget the science for a second; what kind of political will—totalitarian or otherwise—is required to keep centuries of preparation on track? How do we get the über-rich to contribute to a new space race in a way that also flatters their egos? And what resources does it take to accelerate scientific discovery to a breakneck pace?…

(10) M. EMMETT WALSH (1935-2024). Character actor M. Emmet Walsh died March 19 at the age of 88 reports Variety.

…In Ridley Scott’s 1982 “Blade Runner,” Walsh was Harrison Ford’s LAPD boss, while he played the vicious private detective Loren Visser in the Coen brothers’ directing debut “Blood Simple.” Wearing a sickly yellow suit, Pauline Kael said he was the film’s “only colorful performer. He lays on the loathsomeness, but he gives it a little twirl — a sportiness.”

His other roles included the corrupt sheriff in the 1986 horror film “Critters” and a small role as a security guard in “Knives Out.”…

He also did voice work in Iron Giant.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born March 20, 1932 Jack Cady. (Died 2004.) Jack Cady’s Wikipedia page says he’s known “mostly as an award-winning writer of fantasy, horror, and science fiction. He won the Nebula Award, the World Fantasy Award, and the Bram Stoker Award.” I’m betting that he’s much more than just his ‘Wards, don’t you think?

So let’s see… Ghost stories are a good place to begin I think. McDowell’s Ghost gives a fresh spin on the trope of seeing a War Between The States ghost, and The Night We Buried Road Dog is another ghost story set in early Sixties Montana. 

Jack Cady

Now The Well is not quite a ghost story as such but it’s a haunted house story of sorts heavy on the horror, really heavy on the horror. 

Not a ghost story as such but equally impressive is Inagehi which is the story of a young Cherokee woman who inherits a mountain and the mystery of her father’s death. 

Now Dark Dreaming with Carol Orlockreminds me just a bit of He Who Shapes in its use of the darker side of dreams. Well much darker than Zelazny ever did. Don’t read later at night.

Cady’s The Man Who Could Make Things Vanish is a tale of a man who make anything disappear against an organisation that might or might exist wanting to rule the world. 

He wrote more novels than that but those are the ones I’m familiar with. 

He also wrote quite a bit of short fiction, some sixty pieces I figure. Phantoms: Collected Writings, Volume 1 and Fanthoms: Collected Writings, Volume 2, both done a decade ago, collect about forty-five pieces of short fiction. Both are available at the usual suspects. 

Those ‘Wards? He won a Nebula and Stoker for a novella, “The Night We Buried Road Dog”; the World Fantasy Award was for a short collection, The Sons of Noah & Other Stories; and the final one was the International Horror Guild Award a warded for Outstanding achievements in the field of Horror and Dark Fantasy.

(12) COMICS SECTION.

(13) CONTINUAL HEALING. “’I’m still trying to recover’: Annie Potts on Ghostbusters, Toy Story – and the car crash that almost killed her” in the Guardian.

…Ask her why she thinks Ghostbusters is so enduring, and she replies: “Well, it’s made a lot of money.” But the reason for that is the affection audiences have for it. “It was uniquely hilarious and scary – it’s scalarious – and that turned out to be a very good combination.” For those of us who loved it as children, she thinks we’re trying to “get back to that moment where you’ve been both tickled and scared. And so here we are, 40 years later.” We’re speaking over Zoom; Potts is in New York for the premiere, and she’s warm, funny and has the straightforward air of someone who has seen it all….

…As well as Janine returning, the original team played by Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd and Ernie Hudson are also back; Harold Ramis, who played Egon Spengler, died in 2014. Spengler’s estranged daughter and her children are part of the new crew (having been introduced in 2021’s Ghostbusters: Afterlife). “So they have the young ghostbuster, and the mom ghostbuster, and then they have me, the old lady ghostbuster,” says Potts, delightedly….

…Just as her career was getting started, it was almost derailed by a car crash when she was 21. “Drunk drivers, three carloads of teenagers in the middle of the day were drag-racing down the wrong side of a two-lane highway and ran head on into the car I was in.” Virtually every bone in her body below the waist was broken, she says. “It took a very long time to recover. I’m still trying to recover.” It must have shattered her sense of security and invincibility, which many of us take for granted at that age. “Yes, when you almost lose your life, it becomes pretty dear. I don’t know if you can know how dear it is until you are faced with losing it.”…

(14) BUCKET TWIST. “The Surprise Ending of ‘Dune,’ the Popcorn Bucket” – the New York Times consults a nutritionist about the impact of the souvenir container.

In the “Dune” movies, a gigantic sandworm can rise from the desert and devour soldiers and military vehicles in its gaping maw. In real life, humans watching movies devour popcorn. These two ideas have been combined to spawn the “Dune” popcorn bucket, a sandworm-shaped tub that is having a cultural moment. The bucket arrives on the heels of other recent popcorn collectibles, like the 16-inch Barbie Corvette snack holder. But is there more to these vessels than meets the eye?

Lindsay Moyer thinks about popcorn. She is the senior nutritionist at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a nonprofit consumer advocacy group focused on food systems and healthy eating. She sat down with The New York Times to discuss what she sees when she considers “Dune: The Popcorn Bucket.” This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

…My colleague and I called some AMC locations this morning, and they all told us that the “Dune” bucket is like getting a large popcorn there, but that it varies by location. We talked to their employees and asked them how many calories are listed on the menu, and a large has 980 calories. My understanding is that would be before you added any buttery topping yourself, if you choose to add it…

(15) QUITE A COLLECTIBLE. “Manhattan Project Report Signed by J. Robert Oppenheimer Sells at Auction” at Smithsonian Magazine.

report describing the creation of the atomic bomb signed by J. Robert Oppenheimer sold for $53,594 at auction last week.

The RR Auction sale took place just a few days after Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer cleaned up at the Oscars, where it won in seven categories (including Best Picture and Best Director)….

The 200-page document—titled “Atomic Bombs: A General Account of the Development of Methods of Using Atomic Energy for Military Purposes Under the Auspices of the United States Government, 1940-1945”—was signed by Oppenheimer, the theoretical physicist who directed the Manhattan Project, and 23 other contributors, including Enrico FermiErnest LawrenceJames Chadwick and Harold Urey. It provides a detailed description of the “technical and administrative history” of the atomic bomb’s development….

… Nellie V. Sanderson, the secretary for General Leslie Groves (who oversaw the Manhattan Project), collected the signatures, intercepting the men as they came to meet with Groves and asking them to sign the report.

Along with the report, the anonymous buyer also got several items that belonged to Sanderson, including letters, documents and a Manhattan Project shoulder patch. One of Groves’ business cards was also included in the lot….

(16) A.I. REALLY MEANS ARTIFICIAL IMPRESSIONISM. Adam Gopnik seeks an answer to the question “What Can A.I. Art Teach Us About the Real Thing?” in The New Yorker.

…The range and ease of pictorial invention offered by A.I. image generation is startling; the question, though, is whether its arrival is merely recreational or actually revolutionary. Is it like the invention of the electric light bulb or like the coming of the lava lamp? Herewith, some thoughts.

The intersection of new machines with new kinds of images has a long history. I once owned a French drawing device—a kind of camera lucida, with reflecting mirrors and refracting prisms—that called itself a Machine to Draw the World. It took for granted that the task of image-making was to incise and adjust a drawing to a pattern of light—in itself, a fiendishly difficult action that preoccupied artists for centuries. (Whether actual machines like it played a significant role in the art of Vermeer or Rembrandt is an unsettled question.)

But systems like dall-e 2 don’t operate on light and shadow; they operate on art history—on the almost bottomless reservoir of images on which they’re trained. And the power of images lies less in their arguments than in their ambiguities. That’s why the images that dall-e 2 makes are far more interesting than the texts that A.I. chatbots make. To be persuasive, a text demands a point; in contrast, looking at pictures, we can be fascinated by atmospheres and uncertainties. Even images made to persuade—such as propaganda posters or altarpieces—are only communicative through the intercession of our outside knowledge of the narratives that they illuminate. When you don’t know the story, even tutelary religious pictures become enigmatic. 

…This is not a machine to draw the world. Instead, it proposes a recombinant approach to popular imagery as a means of making art. (The dialogue of popular imagery and modern art was, as it happens, the topic of that abandoned Ph.D. thesis.) In effect, it exploits, and has installed in it as a premise, an idea specific to a particular heritage of image-making, the heritage of Symbolism, and then of the Surrealism that Symbolism engendered. Appropriately enough, the system takes its punning name from a Surrealist painter, since dall-e 2 is ideally trimmed to make soft watches and derby hats on dogs and trains racing out of fireplaces….

(17) PUTTING HIS FOOT DOWN FOR SAFETY. “Godzilla was back on the streets of Tokyo — this time for a good cause”NPR’s “Morning Edition” has the story.

…Good morning, I’m Steve Inskeep. Godzilla, the monster of Japanese movie fame, was back on the streets of Tokyo. This time, the kaiju visited on a public service mission to encourage people to observe traffic safety laws. Godzilla was even made police chief for a day. Think of the size of his hat. The appearance was part of a campaign using Japanese movie characters to promote traffic safety. I wonder what job they gave Pikachu….

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

Pixel Scroll 3/10/24 He Who Controls The Pixels Controls The Scroll

(1) HUGO, GIRL! REVERSES PERMANENT RECUSAL DECISION. The Hugo, Girl! the Podcast team tells why they have changed their minds about permanently recusing themselves from the Best Fancast category in “Statement on the 2023 Hugo Awards”. The complete explanation is at the link.

Following the Chengdu Hugo Awards, we believed in good faith that we were the legitimate winners of the 2023 Hugo Award for Best Fancast. We subsequently announced Hugo, Girl’s permanent recusal from the Best Fancast category. We were honored and delighted by the win, and we wanted to make room for others to experience the same.

However, with each recent revelation about the administration of the Hugo Awards, we have become increasingly uncomfortable thinking of ourselves as legitimate winners. Viewing the nomination and voting data that others have meticulously combed through, analyzed, and presented in a thorough and digestible way, it initially seemed that Fancast was one of the less obviously suspicious categories. It did not appear that any of our Fancast co-finalists or entries on the long list had been mysteriously disqualified, as was the case in several other categories. That being said, Fancast is not free from strange numbers.

We became even more dubious once we learned that the Hugo Administrators had investigated and disqualified potential finalists* on the basis of assumed politics, queer and trans identity, and an imaginary trip to Tibet. We ourselves likely should have been disqualified under the same criteria. It does not escape our notice that as four white people, we may have been scrutinized less closely….

… For the foregoing reasons, we have decided to withdraw our recusal from Hugo eligibility, effective in 2025. We hope to have a future opportunity to participate in a fair, transparent Hugo Awards process, if voters decide to honor us again with a place on the ballot. 

(2) FALSE GRIT. Heard too much about Dune lately? Then your brain will probably explode in the middle of reading “Charles Bukowski’s Dune” at McSweeney’s Internet Tendency.

It had been a long day. The hot-shit new supervisor, who looked about sixteen and probably hadn’t even started shaving yet, had written me up twice. I’d crumpled both slips in front of him, thrown them in the trash.

On the way home, the 48-Arrakeen worm died at the base of the hill, and we all had to hop off into the sand. The thing was already starting to stink as I began the trudge uphill, bone-tired and thirsty….

(3) NO ARMY IS SO POWERFUL AS AN IDEA WHOSE TIME HAS COME. Variety reports, “SAG-AFTRA Chief: Chance of Strike Against Game Producers is ’50-50’”.

Issues around the use of AI in the production process is the big sticking point in SAG-AFTRA’s negotiations with the largest video game companies, SAG-AFTRA chief Duncan Crabtree-Ireland said Saturday during a wide-ranging Q&A at SXSW in Austin, Texas.

Crabtree-Ireland, who is national executive director and chief negotiator of the performers union, said he put the chances of union members striking against key game companies is “50-50, or more likely than that we will go on strike in the next four to six weeks because of our inability to get past these issues,” Crabtree-Ireland told Brendan Vaughan, editor-in-chief of Fast Company, during a conversation focused on AI….

… Some pushed the union to demand an outright ban on the use of AI in union-covered productions. Crabtree-Ireland said he know that was a nonstarter.

“We would not have succeeded, any more than any union ever in history has been able to stop technology,” he said. “Unions that try that approach, they fail and they give up the chance to influence how those technologies are implemented. “The fact of matter is, we’re going to have AI.”

Crabtree-Ireland emphasized repeatedly that the union’s position on AI revolves around “consent and compensation” for its members when AI engines use their work. “We want to make sure the implementation is human-centered and focused on augmentation [of production], not replacement of people,” he said….

(4) SFF WINS CANADIAN COMPETITION. The Québecois author Catherine Leroux’s The Future, in a translation by Susan Ouriou, has won the 2024 Canada Reads national competition. (Canada Reads is a television show. ) “’Canada Reads’ 2024 Winner: Catherine Leroux’s ‘The Future’” at Publishing Perspectives.

The Future by Catherine Leroux, published by Biblioasis in Windsor, was named the winner of the weeklong series of elimination programs  from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s CBCbooks. The book is translated from French by Susan Ouriou and is a dystopian history of Detroit, a book the program refers to as, “a plea for persistence in the face of our uncertain future.”

(5) REID Q&A. Sff gets two callouts in this Guardian interview: “Taylor Jenkins Reid: ‘Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy are unbeatable’”. Taylor Jenkins Reid will be international author of the day at the London Book Fair on March 12.

The writer who changed my mind
I thought I didn’t like sci-fi until I discovered Octavia Butler. Kindred defies genre, but it taught me that I’ll go anywhere in a story if I trust the writer….

My comfort read
Whenever I want to read a book I know will be good, I go to Silvia Moreno-Garcia. Her genres are ever changing, her ability to take on a wild story each time is incredible. You never know what she’s going to do, but you know it will be a page-turner. I cannot wait for her next book, The Seventh Veil of Salome. Fifties Hollywood, two starlets, the role of a lifetime … what more could you want?

(6) FLATIRON STILL AWAITS ITS FUTURE. [Item by Ersatz Culture.] In a news item today on the BBC about America’s office market, there’s a passing reference to the former Tor offices:

The famous triangular Flatiron building nearby has been vacant since 2019. Last autumn, the owners said it would be turned into condos.

Way back in January 2009, File 770 reported that the owners originally had different plans:

However, the offices of Tor Books are housed in New York’s Flatiron Building, which an Italian investor has announced plans to convert into a luxury hotel. Reports say hotels take so long to construct that it might be a decade before the Flatiron Building comes online in its new capacity.

The departure of Tor and the wider Macmillan publishing organization was reported in the June 5th, 2019 Pixel Scroll.

(7) TEENAGE BROADBAND. “New Emotions Move in for ‘Inside Out 2’” – and Animation Magazine makes the introductions:

Disney and Pixar today unveiled the official trailer plus new images and poster for Inside Out 2, which welcomes new Emotions to now-teenager Riley’s mind. Joining Joy (voice of Amy Poehler), Anger (Lewis Black), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Fear (Tony Hale) and Disgust (Liza Lapira) is a group of Emotions perfectly suited for the teenage years: 

Maya Hawke voices Anxiety, the previously announced new arrival bound to shake up everything in headquarters and beyond. A bundle of frazzled energy, Anxiety enthusiastically ensures Riley’s prepared for every possible negative outcome.

Envy, voice of Ayo Edebiri, may be small but she sure knows what she wants. She’s perpetually jealous of everything everyone else has, and she’s not afraid to pine over it. 

Ennui, who’s voiced by Adèle Exarchopoulos, couldn’t care less. Bored and lethargic with a well-practiced eye-roll, Ennui adds the perfect amount of teenage apathy to Riley’s personality, when she feels like it.

Embarrassment, voiced by Paul Walter Hauser, likes to lay low, which isn’t easy for this burly guy with a bright blush-pink complexion….

(8) BILL WAHL TRIBUTE. Brian Keene is overwhelmed by the loss of another friend – Bill Wahl died March 6 — as he told readers of “Letters From the Labyrinth 371”.

…Bill, like me, was always blunt and spoke his mind. And he did indeed give Mary and I a TON of pointers and help in the setting up of Vortex Books & Comics. It is Saturday as I write this, in the bookstore, and it is not lost on me that he had planned on coming in here today, right about the time I’m typing this (2:31pm).

I guess maybe I wrote a eulogy after all. Maybe half-assed, but that’s still pretty good considering that I’m typing it amidst a car crash of mental, physical, and emotional exhaustion from which I may not be able to beat this time.

After 56 years on this planet, I finally know what it means to be tired…

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born March 10, 1918 Theodore Rose Cogswell. (Died 1987.) Let’s consider Theodore Rose Cogswell. He was a member of the Minneapolis Fantasy Society and later noted that fellow members Poul Anderson and Gordon Dickson said that he should he should be a writer. 

He was in his thirties before his first work, “The Spectre General” novella was published in the June 1952 issue of Astounding. SWFA considers it one of our best novellas. 

He would co-write with Charles A. Spano, Jr., Spock, Messiah. Prior to this novel, only one Star Trek tie-in novel intended for adult readers instead of YA readers had been published, Spock Must Die!, written by James Blish. Blish was supposed to do a Mudd novel but his death obviously prevented that. A real pity that. Though Mudd’s Angels would be written by J.A. Lawrence, Blish’s wife.

Back to Cogswell.

He wrote a fair amount of short fiction, some forty works, collected in The Wall Around the World, the title novelette here was nominated for a Retro Hugo, and The Third Eye.

Perhaps, his most interesting work was as editor of Proceedings of the Institute for Twenty-First Century Studies where such individuals as Poul Anderson, Isaac Asimov, James Blish, Algis Budrys, Arthur C. Clarke, Avram Davidson, Gordon Dickson, Fritz Leiber engaged in what is best described as a very long running written bull session. A copious amount of these writings was published as PITFCS: Proceedings of the Institute for Twenty-First Century Studies. Though NESFA distributed it, it was published by Advent Publishing. It was nominated for a Hugo at ConAdian for Best Related Non-Fiction Book. 

(10) COMICS SECTION.

(11) NEW MARVEL UNLIMITED PROGRAM LETS YOU ACCESS INFINITY COMICS FOR FREE.  Marvel’s Infinity Comics: Start Scrolling became available starting March 7.  

It’s time to Start Scrolling! Today, comic fans will have even more access to their favorite stories spanning the Marvel Universe with the all-new Marvel’s Infinity Comics: Start Scrolling digital program. The new program, exclusively from Marvel Unlimited, allows readers to access select Infinity Comics for free.   
 
Marvel’s Infinity Comics: Start Scrollingwill provide instant access to select free comics, with no login required. Readers can experience over 100 issues of bingeable Marvel stories starring fan-favorites including the X-Men, Spider-Man, Jeff the Land Shark, and many more, by visiting Marvel’s Infinity Comics: Start Scrolling. With an extensive library of over 30,000 comics on Marvel Unlimited, fans can expect other free Infinity Comics to be rotated in throughout the year.  
 
Marvel’s Infinity Comics are a vertical format designed for phones and tablets exclusive to Marvel Unlimited. Since launching in September 2021, Marvel Unlimited has published over 1,000 Infinity Comics to date from over 300 top Marvel creators.  

(12) FOLLOW THE MONEY. Or the spice. The economic engine that drives Dune’s universe isn’t explained in the movie, but GameRant has volunteered for the job: “Dune: CHOAM, Explained”.

…The Combine Honnete Ober Advancer Mercantiles is a monopolistic conglomerate that controls all commerce throughout the Dune universe. All material goods flow through CHOAM. All substantial wealth comes through interests in CHOAM. The CHOAM network runs through every other seat of power. CHOAM is under the Corrino Empire, the highest station in the universe, which oversees CHOAM’s board of directors. CHOAM was a publicly traded company. Shareholder profits could make any participant fabulously wealthy. Only the noble patriarchs of the Great Houses could become shareholders in CHOAM. The Houses fought for directorship positions, seeking to earn dividends and skim profit from their impossibly vast businesses. The Emperor reserved the right to revoke or hand out director positions, giving him the final say in any profit-seeking venture….

(13) CALLING SOLOMON! Space tells “Why astronomers are worried about 2 major telescopes right now”.

There’s a bit of tension right now in the U.S. astronomy community and, perhaps unsurprisingly, it has to do with telescopes — extremely large telescopes, in fact. Here’s what’s going on.

The National Science Foundation (NSF), a source of public funding that two powerful next-gen observatories have been banking on for financial support, is facing pressure to go forward with only one telescope. This is because last month, the National Science Board — which is basically an advisory committee for the NSF — recommended that it cap its giant telescope budget at $1.6 billion. This is a lot of money, but it’s just not enough for both. The board even says the NSF will have until only May of this year to decide which telescope gets the go-ahead.Yet, both telescopes are already in the middle of construction, both are equally important and both are actually supposed to work together to fulfill a wide-eyed dream for astronomers. Because of how utterly huge they’re meant to be, they’re expected to one-up even the $10 billion James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) in many ways. That’s the gold-mirrored, silvery-shielded trailblazer sitting a million miles from Earth right now, finding deep space gems so quickly it’s normalizing us to seeing things humanity once couldn’t fathom seeing. Imagine something better….

… One of the big scopes is the Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT). It’s taking shape as you read this in the clear-skied deserts of Chile, and it’s projected to cost something like $2.54 billion as a whole. The other is called The Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT). That one’s location is a bit more controversial. It’s planned to decorate a mountain in Hawaii called Mauna Kea, but locals have protested the decision because this stunning volcanic peak that boasts low humidity and gentle winds (perfect conditions for astronomy) is extremely meaningful in native Hawaiian culture. It’s a fraught situation, as 13 other telescopes already live in the area and some local people say the facilities are  impacting the natural environment. In terms of cost, however, the projected amount is just about symmetrical to the GMT’s….

(14) WHAT’S THE MATTER? “Controversial new theory of gravity rules out need for dark matter” – and the Guardian tries to explain it to us. However, the last time I heard a doctor use the word “wobbly” in connection with anything about spacetime, his last name was “Who”.

…There are multiple lines of evidence for dark matter, but its nature has remained mysterious and searches by the Large Hadron Collider have come up empty-handed. Last year, the European Space Agency launched a mission, Euclid, aiming to produce a cosmic map of dark matter.

The latest paper, published on the Arxiv website and yet to be peer-reviewed, raises the question of whether it even exists, drawing parallels between dark matter and flawed concepts of the past, such as “the ether”, an invisible substance that was thought to permeate all of space.

“In the absence of any direct evidence for dark energy or dark matter it is natural to wonder whether they may be unnecessary scientific constructs like celestial spheres, ether, or the planet Vulcan, all of which were superseded by simpler explanations,” it states. “Gravity has a long history of being a trickster.”

In this case, the simpler explanation being proposed is Oppenheim’s “postquantum theory of classical gravity”. The UCL professor has spent the past five years developing the approach, which aims to unite the two pillars of modern physics: quantum theory and Einstein’s general relativity, which are fundamentally incompatible.

Oppenheim’s theory envisages the fabric of space-time as smooth and continuous (classical), but inherently wobbly. The rate at which time flows would randomly fluctuate, like a burbling stream, space would be haphazardly warped and time would diverge in different patches of the universe. The theory also envisions an intrinsic breakdown in predictability….

(15) GIANT SQUID. [Item by Lise Andreasen.] This is the last place I would look for characters from 20000 Leagues Under The Sea.

(16) NO PLANET FOR OLD MEN. Dan Monroe is determined to find out “What Happened to THE BOMB from BENEATH the PLANET of the APES?”

(17) WITH AND WITHOUT STRINGS ATTACHED. [Item by Carl.] “Here Come The Puppets” was a PBS special produced by KQED at the International Puppet Festival in Washington DC. It was hosted by Jim Henson and the Muppets, and features internationally known puppeteers. It’s NEVER been offered in DVD form. It can now be seen on YouTube.

(18) VIDEOS OF THE DAY. “Watch: Rare Footage Of Leonard Nimoy Hosting 1975 Special Presentation Of Star Trek’s ‘The Menagerie’” at TrekMovie.com.

In 1975, Paramount produced a special movie presentation for syndication of the two-part Star Trek episode “The Menagerie,” hosted by TOS star Leonard Nimoy. The original Spock recorded introductions for each part of the episode as well as closing remarks for the special presentation. In the special, Nimoy explains how “The Menagerie” uses footage from the original Star Trek pilot “The Cage” and more….

There’s a nod to its Hugo win at the 4:51 mark.

…This morning, WJAR Channel 10 in Rhode Island posted a clip from their morning show with guest Leonard Nimoy from what appears to be around the end of the first season of the series. The actor talks about concerns the show will be canceled and the fan campaign to keep it on the air along with the origins of his signature Vulcan ears….

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Kathy Sullivan, JJ, Lori, Carl, Ersatz Culture, Lise Andreasen, Mark Roth-Whitworth, Steven French, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, and Chris Barkley for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Joseph Hurtgen.]

Pixel Scroll 3/9/24 Spacetime Springers Ahead, Nightfallers Back

(1) OTHERWISE AWARD UPDATE. Sumana Harihareswara, Motherboard chair, has shared news about the Otherwise Award in “Our pause and interim plans”.

As has been the case for many volunteer-run organizations, the Otherwise Award has struggled since the start of the pandemic in 2020. Our (volunteer) board and other volunteers have had to juggle many more issues than previously around health, paid work, and caretaking concerns than previously, which has resulted in our falling behind on the administration and maintenance of the Award. We’re sorry that we didn’t communicate about this earlier—that made it hard for readers, authors, and publishers to know what to expect.

Our Motherboard met recently to discuss how to move forward. We remain dedicated to our mission: to celebrate science fiction, fantasy, and other forms of speculative narrative that expand and explore our understanding of gender . But we’re discussing how, as an organization, to continue to pursue that mission in a sustainable way, given our limited resources.

Here are the decisions we’ve made so far.

Most of our programs are paused. This is us acknowledging what’s already been happening. We were later than usual at deliberating and announcing the Awards for work published in 2020 and in 2021, and did not run a Fellowships process in 2021 or 2023. We have not yet convened a jury to consider works published in 2022, 2023, or 2024.

We intend to run the Fellowships this year. We will open applications in several months—August at the earliest, October at the latest.

We may honor 2022 and 2023 work in a different way. We’re exploring various approaches to celebrating work from those years. That celebration may end up taking a very different form than usual.

We’re considering alternative approaches to the Award in the future. It could be that we’ll convene a jury soon to read 2024 work and deliberate towards an Award, but if we do, we may change our practices to reduce the workload on individual jury members and to make our procurement system for recommended works less laborious. Also, we currently rely on volunteer work for almost all of the organization’s labor (exceptions being technological work on our website, and art commissioned to give to Award winners); we may try to find ways to focus more on paid labor.

We’ll be at Readercon. We usually honor the most recent Award winner at WisCon , but this year we have no new award winner, and WisCon is taking a break . So we will instead hold some Otherwise-related events at Readercon (July 11-14, 2024, near Boston, Massachusetts). Specifics to be determined.

(2) GET READY FOR THE OSCARS. Animation World Network has been running a series about this year’s Academy Awards nominees in the animation and effects categories.

Take a deeper look at ‘The Boy and the Heron,’ ‘Elemental,’ ‘Nimona,’ ‘Robot Dreams,’ and ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse,’ all vying for the Best Animated Feature Oscar at the 96th Academy Awards coming March 10, 2024.

Take a deeper look at ‘The Creator,’ ‘Godzilla Minus One,’ ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3,’ ‘Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One,’ and ‘Napoleon,’ all vying for the Best Visual Effects Oscar 

Take a deeper look at ‘Letter to a Pig,’ ‘Ninety-Five Senses,’ ‘Our Uniform,’ ‘Pachyderme,’ and ‘War Is Over! Inspired by the Music of John and Yoko,’ all vying for the Best Animated Short Film Oscar 

(3) MEETING BUTLER. Syrus Marcus Ware delves into memory to bring us “Octavia E. Butler, Remembered”, a 2022 article at Them.

When the novelist Octavia E. Butler entered a room, you felt it. Tall, commanding, yet soft-spoken, the author’s presence inspired as much comfort as attention; you couldn’t help but be enraptured by her. The first and only time I met her was on a rainy afternoon in 2005. She was in Toronto promoting Fledgling, a brilliant novel about a young racialized vampire who challenges the white supremacy of the wider vampire community. I had been granted an hour’s time to interview not only my favorite author, but the dreamer who inspired me to become a speculative fiction writer and artist. What was supposed to be an hour turned into an entire day in her bountiful presence….

(4) BARDS AND SAGES CLOSING. Walter J. Wiese writes, “I seem to have a track record of having publications close right before they’re about to print my work. I had a story due to appear in the April issue of B&SQ.”

Bards and Sages Publishing posted a “Closure Announcement” saying they were shutting down beginning this week.

Effective March 6, 2024, I will begin the process of winding down Bards and Sages Publishing. There is a lot that needs to be unraveled and sorted out before I can formally close everything down. The most immediate impact is the closure of the Bards and Sages Quarterly and ceasing publication of new issues.

If you are an author or artist who was previously published in an issue of the Bards and Sages Quarterly, those issues will remain on sale until the end of 2024. After that, all back issues will be removed from sale, and all rights will revert to their respective authors.

The same is true for back issues of The Society of Misfit Stories and all of our anthologies. These will remain on sale through the end of the year and then unpublished. At that time, all rights will revert back to their respective authors and artists.

I’ve already informed our authors that we have stand-alone publishing contracts with about the decision. I will work with those authors individually to make sure all of their rights revert to them in a timely manner, and provide them with any raw files we have of their books. They will be free to use those files to either self-publish or take to another publisher if they wish.

Regarding our RPG offerings: I own all rights to the RPG materials through work-for-hire agreements. If other publishers are interested in buying the rights to any of our RPG products or properties, I will entertain offers. Email [email protected] to discuss.

With that out of the way, I want to provide the reasons for this decision.

As I have noted previously, I have been struggling with mental health issues for some time now. I am being treated for generalized anxiety and depression, and though my condition has improved, I’m still not where I feel I need to be to properly commit the time and effort needed to being an effective publisher.

At the end of last year, I was diagnosed with additional physical health issues that will require surgery and treatment. While none of them are life-threatening, they are an additional weight that requires my attention.

As most people who have known me a while also realize, publishing has always been my love, but it has never been my primary income source. Like a lot of micro presses, I have a proverbial “day job,” and that day job has become increasingly more complex over the last few years….

All of these issues impacted my decision. However, I also have to confess to what may have been the final straws. AI…and authors behaving badly….

(5) CARR-LICHTMAN CATALOG. Mark Funke Books has posted an online SF Catalog of Terry/Carol Carr and Robert Lichtman Material – see it here: “Science Fiction Archives”. (Click for larger image.)

(6) KUNG FU PANDA PUTS MOVES ON DUNE AT BOX OFFICE. Dune: Part Two could not hold onto first place in its second weekend at theaters reports Deadline: “Box Office: ‘Kung Fu Panda 4’ Kicking Up $55M For Second-Biggest Franchise Debut”.

Universal/DreamWorks Animation’s Kung Fu Panda 4 is coming in higher with a $19.4M Friday (including previews) and $55M, which is the same amount that How to Train Your Dragon: Hidden World opened to back in 2019. Brand animation always opens big. That’s still the second best stateside start for the Kung Fu Panda franchise. CinemaScore is A-, the same grade as the first movie, but a notch down from the As earned on two and three.

Legendary/Warner Bros’ Dune: Part Two earned around $12.3M yesterday for what’s shaping up to be a $44M second weekend, -47%, for a running total of $154.7M. With those two movies leading the pack, it’s shaping up to be a $133.3M weekend, +13% over the same frame a year ago when Scream VI bowed. Wow. It’s been a while since we’ve seen an up weekend.

Lionsgate/Blumhouse’s Imaginary is third with $3.6M yesterday (including previews) at 3,118 theaters for what’s shaping up to be a $9.3M opening. Not shocking to see this movie below its $10M-$14M projection, nor saddled with a C+ CinemaScore and 57% on PostTrak. It is rather slow for a PG-13 horror film and there’s nothing really hip to hook the girls ala M3GAN. But it was cheap to make at $10M. Still more product means depth at the box office….

(7) GROW UP? TO HECK WITH THAT. “Miriam Margolyes Says Harry Potter Fans Should Be Over Films By Now” in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter.

Harry Potter actress Miriam Margolyes has some thoughts about the people who are still superfans of the famous film franchise.

During an interview with New Zealand’s 1News network, Margolyes was asked how Harry Potter and Blackadder fans approach her differently when they see her in public. She explained that fans of the British sitcom that starred Rowan Atkinson usually ask her to say “Wicked child.” But instead of answering the question about Harry Potter, she decided to share how she feels about the fandom.

“I worry about Harry Potter fans because they should be over that by now,” Margolyes said. “It was 25 years ago, and it’s for children,” clarifying, “think it’s for children.

The actress portrayed Professor Pomona Sprout in the film franchise. Her character taught herbology and was the head of the Hufflepuff House. While speaking with the host, Margolyes seemed confused about the fact that those who grew up with the books and movies are still so engrossed in the Wizarding World, despite being adults at this point.

“They get stuck in it,” she explained. “I do Cameos, and people say, ‘We’re having a Harry Potter-themed wedding, and I think, ‘Gosh, what’s their first night of fun going to be?’ I can’t even think about it. No.”

She did note, “Harry Potter is wonderful. I’m very grateful to it” but doubled down on her original thought, which is that “it’s over.”…

(8) IT’S IMPOSSIBLE. One of the audiobooks up for the British Book Awards is Impossible Creatures by Katherine Rundell, narrated by Samuel West (Bloomsbury Children’s Books). Publishing Perspectives reports: “British Book Awards: 2024 Books of the Year Shortlists”.

(9) FIVE TO DRAW TO. Lisa Tuttle’s “The best recent science fiction and fantasy – reviews roundup” for the Guardian covers The Mars House by Natasha Pulley; Annie Bot by Sierra Greer; The Warm Hands of Ghosts by Katherine Arden; Jumpnauts by Hao Jingfang; and Alien Clay by Adrian Tchaikovsky.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born March 9, 1955 Pat Murphy, 69. What work do I like most that Pat Murphy’s done? Well that’d be There and Back Again, by Max Merriwell if only because it, a) was indeed a lovely and playful take off The Hobbit, and b) shows how bloody obstinate, well I had another phrase in mind, that the Tolkien Estate can be at times which is why it’s no longer in print though copies are available at I think are still reasonably priced rates. 

Pat Murphy. Photo by Scott Edelman.

Of her first two novels, The Shadow Hunter had Neanderthals and time travelling, and oh my!, her second, The Falling Woman, was about an archaeologist who sees the spirits of ancient people while she walks at dusk and dawn. Fascinating. Thirty-six years on, it’s still perfectly readable. And it won a Nebula which it most definitely deserved. 

Now I get to The City, Not Long After, the novel that I love nearly as much for its depiction of an empty magical San Francisco as I do for the characters and the story set there. Don’t get me wrong — both of those are stellar too. I get tingly thinking of this novel, something that I admit is rare.

Let’s me finish off the novels I like by her with Adventures in Time and Space with Max Merriwell about a cruise that gets, shall I say, delightfully improbable near or even within the Bermuda Triangle? Yes, it’s written by the same writer who penned by the story that the Tolkien Estate took umbrage to.

As for her short fiction, it is excellent. Both the “Rachel n Love” novelette and the “Bones” novella that first appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine would win a Nebula, the former would also win a Sturgeon — the Award, not a fish. Sorry I couldn’t resist. Her 1990 Points of Departure anthology, which won a Philip K. Dick Award, is a generous sampling of her short work and has the “Rachel n Love” novelette and the “Bones” novella in it. 

She’s hasn’t published anything in five years, so let’s hope something is forthcoming. 

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • Baldo’s Gracie is an example of many of us.
  • Herman has an unidentified problem.
  • Lio meets some offworld fans.
  • Macanudo points out a problem for Batman.
  • Free Range suggests writing peer pressure goes way back.
  • Non Sequitur has an early editor.

(12) SHE’S A ROCKETGIRL. [Item by Steven French.] Andrew Rovenko, a Ukrainian born photographer now living in Australia was named Australian Photography Magazine’s photographer of the year for this wonderful shot of his daughter in her home-made spacesuit. His photos have been collected in The Rocketgirl Chronicles – see a gallery at the link. Full story at the Guardian: “Rocketgirl on her sixth lockdown: Andrew Rovenko’s best photograph”.

During the pandemic, Melbourne held the world record for the highest number of days spent in lockdown. That’s not really a record you want to have. My family – me, my wife Mariya and our daughter Mia who was four at the time – had done all the standard things: puzzles, daily walks, baked sourdough. By lockdown number six, options for new activities were scarce. But Mia’s obsession with space gave us an idea – to make her a spacesuit. My wife had trained as a costume designer and she thought it might brighten Mia’s day to show her how something can be created from scratch. The best bit was making the papier-mache helmet: they blew up a little balloon and then stuck newspaper cuttings around it.

At the time, we were allowed outside for only two hours each day, and we had to keep within a 5km radius of our home. Having this suit as a prop had a transformative effect on our outings, turning them into space exploration missions. Even as adults, if you put a bold piece of clothing on, you start to play the role of the costume….

(13) JEOPARDY! [Item by David Goldfarb.] The second round of the Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions semifinals featured two questions involving SFF. The very first clue of the game was Literary Awards for $600:

Octavia Butler got the inaugural Infinity Award by the Science Fiction & Writers Association at these star-studded awards

Emily Sands knew this was the Nebula Awards.

Later we had Literary Awards for $1000:

The Hugo Award isn’t named after Victor Hugo, but this Hugo who founded the sci-fi magazine Amazing Stories

Yogesh Raut responded “Who is Luxembourg’s Hugo Gernsback?”

Did you know that Gernsback was from Luxembourg? I did, but only because I had previously learned it from listening to one of Yogesh’s podcasts.

(14) AREA 51 EIGHTY-SIXED. “Pentagon Review Finds No Evidence of Alien Cover-Up” – the New York Times discusses the report.

In the 1960s, secret test flights of advanced government spy planes generated U.F.O. sightings. More recently, government and commercial drones, new kinds of satellites and errant weather balloons have led to a renaissance in unusual observations.

But, according to a new report, none of these sightings were of alien spacecraft.

The new congressionally mandated Pentagon report found no evidence that the government was covering up knowledge of extraterrestrial technology and said there was no evidence that any U.F.O. sightings represented alien visitation to Earth.

The 63-page document is the most sweeping rebuttal the Pentagon has issued in recent years to counter claims that it has information on extraterrestrial visits or technology. But amid widespread distrust of the government, the report is unlikely to calm a growing obsession with aliens.

Maj. Gen. Patrick Ryder, a Defense Department spokesman, said the Pentagon approached the report with an open mind and no preconceived notions, but simply found no evidence to back up claims of secret programs, hidden alien technology or anything else extraterrestrial.

“All investigative efforts, at all levels of classification, concluded that most sightings were ordinary objects and phenomena and the result of misidentification,” General Ryder said in a statement.

While many reports of what the government now calls Unidentified Anomalous Phenomena remain unsolved, the new document states plainly there is nothing to see. The Pentagon’s All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office concluded that if better quality data were available, “most of these cases also could be identified and resolved as ordinary objects or phenomena.”…

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. FirstShowing introduces the “Final Trailer for Netflix’s ‘3 Body Problem’ Mind-Bending Sci-Fi Series”.

“I have to tell you something… something insane, but true, about all of us. It started a long time ago. Back in 1977 they detected a sequence…called it the wow signal.” Netflix has revealed their final official trailer for 3 Body Problem, an adaptation of the sci-fi books of same name from Liu Cixin, which many believe are near impossible to adapt. 3 Body Problem is a series inspired by the renowned story about discovering we are not alone in the universe. From the Game of Thrones creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss. A young woman’s fateful decision in 1960s China reverberates across space and time to a group of brilliant scientists in the present day. As the laws of nature unravel before their eyes five former colleagues reunite to confront the greatest threat in humanity’s history. 

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

Pixel Scroll 1/30/24 Ocean’s Elven

(1) SO FEW REMAIN. George R.R. Martin calls these “Dark Days” at Not a Blog.

 …2023 was a nightmare of a year, for the world and the nation and for me and mine, both professionally and personally.   I am very glad that it is over.

Unfortunately, so far 2024 looks to be even worse….

…I am famous and I am wealthy and, supposedly, I have a “big platform.”  Whatever that is.  But I have grown more and more cynical about this supposed “power” that people keep telling me I have.   Has anything I have ever written here ever changed a single mind, a single vote?  I see no evidence of that.  The era of rational discourse seems to have ended.

And death is everywhere.   Howard Waldrop was the latest, and his passing has hit me very very hard, but before him we lost Michael Bishop, Terry Bisson, David Drake… from my Wild Cards team, Victor Milan, John Jos. Miller, Edward Bryant, Steve Perrin… I still miss Gardner Dozois and Phyllis Eisenstein and my amazing agent Kay McCauley… Len Wein is gone, Vonda McIntyre, and Harlan Ellison… Greg Bear too, and… oh, I could go on.    I look around, and it seems as though my entire generation of SF and fantasy writers is gone or going.  Only a handful of us remain… and for how long, I wonder?  I know I have forgotten people in the list above, and maybe that is the destiny that awaits all of us… to be forgotten.

For that matter, the entire human race may be forgotten.   If climate change does not get us, war will.  Too many countries have nukes….

(2) FLASH MOB. The term Larry Niven coined for his stories of a world with transport booths is in the mainstream now. Shelf Awareness’ headline about this crime is: “Deadtime Stories, Lansing, Mich., Victim of ‘Flash Mob Robbery'”.

…Owner Jenn Carpenter wrote that around 2:30 p.m., a van pulled up to the corner of Washington and South St., and five teenagers wearing backpacks, carrying a big black trash bag, got out and entered the bookstore, where they remained for approximately 15 minutes. 

“During this time, they took turns asking me questions and keeping me occupied on the bookstore side of the shop, while the rest of them stuffed their backpacks with over $1,300 worth of merchandise,” she continued…

The WILX story has more details: “Lansing’s Reotown store ‘Deadtime Stories’ victim of theft, catches individuals on security footage”.

“The very first clip that I pulled up was them stuffing hundreds of dollars of merchandise in backpacks,” said Jenn Carpenter.

In Lansing’s Reotown, a well known book store, Deadtime Stories, fell victim to a theft. The owner, Jenn Carpenter says she had no idea she had been stolen from until another store owner asked her to check her security footage.

In the security footage, you can see a group of people stuffing store merchandise in a backpack, purse, and even in their pants.

“We lost more yesterday in stolen than we made in sales,” said Carpenter,“This brazen like an entire group of people coming in and just stuffing hundreds of dollars worth of merchandise in their bags and leaving… I’ve never seen anything like it.”

The business across the street, Vintage Junkies, also fell victim to the thefts. The owner says the group took more than $700 in merchandise, even stealing a lamp.

(3) STUDYING OCTAVIA BUTLER. Lois Rosson, a historian of science, is The Huntington’s 2023–24 Octavia E. Butler Fellow. She is currently working on a project about the depiction of outer space over the course of the Cold War titled Scientific Realism and American Astrofutures: Octavia Butler and the Space Environment. “Interview with Octavia E. Butler Fellow Lois Rosson” at The Huntington.

Durkin: You have noted that Octavia E. Butler grew up in Pasadena, not far from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. How do you think that informed her work? And how does that inform your scholarship?

Rosson: For me, this is one of the most interesting parts of my project. The triangle formed by JPL, the Hollywood special effects industry, and commercial aerospace in Southern California has had an outsized impact on the look of outer space. A lot of the illustrators I write about found work in these three industries, and they often moved from one to another.

As you’ve noted, Butler grew up in the northwest part of Pasadena, in close physical proximity to JPL. That said, the scientific and technical expertise concentrated in the region was parsed out socially, not geographically. Pasadena’s public schools were segregated until as late as 1970 and officially desegregated only because of a federal court order. In fact, Pasadena was the first city outside of the South that needed such a mandate. Butler graduated in 1965 from John Muir Technical High School, which was then a vocational school serving the area’s growing African American population.

So, there’s a moment in my story when the illustrators I write about and many of their scientific collaborators are concentrated around JPL, Caltech, and Hollywood, and they are using a frontier model to articulate the landscapes of the outer solar system. Butler is living in the same environment at the same time and forming very different ideas about how society should be organized in space. Unsurprisingly, the arid landscapes of the West take on a different meaning in her work. In her Parable series of novels, outer space represents an escape from the degradation of Earth’s landscapes. In Butler’s work, space settlement looks more like diaspora, which upends the frontier logic we’re used to. Casting space as something other than a frontier helps us understand the persistence of the metaphor more clearly and rethink how we relate to space as an environment.

(4) AWARD FOR CALIFORNIANS. The 2024 Golden Poppy Awards were presented by the California Independent Booksellers Alliance on January 25. The 14 categories include a sff award. 

  • Octavia E. Butler Award for Sci Fi/Fantasy/Horror: Maeve Fly by CJ Leede (Tor Nightfire)

(5) OCTAVIA BUTLER MURAL. Publishers Weekly’s January 29 “Picture of the Day” shows authors Sherri L. Smith (l.) and Elizabeth Wein (r.) celebrating the launch of their book American Wings: Chicago’s Pioneering Black Aviators and the Race for Equality in the Sky (G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers), with a visit to Octavia E. Butler Magnet STEAM Middle School in Pasadena, Calif.

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

A Chinese fan writes in English about recent events and their impact

The author of this was OK for me to link to the source, but after a brief discussion with them, I am presenting their original unedited English language text here instead.  We did not discuss any of the things that they allude to in this text; I am more interested in conveying to a wider audience the sort of thing that (I imagine) many Chinese fans are feeling, than getting into the weeds of the specifics.

The problem is not that Chinese SF is without hope. I won’t be disappointed if that is the case because there would not be any hope at the very beginning. The problem is that, people who actually care about Chinese SF, who make every effort to make it shine, who knows this industry, who want this explained fairly, are being dishonored, silenced, denied, warned. They even had to warn each other about potential cost: it’s not worth it to hang on anymore. 

So, that’s it. The opportunity was cast away for a generation at least. People who had cherries picked got their fruits and headed for the next big one. The catastrophe was left behind for writers, publishers, mag editors to deal with.

As a SF reader for nearly 20y but not one who read Chinese SF for years, I was not familiar with many candidates before con. But I just heard too many familiar stories of what the survivors have to worry about afterwards.

The dishonesty, like a thorns crown, was forced on the winners’ head. Few would expect blood trailing from behind, but the bleeding will not go away easily. It was never the fault of the winners, but penalty is put on them.

I hate it. 

Mike has been provided with the link to the original source, just so that he can verify that this isn’t something I’ve invented myself.

Fact-checking Babel’s status in China

Regarding all the discussion about why Babel was declared ineligible, here’s an attempt at rumour-control of the specific issue of whether it is legally published and available within China.  This isn’t intended to prove or disprove if or why any censorship or interference took place in the Hugo nominations, but just to clarify whether the work is available.

On January 22nd, Yin Harn Lee pointed out on Twitter that Babel had been published and was available for purchase in China.  I replied with a link to a Tweet I’d made a couple of days earlier, referring to the fact that it had recently ranked 4th in a list of the top 10 SFF books of 2023 on Douban.  (I’m not sure how that list was generated – from sales, user activity, a judging panel, or something else.  Also, I’d only come across that list via a post from a Chinese Twitter user, but their tweets are protected, so I can’t really credit the “real” source for that info.)

A few days later, I did a bit more digging.  Per Douban (which is China’s equivalent of Goodreads/IMDB/etc), the publisher of that translated edition is 中信出版集团, which can be translated as something like CITIC Press.  I’ve since had it confirmed that CITIC Press is ultimately part of CITIC Group, and their Wikipedia article has some interesting nuggets about their founding and ownership.

Note: CITIC being the publisher of Babel explains a comment on Weibo I saw shortly after the Hugo finalists were announced.  My quite probably incorrect recollection is that it translated as something like “CITIC won’t be happy”, which didn’t make any sense to me at the time, even after I’d read the Wikipedia article linked above.  In retrospect, I’m guessing that by the time the finalists were announced, Babel had already been announced as an upcoming publication by CITIC.  Given all the buzz about it, CITIC would likely be expecting to gain a lot of publicity and enthusiasm from the Hugo nomination that many of us were assuming was a dead certainty.

(7) FUTURE TENSE. The January 2024 entry in the Future Tense Fiction series is “Sad Robot,” by E.R. Ramzipoor. The story is about what happens when a globally crucial AI system is in need of therapy. Future Tense Fiction is a monthly series of short stories from Future Tense and Arizona State University’s Center for Science and the Imagination about how technology and science will change our lives.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born January 30, 1955 Judith Tarr, 69. Did you know Judith Tarr breeds Lipizzan horses at Dancing Horse Farm, her home in Vail, Arizona? They figure into her romantic fantasies that she wrote under the name Caitlin Brennan which she used for her White Magic series, The Mountain’s Call and sequels, and the House of the Star novel.  Yes, romantic fantasies.

Judith Tarr

Her Hound and the Falcon trilogy (The Isle of GlassThe Golden Horn and The Hounds of God) is set in twelfth and thirteenth century Europe. With elves. Yes elves. Why not?

Her Epona series (White Mare’s DaughterThe Shepherd KingsLady of Horses and Daughter of Lir) is set in prehistoric Europe. It takes the theories of archaeologist Marija Gimbutas that a matriarchal society existed in Paleolithic Europe. I’ve read her rationale on that — it’s interesting. The novels are a good read though perhaps a bit dogged at times.

Now Household Gods co-written with Harry Turtledove is a rollicking good novel that’s fun to read. Time travel, ancient Roman gods, a feisty female character — wharf’s not to like?

The next one being His Majesty’s Elephant. Charlemagne. A gift of magical elephant. A supernatural plot afoot. 

A Wind in Cairo allows her to show her love of horses as one of the characters is a male who for his transgressions is transformed by a sorcerer into a magnificent stallions in medieval Cairo where one of victims is now his jockey. 

Finally there’s Living in Threes which Book Cafe quite nice sums up this way, “Three lives. Three worlds. Three times. Three young women, past, present, and future, come together to solve an age-old mystery and save a world..” A novel where you don’t need the Bechdel test. 

She’s written some fifty shorter pieces of fiction, none collected, save those in, and try not to be surprised, in her Nine White Horses: Nine Tales of Horses and Magic collection. 

(9) BRAIN CHIP. “Elon Musk’s Neuralink implants brain chip in first human” reports Reuters.

The first human patient has received an implant from brain-chip startup Neuralink on Sunday and is recovering well, the company’s billionaire founder Elon Musk said.

“Initial results show promising neuron spike detection,” Musk said in a post on the social media platform X on Monday.

Spikes are activity by neurons, which the National Institute of Health describes as cells that use electrical and chemical signals to send information around the brain and to the body.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration had given the company clearance last year to conduct its first trial to test its implant on humans, a critical milestone in the startup’s ambitions to help patients overcome paralysis and a host of neurological conditions.

In September, Neuralink said it received approval for recruitment for the human trial.

The study uses a robot to surgically place a brain-computer interface (BCI) implant in a region of the brain that controls the intention to move, Neuralink said previously, adding that its initial goal is to enable people to control a computer cursor or keyboard using their thoughts alone….

(10) NO RELATION TO THAT FLYING SQUIRREL. Atlas Obscura remembers “How NASA Got Involved With Parachuting Beavers”.

IF YOU WERE WANDERING THE wilds of the Wasatch National Forest in Utah in September 2023, you might have encountered a strange sight: a line of slowly marching horses, with beavers saddled on their backs. Unfortunately, the rodents were not wearing tiny cowboy hats and boots. They were inside carriers, but their journey via horseback was still a fairly Wild West–type of solution to a problem. These beavers were headed to a new home—a battleground in the fight against drought and wildfires in the region….

…For decades, people have gone out of their way to move beavers across great distances. Today’s preferred methods—hiking, humping, and horseback rides—are an improvement over 1948, when beavers were parachuted out of planes in Idaho. Back then, Idaho Fish and Game had loaded the animals into boxes designed to spring open upon landing, and then dropped them over the Sawtooth Mountain Range….

…However, the reason behind all of this shuttling beavers around has completely reversed since the 1940s. Then, they were being sent to remote locations because humans didn’t want them around. Today, in Idaho, Utah, and other sites, they’re being brought back. Beavers are ecosystem engineers—and the ecosystems they create happen to be key to limiting wildfires and managing drought conditions. The mini-paratroopers have been revealed to be mini-firefighters, and it was the results of that aerial feat in 1948 that helped kick it all off, at least once NASA took notice….

(11) DESERT SONG. “Dune Spice Opera 2024 remaster” available for sale at Bandcamp.

From the first Dune 1991 game, reworked in 1992 with Philippe Ulrich, a classic of 90’s Electronic music now available in a qualité never Heard before!

Carefully remastered using modern tools, this 2024 version features spectrally enhanced sound, wider stereo, and clearer dynamics, rendered in Hi-Res Audio 96/24 format.
Includes also a special bonus: The full game OST in a yet unveiled quality!

(12) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Deadline sums up the “’Ministry Of Ungentlemanly Warfare’ Trailer”.

The Ministry Of Ungentlemanly Warfare will be released on April 19. Think Ritchie meets Magnificent Seven and Inglourious Basterds….

…The true story covers Winston Churchill and Ian Fleming’s secret WWII combat organization. The clandestine squad’s unconventional and ‘ungentlemanly’ fighting techniques against the Nazis helped change the course of the war and gave birth to the modern Black Ops unit.

The script by Paul Tamasy and Eric Johnson, Arash Amel and Ritchie is based on war correspondent and military historian Damien Lewis’ best-selling book of the same name. Tamasy and Johnson initiated the project and sold it as a pitch to Bruckheimer and Paramount in 2015….

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

Pixel Scroll 1/3/24 Yippie-i-ay (Yippie-i-ay), Yippie-i-oh (Yippie-i-oh), Ghost Pixels In The Sky

(1) EMSH REVIVAL FOR AGAIN, DANGEROUS VISIONS. J. Michael Straczynski told Facebook readers about the work he’s doing to get the second Ellison anthology, Again, Dangerous Visions, ready for publication. It involves the interior art and graphics.

Now that Harlan’s first Dangerous Visions is locked for print, we’re now moving to getting a proper galley for Again, Dangerous Visions. The main problem, in my eyes, with that process is that many of the later editions used the same Ed Emshwiller graphics/stats made for the original book (second generation images), or worse still, simply copied/reproduced the graphics from the printed pages themselves (third generation images).

This needs to be the most pristine version of the book done since the original print run, so after an exhaustive search, Ed’s original stats/graphics were discovered, and despite being sick as a dog (long story) I’ve spent every night for the past several days, going until dawn in most cases, carefully scanning every one of those eighty-plus images at high res, using air-blowers to remove dust, and gloves to avoid getting finger oil on anything.

I’ve just finished the last of the scans, and these images are just gorgeous, in astonishing detail and clarity. Honestly, so many of them could have been book covers all by themselves. Thinking that assembling these along the lines we see in the book, joined by ECG like pulses, might make a really cool promotional poster (but that’s just a thought for the moment, haven’t discussed it with anyone yet).

(2) ON THE NOSE. Philip Athans describes the use of an evocative fiction technique in “Smells Like Vivid Description” at Fantasy Author’s Handbook.

…I was surprised to hear in this video that, “Smell is apparently the strongest inducer of memories—of early memories. And the beauty is, even people suffering from Alzheimer’s dementia, never lose their olfactory memory.”

If you look back to last week’s post about How to Tell, it’s all about triggering memories. So a particular smell can help introduce some further detail about either or both of the world and the character. For instance, I find the smell of old books particularly delightful. This is my childhood love of the old books in the library coming to the forefront, and helping to propel my own love of collecting vintage books decades and decades later. If I were a character in a novel the smell of an old book could trigger a two-paragraph mini info dump about my childhood spent primarily in books, which turned into an adulthood spent primarily in books….

… Smells can also poke certain emotional triggers in your POV character, and go a long way to establishing the atmosphere of a scene….

(3) KGB. Fantastic Fiction at KGB speculative fiction reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present P. Djéli Clark and Eric Schaller on Wednesday, January 10. The event begins at 7:00 p.m. Eastern in the KGB Bar, 85 East 4th Street, New York, NY 10003 (Just off 2nd Ave, upstairs).

P. DJÉLI CLARK

Phenderson Djéli Clark is the award-winning and Hugo, Nebula, World Fantasy, and Sturgeon nominated author of the novels Abeni’s Song and A Master of Djinn, and the novellas Ring Shout, The Black God’s Drums, and The Haunting of Tram Car 015. His short stories have appeared in online venues such as Tor.com and in print anthologies including, Hidden Youth and Black Boy Joy. His upcoming novella, The Dead Cat Tail Assassins, will be out in 2024.

ERIC SCHALLER

Eric Schaller’s latest collection of dark fiction, Voice of the Stranger contains stories selected for Fantasy: Best of the Year, Best of the Rest, and The Year’s Best Weird Fiction. His fiction can also be found in his collection Meet Me in the Middle of the Air and in many anthologies and magazines. His stories are influenced in part by his studies in the biological sciences and the uneasy relationship humans have with each other and the world around them.

(4) WHAT TECH FORESEES IN 2024. Tech.co’s post “Experts’ Predictions for the Future of Tech in 2024” begins with a survey of sff:

2024 is about to dawn on the world. But in one of the most precient novels of the science fiction genre, it already has: Octavia Butler’s decades-old novel Parable of the Sower opens in Los Angeles in 2024.

Butler’s fictional world dealt with many of the social and environmental pressures that we’ll definitely be seeing a lot of in the real 2024. Climate change has boosted sea levels and increased droughts, increased privatization from greedy corporations is threatening schools, police forces are militarized, and a Presidential candidate is literally saying he’ll “make American great again.”

It’s hard to beat Butler’s entry when it comes to predicting what’s coming down the pike in the new year, and no one has really come close. Honorable mention goes to a 1995 episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine featuring a time-travelling social-commentary jaunt to 2024 San Francisco that deals with revolutionaries and homelessness encampments. A distant finalist is a grim tale by Harlan Ellison, A Boy and His Dog, which features a dystopian 2024 set among post-nuclear war mutated cannibals.

Things aren’t looking quite as bad for the real 2024, however. None of the dozens of industry experts and tech leaders that we’ve looked to for opinions about the future predicted a single incident of cannibalism….

(5) NOMINATE FOR THE REH AWARDS. “The 2024 Robert E. Howard Awards Are Open for Nominations!” announces the Robert E. Howard Foundation. You do not need to be a Foundation member to nominate.

…Under the new rules, nominations are due in to the Awards committee by February 15, 2024, with the Awards committee selecting the top nominees in each category for the final ballot by March 1, 2024….

(6) CRITTERS READERS’ POLL. Meanwhile, the “26th Annual Critters Readers’ Poll” is open through January 14. The Readers’ Poll honors print & electronic publications published during 2023. Its newest categories are Magical Realism, and Positive Future Fiction (novel & short story).

(7) MAYOR SERLING. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Slashfilm reminds us of the time that Jack Benny took a detour through the Twilight Zone. No, not any of The Twilight Zone TV series nor the theatrical nor TV films. Not even the radio dramas. It all happened inside Jack Benny‘s own eponymous TV show. “Rod Serling Played The Mayor Of The Twilight Zone On The Jack Benny Program”.

…Serling’s episode aired on January 15, 1963, and, as was the show’s custom, he also played himself. In the fictionalized universe of the series, Benny hires Serling to help his struggling writers smarten up their material. Though Serling acknowledges he has little experience with comedy (before “The Twilight Zone,” he was probably best known as the Emmy-winning writer of “Requiem for a Heavyweight”), he’s excited to collaborate with Benny’s two-man staff.

This does not go well.

After repeated clashes with Benny’s writers, Serling gives up, citing his desire to tell stories with deeply considered characterizations and thought-provoking themes. Benny takes issue with Serling’s dismissive opinion of his style of comedy and fires back that “The Twilight Zone” can’t possibly tell stories of significance because the Twilight Zone does not actually exist. And you can probably guess what happens next.

After quarreling with Serling, Benny decides to take a leisurely walk home. On the way there, he gets lost in a thick fog and finds himself in an area of town he doesn’t recognize. Eventually, he encounters a road sign which tells him exactly where he is. It reads: “Welcome to Twilight Zone, Population: Unlimited.” Below this is an arrow pointing left to “Subconscious 27 Mi,” and one pointing right to “Reality 35 Mi.”

This is when matters take a distressingly surreal turn….

(8) JUST SEWN THAT WAY. Camestros Felapton gives the film a thorough critique in “Review: Poor Things”. Beware spoilers.

Yorgos Lanthimos’s 2023 film starring Emma Stone is a dark comedy fantasy set in an unreal, stylised world suggestive of the late 19th century. Based on the novel by Alisdair Gray (which I haven’t read) but stripped of its Scottish setting and metatextual elements, the film follows the strange life of Bella Baxter.

Dr. Godwin Baxter is a surgeon and a mad-scientist like figure who resembles Victor Frankenstein in his obsession to reanimate corpses surgically but who also resembles Frankenstein’s monster physically due to experiments conducted on him by his own father…

(9) MEMORY LANE.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

1990 — Isaac Asimov’s “The Fourth Homonym” story is the source of our Beginning this time. His Black Widowers stories of which this is one I think are some of the cleverest bar style stories ever done even if they weren’t set in a bar like Clarke’s White Hart tales.  

These stories which were based on a literary dining club he belonged to known as the Trap Door Spiders.  The Widowers were based on real-life Spiders, some of them well known writers in their own right such as Lin Carter, L. Sprague de Camp, Harlan Ellison and Lester del Rey.

This story was first published thirty-four years ago in The Asimov Chronicles: Fifty Years of Isaac Asimov. It may be the only Black Widower story not collected in the volumes that collect the other stories. 

There were sixty-six stories over the six volumes that were released. So far only one volume, Banquets of the Black Widowers, has been released as an ePub. And yes, I’ve got a copy on my iPad as they are well worth re-reading.

And now for one of the best Beginnings done I think in the Black Widowers stories…

“Homonyms!” said Nicholas Brant. He was Thomas Trumbull’s guest at the monthly banquet of the Black Widowers. He was rather tall, and had surprisingly prominent bags under his eyes, despite the comparative youthfulness of his appearance otherwise. His face was thin and smooth-shaven, and his brown hair showed, as yet, no signs of gray. “Homonyms,” he said.

“What?” said Mario Gonzalo blankly.

“The words you call ‘sound-alikes.’ The proper name for them is ‘homonyms.’ “

“That so?” said Gonzalo. “How do you spell it?”

Brant spelled it.

Emmanuel Rubin looked at Brant owlishly through the thick lenses of his glasses. He said, “You’ll have to excuse Mario, Mr. Brant. He is a stranger to our language.”

Gonzalo brushed some specks of dust from his jacket sleeve and said, “Manny is corroded with envy because I’ve invented a word game. He knows the words but he lacks any spark of inventiveness, and that kills him.”

“Surely Mr. Rubin does not lack inventiveness,” said Brant, soothingly. “I’ve read some of his books.”

“I rest my case,” said Gonzalo. “Anyway, I’m willing to call my game ‘homonyms’ instead of ‘sound-alikes.’ The thing is to make up some short situation which can be described by two words that are sound-alikes – that are homonyms. I’ll give you an example: If the sky is perfectly clear, it is easy to decide to go on a picnic in the open. If it is raining cats and dogs, it is easy to decide not to go on a picnic. But what if it is cloudy, and the forecast is for possible showers, but there seem to be patches of blue here and there, so you can’t make up your mind about the picnic. What would you call that?”

“A stupid story,” said Trumbull tartly, passing his hand over his crisply waved white hair.

“Come on,” said Gonzalo, “play the game. The answer is two words that sound alike.”

There was a general silence and Gonzalo said, “The answer is ‘whether weather.’ It’s the kind of weather where you wonder whether to go on a picnic or not. ‘Whether weather,’ don’t you get it?”

James Drake stubbed out his cigarette and said, “We get it. The question is, how do we get rid of it?”

Roger Halsted said, in his soft voice, “Pay no attention, Mario. It’s a reasonable parlor game, except that there don’t seem to be many combinations you can use.”

Geoffrey Avalon looked down austerely from his seventy-four-inch height and said, “More than you might think. Suppose you owned a castrated ram that was frisky on clear days and miserable on rainy days. If it were merely cloudy, however, you might wonder whether that ram would be frisky or miserable. That would be ‘whether wether weather.’ “

There came a chorus of outraged What!’s.

Avalon said, ponderously. “The first word is w-h-e-t-h-e-r, meaning if. The last word is w-e-a-t-h-e-r, which refers to atmospheric conditions. The middle word is w-e-t-h-e-r, meaning a castrated ram. Look it up if you don’t believe me.”

“Don’t bother,” said Rubin. “He’s right.”

“I repeat,” growled Trumbull, “this is a stupid game.”

“It doesn’t have to be a game,” said Brant. “Lawyers are but too aware of the ambiguities built into the language, and homonyms can cause trouble.”

The gentle voice of Henry, that waiter for all seasons, made itself heard over the hubbub by some alchemy that worked only for him.

“Gentlemen,” he said. “I regret the necessity of interrupting a warm discussion, but dinner is being served.”

(10) TEA FOR 2(ND). Before reading Cat’s birthday, pour yourself a cup of “Second Breakfast – Chapters Tea”.

Small batch hand blended English breakfast tea with Marigold petals. Perfect for breakfast, second breakfast, elevensies, luncheon, and afternoon tea. Enter our fan drawn rendition of a realm where friendship, nature, and the simple pleasures of life come first. Inspired by, but not affiliated with, our favorite series with a ring.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born January 3, 1892 J.R.R. Tolkien. (Died 1973.) Obligatory preface — this is my personal encounters with Tolkien, so if I’ve not been up close with something say The Silmarillion than it isn’t here. And I haven’t with that work. Some works I haven’t read get included anyways as they passed through Green Man and have a Story attached to them. 

Tolkien in 1972.

J.R.R. Tolkien is one of the individuals who I always picture in the photo of him that must be of in his seventies with his pipe with that twinkle in his eye. He looks like he could be akin to a hobbit himself about to set down to elevenses. 

The Hobbit, or There and Back Again which was published by George Allen & Unwin  eighty-six years ago written for his children but obviously we adults enjoy as much, and so it is my favorite work by him.  Dragons, hobbits, epic quests, wizards, dwarves — oh my!  

I’ve lost count of the number of time I’ve read over the years, and the recent time, just several back as a listening experience showed the Suck Fairy enjoys it as much as I do.

I hadn’t realized until putting together this Birthday that all three volumes of the Lord of The Rings were published at the same time. The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers in 1954, The Return of The King the following year. I’m so used to trilogies being spread out over a longer period of time. 

Though I’ve not read the trilogy nearly as much I’ve read The Hobbit, and that shouldn’t surprise you, I do enjoy it though I will confess that The Fellowship of the Ring is my favorite of the three novels here. 

It was nominated at Tricon for a Best All-Time Series Hugo. Asimov’s Foundation series won that year. It did garner an International Fantasy Award first Best Series and the same for a Prometheus Hall of Fame Award. I’m more than a bit surprised that it didn’t get nominated for a Retro Hugo.

Now unto a work that I like just as much as the sister of Kate Baker, Kathleen Bartholomew, does. That being Farmer Giles of Ham. Kathleen, who now has Harry, Kage’s Space Pirate of a parrot, says “Farmer Giles is a clever, solid, shrewd fellow, clearly cut from the same cloth as the most resourceful hobbits elsewhere in Tolkien’s most famous universe.” It’s a wonderful story indeed.

We got in a custom bag from the United Kingdom that the USPS made me sign for so that HarperCollins UK could sure that all twelve volumes of The History of Middle-Earth got here. No, I didn’t read it, but I did skim it. Liz reviewed it for Green Man and here’s that review thisaway. A hobbit sitting down and having elevenses is shorter than it is. 

A much, much shorter work is The Road Goes Ever On is a song cycle and much more first published in 1967. It’s a book of sheet music and as an audio recording. It is largely based off poems in The Lord of The Rings. Tolkien approved of the songs here. 

Why it’s important is that side one of this record consisted of has him reading six poems from The Adventures of Tom Bombadil, than the first track on side two has him reading part of the Elvish prayer of “A Elbereth Gilthoniel” from The Lord of the Rings

I love Letters from Father Christmas which were originally written for his children. I see Allen and Unwin gave what I think was the better title of The Father Christmas Letters when they first published then collectively in 1976 which was more declarative. A local theatre group dud a reading of them some twenty years back — it was a wonderful experience as it was snowing gently outside the bookstore windows where they were doing it as we had hot chocolate and cookies.

I’m sure I’ve forgotten something by him that I like but I think that I’ve prattled on long enough this time… 

(12) COMICS SECTION.

  • Nonsequitur has a nice variation on the old Hans Christian Andersen tale.
  • Carpe Diem is a vision of the future.
  • Dog Eat Doug shows when the bark(er) is as fierce as the bite.

(13) BEGUILE THE DIAL. [Item by Steven French.] A call for more weirdness on U.K. TV: “Britain is plagued by bland, box-ticking television. Bring back weird TV” in the Guardian.

…Schedules from the 60s and 70s – the height of Britain’s TV weirdness –contained nuclear attacks, ghosts, war stories, brutal public safety films and intellectually demanding folk horror dramas such as Robin Redbreast, Penda’s Fen and Artemis 81….

(14) WOULD YOU BELIEVE…IRISH REUNIFICATION? Gizmodo reminds fans that “2024 Is a Hell of a Year in Star Trek History” with a slideshow that starts at the link.

A lot—a lot—happens historically in Star Trek’s 2024, crucially important events that go on to not just shape Earth as it is in the early 21st century, but form foundational pillars for the contemporary Star Trek timeline. It’s a year we’ve heard about, and visited, multiple times across several Trek shows. So what’s exactly wild about it? Well, let us take a look through Trek’s past to find out… and perhaps, our future?

(15) AI IN LAW ENFORCEMENT. “’Proceed with caution:’ AI poses issues of discrimination, surveillance” at WBUR.

There are many uses for AI as the technology becomes more accessible and normalized, but not everyone is excited about that premise. AI scholar and activist Joy Buolamwini is one of those critics. She’s the founder of the Algorithmic Justice League and author of the book “Unmasking AI: My Mission to Protect What Is Human in a World of Machines.”

She started her journey as a scholar enamored by the promise of AI. But her views changed when she tried face-tracking software and it didn’t work well on her dark skin. However, the software registered her when she put on a white mask.

Buolamwini questioned whether her problem was unique or would happen to others with dark skin. And she found that the data was skewed.

“The data sets we often found were largely male and largely pale individuals,” Buolamwini says.

This poses problems especially when AI is used by law enforcement agencies to identify suspects, assess whether a defendant will commit another crime, and assign bond limits or flight risk status. Buolamwini uses Porcha Woodruff’s story as an example. Woodruff was 8 months pregnant when she was mistakenly arrested for carjacking after being misidentified by Detroit police’s facial recognition software.

“We’re creating tools for mass surveillance,” Buolamwini says, “that in the hands of an authoritarian state can be used in very devastating ways.”

Buolamwini stresses that even if data set bias was addressed, accurate artificial intelligence could still pose problems and be abused….

(16) UNFORGETTABLE IMAGES. This Yardbarker slideshow might just live up to its title: “The 20 most epic moments in sci-fi movies”. At least, there’s a bunch of my favorites here.

Science fiction excels at pushing the boundaries of the possible, both in terms of the stories it tells and the methods by which it brings those stories to life. People often go to sci-fi films to see the world brought to life in ways new, strange, and sometimes terrifying, precisely because the genre is so adept at taking things in the present and exploring what they might look like in the future. Some of the best scenes in sci-fi films take the viewer out of themselves, allowing them to encounter something akin to the sublime.

In sixteenth place:

The assembling of the Avengers during the battle against Thanos in ‘Avengers: Endgame’

Throughout much of the 2010s, the Marvel Cinematic Universe was the franchise that couldn’t be beaten, and it had its fair share of epic moments. The pinnacle, however, was during the climactic battle against the genocidal Thanos in Avengers: Endgame, when at last, the Avengers and all of those who have been restored appear to strike back against the Titan. It evokes the moment in the first Avengers film where the beloved characters first united, and it is also a climactic moment for those devastated when so many were killed with the Snap. In the world of comic book movies, no one ever remains truly dead.

(17) ‘TIL THEN HE’S COPYRIGHT KRYPTONITE. Someday you may ask “When Do Superman & Batman Enter the Public Domain?” Yahoo! has anticipated your interest. First on the list:

When does Superman enter the public domain?

As per US law, 2034 is the year when Superman would be joining the public domain.

In 2034, fans of Man of Steel and a few other DC characters will be able to use Superman in their content up to a certain extent without being afraid of copyright, trademark, or patent laws as that’s when Superman will be joining the public domain (PD).

According to US law, a property introduced before 1978 makes its way into the public domain if 95 years have passed after its first publication. So, because Superman made his debut on April 18, 1938, in Action Comics #1, he will be joining the public domain in 2034.

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

Pixel Scroll 11/18/23 This Scroll Has Been Pixeled As A Tax Write Off

(1) LAST NIGHT’S DOCTOR WHO. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Last night we had the annual BBC Children in Need which is an annual charity TV marathon (which to date has raised over £1 billion). And in the mix Doctor Who was there.  

(2) BBC RADIO DISCUSSES BUTLER. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] The Exploding Library on BBC 4 looked at Octavia Butler with a lot of focus on the Parable of the Sower. It was superb. “The Exploding Library, Parable of the Sower, by Octavia E. Butler”.

Comedian Desiree Burch unravels Octavia Butler’s visionary 1993 novel Parable of the Sower and its sequel Parable Of The Talents, an eerily-prescient dystopian portrait of society in collapse after being torn apart by climate change and corporate greed – with a populist demagogue US president who rides to power with the slogan “Make American Great Again”.

Oh, and the story – pure fantasy of course, imagined by Butler three decades ago in the early 1990s – is set initially in 2024.

Now this all seems to Desiree just a little bit too close to reality for comfort. But is there hope – even optimism – beneath the surface of this chillingly bleak vision?

(3) TUBI OR NOT TUBI. Should be an easy question to answer now: “Tubi is Adding Every Episode of BBC’s Classic Doctor Who for Free” according to Cord Cutters News.

The Tardis has landed on Tubi. Viewers in the U.S. and Canada can now watch every episode of Classic Doctor Who and Classic Doctor Who: The Animated Lost Stories on the free ad-supported service.

If you plan to watch Classic Doctor Who in its entirety, be prepared to put in a lot of time. Doctor Who is the longest running action-adventure series in the world. Classic Doctor Who aired from 1963 to 1989 and has over 600 episodes. Tubi created a “New to Who” collection to ease in new ‘Whovians’ — a term coined by the sci-fi show’s legion of fans….

(4) CANCELLATIONS LEAVE FANS IN UPROAR. “Backlash as Netflix cancels five shows at once including its ‘best series’”The Independent has the story.

…Now the Hollywood strikes are over, networks and streaming services are having to make decisions about their existing properties, with it being expected that many might fall foul of an untimely axing due to rising costs after production on all projects was stalled while the writers and actors protested for fairer compensation.

Days later, Netflix has gone ahead and culled five shows, one of which was a number one hit and had a fervent fanbase that campaigned for a season renewal: Shadow and Bone.

While the first season of the fantasy series, adapted from Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse novels, did big business for Netflix – even spawning a video game spin-off – season two struggled to break through in a major way, which is believed to have led to the service’s decision considering the show’s large budget.

Other shows that will no longer return include animated shows Agent Elvis and Captain Fall as well as Kim Cattrall-starring series Glamorous and sci-fi comedy Farzar.

(5) THOSE WERE THE DAYS MY FRIEND. “Don’t let anybody diss L.A.’s reading habits. This was and is a bookstore boomtown” says a defensive LA Times.

It’s late 1937, and you’re F. Scott Fitzgerald, the once-celebrated writer, and you’re getting paid $1,000 a week, which, especially during the Depression, and even for the gilded coffers of MGM, isn’t toy money.

From your place at the Garden of Allah apartments on Sunset, in what is now West Hollywood, you might decide to amble the couple of miles to Hollywood Boulevard, to the Stanley Rose Book Shop, knuckled right up against Musso and Frank. There, you might find other scribblers, with names like Saroyan and Steinbeck, to share a convivial drink nearby; some of Hollywood Boulevard’s many bookshops are open almost as late as the bars.

Or you’re Ray Bradbury, and on a late April day in 1946 — April the 24th, if you must know — you head downtown, to Booksellers Row, centered on 6th Street between Hill and Figueroa. You’d get there by bus or Red Car, or on your bicycle, because you do not drive, not even one single block, not since you saw that gory accident about 10 years earlier.

You walk into Fowler Brothers bookstore, which opened in 1888 as a church supply shop, and by the time it would close its doors for good in 1994, it was the oldest surviving bookstore in the city. On that day, a brilliant and fetching book clerk named Maggie McClure caught his attention; Bradbury caught hers because she thought he was shoplifting books into his vast trench coat. They married not quite 18 months later…..

(6) CARTOON TRIVIA. Ranker harkens back to “Things We Learned About Nostalgic Cartoons In 2021”. (Which despite the title is a new 2023 post.)

From details about the voice actors, to insights into plot devices and influences – and even a few answers to enduring questions – here are a batch of facts we learned about nostalgic cartoons in 2021. Vote up the ones that are perfectly Smurfy!

Number One on the list:

Paul Winchell, The Voice Of Gargamel On ‘The Smurfs,’ Invented And Patented The First Artificial Heart

Actor and comedian Paul Winchell was a man of many talents; he was a ventriloquist and also an inventor, building and patenting a mechanical heart in 1963.

Winchell began voice acting for Hanna-Barbera during the late 1960s, notably appearing in Winnie-the-Pooh featurettes. As the voice of Tigger, Winchell won a Grammy for Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too in 1974. When The Smurfs first aired in 1981, he provided the voice for the antagonist, Gargamel.

While Winchell navigated acting and performing, he simultaneously invented and patented dozens of devices. His artificial heart design, which he donated to the University of Utah, was fundamental in developing the model that was used in 1982 for the first artificial heart transplant. 

(7) KICKSTARTER FOR VARLEY ADAPTATION. John Varley encourages fans to support Jean-Paul Tetu’s Kickstarter: “Thémis – The Next Frontier”.

Jean-Paul Tetu… has a small CGI company and is a fan of my work. He had been tinkering with scenes from my novel Titan, and you can see the results here.

I think it’s pretty impressive. Since this is a crowdfunding site you probably can see where I’m going with this. If you are interested in seeing my most popular work turned into a 6-part TV series, you can contribute. 

As of this writing, $5,882 of the $65,502 goal has been pledged with 32 days remaining.

(8) WESTON OCHSE (1965-2023). Weston Ochse died November 18, his wife announced on X.com. A recent update to his Patreon suggests he was waiting for a new liver.

Ochse won the Bram Stoker Award for his first novel, Scarecrow Gods, in 2005 and subsequently received additional nominations, Redemption Roadshow (2009 finalist for the Bram Stoker Award for Long Fiction); The Crossing of Aldo Ray (2010 finalist for the Bram Stoker Award for Short Fiction); Multiplex Fandango (2012 finalist for the Bram Stoker Award for Collection); and Righteous (2013 finalist for the Bram Stoker Award for Short Fiction). He also won four New-Mexico Arizona Book Awards.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 18, 1939 Margaret Atwood, 84. Well, there’s that work called The Handmaid’s Tale that’s garnering a lot of discussion now. (Not my my cup of Tea, Earl Grey, hot.) There’s the excellent MaddAddam Trilogy which I wholeheartedly recommend, and I’ve heard good things about The Penelopiad. What else do you like of hers? 
  • Born November 18, 1946 Alan Dean Foster, 77. There’s fifteen Pip and Flinx novels?!? Well the first five or so were superb. They’re on Audible so I may give the three a re-listen. Spellsinger series is tasty too. Can’t say anything about his SW work beyond the most excellent Splinter of the Mind’s Eye which was the first Star Wars novel authorized by George Lucas. 
  • Born November 18, 1950 Michael Swanwick, 73. I will single out The Iron Dragon’s Daughter and Jack Faust as the novels I remember liking the best. Between 1999 and 2003, he had nine stories nominated for the Hugo Award and won at Aussiecon 3, ConJosé, and Torcon 3. His short fiction is obviously superb and I see the usual suspects have the most excellent Tales of Old Earth collection with this lovely cover.
  • Born November 18, 1952 Doug Fratz. Long-time fan and prolific reviewer for the New York Review of Science Fiction and Science Fiction Age who also published a number of zines including the superbly titled Alienated Critic. He was nominated for Best Fanzine Hugo four times. Mike has a remembrance of him here. (Died 2016.)
  • Born November 18, 1961 Steven Moffat, 62. Showrunner, writer and executive producer of Doctor Who and Sherlock Holmes. His first Doctor Who script was for Doctor Who: The Curse of Fatal Death, a charity production that you can find here and I suggest you go watch now.   He also co-wrote The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn, a most excellent animated film. He has deservedly won four Hugo Awards, all for Doctor Who
  • Born November 18, 1953 Alan Moore, 70. His best book is Voice of the Fire which admittedly isn’t genre. Though the first volume of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is very close. Pity about the film which surprisingly has a forty-four percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. Have they no sense of good film making? I’m also fond of The Ballad of Halo Jones and Swamp Thing work that he did as well. And let’s not forget that The Watchmen won a well-deserved Hugo at Nolacon II. 

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Tom Gauld adds a touch of Bergman here.

(11) TEXT COVERAGE OF SPACEX’S “SUCCESS“. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] “SpaceX launch attempt ends in loss of most powerful rocket ever built” at CNN.

… after months of rebuilding following an explosive initial launch in April, SpaceX made a second attempt at launching its deep-space rocket system Starship, but not all went according to plan.

The uncrewed Starship spacecraft launched aboard the most powerful rocket ever built on Saturday morning, but both were lost shortly after liftoff.

The Super Heavy rocket booster ignited its 33 massive engines and Starship experienced a safe liftoff. SpaceX tried “hot staging” for the first time, essentially a step in which the spacecraft separated from the rocket booster by blunt force trauma.

After hot staging, the rocket booster exploded in a fireball over the Gulf of Mexico. Starship initially continued on just fine before SpaceX lost the spacecraft’s signal and triggered the system’s software to terminate the flight so it didn’t veer off course.

Starship was intended to fly nearly a lap around the planet before returning to Earth, but data from this second test flight will be used to determine SpaceX’s next steps in making humanity “multiplanetary.”

The New York Times was also very kind: “SpaceX Starship Launch Highlights From the 2nd Flight of Elon Musk’s Moon and Mars Rocket”.

SpaceX, Elon Musk’s spaceflight company, launched its Starship rocket from the coast of South Texas on Saturday, a mammoth vehicle that could alter the future of space transportation and help NASA return astronauts to the moon.

Saturday’s flight of Starship, a powerful vehicle designed to carry NASA astronauts to the moon, was not a complete success. SpaceX did not achieve the test launch’s ultimate objective — a partial trip around the world ending in a splashdown in the Pacific Ocean.

But the test flight, the vehicle’s second, did show that the company had fixed key issues that arose during the earlier test operation in April. All 33 engines in the vehicle’s lower booster stage fired, and the rocket made it through stage separation — when the booster falls away and the six engines of the upper stage light up to carry the vehicle to space….

… According to SpaceX’s “fail fast, learn faster” approach toward rocket design, successfully avoiding a repeat of past failures counts as major progress.

However, the second flight revealed new challenges that Mr. Musk’s engineers must overcome.

Soon after stage separation, the booster exploded — a “rapid unscheduled disassembly,” in the jargon of rocket engineers. The upper-stage Starship spacecraft continued heading toward orbit for several more minutes, reaching an altitude of more than 90 miles, but then SpaceX lost contact with it after the flight termination system detonated….

(12) BLINDED BY THE LIGHT. [Item by Bruce D. Arthurs.] A post on Mastodon from Shannon Coffey linked to an Eye article reviewing Wheels of Light: Designs for British Light Shows 1970-1990 written by Kevin Foakes, about the tech and artists behind the light shows popular at music events back in the day. Besides being a pretty cool subject all on its own, the article also mentions one artist who created some of the color wheels through which projections were made was David Hardy, who I recognize much more readily for his many examples of space art. “The fantastic light trip” at Eye Magazine.

Kevin Foakes’ Wheels of Light: Designs for British Light Shows 1970-1990 is book nine in Four Corners’ Irregulars series, intended to present ‘a visual history of modern British culture’, writes John L. Walters. The arcane tale begins in the 1960s, when artists and designers such as Mark Boyle (Boyle Family), Keith Albarn, Five Acre Lights and Barney Bubbles made shows that would accompany performances in venues such as UFO and Middle Earth in London.

As underground music became more visible (and profitable) a small number of entrepreneurs started supplying the demand for light shows at gigs and discos. The companies they started – Optikinetics, Pluto, Orion, Light Fantastic – and their visual archives are at the core of this book, drawing heavily on the collection and recollections of Optikinetics’ Neil Rice.

(13) ONE-WAY TRIP TO THE HEAVENS. “Their Final Wish? A Burial in Space.” The New York Times interviews seven people to ask why.

There are two ways to contemplate the question Where do we go when we die? One is philosophical, ultimately unanswerable; the other is logistical. Humans, being human, have tended to see them as being intertwined: The many traditions we’ve devised for handling our remains are meant to honor the selves that left those bodies behind.

The seven people pictured here have chosen to send their ashes, or in some cases a sample of their DNA, into outer space. They have contracted with Celestis, one of a handful of companies offering such services. Celestis has launched 17 of these so-called memorial spaceflights since 1994. Some will rocket straight up and descend, some will orbit Earth, some will be sent to the surface of the moon and some will simply hurtle into space and keep on going. (Celestis sends its cargo on spacecraft undertaking unrelated scientific and commercial missions. Packages start at around $2,500.)…

(14) SURVEILLANCE CULTURE. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] “Campus surveillance: students and professors decry sensors in buildings” in Nature. “Privacy campaigners fear that the devices could be used for disciplinary purposes, and some universities have deactivated them after protests.”

Lengthy debates are talking place on many university campuses in many countries. A number of universities are installing ‘sensors’ (‘cameras’) in university labs and offices. A number of these were originally installed in 2020/1 to ensure CoVID regs were being adhered to.  Now, it seems that the reason is to ensure that university facilities are being used efficiently.  However some feel that the reason is more sinister and that evidence could be gathered for disciplinary purposes.  Others still say that some offices are empty for many days/weeks in a year because staff are out in the field, often in other countries, getting samples and data, so using the cameras for university space efficiency can be misleading.

The end of the article says…

Cory Doctorow, a digital-privacy campaigner who advises the Electronic Frontier Foundation, argues that you do not need be a COVID-19 conspiracy theorist to be concerned about surveillance creeping into the workplace. “During lockdown, we saw this fantastic acceleration of disciplinary technologies across all sorts of domains from employment to leisure. I am vaccinated, I have a QR code showing this on my phone and I believe in contact tracing, but I also think that it’s completely reasonable to worry about all this,” he says.

(15) BOOK LOVERS. “Is Reading the Hottest Thing You Can Do as a Single Person?” The New York Times went to meet some people who might answer yes.

One of the first questions men ask Angela Liu on dating apps is “What are you reading?” The question is a softball for Ms. Liu, a self-proclaimed lover of literature. “I really care about the human condition and emotions and stuff,” she said.

What she has noticed, however, is that many men aren’t into those kinds of books, and a question that may have been intended to screen her often ends up backfiring.

“I can’t stand dudes who just read self-help books or things specifically related to the job that they’re doing and that’s all they read,” Ms. Liu, 27, said on Friday at a book club for singles in Manhattan.

There’s something flirty and magnetic about a physical book that tablets and smartphones can’t really capture — the idea of meeting someone in a library, in the aisle of a bookstore or while reading on the subway, for instance, remains stubbornly high on the list of many people’s romantic fantasies. Although there might be more romantic activities a single person could do on a Friday night in New York City, very few beat potentially stumbling into your next bibliophile boo while surrounded by shelf after shelf of sweet prose.

“I love when people have bookshelves, because I just go there immediately and stare at what they have,” Ms. Liu said.

At a meeting of McNally Jackson’s new After Hours Book Club (tag line: “Read, flirt, sip”), single attendees including Ms. Liu gathered at the bookseller’s location in South Street Seaport, a former maritime hub turned shopping district in Lower Manhattan, for an evening of wine, beer and discussion about “Dogs of Summer,” a novel by Andrea Abreu….

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

Pixel Scroll 7/31/23 Have Space Suit, Will Accessorize

(1) SERGEY LUKYANENKO WILL BE WORKING ON THE RAILROAD. Starting tomorrow, Chengdu Worldcon GoH Sergey Lukyanenko will join a whistlestop tour of Russia “Book beacons of Russia. Reading August 2023”. The TASS publicity release says:

“Reading August” [is] a book expedition from Murmansk to Vladivostok, which will be held for the first time from August 1 to August 20. The book expedition will light up the “Book Beacons of Russia” in cities along its way.

… For the first time in history, a unique book expedition by train and other means of transportation will travel with a cultural program throughout Russia and cover more than 30 regions of the Russian Federation, including St. Petersburg, Moscow, Nizhny Novgorod, Kazan, Yekaterinburg, Tyumen, Omsk, Novosibirsk, Krasnoyarsk, Irkutsk, Ulan-Ude, Chita, Khabarovsk, Vladivostok….

In another news item, Sergey Lukyanenko, appointed by Putin to the Russian Federation’s Civic Chamber in April, was on hand when the group convened on June 20. He appears for about two seconds in the video report on the session here.

Sergey Lukyanenko, smiling, at left.

Finally, Lukyanenko is a judge in “The final of the literary competition ‘Project of Special Importance’ 2023”. What makes it “special” is that one of the entries was produced with ChatGPT and has made the finals.

The neural network reached the final of the literary competition for authors and readers of audiobooks “Project of Special Importance”. It is not yet known which text from among the finalists belongs to artificial intelligence, the [ChatGPT] neural network. The name of the laureate will be announced at the award ceremony in October in St. Petersburg.

The works of the participants are evaluated by science fiction writers Sergey Lukyanenko, Andrey Vasiliev, Vadim Panov, Max Glebov, professional audiobook readers and dubbing actors Kirill Golovin, Marina Lisovets, Dmitry Cherevatenko, Inga Brik and others. A total of 644 applications were received for the competition, 50 readers and 39 writers reached the final, stories in the genres of production novel, post-apocalypse, science fiction and cyberpunk were accepted for participation. The evaluation took into account the plot, intrigue, language style and emotional impact on the reader. The full list of finalists can be found on the website.

… The winner of the competition – the author of the text, who took 1st place, receives 250,000 rubles, 2nd place – 150,000 rubles, 3rd place – 100 thousand rubles. A prize fund of 400,000 rubles is distributed among the finalists. Among the readers, 10 winners are determined, who receive 50,000 rubles each.

(2) HELP SEATTLE IN 2025 WORLDCON BID RAISE FUNDS FOR CANCER RESEARCH. The Seattle in 2025 Worldcon Bid has formed a Base2Space team to climb the Space Needle on October 1 and raise funds for cancer research. The climb is 832 steps from street level to the observation deck, rising 0.1 miles high, or about 1/620 of the distance to space. They promise to take pictures from the top, showing the city which members of the science fiction community will have the chance to visit if Seattle wins the (so far uncontested) site selection vote to host the 2025 Worldcon. The black and white image shows what the Space Needle looked like in 1961, the last time Seattle hosted a Worldcon. 100% of donations go to the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center. Please give generously: Seattle in 2025 Worldcon Bid – Base 2 Space.

(3) ON THE STREET WHERE YOU LIVED. “Octavia Butler Avenue Designated in Lake Forest Park, Wash.” reports Publishers Weekly.

The city of Lake Forest Park, Wash., dedicated a section of 37th Avenue NE to science fiction and fantasy author Octavia E. Butler on Saturday, July 29. Admirers of the author, who died in 2006, can now walk a three-block stretch known as Octavia Butler Avenue, passing the midcentury modern home where the author lived from 1999–2006 and wrote her final novel, Fledgling.

Lake Forest Park city councilmembers Phillippa Kassover and Tracy Furutani led the initiative to establish the honorary landmark, which covers three residential blocks, from NE 162nd to NE 165th Street. In the shade of an oak tree at the dedication ceremony, Kassover explained that Butler had moved to the Seattle suburb because she “wanted a home with a garden from which she could walk to a grocery store and had access to a cultural center and a good bookstore via bus, as she did not drive.” (Third Place Books Lake Forest Park is a short walk away.)

Kassover acknowledged Butler’s visionary fiction, “her prescient warnings about authoritarian leaders, and her many accolades, including being the first science fiction author to receive a Macarthur Genius Award.” Furutani called Butler’s novels “more Orwellian than we might suppose,” noting Butler’s Afrofuturist and social justice vision. Butler wrote KindredParable of the SowerParable of the Talents, and the Xenogenesis trilogy, and received Hugo, Locus, and Nebula awards.

Those honoring Butler at the ceremony included Kassover and Furutani, along with Lake Forest Park deputy mayor Tom French, councilmember Semra Riddle, Clarion West science fiction and fantasy workshop writer Caren Gussoff Sumption, scholar Sheila Liming, and musician Terry Morgan, who befriended Butler after she moved to the neighborhood.

(4) MEDICAL UPDATE. Sff author Michael Flynn, who was hospitalized with an infection early this month, was released from the hospital yesterday he announced on Facebook. Good news!

(5) CHENGDU AND UNCANNY MAGAZINE. Michael Damian Thomas and Lynne M Thomas, Editor-in-Chief/Publisher of Uncanny Magazine report that Uncanny Magazine was invited to send a representative to the Chengdu Worldcon “on the convention’s dime, but none of our team will be attending the convention.”

Of course, notes Michael, “In the case of Lynne and me, we are no longer able to attend any conventions that require flying or are too far away from a children’s hospital due to our daughter Caitlin’s palliative care.”

(6) SLIP-SLIDING AWAY. AV Club explains why “Loki can’t escape Jonathan Majors in season 2 trailer”.

…. After fracturing the Sacred Timeline at the end of the first season, Loki has lots of issues, including the fact that he’s “time slipping.” Unfortunately, the Time Variance Authority’s repairs guy (Ke Huy Quan) can’t fix it, although he does make for a delightful addition to the cast.…

(7) POOL PARTY FOR MICHIGAN FALSE ELECTORS. Michigan’s Grand New Party PAC announced a fundraising pool party in Oakland County this week for the false electors facing felony charges. There is no mention of Michele Lundgren by name in the publicity.

(8) ABOUT TODAY’S TITLE. [Item by Daniel Dern.] Heinlein’s Kip Russell wanted interoperable oxygen tank fittings, among other things. Larry Niven’s Belters [[IIRC, notes DPD]]] had designs painted on theirs. What would you add to yours?

(9) TROUBLE IN RIVER CITY. McSweeney’s Internet Tendency warns about “Dangerous Children’s Picture Books That Could Be Lurking in Your Home”. Like this one —

The Giving Tree
A story of handouts. Flat-out socialism. Not to mention the climate-thumper extremism of giving the tree feelings. “Oh no, a tree is sad. It turns into a pathetic little stump. Whatever will we do?” Ridiculous.

(10) PAUL REUBENS (1952-2023). Paul Reubens, the actor and comedian who gained fame in character as Pee-wee Herman, died July 30 of cancer.

An Instagram released after his death quotes him: “Please accept my apology for not going public with what I’ve been facing the last six years. I have always felt a huge amount of love and respect from my friends, fans and supporters. I have loved you all so much and enjoyed making art for you.”

The Los Angeles Times’ obituary describes his iconic character:

…Accompanied by a talking chair and pterodactyl named Pterri, Reubens established his place in the pop-culture zeitgeist with a maniacal laugh, form-fitting gray suit and red bow tie while embodying the man-child who ran amok on Saturday mornings during the TV run of “Pee-wee’s Playhouse.” The CBS series aired from 1986 to 1990 and then yielded the big-screen adaptations “Pee-wee’s Big Adventure,” directed by Tim Burton, and “Big Top Pee-wee” in the 1980s. Stage shows followed in more recent years., as did Netflix’s 2016 follow-up “Pee-wee’s Big Holiday,” produced by Judd Apatow….

However, Reuben’s’ career was derailed by criminal charges, first in 1991 — he ended up pleading no contest to a misdemeanor charge of indecent exposure — then in 2004, when he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor obscenity charge in a plea bargain with prosecutors who agreed to drop charges concerning child pornography.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 31, 1932 Ted Cassidy. He’s best known for the role of Lurch on The Addams Family in the mid-1960s. If you’ve got a good ear, you’ll recall that he narrated The Incredible Hulk series. And he played the part of the android Ruk in the episode “What Are Little Girls Made Of?” on Trek and provided the voices of the more strident version of Balok in the “The Corbomite Maneuver” episode and the Gorn in the “Arena” episode. In The Man from U.N.C.L.E. “The Napoleon’s Tomb Affair” episode (SPOILERS), he was Edgar, who kidnapped, tortured, and repeatedly attempted to kill Napoleon and Illya. And failed magnificently. I watched a few months back. (Died 1979.)
  • Born July 31, 1950 Steve Miller, 73. He is married to Sharon Lee, and they are the creators of the vast and throughly entertaining Liaden universe. (And where would one would start? And go from there?  Do tell.) I was surprised though they’ve won both a Golden Duck and Skylark that they have never been nominated for a Hugo. 
  • Born July 31, 1955 Daniel M. Kimmel, 68. His essays on classic genre films were being published in The Internet Review of Science Fiction from 2005–2010 and are now in the Space and Time magazine. He is the 2018 recipient of the Skylark Award given by the New England Science Fiction Association. He was a finalist for the Compton Crook Award for Shh! It’s a Secret. And he was nominated for a Hugo for Best Related Work at Chicon 7 for Jar Jar Binks Must Die… and Other Observations About Science Fiction Movies.
  • Born July 31, 1956 Michael Biehn, 67. Best known in genre circles as Sgt. Kyle Reese in The Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Cpl. Dwayne Hicks in Aliens and Lt. Coffey in The Abyss. He was also The Sandman in a single episode of Logan’s Run. Though not even genre adjacent, he was Johnny Ringo in the magnificent Tombstone film. Likewise he was in The Magnificent Seven series as Chris Larabee.
  • Born July 31, 1959 Kim Newman, 64. Though best known for his Anno Dracula series, I’d like to single him out for his early work, Nightmare Movies: A critical history of the horror film, 1968–88, a very serious history of horror films. It was followed up with the equally great Wild West Movies: Or How the West Was Found, Won, Lost, Lied About, Filmed and Forgotten.
  • Born July 31, 1962 Wesley Snipes, 61. The first actor to be Blade in the Blade film franchise where I thought he made the perfect Blade. (There’s a new Blade actor though their name escapes me right now.) I also like him as Simon Phoenix in Demolition Man. And he was Aman in Gallowwalkers, a Western horror film that is really, really bad. How bad? It gets an eleven percent rating by audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes.
  • Born July 31, 1976 John Joseph Adams, 49. Anthologist of whom I’m very fond. He did The Improbable Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Dead Man’s Hand: An Anthology of the Weird West. He was the Assistant Editor at The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction for nearly a decade, and he’s been editing both Lightspeed Magazine since the early part of the previous decade. He is the series editor of The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy. Nominated for the Hugo many times, he won for the Lightspeed prozine at Loncon 3 (2014) with Rich Horton and Stefan Rudnicki, and at Sasquan (2015) with Horton, Rudnicki, Wendy N. Wagner and Christie Yant. 

(12) HORROR WRITING GENERATIONS. Brian Keene hosts a panel sponsored by the Horror Writers Association, “Back in the Day (part 1)”.

Back In The Day (Part 1) hosted by Brian Keene, he speaks with panelists about what has changed in publishing and horror fiction over the years… and what hasn’t

He’s joined by David J. Schow, John Skipp, Chet Williamson, and Douglas E. Winter. 

(13) OPPOSITE OF OPPENHEIMER. “Where are the ‘violet hues’ and ‘bath of heat’? Australian scientists review what Oppenheimer gets wrong” in the Guardian.  

Australian nuclear experts have reviewed Oppenheimer and say it is epic, intense and compelling – but not always accurate.

Its portrayal of the first atomic bomb detonation, for example, lacked the “violet hues” and heat wave of the real thing.

“Some characters even made comments like ‘quantum mechanics is hard’, which I disagree with – it’s only hard if someone hasn’t explained it properly,” says Dr Kirrily Rule, an instrument scientist who works with the thermal triple-axis spectrometer Taipan at the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (Ansto).

Rule gives Christopher Nolan’s movie about the Manhattan project four stars, saying it’s exciting and suspenseful but the science is “brushed over”.

“As a physicist watching the movie, I think they could have been much clearer on the science involved … I believe Nolan used such high-level jargon as a confusing element to the film intentionally….

In an article where people complain about making science look too hard, it’s comical to see this as the last line:

This article was amended on 28 July 2023. An earlier version incorrectly stated that the sound wave boom resulting from the 1945 Trinity detonation travelled at the speed of light.

(14) REVISED OPINION. Robert J. Sawyer, author of The Oppenheimer Alternative, immediately went to see the movie and gave it an overall positive review.

We saw Christopher Nolan’s movie Oppenheimer last night as it was meant to be seen: in 70 mm IMAX.

It’s a very good film; I recommend it. That said, is it the best cinematic treatment of the subject? No, that’s still the 1989 movie Day One.

And is Cillian Murphy going to win the Academy Award for Best Actor? No, I don’t think so; his is an awfully one-note version of Oppie, who was much more complex (and much more charming) than Murphy’s portrayal would indicate….

However, a week later he told his newsletter subscribers that his enthusiasm has cooled:

…For all of Christopher Nolan’s posturing that his Oppenheimer is an important film, and how, in his own words, it “poses the most unsettling questions,” he completely cops out, showing us only the Trinity test explosion in New Mexico and not the dropping of the bombs on the living, breathing cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Yes, Nolan portrays the famous moment in which Oppenheimer says he fears he has “blood on his hands” to Harry S. Truman in the Oval Office, but, in his film, we never get any real sense of Oppenheimer’s regret or of the horrors of nuclear war. Sadly, despite the IMAX format, most scenes in Oppenheimer aren’t very memorable either visually or emotionally.

(15) EARLY DISNEYLAND. Shorpy recently posted “Moonliner: 1960”. Image at the link.

Circa 1960, the TWA “Moonliner” rocket at Disneyland’s Tomorrowland in Anaheim, California. (With Richfield Oil’s “Autopia” in the background.) At 76 feet, the Moonliner was the tallest attraction in the park. This medium format transparency is part of a recent donation to Shorpy from the family of California photographer Mary Baum (1925-2012). View full size.

I remember that rocket. And the ride — which was a circle of theater seats around a circular screen. The “launch” was b&w film taken by a camera on a V-2.

(16) SECOND SIGHT. “Queen legend Brian May helped NASA ace its asteroid-sampling mission” and Space.com tells how.

Queen guitarist Brian May and Dante Lauretta, the chief scientist of NASA’s asteroid-sampling OSIRIS-REx mission, have collaborated on a book about the asteroid Bennu — and it’s not a PR stunt.

OSIRIS-REx snagged a sample of Bennu in October 2020 and is currently speeding toward Earth with the precious space-rock material, which is scheduled to touch down here on Sept. 24.

Unbeknownst to the world, May, voted the greatest guitarist of all time by readers of Total Guitar magazine earlier this year, had actually been hard at work for years leading up to the sampling attempt, helping to process images captured by NASA’s flagship space rock explorer to find a suitable landing spot on the treacherous surface of asteroid Bennu. The work proved harder than Lauretta and May had expected, as the 1,722-feet-wide (525 meters) Bennu turned scientists’ understanding of asteroids upside down…. 

OSIRIS-REx wasn’t fitted with a stereo camera. May, however, knew a way around this limitation, as he had previously produced 3D images of Comet 67P, the target of the Rosetta mission, and of Pluto as seen by New Horizons, by carefully selecting and aligning images taken by a single camera from different angles. 

The OSIRIS-REx cooperation, however, put the musician’s commitment to science through a test. As data from OSIRIS-REx started pouring in, the scientists realized that Bennu’s surface was not at all what they had expected and designed their mission for. Instead of mostly smooth, beach-like plains of sand occasionally strewn with smatterings of bigger rocks, they found a body covered in boulders that sometimes rose against the asteroid’s barely existent gravity in formations tens of feet tall. Understanding what the researchers were truly facing from the two-dimensional snapshots captured by OSIRIS-REx’s cameras was nigh impossible. And so May quickly got to prove his scientific worth.

(17) STUCK TO THE FUTURE. “This Fusion Reactor Is Held Together With Tape” at IEEE Spectrum.

…What sets CFS’s technology apart is its use of high-temperature superconducting tape, which is layered and stacked to create extremely strong electromagnets that will shape and confine the unruly plasma and keep the bulk of the charged particles away from the tokamak’s walls. The company believes that this novel approach will allow it to build a high-performance tokamak that is much smaller and less expensive than would be possible with previous approaches….

Daniel Dern asks, “Yeah, but would it keep the Ringworld from breaking?”

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

Pixel Scroll 7/14/23 Knock, Knock! Who’s There? Cthul.

(1) BUTLER’S NEW YORK PREMIERE. The New York Times interviews Toshi Reagon, co-creator of an opera based on Parable of the Sower. “Apocalypse Nowish: Singing the Prophetic Warnings of Octavia Butler”.

… It was the novel’s urgency, and the need to share it [Parable of the Sower] with as many people as possible, that prompted the composer and performer Toshi Reagon and her mother, Bernice Johnson Reagon, a founding member of the a cappella group Sweet Honey in the Rock, to adapt it into an opera — or what Toshi calls a “congregational opera.” “Parable of the Sower,” which has its New York premiere on Thursday at David Geffen Hall as part of Lincoln Center’s Summer for the City, includes a chorus made up of at least 170 community members from New York City’s five boroughs, making it the biggest production at Geffen Hall since its reopening in the fall.

Still, Toshi Reagon kept the music alive. When she and her band, BigLovely, performed at Reagon’s annual birthday concert series at Joe’s Pub in 2014, she closed her set with a few “Parable” songs. That’s where Shanta Thake, then the director of Joe’s Pub at the Public Theater, first heard them. Thake, who is now the chief artistic officer of Lincoln Center, recalled being “floored by the actual songs,” which ranged from folk to Black spirituals to protest music, and by their ability to teach “the power of participation in the work and in the world.”

She invited Reagon back the next year to present more of the opera as a work-in-progress at the Public’s Under the Radar Festival. And she committed herself to its further development, a pledge she kept in her new role at Lincoln Center and through the work’s many iterations as a concert, a gathering and now an opera.

Reagon has toured the world, spreading Butler’s ominous message through the opera and other platforms. In June 2020, she started hosting, with the writer Adrienne Maree Brown, “Octavia’s Parables,” a podcast in which they discuss Butler’s novels, one chapter at a time. And Reagon also created “Parable Path,” a series of community-based initiatives inspired by the opera…

Why an opera?

Neither one of us really writes dialogue, but we tell everything in a song. I remember my mom doing shows at DC Black Repertory Theater Company in Washington. I was a 9-year-old theater kid. And all of her songs were like opera. She called them song talks, and when she retired from Sweet Honey, she did a solo kind of song talking, and I would go and watch her work and they were really beautiful. So, I think that’s one of the reasons.

The other part is I like breaking up with things. I don’t know why they structured Western opera the way they did, but it makes sense to us that a story about journeying is a story about a lot of different voices operating together and finding their way to be a unit. We really simplified our story to Lauren’s last day [in her home near Los Angeles].

How did the community choir come about?

Last summer, we asked people: “You want to sing with Toshi? Sign up, and make your Lincoln Center debut.” It’s an all-volunteer choir. I had a series of Zooms so I could actively meet people. And these people are everything. There’s a dean of a college. There was a woman from Berlin who is working on translating Black books into these languages she knows how to speak. It was people coming back to New York and needing a reason to come back. There’s a cello player who was also a trucker.

We call it a “congregational choir” because if you had to build a congregation, you could do it out of these people. And nobody is getting paid money to come and sing, so the currency is different….

NPR also has a post about it: “Octavia Butler wrote a ‘Parable’ that became a prophecy — now it’s also an opera”.

(2) WATERSTONE’S DEBUT PRIZE. [Item by Steven French.] Some genre interest here with Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah’s dystopian novel Chain-Gang All-Stars on the shortlist: “Waterstones debut fiction prize 2023 shortlist announced” in the Guardian.

The prize, now in its second year, is voted for by Waterstones booksellers and open to all debut fiction published in the UK.

Though the prize is open to any debut novel written or translated into English, New York-based Adjei-Brenyah is the only writer on the 2023 shortlist who does not live in the UK or Ireland. Chain-Gang All-Stars, his first novel following a New York Times-bestselling collection of short stories, Friday Black, is set in an imagined near-future in which “gladiator” prisoners fight against one another for their freedom. Speaking about the novel in a Guardian interview, the author said America’s penal system was “a kind of poison that affects us, even if we’re not impacted directly. I wanted to speak to that.” LJ, a bookseller at Waterstones Haywards Heath, said of Chain-Gang All-Stars:“[It] made me feel every single emotion.”

…This year’s winner will be announced on 24 August. 

(3) CAFFIENDS. “Six Shots of Espresso” is a Good Omens Season 2 sneak peek.

Crowley and Aziraphale visit the neighborhood coffee shop, Give Me Coffee or Give Me Death, where we meet Nina, the owner. While Crowley orders his caffeine fix, Aziraphale finds that he’s the subject of some salacious gossip.

(4) A SECOND OPINION. George Scithers was the founding editor of Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine (1977-82) where he notably encouraged young writers. However, in later years working on Weird Tales he seems to have taken a much different approach. Cat Rambo tells about her bizarre experience trying to submit to that magazine on TikTok.

@catrambo145

I promise I will get back to the anthology and collection read, but in the meantime, here is a story about being a newbie writer back in the day when I had just gotten out of Clarion West. It involves George Scithers of Weird Tales #editors #weirdtales

? original sound – Cat Rambo

(5) OUT OF THE STARTING GATE. Camestros Felapton starts his review of the Hugo contenders: “Hugo 2023: Best Dramatic Presentation Long Form”.

You’ve got to start somewhere and as an avowedly lazy person, BDP:Long is a handy place to start. I’ve (sort of) watched them all and also none of the finalists really care very much, so I’m not ruining anybody’s happy time basking in the glow of Hugo recognition….

Despite the introduction it’s a pretty interesting review. Is Camestros related to Heinlein’s “The Man Who Was Too Lazy to Fail”? 

(6) SIMULTANEOUS TIMES ARCHIVE. Space Cowboy Books has compiled and released all 36 issues of the fanzine Simultaneous Times Newsletter (2020-2023), featuring interviews with SF authors, editors, and publishers, as well as speculative poetry, book recommendations, and more. Download them free here.

Simultaneous Times Newsletter Year One:

Cover Art by Austin Arthur Hart

Interviews with: Mari Collier, David Farland, Christopher Ruocchio, Sarah Waites (Queer Science Fiction & Fantasy Database), Brent A. Harris, Rob Carroll (Dark Matter Magazine), Jason Sizemore (Apex Magazine), Weston Ochse, Marie Vibbert, JW Stebner (Hexagon Magazine)

Poetry and writing by: Holly Lyn Walrath, Samuel Butler, Therese Windser, Robin Rose Graves, Jean-Paul L. Garnier, Kim Martin, Thelma D. Hamm

Simultaneous Times Newsletter Year Two:

Cover Art by Zara Kand

Interviews with: Tom Purdom, A.C. Wise, Cora Buhlert, Charlie Jane Anders, Sean Clancy (Planet Scumm Magazine), Holly Lyn Walrath (Intersteller Flight Press), Christina Sng, Chris Kelso, Akua Lezli Hope, David Schultz (Speculative North Magazine), Jeanne Cavelos (Odyssey Workshop), Kay Allen (Sword & Kettle Press)

Poetry and writing by: James Clerk Maxwell, Gareth L. Powell, David Brin, F.J. Bergmann, Arley Sorg, Gabriel Hart, Marie Vibbert, Richard Magahiz

Simultaneous Times Newsletter Year Three:

Cover Art by Austin Arthur Hart

Interviews with: Guy Hasson (Geekdom Empowers), Rachel S. Cordasco (SF in Translation), Andy Dibble, Tristan Evarts (Utopia Magazine), Dr. Phoenix Alexander, Justin Sloane (Starship Sloane), Jonathan Nevair, Adrian M. Gibson (SFF Addicts), Michael Butterworth, Todd Sullivan

Poetry and writing by: Renan Bernardo, Jana Bianchi, Rodrigo Assis Mesquita, Pedro Iniguez, Mary Soon Lee, Robin Rose Graves

And more!

(7) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman tells listeners it’s time for a ramen reunion with my 1979 Clarion classmate Rhondi Salsitz in Episode 202 of the Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Rhondi Salsitz

My guest this episode — my penultimate conversation while in California for this year’s Nebula Awards Conference — is Rhondi Salsitz, whom I met when I attended the Clarion Science Fiction Writing Workshop in 1979. This is the second time you’re getting the chance to eavesdrop as I chat with someone I met during that long ago summer, the first being Gene O’Neill way back in Episode 12.

You might have read Rhondi’s work without realizing it — because she’s also appeared under the names Charles Ingrid, Kendall Rivers, Sara Hanover, Emily Drake, Anne Knight, Elizabeth Forrest, Jenna Rhodes, Rhondi Greening, R.A.V. Salsitz, and Rhondi Vilott — and those are just a few of the pseudonyms under which she’s published over the past four decades.

 Rhondi’s first publication was actually one of the stories written while at Clarion, and was chosen by our teacher, Damon Knight, for publication in Orbit 21. (And believe me — we were envious! And some of us were even jealous.)

Since that time, she’s written so many books under so any names — not only science fiction, fantasy, and horror, but also romances, westerns, and choose your own adventure books — her prolific career has unfairly been overlooked, and I’m so glad I was able to get her to step out from behind the mask so you can learn more about her. Her series — include The Sand Wars (written as Charles Ingrid), Elven Ways (as Jenna Rhodes), Dragon Tales (as Rhondi Vilott), and many others.

We discussed her early missed opportunity to workshop with Octavia Butler, the terrible thing Tom Disch told her during their one-on-one meeting during Clarion, the animated series which inspired her to write her bestselling Sand Wars series of novels, why she feels she’s still standing when so many of our Clarion comrades aren’t, what caused a reader to write an angry letter to Dean Koontz about one of her novels, how she progressed from recognizing there was a problem but not knowing how to fix it to understanding what needed to be done, and so much more.

(8) DANIEL GOLDBERG (1949-2023). Producer Daniel Goldberg died July 12 at the age of 74 reports Deadline.

Daniel Goldberg, who produced all three The Hangover films, Space Jam, Old School and many others and co-wrote movies including the Bill Murray comedies Stripes and Meatballs...

Goldberg and Ivan Reitman collaborated for more than 30 years, working together on features including the animated Heavy Metal (1981); toon/live-action hybrid Space Jam (1996), starring Michael Jordan alongside Looney Toons characters; 1994’s Junior, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger as the world’s first pregnant man, along with Danny DeVito and Emma Thompson; … the 2001 sci-fi comedy Evolution, starring David Duchovny, Orlando Jones, Seann William Scott and Julianne Moore…

He also was an executive producer on a pair of animated TV series based on features: Beethoven and Extreme Ghostbusters.

(9) MEMORY LANE.

2007 [Written by Cat Eldridge from a choice by Mike Glyer.]

So let’s about Nalo Hopkinson. The first work by her I read was Brown Girl in the Ring, a stellar telling of Afro-Caribbean culture with its themes of folklore and magical realism. Midnight Robber and The Salt Roads are equally worth reading. Her short fiction is equally well crafted with Falling in Love With Hominids, her latest collection, being a great place to start.

So Mike’s pick of her works for our Beginning is The New Moon’s Arms which was published sixteen years ago by Warner Books. The cover is a montage of four photos, all credited on the rear flap; over-all design by Don Puckey and Jesse Sanchez.

It won the Sunburst Award for Excellence in Canadian Literature of the Fantastic and the Prix Aurora Award for Best Canadian science fiction and fantasy works and activities in English and French. It was also nominated for John W. Campbell Memorial, Mythopoeic and Nebula Awards. And she won the Astounding Award for Best New Writer. 

Now for this Beginning…

A CROWD HAD GATHERED AROUND MRS. WINTER. The commotion at the graveside vibrated with suppressed hilarity. Me, I wasn’t able to keep properly solemn. When my shoulders had started shaking with silent laughter, I’d ducked behind the plain pine coffin still on its stand outside the grave. 

I bit my lips to keep the giggles in, and peeked around the coffin to watch the goings-on. 

Mrs. Winter had given up the attempt to discreetly pull her bloomers back up. Through the milling legs of the mourners, I could see her trying desperately instead to kick off the pale pink nylon that had slithered down from her haunches and snagged around her ankles.

Her kick sent a tiny flash of gold skittering across the cemetery lawn to land near me. I glanced down. I picked up the small tangle of gold-coloured wire and put it in my jacket pocket for later. Right now, I had some high drama to watch.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 14, 1904 — Zita Johann. She’s best known for the lead performance in Karl Freund’s 1932 film The Mummy which also featured Boris Karloff. She wouldn’t show in another horror film for another fifty-four years when she was in Raiders of the Living Dead as a Librarian; her original career only lasted three years. She quit film to work in theater where she where she was a partner of John Houseman, her husband, who she was married to from 1929 to 1933, and with Orson Welles as well. She also taught acting to people with learning disorders. (Died 1993.)
  • Born July 14, 1906 — Abner J. Gelula. One of the many authors* of Cosmos, a serialized novel that appeared first in Science Fiction Digest July 1933 and then has a really convoluted publication history that I won’t detail here. It was critiqued as “the world’s most fabulous serial,” “one of the unique stunts of early science fiction,”and conversely “a failure, miserable and near-complete.” The entire text, chapter by chapter, can be read here. (*To be precise, Earl Binder, Otto Binder. Arthur J. Burks, John W. Campbell, Jr., Lloyd Arthur Eshbach. Ralph Milne Farley, Francis Flagg, J. Harvey Haggard, Edmond Hamilton, David H. Keller, M.D., Otis Adelbert Kline, A. Merritt, P. Schuyler Miller, Bob Olsen, Raymond A. Palmer, E. Hoffmann Price and Edward E. Smith.)
  • Born July 14, 1926 — Harry Dean Stanton. My favorite genre role for him? The video for Procul Harum’s “A Whiter Shade of Pale”. No, I’m not kidding.  He also played Paul of Tarsus in The Last Temptation of Christ, Harold “Brain” Hellman in Escape from New York, Detective Rudolph “Rudy” Junkins in Christine, Bud in Repo Man, Carl Rod in Twin Peaks twice, Toot-Toot in The Green Mile, Harvey in Alien Autopsy and a Security Guard in The Avengers. He didn’t do a lot of genre tv, one episode of The Wild Wild West as Lucius Brand in “The Night of The Hangman” and a character named Lemon on Alfred Hitchcock Presents in the “Escape to Sonoita” episode. (Died 2017.)
  • Born July 14, 1939 — Sid Haig. Best remembered as having a lead role in Jason of Star Command as the villain Dragos. He had one-offs in BatmanMission: ImpossibleStar TrekGet SmartFantasy IslandBuck Rogers in the 25th Century, and MacGyver. His Trek appearance was First Lawgiver in “The Return of the Archons”, and someone in casting at Mission: Impossible liked him as he had nine different roles there. He was Royal Apothecary twice on Batman, not a role I recognize. (Died 2019.)
  • Born July 14, 1943 — Christopher Priest, 80. This is the Birthday of the One and True Christopher Priest. Not that Pretender. If I was putting together an introductory reading list to him, I’d start with The Prestige, add in the Islanders (both of which won BSFAs) and its companion volume, The Dream Archipelago. Maybe Inverted World as well. How’s that sound?  
  • Born July 14, 1949 — Brian Sibley, 74. He co-wrote (with Michael Bakewell) BBC Radio 4’s adaptation of The Lord of the Rings. He also adapted The Chronicles of Narnia, and Titus Groan and Gormenghast for the same. Print wise, he’s responsible for such works as The Lord of the Rings Official Movie Guide and The Lord of the Rings: The Making of the Movie Trilogy. His only Award to date is a Sir Julius Vogel Award which is given by the members of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Association of New Zealand (SFFANZ) and the National Science Fiction convention for Weta Digital: 20 Years of Imagination on Screen.
  • Born July 14, 1964 — Jane Espenson, 59. She had a five-year stint as a writer and producer on Buffy the Vampire Slayer where she shared a Hugo Award at Torcon 3 for her writing on the “Conversations with Dead People” episode. She was on the writing staff for the fourth season of Torchwood and executive produced Caprica. And yes she had a stint on the rebooted Galactica. 
  • Born July 14, 1966 — Brian Selznick, 57. Illustrator and writer best known as the writer of The Invention of Hugo Cabret which may or may not be genre. You decide. His later work, Wonderstruck, definitely is. The Marvels, a story of a travelling circus family is magical in its own right though not genre.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) TRIVIA OF THE DAY. [Item by Olav Rokne.] If there’s one thing I love it’s science fiction. If there’s a second, it’s trivia. So we’ve been taking some time to go through the list of Hugo Award winners and finalists to pick out a few choice tidbits of trivia. Many of which, I’m sure the Filers will already know. But I hope to surprise them with a few of these morsels of trivia. “Trivia is Latin for ‘Three Roads’” at the Hugo Book Club Blog. Here’s one item:

The Hugo Hat Trick:
There are only three authors who have won a Hugo Award in each of the four long-established prose fiction categories (novel, novella, novelette, and short story). They are Fritz Leiber, Ursula K. Le Guin, and Connie Willis.

(13) HE DID IT WITH STYLE. [Item by Steven French.] In an exhibit of artifacts from the Sixties at York’s Castle Museum and representing the “style of the ‘60s”, I spotted this classic from a certain Mr Aldiss:

(14) CALLING FOR VOLUNTEERS. [Item by Hampus Eckerman.] Ok, this isn’t really news, but did you know that Vincent Price invented a dish called Dishwasher Salmon? As he was a master chef, I feel that this is something that needs to be tested by someone. Could some Filer help? Here’s the reference: Vincent Price in the Wikipedia.

…In 1971, Price hosted his own cooking program on British television, called Cooking Price-Wise produced for the ITV network by Thames Television, which was broadcast in April and May 1971. This show gave its name to Price’s fourth and final cookbook later that year. Price promoted his cookbooks on many talk shows, one of the most famous instances being the November 21, 1975, broadcast of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, when he demonstrated how to poach a fish in a dishwasher….

(15) THE VIEW FROM CHILE. “See world’s largest telescope come together beneath the Milky Way” at Space.com.

Newly released stunning images show that the Extremely Large Telescope is now halfway complete.

The images taken in June show the structure of the revolutionary ground-based Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) currently under construction atop the mountain Cerro Armazones located in Northern Chile’s Atacama Desert in extraordinary detail.When complete, the ELT will boast a 128-foot (39-meter) wide primary mirror that will represent the largest eye on the universe from the surface of Earth, able to view the cosmos in both visible and infrared light… 

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

Where to Livestream the 58th Nebula Awards

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association (SFWA) invites speculative fiction fans and creators to the 58th Annual Nebula Awards® Ceremony. The ceremony will stream live on Sunday, May 14, at 8:00 p.m. Pacific from Anaheim, CA.

During the ceremony, the winners of the 58th Annual Nebula Awards will be revealed (list of finalists). The previously announced honorees will also be presented with their awards: Robin McKinley (SFWA Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master), Octavia E. Butler (Infinity Award, posthumously), Mishell Baker (Kevin O’ Donnell, Jr. Service to SFWA Award), Cerece Rennie Murphy (Kate Wilhelm Solstice Award), and Greg Bear (Kate Wilhelm Solstice Award, posthumously).

Cheryl Platz. Photo Credit: Michael Doucett

Cheryl Platz will act as Toastmaster for the ceremony. Award presenters will join in-person and virtually from across the galaxy, including past Nebula Award winners, SFWA Board members, and other notable members of the science fiction and fantasy (SFF) industry: Jeffe Kennedy, Matthew Mercer, Gay Haldeman, Chinaka Hodge, Christine Taylor-Butler, Mur Lafferty, Michael Capobianco, Aydrea Walden, José Pablo Iriarte, and Leigh Bardugo. The ceremony will conclude with a surprise presenter for the Nebula Award for Best Novel.

The 58th Nebula Awards Ceremony takes place as part of the 2023 Nebula Conference, the premier professional development conference for aspiring and established members of the SFF industries. Its schedule of 50+ programming topics can be viewed here. Content is geared toward creators working in games, comics, prose, poetry, and other mediums of storytelling. Registrations for in-person or virtual attendance are available here, and they also include a year of access to the panel archive, opportunities to network throughout the year, and a standing invitation to SFWA’s Weekly Writing Dates, Romancing SFF, Connecting Flights, and Narrative Worlds programming.

[Based on a press release.]