Pixel Scroll 1/31/23 A Subway Named Moebius, Larryus, And Curlyus

(1) KINDRED CANCELED. Can the news get any worse? The Hollywood Reporter tells us “’Kindred’ Canceled at FX”. The drama was based on Octavia E. Butler’s 1979 novel about a young Black woman who is pulled back and forth in time.

Sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that the Disney-backed basic-cable network has canceled the drama based on Octavia E. Butler’s 1979 novel about a young Black woman who is pulled back and forth in time. Showrunner Branden Jacobs-Jenkins (Watchmen) is expected to shop the drama from FX Productions as he envisioned a multiple-season run for the series.

Reps for FX declined to comment.

Kindred debuted Dec. 13, launching all eight episodes of the drama that starred Mallori Johnson as an L.A. woman who is pulled back in time to the 19th century South.

…The drama, which streamed exclusively on Hulu, currently has a 70 percent score among critics on Rotten Tomatoes and a 51 percent rating among viewers. In his reviewTHR chief TV critic Daniel Fienberg said Kindred was “often effective, but key choices aren’t clicking.” (Hulu does not release traditional viewership data.)…

(2) FUTURE TENSE. The January 2023 entry in the Future Tense Fiction series, “Bigfeet” by Torie Bosch, is a story on “de-extincting a creature that (probably) never existed” —  about a rogue effort to genetically engineer Bigfoot.

It was published along with a response essay, “De-extinction and conservation: When introducing a new species goes wrong” by conservation researcher Challie Facemire.

… This fictional scenario has many real-world counterparts: In the 1920s, sport hunters released a dozen mountain goats on the Olympic Peninsula in western Washington state—the same region where some of the story’s Bigfeet are set loose. Like the Bigfeet, the mountain goat population grew out of control quickly. The goats have caused problems since, from eating sparse alpine plants to trying to lick salt off hikers’ clothes and gear—salt deposits don’t occur naturally in the peninsula, but the goats need it in their diet. As a result, federal and state land managers were forced to carefully devise a multiyear plan to relocate or extirpate the goats (including lifting some by helicopter to more suitable habitats)….

(3) KGB. Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present Jeffrey Ford and Marie Vibbert in person at the KGB Bar on Feburary 8, beginning at 7:00 Eastern.

Jeffrey Ford

Jeffrey Ford is a New York Times Notable author for his novel The Physiognomy. In addition, his eleven novels and eight collections of stories have garnered multiple genre awards. His short stories have appeared in a myriad of venues within the SFF/H genres and beyond, He has new stories coming out this year from Tor.com, Asimov’s, and a couple of anthologies. He is recently retired from 40 plus years teaching literature and writing. He lives somewhere out in Ohio in a hundred-and twenty-year-old farmhouse with his wife and seven cats, four dogs, and a turtle.

Marie Vibbert

Marie Vibbert is the Hugo-longlisted author of over 80 short stories, translated into four languages, as well as three novels, some poems, comics, and video games. Her first novel, Galactic Hellcats, was longlisted for the BSFA in 2021. Her latest novel is The Gods Awoke.

Where: KGB Bar, 85 East 4th Street, New York, NY 10003 (Just off 2nd Ave, upstairs). When: February 8th, 2023, 7:00 p.m. Eastern.

(4) MONTELEONE INTERVIEW RESURFACES. Hatchet Mouth Episode 158 “Facebook has AIDS w/ Tom Monteleone” seems to have reappeared if you haven’t heard enough toxicity yet today. It includes the insulting anecdotes referenced in yesterday’s Scroll.

(5) HARPERCOLLINS STRIKE. Literary Hub shares “Why I’m Still on Strike: Portraits from the HarperCollins Picket Line”.

…As the only union in the Big 5, we are in the unique position to push the needle forward for all publishing, not just HarperCollins—a weight and opportunity that isn’t lost on any of us. You can feel it in our picket line chants, in our weekly membership meetings, in our Slack conversations. It’s palpable—the outcome of this strike will determine if hundreds of brilliant workers will leave publishing forever, or if people will finally be able to see a future for themselves in an industry desperately in need of change.

We’re on Day 58 of the strike, with no idea of how much longer this will stretch on. I admit it: I’m terrified and exhausted. I also have never believed in our mission more….

(6) HAUNTED HOUSES IN SPACE. [Item by Ben Bird Person.] YouTuber Romancing the Gothic posted this video exploring “Haunted Houses in Space” through the films SolarisAlien, and Event Horizon.

(7) JEOPARDY! Andrew Porter was pleased to see tonight’s episode of Jeopardy! had an entire category, “Sci-Fi and Fantasy”. Some of the entries were too tough for the contestants.

Answer: This Joe Haldeman classic tells of William Mandella, who fights the interstellar Taurans for a really long time.

No one could ask, “What is ‘The Forever War’?”

Answer: A “Star Trek” homage, this colorful John Scalzi title refers to clothing soon-to-die crew members wear.

Wrong question: “What is a red shirt?”

Right question: “What are the red shirts?”

Rich Lynch, who also was watching, adds that “One of the clues was a head shot of GRRM.”

(8) MEMORY LANE.

1948 [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

In tonight’s Scroll, we debut a new essay series which is First Paragraphs. To start this off, we have the beginning of the Lensmen series by E.E. “ Doc” Smith which was chosen by Mike Glyer who says, “First paragraphs — it’s actually the first line  of E. E. ‘Doc’ Smith’s Triplanetary: A Tale of Cosmic Adventure that I love the most. It really sets the tone for what he turned into a six-book saga.” 

The magazine version of Triplanetary appeared in 1934 and only later was turned into a fix-up novel, a prequel that begins the series. Four of the Lensmen series as this would known as would be nominated for Retro Hugos though this was not one of them. 

The entire series is available for free from the usual suspects. And, I kid you not at all, there are eleven different audio recordings of Triplanetary

Two thousand million or so years ago two galaxies were colliding; or, rather, were passing through each other. A couple of hundreds of millions of years either way do not matter, since at least that much time was required for the inter-passage. At about that same time—within the same plus-or-minus ten percent margin of error, it is believed—practically all of the suns of both those galaxies became possessed of planets.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 31, 1923Norman Mailer. I never knew he wrote in the genre but he did. Ancient Evenings certainly has the elements of fantasy and The Castle in the Forest is interesting retelling of Adolf Hitler and his last days. (Died 2007.)
  • Born January 31, 1937Philip Glass, 86. 1000 Airplanes on the Roof: A Science Fiction Music-DramaEinstein on the BeachThe Making of the Representative for Planet 8 (with a libretto by Doris Lessing based on her novel of the same name), The marriages between zones three, four, and five (1997, libretto by Doris Lessing, after her second novel from Canopus in Argos), The Witches of Venice and The Juniper Tree would be a fragmentary listing of his works that have a genre bias. 
  • Born January 31, 1947Jonathan Banks, 76. First genre role was as Deputy Brent in Gremlins, a film I adore. In the same year, he’s a Lizardo Hospital Guard in another film I adore, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension. Ahhh, a good year indeed. Next I see him playing Michelette in Freejack, another better than merely good sf film. The last thing I see him doing film wise is voicing Rick Dicker in the fairly recent Incredibles 2.  Series wise and these are just my highlights, I’ve got him on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine as Shel-la in the “Battle Lines” episode, in Highlander: The Series as Mako in the “Under Colour of Authority” episode and as Kommander Nuveen Kroll in short lived Otherworld series. In SeaQuest 2032 also had for two episodes as Maximillian Scully. 
  • Born January 31, 1960Grant Morrison, 63. If you can find it, their early stuff on such U.K. publishers as Galaxy Media and Harrier Comics is worth searching out. Not your hero in tights materials at all. For their work in that venue, I’d recommend his run on The Resurrection of Ra’s al Ghul, all of his Doom Patrol work (and the HBO series is based on their work and is quite spectacular), Seven Soldiers and The Multiversity which is spectacularly weird.
  • Born January 31, 1962Will McIntosh, 61. Best known for the dozens of short stories he’s written that have been published in magazines including Asimov’s, InterzoneLightspeed and Strange Horizons. He won a Hugo for his short story “Bridesicle“ at Aussiecon 4.
  • Born January 31, 1973Portia de Rossi, 50. She first shows up as Giddy in Sirens which would I’d stretching things to even include as genre adjacent but which is definitely worth watching. For SFF roles, she was in Catholic Church tinged horror film Stigmata, musical Zombie comedy Dead & Breakfast and werewolf horror Cursed. She was Lily Munster in the delightfully weird Mockingbird Lane pilot that never went to series. 
  • Born January 31, 1977Kerry Washington46. Alicia Masters in Fantastic Four and Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer. Also played Medical Officer Marissa Brau in 30,000 Leagues Under the Sea. She voices Natalie Certain in Care 3. She also voices Princess Shuri in a short run Black Panther series. 

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Non Sequitur applies logic to the idea of colonizing Mars.

(11) WORD POWER. The Hugo Book Club Blog reviews R. F. Kuang’s Babel in “All Words In All Languages Are Metaphors”.

…This is a novel that uses the form of Regency-era historical fantasy to tackle themes of social justice that are at the forefront of today’s cultural vanguard in science fiction and fantasy. In short, it uses the cultural precepts of England at the peak of its colonial power to disclose and critique the social impacts of those systems.

It’s worth noting that although many American authors have attempted to mimic the style of period British prose, the vast majority have failed, often sounding affected, or pompous, or leaden. But instead of clumsy pastiche, Babel feels like a fantasy that William Makepeace Thackeray might have written. Kuang evokes era-appropriate ambiance and regionally-believable prose and dialogue so skillfully that we double-checked to see if she was born and raised in Hertfordshire or Dorset. (We strongly encourage everyone to read the “Author’s Note on Her Representations of Historical England, and of the University of Oxford in Particular,” which precedes the text of the novel.) It is especially gratifying that a book that is deeply concerned with language as a concept uses it so skillfully….

(12) MARVEL’S THIRD ANNUAL X-MEN ELECTION STARTS TODAY. Make your mutant voice heard! For the third consecutive year, Marvel is putting the fate of the X-Men in the hands of fans The 2023 X-Men election will run from Tuesday, January 31 until Friday, February 3. Participants can vote now at marvel.com/xmenvote. The results, along with the full new X-Men team, will be unveiled during the Hellfire Gala in Marvel comics this July.

For three years, the X-Men election has given True Believers everywhere the opportunity to determine the newest protector of Krakoa. In 2021, Polaris won the first-ever election and was featured in Gerry Duggan and Pepe Larraz’s X-MEN. And in 2022, fan-favorite Firestar was chosen to become the newest member of the X-Men, where she then took on a starring role in Duggan’s second year of X-MEN, with artists C.F. Villa and Joshua Cassara.

Once again, several nominations have been accepted to determine the final member of the new X-team. Only one vote is allowed per person, so read about the nominees below and choose wisely!

2023 X-Men Ballot Nominations:

CANNONBALL: One of the original “New Mutants,” the second class of students in the Xavier School, Sam Guthrie has come a long way. His ability to transform into a human cannonball, propelling himself with great force at high speeds while making himself “nigh invulnerable” has taken him from an awkward lanky teen to a married father who is both a former X-Man and Avenger! Why not rocket him to the front lines again?

DAZZLER: Dazzler first made it to the scene as a pop star, using her secret mutant power to transform sound into light as part of her stage show. Becoming a hero and joining the X-Men never dimmed her star-power, even as she learned to use her ability to dazzle as an offensive weapon. Since then, she’s been a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, a freedom fighter, mother to a time paradox, and a vampire hunter. Isn’t it time for Alison Blaire to reclaim center stage?

FRENZY: Superhuman strength, speed, stamina, agility, reflexes and durability have made Joanna Cargill a formidable opponent to any who crosses her. From her early days opposed to the X-Men as a member of Apocalypse’s Alliance of Evil, her time as one of Magneto’s Acolytes, and Mister Sinister’s Marauders, to her time on the side of good with the Jean Grey School, and eventually as an intergalactic ambassador with S.W.O.R.D., Frenzy has what it takes to tackle anything!

JUBILEE: Having joined the X-Men as a teenaged runaway, Jubilation Lee had been shooting explosive fireworks out of her hands into the face of evil for many years when she lost her powers in M-Day. Even so, that didn’t stop her from fighting for what’s right—first as a New Warrior using a power suit, and later as a vampire, going against every monstrous urge that came with that transformation. Cured of that curse and with her mutant powers returned, Jubilee deserves to reclaim her spot on the X-team!

JUGGERNAUT: The non-mutant stepbrother of Professor X, Cain Marko long ago claimed the gem of the ancient “god” Cyttorak, transforming him into the unstoppable brute known as Juggernaut. For many years he was a thorn in the X-Men’s side, frequently rampaging through their lives leaving wreckage behind. More recently, however, Cain has shaken off the evil influence of his dark master, claiming the power of Juggernaut under his own terms and making amends for his past deeds.

PRODIGY: Prodigy possesses the power of psychomimetry—a form of telepathy that grants him the skills and knowledge of those in his proximity. This allows him equal mastery of any skill—mental or physical—as those around him. His ability to retain knowledge from those sources makes him an even more formidable mutant – one who is brilliant at biology, computers, martial arts, and strategic planning. David Alleyne may borrow from others, but he is one of a kind.

(13) PLEISTOCENE PARK. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] A Dallas-based company believes it’s well on its way to resurrecting the woolly mammoth. They’ve targeting 2027 to re-introduce this “cold-resistant elephant“ in Siberia. Or, well, maybe somewhere else given the current political situation. “Woolly Mammoth Coming Back to Life by 2027: De-Extinction Details”.

…The woolly mammoth’s DNA is a 99.6 percent match of the Asian elephant, which leads Colossal to believe it’s well on its way toward achieving its goal. “In the minds of many, this creature is gone forever,” the company says. “But not in the minds of our scientists, nor the labs of our company. We’re already in the process of the de-extinction of the Woolly Mammoth. Our teams have collected viable DNA samples and are editing the genes that will allow this wonderful megafauna to once again thunder through the Arctic.”

Through gene editing, Colossal scientists will eventually create an embryo of a woolly mammoth. They will place the embryo in an African elephant to take advantage of its size and allow it to give birth to the new woolly mammoth. The eventual goal is to then repopulate parts of the Arctic with the new woolly mammoth and strengthen local plant life with the migration patterns and dietary habits of the beast….

(14) STEAM THEME. “New Universal Citywalk LA Restaurant Goes Full Steampunk Willy Wonka” reports Eater – LA.

Fresh off the buzz from the Super Mario Brothers-themed Toadstool Cafe, Universal CityWalk opens a new and immersive dining restaurant called Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen on Friday, January 27. This new spot took over the former Hard Rock Cafe and feels very much like a merger of steampunk industrialism cobbled together with the Cheesecake Factory — and sprinkled with plenty of Willy Wonka vibes to boot.

This isn’t a new concept for Toothsome Chocolate Emporium, since there are locations in both Orlando and Beijing, but it is new for Los Angeles. The entire full-service space, complete with a bar area and multi-level dining room, runs with its bigger-than-life theme to extremes and even offers an extensive backstory involving two live dolled-up characters named Penelope and Jacques that’ll rove throughout the eatery to interact with the guests….

(15) ON THE WAY FROM DC. In this video James Gunn shares his vision for the future of the DC Universe and the upcoming slate from DC Studios. “Chapter 1 – Gods and Monsters”.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, N., Rich Lynch, Olav Rokne, Ben Bird Person, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, and Chris Barkley for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 1/8/23 “Repent, Harlan!” Said The Pixelman

(1) COSINE COMMUNITY. COSine 2023, the Colorado Springs Science Fiction Convention, will be held January 20-22. Guests of honor include author Martha Wells, science guests Drs. Louise & James Gunderson, Experts in Robotics & Artificial Intelligence, artist Kyle Crutcher, a Retro-Futurist Potter, and special guests Connie Willis and Courtney Willis.

Their latest news letter also calls attention to the needs of their Artist Guest of Honor from 2020, Peri Charlifu, who is having some health issues. Although he (and his amazing pottery) will still be at COSine this year, it looks like he is going to be dealing with a lot in 2023. There is a GoFundMe running for those who’d like to help out: “Peri’s Medical Support Fund ~ Stage Four”.

In late December 2022, Peri shared with us that “I have been dealing with kidney failure for a while now. My last trip to the nephrologist was not a great one. She’s moved me into stage four renal failure and I’m looking at dialysis soon, maybe as soon as next year. I have some options, but in any case, it will mean a pretty big change to my life. Whatever kind of dialysis I elect to pursue, I will need some sort of surgery, and if I can get a transplant, I will also need major surgery. This will critically impact my work schedule, I will be unable to work in my studio and I will not be able to throw or do any type of kiln or glaze work. So I need to make as much inventory now as I can, so I have something to send to shows while I’m convalescing. Because of this, I will not be as active at conventions, in programming or in running the art shows. I hope you all understand. Thank you, I’m optimistic that I’ll eventually be OK.”

(2) ADVICE FROM THE STARS. The LA Review of Books says “Hurray for Inventing New Genres or Whatever: On Dr. Moiya McTier’s ‘The Milky Way’”.

LOOKING FOR a New Year’s resolution? According to Dr. Moiya McTier, the Milky Way galaxy has a few for you: “Ask questions about the world around you and find real answers to them. Decide you deserve better and fight to clean your sky of all kinds of pollution — trust me, I’m worth it. Or make beautiful art that people can talk about long after you’ve shuffled off your particular mortal coil.”

If that seems like a lot for one year, don’t worry. The Milky Way is on a tight schedule, so it has condensed a galactic lifetime of advice and insight into a compact book entitled The Milky Way: An Autobiography of Our Galaxy. “My telling you this story — my story — is a gift,” the Milky Way reminds its readers, “[i]t’s like Beyoncé taking time out of her ‘busy’ schedule to personally give you singing lessons.” But who is the Milky Way galaxy to invoke Beyoncé, tell us how to live, or, for that matter, talk at all? And why is it speaking out now?

McTier, the author behind the Milky Way’s voice, became the first Black woman to earn her PhD in astronomy at Columbia after majoring in astrophysics along with folklore and mythology at Harvard. She has since built a career in science communication and storytelling that includes collaborations with PBS and Disney. In an interview for this publication, McTier described the Milky Way as a “larger-than-life character” who “looks at us and sees a homogeneous group.” She elaborated that “the idea that there are different types of humans is absurd to the galaxies,” but to McTier, who grew up in a log cabin in rural Pennsylvania, this idea was a formative influence. The autobiography’s foreword reveals how, in a community that “had only ever seen a Black person on TV,” McTier looked to the sun and moon as her imaginary parents and emotional support system. …

(3) UPHILL ALL THE WAY. The Washington Post looks at “Why it took 43 years to bring ‘Kindred’ to TV”.

Fans and critics can’t yet decide on the success of FX’s take on Octavia E. Butler’s “Kindred,” calling it “thrilling” but “uneven,” “provocative” yet “skimpy.” But there’s one thing they do agree on.

“It’s about damn time,” said author and film historian Tananarive Due, echoing the long-bottled frustration of Butlerphiles who have been waiting patiently (and somewhat hesitantly) for one of her most popular stories to make the leap from page to screen. Nearly 43 years after the novel’s publication and 16 years after Butler’s untimely death at 58, “Kindred’s” arrival on Hulu last month was a result of political movements, box-office trends, and a bit of luck.

Since its debut in 1979, Kindred has been “optioned” — industry parlance for the nascent stage of adaptation — in one form or another. Almost 20 years later, celebrated playwright Branden Jacob Jenkins discovered the novel as a tween on a shelf at Sister Space, a D.C. indie bookstore centering Black female authors and stories. It’d be another two decades before Jacob Jenkins, the series creator, would see his interpretation of Butler’s work available to binge on Hulu. The process wasn’t just long, it was Sisyphean.

“I like to say it’s a miracle whenever a Black property makes it to the screen because Hollywood is very risk adverse,” explained Due, who has firsthand knowledge of the improbability of the book-to-TV pipeline. Back in the mid-2000s, Due pitched an adaptation of her novel “The Good House,” about family history entwined with a haunted house. During one such meeting, an executive asked if the Black characters centered in her story “had to be Black.”

“That’s what Octavia was up against,” Due said. “No matter how much her work was beloved, the gatekeepers were not looking for stories in the speculative realm featuring Black characters. No one was asking for that. Hollywood was always an uphill climb and a hard sell.”

(4) SPELL CHECKING. It’s a big trend — “Spellbound: why ‘witch lit’ is the hottest new genre on our bookshelves” — and the Guardian looks for answers.

Someone, or something, shadowy has put a strong spell on popular literature aimed at women, once cheekily labelled “chick lit”. This perky genre, packaged in bright covers, jauntily titled and so long a mainstay of the publishing industry, has been slowly transforming into something darker and rich with sorcery, with 2023 set to be a new high point in a growing “witch lit” trend.

“Witches are definitely a big thing, which is exciting and fun,” said Phoebe Morgan, a publisher at Hodder Fiction, “but it also has something to do with a sense that women’s rights are in danger of being stripped away again, with things like the overturning of Roe v Wade in America. These books are often concerned with pregnancy, abortion and abuse, as well as magic.”

Several big forthcoming titles in the adult women’s market are concerned with witches and witchcraft, with female persecution developing as a main theme. Next month, Emilia Hart’s much-heralded Weyward will hit bookshops, telling an epic story of three generations of women entangled with magic. But space around the bubbling cauldron is already crowded. Kirsty Logan’s Now She Is Witch will already have staked its place, with publication this week….

(5) FREE READ. Sunday Morning Transport offers a free story by Sarah Rees Brennan, “Tears Waiting to Be Diamonds: Part One”.

… “Make haste, my prince,” warned Hrim. “Your uncle has risen against your father and usurped the throne. Your father and brothers met axe blades in the dark, wielded by the lovers your uncle placed by their sides. Your sisters’ nurses were bribed, their defenses are breached. You’re the last hope.”…

(6) DOT’S ALL, FOLKS! Clive Thompson discusses “What I Learned About My Writing By Seeing Only The Punctuation” at Medium, and shared an online gadget where you can run your own tests — just the punctuation. (An item via Steven H Silver that dates to 2021.)

…I love this concept! And he’s right — when you look at those writers’ punctuation, you can see, in a quick glance, how different they are.

They’re also gorgeous graphics — you want to print them up, hang them on your wall, tweet them out. Calhoun himself was originally inspired by a series of posters that stripped out the punctuation of famous novels and arrayed them in a spiral. When I tweeted about Calhoun’s project last month it quickly spread far and wide — I realized that a lot of people find punctuation-analysis both revealing and beautiful….

Here’s what was distilled from a couple pages of my own fanwriting.

(7) MEMORY LANE.

1907 [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.] L. Frank Baum’s Ozma of Oz

Today’s essay is upon an extended quote from L. Frank Baum’s Ozma of Oz: A Record of Her Adventures with Dorothy Gale of Kansas, Billina the Yellow Hen, the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, the Cowardly Lion and the Hungry Tiger; Besides Other Good People Too Numerous to Mention Faithfully Recorded Herein. Yes, that is the actual title.  Forty words I believe. Somebody tell Scott Edelman.

It was published on July 30, 1907 by Reilly & Britton who published all of the Oz novels. It was officially the third book of Baum’s Oz series. It was the first in which Baum was indicated that there would be a series of Oz novels of which there would eventually be fourteen. 

The book was illustrated lavishly in color by John R. Neill. 

Did you know Reilly & Lee, the American publisher who was very desperate to keep the series going, selected Ruth Plumly Thompson to continue the series? So she wrote another nineteen, followed by three Oz books written by John R. Neill, two by Jack Snow and one each by Rachel Cosgrove Payes and by Eloise Jarvis McGraw & her daughter. Wow. 

It bears this dedication: “To all the boys and girls who read my stories – and especially to the Dorothys – this book is lovingly dedicated.”

And here’s the quote I selected which is a delightful look at lunch box trees: 

One was quite full of square paper boxes, which grew in clusters on all the limbs, and upon the biggest and ripest boxes the word “Lunch” could be read, in neat raised letters. This tree seemed to bear all the year around, for there were lunch-box blossoms on some of the branches, and on others tiny little lunch-boxes that were as yet quite green, and evidently not fit to eat until they had grown bigger.

The leaves of this tree were all paper napkins, and it presented a very pleasing appearance to the hungry little girl.

But the tree next to the lunch-box tree was even more wonderful, for it bore quantities of tin dinner-pails, which were so full and heavy that the stout branches bent underneath their weight. Some were small and dark-brown in color; those larger were of a dull tin color; but the really ripe ones were pails of bright tin that shone and glistened beautifully in the rays of sunshine that touched them.

Dorothy was delighted, and even the yellow hen acknowledged that she was surprised.

The little girl stood on tip-toe and picked one of the nicest and biggest lunch-boxes, and then she sat down upon the ground and eagerly opened it. Inside she found, nicely wrapped in white papers, a ham sandwich, a piece of sponge-cake, a pickle, a slice of new cheese and an apple. Each thing had a separate stem, and so had to be picked off the side of the box; but Dorothy found them all to be delicious, and she ate every bit of luncheon in the box before she had finished.

“A lunch isn’t zactly breakfast,” she said to Billina, who sat beside her curiously watching. “But when one is hungry one can eat even supper in the morning, and not complain.”

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 8, 1908 William Hartnell. The very first Doctor who appeared when Doctor Who originally aired on November 23rd, 1963. He would be the Doctor for three years leaving when a new Showrunner came on. He played The Doctor once more during the tenth anniversary story The Three Doctors (aired 1972–73) which was the last thing he filmed before his death. I scanned through the usual sources but didn’t find any other genre listing for him. Is that correct? (Died 1975.)
  • Born January 8, 1925 Steve Holland. Did you know there was a short lived Flash Gordon series, thirty-one episodes in 1954 – 1955 to be precise? I didn’t until I discovered the Birthday for the lead in this show today. Except for four minor roles, this was his entire TV career. Biography in “Flash Gordon: Journey to Greatness” would devote an entire show to him and this series. (Died 1997.)
  • Born January 8, 1941 Boris Vallejo, 82. Illustrator whose artwork has appeared on myriad genre publications. Subjects of his paintings were gods, hideous monsters, well-muscled male swordsmen and scantily clad females. Early illustrations of Tarzan, Conan the Barbarian and Doc Savage established him as an illustrator.
  • Born January 8, 1942 Stephen Hawking. Y’all know who he is, but did you know that Nimoy was responsible for his appearance as a holographic representation of himself in the “Descent” episode on Next Gen?  He also guest starred in Futuruma and had  a recurring role on The Big Bang Theory. Just before his death, he was the voice of The Book on the new version of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy radio series. (Died 2018.)
  • Born January 8, 1947 David Bowie. First SF role was as Thomas Jerome Newton in The Man Who Fell to Earth. He plays The Shark in Yellowbeard, a film that Monty Python should have produced but didn’t. Next up is the superb Labyrinth where he was Jareth the Goblin King, a role perfect for him. There’s a sixty scale figure from Hot Toys that is stellar. He shows up again in The Hunger later on as The Host. From that role, he went on to being Pontius Pilate in The Last Temptation of Christ, an amazing role by the way. He was in Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me as FBI Agent Phillip Jeffries, a role which was his last role when he appeared later in the Twin Peaks series.  He also played Nikola Tesla in The Prestige from Christopher Priest’s novel of the same name. (Died 2016.)
  • Born January 8, 1977 Amber Benson, 46. Best known for her role as Tara Maclay on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Her post-BtVS genre credits are scant with a bit of work on Supernatural, a Sci-fi Channel film called Gryphon, a web series called The Morganville Vampires and, I kid you not, a film called One-Eyed Monster which is about an adult film crew encountering monsters. She is by the way a rather good writer. She’s written a number of books, some with Christopher Golden such as the Ghosts of Albion series and The Seven Whistlers novel which I read when Subterranean Press sent it to Green Man for review. Her Calliope Reaper-Jones series is quite excellent too.
  • Born January 8, 1979 Sarah Polley, 44. H’h what did I first see her in? Ahhhh she was in The Adventures of Baron Munchausen! Let’s see what else she’s done… She’s been in the animated Babar: The MovieExistenzNo Such Thing (which is based very loosely on Beowulf), Dawn of the DeadBeowulf & Grendel (well sort of based on the poem but, errr, artistic license was taken) and Mr. Nobody.

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • That’s Doctor to you — Eek!

(10) APES THAT PULL RUGS. “Mutant Ape Planet NFT developer charged with fraud in Brooklyn federal court”, and the Brooklyn Eagle is there.

A developer of the NFT known as Mutant Ape Planet was charged in the Eastern District of New York for allegedly defrauding investors of $2.9 million. Aurelien Michel, a 24-year-old, French national who lives in Dubai, was charged with defrauding purchasers of his non-fungible token (NFT), a type of digital asset, of more than $2.9 million. Michel was arrested at John F. Kennedy International Airport on Wednesday night and appeared before Magistrate Judge James Cho on Thursday.

… Rug pulls have become a common scheme for sellers of NFTs, but this would be one of the biggest ever as it would potentially be bigger than the Big Daddy Ape Club, that allegedly cost investors $1.3 million at the time, the Baller Ape Club, that allegedly cost investors $2.6 million….

(11) IT’S NOT PRINCE SPAGHETTI DAY. No matter how saucy it gets. Vulture is delighted to report, “’Wednesday’ Season 2 Renewed at Netflix: What We Know”.

Get ready to dance, dance, dance with your hands above your head, Wednesday fans. The Jenna Ortega–led show has officially escaped Netflix’s one-and-done cancellation curse and been renewed for a second season. “It’s been incredible to create a show that has connected with people across the world. Thrilled to continue Wednesday’s tortuous journey into season two,” showrunners and executive producers Alfred Gough and Miles Millar confirmed to Tudum.com. “We can’t wait to dive head first into another season and explore the kooky spooky world of Nevermore. Just need to make sure Wednesday hasn’t emptied the pool first.” Below, what we know about the goth girl’s next semester at Nevermore Academy, straight from Enid’s gossip blog….

(12) ON SF CONS. [Item by David Doering.] A question to muse: are the decades of cons and the resulting con-fostered SR/F community why we won the culture war?

In terms of global culture, SF cons are a rather unique expression–amateur-run, passion driven–over other fields of interest. Yes, there’s been fraternities and clubs for all kinds of interests. But none seem to have had such an impact with what you and I have seen over the last 50-60 years. 

Going from the despised and avoided, con-energized fans now are the drivers of culture worldwide.  Interesting, no? 

(13) REVEALED FIGURE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Scientific American weighs in on the true meaning of 42. “For Math Fans: A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Number 42”.

The author’s choice of the number 42 has become a fixture of geek culture. It’s at the origin of a multitude of jokes and winks exchanged between initiates. If, for example, you ask your search engine variations of the question “What is the answer to everything?” it will most likely answer “42.” Try it in French or German. You’ll often get the same answer whether you use Google, Qwant, Wolfram Alpha (which specializes in calculating mathematical problems) or the chat bot Web app Cleverbot.

Since the first such school was created in France in 2013 there has been a proliferation of private computer-training institutions in the “42 Network,” whose name is a clear allusion to Adams’s novels. Today the founding company counts more than 15 campuses in its global network. The number 42 also appears in different forms in the film Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. Many other references and allusions to it can be found, for example, in the Wikipedia entry for “42 (number).”

The number 42 also turns up in a whole string of curious coincidences whose significance is probably not worth the effort to figure out. For example:

In ancient Egyptian mythology, during the judgment of souls, the dead had to declare before 42 judges that they had not committed any of 42 sins.

The marathon distance of 42.195 kilometers corresponds to the legend of how far the ancient Greek messenger Pheidippides traveled between Marathon and Athens to announce victory over the Persians in 490 B.C. (The fact that the kilometer had not yet been defined at that time only makes the connection all the more astonishing.)…

(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Ryan George takes us inside the “Clash of the Titans Pitch Meeting” – which begins by straightening out the boss about the fact that there are no Titans in the movie.

[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Todd Mason, Jennifer Hawthorne, David Doering, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Tom Becker.]

Pixel Scroll 1/3/23 Pixel Scroll: I Was Deleted You Won The War; Pixel Scroll: Promise To Read You For Ever More

(1) HONORING OCTAVIA. “Pasadena’s Getting A Bookstore Named For Sci-Fi Author Octavia Butler”LAist has the good news.

Pasadena is set to get another independent bookstore: Octavia’s Bookshelf. Owner Nikki High said she hopes to highlight authors who are Black, Indigenous, and other people of color.

High chose the name as a tribute to Pasadena native, science-fiction author and MacArthur fellow Octavia Butler who died in 2006….

 “She was the first Black sci-fi writer that I read, and it was the first time that I saw Black people in the future,” High said.

… Octavia’s Bookshelf is scheduled to open by mid-to-late February. The bookstore will be located north of the 210 Freeway at 1361 North Hill Avenue.

(2) HUNGARY’S BEST SF. [Item by Bence Pintér.] I was happy to find this English review about the best Hungarian SF novel of 2021: “A Sci-fi Built on Linguistics” at Hungarian Literature Online.

Katalin Baráth took risks on several levels with her new novel Aphasia. First, she didn’t continue the story of Veron Dávid, the saleswoman from Ókanizsa (The Black Piano, The Turquoise Violin, The Ember Harp, The Golden Cimbalom), with which she had built up her considerable fan base, though she had already broken up that series with the thriller Archangel in the Night. Second, she didn’t go with traditional hard science fiction, say nuclear physics, but with a soft sci-fi to which she can more easily relate, a sci-fi built on linguistics, like China Miéville’s Embassytown. And third, she centered the Hungarian language itself; Baráth didn’t use a made-up or artificial language, but elevated the Hungarian language to a cult status in her fictional universe….

(3) REMAINS OF THE DAY. Alec Nevala-Lee has a new piece in the New York Times Book Review on the author R.C. Sherriff, his Thirties SF novel The Hopkins Manuscript, and its influence on what Brian Aldiss called “the cozy catastrophe.” “In the ‘Cozy Catastrophe’ Novel, the End of the World Is Not So Bad”.

… “The Hopkins Manuscript” opens with a foreword by the Imperial Research Press of Addis Ababa, which states that the text that follows was discovered in a thermos flask “in the ruins of Notting Hill.” More than 800 years have passed since an unspecified cataclysm caused the end of Western civilization, and all records of Britain since the time of Julius Caesar have been lost, apart from a few stray fragments, such as a tablet commemorating the dedication of a public swimming pool in North London. Scholars of ancient history, the foreword notes, hoped that the manuscript would shed light on England’s final days, but they were disappointed to find nothing but the testament of “a man of such unquenchable self-esteem and limited vision that his narrative becomes almost valueless to the scientist and historian.”

As the story begins, the reader has little reason to question this statement. Edgar Hopkins is a retired schoolmaster in his early 50s who lives on an estate near the village of Beadle, where he breeds chickens for poultry shows. As an associate member of the British Lunar Society, he is among the first to hear the news that the moon is expected to collide with the earth in just under seven months. The science of the looming disaster is left deliberately vague — the moon’s departure from its habitual orbit is attributed to “some gigantic force” — and Hopkins is unable to believe that anything bad will really occur: “My vanity persuaded me that God would never permit the world to end until I personally had finished with it.”…

(4) TRAVELERS FROM CHINA AND COVID TESTING. “China vows ‘countermeasures’ to ‘unacceptable’ new COVID restrictions on Chinese travelers” reports CBS News. They have not said what those “countermeasures” will be.

The Chinese government has blasted COVID-19 testing requirements imposed on passengers from China and threatened countermeasures against countries involved, which include the U.S. and several European nations.

… The comments were China’s sharpest to date on the issue. Australia and Canada this week joined a growing list of countries requiring travelers from China to take a COVID-19 test prior to boarding their flight, as China battles a nationwide outbreak of the coronavirus after abruptly easing restrictions that were in place for much of the pandemic.

Other countries including the U.S., U.K., India, Japan and several European nations have announced tougher COVID-19 measures on travelers from China amid concerns over a lack of data on infections in China and fears of the possibility that new variants may emerge…. 

(5) MEDICAL UPDATE. The Daily Beast adds details as “Jeremy Renner Shares Photo From Hospital Bed After Snowplow Accident”. Renner’s Instagram photo is here.

In his first post to social media since he was run over by his snowplow on New Year’s Day, Marvel actor Jeremy Renner thanked fans and friends for their support in the wake of what authorities called “a tragic accident.” On Instagram, the 51-year-old posted a photo of himself in a hospital bed sporting visible facial injuries, including scrapes and a swollen eye. “Thank you all for your kind words,” he wrote in the accompanying caption. “Im too messed up now to type. But I send love to you all.” A representative for the Hawkeye star confirmed on Tuesday afternoon that Renner was “making positive progress and is awake, talking and in good spirits,” reiterating that he remained in the intensive care unit in critical but stable condition. “He is overwhelmed by the showing of love and support,” the spokesperson continued. “The family asks for your continued thoughts while he heals with his close loved ones.” The Washoe County Sheriff provided more details on the incident on Tuesday, saying that Renner had just rescued a stranded family member when his 14,330-pound snowcat began to roll as he tried to climb back inside the driver’s cab. Sheriff Darin Balaam emphasized that Renner was not “impaired” at the time of the incident.

(6) WELCOMED TO PUBLIC DOMAIN IN 2023. “Sherlock Holmes joins a first Oscar winner and the ‘ice cream’ song in the public domain”CNN gives a rundown on what’s been released from copyright this year. Several of the notable works entering the public domain in the US this year are genre or genre adjacent, most notably the movie Metropolis

A Sherlock Holmes collection, the first film to win the Oscars’ top prize and a classic ditty by Irving Berlin are among the thousands of books, films and musical compositions entering the US public domain in 2023.

When a piece of art enters the public domain, it means no one holds the copyright to it. Anyone can broadcast, consume or reimagine these works without having to pay royalties. Books, films and artworks in the public domain are also often more easily distributed and sometimes free to consume.

Among the most famous of this year’s crop are “The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes,” which decisively ends a decades-long saga of Arthur Conan Doyle’s estate attempting to curb use of the character by other authors, the wartime romance “Wings” and Berlin’s “Puttin’ On the Ritz.”…

(7) HEAR FROM AUTHOR NEVAIR. Space Cowboy Books will host an online reading and interview with Jonathan Nevair, author of Stellar Instinct, on Tuesday, January 24 at 6:00 p.m. Pacific. Register for free here. Get your copy of Stellar Instinct here

A secret agent. A gaming mastermind. Two players in a dangerous competition blurring the boundaries of entertainment and reality. Mysterious signals pulse from an icy planet in a remote star system. GAM-OPs wants answers. Enter Lilline Renault, secret agent extraordinaire. To ordinary citizens she’s Keely Larkin, an adventure company guide with a flair for the daring and a penchant for writing trite poetry. Lilline’s at the top of the spy game, but publishing her literary work is proving harder than saving the galaxy. When the mission uncovers a dastardly plan threatening billions of lives, Lilline leaps into action. Verses flow as she rockets through space, dons cunning disguises, and infiltrates enemy territory with an arsenal of secret gadgets. But to prevent the whims of a self-obsessed entrepreneur from turning the galaxy into a deadly playground means beating him at his own game. Lilline will need her best weapon to stand a fighting chance: her instinct. STELLAR INSTINCT: A spy-fi thriller set in space.

(8) WALTER CUNNINGHAM (1932-2023). The last surviving Apollo 7 astronaut, Walter Cunningham, died January 3.

…The Apollo 7 mission launched in 1968 and lasted roughly 11 days, sending the crew on a journey into orbit that amounted to a test flight that could demonstrate the Apollo capsule’s ability to rendezvous with another spacecraft in orbit and pave the way for future exploration deeper into space. It was also notable for featuring in the first live TV broadcast of Americans from space, according to NASA.

Cunningham was the last surviving member of the Apollo 7 crew, which also included astronauts Wally Schirra and Donn Eisele….

(9) MEMORY LANE.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

“Now we are all here!” said Gandalf, looking at the row of thirteen hoods—the best detachable party hoods—and his own hat hanging on the pegs. “Quite a merry gathering! I hope there is something left for the late-comers to eat and drink! What’s that? Tea! No thank you! A little red wine, I think for me.”
“And for me,” said Thorin.
“And raspberry jam and apple-tart,” said Bifur.
“And mince-pies and cheese,” said Bofur.
“And pork-pie and salad,” said Bombur.
“And more cakes—and ale—and coffee, if you don’t mind,” called the other dwarves through the door.
“Put on a few eggs, there’s a good fellow!” Gandalf called after him, as the hobbit stumped off to the pantries. “And just bring out the cold chicken and pickles!”
“Seems to know as much about the inside of my larders as I do myself!”

— J.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit

Our author tells us that Hobbits are fond of six meals a day, including two dinners, if they can get it, while in the Prologue to The Lord of the Rings, he notes, they “eat, and drink, often and heartily, and growing food and eating it occupied most of their time.”

These meals are Breakfast at 7 a.m., Second Breakfast  at 9 a.m., Elevenses at 11 a.m., Luncheon at 1 p.m., Afternoon Tea at 3 p.m., Dinner at 6 p.m., and finally Supper at 9 p.m.

Jackson’s The Fellowship of The Ring film for no reason what-so-ever mentions that second breakfast exists, saying that hobbits eat seven meals throughout each day. Why they did this is unknown. Another example of Jackson messing with Tolkien’s writings for no damn good reason. 

Fans of the books have recreated these meals included the elevenses. One site had this for its menu — Elven lembas bread, Bread pudding with cinnamon, Lavender and lemon muffins,  Strawberry shortcake with cream, caraway seed cake and lemon tea cake. And lots of tea with heavy cream of course. 

As Thorin said, “If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world. But, sad or merry, I must leave it now. Farewell.”  

Hildebrandt 1977 Tolkien calendar, “An Unexpected Party.”

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 3, 1892 J.R.R. Tolkien. So what was the first work by him you read? For me, it was The Hobbit which I fell in love with and still find terribly engaging in a way that I don’t, and no throwing rocks please, find The Lord of The Rings. I think it’s that it’s far me easier to lose myself in the work and enjoy what happens than struggle through the story of the latter. I’m also fond of The Road Goes Ever On, a song cycle taken from The Lord of The RingsThe Father Christmas Letters which a local Theater group enacted one year, and The Monsters and the Critics, and Other Essays. (Died 1973.)
  • Born January 3, 1937 Glen A. Larson. Triple hitter as a producer, writer and director. Involved in Battlestar GalacticaGalactica 1980The Six Million Dollar Man, Manimal (no, really don’t ask), Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, and Knight Rider. He also was responsible for Magnum, P.I. which I love but I’ll be damned if I can figure anyway to claim that’s even genre adjacent thought I think one of you will figure a way. He also did a lot of Battlestar Galactica novels, some with Ron Goulart. (Died 2014.)
  • Born January 3, 1940 Kinuko Y. Craft,  83. She is a Japanese-born American painter, illustrator and fantasy artist. True enough. So why is she here? Because she had an amazing run of illustrating the covers of the Patricia McKillip novels until quite recently. I’m linking here to our review at Green Man of The Bards of Bone Plain for a favorite cover of mine she did. There’s a slim volume on Imaginosis called Drawings & Paintings which collects some of her work which Green Man reviews here. She was a guest of honor of the 2016 Worldcon.
  • Born January 3, 1975 Danica McKellar, 48. From 2010–2013 and since 2018, she’s voiced Miss Martian in the Young Justice series. It’s just completed its fourth season and it’s most excellent! She’s done far, far more voice work than I can list here, so if you’ve got something you like that she’s done, do mention it.
  • Born January 3, 1976 Charles Yu, 47. Taiwanese American writer. Author of the most excellent How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe and the short-story collections, Sorry Please Thank You and Third Class Superhero. His novel was ranked the year’s second-best science fiction novel by the Center for the Study of Science Fiction at the University of Kansas — runner up for the Campbell Memorial Award.
  • Born January 3, 1984 Brooke Williams, 39. For recurring roles, she’s been Catania in The Shannara Chronicles and Hannah in 12 Monkeys. She had a recurring also as Jennsen Rahl on Legend of the Seeker which is off novels by Terry Goodkind. She also played Hermia in A Midsummer Night’s Dream at  the Globe Theatre In London. Remember we agreed this was fantasy. Indeed she’s been in Sleeping Beauty and Jack and the Beanstalk, both in New Zealand productions! 

(11) B&N REBOUNDS. “What Can We Learn from Barnes & Noble’s Surprising Turnaround?” – Ted Gioia says quality decisions at the top by CEO James Daunt were the starting point.

…This is James Daunt’s super power: He loves books.

“Staff are now in control of their own shops,” he explained. “Hopefully they’re enjoying their work more. They’re creating something very different in each store.”

This crazy strategy proved so successful at Waterstones, that returns fell almost to zero—97% of the books placed on the shelves were purchased by customers. That’s an amazing figure in the book business.

On the basis of this success, Daunt was put in charge of Barnes & Noble in August 2019. But could he really bring that dinosaur, on the brink of extinction, back to life?

The timing was awful. The COVID pandemic hurt all retailing, especially for discretionary items like books. Even worse, the Barnes & Noble stores were, in Daunt’s own words, “crucifyingly boring.”

But Daunt used the pandemic as an opportunity to “weed out the rubbish” in the stores. He asked employees in the outlets to take every book off the shelf, and re-evaluate whether it should stay. Every section of the store needed to be refreshed and made appealing.

As this example makes clear, Daunt started giving more power to the stores. But publishers complained bitterly. They now had to make more sales calls, and convince local bookbuyers—and that’s hard work. Even worse, when a new book doesn’t live up to expectations, the local workers see this immediately. Books are expected to appeal to readers—and just convincing a head buyer at headquarters was no longer enough.

Daunt also refused to dumb-down the store offerings. The key challenge, he claimed was to “create an environment that’s intellectually satisfying—and not in a snobbish way, but in the sense of feeding your mind.”

That’s an extraordinary thing to hear from a corporate CEO. Daunt wanted to run a bookstore that was “intellectually satisfying” and “feeds your mind.” The first time I heard an interview with him, I decided I trusted James Daunt. I wanted him to succeed. But the odds seemed stacked against him.

Then it started to happen—book sales at Barnes & Noble began rising again….

(12) ICE, NEIN. “A ‘Titanic’ Parody Show That Draws Fans Near, Far, Wherever They Are” – the New York Times tries to figure out why it’s a hit.

… And then: The woman they were waiting for arrived.

“It is me, Celine Dion,” said Marla Mindelle, one of the writers and stars of the “Titanic” musical parody show “Titanique,” casting aside a black garbage bag cloak to reveal a shimmering gold gown — a nod to the witch’s entrance from “Into the Woods” — and sashaying her way to the stage to a tidal wave of applause….

…Part of the appeal, said Ty Hanes, 29, a musical theater actor who has gone 13 times, is that no two performances are the same. He looks forward to seeing what Mindelle will do in the five-minute scene between Rose and Jack that she improvises every night (some of his favorites: a bit about a toenail falling off and a riff on Spam, the tinned pork product).

“You can tell they just have a blast changing stuff up a bit every night,” he said.

“Sometimes it really works, and sometimes it doesn’t,” Mindelle said.

“No, it does,” Rousouli said. “It always lands.”

Unlike a Broadway musical like “Wicked,” in which the script does not change after the show opens, Rousouli said, they tweak the show weekly — sometimes daily — to stay current on pop culture moments and TikTok trends. On a recent night, a joke featuring a Patti LuPone cardboard cutout drew loud laughs (“You can’t even be here, this is a union gig!”), and a line originally uttered by Jennifer Coolidge’s character in the Season 2 finale of the HBO satire “The White Lotus” (“These gays, they’re trying to murder me.”), now spoken by Russell Daniels performing in drag as Rose’s mother, received a mid-show standing ovation.

“People feel like they’re part of something special every night,” Rousouli said….

(13) OATH TAKING. Democratic congressman-elect from California Robert Garcia shared three symbolic items that will be part of his swearing-in ceremony.

(14) SAND IN THE GEARS. Sandman was renewed on November 2, however, it took awhile to happen: “Inside ‘The Sandman’s’ Lengthy Renewal Journey — and Why Netflix Still Won’t Call It Season 2” explains Variety.

It took Neil Gaiman 30 years to get a proper adaptation of “The Sandman” made, and what felt like 30 more years (to fans who adored the final product, at least) for Netflix to renew the fantasy epic following its August premiere.

In reality, it was just three months, but those were a long three months for viewers who watched “The Sandman” hold steady on Netflix’s Top 10 English-language titles list week after week (and receive a bump when its top-secret 11th episode dropped two weeks after the first batch launched).

“We wanted to spend the time to get creatively aligned around what would be the next, best experience with ‘The Sandman,’” Netflix’s head of UCAN scripted TV Peter Friedlander told Variety. “And because of that, we wanted to spend the time with [showrunner Allan Heinberg] and Neil and really talk through and be thoughtful about what the approach should be — because Season 1 is also very thoughtful and intentional. So that was really what took the extra time, is to get our ducks in a row.”…

 [Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Daniel Dern, Scott Edelman, Bence Pintér, Alec Nevala-Lee, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]

Pixel Scroll 12/22/22 Although It’s Been Said Many Times, Many Ways, Scrolling Pixels To You

(1) PHILADELPHIA READ’EM. On January 18, 2023 the Galactic Philadelphia Literary Salon, curated by Lawrence M. Schoen and Sally Wiener Grotta, will host Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki and C.S.E. Cooney as they read from their latest work, and “converse with them and other guests in an informal and engaging salon-style conversation.” This will be an in-person event at The Rosenbach Museum & Library – full details and registration cost at the link.

(2) KINDRED FOR TV. NPR’s program The 1A tells how “Octavia Butler’s ‘Kindred’ is being discovered by new readers, and now viewers”. At the link, listen to a conversation with Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, Kindred’s executive producer and writer.  

Imagine suddenly being pulled back in time, without warning or explanation. Where is the place you’d least like to go? 

In the 1979 novel “Kindred,” author Octavia Butler sent her main character – a Black woman – back to the antebellum south of the 1800s.  Dana lands amongst her ancestors, who were owned as slaves.  

The sci-fi book is a modern classic – a cornerstone of afro-futurism that made waves in a genre dominated by white men. “Kindred” is still being discovered by new readers today – and by viewers.  

Branden Jacobs-Jenkins adapted “Kindred” into a new FX series of the same name on Hulu, which premiered Dec. 13. Jacobs-Jenkins is a talented writer in his own right, having received the 2014 Obie Award for Best New American Play for “Appropriate” and “An Octoroon.”

He’s also a two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist for Drama, and was the recipient of a MacArthur “Genius Grant.” His previous TV production credits include the 2019 HBO series “Watchmen” and the Prime Video sci-fi series “Outer Range.”

(3) IN A WORLD WHERE. According to Gizmodo, “Court Case Ruling Could Make ‘Deceptive’ Trailers Legally Actionable”.

When two fans of Ana de Armas rented Yesterday after seeing de Armas in the trailer, only to realize at the end of the movie that her part had been cut, they were so unhappy that they went to court over it. And won. In a rather bizarre Free Speech case, a federal judge has ruled in favor of movie-goers over the protests of Universal Studios, saying that studios cannot release “deceptive movie trailers.”

The two de Armas fans, Conor Woulfe and Peter Michael Rosza, each paid $3.99 to rent Yesterdayan alternate-history speculative film about the disappearance of The Beatles, on Amazon Prime. de Armas’ part was cut after filmgoers responded that they didn’t enjoy the fact that the main character’s love interest (played by Lily James) had competition in the form of de Armas’ character. Woulfe and Rosza are seeking “at least $5 million as representatives of a class of movie customers,” according to Variety….

(4) OCTOTHORPE. Episode 73 of the Octothorpe podcast is “A Magic Cave Full of Games”. Listen at the link.

John Coxon is going to Sweden, Alison Scott is going to Australia, and Liz Batty isn’t moving back to Europe. We discuss Smofcon, Eurocon, Mastodon, and bacon lardons. (The last one is a lie.) We also chat about the Fan Funds and do picks (which don’t rhyme).

(5) HEAR FROM KEN MACLEOD. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Moid over at Media Death Cult has just interviewed Ken MacLeod

But we over at SF2 Concatenation have Ken’s science heroes… “SF author and zoologist Ken MacLeod cites the scientists and engineers born in the 20th Century who have influenced him.”

 I’m not really a scientist who became a science fiction writer. I’m a science fiction reader who tried to become a scientist, because science fiction made science cool. At school my progress in mathematics hit a brick wall at calculus, and in physics at electronics. So at university I chose biology — then the least mathematical of the sciences — and specialised in Zoology….

(6) WOOSTER MEMORIES. In “Martin Morse Wooster’s Front Row Seat” Reason’s Thomas W. Hazlett delivers an affectionate farewell.

… Martin devoured entire libraries as after-dinner mints, emerging ever more curious about what great work of history, politics, biography, economics, sports, or science fiction (pardon me, “S.F.”) to hoist next. He cherished baseball, exhibits, museums, stage plays, conventions, the science of beer making, free market capitalism, and the United States. He was bogged down neither by car payments nor dependents. He lived richly on a tidy budget, zipped about on public transport, viewed every parade, and devoured each spectacle. When he paid for a movie, he would always—his sister, Ann-Sargent Wooster, informs me—insist on sitting front row…. 

On the epic fall of the Soviet bloc, Wooster wrote frequently. In a 1989 Reason column introduced by Irving Kristol’s observation that “In Washington, people don’t read enough magazines,” it was game on. 

“This may be true in Washington,” noted Martin, “but out here in Silver Spring, we read magazines by the truckload… Once each day, the factory whistles blow, the police officers stop traffic, and the double-wide tractor trailers lumber chez Wooster with the day’s reading matter.”…

(7) CHRIS BOUCHER (1943-2022). Writer and script editor Chris Boucher, who contributed milestone moments to Doctor Who and Blake’s 7, died December 11. The Guardian paid tribute.

… Having quickly made his mark on Doctor Who in 1977, he was recruited the following year as script editor of Blake’s 7, Terry Nation’s series about a gang of outlaws fighting against a corrupt Federation in the future. Responsible for commissioning and then polishing the scripts, Boucher capitalised on the bristling dynamic between the central characters, highlighted by his gift for caustic dialogue, and exploited the programme’s morally grey areas to give it dramatic complexity.

Among the scripts he wrote himself was the shocking 1981 finale, in which he killed off the whole cast, in a manner emblematic of the show’s flawed protagonists, dour outlook and uncompromising tone….

…Braden’s Week (1968), Dave Allen at Large (1971) and That’s Life (1973) used his material, and he secured himself an agent who pitched him to Doctor Who. He was well versed in science-fiction literature, so his first contribution, The Face of Evil (1977), had a bold concept: a misprogrammed spaceship computer thinks it is God, and so embarks on an exercise in eugenics involving its stranded crew. The story (originally entitled The Day God Went Mad: a tad strong for the BBC) also introduced a new companion for Tom Baker’s Doctor: instinctive, intelligent tribal warrior Leela (Louise Jameson) and contains one of Boucher’s great lines: “The very powerful and the very stupid have one thing in common, they don’t alter their views to fit the facts, they alter the facts to fit their views.”

Boucher was immediately hired to write the very next story, The Robots of Death. A fusion of Agatha Christie, Isaac Asimov and Frank Herbert, it became more than a sum of its parts thanks to Boucher’s sardonic exchanges (“You’re a classic example of the inverse ratio between the size of the mouth and the size of the brain”), well-drawn characters, world-building through dialogue and hard sci-fi concepts. Augmented by a strong cast, excellent direction and striking art deco design, the story is still regarded as among Doctor Who’s very best. Image of the Fendahl (1977) is a spooky synthesis of modern technology and ancient horror with some shocking moments and amusing characters (“You must think my head zips up at the back,” says one)….

(8) MEMORY LANE.

2000 [By Cat Eldridge.]

Ready for a really happy story? Well we have one for you.

It starts out because J.M. Barrie, author of Peter Pan; or, the Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up or Peter and Wendy,  lived near the hospital, and was well known for donations to charity as he lived rather simply. He is listed as first donating to the hospital in 1908, and became more familiar with the hospital’s work after he hired a personal secretary, Lady Cynthia Asqueth, whose father was the chairman of the hospital board. 

However when the hospital had asked Barrie to help with a fundraising campaign in 1929 by making a generous donation in order to purchase a vacated lot, he declined. That’s not the end of the story as two months later he announced that he would give the copyright of Peter Pan to the hospital. Of course the hospital was rather grateful to say the least. 

(These arrangements should have expired in 1987, fifty years after the death of Sir James Barrie. But special measures were made in the Copyright Designs & Patents Act (1988), so that a single exception was made for the ongoing benefit of the hospital.) 

A year after Great Ormond Street Hospital was given the rights to Peter and Wendy, Barrie asked the hospital to stage it in a ward for the sick children. The production was considered a wonderful affair by all involved and has become a tradition that still continues today. 

There are many Peter Pan tributes within the children’s wing including a cafe and stained windows, some of which we will return to at another time, but today a bronze statue of Peter Pan and Tinker Bell outside the hospital entrance is what were interested in.

A statue of Peter Pan stands at the entrance to the hospital, blowing fairy dust at all visitors, young and old. It was sculpted by Diarmund O’Connor and was unveiled by Lord Callaghan on July 14, 2000. Tinkerbell, who is actually a separate statue, was added to Peter’s uplifted arm in 2005. Tinkerbell is officially London’s smallest statue.

The combined statue bears this inscription:

Peter Pan

In grateful memory of Sir James Barrie (1860 – 1937) for his gift to Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children and in warm appreciation of the exceptional support of Audrey and James Callaghan.

The Tinker Bell statue once it was carefully attached to the Peter Pan was unveiled by the Countess of Wessex on September 29th, 2005. Although a later addition, it was part of the original conception back in 1999 when Peter was commissioned, but dropped at the time as being too ambitious. It is a credit to Peter’s popularity that the issue was redressed.

Why such a simple addition was considered too ambitious is a mystery. She is a rather simple sculpture after all. Here’s Tinkerbell by herself.

I don’t usually give you two versions of a statue but it’s rare that we get to see the clay version of it. So here is that version in the sculptor’s studio.

And here’s the final bronze state as it is in the garden outside the Hospital. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 22, 1917 Frankie Darro. What I’m most interested that it was he inside Robbie the Robot in Forbidden Planet. (He did not do the voice you heard on film, that was done by Marvin Miller who in-studio replaced what was done originally.) Other than showing up on Batman as a Newsman in two episodes, and The Addams Family as a Delivery Boy in one episode, I don’t think he had any other genre roles at all. Well, he was Lampwick, the boy who turns into a donkey in Pinocchio. That should count too. (Died 1976.)
  • Born December 22, 1944 Michael Summerton. One of the original Dalek operators, his work would show up in three First Doctor stories, “The Survivor”, “The Escape” and “The Ambush”. He’s interviewed for “The Creation of The Daleks” documentary which is included in the 2006 The Beginning DVD box set. According to his Telegraph obit, he was the last survivor of the original four operators of the Daleks. So, you don’t need to get past their paywall, here’s the Who part here: “After a lean period, he was excited to be offered a part in a new BBC science fiction series. His agent told him he would not need to learn any lines for the casting, and when he arrived at the BBC workshops he was asked to strip down to his underpants and sit in what appeared to be a tub on castors. Summerton (who was one of the four original Daleks) was instructed in how to move this apparatus about, the director saying: ‘We want to test this prototype for maneuverability. We want you to move forwards, backwards, sideways. Quickly, slowly.’ Presently the director lowered a lid over him with a plunger sticking out of it. Summerton found himself in total darkness. He would later relate: ‘When the lid went on I knew my career as an actor was over.’” (Died 2009.)
  • Born December 22, 1951 Tony Isabella, 71. Creator of DC’s Black Lightning, who is their first major African-American superhero. That alone is enough reason to him in Birthdays. He also created Mercedes “Misty” Knight, an African-American superhero at Marvel Comics who’s played by Simone Missick in the various Netflix MCU series. 
  • Born December 22, 1951 Charles de Lint, 71. I’ve personally known him for some twenty-five years now and have quite a few of his signed Solstice chapbooks in my possession. Listing his fiction would take a full page or two as he’s been a very prolific fantasy writer so let just list some of my favorite novels by him which would be Forests of The HeartSomeplace To Be FlyingSeven Wild Sisters and The Cats of Tanglewood Forest. You’ll find my favorite chapter from Forests of The Heart here.
  • Born December 22, 1962 Ralph Fiennes, 60. Perhaps best-known genre wise as Lord Voldemort in the Harry Potter film franchise, he’s also been M in the Bond films that just wrapped up and started with Skyfall. His first genre role was as Lenny Nero in Strange Days, one of my favorite SF films. He went on to play John Steed in that Avengers films. If you haven’t seen it, he voices Lord Victor Quartermaine in Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit. Run now and see it!
  • Born December 22, 1965 David S. Goyer, 57. His screenwriting credits include the Blade trilogy which I like despite their unevenness in storytelling, the Dark Knight trilogy, Dark CityMan of Steel, and its sequel Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (which is horrid). Let’s see what else is there? Well there’s there’s a Nick Fury film and two Ghost film which are all best forgotten… Oh, he did The Crow: City of Angels. Ouch. Series wise, he’s been involved in FlashForwardConstantineDa Vinci’s Demons which is a damn strange show, KryptonBlade: The SeriesThresholdFreakyLinks and a series I’ve never heard of, Sleepwalkers
  • Born December 22, 1978 George Mann, 44. Author of the Newbury & Hobbes Investigations, a steampunk series set in a alternative Victorian England that I’ve read and enthusiastically recommend. He’s also got two Holmesian novels on Titan Books that I need to request for reviewing, Sherlock Holmes: The Will of the Dead and Sherlock Holmes: The Spirit Box. And yes I see that  he’s written a lot more  fiction than I’ve read by him so do tell me what else is worth reading  by him. 

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Bizarro has the surly version of a childrens’ book hero.

(11) COPYRIGHT OFFICE REVOKES DECISION. “AI-Created Comic Has Been Deemed Ineligible for Copyright Protection” reports CBR.com.

The United States Copyright Office (USCO) reversed an earlier decision to grant a copyright to a comic book that was created using “A.I. art,” and announced that the copyright protection on the comic book will be revoked, stating that copyrighted works must be created by humans to gain official copyright protection.

In September, Kris Kashtanova announced that they had received a U.S. copyright on his comic book, Zarya of the Dawn, a comic book inspired by their late grandmother that she created with the text-to-image engine Midjourney. Kashtanova referred to herself as a “prompt engineer” and explained at the time that she went to get the copyright so that she could “make a case that we do own copyright when we make something using AI.”…

(12) TOP GRAPHIC NOVELS OF 2022. “Beaton’s ‘Ducks’ Tops PW’s 2022 Graphic Novel Critics Poll” proclaims Publishers Weekly.

Kate Beaton’s widely acclaimed debut graphic memoir Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands (Drawn & Quarterly) has topped PW’s annual Graphic Novel Critics Poll for best work of the year by a significant margin, receiving nine votes from PW’s panel of 15 critics. This is Beaton’s second time winning the poll; she won in 2011 for Hark A Vagrant.

Beaton’s adroitly told personal narrative is a bracing exposé of the sexism and misogyny women face working in the nearly all-male oil fields, as well as a plaintive and incisive critique of the industry’s destructive impact on the environment. Nevertheless, Beaton’s personal story is balanced with humor and rich with canny, wry vignettes of her crusty work colleagues, rendered along with breathtaking depictions of the desolate landscape of the oil fields. One of very few women working in the male-dominated work force, Beaton tracks the two years she spent working various jobs (such as handing out wrenches at a tool crib) in Northern Canada’s remote oil fields, while depicting the lives of her co-workers—all of them separated from family and home lives….

…Indie publishers secured top positions overall in this year’s poll, with second place a tie between two titles that received four votes each: Keeping Two by Jordan Crane (Fantagraphics) and the graphic memoir The Third Person by Emma Grove (Drawn & Quarterly).

(13) THE BLUES. “Don’t give up, never surrender,” is not everyone’s motto. “Edie Falco Assumed Avatar 2 Flopped After Filming Part 4 Years Ago” is what People heard.

Edie Falco didn’t realize when her appearance in Avatar: The Way of Water would be hitting movie theaters.

The 59-year-old actress shot her scenes four years ago and just assumed the movie had been released and potentially flopped since she hadn’t heard anything, she admitted while visiting The View on Friday.

The second Avatar, the one that’s coming out, I think I shot four years ago,” she shared at The View roundtable. “And then I’ve been busy, and doing stuff, and somebody mentioned Avatar, and I thought, ‘Oh, I guess it came out and didn’t do very well,’ cause I didn’t hear anything.”

The actress continued: “And then somebody recently said, ‘Avatar is coming out.’ “

“Oh, it hasn’t come out yet?” she remembered asking, getting laughs from the audience. “I haven’t seen the new one, so I’m excited.”

Talking more about the film, in which she plays one of the few human characters, the Nurse Jackie actress admitted she was a little disappointed when she found out who she’d be playing.

“Well, I wanted to be blue,” she said, laughing. “I was excited – I was going to be blue and very tall… I didn’t get either of those things.”

(14) BEST PICTURES. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Today’s Nature has open access loads of James Webb pics: “JWST’s best images: spectacular stars and spiralling galaxies” (example attached of Neptune).

Also open access best science pics of the year: “The best science images of 2022”. Example attached of an insect turned into a zombie by fungus. And the Tonga volcanic explosion from space

(15) REST IN DUST. “NASA’s InSight Mission Dies After 4 Years of Listening for Marsquakes” – the New York Times has the “obituary”.

…For months, mission managers have been expecting this as dust accumulated on the lander’s solar panels, blocking the sunlight the stationary spacecraft needs to generate power.

InSight, which arrived on the surface of Mars more than four years ago to measure the red planet’s seismological shaking, was last in touch on Dec. 15. But nothing was heard during the last two communication attempts, and NASA announced on Wednesday that it was unlikely for it ever to hear from InSight again.

“I feel sad, but I also feel pretty good,” said Bruce Banerdt, the mission’s principal investigator at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in an interview. “We’ve been expecting this to come to an end for some time.”

He added, “I think that it’s been a great run.”

InSight — the name is a compression of the mission’s full name, Interior Exploration Using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport — was a diversion from NASA’s better known rover missions, focusing on the mysteries of Mars’s deep interior instead of searching for signs of water and possible extinct life on the red planet…. 

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

Pixel Scroll 12/17/22 Last Night I Had The Strangest Scroll 

By Joe Pearson

(1) NAVIGATING AMAZON. On Neil Clarke’s blog yesterday he posted a fuller version of his news about “Amazon Kindle Subscriptions”, which began with Amazon informing Clarkesworld that it is ending Kindle Subscriptions in 2023 and trying to get magazines to move to Kindle Unlimited:

…Amazon plans to inform subscribers via email in March. I asked if there would be an opportunity for the publishers to be involved in the framing of that language and it was received positively. (Publishers don’t have access to subscriber contact information.) I should have additional information sometime in mid-January on how that will work, but first impression was that it would be some direction towards the publisher’s website for information on how to continue subscribing somewhere else (or even KU should the publisher be willing and able to go that route).

I would rate the likelihood of Amazon changing their mind as very slim. I don’t know precisely why they are doing this, but they are doing so with full knowledge of how many customers it will impact and potentially upset. That doesn’t mean you should refrain from letting them know how you feel about this, particularly if you are a current subscriber.

Each of us has 8-9 months to try to figure out how to work around and adjust to these changes. It’s no small task. Some of us have thousands of subscribers on their platform and even with some cooperation from Amazon to get the word out, migrating subscribers to a new platform will be extremely challenging.

I’m hoping for patience from our readers and followers. I’m going to be pushing subscriptions quite loudly for a while. Because I have to. We’ve also been talking about the need to increase our subscription price. (I’m not sure why magazines are locked at a price from ten years ago, but all other literary content has increased in that time.) This situation may make it a necessity and not just for us.

And finally, if you are an Amazon subscriber, please don’t forget about us. Your subscription will continue well into 2023, but at some point we hope you’ll transition to a new subscription from one of the many places that offer them. Look for information in our January issue or come back here around then. You can also check out our current subscription options, but we’re hoping to add to that. If you have suggestions, please don’t hesitate to ask about them. No matter what, thank you. Your support over the years has been crucial and we hope it can continue….

(2) AGENTS BACK HARPERCOLLINS STRIKERS. “HC Union Update: Authors Co-Host Rally at Harper Headquarters; Agents ‘Overwhelmingly’ Support Strike”Publishers Weekly has the story.

…79.1% of literary agents who participated in a survey conducted by the Association of American Literary Agents say that they support the HarperCollins union strike. The union had previously asked agents to refrain from submitting new projects to HarperCollins until an agreement is reached.

Among the supporters, 74.4% back the strike unequivocally, while 4.7% are “positive with caveats.” Meanwhile 9.3% say they are neutral, and 11.1% feel they need more information about the issue to form an opinion. Fewer than 1% of respondents say they do not support the strike at all. A total of 215 members responded to the poll.

A majority of respondents to the poll say they have changed their dealings with HarperCollins in some way as a result of the strike, from delaying deal announcements to only submitting option projects to withholding all business, including meetings, with the publisher. Still, there are some caveats: specifically, some agents noted that they will still submit to the publisher if their clients specifically request it, or if they feel that cutting Harper out of the running will result in lower offers for their clients’ books.

(3) FIFTEENTH DOCTOR. “’Doctor Who’ Reveals First Look at Ncuti Gatwa as New Doctor” in The Hollywood Reporter.

…The show tweeted photos on Saturday of Ncuti Gatwa and Millie Gibson in character, along with a caption proclaiming their big introduction….

(4) FREE ON EARTH. While news of his decision may have been reported here sometime in the past couple of years, since November 1, 2022 there been a statement on the “Tom Lehrer Songs – Songs and Lyrics by Tom Lehrer” website that he has put all his lyrics and music into the public domain.  

I, Tom Lehrer, and the Tom Lehrer Trust 2007, hereby grant the following permissions:

All copyrights to lyrics or music written or composed by me have been relinquished, and therefore such songs are now in the public domain. All of my songs that have never been copyrighted, having been available for free for so long, are now also in the public domain.

The latter includes all lyrics which I have written to music by others, although the music to such parodies, if copyrighted by their composers, are of course not included without permission of their copyright owners. The translated songs on this website may be found on YouTube in their original languages.

Performing and recording rights to all of my songs are included in this permission. Translation rights are also included.

In particular, permission is hereby granted to anyone to set any of these lyrics to their own music, or to set any of this music to their own lyrics, and to publish or perform their parodies or distortions of these songs without payment or fear of legal action.

Some recording, movie, and television rights to songs written by me are merely licensed non-exclusively by me to recording, movie, or TV companies. All such rights are now released herewith and therefore do not require any permission from me or from Maelstrom Music, which is merely me in another hat, nor from the recording, movie, or TV companies involved.

In short, I no longer retain any rights to any of my songs.

So help yourselves, and don’t send me any money.

(5) KINDRED SCREENWRITER. Library of America presents “Adapting Kindred for Television: Highlights from Our Interview with Screenwriter Branden Jacobs-Jenkins”.

This past February, we interviewed Obie-winning playwright and screenwriter Branden Jacobs-Jenkins about the process and the challenges of adapting Octavia E. Butler’s 1979 novel Kindred into the eight-episode TV series that makes its debut later this month. A time-travel thriller that transports its heroine from Southern California in the 1970s to a plantation in antebellum Maryland, the novel is widely acknowledged as a visionary masterpiece.

Below we present some short highlights from the interview…

(6) MEMORY LANE.

1987 [By Cat Eldridge.] Nancy Schön’s “The Ducklings”

No, these are not some characters out of folklore, but we picked them because, well, they are adorable. Really, really adorable.

The story of starts off with Make Way for Ducklings,  a children’s picture book written and illustrated by Robert McCloskey, published first in 1941 by the Viking Press. That book tells the story of a pair of mallards who raise their brood of ducklings on an island in the lagoon in the Boston Public Garden. It won the 1942 Caldecott Medal for the charcoal grey illustrations therein.

Boston Public Garden, where the Mallards eventually settled, is series of bronze statues of Mrs. Mallard and her eight ducklings by artist Nancy Schön, the sculptor of Pooh and his companions that we essayed last Scroll.

Let’s have Nancy tell the tale of how these came to be: “Therein lies a long tale of her proposal writing, our meeting and working with Robert McCloskey, of acquiring the sponsorship of the Friends of the Boston Public Garden, of having my design accepted by the Boston Art Commission, the Landmarks Commission and the Parks and Recreation Department. Then there was the problem, as always, of fund raising. 

“It took two years to go through this process but on October 4, 1987 a bronze sculpture of Mrs. Mallard and her eight ducklings was installed on old Boston cobblestones. I treasure time that I spend standing near the sculpture and watching all the children hug, kiss, climb on and feed the ducks. How fortunate I am to have made this sculpture which, thanks to Mr. McCloskey, has given so much pleasure to so many.”

The tallest statue, mother of course, stands only 38 inches tall, and the family of bronze ducks set upon Boston cobblestone spans thirty feet.

Four of the ducks were stolen, one in 1991 and three in February 2000. Thieves were hoping to sell the ducks as scrap metal cut the statues off at the legs. The missing ducks were replaced in September 2000 at a rededication ceremony attended by former President of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev as another set of these is in Moscow.  Those were happier times in Mother Russia. 

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 17, 1930 Bob Guccione. The publisher of Penthouse, the much more adult version of Playboy, but also of Omni magazine, the SF zine which had a print version between 1978 and 1995. A number of now-classic stories first ran there such as Gibson’s “Burning Chrome” and “Johnny Mnemonic”, as well as Card’s “Unaccompanied Sonata” and even Harlan Ellison’s novella, Mephisto in Onyx which was on the Hugo ballot at ConAdian but finished sixth in voting. The first Omni digital version was published on CompuServe in 1986 and the magazine switched to a purely online presence in 1996.  It ceased publication abruptly in late 1997, following the death of co-founder Kathy Keeton, his wife. (Died 2010.)
  • Born December 17, 1944 Jack L. Chalker. I really, really enjoyed a lot of his Well World series, and I remember reading quite a bit of his other fiction down the years and I loved his short story collection, Dance Band on the Titanic. Which of his other myriad series have you read and -enjoyed?  I find it really impressive that he attended every Worldcon from except one, from 1965 until 2004. One of our truly great members of the SF community as was a member of the Washington Science Fiction Association and was involved in the founding of the Baltimore Science Fiction Society. I was surprised that his Hugo nominations were all for not for his fiction, but twice for Best Amateur Magazine for his Mirage zines at Chicon IIII and Discon, and once for Best Non-fiction Book for The Science-Fantasy Publishers: A Critical and Bibliographic History at MagiCon. (Died 2005.)
  • Born December 17, 1953 Bill Pullman, 69. First SF role was as Lone Starr in Spaceballs. He next appears in The Serpent and the Rainbow which is damn weird before playing the lead in the even weirder Brain Dead. Now we come to Independence Day and I must say I love his character and the film a lot. Post-Independence Day, he went weird again showing up in Lake Placid which is a lot of fun and also voiced Captain Joseph Korso in the animated Titan A.E. film. Which at least in part was written by Joss Whedon. He reprises his Thomas J. Whitmore character in Independence Day: Resurgence, a film I have avoided for fear the Suck Fairy got it as soon as it premiered. Was I right, oh Filers? 
  • Born December 17, 1954 J.M. Dillard, 68. Yes, I know this is a pen name but I’m interested only in her Trek output tonight. She’s written at least fifteen tie-ins starting with Star Trek: Mindshadow in the mid Eighties and her last seemingly being Star Trek: The Next Generation: Resistance in the late Oughts.
  • Born December 17, 1973 Rian Johnson, 49. Director responsible for the superb Looper, also Star Wars: The Last Jedi  and the superb Knives Out. I know, it’s not even genre adjacent. It’s just, well, I liked Gosford Park, so what can I say about another film akin to it? He has a cameo as an Imperial Technician in Rogue One, and he voices Bryan in BoJack Horseman which is definitely genre. 
  • Born December 17, 1975 Milla Jovovich, 47. First SFF appearance was as Leeloo de Sabat in The Fifth Element, a film which still gets a very pleasant WTF? from me when I watch it. She was also Alice in the Resident Evil franchise which is five films strong and running so far. I see she shows up as Milady de Winter in a Three Musketeers I never heard of which is odd is it’s a hobby of mind to keep track of those films, and plays Nimue, The Blood Queen in the rebooted Hellboy. 
  • Born December 17, 1993 Kiersey Clemons, 29. There’s a Universe in which films exist in which performers actually performed the roles they were hired for. Case in point is her work as Iris West in Justice League where all her scenes were deleted. You can see those scenes in the extras of course. She has other genre creds including being in the reboot of Flatliners (saw the original which I really liked but not this one), in the live action version of Lady and the Tramp which is at least genre adjacent, and Lucy in Extant, a series produced by Steven Spielberg that I have not seen. 

(8) LETHEM REACTS TO LAFFERTY. The October 31 issue of The New Yorker published “Narrowing Valley,” by Jonathan Lethem, a short story written in response to R.A. Lafferty’s story “Narrow Valley” which appeared in Robert Silverberg’s 1973 New Dimensions anthology. In an accompanying interview, “Jonathan Lethem on What’s Stuck in His Head”, explains why he wrote it, and tackles the question of whether it may elicit controversy.

In Lafferty’s story, a white family attempts to homestead land that had originally been given to a Pawnee Indian named Clarence Big-Saddle. The land reveals itself to be a spatial anomaly, and, ultimately, shrinks and flattens the family when they attempt to enter it. In your story, a white family is rumbling westward in a Winnebago across “stolen Tongva land.” The narrator, a white male writer, observes that “the story is headed into crisis, because the family must—as in Lafferty’s original—meet an Indian.” Do you think there’ll be readers who’ll object to what you’re doing in this story, and will feel that Native American characters are being used as a prop in a narrative that centers on a white man?

I’m grateful that you put this question directly, rather than leaving it present only by implication. The obvious answer is yes. The tone I struck here—that of nervous guilty riffing in the treacherous realm of “appropriation”—may seem almost to beg a reader’s own anxieties into play. Or a reader’s condemnation. That risk is one of the subjects of the story, really. I hope that saying this doesn’t come off in any way as blasé, let alone defiant. The irreducible historical trauma (and vast collective culpability) that would make the background for such an objection to the story isn’t subject to dismissal.

I was an amazed reader of Zadie Smith’s “Fascinated to Presume: In Defense of Fiction” when it was published in the New York Review of Books, in 2019. Despite its subtitle, Smith’s essay isn’t some exercise in intransigent advocacy for fiction’s carte blanche. Instead, she reflects humbly on her own position as a reader and writer trained in expectations and practices that find themselves placed under new pressure by evolving ethical notions, here in the twenty-first century. I can relate. And (unlike “the writer of the present story,” a character who seems to operate in a vacuum of his own despondency) as a full-time college instructor and member of an English department, I’m actually enmeshed in this conversation on a daily basis with students and colleagues. “Narrowing Valley” reflects the dynamism of that conversation, for which I’m grateful. This story’s hesitation, precisely at the limit of a willingness to invent a Native character to advance its cause, is informed by it. I don’t mean that as a defense, but I hope it might be a useful description. As we say in the humanities biz, when you can’t defend what’s plainly disastrous in some canonical text, but you still want to include it in the mix, the best thing is to “teach the problem.”

Many students, I’m happy to say, still yearn to be involved in that indefensible polymorphous sphere of “fiction” that Smith describes so movingly in her essay. Yet they’ve never known anything like the automatic license that my generation of writers tasted—let alone that known (I’m imagining) by someone even older, like R. A. Lafferty. Instead, they have to carve out the space to practice this weird art—which often entails mingling deep integrity with gleeful imposture—on a case-by-case basis. In their willingness to try, they become my teachers.

What’s striking—to bring things full circle—is that many writing students lately appear to find science fiction attractive, as a palette that offers replenishing possibilities for their efforts. This may sound a bit Gene Roddenberryish, but it’s as if the best things about the field I grew up inside—ideas about self-and-other; a lexicon for anxieties about capitalism, technology, and the environment, about our presence as a species on the planet; a resolute unwillingness to take status-quo “reality” as a given, as an end point—help disrupt the bourgeois placidity that can make fiction seem insufficient to our present life.

(9) AMY BLOOM BOOK RECS. The Guardian’s Q&A “Amy Bloom: ‘Nigella Lawson is God (if we’re lucky)’” includes praise of Octavia Butler.

The book I discovered later in life
Kindred by Octavia Butler. I read very little science fiction and had no patience with movies such as The Creature from the Black Lagoon or even ET. I came across Butler’s work in the early 90s and both the substance and style illuminated the world for me.

(10) FINALLY. “How did you spend the past 13 years? They spent it waiting for an ‘Avatar’ sequel.” “Meet the ‘Avatar’ fans who never stopped thinking the movie was cool” at the Washington Post.

…Thirteen years, after all, is an almost-scandalous amount of time to wait for a sequel, both by Hollywood standards and life-expectancy standards: Matt Laing, a 26-year-old fan from Durham, N.C., saw the original half his life ago. In between, he watched the film a few times every year — and this fall, he joined Kelutral, a global organization for fans. Every day, the analytical chemist posts memes and jokes to the group’s Discord, and lately, he has been hyping up the other 2,000 members for the sequel’s release. He and another member he has befriended race to be the first to tag each other every day. “We’re like, ‘Eleven days to go.’ ‘Ten days to go,’” Laing says with a laugh….

(11) THE LAST OF P-22.  Damn. The mountain lion of Griffith Park was euthanized today. His injuries and medical problems meant he couldn’t even be saved for a nature preserve. “P-22, the celebrity mountain lion of Los Angeles, has died” – the Los Angeles Times reports the reasons for the decision, along with an extended profile and numerous photos.

The mountain lion P-22, who lived in the heart of Los Angeles for more than a decade and became the face of an international campaign to save Southern California’s threatened pumas, was euthanized Saturday because of several long-term health concerns and injuries that likely stemmed from being hit by a car, officials said.

In a tearful news conference, wildlife biologists described multiple chronic illnesses that may have contributed to the mountain lion’s recent uncharacteristic behavior. The big cat of Griffith Park was “compassionately euthanized” at about 9 a.m., officials said.

“This really hurts, and I know that,” said Chuck Bonham, director of the California Dept. of Fish and Wildlife. “It’s been an incredibly difficult several days. And for myself, I’ve felt the entire weight of the city of Los Angeles.”…

(12) POWELL’S PERSEVERES. CBS Mornings devoted a segment to Powell’s Books in Portland, OR – “Portland bookstore adapting with the times”.

Michelle Miller reports from Powell’s Books in Portland, Oregon, a bookstore doing everything it can, despite online competition, to keep the experience of buying and reading books fresh.

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, Dariensync, Steven French, Olav Rokne, Jeff Smith, Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Steve Davidson.]

Pixel Scroll 12/13/22 The Megatherium Weighed The Pterodactyl Down

(1) COVER ART. [Item by Bruce D. Arthurs.]Literary Hub featured a long list of “Best Book Covers of 2022” which included several of genre interest. But the most surprising to see was the final selection, Chuck Tingle’s Bisexually Stuffed by an Orgy of Sentient Thanksgiving Foods. “The 103 Best Book Covers of 2022”.

(2) PRESS THE BUTTON FOR SIXTY-TWO. Phil Nichols commences “The Second Annual Time Travel Expedition” in episode 24 of the SF 101 podcast.

It’s December, and so according to the tradition we invented this time last year, we go back into the past and review an old science fiction magazine – to see how the field has changed over time, and to see if those old stories still hold up. This year, we tackle the December 1962 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. If you’d like to skim the pages with us, you can find the entire issue online here.

We also have a science fiction cat quiz, believe it or not….

(3) MEDICAL UPDATE. Adam-Troy Castro tweeted about his surgery:

(4) NEXT VERSE. The next Spider-Man movie is coming to theaters June 2023: Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse.

(5) AXED BY HBO MAX. “‘Westworld’ & ‘The Nevers‘ Pulled Off HBO Max, Marking Victorian Drama’s Formal End” reports Deadline. But they’re expected to resurface elsewhere.

…Two other original scripted series, Westworld and The Nevers, are coming off HBO Max. Unlike others that we have reported on, Lionsgate TV’s Minx and Love Life and Sony TV’s Gordita Chronicles — all comedies — Westworld and The Nevers are high-end Warner Bros. Discovery drama productions for HBO proper, and I hear they are likely to resurface on other company platforms.

WBD CEO David Zaslav has spoken about his plan to enter the burgeoning FAST channel space, so Westworld and The Nevers would likely be offered in that form, I hear.

The removal of Westworld is a surprise as it remains one of the most recognizable HBO dramas of the last decade. The sci-fi series was recently canceled after four seasons so some of its fans may not have caught up on all episodes before it’s removed.

This marks the formal cancellation for the Joss Whedon-created The Nevers, whose six-episode Season 1A aired back in 2021, with the second part of the season yet to be scheduled. It will now end up in the show’s new home whatever that is. The storyline has been crafted in a way that it concludes with Season 1B, sources said….

(6) FOR A SPLIT-SECOND IT WAS CAMELOT. “Scientists Achieve Nuclear Fusion Breakthrough With Blast of 192 Lasers” and the New York Times offers an overview of how it was done.

…There was always a nagging caveat, however. In all of the efforts by scientists to control the unruly power of fusion, their experiments consumed more energy than the fusion reactions generated.

That changed on the morning of Dec. 5, just over a week ago, when 192 giant lasers at the laboratory’s National Ignition Facility blasted a small cylinder about the size of a pencil eraser that contained a frozen nubbin of hydrogen encased in diamond.

The laser beams entered at the top and bottom of the cylinder, vaporizing it. That generated an inward onslaught of X-rays that compresses a BB-size fuel pellet of deuterium and tritium, the heavier forms of hydrogen.

In a brief moment lasting less than 100 trillionths of a second, 2.05 megajoules of energy — roughly the equivalent of a pound of TNT — bombarded the hydrogen pellet. Out flowed a flood of neutron particles — the product of fusion — which carried the energy equivalent of about 1.5 pounds of TNT, or an energy gain of about 1.5.

This crossed the threshold that laser fusion scientists call ignition, the dividing line where the energy generated by fusion equals the energy of the incoming lasers that start the reaction….

(7) MEMORY LANE.

2000 [By Cat Eldridge.] Paddington Bear

One of the cutest bears in literature, alongside Winnie the Pooh is Paddington Bear. I hereby submit nominations for other extremely cute bears in fiction. 

Michael Bond first unveiled him to the world in 1958. He came up with him after he purchased a teddy bear as a Christmas present for his wife, and named the bear Paddington as the couple was living near Paddington Station, so he imagined the arrival of a real bear at the station in his first novel, A Bear Called Paddington

The sculpture was created by Marcus Cornish in 2000. Cast in bronze, the statue stands on Platform 1 under the station clock and was unveiled by Michael Bond on February 24, 2000. Interestingly the statue is owned by the Paddington Bear shop at the station.

Its present location is the second within the station, the statue having been moved from its original position at the foot of the escalators due to renovation work. He had been unceremoniously… oh let’s let journalist Marin Roberts tell the tale, “To my horror, a few months ago I discovered the Paddington Bear statue had been moved to a really dark, dingy corner on the other side of the station.” 

He enlisted the help of a lot of people including Hugh Bonneville, who played Mr Brown in the Paddington Bear films, and that’s he got moved to where he is. He’s supposed to have (eventually) a place in center court. 

Bond’s obituary in The Guardian described the statue as “one of the few memorials in London to inspire real affect.”

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 13, 1925 Dick Van Dyke, 97. Seriously you think I wouldn’t write him up? Bert/Mr. Dawes Sr. in Mary Poppins followed shortly by being Caractacus Pott in the film adaptation in Ian Fleming’s novel Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang. (No it’s not the same character as he is in the book.)  He voices the lead character in the animated Tubby the Tuba film and plays D.A. Fletcher in Dick Tracy.  He narrates Walt: The Man Behind the Myth whose subject matter you can guess. Played Commissioner Gordon in Batman: New Times as well. Shows up in both of the Night at the Museum films which sort of interest me. And yes he has a role as Mr.Dawes Jr. in Mary Poppins Returns.
  • Born December 13, 1929 Christopher Plummer. Let’s see… Does Rudyard Kipling in The Man Who Would Be King count? If not, The Return of the Pink Panther does. That was followed by Starcrash, a space opera I suspect hardly anyone saw which was also the case with Somewhere in Time. Now Dreamscape was fun and well received. Skipping to General Chang in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. Opinions everyone? I know I’ve mixed feelings on Chang. I saw he’s was in Twelve Monkeys but I think I’ve deliberately forgotten that film and I’ve not seen The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus yet. (Died 2021.)
  • Born December 13, 1949 R. A. MacAvoy, 73. Winner of the Astounding Award for Best New Writer. I’m very, very fond of her Black Dragon series, Tea with the Black Dragon and Twisting the Rope.  (Tea with the Black Dragon was nominated for a Hugo at L.A. Con II, the year David Brin’s Startide Rising won.) The only other thing I’ve read of hers is The Book of Kells, so do tell me about her other works. (OGH begins: there’s “R. A. MacAvoy’s Bear Stories”, half-a-dozen true life nature encounters collected here at File 770 in 2017.)
  • Born December 13, 1954 Emma Bull, 68. Writer of three of the best genre novels ever, Bone Dance: A Fantasy for TechnophilesFinder: A Novel of The Borderlands and War for The Oaks. Yes, I’ve personally acquired signed copies of each. Will Shetterly, her husband and author of a lot of really cool genre works, decided to make a trailer which you can download if you want here.   She’s also been in a number of neat bands, one that has genre significance that being Cats Laughing which has Stephen Brust, Adam Stemple, son of Jane Yolen, and John M. Ford either as musicians or lyricists. They came back together after a long hiatus at MiniCon 50. Again just ask me and I’ll make this music available along with that of Flash Girls which she was also in. And she’s on the dark chocolate gifting list. 
  • Born December 13, 1954 Tamora Pierce, 68. Her first book series, The Song of the Lioness, about her character Alanna going through the trials of training as a knight, sold very well and was well received by readers. That series is set in Tortall, a world akin to the European Middle Ages. What I’ve read of it I like a lot. She won the Edward E. Smith Memorial Award for Imaginative Fiction in 2005, a rare honor indeed. 
  • Born December 13, 1984 Amal El-Mohtar, 38. Canadian editor and writer. She won Hugo Awards for Best Short Story for “Seasons of Glass and Iron” at WorldCon 75 and Best Novella for “This Is How You Lose the Time War” at CoNZealand (with Max Gladstone). (The latter got a BSFA, an Aurora and a Nebula as well.) She’s also garnered a Nebula Award  for “Madeleine“, a World Fantasy Award for “Pockets” and a World Fantasy Award for “Seasons of Glass and Iron”. Very impressive. She has edited the fantastic poetry quarterly Goblin Fruit magazine for the past five years. 

(9) I CAN’T BE SURE, BUT I DON’T THINK THEY LIKED IT. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] “Avatar: The Way of Water review – a soggy, twee, trillion-dollar screensaver” in the Guardian.

Drenching us with a disappointment that can hardly be admitted out loud, James Cameron’s soggy new digitised film has beached like a massive, pointless whale. The story, which might fill a 30-minute cartoon, is stretched as if by some AI program into a three-hour movie of epic tweeness….

(10) THE VERDICT. And the New York Times isn’t fond of the new Butler adaptation: “‘Kindred’ Review: Octavia Butler Comes to the Screen”.

…“Kindred” is finally coming to the screen, 43 years after its publication, not as a movie or a mini-series but as an eight-episode season meant to be the first in a series. (Made for FX, it premieres Tuesday on Hulu.) The ingenious premise is still there: Dana James (Mallori Johnson), now an aspiring television writer in 2016 Los Angeles, finds herself being zapped to 1815 Maryland whenever Rufus Weylin (David Alexander Kaplan), the young son of a plantation owner, feels his life is in danger and he needs saving. Only minutes or hours have elapsed in the present when she returns home, sometimes after perilous weeks or months in the past. Like other involuntary-time-travel stories, it is inherently suspenseful, generating cliffhangers at regular intervals, and the show takes full advantage.

The other side of Butler’s storytelling equation has gone missing, however. It is hard to believe much of anything that happens in FX’s “Kindred,” in either the skimpy, cardboard depiction of plantation life or in the clichéd presentation of modern city life. (The present-day plot has, unfortunately, been significantly expanded.) Butler grounded her speculation in historical and, crucially, psychological reality; the series takes her story elements and slices, dices and pads them in a way that keeps us from believing or becoming invested in the characters Butler worked so hard to build….

(11) REMEMBERING CARRIE FISHER. [Item by Dann.] Carrie Fisher is well known for her acting career.  Hello Star Wars!  She is somewhat less known as a Hollywood script doctor.  Her editing/writing skills were frequently employed in improving the character development and dialog of female characters.

She is also a songwriter.  Perhaps “co-songwriter” is more accurate as she co-wrote songs with Sean Lennon (John Lennon’s son), Harper Simon (Paul Simon’s son), and Jimmy Buffet. “3 Songs You Didn’t Know the Late Actress Carrie Fisher Co-Wrote” at American Songwriter.

Ms. Fisher edited scripts for a wide variety of films including Sister Act and Lethal Weapon 3.  Her work on one script in particular resulted in a very brief cameo.  The movie was Hook.  In the cameo, she is one of a couple enjoying a romantic kiss on the bridge as Tinkerbell flies by carrying Peter Banning/Pan.  After being sprinkled with a bit of pixie dust, the couple gently floats in the air above the bridge.  The other half of the snogging pair?  George Lucas. “George Lucas & Carrie Fisher’s Cameos In Hook Explained” at ScreenRant.

(12) ALL ABOARD. Nerdist has compiled a docket of evidence showing that “Some of the Best Sci-Fi ‘Ships’ Are Actually Living Beings”. Beware spoilers.

Space-faring ships that turn out to be alive are nothing new in science fiction. There’s more entries every year, but the leviathans often have similarities to previous versions. Many of them are whale-like, with interior corridors that look like the belly of the beast. Some even sing like whales. But while there’s plenty of overdone tropes in science fiction, what exactly constitutes life and sentience is one that is still interesting. As humanity’s understanding of non-human sentient life deepens over time, we continue to explore this concept in our entertainment as well. Here’s some of our favorite living “ships” from TV and film.

First example —

Jean Jacket (Nope)

Nope is the latest sci-fi movie to introduce a living ship. The flying saucer turns out to be an animal rather than a typical UFO. Technically it does carry passengers, for a little while at least. Then it eats them. If only we humans weren’t so delicious and nutritious. The real animals that inspired Jean Jacket’s design—urchins, cuttlefish, squid, and other ocean life— are not really a threat to us. But when a large alien shows those same unfamiliar behaviors, it’s a lot more scary.

Jordan Peele consulted scientists to make his predator more realistic and comment on the dangers of trying to control nature. That’s a tale many of the sentient ship stories that came before tell, and will likely remain a sci-fi theme for years to come since humanity hasn’t yet taken it to heart.

(13) TECH FOR GEEZERS. Admit it – you didn’t know all of these gadgets were obsolete! And neither do these folks who were interviewed by the Guardian: “‘My friends call me the BlackBerry queen!’ Meet the people clinging on to old tech – from faxes to VCRs”.

More than 40 years since the fax machine became an office mainstay, it seems the party is finally over. With telecom providers no longer required to offer fax services, these machines may soon be consigned to the dusty attic of bygone tech. But for the TikTok generation, who’ve never known life without wifi, concepts such as fax, dial-up internet and Friday night trips to Blockbuster Video aren’t just outdated, they’re completely alien. Even so, not everyone has forgotten about the charms of older technology. From the clattering keys of an old typewriter to the nostalgic joy of a chunky Walkman, some people have never left their favourite tech behind….

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, Bruce D. Arthurs, Danny Sichel, Rick Moen, Dann, Steven French, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern (offered with apologies to Peter S Beagle’s opening sentence in his A Fine And Private Place.)]

Pixel Scroll 12/1/22 We Reserved A Table For Nine In The Pipeweed Smoking Section… The Name Is Gandalf. Gee Ay Enn Dee Ay Ell Eff

(1) NUMBER, PLEASE. Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny comes to theaters June 30, 2023. It’s the first fifth in the series!

Harrison Ford returns as the legendary hero archaeologist in the highly anticipated fifth installment of the iconic “Indiana Jones” franchise, which is directed by James Mangold (“Ford v Ferrari,” “Logan”). Starring along with Ford are Phoebe Waller-Bridge (“Fleabag”), Antonio Banderas (“Pain and Glory”), John Rhys-Davies (“Raiders of the Lost Ark”), Shaunette Renee Wilson (“Black Panther”), Thomas Kretschmann (“Das Boot”), Toby Jones (“Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom”), Boyd Holbrook (“Logan”), Oliver Richters (“Black Widow”), Ethann Isidore (“Mortel”) and Mads Mikkelsen (“Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore”).

(2) BUT FIRST! Marvel Studios’ Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 3 will get a head start, arriving in theaters on May 5, 2023. Screen Crush took notes on the new trailer: “’Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’ Trailer Teases the Team’s End”

…Right off the bat, you’ll see the Guardians wearing matching team uniforms for the first time — uniforms that come right out of the Guardians comic books that first inspired this movie franchise.

But just because they’re dressing as a unit doesn’t mean things are going well on the team. This Vol. 3 trailer strongly implies the film will mark the end of the team — and that some of the characters may die along the way. Several of the characters, including Chris Pratt’s Star-Lord and Dave Bautista’s Drax, are shown badly wounded, and there is a lot of ominous talk from Bradley Cooper’s Rocket about them all flying away together “one last time.”

(3) NELSON AT PKD CEREMONY. Here are two photos of Ray Nelson, who died yesterday, taken by Andrew Porter when Nelson received his Philip K. Dick Award citation in 1983.

(4) MISSING ARMAGEDDON. James Davis Nicoll recommends “Five SF Works About Sitting Out World War III” at Tor.com. Three of them were published in 1984 – feel free to propound your own theory about that!

Although recent history suggests that humans as a whole (or at least their leaders) are perfectly comfortable with the ever-present risk of a global nuclear exchange, individual authors appear to be more ambivalent. Perhaps it’s some unnatural “life wish.” One coping mechanism that appeared over and over in SF written during the Cold War was to suppose that nations allied with one superpower or another could arrange to sit out World War III, thus suffering only indirect effects….

(5) ARABIC LITERATURE PRIZE. The three-book shortlist for the 2022 Banipal Prize of Arabic Literature in Translation includes one work of genre interest, Slipping by Mohamed Kheir, translated by Robin Moger. The winner will be announced in February.

Here is the description of Slipping:

A struggling journalist named Seif is introduced to a former exile with an encyclopedic knowledge of Egypt’s obscure, magical places. Together, as explorer and guide, they step into the fragmented, elusive world the Arab Spring left behind. They trek to an affluent neighborhood where giant corpse flowers rain from the sky. They join an anonymous crowd in the dark, hallucinating together before a bare cave wall. They descend a set of stairs to the spot along the Nile River where, it’s been said, you can walk on water. But what begins as a fantastical excursion through a splintered nation quickly winds its way inward as Seif begins to piece together the trauma of his own past, including what happened to Alya, his lover with the remarkable ability to sing any sound: crashing waves, fluttering wings, a roaring inferno.

(6) THE WELL DRESSED FAN. This is a public service announcement for the Glasgow2024 Shop at Redbubble where you can buy your 2024 Worldcon gear.

(7) THE VALUE OF FICTION. Jason Sanford has a good essay in Apex Magazine about why reading and writing fiction is important: “How Can You Be?”

… It’s interesting how our world’s “serious” people always find a way to dismiss things. How there are always people finding ways to insist other people’s activities and loves are not up to the task of dealing with life. How, to them, the time is never right to create art and fiction and anything else they deem frivolous.

I suspect such attitudes have always existed. In the 18th and 19th centuries, the emerging genre of novels such as those of Jane Austen were looked down upon by serious people. Similar attitudes were directed toward the science fiction, fantasy, and horror genres for a large part of the 20th century. Most other creative and artistic pursuits have experienced similar tut-tuttings, with the short list of creative fields being dismissed over the decades including movies, TV shows, jazz, comic books, hip hop, video games, rap, manga, anime, and cosplay.

Hell, it’s a safe bet that every type of art and storytelling has been dismissed at one time or another by the world’s serious people….

(8) WOJTOWICZ MOURNED. Hania Wojtowicz of Toronto, who’s been active in Midwestern fandom for decades, died December 1 of cancer. Her brother Steve Klimczuk announced her passing on Facebook.

(9) ALINE KOMINSKY-CRUMB (1948-2022). Underground comix artist Aline Kominsky-Crumb died November 29 reports Forbes.

…Kominsky-Crumb was a founding member of the influential all-female collective that produced the anthology Wimmin’s Comix, a long-running feminist comic published by Last Gasp from 1972-1985. Kominsky-Crumb, along with artist Diane Noomin, broke with the group in the mid-1970s to do their own publication, Twisted Sisters. Both comics were some of the first to deal squarely with the political issues around female empowerment, criticism of the patriarchy, sexual politics, lesbianism and other topics central to feminist ideology….

She is surivived by her husband, comix creator Robert Crumb.  

(10) MEMORY LANE.

1914 [By Cat Eldridge.] Winnie the Pooh Birthplace statue

The only reason for being a bee is to make honey. And the only reason for making honey is so I can eat it. — Pooh

Continuing our look at the statues of great genre characters, we come to the one of commemorating the birthplace as it is of Winnie the Pooh and no, it’s not somewhere in in a quaint corner of Britain. 

On Aug. 24, 1914, Lt. Harry Colebourn, a Canadian veterinarian and soldier with the Royal Canadian Army Veterinary Corps, came across an orphaned female bear cub while on a train stop in White River, Ontario. So he bought her for twenty dollars.

He then named her Winnipeg, shorten than to Winnie, after his hometown, and she travelled with him to Britain, where he became the very unofficial regimental mascot for five years before she was donated to the London zoo where she resided the rest of her life — that’s where she caught the attention of a boy named Christopher Robin and his father, A.A. Milne — which is how Milne came to use her as the basis of Winnie the Pooh. 

The town apparently did not know that Milne had named Winnie the Pooh after her until the Eighties. They now have an annual celebration of All Things Pooh, Winnie’s Hometown Festival, thirty-four years old this year and held every year save the Pandemic years, including a street parade in honor of the “tubby little cubby all stuffed with fluff.” 

Of course, the Mouse decided to be an absolute idiot as they always do without fail. Their lawyers in the Nineties sent a letter to them refusing the town’s request to build a Winnie the Pooh statue. They suggested that the town build a statue of the original black bear instead. They backed down when the publicity got really, really hostile towards them in the States.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 1, 1886 Rex Stout. He did several genre or at least genre adjacent novels, to wit How Like A GodThe President Vanishes and his lost world tale, Under the Incas. Though I’ve read lots of Stout, I’ve not read these. ISFDB also lists Rue Morgue No. 1 as genre but this appears to be mysteries or possibly straightforward pulp tales that he co-edited with Louis Greenfield. Anyone here who read it? (Died 1975.)
  • Born December 1, 1905 Charles G. Finney. Writer and Editor. It’s rare that I pick writers whose main accomplishment is one work which has defined them, but his one such work is, well, phenomenal. His first novel and most famous work, The Circus of Dr. Lao, won one of the inaugural National Book Awards for the Most Original Book of 1935; it is most decidedly fantasy. A film adaptation, 7 Faces of Dr. Lao, was a 1965 Hugo nominee. Ray Bradbury liked the novel so much that he included a magazine-published excerpt as the headline story in his anthology The Circus of Dr. Lao and Other Improbable Stories; it is said that the carnival in his Something Wicked This Way Comes is modeled upon The Circus of Dr. Lao. (Died 1984.)
  • Born December 1, 1942 John Crowley, 80. I’m tempted to say he’s a frelling literary genius and stop there but I won’t. Mythopoeic Fantasy Award and World Fantasy Award winning Little, Big is brilliant but if anything his crow-centric novel of Ka: Dar Oakley in the Ruin of Ymr which received the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award makes that novel look like child’s play in comparison. (Yes Little, Big did a Hugo nomination at Chicon IV.) Did you know he wrote a novella called The Girlhood of Shakespeare’s Heroines? Or Lord Byron’s Novel: The Evening Land, which contains an entire imaginary novel by the poet? 
  • Born December 1, 1956 Bill Willingham, 66. Writer and Artist who is best known, I’d say for his long-running, four-time Hugo finalist Fables comic series – though personally I think his best work was Proposition Player, in which the souls of those lost in a card game become entangled in the politics of Heaven and Hell. He got his start in the late 1970s to early 1980s as a staff artist for TSR Games, where he was the cover artist for the AD&D Player Character Record Sheets and a lot of other games. I must mention his superb 1980s comic book series Elementals, and he later wrote the equally excellent Shadowpact for DC. I was always ambivalent about the Jack of Fables series which he spun off of Fables, but his House of Mystery was rather good as well. His work has been recognized with several Eisner Awards, and he was honored as a Special Guest at Renovation.
  • Born December 1, 1962 Gail Z. Martin, 60. Best known for known for The Chronicles of The Necromancer fantasy adventure series. Her single award to date, and it is impressive, is the Manly Wade Wellman Award for North Carolina Science Fiction and Fantasy for her Scourge novel. It was the seventh time that she had been a finalist for it. 
  • Born December 1, 1964 Jo Walton, 58.  She won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in 2002 and the World Fantasy award for her novel Tooth and Claw in which dragons got positively and delightfully Victorian. Even if they eat each other. Really they do. Her Small Change trilogy may be the finest WW II novels I’ve read bar none, and her Sulien series is an excellent retelling of the Arthurian myth. Among Others she says is about the “coming-of-age experience of having books instead of people for friends and solace”. I can relate to that as I imagine many here can too. And let’s not overlook so stellar An Informal History of the Hugos: A Personal Look Back at the Hugo Awards, 1953-2000 nominated at Dublin 2019.
  • Born December 1, 1970 Greg Ruth, 52. Artist and Illustrator who has provided covers and interior art for dozens of genre fiction works and comics, including the Lodestar Award-winning Akata Warrior, and the new hardcover and German editions of Nnedi Okorafor’s Hugo-winning Binti series. His art has earned four Chesley nominations, winning once, and has been selected for numerous editions of the industry year’s best art book, Spectrum; he was one of five artists selected for the Spectrum jury in 2015. His covers for the German editions of Okorafor’s Lagoon and Book of the Phoenix were nominated for the Kurd-Laßwitz-Preis, and Lagoon took home the trophy. Interestingly, he has created two music videos – for Prince and Rob Thomas (of Matchbox Twenty). (JJ)
  • Born December 1, 1985 Janelle Monáe, 37. Writer, Actor, Composer, Singer and Producer who is known for her science-fictional song lyrics and videos. Her debut EP, Metropolis: Suite I (The Chase), is the first in a 7-part conceptual series inspired by Fritz Lang’s classic SF film; the single “Many Moons”, and her subsequent album, The ArchAndroid, garnered Grammy nominations, and her next album, The Electric Lady, was also acclaimed. She released the album Dirty Computer, with a companion 48-minute mini-movie which is very much a science fiction film. She played a lead role in the Hugo- and Oscar-nominated film Hidden Figures, and has also had guest appearances on Stargate Universe and Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams. (JJ)

(12) COMICS SECTION.

(13) TAFF LIBRARY GROWS. The Lindsay Report by Scots fan Ethel Lindsay reprints the Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund delegate’s trip report in ebook form. You can download it at the link, and if you enjoy any of the free ebooks on the site, a donation to TAFF is a fine way to express your appreciation.

Ethel Lindsay (1921-1996), a prolific Scots fan active from the early 1950s as fanzine editor, writer, publisher, reviewer and social organizer, was the first female winner of the TransAtlantic Fan Fund. She travelled under the auspices of TAFF to the USA for the 1962 World SF Convention: Chicon III in Chicago. Before and after Chicon she visited fans in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and elsewhere, and lost little time in describing her adventures in The Lindsay Report (1963), now digitized for this ebook.

1962 was unusual in that were three UK fan fund delegates at that year’s Worldcon, whose paths also crossed elsewhere in the USA. The other two were Walt and Madeleine Willis, brought from Northern Ireland by the Tenth Anniversary Willis Fund (TAWF). Thus there are three complementary trip reports: Ethel’s The Lindsay Report, Walt’s Twice Upon a Time and Madeleine’s The DisTAWF Side. Both Willis reports have been combined as another TAFF Free Library ebook, TAWF Times Two (2022). Besides her interactions with the Willises (providing a different perspective on shared events), Ethel also references her friend Ella Parker’s The Harpy Stateside (1962; expanded TAFF ebook), reporting on Ella’s 1961 Worldcon visit and US tour.

Released as an Ansible Editions ebook for the TAFF site on 1 December 2022. The cover artwork by Atom (Arthur Thomson) was the frontispiece of the original The Lindsay Report. 37,000 words.

(14) BUTLER’S GROWING AUDIENCE. [Item by Olav Rokne.] Happened to pick up the print edition of the New York Times yesterday, and read a really thoughtful piece about why Octavia Butler’s work continues to resonate. Then noticed the byline; the piece is written by Hugo finalist Lynell George. “The Visions of Octavia Butler”.

As a science fiction writer, Butler forged a new path and envisioned bold possibilities. On the eve of a major revival of her work, this is the story of how she came to see a future that is now our present….

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Honest Trailers treatment of “Hancock” comes with the warning, “…Prepare for a third act twist that turns an otherwise okay comedy into a complete train wreck…”

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Daniel Dern, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, David Langford, John A Arkansawyer, Olav Rokne, Lloyd Penney, Cora Buhlert, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Socialinjusticeworrier.]

Pixel Scroll 11/26/22 A Pixel Short And A Scroll Late

(1) THE NEW NUMBER ONE. The ever-widening circle of people who are hearing about the death of beloved sf author Greg Bear has resulted in File 770’s obituary notice “Greg Bear (1951-2022)” becoming the site’s most-read post ever. It passed 55,000 hits today.

The previous two record-holders were both from 2015, “Sunday Business Meeting at Sasquan” and “Viewing the Remains of Bradbury’s Home”, each with over 50K hits.  

(2) TOASTS TO GREG BEAR. Also, today at 4:21 p.m. in each time zone people have been offering a rolling toast to Greg Bear, and some have posted photos – like Walter Jon Williams on Facebook.  

Astrid Bear’s own comment on Facebook details what was in her glass:

I sit here near Seattle WA as the skies darken. It’s been an overcast day with occasional rain, so there is no hope of a golden sunset here at ground level. In my glass is a wee dram of Zaya rum from Trinidad and Tobago, one of Greg’s favorites. I am hearted to consider this toast rolling along the globe as sunset travels westward. I know people will be toasting in Australia, Europe, and the Americas, as each in their turn see the shadows draw long.

The memories of Greg will remain with those of us who knew and loved him for many years to come. His books will live on for many more years, even centuries. And that is a grand thing.

To Greg!

——–

Tasting notes: a lot of caramel and vanilla. Almost crème brulee in a glass. The label says “Trinidad and Tobago/Land of the Hummingbird.” Greg loved watching the hummingbirds that come to our flowers and feeders, and he managed to get some very good photographs of them.

(3) BUTLER’S EARLY DAYS. E. Alex Jung chronicles “The Spectacular Life of Octavia E. Butler” at Vulture.

…In her family, Butler went by Junie, short for Junior, and in the world, she went by Estelle or Estella to avoid confusion for people looking for her mother. As a girl, she was shy. She broke down in tears when she had to speak in front of the class. Her youth was filled with drudgery and torment. The first time she remembered someone calling her “ugly” was in the first grade — bullying that continued through her adolescence. “I wanted to disappear,” she said. “Instead, I grew six feet tall.” The boys resented her growth spurt, and sometimes she would get mistaken for a friend’s mother or chased out of the women’s bathroom. She was called slurs. It was the only time in her life she really considered suicide.

She kept her own company. In her elementary-school progress reports, one teacher wrote that “she dreams a lot and has poor concentration.” That was true. She did dream a lot, and she began to write her dreams down in a large pink notebook she carried around with her. “I usually had very few friends, and I was lonely,” Butler said. “But when I wrote, I wasn’t.” By the time she was 10, she was writing her own worlds. At first, they were inspired by animals. She loved horses like those in The Black Stallion. When she saw an old pony at a carnival with festering sores swarmed by flies, she realized the sores had come from the other kids kicking the animal to make it go faster. Children’s capacity for cruelty stayed with her. She went home and wrote stories of wild horses that could shape-shift and that “made fools of the men who came to catch them.”…

(4) BRINGING THEM BACK TO LIGHT. Cora Buhlert’s new “Fancast Spotlight” is “Tales from the Trunk”.

Tell us about your podcast or channel.

Tales from the Trunk is a podcast about the stories that we, as writers, have had to give up on for one reason or another. Every episode, an author comes on to read a story out of their trunk, or in the case of book tour episodes to read an excerpt from a new or forthcoming release, and chat about the writing life, the reasons that some stories just don’t make it, and why every word you write is its own victory. Episodes come out on the first and third Friday of every month.

Who are the people behind your podcast or channel?

Tales from the Trunk is hosted and produced by author Hilary B. Bisenieks (that’s me). I’m joined each episode by a guest author who works in science fiction, fantasy, horror, and beyond….

(5) GOING HOG WILD. Cora Buhlert has also debuted another “Masters-of-the-Universe-Piece Theatre: ‘Pig Invasion’”.

… Now I have a soft spot for pigs in general and the villain Pig-Head is a delightfully goofy character, a pig with a Samurai-style helmet in the most mid 1980s colour scheme ever. So once I spotted him for a good price, I bought him.

Since I like taking photos of new arrivals, I made a short photo story to post on Twitter before Twitter goes belly-up altogether, something which is looking increasingly likely.

So let’s see what happens when Pig-Head invades Eternia….

(6) CLOUDS OF PUNK WITNESS. New Lines Magazine appears to have a -punk suffix movement issue, since they published articles about cyberpunk and solarpunk.

Twenty minutes into the future, the transformative effects of computers and networks necessitate that misfits, outcasts and dissenters living on the fringes rebel against the abuse of cutting-edge science and tech for pleasure, profit and power.

That may seem extreme, but if “Star Trek” and its ilk were the summations of the optimism of the Atomic Age, this is the logical conclusion to the nihilism of the Information Age — one where technology won’t usher in the world of tomorrow. One where the solutions of yesterday will be our undoing; one where we wish we had dismantled the system we now live in before it was too late.

…Enter Solarpunk. By its simplest definition, Solarpunk is a literary and art movement which imagines what the future could look like if the human species were actually to succeed in solving the major challenges associated with global warming, from reducing global emissions to overcoming capitalist economic growth as the primary motor of human society. These seemingly titanic tasks are actually pragmatic necessities dictated by scientific knowledge. We know, for example, that it is simply impossible to have infinite economic growth on a finite planet. And yet, this impossibility is exactly where we are still heading towards as a species…

(7) THOUGHT EXPERIMENT. Inverse speculates, “If Neanderthals had survived, this is what the world might look like now”.

For 99 percent of the last million years of our existence, people rarely came across other humans. There were only around 10,000 Neanderthals living at any one time. Today, there are around 800,000 people in the same space that was occupied by one Neanderthal. What’s more, since humans live in social groups, the next nearest Neanderthal group was probably well over 100 kilometers away. Finding a mate outside your own family was a challenge.

Neanderthals were more inclined to stay in their family groups and were wary of new people. If they had outcompeted our species (Homo sapiens), the population density would likely be far lower. It’s hard to imagine them building cities, for example, because they were genetically disposed to be less friendly to those beyond their immediate family…

(8) MEMORY LANE.

1968 [By Cat Eldridge.] Charly 

So let’s talk about the film that was based off a Hugo Award winning story. 

Charly premiered fifty-four years ago on this date. It was based off “Flowers for Algernon” which is a short story and a novel by Daniel Keyes. The short story, written in 1958 and first published in the April 1959 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, would win the Hugo Award for Best Short Story at Pittcon. The novel was published in 1966 and was the joint winner of that year’s Nebula Award for Best Novel with Samuel R. Delany’s Babel-17

The scriptwriter for this film was Stirling Silliphant who is best remembered for his screenplay for In the Heat of the Night for which he won an Academy Award the previous year.  Not genre but worth noting is he created the Perry Mason series.

The movie had an outstanding cast of Cliff Robertson, Claire Bloom, Leon Janney, Lilia Skala and Dick Van Patten. 

I’m not going to detail the film here as I’m assuming y’all have seen, so no spoilers this time. May I say I found it a terribly depressing film and leave it at that? 

It’s worth noting that the short story became “The Two Worlds of Charlie Gordon”, a 1961 television adaptation for The United States Steel Hour in which Robertson had also starred. The UCLA Film & Television Archive has it legally up on YouTube so you can watch that version here.

William Goldman was to write the screenplay on the strength of his No Way to Treat a Lady novel and got $30,000 to write a screenplay. However, Cliff Robertson was pissed off with Goldman’s work and he hired to Silliphant write a draft which he found most satisfactory.

It was a hit by the studio, making eight times its budget of just a million dollars. 

I think Vincent Canby, critic for the New York Times, summed it up best in saying that it is a: “self-conscious contemporary drama, the first ever to exploit mental retardation for…the bittersweet romance of it.”  It is still way too depressing and ethically questionable for me, but that’s me. I’ll entertain other opinions of course. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 26, 1897 Naomi Mary Margaret Mitchison, Baroness Mitchison, CBE (née Haldane). Author of many historical novels with genre trappings such as The Corn King and the Spring Queen and The Bull Calves but also new wave SF such as Memoirs of a Spacewoman, pure fantasy Graeme and the Dragon and an Arthurian novel in Chapel Perilous. (Died 1999.)
  • Born November 26, 1919 Frederik Pohl. Writer, editor, and fan who was active for more seventy-five years from his first published work, the 1937 poem “Elegy to a Dead Satellite: Luna” to his final novel All the Lives He Led. That he was great and that he was honored for being great is beyond doubt — If I’m counting correctly, magazines he edited won three Hugos, fiction he wrote won three Hugos and two Nebula Awards, and at the end of his career he circled back around and won the 2010 Best Fan Writer Hugo. His 1979 novel Jem, Pohl won a U.S. National Book Award in the one-off category Science Fiction. SWFA made him the 12th recipient of its Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award in 1993, and he was inducted by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame in 1998. OK, setting aside Awards which are fucking impressive, there’s the matter of him editing Astonishing StoriesGalaxy Science FictionWorlds of If, and Super Science Stories which were a companion to Astonishing Stories, plus the Star Science Fiction anthologies – and well let’s just say the list goes on. I’m sure I’ve not listed something that y’all like here. As writer, he was amazing. My favorite was the Heechee series though I confess some novels were far better than others. Gateway won the Hugo Award for Best Novel, the 1978 Locus Award for Best Novel, the 1977 Nebula Award for Best Novel, and the 1978 John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best Science Fiction Novel. Very impressive. Man Plus I think is phenomenal, the sequel less so. Your opinion of course will no doubt vary. The Space Merchants co-written with Cyril M. Kornbluth in 1952 is, I think, damn fun. (Died 2013.)
  • Born November 26, 1936 Shusei Nagaoka. Artist and Illustrator from Japan who is best known for his music album cover art in the 1970s and 1980s. He designed covers for many of Earth, Wind and Fire’s albums, and many of his covers were very distinctively SFFnal; especially notable are Out of the Blue, by Electric Light Orchestra and When We Rock, We Rock, and When We Roll, We Roll by Deep Purple. His art also graced numerous genre books, including Tepper’s After Long Silence, Attanasio’s The Last Legends of Earth, and Reed’s Down the Bright Way. He helped to design the 1970 Osaka World’s Fair Expo, and had one of the first artworks which was launched into outer space and attained orbit, via the Russian Mir Space Station, in 1991. He won a Seiun Award for Best Artist in 1982. (Died 2015.) (JJ) 
  • Born November 26, 1940 Paul J. Nahin, 82. Engineer and Writer of numerous non-fiction works, some of genre interest, and at least 20 SF short fiction works. Time travel is certainly one of the intrinsic tropes of SF, so certainly there should be at least one academic that specializes in studying it. Oh, there is: I present this Professor Emeritus of electrical engineering at the University of New Hampshire who has written not one, but three, works on the subject, to wit: Time Machines: Time Travel in Physics, Metaphysics, and Science FictionTime Travel: A Writer’s Guide to the Real Science of Plausible Time Travel, and Time Machine Tales: The Science Fiction Adventures and Philosophical Puzzles of Time Travel. No mere dry academic is he, as he’s also had stories published in genre venues which include Analog, Omni, and Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone Magazine. (JJ)
  • Born November 26, 1949 Victoria Poyser-Lisi, 73. Artist, Illustrator, Teacher, and Fan who was inspired at the 1979 World Fantasy Convention to become a genre artist. She did more than a hundred covers and interior illustrations for fanzines, magazines, and books, and won two of her three Hugo Award nominations for Best Fan Artist. She now works in collaborative children’s book illustration and instructional painting books, and teaches drawing and painting courses in Colorado. (JJ) 
  • Born November 26, 1961 Steve Macdonald, 61. Musician, Writer, Singer, Filker, and Fan. He served for several years as the Evangelista for the Pegasus Awards (the Filkers’ most prestigious awards, given out by the Ohio Valley Filk Fest), and was responsible for many changes in the award process that led to greater participation among the voting base. In 2001, he attended ten filk conventions around the world and recorded filkers singing “Many Hearts, One Voice”, a song he had composed; the tracks were merged electronically for the WorlDream project to celebrate the new millennium. He has won six Pegasus Awards, for Best Performer, Writer/Composer, Filk Song, Adapted Song, Dorsai Song, and Myth Song. He has been Filk Guest of Honor at numerous conventions, and was inducted into the Filk Hall of Fame in 2006, after which he emigrated to Germany to marry fellow filker Katy Droge, whom he had met eight years before at OVFF. (JJ)

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Mutts is one of the many comics paying tribute to Charles Schulz today on the 100th anniversary of his birth.

(11) MAKING NEW STAR WARS FANS. The conclusion of Andor has people raving (favorably). Here’s a transcript of NPR’s “Movie Review: ‘Andor’”. Beware spoilers.

…DEL BARCO: Showrunner Tony Gilroy created the show after working on “Rogue One” and having written movies such as “Michael Clayton” and the “Bourne Identity” franchise. For many years, he’s been fascinated with empires and revolutions throughout history.

GILROY: I mean, I have a library downstairs just on the Russian Revolution alone. I can go between the Montagnards and the Haitians and the ANC and the Irgun and the French Resistance and the Continental Congress. And literally, you could drop a needle throughout the last 3,000 years of recorded history, and it’s passion. It’s need. It’s people being swept away by betrayal and their own ability and failure to commit. And, oh, my God, it’s just everything.

DEL BARCO: Gilroy infused that kind of drama into “Andor,” and he’s been pleasantly surprised by the passionate reaction by critics and fans, even those like himself who were not necessarily hardcore “Star Wars” aficionados before….

(12) JPLRON. Space.com introduces listeners to “’Blood, Sweat & Rockets:’ Podcast series looks at colorful founders of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab”. The direct link to the podcast is: Blood, Sweat and Rockets.

The early years of rocketry weren’t all about horn-rimmed glasses and slide rules. 

Some of the 20th century’s most important aerospace pioneers were incredibly colorful characters — folks like Jack Parsons, a handsome young chemist who conducted occult rituals with L. Ron Hubbard and sold bootleg nitroglycerine during the Great Depression.

Parsons’ many interests also extended to the nascent field of rocket science: He helped establish the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Southern California, which eventually became NASA’s lead center for robotic exploration.

…A new podcast called “Blood, Sweat & Rockets (opens in new tab)” delves into the lives and work of Parsons and his circle, which included fellow JPL co-founders Frank Malina and Theodore von Kármán. Some of these ambitious engineers, Parsons and Malina among them, were part of a group called the Suicide Squad. The name came from their aggressive approach to rocket research, as the podcast will doubtless detail….

(13) SHADES OF WEIRD TALES. Cora Buhlert has done a “Retro Review” for “’The Hanging of Alfred Wadham’ by E.F. Benson”, which she feels is “a not very good ghost story” that appeared in Weird Tales in 1929.

 …In addition to satirical novels about upper class people being jerks, Benson also wrote a lot of ghost stories and this is what brought him to the attention of H.P. Lovecraft, who wrote admiringly about Benson’s work in “Supernatural Horror in Literature”, and finally to Weird Tales….

(14) SF SCREENPLAY CONTEST. The Geneva International Science in Fiction Screenplay Awards are taking entries through December 2. Full details at the link.

GISFSA is a science related and Sci-Fi screenplay contest based out of Geneva, Switzerland, sponsored by the local production company, Turbulence Films, and CineGlobe the film festival of the CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research).

Our roots in scientific research and connections makes GISFSA the premiere science and sci-fi screenplay contest. We connect winners with the most reputable scientists in the world, who regularly advise on sci-fi pictures.

When submitting a screenplay, all content is analyzed through our sponsors at Scriptmatix, the industry’s leading content evaluation technology company.

For Screenplay Contests:
CONTEST ENTRIES receive analytics on their screenplay’s execution across multiple categories.
ENTRIES + ANALYSIS receive full analytics and evaluative write-ups….

(15) CAST(ING) OF HUNDREDS. “’The sheer scale is extraordinary’: meet the titanosaur that dwarfs Dippy the diplodocus” in the Guardian.

It will be one of the largest exhibits to grace a British museum. In spring, the Natural History Museum in London will display the skeleton of a titanosaur, a creature so vast it will have to be shoehorned into the 9-metre-high Waterhouse gallery.

One of the most massive creatures ever to have walked on Earth, Patagotitan mayorum was a 57-tonne behemoth that would have shaken the ground as it stomped over homelands which now form modern Patagonia. Its skeleton is 37 metres long, and 5 metres in height – significantly larger than the museum’s most famous dinosaur, Dippy the diplodocus, which used to loom over its main gallery.

…The remains of Patagotitan mayorum were uncovered in 2010 when a ranch owner in Patagonia came across a gigantic thigh bone sticking out of the ground. Argentinian fossil experts later dug up more than 200 pieces of skeleton, the remains of at least six individual animals.

Casts have been made of these bones by the Museo Paleontológico Egidio Feruglio in Trelew, Patagonia, and these form the skeleton that will go on display in London in March.

“The number of bones uncovered represents a treasure trove of material,” said Sinead Marron, the exhibition’s lead curator. “It means we now know a lot more about this species than we do about many other dinosaurs.”…

(16) GOOD NIGHT OPPY REVIEW. The New York Times shows why “This Mars Documentary Required Many Sols”.

Early in the documentary “Good Night Oppy,” footage from late 2002 shows Steve Squyres, clad in scrubs, staring down in quiet awe, his eyes welling up as he shakes his head in disbelief. Squyres, the principal investigator for NASA’s first Mars rover mission, is watching his babies take their first steps.

That at least is the sense one gets from the improbably sentimental journey at the core of this movie (which begins streaming Wednesday on Amazon Prime Video) about the Mars exploration rovers Spirit and Opportunity (a.k.a. Oppy). Squyres vividly remembers experiencing this exact moment from the film.

“The first time it sort of came to life, it was a very, very moving experience,” he said recently over Zoom.

Squyres had long awaited the moment. A former geologist, he had worked on Mars exploration proposals for 10 years, including three failed submissions to NASA, before spending another six years, including three cancellations and revivals of the mission, building the machines.

As much as “Good Night Oppy” chronicles the depth of the human achievement behind the Mars rover mission — which was initially planned for a roughly 90-day stretch but instead lasted 15 years — the film is anchored most of all by a kind of pure devotion and connection to the rovers.

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. How It Should Have Ended says this is “How Top Gun Maverick Should Have Ended”.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Cora Buhlert, Francis Hamit, Jack William Bell, Mike Kennedy, JJ, John King Tarpinian, and Chris Barkley for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Lis Carey.]

Pixel Scroll 11/2/22 Please Send In Two Hypercube Tops As Proof Of Ob, To Receive Your Free Pixel Scroll Title

(0) SCROLL LITE. Still full of symptoms, but a bit more energetic than yesterday. Yay!

(1) WHAT DO YOU KNOW? You can catch up on the results of two genre-oriented trivia events at LearnedLeague.

The One-Day Special quiz for The Last Unicorn has now concluded, and the questions can be seen by the general public. Here’s a link to it. Filer David Goldfarb got 10/12 right, ranking 36th out of 247 players.

Here’s another LearnedLeague quiz, about Octavia Butler. You can find it by following this link. Goldfarb got 11/12 on that one, ranking 14th out of 356.

(2) MEMORY LANE.

2019 [By Cat Eldridge.] In Dublin 2019 which was forty-nine years after she got her first Hugo at Heicon ‘70 for The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula Le Guin would receive her final Hugo for The Books of Earthsea: The Complete Illustrated Edition. It came on the 50th anniversary of first publication of A Wizard of Earthsea.

The original novels that comprise this lovely work, beginning with A Wizard of Earthsea (1968), The Tombs of Atuan, (1970) and The Farthest Shore (1972), were amazingly, at least to my thinking, not nominated for Hugos.

I’ve got a copy and I can say that is is indeed a stellar work. There’s an introduction done by her for this edition also  It also includes TehanuThe Other Wind, “The Daughter of Odren” novelette, the Tales From Earthsea collection and two short stories, “The Rule of Names” and The Word of Unbinding”. It also “Earthsea Revisioned: A Lecture at Oxford University”, her lecture there. 

There were among fans online complaints about its price. Really? You got five novels plus other goodies in an oversized lavishly illustrated volume that was immediately a collectors item and you’re complaining? Proof that some fans are born kvetchers. 

It was not awarded a Best Novel Hugo but instead was awarded Best Art Book with its illustrations being by Charles Vess who won Best Professional Artist  that same year. Vess has illustrated a lot of the work of Charles de Lint including A Circle of Cats and The Cats of Tanglewood Forest.

(3) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 2, 1913 Burt Lancaster. Certainly being Dr. Paul Moreau on The Island of Doctor Moreau was his most genre-ish role but I like him as General James Mattoon Scott in Seven Days in May. And, of course, he’s really great as Moonlight Graham in Field of Dreams. (Died 1994.)
  • Born November 2, 1927 Steve Ditko. Illustrator who began his career working in the studio of Joe Simon and Jack Kirby during which he began his long association with Charlton Comics and which led to his creating the Captain Atom character. Did I mention DC absorbed that company as it did so many others? Now he’s best known as the artist and co-creator, with Stan Lee, of Spider-Man and Doctor Strange. For Charlton and also DC itself, including a complete redesign of Blue Beetle, and creating or co-creating The Question, The Creeper, Shade the Changing Man, and Hawk and Dove.  He’s been inducted into the Jack Kirby Hall of Fame and into the Will Eisner Award Hall of Fame. (Died 2018.)
  • Born November 2, 1941 Ed Gorman. He’d be here if only for writing the script for the  Batman: I, Werewolf series in which Batman meets a werewolf. Very cool. More straight SFF is his Star Precinct trilogy with Kevin Randle which is quite excellent, and I’m fond of his short fiction which fortunately is showing up in digital form at the usual spots. (Died 2016.)
  • Born November 2, 1942 Stefanie Powers, 80. April Dancer, the lead in The Girl from U.N.C.L.E. which lasted just one season. Did you know Ian Fleming contributed concepts to this series and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. as well?  She would play Shalon in the crossover that started on The Six-Million Man and concluded on The Bionic Woman called “The Return of Bigfoot”. 
  • Born November 2, 1942 Carol Resnick. 80. Wife of that Resnick who credited her according to several sources with being a co-writer on many of his novels. He also credited her as being a co-author on two movie scripts that they’ve sold, based on his novels Santiago and The Widowmaker. And she’s responsible for the costumes in which she and Mike appeared in five Worldcon masquerades in the Seventies, winning awards four times.
  • Born November 2, 1949 Lois McMaster Bujold, 73. First let’s note she’s won the Hugo Award for best novel four times, matching Robert A. Heinlein’s record, not counting his Retro Hugo. Quite impressive that. Bujold’s works largely comprises three separate book series: the Vorkosigan Saga, the Chalion series, and the Sharing Knife series. She joined the Central Ohio Science Fiction Society, and co-published with Lillian Stewart Carl StarDate, a Trek fanzine in which a story of hers appeared under the byline Lois McMaster.
  • Born November 2, 1959 Peter Mullan, 63. Actor and Filmmaker from Scotland whose first genre role is in FairyTale: A True Story, which is based very loosely based on the story of the Cottingley Fairies (and which makes for interesting reading, if you have the time). He played Corban Yaxley in both parts of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and is currently in a recurring role on the Westworld series as the James Delos character.

(4) COMICS SECTION.

(5) THE CHASE. This is the best thing I’ve seen today!

(6) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Alasdair Beckett-King dropped this Lovecraft parody on Saturday.

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

Pixel Scroll 10/14/22 The Sky Was Full Of Scrolls

(1) DANGER MAN. Max Gladstone holds forth about “The Wolfeman” at The Third Place.

Gene Wolfe is a tricky writer to discuss.

For a certain type of reader (generally but not exclusively a reader of science fiction), he is The Author. He is axiomatically intelligent and referential. His texts are not merely without flaw—they are without accident, each element load-bearing. If any piece of text (or elision) in a Gene Wolfe novel could be read to suggest vast churning implications invisible to the casual reader, it has definitely been read that way by someone on the internet. The terrifying thing is that many of these readings are not wrong. They’re not even generous. They are sometimes, even often, the readings that most account for the facts of the text.

And this is why talking about his books and stories feels dangerous. To discuss, say, Wolfe’s PEACE, which I recently finished re-reading, one must put forth some theories about what PEACE is, what’s happening both in the book and between the lines of this book. This raises two risks.

First, one risks short-circuiting another reader’s tremendous and eerie process of discovery. (Even as I write this very general description, I worry: am I doing the literary equivalent of recommending a movie by saying it “has a great twist”? But PEACE isn’t about twists. It’s about the experience of realizing how much attention one should pay. More on this in a bit.)

Second, when one puts forth a theory, one risks being wrong….

(2) CAN*CON LEADERSHIP CHANGE. Derek Künsken is stepping down after nearly 11 years as Co-Chair of Can*Con, Ottawa’s literary scifi and fantasy conference. The conference has won Canadian national awards and is the major con in Eastern Canada. Marie Bilodeau, currently co-chair, will assume the chair role solo. “A Message from Derek Künsken, Programming Co-Chair: Don’t worry, I left Marie the Keys, or Hayden was right again”.

… Marie will lead the conference to its next successes and glories. She’s got a great team, great ideas and she’s a community leader I would follow anywhere. I’ll remain a member of the board of directors, and I’ll suggest panel ideas from time to time and I’ll apply to be on programming and see if they take me…

(3) MASKED AND UNMASKED IN ABUNDANCE. “Fans Come Roaring Back to New York Comic Con 2022”Publishers Weekly gives its assessment.

New York Comic Con returned to the Javits Center October 6-9 at full strength for 2022. The event drew 200,000 attendees, according to a spokesperson for ReedPop, the show organizer.

The show floor was crammed with enthusiastic fans of media and with cosplayers, who enjoyed elaborate displays from mostly manga and toy companies. However, the show floor was not crammed with mask-wearing attendees. Despite a mandate from ReedPop that masks would be required—and volunteers handing them out at the door—enforcement was lax, with less than 50% of the crowd wearing one at many times. Compliance was similarly mixed among booth workers and creators who set up displays. Although some booth workers were vocal on social media and in-person about their alarm over the lack of Covid masking protocols, many workers behind tables were unmasked most of the time as well.

Whether NYCC will be another super spreader event, like some recent pop culture events, remains to be seen, but it was clear that the general public anxiety over Covid is receding in this new and more complacent era….

(4) A LEARNEDLEAGUE THROWBACK. Courtesy of David Goldfarb.

Question 2 of match day 18 of LearnedLeague season 87, in December of 2020 asked us:

Kindred, the Parable/Earthseed series, and Bloodchild and Other Stories are well-known works of what Hugo and Nebula Award-winning American author, a “godmother of Afrofuturism” who became in 1995 the first science fiction author to be granted a MacArthur fellowship?

The answer of course is Octavia E. Butler. 32% of players got this right league-wide, with the most common wrong answer being Ursula K. LeGuin (perhaps some people confused “Earthseed” with “Earthsea”).

(5) GET IT ON THE CALENDAR. The winner of the 2022 Ursula K. Le Guin Prize for Fiction will be named on October 21 in a virtual event hosted by actor and author Anthony Rapp. There will be readings from the authors of the nine shortlisted books before they reveal the inaugural prize winner.

(6) GENRE SHOPPING. Netflix merch can be bought here: “Vecna comes to the Grove as Netflix debuts pop-up store” in the Los Angeles Times.

A life-sized version of Vecna from the popular sci-fi series “Stranger Things ” and Queen Charlotte’s throne from drama “Bridgerton” are coming to the Grove.

The photo opportunities are part of Netflix’s new store opening Thursday at the L.A. shopping center.

Inside the 10,000-square-foot space, fans will be able to buy merchandise related to popular Netflix shows including the dollhouse from “Gabby’s Dollhouse,” Funko collectible figures from “Squid Game” and “Stranger Things”-related clothing, such as a Hellfire Club raglan shirt or Palace Arcade hoodie.

The store will be open from Thursday until Jan. 6….

(7) TAKE THE CASH AND LET THE CREDIT GO. AbeBooks shared the 15 “Most expensive sales from July to September 2022”. There are many sf and fantasy works among them.

#4 — The Dark Tower by Stephen King – $24,000

No introductions are necessary for Mr King, who released a new novel called Fairy Tale in September. These are the nine volumes of King’s Dark Tower fantasy series published by Donald M. Grant, and they have all been signed by the author and their respective illustrator. The nine volumes are Dark Tower: Gunslinger (published in 1982), The Drawing of the Three (1987), The Wastelands (1991), Wizard and Glass (1997), Wolves of the Calla (2003), Song of Susannah (2004), The Dark Tower (2004), The Little Sisters of Eluria (2008), and The Wind Through the Keyhole (2012). All copies are first editions.

#6 — Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K Dick – $21,275

This is the 1968 US first edition of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep published by Doubleday. First editions of this influential science fiction book, which inspired the Blade Runner movies, are scarce.

This book was sold with an original letter to Venom Magazine typed and signed by Philip K Dick. In the letter, which was also published in The Selected Letters of Philip K. Dick 1980-1982, Dick asks if he can review his own work. The third part of this sale is Dick’s typed humorous review of his own book, The Divine Invasion.

#7 — A Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne – $20,000

An 1874 first American edition of A Journey to the Center of the Earth, published by Scribner Armstrong and Co, with a laid-in author signature. Verne’s novel imagines an underground world inhabited by prehistoric creatures where travel is possible via volcanic tubes.

#9 — Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Seas by Jules Verne – $17,500

An 1873 first edition of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Seas published by James R. Osgood. This underwater adventure story first appeared in serial form in a French periodical in 1871. Verne’s depiction of the Nautilus correctly foresaw the impact that submarines would have on the maritime world, starting in World War I when both Germany and Britain used submarines to sink naval and merchant shipping.

#11 — Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling – $12,500

A 1997 Bloomsbury first edition fourth printing of the first Harry Potter book, signed by J.K. Rowling on the front free endpaper with its original dust jacket. This copy includes a rare Harry Potter postcard signed by the author.

#13 — A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens – $12,000

An 1843 first edition first printing published by Chapman & Hall bound in half maroon morocco letter. A Christmas Carol was published on December 19 in 1843 and became an instant bestseller. A novella, this book helped craft the modern version of Christmas with its focus on family, food, and giving. Scrooge has entered the lexicon for anyone who is tight-fisted. AbeBooks sold another first edition of this book, accompanied by a Dickens letter, earlier in 2022 for $20,000.

(8) ROBBIE COLTRANE (1950-2022). The Scots actor Robbie Coltrane, famed as Hagrid in the Harry Potter movies, who also starred in the British crime drama Cracker, died October 14 at the age of 72. The cause of death was not disclosed. The Hollywood Reporter’s profile includes more genre roles.

…Coltrane’s early TV credits include Flash Gordon, Blackadder and Keep It in the Family. His other comedy credits included series like A Kick Up the Eighties, The Comic Strip and Alfresco as he became a mainstay on British TV screens.

Coltrane’s breakout role was playing Dr. Edward “Fitz” Fitzgerald, an anti-social criminal psychologist with a gift for solving crimes, in Jimmy McGovern’s Cracker series, which ran over 25 episodes between 1993 and 2006.

That BAFTA-winning performance led Coltrane to roles in two James Bond films as he played Valentin Zukovsky in GoldenEye and The World Is Not Enough…. 

(9) MEMORY LANE.

1983 [By Cat Eldridge.] Something Wicked This Way Comes film (1983)

Look, it’s Autumn, isn’t it? Therefore shouldn’t we talk about one of the Autumnal fantasy films that got done? So let’s converse about Something Wicked This Way Comes which came out thirty-nine years ago though I admit not at this time of year as inexplicably the Mouse released it in April.

It was based as you know upon the Ray Bradbury novel that Simon & Schuster published twenty-one years previously with a cover by Gray Fox.  To my utter amazement, it won absolutely no Awards. Pity that. It has however been continuously in print ever since. Yes, I think it’s a spectacular piece of writing perfectly suited to the season. 

Usually I find films based on works I loved somewhat of letdown but not here as Bradbury wrote the script and a decent amount of his script survived the Mouse mangling it. Yes Bradbury and Mouse became the Kilkenny Cats rather quickly. 

It was directed by Jack Clayton whose only previous film I recognize is The Great Gatsby which was a phenomenal movie. He was a British film director and producer who specialized in bringing literary works to the screen such as The Innocents, so Something Wicked This Way Comes wasn’t really in his wheelhouse. 

It had an amazing cast of these adults: Jason Robards, Jonathan Pryce, Diane Ladd and Pam Grier, plus Vidal Peterson and Shawn Carson as the most important characters here, the boys.  

If you haven’t read or seen it, a deep boo on you as I’m not discussing the story. Let’s just say Bradbury did a wonderful job of moving it from text to video even if the Mouse messed with it which they did. Bad Mouse.. 

Bradbury explains in Zen in the Art of Writing that it started as ‘The Black Ferris’ a 3,000-word story, published in Weird Tales (1948), about two youngsters who suspect there is something peculiar about the carnival that comes to town. The story became a seventy-page screen treatment, Dark Carnival (1958), a project for Gene Kelly to direct. Unproduced, the treatment became a novel, Something Wicked This Way Comes (1962); the novel, a screenplay (1971), then a second screenplay (1976), and… at last, a film.

Bradbury wanted either Peter O’Toole and Christopher Lee to play Mr. Dark. Lee I can see, but O’Toole? However, the Mouse went as cheap as possible and cast someone who wasn’t well known, so hence Jonathan Pryce. This was five years before he shows up in The Adventures of Baron Munchausen.

It bombed at the box office earning just eight million against a twenty million budget. Ouch. 

The film was nominated for a Hugo at L.A. Con II where Return of the Jedi won. 

Oddly enough it is not streaming on Disney +. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 14, 1927 Roger Moore. Bond in seven films 1973 to 1985, a long run indeed. And he played Simon Templar in The Saint for most of the Sixties, an amazing one hundred eighteen episodes. Let’s not forget that he was in the Curse of the Pink Panther as Chief Insp. Jacques Clouseau!  He even got to play Sherlock Holmes in Sherlock Holmes in New York. He wasn’t a bad Sherlock either. (Died 2017.)
  • Born October 14, 1946 Katy Manning, 76. She was Jo Grant, companion to the Third Doctor. She also appeared in that role with the Eleventh Doctor on the Sarah Jane Adventures in a two-part story entitled “Death of the Doctor”. She appears as herself in the The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot.
  • Born October 14, 1949 Crispin Burnham, 73. And then there are those who just disappear.  He was the founder, writer and publisher of Dark Messenger Reader / Eldritch Tales from 1975 to 1995 as the publisher Yith Press. He was also a prolific essayist from 1973 to 1995, his final essay being a reflection on the life and career of Robert Bloch. There’s nothing to show him active after 1998 when the final part of his “People of The Monolith” was published in Cthulhu Cultus #13. Then he vanishes without a trace. 
  • Born October 14, 1953 Richard Christian Matheson, 69. Son of the Richard Matheson that you’re thinking of. A very prolific horror writer mostly of short stories, he’s also no slouch at script writing as he’s written for Amazing StoriesMasters of HorrorThe Powers of Matthew StarSplatterTales from the CryptKnight Rider (the original series) and The Incredible Hulk. Wiki claims he wrote for Roger Zelazny’s The Chronicles of Amber but IMDB shows no such series or show. The usual suspects have a goodly number of story collections available for him.
  • Born October 14, 1953 Greg Evigan, 69. TekWar, one of Shatner’s better ideas, starred him as Jake Cardigan. I really liked it. Yes, Shatner was in it. He also shows up in DeepStar Six as Kevin McBride, as Will South in the horror film Spectre aka The House of The Damned, as Marcus Cutter in Cerberus: The Guardian of Hell, and on the Alfred Hitchcock Presents as David Whitmore in “In the Driver’s Seat”. 
  • Born October 14, 1963 Lori Petty, 59. Rebecca Buck – “Tank Girl” in that film. She was also Dr. Lean Carli in Cryptic, and Dr. Sykes in Dead Awake. She had one-offs in The HungerTwilight ZoneStar Trek: Voyager, BrimstoneFreddy’s Nightmares and Alien Nation, and voiced quite well Livewire in the DCU animated shows.
  • Born October 14, 1968 Robert C. Cooper, 54. He was an executive producer of all the Stargate series. He also co-created both Stargate Atlantis and Stargate Universe with Brad Wright. Cooper has written and produced many episodes of Stargate series as well as directed a number of episodes. I’m really impressed. 

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • Drabble has an unexpected definition of a horror movie.
  • Heart of the City shows friends arguing which date in October deserves to be celebrated.

(12) BACKSTORY IS A DISH BEST SERVED COLD. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] More than 3-1/2 decades after the release of Aliens, one badass Latinx is getting their backstory told. “Pvt. Vasquez from ‘Aliens’ gets her own story in new novel” at Axios.

Pvt. Vasquez, the fictional Latina member of the U.S. Colonial Marine Corps in the 1986 hit sci-fi movie “Aliens,” is getting a backstory in a new novel.

The big picture: The November U.S. release of “Aliens: Vasquez” by Violet Castro comes as writers and artists of color increasingly reimagine minor characters of color from popular sci-fi films.

Background: Castro, a Mexican American writer from San Antonio, Texas, who now lives in London, told Axios she pitched the idea for the book a few months ago after thinking about the big influence the character had in such a small role.

  • “It was one of the few depictions that kind of broke the mold of a domestic worker, farm worker, or gangbanger,” Castro said.
  • “I saw her and I was like, wow, look at this brown woman. She has this bandana and she’s unapologetic about who she is.”…

The intrigue: Castro said that, for her book, she reimagined Vasquez as someone linked to the soldaderas — the women who took up arms during the Mexican Revolution….

(13) STRANGE CHOW. [Item by Scott Edelman.] Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken is now selling Stranger Things-themed doughnuts. They have locations in Washington, D.C. and Falls Church, VA.

(14) JEOPARDY! On tonight’s episode of Jeopardy!, the Final Jeopardy category was “Authors.”

Answer: Featuring a statue of a man escaping his grave, his tomb in Amiens contrasts with the title of his 1864 adventure novel.

Wrong questions: Who is Dumas (two contestants) and Who is Lovecraft?

Correct question: Who is Jules Verne?

Andrew Porter, who sent this item, says he remembers the image from a 1920s issue of Amazing Stories.

(15) TRAIL BLAZER. In Science, “Fireball is traced to far edge of Solar System”. “Rocky meteor suggests distant cloud of comets also contains asteroids.”

….Even if the Oort Cloud is just 1% rocky, explaining how these objects got there from the asteroid belt will challenge theorists, says Alan Jackson, a planetary astronomer at Arizona State University, Tempe. He says the finding could lend support to one hypothesis called the Grand Tack, which suggests that just 3 million years after the Solar System’s birth, Jupiter swooped inward toward the Sun, nearly to Earth’s orbit, before moving back out to near to its current position…

(16) THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOLMES. Netflix dropped this new trailer for Enola Holmes 2.

Fresh off the triumph of solving her first case, Enola Holmes (Millie Bobby Brown) follows in the footsteps of her famous brother, Sherlock (Henry Cavill), and opens her own agency — only to find that life as a female detective-for-hire isn’t as easy as it seems. Resigned to accepting the cold realities of adulthood, she is about to close shop when a penniless matchstick girl offers Enola her first official job: to find her missing sister. But this case proves to be far more puzzling than expected, as Enola is thrown into a dangerous new world — from London’s sinister factories and colorful music halls, to the highest echelons of society and 221B Baker Street itself. As the sparks of a deadly conspiracy ignite, Enola must call upon the help of friends — and Sherlock himself — to unravel her mystery. The game, it seems, has found its feet again!

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] “In Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part 2 Pitch Meeting,” Ryan George says the producer thinks they can split the second Deathly Hallows Movie in Half, and split it again, but the producer convinces him that is a very bad idea.  Once again, the writer says, “when the story demands it, Harry Potter gets visions” that move the story forward. And when Harry Potter gets another narrow escape, the producer says, “these are kind of weird movies, aren’t they?”

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