Pixel Scroll 2/22/24 Home Is The Pixel, Home From The Scroll

(1) WE’RE BACK. “Odysseus becomes first US spacecraft to land on moon in over 50 years”CNN not only has the story, they enlisted Captain Kirk – William Shatner – to help tell it on the air.

The US-made Odysseus lunar lander has made a touchdown on the moon, surpassing its final key milestones — and the odds — to become the first commercial spacecraft to accomplish such a feat, but the condition of the lander remains in question.

Intuitive Machines, however, says the mission has been successful.

“I know this was a nail-biter, but we are on the surface, and we are transmitting,” Intuitive Machines CEO Steve Altemus just announced on the webcast. “Welcome to the moon.”

Odysseus is the first vehicle launched from the United States to land on the moon’s surface since the Apollo 17 mission in 1972.

Mission controllers from Intuitive Machines, the Houston-based company that developed the robotic explorer, confirmed the lander reached the lunar surface Thursday evening….

…After some intense waiting, Intuitive Machines, the company behind the Odysseus lunar landing mission, has confirmed the spacecraft is “upright and starting to send data.”

That’s a major milestone…

William Shatner on CNN.

(2) 2023 BUSINESS MEETING MINUTES POSTED. [Item by Kevin Standlee.] The 2023 WSFS Business Meeting minutes are now available at the WSFS rules page.

All documents are updated except the Resolutions of Rulings of Continuing Effect, which are still being reviewed by the Nitpicking & Flyspecking Committee. 

(3) HELP PAY TRIBUTE TO STEVE MILLER. Sharon Lee is asking people to send Locus their recollections about her husband, Steve Miller, who died on February 20. This link should work: [email protected].

(4) THE YEAR’S BEST AFRICAN SPECULATIVE FICTION VOLUME THREE: CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS. The Year’s Best African Speculative Fiction Volume Three anthology is now open to submissions through March 31, 2024. See full guidelines at the link.

This next volume of the series covers works originally published in 2023. It will be published with a release date of late 2024 under the Caezik SF & Fantasy imprint (Arc Manor).

​Editors for this volume are Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki and Chinaza Eziaghighala.

(5) LINK Q&A. “Interview: Kelly Link on Writing Her First Novel” at New York Magazine.

How did you intellectually and practically and physically and spiritually transition from writing short stories to writing a rather long novel?

Even if one is a short-story writer at heart, this is a world of novels. This is a world where readers love novels, which I get. I love them too. But if you’re a short-story writer, any time that you are talking with somebody, they will say, “Well, have you ever thought about writing a novel?”

My husband and I ran a small press for a couple of decades. I had the enormous privilege of working with a bunch of writers on novels. I also, in my writing life, have a group of friends that I meet with, sometimes on a daily basis, and they are all novelists. We spend a lot of our time talking about the possibilities that novels present to a writer. And I love their books. I get to read them when they’re working on them. And eventually, if you’re me, at least, you start to think, Well, what could I do at this length? My very good friend, one of the writers that I work with, Holly Black, said to me about nine years ago, “If you don’t intentionally write a novel, you will write one by accident. And so you might as well plan out how to do it intentionally.”

(6) MYMAN ON THE 2023 HUGOS. Francesca Myman, who attended the Chengdu Worldcon, has written several illuminating posts about the current Hugo Award crisis.

Here’s the first post from February 16:

…The thing that gets me is, if they truly believed they were taking care of people’s safety, and they couldn’t possibly think about it creatively and find other solutions because {reasons}, they were remarkably blasé about a lack of reasonable guidance.

And it does seem that the internal justification was safety. On June 7 Kat Jones says “I’m pointing out examples of both that I find for these fan writers out of an abundance of caution, because I’m assuming we’re talking about the safety of our Chinese con-running friends when we’re making these evaluations. Maybe any fan writer concerns can be mitigated by asking them to curate their voter packet materials with our Chinese friends’ safety in mind?” Of course, “I’m assuming” isn’t the same thing as “I’m asking” and no answers are given.

Then in the February 3 interview, when Chris Barkley asked if people were likely to be endangered on some sort of social or physical level, Dave’s response was some aggrandizing bluster about “the friends I would make and how much I love them and how much I would set myself on fire for them if I needed to,” which inappropriately puts the blame for everything underhanded and weaselly and inexcusable that he did into the laps of the very people he’s claiming to protect.

I’m not here to say Chinese censorship doesn’t exist, we ourselves had to comply with regulations and couldn’t sell magazines and books at Worldcon and it did cause me a considerable amount of stress (and to be fair it was incredibly difficult to obtain any information about exactly what we needed to do to be in compliance, things like whether or not we were allowed to sell digital subscriptions and the actual problem was physical materials sold on site, or whether no sales at all were permitted), but the active participation of Westerners in hand-selecting targets for censorship is stomach-churning….

The second post appeared on February 17:

Soooo while I do think you should read my last long-but-important post about the Hugos, literally the MOST important news about what happened to the Hugos is this: Vajra Chandrasekera on Bluesky linked to a Chinese language post by “zionius” explaining that the supposed “slate” of Chinese voters that was removed from the voting was actually the result of a recommended list from Chinese publication Science Fiction World, their most respected and popular magazine. To be clear, a close analogy is if people removed a batch of Hugo votes from the voting process because they were listed in the Locus Recommended Reading List and voters had too-similar patterns because of that. A recommended reading list is NOT a slate.

Apparently there were one to nine recommendations per SF World category including both Chinese and non-Chinese creators. I suppose the “one recommendation” category, whatever that was, could be tough — but nine recommendations? That’s quite normal for a recommended reading list. The readership of SF World is vast, way higher than Locus, let me tell you that (Chandrasekera claims it’s bigger than that of every western SF magazine put together which seems plausible to me), so they have a ton of influence, but that doesn’t make it illegal….

The third post came out on February 19:

…If McCarty DID receive an earlier heads-up — I’m envisioning something like “you must remove these things because their inclusion will harm us” — we have no way to be sure. And it’s possible I’m wrong here. We lack a WHOLE lot of papertrail, and it’s probably not the worst thing we don’t have it, in terms of all the aforementioned safety concerns.

About which I would like to add: I imagined that if I had been in the committee’s position I would have been most worried about someone saying something about “Hong Kong, Taiwan, Tibet, negatives of China” onstage. But I don’t really have a basis to determine the impact of speeches, so. . .

. . .I asked an expat friend yesterday what the consequences would be if someone, for example, used the Worldcon stage to opine on the political situation in Taiwan, and got an “eek” face emoji.

Eek face emoji situation, I guess. Here’s what he said, which I found particularly illuminating:

“The entire community would face repercussions. Outright censoring, problems for the organizers, attracting Beijing’s ire. The government liaison who helped bring this thing to Chengdu would have severe career blowback and would either lose position or have to pivot and punish to save themselves. It would be a very selfish thing to do and would hurt the Chinese sci fi community significantly. Think of what happened when Bjork called out ‘Free Tibet!’ She said that one phrase on a stage in Beijing and for a decade + afterwards there was a massive crackdown on all artist performances and a massive impoverishment of live music in general. All the festivals struggled. Probably the most damaging thing done to China’s live music scene in the modern era. And Bjork did it because she didn’t know or care about consequences, she just wanted to say her piece. Because the West teaches Westerners that we are morally superior to everyone else and have a right or obligation to ‘speak truth to power’ especially in non white non European places.”

So based on this and other research I absolutely believe safety concerns were real. Which is why I keep coming back around to the point that the best way of handling that was just letting the rules play out and letting Chinese voters take the lead as they were meant to.

(7) ANOTHER ONE ON THE SHELF. “Stephen King Is Baffled by Decision To Keep New Salem’s Lot Movie on the Shelf” reports Comingsoon.net.

Salem’s Lot Still in Limbo

Back in November of 2023, King championed the adaptation of his celebrated vampire novel, saying it had a feeling of ”Old Hollywood” to it. The movie was originally due to be released in 2022, and then in the Spring of 2023, where it lost its spot on the calendar to Warner horror stablemate Evil Dead Rise.

Then came the SAG-AFTRA strike, which reportedly caused Warner Bros. to reconsider a theatrical release altogether, subsequently being eyed for a streaming debut on Max. However, a Warner spokesperson told Variety that ”No decision has been made about the film’s future distribution plans.”

Yet nothing else has been said about the film’s status since.

King isn’t feeling all that patient with Warner Bros. and has once again reiterated his praise for the film while failing to hide his bafflement at its continued release limbo.

”Between you and me, Twitter, I’ve seen the new SALEM’S LOT, and it’s quite good. Old-school horror filmmaking: slow build, big payoff. Not sure why WB is holding it back; not like it’s embarrassing, or anything. Who knows. I just write the fucking things.”…

(8) PRODUCTION ALMOST SHUTTERED, NOW OSCAR CONTENDER. The Hollywood Reporter found out “Why Megan Ellison Saved the Animated Film ‘Nimona’”.

In January of 2021, Megan Ellison got a call from Erik Lomis, the former head of distribution at her company, Annapurna Pictures, asking if she’d like to take a look at a movie whose filmmakers needed a lifeline. Disney was days away from announcing that it planned to shutter Blue Sky Studios, the 500-person, Greenwich, Connecticut-based animation studio it had inherited in the 2019 Fox acquisition, and with that closure, the Burbank media giant would be dropping Blue Sky’s most promising movie, Nimona.

“I wasn’t really engaging in new film projects at the time, but being curious, I said yes,” Ellison said, in an email.

Ellison watched the hand-drawn storyboard reels, which directors Nick Bruno and Troy Quane had adapted from ND Stevenson’s 2015 graphic novel, and instantly connected with the title character, a shape-shifter voiced by Chloë Grace Moretz who appears most often as a young woman, but can change into animals or other people. “I had never seen a character like Nimona in a film, let alone an animated family movie,” Ellison said. “I needed this movie when I was a kid, and quite frankly, I needed it right then and there. It was the perfect story to come into my life at that moment.”

Nimona — which has LGBTQ themes that Disney executives wanted to downplay — seemed destined to become a tax write-off before Ellison scooped it up. Now the movie, which Netflix released last June, is nominated for an Oscar for animated feature…. 

(9) ANALOG SCORES GERROLD INTERVIEW. There’s a “Q&A With David Gerrold” at The Astounding Analog Companion.

Analog Editor: What is your history with Analog?
David Gerrold: I have a long personal history with Analog. My first year of high school was at Van Nuys High. The library was a good place to hang out at lunch time and they had a subscription to Astounding. I started working my way through every issue they had. Astounding represented (to me) the high point of science fiction magazines. It introduced me to so many great stories and writers, that it became a goal. It was decades before I sold a story to the magazine, but that was one of the high points of my career.
This story was a sequel to an earlier piece where Ganny knit a spaceship out of cables and plastic sheeting. I suspect that construction of habitats in space would probably use a lot more fabricated materials than metal. So that was the spark. But once I’d written about how to build the ship, I began to wonder about the interplanetary politics, the economics, and how it all might work where everything is light minutes away from everything else. I think that’s part of the effect that reading Astounding/Analog had on me—I want to know how things work, especially in science fiction.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born February 22, 1959 Kyle Maclachlan, 65. I of course came to know Kyle Maclachlan first for playing Paul Atreides in David Lynch’s Dune. Like Timothée Chalamet, who was twenty-six when he played Paul Atreides, Maclachlan also was too old at twenty-five for the teen aged character. Just noting that.

(Remember that I’m not going to not noting everything that he’s done, just what I find interesting,)

Kyle Maclachlan at Cannes in 2017.

It was his first film role which I didn’t know until now, so he was old for an actor getting his film career going.

Next up was Blue Velvet in which he was Jeffrey Beaumont. Definitely genre, as it is a thriller mystery blended with psychological horror. Also directed by David Lynch. Weird film, and even weirder role for film. 

He did an excellent job as Lloyd Gallagher in The Hidden, a great SF film. He was not in The Hidden II which was not a great film. 

Yes, the Twin Peaks franchise is genre given some of the things that happened here. His Dale Cooper character is played to perfection over to the thirty episodes of the original series and the eighteen episodes of Twin Peaks known as Twin Peaks: The Return and Twin Peaks: A Limited Event Series. He was also in Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me.

Did you know that he voiced Superman? Well he did. In one of the better animated films, Justice League: The New Frontier, he was as Kal-El / Clark Kent / Superman. He voiced him very well. 

He showed up as Edward Wilde, a librarian in The Librarian: Quest for the Spear, one of the films in The Librarian franchise. Just on the off chance that you’ve not seen it, I’ll say no more as it, but it like all The Librarian franchise, is great popcorn viewing. 

He was Cliff Vandercave in The Flintstones, the only Flintstones film worth watching. 

Lastly he was in the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. in the dual role of Calvin Johnson / The Doctor. 

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) MASTODON UNDER ATTACK. TechCrunch says “Discord took no action against server that coordinated costly Mastodon spam attacks”.

Over the weekend, hackers targeted federated social networks like Mastodon to carry out ongoing spam attacks that were organized on Discord, and conducted using Discord applications. But Discord has yet to remove the server where the attacks are facilitated, and Mastodon community leaders have been unable to reach anyone at the company.

“The attacks were coordinated through Discord, and the software was distributed through Discord,” said Emelia Smith, a software engineer who regularly works on trust and safety issues in the fediverse, a network of decentralized social platforms built on the ActivityPub protocol. “They were using bots that integrated directly with Discord, such that a user didn’t even need to set up any servers or anything like that, because they could just run this bot directly from Discord in order to carry out the attack.”

Smith attempted to contact Discord through official channels on February 17, but still has only received form responses. She told TechCrunch that while Discord has mechanisms for reporting individual users or messages, it lacks a clear way to report whole servers.

“We’ve seen this costing server admins of Mastodon, Misskey, and others hundreds or thousands of dollars in infrastructure costs, and overall denial of service,” Smith wrote to Discord Trust & Safety in an email viewed by TechCrunch. “The only common link seems to be this discord server.”…

(13) A TUNE, NOT TUNA. “Whale song mystery solved by scientists” reports BBC.

… Baleen whales are a group of 14 species, including the blue, humpback, right, minke and gray whale. Instead of teeth, the animals have plates of what is called baleen, through which they sieve huge mouthfuls of tiny creatures from the water.

Exactly how they produce complex, often haunting songs has been a mystery until now. Prof Elemans said it was “super-exciting” to have figured it out.

He and his colleagues carried out experiments using larynxes, or “voice boxes”, that had been carefully removed from three carcasses of stranded whales – a minke, a humpback and a sei whale. They then blew air through the massive structures to produce the sound.

In humans, our voices come from vibrations when air passes over structures called vocal folds in our throat. Baleen whales, instead, have a large U-shaped structure with a cushion of fat at the top of the larynx.

This vocal anatomy allows the animals to sing by recycling air, and it prevents water from being inhaled….

(14) DEAR SCHADENFREUDE. Between bites of popcorn Shepherd exacted a little payback.  

(15) [DELETED]. I apologize for drawing a comparison between Shepherd and Vox Day in the item that formerly appeared in this space. I was wrong to give into the impulse, which vented at Shepherd my emotional reaction to all the Hugo stuff I’ve had to write news about for the last month, something he has nothing to do with. (And if you want to ask why, then, is item #14 still here — Shepherd intended the needle, and I felt it. Ouch.)

(16) MIDNIGHT PALS. But do you know who’s really spinning in his grave? Read this and Bitter Karella will tell you.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, Laura, Joyce Scrivner, Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki, Kevin Standlee, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Steven French, Mike Kennedy, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day OGH.]

Pixel Scroll 2/11/24 It’s The Big Bright Green Pixel Machine

(1) BOUCHERCON KERFUFFLE. Writers are showering letters of protest on the Bouchercon mystery convention committee about the selection of Otto Penzler to interview guest of honor Anthony Horowitz on stage. They are pointing to Penzler’s record of misogynistic comments about women writers, and insensitive statements about race.

Here is the text of Lee Goldberg’s letter to Bouchercon:

To Whom It May Concern,

I am shocked and disappointed that Otto Penzler has been selected to interview guest-of-honor Anthony Horowitz on the Bouchercon stage. It sends a horrible message to the crime fiction community.

For decades, Otto has publicly and repeatedly trashed women crime writers. Here are just some examples out of many:

He wrote: “Men take [writing] more seriously as art. Men labor over a book to make it literature. There are wonderful exceptions, of course—P.D. James, Ruth Rendell.”

In an interview with Book Standard, he said cozy novels by women shouldn’t win Edgars.

“The women who write [cozies] stop the action to go shopping, create a recipe, or take care of cats. Cozies are not serious literature. They don’t deserve to win…”

He’s also said:

“We all have our prejudices (yes, you too). I admit that if I were on the Best Novel committee, books with cutesy pun titles would be eliminated before I read the first page. They may be fun, they may have their charm, but they are not serious literature and don’t deserve an Edgar. Which is why someone had the bright idea to create Malice Domestic, a conference devoted to fiction so lightweight that an anvil on top of it is the only way to prevent it from floating off to the great library in the sky.”

This is what Otto Penzler had to say when the International Thriller Writers was formed:

“A new organization has just started up as a counterweight to the literarilynegligible works honored at Malice Domestic.”

The ITW wisely and immediately disavowed his statement at the time. Those “literarily negligible works” honored with Agathas at Malice include novels by Ann Cleeves, Rhys Bowen, Laurie King, Kellye Garrett, Elizabeth George, Catriona McPherson, Louise Penny and so many others.

That attitude alone should make him the absolute wrong choice to interview a man who writes in the tradition of the literarily negligible works by Agatha Christie.

Otto doesn’t just spew sexism, he practices it. In the 23 years that Otto edited the Best American Mystery anthology series, it had 6 women as guest editors and not a single writer of color. Not one. And when Steph Cha, a woman he called “stupefyingly ignorant” and racist because she called for Linda Fairstein’s grandmaster honor to be rescinded, replaced him as the editor of the anthology, he wrote:

“This means that stories will no longer be selected for excellence, the major criterion evidently now being the race, ethnicity, or sexual preference of the author.”

And let’s not forget this is the same man who started Scarlet, a women’s suspense imprint for Pegasus, and then hired men to write the books under women’s names. That is Otto Penzler in a nutshell right there. The outcry was loud, immediate, and humiliating for the publisher, who swiftly and quietly killed the imprint.

That’s only a tiny sampling of his offensive words and conduct towards women writers…and yet Bouchercon still venerates this man. Yes, he did some admirable things for the genre a long, long time ago…but today he’s a dinosaur in a world that has changed around him…a man who doesn’t reflect our community or its basic standards (as expressed in the Bouchercon bylaws). I understand that Mr. Horowitz may have asked for Otto to be his interviewer because they edited an anthology together…but Bouchercon should have had the sensitivity and the courage to say no to his choice…and to explain why.

I am not saying Otto should be silenced. He has a right to his views, whether I agree with them or not. But with free speech comes the consequences of your words and actions (for example, all of his bookstore employees publicly disavowed, in a statement of their own, the views he expressed in his letter to the MWA in the Linda Fairstein Grandmaster controversy, which you ought to read). Another consequence of his offensive views should be losing the support and attention of the community he’s no longer philosophically and culturally aligned with. Unless, of course, Bouchercon agrees with his views. If so, you should keep him on the guest-of-honor stage with Mr. Horowitz.

If not, you should take a firm stand against the opinions Otto’s espoused by replacing him with an interviewer who actually respects, celebrates and champions the sexual, cultural and racial diversity of the crime fiction community this conference is supposed to reflect.

Lee Goldberg

Deborah Levinson is one of those who are echoing the call:

The Bouchercon committee responded to the first wave of messages on February 7 with a statement:

(2) DEADPOOL 3 TEASER. Uncorked during today’s Super Bowl broadcast, Deadpool & Wolverine Teaser.

(3) WICKED TEASER. Also advertised during the game, Wicked – First Look”.

After two decades as one of the most beloved and enduring musicals on the stage, Wicked makes its long-awaited journey to the big screen as a spectacular, generation-defining cinematic event this holiday season. Wicked, the untold story of the witches of Oz, stars Emmy, Grammy and Tony winning powerhouse Cynthia Erivo (Harriet, Broadway’s The Color Purple) as Elphaba, a young woman, misunderstood because of her unusual green skin, who has yet to discover her true power, and Grammy-winning, multi-platinum recording artist and global superstar Ariana Grande as Glinda, a popular young woman, gilded by privilege and ambition, who has yet to discover her true heart. The two meet as students at Shiz University in the fantastical Land of Oz and forge an unlikely but profound friendship. Following an encounter with The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, their friendship reaches a crossroads and their lives take very different paths. Glinda’s unflinching desire for popularity sees her seduced by power, while Elphaba’s determination to remain true to herself, and to those around her, will have unexpected and shocking consequences on her future. Their extraordinary adventures in Oz will ultimately see them fulfill their destinies as Glinda the Good and the Wicked Witch of the West.

(4) CAREER IN A NUTSHELL. Chinaza Okorie discusses “Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki: Crafting Narratives and Shaping Worlds” at The Board.

… The synergy between Ekpeki’s writing and editing is palpable. His understanding of the craft, honed through his own creative pursuits, enhances his ability to curate anthologies that transcend mere collections of stories. Whether through his pen or editorial decisions, Ekpeki strives to redefine and expand the boundaries of speculative fiction, making room for narratives that challenge preconceptions and celebrate the diverse richness of African storytelling….

(5) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites listeners to nibble garlic naan with Jo Miles in Episode 218 of the Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Jo Miles

Jo Miles is the author of The Gifted of Brennex trilogy, which began with Warped State, continued in Dissonant State, which was released the week before our get-together, and finishes up in Ravenous State, which will be available February 20th. Jo’s short fiction has been published in magazines such as Fantasy & Science FictionStrange HorizonsLightspeed, and Analog Science Fiction and Science Fact, as well as in the anthologies Little Blue MarbleGame On!Do Not Go Quietly: An Anthology of Defiance in Victory, and others. Their story “The Longest Season in the Garden of the Tea Fish” in Strange Horizons was nominated for a WSFA Small Press Award. Jo is a graduate of the Viable Paradise and Taos Toolbox writers’ workshops.

Oh, and by the way — the ebook of Warped State is currently on sale for $2.99 in celebration of the upcoming release of Ravenous State.

We discussed how what began as a short story blossomed into a trilogy, the way to juggle multiple points of view and keep them balanced, the science fictional precursors which helped them create their sentient ship, how to properly pace the arc of a burgeoning romance, the importance of making sure a redemption arc feels earned, the way their mandate for writing optimistic science fiction came to be, the differing ways we were each affected by the pandemic, how the Taos Toolbox workshop teaches writers to break down the beats of their stories (and why that terrifies me), plus much more.

(6) THEIR RETIREMENT PLAN. Congratulations to authors Brian Keene and Mary SanGiovanni whose new Vortex Books & Comics store opened today.

… The store will be open for business Sunday at 10am. All that’s left to do is for Mike to finish Hylinus’s ear, after which we can move the glass display case which will hold the ashes of Dave Thomas and J. F. Gonzalez into place, and then steam clean the tiled floor. We also need to get the rare books and comics into their showcases, finish pricing and shelving the items on the stock cart, and finish the shipping and receiving area (which was finished before, but — based on initial online preorders — is going to be a very busy area and will need space for two employees to work with more room, so I decided we needed to reorganize it). We’ll also need to play with the cash register until we’re all confident with it. (I hooked it up yesterday while Justin Lutz installed our window decals, and while I’m not a man who suffers from anxiety, trying to figure the register out caused me a great deal of it)….

(7) MATTHEW PAVLETICH (1965-2024). New Zealand fan Matthew David Pavletich died from Motor Neurone Disease on January 26. A past president of the Stella Nova Science Fiction Club and veteran of the CoNZealand in 2020 Worldcon bid, Pavletich won the Sir Julius Vogel Award for Services to Fandom in 2023. Here is the award citation that tells why he was honored:

Matthew has been active in New Zealand and international fandom for over 30 years.

He has lost count of the number of committees he has been on for running conventions. As a member of the Stella Nova Science Fiction Club he has been involved in all their activities over three decades, including serving as President.

Matthew was a keen actor, published writer, con-organiser and has lectured on Science Fiction both here in schools and seminars and overseas; plus his lifelong interest in spaceflight has seen him appearing as a recurring guest expert on breakfast TV shows and radio.

Matthew was a co-organiser, as a ground trooper, of the CoNZealand bid, being heavily involved in organising the parties at the World Science Fiction Convention and manning the Bid Table around the world every year from 2014 to 2019, and despite being diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease in 2021, found the energy to help at the Thank You party in 2022. For many WorldCon attendees the parties and the Bid Table, at which he enthusiastically promoted NZ and CoNZealand, was the only physical experience of a New Zealand WorldCon that was possible, due to COVID making the 2020 WorldCon virtual.

Matthew epitomises what this award is about. He meets every criteria of service to fandom you can think of.

Matthew is survived by his wife, Maree.

Matthew Pavletich in TV appearance.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born February 11, 1939 Jane Yolen, 85. And we come to one of my favorite writers who is on the chocolate gifting list, Jane Yolen. And no, that is not about how I ended getting name-checked as an ethnomusicologist in The One-Armed Queen asthat’s another story involving a successful hunt for a rare volume of fairytales.

Given that she written at least three hundred and sixty works at last count (and that may well be an undercount), the following is but a personal list of works that I like.

Jane Yolen. Photo by and (c) Andrew Porter.

Favorite Folktales From Around the World which garnered a well-deserved World Fantasy Award shows her editing side at its very best. She picked the folktales, some from authors whose names are forgotten, some who we still know such as Homer, Aesop, Hans Christian Andersen and Oscar Wilde, and gave them much need explanatory notes. If you like folktales, I’d consider it essential and quite delightful reading.

The Transfigured Hart poses the delicate question of if unicorns are real and neatly merges that question with a coming of a story, something she handles oh so well. Originally published forty years ago, Tachyon Press, a publisher that should be always be praised for its work, republished it a few years back.

Briar Rose is a YA novel which is a retelling, more or less of the Sleeping Beauty tale. It was published as part of Terri Windling’s Fairy Tale series. The novel won a Mythopoeic Fantasy Award. Like everything else in that series, it’s most excellent. Or as I’ve said before, it’s just what Windling does. 

The Great Alta sequence consisting of Sister Light, Sister DarkWhite Jenna and The One-Armed Queen. Matriarchal warrior societies will rise and fall and rise again in this tale told with more than a bit of myth, poetry, and song.  Brilliantly told with characters that you’ll deeply care about and character you’ll hate. It’s a Meredith Moment at just $3.99. 

She also wrote the lyrics for the song “Robin’s Complaint”, recorded on the 1994 Boiled in Lead’s Antler Dance recording on which her son Adam Stemple was the lead vocalist. 

Let’s finish off with The Wild Hunt. Myth as interpreted by her and merged with the evocative drawings of Francisco Mora which complement the text perfectly. Dark and dramatic, they bring the tale to life. It’s a work of pure magic which should be destined to become a classic in the world of children’s literature. Don’t buy the Scholastic paperback edition, just HMH hardcover edition. 

And yes, she’s getting chocolate for her Birthday. 

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • Thatababy has a new variation on a technopest.
  • Sally Forth somehow merges myth with Monopoly. This is bizarre.
  • In the Bleachers’ mermaid joke might actually be even more bizarre.

(10) DON’T MISS THE LITERARY ALLUSIONS. Colleen Doran lends readers a hand by deciphering “The Secret Language of a Page of Chivalry”.

Neil Gaiman’s Chivalry is a sweet and simple story on the surface, but is full of allusions and literary references, and the symbolism in the art, as well as the art style, serves as meta-narrative. 

One of the pages readers ask about the most is this one, where Mrs. Whitaker in the Oxfam shop finds an old book entitled The Romance and Legend of Chivalry (1912).

Written by Scottish author A. R. Hope Moncrieff, this popular tome was published in multiple printings and editions in many languages. While most of his books were intended for young boys, they would be over the heads and/or not to the taste of many modern readers.

They are dense and wordy, but I love them. 

You can find good copies of the first edition with the gorgeous cover you see here at reasonable prices. If you can spare $20-$30, you shouldn’t have to settle for cheap, modern editions which are ugly and don’t have that pretty gold stamping.

It should be obvious why Mrs. Whitaker has focused on this book during the course of Chivalry.

What some didn’t understand is the reference there in the top corner written in red pen: “Ex Libris Fisher”.

This translates to “From the Library of Fisher” as in The Fisher King.

(11) HELLO DOWN THERE TRAILER. Another “Super Bowl commercial” except it’s already been out for four days: “Hello Down There (Extended)”.

What does a highly advanced civilization have to do to get noticed around here? Watch the extended cut of Hello Down There, a tale of intergalactic outreach, directed by Martin Scorsese.

(12) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Now, it saddens me when I am reminded yet again that I do have some SFnal misconceptions. Let me be clear, I had heard of A Voyage To Arcturus by David Lindsay but I had foolishly, stupidly, idiotically assumed that it was a novel about a spacecraft voyage to a distant world and what was discovered there…  How wrong I was. Fortunately, Moid over at Media Death Cult has taken a quick 8-minute dive into this. (Filmed in England’s Shropshire. Note the managed woodland and the carboniferous limestone geology…)

This Forgotten Masterpiece Inspired Tolkien We voyaged the Shropshire countryside to bring you this video. A Voyage To Arcturus by David Lindsay

You can see the 8-minute video here. It looks like this may be the first of a few vids Moid will do covering forgotton early 20th century SF former classics.

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

Pixel Scroll 1/17/24 Send Pixels, Scrolls And Files, The Fifth Has Hit The Fan

(1) SEATTLE 2025 WORLDCON MEMBERSHIP RATES RISE TOMORROW. At least for a few more hours the cost of a WSFS Membership + Attending Membership Supplement for an adult over the age of 25 is $175. The other permutations are explained at the Memberships – Seattle Worldcon 2025 page.

Mark Roth-Whitworth sent a few editorial comments along with the foregoing reminder:

I just got our memberships for Seattle in ’25. Ouch. This far out, $175 each, and I think it goes up after tomorrow.

Was the same demographic going as did back in the Sixties and Seventies, it would be a *lot* smaller. Most of us were working class. Hell, my late wife and I together maybe made the median income, or maybe just under. In 1993 it would have been hard to pay for this.

Forget the graying of fandom, how about the economic stratification of fandom? Where are the folks who are making a living working construction, or flipping burgers, or barista, or drive a cab, or working in a thousand other jobs that we need, but make crap wages? Or people on SSI or other welfare?

I know I ghosted a con or two in my mid-twenties, when I just did not have the money. I don’t know a lot of folks who go to other than their local cons, and work them to afford it.

Have we become elite?

(2) EMMY AWARDS. Genre TV was shut out at the 75th Primetime Emmy Awards ceremony which aired on January 15. The complete list of winners – largely repeated wins by Succession, The Bear, and Beef — is here.

(3) HISTORIC MOMENTS IN TELEVISION. There are, however, plenty of genre highlights in the Television Academy’s anniversary list of 75 “Top TV Moments”.

Arguably the first one on the list is genre, because fans voted the Hugo Award to TV coverage of the Apollo 11 mission. Beyond that, you have to wait ‘til way down the list before there’s another.  

1. The Moon Landing. After Apollo 11 landed on the moon, astronaut Neil Armstrong proclaims “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind. 1969.

40. The Twilight Zone. “Time Enough at Last” After a nuclear catastrophe, loner Harry Bemis (Burgess Meredith) is left with all the time in the world to read his beloved books, only to shatter his glasses, leaving him virtually blind. 1950.

50. Star Trek – Kirk and Uhura kiss, 1968

51. Game of Thrones — “The Rains of Castamere” At Robb’s (Richard Madden) wedding, Catelyn (Michelle Fairley) reveals chain mail under Bolton’s (Michael McElhatton) clothes just as Robb’s wife is murdered, Robb is shot with arrows, and his men’s throats are cut.

And there are several more beyond that, from The Last of Us, Lost, another from Game of Thrones, and the Mary Martin version of Peter Pan.

(4) DEEP IMPACT. Animation World Network’s Kevin Geiger anticipates “The Impact of AI on Hollywood in 2024: 12 Predictions”. Short version: AI will take away a bunch of existing jobs. Here’s an excerpt of what he forsees.

4. Deepfake filmmaking has become the new paradigm.

The continued evolution of deepfake technology enables filmmakers of all resource levels to create younger versions of living actors or bring deceased actors back to the screen. This has already been used to tell stories that span different periods. While the technology offers exciting creative opportunities, it raises significant ethical concerns regarding consent and the potential misuse of digital likenesses. Seeing is no longer believing.

5. Rise of the AI-driven extras and stunt doubles.

The use of AI-generated virtual extras and stunt doubles will be a game-changer in reducing production costs and logistical complexities, particularly in scenes requiring large crowds or dangerous stunts. However, the application of AI technology will accelerate the reduced employment opportunities for human extras and stunt performers.

6. The visual effects industry becomes more director-driven.

AI’s ability to produce sophisticated visual effects quickly and cost-effectively is set to enhance the visual storytelling in films. The prospect of generating visual effects via “prompting” (otherwise known as “directing”) will make VFX more director-driven, and encourage greater creative expression and experimentation. The number of “technical directors” required on a film will be reduced: a benefit to major studios and indie producers, but a threat to hired guns.

7. AI-assisted editing is now the default starting point.

AI-assisted editing is revolutionizing work reels and post-production by autonomously selecting takes, suggesting edits, and assembling rough cuts. This can significantly speed up the editing process and reduce costs, but over-reliance on AI could reduce the editor’s creative control, lead

(5) AAFCA AWARDS. The 15th Annual African-American Film Critics Association (AAFCA) Award Winners include Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse.

Best Drama: Origin
Best Comedy: American Fiction
Best Musical: The Color Purple
Best Director: Ava DuVernay (Origin)
Best Screenplay: American Fiction
Best Actor: Colman Domingo (Rustin)
Best Actress: Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor (Origin)
Best Supporting Actor: Sterling K. Brown (American Fiction)
Best Supporting Actress: *TIE* Da’Vine Joy Randolph (The Holdovers), Danielle Brooks (The Color Purple)
Best Ensemble: The Color Purple
Breakout Performance: Lily Gladstone (Killers of the Flower Moon)
Emerging Filmmaker: Cord Jefferson (American Fiction)
Best Independent Feature: A Thousand and One
Best Animated Feature: Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse
Best Documentary: Stamped From The Beginning
Best Music: The Color Purple
Best International Film: Io Capitano
Best Short Film: The After

(6) EKPEKI Q&A. Paul Semel interviews “’The Year’s Best African Speculative Fiction 2022’ Co-Editor Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki”.

While other Best Of type anthologies only consider short stories, The Year’s Best African Speculative Fiction 2022 also includes poems. I recently interviewed Stephen Kotowych, the editor of Year’s Best Canadian Fantasy And Science Fiction: Volume One, which also includes poetry. Is there something going on in the speculative realm where poetry is becoming more popular or respected?

Speculative poetry is such a wide and important form that we decided to include this year to make the book separate from last year’s. Hopefully, it’s something that matches up with the vibrancy the speculative poetry world exudes [and this is a] chance to showcase some of that speculative poetry vibrancy going on

(7) THE METERS OF MIDDLE-EARTH. And CBR.com studies “How The Lord of the Rings Made Poetry Exciting”.

…The characters of The Lord of the Rings used poetry as a coping mechanism to deal with negative emotions. Shortly after leaving the Shire, the hobbits were overwhelmed with uncertainty and weariness about the journey ahead. To raise their spirits, Frodo recited “The Road goes ever on and on,” a poem that Bilbo had taught him. In Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring, Gandalf and Bilbo both sang sections of this same poem. As the hobbits rested at Weathertop, poetry again assuaged their worries. In the chapter “A Knife in the Dark” from Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the RingAragorn “began to tell them tales to keep their minds from fear.” These tales came in the form of poems, such as the song of Beren and Lúthien….

(8) FREE READ. Entries in the Quantum Shorts flash fiction contest are available to read at the link. The shortlist will be announced in March.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born January 17, 1931 James Earl Jones, 93. This Scroll you’re getting James Earl Jones, most notably known in our circles as the voice of a certain Sith Lord whose voice he did up to Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, but he’s got much more, and sometimes surprisingly diverse career here. So let’s see what he’s done…

His film debut was as Lieutenant Lothar Zogg, the B-52’s bombardier  in Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

In 1969, Jones participated in making short films for what became Sesame Street. These were combined with animated segments, then were shown to groups of children to see if the format appealed to children. As cited by production notes included in the Sesame Street: Old School 1969–1974 DVD, the short that had the greatest impact with test audiences was one showing a bald-headed Jones counting slowly to ten. And yes, it was shown on the show when it aired.

I truly love him in Conan the Barbarian as Thulsa Doom, an antagonist for the character Kull of Atlantis. Thulsa Doom was created by Robert E. Howard in the “Delcardes’ Cat” story. Neat character for him, I’d say. 

He’s in Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold withthe name of Umslopogaas, a fearless warrior and old friend of Allan Quatermain. I looked him up in the original novel, Allan Quatermain. Please don’t make me do that again. Really. Don’t. 

Ahhh, Field of Dreams: “Ray, people will come Ray. They’ll come to Iowa for reasons they can’t even fathom. They’ll turn up your driveway not knowing for sure why they’re doing it.” Great role. To say more would involve spoilers, right? 

He voices Mufusa, the lion murdered by his brother in The Lion King and its sequel, who death does not stop from being present. Really present. Extraordinary performing by him. 

Did you know that he narrated Stallone’s Judge Dredd? Well he did. He was uncredited at time but as is with these things, it didn’t stay a secret permanently, did it? 

He had series appearances on Faerie Tale Theatre (as, and I simply love it, Genie of the Lamp, Genie of the Ring), Highway to HeavenShelley Duvall’s Bedtime StoriesPicket FencesLois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, (he was the uncredited narrator of 3rd Rock from the Sun (maybe he’s the nameless narrator for all of the multiverse?), Touched by an Angel in which he’s the Angel of Angels, cool name, Stargate SG-1 , Merlin and finally as himself on The Big Bang Theory.

He hosted Long Ago and Far Away, a children’s series that lasted thirty-five episodes with each of them based on a folk or fairy tale. Stop motion animation, live actors and traditional animation were all used.

That’s it, folks.

Carrie Fisher, James Earl Jones and Jim Parsons in a scene from Big Bang Theory.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

(11) PAYDAY FOR COMIC OWNER. “Rare copy of The Amazing Spider-Man No 1 sells for more than £1m” – the Guardian wanted you to know. And weep if you ever owned a copy in your youth.

A rare copy of the first issue of The Amazing Spider-Man has sold for more than £1m.

The comic, published in March 1963, reached a record-setting $1.38m (£1.1m) at auction. It is one of only two copies of The Amazing Spider-Man No 1 rated “near mint/mint” by comic book grading service Certified Guaranty Company (CGC).

“It was obvious this Spider-Man was an opportunity not likely to come around, and the final price reflected that,” said Barry Sandoval, vice president at Heritage Auctions, the company that ran the auction, according to Fine Books magazine.

The copy sold for nearly three times as much as a CGC-rated “near mint” version sold in July last year for $520,380 (£410,184)….

(12) TODAY’S THING TO WORRY ABOUT. The lede is the most interesting part of Variety’s article “When Superman and Batman Copyrights Expire in a Decade, Will It Be Kryptonite for DC?”.

About a decade ago, Zack Snyder developed a storyline for the DC Extended Universe that involved Bruce Wayne impregnating Lois Lane.

The subplot in which Batman cuckolds Superman was poised to unfold in “Justice League,” with Batman dying in the sequel and Lois raising their spawn with Superman. Snyder’s vision for Wonder Woman was equally unorthodox, with visuals featuring a superheroine who brandished the decapitated heads of her conquered enemies like an ISIS jihadi.

Warner Bros. and DC Studios — which hold a firm grip on their intellectual property — rejected Snyder’s ideas, which were deemed “super creepy,” according to a source familiar with the back and forth. (DC declined to comment for this story. A representative for Snyder did not respond to a request for comment.) But in the next decade, artists and rival studios won’t need permission to create their own take on the characters.

A sad fact of Hollywood is that while superheroes never truly die, all copyrights do. On Jan. 1, Disney lost control of “Steamboat Willie,” and within 24 hours two horror-comedies starring Mickey Mouse were announced. The DC characters are the next major expirations looming on the horizon. Superman and Lois Lane will enter the public domain in 2034, followed by Batman in 2035, the Joker in 2036 and Wonder Woman in 2037….

(13) FIREFLY ON THE CHEAP. SYFY Wire admires “How Serenity Slashed Its Budget from $100 Million to $39 Million” and was able to get greenlighted.

…In a 2005 interview with the Los Angeles Times, the effects crew and film’s creators opened up about the ways they shaved tens of millions off the film’s cost. Basically, they shot it like a TV show, creating only what was necessary and meticulously storyboarding things out so no resources were wasted.

One of the movie’s most ambitious set pieces, a wild chase scene early in the film, was projected to be one of the costliest segments in the film. So instead of trying to build out a massive CGI chase, they built a trailer with a cantilevered arm big enough to hold the on-screen hovercraft and actors. Then they just shot the scene on Templin Highway around Santa Clarita. For the Reaver vehicle chasing the crew, they hacked an old pick-up truck together with some CGI overlays for final effects. In the end, a scene expected to take 30 days was finished up in five.

To create the spaceship models in the space-set scenes, they used a common cost-cutting approach called “kit bashing,” where you combine several different ship models and kits and mix them all together to create something new. It’s a cheap alternative to full-on spaceship design, and it saved time and money for plenty of those space scenes.

They even had to rebuild the Serenity ship itself for sets, using old blueprints and DVD screen grabs for reference, a process they knocked out in a brief 14 weeks and under budget. All the explosions and pyrotechnics in the film were also done on a tight schedule, filmed across three nights at Mystery Mesa near Valencia. Traditionally, that level of sci-fi action pyro work for a blockbuster movie would’ve taken around two weeks….

(14) KLINGONS DON’T DRINK MERLOT. TrekMovie.com invites as to watch as “Paul Giamatti Auditions For Star Trek, Recreates His Iconic ‘Merlot’ Moment In Klingon”.

Danish movie journalist and friend of TrekMovie Johan Albrechtsen has once again used a non-Star Trek promotional junket to recreate a Star Trek moment. As Paul Giamatti was promoting his award-winning role in The Holdovers Albrechtsen brought up the actor’s previously expressed interest in playing a Klingon in Star Trek. And he persuaded the Giamatti to recreate his famous “I am not drinking any f###ing Merlot!” moment from the 2004 wine-themed film Sideways, but this time in Klingon. The moment was then edited to create a new Star Trek “audition tape” with Giamatti as a Klingon captain, cut into a scene from The Next Generation….

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

Pixel Scroll 12/6/23 For The Scroll Is Hollow And I’ve Touched A Pixel

(1) END OF AN ERA. Kristine Kathryn Rusch signed off her influential weekly business blog on November 22. “Business Musings: All Good Things”.

…I wasn’t that desparate in 2009 and I’m certainly not that desperate now. As I noted in some recent blogs, my books are all in print. The books of my traditional friends? Not in print at all. Or if they are in print, my friends aren’t making a dime off of them.

It’s discouraging, but as I’ve seen over the past few years, people have dug in. It doesn’t matter that traditional writers now have to get a “real” job to make a living. Or that the changes in indie have made it possible for those of us who understand business to make a good living while writing what we love.

We’ve changed.

The world has changed.

And honestly, I’m not that interested in writing about the publishing industry weekly. There is no publishing industry anymore. There are different aspects of book publishing, all of which fascinate me, and none of which make me want to pontificate for a few thousand words every single week.

Then there’s my writing itself. In the spring, I made a list of the books clamoring to get out of my brain. The series that need finishing right now, the standalones I’ve been dying to write, the books I’ve intended to write since the turn of the century if not longer, as well as the short stories that rise to the top of my to-do list because I read an inspiring article or saw an amazing play.

I will have time to write all of that if I double down on my fiction writing. Or triple down. When I write fiction, I write a minimum of 1,000 new words per hour. The blog takes a minimum of 10 hours per week from idea to page, including the audio (which is maybe 20 minutes of that 10 hours). I love the audio. It’s fun.

The blog, not so much.

In fact it had become such a drag that I put it off until the last minute, and then have to give up even more fiction writing time to get it down.

And while the blog makes me more money per month than someone would earn making minimum wage (not counting all the nonfiction books I get out of it or the other perks), I could make more money if I write three novellas a year, whether I sell them to traditional markets or not.

The blog is self-sustaining financially, but it’s actively costing me money. My earnings as a fiction writer have gone up dramatically in the past fourteen years….

… Thirty dollars per hour writing a blog post that has little resale value or $1000 per hour writing stories that can sell for decades. It’s really a no brainer….

… Except…I do like noting things about the publishing industry, from time to time. Some things catch my attention and I want to discuss them. I will do that on my Patreon page, which I am not shutting down.    

I’ll be doing mostly short posts pointing out an article that writers might want to pay attention to, or commenting on some major change. I’m not going to do a long essay, unless I feel inspired….

(2) BUMPER CROP. Slashfilm reveals “Syfy Spent Thousands On Leonard Nimoy And William Shatner Star Trek Ads You Probably Missed”.

…Barry Schulman had been with the Sci-Fi Channel since its start, and he remembers the glory days in detail. He was interviewed for the indispensable book “The Fifty-Year Mission: The Next 25 Years: From The Next Generation to J. J. Abrams,” edited by Mark A. Altman and Edward Gross, and he remembered the production of what was to be one of the more ambitious advertising tie-ins the network could have possibly received. It seems that the Sci-Fi Channel wrote and paid for a series of extended “Star Trek”-inspired interview-style infomercials to be hosted by Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner — Spock and Kirk themselves! — to run after individual episodes. 

Sadly, due to poor ratings, the ads were only sparsely seen….

Of course, programming “Star Trek” presented a technical problem. In the late 1960s, when the hour-long “Star Trek” originally aired on NBC, the broadcast ad breaks only totaled about 10 minutes, leaving 50 minutes of show. By the early 1990s, ad time had grown to 16 minutes, leaving only 44 minutes of show. That would mean any new broadcast of “Star Trek” would, by advertisers’ decree, need to be shaved down by six minutes. 

Shulman’s solution was to expand the “Star Trek” time slot from a 60-minute span to a 90-minute span, including all 50 minutes of “Trek” as well as whole ad breaks. He’d then pad out the remainder of the 90-minute slot with Shatner/Nimoy intro/outro segments. Brilliant….

… The good news is that you can actually watch all of these bumpers with Shatner and Nimoy on YouTube.

Here’s the video for the original Star Trek pilot, “The Cage”.

(3) FANAC.ORG ZOOM. The next Fan History Zoom session is scheduled for Saturday, December 9 at 2:00 p.m. Eastern. If you would like to join, drop a note to [email protected].

APAS EVERYWHERE – Fred Lerner, Christina Lake, Amy Thomson and Tom Whitmore.

Since the first FAPA mailing in 1937, APAs have been a part of fannish life. There are topic specific apas, local apas, general interest apas, convention committee apas, letter substitutes and doubtless many more. Our panelists, all long time APA members, talk about their experiences with APA life: Why did you join the APA(s)? Did you APA live up to your expectations and why? Tell us about the APAs you’ve been part of, and tell us what makes them unique. (You can tell us about APAs you weren’t part of too!) Talk about the way the members of the APA related to each other, and the nature of that community. Compare the experience of an online community like LiveJournal or Facebook with your APA experience. The Cult was called the “13 Nastiest Bastards in Fandom”. Was it? What feels different about womens’ APAs? Are APAs now obsolete? Would you join a new APA today?

Future Zoom History sessions: 

  • January 20, 2024 – 2PM EST, 11AM PST and 7PM London GMT – An Interview with Joe Green, fan, s-f writer, NASA spokesman and educator.
  • February 17, 2024 – 7PM EST, 11 AM Feb 18 Melbourne AEDT – Wrong Turns on the Wallaby Track Part 2, with Leigh Edmonds and Perry Middlemiss
  • March 16, 2024 – 3PM EDT, 2PM CDT, 7PM London (GMT) – The Women Fen Don’t See – Claire Brialey, Kate Heffner, and Leah Zeldes Smith

(4) THE DOG IN THE NIGHT. “Arthur Conan Doyle secretly resented his Sherlock Holmes creation, says historian” reports the Guardian.

Arthur Conan Doyle secretly hated his creation Sherlock Holmes and blamed the cerebral detective character for denying him recognition as the author of highbrow historical fiction, according to the historian Lucy Worsley.

Doyle was catapulted from “obscurity to worldwide fame” after his crime stories began appearing in a magazine in 1891, Worsley writes in the Radio Times. Eleven years later he was awarded a knighthood.

Yet “beneath the surface he was a discontented man”, according to Worsley….

(5) MAJOR SFF EVENTS IN EUROPE IN 2024. [Item by Dave Lally.] The year 2024 has a number of major SF+F events, in Europe, approaching (and all dates given herein are inclusive).  And this info is primarily for those from outside the area (and I trust this data is of help).

Here is major SF+F event No 1 (and in the English Midlands of the UK):

EASTERCON 2024 — Fri 29 March – Mon 1 April we have, in the UK,  Eastercon / “Levitation” (the UK’s annual National SF Con:  Telford, just north of Birmingham).  

[And NOTA BENE, post Eastercon on Thu 4 April, there is the very long standing “One Tun” Central London SF fen meeting (Asimov came in 1974). Upstairs (private) bar 1800-> closing. THE BISHOPS FINGER (pub), London EC1A 9JR (for internet maps). Real craft ale/hot food. Order both on Ground floor. Food delivered later up to you. Nearest Tube: Barbican. Nearest Rail : Farringdon. Nearest Elizabeth Line (esp from Heathrow) : Farringdon ( /// Barbican  exit!!/// ). All  welcome: whether local-to-London or non locals just passing thru!! ]  

Nearest UK Rail Station to 2024 Eastercon : Telford {UK Rail Station code:  TFC}. There are Express InterCity trains from London Euston (if first visiting there, pre-Eastercon) but one should then change trains at Birmingham International { Station code: BHI } NOT Birmingham New St (and see below why, esp re TfW trains). 


Nearest Airport : Birmingham UK [ IATA code : BHX ],  then take the free air-rail shuttle from that Airport, to the local, next door train Station : Birmingham International (as above). There, catch a north-bound train to Telford. 

[If esp travelling from the States, it might be useful to fly to Shannon or to Dublin and then transfer onto a more local flight to BHX. Why? Cos on the return journey from either of those 2 Irish airports (and thanks to JFK +60 years ago), one pre-clears US formalities at those departure locations (the only two so far in Europe, which have them) and then one leaves one’s US airport as a standard, domestic passenger!] 


Especially useful, re UK train travel from { BHI } above,  is the long-distance train (run by Transport for Wales: TfW) which always starts from that Rail Station (usual final destination: ABERYSTWYTH, in mid-Wales). So seats to Telford are usually plentily available thereon, at that Station. Other northbound trains from { BHI } may only go to nearby Birmingham New St (in that City’s central area) or onto Wolverhampton, where one may otherwise then have to change trains anyway. And those other trains may get heavily used by Birmingham commuters, who may block seats for longer-journey-travelling passengers. 

And UK rail data (times, fares etc) are available on: nationalrail(dot)co(dot)uk.  The “green” way to travel..!!

[By the way, that TfW train eventually goes, on splitting much further up the line,  past Portmeirion (!), tho that famous SF (Prisoner) site is much, much further away in North West Wales (oh and see LocationCon data I will provide later, re the proposed visit  –on Tue 6 August– to that venue, pre- and on the way to, Glasgow Worldcon 2024).] 

Eastercon 2024’s website :  Levitation 2024 — The 2024 British National Science Fiction Convention.

( And, as always,  non-UK fen are very welcome indeed at all SF+F events in Europe, incl the UK’s annual NatSFCon- Eastercon..)

(6) LIKE SAND THROUGH AN HOURGLASS. Inverse is warming up the audience for the release of the next Dune movie on March 1, 2024. “’Dune 2’s First 10 Minutes Restores a Classic Scene From The Book — With a Twist”. Spoilers at the link.

When Dune: Part One hit in 2021, fans immediately noticed one change from both the original 1965 novel and the 1984 feature film. Instead of an opening narration from Princess Irulan, Dune: Part One began with a voiceover from Chani (Zendaya). This inversion smartly centered the story of Dune: Part One from the perspective of the Fremen, at least partially. And now, with Dune: Part Two hitting in 2024, the opening of the film will honor the opening of the original book. But this time, the content of the narration will be decidedly different.

Minor spoilers ahead for the first 10 minutes of Dune: Part Two.

At CCXP 2023 in São Paulo, Brazil, on December 3, 2023, during a Dune: Part Two panel, audiences were treated to several preview scenes, including the first 10 minutes of the movie. Back in 2021, the first 10 minutes of Part One were also teased in special screenings, so this kind of preview seems to now be a tradition ahead of the launch of a new Dune movie.

(7) MISSING A NUMBER. Guardian critic Peter Bradshaw was there: “The Moonwalkers: A Journey With Tom Hanks review – a gobsmackingly huge space spectacle”.

Tom Hanks is the narrator and co-writer of this colossal and immersive multimedia family entertainment event or next-level school trip, about Nasa’s historic Apollo moon landings and the planned new Artemis missions. It’s taking place at Lightroom, the innovative new digital art performance venue at London’s Kings Cross – recently the site of Bigger And Closer, an immersive show about David Hockney.

With the audience gathered in the darkened arena-type area, seated on little upholstered double-stools dotted about, Tom Hanks’s likably folksy and nerdily enthusiastic voiceover booms out telling us that this floor space is the size of Mission Control, Houston. Soon, gobsmackingly huge photo images of the moon’s surface and our own planet Earth are flashed up around the walls, also great film footage of the astronauts bouncing and floating, and all with the cathedral vastness and crystal clarity that they have probably always deserved but never before got from TV screens or even movie screens….

… But the strangest omission is the lack of any mention of Apollo 13, the near-disaster rescued with magnificent ingenuity and resourcefulness by the astronauts and ground crews, which Tom Hanks himself almost single-handedly turned into a key moment of American history with his performance as astronaut Jim Lovell in Ron Howard’s film.

Apollo 13 is, after all, why Tom Hanks is narrating this….

(8) NORMAN LEAR (1922-2023). The resume of TV’s Norman Lear even included a few items of genre interest. “Norman Lear, Whose Comedies Changed the Face of TV, Is Dead at 101” in the New York Times.

Norman Lear, the television writer and producer who introduced political and social commentary into situation comedy with “All in the Family” and other shows, proving that it was possible to be topical as well as funny while attracting millions of viewers, died on Tuesday at his home in Los Angeles. He was 101.

In 2003, he helped write a few episodes of “South Park,” the taboo-breaking animated series that was the “All in the Family” of its day. (The show’s creators, Matt Stone and Trey Parker, have said that their bile-spewing character Eric Cartman is partly based on Archie Bunker.)

Mr. Lear turned his attention back to movies in 1982, when he, Mr. Yorkin and Jerry Perenchio bought Avco Embassy Pictures. The newly renamed Embassy Communications released films, including … the acclaimed mock documentary “This Is Spinal Tap” (1984), directed by the “All in the Family” alumnus Rob Reiner.

In 1985… Mr. Lear founded Act III Communications, named to signify the third act of his life. Act III’s most notable productions were two other Rob Reiner films, “Stand by Me” (1986) and “The Princess Bride” (1987)….

(9) MEMORY LANE.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

1975 –Joe Haldeman’s The Forever War. Anyone here who has not read Joe Haldeman’s The Forever War should now leave. Really should as I’m going to discuss it.

It was published by St. Martin’s Press forty-eight years ago with the cover illustration not being credited by ISFFB. 

It would win a Hugo at MidAmeriCon, plus a Nebula and a Ditmar, and be nominated for a Prometheus Award. 

Haldeman said in a Guardian review of 2011 that “It’s about Vietnam, because that was the war the author was in”.  

It was sixteen years after Starship Troopers came out and I thought that Haldeman said it was written as a reaction to that novel but the Guardian quote contradicts that. The reviewer there thinks that much of the look and feel of the book comes from Heinlein’s novel but I didn’t feel that was true. Do you? 

According to the Authors note to my epub Open Road edition of 2008, “This is the definitive edition of The Forever War.” It looks like a novella titled “You can never go back again” that Bova wouldn’t publish at Analog because he thought it was “too downbeat” and therefore wasn’t in the first edition is now included in the middle section of the novel. 

Now for its excellent Beginning…

‘Tonight we’re going to show you eight silent ways to kill a man.’ The guy who said that was a sergeant who didn’t look five years older than me. So if he’d ever killed a man in combat, silently or otherwise, he’d done it as an infant. 

I already knew eighty ways to kill people, but most of them were pretty noisy. I sat up straight in my chair and assumed a look of polite attention and fell asleep with my eyes open. So did most everybody else. We’d learned that they never scheduled anything important for these after-chop classes. 

The projector woke me up and I sat through a short tape showing the ‘eight silent ways.’ Some of the actors must have been brainwipes, since they were actually killed. After the tape a girl in the front row raised her hand. The sergeant nodded at her and she rose to parade rest. Not bad looking, but kind of chunky about the neck and shoulders. Everybody gets that way after carrying a heavy pack around for a couple of months.

 ‘Sir’—we had to call sergeants ‘sir’ until graduation—‘most of those methods, really, they looked … kind of silly.’

‘For instance?’ ‘Like killing a man with a blow to the kidneys, from an entrenching tool. I mean, when would you actually have only an entrenching tool, and no gun or knife? And why not just bash him over the head with it?’ 

‘He might have a helmet on,’ he said reasonably. 

‘Besides, Taurans probably don’t even have kidneys!’ 

He shrugged. ‘Probably they don’t.’ This was 1997, and nobody had ever seen a Tauran; hadn’t even found any pieces of Taurans bigger than a scorched chromosome. ‘But their body chemistry is similar to ours, and we have to assume they’re similarly complex creatures. They must have weaknesses, vulnerable spots. You have to find out where they are.

‘That’s the important thing.’ He stabbed a finger at the screen. ‘Those eight convicts got caulked for your benefit because you’ve got to find out how to kill Taurans, and be able to do it whether you have a megawatt laser or an emery board.” She sat back down, not looking too convinced.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born December 6, 1911 Ejler Jakobsson. (Died 1984.) His first publications, edited with his wife, were The Octopus and The Scorpion in 1939 which were definitely of a pulpish nature.

He has responsibility for Astonishing Stories and Super Science Stories briefly before they shut down production due to paper shortages. When Super Science Stories was revived in 1949, Jakobsson was named editor until the magazine again (and finally) ceased publication in 1951.  I’ve never read that magazine. Who here has? 

He was an editor for Graphic Books in the 1950s. Jakobsson returned to editing in 1969, when he took over Galaxy and If, succeeding Frederik Pohl. He worked to make the magazines more up to date according to SFE with the help of Judy-Lynn del Rey and Lester del Rey. He left the magazines in 1974 and was succeeded by Jim Baen.

SFE says that “During Jakobsson’s editorship the following anthologies were published (his name did not appear on their title pages): The Best from Galaxy Vol I (anth 1972) edited by The Editors of Galaxy Magazine; The Best from If (anth 1973) edited anonymously; The Best from Galaxy Vol II (anth 1974) edited by The Editors of Galaxy Magazine; and The Best from If Vol II (anth 1974) edited by The Editors of If Magazine.” None of these are currently in-print. 

He also wrote a handful of short fiction according to ISFDB, all with Edith Jakobsson. The titles, such as “Corpses on Parades”, “Coming of The Unborn Things” and “Satan’s Toy Monsters”, suggest they were horror writers. These were never gathered into a collection. 

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) FAN MAIL FOR FLASH GORDON. “1980’s FLASH GORDON: Movie of the (Wonderfully) Impossible!” at 13th Dimension.

…It’s a famous story by now—one of the great What If?s in all of pop culture—that in the early 1970s, George Lucas tried to buy the rights to Flash Gordon. His failure to do so led (indirectly) to the creation of Star Wars, and popular entertainment would never be the same. De Laurentiis had first wanted Federico Fellini(!) to direct, then moved onto Nicolas Roeg(!!), finally settling on journeyman director Mike Hodges and screenwriter Lorenzo Semple Jr. (who, besides helping develop the Batman TV series, wrote the 1976 King Kong remake for De Laurentiis). With a budget of $27 million (around $100 million today), De Laurentiis was, as usual, going big.

He’s a miracle!

After a magnificently exciting opening credits scene (scored to Queens’ iconic, propulsive theme music, and peppered with art from the comic strip), we jump right to the action—by the 20-minute mark we’re already on Mongo.

Every sci-fi/fantasy film post-Star Wars bears its influence, visually and tonally. But De Laurentiis’ personality was still so big and forceful that Flash Gordon hits a sweet spot between what a big budget, modern sci-fi movie was supposed to feel like in 1980, and the more idiosyncratic, phantasmagorical, Pop Art feel of the 1960s. Almost everything in Flash Gordon is a practical effect—the retro-futuristic spaceships and weaponry, the Art Deco sets, and the costumes that look mighty uncomfortable for the actors to wear….

(13) SUBMISSION WINDOW. Chris Barkley wanted to make sure I didn’t miss “The Magazine of Horror” by Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki, published in 2020 by Apex Magazine. I’m glad he sent the link.

… PS: as an aside, I was wondering and didn’t want to add something so silly to the main body of my cover letter. It’s silly really. The worries of a newbie writer. I heard that your magazine is the greatest horror magazine and will only publish the greatest horror story at a time, and in the lifetime of the published writer, will publish no other story, until the accepted writer expires. Also, that should a story be accepted, the current story is deleted and the displaced writer dies. What is worse, I heard that all those rejected by your magazine also die. This is of course all just silly rumours. I notice that your magazine only has one story on it, despite its ridiculously high pay rate of a hundred thousand dollars per story…

(14) DAY AND NIGHT, YOU ARE THE ONE. “Chronobiologist and Nobel Laureate in Medicine Michael Rosbash: ‘Lack of sunlight during the day is worse than electric lighting at night’” in El País USA Edition.

Q. One of the things that flies and privileged people have in common is napping and sleeping at night. What is the biological purpose of sleep and of these intermediate pauses during the day?

A. We do not know. Memories are consolidated during sleep and neuronal morphology is modified during sleep. All that happens, but I do not think that is the major purpose of sleep. We do not know what fly and human sleep, for example, have in common. My guess is that it is related to metabolism, such as recharging ATP [adenosine triphosphate, a key energy molecule in cells]. The brain is the largest consumer of ATP; perhaps there is a metabolic need for recharging….

(15) ALL GLORY IS FLEETING. The New York Times tells how “George Santos Uses Cameo Videos to Make, of All Things, an Honest Buck”. (You can view his Cameo videos here: George Santos.) (Though it’s possible Bowen Yang is an even better Santos, as proven by his imitation in Saturday Night Live’s “George Santos Expelled Cold Open” last weekend.)

…Three days after George Santos was expelled from the House of Representatives, he sat in front of a camera to address the American people.

Well, a few American people. The ones willing to pay Mr. Santos — the former congressman who stands accused on federal fraud charges of stealing money from campaign donors for personal expenses — hundreds of dollars a pop on the video app Cameo.

“Hey, Sarah,” Mr. Santos said in one video. “Sometimes work sucks. I mean, let’s talk about bad days, huh? Last Friday wasn’t so great for me, either.”

It was a rare moment of truth for Mr. Santos, who lied to voters and his colleagues about where he went to high school, going to college, being a volleyball star, working on Wall Street, having Jewish ancestry and family ties to the Holocaust and the Sept. 11 attacks, among other things.

There was a time when Mr. Santos expressed regret for some of those falsehoods. His videos on Cameo suggest that time has passed.

“Hey, Harper! I love that you are such a dedicated student at N.Y.U.,” Mr. Santos says in one, before pausing, smirking and chuckling. “You know,” he adds, cocking his eyebrows: “My … not-so-real M.B.A.”

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. I don’t think dogs are rules lawyers by nature the way Ryan George makes them out to be in “When Dogs See A Christmas Tree”, but that’s where the humor comes from in this video. Tell the internet to go fetch it for you.

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

Pixel Scroll 11/22/23 All Right, Mr. Pixelle, I’m Ready For My Scroll-Up

(1) LOSCON THIS WEEKEND. Loscon 49, a gathering of writers and fans of all ages, with common interests in Fantasy, Science Fiction, Cosplay, Film, Art and Music takes place this Thanksgiving weekend, November 24-26, at the Los Angeles Airport Marriott on Century Blvd.

Author and screenwriter Peter S. Beagle is the Writer Guest of Honor. Generations of readers have enjoyed his magic of unicorns, haunted cemeteries, lascivious trees and disgruntled gods. His best-known work is “The Last Unicorn”

Echo Chernik, the Artist Guest of Honor, is commercial artist and instructor of digital media, specializing in art nouveau-influenced design art and illustration.

Fan Guest of Honor is Elayne Pelz. She has worked at Worldcons, Loscon, Gallifrey One, Anime cons, SFWA Nebula Conference, and many more, as an essential staff member for decades.

Loscon will partner with Nerd Mafia Group for a cosplay contest on Saturday evening.

Submissions will be accepted for the Losconzine49 onsite, at a fan table stocked with paper and various writing implements. They will also take emailed submissions until Dec 3rd via [email protected] These will be compiled and shared electronically with all those who submit and an online post will be shared with the public.

Weekend passes are $75, day rate is $40. Parking with validation is $20 per day.

For more information, check out Loscon 49.

Peter S. Beagle. Photo by Krystal Rains.

(2) FOR YOUR EARS. Audible.com has posted 20 books on its list of The Best Audiobooks of 2023, two of them of genre interest. And there are additional lists of —

(3) YOUR FAVORITE BOOK MAY ALREADY HAVE WON – IT’S UP TO YOU. Christopher Ruz has a solution to the surfeit of literary awards – make it bigger! “Announcing the 2023 Rando Awards”.

The Randos are a highly prestigious* genre fiction award, judged by a team with over a century of combined experience** in fantasy, science fiction, horror, crime, and more. Founded by me, because I felt like it, the Randos is a way of sharing our love of genre fiction and recognising the authors who made our year great. Our judging panel of Randos will come together at the end of the year to decide on their favourite reads of 2023. Each winning author—one per judge—will be awarded a coveted Rando trophy***.

*this is a lie

**if you add up the time we’ve all spent reading then it’s probably a hundred years? Maybe?

***I mean, I’d covet them pretty hard

Can I Be a Judge?

Here’s the thing about the Randos: anyone can be a Rando, and find some way to recognise and appreciate their favourite authors. You can shoot me a message and join our team in time for the 2023 awards! All you need is to cover the costs of the trophy and international postage for your chosen winner. Or, you can find your own way to let your fave author know that you appreciated their work and that they enriched your life with their stories.

There are no downsides to sharing that love….

(4) TOO CLOSE TO HOME. Author Max Florschutz says his mother survived the mudslide in his hometown of Wrangell, Alaska but his father is still missing: “It’s All Gone”. Sad and alarming news.

Guys, I … I barely know how to write this. The last thirty-six hours have been a nightmare that is still ongoing.

If you’ve seen the news and heard a story about Wrangell Alaska, then you’ve heard part of what I’m about to tell you.

Monday night at 9 PM, a landslide hit my hometown. It was 450 feet across by the time it hit the highway, after it completely demolished my parent’s property and home (here’s a picture of the size of the slide).

It continued down across the highway and into the bay, destroying another home along the way before ending up in the bay.

My mother pulled herself from the wreckage of her home and walked to the search and rescue teams across a still-shifting mudslide.

My father is still missing, and just typing this hurts. Search and rescue teams are trying to get to what’s left of their home to locate him. We have no idea if he’s alive or dead. Everything that can be done is being done….

(5) INDOPANTHEOLOGY OPENS TO SUBMISSIONS. Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki has put out a call for “Indopantheology: Stories from the Spiritual Margins” at OD Ekpeki Presents. Deadline to submit is March 31, 2024. Full details at the link.

Do you have stories that go beyond the realms of the physical world? We, the editors, are asking for your spirit-fiction.

This volume will explore the theme of Indopantheology, analogous to the Afropantheology of Oghenechovwe Ekpeki’s Between Dystopias: The Road to Afropantheology, published October 2023 by OD Ekpeki Presents, as an installment of the Pantheology projects

For us, Indopantheology maps the realm of the spiritual imagination, comprising all soul-matters from the most worldly of dreams to the most numinous of visions. If that is what you wish to explore, then this call is for you. We want stories from the wilder thickets of the spiritual world, the old places, the cultures and peoples that have been looted, disrespected and forgotten.

We want tales of the vast borderlands between life and death, where dreamers walk and ghosts and gods converse. Too often it seems that, in our current age of bigotry, exploitation and violence, the ‘spiritual’ is wielded as a weapon, designed to shame and exclude anyone of whom the wielder does not approve. We want to showcase stories that stand against this trend, and that go beyond the traditional binaries into the slippery truths of the shadow realms.

While the focus of this volume will be on South Asia and its many spiritual streams that defy the categories of organised religion, we are willing to accept spirit-stories from anyone in the wider Indoasian world. Please note that there are volumes currently in progress for other geographical regions with relations to South Asia, such as Africa, the Caribbean, etc.

We see this as a decolonising project, since the spirit world has historically been hijacked and weaponised by oppressors of various hue. We believe that new storytelling can cure this wound. And we especially want stories from, and about, people who are on the various spectrums: gender, neurological, mental and physical….

(6) RED WOMBAT DEAL. Orbit Books has acquired T. Kingfisher’s Saint of Steel series and Swordheart. Four of these were self-published, and now will get tradpub reprints.

Helen Breitwieser at Cornerstone Literary Agency sold UK and Commonwealth rights in five of T. Kingfisher’s books to Nadia Saward, Commissioning Editor at Orbit. The ebooks of Paladin’s GracePaladin’s StrengthPaladin’s Hope and Swordheart are on sale now from Orbit, with Paladin’s Faith publishing in early December. Orbit will be redesigning the covers and will be releasing paperbacks of all five books in Spring 2025.

(7) VARIABLE GOALS. We’ve heard a thousand times about AUTHORS GETTING PAID, but publisher Steven Radecki tells readers of the SFWA Blog that’s not the only way to keep score: “The INDIE FILES: Measuring Your Success As an Author”.

During the more than a decade that I have been involved in indie publishing, I have worked with more than three hundred authors. One thing I have discovered is that, just as publishing is not a one-size-fits-all process, neither is how individual writers conceive of their success. Managing your own goals and expectations and why you have them can go a long way toward understanding your feelings of success as an indie author.

Just getting your work published is probably your primary goal—whether it be a short story, novella, or epic trilogy. Few writers, particularly newly published ones, give much advance thought to what happens after they achieve that goal: what it will mean to feel successful as an author once their work has been published.

Having clear goals helps you in the effective promotion of your work. Discussing your goals early in your relationship with your agent or publisher can help you determine whether you are the right fit for each other in helping you achieve your goals. Defining goals will also help you in your decision on whether to go the traditional publishing, small publishing, or self-publishing route.

Some of the ways you might measure your success as an author include:

  • income earned
  • number of books or stories sold
  • number of engaged readers
  • public displays of your work

(8) PLAINTIFF HITS STUMBLING BLOCK IN AI LAWSUIT. [Item by Nina Shepardson.] The Hollywood Reporter has a new article out on Sarah Silverman’s lawsuit against Meta alleging that its generative AI program infringes her copyright as an author. “Sarah Silverman Hits Stumbling Block in AI Lawsuit Against Meta”.

A judge has dismissed most of the claims in Silverman’s lawsuit. He called the claim that the AI model itself is an infringing derivative work “nonsensical.” He also found that Silverman didn’t provide sufficient evidence that the outputs of the model are “recasting, transforming, or adapting” her books. He said that, “To prevail on a theory that LLaMA’s outputs constitute derivative infringement, the plaintiffs would indeed need to allege and ultimately prove that the outputs ‘incorporate in some form a portion of’ the plaintiffs’ books.” Apparently, there’s a “test of substantial similarity” that’s used in copyright cases to determine whether a work is similar enough to the original to likely be infringing. It sounds like the judge doesn’t think Silverman has provided evidence that the outputs of Meta’s AI program are substantially similar to her original work.

(9) MEMORY LANE.

1987 [Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Emma Bull’s War for The Oaks is a lovely novel. So we take our Beginning from it this time.

Since some of you might because of your extreme poor fortune not have read it yet so I’ll talk not about it and spoil it for you. Well I’ll at least put SPOILER ALERT up if I do. 

War for The Oaks was first published by Ace in softcover in 1987 with the first cover art below by Pamela Patrick. The novel’s setting is based upon Minneapolis where she and her husband Will Shetterly were living at the time. 

The novel was, by Ace, printed once and declared out of print. It took Emma almost a decade-and-a-half to get back rights to the novel from Ace. Tor then printed a hardcover edition which never officially got released. It got released in a trade paper edition that had exactly the same cover. I like the Tor art by Jane Adele Regina as shown in the second cover image better than the Ace illustration as I think it captures the darker aspect of the novel. 

SPOILER ALERT FOR A MINUTE.

Eddi also plays songs written by herself – in actuality of course, written by the author, Emma Bull. Some of these (including “Wear My Face” and “For It All”) were performed by the band Cats Laughing (of which Emma Bull is a member), and are on their second album Another Way To Travel whose cover art is by Terri Windling of a hearse and the band in front of it.

When the trailer for War for The Oaks was filmed with funding meant first Will’s run for the Governorship of Minnesota, this music was supplemented by some by Boiled in Lead as well. In the trailer, Emma plays the Fairy Queen and a fine one she does make! 

That trailer is here. Don’t watch it if you’ve not read the novel. Really don’t or the Unseelie Queen will curse you. If you do and you were in Minneapolis in the large Eighties, let be note that a lot of the actors are from fandom. 

END OF SPOILER ALERTS

And now our Beginning…

Prologue

By day, the Nicollet Mall winds through Minneapolis like a paved canal. People flow between its banks, eddying at the doors of office towers and department stores. The big red-and-white city buses roar at every corner. On the many-globed lampposts, banners advertising a museum exhibit flap in the wind that the tallest buildings snatch out of the sky. The skyway system vaults the mall with its covered bridges of steel and glass, and they, too, are full of people, color, motion.

But late at night, there’s a change in the Nicollet Mall.

The street lamp globes hang like myriad moons, and light glows in the empty bus shelters like nebulae. Down through the silent business district the mall twists, the silver zipper in a patchwork coat of many dark colors. The sound of traffic from Hennepin Avenue, one block over, might be the grating of the World-Worm’s scales over stone.

Near the south end of the mall, in front of Orchestra Hall, Peavey Plaza beckons: a reflecting pool, and a cascade that descends from towering chrome cylinders to a sunken walk-in maze of stone blocks and pillars for which “fountain” is an inadequate name. In the moonlight, it is black and silver, gray and white, full of an elusive play of shape and contrast.

On that night, there were voices in Peavey Plaza. One was like the susurrus of the fountain itself, sometimes hissing, sometimes with the little-bell sound of a water drop striking. The other was deep and rough; if the concrete were an animal, it would have this voice.

“Tell me,” said the water voice, “what you have found.”

The deep voice replied. “There is a woman who will do, I think.”

When water hits a hot griddle, it sizzles; the water-voice sounded like that. “You are our eyes and legs in this, Dog. That should not interfere with your tongue. Tell me!”

A low, growling laugh, then: “She makes music, the kind that moves heart and body. In another time, we would have found her long before, for that alone. We grow fat and slow in this easy life,” the rough voice said, as if it meant to say something very different.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 22, 1918 Walter Kubilius. Quoting John Clute in SFE, “US editor and author involved in American Fandom from as early as 1932, when he was a founder member of the Edison Science Club; by the end of the 1930s, after serving on the committee that created the first Worldcon in 1939, he helped form the Futurians.”  He wrote a fair amount of short fiction but it’s never been collected as near as I can tell. (Died 1993.)
  • Born November 22, 1925 Arthur Richard Mather.  Australian cartoonist, illustrator, and novelist. He was the artist who and later wrote of one of Australia’s most successful comics series, Captain Atom. It was published from 1948 to 1954, with 64 issues. No relation to the by Charlton Comics character of that name who became the DC Comics character. After the Australian comics business declined in the Fifties, we become a writer and churned out seven works, all  thrillers and crime novels with elements of science fiction.  (Died 2017.)
  • Born November 22, 1938 William Kotzwinkle, 85. Fata Morgana might be his best novel though Doctor Rat which he won the World Fantasy Award for is in the running for that honor as well. Did you know Kotzwinkle wrote the novelization of the screenplay for E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial? And his short stories are quite excellent too.  The usual digital suspects are well stocked with his books now, a change from five years ago.
  • Born November 22, 1940 Terry Gilliam, 83. He’s directed many films of which the vast majority are firmly genre. I think I’ve seen most of them though I though I’ve not seen The Man Who Killed Don QuixoteTidelandThe Zero Theorem or The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. I’ve seen everything else. Yes, I skipped past his start as the animator for Monty Python’s Flying Circus which grew out of his for the children’s series Do Not Adjust Your Set which had staff of Eric Idle, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin.  Though he largely was the animator in the series and the films, he did occasionally take acting roles according to his autobiography, particularly roles no one else wanted such those requiring extensive makeup.  He’s also co-directed a number of scenes.  Awards? Of course. Twelve Monkeys is the most decorated followed by Brazil with two and Time Bandits and The Fisher King which each have but one.  My favorite films by him? Oh, the one I’ve watched the most is The Adventures of Baron Munchausen followed by Time Bandits.
  • Born November 22, 1949 John Grant. He’d make the Birthday list solely for being involved in the stellar Hugo Award winning Encyclopedia of Fantasy which also won a Mythopoeic Award.  And he did win another well-deserved Hugo Award for Best Related Work for The Chesley Awards for Science Fiction and Fantasy Art: A Retrospective.  Most of his short fiction has been set in the Lone Wolf universe, though I see that he did a Judge Dredd novel too. (Died 2020.)
  • Born November 22, 1957 Kim Yale. She was a writer whose first work was in the New America series, a spin-off of Truman’s Scout series. With Truman, she developed the Barbara Gordon Oracle character, created the superb Manhunter series, worked on Suicide Squad, and was an editor at D.C. where she oversaw such licenses as Star Trek: The Next Generation. Married to John Ostrander until 1993 when she died of breast cancer. For First Comics, she co-wrote much of Grimjack with her husband. (Died 1997.)

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • Eek! shows someone big and green bringing a veggie to the Thanksgiving feast. No, not the jolly one.
  • Tom Gauld thinks about silencing the feedback.
  • Elsewhere, Tom Gauld teases scientists.

(12) DOCTOR WHO MEMORIES. “’John Hurt and I swapped wine tips’: stars share their best Doctor Who moments – part three” in the Guardian.

Ben Aaronovitch (writer of episodes featuring the Seventh Doctor, 1988-1989)

My first real memory of a complete story is The Green Death, and my favourite memory is of this large slug sneaking up on Jo Grant. I was literally watching it from behind the sofa. From working on the show, I remember that the anti-terrorist squad in Remembrance of the Daleks was scrambled to Waterloo station because we’d blown a great big hole in it. I used to have a photo of a group of Daleks with fire engines coming down and stopping and looking at the road blocked by a group of Daleks. God knows what they thought!

(13) COSMIC INSIGHT. Adam Roberts after reading the science news….

(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Ryan George is “Talking About The Apocalypse In 2023”. What, him worry?

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

Pixel Scroll 11/8/23 This Pixel Will Self-Scroll In Five Seconds

(1) ACTORS AND STUDIOS REACH AGREEMENT. “SAG Strike Ends: Actors & Studios Reach Deal On New Three-Year Contract” reports Deadline.

After 118 days of the actors guild being out on strike, SAG-AFTRA and the studios on Wednesday reached a tentative deal on a new contract that could see Hollywood up and running again within weeks.

The strike will be over as of 12:01 a.m. PT on Thursday, November 9, we hear.

Culminating a dramatic day of studio earnings results and deadline ultimatums, the actors guild’s 17-member negotiating committee unanimously voted this afternoon to recommend a tentative agreement to the SAG-AFTRA board.

Specific details of the deal are expected to be revealed when the agreement goes to the board Friday.

Coming just less than a month after Writers Guild members overwhelmingly ratified their own agreement with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, SAG-AFTRA’s deal is the culmination of the latest round of renewed negotiations that began October 24. Indicating the seriousness and stakes of the negotiations, Netflix’s Ted SarandosDisney’s Bob IgerNBCUniversal’s Donna Langley and Warner Bros Discovery’s David Zaslav frequently directly participated in the talks.

The tentative agreement follows the studios responding last Friday to the guild’s last comprehensive counter with a self-described “historic” package. That was succeeded less than 24 hours later by an expanded group of studio leaders — including execs from Paramount, Amazon, Apple and more — joining the Gang of Four to brief SAG-AFTRA on the AMPTP’s offer, which was said to include big gains in wages and bonuses as well as sweeping AI protections….

(2) ELUSIVE PEACE. “’The good guys don’t always win’: Salman Rushdie on peace, Barbie and what freedom cost him” – an article by Salman Rushdie in the Guardian. (This is an edited extract from Salman Rushdie’s acceptance speech for the German peace prize awarded to him at the Frankfurt book fair last month.)

… What do we do about free speech when it is so widely abused? We should still do, with renewed vigour, what we have always needed to do: to answer bad speech with better speech, to counter false narratives with better narratives, to answer hate with love, and to believe that the truth can still succeed even in an age of lies. We must defend it fiercely and define it broadly. We should of course defend speech that offends us, otherwise we are not defending free expression at all….

(3) F&SF COVER. The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction’s Nov-Dec 2023 cover art is by Alan M. Clark.

(4) GHOSTBUSTERS TRAILER. The teaser trailer for Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire dropped today.

In Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire, the Spengler family returns to where it all started – the iconic New York City firehouse – to team up with the original Ghostbusters, who’ve developed a top-secret research lab to take busting ghosts to the next level. But when the discovery of an ancient artifact unleashes an evil force, Ghostbusters new and old must join forces to protect their home and save the world from a second Ice Age.

(5) NASA+ STREAMING SERVICE. [Item by Dan Bloch.] NASA launched their own streaming service today.  “NASA’s ad-free, no-cost streaming service launches this week – what to know” reports Fox 35 Orlando. The service’s URL is: NASA+.

NASA’s highly-anticipated streaming service is ready to take off, and viewers can experience the platform starting Wednesday, Nov. 8. 

In a post on X, formerly Twitter, the space agency said NASA+ is a free, family friendly service that doesn’t require a subscription or have ads and features Emmy-winning live shows and original series.

(6) CARIBBEAN PANTHEOLOGY CALLS FOR SUBMISSIONS. Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki has opened submissions to Between Dystopias: The Passage To Caribbean Pantheology.

OD Ekpeki Presents is accepting submissions of fiction, poetry, essays, articles and reviews from October 16th to February 11th for The Passage To Caribbean Pantheology, a speculative fiction anthology, edited by Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki, Tonya Liburd, E.G. Condé and Fabrice Guerrier. Publication date is in 2024.

Call: We define Caribbean Pantheology as stories spoken, sung, or written that evoke the wonder, horror, and joy of the Caribbean experience. Caribbean Pantheology will receive, read, translate and publish stories in all varieties of English (including Creole and Spanglish), Spanish, and French that engage with the diverse spiritual traditions of creators living in the Caribbean or its many diasporas. Between myth and legend, the fantastical and the speculative, the supernatural and the real, we seek stories that defy genre boundaries (fantasy, magical realism, surreal, the weird, speculative, science fiction) and the colonial borders that have long divided our islands into “Anglophone”, “Francophone”, and “Hispanophone” communities. Like the Caribbean, our pantheology is a meshwork of continents, deities, and languages, forged in the violence of colonialism, chattel slavery, and indentured labor. More than our scars, we Caribbean people are foundries of creativity and revolution. Like the maroon refuges built by our ancestors, we are spun from Indigenous (Garifuna, Guanahatabey, Kalinago, Taíno), African, Asian, and European traces. As such, we welcome stories that confront the spiritual wounds of our pasts, celebrate the rich traditions of our present, and imagine our flourishing futures. Send us your archipelagic tales of Soucouyants and Brujas; Orishas and Cemís; Loogaroos and Behikes; Jumbees and Ciguapas; Anansi and Chupacabras.

Eligibility: We seek works created by Caribbean people or anyone with ancestral or migratory ties to the region. If you are a marginalized creator, we encourage you to submit your work to us. We will reject any submissions that promote colorism, shadeism, or racism, to any degree. Please do not send us content generated by artificial intelligence applications.

Payment: $.08 per word up to 1,000 words; $.01 per word for longer submissions; $50 flat rate for poems, essays, articles and reviews.

Rights requested: All world English, French and Spanish rights, exclusive for one year after publication.

Submit to: [email protected]

This anthology will be co-published by OD Ekpeki Presents, the first Pantheology imprint, as a part of the larger body of Pantheology projects. OD Ekpeki Presents is an imprint of Jembefola Press, which has published projects which have won and been nominated for the Hugo, Locus, World Fantasy, British Fantasy, British Science Fiction, and other awards. It’s run by Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki and you can contact him for collaborations on any of the pantheology projects here.

(7) MEMORY LANE.

1944  — [Written by Cat Eldridge based on a selection by Mike Glyer.]

Killdozer is where our Beginning comes from this time. It’s by Theodore Sturgeon, a writer that I have a great deal of admiration for. More Than Human, an IFA Award winner, and The Dreaming Jewels are both amazing novels as are both of his produced Trek scripts, “Shore Leave” (one of my favorite ones) and “Amok Time”, a Hugo nominee.  Let’s not overlook that he wrote a mystery as he ghost-wrote the Ellery Queen mystery novel, The Player on the Other Side

Yes, that’s being terribly selective, but his career produced some hundred reviews plus more than one hundred and twenty short stories and eleven novels so it’s hard not to be selective, is it? So it is impressive indeed. 

Killdozer, a novella, was first published in Astounding Science Fiction in November of 1944. The cover art was by William Timmins. The novel was published inside in three parts with artwork by Paul Orban. 

It won a Retro Hugo at CoNewZealand. 

Now for the Beginning…

Before the race was the deluge, and before the deluge another race, whose nature it is not for mankind to understand. Not unearthly, not alien, for this was their earth and their home.

There was a war between this race, which was a great one, and another. The other was truly alien, a sentient cloudform, an intelligent grouping of tangible electrons. It was spawned by mighty machines in some accident of a science before our aboriginal conception in its complexities. And the machines, servants of the people, became the people’s masters, and great were the battles that followed. The electron- beings had the power to warp the delicate balances of atom-structure, and their life-medium was metal, which they permeated and used to their own ends. Each weapon the people developed was possessed and turned against them, until a time when the remnants of that vast civilization found a defense—

An insulator. The terminal product or by-product of all energy research—neutronium.

In its shelter they developed a weapon. What it was we shall never know, and our race will live— or we shall know, and our race will perish as theirs perished. For, to destroy the enemy, it got out of hand and its measureless power destroyed them with it, and their cities, and their possessed machines. The very earth dissolved in flame, the crust writhed and shook and the oceans boiled. Nothing escaped it, nothing that we know as life, and nothing of the pseudolife that had evolved within the mysterious force- fields of their incomprehensible incomprehensible machines, save one hardy mutant…

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 8, 1847 Abraham “Bram” Stoker. You know that he’s author of Dracula but did you know that he wrote other fiction such as The Lady of the Shroud and The Lair of the White Worm? Of course you do, being you. The short story collection Dracula’s Guest and Other Weird Stories was published in 1914 by Stoker’s widow, Florence Stoker. (Died 1912.)
  • Born November 8, 1906 Matt Fox. I’m here to praise him as an illustrator of those magazines that published the stories of such writers as Robert Bloch, Manly Wade Wellman and Ray Bradbury. The covers by Fox were of course intended to lure you to magazine rack, pick up the magazine and purchase it. Such was what he did for Weird Tales from November 1944 to July 1950. After that, during the Fifties and Sixties he worked for Atlas Comics, inking and penciling Journey into MysteryWorld of FantasyTales of Suspense and Journey into Unknown Worlds. It is thought that his last known published work is an advertisement, printed in 1967, for original mail-order glow-in-the-dark posters. (Died 1988.)
  • Born November 8, 1918 Raymond E. Banks. Some thirty stories, many published in shorter form as well, often under mostly not so clever pseudonyms such as Ray Banks and Ray E. Banks. The novels, all three of them, got renamed multiple times, so Lust in Space became Ultimate Transform and The Moon Rapers. Did I mention he really liked including sex scenes in his writing hence such titles as Lust in Space. His writing did sell well perhaps because of the sex scenes. Most of the short stories were printed in slicks, so called at time because the magazines were printed on smooth, high-quality glossy paper.  I can’t find anything of his being in-print now in any format. (Died 1996.)
  • Born November 8, 1932 Ben Bova. He’s the author of more than one hundred twenty fiction and nonfiction books. He won six Hugo Awards as editor of Analog, along with once being editorial director at Omni. Hell, he even had the thankless job of SFWA President. (Just kidding. I think.) I couldn’t hope to summarize his literary history so I’ll single out his Grand Tour series that though it’s uneven as overall it’s splendid hard sf, as well as his Best of Bova short story collections put out recently in three volumes on Baen. What’s your favorite works by him? (Died 2020.)
  • Born November 8, 1955 Jeffrey Ford, 67. Winner of seven World Fantasy Awards including for The Fantasy Writer’s Assistant and Other Stories, an excellent collection, and The Shadow Year which in turn is an expansion of “The Botch Town”, a novella that also won a WFA. His Nebula winning novelette, “The Empire of Ice Cream”, can be heard here. Did you know that he has written over one hundred and thirty short stories?  A wide selection of his writing are available at the usual digital suspects. 
  • Born November 8, 1956 Richard Curtis, 57. One of Britain’s most successful comedy screenwriters, he’s making the Birthday List for writing “Vincent and the Doctor”, a most excellent Eleventh Doctor story. He was also the writer of Roald Dahl’s Esio Trot which isn’t really genre but it’s Roald Dahl which sort of make it genre adjacent. And he directed Blackadder which certainly should count as genre.

(9) DRAGON CHOW. “Millie Bobby Brown Snaps Into Action in First ‘Damsel’ Poster”, which is shared by Collider.

In Damsel, Brown stars as Elodie, a young woman who thinks she’s hit the jackpot after accepting her dream proposal from the most eligible bachelor in all the land. Excited about her new life, Elodie has the rug pulled out from under her when she realizes the entire engagement has been a clever ruse. Seeking to pay back an old debt to a dangerous and bloodthirsty dragon, Elodie’s new family only wanted her as a sacrifice to the fire-breathing beast. After being tossed into the dark and dank pit, it’s sink or swim for Elodie after realizing that no one is coming to save her, and she must be her own hero….

(10) ZELDA IS NEXT GAME TO GET A FILM ADAPTATION. “Zelda Live-Action Movie Announced by Nintendo, Director Wes Ball”Variety has the story.

Hollywood, meet Hyrule.

Nintendo is developing a live-action film based on The Legend of Zelda, creator and game developer Shigeru Miyamoto announced.

The gaming legend took to Nintendo’s official X/Twitter account to write, “This is Miyamoto. I have been working on the live-action film of The Legend of Zelda for many years now with Avi Arad-san, who has produced many mega hit films.”

He continued, “I have asked Avi-san to produce this film with me, and we have now officially started the development of the film with Nintendo itself heavily involved in the production. It will take time until its completion, but I hope you look forward to seeing it.”The movie will be directed by Wes Ball, who helmed the “Maze Runner” trilogy and the upcoming “Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes,” written by “Jurassic World” screenwriter Derek Connolly and produced by Miyamoto, whose involvement in 2023’s “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” helped make it a groundbreaking box office success. Ball also produces with Joe Hartwick Jr. under their Oddball Entertainment banner….

(11) MOBY FORMAT. The New York Times brings word that “Orcas Sink Fourth Boat Off Iberia, Unnerving Sailors”.

The yacht Grazie Mamma II carried its crew along the coastlines and archipelagos of the Mediterranean. Its last adventure was off the coast of Morocco last week, when it encountered a pod of orcas.

The marine animals slammed the yacht’s rudder for 45 minutes, causing major damage and a leak, according to Morskie Mile, the boat’s Polish operators. The crew escaped, and rescuers and the Moroccan Navy tried to tow the yacht to safety, but it sank near the port of Tanger Med, the operator said on its website.

The account of the sinking is adding to the worries of many sailors along the western coast of the Iberian Peninsula, where marine biologists are studying a puzzling phenomenon: Orcas are jostling and ramming boats in interactions that have disrupted dozens of voyages and caused at least four boats in the past two years to sink….

(12) UP ABOVE THE WORLD SO HIGH. “Humanity Just Witnessed Its First Space Battle” says Gizmodo.

Early last week, Israel’s Arrow 2 missile system successfully intercepted and destroyed a suborbital ballistic missile suspected of launching from Yemen. It’s a notable technological achievement, but one with potentially serious legal and geopolitical implications.

The Israeli Defense Force (IDF) shot down an Iranian-manufactured ballistic missile using its Arrow 2 anti-missile system, Haaretz reported. The incident happened on Tuesday, October 31, with Yemeni forces possibly targeting Eilat, an Israeli city on the coast of the Red Sea. The Telegraph claims the missile was intercepted and destroyed above the Kármán line, which at 62 miles (100 kilometers) above sea level is widely recognized as the boundary of space.

There have been many earlier instances of missile-on-missile interceptions above the Kármán, according to Harvard-Smithsonian astronomer Jonathan McDowell. However, all previous cases involved interceptors targeting missiles launched by the same party for testing purposes, whereas this is the first occurrence of a missile successfully intercepting an incoming missile from an adversary in space, McDowell, an expert on space launches, explained to Gizmodo over email.

…Haaretz reports that the destroyed missile was a Qadar, an enhanced version of Iran’s Shahab 3 missile, and it says that the incident represents the farthest range attack attempted by the Houthis to date at an estimated 994 miles (1,600 kilometers), but the exact launch point is not yet known. The incident is possibly “the first combat ever to take place in space,” as The Telegraph reports….

(13) JURASSIC POOP. SYFY Wire knows how excited you’ll be to hear the news: “Woolly Rhino Genome Recovered from Fossilized Hyena Poop”.

When John Hammond cooked up the idea for Jurassic Park, he needed the skills of the world’s brightest geneticists and a little help from the fossil record. The earliest additions to the fledgling park were enabled by preserved DNA locked inside prehistoric mosquitoes trapped in orbs of amber. The basic premise was pretty simple: if you can’t get DNA straight from the source, look for another animal who ate the DNA you want.

Later, InGen scientists working for the updated Jurassic World facility found ways to extract DNA from other sources, including directly from well-preserved specimens, allowing them to expand their resurrected prehistoric menagerie. Now, InGen scientists (and real-world scientists) have a new source of extinct DNA: fossilized poop.

Ancient Hyenas Ate Woolly Rhinos and Pooped Out Their DNA

Getting usable DNA from dinosaurs 66 million years after the fact might be too much to ask for, but DNA from more recently deceased animals like the dodothe woolly mammoth, and the woolly rhinoceros is well within our possibility. But some extinct genomes are easier to recover than others….

(14) BOMBS AWAY. Forbes says “The Final ‘The Marvels’ Trailer Is Transparently Desperate”.

Marvel is bracing for impact as The Marvels is shaping up to be one of the MCU’s biggest box office bombs, really no matter what the quality of the film ends up being. It’s the wrong film at the wrong time for the MCU, and early pre-sales have it tracking below DC’s disastrous The Flash.

So, Marvel and Disney are now pulling out all the stops. And by that I mean releasing a “final” trailer for the film that is so transparently desperate it actually hurts to watch. And I say that not as some weird Brie Larson-hater but as someone who is genuinely looking forward to the film (more Iman Vellani as Kamala!).

The trailer sheds the lighthearted tone of the older spots and appears to be trying to make this a direct continuation of Avengers Endgame. It opens with multiple scenes of Tony Stark and Steve Rogers, both of whom have both left the MCU at this point, flashing back to their final battle against Thanos, while reminding us that yes, Captain Marvel was also there….

And yet Deadline’s reviewer Valerie Complex praises it highly: “’The Marvels’ Review: A Cosmic Triumph Grounded In Sincerity And Humanity”.

In an era where the Marvel Cinematic Universe frequently shuttles between multiverse escapades and interplanetary conflicts, Nia DaCosta‘s The Marvels emerges as a breath of fresh air, eschewing bombast for a nuanced exploration of its characters. DaCosta, alongside writers Megan McDonnell and Elissa Karasik, anchors the superhero spectacle in the tangible and personal, making the extraordinary feel accessible and grounded….

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki, Dan Bloch, Steven French, Lise Andreasen, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Bill.]

Pixel Scroll 10/25/23 Scrollkahoma, Where The Solar Wind Comes Clicking Down The Galactic Plane

(1) WELL, I’M BACK. That’s one of many things the Fourteenth Doctor doesn’t say in this video. Let Collider explain to you the way a new “’Doctor Who’ Featurette Breaks Down How David Tennant Returned”.

After an entire decade of not playing the role of the Doctor, David Tennant is back in Doctor Who, the classic BBC show about an alien who travels across time and space in a blue police box called the TARDIS. A new behind-the-scenes featurette released by the network shows how the team behind the series collaborated to film Tennant’s return to the titular role. Since a different crew was in charge of filming Jodie Whittaker‘s departure from the story, the team working with Tennant had to coordinate with the footage that had already been shot…

(2) 2023 WSFS BUSINESS MEETING VIDEOS. [Item by Kevin Standlee.] The video from the 2023 WSFS Business Meeting is now uploaded to YouTube.

The room was under-lit. I tried to compensate in the camera settings and in post-production, but the videos still came out darker than I would have liked. 

The meeting was conducted in English and Chinese, with simultaneous translation through headsets. There was no mechanism for combining those translation feeds with this video. 

There was CART transcription in both English and Chinese, but it was computer generated and computer translated, which means it was not all that accurate. In some cases, we tried to swing the camera around to pick up the approximate English translation, but we did not manage to do so in all cases, especially when I wasn’t operating the camera, which I was unable to do when I was presiding over the meeting as the deputy presiding officer.

These videos are CC-attribution licensed, so if anyone wants to create translations, they are welcomed to give it a try as long as they apply the same CC licensing.

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

Taiyo Fujii on Chengdu hotel arrangements

This is an interesting observation, which perhaps Filers who attended Chengdu in person can comment on.  (Very minor manual cleanups for style and grammar.)

I seemed to meet with non-Anglophone writers whilst at Chengdu.  This was because the hotels were separated.

Guests stayed in separate hotels.  One was the Sheraton which was close to the Chengdu Science (SF)  Museum, and the other was the Wyndham, which was 30 mins from the venue.

The WSFS committee, exhibitors, foreign nominees, members from the USA and UK, and elderly visitors stayed in the first one, whereas others stayed at the latter.

[At the latter] I met many Chinese people, and writers from Asia, Europe, South America and other regions.

#worldcon

Note: Chinese laws require hotels to register foreign guests with the authorities, and a number of smaller locations won’t accept such guests, not through xenophobia (probably), but because they don’t have the systems or trained staff to handle the bureaucratic aspects.  I don’t think that’s too relevant here – I assume all of the hotels associated with the con would be set up to handle foreigners – but may be a partial explanation as to why the con organizers were so involved in accommodation for invited attendees, to avoid potential bad press if attendees were turned away from a hotel.

Con commentary

File 770 contributor SanFeng aka Feng Zhang links to a Chinese-language newspaper report, which contains quotes from him, and adds his own thoughts in this Weibo post.  (Via Google Translate, with minor cleanup edits.)

Me and West China Metropolis Daily reporter Zhang Jie chatted very happily.  This passage really basically sums up my main feelings about attending the Worldcon this time.  Of course, the “multi-layered” conference is bound to have various conflicts, contradictions, and inconsistencies.  I also heard and experienced a lot. The main problem is that the needs of science fiction fans are not a high priority, which lead to some misplaced expectations and reality.  Anyway, we thank Chengdu for hosting this event!  Looking forward to the next meeting.

Photos from the other SF con that took place in Chengdu last weekend

(Via SF Light Year/Adaoli) I think these are the events that took place at the Sheraton, rather than the SF museum, under the banner of the 6th China (Chengdu) International SF Convention, that was originally scheduled for 2021, but got cancelled due to COVID.  (If you remember the item last month about a bean paste tie-in, it was technically connected to this event, rather than the Worldcon proper.)

The QR code shown here should link to https://y.camera360.com/photolive/collection?channel=pc&origin=link&collectId=20231020204417122

I haven’t actually looked at more than a couple of these photos, because for me it took several minutes to show anything other than a loading spinner.  

Xiaohongshu images

Now that the con is over, lots of people are uploading their photos.  These are but a small sampling of the posted photosets. 

There are even more photos taken with faces familiar to Filers, or people who are Filers themselves.  I’ve not had chance to go through them all yet, but I’ll try to include them in the next day or so.

(4) BIRD AND BABY BOUGHT. “Eagle and Child: Tolkien and Lewis pub bought by tech institute”BBC News has the story.

An Oxford pub that was frequented by authors CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien has been bought by a research institution building a campus in the city.

The Ellison Institute of Technology (EIT), founded by US tech billionaire Larry Ellison, said it had bought the Eagle and Child, which shut in 2020.

The pub in St Giles’ dates back to 1650 and has a plaque inside commemorating the writers’ get-togethers.

EIT said it would “refurbish and reopen the iconic venue”….

…. The company’s founding director and CEO, Dr David Agus, said: “The Eagle and Child pub is a truly historic venue that has hosted some of the greatest minds Oxford has had to offer for over 300 years.

“We are humbled and proud to be able to safeguard this treasured pub’s future and continue its legacy as a place for brilliant people to come together, including for our Ellison scholars.”

(5) AFROPANTHEOLOGY ANTHOLOGY. Between Dystopias: The Road To Afropantheology edited by Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki and Joshua Uchenna Omenga has been released. It’s available as an eBook (direct from Publisher, MOBI & EPub)trade paperback from Amazon, a trade paperback from Barnes and Noble, a trade paperback from Books a Million and almost everywhere else.

(6) FIVE BY FIVE. Charlie Jane Anders names “Five sci-fi and fantasy novels to read now” in the Washington Post. Thanks to a gift link you can read it there. Authors of these books are Cassandra Clare, Samit Basu, micha cárdenas, B. Pladek and Alix E. Harrow.

One theme animates many recent science fiction and fantasy books: What happens when an outsider enters the corridors of power? Not every orphan with special powers ends up saving the world. The heroes of these new books make their way into rarefied circles and encounter the snares of politics. In the process, they give us new insights into what happens when an ordinary person rises to greatness….

(7) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites listeners to chat and chew over fried calamari with Michael Marano in Episode 210 of his Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Michael Marano

This time around my guest is Michael Marano, winner of both the Bram Stoker Award and the International Horror Guild Award for Best First Novel for Dawn Song, published by Tor Books in 1998. His short fiction has appeared in the anthologies Outsiders: 22 All New Stories from the EdgeDark Fusions: Where Monsters LurkThe Outer Limits, Volume TwoPeter S. Beagle’s Immortal Unicorn, and others. His novella “Displacement” was nominated for a 2011 Shirley Jackson Award. Some of his short fiction has been gathered in the collection Stories from the Plague Years from Cemetery Dance Publications.

Michael’s also a journalist who went on many junkets for me back when I edited science fiction media magazines. His non-fiction has appeared in alternative newspapers such as The Independent Weekly, The Boston Phoenix, and  The Weekly Dig, plus his column “MediaDrome” has been a popular feature in Cemetery Dance magazine since 2001. He’s a writing teacher as well, which you’ll hear all about in this episode. Plus, he’s an aerialist who’s done performances inspired by a variety of science fiction greats. That’s an art form I’ve never had the chance to discuss before, so that’s where our conversation began.

We discussed how his love of science fiction storytelling led him to explore wrestling and roller derby, the lessons we each learned from our early rejections, his preference for old school Dungeons & Dragons, how his crush on Linda Blair affected his first celebrity interview, whether writers ever really retire regardless of what they claim, what his career as a film critic taught him about the possible arc of his fiction writing career, and much, much more.

(8) BRO GUY SIGHTING. [Item by Mark Roth-Whitworth.] Brother Guy was on C-SPAN3 Saturday talking about storytelling, science and religion. Here is a link to video of his talk – “The Pope’s Astronomer on Astronomy and Faith”.

Known as the pope’s astronomer, Vatican Observatory director and author Brother Guy Consolmagno considered how the art of storytelling can illuminate both astronomy and religious faith. Friends of the North Hollywood Library in Los Angeles hosted this program.

(9) MEMORY LANE.

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

Michael Chabon’s The Yiddish Policemen’s Union is the source of our Beginning for this Autumnal Scroll. But let’s talk about the writer now.

I first encountered him by way of his Summerland novel, possibly the best fantasy ever written about baseball. It won the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature though I think that it is a book for individuals of all ages.  

From there I then moved unto The Gentlemen of the Road which is genre by virtue of being alternate history.  The only long work that I’ve not read by him that I probably should is The Final Solution: A Story of Detection, a Sherlock Holmes novella or short novel depending on your viewpoint. Anyone here that has read it?

Yes, I’m skipping a lot of his work here obviously including being a scriptwriter for genre series and films as that’d take more space here than is really warranted. Do feel free to take me to task for what I should’ve mentioned here that I didn’t.

And that brings me to The Yiddish Policemen’s Union which had its first English language publication by HarperCollins sixteen years ago. It actually had its first publication in Dutch as De Jiddische politiebond on Manteau previously the same year

It would win a Hugo at Devention 3 along with a Nebula and a Sidewise, very impressive indeed. 

See no spoilers? Now here’s the Beginning…

Nine months Landsman’s been flopping at the Hotel Zamenhof without any of his fellow residents managing to get themselves murdered. Now somebody has put a bullet in the brain of the occupant of 208, a yid who was calling himself Emanuel Lasker.

 “He didn’t answer the phone, he wouldn’t open his door,” says Tenenboym the night manager when he comes to roust Landsman. Landsman lives in 505, with a view of the neon sign on the hotel across Max Nordau Street. That one is called the Blackpool, a word that figures in Landsman’s nightmares. “I had to let myself into his room.” 

The night manager is a former U.S. Marine who kicked a heroin habit of his own back in the sixties, after coming home from the shambles of the Cuban war. He takes a motherly interest in the userpopulation of the Zamenhof. He extends credit to them and sees that they are left alone when that is what they need.

“Did you touch anything in the room?” Landsman says. 

Tenenboym says, “Only the cash and jewelry.” 

Landsman puts on his trousers and shoes and hitches up his suspenders. Then he and Tenenboym turn to look at the doorknob, where a necktie hangs, red with a fat maroon stripe, already knotted to save time. Landsman has eight hours to go until his next shift. Eight rat hours, sucking at his bottle, in his glass tank lined with wood shavings. Landsman sighs and goes for the tie. He slides it over his head and pushes up the knot to his collar. He puts on his jacket, feels for the wallet and shield in the breast pocket, pats the sholem he wears in a holster under his arm, a chopped Smith & Wesson Model 39.

“I hate to wake you, Detective,” Tenenboym says. “Only I noticed that you don’t really sleep.”

 “I sleep,” Landsman says. He picks up the shot glass that he is currently dating, a souvenir of the World’s Fair of 1977. “It’s just I do it in my underpants and shirt.” He lifts the glass and toasts the thirty years gone since the Sitka World’s Fair. A pinnacle of Jewish civilization in the north, people say, and who is he to argue? Meyer Landsman was fourteen that summer, and just discovering the glories of Jewish women, for whom 1977 must have been some kind of a pinnacle. “Sitting up in a chair.” He drains the glass. “Wearing a sholem.”

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 25, 1939 Fred Marcellino. Among all our writers this time, we have an illustrator. And what an illustrator he was. He did the Antheum cover of McCaffrey’s Dragonsong and several other Pern covers as well, along with Mark Helprin’s Winter’s Tale, Iain Banks’ The Wasp Factory and Rat Bradbury’s Death Is A Lonely Business to name but a few of the covers that he’s illustrated. (Died 2001.)
  • Born October 25, 1940 — Janet Fox. Author whose stories appeared in countless genre zines and anthologies between the Seventies and mid-Nineties.  Her long fiction, mostly the Scorpio Rising series, was done as Alex McDonough. She’s also known for the Scavenger’s Newsletter which featured a number of noted writers during its long including Linda Sherman, Jeff VanderMeer and Jim Lee.  (Died 2009.)
  • Born October 25, 1963 John Gregory Betancourt, 60. Writer best known most likely for his work In Zelazny’s Amber universe but who has written quite a bit of other franchise fiction including works in the Star TrekHerculesRobert Silverberg’s Time ToursDr. Bones and The New Adventures of Superman. Most of his original fiction was early in his career. He’s also edited in a number of magazines including Weird TalesAmazing StoriesH. P. Lovecraft’s Magazine of HorrorAdventure Tales and Cat Tales. He even co-edited with Anne McCaffrey, Serve It Forth: Cooking with Anne McCaffrey. His Wildpress Press has been nominated three times for World Fantasy Awards. 
  • Born October 25, 1969 Cecil Castellucci, 54. Canadian rock musician who performs under the name of Cecil Seaskull. I’m giving her a Birthday shout-out for two very different works, the first being The Year of the Beasts co-written with Nate Powell which used the Medusa myth as its story basis, and Tin Star, a romance tinged space opera set on a remote space station. All of work is YA in nature. 
  • Born October 25, 1971 Marko Kloos, 52. Author of two MilSF series, Frontlines and The Palladium Wards. His Lines of Departure was nominated for Hugo Award for Best Novel at Sasquan on a slate organized by the Sad Puppies. In reaction to this, Kloos withdrew the novel from consideration for the award. He was subsequently honored by George R. R. Martin for this decision. And that gets him Birthday Honors. Four of his books have been Dragon Awards nominees in the Best Military SF or Fantasy category.
  • Born October 25, 1971 Elif Safak, 52. Turkish writer of three genre novels, one written originally in Turkish (Mahrem), The Gaze in its English translation, and two written in English, The Architect’s Apprentice (which was translated into Turkish as Ustam ve Ben)  and 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World.
  • Born October 25, 1979 — Kristian Bruun, 44. Canadian actor best known for his long-running role as Donnie Hendrix on the Hugo- and Emmy-winning SF drama Orphan Black, where he was one of the main sources of (usually dark) comic relief. He also starred in the SF Rom-Com Red Rover opposite The Expanse regular Cara Gee, had minor recurring roles in A Handmaid’s Tale and Snowpiercer, and appeared in the Inuit SF film Slash/Back, among other genre roles. (Xtifr.)

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION AWARD. A $10,000 prize — “Penguin Random House launches high schoolers’ award to combat book bans”. The Guardian has details.

Publisher Penguin Random House has launched a new writing award in the US celebrating freedom of expression in response to a rise in book bans across the country.

The Freedom of Expression award invites applicants to write about one banned book that changed their life and why. The $10,000 (£8,168) prize will be awarded to a high-school student planning to attend university in 2024.

“In the midst of censorship efforts, it’s crucial that we protect and celebrate freedom of expression, especially for young people whose voices we need and want to lift up now more than ever,” said Claire von Schilling, director of corporate communications and social responsibility at Penguin Random House.

Book bans in US public schools increased by 33% over the last school year according to a September report by Pen America. It found that the authors whose books were targeted were most frequently women, people of colour and LGBTQ+ individuals.

Some of the books banned in more than 20 districts include The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison, A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J MaasGender Queer: A Memoir by Maia Kobabe and The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. This report followed an American Library Association study which found that attempts to censor materials in school, academic and public libraries reached a record high in the first eight months of 2023….

(13) MEDIEVAL ROAD TRIPPER. “Chaucer goes digital as British Library makes works available online” reports the Guardian.

The entire collection of Geoffrey Chaucer’s works held by the British Library is being made available in digital format after the completion of a two and a half year project to upload 25,000 images of the often elaborately illustrated medieval manuscripts.

In a “major milestone” for the library, which holds the world’s largest surviving collection of Chaucer, it is hoped the digital platform will enable new research into the 14th-century poet, courtier, soldier, diplomat, and MP who is most famous for his Middle English epic, The Canterbury Tales.

Chaucer, who died in about 1400, was proclaimed by his contemporary poet Thomas Hoccleve as the “firste fyndere of our fair language” and is widely regarded as the father of English poetry. He was, in essence, the first poet laureate, being rewarded by Edward III with a gallon of wine daily for an unspecified task, thought to be for poetic work or works. He was also the first to be buried in what became Poets’ Corner in Westminster Abbey.

The British Library holds more than 60 items related to his works and life, and has now digitised them all….

(14) MST3K NEEDS $$$. “Mystery Science Theater 3K readies the Satellite Of Love for season 14” says AV Club. (The fundraiser link is here.)

Mystery Science Theater 3000, the little puppet-based movie commentary show that could, turns 35 this year (not counting the KTMA years), and The Mads are preparing another round of underseen crappy movies for our heroes to laugh at. But, aside from Tom Servo’s inevitable but unannounced presidential campaign next year, the Gigzmoplex has more surprises in store.

Earlier today, host and creator Joel Hodgson announced that financing for season 14 has begun. As anyone clicking on an article about MST3K knows by now, the show is a crowdfunded endeavor these days, a business decision that has paid dividends for MSTies. Following two revival seasons on Netflix, Mystery Science Theater took its future into its own hands and launched the Gizmoplex, an online viewing and community hub that hosted the crowdfunded season 13, which raised a staggering $6.5 million. What can we say? People really like Crow….

(15) IT’S LIFE JIM. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] 30 years ago research was published that a space probe detected life on a planet and there were also the signs of a technological civilization!

The journal Nature has just looked back on this groundbreaking experiment in an editorial and also an essay.

One of the researchers’ lead scientists was the legendary Carl Sagan, and the space probe that detected the life and techno-signs was NASA’s 1989-launched Galileo that, having been taken into Earth orbit by the space shuttle Challenger, was heading off to Jupiter. However, to get there it would need gravitational assists from both Venus and the Earth to acrue the necessary velocity to get to Jupiter in 1995.

As it was getting its gravitational assists from the Solar system’s inner planets, it passed 960 kilometres of Earth and Carl Sagan convinced NASA to use the probe’s instruments to look for signs of life on Earth.

The probe detected both methane and oxygen in the Earth’s atmospheres, a chemical mix that was in disequilibrium due to life. It also detected, in the red part of the spectrum, absorption characteristics of oxygenic photosynthesis. Finally, it detected modulated radio signals.

The reason this research is worth remembering today is that though 30 years ago no exoplanet had yet been discovered; today we have over 5,500 and counting. Today, we are also about to get data from the James Webb Space Telescope on the atmospheric composition of some of these exoplanets and it may be one of more exhibits disequilibrium.

As Nature notes, at the time the journal’s editors were in two minds as to whether to publish Sagan’s research – after all, we already knew that there was life on Earth. However, as a proof-of-capability and as a controlled experiment, the Sagan team’s work underpins that which will inform the forthcoming James Webb Space Telescope data.

Meanwhile Galileo went on to discover a beneath-the-ice ocean on Jupiter’s moon Europa. And now we have ESA’s Jupiter and Icy Moons Explorer (JUICE) mission heading out to Jupiter to see – among other things – what chemicals there are on Europa and whether these might be signs of life in Europa

[Thanks to Ersatz Culture, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Mark Roth-Whitworth, Lise Andreasen, Kevin Standlee, Jennifer Hawthorne, Steven French, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 10/3/23 Midnight At The Oasis

(1) My mother’s mental state was actually back to about normal today. And putting together even this short Scroll will do wonders for mine.

(2) AFROPANTHEOLOGY. Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki & Joshua Uchenna Omenga provide an “Introduction to Afropantheology” at Public Books.

African cosmologies recognize two spheres of existence—the physical and the spiritual—between which there is an inseparable link, as well as constant interactions. Each sphere of existence is connected to the other: the living to the dead, the born to the unborn, humans to the deities. “A community develops its mode of relating to its ancestors and the gods, harmonizing the interconnectedness of everything,” according to Dr. K. C. Nweke. “Each community has its spiritual exclusiveness through its relatedness to the ancestors in the underworld who oversee the ephemeral world.”1

Today, many works of African fiction reflecting African cosmology are themselves fictional reflections of these African realities of life. Yet this can make it easy to mislabel such literary fiction as mere fantasy.

The genre of fantasy (part of the broader category of speculative fiction) can simply mean imaginative fictions involving outlandish characters, magical elements, and often set in created worlds. It is often a genre of escapist literature, in which readers must suspend their belief to enjoy. As such, “fantasy” can be an ill-fitting term, when describing many literary works of similar rendering from the African continent. In response, a new term was conceived to capture this gamut of African literary works, which, though having fantasy elements, are additionally imbued with the African spiritual realities: Afropantheology….

(3) ALEX SCHOMBURG ART AUCTION ON OCTOBER 6. Susan Schomburg sends word that artwork by her grandpa, Alex Schomburg, will be auctioning through Heritage this Friday, October 6. Here is a search link to his lots: Search: Alex Schomburg.

And here is a link to his original art for “World at Bay”.

 (4) MY INDIANA BAT HOME. “Your FIRST LOOK at America’s Only Permanent BATMAN ’66 MUSEUM” at 13th Dimension. (The museum’s own website is here: Fiberglass Freaks Batman Museum.)

October will be a helluva month for Batman ’66 fans: It will feature the opening of the only permanent museum dedicated to the 1966 Batman TV show.

The Batman Museum in Logansport, Indiana — which is reminiscent of the popular Hollywood Museum exhibit from several years ago — will be operated by Fiberglass Freaks, Mark Racop’s company that builds the only officially licensed full-scale Batmobile replicas.

But the museum will be more than just about the greatest version of Batman’s ride — it will feature displays of costumes, real and replica; set reconstructions; memorabilia; a theater; props; other vehicles; a gift shop; and more.

… Fiberglass Freaks’ Batman Museum is located at 525 East Market Street, Logansport, Indiana, 46947;

Hours will be 1 p.m.-7 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday; 1 p.m. 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday; closed Sunday and Monday.

(5) ADS SUBTRACT. Cory Doctorow takes readers through “Google’s enshittification memos” at Pluralistic.

…When I think about this enshittification curve, I often think of Google, a company that had its users’ backs for years, which created a genuinely innovative search engine that worked so well it seemed like *magic, a company whose employees often had their pick of jobs, but chose the “don’t be evil” gig because that mattered to them.

People make fun of that “don’t be evil” motto, but if your key employees took the gig because they didn’t want to be evil, and then you ask them to be evil, they might just quit. Hell, they might make a stink on the way out the door, too…

Google is a company whose founders started out by publishing a scientific paper describing their search methodology, in which they said, “Oh, and by the way, ads will inevitably turn your search engine into a pile of shit, so we’re gonna stay the fuck away from them”:

http://infolab.stanford.edu/pub/papers/google.pdf

Those same founders retained a controlling interest in the company after it went IPO, explaining to investors that they were going to run the business without having their elbows jostled by shortsighted Wall Street assholes, so they could keep it from turning into a pile of shit:

https://abc.xyz/investor/founders-letters/ipo-letter/

And yet, it’s turned into a pile of shit. Google search is so bad you might as well ask Jeeves. The company’s big plan to fix it? Replace links to webpages with florid paragraphs of chatbot nonsense filled with a supremely confident lies,,,

How did the company get this bad? In part, this is the “curse of bigness.” The company can’t grow by attracting new users. When you have 90%+ of the market, there are no new customers to sign up. Hypothetically, they could grow by going into new lines of business, but Google is incapable of making a successful product in-house and also kills most of the products it buys from other, more innovative companies…

(6) CAN*CON COULD BE FOR YOU. Derek Künsken recommends:

If you are a writer in some far off place without access to other writers, editors, agents (like my early career), I really recommend you check out the virtual program of

@CanConSF

that will run 14 and 15 October. It’s got a lot for aspiring and leveling-up writers!

CanCon registration is at their website here.

(7) WORD POWER. Steve Erikson did a five part essay on “The Language of Magic and the Magic of Language” on Facebook.

…Oxford Dictionary:

mag·ic

/ˈmajik/

noun

1. the power of apparently influencing the course of events by using mysterious or supernatural forces.

“suddenly, as if by magic, the doors start to open”

Okay, let’s look at this definition. There are three key words here: ‘influencing,’ ‘mysterious’ and ‘supernatural.’ Now, I’m not going to back up still further to define ‘mysterious’ or ‘supernatural,’ and if ‘influencing’ is in any way baffling, I can’t help you.

Anthropology examines ‘magic’ in cultures with an emphasis on the ‘influencing’ aspects, specifically in terms of the material component. Why? Because that is the only component of ‘magic’ that can be explored in a pseudo-scientific sense. The rest is metaphysical. Ethnology can add a narrative element, of course, when, for example, shamans explain stuff to the ethnologist, who in turn records the details. Those explanations may be accurate or entirely made up. They can be well-established (tradition) or invented on the fly. Even shamans can have a sense of humour.

All human cultures possess some ideation of magic, of the miraculous and the unseen. I can’t think of a single one that doesn’t. Large elements of even the Western world hold to these notions in some iteration, whether blanketed under ‘religion,’ ‘faith’ or ‘spiritualism.’ Atheism rejects the whole shebang in favour of a strictly mechanistic universe, but atheism is a minority position dwelling within a larger, global culture of belief.

No, really, it is. …

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 3, 1874 Charles Middleton. He is no doubt best remembered for his role as the Emperor Ming the Merciless in the three Flash Gordon serials made between 1936 and 1940 which is only genre production he appeared in save three chapters of a Forties Batman serial in which he played Ken Colton. (Died 1949.)
  • Born October 3, 1931 Ray Nelson. SF writer best known for his short story “Eight O’Clock in the Morning” which was the basis of John Carpenter’s They Live.  He later collaborated with Philip K. Dick on The Ganymede Takeover. In the 1940s Nelson appropriated the propeller beanie as a symbol of science fiction fandom. His fannish cartoons were recognized with the Rotsler Award in 2003. He was inducted to the First Fandom Hall of Fame in 2019. (Died 2022.)
  • Born October 3, 1933 Norman Adams. The SF Encyclopaedia says genre wise that “Adams may be best known for his cover for the first edition of Larry’s Niven’s World of Ptavvs” on Ballantine Books in 1966.  I must say having looked at his ISFDB listings that their assessment is absolutely right. (Died 2014.)
  • Born October 3, 1935 Madlyn Rhue. She on Trek’s “Space Seed” as Lt. Marla McGivers, Khan Noonien Singh’s (Ricardo Montalbán) love interest. Other genre appearances included being on the original Fantasy Island as Lillie Langtry in “Legends,” and Maria in the “Firefall” episode of Kolchak: The Night. (Died 2003.)
  • Born October 3, 1944 Katharine Kerr, 79. Ok I’m going to confess that I’ve not read her Deverry series so please tell me how they are. Usually I do read such Celtic tinged series so I don’t know how I missed them. Her Polar City SF mystery novels (second written with Kate Daniel) sound fascinating. Only the first, Polar City Blues, is available from the usual suspects.
  • Born October 3, 1964 Clive Owen, 59. First role I saw him in was the title role of Stephen Crane in the Chancer series. Not genre, but fascinating none the less. He’s been King Arthur in film of the same name where Keira Knightley was Guinevere. He’s also was in Sin City as Dwight McCarthy, and in The Pink Panther (though weirdly uncredited) as Nigel Boswell/Agent 006. I’ll also single him out for being Commander Arun Filitt in Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets.
  • Born October 3, 1973 Lena Headey, 50. Many of you will know her as Cersei Lannister on Game of Thrones, but I liked her sociopathic Madeline “Ma-Ma” Madrigal on Dredd better.  She was also Angelika in The Brothers Grimm, a film I’m sure I’ve seen but remember nothing about. 
  • Born October 3, 1988 Alicia Vikander, 35. She was Ava, an artificial intelligence, in Ex Machina, spooky film it was. Several years later, she starred as Lara Croft in the rebooted Tomb Raider. In The Man from U.N.C.L.E., she plays Gaby Teller. Finally she’s The Lady / Esel in The Green Knight, a retelling of the story of Sir Gawain.  

(9) DUBAI YANKS THE WELCOME MAT OUT FROM UNDER. The International Association of Library Associations and Institutions announced today that “Invitation to host IFLA WLIC 2024 in Dubai withdrawn”. Bruce Arthurs says, “This reminded me of some of the travails past & ongoing about SF/F cons being held in morally objectionable countries. The big difference here is that it was the host city itself that yanked the rug out, rather than the conference committee.”

IFLA has been informed of the decision to withdraw the invitation to hold the 2024 World Library and Information Congress in Dubai.

The decision was communicated to us by the Emirates Library and Information Association who led the bid to support the development of the field and wider region.

The Association has underlined its ongoing commitment to IFLA, and keenness to find other ways to bring librarians from the country and region closer to the global library field. IFLA is grateful to the Association for the work that it has done, and firmly believes that this provides a strong basis for building engagement in other ways going forwards.

Acknowledging the reservations expressed about holding the Congress in Dubai, we recognise the disappointment that many in the region and beyond will feel. IFLA remains committed to finding ways to engage with and support the librarians in MENA and the surrounding regions who were looking forward to experiencing the vibrancy of a World Library and Information Congress. Continuing our work in this area is vital if we are to be not just an international, but a truly global Federation.

As Dubai was the only viable bid, there will now not be a World Library and Information Conference in 2024.

(10) CHENGDU WORLDCON UPDATE. [By Ersatz Culture.]

  • Worldcon COVID preparations

The Health Bureau of the Pidu District of Chengdu carried out a number of checks and inspections in August and September, and these will continue in the run up to the con.

Photo of a meeting held September 25th, the first four characters on the LED display read “Science Fiction Conference”.  Source: https://weibo.com/3339983832/Nl50S16Up

Photo of what I assume is a ventilation check at the con venue.  Source: here (presumably taken from elsewhere, but I’ve not been able to track it down.)

On September 26th, local media in Sichuan province published an interview (in Chinese) with Ben Yalow.  Here is an extract via Google Translate:

Reporter: What do you think of Chengdu’s bid and preparation process?

Ben Yalow: I first heard about the Chengdu bid when I met a group of Chinese fans at the World Science Fiction Convention in Dublin 2019. It’s always fun to meet a new fan base. This group of people in the Chengdu circle have worked hard to present a successful World Science Fiction Convention, and now things are going smoothly.

  • Zhejiang University SF club weekly newsletter

Both of the above stories came from the Zhejiang University SF club newsletter, edited by File 770 commenter Zimozi Natsuco.  Besides items about the Chengdu Worldcon, there are lots of items about other SF activities in China and other parts of the world, and is well worth checking out (via Google Translate or similar tools) if that interests you.  NB: the current issue namechecks the Chengdu coverage that has been published here on File 770, so this is perhaps a biased opinion…

The current issue can be found here, and a list of earlier issues here

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Ersatz Culture, John King Tarpinian, Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki, Rob Thornton, Susan Schomburg, Bruce D. Arthurs, Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day OGH.]

Pixel Scroll 9/30/23 Pixels Are Those Which, When You Stop Believing In Them, Don’t Scroll Away

(1) MEDICAL UPDATE. Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki told Facebook readers he had a health emergency this week:  

Was very sick day before yesterday. Had a health emergency, was fighting for my life all the previous night and that morning after being checked into the accident and emergency wards. Near died several times. Been discharged from the hospital now and I am on the mend. Had to incur several expenses in the process though. So I am in need of and welcome any assistance, towards sorting out my medical bills and other expenses I needed to survive the ordeal, towards the tune of about $500 dollars. If you want to chip, you can send something to this Paypal address and it’ll get to me. [email protected]

(2) RECORDS BREAK UNDER THE HAMMER. “Two Books Break Book Sales Records At Christie’s Auction — Here Are The Most Expensive Books Ever Sold” reports Forbes.

A pair of books by Agatha Christie and Arthur Conan Doyle once owned by English musician Charlie Watts broke individual records for the beloved authors at Christie’s auction house in London Thursday, months after an 800-year-old copy of the Bible earned the title of the most expensive book ever sold.

The Thirteen Problems by Agatha Christie sold for $63,968, breaking her personal record of a $50,641 copy of The ABC Murders, which sold two years ago.

The $226,555 sale of The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle on Thursday set a new world auction record for a printed book by the renowned Sherlock Holmes creator, previously set at $201,600 when a copy of The Sign of Four sold in 2022. …

(3) MUSEUM PIECE. “The Oldest Living Torrent Is 20 Years Old”Hackaday blows out the candles.

Twenty years ago, in a world dominated by dial-up connections and a fledgling World Wide Web, a group of New Zealand friends embarked on a journey. Their mission? To bring to life a Matrix fan film shot on a shoestring budget. The result was The Fanimatrix, a 16-minute amateur film just popular enough to have its own Wikipedia page.

As reported by TorrentFreak, the humble film would unknowingly become a crucial part of torrent history. It now stands as the world’s oldest active torrent, with an uptime now spanning a full 20 years. It has become a symbol of how peer-to-peer technology democratized distribution in a fast-changing world.

In the early 2000s, sharing large files across the internet was a mindbogglingly difficult problem to solve. In the Southern Hemisphere in particular, home internet connections were often 56 kbit dialup modems at best. Most email services limited attachments to 2 MB at most. Services like MegaUpload weren’t on the scene yet, and platforms like YouTube and Facebook were yet to materialize. 

(4) “HE DISTINCTLTY SAID ‘TO BLAVE’…” “LIAR!” “Patrick Stewart Shares the ‘Original’ Ending to Picard, Hopes for a Follow-up Film” at IGN. Beware spoilers.

…Stewart revealed that as the years passed since his appearance in Star Trek: Nemesis in 2002, the lines between the actor and Picard had become blurred.

“If I have found true love, shouldn’t he?” he asked.

Stewart married his wife, Sunny Ozell, back in 2013, and had since decided it was time for Picard to find love, too. The final scene they came up with would have confirmed this… but it still left a little to the imagination.

“The writers came up with a lovely scene,” he revealed. “It is dusk at Jean-Luc’s vineyard. His back is to us as he takes in the view, his dog at his side. Then, off-screen, a woman’s loving voice is heard: ‘Jean-Luc? Supper’s ready!’”

Who was that voice? That never would have been confirmed. However, Stewart’s real wife Sunny would have made her Star Trek debut.

(5) OBAMA’S FEEDBACK TO FILMMAKER. Variety tells movie fans that “Barack Obama Sent Script Notes to Sam Esmail for ‘Leave the World Behind’”.

Netflix’s upcoming disaster movie “Leave the World Behind,” based on the 2020 novel of the same name by Rumaan Alam, marks the first fictional movie from Barack and Michelle Obama’s Higher Ground Productions company. Barack included the novel on his 2021 summer reading list and was personally invested in perfecting the film adaptation, so much so that he sent script notes to writer-director Sam Esmail (best known as the creator of “Mr. Robot” and “Homecoming”).

“Leave the World Behind” stars Julia Roberts and Ethan Hawke as a couple vacationing in Long Island when a world-threatening disaster takes place. Mahershala Ali plays the owner of the home the couple is renting. The owner shows up seeking refugee from the disaster with his daughter (Myha’la Herrold), forcing the two families to trust each other as the world potentially comes to an end.

“In the original drafts of the script, I definitely pushed things a lot farther than they were in the film, and President Obama, having the experience he does have, was able to ground me a little bit on how things might unfold in reality,” Esmail recently told Vanity Fair about the script notes he received from the former President. “I am writing what I think is fiction, for the most part, I’m trying to keep it as true to life as possible, but I’m exaggerating and dramatizing. And to hear an ex-president say you’re off by a few details…I thought I was off by a lot! The fact that he said that scared the fuck out of me.”

Per Vanity Fair: “The filmmaker was more reassured when the Obamas suggested some of his potential plot points were too bleak or unlikely. Most of the former commander in chief’s notes, however, stemmed from what he’d observed about human nature, particularly the way fissures form between people who might otherwise find common cause.”…

(6) BOOK-INSPIRED KIDS SPACE. “Publisher L’École des Loisirs Opens New ‘House of Stories’ for Kids” at Publishing Perspectives.

The independent L’École des Loisirs, one of the largest children’s publishers in the country, is starting off the school year with a new space called La Maison des Histoires (House of Stories) in which children seven and younger can discover and consolidate their knowledge of L’École des Loisirs’ books.

The 58-year-old publishing house owns Chantelivre, a children’s bookshop nestled among luxury boutiques in Paris’ 6th arrondissement. Last winter, the 400-square-meter shop (4,305 square feet) underwent a renovation which included installing the 150-square-meter (1,614 square feet) Maison des Histoires just behind the bookshop in a former storage area. Its soft launch was held in May, before it closed for the summer holidays.

La Maison des Histoires has nine themed spaces, all based on books published by L’École des Loisirs. Co-founder and associate director Camille Kiejman came up with the idea, inspired by museums she’d see dedicated to children’s books in Nordic markets, such as Junibacken in Stockholm.

(7) ADDED TO THE OFFICIAL ROBERT BLOCH WEBSITE. “A Conversation with Robert Bloch” is the latest addition to the Bloch tribute website.

Happy to present excerpts (with kind permission) from David J. Schow’s 1991 interview with Bloch at the first World Horror Convention in 1991.This interview first appeared in Cemetery Dance magazine, #31.

DJS: How long have you been going to these things, Bob?

BOB: 1946 was the first year; and I arrived after Ackerman left. That was the PacifiCon, held in Los Angeles—kicking and screaming—and it had a small attendance, as I recall, but that attendance included A.E. Van Vogt, Leigh Brackett, Ray Bradbury, and others too humorous to mention.

FORREST J ACKERMAN (from audience): Remember the story you told, Bob, about the “three great sales” that made it possible for you to come to the convention?

BOB: Oh, yes—my typewriter, my hat, and my overcoat. That was also the first convention I traveled to, and from then on, I was hooked. I discovered it was a very practical thing to go from convention to convention, because it’s difficult to hit a moving target….

(8) MICHAEL F. FLYNN (1947-2023). Author Michael F. Flynn’s daughter Sara announced on Facebook that he died on September 30.

I’m sorry to tell you that my father passed away this morning. He was sleeping peacefully in the childhood home that he loved, the home his father built. We will share more details when we have them. Thank you.

He was honored with the Robert A. Heinlein Award for his career work in 2003. His short story “House of Dreams” won the 1998 Theodore Sturgeon Award, while his book In the Country of the Blind won the 1991 Compton Crook Award for best first novel and a 1991 Prometheus Award.

Flynn’s alternate history story “Quaestiones Super Caelo et Mundo ”  picked up the 2008 Sidewise Award – Short Form.  Although he never won a Hugo, one of his seven nominees was the novel Eifelheim which in Japanese translation received a 2011 Seiun Award.

His fame rests on all these works, however, for personal reasons I am partial to the book he co-authored with Niven and Pournelle, Fallen Angels, another of his Seiun Award winners (1998), which Tuckerized or otherwise based its characters on about 130 fans. You can guess who one of those fans was…

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 30, 1924 Elinor Busby, 99. In 1960, she became the first woman to win a Hugo Award for Best Fanzine editing at Pittcon for Cry of the Nameless along with F. M. Busby, Burnett Toskey and Wally Weber. She was awarded a Fan Activity Achievement Award for fan achievements, presented at Corflu in 2013. She was on the committee of Seacon. Busby is noted in Heinlein’s Friday, and her husband is likewise in The Cat Who Walks Through Walls
  • Born September 30, 1933 Jonathan Gash, 90.  Look I loved the Lovejoy series, both the novels themselves and the series starring Ian McShane but I’ll be damned if I can figure out how ISFDB lists them as being genre. Him being an antiques divvy didn’t make it fantasy, does it? He did write The Year of the Woman which is a fantasy with a ghost as a central figure in it.
  • Born September 30, 1946 Dan O’Bannon. Screenwriter, director, visual effects supervisor, and actor.  He wrote the Alien script, directed The Return of the Living Dead, provided special computer effects on Star Wars, writer of two segments of Heavy MetalSoft Landing and B-17, co-writer with Ronald Shusett and  Gary Goldman of the first Total Recall. That’s not complete listing by any stretch! (Died 2009.)
  • Born September 30, 1947 Michael B. Wagner. Though best remembered for his work on Hill Street Blues and deservedly so, he’s co-created with Isaac Asimov, produced and wrote several episodes for the one-season ABC series Probe. He provided the story for two episodes of Next Generation, “Bobby Trap” and “Evolution” and wrote another, “Survivor”. (Died 1992.)
  • Born September 30, 1950 Laura Esquivel, 73. Mexican author of Como agua para chocolateLike Water for Chocolate in English. Magic realism and cooking with more than a small soupçon of eroticism. Seriously the film is amazing as is the book. ISFDB says she’s also written La ley del amor (The Law of Love) which I’ve not read. 
  • Born September 30, 1951 — Simon Hawke, 72. His first major SF series was Timewars which I need not tell you what it’s about. He’s since written a lot of fiction off media properties including off Battlestar GalacticaFriday the 13th, Star Trek, Predator 2 and Dungeons & DragonsHe does have a mystery series, Shakespeare & Smythe, involving, well, it’s obvious, isn’t it?
  • Born September 30, 1953 S. M. Stirling, 70. My favorite work by him is The Peshawar Lancers. The audiobook version is quite stellar. Other than that, I’ll admit that I’ve not read deep on him beyond In the Courts of the Crimson Kings and The Sky Prople.
  • Born September 30, 1960 Nicola Griffith, 63. Writer, Essayist and Teacher. Her first novel was Ammonite which won the Tiptree and Lambda Awards and was a finalist for the Clarke and BSFA Awards, followed by The Blue PlaceStay, and Always, which are linked novels in the Ammonite universe featuring the character Aud Torvingen. In total, SFE has won the Washington State Book Award, Nebula Award, James Tiptree, Jr. Award, World Fantasy Award and six Lambda Literary Awards. Her novel Slow River won Nebula and Lambda Awards. With Stephen Pagel, she has edited three Bending the Landscape anthologies in each of the three genres FantasyScience Fiction, and Horror, the first of which won a World Fantasy Award. She latest novel is Spear which just came out. She was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in March 1993. She lives with her wife, author Kelley Eskridge, in Seattle.
  • Born September 30, 1972 Sheree Renée Thomas, 51. Writer, Shotgun Lullabies: Stories & Poems and Sleeping Under the Tree of Life; Editor, Dark Matter: A Century of Speculative Fiction from the African Diaspora which won a World Fantasy Award, and Dark Matter: Reading the Bones which also won a World Fantasy Award. She’s also written a variety of poems and essays including “Dear Octavia, Octavia E. Butler, Ms. Butler, Mother of Changes”. In 2020, Thomas was named editor of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

(11) OFFBEAT HEROES AND VILLAINS. “DC Announces New Visual Encyclopedia With Foreword By James Gunn”Comicbook.com has details.

From his work on The Suicide Squad and Peacemaker to his current job co-running DC StudiosJames Gunn has helped highlight some of the weirdest and best characters of DC’s comic canon. As Gunn announced in a tweet on Tuesday, he will play a new role in spotlighting the DCU’s heroes and villains with the help of a new official book. The book, titled Strange and Unsung All-Stars of the DC Multiverse: A Visual Encyclopedia, will be a visual encyclopedia written by Nubia and the Amazons and Wakanda comic writer Stephanie Williams. The book will also feature a foreword by Gunn himself, and is now available to preorder ahead of a November 7th release date.

“Many know I have a special fondness for the wilder corners of DC comics – the forgotten or outlandish characters who I grew up laughing with or at but who in every case fired up my imagination & my love of outcasts & oddballs,” Gunn’s tweet reads. “Now there’s finally a book for folks like me (yes, including a forward BY me), 240 pages of guilty goodness, with Arm-Fall Off Boy, Colonel Computron, the Mod Gorilla Boss, and so, so many more.”

(12) FREE ONLINE GARY PHILLIPS Q&A. Space Cowboy Books of Joshua Tree, CA will host an “Online Reading & Interview with Gary Phillips” on Tuesday October 10 at 6:00 p.m. Pacific.

Award-winning author, screenwriter, and editor Gary Phillips gathers his most thrilling, outlandish, and madcap pulp fiction in an 17-story collection that straddles the line between bizarro, science fiction, noir, and superhero classics. Aztec vampires, astral projecting killers, oxygen stealing bombs, undercover space rangers, aliens occupying Los Angeles, right wing specters haunting the ’hood, masked vigilantes and mad scientists in their underground lairs plotting world domination populate the stories in this rip-snorting collection. In these pages grindhouse melds with blaxploitation along with strong doses of B movie hardcore drive-in fare. Phillips, editor of the Anthony Award-winning The Obama Inheritance: Fifteen Stories of Conspiracy Noir, and author of One-Shot Harry, and Matthew Henson and the Ice Temple of Harlem, said this about pulp. “The most common definition of pulp is it’s fast-paced, a story containing out there characters and a wild plot. There is that. But certainly, as we’ve now arrived at the era of retro-pulp, these stories have elements of characterization…not just action but a glimpse behind the steely eyes of these doers of incredible deeds.” As an added bonus, Phillips resurrects Phantasmo, a Golden Age comics character created by Black artist-writer E.C. Stoner in an all-new outing of ethereal doings.

Get your copy of The Unvarnished here.

Register for free here.

(13) HIGH FIDELITY. “Police Showed Up During ‘Saw X’ Editing After Neighbors Reported ‘Someone’s Being Tortured to Death in Here’: ‘I’m Just Working on a Movie!’” at Variety.

Just how grisly is one “Saw X” scene? Apparently enough to get the cops called on the film’s editor, Steve Forn. In an interview with NME, director Kevin Greutert revealed that police showed up to Forn’s editing suite in North Hollywood after neighbors reported noises of someone being tortured to death. Forn was in the middle of editing a scene depicting the “eye vacuum trap,” in which a character must escape Jigsaw’s game or lose his eyesight. A lot of screaming ensues.

“There was a knock at the door,” Greutert said. “We have the doorbell [camera] video of the police walking up, [Forn answering the door] and the police saying, ‘The neighbors [have been] calling and saying someone’s being tortured to death in here.’ And he was like, ‘Actually, I’m just working on a movie…You can come in and see it if you want?’”

“The cops started laughing!” the director continued. “They said, ‘We want to but, you know, you’re all right.’ It must have been a pretty realistic performance! It’s a pretty funny story…Plus Steve is such a mild mannered guy. I can only imagine the look on his face when he realized what was happening!”

Mike Kennedy couldn’t decide which headline he liked best. Here are the other candidates:

  • Sound Scares
  • Audible Aggravation
  • Noise Complaint 
  • Noisy Neighbor 
  • Saw Sound
  • Sawing Legs
  • Torture Tones
  • Eyes on the Prise

(14) BABYLON THREE TWENTY-TWO. “3,700-year-old Babylonian tablet is world’s first trigonometry table”Upworthy explains.

…Most historians have credited the Greeks with creating the study of triangles’ sides and angles, but this tablet presents indisputable evidence that the Babylonians were using the technique 1,500 years before the Greeks ever were.

Mansfield and his team are, understandably, incredibly proud. What they discovered is that the tablet is actually an ancient trigonometry table.

Mansfield said:

“The huge mystery, until now, was its purpose – why the ancient scribes carried out the complex task of generating and sorting the numbers on the tablet. Our research reveals that Plimpton 322 describes the shapes of right-angle triangles using a novel kind of trigonometry based on ratios, not angles and circles. It is a fascinating mathematical work that demonstrates undoubted genius.”…

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Isaac Arthur’s latest has a titular Heinlein riff… “Have Space Suit – Will Travel”.

Space is often called the final frontier, a place of billions and billions of worlds awaiting explorers and pioneers. But what will those journeys be like, and what gear will people need for them, and perhaps most importantly of all, what sort of people will make those travels?

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

Pixel Scroll 9/12/23 For Us, the Scrolling

(1) MICHAEL CHABON SUES META OVER AI COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT. At The Hollywood Reporter:“Meta, OpenAI Class Action Lawsuit: Novel Authors Claim Infringement”.

Michael Chabon and other decorated writers of books and screenplays sued Meta on Tuesday in California federal court in a lawsuit accusing the company of copyright infringement for harvesting mass quantities of books across the web, which were then used to produce infringing works that allegedly violate their copyrights. OpenAI was sued on Sept. 8 in an identical class action alleging the firms “benefit commercially and profit handsomely from their unauthorized and illegal” collection of the authors’ books. They seek a court order that would require the companies to destroy AI systems that were trained on copyright-protected works.

…As evidence that AI systems were fed authors’ books, the suit points to ChatGPT generating summaries and in-depth analyses of the themes in the novels when prompted. It says that’s “only possible if the underlying GPT model was trained using” their works.

“If ChatGPT is prompted to generate a writing in the style of a certain author, GPT would generate content based on patterns and connections it learned from analysis of that author’s work within its training dataset,” states the complaint, which largely borrows from the suit filed by [Paul] Tremblay.

And because the large language models can’t operate without the information extracted from the copyright-protected material, the answers that ChatGPT produces are “themselves infringing derivative works,” the lawsuit against Meta says….

(2) CHENGDU PROGRAM PARTICIPANTS. File 770 asked Chengdu Worldcon committee member Joe Yao for a list of the people who have been added as Worldcon guests since the recent offer of help went out. No names were provided, however, Yao made this statement:

We kept inviting guests from both China and abroad, and now we have about 500 guests confirmed to come. They will attend some key events including the opening ceremony, Hugo ceremony and the closing ceremony, and they will also participate in programs as either guests or speakers. My team is working closely with the overseas team on programs and we have drafted a mastersheet of the programs. It will be confirmed and released soon.

(3) BARRIERS TO TRAVEL. Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki commented on Facebook about the challenges of getting a visa.

Nigerian passport & visa issues. Recently found out the Italian visa app has more requirements than US. Then I thought maybe China’s. Someone just told me that’s harder than the US’s. Germany might not give you visa even on their chancellor’s request. Is there any one that’s easy (possible) for a Nigerian?

When I was in the US, anytime Africans saw I was on a b1-b2 visa they used to be shocked out of their skulls. Like you find someone with the complete infinity gauntlet and stones. So for all these to be harder, Lol.

It’s really something to be a Nigerian that isn’t chained down and utterly grounded. Meanwhile what it took to get my US visa & the price I had to and still pay for it gifted me PTSD and damage I might never be able to afford treatment for. But hey, na me wan dream. Lol

(4) NASFIC MINUTES AVAILABLE. [Item by Kevin Standlee.] The minutes of the NASFiC WSFS Business Meeting at Pemmi-Con are now published on the WSFS Rules page here. (Scroll down to “MINUTES of the 2023 WSFS Business Meeting of the 15th NASFiC”.)

(5) ABRAHAM AND FRANCK Q&A. Award-winning sci-fi writers Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck talk with Meghna Chakrabarti about the world they created in The Expanse and what they’re working on next. “’The Expanse’ authors on ‘the importance of complicating people’” at WBUR.

(6) INTERNET ARCHIVE APPEALS TO HIGHER COURT. “Internet Archive Files Appeal in Copyright Infringement Case”Publishers Weekly has details.

As expected, the Internet Archive this week submitted its appeal in Hachette v. Internet Archive, the closely watched copyright case involving the scanning and digital lending of library books.

In a brief notice filed with the court, IA lawyers are seeking review by the Second Circuit court of appeals in New York of the “August 11, 2023 Judgment and Permanent Injunction; the March 24, 2023 Opinion and Order Granting Plaintiffs’ Motion for Summary Judgment and Denying Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment; and from any and all orders, rulings, findings, and/or conclusions adverse to Defendant Internet Archive.”

The notice of appeal comes right at the 30-day deadline—a month to the day after judge John G. Koeltl approved and entered a negotiated consent judgment in the case which declared the IA’s scanning and lending program to be copyright infringement, as well as a permanent injunction that, among its provisions, bars the IA from lending unauthorized scans of the plaintiffs’ in-copyright, commercially available books that are available in digital editions.

“As we stated when the decision was handed down in March, we believe the lower court made errors in facts and law, so we are fighting on in the face of great challenges,” reads a statement announcing the appeal on the Internet Archive website. “We know this won’t be easy, but it’s a necessary fight if we want library collections to survive in the digital age.”…

(7) GARETH EDWARDS VIRTUAL CONVERSATION. MIT Technology Review will hold an online event “Humanity and AI: A conversation with the director of ‘The Creator’” at LinkedIn on Thursday, September 14, 2023, at 2:30 p.m. Eastern. Appears that LinkedIn registration is required.

As many today try to imagine the future of our world with artificial intelligence, MIT Technology Review’s senior editor of AI, Melissa Heikkilä, speaks with Gareth Edwards, director of the upcoming sci-fi epic “The Creator,” about the current state of AI and the pitfalls and possibilities ahead as this technology marches toward sentience. The film, releasing September 29th and starring John David Washington and Gemma Chan, imagines a futuristic world where humans and AI are at war and fundamentally explores humanity’s relationship with AI, what it means to be human, and what it means to be alive.

(8) THE HEINLEIN SOCIETY. These are the new Officers for The Heinlein Society:

The Board of the Society voted [September 11] for its new leadership & Executive Committee effective immediately:

  • President & Chairman: Ken Walters
  • Vice President: Walt Boyes
  • Treasurer: Geo Rule
  • Secretary: Betsey Wilcox

Congratulations to all of them! 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 12, 1897 Walter B. Gibson. Writer and professional magician who’s best known for his work creating and being the first and main writer of the pulp character The Shadow with The Living Shadow published by Street & Smith Publications in 1933 being the first one. Using the pen-name Maxwell Grant, he wrote 285 of the 325 Shadow stories published by Street & Smith in The Shadow magazine of the Thirties and Forties. He also wrote a Batman prose story which appeared in Detective Comics #500 and was drawn by Thomas Yeates. (Died 1985.)
  • Born September 12, 1921 — Stanisław Lem. He’s best known for Solaris, which has been made into a film three times. The latest film made off a work of his is the 2018 His Master’s Voice (Glos Pana In Polish). The usual suspects have generous collections of his translated into English works at quite reasonable prices. (Died 2006.)
  • Born September 12, 1940 John Clute, 83. Critic, one of the founders of Interzone (which I avidly read) and co-editor of the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (with Peter Nicholls) and of the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (with John Grant) as well as writing the Illustrated Encyclopedia Of Science Fiction. All of these publications won Hugo Awards for Best Non-Fiction. And I’d be remiss not to single out for praise The Darkening Garden: A Short Lexicon of Horror which is simply a superb work.
  • Born September 12, 1942 Charles L. Grant. A writer who said he was best at what he called “dark fantasy” and “quiet horror”. Nightmare Seasons, a collection of novellas, won a World Fantasy Award, while the “A Crowd of Shadows” short garnered a Nebula as did “A Glow of Candles, a Unicorn’s Eye” novella. “Temperature Days on Hawthorne Street” story would become the Tales from the Darkside episode “The Milkman Cometh”. Both iBooks and Kindle have decent but not outstanding selections of his works including a few works of Oxrun Station, his core horror series. (Died 2006.)
  • Born September 12, 1952 Kathryn Anne Ptacek, 71. Widow of Charles L. Grant. She has won two Stoker Awards. If you’re into horror. Her Gila! novel is a classic of that genre, and No Birds Sings is an excellent collection of her short stories. Both are available from the usual suspects. She is the editor and publisher of the writers-market magazine The Gila Queen’s Guide to Markets
  • Born September 12, 1952 — Neil Peart. Drummer and primary lyricist for the prog-rock, power-trio band Rush. Neil incorporated science fiction and fantasy elements into many of Rush’s songs.  An early example is “By-Tor and the Snow Dog” from the Album “Fly By Night”.  The entire first side of the 2112 album (back when albums had sides) was the 2112 suite telling the dystopian story of a man living in a society where individualism and creativity are outlawed.  Neil is a genre author having co-written The Clockwork Angels series with Kevin J. Anderson.  (Died of glioblastoma, 2020.) (Dann Todd) 
  • Born September 12, 1965 Robert T. Jeschonek, 58. Writer for my purposes of both genre and mysteries. He’s written short fiction set in the Trek universe. He’s also written fiction set in the BattletechCaptain MidnightDeathlandsDoctor WhoStarbarian Saga and Tannhauser universes. We really need a concordance to all these media universes. Really we do. 

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Candorville is where an author claims to focus on the positive. But does he?

(11) WESTERCON 75 ANNOUNCEMENT. Arlene Busby, chair of the cancelled Westercon 75, announced today that all membership refunds have been issued. Also, the transfers have been completed for all those members who requested that their membership monies be transfer to Loscon 49.

Similarly, refunds have been issued to all Dealers who requested them. And transfers have been completed for Dealers who requested their fees be transferred to Loscon 49.

Busby adds, “We thank everyone for their support and patience in getting all these transactions processed. If you have any questions please contact me at [email protected].”

(12) TREK THEME PERFORMED IN CHINA. From the Beijing Star Trek Day event mentioned in the September 9 Scroll comes this a video of the Michael Giacchino Star Trek theme performed on traditional Chinese instruments – see it on Weibo

(13) PULITZER PRIZE ELIGIBILITY UPDATED. “Pulitzer Board Expands Eligibility for Authors” reports Publishers Lunch.

Beginning with the 2025 awards, which opens for submissions in spring 2024, the Pulitzer Prize board has changed the eligibility requirements for the books, drama and music awards to include “US citizens, permanent residents of the United States,” and authors for whom “the United States has been their longtime primary home.” Previously, only US citizens were eligible for the awards, with the exception of authors of history books, who could be of any nationality if their book was about US history. “For the sake of consistency,” the prize board said, history books must be written by US authors according to the new guidelines.

Books still must be “originally published in English in the United States.”

In “Pulitzer Prizes expand eligibility to non-U.S. citizens”, the Los Angeles Times amplifies how the change was brought about.

…Following an August petition on the literary sites Literary Hub and Undocupoets to reconsider the U.S. citizenship requirements for the arts prizes, the Pulitzer board addressed the issue….

The petition, which was signed by many prominent authors, was created in part because of the passionate case that author Javier Zamora made against the Pulitzer’s U.S. citizen requirements in a De Los opinion piece titled “It’s time for the Pulitzer Prize for literature to accept noncitizens.”…

(14) GREG JEIN COLLECTION TO AUCTION. Model and miniature-maker Greg Jein, who died last year, had an extraordinary collection of iconic sf props and costumes, which are now going under the hammer: “’Star Wars’ Red Leader X-Wing Model Heads A Cargo Bay’s Worth Of Props At Auction” at LAist.

…The intricately made starfighter brought millions of people along for the ride as a group of plucky Rebel pilots assaulted the Death Star. Now the Star Wars scale model is being sold at auction, with bids starting at $400,000.

The “Red Leader” (Red One) X-wing Starfighter from 1977’s Star Wars: A New Hope is “the pinnacle of Star Wars artifacts to ever reach the market,” says Heritage Auctions, which is handling the sale as part of a trove of science fiction props, miniatures and memorabilia.

The X-wing tops the auction list, but it’s far, far from alone: It was found in the expansive collection of Greg Jein, an expert craftsman who was as skilled at bringing futuristic stories to life as he was devoted to preserving the models and props used to bring strange new worlds to TV and film.

…More than 550 items from Jein’s collection are now heading to auction, from Nichelle Nichols’ iconic knee-high boots and red tunic as Lt. Uhura to Leonard Nimoy’s pointy ears as Spock. A hairpiece for William Shatner’s Captain Kirk and Lt. Sulu’s golden tunic are also up for sale….

There’s more information in the Heritage Auctions press release: “Mother Lode From the Mothership: Model-Making Legend Greg Jein’s Collection Beams Up to Heritage”.

…Jein also preserved Spock’s ka’athyrathe Vulcan lute strummed in a handful of Original Series episodes, including “Amok Time ” and “The Conscience of the King “; the ray generator called into duty during several Original Series episodes; and the Universal Translator that Kirk used to talk to the Gorn in “Arena. “ There’s something for fans of nearly every episode of The Original Series, from the ahn-woon of “Amok Time “ to the agonizer used in “Mirror, Mirror” to The Great Teacher of All the Ancient Knowledge intended to restore “Spock’s Brain.” The Trek offerings in The Greg Jein Auction are nearly as vast as the final frontier itself….

(15) IN THE SPIRIT OF PHILIP K. DICK. A discussion with 81st Worldcon Chair He Xi and multidisciplinary sci-fi artist Yin Guang, “HUGO X: 2”, a Chengdu Worldcon Talkshow, closes with the jolly speculation that carbon-based life will be the scaffolding for silicon-based life – artificial intelligence – and when that building is built, “you’ll be torn down.”

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