2024 Oscar Nominations

When the 2024 Oscar Nominations were announced today, as expected two films of genre interest led the field – just not the two everyone predicted.

Oppenheimer earned 13 nominations, followed by feminist steampunk fantasy Poor Things with 11. Barbie received 8.

Three of the Best Picture nominees are of genre interest, Barbie, Oppenheimer, and Poor Things.

Up for Best Actor is Cillian Murphy, who portrays J. Robert Oppenheimer, and for Best Actress, Emma Stone, who plays the child-like protagonist in Poor Things.

The mainstream media is leading its Oscar snubs articles with the observation that Barbie’s lead actress and director, both women, are not among the nominees, only the actor who played Ken — Ryan Gosling — which seems to parallel the movie’s message about patriarchy. However, while Gosling is up for Best Supporting Actor, Barbie’s America Ferrera is also up for Best Supporting Actress.

Barbie has a pair of nominees for Best Original Song: “I’m Just Ken” and “What Was I Made For?” 

Up for Best Animated Feature Film are The Boy and the HeronElementalNimonaRobot Dreams, and Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse.

The 2024 Oscars will be held on Sunday, March 10 in Los Angeles.

The full list of nominees follows the jump.

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Pixel Scroll 3/13/23 I’m Gonna Send You Back To Wherever The Hell It Was You Came, And Then I’m Gonna Get This Pixel Scrolled To Another File’s Name

(1) OSCARS IN MEMORIAM VIDEO. The 95th Oscars In Memoriam tribute aired last night included Albert Brenner, Robbie Coltrane, Kirstie Alley, Gregory Jein, Christopher Tucker, Nichelle Nichols, Clayton Pinney, Angela Lansbury, Wolfgang Petersen, Carl Bell, James Caan, and Raquel Welch, and doubtless many more who worked on genre films at some time in their careers.

(2) THEY’LL MEET AGAIN. “Ke Huy Quan, Harrison Ford get Indiana Jones reunion at Oscars”. “Indy and Short Round were together again on Hollywood’s biggest night. How could you not cry?” asks Entertainment Weekly. Photos at the link.

… Meanwhile, both Quan and Ford are set to join the Marvel Cinematic Universe in the near future, with Quan playing an as-yet-undisclosed role in Loki season 2 and Ford taking over the role of General Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross in Captain America: New World Order and Thunderbolts. That means there’s a possibility viewers could see them together on screen again.

“It would be freakin’ awesome if we get to do one scene together,” Quan told EW about the possibility….

(3) LE GUIN REVISIONS. Speaking of changing the texts of authors who are late: Theo Downes-Le Guin explains “Why I Decided to Update the Language in Ursula K. Le Guin’s Children’s Books” at Literary Hub.

In a 1973 letter to the editor of The Horn Book Magazinemy mother, Ursula K. Le Guin, took Roald Dahl’s books to task. While acknowledging her own “feelings of unease” about Dahl’s work, she remarked that “…kids are very tough. What they find for themselves they should be able to read for themselves.” I had this in mind as I read about wording changes in new editions of Dahl.

As Ursula’s literary executor, I recently faced a similar decision. My mother, known for her young adult and adult novels, also wrote several children’s books. A multigenerational fan base has kept her Catwings books in print in the US since the 1980s. I was excited to move the books to a new publisher last year.

As we began work on the new editions, I received an unexpected note from the editor: “I’m writing to propose several minor changes to the language… to remove words that now have a different connotation than when the books were originally published.” The words in question were “lame,” “queer,” “dumb,” and “stupid,” a total of seven instances across three books.

… After deep breaths, and with Ursula’s own revisionism in mind, I contacted a disability rights attorney, a youth literature consultant, a racial educator, and some kids. My advisory group leaned toward change but was not in consensus. I genuinely didn’t know what my mother would have decided. But she left me a clue: a note over her desk asking, “Is it true? Is it necessary or at least useful? Is it compassionate or at least unharmful?”…

(4) SMALL WONDER POSTS STORIES. The Small Wonders Magazine: Year One Kickstarter has reached the half-funded point (of their $16,500 goal). Therefore, this week they’re releasing new pieces on the schedule they will follow when the flash fiction and poetry magazine commences publishing.

Monday they published Wendy Nikel’s new story, “The Watching Astronaut”. Wednesday they will publish “The Empress Chides the Hermit,” a new poem from Ali Trotta, and Friday they will release Charles Payseur’s “A Lumberjack’s Guide to Dryad Spotting.”

(5) HORROR WRITER’S GENESIS. With “Women in Horror: Interview with Jo Kaplan”, the Horror Writers Association blog continues its theme for March.

What inspired you to start writing?

When I was a child of the ‘90s, I was obsessed with the Goosebumps books—and before I even really knew how to write, I wanted to make my own stories emulating them. So, at about six years old, I would create my own versions of Goosebumps by coming up with a title for a story, drawing a cover, and then scribbling over a bunch of paper in imitation of writing. Then I would staple it all together into a book and “read” it to people—but since it was just scribbles, I would make up the story anew each time. I guess this was my proto-writing phase, because the itch to tell stories has never left me.

(6) ATWOOD ON BBC RADIO. This weekend’s Open Book on BBC Radio 4 features Margret Atwood.

She has a new collection of shorts out that includes an article she did for Inque magazine imagining her interviews George Orwell. She also spoke to the importance of writers supporting young reader as without young readers there will be no old readers.

Johny Pitts talks to the giant of contemporary literature Margaret Atwood about returning to short fiction following the death of her husband Graeme, imagining the future and what she would say to George Orwell.

Margaret Atwood

(7) RACHEL POLLACK. There was a premature report in social media that Rachel Pollack had died, however, she was still alive today. Carrie Loveland posted this status on Facebook and asked that it be shared.

…Spoke to Rachel Pollack’s wife, Judith Zoe Matoff, just now and she asked me to please post on her behalf that RACHEL IS STILL ALIVE. I think Neil Gaiman’s social media post yesterday caused some confusion and some people have misinterpreted it. Zoe said that she is “transitioning,” but she is still alive in home hospice….

(8) SUZY MCKEE CHARNAS. The passing of author Suzy McKee Charnas in January was reported by media at the time. However, you might be interested in the extended obituary notice published today in “Shelf Awareness for Monday, March 13, 2023”.

… “Suzy, to me, was a lot like David Bowie,” said Jane Lindskold, a science fiction and fantasy writer who knew Charnas from a writers’ group in Albuquerque, N.Mex. “She followed her own muse. She could have just written only vampire books, but she did what she wanted to do.”…

(9) SANDRA LEVY OBITUARY. Longtime Windycon attendee and volunteer Sandy Levy died this morning from ALS Steven H Silver reported on Facebook.

Sandy was also involved in Capricon and the two most recent Chicons, as well as other conventions.

In 2019, when Sandy retired from her job as a librarian at the University of Chicago, a commemorative book of articles was published in her honor. [“In Honor of Sandra Levy: festschrift”.]  

The Chicon 8 Facebook page invited people to post their memories. Chair Helen Montgomery wrote:

Sandy was one of the best people. She had been involved with Chicago fandom for a very long time. She was on the Bid Committees for both Chicon 7 and Chicon 8. She was so generous with her time and such an important part of our team. Many of you would have spoken to her at our fan tables or parties.

She loved working the Info Desk – everyone got to stop by and say hi to her, and she loved welcoming new fans to the community at conventions. She was Chicon 8’s pre-con Info Desk person, responding to many of your emailed questions until her ALS reached the point where she could no longer do so.

She was not able to attend Chicon 8, but I (Helen) got to go see her two weeks later. We hung out in the garden of her apartment building, and I was able to present her Hero of the Convention medal to her in person, and I am so glad I could do that.

She was a warm, funny, smart, and joyous person. I/We have no words to express how much she will be missed.

 (10) MEMORY LANE.

2016[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

Our Beginning this Scroll is Lavie Tidhar’s Central Station which was published seven years ago by Tachyon. It won the John W. Campbell Memorial Award as well as the Neukom Institute Literary Arts Award and the Xingyun Award. 

I’ve really enjoyed pretty much everything Tidhar has done with the Bookman series with its riff with an alternate Britain being my favorite and the Unholy Land with its take on a Jewish home land that never was being absolutely fascinating. 

Central Station, without giving away anything that’s not in the Beginning, is well-worth your time to read if you like SF set in a believable future that’s both familiar and alien at the same time. 

Oh, and it has a sequel in Neom which is also published by Tachyon. It too is brilliantly executed.

So now our Beginning… 

PROLOGUE 

I came first to Central Station on a day in winter. African refugees sat on the green, expressionless. They were waiting, but for what, I didn’t know. Outside a butchery, two Filipino children played at being airplanes: arms spread wide they zoomed and circled, firing from imaginary under-wing machine guns. Behind the butcher’s counter, a Filipino man was hitting a ribcage with his cleaver, separating meat and bones into individual chops. A little farther from it stood the Rosh Ha’ir shawarma stand, twice blown up by suicide bombers in the past but open for business as usual. The smell of lamb fat and cumin wafted across the noisy street and made me hungry.

Traffic lights blinked green, yellow, and red. Across the road a furniture store sprawled out onto the pavement in a profusion of garish sofas and chairs. A small gaggle of junkies sat on the burnt foundations of what had been the old bus station, chatting. I wore dark shades. The sun was high in the sky and though it was cold it was a Mediterranean winter, bright and at that moment dry. 

I walked down the Neve Sha’anan pedestrian street. I found shelter in a small shebeen, a few wooden tables and chairs, a small counter serving Maccabee Beer and little else. A Nigerian man behind the counter regarded me without expression. I asked for a beer. I sat down and brought out my notebook and a pen and stared at the page. 

Central Station, Tel Aviv. The present. Or a present. Another attack on Gaza, elections coming up, down south in the Arava desert they were building a massive separation wall to stop the refugees from coming in. The refugees were in Tel Aviv now, centred around the old bus station neighbourhood in the south of the city, some quarter million of them and the economic migrants here on sufferance, the Thai and Filipinos and Chinese. I sipped my beer. It was bad. I stared at the page. Rain fell.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 13, 1931 Richard Lawrence Purtill. He’s here as the author of Murdercon, a 1982 novel where a murder is discovered at a SF Convention. I’ve not heard of it but was wondering if y’all had heard of this work. (Died 2016.)
  • Born March 13, 1950 William H. Macy Jr., 73. I’ll start his Birthday note by recalling that he was in the superb Pleasantville as George Parker. He’s shown up in a lot of genre works including but limited to Somewhere in Time, EvolverThe Secret of NIMH 2: Timmy to the RescueThe Night of the Headless HorsemanJurassic Park IIISahara and The Tale of Despereaux.
  • Born March 13, 1951 William F. Wu, 72. Nominated for two Hugos, the first being at L.A. Con II for his short story, “Wong’s Lost and Found Emporium”; the second two years later at ConFederation for another short story, “Hong’s Bluff”.  The former work was adapted into a Twilight Zone episode of the same name. He’s contributed more than once to the Wild Card universe, the latest being a story in the most excellent Texas Hold’Em anthology five years back. Though definitely not genre in general, The Yellow Peril: Chinese Americans in American Fiction, 1850-1940 is decidedly worth reading.
  • Born March 13, 1956 Dana Delany, 67. I’ve come today to praise her work as a voice actress. She was in a number of DCU animated films, first as Andrea Beaumont in Batman: The Mask of The Phantasm, then as Lois Lane in Superman: The Animated SeriesSuperman: Brainiac Attacks and Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox. (That’s not a complete listing.) Remember that Wing Commander film? Well there was an animated series, Wing Commander Academy, in which she was Gwen Archer Bowman.
  • Born March 13, 1966 Alastair Reynolds, 57. As depressing as they are given what they lead up to, the Prefect Dreyfus novels are my favorite novels by him. (The third is out this autumn.) That said, Chasm City is fascinating. His next novel in the Revelation Space series, Inhibitor Phase, came out in 2022. 
  • Born March 13, 1967 Lou Anders, 56. A Hugo-winning editor. He’s has been editorial director of Prometheus Books’ SF imprint Pyr since its launch fifteen years ago. He’s a crack editor of anthologies. I’ve very fond of his Live Without a Net, Sideways in Time and FutureShocks anthologies. I note that he has a fantasy trilogy, Thrones and Bones, but I’ve not heard of it til now. 
  • Born March 13, 1968 Jen Gunnels, 55. Writer and genre theater critic, the latter a rare thing indeed. She does her reviews for Journal of the Fantastic in the ArtsFoundation: The Review of Science Fiction and New York Review of Science Fiction. With Erin Underwood, she has edited Geek Theater: Anthology of Science Fiction and Fantasy Plays

(12) COMICS SECTION.

  • Barney & Clyde shows elementary school students with mature literary opinions.

(13) VI SCREAM, YOU SCREAM. The Hollywood Reporter checked the bottom line and learned, “Scream VI scared up a franchise-best $44.5 million opening from 3,675 theaters at the domestic box office, easily enough to win Oscar weekend.” 

(14) VONNEGUT AS FICTIONAL CHARACTER. Variety has learned “Oscar Isaac in Talks to Play Kurt Vonnegut in Amazon’s ‘Helltown’”.

According to the logline, the hour-long, 8-episode crime thriller follows the life of Kurt Vonnegut before he became known to the world as a renowned author. Per Amazon, “In 1969 Kurt was a struggling novelist and car salesman living life with his wife and five children on Cape Cod. When two women disappear and are later discovered murdered underneath the sand dunes on the outskirts of Provincetown, Kurt becomes obsessed and embroiled in the chilling hunt for a serial killer and forms a dangerous bond with the prime suspect.”

Based on the book of the same name written by Casey Sherman, the series comes from “Severance” co-EP Mohamad El Masri, who will also serve as showrunner and writer. “All Quiet on the Western Front” director Ed Berger will helm the series and executive produce….

(15) TODAY’S THING TO WORRY ABOUT. From Fox News: “Giant blob of seaweed twice the width of US taking aim at Florida, scientists say (msn.com) Yes, but is it a howling giant blob of seaweed, pace “Cordwainer Bird’s” script for Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea?

Drifting between the Atlantic coast of Africa and the Gulf of Mexico, the thick mat of algae can provide a habitat for marine life and absorb carbon dioxide. 

However, the giant bloom can have disastrous consequences as it gets closer to the shore. Coral, for instance, can be deprived of sunlight. As the seaweed decomposes it can release hydrogen sulfide, negatively impact the air and water and causing respiratory problems for people in the surrounding area. 

“What we’re seeing in the satellite imagery does not bode well for a clean beach year,” Brian LaPointe, a research professor at Florida Atlantic University’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute told NBC News…. 

(16) FLATIRON GOING UNDER THE HAMMER. “The famous Flatiron Building to go up for auction” reports MSN.com. It formerly housed Tor’s editorial offices before the publisher moved out several years ago.

As the result of an ongoing disagreement among the current owners of an iconic Manhattan building, the property will soon be available to the highest bidder.

The 121-year-old Flatiron Building, which is currently empty, will hit the auction block in what is known as a partition sale on March 22 — stemming from a ruling in the contentious legal fight between its multiple landlords.

In January, a New York state judge issued an order allowing the auction to move forward following a 2021 suit by Sorgente Group, Jeffrey Gural’s GFP Real Estate and ABS Real Estate Partners, who together own 75% of the building, the Real Deal first reported.

The co-owners sued after reaching a stalemate with Nathan Silverstein, who owns 25% of the steel-framed 175 Fifth Ave. building, which was completed in 1902 and is the namesake for the surrounding neighborhood….

(17) RANDALL MUNROE ON RADIO. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] The Museum of Curiosity on BBC Radio 4 this weekend featured the Hugo Award winner Randall Munroe. He said that one of the most interesting questions he’d been asked is what would happen if the Solar System was filled up with soup to the orbit of Jupiter. (The answer, of course, is the formation of a black hole.) “The Museum of Curiosity, Series 17, Episode 3”.

(18) IT’S THE WATER – AND A LOT MORE. The Little Mermaid comes to theatres on May 26.

“The Little Mermaid” is the beloved story of Ariel, a beautiful and spirited young mermaid with a thirst for adventure. The youngest of King Triton’s daughters and the most defiant, Ariel longs to find out more about the world beyond the sea and, while visiting the surface, falls for the dashing Prince Eric. While mermaids are forbidden to interact with humans, Ariel must follow her heart. She makes a deal with the evil sea witch, Ursula, which gives her a chance to experience life on land but ultimately places her life – and her father’s crown – in jeopardy.

(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Someone has said that RRR is “alternate history” — not that an excuse is really needed to post this Oscar-winning song:

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Joyce Scrivner, Jayn, Stephen Granade, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day MF.]

2023 Oscars

The 2023 Oscar winners were announced on March 12 and genre films won many of the 23 awards presented during the primetime broadcast.

Everything Everywhere All at Once received seven Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Lead Actress, Best Supporting Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Film Editing.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever won Best Costume Design.

Avatar: The Way of Water won Best Visual Effects.

Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio was named the Best Animated Film.

The complete list of winners follows.

Best Picture

  • Everything Everywhere All at Once, Daniel Kwan, Daniel Scheinert and Jonathan Wang, Producers

Best Director 

  • Daniel Kwan, Daniel Scheinert (Everything Everywhere All at Once

Best Lead Actor

  • Brendan Fraser (The Whale

Best Lead Actress

  • Michelle Yeoh (Everything Everywhere All at Once)

Best Supporting Actor

  • Ke Huy Quan (Everything Everywhere All at Once

Best Supporting Actress

  • Jamie Lee Curtis (Everything Everywhere All at Once

Best Adapted Screenplay

  • Women Talking, Screenplay by Sarah Polley

Best Original Screenplay

  • Everything Everywhere All at Once, Written by Daniel Kwan & Daniel Scheinert

Best Cinematography 

  • All Quiet on the Western Front, James Friend

Best Documentary Feature Film 

  • Navalny, Daniel Roher, Odessa Rae, Diane Becker, Melanie Miller and Shane Boris

Best Documentary Short Film 

  • The Elephant Whisperers, Kartiki Gonsalves and Guneet Monga

Best Film Editing

  • Everything Everywhere All at Once, Paul Rogers

Best International Feature Film 

  • All Quiet on the Western Front (Germany) 

Best Original Song 

  • “Naatu Naatu” from RRR, Music by M.M. Keeravaani; Lyric by Chandrabose  

Best Production Design 

  • All Quiet on the Western Front, Production Design: Christian M. Goldbeck; Set Decoration: Ernestine Hipper

Best Visual Effects

  • Avatar: The Way of Water, Joe Letteri, Richard Baneham, Eric Saindon and Daniel Barrett

Best Animated Feature Film 

  • Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio, Guillermo del Toro, Mark Gustafson, Gary Ungar and Alex Bulkley

Best Animated Short Film

  • The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse, Charlie Mackesy and Matthew Freud

Best Costume Design 

  • Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Ruth Carter

Best Live Action Short

  • An Irish Goodbye, Tom Berkeley and Ross White

Best Makeup and Hairstyling 

  • The Whale, Adrien Morot, Judy Chin and Anne Marie Bradley

Best Original Score 

  • All Quiet on the Western Front, Volker Bertelmann

Best Sound

  • Top Gun: Maverick, Mark Weingarten, James H. Mather, Al Nelson, Chris Burdon and Mark Taylor

2023 Oscar Nominations

The 2023 Oscar nominees were announced on January 24. Everything Everywhere All at Once leads the field with 11 nominations, including Best Picture.

Avatar: The Way of Water is also up for Best Picture, and is nominated in three other categories.

Everything Everywhere All at Once’s Michelle Yeoh is nominated for Best Lead Actress, and Ke Huy Quan for Best Supporting Actor.

The 95th Oscars will be held on Sunday, March 12, 2023

The complete list of nominees follows the jump.

Continue reading

2022 Oscar Nominations

The finalists in all 23 categories for the 2022 Academy Awards were revealed on February 8.

Denis Villeneuve’s Dune received the second-most nominations, with 10, including Best Picture and Writing (Adapted Screenplay). (The western Power of the Dog leads the field with 12.)

The 10 Best Picture nominees also include Don’t Look Up and Nightmare Alley.

In the Visual Effects category all the of finalists are genre films – Dune, Free Guy, No Time To Die, Shang-Chi and The Legend of the Ten Rings, and Spider-Man: No Way Home.

The 94th Oscars will be held on Sunday, March 27 at the Dolby® Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center® in Hollywood.

The nominees of genre interest follow the jump. The complete list is here.

Dune
Continue reading

Pixel Scroll 4/26/21 In A Scrolling Way, It’s About That Pixel

(1) INTRODUCING BEST EDITOR. During last night’s telecast: “Harrison Ford uses Oscar soapbox to get some Blade Runner complaints off his chest”.

“I’d like to share some notes, some editorial suggestions that were prepared after the screening of, uh, a movie I was in,” joked Ford. “Opening too choppy. Why is this voice-over track so terrible? He sounds drugged.”

“Were they all on drugs? Dekker at the piano is interminable. Flashback dialogue is confusing. Is he listening to a tape? Why do we need the third cut to the eggs? The synagogue music is awful on the street. We’ve got to use Vangelis. Up to Zora’s death, the movie is deadly dull. This movie gets worse every screening.

(2) TRUST ME, IT DIDN’T WIN. EscYOUnited, in “Eurovision Movie’s ‘Húsavík’ does not win 2021 Oscar for Best Original Song”, admits its fans are disappointed, but notes how many other honors the movie has received – including a Hugo nomination.

…Sadly things did not go in Fire Saga’s favor, as H.E.R., Dernest Emile II, and Tiara Thomas won the award for their song “Fight For You” featured in Judas and the Black Messiah. Even without tonight’s Oscar, the Eurovision movie is still a two time award winning film. Prior to tonight the music editor team won the award for Outstanding Achievement in Sound Editing – Musical for Feature film and “Húsavík” won the award for Outstanding Original Song for Visual Media….

(3) REMEMBERED. The Oscars 2021 In Memoriam video included Ian Holm, Max Von Sydow, Christopher Plummer, Wilford Brimley, Ron Cobb, Hal Holbrook, Helen McCrory, Carl Reiner, Brian Dennehy, Diana Rigg, Sean Connery, Chadwick Boseman, and others with genre credits.

(4) BONUS MURDERBOT. Tom Becker pointed out Tor.com’s post of “Home: Habitat, Range, Niche, Territory”, by Martha Wells.

Home: Habitat, Range, Niche, Territory was originally given free to readers who pre-ordered Martha’s Murderbot novel, Network Effect. The story is set just after the 4th novella,Exit Strategy.

(5) MARTHA WELLS PROFILE. The Orange County Register’s Erik Pedersen tells “How ‘Murderbot Diaries’ author Martha Wells overcame a career in crisis to create the killer series”.

There was a time before Martha Wells created Murderbot, the character that narrates her award-winning science fiction series “The Murderbot Diaries,” when she thought her career might be dead.

After a successful start in the ‘90s, things had cooled down by the mid-2000s. When the final book in her “Fall of Ile-Rien” trilogy was published without fanfare, the soft-spoken Texan wondered if that was it for her.

“I was kind of at that point in my career where, you know, women writers my age were supposed to quietly fade away. It’s like, ‘Well, you had your shot, and that was it, and now go away.’ So I was not real optimistic about being able to continue to be published,” says the now 56-year-old novelist during a call from her College Station home, which she shares with her husband and three cats.

“I could not sell another book,” says Wells. “I knew my career was in a lot of trouble.”

But she refused to give up. Over the next few years, she got a new agent, started a new series, found a new publisher.

“That kind of got me back going again. I ended up also doing a Star Wars novel and did some work on some stories for Magic the Gathering,” she says, describing herself as plugging away but not soaring during that period. “I thought, ‘Well, this is probably about as high up as I can go,’ you know? It’s like, I’m not gonna win awards, and I’m not gonna be, you know, super popular or anything like that. But if I can keep going at this level, I’ll be okay.

“And then Murderbot just hit big,” she says….

(6) EUROCON. Eurocon 2021 in Fiuggi, Italy will be an in-person con the committee announced.

Just had green light for Eurocon in-person!

All attendees will have to be vaccinated or pre-tested for Covid 19.

If the con were to be held today, we could accommodate a little more than 200 guests. We are confident that it will be possible to increase this number in July. Hope to see you in Italy!!!

(7) B5 WAS THE PROTOTYPE. TechRadar boldly asks “Is Babylon 5 secretly the most influential TV show of the past 25 years?”

… If most TV viewers had no idea what a showrunner was back in the ’90s, even fewer could name one. Only superstar producers such as Hill Street Blues and NYPD Blue creator Steven Bochco were big enough to occasionally eclipse their brands. However, the name of J Michael Straczynski was all over Babylon 5, as synonymous with the show as Minbari, Narn and Vorlons – just as much as The West Wing was Aaron Sorkin’s creation or The Sopranos David Chase’s, Babylon 5 was his. Arguably more so, in fact, seeing as he wrote 92 of the show’s 110 episodes, including the entirety of seasons 3 and 4. 

Babylon 5 was an auteur’s vision on an epic scale. On the rare occasions guest writers were brought in, they were often genre legends such as Neil Gaiman, Harlan Ellison and regular Star Trek writer DC Fontana – this show was never scared to embrace the harder edges of science fiction. And just as would later become the norm with showrunners such as Russell T Davies on Doctor Who or Dave Filoni on The Clone Wars, Straczynski was the public face of his show, becoming one of the first writers to talk directly to the fanbase via the internet.

A veteran of ’80s cartoons such as She-Ra: Princess of Power, The Real Ghostbusters, and Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors, Straczynski always had big plans for Babylon 5. He set out to tell a story taking in space battles, political intrigue, epic mythology and more, and wanted to do it over the course of five years. 

That may not feel unusual now, when shows such as Breaking Bad, Lost and even comedies such as Schitt’s Creek make a big thing of spreading their stories over multiple seasons. But in the mid-’90s, the Babylon 5 approach was seriously radical. Most of the TV of the era was built on standalone episodes, with serialization kept to a minimum to ensure episodes could be watched in any order once they ended up in syndication. That Babylon 5 should so brazenly break the mould was a big shock to the system for ’90s viewers…

… It was ‘Westeros in space’ before George RR Martin had even published his first A Song of Ice and Fire novel, a show that rewarded viewers who tuned in for every installment. Babylon 5 was a show purpose-built for streaming and binge-viewing, trapped in the era of broadcast and cable….

(8) ESSENCE OF WONDER. “Strategy Strikes Back: Star Wars And Modern Military Conflict” will be the topic on Essence of Wonder with Gadi Evron on May 1 at 3 p.m. Eastern. Register for the Zoom webinar here.

Strategy Strikes Back authors Lt. Col. Matt CavanaughMax BrooksAugust Cole, and Steve Leonard join Gadi and Karen to discuss Star Wars and modern military conflict. In the book, they made understanding strategy fun by the use of a common global language – The love of Star Wars. We’ll be happy to share that love with them.

(9) BILLIONS AND BILLIONS. What Carl Sagan used to say about the number of stars this fellow says about his bank account. SpaceX’s Elon Musk will host Saturday Night Live on May 8 reports NPR.

Saturday Night Live doesn’t usually have business executives host its show, but as pointed out in a story by The Associated Press, Musk is far from a stuffy corporate type. He regularly jokes around on Twitter, where he has nearly 52 million followers and has gotten into legal trouble for making disparaging remarks about critics and hinting that he might lead a buyout of Tesla that resulted him getting fined $20 million by stock market regulators.

… Not counting news interview shows and press conferences, Musk has made guest appearances on the CBS shows Young Sheldon and The Big Bang Theory. His voice has also been heard on the animated shows South ParkThe Simpsons and Rick and Morty. Plus he made a cameo in the film Iron Man 2.

(10) WOLFE SPEAKS. Colombian author Triunfo Arciniegas reposted Lawrence Person’s 1998 interview with Gene Wolfe yesterday: “DRAGON: Suns New, Long, and Short / An Interview with Gene Wolfe”.

LP: You have literally dozens of characters in The Book of the Long Sun, yet many times you have scenes with a number of characters all speaking in turn, without being identified, and yet their speech patterns are so clearly and cleverly differentiated that we’re never confused about who’s talking. Just how do you do that?

GW: (Laughs) I’m certainly glad that you were never confused! There are two things. Obviously, you have the speech patterns. Spider does not talk like Maytera Mint. And if you understand speech patterns, you should be able to put in any statement Spider makes, certain characteristic phrases or mistakes, or whatever, that will identify him as the speaker. The other thing is, that if you’re doing it right, the speech that, oh, let’s say, Maytera Marble makes under a certain circumstance, is not the speech that Blood would make under that circumstance. When Maytera Marble talks, she is saying something that only Maytera Marble would say. When Blood speaks, he is saying something that only Blood would say. And so the reader, if the reader is intelligent, knows who said that from what was said.

(11) HWA POETRY SHOWCASE. Horror Writers Association is taking submissions from members to its 2021 Poetry Showcase.

The HWA is proud to announce that it will call for submissions from its members for the Poetry Showcase Volume VIII beginning April 1. Stephanie Wytovich will be the editor for the volume. This year’s judges, along with Stephanie, will include Sara Tantlinger and Angela Yuriko Smith.

Only HWA members (of any status) may submit. The reason for this can be found in the word “Showcase.” The HWA is very proud of the tradition of poetry in the horror genre and of the HWA’s support for poetry. This volume is designed to showcase the talents of HWA members which is why it is now limited to members….

(12) WILLIAMS OBIT. Charlie Williams, a long-time Nashville fan, passed away April 25 reports Tom Feller. He had been residing in a nursing home/rehab facility after being hospitalized for pneumonia.  He is survived by his wife Patsy and sister Jennifer.  Funeral arrangements are pending.

[NOTE: He is a different Charlie Williams than the fanartist from Knoxville.]

(13) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • April 26, 2008 — On this date in 2008, Star Wars: The Clone Wars premiered on the Cartoon Network. created by George Lucas and produced by Lucasfilm Animation, the series ran for seven seasons. It’s currently airing, as is all things Star Wars, on Disney+. 

(14) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born April 26, 1914 – Horace L. Gold.  One novel (with Sprague de Camp), twoscore shorter stories.  Edited Galaxy (insistence on taking SF in a new direction resulted in “You’ll never see it in Galaxy!”) and If; a dozen anthologies.  A Best-Prozine Hugo for Galaxy; Life Achievement Award from Westercon 28; Forry, Milford Awards.  (Died 1996) [JH]
  • Born April 26, 1922 A. E. van Vogt. I admit it’s been so long since I read him that I don’t clearly remember what I liked by him though I know I read Slan and The Weapon Makers.  I am fascinated by the wiki page that noted Damon Knight took a strong dislike to his writing whereas Philip K. Dick and Paul Di Filippo defended him strongly. What do y’all think of him? (Died 2000.) (CE)
  • Born April 26, 1925 Richard Deming. I think that all of the Man from U.N.C.L.E. novellasor in this case the Girl from U.N.C.L.E. novellas, were listed under the house name of Robert Hart Davis. Deming was only one of a very long list of writers (I know of Richard Curtis, Richard Deming, I. G. Edmonds, John Jakes, Frank Belknap Long, Dennis Lynds, Talmage Powell, Bill Pronzini, Charles Ventura and Harry Whittington) that were writers who penned novels in the twin U.N.C.L.E. series.(Died 1983.) (CE) 
  • Born April 26, 1939 Rex Miller. Horror writer with a hand in many pies, bloody ones at that. (Sorry couldn’t resist.) The Chaingang series featured Daniel Bunkowski, a half-ton killing-machine. Definitely genre. He contributed to some thirty anthologies including Hotter Blood: More Tales of Erotic HorrorFrankenstein: The Monster WakesDick Tracy: The Secret Files and The Crow: Shattered Lives and Broken Dreams. (Died 2005.) (CE)
  • Born April 26, 1950 Peter Jurasik, 71. Ambassador Londo Mollari on Babylon 5 who would be Emperor one day and die for his sins. (Yes, spoiler.) He has also very short genre credits other than Babylon 5— Doctor Oberon Geiger for several episodes on Sliders and Crom, the timid and pudgy compound interest program, in the Tron film. (CE)
  • Born April 26, 1943 – Bill Warren.  Three stories, three poems; best known as a student and critic of SF film, see his Keep Watching the Skies!  Fan Guest of Honor at Ambercon 3, VCON 11, Loscon 11, MisCon 6.  Evans-Freehafer Award (service to LASFS, Los Angeles Science Fantasy Soc.), Sampo Award (unsung-hero service).  Edited 15 posthumous issues of Bill Rotsler’s Masque. Our Gracious Host’s appreciation here. (Died 2016) [JH]
  • Born April 26 [Year unknown] – Miriam Lloyd.  Various fanzines under Goojie Publications as M. Dyches; Klein Bottle and Fanac as M. Carr with first husband Terry Carr; A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Poughkeepsie as M. Knight with second husband Jerry Knight; see here.  (Died 2020) [JH]
  • Born April 26, 1948 – Marta Randall, age 73.  Eight novels, a score of shorter stories.  Fanzine, Mother Weary.  Edited Nebula Awards 19, New Dimensions 11-13.  Interviewed in Lightspeed.  Toastmaster at Norwescon VII, Baycon ’87, Windycon XIII, ConFusion 14, Chicon IV & V the 40th and 49th Worldcons.  Master of Ceremonies at Con*Stellation V.  Pro Guest of Honor at ConClave VIII, WisCon 7, Lunacon 29.  First female President of SFWA (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America).  [JH]
  • Born April 26, 1952 Peter Lauritson, 69. Long involved with the Trek franchise starting with Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. He became the producer of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and supervising producer for Deep Space NineVoyager and Enterprise. He directed three episodes of those series, including the Hugo Award-winning “The Inner Light”, as well as being second unit director for two Trek films. (CE) 
  • Born April 26, 1955 – Brad W. Foster, age 66.  Widely-applauded fanartist.  Eight Hugos.  Chesley.  Rebel, Neffy (Nat’l Fantasy Fan Fed’n), Rotsler Awards.  Guest of Honor at ArmadilloCon 10, Loscon 18, Westercon 49, Norwescon XX, Conestoga 9, ReConStruction the 10th NASFiC (N. Amer. SF Con, since 1975 held when Worldcon is overseas), Sasquan the 73rd Worldcon.  [JH]
  • Born April 26, 1967 – Nicholas Whyte, age 54.  Hugo Administrator twice and still alive; at it again this year and Worldcon Site Selection too.  Dr Who fan which is less nearly unique.  Reads 200-300 books a year (“in non-plague times, I have a long commute”).  Announced as Fan Guest of Honour for Eastercon 72 (April 2022).  Helpful fan with catholic (I know I didn’t capitalize that, go look it up) taste.  [JH]
  • Born April 26, 1969 Gina Torres, 52.  The first thing I remember seeing her in was Cleopatra 2525 where she was Helen ‘Hel’ Carter. Her first genre was in the M.A.N.T.I.S. pilot as Dr. Amy Ellis, and she actually was in The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions as a character named Cas but I’ll frankly admit I remember almost nothing of those films. She’s had a number of DC voice roles including a recurring Justice League Unlimited run as Vixen / Mari McCabe. And of course Zoe in the Firefly verse. Lastly anyone remember her on the Angel series as Jasmine? (CE) 

(15) I’M JUST DREW THAT WAY. Daniel Dern found the excuse to give this item its title in io9’s production news roundup “Marvel She-Hulk Filming Pictures Sees Tatiana Maslany on Set”:

Tom Swift joins Nancy Drew in the synopsis for “The Celestial Visitor” airing May 12.

TIAN RICHARDS (“BURDEN,” “DUMPLIN”) GUEST STARS AS TOM SWIFT – As things begin to go haywire at The Claw, a striking stranger appears looking for Nancy (Kennedy McMann), and announces himself as the billionaire Tom Swift (guest star Tian Richards).

(16) BIG CHAP. Yahoo! Entertainment’s Ethan Alter discusses a rare find: “’Alien’ Day: The terrifying, long-lost Xenomorph prototype never before seen in public” – photos at the link.

Here’s an #AlienDay reveal that’ll make you happier than a long-haul space tug crew member headed back to Earth: A piece of ultra-rare Alien memorabilia that was blasted out of the airlock four decades ago has been salvaged and is now up for sale. On April 29, Julien’s Auctions is unveiling a long-lost early prototype of H.R. Giger’s classic Xenomorph design as the centerpiece attraction in a genre-themed “Hollywood Legends” auction. Known as “Big Chap,” this version of the franchise’s signature creature features a translucent design that’s distinctly different than the opaque acid-spitting monster we know and love. 

It should be noted that bidding on the Big Chap starts at $40,000. But you can get a closer look at the big guy for free courtesy of our exclusive virtual experience, which allows you to zoom in on Giger’s original vision for the Xenomorph, which evolved out of the Swiss artist’s pioneering “biomechanoid” designs. (Giger died in 2014.)

(17) WARP FACTORY. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Here is a ten-minute physics briefing on some recent research of SFnal relevance from the wonderful PBS Space Time: there are “NEW Warp Drive Possibilities”.

That Einstein guy was a real bummer for our hopes of a star-hopping, science-fiction-y future. His whole “nothing travels faster than light” rule seems to ensure that exploration of even the local part of our galaxy will be an excruciating slow. But Einstein also gave us a glimmer of hope. He showed us that space and time can be warped – and so the warp drive was conceived. Just recently, a couple of papers contend that these are not pure science fiction.

This briefing builds on another PBS Space Time video from five years ago that introduces the notion of an FTL warp drive asking “Is The Alcubierre Warp Drive Possible?” Since then it has racked up 2.4 million views.

Inspired by Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek, physicist Miguel Alcubierre set out to transform one of the cornerstones of science fiction iconography, the Warp Drive, into reality. But is it even possible? Can we “warp” the fabric of reality so that we can break the speed of light?

(18) THREE’S A CHARM. Ingenuity buzzes Mars again. CNN has the story — “Ingenuity Mars helicopter achieves fastest, farthest flight yet”.

… Ingenuity exceeded speeds and distances beyond what it proved capable of doing during testing on Earth before launching to Mars.

The helicopter flew at 1:31 a.m. ET, or 12:33 p.m. local Mars time. Data and imagery began streaming into the control room at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, at 10:16 a.m. ET Sunday. The Perseverance rover captured an image of the helicopter in flight and shared it shortly after.

(19) AND GNAW, THE GNEWS. Another Dern special, inspired by Gizmodo’s article “Beavers Take Down Canada Internet Service After Chewing Cables”.

…Tumbler Ridge, a tiny municipality in northeastern British Columbia with a population of about 2,000 people, lost service for roughly 36 hours in what Telus described as a “uniquely Canadian disruption!”

“Beavers have chewed through our fibre cable at multiple points, causing extensive damage,” said Telus spokesperson Liz Sauvé in an email to Gizmodo. “Our team located a nearby dam, and it appears the beavers dug underground alongside the creek to reach our cable, which is buried about three feet underground and protected by a 4.5-inch thick conduit. The beavers first chewed through the conduit before chewing through the cable in multiple locations.”

(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier Pitch Meeting” on Screen Rant, Ryan George explains that one character’s gratuitous dancing was put in the series “because people enjoyed memes of Thantos twerking.” This spoiler-filled video dropped today.

[Thanks to Tom Becker, Rich Lynch, John King Tarpinian, Daniel Dern, Mike Kennedy, JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Andrew Porter, Cat Eldridge, John Hertz, Gadi Evron, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jon Meltzer.]

2021 Oscar Awards

The 2021 Oscar winners were announced by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in a televised ceremony on April 25.

Winners of genre interest are named below. The complete list of winners is here.

ANIMATED FEATURE FILM

  • SOUL — Pete Docter and Dana Murray

MUSIC (ORIGINAL SCORE)

  • SOUL — Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross and Jon Batiste

VISUAL EFFECTS

  • Tenet — Andrew Jackson, David Lee, Andrew Lockley and Scott Fisher

Note: The telecast is still going on as this is posted, however, there are no genre nominees in the remaining categories.

2021 Oscar Nominees

Art by Krislam Chin

The 2021 Oscar nominees were announced by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on March 15.

Soul, Tenet, Mulan and Pinocchio, four sff films, received multiple nominations.

The awards will be presented in a televised ceremony on April 25.

Nominees of genre interest are listed below. The complete ballot is here.

  • Animated Feature Film

ONWARD
Dan Scanlon and Kori Rae

OVER THE MOON
Glen Keane, Gennie Rim and Peilin Chou

A SHAUN THE SHEEP MOVIE: FARMAGEDDON
Richard Phelan, Will Becher and Paul Kewley

SOUL
Pete Docter and Dana Murray

WOLFWALKERS
Tomm Moore, Ross Stewart, Paul Young and Stéphan Roelants

  • Costume Design

MULAN
Bina Daigeler

PINOCCHIO
Massimo Cantini Parrini

  • Makeup and Hairstyling

PINOCCHIO
Mark Coulier, Dalia Colli and Francesco Pegoretti

  • Music (Original Score)

SOUL
Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross and Jon Batiste

  • Production Design

TENET
Production Design: Nathan Crowley; Set Decoration: Kathy Lucas

  • Sound

SOUL
Ren Klyce, Coya Elliott and David Parker

  • Visual Effects

LOVE AND MONSTERS
Matt Sloan, Genevieve Camilleri, Matt Everitt and Brian Cox

THE MIDNIGHT SKY
Matthew Kasmir, Christopher Lawrence, Max Solomon and David Watkins

MULAN
Sean Faden, Anders Langlands, Seth Maury and Steve Ingram

THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN
Nick Davis, Greg Fisher, Ben Jones and Santiago Colomo Martinez

TENET
Andrew Jackson, David Lee, Andrew Lockley and Scott Fisher

2020 Oscar Winners

Joker kept genre from being shut out at the 2020 Academy Awards.

The Best Actor Award went to Joaquin Phoenix. In the process he became the second person to win an Oscar for playing comic book villain The Joker. Heath Ledger was the first, who posthumously won for playing Joker in The Dark Knight

The composer of Joker’s score, Hildur Gudnadóttir also won an Oscar. In accepting the award she said, “To the girls, to the women, to the mothers, to the daughters who hear the music bubbling within, please speak up. We need to hear your voices.”

The full list of winners follows the jump.

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