Pixel Scroll 10/11/22 Make Room Party, Make Room Party

(1) YOU WILL SCORE BETWEEN ZERO AND 2001. [Item by David Goldfarb.] LearnedLeague just had a One-Day Special quiz on the movie and novel 2001: A Space Odyssey. You can find the questions here. Be warned that if you haven’t seen the movie and read the book recently, you’ll find it pretty hard!

(2) STILL CHECKING IN. Publishers’ suit against the Internet Archive over “Controlled Digital Lending” nearing final submission: “Publishers, Internet Archive Ready for Summary Judgment Hearing in Book Scanning Case” reports Publishers Weekly.

… In their third and final reply brief, attorneys for the publishers reiterate their position that, on both the facts and the law, there is no viable fair use defense for the IA’s scanning and lending program, labeling the Internet Archive a “commercial” actor and CDL “a cynical branding exercise designed to repackage industrial-scale copyright infringement as a legitimate enterprise.”

Furthermore, the publishers dismiss the IA’s contention that CDL guards against publishers choosing not to make digital books available to libraries as a “delusion” and credits the publishers with “pioneering” a “thriving” licensed access library e-book market for just such a purpose, to make digital books available to libraries.

“In the end, Internet Archive asks this Court to adopt a radical proposition that would turn copyright law upside down by allowing IA to convert millions of physical books into e-book formats and distribute them worldwide without paying rights holders,” the publisher brief states. “Since the purpose of copyright is to incentivize the creation of new works, authors and publishers—not IA—hold the exclusive right to publish their books in all formats and distribute them via select channels.”

In their brief, Internet Archive lawyers reiterate their arguments that their scanning and lending program is fair use—and that the evidence will show no harm to the publishers market.

“All CDL does, and all it can ever do, is offer a limited, digital alternative to physically handing a book to a patron. Libraries deciding how to meet their patrons’ needs for digital access to books are not making a choice between paying e-book licensing fees or getting books for free. Libraries pay publishers under either approach,” the IA brief states. But with CDL as an option, “librarians can continue to maintain permanent collections of books, to preserve those books in their original form for future generations, and to lend them to patrons one at time, as they have always done,” the brief adds, meaning that “librarians can continue to advance the ultimate purpose of copyright: ‘the intellectual enrichment of the public.’”

And in a twist, the IA brief concludes by citing two recent headlines. First up, a controversial decision by Wiley—one of the plaintiffs in the case—to pull digital library access to its textbooks just before the start of the academic year.

“When they returned to campus this fall, students at Georgetown, George Washington University, and the other members of the Washington Research Library Consortium found 1,379 books published by Plaintiff Wiley could no longer be borrowed in electronic form from those institutions’ libraries,” IA lawyers told the court. “They disappeared from those libraries’ virtual shelves because Wiley decided to stop licensing them to the academic library market as of August 31, 2022. And according to Plaintiffs’ theory in this case, that means libraries could not loan them out digitally at all.”

The brief notes that Wiley restored the titles for the academic year after a public backlash. “But the message was sent,” IA lawyers state. “The ability of libraries to serve their patrons is subject to publishers’ whims.”

And tapping another recent headline, IA lawyers quoted a recent open letter organized by digital advocates Fight for the Future and signed by more than 400 authors that expressed fear of a world in which “libraries are reduced to a sort of Netflix or Spotify for books.”

“That is what this case is about,” IA lawyers conclude. “Whether the selection of books available from libraries digitally will be chosen by librarians, or instead determined by publishers’ unilateral and unreviewable licensing choices. This Court is being asked to decide whether copyright law gives publishers the power to dictate which books in a library’s collection can and cannot be loaned digitally.”…

(3) AD ASTRA. The Space Review’s Jeff Foust reviews a book by a NASA project manager about whether interstellar travel is possible.“Review: A Traveler’s Guide to the Stars”.

Tucked away on the inside of the adapter that connects the Orion spacecraft to the upper stage of the Space Launch System are ten cubesats, patiently awaiting launch on the Artemis 1 mission. One of those ten is Near Earth Asteroid (NEA) Scout, a NASA cubesat that will, after deployment, unfurl a solar sail and use that to send the spacecraft on a flyby of a near Earth asteroid in two years. NEA Scout was intended as a technology demonstrator for larger solar sails, explained Les Johnson, principal investigator for the solar sail part of the mission at NASA Marshall, during a talk at the Conference on Small Satellites in Utah in August.

Johnson’s vision, though, goes far beyond solar sails for cubesats. He has been involved for more than two decades on efforts related to interstellar travel, dating back to managing a short-lived NASA project on interstellar propulsion at the turn of the century. “I became a convert” to the field by that time NASA ended that project, he writes in the preface of his new book, A Traveler’s Guide to the Stars. “I came to believe that going to the stars is something that can actually be done.”…

(4) MEMORY LANE.  

2017 [By Cat Eldridge.] Just five years ago, Thor: Ragnarok premiered on this date. So why is it getting essayed tonight? Well y’all did nominate it for a Hugo at Worldcon 76. Anything that gets nominated is probably going to get written up here. And I like the Thor films. Still don’t why they haven’t made a film for Throg yet. He’s so cool, isn’t he?

Ok, back to the film now which had nothing to do with Throg. I hope. It is the sequel to Thor and Thor: The Dark World. And it was, may Odin have mercy on us, the seventeenth MCU film. There have been twenty-seven films to date with a run time of about two hours and a quarter.  And yes this was in that ballpark.

It was directed by Taika Waititi, his first full length film for Marvel though he had done some shorter works including the Team Thor direct-to-video mockumentary short films. The script was written by Eric Pearson, Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost —all three not surprisingly are heavily involved in MCU film production undertakings. 

I won’t detail the cast or the story as y’all with impeccable taste nominated for a Hugo at WorldCon 76 though it lost out to Wonder Woman.

Though it was expensive production at one eighty million, partly due to being done  entirely in Queensland, that in the end didn’t matter as the box office was eight hundred and fifty million dollars. That of course doesn’t count streaming and disc sales. 

Critical reception was, shall we say, fantastic. They all liked the light, over-the-top feel, with Hollywood Reporter noting “even the story’s central bad guys having silly fun, hammed to the hilt by Cate Blanchett and Jeff Goldblum.” And the San Francisco Chronicle reviewer said that the film “has confidence in its characters and in its own invention, and so it avoids repetition and stays fresh.” 

Rotten Tomatoes gives it a thunderous eighty-seven rating among audience reviewers. 

(5) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 11, 1944 Patrick Parrinder, 78. I’ve a soft spot for the academics who plow our fields. This one settled upon H. G. Wells starting with H. G. Wells and H. G. Wells: The Critical Heritage nearly forty years ago all the way to H. G. Wells’s Perennial Time Machine that he wrote with Danièle Chatelain and George E. Slusser. 
  • Born October 11, 1960 Nicola Bryant, 62. Well known for her role as Perpugilliam “Peri” Brown, a companion to both the Fifth and Sixth Doctors. She also worked in “The Two Doctors” story so she appeared with the Second Doctor as well. Of course she’s done Big Finish Doctor Who audio dramas. Not to mention Trek fan fic as Lana in Star Trek Continues.
  • Born October 11, 1964 Michael J. Nelson, 58. Best known for his work on Mystery Science Theater. He was the head writer of the series for most of the show’s original eleven-year run, and spent half of that time as the on-air host. Bad genre films were a favorite target of him and his companions. Not that they don’t deserve it. 
  • Born October 11, 1965 Sean Patrick Flanery, 57. I really do think that his best work was on The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles and the films that followed. It certainly wasn’t as Bobby Dagen in Saw: The Final Chapter, a film best forgotten. (It gets a forty-one percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes, much better than I expected.) He appeared as Jake Greyman in Demon Hunter, another low budget horror film, and as John in The Evil Within. I see a pattern…
  • Born October 11, 1972 Nir Yaniv, 50. Author, editor, musician, and filmmaker. He founded a webzine for the Israeli Society for Science Fiction & Fantasy.  Currently, he’s the chief editor of Chalomot Be’aspamia, Israel’s only professionally printed genre magazine. His short fiction has appeared in Weird TalesApex Magazine and The Best of World SF. He co-wrote The Tel Aviv Dossier with Lavie Tidhar. 
  • Born October 11, 1972 Claudia Black, 50 . Best known for being Aeryn Sun in Farscape, Vala Mal Doran in Stargate SG-1 and Sharon “Shazza” Montgomery in Pitch Black. She also had a recurring role as Dahlia in The Originals and starred as Dr. Sabine Lommers in The CW’s Containment series.
  • Born October 11, 1976 Emily Deschanel, 46. Temperance “Bones” Brennan in Bones which crossed over with Sleepy Hollow twice (she visited the latter once) and she had a bit part on Spider-Man 2. More notably she was Pam Asbury in Stephen King’s Rose Red series. More notably she was Pam Asbury in Stephen King’s Rose Red series. Actually the forensic science on Bones is genre, isn’t it? 

(6) COMICS SECTION.

  • Eek! features a very catty comment.

(7) DC UPS THEIR STREAMING DIGITAL COMICS OFFERING. [Item by Daniel Dern.] Hot off the main web site.

—OK, here’s the info from DC—

DC UNIVERSE INFINITE is getting even better with the introduction of the brand-new ULTRA tier launching today! DC UNIVERSE INFINITE ULTRA subscribers will be able to read the latest releases from DC just one month after they are available in comic shops. Starting today, ULTRA tier members can read titles like Black Adam #1-4, Batman: Beyond the White Knight #1-4, Flashpoint Beyond #1-5, The Nice House on the Lake #1-9, and much, much more!

Plus, starting in mid-November, ULTRA subscribers can also read more than 5,000 exclusive titles from Vertigo, DC Black Label and Collected Editions from DC including Sandman Presents: Dead Boy Detectives, 100 Bullets, and American Vampire, and more.

ULTRA tier is available for a special limited-time introductory price of $99.99 USD a year in the US, $119.99 CAN in Canada, $134.99 AUD in Australia, $134.99 NZD in New Zealand and £72.99 BPS in the U.K., plus applicable taxes. The introductory pricing rate is available until November 28, 2022, and remains valid as long as your ULTRA Annual  subscription is in good standing and you do not cancel. Current DC UNIVERSE INFINITE subscribers can upgrade their monthly and annual subscriptions to ULTRA.

— and here’s the bullet-list version, via https://www.dc.com/ultra 

ENJOY THE BENEFITS OF YOUR DC UNIVERSE INFINITE ULTRA MEMBERSHIP!

• SPECIAL LIMITED-TIME INTRODUCTORY PRICE* ($99 a year in the US, $119.99 CAN in Canada, $134.99 AUD in Australia, $134.99 NZD in New Zealand and £72.99 BPS in the U.K.)

• Comics library expands from 27000 to 32000+ books by mid-November 2022 accessible anytime anywhere

• New comics available just 30 days after print release

• Expanded Vertigo and Black Label and DC Collected Edition catalogs available only with Ultra membership starting in mid-November 2022

• Free DC collectible comic exclusive to Ultra subscribers***

• Access to Ultra member-only events and discounts

• 7-day FREE trial**

Dern notes, the current DC Universe offering is $74.99/year or $7.99/month, so an affordable bump (particularly if I sign up soon.)

Dern also notes:

I’ve been on DCUniverse since it started (originally, to watch Doom Patrol and Titans, which are now instead on HBO Max). I continue to enjoy reading the not-quite-new comics (having an iPad Pro 12.9″ helps!).

That said, (a) there seems like a lot of DC comics that don’t get ever get posted (I could be wrong), and (b) DC has, over the past year, like Marvel, gone to a lot of work to make search/back-issue much worse, grumble. Still, for (DC) comic readers, a deal that can’t be beat.

IGN also says: “DC Universe Infinite Adds ‘Ultra’ Subscription Tier With 5000 More Comics”.

DC is also making one addition to the service [including the existing level] that will be available to all subscription types. YA graphic novels like Teen Titans: Beast Boy Loves Raven and Nubia: Real One, as well as 100 classic issues of MAD Magazine, are live now on the app.

DPD comments, These YA graphic novels are quite good. (There’s a bunch already available via HooplaDigita..com, so, free if you’ve got a card for a Hoopla-using public library.)

Also, there’s a physical annual freebie. Via Graphic Policy: “NYCC 2022: DC announces DC Universe Infinite Ultra”.

Ultra subscribers will be eligible to receive one free physical comic book (based on availability) when they subscribe, upgrade or renew their membership.

[more pricing deets]

The introductory pricing rate is available until November 28, 2022, and remains valid as long as your Ultra Annual subscription is in good standing and you do not cancel. Current DC Universe Infinite subscribers can upgrade their monthly and annual subscriptions to Ultra.

(8) READING RECOMMENDATIONS. In Joe Stech’s latest “Compelling Science Fiction Newsletter” he ranks and reviews the top 5 out of the 26 stories he read that were published in August. Curious what is number one on his list? Click the link!

(9) TUNE IN. Otto Penzler of The Mysterious Bookshop in New York will be on ABC’s Good Morning America on Thursday.

(10) LOVE IS LOVELIER THE FOURTH TIME AROUND. Camestros Felapton finds a few things to like in spite of it all: “Review: The Matrix Resurrections”.

…There are no new big ideas in this fourth film and the signature effects and visual style have become cliches in the meantime. However, there are a number of things to like about the film. The first and most obvious is that it is fun to through Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss back into their roles. Gen-X nostalgia is part of what the film is offering, a film made by mid-1960s babies for the same….

(11) POIROT AND COMPANY. It’s not that Tina Fey can’t act, it’s that I’ve seen her in so many modern comedies that it will seem strange to see her in a period mystery. “Kenneth Branagh’s Third Hercule Poirot Film ‘A Haunting in Venice’ Casts Tina Fey, Jamie Dornan, Michelle Yeoh and More” at Variety.

…Set in post-WWII Venice on All Hallows’ Eve, the film follows another mystery featuring the celebrated sleuth Poirot. Inspired by Christie’s “Hallowe’en Party,” the now retired and living in self-imposed exile Poirot reluctantly attends a séance at a haunted palazzo when one of the guests is murdered, and the former detective must once again find out who did it….

(12) HANDMADE, GET IT? Food & Wine admires the results when “Martha Stewart Collaborates with Liquid Death Water on New Candle”.

… “I recently heard about an interesting new beverage company called Liquid Death,” Stewart says in a gleefully gory promo video. “Together we teamed up to create an utterly delightful candle. A lot of people are asking me how we made them so realistic. Well, it’s not easy: each one is made by hand.”…

(13) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Game Trailers: Shovel Knight Dig,” Fandom Games says this game is the latest in a retro franchise that tries to duplicate the 16-bt games of 30 years ago.  But to help the guy finish his dig before he faces “the buzz saw of death” you’ll have to buy lots of stuff–so much that this game has a “trickle-down economy.”  “You want A material, you’ll have to pay for it,” the narrator says.

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

Pixel Scroll 10/11/19 Keep Them Pixels Scrollin’, Though The Files Are Swollen, Five-Hide!

(1) WHAT YOUNG PEOPLE THINK OF MACLEAN. James Davis Nicoll’s Young People Read Old SFF returns with the panel’s responses to “Unhuman Sacrifice” by Katherine MacLean. Mikayla and the other young hands weigh in.

Katherine MacLean (1925 – 2019) was active as a short story writer mainly in the 1950s (although pieces appeared as late as 1997) and as a novelist mainly in the 1970s. Her Second Game saw her a Hugo finalist in 1959; Missing Man won a Nebula in 1972. Rediscovery offers MacLean’s “Unhuman Sacrifice”, an uplifting tale of a human missionary convinced he knows best for a community of just-contacted aliens. No doubt it can only end well.

The plan for this phase of Young People was to shift to a conversation-based format, using Slack to facilitate discussion. I then sabotaged this by getting sick the week the reviews came in. Ah, well. Next time it will all work swimmingly.

(2) MANY CHEFS. Daniel Brotzel’s SFWA Blog post “Collaboration” includes this advice for making it work:

…Writing a book with someone else can be a nightmare or it can be pure pleasure. In our case, lots of things fell into place almost by accident, things which I can now see are essential to making a collaboration work. These include:

• a shared passion for the project and the idea
• mutual respect for each other’s writing and ideas
• a practical way of working that can accommodate everyone’s schedules and constraints
• a willingness to set egos aside and make compromises for the good of the project (and the ultimate benefit of the reader)
• an attitude that embraces sharing and the ambition to see things through
• a good blend of the skills and capabilities that you to get a book off the ground – and beyond

(3) ANIMANIACS. SYFY Wire confirms the Animaniacs Cast Will All Return”.

Almost a full year ago we found out that the Animaniacs will be revived on Hulu with Steven Spielberg executive producing. And that was pretty exciting. But the larger question hung in the air: What about the original cast?

Well you can breath easy: They’re all back. Yes, Rob Paulsen, Jess Harnell, Tress MacNeille, and Maurice LaMarche are all returning to the fold. Or the water tower, I guess. It’s a massive relief. It’s not that animated characters can’t be recast, it’s just that these specific actors are, frankly, a pure distillation of so many childhoods that it would be a shame if they weren’t all returning to Animaniacs. Hooray! Everyone likes good news!

(4) WHO’S AFRAID OF THE BIG BAD AMAZON? amNY reveals “The secret to The Mysterious Bookshop’s 40-plus years of success”.

…Book clubs also keep loyal readers inspired, including a Book of the Month subscription that includes a signed first edition of the shop’s choosing and an unclassifiable club that includes books that do not fall into the traditional mystery genre. For example, Rob Hart’s “The Warehouse,” which takes place in a near-future dystopian world where a company has become a totalitarian force, would not traditionally be shelved in a bookstore’s mystery section, but has been extremely popular in The Mysterious Bookshop.

Speaking of corporate monopolies, Penzler isn’t fearful of big box competitors.

“We can compete with Amazon because they don’t offer signed books,” he says. “I shouldn’t say that so loudly because they’ll probably do it, but every mystery writer comes to sign at our store. Half of books sold are signed and we don’t charge more for them!”

(5) ONE IS ENOUGH. NPR’s Mark Jenkins pans both performances: “Clone Gunman: Will Smith Vs. Will Smith In Sluggish, Sterile ‘Gemini Man'”.

Long before digital imaging, German philosopher Walter Benjamin opined that reproductions of artworks lacked the “aura” of the original. But what about reproductions of people? To judge by Will Smith’s double act in Gemini Man, the forerunner can be just as lacking as the copy.

Conceived more than 20 years ago as a Tony Scott-directed action flick, Gemini Man eventually fell to Ang Lee, who has recently shown more interest in cinematic technology than storytelling. Once a versatile stylist, the Taiwan-born director of The Life of Pi now seems consumed by advances in CGI. His latest trick, casting Will Smith against a digitally backdated version of himself, can’t save this movie from being bland, sluggish, and sentimental.

…There’s something else that Gemini Man shares with The Da Vinci Code: clunky dialogue. Credited to three writers but reportedly the work of many more, the movie’s script offers a preposterous scenario that might have been finessed by visual and verbal wit. It has little of either….

(6) THE NEED FOR SPEED. Leonard Maltin, on the other hand, was won over by the technical virtuosity as he says in the beginning of his review “Gemini Man: Two Will Smiths For The Price Of One”.

I was wary approaching Gemini Man, which I saw at 120 frames per second (about four times normal film speed) in 3-D. I got a headache the last time I watched a high-frame-rate feature but I came away from this film a believer. Director Ang Lee is trailblazing new territory, as he did in Billy Lynn’s Halftime Walk, but this time he has a highly enjoyable, action-packed story and a perfect star in Will Smith. The entertainment value is high and cutting-edge technology organically suits the content….

(7) INSIDE THE CANISTER. Alasdair Stuart says this is what readers of “The Full Lid 11th October 2019” have in store:

This week’s Full Lid soars above London with the parkour and violence enthusiasts of the Assassins Creed Symphony! Then I’m off to Sheffield to discover my new favorite poem at an event that celebrates science and art and where they mix. This piece genuinely left me speechless and I’ve been riding an endorphin wave from being able to see it all week.

Finally, I take a look at Swedish SF movie Aniara, adapting the epic poem and Horror Christmas reaches The Silence of the Lambs. If you like what you read, please share and subscribe and I’ll see you next week. Happy Friday, everyone!

(8) PEN OUT LOUD. In a wide-ranging conversation with author Marlon James, acclaimed writer and former PEN America President Salman Rushdie previewed his latest novel Quichotte, a modern take on Miguel de Cervantes’ 17th-century novel Don Quixote, at a PEN Out Loud evening in New York City. There’s also a transcript at the link: “Salman Rushdie and Marlon James Discuss Language, Reality, and Nostalgia at PEN Out Loud”.

RUSHDIE: Intimate, but you know, [English is] not my mother tongue. That’s to say. I grew up in a kind of environment in India where everybody’s kind of multilingual because you have to be. But basically the language we spoke at home was mostly not English, mostly Urdu. But I went to what they call an English medium school. So when I went to school, I was being taught in English. So I grew up more or less bilingual. One of the reasons that I never make a spelling mistake is because I had to learn the language. People who just have the language very often can’t spell.

JAMES: Yes, when you said that, I heard my high school teacher in the back of my head going “dot your i’s, cross your t’s, and leave a full stop by the end of every single sentence.”

RUSHDIE: Yes, exactly. We got taught that shit.

JAMES: Yes, but I remember for a long time my biggest struggle with writing in English is, I would put something down, or I’ll speak, and it took me a while to realize I sounded like the butler.

RUSHDIE: Like a butler?

JAMES: Yeah. Like it was a very colonial English.

RUSHDIE: Like Jeeves.

JAMES: Yeah.

RUSHDIE: I can’t imagine you writing, the books you’ve written, as if you were Jeeves.

JAMES: I’m telling you, I used to use shit like “betwixt.”

(9) LEONOV OBIT. Cosmonaut Alexei Leonov, the first to walk in space, died at the age of 85 on October 11. CollectSpace paid tribute:

…Selected alongside Yuri Gagarin among the first 20 Soviet Air Force pilots to train as cosmonauts in 1960, Leonov flew twice into space, logging a total of 7 days and 32 minutes off the planet.

Launched on Voskhod 2, the world’s 17th human spaceflight, on March 18, 1965, Leonov made history as the first person to exit his spacecraft for an extravehicular activity (EVA).

“The Earth is round!” he exclaimed, as he caught his first view of the world. “Stars were to my left, right, above and below me. The light of the sun was very intense and I felt its warmth on the part of my face that was not protected by a filter,” said Leonov in a 2015 interview with the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) on the 50th anniversary of his spacewalk.

The New York Times obituary tells how that mission was almost fatal for Leonov:

…What Mr. Leonov did not reveal until many years later was that he and his fellow cosmonaut, Pavel I. Belyayev, who was also an Air Force pilot, were fortunate to have survived.

Mr. Leonov’s specially designed suit had unexpectedly inflated during his walk, and its bulk was preventing him from getting back inside the Voskhod.

“I knew I could not afford to panic, but time was running out,” he recalled in the book “Two Sides of the Moon” (2004), written with the astronaut David Scott, about their experiences in space.

Mr. Leonov slowly deflated the suit by releasing oxygen from it, a procedure that threatened to leave him without life support. But with the reduced bulk, he finally made it inside.

“I was drenched with sweat, my heart racing,” he remembered.

But that, he added “was just the start of dire emergencies which almost cost us our lives.”

The oxygen pressure in the spacecraft rose to a dangerous level, introducing the prospect that a spark in the electrical system could set off a disastrous explosion or fire.

It returned to a tolerable level, but the cosmonauts never figured out the reason for the surge.

When it came time for the return to Earth, the spacecraft’s automatic rocket-firing system did not work, forcing the cosmonauts to conduct imprecise manual maneuvers during the descent that left them in deep snow and freezing temperatures in a remote Russian forest, far from their intended landing point.

(10) PITTS OBIT. The SFWA Blog noted the death of J.A. Pitts:

SFWA member John A. Pitts died on October 3 from amyoidosis.  Pitts began publishing short fiction in 2006 with “There Once Was a Girl from Nantucket (A Fortean Love Story),” co-written with Ken Scholes.  He went on to write several short stories on his own and in 2010 began publishing novels under the name J.A. Pitts with Black Blade Blues, the first novel in his series about Sarah Beauhall.

(11) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • October 11, 1957 The Black Scorpion debuted. Starring Richard Denning, Mara Corday and Carlos Rivas, Rotten Tomatoes gave it a 33% rating. Mystery Science Theater 3000, well, see for yourself here what they thought of it. 

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • October 11, 1921 Linda Stirling. Sheila Layton in the 1945 The Purple Monster Strikes serial, also known as D Day on Mars. The sequel to this serial was the 1950 Flying Disc Man from Mars, which simply recycled much of the footage from the original. (Died 1997.)
  • October 11, 1940 Caroline John. Liz Shaw, companion to the Third Doctor. Shaw was a brilliant scientist, unusual for a companion. She returned for The Five Doctors. And she would reprise her character in the Big Finish audio works. Later she played the role of Laura Lyons in the BBC adaptation of The Hound of the Baskervilles, opposite Tom Baker as Holmes. (Died 2012.)
  • October 11, 1960 Nicola Bryant, 59. Well known for her role as Perpugilliam “Peri” Brown, a companion to both the Fifth and Sixth Doctors. She also worked in “The Two Doctors” story so she appeared with the Second Doctor as well. Of course she’s done Big Finish Doctor Who audio dramas.
  • October 11, 1965 ?Sean Patrick Flanery, 54. I really think that his best work was on The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles and the films that followed. 
  • October 11, 1972 ?Claudia Black, 47. Best known for being Aeryn Sun in Farscape, Vala Mal Doran in Stargate SG-1 and Sharon “Shazza” Montgomery in Pitch Black. She also had a recurring role as Dahlia in The Originals and starred as Dr. Sabine Lommers in The CW’s Containment series.
  • October 11, 1976 Emily Deschanel, 43. Temperance “Bones” Brennan in Bones which crossed over with Sleepy Hollow twice (she visited the latter once) and she had a bit part on Spider-Man 2. More notably she was Pam Asbury in Stephen King’s Rose Red series. 
  • October 11, 1985 Michelle Trachtenberg, 34. Dawn, one of the most annoying characters in television ever, on Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

(13) NANCY. A Slate Q&A with Olivia Jaimes reveals “Nancy’s Artist Revived an 80-Year-Old Comic Strip by Writing Fan Fiction”

Matthew Phelan: Is working with someone else’s characters emotionally freeing? Or do you feel an intense, world-historic duty to do justice to classic Nancy

Olivia Jaimes: It feels like I’m writing Nancy fan fiction, which is very freeing. I’ve said the same thing to my editor before, and she’s gently broken it to me that my Nancies are canon, but fan fiction is what it feels like nonetheless. Maybe what I mean by this is that I feel comfortable transforming the strip in ways that suit me because I trust readers to know “the rules” of transformative works like fan fiction. It’s your take on characters that are shared by everyone. You’re not trying to pass seamlessly as the original author; you’re stretching and bending the original work to make it say what you want it to say.

(14) FLASH REFERENCES FLASH. [Item by Daniel Dern.] Am I the only one who (a) couldn’t tell what the words were, in the episode, (b) wouldn’t have recognized this as a Queen tune, even if I had, nor necessarily which movie it was from, (c) don’t mind, since, if nothing else, Cisco (formerly “Vibe”) had “been waiting for the perfect moment to use it, and Caitlin (aka Killer Frost) recognized it. Io9’s James Whitbrook’s episode recap The Flash Finally Did It” explains:

… And, via Cisco, The Flash finally, finally does something that is incredibly goofy, completely rad, and something it has simply been yearning to do since it first began: Cisco taps a key on STAR Labs’ sound system.

And Queen’s Flash Gordon theme starts playing.

It’s so dumb. It’s so good. It is, as Cisco argues, the perfect moment to deploy the 1980 classic. You don’t care that the black hole CG comes with all the questionable success CW-budget computer effects usually bring. You don’t care that this has been, otherwise, a pretty humdrum episode of The Flash, and weirdly low key for a season premiere. This is what this show has always been, and hopefully always will be, about: embracing the sheer, kinetic, camp audacity of superhero comics and just having an absolute whale of a time while doing so.

(15) SAILOR SHIPPING OVER. ScienceFiction.com says “Sailor Moon Is Returning To The Big Screen In 2020 In ‘Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon Eternal’”.

(16) GAMES TRANSFORMED TO NARRATIVES. “Ubisoft Planning Animated TV Adaptations of Popular Game Franchises”The Hollywood Reporter has the story.

Video game giant Ubisoft is getting cartoonish.

The Paris-based company’s film and television division is developing a slate of animated series inspired by its existing IP. First up: a Mars-set Rabbids Invasion special, after four successful seasons of the France 3/Netflix/Nickelodeon kids show. Other family-friendly programs in the works include a comedy-adventure inspired by the popular Rayman franchise and Hungry Shark Squad, based on the mobile game Hungry Shark.

… For slightly older viewers, Ubisoft is toning down its M-rated Watch Dogs action-adventure franchise for a tamer “cybermystery” aimed at tweens. The show centers on a teenaged “super hacker” who solves crimes in her high school.

(17) CHINA’S PROXY CENSOR. Zack Beauchamp, in “One of America’s Biggest Gaming Companies Is Acting As China’s Censor” on Vox, says that Activision Blizzard banned Chung Ng Wa, who plays as “Blitzchung,” after he won a Hearthstone Grandmasters tournament and then put on goggles and a face mask and said, “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our time.”

On Tuesday, Blizzard came down hard on Chung. In an official statement on Hearthstone’s blog, the company announced that it would be suspending Chung for a year, forcing him to forfeit thousands of dollars in prize money from 2019 and firing the casters (commentators) who conducted the interview.

This is a big deal.

Blizzard, who created (among other things) World of Warcraft, is a massive company. It brought in about $7.5 billion in revenue in 2018. Like the NBA, which has rebuked the Houston Rockets’ general manager over a pro-Hong Kong tweet, Blizzard is not merely trying to operate within the confines of Chinese censorship but acting as its agent.

(18) HEY, THE TIMING IS NOT THE ROBOT’S FAULT. “Istanbul Airport Robot Has A Message for You!” on YouTube describes the friendly robots helping passengers at Istanbul Airport.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Daniel Dern, James Davis Nicoll,. Mike Kennedy, Michael Toman, John A Arkansawyer, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Rob Thornton.]

Ted White, Mystery Writer

By Ted White: As you may or may not know, I’ve written some SF in recent years, having several stories in F&SF and Analog.  But one story, which I wrote in 2013, remained unsold for several years, until Gordon Van Gelder asked to see it again.  He’d rejected it from F&SF soon after I’d written it, but he remembered it (always a good sign), and wanted to see it for an anthology he was putting together.  And he bought it for his book, Welcome To Dystopia, published last year.

The book got good reviews (Gordon passes them all on to us), and my story, “Burning Down the House,” was even singled out (favorably) in several.  But it’s a fat book, and my story starts in the 200s, page-wise, so I was expecting nothing more.

I was wrong.  Recently I received an email with the heading “CONGRATULATIONS” from Otto Penzler.  Otto is a Major Force in the mystery field, and owns The Mysterious Press.  He informed me that my story “has been selected for inclusion in the 23rd edition of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s The Best American Mystery Stories 2019.”

I have no idea why anyone searching for the best mystery stories of the year would have been reading a dystopian SF anthology, but I’m grateful it happened, and pleased that my story stood out and was selected.  (I take it as a credit for writing a vivid story, which can be read, I guess, as a mystery story as well as SF.)

The book will be out this fall, and once again my story will be in the 200s — pages 282 through 303 (I’ve seen proofs), and I’m quietly proud.

I always wanted to be a mystery writer….


New York Times best-selling author of ten genre-bending novels Jonathan Lethem helms this collection of the year’s best mystery short fiction.  Publisher: Mariner Books (October 1, 2019)