(1) 2022 HUGO WINNER GETS UNEXPECTED VAT BILL. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] My Hugo trophy saga continues, because I got an invoice today charging me import duties and VAT for my trophy. I’m kicking up a bit of a stink about this and tweeted at the German department of trade, because a Hugo trophy is not trade good and I have no idea why they charge me VAT (i.e. sales tax) for something that was not purchased. It’s not so much about the money — Chicon will reimburse me for the costs, but an all-volunteer non-profit organization shouldn’t have to pay import duties and German VAT either. Also, I strongly suspect that e.g. a German Oscar winner would not be charged for their trophy.
Anyway, here is my tweet (in German) to the department of trade. Any boosts would be appreciated.
(2) ARISTOTLE! Jason Ray Carney gives a TED Talk about pulp fiction, sword and sorcery, Robert E. Howard and the value of escapist literature: “The Value of Reading Fiction to Make the Present Less Real”.
(3) IT’S WEDNESDAY ON SATURDAY NIGHT. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Saturday Night Live featured Jenna Ortega (Wednesday) as the host. So, you know they had to slip in a couple of genre/related bits.
- “School vs. School”
(4) LIMELIGHT FOR FANZINES. Cora Buhlert has posted two more “Fanzine Spotlights.”
First: “Fanzine Spotlight: SMOF News”, Petréa Mitchell’s convention-oriented newsletter.
Tell us about your site or zine.
SMOF News is a weekly newsletter about geek-oriented fan conventions, published every Wednesday evening (Pacific time). A typical issue is divided into four parts:
1) The big news of the week, or, if there isn’t any, informational articles about various aspects of cons.
2) News in brief, for minor news and routine items like Convention Adds Guest, Fan Fund Opens Voting, or (sadly) Convention Goes on Indefinite Hiatus.
3) Worldwide convention listings for the next five weekends.
4) One interesting link which does not necessarily have anything to do with conventions.
The overall tone it aims for is “industry newsletter”.
The second is: “Fanzine Spotlight: Remembrance of Things Past and Future”, written and edited by Brian Collins.
… Tell us about your site or zine.
Remembrance of Things Past and Future is devoted to science fiction, fantasy, and horror as published in the magazines. The history of SF especially is tied to the long history of magazine publishing; some of the old classics of the genre spent years stuck inside brittle magazine pages before getting turned to books. It’s a rather niche criterion for what can be reviewed (a story must have been originally published or reprinted in a zine), but it’s at the same time wide-spanning. I could review a Robert E. Howard serial from 90 years ago and also Elizabeth Bear’s latest (and no doubt good) outing without crossing the streams, so to speak…
(5) NESFA SHORT STORY CONTEST, 2022-23. The 2022-2023 NESFA Short Story Contest winners were announced at Boskone 60 in February. Contest administrator Steve Lee says, “Getting recognition is the best reward for authors.” From the website of past winners:
- Winner: Amy Johnson of Somerville, MA for the story “Excuse Me, This is My Apocalypse”
- First runner-up: Dianne Lee of Chicago, IL for the story “The Gambler”
- Finalist: Chloe Oriotis of Toronto, Canada for the story “Mara’s Moon”
- Finalist: Gideon P. Smith of Winchester, MA for the story “To Look Upon the Face of God”
- Finalist: Lauren Zarama of Hopkinton, MA for the story “The Surrogate”
Lee says, “The winner’s story was accepted for publication online in Escape Pod a few months after submission.”
(6) IT IS YOUR DESTINY. OR MAYBE NOT. David M. de León discusses why multiverses are having a moment right now at The Yale Review: “All at Once, the Multiverse Is…”
…As sci-fi writer Ted Chiang has written, the rise of the multiverse represents a seismic change in narrative fiction. “For much of human history, stories reinforced the idea of fate,” Chiang argues. “They told us that events unfolded the way they did because of destiny or the will of God.” But the multiverse is not about destiny. Instead of showing how things must be, it imagines a place where all options are possible and equal, none better or more probable than the other, none more destined or fated….
(7) TODAY’S 10,000. I learned today from the LA Times, “Oscars: Real ‘Everything Everywhere All At Once’ laundromat” that the film was shot in a real laundromat about a mile from where I grew up. Though I’ve never been inside, I have been a customer at the family’s liquor store next door.
Majers Coin Laundry in San Fernando could be any Los Angeles-area laundromat.
It’s tucked between an auto repair shop and a mobile home park, its tall glass windows revealing vending machines stocked with M&M’s and bleach. Rows of metal carts line the front, where the wind occasionally blows them into the asphalt parking lot.
But there’s one detail that sets Majers apart from the competition: For six days in March 2020, this laundromat was home to Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert’s production of “Everything Everywhere All At Once,” now the front-runner for best picture and a host of other prizes at Sunday’s Academy Awards ceremony after sweeping top honors at the Directors, Producers, Writers and Screen Actors guild awards….
(8) HIDDEN AMPAS FIGURES. Variety explains the voting mechanism that determines “How Oscars Best Picture Winners Are Chosen”. Lots weirder than Hugo voting! (The article has today’s date, but discusses the computation that determines the finalists.) Here’s the first stage.
… Depending on how many voters participate this year, a mathematical formula determines what is needed to be a best picture nominee. For the sake of understanding, unless you’re John Nash (played by Russell Crowe in the Oscar-winner “A Beautiful Mind”), we’ll label this the “Best Picture Number,” or “BPN.” PwC oversees the entire process. After all the votes are cast, the BPN is determined by dividing the total number of ballots by 11, which is the number of available nominations plus one. Any film that receives an amount of No. 1 votes that surpasses the BPN is automatically a nominee. Believe it or not, based on how many films are released each year, there aren’t always many movies….
(9) FREE READ. Cora Buhlert has a new flash fiction story out as part of Wyngraf Magazine’s “cozy flash” fiction series. It’s called “Homecoming Gift”.
Prince Colwyn smiled as he stepped onto the pier in the harbour of Calfiris. It was good to be home.
The arrival of his ship the Sea Squall, now a lot more battered than when she had left three long years ago, had not gone unnoticed, and so a squad of guardsmen hastened down the pier to meet him….
(10) IT’S A HORROR. Guardian film critic Peter Bradshaw goes full-on KTF in “Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey review – cack-handed out-of-copyright horror”.
On the chill stroke of midnight, 31 December 2021, AA Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh went out of copyright and, like a demon from an open grave, a worryingly bad idea flew out into the world: a horror version of AA Milne’s Winnie the Pooh. Well, here it is, promising to do for Brit horror what Sex Lives of the Potato Men did for Brit comedy, with a terrifying combination of not-scary and not-funny, and a cast of Love Island types on Xanax apparently reading the dialogue off an optician’s chart held up behind the camera….
(11) ON THE FRONT. [Item by Patrick McGuire.] The Princeton alumni magazine has a rather sfnal cover relating to AI, including a picture of Asimov. It looks to me rather like something F&SF might have run as a cover, maybe in the 1950s. Of course, now that we’re here in The Future, one can argue that it’s no longer sfnal. Princeton Alumni Weekly, March 8, 2023.
(12) MEMORY LANE.
2019 – [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.] Marvin Lachman’s The Heirs of Anthony Boucher: A History of Mystery Fandom.
Our Beginning this Scroll is that of Marvin Lachman’s The Heirs of Anthony Boucher: A History of Mystery Fandom. Boucher’s Sunday mystery review column for the New York Times Book Review was the first such column for fans of that genre.
Boucher’s column inspired the first fan magazine, The Armchair Detective, and Boucher then enthusiastically encouraged it and reviewed it. Many say that the column itself led to the creation of mystery fandom.
It’s an amazing book (available at the usual suspects) that collects all of the columns that he wrote. As they’re not spoilers, I’ll give the full text of one such entry sans the wonderful photo of Len and June Moffatt that was with it.
JDM Bibliophile (1965–2004) A more hard-boiled writer than Patricia Wentworth became the subject of a fan magazine in March 1965 when Len and June Moffatt of Downey, California, first published the JDM Bibliophile (JDMB), devoted to the work of John D. MacDonald.
MacDonald starting writing for pulp magazines in 1946 during their waning days. He then switched to JDMB, a mimeographed magazine at the time, was described in its initial issue as a “non-profit amateur journal devoted to the readers of John D. MacDonald and related matters.” A goal was to obtain complete bibliographic information on all of MacDonald’s writings, and this was partly achieved with The JDM Master Checklist, published in 1969 by the Moffatts. They had help from many people, including MacDonald himself. Though he kept good records, he, like most authors, didn’t have complete publishing data on his own work. Especially helpful to the Moffatts were William J. Clark and another couple, Walter and Jean Shine of Florida. The Shines published an updated version of the Checklist in 1980, adding illustrations, a biographical sketch, and a listing of articles and reviews of MacDonald. JDMB offered news and reviews of MacDonald’s writings and their adaptation to various media. There were also contributions from MacDonald, including reminiscences and commentary. The Moffatts contributed a column (“& Everything”), as did the Shines (“The Shine Section”). Other JDM fans sent articles, letters, and parodies. One issue, #25 in 1979, included the Shines’ “Confidential Report, a Private Investigators’ File on Travis McGee,” describing information gleaned from the McGee canon about his past, interests, cases, and associates. MacDonald once said of Walter Shine, “He knows more about Travis than I do.”
After the Moffatts had published twenty-two issues of JDMB, it was transferred in 1979 to the University of South Florida in Tampa, with Professor Edgar Hirshberg as editor. It continued until 1999. One final issue, #65, was published as a memorial to Hirshberg who had died in June 2002. It was edited by Valerie Lawson. On February 21, 1987, about a hundred McGee fans gathered at his “address,” Slip F-18 at the Bahia Mar Marina in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where McGee kept his houseboat The Busted Flush. The mayor of Fort Lauderdale unveiled a plaque honoring McGee.
Now here’s the Beginning
All knowledge is contained in fandom.—Anthony Boucher
This history of mystery fandom is called The Heirs of Anthony Boucher because it was to Boucher that fans turned before “The Fan Revolution” was launched in 1967. There were fans before 1967, and I shall discuss them. However, it was in 1967 that the mystery developed a fandom that was not limited to specific authors or characters such as Sherlock Holmes.
Boucher was an excellent mystery writer, but he gave up writing novels—though he continued to write the occasional short story—to review mysteries for the San Francisco Chronicle in 1942. In 1951 he became the mystery critic for the New York Times Book Review. In addition, he reviewed for Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine. He was considered the outstanding reviewer of crime fiction in America and on three occasions received Edgars from Mystery Writers of America for his writing.
Boucher mentioned fan activities in his column, but there were few except for those involving Sherlock Holmes. Boucher reviewed what was perhaps the earliest general fan scholarship, A Preliminary Check List of the Detective Novel and Its Variants (1966), an annotated list of recommendations by Charles Shibuk. In 1966 Boucher also wrote of a bibliography of the works of John Dickson Carr, compiled by Rick Sneary of California.
(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born March 12, 1886 — Kay Nielsen. Though he’s best known for his work with Disney, for whom he did many story sketches and illustrations, not the least for Fantasia, and The Little Mermaid be it thirty years after his death, I’d be remiss not to note his early work illustrating such works as East of the Sun and West of the Moon, Hansel and Gretel and Andersen’s Fairy Tales. East of the Sun and West of the Moon is my favorite work by him. (Died 1957.)
- Born March 12, 1914 — John Symonds. Critic of Alistair Crowley who published four, yes four, books on him over a fifty-year period starting in the Fifties: The Great Beast, The Magic of Aleister Crowley, The King of the Shadow Realm and The Beast 666. Needless to say, the advocates of Crowley aren’t at all happy with him. Lest I leave you with the impression that was his only connection to our community, he was a writer of fantasy literature for children including the feline magical fantasy, Isle of Cats with illustrations by Gerard Hoffnung. (Died 2006.)
- Born March 12, 1925 — Harry Harrison. Best-known first I’d say for his Stainless Steel Rat and Bill, the Galactic Hero series which were just plain fun, plus his novel Make Room! Make Room! which was the genesis of Soylent Green. I just realized I’ve never read the Deathworld series. So how are these? (Died 2012.)
- Born March 12, 1933 — Myrna Fahey. Another who obviously died far too young, of cancer. Though best-known for her recurring role as Maria Crespo in Walt Disney’s Zorro, which I’ll admit is at best genre adjacent, she did have some genre roles in her brief life including playing Blaze in the Batman episodes of “True or False-Face” and “Holy Rat Race”. Her other genre appearances were only on The Time Tunnel and Adventures of Superman. (Died 1973.)
- Born March 12, 1933 — Barbara Feldon, 90. Agent 99 on the Get Smart series, who reprised her character in the TV movie Get Smart Again! (1989), and in a short-lived series in 1995 later also called Get Smart. Other genre credits include The Man from U.N.C.L.E. She didn’t have that much of an acting career though she was in the pilot of Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In. It amazing how many performers guested on that show.
- Born March 12, 1952 — Julius Carry. His one truly great genre role was as the bounty hunter Lord Bowler in The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. oh but what a role it was! Over the course of the series, he was the perfect companion and foil to Bruce Campbell’s Brisco County, Jr. character. He did have one-offs in The Misfits of Science, Earth 2, Tales from the Crypt and voiced a character on Henson’s Dinosaurs. (Died 2008.)
- Born March 12, 1955 — Jim Mann, 68. Living in the Pittsburgh area, a con-running fan who has worked on quite a few Boskones, chairing Boskone 25 and Boskone 47 as well being involved in Confluences and Worldcons. He’s edited quite a few books NESFSA, I’ll just single out Robert Bloch’s Out of My Head, Anthony Boucher’s The Compleat Boucher (which I highly recommended) and Cordwainer Smith’s The Rediscovery of Man.
- Born March 12, 1960 — Courtney B. Vance, 63. I know him best from Law & Order: Criminal Intent, in which he played A.D.A. Ron Carver, but he has some interesting genre roles including being Sanford Wedeck, the Los Angeles bureau chief of the FBI in the pilot of FlashForward, Miles Dyson: Cyberdyne Systems’ CEO who funds the Genisys project in Terminator Genisys, and The Narrator in Isle of Dogs. He had a recurring role in Lovecraft Country as George Freeman. He earned a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series nomination for that role.
(14) COMICS SECTION.
- Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal takes on time travel. Even Alfred Bester didn’t go this far.
(15) GAMERS BEWARE. A message from the Ukranian company GSC Game World Team warns about a Russian hacking incident against their work product S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2: Heart of Chernobyl.
(16) THE HIP BONE’S CONNECTED TO THE THIGH BONE. Galactic Journey’s installment “[March 12, 1968] Be Seeing You (The Prisoner)” begins with an overview by Kris Vyas-Myall, and concludes with this reaction by Fiona Moore:
…Lots of people who tuned in to The Prisoner and watched to the end are, apparently, disappointed. Those people are missing the point. The Prisoner isn’t a spy series, or an sf series, or a metaphor… and yet, it is all of those things. The Village is a real place… and yet it’s also a state of mind, a cloying conformity that, as the series itself demonstrates, could be found in London or the Wild West as much as in Portmeirion, where the series was actually filmed. The point many critics are missing is, The Prisoner is first and foremost a Rorshach test…..
(17) THE LAST SOVIET. In a twist, the podcast will be voiced by former *NSYNC member, Lance Bass, who trained as a cosmonaut himself. (Though he never made his trip due to funding falling through.) “A cosmonaut was stranded in space. Now a pop star tells the story.” at Mashable.
When a Russian spaceship docked as a lifeboat for three stranded men at the International Space Station in February, one may have wondered if Sergei Krikalev, heading the rescue mission, felt any deja vu.
If that name doesn’t ring a bell, he’s also sometimes known as “the last Soviet” for his more than 311 days spent in space as the Soviet Union collapsed 250 miles beneath him in 1991. He was only meant to be at the Mir station for five months. Instead, he remained for close to a year, never abandoning the outpost.
Today, Krikalev, the former cosmonaut, is the executive director of human spaceflight for the Russian space agency. That means it’s on his watch to make sure NASA astronaut Frank Rubio and cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitry Petelin get back home safely after their ship sprang a leak at the station in December 2022. The three marooned crew members were supposed to return this month. But their mission will now stretch for a year, until a new crew arrives to relieve them on a separate spacecraft in six months.
Krikalev’s story of being stranded in space is now getting a perhaps overdue spotlight with a new podcast series called “The Last Soviet.” And it’s being told by another cosmonaut, Lance Bass.
If that name doesn’t ring a bell, he’s also sometimes known as the other blond heartthrob in NSYNC. That’s right: the Lance Bass, who sang “Tearin’ up my heart” with JT, who had a cameo in Zoolander, a satire on the very serious ambitions of beautiful people….
(18) PUCKER UP AND… This is old news (September 2022), but if you haven’t seen it already, the video is interesting. This was an over-inflation-to-destruction test for a inflatable space habitat, so in this case “blow up” has a double meaning. “Why NASA blew up a space habitat in Texas” at Mashable.
When a future house for astronauts explodes, a celebration might seem inappropriate, but engineers at a commercial space company couldn’t be prouder of their shredded outer space house.
Sierra Space, working on one of three NASA contracts to develop commercial space stations, just completed something called the “Ultimate Burst Pressure” test on a mockup of its low-Earth orbit space dwelling. The LIFE habitat(Opens in a new tab), short for Large Inflatable Flexible Environment, could one day serve as rooms on Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin space station, Orbital Reef(Opens in a new tab). If all goes well, the companies hope to start building the station in 2026.
But first NASA has to run the structure through a gauntlet to ensure it’s safe for humans….
(19) AN AFFECTIONATE AUTOPSY. “’A Disturbance in the Force’ Review: Inside Star Wars Holiday Special” in Variety.
There are times when you look back at pop culture phenomena and can’t resist the urge to ask: Can you believe this actually happened? Tackling a notorious fiasco in one of the galaxy’s most popular franchises, Jeremy Coon and Steve Kozak’s amusing and exhaustive documentary ”A Disturbance in the Force” unpacks 1978’s “Star Wars Holiday Special.”
You don’t have to be an obsessive “Star Wars” fan to enjoy this behind-the-scenes look at how the special — which premiered Nov. 17, 1978 on CBS, and has never been re-run on any broadcast or cable outlet — came to exist. To be sure, the fans will appreciate it a lot more than casual viewers. But it’s also an irresistible hoot for anyone with fond memories of star-studded 1970s musical/variety TV specials — a specific type of highly popular general audience entertainment that, truth to tell, very often showcased more campy excess than anything in the “Star Wars Holiday Special.”…
Speaking of penny-pinching: You know that scene in which Bea Arthur flirts with what appears to be a large rat? The rodent’s head was recycled from a low-budget 1976 sci-fi melodrama, Bert I. Gordon’s “Food of the Gods.” No, really. Then as now, the show must go on.
(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. A trailer dropped for Marvel Studios’ Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 last month, but I think we haven’t linked to it yet. Written and directed by James Gunn. Only in theaters May 5.
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Patrick McGuire, Cora Buhlert, Jennifer Hawthorne, Hampus Eckerman, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]