Pixel Scroll 6/13/22 Life’s Like A Pixel; Scroll Your Own Ending

(1) NOT QUIET ON THE BOOKSTORE FRONT. Sergej Sumlenny tweeted a long thread about “How [the] Russian book market prepared Russians for a full-scale war against Ukraine, NATO, the West, and promoted stalinism and nazism, and how this was ignored by the West.” Thread starts here. Some excerpts:

(2) THE BUZZ. Sam Stone returns an enthusiastic verdict on “Pixar’s Lightyear” at CBR.com. If it has a fault, it’s that the movie doesn’t swing for the fences as hard as it should.

… The animation team similarly pulls out all the stops to make Lightyear a memorable sci-fi film, with a visual style that feels very much its own thing compared with the Toy Story movies while retaining that sense of familiarity. Drawing from a whole line of sci-fi influences, Lightyear evokes the sensibilities of classic ’80s sci-fi cinema, from the Space Rangers’ tech and vehicles to the creepy extraterrestrials prowling the planet where Buzz and his friends have crashed. With its time-bending concepts and a genuine sense of heart, Lightyear earns its place among that pantheon of great science fiction….

(3) WHO LEFT THE GRAVITY TURNED ON? [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] I’m up to February 2019 in my New Yorkers (you may report me to the magazine control board!) but I thought this Talk Of The Town piece was interesting: “When ‘Spaceman’ Came Crashing Down to Earth”.

… On February 22nd of last year, “Spaceman” made its début at the Wild Project, an eighty-nine-seat theatre in the East Village. The set was a room-size contraption made of welded steel and Plexiglas, fitted with buzzers and keyboards and a chair that spins on a truss. The production simulated zero gravity using low-light effects and a puppeteer. After the show, Treadway, feeling good about the performance, came out for a bow in her spacesuit. As she walked off the stage, she tripped over a speaker. She broke her fall with her arms, then popped back up and made a “clumsy old me” face.

“Then I walked backstage and was, like, whoa,” she recalled. “I realized I couldn’t even take my costume off.” Stevens helped her change clothes, and they took an Uber to a clinic in Red Hook. The doctor informed Treadway that she had broken both elbows and her left wrist. (“The woman at physical therapy said it’s an injury that a lot of break dancers have,” she said.) She would need hard casts for a week, and then splints. They would have to cancel the entire three-week run. Stevens recalled, “The next morning, I’m drafting an e-mail to everybody telling them the news, and I’m looking through all these e-mails from people saying, ‘Break a leg!’ ” He laughed ruefully. “I never want to hear that phrase again.”…

(4) THE DOOR INTO MUMMER. FirstShowing.net introduces a “Fun Trailer for Aliens vs Swordsmen Epic Sci-Fi ‘Alienoid’ from Korea”.

“How long do we have to stay on Earth?” CJ Entertainment in Korea has revealed the first international trailer for an epic sci-fi movie called Alienoid. Actually it’s two movies! This “Part 1” will be out in July in Korea, though no US date is set yet. During the Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392), Taoists try to take a mysterious holy sword. Meanwhile in present day (in 2022), aliens appear on Earth. A time door soon connects the late Goryeo period and the present day. The two parties cross paths when a time-traveling portal opens, causing chaos and confusion…. 

(5) AIYEE! SYFY Wire promises these are “The Star Trek movies’ 12 most disturbing moments”. First on the list:

1. RANDOM TRANSPORTER ACCIDENT (STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE

Here’s one way to get rid of a science officer. Sonak is a Vulcan prepped to take the place of Spock at the start of the first Star Trek movie. His tenure in the position is quite short. Thanks to a random transporter malfunction, he (and the person he transports over to the Enterprise with) dies a gruesome death. 

Transporter malfunctions happen all the time, but this is not “The Next Phase” or “Tuvix.” These two people are dead, and it looks (and sounds) horrific. What little of them is recovered does not last long. That’s what Admiral Kirk is told, anyway. 

People make light of McCoy not wanting to use the transporter a little later in the movie, but after this? Damn right he shouldn’t use it, especially since the accident was so random and is never really addressed. It’s not a transporter, it’s a character killer. What did Sonak ever do to deserve it? Highly illogical and highly disturbing. 

(6) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1980 [By Cat Eldridge.] Forty-two years ago, a rather charming film premiered in syndication this evening as produced by Paramount. The Girl, The Gold Watch & Everything was based on the novel of the same name by John D. MacDonald who of course did the Travis McGee series. I know it watched it and I know I liked even four decades on.

It was written by George Zateslo who hadn’t written anything prior to this save an episode of CHIPS. After writing this, he’d write the script for the sequel, The Girl, the Gold Watch & Dynamite

The two cast members to note here are Robert Hays as Kirby Winter and Pam Dawber as Bonny Lee Beaumont. That because the story is — SPOILER ALERT — rather a thin SF plot involving a young male who inherits a gold watch that inherits from his millionaire uncle a gold watch that has the power to stop time. A series of rather unlikely and comic adventures ensue. And yes there’s a girl involved. END OF SPOILER ALERT. 

An episode of the Twilight Zone, “A Kind of Stop Watch”, has essentially the same story as that of “The Girl, the Gold Watch & Everything”. A lot of Twilight Zone fans would claim very loudly that McDonald ripped off Serling’s script. The episode, however, aired in October of 1963, the year after the publication of the novel on which the movie is based. Sigh. 

Neither film appears to streaming anywhere, nor does it appear to be available for purchase. Huh.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born June 13, 1893 — Dorothy Sayers. I absolutely love her mysteries. I think the Lord Peter Wimsey series are among the best mysteries ever done. And I thought that Ian Carmichael made a most excellent Lord Peter Wimsey in the Seventies Clouds of Witness series. Now to the matter at hand, ISFDB often surprises me and having her listed as writing four stories in the genre did it again. All of them were written in the Thirties and here they are: “The Cyprian Cat”, “The Cave of Ali Baba”, “Bitter Almonds” and “The Leopard Lady”. So, who here has read them and can comment on them being genre or not? (Died 1957)
  • Born June 13, 1892 — Basil Rathbone. He’s best remembered for being Sherlock Holmes in fourteen films made between 1939 and 1946 and in a radio series of the same period. For films other than these, I’ll single out The Adventures of Robin Hood (after all Robin Hood is fantasy), Son of Frankenstein and Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet. (Died 1967.)
  • Born June 13, 1903 — Frederick Stephani. Screenwriter and film director who is best remembered for co-writing and directing the 13-chapter Flash Gordon serial in 1936. He directed Johnny Weissmuller‘s Tarzan’s New York Adventure (aka Tarzan Against the World). He was also an uncredited writer on 1932’s Dracula. (Died 1962.)
  • Born June 13, 1929 — Ralph McQuarrie. Conceptual designer and illustrator. He worked on the original Star Wars trilogy, the first Battlestar GalacticaStar Wars Holiday Special (well somebody had to, didn’t they?), CocoonRaiders of the Lost Ark, Nightbreed, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home andE.T. the Extra-TerrestrialAll of his work is quite stellar. Literally. Pun fully intended. (Died 2012.)
  • Born June 13, 1943 — Malcolm McDowell, 79. My favorite role for him was Mr. Roarke on the second rebooted Fantasy Island. (Still haven’t seen either of the recent versions.) Of course, his most infamous role was Alex in A Clockwork Orange. Scary film that was and yes, I saw it in the theater. His characterization of H. G. Wells in Time After Time was I thought rather spot on. And I’d like to single out his voicing Arcady Duvall in the “Showdown” episode of Batman: The Animated Series. Remember the truly awful Will Smith starred Wild Wild West film? Of course you do unfortunately. Here is the same premise with Jonah Hex involved instead as written by Joe R. Lansdale. Go watch it as it is a stellar script and of course everything is perfect. 
  • Born June 13, 1949 — Simon Callow, 73. English actor, musician, writer, and theatre director. So what’s he doing here? Well he got to be Charles Dickens twice on Doctor Who, the first being in “The Unquiet Dead” during the time of the Ninth Doctor and then later during “The Wedding of River Song”, an Eleventh Doctor story. He’d also appear, though not as Dickens, on The Sarah Jane Adventures as the voice of Tree Blathereen in “The Gift” episode. I’ve not watched the series. How is this series? He was also The Duke of Sandringham in the first season of Outlander. And he did have a role in Shakespeare in Love which I claim is genre. As of late, he’s been on Hawkeye as Armand Duquesne III in the pilot episode.
  • Born June 13, 1953 — Tim Allen, 69. Jason Nesmith in the much beloved Galaxy Quest. (Which of course won a much deserved Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation at Chicon 2000.) He actually had a big hit several years previously voicing Buzz Lightyear in Toy Story which would be the first in what would become a long-running film franchise.
  • Born June 13, 1963 — Audrey Niffenegger, 59. Her first novel was The Time Traveler’s Wife. She has stated in interviews that she will not see the film or the series as only the characters in the novels are hers. Good for her. (I’ve stated before that I don’t watch films or the series based on novels that I really like.)  Raven Girl, her third novel about a couple whose child is a raven trapped in a human body, was turned into performance at the Royal Opera House. Oh, and her Ghostly: A Collection of Ghost Stories is, well, chillingly delicious.

(8) COMICS SECTION.

(9) WHEN WILL YOU MAKE AN END? “Taika Waititi’s Star Wars Script Is Still Not Finished” he tells CBR.com.

Taika Waititi has revealed that he is still hard at work finishing the script for his upcoming Star Wars movie.

In an interview with Screen Rant, Waititi explained where he’s currently at in the writing process for his untitled film and how he approached tying his script into the wider Star Wars universe. “That’s yet to be seen. I don’t know. I’m still writing. I’m still coming up with the ideas and storylining it and just wanted to make sure that it feels like a Star Wars film,” he said. “Because, I could say, ‘Oh yeah, we’ll just write any old thing and set in space and then put Star Wars on the front.’ But it wouldn’t be a Star Wars film without certain elements and a certain treatment, so I’ve just got to make sure that it stays within that wheelhouse.”…

(10) UTTERLY MADE UP. GameRant walks us through the development of the alien tongue: “Star Trek: The Klingon Language, Explained”. Dr. Marc Okrand’s 1985 book The Klingon Dictionary sold over 300,000 copies.

The Klingons have been a steady part of Star Trek right from the beginning, starting out as the main antagonists in The Original Series and progressing to tentative friends in series to follow. Roddenberry took a leaf out of Tolkien’s book, and created the Klingon language to flesh out the culture. In doing so, he was able to add a depth of realism to his fictional race that’s not often seen even today (with a few exceptions). Instead of a bare-bones array of random sounds, the language has its own vocabulary and grammar, even its own regional dialects. The language was not always present in its fullest form, and developed slowly alongside the show. The first Klingons during the main TV series simply spoke in English, with the audience first hearing their guttural tones during the Star Trek: The Motion Picture film in 1979….

(11) SO MANY TITLES. What should File 770’s headline be for Science Alert’s story “A Hitchhiking Rock Has Traveled With The Perseverance Rover For More Than 120 Days”? Mike Kennedy couldn’t decide on one, so he sent them all.

  • Rock and Roll, OR
  • (The) Rolling Stone, OR
  • Everybody Must Get Stoned, OR
  • (Just) Along For The Ride, OR
  • Pet Rock, OR
  • Moss-free, OR
  • Stone Cold, OR
  • The Stones Must Roll, OR
  • probably dozens more

Roaming Mars is a lonely existence for NASA’s Perseverance, but the exploratory rover now has a traveling companion: a hitchhiking “pet rock” that got stuck in one of its wheels.

Luckily, the Martian stone won’t impact the rover’s science mission and is only a minor inconvenience  – like having a pebble stuck in your shoe. 

Perseverance’s front-left wheel accidentally picked up the pet rock on Feb. 4, or Sol 341 – the 341st Martian day of the Martian year, according to a statement by NASA.

The rock has periodically photobombed images taken by the rover’s front-left Hazard Avoidance Camera (Hazcam).

Recent images show that the rock is still tumbling along with Perseverance 126 days (123 sols) after it first hitched a ride. (A sol, or Martian day, is just 37 minutes longer than an Earth day.)

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

Pixel Scroll 4/21/22 And When The File Breaks The Pixel Will Scroll

(1) SDCC REPORTS LOSS; ALSO WARNED BY STATE ABOUT UNFILED RETURNS. Petréa Mitchell at SMOF News broke the story to her readers that San Diego Comic-Con’s nonprofit corporation suffered an $8 million loss in 2020, and has been warned by the state of California the corporation is delinquent in filing some required federal tax returns and reports due to the state, as reported by the Times of San Diego: “Double-Whammy for Comic-Con: $8M Loss and Threat to State Tax Exemption”. The 2020 loss is declared below in the screencap of a California Annual Renewal Registration Fee form they have filed.

Comic-Con is at risk of losing its nonprofit status, the state says, only days after the giant tourism draw signed up with IMG in a licensing deal amid a reported $8 million loss in COVID-stricken 2020….

But last Nov. 18, Comic-Con filed its annual registration renewal fee report, which said it had $3.97 million gross revenue in 2020, when the pandemic forced suspension of Comic-Con. Its gross expenses that year were $11.98 million. (Its total assets were $42.4 million.)

The letter to Comic-Con said it has until May 15 to file a state form. Bonta said that if IRS forms aren’t sent to the state Registry of Charitable Trusts within 60 days of April 7 — or June 6 — two things would happen:

      • His office would notify the California Franchise Tax Board to disallow Comic-Con’s tax exemption. (“The Franchise Tax Board may revoke the organization’s tax exempt status at which point the organization will be treated as a taxable corporation … and may be subject to the minimum tax penalty.”)
      • Late fees would be imposed for each month or partial month for which reports were delinquent. “Directors, trustees, officers and return preparers responsible for failure to timely file these reports are also personally liable for payment of all late fees.”

(2) KGB SHOTS. Ellen Datlow shared her photos from the (in-person!) Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series event on April 20 where Robert Freeman Wexler and Victor LaValle each read form forthcoming work.

(3) FOUR TO DRAW TO. Fanac.org has posted the video of a Minicon 15 (1979) panel “History of the Future” with Ted Sturgeon, Clifford Simak, Lester del Rey, and Gordon Dickson.  

Minicon 15 was held April 13-15, 1979 in Minneapolis. In this recording, four of the most respected authors of their time—Theodore Sturgeon, Clifford D. Simak, Lester del Rey and Gordon Dickson—have a free ranging discussion on topics from earlier science fiction views of the future, to what the literature has “missed,” and the relationship of technocracy to then current society. 

Lester del Rey is at his most opinionated, getting laughs and applause, as well as exhibiting his encyclopedic knowledge of the field. There are discussions of freedom vs governance, the problems of finding information, and, triggered by a question from the audience, a long discussion on education. 

Simak tells a deeply personal story about his son’s experience in the public school system, and the other authors speak of their own experiences with education.  There are predictions, anecdotes, and a few surprising revelations…

Thanks to Geri Sullivan and the Video Archeology project for providing the recording. 

(4) HER TWIN FROM ANOTHER PLANET. The linked article talks about a science fiction film titled The Day Mars Invaded Earth and how the author, Hal Bookbinder, used his genealogical skills to sleuth out more about the twin actresses in the film: “The Day Mars Invaded Earth” at the JGSCV Newsletter.

While watching old movies. I often Google the film to learn more about it and its cast. “The Day Mars Invaded Earth” was filmed in 1962 and released in 1963. Among its cast are Betty Beall and Barbara Beall who play counterparts in the same scene, shown at the bottom. Betty Beall plays the teenage daughter of a NASA scientist who oversees the landing of a probe on Mars. After destroying the probe, unseen Martians create a duplicate of him to foil further attempts to land a probe. They then create duplicates of his family to cover their tracks. The NY Times panned the picture. Very little is to be found on either Betty or Barbara….

(5) POTLATCH. Ian Frazier shares some humorous confessions with readers of The New Yorker in “The Literature of Cabin Fever”. One paragraph reminds me that once there was an annual convention by this name (and with something of the same gift-sharing philosophy).

…A big excursion for me was to drive to the town of Kalispell, some twenty miles away. I was writing on a brand of paper called Potlatch. Such an interesting name for copy paper—Potlatch. I ran out of my first ream of it, and when I was buying more at an office-supply store in Kalispell I told the salesperson about potlatch—how it was a Native American word that meant a kind of party in which a chief or even just an ordinary person gave away stuff to other members of the tribe. “Giveaway” is a rough translation of the word into English, I told the salesperson. The potlatch was a system for showing status and spreading the wealth downward, I said. As I looked at the reaction on the salesperson’s face, it sank in that I was not in a normal frame of mind….

(6) WHEN AND WHERE DID HUMANS EVOLVE? [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] We all know the basic story, archaic humans and then modern humans evolved in Africa and then migrated to the rest of the world, held SF conventions and went to the Moon (the Americans even did it without Cavorite!).

The problem is, is that the fossil record only provides snapshots.  A fossil tells us that this species lived at this place and at that time.  What it does not do is tell us when that species first evolved: it is very unlikely that a fossil discovered will be the remains of the first representative of a new species.  So, what to do?

“Climate effects on archaic human habitats”, rResearch published today in Nature  has taken a novel approach.  We know from fossils the environment in which archaic and modern human species inhabited.  What the researchers have done is link this into deep-time climate models and in turn linked that into an ecological model.  The idea here is that given a certain geography, location and climate, it is possible to work out the ecology of a locality.

Due to climate change, climate models have really improved the past one-third century and now have a good resolution and are capable of modelling back into glacial times (‘ice ages’ in common-but-inexact parlance). This means we can meaningfully identify when and where certain environmental types arise and wane as climate changes. Knowing the environmental preferences (from where fossils were found and conditions back then) of various human species, it is possible to see when and where the environmental conditions that could sustain these species begin and end.

The bottom line is that the researchers propose the following scenario: about 850–600 ka, H. heidelbergensis, which may have originated from H. ergaster in eastern Africa, split into southern and northern African branches, the latter of which included northern African and Eurasian populations.

The intensified dispersal into off-equatorial regions may have occurred during periods of high eccentricity around 680,000 and 580,000 years ago, which increased habitat suitability in otherwise inhospitable regions. The southern branch then experienced considerable climatic stress in southern Africa which could have accelerated a transition into H. sapiens. The Eurasian populations of the northern branch split around 430,000, possibly giving rise to Denisovans, which populated parts of central and eastern Asia. Inside central Europe, H. heidelbergensis, then experienced strong local climatic stress and gradually evolved into H. neanderthalensis between 400,000 and 300,000 years ago.

Neat, huh?

(7) LIGHTYEAR TRAILER. Disney Pixar’s Lightyear is coming to theaters on June 17.

Check out a new trailer for Disney and Pixar’s “Lightyear,” revealing new details about the upcoming sci-fi action adventure. The definitive origin story of Buzz Lightyear, the hero who inspired the toy, “Lightyear” follows the legendary Space Ranger after he’s marooned on a hostile planet 4.2 million light-years from Earth alongside his commander and their crew. As Buzz tries to find a way back home through space and time, he’s joined by a group of ambitious recruits and his charming robot companion cat, Sox. Complicating matters and threatening the mission is the arrival of Zurg, an imposing presence with an army of ruthless robots and a mysterious agenda. A new poster and images are also available.

(8) JEAN COCTEAU REOPENING. George R.R. Martin’s Jean Cocteau Cinema in Santa Fe, NM will reopen May 6, when people will get the opportunity to “Be the very first members of the public to sit in our new theater seats, hear the new sound system, and enjoy a transformed theatrical experience at the Jean Cocteau!”

It will kick off with a weekend of classic films hosted free of charge by the Jean Cocteau Cinema and Beastly Books, and they’re taking a poll to determine which five films from a curated list of 10 classics, including titles picked by GRRM, will be shown. Vote here. Voting ends Sunday, April 24th.

(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1976 [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.] The mark of how good a series is not how great the pilot is but the first episode after the pilot. Forty-six years ago this evening on ABC, the second episode of Wonder Woman aired, a curiosity titled affair called “Wonder Woman Meets Baroness Von Gunther”. In it she got to take resurgent Nazis on in form of a Nazi spy ring known as the Abwehr who are active again and who are targeting Steve Trevor for imprisoning the Baroness von Gunther, their leader. 

The Baroness Paula von Gunther was created by William Moulton Marston as an adversary for his creation Wonder Woman in Sensation Comics #4, 1942. Though she disappeared during the Crisis on Infinite Earth years, Jim Byrne brought her back in 1988 and made once again the Nazi villainess she once was. 

This episode is based off “Wonder Woman Versus the Prison Spy Ring” in Wonder Woman #1 (July 1942). (The title comes from when it was reprinted later.) In the story, Colonel Darnell informs Trevor that an army transport ship was sunk by a German U-Boat. Believing the Nazis must have had a traitor inside the Army, Darnell orders Steve to interrogate the former head of the Gestapo system in America — The Baroness who is now serving time in a federal penitentiary thanks to Wonder Woman. Note that this episode made Trevor responsible for her being captured. 

So how was it received? This episode ranked twelfth in the Nielsen ratings, shockingly beating out a Bob Hope special which ranked twentieth.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born April 21, 1911 John Lymington. Between the late Fifties and the mid-Eighties, he wrote twenty-six genre novels, an astonishing number but only a fraction of the estimated 150 books he wrote overall. His short genre fiction is published in his Night Spiders collection. He’s not made it into the digital realm and I’ll admit that I’ve not heard of him, so I’m hoping the brain trust here can tell me about him. E0sF says helpfully that this was the pseudonym of UK author John Newton Chance who wrote a lot of the Sexton Blake thrillers. Come on folks, tell me about him! (Died 1983.)
  • Born April 21, 1922 Alistair MacLean. I’ll admit that I know I read at least a handful of his works when I was much younger. ISFDB lists four novels (Goodbye CaliforniaThe Dark CrusaderThe Golden Gate and The Satan Bug) as being genre though I personally would say they are thrillers with genre elements. Clute at EoSF agrees saying that they are “Cold War thrillers which make use of sf McGuffins”. (Died 1987.)
  • Born April 21, 1928 Dee Hartford. Miss Iceland, companion of Mister Freeze in two episodes of that Batman series. She also had appearances on Time TunnelLost in SpaceLand of The Giants, The Man from U.N.C.L.E.The Twilight ZoneThe Outer Limits and The Alfred Hitchcock Hour.  Yes, she was very pretty and that really counted in that time. She appeared on “The Bewitchin’ Pool” which was the last original episode of The Twilight Zone to be broadcast (though it was not the last one to be filmed). (Died 2018.)
  • Born April 21, 1933 Jim Harmon. During the Fifties and Sixties, he wrote more than fifty short stories and novelettes for Amazing StoriesFuture Science Fiction, Galaxy Science FictionIfThe Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction and other magazines. Most of his fiction was collected in Harmon’s Galaxy. ISFDB says he has just one novel, Sex Burns Like Fire. He’s a member of First Fandom Hall of Fame. (Died 2010.)
  • Born April 21, 1939 John Bangsund. Australian fan from the Sixties through the Eighties. He was instrumental with Andrew Porter in Australia winning the 1975 Aussiecon bid, and he was Toastmaster at the Hugo Award ceremony at that con. His fanzine, Australian Science Fiction Review, is credited with reviving Australian Fandom in the Sixties. And he was the instigator of the term “Muphry’s law” which states that “If you write anything criticizing editing or proofreading, there will be a fault of some kind in what you have written.” (Died 2020.)
  • Born April 21, 1965 Fiona Kelleghan, 57. Though an academic to the bone, she has two genre stories “The Secret in the Chest: With Tests, Maps, Mysteries, & Intermittent Discussion Questions” and “The Secret in the Chest”. Of her academic works, I find most fascinating Mike Resnick: An Annotated Bibliography and Guide to His Work which last was revised in 2012 for the paperback edition. Wikipedia shows her Alfred Bester, Grand Master: An Annotated Bibliography is a work in progress. 
  • Born April 21, 1971 Michael Turner. Another one who died way, way too young. He was a comics artist known for his work on Witchblade,Tombraider / Witchblade one-off, the Superman/Batman story involving Supergirl, his own Soulfire, and various covers for DC Comics and Marvel Comics. He would die of bone cancer. A Tribute to Michael Turner with writings from people who knew him and a cover done by Alex Ross would be released to cover his medical expenses. (Died 2008.)
  • Born April 21, 1980 Hadley Fraser, 42. His first video acting role was Gareth in the superb Tenth Doctor story, “Army of Ghosts”. He’d later be Chris in The Lost Tribe, a horror film, and play Viscount Raoul de Chagny in The Phantom of The Opera, as well as being Tarzan’s father in The Legend of Tarzan. And though not even genre adjacent, I’m legally obligated to point out that he showed up as a British military escort in the recent production of Kenneth Branagh’s absolutely smashing Murder on the Orient Express. Branagh just directed his second Agatha Christie film in which he plays the Belgian detective, Death on the Nile.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • Hey, I used to sit in a green chair and read to my daughter just like in Hi and Lois. All we needed was a punchline!
  • Dino Comics knows the truth is out there.

(12) HE’S STILL READING. “Samuel R. Delany’s Life in Books” for the New York Times Magazine is a strong series of reminiscences all tied together by the printed page.

…I was brought up with a series called “My Book House,” edited by Olive Beaupré Miller, which I still refer to. Those books introduced me to mythology and history, to the “Iliad” and “The Odyssey,” the “Kalevala,” the legend of Dick Whittington and early stories of Johnny Appleseed. In them, I got my first images of what Shakespeare’s childhood must’ve looked like, and the great wagons on which the traveling mummers rode around and presented their plays. The drawings were wonderful. They were particularly important to me because I was dyslexic, and I got a lot of my education through images. The very first thing I read all the way through was a Bob Kane Batman comic book. My father wanted to stop me because he objected to comics, but my mother said, “No! He’s reading!”…

(13) MEET THE FILMMAKERS. Enjoy this featurette on Everything Everywhere All At Once.

(14) NETFLIX ORIGINAL ANIMATION ON DEATHWATCH. “Netflix kills the Bone show as its Original Animation department pretty much falls apart” reports A.V. Club. Yesterday streaming service Netflix saw its stock price plummet by record amounts in response to a dismal Q1 earnings call.

…Amidst the chaos, The Wrap released a quieter report this afternoon, one focused on the company’s once vaunted Original Animation department—reporting, among other things, that Phil Rynda, Netflix Director of Creative Leadership and Development for Original Animation, had been let go from the company this week, and that several high-profile animated projects, most notably the much-anticipated animated adaptation of Jeff Smith’s beloved comic series Bone, were dead at the service.

The Bone show is a blow, for sure; fans have been waiting for Smith’s all-ages adventure comic, seemingly a natural fit for animation, to get a worthy adaptation for years. But the report, written by Drew Taylor, also delves into Netflix’s overall treatment of animation creatives, who were once lured to the company with promises of creative freedom, and are now frequently tossed stacks of data to justify the company’s limited advertising for, and support of, its animated shows.

Case in point: The company’s slow response earlier this month to the news that Elizabeth Ito’s excellent (and already canceled) City Of Ghosts had won a Peabody Award. Ito was forced to basically launch a single-person campaign to even get the service to acknowledge the victory; this, after Netflix kept her in suspense about whether the show would get another season….

(15) THE HEAT IS ON. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Radical emissions cuts combined with some atmospheric carbon removal are the only hope to limit global warming to 1.5 °C, scientists warn.

Further to last week’s research reported in File 770, the UN’s IPCC have upped the ante, as this week’s Nature says: “IPCC’s starkest message yet: extreme steps needed to avert climate disaster”.

Humanity probably isn’t going to prevent Earth from at least temporarily warming 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels — but aggressive action to curb greenhouse-gas emissions and extract carbon from the atmosphere could limit the increase and bring temperatures back down, according to the latest report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)….

(16) I GO TO PIECES. “Lego’s Star Wars Day Offerings Include a new 1,890-Piece Ultimate Collector Series Version of Luke’s Landspeeder”Gizmodo has the story. (Or should I say, ad?)

May the 4th is just a few weeks away and just like the Death Star targeting a defenseless planet, there’s nothing you can do to protect your budget against the onslaught of Star Wars merchandise enroute, including a new addition to Lego’s pricey Ultimate Collector Series line.

As with all of Lego’s UCS models, the new Luke Skywalker’s Landspeeder puts previous Lego versions of the vehicle to shame with an incredible amount of detail and new parts you won’t find anywhere else…

(17) BRAZILIAN ANIMATION. Speaking of blocks… In Escalade, Luciano Fulgi and Paolo Muppet explain what happens when you want to tower over your neighbors!

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore Pitch Meeting,” Ryan George, in a spoiler-filled episode, says the producer has forgotten so much about this series he refers to hero Newt Scamander as “Nugget Scaffolding.”  The writer explains many puzzling plot twists in this film (such as how villain Grindelwald, played previously by Johnny Depp, has become Mads Mikkelsen) by saying “magic!” MANY MANY TIMES.

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Jeffrey Smith, Rob Thornton, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Daniel Dern, Linda Deneroff, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]

Pixel Scroll 3/21/22 Go Strider In The Sky 

(1) BALTICON GUEST NEWS. Balticon 56 announced that Odera Igbokwe has had to withdraw as Artist Guest of Honor due to personal reasons.

They followed up by naming two special guests: Kevin Roche, a costumer, conrunner, and quantum scientist and his husband Andy Trembley, a filker, costumer, and conrunner.

Balticon, which takes place May 27-30, also confirmed they will be streaming their most popular program tracks, and hosting virtual panels, kaffeeklatsches, author readings and more.

Virtual pricing for the whole weekend is $30 for adults and $20 for young adults. Virtual membership is automatically included with any in-person membership purchase. (Full rate information is here.)

(2) ESFS AWARDS NOMINEES. The European Science Fiction Society has released the nominations for the 2022 Achievement Awards, Hall of Fame Awards, and Chrysalis Awards.

The winners of these awards will be selected at the next general meeting of the ESFS, which will take place at Luxcon 2022, which takes place from 7th to 10th April, 2022 in Dudelange, Luxembourg.

(3) GRRM-CONNECTED GAME SUCCESS. Yahoo! reports “’Elden Ring’ Sells Over 12 Million Copies Worldwide”  — “Almost as many as PacMan,” teases John King Tarpinian.

While publisher Bandai Namco initially predicted that FromSoftware‘s Elden Ring would sell around 4 million units, the game has more than surpassed expectations. In the 18 days following its release, over 12 million copies of Elden Ring have been sold worldwide, the two companies announced on Monday.

According to the press release, the game was released throughout North America, Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East. 1 million units were sold in Japan alone.

Created in collaboration with novelist George R. R. Martin, who is best known for writing the series behind Game of Thrones, Elden Ring is an open-world action RPG that entered development in 2017. Players begin with a linear opening but are gradually enabled to explore the mythical Lands Between….

And George R.R. Martin recently took a moment to deny a story about the game.

…Oh, and as long as I am setting stuff straight, there’s a weird story all over the internet about how I “hid” my initials in ELDEN RING because… ah.. some of the characters have names beginning with R, or G, or M.   To which I say, “Eh?  What?  Really?”   This was news to me.    I have been writing and publishing stories since 1971, and I suspect that I have been giving characters names beginning with R and G and M since the start.   Along with the other twenty-three letters of the alphabet as well…  

(4) WHAT WOULD IT LOOK LIKE IF THE MANDALORIAN WAS INDIGENOUS? [Item by Olav Rokne.] Pretty cool Star-Wars-Inspired works by Canadian artist Christal Ratt got featured on the CBC News this weekend. Ratt, a member of the Barriere Lake Algonquin Nation in Quebec, used traditional techniques to create birch-bark armour modelled after the Mandalorian’s beskar armour. “What if the Mandalorian’s armour was birch bark instead of beskar? An Algonquin artist brings that to life”.

…And while it may not be able to stop lightsabers, the wearable piece of art also includes a birch bark helmet, with quilled Woodland florals and different shades of orange to honour residential school survivors from her community. 

The piece is called Shemaginish, which means warrior….

Personally, I find it really interesting to note that several artists of Indigenous Canadian descent are reinterpreting Star Wars iconography through traditional Indigenous styles. In addition to Ratt, there are several examples I can think of this, including well-known Canadian artists Andy Everson (a member of the Comox First Nation), and Aaron Paquette (a member of the Métis community in Edmonton) have found inspiration in mixing Star Wars with styles drawn from their respective Indigenous communities.

(5) AUTHOR’S GUILD SUPPORTS SMART COPYRIGHT ACT. The Author’s Guild announced, “AG Supports Introduction and Passage of the SMART Copyright Act of 2022”.

Why the Smart Copyright Act Is Necessary

The safe harbors for internet platforms in the Copyright Act are conditioned on the platforms’ cooperation to remove pirated content. The law has not worked as intended by Congress to encourage that cooperation, however, because the courts resisted enforcing the loss of safe harbors. In doing so, they took the teeth out of the law. As a result, piracy is out of control today, and the only mechanism that creators have to combat piracy is to send continuous takedown notices to the platforms, which is not only costly and time-consuming—for both the creators and platforms—but it is also ineffective because pirates often repost the infringing material. Online piracy harms the entire publishing and other creative ecosystems, leaving creators, who are usually at the bottom of the food chain, with only crumbs. Writers and other creators have no recourse except to watch the income from legitimate sales of their works dwindle while e-book pirates line their coffers.

The best way to curb piracy is for service providers to adopt STMs that automatically limit the amount of piracy on their services. These technologies already exist, and many platforms already use them effectively for certain types of works. The Authors Guild and other organizations representing creators have asked Congress to require all the major user-generated content sites to use such technologies to prevent or curb piracy. While the current law contemplates voluntary multi-industry convenings to create and adopt STMs, there has been no incentive for online providers to do so. As a result, no STMs have been formally recognized in the 23 years since the law was passed.

Bill co-sponsor Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) says on his site:

…Online service providers struck a deal with Congress twenty years ago—they wouldn’t have to pay for copyright theft facilitated by their systems if they worked with copyright owners to create effective standardized technical measures (STMs) to identify and protect against distribution of stolen content. In enacting this grand bargain, Congress clearly envisioned this safe harbor immunity would act as an incentive for platforms and rights holders to collaborate on developing effective measures to combat copyright theft, lower transaction costs, accelerate information sharing, and create a healthy internet for everyone. 

Yet rather than incentivizing collaboration, the law actually inhibits it because service providers cannot risk losing their valuable safe harbors if an STM is created. In addition, the current statute provides only one path to establish that a technological measure is a consensus-based STM that must be available to all. As a result, no STMs have been identified since the law took effect.  The issue isn’t whether technical measures to combat rampant copyright infringement exist—plenty do—but rather how to encourage service providers to adopt technical measures to combat stealing and facilitate sharing of critical copyright data.   

The Strengthening Measures to Advance Rights Technologies (SMART) Copyright Act of 2022 takes a measured approach to addressing these barriers in two ways. It creates flexibility so that more existing measures could be eligible for consensus created STMs and it addresses the incentive issue by authorizing the Librarian of Congress to designate through an open, public rulemaking process technical measures identified by stakeholders that certain service providers must accommodate and not interfere with. Instead of “bet the company” loss of safe harbors, violations involving designated technical measures (DTMs) risk only actual or statutory damages, from which innocent violators can be exempt.

Read a one-pager of the bill HERE and myth vs. fact HERE.

(6) LISTEN IN. Cora Buhlert is interviewed by Oliver Brackenbury in episode 36 of the So I’m Writing a Novel podcast: “Interview with Cora Buhlert”.

Cora Buhlert is a Hugo-nominated author and genre scholar who Oliver was lucky enough to meet through his research for the novel, and he’d love for you to meet her too!

Oliver and Cora discuss her falling in love with the very American body of work known as pulp fiction while she grew up travelling the world, the survival of dime novels in modern Germany, the irresistible pull of forbidden fiction, Thundarr and He-Man, “the best thing that happened in Germany in 1989”…

(7) SLICE OF LIFE. Did you ever want to know what H.P. Lovecraft thought of Gustav Meyrink’s The Golem and its silent film adaptations? If yes, Bobby Derie has you covered: “The Golem (1928) by Gustav Meyrink” at Deep Cuts in a Lovecraftian Vein.

Der Golem (“The Golem”) was a silent film directed by and starring Paul Wegener with German intertitles released in 1915. The film is now believed to be lost, aside from some fragments. This film was followed by two more: Der Golem und die Tänzerin (“The Golem and the Dancing Girl”) in 1917, and Der Golem, wie er in die Welt kam (“The Golem: How He Came Into The World”) in 1920, both of which were also directed by and starring Paul Wegener as the golem. So it isn’t clear which film Lovecraft actually saw. The 1920 film survives and is in the public domain.

Lovecraft claimed in most of his letters to have caught a showing of it in 1921, and like many an English student of the VHS era who needed to write a book report, he assumed somewhat erroneously that it was faithful to the plot of the book….

(8) ONCE UPON A NEWSSTAND. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] At Dark Worlds Quarterly, G.W. Thomas takes a look at Weird Tales’ shortlived sister magazine Oriental Stories a.k.a. Magic Carpet Tales: “Magic Carpet Tales: The Other Weird Tales” I’ve read some of Robert E. Howard’s contributions to Oriental Stories/Magic Carpet Tales and they were very good.

… Exotic locales, sexy seductresses and plotting agents aside, much of what appeared was a type of Horror fiction. Not always supernatural, torture tales, conte cruels but not your run-of-the-mill werewolf and vampire stories. For those who love Robert E. Howard and other WT authors, this is a bonanza of secondary tales….

(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1968 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] On this day in the United Kingdom fifty-four years ago, Planet of The Apes premiered. It was directed by Franklin J. Schaffner. The screenplay was by Michael Wilson and Rod Serling, and was based loosely upon Pierre Boulle‘s La Planète des Singes

It starred Charlton Heston, Roddy McDowall, Kim Hunter, Maurice Evans, James Whitmore, James Daly and Linda Harrison. Roddy McDowall had a long-running relationship with this series, appearing in four of the original five films (absent only from the second film of the series, Beneath the Planet of the Apes, in which he was replaced by David Watson in the role of Cornelius), and also in the television series.

It was met with critical acclaim and is widely regarded as a classic film and one of the best films of that year.  Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times said that it was “much better than I expected it to be. It is quickly paced, completely entertaining, and its philosophical pretensions don’t get in the way.” And Kevin Thomas of the Los Angeles Times exclaimed that it was, “A triumph of artistry and imagination, it is at once a timely parable and a grand adventure on an epic scale.” 

It did exceedingly well at the box office costing less than six million to make and making more than thirty million in its first year of screening.

Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give it an eighty-seven percent rating with over a hundred thousand reviewers having expressed an opinion!

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 21, 1931 Al Williamson. Cartoonist who was best known for his work for EC Comics in the ’50s, including titles like Weird Science and Weird Fantasy, and for his work on Flash Gordon in the Sixties. He won eight Harvey Awards, and an Eisner Hall of Fame Award.  (Died 2010.)
  • Born March 21, 1944 Lorene Yarnell Jansson. Yarnell played Dot Matrix (body acting, with Joan Rivers performing the voice) in Spaceballs. She was Sonia in The Wild Wild West Revisted, Formicida / Dr. Irene Janis in Wonder Woman’s “Formicida” episode and on the Muppet Show in season four episode, “Shields And Yarnell”. (Died 2010.)
  • Born March 21, 1946 Terry Dowling, 76. I was trying to remember exactly what it was by him that I read and it turned out to be Amberjack: Tales of Fear and Wonder, an offering from Subterranean Press a decade ago. Oh, it was tasty! If it’s at all representative of his other short stories, he’s a master at them. And I see he’s got just one novel, Clowns at Midnight which I’ve not read but really should. He’s not at all deeply stocked at the usual digital suspects but they do have this plus several story collections. He’s won ten Ditmars, very impressive indeed, and quite a few other Awards as well.
  • Born March 21, 1946 Timothy Dalton, 76. He is best known for portraying James Bond in The Living Daylights and Licence to Kill but is currently in The Doom Patrol as Niles Caulder, The Chief. As I’ve said before, go watch it now! He also was Damian Drake in Looney Tunes: Back in Action, Sir Malcolm on the Penny Dreadful series and Lord President of the Time Lords (Rassilon) during the Time of Tenth and Eleventh Doctors. He went to theatre to play Lord Asriel in the stage version of His Dark Materials.
  • Born March 21, 1956 Teresa Nielsen Hayden, 66. She is a consulting editor for Tor Books and is well known for her and husband, Patrick Nielsen Hayden’s superb weblog Making Light, and back in the Eighties, they published the Izzard fanzine. And she has three fascinating framing pieces in The Essential Bordertown, edited by Delia Sherman and Terri Windling. 
  • Born March 21, 1958 Gary Oldman, 64. First genre film role was as Rosencrantz in Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead. Next up is the lead role in Bram Stoker’s Dracula. And of course he was Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg in Fifth Element, followed by being Lost in Space‘s Dr. Zachary Smith, which in turn led to Harry Potter’s Sirius Black, and that begat James Gordon in the Batman filmsAlthough some reviewers give him accolades for us as role as Dr. Dennett Norton in the insipid Robocop remake, I will not. Having not seen Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, I can’t say how he is as Dreyfus in it.
  • Born March 21, 1965 Cynthia Geary, 57. Best remembered as Shelly Tambo on Northern Exposure. It’s genre, isn’t it? If that’s not enough, she’s got a prime genre role in The Outer Limits episode “Mary 25” in which she plays Teryl who is not what she seems. And she shows up on Fantady Island in the “Dying to Dance” as Pamela Lewis.
  • Born March 21, 1970 Chris Chibnall, 52. Current showrunner for Doctor Who and the head writer for the first two (and I think) best series of Torchwood. He first showed up in the Whoverse when he penned the Tenth Doctor story, “42”.  He also wrote several episodes of Life on Mars. He’s been nominated for a Hugo three times for work on Doctor Who, “Rosa” at Dublin 2019, “Resolution” CoNZealand and for “Fugitive of the Judoon” at DisCon III.
  • Born March 21, 1985 Sonequa Martin-Green, 37. She currently plays Michael Burnham on Discovery which is now In its fourth series. She had a brief recurring role as Tamara in Once Upon a Time, and a much longer recurring role on The Walking Dead as Sasha Williams but I’ve never seen her there as zombies hold absolutely no interest to me. Well Solomon Grundy does…  And she was in the Shockwave, Darkside film.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • The Duplex shows the history you learn from watching movies.
  • Lise Andreasen says these are “Exactly the same things I would do!”

(12) OUTFOXED. Arturo Serrano reviews the new Pixar film for Nerds of a Feather in “’Turning Red’ finds joy in the scary messiness of puberty”.

…Disney/Pixar’s new animated movie Turning Red takes this metaphor of puberty as transformation and situates it in the no less stressful context of the immigrant experience during the rise of digital mass media. If being a teenager is hard, it’s almost unbearably so when inherited traditions and expectations conflict with multicultural openness and pop culture sex symbols. When protagonist Meilin Lee learns that the women of her family have the power to transform into enormous red pandas, it feels like it couldn’t have come at a worse time: she’s busy enough pleasing her parents and excelling at school and daydreaming about boy bands without going all Katie Ka-Boom every time she gets emotional. So she panics, and tries to hide what’s happening to her, and pretends to be in full command of her feelings—but her inner animal won’t be tamed. There’s no denying the call of nature….

(13) EFF ME. That was my reaction to the headline “Hugh Grant ‘in conversation’ to replace Jodie Whittaker as Doctor Who” at Metro News.

…Well, rumour has it the Love Actually star could be taking over from Jodie Whittaker as the Time Lord.

According to The Mirror, the BBC series could be heading for a Marvel-style makeover, with Hugh at the helm….

(14) WIN BY LOSING. “Loki Award Show Lost Saves Universe, According to Miss Minutes”Gizmodo has the story.

Awards season hit a high note this weekend as multiple guilds and groups gave awards leading up to the grand finale, the Oscars, which happen this coming Sunday. One of the biggest to do so was the Writers Guild of America—and apparently one specific category literally saved the world, at least according to a certain animated talking clock from the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

… In the Drama category, Succession was up against The Handmaid’s Tale, The Morning Show, Yellowjackets, and Marvel’s Loki. And it’s that last one we’re going to concentrate on. Showrunner and head writer Michael Waldron revealed on Twitter that, had Loki won, this is the acceptance speech the writers submitted to air.

(15) REGENCY TEA TIME. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] Aja Romano shares her appreciation for the works of Georgette Heyer and wonders why Heyer is not a household name and has never had a film or TV adaptation: “When will Hollywood discover Georgette Heyer?” at Vox. I’d say that Georgette Heyer is at least genre-adjacent, since a lot of SFF fans seem to like her and Regency romance in general. Plus, Regency dancing is a thing at many cons.

…[Jane] Austen’s relative lack of sentiment also helped her gain popularity and respect as a writer in a male-dominated century of literature. While other women writers of her time like Fanny Burney were reviled as trashy, Austen’s lack of interest in high drama and romance made her work acceptable to male readers as well as to women. One 19th-century critic wrote approvingly that “she sets her face zealously against romantic attachments.”

That patriarchal lack of respect for the art of writing about love may also explain why few outside of romance fans have ever heard of Austen’s primary successor: Georgette Heyer. Despite singlehandedly creating the modern romance, Heyer is still a niche author. And though she has nearly 10 times as many books available for cinematic adaptation as Austen, Hollywood has yet to discover her….

(16) PARALLAX VIEWS OF WESTEROS. George R.R. Martin introduces The Rise Of The Dragon” at Not A Blog and explains how it complements Fire & Blood. Sample art at the link.

We’re so excited to announce The Rise of The Dragon, a lavish visual history of House Targaryen – the iconic family at the heart of HBO’s Game of Thrones prequel series, House of the Dragon – featuring over 180 all-new illustrations!

For those of you who are wondering: What’s the difference between The Rise of the Dragon and Fire & Blood? Think of The Rise of the Dragon as a deluxe reference book, in which Westeros’ most infamous family – and their dragons – come to life in partnership with some truly incredible artists.

Fire & Blood was scribed as a grandmaesters’ account of events from Aegon Targaryen’s conquest of Westeros through to the infamous Dance of the Dragons, the civil war that nearly undid the Targaryen rule. The Rise of the Dragon will cover the same time period, but is written in a more encyclopedic style similar to The World of Ice and Fire. In fact, The World of Ice and Fire authors Elio M. García, Jr. and Linda Antonsson have returned to help with this tome. …

(17) AIRING ON THE SIDE OF CAUTION. [Item by Daniel Dern.] From the “By The Book” weekly interview in the NY Times (Sunday) Book Review section, 3/20/22, with Jeremy Denk, a question that IIRC is part of every interview:

Q: What books are on your night stand.

A: In Manhattan, my night stand has become commandeered by a CPAP machine. I chose breathing over reading.

He then goes on to list books elsewhere in his domicile(s).

(18) IT’S FOR YOU. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] The BBC shows it’s possible to walk outside with a mobile phone “as big as a walkie talkie” and make a phone call in this clip from a 1974 episode of Blue Peter.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Lise Andreasen, Olav Rokne, Daniel Dern, Cora Buhlert, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern, who calls it his Tolkien cowboy title.]

Pixel Scroll 3/12/22 Objects In The Scroll Are More Pixelated Than They Appear

(1) THE MASTER’S VOICE. “Hoard of the rings: ‘lost’ scripts for BBC Tolkien drama discoveredreports the Guardian. These artifacts of previously lost radio history include notes in Tolkien’s hand.

Decades before Peter Jackson directed his epic adaptations of The Lord of the RingsJRR Tolkien was involved with the first ever dramatisation of his trilogy, but its significance was not realised in the 1950s and the BBC’s audio recordings are believed to have been destroyed.

Now an Oxford academic has delved into the BBC archives and discovered the original scripts for the two series of 12 radio episodes broadcast in 1955 and 1956, to the excitement of fellow scholars.

Tolkien’s fantasy masterpiece was dramatised by producer Terence Tiller, whose scribbled markings on the manuscript no doubt reflect his detailed discussions with the author in correspondence and meetings. Among the typed pages is a sheet in Tolkien’s hand, with red crossings-out, showing his own reworking of a scene….

(2) RED DOG AT MOURNING. Vanity Fair takes readers “Inside the Succession Drama at Scholastic, Where ‘Harry Potter’ and ‘Clifford’ Hang in the Balance”, where the infighting continues over control of Scholastic after the death of longtime CEO Dick Robinson, which is now led by an executive who refuses to speak to the press.

The bleak grind of the pandemic had been wearing Dick Robinson down, just like everybody else. He’d been working long days in the near-empty SoHo Headquarters of Scholastic, the $1.2 billion corporation he ran, which his father founded more than 100 years ago. He was trying to keep the business powering on as schools shut down across the country, taking with them Scholastic’s legendary in-person bookfairs. He began spending weekends and holidays on Martha’s Vineyard, where he and his ex-wife Helen Benham had bought a place in the ’90s. The house in bucolic Chilmark still served as a retreat for Benham and their adult sons, Ben and Reece. One Friday last June, the exes talked late into the night about their plans for the family’s future together as well as for the company. The next day, during a ramble on the island’s Peaked Hill trails with Helen, Reece, and the family dog, Darla, Robinson collapsed from a stroke.

His sudden death was shocking, but then came another seismic surprise: Robinson had left controlling shares of the family company to a Canadian executive named Iole Lucchese, the company’s chief strategy officer and head of Scholastic Entertainment—and now, in the wake of his death, the chair of the board. With Peter Warwick as newly minted CEO, Lucchese would oversee a children’s media empire crammed with beloved (and lucrative) franchises like Clifford the Big Red Dog, Harry Potter, Captain Underpants, Animorphs, and The Magic School Bus in an era when Hollywood eagerly devours literary properties to feed the ever-flowing streamers. A Wall Street Journal story aired plenty of dirty laundry about Scholastic’s “messy succession” and the ascendance of Lucchese, Robinson’s “former girlfriend,” who had also inherited all of Robinson’s personal possessions. Robinson’s two sons began to consider contesting the will.

While Scholastic publicly closed ranks around Lucchese, a protective corporate force field, current and veteran employees privately traded bewildered gossip. The executive suites had already been gladiatorial, people said, with shifting alliances and backstabbing betrayals more suited to Game of Thrones than a wholesome children’s media company. Now, they argued over whether Lucchese was suited to the job, whether she could keep the place from being chopped up or sold off. And they pondered the shadow Robinson’s personal life had cast over the innovative, far-reaching business he had built around his deeply felt mission to get children to read books.

“It’s worse than a normal death because of the sense of betrayal that everybody’s feeling,” says a longtime former employee. “A big mistake is what it was.”…

(3) NO SAINT. A new critical biography of Stephen Hawking is rebutted by a former student and friend, Bernard Carr, in “Underselling Hawking” at Inference.

STEPHEN HAWKING WAS an icon of twentieth-century science, renowned for both his contributions to physics and his inspiring battle against motor neuron disease. But four years after his death, Charles Seife’s Hawking Hawking paints a different picture. As indicated by its provocative title, this book is no hagiography. Seife disparages Hawking on three levels, arguing that his status as a great physicist has been exaggerated, cataloging his various personal failings, and suggesting that he was a genius at self-promotion, his iconic status being attributable to media manipulation.

As one of Hawking’s first PhD students and his friend for forty years, I do not share Seife’s views.

Although his status as a physicist was sometimes exaggerated by the media, Hawking was undoubtedly one of the brightest stars within the relativistic community. Indeed, his discovery of black-hole quantum radiation was one of the key insights of twentieth-century physics. Hawking certainly had his failings, as acknowledged by the people who loved and admired him the most, but it is misleading to elevate these above his strengths: his courage, sense of humor, and determination to live life to the full, despite the relentless progress of his illness….

(4) TWO MORE JOHN CARTER RETROSPECTIVES. “On its 10th anniversary, TheWrap goes inside the birth, death and rebirth of the sci-fi blockbuster” — “The Untold Story of Disney’s $307 Million Bomb ‘John Carter’: ‘It’s a Disaster’”.

…[Andrew] Stanton had been following the various iterations of “John Carter” for years. “That’s something I have spent my whole life wishing somebody would make, and when I was in the industry from maybe the ’90s on, if I ever heard even the slightest rumor it might get made, I would get all excited like a fanboy and go, I’ll be the first in line to go and see it,” Stanton said. “I never had the hubris to think that’s something I would want to do or could do.” But when the Favreau iteration fell apart, something stirred inside him. “It was one of those kismet moments where I’m like, It’s so crazy, it just might work, you know?”

Disney didn’t own the rights yet. But Stanton went to the top brass and made, as he says, “an impassioned plea.”

“I had nothing to lose because it wasn’t like I had to do this in the sense of I have no career or that I needed the next paycheck or something like that,” Stanton said. Instead, he told the execs, “I think these things are about to fall into public domain and I think you could reinterpret them to be something that could be digested today.” Stanton was envisioning a classic tale for modern audiences. “I remember saying, ‘Fine if I don’t make it, but you should be the ones making it,’” Stanton said. “And I meant it. I thought it had the potential to just be a big franchise.”…

“John Carter director Andrew Stanton reveals for the first time his plans for the opening scenes of the abandoned sequel, titled Gods of Mars” – “Cancelled John Carter 2 Story Revealed By Director” at Screen Rant.

…Stanton goes on to reveal that Carter arriving on Mars is actually later than the prologue would have audiences believe, and Deja has gone missing. He also compares the film’s plot to Beneath the Planet of the Apes, showing how the Therns control the whole planet. The opening description does align with the second novel in Edgar Rice Burroughs series, The Gods of Mars. Stanton has previously revealed the title of the second film would be Gods of Mars, and the third film would have been titled Warlord of Mars, yet this is the first time the writer and director has shared any major details about the sequel films….

(5) IN THEIR OWN WORDS. “An Urgent Mission for Literary Translators: Bringing Ukrainian Voices to the West” – the New York Times tells how it’s being accomplished.

As Russian forces breached the border with Ukraine late last month, Kate Tsurkan issued an urgent call for help on social media.

Tsurkan, a translator who lives in Chernivtsi, a city in western Ukraine, wanted to give international readers a glimpse of what ordinary Ukrainians are experiencing — and to counter President Vladimir V. Putin’s claim that Ukraine and Russia “are one people” by highlighting Ukraine’s distinct literary and linguistic heritage.

What she needed, she said, was to get Ukrainian writers published in English. She needed translators.

The response was swift and overwhelming: Messages poured in from translators and writers like Jennifer Croft, Uilleam Blacker and Tetyana Denford, and from editors who wanted to polish and publish their work. As the war escalated, so did their effort. Soon, they had a dedicated group of literary translators — who often spend years working on books for small academic presses — speed translating essays, poems and wartime dispatches.

“We need to elevate Ukrainian voices right now,” said Tsurkan, an associate director at the Tompkins Agency for Ukrainian Literature in Translation, or Tault.

 (6) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1971 [Item by Cat Eldridge] Fifty-one years ago today, The Andromeda Strain premiered. It was based off the novel by Michael Crichton. This novel had appeared in the New York Times Best Seller list, establishing Crichton as a genre writer. The screenplay was written by Nelson Gidding, whose previous genre work was his screenplay for The Haunting, based on Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House

Robert Wise directed, who you’ll no doubt recognize for his earlier work on West Side Story and The Sound of Music.

The primary cast was Arthur Hill as Dr. Jeremy Stone, James Olson as Dr. Mark Hall, David Wayne as Dr. Charles Dutton and Kate Reid as Dr. Ruth Leavitt. 

Produced on what was considered a high budget of six point five million, with special effects designed by Douglas Trumbull, it made a profit of six million in the States. 

So how did it fare among critics? Roger Ebert in his syndicated column at the time said of it that, “On the level of fiction, ‘The Andromeda Strain’ is a splendid entertainment that will get you worried about whether they’ll be able to contain that strange blob of alien green crystal.” And Kevin Maher of The Times was equally enthusiastic: “The Sound of Music director Robert Wise executed a spectacular volte-face with this sombre and painstakingly realistic scientific procedural about an alien micro-organism that threatens all life on Earth.” 

Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a seventy two rating. 

It was nominated for a Hugo at the first L.A. Con, the year A Clockwork Orange won.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 12, 1879 Alfred Abel. His best-known performance was as Joh Fredersen in Fritz Lang’s Metropolis.  It wasn’t his only genre as Phantom, a 1922 German film, was fantasy, and my German is just good enough forty years after I studied it to see that much of his work could be considered genre or genre adjacent. (Died 1937.)
  • 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 MoonHansel and Gretel and Andersen’s Fairy TalesEast 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: The Great BeastThe Magic of Aleister CrowleyThe 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 is 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!, the genesis of Soylent Green (a film which won a Hugo at DisCon II). It garnered a Nebula as well.  He was nominated for Hugos at Seacon for Deathworld, then at Chicon III for Sense Obligation, also known as Planet of the Damned.  I just realized I’ve never read the Deathworld series. So how are these? See our anniversary post on the Alex Cox animated version of Bill, the Galactic Hero here. And he was named a SFWA Grand Master in 2009 — a outstanding honor indeed! (Died 2012.)
  • Born March 12, 1933 Myrna Fahey. 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 on The Time Tunnel and Adventures of Superman. Cancer took her at just forty years. Damn it. (Died 1973.)
  • Born March 12, 1933 Barbara Feldon, 89. 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 2Tales from the Crypt and voiced a character on Henson’s Dinosaurs. (Died 2008.) 
  • Born March 12, 1960 Courtney B. Vance, 62. 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.

(8) COMICS SECTION.

(9) RED’S MOM. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Washington Post, Michael Cavna interviews Domee Shi, director of Turning Red, which “is not only the first Pixar film to be solo-directed by a woman.  It also continues Pixar’s growth with personal stories along matrilineal lines.” “’Turning Red’ shows how Disney and Pixar movies are embracing mother-daughter relationships”.

…For “Turning Red,” Shi mined her own life for a story set in early-aughts Toronto, as 13-year-old Meilin “Mei” Lee (voiced by Rosalie Chiang) rebels against the hovering control of her mother, Ming (Sandra Oh). The supernatural secret in this Chinese-Canadian family, though, is that Mei suddenly begins turning into a giant red panda when her emotions are inflamed.

“I was her,” says Shi, who is in her early 30s. “I was Mei when I was 13 — I was this dorky, confident, obsessive girl who thought she had her life under control. I was her mom’s little perfect daughter and then one day woke up, and everything changed: my body, my emotions, my relationship with my mom — I was fighting with her every day.”…

(10) PULP WARS. Lots of inside stuff the actor’s Star Wars career in this article based on his TV interviews: “Samuel L. Jackson says he didn’t ask for a ‘Pulp Fiction’ engraving on his ‘Star Wars’ lightsaber: ‘They did that because they loved me’” at Yahoo!

…During the interview on “The Graham Norton Show,” Jackson said he asked George Lucas, the creator of “Star Wars,” for his fictional weapon to be purple so that he would be able to find himself in the battle scene in the second prequel movie, “Star Wars: Attack of the Clones.”

“I said to George, ‘You think maybe I can get a purple lightsaber?'” Jackson said. “He’s like, ‘Lightsabers are green, or lightsabers are red.’ And I’m like, ‘Yeah, but I want a purple one. I’m like the second-baddest Jedi in the universe next to Yoda.’ He’s like, ‘Let me think about it.'”

The “Shaft” actor added: “And when I came back to do reshoots, he said, ‘I’m going to show you something. It’s already caused a shitstorm online.’ And he had the purple lightsaber, and I was like, ‘Yeah!'”

(11) HE’S EVEN STRANGER. Marvel explains Baron Mordo, nemesis of Doctor Strange in the comics.

Langston Belton explains how Baron Mordo becomes a villain and primary enemy of Doctor Strange by aligning himself with monsters of the multiverse like Dormammu, Mephisto, and more!

(12) A MISS IS AS GOOD AS A MILE. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] After initial calculations that showed a newly-discovered 230-foot asteroid will hit the Earth next year, we’ve been given a reprieve. The initial data looked bad, then the asteroid disappeared from view because its line of site was close to that of the bright Moon.

After a little while on pins and needles, additional data showed that it will miss in 2023 by over 5 million miles. That’s good, since it could’ve caused an explosion the size of the atomic bomb leveled Hiroshima. “230-foot wide asteroid initially expected to hit Earth in 2023 was false alarm” at USA Today.

… Astronomers had been concerned that there wasn’t enough time to prepare a defense system against the asteroid had it been on track to strike Earth. In November, NASA launched the DART system, which will seek to determine whether crashing a spacecraft into an asteroid could change its course. The spacecraft is expected to hit the asteroid moon of Didymos in September. 

(13) CATCH ‘EM ALL. If he didn’t feel sick before, he does now. “Georgia man gets 3 years in prison for spending nearly $60,000 in COVID-19 relief money on a Pokémon card” at Yahoo!

… 31-year-old Vinath Oudomsine has been sentenced to 36 months in prison after admitting he used nearly $60,000 in COVID-19 relief funds to buy a Pokémon card, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Georgia. He pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud.

Oudomsine applied for a COVID-19 relief loan from the Small Business Administration, supposedly for an “entertainment services” business, and he received $85,000, prosecutors said. But he allegedly lied on the application and spent $57,789 of the relief money he received to buy a Charizard card.

Oudomsine was ordered to pay restitution of $85,000, and he was fined $10,000 and given three years of supervised release after his prison sentence is completed. He also agreed to forfeit the card….

(14) A TICK AWAY. J.G. Ballard discusses his fictions set “five minutes into the future” in the 2003 BBC profile hosted by Tom Sutcliffe.

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “The Batman Pitch Meeting,” Ryan George, in a spoiler-filled episode, says that The Batman is dark–so dark “They have one lightbulb per household” in Gotham City.  The next Batman movie, says the writer, will be so dark “we can show a completely black screen” and have the characters read a Batman audiobook to save money.  Also, in The Batman, while Batman is “dark and brooding” Bruce Wayne is “brooding and dark.”

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Rob Thornton, Jeffrey Smith, Alan Baumler, Steven French, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Peer, in creative conversation with Soon Lee.]

Pixel Scroll 3/10/22 No Pixels Were Harmed In The Production Of This Scroll

(1) ANALYZING SANDERSON’S KICKSTARTER SUCCESS. Kristine Kathryn Rusch has an in-depth commentary about a seismic event in self-publishing, “Business Musings: Brandon’s Kickstarter”.

… If the past is any indication, however, these big Kickstarters increase the people who watch  the category and, to use the cliched phrase, they will become the rising tide that will lift all boats.

That’s the small picture.

The larger one? Smart traditionally published bestsellers should be looking closely at this. Smart unpublished writers should use this as a wake-up call.

Traditional publishing will never pay its writers tens of millions for unnamed projects. Traditional publishing can barely afford the million-dollar advances these days.

And please, remember, the Kickstarter numbers are only the beginning of the earnings on these books. These books will live for decades. Brandon will earn money on them for decades—without licensing any of the copyright to some gigantic corporate entity that does not have his best interest at heart.

Also, remember that this Kickstarter is advertising. It’s introducing millions of readers to Brandon Sanderson. These new readers are asking Who is this guy and why is he getting so much money? What are these new readers going to do? Why, they’re going to buy a backlist book and try to read it before the Kickstarter ends.

His published book sales are going to increase dramatically. So the tens of millions he’s earning on the Kickstarter does not count the other ways this Kickstarter is benefitting him financially. Nor is it counting the promotion value that he’s getting from projects that he felt inspired to write.

There’s a lot more to unpack—from some of the innovations he’s doing to the impact on the fantasy and science fiction field. But for the moment, I’m stopping here.

If you’re one of the sour grapes people, perhaps you should ask yourself why you’re being so very negative. Are you jealous? Or scared?

The rest of you should watch what happens next. This is a very big deal. For all of us.

(2) KDP WTF. Philip Beaufoy, author of the Lochwood Series, is another casualty of a sudden and unexplained Kindle Direct Publishing account closure.

(3) LOVE IS ALL AROUND. The SFWA Blog’s “Romancing Sci-Fi & Fantasy” series begins with Alex Chantel’s “I See Romance … Everywhere!”

… I see romance everywhere, on all levels, and it makes me love the books I read even more. There are books without romance, that don’t need romance, and readers that are perfectly happy without it. But borrowing from the romance genre can strengthen a story and the readers’ connection to the characters. 

We all want to craft memorable characters, and the strong ones can become more enduring with a partner—two are stronger than one, as the adage goes. Princess Leia and Han Solo from Star Wars—closely followed by Ben and Rey. Paul and Chani from Dune. Nahri and Ali from S.A. Chakraborty’s Daevabad Trilogy. K and Chloe from Terry Miles’s Rabbits. Euthalia and Conrí from Jeffe Kennedy’s Forgotten Empires series. Niko and Petalia from Cat Rambo’s You Sexy Thing. Some of those names may strike a romantic chord within you?…

(4) DISNEY RECORD ON LGBTQIA+ SET STRAIGHT. Deadline reports a “Internal Pixar Letter Disputes Disney’s Support Of LGBTQIA+ Employees & Questions Company’s Commitment to Change”. (The full text of the letter is quoted at the end of Variety’s coverage.)

Shortly after Disney CEO Bob Chapek spoke out publicly against Florida’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill today, a very pointed response began circulating internally at the studio. A letter signed by “The LGBTQIA+ employees of Pixar, and their allies” took Chapek to task. It refuted, point by point, an internal memo Chapek sent to employees on Monday and also criticized the fact that the company “did not take a hard stance in support of the LGBTQIA+” at the shareholder meeting.

“Monday’s email, ‘Our Unwavering Commitment to the LGBTQ+ Community,’ rang hollow,” read the LGBTQIA+ letter. It said Chapek’s communication “began with the claim that Disney has a long history of supporting the LGBT community, but Disney Parks did not officially host Pride until 2019, in Paris alone. Disney has a history of shutting down fan-created Pride events in the parks, even removing same-sex couples for dancing together in the 1980’s.”

The letter goes on to say the corporation is “capitalizing on Pride” through merchandising, specifically The Rainbow Mickey Collection.

“It feels terrible to be a part of a company that makes money from Pride merch when it chooses to ‘step back’ in times of our greatest need, when our rights are at risk,” the letter asserts.

The “step back” bit is likely a reference to Chapek’s assertion at a shareholders’ annual meeting today that “we chose not to take a public position on [the bill] because we felt we could be more effective working behind the scenes, engaging directly with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.” It later came out that Chapek had only reached out to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis very recently….

… Finally, the letter damningly addresses Chapek’s repeated insistence that the best way for Disney to make change is through creating “powerful content that changes hearts and minds.”

It reads [in part]:

“We at Pixar have personally witnessed beautiful stories, full of diverse characters, come back from Disney corporate reviews shaved down to crumbs of what they once were. Nearly every moment of overtly gay affection is cut at Disney’s behest, regardless of when there is protest from both the creative teams and executive leadership at Pixar. Even if creating LGBTQIA+ content was the answer to fixing the discriminatory legislation in the world, we are being barred from creating it.”

(5) CALL TO REMOVE A 2023 WORLDCON GOH. SF² Concatenation has tweeted the link to an editorial comment ahead of its next seasonal edition (slated for April). Read it here.

Science fiction is far more than a genre, it enthuses science and warns of possible futures, among much else. More, many of its aficionados are part of a community: a community that crosses nations. Sometimes that community needs to nail its colours to the mast. Now, at this moment in time, due to circumstances up-to-now unthought-of in the early 21st century, those colours are blue and yellow….

On Wednesday, 2nd March (2022), the UN moved to condemn Russia’s war on Ukraine. 141 nations supported that call: only Belarus, Syria, North Korea and Eritrea supported Russia, while China, Cuba and Venezuela abstained. And here’s the thing, if China is abstaining then arguably the 2023 SF Worldcon should dis-invite Sergei Lukyanenko as a Guest of Honour: Lukyanenko has repeatedly and publicly proclaimed his support for his nation’s war against Ukraine…

In particular, there is one person in the west who is currently due to share the platform at the 2023 Worldcon with Lukyanenko. Is that something he really wants to do?…

(6) REVIEWING SFF. Strange Horizons hosts “The Author and the Critic I: Christopher Priest and Paul Kincaid”, featuring the two named figures discussing the present and future of sff criticism. They begin at the beginning.

Christoper Priest: Before I wrote and published my first novel I had already written several amateurish book reviews. I was young and inexperienced, unguided, learning slowly as I went along. I was writing for fanzines published by Peter Weston and Charles Platt, and others. It was a way of writing something and seeing it in print—or at least, typed out by someone else, which at the time felt almost as good because after the process of being retyped, with bits cut out or changed or just got wrong, it looked different. By looking different it made me read it again and look at it with some objectivity. Overall, it was much easier and quicker to write an opinion piece on a new book by Brian N. Ball or Ken Bulmer than write a novel of my own. None of this counted in the long run, of course, although I still think for a beginning writer it was a good way to learn.

Paul Kincaid: Personally, I can’t remember a time when I didn’t read reviews. This goes back to a time when newspapers used to publish things like book reviews and film reviews. But I never thought about writing them until I started getting involved in fandom…. 

(7) MORE FROM THE WORLDCON. Morgan Hazelwood posts her notes about another DisCon III panel: “The Nuts and Bolts of Chapters”. (She also presents the material in a YouTube video.)

The panelists for the titular panel were: Ada Palmer, Aparna Verma, Elle E. Ire, Nancy Kress, and Patricia A. Jackson, with Delia Sherman as moderator.

The panel description was as follows:

Do you even need chapters? How long should they be? Should you title your chapters or just number them? Where do you break a chapter, and how do you write a good cliffhanger? How do you write chapters with multiple character points of view? So much to discuss for such a small topic!

While the panelists didn’t address all of these, they shared some valuable tips.

(8) UNMADE HITCHCOCK PROJECT. “Alfred Hitchcock once planned a sci-fi epic, which he envisaged as ‘a projection into the life of a generation ahead’” – BFI looks back at “Hitchcock’s sci-fi movie, ‘a forecast of days to come’”.

… News of Hitchcock’s sci-fi project broke in October 1926, a month after The Lodger was first shown to the press. P.L. Mannock of the Kinematograph Weekly, who had spoken to Hitchcock about his “film laid in the future”, wrote that “If we except ‘Metropolis,’ it will be the first screen forecast of days to come,” the last words being a deliberate reference to a novella by one of Lang’s inspirations, H.G. Wells. “Television will be used dramatically, and Sir Alan Cobham will probably be consultant on big episodes of the air.”…

(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1964 [Item by Cat Eldridge]

“My specialty is wisdom. Do you know what wisdom is?””- Dr. Lao

“No sir.” – Mike 

“Wise answer.” – Dr. Lao

Fifty-eight years ago, 7 Faces of Dr. Lao premiered. It was George Pal’s last directorial effort. As you well know, it’s based off of Charles G. Finney’s The Circus of Dr. Lao. (There is now a Kindle edition of The Circus of Dr. Lao though it won’t be mistaken for a Meredith Moment.) It was nominated for a Hugo at Loncon II, the year Dr. Strangelove won. 

The screenplay was by Beaumont, who wrote twenty-two Twilight Zone episodes which given he died at 38 is quite astonishing, and Ben Hecht (originally uncredited), whose most notable work was Alfred Hitchcock’s Spellbound and Notorious, though he did have a genre credit writing The Thing from Outer Space, an early Fifties film. He also did uncredited work on Casino Royale.

Tony Randall played myriad roles in the 7 Faces of Dr. Lao including of course Dr. Lao, the Mysterious Visitor. And if you look carefully, you spot Randall simply as himself sans any makeup as a silent audience member. He also voices the Serpent, a stop-motion animated snake which has the face of another actor. Quite a performance indeed. 

Pal originally wanted Peter Sellers for the role of Dr. Lao and Sellers very much wanted to do the role. However, MGM had Randall under contract who was far cheaper than Sellers would’ve been. 

Pal also saved quite a bit of money here by reusing footage from Atlantis, the Lost Continent and The Time Machine. The Woldercan spectacular that Dr. Lao does as his grand finale of his circus is drawn entirely from the former. 

Pal has stated that it’s only film that he lost money on. It made just one million and I can’t find any mention of how much the production costs were but they were obviously higher than the very small box office was.

So how was it received? The Hollywood Reporter at the time said Randall’s performance was “a dazzling display of virtuosity, in some stunning makeup created by Bill Tuttle.” Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give a very strong rating of seventy-eight percent.

I don’t believe it’s streaming anywhere but you can rent it pretty much everywhere. Or you can buy it for little more than a Meredith Moment. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 10, 1891 Sam Jaffe, His first role was in Lost Horizon as the High Lama and much later in The Day the Earth Stood Still playing Professor Jacob Barnhardt. Later on we find him in The Dunwich Horror as Old Whateley, voicing Bookman in Bedknobs and Broomsticks, playing The Old-Man in The Tell-Tale Heart, and in his last film, appearing in Battle Beyond the Stars as Dr. Hephaestus. John Sayles wrote the script for the latter surprisingly enough. (Died 1984.)
  • Born March 10, 1905 Richard Haydn. Actor who appeared in a number of genre undertakings including voicing the Caterpillar in the early Fifties Alice in Wonderland, Professor Summerlee in the early Sixties version of The Lost World and Herr Falkstein in Young Frankenstein. I’d be very remiss not to note his appearance on The Twilight Zone as Bartlett Finchley in the chilling “A Thing About Machines”. And he had one offs on BewitchedShirley Temple’s Storybook and The Man from U.N.C.L.E., in the “The Mad, Mad Tea Party Affair” an unusual episode as it takes place almost entirely within U.N.C.L.E headquarters. (Died 1985.)
  • Born March 10, 1918 Theodore Cogswell. He wrote almost forty science fiction stories, most of them humorous, and was the co-author of a Trek novel, Spock, Messiah!, with Joe Spano Jr. He’s perhaps best remembered as the editor of the Proceedings of the Institute for Twenty-First Century Studies in which writers and editors discussed theirs and each other’s works. A full collection of which was published during 1993 except, as EoSF notes “for one issue dealing with a particularly ugly controversy involving Walter M Miller.”  Having not read these, I’ve no idea, what this details, but I’m betting one of y’all know. (Died 1987.)
  • Born March 10, 1921 Cec Linder. He’s best remembered for playing Dr. Matthew Roney in the BBC produced Quatermass and the Pit series in the later Fifties, and for his role as James Bond’s friend, CIA agent Felix Leiter, in Goldfinger. He also appeared on Alfred Hitchcock PresentsVoyage to the Bottom of the Sea, the Amerika series, The Ray Bradbury Theatre and The New Avengers. (Died 1992.)
  • Born March 10, 1938 Marvin Kaye. Editor of Weird Tales, he also edited magazines such as H. P. Lovecraft’s Magazine of Horror and Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine. His Cold Blue Light novels with Parke Godwin are quite superb. The Fair Folk anthology which is most excellent and which he edited won a World Fantasy Award. He wrote the “Marvin Kaye’s Nth Dimension” for the Space and Time website. (Died 2021.)
  • Born March 10, 1938 Ken Sobol. New to our Birthday honors list. I will single him out for having personally received Astrid Lindgren’s personal blessing to write the Pippi Longstocking series which he worked on with puppeteer Noreen Young. He also contributed scripts to Batman, Curious GeorgeG.I. JoeGeorge of the JungleHardy BoysHighlander, Superman, and Wizard of Id, and that’s hardly a complete listing.  He also wrote one of the best works done on baseball, Babe Ruth and the American Dream. (Died 2010.)
  • Born March 10, 1951 Christopher Hinz, 71. His Liege Killer novel, the first in his most excellent Paratwa Saga, won the Compton Crook Award, the BSFS Award for the Best First Novel. (And yes, there is a prequel, Binary Storm, which was written much later.) He was nominated for an Astounding Award for Best New Writer. 
  • Born March 10, 1956 Robert Llewellyn, 66. He plays the mechanoid Kryten in the Red Dwarf series. His It2i2 which was a television show about AI depicting fictional events but presented as a documentary. And he played a gryphon in the oh-so-superb MirrorMask

(11) AFROFUTURISM. The Schomburg Center’s 10th Annual Black Comic Book Festival in partnership with Carnegie Hall’s Afrofuturism Festival! Presents “Black Feminist Futures Series: Planting for the Future”.

The Black Feminist Futures Series features programs highlighting the powerful and long-standing relationship between Afrofuturism and Black feminism in genres ranging from literature, film, art, fashion, and community organizing. Planting for the Future, a virtual conversation on Black women’s participation in Afrofuturism through literature, film, art, fashion, and community organizing. The program features Dr. Andrea Hairston (author of Master of Poisons), Sheree Renee Thomas (author of Nine Bar Blues), Tananarive Due (author of The Between: A Novel), and Tanaya Denise Fields (founder of Black Feminist Project & Black Joy Farm, and author of “Dirty Business: The Messy Affair of Rejecting Shame” in the book You Are Your Best Thing). Moderated by Dr. Chesya Burke.

(12) GAIMAN MIRACLEMAN REPRINT. Following the herald of his return in Timeless #1 and the announcement of an all-new omnibus, Marvel Comics continues to mark the 40th anniversary of Miracleman’s modern era with a new printing of award-winning writer Neil Gaiman and artist Mark Buckingham’s redefining work on the character.

 Arriving in October, Miracleman By Gaiman & Buckingham Book 1: The Golden Age TPB will collect the first six issues of Gaiman and Buckingham’s groundwork to give a legendary super hero a fascinating future —a future that will now come to pass! Available for the first time in paperback, the Miracleman By Gaiman & Buckingham Book 1: The Golden Age TPB will give fans a chance to revisit this beloved era of Miracleman ahead of the exciting plans Marvel has in store for the iconic character later this year.

Atop Olympus, Miracleman presides over a brave new world forged from London’s destruction. It is a world free of war, of famine, of poverty. A world of countless wonders. A world where pilgrims scale Olympus’ peak to petition their living god, while miles below the dead return in fantastic android bodies. It is an Age of Miracles — but is humankind ready for it? Do we even want it? Is there a place for humanity in a world of gods? Gaiman and Buckingham delve into the lives of lonely idealists, rebellious schoolchildren and fracturing families, exploring the human constant in a changing world of gods and miracles.

(13) STAR WARS FAN NEWS. “’Star Wars’ fans are raising money for transgender youth”Yahoo! Life has the details. (The direct link to the GoFundMe is here: “Fundraiser by The Amidala Initiative (A Community Effort) : The Amidala Initiative for Equality Texas”. They have raised $8,292 of their $25,000 goal as of this writing.)

…Fans of the Star Wars franchise can relate to Padmé Amidala, a character from the Star Wars prequel trilogy played by Natalie Portman, for a multitude of reasons, from her troubled romance with Anakin Skywalker to her desire to do her best to protect her people.

It’s the latter that inspired the Amidala Initiative, a group of Star Wars fans and content creators who have joined … forces … to raise money for Texas advocacy organization Equality Texas after Texas Governor Greg Abbott directed the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services to investigate the parents of trans children who have had or are seeking elective gender-affirming procedures or treatments.

“We, the undersigned, are 77 fan content creators, podcasters, YouTubers, TikTokers, artists, writers and cosplayers who have joined together to use our limited platforms to stand in solidarity with our trans siblings and their families in Texas,” a GoFundMe site for the Amidala Initiative states. “No child should fear that their teachers will report their parents to the government for allowing them to live as their true gender. No parent should fear criminal charges for supporting their transgender child and helping them seek therapeutic and medical support to treat their gender dysphoria … this is something we refuse to stand by silently for.”…

(14) DOES NOT PLAY WELL WITH OTHERS. Radio Times listens in as “Christopher Eccleston rules out Doctor Who multi-Doctor story return”.

…However, according to the latest comments from The A Word star, there’s seemingly no chance he would return for a 60th anniversary team-up special currently rumoured for 2023.

He told crowds at Australian convention Supanova: “I’ve never been a fan of multi-Doctor stories. When I worked on the series, I had really strong ideas about what works and what doesn’t, and I always think that multi-Doctor stories are a bit of a cash-in, and a bit of exploitation.

“Creatively, they never worked for me. I looked at the script for the 50th anniversary and I felt as soon as I said I wasn’t doing it it got better because, well, if I’m not in it, it’s better. The creation of the War Doctor introduced a whole new facet to the canon.”

Interestingly though, a later comment from Eccleston suggested he would consider returning to Doctor Who in live-action for a solo storyline following the Ninth Doctor.

He added: “The Ninth Doctor, in particular, is a one-man band. Definitely. So he doesn’t work with other Doctors. If you want me back, you’d get me on my own.”

(15) HEAR FROM EDITORS. Space Cowboy Books will host an online panel discussion “Beyond the Submission Guidelines” on March 29 at 6:00 p.m. Pacific. Register for free here.

Join us for an online panel discussion with editors of SF/F magazines. Learn about the behind the scenes of running science fiction and fantasy magazines with editors: Arley Sorg (Locus & Fantasy Magazines), F.J. Bergmann (Mobius & Weird House), Rob Carroll (Dark Matter Magazine), and JW Stebner (Hexagon Magazine)

(16) PREDICTING THE PAST. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Inscriptions provide an invaluable insight into the ancient world. But over the centuries, many inscriptions have been damaged and exist in fragmented or semi-legible forms, making the job of reading and interpreting them extremely difficult. In this week’s issue of Nature, “Restoring and attributing ancient texts using deep neural networks”, Yannis Assael, Thea Sommerschield and their team introduce Ithaca, a deep neural network designed to help historians restore and understand ancient Greek inscriptions. Working alone, Ithaca is able to restore damaged texts with a 62% accuracy, but when historians use Ithaca, their accuracy on the same task rises to 72%. Ithaca can also determine the original geographical location of inscriptions with 71% accuracy, and can date them to within 30 years from the date ranges proposed by historians. The researchers say that such cooperation between artificial intelligence and historians could help transform studies of the ancient world. 

(17) SOUNDTRACK OF SPACE. NASA’s Chandra X-Ray Observatory page hosts a “Sonification Collection” – maybe there is a “music of the spheres.”

…By translating the inherently digital data (in the form of ones and zeroes) captured by telescopes in space into images, astronomers create visual representations that would otherwise be invisible to us.

But what about experiencing these data with other senses like hearing? Sonification is the process that translates data into sound, and a new project brings the center of the Milky Way to listeners for the first time. The translation begins on the left side of the image and moves to the right, with the sounds representing the position and brightness of the sources. The light of objects located towards the top of the image are heard as higher pitches while the intensity of the light controls the volume. Stars and compact sources are converted to individual notes while extended clouds of gas and dust produce an evolving drone….

There’s a demonstration in this tweet:

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Arthur C. Clarke chats with Dick Cavett about 2001, life on other planets, and perpetual motion machines in this clip from a 1972 Dick Cavett Show. “Arthur C. Clarke on Why Aliens Would Be Superior To Humans”.

English science-fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke discusses the on-going research in astronomy into discovering new planets and how he believes there is life on other planets, although we don’t know it yet.

[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, rcade, Phil Nichols, mlex, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jim Janney.]

Pixel Scroll 2/11/22 They’re Creepy And They’re Scrolly, The Pixel Family

(1) EMPOWERING LIBRARIES. “Texas Book Ban Prompts School Librarians to Launch #FReadom Fighters” reports Publishers Weekly.  (The #FReadom website is here.)

In response to Texas Rep. Matt Krause’s published list of 850 books on race and sexuality that he targeted for their subject matter —many of which were pulled from school library shelves—a group of Texas school librarians has decided to push back. Last November, they orchestrated #FReadom Fighters, a social media campaign with the goal of supporting authors, teachers, librarians, and students in their pursuit of intellectual freedom. In a matter of months, the organization’s work has amassed thousands of supporters, both at the state level and across the country, and incited other likeminded groups to take action.

… On launch day, November 4, 2021, #FReadom Fighters garnered 13,000 tweets, much to the organizers’ surprise. “We had planned all this in secret, so we were amazed that this was happening even before starting a Twitter account,” Foote said. “We saw ourselves as a guerilla effort, serving as a rapid response team.” The @FReadomFighters Twitter account and website soon followed, updated with weekly and monthly action plans to support fellow librarians in their day-to-day operations. Ideas for #FReadom Fridays varied, from inviting authors to show letters they had received from readers about why their books were so powerful, to asking people to share books that had had an impact on them. A more recent prompt focuses on celebrating wins: sharing success stories of books that have been put back on shelves….

(2) THE BUZZ. Lightyear opens June 17.

“Lightyear” is the definitive origin story of Buzz Lightyear—the hero who inspired the toy—follows the legendary Space Ranger on an intergalactic adventure. “Buzz’s world was always something I was excited about,” said director Angus MacLane. “In ‘Toy Story,’ there seemed to be this incredible backstory to him being a Space Ranger that’s only touched upon, and I always wanted to explore that world further. So my ‘Lighytear’ pitch was, ‘What was the movie that Andy saw that made him want a Buzz Lightyear toy?’ I wanted to see that movie. And now I’m lucky enough to get to make it.”

(3) BRADBURY’S SUPER BOWL CONNECTION. A newspaper pitched Ray to contribute to its Super Bowl XXXV (2001) special section. Did he do it?

(4) HORROR THEATER 3000. Ursula Vernon livetweeted her experience watching the horror movie Midsommar. Thread starts here.

(5) THE OFFICE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Washington Post, Adela Suliman says Britain’s Science Museum has opened an exhibit called “Stephen Hawking At Work,” which features a preserved doodle-covered blackboard and the case that held his voice synthesizer. “’Stephen Hawking at Work’ exhibition in London displays his blackboard, glasses and other belongings”.

Hawking’s daughter, Lucy, said it was “wonderful to see my father’s working environment recreated.”

“It was such a unique and fascinating environment, and I am delighted his office has been recreated in order to inspire scientists of the future,” she said in a statement.

The blackboard in the exhibit illustrates Hawking’s playful sense of humor and was used during a “Superspace and Supergravity” conference in 1980. Delegates covered it in equations, cartoons and jokes about one another. Hawking had the souvenir framed and hung in his office.

Because even small vibrations could cause the blackboard to lose chalk, Juan-Andres Leon, curator of Stephen Hawking’s Office, said in an email, “the museum applied a starch-based material to stabilise the chalk dust and enclosed it in a frame.”

(6) RIGHTS AND WRONGS. Want to own the rights to The Lord of the Rings? Can you outspend Jeff Bezos? Meanwhile, other legal shenanigans are in progress reports Yahoo! “Lord Of The Rings Mod Hit With Takedown Just As Series’ Rights Are Up For Sale”.

The bigger news first: the Saul Zantz company has owned most of the rights to Tolkien’s works since the 1970s. Almost everything that has been made based on the books in the fields of “film, video games, merchandising, live events and theme parks” has had to be negotiated and paid for accordingly. Variety reported this week though that the company is moving to sell those rights, for a sum that’s expected to be around the $2 billion mark, with Amazon expected to be front of the line to make the purchase, which seems like an absolute worst-case scenario.

So it’s weird, then, that given the timing of that sale, Warner Bros.—who currently licenses the rights to Lord of the Rings video games—have chosen February 2022 to go after a prominent and highly-anticipated mod for the Total War series called Rise of Mordor.

This mod has been around for yearswe wrote about it in 2018!—and has quietly gone about its business with the assumption that, like its popular predecessor Third Age, nobody really cared. Only now somebody clearly does, because Rise of Mordor’s Mod DB page has been hit with a takedown notice (Third Age’s, however, remains)….

(7) MAIL FROM HELL. Yesterday, Brenton Dickieson celebrated “The 80th Anniversary of C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters” at A Pilgrim in Narnia.

… As I discuss it in detail here, it is a shocking beginning for the unprepared. Who is Screwtape? Who is Wormwood? Why is Wormwood being commended for encouraging connections with materialists (atheists? naturalist? worldly people?)? Why is he rebuked for using argument as a foundation for action?

The original Screwtape Letters were an extreme use of in medias res with the potential to leave the reader completely befuddled. We all “get” Screwtape now because the genre of demonic epistolary fiction is something we might expect. It is part of pop culture. Back then, though, it was entirely new. While the editor’s little note may prepare regular readers to expect a Christian academic, readers not expecting a new, satirical genre may well be surprised….

… I don’t know anyone who has catalogued the breadth of influence that Screwtape has had within popular culture as a whole. That Monty Python’s John Cleese narrated a Grammy-nominated audiobook of The Screwtape Letters is some indication of its impact….

(8) TWO DOZEN STORIES. [Item by Daniel Dern.] A free download of 24 stories is available: “Some of the Best From Tor.com 2021 Is Out Now!” Yes, you could find these one-by-one at Tor.com. This is easier.

This anthology features twenty-four of our favorite original stories published on the site in the past year.

Of course, you can always read these—and all other—Tor.com stories  for free whenever you’d like, but starting today they will be available world-wide as a single, easy-to-read, FREE ebook, available from all your favorite vendors.

(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1970 [Item by Cat Eldridge]  Fifty-two years ago, Hammer Films’ Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed premiered. It was the fifth Hammer film that featured Baron Frankenstein. It was directed by Terrence Fisher from the screenplay by Bert Batt as taken from the story written by Anthony Nelson and Batt. It starred Peter Cushing, Freddie Jones, Veronica Carlson and Simon Ward. 

Critics say that it is one of the better Hammer films in quite some time with Variety saying that  it had “a minimum of artless dialogue, good lensing by Arthur Grant and a solid all round cast”, and Slant Magazine holding it to be “One of the finest of the seven entries in Hammer’s Frankenstein cycle.”

It holds a sixty-eight percent rating among the nearly three thousand who rated it over at Rotten Tomatoes. You can watch it here.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born February 11, 1908 Tevis Clyde Smith, Jr. He did several short stories with Robert E. Howard — “Diogenes of today”, “ Eighttoes makes a play” and “Red Blades of Black Cathay”. Donald M. Grant would publish them together in the Red Blades of Black Cathay collection. The title story originally appeared in Oriental Stories, an offshoot of Weird Tales. (Died 1984.)
  • Born February 11, 1910 L. T. C. Rolt. English writer whose enthusiasm for heritage railways is writ large in his 1948 Sleep No More collection of supernatural horror stories which tend to be set in rural railways. (Simon R. Green may be influenced by him in his Ghost Finders series which often uses these railways as a setting.) Some of these stories were adapted as radio dramas.  Sleep No More is available from the usual digital suspects. (Died 1974.)
  • Born February 11, 1926 Leslie Nielsen. I know, the comic, bumbling fool who delighted generations of film goers. But his first starring role was as Commander John J. Adams in one of the finest SF films of all time Forbidden Planet. I am most decidedly not a fan of his later films, but I think he’s brilliant here. (Died 2010.)
  • Born February 11, 1939 Jane Yolen, 83. Jane Yolen loves not-so-dark chocolate, so I send her some from time to time. She wrote me into a novel as a character, an ethnomusicologist in One-Armed Queen to be precise, in exchange for finding her a fairytale collection she wanted. Don’t remember now what it was other than it was very old and very rare. My favorite book by her is The Wild Hunt which she’s signed a copy for me, and I love that she financed the production of Boiled of Lead’s Antler Dance which Adam Stemple was lead vocalist on.
  • Born February 11, 1948 Robert Reginald. He’s here because of two Phantom Detective novels he wrote late in his career which are mostly popcorn literature. (The Phantom Detective series started in 1936 so he used the Robert Wallace house name.) He has two series of some length, the Nova Europa Fantasy Saga and War of Two Worlds. Much of what he wrote is available from the usual digital sources. (Died 2013.)
  • Born February 11, 1950 Alain Bergeron, 70. He received an Aurora Award for Best Short Story for “Les Crabes de Vénus regardent le ciel” published In Solaris number 73, and a Sideways Award for Alternate History for “Le huitième registre” (translated in English as “The Eighth Register” by Howard Scott).
  • Born February 11, 1953 Wayne Hammond, 69. He’s married to fellow Tolkien scholar Christina Scull. Together they’ve done some of the finest work on Tolkien that’s been done, including J. R. R. Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator, The Lord of the Rings: A Reader’s CompanionThe Adventures of Tom Bombadil and Other Verses from the Red Book and The J. R. R. Tolkien Companion and Guide
  • Born February 11, 1982 Natalie Dormer, 40. Best known as being in Game of Thrones as Margaery Tyrell, though I’m more interested in the fact that she was in Elementary over three seasons as both Jamie Moriarty and Irene Adler. Anyone here watch this series? I’ve not but this sounds fascinating! 

(11) TRIVIAL TRIVIA. Thomas Edison was born this day in 1847. Edison’s film company produced the very first known feature adaptation of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.

(12) A WEBB FIRST. “James Webb Space Telescope captures its first images of a star” and Yahoo! has a copy — see the image at the link.

The James Webb Space Telescope has finally captured its first image of a star — or rather, images. NASA has shared a mosaic of pictures (shown above) of a star taken using the primary mirror’s 18 segments. It looks like a seemingly random collection of blurry dots, but that’s precisely what the mission team was expecting. The imagery will help scientists finish the lengthy mirror alignment process using the telescope’s Near Infrared Camera, or NIRCam. The first phase is nearly complete as of this writing.

(13) HEVELIN FANZINES. A couple of years ago, Atlas Obscura signal-boosted a call for help with a fanzine transcription project: “Even More Ways to Help Librarians and Archivists From Home”. What’s their status today? They say they are 100% done!

First the 2020 excerpt:

What better time to zip into a happily unfamiliar realm? The DIY History project at the University of Iowa Library, which invites people to help transcribe digitized objects from the library’s special collections and other holdings, could use your help with its massive trove of science-fiction zines. Some date back to the 1930s; all were collected by the late James L. “Rusty” Hevelin. More than 10,780 pages of the Hevelin Fanzines collection have been transcribed so far, but there are still around 500 left to go. If you need a mental break from this planet and its familiar troubles, pop into this project and spend a little time somewhere else.

David Doering was one of the volunteers, so I checked with him and this is what I learned:

We completed the transcription of Rusty’s collection about two years ago. I don’t see any new additions to that collection. (And the numbers match what this article says: There’s 11285 pages transcribed. Which is 500 more than the articles 10,780.)

Now there are other (non-SF) works to possibly transcribe. You can find the landing page here: https://diyhistory.lib.uiowa.edu/

To be fair, there were pages that were not transcribed because the pages were (almost) unreadable due to mimeo ink fading.  I tried to noodle out the contents and made some progress, but some I just couldn’t get enough of an image to read the text. So if there’s someone out there who has great image restoration skills, there are probably a couple of hundred pages that were skipped due to readability.

Unfortunately, the software the U of Iowa used for this project would count a page as transcribed even if you wrote the obligatory note “Not transcribed due to legibility issues.” So all the zines show 100% transcribed when some were not.

(14) FYI. Behind a paywall, WIRED presents “Ada Palmer and the Weird Hand of Progress”: “The sci-fi author writes about the 25th century and teaches college students about the 15th. The past we think we know is wrong, she says—and so is the future.”

(15) ATTENTION SJW CREDENTAL OWNERS. Andrew Porter witnessed Jeopardy! contestants stumped by a science fictional item on tonight’s episode.

Category: I’m too sexy: a lyrical potpourri

Answer: …for this animal “who walks through walls” in a Robert A. Heinlein title.

No one could answer: What is a cat?

(16) FOURWARD MARCH. DC tells us about the four movies they’re bringing out this coming year: “DC – The World Needs Heroes”.

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Game Trallers: Tom Clancy’s Ranbow Six Extraction,” Fandom Games notes that this series is sf, because special forces are blasting “alien goo-boys.”  And if the going gets tough, the narrator reminds us that “There may be no ‘I’ in ‘team’, but there is an i in ‘I’m departing from this field immediately.’”

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Cliff, Hampus Eckerman, David Doering,Bonnie Warford, Daniel Dern, Michael J. Walsh, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jon Meltzer.]

Pixel Scroll 10/27/21 Just Pixel A Name At Random From Your Scrollodex

(1) THE BUZZ. Disney and Pixar’s Lightyear will be released June 17, 2022. Chris Evans voices Buzz. As Variety ‘explains, “Lightyear doesn’t follow the toy-sized, space-faring exploits of Tim Allen’s iconic character. Rather, the 2022 film introduces the ‘real-life’ human astronaut whose adventures inspired the toy line seen in the ‘Toy Story’ franchise.”

The sci-fi action-adventure presents the definitive origin story of Buzz Lightyear—the hero who inspired the toy—introducing the legendary Space Ranger who would win generations of fans.

(2) SHIRLEY JACKSON CONSIDERED. Ellen Datlow along with Laurence Hyman, Nate King, and Bernice Murphy discuss “Shirley Jackson” in episode 12 of the American Writers Museum podcast.

In this episode, we’ll discuss the life and work of multi-dimensional writer Shirley Jackson, perhaps best known for her horror novels and short stories. We’re joined by three guests whose lives and careers have been influenced greatly by Jackson in different ways.

(3) COME ONE, COME ALL. Ringmaster James Davis Nicoll invites Tor.com readers to “Step Right Up! Five Recent Fantasy Stories Set at a Circus”.

Circuses! They seem like such a safe, wholesome source of communal entertainment. Yet, many who’ve ventured under a circus big top have faced unexpected consequences—some quite dangerous for performers in real life. Perhaps it’s no surprise then that the circus provides such a lively—and occasionally treacherous—setting for these five recent fantasies….

(4) GAIA & FRIENDS. Isaac Arthur’s episode on “Sentient Planets & World Consciousnesses” includes examples from films, comics, games and books with authors like Isaac Asimov, Peter Watts and Alastair Reynolds cited.

(5) I’M SORRY I’LL READ THAT AGAIN. Fireside editor Brian J. White found he needed to explain yesterday’s story notification email to recipients:

We’ve gotten a handful of messages about today’s weekly story notification email and wanted to send out a clarification: We made a mistake in not thinking about how that notification for the story “Not Quite What We’re Looking for Right Now” would look in people’s inboxes. The email that went out about and hour and a half ago wasn’t a misdirected story rejection, it’s a short story written in the form of a story rejection, and the blurbs I wrote around it didn’t make that clear. Sorry for the confusion this has caused, and thanks to the folks who let us know about it.

(6) A MODEST GOSPEL-HORROR, UNASKED QUESTION. Virtual convention programmers! Michael Toman has an item to suggest:

It occurred to me ask if anyone out there might be interested in including a “Gospel-Horror” panel and/or performance at a convention this year or maybe sometime safer?

This Interested Listener really enjoyed listening to live choral music from “Game of Thrones” and other shows at the last Loscon I attended.

Sorry, but “names to my mind come there none…”

I would buy a “Zoom Ticket” for something like this to help support fannish musical activity, especially since I’m still “Live Audience Hesitant” about poking my Grizzled, Geezer Guy Snout out of my Own Private, Paper Labyrinth Burrow.

(7) MISSING FIFTH. “Reading with… Cherie Priest” at Shelf Awareness includes this list:

Your top five authors:

In no particular order, Terry Pratchett (especially the Witch novels); Dashiell Hammett (especially the Continental Op stories); Barbara Hambly (her gothics are my comfort reading); Caitlín Kiernan (all of their novels, but Kiernan is also one of the only short story writers I regularly keep up with); and I’m having too much trouble narrowing down another half dozen folks for a fifth. I’d hate to leave anyone out–so let’s call number five a wild card spot, eh?

(8) CASTING CALL. “Bill Murray Has a Role in ‘Ant-Man & the Wasp 3;”. He told a German newspaper that he appears in the upcoming Ant-Man & the Wasp: Quantumania.

I recently made a Marvel movie. I probably can’t tell you about it, but it doesn’t matter. In any case, some people were quite surprised why I decided on such a project of all things. But for me it was very clear: I got to know the director – and I really liked him a lot. He was funny, humble, everything you want from a director. And with the cheerleading story “Bring It On – Girls United” he made a film years ago that I think is damn good. So I accepted, even though I’m not otherwise interested in these huge comic book adaptations as an actor.

(9) BOOK LOVER. In “Why Denis Villeneuve Made ‘Dune’ for Himself”, The Atlantic questions the director about “The Blockbuster That Hollywood Was Afraid to Make.”

When I asked him about his film adaptation of Dune, the writer-director Denis Villeneuve quickly held up his prized copy of Frank Herbert’s book, a French-translation paperback with a particularly striking cover that he’s owned since he was 13. “I keep the book beside me as I’m working,” Villeneuve told me cheerfully over Zoom. “I made this movie for myself. Being a hard-core Dune fan, the first audience member I wanted to please was myself. Everything you receive is there because I love it.”…

(10) HERBERT’S FATHERING ROLE REFLECTED IN DUNE. The New Yorker’s Ed Park seems to have written a more interesting article than the one seen by the headline-writer: “The Enduring Appeal of ‘Dune’ as an Adolescent Power Fantasy”.

…Unlike Lynch or Alejandro Jodorowsky—the Chilean-French filmmaker who planned and failed to make a hallucinogenic twelve-hour version of “Dune” in the seventies—Villeneuve was a “Dune” fan from childhood, having come to the book at age thirteen. His connection to the material shows. The melancholy atmospheres of the alien-contact tale “Arrival” and the dystopian “Blade Runner” sequel are transmuted into a sort of interstellar emo, so that the dreams, fears, and ambitions of Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet) become as central to the film as the special effects and political skulduggery. Chalamet is twenty-five—the same age that Kyle MacLachlan was when Lynch’s “Dune” came out—but slighter, more vulnerable, closer to the “stringy whipcord of a youth” that Herbert describes….

(11) MEMORY LANE.

1934 – Eighty-seven years ago this day, Los Angeles got its Science Fiction club. The Los Angeles chapter of the Science Fiction League (No. 4) began meeting in 14-year-old Roy Test Jr.’s family garage on October 27, 1934. At LASFS’ 75 anniversary banquet  Roy joked that his mother, Wanda Test, volunteered to be club secretary as a way to come to the meetings “and see what kind of oddballs I was associating with. Maybe it didn’t occur to her I was the oddest one there.” She was the club’s first secretary and her minutes became known as “Thrilling Wanda Stories.” (The prozine Wonder Stories ran an article about the birth of the club in the February 1935 issue.)

Ten years after first LASFL meeting, Roy Test, Jr. was an Army Air Corps bomber pilot stationed in England. In 2005, at the age of 83, he could still wear his pink and greens from WWll. (SGVN Staff Photo/Sarah Reingewirtz, SVCITY)

Rob Hansen also points out today is the anniversary of the first meeting of the Ilford Science Literary Circle in 1930 – “If British fandom has a birthday, this is it.” 

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 27, 1937 Steve Sandor. He made his first genre appearance on Trek playing Lars in the second season episode “The Gamesters of Triskelion.” He also did one-offs on Knight RiderFantasy Island and The Six-Million Dollar Man. He did a choice bit of horror in The Ninth Configuration. (Died 2017.)
  • Born October 27, 1939 John Cleese, 82. Monty Python of course, but also Time BanditsMary Shelley’s Frankenstein, two Bond films as Q and even two Harry Potter films as Nearly Headless Nick. He’s definitely deep into genre film roles. And let’s not forget he shows up as an art lover on the “City of Death” story, a Fourth Doctor story. 
  • Born October 27, 1948 Bernie Wrightson. Artist who with writer Len Wein is known for co-creating Swamp Thing. He did a lot of illustrations from Cemetery Dance magazine to Stephen King graphic novels to DC and Marvel comics. Tell me what you liked about his work.) Some of his horror work at Creepy magazine  is now available as Creepy Presents Bernie Wrightson at the usual digital suspects. (Died 2017.)
  • Born October 27, 1950 James L. Conway, 71. Director who has worked on all four on the new Trek franchise series: Next GenerationVoyagerDeep Space Nine and Enterprise.  He’s also done work on CharmedSmallville, Supernatural, the most excellent Magicians and Orville
  • Born October 27, 1953 Robert Picardo, 68. He debuted in genre as Eddie Quist, the serial killer werewolf in The Howling. He’d be in Dante’s ExplorersLooney Tunes: Back in ActionGremlins 2: The New BatchSmall Soldiers and Innerspace. And then of course he played the role of the Emergency Medical Hologram (EMH) on Voyager and on Star Trek: First Contact as well. And he even managed to appear on Stargate SG-1.  Like many Trek performers, he shows up on the Orville series as he played Ildis Kitan in a recurring role.
  • Born October 27, 1963 Deborah Moore, 57. English actress and the daughter of actor Roger Moore and Italian actress Luisa Mattioli. She’s an Air Hostess in Die Another Day, a Pierce Brosnan Bond film. And she was a secretary in Goldeneye: The Secret Life of Ian Fleming. Her very first role was as Princess Sheela in Warriors of the Apocalypse. She was in Top Line an Italian SF film.  
  • Born October 27, 1970 Jonathan Stroud, 51. His djinn-centered Bartimaeus series is most excellent. Though considered children’s novels, I think anyone would enjoy them. I’ve also read the first two in his Lockwood & Co. series as well — very well done.

(13) COMIC STRIP.

  • Bizarro shows the Roman insurance industry at work.
  • Off the Mark shows Dr. Frankenstein’s heartbreak.

(14) VIRTUAL IRISH CONVENTION. Cora Buhlert spent the first October weekend at Octocon, the Irish National Science Fiction Convention, which was virtual this year “for obvious reasons” as she noted: “Cora’s Adventures at the Virtual 2021 Octocon”.

…On Sunday, I was on the panel about “Uncovering the Hidden Treasures of the Past” with Michael Carroll, who was also the Octocon Guest of Honour, Cheryl Morgan, Deirdre Thornton. Ian Moore was the moderator. This panel was recorded and may be watched along with other great content at the Octocon Twitch channel.

Now everybody who knows me should know that I love talking about old SFF and the many great stories and novels of past decades that are not nearly as well known as they should be, so that was exactly the right panel for me. We agreed that reading and discussing older SFF is valuable, because it shows us where the genre came from and how it got where it is now. Besides, actually reading older SFF and not just the few books anointed classics either is also the best antidote against the common claim that women, people of colour, LGBTQ people, [insert minority here] were not writing SFF before the current time, because women, people of colour, LGBTQ people, etc… were always part of the genre, we have just chosen to forget and ignore many of them, denying the writers who follow role models….

(15) HAPPY 125TH ANNIVERSARY TO THE OTHER, OR AT LEAST ANOTHER, TBR. [Item by Daniel Dern.] TBR is, according to the lead essay in “The Very First Cover of the Book Review” in its Sunday October 24, 2021 edition, stands for “The Book Review” — “not to be confused with “to be read,” as the lead paragraph quickly notes. Its fuller non-acronymic initial name is NYTBR, as in, the New York Times Book Review, or, as I (and, I’m sure many others, including no doubt some of you), the Sunday Book Review section. (Possibly fewer these years because you’re reading it online, and so lacking the physical sectionality.)

This 125th-anniversary issue celebrates itself by reprinting reviews, essays, and a few letters, notable and interesting (and in some cases often amusing) from a mix of the book being reviewed, or the author reviewing it, and, in some cases, the letters.

(Since I’m a print-and-digital subscriber, I don’t know how much is visible through the paywall — or rather, how many articles the Times‘ free account offer permits. There does appear to currently be a buck-a-week-for-a-year digital offer, I see… so, assuming that New York Times digital access isn’t like Pringles potato chips (the process of cooking in their stackable format invented, as I’ve only recently learned, by Gene Wolfe, a name that dagnab better be familiar to 97% or greater of File 770 readers), you can enjoy this anniversary section within a week, for a buck, and then cancel. Or borrow a friend’s copy.)

For example (based on what I’ve read so far plus looking at the table of contents):

  • In Letters, Jack London responding to a review of his prizefighting story, “The Game,” that found fault with its realism:

I doubt if this reviewer has had as much experience in such matters as I have. I doubt if he knows what it is to be knocked out, or to knock out another man. I have had these experiences, and it was out of these experiences, plus a fairly intimate knowledge of prizefighting in general, that I wrote “The Game.”… I have just received a letter from Jimmy Britt, lightweight champion of the world, in which he tells me that he particularly enjoyed “The Game” on “account of its trueness to life.”

  • James Baldwin’s review of Alex Haley’s book, Roots
  • Rex Stout (creator of the Nero Wolfe books, of course — which include, along with detecting, many discussions of fine cooking, mostly between Wolfe and in-house chef Fritz Brenner) reviews The Alice B. Toklas Cook Book,
  • Sportswriter Roger Angell reviews “Books About Babe Ruth” (four biographies)
  • Vladimir Nabakov reviews Jean-Paul Sartre’s “Nausea” translated into English… spending a good chunk of the review showing and faulting sample translation inaccuracies.
  • A review of James Joyce’s “Ulysses.”

And with that, I’m going to go back, and finish reading Stout’s review of Toklas’ recipes.

(16) JIM JEFFERIES ON HALLOWEEN. “I Don’t Know About That with Jim Jefferies” devotes an episode to Halloween, discussing the holiday with Lisa Morton, six-time Bram Stoker Award-winning author and host of the “Spine Tinglers with Lisa Morton” podcast.

(17) HAVE SPACE SUITS, NO TRAVELLERS. Futurism.com finds a “Space Tourism Company Cancels Launch Because It Couldn’t Find any Passengers”.

In what could be a serious reality check for the buzz-filled space tourism industry, its most established player says it had to cancel its upcoming launch with SpaceX because it couldn’t find any viable — and sufficiently wealthy — passengers for the journey.

“The mission was marketed to a large number of our prospective customers, but ultimately the mix of price, timing and experience wasn’t right at that particular time and our contract with SpaceX expired,” [Space Adventures] company spokesperson Stacey Tearne told SpaceNews. “We hope to revisit the offering in the future.”…

(18) NOT GONE WITH THE WIND. If, no matter what the mission commander thinks, you want all the “gory details,” the New York Times article supplies them: “SpaceX’s Latest Engineering Challenge: A Leaky Toilet”.

…Jared Isaacman, the Inspiration4 mission commander, told CNN, “Nobody really wants to get into the gory details.”

Crew Dragon has more interior space than a minivan, but less than a studio apartment, and there is no proper bathroom. Instead, it has a device on its ceiling that astronauts use to relieve themselves — remember, there’s no up or down in microgravity. The device creates suction using an internal fan, crucial to ensuring human waste goes in the right direction in the weightlessness of space. Some officials vaguely said the toilet problem involved the fan, prompting even more questions.

A closely held secret no more….

(19) MAJOR EVENT AT THE SEC. Starting this weekend, the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) will be held in Glasgow at the SEC, which is also the proposed site for the Glasgow in 2024 Worldcon bid. A reader asks the question, “Will there be any spin-off benefit from this COP event (new facilities, kit etc)? Are the bid team actively keeping an eye on this?”

(20) BLUE MARBLE. This Muppets video dropped earlier in the week and is part of the forthcoming environmental special Dear Earth.

The Muppets perform the 70’s classic Mr. Blue Sky. It’s all part of the Dear Earth special; an epic global celebration of our planet and what we need to do to slow climate change. Sprinkled with musical performances Dear Earth also contains well-known climate activists, creators, and celebs who will all share ways to make our lives more sustainable.

(21) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Trailers: Halloween Kills” the Screen Junkies say that “extra crispy” Michael Myers is lucky because his foes this time fight with hockey sticks, a cricket bat, and an iron.  “Where are all of your guns, people!” the narrator says.  “I thought this was America.  How drunk are you people?”  Also, how did they get someone to look like Donald Pleasance?

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Andrew (not Werdna), Daniel Dern, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Jennifer Hawthorne, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Russell Letson.]

Pixel Scroll 8/10/21 The Scrolls Are Lovely, Dark And Deep, But I Have Pixels To Keep

(1) SANDBAGGING GOODREADS FOR RANSOM. TIME probes “Goodreads’ Problem With Extortion Scams and Review Bombing”.

A few months after posting a message on Goodreads about the imminent release of a new book, Indie author Beth Black woke up to an all-caps ransom email from an anonymous server, demanding that she either pay for good reviews or have her books inundated with negative ones: “EITHER YOU TAKE CARE OF OUR NEEDS AND REQUIREMENTS WITH YOUR WALLET OR WE’LL RUIN YOUR AUTHOR CAREER,” the email, shared with TIME, read. “PAY US OR DISAPPEAR FROM GOODREADS FOR YOUR OWN GOOD.”

Black, who has self-published both a romance novel and a collection of short stories in the past year, didn’t pay the ransom. “I reported it to Goodreads and then a couple hours later, I started noticing the stars dropping on my books as I started getting all these 1-star reviews,” she says. “It was quite threatening.”

Scammers and cyberstalkers are increasingly using the Goodreads platform to extort authors with threats of “review bombing” their work–and they are frequently targeting authors from marginalized communities who have spoken out on topics ranging from controversies within the industry to larger social issues on social media.

… Goodreads remains one of the primary tools on the internet for book discovery, meaning lesser-known authors often have to rely on the site to get their work noticed. But at this point, some feel that Goodreads’ ratings and reviews system is causing more harm than good.

In a July 29 statement to TIME, a spokesperson for Goodreads said that the company is actively working to resolve many of these review bombing problems.

“We take swift action to remove users when we determine that they violate our guidelines, and are actively assessing all available options to take further action against the small number of bad actors who have attempted extortion scams,” the statement read. “We have clear guidelines for reviews and participation in our community, and we remove reviews and/or accounts that violate these guidelines… We also continue to invest in making technology improvements to prevent bad actor behavior and inauthentic reviews in order to better safeguard our community.”

Review bombing, ransom emails and extortion

As author Rin Chupeco told TIME, Goodreads is a “good idea that slowly became unmanageable over the years due to lack of adequate moderation and general indifference.”

One emerging issue is review bombing: when a coordinated group, or a few people with multiple accounts, intentionally tank a book’s aggregate rating with a flurry of one-star ratings and negative reviews….

.. But Black isn’t the only author to be targeted. There are many threads on Goodreads discussing similar issues, with posts from writers who’ve been targeted….

(2) MAKING RULES DIFFERENTLY. Eleanor Konik shows colleagues a way to expand their horizons in “Unusual Governments to Take Inspiration From” at the SFWA Blog.

Often, speculative fiction relies on common government types, like monarchies and republics, because they’re familiar to readers. History, however, offers other examples of sociopolitical systems. They can be a gold mine for worldbuilding ideas that stretch beyond the mainstream.

Cycling Governments

Age-sets are a sociopolitical system common in East Africa. Among Kenya’s Nandi people, each ibinda (age-set) corresponds to a stage of the life cycle. Boys and girls from each region would be initiated into their age-sets during a series of mass ceremonies.  As an analogy, consider a series of nearby communities gathering children into one centralized boarding school then transitioning them out of school and into the lifestage of young adults marrying and being busy with young children, after which they would return to the workforce before finally amassing the experience to lead the community as political figures. 

In the Ethiopian Highlands, this sort of cycling age-set system, known in some places as gadaa (for men) or siqqee (for women), led to the development of a republic with democratic elections and the peaceful transfer of power, which took roughly eight years to accomplish. It is not the “democratic republic” as described in ancient Greece. Men were bound to their neighbors by the bonds of shared experiences, handling infrastructure projects for the whole region. In some places, this led to peace. In others, expansion of the length of time men spent in the warrior stage meant an increase in raids and conquest. 

(3) SILVERBERG TO BE DISCON III VIRTUAL PARTICIPANT. Robert Silverberg revealed online today: “Apparently I will be at the DC worldcon after all, though only virtually.  Since I am unwilling to travel to the East Coast in wintertime, they have arranged for me to do a virtual conversation with Nancy Kress, with Alvaro Zinos-Amaro acting as moderator.  So my 67-year streak of worldcon attendance will remain intact, if only virtually.”

(4) ENTER THE DRAGONS. Camestros Felapton’s epic has now reached a key moment of 2016: “Debarkle Chapter 55: The Dragon Award Begins”.

…With the devastating final results of the 2015 Hugo Award, some Puppy supporters thought that the right response was to walk away from Worldcon and the Hugo Awards altogether. This was matched by some of the rhetoric from critics of the Puppies, who had suggested that the Puppy leadership should set up their own awards.

So it was both notable and not wholly a surprise when on March 31 2016 Dragon Con announced the first inaugural Dragon Awards with their own new website…

(5) DULCET TONES. Open Culture invites you to listen as “Benedict Cumberbatch Reads Kurt Vonnegut’s Letter of Advice to People Living in the Year 2088”.

A few years ago we posted Kurt Vonnegut’s letter of advice to humanity, written in 1988 but addressed, a century hence, to the year 2088. Whatever objections you may have felt to reading this missive more than 70 years prematurely, you might have overcome them to find that the author of Slaughterhouse-Five and Breakfast of Champions single-mindedly importuned his fellow man of the late 21st century to protect the natural environment. He issues commandments to “reduce and stabilize your population” to “stop preparing for war and start dealing with your real problems,” and to “stop thinking science can fix anything if you give it a trillion dollars,” among other potentially drastic-sounding measures.

Commandment number seven amounts to the highly Vonnegutian “And so on. Or else.” A fan can easily imagine these words spoken in the writer’s own voice, but with Vonnegut now gone for well over a decade, would you accept them spoken in the voice of Benedict Cumberbatch instead?

(6) END TIMES. Netflix dropped this trailer for the final season of Lucifer today.

Lucifer scored the promotion, but does he really want the job? Plus, Chloe prepares to give up detective work, Amenadiel joins the LAPD, and more.

(7) SOUNDING OFF. The Guardian interviews actors who are better known for their voice than their face. One of them is Doug Jones of Star Trek: Discovery fame: “’They wanted my meerkat to sound like a Russian Alan Sugar’ – meet TV’s secret superstars” in The Guardian.

…[Doug Jones:] When you say yes to playing something that doesn’t look human, you’re saying yes to the entire process. I don’t get to shout: “Get this off me! It’s so hot and sticky.” I need the mindset of a performer, but also the endurance of an athlete, one who can take five or six hours of makeup application, then get through a long day of shooting.

Because of all the parts I’ve played, I often end up skipping the conventional casting process. People in creature effects just say: “It’s a tall skinny alien – we need Doug Jones.” I was playing the amphibian in the Oscar-winning film The Shape of Water when Star Trek: Discovery approached me. I was actually thinking “I’m not sure how much more rubber and glue I want in my life,” but there was no way I could turn it down. For Saru, I wear a four-piece prosthetic over my head that comes down past my collarbones, with gloves to change my hands. It’s all been moulded to my shape and pre-painted so getting it all glued on is only a two-hour process. I wear a Starfleet uniform like everybody else, but I do have special hoofed boots that add five inches to my height. That makes me about 6ft 8ins!…

(8) TRAPPED IN AMBER. Irish/Dutch writer couple Angeline B. Adams and Remco van Straten talk about the future of the sword and sorcery genre — and if it has one: “Fled & Done: Sword & Sorcery” at Turnip Lanterns.

…Modern Sword & Sorcery writers face an uphill battle, if they want to emerge from the shadow of Conan (including, and in particular, his Marvel comics and Schwarzenegger film incarnations). And that indeed sums up our dilemma: is it worth trying to expand the genre, when the general audience’s idea of S&S has calcified in cliché? Especially when a large section of S&S fans (and authors) have very firm ideas of what S&S was, is and always will be?…

(9) INTERNATIONAL TOLKIEN FANDOM. Brazilian podcast Tolkien Talk did a video Q&A with acclaimed Tolkien scholar Douglas Anderson. It’s the fifth in their series of major international interviews. Find the others at their Tolkien Talk YouTube channel.

Meet Douglas A. Anderson, creator of The Annotated Hobbit and one of the most important tolkienists of our time. All the way from his first contact with J.R.R. Tolkien’s work to unveiling misconceptions throughout the time, get an overview on Tolkien’s life and works from one that accessed them directly.

(10) CRIMINAL RECORD. Anthony Horowitz has reached a crime fiction award milestone: “Horowitz becomes Japan’s most-decorated foreign crime author” at The Bookseller.

Author Anthony Horowitz has won the Best Mystery of the Decade award by Honkaku Mystery Writers Club for his first Daniel Hawthorne novel, The Word is Murder, making him the most-decorated foreign crime author in Japanese history.

Horowitz is the first author in Japanese history to win 16 literary awards in total, according to his publisher…. 

(11) WHY THIS SOUNDS FAMILIAR. “’I Am Legend’ screenwriter responds to conspiracy theory about vaccines and zombies”Yahoo! has the story.

There are a multitude of reasons why people are hesitant or refusing to get the coronavirus vaccine in the midst of a pandemic that’s killed over 600,000 people in the U.S. and millions worldwide, from distrust in science and medicine to wariness towards the government and also… zombies?

New York Times report last weekend about a Bronx-based eyewear company struggling to persuade its employees to get jabbed referenced one worker whose hesitancy was based off of the belief that the COVID vaccine is the shot that turned people into zombies in the 2007 post-apocalyptic film I Am Legend.

As the Times pointed out, the zombification portrayed in the box office hit starring Will Smith was caused by a genetically reprogrammed virus, not the vaccine for it. But the bizarre claim has still flourished on the hotbed of vaccination misinformation that is social media.

On Monday, I Am Legend screenwriter Akiva Goldsman entered the chat.

“Oh. My. God. It’s a movie. I made that up. It’s. Not. Real,” Goldsman tweeted in response to journalist and comic book writer Marc Bernadin, who shared a screencap of the article with quote, “We. Are. All. Going. To. Die. Sooner. Than. We. Should.”…

(12) MEMORY LANE.

  • 2013 – Eight years ago, Futurama ended its run. It had four seasons on FOX, and when cancelled there was revived by Comedy Central and ran another three seasons. In between, reruns aired on Adult Swim.  It was created by Matt Groening of Simpsons fame. Over its seven seasons, it would run for one hundred and seventy episodes. There would be four later films, Bender’s Big Score, The Beast with a Billion Backs, Bender’s Game and Into the Wild Green Yonder. It had a legendary voice cast of Billy West, Katey Sagal, John DiMaggio, Tress MacNeille, Maurice LaMarche, Phil LaMarr, Lauren Tom, David Herman and Frank Welker. It was nominated for a Nebula Award for Best Script for the “Where No Fan Has Gone Before” episode during the last season. It has a ninety-five percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. 

(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 10, 1902 Curt Siodmak. He is known for his work in horror and sf films for The Wolf Man and Donovan’s Brain, the latter  from his own novel. He won a Retro Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form at Dublin 2019  for Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman and was nominated for six more. ISFDB notes Donovan’s Brain was part of his Dr. Patrick Cory series, and he wrote quite a few other genre novels as well. Donovan’s Brain and just a few other works are available from the usual suspects. (Died 2000.)
  • Born August 10, 1903 Ward Moore. Author of Bring the Jubilee which everyone knows about as it’s often added to that mythical genre canon, and several more that I’m fairly sure almost no one knows of. More interestingly to me was that he was a keen writer of recipes of which ISFDB documents — four of his appeared in Anne McCaffrey’s Cooking Out of This World including “Kidneys — Like Father Used to Make” and “Pea Soup — Potage Ste. Germaine.“ (Died 1978.)
  • Born August 10, 1913 Noah Beery Jr. Genre wise, he’s best remembered as Maj. William Corrigan on the Fifties classic SF film Rocketship X-M, but he showed up in other genre undertakings as well such as 7 Faces of Dr. LaoThe Six Million Dollar ManFantasy IslandBeyond Witch MountainThe Ghost of Cypress Swamp and The Cat Creeps. I think he appeared in one of the earliest Zorro films made where he’s credited just as a boy, he’d be seven then, The Mark of Zorro which had Douglas Fairbanks Sr. and his father, Noah Beery Sr. (Died 1994.)
  • Born August 10, 1931 Alexis A. Gilliland, 90. He won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in 1982, edging out Brin and Swanwick for the honor. Gilliland also won four Hugo Awards for Best Fan Artist in the early Eighties and won the Tucker Award for Excellence in Partying in the late Eighties. What the Hell is that? And he won the Rotsler Award for fan art in 2006.  He’s got two series, Rosinante and Wizenbeak, neither of which I’ve read, so do tell me about them please. 
  • Born August 10, 1944 Barbara Erskine, 77. I’m including her because I’ve got a bit of a mystery. ISFDB lists her as writing over a dozen genre novels and her wiki page says she has a fascination with the supernatural but neither indicates what manner of genre fiction she wrote. I’m guessing romance or gothic tinged with the supernatural based on the covers but that’s just a guess. What do y’all know about her?
  • Born August 10, 1955 Eddie Campbell, 66. Best known as the illustrator and publisher of From Hell, written by Alan Moore, and Bacchus, a most excellent series about the few Greek gods who have made to the present day. Though not genre in the slightest way, I highly recommend The Black Diamond Detective Agency which he did. It’s an adaptation of an as-yet unmade screenplay by C. Gaby Mitchell.
  • Born August 10, 1960 Antonio Banderas, 61. Genre work in Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles, the Spy Kids franchise, voice work in the Puss in Boots and Shrek franchises, appearances in The Voyage of Doctor Dolittle and the New Mutants. He’s James Mangold in the forthcoming Indiana Jones film. 
  • Born August 10, 1965 Claudia Christian, 56. Best known role is Commander Susan Ivanova on Babylon 5, but she has done other genre roles such as being Brenda Lee Van Buren in The Hidden, Katherine Shelley in Lancelot: Guardian of Time, Quinn in Arena, Lucy in The Haunting of Hell House and Kate Dematti in Meteor Apocalypse. She’s had one-offs on Space RangersHighlanderQuantum LeapRelic Hunter and Grimm. She’s Captain Belinda Blowhard on Starhyke, a six episode series shot in ‘05 you can see on Amazon Prime.

(14) COMICS SECTION.

(15) UP TO DATE. Entertainment Weekly says Robin is now bi. “Robin becomes a bisexual icon in new Batman comic”. Clearly it doesn’t cut it to keep visualizing Burt Ward/Robin as Adam West/Bruce Wayne’s teenage ward — I missed the part where Robin was dating at all.

The latest issue of Batman: Urban Legends, a monthly anthology series, revealed that the Caped Crusader’s longtime sidekick Robin, specifically the Tim Drake version of him, is bisexual. 

The moment came at the end of part 3 of the Sum of Our Parts story, from writer Meghan Fitzmartin, artist Belén Ortega, colorist Alejandro Sánchez, and letterer Pat Brosseau. 

(16) SUBSTACK GROWING. “Comic Book Writers and Artists Follow Other Creators to Substack” – the New York Times tells how it will work.

… Nick Spencer, a comic book writer best known for his work for Marvel Entertainment, was the liaison between Substack and a group of creators who, starting Monday, will publish new comic book stories, essays and how-to guides on the platform.

He said he approached Chris Best, a Substack founder, with the idea last year, when the pandemic was keeping many fans out of the comic book shops and the creators were looking for new ways to connect with readers.

The initial lineup includes comic-centric newsletters from Saladin AhmedJonathan HickmanMolly OstertagScott Snyder and James Tynion IV, with other writers and artists to be announced.

The creators will be paid by Substack while keeping ownership of their work. The company will take most of the subscription revenue in the first year; after that, it will take a 10 percent cut.

Mr. Tynion, who last month won an Eisner Award, the comic industry’s highest honor, for best writer, said he would break away from writing Batman for DC Entertainment to devote time to his creator-owned series and his Substack newsletter.

(17) KEEPING THE BOOKS. Lazy Rabbit has a set of humorous pictures of librarian jokes on Facebook.

(18) CATS FOR ADOPTION. Let’s signal boost the availability for adoption of a new litter of kittens in Los Angeles. The owner is a friend of Gideon Marcus of Galactic Journey. You can reach her by emailing digginginthewrongplace (at) gmail (dot) com.

The momma cat is approx two years old. We just had her spayed and she had a dental check too. She’s negative for all diseases/fleas/worms, and in great health.

Kitties are 9 weeks old. All in great health. Too young to be neutered yet.

Let me know if anyone’s interested!

(19) CANDLING THE EGGS. SYFY Wire got first dibs on this 90-second video: “Monsters at Work: Explore the Pixar show’s various Easter eggs”.

SYFY WIRE is excited to debut an exclusive featurette that breaks down a number of these subtle — and not-so-subtle — references in the Disney+ series. Series executive producer Bobs Gannaway tells us that all of the Easter eggs “happened naturally and came from anyone on the crew at any phase of production — be it a storyboard artist adding something in the board, or the art director dressing the set.” 

“We focused mostly on world expansion — using the graphics to suggest parts of the world we will never see: like the Laffeteria menu, or advertisements on the back of Roz’s newspaper,” he continues. “We also focused things more inward and on our characters. For example, Duncan’s nameplate changes every episode, and whenever he’s listening to his boom box, the ‘mixtape’ is labeled. You have to really zoom into the frames to see those. Other things aren’t so much Easter eggs as they are just having fun: like changing the theme music every time during the credits to reflect that episode’s story, and doing something different each time with the wind-up teeth in the Mike’s Comedy Class title card. Everyone has a good time adding the details to the world.”

(20) TRICK OR TRICK. “’Muppets Haunted Mansion’ Halloween Special First Images Revealed” – see the pics at Halloween Daily News. Below is the trailer from May.

On today’s 52nd anniversary of the premiere of the Haunted Mansion dark ride at Disneyland, two first-look images from this October’s new Muppets Haunted Mansion Halloween special have been released, including Kermit and Miss Piggy in costume …as each other.

The special will feature the Muppets cast, along with celebrity cameos, new music, and fittingly seasonal fun for all ages.

Muppets Haunted Mansion will take place on Halloween Night, when Gonzo is challenged to spend one night in The Haunted Mansion.

(21) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Honest Game Trailers, The Legend of Zelda:  Skyward Sword”, Fandom Games says this is “the motion-control Zelda game no one asked for” where “every fight feels like doing a bunch of morphone before a high-school fencing match.”

[Thanks to Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Cora Buhlert, BravoLimaPoppa, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Flaneur.]

Pixel Scroll 8/5/21 You’ve Got To Know When To Hodor’em, Know When To Scroll’em, Know When To White Walker Away

(1) BURTON OUT OF JEOPARDY, UNFORTUNATELY. LeVar Burton won’t succeed the late Alex Trebek as host of the game show Jeopardy! According to Deadline, the show’s executive producer Mike Richards will be taking the job.  

LeVar Burton tweeted today:

I have said many times over these past weeks that no matter the outcome, I’ve won. The outpouring of love and support from family, friends, and fans alike has been incredible! If love is the ultimate blessing and I believe that it is, I am truly blessed beyond measure.

Here’s a look-back at a recent show when LeVar Burton presided over “The Science Fiction Category”.

(2) WHO’S ON FIRST. “Doctor Who’s next showrunner is more important than its next Doctor” insists Radio Times.

…But the showrunner is responsible for literally everything – from the tone of the show to its look, its casting, its music… even, to a lesser degree, its format and structure. Yes, making Doctor Who – and indeed, any show like it – is a massive team effort, but the showrunner picks (or is at least involved in the hiring of) their writers, the composer, the production designer, the make-up artists, the casting director… all those talented folk whose hard work goes into putting the show together.

Think how distinct the Russell T Davies era is from the Steven Moffat era, and how different both are to Chibnall’s show. Bar a few cosmetic changes, Doctor Who starring Christopher Eccleston and Doctor Who starring David Tennant are broadly the same series. But there’d be no mistaking Moffat’s Who for Davies’ – yes, they’re ostensibly the same programme, but the visuals are different, the humour is different, certain of the tropes are different… everything has regenerated, far more dramatically than when the show switches out one lead actor for the next. (That lead actor, of course, is also picked by the showrunner – pending BBC approval.)…

(3) HUGO HISTORY UPDATE. [Item by Kevin Standlee.] Ben Yalow located a copy of the 1993 Hugo Awards Nominating & Final Ballot Details report and I have updated the 1993 Hugo Awards entry at the official Hugo Awards site with a copy of it.

Note that the rules in 1993 were different than they are today, and this report included what was required under the rules as they existed at that time.

[Editor’s egoscanning note: I see File 770 came in second, as it was wont to do in the Nineties.]

(4) ON YOUR MARK. Tenth Letter of the Alphabet has combed through the Official Gazette of the United States Patent Office and assembled a vast collection of “Pulp Fiction Trademarks” like these —

(5) ANOTHER CONLANG. “What Language Does Leeloo Speak In The Fifth Element?” – let Looper tell you.

…A lot of time and effort, including the formation of a special language, went into crafting “The Fifth Element,” with Besson working on the project for around 15 years. What some might not know is that the unique language Leeloo speaks in the film is called the Divine Language, and it’s actually a personal creation of Besson’s, made solely for the movie. 

The Divine Language that was developed for “The Fifth Element” only has around 400 words in total, but that’s certainly enough to carry a conversation. According to an interview with i-D, Jovovich gives Besson complete credit for the language’s creation, stating that “He brought me a dictionary of words. We would write each other letters in the language, so I was getting used to communication and speaking it.”… 

(6) UNDERSTANDING SILKPUNK. BookRiot’s Lyndsie Manusos has some definite opinions about “Silkpunk: What It Is And What It Definitely Is Not”. “Silkpunk does NOT apply to every speculative, science fiction, or fantasy book inspired by Asian history or culture. Here’s what it is.”

…In the long history of speculative and SFF genres, silkpunk is pretty new. It was invented by Ken Liu to describe his 2015 novel The Grace of Kings. Liu coined the term, and wrote a post on his website to delve into its definition. Liu’s post begins with: “No, [silkpunk is] not “Asian-flavored steampunk.” No, it’s not “Asian-influenced fantasy.” No, it’s not…

(7) A PAIR OF ACES. Molly Templeton pointed out to Tor.com readers where they can “Watch Martha Wells and Becky Chambers in Conversation”.

… The two discuss outlining (or not); television watching (Wells, like all wise viewers, enjoys Elementary); how much time Chambers thought about tea while writing Psalm; writing with compassion for your characters; and how excellent it is that more voices are telling their stories in SFF….

(8) TOP 10. ScreenRant shared the list of “The American Film Institute’s 10 Best Sci Fi Movies”. Guess what is only number six!!

6. Blade Runner

A cerebral film with lofty existential themes, Blade Runner is a duly highly regarded sci-fi film and often noted as one of the best of the sci-fi genre. Another Ridley Scott film – one of his best science fiction films – Blade Runner follows an officer and blade runner named Deckard that is tasked with tracking down and destroying four replicants, which are sentient robots that were deemed illegal after a replicant uprising on a faraway planet.

On Deckard’s journey to destroy, or retire, the replicants, he is faced with questions of what it means to be human and the accuracy or inaccuracy of perception of reality. Further, the film paints a bleak portrait of a potential future with animals being extinct and a highly polluted atmosphere, connecting to concerns that modern audiences have for the environment.

(9) STONE SOUP. At “Building Beyond: Leaf Me Alone”, Sarah Gailey is joined by Stephen Rider and Amal El-Mohtar to play with this writing prompt:

The global forest community has decided to cut off all economic and trading ties with the outside world. From now on, forest-based resources are for the forest alone.

(10) MEMORY LANE.

  • 1970 – Fifty one years at Heicon ’70 where John Brunner was the Toastmaster, Ursula Le Guin wins the Hugo for Best Novel for The Left Hand of Darkness. It was first published in 1969 as Ace SF Special, Series 1.  Other nominated works that year were Robert Silverberg’s Up the Line, Piers Anthony‘s Macroscope, Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.’s Slaughterhouse-Five and Norman Spinrad‘s Bug Jack Barron. It would also win a Nebula Award and be nominated for a Ditmar Award as well. 

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 5, 1906 John Huston. Yes, the Huston who directed  and wrote The Maltese Falcon graced our community. He was M in Casino Royale, and The Lawgiver in Battle for the Planet of the Apes. He was in Sherlock Holmes in New York as Professor Moriarty, and voiced Gandalf in The Return of The King. (Died 1987.)
  • Born August 5, 1929 Don Matheson. Best remembered for being Mark Wilson in Land of the Giants. He also had roles in Lost in Space (where he played in an alien in one episode and an android in another episode), Voyage to the Bottom of the SeaThe Alfred Hitchcock Hour, an Alice in Wonderland film and Dragonflight. (Died 2014.)
  • Born August 5, 1935 Wanda Ventham, 86. Mother of Benedict Cumberbatch. She’s been on Who three times, in “The Faceless Ones”, a Second Doctor story, in “Image of the Fendahl”, a Fourth Doctor story and finally in “Time and the Rani”, a Seventh Doctor story. She also had roles in The Blood Beast TerrorProject U.F.O and Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter. She was often on British TV series including Danger ManThe SaintThe Avengers and The Prisoner. And yes, she was on his Sherlock series where she played…his mother.
  • Born August 5, 1940 Natalie Trundy, 81. First, she was one of the Underdwellers, named Albina, in Beneath the Planet of the Apes.  Next, she played Dr. Stephanie Branton, a specialist studying apes from the future who came into our present day in Escape from the Planet of the Apes.  Then in Conquest of the Planet of the Apes and Battle for the Planet of the Apes, she played the chimp Lisa.  As far as I can tell, she’s the only performer to play three different roles in the Apes films. 
  • Born August 5, 1947 Élisabeth Vonarburg, 74. Parisian born, she’s been a Quebec resident for four decades. She was the literary director of the French-Canadian SF magazine Solaris. Her first novel, Le Silence de la Cité, was published in 1981. Since then she’s been a prolific writer of novels and short fiction. I’m pleased to say that the usual suspects is deeply stocked in her works. Her website, in French of course, is here. She’s won ten Prix Aurora Awards for the best Canadian science fiction and fantasy works and activities in English and French. Très, très impressionnant! 
  • Born August 5, 1961 Tawny Kitaen. I first remember her in Hercules and the Circle of Fire as Deianeira, a role remarkable only for the minimalist costume she wore. She repeated the role throughout the series. Her first genre acting was actually in low budget horror flick Witchboard. And other than an appearance in a SF comedy series They Came from Outer Space, that’s it for her. (Died 2021.)
  • Born August 5, 1980 JoSelle Vanderhooft, 41. Former Green Man reviewer with a single novel so far, Ebenezer, and several collections, Steam-Powered: Lesbian Steampunk Stories and Steam-Powered II: More Lesbian Steampunk Stories which the former were nominated for a Lambda Award. She also co-edited with Steve Berman, Heiresses of Russ 2011: The Year’s Best Lesbian Speculative Fiction.

(12) COMICS HISTORY. “Let Otto Binder show you how the mid-’60s comic book sausage was made” at Scott Edelman’s blog.

Two more treasures found in my late sister-in-law Ellen Vartanoff’s collection — mid-’60s scripts by the extremely prolific comics writer Otto Binder. Wikipedia claims he wrote 4,400 stories under his own name — and 160 more under the pen-name Eando Binder…

…His [Otto Binder’s] story in Creepy adapted of one of the 10 stories he wrote for Amazing Stories with his brother Earl Binder (under the pen name Eando Binder) about the intelligent robot Adam Link.

Someday I’ll scan and share the entirety of both scripts, but for now, here’s a comparison of the first page of the Mighty Samson one, as well as the published page, with art by Frank Thorne — who’s perhaps best-known for his work on Marvel’s Red Sonja….

(13) DRAWN THAT WAY. Studio co-founder Alvy Ray Smith tells IEEE Spectrum readers “The Real Story of Pixar” – “How a bad hardware company turned itself into a great movie studio.”

…The story… goes back to a time when I and other researchers in computer graphics scattered around the United States began to see the technology as allowing a new art form: the creation of digitally animated movies. A handful of us began talking about when somebody would make the first one—”The Movie,” we called it—and the massive computing power it would take to pull it off. That kind of computing power was not affordable in the mid-1970s. But with Moore’s Law cranking along at a steady pace, there was every reason to think that the cost of computing power would come down sufficiently within a decade or so. In the meantime, we focused on developing the software that would make The Movie possible.

By definition, The Movie could incorporate no hand drawing. The tools to build it emerged piecemeal. First came the software that enabled computers to create two-dimensional images and, later, virtual 3D objects. Then we figured out how to move those objects, shade them, and light them before rendering them as frames of a movie….

…We kept the possibility of The Movie alive during the next five years with a series of short films, including Luxo Jr. (1986), nominated for an Academy Award; Tin Toy (1988) winner of an Academy Award; Red’s Dream (1987); and Knick Knack (1989). These were four of the sparkling jewels that sustained us during these otherwise tough years.

Each one of these pieces represented continued improvements in the underlying in-house technologies. Luxo Jr., for example, incorporated the first articulated objects that self-shadowed themselves from multiple light sources. Red’s Dream showed off our Pixar Image Computer: the principal background for the piece, a bicycle shop, was the most complex computer graphics scene ever rendered at the time….

(14) THEY’RE COMING TO TAKE ME AWAY. “R2-D2 is now a Tamagotchi you’ll forget about” predicts Engadget. (See demos at the company’s own interactive info page: Star Wars R2-D2 Tamagotchi.)

Disney and Bandai have teamed up to bring Artoo to the pockets of fans who don’t mind training, cleaning and looking after a needy, digital version of the droid wherever they are. …As you might expect from a Tamagotchi, you’ll interact with the toy using three physical buttons.

There are 19 skills for Artoo to learn. You’ll need to keep him charged and clean. Unlike with other Tamagotchis, you won’t have to clear up any poop from R2-D2 (he’s a droid, after all). A Lucasfilm spokesperson told Engadget that if R2-D2 sits for too long, he’ll accumulate dust. You can clean that away with the press of a button.

There are nine mini-games you can play with him, including firefighting and Star Wars staple Dejarik (or holochess). If you don’t keep the droid happy, some Jawas might arrive to take him away….

(15) FROM OUTSIDE OF TIME. Episode 37 of Octothorpe 37, a podcast about science fiction and SF fandom from John Coxon, Alison Scott, and Liz Batty, is available here.

 We didn’t record this week so this is the fabled EPISODE X, part of the SUMMER OF FUN (summer of fun). We discuss the Retro Hugo Awards and reading old books from a time when Graham Linehan was still on Twitter. Crazy.

(16) MINUS MEN. Y: The Last Man premieres September 13 — on FX on Hulu.

Based on DC Comics’ acclaimed series by Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra, Y: The Last Man traverses a post-apocalyptic world in which a cataclysmic event decimates every mammal with a Y chromosome but for one cisgender man and his pet monkey. The series follows the survivors in this new world as they struggle with their efforts to restore what was lost and the opportunity to build something better.

(17) THE STARS BYE DESTINATION. Gizmodo knows why “This Blasted Star Is Getting the Hell Out of the Milky Way”.

Careening through the Milky Way at nearly 2 million miles per hour, the star LP 40–365 shows no signs of stopping. A team of astronomers recently figured out that the star was propelled into its current speedrun by a supernova explosion millions of years ago.

LP 40–365 is unusual. It’s a white dwarf, a small, compact star at the end of its life, and it’s very rich in metals. LP 40–365 also has own atmosphere, which is mostly composed of oxygen and neon. But most important to this story is that the star is a runaway from a huge stellar explosion, which set in motion its dash out of the galaxy….

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Honest Game Trailers: Mario Golf”,  Fandom Games says this Mario Bros. line extension “turns the fusty game of golf into the PGA version of Death Race.”

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, N., John Coxon, Daniel Dern, Scott Edelman, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Michael Toman, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]

Pixel Scroll 7/13/21 They Scrolled In Through The ‘Fresher Portal

(1) BETTER: LATE OR NEVER? Barbara Hambly talks about “One of the problems I’ve had in writing historicals” at her LiveJournal.

One of the problems I’ve had in writing historicals – particularly earlier on, when I was researching from libraries rather than the Internet – is when after the book came out (usually about a year after), a book that would have been REALLY REALLY USEFUL for my research on a particular topic will appear, and cause me to say, Grrr, dammit… In one case the discrepancy was great enough that I phoned the editor and asked that a couple of paragraphs be changed in the next printing… I don’t know if they ever did that or not…. 

(2) THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ZEROS. How can I not link to something with this title? “Is This The End of Our Hero, Coke Zero, Part III: The Final Zeronation” – by John Scalzi at Whatever. The subject turns out to be less mysterious than one might expect.

…As with last time the formula was tweaked, people are wondering what I, who basically lives on Coke Zero (not because I have fragile masculinity I SWEAR but because I prefer the taste to Diet Coke), thinks of the plan to fiddle with the taste profile. My response is basically the same as last time: If it ends up tasting more like regular Coke, great, because that’s what I want; if it goes horribly wrong and I hate it, well, then, it’s a very fine time for me to give up my cola addiction, which as a 52-year-old man is probably doing neither my pancreas or my kidneys any favors. That said, the last time Coke tweaked the Zero formula, I was perfectly fine with it; it was only subtly different….

(3) LIBERTYCON WILL HOST DEEPSOUTHCON 61. Newly-elected Southern Fandom Confederation President Randy Boyd Cleary announced that next year’s DeepSouthCon will be hosted as part of LibertyCon in Chattanooga, Tennessee in 2023. [After the Scroll was posted, Cleary has issued a correction that 2023 is the year DSC and LibertyCon will be jointly held.]

LibertyCon has a membership ceiling – recently raised from 750 to 1000 paid attendees – and the available memberships for the 2022 convention go on sale July 23 at Noon Eastern time.

(4) TEEN LIFE IS UNBEARABLE. Disney and Pixar’s Turning Red releases March 11, 2022.

Growing up is a beast. …Mei Lee [is] a 13-year-old who suddenly “poofs” into a giant red panda when she gets too excited (which is practically ALWAYS). Sandra Oh voices Mei Lee’s protective, if not slightly overbearing mother, Ming, who is never far from her daughter—an unfortunate reality for the teenager….

(5) HEAD’S UP. [Item by Meredith.] YouTube’s making a change to their rules which will render a lot of linked videos inaccessible, but people can opt out if they know about it.

(6) A LITTLE DIP. Shat showed up on Shark Week! Let Yahoo! tell you about it: “90-year-old William Shatner conquers his fear of sharks by swimming with them”.

As Discovery’s Shark Week swims on, Monday’s special called Expedition Unknown: Shark Trek, featured Captain Kirk himself, William Shatner, trying to conquer his fear of sharks by boldly going and jumping into the water with them.

“I am deathly afraid of sharks,” Shatner told the show’s host, Josh Gates. “I really am.”

So to ease the Star Trek actor into things, Gates started by taking Shatner through a couple of relatively safe visits with hammerhead and reef sharks, neither of which are known to eat or attack humans. But those were just the appetizer courses, the main course was swimming with potentially deadly tiger sharks, and hoping not to become the main course….

(7) QUIZ TIME. Heroes & Icons challenges viewers: “How well do you remember the colors of ‘Star Trek’?” I only scored 4 out of 8 and was derisively told “You’ve either never seen Star Trek, or you’re color blind.” Surely you can do better!

(8) SCANNERS LIVE. Stuff reports New Zealand’s “National Library signs ‘historic’ agreement to donate 600,000 books to online archive” Cat Eldridge, who sent the link, wonders how that’s supposed to work because, “Errr, they don’t own the copyright to those books.”

The National Library will donate 600,000 books that it was planning to cull from its overseas collection to a United States-based internet archive that will make digital copies of the works freely available online.

National Librarian Rachel Esson announced the “historic” agreement on Monday, saying books left at the end of the library’s review process would be donated to the Internet Archive, a digital library with the self-stated mission of universal access to all knowledge.

“This is a great outcome for us,” Esson said…

(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

July 13, 1984 – Thirty-seven years ago, The Last Starfighter premiered. It was produced by Gary Adelson and directed by Nick Castle and Edward O. Denault. It was written by Jonathan R. Betuel who would later write and direct Theodore Rex. It starred Lance Guest, Dan O’Herlihy, Robert Preston and Catherine Mary Stewart. It was nominated for a Hugo at Aussiecon Two which was the year 2010: Odyssey Two won. Reception among critics was remarkably middlin’ for it with even Ebert neither really liking or not liking it. The Box Office likewise was just OK with it breaking even. The audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a excellent rating of seventy percent. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 13, 1904 — Norvell W. Page. Chief writer of The Spider pulp series as Grant Stockbridge. He started out by writing a backup story in the first issue of The Spider pulp: “Murder Undercover” and by the third issue was writing the main Spider stories which he did for some seventy stories. He also wrote The Black Bat and The Phantom Detective pulps. (Died 1961.)
  • Born July 13, 1926 — Robert H. Justman. Producer and director who worked on many a genre series including Adventures of SupermanThe Outer LimitsStar TrekMission: ImpossibleMan from Atlantis and Star Trek: The Next Generation.  He was the assistant director for the first two Star Trek episodes: “The Cage” and “Where No Man Has Gone Before”. (Died 2008.)
  • Born July 13, 1937 — Jack Purvis. He appeared in three of director Terry Gilliam’s early fantasy films, with roles in Time BanditsThe Adventures of Baron Munchausen and Brazil. He’s in three of the Star Wars films, the only actor who claims to have played three different roles, and he’s also in Wombling Free (based on The Womblies, a UK Children’s series), The Dark Crystal and Willow. (Died 1997.)
  • Born July 13, 1940 — Sir Patrick Stewart OBE, 81. Jean-Luc Picard starting with being Captain of the USS Enterprise (NCC-1701-D) on Star Trek: The Next Generation up through the current Star Trek: Picard. (They’re filming two seasons of Picard back to back.) Also had some minor role in the MCU as Professor Charles Xavier, and played Leodegrance in Excalibur. Though only slightly genre adjacent, I’m fond of his role as King Henry II in the second version of The Lion in Winter
  • Born July 13, 1942 — Harrison Ford, 79. Three  great roles of course, the first being Dr. Henry Walton “Indiana” Jones, Jr. in the Indiana Jones franchise which is four films deep with a fifth on the way. The second of course being Han Solo in the Star Wars franchise, a role he’s done four times plus a brief cameo in The Rise of Skywalker. And the third being Rick Deckard in Blade Runner, a role he reprised for Blade Runner 2049. Oh, and he played the older Indy at age fifty in the Young Indiana Jones Chronicles in the “Young Indiana Jones and the Mystery of the Blues” episode. 
  • Born July 13, 1955 — David J. Schow, 66. Writer of splatterpunk horror novels, short stories, and screenplays. (He’s oft times credited with coining the splatterpunk term.) His screenplays include The Crow and Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III. He’s also done scripts for Masters of HorrorPerversions of Science and The Outer Limits. As an editor, he did the very impressive three-volume collection of Robert Bloch fiction, The Lost Bloch.
  • Born July 13, 1981 — Monica Byrne, 40. Her debut novel The Girl in the Road which is stellar won the Otherwise Award and was nominated for the Locus and Kitschies awards. The Actual Novel, her next novel, is due out in September. She’s written a generous handful of short fiction which you can find some of at her excellent website.
  • Born July 13, 1985 — Holly Lyn Walrath, 36. I don’t acknowledge SFF genre poetry nearly enough here, so let’s do it now. Her Glimmerglass Girl collection won the Elgin Award given by the Science Fiction Poetry Association. She’s also been a four-time finalist for the Rhysling Award which is given by the same group for the best genre poem of the year. Now who’s calling to tell me who these Awards are named after?

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • Speed Bump shows a traffic encounter with some clever wordplay.

(12) KRAFTWERK. The Takeout’s reviewers actually loved it — “Taste Test: Kraft Macaroni & Cheese Ice Cream (yes, it’s real)”.

Look, you’re about to read a lot about bright orange, macaroni-and-cheese-flavored ice cream. If that’s objectionable to you, we completely understand. It wasn’t something we expected to find information about in our own inboxes, either. But find it we did, and according to a press release, Kraft Macaroni & Cheese Ice Cream is, in fact, an intentional product and not some horrible mistake….

The reviewers trade comments in realtime –

MS: It’s kind of… noodly. I’m getting the starchy noodle flavor as much as the cheese.

LS: It actually tastes startlingly like Kraft mac and cheese. [laughing]

MS: Have you ever had goat cheese ice cream? It tasted a lot like that on the front end. I wonder if I would have tasted “mac and cheese” if it wasn’t orange, and if it didn’t say Kraft right on it….

(13) FEELING BETTER. There’s a saying about the permanence of LASFS membership, “Death will not release you. Even if you die!” It came to mind when I saw the trailer for Risen.

Disaster unfolds when a meteor strikes a small town, turning the environment uninhabitable and killing everything in the surrounding area. Exobiologist Lauren Stone is called to find answers to the unearthly event. As she begins to uncover the truth, imminent danger awakens and it becomes a race against time to save mankind.

(14) SEVENTIES TV. CrimeReads shows that in the early 1970s TV movies often focused on sf, fantasy, and horror. “In 1970s America, Bizarre TV Movie Thrillers Were All the Rage”. Although I mainly remember reading the TV listings for these and thinking, “There’s something I won’t have to watch.”

The series of movies was promoted as “an original motion picture produced especially for the Movie of the Week.” The use of the phrase “motion picture” seemed to imply class, of course.

The anthology film series began on September 23, 1969 with the airing of “Seven in Darkness,” about a plane crash whose seven survivors are all blind and must make their way out of the wilderness together. It starred old-school comedian Milton Berle, so perhaps there were bugs to be worked out of the prestige made-for-TV movie machine.

The first year’s worth of TV movies were dominated by thrillers starring the likes of Christopher George in the pilot for “The Immortal,” a TV series that I previously wrote about for CrimeReads, as well as films starring Eva Gabor, Sammy Davis Jr., Larry Hagman and Karen Valentine as the new Gidget. That movie, “Gidget Grows Up,” was a pilot for a TV series, a practice to be repeated many times during the 1970s TV-movie era.

The second season of the ABC movie anthology gave viewers more dynamic thrillers, though. “How Awful about Allan” starred Anthony Perkins. James Franciscus of “Longstreet” and Leslie Nielsen starred in “Night Slaves.” “The House That Would Not Die” featured Barbara Stanwyck….

(15) SUPER MARIO GOES FOR SUPER PRICE. “’Super Mario’ cartridge sold for video game record $1.5 million” reports Yahoo! Presumably the buyer isn’t going to take it out of the package.

A cartridge of Nintendo’s classic video game “Super Mario 64” set a world record Sunday, selling at auction for $1.56 million.

The sale, the first ever of a game cartridge to surpass $1 million, came just two days after a sealed copy of “The Legend of Zelda” — made for the old Nintendo NES console — sold for a then-record of $870,000.

Dallas-based Heritage Auctions, which handled both sales, has not identified the buyers. Before Friday, the record for a video game auction was the sale in April of a 1986 “Super Mario Bros.” cartridge: it went for $660,000….

(16) FOLLOW THE BOUNCING APPLE. Daniel Dern has decided, “Rather than wait until late Sept (when Foundation starts) — we’re turning in for… Schmigadoon!” “Apple’s musical comedy series ‘Schmigadoon!’ breaks into song with new trailer”.

… Apple TV+ today released the trailer for its new musical comedy series “Schmigadoon!,” executive produced by Lorne Michaels and starring Emmy Award nominee Cecily Strong and Emmy Award winner Keegan-Michael Key. The first two episodes will premiere globally on Friday, July 16, 2021 exclusively on Apple TV+, followed by one new episode weekly every Friday.

A parody of iconic Golden Age musicals, “Schmigadoon!” stars Strong and Key as a couple on a backpacking trip designed to reinvigorate their relationship who discover a magical town living in a 1940s musical. They then learn that they can’t leave until they find “true love.” The six-episode season also stars Alan Cumming, Kristin Chenoweth, Aaron Tveit, Dove Cameron, Ariana DeBose, Fred Armisen, Jaime Camil, Jane Krakowski and Ann Harada. Martin Short guest stars….

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In the Honest Game Trailers “World of Warcraft:  the Burning Crusade Classic,” Fandom Games says in this reissue of a 2008 expansion.”Everyone playing it is at least 30, so you can discuss your burgeoning health problems!”

[Thanks to Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Meredith, Lise Andreasen, Daniel Dern, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]