Pixel Scroll 6/16/24 No Clouds Were Shouted At In The Making Of This Scroll

(1) ON THE 101. Phil Nichols and Colin Kuskie are back with episode 43 of the Science Fiction 101 podcast: “Triffids, Cuckoos and Lichen: John Wyndham”.

We’re back, with an episode about the great British SF writer John Wyndham. On many occasions we’ve found ourselves talking about his books – such as The Day of the Triffids and The Midwich Cuckoos – but now we attempt to do them justice with a closer look.

(2) 100%. Philip Athans asserts, “All Fantasy And Science Fiction Is Allegorical” at Fantasy Author’s Handbook.

…I talked a lot about monsters as metaphor, what could be described as the allegorical nature of monsters, in my book Writing Monsters. Of course, I’m not the only person to have ever identified that. In “Re-reading John Wyndham, I” Alexander Adams wrote of the monsters in Wyndham’s Day of the Triffids

The triffids are not the subject of the story. Indeed, they are little more than a means to hasten the break-up of society and add an element of the unknown to an otherwise mundane catastrophe—widespread blindness. Wyndham is not interested in triffids per se but in examining how societal norms fragment under pressure and how difficult it is for man to adjust his expectations under extraordinary circumstances. Old habits and customs outlive their usefulness; sentiment can undermine necessary pragmatism; excessive ruthlessness can impose intolerably inhumane conditions; good intentions can lead to barbaric outcomes.

Again the emphasis above is mine. This is the allegorical heart of Day of the Triffids.

So then does that mean we all have to become “political writers,” like George Orwell or write overtly allegorical fiction like Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. in an effort to school our readers on some political, social, economic, or religious stance? No. Of course not. But I maintain that no matter our intentions, we actually all engage in allegory, and everything we write, one way or another, has a theme/message behind that….

(3) STAR TREK, CLARION, AND COMIC-CON PACKAGES. “New UC San Diego initiative features Star Trek stars, new Clarion masterclass and housing during Comic-Con” reports KPBS.

As part of a new initiative to commemorate Comic-Con at UC San Diego, the university will host Star Trek actors and writers George Takei and John Cho, and open their renowned and exclusive Clarion Science Fiction Writing Workshop to the a public via a one-day masterclass.

The university will also offer campus housing during Comic-Con for all UC affiliates and alumni, any current UC/CSU/community college students and participants in the masterclass. This is significant given that Comic-Con week is a notoriously challenging time to secure a hotel stay.

While UCSD is best known for its contributions to science and technology, it has also built a vibrant arts community. The university hopes sci-fi may bring both worlds closer together….

… UCSD is calling their Comic-Con-adjacent programming “The Science of Story.” It will be centered around the pre-con masterclass offered by the folks responsible for the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Workshop….

… This will be the first year that the public can gain access to Clarion through a special masterclass on Tuesday, July 23. It’s a full day of instruction and keynotes about the fundamentals of speculative fiction, and includes lunch and dinner.

Instructors and teaching artists include comic book writer Alyssa Wong (“Star Wars: The High Republic”); fiction writer and poet Isabel Yap (“Never Have I Ever”); O. Henry Prize winner ‘Pemi Aguda (“GhostRoots”); novelist and former physicist Emet North (“In Universes”); and special guest, writer Nalo Hopkinson….

… Another major component of UCSD’s Comic-Con initiative is a series of “Star Trek” events. George Takei and John Cho have both portrayed the character of Sulu at different points in the franchise — and are both writers and graphic novelists. Takei and Cho will hold an evening event to discuss the character, the series and their work as graphic novelists.

“A Tale of Two Sulus: An Evening with George Takei and John Cho” is Wednesday, July 24 at Epstein Family Amphitheater on campus. The following night, the San Diego Symphony will live score a screening of “Star Trek Beyond (2009).”…

Comic-Con housing packages at UC San Diego:

Details and registration here. Comic-Con badges are not included.

The Enterprise Package: Housing only 
Open to UC affiliates and alumni, and students enrolled in any UC, CSU, or California community college.

  • $640 per package
  • Check in: Wednesday, July 24, 2024
  • Check out: Sunday, July 28, 2024
  • Four night single-room stay (with shared common area/restrooms)
  • Free daily breakfast
  • MTS five-day transit pass, eligible for the Blue Line trolley
  • Access badge for public Park & Market events in downtown San Diego (July 24-July 28)

The Starfleet Package: Housing and “The Science of Story” programs
Open to the general public

  • $1,200 per package
  • Check in: Tuesday, July 23, 2024
  • Check out: Sunday, July 28, 2024
  • Five night single-room stay (with shared common area/restrooms)
  • Free daily breakfast
  • MTS five-day transit pass, eligible for the Blue Line trolley
  • Clarion Writers Masterclass (Wednesday, July 24), with lunch and dinner included
  • Access badge for public Park & Market events in downtown San Diego (July 24-July 28)
  • Opening night reception
  • VIP ticket for “A Tale of Two Sulus: An Evening with George Takei and John Cho” at Epstein Family Amphitheater (Tuesday, July 23)
  • VIP ticket for “Star Trek in Concert with the San Diego Symphony” at Epstein Family Amphitheater (Wednesday, July 24)
  • Ticket to “JAWS” screening at Epstein Family Amphitheater (Friday, July 26) 

The Holodeck Package: “The Science of Story” programs only (no housing)
Open to the general public

  • $425 per package
  • Clarion Writers Masterclass (Wednesday, July 24), with lunch and dinner included
  • Access badge for public Park & Market events in downtown San Diego (July 24-July 28)
  • Opening night reception
  • VIP ticket for “A Tale of Two Sulus: An Evening with George Takei and John Cho” at Epstein Family Amphitheater (Tuesday, July 23)
  • VIP ticket for “Star Trek in Concert with the San Diego Symphony” at Epstein Family Amphitheater (Wednesday, July 24)
  • Ticket to “JAWS” screening at Epstein Family Amphitheater (Friday, July 26) 

(4) BRADBURY TO BOK. Heritage Auctions’ “2024 June 20 – 23 Comics & Comic Art Signature® Auction #7374” includes a 5-page “Ray Bradbury to Hannes Bok – Illustrated and Signed Letter (January | Lot #94003”.

Ray Bradbury to Hannes Bok – Illustrated and Signed Letter (January 1, 1941). Written by Ray Bradbury to illustrator Hannes Bok, this five-page letter offers an incredibly juicy window into the personal drama of the Golden Age of Science Fiction.

It includes the newsworthy line, “He [Hasse] and I [Bradbury] are both bi-sexual and we both agree that you [Bok] are, too. Don’t fool yourself.” 

(5) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Compiled by Paul Weimer.]

June 16, 1896 Murray Leinster. (Died 1975).

By Paul Weimer: Murray Leinster. Not many people get an award named after one of their stories, but Murray Leinster managed that feat.  

Murray Leinster

I read his “Sidewise in Time” (for which the Sidewise Award for Alternate History is named) decades ago. I read it as part of my first full on dunking into Alternate Histories back in the 1980s, when I was trying to read every bit of AH I could get my paws on.  Unlike a lot of those stories and worlds, Murray Leinster instead gives us a sort of a multiverse of worlds, The sheer variety of worlds crammed into the story, a story where temporary conjunctions of parallel worlds throws a bevy of people into alternate worlds, and things from those worlds into our own, showed the pulp sensibilities of Leinster in full.  When I would later read Frederik Pohl’s “The Coming of the Quantum Cats”, I saw the homage to Leinster’s “Sidewise in Time” straightaway.

Alternate history is hardly Leinster’s only badge of honor of prediction, or as a forerunner in the science fiction field. “A Logic Named Joe”, in a time when computers were in their infancy, depicted a world with an internet. In these days with AI and the perils of information on the internet, the story and its plot seems more relevant than ever. But as off kilter as the logics go in that story, even Leinster didn’t predict an internet that, tainted by AI, would offer recipes for pizza that involve glue.

“The Runaway Skyscraper”, one of his earliest stories (and written before “Sidewise in Time” by over a decade) didn’t invent the time travel story. However, it helped give it a form in a 20th Century vein.  For reasons beyond understanding, a skyscraper slips several thousand years in the past, and the building occupants must come together to figure out how to survive…and how to return to their modern day, if they can. 

Leinster is a writer who started in the pulps and kept writing into the 1950’s and 1960’s, managing a transition that very few writers of his era were able to accomplish. His staying power isn’t super dense characterization, it’s his vivid imagination and ideas that he scatters like candy throughout his work. Take his story “Exploration Team” which has an amazing wild alien planet for the protagonist to cross…accompanied by his animal companions, including uplifted bears! 

Oh, and the spaceship in the opening scenes of Starcrash is named the Murray Leinster. 

(6) COMICS SECTION.

(7) ROOMINATIONS. I’m old enough (yes, I’m fucking old, did I forget to mention that?) that I read the Harrison paperback when it came out and had watched the TV show with a comparable title in first run, so as soon as I read the headline…I knew! “Long-Dead TV Show Forced Soylent Green To Change Its Name” at Slashfilm.

…”Soylent Green” was based on the 1966 novel “Make Room! Make Room!” by Harry Harrison. Back in 1984, Harrison was interviewed by Danny Peary for his book “Omni’s Screen Flights – Screen Fantasies: The Future According to SF Cinema,” and Harrison noted that the makers of “Soylent Green” couldn’t use his original title — an allusion to overpopulation — for a mindless reason. It seems the studio felt it was too close to the title of the 1953 sitcom “Make Room for Daddy.”… 

(8) DC COMICS UNIVERSITY. Ngozi Ukazu tells “How Big Barda and Jack Kirby Changed My Life” at DC.

“The Ties That Bind,” an episode from my favorite animated series Justice League Unlimited, opens like this: a woman watches an entire train drop onto a poor, doomed escape artist. It pulverizes him. The woman rushes over and, with amazing strength, flings scraps of the wreckage aside like gift wrap. But the escape artist is already behind her, smug and completely unharmed. This superwoman embraces him, but because she is also extremely annoyed, she scolds him, picking him clean off his feet.

When I watched this unfold for the first time as a teenager, my mind was successfully boggled. I had questions. Namely: “Who is that woman? And, oh my god…is that tiny man her husband?

This was my introduction to Big Barda and the escape artist Mister Miracle, heroes of Jack Kirby’s epic Fourth World. Barda was brawny, brash, and had a huge bleeding heart—and yes, that Houdini in the red, green, and yellow was her husband, Scott Free. The episode trotted out other incredible Fourth World staples including Granny Goodness and Kalibak, Boom Tubes and Mother Boxes, and even the super-prison, the X-Pit. Needless to say, this animated adventure left a lasting impact on me. Because over the last two years, I’ve had the pleasure of writing and illustrating Barda, the newest DC graphic novel for Young Adults….

Barda is a graphic novel for teens…but it is also kinda my thesis submission for a master’s degree in Jack Kirby studies from DC Comics University. For two years, I dove headfirst into Jack Kirby’s Fourth World, and I didn’t just read the comics, oh no. To ensure that Barda was developed with precision, I read and watched Jack Kirby interviews, searching for the thematic DNA of New Genesis and Apokolips. I learned about Kirby’s obsession with mythology, religion, and morality, and his fascination with the Free Love movement. And of course, I read my textbooks—New Gods (1971), Mister Miracle (1971), and The Forever People (1971)—to understand the rules of Barda’s world and the cosmic stakes that went with them. Call me a purist, but my focus was narrow. I only deviated to read Walt Simonson’s brilliant solo series Orion—a virtuoso performance. But for the most part, I wanted the story straight from the King himself.

(9) PRAISE FOR METROPOLIS. ScreenRant introduces a Corridor Crew commentary on movie effects: “’So On Point’: Most Influential Sci-Fi Movie Ever Stuns VFX Artists 97 Years Later”.

The most influential sci-fi movie ever made, Metropolis, has stunned a group of VFX artists with its unique practical effects 97 years later, showing why the film still holds up in the present day. The 1927 German silent film showcases a worker’s rebellion against the rich and powerful in a dystopian, futuristic city. Even in the present day, it is regarded as one of the best science fiction movies ever made for acting as a key influence on the genre for almost a century after its release.

Now, Corridor Crew has reaction to the VFX used in Metropolis, stunned by how the practical effects bring the film to life still hold up 97 years later.

Starting at 9:46, the group talks about how the movie used meticulous drawings to make its impressive effects, while mirrors were also used to make convincing shots and scene transitions. Check out what they had to say about the movie below:

“What you’re looking at here is that they’re building a miniature of the set off to one side, and they’re filming the real set on the other side, and in between the two is a mirror at a 45-degree angle. And they’ve lined up their reflection of the miniatures to line up with the real set, and then they scraped off the backing on half the mirror. So you’re seeing through part of it, and seeing the reflection on the other part of it. They used to mirror to do live compositing of two images.

“They don’t have the tools at this era to do hold-out mats on the film and only expose part of it and do the rest. You can do that, but it’s very janky, you’d have to do it very manually. Instead, they have two sets, both full size, and they just have a pane of glass. But this time, they’ve configured the frame that holds the mirror to be able to slide it in and out, and they actually scratched off different pieces of that mirror to make certain parts of the glass transparent, and other parts reflective…”

(10) STEVE’S HEROES. Steve Vertlieb was interviewed for the 30+ Minutes with H. P. Lovecraft podcast – “Meet Your Heroes”.

Steve Vertlieb talks about befriending Horror Writer and Protégé of Lovecraft, Robert Bloch, as well as meeting others he regards as his heroes.

(11) VIDEO OF THE DAY. How It Should Have Ended is there to record “Super Café – New Suit Jitters”.

Superman is a little anxious about his new suit and the reboot so Batman is offering him some pointers. Deadpool shows up with a little advice of his own.

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

Pixel Scroll 5/14/24 Down The Seven Pixels Scroll

(1) BUTLER CONFERENCE AT HUNTINGTON THIS MONTH. The Huntington Library in Pasadena, CA will host a two-day conference, “Futurity as Praxis: Learning from Octavia E. Butler” on May 23-24.

Octavia Butler.

The year 2024 marks the beginning of the critical dystopian future Octavia E. Butler (1947–2006) envisioned in her groundbreaking novel Parable of the Sower. Her fiction and the story of her life compel us to reckon with power, leadership, creativity, the Earth, human relationships, and the unknown possibilities that await us in the stars. Now, intellectuals from different communities will gather to contemplate her legacy. This conference asks how we have learned from Butler’s writing and what her archive at The Huntington—a short distance from where the author spent her formative years in Pasadena, California—can help future generations discover.

One of the panels will feature well-known sff creators.

Session 1: Creativity as Praxis

  • Moderator: Sage Ni’Ja Whitson
    Queer & Trans anti-disciplinary artist and writer, Department of Dance and Department of Black Study at UC Riverside
  • Damian Duffy
    Author of the graphic novel adaptations of Kindred and Parable of the Sower
  • Steven Barnes
    Author of The Eightfold PathMarvel’s Black Panther: Sins of the King podcast series, and Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror on Shudder
  • Sheree Renée Thomas
    Editor of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction and the Dark Matter anthologies, poet, author of Nine Bar Blues: Stories from an Ancient Future

Tickets for the two-day conference are available here. General: $25 (Students free). Optional lunch: $20 (each day)

(2) ROMAN AROUND. “’Megalopolis’: New Teaser Trailer Drops Ahead of Cannes Premiere” reports Deadline.

Ahead of its world premiere here at Cannes, Francis Ford Coppola has dropped a teaser trailer for his master epic Meglopolis. While the first trailer showed Adam Driver’s ambitious architectural idealist Cesar attempting suicide atop a skyscraper, yet stopping time, here we see a montage of the pic’s action: a devastated city indulged in neon and noir infused Bacchanal.

Coppola’s latest is billed as a Roman Epic fable set in an imagined Modern America. The City of New Rome must change, causing conflict between Cesar Catilina (Driver), a genius artist who seeks to leap into a utopian, idealistic future, and his opposition, Mayor Franklyn Cicero (Giancarlo Esposito), who remains committed to a regressive status quo, perpetuating greed, special interests, and partisan warfare.  Torn between them is socialite Julia Cicero (Nathalie Emmanuel), the mayor’s daughter, whose love for Cesar has divided her loyalties, forcing her to discover what she truly believes humanity deserves.

(3) FROM SOUP TO NUTS. The Guardian has a long feature on the history of Coppola’s efforts to make this film: “’Has this guy ever made a movie before?’ Francis Ford Coppola’s 40-year battle to film Megalopolis”.

Early reactions to Megalopolis have been mixed. After a private screening in Los Angeles last month, one executive described it as “batshit crazy”….

…Others, however, were fulsome in their praise. “I feel I was a part of history. Megalopolis is a brilliant, visionary masterpiece,” said the director Gregory Nava after the screening. “I was so overwhelmed that I couldn’t do anything for the rest of the day.” An anonymous viewer at a London screening went even further: “This film is like Einstein and relativity in 1905, Picasso and Guernica in 1937 – it’s a date in the history of cinema.”…

(4) CAROL SHIELDS PRIZE. The 2024 Carol Shields Prize for Fiction, which provides $150,000USD to the winner, is the largest English-language literary prize in the world for women and non-binary authors. So the announcement of the winner may be of interest to you even if the book is not genre.

V. V. Ganeshananthan has been named the winner for her novel Brotherless Night, published by Random House.

(5) COMPUSERVE GETS A PLAQUE. It didn’t take as long as you might have expected for one of the building blocks of personal computing to earn its own historic marker. Alex Krislov shared a photo of Ohio’s salute to CompuServe.

(6) LATEST ITERATION OF FANHISTORIC CLIFTON’S. Boing Boing says “Legendary L.A. eatery Clifton’s Cafeteria is back! (but is called Clifton’s Republic now)”.

…To say Clifton’s is kitschy doesn’t begin to capture it. It’s more like if uber-kitschy, ur-kitschy and mondo-kitschy had a baby….

We’re interested because LASFS used to meet at Clifton’s in the late 1930s. And consequently, Discover Los Angeles’ article “Clifton’s Republic: The Story of an LA Icon” has the tidbit of greatest interest to fans:

…The third floor is home to the Gothic Bar, which features a booth named after sci-fi writer Ray Bradbury, a patron of the original Clifton’s who became a pal of Meieran’s. The back bar is a repurposed 19th-century gothic altar. The third floor also features Clinton Hall, a live performance and private event space, and lots of taxidermy dioramas created in consultation with experts from the Natural History Museum….

(7) HE’S ON THE COVER. Fantasy author Lev Grossman in on the front of Publishers Weekly.

(8) DON’T REIGN ON THEIR PARADE. Scavenger’s Reign may get a second chance on another platform. “Netflix Just Saved 2023’s Most Underrated Sci-Fi Show From Cancelation” reports Inverse:

Scavengers Reign, the remarkable but underseen sci-fi series that premiered on Max in late 2023. Scavengers Reign was widely regarded as one of the year’s best shows, and one of many projects that heralded a golden age for indie animation. Unfortunately, the series was canceled on May 10… but that development has a silver lining.

Per VarietyScavengers Reign will remain on Max (a rare concession for WB’s canceled shows), but its first season will also stream on Netflix. The rival streamer is reportedly interested in picking up the show for more seasons, but continuation is contingent on Scavengers’ success on the platform.

… Given Netflix’s growing interest in adult animation, the streamer might be an ideal destination. Scavengers Reign follows the crew of a deep space freighter after they crash on a hostile alien planet. Across 12 episodes, the crew works to find their way back to their ship, and survive a world trying to annihilate them. The series doesn’t shy away from dark themes, so it should feel at home alongside Netflix originals like Blue Eyed Samurai….

(9) TEDDY HARVIA CARTOON.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born May 14, 1944 George Lucas, 80. I can say without doubt George Lucas was a director whose first work I encountered was THX 1138. What a damn strange film that is. Upon rewatching it twenty or so years later, the Suck Fairy wasn’t pleased by it as I’ll say she holds that it just feels really dated now which I agree with her. 

Ahhh but then was Star Wars, and no I won’t accept the renaming it. Simply didn’t happen. The film itself which I’ve seen at the theater and watched a number of times since is extraordinary. That it garnered a Hugo at IguanaCon II shouldn’t surprise anyone here. 

George Lucas in 2009.

Confession time. I’ve not watched any of Star Wars films past the first three. I adore The Empire Strikes Back, a Hugo winner at Denvention Two, actually my favorite of the first three films. I don’t dislike the final film, Return of the Jedi, Hugo of course, this time at L.A. Con II, but I really do think the story is better in The Empire Strikes Back. Also, Lucas gave his screenwriting credit to Leigh Brackett for that film after her death from cancer.

So, what’s my next film that he did that I really like? Oh guess. It was when he was story writer and executive producer on the first four Indiana Jones films, which his colleague and good friend Steven Spielberg directed, so it is Raiders of The Lost Ark is my favorite film here (with Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom being almost as good), and the last should been not have been done. So not surprisingly Raiders of The Lost Ark would win him and Spielberg a Hugo, this time at Chicon IV.

Need I say that The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles was wonderful? Yes, it stretched probability to the breaking point and way beyond continuously in terms of who young Indy met, but that was the sheer fun of the series. No Hugo nomination, why, oh why?

Did you know he wrote the story for Willow? (Not the screenplay.) Well, he did. Cool. I mean really cool. Noreascon 3 nominated it for a Hugo but a rabbit from Toon Town won that year. Speaking of really cool films, he was executive producer and co-edited Labyrinth with director Jim Henson. Yes, you nominated it for a Hugo, this time at Conspiracy ’87. 

He produced Howard the Duck, which the French had the gall to name on the one-sheets Howard Une nouvelle race de héros (Howard: A New Breed of Hero) was considered his worst film by far. It’s not a film I like but I feel that it should be noted here. No, you did not nominate Howard Une nouvelle race de héros for a Hugo. Nor did French give it any Awards either.

Finally for me, he also was the creator and executive producer of the Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated series which premiered with a feature film of the same name that aired just before its first episode. 

I know he’s done a lot more including some new material now on Disney+ but I’m not taking that streaming service now. At some point, I’ll gorge myself over there but not yet. 

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • Bizarro depicts the benefits of home delivery.
  • UFO lets a great line go astray.

(12) SPEAKING OF GEORGE. “’Grow up. These are my movies, not yours’: George Lucas Won’t be Happy How Star Wars Fan Group is Illegally Saving the Original Trilogy” Fandomwire says confidently.

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away began George Lucas’ epic space opera tale that eventually grew into the pop culture phenomenon we know today as Star Wars. The original trilogy of films Lucas made during the 70s and 80s, became beloved across the globe, but the theatrical cuts of the movies have neared the brink of extinction following Lucas’ special edition re-releases.

As a result, a group of rebel Star Wars fans have taken it upon themselves to not only preserve but also digitally restore the original cuts so that the fanbase can enjoy the version of the films they first fell in love with. However, the group’s activities directly clash with Lucas’ vision for his franchise and border on a legal grey area. Here is why George Lucas won’t be happy with the rebel fans trying to preserve the original cuts of the original trilogy.

The original trilogy of Star Wars films, spearheaded by George Lucas were critical and commercial successes. However, in 1997 Lucas released the “Special Edition” of the films for the trilogy’s 20th anniversary, which featured extensive changes to the original theatrical cuts.

The original cuts have since become scarce. However, a group of Star Wars fans, known as Team Negative One have reportedly almost completely digitally restored the original cuts in 4K using 35-millimeter prints of the original trilogy….

To show how serious Lucas is about his later cuts —

…Similarly, when the National Film Registry aimed to preserve 1977’s Star Wars (later retitled Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope), Lucas reportedly refused to provide them with a copy of the original theatrical release…

(13) Q&A ABOUT FUNDRAISING ANTHOLOGY. Broken Olive Branches is a charity anthology; over 30 authors in the horror community donated stories to help the civilians of Palestine. The proceeds from the anthology go to ANERA and the Palestinian Children’s Relief Fund. Roseanna interviews the editor and some of the authors involved in “Roundtable Interview: Broken Olive Branches” at Nerds of a Feather.

(14) WHERE’S THE BEEF? AI raises the dead: “It was a classic rap beef. Then Drake revived Tupac with AI and Congress got involved” on NPR’s “Planet Money”.

In late April, Senator Thom Tillis (R-North Carolina) began his testimony before a Senate subcommittee hearing by doing something unusual for a stuffy institution like Congress: He played a new song from the rapper Drake.

But it wasn’t Drake’s rap verse that Tillis felt was important for Congress to hear. Rather it was a verse in the song featuring the voice of the legendary — and long dead — rapper Tupac Shakur.

In a kind of uniquely modern sorcery, the song uses artificial intelligence to resurrect Tupac from the dead and manufacture a completely new — and synthetic — verse delivered in the late rapper’s voice. The song, titled “Taylor Made Freestyle,” is one in a barrage of brutal diss tracks exchanged between Drake and Kendrick Lamar in a chart-topping rap battle. Kendrick is from California, where Tupac is like a god among rap fans, so weaponizing the West Coast rap legend’s voice in the feud had some strategic value for Drake, who is from Toronto.

Drake, apparently, thought it’d be okay to use Tupac’s synthetic voice in his song without asking permission from the late rapper’s estate. But, soon after the song’s release, Tupac’s estate sent a cease-and-desist letter demanding that Drake take the song down, which he did. However — given the murky legal landscape regulating AI creations — it’s unclear whether Tupac’s estate actually has the law on their side.

And so the beef between Drake and Kendrick Lamar has become not only one of the most brilliant — and most vicious — battles in the history of rap. It’s also become a historic flashpoint for the issues posed by what you might call AI necromancy — resurrecting traits of the dead using AI technology.

We’ve entered a new world where anyone can conjure the voice or visual likeness of a dead celebrity — or really anyone, dead or alive — with a few clicks using AI software.

(15) JEOPARDY! SFF. [Item by David Goldfarb.] Catching up on Jeopardy Masters and also watching tonight’s episode, here’s the SFF content I saw:

Jeopardy Masters, Wednesday 5/8/2024

Game 1:

Literature: Who Said It? $2000: “I freewheel a lot…I reckon I’ll become president of the galaxy, and it just happens, it’s easy”

Matt Amodio got the right book but the wrong character: “What’s Dent?”

(One of his quirks is that he never bothers to change his question words but just always says “What’s…?”)

Amy Schneider gave us, “Who is Beeblebrox?”

Most Filers I assume know this, but just in case I’ll fill in that the book was The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and the characters Arthur Dent and Zaphod Beeblebrox.

Literature: Who Said It? $1600: “For if he is still with the quick un-dead, your death would make you even as he is. No, you must live!”

Yogesh Raut knew or correctly guessed, “Who is Van Helsing?”

Literature: Who Said It? $1200: A Daily Double for Yogesh, who wagered all of his 15,400 points. “She betrayed you, Winston. Immediately — unreservedly. I have seldom seen anyone come over to us so promptly”.

Yogesh hesitated a bit, then tried, “Who is…O’Brien?” And this was correct, the inquisitor from 1984.

Literature: Who Said It? $400: “What’s taters, precious, eh, what’s taters?”

Matt got it: “What’s Gollum?”

Game 2:

On the Director’s Résumé, $2000: He spoke the silent language of horror in 1922’s “Nosferatu”

Victoria Groce got it: “Who is Murnau?”

Regular Jeopardy!, Monday 5/13/2024

In the Double Jeopardy round:

TV’s Fantastical Places, $1200: This undersea abode of cartoon fame is based on an actual atoll used for atomic testing between 1946 and 1958

Michael Richter tried, “What is SpongeBob Squarepants?” but this was the name of the show, not the place.

Returning champ Will Stewart knew, “What is Bikini Bottom?”

TV’s Fantastical Places, $2000: First seen in 1969, this planet on “Doctor Who” was caught up in a time war with the Daleks

Will knew it: “What is Gallifrey?”

Literary Title Occupations, $800: In a special edition, J.K. Rowling did her own illustrations for the story collection title “The Tales of Beedle the” this

Michael got it: “What is a bard?”

Literary Title Occupations, $400: Emily Chambers is one of these spiritual intermediaries in a C.J. Archer novel, hunting a demon & talking to a ghost

Will: “What is a medium?”

Literary Title Occupations, $1200: In “The Magician’s Nephew”, animals talk like humans & Jadis, an evil witch, flees from Charn & reaches this fantasy land

Will got this one too: “What is Narnia?”

TV’s Fantastical Places, $800: This castle was the ancestral home of Ned Stark & family on “Game of Thrones”

Will, evidently an SFF watcher, knew “What is Winterfell?”

TV’s Fantastical Places, $800: Mystic Falls is the locale for blood-sucking brothers Damon & Stefan on this long-running CW show

Joyce Yang got in for “What’s The Vampire Diaries?”

Jeopardy Masters, Friday 5/10/2024

Game 1, Double Jeopardy round:

Oscars for Makeup & Hairstyling, $1600: For this 2015 film, Lesley Vanderwalt got the idea for Furiosa’s look from an image of a girl with clay across her forehead

Mattea Roach got it: “What’s Mad Max: Fury Road?”

Oscars for Makeup & Hairstyling, $1200: This man has won 7 Academy Awards for makeup, including one for his work on “An American Werewolf in London”

Amy Schneider responded, “Who is Baker?” And Rick Baker was correct.

Oscars for Makeup & Hairstyling, $400: Makeup artist Ve Neill used moss to make Michael Keaton look like he crawled out from underneath a rock for this 1988 film.

Mattea asked us, “What’s ‘Beetlejuice’?”

Game 2, Single Jeopardy round

A Literary Tipple, $600: It takes a lot of flowers (weeds, some say) to make a batch of this stuff, the title of a Ray Bradbury novel

James Holzhauer knew it was dandelion wine.

Made You Say It, $1000: Compelled by his people’s naiveté, this Trojan said, “Don’t trust the horse…even when they bring gifts, I fear the Greeks”

Victoria Groce gave us, “Who is Laocöon?”

(16) ALIEN EMBASSIES. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] It was the monthly  ‘Sci-Fi Sunday’ over at Science & Futurism with Isaac Arthur with a look at the SF trope of alien embassies.

Because it was a Sci-Fi Sunday episode, Isaac assumed some sort of FTL travel but not instantaneous communication. He takes a (he himself says) simple assumption of all civilizations arising together and expanding their sphere of influence, which in 3-dimensions would give each 12 neighbors.

With regards to SF, he draws mainly on cinema and TV looking at embassies Babylon V, Star Trek and Stargate.  However Niven and Pournelle’s A Mote in God’s Eye,  and Dune do get a look in.

He also points to flaws in many SF shows’ plot arising out of mis-understandings making a fairly plausible case against such actually taking place.

He opines that the embassy would be in space for control biological contaminants (both ways) and here, it is bacteria rather than viruses are the major problem. He also notes that assuming an advanced planetary system might be colonized out to the equivalent of it Kuiper belt, such is the distance between stars that any traveler passing through a stellar empire would likely come no closer than many thousands of times the Kuiper orbit distance to a single star’s civilization and so no need or practicality to control travelers simply passing through.

“We often imagine encountering many alien civilizations, and establishing trade and relationships with them, but what would being an alien ambassador be like?”

35-minute episode below…

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

Pixel Scroll 5/9/24 When Pixel Filed, And Scroll Span, Who Then Melted Jack Dann?

(1) PARDON MY WTF. “Apple Apologizes for iPad Pro Ad After Criticism”The Hollywood Reporter explains why they need to. (Though they can’t be too sorry because the kerfuffle has helped the ad draw 53 million views.)

Apple is apologizing for an iPad Pro ad that was widely criticized when it debuted earlier this week.

The dystopian spot, titled “Crush,” shows several instruments, including a guitar and piano, being crushed by a hydraulic press. Also among the items being smashed flat are balls that look like emojis and an Angry Birds statue….

Apple CEO Tim Cook posted the spot on X (formerly Twitter) on Tuesday (it also was posted on YouTube). His post and the YouTube video are still up, but the spot won’t run on TV, according to Ad Age.

“Meet the new iPad Pro: the thinnest product we’ve ever created, the most advanced display we’ve ever produced, with the incredible power of the M4 chip. Just imagine all the things it’ll be used to create,” Cook wrote….

[One of the many negative comments was,] “Crushing symbols of human creativity and cultural achievements to appeal to pro creators, nice. Maybe for the next Apple Watch Pro you should crush sports equipment, show a robot running faster than a man, then turn to the camera and say, ‘God is dead and we have killed him.’”

(2) KGB. Ellen Datlow has posted photos from Wednesday night’s Fantastic Fiction at KGB session where John Wiswell and Anya Johanna DeNiro read from their recent novels.

(3) CHOOSING CONVENTIONS. The new episode of Mur Lafferty’s I Should Be Writing podcast is “Conquering Conventions; Crafting Confidence”. (There’s also an excellent transcript available – yay!)

In this episode, she shares her experiences and insights on convention attendance, from choosing the right ones to the art of mingling without the cringe. Plus, she tackles the ever-present concern of COVID safety in crowded spaces.

Whether you’re a cosplayer or a casual attendee, Mur advises on how to present yourself professionally, connect with industry pros, and enjoy the con experience while staying true to your comfort level. And for those not ready to dive back into the physical con scene, she discusses the merits of virtual conventions and how they can be a great alternative.

(4) LEVAR READS RAY. LeVar Burton Reads “The Toynbee Convector” © 1983 by Ray Bradbury in his latest podcast.

The world’s only time traveler finally reveals his secrets.

(5) ‘THE HUNT FOR GOLLUM’. “New ‘Lord of the Rings’ Movie Coming in 2026, Andy Serkis Directing”Variety has the story.

Warner Bros. will release the first of its new batch of live-action “The Lord of the Rings” films in 2026, which will focus on Andy Serkis’ Gollum.

Original “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy filmmaker Peter Jackson and his partners Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens are producing the movie and “will be involved every step of the way,” Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav said during an earnings call Thursday.

The project is currently in the early stages of script development from writers Walsh and Boyens, along with Phoebe Gittins and Arty Papageorgiou, and will “explore storylines yet to be told,” Zaslav said.

In a press release from Warner Bros. later Thursday morning, the studio revealed that the working title for the film is “Lord of the Rings: The Hunt for Gollum,” and it will be directed by and star Serkis in his iconic titular role….

…A separate, animated Middle-earth movie, “The Lord of the Rings: The War of the Rohirrim,” is due on Dec. 13 via Warner Bros. and director Kenji Kamiyama. That movie is set 200 years before the events of “The Hobbit.”…

(6) OCTOTHORPE. In episode 109 of the Octothorpe podcast, “But Also a Worrying One”, John Coxon is middle, Alison Scott is even sadder, and Liz Batty is sorry.

We have a bumper mailbag in Octothorpe 109, and we continue our discussion about accessibility in Eastercon before segueing into a discussion of money and privilege with respect to conventions. We also mention the latest news out of Chengdu. Massive thanks to Ulrika O’Brien for the gorgeous cover art this week!

The background is a starry, lightning-filled square in blues, purples, and yellows. Atop that, there is a spaceship, somewhat like a rocket, with engines coming out of the sides. There are yellow lights shining from it, and a ladder reaches up to a central archway. John, Alison and Liz are depicted as silhouettes, regarding it with wonder. Their shadows stretch off the canvas, and they look faintly alien or futuristic in a hard-to-define manner.

(7) SERLING’S TRUNK STORY. “A short story by The Twilight Zone’s Rod Serling is published for the first time” reports NPR.

…Not long after he returned from the war in 1946, Serling attended Antioch College on the G.I. bill. There, in his early 20s, he penned “First Squad, First Platoon,” a short story which is being published for the first time Thursday in The Strand. It was one of his earliest stories, starting a writing career that Serling once said helped him get the war “out of his gut.”

“It was like an exercise for him to deal with the demons of war and fear,” said his daughter, Jodi Serling. “And he sort of turned it into fiction, although there was a lot of truth to it.”

The story is set on Leyte Island in “heavy jungle foliage” and a “hostile rain that caked mud on weapons, uniforms, equipment.” Each of the five chapters in the 11,000-word story is about a different soldier and how they died….

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born May 9, 1936 Albert Finney. (Died 2019.) I’m very, very fond of British performers and among them is Albert Finney. So let’s look at the career of this most talent actor.

His first genre performance is as Ebenezer Scrooge in Scrooge. Scrooge is my favorite Albert Finney film and it is benefitted immensely by the many extraordinary strong performances by actors like him. To give a good sense of him in that role, I feel obligated to show him in his full Victorian regalia. 

That’s followed by being Dewey Wilson in Wolfen, a deeply disturbing film. Wolfen to me is the perfect werewolf film as it is a police procedural firmly within the horror genre. His character here Detective Dewey Wilson along with Diane Venora as Detective Rebecca Neff unraveled the grisly murders that turn-out to be based in First Folk reality. 

He plays Edward Bloom, Sr. Big Fish in the wonderful Big Fish. He’s central character here.  He is a story-teller but his only son, Will, doesn’t enjoy them because he believes they are simply not true. Of course, they are, but they’re just exaggerated. Or are they being so? 

He voices Finis Everglot in Corpse Bride. Now I’d love to tell how he was in that role but I’ll confess and say that I’ve not see that film as I am not a big fan of Tim Burton’s animated work at all. 

He was Kincade in Skyfall. He’s the gamekeeper of Skyfall Lodge and the ancestral Bond family estate in Scotland. He’s got a major role in that film.

He was Maurice Allington in The Green Man based on Kingsley Amis’ novel of the same name. He’s the somewhat inebriated owner and landlord of The Green Man, an inn that he says is haunted by ghosts.  He tells tales of these to scare guests as it amuses, or trying to seduce them to no avail as he’s not at all handsome. But it may be that The Green Man is truly haunted and those ghosts are happy with him…  it’s a great role for him and he play it quite well.

Lastly, I’ll wrap up with Murder on the Orient Express, the 1974 version. I have that poster, an original, not a reproduction, framed and hanging here as I truly love this film. Christie, who lived just long enough to see the film get released and be a box office success, said that Murder on the Orient Express and Witness for the Prosecution were the only movie versions of her books that she liked although she expressed disappointment with Poirot’s moustache as depicted here was far from the creation she had detailed in her mysteries.

She’s misremembering her detailing of that moustache which I confirmed checking the many such novels I have on hand in Apple Books. Most novels have no detailed description at all, and this in The Mysterious Affair at Styles  being typical: “Poirot seized his hat, gave a ferocious twist to his moustache, and, carefully brushing an imaginary speck of dust from his sleeve, motioned me to precede him down the stairs; there we joined the detectives and set out for Styles.”

Finney made a most excellent Poirot though many later critics compared him to David Souchet who they consider the definitive version of the character. I always wondered what Dame Christie would have thought of Souchet.  

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • Free Range might not be teaching what the student wants to learn.
  • Carpe Diem has an unexpected Egyptian traffic sign.
  • Heathcliff’s latest in a week-long series of guest appearances comes from Star Wars.
  • Nathan W. Pyle emphathizes with creators.

(10) GLIMPSE THE NEXT CHAPTER OF NEIL GAIMAN AND MARK BUCKINGHAM’S GROUNDBREAKING MIRACLEMAN SAGA. Miracleman By Gaiman & Buckingham: The Silver Age #1-7 is now available as a complete collection. Catch a glimpse of the action in the new trailer, featuring artwork from all seven issues.

In THE SILVER AGE, Miracleman has created a utopia on Earth where gods walk among men and men have become gods. But when his long-dead friend Young Miracleman is resurrected, Miracleman finds that not everyone is ready for his brave new world! The story that ensues fractures the Miracleman Family and sends Young Miracleman on a stirring quest to understand this world — and himself. It’s a touching exploration of the hero’s journey that ranges from the top of the Himalayas to the realm of the towering Black Warpsmiths — and into the secret past of the Miracleman Family!

 (11) X-MEN ONE-DAY SPECIAL ON LEARNEDLEAGUE. [Item by David Goldfarb.] LearnedLeague just had a One-Day Special quiz about the X-Men. It focused more on the comic books than the various adaptations, which suited me just fine. I’m currently scored at 11/12, but I’ve submitted an appeal on the one answer where I was marked wrong. We’ll see if that goes through.

You can find the questions behind this link, although nearly all of them have pictures that people who aren’t LL members won’t be able to see. None of the pictures are absolutely necessary, but at least a couple of them have valuable clues.

(12) VIDEO GAME ANIMATION INSIGHTS. “’Harold Halibut’ brings with handmade charm and stop motion inspirations” on NPR’s “Here and Now”.

“Harold Halibut” is a new sci-fi video game set in an underwater space colony. But it’s got a novel look; all of the characters and sets in the game were made by hand, then 3D scanned and animated digitally….

(13) BRAINS DON’T GROW ON TREES. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] 1 cu. mm of brain tissue. 5000 slices. 23 cm of blood vessels. 57,000 cells. 150,000,000 neural connections. Lots of surprises. The Guardian reports “Scientists find 57,000 cells and 150m neural connections in tiny sample of human brain”.

… “The aim was to get a high resolution view of this most mysterious piece of biology that each of us carries around on our shoulders,” said Jeff Lichtman, a professor of molecular and cellular biology at Harvard. “The reason we haven’t done it before is that it is damn challenging. It really was enormously hard to do this.”

Having sliced the tissue into wafers less than 1,000 times thinner than the width of a human hair, the researchers took electron microscope images of each to capture details of brain structure down to the nanoscale, or thousandths of a millimetre. A machine-learning algorithm then traced the paths of neurons and other cells through the individual sections, a painstaking process that would have taken humans years. The images comprised 1.4 petabytes of data, equivalent to 14,000 full length, 4k resolution movies.

“We found many things in this dataset that are not in the textbooks,” said Lichtman. “We don’t understand those things, but I can tell you they suggest there’s a chasm between what we already know and what we need to know.”

In one baffling observation, so-called pyramidal neurons, which have large branches called dendrites protruding from their bases, displayed a curious symmetry, with some facing forwards and others backwards. Other images revealed tight whorls of axons, the thin fibres that carry signals from one brain cell to another, as if they had become stuck on a roundabout before identifying the right exit and proceeding on their way…

(14) INSULIN PUMP ISSUE. “FDA Warns on Insulin Pump Problem” at MedPage Today. “This has been a plot point in several movies and tv shows lately,” says Chris Barkley.

A mobile app used with an insulin pump that led to 224 injuries was recalled by Tandem Diabetes Care, the FDA announced today.

The recall is for the 2.7 version of the Apple iOS t:connect mobile app, used in conjunction with t:slim X2 insulin pump with Control-IQ technology, the agency said.

The FDA identified the action as a Class I recall, the most serious type. The recall is a correction, not a product removal, and was prompted by a software glitch that may cause the pump battery to drain sooner than expected. Users are being urged to update the app to the latest software….

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Adam Savage tells “How Star Wars: Ahsoka’s Jedi Shuttle Filming Model Was Made!”

During the production of Star Wars: Ahsoka, Adam Savage visited the miniatures filming stage set up at Lucasfilm to watch the practical model of Ahsoka’s T-6 Jedi Shuttle being filmed. Modelmaker John Goodson and machinist Dan Patrascu spent four months building the 30-inch model of that T-6 ship for the show–an incredible hero ship model not only equipped with lights, but was fully mechanized with a rotating wing!

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

Pixel Scroll 4/20/24 Was Cheops A Very Large Cat? Only The Builders Know

(1) UKRANIAN WOMEN IN SF. Michael Burianyk’s English-language roundtable interview with Ukrainian Science Fiction and Fantasy writers Daria Piskozub, Svitlana Taratorina, Iryna Hrabovska, Natalia Matolinets and Nataliya Dovhopol has just been published in the British Science Fiction Association blog, Vector: “Ukrainian Women in SF: A Roundtable Conversation”. The wide-ranging discussion, on Ukrainian Science Fiction and Fantasy, literature and culture, language and translation, women’s writing, is insightful and often touching and even harrowing at times.

There is a strong trend of more Ukrainian SFF being published. Why did you think this was happening?

Nataliya It’s mainly about escapism. After spending the night in a bomb shelter and doom scrolling all day, one needs something less traumatic. Yet, SFF can also help to cope with feelings, to project one’s own experiences on those in the stories. Then the ban on book imports from Russia and a growing interest in Ukrainian culture has created more of a demand for domestic literature….

(2) HORROR UNIVERSITY OPEN FOR ENROLLMENT. StokerCon has announced the 2024 Horror University Online workshop schedule. From May 30 to June 1, they will present nine live, in-person workshops at StokerCon 2024 in San Diego, CA. See items at the link.

HORROR UNIVERSITY is designed for horror writers interested in refining their writing, learning new skills and techniques, exploring new writing formats, or better understanding the genre. These workshops are taught by some of the most experienced voices in horror. Full descriptions and registration information for our STOKERCON 2024 Workshop Schedule is available in the Horror University School on Teachable: https://horror-university.teachable.com/courses/category/stokercon-2024.

REGISTRATION IS OPEN NOW!

Registration for each workshop is $65 for non-HWA-members. HWA members receive a 15% discount on individual courses or a 20% discount on registration for five or more courses. Log into the Members Only area of www.horror.org and check the discounts page for codes. General registration for StokerCon does not include Horror University programming; additional registration is required so that the Con is able to compensate each instructor for their workshop and support the cost of the program.

(3) FIVE FOR YOUR MT TBR. Lisa Tuttle’s roundup of “The best recent science fiction, fantasy and horror” for the Guardian reviews Calypso by Oliver K. Langmead; Someone You Can Build a Nest In by John Wiswell; The Familiar by Leigh Bardugo; The Underhistory by Kaaron Warren; and The Universe Delivers the Enemy You Need by Adam Marek.

(4) GAY FURRY HACKERS. Them reports“Gay Furry Hacker Group SiegedSec Breached Far-Right Media Outlet Real America’s Voice”.

The gay furry hacker group SiegedSec has done it once again, this time claiming responsibility for leaking the data from a far-right media outlet.

In a Monday post to its Telegram channel, the group announced that it had hacked the app for Real America’s Voice, a right-wing media outlet founded in 2020 that regularly features far-right activists like Steve Bannon and Charlie Kirk. The outlet also frequently platforms conspiracy theories and transphobic rhetoric.

As part of SiegedSec’s ongoing hacktivism campaign OpTransRights, the group said they released the personal information of over 1,200 users on the app, including their full names, phone numbers, and email addresses. The group also said they “went poof on their files,” wiping user data from the app’s API and its cloud storage.

“[T]hroughout our attacks on transphobic entities, we have received concerns that our attacks will be used to label the LGBTQ+ community as ‘terrorists’ and ‘criminals,’” the group wrote in a Telegram message. “[T]he thing is, these types of people will blame the LGBTQ+ community regardless of what we do. they will look for a reason to hate, they won’t listen to reason, they want to spread lies to shun people different than them.”…

(5) COPYRIGHT’S WOBBLY LEGAL LINE. “Author granted copyright over book with AI-generated text—with a twist” reports Ars Technica.

…The novel draws from Shupe’s eventful life, including her advocacy for more inclusive gender recognition. Its registration provides a glimpse of how the [Copyright Office] is grappling with artificial intelligence, especially as more people incorporate AI tools into creative work. It is among the first creative works to receive a copyright for the arrangement [emphasis added] of AI-generated text.

“We’re seeing the Copyright Office struggling with where to draw the line,” intellectual property lawyer Erica Van Loon, a partner at Nixon Peabody, says. Shupe’s case highlights some of the nuances of that struggle—because the approval of her registration comes with a significant caveat.

The USCO’s notice granting Shupe copyright registration of her book does not recognize her as author of the whole text [emphasis added] as is conventional for written works. Instead she is considered the author of the “selection, coordination, and arrangement of text generated by artificial intelligence.” This means no one can copy the book without permission, but the actual sentences and paragraphs themselves are not copyrighted and could theoretically be rearranged and republished as a different book. [emphasis added]

(6) GLASGOW 2024 NEWS. The Glasgow 2024 Worldcon “In Memoriam” list is being constantly updated by Steven H Silver. They ask of you know of someone you believe should be included, please let us know.

(7) DUNE MUSICAL AT WORLDCON. Glasgow 2024 also invites members to “Prepare for a unique twist on Frank Herbert’s masterpiece with Dune! The Musical. Solo artist Dan Collins will take you on a whimsical one-hour journey across Arrakis with humour and song.” There will be a performance at the Worldcon.

A memoir in song by the Earl of Caladan, trusted adviser to the Padisha Emperor and beloved troubadour-warrior, the bard Gurney Halleck.

Following the success of his work on “A Child’s History of Muad’Dib” Gurney will perform hits from his back catalogue and introduce never-before-heard songs from his time among the Fremen.

Sing along with little Paul Atreides on his journey to Sietch Tabr; can he tame the worm, save the world and get the girl?

Forget everything you know about Arrakis and get ready for Dune! The Musical…

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Paul Weimer.]

Born April 20, 1939 Peter S. Beagle, 85. [By Paul Weimer.] It’s Rankin and Bass’ fault that I got into the work of Peter S. Beagle.  As a voracious young reader, I saw The Last Unicorn in the library and somehow, even given my small “c” catholic tastes in SFF, saw that it was somehow not going to be for me. So I didn’t pick it up. I passed it by.

Fast forward to the mid-1980’s. NYC’s Channel 11, an independent TV station, aka “New York’s movie station”, introduced me to a gigantic swelter of movies.  

One of them, by accident, was the 1982 animated version of The Last Unicorn. I remember not remembering at the time or realizing at the time that it was based on the Beagle novel, but after I was transported and transformed by the adaptation, I went and sought out the original novel.  As fine and charming as the movie is, the novel truly gave me a sense of the power and lyric nature of Beagle’s work.

I was hooked.

Peter S. Beagle

I came across my favorite Beagle, The Innkeeper’s Song, in the mid 90’s. I was in a strong fantasy vein at the time and was interested in a variety of narrative forms. The Innkeeper’s Song, with its multiple first-person narration, was a revelation in escaping the usual multiple third-person points of view that were the norm at the time. Even today, Innkeeper’s Song feels fresh and unique in its approach to narrative, point of view, and literary interest. Even before Gene Wolfe, I think Beagle’s fantasy was my first real immersion into what one might call literary fantasy.

But even more than literary talent or line by line skill, what Beagle’s work does to me, from the Last Unicorn to today, is make me feel. I think his shorter fiction is where the distillation of his skill, craft, mood and the ability to evoke emotion is at its best in the short form.  “Two Hearts”, a sequel to The Last Unicorn, is a particular favorite, because Griffins. His TNG written episode “Sarek” is one of the most moving pieces of Star Trek to this day. And yes, to this day, The Last Unicorn, the movie, brings tears to my eyes.

(9) COMICS SECTION.

(10) CLOSING WORDS. GiantFreakinRobot discusses “The Last Essay Ray Bradbury Wrote Before He Died”.

…At points, he describes how his librarian would get upset with him because he’d check out so many books when she didn’t think he’d read them all. But he did, he read every word he could get his hands on. As Bradbury explains, books “are the building blocks, the DNA, if you will, of you.”

Reading fed Ray Bradbury’s appetite for knowledge and his curiosity, which led to his understanding of writing and imagination. He expressed his love for books throughout his work, including, famously, in his 1953 novel Fahrenheit 451, which describes a future world where books and reading is against the law.

Having his last essay be about the art of reading in general is more than a little fitting for Ray Bradbury. It acts as something of a career summation, an explanation for why literature and the act of reading are just so very important for us as humans. There really is no better sendoff for the writer, an inspiration for all us.

(11) BLUEY. Chris Barkley assures me sff fans will want to know this news: “’Bluey’ Drops Surprise New Episode on Disney” at The Hollywood Reporter. I’m guessing Chris knows this show exists because he has kids in his life. When my daughter was young I knew about Blue’s Clues and Mister Rogers Neighborhood in detail. Now kids’ TV is an undiscovered country for me.

… The new episode comes a week after “The Sign,” a special, 28-minute installment of the beloved kids’ show debuted (most Bluey episodes run under 10 minutes). The special drew waves of critical praise for its emotional storyline centering on the Heeler family possibly selling their home and moving to another city where dad Bandit would take a new job, as well as a wedding between the Heelers’ Uncle Rad and Frisky.

Coupled with the preceding episode, “Ghostbasket,” the special spawned widespread speculation that Bluey was ending. While the long-term future of the show, originally commissioned by Australia’s ABC and the BBC in the U.K. hasn’t been decided — “the BBC has asked for me never to talk about the kids’ voices or the future of Bluey,” creator Joe Brumm told The Hollywood Reporter in 2023 — “Surprise” ensures that “The Sign” isn’t the last episode of the series.

Bluey has been a breakout hit for Disney+ in the United States. It’s the most streamed show in the country this year in terms of total viewing time, according to Nielsen’s streaming ratings, after ranking second in 2023 and sixth in 2022….

(12) LESSONS FROM THE UKRAINE. The New York Times asks “Do Tanks Have a Place in 21st-Century Warfare?”

… Despite their power, tanks are not impenetrable, and they are most vulnerable where their heavy plated armor is the thinnest: on the top, the rear engine block and the space between the hull and the turret. For years they were mainly targeted with land mines, improvised explosive devices, rocket-propelled grenades and anti-tank guided missiles, like “shoot and scoot” shoulder-fired systems. These were widely used early in the Ukraine war because they could strike tanks from above and hit them up to 90 percent of the time.

The drones that are now being used against tanks in Ukraine are even more accurate. Known as first-person view drones, or FPVs, they are equipped with a camera that streams real-time images back to their controller, who can direct them to hit tanks in their most vulnerable spots. In several cases, the FPVs have been sent in to “finish off” tanks that had already been damaged by mines or anti-tank missiles so that they could not be retrieved from the battlefield and repaired, Colonel Reisner said.

Depending on their size and technological sophistication, the drones can cost as little as $500 — a paltry investment for taking out a $10 million Abrams tank. And some of them can carry munitions to boost the impact of their blast, said Colonel Reisner. These could be rocket-propelled grenades, he said, or self-forging warheads known as explosively formed penetrators, or EFPs, that were widely used in roadside bombs during the war in Iraq. Colonel Reisner has collected videos of tanks in Ukraine being chased down by the drones or drones flying into their open turrets.

“Welcome to the 21st century — it’s unbelievable, actually,” said Colonel Reisner, a historian and former armor reconnaissance officer who oversees Austrian forces’ training at the Theresian Military Academy….

(13) MILITARY AI. “’Machines set loose to slaughter’: the dangerous rise of military AI” – a 2020 article from the Guardian.

The video is stark. Two menacing men stand next to a white van in a field, holding remote controls. They open the van’s back doors, and the whining sound of quadcopter drones crescendos. They flip a switch, and the drones swarm out like bats from a cave. In a few seconds, we cut to a college classroom. The killer robots flood in through windows and vents. The students scream in terror, trapped inside, as the drones attack with deadly force. The lesson that the film, Slaughterbots, is trying to impart is clear: tiny killer robots are either here or a small technological advance away. Terrorists could easily deploy them. And existing defences are weak or nonexistent.

Some military experts argued that Slaughterbots – which was made by the Future of Life Institute, an organisation researching existential threats to humanity – sensationalised a serious problem, stoking fear where calm reflection was required. But when it comes to the future of war, the line between science fiction and industrial fact is often blurry. The US air force has predicted a future in which “Swat teams will send mechanical insects equipped with video cameras to creep inside a building during a hostage standoff”. One “microsystems collaborative” has already released Octoroach, an “extremely small robot with a camera and radio transmitter that can cover up to 100 metres on the ground”. It is only one of many “biomimetic”, or nature-imitating, weapons that are on the horizon…

(14) NO SIRENS ON TITAN. “Dragonfly: NASA Just Confirmed The Most Exciting Space Mission Of Your Lifetime” enthuses Forbes.

NASA has confirmed that its exciting Dragonfly mission, which will fly a drone-like craft around Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, will cost $3.35 billion and launch in July 2028.

Titan is the only other world in the solar system other than Earth that has weather and liquid on its surface. It has an atmosphere, rain, lakes, oceans, shorelines, valleys, mountain ridges, mesas and dunes—and possibly the building blocks of life itself. It’s been described as both a utopia and as deranged because of its weird chemistry.

Set to reach Titan in 2034, the Dragonfly mission will last for two years once its lander arrives on the surface…

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Nearly 200,000 views and not even out for two days…. Matt O’Dowd over at PBS Space Time wonders “Why Is The World Rushing Back To The Moon?”

The Moon has been one of the most important theoretical stepping stones to our understanding of the universe. We’ve long understood that it could also be our literal stepping stone: humanity’s first destination beyond our atmosphere.

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

Pixel Scroll 4/11/24 One Scroll, Furnished In Early Pixelry

(1) IT PAYS TO BE A GENIUS OF COURSE. The Steampunk Explorer updates fans about the Girl Genius Kickstarter:

Call it mad science or just good storytelling, but Phil and Kaja Foglio are blazing through Kickstarter with their latest Girl Genius graphic novel. The campaign for An Entertainment In Londinium reached its US$50,000 funding goal within 24 hours and is now in six-figure territory. It launched on April 3.

Stretch goal rewards include the “Envelope of Madness” with bookplates, bookmarks, and other printed items. Backers will also get PDF downloads of Volumes 12 through 14. All Girl Genius titles are now available for 50 percent off from DriveThru Comics through May 5.

The campaign itself runs through May 1. See the Kickstarter page for more info.

(2) OCTOTHORPE. Episode 107 of the Octothorpe podcast unpacks“The Significance of the Acorn”.

At Eastercon we welcomed Stunt Liz, Nicholas Whyte, to the podcast for the first time, and he brought an excellent tartan rocket! We discuss Glasgow 2024’s April Fool’s Day joke, before moving onto the Hugo Award finalists, what we think of Telford, and chatting about a lot of British TV.

Transcript here.

John, Alison, and Nicholas Whyte stand in front of a projection of the Octothorpe podcast and behind a panel table. Each of them wears a convention badge, and Nicholas holds the Glasgow Landing Zone Rocket. Nicholas is looking at the camera, while John and Alison are not quite as good at this. The table they stand behind holds beers, coffees, convention newsletters, phone batteries, microphones, and table tents.
Octothorpe at Levitation. Photo by Sue Dawson.

(3) HUGE RESPONSE. “’Joker 2′ Trailer Hits 167 Million Views in First 24 Hours” reports Variety.

The trailer launch for “Joker: Folie à Deux” was no laughing matter for Warner Bros. The marketing for the studio’s upcoming DC sequel, headlined by Joaquin Phoenix and Lady Gaga, got off to a stellar start with 167 million viewers in its first 24 hours. The teaser trailer went online right after it debuted at Warner Bros.’s CinemaCon presentation in Las Vegas.

Sources tell Variety that the “Joker” sequel’s trailer numbers and social engagement surpassed that of the first “Barbie” trailer to become Warner Bros.’ biggest launch in recent years. The release was no doubt bolstered by Lady Gaga’s massive 150 million follower social media footprint. The trailer instantly became the #1 trending video on YouTube on premiere night and currently boasts 15.6 million views and counting on that platform alone, where it remains the #4 trending video nearly two days after its launch…

(4) ANOTHER DISNEY CASTING KERFUFFLE. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] OK, this has gotten out of hand. It seems like every time there’s a movie remake (especially a Disney remake) somebody has to find way to get all bent out of shape about casting. Much of the time, a racist way.

But this time they jumped the gun extra early. There’s a rumored casting of a live action remake for Disney’s Tangled. But, let’s be clear, there’s no further rumor of the remake itself, just the casting.

So now some people online are jumping all over the actress (Avantika Vandanapu) who happens to be Indian-American. Because reasons. Stupid, racist, reasons. 

As one online commentator said, the haters seriously “still need a hobby.” “Avantika Vandanapu receives backlash for rumored casting as Rapunzel in ‘Tangled’ remake” says Variety.

…Although Avantika’s rumored casting received criticism from some on social media, fans also showed support for the “Senior Year” actress.

“These comments are so awful. I’m so sorry girl you are perfect,” one Instagram user wrote, while another added, “She is my Rapunzel ❤”

“Never Have I Ever” star Maitreyi Ramakrishnan also appeared to weigh in on the online controversy, writing on X Tuesday, “And they finally woke up to realize it was all just rumors and the sources never existed. … And to the racists, y’all still need a hobby (for real)”…

(5) ELUSIVE BRADBURY COLLECTION. Episode 2 of Phil Nichols’ Bradbury 101, first aired in 2021, is devoted to a rare OP anthology.

DARK CARNIVAL is Ray Bradbury’s great “lost” book, one of his finest short story collections. But it’s out of print, and has been for decades! Find out why in this episode..

(6) TRINA ROBBINS (1938-2024). Trina Robbins, artist, writer and editor of comics, died April 10. The New York Times has a biographical tribute.

…In 1970, Ms. Robbins was one of the creators of It Ain’t Me Babe, the first comic book made exclusively by women. In 1985, she was the first woman to draw a full issue of Wonder Woman, and a full run on a Wonder Woman series, after four decades of male hegemony. And in 1994, she was a founder of Friends of Lulu, an advocacy group for female comic-book creators and readers….

…Ms. Robbins was responsible for the first publication of some notable cartoonists in The East Village Other, including Vaughn Bode and Justin Green, but she took particular pride in the women’s anthologies she edited and co-edited, and in their explicitly feminist content: It Ain’t Me Babe Comix, Wimmen’s Comix and the erotic Wet Satin.

She also designed the famously skimpy outfit for Vampirella, a female vampire who appeared in black-and-white comics beginning in 1969 — although her design was not as skimpy as the costume later became. “The costume I originally designed for Vampi was sexy, but not bordering on obscene,” Ms. Robbins told the Fanbase Press website in 2015. “I will not sign a contemporary Vampirella comic. I explain, that is not the costume I designed.”…

Prior to her career in comics, Robbins was a clothing designer and seller, and for awhile a pinup model. She was in contact with fandom in the Fifties and Sixties, and posed for the cover of an issue of Fanac, the fannish newzine, wearing a propellor beanie and with her feminine attributes strategically covered by a copy of Fancyclopedia.

Harlan Ellison and Trina Robbins at the 1955 Midwestcon.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born April 11, 1920 Peter O’Donnell. (Died 2010.) London-born Peter O’Donnell was the creator of the Modesty Blaise comic strip along with illustrator Jim Holdaway sixty-one years ago. She has no past as she doesn’t remember anything about her life before escaping from a displaced persons camp in Greece after WW II at the age of fifteen. She runs a criminal gang called The Network, and takes her last name from Merlin’s tutor. Her sidekick, of course she has one, is Willie Garvin, to give a bit of friendship in her life.

Peter O’Donnell from the rear dustjacket flap of the Archival Press edition of The Silver Mistress. Photo by Robert K. Wiener.

O’Donnell and Holdaway met when they worked together on a strip about Romeo Brown, a dashing private detective and reluctant ladies’ man, that ran in the tabloid Evening Standard for most of the Fifties. Blaise, too, would run here. It was quickly picked up globally running in the US, Australian, Indian, South African, Malaysian and other papers as she had a great appeal.

After Holdaway’s death in 1970, the art was by Spanish artist Enrique Romero. He would leave eight years later with three artists replacing him until he came back until the end of the strip with it still running in the Evening Standard thirty-eight years after it debuted. 

Yes, it became a film which came just three years into the running of the strip. My did it piss O’Donnell off. Why so? Because he was hired to write the script which they then shitcanned and wrote a new one that had almost nothing to do with characters, the storyline or, well, anything else with the strip. Remember that friendship between her and Willie? Here it becomes full blown romance. And that’s just one of many, many changes. 

A later film, Modesty Blaise, would be done as a pilot for a series that never happened and yet another film, My Name is Modesty Blaise, would be done for yet another series that never happened.  The one had O’Donnell as a consultant and he liked it.

My Name is Modesty Blaise would be the only one with a British actress as the first had an Italian actress. Now Modesty wasn’t necessarily British as O’Donnell repeatedly said her nationality was deliberately not revealed. 

I’ve not touched upon the plethora of books, short stories, graphic novels and original audiobooks that came of these characters in the part sixty years, and I’ll skip detailing them here. 

So there you are. I did enjoy the strip when Titan, one of many who did, collected them in trade editions. I think there’s at least fifty trade paper editions available right now on Amazon. 

(8) COMICS SECTION.

(9) BE KIND TO YOUR WEB-FOOTED FRIENDS. This July, Marvel and Disney honor the 90th anniversary of Donald Duck and the 50th anniversary of Wolverine with an unexpected mashup adventure—Marvel & Disney: What If…? Donald Duck Became Wolverine #1.

Crafted by two acclaimed Disney comic creators, writer Luca Barbieri and artist Giada Perissinotto, MARVEL & DISNEY: WHAT IF…? DONALD BECAME WOLVERINE #1 is the latest comic book collaboration between Marvel and Disney following the What If…? Disney Variant Covers of the last few years and the highly anticipated Uncle Scrooge and the Infinity Dime #1 one-shot comic out this June. Fans can look forward to even more exciting crossovers between Marvel heroes and Disney icons throughout this year and next! 

The comic will introduce Donald-Wolverine along with all sorts of reimagined Disney and Marvel mashups in a wild adventure inspired by one of Wolverine’s most memorable story arcs, Old Man Logan. In addition, the saga will revisit some of the greatest moments in Donald-Wolverine’s history including his time spent with Weapon X and the Uncanny X-Men!  

Travel to the near future where chaos rules as Pete-Skull transforms Duckburg into a super-hero-less wasteland. Only Old Donald Duck can turn the tide, but he’s given up his battling days and prefers naps and his grandma’s apple pie over fighting villains. But when Mickey-Hawkeye comes knocking at the door with Goofy-Hulk at his side, Wolverine-Donald has to make a choice! Will a trip down memory lane change his mind to save the world? Or will the lure of the backyard hammock and a long nap keep him from popping his claws one last time?

(10) FOLLOWING GODZILLA’S ACT. Variety learns, “‘Monarch: Legacy of Monsters’ Renewed, Multiple Spinoffs Set at Apple”.

Monarch: Legacy of Monsters” has been renewed for Season 2 at Apple TV+Variety has learned.

In addition, Apple has struck a deal with Legendary Entertainment to develop multiple spinoff series set in the so-called Monsterverse….

…The official description for Season 1 states: “Following the thunderous battle between Godzilla and the Titans that leveled San Francisco and the shocking revelation that monsters are real, ‘Monarch: Legacy of Monsters’ tracks two siblings (Sawai, Watabe) following in their father’s footsteps to uncover their family’s connection to the secretive organization known as Monarch. Clues lead them into the world of monsters and ultimately down the rabbit hole to Army officer Lee Shaw (Kurt Russell, Wyatt Russell), taking place in the 1950s and half a century later where Monarch is threatened by what Shaw knows.”…

(11) SO WE’LL WALK UP THE AVENUE. “They Made a Movie About a Pack of Sasquatches. Why?” The New York Times asks the filmmakers.

…An earthquake and an eclipse weren’t the only natural rarities that happened in New York City this past week. Did you hear about the sasquatch in Central Park? The makers of “Sasquatch Sunset” sure hope you did.

That’s because the sasquatch was a costume and his stroll through the park was a publicity push for the new film from the brothers David and Nathan Zellner. Opening in New York on Friday, the movie spends a year in the wild with a sasquatch pack — a male and female (Nathan Zellner and Riley Keough) and two younger sasquatches (Jesse Eisenberg and Christophe Zajac-Denek) — as they eat, have sex, fight predators and reckon with death.

Droll but big-hearted, the movie sits at the intersection of the ad campaign for Jack Link’s beef jerky, the 1987 comedy “Harry and the Hendersons” and a 1970s nature documentary, down to the hippie-vibe soundtrack.

Is it a family-friendly movie?

KEOUGH It depends on the family. [Laughs] I think the audience is everybody. It might be scary for small children.

DAVID ZELLNER It’s rated R for nudity, which is the funniest thing.

(12) CATS AND DOGS LIVING TOGETHER. Meanwhile, Camestros Felapton has fled the country, leaving behind to distract pursuers “McEdifice in: MYCOPHAGE! Part 1”.

Cliff “Edge” McEdifice is MYCOPHAGE the intoxicating new thriller from Timothy the Talking Cat, Straw Puppy and the ghost of Michael Crichton.

It is the Year 1995 and Cliff “Edge” McEdifice (ancestor of future soldier Chiselled McEdifice) is entangled in a web of conspiracy, tendrils and webs.

(13) NEXT TREK. “Star Trek Origin Movie Officially Announced By Paramount For 2025 Release” at ScreenRant.

Paramount Pictures officially announces the next Star Trek movie, which is scheduled to arrive in theaters in 2025. As reported in January, the next Star Trek movie isn’t the long-delayed, Chris Pine-led Star Trek 4 produced by J.J. Abrams, which remains in development at Paramount. Rather, the next Star Trek movie is an origin story directed by Toby Haynes (Star Wars: Andor) and written by Seth Grahame-Smith (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter).

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

Pixel Scroll 2/28/24 Two Scrolls Diverged In A File, And I — I Took The One Less Pixeled By

(1) WONKA EVENT SCAM, WITH AI ‘HELP’. [Item by Tom Becker.] A Willy Wonka-themed event closed immediately upon opening due to complaints from disappointed customers. UK correspondent Mark Plummer says there is a long-standing tradition of disappointing special experiences. A Christmas show turns out to be a muddy field with a donkey with reindeer horns tied to its head.

The Glasgow Willy Wonka fiasco is interesting because of its use of AI. The AI-generated images used to sell the show include total gibberish. Who would not want to experience a “Twilight Tunnel™” with features like “TWDRDING”, “DODJECTION”, “ENIGEMIC SOUNDS”, “SVIIDE”, and “UKXEPCTED TWITS”? Or “ENCHERINING ENTERTAINMENT” with “exarserdray lollipops, a pasadise of sweet treats”? “Cops called after parents get tricked by AI-generated images of Wonka-like event” at Ars Technica.

Actors were given AI generated scripts that were pathetically bad. They showed the guests responding “with a mix of excitement and trepidation” to the trite lines and meager offerings of candy. “The AI-Generated Script From the Fake Willy Wonka Experience Is Beyond Wild” says The Mary Sue.

And then there was the AI generated character of the Unknown, “an evil chocolate maker who lives in the walls.” At this point the children started crying and ran away. “Willy Wonka Experience Actor Says Event Had AI-Generated Script, Unknown Character, and No Chocolate” reports IGN.

The promoter behind the House of Illuminati also sells AI-generated books on Amazon. “’Willy Wonka’ Huckster Sells AI-Written Vaccine Conspiracy Books” at Rolling Stone.

Scams have always been with us, but now they are glitzier and weirder than ever. Who could possibly have predicted this? (Besides Cory Doctorow and thousands of others.)

(2) VERTLIEB NOMINATED FOR RONDO “BEST ARTICLE OF THE YEAR”. Congratulations to Steve Vertlieb whose File 770 article “Subversion of Innocence: Reflections on ‘The Black Cat’” is a finalist for the 2024 Rondo Hatton Awards. Steve’s article is an analysis of the sumptuous, Grand Guignol, pre-code Gothic decadence of Universal Pictures’ horrific Boris Karloff/Bela Lugosi classic of 1934.

Public voting has begun for the 22nd Annual Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Awards. You’re invited to vote for your favorites in any or all 28 categories. Click the link for instructions and the complete ballot. The deadline to participate is midnight April 16. Mail Votes (and your name) to David Colton c/o [email protected].

(3) WORMSIGN. Io9 interviews the filmmaker: “Denis Villeneuve Talks Making Dune: Part Two an Epic Theatrical Experience” at Gizmodo.

io9: Got it. I love that both movies have this weird little moment before the studio logo of some kind of Dune language statement. Is that something you have to okay with the studio? Because ultimately it’s their movie and you’re putting your mark before their logo. Was there any pushback and what was your thinking in doing that?

Villeneuve: The first time in Part One, the truth is that as we were doing sound design and developing ideas for sound, we came up with this language that was developed by Hans Zimmer that I absolutely adored. And there was this idea of putting a statement right before the logo to own the space. And maybe it was a reaction at that time, an arrogant reaction by me, but I didn’t get any pushback. Everybody loved the idea. And I love it when you watch a movie and it’s not a slow-down descent, it’s an abrupt start. You put away the parking lot and your concern about dinner. [Slap noise] Right away, it’s like, “Okay, guys, listen.” A bit like in theater when you have the boom at the beginning to say to the audience, “Okay, quiet down, we start right now.” I love that.

(4) CONLANG IN CINEMA. And The New Yorker devotes a whole article to “’Dune’ and the Delicate Art of Making Fictional Languages”.

A trailer for Denis Villeneuve’s “Dune: Part Two” features the boy prophet Paul Atreides, played by Timothée Chalamet, yelling something foreign and uninterpretable to a horde of desert people. We see Chalamet as the embodiment of charismatic fury: every facial muscle clenched in tension, his voice strained and throaty and commanding. A line at the bottom of the screen translates: “Long live the fighters!”

The scene fills barely a few seconds in a three-minute trailer, yet it establishes the emotional tone of the film and captures the messianic fervor that drives its plot. It also signals the depth of Villeneuve’s world-building. Part of what made his first excursion into the “Dune” universe such an experiential feast was its vivid, immersive quality, combining monumental architectural design with atmospheric soundscapes and ethereal costuming. We could see a few remnants of our world (remember the bit with the bagpipes?), but the over-all effect was transportive, as if the camera were not a piece of equipment but a cyborgian eye live-streaming from a far-flung alien civilization. Chalamet’s strange tongue is part of the franchise’s meticulous set dressing. It’s not gibberish, but part of an intricate linguistic system that was devised for Villeneuve’s adaptations.

Engineered languages such as the one Chalamet speaks represent a new benchmark in imaginative fiction. Twenty years ago, viewers would have struggled to name franchises other than “Star Trek” or “The Lord of the Rings” that bothered to invent new languages. Today, with the budgets of the biggest films and series rivalling the G.D.P.s of small island nations, constructed languages, or conlangs, are becoming a norm, if not an implicit requirement. Breeze through entertainment from the past decade or so, and you’ll find lingos designed for Paleolithic peoples (“Alpha”), spell-casting witches (“Penny Dreadful”), post-apocalyptic survivors (“Into the Badlands”), Superman’s home planet of Krypton (“Man of Steel”), a cross-species alien alliance (“Halo”), time-travelling preteens (“Paper Girls”), the Munja’kin tribe of Oz (“Emerald City”), and Santa Claus and his elves (“The Christmas Chronicles” and its sequel).

A well-executed conlang can bolster a film’s appearance of authenticity. It can deepen the scenic absorption that has long been an obsession for creators and fans of speculative genres such as science fiction and fantasy….

(5) MORE TBR. NPR’s “Here and Now” program recommends “Black genre fiction to pick up this History Month”. There are lists for romance, horror, thriller/mystery and —

Speculative fiction/science fiction/fantasy

(6) EXPERT EYE. In Gabino Iglesias’ column “4 New Horror Novels That Are as Fresh as They Are Terrifying” for the New York Times, the Stoker-winning author reviews new books by Emily Ruth Verona, Jenny Kiefer, Christopher Golden and Tlotlo Tsamaase.

(7) ANIME ART GOING UNDER THE HAMMER. Heritage Auctions will run “The Art of Anime, Dragon Ball, and More Animation Art Showcase Auction” on March 23-24.

Heritage Auctions celebrates the world of anime with its largest showcase sale, “The Art of Anime, Dragon Ball, and More,” on March 23-24. This event features over 700 lots, including an extensive collection from the iconic Dragon Ball series, celebrating its decades-long journey from its inception in Weekly Shonen Jump. The auction spans a wide range of anime titles, offering production art, promotional materials, model kits, and action figures. Highlights include rare items from Dragon Ball, Sailor Moon, Pokémon, Neon Genesis Evangelion, and more, alongside unique finds like Akira T-shirt prototypes. This showcase aims to reconnect fans with the unforgettable moments of their favorite anime series.

Here’s an example of what’s up for bid: “Dragon Ball Z Goku, Gohan, Master Roshi, Piccolo, and Cel Ice | Lot #85069”.

Some of Dragon Ball Z‘s most famous characters take a break from training and put on their ice skates in this incredibly rare hand-painted production cel featuring our beloved protagonist Goku, accompanied by his son Gohan, Piccolo, Master Roshi, and even the heinous Cell in his imperfect form! Possibly created for a TV commercial, this four-layer 12-field production cel offers sensational full-figure images of the characters with Gohan and Cell stopping as skillfully as they fight. 

(8) “HOMAGE” TO WARD SHELLEY’S HISTORY OF SCIENCE FICTION ON DISPLAY IN THE CHENGDU SF MUSEUM. [Item by Ersatz Culture.] The SF Museum in Chengdu has been re-opened to the public for almost exactly a month now, and whilst I’ve been trawling the likes of Bilibili and Xiaohongshu for any coverage, there hasn’t been much I thought that I thought was worth writing up and submitting to File 770.

However, tonight I encountered the image below in a small XHS gallery.  I’d not noticed it before; whether that’s because it has been newly added to the museum, or simply that previous posters didn’t consider it worth taking pictures of, I don’t know.  I’ve not tried to read any of the Chinese text, but the English subtitle reads:

Together, let’s write imaginative explorations of the future science fiction world

which I assume relates to the Post-It notes shown on the left of the image.

Readers may well find this image vaguely familiar.  For those who don’t, it bears a startling resemblance to Ward Shelley’s “The History of Science Fiction”.

Source: Andrew Liptak / The Verge

That earlier image was included in a talk that was part of “[the] First Industrial Development Summit of [the] World Science Fiction Convention”, which also had Ben Yalow as a speaker. Whether that earlier presentation was the genesis for this new display, who knows?

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born February 28, 1909 Olan Soule. (Died 1994.) Olan Soule, an actor who had at least two hundred and fifty performances in his career. So let’s look at this career that I find so interesting. 

First genre role? That’d be Mr. Krull, a boarding house resident in The Day The Earth Stood Still.

Remember Captain Midnight? From the third year on the radio serial, Soule had the role of L. William Kelly, SS-11, the second-in-command of the Secret Squadron. When it became a television series where it was rebranded Jet Jackson, Flying Commando, he was scientist Aristotle “Tut” Jones for the entire series. He was the only actor who performed on both the radio and television shows.

Olan Soule on Alfred Hitchcock Presents.

He was in two Twilight Zone episodes, the first as IRS agent in “The Man in Bottle” and then as Mr. Smiles in “Caesar and Me”. The letter was the one with that evil ventriloquist dummy. Brrrr. The former which involves a couple and a genie I just don’t remember. 

He was on My Favorite Martian as Daniel Farrow in one of my favorite episodes, “Martin’s Favorite Martian”. 

He would appear as a newscaster on Batman in “The Pharaoh’s in a Rut”.

Olan Soule as newscaster on Batman.

He voiced Mister Taj in the English language version of Fantastic Planet. One seriously effing weird film. 

And now for a roll call of his other genre appearances: One Step BeyondBewitchedThe Addams FamilyThe MunstersMission: ImpossibleThe Six Million Dollar ManBuck Rogers in the 25th Century and Fantasy Island.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • F Minus – could this be Pluto’s revenge?

(11) REALLY EDUCATIONAL COMICS. “A Boom in Comics Drawn From Fact” – the New York Times says “One in four books sold in France is a graphic novel. Increasingly, those include nonfiction works by journalists and historians.”

Soon after the journalist and historian Valérie Igounet heard about the killing of Samuel Paty, the schoolteacher whose 2020 murder by an Islamist extremist shocked France, she knew she wanted to write a book about him.

Paty, who had shown caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad to students during a class on freedom of expression, was murdered near the middle school where he taught in a Paris suburb. “I absolutely wanted Samuel Paty’s students to be able to read this book,” Igounet said, “and it was obvious that a 300-page book with footnotes would be reserved for a different kind of readership.”

Instead, Igounet decided to produce a comic book: “Black Pencil: Samuel Paty, the Story of a Teacher,” based on two years of reporting and made with the illustrator Guy Le Besnerais, was published in October. It meticulously reconstructs the events leading up to the murder while also showing Paty’s daily life in the classroom. Le Besnerais’s illustrations are accompanied by Paty’s handwritten notes, newspaper clippings and messages exchanged by his students in the weeks before he was killed.

One in four books sold in France is a comic book, according to the market research company GfK, and a growing number of those are nonfiction works by journalists and historians. In the past year, they have included titles such as “M.B.S.: Saudi Arabia’s Enfant Terrible,” a biography of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman by Antoine Vitkine and Christophe Girard; “What Are the Russians Thinking?” based on the cartoonist Nicolas Wild’s conversations about the war in Ukraine during a 2022 trip to Russia; and “Who Profits From Exile?,” by Taina Tervonen and Jeff Pourquié, which looks at the economics of European immigration….

(12) FANAC FAN HISTORY ZOOM IN MARCH. “The Women Fen Don’t See” is the last FANAC Fan History Zoom for this season. The March 16 event promises to be an exceptionally interesting program on a topic that is often overlooked in fannish annals.

The Women Fen Don’t See

With: Claire Brialey, Kate Heffner, and Leah Zeldes Smith

Saturday, March 16, 2024. Time: 3PM EDT, 2PM CDT, Noon PDT, 7PM London (GMT), and Mar 17 at 6AM AEDT in Melbourne. To attend, send a note to [email protected]

[Click for larger image.]

(13) NEUROMANCER TO TV. “Apple Orders ‘Neuromancer’ Series Based on William Gibson Novel” reports Variety.

Apple TV+ has ordered a series adaptation of the William Gibson novel “Neuromancer,” Variety has learned.

The 10-episode series hails from co-creators Graham Roland and JD Dillard. Roland will also serve as showrunner, while Dillard will direct the pilot. Skydance Television will co-produce with Anonymous Content.

Per the official logline, the series “will follow a damaged, top-rung super-hacker named Case who is thrust into a web of digital espionage and high stakes crime with his partner Molly, a razor-girl assassin with mirrored eyes, aiming to pull a heist on a corporate dynasty with untold secrets.”…

(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. From The Simpsons several years ago, “What about Ray Bradbury?”

Martin is running for class president, and this is his platform.

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

Pixel Scroll 2/24/24 To Yeet Or Not To Yeet?

(1) HE FALL DOWN BUT NOT GO BOOM. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Job #1 — Stick the landing. Oops. “Odysseus: Moon lander tipped over at touchdown, limiting the data it’s sending”.– AP News has the story. (Captain Kirk was not available for comment.)

A private U.S. lunar lander tipped over at touchdown and ended up on its side near the moon’s south pole, hampering communications, company officials said Friday.

Intuitive Machines initially believed its six-footed lander, Odysseus, was upright after Thursday’s touchdown. But CEO Steve Altemus said Friday the craft “caught a foot in the surface,” falling onto its side and, quite possibly, leaning against a rock. He said it was coming in too fast and may have snapped a leg.

“So far, we have quite a bit of operational capability even though we’re tipped over,” he told reporters.

But some antennas were pointed toward the surface, limiting flight controllers’ ability to get data down, Altemus said. The antennas were stationed high on the 14-foot (4.3-meter) lander to facilitate communications at the hilly, cratered and shadowed south polar region….

(2) FAMOUS LA MOVIE THEATER NOW HAS FAMOUS OWNERS. The New York Times learns “Star Directors Buy Los Angeles Cinema With Plan for ‘Coolest AV Club’”.

With the moviegoing experience under threat from streaming services and ever-improving home entertainment options, a group with a passionate interest in its preservation — three dozen filmmakers who create their works for the big screen, to be enjoyed in the company of large audiences — has decided to do something about it.

The group of directors, led by Jason Reitman — whose films include “Juno,” “Up in the Air” and “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” — announced Wednesday that it had bought the Village Theater in the Westwood neighborhood of Los Angeles, which was put up for sale last summer to the concern of film buffs. The group, which also includes Christopher Nolan, Steven Spielberg, Lulu Wang and Alfonso Cuarón, among others, plans to restore the 93-year-old movie palace, which features one of the largest screens in Los Angeles.

“I think every director dreams of owning a movie theater,” Reitman said in an interview. “And in this case, I saw an opportunity to not only save one of the greatest movie palaces in the world, but also assembled some of my favorite directors to join in on the coolest AV club of all time.”

The announcement of the directors group buying the Village Theater, which has long been a favorite venue for premieres, follows on the heels of Quentin Tarantino’s recent purchase of the Vista Theater in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Los Feliz….

(3) TO MESSIAH OR NOT TO MESSIAH, THAT IS THE QUESTION. [By Mike Kennedy.] David Fear, writing for Rolling Stone, seems absolutely agog over Dune: Part Two. And eager for Part Three.

His review is chock full of spoilers if you don’t know the plot already (but I suspect most of you do). It’s easily arguable, though, that there are some spoilers for elements of the movie itself. So, read the review at your own risk. “‘Dune: Part Two’ Is Bigger, Bolder — and Yes, Even Better — Than Part One”. Here’s a non-spoilery excerpt:

… For some, these names may ring bells way, way back in your memory banks; mention that they’re characters played by Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya, Oscar Isaac, and a who’s-who of equally recognizable actors, and you’ll see the lights go on in their eyes. For others, the heroes and villains, mentors and monsters that populate Frank Herbert’s 1965 cult novel are old friends, their exploits etched into readers’ brains like gospel. One of the great things about Dune, Denis Villeneuve’s 2021 partial adaptation of that original book, was that you could take in its story and swoon over its imagery regardless of where you fell on the scale. It’s a classic hero’s-journey tale of — to paraphrase author/film professor Howard Suber — a kid rescued from his fate and put on the path toward his destiny. And it was the sort of faithful yet bold, properly bonkers realization of the novel for the screen that fans had been dying to see, the perfect melding of artist and material….

(4) CHINESE FAN ANALYZES SOME OF THE CHINESE WORKS ON THE NOMINATION REPORT. An English language blog post by Chinese fan Prograft follows on from the Heather Rose-Jones/Camestros Felapton report, covering the Chinese works that appeared in the prose fiction categories, excluding those in the SF World recommendation list. “More on Other Chinese Hugo Nominations, based on ‘Charting the Cliff’”.

They suggest that perhaps some of the Chinese works that appeared in the “Validation” report for Best Series, but not in the nomination statistics, may not have been eligible according to the Best Series rules. This, of course, would not explain why those works disappeared between the “Validation” spreadsheet and the actual nomination statistics report.

Prograft’s article also links to (Chinese language) Weibo posts from early March 2023, which discuss why there had not been much by way of self-promotion by Chinese authors at that point in time. (The SF World list did not appear until April; another from 8 Light Minutes was published on March 27.)

(5) MEANWHILE, BACK AT 2014. Camestros Felapton says, “Larry is cross that I’m not writing about him”.

… From time to time key Puppy figures would dally with the idea that the way the Hugo vote was administered was rigged against them, particularly when they lost, but the repeated substance of their complaint was that the MEMBERSHIP was rigged against them, i.e. it was cliques of voters and publisher buying memberships for the vast number of employees that they imagined publishers have.

So no, Larry didn’t “warn us” nor has the 2023 Hugo scandal validated the core of his complaints about the Hugo Awards.

(6) CLIFF NOTES. Noreascon II in 1980 was the first Worldcon required by the WSFS Constitution to report the Hugo voting statistics (though not the first to disclose some of them). Kevin Standlee, with the help of The Hugo Award Book Club, discovered File 770 issue 24 published partial 1980 Hugo Award final voting and nominating statistics. He’s uploaded a copy to the Hugo Awards website and added a link to the 1980 Hugo Awards page. This quote about the margin for error caught my eye:

Note on counting procedure. After initial validation of the ballots, the data were keypunched by a commercial firm, (Only in the Gandalf [Award] vote was every ballot proofread against the printout; but nearly all keypunching errors were flagged by the computer, and in any other category the residual errors should be less than about 5 cards.) The votes were then counted by computer, using a counting program written by Dave Anderson.

There were 1788 valid final ballots cast that year. The reason for proofing the Gandalf votes is that it was the only category which ran close enough for a potential five-vote error to change the winner. Ray Bradbury ended up outpolling Anne McCaffrey 747-746.

(7) STAR TREK: DISCOVERY SEASON 5. Paramount+ dropped a trailer for Star Trek: Discovery Season 5.

(8) NOW WE KNOW WHO WROTE THE BOOK OF LOVE. Amal El-Mohtar reviews Kelly Link’s The Book of Love in the New York Times: “Kelly Link Returns with a Dreamlike, Profoundly Beautiful Novel”.

A certain weight of expectation accrues on writers of short fiction who haven’t produced a novel, as if the short story were merely the larval stage of longer work. No matter how celebrated the author and her stories, how garlanded with prizes and grants, the sense persists: She will eventually graduate from the short form to the long. After an adolescence spent munching milkweed in increments of 10,000 words or less, she will come to her senses and build the chrysalis required for a novel to emerge, winged and tender, from within.

Now Kelly Link — an editor and publisher, a recipient of a MacArthur “genius grant” and the author of five story collections, one of which was a Pulitzer Prize finalist — has produced a novel. Seven years in the making, “The Book of Love” — long, but never boring — enacts a transformation of a different kind: It is our world that must expand to accommodate it, we who must evolve our understanding of what a fantasy novel can be.

Reviewing “The Book of Love” feels like trying to describe a dream. It’s profoundly beautiful, provokes intense emotion, offers up what feel like rooted, incontrovertible truths — but as soon as one tries to repeat them, all that’s left are shapes and textures, the faint outlines of shifting terrain….

(9) RETURN TO NEW WORLDS. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] SF² Concatenation has an advance post up ahead of next season’s edition. An October 1955 edition of New Worlds provides an excuse to explore that magazine’s history and some of the SF professionals of that era.

You never know what is around the corner. There I was, at my local SF group, quietly enjoying a pint, when a friend brings in a copy of New Worlds magazine, issue no. 40 dating from October 1955 and this opened a window into Britain’s SF scene of that time. Let me share…

Click here for the full New Worlds magazine revisited” article.

(10) CHRISTOPHER NOLAN AND KIM STANLEY ROBINSON CONSIDERED. Imaginary Papers Issue 17 is out. The quarterly email newsletter from the Center for Science and the Imagination at Arizona State University covers science fiction worldbuilding, futures thinking, and the imagination.

In this issue, Erin K. Wagner writes about the interplay between art and science in Christopher Nolan’s films, especially Oppenheimer and Interstellar; Joe Tankersley celebrates the “subtle utopia” of Kim Stanley Robinson’s 1990 novel Pacific Edge; and we discuss the Necessary Tomorrows podcast, which pairs original science fiction stories with nonfiction analysis of sociotechnical issues.

Subscriptions are free.

(11) RAMONA FRADON (1926-2024). “Comic Book Creator Ramona Fradon Has Died, Aged 97” reports Bleeding Cool. She only just retired in January!

Comic book creator Ramona Fradon has died at the age of 97. Her agent, Catskill Comics, posted the news earlier today. “It comes with great sadness to announce that Ramona Fradon has passed away just a few moments ago. Ramona was 97 and had a long career in the comic book industry, and was still drawing just a few days ago. She was a remarkable person in so many ways. I will miss all the great conversations and laughs we had. I am blessed that I was able to work with her on a professional level, but also able to call her my friend. If anyone wishes to send a card to the family, Please feel free to send them to Catskill Comics, and I’ll be happy to pass them along. You can send cards to Catskill Comics “Fradon Family”, Po Box 264, Glasco, NY 12432″

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born February 24, 1957 Edward James Olmos, 67. Where I first experienced the acting of Edward James Olmos was as Detective Gaff in Blade Runner, a role I see he reprised in Blade Runner 2049.

Edward James Olmos

No, I’ve not seen the latter film, nor do I have any intention in doing so as I consider Blade Runner one of the finest SF films ever done and nothing will sully that for me. We gave it a Hugo at ConStellation, so there later films!

It wasn’t his first genre film as that was the Japanese post-apocalyptic science fiction film Virus (1980), but his first important role came in Wolfen (1981), a fascinating horror film about, possibly, the idea that werewolves are real, or maybe not, in which he was Eddie Holt who claims to a shapeshifter. 

He has an almost cameo appearance in Even Cowgirls Get the Blues as a musician at the barbecue.

It was supposed to have a theatrical release but that was not to be, so Ray Bradbury’s The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit was released directly to video. In it Olmas was Vámonos. I’ve not seen it. It sounds, well, intriguing. Who’s seen it? 

Edward James Olmos in The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit

He’s in the debacle that was The Green Hornet in one of the primary roles as Mike Axford, the managing editor of The Daily Sentinel

As you most likely know, he was William Adama on the rebooted Battestar Galactica. At seventy-three episodes, it didn’t even come close to his run on Miami Vice as Lt. Martin Castillo which was one hundred and six episodes. Now there was an interesting character! 

Olmos as Adama in Battlestar Galactica

I’ll end this Birthday note by note noting he had a recurring role on Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. as Robert Gonzales.

(13) COMICS SECTION.

(14) SHRINKAGES AND DISAPPEARANCES. [Item by Kathy Sullivan.] Paper newspapers have been dropping comic strips. But the latest cuts are those by women creators. The Daily Cartoonist explains why “The Real Gannett Conspiracy = Chauvinism”.

In one of my answers in the comments section of The Great Gannett Comics Conspiracy I sarcastically said, “It’s like saying Gannett dropped Between Friends because they are misogynistic.”

Further analysis suggests that may not be far from right….

(15) MARVEL MUST-HAVES. Announced at ComicsPRO the Comic Industry Conference, Marvel Comics’ MARVEL MUST-HAVES! These FREE issues collect multiple iconic issues that spotlight the Marvel characters and comic book series currently at the forefront of pop culture. These stories have been handpicked to get fans in-tune with current Marvel adventures, and act as perfect jumping on points for new readers too. That’s more than 80 pages of comic book adventures for free, available at comic shops next month. [Based on a press release.]

 SPIDER-MAN/DEADPOOL #1 (2016)

It’s action, adventure and just a smattering of romance in this epic teaming up the Webbed Wonder and the Merc with a Mouth! Talk about a REAL dynamic duo! Brought to you by two Marvel superstars—Joe Kelly and Ed McGuinness—it’s a perfect tale for those looking forward to the Deadpool’s return to the big screen. 

Dive into the full story in SPIDER-MAN/DEADPOOL MODERN ERA EPIC COLLECTION: ISN’T IT BROMANTIC? TPB (9781302951641)

 IMMORTAL THOR #2 (2023)

An Elder God of the Utgard-Realm had marked Thor for destruction – and a city with him. Yet the only power that could prevail carried its own terrible price. This is the story of THE IMMORTAL THOR…and the hour of his greatest trial. Following his masterful work on Immortal Hulk, Al Ewing is breaking mythology yet again in this acclaimed new run of the God of Thunder. Featuring breathtaking artwork by superstar Martin Coccolo.

Dive into the full story in IMMORTAL THOR VOL. 1: ALL WEATHER TURNS TO STORM TPB (9781302954185)

 MS. MARVEL: THE NEW MUTANT #1 (2023)

Resurrected back into this world of hate and fear, Kamala Khan has a secret mission to pull off for the X-Men, all the while struggling to acclimate to this new part of her identity! Co-written by the MCU’s own Kamala, Iman Vellani, and Sabir Pirzada of both Dark Web: Ms. Marvel and her Disney+ series! Don’t miss this exciting evolution for one of Marvel’s brightest young heroes!

Dive into the full story in MS. MARVEL: THE NEW MUTANT VOL. 1 TPB (9781302954901)

(16) THE SINCEREST FORM OF FLATTERY? Or just a ripoff. Behind a paywall at The Sunday Times: “BBC accused of plagiarising new series from Spanish drama”. Brief excerpt:

The Ministry of Time bears a striking resemblance in title and plot to El Ministerio del Tiempo

The BBC will be asked for “explanations” from the Spanish state broadcaster after allegations of plagiarism over a new British television series.

The commissioning of the BBC’s The Ministry of Time was announced this week, described as an “epic sci-fi, romance and thriller” that is “utterly unique”.

Based on an as yet unpublished debut novel by Kaliane Bradley, it is about a newly established government department, the Ministry of Time, which gathers “expats” from across history to experiment how viable time travel would actually be.

The striking resemblance, however, in title and plot to the Spanish series El Ministerio del Tiempo — The Ministry of Time — created by Javier and Pablo Olivares and broadcast by RTVE between 2015 and 2020, has prompted allegations of plagiarism.

The allegations have been made by Javier Olivares, who said that the BBC “had not changed a hair” of his creation, and also by scores of social media users….

(17) FLORIDA LEGISLATION WOULD RESTRICT SOME TEEN ACCESS. “Florida Passes Sweeping Bill to Keep Young People Off Social Media” – details in the New York Times.

New Florida rules would require social networks to prevent young people under 16 from signing up for accounts — and terminate accounts belonging to underage users.

…Florida’s Legislature has passed a sweeping social media bill that would make the state the first to effectively bar young people under 16 from holding accounts on platforms like TikTok and Instagram.

The measure — which Gov. Ron DeSantis said he would “be wrestling with” over the weekend and has not yet signed — could potentially upend the lives of millions of young people in Florida.

It would also probably face constitutional challenges. Federal courts have blocked less-restrictive youth social media laws enacted last year by Arkansas and Ohio. Judges in those cases said the new statutes most likely impinged on social media companies’ free speech rights to distribute information as well as young people’s rights to have access to it.

The new rules in Florida, passed on Thursday, would require social networks to both prevent people under 16 from signing up for accounts and terminate accounts that a platform knew or believed belonged to underage users. It would apply to apps and sites with certain features, most likely including Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok and YouTube.

Last year, Utah, Arkansas, Texas and Ohio enacted laws that would require social media platforms to get permission from a parent before giving an account to a minor under 18 or under 16.

Florida’s effort would go much further, amounting to a comprehensive ban for young people on some of the most popular social media apps. It would also bar the platforms from showing harmful material to minors, including “patently offensive” sexual conduct….

(18) UP ALL KNIGHT. From The Hollywood Reporter: “‘Game of Thrones’ Spinoff ‘The Hedge Knight’ Gets 2025 Release Date”.

… Dunk and Egg keep journeying closer to their HBO debut.

On Friday, Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav gave an update on the next Game of Thrones spinoff series: A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms: The Hedge Knight (a title that seems destined to be changed to something that doesn’t have “Knight” twice).

“[Creator and executive producer] George R.R. Martin is in preproduction for the new spinoff, A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms, which will premiere in late 2025 on Max,” Zaslav said.

The show is expected to begin production sometime this year.

Given that House of the Dragon is launching its second season this summer, the Knight of the Seven Kingdoms date next year raises the possibility of HBO settling into a flow of having a Thrones drama each year (assuming both shows can turn around their next seasons within two years)….

(19) ACADEMIC REPORT ON THE LANGUAGE USED BY THE CHENGDU BUSINESS DAILY. [Item by Ersatz Culture.] As is hopefully well-known by now, the Chengdu Business Daily organization – also known as Chengdu Economic Daily, which I believe is their “official” English name – provided a number of staff for the Chengdu concom in senior roles, including a Co-Chair, an Honorary Co-Chair, and members of the Hugo team.

I don’t want to get into why what is nominally a newspaper was so involved in running a science fiction convention here, but earlier today I came across a piece of academic research from 2017 that investigated how their journalistic output was summarized on Chinese social media.  Although the authors of this report appear to be Chinese nationals from a Chengdu university, the study is in English.

A couple of extracts give examples of how CBD news stories were covered on their social media accounts.  (The text from the study is left unaltered, other than reformatting for readability, and the censoring of an English language swear word.)


In all these samples, there were 23 cases of non-standardization, accounting for 7.7% of the total samples, including 10 cases of using ambiguous words, 6 cases of insufficient sentence composition, 3 cases of vulgar words, 2 cases of exaggerated titles, 1 case of non-standardized proverbs, 1 case of ambiguity. Specific reports are listed below. Such as 

  • “Ball-Hurting! #One Man Tied 7 Cars On His Testis# [sic] And Pulled Cars 8 Meters.” (“@Chengdu Economic Daily” April 1st)
  • “It Is Said That The Relevant Agencies Have Organized The Second Mental Identification Towards The Guilty Driver.” (@Chengdu Economic Daily” on March 1st)
  • “Two Small UAVs Were Artificially Installed Artillery That May Be Firecrackers And Attacked Each Other For Fun.” (“@Chengdu Economic Daily “February 1st).

After combing the entire sample, this article also found that the use of spoken language is very common. “@Chengdu Economic Daily” accounted for 22.2% and “@Chengdu Evening Post” accounted for 30.00% (see Table 3). Such as: 

  • “Easy To Learn: Home-Made Pickle-Fish Is Super Cool.”(@Chengdu Economic Daily January 1st)
  • “F*ck Off. Just Get Off. Why You Not Just Get Off.” (@Chengdu Economic Daily January 1st) 
  • “Old Lady Started Stall Besides Street While City Inspectors Helped Her.” (@Chengdu Evening Post January 1st)
  • “A Lady Shouting At A Naughty Child Was Beat By His Parents.”(“@Chengdu Evening Post” March 1st)

The use of network buzzwords and verbal expressions, with the characteristics of freshness and populism, usually adopts irony, ridicule, exaggeration and populist expressions to report and comment on events or peoples, and the contents conveyed are thoughtful, active and critical.


(20) AI’S ELECTRIC BILL. “Generative AI’s environmental costs are soaring — and mostly secret” reports Kate Crawford in Nature.

Last month, OpenAI chief executive Sam Altman finally admitted what researchers have been saying for years — that the artificial intelligence (AI) industry is heading for an energy crisis. It’s an unusual admission. At the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, Altman warned that the next wave of generative AI systems will consume vastly more power than expected, and that energy systems will struggle to cope. “There’s no way to get there without a breakthrough,” he said.

I’m glad he said it. I’ve seen consistent downplaying and denial about the AI industry’s environmental costs since I started publishing about them in 2018. Altman’s admission has got researchers, regulators and industry titans talking about the environmental impact of generative AI.

So what energy breakthrough is Altman banking on? Not the design and deployment of more sustainable AI systems — but nuclear fusion. He has skin in that game, too: in 2021, Altman started investing in fusion company Helion Energy in Everett, Washington.

Most experts agree that nuclear fusion won’t contribute significantly to the crucial goal of decarbonizing by mid-century to combat the climate crisis. Helion’s most optimistic estimate is that by 2029 it will produce enough energy to power 40,000 average US households; one assessment suggests that ChatGPT, the chatbot created by OpenAI in San Francisco, California, is already consuming the energy of 33,000 homes. It’s estimated that a search driven by generative AI uses four to five times the energy of a conventional web search. Within years, large AI systems are likely to need as much energy as entire nations….

(21) AN EARLIER ‘GREAT WALL’. “Great ‘Stone Age’ wall discovered in Baltic Sea”. “Megastructure stretching nearly 1 kilometre long is probably one of the oldest known hunting aids on Earth.”

Divers have helped to reveal the remnants of a kilometre-long wall that are submerged in the Baltic Sea off the coast of Rerik, Germany. The rocks (pictured) date back to the Stone Age.

Primary research paper here.

(22) LICENSE PLATE FRAME OF THE DAY.  “Bigfoot doesn’t believe in you either.”

(23) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes arrives in theaters May 10.

Director Wes Ball breathes new life into the global, epic franchise set several generations in the future following Caesar’s reign, in which apes are the dominant species living harmoniously and humans have been reduced to living in the shadows. As a new tyrannical ape leader builds his empire, one young ape undertakes a harrowing journey that will cause him to question all that he has known about the past and to make choices that will define a future for apes and humans alike.

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Steven French, Ersatz Culture, Martin Easterbrook, Kathy Sullivan, Joey Eschrich, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, and Chris Barkley for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kevin Harkness.]

Pixel Scroll 12/24/23 I’ve Got 99 Pixels But The Scroll Ain’t Fifth

(1) WHAT HAPPENS IN TRISOLARIS — STAYS IN VEGAS. “Netflix to Stage ‘3 Body Problem’ Immersive Experience at CES 2024”. Variety tells what visitors at the Las Vegas event will encounter.

Next month, Netflix will have a booth on the main CES show floor for the first time — where it will stage an “immersive experience” for the “3 Body Problem,” the sci-fi drama series from “Game of Thrones” duo David Benioff and D.B. Weiss and Alexander Woo.

The streamer’s exhibit space at CES 2024 will be located at the Las Vegas Convention Center’s Central Hall, Booth #17048. Per Netflix’s description of the activation: “An otherworldly headset will transport CES attendees into the mysterious world of ‘3 Body Problem’ in a fun and experiential way, showcasing the series’ genre-bending high stakes.” The experience keys off a key narrative element in the “3 Body Problem” universe, in which a gaming headset is used by characters to transport into an unknown world.

In the wearable-display experience, CES attendees will be able to watch the series trailer for the very first time. And as they watch, Netflix says, “they are transported into an immersive, real-world extension of the series, revealing clues about the nature of the core threat in the ‘3 Body Problem.’”…

(2) BAD BUZZ ABOUT GOODREADS. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] The saga of Cait Corrain, et al., takes the lede in the Guardian story, “’It’s totally unhinged’: is the book world turning against Goodreads?”

For Bethany Baptiste, Molly X Chang, KM Enright, Thea Guanzon, Danielle L Jensen, Akure Phénix, RM Virtues and Frances White, it must have been brutal reading. All received scathing reviews on Goodreads, an online platform that reputedly has the power to make or break new authors.

But the verdicts were not delivered by an esteemed literary critic. They were the work of Cait Corrain, a debut author who used fake accounts to “review bomb” her perceived rivals. The literary scandal led to Corrain posting an apology, being dropped by her agent and having her book deal cancelled.

It also uncovered deeper questions about Goodreads, arguably the most popular site on which readers post book reviews, and its outsized impact on the publishing industry. Its members had produced 26m book reviews and 300m ratings over the past year, the site reported in October. But for some authors, it has become a toxic work environment that can sink a book before it is even published.

“It has a lot of influence because there are so many people now who are not in the New York ecosystem of publishing,” says Bethanne Patrick, a critic, author and podcaster. “Publishers and agents and authors and readers go to Goodreads to see what is everybody else looking at, what’s everyone else interested in? It has a tremendous amount of influence in the United States book world and reading world and probably more than some people wish it had.

Goodreads allows users to review unpublished titles. Publishers frequently send advance copies to readers in exchange for online reviews that they hope will generate buzz. But in October, Goodreads acknowledged a need to protect the “authenticity” of ratings and reviews, encouraging users to report content or behaviour that breaches its guidelines.

Goodreads said: “Earlier this year, we launched the ability to temporarily limit submission of ratings and reviews on a book during times of unusual activity that violate our guidelines, including instances of ‘review bombing’. This kind of activity is not tolerated on Goodreads and it diminishes the community’s trust in people who participate.”…

(3) THE HAUNTENING. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] BBC Radio 4 has had a short comedy, thriller. When he gets a gift from his girlfriend, he does not realize that it is a deep fake powered by an artificial intelligence.  But the AI does not take well to criticism and things soon become personal… You can listen to it here. “The Hauntening”.

Travel through the bad gateway in this modern ghost story as writer and performer Tom Neenan discovers what horrors lurk in our apps and gadgets. In this episode, a celebrity birthday message from Joanna Lumley turns into a terrifying gift for Tom

Modern technology is terrifying. The average smartphone carries out three-point-three-six billion instructions per second. The average person can only carry out one instruction in that time. Stop and think about that for a second. Sorry, that’s two instructions – you won’t be able to do that.

But what if modern technology was… literally terrifying? What if there really was a ghost in the machine?

(4) POSTERIZED. Think of it as a start on next year’s shopping. Or simply a well-deserved gift for yourself.  “Star Wars and Other Galactic Funk (Millennium Records, 1977)” at Heritage Auctions. Bidding is only up to $16 at last look.

Star Wars and Other Galactic Funk (Millennium Records, 1977). Very Fine on Linen. All English Language Japanese Record Store Poster (20.25″ X 29.25″) Robert Rodriquez Artwork.

Even though its films take place in a galaxy far, far away, the Star Wars franchise has connected with audiences since the original film’s release in 1977. 20th Century Fox had no idea that the film would resonate so much with fans, so when George Lucas agreed to pass up a $500,000 directing bonus to attain merchandising rights, it seemed safe for the studio to do. However, Lucas, who had seen the merchandising blitz that came with his good friend Steven Spielberg’s Jaws, knew well the power that films had on consumers. George Lucas’ imagination led to a licensing goldmine of action figures, play sets, posters, board games, books, trading cards, costumes, and more. It’s been 45 years since Star Wars hit the screen, and the franchise has raked in over $29 billion in merchandise sales alone. Much more than the Joseph Campbell hero’s journey set in a space opera, the retail and promotional items made in conjunction with this multi-faceted property have brought tremendous joy to fans worldwide and remain coveted among collectors. The characters, the settings, and the galaxy continue to be beloved by Force believers, and here we present an extensive treasure trove of rare items dating from 1977 to today. May the Force be with you!

Offered in this lot is a rare all-English language Japanese record store poster for Meco’s best-selling album Star Wars and Other Galactic Funk, which reworked the Star Wars score into a disco and jazz fusion medley. A restored poster with bright color and a clean overall appearance. Minor touchup and color touchup is applied to several creases. Grades on all restored items are pre-restoration grades.

(5) VISION QUESTS. Deadline studies the rapid advancement in animation effects in “’Across The Spider-Verse’, ‘Nimona’ & ‘TMNT: Mutant Mayhem’ VFX”.

… Since the first Academy Award for Best Animated Feature was awarded in 2002 to DreamWorks’ Shrek, the animation industry has made incredible strides. This awards season, such films are pushing the boundaries of what animation can be, and VFX plays a huge part in infusing new artistic styles into every frame….

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse pushed the animated comic book style of the 2018 film even further with six new, distinct worlds and a visually complex villain. 

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse amazed everyone in 2018 with an interpretation of animated comics, and set a bar for what animation could look like. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse exceeded expectations with the introduction of six new worlds, each with a new style of animation. While these were all challenging in their own way, VFX supervisor Mike Lasker says the most challenging aspect of the film was the new villain, the Spot. 

“This was the culmination of every tool in our toolbox we had created over the course of production,” he says. “We had a lot of great reference paintings of him, and there were all these different, dark and evil sorts of purples and ink splattering off of him as he moved his limbs.” Using 2D tools integrated into the 3D animation software, Lasker’s team was able to add hand-drawn ink lines, paint strokes, distortion, and more to create the final look. “We ended up using the stroke system, ink splatter coming off the layers, heavy compositing, lighting, paint strokes—every area of the pipeline was involved.”

Lasker says look supervisor Craig Feifarek was an essential part of creating the final look of the Spot. “Craig actually lit and composited all of these shots,” he says. “He did a great job, but also the animation department did an amazing job prototyping how the Spot acts in the last shots of the film. They were able to create all these crazy flash frames… I look at this now and I’m still in awe of what they’ve done.”

(6) HERE’S MY NUMBER AND A DIME. Slashfilm says “A Chance Run-In With Ray Bradbury Helped Bring Blade Runner To The Big Screen”.

…Paul M. Sammon’s “Future Noir: The Making of Blade Runner” provides an in-depth look at the genesis of “Blade Runner” and details Fancher’s attempts to seek out [Philip K. Dick] the man behind “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” Unfortunately, the search was proving fruitless at first, with Fancher claiming “it was just about impossible to learn anything about him.” The writer, eager to get going on a script, took a trip to New York in search of the mysterious author’s agents, who turned out to be unhelpful.

What happened next was complete luck, according to Fancher, who ended up “accidentally” running into an author not dissimilar to Dick: the legendary author Ray Bradbury. The man responsible for sci-fi classics such as “Fahrenheit 451” and “The Martian Chronicles” handed Fancher a lifeline during their chance encounter. Flipping through his address book, he found Philip K. Dick’s home phone number and promptly handed it over to Fancher.

As the future co-writer of the “Blade Runner” script recalled: “the next day, in fact, I called Phil about the book and we set up an appointment to meet in his apartment.” The two spoke at Dick’s Santa Ana home where they are said to have gotten along well despite Fancher sensing some “manic” and “self-reverential” tendencies in the author, who seemed initially wary of any Hollywood treatment of his novels….

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born December 24, 1910 Fritz Leiber. (Died 1992.) Now in Birthdays we come to the matter of Fritz Leiber.

Fritz Leiber. Photo by and (c) Andrew Porter.

Warning: this is my list of favorite works by him, not a definitive look at him. 

I’ll  start with The Big Time as it has long been my favorite work by him, and I must say that it has magnificently held up over the years. No Suck Fairy has dared approach it lest she turn to dust on the winds of the Change Wars. 

First published sixty-two years ago as a novel by Ace Books, The Big Time started out as a two part-serial in Galaxy Magazine‘s in the March and April 1958 issues. It would win the Hugo Award for Best Novel or Novelette at Solacon. 

It was well-received with Algis Budrys liking it but he noted it was more of a play than an actual novel. One set, a small number of actors — perfect to be staged.

There were also the Change War stories, collected in Snakes & Spiders: The Definitive Change War Collection, published by Creative Minority Productions which I can’t say I’ve ever heard of. It is available from the usual suspects. And yes, I just got a copy as I can still read short stories fine even if novels are long beyond me. 

Next up without question are that barbarian and thief duo, Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser. Leiber wrote it as a counterpoint he says in part to such characters as Conan the Barbarian, and I for one like them very much better. I think I’ve read all them, and they’re certainly his most entertaining writing by far.

I really like Conjure Wife which was awarded the Retro Hugo Award at Dublin 2019. A most delicious take on the premise that all women are witches, and told all so well. 

Yes, I like his short stories by I can’t remember which are my favorite ones other than the Change 

That’s my list of favorite Leiber works, what’s yours?

(8) COMICS SECTION.

  • Tom Gauld sends help to those hunting for last-minute gifts.

(9) AFTER THE CALAMITY. [Item by Steven French.] Read Jeff Vander Meer “On Sven Holm’s Novella of Nuclear Disaster” in The Paris Review. The post-apocalyptic story Termush,  originally published in 1967, was reissued earlier this year with a foreword by Vander Meer:

…In its treatment of the aftermath of nuclear war, Termush distinguishes itself from the so-called disaster cozies of the fifties, like the novels of John Wyndham, to occupy more urgent territory. In this genre, the dangers of some calamitous situation become entwined with an almost cheery disaster-tourism tone; more importantly, civilization always wins in the end, even if in an altered form. The militias may hold sway for a while, or the plague lay waste to whole towns, but by the novel’s close, equilibrium and balance, logic and order, always return to human endeavors. Not so much in Termush, which also eludes, through its particular focus and narrative velocity, echoes of Cold War conflict that otherwise might have dated the novella. Instead of a pervading sense of “the other” about to storm the gates, Holm delves into the psychology of the holed-up survivors and the hazards of societal breakdown….

… The right excerpt from Termush could easily have appeared in New Worlds, the seminal sixties magazine for the New Wave…

(10) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Ryan George takes us inside the Wish Pitch Meeting”.

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

Pixel Scroll 12/23/23 He Was Scrolling Pixels When Scrolling Pixels Wasn’t Cool

(1) FOR ART’S SAKE. If you want to read “Bodily Autonomy in the Murderbot Diaries: Martha Wells Interviews Herself and ART” you need to buy F(r)iction’s “The Bodies Issue (No. 20)” – digital for $12, print & digital for $20. But Murderbot, right?!

(2) GET READY FOR SMOFCON $ALE. Marah Searle-Kovacevic, Chair, Smofcon 41announced they will be having a post holiday membership sale! From December 26-31, attending memberships will be $65! Get yours, they’ll never be any lower! Sign up here starting next week: “Membership – Smofcon 41”

(3) WORLDCON BID Q&A SESSIONS. [Item by Kevin Standlee.] SMOFCon 40 allowed the Worldcon Events YouTube channel to extract the presentations from past and future Worldcons and from those bids who had representatives either in person or remotely.

I tried to trim these down to just the presentations/Q&A, not including the changeover time between presenters or any issues with getting the tech set up.

There were presentations from the following Worldcons and bids:

None of the other bids that have previously announced interest and that are currently listed on our Worldcon bids page (Tel Aviv in 2027, Brisbane in 2028, Texas in 2031, Minneapolis in 2073) had representatives at SMOFCon 40.

(4) TALKING ABOUT TOLKIEN. Tom Emanuel of the University of Glasgow is looking for nonreligious people to interview about Tolkien:

Are you a fan of The Lord of the Rings? Do you identify as nonreligious? Would you be interested in talking to me (Tom Emanuel) for 1-2 hours about why you love Tolkien?

If you answered “yes” I would love it if you filled out this questionnaire for my PhD research at the University of Glasgow!

Robin Anne Reid forwarded the request with a couple of links to Tom’s previous scholarship that is open-access if people are interested in seeing what sort of work he does in Tolkien scholarship. 

(5) GOBLIN SONG FALLING AFTER SPLASH DEBUT. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] After climbing to number 12 in its first week in release, Doctor Who’s “The Goblin Song” has now slipped to 52 on UK charts.

There had been a concerted campaign to make it number one.

(6) MIKE NUSSBAUM (1924-2023). [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Actor Mike Nussbaum was The Principal in Field of Dreams, Gentle Rosenberg in Men in Black, Yuri Rosanov in Early Edition, and Mr. Wallace in The Water Engine. Look the last one up, it’s fascinating. No series work at all of a genre nature save a character on the Twilight Zone Radio Dramas called Nathaniel Harris. 

Deadline’s complete tribute is here: “Mike Nussbaum Dies: Veteran Actor In ‘Men In Black’ And ‘Fatal Attraction’ Was 99”.

(7) MEMORY LANE.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

December 23, 1960 Twilight Zone’s “The Night of The Meek”

On December 23rd in 1960, Twilight Zone’s “The Night of the Meek” first aired. It was one of the six episodes of the second season which was shot on videotape in a failed attempt saved to cut costs. Networks and their bean counters.

This was a Christmas themed story with Art Carney as a Santa Claus fired on Christmas Eve who finds a mysterious bag that gives an apparently unlimited stream of gifts. But before we learn that we have this opening scene and narration:

As snow begins to fall, a drunk Henry Corwin ((Carney) wearing his Santa Claus suit, leans against a curbside lamppost. He is approached by two tenement children begging for toys, a Christmas dinner, and “a job for my daddy.” As he begins to sob, the camera turns to Rod Serling standing on the sidewalk:

This is Mr. Henry Corwin, normally unemployed, who once a year takes the lead role in the uniquely popular American institution, that of the department-store Santa Claus in a road-company version of ‘The Night Before Christmas’. But in just a moment Mr. Henry Corwin, ersatz Santa Claus, will enter a strange kind of North Pole which is one part the wondrous spirit of Christmas and one part the magic that can only be found… in the Twilight Zone.

The script would be used over in the Eighties version of this series and on the radio program as well. 

Serling ended the original broadcast with the words, “And a Merry Christmas, to each and all”,  but that phrase was deleted in the Eighties for reasons never made clear and would not be back until Netflix started streaming the series. The series runs on Paramount+ now in its original full, uncensored version. The line is still missing from all the DVD versions.

John Fielder who is Mister Dundee here would have a second Twilight Zone appearance in “Cavander is Coming” in which he has the lead as the Angel Harmon Cavender.

Oh, and let’s note that it’s a cat that mysteriously starts off this tale by knocking down a large burlap bag full of empty cans, which when Corwin trips over it, is then filled with gifts. See cats are magical! 

Serling ends with this narration:

A word to the wise to all the children of the Twentieth Century, whether their concern be pediatrics or geriatrics, whether they crawl on hands and knees and wear diapers or walk with a cane and comb their beards. There’s a wondrous magic to Christmas and there’s a special power reserved for little people. In short, there’s nothing mightier than the meek. And a Merry Christmas to each and all.

(8) COMICS SECTION.

  • Tom Gauld’s Christmas shopping advice.
  • Or maybe the person on your list has dropped a heavy hint?

(9) SNYDERVERSE’S LATEST. Camestros Felapton has a very wry way of telling everyone how little he thinks of Zack Snyder’s new production: “Review: Rebel Moon (Netflix)”. There are three or four lines even funnier than this:

…This is Part 1 of 2. The Seven Samurai haven’t got to the village yet, Thanos knows Gamora is leading them and Darth Vader isn’t actually dead (spoiler), so there is a lot to expect in Part 2 including the whereabouts of the magic space princess….

(10) THE VOICE-CLOCK SANG. The National Review pointed readers to “Ray Bradbury’s ‘There Will Come Soft Rains’” with a commentary by Luther Ray Abel that says in part:

…Something splendid this way comes from “Rains”: its treatment of the works of man. Even the seemingly immortal machines we build — contraptions subservient to our whims and intelligence that can operate without our input — will disappear in time, much faster than one would expect, even.

There’s this idea from the utopianists among us, many of them progressives, that technology will undergird the socialist state — that objects will remove the necessity for man to do and to make, and, ultimately, be answerable for anything. Scruton refuted this irrational optimism as only he could, “[Political optimists] ignore or despise the findings of experience and common sense. The millions dead or enslaved do not refute utopia, but merely give proof of the evil machinations that have stood in its way.”

There is nothing inherently wrong with technology, but with its false promises, we pick through the ruins of Babel and dream of raising her again. Man cannot save himself, even with infinite microprocessors and processes. To think of technology as anything other than a temporary salve — a way to soften the effects of the Fall — is folly; the family vaporized on the wall of their home consider the purported benefits of progress fatally unfulfilling….

(11) TYPE LIKE TOLKIEN. Slashfilm has its Eye on “Cool Stuff: Colorful Lord Of The Rings Custom Keyboards Come In Elvish, The Black Speech & More”.

Taking cues from the various realms of Middle-earth… Drop’s keyboards and keycaps utilize various fantastical languages, including Elvish, Dwarvish, and even the sparsely spoken Black Speech that adorns the Ring of Power, to give your mundane keyboard a beautiful upgrade. Don’t worry if you don’t speak any of those languages fluently; these keyboards still have English where needed to define keys you might not use frequently….

With another green color scheme, you might also be interested in the Elvish keyboard featuring custom artwork by OSHETART depicting the Two Trees of Valinor (because the time of the elves is not over)….

(12) CHECKING IT TWICE. Santa’s feeling the last-minute stress, too, in this old Emsh cover for Galaxy Magazine.

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

This Year Santa Is Bringing Everyone A Ray Bradbury Roundup

(1) THUMBS UP, THUMBS DOWN. GameRant has opinions: “Ray Bradbury’s Novels: Best & Worst Film & TV Adaptations”. The list starts with one Ray personally downchecked.

… Not every adaptation has been perfect, of course, and even when the movie or show is a decent product other things can go wrong to make it less than successful. Bad publicity, a low budget, or disagreements between the director and studio can bring a whole production down even if the story and cast are on point. Bradbury’s work as it appears on screen can go either way depending on the viewer’s personal opinion of the original, and the author himself didn’t mince words when offering his own thoughts on the matter.

6. The Martian Chronicles (1980)

This BBC miniseries had all the marks of a successful adaptation, at least in the beginning. It had a cast with big names like Rock Hudson and Bernadette Peters, an original soundtrack with more than 30 songs, more than decent production values, and it was an adaptation of a novel of the same name by a popular author with literary clout.

However, things started to go awry when Ray Bradbury himself described the show as “boring” at a solo press conference. Although he and screenwriter Richard Matheson had worked together on the adaptation, Bradbury was disappointed with the result, which deviated significantly from his original story. Even though the show was finished in 1979, this poor marketing was enough to delay the release for a year, but fans and critics ultimately gave The Martian Chronicles a positive reception.

(2) HAVE YE READ THE GREAT WHITE WHALE. “Ray Bradbury, Moby Dick and the Irish connection” in The Irish Times.

… One part of the Bradbury story that may be less well known, however, is his Irish connection. This had its origins when in 1953 director John Huston recruited him to write the screenplay for his film of Moby Dick. Though the two men had expressed a wish to work together, Huston’s offer came to Bradbury as a bit of a shock, possibly because at the time he had yet to read Melville’s novel.

But, of course, this was an offer he couldn’t refuse. So, the night of Huston’s proposal, Bradbury – by his own account – stayed up till dawn making good his omission, a feat that smacks of Ahab’s whale-tussling or some such epic fiction. And, by morning, the account continues, Bradbury had knocked enough skelps off the thing to believe he was the man for the screenwriting job. It turned out that he’d signed up for a stormy voyage – but the money was good: $12,500 for the script, plus another $200 a week living expenses.

At the time, Huston was living in Courtown House near Kilcock, Co Kildare and intended to direct Moby Dick with this as his base. Obviously Bradbury had to be on hand as well. So in September 1953, with his wife, their two small children and a nanny, he trekked from Hollywood by land and sea (Bradbury could imagine space travel but wouldn’t board a plane for God or man) to Dublin’s Royal Hibernian Hotel on Dawson Street (where the arcade is now)….

(3) POLITICAL PERSPECTIVE. Bradley J. Birzer highly praises Jonathan R. Eller’s biography Becoming Ray Bradbury in “Ray Bradbury’s First 33 Years” at The Imaginative Conservative.

…In terms of Bradbury’s politics, he was immensely complicated. As a very young man, he embraced—to a rather shocking degree—ideas of technocracy, believing that the future of America, especially through the Great Depression, and even into World War II, resided in economic and scientific efficiency. Everything, he thought, was tied to the ideas of energy production and output. However, at a meeting of technocrats, all adorned in their matching grey suits, Bradbury suddenly realized that his affection for their policies, was akin to loving either Mussolini or Stalin. He moved toward the mainstream parties. Though a Stevenson Democrat in 1952, Bradbury found himself, again, disillusioned with the presidential candidate, especially after Stevenson refused to address directly either the Korean War or Joseph McCarthy’s scandalous witch hunts. Famously (or infamously, depending on one’s point of view), Bradbury took out a large ad in Variety, “To the Republican Party,” challenging them to disown McCarthyism as well as refrain from claiming that anyone in the Democratic Party was a Communist. In the spring of 1953, Bradbury published in The Nation one of his most famous essays, “Day After Tomorrow: Why Science Fiction,” a defense of the much maligned literary genre. Later that year, Bradbury’s masterfully anti-consumerist but deeply libertarian novel, Fahrenheit 451, appeared, perhaps solidifying the author’s anti-authoritarian reputation….

(4) FLAME ON. The opening panels from this 1984 computer game can be viewed at the Internet Archive: “Fahrenheit 451 : Byron Preiss Video Productions, Inc., Trillium Corp.”.

In a not so distant future, books have become illegal. As Fireman Guy Montag, the player’s role is not to save houses, but to burn them for the books inside. However, Guy becomes passionate about books and becomes a rebel, pursued by the authorities. With the help of the Underground, he must survive and save books from complete extinction.

The game acts a sequel to Bradbury’s novel. Following the imposition of martial law Montag finds the young woman who inspired his resistance to the established order. With her help he can now track down 34 microcassettes which hold the contents of the New York Public Library, then pass them on to underground members who will memorise the texts.

(5) CENSORING AND BOWDLERIZING 451. From the Wikipedia’s article on Fahrenheit 451.

Expurgation
Starting in January 1967, Fahrenheit 451 was subject to expurgation by its publisher, Ballantine Books with the release of the “Bal-Hi Edition” aimed at high school students.[58][59] Among the changes made by the publisher were the censorship of the words “hell”, “damn”, and “abortion”; the modification of seventy-five passages; and the changing of two incidents.[59][60]

In the first incident a drunk man was changed to a “sick man”, while the second involved cleaning fluff out of a human navel, which instead became “cleaning ears” in the other.[59][61] For a while both the censored and uncensored versions were available concurrently but by 1973 Ballantine was publishing only the censored version.[61][62] That continued until 1979, when it came to Bradbury’s attention:[61][62]

In 1979, one of Bradbury’s friends showed him an expurgated copy of the book. Bradbury demanded that Ballantine Books withdraw that version and replace it with the original, and in 1980 the original version once again became available. In this reinstated work, in the Author’s Afterword, Bradbury relates to the reader that it is not uncommon for a publisher to expurgate an author’s work, but he asserts that he himself will not tolerate the practice of manuscript “mutilation”.

The “Bal-Hi” editions are now referred to by the publisher as the “Revised Bal-Hi” editions.[63]

Then there’s this example where someone rewrote the book without permission: “Fahrenheit 451 As Childrens Book” at Slideshare.net.

(6) PRESCRIPTION 451. And yet the American Medical Association says that Bradbury book is good for what ails you: “5 fantastic novels doctors recommend for your summer reading list”.

Reading can boost your vocabulary, sharpen your reasoning, expand your intellectual horizons and improve memory. But reading for fun can also help in the battle against physician burnout.

Here, in alphabetical order by book author, are five novels that AMA members who have participated in the “Shadow Me” Specialty Series recommend reading….  

Fahrenheit 451

By Ray Bradbury

“This book speaks to teen idealism and offers a wealth of wisdom about maintaining perspective, understanding history, valuing art and literature and remembering to live life,” said Kanani Titchen, MD, a pediatrician and adolescent medicine physician.

Battling burnout… Wait, I get it!!

(7) FINGERPRINTS. “The Twilight Zone: Ray Bradbury’s Influence Is All Over Six Degrees of Freedom”Den of Geek tells readers where to look for it.

The following contains spoilers for The Twilight Zone, “Six Degrees of Freedom.”

If the latest episode of the newly rebooted Twilight Zone — “Six Degrees of Freedom” — feels old school to you, you’re not crazy. For bookish types, the most obvious Easter egg in the episode comes pretty early; the Mars-bound spaceship central to the story is called“Bradbury Heavy,” a kind tribute to Elon Musk putting the word “heavy” after the names of rockets, but also, of course, the iconic author of The Martian Chronicles, Ray Bradbury. And, even if the screenwriters of this Twilight Zone episode (Glen Morgan and Heather Anne Campbell) weren’t intentionally homaging Ray Bradbury’s writing, his ghost haunts this creepy episode in surprising ways…. 

(8) BRADBURY AWARD HONOREES. In 2022, The Portalist called these “The 10 Best Movies That Have Won the Ray Bradbury Award”.

Ray Bradbury was, among many other things, a celebrated screenwriter. He wrote the screenplay for John Huston’s 1956 adaptation of Moby Dick, as well as teleplays for some 59 episodes of The Ray Bradbury Theater, to name just some of his credits. And in 1992, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) inaugurated the Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation in his honor.

Presented at the same time as the SFWA’s Nebula Awards, the Ray Bradbury Award was not initially considered a Nebula. It was chosen not by a vote from members of the SFWA, as the Nebulas are, but by the organization’s president. In that format, it was presented in 1992, 1999, 2001, and 2009. At the same time, there was also a Nebula Award for Best Script, which was given out in the ‘70s and brought back in the 2000s. 

After 2009, the two were rolled into one….

The list includes:

Gravity

Known for being absolutely stunning, among other things, Alfonso Cuarón’s flick about stranded astronauts played by Sandra Bullock and George Clooney managed to nab a whopping seven Academy Awards, including Best Director. It was nominated for Best Picture, but lost to 12 Years a Slave

Gravity‘s competition for the Bradbury was less stiff, though it did still beat out Pacific Rim, the Hunger Games sequel, Spike Lee’s Her, and others….

(9) WHERE IDEAS COME FROM. In “Ray Bradbury on feeding your creativity”, Austin Kleon reminds people about Ray’s three-point plan:

(10) WICKED GOOD. Jack Butler of National Review Online has nice things to say about Somethng Wicked This Way Comes. “Halloween Explored in Literature”.

…This year, it’s Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes. The book, which tells the story of a mysterious carnival’s arrival to and malevolence in a small town, is a master class in supernatural suspense:

The carnival, populated by a grotesquerie of characters against whom the boys, at first alone, contest, comes to life in vivid, unsettling descriptions. At the center of it all is Mr. Dark, “the illustration-drenched, superinfested civilization of souls.” His designs assail the boys through time-manipulating carousels, witch-piloted hot-air balloons, blood-drenched fists that drip onto boys hiding below a sewer grate, stealthy pursuits through endless stacks of books and infinite mazes of mirrors, and more. (In a 1983 adaptation, Mr. Dark is chillingly depicted by a young Jonathan Pryce.) At first, the boys alone perceive the carnival’s malevolence, as it operates through the town, preying on citizens’ desires and sins while trying to enfold the boys into its plots as a means of shutting them up. Anyone looking for an eerie and gripping Halloween read will find plenty that’s satisfying in Something Wicked This Way Comes.

But he will also find more than that, as I argue in my piece, which you can read here….

(11) CELEBRITY BRUSH. In the Season 5 opening episode of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel there is a fictional variety show she writes for. They announce the evening’s guests, “Angie Dickinson and the novelist Ray Bradbury.”  Best part of the episode.

(12) NEWSMAKER. Here’s a clip from Ray Bradbury’s talk at the San Diego Comic Con in 1974 hosted on CBS 8 San Diego’s YouTube channel.

August 1, 1974 Devotees of comics strips and comic books gathered in a convention today at El Cortez Hotel where one of the major attractions was the famous writer, Ray Bradbury. He is noted as one of America’s leading science fiction authors, but is also a poet, novelist, playwright, essayist, and creator of musical productions. Bradbury has been a fan of the comics since boyhood. Today I asked him (Harold Keen) if he considers comic books and newspaper comic strips genuine American art form. Bradbury said he is planning to adapt some of his short stories into a comic magazine of his own.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, and Martin Morse Wooster for these stories.]