Pixel Scroll 1/28/23 But Oh, Saberish Padawan, Beware Of The Day, If Your Scroll Be A Pixel

(1) COLUMBIA SHUTTLE TRAGEDY ANNIVERSARY. NPR is “Remembering the Space Shuttle Columbia tragedy 20 years on”.

…SIMON: Twenty years later, what have we learned about that day? What happened there in the sky? And what might have prevented it?

DUGGINS: Well, you know, it’s funny. I mean, if you talk to historians, who are much better at this than I am, they’ll say, you know, the Titanic, it can’t sink. Challenger – routine launch and landing, no problems there. And that hubris always seems to catch up with us. And with Columbia, it was the piece of falling foam that hit the vehicle. And NASA asked the engineers, do you know it’s a problem? And they said, well, we can’t be sure. And so the manager said, fine, we’ll just keep going with the mission and not tell anybody about it. And it wasn’t until the very end that they informed the astronauts ’cause they figured it was going to come up in a press conference. And that was what ultimately doomed the crew….

(2) LE GUIN POETRY VOLUME COMING. The Library of America edition of Ursula K. Le Guin: Collected Poems will be released April 23.  See a PDF of the Table of Contents.

Throughout a celebrated career that spanned five decades and multiple genres, Ursula K. Le Guin was first and last a poet. This sixth volume in the definitive Library of America edition of Le Guin’s work presents for the first time an authoritative gathering of her poetry—from the earliest collection, 1974’s Wild Angels, through her final publication, So Far So Good, which she delivered to her editor a week before her death in 2018. It reveals the full formal range and visionary breadth of a major American poet.

Le Guin’s poems engage with themes that resonate throughout her fiction but find their most refined expression here: exploration as a metaphor for both human bravery and creativity, the mystery and fragility of nature and the impact of humankind on the environment, the Tao Te Ching, marriage, aging, and womanhood. Often traditional in form but never in style, her verse is earthy and playful, surprising and lyrical.

This volume features a new introduction by editor Harold Bloom, written shortly before his own death in 2019, in which he reflects on his late-in-life friendship with Le Guin and the power of her poetic gift. “For many years I have wondered why her poetry is relatively neglected,” he writes. “Her lyrics and reflections are American originals. Sometimes I hear in them the accent of William Butler Yeats and occasionally a touch of Robinson Jeffers, yet her voicing is inimitably individual.” The book also presents sixty-eight uncollected poems, a generous selection of Le Guin’s introductions to and reflections on her poetry, including a rare interview, and a chronology of her life and career.

(3) OH GOODY. Futurism assures readers, “By 2030, You’ll Be Living in a World That’s Run by Google”.

…By 2030, Google will have that World Brain in existence, and it will look after all of us. And that’s quite possibly both the best and worst thing that could happen to humanity.

To explain that claim, let me tell you a story of how your day is going to unfold in 2030.

You wake up in the morning, January 1st, 2030. It’s freezing outside, but you’re warm in your room. Why? Because Nest – your AI-based air conditioner – knows exactly when you need to wake up, and warms the room you’re in so that you enjoy the perfect temperature for waking up.

And who acquired Nest three years ago for $3.2 billion USD? Google did.

You go out to the street and order an autonomous taxi to take you to your workplace. Who programmed that autonomous car? Google did. Who acquired Waze – a crowdsourcing navigation app? That’s right: Google did….

(4) WISH WE COULD BE THERE. Dr. Phil Nichols will speak about “Literacy, Censorship and Burning Books: Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451” at the Wolverhampton Literature Festival on February 3.

Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, the classic dystopian novel of book-burning firemen, is as relevant today as when it debuted seventy years ago. Its insights into censorship, television, drug abuse and the fall and rise of civilisation retain a freshness and plausibility rarely seen in other science fiction of that era.

Fahrenheit 451 is Ray Bradbury’s most successful novel. Ironically for a book which rages against censorship, it frequently shows up on lists of “banned books”. Adapted for the stage by Bradbury himself and twice filmed, it somehow doesn’t date, despite being seventy years old in 2023.

Phil Nichols is the editor of The New Ray Bradbury Review and Senior Consultant to the Ray Bradbury Centre at Indiana University. In this extensively illustrated talk, he explains the curious history of this classic science fiction dystopia. It’s a tale of diverse influences (Huxley and Koestler; but surprisingly not Orwell) and extensive re-writing, resulting in a work which Neil Gaiman calls “a love letter to books . . . a love letter to people.”

(5) DEFINITELY BELONGS TO THE SCIENCE FICTION CANNON. ScreenRant celebrates that “The First Science Fiction Movie Is Over 120 Years Old” and they’ll fight anyone who says it isn’t genre.

A Trip to the Moon is considered the first science fiction movie by most – but some say it is not science fiction, because it is not based on any realistic form of science, classing it more as a space fantasy. A Trip to the Moon features classic elements of the current sci-fi genre, such as aliens and sleek rockets, that would now be considered sci-fi because of how the genre has developed. However, some people do not classify films such as Star Wars as sci-fi because the science in it lacks plausibility, the same way A Trip to the Moon is not realistic with its science – highlighting how differently the genre is considered amongst audiences, as many would consider it a quintessential sci-fi series….

(6) QUITE A BUNCH OF CHARACTERS. Fonts In Use unravels “The Mystery of the Dune Font” and how devotees are keeping it alive.

… The liaison between Dune and Davison Art Nouveau started in September 1975, when the typeface was used by Berkley Medallion for a paperback edition of the first two novels. At the time, the Berkley imprint was owned by New York-based publisher G.P. Putnam’s Sons. When Berkley Putnam published the first hardcover edition of the third novel, Children of Dune, in 1976, the new typographic identity was applied there, too. Later on, Putnam used the typeface on the jackets for hardback editions of other, unrelated books authored (or coauthored) by Frank Herbert…

 … In 2009, a Dune aficionado who goes by the moniker DuneFish (DFUK) and/or MEP made a digital font called Orthodox Herbertarian, “painstakingly traced from scans of the typeface that was used on the American Ace editions […] of Dune and many other Frank Herbert books”. This amateur digitization is freely available at kullwahad.com. The font is caps only (A–Z), with a basic set of punctuation characters and scaled-down caps in the lowercase. Because it’s based on the book covers (as opposed to the original typeface), it naturally adopts the narrowed proportions. Orthodox Herbertarian is a laudable effort, but it doesn’t include any of the alternates or the numerals. In 2020, Reddit user purgruv added lowercase letters and numerals to this freebie and offered it for download as Extended Herbertarian. The additions aren’t faithful to the original and unfortunately aren’t well drawn, either….

(7) MEMORY LANE.

1923 [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

Following up on my essay yesterday, the quote tonight is from Agatha Christie’s “The Disappearance of Mr. Davenheim”.  

It was first published in March of 1923 in Britain in the Sketch. The story was published in the States in the Blue Book Magazine in December of 1923 as “Mr Davenby Disappears”.  In 1924, the story appeared as part of the Poirot Investigates anthology. 

And yes, David Suchet got to perform the story here in which is Poirot wagers Chief Inspector Japp that he can solve the mystery of a missing banker without leaving his flat. 

And here’s the quote now…

Poirot and I were expecting our old friend Inspector Japp of Scotland Yard to tea. We were sitting round the tea-table awaiting his arrival. Poirot had just finished carefully straightening the cups and saucers which our landlady was in the habit of throwing, rather than placing, on the table. He had also breathed heavily on the metal teapot, and polished it with a silk handkerchief. The kettle was on the boil, and a small enamel saucepan beside it contained some thick, sweet chocolate which was more to Poirot’s palate than what he described as ‘your English poison’. 

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 28, 1910 Arnold Moss. Anton Karidian a.k.a. Kodos the Executioner in the most excellent “The Conscience of the King” episode of Trek. It wasn’t his only SFF role as he’d show up in Tales of TomorrowThe Man from U.N.C.L.E. and The Girl from U.N.C.L.E.The Alfred Hitchcock HourTime Tunnel and Fantasy Island. (Died 1989.)
  • Born January 28, 1920 Lewis Wilson. Genre wise, he’s remembered for being the first actor to play Batman on screen in the 1943 Batman, a 15-chapter theatrical serial from Columbia Pictures. A sequel to the serial was made in 1949, but Robert Lowery replaced Wilson as Batman. (Died 2000.)
  • Born January 28, 1929 Parke Godwin. I’ve read a number of his novels and I fondly remember in particular Sherwood and Robin and the King. If you’ve not read his excellent Firelord series, I do recommend you do so. So who has read his Beowulf series? (Died 2013.)
  • Born January 28, 1965 Lynda Boyd, 58. Let’s start off with she’s a singer who starred in productions The Little Shop of Horrors and The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Film-wise, she had roles in Final Destination 2, The Invader, Mission to Mars and Hot Tub Time Machine. She’s had one-offs in X-Files, Highlander, Strange Luck, Millennium, The Sentinel, The Crow: Stairway to Heaven (where she had a recurring role as Darla Mohr), Outer Limits, Twilight Zone and Smallville.
  • Born January 28, 1981 Elijah Wood, 42. His first genre role was Video-Game Boy #2 in Back to the Future Part II. He next shows up as Nat Cooper in Forever Young followed by playing Leo Biederman in Deep Impact. Up next was his performance as Frodo Baggins In The Lord of The Rings and The Hobbit films. Confession time: I watched the very first of these. Wasn’t impressed. He’s done some other genre work as well including playing Todd Brotzman in the Beeb superb production of Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency
  • Born January 28, 1986 Shruti Haasan, 37. Indian film actress known for the Telugu fantasy film Anaganaga O Dheerudu, and the Tamil science fiction thriller 7aum Arivu. She voiced Queen Elsa in the Tamil-dubbed version of Frozen II.
  • Born January 28, 1998 Ariel Winter, 25. Voice actress who’s shown up in such productions as Mr. Peabody & Sherman as Penny Peterson, Horton Hears a Who!DC Showcase: Green Arrow as Princess Perdita and Batman: The Dark Knight Returns as Carrie Kelly (Robin). She’s got several one-off live performances on genre series, The Haunting Hour: The Series and Ghost Whisperer.

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • Six Chix shows how hardcover books have learned to play rough at the airport.

(10) CATZILLAS. “The Army Corps of Engineers Made a Glorious 2023 Cat Calendar” and Gizmodo has a slideshow of the whole thing.

It’s hard to believe that the mighty, stone-faced U.S. Army would ever adapt adorable cat babies as its representatives, but this is the internet in the year of our lord 2023. Anything is possible.

That’s certainly what I thought when I stumbled upon this glorious 2023 cat calendar made by the Portland District of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. While it’s not the product of a Photoshop wizard, the calendar earnestly features gigantic cats being their amazing furry selves. They play, they scratch, they think about life, and they stretch—all the while interacting with the Army Corps’ various dams, jetties, and heavy machinery….

(11) PLAUDITS FOR NEWITZ. Paul Di Filippo reviews The Terraformers by Annalee Newitz in the Washington Post [Archive.is link].

… This generously overstuffed tale has enough ideas and incidents to populate half a dozen lesser science fiction books. But the reading experience is never clotted or tedious, never plagued by extraneous detours. The story — which begins nearly 60,000 years in the future and unfolds over more than a millennium — rollicks along at a brisk clip while allowing Newitz space to dig into characters and milieu, and pile on startling speculative elements….

(12) NUKE THE MOON. In the New York Times: “‘The Wandering Earth II’ Review: It Wanders Too Far”

Upon its release, “The Wandering Earth,” Frant Gwo’s 2019 film about a dystopia in which Earth is perilously pushed through space, was minted as China’s first substantial, domestic sci-fi blockbuster, with the box office returns to prove it.

The film was entertaining enough, but its ambitious scope had something of an empty gloss to it, partly because the story’s drama wasn’t grounded in anything beyond the showy cataclysm. Its audaciously messy sequel, “The Wandering Earth II,” seems to have taken note and sprinted, aimlessly, entirely in the other direction. Losing all of the glee of its predecessor, the movie instead offers nearly three hours of convoluted story lines, undercooked themes and a tangle of confused, glaringly state-approved political subtext….

(13) KEEP YOUR DRAWERS ON. The Takeout tells how “Fox News Fell for an A&W Joke About Its Pantsless Mascot”.

…As you can see, the A&W tweet is simply parroting M&M’s tweet closely (the internet age is weird, everyone) and riding the same jokey wave. Rooty, typically pantsless, will wear jeans now. Funny gag! However, Fox News took A&W’s post as an opportunity to wage a culture war.

At first the outlet reported A&W’s Rooty announcement as a serious matter….

“First it was an M&M’s, now a bear has to wear [pants],” noted Fox Business anchor Cheryl Casone. “This is the woke police. Cancel culture has gone—ridiculous.”

Later, however, after all that lamentation, Fox realized the error, clarifying that A&W followed up its original tweet with another one that said, “Is now a good time to mention that this is a joke?”

(14) IT COULD HAPPEN ANYWHERE. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] It’s Saturday, I’m up early, had croissant and coffee and done work chores for today already 10.20. (I’m so hot it’s untrue…) So here is an extra from today’s Science. “Earth-like planets should readily form around other stars, meteorites suggest”.

Samples from space rocks suggest water and light elements are present in warm inner part of planet-forming disks

How hard is it to give birth to an Earth? To assemble the right mix of rock, metal, and water, in a balmy spot not too far from a star? For a long time, planetary scientists have thought Earth was a lucky accident, enriched with water and lighter “volatile” elements—such as nitrogen and carbon—by asteroids that had strayed in from the outer edges of the early Solar System, where those materials were abundant. But a series of new studies, including two published today in Science, suggests all the ingredients were much closer at hand when Earth was born…

Also Matt over at PBS Space Time contemplates Silicon based aliens

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Everything’s up to date on Ukraine’s farms.

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

Pixel Scroll 1/24/23 Reverse The Scrollarity Of The Pixel Flow

(1) CHICON 8 SHARES FEEDBACK. Chicon 8 chair Helen Montgomery today published the latest of her “Messages from the Chair” dealing with some postcon housekeeping, and with a long passage apologizing for or explaining some decisions that were made. Here are two of the most significant items.

Credit for Hugo Awards Finalists (Translators and Colorists)

S. Qiouyi Lu brought to our attention the exclusion of translators’ names from the written works in the “long listed” works in the detailed results for the 2022 Hugo Awards, explaining the importance of proper credit for translators in a Twitter thread here: https://twitter.com/sqiouyilu/status/1566762259187060736. We have posted a corrected set of detailed results at https://chicon.org/home/whats-happening/hugo-awards/, in which we have included the translators for the written works and colorists for the graphic novels. 

As part of the administration of the Hugo Awards, we endeavor to list all relevant creators on the final ballot presented to voters, and this includes confirming the correct ballot citations with Finalists themselves. The long list in the detailed results released after the Hugo Award ceremony is a different matter: it is required by the WSFS Constitution primarily for transparency into our processes, and has the side benefit of pointing folks to works that garnered significant community interest so they can go seek them out on their own. As noted in the detailed results, we do not vet the long list for eligibility and because the primary function of the long list is transparency into the process (which requires a table that is easy to parse), we do not list out full citations with all associated names, publishers, etc. We truncate references to all the works on the long list, listing authors for the written works, author/artist for the graphic stories, and no names at all for the Best Dramatic Presentations and magazines. 

Taking into account feedback from S. Qiouyi Lu and other members of the community, we have come to understand that the work of translators of written works is as fundamental to the work as the authors, and that where one is listed, both should be. We have made corrections to the translated long list works in the 2022 detailed results accordingly. For similar reasons, we are also adding the colorists and cover artists, where they are cited, to the graphic novel listings in the 2022 long list works. 

Thank you to S. Qiouyi Lu and everyone else in the community who has worked with us on this issue.

Hugo Awards Ceremony

We would like to discuss two incidents that occurred during the Hugo Awards Ceremony.

First, we would like to apologize to Marguerite Kenner, Finalist in the Best Fanzine category for The Full Lid, whose name was not read aloud during the ceremony. This was simply a mis-read by our ceremony hosts, who did immediately reach out personally to Ms. Kenner after the ceremony to apologize as well.

Second, there were concerns raised online during the Best Semiprozine category presentation when the audience laughed at the discrepancy between the slide listing the names of the Strange Horizons team and what was said aloud. While we spoke with all Finalists and agreed upon the language to be used on the slides and in the presentation, we acknowledge that we did not properly explain to the audience the context and conversation around not reading out the names of everyone on the Strange Horizons team. We also did not properly support our hosts by putting them in this situation. We will be speaking to future Worldcons to pass on our advice and experience in the hope to avoid similar situations in the future. 

Other items include: an apology for the original name given to the “Future Worldcon Q&A Session” (“The Fannish Inquisition”), correction of errors in Hugo Awards list in the printed Souvenir Book (names misspelled, Astounding Award 2022 winner name listed); omissions of some credits for  the Hugo Awards Ceremony and Opening Ceremony; follow-up with the Airmeet team; Art Show feedback; complaints about badge lanyards; and reasons for having an electronic-only Pocket Program Guide.

(2) FIFTH SEASON RPG CROWDFUNDING. [Item by Eric Franklin.] Green Ronin has launched a Backerkit campaign for the Fifth Season RPG, using their tried-and-tested AGE system (which was also used in the Expanse RPG). “The Fifth Season Roleplaying Game”.

…You and your fellow players take the roles of members of such a community, working to overcome internal difficulties and external threats, in order to be ready when that inevitable Fifth Season comes. Are you a lifelong native of this place, someone everyone has recognized from childhood? Maybe you’re a more recent addition to the comm, someone who’s come from a distance, contributing something to the comm that makes the possibility of your secrets and past catching up to you worth it. Or perhaps you are an orogene, one who was born to sess the movements of the tectonic plates, gifted with a forbidden power to still the shaking earth and bleed heat in your environs away until frost coats everything in a perfect circle around you….

To let you know how it’s all going to work they’ve created “The Fifth Season Roleplaying Quickstart”, a free 45-page download at the link.

If you’re wondering what The Fifth Season RPG is like, you can find out right now. We’ve got a free PDF Quickstart that has an introduction to the Stillness, basic rules to play, pre-generated characters, and a complete adventure. Reading it, or better yet playing it, will give the best introduction to what The Fifth Season RPG is all about…

(3) WHERE ARE THE WATCHMEN? “Doomsday Clock moves to 90 seconds to midnight, signaling more peril than ever” reports NPR.

The world is closer to catastrophe than ever: the Doomsday Clock, the metaphorical measure of challenges to humanity, was reset to 90 seconds before midnight on Tuesday.

The science and security board of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists said the move — the closest to widespread calamity humanity has ever been judged to be — was “largely, though not exclusively” due to the war in Ukraine.

The scientific body evaluates the clock each January. This is the first full update since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine began last February, triggering a war in Europe and a new flood of refugees….

(4) LIVE FROM DEVELOPMENT HELL. Eva Green was cast for A Patriot, a science fiction movie about “a Border Corps captain in an authoritarian futuristic state”, a movie that’s not getting made while she and the producers are suing each other: “‘Evil’, ‘peasants’ and ‘vomit’ – Eva Green’s WhatsApp messages exude star quality” in the Guardian.

A lot of Eva Green’s success is down to her sense of unknowable mystique. This is a woman who steers clear of the celebrity circuit, who isn’t given to blurting her every waking thought on social media. Interviewers perennially struggle to get to her core. Since her breakthrough in Bertolucci’s The Dreamers almost two decades ago, Green has preferred to let her work speak on behalf of her. She is an enigma, an image on a screen upon which we can project our own feelings.

Or at least she was, because loads of Eva Green’s WhatsApp messages have been read out in court, and hoo boy!

Let’s deal with the court case briefly. In 2019, Green signed up for A Patriot, a science fiction movie that would also star Charles Dance and Helen Hunt. The film – about a Border Corps captain in an authoritarian futuristic state – was never made. When the production hit the skids, Green sued producers for her £830,000 fee (almost a quarter of the film’s total budget). And this caused the producers to countersue, claiming that the reason the film was never made was because Eva Green tried to sabotage it. She argues that she did everything that she could to fulfil the terms of her contract and denies “in its entirety” the allegation that she did not want the project to succeed….

(5) ROOM FOR DOUBT. Call Lincoln Michel a skeptic: “Maybe the Book Doesn’t Need to Be ‘Disrupted’ in the First Place?” at Counter Craft.

…In the intervening years, I’ve seen countless versions of enhanced books hyped. Last year, there were articles about how “web 3” and crypto would completely change publishing by [something something string of jargon] block chain! All the magazines publishing daily articles on Web 3 and NFTs have stopped talking about them, seemingly in embarrassment as the crypto space has been exposed as a series of Ponzi schemes. (The crypto crowd is too busy focusing on “disrupting” the legal system to keep themselves out of jail to innovate the novel, I guess.) So naturally everyone who, last year, was declaring crypto would revolutionize every aspect of life have pivoted to saying “A.I.” will revolutionize every aspect of life. And, like the tweet above, that means lots of predictions about how the book will be disrupted. (Commenters to the above tweet also suggested putting books in the “metaverse” so you can “live” books instead of read them, whatever that means…)

I’m on the record as a bit of an “A.I” skeptic. And I’m putting A.I. in scare quotes because a computer program that spits out text it doesn’t understand is not an “intelligence” really. (Renaming “software” as “A.I.” was a very clever marketing coup. People freak out when they hear an “A.I.” did something like win a spelling bee even though no one would be terribly impressed to hear a computer program with a built-in dictionary did that.) …

(6) LIKE A VIRGIN. Leonard Maltin is ecstatic about “My First-Ever Oscar Vote”.

I’ve been watching the Oscars since I was a kid, and writing about them for decades, but this year I did something I never dreamt of during all that time: I cast a vote.

Last year, I was admitted to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, in the At-Large category. (There is no branch representing authors, critics, or preservationists.) As awards season began it dawned on me that I was actually going to participate in this year’s Oscars.

My invitation to vote came about two weeks ago, with a deadline of January 17. As I continued to catch up with foreign-language films, indies, and documentaries I put off voting until Monday, one full day before deadline. The deed didn’t take long, as I was only qualified to cast one vote: for Best Picture.

In the first stage of the awards process, members of the Academy’s branches determine the nominees in each specialized category. Only writers nominate writers, only makeup artists nominate makeup artists, and so on….

(7) FIVE TOP CATS. [Item by Nina Shepardson.] Tor.com has an article about cats in fantasy. Given that File770 has a feature called “Cats Sleep on SFF”, I figured Filers might be interested…. “Admiring Five of Fantasy’s Best Cats” by Cole Rush.

I’ve always thought cats are the perfect companion for the bookish. You never have to put down your book to take a cat for a walk. Instead, our feline friends will curl up on our laps while we dive into our latest fantasy obsessions, as though they’re tiny, fuzzy dragons lounging atop their hoard.

While I have nothing but love and respect for dogs—whether they’re real-life canines or fictional good boys—I feel a special kind of appreciation when a fantasy story contains a cat. Below, I’ll list five of my favorite fantasy felines and briefly discuss whether they’d make good real-world pets….

(8) MEMORY LANE.

2004 [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.] Medicine Road by Charles de Lint

Ok, I’ll admit, it is not about food, but it’s a bar which is sort of related to food, isn’t it? Ok I’m stretching things this time. I’ll admit though The Hole does have food and de Lint (with permission of course) borrowed it from Terri Windling’s The Wood Wife.

The quote this time is from Charles de Lint’s Medicine Road which involves the grown up versions of the Dillard Sisters who we last encountered in his children’s book, A Circle of Cats. Here they are folk singers touring the Southwest when they encounter the more mythic aspects of that region. 

Medicine Road was one of a series of shorter novels by de Lint that were  illustrated by Charles Vess which published by Subterranean Press. Seven Wild Sisters, in which we first met Bess and Laurel, who are another of his sister characters.  Both are lovely books as objects and damn fine reads as well. 

Here’s my chosen quote. 

We’d just finished playing our first set at the Hole, in Tucson, Arizona, and were getting ready to take our break. The place was properly called the Hole in the Wall, but when we asked directions to the Barrio Historica at the front desk of our hotel, the guy with the purple hair told us everyone just calls it the Hole. He also told us that it’s a pretty much a dive, but he should see the roadhouses back home in the Kickaha Mountains. This old adobe building, right on the edge of the barrio, is like a palace compared to some of the places we’ve played in Tyson County.

And it’s trés cool, as Frenchy’d say.

You come in off the street into a warren of rooms with saguaro rib ceilings, thick adobe walls, beautifully carved oak doors, and weathered wood plank floors. It smells of mesquite and beer, cigarette smoke and salsa. The band posters on the walls advertise everything from Tex-Mex and Cajun to bluegrass, reggae and plain old rock ‘n’ roll.

But the best part is that once you’ve threaded your way through the maze of little inner rooms you come out into a central courtyard, open to the sky. Clematis vines crawl up the walls. Mismatched tables are scattered across a cracked tile floor. And there, under the spreading branches of a mesquite tree, is the stage where we’ve been playing.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 24, 1911 C. L. Moore. Author and wife of Henry Kuttner until his death in 1958. Their collaboration resulted in such delightful works as “Mimsy Were the Borogoves” and “Vintage Season”, both of which were turned into films which weren’t as good as the stories. She had a strong writing career prior to her marriage as well with such fiction as “Shambleau” which involves her most famous character Northwest Smith. I’d also single out “Nymph of Darkness” which she wrote with Forrest J Ackerman. I’ll not overlook her Jirel of Joiry, one of the first female sword and sorcery characters, and the “Black God’s Kiss” story is the first tale she wrote of her adventures. She retired from writing genre fiction after Kuttner died, writing only scripts for writing episodes of SugarfootMaverickThe Alaskans and 77 Sunset Strip, in the late Fifties and early Sixties. Checking the usual suspects, Deversion Books offers a nearly eleven-hundred page collection of their fiction for a mere three bucks. (Died 1987.)
  • Born January 24, 1917 Ernest Borgnine. I think his first genre role was Al Martin in Willard but if y’all know of something earlier I’m sure you’ll tell me. He’s Harry Booth in The Black Hole, a film whose charms still escape me entirely. Next up for him is the cabbie in the superb Escape from New York. In the same year, he was nominated for a Razzie Award for Worst Supporting Actor as Isaiah Schmidt in the horror film Deadly Blessing. A few years late, he’s The Lion in a version of Alice in WonderlandMerlin’s Shop of Mystical Wonders is horror and his Grandfather isn’t that kindly. He voices Kip Killigan in Small Soldiers which I liked, and I think his last role was voicing Command in Enemy Mind. Series wise let’s see…  it’s possible that his first SF role was as Nargola on Captain Video and His Video Rangers way back in 1951. After that he shows up in, and I’ll just list the series for the sake of brevity, Get SmartFuture CopThe Ghost of Flight 401Airwolf where of course he’s regular cast, Treasure Island in Outer Space and Touched by an Angel. (Died 2012.)
  • Born January 24, 1937 Julie Gregg. A performer that showed up in a lot of SFF series though never in a primary role. She was in Batman: The Movie as a Nightclub Singer (uncredited) in her first genre role, followed by three appearances on the series itself, two as the Finella character; one-offs on I Dream of GenieBewitchedThe Flying NunMission: ImpossibleKolchak: The Night Stalker and Incredible Hulk followed. Her only lead role was as Maggie Spencer in Mobile One which can’t even be stretched to be considered genre adjacent. (Died 2016.)
  • Born January 24, 1941 Gary K. Wolf, 82. He is best known as the author of Who Censored Roger Rabbit? which was adapted into Who Framed Roger Rabbit. It bears very little resemblance to the film. Who P-P-P-Plugged Roger Rabbit? which was written later hews much closer to the characters and realties of the film. He has written a number of other novels such as Amityville House of Pancakes Vol 3 which I suggest you avoid at all costs. Yes they are that awful. 
  • Born January 24, 1944 David Gerrold, 79. Let’s see… He of course scripted the Hugo nominated “The Trouble With Tribbles” which I absolutely love, wrote the amazing patch-up novel When HARLIE Was One, has his ongoing War Against the Chtorr series and wrote, with Robert J. Sawyer, Boarding the Enterprise: Transporters, Tribbles, and the Vulcan Death Grip in Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek. Besides his work as a novel writer, he’s been a screenwriter for Star Trek, Star Trek: The Animated Series, Land of the Lost, Logan’s Run (the series), Superboy, Babylon 5, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Sliders, Star Trek New Voyages: Phase II, and Axanar. Very, very impressive.
  • Born January 24, 1949 John Belushi. No, he was not in a single SFF series or film that I can mention here though he did voice work on one such undertaking early in his career that I’ll not mention here as it’s clearly pornographic in nature. No, he’s here for his brilliant parody of Shatner as Captain Kirk which he did on Saturday Night Live which you can watch here. (Died 1982.)
  • Born January 24, 1984 Remi Ryan, 39. You most likely remember as her as ever-so-cute hacker urchin in RoboCop 3 who saves the day at the end of that film. She actually had her start in acting in Beauty and the Beast at four and was in The Flash a year later. At twelve, she’s in Mann & Machine. A year later is when she’s that urchin. Her last genre undertaking was in The Lost Room a decade ago and she retired from acting not long after.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • From Tom Gauld.

(11) JUST A SECOND. “Guns and Nonsense: Part 2” is today’s installment of Camestros Felapton’s analysis of Larry Correia’s newly released nonfiction book In Defense of the 2nd Amendment.

… It is reasonable to say that Larry Correia uses biting sarcasm, opinions differ on whether his wit is incisive and I’ve always found that what logic he uses is supremely vincible. Maybe that’s me. However, [Nick] Searcy [author of the Foreword] does focus on the central quality of Correia’s approach to examining topics of the day: mockery. Michael Moore is a large man and hence somebody who can be mocked and once mocked his opinions can be dismissed. In reality, Moore is far from infallible and his documentaries are far from flawless but engaging with them takes effort and it is so much easier to make a quick dig about over-eating and be done.

Mockery is a recurring rhetorical device in Correia’s style of argumentation and it is what his readership enjoys. He does attempt some arguments of substance but the overall thrust of his approach is not to show that an opinion is incorrect but that it is an opinion that can be mocked or dismissed. To this extent, Searcy is accurately getting to the guts of this book. The point is not to show gun control adherents as wrong but as foolish and contemptible….

(12) I SING THE LYRIC ELECTRIC. Rich Lynch took ChatGPT for a “test drive” and sent File 770 a screencap of the results.

(13) DOWNLOAD THE BIG BUCKS. Meanwhile, Microsoft has moved from the test drive stage to the heavy investor stage. “Microsoft to Invest $10 Billion in OpenAI, the Creator of ChatGPT” reports the New York Times.

Microsoft said on Monday that it was making a “multiyear, multibillion-dollar” investment in OpenAI, the San Francisco artificial intelligence lab behind the experimental online chatbot ChatGPT.

The companies did not disclose the specific financial terms of the deal, but a person familiar with the matter said Microsoft would invest $10 billion in OpenAI.

Microsoft had already invested more than $3 billion in OpenAI, and the new deal is a clear indication of the importance of OpenAI’s technology to the future of Microsoft and its competition with other big tech companies like Google, Meta and Apple.

With Microsoft’s deep pockets and OpenAI’s cutting-edge artificial intelligence, the companies hope to remain at the forefront of generative artificial intelligence — technologies that can generate text, images and other media in response to short prompts. After its surprise release at the end of November, ChatGPT — a chatbot that answers questions in clear, well-punctuated prose — became the symbol of a new and more powerful wave of A.I….

(14) DRONES SHOT DOWN? “Amazon drone unit hit with layoffs as long-awaited program launches”CNBC has the story.

In 2013, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos appeared on CBS’ “60 Minutes” to reveal a futuristic plan his company had been secretly pursuing to deliver packages by drone in 30 minutes. 

A pre-recorded demo showed an Amazon-branded “octocopter” carrying a small package off a conveyor belt and into the skies to a customer’s home, landing smoothly in the backyard, dropping off the item and then whizzing away. Bezos predicted a fleet of Amazon drones could take to the skies within five years and said, “it’s going to be a lot of fun.”

A decade later, Amazon is finally starting to launch drone deliveries in two small markets through a program called Prime Air. But just as it’s finally getting off the ground, the drone program is running squarely into a sputtering economy and CEO Andy Jassy’s widespread cost-cutting efforts.

CNBC has learned that, as part of Amazon’s plan to slash 18,000 jobs, its biggest headcount reduction in history, Prime Air is losing a significant number of employees…. 

(15) GOOD DEED FOR THE DAY. Ready to move on from fandom? This sounds like a great substitute. “A ‘Big Night’ for Newts, and for a California Newt Brigade” in the New York Times.

…What the newts need now is a safe way to get to their rendezvous points. In many places, busy roads lie between newts and their breeding grounds. In Petaluma and other parts of the San Francisco Bay Area, thousands of newts are killed by cars each year as they try to cross these roads. The carnage in Petaluma is so severe that a group of local residents has taken it upon themselves to stop it.

For the past four years, volunteers have spent their winter nights shepherding newts across a one-mile stretch of Chileno Valley Road, a winding country road in the hills of Petaluma. They call themselves the Chileno Valley Newt Brigade, and their founder, Sally Gale, says they will keep showing up until the newts no longer need them.

On a warm, wet evening in early December, Ms. Gale and her fellow brigaders gathered to do what they do best: save newts. Wearing reflective vests and armed with flashlights and buckets, Ms. Gale and her brigaders split up into groups and began scouring Chileno Valley Road. The conditions were perfect for newts. It had just rained and the temperature was a brisk 55 degrees.

“That’s their sweet spot,” Ms. Gale said.

…On busy nights, as many as 24 volunteers gather on the road to spend their evening shepherding newts to safety.

“It’s such a huge cross-section of people, and we haven’t met a bad one yet,” said Katie Brammer, a graphic designer and newt brigade captain. Among her fellow volunteers are schoolteachers, students, naturalists, business owners and retirees.

Ms. Brammer and her husband, Rick Stubblefield, have been newt brigade captains for just over a year. They say it’s the charisma of the newts that got them hooked on helping.

“California newts are quite endearing,” Ms. Brammer said. “They hold onto your hand as you’re carrying them across the road.”…

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. This has been out for awhile, however, it may not have been linked here before. “Marvel Studios’ Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania”. To be released February 17.

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

Pixel Scroll 1/17/23 A Stone Soup Of Pixels Served Up With Buttered Toasted Scrolls

(1) PLAYING THE TRUMPS. “Stephen Colbert to Produce ‘Chronicles of Amber’ TV Series Adaptation” reports Variety.

Stephen Colbert is joining the team that is adapting Roger Zelazny’s “The Chronicles of Amber” for television [under his Spartina production banner].

… “George R.R. Martin and I have similar dreams,” Colbert said. “I’ve carried the story of Corwin in my head for over 40 years, and I’m thrilled to partner with Skybound and Vincent Newman to bring these worlds to life. All roads lead to Amber, and I’m happy to be walking them.”

“The Chronicles of Amber” follows the story of Corwin, who is said to “awaken on Earth with no memory, but soon finds he is a prince of a royal family that has the ability to travel through different dimensions of reality (called ‘shadows’) and rules over the one true world, Amber.”…

(2) MORE LORE. Season 3 of The Mandalorian airs 3 March 1 on Disney+.

The journeys of the Mandalorian through the Star Wars galaxy continue. Once a lone bounty hunter, Din Djarin has reunited with Grogu. Meanwhile, the New Republic struggles to lead the galaxy away from its dark history. The Mandalorian will cross paths with old allies and make new enemies as he and Grogu continue their journey together.

And according to Dark Horizons:

…A fourth season of the series is already in development, whilst this arrives ahead of both “Star Wars: Ahsoka” and “Star Wars: Skeleton Crew”, both due to arrive on the Disney+ service later this year. Filming on “Star Wars: The Acolyte” and a second season of “Star Wars: Andor” are both underway in the UK at present….

(3) SIMULTANEOUS TIMES. Simultaneous Times SF podcast episode 59 has been released. Listen to it here. Stories featured in this episode:

  • “Three to Go” by Ria Rees. Music by Phog Masheeen. Read by Jean-Paul Garnier 
  • “Ghosts” by Michael Butterworth. Music by Julie Carpenter. Read by the author.

Simultaneous Times is a monthly science fiction podcast produced by Space Cowboy Books in Joshua Tree, CA.

(4) FIFTIETH DAY OF HARPERCOLLINS STRIKE TOMORROW. Supporters of the strike against HarperCollins will rally January 18. Publishers Weekly has details: “HarperCollins Union Plans Rally at News Corp Offices in Manhattan”.

As unionized employees at HarperCollins Publishers prepare to mark their 50th day on strike next week, union representatives announced that a rally is planned outside the publisher’s parent company, News Corp, in Manhattan at 12:30 p.m. on January 18. Since November 10 of last year, labor negotiations between the union and company executives have been stalled, and union representatives are hoping to put pressure on the publisher to return to the bargaining table.

Local 2110 of the UAW represents more than 250 HarperCollins employees in editorial, sales, publicity, design, legal, and marketing departments. Union representatives said negotiations have stalled over higher pay, a greater commitment to diversifying staff, and stronger union protection. Negotiations started in December 2021 and unionized employees have been working without a contract since April 2022….

(5) WRITE WHAT YOU KNOW, THEY SAY. [Item by Bill Higgins.] Kenneth Hite, a Chicago author, game designer, and podcaster, was shot in the leg last week by armed robbers near his Hyde Park home.  Fortunately, he’s going to be fine.  Furthermore, he sold an account of the experience to the UK magazine The Spectator.  Because Ken Hite is a true professional. “Trigger warning: how it feels to get shot”.

… But at 3.10 a.m. on Friday, I was walking home from a late-night writing session at a colleague’s apartment a block from my house. (I work as a games designer.) A car pulled up, and two guys with guns jumped out and aggressively requested my 2014 MacBook Air.

I wish I could say I carefully considered whether my life was worth more than a nine-year-old computer and (more importantly) a manuscript I hadn’t backed up, but I acted without thinking and ran. After six or seven shots, I felt a hard thump on the back of my right calf. Then the two geniuses remembered that stuff about the third-largest armed force in Illinois, jumped back into their car and tore off. I counted my blessings and let myself into my house.

It was then that I noticed an awful lot of blood on the floor around my foot. The gunshots had, it turned out, awakened my wife Sheila, who wondered if I knew what had happened. Suddenly I did. ‘I’ve been shot in the leg,’ I told her. She called 911 and both sets of police – University of Chicago and Chicago Police Department – showed up almost immediately. In between questions, one of the cops put a tourniquet on my leg. I’ve heard since that if the tourniquet doesn’t hurt more than the bullet wound, it’s not on tight enough. This one was on tight enough….

(6) COVID STALKS AWARDS SHOWS. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Following the Golden Globe Awards, several celebrities (including some particularly big names) tested positive for COVID. Apparently in response, the Critics Choice Awards instituted a COVID test policy. “Several celebrities test positive for COVID after Golden Globes” at ABC News.

In the wake of the Golden Globes last week, several celebrities said they have tested positive for COVID-19.

At least four stars, including Jamie Lee Curtis and Michelle Pfeiffer, revealed they contracted the virus following the awards show.

In response, the Critics Choice Awards, which was held on Sunday, announced that all attendees would be required to submit a negative COVID-19 test before entering the venue, according to Deadline.

Public health experts said the news of actors and actresses falling ill is not surprising due to the relaxed regulations and people gathering indoors.

(7) MEMORY LANE.

1992 [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]  Mexican food liked you’ve dreamed of

Tonight’s essay concerns Laura Esquivel’s Like Water for Chocolate: A Novel in Monthly Installments with Recipes, Romances, and Home Remedies. It was published by Doubleday in Mexico in 1992 as Como agua para chocolate.  Yes, the English language title is a lot longer.

Perfection Learning published the first edition in 1995. The film actually came out here in 1993 before the book was published here because though shot in Mexico, it had simultaneous English and Spanish language versions. 

So let’s talk about the book. And a magical book it is. Even in the English translation! The original Spanish version, Como agua para chocolat, was the top-selling book in Mexico in 1990. As a work of Latin magical realism, it can’t be topped by any other work to date. I unfortunately don’t know Spanish so I read the English translation which is quite excellent.

Now it’s here because a recurring theme of both the book and the film that came out is is food, which is used to represent all aspects of the vibrant, if troubled, Mexican culture. Hardly a scene goes by without someone eating or preparing a meal, and some of the more tasty chapters/scenes involve truly awesome banquets. Both in the book and in the film, there’s a real feeling that food is more than just something one eats. Food here is a celebration of the helix of life and death, of consuming and being consumed.

It’s is possibly the most erotic film ever made. Truly it is. Even the baking of bread becomes an act of eros. 

Now here’s an exquisite example of the food scenes herein

She felt so lost and lonely. One last chile in walnut sauce left on the platter after a fancy dinner couldn’t feel any worse than she did. How many times had she eaten one of those treats, standing by herself in the kitchen, rather than let it be thrown away. When nobody eats the last chile on the plate, it’s usually because none of them wants to look like a glutton, so even though they’d really like to devour it, they don’t have the nerve to take it. It was as if they were rejecting that stuffed pepper, which contains every imaginable flavor; sweet as candied citron, juicy as pomegranate, with the bit of pepper and the subtlety of walnuts, that marvelous chile in the walnut sauce. Within it lies the secret of love, but it will never be penetrated, and all because it wouldn’t feel proper.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 17, 1899 Nevil Shute. Author of On the Beach. It originally appeared as a four-part series, The Last Days on Earth, in the London weekly Sunday Graphic in April 1957. It was twice a film. He has other SF novels including An Old Captivity which involves time travel and No Highway which gets a review by Pohl in Super Science Stories, April 1949. There’s In the Wet and Vinland the Good as well. (Died 1960.)
  • Born January 17, 1910 Carol Hughes. Genre fans will no doubt best recognize her as Dale Arden in Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe from sixty years ago. Other than The Red Dragon, a Charlie Chan film done in the Forties if I remember correctly, I’m not seeing anything that’s even genre adjacent for her though I’m assuming that the Fifties Ghost Buster short she was in should be a genre production. (Died 1995.)
  • Born January 17, 1927 Eartha Kitt. Though you’ll have lots of folks remembering her as Catwoman from the original Batman, she appeared in but four episodes there. Genre wise, she was in such series as I-SpyMission: ImpossibleMatrix, the animated Space Ghost Coast to Coast and the animated My Life as a Teenage Robot. Film wise, she played Freya in Erik the Viking, voiced Bagheera in The Jungle Book: Mowgli’s Story and was Madame Zeroni In Holes.(Died 2008.)
  • Born January 17, 1931 James Earl Jones, 92. His first SF appearance was in Dr. Strangelove as Lt. Lothar Zogg.  And I think I need not list all his appearances as Darth Vader here. Some genre appearances include Exorcist II: The HereticThe Flight of DragonsConan the Barbarian as Thulsa Doom and I actually remember him in that role, Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold, did you know the 1995 Judge Dredd had a Narrator? Well he’s listed as doing it, and Fantasia 2000 as well. In 2022, his voice was used via software for Darth Vader in the Obi-Wan KenobiDisney+ miniseries. Jones signed a deal with Lucasfilm authorizing archival recordings of his voice to be used in the future to artificially generate the voice of Darth Vader. Jones said later that all Vader voicing would using AI software. 
  • Born January 17, 1935 Paul O. Williams. A poet won the Astounding Award for Best New Writer in 1983 after publishing The Breaking of Northwall and The Ends of the Circle which are the first two novels of his Pelbar Cycle. I’ve not read these, so be interested in your opinions, of course. (Died 2009.)
  • Born January 17, 1962 Jim Carrey, 61. His first genre film is Once Bitten whose content is obvious from its name. The ‘dorable Earth Girls Are Easy was next followed up by Batman Forever in which he played a manic Riddler, then there’s the The Truman Show which stretches genre boundaries I think. May we not talk about How the Grinch Stole Christmas? And is Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind genre?,  who’s seen Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events?, Horton Hears a Who! (FUN!), A Christmas Carol  of which I know nothing, Mr. Popper’s Penguins (well it sounds cute) and, I’m not you, Sonic the Hedgehog. Busy, isn’t he?
  • Born January 17, 1970 Genndy Tartakovsky, 53. Like Romulan Ale, animation style is a matter of taste. So while I like his work on Samurai Jack and Star Wars: Clone Wars, I can understand why many SW fans don’t as it’s definitely an acquired taste.  He also is responsible for directing the animated Hotel Transylvania franchise. 

(9) THE SKY’S THE LIMIT. “Should We Block the Sun to Counter Climate Change?” – an opinion piece in the New York Times.

Last month, a two-person start-up company by the name of Make Sunsets claimed that it had launched weather balloons filled with reflective sulfur particles into the sky somewhere over the coast of Baja California. More provocation than experiment, the launch was a first-of-its-kind field test of a climate intervention known as geoengineering: a branch of speculative technology that promises to counteract and even reverse global warming by altering Earth’s atmosphere.

Long a taboo idea among climate experts thought too dangerous even to research, geoengineering is becoming increasingly mainstream. In 2019, Congress gave the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration $4 million to research techniques like the one Make Sunsets just tested, and it has since drawn interest from the Biden administration.

As the world continues to fall short of the goals of the Paris agreement and the costs of climate change mount, is geoengineering an idea worth taking seriously, or is it a world-historically reckless distraction from the global effort to transition away from fossil fuels? Here’s a look at the debate….

(10) A CELLER’S MARKET. [Item by Christian Brunschen.] A company literally calling themselves “SciFi Foods” are using CRISPR gene editing to develop “scalable beef cell lines” for cultivation — with the CEO claiming inspiration from Ian M. Banks’ The Player of Games. (They’re by far not the only cultivated-meat company out there of course.) “The first CRISPR gene-edited meat is coming. This is the CEO making sci-fi a reality” at Fast Company.

…Cost parity with traditional meat is every founder’s goal, one that sets a seemingly unattainable target. (In 2022, the average price of ground beef was $4.81/lb.) SciFi is betting that the only way to economically scale cultivated meat is with CRISPR, and that by making iterative tweaks they can create dependable cell lines with rich, meat-y flavor. “We have an eventual target of $1 per burger at commercial scale,” March says.

Once harvested, beef cells will be formulated into a blended burger that is mostly like the plant-based burgers you may already know—soy protein and coconut oil. SciFi’s secret sauce is adding a small percentage of SciFi cells (5% to 20%, according to March) to reward our taste buds with the beef-y notes we may think are missing from competitors like Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat. Blood-quickening, salivatory, tempting….

(11) TRIVIAL TRIVIA. The TV adaptation of a Ray Bradbury story, “The Electric Grandmother”, first aired on this day in 1982.

(12) EXTRA CREDIT. Mel Brooks’ History of the World Part 2, “A sequel 40 years in the making.” A four-night event, streaming March 6 on Hulu. John King Tarpinian declares, “I can hardly wait.”

(13) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Honest Trailers — Demolition Man” sends up another Sylvester Stallone science ficton movie.

…One of the few R-rated action sci-fi films that’s remembered more for its clever writing than its shootouts. But kids today will never understand the significance of this movie just like my ex-wife will never understand the significance of the John Spartan mannequin I bought from a Planet Hollywood estate sale….

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, Christian Brunschen, Bill Higgins, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Cat Eldridge.]

Pixel Scroll 12/6/22 But Here’s My Pixel, So Scroll Me, Maybe?

(1) HARPERCOLLINS STRIKE NEWS. HarperCollins president and CEO Brian Murray, in “An Open Letter to Authors and Agents”, today addressed the company’s stalled negotiations with the United Auto Workers union which represents employees whose strike is now in its 19th day.

… Our current compensation offerings are consistent with our peers in the publishing industry. During recent negotiations, we proposed a fair and reasonable pay structure, including increases to entry level salaries. Based on publicly available information, HarperCollins’s proposed compensation increases would provide for a higher starting salary than any other major New York publisher. As well, we offer a minimum of six and a half weeks paid time off for all full-time employees (increasing with tenure), four “work from anywhere” weeks, overtime pay for those qualifying, and generous health and wellness benefits.

As with the entire industry, HarperCollins continues to contend with ongoing challenges to publishing and its underlying economics. The financial requests made by United Auto Workers, which are many and far reaching, fail to account for the market dynamics of the publishing industry and our responsibility to meet the financial demands of all our business stakeholders—including all employees, authors, and booksellers….

(2) PICKETER SPEAKS. Striking HarperCollins employee Rye White tells readers what’s going on in “HarperCollins Strike Dispatch” at N+1.

… Leading up to this year’s strike, the anxiety and frustration from union members toward the company was palpable even over video meetings and emails. HarperCollins still largely operates remotely (although good old Brian has since issued a mandate to change this), and it’s generally difficult when you work from your own living space to feel fully connected to the whole. Many people, myself included, are pandemic hires. We’ve seldom, if ever, actually come down to work in the office. Even so, our union’s organizing committee met with nearly every individual member for one-on-one chats about questions and concerns, and we were greeted with an enormous amount of careful consideration. What do we do if bosses pressure us to write out instructions for how to handle our everyday tasks? What will happen to our authors? Each of us understood the power in this decision. When it came time to vote, out of 200 or so members, more than 190 voted to authorize.

The first two days of the strike, we asked anyone who could make the commute to come down to 195 Broadway for maximum turnout and maximum noise. In the last two weeks, I’ve met many of my coworkers for the first time, put faces to names I’d only ever seen over email, and have learned about many people’s personal struggles and motivations and frustrations. “I feel closer to you all than ever before,” one picket captain noted in a recent weekly debrief meeting. “This is definitely a weird time, but I feel the camaraderie and it’s really meaningful.”…

(3) AUREALIS AWARDS. The deadline for entering work for the Aurealis Awards, Australia’s premier speculative fiction awards, is December 14.

All work published (or planned for publication) between January 1 and December 31, 2022 needs to be entered by this deadline. Enter your Australian speculative fiction work in the Aurealis Awards here.

(4) IN FRIGHTENING TECHNICOLOR. Headlining “Heritage’s Most Star-Studded Entertainment Auction Ever” is “The Wicked Witch of the West Hourglass — the Most Famous and Recognizable Timepiece in Film History.” They’re looking for an opening bid of $400,000.

….Three decades since it was last offered at auction, and after years of being displayed in myriad museums and traveling exhibitions – including Los Angeles Public Library’s Getty Gallery – it’s time once again for The Wicked Witch of the West’s hourglass to return to market. This meticulously constructed piece – made of wood, papier-mâché and handblown glass filled with red glitter and decorated with gargoyles keeping watch over the witch’s castle – is perhaps the most recognizable timepiece in cinema history. It is the very instrument the Wicked Witch uses to count down the moments Dorothy has to live – a beautiful thing no matter the moment, and forever linked to some of our earliest Technicolor nightmares.

The hourglass, which stands nearly two feet tall, was first available as part of MGM’s landmark 1970 auction, among “the things dreams were once made of.” The studio actually reused the prop a handful of times after its appearance in Oz, including in 1941’s Babes on Broadway – starring, amazingly enough, Judy Garland alongside Mickey Rooney in the Busby Berkeley-directed “Backyard Musical” (with Vincente Minnelli helming his wife’s sequences)….

(5) RAY BRADBURY SQUARE. Ten years ago today the intersection near L.A. library was named for Ray Bradbury. Read all about it in John King Tarpinian’s 2012 post “A Wonderful Day in the Neighborhood”. Plus photos, including this one of the official sign.

(6) MEMORY LANE.

1938 [By Cat Eldridge.] Mother Goose in Central Park

Continuing our exploration of characters from the fantasy genre is our look at the Mother Goose statue in Central Park.

The figure of Mother Goose is the imaginary author of a collection of French fairy tales and later of English nursery rhymes. Mother Goose in English dates back to the early Eighteenth Century, when Charles Perrault’s Contes de ma Mère l’Oye fairy tale collection was first translated into English as Tales of My Mother Goose. English writers quickly created their own collections of Mother Goose tales.

This granite statue by Frederick Roth, installed at the entrance to Rumsey Playfield in Central Park in 1938, shows a woman flying atop a goose. She has a pointy hat, purse, cloak, buckled shoe, and one very unhappy-looking cat riding the clouds.

Several other nursery rhyme characters are carved into its sides from five of the Mother Goose stories — Humpty Dumpty, Old King Cole, Little Jack Horner, Mother Hubbard, and Mary and her little lamb. I’m only going to show you the flying woman atop a goose and the cat as I think it’s the best part of the statue.

The Park went on to commission two more such statues, Alice in Wonderland and Hans Christian Andersen and the Ugly Duckling.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 6, 1893 Sylvia Townsend Warner. Do yourself a favor and look up a bio of her as she’s a fascinating person. This lovely site is a good place to do so. Her first novel, Lolly Willowes or, The Loving Huntsman, is definitely genre. ISFDB lists four genre collections by her. Kingdoms of Elfin is available on on Kindle Kindle, Lolly Willowes everywhere the usual suspects are. (Died 1978.)
  • Born December 6, 1900 Agnes Moorehead. I’m assuming that the statute of limitations for spoilers has long passed on this particular show. I’m referring to The Twilight Zone episode “The Invaders” in which she never spoke a word as she fought off the tiny Invaders, human astronauts, and she a giant alien. Written especially for her by Richard Matheson. (Died 1974.)
  • Born December 6, 1924 Wally Cox. Ok, who can resist the voice of the Underdog series which ran from 1964 to 1967? I certainly can’t. He was in Babes in ToylandThe Twilight ZoneMission: ImpossibleLost in SpaceGet SmartThe Girl from U.N.C.L.E.QuarantinedNight Gallery and Once Upon a Mattress. Warning: anything with him in it on YouTube or Vimeo is still under copyright so please don’t link to it. (Died 1973.)
  • Born December 6, 1953 Tom Hulce, 69. Oscar-nominated screen and stage actor and producer. His first genre role was in a highly-praised performance as the lead in the American Playhouse broadcast of The Rise and Rise of Daniel Rocket, about a young boy who discovers that he can fly. Although the bulk of his career has been in the theater, his most notable genre film role was as Henry Clerval in Kenneth Branagh’s Saturn-nominated Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. He was nominated for an Annie Award for his voice performance of Quasimodo in Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and appeared in the films Stranger than Fiction and Jumper.
  • Born December 6, 1957 Arabella Weir, 65. A performer with two Who appearances, the first in “Exile,” a Big Finish audio, released in 2003. Almost a decade later Weir appeared on screen as Billis in “The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe”, a superb Eleventh Doctor story. She’s had one-offs on genre and genre adjacent series such as Shades of DarknessGenie in the HouseRandall & Hopkirk (Deceased) and even a genre adjacent Midsomer Murders
  • Born December 6, 1962 Colin Salmon, 60. Definitely best known for his role as Charles Robinson in the Bond films Tomorrow Never DiesThe World Is Not Enough and Die Another Day. He played Dr. Moon in “Silence in the Library” and “Forest of the Dead”, Tenth Doctor stories, and was Walter Steele on Arrow. He most recently played General Zod on Krypton He was, alas, Ben in that clunker of films, Mortal Engines.
  • Born December 6, 1969 Torri Higginson, 53. I had forgotten that she had a role in the TekWar movies and series as Beth Kittridge. I like that series a lot. Of course, she portrayed Dr. Elizabeth Weir in one episode of Stargate SG-1 and the entire Stargate Atlantis series. Her most recent genre roles was as Dr. Michelle Kessler in Inhuman Condition, where she plays a therapist who focuses on supernatural patients, and Commander Delaney Truffault in the Dark Matter series. 

(8) COMIC SECTION.

  • Sure, Thanksgiving is over, but Herman has another reason not to decorate for Christmas yet.

(9) REALITY OVERTAKES SCIENCE FICTION. ScreenRant lists “10 Pieces Of Technology Where Reality Did Better Than The Movies, According To Reddit”.

It’s been over half a century since science fiction’s golden age of the ’60s and ’70s, and a lot of the movie technology that initially seemed advanced at the time now seems woefully out of date. Today’s reality has surpassed what was once thought of as science fiction and Redditors have come together to discuss some of the examples they think are the most blatant…

For one example:

User Interface

User interface is one of the most complicated fields in technology. They can often be visually striking, but they’re chiefly made to be easily navigated. Movies don’t really get this. As Redditor YZJay comments, UI shown in movies is “hilariously unusable in terms of design, low contrast, weak indicators of what are interactive, waaaay too much animations etc.”

UI in movies animate far too much to be useful, and they have too many transitions and sparkly effects. As mentioned, ease of navigation is the priority and the UI in movies is usually way too complicated or patience-testing to use. It makes one thankful for more basic, minimalist designs.

(10) SHRUNKEN EDS. Open Culture remembers “The Fiske Reading Machine: The 1920s Precursor to the Kindle”.

The Sony Librie, the first e-reader to use a modern electronic-paper screen, came out in 2004. Old as that is in tech years, the basic idea of a handheld device that can store large amounts of text stretches at least eight decades farther back in history. Witness the Fiske Reading Machine, an invention first profiled in a 1922 issue of Scientific American. “The instrument, consisting of a tiny lens and a small roller for operating this eyepiece up and down a vertical column of reading-matter, is a means by which ordinary typewritten copy, when photographically reduced to one-hundredth of the space originally occupied, can be read with quite the facility that the impression of conventional printing type is now revealed to the unaided eye,” writes author S. R. Winters.

Making books compatible with the Fiske Reading Machine involved not digitization, of course, but miniaturization. According to the patents filed by inventor Bradley Allen Fiske (eleven in all, between 1920 and 1935), the text of any book could be photo-engraved onto a copper block, reduced ten times in the process, and then printed onto strips of paper for use in the machine, which would make them readable again through a magnifying lens….. 

(11) WILL WORK FOR APPLAUSE. Here’s what we’ve got to have: “Star Wars (‘The Mandalorian’) The Child Talking Clapper with Night Light”. (See video demo on YouTube.)

From Star Wars Mandalorian it’s The Child Clapper with Night Light! Known as “Baby Yoda” to fans, The Child Clapper is the cutest way to operate an appliance with two claps. Clap 3 times to turn on the night light and hear quotes from the show. Hear, “The kid is coming with me” when the night light is turned on and “Come on baby, do the magic hand thing” when it’s turned off. 

(12) THE HOLE WORLD IN HIS HANDS. “Physicists Create ‘the Smallest, Crummiest Wormhole You Can Imagine’” for reasons explained by the New York Times. It’s a simulation, not the real thing, however.

…In their report, published Wednesday in Nature, the researchers described the result in measured words: “This work is a successful attempt at observing traversable wormhole dynamics in an experimental setting.”

… The wormhole that Dr. Spiropulu and her colleagues created and exploited is not a tunnel through real physical space but rather through an “emergent” two-dimensional space. The “black holes” were not real ones that could swallow the computer but lines of code in a quantum computer. Strictly speaking, the results apply only to a simplified “toy model” of a universe — in particular, one that is akin to a hologram, with quantum fields on the edge of space-time determining what happens within, sort of in the way that the label on a soup can describes the contents….

(13) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Emergency Awesome delivers a “Guardians Of The Galaxy Holiday Special FULL Breakdown, Marvel Easter Eggs and Things You Missed”.

The special went live (on Disney+) during Thanksgiving weekend. Daniel Dern says, “We finally watched it last night; a lotta fun. It’s also worthwhile to then watch one of the ‘abouts’ for more on the lesser-known characters, in-jokes, cameos, and implications for the Marvel movie universe.”

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Daniel Dern, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]

Pixel Scroll 11/11/22 There Was A Filer Who Had A Blog, And Pixel Was Its Name-O

(1) LAW ENFORCEMENT ACTIVITY NEARBY AS WINDYCON BEGINS. [Item by Steven H Silver.] This year’s Windycon [in the Chicago area] started out in an interesting way.  A police presence in the inside of the ring access road due to a high-speed chase and a search for bullet casings.  Never good to see helicopter views of the building your con is in.  Some inconvenience to members getting in and out of the parking lot, but otherwise no real impact.

File 770 located a brief video report here: “Lombard police investigating report of shots fired at Yorktown Shopping Center”.

(2) VONNEGUT CENTENARY. “100 years after his birth, Kurt Vonnegut is more relevant than ever to science” asserts Science.

…As a philosopher, Vonnegut was no stranger to science. Under pressure from his brother, a renowned atmospheric chemist, he studied biochemistry at Cornell University in the 1940s before dropping out and enlisting in the Army during World War II. He later worked as an institutional writer for General Electric and, until his death in 2007, said he spent more time in the company of scientists than of writers.

Perhaps that’s why, beneath his persistent skepticism about science, there was always a deep appreciation for its potential. In the novel Cat’s Cradle, for instance, a dictator on the brink of death urges his people to embrace science over religion because “science is magic that works.” Even within ultimately dystopian tales, “you can see a sort of romanticization of the scientific endeavor,” says David Koepsell, a philosopher of science and technology at Texas A&M University, College Station….

(3) E.T. FOR SALE. The “Icons & Idols: Hollywood” auction presented by Julien’s Auctions and Turner Classic Movies will feature this high ticket headliner: the E.T. filming model.

Headlining this epic event is the E.T. the Extra Terrestrial Hero “#1” Mechatronic filming model “actor” that brought the eponymous character to life in Steven Spielberg’s 1982 classic E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (estimate: $2,000,000 – $3,000,000). Pre-dating modern CGI technology and effects, this one-of-a-kind cinematographic relic (constructed in 1981) features 85 points of movement and is regarded as an engineering masterpiece.

“Carlo Rambaldi was E.T.’s Geppetto.” – Steven Spielberg

Created by “The Father of E.T.,” Carlo Rambaldi was an Italian special effects master, designer and mechatronics expert best known for his work on King Kong (Paramount Pictures, 1976), Alien (20th Century Fox, 1979), Close Encounters of the Third Kind (Columbia Pictures, 1977), Dune (Universal Pictures/DDL Corp. 1984), and E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

(4) GOLDSMITHS PRIZE. The 2022 winner of the Goldsmiths Prize is the non-genre novel Diego Garcia by Natasha Soobramanien and Luke Williams.

It won out over five other works on the shortlist, which included two of genre interest, Maps of Our Spectacular Bodies by Maddie Mortimer (Picador) and Peaces by Helen Oyeyemi (Faber).

(5) THE BIG SQUEEZE. Dave Doering was left scratching his head after reading the plug for “BookyCon 2022: A Mega Meta Book Festival”.

You up for the world’s largest virtual book festival? 
Reserve your ticket here! (Space is limited)

(6) KEVIN CONROY (1955-2022). Kevin Conroy, longtime voice of the animated Batman, died November 10 at the age of 66. Deadline says he reportedly had been battling cancer:

… An actor with credits on stage, television and film, Conroy became a premier voice actor as the title character of Batman: The Animated Series (1992-96). He’d eventually give voice to the Dark Knight in nearly 60 different productions, including 15 films and more than 15 animated series spanning nearly 400 episodes and more than 100 hours of television.

Conroy also voiced Batman in dozens of video games and was featured as a live-action Bruce Wayne in the Arrowverse’s 2019-20 “Crisis on Infinite Earths” crossover event.

“Kevin was perfection,” said Mark Hamill, who voiced the Joker opposite Conroy’s Batman. “He was one of my favorite people on the planet, and I loved him like a brother. He truly cared for the people around him – his decency shone through everything he did. Every time I saw him or spoke with him, my spirits were elevated.”…

(7) MEMORY LANE.

1946 [By Cat Eldridge.] Molle’ Mystery Theatre’s “Come Back to Me” (1946)

This May 17, 1946 radio show is an adaption of Ray Bradbury’s story, “Killer, Come Back to Me” which was published two years earlier in  the July 1944 issue of Detective Tales. It was adapted for radio by Joseph Ruskall.

It was a fairly meaty story at twenty pages when published in Detective Tales.  It was in three parts, the first of which describes Julie, a stereotypical Forties femme fatale who it turn out is anything but not, and Broghman, a young man who conducts a robbery alone and then finds himself now allied with her. Or so he thinks.

The second part of this story is about the dealings of a Los Angeles crime syndicate Angeles and Broghman’s realization that he is not afraid of them; while the third part is at a meeting between him and the head of the syndicate, who naturally thinks of his thugs as “respectable businessmen” which they are most decidedly not. 

The primary actors here were Richard Widmark and Alice Reinhart in the lead roles. Widmark as one site put it has “the leading role of a cheap hoodlum with delusions of grandeur who assumes the role of a dead gangster while taking up with the crook’s delusional girlfriend.” Alice Reinhart Is Julie, that femme fatale and really delusional girlfriend.

Mollé Mystery Theatre was a thirty-minute radio program that ran from 1943 to 1948 on the NBC network before moving to the CBS network where the show became only the stories of Inspector Hearthstone. It would end its run on the ABC network.  The show was sponsored first by Sterling Drugs, manufacturers of Mollé Brushless Shaving Cream, hence the name. When it was not sponsored by Mollé, the program was called Mystery Theater.

Of its estimated 237 episodes, only 73 are known to be still in circulation.

You can hear it thisaway.

The original story is collected in, not at all surprisingly, Killer, Come Back to Me: The Crime Stories of Ray Bradbury which is published by Titan Books. It’s available from the usual suspects. 

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 11, 1922 Kurt Vonnegut Jr. The Sirens of Titan was his first SF novel followed by Cat’s Cradle which after turning down his original thesis in 1947, the University of Chicago awarded him his master’s degree in anthropology in 1971 for this novel. Next was Slaughterhouse-Five, or The Children’s Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death which is one weird book and an even stranger film. It was nominated for best novel Nebula and Hugo Awards but lost both to Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness. I’m fairly sure Breakfast of Champions, or Goodbye Blue Monday is his last genre novel there’s a lot of short fiction where something of a genre nature might have occurred. (Died 2007.)
  • Born November 11, 1916 Donald Franson. Longtime fan who lived most of his life in LA. Was active in the N3F and LASFS including serving as the secretary for years and was a member of the Neffer Amateur Press Alliance.  Author of A Key to the Terminology of Science-Fiction Fandom. Also wrote A History of the Hugo, Nebula, and International Fantasy Awards, Listing Nominees & Winners, 1951-1970 and An Author Index to Astounding/Analog: Part II—Vol. 36, #1, September, 1945 to Vol. 73 #3, May, 1964, the first with Howard DeVore. (Died 2003.)
  • Born November 11, 1917 Mack Reynolds. He’d make Birthday Honors just for his first novel, The Case of the Little Green Men, published in 1951, which as you likely know is a murder mystery set at a Con.  He gets Serious Geek Credits for writing the first original authorized classic Trek novel Mission to Horatius.  And I’ve seriously enjoyed his short fiction. Wildside Press has seriously big volumes of his fiction up at the usual suspects for very cheap prices. (Died 1983.)
  • Born November 11, 1925 Jonathan Winters. Yes, he did do quite a few genre performances including an early one as James Howard “Fats” Brown in “A Game of Pool”, a 1961 episode of The Twilight Zone. He next shows up as the very, very silly role of Albert Paradine II in More Wild, Wild West. He had a recurring role in Mork & Mindy as a character named Mearth. You’ll find him in The Shadow film, The Adventures of Rocky and BullwinkleThe Flintstones, both of The Smurfs films and quite a bit more. He of course was a guest on The Muppets Show. Who wasn’t? (Died 2013.)
  • Born November 11, 1945 Delphyne Joan Hanke-Woods. Artist and Illustrator whose grandfather taught her to read using science fiction pulp magazines. After discovering genre fandom at Windycon in 1978, she became one of the leading fan artists in fanzines of the time, including providing numerous covers for File 770. In addition to convention art shows, her art also appeared professionally, illustrating books by R.A. Lafferty, Joan D. Vinge, and Theodore Sturgeon, and in magazines including Galaxy, Fantastic Films, and The Comics Journal. She won two FAAn Awards for Best Serious Artist and was nominated six times for the Best Fan Artist Hugo, winning in 1986. She was Fan Guest of Honor at several conventions, including back at a Windycon, where her fandom started. (Died 2013.) (JJ) 
  • Born November 11, 1947 Victoria Schochet, 65. Wife of Eric Van Lustbader. She co-edited with John Silbersack and Mellisa Singer the most excellent The Berkley Showcase: New Writings in Science Fiction and Fantasy that came out in the Eighties. She has worked editorially at Analog as Managing Editor.
  • Born November 11, 1948 Kat Bushman, 74. Costumer and Fan from the Los Angeles area who has chaired/co-chaired Costume-Cons, and has worked on or organized masquerades at a number of Westercons, Loscons, and a Worldcon. She received Costume-Con’s Life Achievement Award in 2015. She is a member of LASFS and of SCIFI, and ran for DUFF in 1987. Her essay “A Masquerade by Any Other Name” appeared in the L.A.con III Worldcon Program Book. (JJ) 

(9) GOING ROGUE. For a spoiler-filled look at Andor, read Variety’s profile: “’Star Wars’ Series ‘Andor’ Showrunner Talks Sex, Revolution, Geekdom”.

… As anyone who has watched the show and/or been on Twitter since it debuted Sept. 21 knows, “Andor” has been one of the most enthusiastically well received “Star Wars” projects of the Disney era. Between its sprawling cast and labyrinthine plotting, the 12-episode series has raced headlong into territory many “Star Wars” fans did not know was possible: mature, dramatic storytelling about everyday people. With each new episode, the social media adulation for “Andor” has only grown louder, as millennials and Gen Xers who grew up with “Star Wars” have become further enthralled by the realization that the family-friendly franchise has proven capable of growing up with them….

(10) SOFT LANDING. “NASA Launched an Inflatable Flying Saucer, Then Landed It in the Ocean” – the New York Times takes a look at the future of Martian valet parking.

On Thursday morning, NASA sent a giant inflatable device to space and then brought it back down from orbit, splashing in the ocean near Hawaii.

You might think of it as a bouncy castle from space, although the people in charge of the mission would prefer you did not.

“I would say that would be inaccurate,” Neil Cheatwood, principal investigator for the Low-Earth Orbit Flight Test of an Inflatable Decelerator, or LOFTID for short, said of the comparison during an interview.

LOFTID may sound like just an amusing trick, but the $93 million project demonstrates an intriguing technology that could help NASA in its goal of getting people safely to the surface of Mars someday. The agency has landed a series of robotic spacecraft on Mars, but the current approaches only work for payloads weighing up to about 1.5 tons — about the bulk of a small car….

(11) VERBAL HINT. The BBC’s Fred Harris talks to game developers at Infocom about interactive fiction in this clip from 1985.

Fred Harris goes behind the scenes at Boston software company Infocom. The developer has enjoyed great success with its line of text adventure games – the likes of Zork, Planetfall, Enchanter, and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – which eschew graphics in favour of a simple text display, and arcade gameplay in favour of what the company calls ‘interactive fiction’. Game designer Dave Liebling – one of Infocom’s founder members – is currently putting the finishing touches to a new game called Spellbreaker. He explains the processes that go in to making a good text-adventure game. This clip is from Micro Live, originally broadcast 29 November, 1985.

(12) PAINT YOUR DRAGON. From Kevin Smith’s YouTube channel: “Curious George: An Evening with GEORGE R.R. MARTIN and KEVIN SMITH!”

A Bayonne boy goes down the shore to geek out with a Highlands nerd about comic books, movies, TV, the dawn of fandom, writing, success, failure, and DRAGONS! It’s a once-in-a-lifetime audience with a living legend: the celebrated, world renowned author of the A Song of Fire & Ice novels, the source for HBO’s Game of Thrones! Watch as he’s interviewed by a guy who was traumatized by The Red Wedding!

[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Jennifer Hawthorne, Steven H Silver, Dave Doering, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jayn.]

Pixel Scroll 10/31/22 I Have Squandered All My Pixels On A Pocketful Of Hugos

Illustration by Joe Pearson.

(0) MIKE’S ALL HALLOWS’ EVE PLAGUE POSTING. These days when symptoms – like a runny nose – show up you don’t just say, “Hey I must be getting a cold.” So this morning I ran a home Covid-19 test and it came up positive. My energy level is down – which I noticed yesterday, and accounts for the short Scroll on Sunday, a trend likely to continue today.

(1) FUTURE TENSE. The October 2022 entry in the Future Tense Fiction series, published this past Saturday, is “Galatea,” by Ysabelle Cheung, a story about gender, companionship, and the inner lives of robots.

It was published along with a response essay, “The Cultural Baggage Behind Feminized A.I.”, by Dorothy R. Santos, a researcher who studies voice recognition and speech technology.

(2) HEAR PAUL MCAULEY. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] One of BBC Radio 4’s hidden gem today was all about cells, and in the mix was sff author Paul J. McAuley.

He has a new book out Beyond the Burn Line. He also has a reprint of The Secret of Life (2001) just out. (Not that long ago SF2 Concatenation had former botanist “Paul’s top ten inspiring scientists of the 20th century.) Here’s some info on today’s programme.

The Pulitzer-winning oncologist Siddhartha Mukherjee recalls the thrill of seeing for the first time the extraordinary ‘luminosity’ of a living cell. In his latest work, The Song of the Cell, he explores the history, the present and the future of cellular biology. He tells Adam Rutherford that without understanding cells you can’t understand the human body, medicine, and especially the story of life itself.

‘Once upon a time I fell in love with a cell.’ So recalls the leading cardiologist Sian Harding, when she looked closely at a single heart muscle cell, and she found a ‘deeper beauty’ revealing the ‘perfection of the heart’s construction’. In her book, The Exquisite Machine, she describes how new scientific developments are opening up the mysteries of the heart, and why a ‘broken heart’ might be more than a literary flight of fancy.

The prize-winning science fiction writer Paul McAuley was once a research scientist studying symbiosis, especially single-celled algae inside host cells. He has since used his understanding of science to write books that ask questions about life on earth and outer-space, and about the implications of the latest cutting edge research, from nanotechnology to gene editing. His 2001 novel The Secret of Life, which features the escape of a protean Martian microorganism from a Chinese laboratory, has just been reissued.

Download programme from the bottom of this page as mp3. Start the Week: “Building the Body, Opening the Heart”.

(3) POLK AND ROANHORSE. “CL Polk and Rebecca Roanhorse in Conversation!” will be a free virtual event happening on Tuesday, November 8 at 6:00 p.m. (Mountain). It will be streaming to the Old Firehouse Books Facebook page.

Old Firehouse Books is thrilled to welcome World Fantasy Award-winning author C.L. Polk and Hugo Award-winning author Rebecca Roanhorse to our virtual event space! They’ll be joining us to celebrate their newest novellas, Even Though I Knew the End and Tread of Angels! 

(4) MANGA ADAPTATION COMMENTARY. Alexander Case has posted the inaugural episode of the Anime Explorations podcast. Case and his friends David and Tora take a look at Masami Yuasa’s 2020 adaptation of the manga Keep Your Hands off Eizouken. Anime Explorations Episode 1: “Keep Your Hands off Eizouken – Breaking it all Down”.

(5) MEMORY LANE.

1985 [By Cat Eldridge.] Ray Bradbury Theater 

So we come to the end of this run of essays on some of the things Ray Bradbury has done by discussing that absolute gem of a show, The Ray Bradbury Theater.

It first ran on HBO in the United States from 1985 to 1986, and then on USA Network, running for four additional seasons from 1988 to 1992. All told sixty episodes were done over the six seasons it aired.

It of course it was Ray Bradbury that created this series and everything here was written off stories by him which, of course, he scripted here. Creative jiggering as need be was undertaken. Some of that was done to fit the shorter stories to the timeframe of the series; some to make it suitable for airing. Sometimes he combined stories when he felt like doing so.

Each episode would begin with a shot of Bradbury in his actual office, looking fondly over photos and memorabilia of his life, which he states are used to give him ideas for his stories. The narration he spoke was different each season.

It is his Fifties collections of short stories – Golden Apples of the SunThe Illustrated ManThe October Country and The Martian Chronicles, that are largely the source material that he draws upon for The Ray Bradbury Theater.  One of these is “And the Moon Be Still as Bright” was first done for television on The Twilight Zone as scripted by him.

Name a performer that you like and it’s probable they wandered into this Theater at some point. Really they did. I even saw Lucy Lawless as Liddy Barton in “Fee Fie Foe Fum”. 

Look, it’s simply wonderful.  Just go watch it for the first time or again, you won’t regret the decision.

It’s airing currently on Peacock and a lot of other streaming services. 

(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 31, 1923 Arthur W. Saha. A member of the Futurians and First Fandom who was an editor at Wollheim’s DAW Books including co-editing the Annual World’s Best SF for 1972 to 1990 and editing Year’s Best Fantasy Stories for 1975 to 1988. And he’s credited with coming up with the term “Trekkie” in 1967. (Died 1999.)
  • Born October 31, 1936 Michael Landon. Tony Rivers in I Was a Teenage Werewolf. (That film made two million on an eighty thousand dollar budget. Nice.) That and lead as Jonathan Smith in Highway to Heaven are, I think, his only genre roles. (Died 1991.)
  • Born October 31, 1946 Stephen Rea, 76. Actor who’s had a long genre history starting with the horror films of Cry of the BansheeThe Company of Wolves (from the Angela Carter short story) and The Doctor and the Devils. He’d later show up Interview with the VampireThe MusketeerFeardotComV for VendettaUnderworld: AwakeningWerewolf: The Beast Among Us and Ruby Strangelove Young Witch. He had the role of Alexander Pope in the most excellent Counterpart series.
  • Born October 31, 1958 Ian Briggs, 64. He wrote two Seventh Doctor stories, “Dragonfire” and “The Curse of Fenric”, the former of which of which introduced Ace as the Doctor’s Companion. (The latter is one on my frequent rewatch list.) He novelized both for Target Books. He would write a Seventh Doctor story, “The Celestial Harmony Engine” for the Short Trips: Defining Patterns anthology. 
  • Born October 31, 1959 Neal Stephenson, 63. Some years back, one of the local bookstores had an sf book reading group. One of the staff who was a member of that group (as was I) took extreme dislike to The Diamond Age: Or, A Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer. I don’t remember now why but it made me re-read that work (which was very good) and Snow Crash (which was equally good). My favorite novel by him is The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. There’s a sequel to the latter work but it’s not written by him. 
  • Born October 31, 1972 Matt Smith, 50. He’s the current and longest-serving editor of long-running 2000 AD, and also the longest-running editor of its sister title Judge Dredd Magazine. He written three Judge Dredd novels plus a number of other genre novels based off the properties he edits. Along with Alan Ewing and Michael Carroll, he’s written the Judge Dredd audiobook, a take on the newly deputized Dredd.
  • Born October 31, 1979 Erica Cerra, 43. Best known as Deputy Jo Lupo on Eureka, certainly one of the best SF series ever done. She had a brief recurring role as Maya in Battlestar Galactica, plus one-offs in pretty much anything you’d care to mention for roles such as Pretty Girl. 7
  • Born October 31, 1993 Letitia Wright, 29. She co-starred in Black Panther playing Shuri, King T’Challa’s sister and princess of Wakanda.  (Yes, she is in both Avengers films.) Before that, she was Anahson in “Face the Raven”, a Twelfth Doctor story, and was in the Black Mirror’s “Black Museum” episode. 

(7) MACABRE MERCHANDISE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.]  Home Depot’s skeleton has 164 plastic bones, “or about 80 percent of the 206 in an adult human body.” “Still the Biggest Skeleton in the Game?” asks the New York Times.

Darkness had fallen by the time a crew unloaded the 17 boxes filled with bones from a truck on a Thursday night in September.

After all the boxes were carried into a Home Depot near the Jersey Shore, some of them were placed near its entrance, while others spent the night in a holding area usually reserved for lumber. The next morning, at 5 a.m., workers unpacked a box and assembled its contents. Soon after, one by one, the boxes disappeared. By noon three days later, all were gone….

(8) SOME LOVE HORROR IN SPITE OF THEMSELVES. [Item by Steve Vertlieb.] Here’s a 1985 Halloween television appearance on NBC network affiliate, KYW TV, in Philadelphia during which host Dana Hilger and I discuss the often snobbish, yet universal popularity of horror films through the years.

(9) TALKING ABOUT THE HISTORY OF MOVIE MONSTERS AND CLASSIC HORROR. [Item by Steve Vertlieb.] I want to thank popular comedian and radio personality Grover Silcox for inviting me to share a delightful segment of his venerable weekly television interview series, Counter Culture, which aired a few years ago on WLVT TV, Channel 39, Public Television in Allentown.

We sat together at the famed “Daddypops Diner” in Hatboro, Pennsylvania where the wonderful series is filmed, and talked about Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Lon Chaney, Sr., and Lon Chaney, Jr. at Universal Pictures, Christopher Lee, and Peter Cushing at Hammer Film Productions in England, Germany’s original “Dracula” interpretation, “Nosferatu,” from 1922, as well as “The Haunting,” directed by the great Robert Wise, which I consider the most frightening film ever made, and the long, distinguished history of Horror Movies.

For anyone who didn’t see the show during its initial broadcast, you can catch my episode on line by accessing the link above. You’ll find my segment in the middle of Episode No. 3. Simply click on the photograph of the young woman within the program description, and it will lead you directly to the episode.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Steve Vertlieb, Joey Eschrich, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kendall.]

Pixel Scroll 10/30/22 I’ve Looked At Scrolls From Both Sides Now

(1) GETTING HITCHED. Congratulations to Brian Keene on his successful marriage proposal to Mary SanGiovanni. Read about it in Keene’s “Letters From the Labyrinth 305”. (And see the proposal video on TikTok.)

… What I neglected to mention was that I intended to propose to Mary during that trip. Centralia is an abandoned mining town that has been on fire underground for nearly 100 years, and was the basis for many things in the horror genre, including Mary’s favorite — the Silent Hill franchise. The ghost town has special significance for us, as we took a trip there together very early in our relationship, and have continued to go back at least once a year for the last eleven years.

While Centralia’s original graffiti highway was destroyed during the pandemic, there are still plenty of roads there with graffiti on them (as well as abandoned buildings deep on the woods and hidden entrances into the mines, if you know where to look). So, John Urbancik and I drove up there the week before, and I spray-painted a proposal on what used to be a residential side street. This was known as Plan E.

Plans A through D were considered, however…

Click through to find out those imaginative but ultimately discarded options.

… People have already begun inviting themselves to the wedding, and Christopher Golden and Rio Youers have started planning hijinks, so everything is going about as you’d expect so far. I have been assured that I can DJ our reception, so that’s okay.

Oh, and the honeymoon is going to be a cross-country book signing tour so stay tuned for that. It was Mary’s idea. I wanted to go to Alaska or Easter Island but she needs to sell copies of Alien: Enemy of My Enemy, so a honeymoon tour it is….

(2) KEEPING COUNT. “Liaden Universe® InfoDump Number 130” has a roundup of Sharon Lee and Steve Miller’s forthcoming publications, how to get signed copies, and what ebooks will be available. It also tells where you can see them early next year, and clocks some remarkable career milestones.

CONVENTION APPEARANCES

Lee and Miller have applied to be in-person panelists at Boskone 60 (February 17-19, 2023). There is a new process in place this year, and we’ve not yet heard back concerning our applications. More news when we have some.

Lee and Miller will be Writer Guests of Honor at Heliosphere, April 28-30, 2023 in Piscataway NJ. Artist Guest of Honor will be David Mattingly.

CAREER MILESTONES
*As above, Salvage Right is the 25th Liaden Universe® novel.
*It is also Lee and Miller’s 29th collaborative novel, and 100th collaborative work.
*It is Sharon Lee’s 34th novel.
*And! It brings Lee-and-Miller’s total lifetime collaborative words written to Three million, seven hundred fifty-eight thousand, four hundred and eight.

(3) MEDICAL UPDATE. Ryk E. Spoor needs the help coming from his “A Series of Unfortunate Events” Gofundme even more than before. He wrote today:

As many of you know, my hope that things would settle down has not QUITE worked out as I planned…. as I’m writing this from the ICU of our local hospital, having had a heart attack.

I appreciate very much everything all of you have done for us, and ask that you share the fundraiser around again, as obviously this is going to add a quite significant expense to our household.

(4) SCARE IN THE AIR. Shat chats with Ethan Alter of Yahoo! Entertainment about his great Twilight Zone episode “Nightmare At 20,000 Feet”. “William Shatner explains why his classic ‘Twilight Zone’ episode still frightens flyers” at Yahoo!

… “Nightmare” was a more ambitious episode than the small-scale “Nick of Time,” which also meant that The Twilight Zone‘s budgetary restraints were more evident, at least to Shatner. Specifically, he found himself skeptical of the episode’s gremlin, who was played by stuntman Nick Cravat in a costume that didn’t exactly strike fear into the star’s heart. “What was amusing was the acrobat who was in a little furry suit on the wing of the [plane],” Shatner says now. “There were times when I looked at him, and I thought: ‘This is maybe the worst thing I’ve ever done!'”…

(5) MEMORY LANE.

1985 [By Cat Eldridge.] Bradbury’s Crumley Mysteries

Although Bradbury was far better known for his genre writings, he did from time to time write rather good mysteries, mostly as short stories and scripts. So is the case with the Crumley Mysteries, penned over an eighteen-year period starting in 1985.

They were by no stretch of the imagination his first as he’d been writing mysteries in a shorter form since the Forties, but these are his first full-length mysteries. There are three here — Death Is a Lonely BusinessA Graveyard for Lunatics and Let’s All Kill Constance.

They are all set in the Golden Age of Hollywood, which is definitely a setting that Bradbury really likes. They have the same two primary characters, detective Elmo Crumley and the narrator who is never named. He set the entire premise up with a short story, included in the Subterranean 2009 collection of these novels, Where Everything Ends. It is a rather weak take on the premise compared to the three novels. 

I’ve read them and I think the first two are quite excellent. The third one, Let’s All Kill Constance, I think is just weak with a mystery that just doesn’t hold up.

Our Green Man reviewer noted that Bradbury created great characters in these novels: “Crumley, the cop who just happens to also be a writer; Fannie, the 380-pound sedentary soprano; A.L. Shrank, the psychiatrist with the downbeat library; Cal, the incompetent barber with the ragtime past; and John Wilkes Hopworth, the ex-silent film star who still pines for former love Constance Rattigan.”

This is Bradbury so don’t expect hard-boiled anything here. These novels are what you get when a writer is kinder gentler so everything is indeed soft-boiled and no, there’s nothing wrong with that at all. Bradbury gives us a somewhat idealistic version of the era and the people inhabiting it.

It is available used on AbeBooks and the like. I won’t say it’s particularly affordable as it’s not. 

(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 30, 1896 Ruth Gordon. You’ll likely best remember her as Minnie Castevet in Rosemary’s Baby. (Trust me, you don’t need to see Look What’s Happened to Rosemary’s Baby.) She’s quite excellent as Cecilia Weiss in The Great Houdini, and that pretty much sums up her genre work save Voyage of the Rock Aliens which keeps giving me the giggles. Serious giggles. (Died 1985.)
  • Born October 30, 1923 William Campbell. In “The Squire of Gothos” on Trek — a proper Halloween episode even if it wasn’t broadcast then — he was Trelane, and in “The Trouble With Tribbles” he played the Klingon Koloth, a role revisited on Deep Space Nine in “Blood Oath”. He appeared in several horror films including Blood BathNight of Evil, and Dementia 13. He started a fan convention which ran for several years, Fantasticon, which celebrated the achievements of production staffers in genre films and TV shows and raised funds for the Motion Picture & Television Fund, a charitable organization which provides assistance and care to those in the motion picture industry with limited or no resources, when struck with infirmity and/or in retirement age. (Died 2011.)
  • Born October 30, 1951 P. Craig Russell, 71. Comic illustrator whose work has won multiple Harvey and Eisner Awards. His work on Killraven, a future version of H. G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds, collaborating with writer Don McGregor, was lauded by readers and critics alike. Next up was mainstream work at DC with his work on Batman, particularly with Jim Starlin. He also inked Mike Mignola’s pencils on the Phantom Stranger series. He would segue into working on several Moorcock’s Elric of Melniboné projects. Worth noting is his work on a number of Gaiman projects including a Coraline graphic novel.  Wayne Alan Harold Productions published the P. Craig Russell Sketchbook Archives, a 250+-page hardcover art book featuring the best of his personal sketchbooks.
  • Born October 30, 1951 Harry Hamlin, 71. His first role of genre interest was Perseus on Clash of The Titans. He plays himself in Maxie, and briefly shows up in Harper’s Island. He was Astronaut John Pope in the genre adjacent Space miniseries. On the stage, he’s been Faust in Dr. Faustus
  • Born October 30, 1958 Max McCoy, 64. Here for a quartet of novels (Indiana Jones and the Secret of the SphinxIndiana Jones and the Hollow EarthIndiana Jones and the Dinosaur Eggs and Indiana Jones and the Philosopher’s Stone) which flesh out the back story and immerse him in a pulp reality. He’s also writing Wylde’s West, a paranormal mystery series.
  • Born October 30, 1972 Jessica Hynes, 50. Playing Joan Redfern, she shows up on two of the most excellent Tenth Doctor stories, “Human Nature” and “The Family of Blood”. She’d play another character, Verity Newman in a meeting of the Tenth and Eleventh Doctors, “The End of Time, Part Two”. Her other genre role was as Felia Siderova on Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased) in the “Mental Apparition Disorder” and  “Drop Dead” episodes.

(7) GHOSTPLUSTERS. The New York Times needs its clicks, too: “The Dos and Don’ts of Living in a Haunted House”.

…Many Americans believe that their home is inhabited by someone or something that isn’t a living being. An October study from the Utah-based home security company Vivint found that nearly half of the thousand surveyed homeowners believed that their house was haunted. Another survey of 1,000 people by Real Estate Witch, an education platform for home buyers and sellers, found similar results, with 44 percent of respondents saying that they’ve lived in a haunted house.

Researchers attribute increasing belief in the supernatural to the rise of paranormal-related media, a decline in religious affiliation and the pandemic. With so many people believing that they live with ghosts, a new question arises: How does one live with ghosts? Are there ways to become comfortable with it, or certain actions to keep away from so as not to disturb it?…

(8) ZERO SUM GAMERS. [Item by Michael Kennedy.] Business Insider writer Samantha, Delouya argues that Meta is trying to follow Google’s lead in stealing back market share from Apple. So, does that make Meta’s vision of the metaverse the next Android? Well, maybe not. “Mark Zuckerberg is trying to do what Google did with Android — but he learned all the wrong lessons”.

… However, there’s one main difference between Google’s attempt to escape Apple’s supremacy and Meta’s gambit: there was already proof of consumer demand for the product Google was allegedly duping. Apple had sold 1 million of its first-generation iPhones just 74 days after its introduction.

Google’s pivot paid off. Will Meta’s? 

Google saw where Apple was going and continued to develop its Android platform to match Apple’s iOS. The company has also continued to invest in making its smartphones, a device it knows people want.

Google’s bet paid off. Android is now the dominant mobile operating system worldwide. 

But Google was a fast follower; Meta’s pivot could be more dangerous because it’s investing in a largely untested product: the metaverse. 

“It’s a massively huge risk, and I think the primary risk is there are no tangibles right now,” Zgutowicz said. 

Some analysts on Wall Street are skeptical Meta will pull this off. 

“Even if the Metaverse does turn out to be the immersive hardware-based vision that Meta articulates, will Meta really be the winning hardware provider to consumers?” Martin asked in a recent note. ….

[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Ahrvid Engholm, “Orange Mike” Lowrey, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Xtifr.]

Pixel Scroll 10/29/22 If Pixels Waltz, Do Scrolls Pirouette?

(1) THE GULF BETWEEN. [Item by Jim Janney.] Pat Bagley’s editorial cartoon in today’s Salt Lake Tribune references a famous cover from the October 1953 Astounding. (Note how it’s signed “With apologies to Frank Kelly Freas.”)

(2) KEEP CALM. No matter what you may have heard – like in an email from the World Fantasy Convention committee itself – the WFC 2022 Covid policy remains the same.

The convention’s website adds these details: “COVID-19 Policy”.

Our safety protocols for WFC 2022 are as follows:

– Attending members must be fully vaccinated. Proof of vaccination will be required upon check-in at the convention.

– Masks will be required in all public places. Masks must be worn properly, covering the nose and mouth. If a member appears at any WFC 2022 event without a mask, they will be asked to put one on. If they refuse, their membership will be revoked, their badge confiscated, and they will be required to leave the convention.

– Safe social distances will be observed at all times.

– We will have hand sanitizer easily accessible throughout the convention.

If you are not fully vaccinated for any reason, please do not purchase an attending membership. We invite you to purchase a virtual membership and participate in the convention remotely.

James Van Pelt addressed on Facebook that a similar policy at the recent MileHiCon was not always followed by panelists, with the attendant social pressure on those who would rather it be followed.

(3) YOU DON’T NEED A WEATHERMAN TO KNOW WHICH WAY THE WINDROSE. Can it be that John C. Wright thieved a diagram created by Camestros Felapton without giving credit? Survey says – “Bow wow!” However, according to Camestros, “It’s nice to be appreciated”.

In 2016 I was going to write a post about John C. Wright’s near incomprehensible scheme for categorising ideologies on two axes (original Wright post archived here). However, vanity and vainglorious aspiration required me to furnish the post with a better graphic. Having laboured on the graphic I realised I had very little to say, leaving the post as little more than my drawing of Wright’s windrose: https://camestrosfelapton.wordpress.com/2016/01/30/john-c-wrights-windrose-of-political-heresy/

Now Mr Wright recently reposted his essay on his scheme, and as with his previous essay, there was a graphic to accompany it…which looks more than a little familiar…

(4) THE HOUSE OF COMMONS NEEDS YOU. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.]  AI is sort of SFnal.  Do any Filers have knowledge of AI and wish to contribute to the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee’s inquiry into the “Governance of Artificial Intelligence (AI)”? The call for evidence is here. The deadline is November 25. HAL lives! (but does not give 42 as the answer.)

MPs to examine regulating AI in new inquiry

The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee launches an inquiry into the governance of artificial intelligence (AI). In July, the UK Government set out its emerging thinking on how it would regulate the use of AI. It is expected to publish proposals in a White Paper later this year, which the Committee would examine in its inquiry.

Used to spot patterns in large datasets, make predictions, and automate processes, AI’s role in the UK economy and society is growing. However, there are concerns around its use. MPs will examine the potential impacts of biased algorithms in the public and private sectors. A lack of transparency on how AI is applied and how automated decisions can be challenged will also be investigated.

In the inquiry, MPs will explore how risks posed to the public by the improper use of AI should be addressed, and how the Government can ensure AI is used in an ethical and responsible way. The Committee seeks evidence on the current governance of AI, whether the Government’s proposed approach is the right one, and how their plans compare with other countries.

(5) NOT FOREVER STAMPS. The UK’s Royal Mail, which added barcodes to its stamps this year, soon will no longer honor previous issues. The Guardian’s Dale Berning Sawa asks “My stash of old stamps is beautiful. Why make them unnecessarily obsolete?”

After introducing barcodes to our regular sticker stamps in February, Royal Mail has now given us 100 days to use up our old stamps. Come February 2023, only those barcoded will be valid. To swap out any remaining oldies, we will have to fill out a request form and send it, for free, to a depot in Edinburgh.

The ironic loop-the-loop of freeposting postage to receive same-value postage in the post – in order to, in the beleaguered company’s own words, “connect physical stamps to the digital world” – is not lost on me. It’s more than curmudgeonly irritation, though, I feel bewildered. Why does one stamp having the ability to play you Shaun the Sheep videos mean that all those other beauties have to go? Does the Royal Mail not realise how great, how quietly subversive, how steadfast its one defining product has been all these years?…

(6) SWEDISH SHORTS SFF COMPETITION. [Item by Ahrvid Engholm.] The Result of the 23rd Fantastiknovelltävlingen (approx “Fantastic Short Story Competition”; Fantastic as in Fantastic Literatur, often here called Fantastik.) I translate the story titles, but skip the 6 “honorary mentions”:

  • 1st prize “Fyrmästarens dotter” by Camilla Linde  (999 kr) [“Daughter of the Lighthouse Keeper”]
  • 2nd prize “En glimt av oändlighet” by Sunna Andersson (600 kr) [“A Glimpse of Eternity”]
  • 3rd prize “God Granne” by Tobias Robinson (400 kr) [“Good Neighbour”]

The prize sums are in Kr=kronor; 10 kr is around 1 USD/Eur. Winners also get a diploma.

(7) A SOLID HONOR. Vroman’s Bookstore in Pasadena, CA will host the “Vroman’s Walk Of Fame Dedication Ceremony Honoring Author Leigh Bardugo” on Saturday, November 19, 2022 at 12:00 p.m. The location is 695 E. Colorado St., Pasadena, CA 91101.

We are very excited to announce author Leigh Bardugo as our next honoree to immortalize her handprints and signature in the Vroman’s Author Walk of Fame! We are so thrilled to honor Leigh with this dedication and to celebrate all of her wonderful books.

Join us on Saturday, November 19th at noon for the dedication. After the dedication please stay for a special conversation between Leigh Bardugo and Sarah Enni, discussing Leigh’s life and career.

We realize that not everyone will get the best view of the dedication ceremony so we will be broadcasting this morning event on Instagram Live. Keep watch for more details and follow up on Instagram! @vromansbookstore

(8) WHERE WOLF? THERE HOME DEPOT. In the Washington Post, Maura Judkis talks to buyers of the 9-1/2 foot audioanimatronic werewolf available at Home Depot for $399.  She talked to one anonymous furry who thinks the werewolf is a furry icon. “The Home Depot werewolf is getting howls of approval”.

… She saw him and she had to buy him: A beefy, sinewy wolfman with massive hands (paws?), glowing eyes and, under his shredded buffalo-check shirt, six-pack abs. Best of all, and unlike his skeletal brethren, he talks and moves: With a growl, he opens his mouth to reveal a row of sharp fangs, tilts his head back and … aroooooooooo!

Rush bought the $399 werewolf on “Orange Friday,” which is what the most dedicated of Halloween decorators call the day Home Depot makes its Halloween decorations available online for purchase. This year, that day was July 15, when normal people are, well, what’s normal anymore?…

(9) MEMORY LANE.

1951 [By Cat Eldridge.] One of the finest works that Bradbury crafted was The Illustrated Man. It was published seventy-one years ago by Doubleday & Company and consists of eighteen stories, of which ISFDB claims three are original to here.

Let’s note that the British edition, published a year later by Hart-Davis, omits “The Rocket Man”, “The Fire Balloons, “The Exiles” and “The Concrete Mixer” and adds “Usher I” from The Martian Chronicles and “The Playground”. 

The unrelated stories are weaved together by the framing story of “The Illustrated Man” involving a now wandering member of a carnival freak show with an almost completely tattooed body, save one spot, whom the unnamed narrator and a few other people meet. (My assumption there.) The man’s tattoos, supposedly created by a time-traveling woman, are individually animated, and each tells a different story.

The stories would be adapted elsewhere. Some of the stories, including “The Veldt”, “The Fox and the Forest” (changed to “To the Future”), “Marionettes, Inc.”, and “Zero Hour” were also dramatized for the Fifties X Minus One radio series. 

The Ray Bradbury Theater series used “The Concrete Mixer”, “The Long Rain”, “Marionettes Inc.” “The Veldt”, “Zero Hour” whereas “The Fox and the Forest” was adapted for Out of the Unknown series.

Seventeen years after it was published, it would debut as a film. The screenplay was by Howard B. Kreitsek who adapted three of the stories from the collection, “The Veldt”, “The Long Rain” and “The Last Night of the World”, the last one a good choice I think to end the film.

SPOILERS NOW AS WE CONSIDER A BEGINNING AND A POSSIBLE END

The prologue tells of how The Illustrated Man came to be so after he encountered a mysterious woman named Felicia. Our film narrator encounters our The Illustrated Man and watches the three stories play out as animated stories. 

The plot comes to a terrifying conclusion when one of the people accompanying The Illustrated Man on his journey looks at the only blank patch of skin on his body and sees an image of his own murder at his hand of The Illustrated Man then attempts to kill The Illustrated Man and then flees into the night, pursued by a still-living Illustrated Man, with the audience left undetermined as to his fate of either.

NOW BACK TO OUR REGULAR PROGRAMMING 

Jack Smight, the film director, decided that the carnival sideshow freak who appeared in the collection’s prologue and epilogue made the  best primary narrative device. 

As for The Illustrated Man, he cast Rod Steiger, whom he had known since the Fifties. 

It failed horribly at the Box Office and critics hated it. 

It was nominated for a Hugo at the Heicon ’70 Worldcon held in Heidelberg, Germany but did not win. 

I will let our writer have the last word here: “Rod was very good in it, but it wasn’t a good film, the script was terrible.” 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 29, 1906 Fredric Brown. Author of Martians, Go Home which was made into a movie of the same name. He received compensation and credit from NBC as their Trek episode “Arena” had more than a passing similarity to his novelette which was nominated for a Retro Hugo at CoNZealand. (Died 1972.)
  • Born October 29, 1928 Benjamin F. Chapman, Jr. He played the Gill-man on the land takes in Creature from the Black Lagoon. (Ricou Browning did the water takes.) His only other genre appearance was in Jungle Moon Men, a Johnny Weissmuller film. (Died 2008.)
  • Born October 29, 1928 Jack Donner. He’s no doubt best known for his role of Romulan Subcommander Tal in the Trek episode “The Enterprise Incident”. He would later return as a Vulcan priest in the “Kir’Shara” and “Home” episodes on Enterprise. He’d also show up in other genre shows including The Man from U.N.C.L.E.Mission Impossible (eleven episodes which is the most by any guest star) and The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle. (Died 2019.)
  • Born October 29, 1935 Sheila Finch, 87. She is best remembered for her stories about the Guild of Xenolinguists, which aptly enough are collected in The Guild of Xenolinguists. She first used the term her 1986 Triad novel, and it would later be used to describe the character Uhura in the rebooted Trek film. Her Reading the Bones novella, part of the Guild of Xenolinguists series, would win a Nebula. These books are available at the usual suspects. 
  • Born October 29, 1941 Hal W. Hall, 81. Bibliographer responsible for the Science Fiction Book Review Index (1970 – 1985) and the Science Fiction Research Index (1981 – 1922). He also did a number of reviews including three of H. Beam Piper’s Fuzzy books showing he had excellent taste in fiction.
  • Born October 29, 1954 Paul Di Filippo, 68. He is, I’d say, an acquired taste. I like him. I’d suggest as a first reading if you don’t know him The Steampunk Trilogy and go from there. His “A Year in the Linear City” novella was nominated at Torcon 3 for Best Novella, and won the 2003 World Fantasy Award and the 2003 Theodore Sturgeon Award. Oh, and he’s one of our stellar reviewers having reviewed at one time or another for Asimov’s Science FictionThe Magazine of Fantasy and Science FictionScience Fiction EyeThe New York Review of Science FictionInterzoneNova Express and Science Fiction Weekly
  • Born October 29, 1954 Kathleen O’Neal Gear, 68. Archaeologist and writer. I highly recommend the three Anasazi Mysteries that she co-wrote with W. Michael Gear. She’s a historian of note so she’s done a lot of interesting work in that area such as Viking Warrior Women: Did ‘Shieldmaidens’ like Lagertha Really Exist?  And should you decide you want to keep buffalo, she’s the expert on doing so. Really. Truly, she is. 
  • Born October 29, 1971 Winona Ryder, 51. Beetlejuice, of course, but also Edward Scissorhands and Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Not to mention Alien Resurrection and Star Trek. Which brings me to Being John Malkovich which might be the coolest genre film of all time. 

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • Junk Drawer has an amusing twist on a familiar bit of horror pedantry.
  • Non Sequitur shows the very first “trick or treat” trial run.

(12) READ SJUNNESON STORY. Arizon State University’s Center for Science and the Imagination has posted the final Us in Flux story for 2022. This is the latest in their series of short fiction and virtual events about reimagining and reorganizing communities in the face of transformative change.

The story is “The Island,” by Elsa Sjunneson, about the ability-disability continuum, journalism, and creating adaptable communities.

(13) CLIP SHOW. NPR’s “Fresh Air” “Halloween special, with horror masters Stephen King and Jordan Peele” is a compilation of past interviews.

King talks about what terrified him as a child — and what frightens him as an adult. Peele talks about the fears that inspire his filmmaking. Originally broadcast in 1992, 2013 and 2017.

(14) VISION OF THE FUTURE. “Marvel developing Vision spinoff series with Paul Bettany” – and SYFY Wire assumes readers have seen every MCU movie and freely reveal the previous fates of various characters, so beware spoilers.

Deadline reports the studio is developing a new potential series codenamed Vision Quest, which will star Paul Bettany returning to the role of Vision. The show will reportedly follow Vision as he attempts to “regain his memory and humanity.” This would focus on the White Vision character who ended the first season of WandaVision on the loose in the world after regaining enough of his memories following a face-off with Wanda’s version of Vision (yeah, it’s a bit confusing).

It’s still early, with a writers room reportedly opening for the project next week, but it’s reportedly possible that Elizabeth Olsen could also return as Wanda Maximoff. As fans know, Wanda was last seen buried under a temple in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness…. 

(15) PLAYING MARS LIKE A DRUM. [SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] This week’s Science journal has “A seismic meteor strike on Mars”. “A meteor impact and its subsequent seismic waves has revealed the crustal structure of Mars.”

A large meteorite impact on Mars, as recorded by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA’s) InSight Mars lander and the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, and present analysis of the detected surface waves produced by the meteorite impact. Kim et al. also present an updated crustal model of Mars that provides a better understanding of the formation and composition of the martian crust and extends the current knowledge of the geodynamic evolution of Mars.

First primary research paper here. Second paper here here.

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] This is Ryan George’s latest BUT my computer is wonky in that the sound is off so I don’t know what he says! I am sure he has a field day because I saw Black Adam and it’s a stinker. Spoiler alert!

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

Pixel Scroll 10/28/22 Captain Pixel Versus The Winter Solistice

(1) TUNE IN. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] On the B Beeb Ceeb Radio 4 this week we had…

Radio play. It is the day after tomorrow. The NHS is history and the Artificial Intelligence health app Medpatch has ushered in a new era of diagnosis and treatment. As ex-health workers adjust to a vanished career, Jenna, a former doctor, finds herself employed on a new frontier of public health. And she’s about to make a discovery. Thriller about healthcare and technology.

Drawing on the revolution in remote, smartphone led diagnostics and advances in health AI, it’s a thriller about how much of ourselves we’re willing to hand to the private sector. And as corporations vie to become the Google of Health – Welcome to Medpatch considers questions about technology and healthcare which may have to be answered sooner than we think.

Radio play. A Hallowe’en adventure for the immortal mediator. Pilgrim donates an impossibly valuable artwork to Timbermoor museum, to keep it open and maintaining a particular shabby exhibit…..

(2) MEDICAL UPDATE. Rachel Pollack publicly announced to Facebook readers that she is in remission.

Important Announcement

I want to share with everyone, especially the many many people who have sent prayers and healing energy and spells—I am in remission. The oncologist had told me this over the phone but I really needed to hear it in person and today I saw him. The treatment was hard and it’s going to take some time to recover but the mass is gone!

A special super thank you to all the amazing people who contributed to the Go Fund Me campaign. It’s made such a huge difference and will continue to as I heal and grow stronger. Thank you!

(3) SF READER IS KILLED. A murder victim’s affinity for the work of Isaac Asimov is a detail in The Daily Beast’s coverage: “Kansas City Cops Want Alexa Audio After South American Medical Researchers’ Murder”.

…Behrensen, an Isaac Asimov lover with a penchant for middle-distance running, was described as “a brilliant young woman with a vibrant intellect” by colleagues and faculty at the Stowers Institute….

The information came from the Stowers Institute directory: “2020 Predoctoral Researchers | Graduate School of the Stowers Institute”:

“Camila Behrensen might have Isaac Asimov to thank for her love of science. Growing up, Asimov was her favorite author, in part because of how he was able to explain complicated concepts in ways that everyone could understand. “

Authorities believe they have identified the man who murdered Behrensen: “Shock Slaying of Two Medical Researchers Tied to Grisly Discovery in Missouri Woods” at MSN.com.

Police investigating the murder-suicide of a man and a woman found in Missouri woods made another shocking discovery: one of them was responsible for a double murder of two researchers two weeks earlier….

(4) LONGSTOCKING SHORTHAND. There a project to “decrypt” shorthand pads of writer Astrid Lindgren, famous for Pippi Longstocking, Ronja the Robber’s daughter etc. She wrote all her first drafts in shorthand. Here’s a report about it: “Secretaries at Work: Accessing Astrid Lindgren’s Stenographed Manuscripts through Expert Crowdsourcing”.

…The Astrid Lindgren Code project [3] explores Swedish author Astrid Lindgren’s original manuscripts in Melin shorthand (stenography). Lindgren’s stenography has for long been considered “undecipherable” [4, 5] and has therefore never been subjected to study, making manual interpretation the only existing possibility of accessing the material as well as providing training data for future research [6]. Nevertheless, crowdsourcing has proven to be unexpectedly successful in producing transliterations of Lindgren’s stenographed notepads. With 170 volunteers signing up for decoding, prolific attempts during the Spring of 2021 have resulted in a full transliteration of the drafts to novel The Brothers Lionheart (1973) in approximately five weeks….

(5) THIS JUST IN. It is reliably reported that “George RR Martin, Neil Gaiman Hate Hollywood Changing Source Material”. Can you imagine? Variety heard them say it.

George R.R. Martin reflected on his literary and Hollywood career, and shared stories about book tour mishaps and Hollywood “morons,” in a conversation with “The Sandman” author Neil Gaiman at New York City’s Symphony Space Thursday night.

Martin was promoting his book “The Rise of the Dragon: An Illustrated History of the Targaryen Dynasty, Volume One,” a massive “deluxe reference book” about Westeros’ most powerful family…. 

…As someone who has been on both sides of screen adaptations of literature, Martin discussed the “obligation to be faithful to the written material,” which he said is a “controversial” issue in Hollywood. The author made it clear where he stands: “How faithful do you have to be? Some people don’t feel that they have to be faithful at all. There’s this phrase that goes around: ‘I’m going to make it my own.’ I hate that phrase. And I think Neil probably hates that phrase, too.”

“I do,” Gaiman responded. “I spent 30 years watching people make ‘Sandman’ their own. And some of those people hadn’t even read ‘Sandman’ to make it their own, they’d just flipped through a few comics or something.” Gaiman added that it was a “joy” getting to make Season 1 of “The Sandman” on Netflix, and Martin energized the crowd by saying, “We want Season 2!”

Martin continued, “There are changes that you have to make — or that you’re called upon to make — that I think are legitimate. And there are other ones that are not legitimate.”…

(6) RED PLANET SYMPATHIZER. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Although Bradbury and Asimov are mentioned in this book excerpt the emphasis of the piece is on the FBI’s investigation of Bela Lugosi and Peter Lorre. “Dracula vs. the FBI” at CrimeReads.

…Several figures who continue to shape the American tradition of horror, fantasy, and science fiction received the FBI’s unwonted concern. Ray Bradbury, with his tales of an America perpetually facing a thing at the top of the stairs, had forty pages of material assembled by agents who suspected his then-genial liberalism hid communist sympathies.(13) The report included the contention that “he has been described as being critical of the United States government.” In a memo, now available through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), the FBI copied their colleagues at the CIA, violating the agencies’ proscription against surveillance and investigation of private American citizens. Large portions of Bradbury’s file are redacted, but what we can read makes clear that the FBI worried that the author planned to travel to Cuba and take part in a writer’s conference “whose [sic] goal of action is to obtain unity in the fight against anti-imperialism.”

What interested the FBI in Bradbury to begin with, particularly given that his file admits “there is no evidence” he ever “ joined the CP”? For the FBI, the idea that Bradbury suggested in The Martian Chronicles that humans came to the red planet as “despoilers and not developers” sounded a bit too much like a critique of imperial America, both in its frontier past and Cold War present….

(7) MEMORY LANE.

1953 [By Cat Eldridge.] Sixty-nine years ago It Came From Outer Space premiered, the first in the 3D films released from Universal-International. It was from a story written by Ray Bradbury. The script was by Harry Essex.

Billed by the studio as science fiction horror and I’ll get to why in the SPOILERS section, it was directed by Henry Arnold who would soon be responsible for two genre classics, Creature from the Black Lagoon and The Incredible Shrinking Man, the latter of which of course won a Hugo at Solacon (1958).

HORROR, ERRR, SPOILERS, ARE ABOUT TO HAPPEN. BEWARE!

Amateur sky watcher (as played by Richard Carlson) and schoolteacher Ellen Fields (as played Barbara Rush) see a large meteorite crash near the small town in Arizona. Being curios and not at cautious (who is in these films?), they investigate.

Putnam sees the object and knows it is a spacecraft but everyone else laughs at him. People start disappearing. (Cue chilling music.) The sheriff opts for a violent answer, but Putnam wants a peaceful resolution.

In the end, a Bradburyan solution happens, atypical of these Fifties pulp SF films and the aliens get what they need to leave without anyone, human or alien, dying. 

YOU CAN COME BACK NOW.

The screenplay by Harry Essex, with extensive input by the director Jack Arnold, was based on an original and quite lengthy screen treatment by Bradbury. It is said that Bradbury wrote the screenplay and Harry Essex merely changed the dialogue and took the credit. There is no actual written documentation of this though, so it may or may not be true.

It made back twice its eight hundred thousand budget in the first year. 

Many, many critics took to be an anti-communist film about an invasion of America. However Bradbury pointed out that “I wanted to treat the invaders as beings who were not dangerous, and that was very unusual.” 

Final note: It Came from Outer Space is one of the classic films mentioned in the opening theme (“Science Fiction/Double Feature”) film of The Rocky Horror Show and the film.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 28, 1944 Ian Marter. Best remembered for his role as Harry Sullivan, a companion to the Third and Fourth Doctors. After leaving the series, he wrote nine novels, plus a look at his time there. He died suddenly of a diabetic heart attack on his forty-second birthday. (Died 1986.) 
  • Born October 28, 1951 Joe Lansdale, 71. Writer and screenwriter whose DCU Jonah Hex animated screenplays are far superior to the live action Hex film. Bubba Ho-Tep, an American comedy horror film starring Bruce Campbell, is his best-known genre work though he has done a number of another works including The God of The Razor and Reverend Jedidiah Mercer series which are definitely Weird Westerns. 
  • Born October 28, 1951 William H. Patterson, Jr. Author of Robert A. Heinlein: In Dialogue with His Century, a two-volume look at Heinlein which arguably is the best biography ever done on him. He also did The Martian Named Smith: Critical Perspectives on Robert A. Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land. This Tribute to Bill Patterson by Mike with comments by Filers is touching indeed. (Died 2014.)
  • Born October 28, 1957 Catherine Fisher, 65. Welsh poet and children’s novelist who writes in English. I’d suggest The Book of The Crow series of which Corbenic won the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature. Her Incarceron and Sapphique also earned a Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature nomination. 
  • Born October 28, 1958 Amy Thomson, 64. Writer of four novels, including Virtual Girl. She won the Astounding Award for Best New Writer. Her short fiction “The Ransom of Princess Starshine” appeared in 2017 in Stupefying Stories, edited by Bruce Bethke.
  • Born October 28, 1967 Julia Roberts, 55. How can I resist giving Birthday Honors to Tinker Bell in Hook? Not to mention she was in the seriously weird Flatliners that I saw at a virtually empty theater. Of course, there’s the even weirder Mary Reilly with her in the title role. For something more charming, she voiced Charlotte the Spider in Charlotte‘s Web. I’m going to skip her as a Smurf I think…
  • Born October 28, 1982 Matt Smith, 40. The Eleventh Doctor of course. My third favorite of the modern Doctors behind Ten and Thirteen.  His first-ever role was as Jim Taylor in the BBC adaptations of Philip Pullman’s The Ruby in the Smoke and The Shadow in the North. (Billie Piper was Sally Lockhart.) He was the physical embodiment of Skynet in Terminator Genisys. Huh. And he played a vampire in Sony’s Spider-Man Universe spin-off film Morbius where he was Milo. Finally I’ll note as Daemon Targaryen in the series House of the Dragon. 

(9) BOOK BAN EFFORTS PROLIFERATE. “Panel Explores Surge in Book Bans, Policies Targeting the LGBTQ Community” at Publishers Weekly.

With a wave of book bans and educational gag orders still surging across the country, an online panel this week explored how the bans are targeting and impacting the LGBTQ community—and how concerned communities can push back. Sponsored by ACLU People PowerHachette Book GroupLambda Literary, and We Need Diverse Books, the timely discussion (the issue of book bans featured in gubernatorial debates this week in a number of states ahead of the mid-term elections) the discussion was led by the ACLU’s Gillian Branstetter and featured BookRiot writer Kelly Jensen; Stephana Ferrell, co-founder of the Florida Freedom to Read Project, and authors Mark Oshiro and Lev AC Rosen.

Kicking off the discussion, Branstetter asked Jensen to break down the widely-reported statistics showing a sharp spike in attempted book bans and educational gag orders across the country over the last two years. Jensen, a former librarian who has been reporting widely on the surge in book bans in communities across the country for BookRiot, wasted no time in pulling the figures into focus, arguing that the bans are impacting as many as four million students across the country.

“That’s four million students who are having books taken from them, and it’s happening everywhere in the country,” Jensen said…. 

(10) MOOMIN APPROPRIATION. Yle Uutiset reports:“Moomin features in anti-Finland propaganda on Moscow streets”.

Propaganda posters mocking two of Finland’s and Sweden’s most popular children’s characters have been recently spotted on the streets of Moscow, Russia.

The posters show an illustration of Uncle Sam, representing the United States, holding two puppets — Moominpappa and Pippi Longstocking.

The now-iconic characters were created in the mid 1900s by Finnish artist and author Tove Jansson and Swedish writer Astrid Lindgren.

The poster’s text, in Russian, warns: “Don’t be toys in the wrong hands!”

Below the illustration appears to be a quote from Jansson’s sixth children’s book, Tales from Moominvalley.

The poster’s message ostensibly refers to claims by some in Russia that Finland and Sweden would become puppets of the United States after the two Nordic countries join Nato….

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Ahrvid Engholm, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Peer.]

Pixel Scroll 10/26/22 Did You Know That Pixel Chases Transdimensional Scrolls?

(1) SHAUN TAN Q&A. Steven Heller interviews artist Shaun Tan for Print in “The Daily Heller: One-Eyed, One-Horned, Flying Purple People Eater”.

You create nightmarish visions that have a witty or acerbic quality, like the one-eyed creature on the cover of your book. Do you lean towards high or comic graphic depictions?
I suppose I hover in between, or try to fuse, as there’s no reason a thing can’t be both. I think of Philip Guston’s paintings, for instance, or a film like Terry Gilliam’s Brazil, which was very influential for me as a teenager, or the comics of Daniel Clowes and Chris Ware—which can be simultaneously funny and painful—the stories of Kelly Link. In fact, I love anything that exists in that space between scary and funny, or serious and frivolous. I suppose I’m interested in figuring out the difference, why we react to some things as creepy and disconcerting, and to others as delightful and amusing. I think the one-eyed creature you mention is a good one for that kind of emotional litmus test. It is both disquieting and inviting, cool and warm. A lot of the work at the easel is about striking that balance, and it is a very precarious balance that can take days to get right. For me it comes down to a backlit feather, the obscured parts of a face, the movement of shadow on stems of grass.

(2) GIANCOLA EXHIBITION. The Huntsville (AL) Museum of Art will host “Donato Giancola: Adventures in Imagination” from October 30 through January 22. Giancola is the winner of three Hugo Awards, a World Fantasy Award, plus 23 Chesley Awards for his superlative work in the field.

Donato Giancola is an American artist specializing in narrative realism with science fiction and fantasy content. Considered the most successful sci-fi/fantasy illustrator working today, he creates engaging paintings that bridge the worlds of contemporary and historical figurative arts. Exclusive to the Huntsville Museum of Art, Adventures in Imagination will include a range of thematic subjects, including paintings and drawings based on the popular HBO series Game of Thrones, J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter, J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, and the fantasy tabletop role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons. Also included are works created to illustrate the covers and stories of recent fantasy novels, as well as other surprises….

(3) CLOSE YOUR EYES. “Doctor Who: Every Companion Featured in the Centenary Special” – in case you don’t have enough spoilage already, CBR.com says they’ve named them all.

“The Power of the Doctor” was significant in Doctor Who history in more ways than one. Not only did the episode see Jodie Whittaker’s Thirteenth Doctor regenerate into one of her former selves for the first time in the series’ history, but the special was part of the BBC’s centenary celebration. The episode marked the occasion well with the return of some familiar faces from the sci-fi series’ long history, which spans more than half the BBC’s lifetime….

(4) A BOOK WITH A DIFFERENT KIND OF PROMOTION. Tananarive Due is named one of the “5 Female Demi-Gods of Horror” by CrimeReads.

TANANARIVE DUE: “Ghost Summer: Stories” (Sept. 2015)

From the USA, I present Ghost Summer: Stories, a collection of horror stories featuring fourteen short stories and the novella, Ghost Summer, from which the book gets its title. The work showcases Due’s undisputable skill as a master storyteller. Due also makes little intimate notes after each story which the reader will find just as engaging. The stories are creepy, and the horror subtle, yet powerful. Stories like The Knowing, (dealing with a woman who knows when everybody she meets is going to die, including her own son) and Ghost Summer, (featuring a town where the children are the only ones to see the ghosts dwelling in their midst) are my personal favourites. The themes of racial injustices, as well as historical events, come together to make this book a must-read for every horror fan this Halloween. Another hit by this fiercely unconventional American horror writer….

(5) IS IT A GOOD FAKE? “When a Modern Director Makes a Fake Old Movie: A Video Essay on David Fincher’s Mank. Open Culture analyzes how effective the deception is.

As of this writing, Mank is David Fincher’s newest movie — but also, in a sense, his oldest. With Netflix money behind him, he and his collaborators spared seemingly no expense in re-creating the look and feel of a nineteen-forties film using the advanced digital technologies of the twenty-twenties. The idea was not just to tell the story of Citizen Kane scriptwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz, but to make the two pictures seem like contemporaries. As Fincher’s production designer Donald Graham Burt once put it, the director “wanted the movie to be like you were in a vault and came across Citizen Kane and next to it was Mank.” ….

Here’s a video about the challenge David Fincher took on.

(6) BECALMED IN WINTER. George R.R. Martin was on Stephen Colbert’s show to promote other books and projects, however, you won’t be surprised that it was only the book he doesn’t have out that made news. In The Hollywood Reporter: “George R.R. Martin Says ‘The Winds of Winter’ Is Now Three-Quarters Finished”.

George R.R. Martin is giving a specific update on his Winds of Winter progress.

The Game of Thrones and House of the Dragon author was on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on Tuesday, where he was asked the mandatory, yet wearisome, question about his progress on the long-long-awaited next A Song of Ice and Fire book.

“I think it’s going to be a very big book [more than 1500 pages] and I think I’m about three-quarters of the way done,” Martin said. “The characters all interweave and I’m actually finished with a couple of the characters, but not others. I have to finish all that weaving.”

Colbert did the math. “So [it’s taken] 10 years to go 75 percent of the way through … which means about … three more years?”

“That’s depressing,” Martin replied, and also lamented that the moment he finishes, he’ll get the first tweet asking when his seventh and final ASOIAF book is coming, A Dream of Spring. The author said he hasn’t even played his hit game, Elden Ring, due to his writing commitment….

(7) THE HILLS ARE ALIVE WITH THE SOUND OF GAIMAN. “Author Neil Gaiman to Release First Album with Australian String Quartet” reports American Songwriter.

Creator of The Sandman, Stardust, American Gods, and countless graphic novels and books, Neil Gaiman is releasing his first album of original music, Signs of Life (Instrumental Recordings) in collaboration with the Australian FourPlay String Quartet, out April 28, 2023.

All words, music, and backing vocals provided by Gaiman, the album comes after the author and quartet have collaborated for more than 12 years. The quartet was first commissioned to compose a soundtrack for Gaiman’s 2010 novella, The Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains, which they later performed together.

Ahead of the April 2023 release, Gaiman and the quartet shared two new singles, “Bloody Sunrise” and “Credo,” the former accompanied by an official music video, directed by James Chappell, featuring Goodridge, who sings lead vocals, lying in a coffin and rising to perform with the FourPlay String Quartet in a graveyard. Gaiman, who also sings backing vocals, also makes a cameo on a flickering television screen at the beginning of the video….

(8) PLANETARY POSTER CHILD. In time for Halloween, NASA’s Exoplanet Exploration webpage invites us into the “Galaxy of Horrors”.

Take a tour of some of the most terrifying and mind-blowing destinations in our galaxy … and beyond. After a visit to these nightmare worlds, you may never want to leave Earth again! You can also download our free posters – based on real NASA science – if you dare.

Here’s an example:

(9) MEMORY LANE.

1950s [By Cat Eldridge.] Ray Bradbury’s EC Comics 

During a particularly wonderful moment in the early 1950s, EC Comics adapted twenty-five classic Ray Bradbury stories into comics form. Al Feldstein scripted, and all of EC’s artists illustrated, his tales  — Johnny Craig, Reed Crandall, Jack Davis, Will Elder, George Evans, Frank Frazetta, Graham Ingels, Jack Kamen, Roy Krenkel, Bernard Krigstein, Joe Orlando, John Severin, Angelo Torres, Al Williamson, and Wallace Wood. 

Now the twenty-five stories themselves were done between 1951 and 1954 in oversized newspaper style design. The volume also includes ten “related” stories.

The title story apparently combines two of his stories, those being “Kaleidoscope” and “Rocket Man”, and Bradbury was very proud of the result. “Sound of Thunder”, which was later filmed, is here as well. So is a favorite story of mine, “The Million Years Picnic”. 

Bradbury had several primary sources for these stories  — the Dark Carnival tales, The Martian ChroniclesThe Golden Apples of the Sun and The Illustrated Man stories.

Now Fantographics has gathered all them including those maybe unauthorized stories in Home to Stay!: The Complete Ray Bradbury EC Stories.

Not at all surprisingly, it has a load of bonus features, including introductions and commentary by Greg Bear, Thommy Burns, Bill Mason, Dr. Benjamin Saunders, and Ted White; a nice look at the comics by Bradbury; and two full-color paintings by Frank Frazetta.

It’s the usual superbly fine work by Fantographics at, all things considered, a very reasonable price, just seventy-five dollars.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 26, 1934 Dan McCarthy. The grand old man of New Zealand fandom. He belonged to Aotearapa, New Zealand’s APA, for 25 years, and was its official editor from 1986-1987 and 2001-2003. As a member, he contributed 77 issues of his fanzine Panopticon, for which he did paintings and color graphics. His skills as a fanartist were widely appreciated: he was a Fan Guest of Honour at the New Zealand national convention, a nominee for the Sir Julius Vogel Award, and he won NZ Science Fiction Fan Awards (the predecessor of the Vogel) Best Fan Artist twice. (Died 2013.) (JJ) 
  • Born October 26, 1942 Bob Hoskins. I’ll insist his role as Eddie Valiant in Who Framed Roger Rabbit? is his finest genre role although I suppose Mario Mario in Super Mario Bros. could be said… Just kidding!  He played Professor George Challenger in a film version of Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World, and also appeared in Snow White and The Huntsman, Hook, the Hugo-nominated Brazil, A Christmas Carol, Son of The Mask, and as the voice of The Badger in an animated version of The Wind in The Willows. (Died 2014.)
  • Born October 26, 1945 Jane Chance, 77. Scholar specializing in medieval English literature, gender studies, and J. R. R. Tolkien with a very, very impressive publication list for the latter such as Tolkien’s Art: A “Mythology for EnglandTolkien the MedievalistThe Lord of the Rings: The Mythology of Power and Tolkien, Self and Other: “This Queer Creature”
  • Born October 26, 1953 Jennifer Roberson, 69. Writer of of fantasy and historical romances. The Chronicles of the Cheysuli is her fantasy series about shapeshifters and their society, and the Sword-Dancer Saga is the desert-based adventure series of sort, but the series I’ve enjoyed most is her Sherwood duology that consists of Lady of the Forest and Lady of Sherwood that tells that tale from the perspective of Marian. Her hobby, which consumes much of her time, is breeding and showing Cardigan Welsh Corgis.
  • Born October 26, 1962 Cary Elwes, 60. He’s in the ever-so-excellent Princess Bride as Westley / Dread Pirate Roberts / The Man in Black which won a Hugo at Nolacon II. He also shows up in Dr. Lawrence Gordon in the Saw franchise, and was cast as Larry Kline, Mayor of Hawkins, for the third season of Stranger Things. And that’s hardly all his genre roles. 
  • Born October 26, 1963 Keith Topping, 59. Writer from England. It being the month of ghoulies, I’ve got another academic for you. He’s published a number of non-fiction reference works – frequently in collaboration with Martin Day and/or Paul Cornell – for various genre franchises, including The Avengers, The X-Files, Stargate SG-1Star Trek Next Generation and Deep Space NineBuffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, and for horror film fans in general, A Vault of Horror: A Book of 80 Great British Horror Movies from 1956-1974. He’s also written four novels in the Doctor Who universe, and co-authored The DisContinuity Guide.
  • Born October 26, 1971 Anthony Rapp, 51. Lieutenant Commander Paul Stamets on Discovery. His first role ever was Wes Hansen in Sky High, and he showed up early in his career as Jeff Glaser in the “Detour” episode of X-Files. He was Seymour Krelbourn in a national tour of Little Shop of Horrors.
  • Born October 26, 1976 Florence Kasumba, 46. Actor of German Ugandan heritage who has done films in English, German, and Dutch languages. She is best known for her role as Ayo in the Marvel universe movies Captain America: Civil War, the Hugo nominated Black Panther, and Avengers: Infinity War, but she also had a role in the Hugo-winning Wonder Woman, played the Wicked Witch of the East in the TV series Emerald City, and voiced a character in the live-action remake of The Lion King.

(11) HO HO HO, IT’S THE GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY. Entertainment Weekly cues up the clip: “The Guardians of the Galaxy kidnap Kevin Bacon in their first holiday special trailer” .

Yes, the real Kevin Bacon.

The Guardians of the Galaxy are rockin’ around the Christmas tree — or is that the Christmas Groot?

Director James Gunn has shared the first trailer for the Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special, teasing our first look at Marvel’s most festive project yet. The upcoming special will debut on Disney+ in November, and it follows everyone’s favorite ragtag band of space weirdos as they cavort around the universe and try to spread a little Christmas cheer….

(12) MAYBE IT’S JUST SOCIAL MEDIA DOES THAT. Try not to be disappointed, however, video games may not rot your brain after all! The Verge reports “Kids who play video games score higher on brain function tests”.

Kids who play video games have better memory and better control over their motor skills than kids who don’t, according to a new study looking at adolescent brain function.

Video games might not be responsible for those differences — the study can’t say what the causes are — but the findings add to a bigger body of work showing gamers have better performance on some tests of brain function. That lends support to efforts to develop games that can treat cognitive problems.

… To study video games and cognition, the research team on this new study pulled from the first set of assessments in the ABCD study. It included data on 2,217 children who were nine and 10 years old. The ABCD study asked participants how many hours of video games they played on a typical weekday or weekend day. The research team divided the group into video gamers (kids who played at least 21 hours per week) and non-video gamers (kids who played no video games per week). Kids who only played occasionally weren’t included in the study. Then, the research team looked at the kids’ performance on tests that measure attention, impulse control, and memory.

The video gamers did better on the tests, the study found…. 

(13) HOW LONG CAN YOU HOLD YOUR BREATH? “NASA instrument detects dozens of methane super-emitters from space” at Yahoo!

An orbital NASA instrument designed mainly to advance studies of airborne dust and its effects on climate change has proven adept at another key Earth-science function – detecting large, worldwide emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas.

The device, called an imaging spectrometer, has identified more than 50 methane “super-emitters” in Central Asia, the Middle East and the Southwestern United States since it was installed in July aboard the International Space Station, NASA said on Tuesday.

The newly measured methane hotspots – some previously known and others just discovered – include sprawling oil and gas facilities and large landfills….

(14) WHY I OTTER… “In Prehistoric Ethiopia, Otters Were as Big as Lions” according to Atlas Obscura.

SOME THREE MILLION YEARS AGO, one of our early hominin ancestors was chowing down on some leaves along a riverbank in what is now Ethiopia. And there it was—440 pounds of fur, with teeth strong enough to crush bone. An otter the size of a large male lion ambled through the dense grasses before bending down to drink from the muddy riverbank. Our ancestor, we figure, crept back into the surrounding woodlands. It doesn’t matter how potentially adorable the giant otter may (or may not) have been, you just don’t want to cross an animal that size.

The otter, Enhydriodon omoensis, is the largest ever found. A new study in the French journal Comptes Rendus Palevol is the first to classify the species, naming it after Ethiopia’s Omo River, where its remains were uncovered. While the study calls the otter “lion-sized,” paleontologist Margaret Lewis of Stockton University in New Jersey, who first analyzed some of the fossils in 2008*, thinks “that’s kind of underselling it.” “Bear otter,” she says, is perhaps a better term to encapsulate just how massive these otters were. Okay, grizzly otter it is….

(15) TOM AND JERRY ON THEIR WAY TO THE CRUSADES. “Artist Makes Astonishing Armor for Cats & Mice”. Open Culture admires the work.

…Using steel, silver, brass, bronze, nickel, copper, leather, fiber, wood, and his delicate jewelry making tools, DeBoer became the cats’ armorer, spending anywhere from 50 to 200 hours producing each increasingly intricate suit of feline armor.  A noble pursuit, but one that inadvertently created an “imbalance in the universe”:

The only way to fix it was to do the same for the mouse.

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Game Trailers:  Grounded,” the Screen Junkies say this game, where you shrink to bug size and run around a back yard, is a cross between Honey, I Shrunk The Kids and “any survival game you’ve ever played.” With the game explorers’ “greatest fear:  touching grass.”  But what other game lets you paint your own sphid?

[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Arnie Fenner, Daniel Dern, Jennifer Hawthorne, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, and Chris Barkley and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Cat Eldridge.]