Pixel Scroll 5/14/22 Scroll Me A Pixel I’ll Be Back For Breakfast

(1) BRAM STOKER LOSERS UNITE. Scott Edelman has famously lost many Bram Stoker Awards – and he has the card to prove it. He invites tonight’s unlucky nominees to become card-carrying members of this group.  

Tonight’s Bram Stoker awards ceremony means — there will be winners — but also losers. If any of the new Never Winner losers created tonight would like this Susan Lucci of the HWA to mail you one of my “It is an honor to be nominated” cards — ask, and one will be sent your way!

However — if you’re a previous Never Winner in Denver tonight who already owns of one of these cards and should lose yet again — please track down Lee Murray, whom I have deputized to punch you a new hole. Good … luck?

(2) LIVE LONG ENOUGH, YOU’LL PROSPER. Somtow Sucharitkul tells Facebook readers why a recent Star Trek episode rang a bell. BEWARE SPOILERS.

SPOILER COMING – But For What Exactly?

The Enterprise discovers that a comet is hurtling toward a planet that doesn’t have warp drive and whose civilization they cannot interfere with because of the prime directive. Presently, they discover that the comet is alive, and has some kind of intelligence. The only way to save the planet is to find a way to communicate with the comet, and it turns out that the key is to sing to it a folk song from someone’s homeworld….

Yes, this is the plot of the new episode of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, but it’s also the plot of my 2001 Star Trek Novel, “Do Comets Dream?” which is itself vaguely adapted from a tale told in my Inquestor series, “The Comet That Cried for Its Mother”, originally published in AMAZING….

(3) IT’S A MASSACRE. “Everything on Broadcast TV Just Got Canceled” Vanity Fair declared yesterday. It will feel like that if you watched sff on CW.

In the ever-changing television landscape, this past Thursday was a particularly tough time to be a broadcast television show. Per TV Guide, 17 broadcast television shows were officially given the axe by their respective networks yesterday. “It’s the Red Wedding at WBTV/CW today,” tweeted showrunner Julie Plec, whose CW shows Legacies and Roswell, New Mexico were both among the carnage. “Much more to say, but not today. Loads of gratitude coming for fans and cast and crew in future tweets. But today, we mourn.” 

The CW was hit particularly hard, with nine shows getting chopped in all. Along with Legacies and Roswell, New Mexico, the teen-focused network said goodbye to Dynasty after five seasons, In The Dark after four seasons, and Batwoman after three seasons. The network is currently up for sale, which may explain why it was particularly ruthless with its cancellations and downsizing its slate from 19 original scripted series to 11 original scripted series ahead of next fall….

(4) WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT, ALFIE? James Wallace Harris reprints and analyzes Alfred Bester’s vintage analysis of the genre in “Blows Against The Empire: Alfred Bester’s 1953 Critique of Science Fiction” at Classics of Science Fiction (a 2020 post).

…Bester is looking back over what many have called the Golden Age of Science Fiction and burning it down with his blaster. I wish I could find the fan reaction to this essay from back in the 1950s, but Google only returns seven results. And for those who aren’t familiar with the name Alfred Bester, he wrote two books in the 1950s that became classics: The Stars My Destination and The Demolished Man. At the time Bester had a reputation for being a writing stylist and innovator. So getting a dressing down from one of our own must have been painful.

I wonder what I would have thought if I read and understood this essay in 1962 when I first began reading science fiction. Science fiction wasn’t popular then like it is today. Science fiction was one step up from comic books, and you were called retarded (their word back then) by your peers if you read comics. I remembered also being called a geek and zero for reading SF. Back then those terms were the social kiss of death. I had two buddies that read science fiction in high school and I remember being very hurt by George’s mother when she sat is down one day and gave us a serious talk about evils of reading science fiction. George’s mother was a sophisticated, well-educated, widely traveled woman, and I was always impressed with her thoughts, so it really hurt when she tried to convince us we were reading trash. She implied reading SF was a sign we were emotionally and intellectually immature. We thought we were Slans…

(5) OPPOSING BOOK BANS. “More than 25 Organizations Join ALA’s ‘Unite Against Book Bans’ Campaign”. Among them are the Authors Guild and Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.

The American Library Association this week announced that more than 25 major organizations, including a host of publishers and author and bookseller groups, have joined its Unite Against Book Bans campaign, an effort to help communities defend the freedom to read. The ALA launched the campaign in April to raise awareness about the surge in book bans and other legislation targeting the work of schools and libraries, with support from the Steve and Loree Potash Family Foundation and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

“Our partners and supporters are critical in moving the needle to ultimately bring an end to book bans,” said Deborah Caldwell-Stone, director of the ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom. “It’s time that policymakers understand the severity of this issue. ALA is taking the steps necessary to protect individuals’ access to information, but we can’t do this alone.”…

“Three-quarters of the 1,100 plus books currently banned in public schools in the United States have been written by authors of color, LGBTQ authors, or other traditionally marginalized voices,” said Authors Guild CEO Mary Rasenberger, in a statement.

(6) NAMING CONVENTIONS. He has a point –

(7) PERSONAL TAXONOMY. Joe Vasicek, often quoted here in the Sad Puppy days of 2015, shares what he calls “an interesting personal discovery” at One Thousand And One Parsecs.

…I just made a very interesting personal discovery, gleaned from the data on my reading of the Hugo and Nebula winning books. Of the 110 novels that have won either award, I have now read all but 16 of them, which is enough data to get some representative results.

One of the best predictors that I will DNF a book is whether the author is a childless woman. Of the 18 books written by childless women, I have DNFed all but three of them (Downbelow Station by C.J. Cherryh, which I read years ago and would probably DNF today, and Network Effect by Martha Wells, which is a genuinely entertaining read, and Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norell by Susanna Clarke, which I haven’t read yet). For childless men, it’s a little bit more of a crapshoot: of the 31 books written by childless men, I’ve DNFed 16 of them and read 11, but only 6 of those are books I thought were worth owning.

Conversely, one of the best predictors that I will enjoy a book is whether the author is a mother. Of the 20 books written by mothers, I have DNFed only 6 of them and read 8, all of which I think are worth owning. Of the six remaining books that I haven’t read yet, I will almost certainly finish four of them, and may finish all six. The only book by an author I haven’t already read and enjoyed is The Speed of Dark by Elizabeth Moon, which I am currently reading and will probably finish next week…

(8) LIGHT MY FIRE. “Firestarter (2022) vs. Firestarter (1984): Which Stephen King adaptation burns brightest?” – Clark Collis supplies his answer at Entertainment Weekly. The summaries of each film make good reading, too.

… The 1984 film stars Barrymore as Charlie McGee, a young girl with pyrokinetic powers who is fleeing from a sinister government organization called “The Shop” with her father Andy, played by David Keith. Andy has been training Charlie to use her powers properly by getting her to turn bread into toast with her mind but it is the unfortunate Shop agents who get browned as Barrymore’s character periodically sets them ablaze. The supporting cast is notable for a few reasons. Oscar-winners Art Carney and Louise Fletcher play a couple who befriend Charlie and Andy, while Martin Sheen portrays the head of the Shop just a year after his performance in David Cronenberg’s adaptation of King’s The Dead Zone. Finally, another Academy Award-winner, George C. Scott, is inexplicably cast as the seemingly First Nation assassin John Rainbird, who has a fondness for punching his targets’ noses into their brains and an unhealthy interest in our heroine…

(9) TOM SWIFT. Edge Media Network supplies an intro as “First Trailer Drops for New CW Series ‘Tom Swift’ Featuring a Black Gay Lead Character”.

…”Tian Richards already made his debut as Tom Swift on one of the best episodes of ‘Nancy Drew’ yet, but get ready to see him in a whole new light on his own show,” EW said.

As previously reported at EDGE, being gay was a prominent part of the character’s depiction when he made a guest appearance on “Nancy Drew.” Sparks flew between Tom Swift and “Nancy Drew” regular character Nick (Tunji Kasim), leading to an onscreen kiss….

(10) WHEN I USE A WORD. At Tor.com, CD Covington’s series on sff linguistics finally tackles the 500-lb gorilla: “On Tolkien, Translation, Linguistics, and the Languages of Middle-earth”.

Since I started this column in 2019, I’ve been avoiding one famous—possibly even the most famous—example of using linguistics in SFF literature: the work of J.R.R. Tolkien. It’s not because I don’t like Lord of the Rings—quite the opposite, in fact. It’s just such an obvious topic, and one which people have devoted decades of scholarship to exploring. Hell, my Old English prof has published academic scholarship on the topic, in addition to teaching a Maymester class on the languages of Middle-earth. But I suppose it’s time to dedicate a column to the book that first made me think language was cool and to the man who wrote it.

(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

2010 [By Cat Eldridge.] I’m starting this essay by acknowledging that everyone has their favorite Robin Hood. My all-time favorite is the one in the Robin of Sherwood series, Robin of Loxley as played by Michael Praed. And yes, I acknowledge that the second Robin, Robert of Huntingdon as performed by Jason Connery was quite excellent too. Richard Carpenter did himself proud with this series. 

But I’m here tonight to talk about one of my favorite Robin Hood films (the other being Robin and Marian.) Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood premiered in the States on this date twelve years ago. It was written by Brian Helgeland who had done mostly horror films before this but was also the screenwriter of the beloved A Knight’s Tale. He along with Ethan Reiff and Cyrus Voris were responsible for the story.

It was produced by Ridley Scott, Brian Grazer and Russell Crowe. Yes the actor who played Robin Hood here helped produce it. So let’s turn to casting. 

I think Crowe made an outstanding Robin Longstride and Cate Blanchett as Marion Loxley was a great casting move. Other interesting casting here includes Max von Sydow as Sir Walter Loxley and William Hurt as William Marshal. This was not a cast of unknowns. I thought Matthew Macfadyen as the Sheriff of Nottingham was interesting as the actor usually had much lighter roles. Mark Addy as Friar Tuck was well cast. 

It was a very expensive undertaking costing at least two hundred million and it took in least three hundred and twenty-five million, so it likely just broke even.

And what was the opinion of critics at the time? Well it was decidedly mixed with Deborah Ross of UK’s Spectator on the side of the dissenters: “Scott decided, I think, to get away from the whole campy thing in tights business and wanted to make this ‘real’. So there is sweat and dirt and rats at the cheese and even bad teeth, which is fair enough, but it is also joyless.” 

But Richard Klein of Shadows on the Wall liked it: “Ridley Scott and his usual Oscar-winning crewmates turn the familiar old English legend it into a robust, thumping epic. The pacing is a bit uneven, but it keeps us thoroughly engaged.”

Let’s finish off with Jeffrey Westhoff of the Northwest Herald:  “Robin Hood doesn’t become the swashbuckling bandit of Sherwood until the final moments, when the tag “And so the legend begins” appears. You may walk away liking this Robin Hood well enough, but wishing you had seen the sequel.” 

It gets just a fifty eight percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. 

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born May 14, 1929 Kay Elliot. The actress who shows up in “I, Mudd” as the android form of Harry Mudd’s wife Stella Mudd. SPOILER ALERT (I promised our OGH I’d put these in. It’s possible someone here hasn’t seen “I, Mudd”.) Need I say she ends getting the upper hand in the end? She also had appearences in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. as Miss Prendergast in “The It’s All Greek to Me Affair” episode and multiple roles on Bewitched. That’s it, but she died young. (Died 1982.)
  • Born May 14, 1933 Siân Phillips, 89. Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam in David Lynch’s Dune, Cassiopeia in Clash of The Titans, Grandmother in A Christmas Carol, Charal in Ewoks: The Battle for Endor, and The Red Queen in Alice Through the Looking Glass. And I’m about to see her on Silent Witness.
  • Born May 14, 1935 Peter J. Reed. A Vonnegut specialist with a long track history starting with Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.; The Vonnegut Chronicles: Interviews and Essays that he wrote with Marc Leeds; Kurt Vonnegut: Images and Representations again with Leeds again. He also wrote a handful of essays such as “Hurting ’til It Laughs: The Painful-Comic Science Fiction Stories of Kurt Vonnegut” and “Kurt Vonnegut’s Bitter Fool: Kilgore Trout”. (Died 2018.)
  • Born May 14, 1944 George Lucas, 78. For better and worse, he created the Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises. Raiders of the Lost Ark and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade are fine, the others suck royally in my opinion. Later Star Wars films are meh though I adore the original trilogy. And let’s not forget THX 1138. So you ask, what are my favorite works that he was involved in? LabyrinthRaiders of the Lost Ark, The Empire Strikes Back and Willow. Yes Willow. Oh, and The Young Indiana Jones series which I really, really loved. 
  • Born May 14, 1945 Francesca Annis, 77. Lady Jessica in David Lynch’s Dune, Lady Macbeth in Roman Polanski’s Macbeth. I know only two roles, but what a pair of roles they were! She also appeared in Krull as The Widow of The Web but I’ll be damned if I can remember her in that role. 
  • Born May 14, 1952 Kathleen Ann Goonan. Her Nanotech Quartet is most excellent, particularly the first novel, Queen City Jazz. Her only Award was given for In War Times which garnered a John W. Campbell Memorial Award. She’s wrote an interesting essay on the relationship between sf and music, “Science Fiction and All That Jazz”. (Died 2021.)
  • Born May 14, 1952 Robert Zemeckis, 70. He’s responsible for some of my favorite films including the Back to the Future trilogy, The Muppet Christmas CarolThe WitchesWho Framed Roger Rabbit and the savagely funny in a twisted sort of way Death Becomes Her. So what’s your favorite films that’s he had a hand in? 
  • Born May 14, 1955 Rob Tapert, 67. I’d say he’s best known for co-creating Xena: Warrior Princess. He also produced and/or wrote several other television series including Hercules: The Legendary JourneysM.A.N.T.I.S. and American Gothic. Tapert also co-created the prequel series Young Hercules which I loved. He’s married to actress Lucy Lawless.

(13) COMICS SECTION.

  • Let Nick Mamatas introduce Tom Gauld’s strip for today’s Guardian.
  • Next, here’s Gauld’s latest comic for New Scientist.

(14) CLUES OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Keith Roysdon remembers newspaper crime comic strips (remember Steve Roper and Mike Nomad?) “Black and White and Noir All Over: A Brief History of Vintage Newspaper Crime Comic Strips” at CrimeReads.

Who could have known that newspaper comic strips and crime stories, including noir, were a match made in heaven?

Newspaper comic strips are an artistic genre that’s largely forgotten now. The strips that remain are for the most part humor strips like “Garfield.” A handful of dramatic strips are still published.

But serial dramatic strips were once a staple of the newspaper comics page. Many of them were soap opera-ish strips like “Mary Worth” and “Apartment 3-G.” To say that drama strips were slow moving is an understatement. I wish I could remember who joked that they came back to read “Apartment 3-G” after decades away and the caption read, “Later that afternoon …”

But that deliberate pace – well, maybe not quite that deliberate – was perfect for teasing out a good crime storyline. And crime and noir look awesome in black and white newsprint.

(15) MUSIC WITHOUT THE SPHERES. “Peace is Still Weirder Than War” asserts Laurie Penny in a very entertaining essay about Eurovision. Admittedly, nothing to do with sff except a brief reference to Catherynne M. Valente’s Space Opera at the end.

…Britain is a lot worse at Eurovision than you’d think. We’ve spent half a century distracting the world from our post imperial decline by flinging out wild handfuls of pop music and self deprecating humour, so we really ought to be able to deploy them here. Sadly, we’re scuppered every time by our even more fundamental fear of looking daft in front of the French.

We’ve made worse choices for the same reason.

But reasons are not excuses, and the land of Monty Python, David Bowie and the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band should be able to do better than another basic bearded guitar boy. We do have the best tv commentary by miles, after Graham Norton seamlessly accepted the baton from the great Terry Wogan, proving once again that Britain’s comfort zone is making fun of other people.  Yes. Hi.

…For related reasons, Ukraine are likely to win this year. Russia can sulk all they like, just like they did when Ukraine stood down from Eurovision in 2015with the reasonable excuse that they were busy being invaded by Russia. in 2016, Ukraine was back, and it won, narrowly beating Russia, whose entry looked like someone repurposed a rave club as a re-education camp without redecorating. Not only did Ukraine win, it won with a song called ‘1944’, about the Soviet genocide of the Crimean Tartars. Russia has not forgotten this. State Television spent a long time denouncing Eurovision as a degenerate spectacle of homosexuality, which did as much good as denouncing bears for defecating in the woods.

But Russia has never really been any good at Eurovision. This year they’re not even going, partly because the Kremlin has no interest in any competition it can’t cheat at, but mostly because they got banned. It’s hard to get banned from Eurovision, but invading a neighboring country and massacring tens of thousands of people will do the trick….

(16) STOP, NOW, WHAT’S THAT SOUND? ScreenRant suggests “10 ‘Subtly’ Scary Horror Movies (For Horror Fans Sick Of Jump Scares)”. A Bradbury adaptation leads the list!

Sometimes the unknown or the unnatural can be much more terrifying than any masked slasher with a chainsaw.

….It’s not so much that these films rely on someone hiding in the shadows and yelling boo, but rather the audience knows something is wrong but can’t identify what. While jump scares and other such tactics might be sparsely employed, the real horror in these movies comes from both knowing and not knowing what might be in store.

Something Wicked This Way Comes (1983)

Sometimes, the scariest movies are the ones where nobody dies, and Disney’s Something Wicked This Way Comes is a brilliant example. Based on the book by Ray Bradbury, the film tells the story of what happens when a mysterious carnival lurks into town one windy October.

Led by the mysterious Mr. Dark, Cooger and Dark’s Shadow Show has the uncanny ability to grant anyone’s wishes and make their dreams come true. But like with most things Disney, all magic comes at a price. When two boys and the local librarian are able to see through the illusions, a slow-burning battle with the freakshow for the souls of the town takes place.

(17) THE HUNDREDTH SHADE. Paul Weimer reviews “Gregory A. Wilson’s Grayshade” at A Green Man Review.

… We meet Grayshade in the midst of an assassination that doesn’t go quite to plan, and a relatively atypical assassination target at that – the outwardly flighty socialite wife of a political powerful man, which in itself seems odd to Grayshade. We come to Grayshade at a point in his career where he is extremely experienced and very good at what he does. This is no “coming of age” novel where we follow the assassin through his first mission; rather this is someone who has past adventures and missions behind him, which grounds him for when things do not go according to his expectations. Things spiral out from the assassination not going right, to the point where Grayshade starts to question his purpose, his role, and the entire Order.

This makes a lot of the novel about information control and dissemination, which in turn reminds me of Wilson’s gamemastering….

(18) BAD BACK TO THE FUTURE. At Galactic Journey, Jessica Holmes gives us an recap of the latest (in 1967!) episode of Doctor Who. “[May 14, 1967] Ben And Polly To The Departure Gate (Doctor Who: The Faceless Ones [Part 2])”.

…We left things off with the Doctor having a sudden attack of a bad back, and things only get worse, with Spencer disabling Jamie and Samantha within moments of the episode’s opening.

Now would be a good time to finish them off, you’d think, but instead he sets up some sort of death ray to kill them… eventually. The thing moves so slowly the trio would probably have time for a round of golf before the ray fries them. Though mostly paralysed, Samantha conveniently has enough control of her faculties to get her mirror from her bag and hand it to Jamie, who uses it to reflect the beam and blow up the death ray machine.

With the machine destroyed, their partial paralysis wears off, which doesn’t make an awful lot of sense to me. I thought it was the freezing pen that paralysed them? And I’m still not sure what that device on the Doctor’s back did to him…

(19) AND YOU ARE THERE. This fossil is in a way a snapshot: “How the dinosaurs died: New evidence In PBS documentary” – the Washington Post digs into the story.

…The ground started shaking with intense vibrations while water in the nearby sea sloshed about in response. The sky filled with burning embers, which drifted down and set fire to the lush primordial forest.

Thescelosaurus panicked and looked to flee — but it was too late. Everything changed in a heartbeat as a 30-foot-high wave of mud and debris came racing up the seaway from the south, sweeping away life and limb in the process. The dinosaur was caught in the destructive deluge, its leg ripped off at the hip by the devastating surge.

That moment — 66 million years ago at the end of the Cretaceous period, when an earth-shattering asteroid ended the reign of the dinosaurs — is frozen in time today through a stunning fossil found last year at the Tanis dig site in North Dakota. This perfectly preserved leg clearly shows the skin, muscle and bones of the three-toed Thescelosaurus.

While the details of the death scenario described above are embellished, they’re based on remarkable new findings and accounts by Robert DePalma, lead paleontologist at Tanis.

“We’re never going to say with 100 percent certainty that this leg came from an animal that died on that day,” the scientist said. “The thing we can do is determine the likelihood that it died the day the meteor struck. When we look at the preservation of the leg and the skin around the articulated bones, we’re talking on the day of impact or right before. There was no advanced decay.”…

(20) DRAWN WITHOUT DRAWERS. CBR.com remembers: “Star Wars: Why George Lucas Had to Fight for Chewbacca Not to Wear Shorts”.

…So he wanted McQuarrie to go beyond humanoid and try to do more of an animal design for Chewbacca. Lucas’ recall led him to a recent issue of Analog Magazine, which had a short novel in it by a pre-Game of Thrones George R.R. Martin called “And Seven Times Never Kill a Man.” Artist John Schoenherr had designed some characters for Martin’s story and they made it to the cover of the magazine…

Lucas sent the drawings to McQuarrie and basically said, “Draw Chewbacca like that” and so that’s what McQuarrie did…

The problem with having basically a giant dog as a character is that dogs, well, you know, don’t have pants. McQuarrie kept coming up with some designs with the character in pants and Lucas kept saying no and that carried over to when the film started production. Lucas’ specific vision of what Chewbacca would look like required him to not have pants and that was a bit of a strange thing for the studio executives at the time.

During the DVD commentary for the 2004 release of Star Wars on DVD, Mark Hamill recalled what Lucas had to go through with regard to Chewbacca’s lack of clothes. “I remember the memos from 20th Century Fox. Can you put a pair of lederhosen on the Wookiee?’ All they could think of was, ‘This character has no pants on!’ This went back and forth. They did sketches of him in culottes and baggy shorts.”…

(21) BEING SNARKY. Would Lewis Carroll readers with an unassigned two hours or so available be interested in the opportunity to watch this complete production? “The Hunting of the Snark” posted by Official London Theatre.

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

Pixel Scroll 5/5/22 I Have Pixeled The Scrolls That Were In The File, And Which You Were Probably Saving For Worldcon

(1) FREE COMIC BOOK DAY DRAWS NEAR. May 7 is Free Comic Book Day, a single day when participating comic book specialty shops across North America and around the world give away comic books to anyone who comes in. Check out the Free Comic Book Day Catalog and see what’s available. Different shops have policies on how many free comics you can receive, but you will receive at least one free comic if you enter a participating shop location. Use the Store Locator tool to find the shop near you.

(2) TAFF DELEGATE COMING HOME. Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund delegate Michael “Orange Mike” Lowrey made it through the Covid protocol and is scheduled to return to the U.S. from the U.K. tomorrow.

(3) FLAME ON. The House of the Dragon official teaser trailer is live.

History does not remember blood. It remembers names. August 21.

HBO also released these character posters.

(4) OPERATION FANTAST LEGACY BUSINESS ENDING. [Item by Andrew Porter.] Susie Haynes, owner of Fantast Three, will close the business after importing and distributing the July/August issues of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science FictionAnalog SF, and Asimov’s SF, the US SF magazines she imports. She has already sold off her remaining stock of science fiction books.

It was originally begun as “Operation Fantast” by British SF fan Ken Slater, who played a major role in restarting British science fiction fandom after World War II. 

He created Operation Fantast to get around British post-WW II import and currency restrictions. This was turned into the bookseller Fantast (Medway) Ltd. in 1955. When Slater died in 2008 his daughter took over the business. Between them, the business had existed for 75 years.

(5) OVERCOMER HONORED. The American Library Association announces: “Martha Hickson receives the 2022 Lemony Snicket Prize for Noble Librarians Faced with Adversity”. The award was established in 2014 by the American Library Association in partnership with Snicket series author Daniel Handler. The prize, which is co-administered by ALA’s Governance Office and the Office for Intellectual Freedom, annually recognizes and honors a librarian who has faced adversity with integrity and dignity intact. The prize is $10,000, a certificate and “an odd, symbolic object.” 

Martha Hickson, media specialist at North Hunterdon High School in Annandale, New Jersey, has been selected as the recipient of the 2022 Lemony Snicket Prize for Noble Librarians Faced with Adversity. Daniel Handler, also known as Lemony Snicket, will present Hickson with the award—a cash prize and an object from Handler’s private collection—during the American Library Association (ALA) Annual Conference & Exhibition on Sunday, June 26, 2022 in Washington DC.

There has been no shortage of high-profile censorship challenges infesting school libraries across the United States since students returned from pandemic confinement in the Fall of 2021, but it was a fight that Hickson had already been fighting, tooth and nail. In fact, she has persevered through several book challenges since she began as a high school librarian in 2005. In 2021, however, the battle reached a new peak.

When a community group attended the Board of Education (BOE) meeting and demanded that two award-winning books with LGBTQ+ themes—Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe and Lawn Boy by Jonathan Evison (and later three additional LGBTQ+ titles)—be pulled from the library shelves, their allegations not only attacked the books but Hickson herself, labeling her by name as a pornographer and pedophile for providing children with access to the titles in question. In the following weeks, she endured personal attacks from the community, hate mail, threats, nuisance vandalism, and even questions about her judgment and integrity from her administration. In fact, the open adversity became so pervasive and extreme that her blood pressure and anxiety rose to the dangerous point where her physician removed her from her workplace.

Despite this adversity, however, Hickson persisted and persevered in her unwavering defense of her students’ right to intellectual freedom and right to read, including galvanizing a group of community allies to attend the BOE meetings, gathering testimonies from LGBTQ+ students, recruiting local author David Levithan to write a statement of support, and even consulting and offering advice on censorship battles to the library community at large. At the January BOE meeting, the resolution to ban the five books in question was effectively voted down, and all challenged books remain proudly on the North Hunterdon High School library shelf….

(6) BOGUS OFFERS. The Bookseller warns “Fraudster impersonates HarperCollins editorial director and offers book contracts”.

A fraudster has been impersonating a HarperCollins editorial director and sending out messages offering book contracts.  

Phoebe Morgan, editorial director at HarperFiction, revealed on Twitter that someone has been using a fake HarperCollins account and claiming to be her. She said the impersonator has been using her photo and background information, but could be identified as a fraud by the email address, which replaced the two “l’ letters in HarperCollins with the number “1”.  

She tweeted: “If someone says they’re a crime editor wanting to offer a contract please flag as suspicious. HC would never contact you in that way”. 

The tactic is similar to the one said to be used by Filippo Bernardini, a former rights assistant at S&S UK who was arrested and charged by the FBI with allegedly stealing hundreds of book manuscripts over several years….  

(7) STREET SMARTS. “’Kimmel’ Tests People On ‘Star Wars’ vs. U.S. History And You Know What Happened”HuffPost sets the frame:

Kimmel’s crew asked random people on Hollywood Boulevard questions about the space opera franchise and U.S. history.

(8) HAVE YOU RED? [Item by Joey Eschrich.] On June 1, Future Tense is cohosting the latest in our Science Fiction/Real Policy Book Club series, discussing All Systems Red by Martha Wells. Here are the details. I should note that the author won’t be joining us—for this book club series, we want to focus on discussion and deliberation, rather than on getting the behind-the-scenes. RSVP here.

The novel explores a spacefaring future in which corporate-driven exploratory missions rely heavily on security androids. In Wells’ engaging – at times funny – tale, one such android hacks its own system to attain more autonomy from the humans he is accompanying. The result is a thought-provoking inquiry into the evolving nature of potential human-robot relations.

Join Future Tense and Issues in Science and Technology at 6pm ET on Wednesday, June 1 to discuss the novel and its real-world implications. The book club will feature breakout rooms (they’re fun and stress-free, we promise) where we can all compare notes and share reactions, even if we didn’t finish the book (though we picked a short one this time!).

(9) AND BEYOND. This promo for Lightyear dropped today.

(10) TINTIN CREATOR. Nicholas Whyte discusses “Hergé, Son of Tintin, by Benoît Peeters” at From the Heart of Europe.

…Like all good Belgian comics fans, I’m fascinated by the adventures of Tintin and by their creator. This is a really interesting biographical study, by a writer who met Hergé an interviewed him a couple of times, and has now lived long enough to absorb the mass of critical commentary on Hergé’s work that has emerged over the decades.

I learned a lot from it. In particular, I learned that it’s very difficult to navigate exactly how close Hergé came to collaboration with the occupying Germans during the war…

(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1992 [By Cat Eldridge.] Forever Knight, a vampire detective series, premiered thirty years ago, and concluded with the third-season finale just over three years later. This series was filmed and set in Toronto. 

It was created by Barney Cohen who wrote Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter, and James D. Parriott, who was responsible for Misfits of Science.

It starred Geraint Wyn Davies, Catherine Disher, Nigel Bennett, Ben Bass, Deborah Duchêne and Blu Mankuma. It is considered the predecessor to such series as Angel

It managed in its short span to run on CBS (the first season), first-run syndication (the second season) and the USA Network (the third and final season). 

So what was its reception? Well the Canadian TV industry loved it but I suspect that was because it was providing a lot of jobs. Seriously it wasn’t for the quality of the scripts. I watched it enough to see that it was really badly written. Forever Knight was nominated for thirteen industry Gemini Awards, and won once in 1996. 

It was as one reviewer at the time noted a soap opera: “The acting in this one is decent but there was more time than I can count where I was rolling my eyes by how much the cast was hamming it up. The characters are fun but they often slip away into the cliched void of day time soaps.” 

I don’t think it is streaming anywhere currently.

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born May 5, 1908 Pat Frank. Author of Alas, Babylon who also wrote a 160-page non-fiction book, How To Survive the H Bomb And Why (1962). (Insert irony here if you want.) Forbidden Area, another novel, he wrote, was adapted by Rod Serling for the 1957 debut episode of Playhouse 90. (Died 1964.)
  • Born May 5, 1922 Joseph Stefano. Screenwriter who adapted Bloch’s novel as the script for Hitchcock’s Psycho. He was also a producer for the first season of Outer Limits and wrote a total of twelve episodes. He also the screenwriter for the very horrifying Eye of The Cat. He wrote Next Generation’s “Skin of Evil” episode. And he was producer on the original Swamp Thing. (Died 2006.)
  • Born May 5, 1942 Lee Killough, 80. Author of two series, the Brill and Maxwell series which I read a very long time ago and remember immensely enjoying, and the Bloodwalk series which doesn’t ring even a faint bell. I see she’s written a number of stand-alone novels as well – who’s read deeply of her? Her only Hugo nomination was at Aussiecon Two for her short story, “Symphony for a Lost Traveler”.  And in the early Eighties, she wrote an interesting essay called “Checking On Culture: A Checklist for Culture Building”. Who’s read it? 
  • Born May 5, 1943 Michael Palin, 79. Monty Python of course. I’ll single him out for writing the BFA-winning Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life and co-writing the BSFA-winning Time Bandits with Terry Gilliam. He and the rest of the troupe were Hugo finalists in 1976 for Monty Python and the Holy Grail. And it might be at least genre adjacent, so I’m going to single him out for being in A Fish Called Wanda for which he won the BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role. 
  • Born May 5, 1944 John Rhys-Davies, 78. He’s known for his portrayal of Gimli and the voice of Treebeard in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, General Leonid Pushkin in The Living Daylights, King Richard I in Robin of Sherwood, Professor Maximillian Arturo in Sliders, a most excellent Hades in the animated Justice League Unlimted series, Hades in Justice League and Sallah in the Indiana Jones films. Oh, and voicing Macbeth in the exemplary Gargoyles animated series too. He’s getting his action figure shortly of Macbeth from NECA! 
  • Born May 5, 1957 Richard E. Grant, 64. He first shows up in our world as Giles Redferne in Warlock, begore going on to be Jack Seward in Bram Stoker’s Dracula. On a lighter note, he’s Frederick Sackville-Bagg in The Little Vampire, and the voice of Lord Barkis Bittern in Corpse Bride. He breaks into the MCU as Xander Rice in Logan, and the Star Wars universe by being Allegiant General Enric Pryde in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Now I had forgotten that he’s in the Whoverse twice, once seriously and once very not. The first appearance was the latter as he in Doctor Who and the Curse of Fatal Death as The Conceited Doctor. And then he plays the Great Intelligence in three episodes of Doctor Who.
  • Born May 5, 1979 Catherynne Valente, 43. I personally think her best work is The Orphan’s Tales which The Night Garden got Otherwise and Mythopoeic Awards, while the second work, In The Cities of Coin and Spice, garnered the latter Award as well. Palimpsest which is one weird novel picked up, not at all surprisingly a Lambda and was nominated for a Hugo at Aussiecon 4. The first novel in the incredibly neat Fairyland series, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, picked up a coveted Norton. (Well I think it’s coveted.) Next up is “Fade to White,” novelette nominated for a Hugo at LoneStarCon 3, and a favorite of mine, the “Six-Gun Snow White” novella, was a nominee at LonCon 3. Let’s finish by noting that she was part of SF Squeecast which won two Hugos, the first at Chicon 7 then at LoneStarCon 3. 

(13) COMICS SECTION.

  • Garfield requires your imagination to fill in the horrific vision.
  • The Argyle Sweater shows a monster with dietary restrictions.
  • Tom Gauld reveals little-known-facts about a well-known fantasy series.

(14) IF YOU HAVE MONEY TO BURN. “Fahrenheit 451 Leads AntiquarianAuctions.com Sale” reports Fine Books & Collections. This is the fireproof edition. Place your bid at AntiquarianAuctions.com through May 11.

…The sale starts with flourish: lot 1 is the best available copy of the signed limited edition of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 (NY: 1953), bound in ‘Johns-Manville Quinterra an asbestos material with exceptional resistance to pyrolysis’ it is estimated at $13000 to 18000, but has a reserve at just $10,000. This is accompanied by 14 other lots of similar works, including 2 others from Bradbury (Dark Carnival [Sauk City: Arkham, 1947], and an excellent copy of the 1st paperback edition of 451 [NY: Ballantine; 1953]).

(15) COOL ANIMATED COMPILATION. View the “Top 100 3D Renders from the Internet’s Biggest CG Challenge” at Infinite Journeys.

During February 2022, I challenged 3D artists with the Infinite Journeys 3D challenge, where I provided artists with a simple animation of a moving “vehicle” and they built out their own customs scenes. Of the 2,448 entires, the top 100 were chosen for this montage, and 5 of them walked away with insane prizes from Maxon, Rokoko, Camp Mograph, Wacom, Looking Glass Factory, and mograph.com.

(16) DOES CRIME PAY? At Nerds of a Feather, Roseanna Pendlebury’s “Microreview [Book]: Book of Night by Holly Black” includes some criticisms but overall gives strong reasons to add this book to our TBR piles.

… The story follows Charlie Hall, a reformed con artist and thief who used to work adjacent to the shady (ha) world of the gloamists, who work magic on shadows, but she’s now trying to keep on the straight and narrow. She’s working a normal job bartending at a dive bar, dating a reliable boyfriend about whom she’s having some doubts and trying to help her little sister get into college. Obviously, this doesn’t last, and she gets pulled back into the world she tried to leave behind. Much like Black’s YA books, the plotting isn’t desperately original, but that’s also not what it’s aiming for, really.

What it is aiming for, and succeeds at, is a fun, dark, enthralling bit of world building, something that the reader can immediately get sucked into and get the feel of, while still with plenty of mileage to build throughout the story. And her gloamists are absolutely that. There’s sexy crime – daring heists of secret magical books – as well as secrecy, hidden arts, a potential pedigree stretching way back into history – the secret magical tomes to be stolen have to come from somewhere, right? – and plenty of scope for there being downtrodden people who can use their wits to outfox the powerful….

(17) BE PREPARED. And Paul Weimer, in “Centireview: Inheritors of Power by Juliette Wade”, advises Nerds of a Feather readers that to really enjoy this third novel in the author’s series they ought to start at book one:

…That all said, however, as much as Wade can prepare a reader new to the world to the complexities of the Varin and their very alien human society, this is a novel that really relies on knowledge of the previous two books, both on a high worldbuilding and also on a character level to really succeed. With the basis of that two novels, though, it is clear to me here, that this is a rich and deep and complex story that I get the feeling Wade has wanted to tell from the beginning, and from this point. 

There is a theory in writing that one of the keys to writing any work of fiction is to know where the story begins and to start the story at that point,. In some ways, the rich story of this novel, of which I will speak shortly, seems to be the story that Wade has wanted to tell since the beginning of Mazes of Power. In Wade’s case, however, and for the readers, this story only really can work as a story if you have the background of the first two novels in order to get the full force and impact of what happens here….

(18) CATCH AND RELEASE. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] “A helicopter caught and released a rocket this week” and Popular Science explains why. (Video here briefly shows the linkup around 52:30.)

…“At 6,500 ft, Rocket Lab’s Sikorsky S-92 helicopter rendezvoused with the returning stage and used a hook on a long line to capture the parachute line,” Rocket Lab said in a release. “After the catch, the helicopter pilot detected different load characteristics than previously experienced in testing and offloaded the stage for a successful splashdown.”

For this specific launch, the catch ended up being more of a catch-and-release, but that attempt still went an important way to demonstrating the viability of the option. Knowing that the release worked—that the helicopter crew was able to snag the rocket and then determine they needed to jettison the booster—is a key part of proving viability. A method that involves helicopters but jeopardizes them pairs reusability with risk to the human crew….

(19) FLY ME TO THE MOON. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Well, OK, not to the Moon. Not even to low Earth orbit. But almost 5 miles is still fairly high. For the first time, SpinLaunch put a camera onboard one of the projectiles for their suborbital centrifugal launch test platform. Choosing a camera for the payload was probably a good idea, since I don’t think even fruit flies would have enjoyed the ride.

Gizmodo introduces a “Dizzying Video Shows What It’s Like to Get Shot Out of a Centrifuge at 1,000 MPH”:

…Such tests are becoming routine for SpinLaunch, with the first demonstration of the kinetic launch system occurring last October. This time, however, the company did something new by strapping a camera, or “optical payload,” onto the 10-foot-long (3-meter) projectile.

Footage from the onboard camera shows the projectile hurtling upwards from the kinetic launch system at speeds in excess of 1,000 miles per hour (1,600 kilometers per hour). The flight lasted for 82 seconds, during which time the test vehicle reached an altitude of over 25,000 feet (7,620 meters), according to David Wrenn, vice president of technology at SpinLaunch….

(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Harry Potter and the Goblet of fire Pitch Meeting,” Ryan George says the fourth Harry Potter film brings back many familiar plot points, including the speech from Dumbledore about the many ways Hgwarts students can die.  The producer,being told of a test where several characters nearly drown, says “wizards are not OK people.”  Trivia lovers will note this film was Robert Pattinson’s debut.

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

Pixel Scroll 4/24/22 Story Day, Sweepin’ Boredom Away, On My Way To Where Genre Fans Meet, Can You Tell Me How To Get? How To Get To Pixel Scroll Street?

(1) WRITING ADVICE. Cat Rambo advises “Write What You Love” in a guest post at Stone Soup.

…Write what you love is one of those pieces of writing advice that gets trotted around and may even seem the equivalent of the LIVE LOVE LAUGH plaque hanging in some existential AirBnb of the soul. It’s a piece of advice that is so basic, so simple that people ignore it, think it purely decorative.

But the thing about that sort of advice is that often it’s worth taking the time to look again. Sometimes they’re more like zen koans, or puzzle boxes that yield increasing levels of secrets the more you know about unlocking their depths.

Absolutely, write what you love, and know that there are a multitude of reasons for doing so….

(2) VIDEO GAME REVIEW. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times behind a paywall, Tom Faber reviews Tunic.

…There are many games that keep their secrets hidden, but few are brave enough to refuse to tell you how to play. In Tunic you will have to work out for yourself how to run or level up your skills, often learning that you had an ability or an access to a shortcut that you could have been using all along, had you known it was there. There is something profound about a game that doesn’t expect you constantly to acquire new moves, but asks you to look within and discover the true extent of your abilities.

This thoughtful ethos is threaded through every layer of Tunic, a passion project by Canadian developer Andrew Shouldice, who spent seven years making it, mostly alone. The result feels singular yet also indebted to gaming history. Its top-down perspective and endless waves of slashable monsters recall recent indie games such as Hades and Death’s Door, but deeper in this game’s DNA are more ambitious references: to the way Elden Ring plays with death and combat, the sophisticated meta-puzzles of Fez and the obscure secrets in classic Mario and Zelda….

(3) COULDN’T SPARE TIME TO BE TIME TRAVELER. Slashfilm remembers this lost opportunity: “The Star Trek Role That Was Actually Written For Robin Williams”.

…[Whoopi] Goldberg is also, it turns out, old friends with comedian Robin Williams, as she, Williams, and Billy Crystal were the three headliners of the comedy charity event Comic Relief. And this is where we talk about how Williams wanted to follow Goldberg and make an appearance on “Star Trek: The Next Generation.”

In 1991, when “Next Generation” was in its fifth season, the show’s writers wanted to include Robin Williams. Williams was always an outspoken Trekkie — he even made a reference to killing off Spock in an episode of “Mork & Mindy” — and the “Trek” writers were, in turn, big Robin Williams fans. Williams’ fast-talking, manic comedy wasn’t necessarily a good match for the normally staid, composed, mature tone of “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” so the writers would have to create a new role — likely not a Starfleet officer — for Williams…

(4) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

2014 [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.] One day the AIs are going to look back on us the same way we look at fossil skeletons on the plains of Africa. An upright ape living in dust with crude language and tools, all set for extinction. — Nathan, the programmer

Just eight years ago, Ex Machina premiered written and directed by Alex Garland in his directorial debut. He previously wrote and produced Dredd but let’s not hold that against him. Too much. This is a story that follows a programmer who is invited by his CEO to administer the Turing test to an intelligent humanoid robot.

It had a core cast of Domhnall Gleeson, Alicia Vikander and Oscar Isaac. 

It was made on a budget of just fifteen million, and it grossed thirty-six worldwide. Not bad at all. 

The reception was quite good. The critic at The Reader liked and said, “What’s amazing about Ex Machina is Garland’s precise control over the audience both visually and through a singularly perfect script. The characters and the audience are both captive, processing the slightest information as fast as they can.” Whereas Sunday People commented “Precision-tooled to perfection with sumptuously seductive design,it combines the brains of Blade Runner, the gloss of James Bond, and the sly satire of cult comic 2000AD.” Finally I’ll let NOW Toronto have the last word: “The film is at its best when the characters are simply talking to each other, creating a delicate, hypnotic back-and-forth between the humans and the new creature in their midst.”

Released on the US in 2015, it was nominated for a Hugo for MidAmericaCon which was the year The Martian won.

And yes, the audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes really do like it giving an eighty-six percent rating. 

(5) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born April 24, 1910 Albert Zugsmith. American film producer, film director and screenwriter who specialized in really low-budget exploitation films such as Sex Kittens Go to College and Female on the Beach through the Fifties and Sixties. So why am I giving him a Birthday, you ask?  Why it’s because he produced The Incredible Shrinking Man which won a Hugo at Solacon (1958). (Died 1993.)
  • Born April 24, 1925 Virginia Huston. Not a long genre history but an interesting one. Her first role was as Jane in Tarzan and the Jungle Queen (which was originally released as Tarzan’s Peril) and was advertised as being filmed on location in Africa. Next she was Lady Ellen Douglas in The Highwayman which is just genre adjacent, before being Carol Stratford in Flight to Mars. (Died 1981.)
  • Born April 24, 1930 Richard Donner. He’s credited in directing Superman which is considered by many to be the first modern superhero film. H’h. Well I’m instead going to celebrate him instead for ScroogedThe Goonies and Ladyhawke. Not to mention the horror he did — Tales from the Crypt presents Demon Knight and Bordello of Blood. Oh, and the first X-Men film which was superb. (Died 2021.)
  • Born April 24, 1936 Jill Ireland. For her short life, she appeared in an amazing number of genre shows. She was on Star Trek romancing Spock as Leila Kalomi In “This Side of Paradise” episode. She had five appearances on The Man from U.N.C.L.E. as well as being on Night Gallery, My Favorite MartianVoyage to the Bottom of the SeaThe Voodoo Factor and the SF film The Girl, the Gold Watch & Everything based on the 1962 novel of the same name by John D. MacDonald. (Died 1990.)
  • Born April 24, 1939 David L. Ross, 83. He appeared on Trek as mostly Lt. Galloway eight times though occasionally as Security Guard or Guard. Since one of his appearances was on “Trouble with Tribbles”, he also appeared on “Trials and Tribble-ations”.  His only other genre appearance was a one-one off on The Man from U.N.C.L.E. in “The Hot Number Affair”. 
  • Born April 24, 1947 Michael Butterworth, 75. Author of, with Michael Moorcock naturally, two Time of the Hawklords novels, Time of the Hawklords and Queens of Deliria. He also wrote a number of Space 1999 Year 2 novels, too numerous to list here. He also edited Corridor8 magazine from 1971 to 1974. He also wrote a number of short fiction pieces including one whose title amuses me for reasons I’m not sure, “Circularisation of Condensed Conventional Straight-Line Word-Image Structures“. 

(6) SPECIAL DELIVERY. Cat Eldridge wrote about Ray Bradbury’s special citation from the Pulitzer Board in the April 16 Pixel Scroll (item #9). We ran a photo of his agent accepting the plaque, but I just rediscovered the video of it being delivered to Ray Bradbury during his 2007 birthday celebration at a Glendale bookstore.

Unable to travel to the East-coast to accept the special Pulitzer in person, author Ray Bradbury accepts it on a special 87th birthday celebration held on August 25, 2007, at “Mystery and Imagination Bookstore”, in Glendale, California. ‘Logan’s Run’ author, William Nolan, presents the award, and ‘Ocean’s 11’ author, George Clayton Johnson, waxes eloquently around the fond memories of Bradbury, his influences, and his work.

(7) DON’T LOOK. Moira Weigel, an assistant professor of communication studies at Northeastern University, tells readers “What You Don’t Know About Amazon” in an opinion piece for the New York Times.

…If you are reading this, there’s a good chance you’re an Amazon customer. And if you feel guilty about that, it is probably because you are thinking about the warehouse and delivery workers whose labor Amazon exploits, the small merchants whose successful products Amazon copies, the beloved local bookstores whose bottom lines they undercut. Or maybe you just think about all the boxes piling up by your door.

You should feel guilty. I do, anyway. Convenience is not a good reason to participate in exploitation or waste. But guilt is a weak political emotion. In my experience, it can easily lose out to the 3 a.m. realization that Baby Two has soaked through her sleepsack and we need more Huggies Overnites ASAP.

But a series of product safety cases that have been brought against Amazon over the past few years makes clear that its rewiring of retail poses risks to customers as well. Above all, the cases highlight a significant gap between how most people understand the world’s largest e-commerce company and what that company actually does.

Conversations about Amazon tend to emphasize the company’s omniscience — the cutting-edge technologies that it uses to gather data on its competitors and customers and to discipline its workers. But in reality, as the scholar Miriam Posner has written, supply chains that drive global capitalism depend on “partial sight.” Companies are able to get customers so many things so cheap and fast because they know only what they have to; toward everything else, they often turn a blind eye….

(8) SPACE CASE. In “Judge John Hodgman on a Deathbed Request”, the New York Times columnist arbitrates an issue with a Martian twist.

(9) SCI-FI IDEA FOR LA SMOG. [Item by David Doering.] I can go months without finding anything off the wall, now I find several in a week! 

Here’s a sci-fi idea to clean up the air of LA in 1954. Big tubes would suck in bad air and expel it in the mountains. Wow. I love the phrase “…would be discharged harmlessly…” 

(10) BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY. [Item by Daniel Dern.] These two renditions of Bohemian Rhapsody aren’t new – though they may be to you.

Via Open Culture: “1910 Fairground Organ Plays Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” and It Works Like a Charm”.

First built in Paris by Charles Marenghi in 1910, the organ above quickly found a home in a Belgian restaurant. And there it remained for many years … until 1967, when it traveled abroad, to a Texas fairground. Imagine the culture shock it must have felt. But that’s not where it ends.

Nowadays, you can watch the 81-key organ play Queen’s 1975 hit “Bohemian Rhapsody,” quite different than whatever it was playing in Antwerp a century ago. Alexey Rom wrote the arrangement for the song, and programmed it using the strip of cards being fed through the instrument. Hopefully this isn’t the last stop on this organ’s grand journey.

“Literal Bohemian Rhapsody” visualized as a short live-action video via Uncrate:

You’ve belted it out in your car. Sang along during Wayne’s World. But have you ever really listened to the lyrics to “Bohemian Rhapsody”? Corridor turned the Queen classic into a shot film, resulting in a dark tale of drugs, crime, and a poor boy.

(11) DASHCON. [Item by Jennifer Hawthorne.] The convention in question is from quite a few years ago, but this post-mortem video is recent and might be interesting to the Filers. You could call it “How to NOT run a convention.” “Tumblr’s Failed Convention: The Story of Dashcon” as told by Sarah Z.

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, David Doering, Jennifer Hawthorne, Chris Barkley, Rob Thornton, 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 Soon Lee.]

Pixel Scroll 4/16/22 Or Is It But A Pixel Of The Mind, A False Creation, Proceeding From The Scroll-Oppressed Brain?

(1) SCRIPT DOCTOR. “Ditch the Tardis! Seven ways Russell T Davies could revive Doctor Who” according to the Guardian. Here’s one of the ideas on their list:

A ‘Doctor of the week’ every week

What if there was no one new Doctor? With a quick narrative device to produce an unstable regeneration, you could have a new high-profile Doctor every week. Suddenly it’s possible to hire Hugh Grant, Judi Dench or Riz Ahmed at the Tardis controls, when you only need to persuade them to do a few weeks’ filming – rather than a three-series commitment. Plus, you get all the publicity of the reveal of a new Doctor, over and over again.

(2) LET’S YOU AND HIM FIGHT. Rosemary Jenkinson is missing the old verbal slapfights between literary writers: “A Room with a Feud” in The Critic Magazine. Well, we still have plenty in genre, but if they stopped would you miss them?

Oh, where to find the fabulous spats that used to enliven every writers’ circle? It’s no coincidence that the drab rise of cancel culture has contributed to the demise of colourful literary disagreements. In my own case, my publisher, Doire Press, rescinded their offer to publish my debut novel after I wrote an article contending that Northern Irish authors should focus on contemporary matters rather than the Troubles. As the Sunday Independent rightly questioned in the aftermath, “Is the Irish literary world really so fragile and full of itself that it can’t cope with the odd dose of healthy impertinence?”

Many of the writing greats enhanced their reputations with a critical bon mot. As the poet and critic Dorothy Parker vaunted, “The first thing I do every morning is brush my teeth and sharpen my tongue,”… 

…Naturally, no one wants to see hatchet jobs on writers, but one can’t help wondering where the entertainment is in a bland anodyne literary world. Many writers don’t have the robust constitution to engage in the art of the literary skirmish, but the difficulty for the few who do is that those they write about are likely to claim victim status…. 

(3) SAWYER HEALTH UPDATE. Robert J. Sawyer told Facebook followers in a public post today that he tested positive for Covid-19, but has “no symptoms to speak of.” Best wishes for him to continue feeling well.

(4) UKRAINE BIRD STAMP. A stamp featuring the image of an armed and armored Ukrainian soldier with his middle finger raised to a Russian vessel went on sale this week. Borys Sydiuk says they’re already sold out. “Ukraine postal service issues ‘Russian warship, f***k you!’ stamp” in the Jerusalem Post.

…”Russian warship, f***k you…!” was the response to demands to surrender given to Russian naval forces by Ukrainian border guards stationed on Snake Island early in the war. The Ukrainian marine who uttered the phrase, Roman Grybov, was present at a ceremony issuing the postage stamp along with the illustrator….

(5) ROOTS FOUND. Damon Lindelof and Regina King appeared on the April 12 episode of Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. “’Lost’ and ‘Watchmen’ screenwriter Damon Lindelof gets emotional learning about his family’s tragic Holocaust story” at Jewish Telegraph Agency. (PBS offers that Finding Your Roots episode “Watchmen” for viewing online at the link.)

Acclaimed screenwriter Damon Lindelof learns that several members of his family tree died in the Bialystok ghetto during the Holocaust on Tuesday night’s episode of the celebrity genealogy show “Finding Your Roots.”

With help from the archives at Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial and museum, the “Finding Your Roots” team found six pages of testimony detailing the fate of a branch of Lindelof’s family.

Lindelof, who created HBO’s 2019 “Watchmen” series and co-created “Lost,” reads from the show’s compiled pages about his family tree, repeating “circumstances of death: ghetto Bialystok” after several relatives: his great-granduncle — the brother of his great-grandmother — and his wife and their four children.

(6) GHOSTING. Past HWA President Lisa Morton recommends “The best collections of classic ghost stories” at Shepherd.

Who am I?

I’ve always been a fan of ghost stories. As a kid, I loved horror movies and the works of Edgar Allan Poe, Bram Stoker, and H. P. Lovecraft; later on, I discovered movies like The Innocents (based on Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw) and The Haunting (adapted from Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House). As a ghost historian and editor, I’ve discovered dozens of brilliant tales from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries; these are stories that remain relevant, entertaining, and frightening….

(7) TRANSPORTATION FUTURES. Arizona State University’s Future Tense will host an online event “Imagining Transportation Futures with Sec. Pete Buttigieg” on April 20 (10:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m. Pacific). Register at the link.

Future Tense is asking Sec. Pete Buttigieg what role imagination plays in managing a federal department as sprawling and impactful as the Department of Transportation. We’re also asking three of our accomplished Future Tense Fiction authors to talk about how they see their work inspiring visions of futures that might come to pass.  

Featuring:

Pete Buttigieg, @SecretaryPete; U.S. Secretary of Transportation

Annalee Newitz, @Annaleen; Author, When Robot and Crow Saved St. Louis, Future Tense Fiction Author, Four Lost Cities: A Secret History of the Urban Age

Linda Nagata, @LindaNagata; Author, Ride, Future Tense Fiction Author, Pacific Storm

Tochi Onyebuchi, @TochiTrueStory; Author, How to Pay Reparations: A Documentary, Future Tense Fiction Author, Goliath

Moderators: Paul Butler, President, New America; Ed Finn, @zonal; Founding Director, Center for Science and the Imagination, Arizona State University

(8) MORE ABOUT CHRISTINE ASHBY. [Item by David Grigg.] Christine Ashby, long-time Australian fan, died at home on Tuesday 29 March 2022. She was 70 years of age. She is survived by her husband Derrick Ashby.

Christine was a member of the Monash University SF Association, alongside such well-known names as John Foyster and Carey Handfield. After graduating as a lawyer she began work as a solicitor and developed considerable expertise in legal costings. 

She was involved in organising and running several Melbourne SF conventions in the 1970s and 80s and was the Guest of Honour at Q-Con in Brisbane in 1973. She and Derrick were members of ANZAPA for many years.

Christine was Treasurer of two Worldcons: Aussiecon in 1975 and Aussiecon Two in 1985.

Outside of fandom, Christine served for several years on the board of the Paraplegics and Quadriplegics Association of Victoria and for a short while was its Chairperson.

(9) MEMORY LANE.

2007 [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.] Fifteen years ago, a special citation went to Ray Bradbury from the Pulitzer Board for his distinguished, prolific and deeply influential career as an unmatched author of science fiction and fantasy.

But the Pulitzer Board doesn’t give out such an Award without picking a specific work and this is the full language of their announcement:

Bradbury came of age as a writer before the postwar ascendancy of the paperback book as a publishing medium. Instead, during the Golden Age of Science Fiction, short stories published in pulp magazines like Astounding Science-Fiction, Thrilling Wonder Stories and Amazing Stories stood at the forefront of the field. As such, many of his novels are actually “fixups”—a term coined by SF legend A.E. van Vogt to describe novels assembled from previously published short stories that were buttressed with new interlinking material.   

Culled from Bradbury’s late 1940s output, The Martian Chronicles is a sweeping account of the colonization of Mars amid nuclear war on Earth. Its literary structure (patterned after Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio) earned plaudits from such notable critics like Christopher Isherwood, who read the book after a fortuitous encounter with the younger writer (and fellow Angeleno) at a bookstore. In his review, Isherwood deemed Bradbury “a very great and unusual talent,” a tastemaking assessment that charted the course of the rest of his career.

Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger (on the left) presents Michael Congdon (accepting for Ray Bradbury) with the Pulitzer Prize Special Citation.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born April 16, 1905 Charles G. Finney. Writer and Editor. It’s rare that I pick writers whose main accomplishment is one work which has defined them, but his one such work is, well, phenomenal. His first novel and most famous work, The Circus of Dr. Lao, was a Hugo finalist at Loncon II and won one of the inaugural National Book Awards, the Most Original Book of 1935; it is most decidedly fantasy. Ray Bradbury liked the novel so much that he included it as the headline story in his anthology The Circus of Dr. Lao and Other Improbable Stories; it is said that the carnival in his Something Wicked This Way Comes is modelled upon The Circus of Dr. Lao. (Died 1984.)
  • Born April 16, 1917 William “Billy” Benedict. Singled out for birthday honors as he was Whitey Murphy in Adventures of Captain Marvel. Yes, that Captain Marvel.  Back in 1942, it was a 12-chapter black-and-white movie serial from Republic Pictures based off the Fawcett Comics strip. You can watch the first chapter, “Curse of The Scorpion,” here. (Died 1999.)
  • Born April 16, 1921 Peter Ustinov. I’ve done his Birthday in the past and profiled his extensive genre work there but I’m going to limit this write-up to just one role he did. In half a dozen films, he played Agatha Christie’s detective Hercule Poirot, first in Death on the Nile and then in Evil Under the SunThirteen at Dinner (a television film), Dead Man’s Folly (another television movie), Murder in Three Acts (yet another television movie), and finally in Appointment with Death.  An impressive take on that role indeed! (Died 2004.)
  • Born April 16, 1922 Kingsley Amis. So have you read The Green Man? I’m still not convinced that anything actually happened, or that rather everything including the hauntings were really in Maurice Allington’s decayed brain. I’m not seeing that he did much else for genre work other outside of The Anti-Death League and The Alteration but he did write Colonel Sun: A James Bond Adventure under the pseudonym of Robert Markham and his New Maps of Hell: A Survey of Science Fiction which was published in the late Fifties sounds fascinating as he shares his views on the genre and makes some predictions as there’ll never be a SF series on the boob tube despite there already being so. (Died 1995.)
  • Born April 16, 1922 John Christopher. Author of The Tripods, an alien invasion series which was adapted into both a excellent radio and a superb television series. He wrote a lot of genre fiction including the Fireball series in which Rome never fell, and The Death of Grass which I mention because it was one of the many YA post-apocalyptic novels that he wrote in the Fifties and Sixties that sold extremely well in the U.K. The film version would be nominated for a Hugo at Noreascon I, a year where No Award was given. (Died 2012.)
  • Born April 16, 1962 Kathryn Cramer, 60. Writer, editor, literary critic. She co-founded The New York Review of Science Fiction in 1988 with David G. Hartwell and others, and was its co-editor until 1991 and again since 1996. She edited with her husband David G. Hartwell Year’s Best Fantasy one through nine, and Year’s Best SF seven through seventeen with him as well.  They did a number of anthologies of which I’ll single out The Hard SF Renaissance and The Space Opera Renaissance as particularly superb. She has a most excellent website Kathryncramer.com.
  • Born April 16, 1975 Sean Maher, 47. Doctor Simon Tam In the Firefly ‘verse. And Dick Grayson (Nightwing) in a staggering number of  animated DCU films, to wit Son of BatmanBatman vs. RobinBatman: Bad Blood, Justice League vs. Teen TitansTeen Titans: The Judas Contract,  Batman: Hush and Teen Titans Go! vs. Teen Titans. He showed up on Arrow as Shrapnel in the “Blast Radius” and “Suicide Squad” episodes. He also had a one-off on Warehouse 13 as Sheldon in the “Mild Mannered” episode. 

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • The Flying McCoys illustrates a problem caused by something you can easily understand Superman wouldn’t know he was doing.

(12) A FAN FUND AUCTION OF YESTERYEAR. Fanac.org’s video time machine has returned from 1976 with a clip from the first MidAmeriCon.

MidAmeriCon, the 34th World Science Fiction Convention, was held in Kansas City in 1976.  In this very short video excerpt from the Fan Funds Auction at Big Mac, auctioneer Rusty Hevelin shows just how far fans will go to be supportive of the Fan Funds.  In this clip, it’s not books or vegemite up for bid, but currency. The second item is the one to watch, with Rusty skillfully extracting bids from the crowd. You’ll also see fellow auctioneer jan howard finder making a brief appearance…

This video is brought to you by the FANAC Fan History Project, with video from the Video Archeology project (coordinated by Geri Sullivan, with technical work by David Dyer-Bennet).  

(13) IT’S BEEN AWHILE. Ethan Alter of Yahoo! Entertainment interviews Ke Huy Quan, who starred in Indiana Jones and the Temple Of Doom and The Goonies as a teen, dropped out of acting, and is now back as a lead in the new sf film Everyone Everywhere Everything At Once. “Ke Huy Quan looks back on ‘Indiana Jones’ and ‘The Goonies’ and reveals what made him finally return to acting”.

Was it strange to go from being the only child on the set of Temple of Doom to being constantly around other young actors while making The Goonies?

It was weird, because coming off of Indiana Jones … I got all the attention versus being on a set with six other kids, and honestly they were all hams! [Laughs] They really knew what they were doing. So I found myself constantly having to fight for attention. But that was very familiar to me, because I grew up in a big family and that’s what my home was like. I got some great friendships out of that movie, including Jeff Cohen, aka Chunk. He’s my entertainment lawyer and we’re great friends, as I am with Sean [Astin] and Corey [Feldman]. We’re Goonies for life…

(14) NOSFERATU. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times behind a paywall, Nigel Andrews reflects on the centennial of F.W. Murnau’s great horror film Nosferatu.

The film’s poetry of terror comes from real locations, mostly shot in daytime.  Cityscapes:  the unforgettable, hollowed-out tenement building (filmed in Lübeck) in which the vampire finds his last-act townhouse.  Nature: dark monuments and bristling forests.  castles:  the stone arches and beetling walls of Nosferatu’s Carpathian home.  Those arches become a master touch.  In shot after shot, Max Shreck’s hideous Count, dressd to kill and made up likewise, emerges from the inverted U of dark tunnels or from frame-fitting Gothic doorways, like a creature serially birthed or rebirthed from vertical coffin-wombs.

Schreck was a distinguished stage actor made out for the movie. The nightmarishly thin body (for which he dieted), with long arms and extended fingers,is crowned with a rat-toothed bat-eared head, bald and cadaverously thin.  The dark, hollowed eyes are a premonitory rhyme with the Lübeck buildings.  The frock coat is like a sartorial shroud, which seems sewn straight on to the skin.  Sometimes he wears a skewy turban-style nightcap:  a touch of bleak farce among the grand guignol.

(15) JUST A PINCH. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] The Apollo 11 sample return bag saga gets another chapter.  “The bizarre drama behind a pinch of moon dust that just sold for $500,000” at National Geographic.  

Today’s auction is the culmination of a sordid saga involving Apollo astronauts, multiple lawsuits, and scientists aching for a chance to study rare lunar materials.

…NASA has long maintained that the lunar rocks and dust collected during the Apollo missions are government property that’s not allowed to be owned by private citizens. The space agency has gone to great lengths to recover any stray lunar materials, including a sting operation in 2011 that seized—from a 74-year-old woman in a Denny’s Restaurant—a rice-size moon rock embedded in a paperweight.

The lunar dust that sold today is a rare exception to the rule, a quirk due in part to a combination of fraud, mistaken identity, and a series of legal disputes….

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In Jurassic World Dominion, two generations of cast members unite for the first time. Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard are joined by Oscar-winner Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum and Sam Neill.

From Jurassic World architect and director Colin Trevorrow, Dominion takes place four years after Isla Nublar has been destroyed. Dinosaurs now live—and hunt—alongside humans all over the world. This fragile balance will reshape the future and determine, once and for all, whether human beings are to remain the apex predators on a planet they now share with history’s most fearsome creatures.

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, David Grigg, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Patrick Morris Miller.]

Pixel Scroll 4/1/22 This Title Contains A Non-Fungible Tribble

(1) DIAL Q FOR MOCKERY. It may be April 1 but calling 323-634-5667 gets you the message: “Star Trek Picard Easter Egg: Real Phone Number Lets You Call Q” reports Gizmodo.

Which, of course actually works. Turns out, calling the number and not being fictional rogue geneticist Adam Soong however, just gets Q mocking you for trying to call the mighty, incomprehensible society that is the Q Continuum. Check out our recording of the phone message below:

If you can’t hear the message, here’s a transcript:

“Hello! You have reached the Q Continuum. We are unable to get to the phone right now, because we are busy living in a plane of existence your feeble, mortal mind cannot possibly comprehend.

“Furthermore, it’s pointless to leave a message, because we of course already knew that you would call, and we simply do not care. Have a nice day.”

(2) A FOOLISH CONSISTENCY. Daniel Dern sent this link with the caution – “Note, (Stardate) April 1, 2022.” “Timekettle New Cross-Species Translator Supports Klingon and Dog&Cat”.

The Timekettle team has launched cross-species language translation through its self-developed translation engine on April 1st, 2022. It is now possible to chat with aliens from the Klingon Empire, as well as with your pets via Woof or Meow.

Dern also suggested trying it on this: “GreenEggsAndHam” at the Klingon Language Wiki.

(3) PRESSED DOWN, SHAKEN TOGETHER, AND RUNNING OVER. What was Brandon Sanderson’s final take? According to CNBC, “Author’s record-breaking Kickstarter campaign closes at $41.7 million”.

Brandon Sanderson asked Kickstarter fans for $1 million to self-publish four novels he wrote during the pandemic. Thirty days later, his campaign has topped $41.7 million from more than 185,000 backers and is the most-funded Kickstarter in the crowdfunding site’s history.

Sanderson’s campaign surpassed the previous record holder in just three days, topping the $20.3 million in funds that smartwatch company Pebble Technology generated in 2015.

With the project successfully funded, Kickstarter will take a 5% fee from the funds collected, or more than $2 million….

(4) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites listeners to pig out on pork BBQ with Paul Witcover in episode 168 of his Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Paul Witcover

Paul Witcover‘s first novel, Waking Beauty (1997) was short-listed for the James Tiptree, Jr. Award. He’s also written five other novels: Tumbling After (2005), Dracula: Asylum (2006), The Emperor of All Things (2013) and its sequel, The Watchman of Eternity (2015), plus most recently, Lincolnstein, just out from PS Publishing.

His 2004 novella “Left of the Dial” was nominated for a Nebula Award, and his 2009 novella “Everland” was nominated for a World Fantasy Award. His short fiction has appeared in Twilight Zone magazine, Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction magazine, Night Cry, and other venues. A collection of his short fiction, Everland and Other Stories, appeared from PS Publishing in 2009, and was nominated for a Shirley Jackson Award. He’s been a frequent reviewer for Realms of FantasyLocusNew York Review of Science Fiction, and elsewhere. He teaches fiction at UCLA Extension and at Southern New Hampshire University, where he is the Dean of the Online MFA program.

We discussed the reason the pandemic resulted in some of the best years of his freelance career, the way he thrives as a writer when dealing with the boundaries of historical fiction, why his new novel Lincolnstein is “exactly what you think it is,” how he writes in yesterday’s vernacular without perpetuating yesterday’s stereotypes, what can and can’t be taught about writing, the reasons he felt lucky to have attended Clarion with Lucius Shepard, the effect reading slush at Asimov’s and Twilight Zone magazines had on his own fiction, what Algis Budrys told him that hit him like a brick, and much more.

(5) PATREON EXPLAINS IT TO JDA. Jon Del Arroz, who as usual says he didn’t do nothin’, asked Patreon to explain why they killed his account. They answered and he has posted their response letter — which mentions that “our guidelines apply equally to off-platform activity.” It would be ironic if Patreon bounced him for the racist and misogynistic tweets and YouTube videos he posts which those platforms permit to go undisciplined despite their own community guidelines.  

(6) AGING ORANGE. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Check out BBC Radio 4’s Front Row arts programme. Last night’s episode includes an item on A Clockwork Orange, it being the 60th anniversary of the novel. It was very interesting. Apparently there was an unpublished sequel which was basically having a message that art does not spread violence though society. Front Row – “A Clockwork Orange, the National Poetry Competition winner announced, Slow Horses and Coppelia reviewed”.

(7) WESTWARD HO. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times behind a paywall, Tom Faber reviews Horizon Forbidden West.

The one-line pitch is that you’re a hunter-gatherer fighting robot dinosaurs across a post-apocalyptic US.  With such a fun hook, nobody needed Horizon Zero Dawn to have a good story, yet its narrative proved unexpectedly compelling.  The game takes place a thousand years after rampaging machines have wiped out most of humanity.  Survivors have clustered into tribal communities who view relics of technology as objects of either suspicion or religious reverence.  The dramas of warring clans are narrated alongside the tale of how our world came to ruin. Guerillas struck gold with flame-haired heroine Aloy, who balances grit and tenderness as one of the most memorable new characters of its console generation…

Forbidden West is the first truly eye-popping flex of the PS5’s muscles, with graphics so beautiful that I have often found myself halting the adventure just to gawp at the landscape, whether dust clouds careening across the desert or forest leaves quivering in the breeze.  The robot enemies are ingenious works of biomechanical clockwork, shaped like snakes, hippos, ferrets, rams, and pterodactyls, with electric cables for sinew and gleaming steel for ligaments.

(8) CLARION WEST CLASSES. Registration for Clarion West’s Spring online classes and workshops is now open. Full information and ticket prices at the links.

This workshop aims to give you practical tools for evaluating publishing contracts. While it’s impossible to teach you everything there is to know about the legal side of publishing in a single class, it is possible to gain a general understanding of the rights involved and the practical mindset needed to protect your interests.

After a brief lecture on common publishing contractual terms, instructor Ken Liu (a lawyer and an author) will lead participants in interactive exercises to spot potential issues in language taken from actual contracts. Whether you’re looking at your first pro short story sale or an offer to adapt your novel into a TV show, the exercises in this class will help you.

Depending on the contracts used in the exercises, topics covered may include publishing rights (print, web, electronic, audio, etc.), performance rights, foreign language rights, media rights (gaming, film, and TV), royalties, advances, taxes, indemnification, etc. There will also be a Q&A period to address specific questions from participants.

This class is provided for educational purposes only, and none of the content should be construed as professional legal, tax, or financial advice.

With demand for transgender and nonbinary narratives on the rise, more cisgender (non-trans/nonbinary) people are adding trans and nonbinary characters to their stories. But what can you do to make sure you’re providing accurate representation? In this session, we will explore the “Three Es” of writing a trans/nonbinary character, the best craft approaches for each, and their potential pitfalls. We’ll also go over (in)appropriate reasons to write a trans/nonbinary narrative, general dos, and don’ts, and an overview of the experiences most often used incorrectly in stories.

This class for intermediate to advanced writers focused on craft to help you flex your funny muscles (since bones don’t flex). We’ll cover new ways to look at your funny fiction, techniques, exercises, the odd hack and trick- and culminate in a small mini-workshop where we’ll go over a piece you worked on!

This class meets three times: April 12, 16 and May 10, 2022, 11:00 AM to 12:30 PM Pacific.

This class will give an overview of the tools libraries use to discover materials and what makes a title more likely to be ordered for a library’s collection. We will also discuss the challenges and opportunities librarians face in acquiring materials and how authors can position themselves to be in a library’s line of sight when it comes to getting their books included in library collections.

We’ll cover physical materials (books and audiobooks) as well as the prickly digital (ebooks and audiobooks) library landscape.

Finally, we’ll also cover a little bit about doing library programs, like readings and classes.

Attendees will come away with a better understanding of how libraries locate and purchase materials and the limitations and differences between the library and the consumer markets.

You know it’s possible to be a successful short story writer with a full-time job, family, and hobbies. The question is, How? How do you get beyond the slush pile? How do you find the time to write when you have a million other obligations? This class will cover how to level up your craft as a short story writer and how to find the time, motivation, and persistence to stick with it while living a full life.

Suitable for writers at all stages of their careers, this class will emphasize self-compassion and give you ideas for how to level up your stories!

(9) HE WAS AN INFLUENCE ON BRADBURY. [Item by Alan Baumler.] Loren Eisley was a prolific science writer, and at least one sf writer liked him. About his book The Star Thrower Ray Bradbury wrote, “The book will be read and cherished in the year 2001. It will go to the Moon and Mars with future generations. Loren Eiseley’s work changed my life.” In “Erik Visits an American Grave, Part 1,059”, Erik Loomis traces the author’s life for readers of Lawyers, Guns & Money.

…As Ray Bradbury said of Eiseley, “he is every writer’s writer, and every human’s human.” This is a great description and his combination of interest in science, human origins, evolutionary theory, and what it means to be a human being continued to lead to best sellers. He quickly moved on his popularity to become the leading interpreter of science in the United States. Darwin’s Century followed in 1958. I haven’t read that one. I have read his 1960 book The Firmament of Time. This was an attempt to give people hope to live with science in an era of such astounding advances that it threatened human beings, particularly nuclear science….

(10) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1995 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Twenty-seven years ago this evening on BBC One, the Bugs series first aired. The series was created by Brian Eastman and producer Stuart Doughty with input from writer and producer Brian Clemens who is best known for his work on The Avengers which is why he considered this “an Avengers for the 1990s”. No idea if that was true having not seen it.

It lasted, despite almost being cancelled at the end of series three, for four series and forty episodes. It had an immense, and I do mean that, cast including Jaye Griffiths who was on Silent Witness early on (I’m watching all twenty-one series of it right now), Craig McLalachlan who was the lead in The Doctor Blake Mysteries, Jesse Birdsall who played Fraser Black in the very popular soap opera Hollyoaks and Steve Houghton who’s Gregg Blake in the London Burning series.

So how was it? I couldn’t find any contemporary reviews, but this later review suggests that it was a mixed bag: “Bugs is a mid-1990s British techno-espionage TV series, intended to be The Avengers (1960s) for a new decade. Wikipedia has the facts. Absolutely laden with Hollywood Science tropes, and quite prone to So Bad, It’s Good.” Another review noted that, “The show does have a cult following in the UK and in 2005 was released on DVD. The main cast have also spoken very highly of the show and the work they did on it, expressing that Bugs was deliberately ahead of its time and set a bench mark for other shows to come.” 

JustWatch says it is not streaming anywhere at the current time.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born April 1, 1883 Lon Chaney. Actor, director, makeup artist and screenwriter. Best remembered I’d say for the Twenties silent horror films The Hunchback of Notre Dame and The Phantom of the Opera in which he did his own makeup. He developed pneumonia in late 1929 and he was diagnosed with bronchial lung cancer which he died from. (Died 1930.)
  • Born April 1, 1917 Sydney Newman. Head of Drama at BBC, he was responsible for both The Avengers and Doctor Who happening. It’s worth noting that Newman’s initial set-up for The Avengers was much grittier than it became in the later years. (Died 1997.)
  • Born April 1, 1925 Ernest Kinoy. He was a scriptwriter for such stories as “The Martian Death March” to Dimension X and X Minus One as well as adapting stories by Isaac Asimov,  Ray Bradbury,  Philip K. Dick for the both series. He also wrote an adaptation of Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” for NBC’s Presents: Short Story. (Died 2014.)
  • Born April 1, 1926 Anne McCaffrey. I read both the original trilogy and what’s called the Harper Hall trilogy oh so many years ago when dragons were something I was intensely interested in. I enjoyed them immensely but haven’t revisited them so I don’t know what the Suck Fairy would make of them. I confess that I had no idea she’d written so much other genre fiction! And I recounted her Hugo awards history in the March 7 Pixel Scroll (item #9). (Died 2011.)
  • Born April 1, 1930 Grace Lee Whitney. Yeoman Janice Rand on Star Trek. She would reach the rank of Lt. Commander in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. Folks, I just noticed that IMDB says she was only on eight episodes of Trek, all in the first fifteen that aired. It seemed like a lot more at the time. She also appeared in in Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. By the last film, she was promoted to being a Lt. Commander in rank. Her last appearance was in Star Trek: Voyager’s “Flashback” along with Hikaru Sulu. Oh, and she was in two video fanfics, Star Trek: New Voyages and Star Trek: Of Gods and Men. (Died 2015.)
  • Born April 1, 1942 Samuel R. Delany, 80. There’s no short list of recommended works for him as everything he’s done is brilliant. That said I think I’d start off suggesting a reading first of Babel- 17 and Dhalgren followed by the Return to Nevèrÿon series. His two Hugo wins were at Heicon ’70 for the short story “Time Considered as a Helix of Semi-Precious Stones” as published in New Worlds, December 1968, and at Noreascon 3 (1989) in the Best Non-Fiction Work category for The Motion of Light in Water: Sex and Science Fiction Writing in the East Village, 1957-1965.  I will do a full look at his awards and all of his Hugo nominations in an essay shortly. 
  • Born April 1, 1953 Barry Sonnenfeld, 69. Director of The Addams Family and its sequel Addams Family Values  (both of which I really like), the Men in Black trilogy and Wild Wild West. He also executive-produced Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events which I’ve not seen, and did the same for Men in Black: International, the recent not terribly well-received continuation of that franchise.
  • Born April 1, 1963 James Robinson, 59. Writer, both comics and film. Some of his best known comics are the series centered on the Justice Society of America, in particular the Starman character he co-created with Tony Harris. His Starman series is without doubt some of the finest work ever done in the comics field. His screenwriting is a mixed bag. Remember The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen? Well, that’s him. He’s much, much better on the animated Son of Batman film. And I’ll admit that James Robinson’s Complete WildC.A.T.s is a sort of guilty pleasure.

(12) IT CAUGHT ON IN A FLASH. Cora Buhlert has a new story out. A flash story called “Rescue Unwanted,” it appears as part of the flash fiction Friday series of Wyngraf Magazine of Cozy Fantasy“Cozy Flash: ‘Rescue Unwanted’”.

After a lengthy and laborious climb, Sir Clarenbald the Bold finally reached the summit of the Crag of Doom. The cave of the dragon lay before him, its mouth a dark void in the grey rock….

(13) WHERE IT’S AT. The Movie District has mapped out the “Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) Filming Locations” with a combination of stills from the movie and contemporary Google Maps images. This is pretty damn interesting to me because I used to live two blocks from a few of the places in Sierra Madre.

(14) RAZZIES REVERSED. “Razzie Awards Backtrack, Rescind Bruce Willis Award – and Shelley Duvall Nomination as Well”The Wrap explains why.

The Razzie Awards have reversed their decision to stand by their “Worst Performance by Bruce Willis in 2021” award. “After much thought and consideration, the Razzies have made the decision to rescind the Razzie Award given to Bruce Willis, due to his recently disclosed diagnosis,” a statement by co-founders John Wilson and Mo Murphy says.

“If someone’s medical condition is a factor in their decision making and/or their performance, we acknowledge that it is not appropriate to give them a Razzie.” Willis’ family announced on Wednesday that the actor had been diagnosed with the cognitive disorder aphasia and was stepping away from acting.

The Razzie Awards came under fire on Wednesday for refusing to rescind the special award for Willis, and for making an inflammatory Tweet. “The Razzies are truly sorry for #BruceWillis diagnosed condition,” the parody awards ceremony wrote on Twitter. “Perhaps this explains why he wanted to go out with a bang in 2021. Our best wishes to Bruce and family.”

In addition, the organization took the opportunity to rescind another previous nomination – Worst Actress for Shelley Duvall in “The Shining.”

“As we recently mentioned in a Vulture Interview, extenuating circumstances also apply to Shelley Duvall in ‘The Shining.’ We have since discovered that Duvall’s performance was impacted by Stanley Kubrick’s treatment of her throughout the production.  We would like to take this opportunity to rescind that nomination as well.”…

(15) JEOPARDY! Andrew Porter says tonight’s Jeopardy! contestants struck out on this one.

Category: Books and Authors

Answer: In “The Story of” this man, his friends include Too-Too, an owl, Chee-Chee, a monkey, & Dab-Dab, a duck.

No one could ask, “Who is Doctor Dolittle?”

(16) JUSTWATCH – TOP 10’S IN MARCH. JustWatch says these were the “Top 10 Sci-Fi Movies and TV Shows in the US in March 2022”.

Rank*MoviesTV shows
1Spider-Man: No Way HomeSeverance
2DuneHalo
3The Adam ProjectUpload
4After YangResident Alien
5Spider-Man: Far From HomeDoctor Who
6Spider-Man: HomecomingRaised by Wolves
7Venom: Let There Be CarnageSnowpiercer
8Spider-ManStar Trek: The Next Generation
9InterstellarThe X-Files 
10The Matrix ResurrectionsBattlestar Galactica

*Based on JustWatch popularity score. Genre data is sourced from themoviedb.org

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Hancock Pitch Meeting” Ryan George explains that Hancock has a scene where one character destroys her house to prevent her husband from knowing she has super powers.  But the producer is troubled by another scene where Hancock becomes enraged and violent after he is taunted.  “How could that happen?” the producer asks.  “That’s just not in Will Smith’s character!”

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Cora Buhlert, Alan Baumler, Scott Edelman, Michael J. Walsh, Dennis Howard, Dan Bloch, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 3/23/22 I’m a Pixel, and a Filer, and a Midnight Scroller

(1) TWIGGING TO IT. The Glasgow in 2024 Worldcon bid is running a community craft project at Reclamation, the 2022 Eastercon. “The Fantastic Tree of Life”. Full plan with ideas about various types of crafts and how to get them to the team can be found at the link. Reclamation 2022 is April 15-18.

The Tree of Life is a symbol found in many cultures and religions around the world. Showing variously the connection between Earth and Sky, the connection between all living things or the cycle of the seasons, there can be many different ways it is depicted. What would the tree look like if it were created by a bunch of SFF fans?

Our goal is to create a wall-hanging of a Tree of Life with all kinds of fantastic lifeforms on it. We will prepare a background cloth with the basic elements on it – earth/grass and sky and the outline of a tree. One of the defining features of the type of Tree of Life we’re envisioning is that it shows all kinds of different leaves, flowers and fruits on the same tree at the same time, often with added animals as well. So, we’re asking you to create something SFF-inspired for the tree – with sources as varied as fairy-tales and space opera, and to be honest, life on this here planet is often strange enough to qualify as well. I’m envisioning something highly stylized and drawing on naive and medieval art rather than realism.

So, what exactly do we want, and what should it be created from? We’re taking the name of Reclamation seriously and are going to reclaim and reuse all the bits and pieces lying around from previous projects – leftover yarn, felt and leather scraps, pretty paper. For example, I’ve been collecting gift wrapping paper that I found too pretty to throw out, as well as a bunch of small pieces that were left over from when I was wrapping the gifts. Those make great sources for origami and other paper crafts!

(2) KICK CANCER’S BUTT. Author John Barnes’ wife has pancreatic cancer and the family needs financial help. A GoFundMe has been launched.

“Fundraiser by Orion Rodriguez : Help Diane Kick Cancer’s Butt!” Full medical details at the link. The appeal’s introduction asks —

A few words from Orion

Whether you’ve worked with her as a teacher or tutor, collaborated with her as an artist, or simply known her as a neighbor or friend, there’s one thing everyone notices about Diane Talbot – she’s dedicated her life to helping others. Now, let’s all step up to help her!

(3) FALLING OFF THE EDGE? [Item by Cora Buhlert.] The Hugo Book Club Blog is delving into the potential issue with the Hugo Award’s 25 percent rule and how some categories are in danger of not being awarded at all, because not enough people vote in them: “The 25 per cent solution”. They suggest how the rule could be revised.

… This rule also comes from a time in which there was far more parity between the number of votes in various categories. In 1980 (the first year that we have full voting statistics on the Hugos for), the category which received the fewest votes was Best Fan Writer. In that year, 884 out of 1,788 Hugo voters voted for Fan Writer, giving that category a participation rate of 49 per cent.

Four decades later, the number of people voting in the Fan Writer category has not substantially changed, but the numbers voting in the prose fiction categories has drastically increased. Thus, the percentage of voters engaged with this category has decreased. This means that these Hugo Award categories are being endangered not due to declining interest in those categories when counted by number of voters, but rather by the enthusiasm and growth of other categories.

Fundamentally, the decision about whether or not the Best Editor – Long Form award is worth running should not be contingent on how many people voted in the Best Dramatic Presentation category….

(4) BORYS IN A BIT OF FINANCIAL DIFFICULTY. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.]  Ukranian fan Borys Sydiuk (immediate family and couple of elderly dependents) is in a bit of financial difficulty.  He is in Kyiv but normal means of earning a living have stopped because some idiot keeps chucking shells and missiles at the city.

If anyone wishes to send him a few quid then Borys Sydiuk’s PayPal is info@ngo.org.ua Small amounts gratefully received.  This is not for a huge medical bill or some grand project, but some cash for living basics. (The economy in Ukraine has gone very peculiar.)

(5) SAYING FOR THE DAY. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie,] “Science Fiction can only be created by a free mind.” Igor Likhovoi, Ukraine’ s Minister for Culture & Tourism in 2006 at the 2006 Eurocon.

(6) RATHBONE FOLIO PRIZE. The Rathbones Folio Prize 2022 winner is a non-genre novel by Irish novelist Colm Tóibín, The Magician (Viking), a “haunting, intimate portrait of the exiled German Nobel winner Thomas Mann.” He will receive a £30,000 prize,

(7) RICHARD LABONTÉ (1949-2022). Canadian fan, writer and editor Richard Labonté died March 20.

In 1967 he started ACUSFOOS, A Carleton University Speculative Fiction Organization, Of Sorts. He was the one who introduced Susan Wood to fandom as she later recalled: “Too late, I realized that that shy, mild-mannered, clean-shaven, white-shirted young gentleman in the corner of our newspaper office, who did all the work and never spoke to anyone, was the infamous Richard Labonte, Secret Master of Canadian Fandom. I was enslaved…” He soon was part of the community around Susan and Mike Glicksohn’s Hugo-winning fanzine Energumen. He even was once a department head of the National Fantasy Fan Federation, in charge of Round Robins. 

In later years Labonté became well-known professionally as the editor or co-editor of numerous anthologies of LGBT literature and won the Lambda Literary Award three times.

Daniel Lynn Alvarez paid tribute to him on Facebook.

(8) MEMORY LANE.

1976 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Forty-six years ago at MidAmeriCon where Ken Keller was the Chair and Robert A. Heinlein (pro) and George Barr (fan) were the Guests, A Boy And His Dog won the Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation. (Also, a pre-release cut was shown at the 1974 Worldcon.)

It was directed by L.Q. Jones who also wrote the screenplay which was based on the novella by Harlan Ellison. A novella nominated for a Hugo at Heicon ’70 – a category won that year by “Time Considered as a Helix of Semi-Precious Stones“. 

The cast was Don Johnson, Susanne Benton, Alvy Moore and Jason Robards. It’s a small ensemble but it fit the story.

So how was the reception for it at the time? Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times mostly liked it: “The movie’s about eccentrics (especially the dog, who turns out to be very eccentric), and Jones seems to have a feel for that: The movie doesn’t look or sound like most s-f tours of alternative futures. It’s got a unique . . . well, I was about to say charm, but the movie’s last scene doesn’t quite let me get away with that.”  

The New York Times in an unsigned review (apparently no one wanted to take credit for the review) wasn’t as kind: “’A Boy and His Dog,’ a fantasy about the world after a future holocaust, is, more or less, a beginner’s movie. It has some good ideas and some terrible ones. The good ideas are marred by awkwardness; the terrible ideas are redeemed somewhat by being, at least, unpredictable.”

Despite costing only four hundred thousand to produce, it was a box office disaster. It has, not unsurprisingly, become a cult film. You can watch it on Amazon Prime and a lot of other streaming services as well. Though not quite a Meredith moment, it is available to purchase on Amazon and iTunes. 

It has an excellent sixty-three percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 23, 1904 H. Beam Piper. Was there ever a more fun writer to read? I am reasonably sure that the first thing I read and enjoyed by him was Lord Kalvan of Otherwhen followed by Little Fuzzy and related works which are as I said damn fun reading. Has anyone here read Scalzi’s Fuzzy novel? Not a Hugo to be had by Piper, amazingly, but Little Fuzzy was nominated at the first Discon when The Man in the High Castle won. (Died 1964.)
  • Born March 23, 1934 Neil Barron. Certainly best known for Anatomy of Wonder: A Critical Guide to Science Fiction, actually still a damn fine read, which is unusual for this sort of material which can tend towards being rather dry.  (It picked up a Hugo nomination at NolaCon II.) If memory thirty years on serves me right, his Fantasy Literature and Horror Literature guides were quite good too. He did win an International Horror Guild Award for Fantasy and Horror: A Critical and Historical Guide to Literature, Illustration, Film, TV, Radio, and the Internet . (Died 2010.)
  • Born March 23, 1937 Carl Yoke, 85. One of those academics that I stumbled upon when I was looking for information on Zelazny. His 1979 study of him, Roger Zelazny, is quite excellent, as is his essay, “Roger Zelazny’s Bold New Mythologies” which is in Tom Staicar’s Critical Encounters II: Writers and Themes in Science Fiction. He also wrote “What a Piece of Work is a Man: Mechanical Gods in the Fiction of Roger Zelazny” which you’ll find in Contributions to the Study of Science Fiction and Fantasy. Yoke does have two genre stories to his credit, they’re called The Michael Holland Stories.
  • Born March 23, 1947 Elizabeth Ann Scarborough, 75. Though her only award was a Nebula for The Healer’s War, I remember her best for a three book series called The Songkiller Saga which was wonderful and the Acorna series that she did with Anne McCaffrey which they co-wrote all but two as the first two were written by McCaffrey and Margaret Ball. She wrote a tribute to McCaffrey, “The Dragon Lady’s Songs”, that appeared in Dragonwriter.
  • Born March 23, 1952 Kim Stanley Robinson, 70. If the Mars trilogy was the only work that he’d written, he’d rank among the best genre writers ever. But then he went and wrote the outstanding Three Californias Trilogy. I won’t say I have liked everything he writes, the Science in the Capital series just didn’t appeal to me. His best one-off novels I think are without argument (ha!) The Years of Rice and Salt and New York 2140.  I should note he has won myriad awards including the Hugo Award for Best Novel for the two in the Mars trilogy at ConAdian and LoneStarCon 2 (the first novel got nominated at ConFrancisco but did not win), BSFA Award for Best Novel, the Nebula Award for Best Novel and the World Fantasy Award. And the Heinlein Society gave him their Robert A. Heinlein Award for his entire body of work! 
  • Born March 23, 1958 John Whitbourn, 64. Writer of a number novels and short stories focusing on an alternative history set in a Catholic universe. It reminds me a bit of Keith Robert’s Pavane but much more detailed. A Dangerous Energy in which Elizabeth I never ascends the throne leads off his series. If that’s not to your taste, Frankenstein’s Legion’s is a sheer delight of Steampunk riffing off Mary Shelley‘s tale. He’s available at the usual digital suspects.
  • Born March 23, 1959 Maureen Kincaid Speller, 63. Former editor of Matrix, and former Administrator of the British Science Fiction Association. Senior Reviews Editor at Strange Horizons and Assistant Editor at Foundation. Also reviews for Interzone and Vector among others; a collection of her reviews appeared as And Another Thing … (2011, chapbook). Co-editor (with husband Paul Kincaid) of The Best of Vector Vo.1 (2015). Fanzines include Steam Engine Time (with Bruce Gillespie and Paul Kincaid) and Snufkin’s Bum. Founder of Acnestis apa. Four-times judge of the Arthur C. Clarke Award, has also served as a judge of the Otherwise Award (formerly known as the James Tiptree Jr. Award) and the Rotsler Award. TAFF delegate in 1998. Joint Fan Guest of Honour at Eastercon 1996 (Evolution) with Paul Kincaid. Winner of the Nova Award for Best Fanwriter 1998. [Birthday done by by Ziv Wities.]
  • Born March 23, 1977 Joanna Page, 45. It’s not the longest of genre resumes but it’s an interesting one. First she’s Ann Crook in From Hell from the graphic novel by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell. Next up is appearing in yet another version of The Lost World. (I think that there’s a legal contract requiring one be made every so often.) And finally  she’s Queen Elizabeth I in The Day of The Doctor

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • The Argyle Sweater’s joke becomes more grotesque every moment you think about it.
  • Bizarro finds inspiration by adding a comma to the first line of a classic.

(11) BRADBURY’S EC STORIES. Fantagraphics will release Home to Stay!: The Complete Ray Bradbury EC Stories on October 25. Surely this belongs under your Halloween tree?

Between 1951 and 1954, EC Comics adapted 28 classic Ray Bradbury stories into comics form, scripted by Al Feldstein and interpreted and illustrated by all of EC’s top artists: Johnny Craig, Reed Crandall, Jack Davis, Will Elder, George Evans, Frank Frazetta, Graham Ingels, Jack Kamen, Bernard Krigstein, Joe Orlando, John Severin, Angelo Torres, Al Williamson, and Wallace Wood. This special companion collection to our EC Comics Library series features all 28 stories with stunning art reproduced in generously oversized coffee table dimensions!

(12) TANGLED UP IN BLUE. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] Leslie Felperin of the Guardian reviews the rotoscoped fantasy film The Spine of Night, though she seems to believe it’s steampunk, when it’s really a sword and sorcery film: “The Spine of Night review – a heady concoction of steampunk and flower power”

… The Spine of Night is set in a world that seems to be going through an historical period roughly analogous to our late medieval/early Renaissance era of colonialism and discovery, when better armed conquistadors with better weapons and fewer scruples conquer the native occupants of a swampy land. However, the indigenous people, who go about mostly naked all the time, have magical blue flower power, in the literal shape of a botanical tech that shamanistic priestess Tzod (voiced by Lucy Lawless) can control with her mind and do cool stuff with, like making lethal blue flames…

[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Cora Buhlert, Jerry Kaufman, Ziv Wities, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Rob Thornton.]

Pixel Scroll 3/4/22 24 Views Of Mt. Tsundoku By Hokufile

(1) WHO IS NUMBER ONE. The “Surprise! Four Secret Novels by Brandon Sanderson” Kickstarter was almost at $22 million when I looked earlier today. It’s now the Most Funded Kickstarter in history.

Yesterday the New York Times talked to Sanderson about his success in “Fantasy Author Raises $15.4 Million in 24 Hours to Self-Publish”.

…“If Amazon’s grip on the industry is weakened, that’s good for the publishers — they are very much under Amazon’s thumb right now,” Sanderson said. “I don’t want to present this as ‘Brandon versus Amazon.’ Amazon’s great. But I think that in the long run, Amazon being a monopoly is actually bad for Amazon. If they don’t have competition, they will stop innovating.”

He also wanted to play around with bundling and upselling. Traditional publishers, he said, offer few products and few options. The array of packages on Kickstarter range from $40 for four e-books to $500 for the four books in all formats, plus eight boxes of “swag.”

“What I can do with the Kickstarter,” he said, “is I can say, ‘hey, if you really want to have more, we will give you more.’”

(2) FIRESIDE WILL STOP PUBLISHING IN 2022. Brian J. White, Executive Editor and Owner of Fireside, announced yesterday that the magazine will stop publishing later this year.

… When I stepped back in as owner last year, I had big hopes of taking Fireside forward for years to come. But unfortunately life had other ideas, between major increases last fall to my responsibilities at my day job and a series of difficult life events that have made it impossible for me to continue Fireside while maintaining any semblance of mental and physical health. Compounding that, even though we made progress in adding subscribers, Fireside is still losing a lot of money each month, and the circumstances described above also got in the way of implementing additional plans to bring in more funds.

This was a really difficult decision to make, but between the time and financial considerations, I can’t find a path forward. Fireside has an incredible legacy, and I don’t want that to be marred by a slow, struggling death. The best thing for the magazine is to allow it to close with grace and dignity once we’ve published all the stories and poems we currently have under contract, as well as two books that have been in the works for a long time….

…While Fireside Magazine will no longer be accepting submissions, we have enough content under contract to continue publishing into September, both through our usual ebooks and weekly stories released online. Everything we’ve published in the magazine will remain available online….

(3) LETTER FROM UKRAINE. Charles Stross posted an open letter from his Ukranian translator: “A letter from Ukrainian artists to the world artists”.

… We believe that not all Russian citizens are fans of Putin’s regime and not all of them justify this war. We know that plenty of Russians feel scared to use their voices and speak up against Putin’s regime. Many believe it is none of their business. Yet, there are also many who believe in the righteousness of Putin and his propaganda.

So, we plead with you — writers and visual content creators that have big audiences of readers and followers in Russia. To them, your opinion and your words matter. Your stand on the war in Ukraine matters. Please, stand by us as we fight for our values, our democracy, and our freedom. For the simple right to be Ukrainians and live in Ukraine. Your powerful voices can influence these Russian readers and followers. To encourage them to be brave, connect with their values, and take a stand on ending this ruthless war.

Please, take to your platforms and address your Russian and Ukrainian audiences. The first ones need your encouragement to believe in the power of their voices against Putin’s regime. The second ones are in desperate need of support and kindness….

(4) MEANWHILE, IN MOSCOW. Repression is ramping up in Moscow – and every other Idaho town. Boise State Public Radio reports “Idaho librarians could face jail time for lending “harmful” books”.

…House lawmakers could soon consider whether prosecutors could criminally charge librarians for allowing minors to check out sexually explicit materials.

Giving explicit material to kids has been a crime in Idaho since at least 1972, but public libraries, including those at colleges and universities, are exempted from that law.

Rep. Gayann DeMordaunt (R-Eagle) wants to cut that exemption, meaning librarians could face up to a year in prison and a $1,000 fine any time they lend explicit materials to someone under 18….

(5) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman encourages listeners to eat enchiladas with Bram Stoker Award-winning writer Paul Tremblay in episode 166 of his Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Paul Tremblay

Paul Tremblay is the author of the award-winning novels novels A Head Full of Ghosts (2015), which won the Bram Stoker Award and the Massachusetts Book Award, Disappearance at Devil’s Rock (2016), which won the British Fantasy Award, and The Cabin at the End of the World (2018), which won the Bram Stoker Award and Locus Award. His most recent novel is Survivor Song, published in 2020, with The Pallbearer’s Club due out later this year. He’s also the author of the novels The Little SleepNo Sleep till WonderlandSwallowing a Donkey’s Eye, and writing as P. T,. Jones along with Stephen Graham Jones, Floating Boy and the Girl Who Couldn’t Fly. His short story collection Growing Things and Other Stories was published in 2019. He is the co-editor of four anthologies including Creatures: Thirty Years of Monster Stories (with John Langan), and is on the board of directors and is one of the jurors for the Shirley Jackson Awards.

We discussed his legendary hatred of pickles, what it was like writing a pandemic novel before a pandemic only to see it published in the middle of one, if reviewers would have reacted differently to his zombies had Survivor Song been published any other year, his feelings about the description of him as a postmodernist, our shared love of ambiguity in fiction, whether horror having a moment means horror will also have an end, the one passage in his most recent novel which caused an argument with his editor, what’s up with the movie adaptations of his books, and much more.

(6) THE CALCULATION IS IN. Mary Robinette Kowal’s gala commemorating the 70th Anniversary of The Meteor (the event which precipitates The Calculating Stars) did more than $8,000 in gross sales as part of her effort to support HIAS in Ukraine for the crisis response work that they are doing.

(7) GUARDIANS OF JUSTICE. BGR promises “Netflix’s new superhero show might be the weirdest thing you ever watch”.

…People have no definitive idea what to make of Netflix’s newly released superhero series, The Guardians of Justice. That’s the only conclusion I can draw from the fact that reviews and user reaction is absolutely all over the place — to say nothing of the fact that the trailer for this streaming series, which is about a group of superheroes who confront evil after “their fearless leader self-destructs” — left me utterly speechless. In an “I have no idea what to even think” or “what is going on here” sort of way.

First of all, the show switches between animation and live-action, which takes some getting used to. The voice cast includes Diamond Dallas Page, Sharni Vinson, Denise Richards, and RJ Mitte. And there’s a kind of Adult Swim aesthetic that people either love or can’t stand….

(8) KGB. Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present Leanna Renee Hieber and John C. Foster on March 16 at 7:00 p.m. Eastern. This will be an in-person event at the KGB Bar, 85 East 4th Street, New York, NY 10003 (Just off 2nd Ave, upstairs).

Leanna Renee Hieber

Leanna Renee Hieber is an actress, playwright, narrator and award-winning author of Gothic, Gaslamp Fantasy novels for Tor and Kensington Books such as the Strangely Beautiful, Eterna Files, Spectral City series and A Haunted History of Invisible Women: True Stories of America’s Ghosts. Featured on TV shows like Mysteries at the Museum and Beyond the Unknown discussing Victorian Spiritualism, Leanna lectures around the country on paranormal and 19th century subjects.

John C. Foster

John C. Foster is the author of the forthcoming horror novel, Leech, the recent crime thriller Rooster and four other horror novels, the most recent of which is Mister White. His stories have been collected in Baby Powder and Other Terrifying Substances. He lives in Brooklyn with the actress Linda Jones and their dog Coraline.

(9) FANAC.ORG FANHISTORY ZOOM PART 2. The LASFS family reunion continues in the second part of Fanac.org’s latest fanhistory Zoom: “Death Does Not Release You – LASFS (Pt 2 of 2)”.

In part 2 of this FANAC Fan History Zoom Session (Feb 2022), the LASFS family reunion continues. Craig Miller (TV writer and producer, Worldcon chair, and LASFS member), Ken Rudolph (filmmaker, fanzine editor, former LASFS officer), Tim Kirk (professional artist, awarded many Fan Artist and Professional Artist Hugo Awards), and Bobbi Armbruster (professional and fan meeting and convention organizer) continue their conversation. Despite some early audio problems, the talk ranges from other Los Angeles fan subgroups like the Bixel Street Irregulars (40s), the Petards (late 60s-80s) and the Blackguards (60s), to well-known fans and professionals of the Los Angeles area to untimely deaths. Tim Kirk tells the wonderful story of how his Master’s Thesis and a little luck resulted in his breaking through to the professional art field. There are even some convention stories, including the surprising origin of Loscon. If you’re interested in the first big Heinlein blood drive, plans for the Last Dangerous Visions, or how many people could fit in the clubhouse kitchen, settle back and enjoy the recording.

(10) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

2011 [Item by Cat Eldridge] Eleven years ago, The Adjustment Bureau film premiered. It is based off the Philip K. Dick “Adjustment Team” short story that was first published in Orbit Science Fiction (No. 4, September–October 1954). (It’s available in The Adjustment Team and Other Selected Stories from the usual suspects for just a buck ninety nine.)  

Written and directed by George Nolfi, who previously wrote the genre film Timeline, it had a lot of producers — Bill Carraro, Michael Hackett, Chris Moore, plus George Nolfi in his third role in the film. It had an absolutely amazing cast: Emily Blunt, Matt Damon, Michael Kelly, Anthony Mackie, John Slattery and Terence Stamp. 

It did exceedingly well at the box office making nearly one hundred thirty million against just fifty million in total costs. Rather great I’d say. 

So how was the reception for it? Mostly excellent really though a few reviewers I admit were really puzzled by it as romance and SF is a combination they don’t grok. The reviewer at the Washington Examiner said that it “is that rare thing, an intelligent romance” while 7M Pictures stated of it that is “a fantastic piece of science fiction told in the flavor of a classic Twilight Zone episode.” And the Examiner summed it up nicely this way: “It’s rare when a film is able to blend together two different genres so well, especially when they are two genres that you don’t normally see together, in this case, science-fiction and romance.”

It does not get that a great rating at Rotten Tomatoes among audience reviewers garnering just sixty-seven percent. Not bad, but not overwhelming. 

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 4, 1905 Frank Utpatel. Artist who may have done some interior illustrations for Weird Tales, he’s remembered for his Arkham House book covers that began with Lovecraft’s The Shadow over Innsmouth novel in 1936. He would do covers for Ashton, Howard, Derleth, and Lovecraft. One of my favorite covers by him is for Derleth’s The Casebook of Solar Pons but then I like all of his Solar Pons covers and their obviously Holmesian riff. (Died 1980.)
  • Born March 4, 1914 Ward Kimball. He was part of Walt Disney’s original team of animators, known as the Nine Old Men. Keep in mind that he did not create characters but animated them, which he did to great ability — Jiminy Cricket, the Mad Hatter, Mickey Mouse, and Tweedledee and Tweedledum. He eventually became an animation director at Disney starting with Fantasia, and he worked on Mary Poppins. (Died 2002.)
  • Born March 4, 1923 Sir Patrick Alfred Caldwell-Moore CBE HonFRS FRAS. Astronomer who liked Trek and Who early on but said later that he stopped watching when “they went PC – making women commanders.” Despite that, he’s here because he shows up in the debut Eleventh Doctor story, “The Eleventh Hour“. And he was also in the radio version of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. (Died 2012.)
  • Born March 4, 1923 Patrick Moore. He held the record as the presenter of the world’s longest-running television series with the same original presenter, BBC’s The Sky at Night.  He was a genre writer with six such novels to his name, one co-written, and a lot of related non-fiction, one that garnered him a Hugo nomination at Interaction, Futures: 50 Years in Space: The Challenge of the Stars, that was co-written with David A. Hardy. (Died 2012.)
  • Born March 4, 1965 Paul W. S. Anderson, 57. If there be modern pulp films, he’s the director of them. He’s responsible for the Resident Evil franchise plus Event HorizonAlien V. PredatorPandorum and even Monster Hunter
  • Born March 4, 1966 Paul Malmont, 56. Author of the comic strips The Chinatown Death Cloud Peril and Jack London in Paradise which blends pulp tropes and SF elements including using as protagonists Heinlein and Asimov. He wrote the first four issues of DC’s excellent Doc Savage series with artist Howard Porter. While a marketing executive at DC he created the DC Daily video series, now over four hundred and fifty episodes long. 
  • Born March 4, 1973 Len Wiseman, 49. Producer or Director of the Underworld franchise. Director of the Total Recall remake. Also involved in StargateIndependence DayMen in Black and Godzilla in the Property Department end of things. He is the Sleepy Hollow series creator and producer for much of it, wrote the pilot as well. (Is it worth watching? I’ve not seen any of it.) Producer for much of the Lucifer seriesas well and is the producer for the entire series of the rebooted Swamp Thing. Also produced The Gifted

(12) COMICS SECTION.

  • The Argyle Sweater probably should be spelled “Aaarggghyle” after this bad superhero-themed pun.
  • Bizarro makes an okay joke in the foreground, but studying the gags in the background is even more entertaining.  

(13) CLICK AND LEARN. What writer whose initials are Ray Bradbury helped inspire lyricist Bernie Taupin? Far Out Magazine knows: “The story behind Elton John song ‘Rocket Man’”.

…The opening lines, which read: “She packed my bags last night, pre-flight. Zero hour: 9am. And I’m gonna be high as a kite by then,” was conceived by Taupin while he was driving to his parents in Lincolnshire, England. Anxious that he’ll forget the lines, he drove some back roads as fast as he could to put it down on paper. Until he reached their house he had to “repeat it to himself for two hours,” which was “unfortunate” but also worthwhile given the magnanimous status the song achieved….

(14) AND THEY LIVED HAPPILY EVER AFTER. SYFY Wire assures us that John DiMaggio will voice Bender in the forthcoming Futurama revival. A bit of closure to a “crisis” that might have gone completely unnoticed had it happened this week.

Good news… again… everyone! Bendergate is finally over. Actor John DiMaggio has officially settled his pay dispute with 20th Century Studios and will return as the voice of Bender for Hulu’s upcoming revival of Futurama. To quote the booze and cigar-loving robot specifically programed for bending girders (and partying): “It’s gonna be fun on a bun!”…

(15) CONREP IN THE WIND. SF2 Concatenation has just tweeted the link to an advance-post of a Windycon con report. This is ahead of their full seasonal edition slated for April 15 (but which may be held till April 20 if the Hugo short-lists are announced Easter weekend).

By Sue Burke: “The 2021 Windycon in Chicago, USA”.

In some ways, Windycon 47 unfolded normally, with panels, music, theatre, gaming, an anime track, art show, dealer’s room, and even the season’s first snowfall, right on time. It happened in the usual place, the Westin Lombard Yorktown Center. But the 47th annual Windycon should have taken place two years earlier in 2020. Instead, due to CoVID-19, a pared-down Zoom event 13th-15th November 2020, called Breezycon, offered a taste of the “family” feeling of the convention’s long history….

(16) BUSTED. Got to love the New York Times headline: “‘After Yang’ Review: Do Androids Dream of Sheep, Babysitting, Being?”

…Repairing Yang proves unsurprisingly more challenging than poking around under the hood of a car. Yang is a secondhand model, “certified refurbished,” yet used nevertheless. And while his warranty is still valid, the store where he was procured, Second Siblings, is out of business. “I told you we should have just bought a new one,” Kyra chides Jake with the old I-told-you-so sigh. In the future, men still take care of the big household chores; wives berate their husbands for making foolish decisions; and some families live in swoon-worthy houses with floor-to-ceiling windows and open-floor plans….

(17) THE NEXT BIG THING IS STILL PRETTY SMALL. “Two pillars of biological dogma upended by discovery of huge bacteria with nuclei”Daily Kos analyzes the impact.

…The proposed new species, Thiomargarita magnifica, is about 50 times larger than any other known bacterium, and it’s also the only bacterium we know of to keep its DNA inside a membrane-bound structure.  Either of those discoveries by itself would be very significant, so this double whammy really is a rare find.  Game changer!  Paradigm shift!  And all that jazz!  Microbiologists sure seem impressed

(18) MADAM I’M ADAM. A time-traveling pilot teams up with his younger self and his late father to come to terms with his past while saving the future. Comes to Netflix on March 11.

(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Superman and Batman kibitz in this latest video from How It Should Have Ended that dropped today. “How Spider-Man No Way Home Should Have Ended”.

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

Pixel Scroll 3/2/22 This Scroll Obscures My View Of Pixels

(1) PKD, RIP. Philip K. Dick died 40 years ago today and the media has taken note of the anniversary.

BBC Culture’s Adam Scovill discusses “Philip K Dick: the writer who witnessed the future”.

I am in passport control. I can see my face on a screen. The technology recognises me and lets me through. I scan codes showing my vaccination status and recent Covid test results. The machines assess the data regarding my health and microbiology. Through into the waiting room, people are staring into little screens. A strangely large number have the camera flipped, and are capturing their faces at different angles, as if they’ve forgotten what they look like. I open my laptop and join in. I give my details to a company to enter the digital realm. Adverts tailored to my personality pop up. They know me better than I know myself.

This is 2022. And 2022 is a Philip K Dick novel….

Paul Krasnik’s intriguing comic strip overviews the author and his career: “The Death of Philip K. Dick Brought to Life”.

(2) THE NEW NUMBER TWO. Brandon Sanderson’s “Surprise! Four Secret Novels” needed less than 48 hours to become the second Most Funded Kickstarter in history. Right now he’s in between a smartwatch and a portable cooler, having raised $17,512,529 at this writing with 28 days to go.

David Doering adds, “I’d love to say that Brandon hinted at all this at LTUE [Life, The Universe, and Everything] two weeks ago, but he was mute about it. The really big news to me is that he is now the #2 Record Holder on Kickstarter as an AUTHOR! Not a gizmo or gadget idea.guy — a WRITER sets the record. That is KEWL.”

(3) HOUSE DIVIDED. Many are commenting on the Ukraine invasion today and looking at the open letter from Russian sff authors supporting Putin’s actions that is signed by 2023 Worldcon GoH Sergei Lukianenko.

R. B. Lemberg tweeted the translation of another pro-invasion apologetic signed by a mass of Russian writers. Thread starts here. Lemberg also hits the nail on the head so far as the Worldcon is concerned.

(4) RELATED WORK. Cora Buhlert has posted another Non-Fiction Spotlight. This one is more a collection of personal essays: “Non-Fiction Spotlight: Robert E. Howard Changed My Life, edited by Jason M. Waltz”.

What prompted you to edit this book?

I believe much of modern entertainment can be traced to REH, directly or via his influence. From music to gaming to professional wrestling, all the myriad forms of storytelling through any media owes its current existence to Robert E. Howard to some extent. I’ve often thought about exploring that connection, tracing that lineage. Frankly, I also always considered it too much work. Until I heard Bill Cavalier’s Guest of Honor speech “How Robert E. Howard Saved My Life” at Howard Days 2018 in Cross Plains, Texas. While much of that audience already knew that story–it truly touched me. Before the evening was over I considered it a revelation and immediately voiced efforts to gather similar stories I knew had to exist, though slightly tweaking the emphasis to be on changed rather than saved personal lives. …

(5) BASKING IN ALL THE RAYS. Gareth L. Powell recounts science fiction’s history with a specific genre of massive structures: “Thinking Big: Dyson Spheres and Ringworlds”.

… But even a Dyson Sphere wasn’t impressive enough for Ray Bradbury, and he decided to expand on the concept by postulating a nested series of spheres he called a ‘Matrioshka brain.’ In this model, the innermost sphere would collect the sun’s entire energy output and use it for computing. The waste heat produced by this computing would then be collected and used by the next sphere, which in turn would generate its own waste heat for the next sphere to collect, and so on….

(6) IT’S A TWISTER AUNTIE EM. Morgan Hazelwood posts her notes about another DisCon III program, “When Plot Twists Go Bad (A DisConIII Panel)”, at A Writer in Progress. (There’s also a YouTube video.)

The panelists for the titular panel were: Jen Gunnels as moderator, CL Polk, Narina Brelin, JS Dewes, and Lezli Robyn.

The description was as follows: When a story denies the audience the narrative they expect, reactions can range from “What a clever twist!” to “That’s awful,” to even “I feel used.” What causes some unexpected plot developments to disappoint rather than delight—and how do you craft a satisfying surprise?

(7) EMPIRE BUILDING. [Item by John A Arkansawyer.] I’ve yet to hear a musician say anything printable about this: “Epic Games begins to show it’s ‘more than games,’ acquires Bandcamp” at Ars Technica.

Today the game maker moved to acquire Bandcamp, an online music-streaming service that revolves around DRM-free purchases of MP3s, FLACs, and other audio files. The news emerged via press releases from both Bandcamp and Epic on Wednesday. As of press time, neither side of the deal has clarified its financial terms….

…While this might sound like Epic wants to acquire Bandcamp’s backend, web storefront, and iOS/Android apps—which are a user-friendly breath of fresh air compared to the continued clunkiness of Epic Games Store—this wording suggests that Bandcamp could be rolled into the Unreal asset sales ecosystem. Want to license and use music in the Unreal Engine project of your dreams? Perhaps future creators would search for tunes inside of Unreal Engine using Bandcamp’s existing tags (“math rock,” “SoundCloud rap,” “sex jazz“) and pay a license accordingly, the same way they currently find textures, assets, or other licensed content.

(8) SIR PAT. “Sir Patrick Stewart discusses season two of ‘Star Trek: Picard’” at CBS News. The linked article includes a several minute video interview of Stewart. In addition to the headline subject, he also briefly discusses a memoir he’s writing.

The Guardian headlines its interview with the startling quote “Patrick Stewart: ‘I’d go straight home and drink until I passed out’”.  However, that’s about his experience performing a challenging role on stage. The conversation about Trek is mellow by comparison.

…Did he watch old episodes or rely on his memories? “The latter. As the seven seasons of TNG went by, the distinction between Jean-Luc Picard and Patrick Stewart became thinner and thinner, until it was impossible for me to know where he left off and I began. So much of what I believed and felt went into that show. So coming back to the part, I felt that the impact of time on Jean-Luc would just be there in where I am now. And that’s how it has felt.”

Was the deal that if anyone played the older Picard, it would be Stewart – or was there a risk of switching on to find, say, his friend Ian McKellen in the part? “Oh, I would have watched that,” Stewart laughs. “What a clever idea. No. They were absolutely clear: if I passed on it, there would be no show. And I believed them and thought that was generous.”…

(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1997 [Item by Cat Eldridge]

Once upon a time in a school in outer space,  
There was a class of misfit kids from all around the place.  
They snuck aboard a mystery ship,  
Which soon slipped through a spacial rip,  
And now they’re stuck on a long strange trip.
— The Theme Song

Twenty-five years ago on Nickelodeon’s Saturday night block of shows known as SNICK, a Canadian created series called Space Cases aired for two seasons. I’ve never seen it but it sounds like a lot of not so serious fun. 

It was created by author Peter David and actor Bill Mumy, and it starred Walter Emanuel Jones, Jewel Staite, Rebecca Herbst, Kristian Ayre, Rahi Azizi, Paige Christina, Anik Matern, Cary Lawrence and Paul Boretski. 

Yes, it had a fifteen-year-old Jewel Staite as one of its cast. She’s the ship’s engineer here. Huh. Was she cast on Firefly because of her role here? Well, this was a children’s show with the concept being similar to the current Star Trek: Prodigy. It told the story of a group of Star Academy students from different planets who sneaked aboard a mysterious space ship called The Christa. A ship they bonded literally with and ended across the galaxy in. 

It was shot on the cheap in Quebec. Really on the cheap, so props from Are You Afraid of the Dark? and other Nickelodeon programs were used in the series. Game consoles and compact discs were used as props. 

A number of well-known genre performers showed up here including Mark Hamill, Katey Sagal, George Takei and Michelle Trachtenberg. 

It lasted for two seasons comprising of twenty-seven episodes, each bring fairly short at twenty-two minutes.

A quarter of century later, the official website is still up. See if you spot Staite in the cast photo.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 2, 1933 Leo Dillion. With his wife Diane, they were illustrators of children’s books and many a paperback book and magazine cover. Over fifty years, they were the creators of over a hundred genre covers. They won the Hugo for Best Professional Artist at Noreascon (1971) after being nominated twice before at Heicon ‘70 and St. Louiscon. The Art of Leo & Diane Dillon written by Leo Dillon, Diane Dillon and Byron Preiss would be nominated for a Best Related Non-Fiction Hugo at Chicon IV. They would win a World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement. Some of my favorites? The first cover for Pavane. The Ace cover of The Left Hand of Darkness. And one for a deluxe edition of The Last Unicorn. (Died 2012.)
  • Born March 2, 1937 Barbara Luna, 85. She played Lt. Marlena Moreau in the Star Trek’s “Mirror, Mirror”, the cross-universe story, a favorite of mine. She showed up in The Outer LimitsThe Wild Wild WestMission: Impossible, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Six Million Dollar ManBuck Rogers in the 25th CenturyMission: Impossible (Australian version) and finally in several episodes of the fanfic video Star Trek: New Voyages series. (The latter is now called Star Trek: Phase II after Paramount sued them.)
  • Born March 2, 1939 jan howard finder. No, I’m not going to be able to do him justice here. He was a SF writer, filker, cosplayer and, of course, fan. He was a guest of honor at ConFrancisco. He was nicknamed The Wombat as a sign of affection and ConFrancisco was only one of at least eight Cons that he was fan guest of honor at. finder has even been tuckerized when Anne McCaffrey named a character for him. (Died 2013.)
  • Born March 2, 1943 Peter Straub, 79. Horror writer who won the World Fantasy Award for Koko and the August Derleth Award for Floating Dragon. He’s co-authored several novels with Stephen King, The Talisman which itself won a World Fantasy Award, and Black House. Both The Throat and In the Night Room won Bram Stoker Awards as did 5 Stories, a short collection by him. Ok, you know not that I’m that impressed by awards, but this is really impressive! 
  • Born March 2, 1960 Peter F. Hamilton, 62. I read and quite enjoyed his Night’s Dawn trilogy when it first came out and I’m fairly sure that I’ve read Pandora’s Star and Judas Unchained as they sound really familiar. (Too much genre fiction read over the years to remember everything…) His only English language award is a BSFA for his “The Suspect Genome”.  What else have y’all read by him? 
  • Born March 2, 1966 Ann Leckie, 56. Ancillary Justice won the Hugo Award at Loncon 3 and the Nebula Award, the Kitschies Award Golden Tentacle, Locus Award for Best First Novel, the Arthur C. Clarke Award, and the BSFA Award. Wow! The Ancillary Sword and Ancillary Mercy also won Awards and were no less impressive experiences. The Raven Tower is quite excellent too.
  • Born March 2, 1968 Daniel Craig, 54. Obviously Bond in the now being concluded series of films which I like a lot, but also in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider as Alex West, Lord Asriel In the film adaptation of Philip Pullman’s The Golden Compass, in SF horror film The Invasion as Ben Driscoll, in the very weird and very very well done Cowboys & Aliens as Jake Lonergan, voicing Ivan Ivanovitch Sakharine / Red Rackham  in the superb Adventures of Tintin and an uncredited appearance as Stormtrooper FN-1824 In Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  • Born March 2, 1992 Maisie Richardson-Sellers, 30. A most believable Vixen on Legends of Tomorrow for the first three seasons in my opinion as I’ve always liked that DC character.  (Season four onward, she’s been Clotho.) Prior to that role, she was recurring role as Rebekah Mikaelson / Eva Sinclair on The Originals, and she had a cameo as Korr Sella in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • Bizarro shares a snapshot from the home life of a superhero.

(12) DOTRICE DIALOG. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] I listened to this podcast which Leonard and Jessie Maltin did with Karen Dotrice.  She comes from an acting family (you may remember her father, Roy, from Beauty and the Beast) but she starred in three Disney films in the mid-1960s and has only acted sporadically since then. Maltin knows his Disney lore and this podcast is a Walt Disney geekfest, Dotrice remembers how kind Walt Disney was to her at 8, perhaps remembering that when he was 8 he was delivering newspapers.  He also remembers that Disney on the Mary Poppins set treated her as an adult, which she still respects nearly 60 years later.  Maltin also puts in a good word for Dotrice’s third Disney film, The Gnome-Mobile, which is from a novel by Upton Sinclair. If you’re interested in Walt Disney, this is a podcast for you! “Maltin on Movies: Karen Dotrice”.

To untold millions of people she will always be bright-eyed Jane Banks in the original Mary Poppins (1964). The real-life Karen Dotrice is the mother of three who grew up in a show-business family. Her father Roy was a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company and her godfather was Charles Laughton! Luckily for us, Karen cherishes the memory of making Poppins and has especially fond recollections of Walt Disney, who lavished personal attention on her and her family while they were in Los Angeles. Jessie and Leonard were tickled pink to engage in conversation with a woman they’ve known and admired for years. (Karen even attended Jessie’s bat mitzvah!)

(13) CHEER UP, HE SAID, IT COULD GET WORSE. I’m sure you remember the punchline that follows. At Teen Vogue, “Dystopian Novel Authors Talk About the Current State of the World”.

…According to Merriam-Webster, postapocalyptic is defined as “existing or occurring after a catastrophically destructive disaster or apocalypse.” And according to Oxford, a dystopia is “an imagined state or society in which there is great suffering or injustice, typically one that is totalitarian or postapocalyptic.” What is the litany of our current global disasters if not… all that? From the perspective of these dystopian authors, have we arrived in a version of the postapocalyptic dystopia as they imagined it?

“Hell, no, we have not hit the ‘post’ part,” writer Catherine Hernandez tells Teen Vogue in an email interview. “I am quite certain that we will experience wave after wave of environmental disasters, pandemics, and conflict over resources until we understand that predatory capitalism will kill us all.”…

(14) NOVA. Gareth L. Powell reaches back to review a Delany classic: “Nova-Level Literary Fireworks”.

… Katin is particularly prone to verbalising the symbolism he sees around him. He wants to be a novelist but has yet to find a subject he deems worthy of his intellect and talent. Instead, he spends all his time pontificating about the nature of novels, recording endless notes to himself — notes we suspect he will never get around to making use of.

Katin provides us with a rather pompous view of the narrative as great art whereas, when Tyÿ reads the Tarot for Lorq, she interprets his quest (and the role of each crewmember) using the archetypal symbols on her cards, thereby highlighting the mythical context of the story for us. But, of all the characters, it is Mouse who seems closest to the vision of a traditional storyteller. Unencumbered by a need to interpret anything as other than what it is, he simply plays the old songs and tells the old stories, using his instrument to create all the fireworks and effects of mood and wonder that Katin could achieve in written form, if only he could stop theorising and actually commit words to paper….

(15) READ PLANET. Jeff Foust reviews a gigantic book about Martian exploration — “Review: Discovering Mars” – at The Space Review.

… William Sheehan, a history of astronomy, and planetary scientist Jim Bell start at the beginning: “Perhaps the earliest reference to Mars in human culture is as part of the Aboriginal Australians’ Dreamtime, a vision from time beyond memory” but which dates back perhaps more than 40,000 years, they write. From that prehistory they work through early observations of Mars to track its orbit, which over time provided the evidence to support a Sun-centered, rather than Earth-centered, model of the solar system.

The invention of the telescope in the early 1600s turned Mars from a wandering red star to a world of its own. Astronomers struggled to interpret those blurry images, but often defaulted to imprinting our knowledge of Earth onto Mars, be it interpretating areas as seas or regions of vegetation—not to mention the now-infamous “canals” seen by some in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Similarly, the era of spaceflight revolutionized our understand of Mars, killing off once and for all any thought of the planet being Earthlike. …

(16) DOUCET Q&A. “Fearless Sincerity: PW Talks with Julie Doucet” at Publishers Weekly.

In her new graphic memoir Time Zone J, Julie Doucet’s cartoon avatar comments, “I had vowed never to draw myself again.” The real-life Doucet, renowned as a pioneer of autobiographical comics since her earliest days as a 1990s zine maker, echoes the sentiment. “I just can’t believe I did that!” she says. “I had a story I wanted to tell, and I really did try to put it on paper in so many different ways, but it didn’t work out. The only way was to tell it in a comic book.”

…Asked if there are personal stories she finds difficult to tell, Doucet laughs and says, “Yes, and they’re not told.” She has a reputation with being brutally honest about her own life, but over the years she’s grown more protective of friends who feel uncomfortable about being included in her work. “For them, [the experiences] were not necessarily good memories,” she says. “So now I’m extremely careful about not putting anyone in my books who doesn’t want to be in them.”

(17) ACTING UP. Karen Joy Fowler is coming out next week with Booth, a novel about John Wilkes Booth and his family. It’s historical fiction, not sff or alternate history, but we thought you might like to know! Here’s Publishers Weekly’s review: “Fiction Book Review: Booth by Karen Joy Fowler. Putnam, $28 (480p)”.

(18) ANOTHER ALEXANDRIA. A look at the 2005 fire that destroyed most of the Aardman animations archive. “The Fire That Destroyed Wallace & Gromit’s History”.

(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Batman (1989) Pitch Meeting” on Screen Rant, Ryan George says that when Michael Keaton was picked to be Batman in the 1989 film, he was only known for Mr. Mom, which could lead to “unnecessary arguments about Batman casting for decades to come.  Also the producer notes that Bruce Wayne gets Vicki Vale so drunk that she passes out and then gropes around in her bra for a roll of film, “and he’s supposed to be the hero?”

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Chris Barkley, David Doering, Jeffrey Smith, Rich Lynch, Will R., John A Arkansawyer, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Paul Weimer.]

Pixel Scroll 2/20/22 Big Pixel In Little Scroll

(1) IN THE YEAR 2025. Kathy Bond, Seattle 2025 Worldcon Bid Co-Chair, has announced there will be a Seattle 2025 Bid Volunteer Meeting on Sunday, March 6, at 10:00 a.m. Pacific. A link to the Facebook event can be found here.

We’d like to invite the community to come find out more about the state of our bid and where we are looking for help. We are actively looking for volunteers from around the world so anyone should feel free to attend this on-line meeting. 

Their website link is — Seattle in 2025: A Worldcon Bid

(2) FUGITIVE DOCTOR GETS COMIC BOOK. “Fugitive Doctor Series Announced” reports Comicbook.com. FCBD 2022 Doctor Who #1 releases on Free Comic Book Day, May 7, and Doctor Who Origin #1 will follow on May 18.

The Fugitive Doctor will finally get the spotlight in a new Doctor Who series. Jo Martin’s mysterious incarnation of the Time Lord makes her comic book debut on Free Comic Book Day in Titan Comics’ FCBD 2022 Doctor Who #1. The familiar Doctor Who Comic creative team of writer Jody Houser and artist Roberta Ingranata tell a tale that offers a glimpse at the Fugitive Doctor’s earlier years. Titan Comics has since confirmed that FCBD Doctor Who #1 will lead into the next Doctor Who Comic miniseries arc. The story is titled Doctor Who: Origins, telling a new adventure set during the Doctor’s time working for the Division.

The Fugitive Doctor made her surprise debut in the Doctor Who episode “Fugitive of the Judoon.” The sudden appearance of a previously unmentioned regeneration upset everything fans thought they knew about the Doctor. The Fugitive Doctor’s debut set up the even bigger reveal in “The Timeless Children,” rewriting the Doctor’s origin story massively.

(3) LIBRARY LOVERS MONTH. Jason Aukerman tells subscribers to The Bradbury Beat:

…Public libraries helped Bradbury develop into one of the best known writers of our time, and he never forgot that his success was rooted in the book stacks—the contents of which were widely available to the public. Bradbury’s passion and support for public libraries never wavered. He frequently spoke at public library events, and he never charged those libraries for his services. For Bradbury, the debt he owed to the public library could never be repaid, but he spent his entire professional career trying….

(4) TALENT SCOUT. “Zoom PBS show: How the ’70s show from WGBH used kids’ input to make something beautiful” at Slate.

…ZOOM, which ran from 1972 to 1978, was a Boston show (produced by local affiliate WGBH), but it was distributed to around 200 PBS stations around the country, and won an Emmy award in 1973. Historian Leslie Paris wrote an online exhibit on ZOOM’s history for the American Archive of Public Broadcasting that went up earlier this year. In February and March of 1975, Paris said in an interview, if you go by Nielsen ratings, “more kids were watching ZOOM than watching Sesame Street” in major cities. “That makes sense,” she said, “because the age range of potential ZOOM viewers was larger than that of Sesame Street, so kids watched over a greater number of years.” In the archives of the show, Paris found mail from kids so young they had dictated letters to their parents, and also from teenagers who confessed they sensed that the show was now too young for them, but they just couldn’t stop watching….

At least one kid who sent in a story to ZOOM went on to be a writer. “The Color-Eyed Dragon,” a short story about a dragon who could change the color

of his eyes, and hides inside a traffic light to teach people a lesson about the value of his strange talent, was read out loud on the show in Season 2, Episode 3. The tale was sent in by young Jonathan Lethem, of New York City, who would later become . Jonathan Lethem….

(5) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1988 [Item by Cat Eldridge] Thirty-four years ago on this evening, Ray Bradbury Theatre’s “Gotcha” first aired on HBO. 

In the episode, a lonely man dressed as Oliver Hardy at a masquerade party meets a lonely woman dressed as Stan Laurel, it seems nothing short of a match made in heaven. But a game of Gotcha! may just test their new found romance a little too much. It was based off his short which was published in Terry Carr’s The Year’s Finest Fantasy, Volume 2 but the romance shown here wasn’t in that story. 

The cast was Saul Rubinek and Kate Lynch, and it was directed by Brad Turner who has done a lot of genre series work including seventeen episodes of The Outer Limits.

Reception for it is excellent. As Heroic Times, a review site, puts it: “The vast majority of episodes are just not very good. So much of what defines a great Ray Bradbury story, is the words, is the sublime, haunting use of language, and in this case a picture is decidedly not greater than the words. GOTCHA! is one of those exceptions, a good Ray Bradbury Theater episode. Some innovative and even stylish direction, complemented with an intriguing script and earnest performances really make this a quite engrossing and compelling watch.” 

(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born February 20, 1906 Theodore Roscoe. A mere tasting of his pulp stories, The Wonderful Lips of Thibong Linh, which are sort of based on a member of the French Foreign Legion, was published by Donald M. Grant. The complete stories, The Complete Adventures of Thibaut Corday and the Foreign Legion, are available digitally in four volumes on Kindle. The Wonderful Lips of Thibong Linh only contain four of these stories. (Died 1992.)
  • Born February 20, 1912 Pierre Boulle. Best known for just two works, The Bridge over the River Kwai and Planet of the Apes. The latter was was La planète des singes in French, translated in 1964 as Monkey Planet by Xan Fielding, and later re-issued under the name we know. Obviously, the origin work for the film as well. (Died 1994.)
  • Born February 20, 1925 Robert Altman. I’m going to argue that his very first film in 1947, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, based off the James Thurber short story of the same name, is genre given its premise. Some twenty-five years later Images was a full-blown horror film. And of course, Popeye is pure comic literature at its very best. (Died 2006.)
  • Born February 20, 1943 Diana Paxson, 79. Did you know she’s a founder of the Society for Creative Anachronism? Well, she is. Genre-wise, she’s best known for her Westria novels, and the later books in the Avalon series, which at first, she co-wrote with Marion Zimmer Bradley then, after Bradley’s death, took over sole authorship. All of her novels are heavily colored with paganism — sometimes it works for me, sometimes it doesn’t. I like her Wodan’s Children series more than the Avalon material. 
  • Born February 20, 1954 Anthony Head, 68. Perhaps best known as Librarian and Watcher Rupert Giles in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, he also made an impressive Uther Pendragon in Merlin. He also shows up in Repo! The Genetic Opera as Nathan Wallace aka the Repo Man, in Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance as Benedict, and in the awesomely great Batman: Gotham by Gaslight voicing Alfred Pennyworth.
  • Born February 20, 1964 Rodney Rowland, 58. His best-remembered roles to date are 1st Lieutenant Cooper Hawkes in Space: Above and Beyond and P. Wiley in The 6th Day. He’s also Corey Mahoney in Soulkeeper, a Sci Fi Pictures film. He’s got one-offs in X-FilesWelcome to ParadoxDark AngelSeven DaysAngelCharmed and Twin Peaks.

(7) TODAY IN SPACE.

February 20, 1962 — Astronaut John Glenn became the first American to orbit the earth. He made 3 trips around the earth in his Mercury-Atlas spacecraft, Friendship 7, in just under 5 hours.

He has an essay, “The Fireflies,” in Arthur C. Clarke’s The Coming of The Space: Famous Accounts of Man’s Probing of the Universe, first published in 1967.  The story behind those fireflies is detailed here. Also, “Astronaut John Glenn Was First Person to Eat in Space”.

(8) COMICS SECTION.

  • Shoe has a gag in a bookstore.
  • Non Sequitur has a brilliant joke about public domain.

(9) PERSONAL BOOKS. There are shoutouts to Spiderman, Star Trek, Star Wars and “Samira Ahmed’s new run of Ms Marvel comics” in this week’s ‘books of my life’ in the Guardian: “Nikesh Shukla: ‘Reading Spider-Man made me feel less alone’”.

The books that changed me as a teenager
On my weekly trips to Calamity Comics in Harrow town centre I would sit at the back of the shop, reading Spider-Man comics. Peter Parker is me. I am Peter Parker. Which means I could be Spider-Man. Those comic books made me feel less alone.

(10) THE CLICKS OF YESTERDAY. What is John talking about? It’ll come back to you if you concentrate. Keep clicking your heels together til it does.

(11) LITTLE KNOWN FACTS. MSN.com calls this Reddit thread of mind-blowing science facts “the craziest thing you’ll read all week.” Or maybe it won’t be – you read the Scroll, after all! Here’s an example.

(12) OCTOTHORPE. Octothorpe 51 is up, which encourages us to “Make TAFF a Four-Way Tie”. (Enjoy Alison’s art below.)

John Coxon is a spoilsport, Alison Scott is promoting and Liz Batty might come to Eastercon. We listen to Become the Teapot and The Incomparable before discussing the now-available Game Hugo proposal (championed by Ira Alexandre). Listen here! 

(13) CAN OVERBOARD. Smithsonian Magazine chronicles how “After 25 Years at Sea, Shipwrecked Lego Pieces Are Still Washing Ashore on Beaches in England”.

…The Lego pieces aboard the Tokio Express were among 62 shipping containers that tumbled off the vessel. The ship was en route to New York after it loaded its cargo in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, when an unpredictable 28-foot wave smashed into a cargo ship 20 miles off the mainland, reports Jackie Butler for Cornwall Live. Other items swept to sea included 10,000 disposable lighters, superglue, and other hazardous chemicals. 

Ever since, collectors have gone out to look for “rare” pieces like octopuses and green dragons. Tracey Williams—a Cornwall local, beachcomber, and environmental campaigner—has documented the Lego spill for years on “Lego Lost at Sea” social media pages via Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. More recently, she published AdriftThe Curious Tale of Lego Lost at Sea, a book detailing the Lego incident.

Though the wayward novelties may inspire wonder, the tiny bricks highlight plastic pollution’s impact on oceans. Out of the 4,756,940 Lego pieces on board, about 3,178,807 were light enough to float and are what is commonly found across 40 beaches in Cornwall, eported Mario Cacciottolo for the BBC in 2014. For example, small plastic flowers and mini diver’s flippers are regularly seen along the shores….

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Andrew (not Werdna), Steven French, 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 Danny Sichel.]

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

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

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

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

(2) THE BUZZ. Lightyear opens June 17.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

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

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

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

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

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

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

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

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

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

First the 2020 excerpt:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Category: I’m too sexy: a lyrical potpourri

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

No one could answer: What is a cat?

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

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

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