Pixel Scroll 1/22/24 Encounter at Fargo

(1) KUANG ON BABEL’S HUGO INELIGIBILITY. Rebecca F. Kuang decided that saying nothing isn’t an option. “Rebecca F. Kuang: ‘statement’” at Bluesky.

(2) ANOTHER WAY TO RUN A RAILROAD. Answering some writers’ renewed cry that the Hugo Awards be taken away from the Worldcon, Cheryl Morgan has drafted a proposal. It’s explained in “Decoupling the Hugos” at Cheryl’s Mewsings. Morgan’s draft can be downloaded at “Independent-Hugo-Administration.pdf”.

In amongst all of the discussion as to what to do about the Chengdu Hugo issue has been one suggestion that can actually be implemented, albeit over a number of years. That is decoupling Hugo Award Administration from the host Worldcon, so that the laws of the host country cannot interfere with the voting process….

… WSFS already has an organization called the Mark Protection Committee (MPC), which is responsible for maintaining the service marks that WSFS owns (in particular “Hugo Award” and the logo). I suggest renaming this the Independent Hugo Award Administration Committee (IHAAC) and giving it, rather than Worldcon, the job of administering the voting process. The IHAAC would recruit experienced administrators in much the same way that Worldcon does, but there would be a lot more consistency from year to year.

Worldcon would still have the option of staging a Hugo Award ceremony, and creating a distinctive trophy base, but equally it could decline to do that and pass the job back to the IHAAC.

Kevin [Standlee] and I cannot take this proposal forward ourselves. Kevin is a member of the MPC, and I effectively work for them in maintaining the WSFS websites, so we both have a vested interest. Our involvement could easily be portrayed as a power grab. But we are happy to provide help and advice to anyone who does want to take this forward at Glasgow….

(3) DON’T MAKE CHANGES THAT TAKE VOLUNTEERS FOR GRANTED. Abigail Nussbaum has a remarkably insightful post about the current crisis: “The 2023 Hugo Awards: Now With an Asterisk” at Asking the Wrong Questions.

… Even taking this most charitable view of events, however, there comes a point where honest mistakes corrupt a result too thoroughly to be distinguishable from malice, and that’s before we even get into those three still-unexplained ineligibility rulings. Unless Chengdu steps forward with more information, there is, unfortunately, no avoiding the conclusion that the 2023 Hugo results are irreparably tainted.

On the matter of those three disqualifications, the assumption that many people are making—and which, again, seems like the most plausible conclusion until and unless Chengdu starts answering questions—is that all three were struck off for political reasons. This might mean outright government interference, or someone on the Hugo team complying in advance, or an independent but politically-motivated actor among the award’s administrators striking off work they don’t approve of. This may also explain the silence from the Hugo team, who may fear reprisals towards themselves or their teammates. At this point it is possible that we will never know the whole story of what happened to the 2023 Hugo Awards. Which means the important question before us is how to move forward.

That question is complicated by the erratic, increasingly rickety superstructure of the Hugos and the Worldcon as a whole. Put simply, there is no Worldcon organization. Each convention is its own corporate entity charged with holding the convention and administering the Hugos, and bound only by the WSFS constitution. Said constitution is discussed and amended in the annual Business Meeting, a sclerotic, multi-day affair administered under rules that seem designed to baffle new participants and slow change to a creeping pace. What this means, among other things, is that there is no actual oversight over any individual Worldcon’s behavior, and no mechanism to claw back either the convention or the Hugos if it appears that they are being mismanaged.

It’s not at all surprising that the reaction of many people upon learning these facts, and especially in the present context, is to immediately leap to the conclusion that this entire system should be scrapped and replaced with a centralized authority. This, I think, is to ignore some very basic facts: the Worldcon is a fully volunteer-run organization. The free labor that goes into administering it, and the Hugos specifically, probably runs to tens, perhaps hundreds, of thousands of dollars in value. The idea that one can simply erect a super-organization under those same conditions is hard to imagine….

(4) LECKIE ON THE HUGOS. If you happen to be on Bluesky, Ann Leckie has a thread with a lively discussion. It begins:

(5) MORE CHINESE SOCIAL MEDIA RESPONSES. [Item by Ersatz Culture.] Some more anonymized online reactions to social media posts about the Hugo nomination report, some of which are based on coverage of the continued Anglosphere reactions, such as John Scalzi’s blog post about Babel.

English translations are all via Google Translate unless otherwise indicated, with minor edits or commentary in square parentheses.  Some of the smileys haven’t come through, so bear in mind that some of these should be read in a sarcastic tone.

怎么感觉雨果奖次次都有瓜

Why does it feel like the Hugo’s have a melon every time? [Note: “melon” is Chinese slang – maybe “drama” is a reasonable translation in this context?  Also, this translation is via DeepL; Google Translate comes up with a less literal result, but which I think is incorrect]

2023这次应该是“中国雨果奖”吧。

This time in 2023 it should be the “China Hugo Award”. 

雨果奖到底怎么了

What happened to the Hugo Awards?

看到这新闻心里没有一丝波澜,甚至觉的这事发生在这里太正常辣,出现正面新闻才令人惊讶呢。外国人对真实的种花家还是了解太少

When I saw this news, I didn’t feel any emotion at all. I even thought it was too normal for this to happen here. It was surprising to see positive news. Foreigners still know too little about real flower growers [Note: “flower growers” = China]

太可惜了

What a pity

然而巴别塔还在国内出中译了,就很神奇 很迷惑

However, [Tower of] Babel has been translated into Chinese in China, which is amazing and confusing

到底为什么呀怎么感觉这么大的事情国内平台都没几个声??

Why on earth do you feel that there are not many domestic platforms talking about such a big thing? ?

因为雨果奖怎么样并不算大事,国内的雨果奖获奖作品能给媒体带来多少收入才是大事

[replying to previous comment] Because it’s not a big deal how the Hugo Award is, but how much income the domestic Hugo Award-winning works can bring to the media is a big deal

真实了,我记得之前国内作者获得雨果奖的时候大小媒体都在采访

[A further reply] It’s real. I remember when a domestic author won the Hugo Award, all the media were interviewing him.

我推测并不是CN康的审查而是主办方自身某种私心(虽然我不知道具体是什么动机),要知道《巴别塔》本身有一种强烈的“早产的列宁主义”的意味,在这边不要太正确。当然,我坚决拥护斯卡尔齐老师对办会章程的建议!

I speculate that it is not CN Kang’s censorship but some selfish motives of the organizer (although I don’t know the specific motivation). You must know that “[Tower of] Babel” itself has a strong sense of “premature Leninism”. Don’t be too correct. Of course, I firmly support Mr. Scalzi’s suggestion on the rules of the conference!  [I’m not sure what “CN康” is, Wikipedia says “CN” is “virgin”, but that doesn’t seem to make any sense in this context.]

????所以呢?在其他地方举办世界科幻大会没有按国外的审美标准就是存在疑问及不适合的?

????So what? Is it questionable and inappropriate to hold the World Science Fiction Convention elsewhere if it does not follow foreign aesthetic standards?

毕竟是有关国家信誉的大事,别只写获奖不写争议吧咱就说

After all, it is a major matter related to the credibility of the country. Don’t just write about the awards and not the controversies. Let’s just say  [This comment cced in half-a-dozen news organizations, some of which are ones that I recognize from earlier coverage of the con, I think some of which was linked in prior Scrolls]

《巴别塔》批判殖民主义,还以英国为背景,咋不猜是英国通过某些手段干预了提名[smiley]

“[Tower of] Babel” criticizes colonialism and is set in the United Kingdom. Why don’t you guess that the United Kingdom interfered with the nomination through certain means [smiley]

去年看的巴别塔,前不久看的Yellowface,Rebecca F. Kuang就是很灵秀啊,23年雨果奖怎么搞的评委最清楚啦

I [read] [Tower of] Babel last year and Yellowface not long ago. Rebecca F. Kuang is so smart. The judges of the [2023] Hugo Awards know best

《巴别塔》明明是歌颂中国人民反殖民主义的努力的啊,被雨果奖错过太可惜了

“[Tower of] Babel” obviously praises the Chinese people’s anti-colonial efforts. It would be a pity to miss out on the Hugo Award.

这,别人也倒罢了,她不是参与过联名抵制成都科幻大会吗?现在觉得自己被除名还应该给个具体原因了?

[Re. Xiran Jay Zhao] This is just for others. Didn’t [they] participate in a joint boycott of the Chengdu Science Fiction Conference? Now you feel like you should [be given] a specific reason for being removed?

赵希然,写武则天开机甲的那个华裔女科幻作家。她说唐代是中国的荡妇时代。

Zhao Xiran, the Chinese science fiction writer who wrote about Wu Zetian’s mecha. [They] said that the Tang Dynasty was the era of sluts in China. [referring to this Tweet]

Kuang特别棒 熬夜读完了1/4的巴别塔

Kuang is awesome. I stayed up late and read 1/4 of Tower of Babel.

(6) MAP CANNON. Yesterday’s China roundup by Ersatz Culture included the term “map cannon”, for which made an approximate English translation. Thanks to Gareth Jelley for finding a Baidu Encylopedia article that explains it in detail.

The map cannon originally refers to a map attack type weapon in the “Super Robot Wars” series. It first appeared in the “Second Super Robot Wars” in the Magic Machine God’s Sebastian , and was later used to refer to some mass destruction weapons. weapons or magic. On the Internet, the extended meaning of “map cannon” is the act of verbally attacking a certain group. On the Internet, it often refers to geographical attackers , or the behavior of a few people is used to deny the behavior of a certain group.

Since in many anime works, the map cannon exists as a weapon with great power and large area of ​​destruction, so in some forums (such as NGA), the map cannon is extended to large-scale indiscriminate deletion of posts, banning IDs, and punishing users. Behaviors such as this also often refer to some moderators who often delete and ban people on a large scale and indiscriminately.

It can also express prejudice against certain things. There is often a label that summarizes the whole based on the characteristics of the part. Prejudice against different groups of people will always exist. However, there are also some “facialization” who are willing to be accepted by others – if they think they are at the top of the discrimination chain. The rise of the Internet has redefined the standards of “us” and “them” for the first time.

(7) COMIC RELIEF KERFUFFLE. Doctor Who fandom blew up yesterday. The first one got almost 300K views. The second is one of the more entertaining replies.

(8) YOUR SF TAXONOMY. Horst Smokowski lists “All the Types of Science Fiction”: at McSweeney’s Internet Tendency. There are fifty of them. The first three are:

1. Check this place out, it’s dope

2. Technology solves problems ???? (future good)

3. Technology creates problems ???? (future bad)

(9) EXTREME SUFFRAGE. Looking for more sff awards you can vote for? (Oh, you glutton for punishment!) Rocket Stack Rank has a roundup here: “SF/F Ballots For Stories From 2023”.

Here are links to ballots for various SF/F awards, 5 that are open to all, and 4 that are open to members of a convention or association. Highlighted awards are currently open for voting.

The magazine-specific awards come with a longlist link to all stories published by each magazine, with blurbs to help you remember the ones you’ve read and scores to guide further reading….

(10) FREE READ. Marie Brennan’s “Embers Burning in the Night” is a free-to-read story at Sunday Morning Transport, offered to encourage new subscriptions.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born January 22, 1970 Alex Ross, 54. So Alex Ross, eh? A fantastic, in all senses of that word, comic book illustrator and writer whose first work with comic book writer Kurt Busiek, the four-issue The Marvels for, er, Marvel Comics would been a highlight of anyone else’s career.

Not Ross though.  Another four-issue run, Kingdom Come, this time for DC, under their Elseworlds imprint, told of an aleternate DC  universe that might have happened. One of my favorite DC stories. It was written by Mark Waid and him. 

Yes, he can do pulp as he illustrated the John Layman written series, Red Sonja/Claw:  the Unconquered Devil’s Hands,  that  was co-published with Dynamite Entertainment where Red Sonja and Claw, a  cursed warrior I had never heard of before this, had a series of adventures that showed Red Sonja’s assets very well. 

He’s just not interested in the costumed superheroes. Over at his website, you’ll find the prints he’s done for the Universal Monsters – Dracula, Wolf Man and so forth, they’re all there. The prints look fantastic bad they can be yours if your pocket change is deep. 

Here’s my favorite piece of art by him. 

(12) COMICS SECTION.

  • Frazz is for editors.
  • Last Kiss breaks the fourth wall.
  • Annie mentions science fiction, and also might be a reference to this B.C. strip.

(13) THE SGT. MAJOR’S MARSCON REPORT. [Item by Dann.] Mike Burke is a retired US Marine Corps Sergeant Major.  Mike operated under the nom de plume (or perhaps nom de guerre) of “America’s Sergeant Major” for several years.  He has led Marines in peace and in war.  Since his retirement, he has written fiction and nonfiction for the US Naval Institute.  The USNI is a non-profit organization with the purpose of providing an “independent forum for those who dare to read, think, speak, and write in order to advance the professional, literary, and scientific understanding of sea power and other issues critical to global security.”

Sgt. Maj. Burke has started writing on Substack as Spearman Burke and is a self-professed “noob” at the profession of writing.

He recently attended Marscon in Norfolk, VA and has a report from the con.  He was able to meet Ben Yalow, David Weber, Kacey Ezell, and a few other notable authors.  One of Kacey’s stories was what inspired Mike to pursue his next career as a genre author.  He scored a contract to submit a short story for an anthology at the con.

(14) CRIME AND PUNISHMENT. AP News says “Reformed mobster who stole Judy Garland’s ruby slippers from ‘Oz’ wanted one last score”. Now they’re about to drop the big house on him.

The aging reformed mobster who has admitted stealing a pair of ruby slippers that Judy Garland wore in “The Wizard of Oz” gave into the temptation of “one last score” after an old mob associate led him to believe the famous shoes must be adorned with real jewels to justify their $1 million insured value.

Terry Jon Martin’s defense attorney finally revealed the 76-year-old’s motive for the 2005 theft from the Judy Garland Museum in the late actor’s hometown of Grand Rapids, Minnesota, in a new memo filed ahead of his Jan. 29 sentencing in Duluth, Minnesota.

The FBI recovered the shoes in 2018 when someone else tried to claim an insurance reward on them, but Martin wasn’t charged with stealing them until last year….

(15) ROBERT BLOCH WEBSITE UPDATE. Jim Nemeth of the Robert Bloch Official Website announced a major update.

At the (fantastic) suggestion and immense help of Mr. David J Schow (DJS) we now have a new Gallery page, showing just about every/all sides of our beloved Bob.

(16) THE REMNANT OF HUMANITY IS COMING HOME. Friends of Fred Lerner will be excited to hear that his book In Memoriam will be released by Fantastic Books And Gray Rabbit Publications on July 2.

David Bernstein is a 17-year-old member of the Remnant of Terra, the descendants of the 2,000 people who survived the Cataclysm that destroyed human life on Earth. For two centuries the Remnant has lived among the Wyneri, who rescued the few survivors and brought them to their world. Although the Wyneri are physically and psychologically very similar to Terrans, the two species interact only when they must. The Remnant earn their keep among their alien hosts, but otherwise remain apart, devoting themselves to preserving the cultural heritage of Terra.

David, however, is fascinated with the Wyneri and their culture, an interest shared by none of his contemporaries. Attending a Wyneri performance he meets a Wyneri girl his own age, and he and Harari strike up a taboo friendship.

While David learns about his Terran heritage, he feels very much alone in trying to also learn about the history of the Terran-Wyneri relationship. Violent Wyneri xenophobia drives David to intensify his studies, and to dig into the mysteries surrounding the Cataclysm, the rescue, and the ensuing two centuries of cover-ups. He begins to suspect a long-lived cabal that has spent the years working in secret, preparing for a return to Earth.

Harari’s murder crystallizes David’s need to explore the Terran-Wyneri history. Her posthumous message proving that the Cataclysm was caused by rogue Wyneri military personnel leads David to the Remnant’s leaders, who confirm it as genuine. Their conclusion? The time has come for Terrans to separate from the Wyneri. They enlist David’s help to persuade the Remnant to return to Earth, and to encourage the Wyneri to help them.

(17) RED PLANET WINGS. “Nasa plans to fly giant solar-powered Mars plane to look for water on Red Planet” reports The Independent.

Nasa has received its first set of funding to develop a giant airplane that could fly high in the planet’s atmosphere and look for signs of water on the Red Planet.

The solar-powered vehicle, called Mars Aerial and Ground Intelligent Explorer or Maggie, is expected to fly in the Martian atmosphere with vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) capability similar to Nasa’s pioneering Ingenuity Mars helicopter.

With fully charged batteries, the Mars airplane could fly at an altitude of 1,000m for about 180km with its total range over a year on Mars expected to be over 16,000 km, the space agency said earlier this month.

Using the aircraft, Nasa hopes to conduct three studies on the Red Planet’s atmosphere and geophysical features, including the hunt for water, research on the origin of the planet’s weak magnetic field as well as tracing the elusive source of methane signals on Mars….

(18) HIDDEN HISTORY. Constellation comes to Apple TV+ on February 21.

“Constellation” stars Noomi Rapace as Jo — an astronaut who returns to Earth after a disaster in space — only to discover that key pieces of her life seem to be missing. The action-packed space adventure is an exploration of the dark edges of human psychology, and one woman’s desperate quest to expose the truth about the hidden history of space travel and recover all that she has lost.

(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Isaac Arthurs has just had his monthly sci-fi weekend and asks who would win: robot or alien?

We often worry that humanity might be attacked by Aliens or AI, but which is worse and which would win in a battle between them?

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

2023 Hugo Nomination Report Has Unexplained Ineligibility Rulings; Also Reveals Who Declined

The 2023 Hugo Award Stats Final report posted today on the official Hugo Awards website revealed that the Chengdu Worldcon’s Hugo award subcommittee made many startling and sometimes unexplained rulings.

R. F. Kuang’s novel Babel, winner of the 2023 Nebula and Locus Awards, was ruled “not eligible” without explanation, even though it had the third most nominations. The EPH point calculation used to determine the Hugo finalists shows the count for Babel was stopped in the first round, and it accrued no more points when other works were eliminated in the automatic runoff.

(The Google Translate rendering of the Chinese is “Not eligible for nomination.”)

Paul Weimer was another “not eligible” kept off the ballot without explanation, despite having been a Best Fan Writer finalist for the past three years. Weimer had the third most nominating votes this year – and in that category the EPH calculation was completed, showing he ended up with the second highest point-count.

A third such “not eligible” was Xiran Jay Zhao, ruled out of the Astounding Award. As noted here in a comment on the announcement post, it should be impossible for a first-year-of-eligibility Astounding Award finalist to be ineligible the following year unless either they already won the award or the original Hugo committee (Chicon 8) erred in their eligibility determination.

And episode 6 of Neil Gaiman’s series The Sandman (“The Sound of Her Wings”) was labeled “not eligible” without explanation, while the series itself was disqualified from Best Dramatic – Long Form under Rule 3.8.3. The WSFS Constitution’s rule 3.8.3 says a series can be a Best Dramatic Presentation – Long Form finalist, or an episode of the series can be a Best Dramatic Presentation – Short Form finalist, but only one or the other may be on the ballot, the nod going to whichever gets the most nominating votes. Once the episode was removed there was no longer a rule 3.8.3 conflict. Keeping Neil Gaiman’s work off the ballot entirely was the result, however explained.

File 770 asked Dave McCarty, a Chengdu Worldcon vice-chair and co-head of the Hugo Awards Selection Executive Division, the reason for these “not eligible” rulings. He replied:

After reviewing the Constitution and the rules we must follow, the administration team determined those works/persons were not eligible.

File 770 then asked Kevin Standlee, among the best-known interpreters of the WSFS Constitution, what rules there could be in addition to the Constitution. Standlee pointed me to his article posted today, “Elections Have Consequences”.

…An overwhelming majority of the members of WSFS who voted on the site of the 2023 Worldcon (at the 2021 Worldcon in DC) selected Chengdu, China as the host of the 2023 Worldcon. That meant that the members of WSFS who expressed an opinion accepted that the convention would be held under Chinese legal conditions….

…When it comes to local law, this could end up applying anywhere. Here’s an example I can use because as far as I know, there are no Worldcon bids for Florida at this time. Imagine a Worldcon held in Florida. It would be subject to US and Florida law (and any smaller government subdivision). Given legislation passed by Florida, it would not surprise me if such a hypothetical Florida Worldcon’s Hugo Administration Subcommittee would disqualify any work with LGBTQ+ content, any work with an LGBTQ+ author, or any LGBTQ+ individual, because the state has declared them all illegal under things like their “Don’t Say Gay or Trans” laws and related legislation….

Fans are clearly expected to infer these Hugo eligibility decisions were made to comply with Chinese rules or authority, but no one is saying what Chinese rules the Hugo subcommittee was operating under, unlike Standlee’s hypothetical which is based on Florida laws and policies that can actually be pointed to. Another unaddressed question is whether the administrators made these decisions on their own, voluntarily, because they were afraid not to disqualify certain people, or because they were told by someone in authority that’s what they should do.

Paul Weimer has written a response to being ruled ineligible on his Patreon – “Chengdu, I want some answers. Dave McCarty, I want an explanation. I am owed one.”

OTHER RULINGS. In a few cases, the report explains an item’s ineligibility in a footnote.

Best Related WorkThe History of Chinese Science Fiction in the 20th Century was disqualified because one of the authors was on the Hugo subcommittee. 

The Art of Ghost of Tsushima was first published in 2020.

Best Dramatic Presentation – Long FormAndor (Season 1) and Sandman – Rule 3.8.3 (knocked off the ballot because individual episodes got more votes in the Short Form category)

(And yet down below the individual episode of Sandman was knocked off the ballot as an unexplained “not eligible.” What kind of Catch-22 is that?)

Best Dramatic Presentation – Short Form – The Severance episode was a Rule 3.8.3 disqualification going the other direction (the series made the ballot).

The Deep. — Deep Sea, which is the Chinese translation given in the report, is said in a Chinese footnote to have been “published years ago.” (Alternatively, this could refer to the animated movie Deep Sea, whose release date per IMDB was 2023, later than the eligibility period.)

In one case it is possible to deduce the likely reason for the “not eligible” ruling though not explicitly said in the report.

Novelette – “Color the World” by Congyun “Mu Ming” Gu was first published in 2019 (see “Stories 小说 – Congyun “Mu Ming” Gu”).

But it is not explained why Hai Ya’s “Fogong Temple Pagoda” was ineligible for Best Short Story, although the problem must not have been with the author because his “Space-Time Painter” won the Best Novella Hugo.

DECLINED NOMINATIONS. S. B. Divya’s public announcement about declining two Hugo nominations encouraged speculation at the time that many more people were following suit as a political protest. In fact there were not that many refusals, and it’s not demonstrable that any of the others were protests.

Who declined?

Becky Chambers — (Novella – “A Prayer for the Crown-Shy”)

S. B. Divya — (Novelette “Two Hands, Wrapped in Gold”; also removed her name from the list of Hugo-nominated semiprozine Escape Pod’s team members. See “Why S. B. Divya Declined Two Hugo Nominations”.)

Prey – (film – from Best Dramatic Presentation – Long Form)

Guo Jian – (from Best Professional Artist)

CUI BONO. Who got on because people declined?

Novella Where the Drowned Girls Go by Seanan McGuire – which went on to win the Best Novella Hugo.

Novelette – “Murder by Pixel: Crime and Responsibility in the Digital Darkness” by S. L. Huang

Best Professional Artist – Zhang Jian

Who got on where works or people were declared “not eligible” for one reason or another?

Best NovelThe Daughter of Doctor Moreau by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Best Novelette – “If You Find Yourself Speaking to God, Address God with the Informal You” by John Chu

Best Short Story – “Resurrection” by Ren Qing

Best Related WorkThe Ghost of Workshops Past by S.L. Huang and Buffalito World Outreach Project by Lawrence M. Schoen

Best Dramatic PresentationAvatar: Way of Water; Black Panther: Wakanda Forever; Severance (season 1)

Best Fan Writer — HeavenDule

ERROR WILL BE CORRECTED. In the Best Novelette category “Turing Food Court” appears on two different lines of the report. Hugo Administrator Dave McCarty explained, “It 100% is a copy/paste error that I missed in the dozens of back and forths between me and the Chinese folks handling translations.”

UPDATE 01/20/2024. The amended report is now up. Here is the corrected Novelette page. (Thanks to Mr. Octopus for the story.)


Update 01/28/2024: Added a paragraph to make the ineligibility of Neil Gaiman’s works part of the lede. That had only been discussed in the category analyses.

Pixel Scroll 9/24/23 The Decimated Pixel Of Doom

(0) WGA/AMPTP REACH DEAL. Shortly after the Scroll was posted, I received this news item reported by Variety: “Deal! WGA, AMPTP Agree to Deal After 146-Day Writers Strike”.

Hollywood heaves a sigh of relief. The WGA and major studios and streamers have reached a tentative agreement on a new three-year contract that promises to end the 146-day strike that has taken a heavy toll across the content industry.

Negotiators for the Writers Guild of America and Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers reached the finish line Sunday after five consecutive days of negotiations. Day 4 on Saturday mostly involved lawyers for the guild and AMPTP hashing out the fine print of language around complicated and groundbreaking additions to the WGA’s Minimum Basic Agreement. The nitty-gritty details of language around the use of generative AI in content production was one of the last items that the sides worked on before closing the pact.

“We can say, with great pride, that this deal is exceptional – with meaningful gains and protections for writers in every sector of the membership,” the WGA Negotiating Committee wrote in an email to sent to members at 7:10 p.m. PT (Full text below).

The three-year contract will be sent to WGA members for a ratification vote. After nearly five months on strike – the work stoppage began May 2 – it’s highly likely to pass muster with the WGA’s 11,000 members, especially with the enthusiastic endorsement of WGA leaders. As momentum built this week, negotiators began to look at the approach of the Yom Kippur holiday on Sunday as a soft target deadline….

(1) HUGO VOTING DEADLINE. Voting for 2023 Hugo Award, Astounding Award and Lodestar Award closes less than a week from now on September 30 at 11:59 p.m. Hawaiian Time.  Don’t miss your chance to cast and update your ballot before the deadline.

(2) YOU STEPPED OUT OF A DREAM. I dreamed last night I was watching a stand-up comic perform. He got to part of a story where emergency vehicles were responding to a situation and he was imitating the siren/bell/electronic squawks they made — which was surprising (and possibly unlikely) he could do with his voice alone, but it was mentally up to me to decide when he had made enough different noises to be funny but without doing too many to kill the joke. Apparently I woke up at the point I decided he’d done enough.

(3) FIFTH ELEMENTS. New Scientist presents “Five of sci-fi’s best corporate villains, according to author John Scalzi”. Read fast – New Scientist lets you read for a few seconds before blocking with a request that you register for an account to continue reading.

In my latest novel Starter Villain, the book’s protagonist, Charlie Fitzer, inherits his mysterious uncle’s vast corporate empire – only to discover that underpinning it all is a supervillainy business that rivals anything that James Bond’s adversaries might have ever imagined.

While my book takes place in today’s world, there are definitely unexpected elements (wait until you meet the cats!) that make for a mash-up of wild science fiction and modern corporatised evil. But of course, Starter Villain isn’t the first work to blend the two concepts.

Submitted below, for your approval, are five cinematic (non-007) works from across several decades that have offered up the sort of villains who show up in my novel….

One of his choices is:

Aliens(1986): In the original Alien (1979), it is clear that the Weyland-Yutani corporation that has sent the crew of the Nostromo to pick up a murderous, extraterrestrial egg values its military branch’s profits more than humans. But in this excellent and rather tonally different sequel, that corporate ethos is given a face in Carter Burke (Paul Reiser), a striving middle-management type who just doesn’t understand why Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) can’t see the financial opportunity the aliens offer the company. Appropriately, it’s the aliens themselves who eventually show him the error of his ways.

(4) CHENGDU WORLDCON ROUNDUP. [Item by Ersatz Culture.]

Chengdu Science Fiction Season. I’m not sure how officially these are associated with the Worldcon, but there have been a few events under the “2023 Chengdu Science Fiction Season” branding, which include the Chengdu Worldcon name and panda logo on their photos and videos.

On September 15th, writer 泽泽 / Ze Ze gave a talk at a Chengdu primary school about the history of SF, which apparently went as far as explaining the difference between hard and soft SF.

This is another talk to schoolkids, this time by La Zi (aka Latssep), who works at SF World magazine, and co-edited one of the Best Fanzine finalists.  This line caught my eye:

First of all, [La Zi] started by talking about three “major science fiction events” that happened around us, the World Science Fiction Conference, The Wandering Earth, General Secretary Xi’s speech…

That’s the Google Translate rendering, but I also put that text through the DeepL and Vivaldi Lingvanex translators, and they all came out with similar results.

This took place on September 16 in Chengdu, and featured Best Short Story finalist Lu Ban alongside a moderator and a couple of others.

I’m not sure when exactly this took place.  The Friday post talks about an event that happened this afternoon (Sunday 24th), but has a video of the panel, so whatever happened today can’t have been that panel?  (I think that panel may have been streamed live, per the text in the top right of the video?)  The panelists include one of the Worldcon division heads, and a couple of writers who’ve had  stories published in English translation.

The people on stage, from left:

  • The lady hosting the panel is  / Chen Yao aka Sara Chen, who works at SF World magazine, and is one of the Worldcon division heads.
  • The guy in the black North Face polo shirt is 谢云宁 / Xie Yunning, who won the Xingyun Best Novel award in 2021, but doesn’t seem to have had anything published in English.
  • Third panelist (guy with glasses) is 阿缺 / A Que, who has had several stories published in Clarkesworld, and also one in the Sinopticon anthology.
  • The lady in the blue top is 程婧波 / Cheng Jingbo, who has also had a few stories translated into English, and has an SFE entry https://sf-encyclopedia.com/entry/cheng_jingbo
  • Fifth panelist (guy with glasses)  天瑞说符 / Tianrui Fu, webnovelist. He has a translation of one of his works available on Amazon ( https://www.amazon.co.uk/Die-Mars-Chinese-science-fiction-ebook/dp/B07YH2HXR7 ), but from a very quick skim, it doesn’t look like anyone who was a native speaker was involved in the translation.
  • Rightmost panelist: 张玉乐 / Zhang Yule, president of a university SF society

Early on, after giving an overview of what Worldcons are, and a bit of background about the Hugos, between 17:45 and 20:05, Chen Yao namechecks all the Hugo finalists that SF World has published, has scheduled to publish in the future, or employs (in the case of the editor finalists), all of which were on the recommendation list mentioned in the Scroll a couple of months ago. I’m sure none of that is an attempt to influence Hugo voters….

(5) THE GODS THEMSELVES. “Krapopolis Review: Dan Harmon Sitcom Off to Promising Start” declares Variety.

Ever since the success, demise, rebirth and extended afterlife of the NBC-turned-Yahoo sitcom “Community,” the showrunner Dan Harmon has largely avoided the strictures of network TV. With his cynical streak and meta references, Harmon’s niche sensibility was always an awkward fit for a mass audience; even when “Community” was on the air, it was perpetually on the verge of cancellation. As television expanded rapidly in the 2010s, Harmon found a more natural home in cable and streaming. Despite the departure of “Rick and Morty” co-creator and star Justin Roiland amid allegations of sexual assault, the hit show is now entering its seventh season on Adult Swim; earlier this year, Harmon helped adapt the web comic “Strange Planet” into a series for Apple TV+.

With the animated half-hour “Krapopolis,” however, Harmon makes his official return to a broadcast network. Airing on Fox, “Krapopolis” is at least guaranteed the stability “Community” never enjoyed; ahead of its premiere on Sept. 24, the show has already been renewed through Season 3. And due to the ongoing strikes, “Krapopolis” is now, by default, one of the tentpoles of its network’s fall schedule, with new live-action series postponed until further notice.

That’s a heavy load to bear for an amusing, high-concept riff on the family sitcom set in an extremely loose rendition of ancient Greece. Physically weak and intellectually arrogant, 29-year-old Tyrannis (Richard Ayoade) is a man ahead of his time, so he’s recruited his warrior sister Stupendous (Pam Brady) and scientist half-brother Hippocampus (Duncan Trussell) to help him build a modern city-state. (“He tells powerless people they’re powerful and they like that, so they give him all their power,” one citizen says of Tyrannis’ skill set.) But first, Tyrannis must persuade the skeptical, not least among them his own parents: vain goddess Deliria (Hannah Waddingham) and Shlub (Matt Berry), a manticore-like hybrid of several different creatures….

(6) SFF THAT IS UNEXPECTEDLY PREDICTIVE. Gizmodo says this is “The Summer That Reality Caught Up to Climate Fiction”.

…What once sounded outlandish, like material for a dystopian novel, is looking more and more like reality. So what is a writer of fiction supposed to do? For decades, authors have speculated what the world might look like when the climate from hell arrives. Consider American War by Omar El Akkad, set in 2074 during the outbreak of a civil war set off by a ban on fossil fuels, when Florida is erased from the map and Louisiana is half-underwater. In the six years since the book’s publication, the United States has become the most deeply polarized democracy in recent history; the intensity of heat waves and other disasters have eclipsed expectations. Earlier this year, the magazine Writer’s Digest called American War an “all-too-realistic cautionary tale.”

But El Akkad never intended it to be realistic at all. I asked him if it felt like the novel was starting to come true. “I thought that the way I had structured it was enough of an extrapolation that I wouldn’t have to deal with precisely the question you’re asking,” El Akkad told me. “And that has been obliterated in the last few years. That, to me, is terrifying.”

Extreme weather has melted the distinction between fact and fiction. As El Akkad described it, global warming doesn’t feel slow and steady; it feels more like falling down the stairs, with big drops that shake your expectations. One moment, you’re taking a nap in your house; the next, you’re running for your life from a wildfire. This year, a naturally hotter weather pattern called El Niño started setting in, adding extra heat on top of the climate change we’ve become accustomed to. July was the planet’s hottest month on record, clocking in at 1.5 degrees C (2.4 F) warmer than the preindustrial average. The disasters this summer serve as a preview of what the world could see during a typical year in the early 2030s. We no longer need authors or scientists to imagine it; real-world experience does the trick for anyone who’s paying close attention…..

(7) HWA LATINX INTERVIEW SERIES. “Latinx Heritage in Horror: Interview with Javier Loustaunau” is the latest in the Horror Writers Association blog’s series.

What inspired you to start writing?

I grew up in a house surrounded by books so there was never a moment where I did not think I was going to write, it felt like everyone must write for there to be this many books. Really, I was just impatient to grow up a little and become a better writer, somebody who did not have to lean so hard imitating other writers. One thing that helped me as a writer was when I reached out to the Marvel editorial asking for help on becoming a comic book writer and I got a response from Stan Lee (or more likely his assistant) telling me it does not matter what I write but I need to write every single day if I want to improve. So I wrote letters, I wrote reviews, I wrote poems, I translated, I journaled… but I made sure I always wrote every single day. 

(8) SIGHTS AND SOUNDS. Rebecca F. Kuang shares literary and cultural recommendations with the Guardian in: “On my radar: Rebecca F Kuang’s cultural highlights”. The second item is —

2. Fiction

Clarice Lispector’s The Hour of the Star, translated by Benjamin Moser

A few months ago, I hosted a friend from Colombia who was touring my university. After a morning walk in the cemetery, we ended up at the campus Barnes & Noble, where we picked out favourite novels for the other to read. Rather predictably, we went for the Nobel laureates – I chose for her Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day, and she chose Gabriel García Márquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera. She also included a random bonus pick – a short, translated novel by Ukrainian-born Brazilian novelist Clarice Lispector, which I enjoyed so much I have since copied out the following passage about writing in several letters to friends: “All this, yes, the story is history. But knowing beforehand so you never forget that the word is the fruit of the word, the word must resemble the word. Reaching it is my first duty to myself. And the word can’t be dressed up and artistically vain, it can only be itself. Well, it’s true that I also wanted to arrive at a sheer sensation and for it to be so sheer that it couldn’t break into a perpetual line.” The word can only be itself. Good advice for every time I sit down to write….

(9) REST IN PEACE TACO CAT. Cat Rambo shared this sad news today:

Earlier this year Taco was part of our Cats Sleep on SFF series in “Proud Pink Sky” – photo at the link.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 24, 1922 Bert Ira Gordon. He not only wrote but directed such films as Serpent IslandKing DinosaurThe Amazing Colossal ManEarth vs. the SpiderVillage of the Giants and Empire of the Ants. Aren’t those truly deliciously pulpy SF film titles?  (I need more adjectives, I truly do.) Forrest J Ackerman nicknamed him “Mr. B.I.G.” a reference to both his initials and his films’ tendency to feature super-sized creatures. (Died 2023.)
  • Born September 24, 1930 Jack Gaughan. Artist and illustrator who won the Hugo several times including once for Best Professional Artist and Best Fan Artist in the same year. Most of his work from 1970 onward was for Ace and DAW. He illustrated the covers and hand-lettered title pages for the unauthorized first paperback edition of The Lord of the Rings which Ace released in 1965. Here’s those covers he did for The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers and The Return of the King. (Died 1985.)
  • Born September 24, 1934 John Brunner. My favorite works by him? The Shockwave RiderStand on Zanzibar which won a Hugo at St. Louiscon and The Sheep Look Up. I’m also fond of The Squares of The City which was nominated for a Hugo at Tricon. What’s your favorite works by him? (Died 1995.)
  • Born September 24, 1936 Jim Henson. As much as I love The Muppet Show, and I’ve watched every show at least twice, I think The Storyteller is his best work. That’s not to overlook Labyrinth, The Witches, (yes I know it’s now considered misogynistic) The Dark Crystal and the first two Muppets films which are also excellent. (I think they really did far too many Muppets films.) (Died 1990.)
  • Born September 24, 1945 David Drake, 78. I’d say his best-known solo work was the Hammer’s Slammers series. He has also written the Royal Cinnabar Navy series which are space operas inspired by the Aubrey–Maturin novels which i be not read. Opinions please on if I should do so. He has also drafted story ideas that were then finished off by co-authors such as Karl Edward Wagner, S.M. Stirling, and Eric Flint. He’s very, very well stocked at the usual suspects. Usual suspects for those of you are curious being Apple Books, Kindle and Kobo. 
  • Born September 24, 1945 Ian Stewart, 78. Mathematician and writer. He makes the Birthday Honors for the four volumes in The Science of Discworld series he wrote with Jack Cohen and Terry Pratchett. It was nominated for a Hugo at Chicon 2000. Each of the books alternates between the usually absurd Discworld story and serious scientific exposition. (All four volumes are available from the usual suspects.) He would write a number of genre novels, none of which I’m familiar with. Anybody here read his works? 
  • Born September 24, 1957 Brad Bird, 66. Animator, director, screenwriter, producer, and occasionally even a voice actor whom I’m going to praise for directing The Iron Giant (nominated for a Hugo at Chicon 2000), The Incredibles (winner of Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form at Interaction), Incredibles 2 and Tomorrowland. He’s the voice of Edna Mode in both the Incredibles films, a most excellent role indeed. 
  • Born September 24, 1965 Richard K. Morgan, 58. The Takeshi Kovacs novels are an awesome series that I’ve read at least twice which are why I haven’t watched the Netflix series. His fantasy series, A Land Fit For Heroes, is still on my TBR To Be Listened To pile. I read the first of the Black Man series and will admit that I was far from impressed. 

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • Bizarro is kind of a police procedural. Sort of.
  • Brewster Rockit is a didactic strip about the OSIRIS-Rex mission, with a surprise twist at the end.
  • Tom Gauld reveals another benefit of reading.
  • And Tom Gauld knows something about co-workers’ social lives.

(12) SHRINKING COMICS SECTION. Cartoonist Dave Kellett on X reports Gannett Newspapers is cost-cutting and has limited ALL its 200 papers to just these 34 comics.

The Daily Cartoonist has a list of “The Gannett 34”.

The USA TODAY Network/Gannett group has released a list of the selected 34 comic strips and panels that local editors and publishers will* choose from to run in their newspapers – not all will run in all (any?) of the papers.

The chosen strips and panels:

Group 1: Blondie, Zits, Beetle Bailey, Family Circus, Hagar the Horrible, Dennis the Menace

Group 2: Garfield, Peanuts, For Better or Worse, Baby Blues, Pickles, FoxTrot

Group 3: Pearls Before Swine, Jump Start, Ziggy, Marmaduke, Non Sequitur, Crabgrass

Group 4 Crankshaft, Luann, Baldo, Frank & Ernest, The Born Loser   

Group 5: B.C., Wizard of Id, Close to Home, Argyle Sweater, Mother Goose, Rose is Rose

Group 6: Hi & Lois, Mutts, Curtis, Shoe, The Lockhorns

(13) DRAGONSLAYER. On the “DARK DISNEY – Part 1: Dragonslayer (1981)” episode of Erik Hanson’s Cradle to the Grave podcast the host is joined by guests Clay McLeod Chapman, Junot Diaz, and Stephen Bissette.

Have you ever wanted to see a Disney movie where the Princess gets her foot chewed off by a baby dragon? Well, look no further, Dragonslayer has you covered! Here to chat about said foot-chewing are 3 of the biggest Dragonslayer fans I could find: Author Clay McLeod Chapman, Author Junot Diaz, and comic book writer / artist Stephen Bissette. Together we dive deep into the era known as “Dark Disney” and come to the realization that Disney has ALWAYS BEEN DARK!

(14) I COULD HAVE HAD A V-2.  The National Air and Space Museum blog article “Restoring the Museum’s V-2 Missile” goes into fascinating detail about the history of the components in the museum’s V-2, and the painstaking research to explain which of the paint jobs applied over the years might be the most historically accurate.

One of the icons of the Museum’s location on the National Mall has been the black-and-white German V-2 ballistic missile. Ever since the building opened in July 1976, it stood in Space Hall, which in 1997 was revised to become Space Race. That rocket, currently off display, will return in a new guise, with green camouflage paint, when the hall reopens in a few years as RTX Living in the Space Age….

In a parallel project, Duane Decker of the Preservation and Restoration Unit redid the V-2 launch stand, which is original German mobile launch equipment transferred by NASA Marshall in 1975. Painted black, it was used to support the missile in Space Hall/Space Race. When he stripped it, he found no original paint. I consulted with Tracy Dungan, who supplied 1944 images that showed German stands painted in “dark yellow,” the late-war Wehrmacht vehicle camouflage. Duane painted ours in that color and it will once again support the rocket when it goes back on display in RTX Living in the Space Age. 

This time the stand and rocket will be on top of a pedestal in the Missile Pit, the hole in the center of the gallery floor that allows taller rockets to fit under the roof. Lifted up to floor level, visitors will be able to see the stand and the rocket much as they would have looked during the V-2 campaign of 1944-1945. I very much look forward to the day when we again assemble and mount this important and deadly icon of the missile and space age.

The Museum’s V-2 rocket in the Space Race exhibition in 2006.

(15) SUCCESSION. The Guardian says “Studio Ghibli to be acquired by Nippon TV after struggle to find a successor to Miyazaki”.

Weeks after the celebrated Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki made his long-awaited comeback, the studio he founded almost four decades ago has secured its long-term future, easing concerns over its struggle to find a successor.

Studio Ghibli said this week that the company would be acquired by the private broadcaster, Nippon TV, which promised to continue building on Ghibli’s global success.

Miyazaki – widely considered to be one of the world’s greatest animators – founded Studio Ghibli in 1985, leading it to a string of successes, including an Oscar in 2003 for Spirited Away.

The studio built a loyal following around the world with films like My Neighbor Totoro and Princess Mononoke, while Miyazaki was nominated for two further Academy Awards – for Howl’s Moving Castle in 2006 and The Wind Rises in 2014 – the same year he was chosen to receive an honorary Oscar.

The agreement with Nippon TV, which will become Ghibli’s biggest shareholder, came after Miyazaki, 82, and its president, 75-year-old Toshio Suzuki, failed to persuade Miyazaki’s son to take over the running of the studio….

(16) HONEY, I’M HOME. “In a first, NASA returns asteroid samples to Earth”NBC News has the story.

A capsule containing precious samples from an asteroid landed safely on Earth on Sunday, the culmination of a roughly 4-billion-mile journey over the past seven years.

The asteroid samples were collected by NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft, which flew by Earth early Sunday morning and jettisoned the capsule over a designated landing zone in the Utah desert. The unofficial touchdown time was 8:52 a.m. MT, 3 minutes ahead of the predicted landing time.

The dramatic event — which the NASA livestream narrator described as “opening a time capsule to our ancient solar system” — marked a major milestone for the United States: The collected rocks and soil were NASA’s first samples brought back to Earth from an asteroid. Experts have said the bounty could help scientists unlock secrets about the solar system and how it came to be, including how life emerged on this planet….

And — “NASA collected a sample from an asteroid for the first time — here’s why it matters”The Verge will be happy to explain.

(17) A PART OF ONE PIECE. Gizmodo thinks “Jamie Lee Curtis May Have Achieved Her Dream of Being in One Piece” based on this Instagram.

(18) ANIME EXPLORATIONS. The prospect of Jamie Lee Curtis being cast in One Piece is also one of several topics taken up in episode 12 of the Anime Explorations Podcast, “Shirobako”. Another is Anime industry figures referenced in Shirobako. And Vampire Hunter D.

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

Pixel Scroll 7/28/23 I’m Sure Painting Pixels The Color Of Stars Was Considered A Good Idea

(1) KUANG CONSIDERS ONLINE BOOK COMMUNITIES. “I don’t choose books based on the aggregate rating as if they are skincare products, nor do I think any critical verdict is the final one,” Rebecca F. Kuang tells Guardian readers in “Goodreads is right to divide opinions, wrong to boil them down”.

…Which brings us to what has been dubbed “review-bombing” by the New York Times – that is, critical pile-ons that can derail a book before it releases. Frankly, authors have been sighing and shrugging about this for years. It’s unclear whether Goodreads can make any meaningful fixes, or whether they have any incentive to. Authors have limited options – it rarely ends well when authors barge into spaces meant for readers. So the duty is left to readers to think carefully about how we write and engage with reviews. I am certainly a naive idealist here, but I retain this faith we could wrestle with online toxicity by taking our own arguments seriously before we post them. What purpose does our outrage serve? Who benefits if this book tanks? Who is making claims about this book? What passages do they cite? Do we agree with their interpretation? Are those passages represented in good faith, or are they plucked out of context? For that matter, how many people leaving these reviews have actually read the book?…

(2) DIRDA AT READERCON. [Item by Evelyn C. Leeper.] Michael Dirda, a mainstream reviewer who is also an unabashed science fiction fan, published his Readercon Report in last Thursday’s Washington Post: “At Readercon, print is still king — and thank goodness for that”.

…As its name implies, Readercon focuses on books. Nowadays, many science fiction conventions — not just San Diego Comic-Con and its offshoots — emphasize what one might call spectacle: blockbuster films, television series, video games, cosplay. But at Readercon, print is still king. At the entrance to the booksellers’ room, a little table displayed a memorial photograph of David Hartwell, the most important science fiction book editor of the past 50 years, who died in 2016. It bore the legend “Hero of Readercon.”…

…I also caught up with Gil Roth, literary podcaster and interviewer extraordinaire (check out “The Virtual Memories Show” and his zine, “Haiku for Business Travelers”), and short-story writer Eileen Gunn, who in her earlier years was director of advertising at Microsoft — one of her best-known stories is the appropriately wry “Stable Strategies for Middle Management.” At various times, I bumped into horror writer Scott Edelman, who in his youth worked at Marvel Comics, and exchanged greetings with Paul Witcover, author of that provocative mash-up “Lincolnstein,” and Neil Clarke, editor of the magazine Clarkesworld. During a Saturday night mixer called “Meet the Pros,” I gratefully sipped a gin and tonic with the distinguished anthologist Ellen Datlow and met a dozen young writers….

…My lively Machen panel was moderated by the eminent antiquarian book dealer Henry Wessells and comprised Michael Cisco, a professor at the City College of New York and author of “Weird Fiction: A Genre Study”; the fantasy artist known as The Joey Zone; Hand and me. On the Verne panel, I sat next to Sarah Smith, a novelist and pioneer of hypertext (“King of Space”) who has spearheaded the recovery of my late friend Thomas M. Disch’s long-lost computer game “Amnesia” and brought out its full text and programming notes in the book “Total ‘Amnesia.’”…

(3) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites listeners to bite into baklava with Charlie Jane Anders in Episode 203 of his Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Charlie Jane Anders

My guest this time around is Charlie Jane Anders, who’s won the Hugo, Nebula, Sturgeon, Lambda Literary, Crawford and Locus Awards. The final volume of her Unstoppable trilogy, Promises Stronger Than Darkness (the first two were Victories Greater Than Death and Dreams Bigger Than Heartbreak), was published just shortly before our chat. Her 2016 novel, All the Birds in the Sky, won the Nebula, Locus and Crawford awards. Other books include the Locus Award-winning short story collection Even Greater Mistakes, and the Hugo Award-winning And Never Say You Can’t Survive, about how to use creative writing to get through hard times. Her novelette “Six Months, Three Days” won a Hugo Award, and her short story “Don’t Press Charges and I Won’t Sue” won a Theodore Sturgeon Award.

Charlie Jane is also the co-creator of the transgender mutant hero Escapade, who was introduced in Marvel Voices: Pride 2022, and has been appearing in the long-running comic New Mutants, with Charlie Jane writing. She was a founding editor of io9.com, a blog about science fiction and futurism, and went on to become its editor-in-chief. With former guest of this podcast Annalee Newitz, Charlie Jane co-hosts a podcast about the meaning of science fiction called Our Opinions Are Correct.

We discussed how her childhood fantasy of aliens whisking her away from Earth gave birth to her Unstoppable trilogy, the way writing a YA meant she had to completely change the way she writes, the challenges of bringing a large cast of characters to life while giving them their own inner lives, why she has problems with Clarke’s Third Law but was willing to roll with it for her new trilogy, the difficulties of still being at work on the third book of a trilogy when the first was already in the hands of readers, how growing as a writer means embracing the messiness of the process, her reaction to being called “this generation’s Le Guin,” what she had to learn to be able to write comics, and so much more.

(4) IN THE PINK. Leonard Maltin’s Movie Crazy reviews this summer’s blockbuster in “Barbie: It’s About Time”.

…America Ferrera plays the human whose disaffection for Barbie sets the story in motion, and she gets to deliver a remarkable screed about woman’s role(s) in society that I suspect will be excerpted and quoted for years to come. Ariana Greenblatt is very good as her sullen adolescent daughter.

When I became a father I searched for movies that would show my daughter positive role models, and it was tough going. Barbie makes up for lost time and should warm the hearts of parents and daughters alike—even if the girls don’t get every gag or reference in the script….

(5) LEARNEDLEAGUE. [Item by David Goldfarb.] The One-Day Special quiz on Iain M. Banks’ Culture novels is now over: you can see the questions here. There was also a quiz on comic books, which tend to be at least genre-adjacent: Just Images Comic Book Covers.

(6) MEDIA DEATH CULT. Moid Moidelhoff interviews Tim Powers on writing, researching and being friends with Philip K. Dick.

(7) HEAR FROM RAY NAYLER. Alan Bailey and Cat Rambo interviewed Ray Nayler for the If This Goes On (Don’t Panic) podcast.

In this episode, Alan and Cat talk with author Ray Nayler about his novel the Mountain in the Sea, Secular Buddhism, animal behavior, interconnectedness, AI, and much more.

(8) EMMY AWARDS BROADCAST BEING RESCHEDULED. “Emmy Awards Will Be Postponed Because of Actors’ and Writers’ Strikes” reports the New York Times.

The fallout from the Hollywood actors’ and writers’ strikes continues.

The 75th Emmy Awards will be postponed because of the strikes, according to a person briefed on the plans. The ceremony, originally planned for Sept. 18, does not yet have a new date but will most likely be moved to January, the person said.

Emmy organizers are hopeful that would give the Hollywood studios enough time to settle the labor disputes. A new date will be finalized in the next few weeks….

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 28, 1866 Beatrix Potter. Probably best known for Tales of Peter Rabbit but I’d submit her gardening skills were second to none as well as can be seen in the Green Man review of Marta McDowell’s Beatrix Potter’s A Gardening Life.(Died 1943.)
  • Born July 28, 1926 T. G. L. Cockcroft. Genre bibliographer of some note such as The Tales of Clark Ashton Smith, and despite being resident in New Zealand, he was a prolific fanzine contributor and kept in contact with fandom everywhere from an early age. None of his works are currently in-print.  Mike has an excellent look at him here. (Died 2013.)
  • Born July 28, 1928 Angélica Gorodischer. Argentinian writer whose Kalpa Imperial: The Greatest Empire That Never Was got translated by Ursula Le Guin into English. Likewise Prodigies has been translated by Sue Burke for Small Beer Press. She won a World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement. You can read Lightspeed Magazine’s interview with her here. (Died 2022.)
  • Born July 28, 1931 Jay Kay Klein. I’ll direct you to Mike’s excellent look at him here. I will note that he was a published author having “On Conquered Earth” in If, December 1967 as edited by Frederik Pohl. I don’t think it’s been republished since. (Died 2012.)
  • Born July 28, 1941 Bill Crider. Primarily a writer of mystery fiction, his extensive bibliography includes three stories in the Sherlock Holmes metaverse: “The Adventure of the Venomous Lizard”, “The Adventure of the St. Marylebone Ghoul” and “The Case of the Vanished Vampire”. He also wrote a Sookie Stackhouse short story, “Don’t Be Cruel” in the Charlaine Harris Metaverse. His “Doesn’t Matter Any Matter More” short story won a Sidewise Awards for Alternate History and his “Mike Gonzo and the UFO Terror” won a Golden Duck Award. (Died 2018.)
  • Born July 28, 1966 Larry Dixon, 57. Husband of Mercedes Lackey who collaborates with her on such series as SERRAted Edge and The Mage Wars Trilogy. He contributed artwork to Wizards of the Coast’s Dungeons & Dragons source books, including Oriental AdventuresEpic Level Handbook, and Fiend Folio. Dixon and Lackey are the CoNZealand’s Author Guests of Honour.
  • Born July 28, 1969 Tim Lebbon, 54. For my money his best series is The Hidden Cities one he did with Christopher Golden though his Relics series with protagonist Angela Gough is quite superb as well. He dips into the Hellboy universe with two novels, Unnatural Selection and Fire Wolves, rather capably.

(10) HOWARD THE DUCK TURNS 50. In November, Marvel will host a birthday blowout for Howard the Duck.

Howard the Duck’s 50th anniversary one-shot will be a giant-sized spectacle that will reunite writer Chip Zdarsky and artist Joe Quinones, the sensational creative team behind Howard’s smash hit and critically acclaimed 2015 ongoing series. …This collection of all-new tales will tackle all the different paths Howard could’ve taken during his offbeat adventures, and pose fascinating questions for this furious fowl’s future! 

 Meet Howard. He’s a hard-boiled P.I. with problems by the duckload. But a cosmic, all-seeing friend(?) known as the Peeper(!) is giving him a chance to see what his life COULD be! The joys he COULD have! All the ways his life COULD suck way less than it does now! In other words: “Whaugh If?”

 Here’s some of the craziness that readers can look forward to:

 Emmy-nominated writer and comedian Daniel Kibblesmith and acclaimed artist Annie Wu put Howard in the Oval Office! Inspired by a classic tale from Steve Gerber and Gene Colan’s 70s’ run, Howard the Duck has been sworn in as President. Find out if how gutsy he is as Commander in Chief when the Earth is invaded by aliens in this startling political satire!

Popular video game designer and writer Merritt K makes her Marvel Comics debut alongside artist Will Robson with a cosmic comedy that sees Howard the Duck leaving the chaos of Earth behind to take over as leader of the Guardians of the Galaxy! Playing Star-Lord is all fun and games for Howard until some of his most iconic classic villains band together to take him out once and for all!

For more information, visit Marvel.com.

(11) RUH-ROH! “Scooby-Doo! and Krypto, Too Release Date Announced”Comicbook.com knows when it is.

Almost a year after a data breach revealed plans for a Scooby-Doo! original movie featuring Krypto the Super-Dog, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment has officially announced Scooby-Doo! and Krypto, Too!, a direct-to-home release that will be available in September on Digital, as well as on DVD at Walmart stores in the U.S. The cast list does not immediately reference the Legion of Super-Heroes, who were spotted in screenshots in the 2022 leak, but it seems likely this is the same film. That movie, reportedly titled Scooby-Doo! Meets Krypto, appeared to use character designs from the 2006-2007 Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes show.

Confirmed to appear in Scooby-Doo! and Krypto, Too! are Superman, Lex Luthor, Lois Lane, Mercy Graves, Joker, Harley Quinn, Solmon Grundy, and Wonder Woman. Tara Strong, who became famous for playing Harley Quinn, will return to the role for the movie.

… The movie will be available in the US to purchase Digitally at retailers everywhere, and on DVD only at Walmart on September 26, 2023 …

(12) BETTER THAN LINEN? “Energy-efficient fabric helps wearers beat heat waves and cold snaps”Physics World has the story.

A new thermoregulating textile keeps its wearers comfortable with a minimal amount of energy input thanks to a conductive polymer that can be modified to adjust how much infrared radiation it sheds. According to the textile’s developers at the University of Chicago, North Carolina State University and Duke University (all in the US), the new “wearable variable-emittance device”, or WeaVE, could be used to make next-generation smart thermal management fabrics.

Many animals are good at manipulating infrared (IR) radiation to heat themselves up and cool themselves down. Saharan silver ants, for example, dissipate excess heat thanks to triangular hairs on their bodies that reflect differing amounts of near-IR rays depending on the position of the Sun. Human bodies, in contrast, absorb and lose heat mainly through IR radiation with a wavelength of 10 microns, and our skin is not capable of controlling this wavelength range in real time to help us regulate body temperature. Researchers  are therefore developing textiles that can do this for us….

(13) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Daniel Dern spotted this parody, “Harry Potter But A Barbie Trailer (Barbie Potter)” from SynthCinemaX.

Our new trailer “Harry Potter But A Barbie” (Barbie Potter)! In this amazing fantasy video, you’ll get to see familiar wizards from the world of Harry Potter in unexpected roles. Imagine Robert Downey Jr. as Albus Dumbledore, Ryan Gosling as Ron Weasley, Emma Watson as Hermione Granger, and, of course, Daniel Radcliffe returning as Harry Potter!

And also “Star Wars directed by Guy Ritchie”, put together with an assist from Midjourney.

(14) VIDEO OF OTHER DAYS. Somtow Sucharitkul reminded readers today they can see a video of his appearance on SF Vortex in the Nineties discussing Dracula with Dr J Gordon Melton and Norine Dresser.

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

Pixel Scroll 5/20/23 I’m Not A Doctor, But People Are Saying Pixels Are A Perfect Cure For Social Isolation

(1) RIC BERGMAN UPDATE. [Item by Chris Barkley.] As of this past Tuesday, the Cincinnati Police Department and the Hamilton County Coroner’s Office were unable to locate any of the late Ric Bergman’s relatives. If no one had been found, Ric’s body would be processed and buried in a pauper’s area of a local cemetery.

I say would have been, had I not been very attentive Wednesday morning.

At just a little before 10:00 a.m, I received a message on Twitter from a fan named Paul Hattori. Mr. Hattori stated that he had read the tribute I wrote and was moved to contact me.

He provided the names and phone numbers of several relatives who live locally, including a sister, Beth Kelley.

I relayed all of this to my fellow CFG member Tanya Carter (who had been in contact with local authorities), who in turn contacted the family members.

The relatives quickly swung into action and forestalled any further action by Hamilton County. 

This past Thursday, Beth Kelley professed her thanks to the CFG for notifying the family members and wrote the following in the CFG Facebook page:

“Hi everyone, I’m Ric Bergman’s sister. Thanks so much for getting in touch with us. I should be getting access to his apartment sometime today.  I was thinking of having prayer cards made for him, but I want to do something that really says “Ric Bergman” … Please feel free to contact me. I’ll keep you all posted as I know more.  Thanks for being there for him.

If anyone is interested I was thinking about having a get together a little later in the summer.  He’s going to at least partially get his viking funeral!!   There’s a small park in Covedale I was going to rent for a day.  Also there are soooooooo many books and movies. I’ll try to get pictures of them today and tomorrow while we’re packing up his belongings. I will be selling a lot of that stuff to help pay for this….

Please let me know what you guys think and if anyone would like to attend.  Thanks again!”

(2) MARCHING TO A DIFFERENT DRUMMER. Meanwhile, in the Guardian “M John Harrison: ‘I want to be the first human to imitate ChatGPT’”.

How do you feel about the emergence of AI?
I’d separate the thing itself from the boosterism around it. We’re at a familiar point on the curve when it comes to the overenthusiastic selling of new scientific ideas, where one discovery or tech variant is going to solve all our problems. I’d say wait and see. Meanwhile I’ll be plotting to outwrite it; I want to be the first human being to imitate ChatGPT perfectly. I bet you it’s already got mimickable traits.

(3) FREE ONLINE POE READING. The Baltimore Sun tells about a marathon Poe reading that’s in progress NOW. “In Fells Point, reading Edgar Allan Poe through the night for ‘Doomsday’ is ‘quirky, like Baltimore’”. The article is behind a paywall, but the reading can be viewed free on YouTube.

If you stumble through Fells Point late enough Saturday (or early enough the next day), swing by the independent bookstore on the corner of Aliceanna and South Ann streets, and peer into the window, you’ll catch a glimpse of something strange: a group of people reading aloud while the city sleeps.

Don’t be spooked — they’ll be celebrating “Doomsday,” an annual event started last year by Baltimore’s National Edgar Allan Poe Theatre. This year, the 24-hour Poe-themed read-a-thon will be co-hosted at Greedy Reads’ Fells Point shop. Enoch Pratt Free Library is also a partner in the event.

“It’s quirky, like Baltimore is,” said Alex Zavistovich, the founder and artistic director of The National Edgar Allan Poe Theatre.

Zavistovich started “Doomsday” last summer as a locally oriented take on “Bloomsday,” an international celebration of the Irish writer James Joyce’s “Ulysses.”

“Why focus on an inscrutable Irish writer when we have a perfectly inscrutable American writer, right here in Baltimore?” said Zavistovich, 62….

…Local celebrities, including Maryland State Del. Mark Edelson, WYPR host Tom Hall and Baltimore-based authors Brandi Collins-Dexter, Sarah Pinsker, Jeannie Vanasco and Jung Yun, are slated to participate….

(4) VERY BAD NO GOOD. Walter Jon Williams calls his visit to Malta the “Worst. Trip. Ever.” After you read the medical problems that beset him and his wife Kathy when they got to the island, you won’t disagree.

(5) KUANG Q&A. “Rebecca F Kuang: ‘Who has the right to tell a story? It’s the wrong question to ask’” in the Guardian.

… Yellowface’s protagonist, who describes herself as a boring “brown-eyed, brown-haired June Hayward from Philly”, is viciously jealous of fellow writer Athena Liu, a “beautiful, Yale-educated, international, ambiguously queer woman of colour”, whose education in British boarding schools equips her with “a posh, unplaceable foreign accent”. “Publishing picks a winner,” June thinks; Athena, with her string of bestsellers, is the anointed one. After Athena suddenly dies, June discovers a manuscript she had been working on, about the 95,000-strong Chinese Labour Corps who supported Britain in the first world war. It’s intimidatingly good. When June polishes it up and passes it off as her own, the book shoots her to literary stardom.

Reviewers then debate June’s right to tell the story, echoing familiar conversations on whether authors should write about characters and histories outside their own race or lived experiences. In Yellowface, that initial query spirals into increasingly outlandish backlashes, and everything that was once coherent and proportionate disappears under a mountain of tweets. Kuang’s view, however, is clearer. “I really do not like this framework,” she says. Concerns about “who has permission to tell these stories, or who has the right, or who is qualified” seem like “the wrong questions to ask”.

“We’re storytellers, and the point of storytelling is, among other things, to imagine outside of your lived experience and empathise with people who are not you, and to ideally write truthfully, and with compassion, a whole range of characters,” she continues. “Otherwise all we could ever publish are memoirs and autobiographies and nobody wants that.” For her, more interesting is how authors approach these stories: “Are they engaging critically with tropes and stereotypes that already exist in the genre? Or are they just replicating them? What is their relationship to the people who are being represented?” And, “most importantly, does the work do something interesting? Is it good?” While some concerns about the “permission to speak” come from desires to support underrepresented authors, Kuang thinks it “usually gets wielded as a double-edged sword against marginalised writers, to pigeonhole them into only writing about their marginalised experiences. And I hate this. It really functions as another form of gatekeeping.”

(6) CLASSIC FILK MANUAL. Fanac.org has added the 2001 combined edition of Bruce Pelz’s Filksong Manual.  Originally published in 4 parts, the combined edition is 101 pages long. Cover by Stu Shiffman.

This index is intended to be ordered chronologically, but I’ve listed this right after the original publication of part 2. If you’ve wanted to find the words to the Gilbert and Sullivan parodies, or “The Childish Edda”, here’s your chance. There are songs by Poul Anderson, Randall Garrett, Tom Digby, Ted Johnstone, and of course, Bruce Pelz. Plus many others. The original publications were in 1965-1969, and some of the songs are considerably older. “Think of the Old Tacky Stuff as Of Historical Interest. To Someone. Somewhere. Somewhen. And blame the appearance of this revision/reprinting -three years after I started it — on Lee Gold.”

(7) MEMORY LANE.

1980[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

So let’s talk about Walter S. Tevis whose Mockingbird is the source of our Beginning this Scroll. Tevis wrote not only The Man Who Fell to Earth which is definitely genre and I think has had at least two film versions so far, along with the near future SF novel The Steps of the Sun but also the delicious chess novel The Queen’s Gambit which also became a film of some distinction.

This novel was published by Doubleday in 1980. The cover illustration is by Fred Marcellino. 

It was nominated for both the Ditmar and Nebula Awards. 

And now for our Beginning…

Spofforth

Walking up Fifth Avenue at midnight, Spofforth begins to whistle. He does not know the name of the tune nor does he care to know; it is a complicated tune, one he whistles often when alone. He is naked to the waist and barefoot, dressed only in khaki trousers; he can feel the worn old paving beneath his feet. Although he walks up the middle of the broad avenue he can see patches of grass and tall weeds on either side of him where the sidewalk has long before been cracked and broken away, awaiting repairs that will never be made. From these patches Spofforth hears a chorus of diverse clickings and wing rubbings of insects. The sounds make him uneasy, as they always do this time of year, in spring. He puts his big hands into his trouser pockets. Then, uncomfortable, he takes them out again and begins to jog, huge and light-footed, athletic, up toward the massive form of the Empire State Building. 

The doorway to the building had eyes and a voice; its brain was the brain of a moron—single-minded and insensitive. ‘Closed for repairs,’ the voice said to Spofforth as he approached.

‘Shut up and open,’ Spofforth said. 

And then, ‘I am Robert Spofforth. Make Nine.’ 

‘Sorry, sir,’ the door said. ‘Couldn’t see…’ ‘Yes. 

Open up. And tell the express elevator to be down for me.’ 

The door was silent for a moment. 

Then it said, ‘Elevator’s not working, sir.’ ‘Shit,’ Spofforth said. 

And then, ‘I’ll walk up.’

The door opened and Spofforth walked in and headed across the dark lobby toward the stairway. He muted the pain circuits in his legs and lungs, and began to climb. He was no longer whistling; his elaborate mind had become fixed narrowly now upon his annual intent. 

When he reached the edge of the platform, as high above the city as one could stand, Spofforth sent the command to the nerves in his legs and the pain surged into them. He wobbled slightly from it, high and alone in the black night, with no moon above him and the stars dim. The surface underfoot was smooth, polished; once years before Spofforth had almost slipped. Immediately he had thought, in disappointment, If only that would happen again, at the edge. But it did not.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born May 20, 1911 Gardner F. Fox. Writer for DC comics and other companies as well. He was prolific enough that historians of the field estimate he wrote more than four thousand comics stories, including 1,500 for just DC Comics. For DC, He created The Flash, Adam Strange and The Atom, plus the Justice Society of America. His first SF novel was Escape Across the Cosmos though he wrote a tie-in novel, Jules Verne’s Five Weeks in a Balloon, previously. (Died 1986.)
  • Born May 20, 1928 Shirley Rousseau Murphy, 95. Author of the Joe Grey series of mysteries. Its narrator is a feline who speaks and who solves mysteries which is definitely genre. Excellent series which gets better in characterization as it goes along. And the audiobooks as narrated by Susan Boyce are a great deal of fun listening. She also did some more traditional genre fiction, none of which I’ve read in the Children of Ynell series and the Dragonbard trilogy. 
  • Born May 20, 1936 Anthony Zerbe, 87. Zerbe played the major role of Matthias, the news anchor turned mutant albino cult leader determined to kill Charlton Heston’s Richard Neville in The Omega Man, the loosely-adapated 1971 film version of Richard Matheson’s novel, I Am Legend. He  was the villain Milton Krest in the Licence to Kill bond film;  Roger Stuart in Steven King’s The Dead Zone; Admiral Dougherty in Star Trek: Insurrection; and Councillor Hamann in The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions. Series wise, he showed up on the Wild, Wild West and five episodes of Mission: Impossible as five different characters, he was Dr. Charles Napier on the Asteroid series on NBC in 1997 that I never heard of. 
  • Born May 20, 1940 Joan Staley. She showed up twice as Okie Annie on Batman in “It’s How You Play the Game” and “Come Back, Shame“. She played Ginny in Mission Impossible’s two-parter, “The Council”, and she was in Prehistoric Valley (Dinosaurs! Caveman! Playboy mates in bikinis!) She also played Fiona in Brigadoon which has to be genre, isn’t it? (Died 2019.)
  • Born May 20, 1946 Cher, 77. Yes she was Alexandra Medford in The Witches of Eastwick, a film that I absolutely love and adore, (and no I’ve not read the novel) which is really her only genre credit. She did appear as Romana on The Man from U.N.C.L.E. in “The Hot Number Affair” and she’s voicing herself in The New Scooby-Doo Movies which despite the name was actually a series, but that’s it. 
  • Born May 20, 1951 Steve Jackson, 72. The UK game designer (not to be confused with the owner of Steve Jackson Games). With Ian Livingstone, he founded Games Workshop and also the Fighting Fantasy gamebooks, the two most dominant aspects of the UK games industry before it came to be essentially wiped by the advent of videogames. I’m fairly sure the only one of his works that I’ve played is Starship Traveller which I’d have been playing around the same time as Traveller.
  • Born May 20, 1961 Owen Teale, 62. Best known role is as Alliser Thorne on the just-concluded Game of Thrones. He also was Will Scarlet in the superb Robin Hood where the lead role was performed by Patrick Bergin, he played the theologian Pelagius in 2004 King Arthur, was Vatrenus in yet another riff on Arthurian myth called The Last Legion, was Maldak in the “Vengeance on Varos” episode in the Era of the Sixth Doctor, and was Evan Sherman in the “Countrycide” episode of Torchwood. He’s currently playing Peter Knox in A Discovery of Witches based on the All Souls trilogy by Deborah Harkness, named after the first book in the trilogy. I read most if not all of that series and it’s quite excellent. Keeping with my firm belief of never watching a series based on fiction that I really, really liked, I have not seen the series. 

(9) IN A HOLE IN THE GROUND. Space.com’s review says “’Crater’ on Disney Plus offers kids out-of-this-world charm”.

NASA’s Artemis program is stirring up renewed interest in lunar exploration, and retro-style coming-of-age flicks from Hollywood are proving to be very popular with audiences and viewers.

So Disney Plus has decided to merge those two elements for its new kid-friendly sci-fi film, “Crater.”

Directed by Kyle Patrick Alvarez (“C.O.G.”), “Crater” unfolds its gripping tale of five adventurous kids in the year 2257 living at a protected mining colony on the surface of the moon who steal a research rover and embark on a wild overland romp to explore a notorious crater….

(10) ROGER CORMAN APPEARANCE IN LA. Fans will have an opportunity to meet Roger Corman at Chris Alexander’s book signing on June 10.

Canadian writer, editor, music composer and filmmaker Chris Alexander (former editor-in-chief of iconic horror film magazine FANGORIA and editor-in-chief/co-founder of DELIRIUM magazine), and legendary American film director, producer and actor Roger Corman are meeting in Los Angeles on Saturday, June 10th for a signing of CORMAN/POE: Interviews and Essays Exploring the Making of Roger Corman’s Edgar Allan Poe Films, 1960–1964. The book will hit shelves June 6th.

Written by author and filmmaker Chris AlexanderCORMAN/POE: Interviews and Essays Exploring the Making of Roger Corman’s Edgar Allan Poe Films, 1960–1964 is the only book to fully examine this important chapter in horror film history. In-depth conversations with the maverick Roger Corman are book-ended by engaging critical analyses of each of the eight films, which together stand as a fully realized and consistent creative vision.

WHEN: Saturday, June 10th, 3pm – 5pm PST

WHERE: Dark Delicacies, 822 N Hollywood Way, Burbank, CA 91505

(11) NEW FAMILY TRADITION. “Orcas have sunk 3 boats in Europe and appear to be teaching others to do the same. But why?” Can Live Science really not guess the answer?

Orcas have attacked and sunk a third boat off the Iberian coast of Europe, and experts now believe the behavior is being copied by the rest of the population.

Three orcas (Orcinus orca), also known as killer whales, struck the yacht on the night of May 4 in the Strait of Gibraltar, off the coast of Spain, and pierced the rudder. “There were two smaller and one larger orca,” skipper Werner Schaufelberger told the German publication Yacht. “The little ones shook the rudder at the back while the big one repeatedly backed up and rammed the ship with full force from the side.” 

Schaufelberger said he saw the smaller orcas imitate the larger one. “The two little orcas observed the bigger one’s technique and, with a slight run-up, they too slammed into the boat.” Spanish coast guards rescued the crew and towed the boat to Barbate, but it sank at the port entrance.

Two days earlier, a pod of six orcas assailed another sailboat navigating the strait. Greg Blackburn, who was aboard the vessel, looked on as a mother orca appeared to teach her calf how to charge into the rudder. “It was definitely some form of education, teaching going on,” Blackburn told 9news.

Reports of aggressive encounters with orcas off the Iberian coast began in May 2020 and are becoming more frequent, according to a study published June 2022 in the journal Marine Mammal Science. Assaults seem to be mainly directed at sailing boats and follow a clear pattern, with orcas approaching from the stern to strike the rudder, then losing interest once they have successfully stopped the boat.

(12) HUNGRY ALIENS. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Over at Science and Futurism Isaac Arthur is more SFnal than usual with a second genre-related posting, this time on hungry aliens and another possible answer to the Fermi Paradox…

The galaxy is a dark, mysterious, and silent place – perhaps it is quiet and empty because some great predator already consumed all in its path, and if so, might we be next?

(13) LEAVING A BIG WAKE. PBS Space Time host Matt O’Dowd has been wondering whether we can detect alien space craft’s gravitational wake… “Could LIGO Find MASSIVE Alien Spaceships?”

Whenever we open a new window on the universe, we discover things that no one expected. Our newfound ability to measure ripples in the fabric of spacetime—gravitational waves—is a very new window, and so far we’ve seen a lot of wild stuff. We’ve observed black holes colliding, and their oddly high masses challenges our understanding of black hole formation and growth. We’ve seen colliding neutron stars that have forced us to rewrite our ideas of how many of the elements of the periodic table get made. But what else might be hiding in the ripples’ of spacetime? Oh, I know: how about the gravitational wakes caused by planet-sized alien spacecraft accelerating to near light speed….

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

Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2023 ToC Released

Series editor John Joseph Adams and guest editor R. F. Kuang have released their selections for the Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2023.

From the large number of stories that series editor John Joseph Adams screened for this year’s collection, he picked the 80 best pieces (forty science fiction and forty fantasy) to submit to editor R. F. Kuang for a blind reading, so that the prestige of the venues or author bylines were not a factor. (The ones Adams designated as notable are shown in a table at the link). Kuang then selected 20 for publication (ten science fiction, ten fantasy.)

The book will be released on October 17, 2023.

Here is the Table of Contents with the 20 stories they thought the best.

FANTASY

  • Readings in the Slantwise Sciences by Sofia Samatar
    from Conjunctions
  • Beginnings by Kristina Ten
    from Fantasy
  • The Six Deaths of the Saint by Alix E. Harrow
    from Into Shadow
  • Men, Women, and Chainsaws by Stephen Graham Jones
    from Tor.com
  • There Are No Monsters on Rancho Buenavista by Isabel Canas
    from Nightmare
  • White Water, Blue Ocean by Linda Raquel Nieves Pérez
    from Reclaim the Stars
  • Three Mothers Mountain by Nathan Ballingrud
    from Screams from the Dark
  • Pellargonia: A Letter to the Journal of Imaginary Anthropology by Theodora Goss
    from Lost Worlds & Mythological Kingdoms
  • In The Beginning of Me I Was A Bird by Maria Dong
    from Lightspeed
  • Folk Hero Motifs in Tales Told by the Dead by KT Bryski
    from Strange Horizons

SCIENCE FICTION

  • Air to Shape Lungs by Shingai Njeri Kagunda
    from Africa Risen
  • Sparrows by Susan Palwick
    from Asimov’s
  • Termination Stories for the Cyberpunk Dystopia Protagonist by Isabel J. Kim
    from Clarkesworld
  • Rabbit Test by Samantha Mills
    from Uncanny
  • Murder by Pixel by S.L. Huang
    from Clarkesworld
  • The CRISPR Cookbook: A Guide to Biohacking Your Own Abortion in a Post-Roe World by MKRNYILGLD
    from Lightspeed
  • The Odyssey Problem by Chris Willrich
    from Clarkesworld
  • Pre-Simulation Consultation XF007867 by Kim Fu
    from Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century
  • The Difference Between Love and Time by Catherynne M. Valente
    from Someone in Time
  • Cumulative Ethical Guidelines by Malka Older
    from Bridge to Elsewhere

Pixel Scroll 5/16/23 I Gave Them My Haploid Heart But They Wanted My Scroll

(1) BRITISH FANTASY AWARDS TAKING NOMINATIONS. Voting for the British Fantasy Awards is open through May 31.

You can vote for the BFAs if you are any of the following:
– A member of the British Fantasy Society
– An attendee at FantasyCon 2022 (London Heathrow)
– A ticket-holder for FantasyCon 2023 (Birmingham)

In each category the four titles or names with the highest number of recommendations will make the shortlist of nominations.

The BFA also has put out a “Call for BFA jurors” – “ANYONE can apply to become a juror and we would actively encourage non-members to volunteer as jurors.”

(2) BRITISH BOOK AWARDS. R.F. Kuang’s novel has won again – this time a British Book Award. The complete list of winners is at the link.

Fiction, supported by Good Housekeeping

RF Kuang

Babel (HarperCollins / Harper Voyager)

(3) ABSCISSION. “New Leaf Literary & Media Faces Backlash After Dropping Authors”Publishers Weekly monitored authors’ social media and is pursuing the story.

…The controversy unfolded shortly after New Leaf announced a series of changes to its staff structure. Hamessley has not returned requests for comment, and New Leaf emphasized that they cannot speak to any circumstances around her departure.

In an official statement on the matter, the Authors Guild expressed concern that Hamessley’s clients continue to be supported through the transition. “The Authors Guild strongly believes that every agent needs to have a succession plan for their authors in case of disabling ill health or death, and we instruct authors to inquire about such a contingency plan. We have seen far too many authors left in the lurch over the years.”

The statement continued: “New Leaf authors who were impacted by this sudden shakeup can reach out to us, though we can only represent Authors Guild members in legal matters. Authors who are members of the Authors Guild should send in their agency agreements to our legal staff so we can advise them on their rights.”

New Leaf told PW that it has been actively reaching out to Authors Guild representatives to clarify the situation.

In a statement to PW, author Stephanie Lucianovic said: “Undoubtedly, you’ll find out a lot about our reactions to these unceremoniously abrupt, late, Friday-night agency oustings on our socials, but our primary concern for the last 48+ hours has been about gathering our shocked and distraught agent-mate community and taking care of one another as best we can.”

(4) VALENTE Q&A. Catherynne M. Valente talks about Eurovision, Aliens and Mythpunk with Moid Moidelhoff at Media Death Cult.

(5) STARTING EARLIER. [Item by Dann.] What if… …the 1960s were the age of Marvel and DC movies?  This thread reimagines classic actors as classic heroes and villains. Thread starts here.

(6) TUNING UP. WhatsOnStage polled readers: “Top 100 musicals of all time revealed”. Six of the top 20 are sff. Believe it!

Audiences have been voting in their thousands across the month of April to find the top musicals of all time – and the results are now in!

We run down the top 20 below, with the subsequent 80 listed at the bottom. Where did your fave end up?

In terms of figures, leading the way with the highest number of musicals appearing is Stephen Sondheim on nine as composer and lyricist and a further two as lyricist. Andrew Lloyd Webber follows one behind on eight, including second place The Phantom of the Opera….

(7) TOR HIRE. Publishers Lunch reports Stephanie Stein has joined Tor Books as senior editor, acquiring adult science fiction and fantasy. She was previously at Harper Children’s.

(8) STAR WARS PROP GEMS. Paper City profiles the exhibition of a spectacular collection: “Star Wars Exhibit Wows With Galaxy Firsts at Valobra Master Jewelers — The Force Is Strong In Houston”.

In a climate-controlled garage, not so far away, sat one of the world’s most impressive Star Wars memorabilia collections, second only to that of the collection of George Lucas, the Jedi mind behind the science fiction franchise. That is until Franco Valobra, founder and CEO of Valobra Master Jewelers, decided to showcase the rare pieces for a limited engagement in his Houston store. 

Carrie Fisher’s (aka Princess Leia)  personally annotated script for The Empire Strikes Back, a fully functional R2D2 used for Star Wars promotions in the 1970s and a life-size original Darth Vader costume from the first Star Wars movie in 1977 are among the astonishing artifacts that were on display through Saturday, May 13.

Franco Valobra, a renowned luxury car collector, shares a “garage” with a close friend, storing his Ferraris and Maseratis alongside an array of astonishing memorabilia such as a model-size X-Wing Fighter and a Stormtrooper Blaster used in Star Wars: A New Hope. …

(9) MEMORY LANE.

2006[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

Some of you I think are likely more familiar with Susanna Clarke by way of her two novels, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell and Piranesi, than you are with her short stories.  It turns out that she is most excellent when it comes to this form.

She’s not written a lot of short stories but eight of these were collected in The Ladies of Grace Adieu and Other Stories, published seventeen years ago by Bloomsbury USA. The cover illustration (there’s no dust jacket) which I not surprisingly really love is by Charles Vess. 

All of them are set in the same alternative history as Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell

Our Beginning is drawn from one of them, “The Ladies of Grace Adieu Above”. And now here it is for you to read…

The Ladies of Grace Adieu Above all remember this: that magic belongs as much to the heart as to the head and everything which is done, should be done from love or joy or righteous anger. 

And if we honour this principle we shall discover that our magic is much greater than all the sum of all the spells that were ever taught. Then magic is to us as flight is to the birds, because then our magic comes from the dark and dreaming heart, just as the flight of a bird comes from the heart. And we will feel the same joy in performing that magic that the bird feels as it casts itself into the void and we will know that magic is part of what a man is, just as flight is part of what a bird is.

This understanding is a gift to us from the Raven King, the dear king of all magicians, who stands between England and the Other Lands, between all wild creatures and the world of men. From The Book of the Lady Catherine of Winchester (1209-67), translated from the Latin by Jane Tobias (1775-1819) 

When Mrs Field died, her grieving widower looked around him and discovered that the world seemed quite as full of pretty, young women as it had been in his youth. It further occurred to him that he was just as rich as ever and that, though his home already contained one pretty, young woman (his niece and ward, Cassandra Parbringer), he did not believe that another would go amiss. He did not think that he was at all changed from what he had been and Cassandra was entirely of his opinion, for (she thought to herself) I am sure, sir, that you were every bit as tedious at twenty-one as you are at forty-nine. So Mr Field married again. The lady was pretty and clever and only a year older than Cassandra, but, in her defence, we may say that she had no money and must either marry Mr Field or go and be a teacher in a school. The second Mrs Field and Cassandra were very pleased with each other and soon became very fond of each other. Indeed the sad truth was that they were a great deal fonder of each other than either was of Mr Field. There was another lady who was their friend (her name was Miss Tobias) and the three were often seen walking together near the village where lived-Grace Adieu in Gloucestershire.

Cassandra Parbringer at twenty was considered an ideal of a certain type of beauty to which some gentlemen are particularly partial. A white skin was agreeably tinged with pink. Light blue eyes harmonized very prettily with silvery-gold curls and the whole was a picture in which womanliness and childishness were sweetly combined. Mr Field, a gentleman not remarkable for his powers of observation, confidently supposed her to have a character childishly naive and full of pleasant, feminine submission in keeping with her face.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born May 16, 1918 Barry Atwater. Surak in “The Savage Curtain” episode where several reliable sources say he had serious trouble making Vulcan hand gesture. He did a lot of other genre work from Night Stalker where he played the vampire Janos Skorzeny to The Man From U.N.C.L.E.The Alfred Hitchcock HourVoyage to the Bottom of the SeaNight Gallery, The Wild Wild West and The Outer Limits. (Died 1978.)
  • Born May 16, 1937 Yvonne Craig. Batgirl on Batman, and that green skinned Orion slave girl Marta in “Whom Gods Destroy”. She also appeared in The Man from U.N.C.L.E.The Wild Wild WestVoyage to The Bottom of the SeaThe Ghost & Mrs. MuirLand of the GiantsSix Million Dollar Man and, err, Mars Needs Women. (Died 2015.)
  • Born May 16, 1950 Bruce Coville, 73. He’s won three Golden Duck Awards for Excellence in Children’s Science Fiction. He won first for his My Teacher Glows in the Dark, the second for his I Was a 6th Grade Alien, and the third for producing an audio adaptation of Heinlein’s The Rolling Stones. And NESFA also presented him with the Edward E. Smith Memorial Award for Imaginative Fiction. He was twice nominated for the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature. 
  • Born May 16, 1953 Pierce Brosnan, 70. Louis XIV in The Moon and the Sun adaptation of Vonda McIntyre’s novel, shot in 2014 then not released til 2022. James Bond in a remarkably undistinguished series of such films. Seriously, what do you remember about his Bond films? Dr. Lawrence Angelo in The Lawnmower Man, and he was lunch, errr, Professor Donald Kessler in Mars Attacks! and Mike Noonan in Bag of Bones.
  • Born May 16, 1955 Debra Winger, 68. Not I grant you an extensive genre resume but interesting one nonetheless. Her first genre appearance is in E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial in uncredited turn as, and I kid you, a Halloween Zombie Nurse with a poodle. Really I’m not kidding. And she appeared in three episodes of the Seventies Wonder Woman as Drusilla / Wonder Girl. If you want to stretch it, she was Rebecca in The Red Tent film.
  • Born May 16, 1969 David Boreanaz, 54. Am I the only one that thought Angel was for the most part a better series than Buffy? And the perfect episode was I think “Smile Time” when Angel gets turned into a puppet. It even spawned its own rather great toy line. He’s currently Master Chief Special Warfare Operator Jason Hayes on SEAL Team which has migrated to Paramount + which means that the adult language barrier has been shattered so it’s quite amusing to hear a very foul mouthed Boreanaz. 
  • Born May 16, 1977 Lynn Collins, 46. She was an excellent Dejah Thoris in the much underrated John Carter. Her first genre role was Assistant D.A. Jessica Manning on the very short lived horror UPN drama Hauntings, and she showed up in True Blood as Dawn Green. She survived longer on The Walking Dead as Leah Shaw.  Back to films, she was in X-Men Origins: Wolverine and The Wolverine as Kayla Silverfox, Rim of The World as Major Collins and Blood Creek as Barb. 

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) SIMULTANEOUS TIMES. Space Cowboy Books presents the Simultaneous Times podcast Episode 63 with stories by Elad Haber and Brent A. Harris. Stories featured in this episode:

“They Promised Trees” by Elad Haber. Music by Fall Precauxions 

“The Story That Never Was” by Brent A. Harris. Music by Phog Masheeen

Theme music by Dain Luscombe

(13) THEY GOT ME. If you disdain clickbait then you won’t click on “Fun Facts About the 1960s ‘Batman’ Series You Probably Didn’t Know” at Sportzbonanza.

Alan Napier

Before getting to the audition for the show, Alan Napier had no clue who Batman was. He never heard of the character, and he didn’t take the casting that seriously. The truth is, when the producers offered him a part of Batman’s butler Alfred, Alan was a skeptic, and he even considered not accepting the part. The story and idea seemed funny and ridiculous to him.

Luckily, after Napier’s agent showed him the income that the role could get him, he immediately changed his mind and said yes.

(14) WOTF 39. Today is the official release of Writers of the Future Volume 39 book, ebook and audiobook.

(15) MORE WATER TRACES ON THE SURFACE OF MARS. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] And they are in the low latitudes, away from the poles. In the Science Advances journal article “Modern water at low latitudes on Mars: Potential evidence from dune surfaces” Chinese researchers —

…report crusts, cracks, aggregates, and bright polygonal ridges on the surfaces of hydrated salt-rich dunes of southern Utopia Planitia (~25°N) from in situ exploration by the Zhurong rover. These surface features were inferred to form after 1.4 to 0.4 million years ago. Wind and CO2 frost processes can be ruled out as potential mechanisms. Instead, involvement of saline water from thawed frost/snow is the most likely cause. This discovery sheds light on more humid conditions of the modern Martian climate and provides critical clues to future exploration missions searching for signs of extant life, particularly at low latitudes with comparatively warmer, more amenable surface temperatures.

(16) WORSE THAN KUDZU. Restart the Earth review – Chinese sci-fi is pacy plant-based apocalypse” says the Guardian.

No doubt to Alan Titchmarsh’s great relief, the horticultural arm of the post-apocalypse flick is finally entering the growth phase, with the likes of AnnihilationThe Last of Us and now this lightweight effort from Chinese director Lin Zhenzhao. The hubris here is that mankind has overcompensated for the desertification of the planet with cutting-edge research to promote plant growth, accidentally creating a super-species of sentient flora that has choked the Earth, and whose roving vines hunt down people to snack on….

When a drug to replicate plant cells creates a sentient form of flower, the planet is over taken by flora and humankind is depleted. A Chinese task force, a widowed father and his young daughter fight to survive in a mission to inject an antidote to the core of the plants to reverse their growth.

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Mike Lynch Cartoons tells who’s who in this 1945 video “John Nesbitt’s Passing Parade: ‘People on Paper'”: H.H. Knerr (Katzenjammer Kids), Bud Fisher (Mutt and Jeff), Fred Lasswell (Barney Google and Snuffy Smith), Frank King (Gasoline Alley), Chester Gould (Dick Tracy), Dick Calkins (Buck Rogers in the 25th Century), Milton Caniff (Terry and the Pirates), Chic Young (Blondie), Raeburn Van Buren (Abbie an’ Slats), Ham Fisher (Joe Palooka), Hal Foster (Prince Valiant), Harold Gray (Little Orphan Annie), and Al Capp (Li’l Abner).

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

Pixel Scroll 5/12/23 I’m A Citizens For Boisenberry Space Jam Of The Galaxy Fan

(1) UNDERSTANDING A SOCIAL MEDIA SUCCESS STORY. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] Grace P. Fong explains how Twitter’s algorithm caused that Bigolas Dickolas tweet to go viral: “This is How Bigolas Dickolas Won the Twitter”.

…Basically, I think this not a case of lightning striking but more a case of two long-term successes colliding in a way that was socially unlikely (although algorithmically possible), followed by a snowball effect in part of the sheer novelty of these two social groups.

So first, you need to understand the social media algorithm…

We know that the algorithm groups people based off who they follow and who follows them back. This is why ‘top’ people in a particular circle will actually have similar follower counts give or take a few K. For example, pop stars will have followings in the 100Ks, visual artists at 20Kish, and writers at 10Kish. Posts that do well are first elevated to members of the same circle.

That’s the key to success here: the post by Bigolas Dickolas (who I’ll call BD to save space) hopped circles. A much bigger circle than the speculative fiction circle: the Trigun circle….

(2) TOLKIEN SCHOLARSHIP. Robin Anne Reid has published “My Presentation for the ‘Tolkien and Medieval Constructions of Race’ Roundtable” at Writing from Ithilien.

…I would like to thank Kris and Mariana for organizing this roundtable. I second their call to foreground work by medievalists of colour and to expand scholarship on Tolkien that draws on critical race, intersectional, postcolonial, and neo-colonial theories. However, my focus today is not on what Tolkien wrote. Instead, I argue that Tolkien studies is dominated by white scholars who too often defend their beloved author with the shield of authorial intentionality, and that we need to turn an analytical gaze on ourselves and the systemic racism that is the foundation of our field (and of Anglophone academia). What follows is an overview of that process in my own work.

My 2017 bibliographic essay on “Race and Tolkien” in Christopher Vaccaro and Yvette Kisor’s Tolkien and Alterity analyzes twenty-three essays and two books on the topic that were published between 2003-2013. The essays include a handful of entries in Michael Drout’s Tolkien Encyclopedia, but most are peer-reviewed publications. The conflict between those who defend what are held to be the author’s personal beliefs and those who analyze the texts is clear. My conclusion is that it is futile to frame the research question as “Is Tolkien racist or not?” as opposed to the question of “how does Tolkien’s work criticize and reproduce the racist/imperialistic/colonialist systems of the world in which he lived?” My bibliographic essay is the only one of the eleven chapters in the first collection on “Alterity” that engages with the topic of race and racisms as opposed to the other types of alterity which, by the unstated default, are primarily White: queerness; women; femininity; language, and identities….

(3) A WINDOW ON PUBLISHING ISSUES. The New York Times profiles R. F. Kuang, author of Yellowface, in “She Wrote a Blistering Satire About Publishing. The Publishing Industry Loves It.”

Everything about R.F. Kuang’s novel “Yellowface” feels engineered to make readers uncomfortable. There’s the title, which is awkward to say out loud, and the cover, which features a garish racial stereotype — cartoonish slanted eyes imposed on a block of yellow.

Then there’s the story itself. In the opening chapters, a white author steals a manuscript from the home of a Chinese American novelist who has died in a bizarre accident, and plots to pass it off as her own. What follows is a twisty thriller and a scorching indictment of the publishing industry’s pervasive whiteness and racial blind spots.

If people in the literary world bristle at Kuang’s withering depiction of the book business — or cringe in recognition — well, that’s exactly the point, she said.

“Reading about racism should not be a feel-good experience,” she said. “I do want people to be uncomfortable with the way that they’re trained to write about and market and sell books, and be uncomfortable with who’s in the room, and how they’re talking about who’s in the room.

“And it’s also functioning on a different level for writers of color,” she added, “to think about how we are moving through those spaces, and the traps that are set for us.”…

(4) AUDIOBOOKS MAKING NOISE. Publishing Perspectives shows that in February in the U.S. “Audio in Adult Titles Surpasses Ebooks”.

… The AAP’s report points to February as the first time that digital audio has surpassed ebooks in books for adults. We emphasize the “for adults” element only to stress that the handy lead taken by digital audio over ebooks in February is no across the board, but limited to adult content….

(5) SHOOTING THE MOON. [Item by Danny Sichel.] Andrew McCarthy used two telescopes for five years and stitched together +280,000 individual photos of the Moon to produce the “Gigamoon”, the most detailed image of the Moon on record. It’s over a billion pixels large, and he’s made an interactive version available.

Try zooming in — at EasyZoom.

(6) KGB. Ellen Datlow has posted her photos from the Fantastic Fiction at KGB readings on May 10, 2023 which featured guests Paul Tremblay and John Langan.

(7) SURVIVOR MARS — OR — THROW SHAT FROM THE HABITAT. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Just when you thought every stupid “celebrity“ elimination show had been made, along comes Stars on Mars. Hosted by William Shatner on Fox, a dozen B-, C-, and mostly D-List celebrities will be gathered in a simulated Mars habitat and compete with each other to prevent being “sent back to Earth.“

Speaking for themselves, the Futurism article says, “We’ll probably be tuning in — even if it’s just so you don’t have to.” In any case, you’ve been warned. “New Show Traps Lance Armstrong and Ariel Winter in Simulated Mars Base”

…The show, set to premiere next month, will be hosted by none other than “Star Trek” legend and depressed space tourist William Shatner.

“Thanks to lower gravity on Mars, you’ll weigh 62 percent less,” Shatner quipped during a promo video. “Bad news: the air is unbreathable, so if you’re from LA, it’ll remind you of home.”

The guest list is a bizarre mashup of VIPs, from UFC champion Ronda Rousey and “Real Housewives of Atlanta” reality star Porsha Williams Guobadia to actor Christopher Mintz-Plasse, who you might remember as McLovin’ from the comedy “Superbad.”

The show will vaguely mimic a NASA analog mission, with contestants living and working inside a mockup of a Martian colony, though it’s unclear for how long.

They will also compete with each other during several challenges set by Shatner and vote each other off of the show — “send them back to Earth” — until a single “space invader” is left standing, according to a press release….

(8) LIVE STAGE EFFECTS. The New York Times continues its periodic series with “5 Tony-Nominated Broadway Shows, 5 Stagecraft Secrets”. Includes the very bloody Sweeney Todd.

…Theater, at its best, is a form of magic — it enchants us, transforms us and often makes us wonder, “How do they do that?”

On Broadway, where craft is polished and spectacle is heightened, there is much at which to marvel. So this spring, now that all the 2022-23 plays and musicals have opened, we have once again asked a few of the Tony-nominated shows to let us peek behind the metaphorical curtain, exploring how they came up with, and pulled off, some of the sensational stagecraft that caught our attention this season.

Warning: Spoilers ahead….

(9) JERRY LAPIDUS (1948-2023). Fanzine fan Jerry Lapidus died about April 19 in his home in Ormond Beach, Florida announced D. Gary Grady.

I remember Jerry’s genzine Tomorrow and… which was published in a slightly exotic format on legal length paper (see issues at Fanac.org.) From 1968-1972 he also did an annual compilation of the current Worldcon constitution in The Legal Rules which identified the latest changes and published notes on the actions of the business meeting.   

Outside of fandom, recalls Grady, “For many years Jerry worked with Actors Equity in New York, negotiating Equity contracts with regional theaters all over the country. Later he took a position helping run a large performing arts center in Daytona Beach, the Seaside Music Theater, and more recently he was a volunteer at a small nonprofit theater in Palm Coast.”

Jerry’s wife Anita died in 2015. He is survived by his daughter, Kim.

(10) MEMORY LANE.

2012[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

May I start off by saying we are so blessed to have Pat Cadigan among as both an individual and as a writer? Truly blessed? She’s an amazing person that has been honored with multiple Hugo nominations but only one win which was for “The Girl-Thing Who Went Out for Sushi”, the source of our Beginning this time. 

It was published in Jonathan Strahan’s Edge of Infinity anthology in 2012.

And now Cadigan demonstrates her most excellent wordsmithing in this Beginning…

Nine decs into her second hitch, Fry hit a berg in the Main ring and broke her leg. And she didn’t just splinter the bone—compound fracture! Yow! What a mess! Fortunately, we’d finished servicing most of the eyes, a job that I thought was more busywork than work-work. But those were the last decs before Okeke-Hightower hit and everybody had comet fever.

There hadn’t been an observable impact on the Big J for almost three hundred (Dirt) years—Shoemaker-Somethingorother—and no one was close enough to get a good look back then. Now every news channel, research institute, and moneybags everywhere in the solar system was paying Jovian Operations for a ringside view. Every JovOp crew was on the case, putting cameras on cameras and backup cameras on the backup cameras—visible, infrared, X-ray, and everything else. Fry was pretty excited about it herself, talking about how great it was she would get to see it live. Girl-thing should have been watching where she wasn’t supposed to be going.

I was coated and I knew Fry’s suit would hold, but featherless bipeds are prone to vertigo when they’re injured. So I blew a bubble big enough for both of us, cocooned her leg, pumped her full of drugs, and called an ambulance. The jellie with the rest of the crew was already on the other side of the Big J. I let them know we’d scrubbed and someone would have to finish the last few eyes in the radian for us. Girl-thing was one hell of a stiff two-stepper, staying just as calm as if we were unwinding end-of-shift. The only thing she seemed to have a little trouble with was the O. Fry picked up consensus orientation faster than any other two-stepper I’d ever worked with but she’d never done it on drugs. I tried to keep her distracted by telling her all the gossip I knew and when I ran out, I made shit up.

Then all of a sudden, she said, “Well, Arkae, that’s it for me.”

Her voice was so damned final, I thought she was quitting. And I deflated because I had taken quite a liking to our girl-thing. I said, “Aw, honey, we’ll all miss you out here.”

But she laughed. “No, no, no, I’m not leaving. I’m going out for sushi.”

I gave her a pat on the shoulder, thinking it was the junk in her system talking. Fry was no ordinary girl-thing—she was great out here but she’d always been special. Back in the Dirt, she’d been a brain-box, top-level scholar and a beauty queen. That’s right—a featherless biped genius beauty queen. Believe it or leave it, as Sheerluck says.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born May 12, 1907 Leslie Charteris. I really hadn’t thought of the Simon Templar aka The Saint series as being genre but both ISFDB and ESF list the series with the latter noting that “Several short stories featuring Templar are sf or fantasy, typically dealing with odd Inventions or Monsters (including the Loch Ness Monster and Caribbean Zombies.” (Died 1993.)
  • Born May 12, 1928 Robert Coulson. Writer, well-known fan, filk songwriter and fanzine editor. He and his wife, writer and fellow filker Juanita Coulson, edited the fanzine Yandro which they produced on a mimeograph machine, and which was nominated for the Hugo Award ten years running right through 1968, and won in 1965. Yandro was particularly strong on reviewing other fanzines. Characters modeled on and named after him appear in two novels by Wilson Tucker, Resurrection Days and To the Tombaugh Station. (Died 1999.)
  • Born May 12, 1937 George Carlin. Rufus in Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure and Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey. He also showed up in Scary Movie 3 and Tarzan II. I once met him many decades ago at a Maine summer resort. He was really personable and nice. (Died 2008.)
  • Born May 12, 1938 David Pelham, 85. Artist and Art Director at Penguin Books from 1968 to 1979, who was responsible for some of the most recognizable cover art in genre books to date. He did the cog-eyed droog for Anthony Burgess’s novel A Clockwork Orange in 1972.
  • Born May 12, 1942 Barry Longyear, 81. Best known for the Hugo- and Nebula Award–winning novella Enemy Mine, which became a film by that name as well. An expanded version of the original novella as well as two novels completing the trilogy, The Tomorrow Testament and The Last Enemy make up The Enemy Papers. I’m very fond of his Circus World series, less so of his Infinity Hold series.
  • Born May 12, 1950 Bruce Boxleitner, 73. His greatest genre role was obviously Captain John Sheridan on Babylon 5. (Yes, I loved the show.) Other genre appearances being Alan T. Bradley in Tron and Tron: Legacy, and voicing that character in the Tron: Uprising series. He has a recurring role on Supergirl as President Baker.
  • Born May 12, 1958 Heather Rose Jones, 65. Part of our File 770 community.  She received the Gaylactic Spectrum Award for the Mother of Souls, the third novel in her Alpennia series which has now seen four novels published, quite an accomplishment. For six years now, she has presented the Lesbian Historic Motif Podcast subseries of the Lesbian Talk Show.

(12) COMICS SECTION.

  • Frazz explains some indiocyncratic English pluralization(s).

(13) PIONEERING THE COMIC STORE BUSINESS. The Comics Journal interviews the current owner of L.A.’s famed “Golden Apple Comics” who inherited in from his father.

Just to step back historically for a moment, Golden Apple was one of the earliest comic stores in L.A., and became one of the most important stores nationally for comic retail. So, to your mind, what led to that influence? What was the key to your dad’s strategy?

First and foremost, his passion, his creativity, his drive, his vision. He was a retail pioneer for comic books. There were comic book stores in the 1970s, but they were run by fans, and they weren’t even legitimate businesses. My dad is actually the one who really pushed for cash registers, for example. Everybody else was using cigar boxes or whatever, and they weren’t paying their taxes, they weren’t doing inventory or anything. 

And selection was always a big thing for us. It was a really big store, the original store. We probably carried more new titles and deeper stock than anybody. We would just have hundreds of copies of every major Batman, Spider-Man, X-Men, Image title. Because here’s the thing about Golden Apple: we didn’t do subscriptions, like pull lists or traditional subscription boxes, which are sort of the backbone of the industry. My dad didn’t believe in it. He felt that it took away from the shopping aspect of [the store]: that they would come in, and buy [their holds], and walk out the door and not even look around. And he was wrong. There are a small handful who do that, and I always look at them and go, “Oh, you’re the ones my dad was fearing.” But it’s a very small amount of regulars.

Obviously, one of the main keys was, [Golden Apple] is a place to meet your heroes, whether it’s a comic creator, a celebrity, a movie star, a musician. If you had a comic book that you were trying to promote, you came through Golden Apple. So Wizard magazine did an article called “Comic Shop to the Stars” – we basically [had] kept it under wraps for years, as a sign of respect, and I didn’t want to publicly call out these celebrities that had been shopping in our store. And then one day, Wizard magazine said, “Hey, I heard X, Y and Z shop here.” And my dad said, “You know what? I think it’s time to tell the world.” And we did, and ever since then, our star has just risen: more celebrities come in, I think, because of it. Michael Jackson was famously a customer. It was the only comic store he went to, and we would close the place down for him. And he brought his kids and everything – we’re the last documented store where photographers took pictures of Michael and his three children before he died.

Have you ever felt there’s a downside to that – whether adding that level of glitz detracts from your identity as a comic shop in any way?

It’s a pure plus. I can’t tell you the countless amount of customers who have been in the store when a big celebrity comes in. It makes their day….

(14) BITE ME. “Soap can make humans more attractive to mosquitoes, study finds” reports the Guardian.

Lathering up with soap might seem a reasonable mosquito-evasion strategy on the basis that if they can’t smell you, they can’t bite you.

However, a study suggests that rather than helping you go incognito, soapy fragrances could make you a more attractive target, with mosquitoes favouring the scent of volunteers who washed with three out of four popular soap brands tested.

The scientists behind the research said mosquitoes may be attracted to soap because, when they are not feeding on blood, they supplement their sugar intake with plant nectars.

“The fact we are taking those flowery, fruity smells and putting them on our bodies means that now the same object smells like a flower and a person at the same time,” said Clément Vinauger, who led the work at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. “It would be like waking up and smelling something that was like both coffee and muffins. Very appealing.”…

(15) HAMILTONIAN HUMOR. [Curated by Daniel Dern.]

At the 30th annual Easter Bonnet Competition, the company of Hamilton took top honors for transforming their opening number into an homage to Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd. Lin-Manuel Miranda chillingly portrayed the “demon barber of Fleet Street” as his fellow cast members retold the dark, twisted tale.

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. The faux “Lord of the Rings by Wes Anderson Trailer” is a big hit online. Jennifer Hawthorne says, “If you’ve seen any Wes Anderson movies this is hilarious, and if you haven’t it’s still pretty fun (and also, you should go see some Wes Anderson movies.)”

It was made using AI – the maker has posted an explanation about how they did it: “AI Filmmaking”.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Jennifer Hawthorne, Cora Buhlert, Daniel Dern, Danny Sichel, Ellen Datlow, Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 1/31/23 A Subway Named Moebius, Larryus, And Curlyus

(1) KINDRED CANCELED. Can the news get any worse? The Hollywood Reporter tells us “’Kindred’ Canceled at FX”. The drama was based on Octavia E. Butler’s 1979 novel about a young Black woman who is pulled back and forth in time.

Sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that the Disney-backed basic-cable network has canceled the drama based on Octavia E. Butler’s 1979 novel about a young Black woman who is pulled back and forth in time. Showrunner Branden Jacobs-Jenkins (Watchmen) is expected to shop the drama from FX Productions as he envisioned a multiple-season run for the series.

Reps for FX declined to comment.

Kindred debuted Dec. 13, launching all eight episodes of the drama that starred Mallori Johnson as an L.A. woman who is pulled back in time to the 19th century South.

…The drama, which streamed exclusively on Hulu, currently has a 70 percent score among critics on Rotten Tomatoes and a 51 percent rating among viewers. In his reviewTHR chief TV critic Daniel Fienberg said Kindred was “often effective, but key choices aren’t clicking.” (Hulu does not release traditional viewership data.)…

(2) FUTURE TENSE. The January 2023 entry in the Future Tense Fiction series, “Bigfeet” by Torie Bosch, is a story on “de-extincting a creature that (probably) never existed” —  about a rogue effort to genetically engineer Bigfoot.

It was published along with a response essay, “De-extinction and conservation: When introducing a new species goes wrong” by conservation researcher Challie Facemire.

… This fictional scenario has many real-world counterparts: In the 1920s, sport hunters released a dozen mountain goats on the Olympic Peninsula in western Washington state—the same region where some of the story’s Bigfeet are set loose. Like the Bigfeet, the mountain goat population grew out of control quickly. The goats have caused problems since, from eating sparse alpine plants to trying to lick salt off hikers’ clothes and gear—salt deposits don’t occur naturally in the peninsula, but the goats need it in their diet. As a result, federal and state land managers were forced to carefully devise a multiyear plan to relocate or extirpate the goats (including lifting some by helicopter to more suitable habitats)….

(3) KGB. Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present Jeffrey Ford and Marie Vibbert in person at the KGB Bar on Feburary 8, beginning at 7:00 Eastern.

Jeffrey Ford

Jeffrey Ford is a New York Times Notable author for his novel The Physiognomy. In addition, his eleven novels and eight collections of stories have garnered multiple genre awards. His short stories have appeared in a myriad of venues within the SFF/H genres and beyond, He has new stories coming out this year from Tor.com, Asimov’s, and a couple of anthologies. He is recently retired from 40 plus years teaching literature and writing. He lives somewhere out in Ohio in a hundred-and twenty-year-old farmhouse with his wife and seven cats, four dogs, and a turtle.

Marie Vibbert

Marie Vibbert is the Hugo-longlisted author of over 80 short stories, translated into four languages, as well as three novels, some poems, comics, and video games. Her first novel, Galactic Hellcats, was longlisted for the BSFA in 2021. Her latest novel is The Gods Awoke.

Where: KGB Bar, 85 East 4th Street, New York, NY 10003 (Just off 2nd Ave, upstairs). When: February 8th, 2023, 7:00 p.m. Eastern.

(4) MONTELEONE INTERVIEW RESURFACES. Hatchet Mouth Episode 158 “Facebook has AIDS w/ Tom Monteleone” seems to have reappeared if you haven’t heard enough toxicity yet today. It includes the insulting anecdotes referenced in yesterday’s Scroll.

(5) HARPERCOLLINS STRIKE. Literary Hub shares “Why I’m Still on Strike: Portraits from the HarperCollins Picket Line”.

…As the only union in the Big 5, we are in the unique position to push the needle forward for all publishing, not just HarperCollins—a weight and opportunity that isn’t lost on any of us. You can feel it in our picket line chants, in our weekly membership meetings, in our Slack conversations. It’s palpable—the outcome of this strike will determine if hundreds of brilliant workers will leave publishing forever, or if people will finally be able to see a future for themselves in an industry desperately in need of change.

We’re on Day 58 of the strike, with no idea of how much longer this will stretch on. I admit it: I’m terrified and exhausted. I also have never believed in our mission more….

(6) HAUNTED HOUSES IN SPACE. [Item by Ben Bird Person.] YouTuber Romancing the Gothic posted this video exploring “Haunted Houses in Space” through the films SolarisAlien, and Event Horizon.

(7) JEOPARDY! Andrew Porter was pleased to see tonight’s episode of Jeopardy! had an entire category, “Sci-Fi and Fantasy”. Some of the entries were too tough for the contestants.

Answer: This Joe Haldeman classic tells of William Mandella, who fights the interstellar Taurans for a really long time.

No one could ask, “What is ‘The Forever War’?”

Answer: A “Star Trek” homage, this colorful John Scalzi title refers to clothing soon-to-die crew members wear.

Wrong question: “What is a red shirt?”

Right question: “What are the red shirts?”

Rich Lynch, who also was watching, adds that “One of the clues was a head shot of GRRM.”

(8) MEMORY LANE.

1948 [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

In tonight’s Scroll, we debut a new essay series which is First Paragraphs. To start this off, we have the beginning of the Lensmen series by E.E. “ Doc” Smith which was chosen by Mike Glyer who says, “First paragraphs — it’s actually the first line  of E. E. ‘Doc’ Smith’s Triplanetary: A Tale of Cosmic Adventure that I love the most. It really sets the tone for what he turned into a six-book saga.” 

The magazine version of Triplanetary appeared in 1934 and only later was turned into a fix-up novel, a prequel that begins the series. Four of the Lensmen series as this would known as would be nominated for Retro Hugos though this was not one of them. 

The entire series is available for free from the usual suspects. And, I kid you not at all, there are eleven different audio recordings of Triplanetary

Two thousand million or so years ago two galaxies were colliding; or, rather, were passing through each other. A couple of hundreds of millions of years either way do not matter, since at least that much time was required for the inter-passage. At about that same time—within the same plus-or-minus ten percent margin of error, it is believed—practically all of the suns of both those galaxies became possessed of planets.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 31, 1923Norman Mailer. I never knew he wrote in the genre but he did. Ancient Evenings certainly has the elements of fantasy and The Castle in the Forest is interesting retelling of Adolf Hitler and his last days. (Died 2007.)
  • Born January 31, 1937Philip Glass, 86. 1000 Airplanes on the Roof: A Science Fiction Music-DramaEinstein on the BeachThe Making of the Representative for Planet 8 (with a libretto by Doris Lessing based on her novel of the same name), The marriages between zones three, four, and five (1997, libretto by Doris Lessing, after her second novel from Canopus in Argos), The Witches of Venice and The Juniper Tree would be a fragmentary listing of his works that have a genre bias. 
  • Born January 31, 1947Jonathan Banks, 76. First genre role was as Deputy Brent in Gremlins, a film I adore. In the same year, he’s a Lizardo Hospital Guard in another film I adore, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension. Ahhh, a good year indeed. Next I see him playing Michelette in Freejack, another better than merely good sf film. The last thing I see him doing film wise is voicing Rick Dicker in the fairly recent Incredibles 2.  Series wise and these are just my highlights, I’ve got him on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine as Shel-la in the “Battle Lines” episode, in Highlander: The Series as Mako in the “Under Colour of Authority” episode and as Kommander Nuveen Kroll in short lived Otherworld series. In SeaQuest 2032 also had for two episodes as Maximillian Scully. 
  • Born January 31, 1960Grant Morrison, 63. If you can find it, their early stuff on such U.K. publishers as Galaxy Media and Harrier Comics is worth searching out. Not your hero in tights materials at all. For their work in that venue, I’d recommend his run on The Resurrection of Ra’s al Ghul, all of his Doom Patrol work (and the HBO series is based on their work and is quite spectacular), Seven Soldiers and The Multiversity which is spectacularly weird.
  • Born January 31, 1962Will McIntosh, 61. Best known for the dozens of short stories he’s written that have been published in magazines including Asimov’s, InterzoneLightspeed and Strange Horizons. He won a Hugo for his short story “Bridesicle“ at Aussiecon 4.
  • Born January 31, 1973Portia de Rossi, 50. She first shows up as Giddy in Sirens which would I’d stretching things to even include as genre adjacent but which is definitely worth watching. For SFF roles, she was in Catholic Church tinged horror film Stigmata, musical Zombie comedy Dead & Breakfast and werewolf horror Cursed. She was Lily Munster in the delightfully weird Mockingbird Lane pilot that never went to series. 
  • Born January 31, 1977Kerry Washington46. Alicia Masters in Fantastic Four and Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer. Also played Medical Officer Marissa Brau in 30,000 Leagues Under the Sea. She voices Natalie Certain in Care 3. She also voices Princess Shuri in a short run Black Panther series. 

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Non Sequitur applies logic to the idea of colonizing Mars.

(11) WORD POWER. The Hugo Book Club Blog reviews R. F. Kuang’s Babel in “All Words In All Languages Are Metaphors”.

…This is a novel that uses the form of Regency-era historical fantasy to tackle themes of social justice that are at the forefront of today’s cultural vanguard in science fiction and fantasy. In short, it uses the cultural precepts of England at the peak of its colonial power to disclose and critique the social impacts of those systems.

It’s worth noting that although many American authors have attempted to mimic the style of period British prose, the vast majority have failed, often sounding affected, or pompous, or leaden. But instead of clumsy pastiche, Babel feels like a fantasy that William Makepeace Thackeray might have written. Kuang evokes era-appropriate ambiance and regionally-believable prose and dialogue so skillfully that we double-checked to see if she was born and raised in Hertfordshire or Dorset. (We strongly encourage everyone to read the “Author’s Note on Her Representations of Historical England, and of the University of Oxford in Particular,” which precedes the text of the novel.) It is especially gratifying that a book that is deeply concerned with language as a concept uses it so skillfully….

(12) MARVEL’S THIRD ANNUAL X-MEN ELECTION STARTS TODAY. Make your mutant voice heard! For the third consecutive year, Marvel is putting the fate of the X-Men in the hands of fans The 2023 X-Men election will run from Tuesday, January 31 until Friday, February 3. Participants can vote now at marvel.com/xmenvote. The results, along with the full new X-Men team, will be unveiled during the Hellfire Gala in Marvel comics this July.

For three years, the X-Men election has given True Believers everywhere the opportunity to determine the newest protector of Krakoa. In 2021, Polaris won the first-ever election and was featured in Gerry Duggan and Pepe Larraz’s X-MEN. And in 2022, fan-favorite Firestar was chosen to become the newest member of the X-Men, where she then took on a starring role in Duggan’s second year of X-MEN, with artists C.F. Villa and Joshua Cassara.

Once again, several nominations have been accepted to determine the final member of the new X-team. Only one vote is allowed per person, so read about the nominees below and choose wisely!

2023 X-Men Ballot Nominations:

CANNONBALL: One of the original “New Mutants,” the second class of students in the Xavier School, Sam Guthrie has come a long way. His ability to transform into a human cannonball, propelling himself with great force at high speeds while making himself “nigh invulnerable” has taken him from an awkward lanky teen to a married father who is both a former X-Man and Avenger! Why not rocket him to the front lines again?

DAZZLER: Dazzler first made it to the scene as a pop star, using her secret mutant power to transform sound into light as part of her stage show. Becoming a hero and joining the X-Men never dimmed her star-power, even as she learned to use her ability to dazzle as an offensive weapon. Since then, she’s been a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, a freedom fighter, mother to a time paradox, and a vampire hunter. Isn’t it time for Alison Blaire to reclaim center stage?

FRENZY: Superhuman strength, speed, stamina, agility, reflexes and durability have made Joanna Cargill a formidable opponent to any who crosses her. From her early days opposed to the X-Men as a member of Apocalypse’s Alliance of Evil, her time as one of Magneto’s Acolytes, and Mister Sinister’s Marauders, to her time on the side of good with the Jean Grey School, and eventually as an intergalactic ambassador with S.W.O.R.D., Frenzy has what it takes to tackle anything!

JUBILEE: Having joined the X-Men as a teenaged runaway, Jubilation Lee had been shooting explosive fireworks out of her hands into the face of evil for many years when she lost her powers in M-Day. Even so, that didn’t stop her from fighting for what’s right—first as a New Warrior using a power suit, and later as a vampire, going against every monstrous urge that came with that transformation. Cured of that curse and with her mutant powers returned, Jubilee deserves to reclaim her spot on the X-team!

JUGGERNAUT: The non-mutant stepbrother of Professor X, Cain Marko long ago claimed the gem of the ancient “god” Cyttorak, transforming him into the unstoppable brute known as Juggernaut. For many years he was a thorn in the X-Men’s side, frequently rampaging through their lives leaving wreckage behind. More recently, however, Cain has shaken off the evil influence of his dark master, claiming the power of Juggernaut under his own terms and making amends for his past deeds.

PRODIGY: Prodigy possesses the power of psychomimetry—a form of telepathy that grants him the skills and knowledge of those in his proximity. This allows him equal mastery of any skill—mental or physical—as those around him. His ability to retain knowledge from those sources makes him an even more formidable mutant – one who is brilliant at biology, computers, martial arts, and strategic planning. David Alleyne may borrow from others, but he is one of a kind.

(13) PLEISTOCENE PARK. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] A Dallas-based company believes it’s well on its way to resurrecting the woolly mammoth. They’ve targeting 2027 to re-introduce this “cold-resistant elephant“ in Siberia. Or, well, maybe somewhere else given the current political situation. “Woolly Mammoth Coming Back to Life by 2027: De-Extinction Details”.

…The woolly mammoth’s DNA is a 99.6 percent match of the Asian elephant, which leads Colossal to believe it’s well on its way toward achieving its goal. “In the minds of many, this creature is gone forever,” the company says. “But not in the minds of our scientists, nor the labs of our company. We’re already in the process of the de-extinction of the Woolly Mammoth. Our teams have collected viable DNA samples and are editing the genes that will allow this wonderful megafauna to once again thunder through the Arctic.”

Through gene editing, Colossal scientists will eventually create an embryo of a woolly mammoth. They will place the embryo in an African elephant to take advantage of its size and allow it to give birth to the new woolly mammoth. The eventual goal is to then repopulate parts of the Arctic with the new woolly mammoth and strengthen local plant life with the migration patterns and dietary habits of the beast….

(14) STEAM THEME. “New Universal Citywalk LA Restaurant Goes Full Steampunk Willy Wonka” reports Eater – LA.

Fresh off the buzz from the Super Mario Brothers-themed Toadstool Cafe, Universal CityWalk opens a new and immersive dining restaurant called Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen on Friday, January 27. This new spot took over the former Hard Rock Cafe and feels very much like a merger of steampunk industrialism cobbled together with the Cheesecake Factory — and sprinkled with plenty of Willy Wonka vibes to boot.

This isn’t a new concept for Toothsome Chocolate Emporium, since there are locations in both Orlando and Beijing, but it is new for Los Angeles. The entire full-service space, complete with a bar area and multi-level dining room, runs with its bigger-than-life theme to extremes and even offers an extensive backstory involving two live dolled-up characters named Penelope and Jacques that’ll rove throughout the eatery to interact with the guests….

(15) ON THE WAY FROM DC. In this video James Gunn shares his vision for the future of the DC Universe and the upcoming slate from DC Studios. “Chapter 1 – Gods and Monsters”.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, N., Rich Lynch, Olav Rokne, Ben Bird Person, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, and Chris Barkley for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 12/7/22 Pixels: What Are They Scrolling? Are They Scrolling Anything? Let’s Find Out!

(1) 2022 #BLACKSPECFIC. FIYAH has posted the 2022 #BlackSpecFic Report, an examination of the state of representation of Black authors within the speculative short fiction market published in 2021. This report was composed by L. D. Lewis and Nelson Rolon with sponsor support from the Carl Brandon Society, Diabolical Plots, and CatStone Books.

In the report, “a market is considered “successful” with regard to its publication of Black authors if their percentages are within 2% of the U.S. census reported Black population (13.6%)” —

Highlights

  • Of the 23 pro and semipro markets examined in all 2015-2017 studies, 11 showed an increase in publishing works by Black authors relative to their respective outputs.
  • While Black editors of short speculative fiction continue to represent a small portion of the field, nearly all of the surveyed markets who host a Black owner, editor, or guest editor made the “Most Successful (without reprints)” list. And those four publications (Anathema, Fantasy Magazine, Fantasy & Science Fiction, Uncanny Magazine) are responsible for 25.4% of the entire field’s Black-authored works.

The next report is slated for 2025.

(2) AUTHORS NOT GETTING PAID. In the Guardian, Joanne Harris states “Horribly low pay is pushing out my fellow authors – and yes, that really does matter”, and goes on to spotlight how bad things are.

…We arrive at what we imagined would be the creative heart of an industry, but it turns out to be a room full of slot machines. Some of us are lucky enough to feed the right slot at the right time and hit jackpots of varying sizes. Others bring their own luck to the room – they can afford to feed the slots regardless of what they get in return. But what about everyone else? Who can honestly afford to stay?

The trouble with luck is that it is not a reliable foundation for a profession. Nor is it a reliable way to run an industry. Yet here we are.

When the ALCS first ran its survey of author incomes in 2006 it found that the median self-employed income of a full-time author was £12,330. In 2022 – a year in which multiple publishers have posted record profits while freelancers in all professions are still reeling from the impact of Covid-19, Brexit and rising living costs – the median full-time income has fallen to £7,000. That’s a drop of more than 60% when accounting for inflation.

There is also a more worrying, granular luck at play. The gender pay gap is getting worse – men earn 41% more than women (compared with 33% five years ago). Payment for Black and mixed-heritage authors is a full 51% lower than for white authors. Young authors earn less, as do older ones. Fewer authors than ever are receiving advances…

(3) LOCUS INDIEGOGO AT 82%. With 8 days to go, the Locus Magazine Indiegogo appeal has raised $61,790 of its $75,000 goal.

(4) AMAZING KICKSTARTER FALLS SHORT. Despite attracting contributions from 114 backers, the Amazing Stories Kickstarter failed reports publisher Kermit Woodall. Only $3,330 was pledged towards the $13,000 goal.

I’m afraid Amazing Stories failed to meet its Kickstarter goal.  This means the SOL SYSTEM issue won’t be coming out as planned.  Kickstarter won’t take pledge money from backers. No worries!

We do still plan to have an online convention, I can’t promise all the same writers will attend, but it will be different and possibly better! More news as that develops.

…The special SOL SYSTEM issue won’t happen.

(5) GENRE ON STRIKE. The call is out for authors and readers to join the HarperCollins picket line on December 16. (Via John Scalzi.)

(6) IN COLLABORATION. “I See, Therefore You Are: PW Talks with Robert Lanza and Nancy Kress”, a Publishers Weekly Q&A.

Scientist Lanza conveys his theory that “the universe springs from life, not the other way around” in Observer (Story Plant, Jan.), a thriller coauthored with Kress.

How did you come to develop your theory of biocentrism?

Lanza: It goes back to when I was a young boy, when I used to explore the forests of eastern Massachusetts. I was observing nature and pondering the larger existential questions, and it occurred to me that the static objective view of reality that I was being taught just wasn’t right. The Nobel Prize was just awarded just a few months ago to three gentlemen whose experiments showed that entangled particles change behavior depending on whether you look at them or not. Why? The answer is that that reality is a process that involves our consciousness.

How did this partnership begin?

Kress: Our agent put us together, because Bob, who’s published several nonfiction books on biocentrism, wanted to embody his ideas in a novel.
I was intrigued by the project from the very beginning because I have always thought that consciousness is woven into the universe. What we wanted to write together was about how these ideas might inform a possible future. And we worked until we got something we were both happy with….

(7) MEMORY LANE.

2019 [By Cat Eldridge.] Rudyard Kipling statue 

So today is we’re looking at a quite new statue, that  of Rudyard Kipling which unveiled in Burwash just three years ago. Kipling as you know did The Jungle Booksand The Just Stories, plus two true pieces of SF in his Aerial Board of Control series, With the Night Mail and As Easy as A.B.C.: a Tale of 2159 A.D.

The fully life-size figure which is located on High Street shows Kipling,  who lived in the village, sitting on a bench also cast in bronze. Burwash Parish Council commissioned the piece in 2018 and it was created by local sculptor Victoria Atkinson.

Atkinson researched Kipling using archives at Bateman’s,  the Jacobean house which was the home of Rudyard Kipling, and the National Portrait Gallery with the Kipling Society providing details such as Kipling’s height and hat and shoe size.  Of course she needed a live model to actually create the statue so she used one of her neighbors who wore a thick suit of the type favored by Kipling as a model to get the look and pose of Kipling right.

Oh the book underneath the bench? It’s The Just So Stories

It was actually, to keep costs down, cast in Athens, Greece.

Now comes a really cool thing. The unveiling took place on February 25, 2019. So who did the unveiling? Why it was Mike Kipling, grandson of Rudyard Kipling! 

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 7, 1915 Eli Wallach. I‘ve a fondness for anyone who appeared on the Sixties Batman series. He played Mr. Freeze in a two part story, the third actor to do as both George Sanders and Otto Preminger had done so in previous two part stories. He also had one-offs in Worlds BeyondAlfred Hitchcock PresentsVeritas: The Quest and Tales of the Unexpected. (Died 2014.)
  • Born December 7, 1923 Johnny Duncan. Was the Sixties Batman the first Batman series? You know better. Johnny here was Robin on Batman And Robin (1949) for Columbia Pictures Corporation. It ran for fifteen episodes of roughly fifteen or so minutes apiece. Robert Lowery was Wayne / Batman. He has only one other genre appearance, an uncredited one in Plan 9 from Outer Space as Second Stretcher Bearer. (Died 2016.)
  • Born December 7, 1915 Leigh Brackett. Let’s us praise her first for her Retro Hugo for Shadow Over Mars, originally published in the Fall 1944 issue of Startling Stories. Now surely her scripts for The Big Sleep and The Long Goodbye are genre adjacent? Ok, I’m stretching it, I know.  Ok, then her very pulpy Sea-Kings of Mars is? Being rhetorical there. And I love her Eric John Stark stories! (Much of these were written with her husband Edmond Hamilton.) She completed The Empire Strikes Back script for George Lucas just before she died, and although it did not become the final script many of its elements made it into the movie and she received credit along with Lawrence Kasdan. (Died 1978.)
  • Born December 7, 1945 W.D. Richter, 77. As a screenwriter, he was responsible for Invasion Of The Body Snatchers, Dracula, and Big Trouble In Little China, the latter one of my favorite popcorn films. As a director, he brought Late for Dinner and Buckaroo Banzai Across The 8th Dimension to us. He was also co-writer with Stephen King on the adaptation of King’s Needful Things novel to film.
  • Born December 7, 1949 Tom Waits, 73. He’s got uncredited (but obviously known) roles in Wolfen and The Fisher King. He is in Bram Stoker’s Dracula as R.M. Renfield, and he shows up in Mystery Men as Doc Heller and in Mr.Nick in The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. He’s simply Engineer in The Book of Eli
  • Born December 7, 1953 Madeleine E Robins, 69. I’m very fond of her Sarah Tolerance series which starts often Point of Honour, it features a female PI in an alternate version of Georgian London. The Stone War set in a post-apocalyptic NYC is quite interesting as well, and she has quite a bit short fiction, though only three have been collected so far in Lucstones: Three Tales of Meviel. Much of her fiction is available from the usual digital suspects.
  • Born December 7, 1973 Kelly Barnhill, 49. Her The Girl Who Drank the Moon novel was awarded the Newbery Medal and she was a McKnight Writing Fellow in Children’s Literature. Four years ago, her “Unlicensed Magician” novella received the World Fantasy Award for Long Fiction. Iron Hearted Violet was nominated as Andre Norton Award. 
  • Born December 8, 1979 Jennifer Carpenter, 43. Ok, usually I pay absolutely no attention to TV awards, but she got a nomination for her work as Emily Rose in The Exorcism of Emily Rose. It was the MTV Movie Award for Best Scared-As-Shit Performance. It later got renamed to Best Frightened Performance. She’s apparently only got two other genre credits, both voice work. One is as Black Widow in Avengers Confidential: Black Widow & Punisher which is a horridly-done anime film that I do not recommend; the other is as Selina Kyle aka Catwoman in Batman: Gotham by Gaslight, the animated version of the Mike Mignola Elseworld series which I strongly recommend. Possibly the Limitless series she was in is genre, possibly it isn’t…

(9) BRACKETT BIRTHDAY SUGGESTION. Bill Higgins— Beam Jockey – thinks this would be most appropriate.

(10) ENTERPRISING LAWYERS. This legal advertisement is making the rounds in social media.

Evidently the “Shaw-Louvois” firm name is appropriate for Trek because in the 1967 Original Series episode Court Martial Lt. Areel Shaw prosecutes Captain Kirk, and in ST:TNG Phillipa Louvois is a member of Starfleet’s Judge Advocate General branch who has to rule on the rights of Lt. Cmdr. Data in “The Measure of a Man.”

(11) CANCEL THOSE KILLER ROBOTS. Gizmodo reports “San Francisco Votes Down Killer Robots After Fierce Backlash”.

In a hasty retreat, San Francisco lawmakers have reversed a vote allowing local police to use remote-controlled robots equipped with lethal explosives in extreme situations. The move comes after a wave of backlash from the community and activist organizations.

San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors voted 8-3 Tuesday on a revised version of the policy, which now prohibits police from using robots to kill people. Tuesday’s vote was a surprise turn of events after the board approved the policy last week, including a clause allowing for the lethal bots. As reported by the San Francisco Chronicle, the board rarely changes its mind on second round votes, which are typically seen as formalities. However, since the first vote on Nov. 29, the policy has received a wide range of criticism both locally and nationally. Lawmakers will debate the issue for another week before voting on yet another version of the policy next week….

Cat Eldridge is skeptical: “So the Terminators lost this first skirmish against humanity. But to paraphrase Arnold‘s character in the first Terminator film, ‘They’ll be back.’” 

(12) GOOD LORD. “Figgy Pudding | SPAM® Brand”. Eh, so the main ingredient is still pork? Then shouldn’t this be Piggy Pudding?

(13) HOT DAGNABIT. Here’s an NPR segment and another article on this important topic: “Swear words across languages may have more in common than previously thought”.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

There’s a common trope in sci fi when characters curse.

RYAN MCKAY: I watched “Mork & Mindy” when I was growing up.

CHANG: That’s psychologist Ryan McKay. He’s, of course, talking about a sitcom that starred a young Robin Williams as an extraterrestrial named Mork.

MCKAY: He would often cry out shazbot when he would, you know, stub his toe or bang his head or something….

Inverse ran an article about the same study: “Scientists want to know why swear words share this one universal trait”. And unlike NPR, they didn’t bury the lede:

…Rather than present the perfect ingredients for a swear, this study identifies something that all swear words seem to lack. Across languages, swear words tend to exclude sounds like l, r, and w, known as approximants.

If you’re like me, then the first thing you did was scour your brain for exceptions to the rule (and “asshole” was the first one that came to mind, followed by “wanker”). This isn’t to say that swear words wholesale lack these phonemes, but statistically speaking, curses across different languages are less likely to contain approximants….

(14) THIRTY. Open Culture introduces “The 30 Greatest Films Ever Made: A Video Essay” by Lewis Bond from his Youtube channel The Cinema Cartography. Three genre films make Bond’s top 10.

… You may not feel exactly the same as Bond does about both My Dinner with Andre and the Lord of the Rings trilogy (a rare dual enthusiasm in any case), but seeing where he places them in relation to other movies can help to give you a sense of whether and how they could fit into your own personal canon — as well as the kind of context a film needs to earn its place…

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Via DUST, JJ Pollack’s sci-fi short film Jettison.

A restless young woman ships off to fight an interstellar war, only to struggle with the effects of being cut off from her home by both time and space.

(16) DEFINITELY NOT TODAY’S SCROLL TITLE. By Daniel Dern:

Scrollomon Grundry
Filed On Sunday
Posted On Monday
Notified On Tuesday
Clicked On Wednesday
Commented On Thursday
Fifth’ed On Friday
Stalked On Saturday
This is the lifecycle of
Scrollomon Grundy

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Daniel Dern, Soon Lee, Dann, 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 Jim Janney.]