Pixel Scroll 12/27/23 So Have You Looked Up And Seen How Pixels Twinkle Against The Midnight Sky? 

(1) UNFORSEEN INTERSECTION. Maya St. Clair draws a fascinating comparison between a current bestseller and Heinlein’s controversial classic in “Fourth Wing Review: Starship Troopers (for Girls!)”

…Criticisms of Starship Troopers’ themes, while hyperbolic, were not entirely off-base. In Heinlein’s world, the ideal military life is violent, abusive, and deindividualizing; death is and should be omnipresent at every stage of training. For example, there’s the basic training exercise in which

“… they dumped me down raw naked in a primitive area of the Canadian Rockies and I had to make my way forty miles through mountains. I made it [by killing rabbits and smearing fat and dirt on his body] … The others made it, too… all except two boys who died trying. Then we all went back into the mountains and spent thirteen days finding them…. We buried them with full honors to the strains of ‘This Land Is Ours’… They weren’t the first to die in training; they weren’t the last.”

Through the eyes of Johnnie, we experience an intensity of life that makes civilian existence seem anemic, even pathetic….

…With all that being said, it feels wrong to mention Fourth Wing in the same breath as Starship Troopers. Putting aside the fact that Fourth Wing is a poorly-written work whose prose has been critiqued to death by many people before me, the two books seem to represent opposing moments in publishing history. Heinlein, for all his faults, was writing “up” for an audience of teens, treating them as adults and including them in the sphere of “adult” science fiction, with complex worldbuilding and (relatively) sophisticated themes. Sixty years later, Fourth Wing and its team (author Rebecca Yarros and Entangled Publishing) represent a publishing world moving in the opposite direction: creating books for adults in an actively juvenile style, and cultivating an audience of adult readers who no longer demand that published books have good writing at all so long as they check necessary boxes of sensation and eroticism.

But thematically and content-wise, the two books are as close as one could possibly get. Fourth Wing, like Starship Troopers, sells a military coming-of-age story in which mass death is a part of the allure (“brutally addictive,” says the cover blurb). Someone on Reddit puts the death count of Fourth Wing at 222 cadets, plus an untold number of civilians — though it’s widely considered a “fluff” read. Its primary audience (and the primary audience of most mainstream fantasy now) is female, young, progressive, and would probably be aghast at being compared to grimdark bros, Heinlein apologists, or men in general. And yet here we all are, hooked on the same stuff….

(2) ICONIC LE GUIN COVER ART OFFERED. The estates of Carol Carr and her husband Robert Lichtman are in the news: “Original cover art for Le Guin sci-fi novel goes on sale” at Bay Area Reporter.

…First published in paperback by Ace Books, the novel sported cover art by award-winning artists and biracial couple Leo and Diane Dillon. Their painting featured profiles of the book’s protagonists in the left bottom corner looking off into the distance. Surrounding the pair is a blue and white celestial-like scene with what appears to be a brown planet and a spaceship hovering above.

(Leo Dillon, of Trinidadian descent, died in 2012. He was the first African American to win the prestigious Randolph Caldecott Medal for illustrators of children’s books, while the Dillons were the only consecutive winners of the award, having received the honor in 1976 and 1977.)

The Dillons’ original 17 and 1/4 by 13 inches acrylic painting is now being offered for sale for the first time at the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America global book fair taking place in San Francisco in early February. The asking price is $20,000.

“It is literally unique. This is it, the original and not a print,” said Mark Funke, a rare bookseller who lives in Mill Valley where his business is also located.

Scouting out shops in the East Bay several years ago looking for new material to sell, Funke had received a tip about the sale of various items from a home in the Oakland hills. It led him to receive an invite from the executor of the estate to come to the house.

To his amazement, Funke had stumbled onto the archives of three individuals involved in the world of science fiction writing. One was the late Terry Carr, an editor at Ace Books who published the works of Le Guin and other sci-fi authors and died in 1987. While most of Carr’s personal papers had gone to UC Riverside, Funke found several boxes still in the house and acquired them….

… Funke is now handling its sale on behalf of the Carr and Lichtman Estate. He will have it available on a first-come, first-served basis at his booth at the book fair.

“I am pricing it high for the artists but, I think, reasonable for it being Le Guin’s most famous novel. She won awards for it, and it ratcheted her up to the greats of science fiction,” said Funke. “It’s got very topical content; this idea of the planet Gethen and ambisexual individuals. I just think it is fascinating and a very active topic in today’s discussion.”

In a statement to the B.A.R. about the sale, the executor for the family estate said, “The Carr-Lichtman family has treasured this artwork for over 50 years and now it is time to find a new owner who will cherish this remarkable work of science fiction publishing history for the next 50 years.”…

(3) KORSHAK COLLECTION NEWS. The Korshak Collection announced on Facebook

We have partnered with the University of Delaware for an academic illustrated catalog of the Korshak Collection. We don’t want to give away all of our surprises, but the catalog will include a foreword by New York Times bestselling author Neil Gaiman and entry by Pulitzer prize winner author Michael Dirda, as well as an interview with the Hugo Award winning artist Michael Whelan. We are so grateful for this partnership and all of the outstanding contributions that have made this project possible.

(4) MCU UK. James Bacon recommends David Thorpe’s account of his time as a creator for Marvel UK: “In Review: The Secret Origin of Earth 616 By David Thorpe” at Downthetubes.net.

… This is a fascinating book, and, for Captain Britain fans, a definite buy. For comic fans interested in Marvel UK, of great interest. Yet it is also an excellent autobiography, a very readable and personal exploration of a comic fans desires, aspirations and progression to be a writer and an insight into how Marvel UK was, and offers real honesty when it comes to a comics career that took an interesting turn that saw David Thorpe’s work in the industry elsewhere. The story is brimful, and includes how another comic related moment saw him turn to a very successful career beyond comics, one that arguably has made a real difference to the world….

… David Thorpe came up with the concept of Earth 616, and he describes it as a Stan Lee styled “Hoo Boy” moment when he heard Mysterio say “This is Earth dimension 616. I’m from Earth 833.” to Spider-Man in Spider-Man: Far From Home and that is something that any comic reader can appreciate, many of whom have imagined themselves as writers….

(5) IN FELLOWSHIP THERE IS STRENGTH. “Board Game Cafe Workers Went on a Quest for a Union and Won” reports the New York Times.

A golden glow illuminated the employees huddled inside a Hex & Co. cafe on the Upper East Side, a haven created for board game enthusiasts to gather for fantastical quests.

Meticulous campaigns were second nature to these workers — how many times had they infiltrated an obsidian castle or vanquished a warlock? They had been immersed in this particular adventure for months, navigating a labyrinth governed by strict rules and made harrowing by unfamiliar tasks and tests. Now they gathered to plot their final triumph: unionization.

On that Tuesday in September, Hex & Co. workers confronted their bosses with a demand for recognition. Less than two months later, they voted to join Workers United, the same group that has been organizing workers at Starbucks stores across the United States. The workers at the three Hex & Co. locations across New York City were just the first employees of a board game cafe in the city to unionize. Workers at the Uncommons and the Brooklyn Strategist followed this month.

All the stores fall under the ownership of either Jon Freeman, Greg May or both, and they pleaded with their employees not to unionize, saying that a union would wipe out the “flexible and open-door atmosphere we have tried to foster.”

Teaching board games is a far cry from swinging a miner’s pick or working numbing hours on an assembly line. In fact, many of the cafe workers said they hung out at their workplaces in their off hours. But in the end, complaints over dollar-an-hour raises and bands of unruly children reigned: Among the 94 employees who voted, only 17 dissented….

…Only 10 percent of American wage and salary workers were union members in 2022, a historical low, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The food-service sector’s membership rate was less than 4 percent. But this fiscal year saw the most representation filings since 2015, according to the National Labor Relations Board.

Young workers “are willing to take risks, because they feel like their future is at stake,” said Kate Bronfenbrenner, the director of labor education research at Cornell University.

After slogging through a recession and a pandemic, many found themselves earning minimum wage while corporate profits soared, she said….

(6) AI AS SEEN BY THREE SFF AUTHORS. The River Cities’ Reader tells fans how to access the “Virtual Event: ‘Speculating Our AI Future,’” with Cory Doctorow, Ken Liu, and Martha Wells on January 11.

Designed for those fascinated by, or terrified about, the rise of artificial intelligence is invited to a January 11 virtual event hosted by the Rock Island and Silvis Public Libraries, when Illinois Libraries Present’s Speculating Our AI Future finds bestselling science-fiction writers Cory Doctorow, Ken Liu, and Martha Wells in discussion on the promise, perils, and possible impacts that AI will have on our future, as well as AI as portrayed in contemporary and future science-fiction writing.

The Speculating Our AI Future panel discussion with Corry Doctorow, Ken Liu, and Martha Wells will begin on January 11 at 7 p.m., participation in the virtual event is free, and more information is available by calling (309)732-7323 and visiting RockIslandLibrary.org, and calling (309)755-3393 and visiting SilvisLibrary.org.

Cory Doctorow, Ken Liu, Martha Wells.

(7) GRAPHIC EXAMPLES. Sam Thielman hits the high notes in a review of “The Year in Graphic Novels” for the New York Times.

Good graphic novels tend to appear in bookstores seemingly out of nowhere after years of rumors, scattershot serialization, “process” zines and snippets posted to social media. As literature, long-form comics are uniquely resistant to editing. As visual art, the cartoonist is in the weird position of having no access to the final product until it’s presented to the public. So it’s frankly miraculous when we get as many good comics as we do. This year there were remarkable new books from established masters and freshman graphic novels from brilliant young artists. Better still, a gratifyingly thick stratum of our 2023 stack was devoted to making us laugh. It’s a rich conversation, and one that promises to continue into next year and long beyond.

From the moment you open it, Daniel Clowes’s MONICA (Fantagraphics, 108 pp., $30) announces its ambition. Against the weird hellscape of its front endpapers, the title spread depicts the world at its lifeless, churning, brightly colored beginning. Then all of time (so far) goes by in a whoosh on the next two pages — the dinosaurs, Jesus, Hitler, Little Richard, Sputnik — alongside the copyright boilerplate and the names of the editors and publicist. In Clowes’s smooth lines and precise hues, the rest of the book borrows styles from war, horror and romance comics to tell the story of an ordinary woman trying to give her life some meaning. Is such a thing even possible? Could the attempt destroy everything?…

(8) EVA HAUSER (1954-2023). Past fan fund winner (GUFF) Eva Hauser died December 23 at the age of 69. Here is an excerpt from Jan Vaněk Jr.’s tribute on Facebook:

I am sad to announce that the 1992 GUFF delegate died on Friday 22nd. Eva Hauser[ová] travelled from Prague, still-Czechoslovakia to Syncon ’92 in Sydney, and then to Melbourne and back.

If you were there (despite the small attendance, the trip report reads like the Who Is Who of a golden age of the Australian fandom, and a testimony to their hospitality. Even though so much, and many, have already been lost in time, like tears in rain…), you may remember; and then you will understand why Eva is so much-lamented and widely eulogised from many different communities she was a part of….

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born December 27, 1951 Charles Band, 72. We have come tonight to honor a true film genius in Charles Band. He entered film production in the Seventies with Charles Band Productions. Dissatisfied with distributors’ handling of his movies, he formed his own company in the early Eighties. At its height, he would release an average of two films a month, one theatrically and one on home video. 

So what are you going to recognize out of his hundreds of films? 

Most of his films paid the cast next to nothing, were notoriously lax on safety measures according to State officials who fined him considerable amounts over the years and he paid screenwriters, well, guess. 

Trancers, also released as Future Cop, the first of a series, which I’ve seen and liked, had Tim Thomerson and Helen Hunt in the lead cast. Supposedly the detective here is homage to Bogart’s various detective roles.

As producer, he did Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn.  Richard Moll who is in the cast and he shaved his head for his role here. The Night Court producers liked the look for Moll, so he continued shaving his head for the show.

Now he also produced a lot of more frankly sleazy SF such as Slave Girls from Beyond InfinityGalactic Gigolo, and Space Sluts in the Slammer, and the post-apocalypse zombie films, Barbie & Kendra Save the Tiger King and Barbie & Kendra Storm Area 51

His autobiography has a title that’s every bit has as over the top as most of some of film titles are, Confessions of a Puppetmaster: A Hollywood Memoir of Ghouls, Guts, and Gonzo Filmmaking

One final note. His entire financial house of cards collapsed in the late Eighties and was seized by various banks who in turned sold the assets off to MGM, so you’re likely to see one of his films streaming just about anywhere these days. 

(10) STORIES YES AND NO. Rich Horton reaches back to 1970 to tell Black Gate readers about “No More Stories — The Capstone to Joanna Russ’s Alyx Sequence: ‘The Second Inquisition’”.

“No more stories.” So ends Joanna Russ’s great novelette “The Second Inquisition.” But in many ways the story is about stories — about how we use them to define ourselves, protect ourselves, understand ourselves. It’s also, in a curious way, about Joanna Russ’s stories, particularly those about Alyx, a woman rescued from drowning in classical times by the future Trans-Temporal Authority….

(11) CORE TELEVISION. [Item by Olav Rokne.] Now, I don’t agree with everything in this article (for one thing, Foundation is execrable.) But it is an interesting look at what Apple+ is doing in SFF and why so much of it works. “The Best Sci-Fi Shows of 2023 All of Have One Shocking Thing in Common” at Inverse.

For All Mankind isn’t the only sci-fi show pushing the limits of the genre on Tim Cook’s dime. The Apple CEO has been quietly funding some of the best science fiction TV in recent memory, ranging from the centuries-spanning Isaac Asimov adaptation Foundation to the mind-bending near-future of Severance to the globe-trotting Godzilla spinoff series Monarch: Legacy of Monsters — to name just a few.

And while it’s hard to say what exactly defines an Apple sci-fi show, Inverse spoke to several showrunners and producers who all agree the tech giant brings a unique, futurist perspective to the genre that — when combined with endless cash — helps explain why, all of a sudden, it seems like the best science fiction television is all coming from the same company that sold you your iPhone….

… One thing you can say about pretty much any show or movie on Apple TV+ is that it probably looks gorgeous. While many Netflix productions have a certain flatness to them that can make it feel like the streamer has been cutting corners, Apple is pouring a lot of money into the look (and star power) of its original series — it helps to have a trillion-dollar cash pile, even if Amazon and Disney are still outspending the MacBook maker….

(12) MARATHON FAN. SYFY Wire understandably wants us all to know “How to Watch SYFY’s Twilight Zone New Year’s Marathon 2023-2024”.

Just as you can count on our planet making a full rotation around the sun every 365 days or so, you can also rest assured that SYFY will use the key of imagination to unlock its annual New Year’s marathon of The Twilight Zone. The honored tradition of airing Rod Serling’s groundbreaking anthology series won’t be going anywhere anytime soon. In fact, the 2023-24 edition is super-sized, with the marathon spanning a total of three whole days — starting Saturday (December 30) and ending Tuesday (January 2).

Who needs to smooch someone at midnight when you’ve got Jason Foster (Robert Keith) teaching his wicked family members a lesson they’ll never forget in “The Masks”? Fittingly enough, the classic episode — which revolves around a collection of vain and greedy individuals ordered to wear hideous masks until the stroke of midnight — will air about 40 minutes before the ball drops. If someone offers you a grotesque party favor along with that glass of Champagne, you might want to turn it down….

(13) CHINA’S MIXED SIGNALS ON VIDEO GAME PLAYING. “Will China Ease Its New Video Game Controls? Investors Think So.” The New York Times says, “After a market rout, gaming companies like Tencent and Netease rally on signals that regulators might apply proposed curbs on users less harshly than feared.”

 …The events of the past several days underline the push-and-pull forces in Chinese policymaking. The country’s top leaders have acknowledged they need to stabilize the economy, which has been slow to recover from being virtually locked down during the Covid pandemic. But the government’s tight control of how companies do business continues to inject uncertainty into the markets.

China’s National Press and Publication Administration, which issues licenses to game publishers and oversees the industry, unveiled a proposal on Friday aimed at effectively reducing how much people spend playing games. The plan took the industry by surprise, and investors dumped tens of billions of dollars in company stock.

The regulator issued a statement on Saturday stressing that the draft rules aim to “promote the prosperity and healthy development of the industry,” and said it is “listening to more opinions comprehensively and improving regulations and provisions.”

Then on Monday, the agency announced that it had licensed about 100 new games, after licensing 40 others on Friday. And a semiofficial association affiliated with the agency said that the additional game approvals were “positive signals” that the agency supports the industry.

The new regulations would cap how much money users could spend within games on things like upgrading the features of characters or procuring virtual weapons or other things used by the characters. It would also ban rewards that companies use to entice players to return. The proposal did not specify a spending cap…..

… The industry is still reeling from earlier restrictions first imposed in 2019 aimed at what the government deemed was an online gaming addiction among minors, as well as a broader crackdown against tech companies. Regulators also stymied publishers by not issuing any new game licenses for an eight-month stretch that ended in April 2022….

(14) CHART YOUR COURSE. Archie’s Press offers interesting “Outer Space” prints.

Outer Space is so huge, there’s really no way to wrap your head around the entire thing. This makes it all make sense.

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Dann.] A tale of old Japan.  A tale as old as time.  A beleaguered hero looking to avenge past wrongs.  Western forces looking to control a local government.  A beauty of a beast.

When the culture and government deny any usual path to survival, much less happiness, our hero seeks unusual opportunities instead.  Learning the secrets of steel.  Surreptitiously learning the secrets of the sword.  All of them.

Eventually, our hero sets out on a path of vengeance leaving rivers of blood along the way.  Companions are found, whether or not our hero desires their companionship.

Each character is well-developed with unique strengths, flaws, and motivations.  Even the villains have a compelling story to tell.

Blue Eye Samurai is not to be missed.  And The Critical Drinker knows why.  Go watch the “The Drinker Recommends… Blue Eye Samurai”.

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

Pixel Scroll 11/13/23 Yesterday, Upon A Scroll, I Met A Pixel Who Wasn’t There

(1) MAYBE “COYOTE” ISN’T DEAD YET. “I’m feeling better!”Deadline reports “Coyote vs. Acme: Warner Bros Showing Pic to Amazon, Apple For Acquisition”.

Screenings are being set up this week for streamers Amazon Prime Video, Apple and Netflix to check out and potentially acquire Warner Bros‘ axed Looney Tunes movie Coyote vs. Acme after the studio’s phone ran off the hook the entire weekend from angry filmmakers and talent reps over their third feature film kill after Batgirl and Scoob Holiday Haunt!

The more egregious Hollywood sin with Coyote vs. Acme is that it’s a finished film was intended for a theatrical release, while the other two movies were still in the works.

Of those kicking the tires, even though no deals have been drafted, I hear Amazon is a leading contender given the fact that Courtenay Valenti, the Head of Film, Streaming and Theatrical for Amazon Studios and MGM, was a big champion and linchpin for the movie while she was President of Production and Development at Warner Bros. All of this boils down to Head of Amazon Studios Jen Salke’s signoff, I understand. During the pandemic, Prime Video acquired Sony’s family titles Hotel Transylvania 4 and Cinderella, among other movies. Amazon has been known to take finished films off the table for $100M and turn them into events for Prime Video….

(2) SFPA OFFICER ELECTION RESULTS. The Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association has tallied the votes and announced that starting January 1, 2024, John Philip Johnson will be SFPA Secretary and Jordan Hirsch will be SFPA Treasurer.

(3) ULTRAMAN ARRIVING IN 2024. “The First Ultraman: Rising Trailer Looks Incredible” says Yahoo!

Ultraman is one of Japan’s biggest superheroes – both figuratively and literally – but outside of Japan the hero’s popularity hasn’t quite hit fever pitch. Netflix’s newest film could change all that, if the first trailer for Ultraman: Rising is anything to go by, as it looks absolutely incredible.

Netflix released the first trailer for the CG animated film Ultraman: Rising last night, as part of its annual Geeked Week celebrations. The trailer shows off a rebooted Ultraman, a gigantic super-powered hero that’s the powered-up form of baseball superstar Ken Sato.

As the story goes, Ken comes back to Japan to take up his duties as the biggest superhero on the planet, promptly defeating a large, dragon-like kaiju. In the trailer, he retrieves a mysterious orb from the monster, only to discover it’s an egg — and it hatches into the child of his greatest foe…

(4) LEARNEDLEAGUE CALENDAR. [Item by David Goldfarb.] Here are LearnedLeague One-Day Special quizzes scheduled for 2024, that relate to SF and fantasy. Some are specifically SFF-related, some are genre-adjacent. I’ll list both.

SFF-related:

  • Spaceballs: The One-Day Special!  Jan 9
  • The Sandman  Jan 10
  • The X-Men   May 8
  • Folk Horror Films  May 13
  • Science Fiction Homeworlds  Jul 20
  • Mars in Popular Culture  Jul 23
  • Studio Ghibli  Jul 23
  • Faerie Tale Theatre  Aug 6
  • Brandon Sanderson’s Cosmere  Aug 7
  • Murderbot for Everyone  Aug 21
  • Elemental Masters (probably? Mercedes Lackey has a series with that title, but it could be about something else with a similar name)  Oct 7
  • The Silmarillion   Oct 10 (we’ve had 3 quizzes already about The Lord of the Rings, so now we move on to The Silmarillion)
  • Godzilla  Oct 14
  • Just Audio Horror Pairings  Oct 16
  • Jurassic Park  Oct 17
  • Just Images Portals  Oct 28
  • Romance Novels 3: Super Friendly Monsters  Oct 31
  • Science of Science Fiction 2  Nov 4
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation  Nov 7

Genre-Adjacent:

  • Polyamory  Jan 12
  • Video Game Weaponry  Jan 22
  • Homestuck  Feb 7
  • Year of the Dragon (possibly? not 100% clear what this one is about)  Feb 8
  • Secret Identities  Mar 25
  • DuckTales  Apr 9
  • Nanotechnology  Apr 10
  • Chemicals I Won’t Work With  Apr 13
  • Asteroids  Apr 15
  • Horror Hosts  Apr 15
  • Fictional Religions  May 15 (not clear how this will differ from Fictional Theology)
  • Science Theater  Jul 15
  • Tintin Comics  Jul 18
  • Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall Trilogy  Oct 10
  • Mercury 7 Astronauts  Nov 7

I’m particularly looking forward to Cosmere, Homeworlds, Murderbot, and Science of SF. (I was part of a 10-way tie for champion of the first “Science of Science Fiction” quiz.)

(5) WHO MAY GIVE YOUNG VIEWERS THE CREEPS? “Doctor Who showrunner Russell T Davies issues warning to parents ahead of anniversary specials” and The Independent boosts the signal.

Doctor Who’s returning showrunner Russell T Davies has issued a warning to parents about “dark” and “violent” content in the show’s forthcoming episodes.

… Of the three episodes, series opener The Star Beast, which airs on 25 November and centres on a furry creature called a Meep (voiced by Miriam Margolyes), is the most child-friendly, Davies explained.

“It is like a great big Pixar family film, like a bank holiday film – all the family watching, lots of laughs, a funny monster,” he said.

However, the following two episodes will not be appropriate for children, Davies warned. “The second one, Wild Blue Yonder, is darker. Not scary – it’s genuinely weird,” he said.

“We do very scary stuff. Some stuff is quite violent. It’s not for children, it’s about children.”…

(6) LOKI SEASON 2 BOX SCORE. Deadline has the viewership numbers: “’Loki’ Season 2 Finale Pulls In 11.2M Views, +3% From Opener”.

Marvel Studios’ season 2 finale of Loki went out with a blast attracting 11.2M global views over three-days, which is +3% from the season 2 first episode 3-day draw of 10.9M.

Loki‘s season 2 kickoff was the second most-watched season premiere this year on Disney+, behind March’s season 3 premiere of The Mandalorian.

The finale of the Marvel Studios series—which concluded last Thursday—was only behind the season three finale of The Mandalorian, which wrapped up its season in April….

(7) OUROBOROS Q&A. “Ke Huy Quan Discusses Loki Season 2 Finale & His Marvel Entry” at Deadline. Beware spoilers.

DEADLINE: It’s so great to get to talk with you about Loki. You haven’t really been able to talk about your role, due to the actors strike. What have you been waiting to say?

KE HUY QUAN: When I decided to become an actor again, [being part of the MCU] was at the top of my wishlist…They all welcomed me with wide open arms, and I was so happy. I was patiently waiting for the show to come out so we can go and celebrate it and tell the fans. Then, of course, the strike happened. I just want to tell everybody how proud of the show I am. How happy I am with it. And working with Tom Hiddleston, Owen Wilson, the entire Loki family has just been incredible. We made this last year in London. I was there for four months, my wife and I were there. It was one of the best four months of my life. I’ve done a few shows before, and this was the first time where I didn’t want it to end. I was so happy. In fact, I’ll tell you this. We were scheduled for reshoots this February, and I was waiting. My wife and I were looking forward to spending more time in London and with our Loki family. And all of a sudden we were told, ‘Oh, we don’t need any reshoots. It’s all good.’ I was kind of disappointed. I was actually disappointed that we didn’t get to go back because of how much fun we had… So we made history. We make history two times. One is the first series of Marvel getting a second season and the second is the first time a Marvel show didn’t have any reshoots. I’m so proud of that….

(8) MICHAEL BISHOP (1945-2023). Beloved sff author Michael Bishop died November 13, the day following his 78th birthday, after a prolonged stay in hospice care. His daughter made the announcement on Facebook.

…It is with great sadness (and yet relief for my dad) that I post with the news that Daddy breathed his last breath early this morning with my mom by his side. He is at peace and free from pain AND we miss him terribly already….

He made such an immediate and strong impression on the field that he was presented DeepSouthCon’s Phoenix Award for lifetime achievement in 1977, less than a decade after his first work was published.

By the time his career was over, Bishop was a 17-time Nebula finalist, winning Best Novelette for “The Quickening” in 1982 and Best novel for No Enemy But Time in 1983. He was also a 9-time Hugo finalist, though never won.

His versatility was proven by the other awards he received. His short story “The Pile” won a 2009 Shirley Jackson Award. His novel Unicorn Mountain won the Mythopoeic Award for Best Fantasy in 1989. His poem “For the Lady of a Physicist” won a 1979 Rhysling Award. He was also a four-time Locus Award winner.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 13, 1850 Robert Louis Stevenson. Author of Treasure IslandStrange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and the New Arabian Nights collection of short stories.  Internet Movie Database gives over three hundred productions that have been based off of his works. What are your favorite ones? And I’m not even going to get into the deeps of genre fiction based off just the Strange Case of Dr Jekyll as I know Theodora Goss was making use of that story in one of her series and Simon R. Green had Hydes in his Nightside series. Not to mention Bugs Bunny… (Died 1894.)
  • Born November 13, 1887 A. R. Tilburne. Pulp artist who by 1938 was selling cover illustrations to Short Stories and Weird Tales such as the November 1938 issue of the latter, and in the 1940s he also drew many interior story illustrations for Weird Tales. In 1947 he painted the cover for H. P. Lovecraft’s The Lurking Fear, published by Avon paperback books. (Died 1965.)
  • Born November 13, 1888 Philip Francis Nowlan. He’s best known as the creator of Buck Rogers. While working in Philadelphia, he created and wrote the Buck Rogers comic strip, illustrated by Dick Calkins. Philip Nowlan working for the syndicate John F. Dille Company, later known as the National Newspaper Service syndicate, was contracted to adapt the story into a comic strip. The Buck Rogers strip made its first newspaper appearance on January 7, 1929, but the first appearance of “Anthony Rogers” was actually in Amazing Stories in August of 1928 in the “Armageddon—2419 A. D.” Story there with cover illustration by Frank R. Paul. (Died 1940.)
  • Born November 13, 1945 Pierre Pelot, 78. A French writer who wrote fourteen science fiction novels and seven horror novels including space operas. Only But What If Butterflies Cheat? (its English translation title) is available in English so far. It’s part of the might exist The Child Who Walked on the Sky / But What If Butterflies Cheat? omnibus as I failed to find it anywhere including Amazon and any of the places that resell books online. He was nominated for a dozen Grand Prix de l’Imaginaire Awards winning two. 
  • Born November 13, 1955 Brenda Clough, 68. She was nominated for a Hugo at ConJosé for her “May Be Some Time” novella. I’m very fond of her fantasy Averidan series. Though very much not genre, I recommend her A Most Dangerous Woman, a sequel to The Woman in White by Wilkie Collin. It’s a serial on Realm which you can find at the usual suspects. 
  • Born November 13, 1957 Stephen Baxter, 66. Ok I’m going to confess that the only thing I’ve read that he’s written is the Long Earth series with Terry Pratchett.  I’ve only read the first three but they are quite great SF!  Ok I really, really need your help to figure out what else of his that I should consider reading.  To say he’s been a prolific writer is somewhat of an understatement and he’s gotten a bonnie bunch of awards as well though no Hugos.  It’s worth noting that Baxter’s story “Last Contact” was nominated for a Hugo for best short story at Denvention 3 as were The Time Ships as L.A. Con III, “Moon Six” novellette at BucConeer, “On the Orion Line” novellette  and “The Gravity Mine” short story at the Millennium Philcon, and finally “The Ghost Pit” short story at ConJosé.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Speed Bump checks the shelves of an interesting library.
  • Thatababy has a strange way of getting rid of autumn leaves.
  • Wallace the Brave gives a teacher a novel excuse.
  • Tom Gauld made a design with you in mind.

(11) HORRENDOUS PROBLEMS IN IRON FLAME PRINT BOOKS. Publishers Lunch learned that “Entangled Is Working On A Solution to ‘Iron Flame’ Misprints”.

Entangled Publishing said in a statement that it’s working to correct misprints in the new Rebecca Yarros novel Iron Flame that published on November 7. Entangled reportedly indicated the book sold more than half a million copies on its release day, and some of the copies had irregularities including damaged pages, missing pages, upside down pages, and more, which readers catalogued on TikTok.

In a statement to Variety, the company acknowledged that the misprints “have caused disappointment among those who eagerly awaited this release.” They write, “In keeping with our values of quality and responsibility, we are committed to making this right. We are actively working with our distribution partner to create a solution for those who wish to exchange their copy but are unable to do so at their original retailer. Our printing company is also working to produce the additional copies needed to facilitate this process. Entangled Publishing appreciates the patience and support of our readers as we work to swiftly resolve this issue. More details will be available on our social media platforms in the coming weeks.”

(12) AI COPYRIGHT LAWSUIT NEWS. Publishers Weekly reports“Judge Will Toss Part of Authors’ AI Copyright Lawsuit”.

At a hearing last week, a federal judge said that he will dismiss part of the lawsuit filed by a group of authors including comedian Sarah Silverman that claims Meta’s Llama AI application infringes their copyrights.

According to Reuters, judge Vince Chhabria said the authors’ allegations that text generated by Llama infringes their copyrights simply doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. “When I make a query of Llama, I’m not asking for a copy of Sarah Silverman’s book—I’m not even asking for an excerpt,” Chhabria observed, noting that, under the authors’ theory, a side-by-side comparison of text generated by the AI application and Silverman’s book would have to show they are similar.

However, the judge said he will not dismiss the case with prejudice, meaning the authors will be allowed to amend and refile their claims. Furthermore, a core claim of the suit—that Meta’s use of unauthorized copies to train its AI model is infringing—remains.

The judge’s decision was not unexpected. As PW reported in July, multiple lawyers said that the authors’ copyright claims face long odds in court.

The proposed class action suit before Chhabria was filed on July 7 by the Joseph Saveri Law Firm on behalf of authors Christopher Golden, Richard Kadrey, and comedian Sarah Silverman, just days after the Saveri firm filed a similar suit on behalf of authors against Open AI, with authors Paul Tremblay and Mona Awad as named plaintiffs (though Awad has since withdrawn). A third group of authors represented by another firm (with authors including Michael Chabon, David Henry Hwang, Matthew Klam, Rachel Louise Snyder, and Ayelet Waldman among others) filed a lawsuit in August….

(13) TOY-BASED MOVIE GETTING ANOTHER CHANCE. “‘Masters of the Universe’ Movie Eyes New Home at Amazon” reports Variety.

In “Masters of the Universe,” He-Man’s nemesis is the evil wizard Skeletor. In Hollywood, his greatest threat has been a list of studio partners that have sidelined him from the big screen for nearly two decades. 

The blond barbarian, based on a popular set of Mattel toys, may finally win the day. Amazon MGM Studios is in serious talks to mount a live-action “Masters of the Universe” movie from Adam and Aaron Nee, the writing and directing team behind “The Lost City,” according to multiple insiders. Conversations are taking place with Amazon after Netflix dropped a planned version of the Nee brothers film in July….

(14) TERMINATOR BEGINS AGAIN. Yahoo! says“Terminator is back with a new anime series coming to Netflix”.

Netflix is giving the Terminator franchise the anime treatment in a new series that’s set to hit the streaming platform “soon.” The company dropped the first teaser for Terminator: The Anime Series this weekend during its Geeked Week event. Details so far are scant, but we do know it’ll be produced by Production IG, the Japanese animation studio behind the original Ghost in the Shell movie and spinoff TV series.

Terminator: The Anime Series will take us back to August 1997, when the Skynet AI becomes self-aware and turns against humans. While there is no information on the cast just yet, Variety reports the series will feature entirely new characters….

(15) THESE GHOSTS ARE ON THE CASE. Variety is there when “’Dead Boy Detectives’ Netflix Series Drops First Trailer”.

The “Dead Boy Detectives” series is officially set to air on Netflix after originally being set up at Max.

The show, based on characters created for DC by Neil Gaiman and Matt Wagner, was originally ordered to series at Max back in April 2022. However, it was reported earlier this year that it would be moving to Netflix due to the fact it did not fit the new direction for Max-DC content being spearheaded by James Gunn and Peter Safran.

The official description for the eight-episode series states, “Do you have a pesky ghost haunting you? Has a demon stolen your core memories? You may want to ring the Dead Boy Detectives. Meet Edwin Payne (George Rexstrew) and Charles Rowland (Jayden Revri), ‘the brains’ and ‘the brawn’ behind the Dead Boy Detectives agency. Teenagers born decades apart who find each other only in death, Edwin and Charles are best friends and ghosts… who solve mysteries….

(16) MOON UNIT. “Rebel Moon Trailer: Part One A Child of Fire Kicks Off Zack Snyder Epic”Variety provides the introduction.

Netflix has debuted an explosive new trailer for Zack Snyder‘s “Rebel Moon – Part One: A Child of Fire,” set for a limited one-week theatrical release on Dec. 15 and a wide streaming release on Netflix on Dec. 22.

Snyder’s epic space adventure film stars Sofia Boutella, Ed Skrein, Cleopatra Coleman and Cary Elwes. The story centers on a young woman living on the outskirts of a galaxy who must find a group of warriors to save the galaxy from an invasion from a tyrant. Snyder revealed to Total Film that “Rebel Moon” takes place in the same universe as another Netflix film of his, “Army of the Dead,” though one is set in outer space and the other in apocalyptic Las Vegas….

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

Pixel Scroll 11/11/23 Thanks To His Repellatron Skyway, Tom Swift Always Takes The High Road

(1) BESTSELLING WRITERS WILL OPEN BOOKSTORE. [Item by Anne Marble.] Brian Keene and Mary SanGiovanni are opening an indie bookstore in the historic district of Columbia, Pennsylvania. They’re planning to open it in the spring of 2024. They were inspired by indie bookstores such as Mysterious Galaxy, Dark Delicacies, etc.

Brian Keene and Mary SanGiovanni

Here’s their announcement: “New Brick and Mortar Bookstore”.

At the respective ages of fifty-six and forty (mumbles incoherently), Mary and I are planning for our golden years. We have seen too many of our peers struggling to write in their later years, and dependent upon those advances and royalties from book sales. It’s a sobering and frightening prospect, and we’d like a different future, with a second revenue stream so that we can continue to write in our old age….

…We are opening an independent bookstore specializing in Horror, Science-Fiction, Fantasy, Bizarro, and other speculative fiction genres.

Vortex Books & Comics will open Spring of 2024 in the historic district of beautiful Columbia, Pennsylvania — easily and quickly accessible from Baltimore, Philadelphia, Harrisburg, New York City, Washington D.C. and more. We’ll carry a full complement of books from the Big Five, as well as hundreds of books from many cool indie publishers and small presses, and titles in Espanol and other languages. We’ll host weekly signings, readings, workshops, and other events. We know this business, and are intimately familiar with its ups and downs, ebbs and flows. Our goal is to make the store a destination. As our record for the last 30 years shows, we believe that Horror fiction is for everyone, and Vortex will echo that. All are welcome, and all will have a place on our shelves….

And for everyone in the community who wants to help, there’s a GoFundMe: “Brian Keene and Mary SanGiovanni’s Bookstore”.

…If you would like to show your solidarity and support with a donation, it will be put toward further set-up costs such as fixtures, security, inventory, marketing and advertising, signage, etc. thus giving us a bit of breathing room and time to make the store profitable….

(2) AI IN TIMES TO COME. [Item by Cliff.] Very interesting take on ‘AI’ from a number of authors. Two of them reference Italo Calvino, who I guess was ahead of his time in dwelling on this subject.“’It is a beast that needs to be tamed’: leading novelists on how AI could rewrite the future” in the Guardian.

Bernardine Evaristo

… Imagine a future where those who are most adept at getting AI to write creatively will dominate, while we writers who spend a lifetime devoted to our craft are sidelined. OK, this is a worst‑case scenario, but we have to consider it, because ChatGPT and the other Large Language Models (LLMs) out there have been programmed to imagine a future that threatens many creative professions. ChatGPT is already responding to the questions I ask it in seconds, quite reliably. It is an impressive beast, but one that needs to be tamed. We cannot afford to ignore it…

(3) CUT! The Hugo Book Club Blog argues against ratification of two new Hugo categories which received first passage at the Chengdu Worldcon business meeting: “Hugo Book Club Blog: Indie Cinema And The Hugo Of Doom”.

At the 2023 WSFS Business Meeting, a constitutional amendment was passed that would (if ratified at the 2024 Business Meeting) add two new categories to the already long list of Hugo Awards: Best Independent Short Film and Best Independent Feature Film.

The beauty and diversity of global cinema and of independent film is something that should be more celebrated at the Hugo Awards. But despite our love of independent SFF cinema, we are firmly opposed to the creation of a secondary award for a specific type of movie.

… In recent years, sub-par corporate works such as The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and Avengers Endgame have received Hugo nods ahead of significantly better independent and foreign movies such as Robot & Frank and Prospect. That does point to problems with the category. But the solution is advocacy. People who care about independent cinema should be working to encourage Hugo voters to check out a wider variety of films, and then giving them the time to watch those movies by WSFS extension of eligibility under rule 3.4.3.

Over the past four years, we have filed extension of eligibility motions (allowing a longer time for Hugo voters to consider nominating) on lower-budget SFF movies like After YangStrawberry MansionNeptune FrostMad GodNine DaysBeyond The Infinite Two MinutesPsycho GoremanThe Color Out Of Space, and Prospect. We are passionate about celebrating and promoting independent SFF movies. However, we do not think that the best way to recognize that is with the creation of new Hugo Award categories, seemingly based on how much money a film makes.

There are a number of problems with the idea of a Hugo Award for independent cinema. The first and most significant to us is that creating these categories positions independent cinema as something other than “real” movies…

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

Southern Weekly article

This is a long piece – which can also be found in truncated form here, and partially behind a login barrier here – covering a number of aspects of the convention.  There are some factual errors – for example, stating that the first Worldcon took place in Chicago – but overall it is the most thorough coverage of the con that I’ve seen from a media outlet.

Following are several extracts, via Google Translate with manual edits to the text for style and grammar.  I have reordered and grouped chunks of the text, in order to put related material together.  Note: 南方周末 literally translates as “Southern Weekend”, but images on that page show that they use the English name “Southern Weekly”, so I’ve tried to update all references from the former to the latter.

On the location and date of the con:

The Chengdu Science Fiction Museum, the main venue of the 81st World Science Fiction Convention, is located in the center of a two-kilometer radius area called “Science Fiction Avenue”. When Chengdu’s bid to host the event was successful two years ago, it was still a wilderness. This plot of land in Pidu District, Chengdu, which was originally planned as a “Science and Technology Museum”, was quickly upgraded to become a “Science Fiction Museum”…

It’s already chilly in Chengdu in late October, and the summer vacation period for students is long past. When Chengdu applied to host the World Science Fiction Convention in 2021, many student science fiction fans spent money – around 600 yuan [$80 USD] – to register as members of DisCon III, in order to vote for Chengdu [in site selection], with the expectation that they would attend the science fiction event during their summer vacation…

Co-chair Chen Shi comments:

[Note: He also uses the English name Raistlin Chen – as seen on the video wall at the ceremonies – but most English language material, such as the staff page on the con’s site, uses Chen Shi, so I’ve kept with that.

Pretty much all coverage of the con describes him – and the other members of the concom – as members of the “Chengdu Science Fiction Society” (examples: 12), but an archived copy of the original “Worldcon in China” website shows that he is/was a marketing director at the Chengdu Business Daily news organization, and that several other members of the bid/con team are/were also employees of that company.  Whether people will feel that this context is relevant, YMMV…]

“Its charm is that it is a spirit based on a community of creators. Everyone is both a participant and a creator. This is something given to it by cultural tradition and cannot be replaced or copied casually,” convention co-chair Chen Shi told Southern Weekly reporters…

Chen Shi had also applied for a panel at Chi-Con 8. “I just filled in a form, and the organizing committee told me when and where it would take place. You can just do it yourself, and they won’t bother you,” Chen Shi said.  “Given China’s cultural background, this may not be suitable.”

“The foreign World Science Fiction Convention is very attractive to the fantasy fandom, but within the fandom, their core membership is around 20,000 people. The number of people who come every year does not change much, and it has formed its own community culture. There is a cultural threshold you have to pass in order to enter that community. If we were to completely copy that, it might be very miserable…” When Chen Shi first thought about what kind of World Science Fiction Convention he would hold, he had already decided to take a different path.

[Question: when Chen Shi and/or the Chengdu team were doing presentations at other events, was there any indication that “he had already decided to take a different path”, or what that path might be?]

On the exhibition areas and panels:

The two large halls on the first floor are the divided into the commercial exhibitors, and the science fiction fan tables. Most of the dozens of booths in the corporate exhibition hall are Chinese companies. Some sell science fiction cultural creations, some make projections, and more are engaged in science fiction publishing. The sound and light effects of their booths are eye-catching, which clearly differs from the adjacent fan exhibition area. The corporate exhibition hall is something that has never been seen in previous Worldcons. The support of the government, the participation of enterprises, and the brand promotion of a large number of sponsors have given the event more forms and commercial value.

Compared with the coolness of the corporate exhibition area, the science fiction fan exhibition area looks much simpler.  A table, a flag, an introduction card or a QR code. They come from university clubs, foreign science fiction organizations, and unknown amateur authors… It’s a bit like a recruitment fair for university clubs. On the table of the Tibetan science fiction club, there are Tibetan science fiction works that have been published over the years. A young Tibetan man patiently introduces the history of Tibetan science fiction to curious onlookers. This kind of atmosphere is more like the previous World Science Fiction Conventions. Science fiction literature research scholar Arthur Liu attended the 2019 Dublin Worldcon, and recalls that the atmosphere there was “free and easy”…

There were more than 400 panels registered for the Chengdu World Science Fiction Convention, and more than 230 panels were eventually held…  This time, the Chengdu Organizing Committee invited a total of more than 600 guests, including more than 180 overseas guests – of whom more than 150 people were present at the con – who formed the bulk of the panellists.

On the WSFS Business Meeting:

But old science fiction fans all know that “only by attending business meetings can you have a deep understanding of the organization and participation methods of the World Science Fiction Association and the World Science Fiction Convention, and you will feel some interesting things,” Chen Shi said.

If you have personally experienced the process and debate of the business meeting, it is not difficult to understand why the fandom circle calls this meeting the “Constitutional Amendment Conference.” The business meetings of the Chengdu Worldcon are held in the Meteor Hall of the Science Fiction Hall, which is a small hall independent of the main building. People with [a WSFS] membership can enter to listen, express opinions and vote at any time. …

Comment: regarding “a small hall independent of the main building”, comments I have seen from a couple of different people indicated that it had inaccessibility issues not that far from “Beware of the Leopard” levels.  Certainly, I could never find any reference to the “Meteor Hall” on any of the several interior and exterior maps of the con that came into my possession.  (Anyone who did attend the Business Meetings, please correct me if my impression is incorrect.)

On organizational hassles for smaller entities:

It is not easy for publishers participating in the exhibition to sign and sell their books at this venue.

Xixi (pseudonym) is an editor at a publishing house. This time he brought an author’s science fiction novel to Chengdu and planned a panel. He hoped that science fiction fans could have a good chat with the author themselves, and hold a book signing.  Xixi initially communicated the entire process to the organizing committee, but a few days before the opening, he received a notice that the panel could not be placed together with the signing session. “In normal book fairs, there are book signings after the interaction between authors and readers, but here the two events must be separated in both time and location,” Xixi said. This means that readers who are interested in the author would have to make two trips to get a signed copy.

On the corporate/commercial aspects of the con:

There are various panels, forums, and summits at the World Science Fiction Convention, but in addition to the opening and closing ceremonies and the Hugo Award presentation night, there was also an “Industrial Development Summit”. Almost all the major guests were invited to attend this summit, and the lineup was comparable to the Hugo Awards night.

This was the first time an industry development-related conference has been held at the World Science Fiction Convention. At the meeting, a number of plans related to the development of the science fiction industry were announced, including the “Chengdu Consensus on the Science Fiction Industry”, the Tianwen Program, the “2023 China Chengdu Science Fiction Industry Report”, and there was even a centralized signing ceremony for science fiction industry projects. According to reports, there were 21 signed projects, with a total investment of 8 billion yuan [approx $1 billion USD].

At this “Industrial Development Summit”, Liu Cixin no longer talked about literature, but talked about industrial development: “Chengdu has long planned the layout of the science fiction industry, and related industrial plans, industrial policies, talent policies, etc. have been implemented.”

“Science fiction full industry chain ecosystem”, “IP creation” and “strengthening the image of the science fiction city”: faced with these various new words, Canadian science fiction writer Robert Sawyer said, “I am very shocked to see you turning science fiction into an industry.”  He said that in North America those who do these things may be publishers, and that science fiction is a career that is random, aimless, and without long-term planning. These industry figures were generally not invited to previous World Science Fiction Conventions, and most of the people who came were writers and editors.

The area where the Chengdu Science Fiction Museum is located will also be turned into the science fiction hub of Chengdu.  According to a person close to the local government, we were told that a science fiction industrial park may be built here in the future. “That street is a science fiction themed block, and science fiction companies may move in in the future. This area is said to be a science fiction education base; there will be training camps for science fiction writers, and summer camps for students every year, and the science fiction museum itself is a large-scale consumer and public welfare space. This area will be built into a science fiction themed tourist destination.” …

On how the more traditional aspects of Worldcons fared:

Previous conventions would set up a memorial area, which is a place for middle-aged and elderly science fiction fans to reminisce and reminisce about the past.  In 2017, the British science fiction writer Brian Aldiss [who had previously visited Chengdu, and has several works published in China] passed away. There was a small space at the World Science Fiction Convention that year, displaying his works, and photos from his life, as well as some of his treasure possessions, and a black and white TV playing back interviews with him. In 2023, Aldiss’ daughter Wendy had also come to Chengdu. She told our reporters that the Chengdu Worldcon was originally going to hold an exhibition for those photos, but it was not possible “because of a lack of space.” …

[Double Hugo finalist, CEO of the publisher 8 Light Minutes, and member of the Chengdu concom] Yang Feng originally planned to stage a commemorative exhibition at the convention, in honour of Mike Resnick, the former editor-in-chief of the American science fiction magazine “Galaxy’s Edge”.  After Resnick’s death in 2020, his collection and books were put up for online auction, and 8 Light Minutes bought a large number of items. “Look, this is full of his things,” said Yang Feng, pointing to a glass cabinet.  Initially, the organizers promised an exhibition area of 70 square meters. Worried about missing out, “thousands of yuan [was spent] on freight shipping” the collected items.  However, the exhibition area ended up being occupied by several technology companies, and Yang Feng was only given a glass cabinet.

Fans and authors talk about the changes and clashes in culture at this Worldcon:

In the midst of this sea of noise, a man was dozing on a chair. He had white hair, a cowboy hat on the table, and his eyes were lowered, as if he had entered another world. His name was James Joseph [Styles], and he had come from Australia. He is in his seventies and has been a science fiction fan for nearly fifty years. In 1975, the World Science Fiction Convention was held in Oceania for the first time. He was moved by the atmosphere of science fiction and has attended Worldcons 15 times to date.

James told us that this convention is the most special one he has ever been to. He had never seen so many enthusiastic and young science fiction fans [when he attended cons] in Europe or the United States before…

… Wang Jinkang, another science fiction writer who has stopped writing, also recalled the low ebb of Chinese science fiction in the 1990s. “At that time, Chinese science fiction was wild, and received little attention from society. However, there were also many science fiction fans. When we went to universities to participate in activities, they all I used chalk to write ‘Welcome Mr. Wang Jinkang’ on the blackboard, and that’s how we started to communicate. The simplicity back then had its charm, and I still miss it very much. It is indeed different now.”

“You can vaguely feel a conflict between [different] science fiction cultures in the convention venue,” Zero Gravity News co-editor Ling Shizhen told Southern Weekly reporters, “but I don’t think this is really a conflict. Whether things are harmful or meaningless, this is a necessary process.  If you want to embrace a truly diverse world, this step cannot be escaped.”

Outside of the above extracts, a number of people familiar to Filers, such as Ben Yalow, Kevin Standlee, Donald Eastlake, and Nicholas Whyte are namechecked or interviewed.

(5) HUNGARIAN POLITICAL EFFORTS TO LIMIT LGBTQ BOOKS AND MEDIA. The New York Times tells how “Restrictions on L.G.B.T.Q. Depictions Rattle Hungary’s Cultural World”.

When a far-right member of Hungary’s Parliament invited the media three years ago to watch her shred a book of fairy tales that included a gay Cinderella, only one reporter showed up.

But what began as lonely, crank campaign against “homosexual propaganda” by a fringe nationalist legislator, Dora Duro, has snowballed into a national movement led by the government to restrict depictions of gay and transgender people in Hungary.

The campaign has unsettled booksellers, who have been ordered to shrink-wrap works that “popularize homosexuality” to prevent young readers from browsing, and also rattled one of Hungary’s premier cultural institutions.

The director of the Hungarian National Museum was fired this past week for hosting an exhibition of news photographs, a few of which featured men in women’s clothing, and for suggesting that his staff had no legal right to check whether visitors were at least 18 years old.

The exhibition displayed scores of photos awarded prizes by the World Press Photo Foundation in Amsterdam and had been running for weeks before Ms. Duro went to take a look with a friend and noticed a handful of images showing older gay men in the Philippines that were shot on assignment for The New York Times.

Also upset by explanatory texts that she believed were “indoctrinating” young visitors, she wrote a letter to Hungary’s culture minister, Janos Csak, complaining that photos of men wearing high heels and lipstick violated a Hungarian law that bans the display to minors of content deemed to promote homosexuality or gender fluidity.

The minister ordered the museum to bar anyone under 18 from attending the exhibition.

Tamas Revesz, a Hungarian photographer who has organized the annual show for more than 30 years, said he was aghast to arrive at the museum to find signs at the entrance restricting entry to adults “as if this place were a porn shop.”…

… Hannah Reyes Morales, who took the photographs at the center of the museum furor while on assignment for The New York Times and won a World Press Photo award, said her pictures of a Manila community called Golden Gays “are not dangerous or harmful” but portrayed “warm, kind and loving human beings.”

She said she was “saddened that their story is being kept in a shadow, echoing much of the oppression that the Golden Gays have had to live through over the years.”…

(6) DON’T SAY GAY-LICK. [Item by Anne Marble.] Have you seen this article about the use and abuse of Scottish Gaelic in Fourth Wing? (The article also mentions Holly Black and Sarah J. Maas.) It’s an interesting point — language is more political than people realize. At the same time, with all those Gaelic fantasies out there, I also wonder how many other authors got it wrong and weren’t called out in it. Hmm… “Reader Frustrated Over ‘Fourth Wing’s Gaelic” at The Mary Sue.

Over the summer, Scottish BookToker Muireann went viral on Tiktok for sharing the Scottish Gaelic pronunciation of words from the bestselling adult fantasy novel Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros. While she offered mild criticism of the book’s grammatical errors, Muireann spoke out again following a viral interview of Yarros at New York Comic-Con….

…Story-wise, Muireann expressed praise and excitement to see where the series goes. However, regarding the use of Scottish Gaelic, she had mixed feelings. Without spoiling anything, Muireann gave translations and best guesses on non-Gaelic words that looked to be fused with Gaelic ones. It was here she found missing accent marks and misspellings. Also, she found words in the book that, in Gaelic, would be two or three words instead of one. Many commenters appreciated the information and pointed to how different the audiobook was from actual Gaelic.

Muireann said it was cool for the language to be represented in such a popular book. She feels that other Celtic languages like Irish/Gaeilge (what Scots call Irish Gaelic) are more common in contemporary fantasy. Still, she put the onus on the publisher for not hiring a language consultant. That grace dropped off when Muireann heard Yarros speaking about the book.

“It is genuinely laughable to me that American fantasy authors can get away with this. They can use minority languages in such a disrespectful way. They’re just pronouncing them like English speakers. She’s just sprinkling Gaelic words in there to add a bit of spice to her fancy book.”

Veronica Valencia interviewed Rebecca Yarros for Popverse at NYCC 2023, where she asked Yarros to “set the record straight” on pronouncing words. After Popverse shared a video of this to TikTok, Muireann stitched it frustrated. She began by pointing out that Yarros said Gaelic by pronouncing it “gay-lick” which is a different language than the Scottish Gaelic (“gal-lick”). Muireann said most Gaelic words used were mispronounced in the interview. These were small mistakes that showed a genuine lack of care when bringing other cultures into the book…

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 11, 1916 Donald Franson. Longtime fan who lived most of his life in LA. Was active in the N3F and LASFS including serving as the secretary for years and was a member of Neffer Amateur Press Alliance.  Author of A Key to the Terminology of Science-Fiction Fandom. Also wrote A History of the Hugo, Nebula, and International Fantasy Awards, Listing Nominees & Winners, 1951-1970 and An Author Index to Astounding/Analog: Part II—Vol. 36, #1, September, 1945 to Vol. 73 #3, May, 1964, the first with Howard DeVore. (Died 2002.)
  • Born November 11, 1917 Mack Reynolds. He’d make Birthday Honors just for his first novel, The Case of the Little Green Men, published in 1951, which as you likely know is a murder mystery set at a Con. He gets Serious Geek Credits for writing the first original authorized classic Trek novel Mission to Horatius. And I’ve enjoyed his short fiction as well. He’s available at the usual suspects including The Case of the Little Green Men for very reasonable prices. (Died 1983.)
  • Born November 11, 1922 Kurt Vonnegut Jr. The Sirens of Titan was his first SF novel followed by Cat’s Cradle which after turning down his original thesis in 1947, the University of Chicago awarded him his master’s degree in anthropology in 1971 for this novel. Next was Slaughterhouse-Five, or The Children’s Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death which is one weird book and an even stranger film. It was nominated for best novel Nebula and Hugo Awards but lost both to Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness. I’m fairly sure Breakfast of Champions, or Goodbye Blue Monday is his last genre novel there’s a lot of short fiction where something of a genre nature might have occurred. (Died 2007.)
  • Born November 11, 1946 Ian Miller, 77. Let’s have one illustrator and an editor this time.  He did the backgrounds for Ralph Bakshi’s Wizards film. Genre wise, he did the cover art and interior illustrations for David Day’s The Tolkien Bestiary, and what I think is one of the weirder covers for Something Wicked This Way Comes. Oh and I did say editor, didn’t I? Well he was. Between 1983 and 1985, he co-edited Interzone along with John Clute, Alan Dorey, Malcolm Edwards, Colin Greenland, Roz Kaveney, Simon Ounsley and David Pringle. 
  • Born November 11, 1947 Victoria Schochet, 76. Wife of Eric Van Lustbader. She co-edited with John Silbersack and Mellisa Singer the most excellent The Berkley Showcase: New Writings in Science Fiction and Fantasy that came out in the Eighties. She worked editorially at Analog as their managing editor and additionally at Harper, Putnam, and as a senior editor at the Berkley Publishing Group, where she co-edited with Silbersack all five volumes of The Berkley Showcase: New Writings in Science Fiction and Fantasy.
  • Born November 11, 1974 Felix Gilman, 49. Two series. The first, Arjun series, started off with the Thunderer novel and has one more novel so far, Gears of the City, earned him a nomination for Astounding Award in both 2009 and 2010. The other series, Half-Made World, is fantasy with a generous dollop of steampunk served warm.

(8) THE OTHER THREE-BODY ADAPTATION. “’3 Body Problem’ Premiere Date, New Trailer From Netflix”The Hollywood Reporter shares them all.

The new sci-fi drama from the creators of Game of Thrones now has a premiere date: 3 Body Problem will launch on Netflix on March 21, 2024. The streamer also released a video with some new footage from the series, which is adapted from Liu Cixin’s Hugo Award-winning trilogy….

…There’s also a new, more specific description of the anticipated show: “A young woman’s fateful decision in 1960s China reverberates across space and time into the present day. When the laws of nature inexplicably unravel before their eyes, a close-knit group of brilliant scientists join forces with an unflinching detective to confront the greatest threat in humanity’s history.”

3 Body Problem is from Emmy-winning Thrones showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss along with Emmy-nominated True Blood writer-producer Alexander Woo.

Netflix also released some teaser art to promote the premiere date, which rather cleverly incorporates an element from the story that the novel’s fans will recognize…

(9) NO ONE WAS LEFT HOLDING THE BAG. “Astronauts dropped a tool bag during a spacewalk, and you can see it” says Space.com.

Joining stars, planets, nebulas, and galaxies as a target for skywatchers is now a surprisingly bright tool bag floating through the space around Earth. The bag of tools gave NASA astronauts Jasmin Moghbeli and Loral O’Hara the slip on Nov. 2, 2023, as they were conducting a spacewalk outside of the International Space Station (ISS). 

The tool bag is now orbiting our planet just ahead of the ISS with a visual magnitude of around 6, according to EarthSky. That means it is slightly less bright than the ice giant Uranus, the seventh planet from the sun. As a result, the bag  —  officially known as a crew lock bag  —  is slightly too dim to be visible to the unaided eye, but skywatchers should be able to pick it up with binoculars.

To see it for yourself, first find out when you can find spot the space station over the next few months (NASA even has a new app to help you). The bag should be floating two to four minutes ahead of the station. As it descends rapidly, the bag is likely to disintegrate when it reaches an altitude of around 70 miles (113 kilometers) over Earth….

(10) GET A HEAD START ON SF2 CONCATENATION. [Item by Jonathan Cowie.] SF² Concatenation has published an advance post of an article ahead of its next seasonal edition as it is time sensitive. It is a longer version of the new British Library exhibition on Fantasy that File770 ran the other week. “British Library Fantasy Exhibition 2023”.

Also up is a short 1-page best of Nature ‘Futures’ short story: “’Aleph’ by Lavie Tidhar”. This story came out in 2022 before this year’s (2023) explosion in artificial intelligence (AI). But AI is not ‘General AI’. What would that first conversation be like?

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, Anne Marble, Brian Keene, Cliff, Andrew Porter, Ersatz Culture, John King Tarpinian and Chris Barkley for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]