Pixel Scroll 5/5/23 I’m Gonna Take My Pixels To The Old File Road, I’m Gonna Scroll Till I Can’t No More

(1) GENRE SUPPORT FOR WGA STRIKE. “SFWA Stands in Solidarity with the WGA” the organization announced today.

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association supports writers. As such, SFWA stands in solidarity with the Writers Guild of America (WGA) in their strike. Emblematic of that support was our Nebula Awards Ceremony team working to ensure that the script for the ceremony was complete before the strike began so we would not violate the picket line.

During this time, we would like to caution writers who are offered meetings for TV or movie work that such seemingly innocuous meetings may affect their eligibility to join the WGA in the future. For more information, see WGA’s Strike Rules.

We hope this strike will come to a swift conclusion with writers’ voices and concerns heard and met with reasonable terms.

(2) RINGS POWERS ON WITHOUT SHOWRUNNERS. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Due to the Writers Guild of America strike, season 2 of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power will be finishing its last few weeks of filming without their showrunners. The production company had arranged to have all scriptwriting finished ahead of the strike.

What they’ll do if somebody decides a rewrite is necessary hasn’t been announced. Executive producers, directors, and other crew who are not WGA members will be overseeing all on-set work. “The Rings of Power to complete season 2 filming without showrunners amid writers’ strike” in Entertainment Weekly.

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power is moving forward with filming season 2 — despite the ongoing Hollywood writers’ strike.

Amazon Studios‘ fantasy epic is currently in production on its second season, and EW has confirmed that filming will continue in the U.K. without showrunners J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay. The production team planned for a potential strike, and scripts and other creative materials were finished ahead of time so as not to delay filming. Rings of Power has 19 days left to shoot for season 2.

The Writers Guild of America went on strike this week after failing to reach an agreement with the Alliance of Motion Pictures and Television Producers. Under strike rules, WGA members are prohibited from participating in writing duties. In Payne and McKay’s absence, non-writing executive producers, directors, and crew will oversee production on set….

(3) CLASS IS IN SESSION. Madeline Shier lists books about 21 magical institutions of learning in “There’s Magic in All of Us: Choosing the Right Magic School for You” at Powell’s Books.

There comes a point in every young person’s life where they need to make an important decision: where will they go to study magic?

While excellent students from a variety of academies and programs have been sharing their experiences for years — Ged’s adventures at The School of Wizardry on Roke Island in A Wizard of Earthsea (1968), Cat Chant’s training at Chrestomanci Castle in Charmed Life (1977), etc. — it’s impossible to deny that a particular institution has dominated the conversation for the last twenty-six years. But as news continues to break regarding the outrageous transphobiaantisemitism, and racism propagated by that academy and its founder, more and more students who’d previously anticipated immediately accepting their invitation to an ancient castle in Scotland are finding themselves considering alternative courses for their magical education.

(This is not to say that one person’s cruelty, even its founder’s, can wipe away all merit from an institution. You may still wish to take a tour of the campus there, and that is of course your prerogative. You will likely find much to love; this writer certainly does. I would simply also urge you to consider your surroundings as you pass through. If you, like me, find yourself put off by the tokenization of your non-white, non-straight peers, and by the mistreatment of entire groups of sentient beings, it is simply good to remember that these hallowed halls are not our only option.)

Hereafter, you will find a catalog of academic options to weigh as you plan your studies. Certain programs — such as the much-lauded training offered by Camp Half-Blood and its sibling organizations, or the prestigious School for Good and Evil — are undoubtedly already on your radar and have therefore been omitted, though we highly recommend you consider them as well.

(4) AH, ROMANCE. Allison Brennan explains the art of “Crafting Will They or Won’t They Tension in Thrillers” at CrimeReads.

…The key in any long-running suspense series is to ensure that conflicts are authentic and true to the characters. Contrived conflict where “if only they talked” or throwing in a spontaneous disappearance with no lead-up and definitely no satisfying conclusion will disappoint readers….

(5) KOONTZ LIVES IN FEAR. [Item by Olav Rokne.] Dean Koontz has written more than 110 novels, lives like a prince and is riddled with self-doubt. In a long form profile of the multi-genre author, the Washington Post seems to imply his fear based stories are his most personal.  “What scares master of suspense Dean Koontz? Plenty.” according to the Washington Post.

 (6) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites listeners to feast on fish and chips with the prolific Robert Jeschonek in Episode 197 of the Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Robert Jeschonek

I met this episode’s guest, Robert Jeschonek, when I attended the Steve Ditko Mini-Con in Johnstown, PA in September of 2021, While there, I spontaneously decided late in the afternoon to wander the exhibit tables to capture the voices of four other attendees, getting them to share anecdotes about that legendary creator, and you can hear them in Episode 154. But Jeschonek, who’d recently completed a biography of Ditko with the family’s cooperation, had taken off before I could get to him. We agreed we’d someday catch up to chat, and that someday is now.

There’s so much else to talk about with Bob in addition to Steve Ditko, though. For one thing, he’s managed to have stories published in every issue so far of the revived Pulphouse — all 20 of them! (Me, I’ve only had two published there.) His  short stories have also appeared in ClarkesworldGalaxy’s EdgeFiction RiverPulp LiteratureStarShipSofa, and many other publications. He has also written official Doctor Who and Star Trek fiction plus Batman and Justice Society comics for DC. His novels include the military scifi epic Battlenaut Crucible, the urban fantasy Earthshaker, the cozy mystery Death by Polka, and the young adult thriller Unbullied. He’s won a Scribe Award from the International Association of Media Tie-In Writers, and the grand prize in Pocket Books’ Strange New Worlds contest.

We discussed why when he a kid growing up in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, he dismissed any suggestion Steve Ditko grew up there as mere rumor, the differences in the way we each pants our stories, how to get writing done amid the pressures of life, the best way to approach assembling collections and anthologies, how he got his first gig writing comic books, dealing with the inevitable rejections, whether his fans follow his writing career cross his many genres, the many misconceptions people have about Steve Ditko, and much more.

(7) SZE SAYS. The New York Times profile “Sarah Sze Wishes She Could Hear Gertrude Stein Pick a Fight” includes these shout-outs to sff.

What’s your favorite book no one else has heard of?

“Flowers for Algernon,” by Daniel Keyes, was an influential book for me when I was growing up, and I’ve found that few people seem to have read it. It’s written in an epistolary style, and I was taken by how the writing itself uses spelling, grammar, punctuation and diction to indicate the rise and loss of the fictive author’s cognitive skills, reflecting the story line. I’m still struck with the novel’s opening epigraph from Plato, taken from Book 7 of “The Republic”: “Any one who has common sense will remember that the bewilderments of the eye are of two kinds, and arise from two causes, either from coming out of the light or from going into the light, which is true of the mind’s eye, quite as much as of the bodily eye.”

What book might people be surprised to find on your shelves?

“Slaughterhouse-Five,” by Kurt Vonnegut, “Fahrenheit 451,” by Ray Bradbury, “1984,” by George Orwell, “Survival in Auschwitz,” by Primo Levi.

(8) MEMORY LANE.

1969[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

John Boyd’s The Rakehells of Heaven was  published by Weybright and Talley in the States fifty-four years ago. It was not his first novel, which was The Last Starship from EarthSFE loved that novel but was not impressed but any of the twelve that followed: “None of Boyd’s subsequent novels – some of which are abundantly inventive – made anything like the impression of this first effort, though they are not inconsiderable.” 

(The Dictionary of Literary Biography says Robert A. Heinlein endorsed The Last Starship from Earth highly. No word on what he thought of this novel.) 

If you’ve not read him, be advised that The Last Starship from Earth is not available from the usual suspects but this novel is as Andromeda Gun (excellent) and The Girl with the Jade Green Eyes (weird, and very entertaining).  That is it. 

So let’s have the Beginning…

Astronauts hold few charms for psychiatrists. 

With Their “Rogers” and their “Wilcos” and their “A-Okays,” the eagle scouts of the Space Navy are all typical American boys who like girls and would rather go bowling than read a book. No matter if the astronaut comes from Basutoland, black and fuzzy-haired, he’s still an all-American boy. 

Malfunctions of the ego are as rare among the breed as roses on Mars, or so I thought when I came to Mandan. And so I continued to think until I debriefed Ensign John Adams after his unscheduled touchdown at the Mandan Pad. In John Adams, I found the psychiatric equivalent of an orchid blooming on Jupiter. 

As a psychiatrist of Plato’s school, I would have never volunteered for duty at the Mandan Naval Academy. Platonists are sculptors of the psyche who hold that sanity is innate in man’s mind. Our tools are rhetoric, insight, empathy and, above all, the question, for wise interrogation is the better part of therapy. Our marble is mined from the loony bins of Earth. Yet, with Bellevue Hospital but a few blocks from where I was graduated, the bureaucracy ordered me to intern at the North Dakota space complex “to broaden my technical knowledge.”

I got to Mandan in late September, a week before school opened, during the point of impact called autumn when winter kicks summer off the Northern Plains. I reported to Space Surgeon Commander Harkness, USN (MC), commandant of the infirmary staff. Doctor Harkness, or Commander, as he preferred to be called, was a neurosurgeon, which is a fancy name for a brain mechanic who uses laser drills and saws. Harkness made no attempt to suppress his hostility toward interns in general and psychiatrists in particular. He assigned me to interview incoming midshipmen who had already been Rorschached from Johannesburg to Juneau. It was salt-mine work. Any behavioral psychologist could have handled it, but it implemented Harkness’s policy of making interns sweat.

In my first three weeks, I interviewed over two hundred yearlings and found only one whose behavior was suspect, an earlobe-puller from Shanghai. His ear-pulling suggested a compulsion neurosis that can be dangerous in space—such boys start counting stars when they should be tending the helm. I offered my Chinese ear-puller to Harkness to demonstrate my application to duty. Harkness felt the lad’s earlobe, found a pimple which had irritated it and gave me a dressing down. “One thing we don’t do at Mandan, Doctor, is stumble over facts to get at a theory.”

Actually, Harkness’s ridicule was my high point at Mandan until Adams touched down in late December. Curse me for a masochist, but any emotion that colored that wasteland of psychiatrists was welcome. I chewed my hostility like a betel nut. 

It was 5: 45 P.M., Wednesday, December 28. I had the medical watch in the infirmary when Harkness called. “Doctor, are you the only psychiatrist aboard?”

 “Yes, sir,” I answered, “and will be during the holidays.”

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born May 5, 1890 Christopher Morley. English writer who’d be here for Where The Blue Begins with its New York City inhabited solely by canines, but who also wrote The Haunted Bookstore which is at least genre adjacent depending on how you view it, and lovingly-crafted Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson: A Textbook of Friendship, his look at the writings of Arthur Conan Doyle. (Died 1957.)
  • Born May 5, 1922 Joseph Stefano. Screenwriter who adapted Bloch’s novel as the script for Hitchcock’s Psycho. He was also a producer for the first season of Outer Limits and wrote a total of twelve episodes. He also the screenwriter for the very horrifying Eye of The Cat. He wrote Next Generation’s “Skin of Evil” episode. And he was producer on the original Swamp Thing. (Died 2006.)
  • Born May 5, 1944 John Rhys-Davies, 79. He’s known for his portrayal of Gimli and the voice of Treebeard in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, General Leonid Pushkin in The Living Daylights, King Richard I in Robin of Sherwood, Professor Maximillian Arturo in Sliders, a most excellent Hades in the animated Justice League Unlimted series, Hades in Justice League and Sallah in the Indiana Jones films. Oh, and voicing Macbeth in the exemplary Gargoyles animated series too.
  • Born May 5, 1942 Lee Killough, 81. Author of two series, the Brill and Maxwell series which I read a very long time ago and remember immensely enjoying, and the Bloodwalk series which doesn’t ring even a faint bell. I see she’s written a number of stand-alone novels as well – who’s read deeply of her? Her only Hugo nomination was at Aussiecon Two for her short story, “Symphony for a Lost Traveler”.  And in the early Eighties, she wrote an interesting essay called “Checking On Culture: A Checklist for Culture Building”. Who’s read it? 
  • Born May 5, 1943 Michael Palin, 80. Monty Python of course. I’ll single him out for writing Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life and co-writing Time Bandits with Terry Gilliam. Though decidedly not genre, he was in A Fish Called Wanda for which he won the BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role.
  • Born May 5, 1957 Richard E. Grant, 66. He first shows up in our world as Giles Redferne in Warlock, before going on to be Jack Seward in Bram Stoker’s Dracula. On a lighter note, he’s Frederick Sackville-Bagg in The Little Vampire, and the voice of Lord Barkis Bittern in Corpse Bride. He breaks into the MCU as Xander Rice in Logan, and the Star Wars universe by being Allegiant General Enric Pryde in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Now I had forgotten that he’s in the Whoverse twice, once seriously and once very not. The first appearance was the latter as he in Doctor Who and the Curse of Fatal Death as The Conceited Doctor. And then he plays the Great Intelligence in three episodes of Doctor Who.
  • Born May 5, 1961 Janet Brennan Croft, 62. She’s published any number of works on library science, but her research on Tolkien includes the Mythopoeic Scholarship Award for Inkling Studies-winning War and the works of J.R.R. TolkienTolkien on Film: Essays on Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the RingsTolkien and Shakespeare: Essays on Shared Themes and Language and Perilous and Fair: Women in the Works and Life of J. R. R. Tolkien. I’d also like to single her work, Baptism of Fire: The Birth of the Modern British Fantastic in World War
  • Born May 5, 1979 Catherynne M. Valente, 44. The last thing I read by her was The Refrigerator Monologues which is a lot of fun. Space Opera is in by TBR pile and I’d like to know what y’all thought of it. My favorite work by her? Oh, by far that’d be the two volumes of The Orphan’s Tales which I go back to fairly often — stunning writing. If you’ve not read them yet, here’s her telling “The Tea Maid And The Tailor” as excerpted from In the Night Garden which is from Green Man

(10) BID ON TV HISTORY. Collector James Comisar will be auctioning items from his TV memorabilia collection on June 2-4. His passion for collecting is described in “The James Comisar Show”. Several historic genre TV items (I Dream of Jeanie, Star Trek, Batman)are discussed in “The History of TV in 22 Lots”.

…In time, Comisar amassed decades’ worth of sets, props and costumes spanning the medium’s birth to its Golden Age to the era of Peak TV – from Howdy Doody to GunsmokeI Love Lucy to Star TrekBewitched to I Dream of JeannieThe Office to E.R.The Sopranos to Mad Men to Breaking Bad. And everything in between: Johnny Carson’s and David Letterman’s talk-show sets. Archie and Edith Bunker’s living room and chairs. The bar around which the Cheers regulars shared beers and jokes. The hometown signpost from the 4077th MASH. Games from The Price Is Right.

That’s just the beginning of the beginning of an extensive and remarkable list. Comisar spent decades – and millions of dollars – gathering and preserving material and memories enough to fill the television history museum he had long dreamed of opening. If you watched it, he collected it, looked after it and loved it like a family member….

(11) KOJA Q&A. One of the Horror Writers Association’s blog post themes is “Celebrating Our Elders” – as in, “Celebrating Our Elders: Interview with Kathe Koja”.

Who were your influences as a writer when you started out and who, if anyone, continues to influence you?

My two greatest influences as a writer were Emily Bronte and Shirley Jackson, from whom I learned velocity, force, and economy. And as a kid, I read a lot of M.R. James, who will always scare me.  

(12) WEN WEN YANG TAKES QUESTIONS. Another HWA theme is illustrated by this post: “Asian Heritage in Horror: Interview with Wen Wen Yang”.

What about the horror genre drew you to it?

It was a lot easier to approach horror as a writer than as a consumer, because I control how bad things get. Evil will be defeated in a satisfying ending. I get nightmares very easily so I don’t consume horror as much as others do. My body horror flash fiction in If There’s Anyone Left: Volume 3 was directly from a nightmare I had after Texas’ recent attacks on reproductive rights. 

(13) CALL FOR PAPERS. Science Fiction Film and Television is planning a special issue and is looking for scholarly contributions. The theme is: “The Dark Fantastic by Ebony Elizabeth Thomas:  Black Girl Protagonists in Science Fiction TV and Film.”

Ebony Elizabeth Thomas’s pathbreaking book The Dark Fantastic (2019) has given new direction to debates about race, gender, and power in fantastic fiction. In her work, Thomas charts the Dark Fantastic Cycle, a pattern that consists of Black female characters moving through a sequence that includes the following: (1) spectacle, (2) hesitation, (3) violence, (4) haunting, and (5) emancipation. In examining this cycle, she posits that the Dark Other is a foundational presence in fantastic storyworlds, where desirable qualities are explicitly associated with whiteness and Blackness is consistently associated with “the monstrous Thing that is the root cause of hesitation, ambivalence, and the uncanny.”

At the same time, Thomas voices a powerful call to “re-story” fantastic storyworlds in ways that release captive characters from the cycle of the Dark Fantastic, allowing for more participatory, and more imaginative stories and worlds—as many Afrofururist and Black fantasy storytellers have been doing across media.

Thomas’s interdisciplinary approach to the “imagination gap” that has afflicted fantastic fiction gives us new ways to approach science fiction and its related genres. The editors of Science Fiction Film and Television are therefore proud to announce a forthcoming special issue dedicated to pushing Thomas’ work forward through a disruption of the Dark Fantastic Cycle with specific attention to Black girl protagonists in science fiction and film. For this issue, we have invited Drs. S. R. Toliver and Autumn A. Griffin, mentees of Dr. Thomas, as special co- guest editors, who have agreed to be centrally involved in the selection of articles and the overall organization of the special issue. We therefore invite contributions that engage meaningfully with the key concepts, methods, and proposals from The Dark Fantastic, and thereby to further the lines of thinking that Dr. Thomas has initiated in her book.

Thomas argues that “an emancipatory Black fantastic requires interrupting the dark fantastic cycle in order to create new paradigms” (p. 169).

Thus, potential questions for inquiry/interrogation include:

  • How are science fiction authors (re)imagining stories about Black girls?
  • How are Black girls (re)imagined in science fiction stories (e.g. See You Yesterday, Fast Color, Black Lightning, Titans)?
  • How do Black women science fiction television and filmmakers (re)frame and (re)center Black girls’ racialized and gendered identities (e.g., A Wrinkle in Time, Brown Girl Begins, Naomi, Lovecraft Country, Pumzi)?
  • How are Black women creators narrating themselves into existence in science fiction film and television?

In what ways do Black women and girl science fiction fans (books, film, and TV) engage with/in fandom?

Timeline

  • May 31, 2023: Abstracts due
  • June 30, 2023: Authors notified
  • December 2, 2023: Drafts due to editors
  • March 8, 2024: Initial feedback from editors
  • June 3, 2024: Final drafts to editors to send for peer review
  • Fall 2024: Special Issue Publication

Questions can be sent to the Guest Editors, Autumn Griffin & Stephanie Toliver at: [email protected] 

(13) A LITTLE MORE SUB THAN ORBITAL. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Though not as spectacular as the SpaceX Starship launch failure, a suborbital rocket recently launched by Up Aerospace also went boom early in the mission. Among more than a dozen payloads was a group of 120 small capsules with human cremains. 

They were were intended to make it above the Kármán Line, sort of posthumously qualifying the decedents for their astronaut wings. In fact, one of the decedents already had their astronaut wings. Remains from NASA astronaut Philip K. Chapman were among those involved.

Fortunately, the cremains all survived the explosion and were recovered. It’s said they will be placed on a future mission. Hopefully that one will make the intended trip rather than another severely curtailed one. “Cremated Remains of NASA Astronaut Recovered After Failed Rocket Launch” at Gizmodo.

(14) TODAY’S BEST SENTENCE FROM A PRESS RELEASE. [Item by Daniel Dern.] Note, this is legit, and not a typo. (Easy to find the source by searching on the sentence).

What could possibly go wrong? (from DNA privacy to superpower origins gone wrong, cloning abuse…)

“Student toenails meanwhile were sent back to MIT for analysis in the nuclear reactor.”

(15) WHO? [Item by Mike Kennedy.] The story is behind a Chicago Tribune paywall (but available free if you have the Apple News app). If you could see the full thing, you’d see a number of illustrations to go along with the story. Perhaps the main thrust of the story is why Gygax is so unrecognized in the town where D&D was invented. “The Dungeons & Dragons game was invented in Lake Geneva. Why no statue in the town square?”

When Ed Schwinn thinks about the history of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin — and as president of the board of directors for the Geneva Lake Museum, he thinks about it quite a bit — he thinks of a summer retreat, a tourist town that has fewer than 10,000 year-round residents. He thinks of his own family living there year-round for 34 years. He thinks of his grandfather, who helped steer the Schwinn Bicycle Company into becoming a household name, buying a second home on the lakefront in the 1920s. He notes that a lot of summer families have long since become permanent residents, though “when I grew up on Lake Geneva, people with homes on the lakefront shut off the water on Labor Day, slipped a key under the mat and went home until May.”

He thinks of all those wealthy, famous names associated with the history of the town — the Schwinns, the Wrigleys, the Maytags, the Wards — then admits, “No matter how many well-known families have been coming here a century or more, I’m not sure any of us have done as much for the city of Lake Geneva as Gary Gygax.”

If the name doesn’t ring a bell, you’d be hard-pressed to learn more in Lake Geneva…

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Honest Game Trailers dissects “Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe”.

There’s been a lot of remakes in 2023 like Resident Evil 4 and Dead Space with plenty more on the way, and Kurt can’t help but ask: is this a good thing?

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

Pixel Scroll 10/21/22 < PanGalacticGargleBlaster-Emoji > < MTBR-Emoji > < Sleeping-Credential-Emoji >

(1) AS THE DAYS DWINDLE DOWN. Is it the end of the year so soon? Publishers Weekly has announced its selection of 150 “Best Books 2022”. Here’s what they picked in the “SF/Fantasy/Horror” category.

  • The Golden Enclaves by Naomi Novik (Del Rey)
  • The Hacienda by Isabel Cañas (Berkley)
  • Leech by Hiron Ennes (Tordotcom)
  • Lonely Castle in the Mirror by Mizuki Tsujimura, trans. from the Japanese by Philip Gabriel (Erewhon)
  • Moon Witch, Spider King by Marlon James (Riverhead)
  • The Mountain in the Sea by Ray Nayler (MCD)
  • Ocean’s Echo by Everina Maxwell (Tor)

(2) WHAT’S SAUCE FOR THE GOOSE? Aja Romano’s article for Vox, “Xi Jinping’s crackdown on fandom and social media, explained”, primarily discusses China’s pop music fans, especially fans of Kpop, however it’s still instructive.

…Fans, locally and abroad, are motivated by deeply personal, often byzantine motivations that no amount of outside interference — even from the Chinese government — can moderate. If anything, its attempts to do so only remind us how universal the problem of controlling uncontrollable social media has become. In a way, it’s as though the Chinese government has engaged in a game of whack-a-mole: The more it attempts to crack down on extreme fandom behavior, the more creative fans get at dodging its regulations and the more extreme that behavior becomes.

In a strange twist, the very fandom communities the CCP [Chinese Communist Party] is most concerned about may also be the ones that are unexpectedly helping to spread its political agenda. A recently published study from researchers at Concordia University and York University, conducted between January 2020 and October 2021, looked at the way danmei fans online interacted with the CCP’s restrictions. They found that in the absence of clarity around many of the restrictions, the fans themselves, through a mix of speculation and “accusatory reporting” — that is, reporting or threatening to report each other to authorities for perceived transgressions — were doing a more efficient job policing themselves than the government ever could. In essence, the fans who tried to conduct their subversive fandoms within the parameters of the regime “strengthened the political authority’s practice and narrative.”

Ultimately, the biggest irony of the Qinglang campaign is that it may have ensured the communities the government wanted to “clean and clear” are messier than ever. “In my friend circle, we often say the only people ‘cleaned’ are the normal fans,” one fan told me. “The toxics are completely unaffected.”

(3) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites listeners to dig into dim sum with the Nebula Award-winning Eileen Gunn in episode 193 of the Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Eileen Gunn

My guest this time around is Eileen Gunn, who received the Nebula Award in 2005 for “Coming to Terms,” a story inspired, in part, by her friendship with Avram Davidson, about whom she’s working on a biography. She also won Japan’s Sense of Gender Award, and has been nominated for the Hugo, Philip K. Dick, Locus, and Tiptree awards. Her short story collections include Stable Strategies and Others (2004), Questionable Practices (2014), and most recently Night Shift Plus … , out earlier this year as part of the PM Press Outspoken Authors Series. From 2001-2008, she was editor and publisher of the influential webzine The Infinite Matrix. She served for 22 years on the board of directors for Clarion West, and taught there and at numerous other creative writing workshops. She also had a lengthy career in technical advertising and website management in Boston, Seattle, and New York.

We discussed how it’s possible to write when you always have writers block, the Ursula K. Le Guin story which convinced her she could have a career in science fiction, the two most important things she wants aspiring writers to know, her early advertising career writing funny ads for shoes she didn’t like, the reason she believes “I don’t decide what the story is until after I’ve finished it,” which famous science fiction writer wrote the box copy for Screaming Yellow Zonkers, the question Kate Wilhelm asked her at Clarion which unlocked the unknown ending of a story in progress, the way her years in the ad business helped her become a better writer, how Carol Emshwiller made her a person of interest with a sheriff’s department, what she said on a Worldcon panel which was so outrageous the audience had to be told she was joking, how Psychology Day magazine was almost sued over Frankenstein because they didn’t listen listen to my advice, and much more.

(4) IN DYSON’S SPHERE. Jeremy Bernstein recounts his half-century friendship with the renowned scientist and visionary in “Freeman Dyson and Me” at the MIT Press Reader.

…That summer he went off to the General Atomic division of the large firm General Dynamics in La Jolla to consult, and I went to the RAND Corporation in Santa Monica to do likewise. It was not a success.

Although RAND had the superficial atmosphere of a college campus, it was devoted to the strategy of nuclear war. The Falstaffian figure of Herman Kahn was assuring everyone that a few megadeaths in an exchange with the Soviets would be quite tolerable. I recall once going into a room with the other RAND physicists where a seismograph had been set up. We watched while it registered the quavers from a hydrogen bomb test in the Pacific. I found the whole atmosphere very depressing. In the meanwhile, the secretary we had in our building at the Institute was forwarding mail along with the gossip. I learned that Dyson was designing a spaceship, that he had been to a bullfight, and had been bitten by a dog. I wrote a note to him saying that if any of these three things were true, he was having a better time than I was. Much to my surprise, a day or so later the phone rang, and it was Dyson inviting me to come down to La Jolla. I jumped at the chance.

It turned out that all three of these things were true, and the spaceship, which was supposed to be powered by the exploding atomic bombs, was called the “Orion.” It is not an accident that this was the name of a spaceship in Kubrick’s “2001.” There was more. He had been stopped by the police for walking. They had some reason: he had broken his glasses and was wearing scuba diving goggles to assist his vision. When asked for identification, he produced a card with his picture and fingerprints on it from the Department of Defense. It said that the bearer of this card was entitled to receive top-secret information. One can only wonder what went through the police officer’s mind….

(5) TROLLING. [Item by Danny Sichel.] Sakeina Syed’s article for The Walrus, “The Rings of Power Has a Troll Problem”, is about the outsize effect of online racists, and how the productions try to deal with them.

…Beneath assertions of fandom pride and purity seethes a maelstrom of abject racism. The now-deleted YouTube comment barrage is one strand in a much larger web of backlash, diligently stoked by subgroups of fans that seem hell-bent on tanking the series.

While it’s long been present, the racism in groups of pop culture fans online has rapidly gained coordination and sophistication in recent years. Behind-the-scenes planning has allowed relatively small minorities of users to flood online spaces. These campaigns go beyond seemingly trivial internet chatter and have the power to shape the future of projects, the careers of BIPOC actors, and the film and TV industry as a whole.

…FOR THE FANS who don’t subscribe to the racist and misogynistic rhetoric, those clamouring voices are a source of dismay, antithetical to the works they know and love. Anna María is a UK-based actor, community organizer, and self-described armchair Tolkien expert who was first introduced to the series at the age of seven. “Bigotry hurts more when it comes from a space you once associated only with joy,” she writes in an email.

“Seeing racist comments (and facing some myself) from fellow Tolkien fans . . . is infinitely more personal and hurtful. I know it makes me—and many of my friends—feel decidedly unwelcome in the fandom.”…

(6) CATCHING UP WITH CHICON. Read Morgan Hazelwood’s notes about the Chicon 8 panel “Fairytales & Folklore in Urban Fantasy” or view the video commentary at Morgan Hazelwood: Writer in Progress.

As humans, we look for patterns everywhere. So, when we see a new story, draped in the shape of a well-known fairytale, the vibrant mix of the familiar with the new and strange can be irresistible to many of us as readers. There’s a reason that wrapping fairytales and folklore in urban fantasies has proven so popular.

In 1987, Charles de Lint published Jack, the Giant Killer, a retelling of a fairytale set in 1980s Ottawa. This novel, along with Terri Windling’s Borderlands, became part of the foundation of the urban fantasy subgenre. How was utilizing folktales in contemporary settings revolutionary in the 1970s and 80s? How have fairy and folk tales influenced urban fantasy since then? Join us as we explore the roots of one of the most influential subgenres of the early 21st century.

The titular panel at ChiCon8/WorldCon 80 was moderated by Alma Alexander and featured Adam Stemple, Sharon Sheffield, and C.L. Polk. The insightful discussion wandered a ways from the given description but stayed on topic….

(7) MEMORY LANE.

1972 [By Cat Eldridge.] Ray Bradbury’s The Halloween Tree

Tom Skelton shivered. Anyone could see that the wind was a special wind this night, and the darkness took on a special feel because it was All Hallows’ Eve. Everything seemed cut from soft black velvet or gold or orange velvet. Smoke panted up out of a thousand chimneys like the plumes of funeral parades. From kitchen windows drifted two pumpkin smells: gourds being cut, pies being baked. — The Halloween Tree

I love everything that he wrote unreservedly. Now I am not saying that everything was great but I go into reading something by him knowing that there’s a very good chance that I’ll enjoy it. And I really like him as, well, himself.

Now we come to this book. I’m assuming that being from the upper Midwest that he was well-versed, indeed deep in the bone, in the ways of Halloween. So it was rather appropriate that he’d write this novel fifty years ago with illustrations by Joseph Mugnaini who worked extensively with Bradbury. You can hear him here talking about working with Bradbury.

Doubleday published the first edition in June 1972 within Mugnaini doing all the art.

IF YOU’VE HAVEN’T READ OR, YES, SEEN IT, GO HIDE UNDER BED FOR NOW. [SPOILERS]

Bradbury is stellar here. Truly brilliant.

Lifelong friends do what such boys always do on this day: trick-or-treating. However, they discover that a ninth friend has been whisked away on a journey, a really fantastic journey, that could in the end say whether he lives or dies. 

Through the help of a mysterious character named Carapace Clavicle Moundshroud (and doesn’t our author have a way with names?) they pursue their friend across the universe through the old civilizations of Egypt, Greece, and Rome, learn what Celtic Druids are like, visit the Cathedral Notre Dame in Medieval Paris, and finish their journey at Mexican Day of the Dead. 

Like an overstuffed goose, they consume and hopefully digest a lot of stuff on this fantastic night. (They are young kids after all.) Bradbury speaking through Moundshroud as the narrator is rather a good guide here. 

We are made aware that the Halloween Tree itself, with its myriad branches oh so heavy with jack-o’-lanterns, is Bradbury’s metaphor for the historical confluence of all these traditions.

COME OUT NOW. MOTHER’S BAKING CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES AND MAKING COCOA IN THE KITCHEN. 

Hanna-Barbera nineteen years later would make it into an animated film. Bradbury serves as the narrator of the film, which also has Nimoy as Moundshroud. Bradbury also wrote the film’s Emmy Award winning screenplay.

Now here’s where we loop oddly enough back to the children’s book. That work originated five years before it was published as a screenplay as an unproduced collaboration with animator Chuck Jones. Now think about that being actually done!  No idea if the illustrated screenplay exists as a published work but I wanted it really badly.  

The Halloween Tree is shown on the Cartoon pretty much continuously during this month. It enjoys an eighty-eight percent rating at Rotten Tomatoes among audience reviewers.

The children’s book is available at the usual suspects for a very reasonable price.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 21, 1929 Ursula K. Le Guin. Ursula K. Le Guin: Writer, Artist, Editor, Poet, and Translator. She called herself a “Narrative American”. And she most emphatically did not consider herself to be a genre writer – instead preferring to be known as an “American novelist”. Oh, she wrote genre fiction with quite some brillance, be it the Earthsea sequence, The Left Hand of DarknessThe Dispossessed, or Always Coming Home. Her upbringing as the daughter of two academics, one who was an anthropologist and the other who had a graduate degree in psychology, with a home library full of SF, showed in her writing.  She wrote reviews and forewards for others’ books, gave academic talks, and did translations as well. Without counting reader’s choice awards, her works received more than 100 nominations for pretty much every genre award in existence, winning most of them at least once; she is one of a very small group of people who have won Hugo Awards in all four fiction length categories. She was Guest of Honor at the 1975 Worldcon; was the second woman to be named SFWA Grand Master; was given a World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement; and was awarded the National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. In later years, she took up internet blogging with great delight, writing essays and poems, and posting pictures and stories of her cat Pard; these were compiled into a non-fiction collection, No Time to Spare: Thinking About What Matters, which won a posthumous Hugo for Best Related Work. Her last Hugo was at Dublin 2019 for The Books of Earthsea: The Complete Illustrated Edition which was illustrated by Charles Vess. (Died 2018.)
  • Born October 21, 1937 Richard Meredith. writer, graphic designer and illustrator who’s best remembered  for the most excellent We All Died at Breakaway Station and his Timeliner Trilogy. He wasn’t prolific in his shorter works, producing only eleven total novellas, novelettes and short stories. His only Award was the Phoenix, the lifetime achievement award for a science fiction professional who has done a great deal for Southern Fandom.  He died when he was only forty-one, following a stroke. Awakening, his last novel, was published by St. Martin’s Press after his death. (Died 1979.)
  • Born October 21, 1945 Vicki Ann Heydron, 77. Wife of Randall Garrett with whom she wrote almost all of her fiction. Her first work, “Keepersmith” was published in Asimov’s in 1979. I recommend the Gandalara Cycle beginning with The Steel of Raithskar with her husband that ended seven books later with The River Wall. 
  • Born October 21, 1952 Robin McKinley, 70. Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast was her first book. It was considered a superb work and was named an American Library Association Notable Children’s Book and an ALA Best Book for Young Adults. Rose Daughter is another version of that folktale, whereas Spindle’s End is the story of Sleeping Beauty, and Deerskin and two of the stories that you can find in The Door in the Hedge are based on other folktales. She does a superb telling of the Robin Hood legend in The Outlaws of Sherwood. Among her novels that are not based on folktales are SunshineChalice and Dragonhaven. Her 1984 The Hero and the Crown won the Newbery Medal as that year’s best new American children’s book. She was married to Peter Dickinson from 1991 to his death in 2015; they lived together in Hampshire, England where she still lives. They co-wrote two splendid collections, Water: Tales of Elemental Spirits and Fire: Tales of Elemental Spirits. I’d be very remiss not to note her Awards, to wit a Newbery Honor for The Blue Sword, then a Newbery Medal for The Hero and the Crown, a World Fantasy Award for Anthology/Collection for Imaginary Lands, as editor, a Phoenix Award Honor Book for Beauty and a Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature for Sunshine. Impressive indeed!
  • Born October 21, 1952 Candas Jane Dorsey, 70. Canadian writer who’s the winner of the Prix Aurora Award and the Otherwise Award for gender bending SF for her Black Wine novel. She’s also won a Prix Aurora Award for her short story, “Sleeping in a Box”.  She’s one of the founders of SF Canada was founded as an authors collective in the late Eighties as Canada’s National Association of Speculative Fiction Professionals. At the present time, she appears to have little available from the usual digital suspects save two mysteries about her “queer, nameless, amateur detective.”
  • Born October 21, 1976 Lavie Tidhar, 46. The first work I read by him was Central Station which won a John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best Science Fiction Novel. It certainly deserved that accolade! The next work by him I experienced was The Bookman Histories in which Mycroft Holmes is murdered and, well, everything of a pulp nature gets tossed into alternate history England. Both absolutely brilliant and completely annoying at the same time. I’ve just read Unholy Land, his telling of the founding of a Jewish homeland long ago in Africa, and I’m now reading Neom, his sequel to Central Station. It’s quite, quite stellar.

(9) CAPE FEAR. Steve Vertlieb, seeing yesterday’s mention of the star’s birthday, invites all to read “Vertlieb’s Views: Bela Lugosi” at The Thunder Child.

Lugosi. The very name struck palpable terror into the hearts of film goers throughout the nineteen thirties. With his iconic voice, hypnotic gaze, and nightmarish persona, Lugosi became the very embodiment of vampiric decadence and mortal decay. A fallen aristocrat, the Transylvanian Count was the symbolic reflection of sexual repression and the abduction of innocence. Like the haunted character whom he most famously portrayed, Bela Lugosi has long ago passed both into memory and legend.

Born Béla Ferenc Dezső Blaskó on October 20th, 1882, no single individual has ever been as closely or indelibly associated with Bram stoker’s immortal “Dracula” as this aristocratic, ultimately tragic Hungarian actor.

Here, then, is my affectionate Halloween Birthday tribute to Bela Lugosi…his “horrific” career ascension, as well as its poignant decline…as we remember The Man Behind Dracula’s Cape.

(10) CELEBRATE THE SEASON. The Root recommends “15 Scary Ass Books By Black Authors That Are Perfect for Halloween”

… If you’re looking for a spooky story to sink your teeth into this Halloween, check out some of these haunting novels by Black authors. Just be sure to read them with the lights on….

First on the list:

In “The Good House” [by Tananarive Due], Angela Toussaint comes back to the house where her son committed suicide looking for the truth about his death. And what she finds is an invisible, evil force that is inciting acts of violence from the locals.

(11) TALKING ABOUT THE FIFTY WAYS. Ted Gioia continues his praise of “non-realist fiction” in “The 50 Best Works of Non-Realist Fiction of the 21st Century (Part 2 of 5)” at The Honest Broker. You’ll definitely recognize several of these titles.

Below is the second installment of my guide to the 50 best works of non-realist fiction published since 2000. For part one of the survey, click here.

I’m sharing the entire list in five installments (because of email length constraints).

To be eligible for the list, a book must be either science fiction, fantasy, horror, magical realism, alternate history, or some other genre that violates our notions of everyday reality. As I’ve written elsewhere, I believe that much of the best contemporary fiction falls into these categories—and is often unfairly neglected because of its genre origins….

(12) PALETTE CLEANSER. Meanwhile, Screen Rant is taking a count of its own. “10 Things Only Marvel Comics Fans Know About The Incredible Hulk”.

10/10 Gray Hulk

Most Marvel Comics fans know Hulk becomes gray for a period in the 1980s. They may not know he started out that way. In his comic book debut in The Incredible Hulk #1 in 1962, the Hulk appears gray. Co-creators Stan Lee and Jack Kirby intended Hulk to be gray, but coloring limitations at the time left him looking more green.

(13) RECONSIDERING SOLAR ENERGY SATELLITES. Science investigates the question, “Has a new dawn arrived for space-based solar power?” “Better technology and falling launch costs revive interest in a science-fiction technology.”

…NASA first investigated the concept of space solar power during the mid-1970s fuel crisis. But a proposed space demonstration mission—with ’70s technology lofted in the Space Shuttle and assembled by astronauts—would have cost about $1 trillion. The idea was shelved and, according to Mankins, remains a taboo subject for many at the agency.

Today, both space and so-lar power technology have changed beyond recognition. The efficiency of photo-voltaic (PV) solar cells has increased 25% over the past decade, Jones says, while costs have plummeted….

(14) LAUNDRY DAY. UPI invites you to “Watch: Researchers unveil world’s fastest clothes-folding robot”.

…The robot uses a neural network called BiManual Manipulation Network to interpret input from machine vision and manipulates the clothing using a pair of industrial robot arms.

The researchers detailed the robot’s creation and capabilities in a paper submitted for presentation at the International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems 2022 next week in Kyoto, Japan….

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Danny Sichel, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, 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 10/17/22 And Now, The File Is Clear, And So I Scroll The Final Pixel

(1) GGBOOKS. The Governor General’s Literary Awards presented by the Canada Council for the Arts celebrate literature and inspire the general public to read books by creators from Canada. The five finalists in the fiction category include one work of genre interest, Pure Colour by Sheila Heti. Category winners, who will be named November 16, receive C$25,000 (about US$18,850). The publisher of each winning book receives C$3,000 (about US$2,260) to support promotional activities, and finalists each receive C$1,000 (about US$755). 

(2) NOT SUGAR AND PUMPKIN SPICE. Lisa Morton shares her extensive experience writing Halloween-themed fiction with the Horror Writers Association blog: “Halloween Haunts: A Taste of Halloween Beyond – The Talking-board by Lisa Morton”.

I’ve written a lot of Halloween fiction, and I do mean A LOT. As in, I’ve already had one entire collection of just Halloween short stories and novellas – The Samhanach and Other Halloween Treats – published (by JournalStone) in 2017, and I’ve written a bunch of new Halloween fiction since. It shouldn’t come as a surprise, given that I’m both a horror fiction writer and an expert on Halloween history (with three non-fiction books on that subject to my credit).

When I’m asked to contribute a new Halloween story to something, I always stop first to think about some aspect of the beloved holiday I maybe haven’t done…. 

(3) SFF BY POC AT MELBOURNE WRITERS FESTIVAL. “Books: A new wave of sci-fi that has plenty to say about today’s world” at the Sydney Morning Herald.

When Maya Hodge read Parable of the Sower, a 1993 novel by Octavia E. Butler, it opened up her mind. This was the first science fiction book the writer had come across written by a black woman. It was about an African American teenager living in a dystopian America, and it made her realise what these books could mean to black and brown folks: “We live in these dystopias. These books are our escape.”

Hodge, a Lardil and Yangkaal woman, told the recent Melbourne Writers Festival that she went on to discover the novels of writers such as the African American N. K. Jemisin, hailed by The New York Times as “the most celebrated science fiction and fantasy writer of her generation”. Or more locally, Mykaela Saunders, a Koori and Lebanese writer who has edited This All Come Back Now, the world’s first collection of blackfella speculative fiction (or spec fic, as it’s often known).

What is going on here? It’s a new worldwide wave of science fiction and fantasy from writers of colour, First Nations writers, and writers with diverse and migrant backgrounds. They see that creating works in these popular, entertaining and sometimes mind-blowing genres is a way to make serious and subversive points about the real dystopian worlds of marginalised communities, worlds they know only too well….

(4) HEADED FOR NEW ORLEANS. Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki told Facebook readers that his Gofundme to attend the World Fantasy Convention funded successfully. The World Fantasy Convention 2022 committee also donated him a free, full membership.

(5) SMOFCON SCHOLARSHIPS AWARDED. Cansmof Inc. announced it has given two people scholarships for the purpose of attending Smofcon 38 in Montréal, Canada.

The first scholarship was awarded to Alex Stornel of Kenora, Ontario.

The second was awarded to Meg Macdonald of Glasgow, Scotland.

Cansmof Inc. created these scholarships to allow promising convention-runners to attend the annual Smofcon convention-runners’ convention. The scholarships include a complimentary membership to SMOFCon 38. Smofcon 38 will be held in Montréal. Canada, December 2-4, 2022.

(6) I’M TALKING TO YOU. Katherine Garcia Ley tells SFWA Blog readers how to get answers from their characters: “ROMANCING SFF: ‘So, How’s Your Love Life?’ and Other Questions to Ask Your Characters”.

We’ve all seen them: the thirty pages of interview questions you should ask your characters. The analytical texts on astrological signs. The “ultimate of ultimate” tools offering twenty-some Enneagrams for character development. All these resources are fantastic. Heck, I use them, and they’re amazing. I’m a list-loving personality theory hoarder.

These are great tools to use to build characters, but as romance writers (and anyone with a bit of love in their stories), are we asking specific questions about our character in relation to love?

Whether it’s for romance novels or romantic subplots, it’s incredibly important to examine a character’s love life, their perspective on love, and biases on love, because it strengthens arcs, dialogues, and the tone of the story. Honing in on their love life offers insight ranging from a character’s body language to their voice….

(7) VALUES BEING LIVED. Poets & Writers interviewer Renée H. Shea finds out “How It Felt: A Profile of Namwali Serpell”.

… Activism is part of who Serpell is, her life a bold exercise in human rights in the most literal sense. When she received the Caine Prize in 2015, she announced that she would split the monetary part of the award with the other shortlisted nominees. She was surprised by the impact and intensity of responses. On September 23, 2020—the same day she learned that the police officers who killed Breonna Taylor would not be charged with murder—she learned that she won the prestigious Arthur C. Clarke Award for The Old Drift. She donated the entire monetary prize to the Louisville Community Bail Fund for those detained during protests. She eschews being praised for “generosity”; instead, these actions are motivated by her political and philosophical beliefs about the nature of art. “The logic of competition, of reward, is deeply capitalistic,” she says, part of “the insistent corporatization of publishing.” She looks to what she calls “people recognition”—other writers, talented editors, and her readers—instead of monetized success…. 

(8) SERPELL Q&A. Then Shondaland interviewed Serpell about her book The Furrows. “Namwali Serpell Distills the Disorienting Experience of Grief in ‘The Furrows’”.

SN: Death is portrayed in the book as a dynamic and ongoing experience, especially for the people who are left behind. But Wayne has his own life in the book in unexpected ways. How did you approach rendering Wayne’s death and life, and the ghosts who live in the bodies of the people you might not even expect?

NS: The second half of the novel really starts to play with this notion of haunting and doubling and doppelgangers in a more explicitly genre sense, and there I was really riffing on Edgar Allan Poe’s story “William Wilson.” The family in the doppelganger story of Jordan Peele’s Us is also named the Wilsons, so he’s obviously thinking about this as well, the way that there’s some kind of uncanny relationship between the notion of the double or the doppelganger, the notion of haunting, or being haunted by a version of yourself, that seems particular to Black experience. And one of the ways that I think about this is that the double consciousness that W.E.B. Du Bois speaks about manifests as a doppelganger in my novel as well.

(9) PARTY ANIMAL. You’ll find “Ray Bradbury’s Guide to Throwing the Best Halloween Party” at the American Writers Museum.

Ray Bradbury was a true lover of Halloween. As his favorite holiday, he always made sure to dress in costume and have an amazing Halloween bash. If you’re looking to host your own Halloween party—in-person or even online—we’ve got you covered with advice from the legend himself. To learn more about Bradbury and his love of all things spooky, check out our exhibit, Ray Bradbury: Inextinguishable online and at the museum….

Pro Tip 3: Don’t forget the pumpkins!

“The pumpkins began to come alive. One by one, starting at the bottom of the Tree and the nearest pumpkins, candles took fire within the raw interiors. This one and then that and this and then still another, and on up and around, three pumpkins there, seven pumpkins still higher, a dozen clustered beyond, a hundred, five hundred, a thousand pumpkins lit their candles, which is to say brightened up their faces, showed fire in their square or round or curiously slanted eyes. Flame guttered in their toothed mouths. Sparks leaped out their ripe-cut ears.”
—Ray Bradbury, The Halloween Tree

We can’t guarantee that your jack-o-lanterns will come to life, but they will certainly add to the ambience of the evening. We also cannot necessarily endorse lighting 1,000 candles for pumpkins, so please keep fire safety in mind just in case your pumpkins do come to life.

(10) MEMORY LANE.

1964 [By Cat Eldridge.] Outer Limits’ “Demon With A Glass Hand” (1964) 

Through all the legends of ancient peoples — Assyrian, Babylonian, Sumerian, Semitic — runs the saga of the Eternal Man, the one who never dies, called by various names in various times, but historically known as Gilgamesh, the man who has never tasted death … the hero who strides through the centuries … — Opening narration 

Fifty-eight years ago on this evening, Outer Limits’ “Demon With A Glass Hand” first aired on ABC. As you all know, it was written by Harlan Ellison and it was directed by Bryon Haskin who is best remembered for directing The War of the Worlds which won a Retro Hugo Award.

Really I don’t need SPOILER warnings here, do I? Surely you’ve seen it by now. I have and I think it’s one of the best genre stories ever done. 

Robert Culp played our central character, our so-called demon with a glass hand, I think it might well be his best performance of his long career. That Trent believes he is human is beautifully scripted by Ellison and acted out just perfectly by Culp right out to point when his hand is finally whole again. And then…

The production was perfect, the other performers, particularly Arlene Martel as Consuelo Biros, the woman in love with him until she discovers that he’s quite inhuman, is stellar in her role. And that hand? Years ahead of its time indeed! 

It was Ellison third genre script, his first being Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea‘s “The Price of Doom” the same year flowed by “Soldier” for here. He’d done some amount of mainstream writing — Burke’s LawRipcord and Route 66, but that was it for our end of things. Later on, his genre output did pick up.

A final note. It has long been held by fans and less than reputable media that “Demon with a Glass Hand” was why Ellison received a settlement after it was supposedly plagiarized for The Terminator.  Ellison clarified in a 2001 exchange with a fan at his Web site: “Terminator was not stolen from ‘Demon with a Glass Hand,’ it was a ripoff of my OTHER Outer Limits script, ‘Soldier.’”

Pluto and Youtube are streaming it. 

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 17, 1913 Robert Lowery. Batman in 1949’s Batman and Robin. You can see the first episode here. And he popped up in an episode of the Adventures of Superman. (Died 1971.)
  • Born October 17, 1914 Jerry Siegel. His most famous creation was Superman, which he created in collaboration with his friend Joe Shuster. He was inducted (along with the previously deceased Shuster) into the comic book industry’s Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame in 1992 and the Jack Kirby Hall of Fame in 1993. (Died 1996.)
  • Born October 17, 1921 Tom Poston. One of his acting first roles was The Alkarian (uncredited at the time ) in “The Mystery of Alkar” episode of Tom Corbett, Space Cadet in 1950. He much later had the recurring role of Mr. Bickley in Mork & Mindy. (Died 2007.)
  • Born October 17, 1926 Julie Adams. Her most famous role no doubt is being in the arms of The Creature from Black Lagoon. She also been on Alfred Hitchcock Presents three times, and once each on The Girl from U.N.C.L.E. The Night GalleryKolchak: The Night StalkerThe Incredible Hulk and Lost. (Died 2019.)
  • Born October 17, 1934 Alan Garner, 88. His best book? That’d be Boneland which technically is the sequel to The Weirdstone of Brisingamen and The Moon of Gomrath but really isn’t. Oh, and The Owl Service is amazing!
  • Born October 17, 1950 Michael Tolkin, 72. Of genre interest, he directed Deep Impact, he had uncredited writing in the first Punisher film and the same for Dawn of the Dead. Likewise The Haunting. Is that a form of ghostwriting? EoSF notes, “He also wrote and directed the adaptation of Robert A Heinlein’s ‘Jerry Was a Man’ (October 1947 Thrilling Wonder) for the Television Anthology Series Masters of Science Fiction (2007).” 
  • Born October 17, 1945 Thomas Kopache, 77. One of those actors who appeared in a lot of Trek — Next Generation twice in different roles followed by the Generations film then Voyager once followed by Deep Space Nine where he appeared twice in a recurring role, and finally twice on Enterprise in different roles.
  • Born October 17, 1966 Mark Gatiss, 56. English actor, screenwriter, director, producer and novelist. Writer for Doctor Who; with Steven Moffat, whom Gatiss worked with on Doctor Who and Jekyll, he also co-created and co-produced Sherlock. As an actor, I’ll note he does Vogon voices in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and is Mycroft Holmes in Sherlock.

(12) COMICS SECTION.

(13) WHAT SMELLS IN MIDDLE-EARTH? [Item by Olav Rokne.] Welp. They did not like that show. And after the finale, I’m inclined to agree. “Now it’s over, let’s come out and say it: The Rings of Power was a stinker”.

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power isn’t very good. It quite often isn’t anywhere near good. There are moments in almost every episode where I have found myself sniggering into my sleeve at how inept it is. And all these misgivings were massively underlined by the finale….

(14) IT’S IMPOSSIBLE. No, it’s not Perry Como. IGN unveiled the Something in the Dirt Official Trailer.

Levi has snagged a no-lease apartment sight unseen in the Hollywood Hills to crash at while he ties up loose ends for his exodus from Los Angeles. He quickly strikes up a rapport with his new neighbor John, swapping stories like old friends under the glowing, smoke-filled skies of the city. Soon after meeting, Levi and John witness something impossible in one of their apartments. Terrified at first, they soon realize this could change their lives and give them a purpose. With dollar signs in their eyes, these two eccentric strangers will attempt to prove the supernatural.

(15) AESTHETICS IN SFF. Heath Row looks back 50 years ago: “Book Review: ‘The Light That Never Was’ by Lloyd Biggle, Jr.” at the LASFS.org blog.

Lloyd Biggle, Jr., was a musicologist with a PhD in musicology, a musician, an educator, and an oral historian, so it might not come as a surprise that the arts—and aesthetics—play a major role in this delightful 1972 science fiction novel and in much of his sf writing. Biggle also served in various roles for the Science Fiction Writers of America, founded the Science Fiction Oral History Association, and turned to writing full time in the 1960s. Kelly Freas’s cover painting for this paperback edition captures the themes of the novel well: alien humanoids considering a human sculpture….

(16) LET THOSE WHO HAVE EARS. [Item by Tom Becker.] One time when Joni Mitchell was singing her famous song “Both Sides Now”, she flashed on how it related to Star Trek. “Both Sides Now”.

“Did you ever used to watch that show called Star Trek? (cheers from crowd) Oh… I just had a flash of this show, that I saw while I was singing this tune. It was the only show where Dr. Spock ever got any emotion, right? You remember that one? It was really great because… well, for those of you who never saw it, anyway, the premise is this…”

And Mitchell continues for about 400 words…

(17) ARECIBO WILL NOT BE REBUILT. “Fallen Arecibo Observatory telescope won’t be rebuilt” reports Space.com.

The Arecibo Observatory‘s massive radio dish was an unusual facility because it was a key player in three different fields of science: atmospheric studies, radio astronomy and planetary radar. Opened in 1963, the telescope’s observing equipment hung from a web-like platform strung over a massive dish 1,000 feet (305 meters) wide. But in December 2020, the cables supporting that platform gave out and the equipment crashed down through the delicate dish, destroying the telescope.

Now, the National Science Foundation (NSF), which owns the site, has determined that despite scientists’ pleas, Arecibo Observatory won’t be getting any new telescope to replace the loss. The new education project also doesn’t include any long-term funding for the instruments that remain operational at the observatory, including a 40-foot (12 m) radio dish and a lidar system….

… Instead, the NSF intends to build on the observatory’s legacy as a key educational institution in Puerto Rico by transforming the site into a hub for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education, due to open in 2023, according to a statement(opens in new tab). The observatory is also home to the Ángel Ramos Foundation Science and Visitor Center, which opened in 1997….

[Thanks to Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Bill, Kevin Standlee, Lise Andreasen, Olav Rokne, Tom Becker, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Dan’l Danehy-Oakes.]

Pixel Scroll 10/3/22 My Positronic Brain It Teems With Endless Subroutines

(1) FANTASTIC FICTION AT KGB FUNDRAISER. Fantastic Fiction at KGB is a monthly speculative-fiction reading series held on the second Wednesday of every month at the KGB Bar in Manhattan, hosted by Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel. Admission is always free. To cover the next round of guest expenses, they have launched their first fundraiser in three years, with a $6,000 goal: “Fantastic Fiction reading series at the KGB Bar Gofundme”.

The monthly series, which has been running since the late 1990s , serves as a salon, where writers, editors, agents, and fans of science fiction, fantasy, and horror can co-mingle in a shared event space. The series also served a vital social function during multiple Covid lockdown periods, when we featured authors from all over the globe on our live YouTube channel, and people who were isolated due to the lockdown could keep in contact with the writing community. We also release a free podcast, where we post audio recordings of the monthly readings.

Running the series costs us money. We pay a stipend to our guests, we pay for their drinks at the bar, and we also take them out to dinner after the readings. At present, the series costs about $2,000 per year to run. Unfortunately, we are almost out of money from our last fundraiser three years ago. We hope to raise at least $6,000, which will fund the series for three more years. It would be great if we could raise more.

(2) BLACK PANTHER. “Show them who we are.” A new trailer for Marvel Studios’ Black Panther: Wakanda Forever dropped today. See it only in theaters beginning November 11.

(3) CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS — JOURNEY PLANET: ANTHROPOCENE RUMINATIONS. [Item by Olav Rokne and Amanda Wakaruk.] When Chris Garcia and James Bacon approached us to guest edit an edition of their Hugo-winning fanzine Journey Planet, they asked us “what subject would you most like to tackle?”

The answer was easy: climate fiction.

Climate change is the defining crisis of our age. Given that the causes of climate change are rooted in technological transformations celebrated by the past century of science fiction, enthusiasts like us have some responsibility to grapple with what it means.

The upcoming “Anthropocene Ruminations” will contain some of the various ways in which SFF fans are grappling with a rapidly heating and chaotic planet: through fiction, through art, through poetry, and through critical discourse. 

We’re hoping to have reviews of books depicting climate change, discussions of historical trends, and examinations of aspects of climate change that may have been neglected by genre fiction. 

We’d love to hear article and art pitches from across the fandom community (that means all y’all). Send us your ideas before October 15 (email BOTH of us at amanda.wakaruk at gmail dot com and olavrokne at gmail dot com). We’re aiming to have the finished works submitted by November 15. 

Will “Anthropocene Ruminations” singlehandedly solve climate change? It’s too early to say for certain. What it’s not too early to say is that it will contain some pieces by Hugo-finalist and Hugo-winning fanwriters.

Drop us a line. Amanda & Olav. Unofficial Hugo Book Club Blog co-editors

(4) KEEPING UP WITH CORA BUHLERT. The alumni newsletter of Bremen University, Kurzmeldungen, listed Cora Buhlert’s Hugo win.

Issue Zero of New Edge Sword & Sorcery Magazine published Cora’s article about C.L. Moore and Jirel of Joiry, as well as fiction and non-fiction by Howard Andrew Jones, Brian Murphy, Milton J. Davis, Nicole Emmelhainz, David C. Smith, Dariel R.A. Quiogue, Remco van Strane and Angeline B. Adams, Bryn Hammond, J.M. Clarke, T.K. Rex, Robin Marx and editor Oliver Brackebury. The digital edition is free, the print editions are fairly cheap.

And Cora has an essay about anime in West Germany in the 1970s and 1980s in Rising Sun Reruns: Memories of Japanese TV Shows from Today’s Grown-Up Kids.

In these pages you will find glowing memories of flights of fancy such as Ultraman, Johnny Sokko and His Flying Robot, Astro Boy, Battle of the Planets, Space Giants, Speed Racer, Robotech, and many, many more—including a few you may never even heard of!

(5) NOBEL PRIZE FOR PHYSIOLOGY OR MEDICINE. “Svante Pääbo Wins Nobel Prize for Unraveling the Mysteries of Neanderthal DNA”Smithsonian Magazine has the story.

The Nobel Committee for Physiology or Medicine awarded the field’s top prize on Monday to Svante Pääbo, a Swedish geneticist who determined how to extract and analyze DNA from 40,000-year-old Neanderthal bones. Pääbo’s decades of research have made it possible for scientists to begin probing differences between today’s modern humans and their ancient ancestors.

Pääbo, who is 67, has spent decades pioneering and perfecting new methods of extracting Neanderthal DNA, an extremely complex and challenging process. Over time, very old DNA degrades and can become polluted with the DNA of bacteria, and modern scientists can also easily contaminate it with their own genetic material.

But time and again, Pääbo found ways around these and other issues. In 2010, after years of painstaking work, Pääbo and his team published the sequenced Neanderthal genome, a feat that at one time was considered impossible, reports the New York Times’ Benjamin Mueller. As Elizabeth Kolbert wrote in her book The Sixth Extinction, the process was like trying to reconstruct a “Manhattan telephone book from pages that have been put through a shredder, mixed with yesterday’s trash, and left to rot in a landfill.”

…On Monday morning, Pääbo was just finishing a cup of tea when he got a call from Sweden. He assumed the call was bad news about his family’s summer home in Sweden and was instead surprised to learn he’d won the Nobel Prize. When asked whether he ever envisioned winning science’s most prestigious prize, Pääbo humbly replied that he “somehow did not think that this really would… qualify for a Nobel Prize,” per an interview posted on the Nobel Prize website….

Here’s a further excerpt from the Nobel’s “Svante Pääbo – Interview”.

…AS: Your work is of course on the sequencing of these early hominins. What does our knowledge, your knowledge of the genetic makeup of those species tell us about our relationship with them.

SP: Well, it does tell us that we are very closely related, first of all, and we’re actually so closely related that they have contributed quite directly, 50, 60 thousand years ago, DNA to the ancestors of most people today, those who have their roots outside Africa. And that variation that, sort of, those variants do have an influence, and influence many things in our physiology today.

AS: Do you think that changes our view of ourselves, knowing that?

SP: In some sense, I do think it does so, the sort of realisation that until quite recently, maybe 14 hundred generations or so ago there were other forms of humans around and they mixed with our ancestors and have contributed to us today. The fact that the last 40 thousand years is quite unique in human history, in that we are the only form of humans around. Until that time, there were almost always other types of humans that existed.

(6) A MOMENT IN SFF HISTORY. “Science Fiction In Communist Bloc Changed Forever 40 Years Ago” writes Jaroslav Olsa Jr., the Consul General of the Czech Consulate in Los Angeles.

In October 1982, the first issue of FANTASTYKA, Polish science fiction monthly reached its first readers. This was the first real science fiction magazine in the former Soviet bloc! And it had an enormous impact on science fiction in other neighbouring countries as the situation in Eastern Europe was significantly different than in Western Europe as all publishing business in Soviet bloc was under strict control of each state and its leading (often Communist) party. The publishing houses were operated and owned predominantely by state ministries or its subsidiaries, controlled more or less visibly by various types of censorship bodies and though in some Soviet bloc countries in different times publishing was allowed greater freedom (e. g. Yugoslavia, Hungary and/or 1980s Poland), there was never allowed a free press.

And thus even publishing SF fanzines was a sort of risky adventure…

Thank you late Adam Hollanek, late Maciej Parowski, late Andrzej Krzepkowski, Jacek Rodek, Andrzej Wójcik and many many others, who gave us Fantastyka, and who helped us to open the window to science fiction in the West and internationalize science fiction – something then a real novelty….

(7) MICKEY MOUSE CAPITALISM. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times behind a paywall, Elaine Moore discusses how Disney CEO Bob Chapek is concerned that people who show up at a Disney park every week are crowding out the occasional visitor who will spend a lot of money on stuff.

The problem is that super fans don’t spend as much per visit as occasional park visitors.  There are only so many Minnie Mouse headbands a person can wear.  For some, the annual pass that allows buyers to visit Disney parks throughout the year is extremely good value too.  A one day trip to Disney World in Florida is $109.  The annual Incredi Pass is $1,299 plus tax. Visit once a month and you break even.  Go every week and you’d save over $4,000.  The mismatch has shades of the MoviePass debacle, in which subscribers paid less than $10 per month for multiple cinema trips.  MoviePass guessed they might visit once or twice a month.  But their willingness to go day after day left the company bankrupt…

…At the recent D23 Expo there were complaints that passes were still suspended.  Unluckily for them, Chapek used to run the parks division.  He knows that demand is far higher than supply and is sufficiently unsentimental to take advantage.  Prices would double and visitors would pay them.  Disney fans may moan but they will still keep coming back.”

(8) ANTI-MUSLIM SENTIMENTS. The culture war is engulfing Bollywood reports the Guardian: “Bollywood under siege as rightwing social media boycotts start to bite”.

…For decades, India’s Hindi film industry, known as Bollywood, has been one of the country’s most popular products, for Indians themselves and the world at large. But the consolidation of Hindu nationalism under the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), has marked a cultural shift.

Laal Singh Chaddha stars, and is produced by, Aamir Khan, one of Hindi cinema’s trio of superstar Khans (Shahrukh and Salman are the other two, all unrelated). On its release, social-media platforms witnessed a tidal wave of targeted attacks calling for a boycott of the movie. The resurfacing of remarks made by Khan on the rise of “intolerance” in India in 2015, as well as clips from his 2014 film PK (which criticised blind-faith belief) were coupled with targeted tweets. Laal Singh Chaddha has fared poorly at the box office, but the calls for a boycott have not stopped. Other movies, such as Vikram Vedha, Dobaara, Shamshera and Brahmastra, are also in the line of fire, the last two owing to the recirculation of 11-year-old remarks by the lead actor, Ranbir Kapoor, on eating beef….

(9) SALES FIGURES. In the Washington Post, David Betancourt looks at the process that Hasbro uses to make 32-inch action figures that cost $399,99.  (The latest, Galactus, will be “a towering 32-inch monstrosity of plastic articulation.”)  Betancourt says Hasbro uses a crowdfunding method of deciding which giant action figures to make; they greenlit the huge Galactus last summer after 14,000 people agreed to buy it.) “Would you buy a $400 Marvel action figure? Thousands of people can’t wait.”

In comic books,Galactus is known as the devourer of worlds. When it comes to action figures, Galactus is now the destroyer of wallets.

Hasbro decided that its newest figure depicting the giant planet eater from Marvel’s Fantastic Four wouldn’t be the typical six-inch toy that retails inthe $20 to $30 range and decorates work desks and bookshelves. This Galactus,with a design based on the art of famed Marvel writer-artist John Byrne, would be a towering 32-inch-tall monstrosity of plastic articulation. The figure, scheduled for release some timethis fall, is the biggest toy Hasbro has ever built for its Marvel line, which is fitting, given Galactus’s gigantic stature….

(10) A FREE-TO-READ STORY. Sunday Morning Transport presents “A Hole in the Light” by Annalee Newitz, “an astounding new world wrapped around a stellar story of grief and growth.”

Arch had never been to a ritual of dissolution for someone who mattered.

Of course, there were distant kin who had died. But when they dissolved, it felt like they had moved to the next village: poignant, but not a disaster. The artificiality of the ritual made her more uncomfortable than their loss. Well, perhaps that wasn’t quite true. She had genuinely suffered when her physics teacher had died, and she could no longer ask questions about what lay beyond the village of Slope-Toward-Sea, on the planet Skiff, wrapped in the mottled glow of the eroding firmament. Even when her teacher dissolved, though, the ritual had seemed absurd….

(11) MEMORY LANE.  

2016 [By Cat Eldridge.] Six years ago on NBC the Timeless series debuted. (Yes, I do delve into the recent past on occasion). It would last but two seasons. (Yes, two seasons. Read below for why it was only two seasons, really.)

Not terribly original in concept, it involved a group that attempts to stop a mysterious organization from changing the course of history through time travel. 

It was created by Eric Kripke who of Supernatural series fame along with the later The Boys, and Shawn Ryan who’s done nothing else they genre wise but has created S.W.A.T. that I love and Lie to Me, a rather odd crime drama series I also like a lot. Yes, I have odd tastes.

Project Lifeboat, among its members, had a history professor, a Delta forces soldier, a computer programmer and a creator of the Lifeboat time machines. Ok I did say it wasn’t a terribly original concept, didn’t I so guess what? NBC got sued by the Spanish series El ministerio del tiempo (The Ministry of Time), which follows the adventures of a three-person team made up of two men and a woman who travel to the past with a view to preserving past events.  

It went to court but eventually “their attorneys of record hereby stipulate that the entire civil action may be and hereby is dismissed with prejudice, with each party bearing that party’s fees and costs of suit.” One assumes that large sums of money were involved. Isn’t there always money involved when such things need to be settled?

Getting back to the series, it was cancelled after the second season but a massive, and I do mean massive, fan campaign sort of saved it, so it got a special two-part finale. It originally didn’t make the cut for the next fall season but when they started getting a pushback from fans, NBC responded saying “And then we woke up the next morning, heard the outcry (from fans). We went back to the drawing board, with our partners at Sony, and we found a way to bring it back. It’s extraordinarily well produced and deserved to come back.”

Unlike many similar series, it was allowed a proper wrap-up. Fandango noted, “A fitting farewell, Timeless wraps with a fun, festive finale that ties up loose ends and provides enough fan service to satisfy.”

It carries a most excellent seventy-seven percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. It does not appear to be streaming for free anywhere. 

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 3, 1933 Norman Adams. The SF Encyclopedia says genre wise that “Adams may be best known for his cover for the first edition of Larry’s Niven’s World of Ptavvs” on Ballantine Books in 1966.  I must say having looked at his ISFDB listings that their assessment is absolutely right. (Died 2014.)
  • Born October 3, 1927 Don Bensen. Best-known for his novel And Having Writ… which is not in print in form digitally or in hard copy — damn it. Indeed, nothing by him is. Huh. (Died 1997.)
  • Born October 3, 1931 Ray Nelson, 91. SF writer best known for his short story “Eight O’Clock in the Morning” which was the basis of John Carpenter’s They Live.  He later collaborated with Philip K. Dick on The Ganymede Takeover. In the 1940s Nelson appropriated the propeller beanie as a symbol of science fiction fandom. His fannish cartoons were recognized with the Rotsler Award in 2003. He was inducted to the First Fandom Hall of Fame in 2019.
  • Born October 3, 1935 Madlyn Rhue. She on Trek’s “Space Seed” as Lt. Marla McGivers, Khan Noonien Singh’s (Ricardo Montalbán) love interest. Other genre appearances included being on the original Fantasy Island as Lillie Langtry in “Legends,” and Maria in the “Firefall” episode of Kolchak: The Night. (Died 2003.)
  • Born October 3, 1944 Katharine Kerr, 78. Ok I’m going to confess that I’ve not read her Deverry series so please tell me how they are. Usually I do read such Celtic tinged series so I don’t know how I missed them.
  • Born October 3, 1964 Clive Owen, 58. First role I saw him in was the title role of Stephen Crane in the Chancer series. Not genre, but fascinating none the less. He’s been King Arthur in film of the same name where Keira Knightley was Guinevere. He’s also was in Sin City as Dwight McCarthy, and in The Pink Panther (though weirdly uncredited) as Nigel Boswell/Agent 006. I’ll also single him out for being Commander Arun Filitt in Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets.
  • Born October 3, 1973 Lena Headey, 49. Many of you will know her as Cersei Lannister on Game of Thrones, but I liked her sociopathic Madeline “Ma-Ma” Madrigal on Dredd better.  She was also Angelika in The Brothers Grimm, a film I’m sure I’ve seen but remember nothing about. 

(13) COMICS SECTION.

(14) SURPRISE BEGINNING. John Grayshaw of the Middletown PA Public Library arranged for questions about Murray Leinster to be answered for his Online Science Fiction Book Club by Steven H Silver and the author’s daughter, Billee Stallings. See the Q&A here: “Interview about Murray Leinster”. Note: Murray Leinster was the pen name of Will Jenkins, but I never knew til now that H.L. Mencken was behind his decision to use one.

Damo Mac Choiligh: A trivial question perhaps, but where did he get the pseudonym ‘Leinster’? The word is the English version of the name of a region of Ireland, well known to any Rugby fans.

Billee: When Will was published in Smart Set magazine in his teens, H. L. Mencken put down the other magazines he was selling to and said he should use a pen name and save his own for the “good stuff” (ie; Smart Set). Dad selected Murray from his mother’s maiden name (Murry. Wyndham Martyn, an English writer for the magazine, suggested Leinster. Martyn (known for the Anthony Trent novels) told him the Fitzgeralds (Dad’s middle name) were descended from the Dukes of Leinster.

(15) A DIFFERENT KIND OF TIMELESS NEWS. In 2020, Alex Ross crafted over 30 extraordinary depictions of Marvel’s most beloved super heroes in a beautiful art piece known as Timeless. This iconic imagery was used to produce a best-selling variant cover program and now… it’s the villains turn.

The legendary artist’s newest art piece deviously unites 37 of Marvel’s classic villains! Capturing the menace, danger, and allure of characters like Green Goblin, Doctor Doom, and Thanos, this stunning group shot represents the definitive takes on Marvel’s deadliest foes straight from one the industry’s most revered talents! Look for this beautifully painted artwork to be used for a new series of variant covers starting in March 2023.

“The passion I held for illustrating many of Marvel’s heroes in a timeless representation was easily matched by the passion I felt for illustrating the villains,” Ross said. “Marvel clearly has some of the greatest concepts in the realm of supervillains as well as heroes.”

Find more information about Alex Ross’ new piece including which titles it’ll grace the covers of at Marvel.com.

(16) HERE THEY COME AGAIN. “’The Rings of Power’ Season 2 Has Started Filming” in the UK says The Hollywood Reporter.

The news follows the first official Nielsen ratings being released Thursday for the Prime Video series, showing The Rings of Power topped the streaming charts for its debut week with 1.3 billion minutes viewed (likely an Amazon series record given that only two hours were released).

The first season of the show was filmed in New Zealand over an epic stretch of 18 months during the pandemic. For season two, which will consist of eight episodes, Amazon switched the show’s production to the U.K., which is considered more economical and is also where the company is establishing a multishow hub….

(17) SCREEN TIME. Here are JustWatch’s September’s Sci-Fi Top 10 lists:

Rank*MoviesTV shows
1NopeQuantum Leap
2Everything Everywhere All at OnceThe Handmaid’s Tale
3Jurassic World DominionSeverance
4MoonfallWar of the Worlds
5AvatarThe Twilight Zone
6PreyOrphan Black
7Jurassic World: Fallen KingdomDoctor Who
8The ThingLa Brea
9Jurassic WorldThe X-Files
10Crimes of the FutureMoonhaven

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

(18) MORE HOLLYWOOD BUZZ. The teaser trailer for the new Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania movie dropped Friday.

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

Pixel Scroll 9/18/22 Scrolling Pixels In The Park

(1) HE KEPT IT UNDER HIS HAT. Rob Wilkins, who assisted Terry Pratchett for many years, writes a long profile about him for the Guardian: “’I think I was good, though I could have been better’: Terry Pratchett and the writing of his life”. “After he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, the Discworld author began an autobiography. He never finished it, but seven years after his death, his long-time assistant has taken up the task.”

…Terry also had strong and, some might even say, puritanical ideas about how much money he should accept in advance of a book’s publication. If he couldn’t be confident that the advance would earn itself out inside three years and that the book would go into profit and yield royalties, he refused to accept it. At one point, for example, Transworld offered Terry £125,000 for a book. This was in the mid-1990s, when a generous offer for a book of its nature would have been in the region of £25,000, so that six-figure offer was an emphatic demonstration of confidence in Terry’s writing. Colin, naturally, was excited to tell Terry about it. The conversation they had was short and pointed. Colin then found himself ringing Transworld and saying: “I have conveyed your offer to Terry, and I’m afraid he is not at all happy with it … No, he says it’s far too much and he would like me to agree a deal with you for less.”…

(2) THE KICKOFF. Charlie Jane Anders is the new sf/fantasy book reviewer for The Washington Post. Here is her first column: “4 witchy books from the world of science fiction and fantasy”.

When Megan Giddings told her agent she wanted to write a novel about witches, he told her: “If anybody can make them feel new, it’s you.” In the acknowledgments of her new novel, The Women Could Fly” (Amistad),Giddings says she didn’t entirely agree with him that witches feel like a tired subgenre; to her, there’s always room for another take.

Luckily for anyone who feels the same way, a wealth of novels about witches has come out recently — and many of them do feel brand new.

To be sure, many recent witch novels explore timeworn themes: Witches are distrusted and feared and must conceal themselves from the world. But Giddings and other authors also uncover fresh layers to the classic witch tales, exploring the complexity of anti-witch attitudes in an enriching and timely way….

(3) IT’S NOT EVEN THE THING I’M POINTING AT WHEN I SAY ‘FANZINE’.  In “Fan v Pro v Fanzine”, Camestros Felapton ventures into the twisty little maze of passages all alike.

…But seriously, I think the current knot arises out of an unwillingness to redefine what a fanzine is. Functionally, fan artist and fan writer arose out of fanzine culture where fanzine didn’t need a definition. To a lesser degree the mess around semi-prozine arises there as well. There’s an intuitive sense of three grades of platforms were stuff happens: professional, fan and somewhere in between (a labour of love that aspires to be a going concern).

There are many available dimensions but none by themselves capture the essence of the fanzine distinction:

  • profit v non-profit
  • paywall v open access
  • corporate v non-corporate
  • size – number of people involved in the endeavour
  • fiction v non-fiction
  • hobby v “job”
  • weight class – a mix of size, influence and professional demeanour I guess
  • paying writers or not
  • paying staff or not
  • general vibe

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

commercial-corporate v. non-commericial-corporate gets closest to a distinction but not one that I could convert into a sensible set of rules.

Which means that I must circle back to the notion of self-identification as fan or pro. That also has tricky cases (a pro-writer who is a fan artists or vice versa) but if the point is to address the weight-class idea then maybe that is the least problematic pain point to accept. Put another way, if we see the “original sin” of John Scalzi’s* fan writer win not as blogs v print fanzines, not as style of genre question (clearly it was in the genre of fan writing), not as whether he is a real fan (clearly he is), but as a question of whether the voting is distorted because he had a large voting base in the Hugo Awards and major name recognition…then self-identification for the purpose of award eligibility gets at that issue….

(4) AND HE’D DO IT ALL OVER AGAIN.  Meanwhile, John Scalzi’s ears are burning.

(5) HWA CELEBRATES LATINX HORROR AUTHORS. The latest entry in the Horror Writers Association blog’s “Latinx Heritage in Horror” series is an “Interview with LP Hernandez”.

What inspired you to start writing?

Reading fueled my love of writing. I was a constant Scholastic Book Fair customer, addicted to the smell of new Goosebumps or Fear Street books. Eventually, I progressed to King, McCammon, and Tolkien. I began writing stories at around nine or ten. I remember corralling my mother in the morning as she attempted to get ready for work, handing her what I knew was going to be a best seller and requesting she read it right there in front of me.

(6) RATED ARRRRH! Do people still do “Talk Like a Pirate Day”? If so, it’s tomorrow, September 19.

(7) UNTRUE GRIT. Brian Murphy shares his appreciation for the Bard books by Keith Taylor: “Under the Spell of Keith Taylor’s Bard Songs” at Goodman Games.

…A characteristic of good sword-and-sorcery is earthiness; even if not set in some ancient age of our own earth, sword-and-sorcery nevertheless is typically gritty, even grimy, in its realism. Joseph McCullough once described sword-and-sorcery with the terse, pithy, “fantasy with dirt.” That works for me.

Over this layer of grit, which serves to ground the reader somewhere recognizable and to spare overly tedious worldbuilding, the skilled sword-and-sorcery writer adds in the fantastic, in small doses. Weird monsters and dark sorcery that feels alien, and dangerous, and when it appears casts its spell upon the reader….

(8) HOUSES DIVIDED. The New York Times explores “How Russian Trolls Helped Keep the Women’s March Out of Lock Step”.

…For more than a century, Russia and the Soviet Union sought to weaken their adversaries in the West by inflaming racial and ethnic tensions. In the 1960s, K.G.B. officers based in the United States paid agents to paint swastikas on synagogues and desecrate Jewish cemeteries. They forged racist letters, supposedly from white supremacists, to African diplomats.

They did not invent these social divisions; America already had them. Ladislav Bittman, who worked for the secret police in Czechoslovakia before defecting to the United States, compared Soviet disinformation programs to an evil doctor who expertly diagnoses the patient’s vulnerabilities and exploits them, “prolongs his illness and speeds him to an early grave instead of curing him.”

A decade ago, Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin, oversaw a revival of these tactics, seeking to undermine democracies around the world from the shadows.

Social media now provided an easy way to feed ideas into American discourse, something that, for half a century, the K.G.B. had struggled to do. And the Russian government secretly funneled more than $300 million to political parties in more than two dozen countries in an effort to sway their policies in Moscow’s favor since 2014, according to a U.S. intelligence review made public last week.

What effect these intrusions had on American democracy is a question that will be with us for years. It may be unanswerable. Already, social media was amplifying Americans’ political impulses, leaving behind a trail of damaged communities. Already, trust in institutions was declining, and rage was flaring up in public life. These things would have been true without Russian interference.

But to trace the Russian intrusions over the months that followed that first Women’s March is to witness a persistent effort to make all of them worse….

(9) MORE TROLLS WITH OPINIONS. The homegrown trolls are also busy. “The Rings of Power Gets Review Bombed: Amazon Turns Off Ratings”The Hollywood Reporter has the story.

Where’s a wizard to fight trolls when you need one?

The mega-budget fantasy series The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power is under fire from some of its viewers. A day after the first two episodes of Amazon’s billion-dollar baby debuted on Prime Video, the show’s average audience score on Rotten Tomatoes is a “rotten” 37 percent, and reviews on Amazon have been outright suspended.

Compare that score to TV critics giving the show a very fresh 83 percent average, and many of the reviews were highly enthusiastic (“It’s great: a gorgeously immersive and grandly ambitious spectacle, packed with stunning imagery and compelling plot threads,” wrote TV Line). The Hollywood Reporter dubbed the first two episodes a rather successful, promising start.

The scores come a couple weeks after Marvel’s She-Hulk was declared review bombed on the site, with 88 percent critics score and an initial 36 percent audience score.

How The Rings of Power is doing on Amazon’s own user review ecosystem is not yet clear because the company has taken the unusual step of suspending user ratings for the show. An Amazon source says reviews are being held 72 hours to help weed out trolls and to ensure each review is legitimate. The source later claimed Prime Video started the policy this summer on all its shows.

“Review bombing” is when a group of online users post numerous negative reviews for a product or service due to its perceived cultural or political issues rather than its actual quality….

(10) HENRY SILVA (1926-2022). [Item by Cora Buhlert.] Actor Henry Silva, whose genre rolls include The Manchurian Candidate (well, I think it’s genre), Killer Kane in Buck Rogers in the 25th Century and the voice of Bane in Batman: The Animated Series, died September 13 at the age of 95.

…“Henry Silva is one of those guys you most likely will recognize even if you don’t know his name,” onetime Crimespree magazine writer Dave Wahlman wrote in 2016. “His face is something straight out of central casting if you were looking for a villain. It alternates between the insipid glee of potential mayhem and looking emotionless and dead as a stone.”

…He went on to make dozens of movies in Europe, the majority of which were in the Italian “poliziotteschi” genre. “Funny thing,” he said in a 1971 interview, “over here they see me as a bad guy; in Europe, they see me as a hero.”… 

(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.  

1964 [By Cat Eldridge.] There are series I refuse to rewatch lest the Suck Fairy with her steel toed boots stomps all over it.  The Addams Family series which premiered on this evening fifty-eight years ago on ABC is definitely one of them. I unreservedly loved that series. 

The Los Angeles Times in its obituary of David Levy explained how he came to create the series: “The idea for the series came to Levy when he was strolling with a friend down New York’s 5th Avenue and passed a display of Addams’ books. One, ‘Homebodies,’ showed the entire group of Addams characters in a family portrait on the cover. Levy was stopped in his tracks by the sight and told his friend: ‘There’s a hit series!’”

Now let’s talk about the characters here. Who wasn’t perfect? Be it John Astin as Gomez Addams or Carolyn Jones as his wife Morticia, they played their roles perfectly. And no, I’m certainly not forgetting Wednesday, their child. (Surely the name comes from the English folk poem, Wednesday’s child is full of woe), Uncle Fester or Thing. Not to mention Lurch played oh-so-well by Ted Cassidy. 

It had pets, presaging to a great extent what Lio would have. Aristotle was Pugsley’s pet octopus and Fang was his pet jaguar. Addams Family had a lion called Kitty Kat and they piranhas, Tristan and Isolde. Zelda was their vulture. Morticia had a very large carnivorous plant named Cleopatra and Wednesday has a pet tarantula by the name of Homer.

It didn’t last nearly as long as I thought did — just two seasons totaling sixty-four episodes shot in glorious black and white. 

Halloween with the New Addams Family aired eleven years after the series went off the air with new characters added in. Seven years after the series was cancelled, the animated version of The Addams Family aired for sixteen episodes. It’s notable for a young Jodie Foster voicing Pugsley Addams. Only Jackie Coogan and Ted Cassidy, who played Uncle Fester and Lurch from the series, returned in voice acting roles.

Gold Key Comics produced a comic book series in connection with the show, but it only lasted three issues.

It streams on Amazon and Paramount +. Of course Paramount + owns the Columbia catalog and Columbia produced it.

It has a near perfect ninety-eight percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes.

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 18, 1884 Gertrude Barrows Bennett. She’s been called by many a pioneering author of genre fiction. She wrote a number of fantasies between in the late 1910s and early 1920s, and has been called “the woman who invented dark fantasy”. Her short story, “The Curious Experience of Thomas Dunbar” which was published under G.M. Barrows in Argosy is considered the first time that an American female writer published an SF story using her real name. (Go ahead, dispute it.) I’m pleased to say that the usual suspects are heavily stocked with her works.  (Died 1948.)
  • Born September 18, 1917 June Foray. Voice performer with such roles as Cindy Lou Who, Natasha Fatale and Rocky the Flying Squirrel. She also provided the voice of Lucifer the Cat from Disney’s Cinderella. She also did a lot of witches such as Looney Tunes’ Witch Hazel which you can hear over here. She was instrumental in the creation of the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature twenty years ago. OGH has a most touching remembrance here. (Died 2017.)
  • Born September 18, 1946 Struan Rodger, 76. He was the Bishop in Stardust, and shows up in the A Discovery of Witches as John Dee. (Loved the novels, skipped the series as I always do.) He voiced the Three-Eyed Raven in The Game of Thrones’ “The Lion and The Rose” and “The Children”.  More interestingly he’s got multiple roles in Doctor Who. First he’s The Voice of The Face of Boe in the Tenth Doctor stories, “New Earth” and “Gridlock”, next he’s Clayton in the Twelfth Doctor story, “The Women Who Lived” and finally he’s a voice again, that of Kasaavin in “Skyfall, Part One”, a Thirteenth Doctor story. 
  • Born September 18, 1946 Nicholas Clay. Here for playing Lancelot on Excalibur. He did two earlier horror films, The Damned and Terror of Frankenstein, and he was The Prince in Sleeping Beauty. For television work, he’s done The Adventures of Sherlock HolmesThe Hound of the BaskervillesZorroThe New Adventures of Robin HoodVirtual MurderHighlander and Merlin. (Died 2000.)
  • Born September 18, 1948 Lynn Abbey, 74. She’s best known for co-creating and co-editing with Robert Lynn Asprin (whom she was married to for 13 years) the quite superb Thieves’ World series of shared-setting anthologies. (Now complete in twelve volumes.) Her Sanctuary novel set in the Thieves’ World universe is quite excellent. I’ve not kept up with her latter work, so y’all will have to tell me how it is. Most, if not all, of the Thieves’ World series is available from the usual digital suspects.
  • Born September 18, 1959 Mark Romanek, 63. His first film was Static about a teenager who invents a device he claims can show picture of Heaven. Cult hit in the UK after Robyn Hitchcock prompted it. Never Let Me Go, a film released a decade ago postulated clones whose organs were harvested that made life extension possible in the UK. US reviewers thought it was fact leading it to having a text prologue explaining it was fiction.
  • Born September 18, 1963 Gary Russell, 59. A very prolific director of audio narratives for Big Finish Productions, having done forty-five Doctor Who and related productions, which is to say the Sarah Jane and Bernice Summerfield lines as well. He’s written novels that feature Doctor Who and related characters. He’s written three nonfiction works, two Who related, no surprise there, and one called The Art of The Lord of the Rings.
  • Born September 18, 1984 Caitlin Kittredge, 38. Known for her Nocturne City series of adult novels which I’d not heard of before this, and for The Iron Codex, a series of YA novels, but I think her best work is by far the Black London series. She’s penned a Witchblade series at Image Comics, and the excellent Coffin Hill series for Vertigo. 

(13) COMICS SECTION.

(14) EDGE CASE. “R. Crumb Means Some Offense” is a profile of the iconic comix creator in the New York Times.

…Crumb used to attend comic conventions and book signings, but now he makes very few public appearances. He never really picked up French (he relies on Kominsky-Crumb for that), and his social circle is small. Crumb’s followed in the long line of artists and writers who have exiled themselves from America, but his life abroad feels far more circumscribed than most. He doesn’t even have a cellphone. (At one point, he looks at his wife’s and says earnestly, “It’s listening to us right now.”) He uses email but “I worry about it,” he says. “Any email you write goes into the N.S.A. computer banks.” He’s only voted once in his life, for Barack Obama in 2008. Yet even living thousands of miles from America, disconnected from its culture by so many moats of his own making, he is, like many of his expatriate predecessors, a dedicated and unflinching observer of home. It was his ability to capture the id of America — in all its decadence, hypocrisy and lecherousness — that established him as an artist; that ability is unmatched nearly six decades later. He’s been called an “equal opportunity offender”: For his entire career, he’s angered the left, the right and everyone in between. It’s why his work remains, more than that of perhaps any other artist today, a litmus test for how much we’re willing to put up with for the sake of art….

(15) CONSTANTINE NEWS. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] There can be only one. AKA The Law of Conservation of Constantines. “Keanu Reeves’ Constantine Sequel Means JJ Abrams’ Constantine Show is Dead, For Now” reports Gizmodo.

Just before the weekend started, Warner Bros. Discovery up and surprised everyone when they revealed that a sequel to their 2005 Constantine movie was in development. With Keanu Reeves and original director Francis Lawrence both set to return, it seemed like a pleasant shock…until one had to remember that way back in 2021, the corporation announced that JJ Abrams was working on a series for the Hellblazer. And like with much of what’s recently happened with HBO Max, the situation for Abrams’ show is now in a weird bind.

Per Variety, the new Constantine show, along with the Madame Xanadu series being headed up True Blood’s Angela Robinson, are both dead at the moment…. 

(16) SCREEN TIME. Gizmodo is also prepared to fill you in about the coming season of genre TV: “Fall 2022 TV Preview: All the Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and Horror Shows”.

Your TV brain might be completely hardwired into magical rings and lusty dragons these days, but there are so many more sci-fi, fantasy, and horror shows—both returning and new—coming to screens this season.

Scroll through for our handy calendar of all the geeky series that you need to know about, with the caveat that dates may be subject to change….

(17) LIFE LESSONS. His role in Tron is the ObSF reference, however, there’s so much more! “’Dealing with your mortality, it makes things more precious’: Hollywood legend Jeff Bridges on the gift of life after cancer” in the Guardian.

…So he’s someone who can quickly identify and make the most of a bright side. As I’m not someone like that, I ask him how he does it. How did he stay positive through two vicious illnesses? Bridges starts to tell an apparently unrelated story, the relevance of which only gradually becomes clear. “So I’m remembering the very last gift my father gave me, before he died,” he says. His father, Lloyd, was a successful TV actor who died in 1998. “Sue and I had this new house at the time,” Bridges continues, “huge grounds, and what I really wanted for my birthday was a neat little electric golf cart to get around the property. I know Dad’s bought something cool for me. I open a door. And there… It’s not the golf cart I wanted… It’s like a motorised, gasoline-operated, dump truck kind of a thing. In my mind I’m thinking, ‘Oh, shit. This is not what I want at all.’ But I say thank you to him. Then he dies. Suddenly I’m using this vehicle all the time. I’m constantly saying to myself, ‘This is so much better than a golf cart! It’s so much more powerful! There are so many things I can get done!’”…

(18) HOT STUFF. Get ready to serve breakfast on Halloween: “Dash Mini Waffle Maker — Halloween, Black and Orange”.

SPOOKY WAFFLES: The Dash Halloween Mini Waffle Maker 2-pack is perfect for making spooky waffles for fall and beyond. Plus make your favorite breakfast classics and get creative with waffled hash browns, cookies and more

(19) NASA RELIC. “A Busted Trailer Listed on a Government Auction Website Turned Out to Be a Space Fan’s Dream: a NASA Command Vehicle”. ArtNet News tellxs all about it.

For most people trawling government auctions, the listing would not have stood out: GSA Auctions, a division of the General Services Administration, was offering up a vehicle described simply as a “1989 Airstream Executive Air Coach,” with no minimum bid.

An online sleuth, however, was able to determine that the RV was probably once used in NASA’s Space Shuttle program. Acquired for just $21,000, the historic item was a major steal for any fan of space memorabilia…. 

The upshot? “This van was the official Convoy Command Vehicle for the Space Shuttle at Edwards,” Higgins wrote. “It directed all Shuttle recovery procedures once the spacecraft was on the ground! And it’s for sale currently at $10k.” (He also shared a YouTube video of the vehicle in action.)

Some 19 bidders competed for the former Convoy Command Vehicle, with interest leaping from $10,000 to over $20,000 in the final day….

(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Alasdair Beckett-King parodies “Every ‘Not So Fast… I’ll Be Taking That’ Scene”.

When you’re a rogue archaeologist in search of a surprisingly cheap-looking idol. I’m really pushing the limits of what one man with four hats can do, here.

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Cora Buhlert, Steven French, Andrew Porter, 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 Cliff.]

Pixel Scroll 9/15/22 One Fist Science Fiction, The Other Fantasy, If The Right One Don’t Get You, Then The Left One Will

(1) JUSTICE FOR SYLVIA ANDERSON. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Last night’s BBC Radio 4 arts programme, Front Row, devoted a substantive amount of time to the airbrushing of Sylvia Anderson from Anderson productions by Gerry Anderson and then the Anderson estate. This included unlawful contracts that lost her many years of royalties. Absolutely shocking. “Richard Eyre’s The Snail House; Sylvia Anderson and women in TV; the late Jean-Luc Godard”.

The name Sylvia Anderson was recently invoked by Dr. Lisa Cameron MP, during a debate on gender equality in the media in Westminster Hall. The late Sylvia Anderson was a pioneer in the male dominated world of television, co-creating Thunderbirds in the 1960s with her then husband Gerry. But her family say her name has often been omitted from credits and merchandise in the years since then. Samira speaks to Sylvia’s daughter Dee Anderson and Dame Heather Rabbatts, Chair of Time’s Up UK, who are campaigning for her legacy to be restored and to Barbara Broccoli, producer of the James Bond films, who remembers Sylvia as her mentor.

(2) PIECES OF CHICON 8. In episode 66 of the Octothorpe podcast, “Thank You, Steven”, John Coxon is in the fanzine lounge, Alison Scott is under a bison hat, and Liz Batty is good, thank you.

We chat to people in the fanzine lounge at Chicon 8. (Sorry about the background noise, and normal service resumes next week.)

Alt text. A purple square with “OCTOTHORPE 66” written at the bottom and inset, a photograph of John, Alison, and Liz. John is wearing a grey suit with a Hugo Award finalist pin and a matching purple tie and mask; Alison is wearing a black mask, a burgundy dress, and has glitter on her temple, and Liz is wearing a green dress and matching mask, a necklace by Vanessa Applegate, and a yellow shrug. They are against a backdrop which has alternating Hugo Award logos and Chicon 8 logos.

(3) ABOUT WORKSHOPS. Morgan Hazelwood shares notes about the Chicon 8 panel “Is a Writer’s Workshop Right For Me?” at Morgan Hazelwood: Writer In Progress.

Whether you’ve been writing for a while or dreaming of getting away and actually having time to write, many of us have wondered if a writer’s workshop was right for us.

At WorldCon 80, otherwise known as ChiCon8, I attended the panel: The Writing Workshop Workshop where moderator Erin Underwood led panelists Ian Muneshwar, Tegan Moor, James Patrick Kelly, and Caroline M Yoachim in a discussion aimed at answering that very question….

Hazelwood also presents the information in this YouTube video.

(4) TAKING COUNSEL OF THEIR FEARS. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] The Atlantic has an interesting article about the backlash against casting actors of color in The Rings of Power, House of the Dragon, Sandman and all sorts of other things: “Fear of a Black Hobbit”.

Maybe you’ve heard that people are mad about Black actors being cast in Lord of the Rings. Or Game of Thrones. Or maybe it was Star Wars. Or perhaps Thor. Wait, maybe it was Titans, or SupermanThe Witcher? Or maybe you heard that people are angry that Black Panther got made in the first place, because Wakanda is fictional, unlike one of those fantasy countries authors seem to think will seem more mysterious if you add enough accents or apostrophes, like Warthéréth’rién. (I just made that up.) Maybe you’re wondering why adults care about a Disney mermaid being Black.

Earlier this month, CNN published a news story featuring an interview with Brandon Morse, an editor for the right-wing website RedState, in which he complained that Amazon’s new Lord of the Rings show, The Rings of Power, is integrated: “He says ‘The Rings of Power’ producers have cast non-White actors in a story based on European culture and who look wildly different from how Tolkien originally described them,” CNN reported. “He says it’s an attempt to embed ‘social justice politics’ into Tolkien’s world.” Morse told CNN that “if you focus on introducing modern political sentiments, such as the leftist obsession with identity issues that only go skin deep, then you’re no longer focusing on building a good story.”

It’s worth noting how rapidly right-wing language about colorblind meritocracy melts away when it does not produce the desired results. Perhaps the actors cast were simply the most qualified? …

(5) RELATED WORK. Cora Buhlert’s new “Non-Fiction Spotlight” is about Story Matrices: Cultural Encoding and Cultural Baggage in Science Fiction and Fantasy a fascinating book about storytelling, writing, and worldbuilding by Gillian Polack.

What prompted you to write/edit this book?

Because I’m addicted to story, I wondered just how much of our invisible culture we carried in in the way we tell stories. I began to look at the world building we do and the paths we take when we tell stories and read them. What is the difference between story space for the reader and story space for the writer and, indeed, story space for the editor? As I addressed these questions, I discovered how very powerful genre literature is in our lives. Even those who have never read a science fiction novel have experienced the narratives we tell and the cultural material we embed into our stories.

I wanted to explain this: that genre literature is a powerful, powerful force, that culture is transmitted through story, that we can all think about story and through that thought have more control over what we accept from story. We can, in short, choose not to be bigots….

(6) WHAT’S AHEAD IN THE DESIGN FIELD? Arizona State University’s Center for Science and the Imagination’s  event “Designing the Future with Applied Sci-Fi” will take place on Thursday, September 29, from 12:00-1:00 p.m. Eastern. Panelists include design fiction pioneer Julian Bleecker, speculative designer Anab Jain, narrative designer Alex McDowell, strategic foresight practitioner Radha Mistry, and futurist Brian David Johnson. The event will also feature opening remarks from the renowned science fiction (and nonfiction) author Bruce Sterling.

The event is the second in a series for the Applied Sci-Fi Project at ASU’s Center for Science and the Imagination, which seeks to understand the influence of science fiction on technology and the people who build it, and to study the ways that sci-fi storytelling can a tool for innovation and foresight. 

 The event is free and open to everyone. Here is the registration link.

(7) TAKING ANOTHER CUT AT IT. The Hollywood Reporter declares,  “Amazon’s ‘Blade Runner’ TV Series Officially Happening”.

Amazon’s Prime Video has given the green light to Blade Runner 2099, a limited series sequel to the iconic sci-fi film franchise. The series comes from Amazon Studios and Alcon Entertainment, which holds the rights to Blade RunnerRidley Scott, who directed the classic 1982 film, will executive produce through his Scott Free Productions, while Silka Luisa (Apple TV+’s Shining Girls) will serve as showrunner….

Amazon announced it was developing Blade Runner 2099 in February. Its title implies it will be set 50 years after 2017’s film sequel Blade Runner 2049, directed by Denis Villeneuve, but story details are being kept quiet for now. The series will be the first live-action treatment of Blade Runner for TV; Adult Swim aired an anime series titled Blade Runner: Black Lotus that debuted in November 2021….

(8) A FONT OF KNOWLEDGE. Camestros Felapton is doing a highly scientific study to show that you can predict the genre of a book by the type face used on the cover. “The sans-serif genre axis part 2”. He’s not high, just his science is.

… “Science Fiction typically uses sans-serif fonts for titles” is a defensible claim — the proportion is high and the spread is relatively narrow compared with other genres….

(9) OUR MAN FLINT. The Alternate Historian does a beautiful tribute to the late author: “1632 by Eric Flint: What If Time Traveling Hillbillies Saved Europe?”.

Alternate historians love stranding people and places in the past because we want to see what happens when technology and ideas from the present are unleashed on earlier eras. And one novel would revolutionize these kind of stories and launch a new community of writers.

(10) MARGARET ANN BASTA (1951—2022). Margaret Basta who, with her twin sister Laura, published some of the earliest Star Trek fanzines, was found dead in her home on September 4. She was 69. Margaret was active in Detroit fandom in the Seventies, belonging to the Wayne Third Foundation. She and Laura were founders and officers of the Star Trek Association for Revival (S.T.A.R.). (Laura was nominated for a Best Fan Writer Hugo in 1974.) Margaret was later involved in Beauty and the Beast fandom.

Margaret died without provisions or funds for her burial and a friend has started a GoFundMe to pay for her burial expenses.

Hi, I’m Jan Feldmann; my best friend Margaret Basta died unexpectedly earlier this month. She left no provisions for a funeral or burial and her family cannot handle the expense. I loved her dearly for 50 years and want to see her ashes buried with dignity at Holy Sepulchre cemetary in Southfield MI. She was one of the first original Star Trek fans and organized several early ST fan conventions. She wrote fan fiction, collected and sold vintage jewelry, had a huge circle of friends all over the country, and made a lasting impression on countless people. Margaret was a wonderful lady and I hope you can help her on her final journey. $1500 will pay for the cremation and internment at Holy Sepulchre cemetary.

(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.  

1991 [By Cat Eldridge.] Eerie, Indiana series

You remember Joe Dante who has served us such treats as the Gremlin films, a segment of the Twilight Zone: The Movie (“It’s A Good Life”) and, errr, Looney Tunes: Back in Action? (I’ll forgive him for that because he’s a consultant on HBO Max prequel series Gremlins: Secrets of the Mogwai.)

And Dante was the creative consultant and director on a weird little horror SF series thirty-one years ago on NBC called Eerie, Indiana. Yes, delightfully weird. It was created by José Rivera and Karl Schaefer. For both it would be their first genre undertaking, though they would have a starry future, their work including EurekaGoosebumpsThe Jungle Book: Mowgli’s Story and Strange Luck to name but a few genre series that they’d work on in a major capacity. 

SPOILER ALERT! REALLY I’M SERIOUS, GO AWAY

Hardly anyone there is normal. Or even possibly of this time and space. We have super intelligent canines bent on global domination, a man who might be the Ahab, and, in this reality, Elvis never died, and Bigfoot is fond of the forest around this small town. 

There’s even an actor doomed to keep playing the same role over and over and over again, that of a mummy. They break the fourth wall and get him into a much happier film. Tony Jay played this actor.

Yes, they broke the fourth wall. That would happen again in a major way that I won’t detail here. 

END SPOILER ALERT. YOU CAN COME BACK NOW. 

It lasted but nineteen episodes as ratings were very poor. 

Critics loved it. I’m quoting only one due to its length: “Scripted by Karl Schaefer and José Rivera with smart, sharp insights; slyly directed by feature film helmsman Joe Dante; and given edgy life by the show’s winning cast, Eerie, Indiana shapes up as one of the fall season’s standouts, a newcomer that has the fresh, bracing look of Edward Scissorhands and scores as a clever, wry presentation well worth watching.”

It won’t surprise you that at Rotten Tomatoes, that audience reviewers give it a rating of eighty-eight percent. 

It is streaming on Amazon Prime, Disney+ and legally on YouTube. Yes legally on the latter. 

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 15, 1922 Bob Anderson. He was the swordmaster who played Darth Vader in his fight scenes in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. He replaced David Prowse due to the actor’s unfortunate tendency to break lightsabers. Because of the height differences—Anderson was six one while Prowse was six inches taller, Anderson’s scenes were filmed from a lower angle to make him seem taller, or he stood on some small stilts or wore platform shoes. Anderson later did swordfighting choreography and training for films such as The Lord of the Rings trilogy (with Christopher Lee), the Zorro movies with Antonio Banderas and Die Another Day with stunt performer Jim Dowdall. (Died 2022.)
  • Born September 15, 1924 Henry Silva, 98. Here for his genre work —  Buck Rogers in the 25th Century as Kane, Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold as Argon, Amazon Women on the Moon as Himself (the “Bullshit or Not” segment, Cyborg – Il guerriero d’acciaio as ‘Hammer’, and Dick Tracy as ‘Influence’.
  • Born September 15, 1925 Carlos Rambaldi. Wnner of three Oscars: one Special Achievement Academy Award for Best Visual Effects in Seventies version of King Kong, and two Academy Awards for Best Visual Effects of Alien and E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. He is best remembered for his work in those two last mentioned films, that is for the mechanical head-effects for the creature in Alien and the design of the title character of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. He designed the Worms in Dune. (Died 2012.)
  • Born September 15, 1940 Norman Spinrad, 82. I’ll admit that the only novel I’ve read by him is Bug Jack Barron. My bad. And I was fascinated to learn he wrote the script for Trek’s “The Doomsday Machine” episode which is an amazing story. So how is it that he’s never won a Hugo? 
  • Born September 15, 1943 John M. Faucette. Published five novels and one short story. He left seven unpublished novels in various states of completion at his death. Two of his novels; Crown of Infinity and Age of Ruin, were published in the Ace Doubles series. None of his works are in print in digital or paper format currently including his Black Science Fiction anthology which he as an African-American SF writer was very proud of. (Died 2003.)
  • Born September 15, 1956 Elton T. Elliott, 66. Editor, publisher, reviewer. His solo fiction debut was “Lighting Candles on the River Styx” in Amazing (March 1991). His early novel-length work appeared in the 1980s in collaboration with Richard E.Geis under the pseudonym Richard Elliott. He edited Science Fiction Review from 1990 to 1992 which, yes, I remember reading at the time. 
  • Born September 15, 1960 Kevin Roche, 62. Chaired Worldcon 76 in San Jose (2018). Prior to that he co-chaired Westercon 66 in Sacramento in 2013 and chaired Costume-Con 26 in San José in 2008. He’s a veteran costumer and masquerade emcee, who co-directed the 2011 Worldcon’s Masquerade as well as Masquerades at Anime Los Angeles, Westercon, and BayCon. Roche is a research scientist at IBM Research Almaden. He also was editor of Yipe! The Costume Fanzine of Record.
  • Born September 15, 1962 Jane Lindskold, 60. My first encounter with her was through the Zelazny novel she finished, Donnerjack. It’s excellent though how much is Zelazny is open to vigorous debate. Of her own novels, I recommend The Buried Pyramid, Child of a Rainless Year and Asphodel as being very good. 

(13) COMICS SECTION.

  • Agnes has some pecadillos as a author that make me wonder if she’s a relative of Writer X. It seems even more possible after reading this later strip.
  • Lio shows that sometimes nature calls from very faraway places.
  • The Far Side offers wordplay of mythic proportions.  

(14) STUMPERS. In the Washington Post, Michael Cavna interviews Randall Munroe on how he went from being a NASA roboticist to an answerer of weird questions. “The world’s funniest former NASA roboticist will take your questions”.

…Other “What If? 2” situations ring of the perilous: What are your chances of death-by-geyser at Yellowstone Park? What would the daily caloric human-intake needs be for a modern T. rex gone rogue in the boroughs of New York? And how catastrophic would it be if, as the children’s tune goes, all the raindrops were lemon drops and gumdrops?…

(15) CURRENT EVENTS. “Colonizing the Cosmos: Astor’s Electrical Future” at The Public Domain Review. “During America’s Gilded Age, the future seemed to pulse with electrical possibility. Iwan Rhys Morus follows the interplanetary safari that is John Jacob Astor’s A Journey in Other Worlds, a high-voltage scientific romance in which visions of imperialism haunt a supposedly ‘perfect’ future.”

…Luckily, one of them told us exactly how he imagined the century to come. In 1894, New York publishers D. Appleton and Company released A Journey in Other Worlds: A Romance of the Future, written by John Jacob Astor IV, one of America’s wealthiest men. The Astor clan had originally made their fortune in the fur trade, and had added to their millions through investment in land and property. In 1897, John Jacob would build the Astoria Hotel in New York, next door to the Waldorf, owned by his cousin William. The hotel was both a symbol of the Astor family’s wealth and a honeypot for New York’s fashionables (Tesla himself lived there until he was turfed out for failing to pay his bills). It’s Astor’s authorship that makes the book such a fascinating insight into the Gilded Age’s fantasies about its prosperous tomorrows….

(16) TURN OF THE SEASON. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] SF2 Concatenation’s autumnal edition is now up.

Fiction Reviews

Non-fiction SF/F & Popular Science

(17) SAY CHEESE. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.]  “Webb telescope wows with first image of an exoplanet” in Nature.

The James Webb Space Telescope has taken its first picture of a planet beyond the Solar System — opening a window to understanding other worlds and underscoring the telescope’s immense capabilities.

The image (shown) is of a planet called HIP 65426 b, an object similar to Jupiter, but younger and hotter, that lies 107 parsecs from Earth in the constellation Centaurus. Although it looks like a pixelated light bulb, it is the first exoplanet image ever taken at deep infrared wavelengths, which allow astronomers to study the full range of a planet’s brightness and what it is made of (the star symbol marks HIP 65426 b’s star, whose light the telescope blocked).

“It gives us wavelengths we’ve never seen planets at before,” says Beth Biller, an astronomer at the University of Edinburgh, UK, and a member of the discovery team. The image was reported in a paper on a preprint server on 31 August (A. L. Carter et al. Preprint at https://arxiv.org/abs/2208.14990; 2022); the study has not been peer reviewed.

Astronomers know of more than 5,000 exoplanets, but they have taken pictures of only around 20. Imaging exoplanets directly is difficult, because they are often lost in the glare of the star around which they orbit.

But observing them at infrared wavelengths, as Webb does, helps to boost the contrast between star and planet. “You’re in the regime where planets are brightest and stars are dimmest,” says Aarynn Carter, an astronomer at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and lead author of the preprint.

(18) SICK IN UTAH. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Someone had too good a room party…. “The Jurassic vomit that stood the test of time” at Nature.

Some 150 million years ago, towards the end of the Jurassic period, an unknown but probably small creature threw up a recent meal inside a pond in what is now Utah1.

Over the ages, the puke’s contents were fossilized and remained untouched. That is, until they reached the hands of John Foster at the Utah Field House of Natural History State Park Museum in Vernal and his colleagues.

The researchers found the fossil at the ‘Jurassic Salad Bar’, a site where they’ve unearthed more than 300 fossilized plants. The specimen is small, not much larger than 1 square centimetre in area. But it’s densely packed with more than 20 undigested bones and some puzzling items that might well be soft tissues or part of the vomit material.

Some of the bones, including some vertebrae, possibly belonged to a tadpole. Others were once part of frogs. And a tiny femur might have come from a salamander. Given the contents and the setting they were found in, researchers strongly suspect that a fish might have been the one to throw them up.

(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Trailers: 300th Episode,” the Screen Junkies’s EPIC Voice Guy salutes Ryan George for his 300th episode of “Pitch Meeting” by saying Ryan George is “the Canadian Ryan who doesn’t have six-pack abs.”  George gets to repeat all the catchphrases from every episode (including “super easy, barely an inconvience”) and says that after 300 episodes the producer and the writer have turned from “poorly developed characters” into “psychopaths.”

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

Pixel Scroll 9/6/22 All Of The Riverworld Ramblers Are Losing Their Grails

(1) A LITTLE SMACK. Deadline takes notes as “Neil Gaiman Slaps Back At Elon Musk For Criticizing ‘LOTR: The Rings Of Power’”.

…Gaiman’s comment came after Musk slammed Amazon’s LOTR: The Rings Of Power, saying “Tolkien is turning over his grave,” as Musk is attempting to exit his proposed $44BN takeover of Twitter and amid an ongoing feud with Amazon founder and executive chairman Jeff Bezos.

(2) DANISH AUTHOR IN NY. The Community Bookstore in Brooklyn, NY will host “Olga Ravn presents ‘The Employees’” on Friday, September 30 at 6:00 p.m. Eastern. Tickets for sale at the link.

Shortlisted for the International Booker prize, and the Ursula K. Le Guin Prize, The Employees reshuffles a sci-fi voyage into a riotously original existential nightmare.

Olga Ravn’s prose is chilling, crackling, exhilarating, and foreboding. The Employees probes into what makes us human, while delivering a hilariously stinging critique of life governed by the logic of productivity.

(3) FREE READ. Sunday Morning Transport offers a free story: “About what you keep, what you mend, and what you throw away,” by Elizabeth Bear: “The Part You Throw Away”.

(4) SOURCES OF TERROR. Meg Elison promotes her new novel Number One Fan on CrimeReads.“Why Are Stories of Captivity and Abduction So Extraordinarily Terrifying?”

…Part of the reason for the power of captivity is something called the “castle doctrine.” This is an underpinning of law, dating back to the English document known as the Magna Carta. This concept and subsequent iterations of law made the home a sacrosanct place, providing the bedrock from which we derive our rights to deny search and seizure without a warrant, to remove anyone we wish from our homes, and to defend ourselves at home using force, including deadly force. This concept and the laws formed around it make any domicile, even a van or a bus a person might live in, a legally protected place that no one may enter or inspect without cause and (usually) a judicial order. As much as this is a crucial piece of our right to privacy (but not in your own womb! ha!) it also shrouds and protects perpetrators of home-based violence: domestic and child abuse, incest, and this kind of home-grown captivity….

(5) BRITISH ACADEMY BOOK PRIZE. The shortlist for the British Academy Book Prize for Global Cultural Understanding 2022 is comprised of six books. The international book prize, worth £25,000, rewards and celebrates the best works of non-fiction that have contributed to public understanding of world cultures and their interaction.

  • The Invention of Miracles: Language, Power, and Alexander Graham Bell’s Quest to End Deafness by Katie Booth (Scribe UK)
  • Aftermath: Life in the Fallout of the Third Reich by Harald Jähner (WH Allen/Ebury Publishing)
  • Osebol: Voices from a Swedish Village by Marit Kapla (Allen Lane)
  • Horizons: A Global History of Science by James Poskett (Viking)
  • When Women Kill: Four Crimes Retold by Alia Trabucco Zerán (And Other Stories)
  • Kingdom of Characters: A Tale of Language, Obsession, and Genius in Modern China by Jing Tsu (Allen Lane)

(6) WORLDCON CHAIRS PHOTO SESSION. Recorded at Chicon 8.

(7) PETER STRAUB (1943-2022). Author Peter Straub died September 4 at the age of 79. The New York Times obituary is here. The Guardian notes that Straub’s many novels ranged from his debut horror novel Julia in 1975 – later filmed as The Haunting of Julia – to the 2010 novel A Dark Matter and The Talisman, which he co-wrote with Stephen King.

He told Salon in 2016, “I like the worst characters, I like the villain. You can almost always tell there’s a lot of imaginative sympathy for them on my part. Once I start thinking about how they got that way I feel empathy and compassion. I don’t want to kill them off.” 

Straub won four World Fantasy Awards and ten Bram Stoker Awards. He received World Fantasy and Bram Stoker Life Achievement awards, was named an International Horror Guilds Living Legend, and a World Horror Grandmaster.

(8) MEMORY LANE.  

1999 [By Cat Eldridge.]  Speaking of most stellar novels, there’s the matter of Neil Gaiman’s Stardust. There are two novels that I think Gaiman did really well, this and Neverwhere. This is his best novel and I’ll say why now. (Me? Opinionated? Why yes!) 

SPOILERS ABOUND LIKE SPRITES IN THE MOONLIGHT

Stardust was written twenty-three years ago, starting off with the story set in late April 1839, as John William Draper had just photographed the Moon and Charles Dickens was serializing Oliver Twist, but almost all of the book takes place seventeen years later, starting around October 1856.

The novel set in the village of Wall. Once every nine years an opening to Fairy occurs on All Hallows’ Eve. Naturally a young man will fall in love with what he thinks is a young woman. Who isn’t. Really she isn’t. Trust me on this plot point. 

We have really evil witch-queens, near immortal rulers of vast castles delightfully named Stormhold, quests to the end of the world or nearly so. All deliciously told by Gaiman as though it was a fairy tale. There’s even unicorns. And pirates! 

Yes, and true love won out in the end as it should. 

END OF SPOILERS. NO MORE SPOILERS FOR NOW. MAYBE.

The best edition of this book is the one illustrated by Charles Vess that should’ve won a Hugo but didn’t. Nor did Stardust itself. The film did win one most deservingly at Denvention 3.  Oh and Neil himself narrates the audio version! 

I’ve read both the unadorned text version and the version with Vess artwork, or listened to it, at least a half dozen times now, and it always delights me every time that I do. No, I’ve not seen the film, nor will I ever see it following my long standing policy of never seeing any video version of books that I really, really like. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 6, 1904 Groff Conklin. He edited some forty anthologies of genre fiction starting with The Best of Science Fiction from Crown Publishers in 1946 to Seven Trips Through Time and Space on Fawcett Gold in 1968. The contents are a mix of the obscure and well known as Heinlein, Niven, Simak, Dahl, Sturgeon, Lovecraft and Bradbury show up there. (Died 1968.)
  • Born September 6, 1943 Roger Waters, 79. Ok Pink Floyd is definitely genre and I’m no longer doing any substances that aid in my judgement thereof. The Wall of course. And The Division Bell with its themes of communication. And Happy Birthday Roger!
  • Born September 6, 1946 Hal Haag. Baltimore-area fan who found fandom in the early Eighties and who chaired Balticon 25 and Balticon 35 and worked on Balticon and quite a number of regionals. He Co-founded BWSMOF (Baltimore/Washington SMOFs) along with Inge Heyer from Shore Leave, a regional organization whose purpose it is to discuss running regional conventions of all types. The Baltimore Science Fiction Society put together a very touching memorial site which you can see here. (Died 2006.)
  • Born September 6, 1953 Patti Yasutake, 69. Best-known for her portrayal of Nurse Alyssa Ogawa in the Trek universe where she had a recurring role on Next Generation and showed up in Star Trek Generations and Star Trek First Contact. In doing these Birthdays, I consult a number of sites. Several of them declared that her character ended her time as a Doctor. Not true but made for a nice coda on her story.
  • Born September 6, 1972 China Miéville, 50. My favorite novels by him? The City & The City is the one I’ve re-read the most, followed closely by Kraken. Scariest by him? Oh, that’d King Rat by a long shot.  And I’ll admit the dialect he used in Un Lun Dun frustrated me enough that I gave up on it. I’ll hold strongly that the New Crobuzon series doesn’t date as well as some of his other fiction does. His Hugo history is a one long one. His first nomination at ConJosé for Perdido Street Station was followed by The Scar at Torcon 3. He picked up another nomination at interaction for Iron Council, and his only win at Aussiecon 4 for The City & The City which was shared Paolo Bacigalupi’s The Windup Girl. He has two more nominations to date, Embassytown at Chicon 7 and “This Census-Taker” novella at Worldcon 75. 
  • Born September 6, 1958 Michael Winslow, 64. Though he might bear notice as the comically voiced Radar Technician in Space Balls, I’m more interested that his first genre role of significance was giving voice to Mogwai, and the other gremlins in Gremlins, a role he didn’t reprise for the second Gremlins film. 
  • Born September 6, 1972 Idris Elba, 50. Heimdall in the Thor franchise, as well as the Avengers franchise. First genre role was as Captain Janek in Ridley Scott’s Prometheus and later he was in Pacific Rim as Stacker Pentecost. And let’s not forget him as the Big Bad as Krall in Star Trek: Beyond
  • Born September 6, 1976 Robin Atkin Downes, 46. Though he’s made his living being a voice actor in myriad video games and animated series, one of his first acting roles was as the rogue telepath Byron on Babylon 5. He later shows up as the Demon of Illusion in the “Chick Flick” episode of Charmed and he’s got an uncredited though apparently known role as Pockla in the “Dead End” episode of Angel. Ditto for Repo Men as well. He does get as the voice of Edward in Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters.
  • Born September 6, 1976 Naomie Harris, 46. She’s Eve Moneypenny in SkyfallSpectre and  No Time to Die. This was the first time Moneypenny had a first name.  No word if she’ll be in Bullets for Winter, the next Bond film which has been announced.  She also appeared in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End as Tia Dalma. In the Marvel Universe, she was Frances Barrison / Shriek in the Spider-Man centric Venom: Let There Be Carnage. And lastly I’ll note she played Elizabeth Lavenza in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein at the National Theatre.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

(11) THE WINNER GETS A T-SHIRT. Joe Stech will begin giving the Compelling Science Fiction Appreciation Award every month. See what it takes to win.

Ever since Compelling Science Fiction stopped publishing short stories I’ve been looking for ways to engage with the science fiction community that don’t involve me reading a submission queue of 500 stories/month. I’m still thinking about different approaches, but in the meantime I’m announcing a fun project: every month I’m going to send a t-shirt to the author that writes the short story that scores the highest on the set of axes that best represent Compelling Science Fiction (plausibility/novelty/entertainment).

(12) COMPELLING SCIENCE FICTION T-SHIRT DESIGN POLL. Joe Stech is also going to print up some more of the original Compelling Science Fiction shirts, but also wants to create a new design.

Below are eight different astronaut designs that I think reflect Compelling Science Fiction’s lack of taking itself too seriously, and I’d love it if you’d tell me your favorite. Please ask your friends too, if your friends have good taste! Here’s the poll.

(13) A TRUCE WITH BEAVERS. [Item by Daniel Dern.] My favorite informative fact from the article: “They’re wild, swimming rodents the size of basset hounds.” “It Was War. Then, a Rancher’s Truce With Some Pesky Beavers Paid Off.”

Horace Smith blew up a lot of beaver dams in his life.

A rancher here in northeastern Nevada, he waged war against the animals, frequently with dynamite. Not from meanness or cruelty; it was a struggle over water. Mr. Smith blamed beavers for flooding some parts of his property, Cottonwood Ranch, and drying out others.

But his son Agee, who eventually took over the ranch, is making peace. And he says welcoming beavers to work on the land is one of the best things he’s done.

“They’re very controversial still,” said Mr. Smith, whose father died in 2014. “But it’s getting better. People are starting to wake up.”

As global warming intensifies droughts, floods and wildfires, Mr. Smith has become one of a growing number of ranchers, scientists and other “beaver believers” who see the creatures not only as helpers, but as furry weapons of climate resilience.

Last year, when Nevada suffered one of the worst droughts on record, beaver pools kept his cattle with enough water. When rains came strangely hard and fast, the vast network of dams slowed a torrent of water raging down the mountain, protecting his hay crop. And with the beavers’ help, creeks have widened into wetlands that run through the sagebrush desert, cleaning water, birthing new meadows and creating a buffer against wildfires.

…“We need to get beavers back to work,” Wade Crowfoot, California’s secretary of natural resources, said in a webinar this year. “Full employment for beavers.” (Beaver believers like to note that the animals work for free.)…

(4) VERY CAREFULLY. “Once they had breathed our air, germs which no longer affect us began to kill them. The end came swiftly. All over the world, their machines began to stop and fall.” You know where that line comes from. And we don’t want to be on the receiving end. “To Prevent a Martian Plague, NASA Needs to Build a Very Special Lab” reports the New York Times.  

…“It is possible that on Mars there are pathogens,” [Carl Sagan] wrote, “organisms which, if transported to the terrestrial environment, might do enormous biological damage — a Martian plague.”

Michael Crichton imagined a related scenario in his novel “The Andromeda Strain.”

Such situations, in which extraterrestrial samples contain dangerous tagalong organisms, are examples of backward contamination, or the risk of material from other worlds harming Earth’s biosphere.

“The likelihood that such pathogens exist is probably small,” Sagan wrote, “but we cannot take even a small risk with a billion lives.”

Scientists have long considered Sagan’s warnings in mostly hypothetical terms. But over the approaching decade, they will start to act concretely on backward contamination risks. NASA and the European Space Agency are gearing up for a shared mission called Mars Sample Return. A rover on the red planet is currently scooping up material that will be collected by other spacecraft and eventually returned to Earth.

No one can say for sure that such material will not contain tiny Martians. If it does, no one can yet say for sure they are not harmful to Earthlings.

With such concerns in mind, NASA must act as if samples from Mars could spawn the next pandemic. “Because it is not a zero-percent chance, we are doing our due diligence to make sure that there’s no possibility of contamination,” said Andrea Harrington, the Mars sample curator for NASA. Thus, the agency plans to handle the returned samples similarly to how the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention handles ebola: carefully….

(15) WHAT’S BREWING? Make explains how “This Elven Architecture Diorama Makes A Perfect Cup Of Tea”. It’s a sort of steampunk encounter with Rivendell.

…There are multiple options available, for different blends of tea and temperatures for steeping. With a quick press of a button, this elven village hops to life measuring out tea leaves, depositing them into the tea ball, heating water and dispensing it into the cup, then dunking the tea ball for the prescribed amount of time, then depositing it on a tiny coaster for disposal. 

At the end of the process, Samuel is left with a perfect cup of tea, and a view that is absolutely wonderful.

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

Pixel Scroll 9/5/22 Boosterspice Fields Forever

(1) CHICON 8 MEMBERSHIP NUMBERS. Chicon 8 drew 3,574 warm bodies (494 at door). Another 947 watched at least one hour of virtual programming. There were ~6,500 total members of all types. (Numbers via KevinStandlee.)

(2) WORLDCON MASQUERADE PHOTOS. Chicon 8 posted a rich gallery of photos: “Masquerade! Astounding Faces on Parade!” Includes notes on the award winners, including Best in Show, Arwen’s Lament presented by Rae Lundquist and company. (Which also won “Excellence in Workmanship for Hobbit Feet”.)

(3) CLOSING CEREMONIES. Thanks to Kevin Standlee who encouraged me to run any of his posts and photos.

The 2023 Chengdu Worldcon leadership:

The Chengdu Worldcon committee singing to the Closing Ceremonies audience.

(4) HE WAS A WALKING WORLDCON HIGHLIGHT. Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki shared some general comments about being able to achieve his trip to Chicon 8, and the Hugo acceptance speech he didn’t get to give. Lots of photos, too! Thread starts here. (Full text of the speech is on Facebook.)

And there’s a photo of another heartwarming moment on Lezli Robyn’s Facebook page here of Ekpeki being “gifted an iPad and keyboard, for all the future masterpieces he will write.” Robyn added in comments, “It was not from us! But I was the messenger/organizer.” So I don’t know who gave it to him.

(5) CONGRATULATIONS, HUGO WINNER. When Cora Buhlert sent these photos of her Hugo outfit last night she was about to practice her speech again. Now we know – the extra rehearsal was worth it!

(6) TODAY’S THING TO WORRY ABOUT. Lincoln Michel contests a recent meme: “No, Most Books Don’t Sell Only a Dozen Copies”. After dissecting the premises of how sales are measured, Michel offers some conclusions.

…In terms of the dozen copies statistic, I can’t evaluate it because it is unclear what it’s referring to. Fifty-eight thousand books is more books than PRH publishes in a given year, but far less than their entire backlist. Is 58k all new books published with an ISBN, including self-published books? Is it something else? I really don’t know and none of the publishing professionals I follow seem to know either. (Editing to add: Jane Friedman, who posted this number originally on Instagram, noted there was no source given in testimony. Friedman gives her own guess in the comments.)

In my experience, and with the data I’ve seen, most traditionally published novels that you see on bookstore shelves or reviewed in newspapers sell several hundred to a few thousand copies across formats. Many sell much more of course. I’ve seen some flops that sold only a couple hundred. And of course not all traditionally published novels appear in bookstores or reviewed in newspapers. Is it possible someone has published a Big 5 novel that sold only 12 copies over its lifetime? I suppose. But I don’t think it’s 5% much less 50%!…

(7) SHARED UNIVERSE. Wole Talabi tells Guardian readers: “Out of this world: why we created the first collaborative African fantasy universe”. (See the list of members of the Sauúti Collective at the link.)

Creative writing can be a lonely business. As writers, we inhabit whole worlds and characters that live only in our heads for days or years, as we deposit them on the page. This is particularly true for speculative fiction – an umbrella genre of stories that involve supernatural or futuristic elements, or settings that are not the real world.

This creative loneliness is why I’ve always admired the concept of a “shared world” – a fictional setting with its own set of rules where multiple authors can create stories. Some examples are Thieves’ World, edited by Robert Lynn Asprin, or George RR Martin’s Wild Cards (which spawned dozens of books, comics and games, and was optioned for film and TV).

Because writers use the same settings, characters and concepts of the shared world in a connected way, they are in conversation with each other, as a community in the act of creation.

As a speculative fiction author from Africa, where recognition for the genre is growing and community is an important part of the culture, I’ve long wanted to be able to do this with my contemporaries – create together. Not only with other African authors but with the greater African diaspora.

That’s why, working with Fabrice Guerrier, a Haitian-American author and founder of Syllble, a production house based in Los Angeles, and the Nigeria-based magazine Brittle Paper, I sought out a group of like-minded volunteer authors from five African countries to form the Sauúti Collective.

Together we have created Sauúti – a unique shared world for and by Africans and the African diaspora….

(8) MEMORY LANE.  

1967 [By Cat Eldridge.] Alan Garner’s The Owl Service (1967)

It all begins with the scratching in the ceiling. From the moment Alison discovers the dinner service in the attic, with its curious pattern of floral owls, a chain of events is set in progress that is to affect everybody’s lives. — Alan Garner’s The Own Service

Yes, I do have favorite novels as you already know and Alan Garner’s The Owl Service which came out fifty-five years ago is one of them. I think of it as an Autumnal work so it being September, I decided to take a look at it. So here we are.

The Owl Service is supposedly a young adult novel, however, it is much, much more than that. Set in modern Wales, it is an adaptation of the story of the Welsh myth concerning the woman Blodeuwed who becomes an owl — equally made of feathers and claws. It was, as Garner has said, an “expression of that myth”. 

In his version, three teenagers visiting a Welsh estate find themselves re-enacting the story by the two boys both being bitter rivals for the girl who came with them to the estate. They awaken the legend by finding a dinner service with an owl pattern, hence the title of the novel.

It is a novel filled with myth come to life with characters, both the children and the adults, being fully realized. It wasn’t his first novel as he’d written three novels previously (The Weirdstone of BrisingamenThe Moon of Gomrath and Elidor) but of all works he’s done, it’s my favorite still. It’s not his most complex, that honor goes to Boneland which is a sequel to The Weirdstone of Brisingamen and The Moon of Gomrath.

The Owl Service was made into a Granada Television series in 1969. If you live in the U.K., it’s available on DVD.  It was BBC Radio 4 series in 2000. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 5, 1914 Stuart Freeborn. If you’ve seen Yoda, and of course you have, this is the man who designed it, partly based on his own face. Besides being the makeup supervisor and creature design on the original Star Wars trilogy, he did makeup on The OmenDr. Strangelove2001: A Space Odyssey and all four of the Christopher Reeve-fronted Superman films. (Died 2013.)
  • Born September 5, 1936 Rhae Andrece and Alyce Andrece. They played twin androids in I, Mudd, a classic Trek episode. (And really their only significant role.) Both appeared as policewomen in “Nora Clavicle and the Ladies’ Crime Club” on Batman. That’s their only genre other appearance. They appeared together in the same seven shows. (Died 2009 and 2005, respectively.)
  • Born September 5, 1939 George Lazenby, 83. He is best remembered for being James Bond in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Genre wise, he also played Jor-El on Superboy and was a Bond like character named JB in the Return of the Man from U.N.C.L.E. film. 
  • Born September 5, 1940 Raquel Welch, 82. Fantastic Voyage was her first genre film, and her second was One Million Years B.C. (well, it wasn’t exactly a documentary) where she starred in a leather bikini, both released in 1966. She was charming in The Three Musketeers and The Four Musketeers. She has one-offs in BewitchedSabrina the Teenage WitchThe Muppet ShowLois & Clark: The New Adventures of SupermanHappily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child and Mork & Mindy
  • Born September 5, 1946 Freddie Mercury. Now you know who he was and you’re saying that you don’t remember any genre roles by him. Well there weren’t alas. Oh, Queen had one magnificent role in the 1980 Flash Gordon film starring Sam J. Jones, a film that has a seventy percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. But I digress as only cats can do. (Prrrr.) Queen provided the musical score featuring orchestral sections by Howard Blake. Most of Blake’s score was not used. Freddie also composed the music for the first Highlander film. And Freddie was a very serious SJW. He cared for at least ten cats throughout his life, including Delilah, Dorothy, Goliath, Jerry, Lily, Miko, Oscar, Romeo, Tiffany and Tom. He was adamantly against the inbreeding of cats and all of them except for Lily and Tiffany, both given to him as gifts, were adopted from the Blue Cross. (Died 1991.)
  • Born September 5, 1964 Stephen Greenhorn, 58. Scriptwriter who has written two episodes for Doctor Who: “The Lazarus Experiment” and “The Doctor’s Daughter”, both Tenth Doctor stories. He wrote one episode of Around the World in 80 Days, reuniting him with David Tennant. He also wrote Marchlands, a supernatural series with Doctor Who’s Alex Kingston
  • Born September 5, 1973 Rose McGowan, 49. Best known as Paige Matthews on Charmed. She played two different roles in the Grindhouse franchise, Cherry Darling in Planet Terror and Pam in Death Proof. She was Miss Kitty in Monkeybone, a very weird film indeed.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

(11) ARCANE. Boing Boing points out that “Arcane is the first streaming show to win the Emmy for best animated program”.

…The aforementioned Arcane from Netflix was the talk of the town last year, earning heaps of praise from fans and critics. Now the series can add Emmy award winner to its growing list of accolades. The win marks the first time an animated show from a streaming service snagged the award….

(12) KERFUFFLES OF POWER. Stuart Heritage of the Guardian wouldn’t want you to miss any: “The backlash to rule them all? Every controversy about The Rings of Power so far”. What, only six?

It’s hard to know exactly what to make of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power so far, for several reasons. The series has veered wildly in quality, with its second episode a vast improvement on its stunning but directionless pilot. It’s hard, too, to crosscheck with the source material, given that the entire shebang is cobbled together from a bunch of Tolkien’s appendices.

But the main reason why it’s difficult to form a consensus is the internet. Even more so than usual, it is being especially internetty about The Rings of Power, churning up no end of controversies about it in service to the discourse. Here’s a quick compendium of what we’ve all endured so far….

(13) HUGO LOSERS TROPHY. Camestros Felapton had an artificial intelligence art program help him gin up a trophy for those who didn’t win last night. Image at the link. “For those who need it today”.

(14) PHOTOS FROM JAMES BACON’S PRESENTATION AT CHICON 8. Including the badge ribbons distributed to support Ukraine fandom.

(15) TAMMY’S TASTING AT CHICON 8. Tammy Coxen serves Ukraine-themed drinks.

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

Pixel Scroll 9/2/22 Why Am I The Only Person Who Ever Has That Dream

(1) THE POPULATION OF CHICON 8. Chicon 8’s Star Chart reported on the con’s first day, September 1, as of 7:30PM CDT, there were 2,610 warm bodies on site.

(2) CHICON 8 BUSINESS MEETING. Alex Acks is liveblogging the Chicon 8 business meeting. See all the sausage being made here: “WSFS Business Meeting – Friday Liveblog”.

The top story to come out of today’s meeting is that the Hugo Study Committee is disbanded.

…Kent Bloom moves to thank the committee for its efforts over the last five years. Seconded by many. The committee is thanked for its efforts to applause….

There was also a “WSFS Preliminary Business Meeting Report (Friday)” published on the convention’s website.

Friday’s Preliminary WSFS Business Meeting set debate time limits for all pending Constitutional amendments and Standing Rules changes. No proposed Constitutional amendments were postponed indefinitely (killed). The four proposed Hugo Award eligibility extensions passed without objection. Most committees were continued as currently constituted; however, the Hugo Awards Study Committee was not continued and was thus dissolved, although proposals submitted by the committee will be considered this year. The meeting ran out of time to consider proposed changes to the Standing Rules and the two non-Hugo-Award-related Resolutions, so they will be considered at tomorrow’s meeting.

Kevin Standlee’s fully detailed report is on his blog here. You can also watch a video of the meeting recorded by Lisa Hayes.

(3) RINGS OF POWER FINALE. And now Camestros Felapton supplies a desperately needed moment of comic relief: “SCOOP! The final scene of the final episode of Rings of Power”.

…As I nodded off to sleep last night, my kindle slipped out of my hands and smashed me in the face (as happens most nights). I was startled by this sudden violence from the otherwise lightweight device but I was even more startled when it emitted a tinny voice. It was Bezos himself! He demanded to know what it would take for me to watch the show. Naturally, he refused my first choice (a bazillion pounds) and my second choice (remove all my personal data) and my third choice (kick off all the Nazis from your platforms) but he agreed to my fourth choice: tell me how the show ends….

(4) FILE 770 FRIDAY MEETUP. Hampus Eckerman is behind the camera taking this picture of the Filers who came to today’s meetup.

(5) CONGRATULATIONS, MARK! And here’s a good photo of Mark Linneman, last night’s Big Heart Award winner, taken by Andrew Porter during the 2018 Worldcon.

Mark Linneman at the 2018 Worldcon. Photo by and (c) Andrew Porter

(6) IT’S THE BEST STATE FAIR IN OUR STATE. “An A.I.-Generated Picture Won an Art Prize. Artists Aren’t Happy” – the New York Times has the story.

This year, the Colorado State Fair’s annual art competition gave out prizes in all the usual categories: painting, quilting, sculpture.

But one entrant, Jason M. Allen of Pueblo West, Colo., didn’t make his entry with a brush or a lump of clay. He created it with Midjourney, an artificial intelligence program that turns lines of text into hyper-realistic graphics.

Mr. Allen’s work, “Théåtre D’opéra Spatial,” took home the blue ribbon in the fair’s contest for emerging digital artists — making it one of the first A.I.-generated pieces to win such an prize, and setting off a fierce backlash from artists who accused him of, essentially, cheating.

Reached by phone on Wednesday, Mr. Allen defended his work. He said that he had made clear that his work — which was submitted under the name “Jason M. Allen via Midjourney” — was created using A.I., and that he hadn’t deceived anyone about its origins.

“I’m not going to apologize for it,” he said. “I won, and I didn’t break any rules.”

A.I.-generated art has been around for years. But tools released this year — with names like DALL-E 2, Midjourney and Stable Diffusion — have made it possible for rank amateurs to create complex, abstract or photorealistic works simply by typing a few words into a text box.

These apps have made many human artists understandably nervous about their own futures — why would anyone pay for art, they wonder, when they could generate it themselves? They have also generated fierce debates about the ethics of A.I.-generated art, and opposition from people who claim that these apps are essentially a high-tech form of plagiarism….

(7) BE A COVER DESIGN JUDGE. Self-Published Science Fiction Competition 2’s Cover Contest currently has 451 votes with ~ 7 days to go. They would love to have even more voters weigh in. Registration required.

Covers are displayed in batches of 10 and their order is randomized for each viewer. Votes / frontrunners are hidden from participants until the competition is complete and all votes have been counted.

(8) MEMORY LANE.  

1966 [By Cat Eldridge.] I decided to go really, really obscure this Scroll so we’re discussing The Corridor People. I doubt the most of you who were resident in the United Kingdom in the middle Sixties managed to catch the brief four episodes which aired from the 26th of August to 16th of September 1966.

It was technically considered a detective series in which security agent Kronk  played by John Sharp was battling villainess Syrie Van Epp as performed very much over the top by Elizabeth Shepherd as I said over the course of just four episodes. No idea why it was just four episodes but that was all it was.

It was never intended to taken seriously as the rest of the cast was  given silly name as you see here — Gary Cockrell as Phil Scrotty, Alan Curtis as Inpector Blood, William Maxwell as Sergeant Hound and Ian Trigger as Nonesuch. 

Yes, the two detectives working for Sharp (who isn’t particularly sharp though he’s supposed to an M like character), has two detectives working for him literally named Blood and Hound.  And that episode made absolutely no sense. And reviews I read say none of the four episodes do.

If you really, really want to see it and you live in the United Kingdom , it’s available for a very reasonable price of DVD on eBay on Esty. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 2, 1899 Martin Miller. He played Kublai Khan in the completed but erased by the BBC First Doctor story, “Marco Polo.” He’s in the first Pink Panther film as Pierre Luigi, a photographer, and has roles in Danger ManDepartment SThe Avengers and The Prisoner. In the latter, he was number fifty-four in “It’s Your Funeral.” The Gamma People in which he played Lochner is I think his only true genre film though I’m obviously open to being told I’m wrong. (Died 1969.)
  • Born September 2, 1909 David Stern III. Creator of the Francis the Talking Mule character who became the star of seven popular Universal-International film comedies. Stern adapted his own script for the first entry, simply titled Francis. Talking mules are genre, aren’t they? (Died 2003.)
  • Born September 2, 1911 Eileen Way. She shows up on Doctor Who twice, first as Old Mother in the First Doctor story, “The Forest of Fear” and later in a major role as Karela in the Fourth Doctor story, “The Creature from the Pit”. She’d also shows up on the non-canon Daleks’ Invasion Earth 2150 A.D. as simply Old Woman at the age of fifty-five. Other genre appearances I think are limited to an appearance on Alcoa Presents: One Step Beyond. Well unless you count The Saint which is at best genre adjacent. Hey I like The Saint! (Died 1994.)
  • Born September 2, 1915 Meinhardt Raabe.He was the last surviving Oz cast member with any dialogue in the film. He portrayed the coroner who certified the death of the Wicked Witch of the East. This film was his entire movie acting career. He did show up on a lot of tv show with his appearance being on Entertainment Tonight just five years before he passed on being the last one. (Died 2010.)
  • Born September 2, 1936 Gwyn Thomas. Welsh poet and academic who translated Tales from the Mabinogion with Kevin Crossley-Holland. “Chwedl Taliesin”, “The Tale of Taliesin”, was a short story by them as well. By the way my SJW credit is named Taliesin. And he tells a lot of tales. (Died 2016.)
  • Born September 2, 1966 Salma Hayek, 56. Her performance as Santanico Pandemonium in From Dusk till Dawn is quite excellent. I can’t say the same for her performance as Rita Escobar in Wild Wild Wild West which got her nominated for a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Supporting Actress. (The film currently has a twenty-eight percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes.)  I really like her as Francesca Giggles in Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over. She’s Ajak in Eternals film based on the Jack Kirby comics.
  • Born September 2, 1968 Kristen Cloke, 54. Captain Shane Vansen in the unfortunately short-lived but excellent Space: Above and Beyond, a damn fine series. She has one-offs in Quantum LeapThe X-FilesMillennium and The  Others. She co-wrote with Shannon Hamblin an episode of The X-Files, “Rm9sbG93ZXJz” which I told is Base64 code for “Followers”. 

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • xkcd shared a comparison table of “Universal Price Tiers”.

(11) A MASTER AT WORK. Deuce Richardson pays tribute to the artist in “Frank Kelly Freas: A Centennial Celebration” at DMR Books.

…I have loved the art of Kelly Freas since I found a copy of The Seas of Ernathe in an abandoned farmhouse–no lie–when I was barely a teenager. If anything, that love has strengthened over the years.

Drink to the shade of Frank Kelly Freas upon the (belated) centennial of his birth, sword-brothers. We won’t see his like again.

Feel free to enjoy the gallery of Freas art below.

(12) RINGS OF POWER. The in-jokes are already rolling out.

(13) IT’S ABOUT TIME. The Time Travel Mart has lots of amusing goodies they’d like to sell you. For example, these Bumper Stickers.

Express your road rage peacefully and quietly. Compatible with all vehicles, regardless of time period or propulsion.

(14) THE BACK OF HIS HAND. ScreenRant calls these the “10 Most Hilarious Examples Of The Robin Slap Meme”.

Since the release of The Batman, there have been countless fans calling for the introduction of Robin into the universe. After all, a Batman just starting his career needs a Robin, especially if he’s trying to figure out how to bring hope and life to the citizens of Gotham.

Yet, while Robin has always been a symbol of hope, Batman hasn’t always treated him well. In one popular meme, sourced from the comic, Batman even outright slaps Robin to keep him from asking him a question. Because the Robin Slap meme has gained considerable popularity through the years, there have been quite a few hilarious examples of it….

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

Pixel Scroll 8/27/22 We Will All Scroll Together When We Scroll, All Suffused With A Pixelicious Glow

(1) HOARDED GOLD. Amazon’s Rings of Power will cost $1B to make? That nice round number is bringing out skeptics.

https://twitter.com/GrahamB47/status/1563000905762766850

Behind a paywall at Business Insider is an extensive analysis of “What Amazon’s ‘Lord of the Rings’ Series Means for Its Streaming Future”.

…With “Rings of Power,” Amazon has given Hollywood something to talk about. No single season of television has ever cost as much. On top of the $250 million deal to secure the rights from J.R.R. Tolkien’s estate in 2017 — Amazon outbid rival big spenders HBO and Netflix — it’s been widely reported that the studio spent north of $460 million on production in New Zealand. Add tens of millions of dollars in marketing, promotions, and global red-carpet events and you arrive at the $1 billion total estimated by industry observers — with four more seasons planned.

The show is expected to be a hit, but if it somehow misses the mark, several sources told Insider the studio may face an existential crisis.

“The reason why it’s going to succeed is because the executives at Amazon need it to succeed. If it doesn’t succeed, there’s going to be a big question from Andy Jassy and the board,” said one former senior Amazon Studios exec. “If we can’t take this piece of IP and make it successful, why is Amazon Studios even here?”

“It has to succeed,” this person added. “There’s no option.”…

(2) ONE FOOT IN FRONT OF THE OTHER. Gizmodo points the way to a clip about one of the peoples in the forthcoming series: “Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power: Meet the Harfoots”.

…Since Rings of Power’s ensemble is rather enormous, Prime Video has released this video focusing on just the Harfoots—according to Dylan Smith, who plays Largo Brandyfoot, they’re “arguably the biggest secret of the show,” since J.R.R. Tolkien didn’t write too much about them—to give viewers a sense of who they’ll be meeting when the series arrives….

(3) A LOOK AT VAN VOGT. The Middletown (PA) Public Library’s Science Fiction Book Club has added another to its online archive of Science Fiction Author Interviews. The new one is an interview with Charles Platt about A.E. van Vogt.

John Grayshaw: What makes van Vogt interesting from a critical perspective? What first drew you to his work?

CP: I first read his work when I was reading literally every science-fiction novel that was published. About one book per day. He wasn’t my favorite author, but I did respond to his flood of strange ideas and his unique way of building a narrative. It was utterly impossible to guess what would happen next. I loved that unexpectedness, and still do. (I re-read World of Null-A just recently. Its plot is so convoluted, I felt as if I should be taking notes. But instead I just enjoyed the roller-coaster ride.)…

(4) ERIC HOFFMAN (1944-2022). LA-area fan Eric Hoffman died August 27 after being badly burned in a home electrical fire. Hoffman, born in Brooklyn, came to California, and in 1965 joined LASFS. His deep interest in monster/horror films and sff TV history were reflected in the innumerable programs he assembled about those topics for local conventions, becoming a frequent panelist at Loscon, Westercon and the San Diego Comic-Con. The latter recognized Hoffman’s work as a film historian with the Inkpot Award in 1974. Also a Doctor Who fan, he did presentations at the local Gallifrey One event for thirty years.

Hoffman assisted in providing archival posters and images for movie documentaries, and provided history commentary for several monster and horror videos. He got in front of the camera twice, according to IMDB, first in Don Glut’s short Rocketman Flies Again (1966), and then as a bartender in Sorority House Massacre II (1990).  

(5) MEMORY LANE.  

1955 [By Cat Eldridge.] Sixty-seven years ago, “Hyde and Hare”, a Warner Bros. Looney Tunes cartoon, was released in theaters as part of a reel with other such Looney Tunes cartoons. One reel would have six to ten minutes of these cartoons.  This cartoon was particularly long at seven minutes. 

SPOILER ALERT. REALLY, DO WE NEED ONE THIS LONG ON? 

Bugs is looking for a warm, comfortable home instead of his hole in the Park, and he meets a Doctor who takes him home. That Doctor turns out to be Doctor Jekyll. Soon Hyde is trying to kill our rabbit. He fails repeatedly. Quite amazingly he fails.

It ends when Bugs leaves after drinking all of the potions. (Yes, there are two potions shown.) Nice take at the end on the Hyde like Bugs. 

Yes, I rewatched it just now. Research you know. Not on HBO+ where it’s streaming but off iTunes where I downloaded a copy.

YOU CAN COME BACK NOW. REALLY YOU CAN.

It was directed by I. Freleng who was an animator, cartoonist, composer, director and producer (a man of many talents, wasn’t he?), mostly working at Warner Bros on the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies series. He’s responsible for over three hundred cartoons. 

The story was by Warren Foster, a writer, cartoonist and composer for the animation division of Warner Brothers and later on with Hanna-Barbera. Of special note I think, he was the composer of Tweety’s theme song, “I Taut I Taw a Puddy Tat.” It was sung by Mel Blanc. Yes, I’m weird. 

Mel Blanc of course did all the voices. Who else would? 

Animation was by Gerry Chiniquy, Arthur Davis, Virgil Ross and Ted Ike . I’ll be honest and note that I don’t recognize any of them by name but the style here certainly is recognizable. 

(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 27, 1922 Frank Kelly Freas. I’ve no idea where I first encountered his unique style on a cover of a SF book, but I quickly spotted it everywhere. He had a fifty-year run on Astounding Science Fiction from the early Fifties and through its change to the Analog name — amazing! Yes, he won ten Pro Artist Hugos plus one Retro-Hugo, an impressive feat by anyone. There doesn’t appear to a decent portfolio of his work. (Died 2005.)
  • Born August 27, 1945 Edward Bryant. His only novel was Phoenix Without Ashes which was co-authored with Harlan Ellison and was an adaptation of Ellison’s pilot script for The Starlost. He won two Nebulas for his short stories “Stone” (1979) and “giANTS” (1980), which also were nominated for the Hugo, as was his novelette “The Thermals of August” (1982). I’m personally familiar his short fiction in the Wild Cards anthologies. Phoenix Without Ashes and all of his short stories are available in digital form. (Died 2017.)
  • Born August 27, 1947 Barbara Bach, Lady Starkey, 75. She’s best known for her role as the Bond girl Anya Amasova in The Spy Who Loved Me.  One of her other genre appearances is in Caveman which her husband Ringo Starr is also cast.
  • Born August 27, 1952 Darrell Schweitzer, 70. Writer, editor, and critic. For his writing, I’d recommend Awaiting Strange Gods: Weird and Lovecraftian Fictions and Tom O’Bedlam’s Night Out and Other Strange ExcursionsThe Robert E. Howard Reader he did is quite excellent as is The Thomas Ligotti Reader.
  • Born August 27, 1957 Richard Kadrey, born 1957, aged sixty five years. I’m admittedly way behind on the Sandman Slim series having only read the first five books. I also enjoyed Metrophage: A Romance of the Future and I’ve still several years later got The Grand Dark on my interested to be read list.
  • Born August 27, 1962 Dean Devlin, 60. His first produced screenplay was Universal Soldier. He was a writer/producer working on Emmerich’s Moon 44. Together they co-wrote and produced Stargate, the first movie to have a web site. The team then produced Independence Day, Godzilla and Independence Day: Resurgence. They’re also credited for creating The Visitor series which lasted 13 episodes, and The Triangle, a miniseries which I’ll bet you can guess the premise.
  • Born August 27, 1965 Kevin Standlee, 57. He attended his first con in 1984, L.A. Con II. Later he co-chaired the 2002 Worldcon, ConJosé, in San José. One source says he made and participated in amateur Doctor Who films in the late 1980s. I wonder if he played Doctor Who? And I wonder if we can see these films? 
  • Born August 27, 1978 Suranne Jones, 44. Not a long genre performance history but she shows up on the Doctor Who spin-off, The Sarah Jane Adventures as Mona Lisa. Yes, that Mona Lisa. She’ll be back on Doctor Who in “The Doctor’s Wife”, an Eleventh Doctor story as written by Neil Gaiman. She is Idris, a woman hosting the Matrix of the TARDIS. 

(7) COMICS SECTION.

Peanuts / Endless mashup.

(8) THE NEXT EXORCIST. In the midst of a Q&A primarily about her history with Actors Studio and Lee Strasberg, “Ellen Burstyn Reveals Why She Said Yes to an ‘Exorcist’ Sequel” in The Hollywood Reporter.

I just got a scoop. Thank you.

You’re welcome. And I’ve shot most of the picture. The writer-director, David Gordon Green, I like very much. I met with him and we talked about the script and so forth, and I promised him four more days if he needed them. And he’s edited the film and he wants the four days, so I’m going back in November to shoot four more days. And it’ll come out in 2024, on the 50th anniversary of The Exorcist, the original.

(9) GETTING OFF THE GROUND. Francis Hamit urges everyone to contribute to “The All American film organizing fund” at Indiegogo. “I have to raise money to raise more money for this great epic World War Two film.  Not just a war film but also a musical.  That might not be science fiction or fantasy, but it sure feels like it.” 

That image is of a real event that happened on February 1, 1943.  A B-17 Flying Fortress Bomber named The All American was returning from a bombing raid when it was struck by a German fighter and almost cut in half.  It lost part of its tail and suffered a 16 foot long, four foot wide gash on its left side.  Ten men were aboard, all young men who a year before had been civilians and who had volunteered for the most dangerous duty of the war, aerial combat.  They were part of the 414th Bomb Squard, 97th Bombardment Group, United States Army Air Force.   Originally they were based at Grafton Underwood, England.  It was there that Margaret Bourke-White   joined the 97th.  She was a beautiful, world famous photojournalist for LIFE magazine and determined to tell  their story.  Part of that meant flying with them on a bombing mission….  

To actually make the film will take millions of dollars.  I don’t expect to raise that here, but would like your help getting to the next phase.  I need help paying for legal, publicity and staff.  The next phase is raising the money,

(10) THROWING SAND IN THE GEARS. Variety took notes: “Neil Gaiman Says He Sabotaged Jon Peters’ ‘Sandman’ Movie by Leaking ‘Really Stupid’ Script”.

This year, Neil Gaiman’s comic book series “The Sandman” was finally adapted on screen in Netflix’s popular television series. But this is far from the first time that Hollywood tried to put the sprawling fantasy world to film.

In fact, Gaiman declined several movie offers for “The Sandman” throughout the last three decades, but the author recently revealed that he went as far as to sabotage an idea from “Wild Wild West” and “A Star Is Born” producer Jon Peters by leaking the script to the press.

“It was the worst script that I’ve ever read by anybody,” Gaiman said in an interview with Rolling Stone.

“A guy in Jon Peters’ office phoned me up and he said, ‘So Neil, have you had a chance to read the script we sent you?’ And I said, ‘Well, yes. Yes, I did. I haven’t read all of it, but I’ve read enough.’ He says, ‘So, pretty good. Huh?’ And I said, ‘Well, no. It really isn’t.’ He said, ‘Oh, come on. There must have been stuff in there you loved.’ I said, ‘There was nothing in there I loved. There was nothing in there I liked. It was the worst script that I’ve ever read by anybody. It’s not just the worst Sandman script. That was the worst script I’ve ever been sent.’”…

(11) BACK TO THE MOON. While we’ve done a lot of Artemis Program stories, have we ever linked to the NASA: Artemis I website where all kinds of information and educational resources are gathered?

And here’s an update: “Our Artemis I Flight Test is “Go for Launch” on This Week @NASA – August 26, 2022”.

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