Pixel Scroll 1/9/24 Our Pixels Now Are Ended, These Our Filers As I Forescrolled You, Were All Fifths

(1) SUBSTACK MANAGEMENT CLAIMS THERE WILL BE ACTION. Casey Newton has told readers of his Substack newsletter Platformer that “Substack says it will remove Nazi publications from the platform”. Apparently that really isn’t so broad an outcome as it sounds — as Robin Anne Reid says in the “fixed that for you” title of her own piece, “Substack will remove [some] Nazi publications”.

Newton’s Platformer post says:

…The company will not change the text of its content policy, it says, and its new policy interpretation will not include proactively removing content related to neo-Nazis and far-right extremism. But Substack will continue to remove any material that includes “credible threats of physical harm,” it said.

In a statement, Substack’s co-founders told Platformer:

“If and when we become aware of other content that violates our guidelines, we will take appropriate action. 

“Relatedly, we’ve heard your feedback about Substack’s content moderation approach, and we understand your concerns and those of some other writers on the platform. We sincerely regret how this controversy has affected writers on Substack. 

“We appreciate the input from everyone. Writers are the backbone of Substack and we take this feedback very seriously. We are actively working on more reporting tools that can be used to flag content that potentially violates our guidelines, and we will continue working on tools for user moderation so Substack users can set and refine the terms of their own experience on the platform.”

Substack’s statement comes after weeks of controversy related to the company’s mostly laissez-faire approach to content moderation.…

McKenzie also wrote that “we don’t like Nazis either” and said Substack wished “no-one held those views.” But “we don’t think that censorship (including through demonetizing publications) makes the problem go away,” he wrote. “In fact, it makes it worse. We believe that supporting individual rights and civil liberties while subjecting ideas to open discourse is the best way to strip bad ideas of their power.”

The statement seemed to be at odds with Substack’s published content guidelines, which state that “Substack cannot be used to publish content or fund initiatives that incite violence based on protected classes.”

In its aftermath, several publications left the platform. Others, including Platformer, said they would leave if the company did not remove pro-Nazi publications.

Meanwhile, more than 100 other Substack writers, including prominent names like Bari Weiss and Richard Dawkins, signed a post from writer Elle Griffin calling on Substack to continue with its mostly hands-off approach to platform-level moderation….

(2) 3 BODY PROBLEM. Netflix dropped the 3 Body Problem official trailer today. The series begins streaming on March 21.

From multiple Emmy Award-winning creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss (Game of Thrones), and Emmy-nominated Alexander Woo (The Terror: Infamy, True Blood) comes 3 Body Problem, a thrilling story that redefines sci-fi drama with its layered mysteries and genre-bending high stakes. Based on the acclaimed, international bestselling book trilogy, The Three-Body Problem. A young woman’s fateful decision in 1960s China reverberates across space and time to a group of brilliant scientists in the present day. As the laws of nature unravel before their eyes five former colleagues reunite to confront the greatest threat in humanity’s history.

(3) A CAREER REIGNITED. Vincent DiFate shared the distilled wisdom gained from years as a working artist with Facebook readers:

I’ll second what Bill and David [Passalaqua] had to say about life as a working illustrator, but for me this is, I believe, my 57th year at it. I lost my love for making art almost from the moment my freelance career began–long hours creating art and solving the visual problems for sometimes truly unreadable and non-visual novels (mercifully few of them, though), dealing with editors and art directors with no feel for the SF genre or any visual acumen to speak of; and then there was always the letdown of seeing the personally unsatisfying results of my efforts. But after years of feeling unfulfilled I entered Murray Tinkelman’s graduate program at Syracuse University. I’d been teaching in. the program along such luminaries of the field as Chris Payne, Dave Pasalaqua and, of course, Murray himself, who was my best friend, and I saw how transformative the program could be.

On my first day in Dave Pasalaqua’s drawing class Dave came up to me and he said, Vin, you’ve got the best eye of anyone I’ve ever taught, but you’ve forgotten one thing–you’ve forgotten that making art is supposed to be fun. It was like being struck by lightning. In that moment, with that revelation, it brought me back to the memories of the days when I was a kid and couldn’t wait to get home to pick up the brush and start making art again. Dave’s sage remark was spoken to me some 25 years ago.

The down side is that I’ll never be as good an artist as I’d like to be, but now I look at every commission as a new opportunity to try and meet that goal. And I’ve learned to forgive myself for not being perfect.

(4) TOR.COM WILL REBRAND. “Tor.com To Become Reactor, Debut New Site, On January 23rd the online magazine has announced. And Reactor’s redesigned website will be at this URL: www.reactormag.com on January 23.

Since its founding in 2008, Tor.com has become a leader in coverage of science fiction and fantasy books and popular culture, with over 3 million visits per month. As an online magazine, Tor.com has won countless awards and has been the Locus Award winner for Best Magazine for 7 years running. In addition to its coverage of all things SFF, the site is also home to an award-winning short fiction program, which has published works by Seanan McGuire, E. Lily Yu, N.K. Jemisin, and scores of first-time authors, and which have gone on to win several Hugo Awards, Nebula Awards, and World Fantasy Awards.

The site has been publisher agnostic since its founding, and the new name will reflect its independence from Tor Publishing Group. The short fiction program will continue under the Reactor name, and in addition to the daily commentary on science fiction, fantasy, and related subjects that readers have come to expect, the site will also now cover all aspects of genre, including horror, romance and and more, from a wide range of writers from all corners of the genre world, creating a true pop culture destination.…

(5) BABY YODA, BIGGER THAN EVER. Grogu is getting a movie: “’The Mandalorian & Grogu’ Star Wars Movie Coming From Jon Favreau” reports Variety.

Baby Yoda is headed to the big screen.

Jon Favreau is directing a new “Star Wars” movie, titled “The Mandalorian & Grogu.” It will go into production later this year.

Favreau created the Disney+ series “The Mandalorian,” which follows a helmet-wearing bounty hunter (played by Pedro Pascal) who starts the show on the run to protect a young, adorable alien named Grogu, better known by fans as Baby Yoda. It is unclear where the upcoming film will fit into the timeline of the live-action series, which has aired three seasons and is currently in development on the fourth….

(6) TRACY TORMÉ (1959-2024). TV and film writer Tracy Tormé, son of singer Mel Tormé, died January 4 at the age of 64. The Hollywood Reporter notes he co-created the 1990s series Sliders and was hand-picked by Gene Roddenberry to serve as the head writer on Star Trek: The Next Generation.

…Tormé also was a writer on Saturday Night Live during its eighth season (1982-83); wrote and produced with Travis Walton the fantasy drama film Fire in the Sky (1993), starring D.B. Sweeney and Robert Patrick; and was a consultant on the acclaimed Robert Zemeckis sci-fi drama Contact (1997)….

On the first two seasons (1987-89) of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Tormé wrote the episode “The Big Goodbye,” which went on to receive a Peabody Award — the only episode of any Star Trek series to win one of those — and was instrumental in the use of the Holodeck as the show’s centerpiece. He also served as an executive story editor and creative consultant before departing.

Sliders, which starred Jerry O’Connell, John Rhys-Davies and Cleavant Derricks, revolved around a group of characters who travel (or “slide”) between different Earths in parallel universes. The series, which Tormé created with Robert K. Weiss, ran for five seasons from 1995-2000 on Fox and the Sci-Fi Channel. (He left amid creative differences with network executives during the third season.)…

Tormé also was a writer for the rebooted The Outer Limits in 1998-2002; a writer and producer on the 1992 CBS sci-fi miniseries Intruders, the 2002-04 Showtime sci-fi series Odyssey 5 and the mythological 2003-05 HBO series Carnivàle; and a producer on the 2020 documentary The Phenomenon.

Plus, he wrote the screenplay for Spellbinder (1988), starring Tim Daly and Kelly Preston….

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born January 9, 1931 Algis Budrys. (Died 2008.) I usually can’t remember the cover art for a novel I read some fifty years ago but I remember that for Rogue Moon (1960) by Algis Budrys. It was the Equinox / Avon edition of 1974 with the cover illustration by William Maughan I picked up on some newsstand in those days when newsstands still existed and they had SF novels to purchase along with comics and zines such as Amazing and If.  I’ll get nostalgic later…

It was the first work I read by him. It was quite good. I see it was nominated for a Hugo at Seacon, the year A Canticle for Leibowitz won.  It was by no means his first publication as that goes to “The High Purpose” which been printed in Astounding in 1952, the year he started as editor and manager for such publishers as Gnome Press and Galaxy Science Fiction

Between 1965 and 1961, he had two short stories, a novelette and two novels nominated for Hugos. None would win.

I’ve read three of his novels in total, the others being Some Will Not Die and Who? Both of them were well worth my reading time as well. I caution that I’ve not re-read any of these in thirty years so I don’t how well the Suck Fairy would react to them now. 

He was extremely prolific with his writing of short stories, penning well over a hundred. I’ve read enough of them to say he had a deft hand at this story length. So after the early Sixties, he wrote far less fiction and worked in publishing, editing, and advertising to make a much better living.  He edited morrow Speculative Fiction magazine from 1993 to 2000. It was nominated for a Hugo at ConAdian and the next year at Intersection. Alas he did not win.

He’s best known I think for his F&SF book columns that ran for almost forty years starting in 1975. I know that I looked forward to them immensely. They’re collected in Benchmarks Continued, Benchmarks Revisited and Benchmarks Concluded. There’s also Benchmarks: Galaxy Bookshelf which collects his columns there. 

And let’s not overlook A Budrys Miscellany: Occasional Writing 1954-2000 which collects some of his fanzine writings.

Algis Budrys. Photo by and (c) Andrew Porter.

(8) HAUL DOWN THE FLAG. This ship is headed for mothballs says Variety: “’Our Flag Means Death’ Canceled After Two Seasons at Max”.

Our Flag Means Death” has been canceled at Max.

The pirate comedy aired two seasons at the streamer. The series originally debuted in March 2022, with the second season launching in October 2023….

…The series is said to be very loosely based on the real adventures of 18th century pirate Stede Bonnet, played by Darby. The Season 2 logline reads, “After trading the seemingly charmed life of a gentleman for one of a swashbuckling buccaneer, Stede became captain of the pirate ship Revenge. Struggling to earn the respect of his potentially mutinous crew, Stede’s fortunes changed after a fateful run-in with the infamous Captain Blackbeard (Taika Waititi). To their surprise, the wildly different Stede and Blackbeard found more than friendship on the high seas…they found love. Now, they have to survive it.”

(9) INTERPRETING ANCIENT SCULPTURE. Yes. Absolutely.

(10) ASTRA TV AWARDS. Variety brings us another slate of awards: “’The Boys,’ ‘Succession’ Land Most Honors at Astra TV Awards”. The winners of genre interest follow:

BROADCAST / NETWORK AWARDS

Best Actor in a Broadcast Network or Cable Drama Series: Pedro Pascal – The Last of Us (HBO)

Best Actor in a Broadcast Network or Cable Comedy Series: Utkarsh Ambudkar – Ghosts (CBS)

Best Supporting Actress in Broadcast Network or Cable Comedy Series: Danielle Pinnock – Ghosts (CBS)

Best Guest Actor in a Drama Series: Nick Offerman – The Last of Us (HBO)

Best Broadcast Network or Cable Animated Series or Television Movie: South Park (Comedy Central)

Best Casting in a Comedy Series: Ghosts (CBS)

STREAMING PROGRAM AWARDS

Best Supporting Actress in a Streaming Comedy Series (Tie): Ayo Edebiri – The Bear (FX on Hulu) and Christina Ricci – Wednesday (Netflix)

Best Streaming Movie: Weird: The Al Yankovic Story (Roku)

Best Writing in a Streaming Limited Series or TV Movie: Weird: The Al Yankovic Story – Al Yankovic & Eric Appel (Roku)

Best Streaming Drama Series: The Boys (Prime Video)

Best Actor in a Streaming Drama Series: Antony Starr – The Boys (Prime Video)

Best Supporting Actor in a Streaming Drama Series: Jensen Ackles – The Boys (Prime Video)

Best Directing in a Streaming Drama Series: The Boys – Nelson Cragg, Herogasm (Prime Video)

Best Writing in a Streaming Drama Series: Star Trek: Picard – Terry Matalas, The Last Generation (Paramount+)

Best Streaming Animated Series or TV Movie: Attack on Titan (Crunchyroll)

Best Fantasy or Science Fiction Costumes: Wednesday (Netflix)

Best Stunts: The Boys (Prime Video)

Best Casting in a Drama Series: The Boys (Prime Video)

Best Casting in a Limited Series or TV Movie: Weird: The Al Yankovic Story (Roku)

(11) COME ON DOWN. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Seeking more tourism, Lexington KY has done the equivalent of erecting a huge See Rock City sign on the highway. The highway to the TRAPPIST-1 star system, that is. “Scientists Have Formally Invited Aliens to Visit Kentucky” in Gizmodo.

The city of Lexington, Kentucky, appears so tired of being overlooked by humankind that it has sent a formal invitation to the next-best thing: alien life that may or may not exist in a nearby star system.

It’s a tourism stunt, but the message is very real. The invitation, beamed out last fall via infrared laser toward the TRAPPIST-1 star system, is a project by the Lexington tourism bureau (yeah, we’re sending ads to aliens now). According to VisitLEX, they worked with engineers, linguists, and the FAA to make it happen. The target star is 40 light-years from Earth, which means any extraterrestrials that are eager to visit the self-proclaimed Horse Capital of the World will know they are invited in 2063.

…We don’t know that any life, much less intelligent life, actually exists in the TRAPPIST-1 system. Last year, data from the Webb Space Telescope revealed that TRAPPIST-1b, one of the exoplanets orbiting TRAPPIST 1, has no atmosphere. Because life as we know it needs an atmosphere to survive, that all but confirmed there is no potential for life on TRAPPIST-1b. Webb followed up that discovery with the finding that there is also no atmosphere—or at most, a thin one—on planet TRAPPIST-1c. Luckily for the VisitLEX team, the TRAPPIST system has five other exoplanets that could theoretically host civilizations capable of interpreting their invitation….

(12) ON YOUR SCREENS. JustWatch has shared its December 2023 rankings for film and TV streaming. (Click for larger image.)

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

Pixel Scroll 12/23/23 He Was Scrolling Pixels When Scrolling Pixels Wasn’t Cool

(1) FOR ART’S SAKE. If you want to read “Bodily Autonomy in the Murderbot Diaries: Martha Wells Interviews Herself and ART” you need to buy F(r)iction’s “The Bodies Issue (No. 20)” – digital for $12, print & digital for $20. But Murderbot, right?!

(2) GET READY FOR SMOFCON $ALE. Marah Searle-Kovacevic, Chair, Smofcon 41announced they will be having a post holiday membership sale! From December 26-31, attending memberships will be $65! Get yours, they’ll never be any lower! Sign up here starting next week: “Membership – Smofcon 41”

(3) WORLDCON BID Q&A SESSIONS. [Item by Kevin Standlee.] SMOFCon 40 allowed the Worldcon Events YouTube channel to extract the presentations from past and future Worldcons and from those bids who had representatives either in person or remotely.

I tried to trim these down to just the presentations/Q&A, not including the changeover time between presenters or any issues with getting the tech set up.

There were presentations from the following Worldcons and bids:

None of the other bids that have previously announced interest and that are currently listed on our Worldcon bids page (Tel Aviv in 2027, Brisbane in 2028, Texas in 2031, Minneapolis in 2073) had representatives at SMOFCon 40.

(4) TALKING ABOUT TOLKIEN. Tom Emanuel of the University of Glasgow is looking for nonreligious people to interview about Tolkien:

Are you a fan of The Lord of the Rings? Do you identify as nonreligious? Would you be interested in talking to me (Tom Emanuel) for 1-2 hours about why you love Tolkien?

If you answered “yes” I would love it if you filled out this questionnaire for my PhD research at the University of Glasgow!

Robin Anne Reid forwarded the request with a couple of links to Tom’s previous scholarship that is open-access if people are interested in seeing what sort of work he does in Tolkien scholarship. 

(5) GOBLIN SONG FALLING AFTER SPLASH DEBUT. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] After climbing to number 12 in its first week in release, Doctor Who’s “The Goblin Song” has now slipped to 52 on UK charts.

There had been a concerted campaign to make it number one.

(6) MIKE NUSSBAUM (1924-2023). [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Actor Mike Nussbaum was The Principal in Field of Dreams, Gentle Rosenberg in Men in Black, Yuri Rosanov in Early Edition, and Mr. Wallace in The Water Engine. Look the last one up, it’s fascinating. No series work at all of a genre nature save a character on the Twilight Zone Radio Dramas called Nathaniel Harris. 

Deadline’s complete tribute is here: “Mike Nussbaum Dies: Veteran Actor In ‘Men In Black’ And ‘Fatal Attraction’ Was 99”.

(7) MEMORY LANE.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

December 23, 1960 Twilight Zone’s “The Night of The Meek”

On December 23rd in 1960, Twilight Zone’s “The Night of the Meek” first aired. It was one of the six episodes of the second season which was shot on videotape in a failed attempt saved to cut costs. Networks and their bean counters.

This was a Christmas themed story with Art Carney as a Santa Claus fired on Christmas Eve who finds a mysterious bag that gives an apparently unlimited stream of gifts. But before we learn that we have this opening scene and narration:

As snow begins to fall, a drunk Henry Corwin ((Carney) wearing his Santa Claus suit, leans against a curbside lamppost. He is approached by two tenement children begging for toys, a Christmas dinner, and “a job for my daddy.” As he begins to sob, the camera turns to Rod Serling standing on the sidewalk:

This is Mr. Henry Corwin, normally unemployed, who once a year takes the lead role in the uniquely popular American institution, that of the department-store Santa Claus in a road-company version of ‘The Night Before Christmas’. But in just a moment Mr. Henry Corwin, ersatz Santa Claus, will enter a strange kind of North Pole which is one part the wondrous spirit of Christmas and one part the magic that can only be found… in the Twilight Zone.

The script would be used over in the Eighties version of this series and on the radio program as well. 

Serling ended the original broadcast with the words, “And a Merry Christmas, to each and all”,  but that phrase was deleted in the Eighties for reasons never made clear and would not be back until Netflix started streaming the series. The series runs on Paramount+ now in its original full, uncensored version. The line is still missing from all the DVD versions.

John Fielder who is Mister Dundee here would have a second Twilight Zone appearance in “Cavander is Coming” in which he has the lead as the Angel Harmon Cavender.

Oh, and let’s note that it’s a cat that mysteriously starts off this tale by knocking down a large burlap bag full of empty cans, which when Corwin trips over it, is then filled with gifts. See cats are magical! 

Serling ends with this narration:

A word to the wise to all the children of the Twentieth Century, whether their concern be pediatrics or geriatrics, whether they crawl on hands and knees and wear diapers or walk with a cane and comb their beards. There’s a wondrous magic to Christmas and there’s a special power reserved for little people. In short, there’s nothing mightier than the meek. And a Merry Christmas to each and all.

(8) COMICS SECTION.

  • Tom Gauld’s Christmas shopping advice.
  • Or maybe the person on your list has dropped a heavy hint?

(9) SNYDERVERSE’S LATEST. Camestros Felapton has a very wry way of telling everyone how little he thinks of Zack Snyder’s new production: “Review: Rebel Moon (Netflix)”. There are three or four lines even funnier than this:

…This is Part 1 of 2. The Seven Samurai haven’t got to the village yet, Thanos knows Gamora is leading them and Darth Vader isn’t actually dead (spoiler), so there is a lot to expect in Part 2 including the whereabouts of the magic space princess….

(10) THE VOICE-CLOCK SANG. The National Review pointed readers to “Ray Bradbury’s ‘There Will Come Soft Rains’” with a commentary by Luther Ray Abel that says in part:

…Something splendid this way comes from “Rains”: its treatment of the works of man. Even the seemingly immortal machines we build — contraptions subservient to our whims and intelligence that can operate without our input — will disappear in time, much faster than one would expect, even.

There’s this idea from the utopianists among us, many of them progressives, that technology will undergird the socialist state — that objects will remove the necessity for man to do and to make, and, ultimately, be answerable for anything. Scruton refuted this irrational optimism as only he could, “[Political optimists] ignore or despise the findings of experience and common sense. The millions dead or enslaved do not refute utopia, but merely give proof of the evil machinations that have stood in its way.”

There is nothing inherently wrong with technology, but with its false promises, we pick through the ruins of Babel and dream of raising her again. Man cannot save himself, even with infinite microprocessors and processes. To think of technology as anything other than a temporary salve — a way to soften the effects of the Fall — is folly; the family vaporized on the wall of their home consider the purported benefits of progress fatally unfulfilling….

(11) TYPE LIKE TOLKIEN. Slashfilm has its Eye on “Cool Stuff: Colorful Lord Of The Rings Custom Keyboards Come In Elvish, The Black Speech & More”.

Taking cues from the various realms of Middle-earth… Drop’s keyboards and keycaps utilize various fantastical languages, including Elvish, Dwarvish, and even the sparsely spoken Black Speech that adorns the Ring of Power, to give your mundane keyboard a beautiful upgrade. Don’t worry if you don’t speak any of those languages fluently; these keyboards still have English where needed to define keys you might not use frequently….

With another green color scheme, you might also be interested in the Elvish keyboard featuring custom artwork by OSHETART depicting the Two Trees of Valinor (because the time of the elves is not over)….

(12) CHECKING IT TWICE. Santa’s feeling the last-minute stress, too, in this old Emsh cover for Galaxy Magazine.

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

Pixel Scroll 12/14/23 Because My Pixels Are Delicious To Scroll

(1) ALL SYSTEMS GREEN. Martha Wells’ series is coming to TV: “Alexander Skarsgård Stars In ‘Murderbot’ Sci-Fi Series Ordered By Apple”Deadline carried the announcement.

Apple TV+ has officially picked up Murderbot, a 10-episode sci-fi drama series starring and executive produced by Emmy winner Alexander Skarsgård (Succession). Based on Martha Wells’ bestselling Hugo- and Nebula Award-winning book series The Murderbot Diaries, the project hails from Chris and Paul Weitz (About a Boy) and Paramount Television Studios.

The action-packed Murderbot received a blinking green light a year ago, with the casting of the title character interrupted by the strikes. The series centers on a self-hacking security android (Skarsgård) who is horrified by human emotion yet drawn to its vulnerable “clients.” Murderbot must hide its free will and complete a dangerous assignment when all it really wants is to be left alone to watch futuristic soap operas and figure out its place in the universe….

(2) THE END IS NEAR. Good Omens is getting another curtain call: “Good Omens Renewed for Season 3 at Amazon” says The Hollywood Reporter.

The streamer has renewed Good Omensthe fantasy-comedy that started as a limited series, for a third and final season. Production on the show from BBC Studios, and based on the novel by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, is expected to begin soon in Scotland.

“I’m so happy finally to be able to finish the story Terry and I plotted in 1989 and in 2006,” Gaiman said in a release announcing the news Thursday. “Terry was determined that if we made Good Omens for television, we could take the story all the way to the end. Season one was all about averting Armageddon, dangerous prophecies and the End of the World. Season two was sweet and gentle, although it may have ended less joyfully than a certain Angel and Demon might have hoped. Now in season three, we will deal once more with the end of the world. The plans for Armageddon are going wrong. Only Crowley [David Tennant] and Aziraphale [Martin Sheen] working together can hope to put it right. And they aren’t talking.”…

(3) WHO COUP. Sir Derek Jacobi will be a headline guest at Gallifrey One, the annual LA Doctor Who convention, happening February 16-18.

Star of stage and screen, and one of Britain’s national treasures, Sir Derek Jacobi portrayed the Master (and his alter ego, Professor Yana) opposite David Tennant in 2007’s “Utopia,” fulfilling a life-long ambition of the actor to star in Doctor Who. He also voices the character in audio adventures for Big Finish Productions, credited as the War Master; also voiced the Master in the 2003 Doctor Who audio play “Scream of the Shalka”; and starred as Martin Bannister in the Doctor Who Unbound audio release “Deadline.”

…We are honored to be able to welcome Sir Derek to Gallifrey One this year, his first-ever Doctor Who appearance in North America, courtesy our friends at Showmasters Events.  Sir Derek will participate in two main stage interviews during his visit, one on Friday afternoon, and one Saturday, included with general admission.  He will also be autographing and doing photo ops on Saturday and Sunday, will do a VIP script reading on Sunday morning, will participate in our guest receptions on Friday & Saturday evenings, and has a separate Diamond Pass; all of these require purchase (see below.)  Additionally, he is included in the TARDIS Tag package….

The con will also have Billie Piper, Alex Kingston, and a flock of other Doctor Who actors, writers, and production people.

(4) WHO HOLIDAY SPECIAL. Inverse tells how “2023’s Wildest Sci-Fi Show is Bringing Back Its Most Underrated Secret Weapon”.

… With this episode being the first one to contain Gatwa as the sole Doctor, this could mean a shift in the Doctor Who we know and love. Original reboot showrunner Russell T. Davies may be back, but there’s a new Doctor and a new companion at the start of a new season, why not try a new (old) genre as well?

Even if this is just a temporary jaunt into the world of fantasy, it’s proof of exactly what the third special “The Giggle” established: The Doctor took a break to rest and deal with the literal centuries of trauma that he has undergone, and now he can find himself in silly high jinks that are more suited to a classic children’s novel instead of a hardboiled sci-fi paperback….

(5) ECCLESTON’S PRICE. CBR.com listens in as “Christopher Eccleston Reveals His Conditions for Doctor Who Return”.

Eccleston, who played the ninth Doctor in the first season of the show’s revival in 2005, had a relatively brief spell at the helm before being replaced by David Tennant. Eccleston has since been vocal about his mixed feelings about his time on the show. While speaking at the For The Love of Sci-Fi fan convention over the weekend, Eccleston was asked about if he would come back to Doctor Who, and what the BBC would need to do in order to make that happen. Eccleston was brutally honest with his answer, telling audiences, “Sack Russell T Davies. Sack Jane Tranter. Sack Phil Collinson. Sack Julie Gardner. And I’ll come back. So can you arrange that?”…

(6) MOVE TOWARDS STREAMER TRANSPARENCY. Netflix today debuted its first semi-annual report of hours of content viewed on the streaming site. Or as The Verge puts it: “Netflix reveals how many hours we spent watching The Night Agent and Queen Charlotte”.

Netflix is going to start publishing a new report twice a year that details the most popular shows and movies on the platform. The first report, released today, details the most-watched content from January to June 2023, and it’s perhaps the best look yet at how much people are actually watching Netflix’s gargantuan library of titles.

“What We Watched: A Netflix Engagement Report” will track three metrics: hours watched, whether a show is available globally, and a show’s release date. In this first report, the first season of The Night Agent tops the list with more than 812 million hours viewed, followed by Ginny & Georgia’s second season (665.1 million hours viewed), The Glory’s first season (622.8 million hours viewed), Wednesday’s first season (507.7 million hours viewed), and Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story (503 million hours viewed). Those are only the top five; the full list contains more than 18,000 titles. (Content is included if it has been watched for more than 50,000 hours.)

(7) SUBSTACK’S NAZI PROBLEM. Max Gladstone, in “Substackers Against Nazis”, told readers:

I’m taking part in a collective action on Substack today. I did not help draft the letter below, but I agree with it. I’ve been planning to shift this newsletter off Substack for a while now, and this is one of the reasons why.

Gladstone signal-boosted a mass letter which begins:

Dear Chris, Hamish & Jairaj:

We’re asking a very simple question that has somehow been made complicated: Why are you platforming and monetizing Nazis

According to a piece written by Substack publisher Jonathan M. Katz and published by The Atlantic on November 28, this platform has a Nazi problem

“Some Substack newsletters by Nazis and white nationalists have thousands or tens of thousands of subscribers, making the platform a new and valuable tool for creating mailing lists for the far right. And many accept paid subscriptions through Substack, seemingly flouting terms of service that ban attempts to ‘publish content or fund initiatives that incite violence based on protected classes’…Substack, which takes a 10 percent cut of subscription revenue, makes money when readers pay for Nazi newsletters.”

As Patrick Casey, a leader of a now-defunct neo-Nazi group who is banned on nearly every other social platform except Substack, wrote on here in 2021: “I’m able to live comfortably doing something I find enjoyable and fulfilling. The cause isn’t going anywhere.” Several Nazis and white supremacists including Richard Spencer not only have paid subscriptions turned on but have received Substack “Bestseller” badges, indicating that they are making at a minimum thousands of dollars a year….

Filer Robin Anne Reid also circulated the letter to her Substack readers.

(8) CHENGDU CATCHUP. [Item by Ersatz Culture.]

Two new articles published by Southern Weekly

On Wednesday 13th, Southern Weekly published two long articles following up from the Worldcon.

The first is titled ‘“They gave me comfort, and I risked my life to do something for them”: The birth of a Hugo-award winning science fiction fanzine’, and is an interview with Best Fanzine winner and Best Fan Writer finalist RiverFlow.  Extracts via Google Translate, with manual edits:

“In those two years, I was in so much pain that I couldn’t communicate with people normally, and I couldn’t take care of myself to a certain extent.  My daily spiritual support was to communicate with a group of science fiction fans on the Internet,” he said.  “They could give me some comfort. Even if I risk my life, I can do something for them.”  For a young man who is used to being self-isolated, these kindnesses and comforts from strangers are almost unbelievable…

He decided that he was not a “science fiction fan” in the strict sense, but a “fan of science fiction fans.”

So, he found another way to do something for his friends.  The idea of starting a fan magazine was mentioned by someone in the group, and it stirred something in his heart. He searched for public information about Chinese science fiction fans and found that there was almost no specialized research in the country.  “Why do the groups of science fiction fans who cared about me seem to have no part in the narrative of the entire history of Chinese science fiction and seem to have disappeared?”

In July 2020, the first issue of “Zero Gravity News” was released.  RiverFlow only took one day to typeset it in Word.  The issue was not detailed, just excerpting some science fiction news, group discussions, etc.  But the sci-fi fanzine had taken one small step.

RiverFlow also posted some comments on Weibo about the piece.

The second article is ‘A conversation with science fiction scholar San Feng: Why is science fiction fan culture important?’  Much of the article covers the history of the Worldcon, western SF fandom etc and seems to be aimed at a general audience, and so will be already familiar ground to File 770 readers.  Later on it moves onto SF in China, which will probably be of more interest.  (Again, this is via Google Translate with manual edits.)

Southern Weekly: Does the Chinese science fiction circle also have a similar structure [to SF in the West]?

San Feng: Our science fiction fan culture is relatively recent. According to our research, it was not until the late 1970s and early 1980s that science fiction fans in the strict sense began to appear.

Liu Cixin said that he is the first generation of science fiction fans, including Han Song, Yao Haijun, etc. It can be understood that people born in the 1960s fell in love with science fiction in the early 1980s. At that time, Chinese science fiction did not have a distinct cultural identity of science fiction. Science fiction clubs or science fiction research societies were established in many places, but most of them were in a top-down manner. Many places wanted to organize people to write science fiction, so they set up science fiction research associations.

To truly build a science fiction fan community from the bottom up, I think the landmark event was Yao Haijun’s founding of the science fiction fan magazine “Nebula” in 1988 (note: some say it was 1986).  At that time, he was still working as a lumberjack in Yichun [in northeast China].  Because he liked science fiction, he used a mimeograph in his spare time to publish a science fiction fan magazine “Nebula”, which was shared with science fiction fans all over the country.  If you got in touch with him and sent a little money to him, maybe a few cents, he would send you a mimeographed magazine.

(Note: both of the above links are to mobile versions of the articles, and have subheadings stating that they will only be freely available for some unstated time period, before going behind a paywall.  There are desktop versions of those pages, but those have truncated content, requiring a login to see the full article.)

Three Worldcon reports

The following Chinese-language con reports all strike quite different tones from each other.  (All extracts via Google Translate, with manual cleanup edits.)

The first one is by Shen Yusi, and was posted on the Zero Gravity Weixin/WeChat account on November 15th.  This one is very positive about the event.

If Liu Cixin won the Hugo Award and let the world hear the strongest voice in Chinese science fiction, then in 2023 the World Science Fiction Convention held in Chengdu allows the world to truly see what the Chinese science fiction community looks like…

I had seen the aerial view of the Chengdu Science Fiction Museum on the official website, which is quite shocking. It looks like a huge piece of silver metal foil flying down by the lake. I once joked that I would never be able to witness this form of the venue with my naked eyes – after all, I can’t fly. From the ground, the venue looks like a huge alien aircraft, with a silver-white outer shell and mostly icy blue light inside. From an aesthetic point of view, this sci-fi feel is relatively avant-garde, rather than being something from the present day…

There were many young people and children at the event, which I had never thought about before.  Groups of primary school students visited this event under the guidance of their teachers.  There was also an award ceremony for the essay competition in an exhibition hall on the second floor.  I can’t do anything other than praise Chengdu’s education sector!  Maybe the next Liu Cixin will emerge from these children?

There were many college students on site, including booth staff and student media interviewing guests.  As a person who was very capable of making waves when they were in college, I can’t help but sigh and think that it’s great to be young! Many of these college students have not yet shed their youthfulness, and they are full of bookishness and strong idealism. After all, science is “fantastical”. If you don’t have a little bit of the second spirit, how can you have the ambition to conquer the stars and the sea?

The second report was posted to Zhihu – which I think usually gets compared to Western Q&A websites like Stack Overflow or Quora – by Chen Mengyu on November 6th.  This one is slightly more mixed; it seems like they enjoyed the more literary, fannish or creative activities, but were bored stiff by some of the more “corporate” events that they stumbled into.

At lunch, the sun was just right and the lake was like a mirror. I lay on a soft chair and had a bite of fried chicken and a Coke, feeling comfortable.

[A woman I’d met previously] invited her friends over, and there were more people.  Everyone had finished eating and wandered around chatting. While chatting, I felt that most of the people who like science fiction are middle-class people. There was also a man who flew over from Guangzhou to attend the conference.

I went to the Trisolaris [Three-Body Problem] fan meeting and found that there was a queue of two to three hundred meters. Haha, the last time I saw such a queue was at the National Museum. We gave up on queuing.

Soon we found an area where people were playing a creative game. We were divided into several groups, and given a common starting prompt, each group would start writing one sentence at a time, and at the end there was a vote for the group with the best writing…. My group won first place, and as a reward each person chose a book. I chose

[2021 novel] Tales from a Small Town, and I was very happy….

Then I went to the Shenzhen Science and Fantasy Growth Fund panel. My friends became bored, so instead they queued up for the The Three-Body Problem panel. I was the only one who stayed, and I have to admit that it was really boring… The top ten sci-fi cities in the country, as calculated by complex formulas, were announced in the panel: Shanghai, Beijing, Shenzhen, Chongqing, Guangzhou, Xi’an, Chengdu, Hangzhou, Wuhan and Nanjing.  This looked familiar to me – the top ten cities ranked by GDP.  The list was exactly the same except that Xi’an is not in the top ten by GDP… Then I wrote down a piece of data and was shocked! Beijing and Chengdu have the highest density of science fiction writers, reaching a level of 27 science fiction writers per million people…

Because I drew a lottery ticket for the closing ceremony, I attended it on the next day, but there was nothing interesting in the closing ceremony… there were only two things worth  mentioning; one was the simultaneous interpretation, either English to Chinese or Chinese to English.  After choosing, if someone speaks English, the interpreter would translate it on the spot and read it out into the earphones, which I found very interesting.

[The other was that] next year’s science fiction convention was represented by Vincent in a kilt.  It is foreseeable that there will be many Scottish hunks in kilts at next year’s Worldcon.

(Attached images: chenmengyu[123].jpg)

The final report is a Weibo post from October 23rd, which to be honest is a bit of a snarky rant.  This isn’t completely unjustified, as the poster was unable to attend due to the rescheduling, despite living relatively close to Chengdu in a neighbouring province, nor did they have much success with the online component of the con, with both the livestreams and the Hugo voting failing for them.

Your science fiction conference this year is really terrible. I really can’t help but want to curse, but after thinking about it, I might as well forget it…

Since I couldn’t attend in person, I bought an online ticket.  However the website locked up, and I couldn’t get in to watch the live broadcast. They didn’t give me a refund. When I asked, they said it wasn’t allowed.

It’s 2023, and a “science fiction conference” that can’t even be broadcast online is awesome.

The Hugo Awards have always been voted for by members who spend money, and I have been a member for a long time.  I have been voting for the Hugo Awards in the past few years, but this year I was inexplicably unable to vote.  I really admire this organizer.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born December 14, 1916 Shirley Jackson. (Died 1965.) I was surprised to learn how prolific she was — she composed six novels, two memoirs, and more than two hundred short stories! 

Shirley Jackson in 1940.

Her first novel, The Bird’s Nest, she considered a mainstream work of fiction but the publisher didn’t and marketed it as the publishing house marketed it as a psychological horror story. She was right as it’s a woman with multiple personalities, not horror at all.

Her following novel, The Sundial, concerned a family of wealthy eccentrics who believe they have been chosen to survive the end of the world, and was definitely genre as there’s a ghostly presence. 

Jackson’s fifth novel, The Haunting of Hill House, Is one that we all know about it. It has been made into two feature films and a play, and is the basis of a Netflix series. It was done as The Haunting in 1963, and then as, errr, The Haunting thirty-six years later. The latter is not faithful to the novel as it is (SPOILER ALERT) an explicit fantasy horror film in which all the main characters are terrorized and two are killed as explicitly supernatural deaths (END SPOILER). 

Elizabeth Hand’s A Haunting on the Hill is the first authorized novel set in the world of Hill House. The novel takes place decades after the events of The Haunting of Hill House, as a group of theater professionals rent Hill House to workshop a new play. Lis is reviewing it for us. 

The same year she wrote The Bad Children, a one-act children’s musical based on the “Hansel and Gretel” tale. She wrote the book and lyrics with the music being by Allan Jay Friedman.

I’d talk about “The Lottery” short story but I’ve honestly never figured out the appeal of that frankly abhorrent story, so I won’t. If you won’t to, go ahead. Now “The Missing Girl” short story first published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction in their December 1957 issue is a chilling work of horror well worth you reading.

It’s available in a collection comprising fifty four stories of the hundred and four that she did called Just an Ordinary Day. Remarkably it’s a Meredith Moment I’d say at just $7.99! 

Though in extremely poor health, she produced two final works of note. The first being We Have Always Lived in the Castle, a Gothic mystery novel. Time magazine noted it as one of the Ten Best Novels of 1962.

The following year, she published Nine Magic Wishes, an illustrated children’s novel about a child who encounters a magician who grants him numerous enchanting wishes.

At just one forty-eight years of age, her heart failed, according to both of her biographers, due to a combination of heavy smoking, alcoholism and extreme dependence on pain killers prescribed by physicians who didn’t know better at the time. 

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Frazz is for those of us who like big words.
  • Shoe goes well with Frazz.

(11) I SEE NONEXISTENT PEOPLE. “Imaginary Friends ARE Real in ‘IF’ Teaser Trailer”Animation News Network explains how it works.

…Ask yourself the question, “What if all your imaginary friends were real?” And what if your superpower was you could see them all? Then your life would look a lot like the story of IF, John Krasinski’s upcoming comedy adventure about a girl who discovers that she can see everyone’s imaginary friends and the magical adventure she embarks upon to reconnect forgotten ‘IFs’ with their kids….

(12) MR. ROBOT NOW HAS A UNIVERSE. GQ tells readers, “Confirmed: ‘Leave the World Behind’ Takes Place in the ‘Mr. Robot’ Extended Universe”.

Leave the World Behind, Sam Esmail’s first feature film since the success of his tech-thriller series Mr. Robot, deals with themes similar to those of his acclaimed USA Network show. But the connections may not stop there. As one keen-eyed Reddit user noted, the film references a hacking in the tri-state area that nearly led to a catastrophic meltdown at a nuclear power plant. This seems to clearly be a nod to the 11th episode of Season 4, “eXit,” in which Rami Malek’s Elliot nearly hacks a nuclear plant, with catastrophic potential damage….

(13) FIRST, LET’S IGNORE ALL THE LAWYERS. As usual, people aren’t interested in legal advice that would keep them from doing what they’ve already decided to do: “Meta used copyrighted books for AI training despite its own lawyers’ warnings, authors allege”Reuters has the story.

…Meta Platforms’ (META.O) lawyers had warned it about the legal perils of using thousands of pirated books to train its AI models, but the company did it anyway, according to a new filing in a copyright infringement lawsuit initially brought this summer.

The new filing late on Monday night consolidates two lawsuits brought against the Facebook and Instagram owner by comedian Sarah Silverman, Pulitzer Prize winner Michael Chabon and other prominent authors, who allege that Meta has used their works without permission to train its artificial-intelligence language model, Llama.

… In the chat logs quoted in the complaint, researcher Tim Dettmers describes his back-and-forth with Meta’s legal department over whether use of the book files as training data would be “legally ok.”

“At Facebook, there are a lot of people interested in working with (T)he (P)ile, including myself, but in its current form, we are unable to use it for legal reasons,” Dettmers wrote in 2021, referring to a dataset Meta has acknowledged using to train its first version of Llama, according to the complaint.

The month prior, Dettmers wrote that Meta’s lawyers had told him “the data cannot be used or models cannot be published if they are trained on that data,” the complaint said….

(14) SOUNDS LIKE THE NEEDLE IS STUCK. “NASA working to solve Voyager 1 computer glitch from billions of miles away” reports CNN.

NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft has experienced a computer glitch that’s causing a bit of a communication breakdown between the 46-year-old probe and its mission team on Earth.

Engineers are currently trying to solve the issue as the aging spacecraft explores uncharted cosmic territory along the outer reaches of the solar system.

Voyager 1 is currently the farthest spacecraft from Earth at about 15 billion miles (24 billion kilometers) away, while its twin Voyager 2 has traveled more than 12 billion miles (20 billion kilometers) from our planet. Both are in interstellar space and are the only spacecraft ever to operate beyond the heliosphere, the sun’s bubble of magnetic fields and particles that extends well beyond the orbit of Pluto.

Voyager 1 has three onboard computers, including a flight data system that collects information from the spacecraft’s science instruments and bundles it with engineering data that reflects the current health status of Voyager 1. Mission control on Earth receives that data in binary code, or a series of ones and zeroes.

But Voyager 1’s flight data system now appears to be stuck on auto-repeat, in a scenario reminiscent of the film “Groundhog Day.”

A long-distance glitch

The mission team first noticed the issue November 14, when the flight data system’s telecommunications unit began sending back a repeating pattern of ones and zeroes, like it was trapped in a loop.

While the spacecraft can still receive and carry out commands transmitted from the mission team, a problem with that telecommunications unit means no science or engineering data from Voyager 1 is being returned to Earth.

The Voyager team sent commands over the weekend for the spacecraft to restart the flight data system, but no usable data has come back yet, according to NASA….

(15) IN A HOLE IN THE GROUND THERE LIVED…OUR ANCESTORS. IndieWire sets the frame for “’Out of Darkness’ Trailer: A Stone Age Survival Horror Story”.

Set during the Stone Age, the horror film “Out of Darkness” brings a modern twist to the survival story.

The film, which marks both director Andrew Cumming and screenwriter Ruth Greenberg’s respective feature debuts, centers on a teenager (Safia Oakley-Green) who must survive immigrating across the sea and into a foreign land that may or may not house monsters.

The official synopsis for the indie horror film reads: “A group of six have struggled across the narrow sea to find a new home. They are starving, desperate, and living 45,000 years ago. First they must find shelter, and they strike out across the tundra wastes towards the distant mountains that promise the abundant caves they need to survive. But when night falls, anticipation turns to fear and doubt as they realize they are not alone. Terrifying sounds suggest something monstrous at large in this landscape, something that could kill or steal them away. As relationships in the group fracture, the determination of one young woman reveals the terrible actions taken to survive.”…

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Joel Zakem.] Loontown is a nearly 18-minute animated noir set in a city reminiscent of Los Angeles, whose denizens are talking balloons, gasbags and others of their ilk. It was written by World Fantasy Award winning author Lavie Tidhar and directed, animated and scored by Nir Yaniv, who had previously collaborated with Tidhar on the 2009 novel The Tel Aviv Dossier. Loontown can currently be viewed on YouTube.

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

Pixel Scroll 10/11/23 We’re All The Children Of Pixels, Ancient Pixels Who Gave Birth To All Intelligence

(1) THE ROCKETS’ GREEN LIGHT. Early this morning in Los Angeles the last of two Space Shuttle Rocket Launch Motors made their way through Exposition Park to the California Science Center. Each is 116 feet long and around 12 feet in diameter.  

They are part of the “Go for Stack” project to move and lift space shuttle components for the future Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center. What is Go for Stack?

“Go for Stack” is the complex process of moving and lifting each of the space shuttle components into place for Endeavour’s upcoming, awe-inspiring 20-story vertical display in the future Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center, which is currently under construction. This technically challenging feat has never been done outside of a NASA facility. 

(2) ROBIN REID GUESTS ON TOLKIEN PODCAST. Episode 16 of Queer Lodgings: A Tolkien Podcast is a “Queer Anthology Interview with Robin Reid, Chris Vaccaro, Steven Yandell”.

We have a special treat for you this month – Leah, Alicia, and Grace welcome not one… not two… but three guests! They are the editors of the forthcoming edited anthology ‘”There Are Many Paths to Tread”: Queer Approaches to Tolkien’s Middle-earth’ from McFarland (due to release in 2025), and each is a well-known Tolkien scholar in their own right – Robin Reid, Chris Vaccaro, and Steve Yandell. Join us as we discuss the landscape of Queer and Intersectional Tolkien studies, why they’re important, and what these important and fresh outlooks can contribute to Tolkien scholarship.

(3) MALINDA LO ON BOOK SUPPRESSION. “My Books Have Been Banned or Challenged in 16 States” says Malinda Lo, and in this thoroughly-researched post the author explores many ways that has been done.

In the last two years, my books have been banned, challenged, or restricted in 44 cases in 40 communities across 16 states. Last Night at the Telegraph Club receives the most attention, but Ash, Huntress, A Line in the Dark and A Scatter of Light have also been targeted by book banners. The book bans have increased over time, and in the last couple of months I’ve learned about a new one almost every week…

In the spreadsheet, I’ve recorded 44 cases in which my books were targeted by right-wing activists. Those cases include: 

  1. Book bans, in which books are removed from school libraries and/or classrooms (either during an investigation of the challenge or completely);
  2. book challenges, in which a community member makes a complaint about a book to a school district or library (this may not lead to an outright ban);
  3. restrictions, in which a book is placed in a restricted section of the library or requires parental permission for access; and 
  4. instances in which a book published as young adult was moved to the adult section of a library. 

I have chosen to count more than straightforward book bans, and I include the challenges I have found even if the book is not ultimately banned, because I’m interested in tracking all the ways my books are targeted. This is a personal analysis of how book banning has affected my work, not a broader analysis of book bans in America….

Here’s an example of Lo’s detailed analysis:

…. When asked if they had read the entire book, the challenger wrote, “I read a summary and it told me everything I need to know.” What concerns them? “This book promoting a sexual agenda to young people.”

Since they didn’t read the book, you may be wondering where they found these summaries or sections that they object to. While I don’t know where these specific two challengers found their summaries, I suspect they may have used conservative book banning Facebook groups or websites like Book Looks (created by Florida-based Moms for Liberty) or Rated Books (affiliated with the Utah-based Laverna in the Library). I think that whoever made the entries about Telegraph Club for these websites has in fact read the book, or at least they have combed through it line by line hunting for excerpts that they believe prove their allegations of a book’s offensive nature….

(4) CHENGDU WORLDCON ROUNDUP. [By Ersatz Culture.]

New Worldcon logo

2023 Chengdu has changed its logo just before the con.  

Chinese-language article about the WSFS Business Meeting

The con posted an article to weixin.qq.com entitled (via Google Translate) “Everyone, please check the introduction of the 2023 Chengdu World Science Fiction Conference Business Meeting!”.  Most File 770 readers are likely to be already familiar with material about the WSFS Business Meeting – the article even has a section summarizing Robert’s Rules of Order – but there are a couple of interesting bits near the bottom of the page, as follows…

Who’s sponsoring the WorldCon?  Some answers

The October 9th Scroll pointed out that the list of Chengdu Worldcon sponsors in the Business Meeting Agenda did not match announcements at a June Brand Conference.  At the bottom of the page, there is what I believe is the first official confirmation of any sponsors on any of the Worldcon’s platforms.  There are four levels or types of sponsor, the information I’ve been able to glean so far is:

“2023 Chengdu Worldcon Starseeker”

  • China Telecom (the only sponsor confirmed at the aforementioned Brand Conference)
  • ICBC – Industrial and Commercial Bank of China

“2023 Chengdu Worldcon Stargazer”

  • Das Security – cybersecurity firm, apparently also known as DBAppSecurity, according to this article which states they were also a sponsor of the recent Asian Games alongside China Telecom and ICBC.
  • Starry Dome – I assume that this is the same company as 上海瀚海星穹网络科技 / Shanghai Hanhai Xingqiong Network Technology, but I’m still a bit unclear what exactly they do; websites that provide company data mention both technology and marketing.  This listing states (via Google Translate) that “Shanghai Hanhai Xingqiong Network Co., Ltd. was established in 2023. It is a technology company dedicated to brand management, game distribution, omni-channel operation and entertainment innovation. At the beginning of its establishment, the company determined that the derivative incubation of the “Wandering Earth” IP would be its main business direction, and it has actively explored and developed in this field.”

“2023 Chengdu Worldcon Specially Supporting Brands”

“2023 Chengdu Worldcon IP Cooperative Partner”

  • Three-Body Universe is a name I’ve seen a few times, but I never looked into.  Per a recent Reddit thread“Three Body Universe is the Chinese company behind most Three Body Problem IP like the Zhang Beihai season of the Three Body Minecraft animation, the TBP animation, the radio drama, etc…”

Note that the above list(s) include neither of the organizations named as sponsors in the Business Meeting Agenda document.

(5) ON WORLDCON WEEKEND PUTIN WILL BE IN CHINA, BUT NOT CHENGDU. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Reuters News reports “China to host Belt and Road forum in Beijing Oct 17-18” on the same weekend as the Worldcon – and guess who will be there.

China will host its third Belt and Road Forum next week, its foreign ministry said on Wednesday, a President Xi Jinping signature event that President Vladimir Putin is due to attend on a rare trip abroad….

Putin attended the two previous forums, in 2017 and 2019, and the Kremlin said in September he had accepted an invitation to the forum and for talks with Xi.

The Russian leader is not known to have gone abroad since the Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC) issued a warrant for him in March over the deportation of children from Ukraine….

Overlaps Worldcon in time, but not in space by a few provinces and about 1800 km by road. It might inform someone’s decisions on when and where to sightsee.

(6) TOLKIEN SOCIETY SEMINAR. The Tolkien Society Online Seminar 2023 will be happening November 26, 2023 with the theme “Tolkien and Religion in the Twenty-First Century.” Complete information at the link, including a schedule of paper presentations.

… Although J.R.R. Tolkien deliberately excluded explicit religious references from his legendarium and rejected narrow allegorical readings of The Lord of the Rings, he made no secret of his devout Roman Catholicism and its importance to his sub-creative endeavor. From the creation myth of the “Ainulindalë” to the eucatastrophic destruction of the One Ring, Túrin Turambar’s doomed warrior courage to Frodo Baggins’s self-sacrificial humility, scholars have long examined the influence of Tolkien’s Christian faith and his abiding admiration for pre-Christian legends on the nature and history of Arda. Explorations of the legendarium from other religious perspectives or explicitly nonreligious perspectives have received less attention, however, as have studies of the reception of Tolkien’s work among (non)religious readers and communities….

(7) MYTHOPOEIC ONLINE EVENT. “Something Mighty Queer” is the theme of the Mythopoeic Society’s Online Midwinter Seminar 2024, to be held next year on February 17-18. The call for papers is at the link. The deadline to submit is November 30.

We invite submissions for an online conference that focuses on queerness in fantasy, science fiction, speculative fiction or other mythopoeic work. This can be queer representation within the work or engaging with mythopoeia through queer theory. “Queerness” is an intentionally ambiguous term, demonstrating the diversity of queer experiences, and the necessity of situating queerness as a liminal, complex paradigm. Queer theory is wider than the study of gender identity or sexuality, extending to taking positions against normativity and dominant modes of thought, and engaging with the indefinite….

(8) FIVE-YEAR MISSIONARY. In an NPR interview “Patrick Stewart says his time on ‘Star Trek’ felt like a ministry”.

Martin: I talk to a lot of people about spirituality and about the value of spiritual communities, which I think are when people who have similar values gather together and have or seek transcendent experiences. And I think Star Trek, in all of its incarnations, represents that to a lot of fans. It is a spiritual world. They treat it with religious reverence. Have you encountered that? Do you get it?

Stewart: Yes. I see it very, very clearly and very strongly. It was about truth and fairness and honesty and respect for others, no matter who they were or what strange alien creature they looked like. That was immaterial. They were alive. And if they needed help, Jean Luc Picard and his crew, his team, were there to give it.

In a sense, we were ministers. And I have heard now so many times from individuals who have been honest enough and brave enough to tell me aspects of their life, of their health, of their mental health. And how it was all saved and improved by watching every week….

(9) SIGNATURE MYSTERY. [Item by Danny Sichel.] From the collection of the late Sylvain St-Pierre, Montreal fan, comes this autograph page from the souvenir program book for Nolacon II (Worldcon 1988). The top autograph is obviously from George Alec Effinger, but does anyone have any idea who the bottom one is from?

(10) MEMORY LANE.

2004 [Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Charles de Lint’s Medicine Road which is where our Beginning is from has an interesting backstory, or at least the lead characters do. Now mind you, we won’t be meeting either of them in the Beginning. Well sort of we won’t. 

There’s a minor spoiler here. Very minor. 

 There’s a number of stories that he did that are set within a place, a very rural Appalachian setting, roughly now though the year is never known to the reader. A children book, A Circle of Cats which Lis will be reviewing is where these stories began followed  by The Cats of Tanglewood Forest which she has already reviewed here.  

There’s a single story in this set of stories “Somewhere in My Mind There Is a Painting Box”.  And now we get to the YA Seven Wild Sisters where Laurel and Bess, musical twins, younger here than they will be in the adult Medicine Road where they are a folk singing duo, will get involved in the fey world of the region. Both of these will also be reviewed by her. 

And here’s our Beginning…

CHANGING DOG AND CORN HAIR

One night, not so long ago, Changing Dog and Corn Hair met up in Sedona, Arizona, to have a talk about an old bargain they’d made with Coyote Woman. It’s funny, thinking of the two of them together like that; I can imagine them doing pretty much anything except getting along. Most times they’ll argue the colour of the moon, or the taste of water, if they can’t find something better to disagree on. There’s nothing much they ever seem to settle on, except that the other’s wrong.

But this night Corn Hair wasn’t aiming for an argument. She had herself a camp there by Oak Creek, on the south bank where the water runs below Cathedral Rock. It wasn’t much, just her bedroll laid out in the sand under the sycamores, with her pack doubling as a pillow. Close by, she’d built a small fire on which she was boiling water in a tin coffee pot, the bottom blackened from all its years of use. She ground some coffee beans using a flat rock and another the size of her fist for a mortar and pestle, scooping them into the now-boiling water when they were ground to her satisfaction. By the time Changing Dog came ambling down from the red rock scars skirting the solitary butte that towered above the creek, the coffee was thick and black, ready to drink.

Changing Dog nodded hello and sat cross-legged near the fire. He was a rangy, copper-skinned man with a narrow face and long, chestnut hair that streaked to a dark tan at his temples and was kept tied back with a thin strip of leather. You hardly ever saw him dressing up. That night he was wearing a white T-shirt and jeans, dusty tooled-leather cowboy boots and an old brown leather jacket going thin at the elbows. He wasn’t a homely man and he wasn’t particularly handsome, but he had these eyes that would grab anybody’s attention, especially a woman’s. They were a vivid cornflower blue that looked violet in the right light, and there was always a promise in them–not that he’d necessarily deliver, but that whatever might come, it would at least be interesting.

He accepted the tin coffee mug that Corn Hair handed him and took an appreciative sip. Setting the mug in the sand, he pulled a tobacco pouch from his pocket and rolled them each a cigarette, lighting them with a twig from the fire. He left one hanging from his lips, offering the other to Corn Hair.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 11, 1949 Sharman DiVono, 74. She was the primary writer of the Star Trek comic strip from a year in the early Eighties.  She’s written a number of other strips such as Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm, The Man from Planet X and Tarzan. She has written for three animated series — G.I. JoeBill & Ted’s Excellent Adventures and Star Wars: Droids. She’s written one genre novel, Blood Moon
  • Born October 11, 1960 Nicola Bryant, 63. Well known for her role as Perpugilliam “Peri” Brown, a companion to both the Fifth and Sixth Doctors. She also worked in “The Two Doctors” story so she appeared with the Second Doctor as well. Of course she’s done Big Finish Doctor Who audio dramas. Like so many, many genre performers, she shows up in the video Trek fan fiction playing Lana in Star Trek Continues.
  • Born October 11, 1964 Michael J. Nelson, 59. Best known for his work on Mystery Science Theater. He was the head writer of the series for most of the show’s original eleven-year run, and spent half of that time as the on-air host. Bad genre films were a favorite target of him and his companions. Not that they don’t deserve it. 
  • Born October 11, 1965 Sean Patrick Flanery, 58. I really do think that his best work was on The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles and the films that followed. It certainly wasn’t as Bobby Dagen in Saw: The Final Chapter, a film best forgotten. (It gets a forty-one percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes, much better than I expected.) He appeared as Jake Greyman in Demon Hunter, another low budget horror film, and as John in The Evil Within. I see a pattern…
  • Born October 11, 1972 Nir Yaniv, 51. Author, editor, musician, and filmmaker.  He founded a webzine for the Israeli Society for Science Fiction & Fantasy.  Currently, he’s the chief editor of Chalomot Be’aspamia, Israel’s only professionally printed genre magazine. His short fiction has appeared in Weird TalesApex Magazine and The Best of World SF. He co-wrote The Tel Aviv Dossier with Lavie Tidhar. 
  • Born October 11, 1972 Claudia Black, 51. Best known for being Aeryn Sun in Farscape, arguably the best SF video series ever done, Vala Mal Doran in Stargate SG-1 and Sharon “Shazza” Montgomery in Pitch Black. She also had a recurring role as Dahlia in The Originals and starred as Dr. Sabine Lommers in The CW’s Containment series.
  • Born October 11, 1976 Emily Deschanel, 47. Temperance “Bones” Brennan in Bones which crossed over with Sleepy Hollow twice (she visited the latter once) and she had a bit part on Spider-Man 2. More notably she was Pam Asbury in Stephen King’s Rose Red series. Actually the forensic science on Bones is genre, isn’t it? 

(12) COMICS SECTION.

(13) PRODIGY COMES IN FOR SAFE LANDING. So says The Hollywood Reporter: “’Star Trek: Prodigy’ Moves to Netflix After Paramount+ Cancellation”.

Star Trek: Prodigy, the animated kids show that was canceled at Paramount+ with its second season still midway through production, has found a new home.

Netflix has scooped up both the previously aired first season and has committed to airing the sophomore run once that completes production. Season one will stream later this year, with the second batch due in 2024.

The Paramount Global-backed Paramount+ axed Prodigy in June when it became the latest streamer to take advantage of tax write-offs. 

Prodigy, though, was a particular surprise given the series is produced in-house by CBS Studios, where Star Trek captain Alex Kurtzman is based with a nine-figure overall deal…. 

(14) DISNEY SOLVES FOR X. At CBR.com,“Disney Celebrates the X-Men and Avengers’ 60th Anniversary With What If…? Variant Covers”.

Classic Disney characters will grace the covers of Marvel’s comics in 2024 to celebrate the Avengers and X-Men‘s 60th anniversary.

The Disney What If…? variant cover series will be a monthly program adorning select issues of Amazing Spider-Man. There are twelve covers, and they will be released monthly throughout 2024. They will feature Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy and other classic Disney characters in milestone moments from Avengers and X-Men history. Marvel revealed the first three covers, one recreating Avengers #1 with Peg Leg Pete as Loki, another with Mickey and friends as the original X-Men, and the third showing the iconic Disney characters assembling as the Avengers, even giving Goofy Captain America‘s shield and Pluto Thor’s hammer.

(15) 2 ARMS, 2 ARMS! The Heritage Auctions Blog promises “This Piece Will Hook You – T-1000 Arms from Terminator 2”.

When it comes to explosive sequels, few in the industry can make a more bombastic blockbusting entry into a franchise like James Cameron. Having taken audiences on a pulse pounding tour de force with his follow up to the critically acclaimed Alien and made a splash with the cutting-edge special effects technologies which brought to life his memorable creations in The Abyss, one would think that Cameron would be hard pressed to continue his upward trajectory as the king of Blockbusters. Then, on July 3rd, 1991, it happened. Like a nuclear blast from his harrowing future vision of a robotic apocalypse, he unleashed yet another pioneering action film with Terminator 2 . A sequel that not only raised the stakes presented in the original film but proved to be an even bigger critical success. Among the memorable characters and sequences, a particular liquid metal menace played by a then unknown actor, Robert Patrick, captivated audiences and the vast pop-culture consciousness, the T-100.

Flash forward 32 years, and I find myself typing this entry while sitting in a large warehouse. Don’t worry. It might be a little imposing, but a fallout shelter it is not. The world hasn’t been taken over by artificial intelligence (yet), and as a cataloger working on Heritage Auctions’ various upcoming auctions, I continually find myself in a movie memorabilia mecha. And though I’ve held pieces from iconic films spanning the history of Hollywood, very few pieces have made my heart race the way these prop T-1000 hooked arms have….

(16) COULD THIS KSR SCENARIO REALLY WORK? [Item by John A Arkansawyer.] A speculative article from the BBC on climate change uses Kim Stanley Robinson’s Ministry for the Future as a hook. Beware spoilers. “To avert climate disaster, what if one rogue nation dimmed the Sun?” at BBC Future.

…In Robinson’s imagined scenario, India’s rogue deployment of solar geo-engineering turns out to be broadly benign, and buys time to scale-up emissions reductions. But in the real-world, the idea that such a deus ex machina technology could ever be safely deployed remains highly speculative, with many risks and unknowns.

So if one rogue nation did decide to dim the Sun for real, what environmental and geopolitical consequences might unfurl? And is the safe deployment of such a technology even a conceivable goal? …

(17) PLAYING CHICKEN IN SPACE – AND LOSING. [Item by Steven French.] When worlds collide! (It’s kinda pretty…) “Afterglow of cataclysmic collision between two planets seen for first time” reports the Guardian. Photos at the link.

… After a detailed analysis of the observations, the astronomers concluded that the blast of infrared radiation came from a hot new object or “synestia” created by the collision of two planets nearly as large as Neptune. Based on the infrared readings, the vast spinning object had a temperature of more than 700C for about three years. It will eventually cool and form a new planet around the star.

According to details published in Nature, the star began to dim about 2.5 years after the afterglow began as a massive cloud of fine impact debris drifted across the face of the star.

“It’s the first time we’ve seen the afterglow from such an event,” said Simon Lock, another co-lead author at the University of Bristol. “We’ve seen debris and discs before, but we have never seen the afterglow of the planetary body that’s produced.”…

(18) BARBIE HALLOWEEN. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Part of an Utah neighborhood is transforming itself into Barbieland for Halloween. Each homeowner has picked a different theme related to the Barbie movie, Halloween+Barbie, etc. There’s the Barbie Dream House, a Barbie graveyard, Disco Barbie, and many more. Most of the houses are using pink floodlights, making the effect much more vivid at night. “Utah residents transform neighborhood into Barbieland for Halloween” at USA Today.

And the pink passion this season isn’t only in Utah. For instance, an Atlanta-area homeowner has decorated her front yard as the Barbie Scream House.

If you know of more examples of this trend, feel free to add links in the comments.

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

Pixel Scroll 9/2/23 There Was A Pixeled Fan, And They Scrolled A Pixeled File

(1) LISTEN UP, BUCKAROOS. Dan Berger has served for the last nineteen years as the editor-in-chief of World Watch One, the Buckaroo Banzai fan newsletter/zine. Dan sent the link to their latest issue with a note, “I’m not sure you absolutely need to be a Buckaroo fan to find something fun in this issue, but it doesn’t hurt either.” The theme of World Watch One August 2023 is “Afrocentric”.

Their group’s base on the internet is here: World Watch OnLine: The Buckaroo Banzai Mailing List

(2) UKRAINE BENEFIT ANTHOLOGY. [Item by Marc Criley.] Over 30 writers contributed stories to To Ukraine, With Love, a “benefit anthology of Science Fiction, Fantasy, Myths, Legends, Fairy Tales, and Eldritch Stories, Poems, and Art.” Just released and available via all the usual bookseller outlets.

100% of profits from all forms — print, epub, and audiobook — will be donated to charities for Ukraine.

The anthology was spearheaded and edited by Fran Eisemann, the editor of Cosmic Roots & Eldritch Shores magazine.

Cosmic Roots & Eldritch Shores presents To Ukraine, With Love benefit anthology, with 100% of the profits to be donated to causes for Ukraine, including World Central Kitchen and similar charities which will earmark 100% of a contribution to a specified cause.

All the science fiction, fantasy, myths, legends, fairy tales, and eldritch stories and poems, and the artwork, have been donated. Contributors include Geoffrey Landis, David Brin, Terri Windling, Andrew Burt, George Guthridge, and Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki. Artists include Scott Gustafson, Stephanie Law, and Howard David Johnson.

(3) TOLKIEN SCHOLARSHIP. Robin Reid gives more “Recommended Readings on Tolkien” to readers of Writing From Ithilien.

Not only is there more and more work being done on what I call the “Tolkien phenomenon” (meaning, not only his legendarium, including the posthumous publications Christopher Tolkien gave us, but also the multiple adaptations and the fandoms all around the world), but more and more the people doing the scholarship are making their work more freely available online. And while I will always cheerlead for open-access scholarly journals like Mythlore and The Journal of Tolkien Research, I also want to recommend scholars who make work available on their blogs/newsletters/etc.!

The three recommendations below also show the wide range of topics in Tolkien studies!…

Get those recommendations at the link.

(4) THIS IS NUTS. Andrew Porter forwarded this comment left by MJM on the New York Times piece: “We Used A.I. to Write Essays for Harvard, Yale and Princeton. Here’s How It Went”.

I asked ChatGPT to write a college admission essay in the voice of a squirrel. The total result is a bit too long to post, here are some excerpts: —

“As a squirrel, I have learned to adapt to different environments and challenges. I have lived in various habitats, from urban parks to rural forests, and have encountered many predators, such as hawks, cats, and humans. I have developed a keen sense of awareness, agility, and resilience that help me survive and thrive in any situation.”

“In addition, I have shown a remarkable leadership and community involvement. I have led many groups of squirrels in various activities, such as organizing food storage, defending our territory, and planning migrations. I have also collaborated with other animals, such as birds, rabbits, and dogs, to promote peace and harmony in our ecosystem. I have volunteered to help humans in need, such as feeding the homeless, cleaning the parks, and planting trees.

“I am confident that I can bring a unique and valuable perspective to your campus. I am eager to learn from your distinguished faculty and diverse student body. I am also excited to contribute to your academic excellence and social impact. I hope you will give me the opportunity to fulfill my dream of becoming a college-educated squirrel. Thank you for your consideration.

“Sincerely, Squirrel”

(5) EVEN IF IT’S YOUR JAM. Catherynne M. Valente learned something.

(6) FRANNE LEE (1941-2023). Costume and set designer Franne Lee, who created iconic outfits for several Saturday Night Live sketches, died August 27. The New York Times obituary recalled:

Franne Lee, a costume and set designer who while doing Tony Award-winning work on Broadway in the 1970s also made killer-bee suits and cone-shaped headwear for early “Saturday Night Live” sketches, helping to create some of that era’s most memorable comic moments, died on Sunday in Atlantis, Fla. She was 81.

The original “S.N.L.” cast quickly made its mark with outlandish sketches, and Ms. Lee was integral to the look of those now famous bits — dressing John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd in black when they became the Blues Brothers, turning cut-up long johns into the yellow-striped Killer Bee costumes, and more.

It was costume designing on the cheap. Ms. Lee’s father, a tool-and-die maker, came up with the bouncy springs that were the Killer Bees’ antennae, which she finished off by sticking Ping-Pong balls on the ends. John Storyk, who first met Ms. Lee in 1968 when both worked at the short-lived Manhattan club Cerebrum, recalled in a phone interview dropping by the Lees’ apartment and seeing on her work table the beginnings of the cones that became the defining feature of the Coneheads, the extraterrestrials who were a recurring presence on the show in the late 1970s and later got their own feature film….

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 2, 1899 Martin Miller. One of his mod remembered roles was as Kublai Khan in Doctor Who‘s first season.  Later genre performances the first Pink Panther film, a bevy of ITC Entertainment such as Danger ManThe AvengersDepartment S and The Prisoner. He was in Children of the Damned and The Gamma People to name but two of his genre films. (Died 1978.)
  • Born September 2, 1925 Meinhardt Raabe. The actor best known as the Munchkin coroner in The Wizard of Oz. He certified the death of the Wicked Witch of the East. (Died 2000.)

As coroner, I must aver
I thoroughly examined her
And she’s not only merely dead
She’s really, most sincerely dead!

  • Born September 2, 1944 Roland Green. His most prominent works are his military SF series —Starcruiser Shenandoah, the Peace Company, and Voyage to Eneh, but he also did a lot of Conan novels, and co-authored two Janissaries novels with Pournelle. (Died 2021.)
  • Born September 2, 1946 Walter Simonson, 77. Comic artist and writer who’s best known I think for his run on Thor during the Eighties in which he created the character Beta Ray Bill. An odd character that one is if ever there was one. He’s worked for DC and Marvel, and a number of independent companies as well.  He did this cover for Michael Moorcock’s Count Brass. And he did the interior artwork as well. 
  • Born September 2, 1950 Mel Odom, 73. Not that Mel Odom. This is another Mel Odom. His illustrations have graced  many a cover of the works of Guy Gavriel Kay including A Song for Arbonne, the Fionavar Tapestry trilogy, The Lions of Al-Rassan and Tigana. I’ll single out the cover of the Penguin Books edition of Tigana as as Ireally l ike his work here.
  • Born September 2, 1951 Mark Harmon, 72. Much better known for his work on NCIS and yes, I’m a fan, though not of the last five years of the series. He’s done some genre work down the decades. An early role was as Gacel Sayah in Tuareg: Il guerriero del deserto, a Spanish-Italian pulp film. He was Jack Black in Magic in the Water, and voiced Clark Kent/Superman on Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths. He was in the Wally Schirra in the genre adjacent From the Earth to the Moon miniseries, and shows as Bob Markham in the “Tarzan and The Outbreak” episode of The Legend of Tarzan.
  • Born September 2, 1964 Keanu Reeves, 59. Obviously in The Matrix films which so far I’ve avoided watching. So should I go forth now and watch them? Now I have seen the first two Bill & Ted’s films and like then quite a bit, but not the third. Should I? Finally I’ll confess that I have seen Johnny Mnemonic. So i must ask what were they thinking? Really?

(8) COMICS SECTION.

(9) THOUGHT-TO-VOICE.  [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Who needs Alfred (working class) Bester? In Nature: “Brain-reading devices allow paralysed people to talk using their thoughts”. “Two studies report considerable improvements in technologies designed to help people with facial paralysis to communicate.”

Brain-reading implants enhanced using artificial intelligence (AI) have enabled two people with paralysis to communicate with unprecedented accuracy and speed.

In separate studies, both published on 23 August in Nature1,2, two teams of researchers describe brain–computer interfaces (BCIs) that translate neural signals into text or words spoken by a synthetic voice. The BCIs can decode speech at 62 words per minute and 78 words per minute, respectively. Natural conversation happens at around 160 words per minute, but the new technologies are both faster than any previous attempts.

“It is now possible to imagine a future where we can restore fluid conversation to someone with paralysis, enabling them to freely say whatever they want to say with an accuracy high enough to be understood reliably,” said Francis Willett, a neuroscientist at Stanford University in California who co-authored one of the papers1, in a press conference on 22 August.

These devices “could be products in the very near future”, says Christian Herff, a computational neuroscientist at Maastricht University, the Netherlands.

(10) A COMET YOU CAN SEE. Gizmodo says “Newly Spotted Comet May Soon Be Visible Without Telescopes”.

A comet recently discovered by Japanese amateur astronomer Hideo Nishimura is garnering attention from NASA and skywatchers alike.

Using a standard digital camera, Nishimura detected the celestial body on August 11 during a series of 30-second exposures, according to NASA. Though currently not visible to the naked eye, this status may soon change. NASA has noted the comet’s steady increase in brightness since its discovery. Furthermore, astronomers have now charted the comet’s future trajectory through the inner solar system.

“As the comet dives toward the Sun, it will surely continue to intensify and possibly become a naked-eye object in early September,” stated NASA. However, there’s a caveat for potential observers: the comet’s proximity to the Sun will mean it is best visible during the times of sunset or sunrise when the Sun’s glare is least obtrusive….

(11) GUARDING AGAINST ANOTHER PANDEMIC. I can’t help hearing the voice of Bill Murray when I read this headline. “Cats With Bird Flu? The Threat Grows.” The New York Times’ Zeynep Tufekci has the story.  

The global H5N1 avian flu outbreak, already devastating wild birds and poultry, keeps spreading to mammals, bringing it one step closer to a potential human outbreak.

Of course, since the coronavirus pandemic taught us the importance of responding early and aggressively to outbreaks …

Sorry, I’m joking. We don’t seem to have learned much from the Covid outbreak, and it’s not funny.

Not enough has been done about an out-of-control H5N1 outbreak at fur farms in Finland or a mystery outbreak among domestic cats in Poland.

Finland, one of Europe’s biggest fur producers, is battling outbreaks among its captive minks, foxes and raccoon dogs — species that scientists warn have been identified as more likely to evolve a variant that can infect people, leading to a human outbreak.

Even the Finnish Food Authority, in its announcement of animals being culled, noted that minks are susceptible to both human and avian influenza. If one animal is infected by both, the viruses can mix genes and give rise to an avian flu that can infect humans. Fur farms in Finland, however, aren’t being closed. Instead the Finnish Wildlife Agency allowed fur breeders to kill wild birds near their farms in large numbers. The Agency told me the killings were authorized “to prevent contacts between infected birds and animals at fur farms,” but scientists point out this is the wrong approach and likely futile — and more fur farms in Finland have since announced further outbreaks.

Meanwhile, officials said a sizable outbreak of H5N1 among pet cats in Poland this summer killed at least 29 animals, though cat owners have compiled lists with as many as 89 sick animals. The outbreak has many unusual features that make it especially concerning, and yet there still hasn’t been an explanation of how exactly it happened or a vigorous investigation….

(12) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Time to revisit this “Constellation WorldCon Baltimore” video first posted to YouTube 13 years ago. It’s amazing that I recognize most of these people.

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

Pixel Scroll 8/18/23 Let’s Do The Time Lord Again

(0) Short Scroll today – no reason, just not as many things I wanted to include.

(1) LE GUIN’S BEST BOOKS. The New York Times takes a look at why Ursula K. Le Guin matters: “Her powerful imagination turned hypothetical elsewheres into vivid worlds governed by forces of nature, technology, gender, race and class a far cry from our own.” “The Essential Ursula K. LeGuin”.

In her 2009 essay “On the Frontier,” Ursula K. Le Guin took stock of an abstraction endemic to both the American West, where she was raised, and her chosen genre of science fiction. Interplanetary wars, galaxy-spanning empires, brave men bounding toward their next conquest — all this action rests on a notion of the future as inchoate, waiting to be made. But that’s never been true, she argued, in America or her fiction. “The future is already full,” she wrote. “It is much older and larger than our present, and we are the aliens in it.”…

(2) THE TRIMBLES. Maggie Thompson posted this photo taken at Comic-Con showing her flanked by John and Bjo Trimble. Bjo recently turned 90.

(3) SIMULTANEOUS TIMES. Space Cowboy Books in Joshua Tree, CA has released episode 66 of Simultaneous Times, a monthly science fiction podcast. Stories featured in this episode are:

  • “Cost of Living” by Mike Morgan; with music by Fall Precauxions
  • “We’re All Family Here” by Mark Soden Jr.; with music by Phog Masheeen

Available on all podcast players or at Podomatic.

(4) THE GODS THEMSELVES. “’Percy Jackson’ Series Gets Teaser, Premiere Date on Disney+” reports Variety.

After a decade of waiting, “Percy Jackson and the Olympians” fans will finally get an author-backed screen adaptation of the beloved young adult novels on Dec. 20. The series will arrive on Disney+ with two episodes, followed by weekly drops….

The teaser opens with voiceover from Virginia Kull as Percy’s mother, Sally Jackson. “The stories that I have told you about Greek gods and half-bloods — they are real,” she says over images of Camp Half-Blood, Percy on the elevator to Olympus, Ares (Adam Copeland) and different confrontations with monsters….

Here’s the teaser trailer: “We’ve Been Expecting You”.

Percy Jackson & The Olympians tells the fantastical story of a 12-year-old modern demigod, Percy Jackson, who’s just coming to terms with his newfound supernatural powers when the sky god Zeus accuses him of stealing his master lightning bolt. Now Percy must trek across America to find it and restore order to Olympus.

(5) DON’T WALK A MILE IN HIS SHOES. “Minnesota man indicted over theft of Judy Garland’s ‘The Wizard of Oz’ slippers”CNN has the story.

US authorities have charged a man in connection with the theft of a pair of ruby red slippers worn by actress Judy Garland as Dorothy in the 1939 classic movie “The Wizard of Oz” nearly 20 years after they were stolen from a museum in Minnesota.

On Tuesday, a federal grand jury indicted Terry Jon Martin on one count of theft of a major artwork for allegedly stealing “an object of cultural heritage from the care, custody, or control of a museum,” according to court documents filed in the US District Court of Minnesota. The slippers were valued at least $100,000, court documents stated….

BBC Sounds has recording of the Witness History interview with John Kelsch, one of the people who founded the Judy Garland Museum from which the slippers were taken in 2005: “The Wizard of Oz: The stolen ruby slippers”.

(6) CHRIS CALLAHAN (1944-2023). Chris Callahan, an active Washington Science Fiction Association member in the 1990s and earlier, died June 10. Rich Lynch notes, “She was one of the many people who worked on the 1998 Baltimore Worldcon and I am especially grateful to her for volunteering as a proofreader for the Souvenir Book.  She saved me from many embarrassing typos, and had some valuable insights on how it ended up being put together.”

Callahan was part of the WSFA Players who performed Alexis Gilliland’s parody musical “2001 A Space Opera” at the 1974 Worldcon.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 18, 1925 Brian Aldiss. Much honored, he’s was named a Grand Master by SFWA and inducted by the Science Fiction Hall of Fame. I’ll single out his Helliconia series, Hothouse and The Malacia Tapestry as my favorites. He won a Hugo at Chicon III for “The Long Afternoon of The Earth”, another at Conspiracy ’87 for Trillion Year Spree which he co-authored with David Wingrove. He’s well known as an anthologist and SF writer with Space, Time and Nathaniel, a collection of short stories being his first genre publication. He’s edited far too many collections to know which one to single out, but I’m sure that the collective wisdom here can make recommendations. (Died 2017.)
  • Born August 18, 1931 Grant Williams. He is best remembered for his portrayal of Scott Carey in The Incredible Shrinking Man though he will have the role of the psychopathic killer in Robert Bloch’s The Couch. Of course, he shows in Outer Limits, he plays Major Douglas McKinnon in “The Brain of Colonel Barham”.  And he’s Major Kurt Mason in The Doomsday Machine. (Died 1985.)
  • Born August 18, 1934 Michael de Larrabeiti. He is best known for writing The Borrible Trilogy which is noted by several sources online as being an influence by writers in the New Weird movement. Ok folks, I’ve not read so please explain how The Borrible Trilogy influences that literary movement as it doesn’t seem like there’s any connection. (Died 2008.)
  • Born August 18, 1954 Russell Blackford, 69. Writer resident in Australia for awhile but now in Wales. Author of Terminator 2: The New John Connor Chronicles, and editor of the Australian Science Fiction Review in the Eighties. With Van Ikin and Sean McMullen, he wrote Strange Constellations: A History of Australian Science Fiction. And he wrote Science Fiction and the Moral Imagination: Visions, Minds, Ethics.
  • Born August 18, 1955 Tom Flynn. Journalist who edited Free Inquiry magazine from 2010 until his death. He waged a decades-long crusade against Christmas. Seriously he wrote a book titled The Trouble with Christmas. His only work was his Galactic Rapture/Messiah Games space opera which ran to six volumes. Only one volume, The Destroyer’s Creed, is available from that company shall be named and it’s quite expensive. (Died 2021.)
  • Born August 18, 1958 Madeleine Stowe, 65. She’s in the Twelve Monkeys film as Kathryn Railly, and she’s in the Twelve Monkeys series as Lillian in the “Memory of Tomorrow” episode. Her other genre work was a one-off in The Amazing Spider-Man which ran for thirteen episodes nearly forty years ago where she was Maria Calderon in “Escort to Danger” in that series, and she also played Mia Olham in Impostor which was scripted off Philip K. Dick’s “Impostor” story. 
  • Born August 18, 1966 Alison Goodman, 47. Australian writer who’s won three Aurealis Awards for Excellence in Speculative Fiction for Singing the Dogstar BluesThe Two Pearls of Wisdom and Lady Helen and the Dark Days PactThe Two Pearls of Wisdom was nominated for an Otherwise Award. 
  • Born August 18, 1967 Brian Michael Bendis, 56. He’s both writer and artist, a still uncommon occurrence. Did you know he’s garnered five Eisner Awards for both his creator-owned work and Marvel Comics? Very impressive! He’s the primary force behind the creation of the Ultimate Marvel Universe, launching Ultimate Spider-Man which is an amazing series which I read on the Marvel Unlimited app. 

(8) QUEER LODGINGS. Robin Anne Reid’s latest Writing from Ithilien introduces readers/listeners to Queer Lodgings: a Tolkien Podcast

Queer Lodgings is a queer-led podcast covering all things Tolkien. Join Alicia, Grace, and Leah (and sometimes Tim), a group of fans and scholars, semi-monthly as we discuss Middle-earth from a lgbtq+-focused, intersectional, antiracist, and non-christian perspective.

They’re beginning to post transcripts of some episodes, and Reid provides in this issue of her Substack.

(9) FLY LIKE IT’S 1999. Plans are afoot for “The Eagle Has Landed” Documentary which will explore the legacy of the iconic Eagle Transporter from Space: 1999. The project’s director/creator Jeffrey Morris is launching a Kickstarter campaign on August 28 to bring it to life.

Meet the Visionaries: Icons of the Eagle Legacy

Click here to learn more about who will join Jeffrey Morris in the documentary, including:

Brian Johnson: Visual Effects Artist / Creator of the Eagle
Nick Tate: Captain Alan Carter in Space: 1999
Barbara Bain: Dr. Helena Russell in Space: 1999
Charles Duke: Astronaut / Apollo 16 Lunar Module Pilot
Kevin J. Anderson: Bestselling Sci-Fi Author / Space: 1999 Fan
Bill George: Visual Effects Supervisor
Robert Meyer Burnett: Filmmaker / Film Culture Podcaster

See a preview video here.

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

Pixel Scroll 8/14/23 Nine Hundred Granfalloons

(1) LUKYANENKO’S LATEST OPINIONS ABOUT UKRAINE. Chengdu Worldcon GoH Sergey Lukyanenko’s interview on Radio Komsomolskaya Pravda was transcribed for his website. Here are some computer-translated excerpts; “’By the end of 2023, the situation for Russia will be clearer’ – S. Lukyanenko”.

M. Bachenina:

Well, then, who would you like to see at the head of Ukraine?

S. Lukyanenko:

This is a very difficult question, because, firstly, I would not want to see anyone there. As well as Ukraine itself. Because Ukraine, it was originally formed and is being formed as anti-Russia. That is, as long as Ukraine exists, it will act, unfortunately, as anti-Russia. It needs to be completely reformatted, it needs to completely change itself, including both the name and the territories, in order to create some kind of state that they want to create not as such an antagonist of Russia, an adversary and hater, but as a state that wants to represent something and live its own life. This will be a completely different state.

M. Bachenina:

Many now say that Russia cannot lose, we have the gene of winners. Do you agree with that? And if so, what is the manifestation of this gene?

S. Lukyanenko:

I don’t know if we have a special gene for winners, but I know that we didn’t worry about that, and we will naturally win, it’s indisputable. I would just like this to happen without any unnecessary victims, not only ours, but also those deceived Russian people who now live on the territory of Ukraine. As a matter of fact, we are, of course, one people, just part of the people has been reformatted. It’s, you know, like Tolkien, at one time he described that orcs are the same elves, only who have been poisoned, changed and distorted.

I understand that here we probably have a conviction on both sides that the beautiful elves are us, and there, on the other side, the nefarious orcs. But we know that we are not orcs….

(2) WRONG. THANKS FOR PLAYING. Robin A. Reid devotes her latest Writing From Ithilien newsletter to those “Misquoting Tolkien”.

At some point before Covid (2019 maybe?), I attended a Tolkien Society event and heard a great presentation by Marcel Aubron-Bülles based on a project that he calls “Things J.R.R. Tolkien has never said, done, written or had anything to do with (TThnsdwohatdw)” where he debunks, through research, internet quotes that are not by Tolkien, or are corrupted versions of what Tolkien wrote (I might charitably call some of those paraphrases but they are attributed as direct quotes to Tolkien), or are quotes from Jackson’s films (though they also might be incorrectly quoted). It was fascinating and turns out to that wrong/fake quotes on the internet are legion.

I’m quite sure there will eventually be quotes from Rings of Power attributed to Tolkien!

I am happy in this post to be able to add another example to Marcel’s list (I have skimmed the fifteen blog entries and do not see it!)….

Read the post to find out which one she has in mind.

(3) HUGO RECEPTION MUSICAL CHAIRS. The Hugo Book Club Blog takes its turn at explaining the “The Numbers Game” – the fluctuating ceiling on how many team members get listed as Hugo finalists.

…Over the past decade, there has been a regularly recurring argument about the maximum number of individual contributors that can be listed for each group finalist on the Hugo ballot. This is more common with fan categories like fanzine, fancast, and semiprozine — in recent years some of the contributors lists for an individual publication have extended to several dozen names.

On one side of the argument are those who express logistical concerns about the size of the ballot. On the other side are those who want to ensure that everyone who contributed to the success of a work or publication are given nomination-level credit for their work….

Is this issue something that should be addressed in a new Worldcon rule?

…Those advocating for a more restrictive set of rules point out that the pre-Hugo reception already has capacity issues and logistical constraints. They also suggest that if everyone gets called a “Hugo finalist,” then the status becomes devalued. In addition, the distribution of perks to Hugo finalists, such as the rocketship pins, etc., increase costs on Worldcons.

Both of these positions have merit, and neither should be dismissed out of hand. But the debate should take place in the appropriate forum. The WSFS membership on whose behalf these awards are presented deserve a say in this matter, and the way to do this is to allow both sides to make their case at a business meeting….

(4) INTERNET ARCHIVE SUIT PROPOSED AGREEMENT. Publishers Weekly has more details: “Judgment Entered in Publishers, Internet Archive Copyright Case”.

…The jointly proposed agreement includes a declaration that cements the key finding from Judge John G. Koeltl’s March 24 summary judgment decision: that the IA’s unauthorized scanning and lending of the 127 in-suit copyrighted books under a novel protocol known as “controlled digital lending” constitutes copyright infringement, including in the IA’s controversial “National Emergency Library” (under which the IA temporarily allowed for simultaneous access to its collections of scans in the the early days of the pandemic, when schools and libraries were shuttered).

Most importantly, the proposed agreement includes a permanent injunction that would, among its provisions, bar the IA’s lending of unauthorized scans of in-copyright, commercially available books, as well as bar the IA from “profiting from” or “inducing” any other party’s “infringing reproduction, public distribution, public display and/or public performance” of books “in any digital or electronic form” once notified by the copyright holder. Under the agreement, the injunction will not be stayed while the case is on appeal—essentially meaning that once Koeltl signs off, the IA will have to take stop making unauthorized scans of copyrighted works available to be borrowed within two weeks of notification.

The parties left one final dispute for Koeltl to clean up, however: what books will be “covered” by the proposed injunction?

In a letter to the court, IA attorneys argue that “Covered Books” should be limited to books that are both “commercially available” and available in digital format. “This case involved only works that the Publishers make available as e-books and so the scope of any injunction should be limited accordingly,” IA attorneys argue. “Because the parties did not have the opportunity in this case to litigate the degree to which the unavailability of digital library licensing would affect the fair use analysis, it is inappropriate for an injunction in this case, by its breadth, to effectively prejudge the outcome of that question.”

Lawyers for the plaintiff publishers counter that the injunction should cover all unauthorized scans of commercially available books, whether the copyright holder has licensed a digital edition or not. “The law is clear that the right to decide whether or not to publish a book in electronic format belongs to its authors and publishers, not IA,” the publishers’ letter argues….

(5) MAGICAL HISTORICAL FICTION. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] This week’s B Beeb Ceeb Radio 4 programme Open Book takes a deep dive into magical historical fiction and includes an interview with Ann Patchett.

Available on BBC Sounds  here. 28 minutes.

Anne Patchett

Octavia Bright talks to Ann Patchett about her captivating new novel. Tom Lake is the story of a young actor Lara under the spell of a future Hollywood star, but it is also about how she retells that story in later life to her adult daughters, and the power of storytelling itself.

Two masters of historical fiction, Laura Shepherd-Robinson and S. J. Parris (aka Stephanie Merritt) discuss the allure of magic and mysticism in their latest books set either side of the Enlightenment.

Plus Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah recalls the enchanting tale behind the book he’d never lend.

(6) IT ALL TIES TOGETHER. You may know about Philip José Farmer’s creation, but for the benefit of those born in the past few decades Keith Roysdon explains “The Wold Newton Universe: How a Fictional History Connects Literary Legends” at CrimeReads.

…Even a casual student of science fiction and comic-book history knows all about meteorites. They’re either the source of superheroic powers – or agents of destruction to people with fantastic abilities. (See: Kryptonite.) 

Farmer chose the former concept and, in an unmatched bit of revisionist literary history, decided to use the Wold Newton meteorite to form an interconnected world for some of imaginative literature’s most fantastic characters. Not Superman, of course, because his off-planet origin is well known. But very nearly everyone else was included, as Farmer and his successors in tending the Wold Newton Universe would have it….

(7) OLD SFF LOOKS AT EVOLUTION. The Public Domain Review revisits “H. G. Wells and the Uncertainties of Progress” in this 2019 article.

For Wells the most basic level of uncertainty arose from the fear that the human race might not sustain its current rate of development. In his 1895 story “The Time Machine” he imagined his time traveler projected through eras of future progress: “I saw great and splendid architecture rising about me, more massive than any buildings of our time, and yet, as it seemed, built of glimmer and mist.”2 But the time traveler ends up in a world brought down by social division and degeneration. The brutal Morlocks are the descendants of the industrial workers, while the childlike Eloi are the remnants of the leisured upper classes. This prediction was based on his zoologist friend E. Ray Lankester’s extension of the Darwinian theory. Lankester argued that because evolution works by adapting populations to their environment, progress is not inevitable and any species that adapts itself to a less active and hence less challenging way of life will degenerate.3 Here was the model for a more complex vision of progress in which any advance would depend on the circumstances of the time and could not be predicted on the basis of previous trends….

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 14, 1929 Richard Carpenter. Responsible for the simply superb Robin of Sherwood series. He also created Catweazle, the children’s series about an unfortunate wizard from the 11th century who is accidentally transported to the present day. And he was an actor who appeared in such shows as the Sixties Sherlock Holmes series, The Terrornauts film and the Out of the Unknown series as well. (Died 2012.)
  • Born August 14, 1932 Lee Hoffman. In the early Fifties, she edited and published the Quandry fanzine. At the same time, she began publication of Science-Fiction Five-Yearly which appeared regularly until ‘til 2006. The latter won the fanzine Hugo at Nippon 2007 (with Geri Sullivan and Randy Byers) after her death. She wrote four novels and a handful of short fiction, none of which are in-print. (Died 2007.)
  • Born August 14, 1940 Alexei Panshin. He has written multiple critical works along with several novels, including the Nebula Award-winning Rite of Passage and the Hugo Award-winning study of SF, The World Beyond the Hill which he co-wrote with his wife, Cory Panshin. He also wrote the first serious study of Heinlein, Heinlein in Dimension: A Critical Analysis. Let’s not overlook that he was the Hugo Award winning Best Fan Writer at NYCon 3. (Died 2022.)
  • Born August 14, 1950 Gary Larson, 73. Setting aside a long and delightful career in creating the weird for us, ISFDB lists a SF link that deserve noting. In the March 1991 Warp as published by the Montreal Science Fiction and Fantasy Association, he had a cartoon “The crew of the Starship Enterprise encounters the floating head of Zsa Zsa Gabor”.
  • Born August 14, 1956 Joan Slonczewski, 67. Their novel A Door into Ocean won the John W. Campbell Memorial Award. They won a second John W. Campbell Memorial Award for their Highest Frontier novel. They were nominated for an Otherwise Award for The Children Star novel.
  • Born August 14, 1965 Brannon Braga, 58. Writer, producer and creator for the Next Gen, Voyager, Enterprise, as well as on the Star Trek Generations and Star Trek: First Contact films. He has written more episodes of the Trek various series than anyone else has with one hundred and nine to date. He was responsible for the Next Generation series finale “All Good Things…” which won him a Hugo Award at Intersection for excellence in SF writing, along with Ronald D. Moore. He’s one of the producers of The Orville

(9) WORLDCON THEMED FABRIC. Glasgow 2024, A Worldcon For Our Futures introduces Sara Felix-designed fabrics.

Sara Felix, Hugo award-winning artist and Glasgow 2024 designer, has launched six brand-new fabric designs on Spoonflower, now available for purchase.

Whether it’s a yard of fabric or a throw pillow, tea towels or a blanket, you can celebrate Glasgow 2024 with your choice of festive wares!

A word from Sara: “I created these fabrics because while I love the tartan, I wanted a few more options to play with. So I took the Armadillo we use on the bottom of some of our webpages and publication pages and made these. Of course, we had to have the logo on there as well!”

Browse the designs on Sara Felix’s website.

(10) PASSENGERS. “You’ll travel nearly a trillion miles in your lifetime. Here’s how” explains Space.com. This reminds me of a paragraph in a Vonnegut book that ends, “Who says there’s no such thing as progress?”

….In addition to rotating, Earth orbits the sun. That orbit is an ellipse, which causes our planet to occasionally move more quickly or slowly depending on its distance from the sun. But on average, Earth’s orbital speed is about 19 miles per second (30 km per second).

That’s about 600 million miles (1 billion km) every year. So over a lifetime, each of us travels roughly 50 billion miles (80 billion km) — which, again, dwarfs the distance we travel due solely to the rotation of our planet….

(11) MULTITALENTED JOYNER’S NEW BOOK. Jackiem Joyner, author of Zarya Episode II Sochi Unleashed, also is a contemporary saxophonist and music producer with a pair of number one hit songs and five top 10 Billboard under his belt.

In the second novel of his Zarya series, the fate of Cydnus, a highly advanced desert world, hangs in the balance. With oxygen levels beginning to deplete, this politically divided planet stands on the brink of an existential crisis.

In the heart of the advanced city of New Cebrenia City, Zarya, along with her father, Aaron, and friends Kizzy and Marco, must navigate a complex web of political strife. With Vice Chairman Eros’s dark plots threatening their progress, the security of their only political ally, the chairman, is under threat.
Their most powerful asset is Sochi, Zarya’s advanced AI Airboard. Yet, Sochi’s newfound ability to control other machines presents both significant opportunities and risks.

Meanwhile, Aaron embarks on a perilous journey into the cosmos, driven by desperation to resurrect a long-abandoned project that might be Cydnus’s last hope. His mission, shadowed by his past, is a race against time, with the future of Cydnus at stake.

Zarya Episode II: Sochi Unleashed delves into the intricate relationship between sentient beings and technology, bravery amidst uncertainty, and the struggle for survival. As Zarya, her allies, and Sochi traverse this journey, the tale evolves into a saga filled with challenges and triumphs. Welcome to Cydnus, a world teetering on the brink of an uncertain future, in this captivating narrative.

Available at Amazon.com and Amazon.ca.

(12) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Media Death Cult’s latest from Moid is a very brief (Hondo Cit) look at Japanese SF shot on location in a Japanese garden in Poole (Dorset, England, Brit Cit): “The History Of Japanese Science Fiction”.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Try zooming in — at EasyZoom.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Warning: Spoilers ahead….

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

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

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

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

(10) MEMORY LANE.

2012[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

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

(12) COMICS SECTION.

  • Frazz explains some indiocyncratic English pluralization(s).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pixel Scroll 5/8/23 This Is Not A Test Of The Emergency Pixel System

(1) CLARION WEST’S EVOLVING WORKSHOP CULTURE REPORT. In 2020 Clarion West began a project to update how they run their workshops, especially the Six-Week Summer Workshop.

With project consultant Rachelle Cruz, Clarion West has finalized a report that covers what spurred this project and the conclusions they reached. S.L. Huang touched on the process in their Tor.com article last summer.

You can read the 90-page report on the Evolving Workshop Culture Project (2020-2022) here.

The Clarion West Writers Workshop was founded on the belief that writers from diverse backgrounds need an opportunity to be heard — and to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Clarion West has historically been successful in reaching women writers and LGBTQIA+ writers, and many of our graduates are actively publishing in the field. 

With 744 graduates from the Six-Week Workshop, Clarion West has played a significant role in shaping the careers of speculative fiction writers, and our work continues. As we explore our own efforts to further equity and inclusion, we see an ongoing disparity between the writers we serve and the greater community of published writers in speculative fiction who identify as Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC), People of the Global Majority, LGBTQIA+, or disabled. As such, we are now seeking to do better at following our mission to help new and emerging voices in speculative fiction through an examination of our workshop techniques, workshop and organizational culture, community programs, and internal processes.

As a result of feedback and community forums with our alumni described in the report we’ve linked below, Clarion West has undertaken the process of making lasting structural changes that promote a Six-Week Workshop culture distinctive to Clarion West’s mission of equity, empowerment, and innovation — by providing a safer space for participants to explore concepts of race, class, nationality, disability, neurodivergence, gender, and sexual orientation within and beyond the genre of speculative fiction. We hope to expand the focus of this process to every program presented by Clarion West over the next few years.

Clarion West workshop staff and our project consultant and advisor, Rachelle Cruz, created the Overall Report on Evolving Workshop Culture, which details the changes undertaken from 2020–2022. We are excited to share our process, goals, and findings. While this part of the project is complete, we anticipate continuing to update our workshop methods and expectations for students, staff, and instructors each year.

A few findings:

  • The role of a workshop facilitator serves as an an advocate for our students and a resource to our instructors. All staff should be trained in workshop facilitation in order to help coach instructors and students in our new workshop models.
  • Elements like author statements and author-centered workshop models created excitement and engagement. One participant in testing the Lerman/Huang workshop model said: “I felt excited for a community driven toward building the story toward the author’s intent.”
  • Instructors may bring us new models that inspire us! Fonda Lee introduced a model to the 2022 Six-Week Workshop in Week 3 based on Liz Lerman’s Critical Response Process. It proved so successful we continued using it the rest of the summer. A few key elements of this model include giving authors the opportunity to briefly describe their intentions for their work and the feedback they wish to receive, allowing participants to share what they admired about the work and to ask thought-provoking questions, and creating opportunities for full-group discussion.

(2) GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY CASHING IN. Chris Pratt (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3) squared off against Chris Pratt (The Super Mario Bros. Movie) this past weekend and Chris Pratt won.

The Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 broke the other film’s four-week winning streak at the box office, although The Hollywood Reporter said the domestic opening of $118.4 million is “well behind the last film in the stand-alone Marvel Studios franchise but enough to prove that the new movie is already benefiting from strong audience sentiment.”

And Variety tallied the worldwide receipts:

At the international box office, “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” added $170 million from 52 markets, bringing its global tally to $289 million. In China, which was once a huge territory for Marvel but has been increasingly hostile toward most Hollywood movies, the comic book threequel collected a better-than-expected $28 million to start.

Meanwhile, The Wrap anticipated The Super Mario Bros. Movie will pass a milestone today:

…On Monday, “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” will pass the $1.15 billion total of “Minions” to become the highest grossing animated movie not produced by Disney or Pixar and one of the Top 5 highest grossing animated movies of all time. The No. 4 spot on that list currently belongs to “Incredibles 2” with $1.24 billion grossed in 2018….

(3) EDIFICE WRECKS. Robin Anne Reid shared the Call for Papers for “Tolkien’s Medievalism in Ruins: The Function of Relics and Ruins in Middle-earth”. Full details at the link.

Many notable scholars have probed the motif of ruins in ancient and medieval texts: Alain Schnapp, Alan Lupack, Geoffrey Ashe, and Richard Barber read the poetics of ruins in Latin poetry, the Exeter Book, and Arthuriana. Scholars working outside of the Classical Age and Middle Ages have also examined how this topos persists in literary periods up through the Renaissance, Romanticism, and to today. In short, the structural and symbolic purposes of ruins in literary texts have a long history, and the literary-critical history of engaging these poetics influences our interests in essays grounded in reading relationships between literary history and relics and ruins in Tolkien’s legendarium. It is time for a volume on the topic, and we are pleased to welcome proposals from a variety of theoretical approaches for a proposed edited collection.

Throughout J. R. R. Tolkien’s history of Middle-earth, relics and ruins appear as images that capture the mood, personality, and disposition of the characters. From the ruins of Erebor and the relics of Gondolin that appear in The Hobbit to the various images of Amon Sûl, Moria, Osgiliath, and post-war Isengard in The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien captures each character’s awareness of the glories of the past and their desires to emulate them. The important roles of relics and ruins in the history of Middle-earth create opportunity for a more formal critical discourse on the topic. This proposed collection of essays will seek to deepen the awareness and importance of relics and ruins in Tolkien’s legendarium while simultaneously focusing on how Tolkien’s vision of history functions within and outside of the Middle Ages. In this vein, we are concerned with including essays that address a greater literary history of Tolkien’s work. We are equally concerned with including pieces that explore the representation of relics or ruins not only within The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings but, also, the larger legendarium with The History of Middle-earth series, The Silmarillion, and the texts that Christopher Tolkien edited and published after his father’s death (The Children of HúrinBeren and LúthienThe Fall of GondolinThe Fall of Númenor)…. 

(4) BARD BLOOM (1963-2023). Sff writer Bard Bloom died April 29 at the age of 60 after a three-year struggle with glioblastoma. The family obituary is here.

Bard Bloom passed away at their home in Dobbs Ferry, NY on the morning of April 29, 2023, after a nearly three year struggle with glioblastoma. They were 60 years old.

Bard graduated from Washington University in St. Louis with a degree in mathematics and later earned a PhD in computer science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. They began their career as an academic specializing in programming languages and semantics and as a professor of computer science at Cornell University. Later, they became a software engineer with industry giants including IBM, Google, and Spotify.

Bard was a passionate writer of fantasy and science fiction, including the World Tree RPG (together with their wife Vicki) and several published novels, often featuring dragons, both inside the World Tree universe and in other original settings. Bard was also a prolific amateur potter and a skilled gamemaster who facilitated the co-creation of numerous stories with their friends.

Bard was a beloved friend to many and an advocate for their transgender and disabled peers, helping others find community, access support, and feel deeply heard. They will be remembered for their stunning intelligence, their insightful advice, their wild imagination, their snarky and occasionally surreal sense of humor, and their often unusually-colored hair….

(5) MEMORY LANE.

1983[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

My favorite Tim Powers novel is The Anubis Gates which was published forty years ago by Ace Books. I’ve read it a number of times and enjoyed it immensely each time. It’s got interesting characters, a weird story that’s among the best he’s written, and a setting that you have to read to believe. 

It won the Philip K. Dick Award and SF Chronicle Award, and was nominated for a BSFA as well.  

And now his Beginning…

PROLOGUE: 

FEBRUARY 2, 1802

Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and tho’ We are not now that strength which in old days Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are. . . .”

—Alfred, Lord Tennyson 

FROM BETWEEN TWO trees at the crest of the hill a very old man watched, with a nostalgic longing he thought he’d lost all capacity for, as the last group of picnickers packed up their baskets, mounted their horses, and rode away south—they moved a little hastily, for it was a good six miles back to London, and the red sun was already silhouetting the branches of the trees along the River Brent, two miles to the west. When they’d gone the old man turned around to watch the sun’s slow descent. The Boat of Millions of Years, he thought; the boat of the dying sungod Ra, tacking down the western sky to the source of the dark river that runs through the underworld from west to east, through the twelve hours of the night, at the far eastern end of which the boat will tomorrow reappear, bearing a once again youthful, newly reignited sun. Or, he thought bitterly, removed from us by a distance the universe shouldn’t even be able to encompass, it’s a vast motionless globe of burning gas, around which this little ball of a planet rolls like a pellet of dung propelled by a kephera beetle. Take your pick, he told himself as he started slowly down the hill. . . . But be willing to die for your choice.

He had to walk carefully, for his Japanese clogs were awkward on the uneven dirt and grass. Fires were already lit among the tents and wagons, and a weaving of wild odors whirled up to him on the cool evening breeze: a sharp, earthy reek from the tethered donkeys, wood smoke, and the aroma of roasting hedgehog, a dish his people particularly relished. Faintly, too, he thought he caught a whiff of stale breath from the crate that had arrived that afternoon—a musty fetor, as of perverse spices meant to elicit aversion rather than appetite, almost shockingly incongruous when carried on the clean breezes of Hampstead Heath. As he approached the cluster of tents he was met by a couple of the camp dogs; as always, they backed away from him when they recognized him, and one turned around and loped purposefully to the nearest tent; the other, with evident reluctance, escorted Amenophis Fikee into the camp. Responding to the dog’s summons, a dark man in a striped corduroy coat stepped out of the tent and strode across the grass toward Fikee. Like the dogs, he halted well short of the old man. “Good evening, rya,” he said. “Will you eat some dinner? They’ve got a hotchewitchi on the fire, smells very kushto.”

“As kushto as hotchewitchi ever does smell, I suppose,” Fikee muttered absently. “But no, thank you. You all help yourselves.”

“Not I, rya—my Bessie always loved cooked hotchewitchi; so since she mullered I don’t eat it anymore.” 

Fikee nodded, though he obviously hadn’t been listening. “Very well, Richard.” He paused as though hoping for an interruption, but none came. “When the sun is all the way down, have some of the chals carry that crate down the bank to the tent of Doctor Romany.” 

(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born May 8, 1937 Thomas Pynchon, 87. I’ve not read him so I’m not at all sure which of his novels can be considered genre. Would y’all first enlighten to which are such, and second what I should now read. ISFDB certainly doesn’t help by listing pretty much everything of his as genre including Mason & Dixon which though post-modernist isn’t genre. Or is. 
  • Born May 8, 1940 Peter Benchley. He’s known for writing Jaws and he co-wrote the film script with Carl Gottlieb. His novel Beast is genre and was adapted into a film, as was White Shark, which has absolutely nothing to do with sharks. Another novel, The Island, was also turned into a film and it’s at least genre adjacent. (Died 2006.)
  • Born May 8, 1947 Ron Miller, 76. Illustrator who is quite knowledgeable about the work of astronomical artist Chesley Bonestell – his book The Art of Chesley Bonestell received a Hugo at ConJosé. The Grand Tour he did with William K. Hartmann was nominated at Chicon IV (1982) for Best Related Non-Fiction Book.
  • Born May 8, 1947 Susan Casper. Editor and author, was married to Gardner Dozois. She was co-editor with him of the Ripper! and Jack the Ripper anthologies. Her fiction is first collected in Slow Dancing through Time which includes one collaboration with Dozois and one with Jack M Dann. Rainbow: The Complete Short Fiction of Susan Casper was edited just after her death by her husband. (Died 2017.)
  • Born May 8, 1955 Della Van Hise. A prolific Trek fanwriter who later published an official Trek novel, Killing Time which in its first printing implied a sexual relationship between Spock and Kirk. Later printings didn’t include this passage. It’s available on all the usual digital suspects. (Died 2021.)
  • Born May 8, 1963 Michel Gondry, 60. French director, screenwriter, and producer of such genre as Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (love that film), The Green Hornet, and The Science of Sleep (which I had not heard of but sounds interesting.) 
  • Born May 8, 1967 John Hicklenton. British illustrator also known as John Deadstock. He worked on 2000 AD characters like Judge Dredd (especially the Heavy Metal Dredd series) and Nemesis the Warlock during the Eighties and Nineties. He also dipped into the Warhammer universe with “Cycles of Chaos” (with writer Andy Jones) in Warhammer Monthly No. 9. (Died 2010.)

(7) CURE FOR VIRAL. Ben Smith, editor-in-chief of Semafor, tells New York Times readers “We’re Watching the End of a Digital Media Age. It All Started With Jezebel.”

Ten years ago, a group of digital media companies thought the future belonged to us. New brands like Vice, Gawker, The Huffington Post, Business Insider and BuzzFeed News, which I helped start, had begun as blogs or something similar, outsider voices with audiences who were sick of the stuffy mainstream media. They’d grown steadily on the internet, and when Facebook arrived, they exploded with the social platform. They became expert in telling stories in a way people would like and share, and their links became omnipresent in readers’ newsfeeds. Their voices dominated the influential, sometimes toxic conversations on Twitter.

But they didn’t turn out to be the future. Gawker shut down in 2016, briefly revived and shut down again this February. Last month BuzzFeed News closed up shop. The other iconic brand of the era, Vice, is reportedly near bankruptcy and has laid off many journalists in recent weeks. On television, still America’s dominant medium, social media also helped boost a new kind of confrontational, hyperpolitical style, but that seems to be fading, too. Also last month the corporate owners of cable networks pushed out two of the defining voices of the confrontational Trump years, Tucker Carlson and Don Lemon.

Media commentators from CNN to The Financial Times are using the same phrase for this moment: “The end of an era.”

But when did this era in media begin? Where in the media did this remarkable new openness and uncontrollable anger start?

Smith goes on to explain why he thinks it started with Jezebel, a blog started in 2007, which thrived under the editorship of Anna Holmes.

(8) HELL IS HERE. Destination, Part 2 in Marc Watson’s Catching Hell duology, has been released and relaunched by Fluky Fiction.

A critical blow has been dealt to the robotic Army of the Old, but at a great price. Broken and weary, best friends Johan and Aryu have been separated while chasing forces from the distant past that they both fear.

Aryu, the man with wings, pursues the enemy while he slowly slips into the enticing magic and mystery of the Power, led by the great phoenix Nixon Ash.

Johan stands on the steps of Bankoor, a futuristic city full of wonder and mistrust. Here he must make his stand to avenge his destroyed home and find his friend.

As the gap between the brave warriors closes, the worlds of technology and magic will clash!

The book is available in paperback and ebook formats:

Marc Watson, an author of genre fiction of all lengths and styles, lives in Calgary, Alberta. He began writing at the age of 15 and continues to be a part-time writing student at Athabasca University. He has been published on flash fiction site 101words (find his stories here). Watson is a husband and proud father of two. He is an avid outdoorsman, martial artist, baseball player, and lover of all Mexican foods.

(9) POLYMATH. The immersive Leonard da Vinci experience, Leonardo: The Universal Man, is currently available in Phoenix. Buy tickets at the link.

Leonardo: The Universal Man will transport you into the Genius Mind of the original “Renaissance Man” using state of the art immersive design, light, sound, and projection technology. Experience a floor to ceiling spectacle as you embark on a visual and musical journey of da Vinci’s life including world-renowned masterpieces “The Mona Lisa” and “The Last Supper”. This fantastical journey into the many phases of Leonardo’s expansive contribution to history, art, and technology has been reimagined alongside exciting visual animations and custom soundtrack – to bring a man from the 1400s into the wondrous future of today.

(10) FOMALHAUT IS READY FOR ITS CLOSE-UP. “Webb Telescope Finds a Star Cloaked in 3 Rings of Ruined Worlds” reports the New York Times, where you can see several photos.

Fomalhaut, a star just 25 light-years away, is so dazzlingly bright that it blots out the faint light of other stars around it. Stargazers have been enraptured by its secrets for thousands of years.

Now, with the help of the James Webb Space Telescope, astronomers have documented evidence that Fomalhaut is a dynamic star wreathed in cosmic chaos. The powerful observatory’s infrared vision is letting astronomers better understand Fomalhaut’s features, including a mysterious ring unlike anything found in our solar system.

“It’s complex — there’s so much going on!” said Andras Gaspar, an astronomer at the University of Arizona and one of the authors of a study using the Webb observations that was published Monday in Nature Astronomy. “It’s the first time we’ve seen such structures in an evolved system.”…

See the NASA press release here: “Webb Looks for Fomalhaut’s Asteroid Belt and Finds Much More”.

(11) VIDEO OF THE DAY. A new trailer has dropped for Oppenheimer. Opens in theaters July 21.

Written and directed by Christopher Nolan, Oppenheimer is an IMAX®-shot epic thriller that thrusts audiences into the pulse-pounding paradox of the enigmatic man who must risk destroying the world in order to save it.

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

Pixel Scroll 4/20/23 But You Gotta Make Your Own Kind Of Pixel, Scroll Your Own Special Scroll

(1) PRO TIPS. With in-person cons resuming throughout fandom, Cass Morris has advice for “Giving Good Panel” in her latest newsletter.

Practice (and tailor) your introduction

Introducing yourself at the start of the panel isn’t the time to go into your full CV or publication history. It’s not even the time to recite your full 100 word bio that’s printed in the program.

A good formula? “Hi, I’m [name], I’m the author of [most recent publication or series] and [something else relevant to your writing career]. I’m also [whatever your day job is, or if you don’t have one, mention a hobby].”

Then, if there’s anything particularly relevant to the panel I’m on, I’ll mention that. I tend not to go into my background as a Shakespeare scholar, for instance, because that’s usually not directly relevant — but at RavenCon last April, it was! I was on a panel called “Elements of the Fantastic in Shakespeare,” so it was good to establish my credibility to speak on that particular topic.

Keep the intro to your book or series brief — an apposition, just a short phrase. “I’m the author of the Aven Cycle, historical fantasy set in an alternate ancient Rome” or even just “I’m the author of epic fantasy series the Aven Cycle.”…

(2) X CORP. No, not X-corps (a Heinlein reference). X Corp is the successor to Twitter, Inc. — which “no longer exists.” Slate reports “Twitter Isn’t A Company Anymore”.

In a court filing on Tuesday, April 4, Twitter Inc. quietly revealed a major development: It no longer exists. The company is currently being sued by right-wing provocateur Laura Loomer, who accused it of violating federal racketeering laws when it banned her account in 2019. Loomer has a Twitter account again, and her absurd lawsuit is bound to fail—but until it does, Twitter, as a defendant, must continue to submit corporate disclosure statements to the court. And so, in its most recent filing, the company provided notice that “Twitter, Inc. has been merged into X Corp. and no longer exists.” As the “successor in interest” to Twitter Inc.—that is, the survivor of the merger—X Corp. is now the defendant in Loomer’s suit. Its parent corporation is identified as X Holdings Corp.

(3) BATTLEGROUND LIBRARY. “When the Culture Wars Come for the Public Library” in The New Yorker.

…On a spring day in 2019, Ellie Newell, the youth-services librarian at the main branch, in a historic post office in downtown Kalispell, hosted a special story time for a visiting class of preschoolers. Newell was raised by librarians and had taken the job straight out of graduate school, drawn to Flathead’s reputation for “doing cutting-edge library stuff.” Several years earlier, the library had rebranded to adopt a new name and logo, as well as an updated, possibly foolhardy mission. The Flathead County Library System became the ImagineIF Libraries and set out to use technology and interactive programs to bring together far-flung residents of the county. This new approach earned ImagineIF a John Cotton Dana Award (the equivalent of a library Oscar) and the title of State Library of the Year.

Like most children’s librarians, Newell did a lot of story times and kept a stack of read-aloud books on her desk. She considered it important to mix things up: some books with animals, some with people; some classics, some new releases. At the top of Newell’s pile that day was “Prince & Knight,” a fairy-tale picture book published in 2018. The story features a charismatic dragon, but no lady who wins a warrior’s heart. The romance instead unfolds between the titular prince (a man) and knight (also a man). Newell thought the book was sweet: a bit edgy in its gayness, but still chaste and traditional, culminating in marriage. Her calendar didn’t show any special book requests or even the name of the visiting school, so she grabbed “Prince & Knight” off her desk and went out to read it. She opened her eyes wide behind her glasses and swivelled to connect with every member of her audience. The children giggled and clapped. But, at the end of the reading, their teacher looked upset.

The class had come from a Catholic school, and, a few days later, the teacher wrote to the Daily Inter Lake, a local newspaper, saying how “shocked and grieved” she was by the presentation of a book about “homosexual marriage.” She argued that “such a controversial topic” should not be introduced to “innocent children.”…

…During the pandemic, Flathead became the fastest-growing county in the state, thanks in part to new migration. The arrivals were split between lovers of the outdoors (of various political persuasions) and people in search of a Trumpian refuge from urban ills. The responses to the “Prince & Knight” reading tracked with the county’s divergent politics. Was the story time a sign of open-mindedness or proof that the library was promoting “all these alternative lifestyles,” as one Kalispell man wrote to the Inter Lake? The Catholic schoolteacher filed a formal challenge to “Prince & Knight,” seeking its removal from ImagineIF’s collection. The library director, Connie Behe, recommended that the book be retained because the work as a whole conformed to ImagineIF standards. The final decision was up to the library’s five-member board of trustees….

(4) THEY’VE COME FOR WODEHOUSE! [Item by Dann.] Word minders have come to claim another author.  P.G. Wodehouse. “Penguin Removes ‘Unacceptable’ Words from P. G. Wodehouse Novels, Adds Trigger Warnings for ‘Outdated’ Language” reports National Review. Penguin Random House has edited the works of P.G. Wodehouse to remove “unacceptable” prose. Right Ho, Jeeves and Thank You, Jeeves have both been adjusted.

…The warning on the opening pages of the 2023 reissue of Thank You, Jeeves reads: “Please be aware that this book was published in the 1930s and contains language, themes and characterisations which you may find outdated. In the present edition we have sought to edit, minimally, words that we regard as unacceptable to present-day readers.”

The NR article goes on to state that the changes do not affect the story itself. The 2022 edition of Right Ho, Jeeves has also been edited and features the same disclaimer.

Wodehouse, who died in 1975, is known for authoring over 90 books, his oeuvre often hailed as the funniest in the English language. The Jeeves stories follow the idle upper-class gentleman Bertie Wooster and his resourceful valet Reginald Jeeves. The stories served as the basis for the well-known British comedy Jeeves and Wooster, which starred Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie. The show was broadcast on ITV in the 1990s.

Racial terminology has been removed throughout the novels. A racial term used to describe a “minstrel of the old school” has been removed in Right Ho, Jeeves. In Thank You, Jeeves, whose plot hinges on the performance of a minstrel troupe, numerous terms have been removed or altered, both in the dialogue between characters and from the first-person narration of Bertie Wooster.

Economics author and Washington Post columnist Megan McArdle has declared that she is abandoning the purchase of classics on Kindle as a result.

Another National Review article has declared such efforts to be the work of a “cabal of history vandals” that bear a strong resemblance to the clueless elites that populate Wodehouse’s works. “The Literature Vandals Don’t Know When to Stop”.

It is an impossible coincidence that the people endorsing retroactive edits to the works of P. G. Wodehouse are the very types of thickheaded dilettantes Wodehouse spent most of his 90 years lampooning.

Other, one presumes more faithful, electronic editions are available via Project Gutenberg and Archive,org.

(5) LANSDALE’S TIPS. The Horror Writers Association blog brings us “Nuts and Bolts: Writing Tips From Master of Horror Joe R. Lansdale”.

On writing action sequences and fight scenes:

“I’m not proud of it,” Joe R. Lansdale said in a recent phone interview, “but I’ve been in a lot of fights. You start to learn what’s real and what isn’t.”

He draws on his background as a martial artist, bouncer, and bodyguard from a rough part of East Texas when writing his fight scenes. Most real fights are over fast, he said, and it’s possible to reflect that in your writing while still giving them impact.

“I always think less is more,” he said. “To make it seem like you’ve given a lot of description, but you haven’t. You’ve chosen the right words. You have to write like a cinematographer. I’ve always found that the greatest thing outside experience is stopping and thinking about it from an observational standpoint. The more you do it, the more you’re able to envision that action sequence.”

For action sequences, he recommends short sentences and paragraphs. Another way of injecting a sense of immediacy is to give it a stream-of-consciousness structure, as in: “I spin and dodge his fist, then hit him with …” 

“Some people will say that’s a run-on sentence,” he said. “It isn’t, if it’s done right.”

(6) OF INTEREST TO TOLKIEN AND SFF SCHOLARS. Robin A. Reid has assembled a list of hybrid and virtual conferences of interest to those working in Tolkien studies. The first edition is available at “The Online Conference Project”.

After seeing outstanding presentations at the 2021-22 Virtual PCA conferences by a significant number of Tolkien scholars who had never been able to attend the f2f PCA in the past, and who will not be able to attend future f2f PCA conferences because of the various barriers, I started the Online Conference Project.

My goal is to collect and share information about conferences that are either hybrid (meaning allowing for both virtual and in-person presentations and attendance) or virtual (meaning completely online), especially those of interest to those of us working in Tolkien studies and fantasy/speculative fiction studies generally

… In the list below, I provide basic information: conference name/theme, organization or institution organizing it; proposal submission deadline; delivery mode (hybrid, meaning an online track added to a f2f conference; or virtual, meaning entirely online); registration fee (if available); dates of conference…

(7) SUMMER IN NYC WILL FEATURE BUTLER THEMED OPERA. “Lincoln Center Revives Summer for the City, Hoping to Draw New Fans” – the New York Times says an Octavia Butler-inspired opera will be one of the offerings.  

Lincoln Center will bring back its Summer for the City festival this year, the organization announced on Monday, continuing its efforts to attract new audiences by embracing a wide variety of genres, including pop and classical music, social dance and comedy.

An opera based on Octavia E. Butler’s novel “Parable of the Sower,” by the folk and blues musician Toshi Reagon and the composer Bernice Johnson Reagon, will get its New York City premiere at Geffen Hall on July 14.

John Mansfield in 2015. Photo taken by and (c) Andrew Porter.

(8) PAST WORLDCON CHAIR DIES. John Mansfield, chair of the 1994 Worldcon in Winnipeg, died April 19. He was to be fan guest of honor at this year’s NASFiC, Pemmi-Con, also in Winnipeg.

Mansfield co-founded the Ontario Science Fiction Club (OSFiC) in 1966 with other Toronto locals he’d met at that year’s Worldcon, Peter Gill, Mike Glicksohn, Ken Smookler, and Maureen Bournes. Mansfield had decided to attend the Worldcon after reading a series of articles about fandom in If written by Lin Carter.

Mansfield also had a connection to early Star Trek fandom, contributing an article to the 1968 Comerford/Langsam fanzine Spockananalia 2, “Communication From Starfleet Intelligence”, about Klingon military techniques for interrogating Vulcans:

… Since the prisoner will show no emotion, it will be very hard to determine his mental state as he tries to adapt to captivity. They are a proud race, and consider many of the other Galactic races below them. We have found that if one breaks, he will break completely, and all the past frustrations and emotions will pour out. Experienced interrogators describe this as a rather long and sometimes boring experience….

Mansfield served in the Canadian Armed Forces for 25 years, retiring in 1990. While stationed in New Brunswick, he chaired OromoctoCon in 1970, with attendance of about 30, including some fans who drove up from Boston.

He and his wife, Linda Ross-Mansfield, ran the Pendragon Games specialty store at various locations in Winnipeg over the decades. His influence in gaming fandom is reflected in the fact that the Origins Awards, presented at the Origins Game Fair, are referred to as his “brainchild” in the official history.

He helped develop Winnipeg’s regional Keycon. Beginning in 1989 he published Con­TRACT, a zine for Canadian conrunners, continuing until 2002. In the last issue he delivered this snapshot of his life at the time:

Here in Winnipeg, I get to do lots. …I’m part of a Media con and a Horror con, with more possibilities to come. I have the chance to promote some 20 movies a year. I am responsible for promoting various game companies via tournaments from Thunder Bay to Alberta. I’m still running the second largest Game store in Canada, that continues to grow in sales ever since our start in 1982. I know that I am only held back by my imagination and the time I wish to commit to my world.

When he led the 1994 Worldcon (ConAdian) committee, knowing that attendance would be sparse in comparison to Worldcons held in cities many times larger than Winnipeg, he showed a degree of commercial ingenuity that may be common among trade shows but had never been equaled by any previous Worldcon. He courted dozens sponsors and advertisers to gain new sources of revenue at the same time he unsentimentally cut expenses. At opening ceremonies the Mayor of Winnipeg said ConAdian would be the largest conference gathering in Winnipeg this year — the audience buzzed with interest when they heard that.

By then, I was already chair of the forthcoming 1996 Worldcon (L.A.con III), and I was deeply appreciative for all the times John sat with me to share his knowledge and experience.

He would have liked to bring the Worldcon back to Winnipeg for 2003, and started a bid, but the Toronto bid for that year became the unified Canadian entry, winning over a bid for Cancun.  

He co-chaired the 2005 Westercon in Calgary. In 2012 he helped start the short-lived A.E. Van Vogt Award for Canadian science fiction on behalf of the Winnipeg Science Fiction Association (WINSFA), Conadian, and Science Fiction Winnipeg (SFW).

He is survived by his wife, Linda Ross-Mansfield, NASFiC co-chair.

(9) MEMORY LANE.

2016[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

The entire Terra Ignota series was nominated at Chicon 9 for a Hugo Award for Best Series. It was also nominated for an Otherwise Award,

The first work was Too Like The Lightning was published by Tor Books seven years ago. It was rapidly joined by the rest of the quartet, Seven Surrenders (2017), The Will to Battle, (2017) and finally Perhaps the Stars (2021). 

I think it’s a brilliant if somewhat flawed series and that is all I’ll say here.

Now shall we read the Beginning of Too Like The Lightning? Of course we will…

A Prayer to the Reader

You will criticize me, reader, for writing in a style six hundred years removed from the events I describe, but you came to me for explanation of those days of transformation which left your world the world it is, and since it was the philosophy of the Eighteenth Century, heavy with optimism and ambition, whose abrupt revival birthed the recent revolution, so it is only in the language of the Enlightenment, rich with opinion and sentiment, that those days can be described. You must forgive me my ‘thee’s and ‘thou’s and ‘he’s and ‘she’s, my lack of modern words and modern objectivity. It will be hard at first, but whether you are my contemporary still awed by the new order, or an historian gazing back at my Twenty-Fifth Century as remotely as I gaze back on the Eighteenth, you will find yourself more fluent in the language of the past than you imagined; we all are. 

I wondered once why authors of ancient days so often prostrate themselves before their audience, apologize, beg favors, pray to the reader as to an Emperor as they explain their faults and failings; yet, with my work barely begun, I find myself already in need of such obsequies. If I am properly to follow the style I have chosen, I must, at the book’s outset, describe myself, my background and qualifications, and tell you by what chance or Providence it is that the answers you seek are in my hands. I beg you, gentle reader, master, tyrant, grant me the privilege of silence on this count. Those of you who know the name of Mycroft Canner may now set this book aside. Those who do not, I beg you, let me make you trust me for a few dozen pages, since the tale will give you time enough to hate me in its own right.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born April 20, 1908 Donald Wandrei. Writer who had sixteen stories in Astounding Stories and fourteen stories in Weird Tales, plus a smattering elsewhere, all in the Twenties and Thirties. The Web of Easter Island is his only novel. He was the co-founder with August Derleth of Arkham House. He has World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement, and he’s a member of First Fandom Hall of Fame. Only his “Raiders of The Universe“ short story and his story in  Famous Fantastic Mysteries (October 1939 issue) are available at the usual digital suspects. (Died 1987.)
  • Born April 20, 1937 George Takei, 86. Hikaru Sulu on the original Trek. And yes, I know that Vonda McIntyre wouldn’t coin the first name until a decade later in her Entropy Effect novel.  Post-Trek, he would write Mirror Friend, Mirror Foe with Robert Asprin. By the way, his first genre roles were actually dubbing the English voices of Professor Kashiwagi of Rodan! The Flying Monster and the same of the Commander of Landing Craft of Godzilla Raids Again
  • Born April 20, 1939 Peter S. Beagle, 84. I’ve known him for about twenty years now, met him but once in that time. He’s quite charming. (I had dinner with him here once some years back.)  My favorite works? TamsinSummerlong and In Calabria. He won the Novelette Hugo at L.A. Con IV for “Two Hearts”. And he has a World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement.
  • Born April 20, 1943 Ian Watson, 80. He’s won the BSFA Award twice, first for his novel, The Jonah Kit, and for his short story, “The Beloved Time of Their Lives“. He also got a BSFA nomination for the charmingly titled “The World Science Fiction Convention of 2080”.  He has written in Warhammer 40,000 universe including The Inquisition War trilogy.
  • Born April 20, 1949 John Ostrander, 74. Writer of comic books, including GrimjackSuicide Squad and Star Wars: Legacy. Well those are the titles he most frequently gets noted for but I’ll add in the Spectre, Martian Manhunter and the late Eighties Manhunter as well. 
  • Born April 20, 1959 Clint Howard, 64. So the most interesting connection that he has to the genre is playing Balok, the strange childlike alien, in Star Trek’s “The Corbomite Maneuver” which I remember clearly decades after last seeing it. He’s also John Dexter in Cocoon, and Mark in The Rocketeer as well as Jason Ritter in the Austin Powers franchise. He’s got a minor role in Solo: A Star Wars Story as a character named Ralakili.
  • Born April 20, 1964 Sean A. Moore. He wrote three Conan pastiches, Conan the HunterConan and the Grim Grey God and Conan and the Shaman’s Curse. He also wrote the screenplay for Kull the Conqueror, and the novelization of it. All were published by Tor. He was active in Colorado fandom. He died in car crash in Boulder. (Died 1998.)

(11) JEOPARDY! Neal Stephenson figured in the climactic round of tonight’s Jeopardy! episode. Andrew Porter was watching.

Final Jeopardy: Modern Words

Answer: Neal Stephenson coined this word in his 1992 novel “Snow Crash”; it was later shortened by a company to become its new name

All three contestants got it wrong, with “What is powder?” “What is uber?” and “What is avalanche?”

Correct question: “What is Metaverse?”

(12) OLD TECH HAS NEW FANS. “‘Such a fun way to consume music’: why sales of the ‘obsolete’ cassette are soaring” in the Guardian. “With more cassette tapes being bought than since 2003, readers tell why they prefer them to modern music players.”

“Buying a cassette direct from an independent artist on platforms such as Bandcamp is such a fun way to consume music. Often produced in very small runs, it is nice to receive something though the post that is relatively scarce. In these days of Spotify funnelling payments only to the superstars, it feels good to support small artists and labels. I love vinyl, too, but the magic of a cassette is that you have no way to skip tracks; you press ‘play’ and listen from start to finish with only the satisfying thud of one side ending to interrupt the experience. The noisy, tactile controls of a cassette player are the perfect tonic to the ways most of us consume media throughout the day, making it more of a special event and something to look forward to.” Dan White, 40, Norwich

(13) RECORD STORE RESOURCE. April 22 is “Record Store Day”. This link will take you to any store participating, anywhere, plus lots of other information.

This is a day for the people who make up the world of the record store—the staff, the customers, and the artists—to come together and celebrate the unique culture of a record store and the special role they play in their communities. Special vinyl and CD releases and various promotional products are made exclusively for the day. Festivities include performances, cook-outs, body painting, meet & greets with artists, parades, DJs spinning records, and on and on. In 2008 a small list of titles was released on Record Store Day and that list has grown to include artists and labels both large and small, in every genre and price point. 

(14) FAILURE OR SUCCESS? “Unmanned Starship explodes over gulf after liftoff” reports MSN.com.

SpaceX’s Starship lifted off the pad in Southern Texas and cleared the launchpad, its first milestone, but then began tumbling as it was preparing for stage separation and the vehicle came apart some four minutes into flight.

… SpaceX’s Kate Tice said it was unclear what caused the rocket to come apart. She said that “teams will continue to review the data and work toward our next flight test.”

Still, since it was a test, SpaceX hailed the flight as a success because it would provide the company new information about how the vehicle performs in real life that will help them on future flights. And it did not damage the launchpad, a risk SpaceX CEO Elon Musk had said was his greatest worry….

(15) CRASH COURSE. [SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] This week’s Nature cover story “DART’s data verify its smashing success at deflecting asteroid moon Dimorphos” looks at four NASA DART papers…

Although currently there is no known threat to Earth from asteroids, strategies to protect the planet from a collision are being explored. On 26 September 2022, NASA and the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory successfully tested one such approach: the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) spacecraft was deliberately crashed into Dimorphos, a moon orbiting the small asteroid Didymos, resulting in a change in the moon’s orbit. In this week’s issue, five papers explore the test and the effects of the collision. “Successful kinetic impact into an asteroid” reconstructs the impact; a second looks at the change to Dimorphos’s orbit caused by the impact. A third paper reports observations from the Hubble Space Telescope of the material ejected during the collision. A fourth paper uses modelling to characterize the transfer of momentum that resulted from the impact. And the final paper reports on citizen science observations before, during and after the collision.

[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Lloyd & Yvonne Penney, Moshe Feder, Danny Sichel, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Rich Lynch, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, and Chris Barkley for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]