Pixel Scroll 5/7/22 Your Scroll, A Flame Of Pixel’s Desire

(1) BASFF 2022. Rebecca Roanhorse is the guest editor of Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2022.

(2) PRO TIP. What’s the best writing advice J. Michael Straczynski’s ever been given?

(3) COMPLAINT: JUSTIFIED OR UNJUSTIFIED? [Item by Anne Marble.] This review of the new alternative history novel The Peacekeeper: A Novel by B.L. Blanchard might make an interesting discussion. There’s also a three-star review showing the same confusion. (This is one of the First Reads book for this month on Amazon, so the potential reviewers probably come outside of SFF, but still… Why can’t people just Google?)

(4) VIDEO GAME NEWS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times behind a paywall, Tom Faber reviews Norco, a point-and-click adventure game with magical realist elements based on the personal experiences of lead developer Yuts, who grew up in Norco, Louisiana near “a Shell oil refinery that exploded during his childhood in 1988, damaging his house.”

Norco‘s writing nods to Southern Gothic authors such as William Faulkner and Cormac McCarthy alongside genre writers Raymond Chandler and William Gibson. Looking at a vehicle in your garden, you are told:  “This truck was your grandfather’s.  You remember hiding in his lap while he let you steer. The dead wasps that collected behind the seat. The smell of grease, whiskey and nicotine.’ This terse, stylish language is studded with sharply observed local vernacular and occasional bouts of impressionistic poetry whose adventurous metaphors only rarely stray into purple prose….

..If it all sounds sombre, the game leavens its storytelling with plenty of wackiness and wry humour.  There is a detective who wears clown make-up as a fashion choice.  A cat on a bookshop counter will, if stroked repeatedly, purr so ecstatically that it flies through the air, crashing through the ceiling.

(5) LIFEWRITING. [Item by Todd Mason.] Tananarive Due and Steve Barnes’s latest podcast features guest Patton Oswalt. All three are horror genre folks, among other things, including being screenwriters, and Harlan Ellison friends or acquaintances. “Lifewriting: Write for Your Life! Special Guest: Patton Oswalt!”

In this episode, Steve and Tananarive talk to comedian and actor Patton Oswalt about how horror helps us navigate difficult times, the horror-comedy connection, the late Harlan Ellison, and meditation as a tool for coping with stress.  

(6) GEORGE PERÉZ (1954-2022) George Pérez, the acclaimed comic book artist and writer known for his work on major DC properties, including Crisis on Infinite Earths and Wonder Woman, along with Marvel’s The Avengers, has died. The Hollywood Reporter noted his passing with a long tribute. He was 67.

Someone in touch with the family posted this emotional description about his last hours.  

To all of George’s fans and friends,

Constance here, with the update no one wants to read. George passed away yesterday, peacefully at home with his wife of 490 months and family by his side. He was not in pain and knew he was very, very loved.

We are all very much grieving but, at the same time, we are so incredibly grateful for the joy he brought to our lives. To know George was to love him; and he loved back. Fiercely and with his whole heart. The world is a lot less vibrant today without him in it.

He loved all of you. He loved hearing your posts and seeing the drawings you sent and the tributes you made. He was deeply proud to have brought so much joy to so many.

Everyone knows George’s legacy as a creator. His art, characters and stories will be revered for years to come. But, as towering as that legacy is, it pales in comparison to the legacy of the man George was. George’s true legacy is his kindness. It’s the love he had for bringing others joy – and I hope you all carry that with you always.

Today is Free Comic Book Day. A day George absolutely loved and a fitting day to remember his contributions to comics and to our lives. I hope you’ll enjoy your day today with him in mind. He would have loved that.

Please keep his wife Carol in your thoughts and again, I thank you for respecting her privacy. I remain available through the contact on the page.

George’s memorial service will take place at MEGACON Orlando at 6pm on Sunday, May 22nd. It will be open to all. Details to follow.

We will miss him always.

(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1997 [By Cat Eldridge.] Twenty-five years ago, The Fifth Element got its first theatrical exhibition at the Cannes Film Festival, an English-language French film directed by Luc Besson and co-written by Besson and Robert Mark Kamen from a story by Besson. 

Artists Jean “Moebius” Giraud and Jean-Claude Mézières, whose books Besson acknowledges are his inspiration for a great deal of the film, were hired for production design. The fabulous if admittedly over-the-top costume design was by Jean-Paul Gaultier who is not in the film. (I checked.) The filming took place in London and Mauritania when nothing in France was available. 

It is very much an adolescent fantasy, or fiction if you prefer, as he wrote it at sixteen though he was thirty-eight when it was actually produced. I love the cast which includes among many Bruce Willis, John Neville, Milla Jovovich, Gary Oldman, Ian Holm and, in a role for the ages, Maïwenn Le Besco. Look I love this film — the casting is great, the story works and I love the universe here. I’ve watched it least a half dozen times so far. 

The budget was close to ninety million but it made back over two hundred and sixty million. Quite impressive indeed.

So what did the critics think at the time? Let’s as usual start with Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Tribune: “’The Fifth Element,’’ which opened the Cannes Film Festival on Thursday, is one of the great goofy movies–a film so preposterous I wasn’t surprised to discover it was written by a teenage boy. That boy grew up to become Luc Besson, director of good smaller movies and bizarre big ones, and here he’s spent $90 million to create sights so remarkable they really ought to be seen.”

And let us finish with Marc Salov of the Austin Chronicle who obviously didn’t know how old Besson was he wrote the script: “The Fifth Element never takes itself too seriously. Oldman is hilarious as the effete, over-the-top Zorg; Willis plays essentially the same character he’s played in his last five films — ever the scruffy rebel; and Jovavich is gorgeous, charming, and thoroughly believable as Leeloo (thanks to some terrific post-English language skills). Even U.K. trip-hop sensation Tricky scores points as Zorg’s right-hand toadie. Although the film tends to suffer from a severe case of overt preachiness in the third reel (shades of James Cameron’s The Abyss), it’s still a wonderfully visual, exciting ride. Besson remains one of France’s great national treasures, and The Fifth Element is a surprising, delightful melange of old-school dare-deviltry and new-age sci-fi.” 

It has a very impressive eighty-six percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. It was nominated for a Hugo at BucConeer, the year Contact won. It is streaming on Amazon Prime and Paramount +.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born May 7, 1922 Darren McGavin. Oh, I loved him being Carl Kolchak on the original Kolchak: The Night Stalker — How many times have I seen it? I’ve lost count. Yes, it was corny, yes, the monsters were low-rent, but it was damn fun. And no, I did not watch a minute of the reboot. By the way, I’m reasonably sure that his first genre role was in the Tales of Tomorrow series as Bruce Calvin in “The Duplicates“ episode which you can watch here. (Died 2006.)
  • Born May 7, 1923 Anne Baxter. The Batman series had a way of attracting the most interesting performers and she was no exception as she ended playing two roles there, first Zelda, then she had the extended recurring role of Olga, Queen of the Cossacks. Other genre roles were limited I think to an appearance as Irene Adler in the Peter Cushing Sherlock Holmes film The Masks of Death. (Died 1985.)
  • Born May 7, 1931 Gene Wolfe. He’s best known for his Book of the New Sun series. My list of recommended novels would include Pirate FreedomThe Sorcerer’s House and the Book of the New Sun series. He’s won the BFA, Nebula, Skylark, BSFA and World Fantasy Awards but to my surprise has never won a Hugo though he has been nominated quite a few times. He has been honored as a Grand Master by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. (Died 2019.)
  • Born May 7, 1940 Angela Carter. Another one taken far too young by the damn Reaper. She’s best remembered for The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories where she took fairy tales and made them very, very adult in tone. Personally I’d recommend The Curious Room insteadas it contains her original screenplays for the BSFA-winning The Company of Wolves which starred Angela Lansbury, and The Magic Toyshop films, both of which were based on her own original stories. Though not even genre adjacent, her Wise Children is a brilliant and quite unsettling look at the theatre world. I’ve done several essays on her so far and no doubt will do more. (Died 1992.)
  • Born May 7, 1951 Gary Westfahl, 71. SF reviewer for the LA Times, the unfortunately defunct as I enjoyed it quite a bit Internet Review of Science Fiction, and Locus Online. Editor of The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy: Themes, Works, and Wonders; author of  Immortal Engines: Life Extension and Immortality in Science Fiction and Fantasy (with George Slusser) and A Sense-of-Wonderful Century: Explorations of Science Fiction and Fantasy Films. 
  • Born May 7, 1952 John Fleck, 70. One of those performers the Trek casting staff really like as he’s appeared in Next GenerationDeep Space Nine in three different roles,  Voyager and finally on Enterprise in the recurring role of Silik. And like so many Trek alumni, he shows up on The Orville.
  • Born May 7, 1969 Annalee Newitz, 53. They are the winner of a Hugo Award for Best Fancast at Dublin 2019 with Charlie Jane Anders for “Our Opinions Are Correct”. And their novel Autonomous was a finalist for the Nebula Award for Best Novel, John W. Campbell Memorial Award and the Locus Award for Best First Novel, while winning a Lambda Literary Award. Very impressive indeed. They are also the winner of the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award for their best short science fiction, “When Robot and Crow Saved East St. Louis”. They are nominated again this year at Chicon 8 for a Best Fancast Hugo for their “Our Opinions Are Correct” podcast. 

(9) STRANGE HAPPENINGS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Washington Post, David Betancourt interviews Benedict Cumberbatch and Elisabeth Olsen about Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, with Cumberbatch explaining that he thinks Stephen Strange is part of an ensemble and not necessarily the star. “Benedict Cumberbatch on Doctor Strange sequel: ‘It’s not all about him’”.

… Cumberbatch still gets opportunities to flex his own superhero muscles in the new film by playing multiple alternate universe versions of Doctor Strange. These include heroic, seemingly evil and zombielike versions of the superhero, who was created by the late Steve Ditko and Stan Lee and first appeared in Marvel Comics “Strange Tales” No. 110 back in 1963. Cumberbatch first dabbled with a Doctor Strange from a different world when he voiced the character in the animated series “What If…?” last year.

Ego seems to be the common denominator among the variants — he never works well with others. But Cumberbatch says Strange has to learn to rely on someone other than himself.

“These parallel existences have a similarity about them but there’s also key differences,” Cumberbatch said. “It was a challenge … to create something that’s different but at the same time recognizably Strange. There’s an element of him that’s constant. But he’s still really injured by his ego and his arrogance and his belief that he has to be the one holding the knife. This film really undoes that logic and stress-tests him in a way that means his evolution is such that he can’t operate as a solo entity. He has to collaborate.”…

(10) THESE BOOTS ARE MADE FOR HAWKING. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] The Starfleet boots seen on the new series will be made available to the public and will retail for about $500 Cdn. “Vancouver designer’s boots on deck as official shoes of the Enterprise in new Star Trek series” reports CBC News. And there’s no stitching in them because in space no one can see a sewing machine!

Vancouver’s John Fluevog is joining the USS Enterprise this spring as Starfleet’s official bootmaker.

Fluevog, whose shoes have been worn by the likes of Madonna, Beyoncé, Lady Gaga and even B.C.’s Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, designed footwear for the cast of the new series Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, which premieres May 5. 

He said he feels a sense of connection to Star Trek in that both his shoes and the series offer a sense of escapism….

(11) CASTING COINCIDENCE. “West Side Story Actor Brings His Talents To He-Man” on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

(12) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Boston Dynamics’s Spot is a hard-working robot but he still likes showing off his latest dance moves! “No Time to Dance”.

[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Rob Thornton, Lisa Garrity, Anne Marble, Todd Mason, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Thomas the Red.]

Pixel Scroll 5/6/22 I Pixelled Today’s Scrolldle In Fifth Guesses

(1) KSR AT EARTH DAY GATHERING IN DHARAMSALA. Kim Stanley Robinson was among those present for the 14th Dalai Lama’s “Meeting with Participants in a Dialogue for Our Future”. This was posted on April 22:

…Kim Stanley Robinson, who described himself as a science fiction writer, asked how Buddhism can help science. His Holiness told him that scientists have been interested to discuss ways to achieve peace of mind because they recognise that if the mind is disturbed people won’t be happy. He emphasised the benefits of discovering more about mental consciousness and learning to train it on the basis of reasoning…

(2) VERTLIEB MEDICAL UPDATE. Steve Vertlieb returned to Facebook as he begins his long recovery from major heart surgery.

… My time on Facebook will, for the present, be limited, I fear, in the days ahead, but I just wanted to let everyone know that I’ve survived. I came home from the hospital yesterday (Thursday) after a ten day stay following major open-heart surgery. The procedure lasted approximately six hours, during which my surgeons replaced one heart valve, repaired another, stitched back together the hole in my heart, and stopped my internal bleeding.

This procedure was far more involved and life threatening than I ever imagined or was advised. The second time, it seems, is not the charm, but the entire bracelet. They had to cut through an already existing incision, breaking once healed bones protecting my heart cavity yet again, in order to reach and operate upon the newly troubled areas. My recovery, consequently, will also be far more difficult than my original transition back to health, healing, and wholeness twelve years ago.

The good news, however, is that when I asked my surgeon the chances for a complete recovery, he responded “ONE HUNDRED PERCENT.” Doing anything beyond menial movement and chores over the next several months will be severely limited. My brother Erwin is here with me for the next month or so, and he’ll be taking care of me….

(3) LOWREY ARRIVES. Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund delegate “Orange Mike” Lowrey has returned. “As of 5 p.m. Milwaukee (11 p.m. GMT), I’m off the plane and have already been put back to work here at the bookstore. (Yes, the gout’s still painful.)” Welcome back! Sorry about the gout…

(4) YEAR’S BEST SERIES IN ABEYANCE. Jonathan Strahan, praising a story at his Notes from Coode Street blog, said:

In the meantime, since I’m not currently editing a year’s best anthology series for anyone, I’ll try to note some of the best short fiction I’m reading about the place. My favourite story of the moment is Maureen McHugh’s wonderful “The Goldfish Man“, from Uncanny 45. Because it’s online and shareable, you should go read it if you see this. It would be in my year’s best.

He clarified in a comment there will not be a forthcoming volume in his Year’s Best SF series:

Sadly, those were not successful and they opted not to proceed. I have been looking for new publisher for the series, but to no avail so far.

It was news to me.

(5) I’M WORKING, REALLY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Anne Helen Petersen explains how remote workers can show the home office they’re busy by turning work into a LARP: “LARPing your job” at Culture Study.

…The compulsion to LARP is for those who have to feel accountable to some larger salary god, one who takes earthly shape in the form of our manager, our manager’s manager, and/or our coworkers, all of whom are constantly deciding whether or not we deserve the salaried, privileged position in which we’ve found ourselves. This is largely bullshit, of course: yes, our managers do think about how much we’re producing, but only the worst of them are clocking how many hours our green dot is showing up on Slack. Most of our coworkers are too worried about LARPing their own jobs to worry about how much you’re LARPing yours.

We’re performing, in other words, largely for ourselves. Justifying to ourselves that we deserve the place that we’ve found ourselves. Justifying to ourselves that writing for the internet is a vocation that deserves steady payment. At heart, this is a manifestation of a general undervaluing of our own work: we still navigate the workplace as if getting paid to produce knowledge means we’re getting away with something, and have to do everything possible to make sure no one realizes they’ve made a massive mistake.

Of course, there are myriad cultural and societal forces that have led us to this point of disbelief. Every time someone made fun of my undergrad degree, or my dissertation, or my Ph.D. Every time someone made fun of BuzzFeed, or denigrated writing about celebrities or pop culture generally. Every time someone at a family gathering said something like “must be fun to get paid to go to the movies?” All of those messages come together to tell me that my work is either easy or pointless. No wonder I spend so much time trying to communicate how hard I work…

(6) LOUD AND CLEAR. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] This is a documentary that Penguin Random House UK putout in late April about the new Discworld audiobooks.  This is corporate promotion but still worth 20 minutes in part because you get a sense of how an audiobook is made and also because you get to hear some of the actors who are narrating, as well as Pratchett’s literary executor, Rob Wilkins. One important point is that these books have been called “full cast” audiobooks and they’re not; a single actor narrates each one of the Discworld subseries, with the great Bill Nighy providing the footnotes. Of the narrators I thought Andy Serkis (who now has a pompadour) was the most interesting. “Turning Terry Pratchett’s Discworld into Audiobooks”.

This documentary follows Penguin Audio’s ambitious project of turning the entire Discworld catalog into audiobook format. Click here to find out more: https://linktr.ee/Discworld This is Discworld like you’ve never heard it before. With an incredible cast of names from British stage and screen, including Bill Nighy, Peter Serafinowicz, Indira Varma, Colin Morgan, Andy Serkis and Sian Clifford. This ambitious project, taking 40 unabridged books, containing nearly 4 million words, recording over 135 days and featuring over 420 hours of audio is being produced and directed by Neil Gardner – the multiple award-winning radio writer & director – who is a life-long Terry Pratchett superfan.

(7) STOP AVOIDING THE SF LABEL. At Publishers Weekly, Emily Midkiff argues “Sci-Fi for Kids Is a Missed Publishing Opportunity”.

… When I looked at very different libraries all across the country, I saw the same low supply of science fiction that I had observed in that first elementary school library, but I also saw a high demand for it. In each library, only about 3% of the books were science fiction. I expected to see a corresponding low number of checkouts. Instead, the records showed that science fiction books were getting checked out more often per book than other genres. While realistic fiction books were checked out, on average, one to three times per book and fantasy books were checked out three to four times per book, science fiction books’ checkout numbers were as high as six times per book. These libraries may not have many science fiction books available, but the children seem to compensate by collectively checking out the available books more often.

The librarians were just as surprised as I was. Library software doesn’t keep track of each book’s genre, and so librarians have no easy way of knowing that science fiction books are being checked out so often. Librarians are, however, aware that there isn’t much science fiction available. There just aren’t as many choices as there are for other genres…

(8) GREAT LEAP FORWARD. “’Quantum Leap’ Sequel Scores Series Pickup at NBC”The Hollywood Reporter has details.

Nearly 30 years since the Scott Bakula-led original series signed off after a five-season run on NBC, the broadcast network has handed out a formal series order to the sequel series starring Raymond Lee.

The drama, which was formally picked up to pilot in January, recently wrapped production and is one of a handful of comedies and dramas that is expected to be in formal consideration for the 2022-23 fall schedule.

Written by God Friended Me and Alcatraz duo Steven Lilien and Bryan Wynbrandt — who will now have two shows on NBC with rookie La Brea having already been renewed — the new Quantum Leap follows a new team that has been assembled to restart the Quantum Leap project in the hopes of understanding the mysteries behind the machine and the man who created it 30 years since Dr. Sam Beckett stepped into the accelerator and vanished….

(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1960 [By Cat Eldridge.]

This is Gart Williams, age thirty-eight, a man protected by a suit of armor all held together by one bolt. Just a moment ago, someone removed the bolt, and Mr. Williams’ protection fell away from him, and left him a naked target. He’s been cannonaded this afternoon by all the enemies of his life. His insecurity has shelled him, his sensitivity has straddled him with humiliation, his deep-rooted disquiet about his own worth has zeroed in on him, landed on target, and blown him apart. Mr. Gart Williams, ad agency exec, who in just a moment, will move into the Twilight Zone—in a desperate search for survival. — opening narration of “A Stop at Willoughby”

Sixty-two years ago this evening CBS aired The Twilight Zone’s “A Stop at Willoughby”. So why am I essaying this Scroll? It is because, although I cannot give you an original source for it, it is said that Rod Serling cited this as his favorite story from the first season of the series. This being a story of the Twilight Zone, I’m willing to accept that as a true story.

 So “A Stop at Willoughby” concerns a man so lonely, so unhappy with his life that he starts dreaming as he takes a short nap on the train while commuting home one snowy November day. Waking he finds his dream is real and he is in Willoughby in 1888, which Serling describes as a “peaceful, restful place, where a man can slow down to a walk and live his life full measure.” Even the train, where he’s the only passenger, is eighty years old.

He returns to Willoughby several times where he’s created as if he’s actually resident there but this being the reality of the Twilight Zone, things don’t end as he hopes. I am most definitely not saying what happens as that’d be a major spoiler and there might actually be someone here who hasn’t yet seen it. Though I find that extremely unlikely. 

It shows up repeatedly in popular culture with some instances I’ll note here. The For All Time film starring Mark Harmon was based on this episode. An animated Rugrats “Family Reunion” episode has all of the Pickles family taking the train to Willoughby, with the conductor saying, “Next stop Willoughby!” And in Stargate Atlantis’ “The Real World” episode, Dr. Elizabeth Weir awakens in the Acute Care Unit of Willoughby State Hospital. 

The Twilight Zone is streaming on Paramount +. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born May 6, 1914 Randall Jarrell. Author of the ever so charming The Animal Family which is illustrated by Maurice Sendak. Go read it — you’ll be smiling afterwards. The Anchor Book of Stories has more of his genre friendly stories. (Died 1965.)
  • Born May 6, 1915 Orson Welles. Certainly the broadcast of “The War of the Worlds” in 1938 was his pinnacle of genre success, but for the Federal Theatre Project he also did the 1936 adaptation of Macbeth with an entirely African American cast that was absolutely amazing. That was known as the Voodoo Macbeth which might give you an idea of what he did to it. He would later do a more straightforward film of Macbeth. And of course he made a most excellent radio Shadow as well! (Died 1985.)
  • Born May 6, 1946 Nancy Kilpatrick, 76. Fangoria called her “Canada’s answer to Anne Rice”. I do recommend the anthology she edited Danse Macabre: Close Encounters with the Reaper as it’s a most excellent horror collection. 
  • Born May 6, 1952 Michael O’Hare. He was best known for playing Commander Jeffrey Sinclair in the first season of Babylon 5.  Other genre appearances were limited — he played Fuller in the 1984 film C.H.U.D, was Jimmy in the “Heretic” episode of Tales from the Darkside and appeared as a thug on the subway train in The Trial of the Incredible Hulk. And yes, he’s one of Babylon 5 actors who died well before they should’ve. (Died 2012.)
  • Born May 6, 1961 Carlos Lauchu, 61. Anubis, the captain of Ra’s personal guard, in the original Stargate film. His only other genre acting was two appearances in the Monsters anthology series. 

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • Bizarro has Superman explaining why you can’t afford to be subtle in comics.

(12) MOON KNIGHT QR & A. Variety reveals “How Marvel Studios Buried Secret Messages via QR Codes Inside ‘Moon Knight’”.

It’s not every day that one can write a sentence that reasonably connects the Fox animated series “Bob’s Burgers,” the House of Terror museum of fascist and communist regimes in Hungary, and the Marvel Cinematic Universe — but in 2022, anything is possible.

Let’s back up. Ever since the Marvel Studios series “Moon Knight” debuted on Disney+ on March 30, eagle-eyed viewers have noticed a series of semi-conspicuous QR codes in the background of scenes in the first, second and fifth episodes of the show. Scanning the codes sends viewers to a special website that contains a weekly free web comic featuring the Moon Knight character through the run of the show, from his first appearance in 1975 through his most recent issue in 2019.

It’s a savvy way to expand viewers’ comic book knowledge for a character even serious Marvel fans may never have read, and it’s been wildly successful: According to Disney, the landing page has been visited over 1.5 million times, leading to over 500,000 full comics read to date…

(13) DOUBLE-CROSSOVER. [Item by Danny Sichel.] in 2004, KC Carlson compiled an Oral History of the JLA/Avengers crossover from the early 80s. The one that was never published. The Oral History wasn’t published either — possibly because it presents a rather unpleasant image of many of the people involved. But now here it is. At Comics Beat:

George Pérez:  “It just ended up being one thing after another — accusations both from DC and Marvel towards each other — until I realized there was a lot more private politics that seemed to be going on which were killing the book I really wanted to work on. After a while I became very bitter about the entire thing. It was never more apparent to me that, as much as I love drawing comics, it’s still a business, and politics and petty squabbles can kill a project, even such a potential money-maker.”  — Modern Masters Volume 2: George Pérez, 2003

George nailed it. If there ever was a single comics project that embodied company politics, petty squabbles, and flying accusations, it was the original JLA/Avengers crossover, scheduled to be jointly published between Marvel Comics and DC Comics in the summer of 1983 — the fifth in a series of highly successful team-ups. Pairing the legendary Justice League of America (JLA) and the mighty Avengers, this project would include virtually all of the quintessential characters from the two companies’ lineups….

George Pérez:  “I had been drawing for two weeks and was already starting page 21, when I received a call from Len Wein saying they needed to find out what changes I was making in the plot. (DC staffer) Joey Cavalieri had to do a piecemeal plot based on things I had changed — ideas, if not actual explanations — since I hadn’t quite worked out everything as I was going along yet.” — Comics Interview #6, August 1983

Gerry Conway, unwilling to do another draft of the plot, leaves the project at this point. Cavalieri, in consultation with Perez and Wein, cobbles together a new plot — draft #3 — and Giordano rushes it into Shooter’s hands….

(14) ABOUT JANE 57821. Janelle Monáe’s volume of collaborative stories is the subject of  “Review: The Memory Librarian and Other Stories of Dirty Computer” by Arturo Serrano at Nerds of a Feather.

… The introduction to the collection is a quick summary of the rise of a totalitarian regime, New Dawn, whose control over society was possible because “we accepted their offer that an eye in the sky might protect us from… ourselves.” With the assurance of total visibility, an immediate problem emerged regarding privacy and deviancy, and the regime decided that “what they struggled to see, they began to deem not worthy of being seen—inconsistent, off standard. Began calling it dirty—unfit to be swallowed by their eyes.”

In the backstory that this introduction presents, the new social category of the dirty started being applied to modes of thought and identity that did not fit the rigid standards of the regime. The stories that compose this collection explore various characters’ struggle to reclaim, preserve, and even celebrate the dirty….

(15) A LAUGH RIOT IT’S NOT. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] “The debut episode of the new Star Trek show has drawn complaints for using documentary footage of the 2014 Maidan Uprising to depict an alien riot,” reports Gizmodo: Star Trek Strange New Worlds Uses Ukrainian Protest Footage as Alien Riot”.

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds heads to the franchise’s past to tell adventure stories for a bright, optimistic future—but its very first episode has looked to our own recent history to provide a proxy that has some very unfortunate connotations.

Part of the first episode of the new series, titled “Strange New Worlds” itself, sees the Enterprise’s Captain Pike (Anson Mount), Lt. Spock (Ethan Peck), and Lt. Noonien-Singh (Christina Chong) beam down to an alien world, Kiley 279, in an attempt to recover missing Starfleet officers in the wake of a First Contact meeting. The trio arrives to find the world a pre-warp civilization being torn apart by a conflict between the planetary government and a local uprising…

…Shortly after the away team lands on Kiley 279, they come across a crowd of civilians watching a news broadcast on an outside monitor, discussing an overnight series of protests taking place across the Kiley civilization. However, the footage shown is from much closer to our home than the world of Star Trek: it’s footage taken during the late 2013-early 2014 civil unrest in Ukraine known as “Euromaidan,” or the Maidan Uprising.

…Footage from the Maidan Uprising is not the only archival protest footage used in the episode—later on in the episode, Captain Pike shows the Kiley 279 government a selection of footage from Earth’s history as a precedent to World War III in Star Trek’s timeline, notably using footage from the January 6th 2021 riots at the U.S. Capitol as Pike draws a direct line between a “second Civil War, and then the Eugenics War, and then finally just World War III.”… 

(16) ROBOHOP. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Dine Brands—corporate parent of both IHOP and Applebee’s—is among the restaurant companies beginning or expanding experiments with robotics. The bots have roles both back-of-house (e.g., food prep) and front-of-house (e.g., delivering food or busing tables). Labor shortages are said to be the biggest inspiration. “Applebee’s And IHOP Are Adding New Technologies, Including Robotics, To Offset Labor Shortages” at Forbes.

…Further, IHOP has a new point-of-sale system that streamlines orders across channels and a franchisee is also testing a robot that can deliver food to guests and bus tables. Robotic servers are starting to pop up across the casual dining segment, including at Denny’s and Chili’s, the latter of which just expanded deployment to 51 more restaurants.

It’s too early to tell if such an approach is worth a broader rollout. Peyton did say, however, that the robot makes servers more productive and efficient and “guests and kids think it’s super cool.”

“Also, borrowing from QSR, we’re testing a robotic arm that can work the fryer station,” he said. “If we have one less cook in the kitchen, this can help them be more efficient and productive.”…

(17) 8K. Seán Doran provides some video of a crater on Mars from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter: “A Very Detailed View Of A Crater On Planet Mars”.

This is ESP_073055_1675 from HiRISE camera onboard Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. Frame height is approximately 1km taken from an orbit height of 250km. Source was denoised, blended, graded, rescaled & animated to create the footage. HiRISE (High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment) is the most powerful camera ever sent to another planet, one of six instruments onboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. The color you see in HiRISE images is not the “true” color human eyes would see on Mars. This is because the HiRISE camera views Mars in a different part of the spectrum than human eyes do. The camera has three different color filtered CCDs: red, blue-green, and near-infrared. False color imagery is extremely valuable because it illuminates the distinction between different materials and textures.

(18) MAKE A DOUBLE BATCH. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Do you know where your Cumberbatch is? James Cordon of The Late Late Show, Elizabeth Olsen, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Benedict Cumberbatch dispute whether telling news-based jokes or drinking margaritas is more important on Cinco de Mayo. Or maybe it’s figuring out which Benedict Cumberbatch is from our universe. “Benedict Cumberbatch and Elizabeth Olsen interrupting James Corden’s monologue is sheer chaos” at Mashable.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Rob Thornton, Andrew (Not Werdna), Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, and Chris Barkley for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]

Pixel Scroll 4/11/22 This Is My Quest, To Pixel That Scroll

Going a bit light today so I can finish my tax returns!

(1) NIMONA SAVED. “Netflix Picks Up LGBTQ Animated Film ‘Nimona’ Dropped by Disney” reports The Wrap.

Netflix announced on Monday morning that it would be picking up “Nimona,” the LGBTQ animated project based on ND Stevenson’s graphic novel that was one of the projects scrapped following the Disney/Fox merger in 2019. The film is already in production and will be released in 2023.

“Nimona” will star Chloë Grace Moretz as the antihero Nimona, a shapeshifter bent on destroying a powerful organization known as the Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics by any means necessary — even if it means killing people. To this end, she teams up with with Lord Ballister Blackheart (Riz Ahmed), who also seeks to bring down the Institution but will not break his own code of ethics to do so…

(2) TUNNELS IN THE SKY. James Davis Nicoll inspected the apple of the universe to find “Five SF Novels Featuring Different Kinds of Wormholes” at Tor.com. Second on the list is —

Starrigger by John DeChancie (1983)

The Skyway that connects the known worlds is unusually user-friendly. The sufficiently advanced aliens who created the Skyway planted their Kerr-Tipler objects on the surfaces of habitable worlds, allowing truckers like Jake to travel from world to world (provided only that their sufficiently robust vehicles follow a precise path past the rapidly spinning, hyperdense towers). At present, human knowledge of the Skyway is rudimentary. However, if someone were to come into possession of the fabled (and quite possibly mythical) Roadmap, a multitude of routes would be open: routes through space and even time. Which is why when whispers begin circulating that Jake has the Roadmap, his life gets very complicated indeed.

(3) SHALL WE DANCE? John Scalzi kicks off Reader Request Week with a thought experiment involving a point of view he ordinarily disdains. The reader asks: “For the sake of argument and fun, please defend your man-cred, and demonstrate your good standing in the white male dominated patriarchy.” The payoff is we get to hear about his high school dance class.  “Reader Request Week 2022 #1: My ‘Man-Cred’”.

…Third, it really effectively short-circuited my concern about the judgment of other dudes. A lot of straight men, especially young men, don’t dance, because they think they will look foolish doing so, and when they’re concerned about looking foolish, the people they’re most concerned about looking foolish to are other men — who they often imagine will see them on the dance floor and cast judgment on them, not for their moves, but for being on the dance floor at all. Learning to dance got me over that, by actually teaching me how to dance and by teaching me to enjoy dancing for itself, and by giving my dancing proper focus — not on the other dudes, most not on the dance floor, who may or my not be judging me, but either on my dance partner, who legitimately deserved my attention, or on myself, enjoying the pleasure of the dance itself….

(4) TENSION, APPREHENSION, AND DISSENSION. Max Florschutz does a good job reminding everyone that dramatic conflict is not confined to physical conflict: “Being a Better Writer: Embracing Conflict in All its Forms” at Unusual Things.

…And again, there’s nothing wrong with writing fun fight scenes and life-threatening peril. I do it all the time.

But that’s not the only way we can have conflict in our story. Not all forms of conflict are violent, action-packed, or perilous.

Instead, they can be subtle, insidious, tense, or even comedic, all without resorting to direct, physical violence.

This concept is best, I feel, illustrated through examples, so let’s go over a few. Say you have a protagonist that is a chief diplomat for a fantasy kingdom. Their aim, as ordered by their ruler, is to keep the peace with another nation that they serve as a diplomat to. Unfortunately, things are tense. This other nation is undergoing a resource shortage, which has driven tensions to high levels, and while the kingdom our protagonist represents has a lot of that resource, they’re using it. They’d also likely win a war if it came to that, but not without the loss of potentially tens of thousands of lives, one of which is a close relative of the protagonist. Worse still, the ruler of the other kingdom is aggressively pushing for a conflict, since they feel it will cement their power, even if they lose.

Now, imagine writing out a scene or a chapter in which this diplomat has a meeting with a representative of this other ruler. Can you imagine how the tension might pile up as these two representatives, each with very different goals, do “battle” with one another using words and faint promises or assurances, each trying to secure their own “victory” over the other? The scene may not have blades, guns, and immediate peril like a collapsing building … but each and every word spoken by the pair could carry such weight that the sense of peril would still be very present. A single wrong word, stepping too far or not stepping far enough, could plunge the kingdom into a war that would kill tens of thousands….

(5) FANAC FAN HISTORY ZOOM WITH THE HALDEMANS. Joe Siclari announces: “We are doing another FANAC Fan History Zoom, This is an interview of Joe and Gay Haldeman titled ‘Science Fiction Fandom from Both Sides’.” It will be live on April 23, 2022 at 2:00 p.m. EDT (11:00 a.m. PDT, 7:00 p.m. London). To access the event please RSVP by sending a note to fanac@fanac.org.

(6) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

2001 [Item by Cat Eldridge.]

Twenty-one years on this evening ago over at that network the no one remembers (UPN), Special Unit 2 started out its two-year life. It was about Chicago police unit known as Special Unit 2who dealt with the city’s  population of mythological beings who were known as Links. Consider it an updated Night Stalker which also was set in Chicago. 

It was created by Evan Katz who was also over at Fox being the Executive Producer of a slightly more successful series, to wit 24.

Though set in Chicago, it, like so many other genre series, was filmed in Vancouver, British Columbia. I know I watched enough it that I should’ve noticed that it wasn’t filmed in Chicago but honestly all those blend together after awhile. 

It had a small primary cast including Michael Landes who played Jimmy Olsen in the first season of Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, and Alexandra Lee. She appeared as one of five corpses recounting the tales of their death on a most excellent CSI: Crime Scene Investigation episode entitled “Toe Tags”. It’s well worth seeing.

It got cancelled after just nineteen episodes due to a change in UPN’s management as reported in all the trade papers.

Not that it was well-received at the time. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette said of it that, “It’s true that ‘Special Unit 2’ is not bad compared to the rest of the shows on UPN. That is, if you take ‘not bad’ to mean dull and derivative. This low-budget cross between ‘The X-Files’ and ‘Men in Black’ wants to yuk it up one minute and incite fear the next. It fails on both counts.” 

And Variety said in its review, “As ‘Star Trek: Voyager’ approaches its final episode, UPN is trying to keep its sci-fi audience happy with ‘Special Unit 2,’ a tepid hour-long series about a secretive Chicago police unit that hunts, of all things, half-man/half-beasts. Positioned at 8 p.m. Wednesday, skein reps good counterprogramming opposite sitcoms and the femme-skewing ‘Ed’ and ‘Dawson’s Creek,’ and the debut’s ratings were decent — in a fledgling-network kind of way. But this ‘Men in Black’ wannabe must come up with sharper storylines if it wants to stay strong; otherwise, it’ll be yet another short-lived project on a network in dire need of a hit.”

Special Unit 2 (front) Danny Woodburn, (l-r) Alexondra Lee, Michael Landes, Richard Gant

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born April 11, 1867 William Wallace Cook. Newspaper reporter and pulp writer who wrote four novels (The Fiction FactoryA Round Trip to the Year 2000, or A Flight Through Time, Cast Away at the Pole and Adrift in the Unknown, or Adventures in a Queer Realm) which were serialized in Argosy in the early part of the last century. Clute in his usual blunt manner said at EoSF he was “was a crude writer, but is of interest for his attempts to combine adventure plots and Satire.” (Died 1933.)
  • Born April 11, 1892 William M. Timlin. Author of The Ship that Sailed to Mars, a remarkable work that has 48 pages of text and 48 color plates. It has become a classic of fantasy literature. You can view the book here. (Died 1943.)
  • Born April 11, 1920 Peter O’Donnell. Best remembered as the creator of Modesty Blaise of whom EoSF says her “agility and supple strength are sufficiently exceptional for her to be understood as a Superhero.” O’Donnell also wrote the screenplay of The Vengeance of She based on H. Rider Haggard’s Ayesha: The Return of She novel. It rates eleven percent among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. And let’s just say the critics were less kind. (Died 2010.)
  • Born April 11, 1941 Gene Szafran. He did the cover art for genre  books published by Bantam and Ballantine from the Sixties to the Eighties, including a series of Signet paperbacks of Robert A. Heinlein’s work including Farnham’s Freehold, The Green Hills of Earth, and Methusaleh’s Children. His art would garner him four Locus Awards. (Died 2011.)
  • Born April 11, 1949 Melanie Tem. She was the wife of genre author Steve Rasnic Tem. A prolific writer of both novels and short stories, she considered herself a dark fantasy writer, not a horror writer. Bryant, King and Simmonds all praised her writing. If I had to make recommendations, I’d say start with Blood MoonWitch-Light (co-written with Nancy Holder) and Daughters done with her husband. ”The Man on the Ceiling” won her a World Fantasy Award and got her a Shirley Jackson Award nomination.  She died of cancer which recurred after she’d been in remission. Damn cancer. (Died 2015.)
  • Born April 11, 1952 James Patrick Kelly, 71. One of his best stories, “Solstice” is in Sterling’s Mirrorshades anthology. The Mariska Volochkova series is the one I would definitely recommend if you’ve not read it yet. Hugo nominations? Why yes, he does starting at Conspiracy ‘87 for his “Rat” story, proceeding from there to his “Think Like a Dinosaur“ novelette win at L.A. Con III, with another at BucConeer for his “Itsy Bitsy Spider” short story nomination to his “1016 to 1? novelette win at Chicon 2000. Then he had another novelette nominated at ConJose for “Undone” and “Bernardo’s House” picked him up another at Noreascon 4. At Interaction, “The Best Christmas Ever” was a short story finalist, as his “Burn” novella was a L.A. Con IV, His last Hugo nomination was for the novelette “Plus of Minus” at Renovation. 
  • Born April 11, 1955 Julie E. Czerneda, 67. Canadian author whose In the Company of Others which won an Aurora Award is stellar as A Turn of Light and A Play of Shadow which also deservedly won that Award. Need I say she won yet more of those Awards? Impressive writer indeed as she also won two Golden Ducks as well. Her latest novel Spectrum, just last year. She is extremely well stocked at the usual suspects, bless them. 
  • Born April 11, 1963 Gregory Keyes, 59. Best known for The Age of Unreason tetralogy, a steampunk and magical affair featuring Benjamin Franklin and Isaac Newton. Best known for The Age of Unreason tetralogy, a steampunk and magical affair featuring Benjamin Franklin and Isaac Newton. He has done a lot, and I do mean a lot, of other media tie-in fiction including Babylon 5 where he did a Psi Corps trilogy of novels, Pacific Rim, Godzilla, Star Wars, Planet of The Apes, Independence Day and Pacific Rim.

(8) STAR CHAMBERS. SFF Book Reviews’ Dina says, “A Want All The Alien Hugs: Becky Chambers – The Galaxy And the Ground Within”.

… Strangers forced into proximity is a great trope but Becky Chambers makes something truly special out of it. Most of her characters are respectful of each other, some even become friends easily, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t an underlying tension between others. Again, there are no big battles of fisticuffs but opinions clash on occasion and, honestly, that was enough tension for me.

At first, it’s just fun getting to know these characters, finding out their backstories, where they were headed when they got stuck on Gora, and what their lives are like. Then it became lovely to watch them grow into a sort of force-upon-each-other found family, at least for alittle while….

(9) THESE CREDENTIALS WILL BE NOTHING TO SNEEZE AT. “Hypoallergenic Cats Could Be Possible With CRISPR Gene Editing” promises Gizmodo.

…Researchers at the Virginia-based biotech company InBio (previously called Indoor Biotechnologies) have been working on their own approach. They’re hoping to use CRISPR, the Nobel Prize-winning gene editing tech, to produce cats that simply make little to no Fel d 1 [a suspected allergy-causing protein]. In their latest research, published Monday in The CRISPR Journal, they say they’ve collected evidence that this can be done effectively and safely….

(10) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] This video of Tom Scott meeting his robot double dropped today: “My robot double sells out (so I don’t have to)”.

I haven’t been able to do VPN advertising for a long time. Well, this one time, I don’t have to: because the robot double’s going to do it for me. With many thanks to all the team at Engineered Arts who worked on this. To be clear, this is not sponsored by them, I paid money (technically, NordVPN’s money) for the Mesmer robot — or at least, for the silicone mask and 3D printed skull that were put together for just one day!

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

Pixel Scroll 4/4/22 Just A Pixel Boy, Lots Of Planets Have A South, He Took The Tardis Box Goin’ Anywhere

(1) BETTER VILLAINS THROUGH SCIENCE (FICTION). Charlie Jane Anders shares “7 Secrets To Avoiding The Biggest Problem With Villains” at Stone Soup. Lots of interesting observations here.

5) A villain is often boring because of boring fight scenes. Or boring chase scenes. Or boring confrontations in general. If a fight scene is just an excuse for a lot of stage directions, or a literal blow by blow of a punching match, it quickly grows stale. As Green Bone Saga author Fonda Lee has explained many times, a good fight scene has emotional stakes and helps to tell the story and says something about the characters. You can learn a lot about a villain by watching them try to kill the hero. You can also learn a lot about a villain by watching them fighting to achieve the same goal as the hero, or the opposite goal for that matter. If your action scenes are really character – and plot development scenes, they will make your villain shine— way more than sticking them in a plexiglass cell ever would.

(2) A CLASSIC OF SF ON THE BBC. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Karl Capek’s play, R.U.R. Rossum’s Universal Robots, has a new adaptation as a radio play musical just broadcast from the BBC. You can access Episode 1 from Sounds at the link.

Written in 1932, the play is set in the year 2000.  Not only does it have concepts that resonate with much subsequent SF, it is particularly apposite today as we head towards full-blown general artificial intelligence.

Part two next Sunday afternoon at 15.00 Brit Cit time.

Music and Lyrics by Susannah Pearse

Book by Robert Hudson

Karel Capek’s ultra-prescient, retro-futurist 1921 comedy (the classic which gave us the word ‘robot’) is re-imagined with a massive dose of character-driven and song-centred heart.

In Capek’s world, machines do all the work and their monopolistic makers care only about enriching themselves. Robots make huge volumes of goods very cheaply, but there are limited resources to make these goods from and humans don’t care so long as life keeps getting lazier.

The movie star Lady Helen is on a personal crusade. She visits the island factory of Rossum’s Universal Robots, robot-makers to the world, with the intention of freeing the robots. Despite her better judgement, she falls in love with Chairman Domin, the capitalist boss of R.U.R, who dismisses her campaign by insisting that robots are devoid of emotion and free will. Undeterred, Lady Helen persuades a sympathetic scientist to grow a small batch of robots with these very qualities.

The new robots defy all expectations, not least because of their resolute commitment to saving the world from the humans.

(3) WILLIAMSON LECTURESHIP SCHEDULE. The 2022 Jack Williamson Lectureship schedule has been posted. Most of these events will be streamed via YouTube live, and you’ll be able to view them on the ENMU YouTube channel.

Thursday, April 7:  

3:00: Real-Life CSI Q&A, JWLA 111. Zoom link: https://us06web.zoom.us/j/82969992270?pwd=VDdPeUpBcFExeFZQTGRsVVpTNkRsZz09  

5:30: A Retrospective with Walter Jon Williams, UTC Small Theater  

Friday, April 8:  

10:00 am: Guest of Honor Reading, GSSC Presentation area  

12:00 pm: Williamson Lectureship Lunch and Main Event, CUB Ballroom  

1:30 pm: Gaming Session, GSSC Presentation Room  

3:00 pm:  

Panel 1a: Remixing and Genre, GSSC 216. Panelists: Walter Jon Williams, Emily Mah, Reese Hogan, Jeffe Kennedy  

4:00 pm:  

Panel 2a: History and/of Science Fiction, GSSC 216, Panelists: Connie Willis, Walter Jon Williams, Reese Hogan, Ian Tregillis  

Panel 2b: Craft of a story/Story crafting, GSSC 217, Panelists: Darynda Jones, Jeffe Kennedy, Emily Mah  

5:00 pm:  

Panel 3a: Never the Same Story Twice: Making Stories Your Own, GSSC 216, Panelists: Walter Jon Williams, Connie Willis, Emily Mah  

Panel 3b: Short Attention Span, GSSC 217, Panelists: Jeffe Kennedy, Darynda Jones, Reese Hogan 

(4) IN A STRANGE LAND. Star Trek: Strange New Worlds has released its official trailer. Airing on Paramount+ this May, Strange New Worlds is both a prequel to the original Star Trek series and a spinoff of the events of Star Trek: Discovery season 2

(5) THREE’S A CHARM. New York Times science fiction reviewer Amal El-Mohtar hits the jackpot in “Ordinary People, Extraordinary Circumstances” – with good things to say about All the Horses of Iceland by Sarah Tolmie, Tell Me an Ending by Jo Harkin, and The Impossible Us by Sarah Lotz.

To paraphrase Ian Fleming: To read one good book is happenstance; two is coincidence; three is wild good fortune. That a columnist should enjoy novels in her purview is not particularly noteworthy — but to read three excellent books in sequence, all for the same column, is unusual, a critic’s jackpot….

(6) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1914 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] On this day, one hundred and eight years ago, the first part of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ At the Earth’s Core novel appeared in All-Star Weekly. This magazine started life as The All-Story Magazine before becoming The All-Story and All-Star Weekly. Burroughs’ serial would run from April 4 to April 25, 1914. It would be first published in book form in hardcover by A. C. McClurg in July, 1922. It is of course freely available at the usual suspects. 

Pellucidar, a hollow Earth story, is very influential with writers using the setting later on, not the least of which is the author who has Tarzan appearing there. Lin Carter’s “Zanthodon” series, beginning with his novel Journey to the Underground World, is considered an homage to this work. 

And the Skartaris setting used by Mike Grell in The Warlord series is another homage to Pellucidar in the graphic medium. Justice League Unlimited‘s “Chaos at the Earth’s Core“ episode would show the hollow Earth in an animated medium. It’s quite wonderful even if, like the Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World seriesit has very, very little to do with the source material. 

Wiki claims that Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness was largely influenced by this work. Huh? Please explain. 

The novel has been filmed once as At the Earth’s Core in 1976 as directed by Kevin Connor and starring Doug McClure as David Innes and Peter Cushing as Abner Perry. It fared badly among critics and audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes, garnering just thirty-three percent from each. My favorite critic comment? This one by Stephen Randall of the Los Angeles Free Press: “It’s the type of movie you can send your kids to, but only if you don’t much like them.” Ouch. Really ouch. 

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born April 4, 1902 Stanley G. Weinbaum. His first story, “A Martian Odyssey”, was published to general accolades in July 1934, but he died from lung cancer less than a year and a half later. ISFDB lists two novels, The New Adam and The Dark Other, plus several handfuls of short stories that were I assume were out for consideration with various editors at the time of his death. Everything he wrote is available at the usual digital suspects. (Died 1935.)
  • Born April 4, 1949 David C. Sutherland III. An early Dungeons & Dragons artist. His work heavily influenced the development of D&D. He was also one of their writers on such modules as the Queen of the Demonweb Pits that Gary Gygax edited. He also drew the maps for Castle Ravenloft. (Died 2009.)
  • Born April 4, 1948 Dan Simmons, 74. He’s the author of the Hyperion Cantos and the Ilium/Olympos cycles. Hyperion won a Hugo Award at ConFiction (1990), and The Fall of Hyperion was nominated the following year at ChiCon V (1991). Both are, if my memory serves me right, excellent. If you like horror, Song of Kali which won a World Fantasy Award is quite tasty indeed. In 2013 he became a World Horror Convention Grand Master.  Beware his social media, which include remarks about environmental activist Greta Thunberg.
  • Born April 4, 1952 Cherie Lunghi, 70. Her fame arise from her role as Guinevere in Excalibur. (I saw Excalibur in a 1920s-built theater on a warm summer night with hardly anyone there.) She was also Baroness Frankenstien (Victor’s Mother) in Kenneth Branagh’s Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. She was also in The Lady’s Not for Burning as Jennet Jourdemayne. That I’ve not seen. 
  • Born April 4, 1959 Phil Morris, 63. His first acting role was on the “Miri” episode of Trek as simply Boy. He was the Sam the Kid on several episodes of Mr. Merlin before returning to Trek fold as Trainee Foster in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. Next interesting role is voicing Vandal Savage on a three-part Justice League Unlimited story called “The Savage Time”, a role he reprised for Justice League: Doom. No, I’ve not forgotten that he was on Mission: Impossible as Grant Collier. He also played the Martian Manhunter (J’onn J’onzz) on Smallvillie. Currently He’s Silas Stone on Doom Patrol and no, I didn’t spot that was him in that role. 
  • Born April 4, 1965 Robert Downey Jr., 57. Iron Man in the Marvel Universe film franchise. (I loved the first Iron Man film, thought they could’ve stopped there.) Also a rather brilliant Holmes in Sherlock Holmes and Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. Also voicing James Barris in an animated adaption of Philip K. Dick’s A Scanner Darkly which picked up a nomination at Nippon 2007. Yes, he’s plays the title role in Dolittle which despite having scathing critical reviews has a rather superb seventy-six rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. 
  • Born April 4, 1967 Xenia Seeberg, 55. She is perhaps best known for her role as Xev Bellringer in Lexx, a show’s that’s fantastic provided you can see in its uncensored form. I’ve also see she played Muireann In Annihilation Earth, Noel in So, You’ve Downloaded a Demon, uncredited role in Lord of The Undead, and Sela In the “Assessment” episode of Total Recall 2070
  • Born April 4, 1968 Gemma Files, 54. She’s a Canadian horror writer, journalist, and film critic. Her Hexslinger series now at three novels and a handful of stories is quite fun. It’s worth noting that she’s a prolific short story writer whose “The Emperor’s Old Bones” won an International Horror Guild Award and four of these stories have been adapted as scripts for The Hunger horror series. Impressive indeed!  She won a Shirley Jackson Award and a Sunburst Award for Excellence in Canadian Literature of the Fantastic for Experimental Film.

(8) COMICS SECTION.

  • Bizarro introduces us to Frankenstein’s monster’s barber.
  • Tom Gauld on baiting a wild librarian:

(9) SOUND ADVICE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Bob Godfrey and Ron Neesin explain how to make sound effects with stuff you have at home in this BBC clip from 1974 that dropped today. “Sound Effects with Ron Geesin” — The DIY Film Animation Show.

Bob Godfrey is joined by musician and composer extraordinaire Ron Geesin, who delivers a masterclass in the art of creating and syncing sound effects. To create these sound effects at home you will need: A mouth, a tape recorder, a shoe box, a breadknife, a contact microphone, a disused banjo, some rice, eccentric multimedia artist Bruce Lacey, and some sticky tape. Incidentally, if you can’t be bothered to make your own sound effects, here are 16,000 we made earlier: http://bbcsfx.acropolis.org.uk/

(10) PROBLEMS WITH TWO FANS STOP ARTEMIS LAUNCH. The fans haven’t been named. “NASA’s Artemis I mega moon rocket test scrubbed for second time” reports CNN.

…The test was originally scheduled to be completed on Sunday but was put on hold before the propellant was loaded. That was due to problems with two fans used to provide pressure to the mobile launcher – the movable tower which the rocket sits upon before it lifts off.

NASA said Monday it was able overnight to resolve the malfunction of the fans, which are needed to pressurize enclosed areas inside the launcher and keep out hazardous gases…

(11) THE SEVENTIES. CBR.com dares us to disagree: “10 Best Sci-Fi Films of the 70s, Ranked”.

After the Swinging Sixties left an unmistakable mark on pop culture – music, film, and just about everything else – it fell upon the following decade to try and best what came before. For many, the 1970s may well be their favorite era for all of those things, and one area in particular where it arguably excelled over the 60s was sci-fi cinema….

5. Alien (1979) Promised That In Space… No One Can Hear You Scream

Alien took the world by surprise in the Spring of 1979 and is still considered an iconic sci-fi-horror film to this day. It was pitched as essentially being “Jaws in space” although the result is something far more than that.

Directed by Ridley Scott, with incredible designs from HR Giger, and featuring a star-making performance from Sigourney Weaver, Alien sparked a huge multimedia franchise that’s still going strong to this day.

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

Pixel Scroll 3/29/22 But I Scrolled A Fan In Reno, Just To Watch Them File

(1) PHILLIPS’ LE GUIN BIO ACQUIRED. “Virago snaps up first and only authorised biography of Ursula Le Guin”The Bookseller says it will be out in 2026.

…Virago has pre-empted the first and only authorised biography of acclaimed science and speculative fiction author Ursula K Le Guin. It is written by Julie Phillips. 

Rose Tomaszewska, editorial director at Virago, acquired UK & Commonwealth rights from Will Francis at Janklow & Nesbit on behalf of Melissa Flashman in the US.  

Hearing of an auction to acquire the book in the US, the Virago team acted swiftly to pre-empt it, securing rights ahead of the US, which closed with Thomas Gebremedhin at Doubleday. Publication is slated for 2026. 

Phillips is the award-winning author of James Tiptree, Jr (Picador) and The Baby on the Fire Escape (WW Norton & Co). After Phillips interviewed Le Guin for her biography of Tiptree (the pseudonym of science fiction author Alice B Sheldon), Le Guin invited Phillips to “rescue me from the vultures”. 

Agreeing with Le Guin that the biography should be posthumous, Phillips spoke to her in-depth over several years and frequently visited her at her home in Portland, Oregon. …

(2) YOU BE THE JUDGE. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] 2000AD are not bad at running conventions. Their 40th anniversary convention in 2017 was quite something.  And now, this past weekend, they held their 45th anniversary event — but on-line due to on-going CoVID concerns.  Unlike many SF cons providing online content, 2000AD have made much of theirs easily accessible to the world at large.  There is simply too much to report, but check out their YouTube channel for over a score of zarjaz videos. Nonscrots and thrill suckers go hide. Splundig.

(3) PRONOUNS. In “Some Thoughts on Pronouns by Nancy Jane Moore” for Milford SF Writers, Moore has much to say before concluding —

… It’s past time to up our gender game.

Adopting the use of they is far from the last change we’re going to make in the language and none of what’s being said right now is going to be the last word on gender. Pay attention.

And no, you don’t get an exemption on account of age. Getting old doesn’t mean getting stuck in your rut. If you’re still writing or working or dealing with people in the world, you’re not too old to pay attention to the important changes around you.

Trust me on this one.

(4) ABOUT ALOPECIA. Will Smith’s violent response to Chris Rock’s joke about Jada Pinkett Smith’s baldness is being discussed everywhere, even in comments here. And I was personally surprised to see my daughter’s former dance teacher Alison Hooper Keslake being interviewed by the local ABC 7 News station about her experience with alopecia and her thoughts about the joke. I haven’t seen Alison for probably six years, which was just before she began dealing with the malady. She now goes bald, too. Video of her remarks can be seen on Facebook.

(5) THINKING INSIDE THE BOX. Customers are ready to resume exploring literary space again. “Bookstores Tap Nostalgia for Borders, Barnes & Nobles”Bloomberg psychs it out.

…When the final Harry Potter installment was published on July 21, 2007, bookstores across the U.S. celebrated with midnight release parties — some with booze, befitting a series whose earliest readers were now in their 20s. These parties took place at thousands of bookstores at a time that was, in retrospect, Peak Bookstore.

“That era, 1997 to 2007, was truly a sweet spot for readers,” Jenna Amatulli reminisced in HuffPost in 2017. “They watched the fandom bloom from nothing, lined up willingly outside of a physical store — oftentimes without a celebrity-sighting incentive — and read without the fear of a push-alert or Twitter spoiler.”

Turnout for the same release today would be lower, because of Amazon.com Inc., because of dying malls, because of J.K. Rowling’s support for gender essentialism — and because there are simply fewer bookstores. Between 1991 and 2011, the U.S. lost 1,000 chain bookstores. A story in The Bulwark checking in on Borders locations 10 years after its 2011 bankruptcy revealed that some had become Books-A-Million, but many more of their “medium-box” locations now sold food, furniture or clothes.

Even so, that HuffPost story, now five years old, may have played taps for the chain bookstore too soon.

Plenty of Millennials who grew up with a Waldenbooks, a Crown or a Borders have the same nostalgia for those chains that they feel for the malls that once contained them. At the same time, Gen Z is taking to TikTok to talk about books — driving billions of views as well as sales for authors’ backlists — and staging those videos at Barnes & Noble. B&N’s green-and-cream decor persists as an accessible symbol for books and, in a country recently starved for social interaction, a place where one day we will browse together again. Trends may come and go, but wooden shelves and squishy chairs will always mean, “Curl up with a book.”

The last of the major chains is betting on that rebound: Barnes & Noble, which once said it would whittle itself down to 450 stores by 2022, started the year with 625 — and plans to add 20 to 25 more in 2022….

(6) LEND ME YOUR EARS. AND HANDS. KQED invites listeners to hear “Gonzo the Great on the Creativity and Collaboration Behind Jim Henson’s Muppets”.

In the early 1970s, Dave Goelz was an industrial designer working for Hewlett-Packard by day and obsessing over the puppets on Sesame Street in his spare time. Fifty years later, Goelz still has the dream job he left Silicon Valley to pursue. He’s the Muppet performer bringing life to Gonzo, Dr. Bunsen Honeydew, Waldolf, Zoot and others. We’ll talk about the creative alchemy of Jim Henson’s Muppet universe with Goelz as well as Henson’s biographer and the curator of Imagination Unlimited, an exhibit about Henson which opens this week at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco.

You also can register for a free Zoom program “’The Best Idea Wins’: Dave Goelz and Larry Mirkin on Creativity and Collaboration” to be held April 24 at 11:00 a.m. Pacific.

(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

[Item by Cat Eldridge.]

Captain’s log. Using the light-speed breakaway factor, the Enterprise has moved back through time to the 20th century. We are now in extended orbit around Earth, using our ship’s deflector shields to remain unobserved. Our mission – historical research. We are monitoring Earth communications to find out how our planet survived desperate problems in the year 1968.

Fifty-four years ago on this evening, Star Trek’s “Assignment: Earth” first aired on NBC as part of the second season. Guest starring Robert Lansing as Gary Seven and Terri Garr as Roberta Lincoln, our crew which has time-travelled to 1968 Earth for historical research encounters an interstellar agent and Isis, his cat, who are planning to intervene in Earth history. 

It was directed by Marc Daniels whose firsy break in the business was directing the first thirty eight episodes of I Love Lucy. (Remember where Trek was produced.) This was one of fifteen Trek episodes he’d direct. He won a Hugo at NYCon 3 with Gene Roddenberry for Best Dramatic Presentation for “The Menagerie”. 

The story by Art Wallace and Gene Roddenberry. Wallace, who also did the teleplay,  is best remembered for his work on the soap opera Dark Shadows. Oh and he did some scripts for Tom Corbett, Space Cadet.

It was intended as a pilot for an Assignment: Earth series that Gene Roddenberry planned but that never happened. That is interesting story as though Roddenberry’s intent was that Lansing and Garr would continue in the series if it was commissioned, but since NBC was not involved in casting the backdoor pilot, it could and well might have been that NBC would insisted on changes or even completely recast the series had it picked up. 

Interesting note: The uncredited human form of Isis was portrayed by actress, dancer, and contortionist April Tatro, not Victoria Verti, actress (in Rosemary’s Baby under the name of Angela Dorian) and Playboy Playmate of the previous year, as would become part of Trek lore. Her identity was unknown until 2019 when The Trek Files podcast cited a production call sheet for extras dated the fifth of January for the year of broadcast. 

For decades now, fans had believed that the very briefly seen human form of the cat Isis was portrayed by actress Victoria Vetri. Many articles and websites treat that belief as revealed truth. Recently Vetri herself confirmed that she was not in the episode. No idea why the rumor started. 

Barbara Babcock, best remembered as Grace Gardner on Hill Street Blues, a most excellent series, was the Beta 5 computer voice (uncredited at the time) and she did the Isis’ cat vocalizations as well. Speaking of that cat, it was played by Sambo as you can see by this NBC memo. Interestingly Lansing though would later contradict that claiming that there were actually three black cats involved. I can’t confirm his claim elsewhere. 

Though this back door pilot did not enter production as a television series, both Seven and Roberta were featured in multiple stories and they were spun-off into a comic book series from IDW Publishing, Star Trek: Assignment: Earth by John Byrne. And there was the excellent novelization of the episode that Scott Dutton did for Catspaw Dynamics. I’ve read it and it’s quite superb.  

In addition, according to Memory Alpha, the source for all things Trek, “Seven and Lincoln have appeared in several Star Trek novels (Assignment: Eternity and the two-volume series, The Eugenics Wars: The Rise and Fall of Khan Noonien Singh by Greg Cox) and short stories (“The Aliens Are Coming!” by Dayton Ward in Strange New Worlds III, “Seven and Seven” by Kevin Hosey in Strange New Worlds VI and “Assignment: One” by Kevin Lauderdale in Strange New Worlds VIII).”

The plot concept of benevolent aliens secretively helping Earthlings was later resurrected by Roddenberry for The Questor Tapes film. That film was one of a series of television movies in which Roddenberry was involved — Genesis IIPlanet EarthStrange New World and Spectre. Need I say none made it past the stage of the initial television movie which served as a pilot? 

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 29, 1943 Eric Idle, 79. Monty Python is genre, isn’t it? If not, I know that The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, Yellowbeard, Monty Python and the Holy Grail (nominated at MidAmericaCon), Quest for CamelotShrek the Third and Nearly Departed, an updated version of Topper, which he all had a hand in certainly are. And it turns out he’s written a witty SF novel, The Road to Mars: A Post-Modern Novel, which involves an Android, comedy and interplanetary travel.
  • Born March 29, 1947 Patricia Anthony. Flanders is one damn scary novel. A ghost story set in WW I, it spooked me for nights after I read it and I don’t spook easily. Highly recommended.  James Cameron purchased  the movie rights to her Brother Termite novel and John Sayles wrote a script, but the movie has not been produced. Cold Allies was a Compton Crook Award finalist for best first novel. (Died 2013.)
  • Born March 29, 1950 Val Mayerik, 72. “Aw, clam up, bud! You don’t even know the meaning of the word! Finding yourself in a world of talking hairless apes–Now that’s absurdity!” —Howard the Duck. Mayerik is best known as the co-creator along with Steve Gerber of Howard the Duck. He first appeared in Adventure into Fear #19, a horror comic published by Marvel. However he was not Howard the Duck there as he had no name at all at this point – they named him later.
  • Born March 29, 1955 Marina Sirtis, 67. Counselor Deanna Troi in the Trekverse.  Waxwork II: Lost in Time as Gloria is her first true genre film role followed shortly by a one-off on the The Return of Sherlock Holmes series as Lucrezia. And then there’s her mid-Nineties voice acting as Demona on Gargoyles, quite possibly her best role to date. Skipping some one-offs on various genre series, her most recent appearance was on Picard where she and Riker are quite happily married.
  • Born March 29, 1956 Mary Gentle, 66. Her trilogy of Rats and GargoylesThe Architecture of Desire (an Otherwise nominee), and Left to His Own Devices, is a stunning work of alternate history with magic replacing science. Ash: A Secret History is superb, it won both a BSFA and a Sideways Award as well as being a finalist for a Clarke and a Campbell Memorial. 
  • Born March 29, 1957 Christopher Lambert, 65. He became famous by playing Tarzan in Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes. I however best remembered him as Connor MacLeod in Highlander in which he had one of the worst Scottish accents ever attempted. He’s the villain in the Ghost Rider sequel Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, but do we really have to mention that film?  And I absolutely refuse to admit that the first Highlander film spawned a series of sequels. Shudder! 
  • Born March 29, 1957 Elizabeth Hand, 65. Not even going to attempt to summarize her brilliant career. I will say that my fav works by her are the Shirley Jackson Award winning Wylding HallIllyria and Mortal Love. And let’s by no means overlook Waking the Moon which won both a Mythopoeic Award and an Otherwise Award. Her only Hugo nomination was at Renovation for her “The Maiden Flight of McCauley’s Bellerophon” novella. 
  • Born March 29, 1968 Lucy Lawless, 54. Xena in Xena: Warrior Princess and Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, cylon model Number Three D’Anna Biers on that Battlestar Galactica series. She also played Countess Palatine Ingrid von Marburg, the last of a line of Germanic witches on the Salem series. Her most recent genre role was Ruby Knowby, one of the Dark Ones, on the Ash vs Evil Dead series. Though not genre, she was Lucretia in Spartacus: Blood and Sand, its prequel Spartacus: Gods of the Arena and its sequel Spartacus: Vengeance.

(9) NEWS MINUTE. It’s definitely genre. Trust me. “How Will Smith Got A Standing Ovation During His Oscars Speech” from The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

(10) AUDIOBOOK KICKSTARTER. Student Loans Paid in Blood is joined by The Cursed Apps, the second volume in the “Hardboiled Magic” series for a two audiobook set, currently funding on Kickstarter.

“You know how everyone threatened to write a book during COVID?” asks author Todd Allen. “I actually did and returned to the Hardboiled Magic series. I’ve been away for too long.”

The audiobooks are performed by Erik Braa, known as the voice of Draven in the League of Legends series.

The campaign runs through Wednesday, April 27. Todd Allen encouraged us to link to the over 60 minutes of sample chapters available on the campaign page.

What does an occult detective do when a mad god owes him money? Follow the trail into a world of student loans paid off by ritual blood sacrifice, of industrial espionage that comes from beyond the grave and where urban renewal leaves a trail of corpses.

Here’s the book’s inciting incident, in its entirety:

In a desperate bid to prevent being ousted from his own company, a startup founder accidentally draws the attention of necromancers looking to protect their secrets. Occult attention spills over from the founder to his shady investor, whose entire portfolio becomes infested as a food delivery app delivers vampires, a dating app transmigrates souls and a social media influencer’s video game creates literal zombie followers. Are the apps cursed or is something else in play? It’s tale of death and revenge set against a sardonic look at the tech world and venture capital.

Here’s the inciting incident in its entirety:

(11) POMPEII AND CIRCUMSTANCES. Boston Dynamics’ Spot is the “Robot dog called in to help manage Pompeii” reports the Guardian.

…The dog-like robot is the latest in a series of technologies used as part of a broader project to better manage the archaeological park since 2013, when Unesco threatened to add Pompeii to a list of world heritage sites in peril unless Italian authorities improved its preservation….

A four-legged robot called Spot has been deployed to wander around the ruins of ancient Pompeii, identifying structural and safety issues while delving underground to inspect tunnels dug by relic thieves.

The dog-like robot is the latest in a series of technologies used as part of a broader project to better manage the archaeological park since 2013, when Unesco threatened to add Pompeii to a list of world heritage sites in peril unless Italian authorities improved its preservation.

Spot, made by the US-based Boston Dynamics, is capable of inspecting even the smallest of spaces while “gathering and recording data useful for the study and planning of interventions”, park authorities said.

The aim, they added, is to “improve both the quality of monitoring of the existing areas, and to further our knowledge of the state of progress of the works in areas undergoing recovery or restoration, and thereby to manage the safety of the site, as well as that of workers.”

(12) THUMBS UP, THUMBS OUT. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Douglas Adams talks about So Long And Thanks For All The Fish and chats about a “forthcoming” Hitchhikers film that never appeared in his lifetime in this clip from the David Letterman Show in 1985.

(13) A MOMENT OF PEACE. Peter Capaldi in 2016 reads a letter by British Captain Reginald John Armes to his wife about the Christmas Truce of 1914 during World War I.

On Christmas Eve of 1914, five months into World War I, something amazing happened: thousands of British and German troops on the Western Front decided to put down their weapons and greet each other peacefully. For the next few days, 100,000 men, British and German, chatted, exchanged gifts, sang carols, played football. They also, without fear, were able to buried their dead. On the evening of December 24th, the first day of the truce, Captain ‘Jack’ Armes wrote to his wife and described this incredible occurrence.

(14) THAT’S THE SPIRIT. Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed is a new game. Here’s the Official Reveal Trailer.

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Fanac.org has posted video of Rich and Nicki Lynch’s Mimosa 3.5 – a “live fanzine” done as a panel at Chattacon XIII on January 16, 1988. (You also can read the script in the PDF copy of Mimosa 4 hosted by the FANAC archive.)

Beginning with Doug Chaffee drawing the “cover” on camera, and ending with WAHF (“We Also Heard From”) excerpts from letters of comment, this recording really is Mimosa Live. Mimosa, edited by Rich and Nicki Lynch, was nominated for the Best Fanzine Hugo 14 times between 1991 and 2004, and won 6 times.

Articles in Mimosa 3.5 are read/performed by Chattacon guests Ron Goulart (who also draws another cover), Jack Chalker and Maurine Dorris. Julius (Julie) Schwartz makes an appearance with “The Amazing Flying Wollheims”. You’ll also see a very young Pat Malloy, Eva Chalker and others.

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

Pixel Scroll 3/26/22 How Can You Scroll In Two Pixels At Once When You’re Not Online At All

(1) FUTURE TENSE. “’Empathy Hour,’ a short story by Matt Bell” at Slate is the newest story in the Future Tense Fiction series from Future Tense and Arizona State University’s Center for Science and the Imagination about how technology and science will change our lives.

This week, like every week, it’s the theme song that calls you to attention, the music simultaneously jaunty, patriotic, inspirational, commanding. As the fade-in begins, the tune gives way to the whup-whup-whup of unseen rotors, the familiar sound preceding your first glimpse of a helicopter’s wash rippling the dark water surrounding a half-drowned house, where this week’s family balances awkwardly atop their roof’s wind-peeled slope, desperate for rescue: a mother, a father, two preteen daughters, and an especially attractive Australian cattle dog….

Bell’s story is followed by a response essay “What are we going to do with more than 200 million climate refugees?” by Tim Robustelli and Yuliya Panfil.

It’s already happening. Millions in low-lying Bangladesh are fleeing stronger cyclones and increased coastal flooding. After Hurricane Maria, thousands of Puerto Ricans have left behind their blue-tarped homes for the mainland United States. And farmers from the Sahel to Central America are abandoning their dried-up fields in droves.

The increasingly dire effects of climate change are resulting in unprecedented levels of displacement globally. And it’s going to get worse: The World Bank recently estimated that there could be more than 200 million “climate refugees” by 2050. Experts suggest that about one-quarter of them will move overseas, while the rest will migrate within their own countries.

What will happen to these migrants as they leave their homes and livelihoods, and how will their new communities receive them?…

(2) SMALL CRAFT WARNING. “Puppet Makers Rise Up Against the Puppet Masters” – and The Hollywood Reporter is on the front lines.

As they push for unionization, craftspeople at the The Jim Henson Company say they are treated as an underclass, subject to abuse and unsafe conditions: “The job of the wrangler is eating sh** and taking blame.”

… There are only about 25 people in the world who work as full-time wranglers — and they are currently seeking union representation, something that has eluded them since the job first emerged with the rise of Sesame Street and The Muppet Show in the late 1970s….

(3) PULLMAN QUITS AS SOA PRESIDENT. “‘I would not be free to express my opinion’: Philip Pullman steps down as Society of Authors president” – the Guardian has the story.

Philip Pullman has stepped down as president of the Society of Authors (SoA) after comments he made about Kate Clanchy’s controversial memoir, Some Kids I Taught and What They Taught Me. In a letter sent to the SoA’s management committee this month, the children’s author said he “would not be free to express [his] personal opinion” as long as he remained in the role.

Pullman, who will remain a member of the trade union’s council, came under fire last year when he spoke out in support of Some Kids I Taught and What They Taught Me, which was criticised for racial and ableist stereotyping. In response to a tweet that he incorrectly assumed was about Clanchy, Pullman, in a now-deleted tweet, said that those who criticised the book without reading it would “find a comfortable home in Isis or the Taliban”.

The SoA released a statement at the time distancing itself from Pullman’s comments, and Pullman later tweeted an apology for the harm he caused, saying criticism of Clanchy was “reasonable and balanced” and that people of colour “deserve every kind of respect”.

However, as the controversy around Clanchy continues – she and her publisher “parted ways” in January – Pullman clearly felt that he could no longer remain in his role….

(4) MORE BANG FOR YOUR BUCK. Another part of the story “J.K. Rowling hits back at Putin after he likened Russia to her in rant against cancel culture” that should have been mentioned here yesterday is how Rowling’s charity is doing matching donations in support of Ukraine.

…Rowling previously revealed that her children’s charity, Lumos, had been working with the Ukrainian government since 2013, and she launched a fundraising appeal the day after the Russian invasion to help “the thousands of children trapped by the fighting in Ukraine’s orphanages.”

“A reminder: I will personally match all donations to our emergency appeal, up to £1million ($1.3 million). If you’re able to, you can donate here. Again, thank you so very much to all who’ve already donated,” she tweeted Friday.

(5) WHO KNEW? Slate explains why “Cross-stitch stores disappeared after Etsy banned Russian sellers.”

Since Russia’s “special operation” began in Ukraine, Western brands have been exiting the country rapidly, making it much harder to find carsfurniturephones, and clothes. But the change has also affected more unexpected businesses. In early March, after PayPal announced shutting down its services in Russia, Etsy suspended Russian shops “due to expanding business restrictions, including multiple payment processors and credit cards ceasing operations in Russia.”

This is how many American fans of cross-stitch—a needle craft in which you stitch tiny X’s over and over to create a design on fabric—discovered that many of their favorite digital pattern designers are from Russia. Cross-stitchers will pay anywhere from about $3 for small, simple patterns to much more for large, complex designs, all of which can be downloaded instantly after purchase. They can also pay large sums for custom designs. After Etsy pulled the plug on Russia, shops with thousands of five-star reviews and large numbers of sales disappeared at once. “Did cross-stitch pattern makers go through a purge or something?” a Reddit user wondered. In a way, yes—and it’s a fascinating example of how even the digital supply chain can be concentrated in one geographic area….

(6) GARETH POWELL Q&A. FanFiAddict chatted with Gareth L. Powell, author of Stars and Bones.

Join FanFiAddict’s Adrian M. Gibson and author Gareth L. Powell for a chat about his new book Stars and Bones, its timely themes, the mentorship of Diana Wynne Jones and Helen Dunmore, paying it forward with a “field guide” on writing, the appeal of writing space opera and accessible sci-fi, social media and mental health and much more.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Gareth L. Powell is a BSFA award-winning author who writes science fiction about extraordinary characters wrestling with the question of what it means to be human. This includes works like the Embers of War series, the Ack-Ack Macaque series, the novellas Ragged Alice and Light Chaser, the latter of which he wrote with Peter F. Hamilton, and more. His latest novel, Stars and Bones, is out now through Titan Books.

(7) WHO’S GOT NEXT? Bleeding Cool has a wonderful article tracing the decades-long history of fake Who news: “When British Tabloids Made Up Stories About The Next Doctor Who”.

…But secondly, this is what British tabloids do. And have done for decades. When it was announced that William Hartnell would no longer play The Doctor, the British press asked the question, just didn’t suggest they had the answers….

The speculation would only really begin with the departure of Tom Baker at The Doctor in 1980. Which was also the time that the suggestion first arose about a female Doctor Who. Clearly, the “woke” 1980 for you there….

(8) FOR BETTER OR MULTIVERSE. At CrimeReads, Josh Weiss recommends alternate history novels, mostly of the “Hitler Wins” variety.  “10 Must-Read Alternate History Thrillers”.

The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, Michael Chabon (2007)

This book was recommended to me by a friend in college. Hearing him describe the concept was a mind-blowing experience in and of itself. European-Jewish refugees settling Alaska at the outbreak of WWII? A thriving modern American town that speaks Yiddish? Ultra-Orthodox mafia bosses? This I had to see for myself….

(9) SWIFT WILL SPIN. “Tom Swift: The CW Confirms May Debut for ‘Nancy Drew’ Spinoff Series”Bleeding Cool describes the planned adaptation.

…’Tom Swift’ follows the serialized adventures of its titular character (Richards), an exceptionally brilliant inventor with unlimited resources and unimaginable wealth who is thrust into a world of sci-fi conspiracy and unexplained phenomena after the shocking disappearance of his father. Tom takes to the road on a quest to unravel the truth, leaving behind the comforts of his usual moneyed lifestyle while fighting to stay one step ahead of an Illuminati-scale group that’s hellbent on stopping him.

Ashleigh Murray plays Zenzi, Tom’s best friend, whose unabashed and unvarnished candor keeps him grounded while she forges a path for herself as a business visionary. Marquise Vilsón is his bodyguard Isaac, whose fierce commitment to his chosen family is complicated by his own simmering feelings for Tom. LeVar Burton voices Barclay, Tom’s AI, whose insights and tough love have been a constant throughout Tom’s life, Albert Mwangi is the mysterious and dangerous Rowan, who intersects Tom’s path with hidden motivations and undeniable mutual chemistry. Meanwhile, at home, Tom’s relationship with his mother Lorraine (April Parker Jones) becomes conflicted as she urges him to take his father’s place in elite Black society.

(10) MEMORY LANE.

1989 — [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Thirty-three years ago, the Quantum Leap series premiered on NBC.

Created by  Donald P. Bellisario (Tales of The Golden MonkeyAirWolf), it starred Scott Bakula as the time-travelling Sam Beckett and the cigar chomping Dean Stockwell as his holographic contact from the future, Admiral Al Calavicci. The series would air on NBC for five seasons and a total of ninety-seven episodes, gaining a large following after a very mediocre start. 

So what was the reception for it at the the time? The New York Times liked it with these parting words: “Overall, ‘Quantum Leap’ has the distinction of being unpredictable, which is the last thing that can be said about the vast bulk of television series. And Mr. Bakula and Mr. Stockwell make the most of their leaping opportunities.” 

It has generated an immense fictional universe with at least twenty authorized novels to date (edited by Ginjer Buchanan!) and a universe of fan fiction, some that would make even Al turn red. There are non-fiction works such as The Making of Quantum Leap and Beyond the Mirror Image which was done as a Kickstarter endeavor. And Innovation Publishing did a thirteen-issue comic series as well. 

A sequel series coming on Peacock later this year is set thirty years after the original series ended and attempts to figure what happened to Sam Beckett. 

Quantum Leap has a stellar 97% rating by the audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. 

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 26, 1924 Peter George. Welsh author, most remembered for the late Fifties Red Alert novel, published first as Two Hours To Doom and written under the name of Peter Bryant. The book was the basis of Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. (Died 1966.)
  • Born March 26, 1931 Leonard Nimoy. I really don’t need to say who he played on Trek, do I? Did you know his first role was as a zombie in Zombies of the Stratosphere? Or that he did a a lot of Westerns ranging from Broken Arrow in which he played various Indians to The Tall Man in which at least his character had a name, Deputy Sheriff Johnny Swift. His other great genre role was on Mission: Impossible as The Great Paris, a character whose real name was never revealed, who was a retired magician. It was his first post-Trek series. He of course showed up on the usual other genre outings such as The Twilight Zone, The Man from U.N.C.L.E.The Outer Limits, Night Gallery and Get Smart. (Died 2015.)
  • Born March 26, 1942 Erica Jong, 80. Witches which has amazing illustrations by Joseph A. Smiths is very much still worth your time nearly forty years on. ISFDB also lists Shylock’s Daughter: A Novel of Love in Venice which is a time travel story but it certainly sounds more like a romance novel to me. 
  • Born March 26, 1950 K. W. Jeter, 72. Farewell Horizontal may or may not be punk of any manner but it’s a great read. Morlock Night, his sequel  to The Time Machine, is well-worth reading. I’ve heard good things about his Blade Runner sequels but haven’t read them. Opinions? And his wiki page says he coined the term “steampunk”. That so? 
  • Born March 26, 1953 Christopher Fowler, 69. I started reading him when I encountered his Bryant & May series which though explicitly not genre does feature a couple of protagonists who are suspiciously old. Possibly a century or more now. The mysteries may or may not have genre aspects (some such as Seventy Seven Clocks are definitely genre) but all are wonderfully weird. Other novels by him which I’d recommend are Roofworld and Rune which really are genre, and Hell Train which is quite delicious horror.
  • Born March 26, 1960 Brenda Strong, 62. First film genre appearance was on Spaceballs as Nurse Gretchen. The role you probably remember her was on Starship Troopers as Captain Deladier though post-death she shows up in Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation as Sergeant Dede Rake. She showed up on Next Gen as a character named Rashella in the “When the Bough Breaks” episode and she’s been a regular on Supergirl as Lillian Luthor.
  • Born March 26, 1966 Michael Imperioli, 56. Detective Len Fenerman in Peter Jackson’s The Lovely Bones and Detective Ray Carling, the lead in Life on Mars and Rosencrantz in a recent Hamlet.
  • Born March 26, 1985 Keira Knightley, 37. To my surprise, and this definitely shows I’m not Star Wars geek, she was  Sabé, The Decoy Queen, in The Phantom Menace.  Next up for her is Princess of Thieves, a loose adaptation of the Robin Hood legend. Now I didn’t see that but I did see her in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl as Elizabeth Swann. (She’s in several more of these films.) I saw her as Guinevere, an odd Guinevere indeed, in King Arthur. Her last role I must note was as The Nutcracker and the Four Realms in which she was the Sugar Plum Fairy! 

(12) NOT DEAD YET. The Comics Journal considers “The Strange Second Life of Legacy Comic Strips or: I Want Wilbur Weston Dead”.

…It was a bathetic end for a shlub of a man… or was it? Because only a few short days after Wilbur’s fall, [Mary Worth] readers were confronted with a single panel depicting a bedraggled, pink-shirted man, glasses still on his head and one shoe left on his feet, washing up on the shores of a desert island….

…“I WANT WILBUR WESTON DEAD” declared one reader, as if to will the outcome into the world. “We as a society need to organize a beach-storming on the scale of Normandy, all to ensure that Wilbur Weston remains dead,” offered another. Comics critic Tom Shapira put forward the still-intriguing hypothesis that Wilbur was about to undergo the origin story of a familiar DC Comics superhero. It was the brief, ephemeral, but powerful buzz of a minor comics Twitter zeitgeist, all of which led me to a single question: what in God’s name was going on here?…

…Mary Worth is therefore a prime example of what has been termed a legacy strip: a comic strip that has outlived (often literally) its original creators, and been passed along to new hands while maintaining continuity in syndication. Glance at the comic page of a daily print newspaper, if you can still find one, and you’ll see that the list is long and, arguably, ignominious: BlondieThe Family CircusHagar the HorribleThe Wizard of IdBeetle BaileyRex Morgan M.D. Not for nothing have these features been given the less charitable and more common description of zombie strips.

And yet: the Wilbur Weston episode intrigued me. Because if a strip like Mary Worth–a strip that, with one exception I’ll discuss a bit later, I had never had cause to consider anything more than an innocuous presence in my grandparents’ daily Los Angeles Times–could generate a week of Twitter conversation among pandemic-jaded millennials, then there was clearly some kind of life in this allegedly undead comic. I wanted to understand why this might have happened, and more than that, I wanted to know what Mary Worth’s current creators thought about it. So I asked them.

(13) ROSE AGAIN. Seventeen years ago today Doctor Who returned with the episode “Rose” on BBC One. Here’s a clip collage to help you celebrate.

(14) GROUNDBREAKING GROUND BEEF. Mashed remembers “Why Burger King’s ’70s Star Wars Promotion Was So Groundbreaking”.

… The relationship between the burger giant and the iconic media franchise goes back decades to when its original movie trilogy was released. According to Finance 101, the original “Star Wars” film (now referred to as “Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope”) was released in 1977 and was the highest-grossing film of all time until “E.T.” — another iconic character from outside our world — came into the picture in 1982. Burger King then made its own groundbreaking move in connection with this first “Star Wars” movie. 

It may be hard to imagine a time when an onslaught of fast-food toy tie-ins seemingly accompanied the release of nearly every major animated motion picture. Yet according to Wide Open Eats, fast-food restaurants didn’t cross-promote movies prior to 1977, the year Burger King broke history by promoting “Star Wars.” The first-of-its-kind marketing strategy included “Star Wars” posters, stickers, and drinking glasses (via Fast Food Reference)…

(15) SPOT ON. They should end up with a better image as fire dogs instead of police dogs: “See ‘Spot’ Save: Robot Dogs Join the New York Fire Department” reports the New York Times.

… The Police Department cut short its contract with Boston Dynamics last April after critics raised concerns about privacy, data collection, aggressive police tactics and the generally dystopian vibes the robot gave off as it trotted through a public housing development during a hostage situation.

Fire officials and robotics experts say the way the department plans to use the robots might help reshape the perception of their use for public safety purposes.

At the command of a human operator, the device can provide vital information in the midst of a calamitous event. It has the ability to descend deep underground after a steam leak to collect images and data about dangerous debris. It can also be deployed moments after a building collapse to gauge structural integrity or measure the concentration of toxic, flammable gasses like carbon monoxide to better inform firefighters responding to the scene….

(16) SECOND STAGE LENSMAN. Filmmaking in Britain will continue to grow if the tax laws cooperate: “A Hollywood Production (Made in Liverpool)”  in the New York Times.

…The early “Star Wars” films and 10 years’ worth of Harry Potter movies helped Britain get here. Film productions were attracted by experienced labor and visual effects companies and, critically, generous tax breaks. In 2013, the incentives were extended to TV productions that cost more than £1 million per broadcast hour — so-called high-end TV series, like “The Crown” and “Game of Thrones.” In recent years, productions were offered a 25 percent cash rebate on qualifying expenditures, such as visual effects done in Britain. In the 2020-21 fiscal year, tax breaks for film, TV, video games, children’s television and animation exceeded £1.2 billion.

In Britain, film gets a level of government attention that other creative industries, such as live theater, can only dream of.

“I would not like to contemplate the loss of the tax incentive,” said Ben Roberts, the chief executive of the British Film Institute. Without it, Britain would become immediately uncompetitive, he added.

Most of the growth in production in Britain comes from big-budget TV shows, a staple of streaming channels. Last year, 211 high-end TV productions filmed in Britain, such as “Ted Lasso” and “Good Omens,” and fewer than half of them were produced solely by British companies, according to the British Film Institute. Compared with 2019, the amount spent jumped by 85 percent to £4.1 billion.

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Says Sang Joon Kim, “Imagine if your life is stressed out now, but it would be much worse if everyone you run into is a pigeon!”

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

Pixel Scroll 3/20/22 The Cardinality Of The Reals

(1) AN ORDERLY ILLUSION. The Daily Californian’s Logan Roscoe, in “Bureaucratizing science fiction”, analyzes the use of architectural design in New Weird visuals.

…When playing Controlthe player fights interdimensional enemies, but in every background, they see an attempt at subjecting the supernatural to a distinctly human authority. When watching “Loki,” the watcher is baffled by the mysteries of time travel and elusive authoritarians, but in every background, they see an attempt at condensing those mysteries into something understood. When watching “Legion,” the viewer is captivated by sights such as an interview room positioned upside down, dangling above an entire city; but in every background, they see a need for such an interview room — characters lost and scrambling for ways to understand the phenomena that make every cell in their bodies scream in discomfort. In all of these pieces of media, the humans try to colonize the unknown before it colonizes them….

(2) THERE’S KNOW PLACE LIKE HOME. Jennifer Bernstein studies the reasons for “Edith Wharton’s Ghosts” in the Boston Review.

… This disposition of unease followed her into adulthood. She married Edward Robbins Wharton (Teddy) in 1885; the two traveled extensively until Teddy’s depression anchored him to The Mount, a melancholy that seems to have bled into Edith’s psyche. Wharton lived some happy years there, famously writing in bed with her little dogs, but gradually became disillusioned with the house she had once loved, even coming to find it sinister and threatening. Her marriage deteriorated; after verbal abuse and violent episodes of hysteria on Teddy’s part and infidelity by both parties, Edith moved to Paris, and Teddy sold the house without her consent in 1911. They divorced two years later. Wharton would never again live in the United States.

So the symbol of her self-invention became something Wharton hated and feared. Amidst her marital and emotional turmoil, did Wharton really believe The Mount was haunted? Subsequent occupants shared her suspicions; some reported hearing strange noises and seeing spectral figures. The estate, now open to the public as a house museum, offers a popular ghost tour, promising the chance to see apparitions of past denizens, caretakers, groundskeepers, and tragic suicides.

But the question of Wharton’s own beliefs is perhaps the wrong one to ask. In the preface to Ghosts, Wharton adumbrates her view that belief in the supernatural is not an act of the intellect. Rather, it is “in the warm darkness of the pre-natal fluid far below our conscious reason that the faculty dwells with which we apprehend the ghosts we may not be endowed with the gift of seeing.” …

(3) SUN SETS ON YURI’S NIGHT. “Space Conference Censors Name of First Human in Space Because He Was Russian” says Futurism in a disapproving article.

Whipping themselves into a Freedom Fries-esque fit of censoriousness, a space industry conference has removed the name of celebrated Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, the first human to travel into space, from an event.

The nonprofit Space Foundation announced  in a now-deleted note that “in light of current world events” it would be changing the name of a fundraiser from “Yuri’s Night” to “A Celebration of Space: Discover What’s Next” at its Space Symposium conference.

“The focus of this fundraising event remains the same — to celebrate human achievements in space while inspiring the next generation to reach for the stars,” the deleted update notes.

… Erasing the name of the first person to ever fly to space while supposedly celebrating “human achievements in space” is bad enough.

But doing so in line with the milquetoast trend of disavowing all things Russian, including famous composers and food products, amid the country’s current invasion of Ukraine is just outrageous….

(4) ESSAY: GINJER BUCHANAN [Item by Cat Eldridge]

I have come to honor one of our most excellent Editors ever. She was the Editor-in-Chief at Ace Books and Roc Books where she stayed for a stellar thirty years before retiring. Prior to that, she was consulting editor for the Star Trek tie-ins at Pocket Books and an outside reader for the Science Fiction Book Club. And yes, she was active in fandom from an early age which included being a founding member of the Western Pennsylvania Science Fiction Association or WOOPSPA or as it was affectionately known as she noted in a Locus interview.

Berkley president and publisher Leslie Gelbman upon her retirement said  of her:  “During her thirty years with Ace and Roc, Ginjer was essential in growing our science fiction and fantasy list and launching the careers of several bestselling authors. Her love for the genre and books in general and dedication to her authors is unparalleled, and she’s a key reason Ace/Roc is one of the preeminent science fiction-fantasy publishers.”

She won a Hugo at Loncon 3 for Best Editor, Long Form and was nominated for the same at Nippon 2007, Denvention 3, Anticipation, Aussiecon 4 and Renovation.

She won the Nebula Solstice Award in 2013, and the same year saw her garner the Edward E. Smith Memorial Award for Imaginative Fiction. She was nominated in 2006 for a World Fantasy Award for a Special Award, Professional for her work Ace Books but alas did not win. 

She was the Toastmaster at the World Fantasy Convention in 1989, and a Guest of Honor at ArmadilloCon in 1988, Foolscap in 2000 and at OryCon in 2008. Ginjer Buchanan was also a Guest of Honor at the Dublin 2019 Worldcon. And she will be a GOH at World Fantasy Con in New Orleans in 2022.

And yes, she’s written fiction. Her sole novel is a Highlander series tie-in, White Silence. She’s also penned three short pieces of fiction, “The End of Summer by The Great Sea” in the Alternate Kennedys anthology,  Cathachresis” in the More Whatdunits anthology, and “If Horses Were Wishes …“ in the By Any Other Fame anthology. The first two are edited by Mike Resnick alone, the last by Resnick and Martin H. Greenberg. 

Being a serious Firefly fan, she has an essay, “Who Killed Firefly?” in the Jane Espenson edited Finding Serenity: Anti-Heroes, Lost Shepherds and Space Hookers in Joss Whedon’s Firefly collection. Being a fan of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series, she penned “The Journey of Jonathan Levenson: From Scenery to Sacrifice” which was in Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Watcher’s Guide, Volume 3 edited by Paul Ruditis. 

Oh, and she has one published poem, “Four Views of Necon” published in Cemetery Dance’s The Big Book of Necon anthology edited by Bob Booth.

All in all, an amazing individual who has contributed in oh so many ways to our community, so let’s toast her now as she so richly deserves to be. 

(5) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 20, 1932 Jack Cady. He won the Nebula Award, the World Fantasy Award, and the Bram Stoker Award, an impressive feat indeed. McDowell’s Ghost gives a fresh spin on the trope of seeing seeing a War Between The States ghost, and The Night We Buried Road Dog is another ghost story set in early Sixties Montana. Underland Press printed all of his superb short fiction into two volumes, Phantoms: Collected Writings, Volume 1 and Fathoms: Collected Writings, Volume. He had a Hugo nomination at ConAdian for his novella The Night We Buried Road Dog”. (Died 2004.)
  • Born March 20, 1948 Pamela Sargent, 74. She has three exemplary series of which I think the Seed trilogy, a unique take on intergenerational colony ships, is the one I like the best. The other two series, the Venus trilogy about a women determined to terraform that world at all costs is quite good, and there is the Watchstar trilogywhich I know nothing about. Nor have I read any of her one-off novels, so please do tell me about them. Her “Danny Goes to Mars” novelette won a Nebula and was nominated for the same at ConFrancisco. She was given the Kevin O’Donnell Jr. Service to SFWA Award. 
  • Born March 20, 1948 John de Lancie, 74. Best known for his role as Q in the Trek multiverse, though I was more fond of him as Janos Barton in Legend which stars Richard Dean Anderson (if you’ve not seen it, go now and watch it).  He was also Jack O’Neill’s enemy Frank Simmons in Stargate SG-1. He has an impressive number of one-offs on genre shows including The Six Million Dollar ManBattlestar Galactica (1978 version), The New Twilight ZoneMacGyverMission: Impossible (the Australian edition which is quite excellent), Get Smart, Again!Batman: The Animated Series, and I’m going to stop there. He’s currently reprising Q in the second season of Picard
  • Born March 20, 1950 William Hurt. He made his first film appearance as a troubled scientist in Ken Russell’s Altered States, an making film indeed. He’s next up as Doug Tate in Alice, a Woody Allen film. Breaking his run of weird roles, he shows in Lost in Space as Professor John Robinson. Dark City and the phenomenal role of  Inspector Frank Bumstead followed for him. He was in A.I. Artificial Intelligence as Professor Allen Hobby and performed the character of William Marshal in Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood. Up next was horror film Hellgate and his role as Warren Mills,and Jebediah from Winter’s Tale. His final, to date that is, is in Avengers: Infinity War as Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross. Two series roles of notes, the first being in the SyFy Frank Herbert’s Dune as Duke Leto I Atreides. Confession: the digitised blue eyes bugged me so much that I couldn’t watch it. His other role worth noting is Hrothgar in Beowulf: Return to the Shieldlands. (Died 2022.)
  • Born March 20, 1955 Nina Kiriki Hoffman, 67. Her first novel, The Thread That Binds the Bones, won the Bram Stoker Award for first novel. In addition, her short story “Trophy Wives” won a Nebula Award for Best Short Story. Other novels include The Silent Strength of Stones (a sequel to Thread), A Fistful of Sky, and A Stir of Bones. All are amazingly excellent. Most of her work has a strong sense of regionalism being set in either California or the Pacific Northwest. 
  • Born March 20, 1962 Stephen Sommers, 60. He’s responsible for two of my very favorite pulpish films, The Mummy and The Mummy Returns which he directed and wrote. He also did the same for Van Helsing, and the live action version of Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book. No, I’ve not seen it, so how is it? Not that he’s perfect as he did all four of the Scorpion King films…
  • Born March 20, 1970 Cathy DeBuono, 52. If you were observant, you noticed her as M’Pella, a dabo girl who worked in Quark’s on Deep Space 9 during the last three seasons for an amazing fifty two episodes. She also worked on the series as a stand-in, photo double, and body double for Terry Farrell. She received no on-screen credits until her final appearance in “The Dogs of War” episode
Cathy DeBuono
  • Born March 20, 1979 Freema Agyeman, 43. Best known for playing Martha Jones in Doctor Who, companion to the Tenth Doctor. She reprised that role briefly in Torchwood. She voiced her character on The Infinite Quest, an animated Doctor Who serial. Currently she’s on Sense8 as Amanita Caplan. And some seventeen years ago, she was involved in a live production of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld’s Lords and Ladies held in Rollright Stone Circle Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire. It was presented out of doors in the centre of two stone circles. She’s continued her Martha Jones role in the Big Finish audio productions. 

(6) COLLECTOR’S ITEM. The New York Post listens to the register ringing as “First-ever Marvel comic nabs whopping $2.4M at auction”.

A particularly prized copy of the first-ever Marvel comic book fetched more than $2.4 million in an online auction, the auctioneer said Friday.

Known as the Marvel Comics #1 “pay copy,” it’s “arguably one of the top three comic books in the world of comics collecting,” said Vincent Zurzolo, chief operating officer of ComicConnect. The New York-based auctioneer sold the book Thursday night for a bit under $2,427,800.

The buyer’s name has not been disclosed. He is “an extremely passionate comic book collector and investor” who also collects other items, Zurzolo said.

Published in 1939, Marvel Comics #1 introduced characters including Sub-Mariner and the original Human Torch, a precursor of the character of the same name that was later a member of Marvel’s Fantastic Four. The book launched what became the Marvel universe of comics, movies, TV shows and video games….

(7) WEAVER OF TANGLED WEBS. Spider-Man: No Way Home special effects supervisor Kelly Port discusses what he did on the film in this video from Vanity Fair that dropped Friday. “How ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’ Visual Effects Were Made”.

(8) ROBOSMACKDOWN. “‘More Than Robots’ Review: An International Battle” in the New York Times.

… Despite the movie’s title, robots are, in fact, the subject and spectacle of this lighthearted film.

Working in groups over the course of several weeks, young inventors participate in the FIRST Robotics Competition to create industrial-size robots that are complex enough to move automatically, shoot projectiles and even climb. The organization that runs the competition was founded by the inventor Dean Kamen, who wanted to host an event that would develop the skills of young engineers. (The international reach of the competition drew powerful patrons: When the organizers of the tournament present the season’s challenge, they acknowledge that the competition is sponsored by Lucasfilm.)

The documentary follows four teams in early 2020 as they prepare for regional competitions in Japan, Mexico and California. The most memorable scenes come from the two teams in Los Angeles, each led by their teachers Fazlul and Fatima, who are also a married couple. Despite the apparent differences in funding between the two schools, both mentors encourage their students to build robots that stand up to the hard knocks of engineering battles….

(9) ANIME NEWS. A trailer for a new Netflix anime series “Tekken: Bloodline”

(10) WHAT’S MISSING. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In this video, Patrick WIlliens, self-proclaimed Batman nerd. wonders what happened to Robin in most of the versions of Batman released this century.  He notes that Batman co-creator Bill Finger created Robin to be Watson to Batman’s Holmes and give Batman someone to talk to, and thinks that having an age-appropirate Batman (not 13 and not an adult) would make Batman more human and less broody and obsessed. “Why Are Batman Movies Afraid Of Robin?”

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

Pixel Scroll 2/23/22 You Encounter A File Of Pixels. Scroll For Initiative

(1) NOVELETTES ARE ADDED. David Steffan announced that the Indiegogo appeal to fund The Long List Anthology Volume 7 has achieved its final stretch goal —

Today, with 5 days to go in the campaign, we passed the Novelettes stretch goal which adds 10 novelettes to the anthology.  Since novelettes have a longer word count, this more than doubles the word count of the book.  Thank you to everyone who has backed to make this happen!

Steffan unveiled the complete cover when 75% of the novelette goal was reached earlier this month. Artwork by Elaine Ho.

(2) SUPER BLOOPERS. SYFY Wire alerted readers to these gems of unintentional comedy: “Peacemaker: James Gunn shares Season 1 gag reel”.

The Suicide Squad’s most muscled-up anti-hero put on a rambling, raunchy good show in the just-concluded debut outing of Peacemaker at HBO Max. Now that Season 1 is done (and with orders already placed for more new episodes), creator James Gunn has a parting gift for viewers: a huge 9-minute gag reel that’s every bit as funny as the main event itself….

(3) FAUX POE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Baltimore Sun, Mary Carole McCauley says researchers at Johns Hopkins have unearthed a manuscript for an 1827 song called “Mr. Po” which allegedly has an inscription from Edgar Allan Poe to 13-year-old bride, Virginia Clemm.  The researchers think the inscription is probably forged but have no idea why a Poe forger would want to fake sheet music. “Johns Hopkins curators examine musical mystery linked to Edgar Allan Poe”.

… “It’s very confusing,” said Sam Bessen, who discovered the sheet music buried in a box at Johns Hopkins University’s Sheridan Libraries. “If it’s a forgery, it’s a pretty bold one. Why would someone go to all this trouble?

“If you’re going to try to forge a document by Poe, why would you forge something in musical notation instead of trying to pass off a ‘lost poem’? If this were legitimate, it would be the only known example of musical notation in Poe’s hand that I’m aware of.”

The investigation into the document’s origins and history is continuing; there’s always a chance, experts say, that an as-yet undiscovered clue will resolve the question of authenticity beyond any doubt.

Meanwhile, Johns Hopkins curators are encouraging amateur sleuths to examine the sheet music for themselves when it goes on view next month at the George Peabody Library, in the exhibit “Grace Notes in American History: 200 Years of Songs From the Lester Levy Sheet Music Collection.”

Reasons for suspecting forgery are given later in the article.

(4) FURY ROAD FUELLED BY … FURY? [Item by Olav Rokne.] Vanity Fair has an excerpt from a book on the making of Mad Max: Fury Road, which I still think is one of the best movies of the past two decades. But I gotta say, Tom Hardy does not come across very well in the behind-the-scenes discussions. “’It Was Horrible’: Inside Charlize Theron and Tom Hardy’s ‘Mad Max’ War”. From the article: 

He was quite aggressive. She really felt threatened, and that was the turning point, because then she said, “I want someone as protection.” 

(5) YOU CAN CHECK OUT ANY TIME YOU LIKE. The author of a “time travel hotel detective novel” chats with CrimeReads.“Why Rob Hart Needed to Write a Time Travel Hotel Detective Novel”.

DS: Was there an original inspiration for Paradox Hotel?

RH: I had gone to this interactive theater experience in New York called Sleep No More which I’m a huge fan of. It’s structured as a play that you explore, following different actors and different scenes. It starts in a hotel and expands out: all of sudden you’re in a graveyard or a psych ward or a forest. And I thought, “Man! Wouldn’t it be cool if there was a hotel where you could go into a room and it was five minutes later or ten minutes ago?” I went home and opened a Google doc and wrote “time-travel hotel,” and then closed it. I do that whenever I have an idea – I’ll start a Google doc and rough something out: sometimes I come back to it, sometimes I don’t. This one kept sticking with me especially because I love time-travel stories.

(6) ROBOTIC DRAMA. CNET’s Jennifer Bisset admonishes readers, “Don’t Skip This Impressive Sci-Fi Mystery in Prime Video’s Back Catalog”.

… Aside from cute robots, Archive explores a familiar story already covered by the likes of Black Mirror. But it’s the delivery that makes Archive impressive. It’s a story about artificial intelligence, grief and loss that moves at a steady pace but always keeps enough gears humming to hold your focus on the screen. Surprisingly, much of the tension simmers between the robots themselves.

The two big story strands come together for the final third, almost in perfect unison. You’re set up to anticipate the mystery of George’s past unfurling into the light, while the consequences of tinkering with sentient robots arrive right on cue. (And then that aforementioned final twist bonks us on the head.)…

(7) MEMORY LANE.

1954 [Item by Cat Eldridge] Sixty-eight years ago, Rocky Jones, Space Ranger premiered in syndicationThis was the first SF show to be entirely pre-filmed instead of being televised live as was the case with the Captain Video,  Buck Rogers and Tom Corbett series 

It was also the first to use sets of unusual good quality, live location shoots, and quite decent special effects. Rocky Jones was played by Richard Crane. Sally Mansfield played Vena Ray, his navigator and translator. She had an unusually strong female role for the time. 

It was created by Roland D. Reed and written by Warren Wilson, Arthur Hoerl and Marianne Mosner, with Hollingsworth Morse being the director. None of them had a background in SF.

It lasted but two seasons as it never really caught on with the public. Story wise, it actually had a great deal of continuity built into it unlike almost all of the other series at the time. Its thirty-nine episodes in length, each twenty-five minutes in length, aired originally between February 23rd and November 16th, 1954. 

A pilot had been filmed two years earlier but much of the cast was recast for the series. And a publicity push was done leading up to the actual broadcast with lots of goodies including badges, buttons, clothing, records, comics books and space dollars produced to promote the show. Even model rocket ship kits were sold which you can find on eBay though they’re not cheap these days. 

You can see the first episode here.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born February 23, 1930 Gerry Davis. Mid-Sixties Story Editor on Doctor Who where he created companion Jamie McCrimmon and co-created the Cybermen along with unofficial scientific adviser Dr. Kit Pedler. They would create the Doomwatch series that ran in the Sixties on BBC. Davis briefly returned to writing for the series, penning the first script for Revenge of the Cybermen, though his script was largely abandoned by editor Robert Holmes. In 1989 he and Terry Nation, who created the Daleks, made a failed bid to take over production of the series and reformat it for the American market. (Died 1991.)
  • Born February 23, 1932 Majel Barrett. No doubt best remembered for being Star Trek’s  Nurse Christine Chapel and Lwaxana Troi, as well as for being the voice of most of the ship computer interfaces throughout the series. I’ll note that she was originally cast as Number One in the unused Pilot but the male studio heads hated the idea of a female in that role. Early Puppies obviously. (Died 2008.)
  • Born February 23, 1965 Jacob Weisman, 57. Founder, Tachyon Publications, which you really should go look at as they’ve published every great author I’d care to read. Seriously Tidhar, Beagle and Yolen are among their newest releases! He also edited (with Beagle) The New Voices of Fantasy which I highly recommend as most excellent reading. He also wrote some early genre fiction but I’ve not read it. 
  • Born February 23, 1970 Marie-Josée Croze, 52. Champagne in Maelström which is genre if only because it’s narrated by a talking fish. In Canada movie theatres, she was in Battlefield Earth: A Saga of the Year 3000 as Mara. Yeah that film with a long title. Doubt it improved it. It looks like her first genre acting was on The Hunger in two episodes, “A Matter of Style” as Dominique, and “I’m Dangerous Tonight” as Mimi. Oh, and she had the lead as Pregnant Woman in Ascension which just reads weird. 
  • Born February 23, 1983 Emily Blunt, 39. Her most direct connection to the genre is as Elise Sellas in the Adjustment Bureau film based off Dick’s “Adjustment Team” story.  Mind she’s been in quite a number of other genre films including The Wolfman, Gulliver’s TravelsGnomeo & JulietThe Muppets, LooperEdge of TomorrowInto the WoodsThe Huntsman: Winter’s War, The Strange Case of Sherlock Holmes & Arthur Conan Doyle, and Mary Poppins Returns.
  • Born February 23, 2002 Emilia Jones, 20. I’m reasonably sure this is one of the youngest Birthday individuals that I’ve done.  She shows up on Doctor Who as Merry Gejelh, The Queen of Years, in the “The Rings of Akhaten”, an Eleventh Doctor story. At nine years of age, she made her acting debut in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides as an unnamed English Girl. She’s Young Beth in the horror film Ghostland. She’s currently in Residue, an SF horror series you can find on Netflix. 

(9) IMPENITENT. New York Times reviewer Dwight Garner is not a fan of a new nonfiction collection: “In Margaret Atwood’s Essays and Speeches, Some Hazards of the Trade”.

…In Atwood’s new book, “Burning Questions: Essays and Occasional Pieces, 2004-2021,” there are so many such speeches, including a PEN talk, that they quickly capsize the boat, threatening to drown even the good material.

The heart-sinking opening sentences start early, and they never entirely stop….

(10) HOW BAD ARE THEY? Dreamworks dropped another trailer for The Bad Guys today. Comes to theaters on April 22.

Nobody has ever failed so hard at trying to be good as The Bad Guys. In the new action comedy from DreamWorks Animation, based on the New York Times best-selling book series, a crackerjack criminal crew of animal outlaws are about to attempt their most challenging con yet—becoming model citizens.

Never have there been five friends as infamous as The Bad Guys—dashing pickpocket Mr. Wolf (Academy Award® winner Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri), seen-it-all safecracker Mr. Snake (Marc Maron, GLOW), chill master-of-disguise Mr. Shark (Craig Robinson, Hot Tub Time Machine franchise), short-fused “muscle” Mr. Piranha (Anthony Ramos, In the Heights) and sharp-tongued expert hacker Ms. Tarantula (Awkwafina, Crazy Rich Asians), aka “Webs.” But when, after years of countless heists and being the world’s most-wanted villains, the gang is finally caught, Mr. Wolf brokers a deal (that he has no intention of keeping) to save them all from prison: The Bad Guys will go good.

Under the tutelage of their mentor Professor Marmalade (Richard Ayoade, Paddington 2), an arrogant (but adorable!) guinea pig, The Bad Guys set out to fool the world that they’ve been transformed. Along the way, though, Mr. Wolf begins to suspect that doing good for real may give him what he’s always secretly longed for: acceptance.

So when a new villain threatens the city, can Mr. Wolf persuade the rest of the gang to become … The Good Guys?

(11) I’LL SEA YOU, AND RAISE YOU. “Monstrous ‘rogue wave’ likely most extreme ever recorded, scientists say”AccuWeather has details.

Oceanographers have confirmed an enormous wave off the coast of Canada in 2020 was the most extreme “rogue” wave to ever be recorded. In November 2020, a 58-foot-tall rogue wave crashed in the waters off British Columbia, Canada.

A “rogue wave” occurs when a wave is proportionally larger than those around it in a given area of the ocean. These waves happen in open water and grow more than double the height of neighboring waves.

The recent rogue wave was detailed in a study published in the journal Scientific Reports, which is a part of the Nature Publishing Group. The buoy that recorded the event was deployed at Amphitrite Bank, about 4 miles offshore of Ucluelet, British Columbia, in August 2020. This was one of many buoys to be part of a network of marine sensors that comprise MarineLabs’ CoastAware™ platform. The buoy is able to record data in 20-minute bursts every 30 minutes.

When the rogue wave hit the buoy in November 2020, it was so large that it raised the buoy about 58 feet. The wave was more than three times as large as the waves that had come before and after it.

…Rogue waves were originally thought to be a myth and often were dismissed as exaggerated accounts. Scientists have since been able to confirm the existence of rogue waves in recent decades.

The first rogue wave to be recorded was off the coast of Norway in 1995. This wave reached a height of nearly 84 feet and was known as the “Draupner wave,” according to NBC News. The Draupner wave was double the size of waves around it.

Even though the 1995 wave was taller than the recent record-breaking wave, the 2020 rogue wave became record-breaking because it was nearly three times as large as other waves around it.

Rogue waves generally occur near the center of a group of waves and are unexpected. There is no gradual build-up of wave height leading up to a rogue wave, according to the study.

(12) A PLANET FOR HAL CLEMENT. “WASP-121b Has Metal Clouds, Astronomers Say”Gizmodo has the story.

New observations of the football-shaped exoplanet known as WASP-121b have revealed clues to its atmosphere and weather. Astronomers say it may have metal clouds made up of iron, corundum, and titanium.

WASP-121b orbits a star 850 light-years from Earth and is twice as large as our Jupiter. (It’s classified as a hot Jupiter, meaning its a gas giant that orbits relatively close to its star.) WASP-121b completes a revolution in just 30 hours—only slightly longer than an Earth day. It also has a bizarrely oblong shape, which is due to the intense gravitational forces the planet is subject to.

But the really surprising element of the latest findings are the details of the planet’s climate; how its temperatures plummet at night and change throughout the atmosphere. The team observed the hot Jupiter using the Hubble Space Telescope, and their study is published this week in Nature Astronomy….

(13) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Game Trailers: Pokemon Legends:  Arceus,” Fandom Games says the Pokemon franchise has been stagnant for decades, and “the most interesting thing about the game is watching adults arguing about a game meant for toddlers.”  But while Arecus is the most imaginative Pokemon game in decades, you can’t fight other players, “and how can you call yourself a Pokemon master if you can’t get a 30-year-old to rage quit?”

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

Pixel Scroll 2/17/22 I Have No Internet And I Must Stream

(1) BREATHTAKING. Here’s a chance to admire Nalo Hopkinson’s magnificent SFWA Grand Master award.

(2) SILVER Q&A. Sea Lion Press’ Gary Oswald has a conversation with a co-founder of the Sidewise Awards for Alternate History: “Interviewing the AH Community: Steven H Silver”.

In 2020, a Sea Lion Press story won a Sidewise Award for the first time. Most Sidewise winners are paper novels by major book publishers which sell in the thousands so it was exciting to us that an ebook by a minor publisher with more modest sales could win it. You’re obviously not the only judge but do you consider popularity or legitimacy at all or would you be happy to vote for a self published ebook with barely any sales if you felt the work was good enough?

I try to read each story or novel for the Sidewise Award pretending I know nothing of its provenance. I try to ignore who the author is, who published it, or the way it got to press. To me, it is about the story being told and the way it is told. I try to judge each book on two levels. Is it a good/interesting alternate history and is it a well written book. I’ve voted down books I like because they were strong in one of those two categories, but weak in the other. If the writing isn’t good, the concept doesn’t matter and if the writing is good but the alternate history is weak, it is hard to consider it a contender….

(3) WHO CAN RESIST CETACEANS? [Item by Ben Bird Person.] Artist JohannesVIII (@ViiiJohannes) did this piece of two humpback whales assimilated as Borg from Star Trek.

(4) FANHISTORY ZOOM. Fanac.org’s next Fan History Project Zoom Series presentation is happening on February 26. To RSVP, or find out more about the series, please send a note to fanac@fanac.org.

  • Death Does Not Release You – LASFS Through the Years with Craig Miller (M), Tim Kirk, Ken Rudolph and Bobbi Armbruster

Date: February 26, 2022
Time: 4pm EST, 1pm PST, 9PM London, 8AM Sunday AEDT (Melbourne)

LASFS is unique – in its history and impact on fandom. LASFS has a clubhouse, a long list of professional writers that have been members, and has had an incredibly active fan group over the decades. Los Angeles area fandom has produced innumerable fanzines, six Los Angeles Worldcons (and many other conventions). Join us for a session with our real world AND fannishly accomplished participants – convention runners (including a Worldcon chair), a noted fan and professional artist, and a fanzine editor, all past or present LASFS members – in conversation about Los Angeles fandom from the inside.

Upcoming Fanac.org fanhistory Zooms are:

  • March 19 — Traveling Ghiants, Fan Funds from the Days of Mimeo to the Days of Zoom

Geri Sullivan (m), Lesleigh Luttrell (DUFF), Justin Ackroyd (GUFF) and Suzle Tompkins (TAFF)

4pm EDT, 1pm PDT, 8pm London, 7am AEDT (Melbourne) – 

  • April 23 — Fandom From Both Sides

Joe Haldeman and Gay Haldeman

2pm EDT, 11am PDT, 7pm London – 

(5) OMICRON AT ANIME NYC. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] The CDC has published a study of what ABC News identifies as the 2021 Anime NYC COVID-19/Omicron outbreak. The function isn’t named in the study, but details that are given match that convention. “Omicron spread quickly at convention in New York City — but boosters helped at ABC News.

…According to convention rules, attendees were required to have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose and wear masks indoors.

The first case was reported to the CDC by the Minnesota Department of Health on Dec. 2 in a man — called Patient A — who had flown to New York City for the convention, the report said.

For the report, the CDC teamed up with the MDH and state and local departments across the country interviewing Patient A, and 23 of his 29 close contacts from 13 states who also attended the convention.

Patient A had traveled to New York City on November 18. He was fully vaccinated and received a booster shot earlier in November, according to the authors.

However, he developed symptoms on Nov. 22 and subsequently tested positive for COVID-19, after which he notified all his close contacts, the report said.

Of the 23 attendees contacted, 16 tested positive for the virus, equating to an attack rate of 70%.

All the contacts were fully vaccinated, but only 11 had received a booster dose before going to the convention, according to the report. The authors indicate that having a booster dose lowered the odds of testing positive for COVID-19.

Ten of the 12 people, or 83%, who didn’t receive a booster tested positive for the virus while six of the 11 people, 55%, who tested positive were boosted, meaning there were 1.5 times fewer infections in boosted individuals….

(6) TEXMOOT CALL FOR PAPERS. Signum University is hosting a hybrid event, TexMoot 2022, whose theme is “Starships, Stewards, and Storytellers: How Imaginary Worlds Teach Us to Care for This One”. It takes place in Austin, TX on March 26. Registration costs $50 for on-site participants, $25 for online attendees, and $15 for students in either mode. To register, click here. The complete call for papers is here.

In 2022, Signum University’s Annual Texas Language and Literature Symposium (TexMoot) invites you to join us as we consider the ethical turn in speculative fiction: How do imaginary worlds teach us to care for this one?

From ecological concerns to social commentary, science fiction and fantasy offer readers a mirror through which to view our own world. For example, the struggles of a terraforming planet may remind us how precious and fragile is the one we live on. The real-world conflict between nature and technology comes to life on the page when trees march to war. We may find insights into how to interact with people around us by spending time with characters in a fellowship—or on a starship. 

At TexMoot 2022, you will explore questions like: How do we relate to the Other—the “monsters” and “aliens” beyond the bulkhead door? What roles can technology play in preserving nature or reinforcing what makes us human? Do humans change the nonhuman environment, or are they inevitably changed by it? Is there really a clear line between the human and the nonhuman, anyway? And whose responsibility is it to preserve “civilization” and transmit its legacy to future generations?

TexMoot 2022 will also investigate the ways authors convey these commentaries. What literary techniques best serve the message; at what point does a work cross the line into propaganda? When does the message serve the story, and when does the story serve the message?

The TexMoot Team is looking for both traditional academic papers (of about 15 minutes) and shorter discussion prompts in which the presenter talks for 5 minutes and ends with a provocative question to start a roundtable discussion. Presentations and discussion topics can be more academic or popular, according to your preference and experience. 

(7) STRANGER THINGS GETS FIFTH SEASON. The airdates for the fourth season of Stranger Things have been announced, as has the greenlit fifth and last season. Deadline has the story, and a gallery of promotional posters. “’Stranger Things’ Renewed For Fifth And Final Season, Gets Premiere Dates For Split Season 4 On Netflix”.

Stranger Things, a signature show for Netflix since its premiere in 2016, has been renewed for a fifth and final season.

In addition to the climactic renewal, the company said the long-awaited Season 4 of the show will premiere in two “volumes,” the first on May 27 and the second on July 1. In an open letter to fans (read it in full below), co-creators Matt and Ross Duffer said the split season resulted from the season’s nine episodes having a total running time twice as long as that of any previous season.

The Duffer Bros noted that the full arc was expected to be “four or five” seasons when they first envisioned the show, so the end is not a surprise. Plus, it won’t be the end of the franchise, they promised.

“There are still many more exciting stories to tell within the world of Stranger Things: new mysteries, new adventures, new unexpected heroes,” they wrote. “But first we hope you stay with us as we finish this tale.”

(8) IT HAPPENED TO JANE. You may not be able to watch Natalie Portman gear up as Thor just yet, but you can pre-order an action figure of her. Gizmodo offers “Thor Love and Thunder Natalie Portman as Thor First Look”, but it comes with a spoiler warning.

While movie studios like Marvel like to keep all details about their films under complete wraps, there’s one truth they simply cannot get around: It takes a long time to make merchandise, especially action figures. That’s why they’re often the first looks at movie outfits and characters, and it’s why we’re getting this first look at Natalie Portman as Jane Foster as the Mighty Thor in the upcoming Thor: Love and Thunder. In related news, she’s awesome—as regular Thor’s new movie outfit, which you can also see here!…

(9) RIDE WITH THE SPACE COWBOY. Simultaneous Times science fiction podcast episode 48 is live, featuring short stories by F.J. Bergmann and Toshiya Kamei with original soundtracks by Phog Masheen and RedBlueBlackSilver. “Simultaneous Times Ep.48 – F.J. Bergmann & Toshiya Kamei”. Simultaneous Times is a monthly science fiction podcast produced by Space Cowboy Books in Joshua Tree, CA.

(10) FAREN MILLER (1950-2022). Faren Miller, a Locus staffer and contributor for 37 years, died February 15 at the age of 71 reports Locus Online. Miller was hired by Locus in 1981, and her last review column for the magazine was in 2018. Her only published novel, The Illusionists (1991), was a finalist for the William Crawford – IAFA Fantasy Award for first fantasy book.

(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1989 [Item by Cat Eldridge] Thirty-three years ago, the first film of what would become the Bill & Ted franchise, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, premiered on this day. It was directed by Stephen Herek as written by Chris Matheson, son of author Richard Matheson, and Ed Solomon, writer of the first Men in Black film, who would write all three of these films. 

Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, of course, stars Keanu Reeves, Alex Winter and George Carlin. (I met the latter many years ago. A rather nice gentleman he was.) Two out of the three had successful careers after this, one really didn’t. 

It was a box office triumph earning back forty million against a modest budget of just ten million.

Critics generally hated it. The New York Times in reviewing it flatly stated that it was a “painfully inept comedy”. And the Los Angeles Times said that it was an “unabashed glorification of dumbness for dumbness’ sake”. Dissenting from this unrelenting hostility, the Radio Times cheerfully said ir was a “flawless, purpose-built junk movie”. 

So how do audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes view it now? Well, they give it a most bodacious seventy-five percent rating. 

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born February 17, 1912 Andre Norton. She penned well over a dozen series, but her major series was Witch World which began rather appropriately with Witch World in 1963. The first six novels in that series were Ace Books paperback originals published in the Sixties. I remember them with fondness quite some decades after reading them. (Died 2005.)
  • Born February 17, 1913 David Duncan. A screenwriter and novelist who was nominated twice for Hugos, first for being writing the screenplay for The Time Machine at Seacon, and for the same work on Fantastic Voyage at NyCon 3. He also wrote Time Machine: The Journey Back sequel to The Time Machine. And he wrote The Outer Limits’ “The Human Factor” episode. (Died 1999.)
  • Born February 17, 1939 Kathy Keeton. Founder and publisher of the now defunct Omni. It was founded by her and her partner and future husband Bob Guccione, the publisher of the also defunct Penthouse. It would publish a number of stories that have become genre classics, such as Card’s “Unaccompanied Sonata”, Gibson’s “Burning Chrome” and “Johnny Mnemonic” and George R. R. Martin’s “Sandkings” to name a few of the stories that appeared there. (Died 1997.)
  • Born February 17, 1954 Don Coscarelli, 68. A film director, producer, and screenwriter best known for horror films. His credits include the Phantasm series, The Beastmaster, and Bubba Ho-Tep, the latter based a novella by Joe R. Lansdale whom I’ve met and who is a really nice person.
  • Born February 17, 1971 Denise Richards, 51. Her first genre role was as Tammy in Tammy and the T-Rex (really don’t ask). Her next role was the one she’s known for as Carmen Ibañez in Starship Troopers. A few years later she’ll be Dr. Christmas Jones in The World Is Not Enough, the eighteenth Bond film. She played Victoria Dare in Timecrafters: The Treasure of Pirate’s Cove.
  • Born February 17, 1975 Jerry O’Connell, 47. Quinn Mallory on Sliders, a series whose behind-the-broadcast politics is too tangled to detail here. His first SF role was on Mission to Mars as Phil Ohlmyer with the SF dark comedy Space Space Station 76 with him as Steve being his next role. He’s done a lot of of DCU voice work, Captain Marvel in Superman/Shazam!: The Return of Black Adam, Clark Kent / Superman in Justice League vs. Teen Titans and Justice League: Throne of AtlantisJustice League DarkThe Death of Superman and Reign of the Supermen where he also plays Cyborg Superman to great, chilling effect. The latter film is kickass excellent.

(13) SUBSCRIBERS MUST SQUINT. According to Polygon, “recent updates have made it harder to read, shop, and publish on the U.S.’s most popular digital comics platform” — “Amazon’s big Comixology changes ignite concern from comic book creators, fans”.

This week Amazon, launched a new app for its digital comics platform, Comixology, and a new Amazon-native online storefront that will eventually replace Comixology’s browser-based store and reader. But the new changes have alarmed both users and creators.

Long-time Comixology users have taken to social media to list all the ways the new web and app user experience represents a step backward from what they’re used to. Chief among the many complaints is a new web reader that doesn’t display double page spreads correctly, has removed creator credits from book listings on the storefront, and lacks both panel-by-panel and zoom functions, rendering most comics in illegibly small images….

(14) MISSING A PART OF THE FUTURE. Voice acting veterans Mark Hamill, Tara Strong, Kari Wahlgren, and Charlie Adler call out Hulu, which is reviving Futurama but hasn’t been willing to meet the terms of Bender’s voice John DiMaggio: “Futurama Hulu revival: Actors supporting John DiMaggio” at SYFY Wire.

A number of established Hollywood veterans have come to the side of John DiMaggio as the actor continues to clash with Hulu and 20th Century Studios over proper compensation for the streamer’s upcoming revival of Futurama.

The official announcement of the beloved series’ return from co-creators Matt Groening and David X. Cohen was slightly marred by the fact that DiMaggio (who voices foul-mouthed robot Bender and a plethora of supporting characters) was the only member of the original cast who had not signed on for the revival. It was soon reported that the show would recast Bender in the wake of contract negotiations stalling out. If talks have ended for good between both parties, some fans say they won’t be tuning in if DiMaggio isn’t brought back for the 20 additional episodes slated to premiere sometime next year (production kicks off this month)….

(15) STORYLIVING BY DISNEY. Love Disney parks so much you’d want to live in one?  Now you can (sort of). “Disney is developing planned communities for fans who never want to leave its clutches”The Verge will fill you in.

Disney has launched a new business for fans who can’t bear to leave the pristine, family-friendly world the corporation has nurtured through its theme parks and media ventures.

“Storyliving by Disney” will operate as part of the company’s theme parks division, developing a series of master-planned communities for residential living, designed by Disney’s creative staff and offering the same pampered tranquility found in its resorts.

“Picture an energetic community with the warmth and charm of a small town and the beauty of a resort,” said Disney Parks, Experiences and Products exec Helen Pak in a promotional video.

Only one location has been announced so far: a community of 1,900 housing units named Cotino that will be built in the city of Rancho Mirage in California’s Coachella Valley (a location where Walt Disney himself once lived)….

(16) SPLISH SPLASH, YOU’LL BE TAKIN’ A BATH. [Item by Michael Toman.] I can’t be the only Filer who would be interested in reading this Kim Stanley Robinson nightmare scenario, with or without fires and earthquakes. What will California’s coast look like in 100 years? “We’re Kind of Built on This Knife’s Edge” at Alta.

Eighteen thousand years ago, give or take, the continental shelf 30 miles off the coast of San Francisco was exposed as a wide, flat coastal plain with an extensive system of dunes and river valleys connecting the Farallon Islands to the continental United States, which didn’t go by that name. Farther north, salt waters from the Pacific Ocean stretched all the way inland to present-day Sacramento.

Rising sea levels have continued to erode the shoreline ever since, as human beings established a society they would eventually call California. Some of our biggest cities were built in this 10 miles of dynamic coastline.

“We often think of the California coast as this high-relief terrain with active tectonics, which it is, but we’ve put millions of people in the lowest parts of the entire state, like the San Diego Bay, the San Francisco Bay, and the Los Angeles Basin,” says Patrick Barnard, the research director of the climate impacts and coastal processes team at USGS Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center in Santa Cruz….

(17) YAKKITY-YAK. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Not satisfied with something commonplace like a robotic dog, China is going for a robotic yak. They are said to be essentially ready for troop support, but Popular Mechanics isn’t buying it. “China’s New ‘Robotic Yak’ Will Support Ground Troops, But It’s Not as Capable as It Seems”.

Chinese engineers are developing a large, four-legged robotic “yak,” supposedly capable of hauling as much cargo as two real yaks. The unnamed robot—which seems destined for military use—is similar to the robo-dog concept that Waltham, Massachusetts-based Boston Dynamics has popularized over the last decade. But a careful reading of the video shows that it may just be a bunch of Chinese Communist Party propaganda.

Supported by its four spindly legs and barrel-shaped body, the robot is topped off with a cargo-carrying metal rack. Global Times, a Chinese tabloid with links to the Chinese government, claims it can carry up to 160 kilograms (352 pounds) and travel at up to 6.21 miles per hour. It cites the Chinese Communist Party news site People’s Daily as saying the robot was “the world’s largest, heaviest and most off-road-capable of its kind.”…

…. Robo-yak isn’t going anywhere anytime soon for the same reasons the Marines never pursued LS3: robots run on batteries and once the batteries run down, it takes hours—at a place with abundant power to spare, which is not exactly the desert—to recharge them. 

(18) THE BOYS ARE BACK IN TOWN. “Homelander’s Vought Origin Story Shown In The Boys Diabolical Trailer”Screen Rant sets the frame:

Set within the same universe as its parent series, The Boys: Diabolical acts as an eight-part collection of animated short films exploring a range of stories related to the corrupt superhero world that fans of The Boys have come to know and love. Each episode will run between 12 and 14 minutes and feature a unique animation style

(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Game Trailers: It Takes Two,” Fandom Games says the gimmick of this game is that you’re supposed to play it with your partner and preserve your marriage.  But the narrator says a better test is to “Play Cuphead with your wife, because if your marriage can survive that, it can survive anything!”

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

Pixel Scroll 2/14/22 Our Files Are Protected By Mutual Assured Pixellation

(1) PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE ASKS INTERNET ARCHIVE TO REMOVE MAUS. Chris Freeland, a librarian and Director of the Internet Archive’s Open Libraries program, advocates for his work at ZDNet: “Librarian’s lament: Digital books are not fireproof”.

The disturbing trend of school boards and lawmakers banning books from libraries and public schools is accelerating across the country. In response, Jason Perlow made a strong case last week for what he calls a “Freedom Archive,” a digital repository of banned books. Such an archive is the right antidote to book banning because, he contended, “You can’t burn a digital book.” The trouble is, you can.

A few days ago, Penguin Random House, the publisher of Maus, Art Spiegelman’s Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel about the Holocaust, demanded that the Internet Archive remove the book from our lending library. Why? Because, in their words, “consumer interest in ‘Maus’ has soared” as the result of a Tennessee school board’s decision to ban teaching the book. By its own admission, to maximize profits, a Goliath of the publishing industry is forbidding our non-profit library from lending a banned book to our patrons: a real live digital book-burning.

We are the library of last resort, where anyone can get access to books that may be controversial wherever they happen to live — an existing version of Perlow’s proposed “Freedom Archive.” Today, the Internet Archive lends a large selection of other banned books, including Animal FarmWinnie the PoohThe Call of the Wild, and the Junie B. Jones and Goosebumps children’s book series. But all of these books are also in danger of being destroyed.

In the summer of 2020, four of the largest publishers in the U.S. — Penguin Random House among them — sued to force our library to destroy the more than 1.4 million digital books in our collection. In their pending lawsuit, the publishers are using copyright law as a battering ram to assert corporate control over the public good. In this instance, that means destroying freely available books and other materials that people rely on to become productive and discerning participants in the country’s civic, economic, and social life…. 

(2) SUPER BOWL COMMERCIALS WITH A TOUCH OF SFF. Thanks to Cora Buhlert for flagging several of these in a comment yesterday on the “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power – Teaser Trailer” post. Besides the ones I’ve embedded below, there’s a “Planet Fitness – What’s Gotten into Lindsay?” spot with a cameo and narration by William Shatner, and astronaut Matthew McConaughey headlining the “’The New Frontier’ Salesforce Super Bowl Ad” (“while the others look to the metaverse and Mars, lets stay here and restore ours…”).

Enter a new dimension of Strange. Watch the official trailer for Marvel Studios’ Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Only in theaters May 6. In Marvel Studios’ “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” the MCU unlocks the Multiverse and pushes its boundaries further than ever before. Journey into the unknown with Doctor Strange, who, with the help of mystical allies both old and new, traverses the mind-bending and dangerous alternate realities of the Multiverse to confront a mysterious new adversary.

See the all-new Big Game TV Spot for Marvel Studios’ #MoonKnight ?, an Original series streaming March 30, only on Disney+. The story follows Steven Grant, a mild-mannered gift-shop employee, who becomes plagued with blackouts and memories of another life. Steven discovers he has dissociative identity disorder and shares a body with mercenary Marc Spector. As Steven/Marc’s enemies converge upon them, they must navigate their complex identities while thrust into a deadly mystery among the powerful gods of Egypt.

In a competitive home buying market, Barbie was able to find and finance her dream house with some help from Rocket Homes??, Rocket Mortgage® and Anna Kendrick.

Retiring from Mount Olympus to Palm Springs, Zeus is underwhelmed by all earthly electric things and becomes a shell of his former self. But right when we think all hope is lost, his wife, Hera, introduces him to the all-electric BMW iX and helps mighty Zeus reclaim his spark.

(3) THE SIXTIES CONAN REDISCOVERY. At Galactic Journey, Cora Buhlert continues her overview of the Lancer Conan reprints with Conan the Warrior, which includes two of the best Conan stories “and no L. Sprague de Camp mucking about”: “[February 14, 1967] Three Facets of Conan: Conan the Warrior by Robert E. Howard”.

…Valeria is a marvellous character, a warrior woman who is Conan’s equal in many ways. “Why won’t men let me live a man’s life?” Valeria laments at one point. “That’s obvious,” Conan replies with an appreciative look at Valeria’s body. Robert E. Howard is usually considered a writer of masculine fiction and Conan is clearly a man’s man, but I was pleasantly surprised by the variety and competence of the female characters in these stories. Not every women in these stories is as impressive as Valeria or Yasmina from “The People of the Black Circle”, but they are all characters with personalities and lives of their own and every one of them is given a chance to shine….

(4) IT’S TIME FOR TRIVIA. Clarion West’s third annual speculative fiction trivia night fundraiser welcomes anyone to join this celebration of all things speculative. The event takes place March 20 from 5:00 p.m.-7:30 p.m. Pacific. Purchase tickets here – most options are $15.

Quizmaster Seanan McGuire will host us on Sunday, March 20th at 5pm PT for a night of science fiction, fantasy, and horror-themed rivalry. We’re also excited to welcome celebrity team captains Tananarive Due & Steven Barnes, A.T. Greenblatt, Greg & Astrid Bear, Cat Rambo, Andy Duncan, Brooks Peck, Julia Rios, and Curtis C. Chen!

Clarion West began running Speculative Fiction Trivia Night as an in-person fundraiser in 2019. It’s been such a hit that we’ve kept it going online for our global community. We enjoy bringing everyone together for this annual event, keeping it easy to run (with lots of volunteer power), and low cost to join! Ticket sales support Clarion West, the time and efforts of our staff, and our wonderful quizmaster Seanan McGuire!

You can join as an individual and be placed on a team, bring your own team, or join a team led by one of our amazing celebrity team captains (these fill quickly)!

Learn more about Trivia Night, our Celebrity Team Captains, and other details here.

(5) HIDDEN GEMS. G.W. Thomas remembers the adventures of Thula, a little known 1970s sword and sorcery heroine by Pat McIntosh, whose stories only appeared in an obscure British fanzine and Lin Carter’s Year’s Best Fantasy collections: “The Adventures of Thula” at Dark Worlds Quarterly.

 The Adventures of Thula was a series of five Sword & Sorcery tales featured in Lin Carter’s The Year’s Best Fantasy Stories 1-5Pat McIntosh, the Scottish author of these tales, was a mystery to me. Her stories appeared first in John Martin’s British fanzine Anduril but nowhere else. She was an obvious favorite of Lin’s, along with other women writers such as Tanith Lee, C. J. Cherryh and Janet Fox. He called McIntosh “…a new British writer bound to go places in the years to come!”…

(6) NOPE TRAILER. “Jordan Peele’s ‘Nope’ Trailer Sees a UFO Terrorize Keke Palmer, Daniel Kaluuya and Steven Yeun”. Yahoo!’s preview explains, “One day, a UFO appears in the sky, causing all matter of chaos for those at the ranch and its neighboring town. In one eye-catching scene in the trailer, we see Kaluuya on horseback trying to outrun the UFO; in another, a gooey alien creature stalks its prey.”

(7) IVAN REITMAN (1946-2022). A prolific Hollywood producer and director, Ivan Reitman died February 13 at the age of 75. He worked on many famous non-sf films, but the Ghostbusters movies were his best-known. As a producer or executive producer he had a hand in genre films Heavy Metal (1981), Spacehunters: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone (1983), Ghostbusters (1984), Ghostbusters II (1989), and the reboots Ghostbusters (2016) and Ghostbusters: Afterlife (2021), Space Jam (1996), Evolution (2001), A Babysitters Guide to Monster Hunting (2020), and also two animated TV series Mummies Alive (1997) and Alienators: Evolution Continues (2001), plus a recurring segment of the Atom TV series (2008).

The Guardian’s Hadley Freeman found Ivan Reitman impressive: “I finally met Ivan Reitman three months ago – my Hollywood hero was a truly lovely man”.

As the Guardian’s official 80s movies correspondent, I talked to Reitman multiple times over the years, beginning with a phone interview for the last film he directed, 2014’s Draft Day. When I contacted him again a few weeks later to ask if I could interview him for a book I was working on about 80s movies, he immediately agreed, and talked to me for over an hour, reminiscing about films people had been asking him to reminisce about for over 30 years. He never showed boredom or irritation. If I ever needed a quote, or just had a question, I could email him and he’d reply immediately. Does it really need saying that this kind of behaviour from a genuine Hollywood powerhouse is not exactly typical?

(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1964 [Item by Cat Eldridge] James Elwood: master programmer. In charge of Mark 502-741, commonly known as Agnes, the world’s most advanced electronic computer. Machines are made by men for man’s benefit and progress, but when man ceases to control the products of his ingenuity and imagination, he not only risks losing the benefit, but he takes a long and unpredictable step into… The Twilight Zone.”

Fifty-eight years ago this evening, Twilight Zone’s “From Agnes—With Love” episode first aired. The twentieth episode of Season Five, it tells the rather silly story of a meek computer programmer who has Agnes, the world’s most advanced computer, loving him. And what ends she’ll go to make sure no end else wins his hand. 

It was directed by Richard Donner who went to fame by directing The Omen and the 1978 Superman. It was written by Bernard Cutner Schoenfeld who had done mostly crime noir before this including Phantom Lady and The Dark Lady though he did write the screenplay for The Space Children, a film currently holding a fourteen percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. You can see it here.

The cast of this series was: Wally Cox as James Elwood, Sue Randall as Millie, Raymond Bailey as Supervisor,  Ralph Taeger as Walter Holmes, Don Keefer as Fred Danziger, Byron Kane as Assistant  and Nan Peterson as A Secretary. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born February 14, 1925 J. T. McIntosh. Scottish writer at his best according to Clute in his early work such as World Out of Mind and One in Three Hundred. He’s deeply stocked at the usual suspects at very reasonable rates, indeed most as Meredith Moments. (Died 2008.)
  • Born February 14, 1942 Andrew Robinson, 80. Elim Garak on Deep Space Nine. He wrote a novel based on his character, A Stitch in Time, and a novella, “The Calling,” which can be found in Prophecy and Change, a DS9 anthology edited by Marco Palmieri. Other genre credits include Larry Cotton in Hellraiser, appearing in The Puppet Masters as Hawthorne and playing John F. Kennedy on the The New Twilight Zone.
  • Born February 14, 1948 Teller, 74. Performed on Babylon 5 in the episode scripted by Neil Gaiman titled “Day of The Dead” as part of Penn & Teller who portrayed comedians Rebo and Zooty. It’s one of my favorite episodes of the series. Harlan Ellison provided his voice there. Now available on HBO Max. 
  • Born February 14, 1952 Gwyneth Jones, 70. Interesting person that she is, let’s start with her thoughts on chestnuts she did when she was Winter Queen at Green Man. Just because I can. Now regarding her fiction, I’d strongly recommend her Bold As Love series of a Britain that went to pieces as it now certainly is, and her twenty-year-old Deconstructing the Starships: Science, Fiction and Reality polemic is still worth reading. 
  • Born February 14, 1952 Paula M. Block, 70. Star Trek author and editor; but primarily known for working in Paramount Pictures’ consumer licensing division and then with CBS Consumer Products. Remember that novel I noted by Andrew Robinson? Yeah, that’s her bailiwick. She’s also written with her husband Terry J. Erdmann, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion and Star Trek: Costumes: Five Decades of Fashion from the Final Frontier. It looks like she did some Trek fanfic as well including “The Girl Who Controlled Gene Kelly’s Feet”.
  • Born February 14, 1963 Enrico Colantoni, 59. Any excuse to mention Galaxy Quest I’ll gladly take. He played a delightful Mathesar on that film, and that was his first genre role, lucky bastard. Up next for him was A.I. Artificial Intelligence as The Murderer followed by appearing in the most excellent animated Justice League Dark as the voice of Felix Faust where his fate was very, very bad. He had an amazing role on Person of Interest as Charlie Burton / Carl Elias. Not genre, but his acting as Sgt. Gregory Parker on Flashpointa Canadian police drama television series is worth noting as it that excellent series. 
  • Born February 14, 1964 Zach Galligan, 58. You’ll no doubt recognize him best as Billy Peltzer in Gremlins and Gremlins 2: The New Batch. He did some really forgettable films after that including Waxwork II: Lost in TimeWarlock: The Armageddon and Cyborg 3: The Recycler even if the star of the latter was Malcolm McDowell. He did show on Voyager on as Ensign David Gentry in the “In the Flesh” episode. 
  • Born February 14, 1970 Simon Pegg, 52. Best known for playing Montgomery Scott in the sort of ongoing Star Trek franchise. His first foray into the genre was Shaun of the Dead which he co-wrote and had an acting role in. Late genre roles include Land of the Dead where he’s a Photo Booth Zombie, Diary of the Dead where he has a cameo as a Newsreader, and he portrays Benji Dunn in the ongoing Mission: Impossible franchise.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Bizarro has a cringeworthy joke for the holiday.  [Link worked earlier; right now it appears none of Comics Kingdom’s comics will load for some reason.]

(11) TUBERS IN SPACE. Nerdist gives us fair warning when “Mr. Potato Head Joins STAR WARS with The Yamdalorian Toy”. (See it at Hasbro.com.)

…Bring some space saga to your kid’s toy chest with Hasbro’s newest Star Wars plaything. This intergalactic version of Mr. Potato Head is ready to carry Grogu, in this case known as the Tot, everywhere he goes. Even in his stomach. The Yamdalorian features a 5-and-a-half inch body and comes with 14 parts to make him into the greatest bounty spud in the universe. That includes a Mandalorian helmet, armor, and cape. As well a base with feet, eyes, two arms, two ears, nose, and mustache. And his adopted son can also fit inside his pouch…

(12) FUN FACT. [Item by Sam Long.] I was looking up the word “god” in the Online Etymological Dictionary, and found that it could be derived from the Proto-Indo-European (PIE) word ghu-to, to pour a libation (as of bheer).  Apparently fandom–or at least the fannish “h”–dates back five thousand years or more.

“Bloomin’ idol o’ egoboo,

Wot they call the ghreat ghod Ghu!

(Plucky lot she cared for idols when I gave her some corflu.”

          –On the Road to Fandalay

(13) IMPRISONED ALIENS. Some aliens may never be able to leave their world due to things like high gravity or self-generated orbital debris. Isaac Arthur considers “The Fermi Paradox: Imprisoned Planets”.

(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. As one commenter calls it, “The all-Boston crossover you never expected, but deserved.” “Your Cousin From Boston (Dynamics)”.

While working security at the Boston Dynamics robotics lab, Your Cousin From Boston gives a robot a Sam Adams. At least he brought a Wicked IPA Party Pack to share!

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