Pixel Scroll 1/13/23 I Get Scrolled Down, But I Scroll Up Again

(1) STOP LOAFING AROUND. Cora Buhlert snagged another figure, who stars in her latest toy photo story called: “Masters-of-the-Universe-Piece Theatre: ‘Wun-Dar and His Wonderful Dinosaur’”.

… “Halt, stranger! State your business!”

“Relax. Like I said, I’m Wun-Dar. You know, legendary hero, champion of Grayskull and wielder – well, former wielder of the Sword of Power? And this is Giga, my trusty mount. I came through a portal from Preternia because… well, even paradise gets boring eventually, I guess. And besides, Fleaman – I mean, Adam – said that you guys needed help with someone named Skeleton? Is that right? Stupid name, at any rate.”

“It’s Skeletor, young man. And what exactly do you and this… this thing want here in my throne room?”…

(2) ANOTHER MASTERS FAN. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] The Dad-at-Arms podcast has a very good interview with animation and comic writer Tim Sheridan, who worked on Masters of the Universe: Revelation, Dragon Age: Absolution and a lot of Transformers and DC superhero stuff: 

(3) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites listeners to feast on French toast with Ron Marz in Episode 189 of his Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Ron Marz is perhaps best known for his writing of the characters Silver Surfer and Green Lantern, but also for his work on the Marvel vs. DC crossover and Batman/Aliens. He also worked on the CrossGen Comics series ScionMysticSojourn, and The Path. At Dark Horse Comics, he created Samurai: Heaven and Earth and various Star Wars comics. For DC Comics, he’s written Ion, a 12 part comic book miniseries that followed the Kyle Rayner character after the One Year Later event, and Tales of the Sinistro Corps Presents: Parallax and Tales of the Sinestro Corps Presents: Ion, two one-shot tie-ins to the Green Lantern crossover, The Sinestro Corps War.

Ron Marz

We discussed how the letter he wrote to Marvel when he was a kid suggesting a Justice League/Avengers team-up predicted his future comics career, which side his childhood self fell in the Marvel vs. DC war, the difficulties of surprising readers when the publicity machine is always running, how early encounters with Bernie Wrightson and Jim Starlin led to him giving up journalism, why it was better he broke in first at “collegial” Marvel rather than “corporate” DC, how the thick skin he developed in newspapers helped him when he took over Green Lantern, why comic book companies like poaching each other’s creators, the ironic conversation that led to him writing Superman, what he still considers the best part of the job after 30 years in comics, our memories of George Perez and Neal Adams, and much more.

(4) TODAY VERSUS TOMORROW. Here are two somewhat contradictory articles from the Guardian about independent bookstores in the UK:

The number of independent bookshops in the UK and Ireland climbed to a 10-year high in 2022, as the book trade defied the odds in an otherwise brutal year for high street retailers.

The lifestyle changes brought about by the coronavirus pandemic lockdowns were a boon for the book trade, as Britons with more time on their hands read more and sought out bookshops when they reopened.

There are now 1,072 independent bookshops after the industry enjoyed a sixth consecutive year of growth, according to the Booksellers Association (BA). The resurgence followed a 20-year losing streak in which bookshop numbers sank to a nadir of 867 in 2016….

… The survey also asked booksellers about the year of trading to come, with many concerned about the cost of living crisis and how it might impact consumer spending and business viability.

Caitlin Lowe, assistant manager of the St Helens Book Stop in Merseyside, told the Bookseller that as well as being concerned about customers spending money on books, there were also concerns “about the cost of running our shop owing to increasing energy prices”….

(5) ROBERT E. HOWARD WORKS RESCUED FROM OBSCURITY. The good folks of Goodman Games have two articles about some of Robert E. Howard’s lesser known works.

Bill Ward talks about Bran Mak Morn, last king of the Picts, in “Bran Mak Morn, The Doomed King”.

…Bran is, unquestionably, one of Howard’s major creations; representing not only the best of what Howard was capable of producing, but also exemplifying deeply personal themes that would inform the entirety of Howard’s writing life.

Bran Mak Morn emerges out of Howard’s fascination with the Picts – but not the Picts of modern, sober archaeology – rather the Picts of turn-of-the-century pseudo-scientific conjectural anthropology, the sort of thing that was available for a young Howard to read….

Ryan Harvey takes a look at Howard’s stories for the weird menace pulps: “A Black Wind Blowing: Robert E. Howard and The Weird Menace Horror Pulps”.

…The term “weird menace” was given to these pulps by later popular culture scholars. At the time, the magazines were referred to as “horror pulps.” This wasn’t an inclusive horror, but a specific subset with its own formula. The best way to understand what weird menace is about is to imagine a three part mixture: the action-speed of pulp detective stories; the mood and settings of Gothic novels; and the bloody excess of the Grand Guignol theater of Paris….

(6) PLAID INSPIRATION. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] I wouldn’t call Outlander a thriller, but Diana Gabaldon recounts how she wrote her time travel novel: “My First Thriller: Diana Gabaldon” at CrimeReads.

…“When I turned 35, I told myself I’d better get started writing. Mozart died at thirty-six.”

“Gradually, the voice in the back of my mind came up with a bunch of stuff,” she says. She wrote down ideas for a book. This would be her practice round, so she had no plans to show it to anyone. 

Inspired by a young man wearing a kilt on the BBC science fiction series “Doctor Who,” she decided to set her story in Scotland. Since she was a researcher and couldn’t afford an overseas trip to check on her setting, Diana figured the easiest type of novel for this first attempt would be historical fiction. She could find all the historical information she needed in books….

(7) IN THE MIDST OF SUCCESS. Matt Wallace pulls back the curtain on his career, and ponders about what’s to come. Thread starts here. (Via John Scalzi.)

(8) THE COLD WEIGHT LOSS EQUATIONS. [Item by Daniel Dern.] Gizmodo reports “DARPA Wants to Find a Drug That Makes You Impervious to Cold”. (Playlist, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside, But Who Cares”).

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is looking for a new way to get nice and cozy: The agency is funding research into drugs that could protect people from extreme cold. Should these efforts bear fruit, the drugs could have a variety of uses, from treating hypothermia patients to helping people better explore the Arctic—and, what is surely DARPA’s main interest, creating soldiers who aren’t fazed by freezing conditions.

… Szablowski and his team will use the money [a DARPA grant] to investigate a non-genetic treatment that can enhance our adaptation to cold temperatures via thermogenesis, or the bodily production of heat. There are two basic methods of thermogenesis in humans, with the most familiar being shivering. But the researchers are more interested in improving how our bodies burn off brown adipose tissue (BAT), or brown fat, to keep warm….

(9) MEMORY LANE.

1819 [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

So food I suspect is not what comes to you mind what you think of Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Most likely you think of the headless rider of the horse with his weapon in hand wrecking most unholy terror upon that small village.

But Irving’s narrator was a keen observer of life on that small village and,  to be rather honest about it, craved food in all its forms. If it was edible, he dreamed about consuming it with great rapture. 

In his devouring mind’s eye, he pictured to himself every roasting-pig running about with a pudding in his belly, and an apple in his mouth; the pigeons were snugly put to bed in a comfortable pie, and tucked in with a coverlet of crust; the geese were swimming in their own gravy; and the ducks pairing cozily in dishes, like snug married couples, with a decent competency of onion sauce. In the porkers he saw carved out the future sleek side of bacon, and juicy relishing ham; not a turkey but he beheld daintily trussed up, with its gizzard under its wing, and, peradventure, a necklace of savory sausages…

So let’s end this essay with my favorite passage…

Fain would I pause to dwell upon the world of charms that burst upon the enraptured gaze of my hero, as he entered the state parlor of Van Tassel’s mansion. Not those of the bevy of buxom lasses, with their luxurious display of red and white; but the ample charms of a genuine Dutch country tea-table, in the sumptuous time of autumn. 

Such heaped-up platters of cakes of various and almost indescribable kinds known only to experienced Dutch housewives! There was the doughty doughnut, the tenderer ‘oly koek,’ and the crisp and crumbling cruller; sweet cakes and short cakes, ginger cakes and honey cakes, and the whole family of cakes. 

And then there were apple pies and peach pies and pumpkin pies, besides slices of ham and smoked beef, and moreover delectable dishes of preserved plums and peaches and pears and quinces, not to mention broiled shad and roasted chickens, together with bowls of milk and cream, all mingled higgledy-piggledy, pretty much as I have enumerated them, with the motherly teapot sending up its clouds of vapor from the midst– Heaven bless the mark!

It was first published in The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent in 1819. “Rip Van Winkle” was also published first here.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 13, 1893 Clark Ashton Smith. One SFF critic deemed him part of “the big three of Weird Tales, with Robert E. Howard and H. P. Lovecraft.” This is while some readers found him to excessively morbid, as L. Sprague de Camp said of him in noting “nobody since Poe has so loved a well-rotted corpse.” If you’ve not read his work, Nightshade has collected it in The Collected Fantasies of Clark Ashton Smith, five volumes in total. They’re all available at the usual suspects. (Died 1961.)
  • Born January 13, 1933 Ron Goulart. First I must acknowledge that he was very prolific, and uses many pseudonyms, to wit: Kenneth Robeson, Con Steffanson, Chad Calhoun, R.T. Edwards, Ian R. Jamieson, Josephine Kains, Jillian Kearny, Howard Lee, Zeke Masters, Frank S. Shawn, and Joseph Silva. (Wow!) You did see the Doc Savage one in there, didn’t you? I’m reasonably sure that I’ve read a lot of his fiction including the Flash Gordon series, his Avenger series, maybe a bit of the Vampirella novels, the Incredible Hulk definitely, not the Groucho Marx series though it sounds fun, and, well, damn he was prolific. So what have you have read by him that you like? (Died 2022.)
  • Born January 13, 1938 Daevid Allan (aka Divided Alien, Dingo Virgin, Bert Camembert, etc.). Co-founder of the British band Soft Machine (named for the William Burroughs SF novel), and the Anglo-French psychedelic band Gong. With Gong, he released the Radio Gnome trilogy (1973-74), a surreal science-fantasy epic musical story featuring pothead pixies in flying teapots, erotic witches, and the Compagnie d’Opera Invisible de Thibet. (Died 2015.) (Xtifr)
  • Born January 13, 1938 Charlie Brill, 85. His best-remembered role, well at least among us, is as the Klingon spy Arne Darvin in “The Trouble with Tribbles”. And yes he’ll show in the DS9 episode, “Trials and Tribble-ations”, that repurposed this episode to great effect. (It was nominated for a Hugo at LoneStarCon 2.) He was the voice of Grimmy in the animated Mother Goose and Grimm series, as well having one-offs in They Came from Outer SpaceThe Munsters TodaySlidersThe Incredible HulkWonder Woman and Super Train. Not even genre adjacent but he was a recurring performer on Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In.
  • Born January 13, 1945 Joy Chant, 78. Chant is an interesting case as she only wrote for a short period between 1970 and 1983 but she produced the brilliant House of Kendreth trilogy, consisting of Red Moon and Black MountainThe Grey Mane of Morning and When Voiha Wakes.  Her other main work, and it is without doubt absolutely amazing as well, is The High Kings, illustrated lavishly by George Sharp and designed by David Larkin with editing by Ian and Betty Ballantine. It is intended as a reference work on the Arthurian legends and the Matter of Britain with her stellar retellings of the legends.  I’ve got one reference to her writing Fantasy and Allegory in Literature for Young Readers but no cites for it elsewhere. Has anyone read it?
  • Born January 13, 1947 Peter Elson. Illustrator whose life was far too short as he died of a heart attack. If you were reading SF between the early seventies and the late eighties, it’s likely that you saw his astonishing artwork. I found covers for the Sphere edition of Asimov’s Pebble in the Sky, a Mayflower edition of Leiber’s Swords Against Death and a Methuen edition in Canada on Zelazny’s To Die in Italbar, which are but a few of the several hundred covers he did. (Died 1998.)
  • Born January 13, 1961 Wayne Coyne, 62. Founder and frontman of the neo-psychedelic band The Flaming Lips which frequently incorporates science-fictional elements in their songs and albums, perhaps most prominently with their 2002 hit album Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots. Coyne also wrote and directed the low-budget 2008 SF movie, Christmas on Mars, which starred members of the Lips and friends, including actors Adam Goldberg and Fred Armisen. (Xtifr)

(11) IN PLAIN SIGHT. “Title Search: Can You Find the 21 Fantasy Books Hidden in This Story?” is the challenge posed on the New York Times’ “Books” page. It’s really not that hard, but you may find it fun to work on.  And the answers appear at the end of the puzzle story.

If you like an adventure with your quest to discover books, try this month’s Title Search challenge, which intentionally hides the names of 21 classic and popular fantasy novels (and graphic novels) within the fictional text passage below.…

(12) MATCHING SCI- WITH -FI. Nancy Kress and Robert Lanza interview each other about their collaboration on the novel Observer: “A Scientist And Sci-Fi Author On Imagining The Future And Breaking The Rules” at CrimeReads.

Scientist Robert Lanza and science fiction author Nancy Kress have co-written a new thriller grounded in deep scientific principles and guided by the writers’ shared passion for technology and biocentrism. Read a conversation between Lanza and Kress below. 

Kress: Robert, you’re a pioneer in stem cell research and in addition to writing dozens of textbooks related to the topic, you’ve written three works of nonfiction on biocentrism, the central concept in our novel, OBSERVER. Why now a novel?

Lanza: I wanted to introduce the ideas of biocentrism ─ where life is the basis of the universe ─ to a broader audience through storytelling to bring to life the science behind the astounding fact that time, space, and reality itself, all ultimately depend upon us, the observer.

(13) LATEST PLAGUE. “Review: ‘The Last of Us’ Is a Zombie Thriller About Single Parenting” says the New York Times’ James Poniewozik.

…The series kicks off in Standard Apocalypse-Onset Mode. Joel (Pedro Pascal), a construction contractor in Texas, starts his birthday in 2003 eating breakfast with his family and ends it amid the chaos of civilization’s collapse. The intense but bloated 81-minute pilot runs up a high body count, making clear that there is minimal plot armor to go around here.

Twenty years later, in 2023, we find Joel in the military-occupied ruins of Boston, a grim, grizzled survivor. Battling fungi does not make one a fun guy. With his black-marketeering partner, Tess (Anna Torv), he lands a job escorting Ellie (Bella Ramsey), a 14-year-old who is immune to zombie bites, on a risky journey that could lead to a cure.

Ellie may or may not be the savior of humanity, but she certainly rescues “The Last of Us” from apocalyptic mope. In “Game of Thrones” (in which Pascal also did time), Ramsey was memorable as Lady Lyanna Mormont, the fearsome child leader of a northern fief. Here she’s all foulmouthed verve, her adolescent insolence turbocharged by the liberation of living after the end of the world. Her fighting spirit is, well, infectious….

(14) ROBO-UMP. Robots have made it to AAA baseball reports The Comeback in “MLB world react to massive umpire news”.

While fans hoping to see robot umpires during the upcoming 2023 Major League Baseball season will still have to wait, they also won’t have to look too far to find them. Robot umpires will reportedly be implemented in all 30 Triple-A stadiums during the 2023 season.

Buster Olney of ESPN reported on Thursday that “The electronic strike zone will be used in all 30 Class AAA parks in 2023.”… 

(15) NO LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION! “Wow! NASA-Funded ShadowCam Captures Dark Side Of The Moon In Stunning Detail” at Hot Hardware.

The first image from ShadowCam reveals the permanently shadowed wall and floor of Shackleton crater in incredible, never before seen detail. NASA-funded ShadowCam is one of six instruments onboard the Korean Aerospace Research Institute’s Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter.

The poles of the Moon are in a perpetual state of dawn to dusk, making it difficult to gather images of the depressions in the dark locations. KPLO has six instruments onboard, one of which is the NASA-funded ShadowCam. The instrument is the younger sibling of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC), Narrow Angle Camera (NAC). LROC has been able to image nearly all of the Moon’s surface, except within permanently shadowed regions (PSRs). ShadowCam will add to our knowledge of the Moon by being able to capture images within those PSRs near the poles….

(16) POETRY IN MOTION. Gizmodo makes the latest science news sound dramatic: “Astronomers Discover Two Invisible Stars Spinning Around Each Other at Breakneck Speed”.

Researchers have found an extreme binary system that features two dwarf stars that are so cool, they don’t emit visible light. And they’re so close together that they take less than one Earth day to orbit around each other.

The system is called LP 413-53AB, and it was identified by researchers from Northwestern University and the University of California San Diego. The two dwarf stars are in a class known as ‘ultracool’—their temperatures are so low that they emit mostly infrared light, rendering them invisible to our eyes (but thankfully not our telescopes). Chih-Chun “Dino” Hsu, an astrophysicist at Northwestern University, led the study and presented the findings at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Seattle this week….

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In the short film “Uprising!” from DUST, “Humanity is being tea-bagged, kill-shotted, and yo-mama-joked out of existence by robots who think they’re teenage gamers.” But kindess will out!

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

Pixel Scroll 1/7/23 Farmers Market In The Sky

(1) IT WASN’T THE HOBBIT. What turned Stephen Colbert into a voracious reader? Science fiction. Specifically, Niven, Asimov, Heinlein, Pohl and more. See “Team Hobbit or Lord of the Rings?” on TikTok.

(2) SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT. Concerning a Slate critic’s claim about Tolkien’s elves, here’s Kalimac’s response from “Ross Douthat writes a fantasy novel”.

…Tolkien’s elves…. only … “essentially good” in the … sense in which they’re broadly good, they’re more good than bad, they aspire to goodness. Read the Silmarillion and you’ll find plenty of elves behaving extremely badly, and a few who are evil the way that Saruman in Lord of the Rings is evil. The reason you don’t find elves like that in Lord of the Rings is that the elves are chastened by their earlier experiences, the ones recounted in the Silmarillion, and aren’t going to make the same mistake again….

(3) SPECULATIVE POETS AT COLLAGE. [Item by Denise Dumars.] Science Fiction and Fantasy fan? Poetry fan? Why not try both together? You will get to do so when members of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association  (SFPA) read their work and discuss the topic at Collage: a place for Art and Culture. You’ll also learn how to join the SFPA and how to find markets for your own poetry in the genres by writers who have published in numerous journals both print and online. Come join us on Sunday, January 15, at 2:00 p.m.. Collage is located at the south end of the Harbor Freeway, at 731 S. Pacific Ave., San Pedro, CA, 90731.   

Speakers:  

  • Wendy Van Camp: Poet Laureate of Anaheim, CA, and Convention Coordinator for the SFPA, Wendy is an award-winning writer who has edited Eye to the Telescope, the online journal of the SFPA, and is currenly nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She edits the Eccentric Orbits series of SF/F poetry anthlogies, and the current issue is nominated for Best Anthology Award. Find her at https://wendyvancamp.com/.  
  • Ashley Dioses: Award winning dark fantasy poet and fiction writer, with books of poetry published by Jackanapes Press and Hippocampus Press, Ashley has been nominated for the Rhysling and Elgin awards for SF/F poetry as well as appearing in such well-known journals as Cemetery Dance and Weirdbook. She blogs at fiendlover.blogspot.com.  
  • Denise Dumars: Columnist for Star* Line, the Journal of the SFPA, and widely published and award-winning poet and short fiction writer, Denise has been a college English instructor and a literary agent. Author of several poetry books and chapbooks, she has been nominated multiple times for the Rhysling, Elgin, and Dwarf Stars awards and is a current nominee for the Pushcart Prize. Find her at www.DeniseDDumars.com.  
  • Jean-Paul L. Garnier: Editor of Star*Line, the Journal of the SFPA, he is the owner of Space Cowboy bookstore, winner of the Critters Best Bookstore award for 2021. His podcast is Simultaneous Times, and he is an independent publisher of SF poetry and fiction. He is a five-time nominee for the Elgin award with several books in print. He contributes to dreamfoundry.org. Find him at https://spacecowboybooks.com/.

(4) PIEZOELECTRIC BOOGALOO. A New York Times writer says, “‘M3GAN’ Makes Us Ask (Again): Who’s Afraid of Dancing Robots?”

…“When you see the Boston Dynamics robots dancing in perfect unison,” Johnstone said, “it’s almost like them looking at us and saying, ‘We can do what you do, and we can do it better,’ in the most obnoxious way.” He chuckled. “Like they’re going to sashay their way toward the extermination of all humanity.”

M3GAN’s ice-cold, ruthlessly calculated “performance” stands in contrast to the human dancing in some recent horror films, where flesh-and-bone bodies reach states of overheated delirium. The choreographer, director and writer Jack Ferver, who worked on the coming horror movie “The Parenting,” said dance horror is effective when the person dancing “transcends their personhood.”

But what does that mean for a nonperson? Robots aren’t dead behind the eyes because they’re in some kind of ecstatic trance; they’re dead behind the eyes because they’re not alive….

(5) MEMORY LANE.

1964 [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.] Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

No. We are not here to talk about the stellar Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory film but rather about the source material that inspired it, Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory novel. It was first published in the U.K. by George Allen & Unwin in 1964 with this edition illustrated by Faith Jaques. (Yes, the US edition was first but we think this one should be considered the true first for reasons below.) 

She was renowned for her work as a children’s book author, illustrator, artist, stamp designer and a very fierce advocate of artists’ rights for control of their work. She was chosen to do the British edition following the controversy over the depiction of the Oompa-Loompas in the US edition of the book where they were African pygmies. Racism at its very worst.

In this edition, as well as the subsequent sequel, Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, was written by Dahl in 1971, the Oompa-Loompas were drawn as being white and appearing similar to hippies and the references to Africa were deleted. All other editions followed this convention.

The story was said to based on Dahl’s experience of chocolate companies including Cadbury during his schooldays sending packages to the schoolchildren in exchange for their opinions on the new products. Popular belief was that the companies sent spies into each other’s factories to scope out new chocolates. 

Because of these practices, companies became highly protective of their chocolate making. It was a combination of this secrecy and the elaborate, often gigantic, machines that looked fantastical to a child that inspired him to write this novel.

There are several editions, each with a different illustrator — Joseph Schindelman (first and revised US editions); Faith Jaques (first UK edition); Michael Foreman (1985 US edition); and Quentin Blake (1995 edition). 

The book as you know as been adapted into two major motion pictures: Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory just several years after it was published, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory that came out about twenty years ago. A prequel film, Wonka, a musical fantasy film, exploring Willy Wonka’s origins will be released in 2023. Timothée Chalamet is Willy Wonka. Really, he is.

Eric Idle narrated the audiobook version of the American Edition of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 7, 1899 F. Orlin Tremaine. He was the Editor of Astounding from 1933 to 1937. It’s said that he bought Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness without actually reading it. Later as Editor at Bartholomew House, he brought out the first paperback editions of Lovecraft’s The Weird Shadow Over Innsmouth and The Dunwich Horror. He wrote a dozen or so short stories that were published in the pulps between 1926 and 1949. (Died 1956.)
  • Born January 7, 1912 Charles Addams. Illustrator best known for the Addams Family which he first drew in 1932 and kept drawing until his death. Needless to say there have been a number of films and series using these characters of which The Addams Family is my favorite. Linda H. Davis’ Charles Addams: A Cartoonist’s Life is well worth seeking out and reading. (Died 1988.)
  • Born January 7, 1913 Julian S. Krupa. Pulp cover and interior illustrator from 1939 to 1971 who graced Amazing Stories and Fantastic. In the Thirties, he also contributed art to fanzines, including Ad Astra. His grandson said that “his Grandfather did all the illustrations for the training films for the first Nuclear Submarines and was a friend to Admiral Rickover. And then continued to do early training films for NASA.” (Died 1989.)
  • Born January 7, 1928 William Peter Blatty. Novelist and screenwriter best known for The Exorcist though he was also the same for Exorcist III. The former is by no means the only genre work that he would write as his literary career would go on for forty years after this novel and would include Demons Five, Exorcists Nothing: A Fable which he renamed Demons Five, Exorcists Nothing: A Hollywood Christmas Carol and The Exorcist for the 21st Century, his final work. (Died 2017.)
  • Born January 7, 1955 Karen Haber, 68. Wife of Robert Silverberg. Author Of the Fire In Winter series (first co-written with Robert) and the War Minstrels series as well. With Robert, she edited three of the exemplary Universe anthologies that Terry Carr had created. Her Meditations on Middle Earth, her essay collection on J.R.R. Tolkien is quite superb. And of course her prequel Thieves’ Carnival to Leigh Brackett’s The Jewel of Bas is stunning.
  • Born January 7, 1962 Mark Allen Shepherd, 61. Morn, the bar patron on Deep Space Nine. Amazingly he was in Quark’s bar a total of ninety-three episodes plus one episode each on Next Gen and Voyager. Technically he’s uncredited in almost all of those appearances. That’s pretty much his entire acting career. I’m trying to remember if he has any lines. He’s also an abstract painter whose work was used frequently on DS9 sets. For all practical purposes, this was his acting career. Do note that we saw more Lurians on Discovery showing that the species is still around even in the 32nd century. 
  • Born January 7, 1971 Jeremy Renner, 52. You know him as Hawkeye in those MCU films but he’s also in a number of other SFF film including Hansel and Gretel: Witch HuntersMission: Impossible – Ghost ProtocolMission: Impossible – Rogue Nation and Arrival.

(7) COMICS SECTION.

  • Catching up with Tom Gauld –

(8) THEY MADE MARVEL. CBR.com contends these are “The 10 Most Important Comics In Marvel History”. For example —

8/10 Fantastic Four #1 Brought The Heroes Back

As the superhero boom died out in the late 1940s, Timely switched to other genres, including romance, teen books, and comedy titles. In 1951, a year after Captain America was canceled, Timely became Atlas News Company and it seemed like the heroes would be gone for good.

But according to legend, a decade later Martin Goodman was playing golf with Jack Liebowitz, the then head of DC Comics when Liebowitz bragged about the company’s success with their new superhero titles, most notably the Justice League of America. Goodman turned to Stan Lee and Jack Kirby to give Atlas their own superhero team, and from that discussion, the Fantastic Four, and “The Marvel Age of Comics,” were born.

(9) HE’S A POE MAN FROM A POE FAMILY. “Dudley did right: Harry Melling on his evolution from Harry Potter to Edgar Allan Poe” is explained by in a Yahoo! profile.

…He first appeared at 10 years old in Sorcerer’s Stone as the hero’s tortuous, spoiled cousin, Dudley Dursley, and would maintain the part into his 20s.

Unlike his contemporaries, he found life on set to be quite isolating at times. “My experience was unique in terms of I wasn’t in it throughout the entire shoot,” the actor, 33, tells EW over Zoom from Los Angeles — now much taller and leaner compared to the plump, rosy-cheeked child with a haughty smirk movie-goers have been used to. “The earthly sequences would very much be an isolated filming block. So, I dipped in, and then I went back to school and normal life.”

Melling never felt as if people would recognize him on the streets of London. “Which I kind of loved,” he quickly adds. To him, fame feels like noise. He counts himself lucky that he hasn’t become traditionally “famous.” “Sometimes it’s nice to just concentrate on the work and what excites you,” he says.

Melling has been able to do just that with his life post-Potter, from his early run in theater to playing chess champ Harry Beltik in the Netflix hit The Queen’s Gambit. However, one role would create a different kind of noise, the kind that would get his industry peers to notice him, if not the public. Seeing Melling as the limbless artist in 2018’s The Ballad of Buster Scruggs would inspire director Scott Cooper (Out of the FurnaceAntlers) to cast the Englishman as a young Edgar Allan Poe in The Pale Blue Eye, Melling’s most impressive on-screen role to date.

“I was struck by that performance,” Cooper tells EW of Melling’s work in Buster Scruggs. “I felt, ‘My God! He would be a really terrific Edgar Allan Poe.’ And as we say in Virginia, he kind of favors Poe. He looks like him.”….

Melling also was interviewed by NPR: “Harry Melling on playing Edgar Allan Poe in the new movie ‘The Pale Blue Eye’”.

…SIMON: The film is set in 1830. But I got to begin by asking, what’s Edgar Allan Poe doing at West Point?

MELLING: I know. That’s what I thought, right? He was there in real life, which is extraordinary….

(10) DOOR HANGER. Found hanging on the internet…

(11) BE FREE. JUNG_E debuts on Netflix on January 20.

Humanity’s hope and ultimate weapon A.I. combat warrior JUNG_E Watch her break free.

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

Pixel Scroll 1/5/23 Plant-Based Baloney Weighed The Solar-Powered Raven Down

(1) OF LANDINGS UNSTUCK. The New York Times’ Carlo Rotella reminds us of the power of words in “Good Fantasy Writing Is Pure Magic”.

As I watched last fall’s showdown of TV’s big-money epic fantasy franchises, I was wincingly reminded that language is the most underrated special effect. Unforced errors of word choice — loose talk of “focus” and “stress” in HBO’s “House of the Dragon,” for example — kept pulling me down from my fantasy high and into the diction of emails from human resources. Case in point: “I have pursued this foe since before the first sunrise bloodied the sky,” says the elf warrior-princess Galadriel in Amazon’s “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.” “It would take longer than your lifetime even to speak the names of those they have taken from me.” She’s adrift on a life raft with a mysterious stranger after a sea-monster attack, and certain dark intimations suggest that eldritch evil draws nigh. So far, so OK, but then her speech reaches its climax: “So letting it lie is not an option.”

Clangalang! Descending from a tagline fashioned by writers of the movie “Apollo 13” from something a NASA flight director said, “X is not an option” has become a staple of business-speak and coach-talk. The writers of Galadriel’s speech couldn’t have killed the buzz any deader if they’d followed up with, “I’m all about laserlike focus 24-7 on getting some closure on this whole Sauron thing.” …

(2) INTERZONE NEWS. [Item by Andrew Porter.] The new version of Interzone now has a website — https://interzone.press/ — which has the covers and Tables of Contents for the next three issues (294 to 296) coming in January, March and May 2023. The style of the covers is certainly quite a change.

(3) WHO RULES? James Davis Nicoll puts a claim to the test in “SF and Fantasy Governments: A Semi-Scientific Survey” at Tor.com.

…Are science fiction and fantasy as rife with autocracies as some have implied? Or is this merely an illusion, one to which I might be subject because I am personally rather tired of autocratic settings?

It’s been nearly a year since my project began. The results are not quite as I expected….

(4) MAY I BUY A VOWEL? Apparently from now on I will be saying it was Turkiye where I ate Turkish Delight in 2004. “US changes to Turkey’s preferred spelling at ally’s request” reports MSN.com.

The [State] department has instructed that new official documents refer to Turkiye instead of Turkey, although the pronunciation will not change, officials said. But neither the State Department website nor the Foreign Affairs Manual, which guides U.S. diplomatic practices, had been revised to reflect the change as of midday Thursday.

“The Turkish embassy requested that the U.S. government use the name “Republic of Turkiye” in communications,” the department said. “We will begin to refer to Turkiye and Republic of Turkiye accordingly in most formal, diplomatic, and bilateral contexts, including in public communications.”

The move comes ahead of an expected visit to Washington later this month by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu during which Turkey’s position on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and its resistance to allowing Finland and Sweden to join NATO will be high on the agenda.

(5) THE MONEY KEEPS ROLLING IN. It sells tickets whether or not critics love it. Deadline has the numbers: “‘Avatar: The Way Of Water’ Tops $1.5B Global, Becomes No. 10 Highest-Grossing Film Of All Time [Worldwide]” .

James Cameron’s Avatar: The Way of Water, as expected (see below), has exceeded $1.5B globally with Wednesday’s figures included. The running total through yesterday is $1,516.5M, meaning that it has overtaken Top Gun: Maverick as the No. 1 worldwide release of 2022. What’s more, it is now the No. 10 biggest movie ever globally.

The 20th Century Studios/Disney sci-fi epic has also in the past day crossed Furious 7 worldwide. Today, it will pass The Avengers to claim the No. 9 spot on the all-time global chart. 

Internationally, it is the No. 9 biggest movie ever, and, in Europe, is the highest-grosser of the pandemic era (having passed Spider-Man: No Way Home). It is also the No. 5 release of all time for the region…. 

(6) MEDICAL UPDATE. Jeremy Renner tweets video update ICU. View it at the link: “A ‘not no great’ ICU DAY, turned to amazing spa day with my sis and mama”.

(7) MEMORY LANE.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

Cowboy Feng’s Space Bar and Grille has the best matzo ball soup in the galaxy. Lots of garlic, matzo balls with just the right consistency to absorb the flavor, big chunks of chicken, and the whole of it seasoned to a biting perfection. One bowl, along with maybe a couple of tamales, will usually do for a meal.

As for entertainment, Feng gets some of the best Irish musicians you’ll ever hear—good instrumental backing, fine singing, some stupendous fiddle playing, and driving energy. Hell, some of the songs are actually Irish.

— Steven Brust’s Cowboy Feng’s Space Bar and Grille

Warning: very mild spoilers by inference. H’h

The novel is, to put it charitably, not one of his better efforts though the food and music scenes are wonderful. Think I’m being harsh? Let’s ask the author:

Not one of my better efforts, I think, but there are bits of it I like. It started out to be funny, developed a serious side, and I was never able to get the elements to blend the way I wanted them to. Grumble grumble. It’s always pleasant to run into someone who liked this book; it means that I can still do all right when I’m not on my game.

I wrote a terrible harsh review of it that I’ll not link that I thought Brust would hate but he wrote me an email saying that even he didn’t like the novel. But his scenes of the characters eating are fantastic: 

Cecil’s? It was a small place with a lot of mirrors and chrome and a little bit of an antiseptic feeling. The food was good, though. We had something that tasted like oyster soup and almost was, then she had a small salad and I had something with beef and mushrooms in a sherry sauce. No complaints.

They also drink a lot of coffee and I do mean a lot of it. They must have sacks of beans in this interstellar hopping cafe. And a hell of a roaster. 

So it’s reading for these scenes and the Irish music scenes herein. The SF story? Well, not so much, say me and the author. 

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 5, 1929 Russ Manning. An artist who created and drew the Gold Key comic book character Magnus: Robot Fighter; who drew the Tarzan comic book from 1965–1969 and the Tarzan newspaper comic strip from 1967 – 1972; and the Star Wars newspaper strip from 1979–1980. (Died 1981.) (bill) 
  • Born January 5, 1940 Jennifer Westwood. Folklorist who I’m including on the Birthday Honors List (if the King can have such a list, I can too) for one of her works in particular, Albion: Guide to Legendary Britain as it has a genre connection that will take some explaining. Ever hear of the band from Minnesota called Boiled in Lead? Well they took their name from a local legend in that tome about a man that was wrapped in lead and plunged in a vat of scalding oil so that he now stands forever in a circle of stones. Among the genre folk that have had a role in the band are Emma Bull, Steven Brust, Adam Stemple, Jane Yolen and Will Shetterly. (Died 2008.)
  • Born January 5, 1941 Hayao Miyazaki, 82. A masterful storyteller who chose animation as his medium. He co-founded Studio Ghibli in 1985 and has directed some of the best loved films of all time. His films include the Oscar winning film Spirited AwayMy Neighbor Tortoro, and adapting the classic novel Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones for the big screen.  (Matt Russell)
  • Born January 5, 1959 Clancy Brown, 64. I first encountered him as the voice of Lex Luthor in the DC animated universe. All of his voice roles are far too extensive to list here, but I’ll single out his work as Savage Opress, Count Dooku’s new apprentice and Darth Maul’s brother, in Star Wars: The Clone Wars.  Very selected live roles include Rawhide in The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension, The Kurgan in Highlander, Sheriff Gus Gilbert in Pet Sematary Two, Captain Byron Hadley in The Shawshank Redemption, Sgt. Charles Zim in Starship Troopers and, one of my favorite weird series, Brother Justin Crowe in Carnivàle.
  • Born January 5, 1966 Tananarive Due, 57. I’m particularly fond of her short fiction which you can find in her BFA winning Ghost Summer collection which also won the Carl Brandon Kindred Award. The Good House and The Between are novels are worth reading for having strong African-American characters.
  • Born January 5, 1975 Bradley Cooper, 48. He’d be here just for voicing Rocket Raccoon in the MCU. In fact he is here just for that role. Mind you he’ll have voiced him six times by that Guardians of The Galaxy Vol 3 comes out, so I’d say he’s got him spot perfect.
  • Born January 5, 1978 Seanan McGuire, 45. Ahhhh, one of my favorite writers. I just finished re-listening to her Sparrow Hill Road stories which was are excellent and earlier I’d read her much of InCryptid series, both of her Indexing books which are beyond amazing and I hope she does more of. 

(9) PROTO WRITING’S EARLIER BEGINNING LEARNED. “Mystery of ancient dots and stripes on Europe’s caves is solved” reports Yahoo!

For decades, researchers had suspected that the seemingly random dots and stripes on cave paintings across Europe contained a hidden meaning, yet they were unable to decipher them.

Now, thanks to the work of a pioneering amateur, the code has been cracked and archaeologists believe that a wave of discoveries is set to tumble forth.

The first great revelation is that ancient humans were using the paintings to track the mating and birthing seasons of wild animals such as cattle, horses and mammoths….

For example, paintings of aurochs, wild ancestors of modern cattle, in Spain had four dots on them. This showed that they were mating four months after “bonne saison” or Paleolithic spring.

Prof Pettitt and Prof Bob Kentridge, also at Durham, helped confirm the findings by proving that there was almost no statistical chance of the results being coincidental.

By showing that the dots were more than just a simple tally, for example of hunting kills, the research has revealed a much higher level of thought among hunter-gatherers said Prof Pettitt…

(10) A THOUGHT EXPERIMENT. John L Ford is a lifelong fan turned author of Science Fiction. He hails from a background in Natural Sciences having a degree in Meteorology. His novel Dominion is an escape into the analogy of Artificial Intelligence.

Where the corrosive power of time failed, Dominion begins. Unable to wear down the chains of grief left in the wake of losing her and stuck in the quagmire of postmortem morosity, Colton is on the verge of hanging his legacy upon the gallery walls of dimmed mediocrity in the museum of unknown history. Then, it happens.

A flash of insight, as though spoken from the grave, it becomes the guiding light; one desperately needed to reinvent purpose and meaning. It is so much of what she meant to him shining through, that internal voice from the past, that it strikes him with an idea so profound it could only result in the ensuing research. Is it fiction or reality?

Leonardo da Vinci visualized flying machines, and the essential aspects of that ‘fiction’ became fact. And just as the genetics of his ideas evolved into man-made dragonflies and humming birds, Colton Reinholt, a physicist, with a unique mind for synthesis, drafts an idea, too.

Borrowed by observation of actual physiological biology, he uses solid state physics to reconstruct a natural paradigm only ever achieved by evolution’s miracle, the human mind. Thus, what emerges in this physical and ethereal journey simply must carry more than mere soupcon of riveting plausibility.

So, through accelerating technological forces on the world often charging boldly before compunction, we are compelled by our own evolution to satisfy an unstoppable desire for discovery. What is really meant by the phrase, ‘Artificial Intelligence’? This is what we adventure through experimental exploration into the energy of the mind.

What begins as an innocent thought experiment, frolicsome dabbling fuses with technical knowhow and its synthesis results in a fantastic gestalt. By bridging disparate scientific disciplines, it ultimately gives rise to a power that may either become benevolent or malevolent. For despite all human conceits, the answer to the question of good versus evil is not one we are capable to define.

Available from Amazon.com and Amazon.ca.

(11) ROBORAPTORS. Behind a paywall in Nature, “A robotic bird of prey scares off nuisance flocks in a flash – and they don’t seem to get wise to the deception”. “Plagued by problem birds? Call RobotFalcon!”

Birds that hit aeroplane windscreens or are sucked into jet engines can cause accidents and costly damage, so airfields work to keep birds — particularly flocking birds — away. Trained falcons are more effective than scarecrows, but are expensive to keep and need to rest between patrols.

Rolf Storms at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands and his colleagues designed a robotic raptor to take over the task.

Collisions between birds and airplanes can damage aircrafts, resulting in delays and cancellation of flights, costing the international civil aviation industry more than 1.4 billion US dollars annually.

The RobotFalcon is a practical and ethical solution to drive away birdflocks with all advantages of live predators but without their limitations.

Primary research here.

(12) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Adam Savage, in this video which dropped Sunday, continues his trip to London examining an original Christopher Reeve Superman suit and how they built such suits before Spandex was invented.

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

Pixel Scroll 12/11/22 Pixels Fluttering In A Scrolling Breeze

(1) ATWOOD Q&A. In the New York Times, “Margaret Atwood Offers Her Vision of Utopia”. “The pre-eminent writer of dystopian literature would build dome homes, wear mushroom leather and compost corpses.”

Margaret Atwood is one of the world’s foremost writers of dystopian literature, having imagined such worst-case horrors as a theocracy that forces fertile women to bear children for the rich (“The Handmaid’s Tale”) and a bioengineered virus capable of eradicating humankind (“Oryx and Crake”).

But she is also a profound optimist and pragmatist. Despite real-life calamities like the worsening climate crisis and social inequality, Ms. Atwood often dreams of better futures. Shortly before she turned 83 last month, she taught an eight-week course, “Practical Utopias,” on Disco, an online learning platform in Canada.

About 190 students from 40 countries imagined how to rebuild society after a cataclysmic event — say, a pandemic or rising sea levels. Proposals for “real, better living plans that could actually work” (and “not sci-fi epics or fantasies,” the syllabus stated) included amphibious houses built on stilts, high-end cuisine from food waste, and lowering the voting age to 14 to bolster democracy.

Ms. Atwood, who taught the class from her home office in Toronto, surprised students by submitting her own vision for a post-apocalyptic community, called Virgule (“after the French word for comma, indicating a pause for breath,” she said)….

(2) THEY’RE THE MOST. Amal El-Mohtar names her eleven choices for “The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of 2022” in the New York Times.

Completing a novel is a difficult feat in the best of times, and we haven’t had any of those in a while. Because publishing moves slowly, this year brought us several novels that were drafted or revised during the upheavals of 2020, only to be released into a very different world. I want to recognize and celebrate the many, many hands laboring to make books in the face of so many challenges: not only authors but editors, agents, artists, designers, typesetters, copy editors and publicists. Of all the books I read this year, the following stood out as the most accomplished, astonishing or a heady mix of both. They’re arranged in the order I read them….

(3) LA FILM CRITICS AWARDS. The list of winners of the Los Angeles Film Critics Awards 2022 is headed by Everything Everywhere All at Once which tied with the non-genre film Tár for Best Picture. Other winners of genre interest include:

  • Best Supporting Actor: Ke Huy Quan, Everything Everywhere All at Once.
  • Best Production Design: Dylan Cole and Ben Procter, Avatar: The Way of Water (20th Century Studios)
  • Best Animation: Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio (Netflix)

(4) DOUBLE FEATURE. Dashboard Horus brings readers “Denise Dumar’s two poems: ‘Seeing the Comet’ and ‘My Father Walks to Siberia from Nome, Alaska’”. The verses are at the link. Here’s the introduction:

 Denise Dumars’s poem, “Snails,” is currently nominated for the Rhysling Award for short science fiction, fantasy, and horror poetry. Her most recent collection of poems, Paranormal Romance: Poems Romancing the Paranormal, was nominated for the Elgin Award. She has three short stories coming out in anthologies in 2022, including the HWA anthology Other Terrors: An Inclusive Anthology. A retired literary agent and college English professor, she now writes full-time and helms Rev. Dee’s Apothecary: A New Orleans-Style Botanica, at www.DyanaAset.com….

(5) CHRIS BOUCHER (1943-2022). Actor Chris Boucher died December 11 reports Kaldor City News.

All of us at Magic Bullet are very sorry to hear of the death this morning of Chris Boucher, co-creator of Kaldor City, writer of Doctor Who: The Face of EvilThe Robots of Death, and The Image of the Fendahl, script editor of Blake’s 7; and creative stalwart of many other genres of television…. 

(6) MEMORY LANE.

2012 [By Cat Eldridge.] Agatha Christie Memorial 

The idea of creating the Agatha Christie Memorial which is called The Book was the idea of Mathew Prichard, her grandson, and Stephen Waley-Cohen, producer of The Mousetrap play since 1994.  They also were responsible for it actually coming into being. 

They identified the perfect location for it at St Martin’s Cross, a major road junction which is also the major pedestrian route from Leicester Square to Covent Garden, in the heart of London’s theatre district.  Not at all surprisingly, Westminster City Council gave formal consent.  

The Book The memorial was unveiled on 25 November 2012, to commemorate the 60th anniversary of The Mousetrap play, is, no surprise, in the form of a book, and is about eight feet high, bronze of course, and appears to float above its base. It is lit from below and from within. The center of it contains a larger than life sized bust of her.

She is surrounded by images of some of her creations, and information about her life and work.  The inscription on the front simply reads “Agatha / Christie / 1890–1976”. 

On The Book appear titles of some of her most popular and famous books and plays, in English and some of the many other languages into which her work has been translated. The titles included were chosen in a competition among her fans.

The sculptor was Ben Twiston-Davies who is now working on a life sized statue of her which will be erected in her hometown of Wallingford, in Oxfordshire, which is due to be unveiled in 2023.  

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 11, 1926 Dick Tufeld. His best known role, or at least best recognized, is as the voice of the Robot on Lost in Space, a role he reprised for the feature film. The first words heard on Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea are spoken by him: “This is the Seaview, the most extraordinary submarine in all the seven seas.” He’s been the opening announcer on Spider-Man and His Amazing FriendsSpider-WomanThundarr the BarbarianFantastic Four and the Time Tunnel. (Died 2012.)
  • Born December 11, 1937 Marshal Tymn. Academic whose books I’ve actually read. He wrote two works that I’ve enjoyed, one with Neil Barron, Fantasy and Horror, is a guide to those genres up to mid-Nineties, and Science Fiction, Fantasy and Weird Fiction Magazines with Mike Ashley as his co-writer is a fascinating read indeed. A Research Guide to Science Fiction Studies: An Annotated Checklist of Primary and Secondary Sources for Fantasy and Science Fiction is the only work by him available in a digital form. (Died 2020.)
  • Born December 11, 1944 Teri Garr, 78. A long history of genre film roles starting in Young Frankenstein as Inga before next appearing in Close Encounters of the Third Kind as Ronnie Neary. Next is the horror film Witches’ Brew where she was Margaret Lightman. She voices Mary McGinnis in Batman Beyond: The Movie, a role she has does on a recurring basis in the series. Series wise, shows up uncredited in the Batman series in the “Instant Freeze” as the Girl Outside the Rink. And of course, she’s Roberta Lincoln in Star Trek’s “Assignment Earth” episode. She has a number of other genre roles, none as interesting as that one. 
  • Born December 11, 1957 William Joyce, 65. Author of the YA series Guardians of Childhood which is currently at twelve books and growing. Joyce and Guillermo del Toro turned them into in a rather splendid Rise of the Guardians film which I enjoyed quite a bit. The antagonist in it reminds me somewhat of a villain later on In Willingham’s Fables series called Mr. Dark. Michael Toman in an email says that “I’ve been watching for his books since reading Dinosaur Bob and His Adventures with the Family Lazardo back in 1988.”
  • Born December 11, 1959 M. Rickert, 63. Short story writer par excellence. She’s got stellar three collections to date, Map of DreamsHoliday and You Have Never Been Here, and two novels. I’ve not read her latest novel, The Shipbuilder of Bellfairie which follows her first novel, The Memory Garden, and would like your opinions on it.
  • Born December 11, 1962 Ben Browder, 60. Actor best known, of course, for his roles as John Crichton in Farscape and Cameron Mitchell in Stargate SG-1.  One of my favorite roles by him was his voicing of  Bartholomew Aloysius “Bat” Lash in Justice League Unlimited “The Once and Future Thing, Part 1” episode.  He’d have an appearance in Doctor Who in “A town Called Mercy”, a Weird Western of sorts. I just discovered Farscape is streaming on Peacock. It appears they picked all of the Scifi channel offerings.
  • Born December 11, 1965 Sherrilyn Kenyon, 57. Best known for her Dark Hunter series which runs to around thirty volumes now. I realize in updating this birthday note that I indeed have read several of these and they were damn good. She’s got The League series as well which appears to be paranormal romance, and a Lords of Avalon series too under the pen name of Kinley MacGregor. She has won two World Fantasy Awards, one for her short story, “Journey Into the Kingdom”, and one for her short story collection, Map of Dreams

(8) CLOSE BUT NO ENCOUNTER FOR THIS EFFECT. “Close Encounters Of The Third Kind’s Script Featured A Scene Even Steven Spielberg Couldn’t Pull Off”Slashfilm chronicles the many problems with the errant effect.

…The scene in question involved “cuboids,” which are described in Michael Klastorin’s “Close Encounters: The Ultimate Visual History” as “dozens and dozens of illuminated cubes that were dispersed by the three scout ships at the landing strip.” They’re basically puckish entities that buzz around the technicians at Devil’s Tower, seeking out cameras and posing for pictures. Eventually, according to Spielberg’s screenplay, they would “burst into ‘galactic golden dust that races in all directions’ and envelop the assembled spectators. One of these particles bores painlessly into Neary’s hand, coursing brightly around his veins until it burns out.

What went wrong? Just about everything….

(9) THIS WAY TO THE EGRESS. Looper offers this list of “Sci-Fi Movies That Made Audiences Get Up And Leave”. They may be right, however, I was waiting for one that never showed up – A Clockwork Orange – which I saw at the Chinese Theater when it opened, and the people in the row ahead of me all got up and left when the ultraviolence started.

When you purchase a ticket to see a movie, you’re always hoping to have a good time. Maybe you’ll be dazzled by some incredible action, given some good jokes to laugh at, or a few emotional moments of drama to entertain for a couple of hours. Every once in a while, you sit down in the cinema only to be treated to a horrific experience for one reason or another and wish you’d never bought that cursed ticket….

(10) SOFTWARE FOR WARFARE. “Killer robots have arrived to Ukrainian battlefields” according to Coda Story.

…Meanwhile, NATO allies like the Netherlands are already testing AI-powered robotics. Lieutenant Colonel Sjoerd Mevissen, commander of the Royal Netherlands Army’s Robotics and Autonomous Systems unit, said every war is a technology test. 

“We see a big advantage in the future, having these types of systems,” he said, referring to the THeMIS unmanned ground vehicle. “It will also lower the cognitive and physical burden for soldiers when they are able to deploy more of these vehicles.”

Colonel Mevissen said pricing — each unit costs approximately $350,000 — remains a significant barrier to having these types of robots fighting side by side with soldiers in the short term. 

Russia’s war of aggression has spurred Ukrainian homegrown military tech innovation. Ukrainian soldiers have modified commercial drones for the frontlines, and a whole suite of tech ingenuity has come together in groups. Ukrainians call it hromada, a self-organized community.

In late October, Ukraine’s Minister of Digital Transformation Mykhailo Fedorov told a NATO conference that Ukraine was developing “Delta,” a situational awareness platform that helps soldiers locate enemy troops and advises on the best coordinated responses. Delta was instrumental in helping Ukrainian troops retake Kherson from Russia, in what Fedorov described as “World Cyber War I.”…

(11) VIDEO OF THE DAY. We revisit astronaut Chris Hadfield’s “Space Oddity” from 2013.

A revised version of David Bowie’s Space Oddity, recorded by Commander Chris Hadfield on board the International Space Station.

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

Pixel Scroll 12/9/22 Where We’re Scrolling, We Won’t Need Pixels

(1) AUTHOR SIGNING ANNOUNCED. Catherine Asaro is doing a signing/panel next week on Wednesday, Dec 14, 2022 at 7:00 pm in the Port Jefferson Library, NY with two other authors, Sarah Beth Durst and Kelley Skovron. If you can attend, register here. Asaro explains why registration, while optional, will help assure all three can attend:

You can do a walk in instead of registering, and many people do. However, that means that they don’t know how many will show up or even if anyone will come. Kelly Skovron has to travel from Washington D.C. to Long Island, a several day trip for her, with the associated costs, so if they don’t get enough pre-registrations, she may not be able to come.

Sarah and I will be there regardless because we are local, but it would be lovely if they had enough sign-ups that they felt okay about asking Kelley to come.

Here’s the full address for the library: 150 East Main Street, Port Jefferson, NY 11777. Phone: (631) 509-5707. Web site: portjefflibrary.org

(2) THE BOOK IN HAND. “Shelf Awareness for Friday, December 9, 2022” includes “Reading with… Denise Crittendon”.

Journalist Denise Crittendon has been a newspaper reporter, magazine editor, motivational speaker, ghostwriter and adjunct community college professor. …Where It Rains in Color (Angry Robot, December 6, 2022), an Afrofuturistic sci-fi/fantasy, is her debut novel…. 

On your nightstand now: 

The Deep by sci-fi author Rivers Solomon. Considering the controversy about a Black actress starring in Disney’s The Little Mermaid, this novel is pretty timely. Solomon tends to write passionate speculative fiction that incorporates the transatlantic slave trade. In The Deep, she offers an inventive twist on what happened to Africans who either jumped from ships during the Middle Passage or were thrown overboard due to illness.

Your top five authors:

Octavia Butler–I’m amazed by her extraordinary vision and fascinating usage of the natural world for organic technology. In her Lilith’s Brood series (DawnAdulthood Rites and Imago), the space vessel is an actual living being. Also, the aliens in this world can place sleeping humans inside biologically altered carnivorous plants, thereby prolonging their lives for centuries…. 

(3) CONDENSED CREAM OF WHO. SYFY Wire reveals “Doctor Who Season 14 shortened, to feature just 8 episodes”.

The Tenth Doctor may be in (again), but David Tennant’s return trip as Doctor Who himself — this time as time traveler no. 14 in the venerable sci-fi series — won’t require quite as many TARDIS trips when the reportedly shorter, 8-episode new season finally does arrive.

Season 14 showrunner Russell T. Davies, also back at the reins of Doctor Who after famously helping revive the series back in 2005, recently explained to Doctor Who Magazine (via Bleeding Cool) that the new season might be compact, but that it also should serve as just the first tasty bite in a more ambitious slate of bigger doings within the endlessly discoverable Who-verse.

… While it’s not known whether, or where, in Season 14 the story might find Tennant’s Fourteenth Doctor ceding the role over to inbound Fifteenth Doctor Ncuti Gatwa, both Tennant and Gatwa are still on track to take up the Time Lord’s mantle as the series picks up where outgoing Thirteenth Doctor Jodie Whittaker left off.

(4) YEAR’S TOP VIEWING. The Hollywood Reporter lists “AFI Best Movies and TV Shows of 2022”.

The American Film Institute has revealed its picks for the best movies and TV shows of 2022.

The group’s picks for the 10 best films are, in alphabetical order: Avatar: The Way of Water, Elvis, Everything Everywhere All at Once, The Fabelmans, Nope, She Said, Tár, Top Gun: MaverickThe Woman King and Women Talking.

On the TV side, AFI’s picks for the 10 best TV shows of the year are, again alphabetically, Abbott ElementaryThe BearBetter Call Saul, Hacks, Mo, Pachinko, Reservation Dogs, Severance, Somebody Somewhere and The White Lotus.

(5) WYLIE PROFILE. It’s not about his sff, however, you may be interested: “The Man Who Hated Moms: Looking Back on Philip Wylie’s ‘Generation of Vipers’” in LA Review of Books.

IN 1943, PHILIP WYLIE, then best known for his cosmic disaster novel When Worlds Collide (1933) and its sequel, After Worlds Collide (1934), dropped a literary bombshell into the laps of readers with Generation of Vipers (1943), a blistering critique of American society whose impact has yet to be equaled….

(6) A CENTURY OF VAMPIRA. American Cinematheque in Los Angeles is offering tickets to various events that are part of “Vampira’s 100th Birthday Celebration!” on December 11.

On Sunday, December 11th, The American Cinematheque remembers Maila “Vampira” Nurmi with a 100th birthday celebration. We have a a book signing with Sandra Nieme for Maila Nurmi’s biography Glamour Ghoul prior to the screening of the Tim Burton classic ED WOOD followed by a panel with screenwriters Scott Alexander & Larry Karaszewski, author Sandra Niemi (Glamour Ghoul), filmmaker Ray Greene (VAMPIRA AND ME) and make-up legend Ve Niell (ED WOOD) moderated by comedian Dana Gould and Ed Wood’s classic PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE preceded by a reel of rare footage of Vampira’s TV appearances in the 1950’s. It’s a one-night only special celebration of a very special woman.

(7) MEMORY LANE.

1999 [By Cat Eldridge.] Statues of Sherlock Holmes

Tonight we are discussing two statues of Sherlock Holmes done by the same sculptor. Yes statues. Being a fictional character of his stature, it wouldn’t do for there to be just one statue to honor him, would there.

The first is almost where you would expect to be which would be 221B Baker Street. It was dedicated on September 23rd,1999 with this  sculpture being  funded by the Abbey National building society whose headquarters were on the fictional site of that address. 

Unfortunately there was no place on Baker Street for this sculpture by John Doubleday who also crafted as The Beatles and Laurel and Hardy to be erected so it is located outside Baker Street tube station on Marylebone Road, near both the detective’s fictional home at 221B Baker Street and the Sherlock Holmes Museum between numbers 237 and 241.

The nearly ten foot high bronze statue depicts Holmes wearing an Inverness cape and a deerstalker and holding a calabash pipe, attributed as first given to him by Sidney Paget, the illustrator of Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories for The Strand Magazine.

The other statue is I think more interesting.

It completed by John Doubleday in 1988 and shows the great detective a few hours before his final and fatal encounter James Moriarty at the Grand Reichenbach Fall.  He is just sitting, just thinking one presumes, as you can see in the first image. 

On the statue and, in the second image you’ll see the plaque next to the statue are sculpted clues, most of which are symbols. It is said by obsessed Sherlock Holmes fans that with intent observation one can compile a complete list of all the sixty Sherlock Holmes stories from these symbols. Huh. 

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 9, 1848 Joel Chandler Harris. American journalist, fiction writer, and folklorist who is best known for his collection of Uncle Remus stories. He’s white and the stories are about the ‘Brer Rabbit’ stories from the African-American oral tradition. Some, like Henry Louis Gates, Jr., credit him for preventing these tales from being lost, while some others criticize his work as cultural appropriation. James Weldon Johnson called them “the greatest body of folklore America has produced.” (Died 1908.)
  • Born December 9, 1900 Margaret Brundage. An illustrator and painter who is now remembered chiefly for having illustrated Weird TalesHere is her first cover for them.  She’s responsible for most of the covers for between 1933 and 1938. Wiki claims without attribution that L. Sprague de Camp and Clark Ashton Smith were several of the writers not fond of her style of illustration though other writers were. She’d win the Retro Hugo at CoNZealand for Best Professional Artist after being nominated four times before. And she’s a member of the First Fandom Hall of Fame. (Died 1976.)
  • Born December 9, 1902 Margaret Hamilton. Most likely you’ll remember her best as The Wicked Witch in The Wizard of Oz. She would appear later in The Invisible Woman, along with much later being in 13 Ghosts, a horror film, and she had a very minor role in The Night Strangler, a film sequel to The Night Stalker. And then there were her coffee commercials in the Seventies — absolute fantasy! See Maxwell House Coffee ad with Margaret Hamilton. (Died 1985.)
  • Born December 9, 1911 Don Ward. Author of H. Rider Haggard’s She: The Story Retold. More intriguingly, he ghost-wrote works credited according to ESF to both Alfred Hitchcock (Bar the Doors: Terror Stories) and Orson Welles (Invasion from Mars: Interplanetary Stories). He also worked with Theodore Sturgeon on Sturgeon’s West. (Died 1984.)
  • Born December 9, 1934 Judi Dench, 88. M in a lot of Bond films. Aereon in The Chronicles of Riddick, Queen Elizabeth in Shakespeare in Love which is at genre adjacent, Society Lady in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and Miss Avocet in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. Her very first genre film in the late Sixties, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, was poorly received by critics and I recall her role being a mostly nude faerie. 
  • Born December 9, 1947 Sarah Smith, 75. She has authored King of Space, a work of genre fiction published as a hypertext novel by Eastgate System, one of the first such works. She’s written two conventional genre novels, The Knowledge of Water and The Other Side of Dark, plus a double handful of short fiction and essays.
  • Born December 9, 1952 Nicki Lynch, 70. She and her husband Rich Lynch edited Mimosa which won six Best Fanzine Hugos and was nominated a total of 14 times. She and her husband have been members of WSFA, the Southern Fandom Confederation, the Chattanooga Science Fiction Association. She has also been a member of SAPS, SFPA, Myriad (Galactic Hitch Hiker), and LASFAPA.  
  • Born December 9, 1970 Jennifer Brozek, 52. She picked up a Hugo nomination at Sasquan for Best Editor Short Form for the Beast Within 4: Gears & Growl steampunk anthology (she also edited numbers 2 and 3 in the series). Her novel The Last Days of Salton Academy garnered a Stoker nomination.

(9) WILDLIFE ANTICIPATION. “A little girl in California has been granted a license to keep a unicorn” reports NPR.

Madeline wrote to LA county officials asking for approval to keep a unicorn in her backyard if she could find one.

The animal control department agreed, granting her their very first unicorn license….

Insider quotes the county’s letter to Madeline: “LA County gave a girl a ‘unicorn license’ for her backyard — but only if she gives the mythical creature ‘regular access to rainbows’ and biodegradable glitter”.

…The department responded to her in a letter penned by Marcia Mayeda, the director of the Los Angeles County Department of Animal Care and Control, on November 30. In the letter, Mayeda granted the license Madeline sought, as long as she followed the county’s conditions for keeping a unicorn, including caring for the pet in compliance with Title 10 of the Los Angeles County Code, which lays out the county’s laws for animal control and health.

Additionally, any unicorn owners must give their magical pets “regular access to sunlight, moonbeams, and rainbows,” Mayeda explained in the letter, adding that the unicorn must be fed watermelon — “its favorite treats” — at least once a week. 

In order to maintain the unicorn’s horn in “good health,” Madeline would be required to polish it “at least once a month with a soft cloth.” Also, “any sparkles or glitter used on the unicorn must be nontoxic and biodegradable.”… 

(10) DAILY ROBOTS. [Item by Bruce D. Arthurs.] Came across this on Twitter from a fellow who does a coloring Advent picture every year. Only saw it yesterday, so it’s a bit late for the start of Advent, but it thought it was pretty adorable even as a standalone collection of cartoon robots.

(11) OVERFLOW. The Guardian profiles a famous Stephen King movie adaptation: “’The police came because of the sea of red gore’: unseen photos from the set of The Shining”.

Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining has legions of admirers the world over – not the least Lee Unkrich, director of Pixar classics including Toy Story 3 and Coco. Unkrich spent years collecting pictures, artefacts and stories about the making of the film, uncovering deleted scenes and getting to grips with its most obscure details. Here are a collection of unseen photographs from his forthcoming book about the 1980 horror classic…

…“Stanley was extremely nervous,” said Leon Vitali, actor and personal assistant to Kubrick, of the infamous blood elevator shoot. “We didn’t know if it was going to work. It was a one-off. We had thousands of gallons of this stuff that was going to be coming out of those elevator doors and it had to work … It was so beautiful you wanted to hug [him].” To the horror of nearby residents, a good deal of the blood allegedly escaped from the studio into the surrounding areas, and police were called to address the sea of red gore running through town….

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Daniel Dern, Bruce D. Arthurs, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, and Chris Barkley for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jake.]

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

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

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

Highlights

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

The next report is slated for 2025.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

…The special SOL SYSTEM issue won’t happen.

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

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

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

How did you come to develop your theory of biocentrism?

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

How did this partnership begin?

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

(7) MEMORY LANE.

2019 [By Cat Eldridge.] Rudyard Kipling statue 

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

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

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

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

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

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

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Daniel Dern, Soon Lee, Dann, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jim Janney.]

Pixel Scroll 11/27/22 A Long Time Ago, When Pixels Scrolled The Earth, A Filer Was Climbing Mount Tsundoku

(1) BROADCAST MUSIC. Rolling Stone assures us these are the 100 “Best TV Theme Songs of All Time”.

WE APOLOGIZE IN advance for all the TV theme songs we are about to lodge back into your heads. Or maybe we should preemptively accept your thanks?

Despite periodic attempts to contract or outright eliminate them, theme songs are a crucial part of the TV-watching experience. The best ones put you in the right mindset to watch each episode of your favorite, and can be just as entertaining in their own right as any great joke, monologue, or action sequence. So we’ve decided to pick the 100 best theme songs of all time — technically 101, since there are two as inextricably linked as peanut butter and jelly — and attempted to rank them in order of greatness….

John King Tarpinian has scouted ahead and says these numbers are genre: 77, 75, 65, 54, 42, 39, 33, 29, 24, 18, 17, 11, 06.

The highest sf TV show theme is from The Twilight Zone. It lodges at number six between the themes from Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. (Speaking of number six – I’m shocked to learn that the theme from The Prisoner is not on the list at all.)

P.S. I’m sure John would want me to mention that the theme from Rachel Bloom’s TV show Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is even higher, at number four.

(2) BEYOND GOOSEBUMPS. LA Review of Books hosts ”Stine Still Scares: A Conversation with R. L. Stine”.

DANIELLE HAYDEN: So, could you please tell me a little more about the upcoming comic series, Stuff of Nightmares? And I know some of your earliest work was comics. So how does that feel?

R. L. STINE: Well, yeah, when I was nine, I did comics.

Well, yes, I just mean, like, kind of, full circle now.

You know, I’m having a lot of fun. I’m working with BOOM! Studios in Los Angeles. And I did a series of comic books for them called Just Beyond, which was sort of Twilight Zone for kids. And it became a Disney+ series. We had eight episodes. That was fun. Now I’m doing this for adults; I’m actually writing something for grown-ups. And it’s really gruesome stuff. It’s like my version of Frankenstein. And so, I’m having fun with it. Comic books are fun to write. Forces me to be more visual, you know?…

(3) CSSF VIRTUAL BOOK CLUB. The next title in the Gunn Center for the Study of SF’s (CSSF) monthly virtual book club is Sofia Samatar’s A Stranger in Olondria. This debut novel about a merchant’s journey to the distant land of Olondria where he finds himself haunted by a mysterious force is the 2014 winner of the World Fantasy Award. 

…We hope it’ll be a wonderful read for folks who have ever been “the new person,” or experience homesickness or wanderlust.

Join them on December 16 at noon (Central Time) for our virtual meeting. Register here. Also, this programming is running all year, click here to see what’s in the Book Club’s future.

(4) THE WORDS THAT MAKE THE WHOLE WORLD SING. Today I learned that Chris Weber published Sentient Chili and Stranger Filk: Lyrics to 107 Songs of Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Fandom this summer. Good work!

“Filk” is the term applied to the fan music of science fiction and fantasy. Readers and viewers of the genre will find familiar faces and tales. These lyrics cover topics from movies and television to books and original stories. Much of the collection leans towards humor, while touching other emotional chords as well. The stanzas have the feel of ’80s nostalgia but are not exclusively from that era.

The collection is like the contents of the proverbial box of chocolates, bite-sized and filled with surprises.

(5) IGLESIAS INTERVIEW. “Three Questions for Gabino Iglesias Regarding His Novel ‘The Devil Takes You Home’” at LA Review of Books.

DANIEL A. OLIVAS: The hero (or antihero, if you will) of The Devil Takes You Home is a man who has suffered unspeakable personal loss, not to mention a self-inflicted rupture in his marriage. He feels deep remorse and guilt, yet he is hopeful that one big score will restore some of what he’s lost. Could you talk about how you created Mario and what you wanted to explore through his journey?

GABINO IGLESIAS: One of the things I love the most about horror and crime fiction is that both genres share a heart: at their core are good people who are thrown into bad situations. Mario is all of us — far from perfect but not bad. He’s desperate and the system doesn’t offer him many options. Most people know what that feels like. I wrote about 45,000 words of The Devil Takes You Home while writing for various venues, teaching high school full-time, and teaching an MFA course at SNHU at night. Then I lost the high school teaching gig and my health insurance along with it, and this happened in June 2020, just as the pandemic was raging. I would read about people getting sick and then receiving astronomical medical bills. I was angry and worried, and I injected all of that into Mario. Hopefully that will make him resonate with people, especially with those who understand that good people sometimes do awful things for all the right reasons.

(6) BOOGIEPOP. The second episode of the Animation Explorations Podcast is “Boogiepop & Others (2019) – Breaking it all Down”.

This month, David, Tora, and Alexander Case look at the 2019 adaptation of the successful adaptation of some of the Boogiepop light novels

(7) GOING BACK TO WAKANDA. “Ryan Coogler talks Black Panther sequel ‘Wakanda Forever’” at NPR.

…The film has clearly touched a chord with audiences. It’s already earned more than $300 million in the U.S. and is expected to top the Thanksgiving weekend box office. So we wanted to talk with director and co-writer Ryan Coogler. He says the film, although about grief, shows the sort of rebirth that occurs in the face of insurmountable loss. And he began by telling me what it was like to reimagine the film’s story, which had already been written before Boseman died.

RYAN COOGLER: It was really complicated. It was difficult technically, because Joe and I had a lot of work to do to figure out what this new movie would be without him and without the character. But it was also complicated because me and everybody involved were navigating our own emotional journey, how to deal with losing our friend. So it was admittedly like the most difficult professional thing I’ve ever done and probably the most difficult personally as well….

(8) MAGNIFYING SMALL PRESS PUBLISHING. Cora Buhlert posted “Small Press – Big Stories: Some of Cora’s Favourite Small Press SFF Books of 2022”, an overview done as part of Matt Cavanaugh’s project to highlight small press SFF. First on Cora’s list:

Mage of Fools by Eugen Bacon

African-Australian writer Eugen Bacon is clearly a rising star in our genre. Yet the first time I heard of her was, when I was asked to feature her novel Claiming T-Mo, published by Meerkat Press, at the Speculative Fiction Showcase back in 2019.

Eugen Bacon’s latest release is Mage of Fools, also published by the good folks of Meerkat Press. Mage of Fools is a unique science fantasy tale set in the dystopian world of Mafinga, a polluted hellhole where books, reading and imagination are forbidden by law. Protagonist Jasmin is a widowed mother of two young children as well as the owner of a forbidden story machine. Possessing such a machine is punishable by death and when Jasmin’s story machine is discovered, she faces execution. However, she gets a temporary reprieve… for a terrible price. Because the queen of Mafinga, who cannot have children of her own, wants Jasmin’s children…

Mage of Fools is a great SFF novel, that manages to be both grim and hopeful at the same time. And since Eugen Bacon is also a poet, the novel is beautifully written as well.

(9) MEMORY LANE.

1994 [By Cat Eldridge.] Emma Bull’s Finder: A Novel of The Borderland

I sliced strawberries with all my attention. They were particularly fine ones, large and white clear through without a hint of pink. (Wild Borderland strawberries are one of the Border’s little jokes. They form bright red, and fade as they ripen. No strawberry has ever been so sweet.) — Orient in Emma Bull’s Finder: A Novel of The Borderlands

One of my frequently re-read novels is this one. It’s a comfort read in every meaning of that word. And yes, I do have a personally signed as I do of Bone Dance as well. Of course they’re on the chocolate gifting list.

Emma released this novel on Tor twenty-eight years ago. It’s one of three novels done on the shared world created by Terri Windling, a ruined city sharing a Border with the Fey. Most of the fiction here is short stories, novellas and poetry. This novel and two done by her husband, Will Shetterly, Elsewhere and Nevernever, are the only novels done. His are also excellent.

So why do I like her novel so much that I’ve read it at least a dozen times?

MAJOR SPOILERS FOLLOW. REALLY THEY DO. GO GET A DRINK IN THE DANCING FERRET.

First, it has a first-person narrator in Orient, a young male, who has the psychic ability to find anything if the right question is asked. So when his elf friend, Tick Tock, asks him to find her missing wrench in exchange for supper, little does he know that his life will become the whim of others. There are plenty of characters, all well-fleshed out, and all moving the story along.

Second, it has a compelling story weaving two apparently disparate plots that are here into a single thread that makes perfect sense. And Emma pulls no punches; bad things will happen to folks no matter how central they are to the story including what happens TO Tick Tock which made me cry. A lot of story get packed into its just over three hundred pages and it moves smartly along.

Third, Emma does the best job in this long running series of making the central setting (naturally called Bordertown) feel as if it were an actual place, a neat trick as too many such places feel not quite real. The short stories quite frankly fail at doing this as they focus more on making the characters be Really Cool.

Everything here really does feel as if you could walk down Mock Avenue, have a drink in the Dancing Ferret, and hear the Horn Dance perform as they came down the street on their magic fuelled wheeled motorcycles.

COME BACK NOW, THE HORN DANCE HAS LEFT FOR NOW.

If you like this, I suggest the newest anthology, Welcome to Bordertown: New Stories and Poems of the Borderlands, which Holly Black and Ellen Kushner edited a decade or so back, is well worth your time as are the older anthologies. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 27, 1907 L. Sprague de CampThe Tales from Gavagan’s Bar he wrote with Fletcher Pratt are my favorite works by him. Best novel by him? I’d say that’s Lest Darkness Fall. His only Hugo was awarded at LoneStarCon 2 for Time & Chance: An Autobiography. He got voted the First Fandom Hall of Fame Award, and he got World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement. His very first Award was an IFA for Lands Beyond that he wrote with Willy Ley. (Died 2000.)
  • Born November 27, 1935 Verity Lambert. Founding Producer of Doctor Who. (When she was appointed to Who in 1963, she was BBC Television’s only female drama producer, as well as the youngest.) After leaving BBC, she’d oversee the Quatermass series at Thames. She’d return to BBC to Executive Produce three seasons of So Haunt Me, a supernatural series.  Wiki has her script editing and appearing in a fan-made episode of Doctor Who called “A Happy Ending” in 2006, which is notable for the presence of Susan, played by Carole Ann Ford, the granddaughter of the First Doctor. (Died 2007.)
  • Born November 27, 1940 Bruce Lee. His only genre role was as Kato in The Green Hornet which to my utter surprise only lasted for twenty-six episodes between 1966 and 1967. He also appeared on Batman in three episodes, “The Spell of Tut”, “Batman’s Satisfaction”, and “A Piece of The Action”. Despite the various weird rumors, including Triad induced curses about his death, it was quite mundane. Donald Teare, an experienced forensic scientist who had been recommended by Scotland Yard was assigned to the Lee case. His conclusion was “death by misadventure” caused by cerebral edema due to a reaction to compounds present in the combination Equagesic medication. (Died 1973.)
  • Born November 27, 1951 Melinda M. Snodgrass, 71. She wrote several episodes of Next Generation while serving as the story editor during its second and third seasons. She also wrote scripts for SlidersStrange LuckBeyond RealityOdyssey 5, Outer Limits and SeaQuest DSV. She’s a co-editor of and frequent story contributor to George R. R. Martin’s Wild Cards series.
  • Born November 27, 1957 Michael A. Stackpole, 65. Best known for his myriad Star Wars and BattleTech books, but I’m going to single him out for the excellent Once a Hero which was nominated for a Nebula, his Conan the Barbarian novel, and the two Crown Colonies novels.
  • Born November 27, 1961 Samantha Bond, 61. Best known for playing Miss Moneypenny in four James Bond films during the series’ Pierce Brosnan years. She was also Mrs Wormwood in three episodes of The Sarah Jane Adventures, the spin-off of Doctor Who, and played Helga in Erik the Viking which written and directed by Terry Jones. 
  • Born November 27, 1974 Jennifer O’Dell, 48. Her only meaningful role to date, genre or otherwise, has been that of Veronica on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World. She’s had some minor roles such on Charmed and Bones, and appearances on films such as Alien Battlefield but nothing major.

(11) BOOP BOOP A DOOP. ScreenRant knows this question has been on your mind: “How Does Luke Skywalker Understand What R2-D2 Says In Star Wars?”

In the original Star Wars trilogy, Luke Skywalker and R2-D2 have several interactions together, but it’s not entirely clear how the Jedi learned to understand what the astromech droid is saying. Droids have always been a key component of the Star Wars franchise, with some of them being so intelligent they can speak multiple languages, such as R2’s companion, protocol droid C-3PO. Artoo, however, has only ever spoken in the default droid language known as “Binary,” which contains a mixture of whistles, chirps, and beeps, both loud and quiet…. 

(12) KSR DROPPING. A little credit gets directed at Kim Stanley Robinson in the New York Times’ article “Douglas Brinkley Would Like to Invite Thoreau to Dinner”.

The historian, whose new book is “Silent Spring Revolution,” would also invite E.O. Wilson and Rachel Carson: “We could talk about the 11,000 bird species the Cornell Lab of Ornithology is helping to conserve in the face of climate change.”

What’s the last great book you read?

During the pandemic I was transfixed by George R. Stewart’s “Earth Abides,” perhaps the most frightening doomsday thriller of all time. Most of American civilization collapses because of a strange disease, but a Berkeley ecologist is one of the rare survivors of the epidemic. Stewart wrote the book about 75 years ago, but his description of empty cities and the power of nature unleashed seem very contemporary in a world of Covid and climate change. It holds up well, and Kim Stanley Robinson wrote a fine introduction for the 2020 edition.

(13) BANG BANG. “San Francisco police consider letting robots use ‘deadly force’” reports The Verge.

…As reported by Mission Local, members of the city’s Board of Supervisors Rules Committee have been reviewing the new equipment policy for several weeks. The original version of the draft didn’t include any language surrounding robots’ use of deadly force until Aaron Peskin, the Dean of the city’s Board of Supervisors, initially added that “robots shall not be used as a Use of Force against any person.”

However, the SFPD returned the draft with a red line crossing out Peskin’s addition, replacing it with the line that gives robots the authority to kill suspects. According to Mission Local, Peskin eventually decided to accept the change because “there could be scenarios where deployment of lethal force was the only option.” San Francisco’s rules committee unanimously approved a version of the draft last week, which will face the Board of Supervisors on November 29th….

(14) INSTANT MUSIC VIDEO. Boing Boing told readers that “Gifaanisqatsi generates Koyaanisqatsi-style montages with random GIFs and sets them to Philip Glass’s looming score” – and what they’d like to see next.

Gifaanisqatsi is outstanding. Click it and off it goes, grabbing random GIFs and setting them, with a little treatment (such as time-lapse and slow-mo) to Philip Glass’s score to Koyaanisqatsi. The result is comically nihilistic, confirming both the trivial universality of the movie’s sentiments and that the sense of the awe commanded by the filmic tone poem format is now available at zero marginal cost.

Suggestion: a “Qataaniskoysi” option that restricts the GIFs in use to cats.

(15) FEEL FREE TO LOOK OUT THE WINDOW. “See the Far Side of the Moon: Incredibly Detailed Pictures From Artemis I Orion Close Lunar Flyby” at SciTech Daily.

…On the sixth day of the Artemis I mission, Orion made a close flyby of the Moonpassing about 81 miles (130 km) above the surface. During the close flyby, Orion’s optical navigation camera captured black-and-white images of craters on the Moon below. Orion uses the optical navigation camera to capture imagery of the Earth and the Moon at different phases and distances, providing an enhanced body of data to certify its effectiveness under different lighting conditions as a way to help orient the spacecraft on future missions with crew….

[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Cora Buhlert, 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 Hampus Eckerman.]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eileen Gunn

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(7) MEMORY LANE.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bradbury is stellar here. Truly brilliant.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

First on the list:

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

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

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

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

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

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

10/10 Gray Hulk

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pixel Scroll 9/22/22 On Tsundoku Did OGH, A Stately Pixel-Scroll Decree

(1) TO BOLDLY SNIFF. No need to be shy about writing this subgenre:“Imagining The Real World by Rae Mariz” at Stone Soup.

…I write climate fiction and it took me a while to realize how saying that in a declarative sentence made publishing professionals recoil like I’d asked them to smell my skunk. I put it proudly in my pitches and query letters. Climate! Fiction!… Smell! My! Skunk! I didn’t know you weren’t supposed to say the c-word in polite company. I’m still not sure why that is, why it’s not something people are actively “looking for” in fiction. Because for me, stories are ideal places to work out the tangles of complicated issues—especially the “what are we not talking about when we refuse to talk about the climate crisis?” questions….

(2) BAIKONUR BOOGIE. Today I learned there is also a Russian Space Forces (they use the plural). And I’m told this is their anthem. You can dance to it!

(3) WINDOW ON CHICON 8. Keith Stokes’ photos of the Worldcon are now online at “Chicon 8 – the 2022 World Science Fiction Convention”.

Here’s his shot of the Chengdu Worldcon exhibit table.

(4) TOLKIEN IN THE BOOT. The New York Times covers “Hobbits and the Hard Right: How Fantasy Inspires Italy’s Potential New Leader”

Giorgia Meloni, the hard-right leader who is likely to be the next prime minister of Italy, used to dress up as a hobbit.

As a youth activist in the post-Fascist Italian Social Movement, she and her fellowship of militants, with nicknames like Frodo and Hobbit, revered “The Lord of the Rings” and other works by the British writer J.R.R. Tolkien. They visited schools in character. They gathered at the “sounding of the horn of Boromir” for cultural chats. She attended “Hobbit Camp” and sang along with the extremist folk band Compagnia dell’Anello, or Fellowship of the Ring.

All of that might seem some youthful infatuation with a work usually associated with fantasy-fiction and big-budget epics rather than political militancy. But in Italy, “The Lord of the Rings” has for a half-century been a central pillar upon which descendants of post-Fascism reconstructed a hard-right identity, looking to a traditionalist mythic age for symbols, heroes and creation myths free of Fascist taboos.

“I think that Tolkien could say better than us what conservatives believe in,” said Ms. Meloni, 45. More than just her favorite book series, “The Lord of the Rings” was also a sacred text. “I don’t consider ‘The Lord of the Rings’ fantasy,” she said….

(5) HORROR FILM MAGAZINE INTERVIEWS VERTLIEB. The new issue of We Belong Dead Magazine, the prestigious British horror film magazine, includes a twelve-page interview and color layout on the life and times of Steve Vertlieb. It’s issue No. 31, and is available now at Barnes and Noble, and wherever good books and magazines are sold throughout the globe. Get your copy now!

(6) I LIVE IN A CLOCK NOW. Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele take on steampunks in this 2020 sketch. “When Your Friend Goes Steampunk”.

(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.  

1997 [By Cat Eldridge.] Time Travel series aren’t exactly rare, are they? A quarter of a century ago on this evening one such series, Timecop, premiered on ABC. It was based on the much more successful Jean-Claude Van Damme Timecop film. Yes, I liked that film a lot. 

If you blinked you missed this series as it lasted just nine episodes before the cancellation blues played out.

Mark Verheiden who later co-produced the more successful Falling Skies series for TNT created this series. 

It starred Ted King as the Timecop, Officer Jack Logan. You may remember him as Andy Trudeau on Charmed during its first season. There is only one character, Captain Eugene Matuzek, carried over from the film, but the premise is the same. 

And yes, the beautiful female character trope held true here. 

I wouldn’t say its originality quota was high as here’s the story for the pilot: “A time traveler from the twenty-first century kills Jack the Ripper and takes his place.” That Jack becomes the main antagonist.

Nine of the thirteen episodes ordered were televised. No, there’s not four unaired episodes out there as they were never produced.

A trilogy continuing the story was published by Del Rey Books: The ScavengerViper’s Spawn and Blood Ties.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 22, 1917 Samuel A. PeeplesMemory Alpha says that he’s the person that gave Roddenberry the catch phrase he used to sell Star Trek to the network: “[As] fellow writer Harlan Ellison has credited him with the creation of one of the most famous catch phrases in Star Trek lore, “[Gene Roddenberry] got ‘Wagon Train to the stars’ from Sam Peeples. That’s what Gene said to me. They were at dinner and Sam Peeples, of course, was a fount of ideas, and Gene said something or other about wanting to do a space show and Sam said, ‘Yeah? Why don’t you do Wagon Train to the stars?’” (Died 1997.)
  • Born September 22, 1939 Edward A. Byers. Due to his early death, he has but two published novels, both space operas, The Log Forgetting and The Babylon Gate. EOFSF says “Byers was not an innovative writer, but his genuine competence raised expectations over his short active career.” There’s no sign his double handful of stories was collected, though his two novels are in-print. (Died 1989.)
  • Born September 22, 1952 Paul Kincaid, 70. A British science fiction critic. He stepped down as chairman of the Arthur C. Clarke Award in April 2006 after twenty years. He is the co-editor with Andrew M. Butler of The Arthur C. Clarke Award: A Critical Anthology. He’s also written A Very British Genre: A Short History of British Fantasy and Science Fiction and What It Is We Do When We Read Science Fiction. His latest publication is The Unstable Realities of Christopher Priest.
  • Born September 22, 1954 Shari Belafonte, 68. Daughter of Harry Belafonte, I first spotted her on Beyond Reality, a Canadian series that showed up when I was living in upstate Vermont. You most likely saw her as Elizabeth Trent in Babylon 5: Thirdspace as that’s her most well known genre performance. Bet hardly of you saw her as Linda Flores in Time Walker, an Eighties SF horror film, or the Mars SF film in which she played Doc Halliday. 
  • Born September 22, 1957 Jerry Oltion, 65. His Nebula Award winning Abandon in Place novella is the beginning of the Cheap Hyperdrive sequence, a really fun Space Opera undertaking. Abandon in Place was nominated for a Hugo at LoneStarCon 2 (2013). The Astronaut from Wyoming was nominated for a Hugo at Chicon 2000. 
  • Born September 22, 1971 Elizabeth Bear, 51. I’m only going to note the series that I really like but of course you will course add the ones that you like. First is her White Space series, Ancestral Space and Machine, which I’ve read or listened to each least three times.  Next up is the sprawling Promethean Age series which is utterly fascinating, and finally The Jenny Casey trilogy which just came out at the usual suspects.
  • Born September 22, 1982 Billie Piper, 40. Best remembered as the companion of the Ninth and Tenth Doctors, she also played the dual roles Brona Croft and Lily Frankenstein in Penny Dreadful. She played Veronica Beatrice “Sally” Lockhart in the BBC adaptation of Philip Pullman’s The Ruby in the Smoke and The Shadow in The North. 
  • Born September 22, 1985 Tatiana Maslany, 37. Best known for her superb versatility in playing more than a dozen different clones in the Orphan Black which won a Hugo for Dramatic Presentation (Short Form) at the 73rd World Science Fiction Convention for its “By Means Which Have Never Yet Been Tried“ episode. She received a Best Actress Emmy and more than two dozen other nominations and awards. She is Jennifer Walters / She-Hulk in the new Marvel She-Hulk series.

(9) COMICS SECTION.

(10) IT COULD ALWAYS GET WORSE. Stephen King reviews Celeste Ng’s Our Missing Hearts for the New York Times: “Celeste Ng’s Dystopia Is Uncomfortably Close to Reality”.

The definition of “dystopia in the Oxford English Dictionary is bald and to the point: “An imaginary place in which everything is as bad as possible.”

Literature is full of examples. In “The Time Machine,” the Morlocks feed and clothe the Eloi, then eat them. “The Handmaid’s Tale” deals with state-sanctioned rape. The firefighters in “Fahrenheit 451” incinerate books instead of saving them. In “1984”’s infamous Room 101, Winston Smith is finally broken when a cage filled with rats is dumped over his head. In “Our Missing Hearts,” Celeste Ng’s dystopian America is milder, which makes it more believable — and hence, more upsetting.…

(11) MORE HORRIFYING THAN PUMPKIN SPICE. “Demonic Doll ‘Chucky’ Gets Pumpkin Beer for Halloween”. The official collaboration between Elysian Brewing and NBCUniversal has been launched to celebrate the second season of Chucky’s eponymous TV show. (That red color comes from the added cranberry juice.)

…”Chucky is one of Halloween’s most iconic, beloved characters, and we have found the perfect partner in Elysian Brewing to capture his spirit this season,” Ellen Stone, executive vice president for entertainment consumer engagement and brand strategy at the networks’ parent company NBCUniversal Television and Streaming, stated. “This custom pumpkin beer provides a fresh, unique way for fans and beer fanatics alike to quench their thirst with a taste of Chucky ahead of the season two premiere….

(12) IRON CONTRACT. “’Iron Widow’ YA Bestseller to Be Adapted Into Movies” reports Variety.

Iron Widow,” the New York Times bestselling novel by Xiran Jay Zhao, is headed to the big screen.

Erik Feig’s Picturestart has obtained adaptive rights and is plotting a franchise around the science fiction premise, with J.C. Lee (of the forthcoming “Bad Genius” remake) set to write the screenplay.

The book is set in the fictional world of Huaxia, where humanity’s only hope against alien invaders are giant transforming robots called Chrysalises, which require a boy-girl pair to pilot…. 

(13) THE 3-D LAWS OF ROBOTICS. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Nature’s cover story is about new robots — move over Asimov… “Builder drones”.

Ground-based robots have potential for helping in the construction industry, but they are limited by their height. In this week’s issue, Mirko Kovac, Robert Stuart-Smith and their colleagues introduce highly manoeuvrable aerial robots that can perform additive 3D construction tasks. Inspired by natural builders such as wasps and bees, the researchers created BuilDrones (as shown on the cover) that can work in an autonomous team to perform 3D printing tasks using foam- or cement-based materials. They also created ScanDrones to assess the quality of the structures being built. The team hopes that this approach of ‘aerial additive manufacturing’ could help to build structures in difficult to access areas.

Aerial-AM allows manufacturing in-flight and offers future possibilities for building in unbounded, at-height or hard-to-access locations.

(14) JWST LOOKS AT NEPTUNE. “New Webb Image Captures Clearest View of Neptune’s Rings in Decades”. Read the NASA release at the link.

…Webb also captured seven of Neptune’s 14 known moons. Dominating this Webb portrait of Neptune is a very bright point of light sporting the signature diffraction spikes seen in many of Webb’s images, but this is not a star. Rather, this is Neptune’s large and unusual moon, Triton….

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Ryan George takes you inside the Pitch Meeting that led to Pinocchio (2022)!

[Thanks to Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, N., Lise Andreasen, Alan Baumler, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Steve Vertlieb, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jayn.]

Pixel Scroll 8/29/22 Of All The Pixels In The World, She Scrolls Into Mine

(1) THE SECOND TIME AROUND? Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki tweeted that he went to a new visa appointment today. He had not posted about the outcome as of this writing.

(2) OFFICIAL SOCIAL MEDIA FOR CHICON 8 – ACCEPT NO SUBSTITUTES. The Worldcon committee warns that some people are now trying to spoof their social media accounts. Please remember the only official Chicon 8 social media links are @chicagoworldcon — for Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

If you spot any others, please feel free to tell them at either [email protected] or [email protected] so they can follow up.

(3) STAR CHART: THE OFFICIAL CHICON 8 NEWSLETTER. The 2022 Worldcon newsletter is primarily online and is now starting to publish things. Find it here: https://chicon.org/star-chart/

(4) FUTURE TENSE. The August 2022 entry in the Future Tense Fiction series, published this past Saturday, is “The Only Innocent Man,” by Julian K. Jarboe (author of the Lambda Award–winning collection Everyone on the Moon is Essential Personnel), a story about digital communities, privacy, and the ghosts of our online pasts.

It was published along with a response essay, “The plight of the former fanfiction author” by Casey Fiesler, a professor of information science who specializes in ethics, law, and privacy online.

 I commonly start a lecture about online privacy by giving a room full of college students a task: In five minutes, who can find the most interesting thing about me on the internet?

Typically this exercise yields precisely what I intend—showcasing the variety of sources of information about all of us online. Someone once found the movie reviews I wrote for my college newspaper; a close family member’s obituary; my recipe for snickerdoodles that apparently once resulted in marriage proposals on Instagram. If it’s been a while since I’ve scrubbed it, my home address might appear on a public data website.

And one year, a student raised his hand and confidently announced, “Dr. Fiesler, I found your fanfiction!”…

(5) MIND TRICK. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] This “banned book list” fooled Mark Hamill: “Viral list of ‘banned’ books in Florida is satire” explains Politifact.

…Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, tweeted “books we have taught for generations,” alongside the list. She later said she should have “double-checked” before sharing. 

“Star Wars” actor Mark Hamill also shared a screenshot of the list on Twitter — amassing more than 100,000 likes and 24,000 retweets. 

The Florida Department of Education did not respond to PolitiFact’s request for comment. However, the governor’s office called the list “completely fictitious.”

“The image is fake,” said Bryan Griffin, DeSantis’ press secretary. “There is no banned book list at the state level. The state sets guidelines regarding content, and the local school districts are responsible for enforcing them.”

Griffin also noted that the state’s Benchmarks for Excellent Student Thinking, or B.E.S.T., standards recommend several of the books included in the “anti-woke” list. 

“To Kill a Mockingbird” and Jack London’s “The Call of the Wild” are recommended to eighth graders in Florida. George Orwell’s “1984” is a suggested book for ninth graders, while John Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men” and William Golding’s “Lord of the Flies” is recommended for 10th graders….

(6) SLEAZY PUBLISHER NEWS. A YA fantasy novelist chronicles her encounters with a sleazy publisher for Literary Hub: “What Five Years with a Predatory Vanity Press Taught Me About Art and Success”.

…In truth, I did nothing so wrong, over a decade ago, when I signed the contract with the Oklahoma-based press that promised to fulfill my childhood dream of becoming a published author. It wasn’t my fault that the company went bankrupt after the CEO was discovered embezzling funds from the writers who paid to have their books poorly edited, cheaply bound, and narrowly distributed. It was probably my fault that I hadn’t done thorough research into the industry, but I was seventeen and couldn’t detect a scam tastefully disguised under a pretty contract and alleged Christian values….

(7) WHAT FILERS THRIVE ON. The Millions knows you will be looking for their mistakes after you read “How Many Errorrs Are in This Essay?”, an article about typos.

…A 1562 printing of the sternly doctrinaire translation the Geneva Bible prints Matthew 5:9 as “Blessed are the placemakers” rather than “peacemakers;” an 1823 version of the King James replaced “damsels” in Genesis 24:61 with “camels,” and as late as 1944 a printing of that same translation rendered the “holy women, who trusted God… being in subjection to their own husbands” in 1 Peter 3:5 as referring to those pious ladies listening to their “owl husbands.”…

(8) NECRONOMICON. The New York Times probably doesn’t run a con report very often, I bet. “A Festival That Conjures the Magic of H.P. Lovecraft and Beyond”.

There’s bacon and eggs, and then there’s bacon and eggs at the Cthulhu Prayer Breakfast. Named after the cosmically malevolent and abundantly tentacled entity dreamed up by Howard Phillips Lovecraft, the event, among the most popular at NecronomiCon Providence 2022, filled a vast hotel ballroom at 8 a.m. on a recent Sunday.

To the delighted worshipers, Cody Goodfellow, here a Most Exalted Hierophant, delivered a sermon that started with growled mentions of “doom-engines, black and red,” “great hammers of the scouring” and so on.

Then the speech took a left turn.

“​​I must confess myself among those who always trusted that a coven of sexless black-robed liches would change the world for the better,” said Goodfellow, who had flown in from the netherworld known as San Diego, Calif. “But the malignant forces of misplaced morality have regrouped from the backlash that stopped them in the ’80s, and the re-lash is in full swing.”…

(9) HUCK HUCKENPOHLER (1941-2022). [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] J.G. “Huck” Huckenpohler died on August 26 in Washington, D.C. He was born in 1941.  He was a major figure in Edgar Rice Burroughs fandom, had a substantial collection of Burroughs material and attended many Burroughs conventions, as well as staffing tables promoting Burroughs fandom at Balticon and Capclave.  He was an active member of the Panthans, the Burroughs Bibliophiles chapter in Washington, and the Silver Spring Science Fiction Society.

(10) JOSEPH DELANEY (1945-2022). Author Joseph Delaney died August 16 at the age of 77. The English writer was known for the dark fantasy series Spook’s, which included several arcs, The Wardstone Chronicles, The Starblade Chronicles, and The Spook’s Apprentice: Brother Wolf. And he wrote many other works.

(11) MEMORY LANE.  

1947 [By Cat Eldridge.] All good things must come to an end and thus it was with the Thin Man film series that concluded with its sixth installment, Song of the Thin Man, which premiered this weekend in 1947.  

There was of course no Dashiell Hammett novel of the same name as Hammett never wrote a sequel, so everything here was up of made up of whole cloth. Steve Fisher and Noel Perrin were the scriptwriters who based it off a story by Stanley Roberts who had done, to put it mildly, a lot of westerns before this. 

William Powell is Nick Charles and Myrna Loy is Nora Charles. The chemistry between the two is quite charming and is befitting what Hammett created in the original novel.

This story is set in the world of nightclub musicians, so naturally we see such performers as Jayne Meadows, Gloria Grahame and Phillip Reed. 

Nick and Nora’s son shows up twice in the series. The first time has Richard Hall being credited as Nick Jr.; here an eleven year old Dean Stockwell is Nick Charles Jr.  Surprisingly (to me at least) he had done eight films already. 

The film cost cost $1,670,000 to make and grossed only $2,305,000.  It lost $128,000. Those figures by the way came from Eddie Mannix who had a ledger in which he maintained detailed lists of the costs and revenues of every MGM film produced between 1924 and 1962, an important reference for film historians. Fascinating as a certain Trek officer would’ve said. 

(In the next decade, The Thin Man television series aired on NBC from 1957–59, and starred Peter Lawford and Phyllis Kirk. It ran for seventy episodes.)

The Song of the Thin Man gets a rather stellar seventy one percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes.

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 29, 1854 Joseph Jacobs. Australian folklorist, translator, literary critic and historian who became a notable collector and publisher of English folklore. Many of our genre writers have use of his material. “Jack the Giant Killer” became Charles de Lint’s Jack Of Kinrowan series, Jack the Giant Killer and Drink Down the Moon, to give an example. (Lecture mode off.) Excellent books by the way. (Died 1916.)
  • Born August 29, 1904 Leslyn M. Heinlein Mocabee. She was born Leslyn MacDonald. She was married to Robert A. Heinlein between 1932 and 1947. Her only genre writing on ISFDB is “Rocket’s Red Glare“ which was published in The Nonfiction of Robert Heinlein: Volume I.  There’s an interesting article on her and Heinlein here. (Died 1981.)
  • Born August 29, 1942 Gottfried John. He’s likely best-known as General Arkady Orumov in GoldenEye but I actually best remember him as Colonel Erich Weiss on the extremely short-lived Space Rangers. He was Josef Heim in the “The Hand of Saint Sebastian” episode of the Millennium series, and played König Gustav in the German version of Rumpelstilzchen as written by the Brothers Grimm. (Died 2014.)
  • Born August 29, 1942 Dian Crayne. A member of LASFS, when she and Bruce Pelz divorced the party they threw inspired Larry Niven’s “What Can You Say about Chocolate-Covered Manhole Covers?” She published mystery novels under the name J.D. Crayne. A full remembrance post is here. (Died 2017.)
  • Born August 29, 1951 Janeen Webb, 71. Dreaming Down-Under which she co-edited with Jack Dann is an amazing anthology of Australian genre fiction which won a World Fantasy Award. If you’ve not read it, go do so. The Silken Road to Samarkand by her is a wonderful novel that I also wholeheartedly recommend. Death at the Blue Elephant, the first collection of her ever so excellent short stories, is available at iBooks and Kindle though Dreaming Down-Under is alas not.
  • Born August 29, 1953 Nancy Holder, 69. She’s an impressive four-time winner of the Bram Stoker Award. I’m not much of a horror fan so I can’t judge her horror novels for you but I’ve read a number of her Buffyverse novels and I must say that she’s captured the feel of the series quite well. If you are to read but one, make it Halloween Rain.
  • Born August 29, 1954 Michael P. Kube-McDowell, 68. A filker, which gets major points in my book.  And yes, I’m stalling while I try to remember what of his I’ve read. I’m reasonably sure I’ve read both of his Isaac Asimov’s Robot City novels, and now I can recall reading Alternities as well which was most excellent. God, it’s been twenty years since I read him. I’m getting old. 
  • Born August 29, 1959 Rebecca de Mornay, 63. May I note she made a deliciously evil Milady de Winter in The Three Musketeers (1993)? She’s Clair Dupin in The Murders in the Rue Morgue, Wendy Torrance in The Shining miniseries (no, I never heard of it) and Penelope Decker in several episodes of Lucifer. Oh, and she was Dorothy Walker in Marvel’s Jessica Jones series

(13) ROBOSECURITY. [Item by Francis Hamit.] Any resemblance to a certain Dr. Who character is unintended. You note it does not have arms.  I’ve owned shares in this company since 2017 and will security jobs going begging I think the company has a great future.  Knightscope is listed on the NASDAQ as KSCP.  Right now the shares are at an all-time low.  They won’t be for long. Full disclosure:  Finding new accounts is my side hustle. “Robot helps Northeast Portland hotel cut down on vandalism” reports KATU.

…General Manager Mike Daley says they got him because they were having a lot of issues with vandalism from homeless encampments in the area.

They tried hiring human security but had a lot of staffing issues, so they explored the robot as an option and say it’s work out really well.

Daley says that while the robot isn’t cheap, he provides a lot of security 24 hours a day for less money than it would cost to pay a human to do the same job.

“He patrols a lot, constantly, as you’ve seen,” he said. “He’s got 360-degree cameras, scans license plates. He’s got thermal imaging, so if he sees a guest or somebody that’s at a car, he will gravitate over to that person to check them out. He’s got a noise factor, so people know where he is and know he’s coming.”

Anytime he encounters someone, he immediately alerts the front desk. That person can then see what the robot sees, talk through the robot to anyone in the parking lot and can determine if further action is needed, such as calling 911.

He’s also popular among hotel guests. Daley says people like to get their picture taken with him.

(14) PIGS IN SPACE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Washington Post, Christian Davenport explains why the politics of funding NASA ensured that Artemis was incredibly difficult to build, with “SLS” standing for “Senate Launching System” because NASA projects have to have pork for every district. “NASA SLS moon rocket readied for first launch as Artemis program begins”.

The rocket was late, again. The initial launch date, the end of 2016, was long gone. And in the spring of 2019, Jim Bridenstine, the NASA administrator at the time, was told it’d be another year or more before NASA’s Space Launch System would be ready.

He was furious and threatened to replace the rocket with one built by the fast-growing private space sector, such as SpaceX. But Bridenstine’s attempt to bench NASA’s rocketwas quickly rebuffed by the powerful interests, including Sen. Richard C. Shelby (R-Ala.), the chairman of the appropriations committee. Those interests had shepherded the SLS through thickets of controversy since its inception more than a decade ago.

Now, after years of cost overruns and delays, damning reports by government watchdogs and criticisms from space enthusiasts and even parts of NASA’s own leadership, the SLS endures, as only a rocket built by Congress could….

(15) ONE HELL OF A PICTURE. “An AI Was Asked To Draw What Hell Looks Like — The Results Are Naturally Disturbing” warns MSN.com

Come on, folks, what do you expect when you ask an artificial intelligence to draw what hell looks like?

That’s right, you get some seriously disturbing stuff to look at. In fact, one of the images riffs on classic paintings of Satan that somehow look even scarier now.

This is the link to the video: “AI generated image of hell” on TikTok.

(16) PLAYING IN THE SANDBOX. This trailer for a new Dune game dropped last week at gamescom: Dune: Awakening.

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