Pixel Scroll 1/26/23 First, They Came For The Pixels, But I Was Not A Pixel, So I Scrolled Nothing

(1) REVISED 2025 WORLDCON BID DEADLINE. The Chengdu Worldcon has recalculated the deadline for 2025 Worldcon bids to file in order to appear on the printed ballot. They tweeted:

According to Section 4.6.3 of the WSFS Constitution, the new deadline for any bidding party to have its name appearing on the printed ballot for the 2025 Worldcon Site Selection is April 21, 2023. For any inquiry, please contact [email protected]

(2) TWO DC TV SERIES WHACKED. “Doom Patrol, Titans canceled at HBO Max after four seasons” reports SYFY Wire.

The DC TV slate is getting thinner by the day. Both Doom Patrol and Titans have been canceled at HBO Max, with each DC-based series set to end for good when their current seasons are done. 

Reported at the same time, news of each cancelation on Wednesday elicited a rapid followup tweet from James Gunn, the recently-hired co-CEO (alongside Peter Safran) of the rebranded DC Studios. Gunn clarified that the move to end both Doom Patrol and Titans was decided before he was elevated to the studio’s top position, while Deadline reported that each show is building toward planned ending episodes aimed at delivering series finales that won’t close things out with any cliffhangers….

(3) EKPEKI Q&A. Kristy Anne Cox, in Strange Horizon’s “Writing While Disabled” column, speaks with Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki: “Writing While Disabled By Kristy Anne Cox, By Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki”.

KAC:  So, how do you fit into the Disabled community? 

ODE:  I only started to refer to myself as Disabled after publishing my novelette “O2 Arena,” so I’m approaching the Disabled community in baby steps. Though, I’ve been Disabled all my life. Regarding speculative fiction, my current story, which was nominated for the Hugo Award, the Nebula, and the BSFA, is the first where I’ve identified as Disabled.

KAC:  Yeah. I mean, that’s common for Disabled people like us, right? Some of us use the word Neurodiverse instead. You may not even understand you are Disabled until you get your diagnosis—and depending on which disability you have, you may or may not have access to a Disabled community. 

Chovwe, do you mind if I ask you what disabilities you have? I do that so our Disabled and Neurodiverse readers can relate their experiences to yours.

ODE:  Sure. Since birth, I have had chronic sinusitis—it’s a respiratory illness. I have perforated ear drums from the sinusitis infection, which means I’m hearing impaired. It’s all connected, like a network of disabilities springing from one. 

That’s respiratory and hearing. Then, because of my chronic sinusitis, I am more susceptible to respiratory illnesses, so I had pneumonia and tuberculosis somewhere along the line. It sort of leaves your lungs a little scarred, you know? I have weaker lungs, and an entire network of respiratory problems.

From my tuberculosis, I got damage to my spine, so I have chronic back pain, too. Chronic sinusitis, hearing loss, chronic back pain, and general breathing difficulties—that’s about it for now.

KAC:  I mean, that’s enough, right? Well, I welcome you into my Disabled communities….

(4) HARPERCOLLINS STRIKE NEWS. “HarperCollins, HarperUnion Move to Solve Labor Dispute with Independent Mediator” – details at Publishers Weekly.

In a company-wide memo sent on January 25, HarperCollins announced that it has reached an agreement with its employee union to have a mutually-agreed-upon independent mediator take over labor negotiations. With more than 200 union employees on strike since November 10, the company said that it hopes a mediator will be able to clear “a path forward” for employees to return to work.

“We entered negotiations eager to find common ground, and we have remained committed to achieving a fair and reasonable contract throughout this process,” reads the memo from HC’s v-p of human resources, Zandra Magariño. “We are optimistic that a mutually agreed upon mediator can help find the solutions that have eluded us so far.”

The memo seemed to strike a different tone than the open letter from CEO Brian Murray published early last month, in which he argued that the union’s demands for livable wages “failed to account for the market dynamics of the publishing industry” and the company’s “responsibility to meet the financial demands” of its business stakeholders. In contrast, Magariño’s memo said that HarperCollins is “optimistic that a mutually agreed upon mediator can help find the solutions that have eluded us so far. HarperCollins has had a union for 80 years, with a long history of successful and fair contract negotiations. The company has the exact same goal now, and is actively working to achieve it.”

The union confirmed the mediator on Twitter, and in its own press release, this morning. “We are hopeful the company will use this opportunity to settle fairly and reset our relationship,” it wrote, adding: “This means our pressure campaign is working. The strike will continue until we reach a fair contract agreement. Please continue to hold the line.”

(5) A DUEL OF WITS WITH AN UNARMED OPPONENT. Camestros Felapton continues his explorations of Larry Correia’s In Defense of the Second Amendment.

…Larry Correia will get to the “tired proposals” that he believes can’t work in Chapter 4 but logic is not going to play a big role.

Chapter 1 “Guns and Vultures” sets out Correia’s broad argument and covers briefly several of the themes that he will discuss at greater length in later chapters. Numerous points are made but I think it is reasonable to say that the overarching theme of the chapter is about who the true victims of American gun violence are from Correia’s perspective….

Which is to say, gun owners.

Imagine a public debate on transport policy, with a focus on increased pedestrianisation of town centres. Fewer cars, fewer accidents, safer streets and a more congenial place to shop or visit a library. Not everybody will be in favour of such a plan and maybe a guy write a book about why we should actually have more cars in town. After all, you can’t get run over by a car when crossing the road if you are already in a car! We’ll call this author Lorry Career….

(6) IS THE ORVILLE MEETING A MALIGN FATE? In ScreenRant’s news about the series, never is said an encouraging word: “The Orville Season 4 Gets Bleak Update From Hulu Exec”

…Hulu Originals and ABC Entertainment president Craig Erwich gave a bleak update for The Orville season 4. The popular Star Trek-inspired science-fiction comedy follows Captain Ed Mercer (Seth MacFarlane) as he leads the crew of USS Orville on adventures across the galaxy. Although season 1 faltered, garnering middling reviews from critics and audiences alike, The Orville rebounded with season 2 and 3, both scoring 100% Fresh ratings on Rotten Tomatoes.

Erwich recently spoke to TVLine and gave a bleak update regarding The Orville season 4. The executive did not share any new details, avoiding any confirmation that The Orville will return. Instead, Erwich praised the work MacFarlane had done on the latest season. Read all of what Erwich said below:

We don’t have anything to share right now. It’s a great show and I know that the fans loved having it back in their lives. And Seth [MacFarlane] did a great job, uniquely as he can, in front of and behind the camera. But we don’t have anything to share right now.

CinemaBlend says another cast member finds waiting is hard: “The Orville’s Penny Johnson Drops Humorously Relatable Video About Waiting For Season 4 Renewal At Hulu”.

Meanwhile, Seth MacFarlane has been building up his positive karma: “Seth MacFarlane adopts the rescue cat Arthur after feline was dumped at a shelter with a broken leg” at Daily Mail Online.

… ‘POV: you are a black cat with a broken leg dumped at a vet clinic to be euthanized but you were finally rescued by the amazing team @perrys_place-la. Then you waited 7 months to find your forever home and now you live with the legend @macfarlaneseth.’  …

(7) WASH ME. RadioTimes did a roundup about “Doctor Who fans think they’ve spotted a key change to the TARDIS”.

Doctor Who fans are always searching for clues about possible developments in the Whoniverse – and it looks like some eagle-eyed viewers have spotted a change to the TARDIS during filming for the show’s 14th season.

Yesterday (Tuesday 24th January) Twitter user Darren Griffiths posted some snaps he had taken when he stumbled upon the set of the sci-fi show while “wandering along a coastal path in Welsh Wales”, and other fans were quick to point out some interesting alterations to the iconic Police Box.

One commenter noted that “the windows are dirty at the bottom”, while Griffiths himself added that “the Police Box sign at the top was also dulled down”. Meanwhile, fan page The Post Monument wrote, “I like how they’ve aged the TARDIS.”

Quite why the TARDIS has been given a new weathered look is not immediately clear – and it remains to be seen whether this will be a specific plot point or just an altogether new look for the Doctor’s trusty vehicle – but it is sure to cause all sorts of speculation amongst the fanbase as they wait for the show to return for its 6oth anniversary celebrations later this year.

(8) AFTER THE AFTERLIFE. “Bill Murray, Sigourney Weaver, Dan Aykroyd set for roles in Ghostbusters: Afterlife sequel” reports Yahoo!

…A source told The Sun newspaper’s Bizarre column: “Studio bosses are taking a classic franchise, setting it in a new location but keeping the magic of the original. It’s going to be brilliant.

“’Ghostbusters’ has always been synonymous with New York, but to mix things up this time the team was thinking of other great cities with a haunted history.

“London is perfect. It gives so much license to look back at classic landmarks and British history, but still in an urban setting.

“The plans look very cool, and getting the original stars interested wasn’t difficult. They all love the movies and look back at them very fondly.”

The news comes a month after it was announced Gil Kenan will be directing the sequel, with ‘Ghostbusters Afterlife’ filmmaker moving into a writer-producer role….

(9) SAL PIRO OBITUARY. The president of the Rocky Horror Picture Show Fan Club died January 24. Deadline paid tribute: “Sal Piro Dies: Original ‘Rocky Horror’ Role-Playing Superfan And Subject Of Upcoming Movie Was 71”.

Sal Piro, who played a pivotal role in creating the audience participation routines that turned The Rocky Horror Picture Show into a multi-decade, world-wide phenomenon, died at his home in New York City Jan 21.

His death was announced by The Rocky Horror Picture Show Fan Club, which he founded in 1977 and served as its president until his death, becoming a major figure in creating the movie’s cult classic status.

“Sal was the defacto face of Rocky Horror fandom for decades,” the fan club said in a tweeted statement. “He will be sorely missed.”

Opening to terrible reviews in 1975, The Rocky Horror Picture Show soon became a staple of the midnight movie screenings at New York City’s Waverly Theater in Greenwich Village. Surprisingly, the film quickly drew the devotion of young fans, including Piro, who shouted humorous responses to much of the film’s dialogue. As the responses became more elaborate into a sort of viewing ritual, Piro helped shape a floor show of audience members playing out the movie beneath the screen….

(10) MEMORY LANE.

1996 [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.] Terri Windling’s The Wood Wife

Terri Windling’s The Wood Wife which won the Mythopoeic Award for Novel of the Year is without doubt one of my favorite novels. 

It was supposed to be based off one of Brian Froud’s faerie paintings which is on the British cover of the first edition of the novel, as opposed to the Susan Sedden Boulet art for the American first edition. What you see below is Froud’s original artwork.

Of the books that wound up comprising Froud’s Faerieland series—Charles de Lint’s The Wild Wood, Patricia A. McKillip’s Something Rich and Strange, and Midori Snyder’s Hannah’s Garden, the first two, plus this in the British edition, got his artwork. 

Maggie Black is the artist who’s the central character in this novel and an amazing woman she is. She’s a poet, who comes to the Southwest desert upon learning that a friend, Cooper, has left his estate to her. I won’t say more as some of you may not have read it yet.

Here’s my extended quote from The Wood Wife as she prepares breakfast shortly after getting there. 

Maggie woke early, with a wrenching sense of dislocation. She stared at the water-stained ceiling above her and tried to recall just where she was. On a mountainside, in Davis Cooper’s house. The sky outside was a shade of violet that she’d never quite seen before.

She got up, washed, put her bathrobe on and padded into the kitchen. She’d always been an early riser; she felt cheated if she slept too late and missed the rising sun. She cherished the silver morning light, the stillness, the morning rituals: water in the kettle, bitter coffee grounds, a warm mug held between cold hands, the scent of a day unfolding before her, pungent with possibility.

As the water heated, Maggie unpacked the bag of provisions she’d brought along: dark Dutch coffee, bread, muesli, vegetables, garlic, a bottle of wine. In the small refrigerator were eggs, cheese, fresh pasta from Los Angeles, green corn tamales from downtown Tucson. The only strange thing about the unfamiliarity of this kitchen was the knowledge that it was hers now, these pans, these plates, this old dented kettle, this mug decorated with petroglyph paintings. For years she’d been travelling light and making herself at home in other people’s houses. Having an entire house of her own was going to take some getting used to.

She made the coffee, grilled some toast, and sat down at the kitchen table with yesterday’s edition of the Arizona Daily Star, too unsettled to actually read it. Davis’s kitchen was the heart of the house, with a rough wood table in the center that could have easily seated a family of twelve and not just one elderly poet. The kitchen hearth held a woodstove—the winter nights were probably cold up here. Fat wicker rockers were pulled close to it, covered by faded old serapes. The walls were a mottled tea-colored adobe with shades of some brighter tone showing through and wainscotting up to waist-height stained or aged to a woodsy green. The window frames were painted violet, the doors were a rich but weathered shade of blue. Mexican saints in beaten tin frames hung among Davis’s pots and pans; folk art and dusty tin milagros hung among strings of red chili peppers, garlic, and desert herbs. The windowsills were crowded with were crowded with stones, geodes, fossils, clumps of smoky quartz, and Indian pottery shards.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 26, 1918 Philip Jose Farmer.  I know I’ve read at least the first three Riverworld novels (To Your Scattered Bodies GoThe Fabulous Riverboat and The Dark Design which are all stellar) but I’ll be damned if I recognize the latter ones. Great novels those are. And I’ll admit that I’m not familiar at all with the World of Tiers or Dayworld series. Anyone read them? I know, silly question. I do remember his Doc Savage novel Escape from Loki as being a highly entertaining read, and I see he’s done a number of Tarzan novels as well which I admit I’ve not read. Who here has? (Died 2009.)
  • Born January 26, 1923 Anne Jeffreys. Her first role in our end of things was as a young woman on the early Forties film Tarzan’s New York Adventure. She’s Jean Le Danse (note the name) around the same time in the comedy Zombies on Broadway (film geeks here — is this the earliest zombie film?). And no, I’ve not forgotten she had the lead role as Marion Kerby in the Topper series. She also had one-offs in The Man from U.N.C.L.E.Fantasy Island and Battlestar Galactica. (Died 2017.)
  • Born January 26, 1928 Roger Vadim. Director, Barbarbella. That alone gets a Birthday Honor. But he was one of three directors of Spirits of the Dead, a horror anthology film. (Louis Malle and Federico Fellini were the others.) And not to stop there, he directed another horror film, Blood and Roses (Et mourir de plaisir) and even was involved in The Hitchhiker horror anthology series. And Don Juan, or If Don Juan Were a Woman is at least genre adjacent… (Died 2000.)
  • Born January 26, 1929 Jules Feiffer, 94. On the Birthday list as he’s the illustrator of The Phantom Tollbooth. Well, and that he’s also illustrated Eisner’s Spirit which helped get him into the Comic Book Hall of Fame. Let’s not overlook that he wrote The Great Comic Book Heroes in the Sixties which made it the first history of the superheroes of the late Thirties and Forties and their creators. 
  • Born January 26, 1943 Judy-Lynn Del Rey. After first starting at Galaxy Magazine became an editor at Ballantine Books, and eventuallywas given her own imprint, Del Rey Books, Dick and Asimov were two of her clients who considered her the best editor they’d worked with. Wife of Lester del Rey. She suffered a brain hemorrhage in October 1985 and died several months later. Though she was awarded a Hugo Award for Best Professional Editor after her death, her widower turned it down on the grounds that it only been awarded because of her death. (Died 1986.)
  • Born January 26, 1949 Jonathan Carroll, 74. I think his best work by far is The Crane’s View Trilogy consisting of Kissing the Beehive, The Marriage of Sticks and The Wooden Sea. I know de Lint liked these novels though mainstream critics were less than thrilled. White Apples I thought was a well crafted novel and The Crow’s Dinner is his wide ranging look at life in general, not genre at all but fascinating.
  • Born January 26, 1966 Stephen Cox, 57. Pop culture writer who has written a number of books on genre subjects including The Munchkins Remember: The Wizard of Oz and BeyondThe Addams Chronicles: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about the Addams FamilyDreaming of Jeannie: TV’s Primetime in a Bottle and The Munsters: A Trip Down Mockingbird Lane. I’ll admit to being puzzled by his Cooking in Oz that he did with Elaine Willingham as I didn’t remember that much for food in the Oz book until I started doing the current essays on food in genre literature and discovered there indeed was! 

(12) WHO NOVELS IN 2023. “Doctor Who Target books add 5 new novelisations for 2023” noted RadioTimes.

…Each of the authors for the 2023 Target books are the original screenwriters of the TV episodes so fans can expand their Doctor Who collections with these new, iconic novelisations….

(13) ONLINE ECONOMICS DISTILLED. Cory Doctorow calls it “The ‘Enshittification’ of TikTok” at WIRED.

… This is enshittification: Surpluses are first directed to users; then, once they’re locked in, surpluses go to suppliers; then once they’re locked in, the surplus is handed to shareholders and the platform becomes a useless pile of shit. From mobile app stores to Steam, from Facebook to Twitter, this is the enshittification lifecycle.

This is why—as Cat Valente wrote in her magisterial pre-Christmas essay—platforms like Prodigy transformed themselves overnight, from a place where you went for social connection to a place where you were expected to “stop talking to each other and start buying things.”…

… By making good-faith recommendations of things it thought its users would like, TikTok built a mass audience, larger than many thought possible, given the death grip of its competitors, like YouTube and Instagram. Now that TikTok has the audience, it is consolidating its gains and seeking to lure away the media companies and creators who are still stubbornly attached to YouTube and Insta.

Yesterday, Forbes’s Emily Baker-White broke a fantastic story about how that actually works inside of ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company, citing multiple internal sources, revealing the existence of a “heating tool” that TikTok employees use to push videos from select accounts into millions of viewers’ feeds.

These videos go into TikTok users’ For You feeds, which TikTok misleadingly describes as being populated by videos “ranked by an algorithm that predicts your interests based on your behavior in the app.” In reality, For You is only sometimes composed of videos that TikTok thinks will add value to your experience—the rest of the time, it’s full of videos that TikTok has inserted in order to make creators think that TikTok is a great place to reach an audience….

(14) CRIMINAL CHARGES AGAINST A ‘RICK AND MORTY’ PRODUCER. “Adult Swim Severs Ties With ‘Rick And Morty’ Co-Creator Justin Roiland After Domestic Violence Charges; Voice Roles Will Be Recast”Deadline tells about the case and his fate.

Justin Roiland, co-creator, executive producer and star of Adult Swim’s flagship animated series Rick and Mortyis no longer in business with the Warner Bros Discovery brand on the heel of serious domestic violence allegations against him coming to light earlier this month.

“Adult Swim has ended its association with Justin Roiland,” a spokesperson said in a statement Tuesday.

Following Roiland’s exit, Rick and Morty will continue, with the title roles, which had been voiced by Roiland, recast.

Co-created by Roiland and Dan Harmon, the hit series received a massive 70-episode order in 2018 when Adult Swim also signed new long-term deals with Roiland and Harmon. The show, which has been renewed through Season 10, has completed six seasons, with four more to go as part of the pickup.

Roiland is also co-creator/executive producer and voice cast member of Hulu’s animated series Solar Opposites as well as a performer on the streamer’s animated comedy Koala Man. News on his involvement in those shows would be coming shortly, I hear.

Roiland has been charged with one felony count of domestic battery with corporal injury and one felony count of false imprisonment by menace, violence, fraud and/or deceit by the Orange County District Attorney’s office. The incident in question against a Jane Doe allegedly occurred in January 2020, according to a May 2020 complaint. He pleaded not guilty to the charges in October 2020. The semi-sealed case was kept out of the public until a hearing January 12, 2023. Roiland, who was present, also is required to attend a scheduled April 27 hearing….

(15) COLLABORATIVE MEAL. Kelsea Yu, a Taiwanese Chinese American writer, posts abut food in “Huǒguō” at Sarah Gailey’s Stone Soup.

…It’s loud and chaotic. Everyone talks over one another. Spoons cross, sauces are passed around, broth occasionally splashes out, and at any given time, some people are eating while others are serving food or adding ingredients to the pot.

It’s the kind of meal that requires participation, collaboration, consideration. The kind you can’t have alone, because then it would just be soup. It’s like stone soup, except no one’s reluctant to share.

It’s the kind of meal that helped me learn the value of how we care for each other….

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. SYFY released a sneak peek of the first five minutes of its forthcoming series The Ark.

The Ark takes place 100 years into the future when humans must go on missions to colonize other planets. But what would you do if you woke up from cryogenic sleep to your spaceship suffering disaster? Watch the first five minutes of the premiere episode of The Ark. Watch the premiere of The Ark, February 1 at 10/9c on SYFY.

(17) VIDEO OF LAST WEEK. “Kenan Thompson Does an Interview as Science Fiction Writer Pernice Lafonk” on Late Night with Seth Meyers.

Kenan Thompson talks about former Saturday Night Live intern Aubrey Plaza returning to host the show before leaving the set and coming back as his alter ego, science fiction writer Pernice Lafonk.

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

Pixel Scroll 9/26/22 They Sentenced Me To Twenty Years Of Scrolldom, For Trying To File The Pixel From Within

(1) IT’S A HIT! NASA’s DART mission crashed into the targeted asteroid today.

And CNN reports “After DART’s successful collision with an asteroid, the science is just getting started”.

For the first time in history, NASA is trying to change the motion of a natural celestial body in space. Now that a spacecraft successfully hit the asteroid Dimorphos — the science is just getting started.

To survey the aftermath of the impact, the European Space Agency’s Hera mission will launch in 2024. The spacecraft, along with two CubeSats, will arrive at the asteroid system two years later.

Hera will study both asteroids, measure physical properties of Dimorphos, and examine the DART impact crater and the moon’s orbit, with the aim of establishing an effective planetary defense strategy.

The Italian Space Agency’s Light Italian CubeSat for Imaging of Asteroids, or LICIACube, will fly by Dimorphos to capture images and video of the impact plume as it sprays up off the asteroid and maybe even spy the crater it could leave behind. The mini-satellite will also glimpse Dimorphos’ opposite hemisphere, which DART won’t get to see before it’s obliterated.

The CubeSat will turn to keep its cameras pointed at Dimorphos as it flies by. Days, weeks and months after, we’ll see images and video captured by the Italian satellite that observed the collision event. The first images expected back from LICIACube could show the moment of impact and the plume it creates.

The LICIACube won’t be the only observer watching. The James Webb Space Telescope, the Hubble Space Telescope and NASA’s Lucy mission will observe the impact. The Didymos system may brighten as its dust and debris is ejected into space, said Statler, the NASA program scientist.

But ground-based telescopes will be key in determining if DART successfully changed the motion of Dimorphos.

(2) WSFA AT 75. The 75th anniversary of the Washington Science Fiction Association will be celebrated this weekend at the club’s annual Capclave.

(3) OCTAVIA BUTLER GOES INTO HALL OF FAME. The 2022 induction ceremony for the National Women’s Hall of Fame was held last weekend, honoring Octavia Butler, Hidden Figures’ Katherine Johnson, and other 2021 inductees. See a video of the ceremony here.

(4) WILD BLUE AND OTHER YONDERS. “Sharp-Eyed Viewers Notice Stunning Addition To Key U.S. Intelligence Logo” at MSN.com. Oh, yeah. Check for yourself on the U.S miliary’s NIM-Aviation Homepage.

A federal intelligence office charged with matters related to aviation has a new logo ― and it suggests the organization is tracking more than just known aircraft.  

The logo of the National Intelligence Manager-Aviation shows a series of aircraft as well as a UFO…. 

(5) WHERE CAPS BELONG. In a way it’s more of a thought experiment, interestingly constructed by Max Florschutz: “Being a Better Writer: The Problem With Proper Nouns in Sci-Fi and Fantasy” at Unusual Things.

See, the genesis of this post comes from my editing on Starforge. This titan of a book is now in the Beta phase, which means looking for typos, misspelled words, misplaced quotation marks, and all that jazz. However, it also means going through and ensuring proper capitalization of proper nouns. At which point, I ran into a bit of a conundrum. Said conundrum led me to Google, which in turn pointed me to this post from 2009 concerning a similar issue in Fantasy writing—though note that it does as well address Science Fiction as well.

Anyway, what is this conundrum? Well, before we dive into it directly, I have a sort of pop quiz for you. You can do it in your head, but if you’re really determined you can bring out a pen and pencil and do the classic grade-school exercise. It’ll only take a moment either way, but here we go. Correctly capitalize the following sentence:

“The terran vehicle rolled up the hill, backed by dozens of terran marines.”

That’s it. Got it? Placed those capital letters where they belong? Okay, check out the answers after the break….

(6) FIGURES OF FUN. Cora Buhlert brings us another “Masters-of-the-Universe-Piece Theatre: ‘Peeping Mantenna’”.

… Here we have He-Man and Skeletor in the style of the 2002 He-Man and the Masters of the Universe cartoon (currently streaming here), for which the designs of the characters were updated. I don’t normally buy all of the He-Man and Skeletor variants (and there are a lot of them), but I like these two, since they are quite different from the standard versions, including redesigned accessories. Though I’ll give 2002 Skeletor’s sword to my Keldor figure, since it actually is Keldor’s sword.

The third new arrival is Mantenna, a member of the Evil Horde and the closest thing Masters of the Universe has to a bug-eyed monster….

(7) TODAY’S RUNNER-UP. Steve Davidson suggested a Scroll title based on a children’s toy. He even provided art!

The Cow Says “Moo!” The Cat Says “Meow!” The Pixel Says “Scroll!”

(A “modified” image of a See-N-Say is below.)

(8) SUCCESSFUL CASTING. Gretchen Rue discusses her favorite TV witches. “The Most Underrated Witches in Media” at CrimeReads.

Supernatural is a hard show to discuss without needing to put an asterisk on all the things it did wrong. It was frequently toxic, misogynistic, and struggled mightily with its female characters who were all either victims or the embodiment of pure evil. Not exactly the most fertile grounds for growing relatable characters who fit the bill for underrated witches. And yet Supernatural has not one, but two of the most underrated witches in all of modern television. There is ongoing antagonist Rowena, who pesters and plagues the Winchesters over the course of multiple seasons, but Rowena, played by Ruth Connell, defies the regular run of the mill baddie legacy most other female villains on the show get saddled with. She Is funny, she has sexual agency, she is emotionally complex and has her own deep backstory that drives her to do the things she does beyond the standard demon-possession fare of most other women on the show. Rowena is a match for the Winchesters, and often an unwitting ally, and she gets to be smart, beautiful, and charismatic season after season. She is only underrated in that she has been somewhat overshadowed in popularity by similarly love-to-hate/hate-to-love demon Crowley….

(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.  

1987 [By Cat Eldridge.] ALF: The Animated Series (also known as ALF on Melmac) premiered on NBC thirty five years ago on a Saturday morning. Though it lasted two years which you would think would give it over fifty episodes, it had two seasons of just thirteen episodes instead. 

WARNING: PREACHING MODE ENGAGED

Interestingly it has a long runtime of thirty minute in an era where most cartoon series had twenty to twenty six minutes of time so that as much junky product as possible could be pushed unto the young viewing audience. Buy! Buy! Buy! Who cares about your teeth! 

PREACHING MODE OFF

It was created by Paul Fusco (the only acting talent who returned here.) He is the puppeteer and voice of ALF on ALF and was the creator, writer, producer, and director of the series, and Tom Pratchett, the co-creator of ALF who shows his most excellent taste by being involved in the writing of The Great Muppet Caper. If you’ve not seen the latter, it’s on Disney + right now.

(No, I’m not plugging Disney +. Just noting the Angry Mouse has a lot of interesting product in his vast pockets. I personally am avoiding Him like the bubonic plague for the time being.) 

Why the human characters didn’t appear is rather simple — the shows premise is that ALF is traveling to various places on his home-world of Melmac.  It was a prequel to the ALF, depicting ALF’s life back on his home planet of Melmac before it exploded. How well they did this ive no idea as I’ve not seen it.

Now want weird? Really frelling weird? It was paired with ALF Tales, a spin-off of this series, that had the astonishingly weird premise of characters from that series were playing various characters from fairy tales. Now this series only lasted twenty-one episodes. 

It apparently never got reviewed by the critics, not altogether surprisingly.  Amazon and Tubi, should you care, are streaming it. Personally I’d go watch ALF instead if I were you as it’s actually really great. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 26, 1866 Winsor McCay. Cartoonist and animator who’s best remembered for the Little Nemo strip which ran between The Wars and the animated Gertie the Dinosaur film which is the key frame animation cartoon which you can see here. He used the pen name Silas on his Dream of the Rarebit Fiend strip. That strip had no recurring characters or theme, just that a character has a nightmare or other bizarre dream after eating Welsh rarebit. What an odd concept. (Died 1934.)
  • Born September 26, 1872 Max Erhmann. Best remembered for his 1927 prose poem “Desiderata” which I have a framed copy hanging here in my work area. Yeah big fan. Genre connection? Well calling it “Spock Thoughts”, Nimoy recited the poem on Two Sides of Leonard Nimoy, his 1968 album. (Died 1945.)
  • Born September 26, 1941 Martine Beswick, 81. Though she auditioned for Dr. No, she was instead cast in From Russia with Love as Zora. She also appeared as Paula Caplan in Thunderball. She would appear in One Million Years B.C. opposite Raquel Welch.  She made several Hammer Studio films including Prehistoric Women and Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde.
  • Born September 26, 1944 Victoria Vetri, 78. I do have a very expansive definition of SF and she definitely gets here by being in the Sixties pulp film When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth as Sanna, and a lost world film called Chuka playing Helena Chavez. She’d also in be a bit of forgotten horror in the role of Rosemary’s Baby as Terry Gionoffrio. But actually she enters SF lore by way of a role she didn’t do. Vetri has been incorrectly identified in myriad sources as playing the role of the human form of a shape-shifting cat in the Trek’s “Assignment: Earth” episode, a role actually played by April Tatro. As she notes, she has brown eyes and that actress has blue eyes. She had a handful  of genre appearances — The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Batman as Florence of Arabia, Mission: Impossible and Land of Giants.
  • Born September 26, 1956 Linda Hamilton, 66. Best known for being Sarah Connor in The Terminator film franchise and Catherine Chandler in the Beauty and the Beast series. She also played Vicky Baxter in Children of the Corn, and Doctor Amy Franklin in King Kong Lives. She would be Acacia, a Valkyrie in “Delinquents” of the Lost Girl series, a role she would reprise in two more episodes, “End of a Line” and “Sweet Valkyrie High”.
  • Born September 26, 1957 Tanya Huff, 65. Her Confederation of Valor Universe series is highly recommended by me.  And I also give a strong recommendation to her Gale Family series. Let’s not forget the cat friendly Keeper’s Chronicles series. I’ve not read her other series, so I’ll ask y’all what you’d recommend.
  • Born September 26, 1968 Jim Caviezel, 54. John Reese on Person of Interest which CBS describes as a “crime drama”. Huh. He was also Detective John Sullivan in Frequency, and Kainan in Outlander. And yes he played Number Six in the unfortunate reboot of The Prisoner
  • Born September 26, 1985 Talulah Riley, 37. Miss Evangelista in “Silence in the Library” and “Forest of the Dead”, two Tenth Doctor stories. She also portrays Angela in Westworld, and she shows up in Thor: The Dark World as an Asgardian nurse. 

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) ROCKY HORROR. Today’s also the anniversary of this movie’s release:

(13) HIGHER GEAR. Inverse reminds us that “40 years ago, one sci-fi show had the most bizarre beginning in TV history”. Video clips at the link.

…Michael Long, we’re told, has a metal plate in his head — “probably from military surgery” — and this metal plate deflected the bullet away from his brain and into his face. He later emerges from reconstructive surgery all Hasslehoffed-up at the 11:57-minute mark. This means there’s been at least one commercial break before we even see Hasselhoff in Knight Rider.

Frankly, the fact that the show needed a talking car after that setup is fascinating. Today, if the premise of Knight Rider were floated as a prestige drama all about the nature of identity and the existence of false identities, you can’t imagine a studio executive saying, “Yeah, but what if he had a talking car, too?”

The soap opera-esque origin story of Michael Knight’s face was actually a brilliant starting point for the series. By Season 2 episode “Goliath,” we learn that there’s an evil version of Michael Knight — Garthe Knight — also played by Hasselhoff, with a small, sleazy mustache and a soul patch. (The fact he looks like Michael Knight is because Michael Knight’s new face was based on Garthe’s, not the other way around.)…

(14) IT’S ELEMENTRY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Entertainment Weekly discusses what happened when a scientist visited The Big Bang Theory set and found uranium!

…. During the tour, the physicist noticed one of the props in Leonard and Sheldon’s apartment. Prady says, “People always ask what that thing on the wall post was, it was this wooden box that was actually an antique Geiger counter. The physicist looks at it and goes, ‘That’s an old Geiger counter.'” (A Geiger counter is a device used to detect radiation).

It turns out the Geiger counter was more than just a unique prop….

(15) SCARY FOOD. Fortunately, these horrifying “Hallowieners” are baloney says Snopes.

(16) A WORLD UNBUILT. Arturo Serrano finds one that’s not so good: “Nanoreview: The Paper Museum by Kate S. Simpson” at Nerds of a Feather.

…The Paper Museum is a frustrating read. The microcosm inside the museum is described in abundant, at times excessive detail, while the world outside of it is a nebulous blank that may as well be made of air. Since we only follow Lydia, who basically never leaves the museum, the significance of a world without paper is lost because we never get to see that world…. 

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] This clip of Alasdair Beckett-King satirizing a “popular space show: appeared last year. “Every Episode of Popular Space Show™”.

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

Anniversary: Rocky Horror Picture Show

By Cat Eldridge: Forty-six years ago on this date, the Rocky Horror Picture Show film premiered. But before we get to the film, we need to go back to the London show as the film is based off the music, book, and lyrics that Richard O’Brien did for that production, which was a parody tribute to the SF and horror B-movies of the Thirties through to the early Sixties. The stage show was produced and directed by Jim Sharman. The original London production of the musical premiered at the Royal Court Theatre (Upstairs) on June 19, 1973. It would move around to several locations during its run before closing on September 13, 1980 after a total of 2,960 performances. It would go to tour the world pretty much everywhere. 

Now the film premiered just two years into the run of the London show. It was directed by Jim Sharman, and the screenplay by himself and O’Brien. (No surprise there.) it was produced by Lou Adler, co-owner of the Roxy Theatre which is where the live show had its first U.S. engagement, and Michael White who just produced Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat in London’s West End.

The cast is phenomenal: Tim Curry, Susan Sarandon, Barry Bostwick and Meatloaf, along with cast members from the original Royal Court Theatre, Roxy Theatre, and Belasco Theatre productions, including Nell Campbell and Patricia Quinn. It is narrated by Charles Gray who was Ernst Stavro Blofeld in Diamonds are Forever.

Some critics liked it, some thought it “tasteless, plotless and pointless.” I think Time Out London summed it up best: “A string of hummable songs gives it momentum, Gray’s admirably straight-faced narrator holds it together, and a run on black lingerie takes care of almost everything else.” The audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a rocking eighty-five percent rating. And it has earned one hundred seventy million dollars to date on a total budget of one point four million dollars. 

An entire post could be written on audience participation which includes dancing the Time Warp along with the film, and throwing such things as toast, toilet paper, hot dogs, and rice at the appropriate points in the movie. And, of course, responding to dialogue in the film. Dressing up is expected for these fans and many locals approach that of professional theatre companies In their acting skills. 

A sequel by O’Brien was planned but obviously never happened. The title? Rocky Horror Shows His Heels

Pixel Scroll 4/19/21 The Calamari Of Dr. Cabinet

(1) UP, UP, AND AWAY. “NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter Succeeds in Historic First Flight” the space agency reported today. (For a summary of the mission see the Wikipedia: “Ingenuity (helicopter)”.)

Monday, NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter became the first aircraft in history to make a powered, controlled flight on another planet. The Ingenuity team at the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California confirmed the flight succeeded after receiving data from the helicopter via NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover at 6:46 a.m. EDT (3:46 a.m. PDT).

“Ingenuity is the latest in a long and storied tradition of NASA projects achieving a space exploration goal once thought impossible,” said acting NASA Administrator Steve Jurczyk. “The X-15 was a pathfinder for the space shuttle. Mars Pathfinder and its Sojourner rover did the same for three generations of Mars rovers. We don’t know exactly where Ingenuity will lead us, but today’s results indicate the sky – at least on Mars – may not be the limit.”

The solar-powered helicopter first became airborne at 3:34 a.m. EDT (12:34 a.m. PDT) – 12:33 Local Mean Solar Time (Mars time) – a time the Ingenuity team determined would have optimal energy and flight conditions. Altimeter data indicate Ingenuity climbed to its prescribed maximum altitude of 10 feet (3 meters) and maintained a stable hover for 30 seconds. It then descended, touching back down on the surface of Mars after logging a total of 39.1 seconds of flight. Additional details on the test are expected in upcoming downlinks.

(2) ALL THE FEELS. The Atlantic’s Marina Koren captures the emotions of the event in “No, You’re Crying About a Helicopter on Mars”.

… I am not a spacecraft engineer, nor do I know this robot personally. But I am mortal, and we mortals tend to anthropomorphize robots and even have fuzzy feelings toward them. (The exception: If their appearance falls into the “uncanny valley” category, they can creep us out instead). A whole assortment of research on the relationship between people and machines shows that we can’t help attaching our little human feelings to the little mechanical robots we build. And NASA knows it.

As with other robotic missions, NASA maintains a Twitter account for Perseverance, the rover that brought Ingenuity to Mars in February, and dispatches are written from the perspective of the machine. “I love rocks,” Perseverance tweeted in February to its followers, who currently number 2.7 million. “I’m on the move!” it exclaimed in March as it took its first drive. “I’ve taken my first selfie,” the rover said earlier this month, showing us a picture of its robotic frame, with Ingenuity in the background. NASA has already shared imagery of Ingenuity’s flight—from Percy, stationed nearby, and from the helicopter itself, which captured its shadow flitting across the surface of Mars….

(3) A WALK, NOT A GALLOP. Book Riot’s Alice Nuttall points the way: “Slow Sci-Fi: 11 Thoughtful And Low Action Sci-Fi Reads”. A Becky Chambers’ novel is first on the list.

…Slow sci-fi can be a peaceful read between more action-packed books, or can give you the chance to grapple with a futuristic or otherworldly concept on multiple levels. Don’t be fooled — slow doesn’t mean shallow, and sometimes thoughtful sci-fi can give the horrors of a dystopia more time to develop, really drawing back before landing that gut punch. Here are some lower-action, thoughtful sci-fi reads to add to your TBR pile.

(4) THE QUARTERMASS EXPERIMENT. Texas A&M Libraries will host “The Future at 25 Cents A Copy: The Material Culture of Pulp Science Fiction Magazines”, a virtual talk scheduled for Thursday, April 22 at Noon (US Central). The participants are Jeremy Brett, an Associate Professor at A&M’s Cushing Memorial Library & Archives, where he is both Processing Archivist and the Curator of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Research Collection; Anna Culbertson, head of Special Collections & University Archives at San Diego State University, and Andrew Lippert, Special Collections Processing Archivist at UC, Riverside who works with the Eaton Collection. Register at the link.

“The “Pulp Era” of the 1920s-1940s was crucial to the formation of the science fiction genre in the United States. Pulp magazines were colorful, exciting vehicles for the work of countless creators, many of whom became major names. Librarians from three institutions with major pulp collections—Texas A&M University, the University of California, Riverside, and San Diego State University—will discuss the literary and genre legacy of pulps, including their significance as examples of mid-century American material culture.”

(5) DO YOU KNOW? Lise Andreasen would like to poll the audience.

(1) A French gentleman worked with agriculture, and invented a new drill plough, that was better at sowing. Michel Lullin de Chateauvieux – Wikipedia

(2) In “Surface Tension,” James Blish, talks about sowing people in the universe. The premier scientist is Chatvieux.

Does anybody know, whether this is a coincidence?

(6) EUROVISION SONG CONTEST. In return, Lise Andreasen offers to enlighten people who keep asking: How can this movie be nominated for the Hugo? She forwards these snippets from the Wikipedia plot summary:

Sigrit, who believes in the old Icelandic tradition of elves, asks them to help them in the contest…

Katiana’s ghost appears to (redacted)…

Luckily, unseen elves save (redacted)…

(7) HOW MANY RINGS BEFORE YOU HANG UP? Marvel dropped a trailer for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. The movie will be (only) in theaters September 3.

(8) PROVING LOVE. Netflix will release Love, Death, And Rockets, Volume 2 on May 14.

The NSFW animated anthology returns with a vengeance. Naked giants, Christmas demons, and robots-gone-wild… Consume irresponsibly.

Is there another Scalzi story in the new series? Youth wants to know.

(9) PROGRAMMED FOR FAILURE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the April 12 Financial Times, gaming columnist Tom Faber, discusses Disco Elysium, a role-playing game created by “Estonian novelist Robert Kurvitz and his friends during a night of drinking in 2005” and which won three gaming awards at the BAFTAs, the British equivalent of Oscars.

The brew of debauchery, failure, and resilience that marks this origin story is palpable in the 6,000 years of dense history Kurvitz and his team crafted around this detective game.  The story unfolds across the impoverished district of Martinaise, abandoned by the law following a failed communist revolution and now under the heel of a corrupt labor union.

Your protagonist is similarly scarred, beginning the game with a bout of amnesia following a drug-fueled bender so destructive it makes Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas look like something for children.  As you recover your memory it becomes apparent that you’re a cop with a murder case to solve, a task you are profoundly ill-equipped to handle.  ‘The entire story is about how to react when you’re faced with failure,’ Helen Hindpere, lead writer on the Final Cut, tells me.  ‘How do you come out of it?  What do you do?’

(10) MEMORY LANE.

1981 — In 1981 at Devention Two, The Empire Strikes Back which was released the previous year by Lucasfilm won the Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation. Other nominated works were Lathe of Heaven, the Cosmos series, The Martian Chronicles and Flash Gordon.  It was directed by Irvin Kershner from the screenplay by Leigh Brackett and Lawrence Kasdan with story by being George Lucas. 

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born April 18, 1907 Alan Wheatley. Best remembered for being the Sheriff of Nottingham in The Adventures of Robin Hood, with Richard Greene playing Robin Hood. In 1951, he had played Sherlock Holmes in the first TV series about him, but no recordings of it are known to exist. And he was in Two First Doctor stories as Temmosus, “The Escape” and “The Ambush” where he was the person killed on screen by Daleks. (Died 1991.) (CE) 
  • Born April 19, 1923 – Lygia Fagundes Telles, age 98.  Camões Prize.  Commander, Order of Rio Branco.  Chevalier de l’Ordre des Artes et des Lettres.  Grand officer, Order of Gabriela Mistral.  Third woman elected to the Brazilian Academy of Letters.  Called First Lady of Brazilian Literature.  Fifteen stories for us available in English, see collection Tigrela.  Many other works, many other awards.  [JH]
  • Born April 18, 1925 Hugh O’Brian. He was Harry Chamberlain in Rocketship X-M which you can see here as it’s in the public domain. (It was nominated in the 1951 Retro Hugo Awards given at Millennium Philcon but lost out to Destination Moon.)  He would later play Hugh Lockwood in Probe, the pilot for Search, and Search itself, an SF series. His only other genre appearance I think was playing five different roles on Fantasy Island. (Died 2016.) (CE)
  • Born April 18, 1933 W.R. Cole. Author of A Checklist of Science Fiction Anthologies, self-published In 1964. Ok, I’m including him today because I’m puzzled. SFE said of this work that ‘Though it has now been superseded and updated by William Contento’s indexes of Anthologies, it is remembered as one the essential pioneering efforts in Bibliography undertaken by sf Fandom.’  Was this really the first time someone compiled an index of anthologies? I seem to remember earlier efforts though I can’t remember precisely who. (Died 2002.) (CE) 
  • Born April 18, 1935 Herman Zimmerman, 86. He was the art director and production designer who worked between 1987 and 2005 for the Trek franchise. Excepting Voyager, in that era he worked on all other live-action productions including the first season of Next Gen, the entire runs of Deep Space Nine and Enterprise, as well as six Trek films. As Memory Alpha notes, “Together with Rick Sternbach he designed the space station Deep Space 9, with John Eaves the USS Enterprise-B and the USS Enterprise-E. His most recognizable work though, have been his (co-)designs for nearly all of the standing sets, those of the bridge, Main Engineering (co-designed with Andrew Probert) and Ten Forward for the USS Enterprise-D in particular.” Not surprisingly, he co-wrote the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Technical Manual with Rick Sternbach and Doug Drexler. (CE)
  • Born April 18, 1946 Tim Curry, 75. Dr. Frank-N-Furter in The Rocky Horror Picture Show of course, but it’s not his first genre appearance as a year earlier he’d been in the Scottish Opera’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream as Puck. And yes, I know that he appeared in the live show which was at the Chelsea Classic Cinema and other venues before the film was done. Other genre appearances include playing Darkness in Legend, an outstanding Cardinal Richelieu  in The Three Musketeers, Farley Claymore in The Shadow (great role), another superb performance playing Long John Silver in Muppet Treasure Island and in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead as The Player. (CE) 
  • Born April 19, 1947 – Donald Eastlake III, F.N., age 74.  Co-chaired Boskone 11, chaired Boskone 16.  Served as President of NESFA (New England SF Ass’n). Frequent chair of WSFS (World SF Society) Business Meetings, a particularly difficult thankless task.  Fellow of NESFA (service).  Guest of Honor (with wife Jill Eastlake) at Rivercon IX.  See here.  [JH]
  • Born April 19, 1948 – Christopher Yates, age 73.  A dozen covers.  Here is The Committed Men.  Here is The Year of the Quiet Sun.  Here is Solaris.  Here is Rogue Moon.  Here is Toyman.  Here is The Bornless Keeper.  [JH]
  • Born April 19, 1951 – Patricia Geary, age 70.  Four novels.  Vassar woman.  P.K. Dick Award.  Professor at Univ. Redlands.  [JH]
  • Born April 19, 1967 – Steven H Silver, age 54.  Chaired Windycon XXIX-XXX, 42 (so some are in Roman, some in Arabic numerals; do you think anyone asked me?); co-chaired Nebula Award Weekend 2010 (with Peggy Rae Sapienza, making SHS a Lawn Mower), chaired 2015-2016.  Fan Guest of Honor at DeepSouthCon 49, Capricon 32.  Fanzine, Argentus; three guest-editorships on Journey Planet.  See here.  [JH]
  • Born April 19, 1978 – Aleksi Briclot, age 43.  A score of covers, two dozen interiors; comics, films, video games.  Collection Worlds and Wonders in French and English (here is his cover).  Here is the Sep 04 Deep Magic.  Here is Galaxies 42.  Here is The Rose of Sarifal.  Here is Boundless.  Here is Stranger Things 4. [JH]

(12) COMICS SECTION.

(13) NOT DRAWN THAT WAY. CBR.com says “DC’s Karate Kid Was Accidentally Drawn the Wrong Way for Years”.

… One of the other audacious things about Shooter’s story was that he actually added FOUR new Legionnaires to the Legion in that story! Can you imagine pitching an editor with a story where you add four new members to the team? But hey, it worked out! One of the things Shooter felt that the Legion lacked was action characters. He felt that everyone’s powers were too passive. Everyone just pointed and fired a blast from their fingers or whatever. So that’s why Shooter loved the idea of Karate Kid, and wow, devoting PAGES to a fight between Superboy and Karate Kid was a bold, bold gambit at the time…

The problem was, as Shooter explained to my pal Glen Cadigan in Glen’s seminal work, The Legion Companion (I’d link to it, but I think it’s out of print and I don’t think it does Glen any good for me to tell you go buy a used copy on Amazon, ya know?), “In my crummy drawings, he was Half-Asian…when Shelly drew him, he made him like an American. Which is a shame.” As I noted in another old Comic Book Legends Revealed, one of the other Legionnaires introduced in that issue, Ferro Lad, was going to be Black, but Mort Weisinger wouldn’t approve it. Shooter was trying to diversify the Legion and he kept coming up short….

(14) IMPOSTER SYNDROME. The Hollywood Reporter tells why “Tim Curry Once Got Thrown Out of a ‘Rocky Horror’ Screening”.

…[Curry] explained, “I went rather early on at the Waverly [Theatre] in New York where it started, and they thought I was an imposter. And they threw me out.” Curry noted he was not in costume when he was tossed.

The Waverly (now IFC Center) was the original home of the midnight audience-participation screenings of Rocky Horror, which then spread across the country and still takes place to this day.

Asked about his feelings on the audience-participation screening, he said, “I thought it was enormous fun. I was having a ball — and then I got thrown out.”…

(15) TIME TO PLAY. James Davis Nicoll’s latest Tor.com entry has nothing to do with curling: “A Game of Stones: Five Novels Set in Asteroid Belts”. On the list is –

Up Against It by M. J. Locke (2011)

By the 24th century, humans can be found everywhere in the solar system, from the inner system all the way out to the Kuiper belt. This is possible in large part thanks to a trade network spanning the system. The network ensures that vital resources like volatiles are transported cheaply and reliably from source to destination. A case in point: asteroid 25 Phocaea (and its one settlement, Zekeston) flourish because the settlement can import the volatiles it lacks.

What Zekeston accepts as necessity, others see as opportunity. A disaster leaves Zekeston short on volatiles. Ogilvie and Sons is the only company in a position to resupply Zekeston in time to save its population. Ogilvie and Sons is more than willing to do this, provided Zekeston submits to rule by Ogilvie and Sons. Zekeston’s head of resource management, Jane Navio, is determined to save her adopted community from the predatory corporation. Whether she can do so with the resources at hand—some sympathetic functionaries and a gang of plucky kids—is unclear.

(16) BIG EARS. YouTube has a sketch from last night’s The Simpsons called “Everyone Is Horrid Except Me (And Possibly You)” where Quilloughby of The Snuffs (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch) shows up in Springfield and charms Lisa Simpson. Morrissey of The Smith’s manager Peter Katsis loudly complained the show was making fun of the artist.

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Pirates of the Caribbean:  Dead Man’s Chest” on ScreenRant, Ryan George says there are “enough nautical-themed Maguffins to fill an entire movie” in the first ten minutes, but he notes that it’s never clear in the movie why Davy Jones has an octopus face.

[Thanks to Ben Bird Person, Hampus Eckerman, JJ, Jeffrey Smith, Mike Kennedy, Lise Andreasen, Martin Morse Wooster, John Hertz, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Michael Toman, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 4/13/21 The Fan Who Scrolled Tropes To Gnoles

(1) F&SF. The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction’s May/June 2021 cover art is by David A. Hardy. Thanks to Publisher Gordon Van Gelder for the advance look.

(2) VICTORY LAP. “Charlie Jane Anders On New Book Victories Greater Than Death is a Nerdist Q&A with the author.

Charlie Jane Anders has long been a vocal presence within the sci-fi fandom at large. Her prose writing has earned her multiple Hugo Awards as well as a Nebula award for her novel All The Birds In The Sky. With her upcoming book, Victories Greater Than Death, Anders kicks off a planned trilogy within the YA space. A tale reminiscent of the big flashy space opera adventures she grew up adoring. Nerdist recently had the chance to speak with Anders about her newest work….

A common theme in your novels is characters moving towards a destiny that they’re only vaguely aware of.  Is there something about this particular trope that you feel drawn to explore?

Yes! One of my obsessions as a writer is the “quest that people don’t necessarily know is a quest.” I hate writing characters who just go where the plot needs them to go, because I start to get bored if the characters don’t have a more personal stake in what’s going on. I just feel like this is more real and grounded. We usually don’t know where all of our searching is going to end up, until we get there.

I also feel like a quest needs to be spiritual as much as logistical, so I try to write characters who are searching for fulfillment as much as trying to accomplish a plot-driven goal. I read a ton of medieval texts like Piers Plowman and Pilgrim’s Progress back in college, and they left me with an enduring love for the quest for “what does it mean to be a good person?”

(3) NOT JUST A LABEL. In the Washington Post, Charlie Jane Anders has an op-ed where she discusses her own experiences as a transgender person and says that some bills (like North Carolina’s)”subject young people to extraordinary scrutiny and intervention when they need time to explore their interests and personalities.” “We should celebrate trans kids, not crack down on them”.

…Figuring out your own gender identity is hard work, requiring large amounts of self-awareness and vulnerability. Your gender isn’t just a label: It’s a matter of how your inner conception of yourself meets everyone else’s perceptions.

My own experience of finding myself as a transgender person involved a lot of false starts and soul-searching, as I tried to reconcile the person I’d been told I was with everything I felt inside. Often, it may appear that trans kids and adults emerge fully formed, like Athena from the brow of Zeus, when in reality we’ve spent endless hours trying to make sense of our selves. The moment we reveal the end result of our self-discovery to the world, we face microaggressions, outright hostility and discrimination.

For anyone, of any age, this can feel like riding a unicycle across a muddy field while bystanders shout unhelpful advice….

(4) THE ART OF VILLAINY. And we complete our Charlie Jane Anders trifecta with “Six Sinister Secrets to Creating a Truly Scary Villain”, a guest post at Stone Soup.

We’re facing a real shortage of pants-wetting villains in pop culture these days. I’ve gotten used to seeing a lot of villains, especially in movies and TV shows, who feel like a bit of an afterthought, or just a nasty copy of the hero. Or else they’re so sympathetic that they end up becoming more of an anti-hero, and usually get redeemed.

Villains should be able to commit almost any sin – except for the cardinal sin of being forgettable. Every time they show up, we should get scared and excited, because some shit is about to go down.

When I set out to write Victories Greater Than Death, my young adult space opera novel about heroic queer teens who save all the worlds, I really wanted to include an old-school, capital-v Villain. For my previous novels, I had tried to keep the morality of all my characters ambiguous, so that everybody got to make terrible decisions but also be pretty decent at times. But when it came to writing a swash-buckling, trash-talking adventure story with space battles and narrow escapes, I was determined to cook up a really monstrous baddie, like the ones who unnerved me when I was a kid.

(5) ALMOST AN ALT-HIST DOCUMENTARY. The Space Review’s Dwayne A. Day compliments an ambitious series: “It is very cold in space: Season 2 of ‘For All Mankind’”.

…So often, Hollywood demonstrates only a thin understanding of the subject matter of the shows it produces. Real doctors, lawyers, police officers, theologians, scientists, psychologists, teachers, engineers, and astronauts watch programs about their professions and scoff at how little they get right. TV writers quite often seem to get their knowledge of complex subjects from Wikipedia. But “For All Mankind” is different. It is almost as if the show has dropped its cameras into the time period (the late 1960s and early 1970s in season one, 1983 in season two) and filmed what actually happened, even though it didn’t… but could have.

The show’s strengths go beyond its level of verisimilitude. This is one of the few shows on television that is about something, that has questions to ask and answers to pose and ideas to explore. The show’s second season is mostly successful at doing that, although it stumbles a bit at the finish line….

(6) JACOBS OBIT. In the Washington Post, Michael Cavna remembers Frank Jacobs, who died on April 5 at 92.  His song parodies inspired Weird Al Yankovic, who is interviewed in the piece, and earned him the name of MAD’s “Poet Lauridiot.” “Remembering Frank Jacobs, the ‘poet lauridiot’ of Mad magazine who inspired comics like ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic”.

…He was best known for cutting lyrics set to standards from the great American songbook — including such tuneful spoofs as “East Side Story,” “Flawrence of Arabia” and “Keep On Trekin’ ” — and his musical parodies were even at the center of a landmark copyright-law case.

Music publishers and named plaintiff Irving Berlin sued Mad over a 1961 special edition that featured more than 50 parody lyrics to such songs as Berlin’s “A Pretty Girl Is Like a Melody,” which Jacobs turned into “Louella Schwartz Describes Her Malady.” In 1964, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit ruled in Mad’s favor, with Circuit Court Judge Irving Kaufman writing in his decision: “We doubt that even so eminent a composer as plaintiff Irving Berlin should be permitted to claim a property interest in iambic pentameter.”

Jacobs began writing for Mad in 1957, crafting early pieces such as “Why I Left the Army and Became a Civilian,” which humorously contrasted the discipline of military life with the demands of being an everyday married commuter. He also liked to spoof other cartoons, including in works such as “Obituaries for Comic Strip Characters” and “If the Characters in ‘Peanuts’ Aged Like Ordinary People”; the latter spoof was published in 1972, when Mad was at its pop cultural peak, reaching millions of readers each month.

“What is really amazing to me today is that there still are people who can sing all the words to some of his parodies,” says his son, Alex Jacobs….

(7) FRANCES OBIT. In “Myra Frances obituary”, The Guardian pays tribute to an actor with a notable genre resume who died April 13.

The actor Myra Frances, who has died aged 78 of cancer, broke a British screen taboo when she and Alison Steadman shared television’s first lesbian kiss in 1974. 

… her other standout screen role, as the selfish, self-obsessed Anne Tranter in the first series of Survivors (1975), a post-apocalyptic drama devised by Terry Nation, best known as the creator of the Daleks in Doctor Who.

Tranter, who has enjoyed a privileged upbringing, is one of less than 1% of the world’s population not wiped out by a plague, and Frances gives an intensely powerful portrayal of her as a screen villain, dumping her disabled partner and refusing to help others, having regard for only her self-preservation – the qualities of a true survivor.

The drama ran for a further two series with regularly changing characters, and in 1979 Frances appeared in another cult screen hit, Doctor Who. In The Creature From the Pit adventure, she played Lady Adrasta, doomed ruler of Chloris, who controls the valuable metals on her verdant planet of foggy forests until her people turn against her.

(8) HUGHES OBIT. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] Guardian journalist and TV critic Sarah Hughes, who did their episode-by-episode reviews of Game of Thrones among others, has died of cancer at the aged only 48. I was shocked to read this, because I had seen her final article, a review of an episode of the UK crime drama Line of Duty, only a day before her death, so she was literally still reviewing TV episodes on her deathbed. There’s also a lovely tribute by a fellow Guardian journalist: “’My TV bellwether, my wonderful friend’: a tribute to Sarah Hughes”.

…Over the past 10 years, Sarah Hughes cultivated the most wonderful and witty community for fans of the cultural juggernaut Game of Thrones. Readers flocked to her weekly recaps to share in her great love and knowledge of television. With boundless energy and absolutely no spoilers, she gave telly addicts a home and she always made them feel loved and listened to.

I had the honour of editing my TV bellwether, my wonderful friend, who died of cancer on Monday after outliving by years the prognosis doctors dared to give her. I put her longevity down to her passion for life, telly, trashy books, Tottenham Hotspur and Cheltenham races – plus, of course, the depth of her love for her husband, Kris, and their two children, Ruby and Oisín….

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born April 13, 1893 – Harold Sheldon, Ph.D.  Physics professor, Prentice-Hall science editor, pioneer in conduction of electricity through crystals (basis of electronic integrated circuits) and ultra-high-frequency radio.  Third Ph.D. member of the American Interplanetary Society.  Introduction to Lasser’s The Conquest of Space.  Television (1929!).  Space, Time & Relativity.  Light Waves and Their Uses.  Okay, okay, these weren’t fiction.  (Died 1964) [JH]
  • Born April 13, 1931 Beverley Cross. English screenwriter responsible for an amazing trio of films, to wit namely Jason And The ArgonautsSinbad And The Eye Of The Tiger and Clash Of The Titans. He also wrote the screenplay for The Long Ships which is at genre adjacent. (Died 1998.) (CE) 
  • Born April 13, 1937 Terry Carr. Well-known and loved fan, author, editor, and writing instructor. I usually don’t list awards both won and nominated for but his are damned impressive so I will. He was nominated five times for Hugos for Best Fanzine (1959–1961, 1967–1968), winning in 1959, was nominated three times for Best Fan Writer (1971–1973), winning in 1973, and he was Fan Guest of Honor at ConFederation in 1986. Wow. He worked at Ace Books before going freelance where he edited an original story anthology series called Universe, and The Best Science Fiction of the Year anthologies that ran from 1972 until his early death in 1987. Back to awards again. He was nominated for the Hugo for Best Editor thirteen times (1973–1975, 1977–1979, 1981–1987), winning twice (1985 and 1987). His win in 1985 was the first time a freelance editor had won. Wow indeed. Novelist as well. Just three novels but all are still in print today though I don’t think his collections are and none of his anthologies seem to be currently either. A final note. An original anthology of science fiction, Terry’s Universe, was published the year after his death and all proceeds went to his widow. (Died 1987.) (CE) 
  • Born April 13, 1941 – John Foyster.  Mainspring of the 7th Australian SF Con; Fan Guest of Honour at 8th, 12th, 20th.  Instigated Aussiecon I the 33rd Worldcon.  Co-founded DUFF (Down Under Fan Fund).  First GUFF (Get Up and over Fan Fund northbound, Going Under Fan Fund south) delegate, report Stranger in Stranger Lands.  Australian SF Review.  Australian Fan History 1953-1966.  Journal of Omphalistic Epistemology (with Bruce Gillespie).  Contributor & correspondent, ChungaIzzardNY Rev SFSF CommentarySF ReviewVision of Tomorrow.  Chandler Award.  Three Ditmars.  More here.   (Died 2003) [JH]
  • Born April 13, 1949 – Teddy Harvia, age 72.  Four Hugos as Best Fanartist.  Fan Guest of Honor at Minicon 25, DeepSouthCon 35, ArmadilloCon 23, Loscon 30, ConQuesT 38; Special Guest (with wife Diana Thayer), Boskone 36 (Boskone has no Fan Guest of Honor; the Special Guest need not be a fan).  Rebel Award.  Rotsler Award.  See my note here.  [JH]
  • Born April 13, 1951 Peter Davison, 70. The Fifth Doctor and one that I came to be very fond of unlike the one that followed him. And he put a lot of gravitas into the voice of Mole he did for The Wind in the Willows animated special Mole’s Christmas. For twenty years now, he has reprised his role as the Fifth Doctor in myriad Doctor Who audio dramas for Big Finish. (CE)
  • Born April 13, 1953 – Helen Hollick, age 68. Eight novels, two shorter stories.  Historical fiction “not to include Merlin…. no magic…. no Holy Grail quest…. not a fantasy” about Arthur, Harold II, Emma of Normandy; also “pirate-based nautical adventures … part fantasy … intended for adult reading.”  Website.  [JH]
  • Born April 13, 1954 Michael Cassutt, 67. Producer, screenwriter, and author. His notable TV work includes work for the animated Dungeons & DragonsMax HeadroomThe Outer LimitsBeauty and The BeastSeaQuestFarscape and The Twilight Zone. He’s also written a number of genre works including the Heaven’s Shadow series that was co-written with David S. Goyer. (VE) 
  • Born April 13, 1950 Ron Perlman, 71. Hellboy in a total of five films including three animated films (Hellboy: Sword of StormsHellboy: Blood and Iron and the Redcap short). He’s got a very long association with the genre as his very first film was Quest for Fire in which he was Amoukar. The Ice Pirates and being Zeno was followed quickly By being Captain Soames in Sleepwalkers and Angel  De La Guardia in the Mexican horror film Cronos.  Several years later, I see he’s Boltar in Prince Valiant, followed by the hard SF of being Johnher in Alien Resurrection and Reman Viceroy in Star Trek: Nemesis. And I should note he was in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them as Gnarlack, a goblin gangster if I read the Cliff notes to that correctly. No, I’m not forgetting about his most amazing role of all, Vincent in Beauty and The Beast. (Having not rewatched for fear of the Suck Fairy having come down hard on it.) At the time, I thought it was the most awesome practical makeup I’d ever seen. And the costume just made look him even still more amazing.  (CE) 
  • Born April 13, 1967 – Mayra Calvani, age 54.  Some work under Zoe Kalo may have to be sought that way; three novels as MC, five as ZK.  Also MC nonfiction e.g. anthology Latina Authors and Their Muses (Int’l Latina Book Award).  [JH]
  • Born April 13, 1985 – Karsten Knight, age 36.  Six novels, three shorter stories. “Favorite song: ‘The Very Thought of You’ by Billie Holiday…. I performed as a beatboxer in various a cappella groups for almost a decade.” [JH]

(10) SOLE MAN. “’Rocky Horror’ played to an empty theater for 54 weeks. Now, audiences return to Portland’s longest-running movie”OregonLive interviews the audience. Almost every one of him.

Some things are constants in a chaotic world: Death, taxes and “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” which has played at Portland’s Clinton Street Theater every Saturday night for 43 years.

So, on March 15, 2020, when the theater was forced to close due to coronavirus restrictions, one man was determined not to break the streak.

For the next 54 Saturdays, Nathan Williams came to an empty theater to screen the film, sometimes with a friend, sometimes by himself.

“I watched it alone. I watched it during the snowstorm,” said Williams, who serves as emcee for the theater’s “Rocky” nights. “I was in a position to keep a flame burning, to keep a torch lit.

“I’m just a guy holding a torch for the city of Portland, for all the weirdos, for all the people who don’t have a safe place to call home, we’re home.”

Lani Jo Leigh, owner of Clinton Street Theater since 2012, said it was important for the community to know that the theater was still waiting for them…

(11) SPACE ON THE SHELVES. Delish reports “Lucky Charms Galactic Is Coming To Cereal Aisles Soon”.

…Announcing the release of Lucky Charms Galactic, General Mills is clearly keeping the cereal game on lock as well as keeping cereal lovers on their toes. Delivering an intergalactic twist on the beloved Lucky Charms brand, the new limited-edition offering still hosts the traditional frosted toasted oat cereal with marshmallow pieces that we love, but now includes three additional new magic charms. How lucky are we?!

The new charms—which are said to have “special powers”—include two colorful planet charms that can duplicate and a rocket charm that has the power to race through space…. 

(12) LAST IN SPACE. UPI brings you into the picture as “Astronaut breaks Guinness record for longest time between spacewalks”.

A Japanese astronaut was awarded a Guinness World Record when he took two spacewalks 15 years and 214 days apart.

Soichi Noguchi, an astronaut with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, went for a spacewalk March 5 as part of the ISS Expedition 64, a record-breaking amount of time after his Aug. 3, 2005, spacewalk.

(13) TODAY’S THING TO WORRY ABOUT. AI cats are already a thing – The Verge worries that “Soon, the internet will make its own cat photos and then it won’t need us”.

These are computer-generated images from This Cat Does Not Exist, and folks: I think we are in trouble.

I understand this is going to sound crackpot, but hear me out. What if our computers are already smarter than us, and the only reason they’re pretending they aren’t is so we’ll continue feeding them their favorite thing, photos of our cats? I understand that in isolation this sounds ridiculous, but I don’t think it’s any sillier than the Singularity.

Under this theory, Skynet has already happened, but Skynet is benign because one of the first things we taught it was that cats were cute. And Skynet doesn’t have cats. We do. This is our major structural advantage: we can feed the internet fresh cat photos. It’s why the internet — thus far, anyway — has remained willing to continue human life as we know it: for our cats…

(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Honest Game Trailers: Monster Hunter Rise” on YouTube, Fandom Games says this game is “another entry in the turning monsters into fashion accessories genre” which should appeal to gamers who enjoy “whacking dinosaurs with comically oversize weapons.”

[Thanks to Cora Buhlert, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Gordon Van Gelder, Dann, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Michael Toman, John Hertz, Andrew Porter, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day jayn.]

Pixel Scroll 10/26/20 Strange Scrolls Lying In Ponds Distributing Pixels Is No Basis For A System Of Filing

(1) TITLE BOUT. Shelf Awareness publicized the release of the six-book shortlist for the 2020 Diagram Prize for the Oddest Book Title of the Year. “Founded by Trevor Bounford and the late Bruce Robertson in 1978 ‘as a way to stave off boredom at the Frankfurt Book Fair,’ the Diagram Prize has had a home at the Bookseller and with legendary diarist Horace Bent since 1982.” The finalists are —

  • A Dog Pissing at the Edge of a Path by Gregory Forth
  • Introducing the Medieval Ass by Kathryn L Smithies
  • Classical Antiquity in Heavy Metal Music by K.F.B. Fletcher and Osman Umurhan
  • How to Make Love to a Despot by Stephen D. Krasner
  • Lawnmowers: An Illus­trated History by Brian Radam
  • The Slaughter of Farmed Animals: Practical Ways to Enhance Animal Welfare by Temple Grandin and Michael Cockram

More details from the award hosts here: “The Bookseller announces the Diagram Prize 2020 shortlist”

The winning title will now be chosen by members of the public via an online vote. The public vote closes on Friday 20th November, with the winning entry to be announced on Friday 27th November. There is no prize for the winning author or publisher, but traditionally a passable bottle of claret is given to the nominator of the winning entry. If a title wins that was nominated by The Bookseller staff, the claret will be given at random to a member of the public who participated in the online voting. 

(2) FIYAH FOUNDER Q&A. The latest episode of The Imagination Desk, a podcast from the Center for Science and the Imagination at Arizona State University, is live now, featuring an interview with speculative fiction author Troy L. Wiggins, who is also one of the founders of FIYAH Literary Magazine. Listen in here.

The next episode will be with science fiction author and researcher Regina Kanyu Wang.

Here is the CSI newsletter on Black Speculative Fiction Month activities, which features this podcast, among other things. And here are direct links to the podcast, on the CSI website (which links out to the other services), Apple PodcastsSpotifyRadioPublic, and Libsyn

(3) ROCKY HORROR LIVE FUNDRAISER. This invitation was sent in Tim Curry’s name for a Rocky Horror Live virtual event to aid the Wisconsin Democratic party.

Right now, we can almost see blue skies through the tears… of the Trump presidency, of course. But we absolutely must keep the pressure on!

That’s why we’re doing the Rocky Horror Show — LIVE — this Halloween night — to help get out the vote in Wisconsin. RSVP and reserve your spot today!

This is a live, once-in-a-lifetime musical livestream event, featuring cast members both old and new. There will be singing, dancing, laughs and plenty of fun.

Chip in any amount to join us for the Rocky Horror Show Livestream on Halloween with Tim Curry, Wilmer Valderrama, Lance Bass, Rosario Dawson, Jason George, Nell Campbell, Seth Green, Jason Alexander, David Arquette, and more!

Featuring musical performances by The Dresden Dolls, Miss Peppermint, Eiza Gonzalez, Josh Gad, Ben Barnes, Jenna Ushkowitz, Rachel Bloom, Karen Olivo, Marissa Jaret Winkour, Madison Uphoff, Kalen Chase, and Rumer Willis.

This event is only going to be livestreamed once at 9pm CT on Saturday, October 31st.

(4) SANS CLUE. LitHub confirms, “We Have Edgar Allan Poe to Thank for the Detective Story”.

…These are the similarities between the Dupin stories and Sherlock Holmes, and there are many. One writer said that “The only difference between Dupin and Holmes is the English Channel.” Similarity number one: in both stories we have at the heart a highly intelligent but somewhat eccentric and enigmatic detective. The word detective did not actually exist when Poe was writing, which gives you a sense of how novel he was. He might have taken the idea from a series of magazine articles about a French policeman. Otherwise, he was on his own. This was all his….

(5) MAD, YOU KNOW. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Our Culture’s Ongoing, Ever-Evolving Fascination With ‘The Mad Scientist’” on CrimeReads, sf novelist Jane Gilmartin explains why “mad scientists” remain popular characters in sf.

… Examples of the mad scientist/evil genius in everything from comic books to classics spring to mind without even breaking a sweat: Dr. No of James Bond fame, whose experiments with atomic energy cost him his hands as well as his conscience; Christopher Marlowe’s Dr. Faustus, whose unquenchable thirst for knowledge drove him to a deal with the devil; Dr. Henry Wu, who fooled around with genetics and opened a questionable theme park in Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park, and, my personal favorite, Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll, whose work brought to the surface his baser self as Mr. Hyde.

It is the last example, I think, that speaks most clearly to our fears. Scientists are people like the rest of us—multi-faceted, unpredictable and (for the most part) human. Like all of us humans, there’s always that slim chance that they’re going to turn to the proverbial dark side, especially when they get a taste of power….

(6) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.

  • 2000 — Twenty years ago at Chicon 2000, the Hugo for Best Novella went to Connie Willis for “The Winds of Marble Arch”, a precursor to her Blackout/All Clear novel which would win the Best Hugo Novel eleven years later at Renovation. Runner-ups were Harry Turtledove‘s “Forty, Counting Down”, Adam-Troy Castro and Jerry Oltion‘s “The Astronaut from Wyoming”, Mike Resnick‘s “Hunting the Snark” and Kage Baker‘s “Son, Observe the Time”. It can be found in The Winds of Marble Arch and Other Stories, the Subterranean Press collection, which is available from the usual digital suspects. 

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born October 26, 1942 —  Bob Hoskins. I’ll insist his role as Eddie Valiant in Who Framed Roger Rabbit? is his finest genre role though I suppose Mario Mario in Super Mario Bros. could be said… Just kidding! He’s the Director of The Raggedy Rawney which he also had a role, a strange might-be genre film, and he’s Smee in Hook as well. (Died 2014.) (CE)
  • Born October 26, 1945 – Jane Chance, Ph.D., D.Litt., 75.  Mellon Distinguished Professor emerita at Rice; first woman appointed to tenure track in English; founder president of the Consortium for the Teaching of the Middle Ages; doctorate of letters, Purdue.  For us, six books on Tolkien; a score of others, a hundred articles.  [JH]
  • Born October 26, 1951 – Melanie Herz, 69.  Hardworking Florida fan.  Many regionals and Worldcons; chaired Traveling Fête 1996, Tropicon 21, OASIS 6. When we’ve been on the same con committee, and particularly when we were on the same DUFF (Down Under Fan Fund) ballot, we tried to make sure our mail didn’t get crossed.  Still wasn’t as bad as when I had an office down the hall from a man named Heitz.  [JH]
  • Born October 26, 1954 Jennifer Roberson, 66. Writer of of fantasy and historical romances. The Chronicles of the Cheysuli is her fantasy series about shapeshifters and their society, and the Sword-Dancer Saga is the desert based adventure series of sort, but the series I’ve enjoyed is her Sherwood duo-logy that consists of Lady of the Forest and Lady of Sherwood which tells the Robin Hood tale from the perspective of Marian. Her hobby, which consumes much of her time, is breeding and showing Cardigan Welsh Corgis. (CE)
  • Born October 26, 1960 Patrick Breen, 60. He’s Redgick, a Squid,  a minor character that appeared in Men in Black. In beloved Galaxy Quest, he’s Quellek, a Thermian who forms a bond with Alexander Dane. it’s a wonderful role. And he has a recurring role as Larry Your-Waiter, a member of V.F.D. on A Series of Unfortunate Events series. (CE) 
  • Born October 26, 1960 – David LaRochelle, 60.  A score of children’s books, many with fantasy elements.  Also an amazing astounding stellar thrilling pumpkin carver; see here.  [JH]
  • Born October 26, 1962 Cary Elwes, 58. He’s in the ever-so-excellent Princess Bride as Westley / Dread Pirate Roberts / The Man in Black. He also shows up in Dr. Lawrence Gordon in the Saw franchise, and was cast as Larry Kline, Mayor of Hawkins, for the third season of Stranger Things. (CE) 
  • Born October 26, 1969 – Mary Ting, 51.  A score of novels; taught a score of years, toured with the Magic Johnson Foundation.  Makes Twilight-themed jewelry.  Besides husband, children, has two dogs Mochi and Mocha.  [JH]
  • Born October 26, 1971 Anthony Rapp, 49. Lieutenant Commander Paul Stamets on the most Discovery series . His first role ever was Wes Hansen in Sky High, and he showed up early in his career as Jeff Glaser in the “Detour” episode of X-Files. He was Seymour Krelbourn in a national tour of Little Shop of Horrors. (CE) 
  • Born October 26, 1972 – Zetta Elliott, Ph.D., 48.  Five novels, seven shorter stories for us; poetry; essays; plays; children’s illustrated books under her Rosetta Press.  “I write as much for parents as I do for their children because sometimes adults need the simple instruction a picture book can provide.” [JH]
  • Born October 26, 1973 Seth MacFarlane, 47. Ok, I confess that I tried watching the Orville which he created and is in and it just didn’t appeal to me. For those of you who are fans, why do you like it? I’ll must admit that having it described as trying to be a better Trek ain’t helping. (CE)
  • Born October 26, 1975 – David Walton, 45.  Author and engineer.  Seven novels, a dozen shorter stories.  Baen Memorial Award, Campbell Memorial Award, Philip K. Dick Award.  Plays chess and go.  “Science fiction can show us the viewpoints of people whose lives and experiences are so far away from ours that … our minds are stretched and our vision is expanded.”  [JH]

(8) COMICS SECTION.

  • Bizarro finds law enforcement pondering why no pumpkin is safe!
  • Yesterday’s Bizarro recalls that time Sesame Street fought for its independence. (Just when was that, anyway?)
  • Jonathan Muroya’s Greek Quarantology shows how all your favorite mythical figures are dealing with life during COVID-19.
  • After you take a look at this Wulffmorgenthaler cartoon for Denmark’s Politiken you’ll want a translation for the dialog (courtesy of Lise Andreasen):

“The death star is flat.”

“Actually, some of us believe, the death star is flat. That being round business is a conspiracy.”

(9) PIRANESI. Camestros Felapton promises substantial spoilers: “Review: Piranesi by Susanna Clarke (substantial spoilers)”. See, what did I tell you?

This was a charming, thoughtful, often whimsical story full of a deep horror that at times wholly unnerved me. I’ll be discussing many key plot points and revelations….

(10) THE DOOM FROM THE SUN. [Item by Olav Rokne.] In a quirky bit of science news, astronomers recorded a large solar flare that happened to look like a prop from an old science fiction TV show… “NASA satellites capture massive ‘Doomsday machine’ solar flare”.

From the article: “The image of the explosion was described by some as the stuff of science fiction, specifically the Doomsday machine from Star Trek. Fortunately, the CME did not hit Earth.”

(11) SILENT GOLD. Leonard Maltin has a roundup of silent film releases — “Rare Silent Films On Blu-Ray And DVD”. One of them is the rediscovered 1916 version of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea.  The poster for this movie is very cool.

It’s not a typo: Universal produced a feature-length version of Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea in 1916, and the new DVD/Blu-ray release is a 4K transfer of the surviving material. Luckily for us, silent film historian Anthony Slide delivers a highly informative commentary track that tracks the careers of underwater-photography specialists Ernest and George Williamson. Indeed, it is their work that makes this release so intriguing, not the hackneyed mishmash of Verne’s famous story and The Mysterious Island. Alan Holubar, then a prominent actor about to turn director, and Jane Gail star. The music score is credited to Orlando Perez Rosso.

(12) SOL SEARCHING. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] A new way has been found to determine which stars are likely to host weird planetary systems and those stars likely to have planetary systems more like our own Solar system.

The following will appear in next season’s SF² Concatenation but they’ve shared it with File 770 now…

How many Solar system type planetary systems are there in our spiral arm? We may soon be finding out from new research.  Some planetary systems around stars are very unlike our Solar system. For example, they will have what are called hot Jupiters with a gas giant close to their star in an orbit similar to that of Mercury about our sun, rather than beyond the asteroid belt where Jupiter is in our system.

It had been thought that the type of planetary system that forms is determined by the star’s protoplanetary disk of gas and dust.  While this may be so, there is also another factor at play – whether the star formed in comparative isolation or along with loads of others in a stellar nursery.

Up to now it has been impossible to address this question as stars disperse (as the Galaxy rotates, spiral arms oscillate, local stellar conditions etc) from when they were born within a billion years of their formation.  However, ESA’s Gaia star mapping has helped British and German astronomers to determine that whether or not a star is born in a stellar nursery or more isolated by itself, is key to the type of planetary system it will host.

You see the Gaia probe not only maps stars positions, it does it so accurately that after a few years and the star is re-mapped, it is possible to discern its movement, velocity and direction.  What the researchers have found is that they can correlate those stars that seem to be moving more or less parallel to, and with a similar velocity, to other stars. These stars can be assumed to have a common birthplace in a stellar nursery. Other stars that have no movement correlation with others, can be assumed to have been born in comparative isolation. With this in mind, the astronomers looked at 600 stars Gaia had mapped.

What the astronomers found was that systems with hot Jupiters tend to be formed in crowded stellar nurseries, while those with gas giants further from their star almost invariably saw the star’s birth in comparative isolation: there were few such systems with hot Jupiters – a hot Jupiter system was roughly ten times more likely in a star born in a stellar nursery.

As the researchers themselves point out, their discovery has “possible implications for planetary habitability and the likelihood of life in the Universe” questions.  (See Winter, A. J., Kruijssen, J. M. D., Longmore S. N & Chevance, M. (2020) Stellar clustering shapes the architecture of planetary systemsNaturevol. 586, p528-532.)

Planetary systems around stars born in stellar nurseries less likely to have Solar System type planetary arrangement, but will be more likely to have hot Jupiters.

(13) MANDO MERCH. “This RC Baby Yoda Waddles Around Your House Like a 50-Year-Old Toddler” io9 writes that like it’s a bad thing!

…Available this fall for $60, the Star Wars: The Mandalorian the Child “Real Moves Plush” stands 11 inches tall, so it’s slightly smaller than the animatronic figure used in the series. Mattel still managed to stuff it full of electronics, including authentic sound effects and motors to bring it to life.

The Child’s head can turn from side to side, and look up and down while it’s giant ears wiggle, and all the mechanisms are hidden under a flexible outer skin, which makes sense when you say it, but out of context feels like a horrifying thing to say about a baby. His tiny, snuggly robes can also be further adorned with an included Mythosaur skull pendant, like the one gifted to him by Din Djarin at the end of the first season.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, JJ, Olav Rokne, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, John Hertz, Michael Toman, Joey Eschrich, Lise Andreasen, Jeff Smith, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day JJ.]

Time Warp Again

The official trailer for Fox’s The Rocky Horror Picture Show dropped at Comic-Con 2016.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show, a brand-new reimagining of the cult-classic midnight movie 40 years in the making, is set to air October 2016. Sweethearts Janet (Victoria Justice, Victorious) and Brad (Ryan McCartan, Liv & Maddie, Heathers the Musical) stumble upon flirtatious mad scientist Dr Frank-N-Furter’s (Emmy Award-nominated actress Laverne Cox, Orange is the New Black) bizarre abode during his annual Transylvanian science convention. The two-hour event also features Emmy Award nominee Tim Curry, the original Frank-N-Furter.

The two-hour event commemorating the 40th anniversary of the original movie musical will air in October.

It’s directed and choreographed by High School Musical‘s Kenny Ortega, which is better than it sounds, because his many other credits include working with Michael Jackson on what was intended as his comeback, the elements of which are seen in the movie This Is It.