Pixel Scroll 7/11/24 ‘E’s Not A Pixel! ‘E’s A Very Naughty Scroll!

(1) GRRM AND THE GHOSTS OF GLASGOW. George R.R. Martin told Not a Blog readers that he will be at Glasgow 2024 and has tried to get on program, however several of his proposals did not even get a reply from the committee. “On the Road Again”.

Glasgow has hosted worldcons twice before, and we were at both of those and had a great time.   We are hoping this will be as good.

Anyway… I will be in Glasgow, attending the con, but whether you’ll see me, I don’t know.   I am not on any programming.   It is not for lack of trying, though.   I wrote the con’s programming chair back in January, and again in February, asking for his phone number so we could discuss the details.  No phone number was forthcoming, alas, just a form letter with a link to an application and a warning that while I was welcome to apply, I could not be guaranteed a place on the programme.

I did not give up there, however.   Several months later, when I learned how many of my Wild Cards writers would be at the con (about a dozen, all told), I wrote again and offered to organize a Wild Cards event for them.   (We have done Wild Cards events at a dozen past worldcons, everything from traditional panels to trivia contests to cage matches and the like), and they have always drawn a big crowd.   I got no reply to that one.   A month or so after that, I tried again.  Howard Waldrop died in January, and I thought it would be nice to do a memorial panel honoring the man and his work.   Several other friends of Howard will also be at Glasgow, and said they would be delighted to be part of such a panel.   Alas, no reply to that one either.

As regular readers of my Not A Blog know, I  have also been producing a series of short films based on some of Howard’s classic short stories.   NIGHT OF THE COOTERS was the first done, and won prizes in half a dozen film fests.   MARY-MARGARET ROAD GRADER is hitting the festival circuit this year, and has already won its first prize.   THE UGLY CHICKENS, adapted by Michael Cassutt from Howard’s Nebula-winning short, and starring fan favorite Felicia Day, will follow this year.   Just saw the final cut, directed by Mark Raso, and it’s just lovely.  The films are not in theatres yet, but I offered to screen them in Glasgow, as part of the film programme (if there is one) or that proposed Waldrop Memorial Panel.   No response to that offer either.

So… yes, I will be at Glasgow.   I will check out the art show, as I always do, maybe attend some bid parties, and I will be wandering the dealer’s room (the huckster’s room, as us old timers call it).   The rest of the time I guess I may hang out in the bar, drinking with friends both old and new, toasting Howard and Gardner and all the other friends we lost.

At the Winter Is Coming fan site Dan Selcke tried to explain why this might be happening in “George R.R. Martin ghosted by Worldcon after controversial 2020 hosting gig”.

…One of the main events at Worldcon are the Hugo Awards, given out to sci-fi and fantasy authors, filmmakers and creators. That year, the award ceremony was virtual because of the coronavirus pandemic, and Martin was the host. As he puts it in his blog post, “things did not work out well.”

That’s putting it mildly. To make a long story short, Martin was accused on social media and elsewhere of erasing the accomplishments of authors of color, glorifying authors and editors with regressive beliefs, mispronouncing lots of the names on the ballot, making off-color jokes, taking way too long to give his remarks, and generally doing a bad job as host.

The backlash was so bad that the con chairs issued an apology. Martin defended himself by saying he was trying delve into the history of the Hugos and make people laugh, although obviously the approach didn’t work. My read on that situation was that it was a bad match of host and audience. A lot of the acceptance speeches from authors were about the importance of social justice in sci-fi and fantasy, and these people did not want to hear George R.R. Martin talk for hours about long-dead authors with problematic records, let alone endure it for the full length of the three-and-a-half-hour ceremony….

I’m sure that’s part of it. But my personal opinion is a bigger reason was that GRRM devoted a chunk of time during his pre-recorded 2020 Hugo Awards presentation, assisted by Robert Silverberg, glorifying John W. Campbell Jr. This was in the aftermath of Jeanette Ng’s 2019 acceptance speech for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer which heavily criticized Campbell and called him a fascist (see “Storm Over Campbell Award”), a speech that in fact won the 2020 Best Related Work Hugo Award.

(2) PERSEVERANCE. Sarah A. Hoyt has encouraging words for new writers at Mad Genius Club: “You Might Be A Beginning Writer IF”.

I’ve noticed that a lot of beginning writers either view these problems as “a sign I shouldn’t be doing this” or a big personality failing. Well, since I have been doing this since some of you were born, I’m here to tell you that’s not true at all. Everyone has these issues starting out. They are absolutely bog standard, and they smooth out as you practice and learn, and sometimes when you try this “one easy trick.” So in no particular order, here are issues that plague newbies…

One of them is:

I can start stories, but I lose interest and it all dies within a few paragraphs. Or at best halfway through.

Completely normal. That’s because the idea in your head is beautiful and multi-colored and amazing.

But each decision you make limits the choices you can make, so it makes the story less exciting in your brain.

This is a “in your brain” problem. It’s not real. If you push past it, eventually it will stop telling you the story is dead. Better. Once the story is done, you won’t be able to find the place it “died.”

(3) AUTHORS OPEN LETTER SUPPORTS FIRED WATERSTONES EMPLOYEE. “Authors ask Waterstones to rehire worker fired after tweet about gender-critical writer” reports the Guardian.

More than 500 authors and book industry professionals have signed an open letter calling on Waterstones to reverse a decision to dismiss an employee who said she would tear up and throw away books written by a gender-critical author.

Figures including Chocolat author Joanne Harris, writer and podcaster Dorian Lynskey, and author and culture journalist Jason Okundaye have backed Tilly Fitzgerald, who posts book-related content and reviews under the username TillyLovesBooks on social media. Fitzgerald was sacked after responding to a post on X by author Christina Dalcher, which appeared to endorse a publishing network for those “concerned about the impact of gender ideology” on the sector. Fitzgerald wrote: “Ooh, I’ll enjoy tearing up your books and popping them in the bin today. Thanks for the heads up.”

Fitzgerald, who had worked for Waterstones as a bookseller since August 2023, explained in a video posted on 8 July that Waterstones had sacked her over her social media activity. “I’ve just been sacked from the only job I’ve ever loved,” she said.

“I told [Dalcher] on Twitter that I was going to throw away her books after I found out that she was a bigot”, Fitzgerald added. “She tagged Waterstones and they have decided to fire me for my social media usage. It’s the first mistake I’ve ever made, I’ve been nothing but an exemplary employee there”.

A spokesperson from Waterstones said Fitzgerald was dismissed “on the grounds of contravening Waterstones policies” and that the decision “has nothing to do with transgender rights”.

“We are an inclusive employer and follow due process in HR matters,” the spokesperson told the Guardian. “For obvious reasons we are unable to comment on the specifics of individual cases.”

Fitzgerald told the Guardian: “My intention responding to Dalcher was only to let her know that I would no longer be supporting her books in my personal capacity as a reviewer.”…

(4) STARSHIP FONZIE REPORTS UPDATE REGARDING KARL KLINGER’S STOLEN BICYCLE. [Item by Eric Hildeman.] Follow-up to the news item regarding steampunk enthusiast Karl Klinger’s stolen bicycle: He’s about to get TWO penny farthings!

A man named Rolly, who is a great guy by all accounts, saw the story about Karl’s bike theft on the news and contacted him to offer Karl his own penny farthing bicycle, which was built in 1979. Last Sunday, Karl procured the bike from Rolly, “for a steal.” (The exact dollar figure wasn’t revealed.) Apparently, Rolly can no longer ride his bike, for whatever reason, and he wanted it to go to a good home. I think we can all agree it certainly has! So, while Karl’s new bike is currently being constructed, he now already has another one!

Rolly apparently modified this bike to go much faster than a normal penny farthing would, which Karl seems to appreciate.

Transcript on Blogger.com can be found here.


(6) SHELLEY DUVALL (1949-2024). Actress Shelley Duvall died July 11 in her sleep of complications from diabetes at her home in Texas. Just looking at her top genre work, she played Jack Nicholson’s wife Wendy Torrance in The Shining (1980), Olive Oyl in Popeye (1980), Pansy in funny scenes with Michael Palin in Terry Gilliam’s Time Bandits (1981); and Steve Martin’s supportive pal Dixie in Roxanne (1987).

Her TV work included appearances on episodes of The Twilight Zone reboot, and Ray Bradbury Theater.

…Roger Ebert wrote in 1980 that Duvall “looks and sounds like almost nobody else … and has possibly played more really different kinds of characters than almost any other young actress of the 1970s.

“In all of her roles, there is an openness about her, as if somehow nothing has come between her open face and our eyes — no camera, dialogue, makeup, method of acting — and she is just spontaneously being the character.”…

And at Deadline: “Remembering Shelley Duvall: A Career In Photos”.


[Written by Paul Weimer.]

July 11, 1899 E. B. White. (Died 1985.)

By Paul Weimer:  I missed reading a swath of children’s literature because I was always aiming and hoping to read “adult books”.  I got annoyed once, while in the hospital, that the playroom only had “baby books” (e.g. Golden readers). As soon as I could contrive to get a library card to get me into the adult section instead of the children’s section, I did. And I mainly read the non fiction books in the children’s section until I could get into the Golden Country of the Adult section.  So some of the basics of children’s literature, I frankly only know from cultural osmosis. 

E. B. White and his dog, Minnie.

E.B. White is an exception to that, in two particular novels: Charlotte’s Web and Stuart Little

The first, Charlotte’s Web. Well, you know the story of Wilbur, the pig, saved from death by the clever titular character’s webbing and messages. I came across this story first in the animated movie from the 70’s, and went on to find it in the library and read the original. I enjoyed it even more than the animated movie, which is pretty faithful to the book I found, although it IS a musical, which I will just say was a *choice*. (They aren’t even really good songs, to be honest). Still, the movie and the book were for me what the Lion King was for a generation later, introducing the “cycle of life” (but Charlotte’s Web is a little more gentle about it)

After I read Charlotte’s Web, I then read Stuart Little, since it was sitting right there in the library next to Charlotte’s Web and I was curious. (I also briefly had the wrong idea it was set in the same universe). Still, I was charmed by the idea of the diminutive small Stuart Little being fearless and adventurous, wanting to see the world no matter what. Did Stuart Little help kindle in me my curiosity and desire to see places (and decades later, want to photograph them).  Maybe, it’s certainly a working theory. Unlike Charlotte’s Web, I don’t particularly care for the late 90’s movie. I vastly prefer the book (maybe because I read the book first).  

Oh, there is one adult book of White’s I’ve read, long ago for AP English:  Strunk and White’s The Manual of Style.


 (9) UP ABOVE THE WORLD SO HIGH. “The International Astronomical Youth Camp Is a Summer Camp for Serious Stargazers”. Atlas Obscura says, “For more than half a century, the International Astronomical Youth Camp has attracted aspiring astronomers from around the world.”

THE CLOUDS SEEMED TO BE conspiring against Jimo Pereira last summer. The university student from Buenos Aires spent much of her time curled up in a sleeping bag on the grounds of Eichsfelder Hütte, a hostel deep in Germany’s rugged Harz Mountains. Night after chilly night she’d be out in the open field with her project partner, trying to stay warm. Every so often one of them would get up to check their telescope, but the clouds stubbornly barred their view. Then one night, finally, they saw stars.

For hours, the pair took turns checking the alignment of their telescope and camera every 20 minutes that one clear night. They came away not with an Instagram-worthy time-lapse photo, but with data on two distant stars orbiting each other in what’s known as an eclipsing binary system. The two were not scientists, however. At least, not professionally—not yet. They were participants in one of the world’s most unusual summer camps: One devoted to studying the cosmos in constant motion overhead as the camp itself travels around the globe.

This traveling camp is the International Astronomical Youth Camp, an annual three-week program for 16- to 24-year-old lovers of astronomy that’s held at a different location each year. It’s been running every summer (and the occasional winter) since 1969, and has taken place in 15 different countries so far. In August, Pereira will join more than 60 other campers and 10 volunteers from more than 20 countries for her third camp, this time among the crags of Vogtland in eastern Germany, near the Czech border.’

(10) ROLE CALL. The Hollywood Reporter says Patrick Stewart will be the voice of a demonic axe in Barbaric: “Michael Bay, Sam Claflin, Patrick Stewart Vault Comics ‘Barbaric’”.

Michael Bay is heading to television.

The director, known for his muscular and high-revving big-screen action franchises such as Bad Boys and Transformers, is in talks to direct Barbaric, an acerbic fantasy series based on the best-selling Vault Comics title.

Netflix has picked up the bold-faced series package, which it will develop with A+E Studios.

Sam Claflin and Patrick Stewart are attached to star in the series, which will be written and exec produced by Sheldon Turner, known for his feature credits such as Up in the Air and X-Men: First Class….

Launched in 2021 and created by writer Michael Moreci and artist Nathan Gooden, Vault’s Barbaric featured a talking demonic axe and Owen, a barbarian looking for redemption. 

Claflin is attached to star as Owen while Stewart will provide the voice of the demonic axe….

(11) JUST HOW MANY OF THESE THINGS ARE THERE? “The Ending of Every Jaws Movie, Ranked”SYFY Wire thinks you deserve to know their opinion. See the results at the link.

When you think about death in the Jaws movies, you’re probably thinking about the hapless beachgoers who are devoured by a giant, bloodthirsty great white shark — while John Williams’ iconic theme plays, of course. But, all four Jaws movies end with another death: that of the shark.

In Jaws (1975), Jaws 2 (1978), Jaws 3-D (1983), and Jaws: The Revenge (1987), some member of the Brody family is, after much struggle, able to kill the Carcharodon carcharias in spectacular fashion, making it safe to get back in the water (for now, at least). Some of these kills are exciting, iconic climaxes that rank up there with the best endings in blockbuster film history. Other endings have, let’s say, jumped the shark. 

With it being July, and with all four movies currently streaming on Peacock, we thought it was a good time to rank the shark deaths to determine which Jaws was the best at saying “fin.”…

(12) WITH SHARP, POINTY TEETH. And if you don’t haven’t bagged your limit, there’s Space Sharks which FirstShowing.net says you can rent right now: “Bad Trailer for Trashy Sci-Fi Movie ‘Space Sharks’ feat. Eric Roberts”.

“They don’t need water to kill!” Wild Eye Releasing has debuted a trailer for a B-movie sci-fi comedy called Space Sharks, the latest from filmmaker Dustin Ferguson. This has already been dumped on VOD and can be watched now, if anyone wants to give it a go? …

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

Pixel Scroll 3/24/24 When Pixels Run in Titles, It’s A Very, Very, Scroll World

(1) NORTHUMBERLAND HEATH SF HAD ITS MONTHLY MEET. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] No big deal in itself but the meet saw Nicki receive a copy of her father’s collected fan writings: A Vince Clarke Treasury

Vince, of course, being a long-standing BritCit fan from the days of Ken Bulmer, Tedd Tubb and — no relation – Arthur C. Clarke. Vince was GoH at the 1995 Glasgow Worldcon, Intersection. Here’s Vince’s conreport. (Click for larger image.)

(2) O CAPTAIN, MY CAPTAIN. “William Shatner: ‘Good science fiction is humanity, moved into a different milieu’” – so he tells a Guardian interviewer.

…In the case of his time on Star Trek, for instance, an inevitable subject of discussion with the former Captain Kirk: “It was three years of my life, you know?” It gladdens him to see how much joy the series has brought its many fans, but the richest rewards came in his introduction to science fiction, which activated and nurtured a lifelong curiosity about our species. He reminisces about meeting the great writers of the genre fondly yet frankly, honest enough to sort Ray Bradbury into “the category right below friend, I think”. He devoured their novels and developed a fascination with the principle of defamiliarization, that concepts taken for granted can be understood anew when viewed through the vantage of a stranger in a strange land. “Good science fiction is humanity, moved into a different milieu,” he says. “Great stories are great stories. You put human beings on a spaceship or a deserted planet, and we’ve got another way to see ourselves.”…

(3) KAIJU AROUND THE CLOCK. Collider tells where you can “Celebrate Godzilla’s 70th Birthday Party with a 24-Hour Franchise Marathon”.

…  the Music Box Theatre in Chicago is hosting a 24-hour Godzilla marathon in June as a part of an almost week-long event.

From June 7 to June 13, 2024, the Music Box Theatre has partnered with the Japanese Art Foundation to host a slew of events in honor of Godzilla’s historic reign. Opening night (June 7) will be a double feature of the last two Toho Godzilla films, Shin Godzilla and Godzilla Minus One. This is followed by a panel discussion entitled “Godzilla: The Atomic Age Anti-Hero” led by Saira Chambers of the Japanese Culture Center/Japanese Arts Foundation and Dr.Yuki Miyamoto of DePaul Humanities Center. June 8 is when the 24-hour Godzilla marathon will be taking place. This will feature 15 films from the character’s Showa-era. Then, June 9, a rare I.B. Technicolor 35mm print screening of the underrated Godzilla (1998) starring Matthew Broderick will be shown. Other screenings that will be shown throughout this monstrous event will include the original Godzilla from 1954, The Return of Godzilla, and Godzilla vs Biollante.

(4) 2024 WATERSTONES CHILDREN’S BOOK PRIZE. “Botanical fairytale set in Kew Gardens wins the Waterstones children’s book prize” reports The Guardian.

Kew Gardens features a hidden magical door in the winning book for this year’s £5,000 Waterstoneschildren’s book prize.

Greenwild: The World Behind the Door by Pari Thomson was voted the winner by Waterstones booksellers. The book “is a spellbinding triumph that will make children fall in love with the world they are reading about, and with reading itself,” said Bea Carvalho, head of books at Waterstones.

The book follows Daisy as she searches for her missing mother and discovers another world behind a hidden doorway in Kew Gardens. She soon learns that the new realm, filled with plants and magic, is under threat, and she bands together with a botanical expert, a boy who can talk to animals and a cat to save the green paradise.

Thomson lives near Kew Gardens – a place “full of sparkling glasshouses and carnivorous plants and lily pads big enough to take a nap on”, she said. “I have always felt that nature was a little bit magic – and Kew made me ask, what if it was true? What if the natural world all around us was brimming with magic? Greenwild is the answer to that question.”…


[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born March 24, 1930 Steve McQueen. (Died 1980.) I know that Steve McQueen had but one SF role as Steve Andrews in The Blob. He received three thousand dollars in the late Fifties for that his first starring role, now thirty thousand if it was adjusted for inflation.

He had turned down a first offer for a  much smaller up-front fee in return for a ten percent share of profits, thinking the film would never make money, a reasonable assumption on his part. 

As later biographies noted, he needed this money immediately to pay for food and rent. However, this film ended up being a major hit, grossing four million at the box office after costing just one hundred and ten thousand to make, ten thousand under budget. 

I’ve seen it and he was quite excellent in it. Certainly I think he did better than the reviews of the time indicated such as the New York Times which said “the acting is pretty terrible” and or the Variety that proclaimed, “Neither the acting nor direction is particularly creditable.” Humph.

So one genre film, right? Now let’s look at what else that I like that he was in.

Two years later, he’d be in The Magnificent Seven. Yes, it’s a remake of a Japanese film but it feels all American. And the cast, oh my — other performers included Yul Brynner, Charles Bronson, Robert Vaughn and James Coburn. It’s considered one of the greatest films of the Western genre and deservedly so. 

The Thomas Crown Affair, released a decade later, was a most extraordinary heist film that he headed with Faye Dunaway. The perfect crime takes place. And then again and possibly deadly consequences. Oh it’s wonderful. He’s definitely a much better performer here, not surprising really. 

Now let’s see… Anything else?  Yes, one last film worth, in my opinion to note.

He’s the lead in The Great Escape as Captain Virgil Hilts which tells the story of the escape by British prisoners of war from German POW camp Stalag Luft III. Well, a highly fictional version of course. 


  • Candorville explains once again that sf jokes are hard.
  • Tom Gauld presents a double feature.

(7) GENTLEBEINGS, BE SEATED. At Sci-Fi World Museum in Santa Monica, CA, “The restored Star Trek Enterprise-D bridge goes on display in May”Ars Technica has the story.

More than a decade has gone by since three Star Trek: The Next Generation fans first decided to restore the bridge from the Enterprise-D. Plans for the restored bridge morphed from opening it up to non-commercial uses like weddings or educational events into a fully fledged museum, and now that museum is almost ready to open. Backers of the project on Kickstarter have been notified that Sci-Fi World Museum will open to them in Santa Monica, California, on May 27, with general admission beginning in June.

It’s not actually the original set from TNG, as that was destroyed while filming Star Trek: Generations, when the saucer section crash-lands on Veridian III. But three replicas were made, overseen by Michael Okuda and Herman Zimmerman, the show’s set designers. Two of those welcomed Trekkies at Star Trek: The Experience, an attraction in Las Vegas until it closed in 2008.

The third spent time in Hollywood, then traveled to Europe and Asia for Star Trek: World Tour before it ended up languishing in a warehouse in Long Beach. It’s this third globe-trotting Enterprise-D bridge that—like the grit that gets an oyster to create a pearl—now finds a science-fiction museum accreted around it. Well, mostly—the chairs used by Riker, Troi, Data, and some other bits were salvaged from the Las Vegas exhibit….

(8) TWO THUMBS. Collider remembers “The Time Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel Stood Up For Star Wars”.

…[John] Simon’s opinion is highly unusual, as most critics who have reviewed the original Star Wars films are generally complimentary of the visual effects, which are often praised as being extremely convincing and for blending practical techniques with computer-generated work. For example, in his original review of Return of the Jedi for The Chicago Tribune, Siskel remarked that, “for the professional moviegoers, it is particularly enjoyable to watch every facet of filmmaking at its best.” In their response to Simon, Ebert disagreed with the idea of the prominence of the special effects being indicative of poor quality, saying, “I think all movies are special effects. Movies are not real. They are two-dimensional. It’s a dream. It’s an imagination,” alluding to the idea that since all films are brought to life with a combination of effects, what matters is whether said effects work in convincing ways and immerse viewers in a given story….

(9) BANG THE GAVEL SLOWLY. Then in the present, Judge John Hodgman has been called on to remedy a genre-related dispute: “My 60-Year-Old Brother has Never Seen ‘Star Wars.’ Help!” in the New York Times. Here’s the problem – see the answer at the link.

Erin writes: My brother Joel is 60, and I’m 52. But despite growing up in the ’70s, Joel never saw the original “Star Wars.” Now he refuses to, because “sci-fi is dumb.” Please order that he watch it with me on his next visit. I will even provide the gummies if needed!…

(10) BURRRP! [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Nature has a cover with a decidedly SFnal theme about stars that destroy worlds.  ‘Death Stars’ if you will….

The cover shows an artist’s impression of a planet being captured and ingested by one of the stars in co-moving pairs of stars. In this week’s issue, Fan Liu and colleagues present evidence suggesting about 1 in 12 stars might have ingested a planet. The chemical composition of a star can change when it engulfs a planet, so the researchers looked at binary star systems in which the two stars were born at the same time. By comparing the spectral signatures of the stellar twins, they were able to identify instances in which one of the stars had ingested a planet. They identified 91 pairs of close ‘co-natal’ stars and found evidence of planetary ingestion in about 8% of them.

(11) HORSES FOR COURSES? HANDICAPPING THE ECLIPSE. Atlas Obscura tells how “Eclipse Maps Entered a Golden Age Thanks to Edmond Halley”.

In 1715, Edmond Halley published a map predicting the time and path of a coming solar eclipse. Today the astronomer is most famous for understanding the behavior of the comet now named for him, but in his lifetime he was a hotshot academic, elected to the Royal Society at age 22 and appointed the second Astronomer Royal in 1720. He was fascinated with the movements of celestial bodies, and he wanted to show the public that the coming event was not a portent of doom, but a natural wonder….

… With each eclipse to pass over the British Isles, publishers became more savvy about promoting the event to the public. In 1737, mathematician and astronomer George Smith published a predictive eclipse map in The Gentleman’s Magazine, which is thought to be the first eclipse map published in a popular publication (as opposed to as a stand-alone broadside). By 1764, wrote historian Alice N. Walters in a 1999 paper published in History of Science, “so many eclipse maps were on the market—each with a different prediction—that one commentator likened the competition between them and their producers to an event quite familiar to the English public: a horse race.”…

(12) A DAYTIME VISIBLE NOVA. Another predictable but even rarer celestial event is coming up soon: “Stellar explosion: What to know about T Coronae Borealis nova” at Yahoo!

…It’s not exactly new but there will be an extra star in the sky that will be visible to the naked eye in the coming months in Northern California. T Coronae Borealis is a binary star system comprised of a cool red giant and a hot white dwarf star 3,000 light years away. The smaller white dwarf has been stealing matter from the red giant and appears to be getting ready to emit a burst of energy which will make it visible for at least a few days. It is known as a recurring nova where matter, mostly hydrogen, is collected by the white dwarf until enough mass is reached, creating a fusion reaction. That will then emits a burst of energy, which includes visible light. This process has been going on for a long time and occurs about every 80 years in this system….

(13) AS THE WORM TURNS. And one more reason to keep watching the skies – “Here’s how to see the upcoming worm moon lunar eclipse”

A glowing worm moon will light up the sky on Monday with a celestial performance in store for people venturing out in the early morning hours — a penumbral lunar eclipse.

March’s full moon, referred to as the worm moon by the Farmers’ Almanac due to its proximity to the spring equinox, will be at its fullest at 3 a.m. ET.

A few hours earlier, starting at 12:53 a.m. ET, according to EarthSky, the moon will be almost perfectly aligned with the sun and Earth, causing the outer edge of Earth’s shadow, known as the penumbra, to be cast onto the glowing orb.

The greatest eclipse will be at 3:12 a.m. ET, when the moon will appear to be slightly darker than usual, said Dr. Shannon Schmoll, director of the Abrams Planetarium at Michigan State University….

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

Pixel Scroll 11/9 My Heart Says “Bang!”

(1) “It appears there’s a Northwesteros football team,” reports Tom Galloway. “Personally, I find this amusing given that when he was at Northwestern, George R.R. Martin was a mainstay of, not the football team, but the chess team (he’s written a story where the starting point is a real life match against the arch-rival UChicago team).”

GRRM at Northwestern COMP

(Photo posted by Northwestern Athletics.)

(2) The decision to stop using Lovecraft’s image on the World Fantasy Award was, needless to say, unpopular with many commenters on H.P. Lovecraft’s Facebook page.

(3) Nick Mamatas is running a poll asking “What should the New World Fantasy Award be?” – where participants get to choose among his own satirical answers.

(4) Sam Kriss explains, in “The Englishman and the Octopus”, why Spectre is really a Lovecraft story, not a Bond movie.

This film doesn’t exactly hide its place within Lovecraftian mythology. You really think that creature on the ring is just an octopus? Uniquely for a Bond film, it starts with an epigraph of sorts, the words ‘the dead are alive’ printed over a black screen – a not particularly subtle allusion to the famous lines from the Necronomicon: ‘That is not dead which can eternal lie/ And with strange aeons even death may die.’

(5) Houghton Mifflin Harcourt will launch a new SF/F book line edited by John Joseph Adams reports Locus Online.

The new list, called John Joseph Adams Books, will begin in February 2016 with print editions of three backlist Hugh Howey titles. Adams will serve as editor at large for the line. He began his association with HMH when he became series editor for the Best American Science Fiction & Fantasy series, launched this year.

(6) Buddy’s Antique Auction in Arab, Alabama might not be the first place you’d look to buy a genuine Lunar Rover — but it should be! That salvaged LRV recently in the news will be there for sale to the highest bidder on November 21 at Noon.

LRV_7We are proud to announce that we have been commissioned to sell at public auction this very special piece of historical value. This Lunar Rover or “Moon Buggy” as it is comonly called is a prototype from the mid 1960s. NASA engineers were studying ways for the astronauts to be mobile while on the moon. This buggy never went to the moon but has been authenticated by a retired NASA scientist and he believes Wernher Von Braun was photographed on this buggy. “Moon Buggies” were used on the moon and three are still there. This is definitely a piece of history some space enthusiast could lovingly bring back to its original glory….

This is a special auction and will be for the Moon Buggy. This will be the only item in this auction and will be held at 12:00 Noon at the Worley Brothers Antiques building.

More photos here.

(7) Sarah Chorn writes frequently about accessibility, and her latest post at Bookworm Blues is a status report in general about conventions’ support for special needs.

I saw a lot of praise this year about conventions that had sign language interpreters in attendance, and I thought, “Good. I’m glad that conventions are finally getting this accommodation, but what does it say about us that this is something to be praised rather than part of our normal convention going experience?”

That’s the thing that really irks me about this issue. Accommodation is still something to be praised rather than a normal thing. It’s an event rather than an occurrence. Furthermore, there are still times when there are problems and people get excluded or edged out due to these problems. The dialogue about this is still minimal in the genre. There is still almost no discussion about these problems until something happens and there is a small outcry.

(8) Roger Tener gave permission to reprint his account of Nancy Nutt’s memorial service from Chronicles of the Dawn Patrol.

Saturday [November 7] was the Memorial Service for Nancy Nutt.

David and Sherrie Moreno, Cathy, and I drove up to Kansas City It was an opportunity to spend time with friends to comfort each other and remember Nancy.

There was a couple of tables set up in a small room with pictures that Nancy had taken over the years. Nancy’s family told us to take any of the pictures we wanted.  There were several pictures of Fans and airplanes. More specifically airplanes that I had flown Fan gatherings.

During the service many us fans told various stories of Nancy that brought a smile. (Like Mickey Mouse committing suicide in the back 52 Tango while flying over Walt Disney World.)

After the service many of us gathered at Genghis Kahn for supper. After we ate we stood outside the restaurant and talked and talked and talked in the finest Fannish tradition.

We will miss you Nancy.

(9) Kameron Hurley, asked “Do Goodreads Ratings Correlate to Sales?”, answered affirmatively. (Her post is inspired by Mark Lawrence’s earlier “What do Goodreads ratings say about sales?”)

(10) Misty Massey says there are reasons for not “Breaking the Rules” at Magical Words.

And one more that’s happened recently (and been done by more than one person)  “If you’re new to us, send us a writing sample of the first five pages of your published work.” And instead, you send us a link to your website. Sure, that website may have oodles of your work on it, but you just showed us that you can’t follow simple instructions. Why would I believe I should work with you?

The point of all this is to make sure you guys who DO follow the rules and who DO read the guidelines carefully know that we on the other end of those guidelines appreciate the effort you take. We may not open our next letter to you with the words “I see that you followed our guidelines” but you can just bet that you’re even hearing from us because you did. And one other thing to remember…publishing is a tightly-knit business. If you behave in a jerkish manner, breaking rules and skipping guidelines for one editor, don’t be surprised when another editor seems uninterested in working with you.  Word gets around.

(11) Rachael Acks’ contribution to SF Signal’s MIND MELD: Must hear audio fiction, accidentally left out of the main article, appeared today.

I listen to a lot of audio books, because I’ll have them playing while I’m describing core, processing data, or driving. (And I tend to listen to them over and over again, since I will miss things sometimes.) The two authors whose audiobooks I own the most of are Lois McMaster Bujold and NK Jemisin. I’m not sure if that’s because their work lends itself particularly well to the format, or just because I love everything they write anyway. I actually didn’t own a written copy of any of Bujold’s books until this year, and reading it normally felt weird—so many things weren’t spelled the way I thought they would be. This also made reading The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms after I’d listened to it first a slightly odd experience.

(12) Jim C. Hines says it’s time for a “NaNoWriMo Pep Talk” about hitting the wall.

This is the time in Jim’s writing process where, like Charlie Brown kicking at that elusive football, I lose my footing and end up flat on my back, staring into the sky and wondering what the heck just happened.

My shiny new idea isn’t quite so shiny anymore. I’ve gotten lots of words down, but they don’t exactly match what I was imagining. And this next part of the outline doesn’t make any sense at all, now that I think about it more closely. Good grief, the Jim who was outlining this thing last month is an idiot. And now I have to fix his mess….

(13) Today’s Birthday Boy

  • Born November 9, 1934 – Carl Sagan

(14) Today In History

  • November 9, 1984Silent Night, Deadly Night premieres. To protest the film, critics Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel read the credits out loud on their television show saying, “Shame, shame, shame” after each name.

(15) Contrary to what some people may believe, John Scalzi’s cat Zeus does not require any more attention from the internet than he’s already getting.

One, he’s perfectly fine, merely not at the center of my public discussion of cats in the last week as he neither a) a kitten, b) a newly-passed on senior cat. You should be aware that Zeus has been perfectly fine not being the center of media attention in the last several days, as he is a cat and has not the slightest idea either that I write about my cats here, or that any of you have any idea who he is. But he is alive and well and doing what he does.

(16) “A Death Star Filled With Plastic Stormtroopers Is a Better Bucket of Army Men” opines Andrew Lizsewski at Toyland.

If there’s one toy that defines cheap and mass-produced, it’s those buckets full of tiny green plastic army men. They really stop being desirable once you turn six, except when those plastic soldiers are replaced with tiny white stormtroopers led by an equally tiny Darth Vader.

Star Wars army men

(17) Alastair Reynolds tells what it was like to be a huge fan of the original Star Wars at Approaching Pavonis Mons by balloon.

Through that summer, I collected complete sets of both the blue and red-bordered bubble-gum cards. In that autumn, as I started at The Big School (Pencoed Comprehensive, where I still help out with creative writing workshops) I got hold of George Lucas’s novel of the film. Yes, it was amazing, wasn’t it, that George Lucas had not only found time to make this film, but also scribble down a novelisation of it? It was only later that Alan Dean Foster was credited, but not on my edition. It was a shiny paperback with a yellow cover and a set of colour photos stitched into the middle. It was a holy relic, as far as I was concerned, and when I accidentally dented one of the corners, I felt as if my world had ended. I also got the 7″ disco-funk version of the Star Wars music:


Which was only the third record I’d ever bought, after the Jaws theme and Queen’s We Are The Champions.

(18) If Reynolds doesn’t know these 12 facts about Yoda already, he soon will.

When Stuart Freeborn, the make-up artist who was tasked with creating Yoda, looked into a mirror, he saw Yoda. No, it wasn’t a Disney magic mirror, but rather it was Freeborn’s own reflection that inspired Yoda’s final look.

When Freeborn modeled himself and started sculpting Yoda, he emphasized his bald scalp, wrinkles, and pointed chin in order to bring Yoda into the world. According to Freeborn, the only part of Yoda that wasn’t based on himself was the upper lip, in which he removed the famous mustache of Albert Einstein and ported it onto Yoda’s face. This move was meant by Freeborn to trigger a subconscious association in the audience with Einstein’s intelligence and wisdom, thus making Yoda appear intelligent before he even spoke a word of advice in his lovable, fractured English.

(19) Even before the internet you couldn’t believe everything you read as Matt Staggs proves in “Four Times Science Almost Flew Off The Rails: Bat Men On The Moon, Phantom Planets, Ghosts, and The Hollow Earth” at Suvudu.

2) When We Thought Bat People Lived On The Moon Ah, 19th century New York City: a place where the lanterns burned all night, Bill the Butcher and his gang of Know-Nothings spattered the streets with blood, and four-foot tall bat people looked down upon it all from their home on the moon. What, you don’t know about the flying lunar bat people? That’s because they were the invention of a master troll named Matthew Goodman, editor of the Sun newspaper.

(20) “Mariah Carey To Run LEGO Gotham City” says SciFi4Me:

Singer and actress Mariah Carey has joined the cast of The LEGO Batman Movie.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, she’ll voice the mayor of Gotham City. This report is contrary to a Deadline report that she would be playing Commissioner Gordon — which only works if she’s playing Commissioner Barbara Gordon from the animated Batman Beyond. Of course, that’s completely possible, too, given how the first LEGO Movie mashed up characters from all over the story multiverse….

The LEGO Batman Movie is scheduled for release on February 10, 2017,

(21) This just in – eight years ago.

Alrugo Entertainment, bring you: ITALIAN SPIDERMAN Unearthed for the first time in 40 years and lovingly restored at Alrugo Studios Milan, this rare theatrical trailer for the 1968 Italian classic ‘Italian Spiderman’ is a real treat. Featuring Franco Franchetti of ‘Mondo Sexo’ fame in his last ever role before being killed in a spear fishing accident in 1969. Alrugo entertainment will be releasing the FULL, remastered ITALIAN SPIDERMAN film on the web starting MAY 22. STAY TUNED

Italian Spiderman has its own Wikipedia article!

Italian Spiderman is an Australian film parody of Italian action–adventure films of the 60s and 70s, first released on YouTube in 2007. The parody purports to be a “lost Italian film” by Alrugo Entertainment, an Australian film-making collective formed by Dario Russo, Tait Wilson, David Ashby, Will Spartalis and Boris Repasky.

Ostensibly an Italian take on the comic book superhero Spider-Man, the film is a reference to foreign movies that misappropriate popular American superheroes such as the Turkish film “3 Dev Adam”, and licensed series such as the Japanese TV series “Spider-Man”, both of which alter the character of Spider-Man for foreign audiences. Other notable entries include the Indian version of Superman (1987), I fantastici tre supermen (3 Fantastic Supermen) (1967) and La Mujer Murcielago (The Batwoman) (1968).

(22) A Robot Chicken video, “The Nerd on The CW,” parodies Arrow and The Flash.

[Thanks to Mark-kitteh, DMS, Tom Galloway, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Peter J.]

Ebert Biopic

life_itself_igg_graphicLife Itself, a movie about film critic Roger Ebert, premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival and will be released in theaters July 4.

Work began on the documentary while Ebert was still alive. Its $1 million budget was supplemented with $150,000 raised via crowdfunding.

Many of his admirers in the film industry speak about him on camera:

Director Steve James (HOOP DREAMS) has conducted interviews with over two dozen people, including lifelong friends, professional colleagues, the first ever interview with Gene Siskel’s wife, and filmmakers Errol Morris, Werner Herzog, Ramin Bahrani, Gregory Nava, Ava DuVernay, and Martin Scorsese, who is one of the executive producers.

Life Itself shows Ebert’s development as a film critic, the iconic rivalry with Gene Siskel that made both household names, and his courageous persistence as a writer while suffering major health problems, including cancer surgery that rendered him incapable of speech.

There are no hints in the prerelease publicity that the film mentions Ebert’s background as a science fiction fan, let alone the names of any of his old friends in fanzine fandom. Perhaps we’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Ebert’s Favorite Pulps

A couple weeks before Rogert Ebert died he sent a box of books and magazines from his library to Andy Ihnatko, the witty computer columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times. Paging through a a stack of old pulps stirred Ihnatko to philosophize about how adulthood is shaped by childhood ideals. He shares these thoughts in an article on Rogerebert.com.

I flipped through the first issue in the stack, slowing down only enough to make sure I didn’t tear any of the pages away in my excitement. These were no “collectibles” — a somewhat contemptible word used to describe mint-graded comics and magazines that are never removed from their slabbed, sealed packaging. These pulps are clearly “reading copies”; they’re of negligible resale value because over the past seventy years, they’ve obviously been handled and read and re-read… and loved.

Ihnatko says Ebert’s run of pulp magazines stretches into the 1970s – the time of his life when he was already a working film critic.

Ihnatko’s imaginative and warm prose led me to search out his blog, Andy Ihnatko’s Celestial Waste of Bandwidth, which has a post about Roger Ebert’s memorial service and more insights about his friend:

A member of the community of film critics (I’m sorry that I didn’t note his name) explained something very important about Roger very well. Roger was a special person in any group he found himself in. But rather than do what politicians often do, which is to dumb down and put on phony airs,

(“aw, shucks, they maht call me ‘Senator Cole’ up thar in Warshington. But here with you’n’all, ah’m just yer pal Jesse. Incidentally, I call your attention to the scuffmarks on my Western-style boots, which you’ll readily recognize being consistent with one who ‘clears brush’ and…well, the word escapes me but my staff tells me it a kind of maintenance that the fences on a ranch periodically require.”)

…he would elevate everyone else, pointing out their aspects and achievements that made _them_ special as well. Every time Roger introduced me to a friend of his, I shook their hand thinking that this was one of the most incredible people I’d meet all year. Roger’s enthusiastic introductions were genuine. He was as excited as I was when I got to tell millions of people how awesome this new “iPhone” or “iPad” thingy was. He’d made this fantastic discovery and he wanted to share it.

[ Thanks to Bill Higgins for the story.]

Finish Ebert’s Story

ROUGH_-_Molecules_of_Titan_-_Mason_Under_the_Night_Sky SHRUNK
Chaz’s Blog at Rogerebert.com reveals that when Ebert was hospitalized his wife got him to start a short story.

One day in the hospital I suggested that he take a break from work-related writing and write something creative that made him feel like he did when he was writing science fiction articles for fanzines when he was a boy. He began writing “The Thinking Molecules of Titan”, a story about space exploration set in part at his beloved University of Illinois. 

He never finished the story. Maybe you can. Chaz has posted the 2,000-word fragment online and started a contest: Write your ending and send it in. She will post selected finalists and the site’s readers will vote for their favorite. Details here.

Ebert’s story begins —

The text message came as Mason was dipping fried lake perch into the tartar sauce. This was in the Capital, Campustown bar that offered a elementary but cheap menu, on the grounds — the owner McHugh once told him — that if someone left looking for food they might never come back. The message on Mason’s phone said, We have a pattern. He reflected that any pattern by definition would be untold years in age and would not change now that the Titan Listening Lab had recorded it. He finished his perch, his French fries and his canned creamed corn….

Roger Ebert (1942-2013)

Roger Ebert seated beside Walt Willis (lower right). Photo via Fanac.org.

Roger Ebert seated beside Walt Willis (lower right). Photo via Fanac.org.

Movie critic Roger Ebert died April 4, two days after announcing his cancer had returned and he would be stepping back from work as a reviewer. He was 70.

As lights are said to do, he burned brightest at the end, writing more reviews in the last twelve months than any other year of his career.

Ebert openly identified himself as a science fiction fan — especially if he had something negative to say about a science fiction film. Although in that context he was merely placing himself on a par with other aficionados of Lucas and Corman, his trufannish roots extended all the way back to the fanzine fandom of the 1950s.

Ebert was born in Urbana, Illinois in 1942. As a child, he wrote and published a hektographed neighborhood newspaper. After a couple of university students gave him a cardboard carton filled with old Astoundings he became an omnivorous reader of all the sf prozines. He even started doing proto-fanac, writing a letter to the editor of Imagination that ran in the December 1957 issue.

Through Amazing he discovered fanzines, sending 10 or 20 cents to the Coulsons for the latest Yandro. He met fans through the mail, and recalled those heady days in his fannish autobiography, “Thought Experiments: How Propeller-Heads, BNFs, Sercon Geeks, Newbies, Recovering GAFIAtors and Kids in the Basements Invested the World Wide Web, All Except for the Delivery System”

But for the years of their existence, what a brave new world fanzines created! There was a rough democracy at work; no one knew how old you were unless you told them, and locs made it clear that you either had it or you didn’t. First, of course, was the hurdle of getting your stuff accepted. When Lupoff or Coulson or Deckinger printed something by me, that was recognition of a kind that my world otherwise completely lacked.

He produced a fanzine of his own, Stymie, “cutting the ditto masters on an old L.C. Smith and paying an office supply company a few bucks to run it off for me.” How many issues of Stymie were there altogether? The Eaton Collection lists two, both from 1960.

The first fan Ebert met in person was Wilson Tucker He lived in Leland, a hamlet south of Bloomington, not far from Urbana.

Ebert also founded the Urbana High School Science Fiction Club –

We rented “Destination Moon” and showed it in the auditorium, we went to a speech on the campus by Clarke and got his autograph, and we made a tape recording of H.G. Wells’s War of the Worlds, complete with sound effects and a performance by my classmate Dave Stiers, who later became David Ogden Stiers of M*A*S*H.

As a university student, he belonged to ChUSFA, the Champaign-Urbana Science Fiction Association.

But Ebert became progressively more interested in journalism, working as a reporter and starting his own arts tabloid. Fanac took a back seat and he eventually gafiated — although not before a taking a couple of memorable trips to meet out-of-town fans.

In the summer of 1961, now a university student, he flew to Europe on a charter flight and visited Walt and Madeleine Willis at home in Belfast.

They invited me to tea–tomato sandwiches and Earl Grey–and took me around to meet James White, another of Belfast’s BNFs (Big Name Fans), whose prozine collection was carefully wrapped in brown parcel paper, year by year, and labeled (“F&SF 1957″). Fandom was a secret society and I had admission to friends everywhere who spoke the same arcane language.

The next year he visited South Africa. He stopped over in New York and had dinner with several fans, among them the Lupoffs (of Xero fame) and Ted White, who would later buy two stories from him for Fantastic – “After the Last Mass” and “In Dying Venice,” both published in 1972.

Ebert joined the Sun-Times part-time in 1966 while pursuing graduate study at the University of Chicago and got the reviewing job the following year.

His 1975 Pulitzer for distinguished criticism was first, and one of only three, given to a film reviewer since the category was created in 1970.

He often worked mentions of his Pulitzer into his writing, but also reminisced, “Today I can see my name on a full-page ad for a movie with disinterest, but what Harry Warner or Buck Coulson had to say about me–well, that was important.”

He provided the introduction for Richard Lupoff’s The Best of Xero, published in 2004.

As America’s best-known film reviewer, Ebert’s major health problems toward the end of his life were widely covered by the press. However, he denied being an inspiring figure. In a January 2011 e-mail to the Associated Press he wrote, “You play the cards you’re dealt. What’s your choice? I have no pain. I enjoy life, and why should I complain?”

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian for the story.]

A Blurb for ERB

Roger Ebert doesn’t find John Carter unentertaining, just paradoxical. However, it wasn’t so much Ebert’s opinion of the latest sci-fi epic that caught my eye but the reference in the lede:

I don’t see any way to begin a review of “John Carter” without referring to “Through Time and Space With Ferdinand Feghoot.” That was a series of little stories that appeared in the magazine Fantasy and Science Fiction from 1956 to 1973 and had a great influence on my development as a critic. In one of the Feghoot adventures, the hero finds himself on Mars and engaged in bloody swordplay. He is sliced in the leg. Then in the other leg. Then an arm is hacked off. “To hell with this,” Feghoot exclaims, unholstering his ray gun and vaporizing his enemies.

This Old Fanboy

Roger Ebert does not like Battle: Los Angeles:

The aliens are hilarious. Do they give Razzies for special effects? They seem to be animal/machine hybrids with automatic weapons growing from their arms, which must make it hard to change the baby. As the Marines use their combat knives to carve into the aliens, they find one layer after another of icky gelatinous pus-filled goo. Luckily, the other aliens are mostly seen in long shot, where they look like stick figures whipped up by apprentice animators.

In fact he reads it out of the sf genre, saying:

Here’s a science-fiction film that’s an insult to the words “science” and “fiction,” and the hyphen in between them.

And he knows whereof he speaks — about science, about fiction, and especially about the hyphen.  Here you see Ebert seated beside Walt Willis (lower right) in a photo from 1955 (via Fanac.org):

[Thanks to Michael J. Walsh for the link.]

Ebert Gives 3-D an F

Could any fan who lived through the 1950s fail to cherish the memory of theaters packed with people wearing those red-and-green 3-D glasses to watch It Came From Outer Space or House on Haunted Hill?

Whether or not Roger Ebert had warm, fuzzy feelings about 3-D in those days, he’s given readers of Newsweek a long list of reasons not to like it today in “Why I Hate 3-D.” My favorite is:

When you look at a 2-D movie, it’s already in 3-D as far as your mind is concerned. When you see Lawrence of Arabia growing from a speck as he rides toward you across the desert, are you thinking, “Look how slowly he grows against the horizon” or “I wish this were 3D?”

Our minds use the principle of perspective to provide the third dimension. Adding one artificially can make the illusion less convincing.