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.

Ebert Praises New Ice Age With Faint Damns

Rogert Ebert is a very fannish writer. Even when he admires a fantasy film his review consists of one grumpy nitpick after another.

Here is an example of the way he served out Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, while giving it just about the highest possible rating on his scale, ***1/2 stars out of 4:

All of our friends are back, and some new ones, including a ferocious T-Rex and a sexy rival for Scrat the squirrel, named Scrattè, accent grave over the è. As befits this land before time, Scrattand Scrattè are sabre-toothed squirrels. No wonder the big teeth died out. They’re of more use to a carnivore than a vegetarian. But logic like this is of no use in a movie where Sid the Sloth (voice by John Leguizamo) adopts three dinosaur eggs and plans to raise the babies.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter for the link.]