Pixel Scroll 5/13/22 Make Room Party, Make Room Party

(1) COME THE MILLENNIUM. This year marks 60 years of the iconic Spider-Man. Marvel Comics will celebrate this milestone anniversary with a special issue honoring the comic that started it all, Amazing Fantasy. Arriving in August, Amazing Fantasy #1000 will be a giant-sized one-shot brought together by some of the industry’s most acclaimed creators.

Here’s just some of what fans can expect from this landmark issue:

  • Visionary writer Neil Gaiman’s grand return to the Marvel Universe
  • Emmy Award winning creator behind “Veep” and “Avenue 5” Armando Ianucci’s Marvel Comics debut
  • Spider-Man mastermind Dan Slott and superstar artist Jim Cheung team up to explore the enduring love between Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson in a story set in the far future
  • Acclaimed artist Michael Cho and novelist Anthony Falcone introduce a new Spider-Man villain
  • Ho Che Anderson crafts a horror-fueled Spidey adventure that cuts to Peter Parker’s core
  • Plus stories by Rainbow Rowell, Jonathan Hickman, and many more!

 “It’s Spider-Man’s 60th and we wanted to celebrate in style by inviting some of the greatest creative minds in the world to celebrate it!” Editor Nick Lowe said.

Join the industry’s top talent in celebrating Spider-Man’s birthday when Amazing Fantasy #1000 arrives in August. 

(2) THE SKY IS FALLING. Chillercon, the Horror Writers Association’s UK event, announced a change of venue after the ballroom ceiling collapsed in their planned facility. The con will still take place in Scarborough from May 26-29.

The convention received news this week that there has been a ceiling collapse in the Cabaret Ballroom of the Grand Hotel, one of our main programming rooms in that hotel, and asbestos has been discovered. The room has been closed off and the hotel declared safe to run by the relevant authorities, but for the last forty-eight hours the convention committee has been working with both hotels towards the best solution for both the ability of ChillerCon UK to run effectively and for the safety of our attendees, as obviously we are keen to ensure there’s no risk to anyone attending.

To that end, we are pleased to confirm that all programming and accommodation has now been moved to the Royal Hotel with immediate effect….

(3) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites listeners to join John Appel for a dry-aged burger in Episode 171 of the Eating the Fantastic podcast.

John Appel

John’s debut novel Assassin’s Orbit, published last year, was a finalist for the 2022 Compton Crook Award. He’s a former US Army paratrooper, a long-time information security professional, a historical fencer, and a life-long gamer who’s written the occasional tabletop RPG adventure. He co-edited the anthology Skies of Wonder, Skies of Danger along with Mary Alexandra Agner. John’s also a graduate of the Viable Paradise workshop and a founding member of the Maryland Space Opera Collective writing group.

We met for lunch at the White Oak Tavern, which is in the Enchanted Forest Shopping Center in Ellicott City, Maryland, and if there was ever a proper place to record an episode of Eating the Fantastic, an Enchanted Forest certainly sounds like it.

We discussed how pitching his debut novel as “Battlestar Galactica meets Golden Girls” got him an agent, why his background in table-top RPGs might be the reason he writes novels rather than short stories, how he deals with the “candy bar” scenes of his plots, the way critique groups and sensitivity readers can help make books better, how to juggle multiple viewpoints and still have them all be equally compelling, the political aspects of his novel which make it a different read than it would have been when it was first begun, his particular set of skills which helped bring fight scenes alive, and much more.

(4) BARRIERS REMAIN. Nalo Hopkinson is profiled by Silvia Moreno-Garcia for the University of British Columbia publication Beyond: “As publishing becomes more varied and diverse, challenges remain for writers of colour”.

…Hopkinson believes universities can help enrich the literary landscape by embracing genre fiction, looking at alternatives that deviate from traditional forms of learning and helping students develop a sense of belonging. For example, the traditional workshop model, where students sit around a circle discussing their stories, may be of little value to a student if they are the only writer of colour in a class.

“I encounter a lot of emerging writers who come from a marginalized community who feel that they won’t be welcomed,” she explains.

Hopkinson believes something that helped her become a writer was “middle class entitlement.” She grew up in a place where Black people were in the majority, where her father was a teacher and her mother a librarian and literature seemed an obtainable pursuit.

“There’s a certain type of entitlement because of that. Not wealth, but entitlement,” she says. “That sense of I have a right to be here.”

The hardest lesson for Hopkinson to teach is this self-empowerment….

(5) THE MEMORY LIBRARIAN. “Janelle Monáe: ‘Erasure is happening right under our noses’” the singer and author tells Christiane Amanpour at CNN Style.

…As Monáe wrote on Instagram in December, they have always used sci-fi and Afro-Futurism as “vehicles” for translating ideas into music, art and now literature. But the singer told Amanpour that they believe memory and history are under threat in today’s America.

“I think that there is definitely an agenda for erasure,” Monáe said, pointing to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signing the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which bans LGBTQ+ topics in elementary school classrooms, and Texas Governor Greg Abbott signing legislation that restricts how race and US history is taught in the state’s schools.

“These are real experiences for our ancestors, real experiences for us,” Monáe said. “And erasure is happening right underneath our noses. And it’s being done through lawmaking.”…

(6) VIDEO GAMES. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times behind a paywall, Tom Faber discusses TV adaptations of games.

What film directors seem to miss while adapting games for cinema is that games do not resolve around stories we are told but worlds we inhabit. They need to ask what it means for this story to be watched rather than played, and how it might have to change accordingly. In that respect, TV may prove a more natural fit. The length of a series creates space for the spreading storytelling style of games and their myriad characters. This breathing room should also allow showrunners to capitalise on the abundant lore and environmental detail of modern games, which assist in the trendy pursuit of ‘world building.’

Two TV shows that offer hope for the future are both animations. Castlevania, a vampire story based on a series of hit 1990s games, has become a surprise hit on Netflix since launching in 2017.  It is sharply written with mature themes and thoughtful plotting and paved the way for last year’s Arcane. Another Netflix show, Arcane digs into the origin stories of two heroes from the online battle arena game League Of Legends using striking animation that blends hand-painted textures with 3D graphics. Unlike other adaptations, Arcane forgoes fussy plot exposition in favor of character-driven drama and plays loosely with its source material, focusing on the complex relationship between two women and including action only where it meaningfully impacts the narrative.

(7) STURGEON SYMPOSIUM. The Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction is hosting the first annual Sturgeon Symposium on September 29-30 at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, KS. Here’s the call for papers. They are accepting proposals until June 30.

(8) TIME TRAVEL AND SEX. Nibedita Sen is interviewed by Sarah Gailey in “First Times” at Stone Soup.

First Times is structured unlike anything I’ve read before, using recursion in the narrative to expand and deepen the theme of the story. What inspired you to work in this particular structure? How did you approach storytelling in this medium?

A couple of things, actually – the most important of which is that this was my very first time (hah) writing interactive fiction. As such, I really wanted to keep the game as short and simple as possible, having been warned how easily the simplest-seeming idea can balloon once you actually get down to writing multiple branches of a narrative. Another piece of advice I was given, as a first time IF-writer, was to think about replayability – a game shouldn’t be a one-and-done (hah) kind of thing, but something a reader could go back to multiple times, discovering something new every time….

(9) FRED WARD (1942-2022). Actor Fred Ward has passed on at the age of 79. Detective Harry Philip Lovecraft in Cast a Deadly Spell, Earl Bassett in Tremors and sequels, and the lead in Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins. He was also in The Crow: Salvation, Invasion Earth (miniseries), had parts in episodes of The Incredible Hulk and The Hitchhiker. The New York Times tribute here comments:

…Mr. Ward was likely best known for his performances in “The Right Stuff,” the acclaimed 1983 adaptation of a book by Tom Wolfe, and “Tremors,” a monster movie that ascended to cult classic status since its release in 1990.

But his long career included a broad range of roles in which he applied a sometimes gruff but almost always grounded charisma to parts on film and TV: among other parts, a union activist in “Silkwood,” a detective in “Miami Blues,” Henry Miller in “Henry and June,” and a motorcycle racer in “Timerider: The Adventures of Lyle Swann.”…

(10) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1994 [By Cat Eldridge.] Twenty-eight years ago, The Crow premiered. I saw it at the theatre and yes, I liked it quite a bit. I’m not a horror fan but I found this quite impressive.  I hadn’t realized until now that it was co-written by John Shirley along with David J. Schow but I’ll get back to that in awhile. 

It was directed by Alex Proyas who would later be nominated for a Hugo at Aussiecon Three (1999) for Dark City. (The Truman Show won that year.) And he’d also later direct I, Robot.

The Crow was produced by Jeff Most, Edward R. Pressman and Grant Hill. Most would produce the sequels, The Crow: City of AngelsThe Crow: Salvation and The Crow: Wicked Prayer. Pressman was the uncredited executive producer for Conan the Destroyer and Grant Hill was involved in the Matrix films plus V for Vendetta.

Of course the movie starred Brandon Lee, an actor who gave the film a certain tragic edge by dying. The other major roles were held by Ernie Hudson and Michael Wincott. Ernie you know, but Michael Wincott has largely played villains in such films as Alien Resurrection and The Three Musketeers (remember I hold them to be genre). 

So yes, it was written by John Shirley along with David J. Schow. Checking IMDB, I see Shirley has written far too many screenplays too list all of them here, so I’ll just note his work on Deep Space NineBatman Beyond and Poltergeist: The Legacy. Though definitely not genre, he also wrote one episode of the Red Shoe Dairies. Really he did.

The Crow did well at the box office making nearly a hundred million against twenty-four million in costs. 

So what did the critics think? Michael Wilmington of the Chicago Tribune had this to say: “What’s scary about The Crow is the story and the style itself: American Gothic, Poe-haunted nightmare, translated to the age of cyberpunk science fiction, revenge movies and outlaw rock ‘n’ roll, all set in a hideously decaying, crime-ridden urban hell.” And Caryn James of the New York Times said: “It is a dark, lurid revenge fantasy and not the breakthrough, star-making movie some people have claimed. But it is a genre film of a high order, stylish and smooth.”

It holds a most exemplary ninety percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. 

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born May 13, 1922 Bea Arthur. Really only one meaningful genre credit but oh but what a credit it is. She’s in the Star Wars Holiday Special as Ackmena. That character in the Star Wars canon was the nightshift bartender in Chalmun’s Cantina in Mos Eisley on Tatooine who joined the resistance. (Died 2009.)
  • Born May 13, 1937 Roger Zelazny. Where do I start? The Amber Chronicles are a favorite, as is the Isle of The Dead, To Die in Italbar, and well, there’s very there’s very little by him that I can’t pick him and enjoy for a night’s reading. To my knowledge there’s only one thing he recorded reading and that’s a book he said was one of his favorite works, A Night in the Lonesome October. No, I’ve not forgotten about his Hugos. Roger Zelazny would win his first Hugo for …And Call Me Conrad which would later be called This Immortal.  It would be the first of six Hugos that he would win and one of two for Best Novel, the other being for Lord of Light. His other four Hugos would be for the “Home Is the Hangman” novella, the “Unicorn Variation“ novelette, “24 Views of Mt. Fuji, by Hokusai” novella and “Permafrost” novelette. (Died 1995.)
  • Born May 13, 1946 Marv Wolfman, 76. He worked for Marvel Comics on The Tomb of Dracula series for which he and artist Gene Colan created Blade, and the Crisis on Infinite Earths series in which he temporarily untangled DC’s complicated history with George Pérez. And he worked with Pérez on the direct-to-DVD movie adaptation of the popular “Judas Contract” storyline from their tenure on Teen Titans. (I’m not going to list his IMDB credits here. Hell, he even wrote a Reboot episode!) 
  • Born May 13, 1949 Zoë Wanamaker, 73. She’s been Elle in amazing Raggedy Rawney which was a far better fantasy than Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone where she was Madame Hooch. And she was Cassandra in two Ninth Doctor stories,” The End of the World” and “New Earth”. 
  • Born May 13, 1951 Gregory Frost, 71. His retelling of The Tain is marvellous. Pair it with Ciaran Carson and China Miéville’s takes on the same legend taking an existing legend and remaking it through modern fiction writing. Fitcher’s Brides, his Bluebeard and Fitcher’s Bird fairy tales, is a fantastic novel though quite horrific.
  • Born May 13, 1964 Stephen Colbert, 58. Ubernerd who’s currently recovering from his third bout of Covid. He’s hosted charity showings of Tolkien. Genre credits a cameo as a spy in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, the voice of Paul Peterson in Mr. Peabody & Sherman and the voice of President Hathaway in Monsters vs. Aliens

(12) THE SLEEPER SYMBIOTE CLAIMS A NEW HOST IN VENOM #11. This cover reveal is really only the first phase of Sleeper Agent’s look. They are symbiotes, after all. Pick up his debut issue when Venom #11 arrives in August.

Writers Al Ewing and Ram V and artist Bryan Hitch’s acclaimed run on Venom continues to reshape the symbiote mythos in each explosive issue! And luckily for Venom fans, the trio of superstar creators have no plans to slow down as the ongoing series enters its’ third terrifying arc this August in Venom #11. Kicking off a three-part story called “VENOMWORLD”, readers will see Eddie and Dylan Brock’s journey take a sharp turn as they deal with the shocking revelations of Venom #10. Dylan is still at the mercy of Bedlam while Eddie battles his way across the cosmos, discovering more about the symbiotes than ever before. And the hits keep coming as the Sleeper symbiote joins the fray with a deadly new look… 

(13) LIVE TWEETING. Cat Rambo did the Writers Corner Live show, talking about The Reinvented Heart with Mary Elizabeth Jackson. 

(14) BEWARE SPOILERS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Doctor Strange 2 writer Michael Waldron, in a spoiler-packed article, discusses his screenplay and the Star Wars film he is working on for Kevin Feige. BEWARE SPOILERS! “’Doctor Strange 2′ Writer on Wanda, Mr. Fantastic, ‘Star Wars’ Movie” in Variety.

SPOILER ALERT: This story discusses major plot points in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, currently playing in theaters. Do not read until you’ve seen the movie.

As an alum of “Community” and “Rick and Morty,” screenwriter Michael Waldron certainly knows outré, genre-hopping science fiction; with “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” Waldron found a kindred spirit in director Sam Raimi, who invented outré, genre-hopping horror with his “Evil Dead” trilogy.

Together, Raimi and Waldron have made one of the most distinctive — and, for some, controversial — movies ever in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. To wit (the big spoilers start here): Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) goes full Scarlet Witch and brutally murders anyone who gets in the way of her mission to find a universe in which her sons from the 2021 Disney+ series “WandaVision” are still alive. It’s a heel turn that has shocked many — including Olsen — especially when Wanda decimates the Illuminati, the team of superheroes from an alternate reality that includes Patrick Stewart’s Charles Xavier (from 20th Century Fox’s “X-Men” movies), Anson Mount’s Black Bolt (from ABC’s “Inhumans” TV series), and John Krasinski’s Reed Richards, the first time the leader of the Fantastic Four has appeared in the MCU….

(15) IT WILL BECOME ROUTINE. “Huntsville International Airport becomes first commercial airport allowed to land a space vehicle” reports WAFF.

The Huntsville International Airport was approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to allow commercial space vehicles to land at the airport….

Sierra Nevada Corporation’s Dream Chaser is a space utility vehicle that is designed to transport crew and cargo to destinations such as the International Space Station.

Sierra Space was awarded six missions by NASA to resupply the International Space Station. The FAA could grant the Dream Chaser the option to land in Huntsville in 2023.

“This is a significant milestone for Huntsville International and for our community in the pursuit of landing a commercial space vehicle right here in Rocket City U.S.A.,” Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Port of Huntsville/Huntsville International Airport, Mark McDaniel, said in a statement. “That’s going to be an exciting day, not just for the Airport but also for the talented and dedicated partners in this effort.”

(16) EATING OUTSIDE THE BOX. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Washington Post, Marylou Tousignant says that May 11 was National Eat What You Want Day and recommended ten foods kids could try, including Japanese tuna eyeballs, Vietnamese coconut worms, and Marmite. “On Eat What You Want Day, try something new”.

… It’s easy to think of foods you love and want to eat. We decided to tinker with the idea and tell you about 10 unusual dishes from around the world that you may never have heard of. We’re calling it International Give It a Try Day….

She alerted me to all the damage Paddington caused in this commercial when he switched from marmalade to Marmite sandwiches! “Paddington Bear Marmite TV Commercial “.

[Thanks to Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Dan’l, Paul Weimer, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]

Pixel Scroll 4/27/22 It Was The Time Of The Pixel, In The Year Of Scroll One

(1) ZAGREB CON’S SPECIAL DEAL. Croatia’s SFeraKon 2022, taking place May 13-15, is offering free admission to Ukrainians taking temporary shelter in the country.

Given the current situation in Eastern Europe, we decided to invite Ukrainians who are currently in Croatia to SFeraKon without paying a registration fee.

Free SFeraKon 2022 attendance for citizens of Ukraine If you are a citizen of Ukraine who came to Croatia to find temporary shelter from war, and are interested in science, science fiction, fantasy, horror literature, films or series, or borderline geeky activities such as board or computer games, cosplay or stuff like that, we would love to help you drop your worries for at least one weekend: come to SFeraKon for free. We offer three days of programme, but more importantly, an opportunity for you to take part in a gathering with a lot of fun and friendly people who may share some of your interests. Unfortunately, we cannot offer any translation into Ukrainian language, but if you speak English, then you already have something in common with 90% of the population at SFeraKon. Even of you don’t speak English, Ukrainian and Croatian have some similarities so most likely you will be able to communicate with others with a moderate amount of good will and a bit of hand waving SFeraKon is taking place from 13th till 15th of May (Friday evening till Sunday evening) at the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing (If you are in Zagreb, simply look for FER). We will be glad to meet and hang out with you.

(2) AMERICAN WRITERS FESTIVAL. [Item by Steven H Silver.] The American Writers Festival, sponsored by the American Writers Museum, will take place on May 15 at the Chicago Cultural Center.  It will include a panel discussion moderated by Chicon 8 Special Guest Dr. Eve L. Ewing (“The Future of Black”), and a talk between Ewing and Ashley C. Ford, and a discussion between Chicon 7 Toastmaster John Scalzi and Michi Trota.

The inaugural American Writers Festival on May 15, 2022 in Chicago coincides with the American Writers Museum’s fifth anniversary. The free literary festival will be held at four stages inside the Chicago Cultural Center and one stage at the American Writers Museum, and feature more than 75 beloved contemporary authors, artists and playwrights. Participating writers will address their perspectives on many of today’s most timely and controversial topics including immigration, book censorship, racism and equality through themes within their literature.

As a special bonus, the AWM will waive museum admission fees on Sunday, May 15 and Monday, May 16 – AWM’s fifth anniversary – to encourage more people to experience the literary works of the greatest American writers.

Proof of vaccination and masks are required to enter the American Writers Museum and all event spaces at the Chicago Cultural Center.

(3) CHARITY STREAM. [Item by Ben Bird Person.] Twitch streamer Keffals will be having a charity stream to help Alabaman trans kids and their parents. Lilly Wachowski, Anthony Fantano, and Chelsea Manning are confirmed guests!

(4) AVATAR SEQUEL LEAVES DRYDOCK. Variety was there as “’Avatar 2′ Footage Debuts at Cinemacon”.

Avatar 2” is real, and it’s here — naysayers be damned.

After at least seven delays in the last eight years (the film was originally supposed to open in 2014), director James Cameron is finally ready to show audiences his otherworldly, underwater vision for “Avatar’s” long-awaited sequel. It’s newly titled as “Avatar: The Way of Water.”

Disney, which inherited the franchise after acquiring 20th Century Fox in 2019, unveiled new footage of the highly anticipated film at CinemaCon, the annual gathering of movie theater owners that’s currently unfolding at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.

CinemaCon attendees were given 3D glasses to watch the minutes-long trailer, which contained almost no dialogue. Instead, exhibitors were immersed into different regions across the dazzling world of Pandora through sweeping visuals of the planet’s crystal blue oceans and lakes. The footage also shows the local tribe of Na’vi interacting with various species resembling whales and pelicans, some of which flew through the screen and into audience member’s faces thanks to the three-dimensional technology.

(5) COME FROM AWAY. Sarah Gailey responded to the angst about Twitter’s future by encouraging writers and artists to use her comments to tell where to find their newsletters. Thread starts here.  

(6) KAREN GILLAN INTERVIEW. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] I heard this podcast that Leonard and Jessie Maltin did with Karen Gillan, which is the first time I’ve heard Gillan speak in her normal Scottish voice (she’s from Inverness). Much of Gillan’s work is genre-related, ever since she was Matt Smith’s companion for three seasons on Doctor Who, a part she enjoyed because the cast bonded as a family through nine months of shoots where they worked 11 days out of every 14. She talks about what it is like being behind a table at media conventions, where fans pepper her with really arcane trivia questions about her roles, most notably as Nebula in the MCU. (Fans, Leonard Maltin says, “are a wily lot.”)  But she also talks about promoting MCU films in giant press conferences where the stars have two goals:  Not saying anything about the movie and making sure that Tom Holland doesn’t blurt out spoilers.

Gillan is currently developing Conventional, based on a short film she wrote and starred in in 2018 about a horror film star who meets fans who dress as the serial killer in her movies.  The film is on YouTube and would be rated R if it had a rating.

(7) ESSAY: JACK KLUGMAN ON THE ORIGINAL TWILIGHT ZONE.

By Cat Eldridge: Only three individuals did four or more appearances on Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone and Jack Klugman was one of them. 

Let’s discuss his appearances. He was in “A Passage for Trumpet,” “A Game of Pool”, “Death Ship” and “In Praise of Pip”. 

In “A Passage for Trumpet” he’s Joey Crown, a hopeless NYC trumpeteeer with no money, no friends, and no job prospects due to being an alcoholic. He ends in Limbo talking to an Angel. 

Next he’s Jesse Cardiff in “A Game of Pool,” where we get told the story of the best pool player living and the best pool player dead. No points for guessing which he is. 

Now this episode was remade in the eighties Twilight Zone. That version featured Esai Morales as Jesse Cardiff and Maury Chaykin as Fats Brown. This version used the original alternate ending that Johnson intended for the original version. (Nope in keeping with the File 770 policy of not having spoilers if at possible, I’m not telling you what that ending was. After all it’s only been sixty years and some of you might not have seen it yet.) 

The next episode he’s in is definitely SF and based on a Richard Matheson short story with the same title, “Death Ship”. (It was first published in Fantastic Story Magazine, March 1953.) Matheson wrote sixteen episodes of The Twilight Zone including “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet”. Only Serling wrote more. In this episode, a spaceship crew discovers a wrecked replica of their ship with their own dead bodies inside. Klugman plays the Captain Paul Ross.

The model used in this episode of the hovering spaceship is that of a C-57D Cruiser, a leftover prop from Forbidden Planet. It would also be used in the episodes “The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street” and “Third from the Sun”. The crashed ship is a model created for this episode.

The final appearance by him is in “In Praise of Pip” where his role is Max Philips,  a crooked bookie, who after learning that his soldier son has suffered a mortal wound in the Vietnam War, apparently encounters a childhood version of his son.

The Twilight Zone streams on Paramount +. 

From “Death Ship”

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born April 27, 1894 Dashiell Hammett. Yes, I know he’s written some genre fiction but I’m interested this time in his mysteries. He wrote The Maltese Falcon which was turned into the film you remember and another film a decade earlier. And, of course, there are Nick and Nora Charles in The Thin Man series that got turned in a six film series. Now my favorite character by him is the Continental Op in Red Harvest and The Dain Curse. And let’s not forget the Secret Agent X-9 comic strip which artist Alex Raymond  of Flash Gordon fame illustrated. (Died 1961.)
  • Born April 27, 1899 Walter Lantz. Cartoonist, animator, producer and director who founded Walter Lantz Productions. He created the Woody Woodpecker and Chilly Willy characters among others. He received an Academy Award “for bringing joy and laughter to every part of the world through his unique animated motion pictures”. (Died 1994.)
  • Born April 27, 1901 Frank Belknap Long. John Hertz says that he should be singled out for the “To Follow Knowledge” novelette which John lovingly discuses here. Let me add that Long received the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement. (Died 1994.)
  • Born April 27, 1920 Doris Baumgardt. Well-known and loved fan, illustrator and writer under the name of Leslie Perri. She was a member of the Futurians, and a founding member of FAPA. She was also a member of the CPASF and the Science Fictioneers. She was one of five members of the Futurians allowed into the first World Science Fiction Convention by Sam Moskowitz  with the other four were Isaac Asimov, David Kyle, Jack Robinson and Richard Wilson. She wrote three pieces of short fiction that were published in the Forties and Fifties; she contributed artwork to fanzines. (Died 1970.)
  • Born April 27, 1962Rachel Caine. She had two series, the Weather Warden series which is most excellent and the superb Great Library series. I can’t speak to the Morganville Vampires series as I don’t really do vampires. She’s got a number of other series, far more than can detailed here. She won the Nebula Solstice Award last year, given for significant impact on speculative fiction. Ben Bova and Jarvis Bernard Sheffield also were given the Award that year. (Died 2020.)
  • Born April 27, 1963 Russell T. Davies, 59. Responsible for the 2005 revival of the BBC One of Doctor Who. A Whovian since the very beginning, he thinks “The Talons of Weng-Chiang” has the best dialogue in the entire series, an opinion I concur with. Of course he’s also responsible for Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures as well. (Need I note that the The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot was his idea?) Oh, and a few years back, he produced A Midsummer Night’s Dream. And that hardly covers everything that he’s done. Hugo nominations and awards? Oh yes. Starting at Nippon 2007, where he was nominated for Doctor Who’s “Army of Ghosts” and “Doomsday”, then at Anticipation both “Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead” and “Turn Left” were nominated. At Aussiecon 4, he finally won a Hugo for “The Water of Mars”. “The Next Doctor” and “Planet of the Dead” were also nominated.  And y’all know he’s the new Who showrunner. That should be interesting. 
  • Born April 27, 1986 Catherine Webb, 36. She’s writes under a number of names but I only know her under her Kate Griffin name where she wrote the extraordinary London set Matthew Swift series which one of the best urban fantasy series I ever read. Hugo worthy indeed. I’ve not read any of her fiction written as Claire North which is major other name, so if you have, do tell me how it is. As North, her book The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August won the Clarke Award and Campbell Memorial Award, and The Sudden Appearance of Hope won a World Fantasy Award. Now go read the Matthew Swift series! 
  • Born April 27, 1986 Jenna Coleman, 36. Clara Oswald, Companion to the Eleventh and Twelfth Doctors.  She remains the longest serving companion since the series was revived. Genre wise, she was also Connie in Captain America: The First Avenger, and did voice work on the animated reboot of Thunderbirds Are Go. And yes, she showed up in The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot which deserves to be annotated. 

(9) SAGA IS BACK. NPR’s Mallory Yu tells how “Radical pacifism and violence collide in the ‘Saga’ comic series”.

There’s a frog playing drums, an alien on guitar, and a humanoid creature with a television for a head on vocals on the cover of Saga‘s Issue 58.

It’s a collection of characters that’s par for the course for the award-winning science fiction epic, which pretty quickly amassed a legion of fans after its first issue in 2012. Then, in 2018, creators Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples announced their saga would be going on hiatus.

Their series returned this year, in February, and Vaughan was ready to get started.

“I can’t stop thinking about it,” he said. “I think most of my hiatus was really spent still focused on Saga and sort of plotting out the next several years of these character’s adventures.”

If you call running for your life while dangerous assassins shoot lasers at you “adventures.”…

(10) WHO – OR WHAT? – WILL EXPLORE SPACE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Jeff Foust reviews a new book that argues that we don’t need astronauts anymore and can just rely on unmanned missions. “The End of Astronauts” at The Space Review.

…For the last couple of decades, there has been a truce between advocates of robotic and human space exploration, with an acknowledgement that the two can and should work together: robots serving as precursors and assistants for later human missions. But in The End of Astronauts, Donald Goldsmith and Martin Rees—a veteran science writer and the UK’s Astronomer Royal, respectively—argue that exploration beyond Earth orbit should be left to robots, a case that is certainly controversial but not necessarily compelling.

…Of course, governments don’t send astronauts into space exclusively or even primarily to do exploration: it’s one rationale of several, like geopolitics and national prestige. Goldsmith and Rees appear to acknowledge this, expecting the US and China to land humans on the Moon in the next decade or so, with Mars missions possibly by the 2040s but perhaps later….

(11) HOW ANCIENT DNA HIT THE HEADLINES; [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] The origins, politics and motivations of the people who sequence age-old genomes dance with science fiction In tomorrow’s Nature….

In 1993, the day after the film Jurassic Park premiered in Washington DC, Nature reported the sequencing of DNA from a weevil encased in amber more than 120 million years ago. Then, in 2015, days before the global premiere of a sequel, Jurassic World, Nature Communications published evidence for the preservation of red blood cells and proteins in a 75-million-year-old dinosaur sample. Coincidence? The authors of the 1993 paper (R. J. Cano et al. Nature 363, 536–538; 1993) insisted it was, notes historian of science Elizabeth Jones. One of the co-authors of the 2015 paper https://www.nature.com/articles/ncomms8352.pdf (S. Bertazzo et al.Nature Commun. 6, 7352; 2015) told me theirs was, too: “100%”. These tantalizing parallels between life and art open Jones’s book Ancient DNA, a fun and thought-provoking introduction to the origins, politics and motivations of research into age-old genomes…

...Will the ancient-DNA big-hitters go back in time once more? The latest film in the franchise, Jurassic World Dominion, premieres in June; perhaps we’ll find out.

(12) THE GANG’S ALL HERE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Sam Neill, Laura Dern, and Jeff Goldblum chat with Vanity Fair about Jurassic Park and Jurassic World: Dominion, which they are all in, in this video that dropped today.

(13) ON THE HORIZON. Snopes.com expects “Musk’s Twitter Ambitions to Collide with Europe’s Tech Rules”.

A hands-off approach to moderating content at Elon Musk’s Twitter could clash with ambitious new laws in Europe meant to protect users from disinformation, hate speech and other harmful material.

Musk, who describes himself as a “free speech absolutist,” pledged to buy Twitter for $44 billion this week, with European Union officials and digital campaigners quick to say that any focus on free speech to the detriment of online safety would not fly after the 27-nation bloc solidified its status as a global leader in the effort to rein in the power of tech giants.

“If his approach will be ‘just stop moderating it,’ he will likely find himself in a lot of legal trouble in the EU,” said Jan Penfrat, senior policy adviser at digital rights group EDRi.

Musk will soon be confronted with Europe’s Digital Services Act, which will require big tech companies like Twitter, Google and Facebook parent Meta to police their platforms more strictly or face billions in fines….

(14) YOU’LL WANT TO RUSH TO YOUR NEAREST THEATER 45 YEARS AGO! “Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back Gets a Modern Trailer Makeover” and ScreenRant admires it greatly.

1980’s Star Wars: The Empire Strikes back gets a brand new, modern trailer that doesn’t give away any of the film’s surprises. As one of the true blockbusters, the release of 1977’s original Star Wars movie marked the beginning of one of the most influential franchises of all time. For its first sequel, creator George Lucas stepped back from directorial duties, handing off the role to his former film school professor Irvin Kirshner. With a story by Lucas and a script by Lawrence Kasdan, The Empire Strikes Back took a much darker tone than its predecessor and was all the better for it.

(15) FOR THEIR FANS. This trailer explains what happens when a character “has CGI surgery,” shows Chip and Dale going to cons, and hopefully will not have kids ask, “What are the Chippendale dancers?” Coming to Disney Plus in May!

(16) HONEST GAME TRAILER. In “Honest Game Trailers: Tunic,” Fandom Games says this game first asks “What if Zelda were a furry?” but then goes on to be a game where all the rules and plot mechanics are hidden, so the game “captures the feeling of being a lost child in Costco.” But as you repeat actions over and over, “It’s like having OCD–but the fun kind!”

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

Pixel Scroll 2/18/22 My Name Is Scroll, Pixel Scroll, Agent 770, With A License To File

(1) #METOO. On February 12, attorney and former Weller colleague Cara Dehnert published an essay detailing her previous relationship with Bradbury biographer Sam Weller. The piece alleges mental, emotional, and sexual abuse from Weller, including rape. “What Happened To Me. By: Cara Dehnert” at Medium.

(2) TRUTHS ABOUT TRAUMA. Sarah Gailey sets the bar “On Trauma-Informed Writing” at the SFWA Blog.

… “A difficult or unpleasant experience that changes a person in a lasting way” is a descriptor that applies to most stories. In spite of the promises of a recent literary movement that strives to elide unpleasantness in storytelling, it’s difficult to make a narrative compelling when characters aren’t changed as a result of struggle. Further, a story in which characters endure traumatic experiences without changing in response to them is a story that can cause immense harm.

Narratives help us to understand ourselves and the world around us, and stories that depict trauma as a temporary inconvenience reinforce the idea that ongoing trauma-responses are unusual, or even a sign of weakness. This real-world impact bears out in the way many people process—or are unable to process—their own real-life traumas. Many trauma survivors find themselves questioning why they’re unable to move on from traumatic events. They’ve consumed narratives in which scary things happen, but when the scary things are over . . . everyone stops being scared. So why shouldn’t the same be true in real life?

Treating a character’s trauma as though it can be resolved along with the plot is disingenuous. Treating a character’s trauma as though it must be resolved along with the plot is dangerous. Both are profoundly disrespectful to the story being told…. 

(3) FEDERAL PREEMPTION. Publishers Weekly explains why “Court Blocks Maryland’s Library E-book Law”.

In a rebuke to Maryland state legislators, a federal judge has granted the Association of American Publishers’ motion for a preliminary injunction, blocking Maryland officials from enforcing the state’s new library e-book law.

“It is clear the Maryland Act likely stands as an obstacle to the accomplishment of the purposes and objectives of the Copyright Act,” concluded federal judge Deborah L. Boardman, in a 28-page opinion. Although the judge noted that the Maryland Act only requires an ‘offer’ to license and does not ‘explicitly require’ publishers to grant licenses to libraries, “this is a distinction without a difference,” Boardman concluded (lifting directly from the AAP’s brief), holding that the threat of civil and criminal penalties for non-compliance amounts to “a forced transaction” that “effectively strips publishers of their exclusive right to distribute.”

In enjoining the law, Boardman found that the AAP cleared all four factors necessary to grant a preliminary injunction—a likelihood of success on the merits; irreparable harm; winning the balance of equities, and that the injunction was in the public interest. But while the court entertained—and largely accepted the AAP’s arguments on each factor—the court’s decision ultimately came down to one simple finding (which the AAP also argued): the Maryland law is fatally flawed because it is preempted by federal copyright law….

(4) POKEMON. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times behind a paywall, Tom Faber reviews Pokemon Legends;  Arceus.

The game “comes as something of a shock.  There is rarely a surprise in a mainline Pokemon game–if you’ve played one, you’ve played them all.  While The Pokemon Company has spun its IP into the highest-grossing media franchise of all time, encompassing movies, merchandise and trading cards, there has always been an uncomfortable tension in the video games:  that they are supposedly about the joy of adventure, yet have been proven remarkably unwilling to tread new ground for 25 years…

…Like Harry Potter and all the most successful franchises for younger children, Pokemon sells a dream, a world that children desperately want to be real.  As a kid I yearned to make life-long friends with magical creatures.  Arceus is not the Poikemon game I dreamt of, but it gets close.  Game Freak has swapped the series’ aging skeleton for a promising new set of bones, creating a Pokemon game that feels fresh for the first time in over a decade.  It achieved this by finally taking a leaf out of its own book–to make like a Pokemon and evolve.”

(5) IT MIGHT BE SFF. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Legendary Director Francis Ford Coppola has announced he will be dipping deep into his own pocket to fund a passion project: Megalopolis. Coppola wrote the script around 40 years ago (though one guesses there may have been revisions since). IMDb gives this succinct description,“An architect wants to rebuild New York City as a utopia following a devastating disaster.” GQ described it as, “A love story that is also a philosophical investigation of the nature of man.” Variety interviewed him about it: “Francis Ford Coppola to Spend His Own $120 Million on New Film: I Don’t Care ‘About the Financial Impact’”.

… Speaking to GQ magazine, Coppola said that major Hollywood executives reacted to his “Megalopolis” pitch the “same way they did when I had won five Oscars and was the hottest film director in town and walked in with ‘Apocalypse Now’ and said, ‘I’d like to make this next.’ I own ‘Apocalypse Now.’ Do you know why I own ‘Apocalypse Now?’ Because no one else wanted it.”

Coppola added, “So imagine, if that was the case when I was 33 or whatever the age and I had won every award and had broken every record and still absolutely no one wanted to join me, [then how do you think they’re reacting now?] I know that ‘Megalopolis,’ the more personal I make it, and the more like a dream in me that I do it, the harder it will be to finance.”

…When GQ asked if self-funding “Megalopolis” could mirror his experience on “One From the Heart,” a massive flop that Coppola spent years paying back the bank for, the director responded, “I couldn’t care less about the financial impact whatsoever. It means nothing to me.”

(6) BRENNER OBIT. Film editor David Brenner died February 18 at the age of 59 reports Variety. In 1990, Brenner won the Academy Award for film editing with director Oliver Stone’s Born on the Fourth of July, sharing the award with editor John Hutshing. His genre film credits include Independence Day (1996), What Dreams May Come (1998), The Day After Tomorrow  (2004), 2012 (2009), Pirates of the Carribean: On Stranger Tides (2011), Man of Steel (2013), Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016), Justice League (2017), and Zack Snyder’s Justice League (2021).

(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

2005 [Item by Cat Eldridge]  On this day in 2005, Constantine was released in the U.S. Based off DC’s Hellblazer series, it starred dark haired Keanu Reeves as the much blonder-haired John Constantine, a decision that of course drew much criticism. It was, to put it mildly, produced by committee. The screenplay by Kevin Brodbin and Frank Cappello off a story by Kevin Brodbin. 

Its impressive cast included Keanu Reeves, Rachel Weisz, Shia LaBeouf, Tilda Swinton, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Djimon Hounsou, Gavin Rossdale, and Peter Stormare. I really Tilda Swinton‘s role. 

Reception among critics was mostly negative with Roger Ebert saying Reeves that he “has a deliberately morose energy level in the movie, as befits one who has seen Hell, walks among half-demons, and is dying. He keeps on smoking.” The film made his most hated list. 

Box office wise, it made nearly a 25 million dollars off a budget that was maybe a hundred million dollars. The studio has declined to admit how much the production costs were. 

Over the years, its rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes has steadily climbed now standing at an excellent seventy-two percent. Huh. 

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born February 18, 1908 Angelo Rossitto. A dwarf actor and voice artist, with his first genre role being in 1929’s The Mysterious Island as an uncredited Underwater Creature. His last major role was as The Master in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. He showed up in GalaxinaThe Incredible HulkJason of Star Command, Bakshi’s Lord of The RingsAdult FairytalesClonesDracula v. Frankenstein and a lot more. (Died 1991.)
  • Born February 18, 1919 Jack Palance. His first SF film is H. G. Wells’ The Shape of Things to Come which bears little resemblance to that novel. (He plays Omus.) Next up he’s Voltan in Hawk the Slayer followed by being Xenos in two Gor films. (Oh the horror!) He played Carl Grissom in Burton’s Batman, and Travis in Solar Crisis along with being Mercy in Cyborg 2. ABC in the Sixties did The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in which he played the lead dual roles, and he had a nice turn as Louis Strago in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. which is worth seeing. (Died 2006.)
  • Born February 18, 1929 Len Deighton, 93. Author of possibly the most brilliant alternative novel in which Germany won the Second World War, SS-GB. It deals with the occupation of Britain. A BBC One series based off the novel was broadcast several years back.
  • Born February 18, 1968 Molly Ringwald, 54. One of her was first acting roles was Nikki in Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone. She’ll later have the lead role of Frannie Goldsmith in Stephen King’ The Stand series. And does the Riverdale series count at least as genre adjacent? If so, she’s got the recurring role of Mary Andrews there.

(9) COMICS SECTION.

(10) WILD CARDS COMICS. Paul Cornell and Mike Hawthorne retell the foundational Wild Cards stories in new comic series, Wild Cards: The Drawing Of Cards #1 coming June 1.

Based on stories by Harold Waldrop, Roger Zelazny and series master-mind and editor, George R.R. Martin, Wild Cards is a fascinating saga set in a whole new world reshaped by the emergence of superpowers. The limited series, titled The Drawing Of Cards, will be written by a team of comic superstars, writer Paul Cornell and artist Mike Hawthorne, and serve as a perfect entry point for Wild Cards newcomers and a must-have new reimagining for Wild Cards aficionados!

Spanning more than 25 novels, 20 short stories, and written by more than 40 authors over three decades, the Wild Cards series tells the story of an alternate history where Earth is home to super-powered individuals. When a human is infected with the alien “Wild Card” virus, the odds are that they will be killed… which is referred to as “drawing the black queen”. Of those that survive, the bulk of them become “jokers”, left with some strange mutated form. A lucky few are called “aces”, those gifted with super powers they can put to use towards heroic goals… or villainous ones….

“As my fans may already know, the Wild Cards World holds a special place in my heart, so to have the privilege of announcing that an industry titan like MARVEL is going to produce the narrative from the beginning as a comic book brings me no end of joy,” [George R.R. Martin] added.

(11) ONE DOES NOT SIMPLY WALK INTO MORDLE. [Item by Jennifer Hawthorne.] You know that word game, Wordle, that’s burning up Twitter?

Well, variants are popping up like mushrooms after a rainstorm, and someone came up with “Lordle of the Rings.”  It’s Wordle, but you can only use five letter words found in “The Lord of the Rings.”  (Mind you, given how long the books are, that covers a lot of ground.) Find it here: “Lordle of the Rings”.

(12) THE PRICE DOESN’T SUCK THAT MUCH. A “Scarce First Edition, First Issue of ‘Dracula’ by Bram Stoker from 1897” is being auctioned by Nate D. Sanders. The binding is a little banged up, but surely it’s a bargain at $22,500?

(13) NASA NEWS. SF is discussed in this interview with NASA’s chief economist: “Astronomy, sci-fi, and the roots of the space economy: My long-read Q&A with Alex MacDonald” at the American Enterprise Institute.

… In the Industrial Revolution, a lot of the technologies that allow you to think about space flight come online, the most obvious one being pressure vessels, the other relevant ones being, essentially, large armaments. It’s not a coincidence that when Jules Verne talks about the technology for traveling to the Moon in his very well-known book “From the Earth to the Moon,” he essentially has the protagonists being underemployed armaments makers in the United States after the Civil War, who had incredible capabilities for developing large cannons, and they thought they might put them to a different use, a type of swords-into-plowshares initiative in the United States in the 19th century.

This results in a real explosion of stories about traveling into space. Jules Verne’s “From the Earth to the Moon” is written in the 1860s, but also written in the 1860s is the story “The Brick Moon” by Massachusetts pastor and writer Edward Everett Hale. He writes the first story about living on a space station. He and his brother, while they’re students at Harvard, basically come up with a concept for what today we would call a GPS system. All of these things are in the culture and in the literature.

Perhaps the most striking combination of these two themes of science fiction and astronomy is the story of Percival Lowell. Percival Lowell builds a little observatory, at which, later in the 20th century, the planet Pluto is discovered. I should say the dwarf planet Pluto. He is motivated by this idea of canals on Mars, which had been essentially emerging as a culture topic because of a mistranslation of Giovanni Schiaparelli’s Italian word canale, by which he meant channels, and which gets translated into English as canals. But Lowell sees these things, and he writes these books like “Mars as the Abode of Life.” And all of these popular culture works that expound the idea of a purported hypothetical Martian civilization, which, of course, gives further energy to the space flight movement overall.

That intertwining of astronomy and space flight ambition really is there in the 19th century, and of course, it continues up to the present day. The James Webb Space Telescope, of course, is one of the most exciting projects of our time. I was fortunate enough to take off some time from work and actually go down to French Guiana to watch the launch, and it was an amazing moment….

(14) HUMAN RESOURCES. This Netflix series isn’t about an HR department, but about aliens assigned to deal with humans. Airs March 18.

Life on Earth is pretty complicated. That’s why people need them. Welcome to Human Resources.

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Apple, Inc. has turned their Signal Boost dial to 11 to promote a new Korean short film shot entirely on an Apple iPhone 13 Pro. Editing was done on Apple Macintosh computers. Director Park Chan-wook’s 21-minute fantasy Life is But a Dream—plus a short “making of” doc—are both available on YouTube. The soundtrack is available on Apple Music. 9to5mac has the story: “Apple shares film shot on iPhone 13 Pro by Park Chan-wook”.

An undertaker who needs woods to build a coffin for the savior of his village digs up an abandoned grave. But while doing so, he accidentally awakens the ghost of an ancient swordsman. Now the ghost tries to take back his coffin.

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

Pixel Scroll 11/26/21 Tinker, Tailor, Pixel, Scroll

(1) WILL YOU GIVE THANKS FOR COMIC-CON? Did you know San Diego Comic-Con Special Edition is happening this weekend? It was news to me, too. And tickets are still available. The Times of San Diego tells what this streamlined version will be like: “Virus-Safe, Stripped-Down Comic-Con Opens Friday After 2-Year COVID Hiatus”.

Superheroes won’t be the only ones wearing masks in downtown San Diego this weekend.

After a two-year absence, Comic-Con International returns to San Diego on Friday to entertain, inform and tantalize pop culture fans the world over.

But this won’t be the Comic-Con you remember. This is Comic-Con Special Edition, a stripped-down, three-day event being held over a holiday weekend to limit crowds during an ongoing pandemic that has forced online-only versions of the last two conventions.

Comic-Con organizers said they wanted to hold an in-person event but do it safely. So, that meant fewer days, smaller scope and a return to the intimate gathering that longtime attendees fondly remember.

And it means attendees will be asked to show proof of vaccination or recent negative COVID-19 tests. They will also have to wear masks or face coverings regardless of vaccination status….

(2) SQUID GAME CONSEQUENCES. “North Korean sentenced to death after students caught watching Squid Game” according to Radio Free Asia, a United States government-funded private non-profit news service.

North Korea has sentenced to death a man who smuggled and sold copies of the Netflix series “Squid Game” after authorities caught seven high school students watching the Korean-language global hit show, sources in the country told RFA.

The smuggler is said to have brought a copy of Squid Game into North Korea back from China and sold USB flash drives containing the series. Sources said his sentence would be carried out by firing squad.

A student who bought a drive received a life sentence, while six others who watched the show have been sentenced to five years hard labor, and teachers and school administrators have been fired and face banishment to work in remote mines or themselves, the sources said.

RFA reported last week that copies of the violent drama had arrived in the reclusive country despite the best efforts of authorities to keep out foreign media. They began spreading among the people on flash drives and SD cards.

… “This all started last week when a high school student secretly bought a USB flash drive containing the South Korean drama Squid Game and watched it with one of his best friends in class,” a source in law enforcement in North Hamgyong province told RFA’s Korean Service Monday.

“The friend told several other students, who became interested, and they shared the flash drive with them. They were caught by the censors in 109 Sangmu, who had received a tipoff,” said the source, referring to the government strike force that specializes in catching illegal video watchers, known officially as Surveillance Bureau Group 109.

The arrest of the seven students marks the first time that the government is applying the newly passed law on the “Elimination of Reactionary Thought and Culture,” in a case involving minors, according to the source….

(3) SMOFCON PROGRAM AVAILABLE TO MEMBERS. SMOFcon Europe (December 3-5 in Lisboa, Portugal) has announced their program schedule. They say one must be a member to access program — purchase memberships here.

We are thrilled to announce our programme schedule and workshop sign ups are now available on our website at https://www.smofconeurope.com/whats-on/programme/! The programme grid shows not only time zones but whether items are in person or streaming. Also on this page are the descriptions of our Workshops and links to sign up for them. Workshop space is limited and requires advance signup so don’t delay!

You’ll need to be a member to access programme, so if you still need one you can purchase your membership here: https://www.smofconeurope.com/membership/

(4) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites listeners to pig out on Peruvian with Lawrence M. Schoen in episode 159 of his Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Lawrence M. Schoen

Lawrence M. Schoen was a finalist for the 2007 Astounding Award for Best New Writer, and in the years since has been nominated for the Hugo Award (once), the Washington Science Fiction Association Small Press Award (twice), and the Nebula Award (six times). He’s twice won the Cóyotl award for Best Novel — for two books in his critically acclaimed Barsk series: The Elephants Graveyard (2015) and The Moons of Barsk (2018). He also was the 2016 winner of the Kevin O’Donnell Jr. Service to SFWA Award.

His most well-known creations are the space-faring stage hypnotist, the Amazing Conroy, and his alien animal traveling companion, a buffalito named Reggie who can eat anything — which he then converts into oxygen via … flatulence. For more than 10 years, he’s hosted the Eating Authors series, which has shared the most memorable meals of more than 500 writers. In addition to all that, he founded the Klingon Language Institute, plus is a hypnotherapist specializing in authors’ issues.

We discussed how he was able to release 12 books in a difficult year affected by both a pandemic and chemo, the pseudonym he was relieved he never had to use, what caused him to say “you find the answers to the problems of your life by writing a story about it,” the RPG improv which led to the creation of his Barsk universe, what he learned at the Taos Toolbox workshop which caused him to completely rewrite one of his books, the all-important power of the subconscious, how transcription software affected his style, why he doesn’t want people to read the final paragraph of his second Barsk novel, his relationships with the indie side of publishing, the many joys of mentoring, how he uses hypnotism to help other writers, and much more.

(5) JACKSON’S BEATLES DOCUMENTARY. I’m going to yank this item right out of the Scroll as soon as I confirm it has no genre connection. So far, all I’ve located in respect to genre is reporters mentioning that Peter Jackson previously directed Lord of the Rings before working on this Beatles documentary. For example, look at this San Diego Union-Tribune headline: “The Beatles meet ‘The Lord of the Rings’ in ‘Get Back’: ‘It’ll blow your mind,’ says director Peter Jackson”.

Just as The Beatles used their timeless songs in the 1960s to take millions of listeners across the universe on a magical musical mystery tour, Oscar-winning “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy director Peter Jackson has taken millions of viewers worldwide on a magical cinematic mystery tour in this century.

So what happens when these two worlds and creative forces intersect, 51 years after The Beatles acrimoniously split up in 1970?

“It’ll blow your mind!” said Jackson, a lifelong fan of the most famous and influential band in rock ‘n’ roll history.

And what happens when that unlikely intersection — which has resulted in Jackson’s engrossing new film documentary, “The Beatles: Get Back” — comprehensively chronicles the month of January 1969?

… Jackson culled “Get Back” from nearly 60 hours of previously unseen footage that was shot in January 1969 for director Michael Lindsay-Hogg’s briefly released and widely criticized “Let It Be” documentary.

Steven Colbert also had the director on The Late Show and made a point of saying this would be the only interview he ever did with Jackson that didn’t mention Lord of the Rings. Well, except to say he wasn’t mentioning it. “’We Shed Tears That Night’ – Peter Jackson And Stephen Wept Watching Footage Of The Beatles”. Yep, so this Scroll item might end up failing the Obligatory SF Reference requirement. Read fast.

In part one of this multi-part interview, Stephen welcomes Sir Peter Jackson and sets the stage for their in-depth discussion of Jackson’s work directing the incredible Disney+ documentary, “The Beatles: Get Back,” which is set to change the public’s perception of the relationship between John, Paul, George and Ringo in their final years as bandmates.

But wait! Steven H Silver says, “During the first episode of The Beatles Get Back, there is a section about 1:29 in where George is describing watching the Into the Unknown adaptation of Robert Sheckley’s Immortality, Inc on the BBC.” Okay, we’re covered!

(6) IMAGINE THAT. At Stone Soup, Sarah Gailey’s “Building Beyond” is an ongoing series of conversations about how much fun worldbuilding can be. In the latest installment — “Building Beyond: Unfathomable Depths” – Gailey is joined by Suzanne Walker, Hunter Ford, and Natalie Zina Walschots to play with the prompt  —

A deep sea diving expedition finds a long-abandoned dome.

(7) TO AFFORDABLY GO AND WATCH. [Item by Daniel Dern.] Amazon Prime Video is (currently) offering (to Amazon Prime members, in case that doesn’t go without saying) Paramount+ (Star Trek shows, etc) (and some other channels) for $0.99/month for up to two months.

(8) WILLIS AND HOPKINSON ON LOA LIVE. The Library of America’s “LOA Live” will have a video session about American Christmas Stories on December 15 featuring editor Connie Willis and novelist Nalo Hopkinson. It looks like registration to create an LOA account is required for the live Zoom event, however, afterwards the video will be posted to the Library of America’s YouTube channel.

Wednesday, December 15
6:00 pm ET
American Christmas Stories

Acclaimed bestselling SF and fantasy writer Connie Willis, editor of the just-released American Christmas Stories, joins LOA LIVE for a merrily unconventional yuletide conversation about the uniquely American literature inspired by this most magical time of the year. With Jamaican-born speculative novelist Nalo Hopkinson, who contributes a story to the collection, and historian Penne Restad (Christmas in America: A History.)
Registration link TK

(9) MEMORY LANE.

1865 — One hundred fifty-six years ago, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (commonly referred to as Alice in Wonderland) was first published by Macmillan in London. It was the first work of Lewis Carroll, the alias of pseudonym of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson. It had illustrations by John Tenniel. 

The text blocks of the first printed edition were removed from the binding and sold with Dodgson’s permission to the New York publishing house of D. Appleton & Company, after Tenniel objected to the quality of the illustrations. So this was actually the second printed edition. The entire print run sold out quickly. It has a sequel, Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There. It has been continuously in-print including writer Martin Gardner’s exemplary The Annotated Alice.

I count at least fifty video riffs off of it so far including of course Star Trek‘s “Shore Leave” with the white rabbit and Alice. A number of genre works have riffed off it as well including Otherland by Tad Williams, The Looking Glass Wars, and its sequel, Seeing Redd by Frank Beddor, Automated Alice by Jeff Noon and After Alice by Gregory Maguire.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 26, 1897 Naomi Mary Margaret Mitchison, Baroness Mitchison, CBE (née Haldane). Author of many historical novels with genre trappings such as The Corn King and the Spring Queen and The Bull Calves but also new wave SF such as Memoirs of a Spacewoman, pure fantasy Graeme and the Dragon and an Arthurian novel in Chapel Perilous. (Died 1999.)
  • Born November 26, 1910 Cyril Cusack. Fireman Captain Beatty on the classic version of Fahrenheit 451. He’s Mr. Charrington, the shopkeeper in Nineteen Eighty-four, and several roles on Tales of the Unexpected rounds out his genre acting. Well, and what looks like an absolutely awful Tam-Lin… (Died 1993.)
  • Born November 26, 1919 Frederik Pohl. Writer, editor, and fan who was active for more seventy-five years from his first published work, the 1937 poem “Elegy to a Dead Satellite: Luna” to his final novel All the Lives He Led. That he was great and that he was honored for being great is beyond doubt — If I’m counting correctly, he won three Hugos and three Nebula Awards for his fiction, three Hugos as Best Professional Editor, and one as Best Fan Writer (2010). His 1979 novel Jem, Pohl won a U.S. National Book Award in the one-off category Science Fiction. SWFA made him its 12th recipient of the Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award in 1993  and he was inducted by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame in 1998. Ok setting aside Awards which are frelling impressive, there’s the matter of him editing Astonishing StoriesGalaxy Science Fiction and Galaxy Science Fiction UKIfStar Science Fiction Magazine (which I’ve never heard of), Super Science Stories which were a companion to Astonishing Stories and well let’s just say the list goes on. I’m sure I’ve not listed something that y’all like here. As writer, he was amazing. My favorite was the Heechee series though I confess some novels were far better than others. Gateway won the Hugo Award for Best Novel, the 1978 Locus Award for Best Novel, the 1977 Nebula Award for Best Novel, and the two John W. Campbell Memorial Awards for Best Science Fiction Novel. Very impressive. Man Plus I think is phenomenal, the sequel less so. Your opinion of course will no doubt vary. The Space Merchants co-written with Cyril M. Kornbluth in 1952 is, I think, damn fun. He wrote a lot of short fiction, some I think brilliant and some not but that was true of most SF writers of the time. (Died 2013.)
  • Born November 26, 1936 Shusei Nagaoka. Artist and Illustrator from Japan who is best known for his music album cover art in the 1970s and 1980s. He designed covers for many of Earth, Wind and Fire’s albums, and many of his covers were very distinctively SFFnal; especially notable are Out of the Blue by Electric Light Orchestra, and When We Rock, We Rock, and When We Roll, We Roll by Deep Purple. His art also graced numerous genre books, including Tepper’s After Long Silence, Attanasio’s The Last Legends of Earth, and Reed’s Down the Bright Way. He helped to design the 1970 Osaka World’s Fair Expo, and had one of the first artworks launched into outer space and attained orbit, via the Russian Mir Space Station, in 1991. He won a Seiun Award for Best Artist in 1982. (Died 2015.)
  • Born November 26, 1945 Daniel Davis, 76. I’m singling him out for Birthday Honors for his two excellent appearances as Professor Moriarty on Next Gen. He has one-offs on MacGyver, Gotham and Elementary. He played The Judge in The Prestige film. He also voiced several characters on the animated Men in Black series. 
  • Born November 26, 1949 Victoria Poyser-Lisi, 72. Artist, Illustrator, Teacher, and Fan who was inspired at the 1979 World Fantasy Convention to become a genre artist. She did more than a hundred covers and interior illustrations for fanzines, magazines, and books, and won two Best Fan Artist Hugos, one at Denvention Two and the next at Chicon IV. She now works in collaborative children’s book illustration and instructional painting books, and teaches drawing and painting courses in Colorado.
  • Born November 26, 1961 Steve Macdonald, 60. A fan and longtime pro filker ever since he first went to a filk con in 1992. In 2001, he went on a “WorlDream” tour, attending every filk con in the world held that year. He’s now resident in Germany where he moved to marry fellow filker Kerstin (Katy) Droge. He was inducted into the Filk Hall of Fame in 2006.
  • Born November 26, 1988 Ben Bird Person, 33. A Filer who writes “silly” Wikipedia articles and commissions art of his cat Snow. As DoctorWho042 is in the top 2000 on the list of Wikipedians by number of edits
  • Born November 26, 1988 Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson, 33. He played Gregor “The Mountain” Clegane on the Game of Thrones for five seasons. That’s it for his genre acting, but he co-founded Icelandic Mountain Vodka whose primary product is a seven-time distilled Icelandic vodka. Surely something Filers can appreciate! At the first Philadelphia Ren Faire he appeared as King Thor, the leader of a Viking raiding party.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • Heathcliff – Is this Asimov’s next law of robotics?
  • xkcd confronts the challenge bookstores face in sorting fiction from nonfiction.

(12) BEWARE SPOILERS. And I mean it this time! BEWARE SPOILERS. Vanity Fair’s “Ghostbusters: Afterlife—The Day Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, and Ernie Hudson Reunited” is one big spoiler about the actors’ return as Venkman, Stantz, and Zeddemore, and how they handled the loss of Harold Ramis and Egon Spengler. NO EXCERPT!!

(13) OCTOTHORPE. John Coxon, Alison Scott, and guest Marguerite Smith are live from Novacon 50! We discuss DisCon III, Glasgow in 2024, and Dublin in 2029 before diving into actual science fiction and live letters of comment. Listen here: “A Fistful of Dongles”.

Below, Sue Mason illustrates guest Marguerite Smith and not-a-guest Meg MacDonald from the Glasgow in 2024 bid.

(14) OPEN SESAME. Street Gang, an HBO original documentary about the most impactful children’s program in television history, Sesame Street, premieres December 13 on HBO Max.

(15) USE YOUR IMAGINATION. “Santas are in short supply, which leads to intriguing alternatives” reports the Washington Post.

…“Across the board I’ve seen an uptick in number of requests, but once I’m full, I’m full,” says Doug Eberhardt, a Santa based in Charlotte. “I’ve got 92 gigs booked between now and Christmas.”

HireSanta, an agency for Santas and Mrs. Clauses, has been turning down requests for weeks.

“Hundreds of people a day have been reaching out to us,” founder Mitch Allen says. “We always sell out on weekends, but normally it’s after Thanksgiving.” This year, his Santas were all fully committed for every weekend by the first week of November.

Perhaps the shortage is an opportunity to rethink what makes a Santa “believable.” For most of the past century, that has meant a St. Nick who is chubby, white-bearded, old, and usually Caucasian. Maybe a gap in the marketplace will open up opportunities for Santas who don’t fit the mainstream mold: Black Santas. Deaf Santas. Spanish-speaking Santas. Connaghan is trying to develop a talent pipeline through an initiative called Santa Bootcamp, sponsored by Old Navy, which recruits Santas with diverse backgrounds. Because there are so few of these Santas — only 5 percent of Santas identify as non-White by industry estimates — they are even harder to find this year than usual, says HireSanta’s Allen….

(16) ALBUM BASED ON DARK STAR. Phenomenology is a concept album of sorts, the central protagonist Talby was the lead character of the 1974 cult sci-fi film Dark Star by John Carpenter and the album depicts a metaphorical journey into the unknown where one has no choice but to face one’s fears, a hero’s journey indeed.” — Phenomenology at Bandcamp.

(17) LOADED CHIPS. “First quantum computer to pack 100 qubits enters crowded race”Nature has the story.

But IBM’s latest quantum chip and its competitors face a long path towards making the machines useful.

IBM’s newest quantum-computing chip, revealed on 15 November, established a milestone of sorts: it packs in 127 quantum bits (qubits), making it the first such device to reach 3 digits. But the achievement is only one step in an aggressive agenda boosted by billions of dollars in investments across the industry.

The ‘Eagle’ chip is a step towards IBM’s goal of creating a 433-qubit quantum processor next year, followed by one with 1,121 qubits, named Condor, by 2023. Such targets echo those that for decades the electronics industry has set itself for miniaturizing silicon chips, says Jerry Chow, head of IBM’s experimental quantum-computing group.

(18) HOW HARD CAN IT BE? Nature discusses “How to make macroscale non-crystalline diamonds”. A diamond shatters easily, despite it being the hardest natural material. Atomically disordered forms of diamond made from buckyballs might not only overcome this problem, but also allow other properties to be optimized.

The brilliant facets of diamonds have entranced people throughout history and are a result of the ordered atomic structure of these gemstones. But this order comes at a cost: it makes diamonds fragile. In contrast to quartz and many other crystalline materials that produce atomically disordered forms, a disordered — and potentially less fragile — form of diamond has not been available. Writing in Nature, Shang et al. and Tang et al. report how to produce atomically disordered diamond-like materials with millimetre-scale dimensions, constituting a breakthrough for materials science.

(19) THREESCORE AND TEN. Phil Nichols’ talk “Ray Bradbury’s The Illustrated Man at Seventy”, given during ArtsFest Online, can now be viewed on YouTube.

Ray Bradbury’s book The Illustrated Man – a short story collection very loosely woven together with a fantastical framing narrative – is now seventy years old, and yet it remains a greatly influential work. Dealing with ideas around virtual reality, civil rights, the end of the world, and body art, it has managed to sustain a resonance through to the twenty-first century, despite its 1950s trappings. Individual stories from the collection have been adapted for film, television, radio and stage on multiple occasions, confirming Bradbury’s position as one of the most significant writers of science fiction even as the author tried to escape from the “ghetto” of genre fiction. In this illustrated talk, Dr Phil Nichols will show how Bradbury’s short-story collection both defines and confines the author.

[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Steven French, Dann, Daniel Dern, Steven H Silver, John Coxon, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jon Meltzer.]

Pixel Scroll 11/3/21 The Pixel: No Different File

(1) OSFCI ANNOUNCEMENT. OryCon, the annual Portland, OR convention, is returning from a year away due to the pandemic.  However, after this year’s event is held on November 12-14, the con will be going on another hiatus for an indefinite period. Thread starts here.

(2) DISCON III PRESSER. Video of yesterday’s DisCon III media briefing with chair Mary Robinette Kowal and vice-chairs Marguerite Smith and Lauren Raye Snow has been posted to Facebook.com.  

(3) AN AMERICAN ORIGINAL. “America’s first vampire was Black and revolutionary – it’s time to remember him” urges The Conversation’s Sam George.

In April of 1819, a London periodical, the New Monthly Magazine, published The Vampyre: A Tale by Lord Byron. Notice of its publication quickly appeared in papers in the United States.

Byron was at the time enjoying remarkable popularity and this new tale, supposedly by the famous poet, caused a sensation as did its reprintings in Boston’s Atheneum (15 June) and Baltimore’s Robinson’s Magazine (26 June).

The Vampyre did away with the East European peasant vampire of old. It took this monster out of the forests, gave him an aristocratic lineage and placed him into the drawing rooms of Romantic-era England. It was the first sustained fictional treatment of the vampire and completely recast the folklore and mythology on which it drew.

By July, Byron’s denial of authorship was being reported and by August the true author was discovered, John Polidori.

In the meantime, an American response, The Black Vampyre: A Legend of St. Domingo, by one Uriah Derick D’Arcy, appeared. D’Arcy explicitly parodies The Vampyre and even suggests that Lord Ruthven, Polidori’s British vampire aristocrat, had his origins in the Carribean. A later reprinting in 1845 attributed The Black Vampyre to a Robert C Sands; however, many believe the author was more likely a Richard Varick Dey (1801–1837), a near anagram of the named author.

What is so remarkable about this story is that it is an anti-slavery narrative from the early 1800s which also contains America’s first vampire who is Black…. 

(4) CORA’S NEW FANCAST Q&A. Cora Buhlert has another Fancast Spotlight up today since the replies seem to be coming in all at once. The latest is a Foundation podcast called Seldon Crisis“Fancast Spotlight: Seldon Crisis.

Why did you decide to start your podcast or channel?

I read the full Foundation series for the first time last summer during lockdown. I had read the trilogy in my youth but had forgotten most of it and it was pure joy to re-read it. I had that common feeling after reading a great work of literature of wanting to share it with others, and decided the easiest way to share it with the world was in podcast form. I had no knowledge of the AppleTV series until after I’d written the first several scripts.

(5) ANATHEMA’S FUNDING APPEAL. Anathema: Spec From the Margins, a semiprozine featuring SFF by people from marginalized backgrounds, is looking for funding for its year six: Anathema: Spec from the Margins Year Six” at Indiegogo.

Anathema is an Ignyte Award-nominated online tri-annual magazine of speculative fiction (SF/F/H, the weird, slipstream, fabulism, and more). We exclusively publish the work of people of colour (POC)/Indigenous/Aboriginal creators on every range of the LGBTQIA spectrum….

…We’ve had the chance to be a home to stories that have a hard time getting picked up elsewhere – some for being too unusual, others too nakedly queer, others just not fitting the expected mold a primarily white publishing establishment wants from QBIPOC creators. Anathema, by intent, occupies a radical socialist queer space in the larger genre conversation. And in so doing we walk in the footsteps of giants, our own path fleeting and hope that the work we do can leave some lasting mark. But that takes funds. And we are not yet a self-sustaining entity. We earn some revenue through our website store, but most of our operating funds come from informal subscription drives and more formalized fundraising campaigns like this one….

(6) S&S KICKSTARTER. Tales from the Magician’s Skull, a magazine publishing good modern sword and sorcery, is also running a Kickstarter for its next issues. They have already passed their goal, Cora Buhlert calls them “A good magazine that deserves to be better known” — “More Tales From The Magician’s Skull by Goodman Games” at Kickstarter. No wonder they’re raking in the money – look at this special incentive if you pledge at the highest level.

(7) ORIGINAL EQUIPMENT. “A Beloved William Shatner Star Trek Prop Is Selling For Half A Million Dollars”GiantFreakinRobot has the story. (Click for larger image.)

In the vast world of Star Trek lore, there are plenty of iconic pieces to collect. From communicators and uniforms, phasers and tribbles, and even blaster rifles, the Star Trek fandom puts significant meaning to collectible items, some of which can be difficult to come by. Now, eager Trekkie collectors can gush over the recently announced auction of the one-of-a-kind phaser used by Captain James T. Kirk in his pilot episode. The rifle is being sold by a private collector with Heritage Auctions in Dallas, Texas; and it can be yours for just half a million dollars (no energy credits accepted).

The phaser rifle made its Star Trek appearance during the original series second pilot episode, Where No Man Has Gone Before…. 

Get your bid down on this item here at Heritage Auctions.

(8) A FACE TO MEET THE FACES. For this installment of Building Beyond, “Mask On, Mask Off”, the premise is: “Over the course of every person’s life, they grow a mask.”

Sarah Gailey is joined by Greg Kasavin and Nome to develop worlds around this idea.

(9) MEMORY LANE.

1976 – Forty-five years ago, one of the better pieces of horror got released in Carrie. It was based on the Stephen King novel of the same name, and it was directed by Brian de Palma being his first hit. Lawrence D. Cohen wrote this screenplay as he would the third version thirty seven years later. It had a stellar cast of Sissy Spacek, Amy Irving, William Katt, Nancy Allen. and John Travolta. 

Like most horror films of the time and particularly King films, it had a truly minuscule budget of under two million dollars which is why it was a box office success when it made just thirty four million. 

So what did the critics think of it? One and all they loved it madly with Roger Ebert saying that it was an “absolutely spellbinding horror movie” and Pauline Kael calling it the “best scary-funny movie since Jaws”. 

Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give it a rather scary seventy-seven percent rating. As I noted above, there are three more films made off the novel, one in 2002 and one in 2013. Neither, not surprisingly to me, fares particularly well at Rotten Tomatoes. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 3, 1929 Neal Barrett, Jr. He was nominated for a Hugo at Noreascon 3 for his “Ginny Sweethips’ Flying Circus” short story. He was Toastmaster at LoneStarCon 2.  He was prolific writing over two dozen novels and some fifty pieces of short fiction including a novelization of the first Dredd film. As good as much of his genre work was, I think his finest, best over the top work was the Wiley Moss series which led off with Pink Vodka Blues. He’s generously available at usual suspects. (Died 2015.)
  • Born November 3, 1933 Jeremy Brett. Still my favorite Holmes of all time. He played him in four Granada TV series from 1984 to 1994 in a total of 41 episodes. One source said he was cast as Bond at one point, but turned the part down, feeling that playing 007 would harm his career. Lazenby was cast instead. (Died 1995.)
  • Born November 3, 1942 Martin Cruz Smith, 79. Best remembered for Gorky Park, the Russian political thriller, but he’s also done a number of  genre novels in The Indians Won (alternate history), Gypsy in Amber and Canto for a Gypsy (PI with psychic powers) and two wonderful pulpish novels, The Inca Death Squad and Code Name: Werewolf
  • Born November 3, 1952 Eileen Wilks, 69. Her principal genre series is the World of Lupi, a FBI procedural intertwined with shapeshifters, dragons and the multiverse. Highly entertaining, sometimes considered romance novels though I don’t consider them so. The audiobooks are amazing as well! 
  • Born November 3, 1953 Kate Capshaw, 68. Best known as Willie Scott in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (which I’ll confess I’ve watched but a few times unlike the first film which I’ve watched way too much), and she was in Dreamscape as well. She retired from acting several decades ago.
  • Born November 3, 1960 Kevin Murphy, 61. American actor and writer best known as the voice and puppeteer of Tom Servo on the Mystery Science Theater 3000. He also does RiffTrax which are humorous audio commentary tracks intended to be played along with various television programs and films. 
  • Born November 3, 1963 Brian Henson, 58. Can we all agree that The Happytime Murders should never have been done? Thought so. Wash it out of your consciousness with Muppet Treasure Island or perhaps The Muppet Christmas Carol. Or Muppets from Space. If you want something darker, he was a puppeteer on The Witches, and the chief puppeteer on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. And he voices Hoggle in Labyrinth.
  • Born November 3, 1977 Belén Fabra, 44. Here for her recurring role in the Spanish-language SF series El ministerio del tiempo (The Department Of Time). She also appeared as Captain Sanchez in Origin, a YouTube SF series that lasted but one season. 

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) ICON OF RACISM. Witness History’s episode “The enduring legend of Fu Manchu” is available for the coming year at BBC Sounds.

The evil criminal mastermind Fu Manchu was a recurring character in Hollywood films for decades. He epitomised racist stereotypes about China and the Chinese which shaped popular thinking in the West. Vincent Dowd has been talking to writer Sir Christopher Frayling and academic Amy Matthewson about his long-lasting influence.

(13) MOVE OVER PLUTO. Galactic Journey’s Jessica Holmes covers the latest (in 1966) episode of Doctor Who: “[November 2, 1966] An Ending? (Doctor Who: The Tenth Planet)”. Notice how in this future there is still a ninth planet!

EPISODE ONE

The Doctor arrives at the Antarctic base of International Space Command in the year 1986. The men inside (and yes, even in 1986 it seems rocket science is a bit of a boys’ club) take notice of the new arrivals, but there’s no time to worry about them. The latest launch has run into trouble, reporting the sudden appearance of a new planet in the sky. Worse still, their ship is losing power….

(14) THE FIFTY-EIGHTH VARIETY. “’Christmas dinner in a can’ promises answer to supermarket shortages” the Guardian reported, but since Heinz only made 500 cans of Christmas Dinner Big Soup this year it’s already sold out, so how was that supposed to work?

If you’re still amused by the idea, see the Heinz web page for the product, which also offered an optional gift box for it.

(15) LOWERING YOUR RESISTANCE. One of the major comic book websites takes readers on a tour of the Borg Cube Advent Calendar mentioned in a recent Scroll: “Star Trek: A Closer Look at the Borg Cube Advent Calendar From Hero Collector”.

Hero Collector sent ComicBook.com one of these advent calendars to take a closer and share our impressions of it with our readers.

We’ve taken a few photos of the product and opened up a few of the gifts to give you an idea of what is inside. Don’t worry. We only opened the first four, so we’re not putting out spoilers for anyone’s holiday fun. You can take a look at what we found in the photos included below….

(16) NEWS TO ME. I hadn’t previously heard of Philip K. Dick’s novel Humpty Dumpty In Oakland til I saw the first edition being offered by L.W. Currey.

Set in San Francisco in the late 1950s, Humpty Dumpty in Oakland is a tragicomedy of misunderstandings among used car dealers and real-estate salesmen: the small-time, struggling individuals for whom Philip K. Dick always reserved his greatest sympathy.

It is one of Dick’s realistic fiction novels, and was published posthumously. Many reviewers say they find the way he tells this story has a lot in common with his science fiction.

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Game Trailers: Metroid Dread is the latest version of a Nintendo character so ancient she has ’80s shoulder pads.  But don’t call the new game Metroidmania, the narrator warns, “or I will personally come to your house and slap you!”

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John Lorentz, Chris Barkley, Daniel Dern, Lise Andreasen, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]

Pixel Scroll 9/22/21 Or I Will Scroll Thee In The Gobberfiles With My Pixelcruncheon, See If I Don’t!

(1) WORKING FOR THE MAN EVERY NIGHT AND DAY. Yesterday’s Scroll picked up The Mary Sue’s report that “Marvel Fired Joe Bennett After Alleged Anti-Semitic Cartoons”. Today Bounding Into Comics reports Bennett is now working for Vox Day’s Arkhaven Comics: “After Being Blacklisted By Marvel Comics, Joe Bennett Joins Arkhaven Comics”. That obviously wasn’t a hard decision for Bennett.

…In a press release, Arkhaven Comics notes they “did not hesitate to take advantage of Bennett’s unexpected availability, and promptly signed the former DC and Marvel illustrator as its lead artist on two series being written by legendary comics writer Chuck Dixon.”

Not only was Bennett the artist for Immortal Hulk, but his resume also includes Savage Hawkman, Deathstroke, and Arrow Season 2.5 among others at DC Comics. 

…Dixon, who has also been subject to a Marvel Comics blacklist since 2002, welcomed Bennett to Arkhaven Comics stating, “It’s a sign of where the American comic industry is at the moment that they would let a powerhouse talent like Joe Bennett go because his personal politics are not in line with their own.”

“I’m looking forward to working with Joe on both of the projects we have in motion at Arkhaven,” he added….

(2) BARBARIAN AT THE GATES. Funcom has purchased the Cabinet Group, which currently holds the trademarks to Conan and most other Robert E. Howard characters. This mainly affects comics and videogames, since there apparently are no movies, TV shows or new books in the works, although they say a game is in development. “Funcom Acquires Full Control of Conan the Barbarian and Dozens of Other IPs”.

…Funcom CEO Rui Casais said he has high ambitions for the IPs and noted at least one unannounced project is already in development. 

“We are currently overseeing the development of an unannounced game which will combine many of the characters in the Robert E. Howard universe,” said Casais. “And if you combine Funcom’s knowledge of games with Heroic Signatures’ knowledge of the TV/entertainment, publishing, and licensing industries, it makes us perfectly placed to take this venture to the next level. It’s exciting times ahead for us and for fans of the IPs.”… 

(3) BES&ST, Lavie Tidhar and Silvia Moreno-Garcia offer an overview of the best sword and sorcery fiction past and present at the Washington Post“Let’s talk about the best sword and sorcery books”.

Lavie: I love the original “Witcher” stories by Andrzej Sapkowski, collected in English as “The Last Wish” in 2007 and translated by Danusia Stok. They were originally published in the Polish magazine Nowa Fantastyka. I got to read “The Last Wish” in proof before it even came out, but I don’t know that anyone then expected it would become as big as it did. For a time, it was nearly titled “The Hexer” but, hexer or witcher, Sapkowski’s Geralt of Rivia is a worthy successor to its earlier influences….

(4) HE CALLED IT. Goodman Games has a post on Fritz Leiber and Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser by James Maliszewski: “Fritz Leiber, H.P. Lovecraft, and the Origin of Sword-and-Sorcery Stories”.

In the May 1961 issue of the fantasy fanzine Amra, future stalwart of Appendix N, Michael Moorcock, wrote a letter to the editor in which he proposed the term “epic fantasy” for the literary genre pioneered by Robert E. Howard in his stories of Conan the Cimmerian. In the July issue of that same year, however, Fritz Leiber offered another term in reply, writing, “I feel more certain than ever that this field should be called the sword-and-sorcery story.” Leiber elaborates a bit on his coinage, adding that this term “accurately describes the points of culture-level and supernatural element,” as well as being useful in distinguishing these stories from other popular pulp genres….

(5) WHAT BELONGS IN THAT BOX? Also at Goodman Games, — now that we have a name for these stories, how do we define sword and sorcery? Brian Murphy discusses the problem in “Sifting Through a Sword-and-Sorcery Definition”.

…But, in the same essay Moorcock began refining these broad parameters, focusing on a subset of fantasy stories “which could hardly be classified as SF, and they are stories of high adventure, generally featuring a central hero very easy to identify oneself with …. tales told for the tale’s sake… rooted in legendry, classic romance, mythology, folklore, and dubious ancient works of “History.” These were quest stories, Moorcock added, in which the hero is thwarted by villains but against all odds does what the reader expects of him….

(6) RACISM IN S&S. This isn’t new, but Charles R. Saunders’ famous essay “Die, Black Dog, Die” about the latent and not so latent racism in sword and sorcery and fantasy in general from the 1970s is available again online here: “Revisiting ‘Die, Black Dog!’” at Reindeer Motel. (It’s posted as a single image file, so no excerpt here.)

(7) BACKSTAGE TO THE FUTURE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster, Designated Financial Times Reader.] In the Financial Times, Sarah Hemming reviews Back To The Future: The Musical, which recently opened in London.  Roger Bart, who played Frankenstein in Young Frankenstein, plays Doc.

“As in the film, restless teenager Marty McFly escapes his humdrum home life by hanging out with doc and ends up taking the wheel of the DeLorean for an early voyage.  But he gets more than he bargains for when that voyage lands him back in 1955 and in the hugely awkward position of meeting his teenage mum–who promptly develops a crush on him.  Gale’s script gleefully replicates the film (with a few wise excisions, such as the Libyan terrorists), while relishing the irony that from 2021, 1985 looks like old hat and that, for many in the audience, the whole show is an exercise in nostalgia–coupled with curiosity to see time travel on stage…

…A mix of pastiche and sincerity characterises the show.  The songs (Alan Silvestri and Glen Ballard) channel the periods–such as a peppy Fifties number in praise of gasoline and DDT–and there’s a nice streak of self-mockery.”

The website for the show is Back to the Future the Musical.

(8) SUPER-OVERRATED. James Davis Nicoll has decided there are “Five Superpowers That Just Aren’t As Fun as They Sound”.

Who among us has not dreamed of having superpowers? We are urged thereto by the avalanche of comics, movies, novels, and roleplaying games featuring abilities beyond mortal ken. Yet not all superpowers are created equal. Some superpowers require secondary superpowers to survive.  Other abilities have disquieting consequences for their possessors.

I’m not going to talk about superhumans with powers that would kill them or their friends if exercised. No one dreams of being any of the following:

  • X-Bomb Betty (can self-detonate, producing a 150 million megaton explosion (once))
  • Hazmat (lethal radioactive aura)
  • Absorbing Man (can duplicate the properties of materials he touches; see footnote)

I’m talking, here, about powers that appear on their surface to be useful but later reveal themselves to be harmful to, or at least extremely alienating for, those who wield them. Below are my musings about five such examples…

(9) NOW, THE NEWS. Also, James Davis Nicoll recommends this comedy sketch on Tik-Tok as an interpretation of “the Canadian election seen through the lens of the Matrix”.

(10) GIANT PEACH OF A DEAL. Netflix now owns the rights to Roald Dahl’s stories. Roundup at Adweek: “Netflix Acquires Roald Dahl Story Company, Plans Extensive Universe”.

The U.S. streaming giant announced Wednesday it has bought the Roald Dahl Story Company, which manages the rights to the British novelist’s characters and stories. It comes three years after Netflix signed a deal to create a slate of new animated productions based on the works of Dahl. (CNBC)

Under the previous deal, Taika Waititi is working on Roald Dahl animated series projects for Netflix, covering Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and its sequel, Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator. That’s in addition to two different versions of Matilda, including a film version of Matilda the Musical and an animated series, plus plans to make a BFG cartoon. (The Verge)

(11) 1001, A FACE ODYSSEY. “What About the Heroine’s Journey?” asks the New York Times in its review of Maria Tatar’s The Heroine With 1,001 Faces.

…[Joseph] Campbell’s ideas have rippled out in the culture for decades — especially after a popular series hosted by Bill Moyers in 1988 — but he has long demanded a feminist response. It would be hard to conjure up a more suitable person to provide one than Maria Tatar, the Harvard professor who is one of the world’s leading scholars on folklore.

Her new book, “The Heroine With 1,001 Faces,” out this month from Liveright, is an answer to Campbell, though she is careful not to frame it as an assault. “Even though my title suggests that I’m writing a counternarrative, or maybe an attack on him, I think of it as more of a sequel,” Tatar said in a video interview from her home in Cambridge, Mass.

She is stirring what J.R.R. Tolkien once called the “cauldron of story” in search of the girls and women, some silenced and some forgotten, some from the Iliad and some from Netflix, who live in Campbell’s blind spot. The reader jumps from Arachne’s battle with Athena to the escape of Bluebeard’s trickster wife to Pippi Longstocking and Nancy Drew and even to Carrie Bradshaw typing away on her laptop.

(12) LIGHTEN UP. Sarah Gailey is joined by Sophie Lee Mae and Jaxton Kimble to play with this new writing prompt in “Building Beyond: That’s Just Super” at Stone Soup:

Exposure to fluorescent lights gives people a 98% chance of developing a superpower under conditions of duress.

(13) J. RANDOLPH COX (1936-2021). Randy Cox died in a nursing home on September 14 reports Mysteryfile.com. Cox edited The Dime Novel Round-Up for over 20 year. He wrote several books including Man of Magic & Mystery: A Guide to the Work of Walter B. Gibson, about the man who created The Shadow; Flashgun Casey: Crime Photographer, co-authored with David S. Siegel, about the character originally created for Black Mask by George Harmon Coxe; Masters of Mystery and Detective Fiction: An Annotated Bibliography;  and The Dime Novel Companion: A Source Book. He received the Munsey Award at PulpFest in 2014.

(14) MEMORY LANE.

  • 1964 – Fifty-seven years ago on NBC, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. premiered. It was created by Sam Rolfe who was responsible for Have Gun, Will Travel and Norman Felton who directed All My Children, the first daytime soap which debuted in the Forties. It starred Robert Vaughn, David McCallum and Leo G. Carroll. It would last four seasons of one hundred and five episodes, most in color. Harlan Ellison scripted two episodes, “The Sort of Do-It-Yourself Dreadful Affair” and “The Pieces of Fate Affair.” A reunion film, Return of the Man from U.N.C.L.E. with the subtitle of The Fifteen Years Later Affair with Vaughn and McCallum reprising their roles with Patrick Macnee replacing Leo G. Carroll, who had died, as the head of U.N.C.L.E. There was a film reboot recently that was very well received. 

(15) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 22, 1917 — Samuel A. Peeples. Memory Alpha says that he’s the person that gave Roddenberry the catch phrase he used to sell Star Trek to the network: “[As] fellow writer Harlan Ellison has credited him with the creation of one of the most famous catch phrases in Star Trek lore, “[Gene Roddenberry] got ‘Wagon Train to the stars’ from Sam Peeples. That’s what Gene said to me. They were at dinner and Sam Peeples, of course, was a fount of ideas, and Gene said something or other about wanting to do a space show and Sam said, ‘Yeah? Why don’t you do Wagon Train to the stars?’” (Died 1997.)
  • Born September 22, 1952 — Paul Kincaid, 69. A British science fiction critic. He stepped down as chairman of the Arthur C. Clarke Award in April 2006 after twenty years. He is the co-editor with Andrew M. Butler of The Arthur C. Clarke Award: A Critical Anthology. He’s also written A Very British Genre: A Short History of British Fantasy and Science Fiction and What It Is We Do When We Read Science Fiction. His latest publication is The Unstable Realities of Christopher Priest.
  • Born September 22, 1954 — Shari Belafonte, 67. Daughter of Harry Belafonte, I first spotted her on Beyond Reality, a Canadian series that showed up when I was living in upstate Vermont. You most likely saw her as Elizabeth Trent in Babylon 5: Thirdspace as that’s her most well known genre performance. 
  • Born September 22, 1957 — Jerry Oltion, 64. His Nebula Award winning Abandon in Place novella is the beginning of the Cheap Hyperdrive sequence, a really fun Space Opera undertaking. Abandon in Place was nominated for a Hugo at LoneStarCon 2 (2013). The Astronaut from Wyoming was nominated for a Hugo at Chicon 2000. 
  • Born September 22, 1971 — Elizabeth Bear, 50. First, let’s all wish her a speedy recovery from her cancer surgery which was this week. Her first sff series was a superb trilogy, which might be considered cyberpunk, centered on a character named Jenny Casey. She’s a very prolific writer; I’m fond of her Promethean AgeNew Amsterdam and Karen Memory series. She won an Astounding Award for Best New Writer, a Hugo Award for Best Short Story for “Tideline”, and a Hugo for Best Novelette for “Shoggoths in Bloom”. One of only five writers to win multiple Hugo Awards for fiction after winning the Astounding Award! Very impressive indeed! It is worth noting that she was one of the regular panelists on now sadly defunct podcast SF Squeecast, which won the 2012 and 2013 Hugo Awards for “Best Fancast”. (CE)
  • Born September 22, 1981 — Maria Ashley Eckstein, 40. She’s voice of Ahsoka Tano on Star Wars: The Clone WarsStar Wars Rebels, and Star Wars Forces of Destiny. She even has a voice only cameo as Ashoka in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. And she voiced the character in the audiobook of E. K. Johnston’s Star Wars: Ahsoka.
  • Born September 22, 1982 — Billie Piper, 39. Best remembered as the companion of the Ninth and Tenth Doctors, she also played the dual roles Brona Croft and Lily Frankenstein in Penny Dreadful. She played Veronica Beatrice “Sally” Lockhart in the BBC adaptation of Philip Pullman’s The Ruby in the Smoke and The Shadow in The North.
  • Born September 22, 1985 — Tatiana Maslany, 36. Best known for her superb versatility in playing more than a dozen different clones in the Orphan Black which won a Hugo for Dramatic Presentation (Short Form) at the  73rd World Science Fiction Convention for its “By Means Which Have Never Yet Been Tried“ episode. She received a Best Actress Emmy and more than two dozen other nominations and awards. She’ll be playing Jennifer Walters / She-Hulk in the upcoming Marvel She-Hulk series.

(16) SHARP POINTY TEETH. Of course it’s a vampire movie. Was there ever any doubt? Night Teeth coming to Netflix on October 20.

(17) IT CANNOT BE DENIED. From a book review in today’s New York Times:

“(Turid is among those names, like Shakespeare’s Titus, for which it is crucial, when spelling, not to omit the second vowel.)”

(18) DANGEROUS HISTORY. A genre study titled Dangerous Visions and New Worlds: Radical Science Fiction, 1950 to 1985 edited by Andrew Nette and Iain McIntyre is available for pre-order from PM Press.

…It starts with progressive authors who rose to prominence in the conservative 1950s, challenging the so-called Golden Age of science fiction and its linear narratives of technological breakthroughs and space-conquering male heroes. The book then moves through the 1960s, when writers, including those in what has been termed the New Wave, shattered existing writing conventions and incorporated contemporary themes such as modern mass media culture, corporate control, growing state surveillance, the Vietnam War, and rising currents of counterculture, ecological awareness, feminism, sexual liberation, and Black Power. The 1970s, when the genre reflected the end of various dreams of the long Sixties and the faltering of the postwar boom, is also explored along with the first half of the 1980s, which gave rise to new subgenres, such as cyberpunk.

Dangerous Visions and New Worlds contains over twenty chapters written by contemporary authors and critics, and hundreds of full-color cover images, including thirteen thematically organised cover selections. New perspectives on key novels and authors, such as Octavia Butler, Ursula K. Le Guin, Philip K. Dick, Harlan Ellison, John Wyndham, Samuel Delany, J.G. Ballard, John Brunner, Judith Merril, Barry Malzberg, Joanna Russ, and many others are presented alongside excavations of topics, works, and writers who have been largely forgotten or undeservedly ignored.

Here’s a sample page that was posted to the book’s Kickstarter site:

(19) THE QUICK SAND AND THE DEAD. Juliette Kayyem remembers a hazard much on the minds of young TV viewers back in the day:

Her tweet inspired E. Gruberman to round up a zillion YouTube links to relevant scenes from old shows of TV heroes up to their hips in quicksand.

(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Transformers:  Age of Extinction Pitch Meeting” on Screen Rant, Ryan George says in the fourth Transformers movie, Sam Witwicky disappears without an explanation because Shia LeBouef didn’t want to be in Transformer movies anymore. The writer explains that the Transformers are powered by “transformium,” “which can change into any product placement we want.” but the third act will be “our usual visual mess” but will feature “guns, boobs, America, victory.”

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

Pixel Scroll 9/8/21 HR Pixeling Stuff! Whose Your File When Things Get Rough

(1) ABOUT TIME. At Young People Read Old SFF, James Davis Nicoll has one he’s sure the panel will like. Can that actually happen?

This month, the Old Hugo Finalist the Young People read was Samuel R. Delany’s “Time Considered as a Helix of Semi-Precious Stones”, which was first published in New Worlds, #185 December 1968. Despite my track record of guessing wrong about what older SFF will appeal to younger people, I am pretty confident about this one. Not only did “Time” win both the Nebula and the Hugo in its category, but Delany’s fiction is objectively popular. The Bantam edition of Delany’s crowd-pleasing Dhalgren, for example, went through 19 editions and sold over a million copies. Success in this matter is therefore utterly assured…. 

(2) WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW. “Edgar Allan Poe Needs a Friend” – and apparently found one – as explained by Matthew Redmond at Lapham’s Quarterly.

Type “Edgar Allan Poe” into your preferred image search engine, brace for impact, and press Enter. Instantly you hit a wall of chalk-white faces, each conveying a mixture of despair, dyspepsia, grief, wonderment, and wounded pride. Some are actual daguerreotypes, while the rest are fan art or movie stills inspired by those antique likenesses. In every case, one has the distinct feeling that misery could not ask for better company. This is Poe.

Now try searching “Poe Osgood portrait” instead. What comes up this time is a face totally different from those in the previous set. It can’t be the same person. There is color in his cheeks and light in his eyes, and his brow looks quite unburdened. The expression registers as neither menacing nor miserable, but magnanimous. This too is Poe.

It is Samuel Stillman Osgood’s more human version of the poet, novelist, and critic that interests us here. That the portrait has become emblematic of a close friendship between Poe and Frances Osgood, the artist’s wife, makes it still more surprising, because Poe is not supposed to have had friends…. 

(3) SAD POOPERS. Camestros Felapton, in Debarkle chapter 63, charts “What the Evil League of Evil (and Friends) Did Next”.

… In an apparent bid to make the historiography of the Debarkle easier, multiple members of 2014’s Evil League of Evil banded together to publish an anthology entitled “Forbidden Thoughts”. The title, evocative of Harlan Ellison’s never fully completed Dangerous Visions anthologies, was predicated on the idea that the last bastion of transgressive ideas in speculative fiction is reactionary conservatism….

(4) STONE SOUP. In “Building Beyond: Mycorrhizal Networking”, Sarah Gailey is joined by Casey Lucas and Arkady Martine to work on the writing prompt:

City planners in this civilization rely on fungus to help them do their jobs.

(5) THE END IS NEAR. Leonardo DiCaprio is part of a celebrity ensemble cast in Don’t Look Up, which tells the story of two low-level astronomers who must go on a giant media tour to warn mankind of an approaching comet that will destroy planet Earth. On Netflix on December 24.

(6) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • 1966 – Fifty-five years ago on NBC, Star Trek premiered. Roddenberry had pitched a brief treatment to Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball’s Desilu Productions, producers of Mission: Impossible, three years previously, calling it “a Wagon Train to the stars”. I won’t go into details here as y’all know them all too well but will note that it would spawn eleven television series to date, thirteen films, and numerous books, games, and more toys than you can possibly keep count. The series won two Hugos, one at NyCon 3 for “The Menagerie”, and another at Baycon for “The City on the Edge of Forever”.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 8, 1925 — Peter Sellers. Chief Inspector Clouseau in the Pink Panther films which are surely genre, aren’t they? Of course he had the tour de force acting experience of being Group Captain Lionel Mandrake, President Merkin Muffley and Dr. Strangelove in Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. Amusingly he was involved in a number of folk tale productions in various mediums (film, radio, stage) including Cinderella, Tom ThumbMother Goose and Jack and The Beanstalk. (Died 1980.)
  • Born September 8, 1937 — Archie Goodwin. Comics writer and editor with a very long career. He was the writer and editor of the horror Creepy and Eerie anthologies, the first writer on the Iron Man series, wrote comic book adaptations for Marvel of the two Star Wars sequels and edited the Star Wars line for them. For DC, he edited Starman which Robinson said he was inspiration for. (Died 1998.)
  • Born September 8, 1945 — Willard Huyck, 76. He’s got a long relationship with Lucas, first writing American Graffiti and being the script doctor on Star Wars before writing Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom before being the writer and director on Howard the Duck which, yes, is a Lucasfilm. It’s the lowest rated on Rotten Tomatos Lucasfilm production ever at 15% followed by Radioland Murders, the last script he’d write for Lucasfilm.  
  • Born September 8, 1952 — Linda D. Addison, 69. First Black winner of the Stoker Award which she has won five times. Amazingly, The first two awards were for her poetry collections Consumed, Reduced to Beautiful Grey Ashes and Being Full of Light, Insubstantial. All five of her Awards were for poetry collections. She does write more than poetry as her story, “Shadow Dreams”, was published in the Black Panther: Tales of Wakanda anthology.
  • Born September 8, 1954 — Mark Lindsay Chapman, 67. Sorry DCU but the best Swamp Thing series was done nearly thirty years ago and starred the late Dick Durock as Swamp Thing and this actor as his chief antagonist, Dr. Anton Arcane. Short on CGI, but the scripts were brilliant. Chapman has also shown up in Poltergeist: The LegacyBram Stoker’s Legend of the Mummy, The New Adventures of Superman, The Langoliers and Max Headroom to name a few of his genre appearances.
  • Born September 8, 1965 — Matt Ruff, 56. I think that his Sewer, Gas & Electric: The Public Works Trilogy is his best work to date though I do like Fool on The Hill a lot. Any others of his I should think about reading? And of course there the adaptation of Lovecraft Country which I’ve not seen as I don’t have HBO. He won an Otherwise Award for Set This House in Order: A Romance of Souls, and an Endeavour Award for The Lovecraft Country.
  • Born September 8, 1966 — Gordon Van Gelder, 55. From 1997 until 2014, he was editor and later publisher of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, for which he was awarded twice, and quite well deserved they were, with the Hugo for Best Editor Short Form at Nippon 3 and at Devention 3.  He was also a managing editor of The New York Review of Science Fiction from 1988 to 1993, for which he was nominated for the Hugo a number of times. 
  • Born September 8, 1975 — C. Robert Cargill, 46. He, along with Scott Derrickson and Jon Spaihts, worked on the script for Doctor Strange. More intriguingly they’re writing the script for The Outer Limits, a movie based on the television show. The film, produced by MGM, will be adapted from just the “Demon with a Glass Hand” episode begging the question of what they’re writing for a script given that Ellison did write the Writers Guild of America Awards winning Outstanding Script for a Television Anthology script.

(8) TRAILER PARK. A new DCEU animated film trailer: “Injustice”.

Inspired by Injustice: Gods Among Us, NetherRealm Studios’ popular video game, and the best-selling DC graphic novel based on the video game, Injustice: Gods Among Us: Year One by Tom Taylor, the animated film Injustice finds an alternate world gone mad – where The Joker has duped Superman into killing Lois Lane, sending the Man of Steel on a deadly rampage. Unhinged, Superman decides to take control of the Earth for humanity’s own good. Determined to stop him, Batman creates a team of like-minded, freedom-fighting heroes. But when Super Heroes go to war, can the world survive?

(9) FOUR EXCUSES. Mostly not genre, but Stephen Colbert’s “Excuses Song” could be like a national anthem for introverts.

Stephen, Jon and the Stay Human band recorded this hot new jam guaranteed to make you dance, and give you some foolproof excuses to get out of social obligations this Fall.

(10) STEVE POPS BACK IN. My daughter grew up watching Blue’s Clues. Which means I watched, too. So while I don’t know about her, I needed this! “So about that time Steve went off to college…”

(11) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Game Trailers: The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles” on YouTube, Fandom Games says this steampunk series “has almost nothing to do with what actually goes on in a courtroom” and featrues Sherlock Holmes as “an arrogant moron.”  “So strap on that katana and get ready to make objections!”

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

Pixel Scroll 8/5/21 You’ve Got To Know When To Hodor’em, Know When To Scroll’em, Know When To White Walker Away

(1) BURTON OUT OF JEOPARDY, UNFORTUNATELY. LeVar Burton won’t succeed the late Alex Trebek as host of the game show Jeopardy! According to Deadline, the show’s executive producer Mike Richards will be taking the job.  

LeVar Burton tweeted today:

I have said many times over these past weeks that no matter the outcome, I’ve won. The outpouring of love and support from family, friends, and fans alike has been incredible! If love is the ultimate blessing and I believe that it is, I am truly blessed beyond measure.

Here’s a look-back at a recent show when LeVar Burton presided over “The Science Fiction Category”.

(2) WHO’S ON FIRST. “Doctor Who’s next showrunner is more important than its next Doctor” insists Radio Times.

…But the showrunner is responsible for literally everything – from the tone of the show to its look, its casting, its music… even, to a lesser degree, its format and structure. Yes, making Doctor Who – and indeed, any show like it – is a massive team effort, but the showrunner picks (or is at least involved in the hiring of) their writers, the composer, the production designer, the make-up artists, the casting director… all those talented folk whose hard work goes into putting the show together.

Think how distinct the Russell T Davies era is from the Steven Moffat era, and how different both are to Chibnall’s show. Bar a few cosmetic changes, Doctor Who starring Christopher Eccleston and Doctor Who starring David Tennant are broadly the same series. But there’d be no mistaking Moffat’s Who for Davies’ – yes, they’re ostensibly the same programme, but the visuals are different, the humour is different, certain of the tropes are different… everything has regenerated, far more dramatically than when the show switches out one lead actor for the next. (That lead actor, of course, is also picked by the showrunner – pending BBC approval.)…

(3) HUGO HISTORY UPDATE. [Item by Kevin Standlee.] Ben Yalow located a copy of the 1993 Hugo Awards Nominating & Final Ballot Details report and I have updated the 1993 Hugo Awards entry at the official Hugo Awards site with a copy of it.

Note that the rules in 1993 were different than they are today, and this report included what was required under the rules as they existed at that time.

[Editor’s egoscanning note: I see File 770 came in second, as it was wont to do in the Nineties.]

(4) ON YOUR MARK. Tenth Letter of the Alphabet has combed through the Official Gazette of the United States Patent Office and assembled a vast collection of “Pulp Fiction Trademarks” like these —

(5) ANOTHER CONLANG. “What Language Does Leeloo Speak In The Fifth Element?” – let Looper tell you.

…A lot of time and effort, including the formation of a special language, went into crafting “The Fifth Element,” with Besson working on the project for around 15 years. What some might not know is that the unique language Leeloo speaks in the film is called the Divine Language, and it’s actually a personal creation of Besson’s, made solely for the movie. 

The Divine Language that was developed for “The Fifth Element” only has around 400 words in total, but that’s certainly enough to carry a conversation. According to an interview with i-D, Jovovich gives Besson complete credit for the language’s creation, stating that “He brought me a dictionary of words. We would write each other letters in the language, so I was getting used to communication and speaking it.”… 

(6) UNDERSTANDING SILKPUNK. BookRiot’s Lyndsie Manusos has some definite opinions about “Silkpunk: What It Is And What It Definitely Is Not”. “Silkpunk does NOT apply to every speculative, science fiction, or fantasy book inspired by Asian history or culture. Here’s what it is.”

…In the long history of speculative and SFF genres, silkpunk is pretty new. It was invented by Ken Liu to describe his 2015 novel The Grace of Kings. Liu coined the term, and wrote a post on his website to delve into its definition. Liu’s post begins with: “No, [silkpunk is] not “Asian-flavored steampunk.” No, it’s not “Asian-influenced fantasy.” No, it’s not…

(7) A PAIR OF ACES. Molly Templeton pointed out to Tor.com readers where they can “Watch Martha Wells and Becky Chambers in Conversation”.

… The two discuss outlining (or not); television watching (Wells, like all wise viewers, enjoys Elementary); how much time Chambers thought about tea while writing Psalm; writing with compassion for your characters; and how excellent it is that more voices are telling their stories in SFF….

(8) TOP 10. ScreenRant shared the list of “The American Film Institute’s 10 Best Sci Fi Movies”. Guess what is only number six!!

6. Blade Runner

A cerebral film with lofty existential themes, Blade Runner is a duly highly regarded sci-fi film and often noted as one of the best of the sci-fi genre. Another Ridley Scott film – one of his best science fiction films – Blade Runner follows an officer and blade runner named Deckard that is tasked with tracking down and destroying four replicants, which are sentient robots that were deemed illegal after a replicant uprising on a faraway planet.

On Deckard’s journey to destroy, or retire, the replicants, he is faced with questions of what it means to be human and the accuracy or inaccuracy of perception of reality. Further, the film paints a bleak portrait of a potential future with animals being extinct and a highly polluted atmosphere, connecting to concerns that modern audiences have for the environment.

(9) STONE SOUP. At “Building Beyond: Leaf Me Alone”, Sarah Gailey is joined by Stephen Rider and Amal El-Mohtar to play with this writing prompt:

The global forest community has decided to cut off all economic and trading ties with the outside world. From now on, forest-based resources are for the forest alone.

(10) MEMORY LANE.

  • 1970 – Fifty one years at Heicon ’70 where John Brunner was the Toastmaster, Ursula Le Guin wins the Hugo for Best Novel for The Left Hand of Darkness. It was first published in 1969 as Ace SF Special, Series 1.  Other nominated works that year were Robert Silverberg’s Up the Line, Piers Anthony‘s Macroscope, Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.’s Slaughterhouse-Five and Norman Spinrad‘s Bug Jack Barron. It would also win a Nebula Award and be nominated for a Ditmar Award as well. 

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 5, 1906 John Huston. Yes, the Huston who directed  and wrote The Maltese Falcon graced our community. He was M in Casino Royale, and The Lawgiver in Battle for the Planet of the Apes. He was in Sherlock Holmes in New York as Professor Moriarty, and voiced Gandalf in The Return of The King. (Died 1987.)
  • Born August 5, 1929 Don Matheson. Best remembered for being Mark Wilson in Land of the Giants. He also had roles in Lost in Space (where he played in an alien in one episode and an android in another episode), Voyage to the Bottom of the SeaThe Alfred Hitchcock Hour, an Alice in Wonderland film and Dragonflight. (Died 2014.)
  • Born August 5, 1935 Wanda Ventham, 86. Mother of Benedict Cumberbatch. She’s been on Who three times, in “The Faceless Ones”, a Second Doctor story, in “Image of the Fendahl”, a Fourth Doctor story and finally in “Time and the Rani”, a Seventh Doctor story. She also had roles in The Blood Beast TerrorProject U.F.O and Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter. She was often on British TV series including Danger ManThe SaintThe Avengers and The Prisoner. And yes, she was on his Sherlock series where she played…his mother.
  • Born August 5, 1940 Natalie Trundy, 81. First, she was one of the Underdwellers, named Albina, in Beneath the Planet of the Apes.  Next, she played Dr. Stephanie Branton, a specialist studying apes from the future who came into our present day in Escape from the Planet of the Apes.  Then in Conquest of the Planet of the Apes and Battle for the Planet of the Apes, she played the chimp Lisa.  As far as I can tell, she’s the only performer to play three different roles in the Apes films. 
  • Born August 5, 1947 Élisabeth Vonarburg, 74. Parisian born, she’s been a Quebec resident for four decades. She was the literary director of the French-Canadian SF magazine Solaris. Her first novel, Le Silence de la Cité, was published in 1981. Since then she’s been a prolific writer of novels and short fiction. I’m pleased to say that the usual suspects is deeply stocked in her works. Her website, in French of course, is here. She’s won ten Prix Aurora Awards for the best Canadian science fiction and fantasy works and activities in English and French. Très, très impressionnant! 
  • Born August 5, 1961 Tawny Kitaen. I first remember her in Hercules and the Circle of Fire as Deianeira, a role remarkable only for the minimalist costume she wore. She repeated the role throughout the series. Her first genre acting was actually in low budget horror flick Witchboard. And other than an appearance in a SF comedy series They Came from Outer Space, that’s it for her. (Died 2021.)
  • Born August 5, 1980 JoSelle Vanderhooft, 41. Former Green Man reviewer with a single novel so far, Ebenezer, and several collections, Steam-Powered: Lesbian Steampunk Stories and Steam-Powered II: More Lesbian Steampunk Stories which the former were nominated for a Lambda Award. She also co-edited with Steve Berman, Heiresses of Russ 2011: The Year’s Best Lesbian Speculative Fiction.

(12) COMICS HISTORY. “Let Otto Binder show you how the mid-’60s comic book sausage was made” at Scott Edelman’s blog.

Two more treasures found in my late sister-in-law Ellen Vartanoff’s collection — mid-’60s scripts by the extremely prolific comics writer Otto Binder. Wikipedia claims he wrote 4,400 stories under his own name — and 160 more under the pen-name Eando Binder…

…His [Otto Binder’s] story in Creepy adapted of one of the 10 stories he wrote for Amazing Stories with his brother Earl Binder (under the pen name Eando Binder) about the intelligent robot Adam Link.

Someday I’ll scan and share the entirety of both scripts, but for now, here’s a comparison of the first page of the Mighty Samson one, as well as the published page, with art by Frank Thorne — who’s perhaps best-known for his work on Marvel’s Red Sonja….

(13) DRAWN THAT WAY. Studio co-founder Alvy Ray Smith tells IEEE Spectrum readers “The Real Story of Pixar” – “How a bad hardware company turned itself into a great movie studio.”

…The story… goes back to a time when I and other researchers in computer graphics scattered around the United States began to see the technology as allowing a new art form: the creation of digitally animated movies. A handful of us began talking about when somebody would make the first one—”The Movie,” we called it—and the massive computing power it would take to pull it off. That kind of computing power was not affordable in the mid-1970s. But with Moore’s Law cranking along at a steady pace, there was every reason to think that the cost of computing power would come down sufficiently within a decade or so. In the meantime, we focused on developing the software that would make The Movie possible.

By definition, The Movie could incorporate no hand drawing. The tools to build it emerged piecemeal. First came the software that enabled computers to create two-dimensional images and, later, virtual 3D objects. Then we figured out how to move those objects, shade them, and light them before rendering them as frames of a movie….

…We kept the possibility of The Movie alive during the next five years with a series of short films, including Luxo Jr. (1986), nominated for an Academy Award; Tin Toy (1988) winner of an Academy Award; Red’s Dream (1987); and Knick Knack (1989). These were four of the sparkling jewels that sustained us during these otherwise tough years.

Each one of these pieces represented continued improvements in the underlying in-house technologies. Luxo Jr., for example, incorporated the first articulated objects that self-shadowed themselves from multiple light sources. Red’s Dream showed off our Pixar Image Computer: the principal background for the piece, a bicycle shop, was the most complex computer graphics scene ever rendered at the time….

(14) THEY’RE COMING TO TAKE ME AWAY. “R2-D2 is now a Tamagotchi you’ll forget about” predicts Engadget. (See demos at the company’s own interactive info page: Star Wars R2-D2 Tamagotchi.)

Disney and Bandai have teamed up to bring Artoo to the pockets of fans who don’t mind training, cleaning and looking after a needy, digital version of the droid wherever they are. …As you might expect from a Tamagotchi, you’ll interact with the toy using three physical buttons.

There are 19 skills for Artoo to learn. You’ll need to keep him charged and clean. Unlike with other Tamagotchis, you won’t have to clear up any poop from R2-D2 (he’s a droid, after all). A Lucasfilm spokesperson told Engadget that if R2-D2 sits for too long, he’ll accumulate dust. You can clean that away with the press of a button.

There are nine mini-games you can play with him, including firefighting and Star Wars staple Dejarik (or holochess). If you don’t keep the droid happy, some Jawas might arrive to take him away….

(15) FROM OUTSIDE OF TIME. Episode 37 of Octothorpe 37, a podcast about science fiction and SF fandom from John Coxon, Alison Scott, and Liz Batty, is available here.

 We didn’t record this week so this is the fabled EPISODE X, part of the SUMMER OF FUN (summer of fun). We discuss the Retro Hugo Awards and reading old books from a time when Graham Linehan was still on Twitter. Crazy.

(16) MINUS MEN. Y: The Last Man premieres September 13 — on FX on Hulu.

Based on DC Comics’ acclaimed series by Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra, Y: The Last Man traverses a post-apocalyptic world in which a cataclysmic event decimates every mammal with a Y chromosome but for one cisgender man and his pet monkey. The series follows the survivors in this new world as they struggle with their efforts to restore what was lost and the opportunity to build something better.

(17) THE STARS BYE DESTINATION. Gizmodo knows why “This Blasted Star Is Getting the Hell Out of the Milky Way”.

Careening through the Milky Way at nearly 2 million miles per hour, the star LP 40–365 shows no signs of stopping. A team of astronomers recently figured out that the star was propelled into its current speedrun by a supernova explosion millions of years ago.

LP 40–365 is unusual. It’s a white dwarf, a small, compact star at the end of its life, and it’s very rich in metals. LP 40–365 also has own atmosphere, which is mostly composed of oxygen and neon. But most important to this story is that the star is a runaway from a huge stellar explosion, which set in motion its dash out of the galaxy….

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Honest Game Trailers: Mario Golf”,  Fandom Games says this Mario Bros. line extension “turns the fusty game of golf into the PGA version of Death Race.”

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, N., John Coxon, Daniel Dern, Scott Edelman, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Michael Toman, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]

Pixel Scroll 7/7/21 Just The Scroll For A Pixel! The Bellman Cried, As He Ticked His Box With Care

(1) VISUAL EFFECTS HISTORY. SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie recommends BBC Radio 4’s progam Unreal: “The VFX Revolution, A Long, Long Time Ago…” – the first of a three-episode series about SF cinematic special effects from 2001 to Star Wars and Close Encounters.

The story of how visual effects changed and changed cinema told from the inside by the Oscar winning Paul Franklin. In 1975, in a nondescript warehouse in Van Nuys, George Lucas and John Dykstra created a visual effects startup that would make history. Industrial Light & Magic. A group of many talents spent well over a year in R&D to perfect the dream of motion control before X-Wings and the Millennium Falcon could soar. Meanwhile the magic eye of Douglas Trumbull and his team was creating the light show for Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters. It was the beginning of a revolution.

With the voices of Robert Blalack, John Dykstra, Richard Edlund, Dennis Muren & Doug Trumbull.

(2) SPLISH SPLASH. In the latest “Building Beyond” – “Liquid Assets” Sarah Gailey is joined by Wen Wen Yang and Meg Elison to play with this writing prompt:

The Cosmic Orb has issued a new Natural Law: at random intervals for the rest of time, the wealthiest 10% of humans in the universe will spontaneously dissolve into potable water.

(3) HUGO REFORM OF THE DAY. John Scalzi has good reasons to be confident about the second category. Would I be mistaken to underrate his chances of winning the first one?

(4) ON THE CASE. In the Washington Post, Mark Athiatakis discusses how it’s not really possible to organize your book collection as he comes up with several unusual and funny ways to organize your books. “Why bother organizing your books? A messy personal library is proof of life”.

… I recently went hunting for my copy of Lydia Davis’s “Essays One,” a collection of nonfiction that revealed itself stuffed sideways on a shelf where the works of Philip Roth and Marilynne Robinson first took up residence. That would’ve been an unthinkable genre incursion when I’d first moved in, and the search itself revealed more shelving indignities. Locating Davis meant scanning through books that are no longer so much shelved as much as piled in a sedimentary manner throughout the office….

(5) THE ODIFEROUS AGE. WIRED’s Jason Kehe says it’s not Amazon’s horn that’s tooting in Solos: “The Futuristic Stink of Amazon’s Science Fiction”.

…Amazon has shat out science-fiction programming for years, and it ranges, on the smell-o-meter, from the merely obnoxious to the just plain noxious—a flatulence that fluctuates. Early on, the company mostly Philip K. Dick’d around, first with an adaptation of Man in the High Castle and then with Electric Dreams, an anthology series based on that author’s short stories. The former collapsed in due course, and the latter was never more than off-brand, harder-trying Black Mirror, but at least neither tried to speak to our bowels.

With Solos, Amazon stoops to a condescending science fiction that’s just like us, farts and all….

(6) SPACE JAM 2 PROMO. Bugs Bunny and LeBron James pay a visit to the Metropolis of Superman: The Animated Series in a new clip from Space Jam: A New Legacy. [Via Gizmodo.]

(7) MEMORY LANE.

  • 1990 — Thirty-one years ago, Another Way to Travel, the second album by Minneapolis based Cats Laughing comes out. Genre wise, it’s notable as it has Emma Bull, John Ford and Stephen Brust as lyric writers. The cover illustration was done by Terri Windling (the original artwork was given to Cat Eldridge some years back by Pamela Dean’s husband) The vehicle was known as the Catmobile and was used to transport the band. It owned by Brust, and it was a Cadillac ambulance that had been painted yellow, light blue, and dark blue, with murals. You can listen to “For it All” here.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 7, 1907 — Robert Heinlein. Let’s have Paul Weimer tell about his favorite Heinlein works: “If I had to pick one favorite Heinlein novel, and that’s a tough road to hoe, I am going to go with the novel I’ve re-read the most and it’s probably not going to be the one you think.  It’s Glory Road. Yes, Glory Road. The back matter once the quest is done can be overcooked, but Heinlein had a keen eye for epic fantasy quests, the good and the bad, long before the rise of Tolkien clones. It was an early Heinlein for me, and the novel has stuck with me since, with a number of audio re-reads. I survived a boring drive across the flatness of the Great Plains by listening to the adventures of Oscar Gordon.” // If I had to pick one Heinlein story, I have a strong fondness for All You Zombies, which encapsulates all the potential paradoxes of time travel in a way that has been done at greater length, but not, I’d argue, with better effect. (The movie Predestination with Ethan Hawke is pretty darned good by the way). Oh, and my favorite book ABOUT Heinlein is Farah Mendelsohn’s The Pleasant Profession of Robert Heinlein. (Died 1988.)
  • Born July 7, 1919 — Jon Pertwee. The Third Doctor and one that I’ll admit I like a lot. He returned to the role of the Doctor in The Five Doctors and the charity special Dimensions in Time for Children in Need. He also portrayed the Doctor in the stage play Doctor Who – The Ultimate Adventure.  After a four-year run there, he was the lead on Worzel Gummidge where he was, errr, a scarecrow. And I must note that one of his first roles was as The Judge in the film of Toad of Toad Hall by A. A. Milne. (Died 1996.)
  • Born July 7, 1936 — Lisa Seagram. I’m noting her here because she was in the Batman episode “Louie, the Lilac” as Lila in which Milton Berle played the title character. She also had one-offs in both The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and The Girl from U.N.C.L.E., plus My Favorite Martian and Bewitched. (Died 2019.)
  • Born July 7, 1948 — Kathy Reichs, 73. Author of the Temperance Brennan series, the basis of the Bones series, which is genre adjacent given it’s connected to the Sleepy Hollow series, and she’s also the author of Virals, a YA series about a group of young adults with minor super powers. 
  • Born July 7, 1959 — Billy Campbell, 62. There are some films so good in my memory that even the Suck Fairy can’t spoil them and The Rocketeer in which he played stunt pilot Cliff Secord is one of them. And IDW did a hardcover edition called Dave Stevens’ The Rocketeer: The Complete Adventures which Amazon has it for a mere twenty bucks! The ePub is available from the usual suspects for a mere five dollars and ninety-nine cents. 
  • Born July 7, 1968 — Jeff VanderMeer, 53. Ok, I’ll admit that I’m ambivalent about the  Southern Reach Trilogy and am not sure if it’s brilliant or not though I’ll say it is quite disturbing. I also will say the pirate anthology he and his wife Anne did, Fast Ships, Black Sails, is quite tasty reading. 
  • Born July 7, 1980 — Martin Lewis, 41. He’s been the reviews editor for the British Science Fiction Association’s Vector critical journal for twenty years now. He’s written one book, SF Writers on SF Films from Akira to Zardoz
  • Born July 7, 1987 — V. E. Schwab, 34. I’m very pleased with her A Darker Shade of Magic which explores magicians in a parallel universe London. It’s part of her Shades of Magic series. Highly recommended. Her Cassidy Blake series is also good provided you’re a Potter fan as she makes a lot of references to that series. 

(9) COMICS SECTION.

(10) THE BEST. Publishers Weekly has a short and enthusiastic review of We’re Here: The Best Queer Speculative Fiction 2020 edited by C.L. Clark and series editor Charles Payseur.

Clark (The Unbroken) and Payseur (The Burning Day) present a diverse, well-crafted anthology of queer speculative fiction, bringing together 16 stories from both established and emerging authors…. 

(11) JEOPARDY! Andrew Porter was glued to his set when tonight’s episode of Jeopardy! challenged contestants with this:

Category: Chapter of the 19th Century Novel.

Answer: By H.G. Wells, “The reversion of the beast folk”

Wrong question: “What is ‘The Time Machine’?”

Right question: “What is ‘The Island of Dr. Moreau’?”

(12) PINT SIZE. Movies on Glass is offering a Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Quark’s Bar Pint Glass. Bottom’s up! (if you want to read the CBS license legalese).

  • SPECIAL EDITION IN UNIVERSETM: The Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Quark’s Bar pint glass features the Quark’s Bar logo digitally printed in full color.
  • LICENSED COLLECTIBLE MERCHANDISE: Officially licensed by CBS Consumer Products. CBS legal line is etched in the base of the glass.

(13) DOES ANYBODY REALLY, REALLY, REALLY KNOW WHAT TIME IT IS. [Title by Daniel Dern.] “For Precision, the Sapphire Clock Outshines Even the Best Atomic Clocks” declares IEEE Spectrum.

… The new clock—also known as the Sapphire Clock—isn’t better than an atomic clock; it’s different. That’s because accuracy and precision are different things: Accuracy is how well a clock can measure a true second, now defined as the time it takes cesium atoms under controlled conditions to oscillate between two energy states exactly 9,192,631,770 times. Since 2013, even more accurate types of atomic clocks have been built, but over 400 atomic clocks based on cesium-133 atoms are still used to create civil time across the globe. If you’re reading this article on a smartphone or a laptop, the time displayed on the edge of your screen is derived from one of those atomic clocks.

For many applications, such as satellite-based global positioning systems, accuracy is paramount. And make no mistake, even cesium atomic clocks are stunningly accurate. The NIST-F2 cesium clock operated by the U.S. National Institutes of Standards and Technology in Boulder, Colo., is so accurate that it would have to run for 300 million years to gain or lose a second.

But for some applications, accuracy is less important than precision. Precision has to do not with delineating the perfect second but rather with creating extremely regular ticks, or oscillations. Imagine a game of darts. Atomic clocks are able to land all their darts, or oscillations, broadly around the bull’s-eye so that the average position is right on target, even though any given dart might be a centimeter or two away from dead center. Luiten’s device doesn’t aim for the bull’s-eye: instead, it is able to land all its darts at exactly the same point on the dartboard. In other words, each tick is really, really, really just like another….

(14) WHY, ‘TIS CLEAR AS IS THE SUMMER SUN. Transformers: War for Cybertron Trilogy – Kingdom is coming July 29 to Netflix. Here’s the story line —

Now the Autobots must team up with the Maximals to confront the Decepticons, who have joined forces with the Predacons, in the race to find the missing AllSpark. However, the Predacons are in control of the Golden Disk, a mysterious artifact which has a personal connection to Megatron and gives him an untold advantage over his enemy, Optimus Prime. Which faction will triumph in the final battle that will decide the fate of Cybertron’s future?

(15) OUT THUNDERING THE LIZARDS. Chicxulub is called “The comet that killed the dinosaurs”Geology Page listens to a theory about its origins.

…The enduring puzzle has always been where the asteroid or comet that set off the destruction originated, and how it came to strike the Earth. And now a pair of Harvard researchers believe they have the answer.

In a study published in Scientific Reports, Avi Loeb, Frank B. Baird Jr. Professor of Science at Harvard, and Amir Siraj ’21, an astrophysics concentrator, put forth a new theory that could explain the origin and journey of this catastrophic object and others like it.

Using statistical analysis and gravitational simulations, Loeb and Siraj show that a significant fraction of a type of comet originating from the Oort cloud, a sphere of debris at the edge of the solar system, was bumped off-course by Jupiter’s gravitational field during its orbit and sent close to the sun, whose tidal force broke apart pieces of the rock. That increases the rate of comets like Chicxulub (pronounced Chicks-uh-lub) because these fragments cross the Earth’s orbit and hit the planet once every 250 to 730 million years or so.

“Basically, Jupiter acts as a kind of pinball machine,” said Siraj, who is also co-president of Harvard Students for the Exploration and Development of Space and is pursuing a master’s degree at the New England Conservatory of Music. “Jupiter kicks these incoming long-period comets into orbits that bring them very close to the sun.”

It’s because of this that long-period comets, which take more than 200 years to orbit the sun, are called sun grazers, he said.

“When you have these sun grazers, it’s not so much the melting that goes on, which is a pretty small fraction relative to the total mass, but the comet is so close to the sun that the part that’s closer to the sun feels a stronger gravitational pull than the part that is farther from the sun, causing a tidal force” he said. “You get what’s called a tidal disruption event and so these large comets that come really close to the sun break up into smaller comets. And basically, on their way out, there’s a statistical chance that these smaller comets hit the Earth.”

(16) THE LIGHTS IN THE SKY. Auroras on Mars occur not only at the poles but all around the planet. The Emirates Mars Mission is collecting images. “Mars Has Auroras and a U.A.E. Spacecraft Captured New Pictures of Them” – photos at the New York Times.

When barrages of charged protons and electrons erupted from the sun head our way, Earth’s magnetic field deftly deflects them around the planet. This buffeting generates shimmering, glowing curtains of color known as the aurora borealis in the Northern Hemisphere’s polar regions, and aurora australis in the south.

That same phenomenon happens on Mars, too. But there it is not just the northern lights and southern lights, but also the equatorial lights, mid-latitude lights, eastern lights, western lights — all around the planet.

The Hope spacecraft launched by the United Arab Emirates and orbiting the red planet since February, has captured unique images of these dancing atmospheric lights, known as discrete auroras.

Mission officials released the pictures on Wednesday.

“It will allow new doors of study to be opened when it comes to the Martian atmosphere,” said Hessa al-Matroushi, the science lead for the first interplanetary mission by the U.A.E., “and how it interacts with the solar activity.”

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Honest Game Trailers:  Dark Alliance,” Fandom Games says this D&D line extension is “a story that had zero effort put into it” and is so boring “It’s less like watching a car crash and more like going to the DMV.”

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Daniel Dern, Alan Baumler, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, David K.M. Klaus, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Michael Toman, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Mister Dalliard (a 2018 suggestion).]

Pixel Scroll 7/3/21 Neunundneunzig Scrollballons

(1) LOVECRAFT COUNTRY: WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN. The show was not renewed. Deadline has a glimpse of what was planned: “Lovecraft Country Season 2 Teased By Creator Misha Green After HBO Cancelation”.

A very very different America was going to be unveiled in Season 2 of Lovecraft Country, creator Misha Green revealed today after HBO officially pulled the plug on the acclaimed horror drama.

A couple of hours after Deadline exclusively reported on the surprising demise of the the Jurnee SmollettJonathan Majors and Michael Kenneth Williams starring series, showrunner Green took to social media to paint a picture of what might have been. It was certainly something to see, especially leading into the July 4th weekend:

(2) BARBARIC YAWP. Cora Buhlert’s provocatively-titled “Conan the Socialist” lives up to its billing. (You never suspected that about Conan, did you?) BEWARE SPOILERS about the Thirties Robert E. Howard tale under discussion.

… My teenaged self certainly enjoyed the Conan stories as great and glorious adventures. Plus, there was the thrill of reading “violent American trash” that sensible educated people weren’t supposed to read or enjoy. However, upon rereading these stories as an adult, I find that there is a lot of depth and subtext in the Conan series that my teenaged self missed.

(3) I’LL BE BACK. And he was. The Ringer talked to filmmakers and actors to come up with “The Oral History of ‘Terminator 2: Judgment Day’”

T2 is a departure from the far bleaker original, 1984’s The Terminator, which its creator calls a “science-fiction slasher film.” Linda Hamilton’s franchise protagonist, Sarah Connor, has transformed from a put-upon heroine to a self-trained commando whose attempts to thwart the coming apocalypse land her in a psychiatric hospital. Her son, John, the future leader of the resistance in the war against the genocidally self-aware defense system Skynet, is in foster care. And the T-800, once a remorseless killer with a curious but hypnotic Austrian accent, somehow helps bring them together as a family—then helps them save the world.

Cameron: I talked to Dennis Muren at ILM. I said, “I’ve got an idea. If we took the water character from The Abyss, but it was metallic so you didn’t have the translucency issues, but you had all the surface reflectivity issues and you made it a complete human figure that could run and do stuff, and it could morph back into a human, and then turn into the liquid metal version of itself, and we sprinkled it through the movie, can we do it?” He said, “I’ll call you back tomorrow.”

Cameron: Linda, I called her up and I said, “Look, they want to pay us a lot of money to make a sequel. Are you in or are you out? But just between you and me, I don’t really want to do it if Sarah doesn’t come back and I don’t want to recast Sarah, so you got to say you’re in.” And she and I weren’t involved. [Editor’s note: Cameron and Hamilton were married from 1997 to 1999.] We hadn’t even really hung out at all much since the first film. She was making a movie somewhere down South.

And so she said, “Yeah, in principle, I’m in, but I want to be crazy.” I said, “Well, what do you mean, crazy? How crazy?” She said, “Crazy, like I’ve been driven crazy.” I said, “Like you’re in an insane asylum, like you’re institutionalized?” She said, “Yeah, sure. Let me play crazy. Let me go nuts.” I said, “All right. Well, you’re going to get my version of nuts,” and she said, “All right. I’m down.”

(4) ROBOHOP. New Scientist’s reviewer says “A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers is joyful sci-fi reading”.

…The book is set some time after this Transition, and follows a tea monk, Sibling Dex, who goes from settlement to settlement as a travelling salesperson-slash-roaming therapist. Despite bringing joy and comfort to those visited, Dex is unsatisfied and heads out into the wilds, looking for a new purpose – eventually making contact with a robot, Mosscap, the first time humans and robots had met in centuries.

(5) TALKIN’ ABOUT MY REGENERATION. Here’s your latest next-Doctor-Who rumor. From The Guardian: “Olly Alexander tipped to be new lead”.

Olly Alexander, the pop singer and actor who this year shone brightly in the Russell T Davies drama It’s a Sin, is reportedly set to be the next lead in Doctor Who.

On Sunday the Sun said Alexander was thrashing out final details with the BBC to succeed Jodie Whittaker and become the 14th Doctor.

If it happens, Alexander, 30, would be the first out gay actor to play the Time Lord.

Whittaker’s departure from Doctor Who has not been announced, although rumours abound that the next series and two special episodes, to be broadcast next year, will be her final outings…

(6) PAST IN PERSPECTIVE. Lovecraft and Howard scholar Bobby Derie discusses how segregation and Jim Crow laws affected the 1951 and 1953 Worldcons: “Jim Crow, Science Fiction, and WorldCon”.

… There were less than 200 attendees. Nolacon Bulletin #2 (July 1951) lists 196 members; Harry Warner, Jr. in in his memoir of fandom in the 50s A Wealth of Fable says 183 were officially registered “and 300 or more persons were believed to be on hand at one time or another” (352).

…One highlight was a midnight showing of The Day the Earth Stood Still at the local Saenger Theater. Seating was segregated. Black attendees would have had to enter through a side door, to sit up on the balcony. Had any black science fiction fans done so, the film they watched could have stood as a metaphor for the mythic white space they found themselves in: a film of the possibilities of the future starring white people, for white people; the few non-white actors such as Rama Bai and Spencer Chan went uncredited….

… “Sectional discrimination” in 1952 was the “reverse racism” of the 2020s—a fallacy used by those who claim that efforts to combat or reverse racial discrimination are themselves a form of discrimination. Boggs’ claims break down what might be the typical white fan’s mindset of the era: philosophically displeased with Jim Crow, but unwilling to actually do anything about it….

(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • July 3, 1985 – Thirty-six years ago, Back to the Future premiered. It was directed by Robert Zemeckis from a screenplay by Zemeckis and Bob Gale. Bob Gale and Neil Canton were the producers. It of course starred Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson and Crispin Glover. It would win the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation at ConFederation besting LadyhawkeCocoonBrazil and Enemy Mine. Critics loved it with Ebert comparing it to Capra’s It’s A Wonderful Life. It was a box office success being the top grossing film of the year. And audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it an absolutely superb ninety-four percent rating. 

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 3, 1926 — William Rotsler. An artist, cartoonist, pornographer and SF author. Well that is his bio. Rotsler was a many time Hugo Award winner for Best Fan Artist and one-time Nebula Award nominee. He also won a Retro Hugo for Best Fan Artist of 1946 and was runner-up for 1951. He is responsible for giving Uhura her first name, and he wrote “Rotsler’s Rules for Costuming.” (Died 1997.)
  • Born July 3, 1927 — Ken Russell. Film director whose Altered States based off of Paddy Chayefsky’s screenplay is certainly his best-remembered film. Though let’s not overlook The Lair of the White Worm he did off Bram Stoker’s novel, or The Devils, based at least in part off The Devils of Loudun by Aldous Huxley. (Died 2011.)
  • Born July 3, 1937 — Tom Stoppard, 84. Playwright of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. He co-wrote the screenplays for Brazil (with Terry Gilliam) and Shakespeare in Love (with Marc Norman). He’s uncredited but openly acknowledged by Spielberg for his work on Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
  • Born July 3, 1943 — Kurtwood Smith, 78. Clarence Boddicker in Robocop, Federation President in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, and voiced Kanjar Ro in the most excellent Green Lantern: First Flight. He’s got series appearances on Blue ThunderThe Terrible Thunderlizards (no, I’ve no idea what it is), The X-FilesStar Trek: Deep Space NineStar Trek: VoyagerMen in Black: The Series3rd Rock from the SunTodd McFarlane’s SpawnJustice LeagueBatman BeyondGreen Lantern, Beware the Batman, Agent Carter and Star Trek: Lower Decks. His latest genre role was Old Man Miller on the Netflix series Jupiter’s Legacy.
  • Born July 3, 1946 — Michael Shea. Shea’s first novel, A Quest for Simbilis was  an authorized sequel to the first two Jack Vance’s Dying Earth novels. Vance was offered a share of the advance but declined it. (It was declared non-canon when the next novels in the series were written by Vance.) A decade, he’d win a World Fantasy Award for his Nifft the Lean novel, and a second twenty years later for a novella, “The Growlimb.” (Died 2014.)
  • Born July 3, 1948 — Marc Okrand, 73. A linguist in Native American languages who’s  the creator of the Klingon language. He first applied it by dubbing in Vulcan language dialogue for Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, and then was involved in the Search for SpockThe Final FrontierThe Undiscovered Country, and the both rebooted Trek films. Later he developed the language for the Kelpien race in the second season of Discovery.
  • Born July 3, 1962 — Tom Cruise, 59. His first genre role was as Jack in Legend. Next up was Lestat de Lioncourt in Interview with the Vampire followed by being Ethan Hunt in the first of many excellent Mission Impossible films. Then he was John Anderton in Minority Report followed by Ray Ferrier in War of The Worlds. I’ve not see him as Maj. William Cage in Edge of Tomorrow so I’ve no idea how good he or the film is. Alas he was Nick Morton in, oh god, The Mummy
  • Born July 3, 1964 — Payton Reed, 57. Did you know there was A Back to the Future TV series? Well there was and he directed it back in 1991. It was animated and only Christopher Lloyd was involved as a voice actor. He went on to much later direct Ant-Man, Ant-Man and the Wasp and the forthcoming Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. He directed two episodes of The Mandalorian

(9) STAND UP GUY. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] From 2017, a full cast audio adaptation of the short story “Waterfront Fists” by Robert E. Howard, performed by a group called the Violet Crown Radio Players. This is not an SFF story, but one of the Sailor Steve Costigan stories about the adventures of a not very smart boxing sailor and his faithful bulldog (Howard wrote more Costigan stories than he ever wrote Conan stories), but very nicely done. Hosted by The Cromcast, a Weird Fiction Podcast: “The VCRP Present Waterfront Fists!”

(10) STONE SOUP. Sarah Gailey’s “Building Beyond” writing prompt “Optimus Prime Time” brings her together with Elizabeth Kestrel Rogers and Julian Stuart to play with this idea —

The AI uprising has come and gone and after a brief period of discomfort, we’re all mostly pretty cool with each other at this point. There’s a television network that is strictly dedicated to entertainment by robots, for robots.

(11) YOUNG RAY HARRYHAUSEN. First Fandom Experience remembers when “Ray Harryhausen Released the Kraken in 1938”. They show the creature’s evolution from Harryhausen’s fanzine art to the movie Clash of Titans.

The Kraken debuts

More from Harryhausen’s conversation with David Kyle:

“In the mid-1930s when I was still in high school, Forry told me about the little brown room in Clifton’s Cafeteria where the Los Angeles chapter of the Science Fiction League would meet every Thursday. Members included Russ Hodgkins, Morojo, and T. Bruce Yerke. Robert Heinlein used to come around, and a guy named Bradbury. We were a group who liked the unusual. There was a fellow named Walt Daugherty, who was an anthropologist by trade, and a photographer. He would make presentations about Egyptology. Another young fellow named Ray Bradbury would arrive wearing roller skates. After selling newspapers on the street corner he would skate to meetings because he had no money. He used to go meet the stars at the Hollywood Theater where they did weekly radio broadcasts. Ray was writing for Forry’s magazine called Imagination. I did one of the covers for an issue, which was mimeographed.”…

(12) VAMPIRES AND WEREWOLVES. Anna J Walner has two books in The Uluru Legacy Series, the first out in June, the second coming in November.

Anna J. Walner

A girl in search of her family finds more than she ever dreamed possible. Blending myth with reality, this award-winning debut provides a truly unique and realistic spin on the genre you love.
 
Enter a world hidden to human eyes for over three centuries. A safe haven for both Vampire and Werewolf. She’ll become something she never thought existed, agree to things she never thought she would, and find a life worth dying for.

In Garkain:

Amelia’s journey to find the truth behind her adoption twenty-five years ago, might end up being just a quick tour around the sights and a visit with her biological family.

Or it could reveal a more mysterious and shocking history to her lineage than she thought possible. The realization that vampires and werewolves have existed all along in secret. A place called The Colony.

Amelia realizes she must make a choice. Join The Colony and her family, or literally be made to forget they ever existed in the first place.

The thrilling debut of The Uluru Legacy Series will change the vampire and werewolf rulebook. Blending myth with reality, it provides a truly unique and realistic spin on the genre you love.

In Larougo —

While some questions will be answered, more will be raised. As new truths come to light, and new evils make themselves known, not everyone will survive.

The vision for a new Colony is at stake as Amelia and Roan discover they’re part of something even larger than they thought.

(13) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Mind Matters says about Sarah Gross’ short film Boléro:

The theme is very topical indeed: Ending crime on the part of private citizens via total surveillance (in this case via a sort of enhanced telepathy) results in unlimited crime on the part of the government. 

The synopsis continues:

In a future where telepaths are used by the government to monitor the public and root out insurgents, Maya, a non-speaking teen, witnesses her father’s brutal and unjust execution. Set on a path of revenge and destruction, Maya joins the Resistance, hellbent on tracking down Reader 8, the telepath responsible for her father’s death. However, when Maya finally locates her target after years of searching, she is confronted with a choice: either capture Reader 8 and deliver essential intelligence to the Resistance or take him out and fulfill her vengeful quest.

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Michael Toman, Alan Baumler, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]