Pixel Scroll 7/21/21 No Gods Were Stalked In the Making Of This Scroll Title

(1) HAUNTED. At Horrified: The British Horror Website, Sarah Jackson discusses the objects that become haunted in classic ghost stories written by women: “Haunted objects in women’s weird fiction”.

Like hermit crabs, ghosts and demonic forces are extremely adaptable when it comes to finding a new home. Especially fond of portraits, mirrors, and dolls, they have also been known to inhabit more mundane items. A saucepan. A fur boa. A pair of gloves. A snuff box.

Household items charged with supernatural power are a common motif in the large body of weird fiction written by British women in the first half of the twentieth century. Sometimes the effect is darkly comic, sometimes tragic, sometimes terrifying. As Melissa Edmundson notes in her introduction to Women’s Weird: Strange Stories by Women, 1890-1940 (Handheld Press, Melissa Edmundson, 2019) many of these haunted objects are ‘traditionally feminine’, and almost all have some connection to women’s changing roles and complicated relationship with domesticity and sexuality in this period.

(2) HE’LL RETIRE THE SERIES WITH THE RECORD. Stephen Jones reminded Andrew Porter about ending his Best New Horror anthology series in 2022. He wrote:

“I quietly announced it nearly two years ago.

“It was always the plan that when — or if! — I ever reached volume #31 (one more volume than THE PAN BOOK OF HORROR STORIES) then I would probably retire it. It’s an annual anthology that now takes nearly two years to compile!

“The final volume (in this format at least) will be published by PS Publishing towards the end of the year.

“It will hopefully set the record for the longest-running horror anthology series from the same editor.

“I decided to let Gardner Dozois’ record with THE YEAR’S BEST SCIENCE FICTION stand.”

(3) NEXT GAIMAN BOOK TO TV.  “Neil Gaiman’s ‘Anansi Boys’ to Get Amazon Series Adaptation” reports Variety.

…The streamer has given the limited series a six-episode order with plans in place to begin shooting in Scotland later this year. First published in 2005, “Anansi Boys” follows Charlie Nancy, a young man who is used to being embarrassed by his estranged father, Mr. Nancy. But when his father dies, Charlie discovers that his father was Anansi: trickster god of stories. And he learns that he has a brother. Now his brother, Spider, is entering Charlie’s life, determined to make it more interesting but making it a lot more dangerous.

The character of Mr. Nancy appears in both “Anansi Boys” and the Gaiman novel “American Gods,” the latter of which is currently airing a series adaptation on Starz. However, there is no connection between the two projects and “Anansi Boys” will serve as a stand-alone story.

The author tells how it happened in “The Other Half of the Secret” at Neil Gaiman’s Journal.

I mentioned that making Good Omens two is half of what I’ve been working on, and will be working on for next eighteen months, and I said I’d tell you soon enough what the other secret project I’ve been working on is.

It’s this

…And I cannot tell you how happy I am to be making it, and making it in the way that we’re making it.

Anansi Boys started in about 1996. I was working on the original Neverwhere TV series for Lenny Henry’s film company, Crucial Films.

I loved a lot of what we were doing in Neverwhere. 25 years ago, it felt like we were doing something ahead of its time. 

Lenny and I went for a walk. Lenny grumbled about horror films. “You’ll never get people who look like me starring in horror films,” he said. “We’re the hero’s friend who dies third.”

And I thought and blinked. He was right. “I’ll write you a horror movie you could star in,” I told him.

I plotted one. I tried writing the first half-dozen pages of the movie, but it didn’t seem to be right as a movie. And I was beginning to suspect that the story I was imagining, about two brothers whose father had been a God, wasn’t really horror, either.

… A top Hollywood director wanted to buy the rights to Anansi Boys, but when he told me that he planned to make all the characters white, I declined to sell it. It was going to be done properly or not at all.

And then, about ten years ago, two things happened at the same time. Hilary Bevan Jones, a producer who had made a short film I had directed (called Statuesque) mentioned she’d love to make Anansi Boys as a TV series, and a man named Richard Fee, who worked for a company called RED, spotted me eating noodles in a London noodle bar, waited outside so he didn’t seem like a stalker, and told me how much he loved Anansi Boys and that he’d love to make it into television.

I loved the TV that RED had made, loved Hilary and her team at Endor, and, unable to decide between them, suggested that they might be willing to work together. They both thought this was a good idea. …

(4) WORD. SFFANZ found a couple of noteworthy sff items on the Christchurch Word Festival program. New Zealand’s Christchurch Word Festival is on August 25-29.

Our attention has been drawn to two specfic items on the programme:

Speed Date a Speculative Fiction Author“, featuring Graci Kim, Cassie Hart, Sascha Stronach, and Karen Healey

The Stardust Cabaret“, including Sascha Stronach and AJ Fitzwater, with “star-stuff infused performances”

(5) CONLANG. BBC Radio 4’s Word of Mouth program for July 20 was on invented languages such as for Game of Thrones: Word of Mouth – “The Art of Inventing Languages”.

How does one go about inventing a language? David J. Peterson is the creator of the Dothraki and Valyrian languages for fantasy series Game of Thrones, as well as many others. He joins Michael Rosen for a playful discussion about all things conlang, and Michael tries his luck at inventing a new language for bacteria.

(6) VISUAL EFFECTS. Yesterday BBC Radio 4 also ran the third of three episodes in its series Unreal: The VFX Revolution, called  “The New Flesh”.

Oscar winner Paul Franklin tells how visual effects changed and how they changed cinema. By the mid 1990s, Industrial Light & Magic, the VFX house at the heart of the rebirth of photochemical illusions, was home to a small but growing band of digerati convinced that the next breakthrough was at their fingertips. Jurassic Park not only proved their point but showed audiences and filmmakers that nothing could be the same again. The quest for the illusion of life, for the subtlety of performance would eventually lead back to Middle Earth and the evolution of Gollum – the perfect fusion of man and digits. Meanwhile the illusory world of The Matrix put its extraordinary moments of Bullet Time at the heart of its story and ideas. This was visual effects as both story and metaphor. Christopher Nolan’s Inception took that warping of reality to a different, hyper-real realm as Paul Franklin and his team folded the streetscapes of Paris upon each other. And now? What does the future hold for storytelling and visual effects?

(7) VERDANT ARTHURIANA. A second trailer has dropped for The Green Knight, to be released July 30.

An epic fantasy adventure based on the timeless Arthurian legend, THE GREEN KNIGHT tells the story of Sir Gawain, King Arthur’s reckless and headstrong nephew, who embarks on a daring quest to confront the eponymous Green Knight, a gigantic emerald-skinned stranger and tester of men.

(8) MEMORY LANE.

  • 1995 – Twenty-six years ago, Patricia McKillip’s Something Rich and Strange won the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature. The book was first published in hardcover by Bantam Spectra in November 1994.  It was originally published as part of Brian Freud’s Faerielands series, a collaborative series of novels where the writer could choose from a set of illustrations that Froud did and write their novels around those pieces of art. Only two of the four planned books were published with the intended artwork, this one and The Wild Wood by Charles de Lint. A third illustration would be used but not as part of this series but rather as the U.K. edition of Terri Windling’s The Wood Wife which was intended to be part of this series but instead got a Susan Seddon Boulet cover.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 21, 1929 John Woodvine, 92. He’s first shows up genre wise in An American Werewolf in London as Dr J. S. Hirsch, but shortly thereafter he’s Master West 468 in The Tripods and Prior Mordrin in the Knights of God children’s SF serial. Finally he’s Justice Dimkind in A Perfect State which is at least genre adjacent. 
  • Born July 21, 1933 John Gardner. Grendel, the retelling of Beowulf from the monster’s viewpoint, is likely the only work he’s remembered for. Gudgekin The Thistle Girl (and Other Tales) are genre fairy tales as are The King of the Hummingbirds (and Other Tales); A Child’s Bestiary is, well, guess what it says it is. Mickelsson’s Ghosts, his final novel written before his untimely death in a motorcycle accident, is a ghost story. OGH says he remembers Gardner’s short fiction collection The King’s Indian (1974) very fondly. It made a big impression on him when he was in college and still thought he might become an sf writer. (Died 1982.)
  • Born July 21, 1944 David Feintuch. Astounding Award winner for best new writer. He wrote one science fiction series, the Seafort Saga, and a fantasy series, Rodrigo of Caledon. An eighth novel in his SF series, Galahad’s Hope, was apparently completed but never published. (Died 2006.)
  • Born July 21, 1948 Garry Trudeau, 73. Best remembered for creating the Doonesbury franchise which I’m not pretending is genre but I wanted to note his birthday.  The first daily strip was published Oct. 26, 1970 (he does new ones only on Sundays now) which means he’s been at it for over fifty years. 
  • Born July 21, 1951 Robin Williams. Suicides depress me. I remember a bootleg tape of a performance of him and George Carlin in their cocaine fueled days. No, not even genre adjacent but damn brilliant. Such manic energy. Genre wise, he was brilliant in most everything he did, be it Mork & Mindy, Hook which I adore, The Fisher KingBicentennial Man or Jumanji. (Died 2014.)
  • Born July 21, 1969 Christopher Shea, 52. Someone at casting likes him as he showed up in three Trek series, VoyagerDeep Space Nine and Enterprise playing a total of four roles. His only other genre was on Charmed
  • Born July 21, 1976 Jaime Murray, 45. If you watch genre television, you’ve most likely seen her as she’s been Helena G. Wells in the Warehouse 13, Stahma Tarr in Defiance, Fiona/the Black Fairy In Once Upon a Time, Antoinette in The Originals, and Nyssa al Ghul in Gotham. Film wise, she was Livinia in The Devil’s Playground and Gerri Dandridge in Fright Night 2: New Blood

(10) THE EARLY BIRD. San Diego Comic-Con International has posted the Program Schedule for [email protected], running July 23-25 – there are also some pre-con items on the schedule for today and tomorrow.  

(11) IT’S A MYSTERY TO HIM. James Davis Nicoll has picked out some really good ones: “Five Captivating SFF Mystery Novels” at Tor.com. I want to read all of them.

The Apothecary Diaries 01 by Natsu Hyuuga (2020)

Kidnapped and sold as a maid to the rear palace, the sprawling residence for the emperor’s many wives and consorts, Maomao is determined to keep a low profile until her term of service is over and she can return to her old life as a would-be apprentice to her apothecary foster-father in a nearby red light district. Bright, pragmatic, and aloof, Maomao sees little to covet in the endless squabbles of the rear palace.

Sadly for this plan, Maomao’s observant nature, unusual skills, and inability to restrain from interfering in potentially lethal misadventures draw the attention of powerful eunuch Jinshi. Maomao has committed an error even riskier than offending one of the court’s most powerful functionaries. She has inadvertently shown that her deductive prowess could be useful. Which means, of course, when confronted with seemingly inexplicable mysteries—or even just the need for a toxin-resistant food taster—it is to Maomao that Jinshi turns. And if things go horribly wrong? Well, that probably won’t affect Jinshi.

(12) LEND ME YOUR EARS. At Nerds of a Feather, Paul Weimer takes “A second look at N.K. Jemisin’s 2020 Hugo Finalist novel, THE CITY WE BECAME” – which is actually a first listen.

…With the novel now a Hugo Finalist, and me, as the author, as a native New Yorker having re-read the book recently in audio, I thought a second look  at the book was in order to explore other facets of the novel, and the audiobook in particular….

While I had highly enjoyed reading the book in ebook last year, my choice of re-reading it audio, first a way to fill some loose hours in my listening schedule and a way to tag back into the book in order to rank it as a Hugo Finalist on my ballot. I was, however, riveted from the beginning for a number of reasons.

The choice of narrator, Robin Miles, is an excellent choice. Miles has worked with Jemisin before (notably on the Broken Earth trilogy) and has a very good voice for Jemisin’s word choice and sentence style. It’s a wonderfully immersive performance on her part, and her voice kept me listening, to the point of NPR style “Driveway moments” throughout the production. This is a book I could have done even better listening to it on a long driving trip.

The use of sound in the audiobook was inspired. While this is not a full cast production, and just has the aforementioned Miles as narrator, the production is not content to just use her considerable vocal talents. The audiobook employs some sound effects and tricks to help immerse the reader into, particularly, the cosmic horror of the novel in a way that the print novel doesn’t quite manage….

(13) SPACE OPERATICS. And last week Paul Weimer looked at this book for Nerds of a Feather: “Microreview: Assassin’s Orbit by John Appel”.

… With the recent publication of Adrian Tchaikovsky’s Shards of Earth, and now this, John Appel’s debut into novels, Assassin’s Orbit, there appears to be a mini boomlet in space opera stories set in a verse where Earth, the center, has been removed from the equation, and in point of fact, the power that ended Earth is one that might return in full force and flower and destroy what has been built in the meantime. And, also, the theme of how expatriates, if not outright refugees, try to build a new life far away from a home they cannot return to is one that is very much of this moment….

(14) ESSENCE OF WONDER. Author Jenn Lyons will be on Essence of Wonder with Gadi Evron on July 24 at 3:00 P.M. Eastern: “Dragons, Demons, Gods: Astounding Award Finalist Jenn Lyons on Her Series A Chorus of Dragons”.

This is now a streaming show that you connect with using one of these platforms: YouTube; Facebook Live; or Twitch.

(15) DUNE CAST POSTERS. Warner Bros. has released a series of character posters from Dune, the film adaptation of Frank Herbert’s novel directed by Denis Villeneuve. Its world premiere will happen at the Venice Film Festival in September before its October 22 release. See the character posters on Twitter. Thread starts here. Poster of Timothée Chalamet, who stars as Paul Atreides; Zendaya (Chani); Rebecca Ferguson (Lady Jessica); Jason Momoa (Duncan Idaho); Oscar Isaac (Duke Leto Atreides); Javier Bardem (Stilgar); Josh Brolin (Gurney Halleck); and Stellan Skarsgård (Baron Vladimir Harkonnen). Also Dave Bautista, Sharon Duncan Brewster, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Chang Chen and David Dastmalchian and Charlotte Rampling.

(16) PRO TIP. Larry Correia gave everyone a free lesson about “How To Write Your Author Bio” [Internet Archive link] at Monster Hunter Nation. The TL:DR version is: write a straight bio with your credits, then take the curse off by writing a blog post that belittles whatever you humblebragged about. For example:

And —

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Honest Game Trailers: Scarlet Nexus,” Fandom Games says this game is “one of the most anime-friendly games ever” but not based on any actual anime, so you don’t have to prep before playing the game.

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

Pixel Scroll 2/28/21 Chasing A Blanched Scroll Across The File With A Pixel Fork

(1) THE VOICE OF THE FUTURE. Wil Wheaton has been picked to narrate How to Avoid a Climate Disaster by Bill Gates.

Even Wheaton is impressed.

Did I mention that Bill Gates allegedly chose me, personally? Because holy h*ck he did. He chose me. Personally. Out of everyone in the world who does my job, he picked me. That kinda blows my mind.

(2) WORLDCON HOTEL. DisCon III, the 2021 Worldcon, posted their biweekly hotel update: “2/28 Hotel Update”.

We have retained legal counsel in Delaware, which is the location of the Wardman Park bankruptcy proceedings. We are working with our legal counsel to move closer to a resolution, and we hope to provide you more concrete information as the process progresses.

(3) IGN PREVIEWS DC. IGN Fan Fest 2021 took place today where DC shared clips from Justice Society: World War II and  a premiere clip of The Flash‘s seventh season

  • Justice Society: World War II – Official Exclusive Wonder Woman vs Nazis Clip

In this exclusive sneak peek at Warner Bros. Animation’s latest DC animated movie, Justice Society: World War 2, Wonder Woman faces off with a group of Nazi soldiers. The new film finds modern-day Barry Allen – prior to the formation of the Justice League – discovering he can run even faster than he imagined, and that milestone results in his first encounter with the Speed Force. The Flash is promptly launched into the midst of a raging battle – primarily between Nazis and a team of Golden Age DC Super Heroes known as The Justice Society of America. Led by Wonder Woman, the group includes Hourman, Black Canary, Hawkman, Steve Trevor and the Golden Age Flash, Jay Garrick. The Flash quickly volunteers to assist his fellow heroes in tipping the scales of war in their favor, while the team tries to figure out how to send him home. But it won’t be easy as complications and emotions run deep in this time-skipping World War II thriller. Justice Society: World War II will be available to purchase on Digital starting April 27, 2021, and on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack and Blu-ray on May 11, 2021.

  • The Flash: Season 7 Premiere – Official Exclusive Clip

In this exclusive clip from the long-awaited Season 7 premiere of The Flash, Barry races against the clock to stop Mirror Master and rescue Iris before his speed permanently runs out. “All’s Well That Ends Wells” will premiere on The CW on Tuesday, March 2.

(4) I, WITNESS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Isaac Asimov’s autobiography In Joy Still Felt, published in 1980, offers his explanation of fanzines and fandom in 1955.  (I’ve omitted the details of the fan feud he was involved in.)

Fan magazines are produced by fans and exist, literally, in the hundreds.  All but a very few are evanescent and exist for only a few issues before the time and the costs become insupportable.

I have no theoretical objection to write an occasional piece for love, but I have always steered clear of the fan magazines. There are so many that to write for one will mark you down as a target for the others and you will be nibbled to death…

…Though I had been an almost lifelong reader of science fiction, though I had written letters to magazines, though I had even involved myself with the Futurians, I had never immersed myself in what was called ‘fandom.’

I had no experience whatsoever with the ferocious single-mindedness with which this handful of people lived their science fiction.  They interpreted literally among us the catchphrase that ‘Fandom is a way of life.’

What ever these enthusiasts could earn in their work they invested in their collections, or in their fan magazines. Their time was entirely devoted to their correspondence and to their meetings. Often, in fact, their fan activities crowded out the basis on which it was all founded–for they were so busy being fans of science fiction, they lacked the time to read science fiction.

Fans knew each other, loved each other, hated each other, formed cliques and threatened lawsuits, and, in short, formed a small subculture to which everything else in the world seemed alien and of no account.

News spread through fandom at the speed of light, even though it might never so much touch the world outside  Any controversy involving fandom or the fan world elicited a joyful response at once as a vast number of fans (well, dozens anyway) plunged into the fray–on either side, it didn’t matter which.

(5) OLD BIRDBATH. And speaking of Fifties fandom…I Remember Me and Other Narratives – Walt Willis in Mimosa compiled by Rich Lynch is now available at Fanac.org. Includes this passage about a 1954 exchange between Willis and then-fanzine-editor Harlan Ellison.

….I did, however, get a letter from Harlan Ellison, about a phone call he made to me, an enterprise which was slightly handicapped by the fact that I didn’t have a phone at the time. He got my father’s house, which was a block away, and my sister didn’t come and get me because it was raining.

[From Ellison’s letter] “To say I’m merely angry or hurt would be a gross understatement. I’m completely devastated. You sent me ‘Mike Hammer at the Philcon,’ and I sent it out to be illustrated. Sure, it took me a year to get to it, but I was suspended with college work. Now when I have it on stencil and run off and announced as in the next issue with illos by Nasman Peterson, I pick up Mari Wolf’s column and see Space Times has already pubbed it. I’m really in a mess with the thing, and personally I think it was both poor taste on your part and a gross injustice not to at least write and tell me what had happened, before you sent a carbon to anyone else…”

I replied as follows. “Dear Harlan, Come now, old Birdbath. In the first place, how do you expect me to know you wanted the MS if you didn’t even acknowledge it? You wrote several times asking me to do something for you, but when I did send it there wasn’t another peep out of you. In fact, you folded your fanzine, retired from fandom, and changed your address. Not that I thought all this was on account of the MS, but in the absence of any acknowledgement or mention of it in any of your blurbs except the last one, how was I to know you were going to publish it?… Chuck Harris was staying with me at the time. The mail had just arrived, he had got five letters and there were none for me, and he was pulling my leg about my fan status having declined. Then my sister came round with the news that there had been a phone call from a Mr. Ellison of Ohio. Thanks, pal. All the best. Walter.”

This was at a time when transatlantic phone calls were almost unheard of in fandom. My recollection is that Chuck asked me, did I often get phone calls from American fans, and I said, “Only when it’s something important.”

(6) STRONACH INTERVIEWS LUCAS. In “An interview with Casey Lucas, moments before the avalanche hits” at The Spinoff, Alexander Stronach interviews the person he’s been friends with the longest, a Wellington science fiction and fantasy writer on the brink of world domination. (Alexander Stronach is Sasha Stronach, 2020 Sir Julius Vogel Winner for Best Novel, and Casey Lucas is the winner of the 2020 Sir Julius Vogel Award for Best Short Story.)

…Casey Lucas is a Swiss army knife. Casey Lucas is six feet tall and extremely bisexual. Casey Lucas is back from the dead (again). Casey Lucas is – finally, after years of dedication and hard work – on the cusp of very big things.

In the last year she’s won one of New Zealand’s highest honours for science fiction and fantasy writing, she’s worked on the wildly popular games Mini Metro and Mini Motorways, she’s run a workshop at Clarion West (possibly the most prestigious SF/F workshop in the world), she’s edited 30 graphic novels, she’s been hired to work on the next block of collectible card game Magic: the Gathering, and now her post-apocalyptic fungal fantasy web serial Into the Mire has picked up a prestigious international agent and is poised to go out to publishers.

Casey Lucas is, for lack of a better word, utterly singular, and today I’m getting deep in the weeds with her about success, trauma, M*A*S*H, and the impossible vastness of stone.

Alex Stronach: So you’re an “overnight success” now. What’s the spell look like? Who do I gotta kill? 

Casey Lucas: Success in publishing is like an avalanche. You only see the snow rushing at you, but it took millions of exhausting years and lots of earthquakes for that mountain to yank itself up out of the sea, and you don’t get the avalanche without a mountain for it to roll down….

(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

February 28, 1993 — On this date in 1993, Journey to the Center of the Earth first aired on NBC. It was intended as the pilot for a series but that never happened. It’s based on the novel of the same by Jules Verne. It is one of at least seven adaptations of the Verne novel to date so far. It was by William Dear from the screenplay by David Evans and William Gunter. It starred David Dundara, Farrah Forke, Tim Russ, Jeffrey Nordling and John Neville. No, it was not well received by the audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes where it has a rating of just eighteen percent. And Screen Rant dubbed it the worst adaptation of the novel ever done.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born February 28, 1820 – Sir John Tenniel.  Had he only illustrated Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, it would have been enough for us.  He also illustrated an edition of the Ingoldsby Legends – so well known in the U.K. that Dorothy L. Sayers has Lord Peter Wimsey quoting them as late as Five Red Herrings (1931) and The Nine Tailors (1934).  JT drew 2,300 cartoons for Punch.  His knighthood (1893) was the first ever given to an illustrator.  (Died 1914) [JH]
  • Born February 28, 1875 – Maurice Renard.  Pioneering SF writer (d’accord, honors to Rosny aîné).  MR’s Dr. Lerne (1908) was a great Mad Scientist.  The Blue Peril is a decade earlier than The Book of the Damned and, I dare say it, kinder.  The Man Who Wanted to Be Invisible doesn’t “ruin” The Invisible Man – MR dedicated Le docteur Lerne to Wells – but faces, you should pardon the expression, the optics.  Half a dozen novels, ninety shorter stories.  (Died 1939) [JH]
  • Born February 28, 1913 John Coleman Burroughs. An illustrator known for his illustrations of the works of his father, Edgar Rice Burroughs. At age 23, he was given the chance to illustrate his father’s book, The Oakdale Affair and the Rider which was published in 1937. He went on to illustrate all of  his father’s books published during the author’s lifetime — a total of over 125 illustrations.  He also illustrated the John Carter Sunday newspaper strip, a David Innes of Pellucidar comic book feature and myriad Big Little Book covers. I remember the latter books — they were always to be found about the house during my childhood. (Died 1979.) (CE)
  • Born February 28, 1928 Walter Tevis. Author of The Man Who Fell to Earth which became the basis of the film of the same name starring David Bowie. There’s apparently a series planned off it. He also two other SF novels, The Steps of The Sun and Mockingbird. All of his work is available from the usual digital sources. (Died 1984.) (CE) 
  • Born February 28, 1942 Terry Jones. Member of Monty Python who was considered the originator of the program’s structure in which sketches flowed from one to the next without the use of punchlines. He made his directorial debut with Monty Python and the Holy Grail, which he co-directed with Gilliam, and also directed Life of Brian and The Meaning of Life. He also wrote an early draft of Jim Henson’s 1986 film Labyrinth, though little of that draft remains in the final version. (Died 2020.) (CE) 
  • Born February 28, 1946 – Leanne Frahm, age 75.  Two Ditmars as Best Fanwriter; two others, and an Aurealis, for fiction.  Seen in SF Commentary (and The Metaphysical Review); Souvenir Book for Aussiecon Three the 57th Worldcon – the year Greg Benford said “Certainly, thank you.  Are you inviting me to be Fan Guest of Honor or Pro Guest of Honor?”  Two dozen short stories (one with Terry Carr! anthologized in Stellar 7; another in TC’s Universe 13).  [JH]
  • Born February 28, 1948 – Donna Jo Napoli, Ph.D., age 73.  Fourscore novels – opinions may differ on what under “children’s” we should count.  Writes for us when not too busy as a linguist, she’s a professor at Swarthmore.  Arabian Nights, Egyptian, Greek, Norse tales for National Geographic.  Golden Kite Award, Sydney Taylor Award, Parents’ Choice Gold and Silver Awards.  Bimodal videobooks which hearing parents can read – I don’t know what else to call it – to deaf children.  [JH]
  • Born February 28, 1957 John Barnes, 64. I read and really liked the four novels in his Thousand Cultures series which are a sort of updated Heinleinian take on the spread of humanity across the Galaxy. What else by him do y’all like? He’s decently stocked by the usual digital suspects. (CE)
  • Born February 28, 1977 Chris Wooding, 44. If you read nothing else by him, do read the four novel series that is the steampunkish Tales of the Ketty Jay. Simply wonderful. The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray plays off the Cthulhu Mythos that certain folk don’t think exist and does a damn fine job of doing so. (CE)
  • Born February 28, 1977 – J.T. Petty, age 44.  Four novels, as many shorter stories, for us; others too.  Motion pictures, videogames.  Interviewed in Lightspeed.  [JH]
  • Born February 28, 1980 – Gareth Worthington, Ph.D., age 41.  Endocrinologist who’s given us six novels.  Studied Jeet Kune Do, which as I understand is the best ever if you happen to be Bruce Lee – no blame, great sages keep telling us It’s simple, see?  Has read Moby-Dick and A Brief History of Time.  [JH]

(9) TRIVIAL TRIVIA.

Dr. Seuss is credited with inventing the word “nerd,” which first appeared in ‘If I Ran the Zoo’ in 1950. Source: Parade Magazine

(10) VOICE FROM THE PAST. NPR reprised a 2000 interview with the author — “Stephen King: The ‘Craft’ Of Writing Horror Stories”.

In an interview on Fresh Air, King described his life-changing accident to Terry Gross but said it didn’t change the way he approached his writing….

On the nurses who took care of him

“You know, they’d all read Misery, and they worked for an outfit called the Bangor Area Visiting Nurses. These are nurses who go into the home and give home care. And I think one of them told me toward the end of the period, where I needed full-time nursing, that they had all read it, and they had all been called into the office by their superior and told in no uncertain terms, ‘You don’t make any Misery jokes.'”

Includes an excerpt from King’s book On Writing with this quote:

…Asteroid Miners (which wasn’t the title, but that’s close enough) was an important book in my life as a reader. Almost everyone can remember losing his or her virginity, and most writers can remember the first book he/she put down thinking: I can do better than this. Hell, I am doing better than this!

What could be more encouraging to the struggling writer than to realize his/her work is unquestionably better than that of someone who actually got paid for his/her stuff?

(11) NAVIGATING TREK NOVELS. The Trek Collective has “Star Trek novel updates: First Coda blurbs, details of next DS9 novel, and audiobook covers”. A forthcoming trilogy is supposed to tie everything together.

More Star Trek novel news! Following the recent reveal of the 2021 line-up of Star Trek novels, Simon and Schuster have now updated their Online Catalog with blurbs for the books coming towards the end of the year, including the first details of the Coda trilogy. Continue below for all the details.

The Coda trilogy is set to tie-up the reality of the Star Trek litverse which has been told over the last couple of decades, but was alas shunted into an alternate timeline by the new canon events of Picard. All three of the new blurbs start with the following intro, which confirms we are getting one last enormous TNG/DS9/Titan/Aventine crossover:

… Temporal Apocalypse!! Blimey. Who is the mysterious old friend, what is the nature of the disaster, how will this all mesh the litverse with the canon reality? I cannot wait to find out!

If you have no idea what the litverse is, check out the Almighty Star Trek Lit-Verse Reading Order Flowchart, compiled by Thrawn and I. You’ve got a few months to get caught up on the dozens of books leading up to this epic closing trilogy (though of course if you’re not caught up I’m sure the authors will make sure it’s entirely accessible to new readers too). 

(12) THE CHART. Indeed, the “Almighty Star Trek Lit-Verse Reading Order Flowchart” deserves an item to itself – you should see it! This is the proposed reading order for Star Trek books created by Thrawn and 8of5 for the period between the end of DS9 (1999) and Star Trek: Picard. (There are, of course, a zillion other Trek books outside this timeframe.)

If you’re a bit lost navigating the sometimes complex web of interconnectivity between the various Star Trek novels in the post-finale continuity, this is the resource you need. TrekBBS user Thrawn found a most elegant solution, with his brilliant Star Trek Lit-Verse Reading Order Flowchart. Now (as of 2020) on the version six, Thrawn and I guide you through the world of Star Trek fiction.

Whether you’re a fan of TNGDS9Voyager, or Enterprise the chart below will show how they spin off into New FrontierTitanIKS GorkonVanguard, or Seekers, and crossover into DestinyTyphon PactThe FallMirror Universe, and more; letting you chart your own path through the Trek-litverse. Once you’ve got to grips with the flow chart you might also find some of my lists a useful reference too.

(13) BLACK SWAN? StarTrek.com analyzes “How The Search For Spock Changed the Way Star Trek Got Made”.

There are several pivotal turning points in the production history of Star Trek. Pinning down the most important ones is tricky — is filming of “The Cage” more impactful than casting the second pilot, “Where No Man Has Gone Before?” What about the writing approach in Season 3 of The Next Generation? Which events truly define how Star Trek was made and why? Among the likely candidates, the moment when Leonard Nimoy took over directorial duties for Star Trek III: The Search For Spock tends to be overlooked. One June 1, 1984, The Search For Spock was released, becoming the very first Trek production crafted by one of the actors. And the way Star Trek was created behind-the-scenes would never be the same.

(14) URBAN LEGENDS. “Mars City design: 6 sci-fi cities that will blow your mind” from Inverse.

6. BRADBURY CITY – MARS TRILOGY

There are several fictional cities in Kim Stanely Robinson’s seminal SF books about the settlement of Mars — Red Mars, Green Mars, and Blue Mars — so it’s hard to pick just one. But, if you have to choose only one Martian metropolis from his books, Bradbury City is the way to go.

Named for Ray Bradbury, who wrote The Martian Chronicles, Robinson’s Bradbury City is designed to recreate a city in Illinois. Bradbury was born in Waukegan, Illinois. The Martian Chronicles features several unlikely Martian cities, some made by humans, some made by Martians. But, in almost all cases, like in “Night Meeting,” these towns and cities often have gas stations and pickup trucks.

(15) YOUTUBER. Dom Noble reviews “Raybearer ~ An African Inspired Fantasy Novel”.

(16) IT HAPPENED TO HIM, TOO? “Kevin Feige Panicking After Mom Throws Out $3.6 Billion Worth Of Superhero Crap” in The Onion. (Too short to excerpt – but I don’t need to talk anyone into reading The Onion, do I?

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “The Underground Comix Movement” on YouTube is an introduction to the great independent comix creators of the late 1960s, including S. Clay Wilson, Peter Bagge, and Gilbert Shelton.

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, Ben Bird Person, John Hertz, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Rich Lynch, Michael J. Walsh, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Jennifer Hawthorne, Mike Kennedy, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Anna Nimmhaus.]

SFWA Names the 2021 Guest Editors for The Bulletin

Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Inc. (SFWA) announced today Sascha Stronach and Yilin Wang will be The Bulletin guest editors in 2021. Stronach will guest edit Issue #218, slated for September 2021, and Wang will guest edit Issue #219, slated for December 2021. L.D. Lewis was the first guest editor for The Bulletin, helming Issue #215, which was published in Fall 2020.

SFWA Editor-in-Chief Michi Trota said, “I’ve admired Sascha’s and Yilin’s work in SF/F and am excited they’ll be bringing their unique visions and perspectives to shape their issues of The Bulletin.”

Sascha Stronach is an author, editor, and poet based in P?neke, New Zealand. They are of Greek and K?i Tahu M?ori descent and also probably a little goblin. After training in bareknuckle underground web fiction deathmatches for close to a decade, they released their debut novel The Dawnhounds, which is about LGBT+ warlock pirates fighting the cops and won the 2020 Sir Julius Vogel Award for Best Novel. In their spare time, they can be found in the woods creating bizarre aggregates of sticks and dirt that hum with strange possibility. 

Stronach said, “I’m excited to be a guest editor for The Bulletin. One thing that’s always struck me about SFFH is how we care for each other, how willing we are to provide guidance and support. The publication [industry] (such a slow beast!) can often feel like an antique, but their slower pace is their strength: they allow for depth and reflection, they have a permanence and weight that’s vital to the sort of discussions writers, new and old, need to keep our blades sharp. I’ve benefited from them for years, and I’m honoured to help shepherd them into the world. Let’s make this a celebration of diversity, insight, and craft.”

Yilin Wang is a writer, editor, and Chinese–English translator. Her writing has appeared in ClarkesworldThe Malahat ReviewGrainCV2carte blancheThe Toronto StarThe Tyee, and elsewhere. She has been longlisted for the CBC Poetry Prize, a finalist for the Far Horizons Award for Short Fiction, and longlisted for the Peter Hinchcliffe Short Fiction Award. Her translations have appeared or are forthcoming in PathlightSamovarLiving Hyphen, and The Temz Review, while her research on martial arts fiction has been featured on various gaming podcasts. She is a member of the Clarion West Writers Workshop 2020 and a former assistant editor for Room Magazine.

“I am very excited for this chance to work with Michi Trota and the team at SFWA as a guest editor for The Bulletin,” Wang added. “In this position, I hope to solicit writing from underrepresented voices on a range of topics such as international science fiction and fantasy translation, and game writing. I really look forward to working on this issue and to sharing it with readers.”

SFWA President, Mary Robinette Kowal said, “Sascha Stronach and Yilin Wang are brilliant and insightful people. I’m so pleased they’ll be leading these issues of The Bulletin in 2021.”

[Based on a press release.]

Pixel Scroll 8/9/20 Pixel The Scroll That Makes You Happy

(1) NEW NINTH DOCTOR STORIES COMING FROM BIG FINISH. Christopher Eccleston has finally come around to playing the Doctor again announces BBC Studios.

Big Finish Productions, in association with BBC Studios announces the long-awaited return of Christopher Eccleston as the Ninth Doctor.

First seen on screen in 2005, Christopher Eccleston’s Ninth Doctor introduced a whole new generation of fans to Doctor Who.

Now he’s back, with a brand-new series of twelve fantastic full-cast audio adventures in space and time, due to be released across four box sets, starting with volume one in May 2021.

Christopher Eccleston said: “After 15 years it will be exciting to revisit the Ninth Doctor’s world, bringing back to life a character I love playing.”

Big Finish’s own press release hints at how Eccleston was won over (even after turning down Steven Moffat’s attempt to get him for the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who).

Big Finish’s Chairman, Jason Haigh-Ellery said: “I first talked to Christopher about returning to the role of the Doctor at the Gallifrey One convention in February this year. Christopher said he was enjoying meeting the fans and was pleased that his Doctor was remembered so fondly.  He indicated he would be open to discussing a project with Big Finish. 

“And then the pandemic happened and time moved both quickly and very slowly. Over recent months, ideas have been exchanged and discussions had. I am so pleased that Christopher has decided to return to the role with us – and I’m excited to welcome him to the Big Finish family as we discover the new adventures of the Ninth Doctor.” 

(2) SCARY GOOD. On the Horror Writers Association blog: “HWA Poetry Showcase Featured Poets” features a Q&A with Sarah Read, K.P. Kulski, and Sarah Tantlinger.

(3) WHERE TO FIND THEM. James W. Harris has been working on analysis and comparison of lists of the “great works” of SFF for several years. This week, while everyone else is busy damning the canon, he posted about the optimal solution for acquiring all the greatest sff stories in as few anthologies as possible. “The SF Anthology Problem – Solved” at Classics of Science Fiction.

Two years ago when we completed version 1 of The Classics of Science Fiction Short Story list I proposed a math challenge. Version 1 came up with 275 stories. I asked if there was any mathematically way to decide what were the fewest anthologies that contained all 275 stories using ISFDB.org as a reference database. Version 1 was generated using .csv files. Since then we updated the process to a database for version 2 of the list, which produced 101 stories — we believe that was a more practical reading list.

A science fiction fan could read the entire list over the summer by reading one story a day, or in a year by reading one story every three days, but where would they get the 101 science fiction short stories?…

(4) INSIDE THE LID. Alasdair Stuart’s“The Full Lid for 7th August 2020”processes his experiences with the virtual CoNZealand.

…To all the CoNZealand volunteers: I see you. I see your hard work. Thank you.

The issues being raised by our community this week are with the structure you inherited and were bound by. None of that is the fault of volunteers, acting with minimal resources, time, communication and support.

My intention here is to report my own experiences and do so honestly. There are things that have to be done to make this experience better for everyone. My hope is my experiences can help with that.

It includes a segment evaluating the successes and criticisms of CoNZealand Fringe.

(5) A THING OF BEAUTY. The Astounding Award.

(6) RESTART TREK. All those Star Trek movies you’ve read about being developed in the past couple of years? You might not be hearing about some of them any more. Mike Fleming Jr., in the Deadline story “Emma Watts’ Top Priority At Paramount: Figure Out ‘Star Trek’ Reboot” says that Paramount CEO Watts has shelved all existing scripts for the fourth Star Trek movie, including one with Noah Hawley as writer/director, one with Mark L. Smith as writer and Quentin Tarantino as director, and one with S.J. Clarkson as director that would have had Chris Hemsworth play Chris Pine’s father.  But since Star Trek is a “monster franchise” for Paramount so Star Trek 4 will get made.

…What we’re hearing is that both the [Noah] Hawley pic — which calls for a new cast and might be about a deadly virus which might feel awkward given current circumstance — and the [Mark L.] Smith version — [Quentin] Tarantino dropped out as director, but the project is still viable based on an episode of the classic Star Trek series that takes place largely earthbound in a 30s gangster setting — might serve the franchise best as Logan-like spinoffs when the core franchise has been revitalized. But that the other one might have the cleanest path toward a relaunch, with an emphasis on boosting overseas gross numbers which have never been the franchise’s strong suit. These decisions will take place over the next few weeks.

(7) A GEM IN WAITING. ScreenRant’s Crag Elvy pooh-pooh’s the idea of a Silmarillion adaptation, but doesn’t go so far as to whinny a big horse laugh at it: “Lord of the Rings: Why A Silmarillion Movie Wouldn’t Work”.

But just because The Silmarillion could be turned into a feature-length film, that doesn’t necessary mean it should be. The book offers a fascinating insight into Middle-earth’s long history, adding context to the events of The Lord of the Rings and widening the lore in fascinating and organic ways. Arguably, there are events in The Silmarillion that eclipse anything in Tolkien’s more famous books in terms of importance. However, The Silmarillion is not a conventional novel in the same style as The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings. There is no central protagonist, while the narrative spans many eras of time and vast expanses of geography. Moreover, The Silmarillion reads more like a religious text or a history textbook (albeit an infinitely more interesting one) than a story with a clear beginning, middle and end. Telling the same sort of heroic tale movie fans are used to would be a tough ask from The Silmarillion‘s source material, as would constructing one complete start-to-finish narrative suitable for mainstream cinema.

(8) BEYOND THE PANDEMIC. ConTamination2020,  “An online convention using Science Fiction & Science to explore pandemics and the long-term future of humanity,” will be held September 12-13, 2020, between 1p.m.-9p.m. GMT+1. The con is being organized by a small group of volunteers interested in using speculative fiction to explore the future of humanity after COVID-19, led by Vivienne Raper, Kat Kourbeti, and Catrin Osborne. Follow them on Twitter here.  

To avoid stepping on any toes, we’ve narrowed the focus of ConTamination to be a science-meets-speculative-fiction convention. Our aim is to tackle the big questions that many of us are asking about the future, and our place as science fiction and fantasy fans within it.

They’re looking for volunteers – if you’re interested, click on the “ConTamination 2020 Volunteer Interest Form”.

In a time of social distancing and home isolation, how about we all get together to talk books, pandemics, and the social impact this current evolving crisis will have worldwide, in both science and literature?

We still have open slots for panels so if you are interested in speaking and have a topic in mind that relates to any of the theme strands of the convention (science, fiction, or social change – where it relates to pandemics and the way we are dealing with the current pandemic), however remotely, do reach out and let us know your thoughts.

(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • August 9, 1996John Carpenter’s Escape from L.A. as it was stylized on screen premiered. The sequel to Escape from New York, it was co-written, co-scored, and directed by John Carpenter, co-written and produced by Debra Hill and Kurt Russell, with Russell again starring as Snake Plissken. It also co-stars Steve Buscemi, Stacy Keach, Bruce Campbell, and Pam Grier.  Reception was definitely mixed. With most critics thinking the script was uneven, the film bombed at the box office, and audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a 39% rating.  Carpenter has said that, “Escape from L.A. is better than the first movie. Ten times better.” (CE)

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born August 9, 1899 – P.L. Travers.  Four novels, two shorter stories and a cookbook about Mary Poppins; other novels, poetry, nonfiction.  Also had a career as an actress; parents disapproved, thus “Pamela Travers”.  First two MP books unsurpassed, perhaps unequaled.  Translated into Italian, Japanese, Polish, Romanian, Russian.  Never happy with the Disney version though it made her rich; “It’s glamourous and a good film on its own level, but I don’t think it’s very like my books.”  (Died 1996) [JH]
  • Born August 9, 1908 – Joan Kiddell-Monroe.  Author and illustrator, famous for children’s books.  Oxford Myths & Legends (i.e. Oxf. Univ. Press).  Muriel Levy’s six Adventures of Wonk.  Four of her own In His Little Black Waistcoat about a panda.  Aesop’s Fables.  Arabian Nights.  Here is “The Exploits of Hanuman”.  Here is Queen Amata singing of Turnus and Lavinia from The Aeneid.  Here is a cover for The Magic Bed-Knob.  (Died 1972) [JH]
  • Born August 9, 1914 Tove Jansson. Swedish-speaking Finnish artist wrote the Moomin books for children, starting in 1945 with Småtrollen och den stora översvämninge (The Moomins and the Great Flood). Over the next decades, there would a total of nineteen books. Currently Moominvalley, the new animated series is playing, on Netflix. And Terry Pratchett in “My family and other Moomins: Rhianna Pratchett on her father’s love for Tove Jansson” credits her for him becoming a fiction writer. (Died 2001.) (CE)
  • Born August 9, 1920 – Jack Speer.  Pioneer of fanhistory with Up to Now (1939) and what we now know as Fancyclopedia I (1944).  Introduced mailing comments, i.e. on others’ contributions in mailings, or distributions, of amateur publishing associations, thus ancestor of blog postings.  His SF Song Sheet at Chicon I (2nd Worldcon) was the ancestor of filk music; the costume party he and Milt Rothman suggested was the ancestor of the spectacular on-stage contest we call the Masquerade.  Fancestral Voices collects his fanwriting.  When in my fanzine Vanamonde I misspelled the famous typo poctsarcd he promptly wrote back “Nothing is sacrd.”  (Died 2008) [JH]
  • Born August 9, 1941 – Jamila Gavin, F.R.S.L., 79.  Her Indian father and English mother met in Iran; she calls herself half and half.  The Wheel of Surya, two sequels, follow two generations of Indian Sikhs; The Magic Orange TreeThree Indian Goddesses and Three Indian Princesses are short stories from Indian legends; she is also a patroness of the Shakespeare Schools Festival.  Two novels, a score of shorter stories, for us; twoscore more books (e.g. Coram Boy about the 18th Century foundling hospital established by Thomas Coram; Whitbread Prize).  Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.  [JH]
  • Born August 9, 1944 Sam Elliott, 76. Weirdly the source for this Birthday thought he’d only been in one genre role, General Thaddeus E. “Thunderbolt” Ross in the 2003 Hulk film, but he’s got many other roles as well. His first was Duke in Westworld followed by being Luke Peck in Time Bandits, Flik Whistler in The Thing and Lock in The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension. He’s the Phantom Rider in Ghost Rider and Lee Scoresby in The Golden Compass. His latest genre is as the lead in The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot. (CE) 
  • Born August 9, 1947 John Varley, 73. One of those authors that I’ve been meaning to read more of. I read both The Ophiuchi Hotline and Titan, the first novels respectively in his Eight Worlds and the Gaea Trilogy series, but didn’t go further. (See books, too many to read.) If you’ve read beyond the first novels, how are they as series? Worth pursuing now? (CE)
  • Born August 9, 1949 Jonathan Kellerman, 71. Author of two novels so far in the Jacob Lev series (co-authored with Jesse Kellerman), The Golem of Hollywood and The Golem of Paris. I’ve read the first — it was quite excellent with superb characters and an original premise. Not for the squeamish mind you. (CE)
  • Born August 9, 1953 – Jim Theis.  To him is attributed The Eye of Argon, said to be from 1970 when the author was 17 (maybe 16 when he wrote it).  For two decades he has been subject to De mortuis nil nisi bonum (Latin, “Of the dead, say nothing but good”, various reasons e.g. they cannot defend themselves), to which the reply may be that we are speaking not of him but of his Eye, or that it’s so bad it’s —  anyway, see here.  (Died 2002) [JH]
  • Born August 9, 1956 Adam Nimoy, 64. Son of the Leonard Nimoy and the actress Sandra Zober. His wife is Terry Farrell.  He’s directed episodes of Babylon 5Next GenerationThe Outer Limits (he directed his father in the “I, Robot” episode, and Sliders. He’s responsible for For the Love of Spock, the documentary about his father. (CE)
  • Born August 9, 1970 – Thomas Lennon, 50.  Actor, screenwriter, producer-director, guitarist.  Played Eddie the Shipboard Computer in the 2005 film of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Mr. Mxyzptlk in Supergirl on CW television this year.  Two novels for us; the first, Ronan Boyle and the Bridge of Riddles, was a NY Times Best Seller.  [JH]

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • Candorville calls into a Trekkie talk show.
  • Prickly City wonders if Earthmen should stay home.
  • Non Sequitur says these complaints have been valid for a long while.
  • Another Non Sequitur has the “true reason” these species missed Noah’s Ark.

(12) THE UPSIDE OF THE PANDEMIC. Sir Julius Vogel Best Novel winner Sascha Stronach thinks, “One of the few saving graces of this year’s worldcon is that we didn’t end up having to host all these very important writers in TSB Arena, the worst events venue in New Zealand.” Thread starts here.

(13) FIRST THINGS FIRST. NPR’s Jessica P. Wick says “‘The First Sister’ Is Stylish, Substantial — And Very Cool — Space Opera”.

Linden A. Lewis’s debut novel The First Sister (book one in a trilogy of the same name) is a lot of fun, as stylish as it is substantial. Would you like your space opera with the social commentary and swaggery cool of Alexandre Dumas, with a dash of Cowboy Bebop and some awesome queer characters? Are you interested in political maneuverings and space economics, fantastically rich worldbuilding and sneaky spy stories? Read on. First Sister might be just the book you’ve been waiting for.

(14) IT’S IN THE CARDS. In The Washington Post Magazine, Gavin Edwards went to the 2019 Magic: The Gathering Mythic Championship in Richmond to profile players able to compete at a level where they can win serious money.  He note that nearly all of the top Magic:  The Gathering players are men, but Jessica Estephan, the first woman to win a Magic Grand Prix tournament, says that rather than two or three women at a big tournament, “I need more than two hands” to count the women competing, “and that just blows my mind and I love it.” “Strange Magic”.

The best Magic players have their games broadcast on Twitch with up to 30,000 people watching at once and up to 750,000 sampling the tournament at some point.

…After Lee gathered his cards and departed, Nettles told me quietly, “He’s a high-profile player, a Hall of Fame guy. I’m a tier below.” (Magic does have an official Hall of Fame, honoring 48 of its greatest competitors.) Nettles had played enough matches against the world’s best Magic players to assess his abilities vs. theirs: “I make a mistake in three percent of the games, they might make a mistake in one percent, and that’s the difference in a tournament.” One minute you’re a hero; the next minute, you’re a goat. Or in this case, an elk.

In 2019, Wizards provided 32 top players with sponsorship contracts worth $75,000 and, almost as important, gave them automatic invitations to major tournaments. Nettles wasn’t in that tier, but he had played well enough at Magic tournaments to get a sponsorship from a company that makes protective card sleeves, allowing him to play the game for a living.

(15) AARGHONOMICS. “The pandemic has put video game equipment in unusually high demand. The gaming chair is ascendant,” declares the New York Times: “This Is Not a Desk Chair”. (It is also not the chair John Scalzi recently bought. I checked.)

In a rented home on a sunny street in Los Angeles, a team of professional gamers sat hunched over in swivel chairs while a pair of ergonomic specialists observed their posture, asked questions and took notes.

The gamers reported pain in their necks, their lower backs, their hips, wrists and shoulders. Carpal tunnel was a common complaint. Most of them were not yet 20.

Over several days in May 2018, specialists who had come from Herman Miller, the modern furniture company, and Logitech, the computer accessory and software manufacturer, watched professional teams practice in their training facilities (often large homes they shared with teammates) and play in a tournament.

They noticed how the gamers gripped their toes on the bases of their chairs to support their bodies, how they would incline forward when they played and how, in their downtime, they would exhibit what Herman Miller personnel dubbed “the teenage slouch.”

“We’re over 50, we don’t know anything about gaming,” said John Aldrich, the vice president of advanced engineering at Herman Miller, which is best known for its Eames lounge chair and mid-century modern furniture. “Watching multimillionaire 19-year-olds playing games was not what I expected to do with my career.”

Perhaps not, but Mr. Aldrich has devoted much of his professional life to ergonomic design, an area of relevance to anyone who sits for extended periods of time, as gamers do. And many players gravitate toward models that resemble chunkier, aggressively colorful office chairs….

(16) DON”T FORGET TO CONSERVE YOUR ENERGY. Fanac.org has posted a recording of a talk given at Boskone 5 (1968): “Larry Niven: The Theory and Practice of Teleportation.” We didn’t have YouTube in Ye Olde Days, so this material was still all new to me when Niven reprised it at a convention I attended a few years later.

In this audio recording (illustrated with dozens of images), Larry Niven gives a delightful talk on the effects of teleportation on a society. Five years before his “Flash Crowd” was published, this recording is a grand exposition of what goes on in this author’s mind as he works out the impact of new technology. “The limitations you assume for your teleportation are going to define your society.” Isaac Asimov (and a number of other audience members) challenge Larry with questions and suggestions. There’s even a chalkboard talk (which you can follow from the audio). The program provides a very entertaining and complete logical framework for thinking about the problems and advantages of different implementations of mechanical teleportation, with the eager participation of the engineers in the audience.

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