Pixel Scroll 5/15/22 The Arc Of The Moral Universe Is Long, But It Scrolls Toward Pixels

(1) TIME IS FLEETING. The SFWA Silent Auction ends tomorrow at noon. Organizer Jason Sanford says, “In particular you and your File 770 readers might get a kick out of seeing the original Munchkin card in the auction, which I think is amazing and is shown in the press release. Also, the auction has up for bid original, first edition hardback copies of Green Hills of Earth and Revolt in 2100 by Robert A. Heinlein from the early 1950s — both of which are signed by Heinlein! I’m a little frustrated that more people haven’t noticed these two rare, signed copies of his books from the Golden Age of SF.”

Specifically, these are the links to the two books Jason pointed out: Green Hills of Earth by Robert A. Heinlein, an autographed Shasta hardcover first edition (1951; no jacket); and Revolt in 2100 by Robert A. Heinlein an autographed Shasta hardcover first edition (1953; no jacket). Both books include a chart of Heinlein’s Future History on a flyleaf.

(2) BRITISH FANTASY AWARDS SEEK NOMINATIONS. The British Fantasy Society is taking nominations for the British Fantasy Awards 2022. You can vote in the BFAs if you are any of the following: A member of the British Fantasy Society; An attendee at FantasyCon 2021; or A ticket-holder for FantasyCon 2022. The voting form is here. Voting will remain open until Sunday May 29, 2022.

Voters may list up to three titles in each category. A crowdsourced list of suggestions has been created here. You may vote for titles not on the suggestions list. Further guidance on the eligibility criteria for each category can be found here.

The four titles or names with the highest number of recommendations in each category will make the shortlist.

(3) ALERT THE MEDIA. “David Tennant and Catherine Tate returning to Doctor Who in 2023” reports Radio Times.

After plenty of rumours and red herrings, the BBC has confirmed the shock news that former Doctor Who stars David Tennant and Catherine Tate are returning to the long-running sci-fi drama, over 12 years after they originally handed in their TARDIS keys and just a week after Sex Education’s Ncuti Gatwa was announced as the new star of the series (taking over from current Doctor Jodie Whittaker).

As the time-travelling Tenth Doctor and Donna Noble, the pair presided over a popular and critically-acclaimed era for Doctor Who still fondly remembered by fans. And now, according to the BBC, they are set to reunite with screenwriter Russell T Davies to film new “scenes that are due to air in 2023”, coinciding with Doctor Who’s 60th anniversary celebrations.

…It could be that these scenes are little more than a cameo, or they could be a major comeback. For now, they’re keeping it all a bit mysterious….

(4) NEXT, THE GOOD NEWS. Yesterday’s Scroll ran an item about what was getting axed at CW. Today Variety has published “UPFRONTS 2022: The Full List of New Broadcast Series Orders”, which it will continually update. Here are examples of what different companies are planning to air next season.

KRAPOPOLIS (Fox Entertainment)

Logline: Animated comedy set in mythical ancient Greece, the series centers on a flawed family of humans, gods and monsters that tries to run one of the world’s first cities without killing each other.

QUANTUM LEAP (Universal Television)

A sequel to the original 1989-1993 time-traveling NBC fantasy drama picks up 30 years after Dr. Sam Beckett stepped into the Quantum Leap accelerator and vanished. Now a new team has been assembled to restart the project in the hopes of understanding the mysteries behind the machine and the man who created it.

GOTHAM KNIGHTS (Warner Bros. Television)

Logline: In the wake of Bruce Wayne’s murder, his rebellious adopted son forges an unlikely alliance with the children of Batman’s enemies when they are all framed for killing the Caped Crusader.

THE WINCHESTERS (Warner Bros. Television/CBS Studios)

Logline: This prequel to “Supernatural” tells the untold love story of how John and Mary Winchester met and put it all on the line to not only save their love, but the entire world.

(5) ANOTHER INTERPRETATION. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times behind a paywall, Nilanjana Roy discusses feminist retellings of classic myths.

In her debut novel Kaikeyi published this month, Chicago-based writer Vaishnavi Patel dramatically reframes a story from the great Hindu epic The Ramayana, of Queen Kaikeyo who demands that her husband King Dashrath exile her stepson, the young man-god Rama. ‘I wanted to discover what might have caused a celebrated warrior and beloved queen to tear her family apart,’ Patel writes in her introduction.

Like Patel, many are interested in questioning the framing of mythical women as both villains and heroes.  Korean-American writer Axie Oh writes a less submissive protagonist into the legend of Shim Cheong in her young-adult book, The Girl Who Fell Beneath The Sea. In Oh’s version Mina, a village girl, takes the place of Shim Cheong, the dutiful daughter in the legend who sacrifices herself to the sea gods–but her role in the story is a more active one.  ‘My fate is not yours to decide,’ she says.  ‘My fate belongs to me.’

(6) GENRE STAR GILLAN WEDS. “Karen Gillan marries American boyfriend in closely guarded ceremony at castle in Argyll” – the Daily Record has the story.

Avengers star Karen Gillan has wed her American boyfriend in a closely guarded ceremony at a castle in Argyll.

The Inverness-born star tied the knot this afternoon with American comedian Nick Kocher, 36, after jetting back to Scotland for her nuptials.

Some of the A-list guests at the wedding in Castle Toward in Dunoon included fellow action star Robert Downey Jnr and Pretty Woman star Julia Roberts, who were spotted in the town earlier today.

Steven Moffat, who was executive producer of Doctor Who when Karen was Matt Smith’s Tardis companion, was also a guest for her big day.

The 34-year-old, who had kept her engagement to the Saturday Night Live scriptwriter a secret, had chartered a yacht, The Spirit of Fortitude, to take family and friends to the 3.30pm ceremony….

(7) SFF FILLS THE 1953 MAGAZINE STANDS. [Item by Mlex.] James Wallace Harris of the Auxiliary Memory blog & SF Signal, posted a bibliographic essay on the year 1953 for science fiction short stories. “The 1953 SF&F Magazine Boom” at Classics of Science Fiction.

Science fiction in 1953 spoke to a generation and it’s fascinating to think about why. The number of science fiction readers before WWII was so small that it didn’t register in pop culture. The war brought rockets, atomic bombs, computers, and nuclear power. The late 1940s brought UFOs – the flying saucer craze. The 1950s began with science fiction movies and television shows. By 1953, science fiction was a fad bigger than the hula-hoop would ever be, we just never thought of it that way. I do wonder if the fad will ever collapse, but I see no sign it will.

He also posted a related cover gallery of magazine issues from that year at the Internet Archive: “1953 SFF Magazine Covers”.

(8) READING ALOUD. Space Cowboy Books presents the 51st episode of the Simultaneous Times podcast. Stories featured in this episode:

“The Jellyfish from Nullarbor” by Eric Farrell; music by RedBlueBlackSilver; read by Jean-Paul Garnier

“Apotheosis” by Joshua Green; music by Phog Masheeen; read by Jean-Paul Garnier

Theme music by Dain Luscombe

(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

2006 [By Cat Eldridge.] Sixteen years on this date, one of the most unusual strips to come into existence did so in the form of Mark Tatulli’s Liō. It was very easy to market globally as it had almost no dialogue except that spoken by other people in the parodies that I’ll mention in a minute as Liō and the other characters don’t speak at all, and there were no balloons or captions at all again giving it a global appeal. 

Liō, who lives with his father and various monsters, i.e. Ishmael a giant squid and Fido a spider, various animals like Cybil a white cat (of course there’s a cat here, a very pushy feline indeed), aliens, lab creations, and even Liō’s hunchbacked assistant.  Why there’s even Archie, Liō’s psychopathic ventriloquist’s dummy. Liō’s mother is deceased. Though why she’s deceased is never stated. Definitely not your nuclear family here.

An important aspect of the strip is that will riff off other strips, and lots of them: BlondieBloom CountyCalvin and HobbesCathyGarfieldOpusPeanuts, even Pearls Before Swine (not one of my favorite strips I will readily admit) will become fodder for parody by this strip.  That’s where the only dialogue is spoken. 

Currently  the strip which runs daily globally in more than two hundred and fifty papers. 

Tatulli on the Mr. Media podcast back a decade or so said “It’s really a basic concept. It’s just Liō who lives with his father, and that’s basically it, and whatever I come up with. I set no parameters because I didn’t want to lock myself in. I mean, having no dialogue means that there is going to be no dialogue-driven gags, so I have to leave myself as open as possible to any kind of thing, so anything basically can happen.” 

There a transcript of that podcast here as the audio quality of that interview is, as the interviewer admits, rather awful. He got better after that first interview by him. 

In multiple interviews, Tatulli has said the two major contemporary influences on his style are Gahan Wilson and Charles Addams.

And yes, it’s still in existence and offending people as this strip from late last year will demonstrate.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born May 15, 1856 L. Frank Baum. I adore The Wizard of Oz film and I’m betting you know that it only covers about half of the novel which is a very splendid read indeed. I’ll confess that I never read the numerous latter volumes in the Oz franchise, nor have I read anything else by him. Nor have I seen any of the later adaptations of the Oz fiction. What’s the rest of his fiction like?  There is, by the way, an amazing amount of fanfic out here involving Oz and some of it is slash which is a really, really scary idea. (Died 1919.)
  • Born May 15, 1877 William Bowen. His most notable work was The Old Tobacco Shop, a fantasy novel that was one runner-up for the inaugural Newbery Medal in 1922. He also had a long running children’s series with a young girl named Merrimeg whom a narrator told her adventures with all sorts of folkloric beings. (Died 1937.)
  • Born May 15, 1926 Anthony Shaffer. His genre screenplays were Alfred Hitchcock’s Frenzy and Robin Hardy’s The Wicker Man. Though definitely not genre, he wrote the screenplays for a number of most excellent mysteries including the Agatha Christie-based  Evil Under the Sun,Death on the Nile, and Murder on the Orient Express. (Died 2001.)
  • Born May 15, 1948 Brian Eno, 74. Worth noting if only for A Multimedia Album Based on the Complete Text of Robert Sheckley’s In a Land of Clear Colors, though all of his albums have a vague SF feeling  to them such as Music for Civic Recovery CentreJanuary 07003: Bell Studies for the Clock of  The Long Now and Everything That Happens Will Happen Today which could be the name of Culture mind ships. Huh. I wonder if his music will show up in the proposed Culture series?
  • Born May 15, 1955 Lee Horsley, 67. A performer who’s spent a lot of his career in genre undertakings starting with The Sword and the Sorcerer (and its 2010 sequel Tales of an Ancient Empire), horror films Nightmare ManThe Corpse Had a Familiar Face and Dismembered and even a bit of SF in Showdown at Area 51. Not sure where The Face of Fear falls as it has a cop with psychic powers and a serial killer.
  • Born May 15, 1960 Rob Bowman, 62. Producer of such series as Alien NationM.A.N.T.I.S.Quantum LeapNext Generation, and The X-Files. He has directed these films: The X-FilesReign of Fire and Elektra. He directed one or several episodes of far too many genres series to list here.  
  • Born May 15, 1966 Greg Wise, 56. I’m including him solely for being in Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story. It is a film-within-a-film, featuring Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon playing themselves as egotistical actors during the making of a screen adaptation of Laurence Sterne’s 18th century metafictional novel Tristram Shandy. Not genre (maybe) but damn fun. 
  • Born May 15, 1971 Samantha Hunt, 51. If you read nothing else by her, do read The Invention of Everything,  a might be look at the last days in the life of Nikola Tesla. It’s mostly set within the New Yorker Hotel, a great concept. I’m avoiding spoilers naturally. She’s written two other genre novels, Mr. Splitfoot and The Seas, plus a handful of stories. 

(11) BUILDING THE GENRE BRICK BY BRICK. “Lego’s next batch of official unofficial sets go on sale May 17th, and you’ll want to be quick” The Verge tells collectors. (This is the link to the sale: Designer Program 2021 Invitational at BrickLink.) The quotes below were written by the designers.

…A from-the-ground-up rebuild of the original “Bulwark” gunship design of the Space Troopers project, the spaceship you see here is chock full of the developments of a decade’s worth of building, yet remains sturdy and with a chunky simplicity that reminds me of what I’d have loved to play with as a boy. From the rear’s double cargo doors ready to discharge rovers, troops, or scientists on an expedition, to the inner hatch and gunner’s console with its cramped ladder allowing access to the cockpit, the hold is packed with scenes ripe for customization and exploration. Crew bunks and a tiny galley round out the hull, and the off-center cockpit rises up between a sensor array and two massive engines that can rotate up or down for flight.

The sliding cargo doors aren’t just there for show; a sturdy mechanism just behind the wings allows you to attach the two included modules or design your own, dropping them off on some distant planet or opening the doors to allow for use in-flight. Two crimson hardsuits in the classic Space Troopers red are more than just my concession to the strictures of the brick—they’re my homage to the classic sci-fi writers whose tales of adventure on far-off planets and dropships swooping from the sky have shaped my life. Deploying on two rails from a module that locks into place in the dropship’s rear, the suits are chunky, bedecked with pistons and thrusters, and, most importantly, fit a minifigure snugly inside to allow for armored adventures….

…I think around this time I also watched some The Big Bang Theory episodes. During one of these nights I “designed” an observatory made from LEGO bricks in my mind. I really love science and space, and I have never seen an observatory as an official LEGO set. That’s when I thought about building an observatory in real bricks. But I didn’t want to use an IP because that would only be interesting for people who has a connection to the place. I wanted to create a playable observatory that has a unique design. I imagined a building on the top of a mountain and what it would look like. And that’s why I called it “Mountain View.”…

…The Steam Powered Science (previously known as the Exploratorium) is a Steam-Punk themed research facility whose mission is to delve into the mysteries of the universe. One half of the facility is dedicated to researching celestial motion while the other is dedicated to traversing the ocean’s depths. The set was designed as part of the Flight Works Series, a group of Steam-Punk themed submissions on LEGO Ideas….

(12) CHARGE IT! Are Colin Kuskie and Phil Nichols really going to advocate for that most controversial of critics’ notions? To find out you will need to listen to episode 17 of Science Fiction 101, “Canon to the left of me, canon to the right”.

Colin and Phil return, buoyed by the news that Science Fiction 101 has risen to number 6 in Feedspot’s league table of Best UK Sci-Fi Podcasts!

Our main discussion topic the contentious issue of the “canon” of science fiction, triggered by a blog post by Dr Shaun Duke. We also have a movie quiz, and the usual round-up of past/present/future SF.

(13) STRANGE NEW TREK PARAPHERNALIA. TrekCore is pleased to report that after a long wait “QMx Finally Beams Down USS ENTERPRISE Delta Badges”.

More than three years after their initial announcement, QMx has finally brought their Star Trek: Discovery-era USS Enterprise Starfleet delta badges into Earth orbit — just in time for the debut of Captain Pike’s own series, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds.

Originally announced all the way back in February 2019, the metal Starfleet badges were showcased at that year’s Toy Fair expo in New York City… only to shuffle off the horizon, as they’d gone “on hold” by the early part of the next year (as a QMx representative told us at Toy Fair 2020), likely waiting for the then-in-the-works Captain Pike series to be announced to the public….

(14) INGENUITY BEGINNING TO AGE OUT. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter on Mars showed its first sign of approaching old age when it failed to wake on time to “phone home.” After far outlasting its planned life, the approach of winter with shorter days and more dust in the air is beginning to play havoc with its ability to keep a charge on its batteries overnight. “Ingenuity Mars Helicopter Went Silent, Leaving Anxious NASA Team in the Dark” at Gizmodo.

Late last week, NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter managed to reestablish its connection with the Perseverance rover following a brief communications disruption. The space agency says the looming winter is likely responsible and is making adjustments as a result.

On Thursday, Ingenuity—mercifully—sent a signal to Perseverance after the intrepid helicopter missed a scheduled communications session. It marked the first time since the pair landed together on Mars in February 2021 that Ingenuity has missed an appointment, according to NASA.

The team behind the mission believes that Ingenuity had entered into a low-power state to conserve energy, and it did so in response to the charge of its six lithium-ion batteries dropping below a critical threshold. This was likely due to the approaching winter, when more dust appears in the Martian atmosphere and the temperatures get colder. The dust blocks the amount of sunlight that reaches the helicopter’s solar array, which charges its batteries….

(15) BABY TALK. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Baby Yoda showed up on Saturday Night Live’s “Weekend Update” to promote Obi-Wan Kenobi and discuss his questionable new friends.  But don’t ask him about Baby Groot or he’ll get really angry! “Baby Yoda on His Spiritual Awakening”.

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

Pixel Scroll 5/9/22 Listen: There’s A Hell Of A Good Pixel Next Door; Let’s Scroll

(1) RAMBO ACADEMY. Cat Rambo asks:

Want to move from promising rejections to actual acceptances? The Rambo Academy for Wayward Writers offers live and on-demand classes as well as a virtual campus featuring daily co-working sessions, weekly story discussion, and other Zoom-based social events and a Discord server for chatting with other writers and exchanging story critiques.

She has just released the latest round of classes, and people can find details here She will also be adding a Nisi Shawl class on August 25, which will be up on the website as soon as possible). There’s also a giveaway for a live class. “All the June-August Classes, Plus Some Others! And a Delightful Giveaway.”

(2) BLUE WATERS. Variety introduces “’Avatar 2′ Trailer: James Cameron’s Long-Awaited Sequel”.

After 13 years and numerous delays, 20th Century Studios has finally released a glimpse into James Cameron’s “Avatar 2,” due Dec. 16. This marks the long-awaited sequel to the highest-grossing film of all time. The sequel’s official title is “Avatar: The Way of Water.”…

(3) CORA BUHLERT NEWS. Best Fan Writer nominee Cora Buhlert’s Hugo Voter Packet submission is now online as a free download for those who want to check it out or get a headstart on their Hugo reading: 2022 Hugo Voter Packet.

Cora also has been a guest on the Retro Rockets podcast and was interviewed by Andrea Johnson of Little Red Reviewer: “RetroRockets With Cora Buhlert”.

(4) A RIVERDALE UPDATE. [By Martin Morse Wooster.] BEWARE SPOILERS. Riverdale is currently under the control of Percival Pickens, an evil British person who became mayor with the aid of Betty’s mother, Alice Cooper. Pickens has decided he wants Archie and the gang to return overdue library books, and if the characters don’t return an exact copy of the book they checked out decades ago they will have to pay thousands of dollars in fines and possibly serve prison time.  He asks all of the characters to give him something personal as collateral–Archie’s guitar, Betty’s diary.  Jughead offers to give up his signed copy of Don DeLillo’s Underworld, but instead gives a copy of a book written by his grandfather.

Pickens is a sorcerer who uses these personal treasures as tools to control Archie and his friends.  Luckily Jughead uses his internet skills, and fans of Manhattan’s Strand Bookstore will find the Strand is namechecked here. Jughead finds copies of the overdue books, and Pickens returns the items. Cheryl Blossom says the only way to break the spell is for everyone to throw the possessed items in a fire and burn them.

Jughead doesn’t want to burn his grandfather’s book.  “It’s a book and I won’t burn it,” he says. “What would Ray Bradbury say?”

(5) MERRIL COLLECTION PODCAST. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] The new season of the Unknown Worlds of the Merril Collection podcast kicks off with host Oliver Brackenbury discussing sword and sorcery with Brian Murphy: “Sword & Sorcery”.

Upcoming subjects on the Unknown Worlds of the Merril Collection podcast are:

  • Scifi Digests
  • Haunted Houses
  • Norse Mythologies
  • Alternate Histories
  • Graphic Novels
  • Beyond Lovecraft
  • Folklore and the Four Winds Storytellers Library

New episodes drop every two weeks.

(6) LAUNCHING A MAGAZINE. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] On his personal podcast So I’m Writing a Novel, Oliver Brackenbury interviews Nat Webb, who just started a new fantasy magazine: “Founding a Literary Magazine, with Nat Webb”.

Returning champion Nat Webb joins us to discuss his recent founding of a literary magazine, Wyngraf!

Their discussion covers alternate titles for the magazine, defining cozy fantasy & backpack fantasy, conflict in stories and other things that can drive story, writing delicious food scenes, the cozy fantasy scene on Reddit and elsewhere, getting into short stories, his first submission and rejection and what he learned from it all, self-publishing a novel, discovering a love for the technical side of publishing, taking submissions in for the first time, putting one of your own stories in your own magazine, being transparent about the numbers behind your business, paying forward all the writing advice you’ve been given, working with an artist on a cover commission, choosing to pay authors and how much, deciding how often to release new issues, the importance of actually finishing a project, knowing when to stop with a project, Legends and Lattes and other reading recs, refreshing sincerity vs ironic distance, “coffee shop AU” explained, “numbies” explained, how sometimes the thing you bang out quickly resonates with people far more than the thing you slaved over forever, ins and outs of the Kindle Select program, the merits of publishing flash fiction, and more!

(7) JEWISH HERITAGE IN HORROR. The Horror Writers Association blog has posted two more Q&As in one of its thematic interview series:

What has writing taught you about how to express your Jewishness or the experiences you’ve had as someone who is Jewish?

I have been writing about stories for as long as I can remember. As a student, I took many courses analyzing literature, and one thing that always came up was applying a “Jesus” lens to stories. As a kid who grew up in the Jewish tradition, spending 2 days a week at Hebrew school, and having most of my family’s social life revolve around the synagogue, I had to teach myself about Jesus in order to keep up in these classes and add to the discussion. Interestingly, I never thought of this as problematic; it was just the way things had to be, I thought. This is a common issue for those with marginalized identities; systemic oppression means we must conform, and yet we don’t question that we have to.

Do you make a conscious effort to include Jewish characters and themes in your writing and if so, what do you want to portray?

The book I wrote immediately after Bird Box is called Bring Me the Map, and with that one I was thinking in terms of “Jewish horror story.” I was thinking lofty then, that I might write the essential Jewish horror novel, as The Exorcist seems to be that for Catholics. But the book changed organically as it went, and became less about Judaism and more about this family affair, but still, Jewish characters, all. And one of my more recent books, Forever Since Breakfast, is absolutely Jewish-centric. I’m hoping both these books come out soon. And, yes, it was a conscious effort to highlight Jewish characters in both. No doubt. And it felt good to do so. I should probably examine what that means and do it more often.

(8) DELANY IN NYT. [Item by Steven Johnson.] “Samuel R. Delany’s Life in Books” is a feature/interview on Samuel Delany in the New York Times T Magazine, April 24. The quote I liked best: “My library makes me comfortable.” And I do not recall the anecdote about reading Bob Kane Batman comics at a critical age. 

(9) PÉREZ FAREWELL. The New York Times has published its obituary for a famous comics writer and artist: “George Pérez, Who Gave New Life to Wonder Woman, Dies at 67”.

…Mr. Pérez was also at the helm of the 1986 reboot of Wonder Woman, which presented the character, who had originally appeared in 1941, as a new superheroine. His version was younger, and he leaned into the Greek mythology rooted in her origin story.

“Wonder Woman had to rise or fall based on me,” Mr. Pérez said in a telephone interview in December. “It was a great success that gave me an incredible sense of fulfillment.”

His editor on the series, Karen Berger, said in an email, “What set George apart on Wonder Woman was that he really approached the character from a woman’s perspective — I found her relatable and authentic.” Patty Jenkins, the director of the “Wonder Woman” films, cited this version of the character as an influence…

(10) MEMORY LANE.

1973 [By Cat Eldridge.] Forty-nine years ago, Soylent Green was in general distribution in the States. (It had premieres earlier in LA and NYC, respectively, on April 18th and April 19th.) 

The film was directed by Richard Fleischer who had previously directed Fantastic Voyage and Doctor Doolittle, and, yes, the latter is genre. Rather loosely based off of Harry Harrison’s Make Room! Make Room! Novel, it starred Joseph Cotten, Chuck Connors, Charlton Heston, Brock Peters, Edward G. Robinson in his final film role, and Leigh Taylor-Young. 

The term soylent green is not in the novel though the term soylent steaks is. The title of the novel wasn’t used according to the studio on the grounds that it might have confused audiences into thinking it a big-screen version of Make Room for Daddy. Huh? It’s worth noting that Harrison was not involved at all in the film and indeed was was contractually denied control over the screenplay. 

So how was reception at the time? Definitely mixed though Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Tribune liked it: “Richard Fleischer’s ‘Soylent Green’ is a good, solid science-fiction movie, and a little more. It tells the story of New York in the year 2022, when the population has swollen to an unbelievable 80 million, and people live in the streets and line up for their rations of water and Soylent Green.” 

Other were less kind. A.H. Weiler of the New York Times summed it up this way: “We won’t reveal that ingredient but it must be noted that Richard Fleischer’s direction stresses action, not nuances of meaning or characterization. Mr. Robinson is pitiably natural as the realistic, sensitive oldster facing the futility of living in dying surroundings. But Mr. Heston is simply a rough cop chasing standard bad guys. Their 21st-century New York occasionally is frightening but it is rarely convincingly real.“

Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a sixty percent rating. It was nominated for a Hugo at DisCon II, the year Sleeper won.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born May 9, 1920 William Tenn. Clute says in ESF that “From the first, Tenn was one of the genre’s very few genuinely comic, genuinely incisive writers of short fiction, sharper and more mature than Fredric Brown and less self-indulgent in his Satirical take on the modern world than Robert Sheckley.” That pretty sums him up I think.  All of his fiction is collected in two volumes from NESFA Press, Immodest Proposals: The Complete Science Fiction of William Tenn: Volume I and Here Comes Civilization: The Complete Science Fiction of William Tenn: Volume II. He’s very, very well stocked at the usual suspects. (Died 2010.)
  • Born May 9, 1920 Richard Adams. I really loved Watership Down when I read it long ago so will not read it again so the Suck Fairy may not visit it. Are any of the various Watership animated affairs worth seeing? Reasonably sure I’ve read Shardik once but it made no impression one way or the the other.  I have heard good things about Tales from Watership Down and should add it my TBR pile. (Died 2016.)
  • Born May 9, 1925 Kris Ottman Neville. His most famous work, the novella Bettyann, is considered a classic of science fiction by no less than Barry Malzberg who wrote a detailed remembrance in Locus. He wrote four novels according to ISFDB over a rather short period of a decade and a number of short story stories over a longer period. Clute at EoSF says that “He was one of the potentially major writers of Genre SF who never came to speak in his full voice.” (Died 1980.)
  • Born May 9, 1926 Richard Cowper. The Whit Bird of Kinship series is what he’s best remembered for and I’d certainly recommend it as being worth reading.  It appears that all of here are available from the usual digital suspects. (Died 2002.)
  • Born May 9, 1936 Albert Finney. His first genre performance is as Ebenezer Scrooge in Scrooge. That’s followed by being Dewey Wilson in Wolfen, a really deeply disturbing film. He plays Edward Bloom, Sr. In the wonderful Big Fish and voices Finis Everglot in Corpse Bride. He was Kincade in Skyfall. He was Maurice Allington in The Green Man based on Kingsley Amis’ novel of the same name. A deeply strange affair. Oh, and he played Prince Hamlet in Hamlet at the Royal National Theatre way back in the Seventies! (Died 2019.)
  • Born May 9, 1951 Geoff Ryman, 71. His first novel, The Unconquered Country, was winner of the World Fantasy Award and British Science Fiction Association Award. I’m really intrigued that The King’s Last Song is set during the Angkor Wat era and the time after Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge, grim times indeed for an SF novel. And let’s not overlook that The Child Garden which bears the variant title of The Child Garden or A Low Comedy would win the Arthur C. Clarke Award for Best SF Novel. 
  • Born May 9, 1979 Rosario Dawson, 43. First shows as Laura Vasquez in MiB II. Appearances thereafter are myriad with my faves including being the voice of Wonder Woman in the DC animated films, Persephone in Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief and her take as Claire Temple across the entire Netflix Marvel universe. She played Ahsoka Tano on The Book of Boba Fett on Disney + in “From the Desert Comes a Stranger” which has led to her being the lead in upcoming Ahsoka Tano series on the same streaming service. (Editorial comment: I wish I liked the Star Wars universe well enough to subscribe to Disney + to see all of this stuff  but I really don’t.) 

(12) COMICS SECTION.

(13) WHICH IS IT? “Whether you think it’s one of the best sci-fi movies ever or one of the worst, you’re never going to forget it.” An Inverse writer considers the possibilities: “25 years ago, Bruce Willis made the most divisive sci-fi movie ever”.

… The initial response to The Fifth Element, which celebrates its 25th anniversary on May 7th, was divisive. It was recognized just as much at Cannes and the Oscars as it was the Razzies. Even those who appeared in its gleefully insane world have contrasting opinions, with Milla Jovovich hailing it as “one of the last hurrahs of epic filmmaking” and Gary Oldman admitting he “can’t bear it” and only signed up for the paycheck….

(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] In which SNL host Benedict Cumberbatch discovers the multiverse is real. At least in TV Land. “The Understudy”.

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Cora Buhlert, Steve Johnson, Cat Rambo, Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Patrick Morris Miller.]

Pixel Scroll 4/10/22 We Are All Hiding In The Pixels, Camouflaged As Scrolls

(1) I DUB THEE. Mr. Sci-Fi, Marc Scott Zicree, shares with his audience “The Amazing Secret Behind the Woman Who Named Spock — Only Here! Don’t Miss It!”. He also observes about the original Star Trek

…[The pilot] did not get picked up but now in 2022 the future that show is getting greenlighted. It is the only pilot made in 1964 and picked up in 2022, two different centuries, so if that isn’t science fiction I don’t know what is….

(2) PUBLISHING STAFF ORGANIZES. “Why Condé Nast Staffers Are Unionizing: ‘Prestige Doesn’t Pay the Bills’”, as they tell the New York Times.

… Late last month, hundreds of employees at Condé Nast, including those at Vogue, Vanity Fair, Architectural Digest and Allure, noting that “prestige doesn’t pay the bills,” announced that they were forming a union and had asked company management for voluntary recognition. In another time, indifferent to the scourges of entitlement and unfairness, the jokes would have written themselves: The assistants at Vogue are mobilizing … for bigger Town Cars; they demand that all corporate retreats be held in Portofino; they’ll hijack negotiations until Keith McNally runs the cafeteria.

But the world, of course, is not what it was. Editorial, video and production staff were demanding better pay, job security and stronger commitments to diversity. Young workers were drawn to Condé Nast because it embodies a certain culture, a representative of the News Guild of New York pointed out. (The guild is currently in contract negotiations with the Times.) Today, however, that isn’t enough.

In a moving video laying out the need for collective action, writers, editors, social-media managers, graphic artists, fashion assistants and researchers explained that they were fed up and burned out, and they were seeking overtime compensation for relentless hours, pay transparency and salary floors, which previously unionized colleagues at The New Yorker obtained last year. They worried about layoffs without severance and meetings where minority representation often amounted to the presence of a single person in the room.

A spokesman for Condé Nast declined to address specific grievances but said, “We plan to have productive and thoughtful conversations with them over the coming weeks to learn more.”…

(3) DOCTOR WHO REDACTED. “Doctor Who Reveals Spinoff Podcast Series Featuring the Thirteenth Doctor”CBR.com says we’re going to get an earful.

Jodie Whittaker might only have a few Doctor Who episodes left before she regenerates, but the Thirteenth Doctor is about to receive even more adventures in podcast form.

The official Doctor Who website announced that Episode 1 of a ten-part podcast series called Doctor Who Redacted will drop on April 17, the same day as the 2022 special episode “Legend of the Sea Devils.” Instead of being directly Doctor-centric, Redacted follows “three broke university drop-outs” and podcast co-hosts Cleo Proctor (Charlie Craggs), Abby McPhail (Lois Chimimba) and Shawna Thompson (Holly Quin-Ankrah), whose series “The Blue Box Files” analyzes the reoccurrence of a mysterious object (i.e. the Doctor’s TARDIS) throughout historical records. However, Cleo, Abby and Shawna soon become the universe’s best chance at survival, thanks ironically to poor viewership numbers, after getting “caught in a supernatural conspiracy as they learn that everyone who’s ever met the Doctor is disappearing and being forgotten.”

(4) SPINDIZZY? NO, SPINLAUNCH. The space agency is going to give them shot. “NASA to Test SpinLaunch, a Huge Accelerator Built to Slingshot Payloads to Space” at CNET. This version is suborbital. A version is on the drawing board that could be used to achieve orbital insertion (in conjunction with a small upper stage). The system is strictly for uncrewed launch. 

On the long, desolate road between Las Cruces, New Mexico, and the main terminal of Spaceport America over an hour to the north, a bizarre structure looking something like a huge yo-yo with a small smokestack can be seen rising out of the desert floor to the east. 

But the spinning that happens at this facility run by California-based SpinLaunch takes place on the inside of what is really a steel vacuum chamber 300 feet (91 meters) in diameter.  A payload attached to an internal carbon fiber arm is spun up to a speed of 5,000 miles per hour (8,000 kilometers per hour) before being released and fired out of the stack toward space. 

The company completed its first public test of its suborbital mass accelerator in October and now NASA has signed up to try out the huge centrifugal slingshot later this year.

The space agency has signed a contract with SpinLaunch to fly and recover a payload as part of a developmental test flight that could lead to future launches.

(5) SILVERSTEIN BOOK ON STAMP. The U.S. Postal Service honored author and illustrator Shel Silverstein with a Forever stamp featuring artwork from his book, The Giving Tree. The first-day-of-issue event was held April 8 at the school Shel Silverstein attended, Chicago’s Darwin Elementary School. “USPS To Release Shel Silverstein Stamp”.

(6) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1981 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Forty-one years ago, one of those truly great genre films premiered in Excalibur.  I saw it in a movie theatre virtually empty at the time but it still was a wonderful experience. It’s directed and produced by John Boorman off a script by him and Rospo Pallenberg who later got on to The Emerald Forest with Boorman.

Lest you think those are the only Boorman connections, they’re not as it was shot was filmed in Irish locations in County Wicklow, County Tipperary, and County Kerry. The Count Wicklow locations were just a few miles from where Boorman was living at the time. No idea if the cast popped by his manor house for drinks after filming ended for the day. 

I say that as it has a stellar cast: Gabriel Byrne as Uther Pendragon,  Nicholas Clay was Lancelot,  Ciarán Hinds as Lot,  Cherie Lunghi was Guenevere, Helen Mirren was Morgana, Liam Neeson was Gawain, Corin Redgrave was Gorlois, Patrick Stewart was Leondegrance, and Nigel Terry was Arthur, and Nicol Williamson was Merlin. What a group that they would’ve been to party with! 

So what did the critics at the time think of it?

Well Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times summed it rather appropriately in his lead to his review: “What a wondrous vision ‘Excalibur’ is! And what a mess. This wildly ambitious retelling of the legend of King Arthur is a haunting and violent version of the Dark Ages and the heroic figures who (we dream) populated them. But it’s rough going for anyone determined to be sure what is happening from scene to scene.”

And Gary Arnold of the Washington Post said that “In ‘Excalibur,’ opening today at area theaters, Boorman can’t seem to master the ironic approach to high adventure that allows a movie to satisfy heroic longings without getting ridiculous. This stilted reenactment of the Arthurian saga finds Boorman evolving into a modernist parody of Cecil B. De Mille, whipping up a kitschy costume spectacle.” 

It was nominated for a Hugo at Chicon IV finishing second to Raiders of the Lost Ark

It has a sterling eighty percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes, and it earned thirty-five million at the box office against a rather small budget of just eleven million dollars.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born April 10, 1932 Hari Rhodes. Actor who had an impressive and very extensive genre history starting where he was the Black Man at the piano in The Lost Missile (1958) written by John McPartland and SF writer Jerome Bixby. He shows in The Satan Bug and Conquest of the Planet of the Apes. Series wise he was in I-SpyMission: ImpossibleOuter LimitsEarth IIThe Six Million Dollar ManThe Bionic WomanLogan’s RunWonder WomanSalvage 1Beyond WestworldThe Powers of Matthew Star and Automan. (Died 1992.)
  • Born April 10, 1929 Max von Sydow. He played Ernst Stavro Blofeld in the Never Say Never Again and Ming the Merciless in Flash Gordon. He shows up in the Exorcist II: The Heretic as Father Lankester Merrin while being King Osric in Conan the Barbarian. Dreamscape sees him being Doctor Paul Novotny while he’s Liet-Kynes the Imperial Planetologist in Dune. He was Judge Fargo in Judge Dredd (and yes I still like it), in Minority Report as Director Lamar Burgess, Sir Walter Loxley in Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood and finally in Star Wars: The Force Awakens as Lor San Tekka. (Died 2020.)
  • Born April 10, 1953 David Langford, 69. And how long have you been reading Ansible? If he’s not noted for that singular enterprise, he should be noted for assisting in producing the second edition of the EoSF, not to mention some 629,000 words as a principal editor of the third (online) edition of the publication, and contributed some eighty thousand words of articles to the most excellent EoF as well. And let’s not forget his genre writing as well that earned him a Short Story Hugo at the Millennium Philcon (2001) for “Different Kinds of Darkness”. Langford holds the all-time record for most Hugo Awards, with a total of 29 wins. In addition to his short story, he has won 21 Hugos for Best Fan Writer, five for Ansible as Best Fanzine, another for Ansible as Best Semiprozine, and one for The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction as Best Related Work
  • Born April 10, 1957 John M. Ford. Damn, he died far too young! Popular at At Minicon and other cons where he would be Dr. Mike and give silly answers to questions posed to him while wearing a lab coat before a whiteboard. His most interesting novel I think is The Last Hot Time, an urban fantasy set in Chicago that might have been part of Terri Windling’s Bordertown series but wasn’t. Possibly. (And no, the Suck Fairy hasn’t gotten near when I last read it.) The Dragon Waiting is also excellent and his Trek novels are among the best in that area a of writing.  He’s finally coming back into print after a very long time. (Died 2006.)
  • Born April 10, 1962 James H. Burns. Every search I did in putting together this late Filer’s Birthday ended back here. That he was beloved here, I have no doubt. In OGH’s obituary for Burns in 2016 he said Burns’ pride was this trio of posts that paid tribute to the influence of his father — My Father, And The BrontosaurusSons of a Mesozoic Age, and World War II, and a Lexicon in Time. Burns also wrote for File 770 about memories of “growing up fannish,” such as the very popular Once, When We Were All Scientists, and CLANKY!. And his good friend Steve Vertlieb also has reminisced about Burns here. (Died 2016.)
  • Born April 10, 1973 Dean Hsieh, 49. He’s best known as the animator of A Scanner Darkly which was nominated for Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form at Nippon 2007 which was the year that Pan’s Labyrinth won. 
  • Born April 10, 1992 Daisy Ridley, 30. Obviously she played the role of Rey in The Force AwakensThe Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker. She was also in Scrawl, a horror film as well as voicing Cotton Rabbit in Peter Rabbit. Though stretching to even call it genre adjacent even, she was Mary Debenham in Murder on The Orient Express which was rather well done.  Not as nearly good I’d say as the Seventies Murder on The Orient Express film whose original poster I have on my living wall but I’m biased. 

(8) CAKE DISCUSSION. Mike Kennedy joins Geek Tyrant in encouraging all fans to “Check Out This STAR WARS Death Star Trench Run Cake”. Like the Force, this cake has two sides; sponge cake and carrot cake. It’s up to you to deduce which is the dark side. If only we could queue up for a slice after the photographer finishes.

Star Wars fan Evie Rees used her talented skills to make this birthday cake that’s clearly inspired by the LEGO diorama of the Star Wars Death Star trench run. Everything you see on the cake is edible, except for the little ships and their stands.

… You can see a gallery of ten larger images of the cake in this reddit post.

(9) HOUSTON, DO YOU READ? “MLB World Reacts To Houston Astros’ New Uniform” – and MSN.com collected the tweets. Here’s one example.

On Sunday, the Houston Astros became the second MLB team to launch its new Nike City Connect uniforms. The “Space City” uni’s pay homage to the ballclub’s 1970’s look and the city’s history with the space program.

(10) LITERARY DESIGNS. Here are three intriguing product designs from Holly Sewsephine.

(11) SFF IN THE CURRICULUM. Colby College posts about how “Government Professor Joe Reisert Uses Science Fiction ‘To Make the World Better’”.

…Interesting novels that illustrate complex situations are more likely to resonate with students than conventional works of scholarship, Reisert said, explaining his reasoning for including unlikely texts in his coursework. One of his go-to books is the novel Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. Published in the early 1930s and set hundreds of years in the future, Brave New World imagines a society dominated by technology, where citizens are engineered to perform specific jobs, programmed to love their society without question, and where “mother” and “father” are dirty words, and where genuine human emotions are unknown. Reisert, who is also the Harriet S. Wiswell and George C. Wiswell Jr. Professor of American Constitutional Law, uses other books as well, including Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Dispossessed and Yevgeny Zamyatin’s We, to help students envision and think about Marx’s social ideals….

(12) NOW, TALKABLE FUNGI! “Mushrooms communicate with each other using up to 50 ‘words’, scientist claims” reports the Guardian.

Buried in forest litter or sprouting from trees, fungi might give the impression of being silent and relatively self-contained organisms, but a new study suggests they may be champignon communicators.

Mathematical analysis of the electrical signals fungi seemingly send to one another has identified patterns that bear a striking structural similarity to human speech.

Previous research has suggested that fungi conduct electrical impulses through long, underground filamentous structures called hyphae – similar to how nerve cells transmit information in humans….

Daniel Dern sent the link with a comment: “And with the right fifty words, they could do ‘Green Eggs And Ham'”

(13) ART CLASS. This six-part series has Disney animators teaching you how to draw Disney characters: “Disney’s Sketchbook”.

Check out the trailer for Sketchbook, an upcoming Disney Plus series featuring six artists from Disney Animation. Disney’s Sketchbook will be available to stream on Disney+ from April 27, 2022. The show covers iconic Disney characters, including The Lion King’s Simba, Frozen’s Olaf, Encanto’s Mirabel, Aladdin’s Genie, Peter Pan’s Captain Hook, and The Emperor’s New Groove’s Kuzco.

(14) CONSIDER YOURSELVES WARNED. This is grotesque. Why am I including it in the Scroll? Chucky takes a star turn in this (mean-spirited) office segment from last night’s Saturday Night Live.

[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Daniel Dern, Chris Barkley, 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 Camestros Felapton.]

Laser Cats

By John A Arkansawyer: “In the future, there was a nuclear war. And because of all the radiation, cats developed the ability to shoot lasers out of their mouths.”

On this dubious premise, Laser Cats was founded. By its seventh and final episode, the great action stars and directors of the day had contributed their considerable talents to this highly entertaining, yet frankly ridiculous enterprise. From James Cameron to Lindsey Lohan, Josh Brolin to Steve Martin, Laser Cats attracted the best in the business.

Being part of Saturday Night Live undoubtedly helped.

The SNL Digital Short series ran from 2005-2012 with over a hundred episodes. Laser Cats appeared in all seven seasons. It’s a story within a story. In each episode, Andy Samberg and Bill Hader approach SNL producer Lorne Michaels with a brilliant idea. In the first episode: “We decided that there were two things that everyone loves.” “Cats and lasers!”

Whereupon they pop in a VHS labeled “Laser Cats”, in which Admiral Spaceship (Samberg) and Nitro (Hader) fight bad guys like Doctor Scientist and Mayor Tophat with their trusty laser cats.

In the outer stories of the first three episodes, Samberg and Hader approach Michaels on their own. Beginning with the fourth episode, Hollywood heavy hitters accompany them to Michaels’ office for the pitch, and the inner stories become more parodies rather than simple spoofs. It’s worth noting the third inner story is in 3D(*) and the sixth is a musical.

On one hand, the CGI work is dated and wasn’t any good at the time. On the other hand, the practical effects are even worse. On the gripping hand, the low budget and terrible production standards ensure that you will see Steven Spielberg act, direct(**), and do his own Foley work(***) at the same time. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Samberg and Hader contributed writing for these sketches, along with Jorma Taccone, Akiva Shaffer, Jonathan Krisel, and Lorne Michaels. Taccone and Shaffer directed the sketches, working both together and individually. (Samberg, Taccone, and Shaffer also work as The Lonely Island.)

If you aren’t familiar with the sketches, the viewing order I recommend is watching the first one first. If you love it, you’ll love the rest; if you hate it, you’re done. I’d then watch each of the next two individually, because the omnibus video of episodes 1-3 has a major spoiler in the intro. Then watch the omnibus video of episodes 4-7 because episode 6 is not available standalone.

This link will take you to the official SNL videos on YouTube.

This is the first episode:


(*) Not all scenes in 3D.

(**) Not really.

(***) Well, it would be his own Foley work, if he were really directing.

Pixel Scroll 4/3/22 Like, Totally, Recall It Wholesale

(1) PLEASE RELEASE ME. GameRant reminds us, “Weird Al Recorded New Music For Ill-Fated Star Wars Detours Series”.

… It’s been a pretty long existence, and one that most people still have yet to truly figure out. But luckily, at some point along the way, somebody discovered that adding Weird Al Yankovic to a thing, including Star Wars, is pretty much always a recipe for entertainment. Even if the rest of the project turns out to be a wide flat stinkum, the presence of the parody king is always a treasure in and of itself.

So thanks to some new discoveries regarding Yankovic, that makes it all the more tragic that Star Wars Detours will likely never truly see the light of day, even if fans still hear various teases about it potentially coming to Disney Plus. The animated comedy series from Robot Chicken creators Seth Green and Matthew Senreich may have been canceled before its release a decade ago, but somehow more info about it just randomly seems to keep surfacing. It’s like a really lethargic zombie whose return from the grave largely consists of the occasional gas release.

… The potential for hearing lost Weird Al music should be enough to inspire some steam behind the “release Detours, please” movement that isn’t really a movement….

(2) IN CASE YOU MISSED IT. Thomas Wagner of SFF180 does a roundup of yesterday’s most astonishing news item in “The Implosion of Silver Shamrock Publishing” on YouTube.

What the eff were they thinking? A racist book sinks an indie horror publisher, and Thomas offers up a post-mortem.

(3) MOSHE FEDER CHANGE OF E-DRESS NEWS. [Item by Moshe Feder.] I’ve owned the moshe.feder.name domain since the .name TLD was first promulgated in 2000. (Alas, it never won the popularity I expected. In all these years, I never met anyone else with a .name address.)

Now I’m letting it go, along with the associated moshe@feder.name e-mail address. If you’ve been using that address to write me, please switch to Mosaic@gmail.com, which I’ve had almost as long. 

In the unlikely event you ever have a problem with the Gmail address, my backup address is jophan@me.com.

Also, if you sent anything to the old address on March 26 or later, please resend it to the new address.

(4) VINTAGE PRATCHETT. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Terry Pratchett defines fantasy, explains what he doesn’t like about Howard and Tolkien, and tells how his readers range 7 to 85 in this 1992 clip from the BBC that dropped today.

“I went from a kid to whom reading was something you did if there was nothing else to do, to a 40-book-a-day man!” – Terry Pratchett Linda Mitchell chats to Terry Pratchett, the prolific mind behind the beloved Discworld series of comic fantasy novels. What were his inspirations? Was he a bookish child? Is there an “average” Terry Pratchett reader? Where is all the sex? What is the secret to his success? And, speaking of success – how does it feel to be “Britain’s least famous best-selling author”? This clip is from Summer Scene, originally broadcast 21 July, 1992.

(5) MEMORY LANE.

1999 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Twenty-three years ago, something that had been made into a film four times previously starting in 1925 (Doyle appears in preface to that film, though not all existing prints have him) was made into a series. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World, often shortened to just The Lost World, premiered this day in syndication. 

It was based very loosely as you well know you on Doyle’s The Lost World novel and includes John Landis among its bevy of executive producers. The actual producer was Darrly Sheen who was the line producer on Time Trax and who did the same on several episodes of the Australian version of Mission: Impossible

Guess where this series was produced? It was done at Village Roadshow Studios, Oxenford, Queensland, Australia.  Other productions of note done there include Thor: RagnarokPirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge and Aquaman.

The initial cast was Peter McCauley as Professor George Edward Challeger, Rachel Blakely, as Marguerite Krux, Jennifer O’Dell as Veronica Layton, William deVry as Ned Malone and William Snow as Lord John Richard Roxton and Michael Sinelnikoff as Professor Arthur Summerlee.

They lived in a giant tree house, really they did, and had many a fantastical adventure, none of which I’d say had anything to do with The Lost World novel unless there’s reptile people in there that I missed when I read it. It lasted three seasons consisting of sixty-six episodes. It was cancelled when funding for another season fell through. It’s on Amazon Prime right now.

Personal opinion? It was fun and I certainly don’t regret the time that I took to watch it. It was quite pulpy (Doc Savage would have fit right in here) and as long as you don’t expect it to have anything to do with the novel, you could enjoy a Thirties-style concept updated to contemporary standards. 

(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born April 3, 1783 Washington Irving. Best remembered for his short stories “Rip Van Winkle” and “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”, both of which appear in The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. collection. The latter in particular has been endlessly reworked downed the centuries into genre fiction including the recent Sleepy Hollow series which so far I’ve managed not to watch. And a certain Johnny Depp film as well I believe. (Died 1859.)
  • Born April 3, 1927 Donald M. Grant. He was responsible for the creation of several genre small press publishers — Grant-Hadley Enterprises in 1945,  Buffalo Book Company in 1946,  Centaur Press in 1970 and Donald M. Grant, Publisher, Inc. in 1964. Between 1976 and 2003, he won five World Fantasy Awards including a Lifetime Achievement Award, and a Balrog Award as well. He wrote one genre novel, Act of Providence co-authored with Joseph Payne Brennan. (Died 2009.)
  • Born April 3, 1928 Colin Kapp. He’s best remembered for his stories about the Unorthodox Engineers which originally largely appeared in the New Writings in SF anthologies. I’d also single out his Cageworld series which is set in the future when humanity lives on nested Dyson spheres. Both series are available at the usual digital suspects. (Died 2007.)
  • Born April 3, 1936 Reginald Hill. Now this surprised me. He’s the author of the most excellent Dalziel and Pascoe copper series centered on the profane, often piggish Andrew Dalziel, and his long suffering, more by-the-book partner Peter Pascoe, solving traditional Yorkshire crimes which is on the Britbox streaming service. Well there’s a SF mystery in there set in 2010, many years after the other Dalziel and Pascoe stories, and involves them investigating the first Luna murder. I’ll need to read this one. There’s another with Peter Pascoe as a future European Pan Police Commissioner. Huh.  (Died 2012.)
  • Born April 3, 1946 Lyn McConchie, 76. New Zealand author who has written three sequels in the Beast Master series that Andre Norton created and four novels in Norton’s Witch World series as well. She has written a lot of Holmesian fiction, so I’ll just recommend her collection of short stories, Sherlock Holmes: Familar Crimes: New Tales of The Great Detective. She’s deeply stocked at the usual digital suspects.
  • Born April 3, 1962 James R. Black, 60. I’d like to say he’s best known for his leading role as Agent Michael Hailey on The Burning Zone but since it was short-lived and I’m not sure anyone actually watched it on UPN that might be stretching reality a bit. Prior to his run on that series, he’s got a number of one-offs including Babylon 5Deep Space 9, The SentinelSpace: Above and Beyond with his first genre role being Doctor Death in Zombie Cop.
  • Born April 3, 1970 Jo Graham, 52. Her first novel, Black Ships, re-imagines The Aeneid, and her second novel, Hand of Isis,  features the reincarnated main character of the first novel. If that‘s not enough genre cred for you, she’s written Lost Things, with Melissa Scott and a whole of Stargate Atlantis and Stargate SG-1 novels.

(7) TOLKIEN ON TV. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] J.R.R. Tolkien discusses why he wrote a “stupendously long” novel, his love of trees, and how hard it is to write Elvish in this excerpt from a BBC documentary in 1968.

J. R. R. Tolkien speaks to John Ezard about his extraordinarily popular Lord of the Rings series of fantasy novels. The author touches upon their genesis and themes, his fondness for invented languages – and how they are often misinterpreted.

(8) SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] “Three Normal Goths” on SNL explains how Goths are so normal that even their Goth dog is normal! “Please Don’t Destroy – Three Normal Goths”.

(9) VIDEO OF THE DAY. FirstShowing.net gives us reasons to “Watch: Dystopian Vending Machine Animated Short ‘Change Return’”.

How far are we from this kind of future? Much closer than you might think… Change Return is a funky animated short film made by filmmaker Robert Findlay and it’s only 5 mins long. Set in an underground city in the near future, where services such as healthcare and law enforcement are delegated to local vending machines, a man finds a crafty way to buy a cheap meal. That’s all you need to know going in…

[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Moshe Feder, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel “Valley Boy” Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 3/6/22 What About My Pixel? You’re Lucky You Still Have Your Brown Paper Zine, Small Type

(1) THEIR BUDGETS CANNA STAND THE STRAIN. Except Scotty isn’t the character in the middle of this social media tempest.“George Takei’s Plea for Americans to Endure Higher Gas Prices to Put ‘the Screws to Putin’ Sets Off a Twitter War” reports MSN.com.

“Star Trek” actor George Takei’s tweet asking Americans to endure paying a little more for food and gasoline as a result of sanctions President Biden imposed on Russia since its invasion of Ukraine caught fire on Twitter Saturday — and that fire is as hot-headed as you probably suspected.

“Americans: We can endure higher prices for food and gas if it means putting the screws to Putin,” Takei tweeted Friday. “Consider it a patriotic donation in the fight for freedom over tyranny.”

Twitter users flocked to Takei’s tweet to express their opinion of his suggestion, with many bashing his perceived wealth in a “HE can endure higher prices” but the average working-class American cannot kind of way. On the opposite side of the argument, Takei’s supporters pointed out that he and his family were sent to Japanese internment camps in Arkansas and California during WWII, so he knows the repercussion of people remaining silent when they should be speaking up…

(2) EXQUISITE TIMING FOR CROWDFUNDING. It’s a good week to launch a Kickstarter, don’t you think? Not that Edward Willett is any newcomer to the idea, with a track record of two previous successes. Willett opens his latest Kickstarter campaign at noon Eastern on March 8 to fund Shapers of Worlds Volume III, the third annual anthology featuring top writers of science fiction and fantasy who have been guests on his podcast, The Worldshapers (www.theworldshapers.com).

Shapers of Worlds Volume III will feature new fiction from Griffin Barber, Gerald Brandt, Miles Cameron, Sebastien de Castell, Kristi Charish, David Ebenbach, Mark Everglade, Frank J. Fleming, Violette Malan, Anna Mocikat, James Morrow, Jess E. Owen, Robert G. Penner, Cat Rambo, K.M. Rice, and Edward Willett; poetry from Jane Yolen; and additional stories by Cory Doctorow, K. Eason, Walter Jon Williams, and F. Paul Wilson.

Backers’ rewards offered by the authors include numerous e-books, signed paperback and hardcover books (including limited editions), Tuckerizations (a backer’s name used as a character name), commissioned artwork, original poetry (from Jane Yolen), audiobooks, opportunities for online chats with authors, short-story critiques, and more.

The Kickstarter campaign can be found here.  The campaign goal is $12,000 CDN.

Most of those funds will go to pay the authors, with the rest going to reward fulfillment, primarily the editing, layout, and printing of the book, which will be published in both ebook and trade paperback formats by Willett’s publishing company, Shadowpaw Press (www.shadowpawpress.com). The special Kickstarter edition for backers will be followed by a commercial release this fall. Stretch goals are simple: for every $5,000 over the goal the campaign raises, the authors will be paid one cent a word more.

(3) BREAKING UP ISS HARD TO DO. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] The head of Roscosmos is, as seems usual for him, talking loudly and carrying a big shtick. The Russian space agency has released a video showing cosmonauts waving goodbye to astronauts and splitting the Russian part of the International Space Station from the rest. They then “set sail” and depart from the ISS’s orbit with an impressive (and equally improbable) delta V for such a large mass. “Russia Releases Bizarre Video of Space Station Breaking Apart” at Futurism.

We’re not exactly sure what Russia’s space agency head Dmitry Rogozin is threatening the US with, but he certainly seems to be alluding to… something. A bizarre new video posted by state controlled media RIA Novosti showed the International Space Station breaking apart in an artist rendering after Russian cosmonauts bid adieu.

(4) SF IN TRANSLATION. Cora Buhlert’s newest Non-Fiction Spotlight is for Out of This World: Speculative Fiction in Translation from the Cold War to the New Millennium by Rachel S. Cordasco”, another 2021 non-fiction release that Cora believes deserves a lot more attention than it got.

Why should SFF fans in general and Hugo voters in particular read this book?

This book isn’t necessarily the kind of thing you’d read in one sitting by the fire (though you definitely could!). Rather, it’s the kind of book that you’d read to learn about SF from different source languages. You might read the Finnish chapter if you’re interested in Sinisalo or Krohn. Then, if you’ve picked up a work of Japanese space opera at a bookstore, you could turn to the relevant section to learn about that  language’s wide variety of hard-science-fiction subgenres. You could even use the index to find themes that span the different SFTs and compose reading lists for your book club. Also, that cover is gorgeous (the people at UIP picked it), so it would be a lovely display for your coffee table….

(5) A GRAND MASTER’S UNIVERSE. The good folks of Goodman Games study the strengths of Andre Norton’s Witch World series in “A Look at Andre Norton’s Witch World”

… While many of the novels are good, it’s in the two short story collections, Spell of the Witch World (1972) and Lore of the Witch World (1980) that Norton really kills it. The stories range from straight sword-and-sorcery to horror to the aforementioned fairy tales. Her writing in these is tighter and often even darker than in the seven novels I’ve read. Several of them dig into a regular theme of the series; the place of women in a pre-industrial world. Where physical strength is the determinant of power, Norton makes it clear that women will often be at the mercy of men. It’s not easy and finding some sort of agency, whether with sword or spell, is an often brutal task. I cannot recommend these two collections enough….

(6) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1992 [Item by Cat Eldridge] Thirty years ago, The Lawnmower Man premiered. It is not based off the story by Stephen King by that name and King sued successfully to get paid damages and his name removed from any association with the film. He won further damages when his name was included in the title of the home video release. Some production companies never learn their lesson, do they? 

The film is from an original screenplay called “CyberGod” written by Brett Leonard and Gimel Everett. The latter would later be involved in Virtuosity which like this film was lauded for its groundbreaking computer animation and visual effects. 

It had a rather decent cast in Jeff Fahey, Pierce Brosnan, Jenny Wright and Geoffrey Lewis. None of which would be back for the sequel, Lawnmower Man 2: Beyond Cyberspace which is probably good as no one, and I mean no one, liked that sequel.

So how was the reception for it? Well it made thirty million against costs of ten million, so quite good there. (The sequel bombed at box office. Really bombed.) Now however most, though not all, critics hated it. The Spectator summed it up succinctly as “Gratuitously offensive” and the Washington Post reporter didn’t update his review later: “So loosely based on a Stephen King short story as to constitute fraud, The Lawnmower Man goes right to the bottom of a growing list of failed King adaptations.” 

Now it is worth noting that audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes really, really didn’t like it as they gave it a quite poor thirty-one percent rating. 

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 6, 1918 Marjii Ellers. Longtime L.A. fan who was active in the LASFS.  Her offices in the LASFS included Registrar and Scribe. She was known for her costumes at cons. Indeed, she received a Lifetime Achievement Award in 1990 from the International Costumers’ Guild. An avid fanzine publisher and writer, some of the fanzines she edited were Masqueraders’ GuideMore Lives Than One,  NexterdayOne Equal TemperThousands of Thursdays, and Judges’ Guide. (Died 1999.)
  • Born March 6, 1928 William F. Nolan. Author of the long running Logan’s Run series (only the first was written with George Clayton Johnson). He started out in fandom in the Fifties publishing several zines including one dedicated to Bradbury. In May 2014, Nolan was presented with another Bram Stoker Award, for Superior Achievement in Nonfiction; this was for his collection about his late friend Ray Bradbury, called Nolan on Bradbury: Sixty Years of Writing about the Master of Science Fiction. He’s done far too much writing-wise for me to sum it him up. He was inducted into the First Fandom Hall of Fame Award. (Died 2021.)
  • Born March 6, 1937 Edward L. Ferman, 85. Son of Joseph W. Ferman, the publisher and sometime editor who established F&SF in 1949. He took over as editor in 1964 and continued until 1991. For one year (1969), he edited and published a related magazine called Venture Science Fiction Magazine. Winner of a stellar eight Hugos mostly for Best Professional Magazine. 
  • Born March 6, 1942 Dorothy Hoobler, 80. Author with her husband, Thomas Hoobler, of the Samurai Detective series which is at least genre adjacent. More interestingly, they wrote a biography of Mary Shelley and her family called The Monsters: Mary Shelley and the Curse of Frankenstein which sounds absolutely fascinating. Note to ISFDB: no, it’s not a novel. Kindle has everything by them, alas Apple Books has only the biography.
  • Born March 6, 1942 Christina Scull, 80. Tolkien researcher and married to fellow Tolkien researcher Wayne Hammond who all her books are co-authored with. Their first was J. R. R. Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator, and I’ll single out just The J. R. R. Tolkien Companion and Guide and The Art of The Lord of the Rings as being worth your time seeking out.
  • Born March 6, 1957 Ann VanderMeer, 65. Publisher and editor, and the second female editor of Weird Tales. At Anticipation, Weird Tales, edited by her and Stephen H. Segal, won the Hugo Award for Best Semiprozine. She is also the founder of The Silver Web magazine, a periodical devoted to experimental and avant-garde fantasy literature. Her The Big Book of Modern Fantasy (with Jeff VanderMeer) won a World Fantasy Award for Best Anthology.
  • Born March 6, 1972 K J Bishop, 50. Australian writer who I really like, author of The Etched City which was nominated for the Aurelias, the International Horror Guild Award and World Fantasy while winning the Ditmar Award. Impressive. She also won the latter for Best New Talent. She’s also written a double handful of short stories, many collected in the Ditmar-winning That Book Your Mad Ancestor Wrote
  • Born March 6, 1979 Rufus Hound, 43. Ok, I admit it was his name that got him here. He’s also had the good fortune to appear as Sam Swift in “The Woman Who Lived”, easily one of the best Twelfth Doctor stories. He’s also played Toad twice in The Wind In The Willows, a musical written by Julian Fellowes, first in an out-of-town premiere in 2016, then in the West End in 2017. 

(8) COMICS SECTION.

(9) MY SUPERHERO IS BLACK Q&A. Entertainment Weekly interviews authors John Jennings and Angélique Roché: My Super Hero Is Black will tell the other history of Marvel comics”

…These days, Black Panther is one of the most visible superheroes in a superhero-obsessed age, and his 2018 solo film remains one of Marvel Studios’ most acclaimed (it still holds the #1 spot on EW’s own ranking of the Marvel Cinematic Universe). The Falcon and the Winter Soldier recently explored the idea of a Black Captain America, both with Sam Wilson in the present and Isaiah Bradley in the past. Moon Girl, a young Black genius who pals around with a dinosaur, will soon be getting her own animated series.

My Super Hero Is Black will trace how these and other characters moved from the margins to the mainstream thanks to the work of creators like Billy Graham, Christopher Priest, Reginald Hudlin, and Ta-Nehisi Coates, among others. The book will also feature accounts from prominent Black creators and luminaries about their personal relationships with Marvel heroes….

(10) NOW AT BAT. In the Washington Post, Michael Cavna and David Betancourt rank the six actors who have played Batman in films, saying that in their view Robert Pattinson does a good job but Michael Keaton remains the best Batman. (And I guess no spoiler warning is required when they put the result in the headline) “Best Batman actors ranked, from Robert Pattinson to Michael Keaton”.

… The comic-book Bat-world first created by Bill Finger and Bob Kane in the ’30s has spawned an entire tireless industry of screen adaptations, from mid-century movie serials to ’60s TV camp to animated titles — with Kevin Conroy and Will “Lego” Arnett especially shining as the voice of Gotham’s odd nocturnal knight.But for the sake of fair comparison, let’s rank the actors who have portrayed a live-action Batman in Warner Bros./DC’s modern film franchise since 1989. Without getting so serious, here is our freewheeling assessment of the Dirty Half-Dozen…

At Yahoo!, Jason Guerrasio repeats the evaluation, except he ranks 10 actors, because he includes everyone back to the Forties series. “Every actor who’s played Batman, ranked from worst to best — including Robert Pattinson”.

Interestingly, both surveys came up with the same number one.

(11) KSR NON-SFF. Publishers Weekly interviews Kim Stanley Robinson about his book The High Sierra: A Love Story in which he shares his admiration of the Sierras.

What was the hardest part of putting your decades of experience hiking the Sierras into a book?

Memoir. I’ve never done it. I think it’s suspect, and hard in and of itself. It’s a fiction, memoir. You make your past self into a character, and you summarize things that took years, and you’re judging your earlier self. So that was hard.

You’re best known for your science fiction. What impact did the Sierras have on your novels?

My Sierra experience has been crucial to my science fiction because I’ve written science fiction that is aware that we are part of a biosphere, and that planets are actors in the story. They determine societies and individuals and consciousness. I felt that in myself because of my Sierra experiences. I’ve always been writing about planets changing, and my Mars trilogy could be seen as a gigantic climate change novel. So my work hangs together, intellectually, and also emotionally by way of this Sierra anchoring point….

(12) BAUM’S AWAY. A contestant on Friday night’s episode of Jeopardy! guessed wrong. If it hadn’t been about a work of fantasy, Andrew Porter would have let it slide. However….!

Category: The Elements of Literature

Answer: In a work by L. Frank Baum, the Scarecrow & this character are captured by a female giant & turned into a bear & an owl

Wrong question: What is the Cowardly Lion?

Correct question: What is the Tin Man?

(13) OVER HERE. While looking for articles about the claim of lunar ownership registered by the Bay Area’s Elves’, Gnomes’ and Little Men’s Science Fiction, Chowder, and Marching Society, Bill found this Oakland Tribune clipping about their meeting with Arthur C. Clarke during his first visit to America. In July 1952 the club held a banquet where they presented Clarke with the Invisible Little Man award – “a trophy which consists of the base of a statue with no statue, just a pair of mysterious footprints above the inscription…”  The newspaper interview quotes Clarke’s hopes for a chain of communications satellites in geosynchronous orbits.

(14) PAWS FOR REFLECTION. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Saturday Night Live explains that it’s a really bad idea to fire your police and fire fighters and replace them with the Paw Patrol!

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] This Austin McConnell video is about the fake 1956 novel I, Libertine which was turned into a real novel by Theodore Sturgeon. I didn’t realize that the broadcasts of Jean Shepherd survive. “This Best-Selling Novel Was A Total Hoax!”.

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

Pixel Scroll 2/28/22 The Long and Winding Scroll

(1) SCHOOL NAMED FOR BUTLER. They were thinking about renaming the school library – in the end, they decided to rename the whole school for her: “Pasadena Unified Renames Washington Middle School As Octavia E. Butler Magnet”ColoradoBoulevard.net has the story.

…Dr Shannon Malone stated that “Octavia’s love of science research combined with her love of writing is exactly what STEAM integration is about at our school. We don’t teach things in isolation we show that all things can come together such as a love of Science Fiction and a love of writing.” The school will be hosting the 2nd Octavia Butler Writing and Art Contest with novels and poetry. The Pasadena Library will feature a virtual tour about Octavia Butler and proudly showcase the school’s mural….

The district announced the decision with this statement:

In appreciation of Octavia E. Butler for her outstanding achievements in literary science-fiction and for representing the qualities of a PUSD graduate that will inspire our youth and greater community, Washington Middle School shall be known henceforth as the Octavia E. Butler Magnet. Board President Elizabeth Pomeroy declared “let’s all pledge to read a book by Octavia Butler!” The motion was passed, approved, and adopted on February 24, 2022, at a special meeting of the Pasadena Unified School District Board of Education.

(2) PRAISE FOR BARKLEY. At the Hugo Book Club Blog: “So Glad We Asked: an appreciation of Chris M. Barkley”.

… In retrospect, Barkley has shown a remarkable amount of foresight. He warned in 2004 (a full decade before it happened) that there was the possibility that a slate of politically motivated malcontents might attempt to disrupt the Hugos. This was followed by his urging in 2013 that “The only way traditions like the Worldcon and Hugos will have any future is if the people who are interested and feel frozen out of the process continue to provide civil and constructive criticism and stay involved in fandom … What we need is MORE dissent, MORE thinking outside the box and MORE diversity in fandom, not less.”

The first time the editors of this blog encountered Chris M. Barkley, we were volunteering as photographers for the 2015 Hugo Awards ceremony. For years after, we assumed that he had received a Hugo Award nomination for his blogging, and this seemed like a reasonable assumption to make: his work is consistently good, he writes about fannish activities, and he’s well known in the community.

It was to our great surprise when we learned that he has never been on the Hugo Award ballot as a fan writer. It’s time to rectify that oversight, and 2022 should be his year….

(3) WHEN EUROCON WAS IN KYIV. SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie reports, “Currently thoughts elsewhere. Just heard that one of our team members, Boris Sidyuk, is alive. (A little scared — I think suffers from British understatement —  but alive.) Some might know him from the 2006 Eurocon on which he was a senior committee member organising the international dimension.”

Jonathan attended the Eurocon held in Ukraine in 2006. Read his account of making fannish connections there in “The 2006 Eurocon, Ukraine”.

…The need for an outlet for Ukrainian SF is not a trivial point. Though the Ukraine is the latest country to break close ties with Russia (meaning that up to recently Russia dominated most activities including publishing), it is effectively a bilingual nation with nearly all the population speaking both Ukrainian and Russian. So getting SF professionally published actually in the Ukrainian language within the Ukraine has in the past been difficult, though matters are now slowly getting a little better. Prior to 1990 and the fall of the Berlin wall, if you wanted to write professionally you had to belong to the Writers Association of the Ukraine. However the Association did not consider SF as a serious genre, furthermore the Association was closely tied to the communist party. So potential writers had to be inventive, such as trying to get published in popular science/propaganda magazines. Needless to say SF conventions also were few prior to 1990 and that did not help. Today Ukrainian writers still have problems. For example, the Ukranian writer Sergey Slyusarenko has had several short stories published but only recently his first novel [Tactile Senesations]. However this was through a Russian publishing house that distributed his book in Russia in Russian. No bulk copies were sent to the Ukraine. Fortunately though, this year Slyusarenko was one of those to receive a Eurocon Encouragement Award and it is hoped that this will prompt an Ukrainian publishing house to produce an Ukrainian edition….

(4) WHERE TO READ UKRANIAN SFF WRITERS IN ENGLISH. Alex Shvartsman has compiled “A List of Ukrainian-born SF/F Authors Whose Fiction is Available in English” and posted it at Future Science Fiction Digest. He will continue to update it as he finds more qualifying works.

Are you curious about science fiction and fantasy works written by authors who either currently reside or were born in Ukraine? There are a number of such works available in English. Interestingly. the authors I was able to come up with for this list lean heavily toward fantasy over science fiction. And they tend to write excellent stuff–I’m a long-time fan of many of these authors, though I did find several short story writers in the course of researching this post who are new to me as well.

(5) LESSER CONSEQUENCES OF INVASION. “Disney to Pause Theatrical Releases in Russia, Including ‘Turning Red’” reports Variety.

The Walt Disney Company announced on Monday that it will be pausing all theatrical releases in Russia, including that of “Turning Red,” which was previously set to premiere in the country March 10.

“Given the unprovoked invasion of Ukraine and the tragic humanitarian crisis, we are pausing the release of theatrical films in Russia, including the upcoming ‘Turning Red’ from Pixar,” a company spokesperson said in a statement. “We will make future business decisions based on the evolving situation. In the meantime, given the scale of the emerging refugee crisis, we are working with our NGO partners to provide urgent aid and other humanitarian assistance to refugees.”

Disney is the first of the major film distributors to pause its theatrical releases in the region, which will likely cause others to follow suit. However, it seems that Warner Bros.’ “The Batman” will still have a Russia release for now, with the film set for a worldwide premiere on March 3.

(6) CHERNOBYL IN THE NEWS AGAIN. The Guardian’s Stuart Heritage discusses “Chernobyl: The Lost Tapes – stunning TV that is suddenly unmissable” with filmmaker James Jones.

Had it been released at any point in the past few years, Chernobyl: The Lost Tapes would have been an important documentary; a feature-length blend of audio interviews and largely unseen archive footage that puts the 1986 disaster into horrifying new perspective. That it comes out now – just days after Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, including an attack on the Chernobyl site itself – makes it as unmissable as it is harrowing.

…One contained a footnote that caught his eye. “It referenced footage that was shot in Pripyat [in northern Ukraine] the weekend after the accident,” he says. Despite the fact that the worst nuclear disaster in history had happened down the road hours earlier, releasing 400 times more radioactive material into the atmosphere than the Hiroshima bomb, the footage showed residents milling about as if nothing had happened.

“You can see mothers pushing babies around and kids playing football in the sand,” says Jones. “Then you start to see these white flashes on the film because of the insanely high level of radiation. It was so chilling.” Nevertheless, the existence of this footage spurred him to seek out more. Via a wealth of sources – national archives, propaganda films, collapsed Soviet documentary studios, western news reports, children and soldiers who happened to have video cameras at the time – he began to piece together a blistering documentary that draws a straight line from the USSR’s attempts to play down the disaster to the fall of the Soviet Union itself.

Although Chernobyl is one of those historical punctuation points on which everyone thinks they have a decent overview, not least due to Sky’s recent drama series, The Lost Tapes is studded with moments of footage so extraordinary that you are unlikely to forget them. A clean-up helicopter crashing to the ground over the explosion site. Searing footage of injuries and mutations to humans and animals. Wooden grave markers in an irradiated forest.

(7) AT THE TOP OF HER GAME. Congratulations to Cat Rambo for being named a guest at Origins Game Fair.

(8) FREE TAFF BOOK. The Harrison Saga: The Extraordinary Exploits of Sir William Makepeace Harrison by  “Harry Hurstmonceaux and Cyril Faversham”, ripping yarns written from 1957 to 1975 by the UK fans John Owen and Stanley Nuttall, is the latest addition to TAFF’s library of free downloads. The collection is available in multiple formats at the Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund’s website, where they also hope you’ll make a little donation to the fund. 

In these ripping yarns written from 1957 to 1975 by the UK fans John Owen and Stanley Nuttall (writing as Hurstmonceaux and Faversham), the awesome figure of Sir William Makepeace Harrison bestrides the world like a Roman-nosed colossus. The British Empire’s last unflinching bulwark against Nazis, Commies and duplicitous foreigners in general, Harrison upheld the banner of Civilization – or at least the Union Jack – o’er palm and pine. His magnificently silly adventures are threaded with tongue-in-cheek echoes of Rudyard Kipling, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, John Buchan, “Sapper” of Bulldog Drummond fame, Dornford Yates, Ian Fleming, Raymond Chandler, Frank Hampson and a million Victorian/Edwardian boys’ adventure stories. It would be wrong to giggle at such unstinting heroism, swordsmanship, gunplay, gourmandizing, fine-wine-bibbing and deus ex machina escapes, but nevertheless one does.

For The Harrison Saga, Rob Hansen has assembled all Owen’s and Nuttall’s tales of Sir William Makepeace Harrison with an explanatory Foreword, an Afterword and (assisted by David Langford) some learned notes on literary references and in-jokes. For readers who crave something “a little stronger”, there is also a bibliography.

(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

2002 [Item by Cat Eldridge] Twenty years ago, Altered Carbon was published in the UK. Written by Richard Morgan, it would be followed by two sequels, Broken Angels and Woken Furies. It’s a series that I really, really liked and I thought was wrapped well. 

It would win the Philip K. Dick Award. Other nominated works for the Award that year were Mark Buds’ Clade, M.M. Buckner’s Hyperthought, Chris Moriarty‘s Spin State and Ann Tonsor Zeddies‘ Steel Helix

The novels would become the basis of the Netflix Altered Carbon series which ran for eighteen episodes over two seasons before being canceled plus an anime prequel film. Originally the first novel was going to be a film and those rights were sold for a million dollars which allowed Morgan to become a full-time writer but it never went anywhere which is how Netflix ended up with it. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • 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.)
  • 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 Showtime series planned off it. He also wrote two other SF novels, The Steps of The Sun and Mockingbird. All off his work is available from the usual digital sources. Though far from being genre, The Queen’s Gambit is most excellent. (Died 1984.)
  • Born February 28, 1947 Stephen Goldin, 75. Author of the Family d’Alembert series which is based on a novella by E.E. “Doc” Smith. I think the novella is “Imperial Stars” but that’s unclear from the way the series is referred to. Has anyone read this series? How does it match up to the source material?
  • Born February 28, 1948 Bernadette Peters, 74. Performer, stage, film and television, so this is selected look at her. She was A Witch in Into the Woods on Broadway and reprised the role in a tv film. It is a Stephen Sondheim musical based on the Brothers Grimm and Charles Perrault. She’s in The Martian Chronicles as Genevieve Seltzer. She does a lot of voice acting, to wit in Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted ChristmasWakko’s WishLegends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return, Rita, a recurring role on the Animaniacs and Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella. The most recent genre role I see her doing is Circe on The Odyssey series several back. 
  • Born February 28, 1966 Philip Reeve, 56. He is primarily known for the Mortal Engines and its sequels. I read the first three novels before deciding that was enough of that series. Not that it’s not a fine series, it just wasn’t developing interestingly enough to warrant me reading any more of it. 
  • Born February 28, 1958 John Barnes, 64. I read and really liked all of the novels in his Thousand Cultures series which are a sort of updated Heinleinian take on the spread of humanity across the Galaxy. (My take on it. Yours may well differ.) What else by him do y’all like? I see he’s not put out a novel in a decade now, a pity that. Some of his fiction is available at the usual suspects though not the Thousand Cultures series.
  • Born February 28, 1977 Chris Wooding, 45. 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 exists and does a damn fine job of doing so. 

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • Blondie finds the key to selling books.  

(12) STONED. Atlas Obscura knows where to find the “Pop Culture Gargoyles Hidden in Gothic Architecture” (published in 2018).

…If you’re curious enough for a gargoyle safari, stay around the edifice! You will not be disappointed, as Darth Vader is just one of many pretty unusual creations conceived to adorn the National Cathedral. The 112 sculpted gargoyles include those by Walter S. Arnold, who envisioned gargoyles as portraying the specific hopes and fears of their era. Arnold’s sculptures have name like “The Crooked Politician,” “The Fly holding Raid Spray,” or the “High Tech Pair,” representing a stylized robot and surveillance camera….

(13) WALK ON THE WILD SIDE. Can these be “The 10 Goofiest Sci-Fi Movies Ever”? Screen Rant thinks so.

Idiocracy (2006)

While the movie could be considered a gruelingly accurate prediction of a dystopian future, Idiocracy is actually a satirical and hilarious sci-fi flick. The film is about a man with a below-average IQ who is frozen in a government experiment, but he’s then thawed out in the future and is treated like a genius.

It’s a silly concept, but Idiocracy also attempts to tackle so many subjects, such as people’s obsession with celebrities, entertainment and media consumption, and politics. Based in a world where the President of the United States wears an American flag as a cape and carries a machine gun at all times, the 2006 movie is so over the top.

(14) THE OLD TICKER. “Edgar Allan Poe’s pocket watch among donations to museum” reports the Guardian.

The pocket watch owned by Edgar Allan Poe while he was writing his famous short story The Tell-Tale Heart, in which the murderous narrator compares the thumping of his victim’s heart to the tick of a clock, has been donated to the Poe Museum in Richmond, Virginia.

Literary collector Susan Jaffe Tane gave the watch along with almost 60 other artefacts, including letters and rare first editions. Curator Chris Semtner said Poe’s timepiece was “especially important” because the author owned it while writing the story…

(15) APPRENTICED TO A PIRATE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] This Korean pirate movie sounds like fantasy to me! The Pirates: The Last Royal Treasure comes to Netflix on March 2.

Lured by the promise of fortune and riches, a band of pirates set off in the hopes of uncovering hidden treasure. But when the elements turn against them and the lines between folklore and reality wear thin, they soon realize that some quests are better left unconquered.

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Saturday Night Live’s “Subway Churro skit” with John Mulvaney covers most Broadway musical bases.

[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Chris Barkley, Alex Shvartsman, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, David Langford, Daniel Dern, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Chris.]

Pixel Scroll 1/30/22 Abracapixel

(1) STABBYCON. Reddit’s r/Fantasy section will host “StabbyCon” (named for their annual award, the Stabby) from January 31 through February 11. (Incidentally, voting for the 2021 Stabby Awards will open on Monday January 31 and close on Monday February 7th, at 10 a.m. EST. The link to vote will be posted on Reddit at the appropriate time.)

Our vision for StabbyCon is to celebrate what makes r/Fantasy and the speculative media community so great, and to bring a diverse group of creators into the spotlight through a series of virtual panels, roundtables and AMAs. We hope you’ll enjoy the range of events we’ve got scheduled, and help give a warm r/Fantasy welcome to all of our StabbyCon participants.

Schedule

To accommodate various time zones, each event will start at a scheduled time but will run throughout the day to allow all of our panelists and as many of you as possible a chance to participate. Even if you miss the start of an event, we’d love as many people to drop in as possible.

We will also update this post through Stabbycon so that you can check back in on anything you may have missed. You can also browse the Stabbycon collection to see all of our events.

We’ll also be running daily social threads so you can drop in and chat about each of our events, or anything else SFF related. Our regularly scheduled posts will also continue as per normal throughout the StabbyCon period.

Here’s the first three panels:

Panels

  • Jan 31st, 4pm EST | 9pm GMT – Worldbuilding from the Real World with Krista D. Ball, R.B. Lemberg, Rowenna Miller and Tasha Suri
  • Feb 1st, 12pm EST | 5pm GMT – Unusual Biology with RJ Barker, Sue Burke, Sascha Stronach and Cadwell Turnbull
  • Feb 3rd, 12pm EST | 5pm GMT – Visible Cracks: Personal and Intergenerational Trauma with K.D. Edwards, Akwaeke Emezi, Tyler Hayes, Charlotte Kersten and Virginia McClain

(2) ONYEBUCHI Q&A. [Item by Olav Rokne.] NPR has a very good interview with Tochi Onyebuchi about his new novel Goliath. Some very interesting thoughts about the books commentary on the intersection between race and class. “In ‘Goliath,’ only the rich and white can escape to space as the Earth collapses”.

SUMMERS: So in the book, the mostly white occupants of these space colonies, they take some classes to learn about their privilege, and they end up being classes that don’t really translate into much action. And I’m curious, is that any reflection on the conversations about racial justice that are happening right now in our world?

ONYEBUCHI: Short answer, yes. You know, the very first draft of this book, I think, was completed in 2015. You know, there was a little bit of that there – you know, that idea of white people who were cognizant of their privilege and who were cognizant of, you know, social and socioeconomic divides, that sort of thing. And then, you know, looking at the ways in which the events of the summer of 2020 sort of rippled out into all these different industries and professions, it was fascinating, albeit dispiriting to see all the ways in which people can say all the right things. Corporations on Twitter can say all the right things, and yet, you know, a year later, you know, summer of 2021, you know, you’d look around and you’d ask yourself what had changed. And more often than not, the answer would be nothing.

(3) ALTERNATE REDSHIRTS. John Scalzi signal boosted a reminiscence about covers Redshirts might have had.

(4) YOU’VE BEEN WARNED. Walter Jon Williams’ “Plot Rant” begins —

I just finished listening to an audio book, a mystery/thriller thingie with an interesting, somewhat science-fictiony premise. The writing was on the high end of competent, and the characters held my interest, and the novel’s milieu was interesting and fresh, at least to me.

What finally broke my patience was the author’s method of building suspense, which was to have one of his characters do something bone-stupid in order to get into jeopardy.

We see this on TV all the time, where police routinely charge into villain-rich environments without calling for backup, or people poke sleeping monsters with sticks, or go into a dark cave in search of treasure and/or a kidnap victim. It makes me crazy when I see it on television, too….

(5) LAUNCH PAD IS READY. Rocket Stack Rank has hooked up its ratings links to the various awards people will be voting on.

(6) NOT TO BE MISSED. Tangent Online has posted the “Tangent Online 2021 Recommended Reading List” based on their ratings for short fiction from the past year.

As with previous years, this list is not meant as comprehensive, there being a number of items we didn’t see, especially at the novella length. As was the case with the last several years, we narrowed our focus (with some exceptions) to those stories published in professionally paying markets as defined by SFWA.

There are 300 stories on this year’s list (down 72 from last year’s 372): 235 short stories (down 78 from last year’s 313), 53 novelettes (up 8 from last year’s 45), and 12 novellas (up 2 from last year’s 10).

(7) ALREADY MISSED, BUT YOU COULD CATCH UP. At GeorgeTakei.com: “People Break Down The Most Underrated Television Shows”.

Back in the day, the generations before us only had five channels, or less to chose from for their tv entertainment.

And even then there were stills shows that got overlooked, thank goodness for the idea of implementing reruns.

Now here we are, with more television than we’ll ever be able to watch. Thousands of shows on thousands of channels, worldwide.

So of course, tons of great work will go unnoticed. But maybe we can remedy a few situations….

For example:

“Reaper. On his 21st birthday, Sam discovers his parents sold his soul to the devil before birth and he must now be a bounty hunter for the devil until he dies.” ~ EnigmaCA

(8) FREE TAFF BOOK. The Incompleat Burbee, a digital edition gathering some of Charles Burbee’s finest fanwriting, is the latest addition to TAFF’s library of free downloads. Following on the heels of the Francis T. Laney collection released last month, here is another familiar name to all who read about the 1940s LASFS in Rob Hansen’s Bixelstrasse. The Burbee collection is available in multiple formats at the Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund’s website, where they also hope you’ll make a little donation to the fund. 

Charles Burbee and his comrade-in-arms Francis Towner Laney (see Ah! Sweet Idiocy! and Ah! Sweet Laney!) were among the original “Insurgents” of 1940s Los Angeles fandom, opting for the motto FIJAGH or Fandom Is Just A Goddamn Hobby rather than the then prevailing mood of FIAWOL or Fandom Is A Way Of Life. Burbee in particular preferred humour, sarcasm and sometimes unforgivable put-downs to the solemn worship at the altars of SF and SF professionals that he thought he saw in the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society of that era. No wonder he was fired as editor of the club’s official fanzine Shangri-L’Affaires.

The Incompleat Burbee is a selection of his best and funniest work produced as a Festschrift for his birthday in 1958 by Pete Graham, Ron Ellik, Terry Carr, Dave Rike and “Carl Brandon”, with cover art by William Rotsler. It was twice reprinted, mostly from the same stencils though with some corrections and small additions, in 1959 and 1974. A second, reset edition was published by Arnie and Joyce Katz in 1993.

First published as an Ansible Editions ebook for the TAFF site on 1 February 2022, based on the third printing as scanned by Joe Siclari (to whom many thanks) and available online at Fanac.org. The ebook uses the original William Rotsler cover art. 56,500 words.

(9) HOWARD HESSEMAN (1940-2022). Actor Howard Hesseman died January 29 at the age of 81. He was best known for his non-sff work on the TV series WKRP in Cincinnati and Head of the Class.

He was in all kinds of genre adjacent films like the counter culture drama Billy Jack (as a drama instructor), and comedies such as Mel Brooks’ Silent Movie, the disaster movie parody The Big Bus, and This Is Spinal Tap,

As for genre films, he was in Flight of the Navigator, Amazon Women on the Moon, Martian Child, Halloween II, Bigfoot. On TV he appeared on Ray Bradbury Theater (“Downwind From Gettysburg” as Bayes, creator of the Lincoln robot), The Outer Limits, and Level 9.

(10) MEMORY LANE.

1992 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Thirty years ago at Magicon where Spider Robinson was the Toastmaster, Lois McMaster Bujold’s Barrayar wins the Hugo for Best Novel. It had seen print first in Analog from July through October of 1991 and then in book form from Baen in that year. Other nominated works were Emma Bull’s Bone Dance, Anne McCaffrey‘s All the Weyrs of Pern, Joan D. Vinge’s The Summer Queen, Orson Scott Card’s Xenocide, and Michael Swanwick’s Stations of the Tide. It also won the Locus Award for Best SF Novel and was nominated for a Nebula Award.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 30, 1911 Hugh Marlowe. First, let me note that he was first to play the title character in the very first radio version of The Adventures of Ellery Queen. No, it’s not even genre adjacent but neat none-the-less. As regards genre roles, he’s Tom Stevens in The Day the Earth Stood Still, and Dr. Russell A. Marvin in Earth vs. the Flying Saucers. He was also Harold McPherson in Seven Days in May if you want to count that as genre. (Died 1982.)
  • Born January 30, 1920 Michael Anderson. English Director best remembered for Around the World in 80 Days, Logan’s Run, and perhaps not nearly as much for, Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze. Yes, I saw it. It was, errrr, interesting. He also directed The Martian Chronicles series. (Died 2018.)
  • Born January 30, 1924 Lloyd Alexander. His most well-crafted work is The Chronicles of Prydain. Though drawn off Welsh mythology, they deviate from it in significant ways stripping it of much of its negativity.  To my belief, it is his only genre writing as I don’t hold the Westmark trilogy to actually be fantasy, just an alternative telling of European history. Splitting cat hairs? Maybe. He was also one of the founders of Cricket, an illustrated literary journal for children. The late illustrator Trina Schart Hyman whose art I lust after, errrr, adore was another. (Died 2007.) 
  • Born January 30, 1926 Peter Brachacki. Set designer for the very first episode of Doctor Who. Everything I’ve been able to read on him and that work says that he was not at all interested in working on the series and did so reluctantly under orders. Doctor Who producer Verity Lambert would later recount that she was impressed with Brachacki’s work on the TARDIS interior even though she personally did not like him at all. His design elements persist throughout the fifty years the series has been produced. His only other genre work that I’ve been able to find was Blake’s 7 and a short series called the The Witch’s Daughter done in the late Seventies. The BBC wasn’t always great at documenting who worked on what series. (Died 1980.)
  • Born January 30, 1941 Gregory Benford, 82. His longest running series is Galactic Center Saga, a series I find a little akin to Saberhagen’s Beserker series. I’ve not read enough of it to form a firm opinion though I know some of you of have done so.  Other novels I’ve read by him include Timescape (superb) and A Darker Geometry: A Man-Kzin Novel which was actually was quite excellent. Yes, I do read Baen Books. 
  • Born January 30, 1955 Judith Tarr, 67. I’m fond of her Richard the Lionheart novels which hew closely to the historical record while introducing just enough magic to make them fantasy. The novels also make good use of her keen knowledge of horsemanship as well. Her Queen of the Amazons pairs the historical Alexander the Great, with a meeting with the beautiful Hippolyta, who is queen of the Amazons. Highly recommended. 
  • Born January 30, 1973 Jordan Prentice, 49. Inside every duck is a self-described person of short stature. In the case of Howard the Duck from the movie of the same name, one of those persons was him. He’s not in a lot of SFF roles after his performing debut there though he shows up next as Fingers Finnian in Wolf Girl, playing Sherrif Shelby in Silent But Deadly, Napoleon in Mirror Mirror and Nigel Thumb in The Night Before the Night Before Christmas
  • Born January 30, 1974 Christian Bale, 48. First enters our corner of the mediaverse in a Swedish film called Mio in the Land of Faraway where he plays a character named Yum Yum. Note though that he doesn’t speak in this role as his Swedish voice is done by Max Winerdah. So his playing Demetrius in A Midsummer Night’s Dream is his first speaking role. Next up is American Psycho in which he was Patrick Bateman, that was followed by a role in Reign of Fire as Quinn Abercromby. He was John Preston in Equilibrium, and he voiced Howl in Howl’s Moving Castle, a film well worth seeing.  Need I say who he plays in Batman Begins? I thought not. He’d repeat that in The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises. Amidst being Batman, he was also John Connor in Terminator Salvation. His last genre role to date was voicing Bagheera in Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle asked off Kipling’s All the Mowgli Stories. He’s got a television genre credit, to wit Jim Hawkins in Treasure Island off the Robert Louis Stevenson of that name.

(12) RIDING ON THE CITY OF COCOA BEACH.  Here’s a fun concept – the Lionel Union Pacific Rocket Booster Train. For a mere $1,699.99 you get a Legacy ES44AC locomotive, 6 Standard O boxcars including one with special clearance bars, 5 Heavy duty flatcars with loads and protective covers, and a 21″ sleeping car. And the rocket in the cargo can be assembled into a 30-inch tall scale model. Heck, that’s even taller than a Hugo Award!

(13) TIME FOR REFLECTION. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] From Saturday Night Live — Be careful what you wish for when a magic mirror shows up in Beauty and the Beast!

(14) HEAVIER THAN AIR. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Washington Post Magazine, David A. Taylor tracks down Bill Suitor, who was one of Sean Connery’s stunt doubles in the jetpack scene in Thunderball. He also interviews Air and Space Museum senior curator Mike Neufeld, who explains that rocket belts did not develop because they only had 20 seconds flying time and were very loud at 130 decibels. “Man flies rocketpack more than 1,000 times”.

For many years, I wasn’t sure if what I saw was real or some sort of hopeful childhood vision: I was in a large crowd on the National Mall and a figure in a white spacesuit wearing a jetpack suddenly floated off the ground. He was flying! After rising straight up, he swept forward, then swooped back above the crowd.I was about 5 years old. Was it a “Jetsons” phantom memory? I grew up in a white-bread Virginia suburb and my father was working as a NASA engineer. But this was way cooler.

Then I forgot about it, for decades. But about a year ago, the image popped into my mind and I decided to do some research. I came across a 1967 newspaper clipping with a black-and-white photo. Billed as fun for children, the Pageant of Transportation included a “rocket belt” flying man.

The caption named the rocket man as Bill Suitor. In the photo he floats midair with a balloonist near the Washington Monument. I wondered if Suitor was still around. …

(15) FAN MADE CINEMA. This Star Wars fan film dropped two days ago: The Battlefield – A Star Wars short film made with Unreal Engine 5”.

A new recruit discovers that the Imperial Academy might not have been entirely truthful about the realities of war.

‘The Battlefield’ is part of the series ‘For the Empire’ and was created entirely in Unreal Engine 5 as a workflow test for the upcoming AFK miniseries ‘A Hole in the World’.

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. J. Michael Straczynski has made public another Babylon 5 commentary: “The Coming of Shadows”.

For every new B5 commentary video I post on my Patreon page, I release a prior one into the wild. The other day I posted a full-length sync-up commentary on COMES THE INQUISITOR, so that means I can now release the next one in line, THE COMING OF SHADOWS. The Patreon page is where all the Cool Kids hang out, and in return for their support get first news on all of my upcoming projects, the inside track on development, access to scripts, audio, these commentaries, photos and other spiffiness. There’s also a writer’s tier where those who want an intensive program of group critiquing (by me and the other members) and original essays on the craft of writing hang out.

All of that being said, here’s the free link to my full-length video commentary on THE COMING OF SHADOWS.

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Chris Barkley, David Langford, Olav Rokne, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy  for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day BGrandrath.]

Pixel Scroll 1/16/22 I Hereby Dub The Current Dominant Genre (Whatever It May Be) Punky McPunkcore

(1) WOLVERTON FAMILY GOFUNDME. Following the death of Dave Wolverton, Dave’s family and friends are raising money on GoFundMe for his funeral and the family’s expenses. Here’s the link: “Please Help the Family of Dave Wolverton-Farland”.

David Doering also reports, “Spencer [Wolverton] called me to say his dad’s service will be this coming Friday, January 21, at 11 a.m. MST in St. George, Utah. There will be a link posted broadcasting the event for those who cannot attend.” 

(2) URSA MAJOR. Nominations for the Ursa Major Awards are open and will continue until February 12.

To nominate online, all people must first enroll. Go here to ENROLL FOR ONLINE NOMINATIONS or to LOGIN if you have already enrolled.

You may choose up to five nominees for each category:

Nominations may be made for the following categories:

Best Anthropomorphic Motion Picture
Best Anthropomorphic Dramatic Short Work
Best Anthropomorphic Dramatic Series
Best Anthropomorphic Novel
Best Anthropomorphic Short Fiction
Best Anthropomorphic Other Literary Work
Best Anthropomorphic Non-Fiction Work
Best Anthropomorphic Graphic Story
Best Anthropomorphic Comic Strip
Best Anthropomorphic Magazine
Best Anthropomorphic Published Illustration
Best Anthropomorphic Game
Best Anthropomorphic Website
Best Anthropomorphic Costume (Fursuit)

(3) REH AWARDS. Nominations for the 2022 Robert E. Howard Awards are open and will continue through January 31. You do not have to currently be a member of the Robert E. Howard Foundation to send in nominees at this stage of the process. However, the Final ballot will only be sent out to current Robert E. Howard Foundation members (members who have paid dues for the year 2022). That ballot will be released on February 15. See the link for the complete guidelines.

(4) HOWARD’S HOME ON THE RANGE. For more Robert E. Howard related content, The Cromcast has put a whole bunch of videos of the 2021 Howard Days in Cross Plains, Texas, on their YouTube channel here.

(5) CAUCUS RACE. On the third day, they squeed again: Simon McNeil picks up the baton with “Notes on Squeecore”.

…Now here I want to pause on one of the points the Rite Gud podcast were clear on here that, within their Squeecore definition it was not sufficient that a work be discursive so much as that a work must insist that its discursive element be seen and I think this is where Redshirts becomes a valuable point of discussion. Absolutely nobody is suggesting that the idea of disposable, red-shirted, extras on Star Trek was somehow unexplored prior to 2012. However Redshirts did a lot to foreground this through its fourth-wall-breaking conclusion. Now me? I like a fourth-wall break when it’s well executed and I think it was well executed in Redshirts. This essay should not be seen as an attempt to bury John Scalzi. But regardless of where we stand on matters of taste regarding the literary device or where we stand on the quality of execution of the device in this case, it still holds that this execution, in this story, served to underline the discursive elements of Redshirts such that it insisted the audience engage with them. It wasn’t sufficient to construct a funhouse mirror reflection of the Gothic as Peake did in his Gormenghast books, nor to interrogate the cultural assumptions of a genre as Pratchett did with classic British fantasy in his early Discworld novels – both of these were deconstructive works but neither, especially not Peake, felt much need to insist that the audience acknowledge that a deconstruction was in progress. But Scalzi had his characters literally escape from their work of fiction to plead for consideration from their own fictive creators. This is not a subtle work of deconstruction….

(6) SPSFC INSIDER. Alex Hormann of Boundary’s Edge shares what it’s like to be a Self-Published Science Fiction Competition judge so far: “SPSFC At Boundary’s Edge: Personal Thoughts”.

Thought #2: The 20% Rule

Generally speaking, I don’t DNF books. Even if I’m not enjoying a book, I push through to the end in the hopes of salvaging something from my investment. With the SPSFC, we had to read the opening 20% and decide if we should continue. This was a very different experience for me, and I’m still not sure if it was helpful. On the one hand, you can get a pretty good idea of what a book will be like from that sample. But on the other, you’re essentially reading an introduction with none of the payoff. There were some books that I knew within the first couple of pages that I wasn’t going to enjoy, almost always for stylistic or formatting reasons. Others proved to be strong enough in the opening chapters that they progressed further, only to lose my interest further on. I can’t help but wonder if those books I voted not to continue became something wonderful later on. And there was a book that made it through with a very strong start that completely lost me with its final chapters. This was also the stage of the competition where a book needed a majority vote to progress further. With only three judges, only two Yes votes were required, meaning we ended up with eleven books meeting the criteria. I don’t think letting an extra book slip through the cuts phase did any real harm to our allocation, but it did mean a little extra work in the next phase. Of the eleven that made it through, I had voted to continue with seven of them, and had voted for two more that ultimately failed to make the cut.

(7) ANSWER KEY. Here are Rich Horton’s “Answers to BIPOC SF/Fantasy Quiz” from Strange at Ecbatan.

1. Ava DuVernay, the acclaimed director of Selma, became the first Black woman to direct a live action feature with over a $100,000,000 budget with which 2018 film, an adaptation of a beloved Newbery Award winner?

Answer: A Wrinkle in Time

(8) SEE GERMANY’S BIGGEST SFF LIBRARY. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] German SFF writer Maja Ilisch reports about a visit to the Phantastische Bibliothek in Wetzlar, Germany’s biggest SFF specialty library. The post is in German, but there are photos: “Allein unter Büchern”.

(9) BILL WRIGHT (1937-2022). Australian fan Bill Wright died January 16. Bill was a founding member of both ANZAPA and the Nova Mob. He served as awards administrator for the Australian Science Fiction Foundation. He was secretary for the first Aussiecon in 1975 and helped organize the Bring Bruce Bayside Fan Fund in 2004. Bill was a Life Member of the Melbourne Science Fiction Club. One of his fanzines with an international following was Interstellar Ramjet Scoop.

In 2013 at the age of 76 he was voted the Down Under Fan Fund delegate. Bill was honored with the A. Bertram Chandler Award in 2017.

(And I was always in Bill’s debt for introducing me to Foster’s Lager when he and Robin Johnson were at L.A.Con I to promote the first Australian Worldcon bid.)

(10) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1995 [Item by Cat Eldridge.]  “Coffee – the finest organic suspension ever devised. It’s got me through the worst of the last three years. I beat the Borg with it.” — Captain Kathryn Janeway, Star Trek: Voyager’s “Hunters”. 

On this evening twenty-seven years ago on UPN, Star Trek: Voyager premiered. The fourth spinoff from the original series after the animated series, the Next Generation and Deep Space Nine, it featured the first female commander in the form of Captain Kathryn Janeway, played by Kate Mulgrew. 

It was created by Rick Berman, Michael Piller, and Jeri Taylor. Berman served as head executive producer, assisted by a series of executive proucers — Piller, Taylor, Brannon Braga and Kenneth Biller. Of those, Braga is still the most active with work on The Orville.

It ran for seven seasons  and one seventy-two episodes. Four episodes, “Caretaker”, “Dark Frontier”, “Flesh and Blood” and “Endgame” originally aired as ninety minute episodes. 

Of the series, and not at all surprisingly, Voyager gets the highest Bechdel test rating. Oh, and that quote I start this piece with in 2015, was tweeted by astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti International Space Station when they were having a coffee delivery. She was wearing a Trek uniform when she did so.

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 16, 1887 John Hamilton. He’s no doubt remembered best for his role as Perry White in the Fifties Adventures of Superman series. He also was in the Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe serial as Professor Gordon, and I see he played G.F. Hillman in the Forties Captain America serial film. (Died 1958.)
  • Born January 16, 1903 Harold A. Davis. Notable as another writer of the Doc Savage novels under the pseudonym Kenneth Robeson. He was the first ghostwriter to fill in for Lester Dent on Doc Savage.  Davis would create the character of Ham’s pet ape Chemistry in Dust of Death.  (Died 1955.)
  • Born January 16, 1905 Festus Pragnell. Ok he’s here not because he had all that a distinguished a career as a writer or illustrator, but because of the charming story one fan left us of his encounter with him which you can read here. Festus himself wrote but three novels (The Green Man of KilsonaThe Green Man of Graypec and The Terror from Timorkal), plus he wrote a series of stories about Don Hargreaves’ adventures on Mars. Be prepared to pay dearly if you want to read him as he’s not made it into the digital age and exists mostly only in the original Amazing Stories only. (Died 1977.)
  • Born January 16, 1943 Michael Atwell. He appeared in Doctor Who twice, first in a Second Doctor story, “The Ice Warriors”, and later in the in the Sixth Doctor story, “Attack of the Cybermen “. He also voiced Goblin in the Labyrinth film, and had a recurring role in Dinotopia. (Died 2006.)
  • Born January 16, 1948 John Carpenter, 74. My favorite films by him? Big Trouble in Little China and Escape from New York.  His films include the Halloween franchise, The ThingStarman (simply wonderful), The Philadelphia ExperimentGhosts of Mars and many other films. What do you consider him to done that you like, or don’t like for that matter? I’m not fond of Escape from L.A. as I keep comparing to the stellar popcorn film that the previous Escape film is.
  • Born January 16, 1970 Garth Ennis, 52. Comic writer who’s no doubt best known for  Preacher which he did with illustrator Steve Dillon, and his stellar nine-year run on the Punisher franchise. I’m very fond of his work on Judge Dredd which is extensive, and his time spent scripting Etrigan the Demon For DC back in the mid Nineties. What by him should I be reading?
  • Born January 16, 1974 Kate Moss, 48. Yes, she’s done SF. To be precise Black Adder which we discussed a bit earlier. She played Maid Marian in “Blackadder Back & Forth” in which as IMDB puts it “At a New Millennium Eve party, Blackadder and Baldrick test their new time machine and ping pong through history encountering famous characters and changing events rather alarmingly.” You can watch it here.
  • Born January 16, 1976 Eva Habermann, 36. She is best known for playing the role of Zev Bellringer on Lexx. She was succeeded in her role by Xenia Seeberg. Ok I’ll confess that I’ve never seen the series which I know exists in both R and not so R versions. Who here has seen it in either form? She was also Ens. Johanna Pressler in Star Command, a pilot that wasn’t to be a series that was written by Melinda Snodgrass. And she had a role in the Code Name: Eternity series as Dr. Rosalind Steiner.

(13) COMICS SECTION.

(14) I FOUGHT THE LAW AND THE LAW WON. “Video game preservation is complicated, both legally and technically” – the Washington Post tells about the challenges.

…A 2018 report by the Association of Research Libraries found that archivists are “frustrated and deeply concerned” regarding copyright policies related to software, and they charge the current legal environment of “imperiling the future of digital memory.” The obstacles archivists face range from legal restrictions around intellectual property to the technological challenges of obtaining or re-creating versions of the various consoles, computers and servers required to play various titles published over the years. Not only must the games be preserved, they also need to be playable, a quandary akin to needing a record player to listen to a rare vinyl album.

However, the legal hurdle to their research — chiefly, risking infringing on the copyrights of multibillion-dollar companies — remains the biggest for preservationists seeking access to games for academic research….

(15) SUPERNATURAL SUPERHIGHWAY. Paul Weimer shares his take about “Tim Powers’ Alternate Routes at A Green Man Review.

…Writing abouit supernatural doings in Southern California is nothing new for Powers, but this novel felt and reads distinctly different than his previous novels set in Southern California and wrapping around supernatural doings, but not always to its benefit. A Tim Powers novel for me is one with magic beneath the surface of our ordinary world that a few people can access. This often ties into a Secret History of events that we think we know, but we really don’t know the full story until Powers comes along. Characters with hidden motivations that make sense only in the denouement.. Lush use of setting and place. Tricks with time, character and perspective. Tim Powers work isn’t as byzantine as, say, Gene Wolfe, but paying attention and reading closely are absolute musts to figure out what is going on.

Alternate Routes has some of these but not as many as one might expect from a Tim Powers novel. For lack of a better phrase, Alternate Routes reads in a much more straightforward fashion, plot wise, than the typical Powers novel….

(16) WHAM! Meanwhile, back at Nerds of a Feather, Paul Weimer brings us up to speed about the second book in a series: “Microreview [book]: Chaos Vector by Megan O’Keefe”.

…Velocity Weapon tells a twisty story where Sanda is lied to and tricked by an AI on an enemy warship, and Biran desperately seeks political power for, primarily, finding out what has happened to his sister. The novel was particularly potent for a “Wham! moment” where Sanda’s understanding of what was happening to her, and why, turned out to be far far different than she knew.

Now, with a solar system seething with potential conflict, Sanda free of her captivity, and Biran in a position of power within the Keepers, Chaos Vector continues the story of these two siblings as revelations and conflicts from the first novel start to manifest…as well as new mysteries, and yes, new wham moments!

(17) VOX PLONKS HIS MAGIC TWANGER. Brian Z. asks, “Is it official puppy news when Scott Adams calls VD his mascot?” Oh, no – he’s going to sing!

(18) OUT-OF-BODY EXPERIENCE. I’m not a big game-player, so I’m glad to have Joe DelFranco tell me what made It Takes Two a prize-winning game: “Microreview [Video Game]: It Takes Two by Hazelight Studios”.  

The Game Awards Game of the Year winner, It Takes Two, asks two players to come together to repair an ailing marriage. In many relationships, poor communication causes the initial bond between partners to break down. Therein lies the crux of the conflict with It Takes Two. Cody and May, fed-up with their relationship, cause their daughter Rose much distress. Rose consults Dr. Hakim’s Book of Love to help bring them back together. With her tears, she binds her parent’s souls into two wooden dolls. Now it’s up to the players to help the protagonists get out of this mess and back to their bodies….

(19) PREDICTING PARENTHOOD. “Futurist Amy Webb has predictions on 5G, the metaverse, creating babies and a host of other bold topics” in the Washington Post.

S.Z.: Reading your book it feels like you have an almost philosophical belief that people should overhaul what they think about how humans are created. If synthetic biology can deliver on some of these promises — if it removes any age restriction on egg fertilization, say, or if embryos can be gestated outside a human body — what do these changes do to us as a society? Do they alter it fundamentally?

A.W.: The thing is we never stopped and asked how we got to this point. Until now a baby was a man and a woman and having the structures to be in place for that to happen. And now synthetic biology is giving us other options. Forty years into the future, I think it may be the case that there are many parents to one child, or that a 70-year-old and their 60-year old spouse decide to have a baby. Why would we close ourselves off to those possibilities?

(20) THERPEUTIC CREDENTIALS. [Item by Michael Toman.] Be sure to check out the link on the fur color of your cat and the supernatural! “Research Shows That Owning Cats Can, Indeed, Heal You” reports MSN.com. Hope that all in your household, including the unmasked four-pawed mammals, are staying Safe and Well.

1. Owning a cat can actually reduce your risk of having a heart attack.

According to an impressive 10-year study of more than 4,000 Americans, cat owners showed a 30 percent lower risk of death by heart attack than those who didn’t have a feline companion.

Participants had a lower heart rate, lower stress levels, and lower blood pressure.

Dr Adnan Qureshi, senior author of the study, said, “For years we have known that psychological stress and anxiety are related to cardiovascular events, particularly heart attacks.”

(21) FROM BACK IN THE DAY. “Oldest remains of modern humans are much older than thought, researchers say”Yahoo! outlines the discovery.

Some of the oldest remains of modern humans in the world are much older than scientists thought.

The remains, known as Omo I, were found in southwest Ethiopia in the late 1960s. The bone and skull fragments researchers discovered were some of the oldest known remains of Homo sapiens.

Initial research suggested they were nearly 200,000 years old, but new research shows the remains are at least 230,000 years old.  The peer-reviewed research was published in the journal Nature on Wednesday

(22) PROLIFERATING PRESIDENTS. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Last night Saturday Night Live began with a cold open in which President Biden blamed the Omicron outbreak on people buying tickets to Spider-Man and we found out that we actually don’t live in the real universe but rather one started as a joke by having the Cubs win the World Series. You know, that last bit makes some sense.

[Thanks to JJ, Chris Barkley, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Cora Buhlert, Brian Z., Jeffrey Smith, Bill, David Doering, John A. Arkansawyer, 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 Cora Buhlert.]

Pixel Scroll 12/19/21 Who Put The Clarke In The Rama Lama File Scroll?

(1) THE HUGO RUNOFFS. The Hugo Awards official site has the 2021 voting results online. (But you already know that, right?)

  • Final ballot placements and detailed voting counts are available here (PDF).
  • Nominating details are here (PDF).

(2) CRUNCHING THE NUMBERS. Nicholas Whyte’s “2021 Hugos in detail” gives his analysis of the voting statistics released after last night’s ceremony. Here’s a narrative hook for you –

Four categories saw the total number of votes for finalists other than No Award dip below 30% of the total poll – Best Fan Writer (28.8%), Best Professional Editor (Long Form) (28.2%), Best Fanzine (27.2%), and Best Fancast (26.8%). Best Fancast was within 43 votes of not being awarded at all, due to dropping below the 25% threshold….

His comments on the Best Related Work category include:

Unusually, DisCon 3 published No Award runoff figures for every place in every category (the constitution only specifies that this should be done in determining the winner). The numbers for No Award here were particularly high in the last four places, with 358 preferring No Award to 753 who preferred George R. R. Martin Can Fuck Off Into the Sun….

Pat Cadigan shared her opinion of the result in that category with her Facebook readers.  

Also relieved that the tirade against George RR Martin did not win the Hugo. I am still baffled as to how a screed like that could have been nominated in a category that has included complex, book-length works of biography, scholarship, art, and other far more worthy examples of associated work.

I don’t care what you think of George RR Martin. I don’t care if you think the author was right. That’s not my point. A blog entry or single article is not in any way equivalent to the winner, which is a translation of Beowulf by Maria Dhavana Headley. Translating requires a lot more care, actual knowledge, and hard work than merely venting your spleen.

That would-be polemic was the Donald Trump of Hugo nominations: unworthy.

(3) MASQUERADE PHOTOS. Kevin Roche responded to a request in comments for links to DisCon III Masquerade photos.

(4) CAVALCADE OF FORMER CHAIRS. The 2021 Worldcon Chairs Photo Session is online at YouTube. Nearly all of those present at DisCon III made it to the session. Also includes current chair Mary Robinette Kowal, and a Chengdu representative.

The traditional gathering of chairs of the World Science Fiction Convention, held at DisCon III, the 79th World Science Fiction Convention, in Washington DC. Videography by Lisa Hayes.

(5) CORRECTION TO DISCON III ART SHOW SALES. “DisCon III regrets that there was an error in how sales tax was calculated for sales in the Art Show,” says today’s news release:

Instead of the correct 6% rate, it was being calculated as 10%. If you were mischarged, we are providing you two options. 

(1) You can consider the additional 4% as a bonus to the artist. We will pay the correct sales tax amount to the District of Columbia, with all of the remaining amount going to the artist.

(2) You can request a refund of the 4% overcharge by sending an email to finance@discon3.org. Please submit your request by Wednesday, December 29 as we cannot pay the artists for their sales until we know the amount due them. If you have any questions or concerns about this issue, also address them to the Finance team.

(6) THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN. Kevin Standlee reports in “Worldcon 2021 Day 4: Final Business Meeting Results” what the meeting decided about seven new amendments to the WSFS Constitution that were taken up after the Site Selection report was made at Saturday’s business meeting. You can read the text of items F.1 to F.7 in the business meeting Agenda on pages 36-41. See Kevin’s post for his commentary about the proceedings.

  • F.1 One Episode per Series –– failed on a show of hands
  • F.2 30 Days Hath New Business — passed 34-15.
  • F.3 The Statue of Liberty Play — passed on a show of hands.
  • F.4 Shut Up and Take My Money — referred to a special committee 
  • F.5 A Matter of Days — adopted by unanimous consent
  • F.6 Non-transferrability of Voting Rights — adopted on a 35-22 vote
  • F.7 Best Audiobook — referred the proposal to the Hugo Awards Study Committee on a vote by show of hands.

(7) WHICH ONE IS THE FILER? Andrew (not Werdna) assures us, “I’m the non-Narn in this picture.” But he also knew that merely saying we could tell who he was by his distinctive headgear wasn’t going to be enough: “I was right — I ran into another guy with a button covered bucket hat.”

(8) RAYTHEON PRESENCE AT HUGOS. Gizmodo’s Justin Carter used his platform to presume that his opinion represents all fans’ opinions: “The Hugo Awards Face Backlash for Raytheon Sponsorship”.  But it’s true that some are protesting the decision.

…At time of writing, DisCon has yet to speak on the partnership with Raytheon for the event. For now, fans are left feeling soured that a night that should’ve been about a genre they loved had to brush up against a reality they hate.

(9) YOUR TURN IN THE BARREL. Amber Benson advises SFWA Blog readers about “Managing A Creator’s Public Profile and Navigating Audience Entitlement”.

….What happens when you step out of fandom into the pole position? A.k.a., ‘I’ve written a thing and it’s been published and now people are talking about it and me on the internet’?

Well, I’m not going to lie. You may be in for a very overwhelming and unsettling experience. Because all those feelings of ownership you had as a fan, well, they are now going to be applied to you and your work. By people you have never met before who have no compunction about @replying to you on social media in order to say mean things about you.

To a lot of these people, you have ceased to be a real live human being with feelings. You are now a “public figure” and that comes with many caveats, including being physically and emotionally vulnerable in a way that fans, with their ability to remain anonymous, are not. It also means you will be open to ridicule, judgement, and disdain online (and sometimes to your face). In balance, you will also be loved, put on a pedestal, and maybe even called a “genius.”

You and your work now belong to the world at large. And that world contains three kinds of people: fans who love what you create, critics who hate your output—and everyone else in the world who could give a crap that you make art. And between you and me, I’m not sure what’s more painful: the armchair critics who think you stink (at least they’re thinking about you) or the fact that 90 percent of the world, upon hearing your name, will only mutter: Who . . . ?

So how do you handle all of the attention—both positive, negative, and ambivalent—when you finally put your work out into this very complicated world? I have my thoughts on the subject and I will share them with you below….

(10) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1938 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Eighty-three years ago, Hercule Poirot’s Christmas was first published by the Collins Crime Club. In the States, it bore first the title of Murder for Christmas and later A Holiday fur Murder when published in paperback.

Critics generally thought it was one of her best mysteries. The New York Times Book Review critic Issac Anderson said of it that “Poirot has solved some puzzling mysteries in his time, but never has his mighty brain functioned more brilliantly than in Murder for Christmas.”

The story was adapted for television in an episode of Agatha Christie’s Poirot starring David Suchet as Hercule Poirot, first aired in the UK on Christmas 1994. The BBC has produced it twice for radio with it first being broadcast on Christmas Eve 1975 with John Moffatt as Hercule Poirot. A second production was broadcast on Christmas Eve 1986 featuring Peter Sallis as Poirot. 

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 19, 1902 Sir Ralph Richardson. God in Time Bandits but also Earl of Greystoke in Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes (which gets a remarkably great rating at Rotten Tomatoes in my opinion) and Chief Rabbit in Watership Down. Also the Head Librarian in Rollerball which I’ll admit I’ve never seen and have no desire to do so. And a caterpillar in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. And Satan in the Tales from the Crypt film. Oh, my he has had an interesting genre film career! (Died 1983.)
  • Born December 19, 1952 Linda Woolverton, 69. She’s the first woman to have written a Disney animated feature, Beauty and the Beast, which was the first animated film ever to be nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards. She also co-wrote The Lion King screenplay (along with Irene Mecchi and Jonathan Roberts). 
  • Born December 19, 1960 Dave Hutchinson, 61. Best known for his Fractured Europe series which won a BSFA Award for the third novel, Europe in WinterEurope at Midnight was nominated for a John W. Campbell Memorial Award and the Clarke as well. I’ve listened to the entire series and it’s quite fascinating. He’s got some other genre fiction as well but I’ve not delved into any of those yet. 
  • Born December 19, 1961 Matthew Waterhouse, 60. He’s best known as Adric, companion to the Fourth and Fifth Doctors. He was the youngest actor in that role at the time. And yes, he too shows up in The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot. Theatre wise, he’s appeared in productions of Peter PanA Midsummer Night’s Dream (as Puck), The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and Hamlet. Oddly enough, he’s not, to my knowledge, done any Who work at Big Finish.
  • Born December 19, 1969 Kristy Swanson, 53. Her first starring genre  film role was in Wes Craven’s Deadly Friend, but no doubt her best known genre role was as the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer. She also shows up in Alfred Hitchcock PresentsThe PhantomNot Quite Human and The Black Hole. For the record, I like her version of Buffy the Vampire Slayer! 
  • Born December 19, 1972 Alyssa Milano, 49. Phoebe Halliwell in the long running original Charmed series. Other genre appearances include on Outer Limits, the second Fantasy Island series, Embrace of the VampireDouble Dragon, the Young Justice animated series as the voice of Poison Ivy and more voice work in DC’s The Spectre excellent animated short as a spoiled rich young thing with a murderous vent who comes to a most fitting and quite bloody end.
  • Born December 19, 1975 Brandon Sanderson, 46. He is best known for the Cosmere universe, in which most of his fantasy novels, the Mistborn series and The Stormlight Archive, which was nominatedfor a Best Series Hugo at Worldcon 76, are set. He finished Jordan’s Wheel of Time series. He’s got several Hugos, both at LoneStarCon 3 for his “The Emperor’s Soul” novella and also for a Best Related Work Hugo for Writing Excuses, Season Seven
  • Born December 19, 1979 Robin Sloan, 42. Author of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore which definitely has fantasy elements in it and is a damn fine read. His second novel which he sent me to consider reviewing, Sourdough or, Lois and Her Adventures in the Underground Market, is also probably genre adjacent but is also weirdly about food as well. And he’s a really nice person.

(12) COMICS SECTION.

(13) YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED. Edd Lai is the guy – “Guy Creates Terrifying Comics That Don’t End as You’d Expect” at Pupperish.

Over the last decade or so there has been a good selection of web comics that tell some brilliant stories in a variety of different art styles. From Shen to Yehuda Devir, these brilliant comics have gained a bunch of recognition. One artist named Edd Lai has made some uplifting comics that set themselves up as horror comics and surprise you with their endings. Here are a selection of these brilliant comics. Let’s give them the recognition they deserve.

(14) WHERE IS IT? We’ve heard of unwritten codes – now Marvel gives us non-written codes. So to speak: “Marvel Comics Overhauls Digital Copy Redemption Program” at CBR.com.

Readers were taken aback this week when Marvel’s new releases did not include the traditional stickers in them that can be removed to reveal a special code that can be used to redeem a digital copy of the issue online using the Marvel Comics app. When someone inquired with Marvel as to whether it was simply a printing error, a Marvel representative revealed that it was not.

The representative explained, “Hi, Chris. It’s not a misprint, but a process update. Please follow the instructions on that code page, they will tell you step-by-step how to get codes for your comics, and any other details you need to know. Thanks!”

…If customers just have to go through a different system to get the same digital copies, this is not that significant, but fans are naturally wondering whether this is the first step towards once again stopping the digital redemption program.

(15) WITHOUT LIMITS. James Davis Nicoll tells Tor.com readers about “5 Stories in Which Great Power Is Not Always Used Responsibly”.

Imagine, if you will, that fate has imbued you with extraordinary power. Would you use that power responsibly? Would you even know what “responsibly” means? It’s easy to set out with the best of intentions, only to discover too late one has fallen into profound error. Consider these five novels.

(16) TIMELESS. [Item by Hampus Eckerman.] Not sure why this movie about a man travelling in time to celebrate Christmas in the year 2020 is listed as a Comedy. A tragedy seems more fitting. IMDb listing for the Hallmark Channel’s A Timeless Christmas.

Charles Whitley travels from 1903 to 2020 where he meets Megan Turner and experiences a 21st Century Christmas.

(17) TOP DOLLAR. An Edward Gorey illustration for a Frank Belknap Long sff collection set an auction record. Goreyana has the story: “A New Record for Gorey Art at Auction”.

…This was followed shortly thereafter by a new record auction price for original artwork by Edward Gorey – $27,500.00 (hammer price plus buyer’s premium) for a 1964  pen & ink book cover design for The Dark Beasts, a paperback collection of stories by Frank Belknap Long (this piece has not been added to my collection)….

(18) LOAD THE CANON. StarWars.com tells comics fans to mark the date: “Marvel’s Han Solo & Chewbacca Series Coming March 2022”.

The galaxy’s greatest smuggler and his Wookiee co-pilot are taking on a new job: starring in their own comic.

Han Solo & Chewbacca, a new series from Marvel, will launch in March 2022, StarWars.com can exclusively reveal. Written by Marc Guggenheim and pencilled by David Messina, the monthly comic follows Han and Chewie a few years before the events of Star Wars: A New Hope, as the duo teams up with Greedo — in better times, apparently — on a heist for Jabba the Hutt….

 The comic’s writer does a Q&A in the post:

…StarWars.com: And Chewie?

Marc Guggenheim: Chewbacca’s been alive hundreds of years longer than Han. He tries to offer Han the benefit of his experience, to offer a more evolved perspective on things, but Han usually goes his own way. And the thing is, Chewie is just fine with that. He’s good to go with the flow and let Han call the shots because he knows that, no matter what, Han’s got his back. Chewie’s an interesting character to write, obviously, because he only speaks Shyriiwook, so a lot of this I have to get out by dint of the circumstances Han and Chewie find themselves in, as well as Han’s reactions to what Chewie is saying.

I’m gonna be doing a future issue exclusively from Chewbacca’s point of view, so that should be a lot of fun. Hopefully, we can get into Chewie’s head in a way we never have seen before….

(19) STARSHIP TITANIC. Michael Palin’s Starship Titanic is available to listen to at BBC Radio 4 beginning today. It will be online for another 29 days.

Michael Palin stars in an exclusive adaptation of Terry Jones’s comic novel. A tale of interstellar skulduggery, romance and unhinged robots based in Douglas Adams’s universe.

Far off in the centre of one of the less well-chartered quadrants of the universe, a vast civilisation is preparing to launch the most technologically advanced starship ever – Starship Titanic While the galaxy’s media looks on, it unfortunately undergoes SMEF (Spontaneous Massive Existence Failure) and disappears. Leovinus, the designer of the ship, uncovers shoddy workmanship, poor cybernetics and a series of increasingly eccentric robots. The owners, Scraliontis and Brobostigan, were intent on destroying the ship and claiming the insurance.

Meanwhile in Oxfordshire, four humans are inspecting a property they intend buying, only to see it crushed under the re-materialising Starship. This disaster is swiftly followed by an invitation from an over-attentive robot to come aboard, and Lucy, Dan and Nettie are catapulted into a series of increasingly bizarre encounters.

Stylistically emulating the work of the great Douglas Adams in Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, the late Terry Jones weaves a fabulously mad and comic tale, adapted by Ian Billings and directed by Dirk Maggs, who also directed the last four editions of the Hitchhiker’s sagas.

VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Last night’s Saturday Night Live was mostly repeats because of Covid.  They rebroadcast a 1991 holiday special on global warming featuring Tom Hanks as Dean Martin and Mike Myers as Carl Sagan.  The news is that Isaac Asimov was a character, played by Phil Hartman (who arrives at the 5:00-minute mark). I thought George RR Martin was the only sf writer parodied on SNL, but Asimov was caricatured at least once.

[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Sheila Addison, Dann, Nicholas Whyte, Andrew (not Werdna), Kevin Roche, 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 Jim Janney.]