Pixel Scroll 5/14/22 Scroll Me A Pixel I’ll Be Back For Breakfast

(1) BRAM STOKER LOSERS UNITE. Scott Edelman has famously lost many Bram Stoker Awards – and he has the card to prove it. He invites tonight’s unlucky nominees to become card-carrying members of this group.  

Tonight’s Bram Stoker awards ceremony means — there will be winners — but also losers. If any of the new Never Winner losers created tonight would like this Susan Lucci of the HWA to mail you one of my “It is an honor to be nominated” cards — ask, and one will be sent your way!

However — if you’re a previous Never Winner in Denver tonight who already owns of one of these cards and should lose yet again — please track down Lee Murray, whom I have deputized to punch you a new hole. Good … luck?

(2) LIVE LONG ENOUGH, YOU’LL PROSPER. Somtow Sucharitkul tells Facebook readers why a recent Star Trek episode rang a bell. BEWARE SPOILERS.

SPOILER COMING – But For What Exactly?

The Enterprise discovers that a comet is hurtling toward a planet that doesn’t have warp drive and whose civilization they cannot interfere with because of the prime directive. Presently, they discover that the comet is alive, and has some kind of intelligence. The only way to save the planet is to find a way to communicate with the comet, and it turns out that the key is to sing to it a folk song from someone’s homeworld….

Yes, this is the plot of the new episode of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, but it’s also the plot of my 2001 Star Trek Novel, “Do Comets Dream?” which is itself vaguely adapted from a tale told in my Inquestor series, “The Comet That Cried for Its Mother”, originally published in AMAZING….

(3) IT’S A MASSACRE. “Everything on Broadcast TV Just Got Canceled” Vanity Fair declared yesterday. It will feel like that if you watched sff on CW.

In the ever-changing television landscape, this past Thursday was a particularly tough time to be a broadcast television show. Per TV Guide, 17 broadcast television shows were officially given the axe by their respective networks yesterday. “It’s the Red Wedding at WBTV/CW today,” tweeted showrunner Julie Plec, whose CW shows Legacies and Roswell, New Mexico were both among the carnage. “Much more to say, but not today. Loads of gratitude coming for fans and cast and crew in future tweets. But today, we mourn.” 

The CW was hit particularly hard, with nine shows getting chopped in all. Along with Legacies and Roswell, New Mexico, the teen-focused network said goodbye to Dynasty after five seasons, In The Dark after four seasons, and Batwoman after three seasons. The network is currently up for sale, which may explain why it was particularly ruthless with its cancellations and downsizing its slate from 19 original scripted series to 11 original scripted series ahead of next fall….

(4) WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT, ALFIE? James Wallace Harris reprints and analyzes Alfred Bester’s vintage analysis of the genre in “Blows Against The Empire: Alfred Bester’s 1953 Critique of Science Fiction” at Classics of Science Fiction (a 2020 post).

…Bester is looking back over what many have called the Golden Age of Science Fiction and burning it down with his blaster. I wish I could find the fan reaction to this essay from back in the 1950s, but Google only returns seven results. And for those who aren’t familiar with the name Alfred Bester, he wrote two books in the 1950s that became classics: The Stars My Destination and The Demolished Man. At the time Bester had a reputation for being a writing stylist and innovator. So getting a dressing down from one of our own must have been painful.

I wonder what I would have thought if I read and understood this essay in 1962 when I first began reading science fiction. Science fiction wasn’t popular then like it is today. Science fiction was one step up from comic books, and you were called retarded (their word back then) by your peers if you read comics. I remembered also being called a geek and zero for reading SF. Back then those terms were the social kiss of death. I had two buddies that read science fiction in high school and I remember being very hurt by George’s mother when she sat is down one day and gave us a serious talk about evils of reading science fiction. George’s mother was a sophisticated, well-educated, widely traveled woman, and I was always impressed with her thoughts, so it really hurt when she tried to convince us we were reading trash. She implied reading SF was a sign we were emotionally and intellectually immature. We thought we were Slans…

(5) OPPOSING BOOK BANS. “More than 25 Organizations Join ALA’s ‘Unite Against Book Bans’ Campaign”. Among them are the Authors Guild and Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.

The American Library Association this week announced that more than 25 major organizations, including a host of publishers and author and bookseller groups, have joined its Unite Against Book Bans campaign, an effort to help communities defend the freedom to read. The ALA launched the campaign in April to raise awareness about the surge in book bans and other legislation targeting the work of schools and libraries, with support from the Steve and Loree Potash Family Foundation and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

“Our partners and supporters are critical in moving the needle to ultimately bring an end to book bans,” said Deborah Caldwell-Stone, director of the ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom. “It’s time that policymakers understand the severity of this issue. ALA is taking the steps necessary to protect individuals’ access to information, but we can’t do this alone.”…

“Three-quarters of the 1,100 plus books currently banned in public schools in the United States have been written by authors of color, LGBTQ authors, or other traditionally marginalized voices,” said Authors Guild CEO Mary Rasenberger, in a statement.

(6) NAMING CONVENTIONS. He has a point –

(7) PERSONAL TAXONOMY. Joe Vasicek, often quoted here in the Sad Puppy days of 2015, shares what he calls “an interesting personal discovery” at One Thousand And One Parsecs.

…I just made a very interesting personal discovery, gleaned from the data on my reading of the Hugo and Nebula winning books. Of the 110 novels that have won either award, I have now read all but 16 of them, which is enough data to get some representative results.

One of the best predictors that I will DNF a book is whether the author is a childless woman. Of the 18 books written by childless women, I have DNFed all but three of them (Downbelow Station by C.J. Cherryh, which I read years ago and would probably DNF today, and Network Effect by Martha Wells, which is a genuinely entertaining read, and Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norell by Susanna Clarke, which I haven’t read yet). For childless men, it’s a little bit more of a crapshoot: of the 31 books written by childless men, I’ve DNFed 16 of them and read 11, but only 6 of those are books I thought were worth owning.

Conversely, one of the best predictors that I will enjoy a book is whether the author is a mother. Of the 20 books written by mothers, I have DNFed only 6 of them and read 8, all of which I think are worth owning. Of the six remaining books that I haven’t read yet, I will almost certainly finish four of them, and may finish all six. The only book by an author I haven’t already read and enjoyed is The Speed of Dark by Elizabeth Moon, which I am currently reading and will probably finish next week…

(8) LIGHT MY FIRE. “Firestarter (2022) vs. Firestarter (1984): Which Stephen King adaptation burns brightest?” – Clark Collis supplies his answer at Entertainment Weekly. The summaries of each film make good reading, too.

… The 1984 film stars Barrymore as Charlie McGee, a young girl with pyrokinetic powers who is fleeing from a sinister government organization called “The Shop” with her father Andy, played by David Keith. Andy has been training Charlie to use her powers properly by getting her to turn bread into toast with her mind but it is the unfortunate Shop agents who get browned as Barrymore’s character periodically sets them ablaze. The supporting cast is notable for a few reasons. Oscar-winners Art Carney and Louise Fletcher play a couple who befriend Charlie and Andy, while Martin Sheen portrays the head of the Shop just a year after his performance in David Cronenberg’s adaptation of King’s The Dead Zone. Finally, another Academy Award-winner, George C. Scott, is inexplicably cast as the seemingly First Nation assassin John Rainbird, who has a fondness for punching his targets’ noses into their brains and an unhealthy interest in our heroine…

(9) TOM SWIFT. Edge Media Network supplies an intro as “First Trailer Drops for New CW Series ‘Tom Swift’ Featuring a Black Gay Lead Character”.

…”Tian Richards already made his debut as Tom Swift on one of the best episodes of ‘Nancy Drew’ yet, but get ready to see him in a whole new light on his own show,” EW said.

As previously reported at EDGE, being gay was a prominent part of the character’s depiction when he made a guest appearance on “Nancy Drew.” Sparks flew between Tom Swift and “Nancy Drew” regular character Nick (Tunji Kasim), leading to an onscreen kiss….

(10) WHEN I USE A WORD. At Tor.com, CD Covington’s series on sff linguistics finally tackles the 500-lb gorilla: “On Tolkien, Translation, Linguistics, and the Languages of Middle-earth”.

Since I started this column in 2019, I’ve been avoiding one famous—possibly even the most famous—example of using linguistics in SFF literature: the work of J.R.R. Tolkien. It’s not because I don’t like Lord of the Rings—quite the opposite, in fact. It’s just such an obvious topic, and one which people have devoted decades of scholarship to exploring. Hell, my Old English prof has published academic scholarship on the topic, in addition to teaching a Maymester class on the languages of Middle-earth. But I suppose it’s time to dedicate a column to the book that first made me think language was cool and to the man who wrote it.

(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

2010 [By Cat Eldridge.] I’m starting this essay by acknowledging that everyone has their favorite Robin Hood. My all-time favorite is the one in the Robin of Sherwood series, Robin of Loxley as played by Michael Praed. And yes, I acknowledge that the second Robin, Robert of Huntingdon as performed by Jason Connery was quite excellent too. Richard Carpenter did himself proud with this series. 

But I’m here tonight to talk about one of my favorite Robin Hood films (the other being Robin and Marian.) Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood premiered in the States on this date twelve years ago. It was written by Brian Helgeland who had done mostly horror films before this but was also the screenwriter of the beloved A Knight’s Tale. He along with Ethan Reiff and Cyrus Voris were responsible for the story.

It was produced by Ridley Scott, Brian Grazer and Russell Crowe. Yes the actor who played Robin Hood here helped produce it. So let’s turn to casting. 

I think Crowe made an outstanding Robin Longstride and Cate Blanchett as Marion Loxley was a great casting move. Other interesting casting here includes Max von Sydow as Sir Walter Loxley and William Hurt as William Marshal. This was not a cast of unknowns. I thought Matthew Macfadyen as the Sheriff of Nottingham was interesting as the actor usually had much lighter roles. Mark Addy as Friar Tuck was well cast. 

It was a very expensive undertaking costing at least two hundred million and it took in least three hundred and twenty-five million, so it likely just broke even.

And what was the opinion of critics at the time? Well it was decidedly mixed with Deborah Ross of UK’s Spectator on the side of the dissenters: “Scott decided, I think, to get away from the whole campy thing in tights business and wanted to make this ‘real’. So there is sweat and dirt and rats at the cheese and even bad teeth, which is fair enough, but it is also joyless.” 

But Richard Klein of Shadows on the Wall liked it: “Ridley Scott and his usual Oscar-winning crewmates turn the familiar old English legend it into a robust, thumping epic. The pacing is a bit uneven, but it keeps us thoroughly engaged.”

Let’s finish off with Jeffrey Westhoff of the Northwest Herald:  “Robin Hood doesn’t become the swashbuckling bandit of Sherwood until the final moments, when the tag “And so the legend begins” appears. You may walk away liking this Robin Hood well enough, but wishing you had seen the sequel.” 

It gets just a fifty eight percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. 

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born May 14, 1929 Kay Elliot. The actress who shows up in “I, Mudd” as the android form of Harry Mudd’s wife Stella Mudd. SPOILER ALERT (I promised our OGH I’d put these in. It’s possible someone here hasn’t seen “I, Mudd”.) Need I say she ends getting the upper hand in the end? She also had appearences in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. as Miss Prendergast in “The It’s All Greek to Me Affair” episode and multiple roles on Bewitched. That’s it, but she died young. (Died 1982.)
  • Born May 14, 1933 Siân Phillips, 89. Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam in David Lynch’s Dune, Cassiopeia in Clash of The Titans, Grandmother in A Christmas Carol, Charal in Ewoks: The Battle for Endor, and The Red Queen in Alice Through the Looking Glass. And I’m about to see her on Silent Witness.
  • Born May 14, 1935 Peter J. Reed. A Vonnegut specialist with a long track history starting with Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.; The Vonnegut Chronicles: Interviews and Essays that he wrote with Marc Leeds; Kurt Vonnegut: Images and Representations again with Leeds again. He also wrote a handful of essays such as “Hurting ’til It Laughs: The Painful-Comic Science Fiction Stories of Kurt Vonnegut” and “Kurt Vonnegut’s Bitter Fool: Kilgore Trout”. (Died 2018.)
  • Born May 14, 1944 George Lucas, 78. For better and worse, he created the Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises. Raiders of the Lost Ark and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade are fine, the others suck royally in my opinion. Later Star Wars films are meh though I adore the original trilogy. And let’s not forget THX 1138. So you ask, what are my favorite works that he was involved in? LabyrinthRaiders of the Lost Ark, The Empire Strikes Back and Willow. Yes Willow. Oh, and The Young Indiana Jones series which I really, really loved. 
  • Born May 14, 1945 Francesca Annis, 77. Lady Jessica in David Lynch’s Dune, Lady Macbeth in Roman Polanski’s Macbeth. I know only two roles, but what a pair of roles they were! She also appeared in Krull as The Widow of The Web but I’ll be damned if I can remember her in that role. 
  • Born May 14, 1952 Kathleen Ann Goonan. Her Nanotech Quartet is most excellent, particularly the first novel, Queen City Jazz. Her only Award was given for In War Times which garnered a John W. Campbell Memorial Award. She’s wrote an interesting essay on the relationship between sf and music, “Science Fiction and All That Jazz”. (Died 2021.)
  • Born May 14, 1952 Robert Zemeckis, 70. He’s responsible for some of my favorite films including the Back to the Future trilogy, The Muppet Christmas CarolThe WitchesWho Framed Roger Rabbit and the savagely funny in a twisted sort of way Death Becomes Her. So what’s your favorite films that’s he had a hand in? 
  • Born May 14, 1955 Rob Tapert, 67. I’d say he’s best known for co-creating Xena: Warrior Princess. He also produced and/or wrote several other television series including Hercules: The Legendary JourneysM.A.N.T.I.S. and American Gothic. Tapert also co-created the prequel series Young Hercules which I loved. He’s married to actress Lucy Lawless.

(13) COMICS SECTION.

  • Let Nick Mamatas introduce Tom Gauld’s strip for today’s Guardian.
  • Next, here’s Gauld’s latest comic for New Scientist.

(14) CLUES OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Keith Roysdon remembers newspaper crime comic strips (remember Steve Roper and Mike Nomad?) “Black and White and Noir All Over: A Brief History of Vintage Newspaper Crime Comic Strips” at CrimeReads.

Who could have known that newspaper comic strips and crime stories, including noir, were a match made in heaven?

Newspaper comic strips are an artistic genre that’s largely forgotten now. The strips that remain are for the most part humor strips like “Garfield.” A handful of dramatic strips are still published.

But serial dramatic strips were once a staple of the newspaper comics page. Many of them were soap opera-ish strips like “Mary Worth” and “Apartment 3-G.” To say that drama strips were slow moving is an understatement. I wish I could remember who joked that they came back to read “Apartment 3-G” after decades away and the caption read, “Later that afternoon …”

But that deliberate pace – well, maybe not quite that deliberate – was perfect for teasing out a good crime storyline. And crime and noir look awesome in black and white newsprint.

(15) MUSIC WITHOUT THE SPHERES. “Peace is Still Weirder Than War” asserts Laurie Penny in a very entertaining essay about Eurovision. Admittedly, nothing to do with sff except a brief reference to Catherynne M. Valente’s Space Opera at the end.

…Britain is a lot worse at Eurovision than you’d think. We’ve spent half a century distracting the world from our post imperial decline by flinging out wild handfuls of pop music and self deprecating humour, so we really ought to be able to deploy them here. Sadly, we’re scuppered every time by our even more fundamental fear of looking daft in front of the French.

We’ve made worse choices for the same reason.

But reasons are not excuses, and the land of Monty Python, David Bowie and the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band should be able to do better than another basic bearded guitar boy. We do have the best tv commentary by miles, after Graham Norton seamlessly accepted the baton from the great Terry Wogan, proving once again that Britain’s comfort zone is making fun of other people.  Yes. Hi.

…For related reasons, Ukraine are likely to win this year. Russia can sulk all they like, just like they did when Ukraine stood down from Eurovision in 2015with the reasonable excuse that they were busy being invaded by Russia. in 2016, Ukraine was back, and it won, narrowly beating Russia, whose entry looked like someone repurposed a rave club as a re-education camp without redecorating. Not only did Ukraine win, it won with a song called ‘1944’, about the Soviet genocide of the Crimean Tartars. Russia has not forgotten this. State Television spent a long time denouncing Eurovision as a degenerate spectacle of homosexuality, which did as much good as denouncing bears for defecating in the woods.

But Russia has never really been any good at Eurovision. This year they’re not even going, partly because the Kremlin has no interest in any competition it can’t cheat at, but mostly because they got banned. It’s hard to get banned from Eurovision, but invading a neighboring country and massacring tens of thousands of people will do the trick….

(16) STOP, NOW, WHAT’S THAT SOUND? ScreenRant suggests “10 ‘Subtly’ Scary Horror Movies (For Horror Fans Sick Of Jump Scares)”. A Bradbury adaptation leads the list!

Sometimes the unknown or the unnatural can be much more terrifying than any masked slasher with a chainsaw.

….It’s not so much that these films rely on someone hiding in the shadows and yelling boo, but rather the audience knows something is wrong but can’t identify what. While jump scares and other such tactics might be sparsely employed, the real horror in these movies comes from both knowing and not knowing what might be in store.

Something Wicked This Way Comes (1983)

Sometimes, the scariest movies are the ones where nobody dies, and Disney’s Something Wicked This Way Comes is a brilliant example. Based on the book by Ray Bradbury, the film tells the story of what happens when a mysterious carnival lurks into town one windy October.

Led by the mysterious Mr. Dark, Cooger and Dark’s Shadow Show has the uncanny ability to grant anyone’s wishes and make their dreams come true. But like with most things Disney, all magic comes at a price. When two boys and the local librarian are able to see through the illusions, a slow-burning battle with the freakshow for the souls of the town takes place.

(17) THE HUNDREDTH SHADE. Paul Weimer reviews “Gregory A. Wilson’s Grayshade” at A Green Man Review.

… We meet Grayshade in the midst of an assassination that doesn’t go quite to plan, and a relatively atypical assassination target at that – the outwardly flighty socialite wife of a political powerful man, which in itself seems odd to Grayshade. We come to Grayshade at a point in his career where he is extremely experienced and very good at what he does. This is no “coming of age” novel where we follow the assassin through his first mission; rather this is someone who has past adventures and missions behind him, which grounds him for when things do not go according to his expectations. Things spiral out from the assassination not going right, to the point where Grayshade starts to question his purpose, his role, and the entire Order.

This makes a lot of the novel about information control and dissemination, which in turn reminds me of Wilson’s gamemastering….

(18) BAD BACK TO THE FUTURE. At Galactic Journey, Jessica Holmes gives us an recap of the latest (in 1967!) episode of Doctor Who. “[May 14, 1967] Ben And Polly To The Departure Gate (Doctor Who: The Faceless Ones [Part 2])”.

…We left things off with the Doctor having a sudden attack of a bad back, and things only get worse, with Spencer disabling Jamie and Samantha within moments of the episode’s opening.

Now would be a good time to finish them off, you’d think, but instead he sets up some sort of death ray to kill them… eventually. The thing moves so slowly the trio would probably have time for a round of golf before the ray fries them. Though mostly paralysed, Samantha conveniently has enough control of her faculties to get her mirror from her bag and hand it to Jamie, who uses it to reflect the beam and blow up the death ray machine.

With the machine destroyed, their partial paralysis wears off, which doesn’t make an awful lot of sense to me. I thought it was the freezing pen that paralysed them? And I’m still not sure what that device on the Doctor’s back did to him…

(19) AND YOU ARE THERE. This fossil is in a way a snapshot: “How the dinosaurs died: New evidence In PBS documentary” – the Washington Post digs into the story.

…The ground started shaking with intense vibrations while water in the nearby sea sloshed about in response. The sky filled with burning embers, which drifted down and set fire to the lush primordial forest.

Thescelosaurus panicked and looked to flee — but it was too late. Everything changed in a heartbeat as a 30-foot-high wave of mud and debris came racing up the seaway from the south, sweeping away life and limb in the process. The dinosaur was caught in the destructive deluge, its leg ripped off at the hip by the devastating surge.

That moment — 66 million years ago at the end of the Cretaceous period, when an earth-shattering asteroid ended the reign of the dinosaurs — is frozen in time today through a stunning fossil found last year at the Tanis dig site in North Dakota. This perfectly preserved leg clearly shows the skin, muscle and bones of the three-toed Thescelosaurus.

While the details of the death scenario described above are embellished, they’re based on remarkable new findings and accounts by Robert DePalma, lead paleontologist at Tanis.

“We’re never going to say with 100 percent certainty that this leg came from an animal that died on that day,” the scientist said. “The thing we can do is determine the likelihood that it died the day the meteor struck. When we look at the preservation of the leg and the skin around the articulated bones, we’re talking on the day of impact or right before. There was no advanced decay.”…

(20) DRAWN WITHOUT DRAWERS. CBR.com remembers: “Star Wars: Why George Lucas Had to Fight for Chewbacca Not to Wear Shorts”.

…So he wanted McQuarrie to go beyond humanoid and try to do more of an animal design for Chewbacca. Lucas’ recall led him to a recent issue of Analog Magazine, which had a short novel in it by a pre-Game of Thrones George R.R. Martin called “And Seven Times Never Kill a Man.” Artist John Schoenherr had designed some characters for Martin’s story and they made it to the cover of the magazine…

Lucas sent the drawings to McQuarrie and basically said, “Draw Chewbacca like that” and so that’s what McQuarrie did…

The problem with having basically a giant dog as a character is that dogs, well, you know, don’t have pants. McQuarrie kept coming up with some designs with the character in pants and Lucas kept saying no and that carried over to when the film started production. Lucas’ specific vision of what Chewbacca would look like required him to not have pants and that was a bit of a strange thing for the studio executives at the time.

During the DVD commentary for the 2004 release of Star Wars on DVD, Mark Hamill recalled what Lucas had to go through with regard to Chewbacca’s lack of clothes. “I remember the memos from 20th Century Fox. Can you put a pair of lederhosen on the Wookiee?’ All they could think of was, ‘This character has no pants on!’ This went back and forth. They did sketches of him in culottes and baggy shorts.”…

(21) BEING SNARKY. Would Lewis Carroll readers with an unassigned two hours or so available be interested in the opportunity to watch this complete production? “The Hunting of the Snark” posted by Official London Theatre.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

John Appel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(10) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pixel Scroll 4/29/22 It’s The Time Of The Pixels For Scrolling

(1) DISNEYLAND ORIGINALS FOR SALE. Heritage Auctions’ catalog for “Disneyland: The Auction” includes an impressive assortment of retired equipment from the park, in addition to all the other collectibles. Coming up for bid on May 21-22 will be things of this nature –

See more featured lots for ‘Disneyland: The Auction’ in this video.

(2) IN TIMES OF COVID. Norwescon 44 was held in Sea-Tac, WA from April 14-17. A week afterwards the committee published Norwescon 44 Post-Con COVID Report 1 dealing with cases they’d been informed about as of April 25. This case is receiving vocal attention in the comments:

Case 3: Reported on Friday, April 22. Started experiencing symptoms on Tuesday, April 12 (two days pre-con), tested positive on Friday, April 15, and stayed at the convention through Sunday, April 17. Was present throughout the convention, particularly the space-focused panels, and had dinner at Denny’s on Friday. Reported case to the Health Department and did not have exposure notification tracking active.

(3) CON OR BUST BEING REVIVED. The Flights of Foundry Opening Ceremonies video included an announcement by Alex Jennings and Brandon O’Brien about the return of the Con-or-Bust project in partnership with Dream Foundry.

[Brandon O’Brien:] As people of color we know how difficult it can be to access creative spaces like conventions. Travel, registration and other related expenses can be difficult to muster for a lot of reasons. When I attended my first convention it was only because there was a project that was generous enough to see people like me share space with my colleagues and fellow fans without it I would not have had the networking opportunities, the community, or even the will to participate in our field to this day and i am still deeply grateful for that generosity that project was Con-or-Bust….  

Kate Nepveu has worked hard to make sure it can continue even in her absence.

[Alex Jennings:] Following the example she set we’re excited to share with you that we’ll be working with Dream Foundry to revive  and expand Con-or-Bust. This project will help make cons, writing retreats, and other opportunities available to writers and fans of color…  

Brandon O’Brien said he will be serving on the Dream Foundry board in an oversight capacity and be running the project. They’re working on the details and will have more updates soon.

(4) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites listeners to uncover Alex Segura’s secret identity in Episode 170 of his Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Alex Segura

We’re about to do a little time traveling, you and I. That’s because I worked for both Marvel and DC Comics from the mid-’70s through the early ’80s, and my guest this episode is Alex Segura, a writer whose latest novel, Secret Identity, is a noir murder mystery set during the mid-‘70s comics industry I lived through.

Segura seems like the perfect person to tackle that particular overlapping Venn diagram of genres. He’s written murder mysteries before — including five novels in the Pete Fernandez series, beginning with Bad Beat in 2016 and concluding with Miami Midnight in 2019, plus the six-part Lethal Lit: A Tig Torres Mystery podcast series. He’s also worked for Archie Comics and DC Comics, and is currently the Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Oni Press.

Some of his more well-known comics work includes his Archie Meets Kiss arc — he also had the gang meet the Ramones and the B-52s — plus his “Occupy Riverdale” story. His Black Ghost miniseries was named one of the five new comic book series for the end of summer by the New York Times. He also supplied an origin story for everybody’s favorite new Star Wars character in the novel Poe Dameron: Freefall.

In a better world, I’ve have been able to make a day trip to NY so we could have an in-person conversation, but that’s not the world in which we live at the monent, so he grabbed Chinese food at Taystee Garden in Kew Gardens, Queens, I did the same from Evergreen Chinese Restaurant in Inwood, West Virginia, and we chatted with several hundred miles between us.

(5) PORTAL STORY. “I think this new Amazon series is sf,” writes Martin Morse Wooster. I think so too! Night Sky arrives on Prime Video May 20.

(6) NEW BUHLERT FICTION. Congratulations to Cora Buhlert who has a flash story in Wyngraf Magazine of Cozy Fantasy: “A Cry on the Battlefield”.

Cora also shared the link to the other flash story Wnygraf posted today, “The God’s Apology” by Ian Martínez Cassmeyer, which she says is also well worth reading.

(7) FIVESOOTH! The Royal Shakespeare Company is staging My Neighbour Totoro from October 8, 2022 – 21 January 2023 at the Barbican.

In this video, Executive Producer Joe Hisaishi, Director Phelim McDermott and members of the creative team for My Neighbour Totoro, discuss the creative process behind the landmark adaptation of Studio Ghibli’s celebrated 1988 animated feature film to the stage, in collaboration with Improbable and Nippon TV.

(8) WRITER Q&A. “Neil Gaiman: ‘Whatever I loved about Enid Blyton isn’t there when I go back as an adult’” he tells a Guardian interviewer.

…The writer who changed my mind
It wasn’t until I was 22 that I realised I could stop dreaming of being a writer and instead be a writer. It was Harlan Ellison’s fault, from his introduction to a short story called Count the Clock that Tells the Time, in a collection called Shatterday. He wrote about wasting time, how you look around and time’s gone. It plugged straight into everything I had ever thought or dreamed about becoming a writer and in that moment I was determined to become a writer. I thought better to try and fail than not to try and let the time blow past.

The book that made me want to be a writer
I don’t recall there being a time that I ever didn’t want to be a writer, but CS Lewis and his Narnia books definitely made me realise that these stories I loved were being written by a person. Lewis wasn’t pretending to be invisible, he was very happily there in the text, making these lovely friendly asides to the reader. I loved that so much, and loved the idea of doing it too….

(9) WHEN WORDS FAIL. Sandra M. Odell cautions against being “More Writerly Than Thou” at the SFWA Blog. Her successful book set off a long struggle to resume writing again. While telling what helped her she advises:

… Before you encourage someone to write faster, better, more successfully, ask yourself if that’s what you mean to say.  More importantly, ask if that’s what they need to hear…

(10) NEAL ADAMS (1941-2022). Famed comic artist Neal Adams died April 29 at the age of 80. The Hollywood Reporter paid tribute:

Adams jolted the world of comic books in the late 1960s and early ’70s with his toned and sinewy take on heroes, first at DC with a character named Deadman, then at Marvel with X-Men and The Avengers and then with his most lasting influence, Batman.

During his Batman run, Adams and writer Dennis O’Neil brought a revolutionary change to the hero and the comics, delivering realism, kineticism and a sense of menace to their storytelling in the wake of the campy Adam West-starring ’60s ABC series and years of the hero being aimed at kiddie readers.

… “It was no secret that we were doing Batman right,” Adams said during a panel at San Diego Comic-Con in 2010. “It was as if the memory of DC Comics went along with the statements that both Denny and I were making, that we want it to be more realistic, more gritty. And that’s how we remember — whether it was true or not — that Batman should be. And when we did it, everybody went, ‘Ah, that’s it. We don’t need comedy anymore.’”

Adams, also with O’Neil, came up with a then-controversial turn for Green Lantern/Green Arrow, tackling social issues such as drug addiction, racism and overpopulation and creating the Green Lantern hero, Jon Stewart, who became one of DC’s first Black icons. Their 1971 two-part story “Snowbirds Don’t Fly” remains a watermark in the evolution to more mature readers….

…He helped change the practice of comic book publishers keeping the original art by artists or even shredding and tossing it, influencing companies to establish policies of returning the art, something that allowed artists to enjoy a second income stream. The biggest case in point: Marvel returned pages of art to Jack Kirby, the co-creator of Fantastic Four, Thor, X-Men and Hulk.

He also proved to be a champion of two writer-artists who laid the foundation for DC, Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster… [He] led a lobbying effort that eventually led to greater recognition for the pair, a creator tag in comics and other media that continues to this day, plus a pension….

(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1981 [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.] Forty-one years ago on this evening, The Greatest American Hero series served up the ever so sweet and rather nostalgic “My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys”. It starts off with Ralph quitting twice after perceiving that he has failed badly. 

Meanwhile one of the secondary characters tells Ralph that her friend wants to go to an appearance by John Hart, the actor who played the second version of the Lone Ranger. Ralph is excited because Hart is his childhood hero. Why am I not surprised? 

Later in the episode, Ralph and Hart get to have a talk and Ralph realizes that society needs its heroes and decide to wear the suit again. 

I watched a lot of the Lone Ranger when I was rather young and never realized that there were two actors in that role. And no, I never figured out the deal with the silver bullets. Obviously that version of the Old West didn’t have werewolves.

And yes, it was very, very sweet to see one of the Lone Rangers sort of playing his role again. If only as a mentor. 

The Greatest American Hero series is streaming currently on Peacock. 

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born April 29, 1887 H. Bedford-Jones. Pulp writer of whom only maybe ten percent of his twelve hundred stories could be considered genre but some such as the Jack Solomon novels, say John Solomon, Argonaut and John Solomon’s Biggest Game are definitely genre. Like many of the early pulp writers, he used a number of pen names, to wit Michael Gallister, Allan Hawkwood, Gordon Keyne, H. E. Twinells and L. B. Williams. In 2006, Wildside Press published a collection of his short stories, The House of Skulls and Other Tales from the Pulps. (Died 1949.)
  • Born April 29, 1908 Jack Williamson. By the end of his long career in sff he had won eight lifetime achievement / grand master honors, and been inducted to the Science Fiction Hall of Fame. I’ll frankly admit that he’s one of those authors that I know I’ve read a fair amount by can’t really recall any specific titles as I didn’t collect him either in hard copy or digitally. A quick bit of research suggests the Legion of Space series was what I liked best when I was reading him. Aussiecon Two awarded him a Hugo for Wonder’s Child: My Life in Science Fiction (1985), and Millennium Philcon saw him get one for his “Ultimate Earth” novella (2000), which also won the Nebula. (Died 2006.)
  • Born April 29, 1923 Irvin Kershner. Director and producer of such genre works as the Amazing Stories and seaQuest DSV series, Never Say Never Again, RoboCop 2 and The Empire Strikes Back. By the way, several of the sources I used in compiling this Birthday claimed that was the best Star Wars film. (Died 2010.)
  • Born April 29, 1943 Russell M. Griffin. Author of but four novels as he died far too young of a heart attack. The Makeshift God was his first novel,  I remember that novel as being a rather excellent dystopian affair, and Century’s End was even bleaker. He wrote but nine stories. He alas has not made into the digital realm yet. (Died 1986.)
  • Born April 29, 1946 Humphrey Carpenter. Biographer whose notable output includes J. R. R. Tolkien: A Biography; he also did the editing of The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien, and is responsible for The Inklings: CS Lewis, JRR Tolkien, Charles Williams and their Friends. He also wrote the engaging Mr. Majeika children’s series which is most decidedly genre. (Died 2005.)
  • Born April 29, 1955 Kate Mulgrew, 67. Captain Kathryn Janeway on Star Trek: Voyager and she’ll be voicing that role again on the animated Star Trek: Prodigy.  Other genre roles include voicing Red Claw on Batman: The Animated Series, the recurring role of Jane Lattimer on Warehouse 13 and Clytemnestra in Iphigenia 2.0 at the Signature Theatre Company. Finally she voiced Titania in a recurring role on Gargoyles.
  • Born April 29, 1958 Michelle Pfeiffer, 64. Selina Kyle aka Catwoman in Tim Burton’s Batman Returns. She was also in the much better The Witches of Eastwick as Sukie Ridgemont and was Brenda Landers in the “Hospital” segment of Amazon Women on the Moon. She played Laura Alden in Wolf, voiced Tsippōrāh in The Prince of Egypt, was Titania in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, voiced Eris in Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas, was Lamia in Stardust and is playing The Wasp (Janet van Dyne) in the Marvel Universe. 
  • Born April 29, 1960 Robert J. Sawyer, 62. Hominids won the Hugo for Best Novel at Torcon 3, and The Terminal Experiment won a Nebula as well. Completing a hat trick, he won a John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Mindscan too. Very impressive.  And then there’s the FlashForward series which lasted for thirteen episodes that was based on his novel of that name.  Interesting series that ended far too soon. 
  • Born April 29, 1970 Uma Thurman, 52. Venus / Rose in The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (Kage’s favorite film alongside Time Bandits; review by Kage here), Maid Marian in the Robin Hood film that starred Patrick Bergin which I highly recommend, Poison Ivy in Batman & Robin which she will follow by being Emma Peel in The Avengers

(13) TIME LORD. The May issue of David Langford’s Ansible appeared today. How can that happen? He claims, “I reversed the polarity of the neutron flow!” Today the ansible, tomorrow the sonic screwdriver!

(14) OUTSIDE THE BOX. The Guardian calls it “‘Very gay, very trans’: the incredible Doctor Who spin-off that’s breathing new life into the franchise”  — the Doctor Who Redacted podcast. (Available here at BBC Sounds.)

…Written by Juno Dawson, Doctor Who: Redacted was launched alongside the Easter TV special, Legend of the Sea Devils, and has been described by the producer/director Ella Watts as “very gay, very trans”, and sitting “to the left” of the main show. The 10-part BBC Sounds audio drama follows three best mates who make “the Blue Box Files”, a paranormal conspiracy podcast about a certain police box popping up throughout history. Their tongue-in-cheek theorising suddenly gets all too real when they’re sucked into an action-packed alien adventure of their own.

The friends are university dropouts, who now live in different UK cities but stay connected via their hobby podcast. The leader of the gang (and the drama) is a trans woman, Cleo, who works as a theatre usher, lives on a south London estate and is saving up for surgery. She’s played by transgender activist Charlie Craggs, a scene-stealer in her first ever acting role, who describes her casting as “a huge step for the trans community. I’m so honoured to be part of something so sacred to so many”.

Juno Dawson always had Craggs in mind to play her protagonist. “She’s such a force,” says Dawson. “The label “trans activist” can be a club with which to beat trans people. It’s a dehumanising term, but Charlie uses her voice so cleverly – with humour and honesty. When it came to casting, I said to Ella: ‘Look, we can either audition Charlie Craggs or find a trans actor and tell her to play it like Charlie Craggs.’ There were some nerves at the BBC about hiring someone untrained but I’m so glad we stuck to our guns.”

Founder of the podcast-within-a-podcast is devoted “boxspotter” and resident believer Abby (Vigil’s Lois Chimimba), who is bisexual and a full-time carer for her sick mother in Glasgow. The lineup is completed by sceptical Shawna (Grange Hill’s Holly Quin-Ankrah), an out-and-proud lesbian studying computing at her local college in Sheffield….

(15) WORD OF THE DAY. Here’s something Jon Del Arroz had never been called before.

(16) A ROCK AND A HARD PLACE. Forbes reports “A Massive Asteroid Visible To The Naked Eye Is Heading Our Way And NASA Is Re-Routing An Old Spacecraft To Visit It”.

Remember NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft that visited the distant Bennu asteroid and scraped-up a sample in October 2020. It’s going to deliver that sample to NASA September 24, 2023 as it swings by Earth—and then it’s off on a new mission of explore a near-Earth asteroid that could one day be a “planet-killer.”

The Apophis asteroid is enormous and classed as “potentially hazardous” by NASA. Thought to be about 1,100 feet/340 meters in diameter (that’s about the same height as the Empire State Building in Manhattan in New York), Apophis will get to within just 23,000 miles/37,000 on April 13, 2029.

During that close pass it will even be visible to the naked eye as seen from some parts of Earth.

The newly-named OSIRIS-Apophis Explorer (OSIRIS-APEX) will already be in orbit of it by then. NASA announced this week that the spacecraft, having dropped off its package in 2023, will make its first maneuver toward Apophis 30 days later.

Although it will pass Earth inside the orbits of our geosynchronous satellites in 2029, Apophis won’t pose a danger this time around.

So why visit it?

Scientists suspect that the effect on it of the close pass in 2029 could be a slight alteration to its future trajectory. We know Apophis will make very close passes in 2060 and 2068. Might the 2029 event put Apophis on an “Earth-resonant impact trajectory ?”…

(17) SJW CREDENTIALS IN HISTORY. The BBC in 1973 meets Quicksilver and Quince, two cats with their own checking account who make charitable donations to cathedrals and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds!

(18) ROLL CREDITS. This is how Star Trek: Strange New Worlds episodes will begin. Here are the opening seconds of the five-year mission.

(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. And Wil Wheaton hosts this special preview of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds.

 [Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Cora Buhlert, Christian Brunschen, John A Arkansawyer, 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 Jack Dominey.]

Pixel Scroll 4/17/22 Filefjonk, Scrollmaiden, And Other Moominpixels

(1) HE PUT THE BOMP. “Cyberpunk pioneer John Shirley survived Portland’s 1970s music scene, discovers you can go home again” – the author is profiled by The Oregonian.

…Ultimately, he didn’t make it as a punk rocker. And that was OK. He loved performing for an audience, creating noise and upheaval. But he loved sitting by himself in front of a typewriter too.

He wrote wild stories that took readers to distant worlds, and inside the heads of killers, sex fiends and sadists.

This was how he made his mark — his X.

Shirley pioneered cyberpunk (just ask William Gibson, the best-known writer associated with the influential science-fiction subgenre). He’s published more than 50 novels and many more short stories, earning a dedicated fan base. He co-wrote the screenplay for the cult movie “The Crow” and penned a series of paperback novels that inspired the Sylvester Stallone movie “The Specialist.”…

(2) JOCULARITY. “I Feel Funny: Humor Writing Tips for Novelists” by Kathy Flann at the SFWA Blog

Fairly or unfairly, the general public doesn’t associate science fiction and fantasy (SFF) with hilarity. In fact, a recent fake survey revealed that 72% of readers expected these novels to be “Moby-Dick in space … (or the moors or wherever).” However, what is humor if not an observant reimagining of the familiar, typically with some kind of an unexpected twist? Writers of SFF create ten interesting twists before their well-observed breakfasts. So, why aren’t our bookshelves and our zeitgeists chock-full of hilarious SFF novels? 

My guess is that SFF writers already feel overwhelmed. Not only do they face the challenges of any novel—including character development, plot, point of view, and so on—but also the mandate to build worlds for characters to inhabit and confront. I think writers suffer from knee-knocking fear of the additional layer of “trying” to be funny. A corny novel that makes readers groan may erode their suspension of disbelief. All that work for nothing!… 

(3) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites listeners to chow down on butter chicken with Paul Kupperberg in episode 169 of the Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Paul Kupperberg

It’s time once again to step into the time machine, as this episode’s guest, Paul Kupperberg, is one of the two people in comics I’ve known the longest. He, along with former guest of the podcast Paul Levitz, ran fanzine sales at Phil Seuling’s 1971 4th of July weekend Comic Art Convention. We were both 16 then.

Paul’s another one of those guests I’d planned to sit across the table from during a day trip north sometime during the past two years, but that couldn’t happen, so to prevent the state of the world from stealing from us the conversation we would have had in better times, this became another one of the remote episodes I started doing once our world narrowed in early 2020, urged on by my Patreon supporters, who felt as much of a need for community during this difficult period as I did.

A lot has changed over the past half century since Paul and I met, as he’s written more than 1,000 short stories and comic book stories during those years. Among the characters whose adventures he’s scripted are Superman, Supergirl, Superboy, the new Doom Patrol, Green Lantern, the Justice League of America, Aquaman, Conan, and many others. He also scripted something near and dear to my heart — the first appearance of Keith Giffen’s Ambush Bug character in DC Comics Presents #52 (Dec. 1982). He wrote the syndicated The World’s Greatest Superheroes newspaper comic strip with José Delbo from 1981–1985. He’s the author of more than three dozen books of fiction and nonfiction, including The Same Old StoryJSA: RagnarokDirect Comments: Comics Creators in Their Own Words, and Paul Kupperberg’s Illustrated Guide to Writing Comics. He’s been an editor at DC Comics, WWE Kids’ Magazine, and the Weekly World News.

Paul ordered in Butter Chicken from Curry & Hurry in Riverside Connecticut, I ran over to Spice Connexion in Martinsburg, West Virginia for take-out Lamb Rogan Josh, and I hope you grab some Indian food so you can better pretend to be part of the gabfest.

We discussed which superhero starred in his first favorite comic book, the reasons we’re in agreement when it comes to the Stan vs. Jack debate, why his introduction to Superman had nothing to do with comics, what we each felt was lacking in our own early comic book writing, the surprising identity of the DC editor whose books sold the best, what caused legendary artist Don Heck to curse him out, the special challenges of writing comic strips, how he needed to get ready (or not) before writing all those legacy characters, what it was like rebooting Doom Patrol, which Archie character’s death upset him so much he had to step away from the keyboard, and much more.

 (4) THE RESISTANCE. Publishers Weekly is “Confronting Cultural Illiteracy: LGBTQ Books 2022”.

The recent spate of challenges to books with LGBTQ content has been met with equally vocal resistance from booksellers, librarians, parents, and other advocates. Caught in the middle are the people who create the books.

George M. Johnson’s All Boys Aren’t Blue, a YA essay collection revolving around themes of identity and family, was, according to the ALA, the third most challenged book of 2021; it was cited for LGBTQ content, profanity, and because it was considered sexually explicit. “It’s never easy to wake up to Google alerts mischaracterizing your work as something that it isn’t or seeing it used as a pawn for political partisanship,” Johnson says. “It only makes me want to create more stories in the world—find newer, cooler mediums to tell my stories.”

Another author, Jarrett Dapier, had a virtual presentation of his picture book Mr. Watson’s Chickens cancelled when the school librarian told the principal that the story features a gay couple. The principal then suggested offering parents the choice to opt out of the event, which Dapier found unacceptable. The presentation was rescheduled, the author says, after the school agreed to his terms: he insisted that the principal not send the opt-out letter, and that “teachers would not change their approach to the book or point out the characters’ relationship in anything but a positive, normal light, if they did at all.”…

(5) DENIS MEIKLE (1947-2022). Author Denis Meikle, a scholar who wrote about Hammer Films, died this week reported his daughter. His books included A History of Horrors-The Rise and Fall of the House of Hammer (1996), Jack the Ripper-The Murders and the Movies (2001), Vincent Price-The Art of Fear (2002), Johnny Depp-A Kind of Illusion (2004), The Ring Companion (2006), Roman Polanski-Odd Man Out (2007), Mr Murder-The Life and Times of Tod Slaughter (2019). And he wrote numerous articles for magazines such as My Little Shoppe of Horrors, The Dark Side, etc. He was the publisher of The Fantastic Fifties, The Sensational Sixties, and The Age of Thrills magazines.

(6) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1964 [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.] The cast of characters—a cat and a mouse, this is the latter. The intended victim who may or may not know that he is to die, be it by butchery or ballet. His name is Major Ivan Kuchenko. He has, if events go according to certain plans, perhaps three or four more hours of living. But an ignorance shared by both himself and his executioner, is of the fact that both of them have taken the first step into the Twilight Zone. — Opening narration of this episode. 

On this evening fifty eight years ago, The Twilight Zone‘s “The Jeopardy Room” first aired on CBS.  The plot is Major Ivan Kuchenko  as played by Martin Landau, a KGB agent who is attempting to defect, is trapped inside a hotel room in an unnamed, politically neutral country with a bomb about to go off unless he can disarm it. I’m assuming that you’ve seen, but on the grounds that you might not have, I won’t say more. It’s a splendid bit of Cold War paranoia. 

Not surprisingly, it was written by Serling. It was directed by Richard Donner who later on would be known for The OmenScrooged and Superman but this was very early on in his career and he had just three years earlier released X-15, an aviation film that presented a fictionalized account of the X-15 research rocket aircraft program. Neat indeed. 

It is one of only a handful of The Twilight Zone episodes that has no fantastical elements at all. It’s a classic Cold War story more befitting a Mission: Impossible set-up than this series. It even involves a message delivered by way of a tape recorder, but mine you that series is two years in the future so that has to be just a coincidence. Or The Twilight Zone being The Twilight Zone

Like all of The Twilight Zone series, it’s streaming on Paramount +. 

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born April 17, 1919 Julius Fast. He was the first recipient of the Edgar Award given by the Mystery Writers of America for the best first novel of 1945, Watchful at Night.  (He wrote a lot of mystery novels.) He was also a sff genre writer and he released Out of This World, a collection of SF stories while he was still in the Army during WW II. He only genre novel was written in the Seventies, The League of Grey-Eyed Women. (Died 2008.)
  • Born April 17, 1923 Lloyd Biggle Jr. He was the founding Secretary-Treasurer of Science Fiction Writers of America and served as Chairman of its trustees for many years. Writing-wise, his best known series were the Jan Darzek and Effie Schlupe troubleshooting team, and the Cultural Survey. His “Monument” story published in Analog was a finalist at Chicon III for a Short Story Hugo. I find it interesting that he wrote his own Sherlock Holmes stories from the perspective of Edward Porter Jones, an assistant who began his association with Holmes as a Baker Street Irregular. There are two novels in this series, The Quallsford Inheritance and The Glendower Conspiracy. (Died 2002.)
  • Born April 17, 1923 Earl Norem. An illustrator who signed his work simply Norem. He did a lot of work in Goodman’s men’s magazine but for our purposes I’m interested in the fact that he did a lot of for the same line of black-and-white comics magazines affiliated with his Marvel Comics division. Here is three of his covers, first for the trade paperback of Star Lord: Guardian of The Galaxy, next for Punisher/Black Widow: Spinning Doomsday’s Web (1992) #1, and finally for Moon Knight #6. (Died 2015.)
  • Born April 17, 1942 David Bradley, 80. It’s his Doctor Who work that garners him a Birthday honor.  He first showed up during the time of the Eleventh Doctor playing a complete Rat Bastard of a character named Solomon in the “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship” episode. But it was his second role on the series as actor who was the First Doctor that makes him really worth noting. He portrayed William Hartnell in An Adventure in Space and Time and then played the role of the First Doctor again in “The Doctor Falls” and “Twice Upon a Time”, both Twelfth Doctor stories.  He is also known for playing Argus Filch in the Harry Potter film franchise, Walder Frey in Game of Thrones and Abraham Setrakian in The Strain
  • Born April 17, 1948 Peter Fehervari, 74. Ok I’ll admit I’m including him because he’s written a number of novels set in the Warhammer Universe and I’ve never read anything set there. Who here has read the fiction set there? Is it worth reading, and if so, is there a good starting point?  I’ll admit that as a causal collector of action figures that some of those do seriously interest me as they have a definite SF vibe as you can see here.
  • Born April 17, 1959 Sean Bean, 63. His current role that garners him recognition is Joseph Wilford on Snowpiercer, though he gave an iconic performance as Ned Stark in Game of Thrones, and he’s been in our area of interest a long time.  His first genre role was in GoldenEye as the antagonist of Bond, Alec Trevelyan (Janus). Next he shows up as Boromir in the first of The Lord of the Rings films. He played Dr. Merrick in the horror SF film The Island and was James in horror flick The Dark which purports to be based off Welsh myth. Following in the horror vein, he’s Chris Da Silva in Silent Hill (which gets a sequel later in Silent Hill: Revelation) and in yet more horror is John Ryder in the remake of The Hitcher. (Was it so good that it yearned for a remake? I doubt it.) Black Death — yes more horror — and the character of Ulric ensued next. Finally something not of a horror nature in playing Zeus in Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief happened. I’m going to forgo listing the subsequent horror films he’s in and just finally note that he’s in The Martian playing Mitch Henderson. 
  • Born April 17, 1972 Jennifer Garner, 50. Back before there was the Marvel Cinematic Universe, there were Marvel Comic movies which have not been retconned into the MCU reality. Such was the case with Elektra and its lead character of Elektra Natchios. She also had the same role in Daredevil which was at best an OK film though I’m fond of the Kingpin character. And yes, I know some of you don’t like that Kingpin. 
  • Born April 17, 1973 Cavan Scott, 49. To my thinking, there’s somewhat of an arbitrary line between fanfic and professional writing. (Ducks quickly.) Which bring me to the world of fiction set in media universes where a lot of fanfic is set. This writer has apparently specialized in such writing to the extent that he has novels in the universes of Dr. Who (including the full blown subgenre of Professor Bernice Summerfield), Blake’s 7Judge DreddSkylanders UniverseThe Tomorrow PeopleStar Wars and Warhammer Universe (yes again). Judge Dredd?  Novels? Who knew? 

(8) COMICS SECTION.

(9) ASIMOV PROFILE. The Jerusalem Post published this feature to mark the thirtieth anniversary of the author’s death: “Isaac Asimov: The biochemist who created new worlds – The Jerusalem Post (jpost.com)

Isaac Asimov is considered one of the greatest science fiction writers, and definitely the most famous of them all. He has written some of the most influential and popular books of the genre, which contained ideas, prophecies and quotes that appear in multiple references to this day. He has written and edited more than 500 books in different fields and was legendarily prolific as a writer. The American writer Harlan Ellison once commented about Asimov, “He had writer’s block once. It was the worst ten minutes of his life.”

Owing to his huge success as an author, it’s easy to forget that Asimov was also a scientist and a professor of biochemistry. Science was an integral part of his life and greatly influenced his stories…. 

(10) SELF-PUBLISHED BOOKS HONORED. Among those receiving medals in the 2022 Global Book Awards for Self-Published Authors this week in the science fiction categories were:

  • VS Holmes, author of Heretics won Silver for Sci Fi/ Hard
  • Kristina Rienzi, author of Among Us won Silver for Sci-fi / Space Exploration

Heretics

Hot-tempered Dr. Nel Bently is not cut out to save the world. After her last project ended in fire and death, Nel must put aside her distrust of just about everyone and embark on a lo-fi search for a deadly radio transmission.

Earth’s survivors are torn between the austere superpower of IDH and the high-tech grassroots Los Pobledores. At every turn more allies go missing and Nel questions where everyone’s true loyalties lie–and on which side Lin will fall when a line is finally drawn.

They need experts. They need firepower. But it looks like the only thing standing between Earth and devastation is Nel: archaeologist, asshole, and functioning alcoholic with anger issues.

Among Us

Marci Simon lives a double life: conservative professor of English by day, and controversial blogger of aliens by night. But when a classified document lands in her lap, her two worlds collide in an explosive revelation of shocking and deadly secrets.

Despite imminent danger at every twist, Marci embarks on an unstoppable quest to expose the terrifying truth. Only she never anticipated the entangled nebula of dark lies, nor the never-ending wormhole the government would spiral through to silence her forever.

Knowledge can kill.

And Marci knows too much. With global security at risk, no one can be trusted. To debunk the stratosphere of deceit, Marci races at the speed of light to escape the grips of the clandestine Extraterrestrial Security Agency (ESA) hunting her before she vanishes like all the others. But Marci is unique. Despite being the ESA’s prime target, she’s also the skeleton key to the deadliest truth in the history of the universe.

The nightmare is real, and it’s only just begun. Marci must take a nefarious leap of faith before her options, and her breaths, evaporate into a black hole for all eternity.

(11) VOYAGER NEWS. An excerpt has been released from a new documentary on Star Trek:  Voyager.“To The Journey”.

(12) GYGAX. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] The BBC interviews E. Gary Gygax, the great game creator Sid Sackson, and goes to a British national gaming convention in this Classic BBC Clip from a 1982documentary that dropped this week. “Why do we play TABLETOP GAMES?”

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

Pixel Scroll 4/1/22 This Title Contains A Non-Fungible Tribble

(1) DIAL Q FOR MOCKERY. It may be April 1 but calling 323-634-5667 gets you the message: “Star Trek Picard Easter Egg: Real Phone Number Lets You Call Q” reports Gizmodo.

Which, of course actually works. Turns out, calling the number and not being fictional rogue geneticist Adam Soong however, just gets Q mocking you for trying to call the mighty, incomprehensible society that is the Q Continuum. Check out our recording of the phone message below:

If you can’t hear the message, here’s a transcript:

“Hello! You have reached the Q Continuum. We are unable to get to the phone right now, because we are busy living in a plane of existence your feeble, mortal mind cannot possibly comprehend.

“Furthermore, it’s pointless to leave a message, because we of course already knew that you would call, and we simply do not care. Have a nice day.”

(2) A FOOLISH CONSISTENCY. Daniel Dern sent this link with the caution – “Note, (Stardate) April 1, 2022.” “Timekettle New Cross-Species Translator Supports Klingon and Dog&Cat”.

The Timekettle team has launched cross-species language translation through its self-developed translation engine on April 1st, 2022. It is now possible to chat with aliens from the Klingon Empire, as well as with your pets via Woof or Meow.

Dern also suggested trying it on this: “GreenEggsAndHam” at the Klingon Language Wiki.

(3) PRESSED DOWN, SHAKEN TOGETHER, AND RUNNING OVER. What was Brandon Sanderson’s final take? According to CNBC, “Author’s record-breaking Kickstarter campaign closes at $41.7 million”.

Brandon Sanderson asked Kickstarter fans for $1 million to self-publish four novels he wrote during the pandemic. Thirty days later, his campaign has topped $41.7 million from more than 185,000 backers and is the most-funded Kickstarter in the crowdfunding site’s history.

Sanderson’s campaign surpassed the previous record holder in just three days, topping the $20.3 million in funds that smartwatch company Pebble Technology generated in 2015.

With the project successfully funded, Kickstarter will take a 5% fee from the funds collected, or more than $2 million….

(4) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites listeners to pig out on pork BBQ with Paul Witcover in episode 168 of his Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Paul Witcover

Paul Witcover‘s first novel, Waking Beauty (1997) was short-listed for the James Tiptree, Jr. Award. He’s also written five other novels: Tumbling After (2005), Dracula: Asylum (2006), The Emperor of All Things (2013) and its sequel, The Watchman of Eternity (2015), plus most recently, Lincolnstein, just out from PS Publishing.

His 2004 novella “Left of the Dial” was nominated for a Nebula Award, and his 2009 novella “Everland” was nominated for a World Fantasy Award. His short fiction has appeared in Twilight Zone magazine, Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction magazine, Night Cry, and other venues. A collection of his short fiction, Everland and Other Stories, appeared from PS Publishing in 2009, and was nominated for a Shirley Jackson Award. He’s been a frequent reviewer for Realms of FantasyLocusNew York Review of Science Fiction, and elsewhere. He teaches fiction at UCLA Extension and at Southern New Hampshire University, where he is the Dean of the Online MFA program.

We discussed the reason the pandemic resulted in some of the best years of his freelance career, the way he thrives as a writer when dealing with the boundaries of historical fiction, why his new novel Lincolnstein is “exactly what you think it is,” how he writes in yesterday’s vernacular without perpetuating yesterday’s stereotypes, what can and can’t be taught about writing, the reasons he felt lucky to have attended Clarion with Lucius Shepard, the effect reading slush at Asimov’s and Twilight Zone magazines had on his own fiction, what Algis Budrys told him that hit him like a brick, and much more.

(5) PATREON EXPLAINS IT TO JDA. Jon Del Arroz, who as usual says he didn’t do nothin’, asked Patreon to explain why they killed his account. They answered and he has posted their response letter — which mentions that “our guidelines apply equally to off-platform activity.” It would be ironic if Patreon bounced him for the racist and misogynistic tweets and YouTube videos he posts which those platforms permit to go undisciplined despite their own community guidelines.  

(6) AGING ORANGE. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Check out BBC Radio 4’s Front Row arts programme. Last night’s episode includes an item on A Clockwork Orange, it being the 60th anniversary of the novel. It was very interesting. Apparently there was an unpublished sequel which was basically having a message that art does not spread violence though society. Front Row – “A Clockwork Orange, the National Poetry Competition winner announced, Slow Horses and Coppelia reviewed”.

(7) WESTWARD HO. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times behind a paywall, Tom Faber reviews Horizon Forbidden West.

The one-line pitch is that you’re a hunter-gatherer fighting robot dinosaurs across a post-apocalyptic US.  With such a fun hook, nobody needed Horizon Zero Dawn to have a good story, yet its narrative proved unexpectedly compelling.  The game takes place a thousand years after rampaging machines have wiped out most of humanity.  Survivors have clustered into tribal communities who view relics of technology as objects of either suspicion or religious reverence.  The dramas of warring clans are narrated alongside the tale of how our world came to ruin. Guerillas struck gold with flame-haired heroine Aloy, who balances grit and tenderness as one of the most memorable new characters of its console generation…

Forbidden West is the first truly eye-popping flex of the PS5’s muscles, with graphics so beautiful that I have often found myself halting the adventure just to gawp at the landscape, whether dust clouds careening across the desert or forest leaves quivering in the breeze.  The robot enemies are ingenious works of biomechanical clockwork, shaped like snakes, hippos, ferrets, rams, and pterodactyls, with electric cables for sinew and gleaming steel for ligaments.

(8) CLARION WEST CLASSES. Registration for Clarion West’s Spring online classes and workshops is now open. Full information and ticket prices at the links.

This workshop aims to give you practical tools for evaluating publishing contracts. While it’s impossible to teach you everything there is to know about the legal side of publishing in a single class, it is possible to gain a general understanding of the rights involved and the practical mindset needed to protect your interests.

After a brief lecture on common publishing contractual terms, instructor Ken Liu (a lawyer and an author) will lead participants in interactive exercises to spot potential issues in language taken from actual contracts. Whether you’re looking at your first pro short story sale or an offer to adapt your novel into a TV show, the exercises in this class will help you.

Depending on the contracts used in the exercises, topics covered may include publishing rights (print, web, electronic, audio, etc.), performance rights, foreign language rights, media rights (gaming, film, and TV), royalties, advances, taxes, indemnification, etc. There will also be a Q&A period to address specific questions from participants.

This class is provided for educational purposes only, and none of the content should be construed as professional legal, tax, or financial advice.

With demand for transgender and nonbinary narratives on the rise, more cisgender (non-trans/nonbinary) people are adding trans and nonbinary characters to their stories. But what can you do to make sure you’re providing accurate representation? In this session, we will explore the “Three Es” of writing a trans/nonbinary character, the best craft approaches for each, and their potential pitfalls. We’ll also go over (in)appropriate reasons to write a trans/nonbinary narrative, general dos, and don’ts, and an overview of the experiences most often used incorrectly in stories.

This class for intermediate to advanced writers focused on craft to help you flex your funny muscles (since bones don’t flex). We’ll cover new ways to look at your funny fiction, techniques, exercises, the odd hack and trick- and culminate in a small mini-workshop where we’ll go over a piece you worked on!

This class meets three times: April 12, 16 and May 10, 2022, 11:00 AM to 12:30 PM Pacific.

This class will give an overview of the tools libraries use to discover materials and what makes a title more likely to be ordered for a library’s collection. We will also discuss the challenges and opportunities librarians face in acquiring materials and how authors can position themselves to be in a library’s line of sight when it comes to getting their books included in library collections.

We’ll cover physical materials (books and audiobooks) as well as the prickly digital (ebooks and audiobooks) library landscape.

Finally, we’ll also cover a little bit about doing library programs, like readings and classes.

Attendees will come away with a better understanding of how libraries locate and purchase materials and the limitations and differences between the library and the consumer markets.

You know it’s possible to be a successful short story writer with a full-time job, family, and hobbies. The question is, How? How do you get beyond the slush pile? How do you find the time to write when you have a million other obligations? This class will cover how to level up your craft as a short story writer and how to find the time, motivation, and persistence to stick with it while living a full life.

Suitable for writers at all stages of their careers, this class will emphasize self-compassion and give you ideas for how to level up your stories!

(9) HE WAS AN INFLUENCE ON BRADBURY. [Item by Alan Baumler.] Loren Eisley was a prolific science writer, and at least one sf writer liked him. About his book The Star Thrower Ray Bradbury wrote, “The book will be read and cherished in the year 2001. It will go to the Moon and Mars with future generations. Loren Eiseley’s work changed my life.” In “Erik Visits an American Grave, Part 1,059”, Erik Loomis traces the author’s life for readers of Lawyers, Guns & Money.

…As Ray Bradbury said of Eiseley, “he is every writer’s writer, and every human’s human.” This is a great description and his combination of interest in science, human origins, evolutionary theory, and what it means to be a human being continued to lead to best sellers. He quickly moved on his popularity to become the leading interpreter of science in the United States. Darwin’s Century followed in 1958. I haven’t read that one. I have read his 1960 book The Firmament of Time. This was an attempt to give people hope to live with science in an era of such astounding advances that it threatened human beings, particularly nuclear science….

(10) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1995 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Twenty-seven years ago this evening on BBC One, the Bugs series first aired. The series was created by Brian Eastman and producer Stuart Doughty with input from writer and producer Brian Clemens who is best known for his work on The Avengers which is why he considered this “an Avengers for the 1990s”. No idea if that was true having not seen it.

It lasted, despite almost being cancelled at the end of series three, for four series and forty episodes. It had an immense, and I do mean that, cast including Jaye Griffiths who was on Silent Witness early on (I’m watching all twenty-one series of it right now), Craig McLalachlan who was the lead in The Doctor Blake Mysteries, Jesse Birdsall who played Fraser Black in the very popular soap opera Hollyoaks and Steve Houghton who’s Gregg Blake in the London Burning series.

So how was it? I couldn’t find any contemporary reviews, but this later review suggests that it was a mixed bag: “Bugs is a mid-1990s British techno-espionage TV series, intended to be The Avengers (1960s) for a new decade. Wikipedia has the facts. Absolutely laden with Hollywood Science tropes, and quite prone to So Bad, It’s Good.” Another review noted that, “The show does have a cult following in the UK and in 2005 was released on DVD. The main cast have also spoken very highly of the show and the work they did on it, expressing that Bugs was deliberately ahead of its time and set a bench mark for other shows to come.” 

JustWatch says it is not streaming anywhere at the current time.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born April 1, 1883 Lon Chaney. Actor, director, makeup artist and screenwriter. Best remembered I’d say for the Twenties silent horror films The Hunchback of Notre Dame and The Phantom of the Opera in which he did his own makeup. He developed pneumonia in late 1929 and he was diagnosed with bronchial lung cancer which he died from. (Died 1930.)
  • Born April 1, 1917 Sydney Newman. Head of Drama at BBC, he was responsible for both The Avengers and Doctor Who happening. It’s worth noting that Newman’s initial set-up for The Avengers was much grittier than it became in the later years. (Died 1997.)
  • Born April 1, 1925 Ernest Kinoy. He was a scriptwriter for such stories as “The Martian Death March” to Dimension X and X Minus One as well as adapting stories by Isaac Asimov,  Ray Bradbury,  Philip K. Dick for the both series. He also wrote an adaptation of Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” for NBC’s Presents: Short Story. (Died 2014.)
  • Born April 1, 1926 Anne McCaffrey. I read both the original trilogy and what’s called the Harper Hall trilogy oh so many years ago when dragons were something I was intensely interested in. I enjoyed them immensely but haven’t revisited them so I don’t know what the Suck Fairy would make of them. I confess that I had no idea she’d written so much other genre fiction! And I recounted her Hugo awards history in the March 7 Pixel Scroll (item #9). (Died 2011.)
  • Born April 1, 1930 Grace Lee Whitney. Yeoman Janice Rand on Star Trek. She would reach the rank of Lt. Commander in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. Folks, I just noticed that IMDB says she was only on eight episodes of Trek, all in the first fifteen that aired. It seemed like a lot more at the time. She also appeared in in Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. By the last film, she was promoted to being a Lt. Commander in rank. Her last appearance was in Star Trek: Voyager’s “Flashback” along with Hikaru Sulu. Oh, and she was in two video fanfics, Star Trek: New Voyages and Star Trek: Of Gods and Men. (Died 2015.)
  • Born April 1, 1942 Samuel R. Delany, 80. There’s no short list of recommended works for him as everything he’s done is brilliant. That said I think I’d start off suggesting a reading first of Babel- 17 and Dhalgren followed by the Return to Nevèrÿon series. His two Hugo wins were at Heicon ’70 for the short story “Time Considered as a Helix of Semi-Precious Stones” as published in New Worlds, December 1968, and at Noreascon 3 (1989) in the Best Non-Fiction Work category for The Motion of Light in Water: Sex and Science Fiction Writing in the East Village, 1957-1965.  I will do a full look at his awards and all of his Hugo nominations in an essay shortly. 
  • Born April 1, 1953 Barry Sonnenfeld, 69. Director of The Addams Family and its sequel Addams Family Values  (both of which I really like), the Men in Black trilogy and Wild Wild West. He also executive-produced Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events which I’ve not seen, and did the same for Men in Black: International, the recent not terribly well-received continuation of that franchise.
  • Born April 1, 1963 James Robinson, 59. Writer, both comics and film. Some of his best known comics are the series centered on the Justice Society of America, in particular the Starman character he co-created with Tony Harris. His Starman series is without doubt some of the finest work ever done in the comics field. His screenwriting is a mixed bag. Remember The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen? Well, that’s him. He’s much, much better on the animated Son of Batman film. And I’ll admit that James Robinson’s Complete WildC.A.T.s is a sort of guilty pleasure.

(12) IT CAUGHT ON IN A FLASH. Cora Buhlert has a new story out. A flash story called “Rescue Unwanted,” it appears as part of the flash fiction Friday series of Wyngraf Magazine of Cozy Fantasy“Cozy Flash: ‘Rescue Unwanted’”.

After a lengthy and laborious climb, Sir Clarenbald the Bold finally reached the summit of the Crag of Doom. The cave of the dragon lay before him, its mouth a dark void in the grey rock….

(13) WHERE IT’S AT. The Movie District has mapped out the “Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) Filming Locations” with a combination of stills from the movie and contemporary Google Maps images. This is pretty damn interesting to me because I used to live two blocks from a few of the places in Sierra Madre.

(14) RAZZIES REVERSED. “Razzie Awards Backtrack, Rescind Bruce Willis Award – and Shelley Duvall Nomination as Well”The Wrap explains why.

The Razzie Awards have reversed their decision to stand by their “Worst Performance by Bruce Willis in 2021” award. “After much thought and consideration, the Razzies have made the decision to rescind the Razzie Award given to Bruce Willis, due to his recently disclosed diagnosis,” a statement by co-founders John Wilson and Mo Murphy says.

“If someone’s medical condition is a factor in their decision making and/or their performance, we acknowledge that it is not appropriate to give them a Razzie.” Willis’ family announced on Wednesday that the actor had been diagnosed with the cognitive disorder aphasia and was stepping away from acting.

The Razzie Awards came under fire on Wednesday for refusing to rescind the special award for Willis, and for making an inflammatory Tweet. “The Razzies are truly sorry for #BruceWillis diagnosed condition,” the parody awards ceremony wrote on Twitter. “Perhaps this explains why he wanted to go out with a bang in 2021. Our best wishes to Bruce and family.”

In addition, the organization took the opportunity to rescind another previous nomination – Worst Actress for Shelley Duvall in “The Shining.”

“As we recently mentioned in a Vulture Interview, extenuating circumstances also apply to Shelley Duvall in ‘The Shining.’ We have since discovered that Duvall’s performance was impacted by Stanley Kubrick’s treatment of her throughout the production.  We would like to take this opportunity to rescind that nomination as well.”…

(15) JEOPARDY! Andrew Porter says tonight’s Jeopardy! contestants struck out on this one.

Category: Books and Authors

Answer: In “The Story of” this man, his friends include Too-Too, an owl, Chee-Chee, a monkey, & Dab-Dab, a duck.

No one could ask, “Who is Doctor Dolittle?”

(16) JUSTWATCH – TOP 10’S IN MARCH. JustWatch says these were the “Top 10 Sci-Fi Movies and TV Shows in the US in March 2022”.

Rank*MoviesTV shows
1Spider-Man: No Way HomeSeverance
2DuneHalo
3The Adam ProjectUpload
4After YangResident Alien
5Spider-Man: Far From HomeDoctor Who
6Spider-Man: HomecomingRaised by Wolves
7Venom: Let There Be CarnageSnowpiercer
8Spider-ManStar Trek: The Next Generation
9InterstellarThe X-Files 
10The Matrix ResurrectionsBattlestar Galactica

*Based on JustWatch popularity score. Genre data is sourced from themoviedb.org

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Hancock Pitch Meeting” Ryan George explains that Hancock has a scene where one character destroys her house to prevent her husband from knowing she has super powers.  But the producer is troubled by another scene where Hancock becomes enraged and violent after he is taunted.  “How could that happen?” the producer asks.  “That’s just not in Will Smith’s character!”

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Cora Buhlert, Alan Baumler, Scott Edelman, Michael J. Walsh, Dennis Howard, Dan Bloch, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 3/18/22 When A Pixel’s Not Engaged In Its Enscrollment

(1) BIG GREEN NUMBERS. Brandon Sanderson shares a lot of information about his successful Kickstarter and his progress on other projects in “Some FAQs You Might Enjoy”. Also includes a long analysis of Amazon’s effect on his business.

How Are You Going to Spend the Money?

I got this question from the journalist from the Associated Press who interviewed me.  He gave an excellent interview, and we had a really great conversation.  But this question stopped me for a moment.  It’s a valid question, but it took me by surprise, as I haven’t been looking at this the way that some people seem to be.  I didn’t hit the lottery, any more than any other business hits the lottery when they have a product that connects with their market.

I will spend the money as I spend the rest of my money.  Part into savings, part into paying salaries (along with nice extra bonuses because the Kickstarter did well), part reinvested into the company.  (We’re still planning on building a physical bookstore, and this will help accelerate those plans.  Also, it’s not outside of reason that as I move into doing more film and TV, I will want to partially fund some of the projects.)

While this Kickstarter is an incredible event, and (don’t get me wrong) is going to earn me a good chunk of money, it’s going to be comparable to other projects I’ve done.  Also, don’t underestimate how much money it costs to maintain the infrastructure (like a warehouse–or in this case, probably more than one) it takes to be able to ship several hundred thousand books.  It will likely be years before we can be certain how much this actually earned us after all expenses.  More than we’d get from New York on the same books, but potentially not that much more.

That said, I will almost certainly buy myself some nice Magic cards.  Still have a few unlimited duals in my cube that could use an upgrade to black border.

Did You Anticipate This Level of Success for the Kickstarter?

I did not.  I knew the potential was there, but I didn’t think it (getting to this astronomical number of backers) would happen.

My guess was that we’d land somewhere in the 2–4 million range, though I really had no idea.  My team can attest to the fact that in the lead-up, I was very conservative in my estimates and expectations.  This was an experiment from us that I’d been wanting to try for a while.  (I’ll talk more about that below.)  I didn’t have any idea how well it would go.

…How many of those potential 250k–800k people who normally buy a Sanderson book in the first year could be convinced instead to move and preorder it through Kickstarter?  Our guesses, it turned out, were way low.  But at the same time, it is interesting that (not disregarding our huge success, which I’m not at all complaining about) even this huge Kickstarter breaking all records is only grabbing a fraction of my normal audience.  So maybe you can see why we knew we had potential, but were conservative in our estimates. … 

There is also much inside baseball about what indie authors have to face:

…These days, according to some of my indie author friends, you have to spend a great deal to sell on Amazon.  Not everyone’s experience is the same, but I hear this time and time again.  To make it as an indie author, you need to shell out for expensive advertising on the very website selling your books.  I have indie author friends who are spending a good portion of their income on these advertisements–and if they don’t, their sales vanish.  Amazon has effectively created a tax where indie authors pay back a chunk of that glorious 70% royalty to Amazon.  (And this is for the authors lucky enough to be allowed to buy those advertising spots, and therefore have the chance at selling.)….

…Regardless, this has been bothering me for over a decade.  I feel that the current system has a gun to my head.  Heck, all that has to happen is for someone at Amazon read this blog post or see my Kickstarter and decide they just want to make an example out of me.  Poof.  85% of my sales gone.  And while some people might go to another vendor to get my books, the painful truth is that many would not.  Time and time again, studies of contemporary tech media consumption have shown that the person who controls the platform is the one who controls the market. …

(2) MAIL CALL. In “An Open Letter to the 2022 Hugo Finalists, Whoever They May Be”, Cora Buhlert once again shares her experience and advice.

… Right now, no one except for possibly the Hugo administrators knows who those finalists will be. However, sometime in the next two weeks or so, some of you will receive an e-mail from Chicon 8, informing you that you are a finalist for the 2022 Hugo Award and asking you whether you want to accept the nomination. Some of you will have received such e-mails before, for others it will be the first time.

But whether it’s your first or your twentieth nomination, congratulations! That’s awesome.

As a first time recipient of such an e-mail in 2020, here are a few things I’ve learned…

(3) UNIVERSE WILL KEEP EXPANDING. Sharon Lee’s biggest news in “Liaden Universe® Updates” is that she and Steve Miller have accepted an additional three book contract with Baen for Liaden novels.

…The contract’s call-name is Traveler’s Trio, and we have no idea where those novels will take us, yet, but we do have delivery dates.  Those are:

Traveler’s Trio ONE:  September 2024
Traveler’s Trio TWO:  September 2025
Traveler’s Trio THREE:  September 2026

Note A:  In September 2026, I will be 74 years old.  Steve will have celebrated his 76th birthday three months prior.  This by way of reassuring those folks who have been worrying about our retirement that, err — writers don’t retire.  At least, writers at our level of the game don’t retire.

Here ends the Updatery.

(4) GUNN CENTER EVENTS. The Gunn Center for the Study of SF has posted the selections and dates for the next several meetings of their virtual book club, and another event. Zoom info and further details at the links. 

Discussion of Colson Whitehead’s first novel, The Intuitionist. This choice anticipates Whitehead’s visit to Lawrence for the Paper Plains Literary Festival in early April! https://www.paperplains.org

Discussion of Angelline Boulley’s young adult thriller, Firekeeper’s Daughter. More aligned with conversations about Indigenous belief systems and spirituality than conventional science fiction; also in anticipation of the Paper Plains festival. Co-sponsored with Haskell Indian Nations University, KU’s First Nations Student Association, and others. Teens welcome!

Discussion of Franny Choi’s Soft Science. In celebration of National Poetry Month!

  • Friday, MAY 20th* @ noon (CT) – [no link yet] Discussion of Sarah Pinsker’s Two Truths and a Lie

Winner of the 2021 Nebula Award & 2021 Hugo Award for Best Novelette. (*) Please note that this is not the last Friday of the month, which falls on Memorial Day Weekend.

(5) ARE THEY TALKING ABOUT YOU? The Silmarillion Writers’ Guild seeks the meaning of it all in “A Sudden Outcry: The Tolkien Estate and Fanworks”.

…When the Tolkien Estate recently presented their newly revamped website, it did not take fans long to see past the new artwork and other features to find that the Tolkien Estate has a policy on fanworks. The past several days have seen a whirl of discussion about what it all means that can be distilled down to a single burning question:

Did the Tolkien Estate just ban fanworks?

In short, no, the Tolkien Estate did not just ban fanworks. The fanworks you have posted, are in the middle of creating, or are even thinking about creating are not affected by what the Estate says on their website.

The longer answer depends on if you’re interested in the just or the ban part of that question (or maybe both!). While the following is not legal advice, we hope it will lessen the worry that the existence of fanworks is in jeopardy.  As always, bear in mind that laws vary from country to country. If you have specific concerns, the Organization for Transformative Works’ legal committee, while unable to give legal advice, can answer questions you might have.

The article contains an extensive history of the Estate’s policies towards fanworks. The writers come to this paradoxical conclusion:

…The Tolkien Estate is anti-fanwork and always has been. For all that the “other minds and hands” quote gets tossed about by fans eager to believe that Tolkien would have condoned their activities, Tolkien himself was anti-fanwork when it came to his books,2 unless it was something that he liked. This has neither changed nor prevented Tolkien fanworks from being made in the almost seven decades since The Lord of the Rings was published…

(6) OMELAS. The Unofficial Hugo Book Club Blog tweeted a crusher yesterday. There are nine tweets in the thread, which starts here.

(7) THE SAND OF MUSIC. Hans Zimmer tells Vanity Fair about the score for Dune in a video that dropped today: “How ‘Dune’ Composer Hans Zimmer Created the Oscar-Nominated Score”.

“Something I wanted to always do. Invent instruments that don’t exist. Invent sounds that don’t exist.” Hans Zimmer, ‘Dune’ composer, gives his in-depth analysis and insider’s look at how the score was created for Denis Villeneuve’s 2021 film.

(8) MORE FROM DISCON III. Morgan Hazelwood posted her notes from the DisCon III panel “Ask An Editor: Longform Writing” with participants George Jreije, Katherine Crighton, Navah Wolfe, and Trevor Quachri, plus Joshua Bilmes as moderator. (The material is also presented in a YouTube video.)

The description for this panel was as follows:

What makes a good novel? How do you know it’s ready? Where should you send it and how should you respond to comments? This is your chance to ask burning questions to a panel of respected agents and editors.

(9) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites listeners to share deep-fried wontons with Library of Congress curator Sara Duke in episode 167 of the Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Sara Duke

Library of Congress curator Sara Duke and I were supposed to have lunch two years ago, way back in March of 2020, but then … something happened. I suspect you can guess what that something was. We finally managed to break bread — or rather, share Pad See Ew — last week at D.C.’s Young Chow Chinese restaurant.

Sara Duke has been at the Library of Congress for more than 30 years, the past 23 as the curator of Popular and Applied Graphic Art in the Prints and Photographs Division. She’s in charge of cartoons, documentary drawings, and ephemera. Starting with Blondie Gets Married in 2000, she’s been responsible for curating many exhibits relating to popular culture, including Comic Art: 120 Years of Panels and Pages, and most recently, Geppi’s Gems.

We discussed the first piece of artwork she longed to get her hands on after a 13-month pandemic absence, our joint loathing of slabbed comics, the misconceptions many people have about the Library of Congress, the things most people no longer remember about Blondie, her comic book exhibit cancelled by COVID, the serendipitous way a PhD in 17th century Irish history led to her becoming a curator, her early (and continuing) love of MAD magazine, and much more.

(10) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1981 [Item by Cat Eldridge] On this evening forty-one years ago, the show that Warner Bros. sued for copyright infringement in Warner Bros. Inc. v. American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. premiered on ABC. The Greatest American Hero starred William Katt as teacher Ralph Hinkley in a suit that allowed him to fly and which looked sort of like that Super-Hero. The Court ruled, “as a matter of law, The Greatest American Hero’ is not sufficiently similar to the fictional character Superman.” 

It was created by producer Stephen J. Cannell and was his only genre undertaking.

The rest of the regular cast consisted of just Robert Culp as FBI agent Bill Maxwell and Connie Sellecca as lawyer Pam Davidson. ABC wasn’t going to deal with a bloated salary line here.  Culp of course had been Kelly Robinson on I Spy, but more importantly was in The Outer Limits episode “Demon with a Glass Hand”, written by Harlan Ellison. Sellecca played Pamela Edwards in a recurring role in the Beyond Westworld series.

It would last three seasons and have a proper conclusion in which the story was wrapped up. That conclusion lead to the pilot for another series which was not picked up by another network. A reboot with a female lead was in the works at ABC several years back but not even a pilot was shot.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 18, 1888 Alexander Leydenfrost. As an illustrator, he briefly worked for Planet Stories before being signed by Life magazine where the money was better. But his quite brief tenure at Planet Stories is credited with the creation of the enduring cliche Bug Eyed Monster as that’s what his illustrations showed. (Died 1961.)
  • Born March 18, 1926 Peter Graves. Star of Mission Impossible and the short lived Australian-based Mission Impossible, which if you not seen it you should as it’s damn good. I’m reasonably certain his first genre role was on Red Planet Mars playing Chris Cronyn. Later roles included Gavin Lewis on The Invaders, Major Noah Cooper on Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, Doug Paul Martin in Killers from Space and Paul Nelson on It Conquered the World. It’s worth noting that a number of his films are featured on the Mystery Science Theater 3000 series. (Died 2010.)
  • Born March 18, 1932 John Updike. It might surprise you to learn that there are two Eastwick novels, The Witches of Eastwick and The Widows of Eastwick, the latter set some three decades after the first novel ended. No idea what it’s like as I’ve never heard of it. He wrote a number of other genre friendly novels including The CentaurBrazil and Toward the End of Time. (Died 2009.)
  • Born March 18, 1950 J.G. Hertzler, 72. He’s best known for his role on Deep Space Nine as the Klingon General (and later Chancellor) Martok. He co-authored with Jeff Lang, Left Hand of Destiny, Book 1, and Left Hand of Destiny, Book 2, which chronicle the life of his character. His very TV first role was a genre one, to wit on Quantum Leap sac Weathers Farrington in the  “Sea Bride – June 3, 1954” episode. Setting aside DS9, he’s been in ZorroHighlanderThe Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of SupermanLois & Clark: The New Adventures of SupermanCharmedRoswell and Enterprise series;  for film genre work, I see The Redeemer: Son of SatanTreasure Island: The Adventure Begins and Prelude to Axanar (yet another piece of fanfic). In addition, he’s done a lot of video game voice acting, the obvious Trek work but such franchises as BioShock 2The Golden Compass and Injustice: Gods Among Us.
  • Born March 18, 1959 Luc Besson, 63. Oh, The Fifth Element, one of my favorite genre films. There’s nothing about it that I don’t like. I’ve not seen Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets and comments leave me disinclined to do so. The Transporter is not genre but I recommend it as a great film none the less.
  • Born March 18, 1960 Richard Biggs. Another way too young death on Babylon 5 as he appeared as Dr. Stephen Franklin, reprising the role in the final aired episode of Crusade, “Each Night I Dream of Home”. Other genre roles included playing Roger Garrett on Tremors, Hawkes In The Alien Within, An Unnamed Reporter on Beauty and the Beast,  Dr. Thomson on an episode of The Twilight Zone and a Process Server in an episode of The Magical World of Disney.  (Died 2004.)
  • Born March 18, 1961 James Davis Nicoll, 61. A freelance game and genre reviewer. A first reader for SFBC as well. Currently he’s a blogger on Dreamwidth and Facebook, and an occasional columnist on Tor.com. In 2014, he started his website, jamesdavisnicoll.com, which is dedicated to his book reviews of works old and new; and which later added the highly entertaining Young People Read Old SFF, where that group reads and comments on prior-to-Eighties SF and fantasy.

(12) SENDING UP DISNEY. “This Young Artist Successfully Wows Disney Fans With Hilarious Disney Fanarts” at Aubtu.

Disney fans tend to redraw Disney characters with their unique ideas, but Jorge D. Espinosa has taken it to another level. As a talented artist, Jorge has recreated several famous Disney characters with different settings. They can be about Aurora’s hangover or Jasmine as a dancer enjoying Beyonce’s song. There is no doubt that these unique and funny drawings can make even The Beast laugh….

(13) IDIOMATIC ACCESSION. I need one of these. Don’t I? Archie McPhee’s “Murder of Crows”.

(14) SQUEEZING OUT THE WATER. James Davis Nicoll tells Tor.com readers about “Five Wonderfully Concise SFF Books”.

Olden-time SF authors, limited as they were to pen and paper, typewriters, and other now archaic methods of production, and trying to sell to markets uninterested in purchasing lengthy works, often delivered works that seem startlingly concise and to the point by modern standards. There’s nothing like not having a choice to urge people to make the right choices.

However, even in this age of word processing software and publisher enthusiasm for meandering series of enormous story-fragments, there are authors who deliver short, effective books that contain within them all of the necessary narrative elements. They even include that most elusive ingredient—an actual ending. Consider these five comparatively recent examples of books that are wonderfully short and to the point….

(15) THAT OTHER JAMES. ScienceAlert says “Webb Just Sent Back Its First-Ever Sharp Image of a Star, And It’s Breathtaking”.

…To demonstrate its capabilities, Webb focused on a single star, named 2MASS J17554042+6551277, more commonly known as TYC 4212-1079-1.

This bright object, around 2,000 light-years away, is just over 16 times intrinsically brighter than the Sun – a nice, clear target for Webb. A red filter was used to optimize visual contrast; and, although the telescope was just looking at the star, its instruments are so sensitive that background stars and galaxies can also be seen.

“We have fully aligned and focused the telescope on a star, and the performance is beating specifications. We are excited about what this means for science,” said Ritva Keski-Kuha, deputy optical telescope element manager for Webb at NASA Goddard….

(16) PARADOX RESOLVED. “Scientists claim hairy black holes explain Hawking paradox” reports BBC News. I have nothing to say about that headline at all.

Scientists say they have solved one of the biggest paradoxes in science first identified by Prof Stephen Hawking.

He highlighted that black holes behave in a way that puts two fundamental theories at odds with each other.

Black holes are dead stars that have collapsed and have such strong gravity that not even light can escape.

New research claims to have resolved the paradox by showing that black holes have a property which they call “quantum hair”….

(17) ONCE MORE INTO THE BREACH, DEAR FRIENDS. “’Muppets Mayhem’ Series a Go at Disney+”The Hollywood Reporter has the story.

Disney+ is taking another swing at a Muppets TV series.

The streamer, following a lengthy development process, has handed out a series order to comedy The Muppets Mayhem, with Lilly Singh set to star.

The comedy will follow the Electric Mayhem Band as it records its first-ever album. Singh will star as the human lead, Nora, the junior A&R executive who is tasked with managing and wrangling the band that originally debuted in the pilot for The Muppet Show in 1975. (Watch the band’s debut below.) Sources say the 10-episode comedy will begin filming in April.

The series — which will feature Dr. Teeth, Animal, Floyd Pepper, Janice, Zoot and Lips — is described as a music-filled journey in which the 45-year-old band comes face to face with the current-day music scene as they attempt to go platinum….

(18) ALIEN SCHOOL. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Or, how to be a Thermian in six “easy“ lessons. 

Digg.com has, um, dug up a short docu-feature on how the Thermans came to be so wonderfully quirky in Galaxy Quest. It’s a Class A lesson in the collaborative nature of filmmaking – where the screenwriter, director, actors, and everyone else contribute to what is eventually seen on the screen.

The singsongy, pitchy, sound of the aliens was originated by character actor Enrico Colantoni, who absolutely nailed his audition for the Thermian leader when he broke out that voice. Then they had to develop the walk, their native speech when the translator box breaks, and mannerisms for all sorts of situations. And the whole alien ensemble had to nail all of it. 

Just watch the video. You’ll love it. 

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Dr. Giselle Anatol, Steve Miller, Danny Sichel, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 3/4/22 24 Views Of Mt. Tsundoku By Hokufile

(1) WHO IS NUMBER ONE. The “Surprise! Four Secret Novels by Brandon Sanderson” Kickstarter was almost at $22 million when I looked earlier today. It’s now the Most Funded Kickstarter in history.

Yesterday the New York Times talked to Sanderson about his success in “Fantasy Author Raises $15.4 Million in 24 Hours to Self-Publish”.

…“If Amazon’s grip on the industry is weakened, that’s good for the publishers — they are very much under Amazon’s thumb right now,” Sanderson said. “I don’t want to present this as ‘Brandon versus Amazon.’ Amazon’s great. But I think that in the long run, Amazon being a monopoly is actually bad for Amazon. If they don’t have competition, they will stop innovating.”

He also wanted to play around with bundling and upselling. Traditional publishers, he said, offer few products and few options. The array of packages on Kickstarter range from $40 for four e-books to $500 for the four books in all formats, plus eight boxes of “swag.”

“What I can do with the Kickstarter,” he said, “is I can say, ‘hey, if you really want to have more, we will give you more.’”

(2) FIRESIDE WILL STOP PUBLISHING IN 2022. Brian J. White, Executive Editor and Owner of Fireside, announced yesterday that the magazine will stop publishing later this year.

… When I stepped back in as owner last year, I had big hopes of taking Fireside forward for years to come. But unfortunately life had other ideas, between major increases last fall to my responsibilities at my day job and a series of difficult life events that have made it impossible for me to continue Fireside while maintaining any semblance of mental and physical health. Compounding that, even though we made progress in adding subscribers, Fireside is still losing a lot of money each month, and the circumstances described above also got in the way of implementing additional plans to bring in more funds.

This was a really difficult decision to make, but between the time and financial considerations, I can’t find a path forward. Fireside has an incredible legacy, and I don’t want that to be marred by a slow, struggling death. The best thing for the magazine is to allow it to close with grace and dignity once we’ve published all the stories and poems we currently have under contract, as well as two books that have been in the works for a long time….

…While Fireside Magazine will no longer be accepting submissions, we have enough content under contract to continue publishing into September, both through our usual ebooks and weekly stories released online. Everything we’ve published in the magazine will remain available online….

(3) LETTER FROM UKRAINE. Charles Stross posted an open letter from his Ukranian translator: “A letter from Ukrainian artists to the world artists”.

… We believe that not all Russian citizens are fans of Putin’s regime and not all of them justify this war. We know that plenty of Russians feel scared to use their voices and speak up against Putin’s regime. Many believe it is none of their business. Yet, there are also many who believe in the righteousness of Putin and his propaganda.

So, we plead with you — writers and visual content creators that have big audiences of readers and followers in Russia. To them, your opinion and your words matter. Your stand on the war in Ukraine matters. Please, stand by us as we fight for our values, our democracy, and our freedom. For the simple right to be Ukrainians and live in Ukraine. Your powerful voices can influence these Russian readers and followers. To encourage them to be brave, connect with their values, and take a stand on ending this ruthless war.

Please, take to your platforms and address your Russian and Ukrainian audiences. The first ones need your encouragement to believe in the power of their voices against Putin’s regime. The second ones are in desperate need of support and kindness….

(4) MEANWHILE, IN MOSCOW. Repression is ramping up in Moscow – and every other Idaho town. Boise State Public Radio reports “Idaho librarians could face jail time for lending “harmful” books”.

…House lawmakers could soon consider whether prosecutors could criminally charge librarians for allowing minors to check out sexually explicit materials.

Giving explicit material to kids has been a crime in Idaho since at least 1972, but public libraries, including those at colleges and universities, are exempted from that law.

Rep. Gayann DeMordaunt (R-Eagle) wants to cut that exemption, meaning librarians could face up to a year in prison and a $1,000 fine any time they lend explicit materials to someone under 18….

(5) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman encourages listeners to eat enchiladas with Bram Stoker Award-winning writer Paul Tremblay in episode 166 of his Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Paul Tremblay

Paul Tremblay is the author of the award-winning novels novels A Head Full of Ghosts (2015), which won the Bram Stoker Award and the Massachusetts Book Award, Disappearance at Devil’s Rock (2016), which won the British Fantasy Award, and The Cabin at the End of the World (2018), which won the Bram Stoker Award and Locus Award. His most recent novel is Survivor Song, published in 2020, with The Pallbearer’s Club due out later this year. He’s also the author of the novels The Little SleepNo Sleep till WonderlandSwallowing a Donkey’s Eye, and writing as P. T,. Jones along with Stephen Graham Jones, Floating Boy and the Girl Who Couldn’t Fly. His short story collection Growing Things and Other Stories was published in 2019. He is the co-editor of four anthologies including Creatures: Thirty Years of Monster Stories (with John Langan), and is on the board of directors and is one of the jurors for the Shirley Jackson Awards.

We discussed his legendary hatred of pickles, what it was like writing a pandemic novel before a pandemic only to see it published in the middle of one, if reviewers would have reacted differently to his zombies had Survivor Song been published any other year, his feelings about the description of him as a postmodernist, our shared love of ambiguity in fiction, whether horror having a moment means horror will also have an end, the one passage in his most recent novel which caused an argument with his editor, what’s up with the movie adaptations of his books, and much more.

(6) THE CALCULATION IS IN. Mary Robinette Kowal’s gala commemorating the 70th Anniversary of The Meteor (the event which precipitates The Calculating Stars) did more than $8,000 in gross sales as part of her effort to support HIAS in Ukraine for the crisis response work that they are doing.

(7) GUARDIANS OF JUSTICE. BGR promises “Netflix’s new superhero show might be the weirdest thing you ever watch”.

…People have no definitive idea what to make of Netflix’s newly released superhero series, The Guardians of Justice. That’s the only conclusion I can draw from the fact that reviews and user reaction is absolutely all over the place — to say nothing of the fact that the trailer for this streaming series, which is about a group of superheroes who confront evil after “their fearless leader self-destructs” — left me utterly speechless. In an “I have no idea what to even think” or “what is going on here” sort of way.

First of all, the show switches between animation and live-action, which takes some getting used to. The voice cast includes Diamond Dallas Page, Sharni Vinson, Denise Richards, and RJ Mitte. And there’s a kind of Adult Swim aesthetic that people either love or can’t stand….

(8) KGB. Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present Leanna Renee Hieber and John C. Foster on March 16 at 7:00 p.m. Eastern. This will be an in-person event at the KGB Bar, 85 East 4th Street, New York, NY 10003 (Just off 2nd Ave, upstairs).

Leanna Renee Hieber

Leanna Renee Hieber is an actress, playwright, narrator and award-winning author of Gothic, Gaslamp Fantasy novels for Tor and Kensington Books such as the Strangely Beautiful, Eterna Files, Spectral City series and A Haunted History of Invisible Women: True Stories of America’s Ghosts. Featured on TV shows like Mysteries at the Museum and Beyond the Unknown discussing Victorian Spiritualism, Leanna lectures around the country on paranormal and 19th century subjects.

John C. Foster

John C. Foster is the author of the forthcoming horror novel, Leech, the recent crime thriller Rooster and four other horror novels, the most recent of which is Mister White. His stories have been collected in Baby Powder and Other Terrifying Substances. He lives in Brooklyn with the actress Linda Jones and their dog Coraline.

(9) FANAC.ORG FANHISTORY ZOOM PART 2. The LASFS family reunion continues in the second part of Fanac.org’s latest fanhistory Zoom: “Death Does Not Release You – LASFS (Pt 2 of 2)”.

In part 2 of this FANAC Fan History Zoom Session (Feb 2022), the LASFS family reunion continues. Craig Miller (TV writer and producer, Worldcon chair, and LASFS member), Ken Rudolph (filmmaker, fanzine editor, former LASFS officer), Tim Kirk (professional artist, awarded many Fan Artist and Professional Artist Hugo Awards), and Bobbi Armbruster (professional and fan meeting and convention organizer) continue their conversation. Despite some early audio problems, the talk ranges from other Los Angeles fan subgroups like the Bixel Street Irregulars (40s), the Petards (late 60s-80s) and the Blackguards (60s), to well-known fans and professionals of the Los Angeles area to untimely deaths. Tim Kirk tells the wonderful story of how his Master’s Thesis and a little luck resulted in his breaking through to the professional art field. There are even some convention stories, including the surprising origin of Loscon. If you’re interested in the first big Heinlein blood drive, plans for the Last Dangerous Visions, or how many people could fit in the clubhouse kitchen, settle back and enjoy the recording.

(10) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

2011 [Item by Cat Eldridge] Eleven years ago, The Adjustment Bureau film premiered. It is based off the Philip K. Dick “Adjustment Team” short story that was first published in Orbit Science Fiction (No. 4, September–October 1954). (It’s available in The Adjustment Team and Other Selected Stories from the usual suspects for just a buck ninety nine.)  

Written and directed by George Nolfi, who previously wrote the genre film Timeline, it had a lot of producers — Bill Carraro, Michael Hackett, Chris Moore, plus George Nolfi in his third role in the film. It had an absolutely amazing cast: Emily Blunt, Matt Damon, Michael Kelly, Anthony Mackie, John Slattery and Terence Stamp. 

It did exceedingly well at the box office making nearly one hundred thirty million against just fifty million in total costs. Rather great I’d say. 

So how was the reception for it? Mostly excellent really though a few reviewers I admit were really puzzled by it as romance and SF is a combination they don’t grok. The reviewer at the Washington Examiner said that it “is that rare thing, an intelligent romance” while 7M Pictures stated of it that is “a fantastic piece of science fiction told in the flavor of a classic Twilight Zone episode.” And the Examiner summed it up nicely this way: “It’s rare when a film is able to blend together two different genres so well, especially when they are two genres that you don’t normally see together, in this case, science-fiction and romance.”

It does not get that a great rating at Rotten Tomatoes among audience reviewers garnering just sixty-seven percent. Not bad, but not overwhelming. 

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 4, 1905 Frank Utpatel. Artist who may have done some interior illustrations for Weird Tales, he’s remembered for his Arkham House book covers that began with Lovecraft’s The Shadow over Innsmouth novel in 1936. He would do covers for Ashton, Howard, Derleth, and Lovecraft. One of my favorite covers by him is for Derleth’s The Casebook of Solar Pons but then I like all of his Solar Pons covers and their obviously Holmesian riff. (Died 1980.)
  • Born March 4, 1914 Ward Kimball. He was part of Walt Disney’s original team of animators, known as the Nine Old Men. Keep in mind that he did not create characters but animated them, which he did to great ability — Jiminy Cricket, the Mad Hatter, Mickey Mouse, and Tweedledee and Tweedledum. He eventually became an animation director at Disney starting with Fantasia, and he worked on Mary Poppins. (Died 2002.)
  • Born March 4, 1923 Sir Patrick Alfred Caldwell-Moore CBE HonFRS FRAS. Astronomer who liked Trek and Who early on but said later that he stopped watching when “they went PC – making women commanders.” Despite that, he’s here because he shows up in the debut Eleventh Doctor story, “The Eleventh Hour“. And he was also in the radio version of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. (Died 2012.)
  • Born March 4, 1923 Patrick Moore. He held the record as the presenter of the world’s longest-running television series with the same original presenter, BBC’s The Sky at Night.  He was a genre writer with six such novels to his name, one co-written, and a lot of related non-fiction, one that garnered him a Hugo nomination at Interaction, Futures: 50 Years in Space: The Challenge of the Stars, that was co-written with David A. Hardy. (Died 2012.)
  • Born March 4, 1965 Paul W. S. Anderson, 57. If there be modern pulp films, he’s the director of them. He’s responsible for the Resident Evil franchise plus Event HorizonAlien V. PredatorPandorum and even Monster Hunter
  • Born March 4, 1966 Paul Malmont, 56. Author of the comic strips The Chinatown Death Cloud Peril and Jack London in Paradise which blends pulp tropes and SF elements including using as protagonists Heinlein and Asimov. He wrote the first four issues of DC’s excellent Doc Savage series with artist Howard Porter. While a marketing executive at DC he created the DC Daily video series, now over four hundred and fifty episodes long. 
  • Born March 4, 1973 Len Wiseman, 49. Producer or Director of the Underworld franchise. Director of the Total Recall remake. Also involved in StargateIndependence DayMen in Black and Godzilla in the Property Department end of things. He is the Sleepy Hollow series creator and producer for much of it, wrote the pilot as well. (Is it worth watching? I’ve not seen any of it.) Producer for much of the Lucifer seriesas well and is the producer for the entire series of the rebooted Swamp Thing. Also produced The Gifted

(12) COMICS SECTION.

  • The Argyle Sweater probably should be spelled “Aaarggghyle” after this bad superhero-themed pun.
  • Bizarro makes an okay joke in the foreground, but studying the gags in the background is even more entertaining.  

(13) CLICK AND LEARN. What writer whose initials are Ray Bradbury helped inspire lyricist Bernie Taupin? Far Out Magazine knows: “The story behind Elton John song ‘Rocket Man’”.

…The opening lines, which read: “She packed my bags last night, pre-flight. Zero hour: 9am. And I’m gonna be high as a kite by then,” was conceived by Taupin while he was driving to his parents in Lincolnshire, England. Anxious that he’ll forget the lines, he drove some back roads as fast as he could to put it down on paper. Until he reached their house he had to “repeat it to himself for two hours,” which was “unfortunate” but also worthwhile given the magnanimous status the song achieved….

(14) AND THEY LIVED HAPPILY EVER AFTER. SYFY Wire assures us that John DiMaggio will voice Bender in the forthcoming Futurama revival. A bit of closure to a “crisis” that might have gone completely unnoticed had it happened this week.

Good news… again… everyone! Bendergate is finally over. Actor John DiMaggio has officially settled his pay dispute with 20th Century Studios and will return as the voice of Bender for Hulu’s upcoming revival of Futurama. To quote the booze and cigar-loving robot specifically programed for bending girders (and partying): “It’s gonna be fun on a bun!”…

(15) CONREP IN THE WIND. SF2 Concatenation has just tweeted the link to an advance-post of a Windycon con report. This is ahead of their full seasonal edition slated for April 15 (but which may be held till April 20 if the Hugo short-lists are announced Easter weekend).

By Sue Burke: “The 2021 Windycon in Chicago, USA”.

In some ways, Windycon 47 unfolded normally, with panels, music, theatre, gaming, an anime track, art show, dealer’s room, and even the season’s first snowfall, right on time. It happened in the usual place, the Westin Lombard Yorktown Center. But the 47th annual Windycon should have taken place two years earlier in 2020. Instead, due to CoVID-19, a pared-down Zoom event 13th-15th November 2020, called Breezycon, offered a taste of the “family” feeling of the convention’s long history….

(16) BUSTED. Got to love the New York Times headline: “‘After Yang’ Review: Do Androids Dream of Sheep, Babysitting, Being?”

…Repairing Yang proves unsurprisingly more challenging than poking around under the hood of a car. Yang is a secondhand model, “certified refurbished,” yet used nevertheless. And while his warranty is still valid, the store where he was procured, Second Siblings, is out of business. “I told you we should have just bought a new one,” Kyra chides Jake with the old I-told-you-so sigh. In the future, men still take care of the big household chores; wives berate their husbands for making foolish decisions; and some families live in swoon-worthy houses with floor-to-ceiling windows and open-floor plans….

(17) THE NEXT BIG THING IS STILL PRETTY SMALL. “Two pillars of biological dogma upended by discovery of huge bacteria with nuclei”Daily Kos analyzes the impact.

…The proposed new species, Thiomargarita magnifica, is about 50 times larger than any other known bacterium, and it’s also the only bacterium we know of to keep its DNA inside a membrane-bound structure.  Either of those discoveries by itself would be very significant, so this double whammy really is a rare find.  Game changer!  Paradigm shift!  And all that jazz!  Microbiologists sure seem impressed

(18) MADAM I’M ADAM. A time-traveling pilot teams up with his younger self and his late father to come to terms with his past while saving the future. Comes to Netflix on March 11.

(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Superman and Batman kibitz in this latest video from How It Should Have Ended that dropped today. “How Spider-Man No Way Home Should Have Ended”.

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

Pixel Scroll 2/19/22 I Am NOT Pixel Number Six

(1) COLUMBIA COLLEGE REACTS TO ALLEGATIONS AGAINST WELLER. Columbia College Chicago has announced that faculty member and Bradbury biographer Sam Weller, accused by a former colleague of sexual assault, will ‘step away’ from teaching during Columbia investigation.

A Columbia faculty member publicly accused of sexual assault by a former colleague at the college has agreed to “step away” from the classroom while the college investigates the claims. 

In an article published on Medium Feb. 12, Cara Dehnert, a former associate professor of instruction in the Business and Entrepreneurship Department, accused Sam Weller, associate professor in the English and Creative Writing Department, of sexually assaulting her in his office on March 25, 2018. 

…Dehnert said she received no communication from Human Resources after her meeting with them in 2020, and as of Feb. 18 has not heard from the college following the publication of her article.

In a Feb. 15 statement, Lambrini Lukidis, associate vice president of Strategic Communications and External Relations, said the college was investigating the allegations against Weller. 

“Columbia College Chicago is aware of recent new allegations of potential criminal behavior and misconduct, which the College is investigating,” the statement said. “All reports of crimes and misconduct are taken seriously, investigated by the College and forwarded to local law enforcement if necessary.”  

Over the course of the past week, Dehnert’s post was shared on various social media platforms, via email and in the Columbia Engage app. As word of the accusation spread, calls for accountability and for Weller’s removal from the classroom grew. A petition titled “Hold Sam Weller accountable” was posted Wednesday on Change.org, and as of Friday evening had garnered more than 2,600 signatures. 

In a Feb. 16 interview, Madhurima Chakraborty, president of the Faculty Senate and associate chair of the English and Creative Writing Department, said she wanted more transparency from the college. 

“I want there to be clarity around accountability,” Chakraborty said. “I want there to be a clear understanding of what it is that we should be able to expect from our workplaces and the place where we study.” 

A statement from Lukidis to the Chronicle on Feb. 18 said Weller and the college “have agreed he will step away from his classes pending the outcome of the investigation.”  

Students enrolled in Weller’s classes received an email Friday afternoon from Pegeen Reichert Powell, chair of the English and Creative Writing Department, informing them that Weller’s classes would be taught by a substitute “for the time being.”…  

A local Chicago TV news devoted two minutes to the story, strangely failing to identify the accused person but interviewing the accuser on camera: “Columbia College Professor to ‘Step Away’ From Teaching Amid Sexual Assault Probe” at NBC Chicago.

Cara Dehnert Huffman has learned she’s not the only one, as she told Facebook readers yesterday.

… Since then, I’ve been contacted by five other women and counting who shared similar experience. Except all of them were students at the time.

I don’t know why Columbia College Chicago didn’t act when Sam’s behavior was reported by someone else in 2017. I don’t know why (it appears) that CCC did not act when I reported in 2020.

I’ve said all along that my only goal is to help people moving forward. But as I read and listen to heart wrenching tale after tale, all of which are too similar to mine and all of which done by the hands of Sam, I’ve reconsidered my position.

The pattern is clear. Sam’s abuse and manipulation go back as early as 2008. 2008!!!! …

(2) SOMETHING PROS WONDER ABOUT. Lincoln Michel asks, “Do blurbs work?” and answers: Maybe, but yes if Stephen King blurbs your first novel: “Do Blurbs Actually Work?”

… Yes, sometimes. I myself have bought books thanks to blurbs now and then. Recently, I was browsing a translated literature table and saw The Houseguest by Amparo Dávila. I’d never heard of the author, but the book had blurbs from Carmen Maria Machado and Julio Cortázar so I thought, hell, let’s give this author a try! I’m glad I did.

Whenever blurb discourse heats up, plenty of readers say blurbs are a factor. So yes, they can sell books.

At the same time, yes, it is perhaps true that blurbs are rarely the deciding factor….

(3) GET READY. Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki pointed Facebook readers to the cover and table of contents release for Bridging Worlds: Global Conversations on Creating Pan-African Speculative Literature In A Pandemic at Jembefola, which will be released as a free download there on February 21.

…It will feature 18 non-fiction pieces by 19 creatives You can check out the TOC  here.

Our amazing cover was done by Dare Segun Falowo. The book itself will be free to download in all formats, following and due to the events inspired by Amazon KDP’s bad behaviour….

… 2020 was a landmark year in the lives of speculative fiction writers trying to both survive and create in the pandemic-lockdown breakout year. It was especially difficult for Black people, and Africans on the continent and in the diaspora.

The Bridging Worlds anthology examines those difficulties and how Black people and African writers navigated them. Even though we had myriad experiences in the different worlds we inhabit, we were nonetheless plagued by well, the same plague, no pun intended.

Bridging Worlds seeks to explore the threads and lines that connect us as we navigated this singular yet multifaceted experience, and show that connection in the various non-fiction pieces written in the diverse styles and forms the authors chose….

(4) WRAPPED. George R.R. Martin gave Not a Blog readers a progress report on House of the Dragon.

Exciting news out of London — I am informed that shooting has WRAPPED for the first season of HOUSE OF THE DRAGON.

Yes, all ten episodes.   I have seen rough cuts of a few of them, and I’m loving them.  Of course, a lot more work needs to be done.   Special effects, color timing, score, all the post production work.

But the writing, the directing, the acting all look terrific.   I hope you will like them as much as I do…. 

HBO/HBO Max chief content officer Casey Bloys was asked by Variety when the show will air.

…While Bloys could not tell Variety when “House of the Dragon” might premiere, he did confirm that it’s likely the show sticks around for more than just one season.

“If you’re betting on whether we’re going to do a second season, I think it’s probably a pretty good bet,” Bloys said. “Generally speaking, we usually let something air and see how it does, but obviously, we’ll make preparations ahead of time to make sure we’re ahead of the game.”…

(5) SFF MAGAZINE TRENDS AND INSIGHTS. Jason Sanford has published the “Genre Grapevine SF/F Magazines Survey Results” in a free Patreon post. He notes, “It turns out the results before the pandemic match up pretty close to the results in 2022. I also included a ton of the comments people shared as they completed the survey. Some fascinating stuff in those comments.”

At the end of 2019 I released the special report #SFF2020: The State of Genre Magazines, which examined the history of genre magazines along with the issues facing today’s magazines and podcasts. The report also included interviews with the editors, publishers, and staff of a number of leading SF/F magazines and podcasts.

I intended to follow that report with an examination of the attitudes of people in the science fiction and fantasy community towards their genre’s magazines and podcasts. I completed a survey on this topic in December 2019 and intended to combine the survey results with more interviews and research.

If all went well, the report would have been released in February 2020.

Of course, all did not go well. The global COVID pandemic shut the world down and swept my own personal life. I didn’t have the time to complete the report.

A few weeks ago I looked over the 2019 survey results and realized they presented an opportunity to see if the pandemic had changed attitudes among people in the SF/F community toward genre magazines and podcasts. I re-ran the same survey and compared the results….

(6) MYSTERIES REVEALED. Editor Laura Stadler tweeted a thread inviting readers to better understand what editors do. However, it’s in German, and if Twitter’s translations are not up to your standards, by all means, don’t click! Personally, I found it helpful. Thread starts here. The translation of the first tweet says —

Twitter, let’s talk about what editors do? And why am I, as an editor, not an absolute enemy of authors and why do you really not have to be afraid of me and my work on your texts?

(7) RETURN TO WONDERLAND. Literary Hub’s Erin Morgenstern shares the experience of rereading Carroll’s story for Alice in “How Lewis Carroll Built a World Where Nothing Needs to Make Sense”.

… Every time I read the books, I am struck by something that hadn’t captured my attention the same way in previous readings. On this most recent re-reading, I noticed anew how often Alice interferes with pencils belonging to other characters, and I was particularly caught by the question of what does the flame of a candle look like after the candle is blown out? There are treasures to be found in these pages, glimmering, whether it is your first time reading, or fifth, or fiftieth.

No matter how familiar these stories may be, that white rabbit might lead you somewhere unexpected, if only you will follow….

(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1960 [Item by Cat Eldridge]

The time is the day after tomorrow. The place: a far corner of the universe. A cast of characters: three men lost amongst the stars. Three men sharing the common urgency of all men lost. They’re looking for home. And in a moment, they’ll find home; not a home that is a place to be seen, but a strange unexplainable experience to be felt. — opening narration

On this date sixty two years ago, The Twilight Zone’s “Elegy” aired for this first time. It was the twentieth episode of the first season and was written by Charles Beaumont who you might recognize as the screenwriter of 7 Faces of Dr. Lao. Beaumont would die at just thirty-eight of unknown causes that were assumed to be neurological in nature. 

The cast for this SF Twilight Zone episode was Cecil Kellaway as Jeremy Wickwire, Jeff Morrow as Kurt Meyers, Kevin Hagen as Captain James Webber and Don Dubbins as Peter Kirby. 

This episode was based on his short story “Elegy” published in Imagination, February 1953. It was included in Mass for Mixed Voices: The Selected Short Fiction of Charles Beaumont.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born February 19, 1912 Walter Gillings. UK fan of some note. He edited Scientifiction, a short lived but historic fanzine. Shortly thereafter he edited Tales of Wonder, regarded as the first UK SF zine. Clarke made his pro debut here. He’d edit a number of other genre zines later on, and ISFDB lists him as having two genre stories to his credit whereas Wiki claims he has three. (Died 1979.)
  • Born February 19, 1915 Fred Freiberger. He’s best remembered as  the producer of the third and final season of Star Trek. He was also involved in the Wild Wild West, the second season of Space: 1999 which he’s wholly responsible for and the short-lived Beyond Westworld. He was brought unto Trek after Roddenberry resigned as Showrunner. (Died 2003.)
  • Born February 19, 1937 Terry Carr. Well known and loved fan, author, editor, and writing instructor. I usually don’t list Awards both won and nominated for but his are damned impressed so I will. He was nominated five times for Hugos for Best Fanzine (1959–1961, 1967–1968), winning in 1959, was nominated three times for Best Fan Writer (1971–1973), winning in 1973, and he was Fan Guest of Honor at ConFederation in 1986. Wow.  He worked at Ace Books before going freelance where he edited an original story anthology series called Universe, and The Best Science Fiction of the Year anthologies that ran from 1972 until his early death in 1987. Back to Awards again. He was nominated for the Hugo for Best Editor thirteen times (1973–1975, 1977–1979, 1981–1987), winning twice (1985 and 1987). His win in 1985 was the first time a freelance editor had won. Wow indeed. Novelist as well. Just three novels but all are still in print today though I don’t think his collections are and none of his anthologies seem to be currently either. A final note. An original anthology of science fiction, Terry’s Universe, was published the year after his death with all proceeds went to his widow. (Died 1987.) 
  • Born February 19, 1937 Lee Harding, 83. He was among the founding members of the Melbourne Science Fiction Club along with Bertram Chandler. He won Ditmar Awards for Dancing Gerontius and Fallen Spaceman. In the Oughts, the Australian Science Fiction Foundation would give him the Chandler Award in gratitude for his life’s work. It does not appear that any of his work is available from the usual digital sources. 
  • Born February 19, 1964 Jonathan Lethem, 58. His first novel, Gun, with Occasional Music, a weird mix of SF and detective fiction, is fantastic in more ways that I can detail here. I confess that I lost track of him after that novel so I’d be interested in hearing what y’all think of his later genre work particularly his latest, The Arrest. His only major Award win was a World Fantasy Award for The Wall of the Sky, the Wall of the Eye collection. 
  • Born February 19, 1966 Claude Lalumière, 56. I met him once here in Portland. Author, book reviewer and has edited numerous anthologies. Amazing writer of short dark fantasy stories collected in three volumes so far, Objects of WorshipThe Door to Lost Pages and Nocturnes and Other Nocturnes. Tachyon published his latest anthology, Super Stories of Heroes & Villains
  • Born February 19, 1968 Benicio del Toro, 54. Originally cast as Khan in that Trek film but unable to perform the role as he was committed to another film. (And yes, I think he would’ve made a better Khan.)  He’s been The Collector in the Marvel film franchise, Lawrence Talbot in the 2010 remake of The Wolfman, and codebreaker DJ in Star Wars: The Last Jedi.  Let’s not forget that he was in Big Top Pee-wee as Duke, the Dog-Faced Boy followed by being in Terry Gilliam’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas as Dr. Gonzo which damn well should count as genre even if it isn’t. 

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • The Far Side sympathizes with a famous writer.
  • xkcd explains the tractor beam – in its own idiocyncratic way.

(11) QUEEN TO QUEEN SEVEN. Paul Weimer returns to A Green Man Review with an assessment of “Greta Kelly’s The Seventh Queen

When last we left Askia, things had gone so very wrong for her. Her efforts to protect her people, her lost kingdom had been completely dashed, and she has been captured. Now, at the heart of the power of her enemy, and nearly completely denuded of her powers, Askia has to find new ways and techniques to resist and oppose Radovan, and not incidentally, save her own life. For it is certain that, like his previous captives and victims, Radovan will, within a month, kill her, and take and distribute her power as he did his previous Empresses.

The Seventh Queen continues the story from Kelly’s debut novel The Frozen Queen.

(12) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites listeners to brunch with Natalie Luhrs in episode 165 of the Eating the Fantastic podcast.

My guest for brunch at the Unconventional Diner — about which Washington Post food critic Tom Sietsema wrote — when he placed the restaurant at #4 on his Fall dining guide last year — “No restaurant fed me more often, or better, throughout the pandemic than French chef David Deshaies’s whimsical tribute to American comfort food.” — was two-time Hugo Award finalist Natalie Luhrs.

She’s the former science fiction and fantasy reviewer for Romantic Times Book Reviews and was briefly an acquisitions editor for Masque Books, the digital imprint of Prime. Though she dabbles in writing speculative fiction and poetry, she is mostly known for her non-fiction — which earned her those nominations — and can be found at her personal blog, Pretty Terrible, the intersectional geek blog, The Bias, which she co-founded with previous guest of this podcast Annalee Flower Horne, and of course, on Twitter, as @eilatanReads.

We discussed why I had a more optimistic outlook on her chances of winning last year than she did, the emotions which inspired her most recently nominated work and the doxxing that resulted from her offering up that opinion, her love for Dune even as she recognizes the classic novel’s problematic parts, what she once said about the Lord Peter Wimsey continuations which caused a backlash, the ways romance and science fiction conventions differ, where she chooses to expend her spoons when controversies arise, the importance of making our shared fannish community a welcoming space for all, recent science fiction novels which blew her mind, and much more.

Natalie Luhrs

(13) A YEAR OF ROVING. NASA interviewed Mars 2020 team members on the occasion of Perseverance’s Landiversary.

It’s been one busy year for NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover! Join us in the Mars Yard at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory as we celebrate the one-year anniversary of the robotic explorer’s historic Mars landing. We’ll be chatting with members of the Mars 2020 team who helped make the moment happen, and they’ll tell us what’s next for the rover.

(14) NUMBER NINE, NUMBER NINE. BBC Culture’s Nicholas Barber is not ready to concede to Plan 9 From Outer Space: “Is this the worst film ever made?”

…Among cinephiles who enjoyed bad films as much as good ones, Plan 9 from Outer Space became known as the one movie you had to watch, and watch again, and tell your friends (or enemies) to watch, too. Xavier Mendik, co-editor of The Cult Film Reader, says that it “remains a key template for judging cult film status”. Its fans wrote unofficial sequels and mounted stage adaptations. Jerry and his buddies aim to watch it in an episode of Seinfeld from 1991. And in 1994, Tim Burton’s biopic of Ed Wood climaxes with the making of the film. “This is the one,” beams Wood (Johnny Depp) at its premiere. “This is the one they’ll remember me for”.

… And here’s the third key to its strange charm: it isn’t actually a failure in every respect. Don’t get me wrong. Plan 9 from Outer Space is a terrible film. A dreadful film. An atrocious film. But it does have some elements that are halfway decent, and it’s unlikely that it would have a cult following without them…

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] A family of excited Star Wars fans have turned up at a new exhibition on the construction of the Millennium Falcon months before it opens.

 A life-size prop of the spaceship was built in Pembroke Dock, Pembrokeshire, in 1979 for the Empire Strikes Back, which was filmed in Elstree.

And news of a permanent exhibition there, due to open in April, pushed some fans to make the jump to hyperspace prematurely.

Mark Williams, who works for the Pembroke Dock Heritage Trust, said one family had “jumped the gun a little bit” amid a flurry of calls, emails and social media posts from fans.

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

Pixel Scroll 2/4/22 Mrs. File You’ve Got A Lovely Pixel 

(1) “POINTLESS” QUIZ SHOW. [Item by Christian Brunschen.] I was just watching a repeat of the quiz show “Pointless” on BBC – where questions have been previously asked of 100 people who are given 1 minute to give answers; and the contestants have to try to find answers that are not only correct, but which as few as possible of the 100 polled people knew!

In this episode the final category was “Award-winning authors in specific genres” – and the three options were “Hugo Award for Best Novel”, “Wodehouse Award for Comic Literature” and “Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction”.

The contestants are allowed to give three possible answers, from any of the three options, and in order to win they need to give at least one answer which nobody else among the 100 knew – one “pointless” answer.

They chose to go for three answers from the Hugo Awards category:

  • Frank Herbert
  • Robert Silverberg
  • Brian Aldiss

Each one of those was then counted down to see how many of the group-of-100 had given that answer. 

The counter for Frank Herbert went down to 1 – only a single one of the 100 had given Frank Herbert as an answer – so just 1 away from being pointless.

Neither Robert Silverberg nor Brian Aldiss were correct – so the contestants did not win.

It was mentioned that Robert Silverberg had the most nominations without winning.

Pointless answers in the Hugo award category included Mary Robinette Kowal, Neil Gaiman, Ray Bradbury, Susanna Clarke, William Gibson, Robert A. Heinlein; big scorers (known by many of the 100) were Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, Philip K. Dick.

This was apparently season 25 episode 17 broadcast in April 2021, which can be seen by viewers in the UK (only) on BBC iPlayer right here.

(2) MAKING WORLDS AND PUZZLES. Host Kate Elliot discusses a worldbuilding topic with Karen Lord in Narrative Worlds Season 2: Ep. 3 now available on SFWA’s YouTube channel.

Welcome to Episode 3 of Season Two in the Narrative Worlds Webinar Series, hosted by author Kate Elliott! Featuring guest author Karen Lord, this month’s topic is “The Puzzles Inside Worldbuilding: Constructing Narratives at Various Lengths.” This monthly series digs into the theory and practice of building the worlds in which stories are set. Rather than focusing on a survey of basics like “What elements do you need to create a setting?” Elliott discusses a specific single topic in more depth each month with a guest.

(3) WAITING AT THE LIGHT. J. Michael Straczynski, in a public Patreon post, today announced that while the Babylon 5 reboot wasn’t greenlighted for fall 2022, it has been retained in active development at the CW and Warner Bros. for fall 2023. “B5 CW News”.

Anyone who knows the history of Babylon 5 knows that the path of this show has never been easy, and rarely proceeds in a straight line. Apparently, that has not changed.

About a month or so ago it was announced that the CW Network, B5’s home for the last year while the pilot script was in active development, was up for sale. When news of this broke, the immediate question was: will this have any effect on B5? Situations like this have a way of upending development because new owners usually want to put their imprimatur on what programs go forward. Like everyone else, I’d hoped there would be no immediate impact, and that progress on the project would continue onward unabated.

A few days ago, I heard from inside Warner Bros. that there were a number of High Level Conversations taking place with the CW to determine how many pilots, and what sort, could be picked up during this transition, especially given pre-existing deals and commitments. This made sense given the preceding paragraph, but I remained optimistic.

Today, about an hour ago, Deadline Hollywood announced the slate of pilot scripts being picked up for production by The CW. Babylon 5 was not on that list.

When a pilot script is not picked up to production, 99.999% of the time, that’s the end of the road for the project, the script is dead.

However: shortly before that piece was published, I received a call from Mark Pedowitz, President of The CW. (I should mention that Mark is a great guy and a long-time fan of B5. He worked for Warners when the show was first airing, and always made sure we got him copies of the episodes before they aired because he didn’t want to wait to see what happened next.)

Calling the pilot “a damned fine script,” he said he was taking the highly unusual step of rolling the project and the pilot script into next year, keeping B5 in active development while the dust settles on the sale of the CW….

(4) CANDIDATES FOR CHAIR OF GLASGOW IN 2024. Alice Lawson, on behalf of the board of the Glasgow in 2024 bid, has called for anyone who intends to put themselves forward to chair the convention to let the board know by February 7. Bid chair Esther MacCallum-Stewart is already a candidate. Her letter was shared with Glasgow in 2024 supporters.

Dear Alice, the Board of Glasgow 2024, all staff members, and pre-supporters.

I would like to put myself forward as Chair of the Glasgow 2024 Worldcon.

I have been working towards a third Worldcon in Glasgow since 2016, announcing an intention to bid at Novacon alongside Emma England and Vanessa May. Since then I have led the bid team, first as a Co-Chair, and then as Chair. We are currently approaching just under 1000 pre-supporters, and the Bid has had tremendous support from the SFF fan community and beyond.

I have been a volunteer for Worldcon since 2011, when I joined the Loncon 3 team as an AH for games. Since then I have worked as Programme manager and admin (Loncon, MAC II), DH for Facilitation (Dublin 2019), and co-DH for Facilities (ConZealand). I have also volunteered for Eastercons (the UK national convention) and Octocon (the Irish National Convention). Elsewhere I have been Vice-Chair of DiGRA (Digital Games Research Association) and am currently Chair of the UK chapter, which runs events on a yearly basis. In 2021 I was made a Professor of Game Studies at the University of Staffordshire.

I am hugely proud of the Bid Team and their passion for Glasgow 2024. Every day I see something original, funny or hard working from them, and this continues to grow. I have seen friendship, bravery and more than my fair share of armadillos in the last few years, as more people join and add their own sense of wonder and creativity to the bid. We would not be so strong if it were not for all these working parts, in which every single one counts towards something brilliant. I am constantly amazed at the goodwill and passion to create an event that is inclusive, caring and extraordinary. I would be honoured to lead such a group forwards as Chair, towards a Worldcon in Glasgow, a city I love, in 2024, a year which has special importance to me.

/s/ Professor Esther MacCallum-Stewart

(5) SPACE GHOSTS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times behind a paywall, Isabel Hilton reviews The Subplot: What China Is Reading And Why It Matters by Megan Walsh, a book about fiction popular in China and what Chinese tastes in fiction have to say about the Chinese.  Among the topics Walsh discusses is sf in China.

For many authors who must navigate the uncertainties of shifting official red lines, science fiction offers a safe haven. It is a genre in which to address the disruption and dislocations between past and present, and between official narratives and reality, and to explore otherwise dangerous themes such as social injustice.

Liu Cixin, a computer engineer and bestselling sci-fi author, locates real world problems such as pollution and human greed on distant planets, while in the story “Underground Bricks,” Han Song describes recycling the rubble of the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, which contains victims’ remains, into ‘intelligent bricks’ for space colonization, thus populating distant planets with unhappy ghosts.

(6) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites listeners to nibble noodles with Daryl Gregory in Episode 164 of the Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Daryl Gregory

It’s time for you to join Daryl Gregory and me as we have lunch at Dolan Uyghur restaurant.

Daryl Gregory’s first novel, Pandemonium (2008), won the Crawford Award and was nominated for a World Fantasy Award. His novella We Are All Completely Fine (2014) won the Shirley Jackson Award and the World Fantasy Award. His short story collection Unpossible and Other Stories was named one of the best books of 2011 by Publishers Weekly. His novel Spoonbenders (2017) was a Top 20 Amazon Editor’s Choice, an Audible.com’s editors choice for the year, and an NPR best book of the year. His most recent novel is Revelator, which was published last August. His comics work includes Planet of the ApesThe Green HornetDracula, and the graphic novel The Secret Battles of Genghis Khan.

If you’d like a tiny taste of Daryl before taking a seat at the table for our full meal, check out what he had to say while eating a raspberry coffee cake donut during the 2018 Nebula Awards weekend.

We discussed how he celebrated the two books he published during the pandemic, what caused him to say about his latest novel, “I like to split the difference to keep everyone as unsatisfied as possible,” the narrative technique which finally unlocked the writing of that book (and why it made Revelator more difficult to complete), how our mothers responded to our writing, the way marketing affects the reading protocols of our stories, how listening to Damon Knight and Kate Wilhelm argue about one of his stories freed him as a writer, the promise a murder mystery makes to a reader, his “Mom Rule” for Easter eggs, the way he tortured a comic book artist with an outrageous panel description, how to play fair when writing a science fiction mystery where anything can happen, what Samuel R. Delany told him which helped him make his first sale to F&SF, how he doesn’t understand why everybody doesn’t want to be writers, the way his writing gets better during the times he isn’t writing, Gardner Dozois’ “ladder of sadness,” and much more.

(7) SHIPPING SCHEDULE. The Orville: New Horizons will now arrive on June 2.

(8) MEMORY LANE.

1998 [Item by Cat Eldridge] Twenty-four years ago, Morn apparently had died on “Who Mourns for Morn?”, an episode of Deep Space Nine. Yes, that character in Quark’s Bar, the one what never spoke on the series despite ninety-one appearances as Morn plus several more as Morn on Next Generation and Voyager

The actor had another eleven appearances as other characters on the DS9 series. Indeed Shepherd makes an appearance (still uncredited as all of his Morn appearances were) as a Bajoran mourner at Morn’s memorial service who sits in Morn’s chair, thus showing the actor’s actual appearance.

Can I spoil a twenty-year-old episode really? I think not. Morn had faked his death to escape some legal troubles and this dealt with aftermath of him doing so. It was a quite funny episode as written by Mark Gehred-O’Connell for season six after previously writing “Second Sight” and “Meredian” for the series.

Critical reviews of it are almost non-existent with the only one being the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch by Keith R. A. DeCandido for Tor.com who said that “Still, this is, ultimately, a gag episode about a gag character, and the gag loses steam at the end when we get the full story, but Quark has to say all of it in order to keep the gag going. It doesn’t work at that point, and the ending falls flat because we can see the strings.” I never thought of Morn as being a gag. He’s somehow sweet despite never saying a word. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born February 4, 1922 William Phipps. He started off his genre career by being in both The War of The Worlds and Invaders from Mars. He’d later be in Cat-Women of the MoonThe Snow Creature,The Evil of Frankenstein, and the Dune series. He’d have one-offs in BatmanGreen HornetThe MunstersWild Wild West and a lead role in the Time Express series which would last four episodes according to IMDB. (Died 2018.)
  • Born February 4, 1925 Russell Hoban. Author of a number of genre novel of which the best by far is Riddley Walker. Indeed, ISFDB some fifteen such novels by him, so I’m curious how he is as a genre writer beyond Riddley Walker. (Died 2011.)
  • Born February 4, 1936 Gary Conway, 86. Best remembered I’d say for starring in Irwin Allen‘s Land of the Giants. You can see the opening episode here. He was also in How to Make a Monster, a late Fifties horror film which I’m delighted to say that you can watch here. He’s the Young Frankenstein in it. 
  • Born February 4, 1940 John Schuck, 82. My favorite SF role by him is as the second Draal, Keeper of the Great Machine, on the Babylon 5 series. I know it was only two episodes but it was a fun role. He’s also played the role of Klingon ambassador Kamarag in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home and in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.  He guest-starred in Deep Space Nine as Legate Parn in “The Maquis: Part II”, on Voyager as Chorus #3 in the “Muse” episode, and on Enterprise as Antaak in the “Divergence” and “Affliction” episodes.  Oh. and he was Herman Munster in The Munsters Today.  Now that was a silly role! Did you know his makeup was the Universal International Frankenstein-monster makeup format whose copyright NBCUniversal still owns? 
  • Born February 4, 1940 George Romero. Dubbed by many as Father of the Zombie Film. Certainly his Night of the Living Dead from just over fifty years ago is the root of the Zombie movie craze. He also created and executive-produced Tales from the Darkside. No, I’m not listing all of his films here as I’m assuming you tell me what your favorite film by him is as you always do.  (Died 2017.)
  • Born February 4, 1951 Patrick Bergin, 71. If he had done nothing else, he’d make the Birthday list today for playing Robin Hood in the 1990 Robin Hood which for my money is the finest such film made. Go ahead and argue, I’ve all night. Now as it turns out he has a very long career in this community starting after playing Robin Hood by being in Frankenstein as Victor Frankenstein, then Benjamin Trace In Lawnmower Man 2: Beyond Cyberspace (a film universally despised), George Challenger in The Lost WorldTreasure Island as Billy Bones, Merlin: The Return as King Arthur, Dracula as, well, Dracula Himself, Ghostwood as Friar Paul and Gallowwalkers as Marshall Gaza. 
  • Born February 4, 1959 Pamelyn Ferdin, 63. She was in the “And the Children Shall Lead” episode of Trek. She’ll show up in The Flying Nun (as two different characters), voicing a role in The Cat in the Hat short, Night GallerySealab 2020 (another voice acting gig), Shazam! and Project UFO.She’d have a main role in Space Academy, the Jonathan Harris failed series as well. 
  • Born February 4, 1961 Neal Asher, 61. I’m been reading and enjoying his Polity series since he started it nearly twenty years ago. Listing all of his works here would drive OGH to a nervous tick as I think there’s now close to thirty works in total. I recently finished off Jack Four, his latest novel in that series, and it’s typically filled with his usual mix of outrageous SF concepts. 

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Bizarro eavesdrops on the confessions of a garden gnome.
  • When social distancing should be enough….

(11) IF THE JUSTICE LEAGUE WERE DINOSAURS, MY LOVE. “DC Comics Turns Justice League Into Dinosaurs For Jurassic League” and Bleeding Cool has sample art.

… In the world of Jurassic League, Superman was still sent to Earth on a rocket ship from a dying planet. And he was still raised by humans. It’s just that he’s also a man-shaped brachiosaurus. Batman (rather, Batsaur, Gedeon clarifies for Polygon) is an allosaurus. Wonder Woman is a triceratops. The Joker is a dilophosaurus….

(12) QUESTRISON Q&A. Space Cowboy Books will host a reading and interview with J. Dianne Dotson, author of The Questrison Saga on Tuesday, February 15 at 6:00 p.m. Pacific. Free registration at Eventbrite.

The Questrison Saga is an epic four-book space opera beginning at the edge of our solar system and expanding out into the galaxy. Within its pages: Love and war. Spaceships and exotic worlds. Aliens, androids, ecosystems. Mages and presidents. Long cons. Family feuds that led to galactic destruction. Family ties that could save the galaxy.

(13) ASK HARRIS. And Space Cowboy Books will also host an interview with Brent A. Harris, author of the science fiction novel Alyx: An AI’s Guide to Love and Murder, on Tuesday, February 22 at 6:00 p.m. Pacific. Free registration here.

What if your home wanted you dead?

Tech-loving teen Christine makes fast friends with her home’s AI, Alyx. But when a real-world romance threatens their bond, Alyx turns from friend to foe.

Alyx is a positive LGBTQ+ coming-of-age techno-thriller trapped inside a monster-in-the house horror where the home itself is the monster.

(14) THE EYES HAVE IT. Clarion West is offering a “Draw Your Way Out with Julie E. Czerneda” online workshop on March 3 at 10:00 a.m. Pacific. Cost: $75. Register at the link.

Use visual means to organize and connect information about characters, setting, and movement, expand plot options using a flowchart, then combine all into a single large diagram outline.

 Every writer has their approach to resolving plot problems and generating new ideas. One that Julie Czerneda has used successfully for years is to “draw her way out.” In this workshop, you’ll use this technique to work through different story challenges, from character development to plotting. There is no advance preparation required.

Materials Required:

Attendees will be emailed worksheets to be used during the workshop and must have their own large sheet of paper (minimum 40X40cm).

(15) TAKING OFF THE DARK HELMET. Vox is ready to tell you “How fandom sent Boba Fett from minor character to leading man”.

…About 1.7 million households tuned into The Book of Boba Fett’s premiere last December, and a second season seems inevitable. Han Solo might be sabotaging the Death Star, Luke Skywalker might be forging the fate of the Force, but currently, Star Wars fans are far more fascinated with this obscure C+ player in a green visor. Back when I was a preteen Star Wars fan, my friends and I shared an innate understanding that Boba Fett was uncommonly cool, even if we didn’t know much about him. Twenty years later, I’m still trying to figure out why.

James Clarke, 36, is well equipped to answer that question. He’s a longtime editor of the Boba Fett Fan Club, which sports over 14,000 members and is the single most comprehensive repository of Fettian facts, tributes, and theories on the internet. Like me, Clarke fell in love with the bounty hunter as a child, and pursued his fascination to the point of writing reams of Boba-themed fanfiction in middle school. “I probably have 25-year-old stories still on the site somewhere,” says Clarke. (Minutes after our interview, he sent me a photo of himself in full Boba Fett cosplay, a confirmation of his bona fides.)…

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

Pixel Scroll 1/21/22 Just A Come-On From The Scrolls On Pixel Avenue

(1) THE MIND’S EYE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Carmen Maria Machado was interviewed by Mikaella Clements in a Washington Post story about whether fiction writers see their characters as they’re writing about them. “Gillian Flynn, Carmen Maria Machado and other authors discuss their creative process”.

…Carmen Maria Machado describes a similar experience with “Especially Heinous,” a short story from her collection “Her Body and Other Parties.” “I was in the shower shampooing my hair and I suddenly had this image of a woman with bells ringing in her eye sockets.” Machado says that her deeply visual imagination infiltrates every element of her life. “It’s like there’s something playing inside of my head all the time, when I’m listening to music, walking around and writing as well.”…

(2) FINALLY IN THEATERS. Kurt Loder tells what he thinks of the film based on the late Vonda McIntyre’s Nebula-winning novel The Moon & the Sun in “Review: The King’s Daughter” at Reason.com.

… Considering the film’s cast (Brosnan, William Hurt, Kaya Scodelario, Chinese superstar Fan Bingbing) and its probable CGI costs (even though much of the budget was covered by Chinese production companies), it’s odd that The King’s Daughter is debuting in the joyless wastes of January. (The picture was shot in 2014 and quickly strangled in its crib, for various movie-biz reasons and maybe the 2018 decision by the Chinese government to come down hard on Fan for major tax fraud). In any case, here it finally is….

Author McIntyre went to France in 2014 to witness location filming at Versailles.

(3) WRITER DRAWS THE LINE. Star Trek writer David Mack has announced that he will not attend the Farpoint Convention in Maryland next month because the convention will not require attendees to provide proof of vaccination and/or a recent negative COVID test. “David Mack – Why I’ve withdrawn from Farpoint Con 2022”.

…On Tuesday, January 11, I emailed Farpoint via the programming chair, Cindy Woods, to express my concerns and reservations concerning this lax approach to health and safety. My message read, in part:

“Per item 2, I am seriously troubled by the concom’s decision to not require proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test for attendees, guests, and staff.

“The proffered explanation that this decision was made out of concern about the privacy of attendees’ private health information rings hollow. Many other small, fan-run and volunteer-supported conventions are managing to check vaccination and test status for their attendees without it being an undue burden on them or an imposition on their attendees and guests.

“I would strongly urge the Farpoint team to reconsider this section of its COVID policy immediately, and to plan for verification of attendees’ vaccination statuses and/or recent negative test results.”

Cindy replied that the Farpoint committee intended to discuss the matter again during its next meeting, scheduled for the weekend of January 15-16, and that she would share with them my concerns and inform me of their conclusions.

Their response and final decision was, to be blunt, disappointing….

(4) TAKEDOWN RECTIFIED. The Fantasy Book Critic blog has had its service restored after a flood of wrong DMCA takedown notices by the Link-Busters anti-piracy service caused it to be removed by host Blogger. Link-Busters subsequently acknowledged their mistake.

(5) PICARD SEASON 2. The new season of Star Trek: Picard premieres March 3, 2022 on Paramount+.

(6) TENTH DOCTOR COMIC. Titan Comics has revealed Cover A for Doctor Who: Special 2022 by artist Adam Hughes.

Doctor Who: Special 2022 is written by Dan Slott (Spider-Man) and illustrated by Christopher Jones and Matthew Dow Smith.

Writer Dan Slott is set to delight fans with an epic story that sees companion Martha Jones captured by the insatiable Pyromeths, and her only hope for survival is to keep them distracted with sensational untold tales of the Tenth Doctor facing off against his greatest foes – both classic and new!

Doctor Who: Special 2022 Comic Book One-Shot (SC, 64pp, $7.99) hits stores on April 27, 2022. Pre-order from your local comic shop and Forbidden Planet (UK/Europe).

(7) ROBOPOP. [Item by Olav Rokne.] Yesterday was the the 25th anniversary of Daft Punk’s debut album “Homework,” which might be worth noting given both how the band has been reflected in sci-fi movies, and given the fact that they took on stage personas as robots. One of the most science-fictional bands ever to hit the mainstream. “The real story of how Daft Punk became the robots” at DJ Mag.

Daft Punk have taken on a robot form for so long that it’s hard to remember a time that they didn’t don their famous helmets for public appearances. Although the official line has been well told — the one with an exploding discoball — in this excerpt from his new book, Daft Punk’s Discovery: The Future Unfurled, Ben Cardew tells the real story of how the enigmatic French duo transformed into robots, according to those closest to them at the time…

… The helmets, according to Martin, were very heavy and “quite a faff”. But they looked fantastic. Bangalter and De Homem-Christo’s robotic outfits initially comprised a bespoke helmet each, a gauntlet that allowed them to control the helmet’s electronics, a pair of gloves and a “spaceman backpack” to hide the wiring and hardware. All of this was created by special effects expert Tony Gardner from initial designs by Alexandre Courtès and Martin Fougerol, artist friends of the band. …

(8) NOW YOU KNOW THE REST OF THE STORY. Radio Times keeps track of all the Doctor Who loose ends and celebrates whenever one of them gets tied up – no matter how many years it takes! “Doctor Who teaser confirms what happened to Peri”.

Nicola Bryant played companion Peri Brown opposite Colin Baker’s Sixth Doctor in the 1980s, but the character appeared to meet a dark fate in her final appearance as a series regular.

In the 1986 story The Trial of a Time Lord, the alien Kiv appeared to transplant his brain into Peri’s body, effectively killing her. It was later suggested, however, that Peri had survived, that the evidence of her death had been faked, and that she was now living as queen to the warrior king Yrcanos (Brian Blessed).

Fans never actually saw this happen, however, with some remaining convinced that Peri had died, while others were just curious as to what exactly her life with the eccentric King Ycarnos would’ve entailed.

36 years later and we’ve finally got our answer, as part of a trailer for the next classic Doctor Who Blu-ray set – The Collection: Season 22.

(9) MEAT LOAF OBIT. Singer Meat Loaf has died at the age of 74 reports the New York Times. His earliest genre credit cast a long shadow —

…His first major film role came in 1975 in the cult classic “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” in which he played Eddie, a delivery boy murdered for his brain by the cross-dressing Dr. Frank-N-Furter. …More recently, he had a role in several episodes of the TV series “Ghost Wars” from 2017-18.

(10) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1935 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Eighty-seven years ago, Charlie Chan in Paris, the seventh in that series, premiered. It was directed by Lewis Seiler as written by the trio of Earl Derr Biggers, Philip MacDonald and Stuart Anthony. All the films featured Warner Oland, a Swedish-American actor who had also played Fu Manchu. Oland would play this role sixteen times.

Honolulu Police detective Lieutenant Chan was created  by Biggers who wrote six novels in which he appears. The House Without a Key is the first one. It’s available from the usual suspects for ninety nine cents. 

Biggers loosely based Chan on Hawaiian detective Chang Apana and was intended to be the opposite of Fu Manchu. The real detective actually solved very few murder cases as he worked mostly on opium cases. M 

Over the years eleven different actors would portray him including Peter Ustinov and Ross Martin. 

This film was considered lost for decades until a print was discovered in Czechoslovakia with a collector in the seventies. After a number of showings in various revival cinemas throughout the States, it was released on DVD as part of a collection.  All of the films are in the public domain so you can watch it here.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 21, 1923 Judith Merril. Author of four novels, Shadow on the HearthThe Tomorrow PeopleGunner Cade, and Outpost Mars, the last two with C. M. Kornbluth. She also wrote many short stories, of which twenty-six are collected in Homecalling and Other Stories: The Complete Solo Short SF of Judith Merril (NESFA Press). She was an editor as well. From 1956-1966 she edited a series of volumes of the year’s best sf. Her collection England Swings (1968) helped draw attention to the New Wave. Oh, and between, 1965 and 1969, she was an exemplary reviewer for The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. (Died 1997.)
  • Born January 21, 1925 Charles Aidman. He makes the Birthday Honors for having the recurring role of Jeremy Pike on The Wild Wild West, playing him four times. Other SFF appearances include Destination SpaceThe InvadersTwilight ZoneMission: Impossible and Kolchak the Night Stalker to name but a few of them. (Died 1993.)
  • Born January 21, 1938 Wolfman Jack. Here because I spotted him showing up twice in Battlestar Galactica 1980 playing himself according to IMDb. He also had genre character roles in the Swamp Thing and Wonder Women series plus two horror films, Motel Hell and The Midnight Hour. (Died 1995.)
  • Born January 21, 1939 Walter C. DeBill, Jr., 83. An author of horror and SF short stories and a contributor to the Cthulhu Mythos. Author of the Observers of the Unknown series about a Lovecraftian occupy detective which is collected is two volumes, The Horror from Yith and The Changeling. They don’t appear to be in print currently.
  • Born January 21, 1956 Diana Pavlac Glyer, 66. Author whose work centers on C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, and the Inklings. She teaches in the Honors College at Azusa Pacific University in California. She has two excellent works out now, The Company They Keep: C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien as Writers in Community and Bandersnatch: C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, and the Creative Collaboration of the Inklings.

(12) FREE COMIC BOOK DAY IS MAY 7. Marvel Comics is getting a head start on Free Comic Book Day publicity by announcing the first of its three separate Free Comic one-shots. (This one also has a variant cover.)

 Announced last week, Spider-Man is gearing up for a brand-new era just in time for the character’s 60th anniversary! Fans who pick up Free Comic Book Day: Spider-Man/Venom #1 will see the very beginning of the major storylines writer Zeb Wells and legendary artist John Romita Jr. have planned for their run on Amazing Spider-Man, including Tombstone’s first steps towards becoming Spidey’s most terrifying villain.

Free Comic Book Day: Spider-Man/Venom #1 will also give fans a chance to check out the thought-provoking work Al Ewing, Ram V, and Bryan Hitch are doing on Venom! The groundbreaking changes this mastermind trio has in store for the symbiote mythos starts here!

(13) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites listeners to dig into duck with Usman T. Malik in Episode 163 of his Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Usman T. Malik

Usman T. Malik won the British Fantasy Award for his novella The Pauper Prince and the Eucalyptus Jinn, which was also nominated for both the World Fantasy and Nebula Awards. His story “The Vaporization Enthalpy of a Peculiar Pakistani Family” won the Bram Stoker Award for Short Fiction. His stories have been published in such magazines as Strange HorizonsBlack StaticNightmare, and Tor.com, as well as anthologies such as Black Feathers: Dark Avian TalesThe Mammoth Book of Cthulhu: New Lovecraftian FictionFinal Cuts: New Tales of Hollywood Horror and Other Spectacles, and others. His collection Midnight Doorways: Fables from Pakistan, was published in 2021.

We discussed why the first pandemic year was his most prolific period ever as a writer, how the Clarion Workshop helped him decide what kind of writer he wanted to be, our shared concerns over revising our early stories, the way his medical training gives him an intriguing advantage as a writer, how every love story is a ghost story and every ghost story is a love story, what it was like running Pakistan’s first science fiction writing workshop, why he prefers Stephen King to Dean Koontz (and what that taught hm about his own writing), the cautionary tale told to him by Samuel R. Delany, how writers teach readers the way they should be read, and much more.

(14) FOR THOSE OF YOU JUST TUNING IN. Raquel S. Benedict has posted a transcript of the Rite Gud podcast episode “A Guide to Squeecore”.

JR: I was going to say, we can go back and talk about what is “squee”. If we’re going to call it squeecore, we have to say, what is the definition of “squee”, that horrible, horrible word? And I have a little –

RSB [crosstalk]: Right. Yeah. So what is the definition of squee?

JR [crosstalk]: As I defined it – yeah. “Squee” is a culture term for a sound or expression of excitement or enthusiasm. It’s the opposite of “feh” or “meh”, and very close kin to “amazeballs” and “epic sauce”. It represents a specific feeling, a type of frisson that readers value; the tingle of relatability as a beloved character does something cool, or says something “epic” and snarky.

RSB: [laughs]

JR: The essence of squee is wish fulfillment. Squeecore lives for the “hell yeah” moment; the “you go, girl” moment; the gushy feeling of victory by proxy. It’s aspirational; it’s escapism; it’s a dominant, and I would even say gentrified, form of SFF.

(In case you’re asking “How come Mike doesn’t say who JR is?” the answer is that’s the only identification given at the link.)

(15) INFLATION INDEX. Nate Sanders Auctions has set a minimum bid of $9,500 for this “First Edition, First Printing of Frank Herbert’s ‘Dune’ in Original Dust Jacket” – which is remarkable for a copy that was originally circulated by the Fitchburg Public Library of Massachusetts.

(16) THE ENEMY OF MY ENEMY. MSN.com reports “Doctors Used Bacteria-Killing Viruses to Take Down an Incurable Superbug”.

The enemy of our bacterial enemy can indeed be our friend. In a new case report, doctors say they were able to treat their patient’s long-festering, drug-resistant infection with the help of specially grown bacteriophages—viruses that infect bacteria. Large-scale clinical trials will likely be needed for these treatments to become widely used, though….

But by the 1940s, with the advent of the modern antibiotic era, phages had fallen out of favor for several reasons. The first antibiotics that saw wide use were broad-spectrum, able to quickly treat many different types of infections, and relatively easy to scale up in mass production. Phages, on the other hand, were harder to purify and store, and their benefits were often inconsistent.

Scientists and doctors in some parts of the world where antibiotics were less available, such as Eastern Europe and India, did continue to research and use phage therapy, though. And eventually, it became clear that antibiotics weren’t quite as miraculous as we’d hoped. Bacteria have evolved resistance to these drugs over time, to the point where we’re now seeing infections that can’t be treated at all. So, understandably, scientists have expressed renewed interest in phages as a weapon against bacteria in recent decades.

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Dinosaurs invade the UN in this commercial from the UN Development Program. The message: Extinction is a bad thing!

…You’re headed for a climate disaster, and yet every year governments spend hundreds of billions of public funds on fossil fuel subsidies. Imagine if we had spent hundreds of billions per year subsidizing giant meteors….

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Chris Barkley, Rob Thornton, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jon Meltzer.]