Pixel Scroll 1/22/23 Look At My Fingers: Four Pixels, Four Scrolls. Zero Pixels, Zero Scrolls!

(1) SPLATTERPUNK AWARDS DEADLINE RESET. Brian Keene and Wrath James White announced on Facebook that they have extended until January 29 the last date that readers can recommend eligible works at [email protected].

…Given that readers sent in recommendations ALL YEAR LONG, we assumed the community was aware.

Obviously, we were wrong about that. And we apologize for that. We would like to assure authors who expressed disappointment about this that there were indeed recommendations already made. And that is a very good thing. Six years into this process, that’s exactly what the community needs to see — that readers are recommending your work without you reminding them or drawing it to their attention.

To further address the communities concerns, Wrath and I have decided to pause the tallying process and reopen the nominations for another 7 days. We will accept recommendations for WORKS PUBLISHED IN 2022 until midnight on Sunday, January 29th. That way, everyone who has expressed concerns has the opportunity to inform their readers and fans.

So, again… the process has been extended to next Sunday. Email your recommendations to [email protected] After next Sunday, we will then again be accepting recs for works published in 2023.

Our apologies for any stress or duress this may have caused, and our appreciation to those who expressed their concerns in good faith….

(2) MERRIL CENTENARY. [Item by Olav Rokne.] Toronto Public Library (which IIRC is actually the largest library system in North America?) posted a celebration of Judith Merril yesterday to mark her centennial. “100 Years of Judith Merril, Science Fiction Writer and Editor” at The Buzz…About Books.

… At the same time that Merril was publishing novels, she was getting more involved in editorial and review work. This book collects and reflects upon Merril’s editorial and non-fiction work. In particular, “her twelve Year’s Best anthologies, her thirty-eight ‘Books’ columns from F&SF, and three particularly important essays.” These works were originally published between 1956 and 1969. This period marks Merril’s shift from authorship to her editorial career.

To support her daughter Ann, who created artwork and posters in support of Eugene McCarthy, Judith Merril attended the Democratic National Convention in Chicago in 1968. Tensions were high due to the Vietnam War. After Merril witnessed the police response to the anti-Vietnam War protestors, she decided that she and her family needed to leave the United States. At the convention, a copy of the Toronto Anti-Draft Manual caught Merril’s attention. She had a friend in Toronto, a mathematics professor, and with their aid moved to Canada. She legally changed her name to Judith Merril when she become a Canadian citizen….

(3) SF ON SNL. Last night’s Saturday Night Live had two genre related segments:

(4) LOTS TO MEND. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Jeremy Renner, the MCU‘s Hawkeye, is back home after his snowplow accident. The latest pic and information released by the actor shows him undergoing PT at home and letting it be known that over 30 bones were broken in the incident. “Jeremy Renner Says His ’30 Plus Broken Bones’ Will ‘Mend’ After Accident” reports People.

…The actor, 52, shared a post on Instagram Saturday morning of himself in a bed receiving what appeared to be physical therapy.

In the caption of his post, Renner wrote, “Morning workouts, resolutions all changed this particular new years …. Spawned from tragedy for my entire family, and quickly focused into uniting actionable love.”

The Mayor of Kingstown star then said that he wanted “to thank EVERYONE for their messages and thoughtfulness for my family and I …. Much love and appreciation to you all.”

“These 30 plus broken bones will mend , grow stronger, just like the love and bond with family and friends deepens,” Renner concluded. “Love and blessings to you all…”

(5) NOVELIST SEEN FROM THE INSIDE. [Item by Steven French.] Co-screen writer of Matrix Resurrections revealed to be a massive Liverpool fan! “Aleksandar Hemon: ‘A book isn’t a car – not everything has to work’” in The Guardian.

…Tell us about your work as a screenwriter.
The sovereignty of being in my head as a novelist is enjoyable but gets burdensome. Lana and David are good friends with brilliant minds different from mine and there’s relief in that: whenever I watch The Matrix Resurrections, at no point do I think: “That’s mine, I did this,” because I never did it alone. So what I get out of screenwriting – apart from the money, which is nice – is doing something with others. The traditional bourgeois concept of literature is that it’s a way to be alone; there’s a Jonathan Franzen book of essays called How to Be Alone. But I don’t want to be alone. I want to be with people….

(6) FREE READ. Sunday Morning Transport encourages subscriptions with a sample by Benjamin C. Kinney: “The Work-Clock”.

(7) SFF PUPPETRY. “‘The Immortal Jellyfish Girl’ Review: A 26th-Century Love Story” in the New York Times.  

The first time Bug and Aurelia kiss is as romantic as can be, even if Bug has to get past his initial reaction. “That really hurts,” he says. “That stings so much!” Which is what you get when smooching a part-jellyfish humanoid.

Aurelia is the title character of “The Immortal Jellyfish Girl,” though if 23andMe still exists in her postapocalyptic world, it might locate traces of kangaroo, frog, naked mole rat and other beasties in her makeup. Above all, “she is also 100 percent puppet,” as the narrator, a mischievous masked fox in shorts and red tails, informs us.

Kirjan Waage and Gwendolyn Warnock’s play, devised with help from the ensemble and presented by Wakka Wakka Productions and the Norwegian company Nordland Visual Theater at 59E59 Theaters, is indeed a puppet show, and an ambitious one at that….

(8) MEMORY LANE.

2014 [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

One of my absolutely favorite works is Seanan McGuire’s Ghost Roads series. It’s a perfect example of how excellent McGuire is as a writer with splendid, believable characters, especially Rose Marshall, the hitchhiking ghost who was a sixteen-year old prom date who never actually made it to her prom but was killed on her way there and now hitchhikes forever on America’s highways, both the real ones and the ghosts ones, a absolutely fascinating setting and a compelling story that McGuire has developed oh so very well across three novels.

(There is also three shorter pieces set here, “Good Girls go to Heaven”, “Train Yard Blues” and “The Ghosts of Bourbon Street”.) 

One of those settings is the Last Dance Diner that exists on the Ghost Roads. Of it Rose says that, “When you die on the road, if you’re lucky, a phantom rider or a hitchhiking ghost will be there, waiting, to offer you directions to the Last Dance Diner. Best malts this side of the 1950s, pie to die for, and best of all, a chance to rest, for just a little while, before moving on . . . and everyone moves on, in the end.”

So the quote I’ve chosen is from the first novel of the series, Sparrow Hill Road, and concerns that Diner:  

They have good beer here, these routewitches do, and their grill is properly aged, old grease caught in the corners, the drippings of a hundred thousand steaks and bacon breakfasts and cheeseburgers scraped from a can and used to slick it down before anything starts cooking. The plate they bring me groans under a triple-decker cheeseburger and a pile of golden fries that smell like summer nights and stolen kisses—and they smell, even before the platter hits the table.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 22, 1858 Charles H. M. Kerr. He’s best remembered for illustrating the pulp novels of H. Rider Haggard. Some of his other genre-specific work includes the Andrew Lang-edited The True Story Book, Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Wrong Boxand Arthur Conan Doyle‘s  “The Sign of the Four”. You can see the one of the H. Rider Haggard novels he did here. (Died 1907.)
  • Born January 22, 1906 Robert E. Howard. He’s best remembered for his characters Conan the Barbarian and Solomon Kane, less so for Kull, and is widely regarded as the father of the sword and sorcery subgenre. His Cthulhu mythos stories are quite good. I believe all of these were publish in Weird Tales.  If you’re interested in reading him on your slate, you’re in luck as all the usual suspects are deep stockers of him at very reasonable prices. (Died 1936.)
  • Born January 22, 1925 Katherine MacLean. She received a Nebula Award for “The Missing Man” novella originally published in Analog in 1971. She was a Professional Guest of Honor at the first WisCon. Short fiction was her forte and her two collections, The Diploids and Other Flights of Fancy and The Trouble with You Earth People, are brilliant. I can’t speak to her three novels, all written in the Seventies and now out of print, only Missing Man is available from the usual suspects, and I’ve not read it. (Died 2019.)
  • Born January 22, 1934 Bill Bixby. Principal casting in several genre series, first in My Favorite Martian as Tim O’Hara, a young newspaper reporter for the LA Sun who discovers that alien, and then as Dr. David Banner in The Incredible Hulk seriesand in both The Incredible Hulk Returns and The Death of the Incredible Hulk films.  He shows up in a number of other genre series including Fantasy IslandTales of the UnexpectedNight GalleryThe Ghost & Mrs. Muir and The Twilight Zone (original version). He also had the lead as Anthony Blake / Anthony Dorian in The Magician series but as he was a stage illusionist, I couldn’t count it as genre… (Died 1993.)
  • Born January 22, 1940 John Hurt. I rarely grieve over the death of one individual, but damn it I really liked him. It’s rare that someone comes along like Hurt who is both talented and is genuinely good person that’s easy to like. If we count his role as Tom Rawlings in The Ghoul, Hurt had an almost fifty-year span in genre films and series. He next did voice work in The Lord of the Rings (1978) as the voice of Aragorn, and later voiced General Woundwort in seven episodes of the Watership Down TV series.. He appeared as Kane, the first victim, in Alien (and had a cameo in Spaceballs parodying that performance.) Though not genre, I must comment his role as Joseph Merrick in The Elephant Man — simply remarkable. He had the lead as Winston Smith in 1984. He narrates Roger Corman’s Frankenstein Unbound and will later be one of two of the narrators of Jim Henson’s The Storyteller. That role is simply magnificent. Ok, I’m just at 1994. He’s about to be S.R. Hadden in Contact. Did you remember he played Garrick Ollivander in Harry Potter films? You certainly remember him as Trevor Bruttenholm in the Hellboy films, all four of them in total. He’s in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull asDr. Harold Oxley, one of the few decent things about that film. Series wise, he’s been around. I’ve got him in Spectre, a Roddenberry occult detective pilot that I’ve not seen. On the Merlin live action series, he provides the voice of the Great Dragon. It’s an amazing role for him. And fitting that he’s a dragon, isn’t it? And of course, he played The War Doctor. It, despite the brevity of the screen time, was a role that he seemed destined to play. Oh, for an entire series of stories about his Doctor! Big Finish, the audiobook company, had the singular honor of having him flesh out his character in a series of stories that he did with them just before his death. I’ve heard some, they’re quite remarkable.  If I’ve missed anything about him that you feel I should’ve touched upon, do tell me. (Died 2017.)
  • Born January 22, 1965 Diane Lane, 58. I’ve got her as Ellen Aim in Streets of Fire which I count as genre. She’s Chief Judge Barbara Hershey in Judge Dredd, a film I’ll freely admit that I actually like because it catches the pop culture feel of the 2000 A.D. comics in a way the second film doesn’t. Next up for her is playing Mary Rice in Jumper. She’s been playing Martha Kent in the DC Universe films as of late.
  • Born January 22, 1969 Olivia d’Abo, 54. She makes the Birthday Honors list for being Amanda Rogers, a female Q, in the “True Q” episode on Next Generation. Setting that gig aside, she’s got a long and extensive SFF series history. Conan the DestroyerBeyond the StarsAsterix Conquers AmericaTarzan & Jane and Justice League Doom are some of her film work, while her series work includes Fantasy IslandBatman BeyondTwilight Zone, Eureka and Star Wars: The Clone Wars.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • The Argyle Sweater was recommended by Rich Lynch because he thinks John Hertz will love it. Maybe you will, too?
  • Marmaduke keeps watching the skies – and it pays off!

(11) I’M SORRY, I’LL READ THAT AGAIN. Brian Keene says the says in his weekly Substack he’s been sorting through his and J.F. Gonzalez’s archives for things that will go to the University of Pittsburgh. In the middle of a paragraph this line caught my eye:

…There are some gems among the correspondence — letters between Richard Laymon and myself, letters between Robert Bloch and Jesus….

Well, Jesus was Gonzalez’s first name. But I knew Robert Bloch and for a moment I flashed on what seemed an unexpected discovery from his fertile imagination.

(12) DISNEY’S STAR WARS PLANS IN TROUBLE? [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Some aspects of Disney’s acquisition of Star Wars IP are working out great for them; others not so much. Because of underwhelming box office for several films, the concept of theatrical release for a movie a year has faltered. Partially counterbalancing that, the small screen Star Wars series on Disney+ have proved a buffer. 

Star Wars theme park attractions seem to be doing great business, but it now develops that the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser theme hotel—where 2-night immersive experiences start at mid-four-figures—will be sitting empty part of the time. Disney has canceled several “voyages“ in July, August, and September. People who had already booked for those dates have been offered a 50% discount if they will accept a different date.

TheStreet.com has the full story. “Disney’s Huge Star Wars Bet May Be in Big Trouble”.

… “A number of our readers have also noticed Facebook posts which advertise the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser and include lesser known characters. There appear to be quite a few “absolutely loved this” posts from people claiming they were guests on the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser which if you look at their profiles have no info at all, no town, school, or jobs. This leads us to question their authenticity,” Theme Park Tourist alleged.

Overall, the cancellations are more troubling than potential fake reviews. It’s possible that Disney built an attraction with tremendous appeal, but a limited audience due to price and little reason for people to visit more than once. You can take your family on a Disney Cruise for 7 nights for less than what Galactic Starcruiser costs and that’s a lot easier to justify than a two-day trip.

(13) CLEANING UP AROUND THE HOUSE. Get your Digital Dishcloth: “May Godzilla Destroy This Home Last”.

PROTECTION FROM A GIANT LIZARD – This house blessing towel will definitely keep Godzilla from destroying your or your friend’s house! And not only that, it is also the perfect home decor for all lo

(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] The genie makes it genre. The cat makes it perfect (???) for File 770. “Ryan George Compilation Part 1”.

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Steven French, Rich Lynch, Olav Rokne, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jamoche.]

Pixel Scroll 1/15/23 Suddenly, There Was A Knock On The Pixel

(1) 2023 HORROR UNIVERSITY ONLINE WINTER SESSION. The Horror Writers Association will run its Winter 2023 Horror University Online session from February 6 to April 3. They will present eight workshops for horror writers interested in refining their writing, learning new skills and techniques, or perfecting their manuscript presentation. Full descriptions and registration information is available in the Horror University School on Teachable.  
 
The Winter 2023 Session includes:

February 6: The Master Plotting Crash Course with John Skipp.
February 13: Decoding Screenwriting with L. Marie Wood.
February 27: Writing “Spooky” Stories for Younger Readers (Middle Grade and Young Adult) with Jennifer Brody.
March 6: Behind the Badge: Creating Realistic Law Enforcement Characters with Alicia Hilton.
March 13: What Makes a Good Scary Story with Patricia Marcantonio.
March 20: Graphic Horror: Creating Horror Comics and Graphic Novels with James Chambers.
March 27: Perfecting Your Pitch with Jonathan Maberry.
April 3: Upping Your Anthology Game with Michael Knost.

Registration is $65 for non-HWA-members, $55 for HWA members, and four- and eight-course bundles are available. Discount codes, available to HWA members only, can be found in the next Internet Mailer, which will be sent to all members shortly.

(2) HWA BLACK HERITAGE INTERVIEW ROUNDUP. There’s a “Complete List of 2022 Black Heritage Series Interviewees” at the Horror Writers Association blog. Links to 18 interviews.

As we prepare to roll out the 2023 Black Heritage Month Interview, let’s stop and take a look back at our first year of interviews from 2022

(3) PROVE YOU’RE NOT A ROBOT. David D. Levine has raised a new point of netiquette in this Facebook post.

Context: in a conversation about Y2K bugs, two different friends of mine (definitely real people) chose to post comments which were the output of chatbots. In one case the poster said “I posed your question to a chatbot and it said this,” in the other the poster posted a short story related to the question which was, to my eye, clearly the output of a chatbot, and when asked the poster confirmed that it was.

I do not find chatbot output amusing any more, except in the case where it goes hilariously wrong. And I find posting chatbot output into a conversation with friends, as though it was something you’d actually put any effort into, to be offensive. (I didn’t know this until it happened.)…

More exposition at the link.

(4) THE TIDE GOES OUT. “‘Avatar’: The Way of the Restroom”  — the New York Times

…“It was honestly all the water,” said Mr. Brizard, 29, who works in finance and lives in Scottsdale, Ariz.

The sea gushes, gurgles and sprays across the screen in James Cameron’s “Avatar” sequel, which immerses viewers in the richly textured aquatic world of a clan of reef-dwelling Na’vi. These photorealistic ocean sequences make up the bulk of a lengthy epic that many are watching in theaters with vats of soda in hand, creating a perfect storm for moviegoers to need to take one or more bathroom breaks.

The water scenes are especially vivid in IMAX 3-D, according to Mr. Brizard, who moved to an aisle seat after his first trip to the restroom so he wouldn’t have to step over other audience members on subsequent visits. “All the splashing noises, it’s all a constant reminder,” he said.

Mr. Cameron, who has encouraged fans to see “Avatar” in theaters, saw this coming.

“Here’s the big social paradigm shift that has to happen: It’s OK to get up and go pee,” he said in an interview with Empire magazine. He added that he did not want anyone “whining about length” when people are perfectly willing to watch eight straight hours of television. (Television, it must be said, is easier to pause than a movie in a theater.)

In November, Mr. Cameron told The Hollywood Reporter that moviegoers should go to the bathroom “any time they want” during the movie. “They can see the scene they missed when they come see it again,” the director added….

(5) 2023 WESTERCON. Arlene Busby, chair of Westercon75, sent an update to the SMOFs email list. The con is being held June 30-July 3 at the Clarion Hotel Anaheim at 616 Convention Way, Anaheim, CA 92802. The GoH’s are Fantasy Writer Gail Carriger and Science GoH Dr Kevin Grazier. If anyone needs to reach her she can be emailed at [email protected] 

(6) FREE READ. Sunday Morning Transport appeals for subscribers by posting the free story “Our Lady of Tomorrow” by Natalie C. Parker.

(7) MEMORY LANE.

1948 [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.] Rex Stout’s recipe for his perfect omelet

I was intending to, and I will in this series of essays, go into Nero Wolfe’s rather deep fondness for food and drink. But I found something even better in And Be a Villain (British title, More Deaths Than One) the Nero Wolfe novel by Rex Stout that was first published by the Viking Press in 1948. 

It is Rex Stout’s recipe for his perfect omelet. Really it is. It’s also in The Nero Wolfe Cookbook as published by Viking Press in 1973 where the Viking editors then credit it to Wolfe a quarter of a century later. If you decide to purchase this cookbook, do not buy the 1981 paperback as it has but a sampling of the 1973 recipes. Boo, hiss! 

And now, here’s Stout’s perfect omelet recipe.

It is better to make two small omelets than a large one. Beat four eggs in a bowl, adding two Tbsps. of milk or cream if you wish; I don’t. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Heat one scant Tbsp. butter in a skillet over a hot fire. When the butter is hot but before it smokes, add the eggs all at once. Quickly, with a fork, pull the edges of the egg mass toward the center as they thicken. The liquid part will immediately fill the vacant spaces. Repeat until there is no more liquid but the eggs are still very soft. Gently press the handle of the skillet downward and let the omelet slide toward it. When 1/3 of the omelet has slid up the edge of the pan, fold it toward the center with a spatula. Raise the handle to slide the omelet in the opposite direction, and when 1/3 is up the far edge hold a dish (heated) under it. As the rim of the omelet touches the dish, raise the handle until the skillet is upside down. The result should be an oval-shaped light-brown omelet.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 15, 1879 Ernest  Thesiger. He’s here because of his performance as Doctor Septimus Pretorius in James Whale’s Bride of Frankenstein. He had a major role in Hitchcock’s not completed and now lost Number 13 (or Mrs. Peabody) which is even genre adjacent. He was also in The Ghoul which was an early Boris Karloff film. And he continued to show up in SFF films such as The Ghosts of Berkeley Square where he was Dr. Cruickshank of Psychical Research Society. (Died 1961.)
  • Born January 15, 1913 Lloyd Bridges. Though I’m reasonably sure Secret Agent X-9, a 1945 serial, isn’t genre, I’m listing it anyways because I’m impressed because it was based on a comic strip by Dashiell Hammett, Leslie Charteris and others. He’s the Pilot Col. Floyd Graham in Rocketship X-M, Dr. Doug Standish In Around the World Under the Sea, Aramis in The Fifth Musketeer, Clifford Sterling in Honey, I Blew Up the Kid and Grandfather in Peter and the Wolf. His television appearances are too many to list here. (Died 1998.)
  • Born January 15, 1924 Dennis Lynds. He only wrote two sf novels, probably pulp ones at that, Lukan War and The Planets of Death, but I’m intrigued that he also penned eight titles of The Shadow from 1964 to 1967 under the Shadow’s author by-line of Maxwell Grant. He also, and I count this as genre, under the name of Robert Hart Davis penned a number of Man from U.N.C.L.E. novellas that all ran in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Magazine. And over four decades he published some eighty novels and two hundred short stories, in both mystery and literary themes. (Died 2005.)
  • Born January 15, 1928 Joanne Linville. Best remembered I’d say for being the unnamed Romulnan Commander Spock gets involved with on “The Enterprise Incident”. (Vulcan’s Heart by Josepha Sherman and Susan Shwartz, calls her Liviana Charvanek.)  She also starred in the Twilight Zone‘s “The Passersby” episode, and she starred in “I Kiss Your Shadow” which was the final episode of the Bus Stop series. The episode was based on the short story by Robert Bloch who wrote the script for it. This story is in The Early Fears Collection. (Died 2021.)
  • Born January 15, 1935 Robert Silverberg, 88.  I know the first thing I read by him was The Stochastic Man a very long time ago. After that I’ve read all of the Majipoor series which is quite enjoyable, and I know I’ve read a lot of his short fiction down the years. So what should I have read by him that I haven’t? 
  • Born January 15, 1944 Christopher Stasheff. A unique blending I’d say of fantasy and SF with a large if sometimes excessive dollop of humor. His best-known novels are his Warlock in Spite of Himself series which I’ve read some of years ago. Who here has read has Starship Troupers series? It sounds potentially interesting. (Died 2018.)
  • Born January 15, 1945 Ron Bounds, 78. One of the founders of the Baltimore Science Fiction Society in the Sixties. He co-chaired Discon 2, was a member of both the Baltimore in ’67 and Washington in ’77 bid committees.  He chaired Loscon 2.  He published the Quinine, a one-shot APA. He was President of the Great Wall of China SF, Marching & Chop Suey Society which is both a cool name and a great undertaking as well.
  • Born January 15, 1965 James Nesbitt, 58. Best genre role was as Tom Jackman and Hyde in Jekyll which was written by Steven Moffat. He’s also appeared in Fairy TalesThe Young Indiana Jones ChroniclesStan Lee’s Lucky Man and Outcast. Yes, I know he played Bofur in the Hobbit films. I still consider Jekyll his better by far genre role. 

(9) LOOTING THE UKRAINE. “As Russians Steal Ukraine’s Art, They Attack Its Identity, Too” explains the New York Times.

…As Russia has ravaged Ukraine with deadly missile strikes and brutal atrocities on civilians, it has also looted the nation’s cultural institutions of some of the most important and intensely protected contributions of Ukraine and its forebears going back thousands of years.

International art experts say the plundering may be the single biggest collective art heist since the Nazis pillaged Europe in World War II.

… In Kherson, in Ukraine’s south, Ukrainian prosecutors and museum administrators say the Russians stole more than 15,000 pieces of fine art and one-of-a-kind artifacts. They dragged bronze statues from parks, lifted books from a riverside scientific library, boxed up the crumbling, 200-year-old bones of Grigory Potemkin, Catherine the Great’s lover, and even stole a raccoon from the zoo, leaving behind a trail of vacant cages, empty pedestals and smashed glass.

Ukrainian officials say that Russian forces have robbed or damaged more than 30 museums — including several in Kherson, which was retaken in November, and others in Mariupol and Melitopol, which remain under Russian occupation. With Ukrainian investigators still cataloging the losses of missing oil paintings, ancient steles, bronze pots, coins, necklaces and busts, the number of reported stolen items is likely to grow….

(10) BOOKSTORES SPOTLIGHTED. Hadassah Magazine’s list of “America’s Distinctive Jewish-Owned Bookstores” includes The Ripped Bodice, a romance specialty bookstore in Los Angeles.

“Books belong in a Jewish home,” affirms Leah Koch, who with her sister, Bea, owns the Los Angeles romance-focused bookstore The Ripped Bodice. Indeed, a section of the bright and enticing store looks like a living room, complete with shabby chic sofas and love seat.

For the Koches, bookselling fulfills a larger mission to promote diversity. While the six- year-old store’s white shelves are stacked with every type of romance book possible, from Regency (Julia Quinn’s “Bridgerton” series is a favorite) to erotica, the sisters deliberately showcase Jewish, LGBTQ and non-white storylines and authors, all of which are underrepresented in the romance genre.

Toward December, rather than putting up tinsel, the owners mounted a riotous blue-and-white Hanukkah display in the shop windows. Angelenos cruising by the pink Culver City storefront couldn’t miss the oversized dreidels, menorahs and posters of Jewish-themed books like Jean Meltzer’s The Matzah Ball.

(11) CURRENT EVENTS. Today Norman Spinrad reminded readers of his email list where to find a video of his performance at the Electric Circus in Paris. “Norman Spinrad chante sur la piste du Cirque Electrique”.

(12) WET WORK. These California storms have got water on everyone’s brain – which seems to be the source of these ideas from regular contributor Michael Toman.

QUEST TALES OF ATMOSPHERIC RIVERWORLDedited and written by Philip Jose Farmer & “Divers Hands?”

Or maybe another crossover with one of my other favorite PJF series, featuring Paul Janus Finnegan, aka “Kickaha?”

RED ORC’S OMEGA COAST MAKEOVER UNIVERSE?

With a J.M.W. Turner inspired cover by John Schoenherr?

First line?

“Didn’t it rain, Lords, Lords, didn’t it rain?”

Yeah, this Long-Time Farmerphile would buy that book in a Dayworld Nano-Second!

(13) VIDEO OF THE DAY. The Mysterious Galaxy bookstore’s YouTube channel includes videos of many virtual events, including the recently posted recording of “Author Seanan McGuire, in discussion with Nghi Vo”.

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, Cat Rambo, Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jon Meltzer.]

Barkley — So Glad You (Didn’t) Ask #72

WORLDCON 80 – A PICTORIAL ESSAY 

By Chris M. Barkley and Juli Marr.

AUGUST 30, 2022 – TRAVEL DAY

My partner Juli and I set out on a beautiful morning for Chicago. One of our favorite sights is the immense Meadow Lake Wind Farm (which generates 801.25 megawatts of electricity) consisting of 301 turbines, just northwest of  Lafayette, Indiana. I have always been in awe of the size and scope of this modern marvel of engineering.

We arrived at dusk and were treated to the enchanting vista of Chicago at night by the river…

SEPTEMBER 1ST

Blues Brothers Cap

Since I was going to be dwelling in the hometown of the Blues Brothers, I thought it would be appropriate to be attired properly.

Galaxy ‘s Edge Editor Lezli Robyn and myself by Juli Marr

One of the first people Juli and I met at Chicon 8 was Galaxy’s Edge Editor and Arc Manor Assistant Publisher Robyn Lezli, who was a large display of books and magazines with her benevolent (and generous) boss, Shahid Mahmud.

Journey Planet

On my way to the Press Office, Christopher Garcia threw a copy of Journey Planet (paperboy style) as we passed each other. Here is a photo of it in mid-flight…

One of the first things I unpacked for the Press Office was this item. When the staff assembled that first morning, I told them in NO UNCERTAIN TERMS that if they stepped out of line, I would not hesitate to blow the Illuminated Death Star Beach Ball up! Needless to say, it remained deflated during the duration of the convention.

SEPTEMBER 2

After several delays (and escapades) involving the United States Department of State and airline hijinks, Nigeria’s rising literary star (and double Hugo Finalist), Oghenechowe Donald Ekpeki finally arrived at Chicon 8. I greeted him at the Galaxy’s Edge table in the Dealer’s Room with two facemasks and an envelope with some valuable personal papers. Needless to say, everyone was overjoyed to see him…

Myself, Laura and Navia Moorman, photo by Juli Marr

Also on hand were my daughter, Laura, her husband Charlie (not pictured, unfortunately) and my granddaughter, Navia. They were here to witness my (possible) Hugo Award acceptance speech on Sunday. I may have felt the sting of disappointment by not winning but I was so incredibly happy they were all there.

 Chicago By Day…

Dan Berger, Juli Marr and Sushee Blat pondering

So here are my Press Office mates, Dan Berger, Juli Marr and Sooshe Blat Harkins, pondering where we should go for dinner along the Chicago Riverwalk. Rest assured, we did eat that evening…

Chicago After Dark…

SEPTEMBER 3RD

Day Three of Chicon 3, another beautiful morning.

The Chicon 8 Hugo Award

 On my way to the Press office, I made some time Saturday morning to stop by the Exhibit Hall and check out this year’s Hugo Award trophy. This magnificent award was handcrafted by the renowned Chicago artist and business entrepreneur Brian Keith Ellison of BKE Designs.

Chicon 8 Panelists

Ah, FINALLY, a photo from a Chicon 8 panel. Here are the panelists of “Movie Year in Review: A Curated Look at Genre Films (2021–2022)” moderated by yours truly.  From left to right are: Matthew S. Rotundo, Daryll Mansel, Joshua Bilmes and Deirdre Crimmins. We had fun. You should have been there.

Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki and Seanan Maguire

I was checking up on how Mr. Ekpeki was getting along in the Dealer’s Room when up ZOOMED fellow Hugo Award Finalist Seanan Maguire on her scooter. They both knew of a photo opportunity when they saw it…  

Regency John Hertz

It’s Saturday Night so you know it’s time for another magnificent appearance by fandom’s favorite, and most regal, Masquerade Judge, John Hertz!  

Masquerade Ensemble

And here is a wide shot of all the Chicon 8 Masquerade contestants. I apologize for it being out of focus; I BLAME the three apparitions lighting up in the middle of the photo. I don’t recall who they are but let’s face it, they lit up the joint that evening.

SEPTEMBER 4TH

Breakfast of Champions

It’s THE BIG DAY! And that calls for a BIG BREAKFAST, courtesy of the Chicon 8 Staff Lounge. I hadn’t had a bowl of Rice Chex in AGES. (As a kid, I used to inhale whole boxes in a single sitting. Ah, those were the days…). Anyway, kudos to everyone who helped kept us fed during the convention.   

Juli and I are very sneaky. We knew in advance that Sunday was Lezli Robyn’s birthday so we planned something a little special for her. The day before we left, we packed and wrapped her gift specially for her. We have both known for years that Lezli is a bit, uh, accident prone. After the fifth or sixth incident we started threatening to just roll her in bubble wrap, for her own safety and protection. Well at Chicon 8, we decided on this preemptive strike before disaster struck again. As you can see, a nice birthday card was placed on top of the package. And you can see Lezli’s reaction as she realized that bubble wrap was all that was left in the box. All for her. We were later informed by sources that she used the bubble wrap as a pillow (in an appropriate place, mind you) when she needed to nap. You’re welcome, Lezli, anytime. 

Catherynne Valente

After delivering Ms. Robyn’s gift, I stole a few minutes from my Press Office duties to have a novel by Catherynne M. Valente signed. We met before when she had a signing at Joseph Beth Booksellers in Cincinnati where I worked for many years. She remembered me and enthusiastically remarked that she had a great time and would love to return for a visit someday. I told her I would pass the word along.  

As the day wore on, the more nervous I became. Since there wasn’t much going on that afternoon, I turned my attention to writing a Hugo Award acceptance speech and a concession speech (which was published on File 770 that very evening). Everyone wished me luck but deep down, I knew that I was long shot to actually win. (And, as it turned out, I was right, finishing second in the nomination count and fifth overall in the vote standings.)

O. Donald Ekpeki and myself, photo by Juli Marr

At the Chicon 8 Hugo Award Reception, Mr. Ekpeki and I were recessed to the nines!

Hugo Award Fan Writer Finalists, photo by Juli Marr

Your 2022 Hugo Award Finalists in the Fan Writing Category; from left to right, Jason Sanford, myself, Paul Weimer and Bitter Karella. 

The Crowd gathers for the start of the Hugo Awards Ceremony.

My Date, My Love and My Partner, the lovely and vivacious Juli Marr.

My Fellow 2022 Hugo Award Finalist Steven H Silver and his partner, Elaine Silver. 

Chuck Serface

My Fellow 2022 Hugo Award Finalist Chuck Serface.

Our 2022 Hugo Award Ceremony Hosts, Annalee Newitz and Charlie Jane Anders.

Olav Rokne and Myself at the After Party, photo by Juli Marr

Two Hugo Losers commiserating, Olav Rokne and myself (being subtly photobombed by Vincent Docherty) at the Chengdu Hugo Reception.

Laura Moorman and myself, photo by Juli Marr

My daughter Laura and I at the Glasgow Bid Party.

My daughter Laura is seen here holding the 2022 Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation – Long Form for Dune (Part 1). The award was offered for photos by Chicon 8 Advisor Dave McCarty, whom we thank profusely for the opportunity.

SEPTEMBER 5TH AND 6TH

John Hertz and Myself, photo by Juli Marr

And it’s all over but the shouting. Here John Hertz and I are watching the proceedings, counting down until the dead dog parties start… 

Myself, Jonathan P. Brazee and Maurizio Manzieri, photo by Juli Marr

After Closing Ceremonies, Juli and I met author Col.Jonathan P. Brazee and Hugo Award Finalist (Best Professional Artist) Maurizio Manzieri outside the hotel on their way to an early dinner.   

Berger, Berger and Blat-Harkins

As we wind down a day after Chicon 8 has officially ended, we shared a final meal with Dan Berger, Terry Berger and Sooshe Blat Harkins, who were a tremendous help in the Chicon 8 Press Office. 

Your humble correspondents

A final portrait from Chicago of your humble correspondents, myself and Juli Marr. Until next time, Goodbye and Good Luck… 

Pixel Scroll 11/6/22 Do Young Pixels Snack On Rainbow Colored Scrolls?

(1) CHIP IN. In North Hollywood, CA the “Iliad Bookshop needs help recovering from arson” and a GoFundMe is gathering donations.

On the evening of Thursday, November 3rd, around 11:30 pm, someone piled the Iliad Bookshop’s free books up against the store’s main doors and set fire to the stack. They taped flyers on the store’s walls; the flyers are incoherent but indicate this was a deliberate act of arson.

We were very lucky: neighbors saw the flames and flagged down a passing firetruck; had the firefighters arrived mere moments later, the entire store would probably have gone up. As it is, we suffered heavy damage to the main entry. The doors (which are metal) are still functional, but will need to be either replaced or fixed. We lost lighting fixtures, signage, and wood framing; we also suffered damage to the mural on the right side of the doors. Smoke filled the interior of the store, but we were able to rescue our two cats Zeus and Apollo and we’re hopeful that the damage to the books and fixtures is minimal.

We have high insurance deductibles so we need to cover the cost of replacing the exterior lights, sign, and trim, and touching up the mural…

Lisa Morton, a bookseller at Iliad, wrote this update yesterday:

(2) FREE READ. Sunday Morning Transport’s Julian Yap and Fran Wilde have posted a new fantasy story from Elsa Sjunnesson, “The Found Recollections of Revalor’s Last Oracle”.

The Queen of Revalor appreciates how I always have the right answer, sometimes before she even knows the question….

(3) RINGWEIRD. In a New York Times “By the Book” interview we learn that “Kevin Wilson Likes Books That Mix Tenderness With Weirdness”.

Are there any classic novels that you only recently read for the first time?

Griff and I read Larry Niven’s “Ringworld” and it was so utterly confounding that it was a kind of otherworldly experience. Griff would ask me to clarify all these things about physics and hyperspace, and I would say, “Let’s just read on and maybe it’ll make sense,” and then we’d hit some bizarre sex scene in zero gravity and I’d say, “Good lord, let’s get back to the talking about the tensile strength of the shadow squares.”

You’re organizing a literary dinner party. Which three writers, dead or alive, do you invite?

Oh, I cannot imagine a thing more difficult for me to handle. What would we eat? How in the world would I keep the conversation going? Could I ask the dead ones about being dead and what comes next? Would they want to play a board game? Could we watch episodes of “Seinfeld” and just talk about that?

But I feel like I’d choose Carson McCullers, Shirley Jackson and Octavia Butler. I love their work and would like to ask them about it, they all seem open to weirdness and wouldn’t mind that I’d burned the food, and I just have this feeling that they’d be up for watching “Seinfeld” and playing canasta while we ordered pizzas.

(4) OKAY TO KEEP SOCKING IT TO DOBBY. According to NPR, “A memorial to Dobby can stay on a Welsh beach, but fans have to stop leaving socks”.

…The proposal to relocate the gravesite to a “suitable publicly accessible location” elicited mixed responses at the time, with some people saying it would be pointless to move the memorial and others questioning the need for having one for a fictional character at all….

(5) WORK IS LIFE. “Lynn Caponera on the Wild and Wonderful Legacy of Maurice Sendak” at Literary Hub.

The typical question when calling the Sendak house was “Is he working?”

And the typical answer was “Yes!”

Friends knew that for Maurice work was a sort of life support. And those in his circle, we who loved him, strove to create an atmosphere conducive to that work that kept him alive.

Maurice found comfort in a rigorous schedule: up at 9:00 am, green tea and English muffin spread with just the right amount of orange marmalade, freshly squeezed orange juice and two hours of reading the New York Times, sprinkled with the hilarious, ridiculous commentary that he swore, of course, he was reading in the paper. 11:00 am answer or return phone calls; 12 noon shower and dress, then an hour walk with one of his beloved dogs.

It was during his walk time that guests could visit if they liked. But it was walk and talk and a quick bite for lunch then off you go. If you weren’t too demanding of his time, you might be asked to sit in the studio while he worked.

(6) MEMORY LANE.

2014 [By Cat Eldridge.] Seanan McGuire’s Ghost Roads series

They have good beer here, these routewitches do, and their grill is properly aged, old grease caught in the corners, the drippings of a hundred thousand steaks and bacon breakfasts and cheeseburgers scraped from a can and used to slick it down before anything starts cooking. The plate they bring me groans under a triple-decker cheeseburger and a pile of golden fries that smell like summer nights and stolen kisses—and they smell, even before the platter hits the table. — Rose telling about a diner on one of the ghost roads. 

Y’all comfortable? Shall we begin?

I have on this Autumn evening come to praise what I consider the best urban folklore ghost story ever told, Seanan McGuire’s Ghost Roads series which started in 2014 and had the latest novel published last year. Indeed within the sub-genre that it is, that of the girl that is killed and is forever making her way home as a hitchhiker, it is simply the best ever written. 

GHOSTLY WHISPERS OF A STORY BEING TOLD ARE HERE, YOU ARE FOREWARNED 

She is telling her stellar ghost story in the Ghost Roads series which, like her novel Indexing, was originally a series of short stories published through The Edge of Propinquity, starting in January of 2010 and ending in December of that year. It appears they’ve been somewhat revised for this telling of her ghostly narrator’s tale but I can’t say how much as I’ve not read the original versions.

This is the story of Rose Marshall, who was the first victim of the man called Bobby Cross, although she was unfortunately not his last. Bobby killed her on Rose’s way to her senior prom by driving her off the side of Sparrow Hill Road. 

Unlike most dead, she didn’t pass on to whatever comes next but rather lives on—both in the ghost roads that exist between the living and the great unknown, and in the mortal world. In the latter, if she’s hitchhiking as a ghost, someone sees her standing there, picks her up, and gives her their jacket as she always looks cold, she becomes flesh for a while. 

As she says, ‘The best thing about having a jacket is the way it makes me live again, at least until the sun comes up the next morning—dawn to dawn, that’s the longest a borrowed life can last.’

WE ARE DONE TALKING TO THE DEAD, SO YOU CAN COME BACK

There are currently three novels here — Sparrow Hill RoadThe Girl in Green Silk Gown and Angel of the Overpass. McGuire does a very excellent job of advancing Rose’s story from novel to novel and the reader will find that McGuire had created a complex world quite unlike anything I’ve encountered before. 

As I said when I started this review, it is by far the best ghost story I’ve read and certainly the Ghost Roads series will be one series that I read again. Oh the audio version narrated by Amy London is quite excellent listening as well. 

And no, I’m not telling you any more of the story beyond what I’ve said above as that would spoil you learning what happens here for yourself! It’s an excellent story told by a remarkable author.

The series had one nomination in 2019, the Endeavour Award given to a science fiction or fantasy book written by a Pacific Northwest author or authors. It was for The Girl in the Green Silk Gown.

Oh, I should mention before I leave you that the author, who is herself a musician, notes that “Music plays a large part in the story of Rose Marshall, and Rose herself has been the topic of several songs … some more accurate than others.” All the songs, I have been told, have been recorded by McGuire.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 6, 1907 Catherine Crook de Camp. Author and editor. Most of her work was done in collaboration with her husband L. Sprague de Camp, to whom she was married for sixty years. Her solo work was largely non-fiction. Heinlein in part dedicated Friday to her. It is worth noting that she has been depicted in works by several authors, usually together with her husband. I’ll single out she appears in stellar S. M. Stirling’s In the Courts of the Crimson Kings and Paul Malmont’s The Astounding, the Amazing, and the Unknown. (Died 2000.)
  • Born November 6, 1914 Jonathan Harris. The deliciously not-to-be-trusted Doctor Zachary Smith, of course, on Lost in Space. He was somewhat typecast as a villain showing up as such as Mr. Piper on Land of the Giants, The Ambassador on Get Smart and the voice of Lucifer on the original Battlestar Galactica. He did play lighter roles such as Johann Sebastian Monroe on Bewitched in the “Samantha on the Keyboard” episode, and the voice of Professor Jones, the second Butler of Freakazoid on the series of that name. (Died 2002.)
  • Born November 6, 1948 Michael Dirda, 74. Currently book critic for the Washington Post. His connection to genre is a fascinating work entitled On Conan Doyle; or, The Whole Art of Storytelling which won the Edgar Award for Best Critical / Biographical Works in 2012 and which looks at his SF work as well. Also worth bringing to your attention is Browsings: A Year of Reading, Collecting, and Living with Books which y’all should naturally be interested in reading. 
  • Born November 6, 1955 Catherine Ann Asaro, 67. She is best known for her books about the Ruby Dynasty, called the Saga of the Skolian Empire. I don’t think I’ve read them, so if you’ve read them, please do tell me about them. She won Nebula Awards for The Quantum Rose novel and “The Spacetime Pool” novella. And the Analog readers really like her, having voted her three An-Lab awards for Best Novella, “Aurora in Four Voices”, “A Roll of The Dice” and “Walk in Silence”.  
  • Born November 6, 1965 Jeffrey Wright, 57. Felix Leiter in the James Bond films Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace which I rather liked, Beetee in The Hunger Games films which I’ve not seen, and played the real-life Sidney Bechet in The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, a series I adored.
  • Born November 6, 1965 Sandra Newman, 57. She has two genre novels, both of which did well as mainstream fiction, too: The Country of Ice Cream Star, a near future dystopian feminist novel and The Heavens which may or may not involve time travel back to Elizabethian times. She also co-authored with Howard Mittlemark, How Not to Write a Novel: 200 Classic Mistakes and How to Avoid Them–A Misstep-by-Misstep Guide.
  • Born November 6, 1972 Rebecca Romijn, 50. Played Mystique in the X-Men film franchise but my favorite role for her is as Eve Baird, The Guardian of the Library that crosses all realities in The Librarians series.  She also was a regular playing Roxie Torcoletti in Eastwick, yet another riff the John Updike novel. She is now Number One on Discovery
  • Born November 6, 1979 Jennifer Carpenter, 43. Ok, she got a nomination for her work as Emily Rose in The Exorcism of Emily Rose. It was the MTV Movie Award for Best Scared-As-Shit Performance. It later got renamed to Best Frightened Performance. She’s apparently only got two other genre credits, both voice work. One is as Black Widow in Avengers Confidential: Black Widow & Punisherwhich is a horridly-done anime film that I do not recommend; the other is as Selina Kyle aka Catwoman in Batman: Gotham by Gaslight, the animated version of the Mike Mignola Elseworld series which I strongly recommend. Possibly the Limitless series she was in is genre, possibly it isn’t…

(8) COMICS SECTION.

  • Alley Oop debates whether ancient humans are ready for alien visitors.

(9) VINTAGE KING Q&A. The Paris Review has allowed their 2006 Stephen King interview to escape the paywall. “The Art of Fiction No. 189”.

INTERVIEWER

When you accepted the National Book Award for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, you gave a speech defending popular fiction, and you listed a number of authors who you felt were underappreciated by the literary establishment. Then Shirley Hazzard, that year’s award winner in fiction, got on stage and dismissed your argument pretty flatly.

KING

What Shirley Hazzard said was, I don’t think we need a reading list from you. If I had a chance to say anything in rebuttal, I would have said, With all due respect, we do. I think that Shirley, in a way, has proven my point. The keepers of the idea of serious literature have a short list of authors who are going to be allowed inside, and too often that list is drawn from people who know people, who go to certain schools, who come up through certain channels of literature. And that’s a very bad idea—it’s constraining for the growth of literature. This is a critical time for American letters because it’s under attack from so many other media: TV, movies, the Internet, and all the different ways we have of getting nonprint input to feed the imagination. Books, that old way of transmitting stories, are under attack. So when someone like Shirley Hazzard says, I don’t need a reading list, the door slams shut on writers like George Pelecanos or Dennis Lehane. And when that happens, when those people are left out in the cold, you are losing a whole area of imagination. Those people—and I’m not talking about James Patterson, we understand that—are doing important work. 

(10) OUT FOR A BITE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Washington Post, Jada Yuan reports from the 34th Anne Rice Vampire Ball in New Orleans where Rice’s fans cosplay as their favorite characters and party all night. “Anne Rice is gone, but her New Orleans vampire ball lives on”.

Way down St. Charles Avenue, beneath ancient oaks, in a 19th-century mansion, the vampires who love Anne Rice were gathering for a masquerade ball Saturday to celebrate the woman many said had changed their lives and opened up their worlds.

So much silk taffeta! So many feathers, towering curled wigs and black goat horns! Spiked headpieces the size of a small sun! Oh so many custom-made fangs! It was no mere costume party. It was universe-creation.

(11) BOOK LOVER’S PICKS. S.A. Barnes, also writing as Stacey Kade is a High School librarian by day, science fiction horror writer by night, and weekends. She obviously loves books. Her latest novel DEAD SILENCE is available here. She’s interviewed by Moid at Media Death Cult. Her top SF/horror book pics are:

  • Dead Space – Kali Wallace
  • Dark Matter – Blake Crouch
  • The Hollow Places – T. Kingfisher
  • Ninth House – Leigh Bardugo
  • All Systems Red (Murderbot) – Martha Wells

(12) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “How Stranger Things Should Have Ended” from HISHE.

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

Pixel Scroll 10/18/22 Pixelitl Axolotl Pixelitl Axolotl Cheep Cheep Cheep! Axelot, Pixelitl More…

(1) CLARION WEST AUCTION AND GALA. The Clarion West After Dark 2022 Auction is open until October 21 at 9:00 PM Pacific Time. You must register for the event to begin bidding on auction items. Clarion West After Dark is a fundraising event and auction created to help support Clarion West’s year-round speculative program. 

Here are a couple of the many items on the block:

Clarion West board member Yang-Yang Wang (Dungeon Scrawlers) will serve as DM for a One Shot Dungeons & Dragons adventure (a single self-contained adventure) with author Seanan McGuire (Middlegame, Every Heart A Doorway, X-Men) and up to 3 of your friends.

Nisi Shawl is an award-winning author of science fiction, fantasy, and horror. They also make delectable, unique, and magical teas. Spend time with Nisi learning how they buy, dry, cut, stir, and steep the best cup of tea. Join Nisi at the home of board member Susan Gossman in Queen Ann.

Includes a signed copy of Nisi’s book Everfair.

There will also be a livestreamed Clarion West After Dark 2022 event on YouTube on October 21 at 7:00 p.m. Pacific with Special Guest Author Daniel J. Abraham. Register at the link.

Join us as we journey across the dark expanse of space for a night of celebration, imagination, and inspiration. Clarion West is all about stories, and our story is like a generation ship: students become instructors and scholarship recipients become donors, powering this journey across time and space as we go boldly into the creation of wild and amazing worlds.

(2) SFBC’S PROMO ART RARITIES. The fourth installment of Doug Ellis’ look at the art from the Science Fiction Book Club’s Things to Come bulletin is now available; this one covers 1964-1966 and includes seldom seen work by Virgil Finlay. “The Art Of Things To Come, Part 4: 1964-1966” at Black Gate.

…As I’ve noted in prior installments, the artists who contributed to these early bulletins are often unidentified. That’s usually the case during this period as well.

The notable exception to that rule is the great Virgil Finlay, who kicks off our tour with his illustration for Fifth Planet by Fred Hoyle and his son, Geoffrey Hoyle (misspelled as Goeffrey) from the Winter and March 1964 issue of the bulletin. The original of this lovely piece still exists in a private collection….

(3) PARAMOUNT PLUS HALF PRICE DEAL. [Item by Daniel Dern.] Paramount Plus, where the new Star Trek shows (and some of the older ones) are available, is having a “temporary promotion” (not clear how that differs functionally from “a sale.” (Note: “Offer ends 11/3/22.”)

In particular (as in, the one I just went for), Paramount Plus’ with-ads version has a half-off year offer ($24.99 instead of $49.99). (And other offers which I ignored, because of lack of interest or frugality. We enjoyed no-ads on a previous promotion, which, when it expired, I cancelled our subscription.)

So if you plan to watch Star Trek (new seasons and some older ones, and, I believe, movies) (and/or want to watch the final season of The Good Fight), here’s a helpful article (where I learned about this) including a link: https://www.howtogeek.com/841103/you-can-get-an-entire-year-of-paramount-for-just-25

Quick notes:

(1) As HowToGeek cautions, “The only catch is that the subscription auto-renews, and the low price is only for the first year”.

If you don’t want to lose track and accidentally get auto-renewed, at full price, in a year, consider cancellation after, say, a month. (If you were able to get the free trial period, make sure you’re a few days past that.)

Paramount says: “If you cancel your subscription, the cancellation will go into effect at the end of your current subscription period, as applicable. You will have continued access to the Paramount+ Service for the remainder of your paid subscription period.”

(2) The HowToGeek article says [you] also get an Amazon Fire TV Stick Lite. https://www.amazon.com/fire-tv-stick-lite/dp/B07YNLBS7R ($29)

However, I didn’t see this offered in the actual subscribing process or the near-immediate confirmations from Paramount. I just did a Chat with Paramount customer service; they said I should have received an email with a PIN (didn’t comment whether that related to the promised Fire Stick), and will cause a new message-with-PIN to get sent to me.)

Even if you don’t need one for everyday use, if you’re actually travelling (within the US), it might be a convenient take-along.

(4) SCHULZ CENTENNIAL. Just to remind you, the new issue of Charles M. Schulz / Peanuts stamps is now available from the USPS.

New stamps salute the centennial of cartoonist Charles M. Schulz (1922–2000) whose “Peanuts” characters are some of the best known and most beloved in all of American culture. For five decades, Schulz alone wrote and drew nearly 18,000 strips, the last one published the day after he died. Each character reflects Schulz’s rich imagination and great humanity. His resonant stories found humor in life’s painful realities including rejection, insecurity and unrequited love.

In a celebratory mode, characters from “Peanuts” adorn 10 designs on this pane of 20 stamps and form a frame around a 1987 photograph of Schulz.

Art director Greg Breeding designed the stamps from Schulz’s artwork and an existing photograph by Douglas Kirkland.

(5) DOCTOR WHICH. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Leslie S. Klinger provides background on Robert Louis Stevenson for a new edition of Dr Jekyll And Mr. Hyde.

… While RLS’s fiction never flagged in popularity, he was shunned by the critics for a long period. His work was excluded from major anthologies for much of the twentieth century. Today, however, he is highly regarded by academia as an original voice, an artist with a wide range of interests and insights, no longer to be relegated to the shelves of children’s literature or horror fiction. In 2004, the Journal of Stevenson Studies began publication, with an impressive editorial board and a mission: “The Journal of Stevenson Studies (JSS) is committed to the study and wider consideration of the work of Robert Louis Stevenson as a popular writer with an original and unique insight into the moral, psychological and cultural ambiguities of the modern world. This is the Stevenson admired by authors like Henry James, Graham Greene and Jorge Luis Borges….

(6) JEMISIN TAKES STOCK OF NYC. N. K. Jemisin was the guest on a New York Times podcast — The Ezra Klein Show: “A Legendary World-Builder on Multiverses, Revolution and the ‘Souls’ of Cities” on Apple Podcasts.

N.K. Jemisin is a fantasy and science-fiction writer who won three consecutive Hugo Awards — considered the highest honor in science-fiction writing — for her “Broken Earth” trilogy; she has since won two more Hugos, as well as other awards. But in imagining wild fictional narratives, the beloved sci-fi and fantasy writer has also cultivated a remarkable view of our all-too-real world. In her fiction, Jemisin crafts worlds that resemble ours but get disrupted by major shocks: ecological disasters, invasions by strange, tentacled creatures and more — all of which operate as thought experiments that can help us think through how human beings could and should respond to similar calamities.

Jemisin’s latest series, which includes “The City We Became” and “The World We Make,” takes place in a recognizable version of New York City — the texture of its streets, the distinct character of its five boroughs — that’s also gripped by strange, magical forces. The series, in addition to being a rollicking read, is essentially a meditation on cities: how they come into being, how their very souls get threatened by forces like systemic racism and astronomical inequality and how their energies and cultures have the power to rescue and save those souls.

I invited Jemisin on the show to help me take stock of the political and cultural ferment behind these distressing conditions — and also to remember the magical qualities of cities, systems and human nature. We discuss why multiverse fictions like “Everything Everywhere All at Once” are so popular now, how the culture and politics of New York and San Francisco have homogenized drastically in recent decades, Jemisin’s views on why a coalition of Black and Latinx voters elected a former cop as New York’s mayor, how gentrification causes change that we may not at first recognize, where to draw the line between imposing order and celebrating the disorder of cities, how Donald Trump kept stealing Jemisin’s ideas but is at the root a “badly written character,” whether we should hold people accountable for their choices or acknowledge the way the status quo shapes our decision-making, what excites Jemisin about recent discoveries about outer space, why she thinks we are all “made of exploding stars” and more.

(7) CINEMA FARAWAY. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] I review the 1967 West German Edgar Allan Poe adaptation The Snake Pit and the Pendulum at Galactic Journey as part of an overview post about recent movies. The other films covered are Quatermass and the Pit, The Day the Fish Came Out, which I have to admit I’d never heard of before, and Bonnie and Clyde, which is not even remotely SFF, but a film that reviewer Jason Sacks really likes: “[October 18, 1967] We Are The Martians: Quatermass and the Pit, Bonnie and Clyde, The Day the Fish Came Out and The Snake Pit and the Pendulum”.

… Compared to the many horrors of the real world, watching a spooky movie in the theatre feels almost cathartic. And so I decided to get away from the real world by watching the new West German horror movie Die Schlangengrube und das Pendel (The Snake Pit and the Pendulum) at my local cinema….

(8) ICONIC ARTIST. The Goodman Games website has a profile of Flash Gordon artist Alex Raymond: “A Profile of Legendary Illustrator Alex Raymond”.

Few people have influenced American comics as much as Alex Raymond. While “Jungle Jim” and “Rip Carson” [sic – Rip Kirby] may not be household names, Raymond’s most famous creation, Flash Gordon, is so ingrained into American pop culture that simply his name can be used as shorthand for a specific type of heroic, romantic science fiction. Alex Raymond’s career was short, and his death came far too soon, but his art and influence are immortal….

(9) SERIES COMPLETED. The Guardian interviews Malorie Blackman, author of dystopian YA fiction: “Malorie Blackman: ‘Thank God that’s done!’”.

…The sixth and final book in the Noughts & Crosses series, Endgame, came out last year. How do you feel now that’s over?
Mainly: Thank God I lived long enough to finish it! And: Thank God that’s done! OK, to be serious about it, it’s been a hell of a journey, which I’m really grateful for because it’s been 20-odd years. But I really do feel with the end of Endgame that really is it. And anyone who’s read it will know why. If there are more books written in that series, they won’t be by me….

(10) BE YOUR OWN SQUID. Also at the Guardian, Amelia Tait asks why immersive pop culture experiences are booming: “Dance like you’re in Bridgerton, play Squid Game: why are immersive experiences booming?”

…Welcome to the age of immersion. Dinosaurs and DC barely scratch the surface – this  summer also saw the launch of Stranger Things and Tomb Raider “experiences” in London, an I’m A Celebrity Jungle Challenge in Manchester, and an Alice in Wonderland “immersive cocktail experience” in Sheffield.

By September, fans were able to re-enact Netflix’s Squid Game at Immersive Gamebox venues in London, Essex and Manchester. In the coming weeks, London will also host an experience based on the horror franchise Saw, while Cheshire will see thousands visit Harry Potter: A Forbidden Forest Experience. And that’s without mentioning the boom in immersive art experiences, the most recent of which – Frameless – has just opened in central London….

(11) HAUNTED TRACKS. The Cromcast have launched their annual “Cromtober” event of reviewing spooky works in October. This time around, they discuss The Twilight Zone episode “A Stop at Willoughby”: “Episode 1: Get on the Ghost Train and Head to Willoughby”.

…For our first episode, we focus most of our discussion on the class Twilight Zone episode “A Stop at Willoughby” where our protagonist “Mr. Gart Williams, an ad agency exec, who in just a moment, will move into the Twilight Zone—in a desperate search for survival.”

Beyond our stop in the Twilight Zone, we also discuss why trains are kind of scary and the different things they symbols in folklore and ghost stories. Last but not least, let’s learn about President Abraham Lincoln’s Ghost TrainHop aboard, won’t you? …

(12) JIM MCDIVITT (1929-2022) Former astronaut Jim McDivitt, who played key roles in making America’s first spacewalk and moon landing possible, died October 17 at the age of 93. NPR paid tribute:

…In 1962, McDivitt was selected by NASA to become an astronaut. He was chosen to pilot Gemini 4 — becoming the first-ever NASA rookie to command a mission.

Considered NASA’s most ambitious flight at the time in 1965, the Gemini 4 mission was the first time the U.S. performed a spacewalk and the longest that a U.S. spaceflight had remained in Earth’s orbit: 4 days.

Four years later, McDivitt commanded Apollo 9 — a 10-day shakeout mission orbiting the Earth in March 1969 that involved testing the lunar landing spacecraft. It paved the way for NASA to successfully land humans on the moon four months later in July 1969.

Apollo 9 was his last trip to space. Despite his instrumental role in propelling NASA’s moon landing, McDivitt himself never reached the moon. Francis French, a spaceflight historian, said McDivitt chose not to command a moon landing mission and decided to take on a management role….

… McDivitt became manager of Lunar Landing Operations in May 1969, and in August of that year became manager of the Apollo Spacecraft Program. He was the program manager for Apollo missions 12-16….

(13) MEMORY LANE.

2005 [By Cat Eldridge.] Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars (2005)

Once upon a time, a beloved SF series got cancelled, and yes there is absolutely nothing unusual in that happening, it happens more often than it should. What is extremely unusual is that it got a second chance to have a proper ending in the Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars seventeen years ago. 

So let’s tell the tale of how that happened. Farscape arrived here twenty-three ago when Deep Space Nine was just wrapping up and Voyager was well into its seven year run. It started fine and ratings were strong until the fourth season and that, combined with regime change here in the States on who was picking up the tab for the two million dollars per episode led it to end abruptly. 

Fans being fans weren’t going to let things end that way, nor should we. (Yes I loved the show. Deeply, unreservedly. I think it was one of the best series ever made, if not the best.) A massive campaign was undertaken with of course emails,  letters, phone calls, and phone calls pleading with the network to reverse the cancellation. 

Even Bill Amend who created the Fox Trot series had his Jason Fox character direct his ire at SciFi and demand that they change their mind.

Well they did, sort of. A fifth season didn’t happen after all. What did happen in some ways I think was even better though I know that isn’t a popular opinion among those who wanted a full season. 

What we got was the two episode, one hundred and eighty minute Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars which I thought splendidly wrapped things up. Every single storyline that wasn’t dealt with during the series was during this film.

SPOLER ALERT HERE.

We got a baby too. Yes, our Peacekeeper gives birth in a fountain in the middle of a firefight, insists she’s married while in labor, carries her baby unscathed through a battle. I assume that the baby was a puppet from the Henson labs. It was terribly cute.

END OF SPOILERS

I’ve watched it at least a half dozen times, probably more, in the last fifteen years. The Suck Fairy in her steel toed boots is obviously scared of those Aussie actors (and the non Aussie one as well) as she slinks away to harass someone else. 

Just looked at Rotten Tomatoes — not at all surprisingly, it carries a ninety-two percent rating among audience reviewers there. It’s streaming at Amazon Prime.

(14) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 18, 1934 Inger Stevens. She’s here for two appearances on The Twilight Zone. She had the lead as Nan Adams “The Hitch-Hiker” and she was again the lead, Jana, as the sensitive daughter of a creative genius in “The Late of The Hour”. Her only other genre credit was as Sarah Crandall in the post nuclear Holocaust film The World, the Flesh and the Devil. The coroner ruled her 1970 death a suicide. (Died 1970.)
  • Born October 18, 1938 Barbara Baldavin. She was a recurring performer on Trek first as Angela Martine in “Balance of Terror” and “Shore Leave”.  She would also appear in the final season’s “Turnabout Intruder” as communications officer Lisa.  After that, she had one-offs on Fantasy Island and The Bionic Woman. She retired from the business in 1993.
  • Born October 18, 1948 Dawn Wells. Mary Ann Summers on Gilligan’s Island which y’all decided was genre.. She had genre one-offs on The InvadersWild Wild West and Alf. (Died 2020.)
  • Born October 18, 1944 Katherine Kurtz, 76. Known for the Deryni series which started with Deryni Rising in 1970, and the most recent, The King’s Deryni, was published in 2014. As medieval historical fantasy goes, they’re damn great. 
  • Born October 18, 1951 Jeff Schalles, 71. Minnesota area fan who’s making the Birthday Honors because he was the camera man for Cats Laughing’s A Long Time Gone: Reunion at Minicon 50 concert DVD. Cats Laughing is a band deep in genre as you can read in the Green Man review here.
  • Born October 18, 1952 Pam Dawber, 71. Mindy McConnell in Mork & Mindy. She did very little other genre work, such as Faerie Tale Theatre and the Twilight Zone. She was however in The Girl, the Gold Watch & Everything as Bonny Lee Beaumont which is based off the John D. MacDonald novel of the same name. Go watch it — it’s brilliant! 
  • Born October 18, 1964 Charles Stross, 58 . I’ve read a lot of him down the years with I think his best being the rejiggered Merchant Princes series. Other favorite works include the early Laundry Files novels and both of the Halting State novels. 

(15) FIGURES DON’T LIE. Cora Buhlert posted another “Masters-of-the-Universe-Piece Theatre” photo story. This one is called “Fake Out”.

(16) SCI-FI BREAD. It turns out that the “Pan Solo” linked here the other day was only the latest genre baking stunt from this Benecia, CA bakery. The New York Times gets the goods: “Bakery Creates ‘Pan Solo,’ a 6-Foot Replica of ‘Star Wars’ Hero Made of Bread”.

…In 2018, the year they opened the family bakery, they made Game of Scones, featuring a White Walker made of bread, next to an iron throne of baguettes.

Encouraged by the positive response from the public, in 2020 they made the “Pain-dough-lorian,” clad in armor made of bread, “Baby Dough-Da” clothed in bread and “floating” in mixing bowls, and “the Pandroid,” made of pans and kitchen tools, all inspired by the television series “The Mandalorian.”

Last year, they created “Dough-ki,” a menacing alligator made of bread, with sharp teeth and curved horns, modeled after “Alligator Loki,” a creature on the Marvel television series “Loki,” starring Tom Hiddleston…..

(17) MERMAN FOR HIRE. The Los Angeles Times takes readers “Inside Southern California’s subculture of mermaid enthusiasts”.

…Laflin squirmed and flailed around on the floor for 45 minutes that first time. When he could finally sit up, he looked down his torso to inspect himself. Half fish, half man, it was a transformation that turned out to be life-altering.

Ten years after he first tried on the set piece in his apartment, Laflin, 40, is a full-time merman, part of a hub of mermaid enthusiasts in Southern California who inhabit personas that express everything from a yearning for childhood play and entertainment to environmental advocacy and gender identity. Going by the stage name “Merman Jax,” he runs a business that he christened Dark Tide Productions, which employs a team of about 10 men and women who perform at events such as birthday parties, corporate galas, and Renaissance fairs, sometimes in water, sometimes posing by a pool or the entrance of an event.

Mermaids tend to be more in demand, Laflin says, because most clients prefer to go with a performer who is female-presenting. But he loves the moments when he is swimming in a tank or lounging poolsidebecause of the sense of wonder it can inspire….

(18) THE MASKED HYMIE. “You probably forgot that Dick Gautier once filled in briefly as Batman” – let MeTV remind you.

In 1971, Adam West was done being Batman.

“I knew it was going to be hard to live down such a strong identification,” West told a TV columnist syndicated in The Newspaper Enterprise Association that year. “But it’s been even harder than I anticipated. And today the series is being widely rerun, so I’m still identified with Batman.”

This was three years past the series end, but the action series maintained a wide fan base, and that year, an idea was floated to use the popular characters of Batgirl, Batman, and Robin to run a public service announcement raising awareness for a movement to secure equal pay for women.

In the PSA, Batman and Robin are tied up, and Batgirl appears.

“Untie us before it’s too late,” Batman commands Batgirl.

“It’s already too late,” Batgirl retorts, refusing to set them free until Batman agrees to give her a raise. “I’ve worked for you a long time, and I’m paid less than Robin!”

The PSA was promoting awareness of the federal equal pay law, and it ends with a cliffhanger to tune in tomorrow to find out if Batman does his duty and gives Batgirl what she’s owed.

West refused to do this PSA, not because of politics, but because he just didn’t want to be Batman anymore….

(19) DEL TORO’S PINOCCHIO: ONE REVIWER’S TAKE. “’Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio’ Review: The Fantasy Master’s Distinctive Stop-Motion Take on the Old Story Carves Out Its Own Way” at Yahoo!

The possessive claim in the title “Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio” is a gutsy one. There’s confidence — some would even say arrogance — in filming an oft-told story at least as old as the hills, and suddenly branding it as your own: Even two auteurs as ballsy as Francis Ford Coppola and Baz Luhrmann didn’t slap their own names on “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” and “William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet,” respectively. Still, you can hardly blame del Toro’s stop-motion spin on Carlo Collodi’s 19th-century chestnut “The Adventures of Pinocchio” for wanting to advertise its distinguishing vision up top: After umpteen tellings of the wooden-boy tale, and coming on the heels of Robert Zemeckis’ wretched Disney remake, Netflix’s rival adaptation has to announce itself as something different. That it is; it’s often delightful too….

(20) THESE ARE THE MENUS OF THE STARSHIP ENTERPRISE. “The New ‘Star Trek’ Cookbook Reveals the Challenges in Recreating Trek Food” reports Rachel P. Kreiter at Eater, who finds that making food green isn’t enough.

The Star Trek Cookbook is lightly bound by the conceit that Monroe-Cassel is a “gastrodiplomat” lecturing Starfleet cadets about how to further the Federation’s exploratory and expansionist goals through sharing a meal with representatives of other planets. The dishes themselves are all references I could ID from a lifetime of consuming Star Trek, but each dish’s franchise origin is noted. The book is organized by dish type, and not Star Trek series, era, or culture. In theory this makes it more usable for its intended purpose, that is, making and eating the food. This is (ugh) logical for a cookbook, and some of the recipes in here are good. Cardassian Regova eggs, for example: I boiled them, cracked the shells, and submerged them in dye diluted in water until they emerged a pretty, webby green. Spiked with some frilly bits of lettuce they looked striking; maybe I’d serve them at a Halloween party. They were also okay devilled eggs, and I learned a new trick: that you can slice off the tops and prepare them vertically.

But they’re also just devilled hen eggs, and nothing in the filling (yogurt, red pepper, garlic) makes them anything other than superficially a little weird. Everything about how the food looks — the plating, the reliance on dyes, the lightly modernist approach — broadcasts alienness, in a sci-fi aesthetic way. But making a traditionally structured cookbook with solid recipes for kinda odd-seeming food falls short of this project’s full potential, since nobody is going to a Star Trek cookbook first and foremost because it’s a cookbook…

(21) AI ART GENERATION. Camestros Felapton reviews one of the early books about the new AI art-creating systems, by a name that will be familiar to some of you: “Review: An Illustrated Guide to AI Prompt Mastery by Jack Wylder”.

…If the name sounds familiar, Jack Wylder does a lot of work with Larry Correia including producing Correia’s podcast. He’s recently produced a book which, unsurprisingly was promoted in former Puppy circles. That’s where I saw it but my interest wasn’t the connection to that particular circle of authors. Rather, I’ve been interested to see how independently published authors would start engaging with machine-learning art generation systems such as Midjourney and Dall-e for producing book covers.

An Illustrated Guide to AI Prompt Mastery attempts a system-agnostic approach to prompts. It doesn’t suggest a given system or discuss the syntax differences between systems. That is a sensible choice given that new systems are appearing regularly and the details of the syntax are better covered in their own documentation. The downside is that if you are expecting a kind of plug-and-play manual to AI-art syntax you’ll be disappointed….

(22) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Game Trailers: Overwatch 2,” Fandom Games says this comes from Blizzard, which “delivers controversies faster than new titles,” as development of the game led to a lot of the staff quitting and the company releasing a bug-ridden game that included times where 40,000 people were in front of you to play.  Overwatch 2 is  for “people who fear change so much that you want sequels that are five percent different than the last title,”  and that Blizzard should have fixed the bugs in Overwatch rather than come out with a “new” line extension.

[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Daniel Dern, Cora Buhlert, Doug Ellis, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, and Chris Barkley for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jim Janney.]

Pixel Scroll 10/7/22 Hey Hey We’re The Kzinti!

(1) COMICS: THE INSIDE STORY. Scott Edelman invites listeners to come to Chicago for lunch with Carol Tilley in episode 182 of the Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Carol Tilley

This episode’s guest is Carol Tilley, a professor in the School of Information Sciences at the University of Illinois who teaches and writes about comics, libraries, reading, and censorship. We first met six years ago when she was in D.C. to deliver a presentation at the National Archives titled “Dear Sirs: I Believe You’re Wasting Your Time,” during which she shared what she learned about comics readers of the ‘50s while researching the records of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency. In her role as a comics historian, she’s made numerous visits to D.C. over the years to research at the Library of Congress and National Archives for a biography of Fredric Wertham, whose attacks on sex and violence in comics, and particularly his infamous book Seduction the Innocent, helped bring about the Comics Code.

She was interested not just in the inner workings of Wertham — who comics fans, when I first entered fandom, considered a bigger villain than Doctor Octopus and Lex Luthor rolled into one — but also in the experiences of those who read, drew, and engaged with comics in the US during the ’30s-’50s. She came to Worldcon to share what’s she’s learned, and was also going to speak on a panel about the renewed attack on books and curriculum in schools across the U.S.

We discussed how we each first learned about the Comics Code, the mostly forgotten rich kid origins of Blondie‘s Dagwood Bumstead, the unsettling inconsistencies she discovered while going through 200 boxes of Fredric Wertham’s papers, what those documents reveal about how he came to believe what he came to believe, what it means to research with the brain of an historian, the proper pronunciations of Potrzebie and Mxyzptlk, her efforts to track down those who wrote letters to the Senate protesting comic book censorship during the ’50s (including one of the founders of the Firesign Theater), the enduring power of EC’s “Judgment Day,” why she believed comic book censorship would have occurred even without Wertham’s input, what she thinks he’d make of today’s comics, how Wertham felt about the way comic book fans felt about him, and much more.

(2) MAYBE EVEN HOPE ESCAPED THIS TIME. Victoria Strauss of Writer Beware gets the word out about “The Implosion of BBB Publishings: A Peek Into the Sometimes Dysfunctional World of Paid Anthology / Boxed Set Publishing”.

… But no one had any inkling the company was in real trouble, or that Nichol was sick. With Nichol incommunicado, and many buy-ins and service purchases much older than PayPal’s 180-day claim window, how would authors get their money back? Who were Haney Hayes Promotions? What was this new publisher all about? Why hadn’t Nichol herself made any announcements? Why was Sosha Ann, whose name appeared alongside Nichol Smith’s on BBB’s contracts, and in multiple other contexts to indicate that she was co-owner of the company, now claiming to be just a helpless employee who’d been in the dark about BBB’s problems and had no access to its finances? And if she was just an employee, what gave her the authority to transfer BBB’s anthology projects to a new publishing company?

Furious not just at the sudden transition and unanswered questions, but at the callous offloading of financial responsibility and the demand that they essentially pay twice for inclusion in the same anthologies, writers poured out their anger, confusion, and hurt on Facebook and in the new SIR Facebook group. Also unleashed: a flood of complaints and reports to me, which in addition to the problems mentioned above, exposed the extreme unprofessionalism of BBB’s operations….

(3) TWELVE TOUGH TRIVIA QUESTIONS. [Item by Brick Barrientos.] There is a Seanan McGuire quiz on the Learned League site. It was written by a couple 
of fans with the last name Dempsey. It seems pretty difficult, only for avid fans, but File 770 readers might be interested. “LL One-Day Special: Seanan McGuire”.

(4) SEE BONESTELL ART AGAIN. In the Washington Post, Michael E. Ruane discusses the renovation of the National Air and Space Museum which will display Chesley Bonestell’s 1957 painting “Lunar Landscape,” which has not been shown in public since 1970.  Bonestell’s painting reflected the science of his time but research shows that micrometeorites have made the Moon more worn and less craggy than what Bonestell painted. “Smithsonian Air and Space Museum to reopen after renovations”.

… The Apollo 11 moon capsule sits at an angle in the eerie light of its display case, its heat shield still gouged from its 25,000 mph plunge through the atmosphere in 1969.

Nearby, the 1909 Wright brothers flier — the world’s first military airplane — still has oil stains on its fabric wings near the engine and the big bicycle chains that turned the propellers….

(5) WHITTAKER COMING TO DOCTOR WHO CON IN LA. Gallifrey One has confirmed Jodie Whittaker, who has played the most recent incarnation of the Doctor since 2017, as their headliner guest for Gallifrey One 33 1/3: Long Live the Revolution, taking place on February 17-19, 2023 at the Marriott Los Angeles Airport Hotel.

Ms. Whittaker, whose appearance is sponsored by Showmasters Events, will be joining us both Saturday & Sunday at the convention, for two interview panels, autographs & photo ops both days, and participating in our evening guest receptions. She joins previously confirmed guests Colin Baker, Janet Fielding, Sophie Aldred, Wendy Padbury, Frazer Hines, and a stellar lineup of guests including many still to be confirmed.

For more details about Ms. Whittaker’s appearance at her very first dedicated Doctor Who convention, or to purchase tickets to the event, visit our website at www.gallifreyone.com.

(6) JOHN WILLIAMS, JERRY GOLDSMITH & OTHERS. LA classical music radio station KUSC polled listeners about their favorite pieces of classical music. The station ran a blog post with part of the list – “Your 20 Favorite Movie Scores”. Over half are from genre films.

Music from the silver screen made quite a splash once again on this year’s Classical California Ultimate Playlist. Check out ths playlist of your favorite 20 favorite pieces from the movies, as voted by you for the 2022 Classical California Ultimate Playlist. Enjoy!

drive in movie theater sign with palm trees

(7) SPIDER-MAN LIBRARY CARD. Spider-Senses will be tingling across New York City as The New York Public Library (NYPL) and Marvel Entertainment join forces to release a special, limited-edition Spider-Man library card on October 11 to inspire new and existing patrons to explore a multitude of free books, resources, and programs at the Library, including Marvel graphic novels.

This dynamic collaboration—which debuts just in time for New York Comic Con—marks the 60th anniversary of Spider-Man’s first comic book appearance in Amazing Fantasy #15 and emphasizes the importance of reading, knowledge, and libraries to Peter Parker’s crime-fighting comic book adventures. Images of Spider-Man—alongside Miles Morales and Gwen Stacy, two other iconic web-slingers—will be featured on the card, as well as on upcoming banners outside the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building and the windows of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library (SNFL), exciting patrons of all ages to tap into the unique power of reading, comics, and libraries to discover their inner super hero. Details about the card and related activities are available online: nypl.org/beyondamazing

The Spider-Man card follows in the footsteps of previous library cards issued for the beloved children’s book The Snowy Day and the Library’s “Knowledge Is Power” card; aiming to help New Yorkers discover their full potential by tapping into the power of everything NYPL has to offer—millions of books to help readers scale new heights, a web of information via free computers and internet access, and a super-team of library staff—all available at your friendly neighborhood library.

The release of the Spider-Man card also marks the one-year anniversary of the Library’s decision to eliminate fines as a way to remove barriers to accessing the Library for all New Yorkers. This historic move was even a plot point in Marvel Comics’ Amazing Spider-Man #900, released on July 27. In a special story written by Daniel Kibblesmith, drawn by David Lopez, and colored by Nathan Fairbairn, Peter Parker returns a large stack of overdue books to the Library after learning of the elimination of late fines. Readers can check out Amazing Spider-Man #900 in a special bonus release on Marvel Unlimited, Marvel’s premier digital comics subscription service.

The launch of the special-edition card also marks the start of the Library’s Open House week, which begins October 11. The card will be available to new and current patrons free on a first-come, first-serve basis at all NYPL branches, located throughout the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island. Libraries will be hosting a variety of programs and events throughout the week, as well as featuring book displays and reading recommendations from a special reading list curated by NYPL staff.

(8) UNHEARD SCREAMING. Do you remember this clue? “Jessica Fletcher. With a Robot. In Space.” by Mur Lafferty at CrimeReads.

…Also, I realized that subconsciously I put a little bit of my Grandma Lafferty into a lot of my stories. They seem to frequently include a tough old woman I like to call a “murder granny.” (While tough, the murder granny may or may not be an actual murderer. Also, to my knowledge, my Grandma was not a murderer.) In this book, there’s a little bit of my maternal grandmother as well, who was not tough as nails, but screamed during televised golf for the rolling ball to do her bidding, and really liked radio contests…

(9) MEMORY LANE.  

1993 [By Cat Eldridge.] So what’s Sylvester Stallone’s perfect film? Without any doubt at all, that’d be Demolition Man which came out twenty-nine years this evening. (In my universe, all films came out in the evening.) It is a film that I saw first at the cinema on a proper full screen and I think have watched at least a half dozen times since. 

It’s that ever so rare screenplay written by committee that I like, as it had three hands in the writing of it — Daniel Waters, Robert Reneau and Peter M. Lenkov. Waters had just written Batman Returns and had earlier received an Edgar for Heathers, Reneau had for genre just an episode of Tales from the Crypt, and Lenkov hadn’t done anything notable yet though much later he make his mark as a rebooter of, well everything — McGyverHawaii 5-0 and even Magnum PI got so done by him.

It was, weirdly, directed by Marco Brambilla, an Italian-born Canadian contemporary artist and film director, known for re-contextualizations of popular and found imagery. Huh? 

Now for the film itself.

Stallone played a cop thawed out (shades of Niven) to capture an escaped criminal who originally had been frozen when he was. They both wind up in what is considered a utopia, the city of San Angeles. Like all utopian undertakings, it really isn’t. 

I loved the absolute deadpan way Stallone deals with everything odd there from the lack of toilet paper to discovering sex has been replaced by virtual experiences. He would have made an absolute spot-on Dredd. (Oh, wait!)

Let’s not forget the other casting here. Wesley Snipes gives one of the best performances of his career as Simon Phoenix, and I completely adore Sandra Bullock as Lieutenant Lenina Huxley. 

Her character was named after Aldous Huxley, the author of Brave New World, and Lenina Crowne, a character in the novel.

The studio refused to say how much it cost but estimates say somewhere between fifty and seventy-five million. It did exceedingly well at the box office making at least one hundred and seventy million.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 7, 1938 Jane Gallion (Ellern). Writer, Poet, and Fan who was one of the members of the Los Angeles Science Fiction Society subgroup The Blackguards, which hosted many parties and tournaments. She edited the fanzines Karuna, and Topaze (etc.) and contributed to many other fanzines over the years. Wrote a great deal of erotica for Essex House, including the post-apocalyptic novels Biker and Going Down. (Died 2003.)
  • Born October 7, 1942 Lee Gold, 80. She’s a member of LAFA, the Los Angeles organization for filkers, and a writer and editor in the role-playing game and filk music communities. She’s published Xenofilkia, a bi-monthly compilation of filk songs since 1988, four issues of the Filker Up anthology; and has published for forty-seven years, Alarums and Excursions, a monthly gaming zine, and edited many other fanzines. She is a member of the Filk Hall of Fame along with Barry Gold, her husband. 
  • Born October 7, 1945 Hal Colebatch. Lawyer, Journalist, Editor, and Writer from Australia who has written, singly or in collaboration, two novels and at least two dozen shorter pieces set in Larry Niven’s The Man-Kzin Wars series. However, his main body of work is non-genre, including six books of poetry, short stories, and radio dramas and adaptations. His non-fiction books include social commentary, biography and history, and he has published many hundreds of articles and reviews in various news and critical venues. (Died 2019.)
  • Born October 7, 1947 John Brosnan. Australian writer who died way too young of acute pancreatitis. He used at least seven pseudonyms, and wrote scripts for a number of what I’ll generously call horror films including one I know that somehow I saw — Carnosaur.  If you like your SF with a larger dose of pulp, his Sky Lords trilogy (The Sky LordsThe War of the Sky Lords and The Fall of the Sky Lords) is damn good. Airships, airships! (Died 2005.)
  • Born October 7, 1950 Howard Chaykin, born 1950, 72. Comic book artist and writer. His first major work was for DC Comics drawing “The Price of Pain Ease” which was an adaptation of author Fritz Leiber’s characters Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser in Sword of Sorcery #1. He would illustrate damn near everything else from Batman and The Legion of Super-Heroes for DC to Hulk and Iron-Man for Marvel (to name but a few series) but I think his best genre work was his own American Flagg! series which I’ve enjoyed more than a few times. It’s available from the usual digital suspects.
  • Born October 7, 1958 Rosalyn Landor, 64. She played Guinevere in Arthur the King, and Helen Stoner in “The Speckled Band” of Jeremy Brett’s Sherlock Holmes. She was the red-headed colleen Brenna Odell in the “Up the Long Ladder” episode of Next Generation. 
  • Born October 7, 1977 Meighan Desmond, 45. One of the beauties of the Xena-Hercules Universe is that they shared secondary characters betwixt them. So was the case with one played by Meighan Desmond — the Greek goddess Discord. She also showed up on the Young Hercules series as well. She stopped acting after these series and has done some, but not much, behind the scenes work since.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • Eek! shows an actor who only wants to do it if it’s artistic.

(12) HUMOR LITMUS TEST. Humorist Rex Huppke declares to USA Today readers “I don’t care if Herschel Walker paid for an abortion or if he blew up the planet Alderaan”. If you read a lot of social media it may take a few paragraphs to convince you he’s kidding.

… Like the many Republicans who’ve rushed in to stick up for Walker in the wake of the abortion news, I don’t care if the former football star is an ancient, trans-dimensional, shape-shifting entity of pure evil that takes the form of a clown named Pennywise and terrorizes a small town in Maine. I want control of the Senate, and I’m sure Walker regrets any past desire to feed on humans….

(13) NECROPERSONCY. Camestros Felapton reviews Tamsyn Muir’s third Locked Tomb book: “Review: Nona the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir”.

… The big advantage Nona has over Gideon and Harrow is that Nona herself is just a lot more likeable. That’s a shallow criterion for judging a book but part of Muir’s writing genius with the Locked Tomb has been to pitch the style and structure of each volume to the titular character. Gideon was a brash, swashbuckling story with a protagonist who was fun to be with but who never really paid attention to the complex puzzle she was entangled with. Harrow was paranoid, secretive and actively leading the reader astray so as to hide their own vulnerability. Nona also doesn’t know what is going on but the central character is both innocent and curious and not afraid to ask questions….

(14) TUNE UP FOR HALLOWEEN. Not sure how the LA Opera got involved with Frankenstein, but they are! Tickets here.

The immortal horror classic is back onscreen with a live orchestra

This 1931 masterpiece of horror was originally released without a musical score, which inspired composer Michael Shapiro to fill in the void by creating an original new soundtrack. As the classic film plays on the big screen, he’ll conduct his gorgeous and atmospheric score, performed live by the LA Opera Orchestra, making this the ultimate audience experience for a truly iconic film.

Surround yourself with Old Hollywood glam at the beautifully-restored Theatre at Ace Hotel as the movie that made horror history returns to the big screen. Frankenstein with Live Orchestra is in town October 28 and 29 only, so click below to get your tickets before they’re gone!

(15) A TUMBLING TUMBLEWEED NO MORE. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] The pathfinding CAPSTONE mission had been in trouble for weeks with NASA unable to control the tumbling spacecraft. The trouble was finally located and the fix uploaded. This puts the mission back on track to try out the NRHO orbit planned for Gateway, the lunar space station portion of the Artemis program. “Engineers Regain Control of Moon-Bound Probe After a Frightening 4 Weeks”Gizmodo has the story.

…The recovery team traced the problem to a partially opened valve on one of CAPSTONE’s eight thrusters, according to an Advanced Space press release. The requisite fix was transmitted to the spacecraft yesterday and executed this morning to positive results. The probe remains on track as it heads to its operational orbit around the Moon.

CAPSTONE, short for Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment, ran into difficulties following its third course correction maneuver on September 8. The 55-pound (25-kilogram) satellite lost full three-axis control and entered into a troubling tumble. A recovery team led by Advanced Space, which owns and operates CAPSTONE on behalf of NASA, scrambled to regain control of the $33 million cubesat.…

(16) ASTEROIDS IMPACTING EARTH. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] In this week’s Nature news of the asteroid re-direction test (previously covered by File 770) but also an editorial calling for NASA to do a complete survey of asteroids that are 140m across
or more. NASA has already completed a survey of asteroids over 1km across likely to hit the Earth. These are of dinosaur global extinction level type asteroids. However, smaller asteroids over a few 100 meters across will cause regional devastation if they hit the Earth. The Near Earth Object (NEO) surveyor began its preparations in 2019 but has had its annual budget cut by over 75% from US$170 million. This will delay NEO’s launch from 2026 to after 2028.

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “’Vegetarian Vampire’ Toby Helps Heinz Promote Tomato Blood Ketchup”Adweek explains the campaign.

Heinz teamed up with “280 year-old vegetarian vampire, influencer and Tomato Blood activist” Toby, portrayed by viral TikTok star E.J. Marcus, on a “public-service-announcement film” to back the release of its Heinz Tomato Blood ketchup in its “spooky, Halloween-themed, limited-edition bottle.”…

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, Anne Marble, Brick Barrientos, Jeffrey Smith, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, 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 Daniel Dern.]

2022 Hugo Awards

The winners of the 2022 Hugo Awards, Lodestar Award for Best Young Adult Book, and Astounding Award for Best New Writer were announced on Sunday, September 4 at Chicon 8. (Detailed statistics for the nominating and final ballots are available in this PDF.)

The winners are:

BEST NOVEL

  • A Desolation Called Peace, by Arkady Martine (Tor)

BEST NOVELLA

  • A Psalm for the Wild-Built, by Becky Chambers (Tordotcom)

BEST NOVELETTE

  • “Bots of the Lost Ark”, by Suzanne Palmer (Clarkesworld, Jun 2021)

BEST SHORT STORY

  • “Where Oaken Hearts Do Gather”, by Sarah Pinsker (Uncanny Magazine, Mar/Apr 2021)

BEST SERIES

  • Wayward Children, by Seanan McGuire (Tordotcom)

BEST GRAPHIC STORY OR COMIC

  • Far Sector, written by N.K. Jemisin, art by Jamal Campbell (DC)

BEST RELATED WORK

  • Never Say You Can’t Survive, by Charlie Jane Anders (Tordotcom)

BEST DRAMATIC PRESENTATION, LONG FORM

  • Dune, screenplay by Jon Spaihts, Denis Villeneuve, and Eric Roth; directed by Denis Villeneuve; based on the novel Dune by Frank Herbert (Warner Bros / Legendary Entertainment)

BEST DRAMATIC PRESENTATION, SHORT FORM

  • The Expanse: Nemesis Games, written by Daniel Abraham, Ty Franck, and Naren Shankar; directed by Breck Eisner (Amazon Studios)

BEST EDITOR, SHORT FORM

  • Neil Clarke

BEST EDITOR, LONG FORM

  • Ruoxi Chen

BEST PROFESSIONAL ARTIST

  • Rovina Cai

BEST SEMIPROZINE

  • Uncanny Magazine, publishers and editors-in-chief Lynne M. Thomas and Michael Damian Thomas; managing/poetry editor Chimedum Ohaegbu; nonfiction editor Elsa Sjunneson; podcast producers Erika Ensign & Steven Schapansky

BEST FANZINE

  • Small Gods, Lee Moyer (Icon) and Seanan McGuire (Story)

BEST FANCAST

  • Our Opinions Are Correct, presented by Annalee Newitz and Charlie Jane Anders, produced by Veronica Simonetti

BEST FAN WRITER

  • Cora Buhlert

BEST FAN ARTIST

  • Lee Moyer

LODESTAR AWARD FOR BEST YOUNG ADULT BOOK

  • The Last Graduate, by Naomi Novik (Del Rey Books)

ASTOUNDING AWARD FOR BEST NEW WRITER

  • Shelley Parker-Chan

VOTING STATISTICS. There were 2235 valid final ballots (2230 electronic and 5 paper) received and counted from the members of Chicon 8. More information about the 2022 Hugo Awards, including detailed voting statistics is available on the Chicon website here.

ABOUT THE HUGO AWARDS. The Hugo Awards are the premier award in the science fiction genre, honoring science fiction literature and media as well as the genre’s fans. The Hugo Awards were first presented at the 1953 World Science Fiction Convention in Philadelphia (Philcon II), and they have continued to honor science fiction and fantasy notables for nearly 70 years.

The physical Hugo Award consists of a rocket mounted on a base that is designed specifically for that year’s awards. The base for the 2022 Hugo Award trophy was designed and created by Brian Keith Ellison, while the 2022 Lodestar Award was designed and created by Sara Felix. More information on this year’s designs can be found here.

A full list of past finalists and winners can be found on the official Hugo Awards website here.

[Based on a press release.]

Jordan: 2022 Hugo Finalists for Best Novella

[Introduction: In Michaele Jordan’s overview, she comments on the novellas by Aliette de Bodard, Becky Chambers, Alix E. Harrow, Seanan McGuire, Adrian Tchaikovsky, and Catherynne M. Valente that are up for the 2022 Hugo.]

By Michaele Jordan:

Fireheart Tiger, by Aliette de Bodard (Tordotcom) is a high fantasy. You’ve probably noticed that fantasy has become such a broad field that it can be broken down into subtypes, such as urban fantasy, Tolkienesque fantasy, dragon stories or fairy tales. High fantasy, in particular, has a specific format. It’s always set in a low-tech world – often here on earth, within a particular historical era. It always focuses on the adventures of the ruling class, usually royalty. The magic is often minimal compared to other types of fantasy, as it must be woven into the political or military struggles, and the court intrigues, with which the high-born characters are preoccupied.

High fantasy tends to further subdivide into two types: costume romances (usually of the forbidden kind) overlaid with magic, or political thrillers, also overlaid with magic, but with a great deal of plotting, backstabbing, and poison. In both cases, the characters are hugely constrained by their class obligations, and a lot of attention is paid to their expensive clothing, their plush living conditions, and the loyalty (or lack thereof) of servants.

If you are a fan of high fantasy – and many of us are – then you will love Fireheart Tiger. The protagonist is a young princess, caught up in a turbulent, and possibly treasonous, affair with another princess, even as their two countries circle each other, looking for attack points. The setting is highly original –an analog of pre-Colonial Viet Nam, (around 18th century). The magic is also well handled. There are no spells or amulets. But one of the three major characters is a fire elemental – and a VERY interesting character.

Next we come to A Psalm for the Wild-Built, by Becky Chambers (Tordotcom), I loved it! First and foremost: I was struck by the tale’s charm. The characters are charming. Their culture is charming. Their tea monks are charming. Even the opening, where Sibling Dex notices the absence of crickets is charming. Most of all, the voice in which the story is told charming, full of love and attention to captivating details.

The story seems to take place on earth, in a way-past-the-apocalypse future. Not that the author ever said as much! It may not even be intentional. She may only have wanted it to be earthlike enough to make us feel at home. In which case, she succeeded.

They have a lush ecology, with plants that are not just generic but species that seem familiar to us (especially herbs). The animals seem familiar, too (especially the insects, and not just crickets). There is a complex history of over-industrialization leading to collapse, followed by recovery.

But the place where all those charming things live is actually Pangan (named after one of the local gods). It’s a moon orbiting Motan (also named after a god) which appears to be a gas giant. (For me, the discovery that this is not Earth was genuinely startling. The place feels so homelike it’s almost deja vu.)

Naturally, this means that the inhabitants are not human, per se, but they, too, are so vividly evoked that it’s hard to believe. Sibling Dex does not merely seem to be someone we might know. They feel like . . . well, a sibling. Even Splendid Speckled Mosscap – who could not be mistaken for a human , no matter how quickly the reader is skimming – feels friendly and comfortable.

The story is soft and simple. (If you’re looking for epic battles, go elsewhere.) There is a quest, which involves some very hard travelling into the wilderness. Some of the creatures in the wilderness are more dangerous than charming.

While on the road, Dex and Speckled Mosscap have a lot of time to talk. Speckled Mosscap wants to know why Dex is engaging in their strange and whimsical quest. Dex wants to know where Speckled Mosscap has come from, and why nobody has seen any of their people before. Both are wondering if it is time for Speckled Mosscap and their people to re-emerge into Pangan life.

Their conversation – along with the ending – is philosophical, revolving around such eternal questions as “life, the universe and everything.” The conclusion does not offer any answers, but leaves us very content, just the same.

A Spindle Splintered, by Alix E. Harrow (Tordotcom) starts with an excellent concept. We’ve all seen tales – many, many tales – of young women entering Fairyland, by a variety of means and with a variety of motives. This time, the traveler is propelled by soul-crushing need. She was born with a genetic disorder that invariably kills its victim before the age of twenty-two, at the very latest, and usually much younger. The story opens on the protagonist’s twenty-first birthday.

All her life, Zinnia has been obsessed by the story of Sleeping Beauty. She knows that it’s a terrible story in many ways – most notably in that it makes its heroine a virtual walk-on (or should I say a sleep-on?) in her own story. She knows there are versions of the story much darker and crueler than Disney’s. But nonetheless, she identifies desperately with Sleeping Beauty, who has spent her entire short life watching and waiting for the inevitable curse to strike her down.

Zinnia’s best friend wants her twenty-first birthday to be special, and arranges a Sleeping Beauty birthday party smothered in roses, and complete with a haunted tower and an antique spinning wheel. In a moment of dark whimsy and drunken bravado, Zinnia deliberately presses her finger to the spindle.

In an ineffable moment of spinning within the multiverse, she sees a thousand cursed princesses reaching for the spindle. But only one protests, softly whispering, “Help.” So Zinnia reaches out towards her. The universe goes dark, and she wakes in a fairy tale castle, in the plush royal bed of Princess Primrose of Perceforest.

If this tale has a flaw it starts now. After a truly compelling opening, Ms. Harrow has no place left to go. She has a point that she cares about, and wants very much to make. She has already intervened in the original story before the end, which she wants to change – that being her whole purpose in writing this novella. But fairy tales are not strong on complex plot lines, and now she has no guideposts as to where to go next, or how to get there.

In this place and time, the only alternative to the spindle is a political marriage. So if there is to be any story at all, it must now decry its new ending and find a way to avert it.

Mind you, I’m not suggesting that loveless political marriages are a good thing. But I do not think that was Ms. Harrow’s original point. And they are a far cry from a terrible curse. They were normal in the Middle Ages, where large households were as close as woman could get to a safe refuge in a dangerous world. The only reasonably acceptable alternative was the nunnery, (which apparently was not an option in fairy tale worlds.)

I fully acknowledge that Primrose’s position is not a happy one. But she has been dropped into a much weaker story than the one she started out in, which is disappointing to the reader. And it is still a story that can only be resolved by magic.

Lastly, I am sorry to say, I found the ending even weaker. Primrose is (magically) rescued. Zinnia emerges from her adventure with a few years added to her potential lifeline, and some personal lessons learned. But lessons learned are not the same thing as skills acquired, and she would need some serious skills when embarking on her next life choice – which mostly looks like a bid for a sequel.

Across the Green Grass Fields, by Seanan McGuire (Tordotcom), is also a tale of a young girl entering Fairyland. The similarities end there. Regan is only ten. Unlike a number of her classmates, she’s still definitely pre-teen. (Allow me to interject that Ms. McGuire’s portraiture of young girls is uncanny in its accuracy.) But as long Regan’s best friend is Laurel, the class queen bee, she is sheltered from social consequences, and no matter that Laurel is a rigid, domineering bully.

That is, until Regan’s parents have to warn her that there is a genetic reason why she is not maturing as fast as her classmates. That discovery was the end of her world. The end of her friendship with Laurel—and the end of the social safety Laurel provided. She runs away from home. And in a nearby wooded plot she finds . . . a door.

It doesn’t lead to a fairyland of castles and princesses. Rather, it’s simply a place where the residents are all mythological beings, and there are no humans. She stumbles almost immediately upon a unicorn, (which is not a person, it’s a dumb beast) and shortly afterwards, the centaurs who herd the unicorns. The centaurs are all astonished and thrilled to meet a genuine human. They know the legends. Humans only show up when the serious trouble is coming and they’re needed to save the world, after which they disappear. Which may bode ill, but it’s still thrilling to meet a creature out of legend.

The centaurs offer to take Regan to see the queen, right away, since she will have to be presented to Her SunLit Majesty sooner or later anyway. But Regan would rather stay with the centaurs, at least until the Fair. She becomes best friends (true best friends!) with Chicory, a centaur child, and studies herbal medicine with Daisy, the herd’s healer. She learns centaur customs, and how to herd unicorns and, weave grass beds. She grows tall and strong, and doesn’t bother to worry about the absence of puberty. She does worry how her parents are coping, but there’s nothing she can do about that. This continues for years.

The story here is deceptively simple. Regan runs away and arrives in another world.  She learns many lessons about herself – most importantly, how to be happy insider her own skin – and in the end, she must go to the Fair to meet the queen. The Fair is not as safe and kindly a place as a centaur longhouse. And the queen is not what Regan has been told. I am struggling here to avoid spoilers while warning you that the ending is startling unique: smaller and subtler – and sharper – than you’d expect, but quite wonderful.

In Elder Race, by Adrian Tchaikovsky (Tordotcom), Mr. Tchaikovsky applies well known trope: an abandoned colony reduced of millennia to pre-industrial barbarism, but with one lingering outpost, inhabited by one lone anthropologist named Nyrgoth, who long since abandoned hope of his people ever coming back.

The last time Nyr ventured out of his tower, he was persuaded to accompany a warrior princess named Astresse in her pursuit of a monster/sorcerer/warlord Ulmoth. Ulmoth was defeated and Nyr has filled the centuries since with long naps. Our story opens with Lynesse, the great-granddaughter of Astresse, deciding that it is time to solicit more ‘sorcerous’ assistance against an apparently magical menace.

The story shifts focus back and forth between Nyr and Lyn. I found this format a little troubling, largely because the two parties didn’t balance. The Nyr passages are a deeply intimate first-person memoir.

He cannot look at Lyn without remembering Astresse, and grieving that she is so long gone. He agonizes over the endless struggle to communicate with her, since she interprets all technical terms as magical ones. (He must have had the same problem with Astresse, but apparently never got used to it.)

He flagellates himself over his failure as an anthropologist, in that he has intervened (twice now!) in the culture he is supposed to be studying, while simultaneously denouncing the pointlessness of anthropological study. Psychologically, he is a clinically depressed mess.

But  Lynn, on the other hand, is presented in a brisk third person. She is a fairly standard heroic fantasy protagonist, an unappreciated younger heir, raised on tales of her heroic ancestress, questing in the hope of proving herself to her family, and gaining renown. Her emotions and responses are plain, and undetailed.

The monster is interesting  –  although not much attention is paid to it. No one who has not seen it believes in it, largely because it is truly weird, well beyond the normal bounds of either SF or fantasy. The pair painfully but successfully defeat it, seeming at great cost. But of course, a happy ending is tacked on, and all is joy in Mudville.

The Past Is Red, by Catherynne M. Valente (Tordotcom), is complicated. In fact, it’s so complicated that I had a lot of trouble following it. And, therefore, I can’t really say I enjoyed it. It breaks my heart to say that. Ms. Valente is one of my favorite authors. Radiance (Tom Doherty Associates, 2015) and Deathless (Tordotcom, 2011) are two of the best books I have ever, EVER read.

But . . .  for starters, she uses a very convoluted sequence of events. She jumps around in her story line so vigorously that I spent a good half of my reading time going back to reread previous passages in a frequently unsuccessful attempt to find out where I was in the story. On top of that, she used what may have been the most unreliable ‘unreliable narrator’ I have ever encountered.

Usually I don’t mind an unreliable narrator. It adds verisimilitude. Mind you I’m quite comfortable with the impersonal third person narrator, but using one of the characters as the narrator can bring warmth into a story. In real life, a lot of people don’t know much, and usually don’t want to admit that. Why should a well-drawn character be any different?

But . . . on three separate occasions, the protagonist announced, “None of that is true. I just made it all up because I like it better than what really happened.” There was no knowing how much was covered under “that” and “it all.” Maybe everything? I’m still not sure what (if anything) happened in The Past is Red.

Maybe I was just feverish or sleep deprived. Maybe you’ll do better with it. I hope so. I do so love her.

Pixel Scroll 2/13/22 If You Like My File And You Think I’m Pixely, Come On Baby Let Me Scroll

(1) GET READY FOR VALENTINE’S DAY. Cora Buhlert rolls out “Love Through Space and Time 2022 – A Round-up of Indie Valentine’s Day Speculative Fiction”.

…These Valentine’s Day stories cover the broad spectrum of speculative fiction. We have urban fantasy, a lot of paranormal romance, paranormal mysteries, science fiction mysteries, science fiction romance, space opera, space colonisation, horror, alternate history, time travel, dragons, werewolves, wizards, ghosts, demons, aliens, robots, magical greeting card writers, crime-fighting witches, crime-fighting ghosts, Viking ghosts, dinners with demons, grumpy cupids, love potions, Valentine’s Day in space and much more. But one thing unites all of those very different books. They’re all set on or around Valentine’s Day….

(2) EVEN BEFORE COVID. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Fans who had to deal with Covid restrictions coming to DisCon III should be interested in June Moffatt’s account of the preparations she and her husband Len Moffatt had to do before travelling to the UK and Germany as 1973 TAFF delegates, as recounted in their report The Moffatt House Abroad.

Then there was the matter of shots for overseas travel.  We thought of smallpox vaccinations immediately, but our doctor said they were hardly necessary where we were going, and said we’d do better with protection against cholera and typhoid, which we might be exposed to in crowded international air terminals.

It was a remarkably warm winter and it seemed as if we took turns having colds, so we never did get to the doctor for the necessary shots…The Friday before we were supposed to leave, I was driving home and listening to the radio when I heard a bit of news that startled me considerably.  There had been an outbreak of smallpox in London.  Only three known cases so far, but the authorities were watching carefully.(It seems that a lab worker had been working with smallpox virus without having been immunized.  When she got sick, she was hospitalized in a regular ward, while her doctor worked to find out what she had. Two people visiting the person sitting on the bed next to hers had caught it from her.  They subsequently died. She recovered.)

The next day we were at our doctor’s office, sans appointment.  When we explained the problem, he subsequently immunized us and had a few remarks to make on people who disapprove of smallpox vaccinations.  (The remarks were not particularly complementary, in case you were wondering.) He gave us our yellow health certificates and advised us to get them stamped by a local health department, which we did on Monday. 

Copies of the Moffatts’ trip report may still be available as advertised last November on the Unofficial Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund site.

(3) PAINT GETS THEM HIGH. Dreams of Space revisits “Books and Ephemera: Danny Dunn and the Anti-gravity Paint (1956)”. See the cover and interior art at the link.

Danny Dunn and the Anti-gravity Paint was a 1956 fictional book. Part of a 15 book series about Danny Dunn written by by Jay Williams and Raymond Abrashkin.  In 1967 they reprinted “…and the Anti-Gravity Paint.” It had a new painted cover making it seem modern to young space-age children. Danny Dunn books were loosely science-based so the problems were solved with scientific ideas. I thought the 1956 space race setting of the book connects it with others of the time like Rocket Ship Galileo.

(4) BERYL VERTUE (1931-2022). Beryl Vertue, a writers’ agent who became a television producer with credits including Sherlock, has died at the age of 90. The Guardian noted some of her achievements.

Beryl Vertue, who has died aged 90, played an important role in the history of British television comedy. She began as an agent for writers such as Spike Milligan and Eric Sykes, as well as the performers Tony Hancock and Frankie Howerd, before pioneering the sale of hit UK TV formats to American television.

The Moffat-Vertues partnership had further success with two drama series transposing Victorian literary figures to the present day. Jekyll (2007) starred James Nesbitt as Robert Louis Stevenson’s doctor with a split personality, while Sherlock (2010-17) was an irreverent take on Arthur Conan Doyle’s detective, co-created by Moffat and Mark Gatiss, with Benedict Cumberbatch as Holmes and Martin Freeman as Dr Watson. Cumberbatch dubbed Vertue “Sherlock’s godmother”.

From typing scripts for The Goon Show (1951-60) and other radio and TV sitcoms, Vertue became the company’s business manager – later managing director – and negotiated deals with broadcasters. This made her an agent for some of the most respected writers in the country, who also included Barry TookDick Vosburgh, Marty Feldman, John Junkin and Johnny Speight.

Outside comedy circles, Vertue sealed a deal for Terry Nation that gave him partial copyright on the Daleks when he introduced them in Doctor Who’s second story shortly after the sci-fi series began in 1963.

She also blazed a trail by persuading the BBC to venture into programme-related merchandise, resulting in Daleks memorabilia, a Hancock’s Half Hour board game and Steptoe and Son jigsaws.

Alongside film production, Vertue negotiated the sale of British sitcom remake rights to American and European channels. In the US, Till Death Us Do Part became All in the Family (1971-79) and Steptoe and Son was retitled Sanford and Son (1972-77).

She was also executive producer of Tommy (1975), the film of the Who’s rock opera…

Vertue was made an OBE in 2000 and a CBE in 2016, and presented with the Royal Television Society’s lifetime achievement award in 2012.

(5) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1972 [Item by Cat Eldridge] Fifty years ago today, Cabaret premiered as directed by Bob Fosse and produced by Cy Feuer. It would be Fosse’s first film success, after Sweet Charity, his first film, failed badly. 

Set in Berlin in obviously a cabaret during the Weimar Republic, the film is based on the 1966 Broadway Cabaret musical by John Kander and Fred Ebb, which was adapted from Christopher Isherwood’s The Berlin Stories novel and the 1951 play I Am a Camera by John Van Druten adapted from that work. 

It had a stellar cast of Liza Minnelli, Michael York, Helmut Griem, Marisa Berenson. Fritz Wepper and Joel Grey. The film would bring Minnelli, daughter of Judy Garland and Vincente Minnelli, her own first chance to sing on screen, and she won the Academy Award for Best Actress. 

It goes without saying that the critics loved it with Roger Ebert being effusive when he said in his later critical review of it that “Instead of cheapening the movie version by lightening its load of despair, director Bob Fosse has gone right to the bleak heart of the material and stayed there well enough to win an Academy Award for Best Director.” And Emanuel Levy on his review website says that “After a decade of stagnant musicals, Fosse reenergized the genre with a dazzling, socially conscious musical, which was more reflective of the 1970s zeitgeist than the Nazi era. Liza Minnelli is brilliant in what’s the best role of her career.”

Box office wise, it did fantastic earning forty-three million against just five million in production costs. It was a Good Thing that it did considering that Sweet Charity, his first film based off the musical by him of the same name had lost twelve million dollars after costing only eight million to produce. Though even that disputed with the Studio saying it only made four million. 

Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give a seventy two percent rating. Cabaret is available for watching on HBO Max. Pretty much every other service has it for rent. 

(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born February 13, 1908 Patrick Barr. He appeared in Doctor Who as Hobson in the Second Doctor story, “The Moonbase”, in the Seventies Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased) “You Can Always Find a Fall Guy” episode and appeared once in The Avengers as Stonehouse in the “Take me to Your Leader” episode. His last genre role was as the British Ambassador in Octopussy. (Died 1985.)
  • Born February 13, 1932 Susan Oliver. She shows up in the original Trek pilot, “The Cage” as Vina, the Orion slave girl. She had a number of one-offs in genre television including Wild Wild WestTwilight ZoneAlfred Hitchcock HourThe Man from U.N.C.L.E.TarzanThe InvadersNight Gallery and Freddy’s Nightmares. (Died 1990.)
  • Born February 13, 1932 David Neal. He had a number of genre roles including showing up on the 1980 Flash Gordon as Captain of Ming’s Air Force. He would be on Doctor Who during the time of The Fifth Doctor for the “The Caves of Androzani” story”.  And he played, and I kid you not, the Dish of the Day in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series. (Died 2000.)
  • Born February 13, 1938 Oliver Reed. He first shows up in a genre film uncredited in The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll, with his first credited role being Leon in The Curse of the Werewolf. He was King in The Damned, an SF despite its title, and Z.P.G. saw him cast as Russ McNeil. Next up was him as Athos in the very charming Three Musketeers, a role he reprised in Four Musketeers and Return of the Musketeers. And can we skip past him as Sarm in Gor please? Does Royal Flash count as genre? Kage Baker loved that rogue. Kage also loved The Adventures of Baron Munchausen in which he played Vulcan. Orpheus & Eurydice has him as Narrator, his final film role. At least I’m reasonably sure it is. (Died 1999.)
  • Born February 13, 1943 Leo Frankowski. Probably best known for his Conrad Stargard series featuring the Polish time travelling engineer Conrad Schwartz, but I’m more fond of his stand-alone novels Fata Morgana (most superb) and Copernick’s Rebellion. (Died 2008.)
  • Born February 13, 1944 Michael Ensign, 78. One of these performers whose showed up in multiple Trek series, to wit The Next Generation where he played a Malcorian, on Deep Space Nine where he was a Vulcan, on Voyager where he was a Takarian and Enterprise where he’s another Vulcan. Impressive indeed! 
  • Born February 13, 1959 Maureen F. McHugh, 63. Her first novel, China Mountain Zhang, was nominated for the Hugo at ConFrancisco and the Nebula Award as well, and won the Otherwise Award, impressive indeed. Her other novels are Half the Day Is NightMission Child and Nekropolis. She has an excellent collection of short stories. 

(7) COMICS SECTION.

  • Thatababy has an improbably science fictional gag compared to its usual fare.
  • Sarah Andersen dropped in for a visit.

(8) EYE SPY. Paul Weimer shares his impressions of a long-awaited John M. Ford reissue in “Microreview: Scholars of Night” at Nerds of a Feather.

…But as far as what to expect, and maybe have a hope of staying ahead of Ford in reading it for the first time, you need to know which espionage writers influenced Ford.

In his introduction, Charles Stross, whose Laundry Files and Merchant Princes novels have borrowed, if not been nearly pastiches of, various espionage novel authors, provides a Rosetta Stone, a cryptography key, to what Ford was doing here.  Ford’s inspiration, model, and some might even say passion is Anthony Price. Anthony Price’s Dr David Audley/Colonel Jack Butler novels are counter espionage thrillers and highly regarded in that genre. I’ve never read any of them, but I know enough about espionage thrillers, both novels and movies, to fit into the plot, characters and story quite well. It is no coincidence that George Smiley (of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) gets invoked on more than one occasion….

(9) INCRYPTID SERIES. Also at Nerds of a Feather, Joe Sherry calls this Seanan McGuire book “The culmination of a long and satisfying journey” — “Microreview [book]: Spelunking Through Hell, by Seanan McGuire”.

…You *could* go into this book cold and enjoy and appreciate Spelunking Through Hell. Seanan McGuire is really, really good at setting up the beginning of a novel with just enough recap and context to pull the reader along. I just wouldn’t know what that looks like because I’ve hooked on this series since book one and I’ve read all of McGuire’s Incryptid stories on Patreon that’s been filling in the family history up through Alice and Thomas. I can’t get my mind in the place to understand what cold reading would look like. I’m invested….

(10) AT 90. The New York Times profiles the composer in “John Williams, Hollywood’s Maestro, Looks Beyond the Movies”.

…George Lucas, the creator of “Star Wars,” said Williams was the “secret sauce” of the franchise. While the two sometimes disagreed, he said Williams did not hesitate to try out new material, including when Lucas initially rejected his scoring of a well-known scene in which Luke Skywalker gazes at a desert sunset.

“You normally have, with a composer, giant egos, and wanting to argue about everything, and ‘I want it to be my score, not your score,’” Lucas said. “None of that existed with John.”…

(11) NEBULA WINNER. Screen Rant tells how “Karen Gillan Trolls James Gunn Over Adding More GOTG 3 Nebula Scenes”.

…As production continues on the film, James Gunn took to Twitter to share a behind-the-scenes Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 image. The writer/director revealed Gillan has been trolling him on the set of the film by sneaking in drawings to his shot plans in an effort to get more Nebula scenes, to which the actress hilariously and seemingly confirmed her hijinks in a follow-up post. Check out the funny posts below:

(12) THE CROWN JOULES. BBC News says there’s a “Major breakthrough on nuclear fusion energy”.

European scientists say they have made a major breakthrough in their quest to develop practical nuclear fusion – the energy process that powers the stars.

The UK-based JET laboratory has smashed its own world record for the amount of energy it can extract by squeezing together two forms of hydrogen.

If nuclear fusion can be successfully recreated on Earth it holds out the potential of virtually unlimited supplies of low-carbon, low-radiation energy.

The experiments produced 59 megajoules of energy over five seconds (11 megawatts of power).

This is more than double what was achieved in similar tests back in 1997.

It’s not a massive energy output – only enough to boil about 60 kettles’ worth of water. But the significance is that it validates design choices that have been made for an even bigger fusion reactor now being constructed in France….

(13) NUKES. Mental Floss reminds readers “When The Day After Terrorized 100 Million Viewers With a Vision of Nuclear War” in this 2018 post.

…Preempting Hardcastle and McCormick on ABC, the 8 p.m. telefilm drew a staggering 100 million viewers, an audience that at the time was second only in non-sports programming to the series finale of M*A*S*H. According to Nielsen, 62 percent of all televisions in use that night were tuned in.

What they watched didn’t really qualify as entertainment; Meyer stated he had no desire to make a “good” movie with stirring performances or rousing music, but a deeply affecting public service announcement on the horrors of a nuclear fallout. He succeeded … perhaps a little too well….

(14) VIDEOS OF THE DAY. YouTube’s Broadway Classixs praises a famous sff movie sequence:“Things To Come 1936 – Stereo – Building The New World – Arthur Bliss”.

I’ve always loved this sequence – the gorgeous miniatures, amazing effects, and perfect score – so I synched Ramon Gamba’s recording to the film.

And if the music hooks you, then here’s another excerpt: “March from ‘Things to Come’ – Sir Arthur Bliss conducts”.

Bliss composed one of the most famous British film scores for the 1936 production of H. G. Wells’ “Things to Come.” Here he conducts its March on a Reader’s Digest LP with the New Philharmonia Orchestra (recorded 1967). Note: This has now been released on a ‘Classic Recordings Quarterly’ CD entitled “A Tribute Sir Arthur Bliss” (CRQ Editions CRQ CD 283) which also features Bliss conducting the music of Rossini, Borodin, Handel, Elgar, Holst, Vaughan Williams, Parry and Arne.

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

Barkley: DisCon III,
The Fourth Day

To Be Fair, I Was Left Unsupervised: A Disjointed Chronicle of 79th World Science Fiction Convention, DisCon III – December 19-20, 2021

By Chris M. Barkley:

DAY FOUR

(Author’s Note: As of this writing, I misplaced all of my notes for Day Four. The things I write about here may be a bit truncated, so please bear with me with this day’s events…)

I woke up relatively early (for a Worldcon), at around 8:45 a.m. Dapperly dressed in my Chelsea FC pajamas and socks, I decide to go down to the Information Desk for the latest Dis N’ Dat newsletter for the latest news and Programming changes.

Just as I exited the elevator, I encountered Laurie Mann and Dave McCarty in deep conversation. Mr. McCarty told me that he was on his way to the Site Selection Meeting and was particularly vexed because the contest between the Chengdu and Winnipeg bids was, as of this morning, in doubt.

 This was a little peculiar because under normal circumstances, the identity of the winning bid would have been leaked the previous evening by unknown sources and would have been circulating among the parties last night.   

But as I inferred from my earlier conversation with Ms. Mann and Mr. McCarty, this did not happen. By now, most of you may know that the statement from Kevin Standlee a few days earlier cast the election in doubt due to what was perceived by some as an infraction of the rules regarding the lack of valid addresses by those voting for the Chengdu bid. 

To my understanding of the matter, a majority of  the Chengdu voters used as email address because that is how they interpreted the use of that term in China 

Mr. McCarty, who is associated with the Chengdu bid, had no idea whether or not the disputed ballots would be allowed or not this morning.

Quickly realizing that either history, a controversy, or both was about to occur, I bolted to my room, got properly dressed, grabbed a tea and a protein bar and raced down to the Palladian Ballroom for the reveal.

The Site Selection Meeting had been scheduled for 9:30 a.m. but that passed by as the room slowly filled with interested parties.

[The rest of Chris’ report follows the jump.]

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