Pixel Scroll 12/13/23 Pixeltar: The Fifth Scrollbender

(1) CONTEST KERFUFFLE. The Self-Published Science Fiction Competition has announced that one of its judging teams – unnamed in their statement, but it’s Team EPIC – will no longer be participating.

Kris, who reviews on YouTube as A Fictional Escapist, and formerly at EPIC Indie, said they found something on EPIC’s “About” page that led them to leave the SPSFC’s Team EPIC. They gave this explanation on X.com.  And followed with a screencap of the offending rules.

Team EPIC leader Matthew Olney published a statement on X.com:

Some of the exchanges have been taken down. Other parts can still be traced starting with this tweet by JCM Berne.

(2) MEDICAL UPDATE. [By Lisa Hertel.] I visited Erwin Strauss at Steere House in Providence, R.I. today. He is in good spirits and resting comfortably, and would love visitors, cards, or phone calls; he has his mobile. (Obviously use his real name when you are at reception or talking to the switchboard.) If he doesn’t answer the phone, try again later. He expects to be in Providence through mid-January.

(3) 400-YEAR-OLD AUTHOR AND SCIENTIST. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] BBC Radio 4’s Front Row devotes its first third of the programme to Margaret Cavendish, the British scientist and SF author who was born 400 years ago and known for her novel The Blazing World (1666), which of course pre-dates Frankenstein 1818. In The Blazing World there is a parallel Earth which can be accessed via the North Pole as the barrier between the two Earths is weakest there…. 

Margaret Cavendish was born exactly 400 years ago, and her many achievements include writing The Blazing World, arguably the first ever sci-fi novel. Novelist Siri Hustvedt and biographer Francesca Peacock discuss the enduring legacy of this pioneering woman. 

You can hear the programme here.

(4) PICKING UP THE BRUSH. “Dream of Talking to Vincent van Gogh? A.I. Tries to Resurrect the Artist.” The New York Times tells how it’s being done. Doesn’t seem quite as cheerful as in that Doctor Who episode.  

…His paintings have featured in major museum exhibitions this year. Immersive theaters in cities like Miami and Milan bloom with projections of his swirling landscapes. His designs now appear on everything from sneakers to doormats, and a recent collaboration with the Pokémon gaming franchise was so popular that buyers stampeded at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, forcing it to suspend selling the trading cards in the gift shop.

But one of the boldest attempts at championing van Gogh’s legacy yet is at the Musée D’Orsay in Paris, where a lifelike doppelgänger of the Dutch artist chats with visitors, offering insights into his own life and death (replete with machine-learning flubs).

“Bonjour Vincent,” intended to represent the painter’s humanity, was assembled by engineers using artificial intelligence to parse through some 900 letters that the artist wrote during the 1800s, as well as early biographies written about him. However the algorithm still needed some human guidance on how to answer the touchiest questions from visitors, who converse with van Gogh’s replica on a digital screen, through a microphone. The most popular one: Why did van Gogh kill himself? (The painter died in July 1890 after shooting himself in a wheat field near Auvers.)

Visitors can chat with the A.I. Vincent van Gogh through a microphone. In this video, A.I. van Gogh responds to questions about his paintings.Video via Jumbo Mana

Hundreds of visitors have asked that morbid question, museum officials said, explaining that the algorithm is constantly refining its answers, depending on how the question is phrased. A.I. developers have learned to gently steer the conversation on sensitive topics like suicide to messages of resilience.

“I would implore this: cling to life, for even in the bleakest of moments, there is always beauty and hope,” said the A.I. van Gogh during an interview.

The program has some less oblique responses. “Ah, my dear visitor, the topic of my suicide is a heavy burden to bear. In my darkest moments, I believed that ending my life was the only escape from the torment that plagued my mind,” van Gogh said in another moment, adding, “I saw no other way to find peace.”…

(5) LOCAL SFF WORKSHOP. The organization that hosts The Tomorrow Prize and the Green Feather Award will hold a workshop at a library in Pasadena (CA) next week.

My name is Valentina Gomez and I am very excited to introduce myself as the new Literary Arts Coordinator for the Omega Sci-Fi Project! I am reaching out to invite your participation in this season’s short science fiction story writing program, both through creative writing workshops and student story submissions.

Join our upcoming creative writing workshop at the Jefferson branch of the Pasadena Public Library on 12/19, catered to young creative writers and open to all ages! Please share with the high-school students in your life!

(6) YOU’LL KEEP HEARING THIS. Former Google and Apple executive Kim Scott asks “Will Books Survive Spotify?” in a New York Times opinion piece.

Spotify may have made it easier than ever for us to listen to an enormous trove of music, but it extracted so much money in doing so that it impoverished musicians. Now the company is turning its attention to books with a new offering. It will do the same thing to writers, whose audiobooks Spotify has begun streaming in a new and more damaging way.

We’ve read this story before. Tech platforms and their algorithms have a tendency to reward high-performing creators — the more users they get, the more likely they are to attract more. In Spotify’s case, that meant that in 2020, 90 percent of the royalties it paid out went to the top 0.8 percent of artists, according to an analysis by Rolling Stone.

That leaves the vast majority — including many within even that small group — struggling to earn a living. The promise of the business strategy laid out in the book “The Long Tail” was that a slew of niche creators would prosper on the internet. That has proved illusory for most content creators. It’s a winner-takes-all game; too often the tech platforms aggregating the content and the blockbusters win it all, starving the vast majority of creators. The result is a gradual deterioration of our culture, our understanding of ourselves and our collective memories.

This is why regulation is so crucial. Before writing books, I worked at Google, leading three large sales and operations teams and before that, I was a senior policy adviser at the Federal Communications Commission. What I learned is that today’s tech platforms are different from the kind of monopolies of an earlier era that inspired our regulatory framework. Their networks can have powerful positive or negative impacts. We don’t want to regulate away the value they can create, but the damage they can cause is devastating. We need a regulatory framework that can distinguish between them….

(7) DIVIDED AGAINST ITSELF. The Hollywood Reporter cues up the “Civil War Trailer: Kirsten Dunst Stars in Politically Charged Movie”.

Alex Garland‘s mysterious Civil War is coming into focus with its politically charged first trailer.

As the trailer reveals, Kirsten Dunst stars as a journalist living in a near future in which 19 states have seceded from the Union, with Western Forces (including California and Texas) and the Florida Alliance among those in the conflict. Meanwhile, the three-term President of the United States, played by Nick Offerman, has ordered air strikes on U.S. soil against these forces.

“Every time I survived a war zone, I thought I was sending a warning home: don’t do this,” Dunst’s character says as she attempts to reach Washington, even as forces close in on the city….

(8) MEMORY LANE.

[Written by Cat Eldridge from a selection by Mike Glyer.]

1962 A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess is a work that I saw and read but once in both cases but is still inedible upon my mind’s eye. 

The novel was published first by William Heinemann Ltd., in 1962 and I read in University in a literature class taught by professor who very obviously thought SF was cool as Le Guin and Bradbury were also included. I won’t say I like it but then I’m not into novels involving sexual violence. Very really not. 

Now the film was fascinating the way encountering a cobra was — Stanley Kubrick captured the dangerous of the characters in the book all too well. Still didn’t want to see it again, like not encountering a cobra again, but it was worth seeing once. 

So here’s our beginning.

What’s it going to be then, eh?

There was me, that is Alex, and my three droogs, that is Pete, Georgie, and Dim, Dim being really dim, and we sat in the Korova Milkbar making up our rassoodocks what to do with the evening, a flip dark chill winter bastard though dry. The Korova Milkbar was a milk-plus mesto, and you may, o my brothers, have forgotten what these mestos were like, things changing so skorry these days and everybody very quick to forget, newspapers not being read much neither. Well, what they sold there was milk plus something else. They had no licence for selling liquor, but there was no law yet against prodding some of the new veshches which they used to put into the old moloko, so you could peet it with vellocet or synthemesc or drencrom or one or two other veshches which would give you a nice quiet horrorshow fifteen minutes admiring Bog And All His Holy Angels and Saints in your left shoe with lights bursting all over your mozg.Or you could peet milk with knives in it, as we used to say, and this would sharpen you up and make you ready for a bit of dirty twenty-to-one, and that was what we were peeting this evening I’m starting off the story with.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born December 13, 1954 Emma Bull, 69. Damn, I can’t believe Emma Bull is sixty nine! My mind’s image of her is fixed upon her being the imperious sidhe queen in the War for the Oaks trailer shot way back in Will thinks 1994 according him just now in an email.

Her first novel. War for The Oaks was published in paperback by Ace Books thirty-six years ago. And then that publisher promptly tied up the rights so that it would be fourteen years before Tor Books could release another edition. Yeah Emma wasn’t happy. 

It, along with Bone Dance which would be nominated for a Hugo at MagiCon, and Finder: A Novel of The Borderlands show, I believe, a remarkably great writer of genre fiction. 

I’m pleased to say that I have personally signed copies of all of them. Two of them for Oaks, one not long after she broke both forearms at a Minneapolis RenFaire and another after they’d moved to Bisbee, Arizona and she’d healed up quite a bit. 

(I absolutely love Finder: A Novel of The Borderlands love which is along with the two novel written by Wills are the only novel in Terri Windling’s Bordertown universe. I still, sort of spoiler alert, makes me sniff every time I read it.) 

(Not to say I that I don’t love War for the Oaks and Bone Dance as I do. I cannot count how many times I’ve read each one of them.) 

Will Shetterly and Emma Bull in 1994. Photo from Wikipedia.

Now about that trailer. It was financed by Will at his own expense from money originally intended first and run first the governorship of Minnesota. Emma as I said is the sidhe Queen here and I know any of you that were active in Minnesota fandom back then will no doubt be able to tell me who many of the performers are here as Will tells me that many of them came from local fandom. 

(I really do need to do an in-depth interview with him about this sometime.)

The music is by Flash Girls and Cats Laughing. Emma was in both, and some of the music the latter played is referred to in the novel as being played by Eddi and the Fey. (Cats Laughing didn’t form until after the novel.) Lorraine Garland, Gaiman’s administrative assistant at that time, was the other half of the Flash Girls. 

Lorraine went to found another group, Folk Underground, whose tasteful black t-shirt of, one moment while I look, three skeleton musicians (violinist, guitarist, accordionist) in coffins I have twenty years in remarkably good shape. 

Oh, the screenplay did later get published. It’s an interesting read. 

So what else? There’s Liavek, a most excellent fantasy trade city akin to one Aspirin did. She and Will edited the many volumes of them on Ace with, and I think this a complete listing, Gene Wolfe, Steven Brust, Jane Yolen, Patricia Wrede, Emma Bull, Nancy Kress, Kara Dalkey, Pamela Dean, Megan Lindholm, Barry Longyear and Will Shetterly. Generally speaking, they’re all fine reading, lighter in tone that Thieves’ World is.

Finally there’s the Shadow Unit series which created by her and Elizabeth Bear. If you like X-Files, you’ll love this series as it’s obvious that both of them are deep lovers of that series and their FBI unit, the Anomalous Crimes Task Force, could well exist in the same universe.  

Well there’s one more that reflect their deep love of the Deadwood video series, her Territory novel. This is certainly one of the more unique tellings of Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, the Clantons and what happened there. I particularly like the dialogue heron, some of the best I’ve seen anywhere.

And no, this doesn’t by any means cover everything as she wrote some truly great short fiction set in the Borderlands universe, not to mention the novel she wrote with Stephen Brust, Freedom & Necessity which I could write an entire essay on. Wait I did, didn’t I? She even did space opera of sorts in Falcon. And there’s a wonderful children’s book that she sent Green Man to review, The Princess and the Lord of Night

(10) LOOKS GREEN TO HIM. For what it’s worth, someone is reporting “’Dune: Messiah’ Greenlit by Warner Bros, 2027 Release Date Eyed” says World of Reel.

…As for “Dune: Messiah,” the trilogy capper, we have an update on that project, and it seems to be picking up some major steam. At this point, its future making is turning into an inevitability. Here’s Jeff Sneider, via his newsletter:

“I’m already hearing rumblings that WB is so bullish on Villeneuve’s vision for Dune that ‘Part Three’ has already been greenlit with a 2027 release date in mind. WB sees Part Two as a home run, and internally, I’m hearing the studio is already projecting an opening north of $100 million. That may be optimistic, but given the trailer above, hardly out of the question….”

(11) ODD NOGGIN. [Item by Steven French.] Shirley this can’t be true?! (Sorry – channeling Airplane! there …) Gastro Obscura introduces readers to the “Head of the Egopantis”. “The head of a legendary creature allegedly killed during colonial times is now on display at a local restaurant.” Unlike Bigfoot and Nessie, this one supposedly has left remains.

… According to legend, the Egopantis was a mighty and terrifying creature that once roamed the woods behind the tavern instilling fear among the locals. One evening, a Captain named Nathaniel Smith spotted the creature wading through the Mulpus Brook and took aim with his musket. He fired mortally wounding the creature which charged across the brook before succumbing to its injuries. The colossal Egopantis had been felled with its head and the musket both on display ever since….

(12) IT’S A SMALL WORLD. “Researchers Develop Tiny Cute VR Goggles For Mice With Big Implications” at HotHardware. Daniel Dern quips, “Raptors seldom strafe passes/at meeces with VR glasses.”

Virtual reality can be an immersive way to play games, experience new environments, or consume and learn new content for anyone of any age. With that philosophy in mind, scientists have expanded the use cases of VR to rodents to enable new pathways and possibilities in neuroscience with tiny mouse-sized VR goggles that simulate environments better than ever before.

Earlier this week, researchers from Northwestern University published research outlining a new mouse VR goggle system called Miniature Rodent Stereo Illumination VR, or iMRSIV system….

(13) SUPERCONDENSATION. From 10 years ago, “Superman 75th Anniversary Animated Short”.

From the creative minds of Zack Snyder (Man of Steel) and Bruce Timm (Superman: The Animated Series) and produced by Warner Bros. Animation, this short follows Superman through the years, from his first appearance on the cover of Action Comics #1 to Henry Cavill in this year’s Man of Steel…all in two minutes!

(14) NIHILISTIC ALIENS. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Science and Futurism with Isaac Arthur spent his monthly Sci-Fi Sunday looking at nihilistic aliens.

Many doubt whether existence has any purpose or meaning, but could entirely civilizations become nihilistic. Would this spell their doom? And if not, what would they be like?

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Ersatz Culture, Andrew Porter, Steven French, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, and SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]

Pixel Scroll 8/4/23 Brush Up Your Star Trek

(1) THIRD SELF-PUBLISHED SCIENCE FICTION COMPETITION OPENS TODAY. Hugh Howey’s third annual Self-Published Science Fiction Competition (SPSFC) is now taking submissions. Are you an indie science fiction writer looking for a wider audience? Check the guidelines here. Submit here.

(2) CHIANG AND BENDER IN CONVERSATION. UW Professor of Linguistics Emily M. Bender talks with award-winning science fiction author Ted Chiang about the nature of creativity and the role of the author amid rising concerns about AI-generated storytelling. Moderated by Jeopardy! champion and Phinney Books owner Tom Nissley. November 10, 2023 at 7:30 p.m.

This event is a fundraiser for Clarion West. VIP tickets and meet-and-greet reception go on sale on Monday, August 7.

(3) CLARION WEST FALL CLASS SCHEDULE. Registration is open now.

Fall classes are here! We’ve got an exciting line-up of instructors, classes, and workshops. Registration is open now. Come learn with us!

(4) BOGUS BARKER. Writer Beware’s Victoria Strauss reports on somone impersonating her in “Dogging the Watchdog: In Which a Scammer Tries to Troll Me”.

…If you read here regularly, you’ll know that I’ve written a lot of posts about the impersonation scams that are becoming increasingly common. Well, an enterprising scammer recently decided to turn the tables…by impersonating me…

The [email protected] email address, of course, is bogus, and the scammer has added “literary agent” to my resume (which I am not, even though people sometimes mistakenly believe I am). And for added authenticity, a photo of me! Swiped from my personal Facebook page. (I’m sure the scammer would have preferred something unflattering, but I rarely post photos of myself–this post should make it clear why–so they didn’t have a lot to choose from.)

Obviously I would not want anyone to be defrauded in my name, so I enlisted a couple of the writers to write back to see what would happen. After a week with no replies, it seemed pretty clear that–as I’d half-suspected, especially given the stupidity of the fake email address –the email was a trolling attempt and not a bona fide scheme to scam.

Trolling doesn’t deliver the emotional satisfaction the troll craves unless the trollee knows they’re being trolled, though. And the scammer did want me to know…. 

(5) OLD BRIDGE (NJ) PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE FICTION DISCUSSION GROUP DISBANDING. Evelyn Leeper told MT Void readers today:

After twenty years of meeting, the Old Bridge Public Library science fiction discussion group is disbanding.  Given that the last few meetings have been only three or four people, that sounds a bit more dramatic than it really is.  Our final book was THIS IS HOW YOU LOSE THE TIME WAR by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone (Saga Press, ISBN 978-1-534-43100-3) and all three of us disliked it, so we have referred to this as THIS IS HOW YOU KILL THE DISCUSSION GROUP.  The book swept all the major awards for novellas, so we are clearly in some sort of minority here.

But it was not really the book that killed the group, but the gradual drifting away of members.  We tried both Zooming and in-person meetings. but though we had weathered the pandemic, the return to other opportunities for socializing et al made it harder to get people to attend….

(6) BACK TO THE FUTURE MUSICAL. The Hollywood Reporter favorably reviews “’Back to the Future: The Musical’ Review: Stage Adaptation on Broadway”.

…The creators of Back to the Future: The Musical weren’t taking any chances.

The production, newly arrived on Broadway after a London engagement that snagged a 2022 Olivier Award for Best New Musical, begins with the stirring main theme of the 1985 film’s score, garnering loud cheers from the audience. The book, with some minor exceptions, recreates the screenplay beat for beat and in some cases line for line. And the performances hew closely to those of the movie’s lead actors, with Hugh Coles, playing Marty McFly’s father George, imitating Crispin Glover so closely that it’s hard to tell whether it’s tribute or appropriation.

None of this is surprising, considering that original co-screenwriter Bob Gale has written the musical’s book and original composer Alan Silvestri, in collaboration with Glen Ballard (GhostJagged Little Pill), its score. What is surprising is how effective and damn fun it all is.

(7) REFERENCE DIRECTOR. Daniel Dern’s Scroll title, inspired by the musical Star Trek episode, he would like to remind everyone, is a reference to “Brush Up Your Shakespeare” from Kiss Me, Kate — which, by coincidence, came from a Cole Porter musical as did the song that kicked off the musical episode.

(8) CHILDREN’S BOOK PUBLISHER REMEMBERED. The Washington Post’s recalls the impact on children’s literature of Ursula Nordstrom (1910-1988) in “The fighter behind many of the most beloved children’s books of all time”.

…Hired as a clerk in 1931 at what was then Harper & Brothers (later Harper & Row, now HarperCollins), Nordstrom became an assistant in the department of books for boys and girls five years later. In 1954, she became the first woman elected to the Harper board of directors, and its first female vice president in 1960. She was referred to (and referred to herself) as the Maxwell Perkins of children’s literature. Perkins was an editor who built his career and reputation on seeking out and supporting new writers such as Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Thomas Wolfe. Over more than three decades, beginning in earnest in 1940, Nordstrom shepherded, chivied and gently bullied some of the greatest works of children’s literature into life. Those books included “Goodnight Moon,” “Where the Wild Things Are,” “Harriet the Spy,” “Little Bear,” “Harold and the Purple Crayon,” “Charlotte’s Web,” “Stuart Little,” “Bedtime for Frances,” “Where the Sidewalk Ends” and “Freaky Friday.”

Nordstrom’s spectacular eye for talent and many “firsts” as a mid-century career woman were not the most remarkable things about her. She believed in truth for children, even when it made adults uncomfortable. She prioritized children’s needs over reactionary parental qualms and rallied a fierce defense of realistic themes in books for young people. Her stance should be recognized, now more than ever, as a model for fighting back against censoriousness, grandstanding and patronizing of children masquerading as protecting them…

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 4, 1923 Paul Schneider. He wrote scripts for the original Star TrekStar Trek: The Animated SeriesThe StarlostThe Six Million Dollar Man, and Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. He’s best remembered for two episodes of the Trek series: “Balance of Terror” and “The Squire of Gothos.” “Balance of Terror,” of course, introduced the Romulans. (Died 2008.)
  • Born August 4, 1937 David Bedford. Composer who worked with Ursula K. Le Guin to produce and score her Rigel 9 album which the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction says is ‘a work that is musically pleasant although narratively underpowered.’ I’ve not heard it, so cannot say how accurate this opinion is. The not usual suspects such as iTunes have as their Meredith Moment for just seven dollars. (Died 2011.)
  • Born August 4, 1944 Richard Belzer. A long non-genre career as John Munch, for 23 years starting on Homicide: Life on the Street and then Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and related series which made him only the third actor ever to play the same character in six different prime time TV series. In the Third Rock from The Sun series as himself, also the Species II film and an adaption of Heinlein’s The Puppet Masters, along with series work too in The X-FilesThe InvadersHuman Target, and a recurring role in the original Flash series to name a few of his genre roles. (Died 2023.)
  • Born August 4, 1950 Steve Senn, 73. Here because of his Spacebread duology, Spacebread and Born of Flame. Spacebread being a large white cat known throughout the galaxy as an adventuress and a rogue. He’s also written the comic novels, Ralph Fozbek and the Amazing Black Hole Patrol and Loonie Louie Meets the Space Fungus
  • Born August 4, 1968 Daniel Dae Kim, 55. First genre role was in the NightMan series, other roles included the Brave New World TV film, the second Fantasy Island of three series, recurring roles on Lost, Gavin Park on Angel and Lieutenant John Matheson on Crusade, the Babylon 5 spinoff Crusade series, Star Trek: VoyagerCharmed and voice work on Justice League Unlimited.
  • Born August 4, 1969 Fenella Woolgar, 54. Agatha Christie in “The Unicorn and The Wasp” episode of Doctor Who, my favorite episodewhere she more than capably played off against David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor. Her only other genre was as Helena in A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester.
  • Born August 4, 1981 Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, 42. Yes, she’s done a genre performance or so. To be precise, she showed up on Fringe in the first two episodes of the second season (“A New Day in the Old Town” and “Night of Desirable Objects”) as Junior FBI Agent Amy Jessup. She was also in the “First Knight” episode of Knight Rider as Annie Ortiz, and Natasha in “A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Lose” on Century City, a series most of you have likely never heard of. 

(10) DOCUMENTING POP CULTURE. Steven Heller interviews ephemera collector and student of popular culture Richard Marschall: T “What To Do With All This Ephemera” in PRINT Magazine.

What do the comics, satiric magazines and newspapers in your holdings teach you? And what do they say, through your books and exhibits, to your audience?

…But I never wanted to deconstruct to the point of denying construction in the first place. In
the 1970s I reveled to a popular culture symposium that invited me because of my “informed” attitudes on the comics as an art form. Yet every speech, roundtable and Q&A dealt with comics as mere conduits—“What did Dick Tracy say about crime?” Not, “What expressive dynamics did Chester Gould employ to communicate in revolutionary ways?” Arrested development. This academic myopia was maddening. The graphics community at one time was similarly dismissive, as you know as well as anyone, may I confidently say?

So even unconsciously I amassed a collection of comics, sections, clips, original art, magazine runs, bound volumes of newspapers, books, toys, postcards, posters and such … with the goal, instinctive as it actually was, to be in a position to document all this, and with a mature cultural perspective. And, no less earnestly, to help others who sought to do so….

(11) YOU ARE THERE. A day like any other day, but — Ersatz Culture says this news story involves his local library!

(12) WIMPS. [Item by Steven French.] Dark stars observed! No it’s nothing to do with the John Carpenter and Dan O’Bannon movie. Astronomers have closely examined recent images produced by the James Webb Space Telescope and concluded that they reveal ancient stars powered by dark matter. “Stars powered by dark matter may have been seen by the JWST” at Physics World.

… In 2007, Freese and colleagues proposed the possibility of “dark stars”, which may have been common in the early universe. While composed mostly of hydrogen and helium, these exotic stars would be fuelled by “dark matter heating” rather than nuclear fusion. This could involve a type of dark matter called weakly interacting massive particles (WIMPs). WIMPs have evaded discovery for decades in Earth-based detection experiments, but according to Freese’s team, the sheer density of dark matter in the early universe could cause them to interact far more frequently with regular matter during the formation of some of the earliest stars.

In the early universe, “WIMPs could have annihilated into photons, electron-positron pairs, and other particles, which collided with the hydrogen in collapsing clouds,” Freese explains. “These particles then get stuck inside the cloud, and deposit all the energy from the mass of the dark matter particles into the cloud. The cloud then stops collapsing, and instead turns into a ‘dark star’.”…

(13) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] The concept of the space elevator was popularized by Arthur Clarke’s Fountains of Paradise.

The idea is that a cable from the equator (Ceylon/Sri Lanka was geographically moved in Clarke’s novel) to a large satellite/small asteroid, in geosynchronous orbit, can be used to haul payload very cheaply into Earth orbit.

This concept has been further explored before by Isaac Arthur on his Science Futurism channel. Isaac has just taken this concept further by considering the advantages of a space elevator on the Moon…

A Space Elevator on the Moon, made of mundane materials, could be built with modern technology, and allow ultra-cheap freight off the Moon

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

Pixel Scroll 7/29/23 Glass Pixels Are Good For Seeing Into The Hearts Of Scrolls

(1) CLASSIC CAR WITH AN SFF PEDIGREE. J. Michael Straczysnki told Facebook readers he needs a taker for the late Harlan Ellison’s 1947 Packard.

For the last six months, we’ve talked to just about every vintage car company in existence about buying Harlan’s 1947 Packard, to no avail. It’s not an especially collectible car, not in great condition, not worth much on the market, and nobody we spoke to knew who Harlan was or felt that this added to its market value.

We need to get the car out of the garage where it’s been sitting, exposed to the elements, every day for almost ten years because the plan is to turn the open garage into an enclosed, on-site storage and work area to make it easier to work on the house, rotate out equipment, and store display cabinets and other items to be used for exhibitions. But I really don’t want to just sell it for parts because it hurts my heart.

Knowing Harlan, I think he’d want the Packard to end up in the hands of a fan who could appreciate it, look after it, maybe fix it up over time. Which brings me here. If there’s a stone Harlan fan who can arrange to have the car (safely) picked up and transported away, it’s yours.

(And to everyone looking on: please don’t send me suggestions or links or say “well, what about this company?” or “I think I know a guy” or “what about an SF museum somewhere” because we have spent half a year chasing that stuff down and come up empty every time. We have to start the process of transforming the garage into on-site storage and as a place for the contractors currently making repairs to the house to seek refuge from the bitter heat. It’s been a long, difficult and annoying process, with so many folks flaking out on us, so honestly, just don’t.)

Any takers? Serious only. Must be able to pick it up by no later than the end of August.

UPDATED TO ADD: Despite the very clear request not to post more dead-end solutions, true to the tradition of the Internet, people keep posting the very thing they’re being asked not to post. I don’t mean to be crotchety about it, but I don’t know how to express it any more clearly: the only posts here should be from folks interested in taking the car, so if we can keep the signal to noise ratio to a minimum that would be grand. Otherwise every time I get pinged with a notification and think, oh, good, we have someone who can take the car, I come back to…the opposite.

Harlan Ellison wrote about his love for that Packard here.

I’m sitting in my car, my car is a 1947 Packard. I got a current car. I drive that one, but I love the Packard. I love the Packard because it was built to run, built to last. You could hit this car with 200 small Japanese cars and they would be demolished into ashes. When I go past a grade school little kids have no idea what this car is. They have no idea it was made in 1947. They don’t even know there was a year called 1947. But they see this car go by and they give me that (thumbs up & OK signs) and that means they recognize something that is forever, like the pyramids….

(2) X NO LONGER MARKS THE SPOT. Charlie Jane Anders has pulled the plug on her X (formerly Twitter) account. It’s gone. “If you see me on Twitter, it’s not me”. She tells why another common strategy for leaving the platform wouldn’t work for her:

…. Many, many people have advised me to delete all of my tweets, lock my account, and simply stop tweeting. Their argument is that someone else could take my username and impersonate me, which feels like a real, serious issue — but if I leave my account inactive for long enough, Twitter will probably take my username away and let someone else take it in any case. So I apologize in advance to anyone who sees a fake Charlie Jane on Twitter and gets confused. It’s not me, I swear. (And that’s part of why I’m writing this newsletter: so people can point to it if there’s any confusion.)

I feel the need to make a clean break from Twitter at this point. After all of the proliferation of hate speech, and the random shutdowns of progressive accounts that challenge the owner’s rigid orthodoxy, I was already wanting to make a break for it. But after the latest scandals involving CSAM, I really feel as though I have no choice. And the “clean break” thing feels important — to be honest, I don’t entirely trust myself not to log in a month from now when I have something to announce, unless I delete the account entirely….

(3) CELEBRATE BRATMAN’S HALF-CENTURY OF SCHOLARSHIP. A collection of David Bratman’s nonfiction, Gifted Amateurs, has been released by the Mythopoeic Press.

For more than four decades, David Bratman has established himself as a leading authority on J.R.R. Tolkien, the Inklings, and the enchanting realms of fantasy literature. Bratman’s scholarly articles, captivating Mythopoeic Conference presentations, and esteemed editorial work for the newsletter Mythprint and the journal Tolkien Studies: An Annual Scholarly Review have solidified his expertise. Now, in celebration of his profound contributions and recent distinction as the Scholar Guest of Honor at Mythcon 52, the Mythopoeic Press proudly presents Gifted Amateurs and Other Essays, an extraordinary collection of some of Bratman’s most insightful, engaging, and intellectually stimulating works.

Within these pages, discover the untold stories behind the “Top Ten Rejected Plot Twists from The Lord of the Rings,” unravel the religious themes woven throughout Middle-earth, and delve into the surprising origins of hobbit names. Guided by Bratman’s unwavering curiosity and scholarly passion, explore the fascinating history of the Inklings and how they connect to the boundless expanse of the Pacific Ocean, unearth the dramatic works of Lord Dunsany and the overlooked masterpiece of Mervyn Peake, and revel in the mythopoeic genius of Roger Zelazny. Seamlessly blending scholarship and entertainment, Gifted Amateurs and Other Essays invites readers on a journey that illuminates the true essence and enduring power of mythopoeic storytelling.

David Bratman has been writing Tolkien scholarship for nearly 50 years. He’s been co-editor of Tolkien Studies: An Annual Scholarly Review since 2013 and has edited its annual “Year’s Work in Tolkien Studies” since 2004. In addition to contributing to Tolkien scholarship, Bratman has published works on Charles Williams, C.S. Lewis, Ursula Le Guin, Mervyn Peake, Neil Gaiman, and others. Now a retired academic librarian, Bratman also was editor of the Mythopoeic Society’s members’ bulletin Mythprint for 15 years and worked on many Mythopoeic Conferences, including serving twice as chair.

(4) SDCC SOUVENIR BOOK. The 2023 San Diego Comi-Con souvenir book can be downloaded as a free PDF here.

(5) WANT TO BE A SPSFC JUDGE? The Self-Published Science Fiction Competition is recruiting judges for its third season. Apply here.

(6) YEARS PASS AND THESE ARE STILL LIVE ISSUES. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] SAG-AFTRA and producers are still at odds over many things. But, at least they have seemingly agreed to end the large majority of paintdowns and wiggings. 

Wait, what?

“Ending One of the Last Vestiges of Blackface in Hollywood” in Rolling Stone.

As SAG strikes, stunt performers have proposed one thing the union and studios can agree on: a new process to end controversial “paintdowns” and “wiggings”

Actor Jason George was a few years into his career when he secured his first starring role in a movie. It was the early 2000s, and he’d been cast as a co-lead in a mountain climbing flick called The Climb. He was excited for the prospect of a break until he walked into a trailer one day and saw a white man “wearing my wardrobe, my helmet, my climbing harness, and they’re putting makeup on him to make him look like me.”

George, who is Black, was stunned. 

“I did a double take — if you’d shot it for a movie, [my reaction] would’ve been too much, too big,” he tells Rolling Stone. “I stepped out to make sure I was in the right place, came back in, and said, ‘What is happening?’ And they said, ‘This is your stunt double.’”

What George had walked in on was a “paintdown.” It wasn’t blackface in the traditional sense of a minstrel show, but it was also definitely blackface. One of Hollywood’s many seedy little secrets, a paintdown is when the skin of a white stunt performer is darkened so they can double for an actor of color — rather than just hiring a stunt performer of the same ethnicity….

In the 20-odd years since, paintdowns and “wiggings” — a similar practice where, instead of hiring a stuntwoman, a man is dressed up to double a woman — have been on the decline, but they’re far from eradicated….

(7) A LITTLE MISTAKE. [Item by Kevin Hogan.] I always start my Hugo ballot early, based on what I nominated.  In case I’m abducted by aliens, at least my initial preferences will be taken into account.

The website itself is nicely done, and the ranking of choices is easy enough.  No way to accidentally rank multiple entries the same number with a drag and drop system. 

I feel that the English proofreading on the nominees might need another pass, though.  Unless Rachel Hartman truly is the secret 7th member of Monty Python.

Editor’s note: In case that’s too hard to read, we’re talking about Lodestone Award finalist Rachel Hartman’s In the Serpent’s Wake. When I voted today I copied the Chinese characters for Hartman’s work and ran them through Google Translate. It returned “Monty Python – Rachel Hartman (Random Children’s Books)” in English. The self-same Chinese text is part of the 2023 Hugo finalists press release.

(8) ROLL BACK THE RED CARPET. The New York Times is reporting “With Actors on Strike, Sony Pushes Big Releases to 2024”.

…Sony Pictures Entertainment on Friday pushed back the release of two major films that had been set to arrive in theaters by the end of the year — the Marvel Comics-based “Kraven the Hunter” and a sequel to “Ghostbusters: Afterlife.”

In addition, Sony is postponing some of its big 2024 releases. “Spider-Man: Beyond the Spider-Verse,” is no longer on track for a March premiere, and a new “Karate Kid” will no longer arrive in June.

Until now, the 2023 theatrical release schedule had been left relatively unscathed by the actors’ strike, which started on July 14. But other studios are likely to follow Sony’s lead. Warner Bros. has been debating whether to postpone “Dune: Part Two,” which is supposed to arrive in theaters on Nov. 3. “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom,” a big-budget superhero sequel, and “The Color Purple,” based on the Broadway musical, are among other 2023 holiday-season movies that could be delayed….

(9) BO GOLDMAN (1932-2023.) [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Bo Goldman is probably best known as the screenwriter for One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, but many of his films received acclaim. He won two Oscars (for Cuckoo’s Nest plus Melvin and Howard) and was nominated for a third (for Scent of a Woman). Goldman died July 25. Read Variety’s tribute: “Bo Goldman, Oscar-Winning Writer of ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ Script, Dies at 90”.

His only completed and credited genre work appears to be the script for Meet Joe Black (1998)—starring Brad Pitt as Joe Black, aka Death. He did also do uncredited script revisions for 1990’s Dick Tracy.

In an alternate reality, we could’ve seen Goldman’s take on the King Kong story. In 1975 he wrote a script for a Universal film, to be called The Legend of King Kong. It went unproduced after Paramount and Dino DeLaurentis sued in favor of their own 1976 release of King Kong. (Source: IMDb, Trivia section of his entry.)

Goldman is also credited as one of the sources for a fan-produced King Kong film from 2016

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 29, 1888 Farnsworth Wright. Editor of Weird Tales, editing an amazing 179 issues from November 1924–March 1940. Mike Ashley in EoSF says, “Wright developed WT from a relatively routine horror pulp magazine to create what has become a legend.” His own genre fiction is generally considered undistinguished. He also edited during the Thirties, Oriental Stories and The Magic Carpet. The work available digitally is a poem, “After Two Nights of the Ear-ache”. He was nominated at Loncon 3 for a Best Editor Retro Hugo. (Died 1940.)
  • Born July 29, 1907 Melvin Belli. Sole genre role is that of Gorgan (also known as the “Friendly Angel”) in the Star Trek “And the Children Shall Lead” episode. Koenig objected to his playing this role believing the role should have gone to someone who was an actor. (Died 1996.)
  • Born July 29, 1915 Kay Dick. Author of two genre novels, The Mandrake Root and At Close of Eve, plus a collection, The Uncertain Element: An Anthology of Fanta. She is known in Britain for campaigning successfully for the introduction of the Public Lending Right which pays royalties to authors when their books are borrowed from public libraries. They which may or may not be genre is her only work available at the usual suspects. (Died 2001.)
  • Born July 29, 1927 Jean E. Karl. Founder of Atheneum Children’s Books, where she edited Ursula K Le Guin’s early Earthsea novels and Susan Cooper’s The Dark Is Rising series. An SF author as well for children and young adults, she wrote The Turning Place collection and three novels, Beloved Benjamin is WaitingBut We are Not of Earth and Strange Tomorrow. (Died 2000.)
  • Born July 29, 1941 David Warner. Being Lysander in that A Midsummer Night’s Dream was his first genre role. I’m going to do just highlights after that as he’s got far too extensive a genre history to list everything. So he’s been A Most Delightful Evil in Time Bandits, Jack the Ripper in Time After Time, Ed Dillinger / Sark In Tron, Father in The Company of Wolves, Chancellor Gorkon in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, The Creature in Frankenstein, voice of Ra’s al Ghul on Batman: The Animated Series and Abraham Van Helsing on Penny Dreadful. (Died 2022.)
  • Born July 29, 1955 Dave Stevens. American illustrator and comics artist. He created The Rocketeer comic book and film character. It’s worth noting that he assisted Russ Manning on the Star Wars newspaper strip and worked on the storyboards for Raiders of the Lost ArkThe Rocketeer film was nominated for a Hugo at MagiCon which was the year Terminator 2: Judgment Day won. (Died 2008.)
  • Born July 29, 1956 Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, 67. Author of the India set magical realist The Brotherhood of the Conch series. She also has three one-off novels, The Palace of Illusions, The Mistress of Spices, and The Forest of Enchantments.

(11) VALHALLA FOR FANZINES. Thanks to Heath Row, the late Marty Cantor’s 54 boxes have been delivered to the Eaton Collection at UC Riverside. See photos on FB.

Today a friend and I loaded a rented van with 54 boxes of science fiction fanzines and amateur press association bundles and mailings to donate to the Eaton collection at UC Riverside. The collection spans 1975 to the present day. It is a veritable treasure trove.

(12) A JOLLY PAIR OF FRIGHTENERS. Once upon a time in 1968, Boris Karloff and Vincent Price sang a duet on the Red Skelton Hour.

(13) IS THAT WATER THEY SEE? [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] There’s a pre-print just up on Nature in which an international collaboration of western European based astronomers has reported the detection of water in the terrestrial zone of a planet forming star system.

PDS 70 (V1032 Centauri) is a very young T Tauri star in the constellation Centaurus. Located 370 light-years (110 parsecs) from Earth, it has a mass of 0.76 M☉ and is approximately 5.4 million years old. The star has a protoplanetary disk containing two very early exoplanets, named PDS 70b and PDS 70c, which have previously been directly imaged by the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope. PDS 70b was the first confirmed protoplanet to be directly imaged.

Terrestrial and sub-Neptune planets are expected to form in the inner (less than 10 AU – 1 AU being the distance from Earth to the Sun) regions of protoplanetary disks.

The European astronomers’ findings show water in the inner disk of PDS 70. This implies that potential terrestrial planets forming therein have access to a water reservoir.

OK, before we get too excited 1) the edge of the detection is 1 AU (the distance from the Earth to our Sun) and 2) PDS 70 is smaller, hence cooler, K-type star than our Sun and so the habitable zone would closer in to the star than in the Solar System: further in than the 1AU detection limit.

OK, we can get a little excited. There has been a fair bit about water in proto-planetary systems recently and the over-all picture emerging does seem that it is likely that water might exist early in star systems’ lives in the habitable zone and not — as it is today either already on planets or alternatively on small bodies beyond planetary snow or frost line which in our system is beyond Jupiter. The reason it could exists so close in — as the pre-print alludes — is because proto-planetary systems have not yet has a star with solar wind clearing out all the interplanetary dust and gas: that came later.

Until recently, the conventional theory was that the Earth (and Mars) had water transported to it from beyond the snow line. by the more abundant comets in the early Solar system. Possibly these comets were driven inward by a migrating Jupiter to a more stable orbit, so providing the inner system with a late veneer or heavy bombardment of volatile rich comets. The picture that emerges is that water is more common — if not universal — in very early planetary systems and so planets forming there will have water.

The pre-print is Perotti, G. et al (2023) Water in the terrestrial planet-forming zone of the PDS 70 diskNature, vol. to be determined, pages to be determined.

(14) VASTER THAN EMPIRES. The Smithsonian discusses the challenges of “Preserving Launch Infrastructure” at the National Air and Space Museum.

Launching a rocket is a complex operation, requiring personnel, equipment, and infrastructure. Space agencies and companies around the world, therefore, build giant ground systems to support launches. One of the largest and best-known launch complexes is Launch Complex 39 (LC 39), which NASA has used at Florida’s Kennedy Space Center to stack and launch rockets for the Apollo, Skylab, Space Shuttle, and Artemis programs, among others.

All these programs have relied on a similar method of assembly. Apollo and Skylab’s Saturn V and Saturn IB, the Space Shuttle’s Space Transportation System, and Artemis’ Space Launch System (SLS) have all had their final construction inside the massive Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB). At 525 feet tall, the VAB is one of the largest buildings by volume in the world. Stacking the launch vehicle inside protects it from weather, including Florida’s frequent storms….

Both the mobile launch platforms and the CTs are enormous, meaning that they are both much too large to fit inside either of the National Air and Space Museum’s two locations. Even NASA does not have enough space to store the MLPs now that they will not be used for Artemis. At the same time, both structures are integral to the histories of three space programs. How can the Museum collect artifacts to tell this history? One way is through preserving representative components that can speak to the history, use, and scale of these pieces of infrastructure. 

From the Crawler Transporter, the Museum’s collection boasts two tread shoes. Seeing the shoes up close gives a sense of scale. Additionally, it is possible to see that these are shoes that have been used. Their wear and tear speaks to the heavy load that the CT carries as it moves the vehicle to the launch pad….

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. How It Should Have Ended works out the correct finish for “Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 3”. Actually, several correct finishes. Take your pick!

How Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 3 Should Have Ended. Starlord remembers his boots, The High Evolutionary visits the Villain Pub, The Guardians visit the Super Cafe, and Rocket Raccoon saves his friends.

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

Self-Published Science Fiction Competition 2 Won by Rory August

Rory August’s The Last Gifts of the Universe is the winner of the second Self-Published Science Fiction Competition.

The Self-Published Science Fiction Competition, created by Hugh Howey and Duncan Swan, is modeled after Mark Lawrence’s Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off, and has his blessing. The contest started with 300 novels and ten teams of book bloggers who read and scored the books through several elimination rounds.

In the final round the top seven books were read by all the judges. The teams’ scores for each finalist and links to their reviews are posted on the SPSFC website

The Tar Vol On review concisely sums up the winning story:

The Last Gifts of the Universe stars two siblings working for a non-profit that sends them to the stars, searching for records from dead civilizations, hoping to find some clue as to the nature of the disaster that has destroyed every known non-human society. In addition to the isolation of [Scout] traveling through space with just one human companion (there’s also a cat [Pumpkin]), the lead is still working through their grief over the death of their mother. And as if the psychological difficulties weren’t enough, there’s a much less ethical and better-funded group also tracking down dead civilizations in hopes of monopolizing alien technologies. 

Rory August tweeted this acceptance: “I am so grateful and so happy to see that Last Gifts resonated with so many readers and judges. I’m so proud of Scout and Pumpkin!”

Self-Published Science Fiction Competition 2 Finalists Announced

The finalists for the second Self-Published Science Fiction Competition were announced May 1.

  • Melody by David Hoffer
  • Aerstus, Book 1: The City by S. Z. Attwell
  • Hammer and Crucible by Cameron Cooper
  • The Last Gifts of the Universe by Rory August
  • Those Left Behind  by Nicola Scrimgeour
  • Night Music by Tobias F. Cabral
  • Percival Gynt and the Conspiracy of Days by Drew Melbourne

The Self-Published Science Fiction Competition, created by Hugh Howey and Duncan Swan, is modeled after Mark Lawrence’s Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off, and has his blessing. The contest started with 300 novels and ten teams of book bloggers who read and scored the books through several elimination rounds.

In the final round the top seven books will be read by all the judges. The teams’ scores for each finalist and links to their reviews will be posted at the SPSFC website. The winner is due to be announced July 15.

Pixel Scroll 2/1/23 By Scrollthar’s Pixel

(1) HUGO I.O.U. The Chengdu Worldcon’s Chinese-language website added a post today with the (computer-translated) headline: “The 2023 Hugo Award call for nominations is opening soon”. But there’s only a headline, no article – plus a playable 15-second audio sound effect.

No corresponding post was made to the convention’s English-language website.

(2) SPSFC UPDATE. Rcade’s Team ScienceFiction.news, in the midst of the second Self-Published Science Fiction Competition, is “Announcing Our SPSFC Semifinalists”. The titles are revealed at the link.

Each of the 10 teams judging the Self Published Science Fiction Competition (SPSFC) chooses three books from their allotments to be semifinalists.

After two months of reading, the ScienceFiction.news team has selected these three books as tribute. They will be sent to the Capitol, where they will engage in ferocious battle against the 27 books chosen by other teams until only one book remains standing.

Even a young adult book can be sent into battle in the SPSFC Games….

(3) TODAY IN HISTORY. The US space shuttle Columbia broke up on its way back to Earth on 1 February 1, 2003. It had been in use since 1981. 

In the BBC’s “Witness History – Columbia space shuttle disaster”, Iain Mackness spoke to Admiral Hal Gehman who was given the job of finding out what went wrong. The admiral’s report led to the ending of the American space shuttle program in 2011. 

The BBC World Service first broadcast this episode in 2019. 

(4) OMERTA IN THE CINEMA. Dayten Rose chronicles the “Spoiler Alert History: No Alarms and No Surprises, Please” at Tedium.

…When “spoiler warnings” got out of hand

Alfred Hitchcock got what he wanted.

On set, he had a reputation as a manipulator. That’s according to Diane Baker, as quoted in Tony Lee Moral’s Hitchcock and the Making of Marnie, alongside other accounts of his abusive relationship with Tippi Hedren.

Out of context, Hitchcock’s obsession with preserving the secrecy of Psycho looks a lot like a publicity stunt. He bought as many copies as he could of the novel he had adapted; he hired the famously non-controversial (sarcasm) Pinkerton security guards to bar late entry to the film; there were no private screenings; there were no pre-release interviews.

In the context of Alfred Hitchcock, his controlling air set a dangerous precedent for the future of Hollywood. The modern media embargo is the crater left behind by his meteoric ego….

(5) DIRECT FROM KRYPTON TO YOUR HEART. “Superman in Starring Role as DC Studios Unveils Strategy” reports the New York Times.

Superman is returning to theaters — only now, along with saving the world, he has to prove that Warner Bros. has finally, without question, it means it this time, found a winning superhero strategy.

DC Studios, a newly formed Warner division dedicated to superhero content, unveiled plans on Tuesday to reboot Superman onscreen for the first time in a generation, tentatively scheduling the yet-to-be-cast “Superman: Legacy” for release in theaters in July 2025. James Gunn, known for “Guardians of the Galaxy,” is writing the screenplay and may also direct the movie, which will focus on Superman balancing his Kryptonian heritage with his human upbringing.

“He is kindness in a world that thinks of kindness as old-fashioned,” said Peter Safran, chief executive of DC Studios, a title he shares with Mr. Gunn.

Moreover, “Superman: Legacy” will begin a story that will unfold (Marvel style) across at least 10 interconnected movies and TV shows and include new versions of Batman, Robin, Supergirl, Swamp Thing and Green Lantern. Those marquee DC Comics characters will be joined by lesser-known personalities from the DC library, including Creature Commandos and Booster Gold, a time traveler. One of the shows will explore Themyscira, the mythical island home of Wonder Woman.

The 10 projects will roll out over four to five years — at which time a second batch of related films and shows will be announced, expanding the “Superman: Legacy” saga to nearly a decade and perhaps helping David Zaslav, the chief executive of Warner Bros. Discovery, to keep a promise to Wall Street about growth….

(6) MIC DROPS OF KNOWLEDGE. Jean-Paul L. Garnier advises writers about “Mic Technique for Live Readings and Panels” at the Dream Foundry.

As an author, you will probably find yourself reading live at events at some time or another and it’s important to make yourself heard by your audience Paying attention to how a microphone works can greatly enhance your performance, and the audibility of your reading. After all, you are there to share your work with an audience, so it is worth doing what you can to make sure that they can hear you well and enjoy the performance without straining. It can be the difference between coming off as a professional rather than an amateur….

(7) MEMORY LANE.

1958 [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

A bit of bookkeeping: though I called this series First Paragraphs last Scroll, but I’m renaming it Beginnings as I want to quote more than the first paragraph if need be. Such will be the case with the selection tonight if the beginning of Fritz Leiber’s The Big Time

This rather short novel, which is my favorite work by him, won a Hugo at Solacon.  I think it’s the only work I’ve read that takes place in a single location, but it really does strongly resemble a theater piece. 

It was published originally in two parts by Galaxy Magazine in March and April 1958 issues with illustrations by Virgil Finlay. 

Ace Books published the first paperback edition in 1965, and Gregg Press would eventually do a hardcover edition which I know I owned at some point. 

My name is Greta Forzane. Twenty-nine and a party girl would describe me. I was born in Chicago, of Scandinavian parents, but now I operate chiefly outside space and time—not in Heaven or Hell, if there are such places, but not in the cosmos or universe you know either. 

I am not as romantically entrancing as the immortal film star who also bears my first name, but I have a rough-and-ready charm of my own. I need it, for my job is to nurse back to health and kid back to sanity Soldiers badly roughed up in the biggest war going. This war is the Change War, a war of time travelers—in fact, our private name for being in this war is being on the Big Time. Our Soldiers fight by going back to change the past, or even ahead to change the future, in ways to help our side win the final victory a billion or more years from now. A long killing business, believe me. 

You don’t know about the Change War, but it’s influencing your lives all the time and maybe you’ve had hints of it without realizing. 

Have you ever worried about your memory, because it doesn’t seem to be bringing you exactly the same picture of the past from one day to the next? Have you ever been afraid that your personality was changing because of forces beyond your knowledge or control? Have you ever felt sure that sudden death was about to jump you from nowhere? Have you ever been scared of Ghosts—not the storybook kind, but the billions of beings who were once so real and strong it’s hard to believe they’ll just sleep harmlessly forever? Have you ever wondered about those things you may call devils or Demons—spirits able to range through all time and space, through the hot hearts of stars and the cold skeleton of space between the galaxies? Have you ever thought that the whole universe might be a crazy, mixed-up dream? If you have, you’ve had hints of the Change War.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born February 1, 1884 Yevgeny Zamyatin. Author of We, a dystopian novel. He also translated into Russian a number of H.G. Wells’ works and some critics think We is at least part a polemic against the overly optimistic scientific socialism of Wells. The Wiki writer for the Yevgeny Zamyatin page claims that We directly inspired Nineteen Eighty-FourThe Dispossessed and Brave New World. No idea if this passes the straight face test. What do y’all think of this claim? (Died 1937.)
  • Born February 1, 1908 George Pal. Animator, film director and producer. Let’s see…  Destination MoonWhen Worlds CollideThe War of the WorldsConquest of Space (anyone heard of this one?), The Time MachineAtlantis, the Lost ContinentTom ThumbThe Time MachineAtlantis, the Lost ContinentThe Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm7 Faces of Dr. Lao and his last film being Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze. Can we hold a George Pal film fest, pretty please? (Died 1980.)
  • Born February 1, 1942 Bibi Besch. Best remembered for portraying Dr. Carol Marcus on The Wrath of Khan. Genre-wise, she’s also been in The Pack (horror), Meteor (SF), The Beast Within (more horror), Date with an Angel (romantic fantasy) and Tremors (SF). She died much, much too young following a long battle with breast cancer. (Died 1996.)
  • Born February 1, 1942 Terry Jones. Co-directed Monty Python and the Holy Grail with Gilliam, and was sole director on two further Python movies, Life of Brian and Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life. His later films include Erik the Viking and The Wind in the Willows. It’s worth noting that he wrote the screenplay for the original Labyrinth screenplay but it’s thought that nothing of that made it to the shooting script. (Died 2020.)
  • Born February 1, 1946 Elisabeth Sladen. Certainly best known for her role as Sarah Jane Smith on Doctor Who. She was a regular cast member from 1973 to 1976, alongside the Third Doctor (Jon Pertwee) and Fourth Doctor (Tom Baker), and reprised her role down the years, both on the series and on its spin-offs, K-9 and Company and The Sarah Jane Adventures. It’s not her actual first SF appearance, that honor goes to her being a character called   Sarah Collins in an episode of the Doomwatch series called “Say Knife, Fat Man”. The creators behind this series had created the cybermen concept for Doctor Who. (Died 2011.)
  • Born February 1, 1954 Bill Mumy, 69. Well I’ll be damned. He’s had a much longer career in the genre than even I knew. His first genre role was at age seven on Twilight Zone, two episodes in the same season (Billy Bayles In “Long Distance Call” and Anthony Fremont in “Its A Good Life”). He makes make it a trifecta appearing a few years later again as Young Pip Phillips in “In Praise of Pip”. Witches are next for him. First in an episode of I Dream of Jeannie he’s Custer In “Whatever Became of Baby Custer?” Then in Bewitched he’s Darrin the Boy  in “Junior Executive”. Ahhh his most famous role is up next as Will Robinson in Lost in Space. It’s got to be thirty years since I’ve seen it but I still remember and like it quite a bit. He manages to show up next on The Munsters as Googie Miller in “Come Back Little Googie” and in Twilight Zone: The Movie In one of the bits as Tim. I saw the film but don’t remember him. He’s got a bunch of DC Comics roles as well — Young General Fleming in Captain America, Roger Braintree on The Flash series and Tommy Puck on Superboy. Ahhh Lennier. One of the most fascinating and annoying characters in all of the Babylon 5 Universe. Enough said. I hadn’t realized it but he showed up on Deep Space Nine as Kellin in the “The Siege of AR-558” episode. Lastly, and before Our Gracious Host starts grinding his teeth at the length of this Birthday entry, I see he’s got a cameo as Dr. Z. Smith in the new Lost in Space series. 
  • Born February 1, 1965 Brandon Lee. Lee started his career with a supporting role in Kung Fu: The Movie, but is obviously known for his breakthrough and fatal acting role as Eric Draven in The Crow, based on James O’Barr’s series. Y’ll know what happened to him so I’ll not go into that here except to say that’s it’s still happening as it just happened again and damn well shouldn’t be happening, should it? (Died 1993.)

(9) THE PITS. SYFY Wire cheers as “NBC Keeps The Sci-Fi Sinkhole Open! Time Travel Mystery Series ‘La Brea’ Renewed For Season 3”.

NBC will once again head down the primordial rabbit hole in a third season of La Brea, the network has announced….

Described by NBC as an “epic family adventure,” La Brea revolves around a group of characters fighting for their survival after a mysterious sinkhole in downtown Los Angeles sends them to a primeval land forgotten by time. A second storyline takes place “above ground,” where those who did not fall into the strange pit attempt to solve the mystery of what caused it to open up in the first place. The story has only gotten more ambitious and sci-fi as its unfolded, with everything from future conspiracies and time travel now playing a part in the narrative.

“This story is about this family that’s been separated. Half the family falls into the sinkhole, while the other half stays behind in modern Los Angeles,” creator and showrunner David Appelbaum told SYFY WIRE after the series premiere. “And what was really important for the storytelling is that you have ways to connect these two stories. Even though they’re separated, we find different ways that we can connect the story. In this search for how do we tell it in a unified story, that was really the genesis of [the series] idea.”…

However, Deadline thinks they might not get a full season: “NBC’s ‘La Brea’ Likely To End With Abbreviated Season 3 As Networks Start Building Strike Contingency”.

… I have learned that the pickup is for six episodes and that it was influenced by the possibility of a writers and/or directors and actors strike, with this likely being the show’s final chapter. Filming is slated to begin in March in Australia.

With the current WGA contract expiring May 1 and the DGA and SAG-AFTRA contracts up June 30, a potential work stoppage could impact the start of production on the new broadcast season, leaving the networks without fresh episodes of scripted series for the first few weeks of the fall.

Possibly with that in mind, I hear NBC approached the cast of La Brea about doing a short third season. Because the series regulars have a 10-episode minimum guarantee (meaning that they have to be paid at least 10 episodic fees a season regardless of how many episodes are produced), the network and sister studio Universal Television asked the cast to reduce their contractual minimum guarantees to six episodes, sources said. In exchange, I hear the actors were offered a release from the show after Season 3 — which they took — making them available to take other jobs. (A typical broadcast series regular contract is for six seasons.)…

(10) RARE EARTHS. In case you weren’t around in 1977 and would like to know… “Star Trek: Leonard Nimoy explains How Television Works – 1977 vintage tech electronics”.

The following film is an excerpt from a rare 1977 documentary on How Television Works, featuring Star Trek’s Leonard Nimoy as the narrator and presenter. The film is in full color with animation and excellent vintage footage of early television technology, including early video tape recording (VTR) machines. The original film is about 22 minutes long. We have obtained a 16mm print and will preserve it. This is a 7 minute excerpt highlighting Leonard Nimoy’s narration of the technology behind early television up to the 1970’s.

(11) WHAT PEOPLE WATCHED IN JANUARY. Here are JustWatch’s Top 10 lists for the month of January.

Rank*MoviesTV shows
1Everything Everywhere All at OnceSeverance
2M3GANThe Peripheral
3NopeThe Rig
4Jurassic World DominionDoctor Who
5AvatarWestworld
6InterstellarStargate SG-1
7Spider-Man: No Way HomeQuantum Leap
8Strange DaysThe X-Files
9Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless MindWar of the Worlds
10VesperThe Handmaid’s Tale

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

(12) DARTH’S BROTHER HAL. ScreenRant tempts readers to click through with its take that “2001 As Directed By George Lucas Is A Very Different Movie”.

…In 2001: A Space Odyssey Directed By George Lucas?, Kubrick’s famously glacial and brooding movie about a mission to Jupiter is transformed into a whiz-bang action movie. In this version of 2001, Dave Bowman has commandeered one of the Discovery One’s shuttles for an all-out battle against psychotic computer HAL 9000, climaxing in a moment that would make Luke Skywalker proud….

Made me smile, but not laugh out loud: “’2001: A Space Odyssey’ directed by George Lucas”.

(13) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In Stalled, a man goes to a public restroom — and gets trapped in a time paradox.

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

Pixel Scroll 12/3/22 A Credential Is Haunting Mount TBR

(1) 2023 SMOFCON AWARDED TO RHODE ISLAND. Massachusetts Convention Fandom Inc. (MCFI) has been voted the right to host the 2023 Smofcon in Providence, RI. The vote, taken this weekend at the Smofcon in Montreal, was Providence 37 and Sweden 28. The MCFI bid presentation can be accessed here.

The convention will be held December 1-3, 2023 at the Providence Marriott Downtown. The membership rates, good through February 28, 2023 are: Attending $50; Hybrid $35; Family/Con Suite Only $30.

(2) WHAT TO DO THE WEEK AFTER GLASGOW 2024. The Glasgow 2024 Worldcon will be held August 8-12, 2024. Information coming out of Smofcon indicates two cons will run the following weekend.

  • The Buffalo, NY 2024 NASFiC will be held August 15-18, 2024.
  • Eurocon 2024, which had announced plans to run in August, now is reported to be slotted into the weekend after Worldcon, although its website still does not show specific dates.

(3) FUTURE TENSE FICTION. The latest story in Future Tense Fiction’s monthly series of short stories is “Universal Waste, by Palmer Holton” at Slate, “about a small-town cop, a murder, and a massive recycling plant.”

It’s accompanied by waste management expert Josh Lepawsky’s response essay “Can we turn landfills into energy? The laws of thermodynamics have something to say”.

You handle waste every day. Tissues. Bottles and cans. Kitchen scraps, maybe yard trimmings. And plastics. So many plastics. The wet, the dry, the smelly, and the disgusting.

But the stuff you personally put in this or that bin is the tiniest part of all the waste that arises in the United States and other countries whose economies are premised on mass consumption. Although numbers are tricky here, something like 97 percent of all waste arising in the United States happens before you—as citizen and consumer—buy, use, and toss the things you need and want for your daily life. If you live in a typical American city, all the garbage and recycling you see getting picked up at the curb is just that remaining 3 percent of overall waste arising….

(4) SUSAN COOPER PRAISED. “Midwinter magic: Robert Macfarlane on the enduring power of The Dark Is Rising” in the Guardian. (The 12-part BBC audio adaption of The Dark Is Rising will be broadcast on the World Service from December 20, and on Radio 4 from December 26.)

I first read Susan Cooper’s The Dark Is Rising the summer I turned 13, the year the Berlin Wall came down. I read it by torchlight under the bedclothes, not because of parental curfew or power cut, but because that seemed the safest place to read what was, unmistakably, the eeriest novel I’d ever met.

Eeriness is different in kind to horror. Eeriness thrives in edge-of-the-eye glimpses; horror is full-frontal. The eerie lives in the same family of feelings as Freud’s “uncanny”, which in its original German, unheimlich, means “unhomely”. A core power of Cooper’s novel lies in its counterpointing of the homely and the unhomely. It opens in the domestic clamour of the Stanton family house, in a quiet English village in the upper Thames valley. It’s 20 December: the eve of both the winter solstice and the 11th birthday of Will, the youngest of the Stanton children. Inside the house, all is pre-Christmas chaos, baking smells and familiarity. But in the wintry landscape around, something is very wrong. Rooks are behaving strangely, dogs are suddenly afraid of Will, a blizzard is coming, and “a shadowy awareness of evil” is building. Will’s life is about to change for ever – for he will become caught up in an ancient battle between the forces of the Light and those of the Dark, which are always strongest at midwinter. His young shoulders are soon to bear an immense burden….

(5) KRESS Q&A. Media Death Cult brings fans “An Interview with Nancy Kress”.

Nancy Kress is a multiple Hugo and Nebula award winning science fiction author, a Professor of Literature and a lover of ballet. Her books include:
– BEGGARS IN SPAIN
– AFTER THE FALL, BEFORE THE FALL, DURING THE FALL –
– PROBABILITY MOON –
– OBSERVER (2023)

She discusses her work, the future of humanity and gives her top SF reads.

(6) DECEMBER IS HERE AND A PERSON’S MIND TURNS TO PRESENTS[Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Fancy an SFnal read? A reminder that in the autumnal edition of SF2 Concatenation, its news page has a listing of current SF book listings and brief blurbs from Britain’s major SF imprints. Also included are fantasy listings and popular science. These titles should be available in N. America at your favorite SF bookshop or online.

SF2 Concatenation has also just tweeted an advance post of a Best of Nature ‘Futures’ short story: “The Christmas Tree Barn” by Mary E. Lowd.  This one has a suitable theme for the festive season. What will Christmas trees be like in the Future? Remember, a Christmas tree is not just for Christmas!

(7) PEPPÉ REMEMBERED. The Guardian profiles the late Rodney Peppé who died October 27.

For more than 50 years Rodney Peppé, who has died aged 88, conjured up a wonderful world through the children’s books that he wrote and illustrated, together with the toys, models and automata that he made. In that world, daydreaming pigs dance, mice travel in time, and at the turn of a handle characters come to life. Two of these creations became stars for children’s television, Huxley Pig (Central TV, 1989, 1990) and Angelmouse (BBC, 1999).

Inspired by the painted and embellished wood models and sculptures of the British artist Sam Smith, as well as by Victorian toys, Rodney carefully crafted colourful toys and automata that displayed a playful charm and engaging, gentle wit, free from any dark undercurrents. A substantial collection of these, together with his book illustrations and archive, are now housed at Falmouth Art Gallery.

He authored more than 80 children’s books, including The Mice and the Clockwork Bus (1986), which was to become part of the national curriculum for seven-year-olds….

(8) MEMORY LANE.

1990 [By Cat Eldridge.] Alice in Wonderland in Guildford

Lewis Carroll spent much of his later years in rural Guildford. He had chosen it as he found that he really liked walking in that area, it had good train access to London, and he could access it easily by train from his home in Oxford.

So it’s not surprising that a sort of cottage industry has grown up there around him and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and its sequel Through the Looking-Glass

We have not one, but two Alice in Wonderland statues here with the first at Guildford Castle. It’s the more fantastical of the two. “Alice through the Looking Glass”, the life-size statue, is in Alice’s Garden on the eastern side of the castle. The statue depicts Alice trying to climb through the looking glass. Sculptor Jeanne Argent made the statue in 1990 to mark the link between Lewis Carroll and Guildford. It is modeled on the sculptor’s daughter Anne.

The second statue, “Alice & the White Rabbit”, is far more traditional. It depicts the book’s famous beginning where Alice follows a talking rabbit into a hole, leaving her older sister behind. So we have the two sisters and, of course, the white rabbit. 

Edwin Russell, the sculptor, who did this in 1984, got really obsessed about finding the perfect model for his white rabbit and looked at, errr, over five hundred! 

And please note that the sculptor gave Alice a bob-cut, so she has short-fringed hair, a relatively uncommon depiction of the character. And note that her sister is also depicted as a young girl, unlike the 1951 Disney film and most modern illustrations of her. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 3, 1918 Polly Freas. Fan and wife of SFF artist Frank Kelly Freas with whom she had 3 children. She was much loved in fandom. She and Kelly co-edited Wonderworks: Science Fiction and Fantasy Art by Michael Whelan, which was a Hugo finalist for Best Nonfiction Book. She was Guest of Honor at numerous conventions, and was given a Special Award by Southern Fandom. (Died 1987.)
  • Born December 3, 1922 Donald Tuck. Engineer, Writer, Editor, and Fan from Tasmania, Australia who discovered SF very young; by the time he was 18, he had co-edited three issues of the fanzine Profan, which included author bios and bibliographies. Considering the logistical difficulties of the time in terms of communication by snail mail – especially given the added difficulty due to WWII and the distance of Australia from the U.S. – his feat in amassing a huge collection of index cards with the details of hundreds of SFF works was impressive. In 1954, he collected those index cards into A Handbook of Science Fiction and Fantasy, a 151-page bibliography of the field; in 1959 he released a greatly-expanded and updated version, at 396 pages. He was given a Worldcon Special Award for this work. He continued to refine this over the years, and in 1974 produced the first volume of The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy through 1968: Who’s Who, for surnames starting A to L, followed four years later by Volume 2, for M to Z, and was recognized for this work with a World Fantasy Special Award. The third volume, a bibliography to accompany the two-volume encyclopedia of authors, editors, and artists, won a Hugo Award. He was to be Guest of Honor at the first Australian Worldcon; when he couldn’t attend, a group of fans went to visit him at his home. In 1985, he was given Fandom’s Big Heart Award. (Died 2010.) (JJ)
  • Born December 3, 1937 Morgan Llewelyn, 85. Ok, so what have I read by her is The Horse Goddess, as wonderful as is Grania: She-King of the Irish Seas and Lion of Ireland which I read a long time ago because the now closed Brian Boru Pub had just opened here and I was interested in his story. I later booked uilleann piper Paddy Keenan there. I got into a dispute a few mornings after with the Irish lads who ran the Pub who wanted their money back claiming no one showed up when in fact over ninety people at twenty dollars packed the upstairs and each drank at least three pints that night. How much Irish whisky was consumed I know not.  No, they didn’t get a cent back. 
  • Born December 3, 1949 Malcolm Edwards, 73. Writer, Editor, and Critic from England who is considered one of the field’s great editors. Early in his career, he joined the British Science Fiction Association, and served as editor of its journal Vector. He was extremely active in British fandom in the 60s and 70s, producing several fanzines, and was one of the co-founders of the semiprozine Interzone. In the 80s, he co-wrote several SFF nonfiction reference works. His work has influenced many fans’ reading: as SF editor for Gollancz, he launched the SF Masterworks series. He was Deputy CEO of the Orion Publishing Group until 2019. Although he is best known as an editor, his short story “After-Images” won a British Science Fiction Award, and has been included in five different anthologies. He chaired the 1987 Worldcon in Brighton, and was a Guest of Honor at Worldcon in London in 2014.
  • Born December 3, 1958 Terri Windling, 64. Author of The Wood Wife, winner of the Mythopoeic Award for Novel of the Year, she has deservedly won has won nine World Fantasy Awards, the Bram Stoker Award, and The Armless Maiden collection was on the short-list for the then named James Tiptree, Jr. Award. Along with Ellen Datlow, Windling edited sixteen volumes of the Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror  from 1986–2003. (Yes, the first volume is actually called Year’s Best Fantasy. I do have a full set here so I know that.) She is one of the core creative forces behind the mythic fiction emergence that began in the early Eighties through her work as an editor for the Ace and Tor Books fantasy lines, and they also edited a number of anthologies such as the superb Snow White, Blood Red series which collected the very best in contemporary fantasy. I’m very fond of her work with Illustrator Wendy Froud, wife of Brian Froud, on the Old Oak Wood series about faeries living in the Old Oak Wood.  She interviewed one of them, Sneezlewort Rootmuster Rowanberry Boggs the Seventh, for Green Man here.
  • Born December 3, 1960 Daryl Hannah, 62. She made her genre debut in Brian De Palma’s The Fury, though she’s better known as Pris in Blade Runner. And she was the mermaid Madison in Splash. In a decidedly unfashionable role, she was Ayala in The Clan of The Cave Bear before being Mary Plunkett Brogan in High Spirits which resulted in her being nominated for a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Supporting Actress. Was she really that bad in it? Her last genre role I think was in the Sense8 series as Angelica Turing, though she had a cameo as herself in Cosmic Radio.
  • Born December 3, 1968 Brendan Fraser, 54. The Mummy and The Mummy Returns are enough to get him Birthday Honors. (Let’s not mention the third Mummy film.) Though he’s been in Monkeybone based on Kaja Blackley’s graphic novel Dark TownSinbad: Beyond the Veil of MistsLooney Tunes: Back in ActionJourney to the Center of the EarthG.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra and being Robotman on the Doom Patrol series that now airs on HBO Max.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • FoxTrot features a D&D game with a special challenge.

(11) SPSFC TAKE TWO. In the second annual Self-Published Science Fiction Competition, Team ScienceFiction.news, the successor to last year’s Team File 770, has announced the seven books that they are advancing as quarterfinalists. The seven-member judging team is led by Rogers Cadenhead, and includes Rowena, Joshua Scott Edwards, Claire, Al, Sarah Duck-Mayr, and Varnster. See what they had to say about their picks for SPSFC Quarterfinalists.

You might wonder about the quality of novels submitted to a self-published competition open to the public. Are they a slush pile of unpolished prose where a story that’s well-written and compelling is the exception, or do enough good books get entered in the contest that it makes choosing the best of them genuinely difficult?

The ScienceFiction.news team of judges in the Self-Published Science Fiction Competition sampled 27 books in our allocation during the first round and had to pick the seven most worthy of being selected as quarterfinalists. It wasn’t easy to choose just seven….

(12) APPLIED SF: FREE ZOOM EVENT. [Item by Joey Eschrich.] The ASU Center for Science and the Imagination’s event, “Science Fictional Scenarios and Strategic Foresight: Planning for the Future with Applied Sci-Fi,” will take place on Thursday, December 8, from 12:00-1:00pm Eastern time. Panelists include science fiction writer and consulting futurist Madeline Ashby and foresight practitioners Ari Popper (SciFutures), Steven Weber (Breakwater Strategy), and Leah Zaidi (Multiverse Design). The event will also feature introductory remarks by renowned game designer and futures thinker Jane McGonigal, author of the books Superbetter and Imaginable.

The event is the third in a series for the Applied Sci-Fi Project at ASU’s Center for Science and the Imagination, which seeks to understand the influence of science fiction on technology and the people who build it, and to study the ways that sci-fi storytelling can a tool for innovation and foresight. 

The event is free and open to everyone. Here is the registration link.

(13) BEFORE THE IDES OF MARCH. “’Mandalorian’ Season 3 Sets March Premiere Date at Disney+” and Yahoo! has the story.

…The third season of the “Star Wars” series will debut on March 1 on Disney+, the Mouse House has announced. It had previously been reported that the series would debut on February 2023, but no official date had been announced prior to this.

(14) STOP IN THE NAME OF LOVE. “I do not think San Francisco police’s killer robots are a good idea” declares Washington Post satirist Alexandra Petri.

…I understand that this remark is controversial. But what are columnists for, if not to take these bold stances? So I will say it again: I, for one, think that killer robots are bad. I do not think the robots should kill. I think if you are going to draw a line someplace, killer robots should be on the other side of the line.

I was against the murder hornets, too. I heard “hornet” and said, “I will hear you out,” but then they said “murder,” and I said, “I will pass!” I am also opposed to killer people. When people say, “I am thinking of killing,” I am always the first to say, “Don’t!” I am consistent in these matters….

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Transformers: Rise of the Beasts arrives in theatres June 9, 2023.

Transformers: Rise of the Beasts will take audiences on a ‘90s globetrotting adventure and introduce the Maximals, Predacons, and Terrorcons to the existing battle on earth between Autobots and Decepticons.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mark, James Bacon, Joey Eschrich, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Cora Buhlert, Mike Kennedy, JJ, John King Tarpinian, and Chris Barkley for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 9/30/22 To Every Thing, TRON, TRON, TRON

(1) AUTHORS SIGN LETTER SUPPORTING INTERNET ARCHIVE LIBRARY IN LAWSUIT. Several genre authors, including Neil Gaiman, Cory Doctorow, Annalee Newitz, and Aimee Ogden signed an open letter opposing publishers’ lawsuit against the Internet Archive. “Neil Gaiman, Cory Doctorow And Other Authors Publish Open Letter Protesting Publishers’ Lawsuit Against Internet Archive Library”Deadline has the story.

A group of authors and other creative professionals are lending their names to an open letter protesting publishers’ lawsuit against the Internet Archive Library, characterizing it as one of a number of efforts to curb libraries’ lending of ebooks.

Authors including Neil Gaiman, Naomi Klein, and Cory Doctorow lent their names to the letter, which was organized by the public interest group Fight for the Future.

“Libraries are a fundamental collective good. We, the undersigned authors, are disheartened by the recent attacks against libraries being made in our name by trade associations such as the American Association of Publishers and the Publishers Association: undermining the traditional rights of libraries to own and preserve books, intimidating libraries with lawsuits, and smearing librarians,” the letter states.

…The letter also calls for enshrining “the right of libraries to permanently own and preserve books, and to purchase these permanent copies on reasonable terms, regardless of format,” and condemns the characterization of library advocates as “mouthpieces” for big tech.

“We fear a future where libraries are reduced to a sort of Netflix or Spotify for books, from which publishers demand exorbitant licensing fees in perpetuity while unaccountable vendors force the spread of disinformation and hate for profit,” the letter states.

…Author Daniel Handler, aka Lemony Snicket, was originally on the list of signatories to the letter but withdrew his name on Wednesday evening. No explanation was given, but some of his works are among those cited by the publishers in their lawsuit against Internet Archive….

(2) REMEMBER THE HYDRA CLUB. Here’s the famous (within fandom anyway) drawing of a meeting of the Hydra Club in New York City from the November 1951 issue of Marvel Science Fiction [Internet Archive] (via Roy Kettle).

The Hydra Club was a group of New York writers — Frederik Pohl was one of the nine heads who founded it. Dave Kyle says in “The Legendary Hydra Club” (Mimosa 25) that a banquet photo Life published was taken at the Hydras’ New York Science Fiction Conference of July 1-3, 1950. Hydras organized it and invited ESFA members to participate, too.

(3) DAYTON LITERARY PEACE PRIZE. The 2022 winners of the Dayton Literary Peace Prize have been announced. (The lone genre finalist wasn’t one of them.) Given for both fiction and nonfiction, the prize honors writers whose work uses the power of literature to foster peace, social justice, and global understanding. Each winner receives a $10,000 cash prize.

Fiction Winner

The Love Songs of W.E.B Du Bois by Honorée Fanonne Jeffers (HarperCollins): This intimate yet sweeping novel, with all the luminescence and force of HomegoingSing, Unburied, and The Water Dancer, chronicles the journey of one American family from the centuries of the colonial slave trade through the Civil War to our own tumultuous era.

Nonfiction Winner

How the Word is Passed by Clint Smith (Little, Brown):   This compelling #1 New York Times bestseller examines the legacy of slavery in America—and how both history and memory continue to shape our everyday lives.

(4) SPSFC2 WINNING COVER. The administrator of the Self-Published Science Fiction Competiton posted a Q&A with the winners of the cover contest, author Dito Abbott and cover designer Kirk DouPonce from dogeareddesign.com and fictionartist.com

Kirk: I read and enjoyed Dito’s manuscipt, there was no lack of imagery to work from! The story is a bit on the complex side, what I had originally contemplated for the cover changed many times. Often I’m able to read a manuscript and have the concept solidified in my head before starting. But not this time. So many possible directions! At some point I remember looking at his map and thinking “well duh, there’s the cover”. The map art had the perfect whimsical flavor the story was begging for. Almost as if the artist knew the story intimately.

(5) A DIFFERENT CHEKHOV IN SPACE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times behind a paywall, Sarah Hemming reviews a sf adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard which is playing at the Yard Theatre through October 22.

Vinay Patel’s inventive version pitches the story into the future.  Here the action unfolds o a spaceship spinning towards an elusive destination.  We are hundreds of years into the mission:  the ship is crewed by cloned humans (all of south Asian heritage) who never saw the E and various, now antiquated, bits of AI:  Firs, the ancient retainer of the original, has become Feroze, a glitchy android servant, brilliantly played by Hari Mackinnon.

The cherry orchard still exists, but in an arboretum.  It constitutes a link back to Earth, as does the ship’s rigid social hierarchy, which keeps the lower deck workers toiling in the dark.  But the mission has become sclerotic:  tensions are brewing between the decks, and the discovery of a nearly habitable planet brings everything to a head.  As in the original, pragmatic engineer Abinash Lenka (Lopakhin in Chekhov) urges Captain Ramesh to change course but ends by taking charge himself.

(6) GODSTALK! P. C. Hodgell will be signing at Uncle Hugo’s on Saturday, October 15, from 1-2 p.m. for Deathless Gods ($16.00), the 10th novel in the Chronicles of Kencyrath series.  

(7) HOIST BY THE PETARD THEY OWN. “NASA May Let Billionaire Astronaut and SpaceX Lift Hubble Telescope” reports the New York Times.

If you’ve got a telescope in danger of falling out of orbit, who are you going to call?

The United States Space Force? Nope.

NASA? Maybe not.

Billionaires? Apparently, that is indeed a possibility.

The billionaires in question are Elon Musk, the founder and chief executive of SpaceX, and Jared Isaacman, a technology entrepreneur who led an all-civilian trip to orbit in a SpaceX spacecraft last year.

NASA announced on Thursday that it and SpaceX had signed an agreement to conduct a six-month study to see if one of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsules could be used to raise the altitude of the Hubble Space Telescope, potentially further extending the lifetime of the 32-year-old instrument….

(8) ROUGH LANDING. Cora Buhlert writes, “Turns out that my Hugo rocket was also damaged [not just the base], because the tip is chipped, which I only noticed yesterday, when I took it from the shelf to show it off. I honestly wonder what you have to do to chip a piece of a Hugo rocket, considering they’re stainless steel.

I still had some fun with the damaged Hugo trophy and had my brand-new Flash Gordon, Phantom and Ming the Merciless (in the look of the Defenders of the Earth cartoon) action figures fight over the trophy, because it looks like something from a vintage Flash Gordon comic:

(9) MEMORY LANE.  

1966 [By Cat Eldridge.] Star Trek’s “Naked Time” aired 56 years ago yesterday in the USA on NBC. (Yeah I forgot. My bad.) it was the fourth episode of the first season and it was written by John D F Black who was given story credit idea when D C Fontana who the sequel, the Next Generation’s ‘The Naked Now”.

Surely everyone here knows the story of a strange, intoxicating infection, which lowers the crew’s inhibitions, spreads throughout the Enterprise. As the madness spreads, the entire ship is endangered. Really you have not watched it? You know it’s on Paramount +? 

Did you know this was the first appearance of the Vulcan nerve pinch? Though of course this being TV, it was actually filmed first in “The Enemy Within”, but “The Enemy Within” would be broadcast a week after “Naked Time” was. 

My favorite scene? Sulu’s half naked sword fight of course? However Takei had never use a sword at all so hurriedly learned to. He frequently mentions in interviews his much he likes his episode, saying it’s his favorite one, and devotes a entitle chapter on it in his autobiography.

It was meant to be a two-parter, with this episode ending with the Enterprise going back in time. The ending was revised so it would become a standalone episode. What would have been part two eventually became the episode, “Tomorrow is Yesterday”.

It is the only time Lt. Uhura, Yeoman Janice Rand and Nurse Christine Chapel all appear in the same episode.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 30, 1924 Elinor Busby, 98. In 1960, she became the first woman to win a Hugo Award for Best Fanzine editing at Pittcon for Cry of the Nameless along with F. M. Busby, Burnett Toskey and Wally Weber. She was awarded a Fan Activity Achievement Award for fan achievements, presented at Corflu in 2013. She was on the committee of Seacon (1961). Busby is noted in Heinlein’s Friday, and her husband is likewise in The Cat Who Walks Through Walls
  • Born September 30, 1931 — Angie Dickinson, 91. She was Dr. Layla Johnson in The Resurrection of Zachary Wheeler, the Dragon Queen in the genre adjacent Charlie Chan and the Curse of the Dragon Queen and Abbie McGee inThe Sun, the Moon and the Stars. 
  • Born September 30, 1932 — Antoinette Bower, 90. I’ll start off with her being Sylvia in the classic Trek episode of “Catspaw” written by Robert Bloch. She had a previous genre appearance in a Twilight Zone story, “Probe 7, Over and Out” in which she was Eva Nord. It’s a shaggy God story as so termed by Brian Aldiss. She also had one-offs in The Man from U.N.C.L.E.The Wild Wild WestMission: ImpossibleGet Smart and The Six Million Dollar Man.
  • Born September 30, 1947 — Michael I. Wagner. Though best remembered for his work on Hill Street Blues and deservedly so, he’s co-created with Isaac Asimov, produced and wrote several episodes for the one-season ABC series Probe. He provided the story for two episodes of Next Generation, “Bobby Trap” and “Evolution” and wrote another, “Survivor”. (Died 1992.)
  • Born September 30, 1950 — Laura Esquivel, 72. Mexican author of Como agua para chocolateLike Water for Chocolate in English. Magical realism and cooking with more than a small soupçon of eroticism. Seriously the film is amazing as is the book. ISFDB says she’s also written La ley del amor (The Law of Love) which I’ve not read.
  • Born September 30, 1951 — Simon Hawke, 71. Author of the quite superb Wizard of 4th Street series as Well as the TimeWars series.He has written Battlestar GalacticaTrekFriday the 13th, Predator and Dungeons & Dragons novels as well as the genre adjacent Shakespeare & Smythe mysteries which bear titles such as Much Ado About Murder
  • Born September 30, 1959 — Debrah Farentino, 63. She has a lead role in Earth 2 as Devon Adair, and she was the deliciously duplicitous Beverly Barlowe on Eureka.
  • Born September 30, 1960 — Nicola Griffith, 62. Writer, Essayist and Teacher. Her first novel was Ammonite which won the Tiptree and Lambda Awards and was a finalist for the Clarke and BSFA Awards, followed by The Blue PlaceStay, and Always, which are linked novels in the Ammonite universe featuring the character Aud Torvingen. In total, SFE has won the Washington State Book Award, Nebula Award, James Tiptree, Jr. Award, World Fantasy Award and six Lambda Literary Awards. Her novel Slow River won Nebula and Lambda Awards. With Stephen Pagel, she has edited three Bending the Landscape anthologies in each of the three genres FantasyScience Fiction, and Horror, the first of which won a World Fantasy Award. She latest novel is Spear which just came out. She was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in March 1993. She lives with her wife, author Kelley Eskridge, in Seattle.
  • Born September 30, 1972 — Sheree Renée Thomas, 50. Writer, Shotgun Lullabies: Stories & Poems and Sleeping Under the Tree of Life; Editor, Dark Matter: A Century of Speculative Fiction from the African Diaspora which won a World Fantasy Award, and Dark Matter: Reading the Bones which also won a World Fantasy Award. She’s also written a variety of poems and essays including “Dear Octavia, Octavia E. Butler, Ms. Butler, Mother of Changes”. In 2020, Thomas was named editor of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction.

(12) COMICS SECTION.

(13) THEY GO HARD. Ursula Vernon stands up for Waffle House. Thread starts here. A few of the tweets —

(13.5) HOCUS POCUS? BOGUS. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] This Disney+ sequel seems to completely misunderstand the material of the 29-year old original. “Hocus Pocus 2 review – belated Halloween sequel is far from bewitching” in the Guardian. As the reviewer says:

At times it feels more like an extended, if joke-free, SNL skit than a real movie, giving us the iconography we want but without any of the soul, propulsion or bare necessity we need to go with it, something that exists because it could rather than should….

This coming Halloween, it’s likely that many families will be watching Hocus Pocus 2 together, excited by the prospect of a tradition shift. Next Halloween, I doubt they’ll be watching it again.

(14) MAKES YOU WANT TOSS. If the very thought of pumpkin spice makes you want to throw autumn-themed products away, here’s the bag to throw them in: “Limited Edition Hefty® Cinnamon Pumpkin Spice Ultra Strong™ Trash Bags”.

On September 30th, pumpkin spice enthusiasts can visit HeftyPumpkinSpice.com to purchase their own limited edition trash bags. Now, fall lovers can keep their pumpkin spice obsession going strong on this National Pumpkin Spice Day and beyond by giving their garbage the cozy fall upgrade they never knew they needed.

(15) EARTH R.F.D. [Item by Steven French.] From Physics World: photometric microlensing uses the magnification of light from background stars caused by gravitational lensing to detect exo-planets. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your point of view) we live too far out in the galactic ‘burbs where there are few background stars, for technologically adept aliens to spot the Earth. “Earth is ‘well-hidden’ from extraterrestrial civilizations hunting for habitable planets”.

… To have a good shot at spotting us, Kerins explained, an alien civilization would need to be positioned such that there were a lot of background stars behind us, as to give the Earth a good chance of deflecting the light from one. “The best position for an observer to be is right at the edge of our galaxy with us on a line of sight towards the galactic centre,” he noted, adding: “But there are very few stars at the edge of our galaxy and so presumably few observers.”…

(16) MARS ROCKS. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Today’s issue of Science has a Mars cover story.

Two samples of rock (top and bottom holes) were collected by the Perseverance rover from this outcrop of the Séítah geologic formation in Jezero crater (see cover), Mars. Also visible are a discarded sample attempt (middle hole), a rock abrasion patch (lower left depression), and the rover’s tracks and shadow. Analysis of the Séítah formation shows that it consists of igneous rocks modified by liquid water

Primary research papers here.

The overall, bottom line conclusion of Perseverance’s explorations of the floor of Jezero crater explored by Perseverance consists of two distinct igneous units that have both experience reactions with liquid water. 

Second primary research paper here.

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

Pixel Scroll 9/28/22 Pokéscroll – Gotta File’em All!

(1) PLACE YOUR BETS. “Here are the bookies’ odds for the 2022 Nobel Prize in Literature” at Literary Hub.

Do you enjoy gambling—but, you know, in a cultured way? None of that racetrack nonsense or three card monte for you? Well you’re in luck: the 2022 Nobel Prize in Literature will be announced next Thursday, October 6, and the bookies have begun taking bets. (You know literary prize season has truly begun when the Lit Hub editors start lurking on online betting sites.)

Here are a few names of genre interest among the 44 listed.

Salman Rushdie – 8/1
Stephen King — 10/1
Haruki Murakami — 14/1
Margaret Atwood — 16/1
Maryse Condé — 16/1

(2) FUTURE TENSE. The latest short story in the Future Tense Fiction series, published this past Saturday, is “Yellow,” by B. Pladek, a story about risk-assessment technology, protest, and future conflicts over water.  

It was published along with a response essay by health economist Lorens Helmchen, “How risk scores could shape health care”.

If a medical treatment for a life-threatening disease had a 60 percent chance of success, but another treatment with a 50 percent success rate had a lower risk of bankrupting your family, which would you choose? What if the success rates were 95 and 90 percent? Would you change your answer?

How we use probabilities like these to guide our choices is at the heart of “Yellow,” a new Future Tense Fiction story written by B. Pladek. The story’s main character, Chase, works for a private company that helps people navigate these numbers…

(3) CLI-FI. “Is This the Way the World Ends?: PW Talks with Stephen Markley”. A Q&A with the author of The Deluge, about future responses to global warming.

Why choose fiction to explore the subject?

Here is my truly arrogant answer that will embarrass me but is still the truth: every artist who has ever pursued a career with passion and commitment believes their art has the power to change everything. That’s why we all do it. I read no shortage of nonfiction climate change books. I watched no shortage of earnest environmental documentaries. Many of them I don’t even remember because you read about potential catastrophe, and sure, it sounds like a bummer, but it leaves no lasting emotional impact. The point of narrative, of art, is that it can reorient us emotionally. If done well, it can make vivid what is abstract. Given the enormity of the task ahead of everyone alive on this planet, we desperately need that reorientation.

(4) WOLVERINE, COME FORTH. Ryan Reynolds answers people who say, “”How can Wolverine be in Deadpool 3 when he died in Logan?” “Deadpool Update, Part Hugh”.

Quick #Deadpool explainer video that tackles… 1) Timeline questions 2) Logan canon 3) MCU FAQ 4) Whether we can do this all day or not

(5) SEATTLE WORLDCON BID NEWS. SWOC, the Seattle Westercon Organizing Committee has awarded a grant of $5000 to the Seattle Worldcon in 2025 bid.

This grant will be used to promote, advertise, and recruit for the Seattle Worldcon Bid; to assist members of the bid in covering the costs of attending this year’s SMOFCon in Montréal; and to co-sponsor a night of the SMOFCon hospitality suite.

(6) THAT’S HIM. This time Nick Stathopoulos is on the receiving end of an award-winning portrait. His friend Xavier Ghazi’s artwork “Nick 2” won the Joshua Smith Memorial Award for Best in Show at a Drummoyne Art Society exhibition.

(7) WHEATON RETURN ENGAGEMENT. “Wil Wheaton presents and signs Still Just a Geek: An Annotated Memoir at Vroman’s Bookstore in Pasadena, CA on October 26 at 7:00 p.m. (And if this sounds familiar, he was there in August, too.)

From starring in Stand by Me to playing Wesley Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation to playing himself, in his second (third?) iconic role of Evil Wil Wheaton in The Big Bang Theory, to becoming a social media supernova, Wil Wheaton has charted a career course unlike anyone else, and has emerged as one of the most popular and well respected names in science fiction, fantasy and pop culture.

Back in 2001, Wil began blogging on wilwheaton.net. Believing himself to have fallen victim to the curse of the child actor, Wil felt relegated to the convention circuit, and didn’t expect many would want to read about his random experiences and personal philosophies.

Yet, much to his surprise, people were reading. He still blogs, and now has an enormous following on social media with well over 3 million followers.

In Still Just a Geek, Wil revisits his 2004 collection of blog posts, Just a Geek, filled with insightful and often laugh-out-loud annotated comments, additional later writings, and all new material written for this publication. The result is an incredibly raw and honest memoir, in which Wil opens up about his life, about falling in love, about coming to grips with his past work, choices, and family, and finding fulfillment in the new phases of his career. From his times on the Enterprise to his struggles with depression to his starting a family and finding his passion–writing–Wil Wheaton is someone whose life is both a cautionary tale and a story of finding one’s true purpose that should resonate with fans and aspiring artists alike.

(8) TAKING NOTES. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Well, I guess no Filer watches The Masked Singer because the figure of “The Knight” was revealed to be William Shatner! The Reveal: Knight / William Shatner | Season 8 Ep. 1 The Masked Singer.

(9) MEMORY LANE.  

1964 [By Cat Eldridge.] The Munsters premiered fifty-eight years ago this past weekend on CBS and I could hardly not write their series coming into existence, could I, after just doing the Addams Family? No, I could not.

I think that The Munsters had a better, sweeter family than the Addams Family. Every character here from Fred Gwynne as the sort of monster created by Frankenstein who was the head-of-the-household Herman Munster; Yvonne De Carlo as his vampire wife Lily; Al Lewis as Lily’s father, Grandpa, the somewhat over-the-hill vampire; Beverley Owen (later replaced by Pat Priest) as their college-age niece Marilyn, who was a conventional human but the “ugly duckling” of the family; and Butch Patrick as their werewolf son Eddie, all worked perfectly. 

On paper, it’s a lot of movie tropes into one series and hope they work, but Allan Burns and Chris Hayward did a stellar job here. Burns had nothing before and Hayward had been responsible for the Dudley Do-Right of the Mounties segment of The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show. Yes, I remember both the segment and the series very fondly. 

The creators intended it to be a satire of American suburban life, the wholesome TV family fare of the era, and traditional monster movies. It certainly was a satire of the first and the latter, but I’ll be damned how it was a satire of the wholesome TV family fare of the early Sixties. 

It achieved much higher ratings than the similarly themed Addams Family, which aired concurrently on ABC. Though seventy episodes were produced over its two years, it would be cancelled after ratings dropped to a series low due to competition from ABC’s Batman.

It was rebooted as The Munsters Today in 1988 with John Schuck as Herman Munster and Lee Meriwether as Lily Munster. It lasted three seasons and seventy episodes. And then there was the very, very weird Mockingbird Lane pilot of a decade ago. I liked but it didn’t go to series. And there’s Rob Zombie’s The Munsters which is on Netflix and gets a rave review here.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 28, 1913 Ellis Peters. Nom de plume of the writer of The Cadfael Chronicles, which I’ll admit I broke my rule of never watching a video adaption of a print series that I like. Derek Jacobi as Cadfael was damn perfect. She is here because she was the writer of two excellent haunting aka ghost novels, The City Lies Four-Square and By This Strange Fire, under her real name of Edith Pargeter. (Died 1995.)
  • Born September 28, 1923 Erle Korshak. He’s a reminder of how old fandom is. He discovered SF in 1934 with the August Astounding magazine and became a very serious collector in 1937 according to several sources. By 1939 he was a well-known fan and one of the leaders of the Moonstruck Press which was created to publish a bibliography of all fantasy books.  He was part of the leadership triumvirate of Chicon 1, the 1940 Worldcon. He later founded a publishing house whose first major work was Everett F. Bleiler’s The Checklist of Fantastic Literature in the late Forties, a pioneering work of SF bibliography. This was followed by major works by Heinlein, Bester, Fredric Brown and other SF suthors. He was absent from fandom from the late 50s for thirty years, then rejoined fandom and was attending cons with his children.  He was inducted into the First Fandom Hall of Fame in 1996, and won the Barry R. Levin Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature Lifetime Collectors Award in 2001. He was a guest of honor of Chicon 8, however he died before the convention.(Died 2021.)
  • Born September 28, 1923 William Windom. Commodore Matt Decker, commander of the doomed USS Constellation in “The Doomsday Machine” episode, one of the best Trek stories told. Norman Spinrad was the writer. Other genre appearances include being the President on Escape from the Planet of the Apes, The Major in “Five Characters in Search of an Exit” episode of Twilight Zone and Ben Victor in the “The Night of the Flying Pie Plate” story of The Wild Wild West. This is a sampling only! (Died 2012.)
  • Born September 28, 1932 Michael G. Coney. British-born writer who spent the last half of his life in Canada. He’s best remembered for his Hello Summer, Goodbye novelI’m very fond of The Celestial Steam Locomotive and Gods of the Greataway which might be set on what could be Vancouver Island. His only Award was from the BSFA for Brontomek!, one of his Amorphs Universe works, although he was a 1996 Nebula nominee for his “Tea and Hamsters” novelette, and a five-time finalist for the Aurora Award. (Died 2005.)
  • Born September 28, 1935 Ronald Lacey. He’s very best remembered as Gestapo agent Major Arnold Ernst Toht in Raiders of the Lost Ark. (A series where they should’ve stopped with first film.) He’s actually in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade as Heinrich Himmler though it’s an uncredited role. One of his first genre appearances was as the Strange Young Man in The Avengers episode “The Joker”.  In that same period, he was the village idiot in The Fearless Vampire Killers which actually premiered as The Fearless Vampire Killers, or Pardon Me, But Your Teeth Are in My NeckAnd he’s in The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension as President Widmark. This is but a thin wafer of his genre roles so do feel free to add your favorite. (Died 1991.)
  • Born September 28, 1938 Ron Ellik. Writer and Editor, a well-known SF fan who was a co-editor with Terry Carr of the Hugo winning fanzine, Fanac, in the late 1950s. Ellik was also the co-author of The Universes of E.E. Smith with Bill Evans, which was largely a concordance of characters and the like. Fancyclopedia 3 notes that “He also had some fiction published professionally, and co-authored a Man from U.N.C.L.E. novelization.” The Encyclopaedia of Science Fiction says he died in an auto accident the day before his wedding. (Died 1968.)
  • Born September 28, 1966 Maria Pilar Canals-Barrera, 56. She’s getting Birthday Honors for being the voice of Hawkgirl on Justice League and Justice League Unlimited. She’s also voiced Commissioner Ellen Yindel in Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, and voiced Rio Morales, the mother of the Spider-Man, Miles Morales, on the Ultimate Spider-Man series. I just picked this to watch as it looks very good. 
  • Born September 28, 1982 Tendai Huchu, 40. Zimbabwean author who’s the editor along with Raman Mundair and Noel Chidwick of the 2020 issue of Shores of Infinity zine. He’s also written a generous number of African centric stories of which “The Marriage Plot” won an African Speculative Fiction Society Nommo Award for African Speculative Fiction for Best Short Story (2017), as did his novel The Library Of The Dead (2022). That issue of Shoreline of Infinity (Issue 18, Summer 2020) is available from the usual digital suspects. His newest novel, Our Lady of Mysterious Ailments, came out in April this year.

(11) ONLINE ARCHIVE MOVES.  “British comic fanzines archive ‘The Fanscene Project’ has a new online home” reports downthetubes.net.

An incredible project aiming to document the history of British comic fanzines and fandom, both as an online archive and in print, has a new home on the web.

Founded back in 2015 as the Classic UK Comic Zines site, artist and comic archivist David Hathaway-Price has been constantly adding to what is now The Fanscene Project.

Now residing at comicsfanzines.co.uk, the project is an online, read-only archive of British comic fanzines, published across the last 50 years, including, with the permission of their original editors, titles such as BEMComic Media NewsFantasy TraderInfinitySpeakeasy, and many more. It even includes incredibly rare digital editions of very early zines such as Ka-Pow, published by Phil Clarke and Steve Moore back in 1967/68.

… The aim of The Fanscene Project is to create a digital repository of as many of the Comics Fanzines published in the UK as possible; fan publications containing work by artists and writers who would sometimes later move into, and shape, the industry that they loved….

(12) JEOPARDY! Unlike the contestants, Andrew Porter knew the right question to go with this answer on tonight’s episode.

Category: Cliff Notes

Answer: “Dizzy sunless cliffs above the Great Abyss” paints a picture in H.P. Lovecraft’s “At the Mountains of” this.

No one could ask, “What is Madness”?

(13) SMALL BANG THEORY. In the Washington Post, Planetary Society editorial director Rae Paoletts says the asteroid-smashing DART mission was an important achievement because it shows that planetary defense against asteroids is possible. “Three cheers for NASA’s asteroid smasher”.

…Asteroids are a notoriously sticky wicket. On one hand, they’re remnants from the birth of our solar system; relics from the beginning of everything — or whatever our slice of that is. On the other, asteroids have caused inconceivable damage to our planet. Roughly 66 million years ago, a 6-mile-wide asteroid slammed off the coast of what is now Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula. A single asteroid robbed us of the chance to see pterodactyls soar across the sky, or to have them use us for food, depending on which way you look at it.

DART can’t undo the damage of past asteroid impacts, but it can help us prevent them in the future. With DART’s collision, scientists tested a planetary defense strategy known as the “kinetic impactor technique,” which aims to move — but not destroy — an object….

(14) WHO’S THAT? These are IndieWire’s nominees for the “Most Controversial Movie and TV Recastings Ever”. Most are from sff productions.

Marvel Cinematic Universe — The Hulk

Edward Norton played Bruce Banner for the Marvel Cinematic Universe in 2008, starring in Louis Leterrier’s “The Incredible Hulk.” When it was revealed that Norton would not continue his journey in the growing multiverse, Marvel’s Kevin Feige released a statement citing “the need for an actor who embodies [creativity and a] collaborative spirit.” Norton has since said he had a great time doing the project and holds no ill-will toward Feige. Mark Ruffalo went on to play the lovable green giant in seven films with more to come.

Other notable MCU recastings include War Machine, originated by Terrence Howard in “Iron Man” and taken over by Don Cheadle; as well as Howard Stark, played by Gerard Sanders (in a non-speaking role), John Slattery, and Dominic Cooper.

(15) WILL THEY MAKE THE CUT? At Eclectic Theist, J. W. Wartick continues screening entries in the second annual Self-Published Science Fiction Competition: “SPSFC2 First Impressions: ‘Mercury’s Shadow,’ ‘Ever the Hero,’ and ‘A Hardness of Minds’”.

The Self-Published Science Fiction Contest (“SPACEFIC”) is underway, and my group is going through one of my favorite parts of the contest: sorting through a slush pile. Basically, we get a stack of books and need to sample them all to narrow down our selections for quarter- and semi-finalists. Here, I’ll be going over my first impressions of some of these books. Please note my “Yes,” “No,” or “Maybe” vote is only indicative of my opinion and may not reflect the opinion of our whole group. Since we advance books as a group, it’s possible a “Yes” from me may end up a “No” overall and vice versa. Let me know what you think of the books in the comments!

(16) A LOOK BEHIND AT A LOOK AHEAD. YouTube’s The 1920s Channel presents The Future Of The 1920s.

“Futurism” is what people believed the future would be like at a given time. Similarly, “retrofuturism” is futurism of the past. Most people think of Victorian futurism (steampunk) and 1950s/1960s futurism (atompunk). 1920s futurism sits right in the middle, mostly forgotten. Technically, it’s grouped in with “dieselpunk,” which extends into the WWII period, but I think the aesthetic of the 1920s is a bit different. For example, in the 1920s version of the future, zeppelins and airships are all over the place, though by WWII, zeppelins were a thing of the past. In this video, I’ll explain a little bit about the 1920s conception of the future, then show a lot of examples from a 1920s science and technology magazine called “Science And Invention.”

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

Pixel Scroll 9/12/22 The Following Scroll Was Taped In Front Of An Audience Of Live People (Plus Some Zombies)

(1) YOU’RE THE TOPS. The Self-Published Science Fiction Competition announced the winner of its 2022 Best Covers poll. Voters said Kirk DouPonce’s cover for Debunked: Volume One was the best among the entries to this year’s edition of the contest.

(2) PROGRESS REPORT. The New York Times says Dragon Con is “Redefining What Nerd Culture Looks Like”.

…Mr. Sherman, who traveled from Lake Charles, La., for Dragon Con, has attended nearly every year since 2008. That first year, Mr. Sherman, a former journalist, took photos of cosplayers he was impressed by. “One of my friends half jokingly asked, ‘Were you the only Black guy there?’” he said. He looked through his pictures and counted about 20 or 30 Black cosplayers. He posted an album on Facebook with all of them and named it: “Proof that I’m not the only one: Black geeks at Dragon Con.”

The Facebook photo album became an annual tradition and eventually morphed into an annual meet-up.

Meet-ups happen at Dragon Con for all types of groups, from Deadpool cosplayers to Trekkies. “If you can imagine it, there’s a photo shoot for it,” Mr. Sherman said. But at the time, there wasn’t one for the Black community, so the Black Geeks of Dragon Con meet-up was born.

The first meet-up in 2015 brought in a little more than 20 people. In the years that followed, Mr. Sherman and his friend and meet-up co-founder David Somuah handed out cards at the con inviting Black cosplayers to join, and word spread.

“We went from 20 to 80, then all of a sudden it just jumped to 200 or 300,” Mr. Sherman said. “In 2019, going through the pictures, we were close to 350 people. You couldn’t see the back of the stairs.”

Angela and Tim Haynes cosplaying as Eddie Munson and a mash-up of LL Cool J and Eleven from “Stranger Things.”Ari Skin for The New York Times

In recent years, Dragon Con has made an effort to broaden its scope. A diversity track has been added to the programming that features panels on cosplay and disability, dealing with hate as a cosplayer, and representation in fantasy media.

(3) AFTER ACTION REPORT. Cora Buhlert delivers her epic analysis of this year’s Hugos in “Some Comments on the 2022 Hugo Award Winners and the Hugo Ceremony in General”.

…There were also no names mispronounced that I noticed – and mine was pronounced correctly, so thank you to Annalee and Charlie Jane – though the hosts forgot to read out Marguerite Kenner, editor of Best Fanzine finalist The Full Lid. There was also some unpleasantness involving Best Semiprozine finalist Strange Horizons, who have a large staff and have long fought for all of them to be listed. The hosts did not read out the entire long list of names, which was agreed upon with Strange Horizons beforehand, but the dramatic pause before “…by the Strange Horizons editorial collective” generated laughter in the auditorium, which may not even have been ill intended, but which nonetheless hurt the Strange Horizons people, especially given the crap they’ve gotten over the years, e.g. last year when many people blamed Strange Horizons for complaining about the (eventually repealed) “only four people plus ones at the Hugo ceremony and reception rule”, even though it was a completely different team that complained. Finally – speaking as someone who’s been there three times now – it is a thrilling feeling to hear your name read out at the Hugo ceremony. Having that thrilling feeling marred by having your name mispronounced, omitted or people laughing about it is not cool. I was still in the finalist Zoom green room with Sonia Sulaiman of Strange Horizons, when Best Semiprozine was announced, and I could tell she was hurt. That said, Annalee and Charlie Jane have apologised by now….

(4) WHAT AM I BID? Heritage is auctioning some of Harlan Ellison’s collection in October: “2022 October 21 Harlan Ellison Comics & Comic Art Signature® Auction #7335”. Thumbnails of the artwork at the link.

(5) 2022 EASTERCON REPORT. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] The SF2 Concatenation has just released a convention report on the 2022 UK Eastercon by Arthur Chappell ahead of its seasonal edition.

It was for many of us an emotional reunion with dear friends, with moving tributes to the fans who didn’t make it through the maelstrom, especially poignantly referenced during the opening and closing ceremonies. The former included a very moving presentation by Doug S. on the ravages and toll the CoVID virus has had on fandom since the first ripples of the tragic virus started rolling round the world in December 2019…

(6) A COLD APPRAISAL OF FRANKENSTEIN. Scholar Michael Bérubé is interviewed by PennStater Magazine about his work on an edition of Mary Shelley’s Frankstein that gives new emphasis to the polar mission in the story: “He’s (Still) Alive!”

Q: You mentioned that the actual science is somewhat understated in Frankenstein. What’s interesting to you about how Shelley’s approach to this has aged?
Bérubé
: To go back to the Marilyn Butler edition, a lot of her argument relies on the fact that the Shelleys’ personal physician was a leading exponent of materialism—the belief that we’re just matter, there’s nothing that separates humans from animals in that respect. Butler’s reading is that as Shelley got older, she got more conservative—she knew very well the horrified reaction her book produced, and she wanted to take some of the edge off. In some ways I’m just following that: This is about the history of science; this is a question of what life means. Most people treat the polar expedition as basically a framing, just a setup, whereas I think it’s fascinating in its own right.

One of the other questions is, what does it mean to be the first person to achieve something? At the very end of the novel—and this is another thing I love about it—Victor says, “I’ve ruined my life, I should never have opened this Pandora’s box.” He literally gets up off his deathbed on Walton’s ship; the crew is about to mutiny. They know they’re going to die, and some of them already have. And Victor hauls himself up off his deathbed and gives this impassioned speech chastising the crew for being cowards. “Of course this was going to be a dangerous mission—that’s why you took it.” As JFK put it in his 1962 announcement of the Apollo program, “We choose to go to the moon not because it is easy, but because it is hard.” Victor’s pitch is, “You have the chance here to do something glorious. Your names will go down in history.” Well, no they won’t [laughs]. No one’s going to remember the names of the crew.

So I think it’s become clear over the past 200 years that polar exploration is more like space exploration than it is like creating life: It raises questions about the utility and the dangers of boldly going where no one has gone before, but it doesn’t seem to cross any major ethical lines. The creature, by contrast, continues to resonate with us not despite our stunning technological accomplishments since then but because of them: he seems to anticipate debates about in vitro fertilization, about gene editing and genetic engineering … in short, about whether we should be trying to tinker with the stuff we’re made of, and to what end….

(7) SPECIAL INTEREST ADVOCATE. Washingtonian interviews the only lobbyist in Washington dealing with UFOs.“Alien Life: UFO Lobbyist’s Quest to Uncover the Truth”.

On a Tuesday morning in mid-May, Stephen Bassett flipped open his laptop, logged on to YouTube, and watched live-streamed coverage of America’s elected representatives doing something he’d waited years to see. Over the next hour and a half, he stared at his 43-inch LCD monitor and observed stern-faced military officials in a congressional hearing room answer lawmakers’ questions about the unidentified aerial phenomena, or UAPs—another term for UFOs—that service­members had encountered in recent years. As the proceedings got underway, one of the Pentagon higher-­ups played recently declassified footage showing a mysterious object darting across the sky. “For too long, the stigma associated with UAPs has gotten in the way of good intelligence analysis,” André Carson, the Democratic congressman from Indiana who chairs the House Intelligence subcommittee that had organized the event, told the audience. “Today, we know better. UAPs are unexplained, it’s true. But they are real.”

For Bassett, this first public congressional hearing on UFOs in more than 50 years was a milestone. As DC’s first registered UFO lobbyist, he’d spent more than a quarter century pleading for lawmakers and the administration to stop snickering at the issue. Yet as he watched official Washington finally take the topic seriously, an uneasy feeling struck him. “It’s that anxiety that you get when you’re getting close to the finish line,” he says, “but it’s still not clear it’s a done deal.”

Though long dismissed as the delusions of science fiction, UFOs have emerged as a serious subject in the nation’s capital….

(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.  

1993 [By Cat Eldridge.] Twenty-nine years ago this night on ABC, Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman premiered. As much romance as SF, it was lasted less time than I thought it did, just four seasons and eighty-eight episodes.

Casting had the perfect couple in Dean Cain as Clark Kent / Kal-El / Superman and Teri Hatcher as Lois Lane. They had perfect chemistry between the two of them. 

It was developed by Deborah Joy LeVine who never developed anything else of a genre nature other the Early Edition series later on. It had six, yes six, Executive Producers including her. All of which got fired after the first season. 

The series focuses on the relationship and romance between Lois and Clark as much as the adventures of Clark’s alter-ego, Superman. The DCU villains that appeared here, as far as I can tell, were Metallo, Weatherman, Lex Luthor, Prankster, Metello and Mr. Mxyzptlk. Most showed up in the second season after the Purge following the ending of the first season.

Ratings kept declining throughout the series and, though it was promised to the producers, a fifth season was never done leaving the series on the cliffhanger. 

SFBC published C. J. Cherryh’s Lois & Clark: A Superman Novel during the third season. DC produced Lois & Clark, The New Adventures of Superman with by John Bryne and others in the same season. 

It carries a bounding eighty-seven percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. 

The show streams on Amazon and HBO Max. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 12, 1897 Walter B. Gibson. Writer and professional magician who’s best known for his work creating and being the first and main writer of the pulp character The Shadow. Using the pen-name Maxwell Grant, he wrote 285 of the 325 Shadow stories published by Street & Smith in The Shadow magazine of the Thirties and Forties. He also wrote a Batman prose story which appeared in Detective Comics #500 and was drawn by Thomas Yeates. (Died 1985.)
  • Born September 12, 1914 Desmond Llewelyn. He’s best known for playing Q in 17 of the Bond films over thirty-six years. Truly amazing. Live and Let Die is the only one in the period that Q was not in. He worked with five Bonds, to wit Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton and Pierce Brosnan. Other genre appearances include The Adventures of Robin Hood, the Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr HydeThe Curse of the Werewolf and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. (Died 1999.)
  • Born September 12, 1922 John Chambers. Makeup artist who worked on the original Trek where he created the Vulcans and molded Spock’s pointed ears. He would also be principal designer of the ape makeup for Planet of the Apes and its sequels. In 1969 he received an honorary Academy Award for those designs, though it would be 1981 when a specific award category for Best Makeup would exist.  He also, among other work, was invoked with MunstersLost in Space and Other Limits. (Died 2001.)
  • Born September 12, 1927 Freddie Jones. Though he was best known for his role as the showman Bytes in The Elephant Man, he did have some genre including showing up on the original Dune as Thufir Hawat. Other roles included being in Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed as Professor Richter, two Dracula films, The Satanic Rites of Dracula, one as  Professor Keeley and Son of Dracula as The Baron. He was also in Vampira aka Old Dracula as Gilmore. He was in Krull with a name I refuse to pronounce, Yny. And that’s only up to 1985. Need I say he had a busy career? (Died 2019.)
  • Born September 12, 1931 Bill McKinney. I remember him from voicing a most believable Jonah Hex in the Batman: The Animated Series in the Joe Lansdale penned “Showdown” episode.  He’s got genre one-offs in The Adventures of Young Indiana JonesThe Lazarus Man and Galatica 1980. She was in the third Back to Future film. (Died 2012.)
  • Born September 12, 1942 Charles L. Grant. A writer who said he was best at what he called “dark fantasy” and “quiet horror”. Nightmare Seasons, a collection of novellas, won a World Fantasy Award, while the “A Crowd of Shadows” short garnered a Nebula as did “A Glow of Candles, a Unicorn’s Eye” novella. “Temperature Days on Hawthorne Street” story would become the Tales from the Darkside episode “The Milkman Cometh”. The usual suspects have decent but not outstanding selections of his works including Oxrun Station, his core horror series. (Died 2006.)
  • Born September 12, 1960 Robert John Burke, 62. He played the second incarnation of Robocop after Peter Weller bowed out from playing the character.  He was Donald “Don” Pierce in Limitless, a SF thriller that great reception from everyone, and he was William Anders in From the Earth to the Moon. If you watched Person of Interest, he had the ongoing role of Officer Patrick Simmon. Definitely not genre or genre related, but he played Frank McLaury in Tombstone, one of favorite films of all-time. I’ve only watched it at least a half dozen times. 
  • Born September 12, 1962 Mary Kay Adams, 60. She was Na’Toth, a Narn who was the aide to G’Kar in the second season of Babylon 5, and she would show up as the Klingon Grilka in the episodes “The House of Quark” and “Looking for par’Mach in All the Wrong Places”. 

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Macanudo reveals Spider-Man’s occupational hazard.
  • Candorville tries a little experiment with a character newly in the public domain.
  • Tom Gauld as a modest suggestion for librarians:

(11) AGENT MOM.

(12) CAN’T KEEP A LID ON IT. In “Humans and Cockatoos Are in an ‘Arms Race’ Over Trash in Sydney”, Gizmodo covers the research.

…Unfortunately for the humans, cockatoos have learned how to defeat some of the simpler measures. But much as the birds are adapting, people are developing counters right back. As the researchers put it, the parrots and people of Sydney seem to be engaged in a sort of innovation “arms race,” though Klump balked at describing it as a full-on war.

“When cockatoos learn to defeat this protection measure (e.g. by pushing off bricks so that they can then open the bin), people in our survey have reported that they increase the efficacy of their protection measures (e.g. by fixing something heavy to the lid, so that it cannot be pushed off). What we have found is that bin protection (and protection types) are geographically clustered and that people learn about them from their neighbors,” Klump said….

(13) A WEE BIT OF HUGO NEWS. AbeBooks’ list “The Hugo Awards: the best science fiction & fantasy books since 1953” has been updated to include the 2022 novel winner. Go forth and buy!

(14) THEY’RE DEAD, JIM. “I Killed Everyone on My Mission to Mars” is Jennifer Billock’s travel report from Space Camp.

What’s the first thing you would say if you were the very first person to step on Mars? I had mine figured out from the start. And when I stepped onto the Red Planet, I let it out: “Welcome to Mars. Let’s colonize this bitch.” I also quickly followed that up with a comment to my crew. “Sorry I killed all of you on the way here.”

As I’m sure you may have guessed, I wasn’t actually on Mars. I was the commander of a mission to the fictional version of the planet as part of an adult Space Camp day program in Huntsville, Alabama. It had been a particularly wild adventure that day, with me leaping around on the moon’s surface, nearly puking everywhere in the multi-axis trainer (or as I call it, the gyro-chair), and then almost immediately killing my entire Mars crew once we got on our shuttle.

Oh, and the night before, I scraped my head on a space capsule in the on-site beer garden, bled everywhere, and had to go to Sick Bay. Needless to say, I’m an amazing pick for commander. And yes, you read that right: Space Camp has a German oompah bar beer garden. It’s like heaven there, folks. Here’s why you should go to adult Space Camp and what missions to do while you’re there….

(15) DO YOU THINK THAT WILL BE ENOUGH? John King Tarpinian located world Halloween cereal headquarters.

(16) LINKS TO WESTERN AND HISTORICAL FICTION AWARDS. [Item by Todd Mason.]

(17) SO BE GOOD FOR GOODNESS SAKE. Disney revives another franchise for Disney+ — The Santa Clauses.

(18) REINVENTING THE WHEEL. You know that thing people are cautioned against doing? Guess again!Universe Today explains how “Using ‘C-Shaped Wheels,’ This Rover can Climb Over More Challenging Lunar Terrain”.

… To navigate such rugged terrain, the rover uses a unique locomotion system originally designed as the RHex project at the University of Pennsylvania. These wheels allow the rover, which is only the size of an A4 sheet of paper, to traverse much larger obstacles than wheeled rovers in its size class….

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, Alan Baumler, Todd Mason, Michael J. Walsh, Arnie Fenner, Daniel Dern, 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.]