Pixel Scroll 1/14/23 I’d Love To Teach The File To Scroll In Pixel Harmony

(1) OUT OF BOUNDS. Priya Sridhar analyzes the ethical and professional issues related to the Susan Meachen story in “’Death Is Not A Marketing Tool’ And Other Sentences We Shouldn’t Have To Say” at Medium. (Via Cat Rambo.)

Trigger Warning: This article does talk about death by suicide, specifically people faking their suicides. You have been warned.

I cannot believe I am writing about this in 2022. You would think that people would have learned by now. There are some things that we cannot forget. And I don’t feel well talking about this. The Daily Beast has all the details.

People faking their death is a hot button for me. Specifically, people faking suicide is something that will anger me forever. I feel a sickness in my stomach, and shaking anger. And an author has done this, someone that has earned revenue from this decision. They now have made the Internet very confused, especially within indie romance….

(2) DERAILED. Entertainment Weekly reports “Snowpiercer’s fourth and final season scrapped at TNT despite completing production”. But is all lost? Perhaps not.

… “We can confirm that TNT will not air season four of Snowpiercer,” a network spokesperson said Friday in a statement to EW. “This was a difficult decision, but our admiration for the talented writers, actors and crew who brought Snowpiercer‘s extraordinary post-apocalyptic world to life remains strong. We have been working collaboratively with the producers since last year to help the series find a new home where fans can continue to enjoy the compelling story and exceptional visual experience. We look forward to working with them on future projects.”

It may not be the end of the world, though. Producer Tomorrow Studios says it hopes to find a new partner for the series “shortly” in order to get the final episodes to fans. Deadline Hollywood reports that the ultimate goal is to build a franchise, including a prequel and sequel….

(3) EXOURBAN. “Alien Cities” at Black & White, an art blog by Anne Nydam focused on block prints and children’s fantasy.

Today I have a few strange and alien cities to share with you.  In each case the artist’s style is radically different from anything I do, and yet in the first two cases I, too, have made a piece that I think reveals a bit of the same curiosity, fascination, and imagination at work.  First up is Toward the Sky by Yoshida Toshi (Japan, 1911-1995).  This has a wonderfully doodly sensibility, which reminds me of my own City I and City II (about which you can read more in prior post Cities of Dreams).  Yoshida’s piece has a playful vibe somewhere between mid-century atomic and psychedelic, which isn’t so surprising given that it was made in 1965….  

(4) TO BOLDLY GO. Sistahscifi is hosting a free online book launch for To Boldy Go: Nichelle Nichols, Star Trek, & Civil Rights on Wednesday, January 18 from 5:00-6:00 p.m. Pacific. Reserve your spot at the link.

 To Boldly Go tells the true story of Nichelle Nichols and how she used her platform on Star Trek to inspire and recruit a new generation of diverse astronauts and many others in the space and STEM fields.

(5) NAACP IMAGE AWARDS. There are many items of genre interest among the nominees for the NAACP Image Awards 2023 – click the link to see all the categories. The awards will be presented February 25. The awards are notable for including Literary categories. This category has two well-known genre nominees:

The Outstanding Work – Literary Fiction

  • Africa Risen: A New Era Of Speculative Fiction edited by Sheree Renée Thomas, Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki and Zelda Knight
  • The Keeper – Tananarive Due, Steven Barnes (Abrams Books)

(6) CHINESE NEBULA AWARDS TAKING ENTRIES. The 14th Chinese Science Fiction Nebula Award is open for entries until January 31. The eligibility year for the Nebulas is 2021. For the Rising Star Award, which for authors who published their first science fiction novel, the eligibility period is between January 1, 2020 and December 31, 2022.

(7) AURORA AWARDS CREATING LATEST ELIGIBILITY LIST. [Item by Danny Sichel.] The Aurora Awards (which have moved from PrixAuroraAwards.ca to CSFFA.ca) are currently in Phase 1: gathering a list of everything eligible from last year. Eligibility lists close on February 25, 2023.

(8) VEGAS FANDOM NEWS. Alan White has a report on Facebook about fanzine fan Arnie Katz, who would welcome visitors at his North Las Vegas care home. See details in comments at the post.

(9) MEMORY LANE.

1954 [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

You didn’t think I was done with quotes of hobbits eating, did you? If you did, you really don’t know me as I’m very, very fond of hobbits and the world that Tolkien created for them. Tolkien describes them in the prologue to The Fellowship of the Ring as “an unobtrusive but very ancient people” who find their many of their delights in “peace and quiet and good tilled earth”.  Here’s one of my favorite passages about hobbits and food.

Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbits, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

They were washed and in the middle of good deep mugs of beer when Mr. Butterbur and Nob came in again. In a twinkling the table was laid. There was hot soup, cold meats, a blackberry tart, new loaves, slabs of butter, and half a ripe cheese: good plain food, as good as the Shire could show, and homelike enough to dispel the last of Sam’s misgivings (already much relieved by the excellence of the beer).

One or two other hobbits belonging to the farm-household came in. In a short while fourteen sat down to eat. There was beer in plenty, and a mighty dish of mushrooms and bacon, besides much other solid farmhouse fare. The dogs lay by the fire and gnawed rinds and cracked bones.

`Now, now! ‘ said Sam. `Each to his own fashion. Our bread chokes you, and raw coney chokes me. If you give me a coney, the coney’s mine, see, to cook, if I have a mind. And I have. You needn’t watch me. Go and catch another and eat it as you fancy – somewhere private and out o’ my sight. Then you won’t see the fire, and I shan’t see you, and we’ll both be the happier. I’ll see the fire don’t smoke, if that’s any comfort to you.’

After so long journeying and camping, and days spent ¤n the lonely wild, the evening meal seemed a feast to the hobbits: to drink pale yellow wine, cool and fragrant, and eat bread and butter, and salted meats, and dried fruits, and good red cheese, with clean hands and clean knives and plates. Neither Frodo nor Sam refused anything that was offered, nor a second, nor indeed a third helping. The wine coursed in their veins and tired limbs, and they felt glad and easy of heart as they had not done since they left the land of Lórien.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 14, 1924 Guy Williams. Most remembered as Professor John Robinson on Lost in Space though some of you may remember him as Don Diego de la Vega and his masked alter ego Zorro in the earlier Zorro series. (Is it genre? You decide. I think it is.) He filmed two European genre films, Il tiranno di Siracusa (Damon and Pythias) and Captain Sinbad as well. (Died 1989.)
  • Born January 14, 1943 Beverly Zuk. Ardent fan of Trek: TOS who wrote three Trek fanfics, two of them on specific characters: The Honorable Sacrifice (McCoy) and The Third Verdict (Scotty). Let’s just say that based on her artwork that I found I’d not say these are anything less than R rated in places such as her naked Kirk. She was a founding member of the Trek Mafia though I’m not sure what that was, but I’m betting one of y’all can tell me. (Died 2009.)
  • Born January 14, 1948 Carl Weathers, 75. Most likely best remembered among genre fans as Al Dillon in Predator, but he has some other SFF creds as well. He was a MP officer in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, General Skyler in Alien Siege, Dr. Artimus Snodgrass in the very silly comedy The Sasquatch Gang and he voiced Combat Carl in Toy Story 4. And no, I’m not forgetting he’s currently playing Greef Karga on The Mandalorian series. I still think his best role ever was Adam Beaudreaux on Street Justice but that’s very much not SFF.
  • Born January 14, 1949 Lawrence Kasdan, 74. Director, screenwriter, and producer. He’s best known early on as co-writer of The Empire Strikes BackRaiders of the Lost Ark and Return of the Jedi. He also wrote The Art of Return of the Jedi with George Lucas which is quite superb. He’s also one of the writers lately of Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Solo: A Star Wars Story
  • Born January 14, 1965 Jemma Redgrave, 58. Her first genre role was as Violette Charbonneau in the “A Time to Die” episode of Tales of the Unexpected which was also her first acting role. Later genre roles are scant but include a memorable turn as Kate Lethbridge-Stewart, daughter of Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart on Doctor Who including an appearance with the forthcoming Fourteenth Doctor. 
  • Born January 14, 1964 Mark Addy, 59. He got a long history in genre films showing up first as Mac MacArthur in Jack Frost followed by the lead in The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas (why did anyone make this?), Roland in A Knight’s Tale (now that’s a film), Friar Tuck In Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood (has anyone seen this?) and voicing Clyde the Horse in the just released Mary Poppins Returns. Television work includeseere  Robert Baratheon on Games of Thornes, Paltraki on a episode on Doctor Who, “The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos”, and he was Hercules on a UK series called Atlantis. 
  • Born January 14, 1967 Emily Watson, 56. Her first genre appearance is in Equilibrium as Mary O’Brien before voicing Victoria Everglot in Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride. Next is she’s Anne MacMorrow in the Celtic fantasy The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep. She also was in a Nineties radio production of The Wolves of Willoughby Chase.

(11) TIME TO CONCATENATE. [Item by Jonathan Cowie.] SF2 Concatenation has just posted its spring edition (northern hemisphere academic year spring). Full contents below:

v33(1) 2023.1.15 — New Columns & Articles for the Spring 2023

(All archived annual film charts are indexed here)

v33(1) 2023.1.15 — Science Fiction & Fantasy Book Reviews

v33(1) 2023.1.15 — Non-Fiction SF & Science Fact Book Reviews

(12) SHAKE & BAKE – LET’S NOT. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] The Soyuz spacecraft currently docked at the International Space Station—which took crew of three to the ISS—has sprung a leak in its coolant system. Earthbound testing plus visual inspections by ISS crew has led the Russians to believe that the damage is from a micrometeorite (as opposed to, say, a bit of human-made space debris, which would have been traveling too slowly for the damage observed). 

Since this would lead to unacceptably high temperature and humidity for a crewed return, a plan has been developed to send the next Soyuz up empty and use it to return the three crewmembers. Planners are carefully not calling this a rescue mission. “NASA and Roscosmos share ISS Soyuz leak findings” at Popular Science.

… But on December 14, the MS-22 began leaking coolant from a radiator system. Visual inspection of the spacecraft, modeling, and experiments on the ground in Russia using a hyper-velocity gun suggest the damage came from a micrometeorite about 1 millimeter in diameter, Krikalev told reporters Wednesday. Roscosmos officials believe it was a tiny chunk of rock and not a piece of space debris, he explained, because the material was traveling at an estimated 4.3 miles per second—too fast to have maintained an orbit shared by the ISS.

Without a functioning radiator system, Krikalev said, temperatures within the Soyuz spacecraft could rise to as high as 104 degrees Fahrenheit during the roughly six hours necessary for a normal reentry process in Earth’s atmosphere. That heat, along with high humidity, is considered too risky to bring astronauts home….

(13) THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] What marks the beginning? When did humanity literally make a mark on the geological record that future geologists will point to and say there began the time those extinct upright apes become the dominant “geological superpower”? Via Wired, we have the story first appearing in the Guardian. “When Did the Anthropocene Actually Begin?”

… They could decide the start is marked with a bang, thanks to the plutonium isotopes rapidly blasted around the planet by the hydrogen bomb tests that began in late 1952, or with a shower of soot particles from the surge in fossil-fuel power plants after the Second World War.

Or they may choose the postwar explosion in artificial fertilizer use and its profound impact on the Earth’s natural nitrogen cycle. Microplastics, chicken bones, and pesticide residues may also be among the eclectic signs used to bolster the definition of the Anthropocene. Other possible signs may be found in lake beds in the US and China, Australian corals, a Polish peat bog, the black sediments beneath the Baltic Sea, and even the human debris accumulated under Vienna….

…An international team of almost 40 scientists, who have been commissioned by the official guardians of the geological timescale, must select a place where layered deposits show the clear transition from the previous age to the new one. The team has come up with a short list of 12 sites that have now begun a series of votes—but there can be only one winner. Humanity has unquestionably changed the Earth far beyond the stability of the Holocene, the 11,700-year period during which all civilization arose, and which will end with the declaration of the Anthropocene….

(14) KEEP WATCHING THE SKIES. At CNN — “Video: Hear the details of a new UFO report released by US government”.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence released a new report about UFO sightings in the United States. The US government has received over 350 UFO sighting reports since March 2021, half of which remain unexplained….

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Marvel’s Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur Official Trailer”. Available on Disney Channel 2/10/23 and Disney+ 2/15/23.

Marvel’s Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur, based on Marvel’s hit comic books, follows the adventures of 13-year-old super-genius Lunella Lafayette and her 10-ton T-Rex, Devil Dinosaur. After Lunella accidentally brings Devil Dinosaur into present-day New York City, the duo works together to protect the city’s Lower East Side from danger.

[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Bruce Arthurs, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Danny Sichel, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Dan’l Danehy-Oakes.]

Pixel Scroll 1/6/23 I See Pixels Scrolling Down Broadway And Park Avenue With A Tiny Scottie Dog By Their Side

(1) WHO HOLDS THE RECORD? Scott Edelman notes that Lightspeed has published a new short story of his titled “A Man Walks Into a Bar: In Which More Than Four Decades After My Father’s Reluctant Night of Darts on West 54th Street I Finally Understand What Needs to Be Done”. And Edelman says, “I wondered how that compared to with other titles in our field, and dug out a science fiction book of list from 40 years ago which included a list of the longest titles” — The SF Book of Lists by Maxim Jakubowski and Malcolm Edwards, published in 1983. 

It shows Michael Bishop’s “On the Street of the Serpents or, The Assassination of Chairman Mao, as Effected by the Author in Seville, Spain, in the Spring of 1992, a Year of No Certain Historicity” as #1, with 31 words.

My story is also 31 words … but his is 169 characters to my 161.

When I sold the story to Lightspeed, I asked on social media for input on long titles since the time that list was assembled, and no one came up with anything longer.

Edelman appeals to File 770 readers, “With your vast intellects… do you know of any?”

The gallery below contains the three-page list – click for larger images.

(2) A STEP BACK. Publishing Perspectives reports industry decline in “AAP: US Book Publishing Revenues Down 9.3 Percent in October”

…In the October 2022 StatShot report, total revenues across all categories were listed as being down 9.3 percent over October 2021. As has happened throughout 2022, of course, observers look at year-over-year comparisons carefully, mindful that 2021 was the second year of the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic‘s effects on the marketplace, both in the States and abroad….

(3) IRRESISTABLE TARGET. [Item by Jennifer Hawthorne.] Slate’s book critic Laura Miller did something rather unfair(-ish) and did a review of the first chapter of a fantasy book that Ross Douthat, conservative NY Times columnist, is writing.  I thought it contained some interesting points about how NOT to start a fantasy novel. “Ross Douthat’s fantasy novel: first chapter of The Falcon’s Children, reviewed.”

New York Times opinion columnist Ross Douthat recently revealed that he has written the first volume in a trilogy of fantasy novels. Titled The Falcon’s Children, it has not been a hit with the “reasonable list of reputable publishing houses” Douthat says he’s submitted it to. In an end-of-year what-the-hell mood, the author posted the prologue and first chapter to his otherwise dormant Substack. “Why,” New York magazine’s Choire Sicha asked on Twitter, “are publishers not desperate for Ross Douthat’s fantasy novel? History tells us this the one thing you actually do want a tortured moralizing Christian to write!” In keeping with Douthat’s good-faith request for feedback, here’s a good-faith critique that might help answer Sicha’s question…..

(4) FAAN VOTING BEGINS. Nic Farey today distributed The Incompleat Register 2022, the voters’ guide and pro forma ballot for the 2023 FAAn awards. Voting is open and continues until midnight (Pacific time) Friday March 10, 2023. The award recognizes work in fanzines.

The awards will be announced at Corflu Craic in Belfast, Northern Ireland on April 2 2023.

Voting is open to anyone with an interest in fanzines, membership in Corflu is not required.

(5) GEARHEADS. “For ‘Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio,’ a Star Built From Tiny Gears and 3-D Printing” – the New York Times finds out how it’s done.

…He likened the mechanics inside puppet heads to components of a Swiss watch. “Those heads are not much bigger than a ping-pong ball or a walnut,” he said, explaining that the animator moves the gears by putting a tiny tool into the character’s ear or the top of its head. “The gears are linked to the puppet’s silicone skin, enabling the animator to create the nuances you see on a big cinema screen,” he said.

The introduction of geared heads was part of a series of overlapping waves of innovation in stop-motion that brought visuals to the screen that had never been possible. Nick Park and the artists at the British Aardman Animations sculpted new subtleties into clay animation in “Creature Comforts” (1989) and “The Wrong Trousers” (1993). Meanwhile, Disney’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas” (1993) showcased the new technology of facial replacement. A library of three-dimensional expressions was sculpted and molded for each character; an animator snapped out one section of the face and replaced it with a slightly different one between exposures. Then the Portland, Ore.-based Laika Studios pushed this technique further, using 3-D printing to create faces, beginning with “Coraline” (2009).

For “Pinocchio,” which debuted on Netflix a few months after Disney released Robert Zemeckis’s partly animated version of the story, most of the puppets were built at ShadowMachine in Portland, where most of the film was shot. Candlewick, the human boy Pinocchio befriends in the film, “has threads set into the corners of his mouth which are attached to a double-barreled gear system,” explained Georgina Hayns, an alumna of Mackinnon and Saunders who was director of character fabrication at ShadowMachine. “If you turn the gear inside the ear clockwise, it pulls the upper thread and creates a smile. If you turn it anticlockwise, it pulls a lower thread which produces a frown. It really is amazing.”…

(6) ONE SIX. “A Jan. 6 Comic Book Asks the Terrifying Question: What if the Coup Had Worked?”Vice interviews the creators.

…The first wave of the mob breaks into the Capitol and ascends the stairs from the first floor to the second. Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman backs up to the top of the steps to try and divert the marauders. Goodman tries to get the crowd to go left. Instead they go right, overrunning him, and happen upon Vice President Mike Pence, who’s just off the Senate Floor. It’s a disaster. 

This a nearly-real scene from new, four-part comic series “1/6“ from Harvard law professor Alan Jenkins and author and activist Gan Golan.  It’s a speculative telling of the January 6 insurrection and coup attempt in an oppressive and authoritarian world where the mob, and Donald Trump, succeeded. (You’ll be able to find it on Amazon, in comic shops and in book stores starting on Jan. 8.) …

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 6, 1905 Eric Frank Russell. He won the first Hugo Award given for Best Short Story at Clevention in 1955 with “Allamagoosa”, published in the May 1955 issue of Astounding Science FictionSinister Barrier, his first novel, appeared in Unknown in 1939, the first novel to appear there. What’s your favorite work by him? (Died 1978.)
  • Born January 6, 1954 Anthony Minghella. He adapted his Jim Henson’s The Storyteller scripts into story form which were published in his Jim Henson’s The Storyteller collection. They’re quite excellent actually. Genre adjacent, well not really, but he did write an episodes of the excellent Inspector Morse series, “Driven To Distraction”. (Died 2008.)
  • Born January 6, 1955 Rowan Atkinson, 68. An unlikely Birthday perhaps except for that he was the lead in Doctor Who and The Curse of Fatal Death which I know did not give him the dubious distinction of the shortest lived Doctor as that goes to another actor although who I’ve not a clue.  Other genre appearances were scant I think (clause inserted for the nitpickers here) though he did play Nigel Small-Fawcett in Never Say Never Again and Mr. Stringer in The Witches which I really like even if the author hates. 
  • Born January 6, 1959 Ahrvid Engholm, 64. Swedish conrunning and fanzine fan who worked on many Nasacons as well as on Swecons. Founder of the long running Baltcon. He has many fanzines including Vheckans Avfentyr, Fanytt, Multum Est and others. He was a member of Lund Fantasy Fan Society in the University of Lund.
  • Born January 6, 1960 Andrea Thompson, 63. Her noted genre work was as the telepath Talia Winters on Babylon 5. Her first genre role was in Nightmare Weekend which I’ll say was definitely a schlock film. Next up was playing a monster in the short-lived Monsters anthology series. She had a one-off on Quantum Leap before landing the Talia Winters gig. Then came Captain Simian & The Space Monkeys. Really. Truly I’m not kidding. Her last genre role to date appears to be in the Heroes: Destiny web series.
  • Born January 6, 1969 Aron Eisenberg. Nog on Deep Space 9. Way after DS9, he’d show up in Renegades, a might-be Trek series loaded with Trek alumni including Nichelle Nichols, Robert Beltran, Koenig and Terry Farrell. It lasted two episodes. Lifelong suffer of kidney disease, he died from it at just age fifty. (Died 2019.)
  • Born January 6, 1976 Guy Adams, 47. If you’ve listened to a Big Finish audio-work, it’s likely that you are familiar with his writing as he’s done scripts for their Doctor, UNIT and Torchwood series among his many endeavors there. Not surprisingly, he’s also written novels on Doctor Who, Torchwood, Sherlock Holmes and so forth. I’ve read some of his Torchwood novels — they’re good popcorn literature. 

(8) SHE-HULK. Marvel announces the next arc in author Rainbow Rowell’s run on She-Hulk will take things to the next level for the character’s 175th issue issue in April. 

 In the pages of her latest solo series, Jennifer Walters has reopened her law practice, took on some of her most intense cases yet, defeated a duo of new villains, and even found time for a new romance! But this April in SHE-HULK #12, She-Hulk’s promising new super hero journey will be threatened by a dangerous new archnemesis known as THE SCOUNDREL! Just in time for her 175th solo issue, She-Hulk will meet her match in a wild showdown that will have all her fans talking!

“Every issue that I get to write She-Hulk is a delight — but I’m especially honored to escort her to her 175th issue,” Rowell said. “One of things we’ve focused on is building up Jen’s narrative support structure… Giving her friends, colleagues, a love interest and her very own antagonists. The Scoundrel is an adversary tailor-made for Jennifer Walters. A lot of things come easily for Jen. Nothing about the Scoundrel is easy.”

Check out Jen Bartel’s cover below.

(9) MALIGN HARDWARE. “‘M3gan’ Review: Wherever I Go, She Goes” from the New York Times.

…In a headier movie, there might be some misdirection. But M3gan (performed by Amie Donald) is clearly pure evil from the start. She’s a great heavy: stylish, archly wry, intensely watchful. Her wanton violence never gets graphic enough to lose a PG-13 rating. In early January, when prestige holiday fare tends to give way to trashier pleasures, a good monster and a sense of humor can be enough. This movie has both, and it makes up for a slow start, some absurd dialogue (“You didn’t code in parental controls?”) and a by-the-book conclusion….

(10) UK TOP BOX OFFICE TOP TEN FILMS OF 2022. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] SF2 Concatenation has just tweeted an advance post ahead of its Spring seasonal edition of its regular meta-analysis of 52 weekly top ten British Isles box office rankings: “Top Science Fiction Films – 2022”.

This is a box office analysis and so reflects the broader public interest in SF film and not that of SF fans. Scroll down the page on the latter link to see other (non-top ten) SF films of the year. Links to trailers are included.

(11) CROCNADO. “British Comedy ‘Peter Pan Goes Wrong’ Plans Spring Broadway Bow” reports the New York Times. “The farce, by the team behind ‘The Play That Goes Wrong,’ is about a bumbling theater company attempting to stage the popular children’s play.”

…The play’s creators are Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields, who also wrote “The Play That Goes Wrong”; the three will again star in their production. “Peter Pan Goes Wrong” features the same slapstick sensibility as the earlier play, but has a bit more character development, and an even crazier set.

“The fictional theater company is taking on a much more ambitious production, with flying, crocodiles and a revolving stage, and they put on the play with the same disastrous results,” Lewis said. “You get more behind the scenes into what’s going on with the characters, as well as all the farce and the madcap comedy.”…

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

Pixel Scroll 1/4/23 Give It To Me Pixelled, Doctor, I Can Scroll It!

(1) EARLY 2023 AWARDS WARNING. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] The SF2 Concatenation has just tweeted its annual, internal poll as to the Best Science Fiction Books and Films of the Year.  This is just a bit of informal fun and most certainly not to be taken too seriously. Having said that, previous years have seen a few works go on to win awards (scroll down the previous link).

(2) DEMOCRACY AT WORK. Meanwhile, the Critters Writers Workshop Readers Poll is taking votes from the public through January 14. Categories added this year: Magical Realism, Positive Future Fiction (novel & short story).

The award is unique for posting a running tally of the leaders in every category while voting is carried on.

I can say that I have actually heard of one of the top ten leaders in the Science Fiction & Fantasy category. (Reflecting on this process, I have to wonder why the Dragon Awards shortlists aren’t filled with the same kinds of indie books.)

(3) KGB. Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present Christopher M. Cevasco and A. T. Greenblatt on Wednesday, January 11.

Christopher M. Cevasco

Christopher M. Cevasco’s debut novel Beheld: Godiva’s Story (Lethe) was released in April 2022. His stories have appeared in such venues as Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Black Static, and Shades of Blue and Gray: Ghosts of the Civil War (Prime). After ten years in Brooklyn, Chris and his wife moved to Myrtle Beach, SC, where they live with their two children.

A. T. Greenblatt

A. T. Greenblatt is a Nebula award winning short story writer. Her stories and essays have appeared in SlateTor.com, Uncanny, and many other places. She has been a finalist for the Hugo, Locus, Sturgeon, and WSFS awards. By day, she is a systems engineer and lives in Brooklyn.

At the KGB Bar, 85 East 4th Street, New York, NY 10003 (Just off 2nd Ave, upstairs) on January 11. Begins at 7:00 p.m. Eastern.

(4) PERPETUALLY PEEVED. C. T. May is “mad at Harlan Ellison” for reasons explained in “A Good Story, a Great Story, and the Guy Who Couldn’t Tell Them Apart” at Splice Today.

Harlan Ellison was a very loud man. Even when he made a passing, matter-of-fact observation, it would be noisily matter-of-fact. For instance, “the two men wrote almost identical stories,” he once asserted. The two men, a pair of innocent authors, had done no such thing. But Ellison said otherwise to readers of Again, Dangerous Visions, the long-ago s.f. anthology that he compiled. I’m mad because a dead science fiction author didn’t understand a couple of stories.

Lord Dunsany wrote “Two Bottles of Relish,” and John Collier wrote “The Touch of Nutmeg Makes It.” A condiment and a spice, that’s a parallel. Further, each story involves murder and builds to a wicked one-line payoff, and the goal of each payoff is to chill the blood and flatter reader sophistication by laying before us a bitter, even grotesque secret regarding human nature and what people are capable of. The two stories are even told in a similar way: a character narrates what he saw other men say and do.

Those are some striking points of resemblance. I’d say the task of an intelligent person is to recognize that they’re just a list. Add these things up and you don’t get the same story twice….

Ellison opined on the two stories in his introduction to “Getting Along” by James Blish…

(5) DOINK DOINK. A case of New York publishing law and order is reaching its conclusion: “The End of a Book World Mystery: A Suspect in Manuscript Thefts to Plead Guilty” reports the New York Times.

The mystery captivated the book world: For years, someone impersonated authors and agents, editors and publishers, trying to steal unpublished book manuscripts from high profile authors like Margaret Atwood, Ian McEwan and Ethan Hawke, but also from debut novelists and writers of more obscure works.

Now, a resolution to the yearslong scheme is near. On Friday, Filippo Bernardini is expected to plead guilty to wire fraud in front of a magistrate court judge in Manhattan, according to an email from the office of the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York that was sent to victims on Tuesday.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation arrested Bernardini early last year, saying he had “impersonated, defrauded, and attempted to defraud, hundreds of individuals” over five or more years, gaining access to hundreds of unpublished manuscripts in the process….

(6) LOOK FOR THE UNION LABEL. “Video game workers form Microsoft’s first US labor union” – the Associated Press has details.

A group of video game testers is forming Microsoft’s first labor union in the U.S., which will also be the largest in the video game industry.

The Communications Workers of America said Tuesday that a majority of about 300 quality-assurance workers at Microsoft video game subsidiary ZeniMax Studios has voted to join the union.

Microsoft already told the CWA it would accept the formation of the union at its Maryland video game subsidiary, fulfilling a promise it made to try to build public support for its $68.7-billion acquisition of another big game company, Activision Blizzard….

… The unionization campaign accelerated thanks to Microsoft’s ongoing bid to buy Santa Monica game giant Activision Blizzard. Microsoft, which is based in Redmond, Wash., made a June pact with the CWA union to stay neutral if Activision Blizzard workers sought to form a union….

(7) LET’S YOU AND HIM FIGHT. [Item by Michael Kennedy.] Is it punching down or punching up if Wolverine attacks Deadpool?

Actor Ryan Reynolds has been receiving Oscar attention for his song “Good Afternoon” in the Christmas flick Spirited. Hugh Jackman, who will be playing Wolverine opposite Reynolds‘ Deadpool in the upcoming Deadpool sequel, has thoughts. His video tweet jokes, “Ryan Reynolds getting a nomination in the best song category would make the next year of my life insufferable. I have to spend a year with him shooting Wolverine and Deadpool. Trust me, it would be impossible. It would be a problem.”

Variety analyzes Jackman’s tweet here: “Hugh Jackman Roasts Ryan Reynolds: Don’t Give ‘Spirited’ an Oscar Nom”.

Ryan Reynolds has earned himself a spot on the Oscar shortlist for best song for “Good Afternoon,” from his Christmas movie “Spirited” with Will Ferrell. But Hugh Jackman, who is preparing to star alongside Reynolds in the upcoming “Deadpool” sequel, hopes the Academy refrains from further boosting Reynolds’ ego with a nomination….

Or you can just watch it yourself.

(8) SUZY MCKEE CHARNAS (1939-2023). Author Suzy McKee Charnas died January 4. The author of many groundbreaking books (to quote Catherine Lundoff), her first published book, Walk to the End of the World, appeared in 1974 and later won a retrospective Otherwise Award. Her novella “Unicorn Tapestry” won a 1981 Nebula. Her short story “Boobs” won the Hugo Award in 1990.

Charnas’ story “Beauty and the Opéra or The Phantom Beast”  was shortlisted for the 1997 Hugo, World Fantasy, and Theodore Sturgeon awards.

She was a three-time winner of the Otherwise Award for Motherlines (1996; retrospective), Walk to the End of the World (1996, retrospective), and The Conqueror’s Child (2000).

Her series The Holdfast Chronicles was named to the Gaylactic Spectrum Hall of Fame in 2003.

The Kingdom of Kevin Malone won the Mythopoeic Award for Children’s Fantasy (1994).

Read more about her writing in John Clute’s SFE entry: Charnas, Suzy McKee. Her own website is: Suzy McKee Charnas science fiction.

Michael Swanwick also shared a significant memory in “Suzy McKee Charnas Meets Her Ideal Reader”.

…I met Ms. Charnas only once, back in the eighties, and I doubt I made much of an impression on her. But it’s worth recounting because that was the time she first met Judith Moffett.

Judy Moffett began as a serious poet (I greatly admire her collection Whinny Moor Crossing, the title poem in particular), fell into science fiction almost by accident, and quickly became an intensely admired novelist and short fiction writer. She was and is one of those tough-minded, tolerate-no-nonsense, totally admirable women who find in genre a place where they can think and do exactly as they like. And she admired the hell out of Suzy McKee Charnas. Most particularly, as with me, for The Vampire Tapestry.

Judy’s day job was as an academic at the University of  Pennsylvania, where she taught, among other things, a science fiction class. As part of which, that year, the class did a reading of a script–I think written by Judy, but it’s been a long time–of one of the component stories of the Tapestry. The protagonist was female but the student reading her lines was male.

Judy wrote to Suzy McKee Charnas telling her about the project and inviting her to come and witness an encore performance. An invitation which was readily accepted….

(9) MEMORY LANE.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

Waffles, or rather food in Emma Bull’s Finder: A Novel of the Borderlands

We sat at the round table that was just the right size for two; I don’t know if the Ticker ever has dinner parties. If she does, she can probably find another table. This one was made of some highly-polished golden wood in high Art Nouveau style. Heaven only knows how these things come into Bordertown, or, once they have, why they should land on Tick-Tick’s doorstep instead of in some parlor on Dragonstooth Hill.

The alcohol was gone from the liqueur, the strawberries were warmed and softened, and some of the sugars had caramelized. The waffles were crisp all around the edges and soft in the middle. And the Ticker had stopped me just in time on the whipped cream. There was hot tea to wash it down with, which tasted something like Darjeeling and something like not. It was related to last night’s shower: It was a meal to make me grovellingly happy to be alive.

— Orient in Emma Bull’s Finder: a Novel of The Borderlands

I have written this novel up here as one of my favorite novels but I’ve don’t think I mentioned in that review that food plays a role in it. Another scene takes place in the Hard Luck Cafe. 

Here’s the best quote from the part of that novel: 

It was warm inside in spite of the fans, and busy, and noisy, and remarkably like a combination of farmhouse kitchen, private club, and arts salon. Anyone who makes trouble at the Hard Luck Cafe is considered an incurable misfit, even within the loose social contract of Bordertown, and is not welcome anywhere, to anything. Consequently, the Hard Luck’s habituTs include humans, elves, and halfies, people from Dragontown and shimmers from up on the Tooth, painters and gang leaders. It’s such a desirable place to simply be that it’s almost too much to hope that the food is good. The food is good.

I peered at the back wall and the blackboard that serves as menu. The Hard Luck is a cooperative, and the people working the kitchen cook whatever they feel like that day. Certain things are almost always availableùburgers for the philistines, for instance—but if the staff decides they want to do Chinese that day, that’s what’s for dinner. If you don’t like it, that’s—all together now — Your Hard Luck. That day it looked like mixed down-home: fish chowder, lentil and spinach casserole, stuffed peppers, Brunswick stew.

Finally I need to mention the strawberries:

I sliced strawberries with all my attention. They were particularly fine ones, large and white clear through without a hint of pink. (Wild Borderland strawberries are one of the Border’s little jokes. They form bright red, and fade as they ripen. No strawberry has ever been so sweet.)

The novel is so richly, not just with these note, but everything that it brings the unnamed city, its inhabitants and the surrounding area to a quite vivid reality.  As I said in my post on the novel, I highly recommend Finder. But then I send Will and Emma dark chocolate which tells you how much I like them, so why wouldn’t I? 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 4, 1785 Jacob Grimm. Here solely for two reasons, the first being that he and his brother were the first to systematically collect folktales from the peasantry and write them down. Second is that the number of genre novels and short stories that used the Grimms’ Fairy Tales as their source for ideas is, well, if not infinite certainly a really high number. I’d wager that taking just those stories in any of The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror would get quite a number based on these tales. (Died 1863.)
  • Born January 4, 1927 Barbara Rush, 96. She won a Golden Globe Award as the most promising female newcomer for being Ellen Fields in It Came From Outer Space. She portrayed Nora Clavicle in Batman, and was found in other genre programs such as the revival version of Outer LimitsNight GalleryThe Bionic Woman and The Twilight Zone.
  • Born January 4, 1946 Ramsey Campbell, 77. My favorite novel by him is without doubt The Darkest Part of the Woods which has a quietly building horror to it. I know he’s better-known for his sprawling (pun full intended) Cthulhu mythology writings but I never got into those preferring his other novels such as his Solomon Kane movie novelization which is quite superb.
  • Born January 4, 1958 Matt Frewer, 65. His greatest role has to be as Max Headroom on the short-lived series of the same name. Amazingly I think it still stands thirty-five years later as SF well-crafted. Just a taste of his later series SF appearances include playing Jim Taggart, scientist  and dog catcher on Eureka, Pestilence in Supernatural, Dr. Kirschner in 12 Monkeys and Carnage in Altered Carbon. His film genre appearance list is just as impressive but I’ll single out SupergirlHoney, I Shrunk the KidsThe StandMonty Python’s The Meaning of Life (oh do guess where he is in it) and lastly Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, a series of films that I really like.
  • Born January 4, 1960 Michael Stipe, 63. Lead singer of R.E.M. which has done a few songs that I could say are genre adjacent. But no, I’ve got him here for being involved in a delightful project called Stay Awake: Various Interpretations of Music from Vintage Disney Films. Lots of great songs given interesting new recordings. His contribution was “Little April Shower” from Bambi which he covered along with Natalie Merchant, Michael Stipe, Mark Bingham and The Roches. Fun stuff indeed! 
  • Born January 4, 2000 Addy Miller, 23. She is on the Birthday List for being Sarah in Plan 9. Really? They remade that movie? Why? And yes, she played A Walker in that other show. My fav role by her is because of the title, it was a short called Ghost Trek: Goomba Body Snatchers Mortuary Lockdown, in which she was Scary Carrie Carmichael. And yes, you can watch it here.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • Speed Bump turns a miraculous moment into a mundane complaint. (And yet it’s not about social media…)

(12) BRACE YOURSELVES. Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki will be part of HWA New York’s  “Galactic Terrors” online reading series on January 12, along with Meghan Arcuri and Nathan Carson, with co-hosts Carol Gyzander and James Chambers. The writers will read their stories live and take questions.

(13) CONTINUED NEXT ROCK. Atlas Obscura has pictures of a “Hidden J.R.R. Tolkien Quote – Natural Bridge, Virginia”.

VIRGINIA’S NATURAL BRIDGE IS a wonder in and of itself. It’s no surprise that North America’s largest natural land bridge has been drawing people to it for centuries. But those who visit Natural Bridge State Park just to see the enormous stone structure miss risking one of its hidden gems.

Head to Cedar Creek, and you’ll find a literary surprise. There, etched into the side of a large rock, is a J.R.R. Tolkien quote….

(14) HISTORIC SOUND RECORDINGS PRESERVED. “Wax Cylinders Hold Audio From a Century Ago. The Library Is Listening.” And the New York Times eavesdrops.

 The first recording, swathed in sheets of distortion, was nonetheless recognizable as a child’s voice — small, nervous, encouraged by his father — wishing a very Merry Christmas to whoever was listening.

The second recording, though still noisy, adequately captured the finale of the second act of “Aida,” performed by the German singer Johanna Gadski at the Metropolitan Opera House in the spring of 1903.

And the third recording was the clearest yet: the waltz from “Romeo and Juliet,” also from the Met, sung by the Australian soprano Nellie Melba.

Accessed by laptop in a conference room at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, the recordings had been excavated and digitized from a much older source: wax cylinders, an audio format popularized in the late 19th century as the first commercial means of recording sound. These particular documentations originated with Lionel Mapleson, an English-born librarian for the Metropolitan Opera, who made hundreds of wax cylinder recordings, capturing both the turn-of-the-century opera performances he saw as part of his job and the minutiae of family life….

…These particular cylinders were previously available to the library in the 1980s, when they were transferred to magnetic tape and released as part of a six-volume LP set compiling the Mapleson recordings. After that, they were returned to the Mapleson family, while the greater collection stayed with the library. But, Wood said, “there’s people all over the world that are convinced that a new transfer of those cylinders would reveal more audio details than the previous ones.”

Wax cylinders were traditionally played on a phonograph, where, similar to a modern record player, a stylus followed grooves in the wax and translated the information into sound. The Endpoint machine uses a laser that places less stress on the cylinders, allowing it to take a detailed imprint without sacrificing physical integrity, and to adjust for how some cylinders have warped over time. The machine can retrieve information from broken cylinder shards that are incapable of being traditionally played, which can then be digitally reconstituted into a complete recording.

Within the next few years, the library hopes to digitize both the cylinders and the diaries, and make them available to the public. The non-Mapleson cylinders in the library’s collection are also eligible to be digitized, though Wood said that process will be determined based on requests for certain cylinders. The library’s engineers are shared across departments, and with a backlog of thousands, she said, “We have to wait our turn.”…

(15) TAILS OF CLI-FI. The Scientist Magazine says “Animals Are Shape-Shifting in Response to a Warming World”.

At the South African nature preserve where Miya Warrington and colleagues study Cape ground squirrels (Xerus inauris), the maximum daily temperature has increased by about 2.5 °C in just 18 years. The animals have evolved a quiver of tactics to tolerate the region’s sweltering heat, says Warrington, a conservation ecologist at the University of Manitoba. Sprawling flat on the ground in a pose called splooting, for example, helps the animals shed heat from their less furry undersides. The squirrels also take shady respites under their bushy tails, which they curl above their heads like tiny parasols. When it’s really hot, the fossorial mammals retreat to their burrows to cool off. But Warrington warns that, even with all these options for keeping cool, “still they could be at the limits of their tolerance” due to such a rapid climactic shift.

That intense pressure could be why their bodies have begun to change shape, Warrington says. She found that, over the course of just under two decades, the squirrels’ already incredibly large hind feet, which may help dissipate heat, have grown relative to their body sizes by about 11 percent. Meanwhile, their spine lengths have become about 6 percent shorter….

(16) THE NEXT CRISIS. “’Foundation’ Season 2 Release Date on Apple TV Plus, Trailer” discussed at TV Line.

Apple TV+ has unveiled a sneak peek at the upcoming season, which you can check out above, featuring Gaal making her way home and Brother Day bracing for a potential war. New episodes will arrive this summer, the streamer has announced.

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

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 11/24/22 On The Avenue, Second-Fifth Avenue, The Filetographers Will Snap Us, And You’ll Find That You’re In The Pixelgravure

(1) TURKEY DAY. Following that overstuffed title it’s time to pay homage to another Thanksgiving tradition, one I’m sure you’ll immediately recognize.

(2) SIGNERS OF THE TIMES. “Bob Dylan Gets Tangled Up in Book Autograph Controversy” – the New York Times tells why.

Simon & Schuster sold 900 signed copies of the singer’s new essay collection, but superfans and internet sleuths noticed something wasn’t right with the autograph. Now the publisher is issuing refunds.

… So when Simon & Schuster, Dylan’s publisher, advertised limited-edition, hand-signed copies of the musician’s new collection of essays for $600 each, Bernstein was among 900 fans who went for one. Last week, he received his copy of “The Philosophy of Modern Song,” Dylan’s first collection of writings since he won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2016, with a letter of authenticity signed by Jonathan Karp, the publisher’s chief executive.

There was only one problem.

Karp’s signature “looked more legit than Bob’s,” Bernstein said.

Bernstein was one of hundreds of fans who sleuthed their way around social media, reaching the conclusion that the supposedly hand-signed books had not, in fact, been signed by Dylan.

“I got the nostalgia bug,” said Bernstein, who already owned an unsigned copy of the book, as well as a Kindle version and an audio version. He added, “If he touches this book — he wrote it, signed it — it feels like the soul of Bob Dylan is with me.”

Instead, many fans suggested that the “autographed” copies of the book had been signed by a machine….

(3) OCTOTHORPE. “Just Nearly Froze to Death”, Octothorpe episode 71, is ready for listeners.

John is on the Holodeck, Alison is in the past, and Liz is at school. We discuss what Alison got up to at Novacon before chatting about a few other bits and bobs. Listen here!

(4) SMACKAGE. “Stephen King, Elon Musk spar: MyPillow will be Twitter’s ‘only advertiser’” on MarketWatch.

That was master of horror and bestselling fiction writer Stephen King riffing on the parade of advertisers including GM, United Airlines and Audi pausing or scrapping their marketing on the social-media platform since Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk took over…. 

…This is perhaps why Musk responded to King’s most recent tweet about MyPillow with “Oh hi lol.” 

Musk followed up by asking, “Is My Pillow actually a great pillow? Now I’m curious.” 

(5) DRAGONS DEFENDED. In “Weber & Correia on the mil-SF Dragon Award” – Camestros Felapton delivers lengthy excerpts from the two authors’ remarks delivered in the wake of the Dragon Awards deleting the Military SF category. Weber tries to justify the decision to his grumpy fan base, and Larry Correia upbraids “the people who are nominally supposed to be on my side” for their “black pilled doom nonsense.” If you care what Weber and Correia think about the situation, this would be the place to find out.

(6) PUSH THE PANIC BUTTON! SF2 Concatenation, in an Autumn 2022 editorial headlined “The 2023 Worldcon in China may be cancelled! If, that is, the UN COP15 Convention on Biodiversity (CBD-COP15) changes are a portent”,  is volunteering the Winnipeg NASFiC as the backup plan.

The 2023 Worldcon in Chengdu China has had its problems, not least political controversy due to its Guests of Honours’ support for political aggression, namely: China’s Uyghur policy, Putin’s war on Ukraine and apparent tacit support (being willing to share a platform with those of such views) thereof respectively.  However, these are not  the reasons the event may be cancelled.  China has a strict ‘zero CoVID-19 policy that has meant that as soon as a number of cases are reported in a city, then that city is put into strict lockdown: this has already happened a number of times this year.  So, for instance, following discussions with China, on 21st June (2022) the United Nations announced that the CBD-COP15 meeting would no longer be held in Kumming, China, but be held instead 5th – 17th December (2022) in Montreal, Canada.  The risk of the CBD-COP running foul of, or even itself causing – with the international influx of thousands of participants – a mini CoVID outbreak so triggering, a strict lockdown in Kumming was real enough for the UN to make the change: it was considered a non-trivial risk….

Meanwhile, following the above being written in July-August following the UN CBD-COP15 change, at the beginning of September (2022) 25 million people in Chengdu, China, have been put in lockdown.  This is a portent if ever one should be needed, irrespective with what has already happened with the UN’s CBD-COP15.

The crew’s vision for rescuing the Hugo Awards is a little shortsighted — “The rest could be arranged by those regularly associated with WSFS governance (the World SF Society being the body under whose auspices the Hugo’s are organised)” – because WSFS is not an administrative body, it is the members of the seated Worldcons. There’s no WSFS management to pull the plug on Chengdu, or to take funds from them to pay for award trophies. That would take the Chengdu Worldcon’s cooperation. And consider that the minimum requirements for the Worldcon are far more modest than a UN convention. What if Chengdu fell back on doing a virtual Worldcon, like CoNZealand?

(7) MEMORY LANE.

1993 [By Cat Eldridge.] Tombstone 

The Old West has a significant impact upon the SFF genre, be it in video such as Star Trek’s “Spectre of the Gun”, Doctor Who’s “A Town Called Mercy”, The Wild Wild West series or, to note but two novels, Emma Bull’s Territory and Midori Snyder’s The Flight of Michael McBride

So I’m going to look at some of my favorite Westerns starting with the Tombstone which premiered twenty-nine years ago. 

It directed by George P. Cosmatos from a screenplay by Kevin Jarre. He was also the original director, but was replaced early in production.  It had three producers — James Jacks, Sean Daniel and Bob Misiorowski.

It quite possibly the most extraordinary cast ever assembled for a Western —  Kurt Russell, Val Kilmer and Sam Elliott in lead roles, and with Bill Paxton, Powers Boothe, Michael Biehn, and Dana Delany in supporting roles, as well as narration by Robert Mitchum. The Dana Delany appearance, though brief, I think was one of her best ever.

The film was screenwriter Kevin Jarre’s first job as director but he was overwhelmed by the job, failing to get needed shots and falling behind the shooting schedule. Biehn threaten to quit being his close friend but Russell talked him out of it.

I see no need for spoilers as likely you know the story as they really didn’t deviate that much from what has been told before. It’s how they told it that I find such a stellar story. Each of the principal characters is realized, a completely believable human being. And each is given enough lines to come to life in this story. If I had to single out one actor here in particular, it’d be Val Kilmer as the dying Doc Holliday. That is a performance for the ages. 

One of the actors gets much of the credit for what the final shooting script looks like. Russell worked endlessly with producer Jacks to ruthlessly cut to the bone Jarre’s originally vastly overblown script, deleting endless subplots and emphasizing the oh so important relationship between Wyatt and Doc. 

It is disputed to this day who directed the actual film. Russell claims that he and not Cosmatos did. He says that the latter was brought in as a “ghost director” because Russell did not want it to be known at the time that he was directing the film. 

Critics either really liked it or really, really hated it. The latter, all male I must note, thought it treated women badly. I didn’t. 

Box office wise, it was a fantastic success, making three times what it cost to produce. 

I’ve watched it at least a half dozen times. The Suck Fairy has equally enjoyed it each times she’s viewed it with me. She particularly liked the final scene with Kurt Russell as Wyatt Earp and Dana Delany as Josephine Marcus dancing in the snow in San Francisco. She does have a soft heart, you know.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 24, 1882 E. R. Eddison. Writer whose most well-known work by far is The Worm Ouroboros. It’s slightly connected to his much lesser known later Zimiamvian Trilogy. I’m reasonably that sure I’ve read The Worm Ouroboros but way too long ago to remember anything about it. Silverberg in the Millenium Fantasy Masterworks Series edition of this novel said he considered it to be “the greatest high fantasy of them all”. (Died 1945.)
  • Born November 24, 1907 Evangeline Walton. Her best-known work, the Mabinogion tetralogy, was written during the late 1930s and early 1940s, and her Theseus trilogy was produced during the late 1940s. It’s worth stressing Walton is best known for her four novels retelling the Welsh Mabinogi. She published her first volume in 1936 under the publisher’s title of The Virgin and the Swine which is inarguably a terrible title. Although receiving glowing praise from John Cowper Powys, the book sold quite awfully and none of the other novels in the series were published at that time. Granted a second chance by Ballantine’s Adult Fantasy series in 1970, it was reissued with a much better title of The Island of the Mighty. The other three volumes followed quickly. Witch House is an occult horror story set in New England and She Walks in Darkness which came out on Tachyon Press is genre as well. I think that is the extent of her genre work but I’d be delighted to be corrected. She has won a number of Awards including the Mythopoeic Award for Adult Literature, Best Novel along with The Fritz Leiber Fantasy Award, World Fantasy Award, Convention Award and the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement. (Died 1996.) (JJ )
  • Born November 24, 1926 Forrest J Ackerman. It’s no wonder that he got a Hugo for #1 Fan Personality in 1953 and equally telling that when he was handed the trophy at Philcon II (by Asimov), he physically declined saying it should go to Ken Slater to whom the trophy was later given by the con committee. That’s a nice summation of him. You want more? As a literary agent, he represented some two hundred writers, and he served as agent of record for many long-lost authors, thereby allowing their work to be reprinted. Hell, he represented Ed Wood! He was a prolific writer, more than fifty stories to his credit, and he named Vampirella and wrote the origin story for her. His non-fiction writings are wonderful as well. I’ll just single out Forrest J Ackerman’s Worlds of Science FictionA Reference Guide to American Science Fiction Films and a work he did with Brad Linaweaver, Worlds of Tomorrow: The Amazing Universe of Science Fiction Art. Did I mention he collected everything? Well, he did. Just one location of his collection contained some three hundred thousand books, film, SF material objects and writings. The other was eighteen rooms in extent. Damn if anyone needed their own TARDIS, it was him. In his later years, he was a board member of the Seattle Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame who now have possession of many items of his collection. (Died 2008.)
  • Born November 24, 1948 Spider Robinson, 74. His first story, “The Guy with the Eyes,” was published in Analog (February 1973). It was set in a bar called Callahan’s Place, a setting for much of his later fiction.  His first published novel, Telempath in 1976 was an expansion of his Hugo award-winning novella “By Any Other Name”. The Stardance trilogy was co-written with his wife Jeanne Robinson; the first book won a Nebula. In 2004, he began working on a seven-page 1955 novel outline by the late Heinlein to expand it into a novel. The resulting novel would be called Variable Star. Who’s read it?
  • Born November 24, 1957 Denise Crosby, 65. Tasha Yar on Next Gen who got a meaningful death in “Yesterday’s Enterprise” after getting an earlier truly meaningless one. In other genre work, she was on The X-Files as a doctor who examined Agent Scully’s baby. And I really like it that she was in two Pink Panther films, Trail of the Pink Panther and Curse of the Pink Panther, as Denise, Bruno’s Moll. And she’s yet another Trek performer who’s popped doing what I call Trek video fanfic. She’s Dr. Jenna Yar in “Blood and Fire: Part 2”, an episode of the only season of Star Trek: New Voyages as Paramount was not amused. 
  • Born November 24, 1957 Jeff Noon, 65. Novelist and playwright. Prior to his relocation in 2000 to Brighton, his stories reflected in some way his native though not birth city of Manchester. The Vurt sequence whose first novel won the Arthur C. Clarke Award is a very odd riff off Alice in Wonderland that he describes as a sequel to those works. Noon was the winner of an Astounding Award for the Best New Science Fiction Writer.
  • Born November 24, 1957 John Zakour, 65. For sheer pulp pleasure, I wholeheartedly recommend his Zachary Nixon Johnson PI series which he co-wrote with Larry Ganem. Popcorn reading at its very best. It’s the only series of his I’ve read, anyone else read his other books? 
  • Born November 24, 1965 Shirley Henderson, 57. She was Moaning Myrtle in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. She was Ursula Blake in “Love & Monsters!”, a Tenth Doctor story, and played Susannah in Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story, a film that’s sf because of the metanarrative aspect.

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • Eek! shows that even a successful experiment by a mad scientist can cause problems. (Or do they always?)
  • The Far Side shows the real reason they went extinct.

(10) I SEE BY YOUR OUTFIT. Radio Times is agog as “Doctor Who unveils new look at David Tennant as Fourteenth Doctor”.

…Fans were previously treated to a closer look at Tennant’s Fourteenth Doctor outfit at MCM Comic Con last month, where a special exhibit showed off the blue coat and white trainers that the Doctor will wear in the upcoming 60th anniversary episodes, which are set to air in 2023.

The exhibit also featured the striped jumper and green jacket worn by Catherine Tate, who will be reprising her role as the Doctor’s companion Donna Noble in the three specials….

(11) SHOCKWAVE WIDER. Nature shows how “Shock waves spark blazing light from black holes”.

Radiation from a jet of ultrafast particles powered by a supermassive black hole suggests that the particles are accelerated by shock waves propagating along the jet, making them shine with the brightness of 100 billion Suns!

Most of the 200 billion galaxies in the Universe are centred around enormous black holes that can weigh as much as one billion Suns. Many of these black holes are dormant, but some are still growing, devouring gas from their surroundings and releasing vast amounts of radiation. Even fewer of these active supermassive black holes are capable of launching powerful jets from their cores — ultrafast streams of particles that shine brightly, and can travel distances of up to 100 times the size of their own galaxy. But what provides the initial kick that enables these particles to release so much energy? Writing in Nature, Liodakis et al. report that the push comes from shock waves that are generated naturally…

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Patrick McGuire, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]

Pixel Scroll 10/20/22 Pixel Was A Scrollin’ Stone

(1) GO ANTI-WOKE, GO BROKE. “Anti-Woke Superhero Movie ‘Rebel’s Run’ Blown Up in $1 Million Con” reports The Daily Beast.

An attempt to make a right-wing superhero movie has ended in disaster, with $1 million missing in China and a participant facing a federal indictment.

“I wouldn’t count on us getting the money back,” Theodore Beale, a far-right blogger known as “Vox Day,” admitted to his fans and investors in a video last week….

Vox Day had raised over a million dollars from his followers to finance a planned movie, Rebel’s Run, about the character Rebel, who often wears a Confederate flag bustier, “fighting a global police force hunting down freethinking conservatives.” That money was transferred to Utah-based Ohana Capital Financial to secure additional millions in funding. However, Ohana “was the creation of James Wolfgramm, a self-described cryptocurrency billionaire” and allegedly the money was used for other purposes. 

Unbeknownst to Beale and his supporters, the indictment alleges, Wolfgramm was deeply in debt to one of his business’s other clients. That client had paid Ohana more than $4 million in September 2020, several months into the Covid-19 pandemic, as part of what was meant to be a payment to a Chinese manufacturer of personal protective equipment. Instead of carrying out the transaction, prosecutors allege, Wolfgramm spent the millions on his own unrelated business issues.

Now seven-figures into the hole and with no PPE to show for it, Wolfgramm allegedly used the Rebel’s Run money to buy the Chinese medical equipment. Soon after that, according to a video Beale released to his fans, the blogger and his collaborators became suspicious and contacted the FBI, sparking the investigation into Wolfgramm.

Wolfgramm’s attorney didn’t respond to a request for comment. Beale declined to comment, citing the ongoing investigation.

Wolfgramm now faces four counts of wire fraud over the Rebel’s Run money and other aspects of his business. While the film’s investors might someday recoup a portion of their money through the legal system, Beale has given up on funding his superhero movie….

Camestros Felapton has been following the development of the story. Here’s the link to his latest post: “The fall of a film empire continues”.

And if you want to read Vox Day’s denial of his involvement in the disastrous money tranfser as reported by The Daily Beast [Internet Archive link]: 

…It’s a pity this didn’t run in the Swiss media, or Will Sommer would quickly find himself being dragged into a police station to face an interrogation. I never had any access to, nor did I transfer, “the $1 million” to anyone, nor have I ever had any contact whatsoever with James Wolfgramm, Ohana, or any of its employees, associates, or principals….

(2) SAY CHEESE! The Hugonauts, Brent and Cody, interview Olav Rokne and Amanda Wakaruk on the red carpet before this year’s Hugo Awards ceremony: “The Unofficial Hugo Book Club at the 2022 Hugo Awards with their favorite underrated scifi books!”

(3) WHAT CAN THE MATTER BE? Publishers Weekly is so long at the fair: “Frankfurt Book Fair 2022: ‘Romantasy’ and Revelry on the Fair Floor”.

The word of the week at the 2022 Frankfurt Book Fair, at least in the world of young adult books, is “romantasy,” a portmanteau that speaks for itself.

“Fantasy with lots of romance in the YA category seems to be a thing,” said Nicole Eisenbraun, agent and translation rights manager at Ginger Clark Literary. Claudia Galluzzi, a senior rights manager at Rights People who represents U.S. titles in Arabic, Greek, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish language markets, says that it’s practically all anyone is asking for in any of her markets.

“Rights to the titles that we had in the newer catalogs have already been snatched immediately,” Galluzzi said. Adding that the trend started with the pandemic but has grown over the past year in particular, she noted: “Obviously, you don’t want to be in the present—you want something to take you to other worlds and other realities.”

It’s a sentiment that applies to this year’s fair as well. In spite of an ever-growing list of global troubles—the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, war in Ukraine, protests in Iran (and the Iranian delegation’s last-minute withdrawal from the fair itself), worldwide supply chain issues and skyrocketing inflation—the prevailing mood at Frankfurt is a sort of giddy gratitude: to see old friends and international colleagues in person, to discuss deals over a table instead of a screen, and to party for three nights running, even in a city as oft-maligned as Germany’s financial capital…

(4) SORT OF LIKE DECAFFINATED COFFEE? The Atlantic recommends these “10 ‘Scary’ Movies for People Who Don’t Like Horror”.

Not long ago, a colleague who’s squeamish about horror movies described some of the scariest films she’d been able to make it through. One of the titles she mentioned? Bong Joon Ho’s ParasiteBut wait, I thought, that’s not a horror movie. A tense thriller, maybe, a satirical drama with some frightening set pieces, but not something that would’ve been put on the “horror” shelf in video stores, back when video stores existed.

Still, it does belong to a fun category of films that play with suspense, mystery, and creepiness without sowing constant fear; these stories unsettle but aren’t primarily made to distress and disturb viewers. Below are 10 other worthy and fascinating films that I’d consider to be great “scary” movies for people who don’t like horror. Even if you’re easily spooked, like my colleague, you’ll find something on this list to love.

The Novice (2021, directed by Lauren Hadaway)

A brilliant and sadly underseen indie movie from first-time filmmaker Hadaway, The Novice initially presents as a sports drama. A competitive college freshman named Alex Dall (played by Isabelle Fuhrman) takes a rowing class and catches the itch, quickly rising to join her school’s team. As the plot progresses, Alex’s passion turns into obsession, and she becomes particularly fixated on the clockwork consistency demanded of the best rowers. Fuhrman (known for the Orphan horror franchise) gives an intense performance, but Hadaway’s skill at ratcheting the tension to nightmare levels stands out most as Alex’s devotion turns surreal.

(5) JODIE LAWHORNE, 2023 ARISIA CHAIR, DIES. Arisia mourns the loss of their 2023 convention chair, Jodie Lawhorne, who passed away Wednesday of heart failure after a long illness. 

Nicholas “phi” Shectman, President, Arisia Inc., writes:

I am heartbroken at the loss of a friend, collaborator, and enthusiastic member of the Arisia community.  It’s hard to imagine that he won’t be there to see what we all have created together, but I am buoyed by the work that the community is doing in this sad time to keep Arisia 2023 going forward.  I am especially grateful to Alan and Michelle Wexelblat who will be stepping in to chair the convention.

(6) MEMORY LANE.

1987 [By Cat Eldridge.] Thirty-five years ago this month, The Hidden premiered. Directed by Jack Sholder and produced by committee as it had three producers (Michael L. Meltzer, Gerald T. Olson and Robert Shaye). 

It was written by Jim Kouf under the pseudonym Bob Hunt. Kouf being an Edgar Award being a screenplay writer apparently decided not to be associated with this film. 

It had a cast of Kyle MacLachlan, Michael Nouri, Clu Gulager, Chris Mulkey, Ed O’Ross, Clarence Felder, Claudia Christian and Larry Cedar. 

Critics liked it, with Roger Ebert calling it “a surprisingly effective film“. It has gained cult status.   Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it an excellent seventy-three rating. It likely more or less lost at least something even after making ten million as it cost five million to make and figuring in publicity costs that suggests a loss. 

A sequel, The Hidden II, came out six years later. It did not have the cast of the original film. Let’s just say that it wasn’t well received and leave it there. 

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 20, 1905 Frederic Dannay. Creator and writer, along with Manfred Bennington Lee, of Ellery Queen. Now I wasn’t going to say he was a genre figure but ESF says he was because genre authors such as Sturgeon penned Queen novels like The Player on the Other Side. And I do include mystery writers from time to time here. (Died 1982.)
  • Born October 20, 1913 Barney Phillips. Though he’s best remembered as Sgt. Ed Jacobs on the Dragnet series and yes, I remember him well from it, he did do some genre work of which his most notable being was one on The Twilight Zone, in which he played a Venusian hiding out on Earth as Haley, the short-order cook in “Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?” episode. Remember you can see it on Paramount+. I just did and he’s amazing. I’m not forgetting his other three appearances there, the first being in “The Purple Testament” as Captain E. L. Gunther, next in “A Thing about Machines” as television repairman which is also a brilliant role for him, followed by the Venusian role, and in “Miniature” as Diemel. Quite a feat that many appearances!  He also appeared on The Invaders, Shazzan, Three Musketeers where he was voice of Porthos for all 18 episodes of the animated series, Get Smart! and The Funky Phantomthe latter being a clone of Scooby-Doo! that was set in the American Revolution. Really, I’m not kidding. (Died 1983.)
  • Born October 20, 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 publishing house 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 co-founded the Shasta 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 authors. 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. (Died 2022.)
  • Born October 20, 1934 Michael Dunn. He’s best remembered for his recurring role on the Wild Wild West as Dr. Miguelito Loveless, attempting to defeat our heroes over and over, but he has had other appearances in genre television. He would be Alexander, a court jester, in the Trek “Plato’s Stepchildren” episode, and a killer clown in the Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea’s “The Wax Men” episode. He was even in the Get Smart! pilot as Mr. Big. (Died 1973.)
  • Born October 20, 1937 Emma Tennant. To the manor born but proudly a lifelong supporter of Labour, ISFDB lists nine of her novels as being as SFF. As the Literary Encyclopedia says “Her work is feminist, magical and wicked, and uses the fantastic and the Gothic to interpret and explore everyday women’s roles.“ I’ve not read her, so do tell me about her please if you’ve read her! (Died 2017.)
  • Born October 20, 1955 Magdalena Tulli, 67. Polish writer of many, many novels, a few of which are fantastic tales. Some were translated into English and available are from the usual suspects. The one work by her that I wish to single out is Tryby, published in translation as Moving Parts, as it is a metafiction in which the novel in question takes over from its author.
  • Born October 20, 1966 Diana Rowland, 56. New Orleans writer with a fascinating job history that includes cop, a crime scene investigator, and a morgue assistant. She’s best known for her Kara Gillian series and White Trash Zombie series. Her only award is a Phoenix Award, a lifetime achievement award for a science fiction professional who has done a great deal for Southern Fandom, given by DeepSouthCon. 

(8) RING TONE. As always, in honor of Bela Lugosi’s birthday on October 20, John King Tarpinian dons the Dracula ring which Lugosi wore in Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948), once part of Forry Ackerman’s collection.

(9) THE ROAD TO HALL. The Saturday Evening Post assembles the “Night of the Horror Hosts”. Did you know there is a Horror Host Hall of Fame, administered by HorrorHound Magazine?

…If you lived in Indianapolis in the 1960s, ’70s, or ’80s, your parents would have been aghast at Sammy Terry (shown above), a ghoul with the face of Death from The Seventh Seal and a voice that invoked Vincent Price with a touch of Liberace. Parents in New Orleans would have shaken their heads sadly at the bizarre laboratory experiments of Morgus the Magnificent — a psycho mix of Mr. Wizard and Dr. Frankenstein — whose “lectures” bookended vintage horror flicks. And they most certainly would not have approved of the sexy scares offered by San Diego’s Moona Lisa, who lounged about in a slinky cat suit and often had a live python draped around her neck. “Hello, earthlings!” was her weekly greeting. At sign-off, she sent her audience of 10-year-old boys off to bed by purring, “Happy hallucinations, honeys.”…

(10) SEE YOU IN THE FUNNY PAPERS. Fantagraphics has published an interview-based history of the San Diego Comic-Con: See You At San Diego: An Oral History of Comic-Con, Fandom, and the Triumph of Geek Culture by Stan Sakai and Jeff Smith.

…Why did Neil Gaiman need a horde of armed (“Well, not exactly armed,” he assiduously corrects) Klingons to help him through a particularly aggressive crowd of fans at Comic-Con one year? What was it like for the Russo Bros to first greet the overwhelmingly massive audience in Hall H and announce their debut Marvel film? Why are edible costumes no longer allowed at conventions of any kind?…

(11) SIMULTANEOUS TIMES. Space Cowboy Books has released episode 56 of the Simultaneous Times science fiction podcast featuring stories by Eric Fomley & Jean-Paul L. Garnier.

Dry Run – by Eric Fomley
Phrogger – by Jean-Paul L. Garnier

Simultaneous Times is produced by Space Cowboy Books in Joshua Tree, CA.

(12) MORE PICTURES AT AN EXHIBITION. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Further to the File 770 article on the new “SF Museum Exhibition”, SF2 Concatenation has just tweeted an alert to an advance post of a more detailed review with additional pictures of the exhibition.

(13) HARD CORES. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] At Nature, behind a paywall: “A single star has three super-Earths — and two rare super-Mercuries” – “An unusual planetary system offers hints about the birth of planets with large iron cores and thin mantles.”

 A star system containing two Mercury-like bodies could give clues to how small, dense planets form. Susana Barros at the University of Porto in Portugal and her colleagues studied tiny movements of the star HD 23472 that were caused by the gravitational pull of its planets. This allowed the team to infer the masses of the star’s five known planets, including the two innermost bodies, which seem to be smaller and lighter than Earth.

Combining their data with previous observations, the researchers estimated the five bodies’ compositions. They found that the inner two are likely to be heavier, denser versions of Mercury, with large iron cores; the outer planets, which have larger diameters than Earth, contain more water and gas.

Primary research paper here (no paywall).

(14) CRIMESTOPPERS TEXTBOOK. Although it seems Vox Day went right to the FBI after getting ripped off, knowing Vox’s views about the government prompted someone to remember Tom O’Donnell’s 2014 satire for The New Yorker: “L.P.D.: Libertarian Police Department”.

…”Somebody just stole four hundred and forty-seven million dollars’ worth of bitcoins.”

The heroin needle practically fell out of my arm. “What kind of monster would do something like that? Bitcoins are the ultimate currency: virtual, anonymous, stateless. They represent true economic freedom, not subject to arbitrary manipulation by any government. Do we have any leads?”

“Not yet. But mark my words: we’re going to figure out who did this and we’re going to take them down … provided someone pays us a fair market rate to do so.”

“Easy, chief,” I said. “Any rate the market offers is, by definition, fair.”

He laughed. “That’s why you’re the best I got, Lisowski. Now you get out there and find those bitcoins.”…

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Game Trailers: Splatoon 3,” Fandom Games says Splatoon 3, like the two earlier games, gives gamers an opportunity to blast paint at each other. There are new weapons like a “splatana,” a paint-filled katana, but the game is basically an excuse for gamers to replay a simple game they liked. “I’ll pay you $60” for Splatoon 3, says the gamer, “as long as you don’t put any NFTs in it.”

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Danny Sichel, Jennifer Hawthorne, Scott Edelman, James Reynolds, protonpattycake1, Daniel Dern, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Andrew Porter, Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]

How Long Does It Take an SF Award to Reach Its Recipients?

By Jonathan Cowie: A recent possible record could be the SF2 Concatenation’s website 2012 Eurocon Award voted on by those at the European SF Society’s convention which, that year, was held in Croatia. None of SF2 Concatenation crew were at that convention and so Martin Hoare kindly collected it. It was due to be handed on at the following Eastercon with, if that failed, a stop-gap handover at the Loncon 3 Worldcon. Alas, on both occasions Martin forgot. Then, sadly, Martin passed away.

Dave (Ansible) Langford managed to find it and so plans were made for a pick-up in Reading, Berkshire, en route to a NIRD dinner (National Institute for Research into Dairying and not a geek gathering).  But the gods were conspiring, and a global pandemic put matters on hold. 

With the easing of CoVID-19 restrictions, diaries were consulted, the upshot of which was that a handover was made last month. And, as a visit to Northumberland Heath (SE London), Kent, was coming up, and as the Heath was where SF2 Concatenation began back in 1987, the award had an unpacking at the local SF group’s monthly meet on October 14. (Note the beautifully balanced blend of books and beer on the table.)

The unpacking 2022 at North Heath SF.

Pixel Scroll 9/15/22 One Fist Science Fiction, The Other Fantasy, If The Right One Don’t Get You, Then The Left One Will

(1) JUSTICE FOR SYLVIA ANDERSON. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Last night’s BBC Radio 4 arts programme, Front Row, devoted a substantive amount of time to the airbrushing of Sylvia Anderson from Anderson productions by Gerry Anderson and then the Anderson estate. This included unlawful contracts that lost her many years of royalties. Absolutely shocking. “Richard Eyre’s The Snail House; Sylvia Anderson and women in TV; the late Jean-Luc Godard”.

The name Sylvia Anderson was recently invoked by Dr. Lisa Cameron MP, during a debate on gender equality in the media in Westminster Hall. The late Sylvia Anderson was a pioneer in the male dominated world of television, co-creating Thunderbirds in the 1960s with her then husband Gerry. But her family say her name has often been omitted from credits and merchandise in the years since then. Samira speaks to Sylvia’s daughter Dee Anderson and Dame Heather Rabbatts, Chair of Time’s Up UK, who are campaigning for her legacy to be restored and to Barbara Broccoli, producer of the James Bond films, who remembers Sylvia as her mentor.

(2) PIECES OF CHICON 8. In episode 66 of the Octothorpe podcast, “Thank You, Steven”, John Coxon is in the fanzine lounge, Alison Scott is under a bison hat, and Liz Batty is good, thank you.

We chat to people in the fanzine lounge at Chicon 8. (Sorry about the background noise, and normal service resumes next week.)

Alt text. A purple square with “OCTOTHORPE 66” written at the bottom and inset, a photograph of John, Alison, and Liz. John is wearing a grey suit with a Hugo Award finalist pin and a matching purple tie and mask; Alison is wearing a black mask, a burgundy dress, and has glitter on her temple, and Liz is wearing a green dress and matching mask, a necklace by Vanessa Applegate, and a yellow shrug. They are against a backdrop which has alternating Hugo Award logos and Chicon 8 logos.

(3) ABOUT WORKSHOPS. Morgan Hazelwood shares notes about the Chicon 8 panel “Is a Writer’s Workshop Right For Me?” at Morgan Hazelwood: Writer In Progress.

Whether you’ve been writing for a while or dreaming of getting away and actually having time to write, many of us have wondered if a writer’s workshop was right for us.

At WorldCon 80, otherwise known as ChiCon8, I attended the panel: The Writing Workshop Workshop where moderator Erin Underwood led panelists Ian Muneshwar, Tegan Moor, James Patrick Kelly, and Caroline M Yoachim in a discussion aimed at answering that very question….

Hazelwood also presents the information in this YouTube video.

(4) TAKING COUNSEL OF THEIR FEARS. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] The Atlantic has an interesting article about the backlash against casting actors of color in The Rings of Power, House of the Dragon, Sandman and all sorts of other things: “Fear of a Black Hobbit”.

Maybe you’ve heard that people are mad about Black actors being cast in Lord of the Rings. Or Game of Thrones. Or maybe it was Star Wars. Or perhaps Thor. Wait, maybe it was Titans, or SupermanThe Witcher? Or maybe you heard that people are angry that Black Panther got made in the first place, because Wakanda is fictional, unlike one of those fantasy countries authors seem to think will seem more mysterious if you add enough accents or apostrophes, like Warthéréth’rién. (I just made that up.) Maybe you’re wondering why adults care about a Disney mermaid being Black.

Earlier this month, CNN published a news story featuring an interview with Brandon Morse, an editor for the right-wing website RedState, in which he complained that Amazon’s new Lord of the Rings show, The Rings of Power, is integrated: “He says ‘The Rings of Power’ producers have cast non-White actors in a story based on European culture and who look wildly different from how Tolkien originally described them,” CNN reported. “He says it’s an attempt to embed ‘social justice politics’ into Tolkien’s world.” Morse told CNN that “if you focus on introducing modern political sentiments, such as the leftist obsession with identity issues that only go skin deep, then you’re no longer focusing on building a good story.”

It’s worth noting how rapidly right-wing language about colorblind meritocracy melts away when it does not produce the desired results. Perhaps the actors cast were simply the most qualified? …

(5) RELATED WORK. Cora Buhlert’s new “Non-Fiction Spotlight” is about Story Matrices: Cultural Encoding and Cultural Baggage in Science Fiction and Fantasy a fascinating book about storytelling, writing, and worldbuilding by Gillian Polack.

What prompted you to write/edit this book?

Because I’m addicted to story, I wondered just how much of our invisible culture we carried in in the way we tell stories. I began to look at the world building we do and the paths we take when we tell stories and read them. What is the difference between story space for the reader and story space for the writer and, indeed, story space for the editor? As I addressed these questions, I discovered how very powerful genre literature is in our lives. Even those who have never read a science fiction novel have experienced the narratives we tell and the cultural material we embed into our stories.

I wanted to explain this: that genre literature is a powerful, powerful force, that culture is transmitted through story, that we can all think about story and through that thought have more control over what we accept from story. We can, in short, choose not to be bigots….

(6) WHAT’S AHEAD IN THE DESIGN FIELD? Arizona State University’s Center for Science and the Imagination’s  event “Designing the Future with Applied Sci-Fi” will take place on Thursday, September 29, from 12:00-1:00 p.m. Eastern. Panelists include design fiction pioneer Julian Bleecker, speculative designer Anab Jain, narrative designer Alex McDowell, strategic foresight practitioner Radha Mistry, and futurist Brian David Johnson. The event will also feature opening remarks from the renowned science fiction (and nonfiction) author Bruce Sterling.

The event is the second 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.

(7) TAKING ANOTHER CUT AT IT. The Hollywood Reporter declares,  “Amazon’s ‘Blade Runner’ TV Series Officially Happening”.

Amazon’s Prime Video has given the green light to Blade Runner 2099, a limited series sequel to the iconic sci-fi film franchise. The series comes from Amazon Studios and Alcon Entertainment, which holds the rights to Blade RunnerRidley Scott, who directed the classic 1982 film, will executive produce through his Scott Free Productions, while Silka Luisa (Apple TV+’s Shining Girls) will serve as showrunner….

Amazon announced it was developing Blade Runner 2099 in February. Its title implies it will be set 50 years after 2017’s film sequel Blade Runner 2049, directed by Denis Villeneuve, but story details are being kept quiet for now. The series will be the first live-action treatment of Blade Runner for TV; Adult Swim aired an anime series titled Blade Runner: Black Lotus that debuted in November 2021….

(8) A FONT OF KNOWLEDGE. Camestros Felapton is doing a highly scientific study to show that you can predict the genre of a book by the type face used on the cover. “The sans-serif genre axis part 2”. He’s not high, just his science is.

… “Science Fiction typically uses sans-serif fonts for titles” is a defensible claim — the proportion is high and the spread is relatively narrow compared with other genres….

(9) OUR MAN FLINT. The Alternate Historian does a beautiful tribute to the late author: “1632 by Eric Flint: What If Time Traveling Hillbillies Saved Europe?”.

Alternate historians love stranding people and places in the past because we want to see what happens when technology and ideas from the present are unleashed on earlier eras. And one novel would revolutionize these kind of stories and launch a new community of writers.

(10) MARGARET ANN BASTA (1951—2022). Margaret Basta who, with her twin sister Laura, published some of the earliest Star Trek fanzines, was found dead in her home on September 4. She was 69. Margaret was active in Detroit fandom in the Seventies, belonging to the Wayne Third Foundation. She and Laura were founders and officers of the Star Trek Association for Revival (S.T.A.R.). (Laura was nominated for a Best Fan Writer Hugo in 1974.) Margaret was later involved in Beauty and the Beast fandom.

Margaret died without provisions or funds for her burial and a friend has started a GoFundMe to pay for her burial expenses.

Hi, I’m Jan Feldmann; my best friend Margaret Basta died unexpectedly earlier this month. She left no provisions for a funeral or burial and her family cannot handle the expense. I loved her dearly for 50 years and want to see her ashes buried with dignity at Holy Sepulchre cemetary in Southfield MI. She was one of the first original Star Trek fans and organized several early ST fan conventions. She wrote fan fiction, collected and sold vintage jewelry, had a huge circle of friends all over the country, and made a lasting impression on countless people. Margaret was a wonderful lady and I hope you can help her on her final journey. $1500 will pay for the cremation and internment at Holy Sepulchre cemetary.

(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.  

1991 [By Cat Eldridge.] Eerie, Indiana series

You remember Joe Dante who has served us such treats as the Gremlin films, a segment of the Twilight Zone: The Movie (“It’s A Good Life”) and, errr, Looney Tunes: Back in Action? (I’ll forgive him for that because he’s a consultant on HBO Max prequel series Gremlins: Secrets of the Mogwai.)

And Dante was the creative consultant and director on a weird little horror SF series thirty-one years ago on NBC called Eerie, Indiana. Yes, delightfully weird. It was created by José Rivera and Karl Schaefer. For both it would be their first genre undertaking, though they would have a starry future, their work including EurekaGoosebumpsThe Jungle Book: Mowgli’s Story and Strange Luck to name but a few genre series that they’d work on in a major capacity. 

SPOILER ALERT! REALLY I’M SERIOUS, GO AWAY

Hardly anyone there is normal. Or even possibly of this time and space. We have super intelligent canines bent on global domination, a man who might be the Ahab, and, in this reality, Elvis never died, and Bigfoot is fond of the forest around this small town. 

There’s even an actor doomed to keep playing the same role over and over and over again, that of a mummy. They break the fourth wall and get him into a much happier film. Tony Jay played this actor.

Yes, they broke the fourth wall. That would happen again in a major way that I won’t detail here. 

END SPOILER ALERT. YOU CAN COME BACK NOW. 

It lasted but nineteen episodes as ratings were very poor. 

Critics loved it. I’m quoting only one due to its length: “Scripted by Karl Schaefer and José Rivera with smart, sharp insights; slyly directed by feature film helmsman Joe Dante; and given edgy life by the show’s winning cast, Eerie, Indiana shapes up as one of the fall season’s standouts, a newcomer that has the fresh, bracing look of Edward Scissorhands and scores as a clever, wry presentation well worth watching.”

It won’t surprise you that at Rotten Tomatoes, that audience reviewers give it a rating of eighty-eight percent. 

It is streaming on Amazon Prime, Disney+ and legally on YouTube. Yes legally on the latter. 

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 15, 1922 Bob Anderson. He was the swordmaster who played Darth Vader in his fight scenes in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. He replaced David Prowse due to the actor’s unfortunate tendency to break lightsabers. Because of the height differences—Anderson was six one while Prowse was six inches taller, Anderson’s scenes were filmed from a lower angle to make him seem taller, or he stood on some small stilts or wore platform shoes. Anderson later did swordfighting choreography and training for films such as The Lord of the Rings trilogy (with Christopher Lee), the Zorro movies with Antonio Banderas and Die Another Day with stunt performer Jim Dowdall. (Died 2022.)
  • Born September 15, 1924 Henry Silva, 98. Here for his genre work —  Buck Rogers in the 25th Century as Kane, Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold as Argon, Amazon Women on the Moon as Himself (the “Bullshit or Not” segment, Cyborg – Il guerriero d’acciaio as ‘Hammer’, and Dick Tracy as ‘Influence’.
  • Born September 15, 1925 Carlos Rambaldi. Wnner of three Oscars: one Special Achievement Academy Award for Best Visual Effects in Seventies version of King Kong, and two Academy Awards for Best Visual Effects of Alien and E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. He is best remembered for his work in those two last mentioned films, that is for the mechanical head-effects for the creature in Alien and the design of the title character of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. He designed the Worms in Dune. (Died 2012.)
  • Born September 15, 1940 Norman Spinrad, 82. I’ll admit that the only novel I’ve read by him is Bug Jack Barron. My bad. And I was fascinated to learn he wrote the script for Trek’s “The Doomsday Machine” episode which is an amazing story. So how is it that he’s never won a Hugo? 
  • Born September 15, 1943 John M. Faucette. Published five novels and one short story. He left seven unpublished novels in various states of completion at his death. Two of his novels; Crown of Infinity and Age of Ruin, were published in the Ace Doubles series. None of his works are in print in digital or paper format currently including his Black Science Fiction anthology which he as an African-American SF writer was very proud of. (Died 2003.)
  • Born September 15, 1956 Elton T. Elliott, 66. Editor, publisher, reviewer. His solo fiction debut was “Lighting Candles on the River Styx” in Amazing (March 1991). His early novel-length work appeared in the 1980s in collaboration with Richard E.Geis under the pseudonym Richard Elliott. He edited Science Fiction Review from 1990 to 1992 which, yes, I remember reading at the time. 
  • Born September 15, 1960 Kevin Roche, 62. Chaired Worldcon 76 in San Jose (2018). Prior to that he co-chaired Westercon 66 in Sacramento in 2013 and chaired Costume-Con 26 in San José in 2008. He’s a veteran costumer and masquerade emcee, who co-directed the 2011 Worldcon’s Masquerade as well as Masquerades at Anime Los Angeles, Westercon, and BayCon. Roche is a research scientist at IBM Research Almaden. He also was editor of Yipe! The Costume Fanzine of Record.
  • Born September 15, 1962 Jane Lindskold, 60. My first encounter with her was through the Zelazny novel she finished, Donnerjack. It’s excellent though how much is Zelazny is open to vigorous debate. Of her own novels, I recommend The Buried Pyramid, Child of a Rainless Year and Asphodel as being very good. 

(13) COMICS SECTION.

  • Agnes has some pecadillos as a author that make me wonder if she’s a relative of Writer X. It seems even more possible after reading this later strip.
  • Lio shows that sometimes nature calls from very faraway places.
  • The Far Side offers wordplay of mythic proportions.  

(14) STUMPERS. In the Washington Post, Michael Cavna interviews Randall Munroe on how he went from being a NASA roboticist to an answerer of weird questions. “The world’s funniest former NASA roboticist will take your questions”.

…Other “What If? 2” situations ring of the perilous: What are your chances of death-by-geyser at Yellowstone Park? What would the daily caloric human-intake needs be for a modern T. rex gone rogue in the boroughs of New York? And how catastrophic would it be if, as the children’s tune goes, all the raindrops were lemon drops and gumdrops?…

(15) CURRENT EVENTS. “Colonizing the Cosmos: Astor’s Electrical Future” at The Public Domain Review. “During America’s Gilded Age, the future seemed to pulse with electrical possibility. Iwan Rhys Morus follows the interplanetary safari that is John Jacob Astor’s A Journey in Other Worlds, a high-voltage scientific romance in which visions of imperialism haunt a supposedly ‘perfect’ future.”

…Luckily, one of them told us exactly how he imagined the century to come. In 1894, New York publishers D. Appleton and Company released A Journey in Other Worlds: A Romance of the Future, written by John Jacob Astor IV, one of America’s wealthiest men. The Astor clan had originally made their fortune in the fur trade, and had added to their millions through investment in land and property. In 1897, John Jacob would build the Astoria Hotel in New York, next door to the Waldorf, owned by his cousin William. The hotel was both a symbol of the Astor family’s wealth and a honeypot for New York’s fashionables (Tesla himself lived there until he was turfed out for failing to pay his bills). It’s Astor’s authorship that makes the book such a fascinating insight into the Gilded Age’s fantasies about its prosperous tomorrows….

(16) TURN OF THE SEASON. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] SF2 Concatenation’s autumnal edition is now up.

Fiction Reviews

Non-fiction SF/F & Popular Science

(17) SAY CHEESE. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.]  “Webb telescope wows with first image of an exoplanet” in Nature.

The James Webb Space Telescope has taken its first picture of a planet beyond the Solar System — opening a window to understanding other worlds and underscoring the telescope’s immense capabilities.

The image (shown) is of a planet called HIP 65426 b, an object similar to Jupiter, but younger and hotter, that lies 107 parsecs from Earth in the constellation Centaurus. Although it looks like a pixelated light bulb, it is the first exoplanet image ever taken at deep infrared wavelengths, which allow astronomers to study the full range of a planet’s brightness and what it is made of (the star symbol marks HIP 65426 b’s star, whose light the telescope blocked).

“It gives us wavelengths we’ve never seen planets at before,” says Beth Biller, an astronomer at the University of Edinburgh, UK, and a member of the discovery team. The image was reported in a paper on a preprint server on 31 August (A. L. Carter et al. Preprint at https://arxiv.org/abs/2208.14990; 2022); the study has not been peer reviewed.

Astronomers know of more than 5,000 exoplanets, but they have taken pictures of only around 20. Imaging exoplanets directly is difficult, because they are often lost in the glare of the star around which they orbit.

But observing them at infrared wavelengths, as Webb does, helps to boost the contrast between star and planet. “You’re in the regime where planets are brightest and stars are dimmest,” says Aarynn Carter, an astronomer at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and lead author of the preprint.

(18) SICK IN UTAH. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Someone had too good a room party…. “The Jurassic vomit that stood the test of time” at Nature.

Some 150 million years ago, towards the end of the Jurassic period, an unknown but probably small creature threw up a recent meal inside a pond in what is now Utah1.

Over the ages, the puke’s contents were fossilized and remained untouched. That is, until they reached the hands of John Foster at the Utah Field House of Natural History State Park Museum in Vernal and his colleagues.

The researchers found the fossil at the ‘Jurassic Salad Bar’, a site where they’ve unearthed more than 300 fossilized plants. The specimen is small, not much larger than 1 square centimetre in area. But it’s densely packed with more than 20 undigested bones and some puzzling items that might well be soft tissues or part of the vomit material.

Some of the bones, including some vertebrae, possibly belonged to a tadpole. Others were once part of frogs. And a tiny femur might have come from a salamander. Given the contents and the setting they were found in, researchers strongly suspect that a fish might have been the one to throw them up.

(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Trailers: 300th Episode,” the Screen Junkies’s EPIC Voice Guy salutes Ryan George for his 300th episode of “Pitch Meeting” by saying Ryan George is “the Canadian Ryan who doesn’t have six-pack abs.”  George gets to repeat all the catchphrases from every episode (including “super easy, barely an inconvience”) and says that after 300 episodes the producer and the writer have turned from “poorly developed characters” into “psychopaths.”

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

Pixel Scroll 9/1/22 It’s Not A Pixel Scroll, It’s A Flamin’ Platypus

(1) PHOTO FROM THURSDAY’S FILE 770 MEETUP AT CHICON 8. The first File 770 meetup organized by Hampus Eckerman happened this morning – here’s a photo of some of the fans who made it. From left to right, Nicole, Martin and Kendall.

Meanwhile, Hampus has shifted the location for the Friday meetup to get away from the Jazz Festival happening in the area he planned before. Check the details here: Update Filers Meetup for Worldcon.

(2) PASSED MASTER. It’s a big advantage if you can skip taking a plane. “I will astral project myself to Worldcon” says Camestros Felapton. Expect to smell, er, see him there!

(3) MAGICAL THINKING. Xiran Jay Zhao, author of Iron Widow, cut loose with this video a few days ago:  

They have since traveled to Chicago. Where someone turned on the TV.

(4) CHICON 8 HITS A COUPLE OF BUMPS. The 2022 Worldcon began today, and a few problems with the con’s virtual edition prompted Chair Helen Montgomery to issue this “Virtual Access Apology”.

We apologize for the impact that accessibility issues within Airmeet, our platform for Virtual Chicon 8, have had on our members.

Thank you to people who have reached out to us about these issues as we launched this week.

The short version of our reply is that you are correct. There are definitely accessibility issues within Airmeet. Some issues we knew about and planned for, some issues are things we recently discovered, and some are things we simply didn’t think through all the way.

We knew that whatever platform we chose would have problems. We chose a platform that several of our staff have used before. We had a broad team working on Virtual C8, representing multiple divisions and areas, including our Accessibility Services team. Nonetheless, despite our best efforts, we still missed some pieces.

We are continuing to work on various workarounds for known issues. You can see our updated Accessibility Guide here (under the Virtual C8 menu tab) which is everything we know about Accessibility at this moment. We will continue to update it as we learn more.

If you need help, we have our live text chat service located at the bottom of the Virtual C8 page. You can also email us at [email protected] for assistance.

Hugo Administrator Kat Jones also apologized for some errors in the Souvenir Book: “Astounding Award Finalists: An Apology”.

We apologize for errors that have appeared in the official Chicon 8 Souvenir Book on page 98, in the listing of previous Astounding Award winners. 

When constructing the list of previous winners, the team mistakenly took the first name (ordered alphabetically) from this year’s Astounding Award ballot and listed it for the 2022 Astounding Award. We will correct this in the electronic version of the Souvenir Book. The team working on the Souvenir Book does not have visibility into the results of this year’s voting, and this error does not reflect anything other than the alphabetical ordering of the ballot.

We also apologize for the misspelling of Emily Tesh’s name as the 2021 Astounding Award winner, and the misspelling of Jeannette Ng’s name as the 2019 Astounding Award winner. These will also be corrected in the electronic version of the Souvenir Book.

We are very sorry for these mistakes.

(5) THE LINEAGE OF BATMAN. SF2 Concatenation has tweeted an advance post ahead of its autumnal edition: “Batman – Cinematic portrayals, or how The Dark Knight has maintained his comic book hero franchise”.

With the latest film in the collection just been to the cinema (eventually!) and now available on DVD, Bluray and on the usual platforms as The Batman, Mark Yon thought he would look at the rather long and complicated past of Batman in the cinema (with a couple of nods to comics and television as well!)…

(6) FENCON COPES WITH HOTEL OVERBOOKING MISTAKE. FenCon XVIII, which will be held in Irving, Texas from September 16-18, was handed the short end of the stick when their hotel “had a glitch” and got oversold by 150 rooms. The problem is being solved by switching a number of fans to nearby hotel, setting up continuous shuttles, and giving the displaced fans a $20 a day voucher. The committee told Facebook readers that anyone with an assisted reservation was kept on the property. Here is the statement from the convention’s website:

From the FenCon Staff to all of our members and guests: 

In mid-August, the Sheraton DFW hotel notified us that, due to a major computer glitch, they have oversold by over 150 rooms on FenCon weekend. The only way to manage their room inventory is to relocate many of our attendees to their sister property across the street, the DoubleTree DFW North. 

As a part of the concessions which the hotel is making to our convention, they will: 

* run a continuous shuttle between the two hotels during convention hours

* provide a $20 food voucher per day for each relocated guestroom for the DoubleTree restaurant

* the Hotel will be contacting attendees individually if their room is one of those being moved

The hotel has assured us that everyone who booked an accessible room will stay at the Sheraton.

Obviously this situation will be inconvenient, but Fencon was faced with the choice of working with the hotel to manage the situation, or canceling the convention, which we certainly did not want!

We hope the meal vouchers will help, and the shuttle should be a convenient way to move between the hotels. We do ask that you please not drive between hotels, as the parking spaces at the Sheraton will be nearly at capacity already.

We appreciate your understanding about the issue, and ask that you respect the staff at the various hotels – it isn’t their fault, and they are working hard to accommodate our needs. 

(7) SANFORD’S GRAPEVINE.  Jason Sanford posted a free issue of his “Genre Grapevine” sff news column on Patreon. It features many strong segments, such as “Twitter and the Normalization of Online Harassment and Attacks” which concludes:

…Sadly, I think it’s too late for Twitter and many of the original social media platforms, which enabled and profited off the worst aspects of humanity. As Annalee Newitz explained in this must-read post, Twitter is rapidly becoming a lost city. The result of all this will likely accelerate people moving to new platforms that don’t support and enable this hate and harassment, including siloed systems like personal newsletters. (For more on why authors should consider starting their own newsletter, see this excellent thread from K Tempest Bradford.)

All of this is a shame, because as Premee Mohamed explained, there are benefits and connections you can only find on a public platform like Twitter.

(8) EISNER TUNING UP FOR BROADWAY. Will Eisner’s “’A Contract With God’ Being Adapted Into Broadway Musical With TEG+” reports Variety.

TEG+ has acquired the stage rights to Will Eisner’s graphic novel “A Contract With God” and is adapting it into a Broadway musical, with new and original songs written by Sam Hollander, Lisa Loeb, Matisyahu, Ryan Miller and Jill Sobule.

“A Contract With God,” first published in 1978, is commonly recognized as the very first graphic novel in history. The novel consists of four interweaving stories revolving around the lives of a group of New Yorkers who live in a fictional tenement house, many of whom are Jewish and/or immigrants. For the musical, all of the members of the songwriting team are Jewish musicians and composers. Writing and recording sessions on the musical will commence soon, with Hollander serving as music producer.

(9) WHAT, AND LEAVE THAT MONEY ON THE TABLE? Dr. Michael D.C. Drout, a professor of English at Wheaton College in Massachusetts and co-editor of the journal Tolkien Studies, says in an opinion piece for the New York Times, “Please Don’t Make a Tolkien Cinematic Universe”.

…“The Rings of Power,” which will come out weekly after its two-episode premiere, is based primarily on only a few dozen pages in one of the historical appendices to “The Lord of the Rings,” meaning that almost the entire plot of the show has been created by Amazon Studios’ writers and showrunners. And there’s a huge gulf between Tolkien’s originality, moral sophistication and narrative subtlety and the culture of Hollywood in 2022 — the groupthink produced by the contemporary ecosystem of writers’ rooms, Twitter threads and focus groups. The writing that this dynamic is particularly good at producing — witty banter, arch references to contemporary issues, graphic and often sexualized violence, self-righteousness — is poorly suited to Middle-earth, a world with a multilayered history that eschews both tidy morality plays and blockbuster gore.

Is it fair to the legacies of writers like Tolkien to build franchises from their works without their knowledge or permission? Tolkien, who died in 1973, was fiercely protective of the world he created in his novels. He harshly rejected the spec screenplays of “The Lord of the Rings” he read and once asserted that the work was not appropriate for film. (He sold the film rights in 1969 only in order to help pay a tax bill; the television rights were sold to Amazon by his heirs.)…

(10) MEMORY LANE.  

1955 [By Cat Eldridge.] Sixty-seven years ago, the Hugo Awards returned as an official part of Worldcon. They had been skipped by the SFCon (1954) committee after being created by the Philcon II (1953) committee. They have been presented every year since.

The thirteenth Worldcon was held from the September 1-5, 1955. Nick Falasca and Noreen Falasca (Shaw) were the Chairs with the guests being Isaac Asimov (pro) and Sam Moskowitz (mystery GoH). The identity of the Special Mystery Guest was not revealed (even to the honoree) until the first night of the convention. The Program book noted that “Mr. Boucher [the Toastmaster] will make the presentation of the Achievement Awards and identify the Mystery Guest.” Anthony Boucher was Toastmaster. It was held at the Manger Hotel in Cleveland.  They would be known as Clevention. 

The Hugos were short enough that I feel comfortable listing them here.

  • Best Novel: They’d Rather Be Right by Mark Clifton and Frank Riley [Astounding Aug,Sep,Oct,Nov 1954]
  • Best Novelette: “The Darfsteller” by Walter M. Miller, Jr. [Astounding Jan 1955] 
  • Best Short Story: “Allamagoosa” by Eric Frank Russell [Astounding May 1955]
  • Best Professional Magazine: Astounding Science Fiction ed. by John W. Campbell, Jr. 
  • Best Professional Artist: Frank Kelly Freas 
  • Best Fanzine: Fantasy Times ed. by James V. Taurasi, Sr. and Ray Van Houten

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 1, 1875 Edgar Rice Burroughs. Ray Bradbury declared him “the most influential writer in the entire history of the world.” Not that I’d necessarily disagree or agree with that statement but I would note that he has largely fallen out of public notice once again. A statement some of you will argue with strongly. (Died 1950.)
  • Born September 1, 1926 Gene Colan. He co-created with Stan Lee the Falcon, the first African-American superhero in mainstream comics. He created Carol Danvers, who would become Ms. Marvel and Captain Marvel, and was featured in Captain Marvel. With Marv Wolfman, he created Blade. (Died 2011.)
  • Born September 1, 1942 C. J. Cherryh, 80. I certainly think the Hugo Award winning Downbelow Station at Chicon IV and Cyteen at Noreascon 3 are amazing works but I think my favorite works by her are the Merchanter novels such as Rimrunners.
  • Born September 1, 1943 Erwin Strauss, 79. A noted member of the MITSFS, and filk musician who born in Washington, D.C. He frequently is known by the nickname Filthy Pierre. He’s the creator of the Voodoo message board system once used at cons such as Worldcon, WisCon and Arisia. 
  • Born September 1, 1951 Donald G. Keller, 71.  He co-edited The Horns of Elfland with Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman which I highly recommend. He is a contributor to The Encyclopedia of Fantasy and he’s member of the editorial board of Slayage, the online Encyclopedia of Buffy Studies
  • Born September 1, 1964 Martha Wells, 58. She’s has won two Nebulas, four Locus Awards, and four Hugo Awards. Impressive. And she was toastmaster of the World Fantasy Convention in 2017 where she delivered a speech called “Unbury the Future”. Need I note the Muderbot Dairies are amazing.
  • Born September 1, 1967 Steve Pemberton, 55. He’s on the Birthday List for being Strackman Lux in the Eleventh Doctor stories of “Silence in the Library” and “Forest of the Dead” but he has other genre credits including being Drumknott in Terry Pratchett’s Going Postal, Professor Mule in Gormenghast and Harmony in Good Omens.

(12) COMICS SECTION.

  • Eek! reveals another victim of a digital currency surprise.
  • The Duplex tells why they think Marvel is running out of ideas.

(13) FIFTY YEARS OF LUKE CAGE. Throughout the last year, superstar artist J. Scott Campbell has helped Marvel Comics honor the milestone anniversaries of some of comic book’s greatest icons including Hulk, Thor, Spider-Man, and Ant-Man. Up next will be a cover for October’s Daredevil #4 featuring Luke Cage who’s celebrating 50 years of defending the streets of the Marvel Universe as a solo fighter, a Hero for Hire, and an Avenger. The artwork depicts Luke in his iconic Power Man costume

(14) CHENGDU LOCKDOWN. “China Locks Down Major Southern City of Chengdu” – the New York Times reports what’s happening this weekend in the city that will host next year’s Worldcon.  

China has locked down Chengdu, one of its biggest and economically important cities, as it turns once again to its Covid strategy of restricting people’s movements to stop outbreaks.

Starting at 6 p.m. on Thursday, residents in the city of more than 21 million were no longer allowed to leave their homes without special permission, in the most drastic move to stop an outbreak since Shanghai went into a damaging two-month lockdown in April. Authorities also began citywide mass testing that they said would continue through the weekend. Chengdu reported 157 cases on Wednesday and more than 700 cases since Aug. 25.

China is the last major country in the world to pursue a policy of eradicating the virus, and it uses citywide lockdowns and mass testing to root out pockets of outbreaks. But the approach is adding to the pressures facing the local authorities in Sichuan, the southern province whose capital is Chengdu. A record-setting drought and a punishing heat wave have devastated the region’s power supply, and emergency responders battled quick-moving wildfires around the city of Chongqing until late last week.

Officials in Chengdu gave no indication of how long the lockdown might last, but it is expected to deal another economic blow to China at a challenging moment. The city is home to the manufacturing and assembly plants of several multinational automakers and technology firms including Intel, VW and Toyota, and its economic growth in 2021 accounted for 1.7 percent of China’s overall gross domestic product.

Chengdu and other cities across China have ordered measures like postponing the start of school and shutting down businesses to try to stamp out stubborn outbreaks in recent days….

(15) BIG MESS HALL. “H.P. Lovecraft Writes Olive Garden’s Dinner Menu” at McSweeney’s. A 2021 article – did we link last year? Well, it will still be news to someone.

Fried Calamari

Tendrils crusted in grit assail my palate. Begotten of the sea, yet containing the essence of a carnival. Fried and without end. At once I feel refined and base, but melancholy grips me when I spy the dressings within which this dismembered cephalopod is to dip. …

(16) OCTOTHORPE. John Coxon is a computer and Alison Scott and Liz Batty are talking to him very slowly in episode 65 of the Octothorpe podcast, “Action Castle 2”.

John, Alison, and Liz play a game because they’re all away at Chicon 8 this week. Normal service will resume shortly. Listen here!

(17) JUSTWATCH. Here are JustWatch’s Top 10 viewing lists for August 2022.

(18) TODAY’S THING TO WORRY ABOUT. “A massive planet circles a huge star doomed to explode” reports today’s Nature.

Confirmation of a second planet around the star μ2 Scorpii would indicate the first planetary system at a supernova-in-waiting.

A planet, and an object likely to be a planet, orbit a heavyweight star so massive that it will end its life in a spectacular explosion. The pair could comprise the first planetary system yet to be discovered around a star destined to form a supernova1.

Most of the 5,000-plus known planets beyond the Solar System circle relatively lightweight stars, no more than roughly twice the mass of the Sun. Whether planets can form and survive around stars big enough to go supernova remains relatively unexplored.

A team led by Vito Squicciarini at the University of Padua in Italy has been using the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope in Chile to search for planets around 85 young, massive stars. Around the star μ2 Scorpii, which is about 9 times the mass of the Sun, the astronomers spotted a planet that’s roughly 14 times the mass of Jupiter.

There are also hints of a second object, roughly 18 times the mass of Jupiter and closer to the star than the first one. The presence of two planets around such a massive star suggests that large stars circled by large planets might be more common than expected.

Original primary research article (open access) here.

(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Not sff, just amazing. Watch artist Devon Rodriguez at work in the NYC subways on Facebook.

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

Pixel Scroll 6/10/22 My Name Is Tsundoko, Stack Of Books; Look On My Pages, Pixels, And Despair

(1) COSTA BOOK AWARDS RETIRED. “Costa book awards scrapped suddenly after 50 years”  reported the Guardian today.

The Costa book awards, after running for half a century, have been abruptly scrapped. The coffee shop chain has said the 2021 awards, which were announced in February this year, were the last….

…The children’s book of year prize was the only literary award won by Roald Dahl, for The Witches in 1983. Overall book of the year winners have included Seamus Heaney’s Beowulf, which narrowly beat JK Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban in 1999. Iris Murdoch and Paul Theroux were winners in the 1970s, and Philip Pullman’s The Amber Spyglass became the first children’s book to win book of the year in 2001.

…Costa – which according to reports of parent company Coca-Cola earlier this year has been enjoying strong sales – said that there are no plans for the awards to be taken over by anyone else. The company has not yet given a reason for closing them.

A sff novel won the 2020 Costa Book of the Year award, The Mermaid of Black Conch by Monique Roffey. The 2021 Costa Book Awards Finalists included several genre works, but none of them were among the winners.

(2) REVIEW OF ALASTAIR REYNOLDS. SF2 Concatenation has just Tweeted an advance post alert, ahead of its next seasonal edition, a review of Alastair Reynolds’ latest novel Eversion, just released the other week.

…Recently, Alastair Reynolds went all pirates and galleons in space with Revenger; yet at its core there was a hard-ish SF space opera with Solar-sail-powered craft seeking alien baubles between giant space station’s, with rail guns for cannon. And the dedicated Reynolds reader might at first think that Eversion was something in a similar vein, but actually it is not. Two-thirds in, Reynolds suddenly goes Philip K. Dick on us, exploring identity reminiscent of Do Androids and Flow my Tears…, or analysing perceptions as in The Cosmic Puppets and The Man in the High Castle….

(3) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites listeners to share sushi with the award-winning writer Wen Spencer in episode 173 of the Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Wen Spencer

Wen Spencer …is the author of more than a dozen science fiction and fantasy novels and is perhaps most known for her Elfhome series, which began with Tinker (2003), winner of the Sapphire Award.   She’s the 2003 winner of what was then known as the John W Campbell Award — now the Astounding Award — for Best New Writer — plus the 2002 winner of the Compton Crook Award for her novel Alien Taste, the first book in her Ukiah Oregon saga. The books which followed in that series are Tainted Trail (2002), Bitter Waters (2003), and Dog Warrior (2004). Her standalone novels include A Brother’s Price (2005), Endless Blue (2007), Eight Million Gods (2013), and The Black Wolves of Boston (2017). Her short fiction has appeared in such magazines and anthologies as TranshumanWorld BreakersTurn the Other Chick, and Chicks and Balances.

We discussed her origins as a writer of Pern fanfic, the similar faux pas we each made during our early days in fandom, how a friend inspired her professional career by lending her a stack of poorly written books, the dream which gave birth to her Compton Crook Award-winning first novel Alien Taste, the true reason the novel is her fiction form of choice, the impossibility of ever making something perfect, what her agent really means when he says “well, you could do that,” why it’s so important to be able to write more than one type of book, whether she knows how her series will end, and much more.

(4) HEAR CLARION INSTRUCTORS READ. The Clarion Reading Series is back at Mysterious Galaxy bookstore in San Diego this summer. Here is the calendar of in-store readings:

These readings are free and open to the public. Seating is first come, first served. Please note: Guests are asked to wear masks to these events.

(5) GROWTH INDUSTRY. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] “Technologists Are Using AI to ‘Expand’ Famous Works of Art” reports Vice. Follow the link to the Vice article to see thumbnails of the “expanded” version of the Mona Lisa and the Girl With the Pearl Earring. Follow the Telegram link inside the Vice article to see larger versions. 

Artists have been creating all sorts of surreal compositions using OpenAI’s DALL-E, the AI tool that generates images from a few words of descriptive text. But some AI enthusiasts have been using it for a slightly different purpose: to “expand” classic works of art by using the machine learning model to imagine what they would look like if the canvas were larger or zoomed out.

“It’s like your phone keyboard trying to guess what the next word you would like to input and suggests it,” Denis Shiryaev, a YouTuber and CEO of the AI company neural.love, told Motherboard. “The same idea works with the image ‘prompt’—AI tries to finalize the image based on the source pixels provided, and the text prompt helps to manipulate that generating process.”

Shiryaev says his experiment began during the initial rollout of DALL-E 2 as an attempt to recreate the unfinished painting of George Washington that famously sits on the dollar bill. With help from a Telegram user who has access to the closed test build of DALL-E, Shiryaev then began feeding the model “masks” derived from famous works of art—which tell the algorithm which areas of the image to expand—along with tightly-worded text prompts. 

(6) BROUGHT TO LIGHT. The Guardian told readers that two previously unseen short stories by Shirley Jackson, “rated by Stephen King as one of the great horror fiction writers,” are to appear in UK magazine the Strand “Unseen works by ‘queen of gothic fiction’ Shirley Jackson published”.

…Charlie Roberts and Only Stand and Wait were both published on 9 June in Strand magazine, a US-based print magazine that publishes short fiction and interviews….

(7) MEDIA THINGIE.

1993 [By Cat Eldridge.] Twenty-nine years ago Bloch published two works, his so-called “unauthorized autobiography” which bore the full title of unsurprisingly Once Around the Bloch: An Unauthorized Autobiography and the original anthology Monsters in Our Midst which he edited. I won’t detail what’s in it as y’all know what’s there. 

What I was interested to see was how the mainstream book review outlets such as Kirkus and Publishers Weekly treated this autobiography, so I was delighted that those reviews were still available.

Kirkus leads off with their exuberant review: “The irrepressible Bloch (Psycho, and gobbets of brethren) kicks off his bouncy autobiography by calling it ‘unauthorized,’ as if it appeared from apparitional fingers without his permission. Don’t believe it: This is pure Bloch—and much better than his recent excelsior-packed novel, Psycho House (1990). Bloch sets out with gusto and never falls into doldrums, which suggests that even at age 77, if given a strong subject, he can summon the same youthful zest that flowed in Weird Stories and Amazing Stories back in the mid-30’s, when he first published at age 18.” 

Publishers Weekly was just as pleased: “Bloch, famed creator of Psycho, treats us to a whirlwind, goodhumored survey of his long and impressive career. He chronicles his beginnings as a writer for horror and science fiction pulp magazines (Weird Tales , Unknown Worlds , etc.), his early dabblings in radio and TV scripts, the appearance of Psycho and his subsequent adventures in Hollywood and his return to novels with Psycho I. Bloch entertains with accounts of his forays into politics in Milwaukee, Wis., and his tongue-in-cheek footnotes spice the text with humor, but his faux-naif puns (on statutory rape: ‘Why anyone would want to rape a statue I’ll never know’) wear thin. Bloch has been friend or acquaintance to generations of horror and suspense writers, and fans will enjoy his tales of science fiction conventions. But in this view of his life, Bloch substitutes glibness and easy wit for depth, falling back on name-dropping and anecdote when he might have offered his readers a glimpse of his emotional landscape at such times as the breakup of his first marriage or during his struggle as an impoverished writer for many years.

The Washington Post gets the last word: “But most of Once Around the Bloch consists of chatty anecdotes about the people Bloch knew. There are extended discussions about Boris Karloff, Christopher Lee and Joan Crawford, as well as numerous silent-screen stars that Bloch worked with in the 1960s. (Bloch’s awe at working with these minor legends is quite touching.) Perhaps the most unexpected revelation is that one of the reasons Bloch pioneered the psychological suspense novel was because of his ‘personal ignorance’ of weapons, which led him to abandon novels with gunplay in favor of first-person accounts of stranglers and serial killers. Robert Bloch may not be an sf writer, but he is one of the grandmasters of fantasy and horror, and fans of those genres will find that Once Around the Bloch will give a great deal of pleasure.”

No, I’ve not forgotten that it was nominated for a Hugo at ConAdian the year that John Clute and Peter Nicholls’ Encyclopedia of Science Fiction won. 

It has not been made available as a digital book by Tor, but is still readily to be had at Amazon and other online book vendors, though not cheap by any means, in hardcover and trade paper editions. 

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born June 10, 1922 — Judy Garland. She is only remembered for her portrayal of Dorothy Gale in The Wizard of Oz, and it was also her only genre role in her tragically short life. I will note that she did a very nice turn as Annie Oakley in Annie Get Your Gun, and she was the first woman to win the Grammy Award for Album of the Year, which she won for her 1961 live recording titled Judy at Carnegie Hall. (Died 1969.)
  • Born June 10, 1928 — Maurice Sendak. In Seattle many years ago, I saw the painted flats he did for The Nutcracker. Truly stunning. Of course, he’s known for Where the Wild Things Are which I think is genre adapted into other media including a film by Spike Jonze. In the Night Kitchen might be genre and it is often on Banned Books lists. (Died 2012.)
  • Born June 10, 1937 — Luciana Paluzzi, 85. She’s best known for playing SPECTRE assassin Fiona Volpe in Thunderball. Genre wise — and yes Bond is genre too — I see she was also in Journey to the Lost City (in the original German, Das indische Grabmal), HerculesThe Green Slime1001 NightsCaptain Nemo and the Underwater City and War Goddess (also known as, and would I kid you?, The Amazons and The Bare-Breasted Warriors in its original Italian title).
  • Born June 10, 1950 — Ed Naha, 72. Among his many genre credits, he was Editor of both Starlog and Fangoria. An even more astonishing genre credit was that he produced Inside Star Trek in 1976 with Gene Roddenberry, William Shatner, DeForest Kelley and Mark Lenard talking about the series. Fiction wise, he wrote one series as D. B. Drumm, The Traveller series, and adapted a number of movies such as Robocop and Robocop 2 under his own name. Way back in the Seventies, he wrote Horrors: From Screen to Scream: An Encyclopedic Guide to the Greatest Horror and Fantasy Films of All Time which alas has not been updated. There are no digital books at iBooks or Kindles for him.
  • Born June 10, 1951 — Charles Vess, 71. If you ever need a crash course in learning about his art, go find a copy of Drawing Down the Moon: The Art of Charles Vess which lavishly covers his career up to a decade ago. I’ve got a personally signed copy here along with lots of his artwork including the cover art for Charles de Lint’s A Circle of Cats which I’m looking at now. The Cats of Tanglewood Forest, which is a sequel to A Circle of Cats, is a stellar read and a feast for the eyes. He’s had interesting career including the Spider-Man: Spirits of the Earth graphic novel that he wrote and illustrated. I strongly recommend the illustrated version of Stardust he did with Gaiman as it’s amazing. 
  • Born June 10, 1952 — Kage Baker. Some deaths just hurt just too much. I never met her but we had a decade long conversation via email and once in awhile via phone. We were supposed to write a Company concordance in which I interviewed her Cyborgs for Golden Gryphon but she got too ill for it to happen. Harry the Space Raptor is now living with her sister Kathleen. The two of them were also frequent attenders of Ren Faires were they set up a tavern (John Hertz knew her that way) and sold various sales. Kage had a deep fascination with Elizabethan English and Harry Flashman as well who she incorporated into her novels effectively. (Died 2010.)
  • Born June 10, 1953 — Don Maitz, 69. Winner of the Hugo twice for Best Artist (at ConFiction and ConFrancisco) and ten Chesley Awards from the Association of Science Fiction and Fantasy Artists. And a World Fantasy Award as well. Yes I’m impressed. From Asimov to Wolfe, his artwork has adorned the covers of many genre authors. He’s married to Janny Wurtz and their excellent website can be found thisaway.
  • Born June 10, 1964 — Andrew M. Niccol, 58. Screenwriter / producer / director who wrote and produced one of my favorite genre films, The Truman Show. The film won him a Hugo at Aussiecon Three.  He also involved in GattacaThe TerminalIn TimeThe HostThe Minutes short videoand Anon. Sort of genre adjacent is that he‘s been announced as the screenwriter for a live version of the Monopoly game but it still in development.  Personally I think it’s in the games section of The Library in The Dreaming.

(9) GET ACQUAINTED. United Vidden by Fern Brady is the first book in the Thyreins Galactic Wall Series, a debut space opera.

Shattered by her father’s decision to deny her the throne as the first female heir of Dravidia, Princess Verena makes the worst mistake of her life: She runs away. Her departure, days before her wedding to the heir of the Principality of Aulden, throws her nation into war. In a desperate bid to reverse the consequences of her choice, the princess returns to planet Jorn, anxious to prove herself worthy to rule. But it is too late. The princess finds her kingdom conquered by Prince Amiel ra Aulden. Now, Verena must earn back her birthright as well as the trust of her people.

Available from Amazon.com and Amazon.ca.

Fern Brady is the founder and CEO of Inklings Publishing. She holds multiple Masters degrees and several certifications. She began her professional life as a foreign correspondent, and taught for 15 years in Alief ISD.

(10) DARTH DOES NEW YORK. “Obi Wan Kenobi 3D Times Square Ad Summons Darth Vader Star Wars” and Gizmodo takes you there.

Darth Vader’s latest debut is in Times Square, for a new 3D Billboard ad inspired by Lucasfilm and LG’s recent Book of Boba Fett campaign.

(11) A CREATURE IS HAUNTING TEXAS. “What is this ‘strange’ creature seen outside the Amarillo zoo?” CBS News says the city has reached out to the public for help identifying it.

… The city shared a photo of the creature on social media, and said it was taken in the early morning hours of May 21 outside the Amarillo Zoo….

…Members of the zoo were casually looking at footage from game cameras placed throughout it when they came across the photo, according to Michael Kashuba, the parks and recreation department director for the city of Amarillo. He told CBS News on Thursday that the cameras only take photos and the now-famous picture overlooks an open area of the park right outside the zoo that doesn’t receive heavy traffic. He said a staff member had sent him the image, and after conferring with other coworkers, they reached a consensus: “Nobody could figure out what it was.”… 

Carl Andor sent the link with a suggestion: “This looks like a tall dude wearing the top half of furry costume. There were several furry conventions in Texas, but none in Amarillo. Perhaps one of the folks who attended these cons might recognize and help identify the furry in question.)”

(12) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “The Mandalorian Pitch Meeting,” Ryan George says the producer is excited that the Mandalorian is nicknamed ‘Mando’ “because “that’s what I call my love handles.”  But when the producer learns that Baby Yoda is a character, dollar signs appear in the producer’s eyes and shocking things happen!  Also when the writer can’t remember the race of a character and calls him a Bostonian, the producer says, “I love science fiction!”

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