Pixel Scroll 11/1/23 Eat, Pray, Jaunt

(1) 4 YOUR LISTENING PLEASURE. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] SF book lovers had an hour of delight on BBC Radio 4 last Sunday with two half-hour programmes.

First up there was Open Book that saw a led discussion of a panel of three authors that looked at artificial intelligence (AI) in their work as well as the possible effects of AI on novels writing.

The overall drift – of what was an interesting conversation – was that AI is not developed enough at the current moment to have a significant impact on (commercial) writing/publishing but there is clearly a trajectory and that in a few years time things could well be different..

One point made was that eventually AI writing might possibly induce a revolution in writing with a new type of novel. The panel took this notion further and said it may be that in the future some AI writing will only be able to be appreciated by AI (non-human) readers.

You can listen to the programme here,

Elizabeth Day and Johny Pitts present a special edition of the programme exploring AI and the novel.

Recorded at the London Literary Festival at the Southbank Centre; novelists Naomi Alderman, Adam Thirlwell and Julianne Pachico join Elizabeth and Johny on stage to discuss depictions of AI in their fiction – and what AI might mean for fiction.

Naomi Alderman’s new novel, The Future, is the tale of a daring heist hatched in the hope of saving the world from the tech giants whose greed threatens life as we know it. Adam Thirlwell’s The Future, Future takes us from the salacious gossip of pre-revolutionary Paris to a utopian lunar commune, and Julianne Pachico tells the story of a young girl raised by artificial intelligence in her novel Jungle House.

The second programme was The Exploding Library that in this episode looked at Angela Carter’s Night at the Circus.

“Am I fact or am I fiction?”

So asks the six-foot-something winged woman, Fevvers, the acclaimed aerialiste at the heart of Angela Carter’s epic, Nights at the Circus. It’s a question that has haunted almost every performer who’s stepped onto a stage and seen their ‘real’ self and ‘stage’ selves blur.

Yet a woman with wings with the world at her feet is almost run-of-the-mill in this extravaganza. There’s dancing tigers, murderous clowns, shamanic visions in the Siberian wilderness, and the odd pair of stinky tights.

Labels and genres are flung around – gothic, magical realism, fantasy – but the book, like Angela Carter’s writing in general, evades categorisation at every turn. Twist the kaleidoscope and another vision emerges, twist again and the human condition is re-revealed.

Kiri Pritchard Maclean runs off with the circus to consider the performer underneath the greasepaint, and find out what happens when the performance comes to an end. (Plus chickens).

You can listen to the programme here.

(2) CHENGDU WORLDCON ROUNDUP. [Item by Ersatz Culture.]

Two part convention report by Chengdu fan/business owner

(via SF Light Year)

I’m not exactly sure who Huawen is; I think they are a fan who set up an SF-related company/museum/library (?) based in Chengdu.  (Per the website URL listed in the leaflet image listed in the leaflet image, “[their company] was established in 2021 in Chengdu, Sichuan Province. It is a media company dedicated to promoting excellent science fiction culture.”  Per the first part of their report, had some involvement in the early days of the Chengdu bid/con organization, but dropped out.  

Part 1Part 2

Extracts from Part 1 of their report, via Google Translate with manual edits.

I was a little afraid of the World Science Fiction Convention.  Previously, I’d only heard about this science fiction convention which has lasted for more than 80 years, from news reports and a few words from friends. There was always a sour grapes mentality of “looking at what other people’s families were doing”.

But now after experiencing it personally, I feel more or less disenchanted. Let me expand upon this first.

First of all, the Worldcon has a long history and many traditions. This is the 81st edition. With 80 previous events, it has accumulated a lot of experiences and traditions. I had never participated in it before, and felt that it would always be a bit of a mystery to me.

And then there’s the scale. Every time, thousands of science fiction fans and practitioners participate, with hundreds of stalls and hundreds of activities. Such a large scale has never been seen before in China.

Then there is the difficulty of organization. The complexity and organizational difficulty increases exponentially with the increase in scale. What’s more, except for a few members of the organizing committee, almost all of them are involved for just a short time. This level of difficulty is simply hellish. Think about it – it’s scary…

I saw from the WeChat official account of the convention that collections related to the history of science fiction were being solicited. I was originally thinking of doing a big presentation, but I succumbed to procrastination.  However, if I rushed to catch up with my preparations, maybe the visual effect could be good? …

In the end, as an exhibitor, I briefly displayed a small collection in two cabinets, and fortunately everyone reported that they had good impressions of it.

Therefore, my main participation in this conference was as an exhibitor, and secondarily as a guest 1, 3, and 5.   [I think this is a reference to the badge numbering, about what access individual attendee types had?]  I constantly switched between the two identities whilst at the con.

Precisely because of the resource-draining nature of being an exhibitor, I was unable to participate in many activities, and was unable to observe the full picture of this convention, which really was a pity.  If I had been able to attend more events, there would definitely be more [in this report]. However, I can summarize my experiences, to learn from [them in the future]

1. The venue is the basic determining factor for almost any event / Unparalleled, beyond imagination, 900 million yuan [approx $123m USD]  can convince people with reason…

The venue and facilities were so good, but my preparations were so unsatisfactory, and I completely underestimated the scale of this conference.

2. The youth trend is obvious, directly reversing the aging trend of the World Science Fiction Convention

I heard a long time ago that the participants at foreign world science fiction conventions are mainly middle-aged and elderly people, with only a small proportion of young people.  This phenomenon is not recent; it has a history of at least more than 20 years.

The same is true from my observations at my table. The foreign science fiction fans who came to the conference are generally older.  I never saw any children or teenagers, and young people in their twenties and thirties were also relatively rare.  [Note: the default Google Translate output says, “…were relatively preferred”, which didn’t make much sense to me.  I’ve taken the liberty of replacing that with something that makes more sense to me.]

By contrast, the clear main participants of this Chengdu Science Fiction Convention are minors, mainly primary school students, followed by junior high school students, and many high school students. Excluding the parents and adults accompanying children, the proportion of adult science fiction fans attending the conference was a long way down – less than one tenth….

I speculate that the average age of all participants this time was most likely no more than 18 years old.  Science fiction makes people young, if I’m honest.

I bet that no subsequent World Science Fiction Convention in the next fifty years will be able to gather such a group of tens of thousands of primary and secondary school science fiction fans – no, a hundred years.

I think foreign science fiction fans will have received a little shock from Chengdu 🙂

3. We ran out of materials and lacked preparations. We really couldn’t squeeze out another drop …

All the books that I planned to sell were sold out on the first or second day.

The three new commemorative medals made for this science fiction convention were almost completely out of ink the next day, and I had to replenish them twice a day. [Note

Not only were there not enough badges, but the 3,000 ribbons prepared for the previous 2,000 people did not last until the end, even with the restriction that “each person could only choose one.”

The only thing that I still had some inventory of, was a leaflet that had 5,000 copies printed.

I have skim read the second post, but haven’t had time or energy to do a similar write-up; it will probably appear in tomorrow’s Scroll.

The Space-Time Painter and the Hugos being used in school work and tests

I spotted these Xiaohongshu posts earlier today (1)(2).  There are other unusual references to this Hugo winner that I’ll include in a future Scroll.

Photos from Shanghai Halloween

These have absolutely nothing to do with the Worldcon, but they came up in my Xiaohongshu default feed late last night, and I thought they might be of mild interest to Filers.  Sorry that there’s no link to the source post, but I was afraid that if I spent too long looking at that post, the algorithmic feed might determine that this is the sort of content that it should continue to show me in future… There’s more in a short Twitter video from the Chinese news site Sixth Tone, and also a three-minute English-language explainer video on YouTube.

(3) MARVEL’S PROBLEMS. “Crisis at Marvel: Jonathan Majors Back-Up Plans, ‘The Marvels’ Reshoots, Reviving Original Avengers and More Issues Revealed” in Variety.

…[E]veryone at Marvel was reeling from a series of disappointments on-screen, a legal scandal involving one of its biggest stars and questions about the viability of the studio’s ambitious strategy to extend the brand beyond movies into streaming. The most pressing issue to be discussed at the retreat was what to do about Jonathan Majors, the actor who had been poised to carry the next phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe but instead is headed to a high-profile trial in New York later this month on domestic violence charges. The actor insists he is the victim, but the damage to his reputation and the chance he could lose the case has forced Marvel to reconsider its plans to center the next phase of its interlocking slate of sequels, spinoffs and series around Majors’ villainous character, Kang the Conqueror.

At the gathering in Palm Springs, executives discussed backup plans, including pivoting to another comic book adversary, like Dr. Doom. But making any shift would carry its own headaches: Majors was already a big presence in the MCU, including as the scene-stealing antagonist in February’s “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.” And he has been positioned as the franchise’s next big thing in this season of “Loki” — particularly in the finale, which airs on Nov. 9 and sets up Kang as the titular star of a fifth “Avengers” film in 2026.

“Marvel is truly fucked with the whole Kang angle,” says one top dealmaker who has seen the final “Loki” episode. “And they haven’t had an opportunity to rewrite until very recently [because of the WGA strike]. But I don’t see a path to how they move forward with him.”

Beyond the bad press for Majors, the brain trust at Marvel is also grappling with the November release of “The Marvels,” a sequel to 2019’s blockbuster “Captain Marvel” that has been plagued with lengthy reshoots and now appears likely to underwhelm at the box office….

(4) MORE LEARNEDLEAGUE. [Item by David Goldfarb.] Some One-Day Special quizzes that Filers might enjoy:

(Xena has gods and sorceresses; Randall Munroe has won a Hugo Award, so I claim that both of these are at least genre-adjacent.)

(5) HWA SUMMER SCARES SPOKESPERSON IS CLAY MCLEOD CHAPMAN. The Horror Writers Association yesterday announced their Summer Scares Reading Program 2024 Spokesperson and Timeline.

The Horror Writers Association (HWA), in partnership with United for Libraries, Book Riot, Booklist, and NoveList®, a division of EBSCO Information Services (EBSCO), is proud to announce the fifth annual Summer Scares Reading Program. Summer Scares is a reading program that provides libraries and schools with an annual list of recommended horror titles for adult, young adult (teen), and middle grade readers. It introduces readers and librarians to new authors and helps start conversations extending beyond the books from each list and promote reading for years to come.

Summer Scares is proud to announce the 2024 spokesperson, author Clay McLeod Chapman:

“To this day, I still have vivid memories of my grandmother escorting six-year-old me through our local library — Go, Bon Air! — and striking a deal: Pick two books, any two books, one for her to read to me and one for me to read to myself. When we both finished our individual reads, we could always come back and pick another pair. I can still list off practically every book I selected — beginning with “Monsters of North America” by William A. Wise — returning to the library to replenish our endless reservoir of reading every week of my childhood. Now I feel as if I’m returning to the library all over again, thanks to Summer Scares, where the deal this time is to pick those books that continue to make an impact on me and share them with as many readers as humanly possible.”

Chapman is joined by a committee of six library workers who, together, will select three recommended fiction titles in each reading level, totaling nine Summer Scares selections. The goal of the program is to encourage a national conversation about the horror genre, across all age levels, at libraries around the world, and ultimately attract more adults, teens, and children interested in reading. Official Summer Scares designated authors will also make themselves available at public and school libraries.

The committee’s final selections will be announced on February 14, 2024, Library Lover’s Day. Chapman, along with some of the selected authors, will kick off Summer Scares at the 8th Annual HWA Librarians’ Day, Friday, May 31st, during StokerCon® 2024 at the San Diego Mission Bay Marriott….

(6) HOWARD STATEMEN DEATH LEARNED. [Item by Rick Kovalcik.] Howard “Howeird” Statemen (1950-2022) was a past Boskone participant. In response to an email, his sister informed us that Howard passed away last year on October 5, 2022 of an aneurysm. Here’s the link to his memorial presentation on YouTube. He also had a website which may be of interest to some people: Howeird Dot Com at WMP

(7) SHERRIE R. CRONIN (1954-2023). Author Sherrie R. Cronin died October 23 at the age of 68. The SFWA Blog has posted a tribute.

…A geophysicist by trade and extensive traveler by passion, Cronin lived in seven cities and visited forty-six countries, while staying dedicated to her writing. Cronin wrote 13 works within the “46. Ascending” and “The War Stories of the Seven Troublesome Sisters” series. Additionally, she was dedicated to writing and blogging about world peace, empathy, and what she called intra-species harmony. She joked that she’d love to tell these stories, stories of peace—or be Chief Scientist Officer—on the Starship Enterprise, and admitted to occasionally checking her phone for a message from Captain Picard. Just in case….

(8) MEMORY LANE.

1939 [Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Our Beginning is not from a genre work this time, but from a mystery, that of Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep. We do cover mysteries here, so I thought I’d look at Chandler and this work.

He turned to writing mysteries relatively late at age forty four after losing his job as oil company exec during the Great Depression. “Blackmailers Don’t Shoot”, his first story, was published in 1933 in Black Mask, one of many mystery stories he’d write. The Big Sleep, his first novel, followed six years later. 

The Big Sleep would first be published by Alfred A. Knopf in 1939. It is based off of two Black Mask stories, “Killer in the Rain” (published in 1935) and “The Curtain” (published in 1936) as Chandler based his novels off previously written material. Well, he said “cannibalised” those stories. 

It would be made into two films, the 1946 film that Leigh Brackett helped write the screenplay and which co-started Humphrey Bogartand Lauren Bacall,  and a 1978 one that’s remembered mostly, well, for Robert Mitchum being at sixty twice as old as the character he playing, Philip Marlowe. Mitchum had previously been an aging Philip Marlowe in Farewell, My Lovely, a 1975 release. 

The 1946 film’s 38-year-old Marlowe played by Bogart who was 44 at the time. Why the script aged him by five years is unknown. 

There was a television adaptation starring Zachary Scott, who had done mostly Westerns, as Marlowe, that was broadcast on September 25, 1950. I can’t find any record of it existing now. 

Oh, and none of Chandler’s novels will move into the public domain until 2034, the year the rights to The Big Sleep are set to expire. 

And now our Beginning…

IT WAS ABOUT ELEVEN O’CLOCK in the morning, mid October, with the sun not shining and a look of hard wet rain in the clearness of the foothills. I was wearing my powder-blue suit, with dark blue shirt, tie and display handkerchief, black brogues, black wool socks with dark blue clocks on them. I was neat, clean, shaved and sober, and I didn’t care who knew it. I was everything the well-dressed private detective ought to be. I was calling on four million dollars. 

The main hallway of the Sternwood place was two stories high. Over the entrance doors, which would have let in a troop of Indian elephants, there was a broad stained-glass panel showing a knight in dark armor rescuing a lady who was tied to a tree and didn’t have any clothes on but some very long and convenient hair. The knight had pushed the vizor of his helmet back to be sociable, and he was fiddling with the knots on the ropes that tied the lady to the tree and not getting anywhere. I stood there and thought that if I lived in the house, I would sooner or later have to climb up there and help him. He didn’t seem to be really trying. 

There were French doors at the back of the hall, beyond them a wide sweep of emerald grass to a white garage, in front of which a slim dark young chauffeur in shiny black leggings was dusting a maroon Packard convertible. Beyond the garage were some decorative trees trimmed as carefully as poodle dogs. Beyond them a large green house with a domed roof. Then more trees and beyond everything the solid, uneven, comfortable line of the foothills.

On the east side of the hall a free staircase, tile-paved, rose to a gallery with a wrought-iron railing and another piece of stained-glass romance. Large hard chairs with rounded red plush seats were backed into the vacant spaces of the wall round about. They didn’t look as if anybody had ever sat in them. In the middle of the west wall there was a big empty fireplace with a brass screen in four hinged panels, and over the fireplace a marble mantel with cupids at the corners. Above the mantel there was a large oil portrait, and above the portrait two bullet-torn or moth-eaten cavalry pennants crossed in a glass frame. The portrait was a stiffly posed job of an officer in full regimentals of about the time of the Mexican war. The officer had a neat black Imperial, black mustachios, hot hard coalblack eyes, and the general look of a man it would pay to get along with. I thought this might be General Sternwood’s grandfather. It could hardly be the General himself, even though I had heard he was pretty far gone in years to have a couple of daughters still in the dangerous twenties. 

I was still staring at the hot black eyes when a door opened far back under the stairs. It wasn’t the butler coming back. It was a girl. 

She was twenty or so, small and delicately put together, but she looked durable. She wore pale blue slacks and they looked well on her. She walked as if she were floating. Her hair was a fine tawny wave cut much shorter than the current fashion of pageboy tresses curled in at the bottom. Her eyes were slategray, and had almost no expression when they looked at me. She came over near me and smiled with her mouth and she had little sharp predatory teeth, as white as fresh orange pits and as shiny as porcelain. They glistened between her thin to taut lips. Her face lacked color and didn’t look too healthy.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 1, 1897 Naomi Mary Margaret Mitchison, Baroness Mitchison, CBE (née Haldane). Author of many historical novels with genre trappings such as The Corn King and the Spring Queen which Terri Windling called “a lost classic” and The Bull Calves but also SF such as Memoirs of a Spacewoman. She was also a good friend of Tolkien, and was one of the proofreaders of The Lord of the Rings. (Died 1999.)
  • Born November 1, 1917 Zenna Henderson. Her first story was published in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction in 1951. The People series appeared in magazines and anthologies, as well as the stitched-together Pilgrimage: The Book of the People and The People: No Different Flesh. Other volumes include The People Collection and Ingathering: The Complete People Stories. She was nominated for a Hugo Award at Detention for her “Captivity” novelette. Her story “Pottage” was made into the 1972 ABC-TV movie, The People.  “Hush” became an episode of George A. Romero’s Tales from the Darkside which first aired in 1988. (Died 1983.)
  • Born November 1, 1923 Gordon R. Dickson. Writer, Filker, and Fan who was truly one of the best writers of both science fiction and fantasy. It would require a skald to detail his stellar career in any detail. His first published speculative fiction was the short story “Trespass!”, written with Poul Anderson, in the Spring 1950 issue of Fantastic StoriesChilde Cycle, featuring the Dorsai, is his best known series, and the Hoka are certainly his and Poul Anderson’s silliest creation. I’m very fond of his Dragon Knight series, which I think reflects his interest in medieval history.  His works received a multitude of award nominations, and he won Hugo, Nebula, and British Fantasy Awards. In 1975, he was presented the Skylark Award for achievement in imaginative fiction. He was Guest of Honor at dozens of conventions, including the 1984 Worldcon, and he was named to the Science Fiction Hall of Fame and the Filk Hall of Fame. The Dorsai Irregulars, an invitation-only fan volunteer security group named after his series, was formed at the 1974 Worldcon in response to the theft of some of Kelly Freas’ work the year before, and has provided security at conventions for the last 34 years. (Died 2001.) (JJ)
  • Born November 1, 1923 Dean A. Grennell. Writer, Editor, Firearms Expert, Conrunner, and Fan who edited numerous fanzines including La Banshee and Grue, which was produced sporadically from 1953 to 1979 and was a finalist for the Hugo Award in 1956. He published several short fiction works, and even dabbled in fanzine art. He ran a small U.S. gathering held the same weekend as the 1956 UK Natcon which was called the Eastercon-DAG, and another called Wiscon, which preceded the current convention of that name by more than twenty years. He is responsible for the long-running fannish joke “Crottled Greeps”. (Died 2004.) (JJ)
  • Born November 1, 1942 Michael Fleisher. A writer best known for his work at  DC Comics of the Seventies and Eighties, particularly for the Spectre and Jonah Hex. He wrote Hex for over a dozen years, both as an Old West and a SF character. Fleisher wrote three volumes of The Encyclopedia of Comic Books Heroes, doing some research on-site at DC Comics. (Died 2018.)
  • Born November 1, 1959 Susanna Clarke, 64. Author of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell which I think wins my award for the most-footnoted work in genre literature. It won a World Fantasy, Nebula, Mythopoeic and of course a Hugo Award, that being at Interaction. It was adapted into a BBC series, most likely without the footnotes. The Ladies of Grace Adieu and Other Stories collects her short works and is splendid indeed with artwork by Charles Vess. Her Piranesi novel as nominated for a Hugo at Discon III, the year that Martha Wells Network Effect got it.

(10) HWA INDIGENOUS HERITAGE MONTH. “Un-Settling Horrortellers: Introduction to Indigenous Heritage Month 2023” by Shane Hawk kicks off another Horror Writers Association blog series.

…The HWA has put great effort into recognizing the need for diversifying Horror and the association itself over the last few years. It’s been so wonderful to see. Owl Goingback has earned the Lifetime Achievement Award and won two Stokers, Jewelle Gomez also has earned a Lifetime Achievement Award, Stephen Graham Jones has won four Stokers, and the HWA has highlighted Indigenous writers just outside of the Horror genre like Daniel H. Wilson, Darcie Little Badger, and Tim Tingle.

Indigenous Horror is a small space to spill blood on the ground, smell the organ meat slopping out of the clawed-open abdomen, but it is growing at a nice pace. My main mission with Never Whistle at Night: An Indigenous Dark Fiction Anthology was to increase that small percentage and rid ourselves of that pesky “less-than” mathematical symbol when it came to describing Indigenous market share of genre works. The anthology has only been out for six weeks, but its status as an international bestseller since its first week (and every week since) has proven that there is an absolute hunger for Indigenous Horror and dark fiction. Over are the days of the non-Native genre writer killing us off after we help the white folks understand the monster’s weaknesses, exploiting our religions, our traumas, our cultures, our “esoteric” folklore. Also, the days wherein Holt McCallany of Mindhunter fame sported brownface to become Navajo in Creepshow 2 are over (“What the hell was that?” all the Natives asked in unison). Like I wrote in the original proposal sent to Penguin Random House: Now it’s our turn. (Or like Barkhad Abdi sternly told Tom Hanks in that one Boat Movie, “We’re da captain now…”

(11) OFF TO THE RACES. Mark Hamill helps plug the “Star Wars scheme for Bubba Wallace at Phoenix”.

Bubba Wallace will run a special Star Wars X-wing fighter scheme on his No. 23 Toyota this weekend for the NASCAR Cup Series Championship Race at Phoenix Raceway.

The scheme is inspired by Columbia Sportswear’s Star Wars collection.

(12) WILEY POST’S EERIE PRESSURE SUIT. The National Air and Space Museum’s podcast AirSpace devotes its latest episode “Jetstream” to an item of history-making pilot wear.

No, this isn’t a spooky Halloween costume. It’s one of the earliest pressure suits.

In the 1930s, aviation icon Wiley Post reached the stratosphere for the first time in his Lockheed Vega Winnie Mae. The aircraft didn’t have a pressurized cabin, so he wore a pressure suit and helmet designed for him by the B.F. Goodrich Company. 

***

We get it—the early days of aviation were full of outlandish characters, and it can be a little exhausting. But trust us on this one—it’ll be worth it. Wiley Post was an oil-worker and armed robber-turned-record breaking pilot who discovered the jet stream while wearing a sweet eye-patch and a suit straight out of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (it was a lewk). That should be enough but wait! There’s more! That steampunk getup, which Wiley designed and built with tire company BF Goodrich, was the very first successful pressure suit. And it did more than unlock the stratosphere, it laid the groundwork for the first spacesuits—and modern spacesuits aren’t much different. This tall tale keeps getting higher, but again—trust us (we’ve got the suit!). Special thanks to Tested’s Adam Savage, whose answer for “history’s most important spacesuit” was both unexpected and absolutely on the mark.

(13) ROBOBOOKS ON THE WAY. According to Publishers Weekly, “Kindle Direct Publishing Will Beta Test Virtual Voice–Narrated Audiobooks”.

In a post today in the Kindle Direct Publishing community forum, the self-publishing giant announced that it has begun a beta test on technology allowing KDP authors to produce audiobook versions of their e-books using virtual voice narration. The ability to create an audiobook using synthetic speech technology is likely to result in a boom in the number of audiobooks produced by KDP authors. According to an Amazon spokesperson, currently only 4% of titles self-published through KDP have an audiobook available.

Under the new initiativeauthors can choose one of their eligible e-books already on the KDP platform, then sample voices, preview the work, and customize the audiobook. After publication, audiobooks will be live within 72 hours, and will distributed wherever Audible titles are sold. Prices can be set between $3.99 and $14.99 and authors will receive a 40% royalty. All audiobooks created by virtual voice, the post says, will be clearly labeled and, as with any audiobook, customers can listen to samples….

(14) A FRIGHTENING COINCIDENCE. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Moid over at the Media Death Cult YouTube Channel has a short, 10-minute video on “The History Of Science Fiction Horror”. Funny that this should come out Halloween week. Spooky or what?

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Disney+ Shares ‘LEGO Marvel Avengers: Code Red’ Poster”Animation World Network has the story and a gallery of images from the production.

…In the special, the Avengers assemble to save New York City from the threat of the Red Skull and his Hydra forces. Amid the battle, the Avengers are unexpectedly joined by Black Widow’s father, Red Guardian, which doesn’t go over well with Natasha. 

In the show, after an argument with his daughter about his well-intentioned helicopter parenting, Red Guardian disappears under mysterious circumstances. As Black Widow and the Avengers investigate, they discover that the villainous Collector is kidnapping every character who has “red” in their name. But despite their best efforts, the Avengers are unable to stop the Collector from kidnapping his next victim, their friend Red She-Hulk….

Here’s the trailer:

[Thanks to Ersatz Culture, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, David Goldfarb, JeffWarner, Rick Kovalcik, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 10/29/23 Swamp Thing! You Make My Scroll Sing

(1) LINDA ADDISON ON HALLOWEEN. The Horror Writers Association blog continues its October theme: “Halloween Haunts: All The Treats! by Linda D. Addison”.

Halloween has been one of my favorite holidays my whole life. As a child the idea of dressing up that one day and going house to house to collect candy was magical. Back then, no one worried about being poisoned or razors in fruit. I felt stronger and magical in costume then in regular clothes. The thin awkward kid who read books all the time and didn’t talk much could become a powerful witch, one of my favorite costumes, and no doubt the easiest for my mother to create, since there were nine of us….

(2)  CHENGDU WORLDCON ROUNDUP. [Item by Ersatz Culture.]  So, when I emailed Mike yesterday’s update, I told him that that would be the last of the big daily updates, and anything in the future would just be ad hoc submissions.  Unfortunately the real-world had other ideas.

Con reports: Jiang Bo, SF Light Year and Nicholas Whyte

This pair of Chinese reports posted to Weibo are coming from different perspectives; one from a Hugo finalist in the Best Short Story, the other from a high profile fan.

Jiang Bo

This one is a bit awkward to report on, as whilst it was published on Weibo, the latter sections are only visible to logged in users, and creating a Weibo account – from the UK at least – is a Kafkaesque nightmare of “you need to verify via a code sent by SMS/sorry, we can’t send you an SMS, try again tomorrow/rinse and repeat”.  Fortunately a kind person on Twitter was able to provide me with the full text; I’ll see if there’s some way of getting the full text available more easily.

In terms of events at the con, he mostly writes about “businessy” and writerly stuff, which he seems to have enjoyed.  The selected extracts below are about more humdrum stuff, but which I think Filers would maybe relate to more.  In the interests of full transparency, it seems that these aspects were less enjoyable for him, and it would not be an unreasonable accusation to say I’m giving a negative spin on his overall experience.  

(Via Google Translate, with minor manual edits.)

It was only when I landed that I learned some big news: the hotel I was staying at, the Wyndham Hotel, was far away from the venue, and the organizer had arranged a shuttle bus to solve the transportation problem. As a rule of thumb, the hotel is usually next to the venue, and you can enter the venue just a short walk away. The shuttle bus takes about thirty minutes to get to the venue, and it leaves on time. This poses a challenge to the conference schedule, and is also the reason why I will be quite tired in the next few days – I have to catch the early morning bus to the conference venue every day…

The name of the venue is Nebula, and the largest hall inside is called Hugo. If you add some text to it, wouldn’t it mean that Nebula is greater than Hugo? I wonder if Americans will quarrel about this. However, a Chinese venue is too far away and the sound cannot be transmitted even if there is a noise…

There was an episode where I went back and forth for fifteen minutes just to find the Hall of Mars. This venue is very unique. The halls on the second floor are basically isolated from each other. They are small halls. You must find the correct elevator to go up. When you first arrive, it’s easy to get confused…

Speaking of eating, there are no restaurants around the huge Xingyun Hall. There is only one storefront on the first floor, which houses three or four fast food restaurants, including Subway, McDonald’s and Pizza Hut. If everyone wants to solve the problem of eating in the venue, they can only find these three or four restaurants. There are so many people there, it’s almost like a restaurant in Disneyland. It’s hard to find tables and chairs, so just find a place to eat…

“Hanging by a Thread” [aka “On the Razor’s Edge”] won the Galaxy Award for Best Short Story, which was a surprise. On returning to the hotel, I was interviewed by a Chengdu TV station for almost an hour, and it was almost midnight. Then I chatted with the producer Lao Wu about creative matters, and it was already 1 a.m. when we finished talking. It felt good to chat with Lao Wu and talk about pure creation. It’s just that the schedule of the World Science Fiction Convention is too tight. If we don’t seize this time, we may not have the chance to have a good chat…

In order to get to the venue before 10 a.m., I took the 9 a.m. bus. The opening hours of science fiction convention venues are actually 9:30, so there will generally be fewer people attending the 9:30 morning session. In fact, at 10 a.m., there were still very few people, especially on weekdays. So the audience at our panel seemed very minimal, especially since it was located in the road show area, a corner that is difficult for tourists to reach. We started with the same number of people on stage and off stage. Fortunately, as time went by, the number of listeners gradually increased, and finally it was like a decent press conference…

After the press conference, I started thinking about eating again. The afternoon activity was at the Sheraton Hotel. After looking at my guest card, I had a bold idea, why not try the Sheraton?

The Sheraton Hotel is right next to the venue and can be reached on foot in about fifteen minutes. The Sheraton housed VVIPs, who are some important international friends and more important domestic guests. Although you needed to show your room card to eat at the Sheraton, what if you only needed to show your card during the conference?

I contacted the contact person and they replied that I could only have lunch at the hotel where I am staying. But I still set foot on the road to the Sheraton Hotel with hope…

The smooth lines of the Nebula Pavilion are natural, and equally smooth are the queues waiting for autograph signings. That’s right, this afternoon happened to be Liu’s autograph signing. The signing line stretched from the third floor to the first floor, and then meandered along the lakeside. I was shocked when I saw such a long line, and quickly took out my mobile phone to take pictures… I was both admiring and envious at the same time: I wish I could have such a long signing queue one day!…

Something strange also happened at SF Night [a reception jointly organized by Science Fiction World and Saifan Space]. The security of this science fiction conference was extremely strict. Xia Jia and several other authors were stopped outside.  Even organizers like Sun Yueraz were stopped from entering again after leaving. I met Xia Jia when I went out after the event. He was sitting at a table outside the security gate, looking relaxed and comfortable, chatting with others. Some things are changing, and some things remain unchanged…

The signing event went much better than expected. For at least an hour, there was a steady stream of people coming to get my signature. This is the power of the World Science Fiction Convention. It gathered a large number of people and brought some traffic to us authors. One of the fans took out the journal where I first published my novel, the April 2003 issue of The End Game, which had a photo of me on it. Compared to that time, my hair volume is a bit anxious. After all, people only have so many good days, and youth never comes back once it’s gone…

[Extracts from the acceptance speech he prepared] Thank you to all readers who voted for me and for recognizing this work.

Thank you to all readers who voted for the Hugo Awards. Anyone who is willing to spend money to vote is true love. Your support is the driving force behind this award continuing to this day….

The last thing I want to thank is this great era. In the past few decades, China has developed from an agricultural country to an industrial country, and has continuously made progress in economy and science and technology. This great process must be reflected in the writer’s thinking. Without this era and the Chinese Space Station, stories like “Hanging by a Thread” would not have been possible.

As for me, I would like to quote Mr. Carl Sagan’s epitaph to illustrate, “He never grew up, but he never stopped growing.” I hope that I can continue to grow in science fiction. Share this with everyone.

Thank you everyone, thank you to everyone who loves Chinese science fiction.[end of his acceptance speech].

Finally, the lottery was drawn, and the pie did not fall on my head. When my boots hit the ground, I felt calm. This is probably the closest I’ve ever been to a Hugo Award. If I miss it, I won’t get it again. Life always has its ups and downs. But after all, I never had the chance to say this. Writing it down is also a kind of record and will not be forgotten.

After the awards ceremony, there was a reception on Hugo night. It was held on the large terrace of the Nebula Pavilion, and you needed a ticket to enter, have a drink and chat. Generally speaking, I still chat to people I know. The organizer also arranged some programs. Many foreign friends gathered to watch, but domestic people seemed not very interested.

I came out before the reception ended and happened to meet [SF World editor, Hugo Editor finalist, concom member] Yao Haijun. I took his car back to the hotel and enjoyed the VVIP red flag car treatment…

I felt very sleepy after the conference. For the two days after I came back, I felt like I couldn’t wake up every day. Maybe I had a dream. Dreams are easy to be forgotten, so I have to fix them with words. This is probably the only thing that short-lived humans can struggle with in the face of the infinite world. 

SF Light Year

SF Light Year (aka 科幻光年/Kehuan Guang Nian aka Adaoli) is an influential Chinese fan, with 370k followers on Weibo.  He has been mentioned in several earlier Chengdu updates, and has commented here a few times.  Disclosure: he was also my co-conspirator in a plan to exchange fanzines and signed books between the UK and China, in order to give them as surprise gifts to some Hugo finalists, a couple of whom went on to win in their categories.  I also get namechecked in the second of the three parts of this report posted to Weibo.  As such, I’m not an impartial reporter of his comments.  Note also that Mike and File 770 also gets briefly mentioned in the first part.

Part 1Part 2Part 3

Note: Because these three posts are so long, the “Translate content” links that appear at the bottom of posts timed out for me.  I ended up having to copypaste the text into Google Translate.  I did ask him if I could upload the translated text (e.g. to Pastebin or similar) for everyone’s convenience, but didn’t get a reply due to it being night in China when I asked that question.  

The following excerpts are via Google Translate, with minor manual edits.

(from first post)

Every time I attend various science fiction conferences and meet authors and fantasy fans, I am always happy and excited. What gives me good memories of the Chengdu World Science Fiction Conference is not the gorgeous venue but every sincere science fiction fan and person who laughed, cried, got angry, and was moved. I will remember every moment in my heart. But this long article is dedicated to recording my disappointment with the Chengdu World Science Fiction Conference, as a small supplement to a grand narrative, because it is important to us science fiction fans, to our science fiction community, and to our internal and external science fiction. Communication can have far-reaching consequences. I’d love to be that little kid who calls out that the Emperor has no clothes.

After the successful bid to host the Chengdu World Science Fiction Conference in 2021, the organizing committee promised that fantasy travelers will “enter as VIP guests, enjoy VIP treatment, and all tickets to the conference will be free of charge.” The actual situation of the conference is that these so-called VIP guests (who are also members of WSFS) are different from the guests separately invited by the organizing committee. They did not automatically receive the right to participate in the opening and closing ceremonies and the Hugo Award ceremony… Those who purchased event tickets (non-members) also needed to participate in the lottery for access to one of the three ceremonies. Some fellow WSFS members were not even able to get admission to any of the ceremonies…

On the other hand, public news shows that as early as April 2022, an internal meeting in Pidu District arranged the event planning plan for the 81st World Science Fiction Convention in that district. Real estate developers also used the venue of the Pidu District convention as a selling point to make plans for nearby properties. [Real estate developer] Vanke also once put up a big sign announcing the countdown to the World Science Fiction Conference at the sales office, but it was later removed at the request of the organizing committee. In the tug-of-war of the balance of forces among all parties, the interests of this group of college student application groups were the first to be sacrificed.

Because he had been tracking the venue confirmation and conference information posted on Weibo from very early on, which revealed the venue change to Pidu District before the official announcement, Yao Chi [from the con team, I think this is the same person as Joe Yao] once contacted me and asked me to remove the relevant article. My response was that if Pidu District took down their announcements, I would also take down my posts on Weibo…

(from second post)

… Wu Miao mentioned that his book signing was actually a mess: although the book sold well in the two days, part way through, the con removed copies of his book, and the readers who went in the afternoon were all empty-handed and could not buy the book.  I took four customers everywhere to look for books, but none of the exhibition staff had any explanation or follow-up. His autograph signing was arranged for the first two days (non-weekends) when there were few people. The on-site booth was borrowed from Booker Bookstore because the conditions of the venue were very poor… His publisher also stated that the conference did not consider the interests of exhibitors and “there will be no next time.” Similar lack of coordination occurred repeatedly. Several guests told me that they were suddenly informed that there was a signing, or that there was a time conflict between the signing and the panel schedule. The book sales were located on the first floor, but the book signings were on the third floor. It was very inconvenient for readers to buy books and sign books, and the process of selecting and finding books was very unfriendly.

On October 14, 2023 in our online science fiction group, a hearing-impaired person attending the conference, who has a disability certificate, told us about the accessibility request email she sent to the conference.  She had asked what kind of help will be provided to the hearing-disabled people if they need it, and what materials should be applied and prepared for in advance.  Her email was returned undelivered… We found that the contact address given on the official website was wrong.  However [after this was pointed out on Weibo and the address got promptly fixed] our disabled member sent another email to the correct address, but there was no reply or official contact instructions until the end of the conference.  For such an important communication channel, it seemed that the accessibility service department was just a fiction, which is disappointing especially when the organizing committee clearly knew from reading Weibo that someone had applied for accessibility services. Fortunately, she was always accompanied by enthusiastic fans during the conference.

The lack of communication was also reflected in the coordination of volunteers. The organizing committee announced the recruitment of volunteers through different processes more than once. I submitted forms and emails twice, stating that my specialty was Japanese and that I could be a volunteer, but there was no response to any emails from the beginning to the end. Many times in various groups, I encountered netizens complaining and asking me about the same situation. Later, I learned that the government had arranged a bidding process for volunteer service projects [1], and the volunteers and training procedures were determined through other methods. However, all offline applications were not responded to and followed up, which is indeed inappropriate…

Many Hugo Award finalists, including those from China, were told they would stay at the Sheraton [close to the venue], but were eventually downgraded to Wyndham [much further away]. In terms of differential treatment, I would like to mention that Ling Shizhen, who was also a Hugo Award finalist for the Zero Gravity fanzine, was not initially given permission to attend the opening and closing ceremonies or the Hugo Award Ceremony. (His badge only had the number 3/5, which was the minimum permission for all invited guests, only allowing entry to the Science Fiction Museum and the Sheraton hotel). He was very angry about this. After contacting the organizing committee, he had to travel back and forth between the con venue and the hotel to coordinate, until finally he was allowed to enter the ceremony hall, and eventually went on stage to receive the Hugo Award.

(from third post)

On the opening day of the conference on October 18, 2023, we passed by the venue and found that the newly established “food truck area” at the Nebula Campground (renovated from dozens of buses) at the Science Museum and Sheraton Road was blocked off. and not open to the public. The news circulating in our group was that “the food in the food trucks was not classy and would affect the image” and therefore it was cancelled….

Regarding the sudden need to control the number of attendees at the reception held at the Sheraton during the conference, which resulted in a large number of invited domestic and foreign guests being unable to enter, breaking up unhappy or even causing disputes, we will not discuss this for the time being….

Enthusiastic netizens have compiled a complete breakdown of the amount related to the venue construction, tens of millions related to conference preparation and venue.  For example, the winning bid amount for the Hugo Trophy, just for the design was as high as 570 thousand yuan [approximately $80,000 USD]…

Basically, this World Science Fiction Convention was held in a situation that was both open and closed, rich and barren. If you were interviewing foreign guests, especially several World Science Fiction Convention officials or important guests – the venue has a distinction between VVIP and VIP arrangements for volunteers – there were elaborate arrangements for the support of various celebrities, free travel, meals and accommodation for two people, and special personnel to coordinate and arrange access, and enjoy exquisite meals. [Regular] Guests who have participated in dozens of conferences never enjoyed such support, even though participating in the Chengdu World Science Fiction Conference would be their highlight moment. According to Nnedi Okorafor herself, “I was treated like a queen.”… 

On the other hand, I came into contact with front-line staff from the exhibition organizers who were exhausted due to internal friction in coordination and communication, relevant leaders who frankly said they no longer wanted to bid for the World Science Fiction Convention, guests who canceled their panels because they were angry that the promised venue control would not cooperate, as well as guests who continued to attend the convention…

 In every sense of the word, this is an unforgettable World Science Fiction Convention. This was the first time it was held in China. I don’t know if there will be a second time.

[1] This might explain a Xiaohongshu post I saw yesterday, which was a group selfie of some volunteers, who were all employees of (IIRC) a construction company.  At the time I just assumed it was a group of colleagues who’d decided to do a good deed, but now I wonder if there was more to it.

Nicholas Whyte

His post about the Doctor Who panel was covered in Friday’s Scroll, but he has also posted about a visit to a panda research centrethe panels he was on, and the events he attended  and his various experiences.

Still waiting on the Hugo Statistics report

A week ago today, there was an indication that the statistics might be published on the Friday just gone.  That hasn’t happened, and as far as I know, there has been no further status update.

I think lots of us are very interested in finding out where certain books that seemed like dead certs – or as close as you can get to it in the Hugos – ended up in the nominations.

(3) CHEERS FOR FEARS.  “Shock of the new: Jordan Peele, Mariana Enríquez and more on the horror fiction renaissance” in the Guardian.

…Now horror is emphatically back, and it is no longer a dirty word. Publishing imprints such as Titan and Nightfire are devoted almost entirely to the genre, small presses are helping to introduce new names, and a thriving online community of readers, writers, critics and commentators champion literature’s most sinister impulses.

Such insatiable appetite is forcing change. From the Argentinian new wave to British neo-folk, from the Asian-inflected horror of authors such as Chinese-Canadian writer Ai Jiang to the African heritage of British-Nigerian Nuzo Onoh, writers across the world are pushing outwards, creating space for new perspectives. Horror is rapidly evolving from what was once a white, male and highly Anglocentric genre into something more diverse and much more reactive.

A new US book is testament to this progress. Out There Screaming: An Anthology of New Black Horroris edited by film director Jordan Peele, who made Us and the electrifying Oscar-winner Get Out. Peele writes in his introduction: “I view horror as catharsis through entertainment. It’s a way to work through your deepest pain and fear.” But, he suggests, that isn’t possible for Black people “without the stories being told in the first place”.

For Peele, this collection, compiled with co-editor John Joseph Adams, was a chance to commission “the very best Black authors in fiction,” he tells me over email. “I hoped that, when prompted to create a personalised nightmare, their ‘monsters’ might be representative of some previously unnamed truths. What you get are stories that feel like they couldn’t or wouldn’t have been told a few years ago.”

NK Jemisin’s contribution examines police brutality through surrealistic body horror, while Tananarive Due imagines a moment from the civil rights movement that reads like an unearthed piece of folk history. But it’s interesting how many of the tales in Out There Screamingeschew overtly racialised horror – in particular, the tight focus on trauma that has long been a thorny issue in the Black horror community….

(4) WHY JEMINSIN CONTRIBUTED. “For N.K. Jemisin, Reality Inspired Horror Fiction” – the New York Times has the details.  

Nineteen writers contributed to the story collection, including N.K. JemisinLesley Nneka ArimahTochi Onyebuchi and Tananarive Due. Initially Jemisin declined to participate, although she was pleased to be approached. “I like writing stories, but I’m very slow to write them and I don’t do well with commissions,” Jemisin said in a phone interview. “I don’t have any interest in writing to order, basically. I said, if something inspires me, sure, I’m on it, but otherwise don’t count on anything.”

Jemisin had a change of heart on a vacation in the Outer Banks: “Next door to us was a family of cops, apparently, who hung a thin blue line flag and partied all weekend and made a great deal of noise, knowing full well nobody was going to call the cops on them.”

She went on, “Nothing overt happened. We were fine. But we were on this trip with some teenagers and we told them, ‘Do not go out by yourselves because this doesn’t feel like a safe place to be a bunch of young Black folks.’”

Instead of going to the beach, Jemisin started writing “Reckless Eyeballing,” the story that now opens “Out There Screaming.” It’s about Carl Billings, a Black highway patrol officer with a habit of “roughing up” people he pulls over — a broken arm here, a baton to the teeth there. His white supervisor is on to him, and then a video of one of his traffic stops goes viral. But worst of all is Carl’s unsettling vision of oncoming headlights as eyeballs, blinking and veined, watching. He can’t get away from them…

(5) HARVEY Q&A. “Samantha Harvey: ‘I like Alien as much as anybody else. But I see this novel as space pastoral’” in the Guardian.

…How come you initially lost your nerve?
We’re in an age of first-person veracity. By some bizarre spasm of fate, I’m doing a radio interview next month alongside Tim Peake. I’m filled with anxiety: why would anyone care what some woman in Wiltshire has to say about what it might be like to be in space, when she’s sitting alongside Tim Peake? Maybe the answer is that there’s somewhere the imagination can go that experience can’t. Nasa’s website has hundreds of fascinating but quite humdrum journals that astronauts have written while in space. I was thinking, there’s a gap here – a sort of metaphysical gap, a magical experience that isn’t being documented the way I’d like to document it.

Did you want to write against more plot-driven space narratives?
I like Alien as much as anybody else. I never saw this novel as being against sci-fi, but I didn’t see it as having an awful lot in relation to it either. I thought of it as space pastoral – a kind of nature writing about the beauty of space, with a slightly nostalgic sense of what’s disappearing. Not just on Earth, but also the ISS itself, this really quite retro piece of kit which is going to be deorbited after 23 years of rattling around at 17,500 miles an hour….

(6) LOWER DECKS. “Mike McMahan Talks ‘Star Trek: Lower Decks’ Season 4” with Animation World Network’s Dan Sarto.

…DS: Right. Let’s talk a little bit about the Strange New Worlds crossover episode. You teased it when we spoke last August. It was a fantastic episode.

MM: Thank you.

DS: The animation held its own against a well-designed visual effects-driven show. It did both worlds proud. It fit. It wasn’t too gaggy, but it was funny. I was really impressed because I had no idea what to expect. And of course, Commander Riker [Jonathan Frakes] directed it. So, tell me about your involvement. And how tough was it to pull that off?

MM: Strange New Worlds allowed me to get to somewhere where it was a little funnier than they’re used to and a little more strange new worlds than I’m used to. I was a tool that they were using. So, they used me on multiple script passes in the edit, helping conceive of the episode and all that stuff, but I can’t take any credit for that. It really was an amazing thing that they wanted to do because it was so different. And they’re only in their second season. I don’t think I would’ve had the balls to do that on a second-season show. But what it really came down to is we all had a blast, and that really comes through when you watch the episode.

And I could have made that a feature-length episode and added way more Orion pirates and all sorts of stuff. But at the end of the day, what it really highlighted was character, and I think that was really smart, that Tawny and Jack are fucking amazing. But you know who else is? Everybody on Strange New Worlds. So, getting to see them all mixed together the whole episode, it’s just such a party. It’s just such a Star Trek party that, if you’re watching this era, that is a crazy encapsulation of what makes you feel good. It’s like what you like about Trek….

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 29, 1906 Fredric Brown. Author of Martians, Go Home which would be made into a movie of the same name. He received compensation and credit from NBC as their Trek episode “Arena” had more than a passing similarity to his novelette which was nominated for Retro Hugo at CoNZealand. Interestingly, a whole lot of his Edgar Award-winning mysteries are being released on the usual suspects in December. (Died 1972.)
  • Born October 29, 1935 Shelia Finch, 88. She is best remembered for her stories about the Guild of Xenolinguists which aptly enough are collected in The Guild of Xenolinguists story collection. She first used it her 1986 Triad novel. The term would later be used to describe the character Uhura in the rebooted Trek film. Her Reading the Bones novel, part of the Guild of Xenolinguists series would win a Nebula. 
  • Born October 29, 1938 Ralph Bakshi, 85. Started as low-level worker at Terrytoons, studio of characters such as Heckle and Jeckle and Mighty Mouse which I adore. His first major break would be on CBS as creative director of Mighty Mouse and the Mighty Heroes. Fast forwarding to Fritz the Cat which may or may not be genre but it’s got a foul-mouthed talking cat when should make it genre, yes? Genre wise, I’d say Wizards which features voice work by Mark Hamill and whose final name was Wizards so it wouldn’t be confused with you know what film. It was nominated for a Hugo at IguanaCon II when Star Wars won. Next up was The Lord of the Rings, a very odd affair. That was followed by Fire and Ice, a collaboration with Frank Frazetta. Then came what I considered his finest work, the Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures series!  Then there’s Cool World
  •  Born October 29, 1941 Hal W. Hall, 82. Bibliographer responsible for the Science Fiction Book Review Index (1970 – 1985) and the Science Fiction Research Index (1981 – 1922). He also did a number of reviews including three of H. Beam Piper’s Fuzzy books showing he had excellent taste in fiction.
  •  Born October 29, 1954 Paul Di Filippo, 69. Ciphers: a post-Shannon rock-n-roll mystery was his first work. He is, I’d say, an acquired taste. I like him. I’d suggest first reading you don’t know him should be The Steampunk Trilogy and go from there.  His “A Year in the Linear City” novella was nominated at Torcon 3 for Best Novella, and won the 2003 World Fantasy Award and the 2003 Theodore Sturgeon Award. Oh, and he’s one of our stellar reviewers having reviewed at one time or another for Asimov’s Science FictionThe Magazine of Fantasy and Science FictionScience Fiction EyeThe New York Review of Science FictionInterzoneNova Express and Science Fiction Weekly
  •  Born October 29, 1954 Kathleen O’Neal Gear, 69. Archaeologist and writer. I highly recommend the three Anasazi Mysteries that she co-wrote with W. Michael Gear. She’s a historian of note so she’s done a lot of interesting work in that area such as Viking Warrior Women: Did ‘Shieldmaidens’ like Lagertha Really Exist?  And should you decide you want to keep buffalo, she’s the expert on doing so. Really. Truly, she is.
  • Born October 29, 1971 Anna Dale, 52. Scottish writer whom many reviewers have dubbed “the next JK Rowling” who’s best known for her Whispering to Witches children’s novel. It was based on her masters dissertation in children’s writing. She has written two more novels of a similar ilk, Spellbound and Magical Mischief

(8) COMICS SECTION.

  • The Flying McCoys explains why a Charles Schulz tradition came to an end.
  • Tom Gauld shares the cauldron ingredient list.

(9) REFLECTS A CHANGING MARKET. LAist brings the bad news that “Two Of LA’s Oldest Comic Stores Are Closing Down”.

Not even a superhero could save two of Los Angeles’s oldest comic book stores.

Torrance’s Geoffrey’s Comics and Hi De-Ho Comics in Santa Monica are closing at the end of the year.

Owner Geoffrey Patterson II said that ever since the pandemic, many comic book fans moved from purchasing their comics in person to online. For his stores, that meant losing half of his customer base and more than half of the profits.

But the pandemic was just the last straw.

“It’s also just as it has become mainstream, that other places are now selling comic books that weren’t selling them before,” he said, citing big retailers like Target. “It went from being only in comic book stores to everywhere. So the customers now have 100 choices for where they pick up a comic book story, and that just kept shrinking and shrinking our customer base.”…

(10) DOING HARD TIME. He’s rocky, just not the one that first comes to mind.Animation World Network reviews “‘Curses!’ Blends Horror, Comedy, and Action with a Dad Turned to Stone”

Premiering today, Friday, October 27, Curses!, from DreamWorks Animation, hits Apple TV+ just in time for Halloween. In the all-new animated, spooky adventure-comedy series for kids, when a generations-long family curse turns Alex Vanderhouven to stone, it’s up to his two children, Pandora and Russ, and his wife Sky, to return artifacts stolen by their ancestors to their rightful homes to finally lift the curse for good….

Curses! began as a collaboration between creators Jim Cooper and Jeff Dixon. The two had never written together before; they met when their children started school together, and after dropping them off, they’d walk home and discuss their writing careers. “Jeff was mostly in horror, and I was mostly in family animation,” Cooper shares. “Sometime over the years, we thought, ‘Hey, it would be cool to combine the two.’ We hit upon the idea of Curses! after discussing what we call my ‘family curse.’ That got us thinking about other family curses and their causes, and things just sort of went from there.”

“It started with Coop telling me the story of his ‘family curse,’ Dixon adds. “He told me that all the men on one side of his family died young, generation after generation. After he showed me a photo of his grandfather as a baby holding an actual human skull, we started thinking, ‘Holy hell, that skull must somehow be the origin of the curse!’ Then our imaginations started spinning out of control thinking about curses and what happens to later generations when a family line is cursed because of something their ancestors did, to no fault of their own. And it only grew from there.”…

(11) JUST DUCKY. Heritage Auctions’ November 16 – 19 Comics & Comic Art Signature® Auction has rafts of collectible art.  This piece is particularly interesting – and is already bid up to $26,000.

 Carl Barks Luck of the North Donald Duck Painting Original Art (1973). Though this rollicking scene is based on one of the “Good Duck Artist’s” most famous yarns, this is the only painted version of it that he ever did. Carl Barks based this colorful calamity on his 1949 Donald Duck adventure from Four Color #256. This mirthful masterwork was published on Page 169 (as color plate 49) of The Fine Art of Walt Disney’s Donald Duck, where Barks noted: “In that northern lights effect at the top, I found pictures of the northern lights in some National Geographics and I kind of stole some. I find water very difficult to paint. It’s hard work, but I worked at this until I got it to look halfway authentic. I generally just plunged right in on an idea whether I was going to have trouble or not. I’d start out with a simple idea, and keep on elaborating on it until I had a real complex thing going.”

(12) VAMPIRE HUNTER D. The Animation Explorations Podcast has dropped the first episode of their second year. For the spooky season they take a look at the 1985 adaptation of Hideyuki Kikuchi’s first novel in “Vampire Hunter D (1985)” series. 

(13) THE LIGHTS IN THE SKY.  “‘Call me chief priestess for the moon goddess’: space scientist Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock” tells the Guardian.

Call me chief priestess for the moon goddess,” says Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock when I ask whether she prefers to be known as an astronomer, physicist or space scientist. She is, after all, entitled to all of them because before presenting The Sky at Night on the BBC she trained as a physicist, then an engineer and is now the nation’s go-to woman for all things space. But it seems that she really has her eye on the job of a 4,300-year-old Sumerian religious leader.

“I was giving a talk in the Scottish parliament,” she explains when we meet at a photographer’s studio hidden in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it alleyway in east London, “and I mentioned En Hedu’anna, the first female scientist who was known as chief priestess for the moon goddess of the city of Ur [in ancient Mesopotamia].” After the talk, the chair suggested they vote to bestow on Aderin-Pocock the title of chief priestess for the moon goddess of the city of Edinburgh. “That’s what I would like on my business card,” she says with a delighted clap of the hands and the kind of irresistible enthusiasm that viewers of The Sky at Night will be familiar with.

Forgotten or uncredited scientists, such as En Hedu’anna, feature prominently in Aderin-Pocock’s new book, The Art of Stargazing, a practical guide to identifying and understanding the 88 constellations…

…[Why] is outdated ancient science from long-dead civilisations still important? “When I grew up, there were many kids who looked at science and thought: ‘Well, someone like me doesn’t do that because it’s not my culture, it’s not for me – I don’t have a history of this.’ Diversity is about bringing different ideas and people into science because if it’s all just done by the European white guys, we get a very blinkered view of the world. That’s why access to the history of astronomy is important for everyone.’…

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