Registration Opens for 2023 SFWA Nebula Conference

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association (SFWA) has opened registration for the 2023 Nebula Conference, which will be taking place both online and in-person at the Sheraton Park Hotel at the Anaheim Resort, in Anaheim, CA from May 12-14, 2023.

Registrations may be purchased at this link. Registration for the online portion of the conference is $150.00 and includes access to broadcasts of many of the weekend’s panels and the subsequent archive, mentorship opportunities, the Nebula Awards ceremony, a conference Discord, and entry to SFWA’s ongoing Nebula Conference events beginning May 1, 2023.

In-person conference registration begins at $349.00, which includes access to the online conference. Due to limited space and seating, they anticipate the conference and banquet to sell out, so are encouraging people to buy their tickets early. Participants may attend panels and the awards ceremony in-person, take part in mentorships and receptions, and visit the SFWA hospitality suite.

For Anaheim attendees, banquet tickets for the Nebula Awards banquet can be purchased for an additional $125.00. This three-course celebration dinner held before the Nebula Awards ceremony on Saturday, May 13, 2023 is a fantastic opportunity to mingle with old friends and meet new peers. Conference attendees who wish to attend the ceremony without purchasing a ticket to the banquet may do so on a space-available basis. The ceremony will also stream live online for the public.

The Nebula Conference is the premier professional development conference for aspiring and established members of the science fiction and fantasy industries. It includes content geared toward creators working in games, comics, prose, poetry, and other mediums of storytelling, which reflects the diversifying and expanding membership in the organization.  

Purchase conference registrations at this link. Hotel reservations must be made separately, and information on how to reserve a room at conference rates is available at that webpage, along with SFWA policies for harassment, COVID-19, and code of conduct. For questions, please contact [email protected]

[Based on a press release.]

Pixel Scroll 12/27/22 Ebenezer Scroll! Tonight You Will Be Visited By Five Pixels (Three, My Lord!)

(1) BE THE SOCIAL MEDIA YOU LIKE. Cat Rambo counsels SFWA Blog readers about “Social Media Strategy for Writers” – and you can listen in.

You have been told, like so many writers before you, that you must have a social media presence. That nowadays, agents and publishing houses look to see how many Twitter followers you have before opening your manuscript. That it’s all about connection with readers, and the only way to manage that is a fashion show of your protagonist’s ball gown on BookTok with little animated birds helping you put on your stockings.

This is, in fact, not true.

A social media presence can be helpful for book promotion, certainly. But a forced, unhappy one, a presence that is mandated and labored on rather than performed for pleasure, will not be helpful. If you absolutely hate social media, then you will want to find other ways of self-marketing, which do exist. But human beings are social creatures, and most people find social media more alluring than they want to admit…. 

(2) TOUGH LITERARY TRIVIA. “Can you outwit Margaret Atwood? The bumper books quiz of 2022” in the Guardian. Never mind how many of the 50 questions I got right. (Okay, none – not even the one where a genre writer was the correct answer!! How can you not do better than that?)

Which author was this year elected to the US Senate? In what horror story does a vampire appear as a cat? Test your wits with questions set by authors including Atwood, Bernardine Evaristo, Ian Rankin and more…

(I got zero because I decided against dive-bombing the test, and only tried to answer the several questions I knew something about. Which wasn’t enough, as the result proved.)

(3) STERLING FREE READ. “’Balkan Cosmology’ by Bruce Sterling” at Medium, says the author, is “an eccentric work of scientific fabulation that’s my all-too-topical farewell to Belgrade. One of my homes for many years. I could likely sell this yarn and print it somewhere, but why, if no one in the Balkans would see it anyway? An ambivalent gift for Orthodox Christmas.”

…Nikola understood the sadness of this dismal fate, as a young man landing in an unmarked grave (because Serbian history abounded with similar episodes). However, Nikola lacked any proper shovel to dig his own grave. Tragically, he had to gouge his own grave with his survivalist camp-knife.

This cool, macho device featured a stout gleaming blade with a sawtooth, and also a fire-steel, a built-in whistle and a wilderness compass. However, as a grave-digging tool, a “survival knife” was a contradiction in terms….

(4) SFWA GROWS. The Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers Association has reached a membership milestone: “Championing SFF Storytellers at 2,500 Members and Beyond!”

… With that said, we want to show the SFF community what we’ve been up to with your valued engagement and much needed support. We’ve launched or continued a number of beneficial resources and programs this year for the entire SFF community. This is just a small sampling:

Safety Resources: A series of guides that help event planners and authors navigate questions around maintaining safety and privacy for events and our online presences.

Indie Pub 101: A hub of information for authors beginning a self-publishing career.

SFWA Blog series: The Indie Files and Romancing SFF blog series have helped shed light on how these two creator communities lend value to the genres.

DisneyMustPay: An ongoing endeavor with multiple peer organizations, this dedicated and tireless taskforce is still working behind the scenes to see that creators are getting what they’re owed by one of the biggest entertainment and media companies in the world. 

Givers Fund Grants: Awarded annually, these grants help promote the SFF genre through providing funding to projects like the South African Speculative Fiction’s workshop with the South African Environmental Project, distributing SFF books for free through the Gooding Public Library Foundation, and supporting small presses and magazines such as Space Cowboy Books and Firkin Press. We’ve awarded over $250,000 in Givers Fund Grants since 2014, and we’d love to see those numbers grow…. 

(5) REPLY HAZY, TRY AGAIN. “What weird fandom thing will happen this January?” – Camestros Felapton asks you to help him interrogate the fannish cosmos.

I don’t have firm statistical evidence that January is prone to fannish feuds, disputes or cause célèbres but something about a new year sets things in motion. Sometimes, it is a delayed reaction to stuff that happened in December (e.g. in 2020 the Courtney Milan/RWA dispute was really a late December thing that spilled over into January) and maybe people taking a break from being heavily online leads to more willingness to get het-up about stuff in the new year….

(6) IT’S NOT GUILLERMO CALLING. Victoria Strauss warns against “The ‘Mexican Film Director’ Scam” at Writer Beware.

If a rash of solicitations over the past few months are to be believed, there’s a major rush down in Mexico to acquire film rights to books.

…These virtually identical emails are, of course, laughably bogus–from the peculiar capitalizations, to the anonymous “Hollywood Movie Agents”, to the implausibility of these supposed directors bollixing up their own movie titles, to the unlikelihood of famous film folks personally soliciting authors via funny-looking Gmail accounts–but they have been briskly doing the rounds since this past summer, and I’ve collected quite a trove of them thanks to the many authors who’ve sent them to me.

Obviously a scam, in other words. But what’s the endgame?

Writers who respond to their “Mexican Film Director” receive a long spiel about turning books into movies, in which the Director claims that the writer’s book is in his “top 5”, and promises a “guaranteed film” with a huge budget and “advance royalties” to the tune of “$400K – $2M”.

Just one thing is needed for all this to happen: a screenplay! Does the author have one on hand? If not (or if they do and it inevitably fails to meet Hollywood’s exacting standards), the Director is happy to provide a referral to a “movie investor” who will foot 70% of the cost of creating one….

(7) MEMORY LANE.

[By Cat Eldridge.] Rod Serling statue

And perhaps across his mind there will flit a little errant wish, that a man might not have to become old, never outgrow the parks and the merry-go-rounds of his youth. — ending words of “Walking Distance”

Not all statues, no matter how much they deserve to exist, actually exist. At least yet. Such it is with the creator of the Twilight Zone series, Rod Serling.

In doing this extended look at the statues of fantastic creatures, mythic beings and sometimes their creators, I continually come across quite fascinating stories. Such it is with this story. 

In the “Walking Distance” episode of The Twilight Zone, a middle-aged advertising executive travels back in time to his childhood, arriving just a few miles away from his native town. That episode was based on Binghamton, New York, the hometown of Serling as he graduated from Binghamton Central High School in 1943. 

Well, I came upon news stories that the town in conjunction with the Rod Serling Memorial Foundation and The State of New York had decided Serling should be honored by his hometown. 

The Serling Memorial Foundation said it will use the grant and additional fundraising to place the Serling statue in Recreation Park next year. Note that this is the second fundraising effort as the first, a Kickstarter for $90,000, failed. 

I can’t find any update on the actual production of this statue, so I won’t swear that it’s going to happen in the time frame stated. The website for the Serling Memorial Foundation is, to put delicately, a bloody mess and says nothing about that project at all.

For now, we can show this model that was prepared of the bronze statue. It is Serling standing in front of a slightly ajar doorway with the words: “You unlock this door with the key of imagination” on the door.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 27, 1917 Ken Slater. In 1947, while serving in the British Army, he started Operation Fantast, a network of fans which had eight hundred members around the world by the early Fifties though it folded a few years later. Through Operation Fantast, he was a major importer of American SFF books and magazines into the U.K. – an undertaking which he continued, after it ceased to exist, through his company Fantast up to the time of his passing.  He was a founding member of the British Science Fiction Association in 1958. (Died 2008.)
  • Born December 27, 1948 Gerard Depardieu, 74. He’s in Kenneth Branagh’s Hamlet which we all agree (I think we agree) is genre. He plays Obélix in the French film Asterix & Obélix and Asterix at the Olympic Games: Mission Cleopatra and is Cardinal Mazarin in La Femme Musketeer. 
  • Born December 27, 1951 Robbie Bourget, 71. She started out as an Ottawa-area fan, where she became involved in a local Who club and the OSFS before moving to LA and becoming deeply involved in LASFS. She’s been a key member of many a Worldcon and Who convention over the years. She was the co-DUFF winner with Marty Cantor for Aussiecon 2. She moved to London in the late Nineties.
  • Born December 27, 1960 Maryam d’Abo, 62. She’s best known as Kara Milovy in The Living Daylights. Her first genre role was her screen debut in the very low-budget SF horror film Xtro, an Alien rip-off. She was Ta’Ra in Something Is Out There, a miniseries that was well received and but got poor ratings. Did you know there was a live Mowgli: The New Adventures of the Jungle Book? I didn’t. She was Elaine Bendel, a recurring role in it. 
  • Born December 27, 1969 Sarah Jane Vowell, 53. She’s an author, journalist, essayist, historian, podcaster, social commentator and actress. Impressive, but she gets Birthday Honors for being the voice of Violet Parr in the Incredibles franchise. I say franchise as I’ve no doubt that a third film is already bring scripted.
  • Born December 27, 1977 Sinead Keenan, 45. She’s in the Eleventh Doctor story “The End of Time” as Addams, but her full face make-up guarantees that you won’t recognize her. If you want to see her, she’s a Who fan in The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot. Her final Who work is a Big Finish audio drama, Iterations of I, a Fifth Doctor story. And she played Nina Pickering, a werewolf, in Being Human for quite a long time.
  • Born December 27, 1987 Lily Cole, 35.  She played The Siren in the Eleventh Doctor story, “The Curse of The Black Spot”. She’s also in some obscure film called Star Wars: The Last Jedi as a character named Lovey. And she shows up in the important role of Valentina in The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. Not to mention she’s in Snow White and The Huntsman as Greta, a great film indeed.
  • Born December 27, 1995 Timothée Chalamet, 27. First SF role was as the young Tom Cooper in the well-received Interstellar. To date, his only other genre roles have been as Zac in One & Two and of course he’s Paul Atreides in Director Denis Villeneuve’s Dune films.

(9) JWST OR FULL NAME? The New York Times explains “How Naming the James Webb Telescope Turned Into a Fight Over Homophobia”.

The debate over the telescope cuts to the core of who is worthy to memorialize and how past human accomplishment should be balanced with modern standards of social justice.NASA

For half a decade now, influential young scientists have denounced NASA’s decision to name its deep-space telescope after James E. Webb, who led the space agency to the cusp of the 1969 moon landing. This man, they insisted, was a homophobe who oversaw a purge of gay employees.

Hakeem Oluseyi, who is now the president of the National Society of Black Physicists, was sympathetic to these critics. Then he delved into archives and talked to historians and wrote a carefully sourced essay in Medium in 2021 that laid out his surprising findings.

“I can say conclusively,” Dr. Oluseyi wrote, “that there is zero evidence that Webb is guilty of the allegations against him.”

That, he figured, would be that. He was wrong.

…Mr. Webb, who died in 1992, cut a complicated figure. He worked with Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson to integrate NASA, bringing in Black engineers and scientists. In 1964, after George Wallace, the white segregationist governor of Alabama, tried to block such recruitment, Mr. Webb threatened to pull top scientists and executives out of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville.

Fifteen years earlier, however, Mr. Webb encountered different pressures as an under secretary at the State Department during the Truman administration. The political right, led by Senator Joseph McCarthy, sought to dismantle the legacy of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. In attacking the State Department, they tried to ferret out employees they claimed were Communists and what they called “perverts” — gay Americans, in what became known as the lavender scare.

“The lavender scare, like the red scare itself, was an attack on the New Deal,” noted David K. Johnson, a history professor at the University of South Florida and author of “The Lavender Scare: The Cold War Persecution of Gays and Lesbians in the Federal Government.”

“Then,” he added, “it turned into a moral panic.”

These were bleak times. In two decades, between 5,000 and 10,000 gay employees were pushed out of government, careers and lives wrecked.

Secretary of State Dean Acheson denounced the “filthy business” of smearing diplomats. And President Harry Truman, records show, advised Mr. Webb to slow-walk the Republican investigation, while complying with its legal dictates. Mr. Webb did not turn over personnel files to Senate investigators, according to the NASA report.

In 2002, NASA named the telescope after Mr. Webb, citing his work in pushing to land a man on the moon. That decision attracted little attention, in part because the telescope was not yet built.

But as the telescope neared completion, criticism flared. In 2015, Matthew Francis, a science journalist, wrote an article for Forbes titled “The Problem With Naming Observatories for Bigots.” He wrote that Mr. Webb led the anti-gay purge at the State Department and that he had testified of his contempt for gay people. He credited Dr. Prescod-Weinstein with tipping him off, and she in turn tweeted his article and attacked Mr. Webb as a “homophobe.”

Those claims rested on misidentification and that portion of Mr. Francis’ article has been deleted without notice to the reader. Mr. Francis declined an interview.

As Dr. Oluseyi discovered and NASA’s report confirmed, it was not Mr. Webb but a different State Department official who oversaw the purge and spoke disparagingly of gay Americans….

(10) ORDER’S ASSASSIN SERIES CONTINUES. The Traitor by D.C. Gomez, Book Two of The Order’s Assassin Series, was released in November. Our favorite witch and former cop, Eric, from the Intern Diaries Series, has a new job with the Order of Witches. With no way out, he must continue his mission to clean out the Order, before he becomes the one hunted down.

Eric’s search for Rafael, the Order’s betrayer, is leading to a dead end. Running out of time, he decides to enlist the help of some old acquaintances in Salem’s underground.

In the meantime, the Garcia Clan, the deadliest of all the shifter assassin families in the world, has been attacked. Tensions are rising as Sasha is forced back on the field to investigate and bring the culprit to justice.

 With both the Order of Witches and the Garcia Clan searching for the truth, Eric and Sasha are the only ones standing between a full-on blood bath.

Available from Amazon.com and Amazon.ca.

D. C. Gomez is an award-winning USA Today Bestselling Author, podcaster, motivational speaker, and coach. Born in the Dominican Republic, she grew up in Salem, Massachusetts. D. C. studied film and television at New York University. After college she joined the US Army, and proudly served for four years.  You can find out more about her at www.dcgomez-author.com.

(11) WOULD YOU LIKE TO SWING ON A STAR.  Call it what you will, “The Webb Telescope Is Just Getting Started” says the New York Times.

So far it’s been eye candy from heaven: The black vastness of space teeming with enigmatic, unfathomably distant blobs of light. Ghostly portraits of Neptune, Jupiter and other neighbors we thought we knew already. Nebulas and galaxies made visible by the penetrating infrared eyes of the James Webb Space Telescope.

The telescope, named for James Webb, the NASA administrator during the buildup to the Apollo moon landings, is a joint project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency. It was launched on Christmas one year ago — after two trouble-plagued decades and $10 billion — on a mission to observe the universe in wavelengths no human eye can see. With a primary mirror 21 feet wide, the Webb is seven times as powerful as its predecessor, the Hubble Space Telescope. Depending on how you do the accounting, one hour of observing time on the telescope can cost NASA $19,000 or more.

But neither NASA nor the astronomers paid all that money and political capital just for pretty pictures — not that anyone is complaining.

“The first images were just the beginning,” said Nancy Levenson, temporary director of the Space Telescope Science Institute, which runs both Webb and the Hubble. “More is needed to turn them into real science.”

…For three days in December, some 200 astronomers filled an auditorium at the institute to hear and discuss the first results from the telescope. An additional 300 or so watched online, according to the organizers. The event served as a belated celebration of the Webb’s successful launch and inauguration and a preview of its bright future.

One by one, astronomers marched to the podium and, speaking rapidly to obey the 12-minute limit, blitzed through a cosmos of discoveries. Galaxies that, even in their relative youth, had already spawned supermassive black holes. Atmospheric studies of some of the seven rocky exoplanets orbiting Trappist 1, a red dwarf star that might harbor habitable planets. (Data suggest that at least two of the exoplanets lack the bulky primordial hydrogen atmospheres that would choke off life as we know it, but they may have skimpy atmospheres of denser molecules like water or carbon dioxide.)….

(12) VIDEO OF THE DAY. How It Should Have Ended gives its take about “How Star Wars: Obi-Wan Kenobi Should Have Ended”.

Obi-Wan and Darth Vader are face to face once again

[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, 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 Andrew (not Werdna).]

Pixel Scroll 12/5/22 I Am Not The Rest Of The Robots

(1) NOMINATIONS OPEN FOR 58TH NEBULA AWARDS. Full, Associate, and Senior members of SFWA are eligible to submit a nomination ballot for the Nebula Awards. Nominations may be cast online or by post. Ballots must be received by February 28, 2023 at 11:59 p.m. Pacific.

(2) CHECKING ON WOOSTER CASE. File 770 followed up with Virginia authorities about the WAVY report on the death of Martin Morse Wooster, “State Police ID suspect in York County hit-and-run”.  

Sergeant Michelle Anaya of the Virginia State Police replied, “In reference to your email…. An arrest has not been made, still under investigation.”

(3) ONE IS THE LONELIEST NUMBER. “Neil Gaiman, Margaret Atwood, and dozens of other famous authors shared stories of their worst book signing disasters to comfort an up-and-coming author” at Yahoo!

For debut author Chelsea Banning, an ill-attended book signing may have turned out to be a big break.

Banning, whose debut book is titled “Of Crowns and Legends” – a fantasy novel following two of King Arthur’s twins as war looms – vented on Twitter yesterday about her first-ever signing event. She shared that while 37 people had RSVP’d, only two showed up. “Kind of upset, honestly,” the Ohio-based librarian tweeted, “and a little embarrassed.”

It was a sentiment that resonated with writers of all sizes and genres, inspiring some of literature’s most prominent names – including Neil Gaiman, Jodi Picoult, Cheryl Strayed, and Margaret Atwood – to share their own humbling experiences of book signings gone awry.

“Terry Pratchett and I did a signing in Manhattan for ‘Good Omens’ that nobody came to at all,” wrote Gaiman. “So you are two up on us.”

“I have sat lonely at a signing table many times only to have someone approach…and ask me where the bathroom is,” added Picoult.

“Join the club,” said Atwood. “I did a signing to which nobody came, except a guy who wanted to buy some Scotch tape and thought I was the help.”…

(4) THEY’RE HISTORY. James Davis Nicoll extols “Five Cold War Classics in Which the U.S. Has Been Toppled” at Tor.com.

Some of you might find the concept of hostility between different modes of government (such as those of, say, the US and Russia) as outdated as Ottoman and Hapsburg rivalries. But back in the day, the Cold War was a source of inspiration to many SF authors. A number of authors speculated as to what would happen if the US government were subverted or overturned by conquest. Too bizarre to contemplate? Not so, as these five Cold War classics show.

First on his list is this most ingenious choice –

The Mouse That Roared by Leonard Wibberley (1955)

The Grand Duchy of Fenwick is an unlikely world power, being as it is a low-population, land-locked pocket kingdom whose meagre economy is dependent on the export of a single luxury product, Pinot Grand Fenwick. The Grand Duchy’s bold scheme depends on their weakness….

(5) RELEASE PARTY FOR APEX 2021. Space Cowboy Books will host an online interview with Apex Magazine editors Jason Sizemore and Lesley Conner on Tuesday, December 6, 2022, 6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. Pacific. Register for free here.

With stories by Alix E. Harrow, Sam J. Miller, Sheree Renée Thomas, Cassandra Khaw, and many more, Apex Magazine 2021 is a collection of darkly beautiful tales appearing originally in Apex Magazine January-December 2021. From a spaceship in the far-flung reaches of space to a cozy living room where a detective interviews a killer, this anthology explores the good and the ugly. It dissects what makes us human versus what makes us monsters.

Within these pages, you will meet a golem that doesn’t know how to save its family, a group of robots debating whether they are alive, and a woman striving for that social media-perfect life. From parasitic twins to a hospital dreamscape, to a town full of people wearing masks, this anthology will take you on journeys you never could have expected.

Come with us and discover the 48 surreal, strange, shocking, and beautiful stories in Apex Magazine 2021.

(6) YOUR AI CO-CREATOR. Andrew Mayne discusses the broader implications of “Collaborative Creative Writing with OpenAI’s ChatGPT”. Daniel Dern pundits, “This is what happens when ChatBots spend too much time playing Colossal Cave (aka ‘Adventure’).”

tl;dr: You can use OpenAI’s ChatGPT to bounce ideas around and write story outlines

Since I got into the field of AI and started working at OpenAI, it’s been interesting to see how things have accelerated. As an author, I’m frequently asked if AI will replace writers altogether. My personal take is that while AI may begin to do more creative writing and produce content on par with humans, it can never replace the fact that we often like what we like, not because of some objective measure, but because of the story of the person who wrote it. A lot of the things we like are because the person who created them is interesting. I like reading Stephen King books because they’re quite good and I find Stephen King fascinating. While an AI might be able to produce a song on the same level as Billie Eillish, it won’t have the same compelling personal journey as she does.

The future looks like it’s going to be a mixture of human and AI content. Some of it will be created by AI and where we care only about its objective value, some by humans where their personal narrative adds meaning and then content that’s collaboratively produced by creative humans and clever AI – which will mix together the best of both worlds….

(7) QUARK AND THE BARD. The Antaeus Theatre Company offers “Masterclass: Shakespeare’s Rhetoric with Armin Shimerman” on January 21 from 10:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Pacific. Are you not intrigued?

Join Armin Shimerman on January 21, 2023, as he delves into Shakespeare’s style and the different literary devices and strategies used in Shakespeare’s plays. Students will leave the two and a half hour Masterclass with a better understanding of England as Shakespeare knew it. This Masterclass is intended for actors, directors, students, theater-lovers, and anyone who has ever wanted to learn more about Shakespeare!

Armin Shimerman is a highly regarded actor and is best known to television audiences as Quark, on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Plus 80 different Guest Star roles, including Antaeus the Nox on Stargate, Principal Snyder on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Judge Hooper on Boston Legal. On Broadway: Threepenny Opera; St. Joan; I Remember Mama, and Broadway. Selected Regional Theater: King Lear (Fool), Road to Mecca (Marius),The Seafarer (Blind Irishman -San Diego Critics Circle Award for Best Actor: San Diego Repertory); Richard III, Love’s Labour’s Lost, Merry Wives of Windsor (San Diego Old Globe);Henry V (American Shakespeare Festival) and recently Polonius (Hamlet) and the Porter ( Macbeth) at the Utah Shakespeare festival. For Antaeus, he has taught, acted, and co-directed both the “Crucible” and last year’s production of “Measure for Measure. ”He is an adjunct professor at the University of Southern California (USC) where he teaches Shakespeare to Theater BFAs. In addition, he has two novels about the early days of William Shakespeare entitled “Illyria” published and currently on sale with a third due next year. He has given lectures on Shakespeare to thousands of people.

(8) STUFF AND BOOKS. Paul Wells wonders if he’s ready for “The Rideau Centre Indigo Store” which has superseded his familiar local bookstore.

…But how far does Ruis, who’s also said “the days of just browsing bookshelves are behind us,” plan to go? I realized my city would soon get a test case when this sign appeared, at the end of September, in a window of the old Chapters downtown Ottawa flagship store at Rideau and Sussex, now shuttered:

…This sign inspired the excited/doomed feel I’ve come to associate with life in the 21st century. Who wouldn’t want “a brand-new state of the art Indigo store” a stone’s throw from the office? I’m definitely in favour of “everything you love and more,” and I’m not, per se, against “lifestyle products and inspiring displays.” I’ve been spotted inside the odd Williams-Sonoma too, you know. The reference to “a curated assortment of books” did made me wonder. Did that mean, like, six books?

Last night I saw that the brand-new state of the art Indigo store at the Rideau Centre shopping mall, across from the old Chapters, is open. I popped in. Here’s what I found.

… Whew. I don’t know about you, but I’m a bit winded after seeing two displays of books in a bookstore. Fortunately, I came upon this oasis, the section where there’s paper without anything written on it….

(9) MEMORY LANE.

2002 [By Cat Eldridge.] Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden 

Today we are going Seussian. The Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden is a sculpture garden in Springfield, Massachusetts that honors Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known to the world as Dr. Seuss. Located at the Quadrangle, a group of cultural buildings in that city.

The Spring Seuss Organisation notes, “Opened in 2002, the Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden was first envisioned when Ted Geisel visited Springfield in 1986. After his death in 1991, his wife Audrey authorized the creation of the memorial and provided major support for the project. In 1996, Ted’s stepdaughter, noted sculptor Lark Grey Dimond-Cates, was selected to make over 30 bronze statues for the Museums’ grounds.”

I of course am going, with the indulgence of Mike, to show you all of them, as they are quite, well, Seussian. We have life-sized bronze statues of the Horton, Grinch and Max, Cat in the Hat, Yertle the Turtle, Thing 1 and Thing 2 and the Lorax—and the author himself. 

The first is Dr. Seuss and the Cat in the Hat, titled Dr. Seuss and the Cat in the Hat: The title character of The Cat in the Hat standing alongside Dr. Seuss at his desk.

The Storyteller: A chair placed in front of a 10-foot-tall book with the text of Oh, the Places You’ll Go!, the title character from Gertrude McFuzz, and beside it, the Grinch and his dog, Max.

This one is called Horton Court with Horton the Elephant from Horton Hears a Who! steps out of an open book accompanied by various ancillary characters from other Dr. Seuss stories, including Thing 1 and Thing 2 from The Cat in the Hat.

The Lorax: The title character from The Lorax stands on a tree stump with the book’s refrain: Unless… Unlike the rest of these, this statue is located in front of the Springfield Science Museum. 

And finally, Yertle the Turtle: a 10-foot-tall tower of turtles, from Yertle the Turtle, which introduces visitors to the Quadrangle from the arch on Chestnut Street. The troll from my previous post would be proud of these I think as I think they look like troll companions. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 5, 1890 — Fritz Lang. Metropolis of course, but also Woman in the Moon (German Frau im Mond) considered to be one of the first “serious” SF films. I saw Metropolis in one of those art cinemas in Seattle in the late Seventies. It’s most excellent I think. (Died 1976.)
  • Born December 5, 1901 — Walt Disney. With Ub Iwerks, he developed the character Mickey Mouse in 1928; he also provided the voice for his creation in the early years. During Disney’s lifetime his studio produced features such as Snow White and the Seven DwarfsPinocchioFantasiaDumbo, and BambiCinderella and Mary Poppins, the latter of which received five Academy Awards. In 1955 he opened Disneyland. In the Fifties he also launched television programs, such as Walt Disney’s Disneyland and The Mickey Mouse Club. In 1965, he began development of another theme park, Disney World, and the “Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow” (EPCOT).  I’ll pick Fantasia as my favorite film that he’s responsible for though I’m also very fond of Cinderella and Mary Poppins. (Died 1966.)
  • Born December 5, 1921 — Alvy Moore. He shows up first in a genre role uncredited as Zippy in The War of the Worlds. (He was also uncredited in The Girls of Pleasure Island that same year.) He’s again uncredited, as a scientist this time, in The Invisible Boy (aka S.O.S Spaceship) and The Gnome-Mobile saw his continue that streak as a Gas Mechanic. The Brotherhood of Satan saw him get a credit role as did The Witchmaker, both all budget horror films. He’s listed as having co-written and produced, along with LQ Jones, A Boy and His Dog, the Ellison originated film. (Died 1997.)
  • Born December 5, 1951 — Susan Palermo-PiscatelloSF Site in its obit said that she was “was active in fandom in the early 1970s, taking pictures that appeared in The Monster Times and working for the company that brought Japanese monster films, including Battle for the Planets and Time of the Apes to the US. She was among the first bartenders at CBGB and was in the band Cheap Perfume. She had recently returned to fandom after several years of gafiation.” (Died 2011.)
  • Born December 5, 1951 — Betsy Wollheim, 71. President, co-Publisher and co-Editor-in-Chief of DAW Books. Winner, along with her co-Publisher and co-Editor-in-Chief Sheila E. Gilbert, of a Hugo Award  at Chicon 7 for Long Form Editing. In the early Nineties, they won two Chesley Awards for best art direction.
  • Born December 5, 1961 — Nicholas Jainschigg, 61. Teacher, Artist and Illustrator. He began his career by doing covers and interior art for Asimov’s and Analog magazines, then progressed to covers for books and other magazines, eventually providing art for Wizards of the Coast gaming materials and for Marvel and DC Comics. As an Associate Professor for the Rhode Island School of Design, his private work these days is mainly in animations, interactive illustration, painting in oils, and paleontological reconstructions in murals and dioramas.
  • Born December 5, 1973 — Christine Stephen-Daly, 49. Her unpleasant fate as Lt. Teeg on Farscape literally at the hands of her commanding officer Crais was proof if you still need it that this series wasn’t afraid to push boundaries of such things of cringe-causing violence. She was also Miss Meyers in the two part “Sky” story on The Sarah Jane Adventures

(11) LANGUAGE TRUE OR FALSE. Would you say these verb choices are consistent American English idioms? When telling about a movie — “I saw The Fabelmans”. But about a TV show – “I watched Saturday Night Live”.  Saw a movie versus watched something on TV.

(12) COLD AS MICE. Are we getting close to the point where something like human hibernation could make space travel easier? WIRED presents “The Hibernator’s Guide to the Galaxy”.

One day in 1992, near the northern pole of a planet hurtling around the Milky Way at roughly 500,000 miles per hour, Kelly Drew was busy examining some salmon brains in a lab. Her concentration was broken when Brian Barnes, a zoophysiology professor from down the hall at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, popped by her bench for a visit. With a mischievous grin, he asked Drew—a neuropharmacologist early in her career—to hold out her hands and prepare for a surprise. A moment later, she felt a hard, furry lump deposited in her palms. It was some sort of brown rodent with dagger-like claws, curled up into a tight ball and so cold to the touch that Drew assumed it was dead. To her astonishment, Barnes gleefully explained that it was actually in perfect health.

An Arctic ground squirrel—the most extreme hibernator on the planet—can spend up to eight months a year in a torpid state.

The creature, an Arctic ground squirrel, was just hibernating, as it does for up to eight months of the year. During that span, the animal’s internal temperature falls to below 27 degrees Fahrenheit, literally as cold as ice. Its brain waves become so faint that they’re nearly impossible to detect, and its heart beats as little as once per minute. Yet the squirrel remains very much alive. And when spring comes, it can elevate its temperature back to 98.6 degrees in a couple of hours.

Drew cradled the unresponsive critter in her hands, unable to detect even the faintest signs of life. What’s going on inside this animal’s brain that allows it to survive like this? she wondered. And with that question, she began to burrow into a mystery that would carry her decades into the future….

(13) SFWA INDIE AUTHOR TOWN HALL. SFWA’s Independent Authors Committee held a town hall on November 10. Video of the event is now online.

Kelly McClymer and John Wilker, members of the SFWA Independent Authors Committee, were joined by Emily Mah, SFWA Editorial Director, to take the temperature of the attending indie author community on hurdles they deal with regarding online retailers. The feedback provided during this town hall will be used by the committee to help direct future advocacy work for SFF independent authors.

(14) PRESENT SHORTLY AFTER THE CREATION. From Library of America, “Story of the Week: Eve’s Diary” by Mark Twain, first published in 1905.

…For I do love moons, they are so pretty and so romantic. I wish we had five or six; I would never go to bed; I should never get tired lying on the moss-bank and looking up at them.

Stars are good, too. I wish I could get some to put in my hair. But I suppose I never can. You would be surprised to find how far off they are, for they do not look it. When they first showed, last night, I tried to knock some down with a pole, but it didn’t reach, which astonished me; then I tried clods till I was all tired out, but I never got one. It was because I am left-handed and cannot throw good. Even when I aimed at the one I wasn’t after I couldn’t hit the other one, though I did make some close shots, for I saw the black blot of the clod sail right into the midst of the golden clusters forty or fifty times, just barely missing them, and if I could have held out a little longer maybe I could have got one….

(15) HAILING FREQUENCY. “’Are we alone in the universe?’: work begins in Western Australia on world’s most powerful radio telescopes” reports the Guardian.

Construction of the world’s largest radio astronomy observatory, the Square Kilometre Array, has officially begun in Australia after three decades in development.

A huge intergovernmental effort, the SKA has been hailed as one of the biggest scientific projects of this century. It will enable scientists to look back to early in the history of the universe when the first stars and galaxies were formed. It will also be used to investigate dark energy and why the universe is expanding, and to potentially search for extraterrestrial life.

The SKA will initially involve two telescope arrays – one on Wajarri country in remote Western Australia, called SKA-Low, comprising 131,072 tree-like antennas.

SKA-Low is so named for its sensitivity to low-frequency radio signals. It will be eight times as sensitive than existing comparable telescopes and will map the sky 135 times faster.

A second array of 197 traditional dishes, SKA-Mid, will be built in South Africa’s Karoo region….

(16) VERTICAL TAKEOFF. Has somebody been watching too many Marvel movies? “Flying Aircraft Carrier: The U.S. Navy’s Next Game Changer?” at MSN.com. Perhaps not. As you’ll discover when you read the article, the author doesn’t really think they’re feasible at all. Still, it’s an entertaining thought experiment with lots of lovely photos of aircraft carriers if that kind of thing floats your boat.

…. Let’s simply assume a flying aircraft carrier could be built. Would such a platform actually serve any purpose? First, it would be extremely dangerous. Even if it weren’t nuclear-powered, it is doubtful most nations would want it to fly overhead. A vessel the size of even a light carrier crashing down on a population center would result in the deaths of tens and even hundreds of thousands of people. Moreover, it would require not only the aforementioned purpose-built construction facility but specialized bases able to accommodate it. It is doubtful even if it were nuclear powered that it could remain aloft indefinitely so there would need to be special landing strips and the ground infrastructure to support/reequip it….

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Fandom Games brutally begins “Honest Game Trailers: Marvel Snap” — “If you’re too dumb for Magic the Gathering too good for Hearthstone and not insane enough for Yu-Gi-Oh now there’s a collectible card game for you.”

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

Robin McKinley Named the 39th SFWA Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association (SFWA) today announced that Robin McKinley has been named the 39th Damon Knight Grand Master for her contributions to the literature of science fiction and fantasy.

The SFWA Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award recognizes “lifetime achievement in science fiction and/or fantasy.” It is named after author Damon Knight, SFWA’s founder and the organization’s 13th Grand Master. McKinley joins 38 writers who’ve been granted the title. 

Robin McKinley is one of the leading writers of the modern fairy-tale retelling genre, and indeed, her debut Beauty, a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, could be said to have started the fairy-tale retelling trend. She is also celebrated for her original fantasy novels. Her 1982 book The Blue Sword received the Newbery Honor, and its 1984 prequel The Hero and the Crown was awarded the Newbery Medal. School Library Journal said, “Her work has impacted not just the Newbery canon, but the fantasy genre, too.” Her 1985 anthology Imaginary Lands won the World Fantasy Award, and Water, the 2002 collection she co-wrote with Peter Dickinson, was later nominated as well.  

Sunshine (2003), a dark sensual vampire fairy tale that Neil Gaiman called “A gripping, funny, page-turning, pretty much perfect work of magical literature,” won the Mythopoeic Award for Adult Literature and was named to NPR’s “Top 100 Science-Fiction Fantasy Books” list and Tor.com’s list of “Best SFF Novels of the Decade.” Spindle’s End, McKinley’s Sleeping Beauty retelling, was named to Time Magazine’s “100 Best Fantasy Books of All Time” in 2020.   

For her full bibliography, including multiple additional award nominations, and McKinley’s biography in her own words, please visit the SFWA website.

“I read McKinley’s Deerskin in my late-twenties and it turned my world upside-down,” says SFWA President Jeffe Kennedy. “From there I went on to read everything McKinley has written. With every story, each book, she haunts, delights, and enlightens me. Naming an author who’s been such a profound influence on me as both a reader and a writer as SFWA’s newest Grand Master is one of the greatest privileges of my life.” 

On being named a SFWA Grand Master, McKinley shares, “I am astonished, amazed, delighted & dumbfounded. Thank you very much.”

The 39th Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master award will be presented to McKinley at the 58th Nebula Awards ceremony, which will take place during the annual SFWA Nebula Conference. Further details about next year’s conference will be released soon.

ROBIN MCKINLEY BIOGRAPHY

Robin McKinley usually says she’s from Maine because it’s simpler. That’s where her family settled after her father retired from the Navy. When she left to go to college she was never, ever coming back. She spent years in Boston and New York City and remains very fond of both cities. But she found herself inexplicably buying a little house in Maine and came to the astonished conclusion that she was settling down there.

Which is when Peter Dickinson happened, because that’s how these things go. He had this complicated idea about a transatlantic commute, which she knew both of them would hate. She’d grown up moving on every year or two, she still knew how to do it. Also, she’d fallen in love with Peter’s big English garden almost as hard as she’d fallen in love with him. She said, I’ll emigrate, but you have to marry me. So that’s what they did. She planted a lot of roses in that garden.

She spent nearly 30 years in Hampshire, but after Peter died it felt less and less like home. When she’d emigrated, their area was still mostly countryside and little towns, but it had been relentlessly turning into a posh London suburb. She was moaning to one of her stepsons about this and he said, here’s a mad idea, why don’t you move up here?

Here being Scotland.

She now lives on the top of a hill overlooking a small Scottish town to the ocean. Thanks to the patient stepson and his wife, who hauled her up here and installed her in their spare room while she found and renovated her new house. This was rather more of an adventure than expected. The wiring, for example, dated from the 1950s. But when they tore out the 60-year-old fitted carpet, there was the original Victorian wood and tile flooring, and behind the plasterboard most of the original hearths were still there too. We will pass swiftly over the interesting experience of moving in before there was either a working kitchen or bathroom. Also the Flying Piano—I’m not joking about the hill—when all 96 tons of my gear came up from storage in Hampshire, and had to be hoicked in somehow.

And then, of course, there was COVID.

Scotland was one of my better ideas. And it’s funny, because it’s also a kind of full circle. My first bio for Greenwillow Books, years and years and years ago, said that I wanted to live in a castle in Scotland. I was very young then and didn’t realise how uncomfortable Scottish castles are. This is a standard double-fronted Scottish Victorian house and very comfortable indeed. Especially with Genghis, my German wire-haired pointer (GWHP) keeping my back warm as I sit at my computer. My last dog died during the first, worst lockdown and it was more awful than I can tell you. Approximately the last breed in the world that I wanted anything to do with was a GWHP—they’re 90-mph perpetual-motion machines and have an insane prey drive—but he needed a home and I needed a dog. Two years later and you diss GWHPs at your peril. Actually, not, I will fall down laughing and agree with whatever you say.

I’m also finally working again. I hope to have a final -ish draft of a new book somewhat thrashed into shape maybe by the end of this year? Maybe? I am wildly, inexpressibly glad to be writing again. And I’m planting roses in my new garden. But I still miss Peter.

[Based on a press release.]

Pixel Scroll 11/20/22 The Emergency Holo-Scrollo

(1) GREG BEAR APPRECIATIONS. GeekWire’s Alan Boyle has a tribute to the famed sff writer who died yesterday: “Greg Bear, 1951-2022: Writer influenced the science fiction world”.

…Bear, who moved to the Seattle area in 1987, also had an impact on his adopted home. He was a member of the team that created and organized the Washington State Centennial Time Capsule. And GeekWire contributor Frank Catalano recalls introducing Bear to the late software billionaire Paul Allen — a contact that helped lead to the creation of the Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame, now part of Seattle’s Museum of Pop Culture.

The accolades streaming in from friends and admirers stressed the personal as well as the public contributions made by Bear over the decades. “Greg the man was a friend,” fellow science-fiction icon Harry Turtledove tweeted. “Greg the writer was quite remarkable.”…

Boyle draws on Frank Catalano’s 2017 interview with Greg Bear, also at GeekWire, where it is available as a podcast with an accompanying article, “Science fiction has won the war: Best-selling author Greg Bear on the genre’s new ‘golden age’”.

…As a “hard” science fiction writer who does extensive research, Bear has dived into everything from nanotechnology (his 1983 novel Blood Music is credited by some as being its first use in science fiction) to planetary science. A current fascination, in part because it’s a key setting in the War Dogs trilogy, is Titan. “It’s got a hazy orange layer,” he explained. “It’s full of plastics, and waxes, and organic chemistry. Then, it turns out, it’s actually got a water ocean underneath.”

But the hard science fiction reputation can mask the fact that Bear has also written — successfully — novels that are fantasy, horror, and near-future techno thrillers. “I find the idea, and then I try to find the story that fits it,” he said. “Some of these ideas are coming up so fast that you can’t write about them as far-future ideas.”…

The SFWA Blog’s“In Memoriam – Greg Bear” notes he was a past President, and quotes from a selection of several other Presidents.

…Current SFWA President Jeffe Kennedy remarked, “When I took over as a newbie President of SFWA, Past-President Greg Bear was unfailingly gracious to and supportive of me. I loved his work and admired him as an author, so to discover what a truly kind person he was meant so much. He will be greatly missed by SFWA and the larger community.”

Former SFWA Presidents also wished to pay their respects to their colleague and friend as such:

“There are few people in my life from whom I learned so much, and was so fortunate to have known, than Greg Bear.” – Paul Levinson

“Whether or not he was one of the greatest novelists of speculative fiction may be questionable for the ages to argue but a Prince of SF he surely was. From the beginning to the end, he was a sincere literary artist, scientifically learned, a speculative visionary, if not the king of that which has no king, surely a prince seated at the SF table.” – Norman Spinrad

“Greg Bear and I were friends for thirty years. What I loved about his work was that it freely embraced the entire scope science fiction has to offer: from the far future (Anvil of Stars), through the present day (Quantico), to cavorting with creatures we know only from the distant past (Dinosaur Summer), he took us on a grand tour of his boundless imagination.” – Robert Sawyer

“Greg was my vice president, unflappable, always supportive, funny, endearing, and smart. Heart-breaking he is leaving us so soon.” – Jane Yolen

(2) GREG BEAR PHOTOS. From throughout his career, taken by and © Andrew Porter.

(3) BUTLER’S PRESCIENCE. The New York Times explains how “Octavia Butler’s Science Fiction Predicted the World We Live In”.

Sixteen years after her death, the writer Octavia Butler is experiencing a renaissance.

Butler, seen here on a mural at a middle school that bears her name, is celebrated for novels that grappled with extremism, racial justice and the climate crisis.

The future she wrote about is now our present moment. What follows is a tour of the worlds that made her — and the worlds that she made.

She wrote 12 novels and won each of science fiction’s highest honors. In 1995, she became the first science fiction writer to be awarded a MacArthur “genius” grant. The MacArthur Foundation said of Octavia E. Butler, “Her imaginative stories are transcendent fables, which have as much to do with the future as with the present and the past.”

Part of what has made Butler so beloved is the work that preceded these honors: the way she envisioned her own future and encouraged herself to keep going despite the very real obstacles in her path. She recorded her goals and aspirations in her personal journals in terms that have since resonated across the decades:

I will buy a beautiful home in an excellent neighborhood.

I will help poor Black youngsters broaden their horizons.

I will travel whenever and wherever in the world that I choose.

My books will be read by millions of people!

So be it! See to it!…

(4) RAY NELSON UPDATE. From Ray Faraday Nelson’s Facebook page:

Deteriorating health has made it necessary to move Ray to a nursing home. Ray loves to receive letters and if you would like to let him know how much you enjoyed his work, now would be a good time (and soon). Send to Ray Nelson, c/o Walter Nelson, PO Box 370904 Reseda CA 91337

In his cartoons Nelson popularized the association fans with propeller beanies, and he was honored with the Rotsler Award in 2003.

(5) PITTSBURGH FANDOM BACK IN THE DAY. Fanac.org’s next FanHistory Project Zoom Session is “Fannish Life in 1970s Pittsburgh, with Ginjer Buchanan, Linda Bushyager, Suzanne Tompkins, and Laurie Mann”.  It will take place Saturday December 10, 2022 at 4:00 p.m. Eastern.

Pittsburgh in the late 60s/70s saw an explosion of fannish activity, with the founding of the Western Pennsylvania SF Association (WPSFA), the creation of PghLANGE and the publication of many fanzines, including Granfalloon (Linda Bushyager and Suzanne Tompkins). What made Pittsburgh special? Why the resurgence of fannish activity? Who were the driving forces? In this session, Ginjer Buchanan, Linda Bushyager and Suzanne Tompkins, three of the movers and shakers of 1970s Pittsburgh fandom, talk about that era. Our Moderator Laurie Mann is a current Pittsburgh fan as well as a fan historian.

(6) SOME PREFER PIRACY. “The FBI closed the book on Z-Library, and readers and authors clashed” reports the Washington Post.

The FBI’s takedown of Z-Library, one of the world’s largest repositories of pirated books and academic papers, this month set ablaze the subset of TikTok devoted to discussing books and authors, said Lexi Hardesty, a BookTok content creator.

“I have never seen authors and readers go head-to-head the way they did that week,” said Hardesty, a student at the University of Kentucky.

Readers were mourning that their ability to download free textbooks, novels and academic papers had disappeared overnight. Some BookTokers compared the shutdown of the website to the mythical burning of the library of Alexandria in 48 B.C., Hardesty said. “Some even said that shutting it down was an extension of slavery.”

Yet authors across BookTok were relieved. “Piracy costs us our sales, specifically for marginalized authors; it adversely impacts public libraries; and it hurts the publishing industry,” said Nisha Sharma, an author and BookToker. “Essentially when you mourn Z-Library, you are mourning the end of theft.”…

(7) MEMORY LANE.

1995 [By Cat Eldridge.] Deep Space Nine‘s “The Sword Of Kahless”

“Did you see the look on the face of that Klingon that I killed? It was as if he understood the honor bestowed upon him. The first man in a thousand years to be killed by the Sword of Kahless.” — Kor

“I’m sure he was very proud.”  – Dax

On this evening twenty-seven years ago in syndication, Deep Space Nine‘s “The Sword Of Kahless” was brought to us for our enjoyment. 

The story was created by Richard Danus and was turned into a script by Hans Beimler. 

The episode was directed by LeVar Burton. It features the return of John Colicos as Kor. Colicos had first appeared as Kor, the very first Klingon in all of Trek, in Trek’s “Errand of Mercy” and had previously appeared in this series in the episode “Blood Oath”. 

GO GET YOURSELF A CUP OF WARM KLINGON BLOODWINE AS SPOILERS LIKE BLOOD OFF A BATLEFF FOLLOW NOW.

Kor has returned to the Deep Space Nine to get the help of Worf and  Dax to help to find the ancient Sword of Kahless. It was the very first bat’leth forged by the founder of the Klingon Empire, Kahless the Unforgettable. After they find the sword, they are forced to evade the forces of Toral, son of Duras, and Worf and Kor starting fighting to the death.

Worf and Kor realize that the Sword is partially sentient and has turned them against each other, and will lead to the end of the Empire. 

Worf ponders if they really were meant to find it; Kor firmly asserts that they were, but notes that they were also not meant to keep it. So they teleport the sword into space where hopefully it will stay forever. 

IF YOU HAVE DRANK ENOUGH OF THAT WINE, COME ON BACK BY THE WARMING FIRE. 

The sword itself was created specifically for the episode, and was made to seem more elaborate than the bat’leths previously seen in Trek, including hand etchings to make it appear similar to Damascus steel. 

This episode was somewhat unpopular with many viewers when it first aired, something which disappointed writer Hans Beimler and producer René Echevarria. What particularly disappointed them was the fact that many viewers were unable to accept the notion that the bat’leth itself had no actual power. According to Echevarria, “A lot of fan reaction was that there must be a tech explanation, that the sword must be emitting something. I was astonished.” — Star Trek: Deep Space Nine — The Office Poster Magazin

Michelle Erica Green, who watched the episode in April 2013 for TrekNation, thought that it was not a typical Deep Space Nine episode and that it required that the viewer had knowledge of Worf’s history from the Next Generation. It rated slightly off the “Little Green Men” episode that preceded it and the “Our Man Bashir” that followed it.

It of course is streaming at Paramount +. 

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 20, 1923 Nadine Gordimer. South African writer and political activist. Her one genre novel was July’s People which was banned in her native country under both governments. Her three stories are collected in Beethoven Was One-Sixteenth Black and Other Stories. She received the Nobel Prize in Literature, recognized as a writer “who through her magnificent epic writing has been of very great benefit to humanity”.  (Died 2014.)
  • Born November 20, 1923 Len Moffatt. He was a member of First Fandom. Len and his second wife June helped organize many of the early Bouchercons for which they received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Bouchercon staff. He was a member of LASFS. He wrote far too many zines to list here. Mike has an excellent look at his memorial here. (Died 2010.)
  • Born November 20, 1929 Jerry Hardin. Actor famous for his character roles, whom genre fans know as the informant Deep Throat in The X-Files, or perhaps as Samuel Clemens in the Star Trek: The Next Generation double episode “Times’s Arrow”. Other TV series guest appearances include Star Trek: Voyager, Sliders, Brimstone, Time Trax, Lois & Clark, Quantum Leap, Dark Justice, Starman, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The (new) Twilight Zone, and The Incredible Hulk, and he had roles in Big Trouble in Little China and Doomsday Virus (aka Pandora’s Clock). (Died 1993.)
  • Born November 20, 1926 John Edmund Gardner. No, not the one that wrote that Grendel novel, but the who was actually an English spy and a novelist who is remembered for his James Bond novels of which he wrote, according to critics, way too many as they though they were silly, but also for his Boysie Oakes spy novels and three novels containing featuring Professor Moriarty that are most tasty. (Died 2007.)
  • Born November 20, 1932 Richard Dawson. Usually one appearance in a genre film or show isn’t enough to make the Birthday list but he was Damon Killian on The Running Man, a juicy enough role to ensure making this list. Twenty years earlier he was Joey on Munster, Go Home! He’d voice Long John Silver on an animated Treasure Island film in the Seventies. And he had a one-off on the classic Fantasy Island as well. (Died 2012.)
  • Born November 20, 1944 Molly Gloss, 78.  What a lovely name she has! Her novel Wild Life won the 2000 James Tiptree, Jr. Award. She has two more SF novels, The Dazzle of Day and Outside the Gates. Her “Lambing season” short story was nominated for a Hugo at Torcon 3, and “The Grinnell Method” won a Sturgeon. 
  • Born November 20, 1956 Bo Derek, 66. She makes the Birthday list for being Jane Parker in Tarzan, the Ape Man. There’s also Ghosts Can’t Do It and Horror 101 as well as the two Sharknado films she did. A friend of Ray Bradbury, she was the presenter when Kirk Douglas received the 2012 Ray Bradbury Creativity Award.
  • Born November 20, 1963 Ming-Na Wen, 59. Actor born in Macau who appeared as Agent Melinda May in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. She was raised near Pittsburgh, PA and graduated from Carnegie Mellon University. She has also had main roles in the series Stargate Universe and the short-lived Vanished, and a recurring role in Eureka. Her breakthrough genre role was providing the voice for Disney’s Mulan, for which she won an Annie Award (awards which recognize voice actors in animated productions). This led to a lengthy career providing voices for animated features and series, including Spawn, The Batman, Adventure Time with Finn & Jake, Phineas and Ferb, Robot Chicken, and Guardians of the Galaxy, as well as a plethora of Mulan spinoffs, offshoots, tie-ins, and video games. Other genre appearances include the films The Darkness, Starquest (aka Terminal Voyage), Tempting Fate, and Rain Without Thunder.

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • Non Sequitur shows a space probe confirming what you already suspected.  

(10) UNDENIABLE TREND. In July Price Charting did a scientific analysis and confirmed there’s been a “300% Increase in Boob Size on Comic Book Cover Art” since 1940. [Via Carol Pinchefsky on Facebook.]

…Comparing modern day (2010+) to the early comics (1940-60), we observe from the green trendlines:

  • Busts occupy more than triple the cover space today
  • The amount of cleavage shown has more than doubled (cleavage of greater than 50% was not observed until the 1970s at which point it became relatively common)
  • Women actually did “fill out” in the waist over time (hip:waist ratio declined by ~15%)
  • Breast:Waist ratio has remained the same – as breasts have grown, so have waists

(11) THE COLD NOSE EQUATIONS. Space.com observes “Spacesuited Snoopy doll floats in zero-g on moon-bound Artemis 1 mission”. Photo at the link.

… The white-spotted dog, who became “the first beagle on the moon” in a series of Peanuts comic strips in 1969, is now on his way back to the moon aboard NASA’s Artemis 1 mission(opens in new tab). Snoopy, in the form of a small doll dressed in a one-of-a-kind replica of NASA’s pressure suit for Artemis astronauts, is the “zero-g indicator,” or ZGI, on board the space agency’s now lunar-orbit-bound Orion spacecraft.

“Oh, I’m sorry, Snoopy. They had to put you on a leash because you’re hanging in the Orion capsule right now,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said during an August photo op with the beagle (in this case, a costume character(opens in new tab), also wearing the bright orange spacesuit). “Snoopy was the last person to be put in Orion when they closed the hatch.”

Snoopy’s leash, or tether, was to keep the doll in view of a camera inside Orion’s cabin. Traditionally, zero-g indicators have been flown on crewed spacecraft as a visual sign for the astronauts that they have reached orbit. The Artemis 1 Orion is flying without a crew — other than Snoopy, four LEGO minifigures(opens in new tab), Shaun the Sheep(opens in new tab) and three instrumented manikins(opens in new tab) — so the doll was flown for the benefit of the public watching the launch on NASA’s television channel or website….

(12) TO CLICK OR NOT TO CLICK. “Ancient Apocalypse on Netflix: Is Graham Hancock’s theory true?” asks Slate.

… Graham Hancock, the journalist who hosts the series, returns again and again to his anger at this state of affairs and his status as an outsider to “mainstream archaeology,” his assessment of how terrible “mainstream archaeology” is about accepting new theories, and his insistence that there’s all this evidence out there but “mainstream archaeologists” just won’t look for it. His bitter disposition, I’m sure, accounts for some of the interest in this show. Hancock, a fascinating figure with an interesting past as a left-leaning foreign correspondent, has for decades been elaborating variations on this thinking: Humans, as he says in the docuseries, have “amnesia” about our past. An “advanced” society that existed around 12,000 years ago was extinguished when the climate changed drastically in a period scientists call the Younger Dryas. Before dying out completely, this civilization sent out emissaries to the corners of the world, spreading knowledge, including building techniques that can be found in use at many ancient sites, and sparking the creation of mythologies that are oddly similar the world over. It’s important for us to think about this history, Hancock adds, because we also face impending cataclysm. It is a warning….

However, the last half of Slate’s article is devoted to an interview with archaeologist John Hoopes about why no credence should be placed in Hancock’s theories.

(13) ALL WASHED UP. “Why did the Redshirts always die on ‘Star Trek’? It had to do with doing laundry”, or so claims MeTV.

…So a fast decision was made to change the shrinking fabric. Since the velour was causing so much grief, they had to do something with all those extra shirts. Waste was not going to happen on such a tight budget….

[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Jennifer Hawthorne, Frank Catalano, Daniel Dern, Chris Barkley, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kendall.]

Pixel Scroll 11/15/22 One Scroll, Furnished In Early Pixelry

(1) LOCUS OPENS CROWDFUNDING APPEAL. At Tor.com LP Kindred declares “Locus Magazine Is Essential to the SFF Community” which is why you should support its Indiegogo appeal. Donors have responded by giving $17,064 of the $75,000 flexible goal on the first day.

… After 54 years of speculative fiction journalism, we are in danger of losing Locus Magazine. With the rising costs of physical publishing, the mass exodus toward digital, and the rising costs of living, the margins at Locus narrow from month to month. And if no one takes action, we could lose this resource in less than a year.

Contributing reviewers return to publishing reviews for free. The six full-time staff members lose their salaries and benefits. Our community loses the Locus Awards and the honor of the Recommended Reading List. We lose a breadth of speculative journalism including short story and book reviews, spotlights, interviews, acquisition announcements, cover reveals, press releases, articles, essays for, by, and about people in speculative fiction.

I won’t pretend I had a Locus subscription when I got this news. To the contrary, I thought I had time. I thought that was something you acquired when you were farther along in your career. But it’s become clear that if we don’t start contributing to speculative fiction institutions, they might not be here when we think we’re ready for them and they definitely won’t be around for the generations of writers behind mine.

The brass at Locus is dreaming up new ways to be of service to the community at the same time that it’s searching for ways to sustain. By the time you’re reading this, the Indiegogo campaign will be live. There’s a subscription drive in the offing as well as an auction.

In the same way that readership and fundraising are the lifeblood of so many magazines we aspire to and love to read as fiction readers and writers, this journalistic institution needs you and I to help it keep its pages open. It is an archive of science fiction past and present, and Locus needs us to help it carry us into the future.

(2) BACK TO THE FUTURE. Martin Wisse says he is ready to march “Into the glorious future of blogging made possible by Elon Musk – Wis[s]e Words (cloggie.org) at Wis[s]e Words.

Due to the glorious future Twitter is being dragged kicking and screaming into thanks to the inspired leadership of Elon Musk, suupergenius, UI thought it was time to give the ol’ blog a bit of attention again. Not that I haven’t been blogging semi-regularly, but whereas a decade ago I’d hit a post a day fairly regularly, the past couple of years I’ve lucky to get into double digits in a given month. Mostly focused on anime too, as for political and other writing Twitter was just too handy. But if Twitter is going away, will blogs make a comeback?…

(3) SFWA STORYBUNDLE. The SFWA Magical Mysteries StoryBundle of novels with characters that ask “What Am I Doing Here?” is available for through November 30.

The Magical Mysteries StoryBundle features ten fantasy books that have protagonists shaking their heads and wondering how the heck they got into this, whether “this” is discovering a dragon in a coal mine or that they’ve found themselves in a nightmarish game of chess. Join us for tales of burgeoning magic, portal fantasies, strange creatures and … you guessed it: characters who have no idea what’s going on.   

SFWA StoryBundles are collections of ebooks curated by the SFWA Indie Authors Committee and offered at a discounted price. Readers decide what price they want to pay. For $5 (or more, if they’re feeling generous), they get the core bundle of four books in any ebook format available—WORLDWIDE! 

  • The Dragon’s Playlist by Laura Bickle
  • Jester by Geoff Hart
  • Dragon Dreams by Chris A. Jackson
  • Ritual of the Ancients by Roan Rosser

If they pay at least $20, they get all four of the core books, plus six more books, for a total of ten! 

  • The Sister Paradox by Jack Campbell
  • Sorrow and Joy by D.R. Perry
  • Revise The World by Brenda W. Clough
  • The Year’s Midnight by Rachel Neumeier
  • Pawn’s Gambit by Darin Kennedy
  • Spindled by Shanna Swendson

Readers will gain a rich library of fantasy ebooks and can opt to donate part of their purchase price to support SFWA’s ongoing work to promote and support speculative fiction genres and writers. 

(4) SKEPTICISM. The Guardian’s Ismene Ormonde asks “Inspirational passion or paid-for promotion: can BookTok be taken on face value?”

BookTok, the nickname for TikTok videos in which books are discussed, analysed, cried about and turned into “aesthetic” moodboards, began as a small group of the app’s users who wanted a place to talk about books. It has since grown into a hugely influential community that has the power to pluck authors out of relative obscurity and propel them into the bestsellers charts.

Earlier this month it was named FutureBook Person of the Year, an accolade which recognises digital innovation and excellence across the book trade. According to James Stafford, Head of Partnerships and Community at TikTok, BookTok is a community of “creative people around the world with a shared passion for literature”. Publishers, creators and writers have generally agreed that this corner of the platform has had an overwhelmingly positive effect, having led to huge increases in book sales and the discovery of new writers. The Bookseller even recently called it “the last safe place on the internet”….

(5) IMAGINARY PAPERS. The ASU Center for Science and the Imagination has published the latest issue of Imaginary Papers, their quarterly newsletter on science fiction worldbuilding, futures thinking, and imagination.

The issue features an essay by the artist, researcher, and critic Zoyander Street on the 2017 BBC utopian film Carnage, and another on Adolfo Bioy Casares’ 1940 novel The Invention of Morel, by writer, podcaster, and lawyer Jason Tashea, who works on the future of criminal justice. There’s also a brief writeup of Vice Motherboard’s anthology Terraform: Watch/Worlds/Burn.

Carnage (2017)

The year is 2067. A diverse polycule of androgynous young people, wearing what appears to be glittering eye makeup, walk hand in hand through a sunny field, glass pyramids shining on the horizon. Comedian Simon Amstell narrates: “Though we rarely think about it, Britain is now raising the most peaceful and happy humans ever. Violence has been defeated with compassion, depression cured with intimacy.”

Carnage is a feature-length mockumentary written and directed by Amstell, and published on the BBC’s iPlayer in March 2017. In its utopian future, British people now live in harmony with nature and do not eat meat or animal products. Audiences are invited to reflect on Britain’s history of “carnism,” a term adopted to refer to the archaic practice of eating animals and animal-derived products. Their history is our present, so the film is a darkly comic appraisal of intergenerational trauma in the making. Characters represent the perspectives of different generations: millennial seniors undergo group therapy to process their shame at having participated in a system of abuse, while the generation reaching adulthood in the 2060s tries to make sense of the atrocities committed by their parents and grandparents….

(6) MEMORY LANE.

1951 [By Cat Eldridge.] Strangers on a Train 

Seventy-one years ago, Strangers on a Train premiered. It’s a classic film noir which was produced and directed by Alfred Hitchcock.

It was based on the Strangers on a Train novel by Patricia Highsmith that she had written just the previous year. Hitchcock secured the rights to the novel for only $7,500 since it was her first novel. As per his practice, he kept his name out of the negotiations to keep the purchase price low. Naturally she was quite angry when she later discovered who bought the rights for such a pitiful amount.

IF YOU DON’T LIKE SPOILERS, MAY I SUGGEST YOU GO TO THE BAR NOW? 

On a train, two strangers meet and swap the idea of murders — Bruno, who is actually a psychopath, suggests he kill Guy’s wife Miriam and Guy kill Bruno’s hated father. Each will murder a stranger, with no apparent motive, so neither will be suspected. The perfect murders. Or so they think oh so smugly.

Apparently they vary out the murders, or do they? Miriam shows up alive, Guy actually has no attention of killing Bruno’s father which leads to, of all things a fight between them on carnival wheel that mortally wounds .Bruno

I’ve no idea why the psychopath didn’t kill his victim, nor does Hitchcock give us a clue. 

Sometime later, another stranger on a train attempts to strike up conversation with Guy in the same way as had Bruno with Guy, about Anne, the daughter of the US Senator he wants to marry (which is why he wants to kill his still alive wife — don’t think about that too long) but Guy turns and walks away from him.

ENJOY YOUR DRINK IN THE BAR? COME ON BACK. 

Hitchcock hated the leads, Farley Granger as Guy Haines,  Ruth Roman as Anne Morton and Robert Walker as Bruno, as the Studio which paid for the production would be the one that choose the performers. He openly scorned Ruth Roman throughout the production saying she was “lacking in sex appeal”. 

(Warner Bros. wanted their own stars, already under contract, cast wherever possible. All studios did this because it was considerably cheaper than hiring freelancers. Hitchcock of course thought money was no object and bitterly complained.) 

Though critics at the time were at best lukewarm, audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes are giving it a ninety eight percent rating. And it did great at the box office — the production costs were just one point six million dollars and it made seven million in its initial run. Very impressive. 

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 15, 1877 William Hope Hodgson. By far, his best known character is Thomas Carnacki, featured in several of his most famous stories and at least partly based upon Algernon Blackwood’s occult detective John Silence. (Simon R. Green will make use of him in his Ghost Finders series.)  Two of his later novels, The House on the Borderland and The Night Land would be lavishly praised by H.P. Lovecraft. While serving as a Lieutenant in the army, he was killed by the direct impact of an artillery shell at the Fourth Battle of Ypres in April 1918. (Died 1918.)
  • Born November 15, 1879 Lewis Stone. He was Lord John Roxton in The Lost World which premiered here in 1925 making it one of the earliest cinematic adaptations of the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle novel. If you define Treasure Island as genre, that’s his only other genre role where he’s Captain Smollett. (Died 1953.)
  • Born November 15, 1929 Ed Asner. Genre work includes roles on Alfred Hitchcock PresentsThe Outer Limits, Voyage to the Bottom of the SeaThe Girl from U.N.C.L.E.The InvadersThe Wild Wild WestMission: ImpossibleShelley Duvall’s Tall Tales & LegendsBatman: The Animated Series and I’ll stop there as the list goes on for quite awhile. (Died 2021.)
  • Born November 15, 1933 Theodore Roszak. Winner of the Tiptree Award for The Memoirs of Elizabeth Frankenstein (1995), and the rather excellent Flicker which is well worth reading. Flicker is available at the usual suspects, and his only other available fiction is his Japanese folktales. Odd. (Died 2011.)
  • Born November 15, 1934 Joanna Barnes. Genre work includes roles on Planet of the Apes TV series and Fantasy Island. (Died 2022.)
  • Born November 15, 1942 Ruth Berman, 80. She’s a writer of mostly speculative poetry. In 2003, she won the Rhysling Award for Best Short Poem for “Potherb Gardening”, and in 2016 for “Time Travel Vocabulary Problems”.  She was the winner of the 2006 Dwarf Stars Award for her poem “Knowledge Of”.  She’s also written one YA fantasy novel, Bradamant’s quest. In 1973, she was a finalist for the first Astounding Award for Best New Writer. She edited the Dunkiton Press genre zine for a decade or so.  She was nominated for Best Fan Writer Hugo at Baycon (1968). Impressive indeed. 
  • Born November 15, 1972 Jonny Lee Miller, 50. British actor and director who played Sherlock Holmes on the exemplary Elementary series, but his first genre role was as a  nine year-old with the Fifth Doctor story, “Kinda”. While he’s had a fairly steady stage, film, and TV career across the pond since then, it’s only in the last decade that he’s become well-known in the States – unless, like JJ, you remember that twenty-three years ago he appeared in a technothriller called Hackers, with another unknown young actor named Angelina Jolie (to whom he ended up married, until they separated eighteen months months later). Other genre appearances include a trio of vampire films, Dracula 2000Dark Shadows, and Byzantium, the live-action Æon Flux movie, and the lead in the pseudo-fantasy TV series Eli Stone. (JJ) 

(8) NO NEWS MAY BE GOOD NEWS. J. Michael Straczyski told Twitter “’Babylon 5′ reboot could still happen, if we’re patient” reports SYFY Wire.

It’s been a little more than a year since news of a potential reboot of Babylon 5 surfaced over at The CW. Since then things have stalled in a big way, and remained stalled as The CW goes through major changes after its purchase by Nexstar Media Group. So, what does all that upheaval mean for our chances at more B5? According to creator J. Michael Straczynski, it means we wait, and it’s as simple as that….

(9) THE UPSIDE DOWN. If you’re in LA and have a few extra bucks, you can enter into “Stranger Things: The Experience”.

EVER WANTED TO BE THE PROTAGONIST OF A STRANGER THINGS ADVENTURE?

Your chance has arrived. Stranger Things: The Experience throws you headfirst into your favorite show —join Eleven, Dustin, Mike, Lucas, Max, and Will for a very special episode starring… you! Venture inside Hawkins Lab for a 45 mins. immersive experience featuring a brand-new Stranger Things storyline, then explore an 80’s-themed Mix-Tape medley with food & drinks, special merchandise, photo ops, and much more.

(10) THEIR COPYEDITOR MUST BE MY COUSIN. [Item by Daniel Dern.] From a tech PR email pitch:

Subject: Hackers using stenography for malware attacks – expert source

Daniel Dern adds, “They did get the term correct within the text – ‘steganography’ – and their response to my politely noting the hiccup, was as I expected, ‘Damn autocorrect!’”

(11) A GAME THAT TEACHES BIODIVERSITY PROTECTION. Nature Kin is a collaborative card game to help young people and families cultivate ecological literacy. The game puts players in charge of an open space where they and their friends race to find a home for 28 different native plants, animals, and insects.

Patrick Coleman (assistant director, Clarke Center) created the game with the help of his two young daughters, who adore the abundant nature we have in San Diego County: one of the top ten biodiversity hotspots in the country.

They have launched an Indiegogo campaign to help bring that game to the world and as of today it has raised $783 of the $1500 flexible goal.

Also, for every set purchased during the Indiegogo campaign, they will donate one set to a young person through a school or community outreach program, doubling your impact, and donate $5 to Project Wildlife (part of the San Diego Humane Society), a wildlife rehabilitation program that gives injured, orphaned, and sick wild animals a second chance at life.

(12) LOCAL STONES. Here’s a flyby comparison of all the moons of Uranus and Neptune – except the flyby is set above a familiar cityscape for real impact. I never knew how many moons look more like potatoes than billiard balls.

All known moons of the planets Uranus and Neptune, arranged in order of size. Uranus has 27 moons discovered so far and Neptune has 14. Some moons are known with Triton, Miranda or Titania, but there are many more smaller moons that are little known.

[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Joey Eschrich, Rich Lynch, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]

Pixel Scroll 10/10/22 I Demand Satisfaction. Pixels At Dawn

Illo by Joe Pearson

(1) ASKING ABOUT BRAIN-COMPUTER INTERFACES IN SF. Prof. Brendan Allison has a question, and File 770 has volunteered to try and crowdsource the answer:

I am an academic researcher in the field of brain-computer interfaces (BCIs). I’m writing a book chapter about BCIs in science fiction, called BCI-fi. Among other academic pursuits, I’m looking for the first reference to an artificial brain interface. It must involve a device. I’m just writing you as a way to research this question.   

The earliest reference so far was the first X-Men comic in 1963. Professor X can “interface” with psychic power – which doesn’t count – but also uses a brain interface to bolster that ability. Frankenstein does use a device to stimulate the brain, but that’s arguably not an interface.

Prof. Allison also sent links to recordings of two recent workshops about BCI-fi where one of the participants was Andy Weir. (“BCI Thursdays Next Generations: BCI-fi Part 1” and “BCI Thursdays Next Generations: BCI-fi Part 2”.)

In this two-part event, we will have prominent speakers within the BCI-fi community to discuss their contributions to BCI-fi, their favorite examples of BCI-fi including movies, books, and podcasts, and next steps to develop, foster, or publicize “good” BCI-fi. We will be joined by Dr. Brendan Allison (UCSD), Andy Weir (author of The Martian), Dr. Eric Leuthardt (Washington University in St. Louis), Stephen Hou (host of Neurratives podcast), Dr. Richard Ramchurn (University of Nottingham), Dr. Jane Huggins (University of Michigan) and Dr. Robert Hampson (Wake Forest University).

(2) IS THERE AN IDEAL LENGTH? “Novels versus novellas in Speculative Fiction” are debated at A Deep Look by Dave Hook.

Many argue that the perfect length for speculative fiction is the novella, or short novel. Some believe that this is long enough to tell a successful story while not longer than needed. It is said that this length allows for character development and change, and perhaps multiple plot lines, while short enough to be taut and not meander or bog down.

I don’t know if it’s true that the novella is the perfect length for speculative fiction, but it is certainly true that many great works of speculative fiction are novella length, whether works such as “The Times Machine” by H. G. Wells right up to modern fiction such as “A Spindle Splintered” by Alix E. Harrow….

(3) SFWA SF STORYBUNDLE SUBMISSION CALL. The Independent Authors Committee of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association (SFWA) is open for submissions for their science fiction StoryBundle to be released next spring. Submissions will be accepted through October 31, 2022, at 11:59pm Eastern Time. The theme for the call is Space is Big. Really Big. They are looking for space opera and “other books that span large swaths of space.” Full guidelines for this submission call can be found here.

StoryBundles are curated collections of books offered at a discounted price. Proceeds go to the participating authors and StoryBundle, and a small cut is donated to SFWA. 

This is a great chance for independent and small press authors to gain more exposure and sell more books! Submissions of indie and traditionally published novels will be accepted, though publishers must give permission in writing. You do not need to be a SFWA member to apply! 

We welcome full-length science fiction novels of over 40,000 words. We ask that authors submit only one novel, and do not submit a novel that has appeared in any previous StoryBundle (SFWA or otherwise.) Please only submit novels that will be for sale by March 1, 2023. You must have full rights to enter your novel in the StoryBundle, and the novel must not be in Amazon’s KDP Select at the time that the StoryBundle is offered.  Participants will be notified by December 1, 2022, so that any books enrolled in KDP will have time to be brought out of exclusivity before the bundle is released on or about March 1, 2023.

Questions may be directed to [email protected]

(4) FUNDRAISING FOR THE THOMASES. The Gofundme for “Lynne and Michael Thomas”, who are facing the loss of their 19-year-old daughter Caitlin to medical complications from Aicardi Syndrome, had raised $58,486 when checked earlier today.  Jim C. Hines, who set up the appeal, explained what it’s for:

…I’ve spoken a bit with Michael. It sounds like the medical costs of Caitlin’s treatment are covered. End-of-life costs are another matter.

The goal of this fundraiser is to cover those end-of-life expenses, and to hopefully provide a financial cushion to allow the Thomases to spend their remaining time with Caitlin – and when the time comes, to grieve – without also having to worry about money. All donations will go directly to Michael and Lynne (with the exception of GoFundMe’s processing fee)….

(5) EKPEKI CROWDFUNDING. The Gofundme to “Send Oghenechovwe Ekpeki World Fantasy Con” has brought in $2,000 of its $4,000 goal as of this afternoon.  Jason Sanford outlined why it’s needed:

…A successful previous fundraiser brought Ekpeki to this year’s Worldcon, where he was a finalist for two Hugo Awards. However, his gruesome battle with the US embassy in Nigeria for a visa and exorbitant fees and repeated payments resulting from that (including last-minute changes to his international flights) resulted in costs far exceeding what that fundraiser brought in. So this new fundraiser would also mop up those expenses as well….

(6) NEVERTHELESS, A BRADBURY AND ASIMOV FAN. “Temple Grandin Is a Visual Thinker Who Hates Graphic Novels” according to a headline in the New York Times. Here’s an excerpt from their interview with Grandin.  

What kind of a reader were you as a child? Which childhood books and authors stick with you?

I was not able to read until I was age 8. Mother tutored me with phonics, and I quickly went from no reading to reading above my age level. My favorite books when I was in fourth grade were “Black Beauty,” “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” and a children’s book about famous inventors. I really related to Black Beauty’s pain when he was forced to pull a heavy carriage with his head held up by a bearing rein. The inventor book appealed to me because I loved to tinker with my kites to make them fly better.

What genres do you especially enjoy reading and which do you avoid?

I avoid romance novels. The books I really enjoy are either about animals or science fiction. I loved “Merle’s Door,” by Ted Kerasote. Many dogs today live really restricted lives and they have no normal dog social life. Another favorite is “The Soul of the Octopus,” by Sy Montgomery. It really made me think about consciousness. When I received a review copy of “A Dog’s Purpose,” by W. Bruce Cameron, I could not put it down. In the science fiction genre, I am a fan of Ray Bradbury and Isaac Asimov.

(7) PICK SIX. How long has this variation been around? A spinoff from Nerds of a Feather’s “Six Books” interview series is “6 Games With Aidan Moher”.

1. What game are you currently playing?

Appropriately, I’m splitting my time between a couple of JRPGs—one current, one retro.

On the big screen downstairs I’m about 60 hours into Xenoblade Chronicles 3 and still mildly obsessed. I really love a lot of creator Tetsuya Takahashi’s older games—especially Xenogears, which I just finished replaying—but bounced hard off Xenoblade Chronicles 2, so I was a little hesitant when they announced the third game. It’s exceeded all of my expectations, though, and is probably my favourite game in the series now—an improvement on the second game in pretty much every way. Vast world, memorable characters, and Takahashi’s typical zany JRPG plot is a drool-worth combination.

Upstairs in my CRT corner, I’m playing Paper Mario for the Nintendo 64 for the first time. I’ve enjoyed many other games in the series—including Sticker Star, which has a bad reputation—but the original slipped past me for a variety of reasons. It’s wild to go back to the very beginning and see all of the series’s trademarks right there, fully formed, polished, and perfectly enjoyable 20 years later. It’s genuinely funny, the combat is simple but engaging thanks to its timing-based mechanics, and it’s got some of the best graphics on the system.

(8) WAS THE ZODIAC KILLER A FAN? [Item by Susan de Guardiola.] There’s a new theory that the Zodiac killer was a fan, Paul Doerr.

The news reports on this are the first time I’ve ever seen fanzines, filk, D&D, SCA, Renfaires, etc. paired with a Zodiac killer theory.

The evidence is circumstantial, but there’s an awful lot of it.

Los Angeles Magazine devoted an article to the question “Has The Zodiac Killer Mystery Been Solved (Again)”, discussing author Jarrett Kobek’s books Motor Spiritabout the misbegotten hunt for Zodiac, and How to Find Zodiacabout Paul Doerr. 

… As he studied Zodiac’s cryptic letters, Kobek brought a writerly attention to bear. He zeroed in on the killer’s habit of quoting forgotten bits of cultural ephemera (the well-known call-outs to The Mikado and to the 1924 short story “The Most Dangerous Game,” as well as a telling reference to an obscure 1950s comic book, identified by an anonymous online researcher, Tahoe27, several years back). Running other apparent quotations through Google Books and the Internet Archive, Kobek formed a picture of the killer as a fan of pulp novels, comics, and other nerdy touchstones. Kobek knew a bit about the early years of the sci-fi and fantasy fandoms, how these nascent communities had begun taking shape around an array of obscure self-published zines. On a hunch, he did a quick web search of “fanzines” and “Vallejo.”…

Paul Haynes has published a long Twitter thread about Kobek’s evidence, now collected in three parts at Threadreader: Part I; Part II; Part III.

I don’t know if anyone who knew Paul Doerr is still around.

(9) THE CORFLU AUCTION IS NOW LIVE! The catalog for the Corflu Pangloss auction is now online at Corflu.org and eFanzines.com. Anyone can bid on those 80 lots, including non-members – the catalog has instruction on how to bid. See the Pangloss Fanzine Auction Catalog and Bid Sheet at the links.

Corflu has a long tradition of raising funds to support the convention by selling and auctioning off vintage science fiction fanzines before, during and sometimes after the convention. As Corflu is a convention devoted to fanzines and the fans who create them, it has always been a natural place to buy, sell or trade zines, and the live auction has often raised very impressive sums.

For the 39th issue of the convention, taking place October 21st to 23rd, 2022 in Vancouver, British Columbia, we have taken a new approach…  By creating this catalog of auction items and publishing it some weeks in advance of the convention, we hope to allow fans not attending Corflu Pangloss to participate. Anyone interested in buying is invited to send their bids by email to [email protected] by midnight, Pacific daylight time on October 22nd, 2022.

(10) MEMORY LANE.  

1992 [By Cat Eldridge.] “Relics” was the one hundred and thirtieth episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. I found it to be one of the more fascinating episodes that series did and I’ll tell why in a minute, but first let’s talk about the usual details. 

Ronald Dowl Moore was the writer of this episode and he was best known fleshing out the Klingons. He also wrote the series finale here, “All Good Things…” which won the Hugo Award at Intersection.  And yes, he’s done a lot more Great Things than that but I have an understanding with OGH that I’ll try to keep things reasonably brief.

So why do I like it? Look there’s a Dyson Sphere being depicted as far as I know for the very first time on a video series! Y’all know what that is so you know why I’m so excited by this.

And then there’s the matter of the idea of the Enterprise in responding to a distress signal having the singular honor of rescuing Capt. Montgomery Scott! 

So how do the two connect? 

Well, the Enterprise, responding to a distress call discovers a Dyson sphere where they the distress call to the USS Jenolan, a Federation transport ship that has been missing for seventy-five years, which they find crashed on the sphere’s outer shell. And in the transporter buffer field, jury rigged to keep working, are two signals, two patterns, one degraded to be saved, the other that of Doohan. 

He bonds with Geordie which is fortunate as together they need to figure out how to get the Enterprise out of that damn Sphere. Afterwards he’s feeling like a relic but Picard cheers him up. As the Enterprise returns to its mission, the crew of the ship give Scott a shuttlecraft “on extended loan” to do whatever he wanted. 

I thought the writers did a nice job of making him a believable character, much more to be honest than the original series often did. And critics agreed as they’ve consistently voted this to be one of the best episodes of the series.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

Born October 10, 1927 Dana Elcar. Most of you will remember him as Peter Thornton on MacGyver, but he has a long genre history including Russ in Condorman which was inspired by Robert Sheckley’s The Game of X. He also played Sheriff George Paterson in Dark Shadows, and showed up in 2010 as Dimitri Moisevitch. (Died 2005.)

Born October 10, 1924 Edward Wood Jr. Though known for Plan 9 from Outer Space, he did a lot of other bad genre films including Night of the Monster and Bride of The Ghouls. (Died 1978.)

Born October 10, 1929 Robin HardyWicker Man is the film he’s known for though he followed that up with The Wicker Tree, an adaptation of his Cowboys for Christ novel. Anyone seen it? (Died 2016.)

Born October 10, 1931 Victor Pemberton. Writer of the script for the “Fury from the Deep”, a Second Doctor story in which he created the Doctor’s sonic screwdriver. He had appeared as an actor in the series, in a non-speaking role as a scientist in “The Moonbase” story. In 1976, he wrote the BBC audio drama Doctor Who and the Pescatons which I remember hearing. Quite good it was. (Died 2017.)

Born October 10, 1931 Jack Jardine. A long-time L.A. fan who was present at many West Coast cons and who shared the dais on panels with some of the major names in SF. Under the pen name Larry Maddock he wrote science fiction and mystery stories in the Fifties and Sixties. File 770 has more here. (Died 2009.)

Born October 10, 1941 Peter Coyote, 81. He actually did two genre films in 1982 with the first being Timerider: The Adventure of Lyle Swann in which he appeared as Porter Reese and the second being E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial which he’s Keys, the Agent hunting E.T. down. Sphere in which he’s Captain Harold C. Barnes is his next SF outing followed by The 4400 and FlashForward series being his next major genre involvements.

Born October 10, 1947 Laura Brodian Freas Beraha, 75. While married to Kelly Freas, she wrote Frank Kelly Freas: As He Sees It with him along with quite a few essays such as “On the Painting of Beautiful Women or Ayesha, She Who Must Be Obeyed” and “Some of My Best Critics are Friends – or Vice Versa“. She’s credited solely for the cover art for the 1993 Easton Press interior art for The Left Hand of Darkness according to ISFDB. 

Born October 10, 1966 Bai Ling, 56. She’s Miss West in Wild West West and the Mysterious Woman in Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, she has a major role as Guanyin in The Monkey King which aired on Syfy.

(12) COMICS SECTION.

  • Annie has turned the “little orphan” into a time traveler!
  • Off the Mark shows “parts is parts” isn’t true if you’re Frankenstein.

(13) DRESSED FOR EXCESS. SYFY Wire shares a load of photos in the NYCC 2022 – Final Day Cosplay Gallery.

New York Comic Con saved some of its coolest news for the weekend this year, as studios dropped loads of fun facts and features surrounding The Winchesters, Marvel’s Moon KnightThe Walking Dead, and Back to the Future — just to name a few.

But the stage wasn’t the only place catching fans’ attention as the four-day event rolled on at the Javitz Convention Center: Down on the ground, the guests themselves kept the cosplay fit tight, lining the halls with creatively killer takes on Mysterio, Red Skull, Buzz Lightyear, Predator, and tons more….

(14) CRILLY Q&A. Stone Soup questions the writer about a new novel: “Exclusive Interview with Brandon Crilly: Catalyst”.

Catalyst features an incredible cast of characters with complicated, overlapping histories. One of these characters is a stage magician who performs illusory tricks in a world where “real” magic is very present. What made you decide to bring these two contrasting approaches to magic central to this character’s identity?

Thank you for that compliment! Catalyst actually went through several serious revision drafts, and originally Mavrin (my street magician) was much more skeptical and almost willfully dismissive of “real” magic. When I added magic-bestowing squid gods (the Aspects) literally in orbit around Aelda, that level of skepticism didn’t make as much sense – so instead, it became obstinance. Mavrin has a lot of issues with the Aspects and their worshippers, so becoming an illusionist is part of how he distances himself from both. “I can make my own magic, I don’t need you!” is probably percolating in his subconscious somewhere (even though he’s fifty and not, like fifteen). But thankfully, he can only stay obstinate and grumpy for so long….

(15) A MISSION ACCOMPLISHED. Nerds of a Feather’s Arturo Serrano, in “Review: Wolf at the Door by Joel McKay”, says the book does one thing well.

There’s danger in hosting a big social gathering. People you haven’t seen in years can still make your throat tighten. Various combinations of acquaintances can be in good terms with you but be mortal enemies to each other. You dread the thought of who may knock at the door next. Your pulse quickens and your survival instinct rings alarms urging you to flee. Once the tension reaches critical mass, too much honesty will rip someone’s heart. The exchange of bitter words becomes a series of rounds of mutual eviscerations. Arguments get heated until someone loses their head. A friend’s careless remark under too much alcohol may lead to you never seeing them again. At any moment, the air can get so heavy that some of those present will suddenly depart from your life.

In Wolf at the Door, by Canadian author Joel McKay, these emotions that tear people to pieces are materialized into tooth and claw….

(16) SOLAR POWER. “‘Eye of Sauron’: The Dazzling Solar Tower in the Israeli Desert” – the New York Times sees both sides.

…This is the great solar tower of Ashalim, one of the tallest structures in Israel and, until recently, the tallest solar power plant in the world.

“It’s like a sun,” said Eli Baliti, a shopkeeper in the nearest village. “A second sun.”

To backers, the tower is an impressive feat of engineering, testament to Israeli solar innovation. To critics, it is an expensive folly, dependent on technology that had become outmoded by the time it was operational.

…The tower is more than 800 feet high, one of the tallest structures in Israel. It’s visible even from space.

To some, it’s reminiscent of something out of J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings.”

“It’s the eye of Sauron,” said Uriya Suued, an engineer who lived in Ashalim until September.

Other times, the tower seems more like a gawky, gentle giant, awkwardly standing on the edge of a group photo. You can even forget it’s there — until you spot it hovering, almost comically, behind a garden wall or incongruously, even apologetically, over the swimmers in the village’s outdoor pool.

“A lighthouse without the sea,” said Ben Malka, who runs the pool….

(17) DEMONIC IMPRESSION. Netflix dropped a trailer for Wendell & Wild, the new film written by Henry Selick and Jordan Peele and directed by Henry Selick.

(18) GIBSON ADAPTATION. This trailer for The Peripheral Season 1 on Prime Video was unveiled at New York Comic Con. “On October 21, the future holds the key to saving the past.”

(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Pitch Meeting: Don’t Worry Darling,” Ryan George, in a spoiler-packed episode, explains that Don’t Worry Darling “feels like a “go to the theatre film” and not something you stay home and stream. But it’s “a string of random occurrences for about 90 minutes with little or no information revealed.”  And then in the third act we learn the film is “like The Matrix with 10,000 times less kung fu.”

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

Pixel Scroll 9/20/22 Crisis Of Infinite Credentials: The Anti-Timothy Rises

(1) NONFICTION SPOTLIGHT Q&A. Cora Buhlert’s new “Non-Fiction Spotlight” is an interview with Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki about his collection Bridging WorldsBridging Worlds: Global Conversations On Creating Pan-African Speculative Literature In a Pandemic, edited by Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki”.

What prompted you to write/edit this book?

It just seemed like often we were shouting into the void, and not being heard. The works we create were received with nary a thought for where they came from or the work that went into them. It might seem like a seperate issue, the origin of the work. But a creator’s identity is very valid to their creation. And you cannot properly value a body of work without knowing it’s history or it’s creator. I witnessed a lot of struggle during the pandemic year, from my perch in Nigeria. And interacted with a lot of writers and creatives of African descent. And I just knew that these experiences needed to be documented, seen and heard.

(2) LASFS WEBSITE REVIVAL. Kristine Cherry is bringing alive the latest iteration of the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society’s website at LASFS.org. It includes a new blog whose latest feature is “A Letter to Forrest J Ackerman You Won’t Soon Forget”, which was written to Ackerman by Edgar Rice Burroughs in 1931.

(3) SUPPORT FOR INDIE AUTHORS. SFWA has added two sections to their “Indie Pub 101 Main Page”.

Launched in July, Indie Pub 101’s purpose is to provide up-to-date resources for indie authors so they can improve their craft, produce professional books, and promote their indie work competitively in the digital marketplace, using the best practices and innovations of successful indie authors. Of course, many of these resources are useful for creators using traditional publication paths as well.

The two new sections are:

(4) FREE READ. [Item by Olav Rokne.] Edify, a local affairs magazine in Edmonton, got Premee Mohamed to write a story for them. It’s odd, whimsical, and fairly short. “The Control of Certain Impulses”.

(5) 2022 ACFW CAROL AWARDS. The ACFW Carol Awards for Christian Fiction include a speculative fiction category. The complete list is of winners is here.

WINNER

  • Windward Shore by Sharon Hinck (Enclave)

OTHER FINALISTS

  • Secrets in the Mist (Skyworld Book 1) by Morgan L. Busse 
  • Cast the First Stone by Susan May Warren

(6) DNA OF CLASSIC TOYS. Fitting in with last week’s report about the 2022 National Toy Hall of Fame finalists, here’s an article about “How Do You Make the Perfect Toy?”, and why some toys last, from The Walrus.

… Speaking from her home in Chicago, Baxter explains that parents, not toy producers, were the ones driving these sales. “There is this nostalgic element of either wanting to share something from their own childhood or give something that they felt they lacked in their childhood, because they think it will be good,” Baxter says. Especially now, in a largely digital world, there is something about these analog toys “that parents see as desirable for their children [and] that we find desirable for ourselves.” In fact, when Fisher-Price tried to modernize its iconic toy phone by removing the rotary dial, there was a consumer revolt, and sales fell. Nostalgia, Baxter concluded, is what keeps certain toys alive…. 

(7) WILD OATES. [Item by rcade.] After hearing a talk by science fiction author Ted Chiang at the Seattle Book Festival, Joyce Carol Oates claimed that he called the fantasy genre “fundamentally young adult”:

The living American author with the most overloaded prize shelf, Oates is spending her eighties aggravating people on Twitter. In July, she tweeted that a literary agent friend told her young white male writers can’t get published any more: “Joyce Carol Oates claims White male writers are being shut out. The data disagrees” at CNN Style.

In a tweet published Sunday morning, the author of more than 50 books shared a New York Times op-ed criticizing the publishing industry as too sympathetic to the political left.

Along with the link, Oates wrote: “A friend who is a literary agent told me that he cannot even get editors to read first novels by young white male writers, no matter how good; they are just not interested. this is heartbreaking for writers who may, in fact, be brilliant, & critical of their own ‘privilege.'”…

Ted Chiang protects his tweets so his reaction (if any) to Oates’ characterization of his talk is not available, but Jason Sanford scoffed at her interpretation:

You don’t need to know what “that tweet about her foot” references. If it was a genre it would be fundamentally horror.

(8) CREEPTASTIC! Hailey Piper recommends stories by Barker, Gaiman, and Machado for crime lovers who want to read supernatural fiction. “10 Shadowy Meetings of Crime and the Occult” at CrimeReads.

…Sometimes the crime layer peels and reveals more horrific muscle underneath. Crime and horror, especially the occult, have a long-entwined history. Sometimes it’s a ruse like Sherlock Holmes faces in The Hound of the Baskervilles, or ambiguous like in True Detective, but stories of investigators and outlaws facing ghosts, witches, and devils dot the pages of genre-mixed stories in Weird Tales, movies, novels, and comic book characters like Batman, John Constantine, and more. It’s a fun mix, too; hard to predict whether the greater threat might come from and carrying the mix of noir elements suggesting an unjust universe….

(9) MORE TRIBUTES FOR MAUREEN KINCAID SPELLER.

Nina Allan mourns “Maureen Kincaid Speller” at The Spider’s House.

…Death is always difficult to come to terms with, but in the case of Maureen it seems doubly so. She had so much more still to give. Her indomitable spirit, her keen intellect, her wicked sense of humour and the all round pleasure in being in her company – these things make her loss all the more painful. I don’t think I will ever get used to the knowledge that she is no longer with us….

Paul Raven appreciated her inclusiveness: “maureen” at Velcro City Tourist Board.

… I found her an easy person to like, which is rarer than you might think. A lot of it probably had to do with the way in which she would just kinda include you in a conversation or event, even if she didn’t know you that well: an assumption not of friendship, exactly, but of the potential for such….

(10) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.  

1999 [By Cat Eldridge.] Before the Tomb Raider films kicked dust up, there was twenty-three years ago the Relic Hunter series, to put it politely, a ripoff of the Indiana Jones films with a much more sexy central character.

Starring Althea Rae Duhinio Janairo known as professionally when modeling, or acting as Tia Carrere, it has instead of a grizzled Professor, a sexy Sydney Fox, also a professor who is also a globe-trotting “relic hunter” who looks for ancient artifacts to return to museums and/or the descendants of the original owner. See rip off. Many of these relics have genre underpinnings to them, being supernatural in nature or being pieces of advanced technology.

Yes, the series was shot in the Toronto area like so many genre series before the Vancouver region became popular for reasons unknown though I assume it had to do with a shorter commute to the LA studios, and includes many familiar local landmarks among its locations. A sharp eye can spot that the European locations are actually still there. No, not blue screen was not done on this series. 

Jay Firestone who was the Executive Producer here is a Major Player on genre series responsible behind the scenes for such works as AndromedaFX: The SeriesLa Femme NikitaQueen of Swords and Mutant X. Some one hundred seventy shows are in his company holdings right now. 

The Relic Hunter series which premiered in 1999 really didn’t last that long as it went off the air after three seasons and sixty-six episodes. It’s streaming on Amazon, Freevee, Tubu, Vudu and YouTube right now. 

It holds among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes a middling fifty-five percent rating. 

Ok, I’ve not seen it, so who has? 

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 20, 1935 Keith Roberts. Author of Pavane, an amazing novel.  I’ve also read his collection of ghost stories, Winterwood and Other Hauntings, with an introduction by Robert Holdstock. Interestingly he has four BSFA Awards including ones for the artwork for the cover of his own first edition of Kaeti & Company. (Died 2000.)
  • Born September 20, 1948 JoAnna Cameron. I’ve previously mentioned in passing Shazam!, a Seventies children’s series done by Filmation. Well she was the lead on Isis, another Filmation children’s series done at the same time. Her only genre appearance was a brief one in the Amazing Spider-Man series. Anyone here seen it? I don’t remember seeing it. (Died 2021.)
  • Born September 20, 1950 James Blaylock, 72. One of my favorite writers. I’d recommend the Ghosts trilogy, the Christian trilogy and The Adventures of Langdon St. Ives which collects all of the Langdon St. Ives adventures together as his best writing, but anything by him is worth reading. I see the usual suspects don’t have much by him but they do have two Langdon St. Ives tales, Homunclus and Beneath London. He’s generously stocked at the usual suspects.
  • Born September 20, 1965 Robert Rusler, 57. Actor whose genre creds include Max in Weird Science, Ron Grady in the genre adjacent A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge, A.J. In the equally genre adjacent Vamp, Richard Lawson in Sometimes Trey Come Back off the Stephen King novel, a recurring role for twenty two episodes of Lt. Warren Keffer on Babylon 5 (see how many characters JMS would be recasting?), Enterprise’s “Anomaly” as Orgoth and I think that’s it. 
  • Born September 20, 1973 Cody Goodfellow, 49. Best known for his Radiant Dawn sequence which consists of Radiant Dawn and Ravenous Dusk which have more than a touch of the Cthulhu Mythos in them. Perfect Union uses bee genes to create a near perfect utopia that actually is a horror in the end. Very prolific with over ten novels to his name so far. 
  • Born September 20, 1974 Owen Sheers, 48. His first novel, Resistance, tells the story of the inhabitants of a valley near Abergavenny in Wales in  the Forties shortly after the failure of Operation Overlord and a successful German takeover of Britain. It’s been made into a film.  He also wrote the “White Ravens”, a contemporary take off the myth of Branwen Daughter of Llyr, found in the New Stories from the Mabinogion series.
  • Born September 20, 1986 Aldis Hodge, 36. He played Alec Hardison on the Leverage series which just got a reboot. Ok, I know it’s not precisely genre but if there’s a spiritual descendant of Mission: Impossible, this series is it. Both the cast and their use of technology in that series are keeping with the MI spirit. He’s also had one-offs on CharmedBuffy the Vampire SlayerSupernaturalThe Walking DeadStar Trek: Discovery’s Short Takes and Bones (which given that it crossed over with Sleepy Hollow…) He will play Carter Hall/Hawkman in the upcoming Black Adam assuming it doesn’t get cancelled.
  • Born September 20, 1989 Malachi Kirby, 33. His most noted was Stripe in the Black Mirror episode “Men Against Fire”, but he’s also been in the Twelfth Doctor story “Hell Bent” as Gaston. He had the recurring role of Spring Heeled Jack Burton in the Thirties-set version of Jekyll and Hyde which revolved around of the grandson of Dr. Henry Jekyll who has inherited his grandfather’s split personality and violent alter-ego.

(12) FORCES THAT FORMED TOLKIEN. Smithsonian Magazine will host John Garth’s talk “The Real World of J.R.R. Tolkien” on Wednesday, September 21 at 2:00 p.m. Eastern. Tickets $25 at the link.

In this insightful lecture, the British scholar John Garth will tell us about the real-life forces that shaped Tolkien’s imaginary world—particularly the upheavals of the interwar period, which shook Tolkien to the core and prompted him to create the story of a doomed Atlantis-like island, now the basis for a new Amazon Prime television series. Garth, author of a feature in the October issue of Smithsonian, will also take your questions about all things Tolkien in a Q&A with Smithsonian senior editor Jennie Rothenberg Gritz.

(13) CLOSING THE BARN DOOR BEFORE THINGS ESCAPE. A Colorado town library has a new solution to book bans: “Colorado Town Has A Plan To Tackle Censorship: Banning Book Bans” at HuffPost.

A group of residents who showed concerns about books in a Colorado library last month have sparked a ban they did not foresee this week: a ban on book bans.

The Wellington town board voted 5-2 to pass a resolution that barred the board from restricting access to materials at the Wellington Public Library on Tuesday, The Coloradoan reported.

The move followed an August town board meeting where residents, led by town board member Jon Gaiter’s wife, Christine Gaiter, referred to books ― what she called “pornographic materials” ― she said weren’t suitable for kids.

Gaiter’s list of 19 books included “The Bluest Eye” by Toni Morrison and “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” by Stephen Chbosky, according to the newspaper.

Gaiter told the board on Tuesday that she wanted restrictions on children accessing the books, not a book ban, but some residents said in August that they did want a ban.

A “majority” of residents “packed” a board room to support the resolution that would ban book bans on Tuesday, according to The Coloradoan….

(14) TOUGH TRIVIA. The Slate quiz from a couple days ago was on an SF theme: “Slate Quiz: The hardest trivia you’ll answer all week”. I got 10 of 12 quiz questions right. Knew 9 of them cold, guessed the rest but only one of my guesses was right. How about you?

(15) VAT GOT YOUR TONGUE? It’s the season for no reason…. There are 14 questionable flavors available at Archie McPhee’s “Candy Canes” headquarters page.

This year’s candy canes are here in three wonderfully terrible flavors. Butter Candy Canes have the taste of unsalted, but heavily sweetened, butter. Brisket is a holiday staple and Brisket Candy Canes are sure to become a tradition in your family. You can taste the meat! Last, and perhaps most disturbing, we have Caesar Salad Candy Canes. It tastes like salad with a hint of anchovy. Christmas is “yummy” again!

And let’s not forget “Sardine Candy Canes”.

(16) BAT-TIME TO WAKE UP. I think I would find this more palatable: Comics on Coffee’s “Dark Knight Roast”.

The ultimate team-up! Comics On Coffee & DC have joined forces to make your mornings more exciting and action packed with great tasting coffee! This Dark Knight Roast is an excellent cup of coffee, that will leave your taste buds begging for one more cup! Absolutely no bitter aftertaste, with a tiny hint of citrus and chocolate.

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Game Trailers: Outer Wilds”, Fandom Games says this game gives you a chance to explore fascinating new worlds, until the 20-minute timer causes the sun to go supernova if you haven’t completed a task. The narrator says this could be “the next game you annoy your friends about” but if you’re a gamer who likes to punch or blast things, this one is not for you.

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

SFWA Makes Safety Resources Available to SFF Community

SFWA has announced the publication of their Safety Resources, a new set of webpages on the SFWA website located here. These resources contain useful information for creators maintaining an online presence and touch on safety considerations for in-person events for both attendees and event planners. 

Personal Safety Online includes checklists and safety tips for securing your online accounts, removing personally identifying information from “people finder” sites, and other common sources of information exploited for doxing attempts. This page also includes advice on managing the privacy of others—i.e., complying with international spam laws and safely storing data when collecting contact information for mailing lists, giveaways, and so on.

Safety Considerations for In-Person Events and Safety Considerations for Virtual Events include advice for both attendees and event hosts. These pages cover codes of conduct, security planning for events, safety tips for infrequent travelers, effective bystander intervention, and templates for anti-harassment policies and accessibility policies.

Finally, they have included some information on how to document harassment and what to expect when seeking legal or law enforcement assistance in Reporting Incidents to Authorities, as well as some suggestions and resources for dealing with the personal repercussions of harassment in Self-Care If You’ve Been Harassed.

SFWA hopes that the information contained in these pages can help individuals and organizations navigate the speculative fiction publication industry with an increased consideration for safety. They are publicly available, and they welcome people to share them with community members who may benefit from them.

A SFWA blog series on safety topics for creators is in development as well. 

2023 SFWA Givers Fund Grant Applications Due October 1

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association (SFWA) is accepting applications for Givers Fund Grants through October 1, 2022. Successful applicants will be granted funds for use in 2023. 

Givers Fund Grants are annual grants awarded to projects that support SFWA’s mission to “promote, advance, and support science fiction and fantasy writing in the United States and elsewhere, by educating and informing the general public and supporting and empowering science fiction and fantasy writers.” 

The application process is relatively short and simple. Typical awards are US$1000–$2000 and go to nonprofit or similar organizations for programs related to the speculative fiction genres. Individuals may apply, but the intended programs must not be for profit or to further their own careers.

The grant does not fund salaries or honorariums, but it can be used for other types of expenses, such as advertising, space rental, web services, travel expenses, purchasing books, and so on. 

Past grants have gone to conventions, public library reading groups, scholarships for writing workshops, teen writing programs, and many more projects that complement our mission statement. Past recipients include Norwescon, LaunchPad, Partnership for HOPE Center, Space Cowboy Books, South African Education Project, and many others.

Detailed information on how to apply, with a FAQ and an informal webinar full of tips, can be found at this web page.

If you have any questions about the grant or the application process, please contact [email protected].

[Based on a press release.]