Pixel Scroll 7/22/22 And The Pixel That Was Planted In My Brain Still Remains, Within The Scrolls Of Filers

(1) BOT AND PAID FOR. In “Fandoms Can Do Bad All by Themselves”, Vice looks at reports about what percentage of social media support for the release of the Zack Snyder cut of Justice League came from bots, but concludes most of it was probably genuine.

According to a report in Rolling Stone, the very online campaign for the release of Zack Snyder’s cut of Justice League was a battle waged in no small part by bots. The report is gossipy fun and well worth reading in full—multiple sources tell reporter Tatiana Siegel that Snyder, discoursing on his enemies to a studio executive, said, “I will destroy them on social media,” and it gets more absurd from there—but the main impression the reader is left with is that the pro-Snyder movement was perhaps not quite as organic as it seemed. One interesting thing is that it’s not clear how much that would matter—the behavior of most fandoms when they’re incensed, after all, is not all that different from bots to begin with.

… The outlet commissioned reports from three different cybersecurity and social-media firms, and also quotes from reports that were commissioned by Warner Bros. According to reports commissioned by Rolling Stone, at least 13% of the accounts using the hashtags related to the Snyder fandom were deemed fake—much higher than the average of around 5%. Because people and bots using this hashtag would often target specific Warner Bros. executives with implied death threats, Rolling Stone reports, the studio hired cybersecurity firms to analyze its contents. While all acknowledge that any popular hashtag will have bot activity, at a few points in the article different people argue that if Snyder was scheming behind the scenes at the Warner Bros. studios, then these bots must have been under his control as well. (One site, forsnydercut.com, was at one point registered by an ad agency, but Rolling Stone was unable to establish a connection between Snyder and a person apparently behind the site, whom he denied knowing or hiring.)

While this report is full of juicy gossip surrounding Snyder’s behavior towards the people he felt had wronged him, it probably somewhat overstates the power of robot armies; whatever else Snyder was or wasn’t in control of, he certainly knew how to present himself to a fandom in order to garner its sympathy….

(2) LOVE NEVER FAILS. “Sarah Gailey On Loving Monsters” at CrimeReads.

Just Like Home is dedicated “to everyone who ever loved a monster.”

It is the easiest thing in the world to love a monster. It’s easy to love a monster because love isn’t a decision. It’s no one’s fault that love happens. Emotions, urges, and impulses are themselves beyond our ability to control. Love in its many forms wells up out of the human spirit irrepressibly. Like anger or sadness or the desire to kill, it arrives without invitation or intention. Action might spring from emotion—love might lead to an expression of affection, anger might lead to violence, a powerful impulse might lead to a monstrous act. But on its own, love is no different from any other feeling. To love a monster is easy, when the monster seems loveable.

It’s easy for a monster to seem loveable. All monsters partition other people into two categories—those who witness their monstrosity, and those who don’t. Maybe this is because the monster sees the world as divided into unequal parts, where some deserve to flourish while others deserve to be the targets of ungoverned impulse. Or maybe it’s because monsters want to be loved just as much as anyone else, and they understand that those who experience their ungoverned impulses aren’t likely to give them support, affection, admiration. Maybe it’s just another reflex, as unconscious as the way my voice slips into a slightly different register when I’m around trusted friends….

(3) AFROFUTURISM NEWS. In the Guardian’s interview with artist and filmmaker Edward George, he talks about Black cultural history, Tupac Shakur, the evolution of dub and his remarkable cinema essays with the Black Audio Film Collective: “Edward George: ‘You can’t have Afrofuturism without some ambience of a fascist thinking creeping in’”.

…Last Angel is not only a film about science fiction but, partly influenced by Chris Marker’s 1962 film La Jetée, it features a character called the “data thief” who travels back from the year 2195 to probe the failure of the Ghanaian revolution. If this all sounds hugely ambitious, Icarean even, that’s part of its appeal. It played a crucial role in popularising Afrofuturism – a term first coined by white theorist Mark Dery, and now used to describe countless exhibitions, film series and even films (such as the feudalism-romanticising Black Panther) in which the term is used breezily, a floating signifier for something to do with technophilia, empowerment, a vague and breezy form of utopianism. “Because of the ways it uses the archive, its montage, its commentary – the film has become a codex of futurity,” says George.

“If you want to fetishise futurity less, you have to go back to the plantations and to the slaves themselves: a lot of the songs that they were singing were literally about a tomorrow. These were cast in the metaphysical language of the day – that of the Bible – which was an act of mastery in itself. More than that, look at Italian futurism in the early 20th century: it opened out on to all kinds of fascism. You can’t have futurity, or futurism, or Afrofuturism, without some ambience of a fascist thinking creeping in.”…

(4) FLINT FUNDRAISER ACHIEVES GOAL. The “Eric Flint” GoFundMe created to help pay the costs of memorial services raised $12,540. The organizer announced, “The family wants to thank you for your generosity. We have reached the goal and will be closing the campaign. Hug your loved ones today.”

(5) SFWA SPOTLIGHTS ROMANCE STEERING COMMITTEE. The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association (SFWA) announced that a SFWA Romance Steering Committee (RSC) was formed in Fall 2021.

The RSC will offer meaningful input and assistance in cultivating a positive trajectory for authors of stories that combine fantasy, science fiction, and romance in a way that encourages diversity, engagement, and quality, while also providing outreach and support resources for romance writers struggling with inclusion in the SFF community at large.

RSC resources that are already available, or will be soon, include:

  • The SFWA Discord channel #romantic-sff
  • Monthly posts in the Romancing SFF series on the SFWA Blog searchable here.
  • A Romancing SFF Meetup to be held in the fall.

The members of the Romance Steering Committee are Alexia Chantel, Claire Davon, Miranda Honfleur (co-chair), Victoria Janssen, Chelsea Mueller (co-chair), Abigail Reynolds, Katherine Ley, and R.K. Thorne.

(6) HOT ITEM. From AbeBooks “Most expensive sales from April to June 2022”, see the asbestos-bound copy of Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. The third-biggest sale of the quarter, it went for $22,500.

This is the famous asbestos-bound edition of Bradbury’s classic dystopian novel about the power of books. #83 of 200 signed and numbered copies. A regular signed first edition of Fahrenheit 451 sold for $12,000 via AbeBooks earlier in the year.

Sixth on the list was Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland illustrated by Salvador Dali sold for $21,375.

(7) CYBER-GROUNDHOG DAY. [Item by Daniel Dern.] Sure, sounds useful, but also “Yet another ‘what could possibly go wrong,’ e.g., heists/capers, foreign invaders, alien invaders, and AI/cyber takeovers. E.g, Niven/Pournelle Oath of Fealty, probably also at least one PK Dick story. “Earthgrid Aims To Rewire the USA Using Super-Cheap Tunnel Tech” at Slashdot.

Bay Area startup Earthgrid says it’s developing a plasma boring robot that can dig underground tunnels 100x faster and up to 98% cheaper than existing tech, and it plans to use it to start re-wiring America’s energy, internet and utilities grids….

(8) SHATNER LENDING VOICE TO MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE. Yahoo! was a witness as “William Shatner crashes Comic-Con—and soon, Masters Of The Universe”.

He-Man and his friends will welcome a new addition to the follow-up to Netflix’s Masters Of The Universe: Revelation—an animated series set in outer space that, up until now, has been sorely lacking anyone who’s actually been in outer space. William Shatner made a surprise appearance at Thursday’s San Diego Comic-Con panel celebrating 40 years of Masters Of The Universe toys, films, and series, at which series creator Kevin Smith confirmed that Shatner will voice a mystery character in the upcoming Masters Of The Universe: Revolution.

The legendary Star Trek actor and actual astronaut arrived to deliver the news of his casting in the most conceivably Comic-Con way possible: his booming voice startling and delighting Hall H audience members before he emerged to join the panel. The 2022 edition of the convention is a busy one for Shatner, who was also on hand to preview a forthcoming documentary about his life produced by Legion M, the production company created and led entirely by fans. “San Diego Comic-Con has grown,” he quipped. “There’s something in the water. It used to be a little sleepy town!”…

There are more details about the panel in CBR.com’s article “SDCC: He-Man & the Masters of the Universe 40th Anniversary Panel”.

Cora Buhlert is keeping a sharp eye on these developments. She notes there will be another Masters of the Universe panel on Friday focused on the toys. Plus, says Cora, “Mattel has a huge toy display at the con, including a diorama featuring the massive Eternia playset, of which only a handful were produced in the 1980s. Apparently, the Eternia set will be crowdfunded, e.g. Mattel will be collecting preorders and only then go into production. There are a couple of videos about the Mattel display online. This one is pretty detailed and offers a good look at the Eternia diorama and the other toys announced.”

(9) BUHLERT’S NEW TOY PHOTO STORY. The previous item would have been the perfect lead-in to a new Masters of the Universe figure photo story, but that’s not the source of her latest, which is “The Frost-Giant’s Daughter”, an adaptation of a story by Robert E. Howard.

…For those who don’t know, “The Frost-Giant’s Daughter” is the second story about Conan of Cimmeria that Robert E. Howard ever wrote, ninety years ago now. It was rejected by Weird Tales and only published in altered form (with Conan renamed Amra) in the fanzine The Fantasy Fan during Howard’s lifetime. The original version did not appear until way after Howard’s death. You can read the Amra version here.

“The Frost-Giant’s Daughter” is set early during Conan’s career. Many believe it is the earliest of Conan’s chronicles adventures. I’m not entirely convinced by this, but Conan is definitely young in this story.

My adaptation differs from the original story in two aspects. For starters, I made it less rapey. Secondly, instead of the male pseudo-Viking companions from the original story, the companion I gave Conan is Valeria of the Red Brotherhood, pirate, mercenary, swordswoman and all around awesome character, whom Conan meets in the later story “Red Nails”.

So I present you: “The Frost-Giant’s Daughter” by Robert E. Howard, starring Conan of Cimmeria and Valeria of the Red Brotherhood…

(10) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites listeners to dig into dumplings with Patrick O’Leary in episode 176 of the Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Patrick O’Leary

We discussed the way his new novel 51 is similar to The Great Gatsby, why he believes his books will crumble if he attempts to describe them, the perils and pleasures of pantsing (and how his stories often don’t get any good until the 15th draft), the tragedy of being an invisible creature, our mutual fears of what aging might bring, his love for Marvel Comics (and especially the Silver Surfer), how Laura Ingalls Wilder introduced him to literature, the way reading Kurt Vonnegut taught him there were no rules, the two science fiction greats who literally left him speechless, and much more.

(11) ALAN GRANT (1949-2022). Comic writer Alan Grant, best known for his work on Judge Dredd and Batman, died July 20 at the age of 73. 2000AD has a full profile of his career here.

…Grant was one of his generation’s finest writers, combining a sharp eye for dialogue and political satire with a deep empathy that made his characters seem incredibly human and rounded. Through his work he had a profound and enduring influence on 2000 AD and on the comics industry….

(12) MEMORY LANE.  

1922 [By Cat Eldridge.] One hundred years ago, Agatha Christie’s Secret Adversary was released in the United Kingdom by The Bodley Head. The novelintroduces Tommy and Tuppence who will be featured in three more novels and a collection of short stories. The five Tommy and Tuppence books would span Christie’s writing career.

The story here is that the Great War is over, and jobs are almost impossible to find, so childhood friends Tommy Beresford and Prudence “Tuppence” Cowley decide to start their own business as The Young Adventurers. In this novel, they are hired for a job that leads them into many dangerous situations, and meeting allies as well, including an American millionaire in search of his cousin.

The critics liked it. The Times Literary Supplement said it was “a whirl of thrilling adventures” and the Daily Chronicle was very happy with it: “It’s an excellent yarn and the reader will find it as impossible as we did to put it aside until the mystery has been fathomed.” 

It would be the second Christie work to be turned into a film as it would be made in Germany by the Orplid Film company in 1929 as a silent movie which ran for 76 minutes. Thought to be lost, it wasn’t and was shown at the National Film Theatre in 2001. 

The novel was adapted twice for television, in 1983 and in 2014. Significant changes were made to story. A graphic novel was done.  Several theatre productions were staged. 

(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 22, 1882 Margery Williams. The Velveteen Rabbit (or How Toys Become Real) is the work that is by far her best known work. Is it genre? Sure. And it has been adapted as video, audio and theatre myriad times. One audio version was narrated by Meryl Streep with music by George Winston. (Died 1944.)
  • Born July 22, 1932 Tom Robbins, 90. Author of such novels as Even Cowgirls Get the Blues and Another Roadside Attraction. ISFDB lists everything he’s done as genre and who am I to argue with them on this occasion at least? Well I will. Now Jitterbug Perfumethat’s definitely genre! Cowgirls Get the Blues got made into a rather excellent film by Gus Van Sant and stars Uma Thurman, Lorraine Bracco, and Keanu Reeves. Interesting note: Still Life with Woodpecker made the long list at one point for the Prometheus Award for Best Libertarian SF Novel. 
  • Born July 22, 1941 Vaughn Bodé. Perhaps best known for the Cheech Wizard character and his art depicting erotic women. For our purposes, he’s a contemporary of Ralph Bakshi and has been credited as a major influence on Bakshi’s The Lord of the Rings and Wizards. He’s been inducted into the Will Eisner Award Hall of Fame. (Died 1975.)
  • Born July 22, 1944 Nick Brimble, 78. His first genre role was in Lust for a Vampire as the First Villager. He next shows up in Roger Corman’s Frankenstein Unbound as The Monster.  He’s Sir Ectot in A Knight’s Tale which I really like be it genre adjacent or not. His lastest film genre role is as Dr. Zellaby in Soulmate, and he’s the voice of Owsla in the Watership series. 
  • Born July 22, 1959 Nigel Findley. He was a game designer, editor, and an author of science fiction and fantasy novels and RPGs. He was also part of the original Shadowrun RPG core group and has sole writing credit on both sourcebooks and Shadowrun world novels. Yes, I played Shadowrun, a most enjoyable experience. (Died 1995.)
  • Born July 22, 1972 Colin Ferguson, 50. Best known for being Sheriff Jack Carter on  Eureka. Damn I miss that series which amazingly won no Hugos. (I just discovered the series is on the Peacock streaming service which I subscribe to so I’m going to watch it again!) He’s also been in Are You Afraid of the DarkThe HungerThe X-FilesThe Outer Limits, the Eureka “Hide and Seek” webisodes (anyone seen these?) and The Vampire Diaries. Oh and he made a series of commercials for Maytag.

(14) COMICS SECTION.

  • Last Kiss has genre-related advice for a foundering romance.

(15) COLBERT AT COMIC-CON. “SDCC: Stephen Colbert hosts Lord Of The Rings extravaganza”A.V. Club has the story.

Amazon spent nearly half a billion dollars on their new Lord Of The Rings series, and at least half of that must’ve gone into their Comic-Con panel. Led by a string accompaniment featuring series composer Bear McCreary, the panel kicked off with the music of Middle Earth to set the stage, and Late Show host Stephen Colbert on hand to speak elvish and keep things moving.

Prime Video played a room-wrapping trailer on screens all around Hall H, showing off the various peoples of Middle Earth. And all that’s before showrunner J.D. Payne taught us to say “Oh, shit” in Elvish—only to be challenged by Colbert. “Tolkien speaks the language of the soul,” said Payne. And he also speaks the language of debate.

… And finally, Colbert asked question that was on everyone’s lips: “Will there be Entwives?”

“Maybe you’ve seen them already,” McKay teased.

(16) RINGS TRAILER. Here’s the “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power” trailer shown at San Diego Comic-Con. Begins streaming September 2 on Prime Video.

Discover the legend that forged the rings. #TheRingsOfPower Prime Video’s The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power brings to screens for the very first time the heroic legends of the fabled Second Age of Middle-earth’s history. This epic drama is set thousands of years before the events of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, and will take viewers back to an era in which great powers were forged, kingdoms rose to glory and fell to ruin, unlikely heroes were tested, hope hung by the finest of threads, and the greatest villain that ever flowed from Tolkien’s pen threatened to cover all the world in darkness. Beginning in a time of relative peace, the series follows an ensemble cast of characters, both familiar and new, as they confront the long-feared re-emergence of evil to Middle-earth. From the darkest depths of the Misty Mountains, to the majestic forests of the elf-capital of Lindon, to the breathtaking island kingdom of Númenor, to the furthest reaches of the map, these kingdoms and characters will carve out legacies that live on long after they are gone.

(17) FREE READ. Cora Buhlert has a new flash story online at Wyngraf Magazine. This one is called “Demon Child” which she says “is a changeling story in reverse.” The first line is —

“I swear to you, this baby is a monster,” Sansavi said as she pushed the pram back and forth across the black bridge of Zairahm….

(18) A COMIC ABOUT MARTIANS IN PASADENA. NPR presents “NASA engineer Nagin Cox on Mars rover time”. “This comic, illustrated by Anuj Shrestha, is inspired by an interview with NASA engineer Nagin Cox from TED Radio Hour’s episode It Takes Time.

(19) ALTERNATE RACE TO MARS CONTINUES. “’For All Mankind’ Renewed for Season 4 at Apple”Variety reports from Comic-Con.

For All Mankind” has been renewed for Season 4 at Apple.

The announcement was made Friday as part of the show’s panel at San Diego Comic-Con. Production on the new season is scheduled to begin in August. Season 3 of the series debuted on the streamer on June 10.

“For All Mankind” is an alternative history series that explores what would have happened if the global space race had never ended. The series presents an world where NASA astronauts, engineers and their families find themselves in the center of extraordinary events seen through the prism of an alternate history timeline — a world in which the USSR beats the US to the moon.

In Season 3, the series moved into the early ‘90s with a race to a new planetary frontier: Mars. The Red Planet becomes the new front in the Space Race not only for the U.S. and the Soviet Union, but also an unexpected new entrant with a lot to prove and even more at stake. The characters find themselves going head-to-head as their ambitions for Mars come into conflict and their loyalties are tested, creating a pressure cooker that builds to a climactic conclusion….

(20) STRANGER CHICKEN. Adweek is fascinated when “KFC Releases ’80s-Style Horror Film With Killer Pizza”.

The phenomenon of Netflix series Stranger Things has produced a resurgence of interest in ’80s horror movies. Now chicken restaurant chain KFC is looking to tap into that interest from younger consumers by producing its own short film in Spain, featuring killer pizza.

The fast-food chain has released La Massacre—a 14-minute short film, which tells the often-told story of five teenagers who travel to a remote cabin in the woods to enjoy a weekend away. However, once they reach it, they are stalked and killed by a terrifying entity shaped like a pizza.

(21) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Pitch Meeting,” Ryan George notes the sixth Harry Potter movie begins with Harry Potter breaking Hogwarts security by reading a magic newspaper in a Muggle coffee shop.  But Dumbledore drags him back to Hogwarts so that he can begin his yearly ritual of “placing children in mortal danger.” The producer notes that at Hogwarts “they really don’t teach anything except how to die a horrible death,” so Harry and the gang “spend way too much time on teenage romance.”  But things are so lax at Hogwarts that Harry nearly kills Draco Malfoy until Snape saves him but Harry isn’t punished for this.

[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Chris Barkley, Daniel Dern, Bill, Steven French, Cora Buhlert, John A Arkansawyer, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Joe H.]

SFWA Launches Indie Pub 101 Resource Hub

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association (SFWA) has launched the first wave of resources for Indie Pub 101, a new section of the SFWA.org website. Developed by the SFWA Independent Authors committee, Indie Pub 101 provides up-to-date resources for independent authors, so they can improve their craft, produce professional books, and promote their work competitively in the digital marketplace.

Whether veterans of traditional publishing or brand-new authors with debut books in hand, independent authors, also known as self-publishing authors, must take on the multiple roles of designer, publisher, and publicist, which can be daunting. Indie Pub 101 will help. Its first three sections are now available at SFWA.org

  • Making the Book delves into the nuance of turning written text into an actual product.
  • Sales Channels walks authors through how and where to sell their product.
  • Marketing the Book primes authors for the daunting task of driving interested readers to their work. 

These resources draw from the varied and expansive knowledge of the members of the SFWA Independent Authors Committee. Future installments will include resources that help indie authors design and draw attention toward their author websites and share the benefits and challenges of becoming a small business themselves. 

For questions, email indie-authors@sfwa.org.

[Based on a press release.]

SFWA Announces 2022-2023 Board Members

The Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers Association Board of Directors effective July 1 is made up of the following members:

President: Jeffe Kennedy (2021–2023)

Vice President: John Murphy (2022–2024)

Secretary: Jasmine Gower (2022–2023)

Chief Financial Officer: Erin Hartshorn (2022–2024)

Directors-at-Large: Monica Valentinelli (2022–2024), Jordan Kurella (2022–2024), Remy Nakamura (2021–2023), Christine Taylor-Butler (2021–2023), and José Pablo Iriarte (2021–2023).

The Directors and Officers who left the SFWA Board on June 30 were Nathan Lowell (CFO), Tobias S. Buckell (Vice President), Adam Rakunas (Secretary), and Phoebe Barton (Director-At-Large). Lowell, Buckell, and Barton had completed the terms they were elected to in 2020.

Pixel Scroll 7/2/22 Scroll On, Pixel Off

(1) HEARING BUTLER’S VOICE. “’Keep Your Own Counsel’: Talking Octavia E. Butler with Lynell George” at Public Books.

In 2020, journalist and essayist Lynell George published A Handful of Earth, A Handful of Sky: The World of Octavia Butler (Angel City Press). This magnificent book—which George explains is not a biography of Butler nor a work of literary theory—beautifully weaves together selected pieces from Butler’s archives, including library slips, receipts, journal entries, lists, and more, alongside George’s own meditations on writing to offer up not the celebrated author we recognize today, but rather how she came to be…

SAP: In 2015, you were commissioned by Julia Meltzer to create a “posthumous interview” for the L.A.-based art nonprofit Clockshop for a retrospective of Butler’s work and legacy. You write in the introduction to A Handful of Earth, A Handful of Sky: The World of Octavia E. Butler that you “needed to hear Butler at her most conversational,” and that the Butler who appeared in her fiction, essays, and speeches did not represent the voice you were after.

What was that experience working in the archives like? How did the work that you began with in the posthumous interview inform or transform into the offering you later presented in A Handful of Earth, A Handful of Sky

LG: I was looking for Butler in her quietest, unguarded moments. In fiction, Butler was attempting to inhabit the mind of various protagonists and antagonists. So I was looking for her, who she was on the page when she wasn’t building a character from the ground up.

Once I settled into the archives, I began getting a sense for where I might find that voice. That was in the diaries, journals, and letters. I later found more of it in her marginalia, where she encouraged herself or expressed her worries out loud….

(2) BUTLER’S IMPACT. Sasha Ann Paranam introduces Public Books’ series commemorating Octavia Butler’s 75th birthday, of which the preceding interview is a part, in “The World Continues to Need Octavia E. Butler”.

Everywhere we turn in the midst of unrelenting crises—the coronavirus pandemic, the ongoing twin pandemics of anti-Black and anti-Asian violence, ecological devastation, and the collapse of democracy—new projects and returns inspired by the writer and visionary Octavia E. Butler abound. On September 3, 2020, Butler’s Parable of the Sower (1993) made the New York Times bestseller list 14 years after her death, at last fulfilling her own prophecy that she would become a best-selling writer. In June 2020, Library of America revealed plans to release a volume on Butler edited by Nisi Shawl and Gerry Canavan. That same month, adrienne maree brown and Toshi Reagon launched Octavia’s Parables, a podcast that takes listeners through both Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents (1998). Much more recently, almost 15 years to the day since Butler died, on February 18, 2021, NASA landed its Perseverance rover on the surface of Mars and named the location where the rover touched down the Octavia E. Butler Landing.

It’s Butler’s world, and we’re just living in it…. 

(3) HAS HISTORY OVERTAKEN FICTION? C.C. Finlay told Facebook readers, “I studied Constitutional history in grad school in the mid-90s, and it seemed obvious to me where the right intended to go on this issue and how they intended to get there. So I specifically had the idea for this short story around 1999 and wrote it in 2000. But it took me a decade to get it published in a magazine because editors kept telling me it was too unrealistic. It’s still my most rejected story, and I wish I had kept copies of all the rejection letters I received for it. I also wish I had been wrong.” Read “Your Life Sentence” by C C Finlay at Futurismic. The introduction says:

There are many different types of science fiction, from the classic Competent Men in their gleaming spaceships to the noir-tinged dystopic cities of cyberpunk. C C Finlay‘s “Your Life Sentence” is another type again, and maybe one of the most important and powerful – the sort that asks “what will happen if this carries on?”, but which asks it about something that’s – all too sadly – well within the boundaries of the possible.

Though I believe he started writing it before then, we received Charlie’s story not long after the announcement that the House and Senate of the State of Utah had passed a bill that would criminalise miscarriage. A dark serendipity, perhaps, but it makes “Your Life Sentence” one of the most timely stories we’ve ever published here. I hope you enjoy it.

(4) SFWA HEADCOUNT. SFWA’s latest message says, “Since our new membership guidelines went into effect in March, we’ve added over 200 new members to our ranks!”

(5) THEY LOVE IT. Critics Angelica Jade Bastién and Kathryn VanArendonk discuss their mutual admiration of the newest Star Trek television series, Strange New Worlds at Vulture: “’Strange New Worlds’ Is ‘Star Trek’ As It’s Meant to Be”.

KVA: I am 100 percent onboard with your assessment that Strange New Worlds is the best the franchise has been for a long time. The thrill of Discovery and Picard was always wrapped up in the potential of streaming TV more broadly: What could TV be if it weren’t so stuck inside the commercial constraints of network television? What if it didn’t have to bend to episodic limitations or act breaks that could squeeze in ads for new cars? That frontier seemed so exciting and so wide open, and given the approach to other genre franchises (and to shiny, expensive TV more generally), it was not hard to feel excited about what a modern-era Star Trek could be. It could be heavily serialized; it could be grimdark and finally take stuff seriously; it could jettison all the goofy side plots where everyone just sits around playing poker and Data talks about his relationship to cat ownership. And sure, all of that is very exciting in the way that anything you’ve never seen before sounds like a fun new experience….

(6) VINTAGE ELLISON. Been awhile since you heard a Harlan Ellison rant? Weren’t in the market to hear one now? Then skip to the next item. Or maybe you’re ready to appreciate this classic from a 1964 fanzine recently scanned and uploaded to Fanac.org, Enclave 6. Ellison tells edited Joe Pilati:

…I have been writing since 1956 I have sold somewhere over five hundred short stories and articles, thirteen books, a dozen or so tv and movie scripts, and have contributed a staggering number of long-since forgotten items to fanzines. I have had novels I’ve titled “Web of the City” and “The Sound of a Scythe” emerge as Rumble and The Man With Nine Lives. I have had collections that left my desk labeled “Children of the Gutters” and “No Doors, No Windows” show up on newsstands as The Juvies and Gentleman Junkie. I have seen twenty thousand words ripped bodily, bloodily, and insensate from the very center of a novel carefully written over a year’s time. I have had to suffer the letter column castigations of readers who were annoyed by a butchered story, changed- by an editor on caprice, whim, or personal blind spot. I have shrank back and shriveled in nameless terror at the casual typos in the largest magazines, which rendered my excruciatingly-painstakingly selected semantics into gibberish. (For examples I had a story in a recent issue of Knight magazine. It is, I think, a superior story, not only for me, but for anyone. Modesty enters into this not at all. The story speaks for itself. It is called ’’Blind Bird, Blind Bird, Go Away From Me!” I sold it to Knight rather than to a better market, because the deal involved three facets? (1) There be no editing of any sort. (2) The Dillons, Leo and Diane, who are my dearest friends and the cover artists of several of my books and a number of stories, do the layout, typography, and artwork. (3) They pay me two hundred dollars more than the toppest price they ever paid any other writer. They agreed to all this, and I wrote the story. At one point in the narrative, there is a flashback in which a man recalls how he stole money from his mother’s pocketbook while she was sleeping in the bedroom of their home. How he got down on his stomach and inched across the rug to the purse so she would not hear him and Wake up. For this motion I devised the word “pullcrawled,” a special sort of crablike movement employing knees and elbows you may have used, if you have ever run an infantry infiltration course. The typo, as it appears in the magazine, is ’’bullcrawled.” It means nothing. I was not given the opportunity to read the galleys from that story before it went into print.)…

(7) TOTORO GETTING THE SHAKESPEAREAN TREATMENT. Open Culture reports on how “Hayao Miyazaki’s My Neighbor Totoro Is Getting Adapted for the Stage by The Royal Shakespeare Company & Jim Henson’s Creature Shop”.

… Now, almost three and a half decades after Totoro‘s original release, the production of a stage version is well underway. Playbill‘s Raven Brunner reports that the show “will open in London’s West End at The Barbican theatre for a 15-week engagement October 8-January 21, 2023.

The production will be presented by the Royal Shakespeare Company and executive producer Joe Hisaishi.” Japan’s most famous film composer, Hisaishi scored Totoro as well as all of Miyazaki’s other Ghibli films so far, including Porco RossoPrincess Mononoke, and Spirited Away (itself adapted for the stage in Japan earlier this year).

… the RSC production of Totoro also involves Jim Henson’s Creature Shop. “The puppets being built at Creature Shop are based on designs created by Basil Twist, one of the UK’s most innovative puppeteers,” writes Deadline’s Baz Bamigboye, and they’ll be supplemented by the work of another master, “Mervyn Millar, of Britain’s cutting-edge Significant Object puppet studio.” …

(8) MEMORY LANE

2000 [By Cat Eldridge.] So on the surface, this novel is merely about fox hunting set in a Virginia rural community. If it was just that, it would be mildly interesting and not really something that that I’d essay here. Oh, but Rita Mae Browne who wrote the very long running Mrs. Murphy series with SWJ cred Sneaky Pie in them has a very interesting twist here.

The twist here is that is she gives voice to all of the creatures with the novels — the foxes who are hunted (and rest assured that these are no kill hunts), the hunt dogs, the felines in the houses, the horses and even the owls. Each have their own unique personalities, their charming voices.

Now I’ll admit that I listened to Outfoxed and the novels that follow so each character in this novel was narrated by the author. She very, very obviously relished telling her story. Since the late Seventies, she has lived in Charlottesville and the accent that we hear here is definitely that of Virginia. 

If you like anthropomorphic tales, you’ll certainly find much to like here. The animal characters are quite likeable, particularly the foxes and owls. The humans are, oh, mostly interesting. Sister Jane is the only one that really get developed as a character.

It’s the first of fourteen novels in this series. I’ve listened to the first nine so far. 

Trigger warnings: the characters here, well the humans of course, are conservative Virginians and express cultural and political beliefs of that bent. I found them somewhat annoying but understood why she had them as part of the narrative. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 2, 1908 — Rip Van Ronkel. Screenwriter who won a Retro Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation at Millennium Philcon for Destination Moon. He also produced the earlier Destination Space movie for television, andwrote the screenplay for The Bamboo Saucer. I’ve not seen the latter but I’ll admit it sounds, errr, odd. Audience reviewers at Rotten really don’t like it giving an eighteen percent rating. (Died 1965.)
  • Born July 2, 1914 — Hannes Bok. He’s a writer, artist and illustrator created nearly one hundred and fifty covers for various detective, fantasy and sf fiction magazines. He shared one of the inaugural 1953 Hugo Awards for science fiction achievement for Best Cover Artist with Ed Emshwiller.  He also wrote a handful of novels, the best known being The Sorcerer’s Ship, The Blue Flamingo and Beyond the Golden Stair. (Died 1964.)
  • Born July 2, 1933 — Gloria Castillo. She first shows up in a genre role in Invasion of the Saucer Men (which also bore the title of Invasion of the Hell Creatures). Later she would be in Teenage Monster, and had an appearance on Alfred Hitchcock Presents. (Died 1978.)
  • Born July 2, 1948 — Saul Rubinek, 74. Primarily of interest for being on Warehouse 13, a fantastic series, as Artie Nielsen, though he does show up rather often on genre series and films including EurekaMasters of HorrorPerson of InterestBeauty & the BeastStargate SG-1The Outer Limits and Star Trek: The Next GenerationMemory Run and Death Ship seem to be his only genre films. His latest genre role is in For all Mankind as Rep. Charles Sandman in their “He Built the Saturn V” episode. 
  • Born July 2, 1950 — Stephen R. Lawhead, 72. I personally think that The Pendragon Cycle is by far his best work though the King Raven Trilogy with its revisionist take on Robin Hood is intriguing. And I read the first two of the Bright Empires series which are also very much worth reading. 
  • Born July 2, 1951 — Elisabeth Brooks. She is no doubt best remembered for her role as the evil, leather-clad siren Marsha Quist in The Howling. Her other genre appearances included Deep SpaceThe Six Million Dollar ManKolchak: The Night Stalker and The Forgotten One. (Died 1997.) 
  • Born July 2, 1956 — Kay Kenyon, 66. Writer of the truly awesome The Entire and the Rose series which I enjoyed immensely as a listening experience a few years back. I’ve not read his Dark Talents series, so opinions please. He was nominated for three Endeavour Awards which is very impressive. The Braided World was a finalist for the Campbell Memorial Award.  
  • Born July 2, 1970 — Yancy Butler, 52. Detective Sara Pezzini on the Witchblade series which would’ve been awesome with current CGI. She was later Avedon Hammond in Ravager, Captain Kate Roebuck in Doomsday Man, Angie D’Amico in Kick-Ass and Kick-Ass 2, Reba in Lake Placid 3 and Lake Placid: The Final Chapter, Officer Hart in Hansel & Gretel Get Baked (also known as Black Forest: Hansel and Gretel and the 420 Witch) (given the latter, a career low for her) and Alexis Hamilton in Death Race 2050. Series work other than Witchblade was a recurring role as Sgt. Eve Edison in Mann & Machine inher first genre role. 

(10) COMICS SECTION.

(11) IS THAT WHAT’S BOTHERING YOU, DEBUNKIE? The Skeptical Inquirer presents “Kermit Pattison – Fossil Men: The Quest for the Oldest Skeleton and the Origins of Humankind” in a webinar on July 7. Free registration at the link.

It seems like every time we feel like we know how it all started for Homo sapiens another new discovery rewrites our understanding of who we are and where we come from. Why do major paradigm shifts so regularly disrupt our understanding of human origins? 

On Thursday, July 7 at 7:00pm ET, on the next Skeptical Inquirer Presents live online event, acclaimed science writer Kermit Pattison will show how the scientific history of human evolution can be viewed as a long series of debunkings. A century and a half after Darwin, our knowledge of the evolution of our species has advanced far beyond the most optimistic aspirations of the founders of evolutionary biology.

Pattison will discuss what our history of studying ourselves reveals about scientific progress in general—and the pursuit of human origins in particular. Based on the ideas behind Pattison’s book Fossil Men: The Quest for the Oldest Skeleton and the Origins of Humankind, this talk will examine some of the major chapters in the study of human evolution, the rise and fall of popular theories, and how skeptics can become more informed, intelligent consumers of scientific information. 

Free registration is required to take part in this live Zoom event, so sign up right now.

(12) NOT EVEN FIFTEEN MINUTES. “Twenty-six seconds of fame: how Doctor Strange got upstaged by an overacting extra” in the Guardian. See the video clips at the link.

…Quantum of Solace, for instance, had a troubled production. And perhaps this is why one scene that made the final cut included a shot of the world’s least employable road sweep. You can see him in the background while James Bond broods on a motorbike, sweeping up with grit-jawed concentration, while steadfastly refusing to let his broom go anywhere near the ground.

The Back to the Future sequels, meanwhile, were shot back-to-back in a giant production that took the better part of a year. And if you were in charge of overseeing a gargantuan task like that, there’s a good chance that you would accidentally let mistakes slip through the net. And this is why, in a clip you will never be able to unsee, at one point in the film Doc Brown’s young son beckons the camera towards him so that he can point directly at his crotch. The official story is that he was discreetly attempting to tell the crew that he needed the toilet, but now it is part of cinema history.

There are dozens of other examples, but I’ll leave you with my favourite two. Hulk Hogan’s 1993 Kindergarten Cop rip-off Mr Nanny is not a film that ever needs to be rewatched, except for a long scene where Hogan rides his Harley-Davidson around aimlessly. Because this is where, perhaps entirely by accident, he passes a man who is right in the middle of flinging his dog into the sea. The dog-flinging has an authentic flourish to it, like the man is truly done with being a pet owner. A scene this disturbing has no place in a film like Mr Nanny. However, Mr Nanny is all the better for it.

And, finally, there is the crowd scene in Tom Cruise’s The Last Samurai where a horse loses its temper and kicks an extra in the testicles. A simple gesture, but an important one….

(13) SUPER SEASON THREE. “Stargirl Is Back In First Look Teaser For ‘DC’s Stargirl’ Season 3 – Watch Now!” urges Just Jared Jr.

DC’s Stargirl follows high school sophomore Courtney Whitmore as she inspires an unlikely group of young heroes to stop the villains of the past. This new drama reimagines DC’s Stargirl and the very first superhero team, the Justice Society of America, in an unpredictable series.

(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In this video, which dropped in late May, the Royal Ocean Film Society looks at the pulpy movies of American International Pictures’s James Nicholson and Samuel Z. Arkoff, who realized in the late 1950s that the way to get people into theatres was to test the titles with focus groups and then make the picture. This is why these films have great titles (one distributor referred To I Was A Teenage Werewolf as a million-dollar title for a $100,000 picture, but the films were often so poor that one exhibitor suggested they “put sprocket holes on the poster and show that.” Still, the video explains why these monster, teen, and teenage monster movies rotted Baby Boomer brains in the late 1950s. “Why This 1950s Studio Made Movies Backwards”.

[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, 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 Rob Thornton.]

Introducing the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association 

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Inc. has successfully filed to do future business as the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association (SFWA). The nonprofit organization has adopted this new name for most professional purposes. Doing so allows SFWA to be more inclusive of its many international members. 

Over a quarter of SFWA’s 2,300+ members live and/or work in non-USA countries and territories. Changing the name is not only a part of the natural progression of the organization, it recognizes that SFWA has grown beyond a once USA-centric focus. This is a work-in-progress, but one that SFWA has committed to through the adoption of its new name.

SFWA President Jeffe Kennedy says, “This is an exciting time that we can expand the name of our organization to reflect its core values and true membership. At last our name reflects our mission, which is something many people have been working toward for a long time. This is a milestone moment worthy of celebration.”

SFWA’s website and social media accounts are being updated with new logos to reflect this change. Communications going forward will use “Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association” rather than “Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.” 

In answer to the question “Why didn’t we completely change our name, rather than file to ‘do business as’ The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association?” the organization says:

“Taking this path is a simple and legal solution that also allows SFWA to pay respect to our rich, 57-year history. Additionally, it does not require the monumental effort to change our incorporation status and bylaws with California or within the IRS. Doing business as the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association will allow us to comply with fundraising laws across all the United States and its territories, while also recognizing the contributions of international members to our community.

“SFWA is still SFWA, but with this change, we’re more clearly open to creators of science fiction and fantasy no matter what country they call home and what new dimensions and worlds they can imagine.”

[Based on a press release.]

SFWA Membership Applications Open Under New Guidelines

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Inc. (SFWA) recently revised their requirements for Full and Associate membership in the organization. SFWA looks forward to welcoming speculative fiction creators for whom these new guidelines will allow them to join their peers as members in promoting, advancing, and supporting the science fiction and fantasy genres and creators.

The revisions are the result of a bylaws change this past winter, as voted by SFWA members, and the new requirements went into effect in March. The goal of these changes is to allow the SFWA Board to set requirements based on current industry standards, to simplify the guidelines to make them more inclusive, and to recognize the diversifying income streams of speculative fiction creators.

The SFWA Board has set the following requirements for Full and Associate Members:

A candidate shall be eligible for Full Membership if:

  • Their catalog of paid work in science fiction, fantasy, or related genres equals or exceeds an industry standard set by the Board. ($1000 USD)
  • For co-authored works or team projects, the candidate’s share must equal or exceed an industry standard set by the Board. ($1000 USD)
  • Proof of earnings will be guaranteed by affidavit.

A candidate shall be eligible for Associate Membership if:

  • Their catalog of paid work in science fiction, fantasy, or related genres equals or exceeds $100 USD.
  • For co-authored works or team projects, the candidate’s share must equal or exceed $100 USD.
  • Proof of earnings will be guaranteed by affidavit.

Works claimed for membership must be in the English language. The earnings can come from any combination of categories that SFWA recognizes as eligible to join the organization, including traditional, indie, work-for-hire, and self-publishing creators who work with prose, games, comics, graphic novels, screenwriting, and other forms of speculative fiction storytelling.

There are no changes to membership requirements for Affliate, Senior, and Lifetime SFWA members at this time. The complete membership requirements and application, along with FAQs, can be found here at the SFWA website: https://www.sfwa.org/about/join-us/sfwa-membership-requirements/

President Jeffe Kennedy remarks, “It’s truly a privilege to be the president of SFWA when we are finally able to realize the culmination of long years of effort to update our requirements for membership! Our new system embraces the myriad mediums and career paths of our genre creators today and in the future. I’m excited to welcome every new member who can now join us, thanks to the work of past administrations and the willingness of our members to look to the future of SFF publishing.”

SFWA invites all eligible science fiction and fantasy creators to apply! For questions, email office@sfwa.org.

[Based on a press release.]

HWA Sends Members Email Scam Alert

The Horror Writers Association today published a “Warning: Email Scam Alert”:

The HWA is aware members are being sent unsolicited emails from a company claiming they’ve selected people for a medical writing interview, or some variant. Of course, these did not originate and have not been okayed by the HWA. DO NOT REPLY!

Other writing organizations are also reporting their memberships have been targeted.

Sit tight, don’t reply, and our web team are looking into this now. We will make any further statements necessary as we discover more

Dozens of HWA members have reported receiving an email like this one:

Another writers’ organization, SFWA, recently announced that its Members-Only Directory info was copied and exposed online.

[Thanks to Anne Marble for the story.]

Barkley — So Glad You (Didn’t) Ask: A Column of Unsolicited Opinions #66

Interrogatives Without Answers: Mercedes Lackey and Stephanie Burke     

By Chris M. Barkley:

“Falsehood will fly, as it were, on the wings of the wind, and carry its tales to every corner of the earth; whilst truth lags behind; her steps, though sure, are slow and solemn, and she has neither viguor nor activity enough to pursue and overtake her enemy…” — Thomas Francklin, 1787

The past two weekends have seen two separate upheavals in our sf community.

Both incidents involve well known and well liked members of our family and both incidents have left them shaken, dispirited and their reputations seemingly in tatters.

So, before I start, I would like to clarify my relationships with the focus of this introspective discourse: Mercedes Lackey and Stephanie Burke.

Zero. Zip. Nada. Zilch.

I have never met either Ms. Lackey or Ms. Burke. Nor have I exchanged emails, texts, phone calls or even pleasantries in passing at a convention.    

As a reader, I am totally unfamiliar with either of their works, although as a professional bookseller for many years, I have witnessed many sales of Ms. Lackey’s works and the testimonials of many readers and fans who have praised and loved her works. I am totally unfamiliar with Ms. Burke’s work.

But let’s remember this important fact; Mercedes Lackey and Stephanie Burke are real people. 

They are as human as you and I. 

They have feelings, wants and desires just like you and me.

They are not abstract concepts. And yet, what I have seen and read over the past thirteen days have alarmed and angered me to no end. Because I guarantee what has been said and written about them would never be repeated in person to their faces. Because the things being said against them are so terrible that the perpetrators must view them at non-entities, lest they be consumed by their own shame. 

Our mutual communities, in fandom and on the professional writer’s side, have had a big problem that has been simmering for the past few years and now boiled over in a way that we cannot ignore any longer.

From the earliest days of sf fandom, there have been people who have merited being either sanctioned or banned from community activities. In those days, people who were disruptive or misbehaved were either exposed through fanzine reports, informal gossip or “whisper campaigns”.

But, as technology advanced, so did the activities of bullies and malcontents spread and became prolific as well. 

To our credit, fandom and the professional communities have become more diverse and welcoming to those who were previously either marginalized or openly discriminated against in the past.

To openly confront and combat abusive behavior this past decade, groups and conventions have implemented a standard “Code of Conduct” for activities, which specifies what is acceptable behavior and outlines the penalties for violations.

This innovative move was universally welcomed, especially in the wake of the Sad/Angry/Rabid Hugo Awards debacle of 2013-2016.

The typical Code of Conduct used by conventions today are not legally enforceable pieces of law. They do however, allow any public or private group to take action against an attending individual (or a group) that violates these rules.

On May 22, the 2022 Nebula Awards Conference and sf fandom were rocked when Mercedes Lackey was removed from any remaining sessions of the programming she had been scheduled for by administrators. 

A day earlier, Ms. Lackey, while discussing the works of African American fantasy and sf author Samuel R. Delany during a panel titled “Romancing Sci-Fi & Fantasy”, uttered the word “colored” as a racial description of Mr. Delany.

SWFA addressed the posted the following statement that same day:

We learned yesterday that while participating in the “Romancing Sci-Fi & Fantasy” panel, Mercedes Lackey used a racial slur. First, we apologize to our attendees and the other panelists who were subjected to that slur. We’ve disabled access to the panel to avoid any additional harm being caused.

Second, we are immediately removing Mercedes Lackey from the conference and the additional panels she was scheduled for, in accordance with SFWA’s Moderation Policy. The use of a racial slur violates the instruction to “Respect all cultures and communities. Do not make derogatory or offensive statements even as a joke.” That applies to everyone in a SFWA space, at all levels of their career.

Third, we will be discussing with the other panelists for “Romancing Sci-Fi & Fantasy” how they would prefer we proceed when they are able and comfortable in doing so. We will be offering to edit out the offensive portion of the panel or hold the panel again at a later date, inviting back the other three panelists and moderator to again take part. We will respect their wishes on how to handle this issue while also sharing the invaluable expertise they offered during the discussion.

SWFA’s Moderation Policies, linked here clearly state that the “Moderator” is the person in charge of any panel and additionally:

Moderator decisions are final and non-negotiable. If you feel someone is being censured unfairly and have new information to add, please navigate to the Nebula Conference Online website, and on the bottom, right-hand corner of your screen, please select the “Request Help” button. (https://events.sfwa.org/moderation-policies/)

You will note that there is no explicit promise of a formal investigation in case something happens. Everything seems all cut and dried as far as the Nebula Conference administrators were concerned. 

Except that it wasn’t, not by a long shot.

Ms. Lackey’s friends and colleagues came to her defense. Her detractors said that she broke the rules and actually got off easy because she was promptly and quickly sanctioned and did not have to forfeit her Grand Master designation.

Author Jen Brown, who was on the panel in question and was among the first to report her dismayed and deeply offended reaction to Ms. Lackey’s utterance on her Twitter feed, has been viciously and repeatedly harassed and attacked online by both Lackey supporters and trolls. 

Other parties involved have been heard from; Samuel Delany (who is a friend of Ms. Lackey) has stated on his Facebook page that he felt no ill will and that she meant no deliberate offense, 

Prominent Black sf author Steven Barnes felt that her use of the term was a mild offense at best and said that SFWA owed Ms. Lackey an apology.

Writer and critic K. Tempest Bradford, who opined that while Mr. Delany is entitled to his point of view, but even in this day and age, the casual usage, whether it was intentional or not, is totally unacceptable in any context. 

Mercedes Lackey issued a formal apology on May 24th, in which she said:

On a panel at the 2022 Nebulas, I had the chance to celebrate authors who wrote positive gay characters long before me.

Chip Delany is obviously a major player in that game. Because there are two Samuel Delanys–there’s one from Texas–I wanted to make sure people got hold of the right one. So, in my excitement, I got caught in a mental/verbal stumble between “black” and “person of color,” and as best I can remember, what came stuttering out was something like “spcolored.”

I’m not an amazing speaker. I stammer, I freeze up, & I get things wrong. I am sorry that I bungled a modern term while bringing attention to an amazing black creator.

When all of this was going down, I could have easily unsheathed my verbal saber and heedlessly joined in like everyone else about who was right, who was wrong and provided some additional commentary about the situation.

But I did not. I was hoping, in vain as it turns out, that SFWA would conduct a thorough investigation and release the results to all of the parties involved and to the public at large, to tamp down on the hate and disinformation spreading about this incident.

And then, last weekend at Balticon 56, it happened again.

On Sunday, May 29th, Stephanie Burke, a well known local author and a regular Balticon panelist for many years, was accused of making racist and transphobic remarks and was summarily relieved of her remaining panels.

The panel in question, “Diversity Readers and Why You Need Them”, was moderated by Sarah Avery and featured Ms. Burke, Shahid Mahmud, Craig Laurance Gidney, Brandon Ketchum and Christine Sandquist.

Ms. Avery said in a May 31 File 770 comment that also appeared on her Twitter account that she was stuck in traffic that morning and was ten minutes late for the panel. She wrote:

I’ve been playing back my recollections of the panel from the moment I did arrive, trying to match things Stephanie said with the adjectives in her account of the accusations against her. As a white cishet woman, I know I am not optimally attuned to what is hurtful to all the kinds of people whose lives are unlike mine. (The reason I volunteered to moderate a panel on why writers need diversity readers is that I knew I specifically was a writer who needed them.) Until I can find out more about the contents of the complaint, I’m not able to make any kind of declaration on either the complainant’s assertions or Stephanie’s about the diversity readers panel.

In other words, the origin of the complaint against Ms. Burke was not witnessed by the moderator of the panel. We can only guess who the complainant is and what the offense was.

Ms. Burke was, in a statement by the Con Chair, Yakira Heistand  said the following:

An incident was reported to us regarding Ms. Burke. The plan was to quietly ask her to step down from her panels for the weekend while we had a chance to investigate. However, an overzealous volunteer decided to remove her from an ongoing panel in a way that caused her embarrassment. This is inexcusable and we deeply apologize.

Ms. Burke alleges that when she was notified of her suspension, she was verbally abused by Programming Division head, Lisa Adler-Golden. When she asked for the source of the allegations against her this is the answer she states that she received:

I asked to hear the recordings and wanted proof to defend myself against hearsay. The program director (possibly referencing Lisa Alden-Golden here) explained that she would have to listen to the recorded panel and explained that sometimes people took statements out of context and that she would check. She went to another room to listen to the recording because she needed a device bigger than a cell phone and later came back to tell me that the panel she listened to was wonderful but the panel on Friday was not recorded. The decision to strip me of the remaining panels and book reading was to stand and that I was being convicted on hearsay alone.

So wait, what? The panel where the alleged offense took place on Friday? Or was it actually the Saturday panel? Exactly what the hell is going on here?  It was also subsequently reported this week that the email from Balticon 56 that was supposed to have been sent to Ms. Burke relieving her remaining panels was actually never sent in the first place.  

On the evening of June 2nd, Lisa Adler-Golden issued the following statement on the Balticon Facebook Page:

So, those are the facts as best as I can ascertain as of June 3rd, 2022.

There are those among you who may think that these are just two isolated incidents that are totally unrelated to one another and that on the whole, the Codes of Conduct being employed by conventions and meetings are doing just fine. 

But, I beg to differ. 

Because while I have my own opinions about what happened in these two cases, it is totally irrelevant in light of a disturbing trend that I have noticed recently.

I’m here to ask a few questions.  Pertinent questions. Important questions.

It’s a call for introspection, for all of us.

Exactly why did the Nebula Conference managers and the “rogue” Balticon staffer go for the nuclear option and unceremoniously dismiss Mercedes Lackey and Stephanie Burke without the benefit of a formal hearing? 

My question to all of the SWFA panelists involved is this; while I know some (or all) of you may/had been shocked and hurt by Ms. Lackey’s comment, do you believe what she said was a casual slip of the tongue or was it deliberate and malicious? After reading her apology, do you have it in your heart to forgive what she said?

And to the person (or persons) who reported Stephanie Burke to Balticon’s Program Ops; what exactly did she allegedly say? Could you have misinterpreted or misunderstood what she said? 

For those of you piling on endlessly to condemn and relentlessly excoriate Mercedes Lackey and Stephanie Burke; is all of this vitriol and denunciations directed at them actually necessary at this point? 

When is enough, actually enough? Today? Tomorrow? Next Week?

In acting in such an arbitrary manner, did the SFWA managers and the Balticon staff members violate their own Codes of Conduct? 

What responsibilities do they have to be more transparent in how they handle these cases? Shouldn’t these established guidelines be under review and possibly changed in light of what’s happened?

All of which leads me to ask this: Are we all going to be subjected to such a rigid and unyielding standard every single time we make a ghastly faux pas when we appear in public or publish something? 

Can you imagine what would happen to you if any of you were in a similar position? Would your partner, friends and acquaintances dare to stand with you? 

Or, would they denounce you?   

Can you, the reader, imagine what Mercedes Lackey and Stephanie Burke are feeling right now? Accused, ridiculed and rejected without an opportunity to defend themselves? 

In the case of an actual verifiable code of conduct offense, does the constant replay of events continue to mentally harm the person who had the courage to make the initial complaint?

Are people thinking about making a CoC complaint given pause when they witness the feeding frenzies like these occurring in the wake of these allegations? 

Have there been other abuses of the Code of Conduct at other conventions that we are unaware of?

How would any of you react if you were in their position? 

As the days have passed in this ongoing nightmare, I have seen comments on Facebook and Twitter that have absolutely mortified me.

I have seen comments by people who suggest that in most cases they are more likely to believe an accuser than the person who has been accused. Or that if someone is actually accused of something, it’s probably true. 

In our system of justice, hearsay, which for legal purposes is defined as: “information received from other people that one cannot adequately substantiate; rumor”, is NOT evidence of wrongdoing. 

And as maligned and flawed as the legal system is, at its very core is one of the best innovations ever invented; the presumption of innocence BEFORE being proven guilty. Because everyone is entitled to a defense, no matter who they are or how they are perceived by the public. It is a fine standard and it should be ours as well.

I propose that we, as a community, fall back on this particular tradition in our reformation of our Codes of Conduct. In this day and age of social media, innuendo, gossip and falsehoods can lead to instant outrage, anger and a trial by internet in which none of us can possibly explain ourselves adequately enough to satisfy anyone.

It is quite evident, at least to me, that in some cases, our Codes of Conduct have been misapplied, zealously pursued or weaponized.

It has been done either by well meaning people who may have overreacted to what may or may not have happened, or by others, maliciously using it to destroy a person’s reputation and self worth. 

Establishing a Code of Conduct is one of the more innovative things we have done in the last decade. In a best case scenario, a Code of Conduct violation led to the expulsion of a well known (and multiple Hugo Award nominated) fan, David Truesdale, for his well documented abusive behavior at MidAmericon II in 2016.

But it has backfired spectacularly at Worldcon 76 (which was held San Jose, CA in 2018), who rightfully barred Jon Del Arroz from the convention for his questionable statements and actions before the convention. But the convention made a mistake when they published their reasons for banning and Del Arroz took offense and sued the convention for defamation. He and the convention eventually settled in June 2021 with a public apology and a $4000 payment.  

I have one anecdote to offer. I was at Balticon 56 last weekend, mainly in support of the Orlando and Buffalo NASFiC bids (in 2023 and 2024, respectively). On my way out of the convention Monday morning, I was stopped by a longtime friend (whom I am not identifying out of respect for their privacy) who told me the following story:

My friend was working and was overheard saying something under their breath while attending to their duties at Discon III, which was held in Washington D.C. this past November. Sometime later, they were approached by an incident response team staff member, who told them that the office had a complaint lodged against them about a racist remark being directed towards an Asian Pacific person and that they were considering asking them to leave the convention.

The friend explained that they recalled making the remark but it had not been directed at the API person, it was made in frustration at a machine that they were working on which malfunctioned and was not working properly.

Eventually, this person, who is both well known, well liked and very hospitable in the fannish community for decades, persuaded the staffer that no offense was meant towards anyone and the matter was dropped. 

But, as the events of the past two weeks have vividly shown us, this could have gone quite differently had the incident been officially reported and publicized widely.

It seems quite evident to me that we urgently need to establish new standards for a Code of Conduct. I recommend that they include the following measures:

  1. When a convention or meeting announces a possible violation of the Code of Conduct, they must stress that the charge is an allegation, not a certain matter of fact. The accused party must be given the presumption of innocence until the conclusion of the investigation and the adjudication of the results by an impartial group, empaneled by the convention to handle these matters.
  2. Either an electronic or physical copy of the Code of Conduct must be checked off by all staff and attendees, which will show and acknowledge they have read and understand CoC (with the option that the document they sign be officially and legally notarized by the convention or event for their legal protection).
  3. NO ONE should be charged under a Code of Conduct violation on a single report of hearsay from an individual, unless there is a recording of the incident or multiple witnesses or verifiable circumstantial evidence of the event.
  4. If it is determined a Code of Conduct violation may have occurred, an investigation should be launched immediately. The investigation must include statements from the accuser, the accused and the impartial person (or persons) conducting the inquiry.
  5. Any Code of Conduct violation must generate a written report, which will be made public after an official investigation is completed.
  6. Investigations should not name the accuser in a public report without consent, but their name should be kept on file and confidential in the official investigation file in case of any legal actions beyond its publication
  7. Any convention that finds the accused party innocent, guilty or finds an inconclusive result of the accusation, will publicize the report as widely and vociferously as possible to demonstrate the transparency of the investigative process.
  8. EVERY convention and conference should strive to record every panel or meeting being held at the event. This should be done not only to check the veracity of any complaints and has the benefit of preserving a record for the sake of prosperity. (Since recording everything would be quite expensive, I would recommend that panelists or designated volunteers use their own cell phones or personal recording equipment to record these sessions).

 These are the actions I strongly recommend we take.

These are the questions we should all be asking ourselves. 

Because Mercedes Lackey and Stephanie Burke are real people. And mark my words, what happened to them will happen again.

And the most important question we should be asking ourselves is how can we prevent this from happening over and over again? 

Because the next victim may be me. 

Or you.

Pixel Scroll 6/2/22 The Left Hand Of Pixelness

(1) NOBEL MEDAL AUCTION. Heritage Auctions is taking bids for the “Dmitry Muratov 2021 Nobel Peace Prize Medal”, being sold to benefit children and their families forced to flee Ukraine and those internally displaced since the start of the war in February. All proceeds will support UNICEF’s humanitarian response for children in Ukraine and neighboring countries.

Dmitry Muratov is the editor-in-chief of the influential Russian news outlet Novaya Gazeta. Bidding will conclude with a live auction at The Times Center in Manhattan on World Refugee Day, June 20.

“The editors of Novaya Gazeta decided it was necessary to help those in desperate need,” says Muratov, who in 1993 co-founded the Moscow-based publication that is now the last independent newspaper in Russia. “Everyone understood that we had to help, and the sale of the Nobel medal through Heritage Auctions gave us a powerful opportunity to help Ukrainian refugees. We hope that everyone around the world supports us and contributes to this movement, however they can.”

Muratov shared the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize with Filipino journalist Maria Ressa. The Norwegian Nobel Committee celebrated their “fight for freedom of expression in a world in which democracy and freedom of the press face increasingly adverse conditions.”

(2) ORIGINS AWARDS HELD OVER TO 2023. The Game Manufacturers Assocation (GAMA) told Facebook readers:

We are not having the Origins Award this year. We will be bringing them back for 2023 and will have information this fall on categories and submission process.

The awards also were not given in 2021, which prompted this comment from Jason Williams:

Can I ask then what happened to all the physical games which were entered as the awards were open for entry in 2021,(this is for game titles produced in 2020) and publishers did invest time and resources on making entries. Maybe those games which were entered need to have awards in 2023 recognized if there are enough staff available then. The fact that in 2021, submissions were accepted, but no awards were ever given, seems pretty wrong. Especially since titles are only able to be entered for the awards in the year they are published and these titles can never be considered for these awards in the future.

GAMA did not reply.

(3) JASON SANFORD. Camestros Felapton continues his series of why-you-should-vote-for each Best Fan Writer finalist with “Jason Sanford: Hugo 2022 Fanwriter Finalist”.

Jason Sanford is a fan journalist, reviewer and award-nominated novelist. He is having a busy year with two different streams of his work being recognised in 2022: he was a Nebula Award & Philip K Dick Award finalist for Best Novel with The Plague Birds and he is a Hugo Award Finalist for Best Fan writer.

As well as being a published fiction writer, Sanford is a prolific fan writer with an active interest in news and invents within fandom and genre publishing…. 

(4) NKWETI Q&A. “Nana Nkweti on Writing Cameroonian American Experiences & Crossing Genres” at Open Country.

Nana Nkweti started writing at nine years old. A sci-fi lover even then, her earliest stories saw her in future worlds, going on space adventures. Like most writers, she was a voracious reader, digging through her father’s books, the good fortune of having a home library. She read everything from fantasy to the realist classics, and began to imagine herself and girls who looked like her reflected in those stories.

It is no surprise then that the 10 stories in her collection Walking on Cowrie Shells centre Cameroonian women. The characters share her intersectional identity, as a Black woman, a hyphenated American, an ethnic African. But the stories also speak to the universal idea of people charting next steps, growing and evolving along the way.

The title “Walking on Cowrie Shells” is a play on the English idiom. She deploys it in the book to embody that sense of being in a threshold, in liminal spaces, of teetering between choices, between cultures or identities. Her characters are tentative; they are about becoming and figuring life out, who they are, who they want to be….

(5) BARRIERS TO PUBLICATION FOR AFRICAN SFF WRITERS. The If This Goes On (Don’t Panic) podcast takes up “Publishing in Africa: Publishing Platforms Or the Lack Therof with Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki”. The cohosts are Alan Bailey, Cat Rambo, Diane Morrison, and Graeme Barber.

In our 3rd audio column about publishing in Africa we chat with Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki about how Africans are being deplatformed within the publishing business. We also discuss the The Emeka Walter Dinjos Memorial Award For Disability In Speculative Fiction. As this episode was recorded before the 2022 Nebulas, we’d also like to congratulate Oghenechovwe on his award.

(6) SAULSON REPORTS ON CONVENTIONS. Sumiko Saulson reports “StokerCon 2022 was like a Black family reunion, but the struggle is far from over” at SF Bayview. Includes quotes from Craig L. Gidney, Steve Van Patten, and L.M. Wood.

…“The best part of going to cons these days is seeing the increase of diverse creators in the community. When I first started going to cons, I was one of a few folks of color. Now I’m one of many. And it feels great!

“I love that there are other Black queer creators out there – such as yourself [referring to Saulson], Kai Ashante Wilson and Marlon James. And even in that cohort, there are immense differences! For years, I wrote my fiction in isolation, collecting rejection slips like some people collect decoder rings. Now, not only is there a readership, there are other authors. It’s a great time to be publishing!” rejoiced Craig L. Gidney, author of the “Nectar of Nightmares.”

Another positive outcome for the new in-person conventions is an increase in POC representation amongst the Guests of Honor. For instance, Floyd Norman, an 86-year-old African American animator, writer, and comic book artist who was the first Black person to be a regular employee on Walt Disney’s animation staff will be the artist guest of honor at WorldCon in Chicago this year….

Saulson also covered the discussion here of SFWA’s removal of Mercedes Lackey from the Nebula Conference:

…In the wake of the incident, the power dynamics remained in play, as older, white authors have flocked to the File 770 article on the situation in defense of Mercedes Lackey, many of them citing Samuel Delaney’s personal lack of offense at the comment in their sometimes mean spirited comments about Jen Brown. Many such comments were removed from the “r/fantasy” Reddit…. 

Many comments weren’t approved for File 770, either, but speaking about the ones that were, including two welcome additions from Saulson, my goal for having that discussion was to let some in the File 770 commenting community who needed to do so alleviate their ignorance, while others came alongside to battle the excuse-makers and set proper boundaries for future discussion. I’ll point to what I said in that discussion:

Introducing the word shibboleth is an unwelcome attempt to ask white people to give intent priority over the clear statements from black people who take offense at the word. Even if Delany or Steve Barnes aren’t condemning Lackey, the status of the word is plain to see.

(7) TIME FOR A ROYAL FLUSH? [Item by Olav Rokne.] Various members of my book club and I have been jabbering away about monarchy in SFF at various points over the past several years. So when we realized that the vestigial monarch of England (and various former vassal states) was marking an arbitrary anniversary of a meaningless ceremony, Amanda and I decided was a good opportunity to talk about the various kings, tsars, emperors, etc. that populate so much SF. So we collaborated with some other folk in pulling this blog post together quickly this week. “The Tsars Like Dust” at the Hugo Book Club Blog.

…Given that there are few places that are still governed by monarchs of anything other than a vestigial variety, it might seem reasonable that few authors choose to engage critically with the consequences of the monarchies they depict. Americans under the age of 244 and British people with no recollection of what things were like before Peterloo don’t have any direct experience with just how truly awful it would be to live in a polity governed by Emperoxes. (Even if there’s a good ruler like Greyland once in a while, they end up being hamstrung by the weight of tradition.) 

Authors seeking to more accurately depict what a space empire might look like should probably look to the few modern-day examples of absolute monarchy that still exist, places like the Sultanate of Oman, the Kingdom of Eswatini, and the Kim Family Protectorate of North Korea. To put it bluntly, in the real world there is a strong correlation between the authority of monarchs, and a lack of human rights, and this is rarely depicted in science fiction….

(8) TONOPAH NEWS. The Westercon 74 in Tonopah program schedule is now online. Strangely, it seems to be in alphabetical order by title of the program item – rather than in chronological order.

The Virtual Program schedule is in chrono order.

(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

2015 [By Cat Eldridge.] Seven years ago this evening, on what was ABC Family, the Stitchers series premiered. The premise is simple: Kirsten Clark, who has been recruited into a covert government operation is to be “stitched” with the memories of people recently deceased to investigate murders. 

It was created by Jeff Schechter who as near as I can tell had little genre background other than Strange Days at Blake Holsey High and Animorphs, but I will single him out for the very non-genre series, Transporter: The Series which was off Luc Besson’s Transporter film. 

Kirsten Clark was played by Emma Ishta. In addition, you’ll recognize two other cast members — Salli Richardson-Whitfield from Eureka who is Magritte “Maggie” Baptiste here and Allison Scagliotti of Warehouse 13 who is Camille Engelson in this series. The only other actor worth noting is Kyle Harris as Cameron Goodkin. 

Stitchers was popular enough that it made through three seasons before getting canceled. It did not accrue a lot of episodes, being treated like a British series as each series had only only ten episodes save the first that had eleven.

So did the critics like it? No, they didn’t. 

Variety’s review was typical: “About as slim as a sci-fi-inspired premise gets, ‘Stitchers’ joins a long list of series built around wide-eyed youths with an unusual skill who are recruited to join a save-the-world-type enterprise. In this case, the protagonist is a beautiful and brilliant Caltech student with temporal dysplasia, which means she doesn’t feel the passage of time. Most viewers, however, will likely feel it acutely while wading through this tired and predictable hour, which centers on a secret program that hacks into the brains of the recently deceased to solve crimes. While its heroine might not know it, skipping ‘Stitchers’ will save you time.”

Collider wasn’t any kinder: “The show’s premise thematically belongs to Syfy, and the cast is very CW, but nothing about Stitchers really comes together for ABC Family. Kirsten is described as emotionally void, and the show shares the same fate. Unfortunately, it doesn’t also happen to be brilliant to offset its other faults. The show is all over the place with its story and its tone, portraying Kirsten as a hacker, and then as a super-sleuth. Though there is some potential and humor present with its minor cast, the series pulls together elements of many other series — like CSI and Bones — without improving upon them. A missed opportunity, Stitchers is looking for signs of life, but hasn’t found them yet.” 

Eighty six percent of audience members at Rotten Tomatoes liked it. Good for them.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born June 2, 1921 Virginia Kidd. Literary agent, writer and editor, who worked mostly is SF and related fields. She represented R.A. Lafferty, Ursula K. Le Guin, Anne McCaffrey, Judith Merril, and Gene Wolfe. She was married to James Blish, and she published a handful of genre short fiction.  Wolfe modeled Ann Schindler, a character in Castleview, in large part on Kidd. (Died 2003.)
  • Born June 2, 1920 – Bob Madle, 102. Helped start his local sf club in 1934, went to what he considered to be the first-ever sf convention in 1936, and attended the first Worldcon (Nycon I) in 1939. Bob Madle named the Hugo Awards. He was the first North American TAFF (Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund) delegate to an overseas con (Loncon, 1957). Twenty years later he was Fan Guest of Honor at the 1977 Worldcon. First Fandom has inducted him to their Hall of Fame, and given him the Moskowitz Award for collecting. He’s a winner of the Big Heart Award).  This post about his centennial birthday two years ago includes photos and a summary of his fannish life in his own words. (OGH)
  • Born June 2, 1929 Norton Juster. Author of The Phantom Tollbooth, it is said that he met Jules Feiffer who illustrates that work when he was taking his trash out. There is of course the superb film that followed. And let’s not forget The Dot and the Line: A Romance in Lower Mathematics, a work well worth an evening spent reading. He wrote a lot of other works, none of which I recognize. (Died 2021.)
  • Born June 2, 1937 Sally Kellerman. You know she was in Star Trek as Dr. Elizabeth Dehner in “Where No Man Has Gone Before”.  But did you know she also appeared on the Twilight ZoneThe Outer LimitsLost HorizonThe InvadersThe Ray Bradbury Theater, and finally Boris and Natasha: The Movie in which she played Natasha Fatale? Quite a genre record, isn’t it? (Died 2022.)
  • Born June 2, 1941 Stacy Keach, 81. Though best known for playing hard-boiled Detective Mike Hammer, he’s got a long association with our genre starting with being The Mountain of the Cannibal God, an Italian horror film. Next up for him was Class of 1999 followed by voicing both Carl Beaumont / Voice of Phantasm in Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, a film I really, really like. More horror, and a really silly title, await him in Children of the Corn 666: Isaac’s Return where The Hollow has a tasteful title which the Man with the Screaming Brain does not provide him. Storm War, also known as Weather Wars, is SF. And then there is Sin City: A Dame to Kill which is a rather nice piece of film making. And yes, he’s been in a televised version of Macbeth playing Banquo.
  • Born June 2, 1965 Sean Stewart, 57. Fantastic author whose Galveston novel that won the World Fantasy Award I highly recommend as well as the Resurrection Man novels. I’ve not read his most recent set of novels, The Cathy’s Book series, but it’s take on augmented reality sounds intriguing.
  • Born June 2, 1979 Morena Baccarin, 43. Very long genre history starting with portraying Inara Serra in Firefly and  Serenity; Adria in the Stargate SG-1 series and the Stargate: The Ark of Truth; Anna in the 2009 version of the series V; Vanessa in the Deadpool franchise; and Dr. Leslie Thompkins in Gotham. She also did an exemplary job of voicing Black Canary in Justice League Unlimited
  • Born June 2, 1982 Jewel Staite, 40. Best known as the engineer Kaylee Frye in the Firefly verse. She was Jennifer Keller in Stargate Atlantis, Catalina in the Canadian series Space Cases, Tiara VanHorn in Honey, I Shrunk the Kids: The TV Show and “Becca” Fisher in Flash Forward. Genre one-offs? Oh yes: The Odyssey (twice), Are You Afraid of The Dark (again twice), The X-FilesSo WeirdSabrina: The Animated SeriesThe ImmortalSeven DaysStargate AtlantisSupernaturalLegends of TomorrowThe Order and The Magicians.

(11) DANGER ZONE. Lawyers, Guns & Money’s Robert Farley compares Pete Mitchell (from Top Gun: Maverick) to Luke Skywalker: “Pete Mitchell and Luke Skywalker”.

… As it happens, the distance between Top Gun and Top Gun: Maverick is 36 years, while the distance between Return of the Jedi and the Last Jedi is 34 years. In both films those numbers are fully realized; Hammill and Cruise each play characters with the weight of three and a half decades on their shoulders. It is perhaps worth mentioning that the mission in Top Gun: Maverick is modeled on nothing so much as Luke Skywalker trench run against the Death Star in A New Hope. I find it awfully interesting that Pete “Maverick” Mitchell and Luke “Red Five” Skywalker each returned to the screen thirty-five years after the completion of their triumphant 80s arcs. I would not have guessed that the former would have been much more favorably received than the latter, and I think it’s worth investigating why….

(12) SFWA AUCTION RESULT. The second SFWA Silent Auction brought in nearly $18,400. Over 200 items, tuckerizations, and virtual sessions were offered. The funds will go to support SFWA’s ongoing work to promote, advance, and support SFF storytelling.

(13) UNFINISHED SYMPHONY. Paul Weimer delves into “the final, and incomplete, work by a master of science fiction and fantasy” — “Microreview [book]: Aspects by John M. Ford” at Nerds of a Feather. But first he issues a warning:

…If reading incomplete books is not your cup of tea, if the fact that this story does end abruptly without resolution, then, honestly, you probably don’t need to continue on with this book review and can go, read The Dragon Waiting or something else. I admit that it poked and prodded at my brain, but I think the book and what it does, what we have of it, is worth discussing, even in an incomplete stage. Inside baseball, perhaps, but it is akin to being shown the first chapters of a book or part of a novella from a friend writer, asking for what they think of it and what works and what does not….

(14) A NICE WAY TO SPEND 100 HOURS. Joe DelFranco is gung ho about Elden Ring: “Review [Video Game]: Elden Ring by From Software” at Nerds of a Feather.

Elden Ring is a vast, seemingly endless experience, that delivers wonders and death at every turn. A hit in all spheres of the industry, loved by fans and journalists both, not just for its generous amount of content but for its ability to transport the player firmly into the Lands Between without loosening its grip for hours on end. From Software has delivered a game that lets the player go on the adventure that they wish without holding their hand, a rarity in video games nowadays; a risk that paid off….

(15) THEY AIM TO PLEASE. The Corridor Crew wants to show you have different the series would be if Stormtroopers could hit what they shoot at: “We Made Star Wars Stormtroopers Accurate”.

Jordan and Fenner set out to correct the most glaring mistake in the original Star Wars trilogy–the lack of affordable health care for the Stormtroopers.

(16) UNLIKELY HERO RETURNS. Willow is an original series streaming on Disney+ beginning November 30.

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Pitch Meeting,” Ryan George says when Dolores Umbridge shows up in the fifth Harry Potter movie, she’s “super-snotty and mean: because she interrupts Dumbledore’s annual speech on the many ways Hogwarts students can die. Also, the vision of Voldemort Harry conjures up is even more terrifying because Voldemort’s wearing a zip-up hoodie!”

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

Pixel Scroll 5/29/22 As Space-Time For Springers Goes By

(1) HYBRID READING SERIES FROM SEATTLE. Clarion West is bringing back their Summer of Science Fiction & Fantasy reading series in 2022. The readings will be held both in-person in Seattle and online. They are free and open to the public. Click on the author’s name below to learn more and to register for the event. All events will be held on Tuesday nights. 

June 21 Susan Palwick
7PM Seattle Public Library
Central Branch
1000 4th Avenue
Supported by the Leslie Howle Instructorship
Susan Palwick (CW ‘85) has published several novels and short story collections, including The Necessary Beggar, Shelter, and Mending the Moon. She is a recipient of the Crawford Award, Alex Award, and Silver Pen Award, and has been shortlisted for the World Fantasy Award, the Mythopoeic Award, and the Philip K. Dick Award.

June 28 P. Djèlí Clark
7PM Seattle Public Library
Central Branch
1000 4th Avenue
Phenderson Djèlí Clark is the award-winning and Hugo, Nebula, Sturgeon, and World Fantasy-nominated author of the novel A Master of Djinn and the novellas Ring Shout, The Black God’s Drums, and The Haunting of Tram Car 015, as well as numerous short stories.

July 5 Fonda Lee
7PM Seattle Public Library
Central Branch
1000 4th Avenue
Supported by the Sally Klages Memorial Instructorship
Fonda Lee is the World Fantasy Award-winning author of the epic urban fantasy Green Bone Saga as well as the acclaimed young adult science fiction novels Zeroboxer, Exo, and Cross Fire. She is a three-time winner of the Aurora Award, and a multiple finalist for the Nebula and Locus Awards.
Register now.

July 12 Tobias Buckell
7:30PM Town Hall Seattle
1119 8th Ave
Supported by the Debbie J. Rose Memorial Instructorship
Tobias S. Buckell is a New York Times Bestselling author and World Fantasy Award winner. His novels and almost one hundred stories have been translated into twenty different languages. His work has been nominated for awards like the Hugo, Nebula, World Fantasy, and the Astounding Award for Best New Science Fiction Author.

July 19 Bill Campbell
7:30PM Town Hall Seattle
1119 8th Ave
Bill Campbell is the author of Sunshine Patriots; My Booty Novel; Pop Culture: Politics, Puns, and “Poohbutt” from a Liberal Stay-at-Home Dad; Koontown Killing Kaper; and Baaaad Muthaz, and he has edited several groundbreaking anthologies. He is the winner of a Glyph Pioneer/Lifetime Achievement Award.

July 26 Annalee Newitz and Charlie Jane Anders
7PM Seattle Public Library
Central Branch
1000 4th Avenue
Supported by the Susan C. Petrey Memorial Fellowship

Annalee Newitz is the author of the book Four Lost Cities: A Secret History of the Urban Age, and the novels The Future of Another Timeline, and Autonomous, which won the Lambda Literary Award. They are also the co-host of the Hugo Award-winning podcast Our Opinions Are Correct.


Charlie Jane Anders is the author of Victories Greater Than Death, as well as Never Say You Can’t Survive, and Even Greater Mistakes. Her other books include The City in the Middle of the Night and All the Birds in the Sky. With Annalee Newitz, she co-hosts the podcast Our Opinions Are Correct.
Register now.

(2) FOX ON SFWA. Just learned this made Fox News two days ago: “Sci-Fi Fantasy writers convention boots author for ‘racial slur’; target says he was not offended”. Their coverage begins:

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) booted award-winning author Mercedes Lackey from a conference over her use of a “racial slur,” even though the Black author to whom she had been referring later said he did not consider the term offensive.

Lackey had allegedly referred to Samuel R. “Chip” Delany, 80, a celebrated author and literary critic (winner of multiple SFWA Nebula awards), as “colored” while praising his work in the “Romancing Sci-Fi & Fantasy” panel at the SFWA Nebula Conference on Saturday, May 21…. 

Fox’s article includes Lackey’s apology, and the screencap of Delany’s Facebook comments.

(3) TALKING ABOUT EVERYTHING. Abigail Nussbaum says it’s a challenge to review something really good, such as the movie Everything Everywhere All at Once. Clearly, it’s a challenge she is equal to:

…Here is a non-exhaustive list of things I could talk about when talking about Everything Everywhere All at Once. I could discuss the fact that this is the first worthwhile showcase that Hollywood has given Yeoh since she burst onto Western audiences’ consciousness twenty-five years ago in Tomorrow Never Dies, and how it shows off not only her skills as an action heroine, but as a dramatic actress and a comedienne. I could mention that matching Yeoh beat for beat is Quan, the former child star who played Short Round in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, who has spent the intervening decades behind the camera as a stunt choreographer, but who returns to the screen now in what should be a star-making turn. I could point out that the film functions as a culmination of two of the early 2020s’ favorite tropes—multiverses and generational trauma—while managing to put its own unique spin on them. I could discuss its myriad references, to everything from Pixar movies to art-house Asian cinema….

And there’s quite a bit more Nussbaum could say – and does – after that excerpt.

(4) ABOUT BARKLEY. Camestros Felapton starts his series of why-you-should-vote-for each Best Fan Writer finalist with Chris Barkley in “Chris M. Barkley: Hugo 2022 Fanwriter Finalist”.

Chris Barkley has been an active voice in fandom for over 40 years. He’s been a volunteer at numerous Worldcons, including being the head of media relations at several and more broadly, he’s been one of those vital people in fandom who does the work to make a group of people with common interests a community….

(5) BAD BATCH. Disney + continues the weekend’s parade of introductory trailers with the Star Wars: The Bad Batch Season 2 Official Trailer.

(6) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

2009 [By Cat Eldridge.] So tonight we have an interesting short film. And no, I had no idea it existed until now.  2081 which is based off of the Kurt Vonnegut’s “Harrison Bergeron” story premiered on this date thirteen years ago at the Seattle International Film Festival. 

The story was first published the October 1961 in the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, and was in his Welcome to the Monkey House collection seven years later.

The cast is James Cosmo, Julie Hagerty, Patricia Clarkson, and Armie Hammer. 

The story is one where a future polity is attempting by any means possible to ensure that everyone is absolutely equal. That’s a bit of a SPOLER I know. 

So what did the critics think of it. Well I didn’t find a lot of them who said anything but I really like what Mike Massie at the Gone with The Twins site said about this half hour film cost that just a hundred thousand to produce: “’What are you thinking about?’ ‘I don’t know.’ The basic plot, adapted by Chandler Tuttle (who also directed and edited) from Kurt Vonnegut Jr.’s short story, is sensational, serving as a warning and as pitch-black satire. The notion of equality taken to hyperbolic extremes is certainly worthy of cinematic translation, as are the various manifestations of crushing governmental control. True freedom requires disparity. Here, however, there are some inconsistencies (such as determining how exactly to make a ballerina, encumbered as she might be with weights chained around her body, perfectly equivalent to a musician). But the use of slow-motion, classical music (featuring the Czeck Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra and a cello solo), limited dialogue, and highly contrasting juxtapositions give this brief yet sharply filmed project an admirable level of artistry. The premise is terribly bleak, but Bergeron’s plight manages to be momentarily hopeful, funny, and provocative as well.” 

Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes really liked it giving it a seventy-three percent rating.

You can watch it here.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born May 29, 1906 T. H. White. Best known obviously for the wonderful The Once and Future King which I read a long, long time ago but still remember quite fondly. Back in the Thirties, he wrote Earth Stopped and its sequel Gone to Ground, sf novels. Gone to Ground contains several fantasy stories which were later reprinted in The Maharajah and Other Stories. ISFDB also lists Mistress Masham’s ReposeThe Elephant and the Kangaroo and The Master as the other novels by him, plus the aforementioned story collection. I know that someone here has read them so do tell me about them please. (Died 1964.)
  • Born May 29, 1909 Neil R. Jones. It is thought that “The Death’s Head Meteor”, his first story, which was published in Air Wonder Stories in 1930, could be the first use of “astronaut” in fiction. He also created the use of a future history before either Robert A. Heinlein or Cordwainer Smith did so. They’re collected in The Planet of the Double SunThe Sunless World and a number of other overlapping collections. He’s a member of the First Fandom Hall of Fame. (Died 1988.)
  • Born May 29, 1939 Alice K Turner. Editor and critic who starting in 1980 served  for twenty years as fiction editor of Playboy. The Playboy Book of Science Fiction which is not available from the usual suspects but which is available at quite reasonable prices in hardcover was edited by her. Snake’s Hands: The Fiction of John Crowley is an expansion of her earlier Snake’s Hands: A Chapbook About the Fiction of John Crowley.  It is available from sellers like ABE Books. (Died 2015.)
  • Born May 29, 1942 Kevin Conway. His first genre role was as Roland Weary in Slaughterhouse-Five with later roles in Lawnmower Man 2: Beyond Cyberspace and Black Knight, neither of which I suspect many of you have seen. You will likely have seen him in The Lathe of Heaven as Dr. William Haber. He played Khalistan on “The Rightful Heir” episode of Next Generation, and had one-offs on Dark AngelLife on Mars and Person of Interest. (Died 2020.)
  • Born May 29, 1947 Julie Cobb, 75. Her first credited role as Yeoman Leslie was in an episode of Trek, “By Any Other Name”. She was the only female Redshirt to be killed in that series. She had roles in The Fantastic JourneyFantasy Island, The Incredible Hulk, a recurring role in Salem’s LotBrave New WorldTucker’s Witch, Starman and The New Adventures of Superman.
  • Born May 29, 1952 Louise Cooper. She wrote more than a dozen works of SFF and was best known for her quite excellent Time Master trilogy. Most of her writing was in the YA market including the Sea Horses quartet and the Mirror, Mirror trilogy. She wrote a lot of short fiction, most of it collected in Creatures at ChristmasThe Spiral GardenShort and Scary! and Short and Spooky!. (Died 2009.)
  • Born May 29, 1987 Pearl Mackie, 35. Companion to the Twelfth Doctor, the actress was the first openly LGBTQ performer prior to the Fourteenth Doctor and the first LGBTQ companion cast in a regular role in Doctor Who. Mackie, says Moffat, was so chosen as being non-white was not enough. Her other notable genre role was playing Mika Chantry in the audiowork of The Conception of Terror: Tales Inspired by M. R. James.
  • Born May 29, 1996 R. F. Kuang, 26. She’s an award-winning Chinese-American fantasy writer. The Poppy War series, so- called grimdark fantasy, consists of The Poppy War which won the Compton Crook Award for Best First Novel, and The Dragon Republic and The Burning God. She’s won the 2020 Astounding Award for Best New Writer.

(8) COMICS SECTION.

  • The Far Side introduces us to the ace of aces.
  • Tom Gauld shared his catoon about authors’ pets.

(9) A TOURIST IN TRANSYLVANIA. Slate’s Marissa Martinelli says Daily Dracula is “Why Hundreds of Thousands of People Are Reading Dracula Together Right Now”.

I keep getting these emails from a guy I’ve never met, who says he got stuck while traveling abroad for work. At first, he seemed to be having a nice time, but lately he’s been describing increasingly weird and disturbing circumstances that make me feel like I should help him out. For once, though, I can rest easy that it’s not a spammer trying to scam me out of some money—it’s Jonathan Harker, protagonist of Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

Dracula Daily is a Substack that emails snippets of the classic horror novel, which takes place over a six-month period, in real time, in the form of the book’s journal entries and letters. The venture is the brainchild of Matt Kirkland, whose previous projects include etching inane tweets into cuneiform tablets and exposing the robotic skeletons lurking beneath your stuffed animals. I spoke to Kirkland about our pal Jonathan, how weird it is that Dracula crawls down walls like a lizard, and the part of the book he’s most excited for readers to experience in email form….

Do you have a sense of what is causing it to take off on Tumblr in particular?

No, I don’t. So much of the posts are about how people are just finding it so funny. We have this dramatic irony of like, “Oh, Jonathan Harker doesn’t know that he’s in Dracula, so he’s not scared enough by going to Dracula’s castle.”

(10) WHEN PEOPLE TAKE THEIR WORK HOME…FOREVER. “U.S. Book Show: The Pandemic and Publishing: How Has Covid Changed the Industry for Good?” asks Publishers Weekly.

…Odom Media Management founder and literary agent Monica Odom was already working from home, expecting a baby, when the pandemic began. “I sold the most books of any year in 2020—and I’m still waiting for them all to publish,” she said. Despite her productivity, she fought “to stay grounded amid the immense collective trauma we were all having, recognizing we were all humans doing this work.” As an aside, she commented, “I did miss the editor lunches.”

That sounds like a throwaway line, yet social distancing highlighted publishing’s reliance on workplace culture. Bogaards suggested the pandemic put “a cap on industry fun,” lowering morale among people who thrive on hard work and literary perks. “The social fabric seems to be fraying at the edges,” Bogaards lamented.

“We’re not having as much fun together, and that does take a toll,” agreed Julia Sommerfeld, publisher of Amazon Publishing and founder of Amazon Original Stories. As remote work developed, she noticed the rise of “a strong online chat culture. The team is always pinging each other and trying to capture that casual conversation. We’re missing the kind of osmosis that happens when we’re all together.”…

(11) STICK A CORK IN IT. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Novelty wines are often not a great idea. For the most part, this Star Trek selection seems to follow that trend, at least according to Ars Technica. “We tasted the expanded collection of Star Trek wines and found them… wanting”.

Picard has now wrapped its second season, with a third currently in production, and the folks behind Star Trek Wines have expanded their collection from two varieties to six. So a second informal wine tasting was clearly in order. And who better to help us in this noble endeavor than Q himself—aka actor John de Lancie—and The Orville writer Andre Bormanis, who launched his career as a science advisor on TNG? They joined a fresh group of tasters (eight people in all) on a cool late spring evening in Los Angeles, where the nibbles were plentiful and the conversation flowed freely. (Wine assessments were anonymous, in keeping with the gathering’s super-casual vibe. And the wine was purchased out of pocket, not gifted for promotional purposes.)  

… Alas, the four new varieties in the Star Trek wine collection fall far, far short of their predecessors. We’ll start with the merely bland and inoffensive: an Andorian Blue Premium Chardonnay and the United Federation of Planets Special Reserve Sauvignon Blanc.

The Andorian Blue is, indeed, blue in hue, no doubt thanks to the addition of a food dye. (“What is this, a substrate for a COVID test?” one taster quipped.) It’s a gimmick that imparts a very slight aftertaste that is all the more noticeable because the wine otherwise barely has any flavor. That’s unusual for a chardonnay. I’m not especially fond of white wines, but good chardonnays are generally light to medium body, crisp, and a bit citrus-y. The Andorian Blue is indeed light, but it’s missing any distinctive flavor notes—other than that unfortunate hint of blue dye….

(12) FIRE UP THE BOILER. Game Rant feels qualified to recommend “5 Great Underrated Steampunk Sci-Fi Movies”. But the second one they name is the Will Smith Wild Wild West, so should we trust them?

… A usual definition of the steampunk genre states that it presents inventions, technologies, or historical events that happened differently in the real world or didn’t exist in the first place. For every well-known steampunk movie, there are many underrated ones that flew under the radar and that every fan of the genre should watch….

Their list begins:

5. Invention For Destruction (1958)

Though many steampunk movies are in the English language, some best, most underrated pieces come from non-English-speaking countries. This Czechoslovakian 1958 movie was directed by Karel Zeman and based on Jules Verne’s work. It is a classic, but is mostly unknown among the general audiences and has barely over 2,000 ratings on IMDb.

The movie shows that when somebody creates an invention that has the power to destroy the world, it’s more than likely that someone evil will try to use it for their own nefarious purposes. The film is visually beautiful — shot on a camera from 1928, it offers the charm of even older movies. What’s more, it will keep the viewers guessing throughout, especially if they’re not familiar with the original source material.

(13) ON THE MARCH. Northwestern University declares this tiny robotic crab is smallest-ever remote-controlled walking robot.

Northwestern University engineers have developed the smallest-ever remote-controlled walking robot — and it comes in the form of a tiny, adorable peekytoe crab. Just a half-millimeter wide, the tiny crabs can bend, twist, crawl, walk, turn and even jump. The researchers also developed millimeter-sized robots resembling inchworms, crickets and beetles. Although the research is exploratory at this point, the researchers believe their technology might bring the field closer to realizing micro-sized robots that can perform practical tasks inside tightly confined spaces.

(14) SCARY VIDEO. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Ghost Dogs” on Vimeo, Joe Capps asks, “If dogs were ghosts, what sort of ghosts would they be?” And “Why would ghost dogs be terrified of Roombas?”

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