Pixel Scroll 8/1/22 The Scrolls Finally Busted Madame Marie For Filing Pixels Better Than They Did

(1) CHICON 8 SITE SELECTION OPENS 8/6. Site Selection Administrator Warren Buff wrote to members today that voting for the location of both the 2024 Worldcon and the 2023 NASFiC will open August 6.

Also that day there will be a Q&A session with the bidders over Zoom (Saturday, August 6, at 12:00 p.m. Central).  The public is welcome to view the Zoom event, however, the committee asks that they request the link by emailing siteselection@chicon.org.

Electronic/online voting will be a new option, alongside paper voting, this year. Chicon 8 has selected ElectionBuddy for this service. An explanation will be given during the Q&A session on the 6th. Members will also be provided documentation online.

(2) FUTURE TENSE. Here is the July 2022 entry in the Center for Science and the Imagination’s  Future Tense Fiction series, published this past Saturday: “All That Burns Unseen,” by Premee Mohamed, a story about the future of fighting wildfires.

The plane had no pilot. Vaughn, who had wandered into the cockpit to find someone to talk to, found herself more startled than shocked by this—after all, her boss had said about half the flights going up to the fires were self-flown—but there had certainly been a pilot when she’d boarded. He must have disembarked in Cold Lake, where they had stopped so briefly that Vaughn hadn’t even bothered unfastening her seat belt. Either way, the Hercules was now, undeniably, flying itself…. 

It was published along with a response essay by Meg Duff, an expert in environmental politics and climate law. “Firefighting chemicals are dangerous for the environment. Can that change?”

(3) WELLER OUT. Columbia College Chicago professor Sam Weller has been terminated following an investigation of accusations of sexual assault reports The Columbia Chronicle. He is a four-time Bram Stoker Award nominee for his work as a Bradbury biographer.

Tenured professor Sam Weller, who was accused of sexual assault by a former faculty member in February, has been terminated by the college.

In an email statement, President and CEO Kwang-Wu Kim announced that Weller, who was an associate professor in the English and Creative Writing Department, was issued a Notice of Dismissal earlier today as a result of the investigation conducted by the law firm Mayer Brown LLP.

“Based on Mayer Brown’s findings that Professor Weller engaged in conduct that violated the college’s sexual harassment and other policies, Provost Marcella David concluded that the conduct warranted termination,” the statement read.

Cara Dehnert, a former associate professor of instruction in the Business and Entrepreneurship Department, accused Weller of sexually assaulting her in her office in 2018 in an article published to Medium Feb. 12.

Dehnert said she spoke with Human Resources in a February 2020 meeting where she told then-Associate Vice President of Human Relations Norma De Jesus “everything,” and provided texts, emails and Facebook messages between her and Weller, but never heard from Human Resources again following the meeting. 

De Jesus resigned from her position at the college two weeks ago on June 24…. 

(4) A REACH THAT EXCEEDS. “’I can’t do superheroes, but I can do gods’: Neil Gaiman on comics, diversity and casting Death” – the Guardian profiles the Sandman creator. Here’s what he thought when he started out:

…“Bear in mind, at this point I’ve written and sold maybe four short stories and [comic miniseries] Black Orchid. And now I’m going to have to do a monthly comic,” he says. “And I have no idea whether or not I can do it. I don’t think I have the engine to write a superhero comic. I’ve watched what Alan Moore does, what Grant Morrison does. These guys have superhero engines, they can do them; I don’t have that.”

Gaiman needed another way in, and it came via a US science-fiction author. “Roger Zelazny did a book called Lord of Light, where he did science-fictional gods who feel like superheroes,” says Gaiman. “It’s set in a world in the future where a bunch of space explorers have given themselves the powers of the Hindu pantheon. I thought: I can’t do superheroes, but I could do god comics. I bet I could get that kind of feeling to happen, and it might feel enough like a superhero comic to fool people.”…

(5) TESTING THE TURING TEST. Mohanraj and Rosenbaum Are Humans podcast episode 39 is about “Ted Chiang and the Metrics of Personhood”.

Surprise! It’s a bonus season 1 episode we’ve been keeping on the back burner! Ted Chiang comes onto the show to have a discussion with Ben about what it means to be a person, whether Alan Turing’s test for artificial intelligence still holds up, and the persistent themes of parenting and religion in Chiang’s work.

Content warning for a potentially ableist use of a congenital disease as an example of the theological problem of innocent suffering.

(6) TRIAL BEGINS. “Penguin Random House-S&S Acquisition Case Goes to Court” – an update from Publishing Perspectives.

It was on November 25, 2020, when it was announced that Penguin Random House‘s parent company Bertelsmann had struck a deal to buy Simon & Schuster for US$2.175 billion.  And it was nine years and a month ago—July 1, 2013—when another merger was completed, the one that brought Penguin and Random House together.

Oral arguments are scheduled to begin today (August 1) in the antitrust suit filed by the United States Department of Justice, a case with which the government proposes to block the merger of PRH and S&S.

The case, being heard by Judge Florence Pan at Washington’s US District Court for the District of Columbia (the Prettyman Courthouse), brings home the fact that those who object to consolidation among the book business’ biggest players aren’t wrong that things actually are moving quite quickly. These two major inflection points are occurring in under a decade.

That’s one reason that this American antitrust trial has a lot of interest for our international readership, of course. The case in Washington is focused on Penguin Random House as the States’ biggest publisher and Simon & Schuster as one of PRH’s sisters in the US “Big Five”—which could become the “Big Four,” if Bertelsmann and Penguin Random House are successful the bid to buy S&S. These industry-leading companies, however, have profound presence in many markets of world publishing, and so, in fact, does an issue on which the government’s case turns very heavily: author compensation.

Author Stephen King is expected to testify at Tuesday’s session: “Stephen King is star witness as government tries to block publishing giants’ merger” reports the Portland Press Herald.

… The government’s star witness, bestselling author Stephen King, is expected to testify at Tuesday’s session of the weekslong trial in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. King’s works are published by Simon & Schuster.

At Monday’s opening session, opposing attorneys for the two sides presented their cases before U.S. District Judge Florence Pan.

Justice Department attorneys called the merger “presumptively wrong” because it would shrink competition and, inevitably, the vital public discourse that books help engender. Penguin Random House countered that the new company would “enhance” competition because the combined company could turn out books more efficiently….

(7) LABORING IN THE VINEYARD. Sharon Lee’s post “In which the authors are working” includes some Trader’s Leap spoilers, should you be in the market for some.

Much like being a Liaden Scout, being a writer is 98% mucking around in the mud, and 2% excitement.

And, after a brief period of excitement, we’re back to Business as Usual, which is exciting enough for those doing the work, but makes for poor telling….

(8) SOMEBODY OWES HIM MONEY. Cory Doctorow explains why he won’t let his books appear on Audible in “Pluralistic: 25 Jul 2022”. The long saga includes this bit of comic relief:

…We’re going to be rolling out a crowdfunding campaign for the Chokepoint Capitalism audiobook in a couple of weeks (the book comes out in mid-September). …And it won’t be available on Audible. Who owe me $3,218.55.

But you know what will be available on Audible?

This. This essay, which I am about to record as an audiobook, to be mastered by my brilliant sound engineer John Taylor Williams, and will thereafter upload to ACX as a self-published, free audiobook.

Perhaps you aren’t reading these words off your screen. Perhaps you are an Audible customer who searched for my books and only found this odd, short audiobook entitled: “Why none of my books are available on Audible: And why Amazon owes me $3,218.55.”

I send you greetings, fellow audiobook listener!

…In the meantime, there is now a Kindle edition of this text:

I had to put this up, it’s a prerequisite for posting the audio to ACX. I hadn’t planned on posting it, but since they made me, I did.

Bizarrely, this is currently the number one new Amazon book on Antitrust Law!

(9) MEMORY LANE.  

1977 [By Cat Eldridge.] Now I’m feeling old as I clearly remember watching this episode, the next-to-last one of the series. Holmes & Yoyo’s “The Cat Burglar“ aired forty-five years ago on this date on ABC. Someone is stealing well loved felines for ransom from wealthy ladies, and Holmes and Yoyo set out to catch the cat stealer. 

Look no one is ever going to accuse Holmes & Yoyo, which lasted a mere thirteen episodes, of being deep or meaningful because it wasn’t. Was it good SF? Not really? Was it a decent detective series? Oh no, but despite that, it was fun to watch. 

And this story was proof of that in, errrr, the number of cats under foot. It’s lightweight and no one but one gets hurt, it’s got John Schuck at his very, very comic best and it’s got cats in it. None of which get hurt. 

I don’t think that series could’ve gone any further than it did as there just wasn’t anything there to build off, was there? To say to the premise was thin would be an understatement. 

I hold that John Schuck is best in his comic roles and that includes his role as Draal on Babylon 5 which had a measure of comedy the way he presented himself. Herman Munster on The Munsters Today may have been his best role ever, and the Lt. Charles Enright character on the McMillan & Wife series (which yes, I watched and liked a lot) had more than a bit of comic relief in it. And I adore his take on M.A.S.H. as Capt. ‘Painless’ Waldowski. I’ve watched that film at least a half dozen times now. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 1, 1862 M.R. James. Writer of some of the best ghost stories ever done. A Pleasing Terror: The Complete Supernatural Writings, released in 2001 from Ash-Tree Press has forty stories which includes the thirty stories from Collected Ghost Stories plus the 3 tales published after that, and the seven from The Fenstanton Witch and Others. It’s apparently the most complete collection of his stories to date. Or so I though until I checked online. The Complete Ghost Stories of M.R. James, over seven hundred pages, is available from the usual suspects for a mere buck ninety-nine! (Died 1939.)
  • Born August 1, 1910 Raymond A. Palmer. Editor of Amazing Stories from 1938 through 1949. He’s credited, along with Walter Dennis, with editing the first fanzine, The Comet, in May 1930. The secret identity of DC character the Atom as created by genre writer Gardner Fox is named after Palmer. Very little of his fiction is available from the usual suspects. Member, First Fandom Hall of Fame. He was nominated five times for a Retro Hugo for Best Editor, Short Form, and once as Best Professional Editor, Short Form. (Died 1977.)
  • Born August 1, 1914 Edd Cartier. Illustrator who received the World Fantasy Award for lifetime achievement, the first artist to receive that honor. His artwork was first published in Street and Smith publications, including The Shadow, to which he provided many interior illustrations, and Astounding Science Fiction, Doc Savage Magazine and Unknown as well. (Died 2008.)
  • Born August 1, 1930 Geoffrey Holder. You’ll likely best remember him for his performance as Baron Samedi in Live and Let Die but he’s also the narrator in Tim Burton’s rather awful Charlie and The Chocolate Factory. He was also Willie Shakespeare in Doctor Doolittle but it’s been so long since I saw the film that I can’t picture his character. And he was The Cheshire Cat in the Alice in Wonderland that had Richard Burton as The White Knight. Weird film that. (Died 2014.)
  • Born August 1, 1932 Paddy Chayefsky. In our circles known as the writer of the Altered States novel that he also wrote the screenplay for. He is the only person to have won three solo Academy Awards for Best Screenplay. The other winners of three Awards shared theirs. He did not win for Altered States though he did win for Network which I adore. (Died 1981.)
  • Born August 1, 1941 Craig Littler, 70. His main genre role was as space adventurer Jason in Jason of Star Command which of course James Doohan was in as well. If you look closely, you’ll spot him briefly in Blazing Saddles as Tex and Rosemary’s Baby as Jimmy as well. And he has one-offs in The Next BeyondAirWolf and Team Knight Rider. Team Knight Rider? Really, they didn’t know when to stop?
  • Born August 1, 1942 Jerry Garcia. Lead vocalist of the Grateful Dead. The Dead did some songs that were SF as SFE notes. The song “The Music Never Stopped” (on Blues for Allah, 1975) borrows its title from a sentence in Alfred Bester’s The Stars My Destination (1956) and was possibly inspired by that novel.  And SFE notes that the band was hired to compose and perform some appropriately outré music for the first revival of the Twilight Zone television series.  There’s lots more connections to SF but I’ll stop by saying that Garcia played the banjo heard in the first remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. (Died 1995.)
  • Born August 1, 1948 David Gemmell. Best remembered for his first novel, Legend, the first book in his long-running Drenai series. He would go on to write some thirty novels. The David Gemmell Awards for Fantasy were presented from 2009 to 2018, with a stated goal to “restore fantasy to its proper place in the literary pantheon”. (Died 2006.)
  • Born August 1, 1955 Annabel Jankel, 67. Director who was first a music video director and then the co-creator and director of Max Headroom. She conceptualized Max. She and her partner Rocky Morton first created and directed The Max Talking Headroom Show, a mix of interviews and music vids which aired on Channel 4 (where it was sponsored by Coca-Cola) and HBO. Jankel and Morton would go on to direct Super Mario Bros. And they’re both responsible for the Max Headroom movie and series. I haven’t heard if she has a role in the forthcoming rebooted Max Headroom series.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) DEJA VIEW. That NPR is a radio network doesn’t keep them from reaching for this optical analogy: “Seeing double: Near-identical films that came out at the same time”. Surely you’ve noticed yourself that this happens. And many of the movies are genre.

They are showdowns that didn’t need to happen — rival studios staring each other down, refusing to blink.

In 1998, Earth-snuffing asteroids got blown up in the nick of time by nuclear warheads, not once but twice, in Armageddon and Deep Impact. That same year, animated insects skittered onto movie screens in Antz and A Bug’s Life — and just a year earlier, dueling lava flows erupted in Dante’s Peak and Volcano.

And in 2013, Jesse Eisenberg starred in The Double, and Jake Gyllenhaal in Enemy, each as a man tormented by his doppelganger (and wouldn’t you know that Enemy was based on a novel called…wait for it… The Double.)…

(13) ACT NOTABLE AWARDS. [Item by Dann.] A.C.T. (Australia Capitol Territory) Writers presented their awards for 2020 and 2021 over the weekend.  Covid caused them to not have an awards ceremony for 2020.

T.R. Napper’s collection of science fiction stories called Neon Leviathan won in for fiction in 2020 under the Small Press category. The collection was published by GrimDark Magazine.

(14) MORE MUNROE DOCTRINES. Randall Munroe has a new book coming out in September. “Randall Munroe – Sixth & I. At the link you have the option to buy in-person or virtual tickets to see Munroe in conversation with Derek Thompson on September 14 at 7:00 p.m. Eastern.

Planning to ride a fire pole from the moon back to Earth? The hardest part is sticking the landing. Hoping to cool the atmosphere by opening everyone’s freezer door at the same time? Maybe it’s time for a brief introduction to thermodynamics. For the answers to the rest of the weirdest questions you never thought to ask, “xkcd” creator and former NASA roboticist Randall Munroe is back with What If? 2: Additional Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions.

(15) IN THE BEGINNING. Bill jumped in his TARDIS and returned with a clipping of this early advertisement for Nichelle Nichols when she was a nightclub singer. From the Honolulu Advertiser, Aug 4, 1960.

(16) SUPER CLEAN. WLKY captures the scene as “’Superhero’ window washers scale Norton Children’s Hospital again”.

It’s a bird. It’s a plane. No, it’s superheroes outside of patient windows at Norton Children’s Hospital again!

That’s exactly what kids and their families at Norton Children’s Hospital in downtown Louisville got on Monday morning as window washers traded in their cleaning uniforms for capes and masks.

The goal is to give sick children a surprise several stories high as a crew from Pro Clean International dress as superheroes to wash the exterior windows of the hospital.

CEO of Pro-Clean International, and ‘Iron Man’, Joe Haist says, he got the idea from personal experience. “I have a special needs child that was born blind with special needs” said Haist, “I know that sometimes you go to the hospital, you’re there for a long time and there’s not a lot to see or do and there’s not a lot of happiness. So it’s really a great moment to really kind of bring people with some happiness.”

They have done this at least the past few years.

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] This video from Alasdair Beckett-King dropped today. “Every Internet Video From 2003 (not literally)”.

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

Pixel Scroll 7/4/22 The Scroll Will Come Out Tomorrow, Bet Your Bottom Pixel That Tomorrow, There’ll Be Scrolls

(1) GREEN BONE GETS RED LIGHT. A TV series adaptation of Fonda Lee’s Green Bone Saga will not be produced: “Peacock has canceled an award-winning fantasy epic and fans are up in arms” reports TechRadar.

Peacock has canceled its planned TV adaptation of bestselling and award-winning fantasy trilogy, The Green Bone Saga. 

The Universal-owned streaming service revealed in 2020 that it had begun developing the show, which was due to be based on the first novel in the series, Jade City. Dave Kalstein, who’d most recently overseen Bourne spin-off Treadstone, and Breck Eisner, director of Vin Diesel-led fantasy adventure The Last Witch Hunter and many episodes of The Expanse, were in the charge overseeing the series. 

However, The Green Bone Saga author Fonda J. Lee, revealed that Peacock executives have now changed their minds and will not be moving forward with their show. 

(2) NEARLY-FINAL WESTERCON MEMBERSHIP FIGURES. [Item by Kevin Standlee.] Assuming nobody shows up in the next 3 hours to buy an at-the-door membership or pick up their pre-registered badge, the numbers at “Membership Count by Location/Class – Westercon 74” are pretty much the final membership stats. (Includes breakout by country and state.)

Total Memberships all types: 338; Attending: 278; Child: 1; Supporting: 59

Badges picked up: 158 (57% of Attending+Child)

Meanwhile, the hoax issue of the Westercon 74 daily newzine has posted: Tonopah Telegraph issue Π.

(3) ALERT THE MEDIA! Congratulations to Sharon Lee and Steve Miller on collaborative Opus 100!

(4) A CLOUD OF WITNESS. The Hugos There podcast assembled a panel to discuss the 2022 Best Short Story Hugo finalists. The panelists are host Seth Heasley, Ann Spangler, Rob Tomshany, Amanda Wakaruk, Lisa McCarty, JW Wartick, Ivor Watkins, Cora Buhlert, Lori Anderson, Haley Zapal, Sarah Elkins, and Juan Sanmiguel. Here is the audio link. Or view on YouTube:

(5) 1940 ASF COVER RENEWED. The Conservation Center describes the restoration of an original pulp cover painting by Hubert Rogers: “Astounding Science (non) Fiction! Conserving a Pulp Fiction Painting”.

… “Astounding was the leading science fiction pulp magazine of the late 1930s and 1940s. The artist, Hubert Rogers, was their primary cover artist from the late 1930s until he left to return to his native Canada and assist in the war effort. The story this illustrates, “Space Guards,” was written by Philip Francis Nowlan. Nowlan’s name may not be remembered today, but in 1928 he created Buck Rogers.” The owner of this painting, a true pulp art and science fiction fan, found this Roger’s painting in need of conservation. “I bought this painting at an estate sale, where it had apparently been stored for decades in a closet. I don’t know how it ended up there – back then, pulp art often was given to folks who worked at the publisher, or given to science fiction conventions to be auctioned off to help raise money for the convention. Rogers was one of the few artists who did manage to get a great deal of his original art back. Obviously, it was in dire need of conservation, as it had suffered greatly over the years.”…

(6) ROOTS OF A CAREER. Oliver Brackenbury interviews David C. Smith in episode 44 of the So I’m Writing A Novel podcast: “Interview with David C. Smith (Part One)”.

David C. Smith is an author whose career began in the 1970’s during the second wave of sword & sorcery, he still writes to this very day, and Oliver felt very lucky to get the chance to have this epic, first-ever two-part interview with him!

In this first part we cover David’s original aspirations to work in film, the incredible role having the right English teacher can play in your life, discovering Conan, the real life model for Norman Bates, how Lord of the Rings helped David see Robert E Howard more clearly, the grounded nature of sword & sorcery and how it contrasts to make the weird elements shine brighter, too many elephants in too many towers, “when everything is special than nothing is”, the 70’s fanzine community and the role it played in David’s career…

(7) THE DAYS LINGER ON. The Cromcast continue their Howard Days recording with a recording of the “What’s Up with REH?” panel, where a representative of the Conan rights owners tells what is planned (Conan novels by big names like Brandon Sanderson, Stephen King or GRRM apparently, even though Sanderson and King are not at all suited to Conan): “Howard Days 2022 – Part 8 – What’s Up with REH?”

The panelists discuss the latest news regarding Howard publishing, entertainment and how his influence continues. Panelists include Joel Bylos, Paul Herman, Matt John, Fred Malmberg, Matt Murray, Steve Saffel, and Jay Zetterberg.

And the final installment from Howard Days is an interview with Matt John of the Rogues in the House podcast: “Howard Days 2022 – Part 9 – A Chat with Matt John of Rogues in the House!”

Hile, Cromrades! For our final episode from Howard Days 2022, we present a most excellent crossover event! In this recording from Saturday, June 11, Josh and Luke are joined by Matt John of Rogues in the House Podcast, Monolith Games, and Modiphius Entertainment!

(8) BIBLIOGRAPHIC DYNAMOS. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] At ‘Do You Write Under Your Own Name?’, Martin Edwards talks about his work on indexing fiction magazines, including SFF mags: “Crime Indexes and Phil Stephensen-Payne”. I mostly know Edwards as a crime and mystery specialist — he’s the current president of the Detection Club, edits the British Library Crime Classics series and was chair of the CWA – but I had no idea he was also active in SFF.

…By now (2000), the Internet was beginning to be a “thing” so I decided to create a small (!) website that focussed on author bibliographies ( http://www.philsp.com/authors.html) and also had a simple list of which magazines had been indexed (and where).

By coincidence (“steam engine time”) Doug Ellis and John Locke had just produced their first checklist of pulps and Dave Pringle and Mike Ashley had produced a checklist of significant “fiction magazines”. With permission from all parties I merged these two lists and added all the SF magazines indexed in the various SF magazine indexes and produced the first pass of the magazine list part of the website ( http://www.philsp.com/magazines.html). Having expected to list a few hundred magazines at most, this had already grown to 4000 magazines (and has since grown to just under 11,000)….

(9) MEMORY LANE

1984 [By Cat Eldridge.] Call me a mercenary. Call me an assassin. Call me a villain. I am all that and more. My name’s John Gaunt, but out on the streets of Cynosure, I am called Grimjack — Grimjack

His first appearance was the tenth issue of Starslayer: The Log of the Jolly Roger as published by First Comics. He was created by John Ostrander and Timothy Truman, but the setting, the all-dimensional city of Cynosure, which plays an important role in the life and deaths of this character, predates him.

He, the mercenary with a heart of gold at times and very much not at other times, was the creation of writer John Ostrander and artist Timothy Truman. It was sold well enough to be spun off into its own series, lasting eighty-one issues, though First’s nasty bankruptcy, see the Conan debacle, prevented any new material from being published until 2005.

Cynosure crosses all the time lines so anything can happen. One of my favorite stories was the one involving the Really Big Rabbits, “Night of The Killer Rabbits” which if you’re interested, a Grimjack fan has detailed here. There’s a panel in that story where Grimjack, when told of the existence of these, errr, bunnies flatly refused to believe they exist. Oh they do.

Would any such series be complete without a bar full of weird characters including a drunk lizard? I think not. Our sort of hero owns Munden’s and he spends a lot of time there drinking and brooding. It’s run by Gordon Munden, the Manager who owns the bar following Gaunt’s first and, presumably, second death. Death isn’t permanent in this multiverse.

It’s a wonderfully weird series in which Grimjack gets into many adventures, both SF and not so SF. Yes, I’ve read the entire run of him, or least pretty much all of them save some of those early Starslayer appearances which I’d would dearly to get my hands on at a reasonable price. 

So if you’ve not read it yet I will recommend you do so.  It was resurrected, yes pun intended, in Grimjack: Killer Instinct and The Manx Cat in the Nineties, both excellent. (Those are quite superb introductions to the character and readily available.) The hardcover omnibuses, though not cheap, are stellar publications. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 4, 1883 — Rube Goldberg. Not genre, but certainly genre adjacent as I could argue that MacGyver is direct descendent of him. Born Reuben Garrett Lucius Goldberg, he was a sculptor, author, cartoonist, engineer, and inventor who’s certainly best known for his very popular cartoons showing overly complex machines doing simple tasks in a terribly convoluted manner, hence the phrase “Rube Goldberg machines”. The X-Files episode titled “The Goldberg Variation” involved an apartment rigged as a Goldberg machine. (Died 1970.)
  • Born July 4, 1901 — Guy Endore. American novelist and screenwriter whose 1933 The Werewolf of Paris novel holds the same position in werewolf literature as does Dracula does for vampire literature. It was filmed as The Curse of The Werewolf for which he wrote the screenplay. Stableford also praises his horror story, “The Day of the Dragon”. He worked on the screenplay for Mark of the Vampire starring Bella Lugosi. (Died 1970.)
  • Born July 4, 1910 — Gloria Stuart. She was cast as Flora Cranley opposite Claude Rains in The Invisible Man in 1933, and 68 years later she played Madeline Fawkes in The Invisible Man series. She was in The Old Dark House as Margaret Waverton which is considered horror largely because Boris Karloff was in it. And she was in the time travelling The Two Worlds of Jennie Logan as well. (Died 2010.)
  • Born July 4, 1949 — Peter Crowther, 73. He is the founder (with Simon Conway) of PS Publishing where he’s editor now. He edited a series of genre anthologies that DAW published. And he’s written a number of horror novels of which I’d say After Happily Ever and By Wizard Oak are good introductions to him. He’s also done a lot of short fiction but I see he’s readily available in digital form for much of short fiction or novels at the usual digital suspects. 
  • Born July 4, 1960 — Joyce Agu, 62. Background characters are fascinating. She played Ensign Gates on the Next Generation, a role she did for forty-seven episodes! She later showed up as an Excelsior crew member in The Undiscovered Country thought it’s not certain it’s the same character. 
  • Born July 4, 1974 — Kevin Hanchard, 48. Canadian actor best known for his major role in Orphan Black as Detective Art Bell, whose partner’s suicide kicks off the whole show. He also had a significant role in the first season of The Expanse as Inspector Sematimba, Det. Miller’s old friend from Eros. Other genre roles include appearances in the movies Suicide Squad and the made-for-TV Savage Planet, and shows The StrainHemlock GroveWynonna Earp, and Impulse, among others. (Xtifr) 
  • Born July 4, 1977 — David Petersen, 45. Writer and illustrator of the brilliant Mouse Guard series. If you haven’t read it, do so — it’s that good and it’s still ongoing. It almost got developed as a film but got axed due to corporate politics. IDW published The Wind in The Willows with over sixty of his illustrations several years back. 

(11) CLICK ON THE INTERNOPE. “Nope: Viral website tours Jordan Peele’s movie amusement park” reports SYFY Wire. The website link: “Get out of this world at Jupiter’s Claim”.

With only two weeks and change before Jordan Peele’s Nope finally blows into theaters on an ill-omened wind, the clouds that’ve obscured a clear bird’s-eye view of Peele’s secret-shrouded horror flick are finally starting to part. Fans can now pan for buried nuggets of pre-release movie lore, thanks to a new viral website that mines Nope’s old west-style setting to tease a Gold Rush-era good time that’s pretty much guaranteed to go bad.

Moseying on over to the site brings guests to a family-friendly marketing come-on for Jupiter’s Claim, the movie’s fictional B-grade theme park celebrating the flaky, fake filmography of Nope’s former kid-cowboy star Ricky “Jupe” Park (Steven Yeun). Now an opportunistic adult in the movie, Jupe’s still trapping wayward tourists who head up the park’s remote dusty trail…but as the film’s final trailer suggests, he delivers on the promise of an otherworldly spectacle that more than makes up for the price of admission….

Universal has dropped a number of behind-the-scenes clips recently – here’s one:

(12) DEMON PRINCES REVIVAL. In 2021, Jack Vance’s estate (Spatterlight Press), published Matthew Hughes’s Barbarians of the Beyond, an authorized companion novel to Vance’s iconic revenge series, The Demon Princes.  The book prompted George R.R. Martin to say, “Hughes does Jack Vance better than anyone except Jack himself.”

Twenty years ago, five master criminals known as the Demon Princes raided Mount Pleasant to enslave thousands of inhabitants in the lawless Beyond. Now Morwen Sabine, a daughter of captives, has escaped her cruel master and returns to Mount Pleasant to recover the hidden treasure she hopes will buy her parents’ freedom.

But Mount Pleasant has changed. Morwen must cope with mystic cultists, murderous drug-smugglers, undercover “weasels” of the Interplanetary Police Coordinating Company, and the henchmen of the vicious pirate lord who owns her parents and wants Morwen returned. So he can kill her slowly…

Joining GRRM in praising Hughes’ novel are other major sff writers. David Gerrold says, “Lock the door, turn off the phone, get into a comfy chair, and deep-dive into a marvelous continuation of Jack Vance’s Demon Princes series. Matthew Hughes is a treasure and Barbarians of the Beyond is a terrific adventure.”  Robert J. Sawyer opines, “Matthew Hughes follows nimbly in Jack Vance’s footprints, then breaks some fresh trail. First-class space opera.”And Kurt Busiek is just as enthusiastic: “Engaging and enchanting…a fine companion adventure to Jack Vance’s The Demon Princes series, told with Matthew Hughes’s excellent sense of charm, ethical complexity and exotic worldbuilding. Let’s hope this is just the beginning!”

Available from Amazon and Amazon.ca.

(13) DON’T BLAME CTHULHU. Charles Fort would have been disappointed by the real answer: “Mysterious Incident of Fish Raining From The Sky May Have Been Solved”.

Did it rain fish in Texarkana, Texas/Arkansas, last December? Or did a massive gulp of cormorants spontaneously hurl their payloads? Sharon Hill, an independent researcher from Pennsylvania, and Paul Cropper, an author from Australia, investigated the odd phenomenon and have come to a conclusion: It was the regurgitating gulp….

(14) KEEP WATCHING THE WEBB. NASA says July 12 is the date we’ll get to see the first images from the James Webb Space Telescope. This press release tells when and where to view them.

The public release of Webb’s first images and spectra is July 12 – now less than two weeks away! The Webb team has confirmed that that 15 out of 17 instrument modes are ready for science, with just two more still to go. As we near the end of commissioning, we wanted to let you know where you can see the first Webb science data and how to participate in the celebration of Webb science! Here are all the ways you can #UnfoldTheUniverse with Webb:

Countdown: How many minutes left? The official countdown is at https://webb.nasa.gov/content/webbLaunch/countdown.html

Watch: See the images revealed in real-time and hear from experts about the exciting results on NASA TV at 10:30am Eastern on July 12: https://www.nasa.gov/nasalive

View: Just interested in the amazing imagery? You will be able to find the first images and spectra at: https://www.nasa.gov/webbfirstimages

(15) ARGON, AYE. In “3-D Printing Grows Beyond Its Novelty Roots” the New York Times throws out some impressive numbers.

The machines stand 20 feet high, weigh 60,000 pounds and represent the technological frontier of 3-D printing.

Each machine deploys 150 laser beams, projected from a gantry and moving quickly back and forth, making high-tech parts for corporate customers in fields including aerospace, semiconductors, defense and medical implants.

The parts of titanium and other materials are created layer by layer, each about as thin as a human hair, up to 20,000 layers, depending on a part’s design. The machines are hermetically sealed. Inside, the atmosphere is mainly argon, the least reactive of gases, reducing the chance of impurities that cause defects in a part.

The 3-D-printing foundry in Devens, Mass., about 40 miles northwest of Boston, is owned by VulcanForms, a start-up that came out of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. It has raised $355 million in venture funding. And its work force has jumped sixfold in the past year to 360, with recruits from major manufacturers like General Electric and Pratt & Whitney and tech companies including Google and Autodesk….

(16) MAN OF MYSTERY. [Item by Daniel Dern.] Murdoch Mysteries — ‘Pendrick’s Planetary Parlour’ (S15 E20)”

In the 1890s [more like a few years into the new century by this episode], William Murdoch uses radical forensic techniques for the time, including fingerprinting and trace evidence, to solve some of the city’s most gruesome murders.

Even if you haven’t watching this show (S1E1 involved some of the Edison-Tesla AC/DC wars), this one’s a tech hoot, anticipating/using everything from Nigerian Prince scams to naught-video blackmail, encryption, backdoors, and more that I can’t offhand remember.

Other episodes have had everything from (was or appeared to be) moon launch cannons and hyperloop tunnels to Martian invasions, robots, time travel, with historic guests including Houdini, Sir Arthut Conan Doyle, Huddie “Leadbelly” Ledbetter and bunches more I can’t remember. (Including Mark Twain, played by William Shatner.)

(Toronto fan Yvonne Penney even had a walk-on in an episode that aired in 2013.)

(17) DR. EVIL’S CONTRIBUTIONS TO CULTURE. [Item by JJ.] In June 1999 Mike Myers released the movie Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me. In it, his Dr. Evil villain character describes his megalomaniac plans for a time machine, which he calls “Time Machine”, and a laser, which he calls “The Alan Parsons Project”.

Part 1:

Part 2:

In September 1999, Alan Parsons released a new album with the theme of H.G. Wells’ Time Machine. The bonus track is a cut of the title song… remixed with samples of Dr. Evil speaking in it.

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Cora Buhlert, Kevin Standlee, Daniel Dern, Andrew Porter, Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]

Pixel Scroll 4/7/22 Earth, Be Glad! An April Scroll Is Born

(1) GAIMAN AND DORAN. The Guardian has made the full video of the livestream event with Neil Gaiman and Colleen Doran available online now, introducing their new graphic novel Chivalry from Dark Horse Comics. In comic shops now, in bookstores next week.

(2) AS TIME GOES BY. Rachel Birenbaum, author of a time travel novel, discusses why time travel stories remain an important part of sf. “On Time Travel and Metafiction” at CrimeReads.

…Every iteration begins with rules. The author has to create their universe and dictate how long time travel lasts, how it’s done, how it might affect the protagonist physically, and more. Most tales send people hurtling forwards or backwards with orders not to affect anything but their target. While all the rules are different, the reason behind time travel is almost always the same: regret….

(3) ONE DOES NOT SIMPLY. “LOTR Fitness Challenge Asks You To Walk From The Shire To Mordor To Rid Evil From The World”GameSpot has the details.

Looking to get in shape but need some extra motivation? A new gamified exercise program challenges players to log workouts in the real world as they virtually follow The Lord of the Rings characters Frodo and Sam from The Shire to Mount Doom to destroy the One Ring.

The Conqueror Virtual Challenges has teamed up with Warner Bros. for a new series of five virtual challenges based on The Lord of the Rings movies. Anyone can take part in exercises of varying lengths, with the ultimate goal of making it all the way to Mordor to destroy the ring.

The Conqueror Challenges app has been updated with a Middle-earth map that has five challenges to unlock: The Shire, The Fellowship, Mines of Moria, The Eye of Sauron, and the Mordor. Participants can run, cycle, swim, or walk to reach the set distance, and each stop has stories and postcards detailing Frodo and Sam’s journey. The distances are listed below….

(4) COUNT HIM OUT. “Doctor Who’s Steven Moffat ‘can confidently say’ he’s done showrunning”. Radio Times has quotes.

“I think I can confidently say I’m done showrunning Doctor Who,” Steven Moffat (who was in charge of Doctor Who from 2010 to 2017) told RadioTimes.com at the Radio Times Covers Party.

“Everyone can stop worrying. I did it for six seasons on the trot. And I cannot imagine going back into doing that. I cannot. I simply cannot picture it.”

He added: “I loved the show. I don’t want anyone to think I didn’t love the show. And I loved every second I spent on it, although some of them were hellish. But I’ve done that. I have done it and I did it a lot.

“So no offence and no disrespect and certainly no disdaining of wonderful memories. But no, I will not be showrunning Doctor Who again.”

(5) AN APPEAL TO AUTHORS. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Russia has been using SF/F fiction for a few years now to promote propaganda against Ukraine.

Even back in 2006 at the Eurocon in Ukraine it was possible to see how Russian publishing dominated over Ukrainian in that country. However, since then Russian propaganda against Ukraine has appeared in fiction including fantasy.

For example Eduard Limonov in Kyiv Kaput has written an alternate universe history of Ukraine that ends up predicting events in the future.

Mockups Design

Chytomo – the Ukrainian publishing news site – has created a pie chart of Russian publishers and the number of such propaganda books they publish.

Western writers may wish to note — once all this ghastly business is over — who these publishers are and avoid them translating western works. The chart is here.

Ukranian fan Borys Sydiuk also commented, “This is an important article, it explains why we ask authors not to provide foreign rights to Russian publishers.” “50 propaganda books against Ukraine and incitement to hatred against Ukrainians from Russian publishers” at Chytomo.

…Another problem was propaganda.

 Since 2009, Russia has been actively publishing books on the war between Russia and Ukraine in the «fantasy» genre, as well as «historical» and nonfiction literature about the «collapse of the Ukraine project» and mocking the independence of the «non-existent» Ukrainian people, «artificial» Ukrainian language.

These books can be easily found on the Internet for purchase and in services for open access books. In addition, children’s books began to offer more and more poems about the «great Russian army» that was coming to free everyone. 

The import of books from Russia was limited in 2017 due to their aggressive content. Only books with anti-Ukrainian printed materials were restricted, such as publications aimed at eliminating Ukraine’s independence, promoting violence, inciting ethnic, racial, religious animosity, carrying out terrorist attacks, and violating human rights and freedoms. The State Committee of television and radio broadcasting of Ukraine was entrusted with the functions of examination and issuance of permits.

The State Committee of television and radio broadcasting of Ukraine processed more than 45,000 applications during this period: issued 39,416 permits to import  publishing products, 5,275 refusals and revoked  2,227 previously issued permits.

Among the publications not allowed on the territory of Ukraine, many publications belong to authors who have been included in the lists of persons who pose a threat to national security — in particular, Zakhar Prilepin, Alexander Dugin and Alexander Tamonikov. The latter is «famous» because the list of anti-Ukrainian publications includes 20 of his works at once, not just with propaganda elements, but those whose sole purpose is to incite hatred against Ukraine and Ukrainians.

(6) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1978 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Much to my surprise, forty-four years ago a series called Quark aired as mid-season replacement on NBC. Why surprises me is that it only lasted eight episodes. I swear I remember it lasting longer than that. 

It was created by Buck Henry, co-creator of Get Smart. It was co-produced by David Gerber who had been responsible for the series version of The Ghost & Mrs. Muir (try not to hold that against him) and Mace Neufield who after being a talent agent for such acts as The Captain and Tennille became responsible for The Omen as the producer. 

The cast was Richard Benjamin, Tim Thomerson Richard Kelton Tricia Barnstable, Cyb Barnstable, Conrad Janis, Alan Caillou and Bobby Porter. The Barnstable twins got a lot of press, mostly for the fact that they didn’t wear much and really, really could not act. They previously appeared as the Doublemint Twins often with identical canines. I kid you not. 

Ok, so how is the reception? Oh you have to ask? Seriously? One reviewer summed it up this way: “Only lasting eight episodes, it is eight episodes too many. The idea of spoofing science fiction is a given and there are only a handful that get it right, but this is a spectacularly awful show.” And another said succinctly that “A viewer seeking something a little different may find the series entertaining, but low expectations are a must.” 

It has no rating at Rotten Tomatoes. It might be streaming on Crackle and Philo, two services that I’ve never heard of. 

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born April 7, 1909 Ray Quigley. Here solely for the three covers that he did for Weird Tales in the Forties. He didn’t do a lot of pulp work that I can find but these three are amazing. He did the December 1938 cover with the Dracula like figure here, the September 1940 cover with the nightmarish skull-faced Bombers here, and finally, the May 1942 cover with the really scary living ship here. The latter issue had Henry Kuttner, Robert Bloch and Dorothy Quick listed on the cover! (Died 1998.)
  • Born April 7, 1915 Henry Kuttner. While he was working for the d’Orsay agency, he found Leigh Brackett’s early manuscripts in the slush pile; it was under his guidance that she sold her first story to Campbell at Astounding Stories.  His own work was done in close collaboration with C. L. Moore, his wife, and much of they would publish was under pseudonyms.  During the Forties, he also contributed numerous scripts to the Green Lantern series. He’s won two Retro Hugos, the first at Worldcon 76 (2018) for “The Twonky” short story, the second at Dublin 2019 for “Mimsy Were the Borogoves”. (Died 1958.)
  • Born April 7, 1928 James White. Certainly the Sector General series which ran to twelve books and ran over thirty years of publication was his best known work. I’ve no idea how many or even which ones that I read but I’m certain that it was quite a few as I really, really loved this series. I’m not sure what else by him I’ve read but I’m equally sure there were other novels down the years. He was a 1996 Worldcon guest of honor at L.A.con III. It appears that only a handful of his novels are available from the usual suspects. (Died 1999.)
  • Born April 7, 1939 Francis Ford Coppola, 83. Director / Writer / Producer. THX 1138 was produced by him and directed by George Lucas in his feature film directorial debut in 1971. Saw it late at night after some serious drug ingestion with a redhead who was seriously into Morrison — strange experience that was. Other genre works of his include Bram Stoker’s Dracula, a episode of Faerie Tale Theatre entitled “Rip Van Winkle”, Twixt (a horror film that I’m betting almost no one here has heard of), Captain EO which featured Michael JacksonMary Shelley’s FrankensteinJeepers Creepers and Jeepers Creepers 2.
  • Born April 7, 1945 Susan Petrey. Another who died far, far too young. Only three of her stories were published during her lifetime. More of her work appeared in the Gifts of Blood collection published after her death. She was nominated, also posthumously, for the Astounding Award for Best New Writer, and her story ”Spidersong” was nominated for the Hugo Award at Denvention Two. The Susan C. Petrey Clarion Scholarship Fund annually awards scholarships to both the Clarion & Clarion West workshops and also supports an instructor at Clarion West as a Petrey Fellow. (Died 1980.)
  • Born April 7, 1946 Stan Winston. He’s best known for his work in Aliens, the Terminator franchise, the first three Jurassic Park films, the first two Predator films, Batman Returns and Iron Man. (He also did the Inspector Gadget film which I still haven’t seem.) He was unusual in having expertise in makeup, puppets and practical effects, and was just starting to get in digital effects as well upon the time of his passing. I think we sum up his talent by noting that his four Oscars include a pair he won for Best Visual Effects and Best Makeup for his work on Terminator 2: Judgment Day. (Died 2008.)
  • Born April 7, 1951 Yvonne Gilbert, 71. Though best remembered for her controversial cover design of Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s 1983 single “Relax”, she did a number of great genre covers including Le Guin’s A Wizard of Earthsea for Bantam in 1991 and Beagle’s A Dance for Emilia for Roc in 2000. (CE) 

(8) WORLD BUILDER. “How Long ’til Black Future Month? by N.K. Jemisin (a review)” by Brenton Dickieson at A Pilgrim in Narnia.

…Thus, while Jemisin has become a leading figure, her influence and prestige have come through two decades of unrelenting commitment to sophisticated world-building, culturally rich, character-driven literary prose, and a remarkable capacity for experimental writing. This concentration of character-voice combined with a disciplined approach to speculative world-building appears in some of Jemisin’s best writing in How Long ‘Til Black Future Month?

The true Jemisin fan is going to be particularly thrilled to participate in some of her short story experiments that later become novels or full series. “The Narcomancer” has a tinge of a melancholy sweetness, a story of conscience and vocational risk that becomes part of the Dreamblood series (which I haven’t read yet). “Stone Hunger” was exciting for me to read, for I was privileged to see how Jemisin began to conceptualize the extremely complex character make-up of The Broken Earth Trilogy–and how deeply implicated the characters are in that universe with the speculative world itself. And “The City Born Great” has all the terrifying brilliance and bracing goodness of The City We Became–an experiment in allegorical fiction that I have argued (here and here) is more successful in this short story than in the full novel….

(9) THIS JUST IN. From the authors themselves: “Getcher new Lee & Miller news right here!”

Three Liaden Universe® titles to be released by Baen in 2023
Scout’s Progress will be reissued in a new mass market/ebook edition March 2023
Salvage Right* will be published in Summer 2023
Trade Lanes** will be published in Fall 2023

Liaden Universe® Constellations audiobook editions
Tantor Media will be releasing the first four Liaden Universe® Constellations, starting in June.  Go to this link, and click on the individual titles to preorder.

Trade Lanes audiobook edition
We are in contact with our publisher and hope to have news regarding the Trade Lanes audiobook edition soon.  As soon as we have it, you’ll have it.  Promise

_________________
*Salvage Right is set on Tinsori Light after the events described in Neogenesis. The cast of characters includes, but is not limited to: Jen Sin yos’Phelium, Seignur Veeoni, Tocohl Lorlin, Lorith, Tolly Jones, Hazenthull nor’Phelium, Theo Waitley

**Fair Trade is the third book following the adventures of Jethri Gobelyn ven’Deelin, who made his first, admittedly awkward, bow in Balance of Trade; his second, somewhat more nuanced, in Trade Secret.

(10) ON STAGE AT CALTECH. A musical adaptation of Verne’s From the Earth to the Moon will be performed by Theater Arts at Caltech (TACIT) in Pasadena’s Ramo Auditorium on six times next week – see full details at the link.

From the Earth to the Moon

From the writers of the record-breaking Caltech musical Boldly Go! comes a fresh new science fiction musical based on the Jules Verne classic written in 1865. Gauntlets are thrown, headlines made, duels waged, and alliances put to the test in this dynamic imagining of spaceflight in the late nineteenth century directed by Brian Brophy.

…TACIT, as Theater Arts at Caltech is familiarly known, typically prepares and performs two or three plays each academic year. Recent productions include She Kills Monsters, Avenue Q, Rent, Company and many original projects.

Members of the Caltech community have the opportunity to learn all aspects of the theatrical craft—acting, stage crew, set construction, wardrobe, light and sound operation, properties, house management, and publicity—and to work with professionals in areas of theater design: set, light, sound, costume, and music. This is a hands-on approach, not classroom theory. It also provides an appreciation of the theatrical literature and exposure to the literature of many languages (in translation). 

(11) HOLY GUACAMOLE. The New York Times invites you to “Meet DALL-E, the A.I. That Draws Anything at Your Command”.

At OpenAI, one of the world’s most ambitious artificial intelligence labs, researchers are building technology that lets you create digital images simply by describing what you want to see.

They call it DALL-E in a nod to both “WALL-E,” the 2008 animated movie about an autonomous robot, and Salvador Dalí, the surrealist painter.

OpenAI, backed by a billion dollars in funding from Microsoft, is not yet sharing the technology with the general public. But on a recent afternoon, Alex Nichol, one of the researchers behind the system, demonstrated how it works.

When he asked for “a teapot in the shape of an avocado,” typing those words into a largely empty computer screen, the system created 10 distinct images of a dark green avocado teapot, some with pits and some without. “DALL-E is good at avocados,” Mr. Nichol said….

(12) HE’S NOT HEAVY, HE’S MY BOSON. The W boson is not bigger on the inside, but it’s bigger than anticipated: “’Huh, That’s Funny’: Physicists Delighted by New Measurement for the W Boson” reports Gizmodo.

A collaboration of hundreds of scientists have precisely measured the mass of the W boson, an elementary particle responsible for the weak nuclear force. The researchers found, to their surprise, that the boson is more massive than predicted by the Standard Model of particle physics, the working theory that describes several of the fundamental forces in the universe….

(13) A BAD DAY IN NORTH DAKOTA A LONG TIME AGO. “Tanis: Fossil of dinosaur killed in asteroid strike found, scientists claim”. BBC News says the artifact will be seen in a Sir David Attenborough production to be broadcast April 15.

Scientists have presented a stunningly preserved leg of a dinosaur.

The limb, complete with skin, is just one of a series of remarkable finds emerging from the Tanis fossil site in the US State of North Dakota.

But it’s not just their exquisite condition that’s turning heads – it’s what these ancient specimens are purported to represent.

The claim is the Tanis creatures were killed and entombed on the actual day a giant asteroid struck Earth.

The day 66 million years ago when the reign of the dinosaurs ended and the rise of mammals began.

Very few dinosaur remains have been found in the rocks that record even the final few thousand years before the impact. To have a specimen from the cataclysm itself would be extraordinary.

The BBC has spent three years filming at Tanis for a show to be broadcast on 15 April, narrated by Sir David Attenborough.

Sir David will review the discoveries, many that will be getting their first public viewing.

Along with that leg, there are fish that breathed in impact debris as it rained down from the sky.

We see a fossil turtle that was skewered by a wooden stake; the remains of small mammals and the burrows they made; skin from a horned triceratops; the embryo of a flying pterosaur inside its egg; and what appears to be a fragment from the asteroid impactor itself….

(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Ryan George, in “Morbius Pitch Meeting,” a spoiler-filled episode, says that Dr. Michael Morbius drinks vampire bat blood which causes him to bulk up “like a Calvin Klein underwear model.” But the producer tells the screenwriter to add many more references to Spider-Man, Vulture, and other Marvel characters because “we’re in the MCU now” at Sony.

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Cleo Campion, Daniel Dern, Borys Sydiuk, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Hampus Eckerman.]

Pixel Scroll 3/28/22 Rob S. Pixel (The S Stands For Scroll)

(1) 2023 HELIOSPHERE GOHS. Congratulations to Sharon Lee and Steve Miller! Next year’s Heliosphere guests.

(2) TOUR OF THE RINGS. “Simu Liu will not sign ‘offensive’ Shang-Chi comic books at upcoming event” reports Yahoo!

“Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” star Simu Liu is set to attend The ACE Experience at comic convention Awesome Con alongside his co-stars Meng’er Zhang and Florian Munteanu, but fans must take note of some rules put in place for the signing event.

According to an ACE announcement, Liu, Zhang and Munteanu will be available for celebrity photo ops and in-person autographs on June 4 at Awesome Con at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C. The announcement also noted, however, that the actors would not be signing any comic books deemed offensive, particularly Marvel Comics’ original “Shang-Chi” run from 1974-83.

“Simu Liu will not sign any Master of Kung Fu comics or other comics deemed offensive,” the note read. “All autographs from Simu will be signed in English only.”…

(3) RACING WITH THE HEADLINES. In “The Big Idea: Gareth L. Powell” at Whatever, author Powell spotlights the risks of writing five-minutes-into-the-future stories.

…Near-future fiction is a tightrope act, a game played with the audience. It’s a way of looking at the world, reflecting it through a prism to make the everyday extraordinary and the future relevant to the reader. But it’s a risky undertaking. If you assume it takes 18 months to write and publish a novel, world events may have rendered the entire premise of the book obsolete before it hits the shelves. No other literature has such a potentially short shelf life….

(4) WORLD ENOUGH AND TIME. Do you have to master the rules before you can break them? Or if it’s your own rule, can you decide a story you want to tell is worth setting a preference aside? Whichever. Whatever! John Scalzi discusses a choice he made in writing his new novel: “Kaiju, Here and Now” at Stone Soup.

…The first thing is that, generally speaking, I don’t write in present time. I write most of my science fiction taking place hundreds, or even a thousand or more years in the future, and that has some advantages. For example, you can develop an entire civilization under different conditions than the one that currently exists; you can hand wave over hundreds or possibly thousands of years of technological evolution and just posit that certain things and certain technology exist…. 

(5) BISHOP TO KING FOUR. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] On B Beeb Ceeb Radio 4 yesterday was the Bishop Interviews in which the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, interviews notable people.  (One of the benefits of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has been the proliferation of Zoom use which, of course, has been picked up by the media including Auntie.)

This week the Bishop interviewed horror and fantastical horror writer Stephen King. Both the Bishop and King had had alcohol abuse in their lives and both dealt with the question of what is evil. A fascinating interview: The Archbishop Interviews: Stephen King.

King’s written more than 60 novels, hundreds of short stories, and has sold hundreds of millions of books worldwide. Described as the “King of Horror”, he became a household name with novels such as Carrie, The Shining, and Misery. Those and countless others have been adapted for the big screen, including The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile, providing some of the most captivating moments in cinema history.

(6) ESSAY – TERRI WINDLING. [By Cat Eldridge.] Let’s talk about Terri Windling. The most epic of her undertakings was the Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror which started life as Year’s Best Fantasy. She edited the fantasy side and Ellen Datlow did the horror side. The very first edition won a World Fantasy Award, one of four such Awards that the series would get out of the fifteen editions she was responsible for with Datlow. One of the volumes, the thirteenth, picked her up a Stoker as well. 

Her first World Fantasy Award though was for Elsewhere, the initial volume in an anthology series she edited with Mark Arnold. 

The ever so excellent Wood Wife earned a Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature. There was supposed to a sequel but it never happened.

And although none won any Awards, I’d be remiss to not note a number of other works by her starting with The Old Oak Wood Series illustrated by Wendy Froud. For a taste of this series, read this charming essay, she wrote for Green Man a generation back. “Excerpt from The Old Oak Chronicles: Interviews with Famous Personages by Professor Arnel Rootmuster (Royal Library Press; Old Oak Wood, 2008)”

She also created and edited most of the amazing Borderland series and the Snow White, Blood Red series, with Ellen Datlow which is stellar reading indeed .

She’s also an editor with more titles to her name than I can fit here. She edited the Fairy Tale series with writer such as Steven Brust, Pamela Dean, Charles de Lint, Tanith Lee, Patricia C. Wrede, Jane Yolen, and others. 

All in all, an amazing individual.

Terri Windling

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 28, 1918 Robert J. Serling. Brother of that Serling. Author of several associational works including Something’s Alive on the Titanic and Air Force One Is Haunted. He wrote “Ghost Writer” published in Twilight Zone: 19 Original Stories on the 50th Anniversary.  (Died 2010.)
  • Born March 28, 1922 A. Bertram Chandler. Did you ever hear of popcorn literature? Well the Australian-tinged space opera that was the universe that of John Grimes was such. A very good starter place is the Baen Books omnibus of To The Galactic Rim which contains three novels and seven stories. If there’s a counter-part to him, it’d be I think Dominic Flandry who appeared in Anderson’s Technic History series. (My opinion.) Oh, and I’ve revisited both to see if the Suck Fairy had dropped by. She hadn’t. (Died 1984.)
  • Born March 28, 1932 Ron Soble. He played Wyatt Earp in the Trek episode, “ Spectre of The Gun”.  During his career, he showed up on a huge number of genre series that included Mission: ImpossibleThe Six Million Dollar ManShazamPlanet of The ApesFantasy IslandSalvage 1 and Knight Rider. His last genre role, weirdly enough, was playing Pablo Picasso in Pterodactyl Woman from Beverly Hills. (Died 2002.)
  • Born March 28, 1942 Mike Newell, 80. Director whose genre work Includes The Awakening, Photographing Fairies (amazing story, stellar film), Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (popcorn film — less filling, mostly tasty), Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time and two episodes of The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, to wit “Masks of Evil” and “The Perils of Cupid”.
  • Born March 28, 1946 Julia Jarman, 76. Author of a  children’s book series I like a lot, of which I’ll single out Time-Travelling Cat And The Egyptian GoddessThe Time-Travelling Cat and the Tudor Treasure and The Time-Travelling cat and the Viking Terror as the ones I like the best. There’s more to that series but those are my favorites. I see no indication that the cats are available from the usual suspects alas. 
  • Born March 28, 1960 Chris Barrie, 62. He’s Lara Croft’s butler Hillary in the most excellent original Tomb Raider franchise film. He also shows up on Red Dwarf for twelve series as Arnold Rimmer, a series I’ve never quite grokked. He’s also one of the principal voice actors on Splitting Image which is not quite genre adjacent but oh-so-fun.
  • Born March 28, 1972 Nick Frost, 50. Yes, he really is named Nick Frost as he was born Nicholas John Frost. Befitting that, he was cast as Santa Claus in two Twelfth Doctor stories, “Death in Heaven” and “Last Christmas”. He’s done far more genre acting that I can retell here starting with the Spaced series and Shaun of The Dead (he’s close friends with Simon Pegg) to the superb Snow White and The Huntsman. He’s currently Gus in the Truth Seekers, a sort of low-budget comic ghost hunter series 

(8) COMICS SECTION.

  • Hi and Lois isn’t sff, however, I can’t pass up the opportunity to include Daniel Dern’s annotations. Read the strip, then come back.

Mort Walker created both Hi and Lois and Beetle Bailey; according to the Wikipedia. Lois was Beetle’s sister. He also created, among others, Sam’s Strip, which is about characters who know they’re in a comic strip (IIRC, mostly taking place “backstage”). There was a nice reprint collection of this ~10 years ago. Walker also did the interesting and informative book, The Lexicon of Comicana.

(9) RACKHAM REMEMBERED. “Wonder, Hungry Wolves, and the Whimsy of Resilience: Arthur Rackham’s Haunting 1920 Illustrations for Irish Fairy Tales”The Marginalian’s Maria Popova offers “a lyrical reminder that our terror and our tenderness spring from the same source.”

… In 1920, in the middle of Ireland’s guerrilla war for independence, weeks before Bloody Sunday, a book both very new and very old appeared and swiftly disappeared into eager hands — a lyrical, lighthearted, yet poignant retelling of ancient Irish myths by the Irish poet and novelist James Stephens.

The ten stories in his Irish Fairy Tales (public library | public domain) transported readers away from the world of bloodshed and heartache, into another, where the worst and the best of the human spirit entwine in something else, transcending the human plane….

(10) USE YOUR VOICE, LUKE. Variety explains “How Ukrainian Company Respeecher De-Aged Mark Hamill’s Voice for ‘Boba Fett’ and ‘The Mandalorian’”.

…And how exactly did they pull it off?

Alex Serdiuk, the company’s co-founder and co-CEO spoke with Variety from Kyiv, just days before Russian bombs fell on the city, about how Respeecher was used on both “The Book of Boba Fett” and “The Mandalorian.” Explains Serdiuk, “We heard recordings from 30 to 40 years ago, and those recordings were not good.”

The main challenge for the team was to be able to squeeze imperfect data, something that sounded very rigid and have it mixed to make it sound like something had been recorded recently.

The solution lay in the archives. Serdiuk and his team pulled recordings of Hamill from old ADR sessions, video games and old audiobook recordings from the period. With the cleaner audio fed into the ReSpeecher app, Hamill’s younger voice was then artificially created….

(11) MOTHERLESS CHARACTERS. “Why Mother’s Day was no cause to celebrate for creator of Thunderbirds” – the Guardian tells why.

… He had found worldwide success, delighting generations of fans with 18 series and four feature films, which included Space: 1999 and Captain Scarlet. But Anderson had never got over the death of Lionel, his older brother, a handsome and heroic pilot who had died during the second world war; he also never recovered from the shock of hearing their mother, Debbie, say: “Why was it Lionel? It should have been you.”…

(12) HALF AND HALF. The New Yorker has a concise review of Richard Linklater’s movie “Apollo 10 ½”.

…Linklater tells the tall tale with a hallucinatory near-realism that emerges from rotoscoped images, animated atop live-action video, and from the meticulous catalogue of family life and sixties pop culture that Stan offers as a background—which nearly takes over the film….

(13) PRO TIP. Cat Rambo lights the way.

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

Pixel Scroll 3/18/22 When A Pixel’s Not Engaged In Its Enscrollment

(1) BIG GREEN NUMBERS. Brandon Sanderson shares a lot of information about his successful Kickstarter and his progress on other projects in “Some FAQs You Might Enjoy”. Also includes a long analysis of Amazon’s effect on his business.

How Are You Going to Spend the Money?

I got this question from the journalist from the Associated Press who interviewed me.  He gave an excellent interview, and we had a really great conversation.  But this question stopped me for a moment.  It’s a valid question, but it took me by surprise, as I haven’t been looking at this the way that some people seem to be.  I didn’t hit the lottery, any more than any other business hits the lottery when they have a product that connects with their market.

I will spend the money as I spend the rest of my money.  Part into savings, part into paying salaries (along with nice extra bonuses because the Kickstarter did well), part reinvested into the company.  (We’re still planning on building a physical bookstore, and this will help accelerate those plans.  Also, it’s not outside of reason that as I move into doing more film and TV, I will want to partially fund some of the projects.)

While this Kickstarter is an incredible event, and (don’t get me wrong) is going to earn me a good chunk of money, it’s going to be comparable to other projects I’ve done.  Also, don’t underestimate how much money it costs to maintain the infrastructure (like a warehouse–or in this case, probably more than one) it takes to be able to ship several hundred thousand books.  It will likely be years before we can be certain how much this actually earned us after all expenses.  More than we’d get from New York on the same books, but potentially not that much more.

That said, I will almost certainly buy myself some nice Magic cards.  Still have a few unlimited duals in my cube that could use an upgrade to black border.

Did You Anticipate This Level of Success for the Kickstarter?

I did not.  I knew the potential was there, but I didn’t think it (getting to this astronomical number of backers) would happen.

My guess was that we’d land somewhere in the 2–4 million range, though I really had no idea.  My team can attest to the fact that in the lead-up, I was very conservative in my estimates and expectations.  This was an experiment from us that I’d been wanting to try for a while.  (I’ll talk more about that below.)  I didn’t have any idea how well it would go.

…How many of those potential 250k–800k people who normally buy a Sanderson book in the first year could be convinced instead to move and preorder it through Kickstarter?  Our guesses, it turned out, were way low.  But at the same time, it is interesting that (not disregarding our huge success, which I’m not at all complaining about) even this huge Kickstarter breaking all records is only grabbing a fraction of my normal audience.  So maybe you can see why we knew we had potential, but were conservative in our estimates. … 

There is also much inside baseball about what indie authors have to face:

…These days, according to some of my indie author friends, you have to spend a great deal to sell on Amazon.  Not everyone’s experience is the same, but I hear this time and time again.  To make it as an indie author, you need to shell out for expensive advertising on the very website selling your books.  I have indie author friends who are spending a good portion of their income on these advertisements–and if they don’t, their sales vanish.  Amazon has effectively created a tax where indie authors pay back a chunk of that glorious 70% royalty to Amazon.  (And this is for the authors lucky enough to be allowed to buy those advertising spots, and therefore have the chance at selling.)….

…Regardless, this has been bothering me for over a decade.  I feel that the current system has a gun to my head.  Heck, all that has to happen is for someone at Amazon read this blog post or see my Kickstarter and decide they just want to make an example out of me.  Poof.  85% of my sales gone.  And while some people might go to another vendor to get my books, the painful truth is that many would not.  Time and time again, studies of contemporary tech media consumption have shown that the person who controls the platform is the one who controls the market. …

(2) MAIL CALL. In “An Open Letter to the 2022 Hugo Finalists, Whoever They May Be”, Cora Buhlert once again shares her experience and advice.

… Right now, no one except for possibly the Hugo administrators knows who those finalists will be. However, sometime in the next two weeks or so, some of you will receive an e-mail from Chicon 8, informing you that you are a finalist for the 2022 Hugo Award and asking you whether you want to accept the nomination. Some of you will have received such e-mails before, for others it will be the first time.

But whether it’s your first or your twentieth nomination, congratulations! That’s awesome.

As a first time recipient of such an e-mail in 2020, here are a few things I’ve learned…

(3) UNIVERSE WILL KEEP EXPANDING. Sharon Lee’s biggest news in “Liaden Universe® Updates” is that she and Steve Miller have accepted an additional three book contract with Baen for Liaden novels.

…The contract’s call-name is Traveler’s Trio, and we have no idea where those novels will take us, yet, but we do have delivery dates.  Those are:

Traveler’s Trio ONE:  September 2024
Traveler’s Trio TWO:  September 2025
Traveler’s Trio THREE:  September 2026

Note A:  In September 2026, I will be 74 years old.  Steve will have celebrated his 76th birthday three months prior.  This by way of reassuring those folks who have been worrying about our retirement that, err — writers don’t retire.  At least, writers at our level of the game don’t retire.

Here ends the Updatery.

(4) GUNN CENTER EVENTS. The Gunn Center for the Study of SF has posted the selections and dates for the next several meetings of their virtual book club, and another event. Zoom info and further details at the links. 

Discussion of Colson Whitehead’s first novel, The Intuitionist. This choice anticipates Whitehead’s visit to Lawrence for the Paper Plains Literary Festival in early April! https://www.paperplains.org

Discussion of Angelline Boulley’s young adult thriller, Firekeeper’s Daughter. More aligned with conversations about Indigenous belief systems and spirituality than conventional science fiction; also in anticipation of the Paper Plains festival. Co-sponsored with Haskell Indian Nations University, KU’s First Nations Student Association, and others. Teens welcome!

Discussion of Franny Choi’s Soft Science. In celebration of National Poetry Month!

  • Friday, MAY 20th* @ noon (CT) – [no link yet] Discussion of Sarah Pinsker’s Two Truths and a Lie

Winner of the 2021 Nebula Award & 2021 Hugo Award for Best Novelette. (*) Please note that this is not the last Friday of the month, which falls on Memorial Day Weekend.

(5) ARE THEY TALKING ABOUT YOU? The Silmarillion Writers’ Guild seeks the meaning of it all in “A Sudden Outcry: The Tolkien Estate and Fanworks”.

…When the Tolkien Estate recently presented their newly revamped website, it did not take fans long to see past the new artwork and other features to find that the Tolkien Estate has a policy on fanworks. The past several days have seen a whirl of discussion about what it all means that can be distilled down to a single burning question:

Did the Tolkien Estate just ban fanworks?

In short, no, the Tolkien Estate did not just ban fanworks. The fanworks you have posted, are in the middle of creating, or are even thinking about creating are not affected by what the Estate says on their website.

The longer answer depends on if you’re interested in the just or the ban part of that question (or maybe both!). While the following is not legal advice, we hope it will lessen the worry that the existence of fanworks is in jeopardy.  As always, bear in mind that laws vary from country to country. If you have specific concerns, the Organization for Transformative Works’ legal committee, while unable to give legal advice, can answer questions you might have.

The article contains an extensive history of the Estate’s policies towards fanworks. The writers come to this paradoxical conclusion:

…The Tolkien Estate is anti-fanwork and always has been. For all that the “other minds and hands” quote gets tossed about by fans eager to believe that Tolkien would have condoned their activities, Tolkien himself was anti-fanwork when it came to his books,2 unless it was something that he liked. This has neither changed nor prevented Tolkien fanworks from being made in the almost seven decades since The Lord of the Rings was published…

(6) OMELAS. The Unofficial Hugo Book Club Blog tweeted a crusher yesterday. There are nine tweets in the thread, which starts here.

(7) THE SAND OF MUSIC. Hans Zimmer tells Vanity Fair about the score for Dune in a video that dropped today: “How ‘Dune’ Composer Hans Zimmer Created the Oscar-Nominated Score”.

“Something I wanted to always do. Invent instruments that don’t exist. Invent sounds that don’t exist.” Hans Zimmer, ‘Dune’ composer, gives his in-depth analysis and insider’s look at how the score was created for Denis Villeneuve’s 2021 film.

(8) MORE FROM DISCON III. Morgan Hazelwood posted her notes from the DisCon III panel “Ask An Editor: Longform Writing” with participants George Jreije, Katherine Crighton, Navah Wolfe, and Trevor Quachri, plus Joshua Bilmes as moderator. (The material is also presented in a YouTube video.)

The description for this panel was as follows:

What makes a good novel? How do you know it’s ready? Where should you send it and how should you respond to comments? This is your chance to ask burning questions to a panel of respected agents and editors.

(9) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites listeners to share deep-fried wontons with Library of Congress curator Sara Duke in episode 167 of the Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Sara Duke

Library of Congress curator Sara Duke and I were supposed to have lunch two years ago, way back in March of 2020, but then … something happened. I suspect you can guess what that something was. We finally managed to break bread — or rather, share Pad See Ew — last week at D.C.’s Young Chow Chinese restaurant.

Sara Duke has been at the Library of Congress for more than 30 years, the past 23 as the curator of Popular and Applied Graphic Art in the Prints and Photographs Division. She’s in charge of cartoons, documentary drawings, and ephemera. Starting with Blondie Gets Married in 2000, she’s been responsible for curating many exhibits relating to popular culture, including Comic Art: 120 Years of Panels and Pages, and most recently, Geppi’s Gems.

We discussed the first piece of artwork she longed to get her hands on after a 13-month pandemic absence, our joint loathing of slabbed comics, the misconceptions many people have about the Library of Congress, the things most people no longer remember about Blondie, her comic book exhibit cancelled by COVID, the serendipitous way a PhD in 17th century Irish history led to her becoming a curator, her early (and continuing) love of MAD magazine, and much more.

(10) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1981 [Item by Cat Eldridge] On this evening forty-one years ago, the show that Warner Bros. sued for copyright infringement in Warner Bros. Inc. v. American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. premiered on ABC. The Greatest American Hero starred William Katt as teacher Ralph Hinkley in a suit that allowed him to fly and which looked sort of like that Super-Hero. The Court ruled, “as a matter of law, The Greatest American Hero’ is not sufficiently similar to the fictional character Superman.” 

It was created by producer Stephen J. Cannell and was his only genre undertaking.

The rest of the regular cast consisted of just Robert Culp as FBI agent Bill Maxwell and Connie Sellecca as lawyer Pam Davidson. ABC wasn’t going to deal with a bloated salary line here.  Culp of course had been Kelly Robinson on I Spy, but more importantly was in The Outer Limits episode “Demon with a Glass Hand”, written by Harlan Ellison. Sellecca played Pamela Edwards in a recurring role in the Beyond Westworld series.

It would last three seasons and have a proper conclusion in which the story was wrapped up. That conclusion lead to the pilot for another series which was not picked up by another network. A reboot with a female lead was in the works at ABC several years back but not even a pilot was shot.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 18, 1888 Alexander Leydenfrost. As an illustrator, he briefly worked for Planet Stories before being signed by Life magazine where the money was better. But his quite brief tenure at Planet Stories is credited with the creation of the enduring cliche Bug Eyed Monster as that’s what his illustrations showed. (Died 1961.)
  • Born March 18, 1926 Peter Graves. Star of Mission Impossible and the short lived Australian-based Mission Impossible, which if you not seen it you should as it’s damn good. I’m reasonably certain his first genre role was on Red Planet Mars playing Chris Cronyn. Later roles included Gavin Lewis on The Invaders, Major Noah Cooper on Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, Doug Paul Martin in Killers from Space and Paul Nelson on It Conquered the World. It’s worth noting that a number of his films are featured on the Mystery Science Theater 3000 series. (Died 2010.)
  • Born March 18, 1932 John Updike. It might surprise you to learn that there are two Eastwick novels, The Witches of Eastwick and The Widows of Eastwick, the latter set some three decades after the first novel ended. No idea what it’s like as I’ve never heard of it. He wrote a number of other genre friendly novels including The CentaurBrazil and Toward the End of Time. (Died 2009.)
  • Born March 18, 1950 J.G. Hertzler, 72. He’s best known for his role on Deep Space Nine as the Klingon General (and later Chancellor) Martok. He co-authored with Jeff Lang, Left Hand of Destiny, Book 1, and Left Hand of Destiny, Book 2, which chronicle the life of his character. His very TV first role was a genre one, to wit on Quantum Leap sac Weathers Farrington in the  “Sea Bride – June 3, 1954” episode. Setting aside DS9, he’s been in ZorroHighlanderThe Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of SupermanLois & Clark: The New Adventures of SupermanCharmedRoswell and Enterprise series;  for film genre work, I see The Redeemer: Son of SatanTreasure Island: The Adventure Begins and Prelude to Axanar (yet another piece of fanfic). In addition, he’s done a lot of video game voice acting, the obvious Trek work but such franchises as BioShock 2The Golden Compass and Injustice: Gods Among Us.
  • Born March 18, 1959 Luc Besson, 63. Oh, The Fifth Element, one of my favorite genre films. There’s nothing about it that I don’t like. I’ve not seen Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets and comments leave me disinclined to do so. The Transporter is not genre but I recommend it as a great film none the less.
  • Born March 18, 1960 Richard Biggs. Another way too young death on Babylon 5 as he appeared as Dr. Stephen Franklin, reprising the role in the final aired episode of Crusade, “Each Night I Dream of Home”. Other genre roles included playing Roger Garrett on Tremors, Hawkes In The Alien Within, An Unnamed Reporter on Beauty and the Beast,  Dr. Thomson on an episode of The Twilight Zone and a Process Server in an episode of The Magical World of Disney.  (Died 2004.)
  • Born March 18, 1961 James Davis Nicoll, 61. A freelance game and genre reviewer. A first reader for SFBC as well. Currently he’s a blogger on Dreamwidth and Facebook, and an occasional columnist on Tor.com. In 2014, he started his website, jamesdavisnicoll.com, which is dedicated to his book reviews of works old and new; and which later added the highly entertaining Young People Read Old SFF, where that group reads and comments on prior-to-Eighties SF and fantasy.

(12) SENDING UP DISNEY. “This Young Artist Successfully Wows Disney Fans With Hilarious Disney Fanarts” at Aubtu.

Disney fans tend to redraw Disney characters with their unique ideas, but Jorge D. Espinosa has taken it to another level. As a talented artist, Jorge has recreated several famous Disney characters with different settings. They can be about Aurora’s hangover or Jasmine as a dancer enjoying Beyonce’s song. There is no doubt that these unique and funny drawings can make even The Beast laugh….

(13) IDIOMATIC ACCESSION. I need one of these. Don’t I? Archie McPhee’s “Murder of Crows”.

(14) SQUEEZING OUT THE WATER. James Davis Nicoll tells Tor.com readers about “Five Wonderfully Concise SFF Books”.

Olden-time SF authors, limited as they were to pen and paper, typewriters, and other now archaic methods of production, and trying to sell to markets uninterested in purchasing lengthy works, often delivered works that seem startlingly concise and to the point by modern standards. There’s nothing like not having a choice to urge people to make the right choices.

However, even in this age of word processing software and publisher enthusiasm for meandering series of enormous story-fragments, there are authors who deliver short, effective books that contain within them all of the necessary narrative elements. They even include that most elusive ingredient—an actual ending. Consider these five comparatively recent examples of books that are wonderfully short and to the point….

(15) THAT OTHER JAMES. ScienceAlert says “Webb Just Sent Back Its First-Ever Sharp Image of a Star, And It’s Breathtaking”.

…To demonstrate its capabilities, Webb focused on a single star, named 2MASS J17554042+6551277, more commonly known as TYC 4212-1079-1.

This bright object, around 2,000 light-years away, is just over 16 times intrinsically brighter than the Sun – a nice, clear target for Webb. A red filter was used to optimize visual contrast; and, although the telescope was just looking at the star, its instruments are so sensitive that background stars and galaxies can also be seen.

“We have fully aligned and focused the telescope on a star, and the performance is beating specifications. We are excited about what this means for science,” said Ritva Keski-Kuha, deputy optical telescope element manager for Webb at NASA Goddard….

(16) PARADOX RESOLVED. “Scientists claim hairy black holes explain Hawking paradox” reports BBC News. I have nothing to say about that headline at all.

Scientists say they have solved one of the biggest paradoxes in science first identified by Prof Stephen Hawking.

He highlighted that black holes behave in a way that puts two fundamental theories at odds with each other.

Black holes are dead stars that have collapsed and have such strong gravity that not even light can escape.

New research claims to have resolved the paradox by showing that black holes have a property which they call “quantum hair”….

(17) ONCE MORE INTO THE BREACH, DEAR FRIENDS. “’Muppets Mayhem’ Series a Go at Disney+”The Hollywood Reporter has the story.

Disney+ is taking another swing at a Muppets TV series.

The streamer, following a lengthy development process, has handed out a series order to comedy The Muppets Mayhem, with Lilly Singh set to star.

The comedy will follow the Electric Mayhem Band as it records its first-ever album. Singh will star as the human lead, Nora, the junior A&R executive who is tasked with managing and wrangling the band that originally debuted in the pilot for The Muppet Show in 1975. (Watch the band’s debut below.) Sources say the 10-episode comedy will begin filming in April.

The series — which will feature Dr. Teeth, Animal, Floyd Pepper, Janice, Zoot and Lips — is described as a music-filled journey in which the 45-year-old band comes face to face with the current-day music scene as they attempt to go platinum….

(18) ALIEN SCHOOL. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Or, how to be a Thermian in six “easy“ lessons. 

Digg.com has, um, dug up a short docu-feature on how the Thermans came to be so wonderfully quirky in Galaxy Quest. It’s a Class A lesson in the collaborative nature of filmmaking – where the screenwriter, director, actors, and everyone else contribute to what is eventually seen on the screen.

The singsongy, pitchy, sound of the aliens was originated by character actor Enrico Colantoni, who absolutely nailed his audition for the Thermian leader when he broke out that voice. Then they had to develop the walk, their native speech when the translator box breaks, and mannerisms for all sorts of situations. And the whole alien ensemble had to nail all of it. 

Just watch the video. You’ll love it. 

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

Sharon Lee & Steve Miller Liaden Universe® News

What’s happening in the Liaden Universe®? Sharon Lee and Steve Miller have a new update for fans. They have a lot of books and stories on the way.

FAIR TRADE. The 24th novel set in the Liaden Universe® is Fair Trade, created and written by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller. It also is the third book in the so-called “Jethri arc.” Previous volumes were: Balance of Trade and Trade Secret.

The hardcover comes out from Baen on May 3, 2022. Signed hardcovers can be preordered from Uncle Hugo ONLY.  Click here. There are eARC’s already available from Baen Books — here’s the link.

LIADEN UNIVERSE® CONSTELLATION, VOLUME 5. The new collection of Liaden Universe® stories that have already appeared elsewhere was released as a trade paperback (and a Kindle edition) on February 1.

Table of Contents: Authors’ Foreword, “Fortune’s Favors,” “Opportunity to Seize,” “Shout of Honor,” “Command Decision,” “Dark Secrets,” “A Visit to the Galaxy Ballroom,” “The Gate that Locks the Tree,” “Preferred Seating,” “Ambient Conditions,” and “Dead Men Dream.”

IN TIMES TO COME. Lee and Miller are under contract to Baen Books for more three Liaden Universe® novels after Fair Trade. Those novels are:

1 TRADE LANES, the sequel to Fair Trade — Steve Miller, Lead Writer

2 SALVAGE RIGHT — Sharon Lee, Lead Writer

3 A Liaden Novel to be Named Later — Sharon Lee, Lead Writer – probably. The authors say, “At the moment, this is looking like a return to the Redlands and checking in with Padi, Tekelia, Aunt Astra, Eet, and the gang. This could change, as all things may change, and only reflect our thoughts at the moment.”

BOSKONE 59 SCHEDULE. Steve Miller will be a virtual panelist at Boskone 59, February 18-20. Boskone is a Hybrid Convention this year. All of Miller’s panels are Virtual. His schedule is below. All times are Eastern Standard.

VIRTUAL: Unhappy Endings
18 Feb 2022, Friday 8pm – 8:50pm, Marina IV (Westin)
Jane Yolen, Steve Miller, Julie Czerneda, Paul Di Filippo (M), Ada Palmer

Tragic plays from Shakespeare, Sophocles, Aeschylus, and Euripides are still with us … hundreds, even thousands of years later. Not all stories let the protagonist triumph — sometimes they lose; sometimes they even die losing. Some science fiction and fantasy writers’ unhappily ending stories are quite popular. Why do they succeed? Why do other such stories fail — even fail so hard their authors never try to write unhappily ever after?

VIRTUAL: My Favorite Character
18 Feb 2022, Friday 9pm – 9:50pm, Marina IV (Westin)
Olav Rokne, Jen Gunnels, Steve Miller, David Marshall, James Moore (M)

Google once estimated that humanity had published 129,864,880 books. If about half were SF/F/H trilogies — never mind, let’s ask it this way: from all the speculative fiction stories ever published, who’s your favorite character, and why? Heroine, villain, sidekick, romantic interest, alien bystander? Would you like to meet, have dinner with, or be that person? What does your choice say about your own character?

VIRTUAL: Solo Reading
19 Feb 2022, Saturday 12:30 – 12:55, Marina IV (Westin)
Steve Miller

BAEN PODCAST.  Lee and Miller have a Zoom event coming up later this month — chatting with Griffin Barber about Liaden Universe® Constellation, Volume 5. See or listen to this podcast here.

Pixel Scroll 12/16/21 A Pixelness In The Scroll

(1) COLBERT’S LOTR CAST REUNION RAP. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Stephen Colbert (of The Late Show) is a self-proclaimed Lord of the Rings fanatic (both the books and the movie series).His show is going on hiatus after this week for the rest of the year and Colbert bemoaned the fact that he will not be on air to celebrate Sunday’s 20th anniversary of the theatrical release of the first LOTR movie directed by Peter Jackson.

The Late Show With Stephen Colbert assembled Elijah Wood, Sean Astin, Billy Boyd, Dominic Monaghan, Orlando Bloom, Andy Serkis, Hugo Weaving, pro rappers Killer Mike and Method Man, plus bandleader Jon Batiste, host Colbert, and (for reasons unknown) Anna Kendrick, to create a rap video that pounds home the dominance of the LOTR movie trilogy.

(2) LEE AND MILLER’S FREE HOLIDAY STORY. Steve Miller says he “is in a strange land far away from Worldcon” —

The plan was that our new Liaden story would hit the interwebz while we were off at Worldcon, but we dropped that plan awhile back due to the pandemic. The story came out on time, but we’re home in Maine! FWIW I had several convention dreams last night (guess I’m missing the whole crew!), but it still isn’t the same.

Yesterday some folks were having a hard time finding the new release, though, so this is a direct link to “From Every Storm A Rainbow”, our official free online Liaden Universe holiday story for 2021, which follows pretty hard on the heels of our recent “Bread Alone” chapbook, which ran a week or so as “#1 new release” under SF anthologies right at Thanksgiving. “Bread Alone’s” on sale in many venues now, but here’s the Amazon link.

Have a good holiday season, a good year, and we’re still hoping for Chicago….

Bests wishes from all of us here at the Cat Farm and Confusion Factory …

(3) CLARION WEST IS HIRING. The annual Clarion West Writers Workshop is looking to fill several positions – Six-Week Workshop Facilitator, Residential Workshop Administrator, and Communications Specialist. See Jobs – Clarion West for the details.

Do you believe that stories are important? Do you want to work with a diverse and passionate team to bring emerging writers to the field of speculative fiction? Do you want to support more writers of color and from traditionally underrepresented communities? Take a look at our open opportunities and see where your expertise can grow Clarion West.

(4) SITE SELECTION CONTINUES. Rich Lynch sent along this photo he took of DisCon III’s at-con Site Selection voting area.  

(5) ON YONDER SHOREHAM. Highlander tweeted a video walkthrough from the first day of DisCon III. I see John Hertz in his beanie appears around the 25-second mark.

(6) HALL COSTUMES. Ian Randal Strock tweeted a photo of cosplayers at DisCon III dressed as the TARDIS and two Doctor Who nemeses.

(7) MOFFAT TEASES WHO FANS. Radio Times plucked some juicy quotes from an hour-long conversation about Steven Moffat’s career hosted by the Oxford Union: “Steven Moffat talks Russell T Davies’ ‘fantastic’ plans for Doctor Who”.

…“I had no idea Russell was going to do that,” Moffat told Oxford Union. “He told me the night before, he sent me an email and I read it. I was just coming home from a restaurant and I thought: ‘Is that real? I’ll see if that email is still there in the morning.’

“Then I phoned him up and said, ‘Have you read [behind-the-scenes Doctor Who book] The Writer’s Tale? Have you read it? Because I think you should’,” continued Moffat. “He said, ‘I want to do it again, I’m excited, I’m thrilled.’”…

View the complete Q&A session on YouTube.

Writer of Doctor Who and Sherlock, Steven Moffat has won an Emmy award, five BAFTA Awards and four Hugo Awards. He had been a fan of Doctor Who since childhood, and is responsible for some of the most famous episodes including ‘Blink’ and ‘Silence in the Library.’ In 2015, he was appointed an Order of the British Empire for his services to drama

(8) SIGNED BY EGO. Rob Hansen has posted a real rarity at his THEN British fanhistory website – the text of a 1940s chain letter with Arthur C. Clarke as one of the participants: “FAN-MAIL (1941)”.

Here’s something I never thought I’d ever see – one of Clarke’s WW2 chain-letters. Yet, amazingly, this one has survived after 80 years. And finally seeing one has, I think, enabled me to figure out the how these chains worked, an explanation of which appears after the scans. I described them in THEN as essentially operating like APAs, but the logistics involved were a bit more complicated than that.

(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1987 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Thirty four years ago, A Muppet Family Christmas first aired on ABC. It was produced not by Jim Henson (though he did executive produce it) , a rare thing indeed, but rather by Peter Harris and Eric Till from a script by Jerry Juhl who had earlier scripted the most excellent Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas. For a Muppet film, it had an unusually large cast, to wit Gerry Parkes, Jim Henson, Frank Oz, Jerry Nelson, Richard Hunt, Dave Goelz, Steve Whitmire, Caroll Spinney, Kathryn Mullen, Karen Prell and David Rudman. 

This is one of the rare Muppet productions to feature the Muppets that were associated with all four of the major Muppet franchises: Fraggle RockMuppet Babies (who are seen here as actual puppets instead of their usual animated selves), The Muppet Show and Sesame Street

If you’ve saw it on TV and then watched it later on the North American DVD and VHS release, you might’ve notice that a lot of the original film was missing. That was because the Henson company only secured broadcast rights, not subsequent rights to songs like “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” weren’t available. 

Critics generally like it. Myles McNutt of the A.V. Club said of it that was “a love letter to the Muppets as a wide-ranging, meaningful part of viewers’ childhoods.” Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give it a most cheery eighty-eight percent rating. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 16, 1917 Arthur C. Clarke. When I was resident in Sri Lanka courtesy of Uncle Sam in the early Eighties, nearly every American ex-pat I ran into was reading The Fountains of Paradise. The tea plantations he described therein are very awesome.  I never saw him but he was well known among the small British community there and I passed by his residence one day. I’ll admit that I’ve not read that much by him — Childhood’s EndRendezvous with Rama and that novel are the only long form works by him I’ve read.  I’ve read a lot of short fiction including of course Tales from The White Hart. I’m certain I’ve read The Nine Billion Names of God collection as well. And I’ve seen 2001 myriad times but I’ve never seen the sequel. (Died 2008.)
  • Born December 16, 1927 Randall Garrett. Randall Garrett. Ahhh, Lord Darcy. When writing this up, I was gobsmacked to discover that he’d written only one such novel, Too Many Magicians, as I clearly remembered reading more than that number. Huh. That and two collections, Murder and Magic and Lord Darcy Investigates, is all there is of this brilliant series. (The later Lord Darcy collection has two previously uncollected stories.) Glen Cook’s Garrett P.I. is named in honor of Garrett.  I’ll admit I’ve not read anything else by him, so what else have y’all read? (Died 1987.)
  • Born December 16, 1928 Philip K. Dick. Dick has always been a difficult one for me to get a feel for. Mind you Blade Runner is my major touchstone for him but I’ve read the source material as well, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, and Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said which won the John W. Campbell Memorial Award, and I’ve read a lot of the shorter works, so I’d say that saying he’s a challenging writer is a Good Thing. I was surprised his only Hugo win was for at The Man in The High Castle at DisCon though Blade Runner would pick up one at ConStellation. (Died 1982.)
  • Born December 16, 1937 Peter Dickinson. Author who was married from 1991 to his death to Robin McKinley.  He had a number of truly great works, both genre and not genre, including EvaThe Tears of the Salamander and The Flight of DragonsThe Ropemaker garnered a well-deserved Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature. His James Pibble upper-class British mystery series are quite excellent as well. (Died 2015.)
  • Born December 16, 1957 Mel Odom, 64. An author deep into mining franchise universes with work done into the BuffyverseOutlandersTime PoliceRogue Angel (which I’ve listen to a lot as GraphicAudio as produced them as most excellent audioworks) and weirder stuff such as the Left Behind Universe and Tom Clancy’s Net Force Explorers, both I think game tie-ins. 
  • Born December 16, 1961 Jon Tenney, 60. He’s best known as Special Agent Fritz Howard on The Closer and continued in its spinoff Major Crimes, but he does have genre creds. He played Jimmy Wells in The Phantom, Martin Jordon in Green Lantern, and Lt. Ching in two episodes in Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. He also showed up on Tales from the Crypt, Outer Limits and neXt
  • Born December 16, 1967 Miranda Otto, 54. She was Éowyn in the second and third installments of Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings film franchise. (I stopped watching after The Fellowship of The Rings.) She‘s Zelda Spellman in Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, and Mary Ann Davis in Spielberg’s version of The War of The Worlds. She also played Wueen Lenore inI, Frankenstein which had an amazing cast even if the tomatometer at Rotten Tomatoes gives it a five percent rating meaning the critics really didn’t like it.

(11) GUESS WHAT? This March, make way for the new Sorcerer Supreme!

With Doctor Strange dead, another sorcerer has taken the title, or should we say Sorceress? Clea, mistress of the Dark Dimension and Stephen Strange’s powerful partner, will rise to the challenge of defending earth from mystical and otherworldly danger in writer Jed MacKay’s STRANGE #1! Featuring artwork by AMAZING SPIDER-MAN artist Marcelo Ferreira, this all-new ongoing series will spin directly out of the story still unfolding in MacKay’s DEATH OF DOCTOR STRANGE. 

.. Here’s what MacKay had to say about continuing this unprecedented Doctor Strange saga:

“After the apocalyptic events of The Death of Doctor Strange, there’s a new Sorcerer Supreme in residence at 177A Bleecker Street, and a new Doctor Strange- Clea Strange. And she’s got her work cut out for her- when she’s not fighting off the magical gangsters of the Blasphemy Syndicate, or battling undead super-monsters, she’s going after what’s hers: the late Stephen Strange. Clea is of the Faltine, that race of Warlords and conquerors, and like her relatives Dormammu and Umar, she will not be thwarted in her desires, not even by the mysterious Harvestman standing in her way.”

(12) NOW PLAYING. You can listen to Connie Willis and Nalo Hopkinson’s LOA Live appearance to promote American Christmas Stories on Soundcloud or watch the program on the Library of America website.

(13) FLICK PICKS. Wired presents its list of “The Best Sci-Fi Movies of 2021”. They start with Dune, but let’s skip ahead to one you haven’t read a million words about:

… Perhaps, at this stage, you’d prefer your women on the more visible side of things. If so, consider the French film Oxygen (Netflix), whose main—nearly only—character is a scientist played by the marvelous Mélanie Laurent. She wakes up in an AI-controlled cryogenic pod and must figure out how to escape it before the titular oxygen runs out. Who put her there? Where even is there? Soon enough, she begins to remember a man. A husband. The love of her life. Who died in a horrible pandemic back on Earth. Yes, that’s it: She’s part of a mission to save the human race, predicted to die out completely in two generations….

(14) A BIG DEAL. Radio Times fills us in on the new owner’s ambitions for Bad Wolf: “Doctor Who’s Bad Wolf could be biggest drama producer in UK, says Sony”.

Sony Pictures has invested £50 million into Welsh drama producer Bad Wolf, in the hopes of helping the maker of Doctor Who and His Dark Materials reach its “zenith”.

Wayne Garvie, Sony’s president of international production, recently revealed his hopes that Bad Wolf could become “the biggest drama producer in Britain and in Europe” (via BBC News).

He said: “We have invested in a company that has not reached its zenith. We have [another] company called Left Bank Pictures who make The Crown, which you may have watched, and which is Britain’s biggest drama company. And we built that together with the founders of the company over about eight years or so.

“And we want to do the same with Bad Wolf. There is no reason why Bad Wolf should not be or could not be the biggest drama producer in Britain and in Europe. And that is our ambition.”

(15) KEEPING TRACK OF CENSORSHIP. “School Library Journal Starts a Library Censorship Tips Hotline” reports Book Riot.

…In response to this wave of censorship attempts, the School Library Journal has opened a library censorship tips hotline, which allows library professionals to report censorship attempts anonymously. Hopefully, this will give a more complete picture than the ALA numbers and shed light on censorship happening that is not getting covered on the news. The censorship tips hotline form asks for name and email (both optional); the library/school district, and state; and a comments field: “Tell us who is behind the objection—parents, school board members, or other parties—and how the district/library responded. Was challenge policy followed? Let us know anything else relevant.”…

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. The How It Should Have Ended gang have an opinion about Spider-Man.

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, N., Steve Miller, Rob Thornton, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Rob Thornton, part of “The Hugo Pixel Scroll Winners” series.]

Pixel Scroll 12/12/21 To Your Scattered Pixels Go

(1) THE RIGHT PANTS. Sharon Lee assures Facebook readers it can be done. Repeatedly.

So, the question arises on Twitter — Is it possible to pants — i.e. write outline-free — an entire novel?

Er, yes, it is possible to pants an entire novel — or even 34 entire novels. It’s not neat, and there’s a certain amount of waste involved, but, let’s face it, I’m never going to outline a novel. How could you even DO that? Things are gonna change as you go along, anyway.

(2) SHOPPING LIST. In the second part of his Christmas book round up, Michael Dirda reviews The Ray Bradbury Compendium! Also, American Christmas Stories edited by Connie Willis. “Books make the best gifts. Here are seven surprising choices for the readers on your list” in the Washington Post.

Years ago, I was invited to write a letter recommending Ray Bradbury for a special Pulitzer Prize. Anne Farr Hardin helped organize that successful effort, largely out of her affection and admiration for the author who gave us “Fahrenheit 451,” “The Martian Chronicles,” “Dandelion Wine” and “Something Wicked This Way Comes” (all, by the way, available in a new Library of America volume edited by our leading Bradbury scholar, Jonathan Eller). Hardin’s own fabulous Bradbury collection — now housed at the University of South Carolina and the basis for this annotated catalogue — features warmly inscribed books, personal letters, rare pulp magazines, manuscripts, photographs, poems, Christmas greetings and all kinds of memorabilia, even Bradbury’s famous bicycle, now painstakingly restored.

(3) FILLING IN THE BLANKETYS. “’They were a bit abrasive’: how kids’ TV Clangers secretly swore” — “The son of Oliver Postgate, creator of the 1970s show, reveals what was in the scripts for the delightful and puzzling swannee-whistle creatures” in the Guardian.

…“People have often wondered whether there was swearing,” said Postgate, who revived the show for a new generation in 2015. He is surprised, he said, by the idea the soundtrack of whistles could ever have been entirely improvised. “Some people don’t realise that the scripts were written in English. And those who do often speculate on whether a certain amount of bad language – swearing, to be blunt – had been slipped into their conversations.”…

(4) UNDERGROUND LITERATURE. Londoners know all about this, but it was news to me – every month they post poetry on the Tube. If you can’t make it there, you can read this month’s Poems on the Underground at the link. (Or the poems from November 2021 here; all of 2021 here; and all of 2020 here.) Some of this month’s selections are of genre interest — beginning with Margaret Atwood.

(5) SECOND REITH LECTURE. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] The second of the 2021 Reith Lectures can be heard on BBC Radio 4. The lecture can be downloaded from here for a month. (After that search for it on BBC iSounds.)

AI in warfare – Episode 2 of 4

Skynet is not the problem…

Stuart Russell warns of the dangers of developing autonomous weapon systems – arguing for a system of global control. Weapons that locate, select, and engage human targets without human supervision are already available for use in warfare,. Some argue that AI will reduce collateral damage and civilian casualties. Others believe it could kill on a scale not seen since Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Will future wars be fought entirely by machines, or will one side surrender only when its real losses, military or civilian, become unacceptable? Professor Russell will examine the motivation of major powers developing these types of weapons, the morality of creating algorithms that decide to kill humans, and possible ways forward for the international community as it struggles with these questions.

Stuart Russell is Professor of Computer Science and founder of the Center for Human-Compatible Artificial Intelligence at the University of California, Berkeley.

There was also an accompanying science programme later that day: “Rutherford and Fry on Living with AI”.

What if a despotic leader could programme a swarm of drones to kill a set of identified targets with just the push of a button? Due to ever expanding AI capabilities this extreme dystopian vision may not be technically unfeasible. In this second of a four part series responding to this year’s BBC Reith lectures from Stuart Russell, Adam Rutherford and Hannah Fry unpick the role of AI in warfare.

Joining them to help them navigate the battlefield of information is Ulrike Franke, a senior policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations who specialises in the future of warfare.

Together they will be investigating ‘lethal autonomous weapons’ – these are weapons that can find, chose and kill human targets without human supervision. We will be discussing how advanced this technology actually is – some think the world may have already experienced the first ever autonomous strike in Libya. What are the repercussions of this technology for safety on the battlefield , and what are the wider geo-political ramifications?

Stuart Russell has deep concerns over the development of these types of weapons and Rutherford and Fry pick apart some of the ethical debates this technology raises. Who would be responsible if a system malfunctioned and killed a civilian? What’s to stop it getting into the wrong hands? Should we even be creating these weapons in the first place – do we instead need a convention banning them? And is that even possible?

(6) ANNE RICE (1941-2021). The author of Interview With the Vampire, Anne Rice, died December 11 at the age of 80 due to complications resulting from a stroke.

Interestingly, Rice’s Interview With the Vampire received many rejections, until Rice attended a writer’s conference conducted by Ray Nelson, where she met her future literary agent, Phyllis Seidel, who sold the book. (Ray Nelson is a writer, and also the fanartist whose cartoons popularized the image of beanie-wearing fans.)

 The Guardian notes:

…Rice wrote a further 12 novels in the Vampire Chronicles series, and was dismissive of the sparkly, vegetarian version of vampires made popular in Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series, saying she felt “sorry for vampires that sparkle in the sun” and that Lestat “would never hurt immortals who choose to spend eternity going to high school over and over again in a small town”.

…Rice was also known for her erotic fiction Sleeping Beauty series

Her son Christopher eulogized her death on Facebook:

(7) MEMORY LANE.

1971 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Fifty years ago at Noreascon 1 where Robert Silverberg was the Toastmaster, Theodore Sturgeon won the Hugo for the Short Story for his “Slow Sculpture“ story that had been published in the February 1970 of Galaxy. Other nominated works were R. A. Lafferty‘s “Continued on Next Rock”, Gordon R. Dickson‘s “Jean Duprès”, Keith Laumer’s “In The Queue” and Ben Bova and Harlan Ellison‘s “Brillo”. It would also win a Nebula Award, but in the Novella category. Note that the Galaxy cover calls it a Novelette thereby giving us a hat trick.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 12, 1891 Malcolm Jameson. His “Blind Alley” novella, first published in the June 1943 issue of Unknown,was used for the Twilight Zone episode “Of Late I Think of Cliffordville”. It was broadcast on April 11, 1963. He only wrote three novels but penned over seventy short stories. Kindle, though not Apple Books, has most of his fiction at very reasonable rates. (Died 1945.)
  • Born December 12, 1944 Ginjer Buchanan, 77. Longtime Editor-in-Chief at Ace Books and Roc Books where she worked for three decades until recently. She received a Hugo in Best Editor, Long Form at Loncon 3 after five previous nominations. She has a novel, White Silence, in the Highlander metaverse, and three short stories in anthologies edited by Mike Resnick. And she’s a Browncoat as she has an essay, “Who Killed Firefly?” in the Jane Espenson edited Finding Serenity: Anti-Heroes, Lost Shepherds and Space Hookers in Joss Whedon’s Firefly.
  • Born December 12, 1945 – Karl Edward Wagner. Trained as a psychiatrist, Wagner quickly abandoned the medical profession in favour of writing and editing. Nowadays, he is best remembered for the adventures of the immortal warrior Kane (implied to be the Cain from the Bible), who appeared in three novels and twenty short stories and novellas between 1970 and 1994 and even met Michael Moorcock’s Elric of Melniboné in one story. The Kane stories rejuvenated the sword and sorcery genre and are considered precursors to today’s grimdark fantasy. Wagner’s Robert E. Howard pastiches, the Conan pastiche The Road of Kings and the Bran Mak Morn pastiche Legion of Shadows, are considered among the best of the many Howard pastiches. Wagner was also an acclaimed horror author and his 1974 story “Sticks” is believed to have inspired the movie The Blair Witch Project. Between 1987 and 1991, Wagner edited three volumes of the heroic fantasy anthology Echoes of Valor and was the first to publish stories like Robert E. Howard’s “The Black Stranger” or Fritz Leiber’s “Adept’s Gambit” in their original, unaltered form. Wagner was also the editor of the Year’s Best Horror Storiesanthologies from 1980 to his death in 1994. Together with David Drake, he founded the publishing house Carcosa, which specialised in reprinting pulp era fantasy and horror stories. Wagner won the World Fantasy, Stoker and British Fantasy Award and the special British Fantasy Award for contributions to the genre is named after him. Wagner is the subject of the 2020 documentary The Last Wolf: Karl Edward Wagner, which may be viewed on Vimeo. There is also a podcast about his life and work named The Dark Crusade. (Died 1994)  [By Cora Buhlert.]
  • Born December 12, 1946 Josepha Sherman. Writer and folklorist who was a Compton Crook Award winner for The Shining Falcon which was based on the Russian fairy tale The Feather of Finist the Falcon. She was a prolific writer both on her own and with other writers such as Mercedes Lackey with whom she wrote A Cast of Corbies, and two Buffyverse novels with Laura Anne Gilman.  I knew her personally as a folklorist first and that is she was without peer writing such works as Rachel the Clever: And Other Jewish Folktales and Greasy Grimy Gopher Guts: The Subversive Folklore of Childhood that she wrote with T K F Weisskopf.  Neat lady who died far too soon after falling on harsh circumstances. Let me leave you with an essay she wrote on Winter for Green Man some twenty years ago, “Josepha Sherman’s Winter Queen Speech”  (Died 2012.)
  • Born December 12, 1949 Bill Nighy, 72. Yes, he shows up as Dr. Black on Who in an Eleventh Doctor story, “Vincent and the Doctor”. He’d make a fine Doctor, I’d say. He’s done a lot of other genre performances from the known, Davy Jones in Pirates of the Caribbean franchise and Slartibartfast in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, to other blink-and-he’s-gone, as when he played the ENT Doc in Curse of the Pink Panther. (Yes, ENT Doctor, not EMT Doctor.) He’s John Kildare in the most excellent The Limehouse Golem.
  • Born December 12, 1956 Noël Sturgeon, 65. Daughter of Theodore Sturgeon. And yes she’s has genre creds though ISFDB doesn’t list them as she has edited Slow Sculpture: Volume XII: The Complete Stories of Theodore Sturgeon and The Complete Stories of Theodore Sturgeon, Volume XIII: Case and the Dreamer. She’s a tenured academic who has two published works to date, Ecofeminist Natures: Race, Gender, Feminist Theory and Political Action and Environmentalism in Popular Culture: Gender, Race, Sexuality, and the Politics of the Natural. Hardcore stuff that. 
  • Born December 12, 1959 Beth Bernobich, 62. Her novel, A Study in Honor, won for Best Lesbian Mystery at Lambda Literary Awards. (The Hound of Justice novel picked up a second nomination for the same Award.) Her River of Souls series, of which the second book, Queen’s Hunt was longlisted for a David Gemmell Awards for Fantasy, is quite good. 
  • Born December 12, 1961 Sarah Sutton, 60. She’s best known for her role as Nyssa who was a Companion to both the Fourth and Fifth Doctors.  She reprised the role of Nyssa in the 1993 Children In Need special Dimensions in Time, and of course in the Big Finish audio dramas. She’s in The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot.
  • Born December 12, 1970 Mädchen Amick, 51. I remember her first as Ariel, the shapeshifter who was Roarke’s second-in-command, on the second Fantasy Island which I had no idea only lasted for only thirteen episodes. But her first genre role was on Next Gen as Young Anya in “The Dauphin” several before she played Shelly Johnson on Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me, a role she reprised on Twin Peaks and the recent Twin Peaks in which she’s renamed Shelly Briggs. 
  • Born December 12, 1976 Tim Pratt, 45. I think his best work was his very first novel which was The Strange Adventures of Rangergirl but there’s no doubt that later work such as The Constantine AfflictionBone Shop and The Stormglass Protocol are equally superb. That’s not to overlook his short fiction which you’ve not tried it you should and I’d recommend Little God as a good place to start. 

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • Foxtrot’s “The Spice Must Flow” suggests that perhaps nutmeg and  melange are similar. (Hey, melange could almost be read as “allspice”, right?)

(10) MORE SEASONING. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] They could call this “Spice: The Final Frontier!”

Dune Spice Wars is an upcoming real-time strategy game with 4X elements and featuring asymmetrical gameplay, as well as multiple playable factions.

(11) YOUR SCI-FI DOCENT. Star Trek writer Marc Scott Zicree takes you on a tour of the “Star Trek: Exploring New Worlds” exhibit at Skirball Cultural Center in LA.

(12) IT RUNS IN THE FAMILY. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Laura Sheppard Churchley, the daughter of pioneering American astronaut Alan Shepard, was among those on the latest suborbital launch by Blue Origin. And, oh yeah, some famous guy was also in the capsule. Can you guess which one was named in the headline and the lede? “Strahan flies to space with astronaut’s daughter: ‘Wow!’”

Football star and TV celebrity Michael Strahan caught a ride to space with Jeff Bezos’ rocket-launching company Saturday, sharing the trip with the daughter of America’s first astronaut.

“TOUCHDOWN has a new meaning now!!!” he tweeted after landing.

Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket blasted off from West Texas, sending the capsule on a 10-minute flight with the two VIP guests and four paying customers. Their automated capsule soared to an altitude of 66 miles (106 kilometers), providing a few minutes of weightlessness before parachuting into the desert. The booster also came back to land successfully….

(13) GET A LIFE, KEEP A LIFE. Meanwhile, William Shatner is still holding onto that sense of wonder inspired by his Blue Origin trip. He declares, “The Future Is Worth Fighting For, And Fans Will Lead The Way” at SlashFilm.

So. I’m back from space.

I saw just how fragile our home, this spinning blue ball, really is in the depthless darkness with my own eyes and I was moved. It made all the constant static we are surrounded with evaporate and gave a clarity unknown to me.

If only the world could see what I saw — this comforter of blue that surrounds us. When everyone can see how fragile and special life is, we will finally see ourselves as one community, one people.

This past August I was in the green room of a San Jose pop culture convention when I was approached by two men — one dressed in jeans and a t-shirt, the other wearing an Indiana Jones costume complete with bullwhip. They didn’t want a selfie, but instead pitched me on a startup (this was Silicon Valley, after all) – Legion M, an entertainment company built from the ground up to be owned by fans.

It’s a simple but brilliant idea: Harness the wisdom and power of the community. Shorten the distance between creators and consumers. Give people a say in what gets made and a stake in the outcome. Grow that community large enough, and you could potentially change the way entertainment is produced forever. A big idea….

[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Rich Horton, N., Steven French, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Daniel Dern, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Steve Davidson, part of “The Hugo Pixel Scroll Winners” series.]

Pixel Scroll 9/1/21 Pixel At The Well Of Scrolls

(1) LIADEN UNIVERSE BULLETIN. Sharon Lee and Steve Miller report from the wilds of Maine on what’s upcoming.

  • Their fifth Liaden Universe Collection, Liaden Universe Constellation V, will be published February 1, 2022.
  • A mass market 30th anniversary reprint of Local Custom, a Liaden Universe® novel by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, is coming  November 30, 2021. 
  • A Sharon Lee and Steve Miller Liaden holiday story is slated for mid-November at Baen.com, title and exact release date TBD.
  • Sooner than that: The mass-market version of Trader’s Leap by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller will be released September 28, 2021 — it is currently available in hardback and ebook. 
  • Sharon Lee and Steve Miller are the Guests of Honor at Albacon 2021 in September — held over from last year. This year it’ll be a virtual con held September 17-18.
  • Their chapbook Bad Actors, was published July 31, 2021 from the authors’ Pinbeam Books imprint and is widely available in ebook and paper. That’s their 33rd “Adventures in the Liaden Universe” chapbook. 
  • Also, on July 26, Sharon Lee and Steve Miller turned in Fair Trade, a Liaden Universe novel (#24), which is due to be published next year by Baen. The follow-up novel is under contract and started, due to be turned in next year. Two more Liaden novels are under contract thereafter.

(2) ADAPT & IMPROVE. Charlie Jane Anders’ newsletter discusses “Everything I Learned From Working on Season One of Y: The Last Man”.

Working on season one of Y: The Last Man was one of the coolest experiences of my life. I got to be in a writer’s room with some of the smartest minds in the biz, and learned a ton about story structure  — and how to think on your feet when your episode has to change completely for the ninth time, because we rethought the endgame of the season. But I also got a crash course in how to adapt and update a beloved classic. 

In Y: The Last Man, a mysterious event kills every mammal with a Y chromosome, except for one dude named Yorick Brown, and his pet monkey Ampersand. This is the setup for an epic journey across a shattered United States with the mysterious Agent 355 and the brilliant scientist Dr. Allison Mann. It’s also a vehicle for talking about what a world without patriarchy would look like, and how the survivors would rebuild, and expand to fill the spaces left by cis men. I love the comic’s playful approach to genre and the madcap verve with which it keeps reinventing itself, and I’m here for the “found family” aspect with the central trio. This is the comic that made me a fan of both writer Brian K. Vaughan and artist Pia Guerra.

There’s just one problem: the comic largely ignores the existence of trans people (and when it does mention us, the treatment is much worse than I had remembered.) Like many other classics, Y: The Last Man reflects the time when it was created — and when we adapt the things we love, we also have an obligation to update and improve them, especially where they have the potential to do harm to a marginalized community here and now….

(3) MOVING RIGHT ALONG. In conjunction with the new Amazon Prime TV show, Orbit UK is releasing the entire set of The Wheel of Time books in paperback with new covers, all of them showcased in a nifty animated GIF (which I’ll link to rather than embed so the strobe effect won’t drive us all to distraction.)

There’s also an Instagram video version with musical accompaniment. Design by Duncan Spilling. The books go on sale September 16 in the UK, just in time for folks to read The Eye of the World before the TV show is released in November

(4) A FOCUS ON NATURE. The South Pasadena (CA) Public Library is calling for patrons to Vote for One City One Story. This year’s theme is “Navigating Nature.” Two of the five titles proposed by the staff are genre. A video about the program is here. Voting ends at midnight on September 10, 2021. The winning title will be announced on September 27, 2021.

  • Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds & Shape Our Futures by Merlin Sheldrake
  • The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben
  • Dune by Frank Herbert
  • Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler
  • Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward

(5) NO SECOND FIFTH. Chapter 61 of Camestros Felapton’s Debarkle is called “The Sad Demise of the SP5” but I remember laughing more than crying. Because when Declan Finn tried to commandeer the Sad Puppy steering wheel, Sarah Hoyt and Amanda Green smacked him with a rolled-up internet.

…While not mentioning Declan Finn by name, the post title identified his post as the issue. By using the name “Sad Puppies” Finn had apparently crossed a line, even though his open campaigning during Sad Puppies 4 had not visibly caused offence.

Green was clear though. Sad Puppies 5 was coming soon….

Green was also clear that she would be helping Hoyt with SP5 and also be taking over the reins (leads?) for SP6.

Facing a sudden and unexpected backlash to his list Declan Finn came to the only possible conclusion he could make. The negative reaction he was receiving must be coming from the comment section of the popular fanzine File 770!… 

(6) AN OUNCE OF PREVENTION. R. Talsorian Games is bowing out of Gen Con, which is happening September 16-19: “RTG Exiting Gen Con 2021”.

After considerable internal discussion, R. Talsorian Games has decided to exit Gen Con 2021. We don’t do this lightly. We had planned on our biggest Gen Con yet this year, with more events than ever, more booth space than ever, and a larger crew than ever.

And that’s why, in good conscience, we cannot attend the convention. The health and safety of our crew comes first and the numbers in Indiana are abysmal. The vaccination rates are too low, the positivity rates and new case rates too high, and the social mandates designed to protect people too few. If even one member of our crew caught COVID-19 while attending Gen Con or carried it home to their loved ones and their local community, that would be one too many.

At R. Talsorian Games, we write about Dark Futures for fun, but we also believe we have a responsibility to try and prevent them from happening.

We want to make it clear, we do not blame the staff of Gen Con 2021 or the Indiana Convention Center in any way. 

(7) AUREALIS AWARDS NEWS. The 2021 Aurealis Awards are open for entry through December 14.

The Aurealis Awards, Australia’s premier awards for speculative fiction, are for works created by an Australian citizen or permanent resident, and published for the first time between 1 January 2021 and 31 December 2021.

Full Award Rules and FAQ can be found on the Aurealis Awards website.

The Aurealis Awards judges welcome electronic entries in all categories, including novels, short stories, novellas, illustrated work / graphic novels, collections, anthologies, children’s and young adult fiction.

Finalists of all award categories will be announced early in 2022 and winners announced at a ceremony to take place in the first half of the year. For more information on the awards or for the entry form, visit the Aurealis Awards website at https://aurealisawards.org/.

The Convenors’ Award for Excellence is also open to entries.

This is awarded at the discretion of the convenors for a particular achievement in speculative fiction or related areas in the year that cannot otherwise be judged for the Aurealis Awards.

(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • 1974 – Forty-seven years ago today, Jefferson Starship’s Dragon Fly was released on Grunt Records, a vanity label founded in 1971 by themselves. It was the debut album for the recently renamed Jefferson Airplane. The entire album is somewhat SF in nature, particularly  “All Fly Away” and “Hyperdrive”.  Two years later, the latter song would be used in the opening ceremonies at MidAmeriCon.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 1, 1875 — Edgar Rice Burroughs. Bradbury declared him “the most influential writer in the entire history of the world.” Now I’d not necessarily disagree or agree with that statement but I said last year that he has largely fallen out of public notice and I’ll stand by that claim. So what’s your favorite works by him? The Barsoom stories are mine. (Died 1950.)
  • Born September 1, 1942 — C. J. Cherryh, 79. I certainly think the Hugo Award-winning Downbelow Station and Cyteen are amazing works but I think my favorite works by her are the Merchanter novels such as Rimrunners. Anyone familiar with “Cassandra“, the short story she won a Hugo for at Seacon ‘79? What’s it part of? 
  • Born September 1, 1943 — Erwin Strauss, 79. I’m not sure I can do him justice. Uberfan, noted member of the MITSFS, and filk musician. He frequently is known by the nickname “Filthy Pierre” which I’m sure is a story in itself that one of you will no doubt tell me. Created the Voodoo message board system used at a number of cons and published an APA, The Connection, that ran for at least thirty years. Do tell me about him. 
  • Born September 1, 1952 — Timothy Zahn, 69. Apparently he’s known more these days for the Thrawn series of Star Wars novels, but oh, ok, so it is perhaps better written and more interesting than his mainstream genre sf. His sole Hugo Award was at L.A.Con II for his “Cascade Point” novella, and he get a nomination at Aussiecon Two for “Return to the Fold” novelette. 
  • Born September 1, 1952 — Brad Linaweaver. Alternate history Moon of Ice is one of his better works and it won the Prometheus Award for Best Libertarian SF Novel. It was nominated for a Nebula though oddly as a novella which it was originally published as. He owned the brass cannon which was the property of the Heinleins and which Virginia bequeathed to him in her will. (Died 2019.)
  • Born September 1, 1964 — Martha Wells, 57. She’s won two Nebula Awards, three Locus Awards, and two Hugo Awards.  Impressive. And she was toastmaster of the World Fantasy Convention in 2017 where she delivered a speech called “Unbury the Future”. Need I note the Muderbot Diaries are truly amazing reading?
  • Born September 1, 1967 — Steve Pemberton, 54. He’s on the Birthday List for being Strackman Lux in the most excellent Eleventh Doctor stories of “Silence in the Library” and “Forest of the Dead” but he has other genre credits including being Drumknott in Terry Pratchett’s Going Postal, Professor Mule in the Gormenghast series and Harmony in the Good Omens series as well.
  • Born September 1, 1968 — Zak Penn, 53. He wrote the script for The Incredible Hulk, co-wrote the scripts for X2X-Men: The Last Stand, and the story but not the script for The Avengers. With Michael Karnow, Penn is the co-creator of the Alphas series. He contributed to the script of The Men in Black. 

(10) INSIDE LYNCH’S DUNE. At Deadline, “‘Dune’ 1984: Francesca Annis, The Original Lady Jessica, Lifts The Lid On Life Behind The Scenes Of David Lynch’s Epic, The ‘Heaven’s Gate’ Of Sci-Fi”. The interviewer is the actress’ son.

…It’s kind of funny. You were well known for doing a lot of well-received classical and period film, TV and stage work. But just before Dune, you’d also done Peter Yates’ Krull, which was another massive-budget sci-fi adventure movie. People don’t know the movie well these days but it was a big production. And sadly, another big flop…

Yes, it’s been a shame for me — or maybe it was a hidden blessing — that the few very big-budget things I’ve done didn’t take off, otherwise I would have risen with them…

When you first read the script for Dune did it seem complicated or convoluted? People have always said how difficult the novels would be to adapt…

I’ll tell you, when I first went to see the film at the premiere — and I’ve only seen it once – as soon as Princess Irulan started to talk in voice-over at the beginning, explaining the story, I thought “Uh oh, this film is in trouble.” Any Hollywood film that has to explain itself in detail at the beginning is in trouble…

My experience of working on Dune was that if David Lynch had been able to make his own film, it would have been brilliant, but unfortunately Dino oversaw every single tiny thing. Dino was already thinking about the video sales. David had wanted to make the scenes very dark, all the underworlds very dark and look very sinister. Dino wouldn’t allow it. It had to be lit brightly so that it would transfer well to video, where I think at that time things went down a shade. David and DoP Freddie Francis were constantly being hamstrung and I don’t think David made the film he wanted to make.

I was a big David Lynch fan. I thought he was terrific. But Dino was a huge personality. He had tapped David to do multiple films….

(11) SCOTS WITCH HISTORY. “Double, double toil and trouble: New exhibition uncovers the dark history of witchcraft in Scotland” reports The Press and Journal.

The exhibition is aptly named “Toil & Trouble” as a homage to a poem spoken by the witches in William Shakespeare’s Macbeth, which was first performed in 1606 – a time when accusations of witchcraft were rife.

Examining and compiling the dark history of witchcraft into an online experience, the students focused specifically on the period between the 16th and 18th centuries.

The exhibition has launched this week, just as Holyrood heard a plea for the Queen to pardon thousands of Scottish women brutally killed in witch trials.

The online exhibit can be accessed here: “Toil and Trouble · Toil and Trouble: Witchcraft in Scotland”.

(12) VISIT THE CONCATE-NATION. SF² Concatenation has just Tweeted an advance alert of an article ahead of their seasonal edition.

In 2017 an oddly-shaped object whizzed through the Solar system.

Astronomer and SF author Duncan Lunan looks at some exotic, some positively SFnal, explanations.

(13) HAIR TODAY, GONE TOMORROW. Heroes & Icons tells “The Story of the Signature Star Trek Sideburn”.

…The origin of the distinct sideburn pointiness came after filming the second pilot for the series, Where No Man Has Gone Before, which is the last episode you can find of Kirk and the crew sporting normal sidebdurns. “Normal” being a lot bushier for the 60’s mind you.

With the series being picked up, Gene Roddenberry wanted the cast to commit to having a futuristic hairstyle going forward. For the sole reason of wanting a social life outside the set without having to look like men of the future, the cast disagreed….

(14) HONEST GAME TRAILERS. Fandom Games says “NEO: The World Begins With You” lets you reenter a world where “Spiky-haired protagonists with terrible fashion sense” enter “history’s hippest purgatory.”

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “The Marvel Leak Protection Tutorial” on Screen Rant and written by Seb Decter, Jack Eastcott plays C.I  Foreman., MCU Leak preventer, who warns “those nerds are everywhere” and if you see an MCU actor on the set squirming, it’s because this guy has cue cards telling the guy not to leak.(This dropped today and Ryan George doesn’t have anything to do with this one.)

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Jeffrey Smith, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, James Davis Nicoll, Steve Miller, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Jon Meltzer.]

Pixel Scroll 3/7/21 You’ve Got Tribbles! Right Here In Riverworld City!

(1) WHEN WILL YOU MAKE AN END? Unlike other recent kerfuffles, John Scalzi has a good deal to say about the copyright controversy in “Two Tweet Threads About Copyright” at Whatever.

Background: Writer Matthew Yglesias, who should have known better but I guess needed the clicks, offered up the opinion that the term of copyright should be shortened to 30 years (currently in the US it’s Life+70 years). This naturally outraged other writers, because copyrights let them make money. This caused a writer by the name of Tim Lee to wonder why people were annoyed by Yglesias’ thought exercise, since he thought 30 years was more than enough time for people to benefit from their books (NB: Lee has not written a book himself), and anyway, as he said in a follow up tweet: “Nobody writes a book so that the royalties will support them in retirement decades later. They’re mostly thinking about the money they’ll make in the next few years.”

This is where I come in….

6. The moral/ethical case is ironically the easiest to make: think of the public good! And indeed the public domain is a vital good, which should be celebrated and protected — no copyright should run forever. It should be tied to the benefit of the creator, then to the public.

7. Where you run into trouble is arguing to a creator that *their* copyright should be *less* than the term of their life (plus a little bit for family). It’s difficult enough to make money as a creator; arguing that tap should be stoppered in old age, is, well. *Unconvincing.*

8. Likewise, limiting that term limits a creator’s ability to earn from their work in less effable ways. If there’s a 30-year term of copyright and my work is at year 25, selling a movie/tv option is likely harder, not only because production takes a long time (trust me)…

9. …but also because after a certain point, it would make sense to just wait out the copyright and exclude the originator entirely. A too-short copyright term has an even *shorter* economic shelf-life than the term, basically. Why on earth would creators agree to that?

The comments at Whatever include this one by Kurt Busiek distinguishing patent and copyright protections:

“I’m not sure I understand why copyright and patent terms are such different lengths. My father is an electronic engineer who designed an extremely successful glassbreak sensor (e.g. for home security systems). Guess how long a patent term is at max? Twenty years from date of filing. It’s a far cry from 120 years or life+70 for copyright.”

Because patents and copyrights cover different kinds of things.

On the one hand, patents are often more crucial — if we had to wait 120 years for penicillin to go into the public domain, that hampers researchers and harms the public much more than if we had to wait that long for James Bond. The public domain needs that stuff sooner.
If you patent a process that allows solar radiation to be collected and stored by a chip, then anyone who wants to do that has to license the process from you, even if they came up with it independently. You’ve got a monopoly on the whole thing.

But if you write a book about hobbits on a quest to dunk some dangerous mystic bling in lava, well, people can’t reprint your book or make a movie out of it without securing permission. But they can still write a book about halflings out to feed some dangerous mystic bling to the ice gnoles — what’s protected by copyright is that particular story, not the underlying plot structure. Tolkien gets a monopoly on his particular specific expression of those ideas, not on piece of science that can be used a zillion different ways.

I’m sure there are other reasons, but those two illustrate the basic idea, I hope.

(2) RIGHTS MAKE MIGHT. Elizabeth Bear’s contribution to the dialog about copyrights is pointing her Throwanotherbearinthecanoe newsletter audience at three installments of NPR’s Planet Money podcast that follows the process of gaining rights to a superhero. At the link you can hear the audio or read a transcript.

Here’s an excerpt from the third podcast:

…SMITH: The daughter of the original artist who created Micro-Face, Al Ulmer. Maybe we should have our lawyers here just in case it gets a little litigious. After the break.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MALONE: You want to start by just telling us your name and who you are?

LOUCKS: Hi. Yes. I’m Peggy Loucks (ph), and I’m 83 years old. And I’m a retired librarian. And I’m the daughter of Allen Ulmer – U-L-M-E-R.

SMITH: When we found out that Al Ulmer’s daughter, Peggy, was still alive, I was thinking, yes. I have so many questions for her.

MALONE: I, on the other hand, was nervous because, look; we don’t need Peggy’s permission to do anything with her father’s character, Micro-Face, since he is in the public domain. But like, look; if she hates this project, I mean…

SMITH: Yeah, it would be a jerk move to be like, tough luck, lady; we’re taking your father’s idea and completely changing it and making a fortune off of it. So we started off with some easy questions for Peggy.

MALONE: Do you know what he thought about drawing superheroes? Did he enjoy doing superheroes in particular, creating them?

LOUCKS: Oh, yes. You know, the – especially some of these characters, they were always in tights with capes and, you know, some kind of headgear or masks.

SMITH: So what was your father like as a person?

LOUCKS: You know, he would’ve been really someone you would like to have known and been in their company. You know, he was a gourmet cook. His beef Wellington was to die for. We always waited for that….

(3) STAY TUNED TO THIS STATION. Amazon dropped a trailer for The Underground Railroad, based on Colson Whitehead’s alternate history novel. All episodes begin streaming on Amazon Prime Video on May 14.

From Academy Award® winner Barry Jenkins and based on the Pulitzer Prize winning novel by Colson Whitehead, “The Underground Railroad” chronicles Cora Randall’s desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South. After escaping a Georgia plantation for the rumored Underground Railroad, Cora discovers no mere metaphor, but an actual railroad beneath the Southern soil.

(4) AURORA AWARDS. The Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Association has announced an updated Aurora Awards calendar.

Nominations will now open on March 27th, 2021. Nominations will now close on April 24th, 2021. The ballot will now be announced on May 8th, 2021.

The Voter’s Package will now be available on May 29th, 2021.

After that date, the calendar will be back on track.

Voting will open July 31st, 2021. Voting will close September 4th, 2021.

The Aurora Awards will be announced at Can*Con in Ottawa, held October 16-18. 

(5) PAYING IT FORWARD. In this video Cat Rambo reads aloud her contribution to the collection Pocket Workshop: Essays on Living as a Writer.

One of the great traditions in fantasy and science fiction writing is that of the mentor/mentee relationship. We’re told of many of the earlier writers mentoring newer ones offering advice passing along opportunities and sometimes collaborating…

(6) IT GETS VERSE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In Isaac Asimov’s autobiography In Joy Still Felt, he reprints part of a poem called “Rejection Slips” where he discusses being rejected by Galaxy editor H.L. Gold.

Dear Ike, I was prepared
(And boy, I really cared)
To swallow almost everything you wrote.
But Ike, you’re just plain shot,
Your writing’s gone to pot,
There’s nothing left but hack and mental bloat.
Take past this piece of junk,
It smelled; it reeked, it stunk;
Just glancing through it once was deadly rough.
But Ike, boy, by and by,
Just try another try
I need some yarns and kid, I love your stuff.

(7) BURIED IN CASH. “How Dr. Seuss became the second highest-paid dead celebrity” at the Boston Globe – where you may run into a paywall, which somehow seems appropriate.

…In fact, according to Forbes.com’s annual inventory of the highest-paid dead celebrities, the guy who grew up Theodor Geisel in Springfield ranks No. 2 — behind only Michael Jackson — with earnings last year of $33 million. In other words, the Vipper of Vipp, Flummox, and Fox in Sox generated more dough in 2020 than the songs of Elvis Presley or Prince, or the panels of “Peanuts” creator Charles Schulz.

And Dr. Seuss stands to make even more money now. That’s because the announcement that six of his 60 or so books will no longer be published has sent people scurrying to buy his back catalog. On Thursday, nine of the top 10 spots on Amazon’s best-sellers list were occupied by Dr. Seuss, including classics “The Cat in the Hat,” “One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish” and “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!”

A fortune’s a fortune, no matter how small, but $33 million is a mountain that’s tall. So how does Dr. Seuss continue to accumulate such wealth? It turns out Geisel, who died in 1991 at the age of 87, doesn’t deserve the credit. His wife does. Two years after the author died, Seuss’s spouse, Audrey Geisel, founded Dr. Seuss Enterprises to handle licensing and film deals for her husband’s work….

(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • March 7, 1980 — On this day in 1980, the Brave New World film premiered on NBC. (It would show on BBC as well.) It was adapted from the novel by Aldous Huxley by Robert E. Thompson and Doran William Cannon, and was directed by Burt Brinckerhoff. It starred Kristoffer Tabori, Julie Cobb and Budd Cort. It has a forty-six percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. You can watch it here.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born March 7, 1944 Stanley Schmidt, 77. Between 1978 and 2012 he served as editor of Analog Science Fiction and Fact magazine, an amazing feat by any standard! He was nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Professional Editor every year from 1980 through 2006 (its final year), and for the Hugo Award for Best Editor Short Form every year from 2007 (its first year) through 2013 with him winning in 2013.  He’s also an accomplished author. (CE) 
  • Born March 7, 1945 Elizabeth Moon, 76. I’ll let JJ have the say on her: “I’ve got all of the Serrano books waiting for when I’m ready to read them.   But I have read all of the Kylara Vatta books — the first quintology which are Vatta’s War, and the two that have been published so far in Vatta’s Peace. I absolutely loved them — enough that I might be willing to break my ‘no re-reads’ rule to do the first 5 again at some point. Vatta is a competent but flawed character, with smarts and courage and integrity, and Moon has built a large, complex universe to hold her adventures. The stories also feature a secondary character who is an older woman; age-wise she is ‘elderly,’ but in terms of intelligence and capability, she is extremely smart and competent — and such characters are pretty rare in science fiction, and much to be appreciated.” (CE)
  • Born March 7, 1959 Nick Searcy, 62. He was Nathan Ramsey in Seven Days which I personally think is the best damn time travel series ever done. And he was in 11.22.63 as Deke Simmons, based off the Stephen King novel. He was in Intelligence, a show I never knew existed, for one episode as General Greg Carter, and in The Shape of Water film, he played yet another General, this one named Frank Hoyt. And finally, I’d be remiss to overlook his run in horror as he was in American Gothic as Deputy Ben Healy. (CE)
  • Born March 7, 1966 Jonathan Del Arco, 55. He played Hugh the Borg in Star Trek: The Next Generation and in Star Trek: Picard. That is way cool. He also showed up as on Star Trek: Voyager as Fantôme in “The Void” episode. (CE)
  • Born March 7, 1970 Rachel Weisz, 51. Though better known for The Mummy films which I really, really love (well the first two with her), her first genre film was Death Machine, a British-Japanese cyberpunk horror film which score a rather well fifty one percent among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. I’ve also got her in Chain Reaction and The Lobster. (CE) 
  • Born March 7, 1974 Tobias Menzies, 47. First off is he’s got Doctor Who creds by being Lieutenant Stepashin in the Eleventh Doctor story, “Cold War”. He was also on the Game of Thrones where he played Edmure Tully. He is probably best known for his dual role as Frank Randall and Jonathan “Black Jack” Randall in Outlander. He was in Finding Neverland as a Theatre Patron, in Casino Royale as Villierse who was M’s assistant, showed  up in The Genius of Christopher Marlowe as the demon Mephistophilis, voiced Captain English in the all puppet Jackboots on Whitehall film and played Marius in Underworld: Blood Wars. (CE)
  • Born March 7, 1903 – Bernarda Bryson.  Painter, lithographer; outside our field, illustrations for the Resettlement Administration, like this.  Here is Gilgamesh.  Here is The Twenty Miracles of St. Nicholas.  Here is Bright Hunter of the Skies.  Here is The Death of Lady Mondegreen (hello, Seanan McGuire).  (Died 2004) [JH] 
  • Born March 7, 1934 – Gray Morrow.  Two hundred fifty covers, fifty of them for Perry Rhodan; four hundred interiors.  Also Classics Illustrated; Bobbs-Merrill Childhoods of Famous Americans e.g. Crispus Attucks, Teddy Roosevelt, Abner Doubleday; DC Comics, Marvel; Rip KirbyTarzan; Aardwolf, Dark Horse.  Oklahoma Cartoonists Associates Hall of Fame.  Here is Buck Rogers in the 25th Century.  Here is the NyCon 3 (25th Worldcon) Program & Memory Book.  Here is The Languages of Pao.  Here is The Best of Judith Merrill.  Here is Norstrilia.  Here is a page from “The Doors of His Face, the Lamps of His Mouth” in GM’s Illustrated Roger Zelazny.  (Died 2001) [JH] 
  • Born March 7, 1952 – John Lorentz, age 69.  Active, reliable in the excruciating, exhilarating, alas too often thankless work of putting on our SF conventions, e.g. chaired Westercon 43 & 48, SMOFcon 8 (Secret Masters Of Fandom, as Bruce Pelz said a joke-nonjoke-joke; a con annually hoping to learn from experience); administered Hugo Awards, sometimes with others, 1998, 2002, 2006, 2015; finance head, Renovation (69th Worldcon).  Fan Guest of Honor at Westercon 53, Norwescon XXI (with wife Ruth Sachter).  [JH]
  • Born March 7, 1954 – Elayne Pelz, age 67.  Another indispensable fan.  Currently Treasurer and Corresponding Secretary of the Southern Cal. Inst. for Fan Interests (yes, that’s what the initials spell; pronounced skiffy), which has produced Westercons, Worldcons, and a NASFiC (North America SF Con, since 1975 held when the Worldcon is overseas).  Widow of B. Pelz; I danced at their wedding; E chaired Westercon 55 upon B’s death.  Twice given LASFS’ Evans-Freehafer Award (service; L.A. Science Fantasy Soc., unrelated to SCIFI but with some directors in common).  Fan Guest of Honor at Leprecon 9, Loscon 13 (with B), Westercon 48, Baycon 2004.  Several terms as LASFS Treasurer, proverbially reporting Yes, we have money; no, you can’t spend it.  [JH]
  • Born March 7, 1967 – Donato Giancola, age 54.  Gifted with, or achieving, accessibility, productivity, early; Jack Gaughan Award, three Hugos, twenty Chesleys, two Spectrum Gold Awards and Grandmaster.  Two hundred seventy covers, four hundred forty interiors.  Here is Otherness.  Here is The Ringworld Engineers.  Here is his artbook Visit My Alien Worlds (with Marc Gave).  Here is the Sep 06 Asimov’s.  Here is the May 15 Analog.  Two Middle-Earth books, Visions of a Modern Myth and Journeys in Myth and Legend.  [JH]
  • Born March 7, 1977 – Brent Weeks, age 44.  Nine novels, a couple of shorter stories.  The Way of Shadows and sequels each NY Times Best-Sellers; four million copies of his books in print.  Cites Homer, Dante, Shakespeare, Yeats, Tolkien.  “I do laugh at my own jokes…. scowl, change the word order to see if it makes it funnier, scowl again … try three more times…. occasionally cackle….  This is why I can’t write in coffee shops.”  [JH]

(10) LIADEN. Sharon Lee and Steve Miller have issued Liaden Universe® InfoDump Number 127 with info about the availability of a new Adventures in the Liaden Universe® chapbook. Also:

LEE AND MILLER PANELISTS AT MARSCON
Sharon and Steve will attending the virtual MarsCon, to be held March 12-14 (that’s this weekend!) Here’s the convention link.

DISCON III
Steve and Sharon hope to attend DisCon III virtually. We have no plans to attend in-person, as much as we’d been looking forward to doing so.

ALBACON 2021
Sharon and Steve will be Writer Guests of Honor at the virtual AlbaCon, September 17-18, 2021.  Here’s the link to the convention site

UPCOMING PUBLICATIONS
The Trader’s Leap audiobook, narrated by Eileen Stevens, is tentatively scheduled for April 11, 2021

(11) PROPS TO THE CHEF. Ben Bird Person shared “My last commission with food illustrator Itadaki Yasu. It’s an illustration of the prop food featured in the original star trek episode ‘The Conscience of the King’ (1966).”

(12) THE BURNING DECK. Your good cat news of the day, from the Washington Post. “Thai navy saves four cats stranded on capsized boat in Andaman sea”. (The article does not say whether the boat’s color was a “beautiful pea green.”)

The four small cats trapped on a sinking boat needed a miracle. The abandoned ship, near the Thai island of Koh Adang, was on fire — sending plumes of thick black smoke into the air as the waters of the Andaman sea rose around them. The ship was not just burning: It was sinking. And it would not be long until it disappeared beneath the surface.Wide-eyed and panicked, the felines huddled together. When the help they so desperately needed arrived, it came in the form of a 23-year-old sailor and his team of Thai navy officials….

(13) GOOD DOG. In the Washington Post, Steven Wright says video game developers are making an effort to have animals in the games that you can pet and interact with but that it takes up a lot of additional pixels since the designers are trying to make the games realistic and are using tons of pixels having characters run and blast foes. “The ‘Can You Pet The Dog’ Twitter account is having a big impact”.

… Tristan Cooper, who owns the Twitter account “Can You Pet the Dog?,” never set out to create a social media juggernaut. Rather, he was just trying to point out what he felt was a common quirk of many high-profile games: While many featured dogs, wolves and other furry creatures as hostile foes of the protagonist, those that did feature cuddly animal friends rarely let you pet them. Cooper says the account was particularly inspired by his early experience with online shooter “The Division 2.”

… However, as the account quickly began to grow in popularity, Cooper and others began to notice a subtle increase in the number of games that featured animals with which players can interact. To be clear, Cooper doesn’t wish to take any credit for the proliferation of the concept, despite the obvious popularity of the account. (“Video games had pettable dogs long before I logged onto Twitter, after all,” he wrote. “That’s the whole reason I created the account.”)

However, he and the account’s fans do sometimes note the timing of these additions, particularly when it comes to certain massive games. For example, he notes that battle royale phenomenon “Fortnite” patched in pettable dogs only a few weeks after the account tweeted about the game. And “The Division 2” finally let you nuzzle the city’s wandering canines in its “Warlords of New York” expansion, which came out in March 2020 — around the same time Cooper was celebrating the year anniversary of the Can You Pet The Dog? account….

(14) WHAT’S THE VISION FOR NASA? [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Washington Post, Christian Davenport says that the increasing rise of private spacecraft with a wide range of astronauts  as well as cost overruns in its rocket development programs is leading the agency to do a lot of thinking about what its role in manned spaceflight should be.  Davenport reports a future SpaceX mission will include billionaire Jared Isaacman and will be in part a gigantic fundraiser for St. Jude’s Children Research Hospital (a St. Jude’s physician assistant will be an astronaut as will the winner of a raffle for another seat). “NASA doesn’t pick the astronauts in a commercialized space future”.

… And it comes as NASA confronts some of the largest changes it has faced since it was founded in 1958 when the United States’ world standing was challenged by the Soviet Union’s surprise launch of the first Sputnik into orbit. Now it is NASA’s unrivaled primacy in human spaceflight that is under challenge.

… In an interview, Steve Jurczyk, NASA’s acting administrator, said the agency is well aware of how its identity and role are changing, and he likened the agency’s role to how the U.S. government fostered the commercial aviation industry in the early 20th century.

NASA’s predecessor, NACA, or the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, “did research, technology development to initially support defense … but also later on supporting a burgeoning commercial aircraft industry and aviation industry,” he said. “So that may be how we evolve, moving forward on the space side. We’re going to do the research and the technology development and be the enablers for continuing to support the commercial space sector.”

… But NASA officials are concerned that much of the future workforce is going to be attracted to a growing number of commercial companies doing amazing things. There is Planet, for example, which is putting up constellations of small satellites that take an image of Earth every day. Or Relativity Space, which is 3-D printing entire rockets. Or Axiom Space, which is building a commercial space station. Or Astrobotic, which intends to land a spacecraft on the moon later this year.

The question NASA faces, then, is an urgent one: “How do you maintain that NASA technical expertise?” Jurczyk said.

The agency does not know….

(15) YOU COULD BE SWINGING ON A STAR. OR — Ursula Vernon could no longer maintain what critics call “a willing suspension of disbelief.”

Commenters on her thread had doubts, too. One asked: “Were any special herbs or fungi involved before this message was received?”

As for the possibility of putting this phenomenon to a local test —

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