Pixel Scroll 4/7/24 Pixels En Scrollgalia

(1) HOLMES & WATSON. At Brandon O’Brien’s Afternoon Tea the author takes up the Elementary series: “Lapsang Souchong: Two People Who ‘Love’ Each Other”.

I’ve been thinking about this topic idly in my skull for quite some time, and since there are no real good places to put it—less than an essay, more than a tweet—I figured a good test of my discipline would be drafting it for a newsletter. So here’s me rambling about one of my favourite idle obsessions: the 2010s CBS procedural Elementary, in particular why its portrayal of the relationship between Holmes & Watson is one of my favourites. BIG SPOILERS, of course that goes without saying, but you’re already here, so…

(2) TINGLE Q&A. The Geekiary came back from the con with more proof that love is real! “WonderCon 2024: Interview with the Legendary Chuck Tingle”.

… “You don’t hear this so much anymore, but back in the day, conservatives had this sort of slippery slope dang baloney argument about ‘if we let gay people get married then what’s next? You gotta marry a tree? Are you going to marry a dang dinosaur?’ And I think that I always heard those arguments and I always thought why not? What would be wrong with someone marrying whoever, whatever, how many different people, different combinations. There’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, as long as you’re talking about consenting adults, the world would be a much better place if you took this conservative nightmare to the extreme, it would actually probably be more of a utopia.

“And so the Tingleverse in general, is kind of that conservative nightmare realized in that actually, it would be a really beautiful place full of love, and acceptance. And so, from the very first story, it is an unusual combination of lovers. But you realize if you read the book, ‘Oh, actually, that’s a really wholesome, beautiful, wonderful place that conservatives seem to just be terrified of.’”…

(3) “TRAD PUBLISHING IS LITERALLY FAILING AT DOING ITS JOB”. Lili Saintcrow cuts loose about the current WTF state of traditional publishing — “We Gotta Talk About (Trad) Publishing”. (Saintcrow’s fireworks are inspired by Lorraine Wilson’s analysis, “Is there a book submission arms race”, an article that Saintcrow praises as “perfectly lovely and … a hundred percent accurate”.)

…Publishing has always been an awfully exploitative business. For a long while the level of fuckery in trad pub was low enough for plenty of writers to make a reasonable gamble by submitting by the rules and building a career, but this is no longer the case. Which is not solely or even mostly a function of the pandemic, mind you–the problems were already there well before 2020 rolled around, but conditions since ~2016 have absolutely poured jet fuel on the fire and now we’ve got a multiple-alarm blaze. (You could even trace the problems to Amazon’s strong-arming, or further back to Reagonomics, but that’s a whole ‘nother blog post.)

The Big Five/Four have already offloaded the brute work of marketing onto individual authors, hollowing out their own marketing departments in order to line C-suite pockets. Now the crunch has reached editorial departments, where even salaried folk traditionally protected from a lot of industry bullshit are being ruthlessly overworked, underpaid, and just generally mistreated. (No, this is not a “pity the poor editors” screed, just a fact.) Consequently a lot of folk are leaving, and those who remain–or the shiny new ones coming in, thinking they’re going to score a good job–find it impossible to pick up the slack. The article linked above is absolutely correct that editors at the big houses are now being used as draft-horse project managers, which does not work with novels or nonfiction books. It just…doesn’t….

And there’s a lot more at the link.

(4) IN THE YEAR 2025. The 2025 UK Eastercon – named Reconnect — will be held April 18-21, 2025 in Belfast, co-chaired by James Bacon and Tommy Ferguson, with Deputy Chair Jo Zebedee. Get more information at the Eastercon Belfast website.

(5) GLASGOW 2024 PUBLISHES NEW PROGRESS REPORT. Glasgow 2024 today published Progress Report 4 (their fifth; the first was numbered as Progress Report 0). Anyone can download the PDF file from the Glasgow 2024 website.

The cover for Progress Report 4 (PR4), ‘Badger Finds A Charmawow’ is by Chris Baker (a.k.a. Fangorn), one of the Guests of Honour.

PR4 includes news from all areas including:

PR4 also features a look back at the London Worldcon of 2014, the final entry in their history of British Worldcons.

(6) WILL GLASGOW CAP ATTENDING MEMBERSHIPS? Progress Report #4 includes this information:

… Our current projections are for between 6,500 and 8,000 purchased in-person registrant types (including 1- and 2-day tickets). This upper number, if everyone turns up, is probably above the maximum holding capacity for the site. So, there is a chance we may need to cap in-person attending registrant purchases, if we are not to get overcrowded. So, we are advising folk to join as early as possible to avoid this possibility effecting your enjoyment of the convention….

(7) TEXAS-SIZED COLLECTION. Morgan Dawn recommended Bluesky readers watch a 2022 video about the “Huge Science Fiction and Fantasy Collection”, which explores the sff collection at the Texas A&M Library, and takes viewers back to the early days of the university’s Cepheid Variable club and their annual AggieCon.

(8) A BELFAST BOOK. “Michael Magee: ‘There’s a disbelief at how I’ve ended up’”, so he tells a Guardian interviewer.

Michael Magee, 33, won this year’s Nero debut fiction award for Close to Home, now out in paperback, as well as last year’s Rooney prize for Irish literature (previously awarded to Anne Enright and Claire Keegan). Set in west Belfast, where Magee grew up, the book follows Sean, a working-class graduate who falls foul of the law as he struggles to make a life in the shadow of violence both political and domestic….

What did you read growing up?
In my later teens I had a very good English teacher who gave me Barry Hines’s A Kestrel for a Knave, which was the first instance where I’d read something that reflected my own reality. I didn’t grow up in a bookish house and didn’t start reading in my spare time outside education till I was about 12 or 13. Lord of the Rings was my gateway drug. As a teenager I wrote a ripoff of it, drawing maps that I dabbed with wet teabags and burned at the edges to age them. But I did all this on the shy! You couldn’t be seen reading books in the company I was keeping. As a young man I felt impelled towards toughness, inexpressiveness, which was at odds with who I was, and who I am. It took me a very long time to disentangle myself from that.

You must run into people who knew you back then.
Of course, all the time. There’s a disbelief at how I’ve ended up – I ask myself the same question – and also a kind of piss-taking, which is completely deserved: “Still writing your wee books, Mick, are ye?”…

(9) IF YOU GIVE A MOUSE A BATH. Forbes believes they know “The Real Reason For Disney’s $11 Billion Streaming Losses”.

… For a number of months in 2020, Disney was almost entirely reliant on Disney+ and it came into its own. As people were stuck indoors during lockdown, the popularity of the platform surged and was hailed as Disney’s white knight. It was almost unthinkable that it could actually end up bringing the company to its knees but that is exactly what happened over the following years.

As subscriber numbers soared far beyond Disney’s forecasts, the Mouse got drunk on its own success and ploughed billions of Dollars into exclusive Disney+ content. By the time it was released, there was a vaccine for covid and the pandemic had receded. Consumers were left picking up the tab for blockbuster furlough payments creating a global cost of living crisis that endures to this day. It led to people cutting their streaming subscriptions and left Disney with a loss-making platform….

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born April 7, 1934 Ian Richardson. (Died 2007.) I do these Birthdays by seeing who I recognize and then doing a deep dive to see how interesting a given individual is. It’s not just what they did in our community that interests me but what they’ve done else as well. And Ian Richardson had an interesting career both here and elsewhere.

Ian Richardson

Where to start? He was at the right age, just about fifty, when he played Holmes in The Sign of Four and The Hound of the Baskervilles, a pair of made for television films. He also starred in BBC’s Murder Rooms: The Dark Beginnings of Sherlock Holmes playing Arthur Conan Doyle’s mentor, Dr. Joseph Bell.

What next? How about him being in Brazil? (I had to watch it three times before I liked it.)  He plays Mr. Warren, works in a rabbit-warren style place, a maze of Endless Corridors. A perfect bureaucrat he was.

He’s the Narrator of Dark City which was nominated for the Hugo Award at Aussiecon Three the year The Truman Show won.

In Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead, he’s Polonius. In the play by Shakespeare, Polonius is a verbose, faltering and pathetic old man whose servile devotion to Claudius renders him untrustworthy in the eyes of Hamlet. Here he portrays that character perfectly. Yes, I do love the film. 

He’s The Wasp in Alice Through The Looking Glass. You really, really need to see the yellow wig that they gave to represent him being a wasp. 

Ian Richardson as the Wasp in a Wig and Kate Beckinsale in Alice Through the Looking Glass (1998).

He’s in From Hell as Sir Charles Warren, an actual historical figure, an Officer in the British Royal Engineers who was one of the first archaeologists. 

Finally he’s in that Midsummer’s Night Dream. You know the one that Ian Holm, Helen Mirren, Diana Rigg, David Warner and Judi Dench in it? He plays Oberon here. 

Wait, though, as I do feel obligated to note his two extraordinary performances outside the genre. He played Tory politician Francis Urquhart in the House of Cards series — oh so magnificently — and he was British spy Bill Haydon in the Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy series. 

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) YES, YOU. Steve Lieber shared an unforgettable memo from Jim Shooter to the staff.

(13) THEY MADE THE SHIP THAT MADE THE KESSEL RUN. [Item by Steven French.] Atlas Obscura tells us the genre connection of Wales’ “Pembroke Dock Heritage Centre”.

THERE WAS SOMETHING DIFFERENT ABOUT the last ship to leave Pembrokeshire’s massive dock complex.

Following the success of the original Star Wars film in 1977, director George Lucas wanted a full-scale model of Han Solo’s fabled spaceship, the Millennium Falcon, for the filming of the next installment in the series, The Empire Strikes Back.

The job of constructing the 88-foot vessel fell to a team working out of the historic maritime dock complex at Pembroke Dock, Pembrokeshire…

Sadly, the model was sold for scrap.

(14) MAKE YOUR SPEED WORF FACTOR THREE. [Item by Dann.] “From the Starfighter to the Enterprise NCC-1701-D” in FLYING magazine.

From the late 1980s through the 1990s, Klingon Lt. Cmdr. Worf was one of the most visible characters on the popular TV shows Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Actor and pilot Michael Dorn, who was cast as Worf, made the character his own and ended up appearing in 276 episodes, the most of any other cast member in the Star Trek franchise’s history.

To Dorn, morphing into Worf each day was a lengthy process because of the amount of makeup and prosthetics required to bring the character to life. But when the cameras stopped rolling, it wasn’t the starship Enterprise that drew Dorn’s attention, it was a Cessna 172 Skyhawk. But there was a problem.

You see, Michael Dorn likes airplanes that go fast. Really fast. After moving through a few general aviation airplanes, he began buying and flying a long list of former U.S. military fighter jets. This desire to go fast also explains why he drives a Tesla Model X P100D today. “It has ‘Ludicrous’ mode,” Dorn says. “I live for on-ramps!”…

The list of aircraft Michael has owned includes:

Civilian aircraft

  • Cessna 172
  • Cessna 310
  • Cessna 340A
  • Citation 501SP
  • SOCATA Trinidad TB-20
  • Beechcraft Baron 55

Military (or military-grade) aircraft

  • HA200 Saeta  (Spanish and Egyptian Air Forces)
  • Lockheed T-33  (USAF, USN, Japanese Air Self-Defense Force, German Air Force)
  • North American F-86C (USAF, Japan Air Self-Defense Force, Spanish Air Force, Republic of Korea Air Force)
  • North American Sabreliner 40A (USAF, USN, & USMC operated military configurations)
  • Lockheed F-104 Starfighter (USAF, German Air Force, Turkish Air Force, Italian Air Force)

(15) TRUE GRIT. “Life Beyond Earth: What Awaits Humanity on the Moon”Literary Hub makes it sound a lot less fun than Robert A. Heinlein used to.

…Moondust is a huge problem. Apollo astronauts were vexed by the sharp-edged powder, which got under their fingernails and into their noses, lungs, mouths, and eyes. Apollo 12’s Alan Bean said residual dust in the LM cabin “made breathing without the helmet difficult, and enough particles were present… to affect our vision.” The stuff is like “silty sand… [but] sharp and glassy,” according to the Lunar Sourcebook. Coughing and itching are nuisances, but simulated long-term exposure, in one study’s words, revealed “significant cell toxicity in neuronal and lung cell lines in culture, as well as DNA damage.” Mitigating the dust is a significant challenge, but astronauts and their equipment could be protected with invisible electrodes that activate what researcher Carlos Calle calls an “Electrodynamic Dust Shield”—shifting electric fields that keep the dust from sticking to a surface…

(16) NASFiC ECLIPSE. Joseph T. Major reminds us about a previous celestial experience:

 In 2017, too late to do anything about it, Mike Glyer had an interesting thought.  Why not have NASFiC in Nashville, during the August 21 eclipse?  But Ken Moore, the man who could have organized it, had died in 2009.

Nevertheless, there was a possibility.  Bob Embler annually held Outsidecon, where fans got in tent and socialized.  What was so important about that?

Every year, in Kelly, Kentucky, there is Little Green Men Festival, commemorating the close encounter there in 1955.  In 2017, the Festival ran a day over, so the flying saucer people could see the eclipse.  And they stayed in tents, too, because hotel bills were $300 a day and a minimum of three days’ stay.

If Mike and Bob had got together, they could have organized a Kelly Outdoor NASF­iC bid for the 18th through the 21st.  Now that would have been better than the San Juan NASFiC.

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Elle Cordova delivers “Real footage of the #eclipse”.

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Steven French, Dann, Bruce D. Arthurs, Kathy Sullivan, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, and Chris Barkley for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jon Meltzer.]

Pixel Scroll 3/22/24 White Rabbits Are Easy, Try Pulling A Pixel Out Of A Hat

(1) YE KEN NOW. [Via MT Void.] Read Michael Dirda’s article “The two best American fantasy writers you’ve probably never heard of” at the Washington Post. He’s talking about Avram Davidson and Manly Wade Wellman.

… Happily, though, these too-little-known but excellent writers — did I mention that both were honored with the World Fantasy Award for lifetime achievement? — have been supported and championed in recent years by independent publishers and knowledgeable admirers. Let’s start with Wellman.

Back in 2012, Haffner Press assembled “The Complete John Thunstone,” all of Wellman’s stories from Weird Tales magazine about a Manhattan-based occult investigator who, armed with a silver sword-cane, combats demons, the evil magician Rowley Thorne (loosely based on Aleister Crowley) and a hidden race of malignant humanoids called the Shonokins. Fans of Marvel Comics’ Doctor Strange will feel right at home…

… Despite the similarity in their structure, these tales of mystery and the supernatural excel at evoking the uncanny, even as the myriad details of Southern legend and lore further ramp up the tension and foreboding. Think of them, then, as round-the-campfire stories or front-porch yarns: They are shivery without being gruesome, they move right along, and each will leave you wanting to read just one more.

By contrast, Avram Davidson is far more literary, as well as amaster of many vocal registers and genres. In relating his brilliantly gonzo fantasies, he often takes his own sweet time, reveling in pyrotechnic sentences, Jewish slang, mordant humor, digressions and archaic diction. You’ll certainly find all these in “AD 100: 100 Years of Avram Davidson: 100 Unpublished or Uncollected Stories,” edited by Neva Hickman….

(2) NOT AT ALL ELEMENTARY, MY DEAR WATSON. “The Weird Lawsuit Over Netflix’s Enola Holmes, Explained” at Slashfilm.

…In the case of another prominent pop culture figure, Sherlock Holmes, many of the stories featuring Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous detective entered the public domain some time ago. Copyright typically lasts for the duration of an author’s life plus 70 years, 120 years from the date of their creation, or 95 years from their publication date — whichever comes soonest. Doyle passed away in 1930, and a lot of his Sherlock Holmes novels entered the public domain in the 20th Century, beginning in 1981 when 1887’s “A Study in Scarlett” made the transition. So, by the time author Nancy Springer published her first “Enola Holmes” novel in 2006 — a novel based on the world established by Doyle — she was mostly in the clear.

In 2020, Netflix’s first adaptation of a Springer book, “Enola Holmes” arrived, welcoming girls into the detective club and becoming a big enough hit for the streamer to green-light a sequel. When “Enola Holmes 2” debuted in 2022, it proved to be an even more charming mystery outing, firmly cementing these films as a solid new franchise for Netflix. All in all, then, a pretty nice little success story for the biggest streamer in the game. Or at least it would have been if it wasn’t for that pesky copyright law….

…. The complaint alleged that Springer and the other parties infringed copyright and trademark law with the “Enola Holmes” products, specifically stating (via The Guardian) that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle had created “significant new character traits for Holmes and Watson” in the 10 stories that remained protected by copyright law in the U.S. Back in 2014, a ruling made all the Sherlock Holmes stories authored prior to 1923 property of the public domain, allowing Springer and others to use the character and his world in their creations. But the 10 remaining stories, referred to in the 2020 lawsuit, were written between 1923 and 1927, meaning they were still covered by copyright law.

So, what exactly had Springer, Netflix, and the others infringed upon from these specific stories? Well, emotions, apparently…

(3) TREK HISTORY ON THE AUCTION BLOCK. Two of the highlighted items in March 29’s “The Greg Jein Collection Hollywood/Entertainment Showcase Auction” are from Star Trek: The Original Series – a phaser, and a shuttlecraft model.

Star Trek: The Original Series (Paramount TV, 1966-1969), Mid-Grade Type-1 Phaser. Vintage original iconic prop measuring 3.75″ x 1.75″ x 1″. Constructed of hollow fiberglass, painted dark gray with silver stripe on both sides, with wooden emitter tip, acrylic gauge, aluminum power dial and diamond patterned decal. This very rare prop was used by the production for closer shots. Exhibiting scuffing and some paint retouching as well as adhesive remnants on the underside. Comes with a COA from Heritage Auctions. From the Collection of Greg Jein.

Heritage Auctions says about the shuttlecraft:

This piece is truly special. Greg, obviously known for his incredible model-building prowess, built this as a “stand-in” for his screen-used Galileo shuttlecraft filming miniature for the famous Star Trek exhibit at the Smithsonian in 1992. Greg feared his original miniature would become damaged, so he spared no attention to detail in creating this piece, knowing it would be viewed by hundreds of thousands of visitors at the National Air and Space Museum….

Star Trek: The Original Series (Paramount TV, 1966-1969), Greg Jein-Built Galileo Shuttlecraft Model for “Star Trek: The Exhibit” at the Smithsonian (1992). Original static model miniature constructed of cast resin elements, vacuum-formed plastic, mixed-media components, all expertly assembled, painted, and finished with Enterprise-gray paint, tape details, and transfer lettering for badging. Measures approx. 22″ x 14″ x 7.5″. The Greg Jein-built model was on display at the legendary “Star Trek: The Exhibit” at The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, Washington, D.C., from February 1992 through January 1993. Exhibits age, paint chipping, cracking and handling. Comes with a COA from Heritage Auctions. From the Collection of Greg Jein.

(4) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites listeners to join biographer Julie Phillips for Jӓgerschnitzel in Episode 221 of the Eating the Fantastic podcast.

I first met this episode’s guest, Julie Phillips, in the dealers room of the 2006 Los Angeles Worldcon, where I was introduced by Gordon Van Gelder, her editor on James Tiptree, Jr.: The Double Life of Alice B. Sheldon. That biography had been out only a few weeks by then, and it would go on to win the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Hugo and Locus Awards, and the Washington State Book Award. It’s a truly magnificent achievement, and if you haven’t already read it, you should track it down immediately. Once you do, you’ll understand why I’m anxiously awaiting her next biography — of the great Ursula K. Le Guin.

Julie Phillips

Her most recent book is The Baby on the Fire Escape: Creativity, Mothering, and the Mind-Baby Problem (2002). Her articles have appeared in The New YorkerMs.The Village VoiceNewsdayMademoiselle, and many other publications. She currently lives in Amsterdam, where she reviews books for 4Columns.org and writes about English literature for the Dutch daily newspaper Trouw.

When I learned the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts had asked her give the kickoff lecture of its More than Muses Weekend in nearby Hagerstown, Maryland, I reached out to see whether she had time to break bread so I could share her wisdom with you. And I’m so pleased she agreed. We met for lunch the day after her presentation at Schmankerl Stube Bavarian restaurant, one of my favorite places to eat in Hagerstown.

We discussed why she called The Baby on the Fire Escape “a weird hybrid monster of a book,” the one thing she regrets not researching more thoroughly for her Tiptree bio, the reason there’s more space for the reader in a biography than a memoir, why some children of artistic mothers can make peace with their relationships and others can’t, the three things she felt it important to squeeze into the seven minutes she was given to speak at Ursula K. Le Guin’s memorial service, her writing method of starting in the middle of a book and working out toward both ends, the occasional difficulty of withholding judgement on one’s biographical subjects, the relationship between biographer Robert Caro and editor Robert Gottlieb, plus much more.

(5) ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE, REAL BALONEY. “A Celebrity Dies, and New Biographies Pop Up Overnight. The Author? A.I.” finds the New York Times.

After Joseph Lelyveld, a former executive editor of The New York Times, died last month, his brother Michael Lelyveld went online to see how he was being remembered. He found obituaries in major news outlets, as expected. But he also found other, unexpected portraits of his brother.

At least half a dozen biographies were published on Amazon in the days immediately following Lelyveld’s death. Several of them were available for purchase on the very day he died. The books, he said, described his brother as a chain smoker, someone who honed his skills in Cairo and reported from Vietnam — none of which is true.

“They want to make a buck on your grief,” said Michael Lelyveld.

Books like this are part of a macabre new publishing subgenre: hasty, shoddy, A.I.-generated biographies of people who have just died…

(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born March 22, 1920 Ross Martin. (Died 1981.) Let’s talk about Ross Martin and his involvement with Wild Wild West which is a fascinating story indeed. 

He got his first acting job in the early Fifties series Lights Out’s “I Dreamed I Died” episode. 

This was not the beginning of his performance career as he did a lot of radio before that, including the last broadcast episode of Dimension X, and two of X Minus One, one of which taken from was Bradbury’s “The Man in The Moon” story which I believe Bradbury himself adapted for broadcast. 

Before the Wild Wild West, he would be in the Conquest of Space, a film about the first interplanetary flight to the planet Mars, and in The Colossus of New York where he’s Dr. Jeremy “Jerry” Spensser (sic) whose brain gets put into a giant robotic body. What could possibly go wrong?  

Ross Martin in 1965

Mike wants to note that that though “not genre, he played the villain in Experiment in Terror which was a memorable film.” Thanks Mike! 

Not surprisingly, he’d be in Twilight Zone. The first time “The Four of Us are Dying” where he’s already dead as Johnny Foster. Seriously he is. Nice touch there, Serling. The next time is in what starts as a purely SF episode which is described this way, “Space Cruiser E-89, crewed by Captain Paul Ross, Lt. Ted Mason (his character), and Lt. Mike Carter, is on a mission to analyze new worlds and discover if they are suitable for colonization.”  Well, this being the Twilight Zone, it will take a trip into the very strange of course. 

It is said that the Artemus Gordon character was largely shaped by Martin himself. He created almost all of his disguises for the show, and even the gadgets used on the series were either created by him or largely constructed with his input. Even the make-up he did for many of the episodes was mostly his own design. Given that he was in eighty-five episodes, that’s quite amazing!

Gordon missed nine episodes after suffering a heart attack. The actor was temporarily replaced by familiar actors like William Schallert and Alan Hale, Jr.  So yes the Captain did escape from the island. And time traveled. 

I loved the series, loved him and Conrad, thought they made a great pair of agents. I’ve watched the series quite a few times including on DVD about a decade ago, that viewing allowed me to see pre-production sketch that was made of his very first make-up design for the pilot episode. 

The four season boxed set has the two movies plus all the extras from seasons two  through four but very oddly not the ones from the first season when these were first released as separate sets. A very odd thing to do. And yes, you can find the separate seasons easily enough on eBay. 

After this series, his genre appearances are as follows. 

He appeared in another Serling series playing Mister Gingold, a  moneylender with almost no compassion for his debtors who would get his due justice Night Gallery-style in “Camera Obscura”, and again as Bradley Meredith in “The Other Way Out” as the jig is up after he kills a go-go dancer. Serling did not write this script and it shows. There’s nothing at all interesting here.

Not genre (I think, we could call it genre adjacent) was his role was Charles Chan in The Return of Charlie Chan

Definitely genre was his appearance on Quark as Zorgon the Malevolent in “All the Emperor’s Quasi-Norms, Parts 1 & 2”. 

I’m down to his last three genre appearances, he was in    The New Adventures of Wonder Woman  as Bernard Havitol in the “IRAC is Missing” episode and his next two genre role was as Ace Scanlon in a Fantasy Island two parter, “The Devil and Mandy Breem” and “The Millionaire”.

His final genre role was on Mork & Mindy as Godfrey in the “Mork and the Bum Rap” episode. That, I think, covers it. 

(7) COMICS SECTION.

From Cooper Lit Comics:

(8) USE THE COFFEE MACHINE, LUKE. “’Star Wars’ Marathon Set From Alamo Drafthouse With All Nine Films” says The Hollywood Reporter.

Alamo Drafthouse is hosting a Star Wars marathon of all nine movies to screen back-to-back May 3-4, coinciding with the 25th anniversary of Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace.

The Texas-based theater chain will host the 21-hour marathon of the Skywalker Saga’s episodes one through nine at the Alamo Drafthouse New Mission in San Francisco. The all-in-one-sitting viewing will start May 3 with The Phantom Menace and end a day later with a screening of The Rise of Skywalker.

There will be breaks for “unlimited coffee and water” to keep your eyes open in case the Force isn’t enough. Audiences can expect Star Wars-themed food items from a galaxy far, far away at the concession stands, an immersive Star Wars lobby for selfies, and games and trivia between screenings.… 

(9) WARP FACTOR TEA. Of course, if you’re not a coffee drinker, Adagio Teas looks like they have at least ten selections in their “To Boldly Brew…” line. One of them is “Picard’s Tea. Earl Grey. Hot. Tea”. Below are three examples of the art on the product tins.

Picard’s Tea. Earl Grey. Hot. Creamy Earl Grey Moonlight blends beautifully with Summer Rose, (English roses in honor of Sir Patrick Stewart’s homeland). Extra rose petals added for that touch of Starfleet Command red. [Episodes: TNG 2×11 “Contagion,” 4×26 “Redemption,” 6×19 “Lessons,” 7×20 “Journey’s End,” 7×25/26 “All Good Things…”]

(10) ON THE BEACH. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] “NASA’s Mars rover probes ancient shorelines for signs of life” reports Science. A  core drilled by Perseverance in October 2023 suggests it has been driving on the remains of an ancient beach.

…For the past few months, NASA’s rover, which is collecting rock samples to eventually send to Earth, has explored a ring of rocks just inside the rim of Jezero crater, which is thought to have been filled with water billions of years ago. An initial analysis suggests the rocks are composed of rounded grains of carbonate, a mineral that precipitates out of water. It’s a promising sign that the rocks were once beachfront property, says Briony Horgan, a planetary scientist at Purdue University who leads the rover’s science campaign. “You can imagine the waves crashing up against the shores of an ancient palaeolake,” she says….

(11) A PENGUIN IN YOUR FUTURE. “Colin Farrell returns in Max’s first The Penguin teaser” — let AV Club set the stage.

While fans will need to wait an extra year to see Robert Pattinson re-don his black cape for The Batman Part II (the film is now set to premiere in 2026), they don’t need to stay out of Matt Reeves’ gritty version of Gotham entirely. Colin Farrell’s Oz Cobb—in all his prosthetic-covered glory—is returning far sooner for his own eight-episode spinoff series, which lands on Max sometime this fall.

Move over, Tony Soprano. A new boss is coming to HBO. The first teaser for The Penguin opens in a flooded Gotham, right where the 2022 film left off, with Farrell doing exactly what any DC villain worth his salt should do: monologuing….

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

Visit to a Replica of Sherlock Holmes’ Sitting Room at 221B Baker Street

Sherlock Holmes’ desk.

By Bill and Teresa Peschel: Inside an unassuming house in Reading, PA is a treasure. It’s a complete down-to-the-last-detail, life-size recreation of Sherlock Holmes’ sitting room at 221B Baker Street.

And, if you’re a member of a Sherlock Holmes fan group (there are many across the world including the U.S. and we welcome new members) you can visit it on open house days.

Teresa Peschel — and Bill. if you know where to look for him.

Bill and I are members of the White Rose Irregulars, a group based in central PA. Thus, when word comes from on high that the sitting room is open for visitors, we make the trek to Reading. The owner, a member of the Baker Street Irregulars, opens up once or twice a year. He gets visitors from across the United States who come to revel in sitting in Sherlock’s own easy chair, gawk at Sebastion Moran’s air rifle, study the chemistry lab, listen to the sound of horses clip-clopping outside on the street, try to identify the hundreds of items on display and connect them to the canon, and buy loads of Sherlock merchandise to supplement their own hoards.

In addition, the owner sells memorabilia to benefit the Baker Street Irregulars Trust. It uses the money raised to raise Sherlock’s profile in the public school system. He acquires it from everywhere: donations, people downsizing their collections, others who have gotten duplicates, or the heirs who don’t know what to do with any of that stuff.

The current plan for the sitting room is it will eventually go, down to the last cocaine syringe and spent bullet casing, to the University of Minnesota’s Sherlock Holmes collection. It will join some 60,000 other items including the Peschel Press contribution to Sherlock studies: The 223B Casebooks. These comprise nine volumes of vintage Sherlock Holmes parodies covering 1888 – 1930. And yes, the owner of Sherlock’s sitting room has a set of our books. We’re very proud.

This is an amazing place to visit. You enter the house, descend the staircase lined with Sherlock movie memorabilia, and enter the sitting room. Once inside, you can walk around and marvel, even touch things. Two passageways lined with more posters and such lead to the memorabilia room. It’s crammed with wonderful treasures you can buy with a clear conscience because you’re supporting the BSI Trust. While you’re there, you can meet and chat with Sherlock fans from across the country, some of them very big names indeed.

But until Sherlock’s sitting room reopens and you can go to Reading, enjoy the pictures.


Bill and Teresa Peschel are indie writers and publishers from Hershey, PA. They publish a wide variety of books, including the 223B Baker Street series which collects vintage Sherlock Holmes fanfiction and annotations of Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers golden age mysteries. Visit them at Peschel Press to learn more or follow them on Instagram for daily quotes and posts.

Lis Carey Review: Sherlock Holmes & the Silver Cord

Sherlock Holmes & the Silver Cord by M.K. Wiseman
Self-published, 2023

Review by Lis Carey: As with other Sherlock Holmes tales by M. K. Wiseman, Holmes is his own chronicler. Not, this time, due to Watson’s absence, but because this tale is about what’s going on inside Holmes’s head, as he recovers from the mental and emotional impact of the death of Moriarty, his own three-year absence, and his surprise return to London, 221B Baker Street, and Watson’s life.

In the Reichenbach Falls adventure, Holmes always intended to kill Moriarty in their final confrontation, but he had expected to die himself. He saw no way of returning alive.

Holmes berated himself with guilt and self-contempt, for leaving Watson to believe him dead for three years, for perhaps being not much better than Moriarty for his willingness to kill, for blithely accepting Watson’s willingness to return to 221B Baker Street and their partnership together after that three-year absence, and for devoting himself to the relatively minor undertaking of mopping of the mostly petty criminals that were what was left of Moriarty’s crime empire.

Except, as we see, his feelings about Watson’s acceptance of his return without reprimand or rejection are anything but blithe. Holmes feels guilt about that, and shame, and questions his very worth as a human being. In the midst of this, two cases come his way. One involves a widow, Mrs. Jones, who has received in the mail diary pages which are clearly in her hand, that she does not recall writing, which recount an affair with a friend of her husband’s, while her husband was still alive. The man’s name is Percy Simmons.

The other case is brought to him by the head of the Theosophical Order of Odic Forces–one Mr. Percy Simmons. The same Percy Simmons, of course. The theosophists — there were and are a variety of theosophical groups — believe among other things that magic is real, and can be used for good or ill. Mr. Simmons informs Holmes that members of his group are being magically attacked by an enemy. Two have died already, and a third has sunk into a deep sleep, from which he has not awakened for nine days. He wants Holmes to find that enemy.

Over the course of the next days, Holmes and Watson search for evidence of the enemy, evidence that Simmons is a charlatan, and evidence that the two cases may be somehow connected.

Although Watson has some concern about what seems to be odd behavior from Holmes, he does not know what’s going on inside his head–either his guilt and self-contempt, or the way Simmons’s talk about theosophy and its ability to reveal both justice and evil. Holmes is strongly tempted by the idea that it may be the path out of his self-loathing and guilt.

But for it to do that for him, he has to know that it’s not all a charlatan’s fraud.

It’s an interesting mystery, and it’s also an interesting look inside Holmes’s head.

I received a free electronic galley of this book from Rachel’s Random Resources.

(M.K. Wiseman, 2023)

Remember, Remember (Sherlock Holmes & Lucy James Mystery #3),

Lucy wakes, up one cold morning, on the sidewalk outside the British Museum, with a lump on her head, no identification, and no memory of anything before she woke up. As she tries to work out who she is and why she was at the British Museum, she meets both a constable who decides what she can tell him, and a doctor and others with malign intentions. The fact that she loves Dr. Watson’s stories of Sherlock Holmes isn’t a clue, is it?

Remember, Remember (Sherlock Holmes & Lucy James Mystery #3), by Anna Elliott & Charles Veley
Wilton Press, February 2019

Review by Lis Carey: On a cold London morning in 1897, a young woman awakes on the ground outside the British Museum. She has no memory, and nothing that indicates her identity.

She does have a splitting headache, a lump on the back of her head, and a dim memory of having shot someone. She also quickly finds she has a talent for analyzing people’s appearance and behavior for useful information that helps her survive. Unexpectedly, the police constable, John Kelly, who finds her decides that he trusts her. They piece together what they can, and then he’s going off duty, and she’s off to see what she can track down of her identity.

After walking around the outside of the museum, she sits on a bench, and is approached by a man who proceeds to talk seeming nonsense to her, and walks away when she doesn’t respond as expected. Then she finds a card with the name of a doctor on Harley Street, which she puts in her purse for later consideration. Her clothing is not really presentable after her night sleeping on the sidewalk, and she inveigles a way to borrow clean clothing. With no other real clues, she decides to go see the doctor, in the hope that perhaps he can help with her memory.

But the doctor and his minions try to drug and kidnap her, and she barely escapes. Soon she is dodging villains, encountering John Kelly again, and meeting his little sister, Becky, and deciding, finally, to consult the one person in London whose name she remembers for sure–Sherlock Holmes. The conspiracy surrounding the British Museum turns out to relate back to a previous adventure, and as Lucy’s memory gradually returns, she begins to understand the danger she’s been in, and the importance of resolving this case.

John Kelly has his own related adventures, which become more and more entangled with those of Lucy and Holmes. I gather he and his sister, Becky, are going to be regulars going forward, and they are a welcome addition.

This is, in my opinion, a very good, satisfying Holmes pastiche, with Holmes, Watson, and Lucy all well portrayed, excellent characters.

I received this book as a gift.

Lis Carey Review: The Wilhelm Conspiracy

Holmes and Watson are summoned to Dover, and eventually to Germany, to recover a stolen part of a possible superweapon, an electrical cannon partially developed by Nikola Tesla. Lucy James of course becomes involved, initially against Holmes’s instructions. We also meet her friend, Harriet Radnar; a violinist named Adrian Arkwright, a couple of German thugs who have difficulty with the fact that Holmes and Watson don’t bend easily; and Kaiser Wihelm and the Prince of Wales. Action, contradictory clues, and good mystery.

The Wilhelm Conspiracy (Sherlock Holmes & Lucy James Mysteries #2), by Charles Veley
Thomas & Mercer, October 2016

Review by Lis Carey: Months after the events in The Last Moriarty, a prominent banker is found dead in compromising circumstances, and Inspector Lestrade appears at 221B Baker Street, having just been beaten up and given a message virtually on the doorstep.

The dead banker is the one who was involved in the transfer of German Imperial funds to its agents in the conspiracy against the British government. Lestrade was sent by the Commissioner to ask Holmes to get involved in the investigation of the theft of a new British super weapon. The men who beat him up gave him a message for Holmes — stay out of it.

Nothing could be more certain to secure Holmes’ commitment to the case.

Lucy James, having seen the newspaper report of the banker’s death and realizing it’s connected to the previous case, arrives before Holmes and Watson have departed for Dover, where they are asked to meet Lord Lansdowne, the Secretary of War. Lucy is firmly told that this case is too dangerous, and she won’t be coming with them. Well, you can’t really blame Holmes for not knowing his own daughter, since they’ve met so recently.

In Dover, they find a completely charred human body on the beach, and a device at  Kerren House which is claimed to be an electrical cannon invented by Nikola Tesla, who — also present — says it’s the work of Lord Kerren, while strongly implying that Kerren may have stolen his own notes when visiting Tesla in New York. Kerren is currently away, in Germany, while his brother-in-law, Lord Radnar is in Colorado.

Since it’s the Germans who are hinting they have Kerren’s plans, it seems a little odd that he’s in Germany.

Also on the scene, no surprise to the discerning reader, is Lucy James. Turns out her friend, Harriet Radnar, is the daughter of Lord Radnar, as well as being a fellow singer with the D’Oyly Carte Opera. And, we soon learn, one of Lansdowne’s agents, assigned to listening carefully to the conversation among the elites of Europe wherever she travels with the Opera.

Over the next few days, there’s another death, several attacks, an apparent demonstration in a public park of the German version of the electrical cannon, attacks on Holmes and Watson, as well as messages making demands and offers related to the electrical cannon. There are missing parts to Kerren’s version, which need to be recovered, but which may already be in the hands of the Germans.

Clues point in all directions, and Kaiser Wilhelm, who is not on wonderful terms with his uncle, Prince Albert Edward, the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII), may or may not be aware of what his ministers and staff are up to. They are definitely up to something, however. The Prince of Wales, not many years off from becoming King, is only superficially at the spa for recreational purposes. He’s fully aware of the threat Lansdowne, Holmes, and others are working to stop, and is called upon to make some critical decisions along the way.

There’s also clearly a traitor within Britain’s War Department. Lansdowne would prefer to focus on recovering the stolen parts, while Holmes is adamant that they can’t resolve the threat if they don’t find the traitor.

Holmes and Watson are both attacked, separately and together, threats are received, and at one point Watson, while reluctantly accepting the Kaiser’s “gift” of a visit to the same spa favored by the Prince of Wales, is hypnotized, and when he eventually emerges, can’t be sure what information he’s divulged.

Harriet Radnar is an interesting character in her own right, and should really be kept an eye on.

It’s fast-paced, interesting, and fun.

I received this book as a gift.

Lis Carey Review: The Last Moriarty

Holmes is back from his “death” at the Reichenbach Falls, but only Watson and a very select group of mostly official clients know. When Mycroft bestirs himself to come to 221B Baker Street, they know it’s serious business. Mycroft is there to summon them to a very high-level meeting at the Diogenes Club, to ensure that a planned very secret meeting with some prominent American businessmen goes off safely, smoothly, and, yes, secretly. It proves to be even more dangerous than feared, and along the way, some of Holmes’s own long-buried past resurfaces.

The Last Moriarty (Sherlock Holmes and Lucy James #1), by Charles Veley
Thomas & Mercer, November 2015

Review by Lis Carey: Mycroft Holmes takes the unusual step of visiting his brother Sherlock and Dr. Watson at 221B Baker Street, to summon them to an important meeting at the Diogenes Club. The meeting will involve the Prime Minister and other senior ministers, and concern a planned conference with important American businessmen–for highly sensitive reasons.

At the meeting at the Diogenes Club, they learn the Prime Minister believes word has leaked and there may be an attack planned on this conference. It would be a major embarrassment to the government–and as events unfold, Holmes and Watson become increasingly irked that avoiding embarrassment appears to be the biggest consideration. Little of Holmes’s security advice is headed; his brief is simply to prevent the attack while his advice is ignored.

A man is found dead, and is discovered to be an employee of John D. Rockefeller Sr., who of course is one of the prominent businessmen involved. When Inspector Lestrade, Holmes, and Watson attend the examination of the body, it’s Holmes who realizes the man was not drowned, as initially believed, but suffocated with chloroform. Mr. Rockefeller’s head of security was murdered. Shortly thereafter, a carriage is blown up with dynamite outside the hospital–and inquiry into existing records shows that an exceptionally large amount of dynamite has been stolen over the past year. Something truly dangerous is afoot.

It’s six years after Moriarty died, and Holmes was believed to have died, at the Reichenbach Falls. Since his return, Holmes has been keeping a low profile, but investigating this case takes him out more into public than he has until now. One of those necessary ventures is to the D’Oyly Carte Opera, housed at the Savoy Theatre–next to the Savoy Hotel, where the dead man was staying, and John D. Rockefeller Jr. is staying. This is far less conspicuous than going to see Rockefeller Sr. on his yacht.

However, while at the theatre, they encounter two women–a young American singer, who has recently been added to the chorus, by the name of Lucy James, and an older woman, Zoe Rosario, a violinist of considerable talent. Miss James has her own concerns to present to Holmes, and is both close to Rockefeller Jr., and very, very observant, making her a useful contact. Miss Rosario, among other interesting features, refers to Holmes as Sherlock, while Holmes quite clearly is avoiding her. This turns out to be more closely related to the main mystery than there is initially any reason to suspect.

The main story has Holmes and Watson trying to track down the real identity of, and an actual London residence of, Mr. Adam Worth, a principal investor in the D’Oyly Carte Opera, whom Mr. Carte admits to some serious doubts about, and has been trying to replace. Where is he from? What is his real background? And why do his properties seem to figure in the disturbing events surrounding the planned conference, while also seeming completely uninhabited?

There’s a lot going on here, with some remarkably interesting twists and turns along the way. It’s a very interesting and ultimately satisfying story, grounded in the Holmes and Watson we know, and in the real history of the period.

I’m looking forward to reading more of these.

I received this book as a gift.

Pixel Scroll 4/10/23 A Pixel Sliding Into Third Just Under The Tag Of A Scroll As A Filer Calls “Safe!”

(1) FRENCH SFF SCHOLAR COMING TO KANSAS. The Gunn Center for the Study of SF is welcoming 2023 Hall Center International Scholar, Simon Bréan. Professor Simon Bréan (U. of Paris-Sorbonne), a world-renowned a scholar and specialist in science fiction, will visit the University of Kansas in April 2023 as the Hall Center for the Humanities 2023 International Scholar and a guest of the Department of French, Francophone & Italian Studies, Center of Excellence, KU Libraries, and the Gunn Center for the Study of SF. Professor Bréan will be visiting from Wednesday April 26 to Thursday, April 27, 2023.

(2) ENJOY IT WHILE YOU CAN. “Harlan Coben’s Top Tip for Book Touring: Appreciate Crowds” in the New York Times.

On July 11, 2001, Harlan Coben was at home in Ridgewood, N.J., when his publisher called to share the happy news that his 10th novel, “Tell No One,” was a best seller. “That’s the first time I hit the New York Times list,” he said in a phone interview. “It was also the day my fourth and youngest child was born. Things changed a lot after that.”

Not only was the author swarmed by small people — the oldest Coben kid was 7 — he suddenly attracted crowds to bookstores. Gone was the awkwardness he immortalized in a 2014 Op-Ed about a slow afternoon at Waldenbooks: “During the first hour of my signing, a grand total of four people approached me. Two asked me where the bathroom was. The third explained his conspiracy theory linking the J.F.K. assassination with the decision by General Mills to add Crunch Berries to Cap’n Crunch breakfast cereal. The fourth asked me if we had a copy of the new Stephen King.”

Maybe this memory explains why Coben declined to issue a single substantive complaint about the toll of recent professional obligations.

(3) NERO FIDDLES, VULCAN BURNS. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] We may be living in some offshoot of the Star Trek alternate timeline where Nero destroys Vulcan.

Back in 2018 it was announced an exoplanet (“super-Earth” sized) had been discovered at 40 Eridani which was, of course, popularly referred to as Vulcan after Mr. Spock‘s home planet orbiting there in the Star Trek universe.

Well, reanalysis of the data has lead to the conclusion that, sadly, that announcement was in error. Though, the door isn’t completely closed as current data isn’t sensitive enough to rule out other, smaller, planets in the system. 

So, fingers crossed — for Nero to be thwarted and Vulcan to be rediscovered in its rightful place. Or perhaps a different arrangement of one’s fingers is called for. “Sorry Trekkies: Bad news about the ‘real-life Planet Vulcan'” at Mashable.

… The trouble is, after a reanalysis, the new team found the discovery was likely a mistake. That’s right: They couldn’t just let Spock live long and prosper in a real world. They had to go and wipe out his home planet from existence.

“We apologize for that,” Burt told Mashable. “We’ll find other cool planets.”…

… Despite their findings, the search for Spock’s home can continue, Laliotis said. Though they may not have a starship Enterprise to seek it out, more sensitive instruments and detection methods in the near future may make it possible to find another smaller exoplanet in that star system — perhaps one that is more Earth-like — to rename Vulcan.

After all, if 40 Eri b’s detection were correct, it would be much too hot for life as we know it.

“There is still hope that there might be a Vulcan there,” she said. “This actually is maybe promising that there might be a better Vulcan there.”

(4) BE ON THE LOOKOUT. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] A fan costumed as Boba Fett had the transit police called on them during Anime Boston because onlookers thought he was carrying a real rifle. Fortunately, nothing severe came of it. “Police were called about a person with a rifle. It turned out to be a man in a Boba Fett costume” at CNN.

… Boston police had an intergalactic encounter after a report about a person carrying a long rifle led them to someone dressed up in a Boba Fett costume.

Transit police with the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority received a call about a person armed with a long rifle at the Back Bay train station on Friday around 6 pm ET, according to a tweet from the agency’s official account.

But the rifle in question wasn’t real at all, said police…

(5) AL JAFFEE (1921-2023). Mad Magazine cartoonist Al Jaffee died April 10 at the age of 102 reports SFGate.com.

Al Jaffee, Mad magazine’s award-winning cartoonist and ageless wise guy who delighted millions of kids with the sneaky fun of the Fold-In and the snark of “Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions,” has died. He was 102.

Jaffee died Monday in Manhattan from multiple organ failure, according to his granddaughter, Fani Thomson. He had retired at the age of 99.

…The [initial fold-in] idea was so popular that Mad editor Al Feldstein wanted a follow-up. Jaffee devised a picture of 1964 GOP presidential contenders Nelson Rockefeller and Barry Goldwater that, when collapsed, became an image of Richard Nixon.

“That one really set the tone for what the cleverness of the Fold-Ins has to be,” Jaffee told the Boston Phoenix in 2010. “It couldn’t just be bringing someone from the left to kiss someone on the right.”

…Jaffee received numerous awards, and in 2013 was inducted into the Will Eisner Hall of Fame, the ceremony taking place at San Diego Comic-Con International. In 2010, he contributed illustrations to Mary-Lou Weisman’s “Al Jaffee’s Mad Life: A Biography.” The following year, Chronicle Books published “The MAD Fold-In Collection: 1964-2010.”

The Hollywood Reporter notes that Jaffee began his comics career after graduating high school in 1940, and at age 20 he made his first sale to Will Eisner, who bought his parody of Superman called Inferior Man. He went on to work for soon-to-be Marvel legend Stan Lee at Timely Comics, a forerunner of Marvel Comics.  He did his first work for Mad Magazine in 1955.

(6) NORMAN REYNOLDS (1934-2023). Production designer and art director Norman Reynolds died April 6, and Lucasfilm has a lengthy tribute.

Reynolds shared the 1978 Academy Award for Best Production Design with three colleagues for their work on the first Star Wars movie.

…Reynolds was an art director on Star Wars: A New Hope (1977). He worked closely with John Barry, the film’s overall production designer, to help establish the core design philosophy behind Star Wars architecture and construction. They joined art director Leslie Dilley and set decorator Roger Christian as winners of the Academy Award for Art Direction in 1978. For Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1980), Reynolds was elevated into the production designer role as Barry pursued directing (sadly, he would pass away while working as a consultant on Empire)…. 

He won another Academy Award for Art Direction 1982, shared with two colleagues, for their work on Raiders of the Lost Ark.

…When Steven Spielberg partnered with Lucasfilm to make Raiders of the Lost Ark, Reynolds became production designer, helping establish the Indiana Jones style from the ground-up. This even included sculpting the iconic golden idol that Indy attempts to procure during the film’s memorable opening. Reynolds used an Incan fertility sculpture that he’d collected during his travels overseas….

Of course, Raiders wouldn’t be complete without Indy’s close call with a giant boulder as it rolls down a temple passage. “I didn’t know it was gonna look as good as it did until the day Norman Reynolds showed me that he had actually made a boulder that was something like 22 feet in circumference,” Steven Spielberg would explain. As Reynolds explained, it was Spielberg himself who kept asking for it to be bigger! Raiders would earn Reynolds his second Academy Award for Art Direction in 1982 alongside art director Leslie Dilley and set decorator Michael Ford….

(7) MICHAEL LERNER (1941-2023). Actor Michael Lerner has died at the age of 81. The Yahoo! profile mentions many genre roles.

…With an Academy Award nod under his belt [for Barton Fink], Lerner became a familiar face for moviegoers through the ’90s, with notable credits including “Newsies,” “Blank Check,” “No Escape” and “Celebrity.” In Roland Emmerich’s 1998 “Godzilla,” he played the overwhelmed, pompous New York leader deemed Mayor Ebert, a flagrant lampoon of premier film critic Roger Ebert. Lerner was styled to resemble the “At the Movies” co-host in the disaster blockbuster. (Ebert ended up panning the film with a 1.5 star review, though he praised Lerner for a “gamely played” performance.)

Lerner continued regular work after the turn of the century. He played the severe boss to James Caan’s grumpy publishing company exec in the 2003 holiday comedy “Elf,” as well as a mutant-weary U.S. Senator in the 2014 blockbuster “X-Men: Days of Future Past.”

(8) MEMORY LANE.

1888[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

Our Beginning is both that of Arthur Conan Doyle’s A Study in Scarlet and of the best known consulting detective to ever grace the pages of fiction, Sherlock Holmes. 

The November 1887 issue of Beeton’s Christmas Annual published Arthur Conan Doyle’s A Study in Scarlet which showed us for the first time Sherlock Holmes and his friend Watson. Only eleven known copies of this issue are known to exist. 

It would be published in book form in 1888 by Ward, Lock & Co. 

It’s hard to believe there’s a single soul here who doesn’t know the story of these characters but I’m playing by our established rules, so no spoilers. So let’s go to our Beginning.

MR. SHERLOCK HOLMES

IN the year 1878 I took my degree of Doctor of Medicine of the University of London, and proceeded to Netley to go through the course prescribed for surgeons in the army. Having completed my studies there, I was duly attached to the 5th Northumberland Fusilier as assistant surgeon. The regiment was stationed in India at the time, and before I could join it the second Afghan f war had broken out. On landing at Bombay, I learned that my corps had advanced through the passes and was already deep in the enemy’s country. I followed, however, with many other officers who were in the same situation as myself, and succeeded in reaching Candahar in safety, where I found my regiment and at once entered upon my new duties.

The campaign brought honors and promotion to many, but for me it had nothing but misfortune and disaster. I was removed from my brigade and attached to the Berkshires, with whom I served at the fatal battle of Maiwand. There I was struck on the shoulder by a Jezail bullet, which shattered the bone and grazed the subclavian artery. I should have fallen into the hands of the murderous Ghazis had it not been for the devotion and courage shown by Murray, my orderly, who threw me across a pack-horse and succeeded in bringing me safely to the British lines.

Worn with pain, and weak from the prolonged hardships which I had undergone, I was removed, with a great train of wounded sufferers, to the base hospital at Peshawur. Here I rallied, and had already improved so far as to be able to walk about the wards, and even to bask a little upon the veranda, when I was struck down by enteric fever, that curse of our Indian possessions. For months my life was despaired of, and when at last I came to myself and became convalescent, I was so weak and emaciated that a medical board determined that not a day should be lost in sending me back to England. I was despatched, accordingly, in the troopship Orontes, and landed a month later on Portsmouth jetty with my health irretrievably ruined, but with permission from a paternal government to spend the next nine months in attempting to improve it.

I had neither kith nor kin in England, and was therefore as free as air—or as free as an income of eleven shillings and sixpence a day will permit a man to be. Under such circumstances, I naturally gravitated to London, that great cesspool into which all the loungers and idlers of the empire are irresistibly drained. There I stayed for some time at a private hotel in the Strand, leading a comfortless, meaningless existence, and spending such money as I had considerably more freely than I ought. So alarming did the state of my finances become, that I soon realized that I must either leave the metropolis and rusticate somewhere in the country, or that I must make a complete alteration in my style of living. Choosing the latter alternative, I began by making up my mind to leave the hotel and to take up my quarters in some less pretentious and less expensive domicile.

On the very day that I had come to this conclusion, I was standing at the Criterion bar, when some one tapped me on the shoulder, and turning round I recognized young Stamford, who had been a dresser under me at Bart’s. The sight of a friendly face in the great wilderness of London is a pleasant thing indeed to a lonely man. In old days Stamford had never been a particular crony of mine, but now I hailed him with enthusiasm, and he, in his turn, appeared to be delighted to see me. In the exuberance of my joy I asked him to lunch with me at the Holborn, and we started off together in a hansom.

“Whatever have you been doing with yourself, Watson?” he asked, in undisguised wonder, as we rattled through the crowded London streets.

“You are as thin as a lath and as brown as a nut.”

I gave him a short sketch of my adventures, and had hardly concluded it by the time that we reached our destination.

“Poor devil!” he said, commiseratingly, after he had listened to my misfortunes. “What are you up to now?”

“Looking for lodgings,” I answered. “Trying to solve the problem as to whether it is possible to get comfortable rooms at a reasonable price.”

“That’s a strange thing,” remarked my companion; “you are the second man to-day that has used that expression to me.

“And who was the first?” I asked.

“A fellow who is working at the chemical laboratory up at the hospital. 

He was bemoaning himself this morning because he could not get some one to go halves with him in some nice rooms which he had found, and which were too much for his purse.”

“By Jove!” I cried; “if he really wants some one to share the rooms and the expense, I am the very man for him. I should prefer having a partner to being alone.”

Young Stamford looked rather strangely at me over his wineglass.

“You don’t know Sherlock Holmes yet,” he said; “perhaps you would not care for him as a constant companion.”

“Why, what is there against him?”

“Oh, I didn’t say there was anything against him. He is a little queer in his ideas—an enthusiast in some branches of science. As far as I know, he is a decent fellow enough.”

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born April 10, 1897 Eric Knight. Decidedly better known for his 1940 Lassie Come-Home novel which introduced Lassie who I cannot stretch to be even genre adjacent for the soul of me, but he had one genre undertaking according to ISFDB, the Sam Small series. I’ve never heard of them, nor are they available in digital form though Lassie Come-Home of course is. Anyone read them? (Died 1943.)
  • Born April 10, 1921 Chuck Connors. His first genre role was as Senator Robert Fraser in Captain Nemo and the Underwater City followed by being Tab Fielding in Soylent Green. He’s Captain McCloud in Virus, a Japanese horror film, and he had one-offs in The Adventures of SupermanThe Six Million Dollar ManFantasy Island and a recurring role as Captain Janos Skorzenyn in Werewolf. (Died 1992.)
  • Born April 10, 1929 Max von Sydow. He played Ernst Stavro Blofeld in the Never Say Never Again and Ming the Merciless in Flash Gordon. He shows up in the Exorcist II: The Heretic as Father Lankester Merrin while being King Osric in Conan the Barbarian. Dreamscape sees him being Doctor Paul Novotny while he’s Liet-Kynes the Imperial Planetologist in Dune. He was Judge Fargo in Judge Dredd (and yes I still like it), in Minority Report as Director Lamar Burgess, Sir Walter Loxley in Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood and finally in Star Wars: The Force Awakens as Lor San Tekka. (Died 2020.)
  • Born April 10, 1953 David Langford, 70. And how long have you been reading Ansible? If he’s not noted for that singular enterprise, he should be noted for assisting in producing the second edition of the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, not to mention hundreds of thousands of words as a principal editor of the third (online) edition of the publication, and some eighty thousand words of articles to the most excellent Encyclopedia of Fantasy as well. And let’s not forget his genre writing as well that earned him a Best Short Story Hugo at the Millennium Philcon for “Different Kinds of Darkness”.  And he has won 28 other Hugos for his fan writing, for Ansible, and his work on the third edition of EoSF
  • Born April 10, 1955 Pat Murphy, 68. I think that her most brilliant work is The City, Not Long After which I’ve read myriad times. If you’ve not read this novel, do so now. The Max Merriwell series is excellent and Murphy’s ‘explanation’ of the authorial attributions is fascinating. And The Falling Woman by her is an amazing read as well. She’s reasonably well stocked at the usual suspects.
  • Born April 10, 1957 John M. Ford, 1957 –  2006 Damn, he died far too young! Popular at At Minicon and other cons where he would be Dr. Mike and give silly answers to questions posed to him while wearing a lab coat before a whiteboard. His most interesting novel I think is The Last Hot Time, an urban fantasy set in Chicago that might have been part of Terri Windling’s Bordertown series but wasn’t. Possibly. (And no, the Suck Fairy hasn’t gotten near when I last read it.) The Dragon Waiting is also excellent and his Trek novels are among the best in that area of writing.  He’s finally back into print after a very long time. (Died 2006.)
  • Born April 10, 1962 — James H. Burns. Every search I did in putting together this late Filer’s Birthday ended back here. That he was beloved here, I have no doubt. In OGH’s obituary for Burns in 2016 he said Burns’ pride was this trio of posts that paid tribute to the influence of his father — My Father, And The BrontosaurusSons of a Mesozoic Age, and World War II, and a Lexicon in Time. Burns also wrote for File 770 about memories of “growing up fannish,” such as the very popular Once, When We Were All Scientists, and CLANKY!. And his good friend Steve Vertlieb also has reminisced about Burns here. (Died 2016.)
  • Born April 10, 1992 Daisy Ridley, 31. Obviously she played the role of Rey in The Force AwakensThe Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker. She will reprise her role as Rey in an yet untitled Star Wars film set that is after The Rise of Skywalker. She was also in Scrawl, a horror film as well as voicing Cotton Rabbit in Peter Rabbit. Though stretching to even call it genre adjacent even, she was Mary Debenham in Murder on The Orient Express.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Heart of the City shows us an episode of what Filers might call SJW Credential Court TV. (Hint: this is cat humor.)

(11) STRONG SALES PITCH. Charlie Jane Anders makes some pretty wild promises in the “Here’s What I’ll Do If You Buy My New Book!” section of her latest Happy Dancing newsletter. Here’s just the first of many:

…But regardless of where and how you purchase Promises Stronger Than Darkness, here are all the things I will do for you, because I love you and appreciate your support.

I will ship you, by zeroeth class mail, a portable ambient sexifier, which for 24 hours after activation, will render every inanimate object in your vicinity thirty-nine percent sexier. Your drapes will billow sexily. The cracks in the sidewalk will wink salaciously. Newspaper articles about the impending mulchification of civilization will appear diaphanous. The uneaten crusts of your morning toast will salute you….

(12) JUST ADD CUSTOMERS. “German monks create world’s first powdered beer”New Atlas has details.

A monastic brewery in East Germany says it’s created the first powdered beer. Just add water, and it’ll froth up, complete with a foamy head and full flavor. The result promises massive savings on transport, because it can be shipped at 10% of the weight.

Klosterbrauerei Neuzelle worked together with “technology partners” and used funding from BMWi to create its first powdered product, a dextrin-rich zero-alcohol beer which has been brewed using conventional methods, then “processed and prepared into a water-soluble beer powder/granulate.”…

(13) YOU NEVER KNOW. According to AP News, “’The Super Mario Bros. Movie’ is a box office smash”.

Audiences said let’s go to the movie theater for “ The Super Mario Bros. Movie ” this weekend. The animated offering from Universal and Illumination powered up with $204.6 million in its first five days in 4,343 North American theaters, including $146.4 million over the weekend, according to studio estimates on Sunday.

With an estimated $173 million in international earnings and a global total of $377 million, “Mario” broke records for video game adaptations (passing “Warcraft’s” $210 million) and animated films (“Frozen 2’s” $358 million).

Its global total makes it the biggest opening of 2023 and the second biggest three-day domestic animated opening (behind “Finding Dory”). It’s also a record for Illumination, the animation shop behind successful franchises like “Minions,” which has made over $5 billion from its 13 films….

(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by N.] Animated fantasy series The Owl House received a final season that was truncated to only three hour-long episodes, despite the outcry of both the creator and its fanbase. In the face of that challenge the show has given viewers arguably its best episodes. The final episode has been uploaded to YouTube in full for free (as the previous two were), bringing The Owl House to a close after three years. “The Owl House Season 3 Final Episode”.

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

Lis Carey Review: Diamond Jubilee

It’s June 1897, and the official celebration of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee—60 years on the throne—is approaching. Holmes and  Watson receive an unexpected visit from Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain), wanting help with a very worrying puzzle. As Holmes and Watson try to solve the mystery of the wall-eyed man who seems to have followed Clemens from Johannesburg, South Africa to London, they also learn that there seems to be conspiracy centered on the Queen’s Jubilee, and that the two mysteries may be connected. It all builds to a frightening conclusion, with trusted allies possibly being untrustworthy or even enemies.

Diamond Jubilee: Sherlock Holmes, Mark Twain, and the Peril of the Empire, by Paul Schullery (author), Nick Crosby (narrator). MX Publishing, October 2018

Review By Lis Carey: Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson are at home at Baker Street, when they receive an unexpected visitor. It’s Samuel Clemens, a.k.a. Mark Twain, with a puzzle whose seriousness he is not quite certain of, but he fears the worst.

It’s June 1897, and Clemens is engaged in a world tour. It’s also the 60th anniversary of the reign of Queen Victoria, with the official celebration of her Diamond Jubilee coming up on June 22. A few weeks ago in Johannesburg, South Africa, Clemens had a disturbing yet seemingly minor experience.

He was giving one of his talks at a theater in Johannesburg. It was sold out, to the point that those with enough money to burn had seats on the stage not far from Clemens himself. He wasn’t happy about this, but he’s a professional, and concentrated on making his audience laugh. Mostly he succeeded–except for one of those men who’d paid for a seat on the stage, who never reacted at all. He was very distinctive, with a pronounced wall-eye, with that eye seeming larger than the other. His hair was also strangely spiky. Clemens worked hard to get a reaction, any reaction, and failed, but the rest of the audience was delighted, so he let it go. He didn’t see the man again.

At least, not until he arrived in London. Clemens settles his family in a quiet neighborhood, away from the literary high life, because he has both a book to finish, and their eldest daughter to mourn–Susy Clemens, who died in August 1896. As he is out visiting his English publisher, he sees, seemingly by pure chance, a man identical to the wall-eyed man in Johannesburg. The man is too quickly gone for Clemens to catch up to him or get any more information, but coincidence doesn’t seem a likely explanation. And due to other incidents, he thinks this may have to do not only with him, but with the Diamond Jubilee.

What follows is an alarming sequence of events, with the wall-eyed man entering and apparently searching both the Clemens residence and 221B Baker Street, and neatly evading successful tracking both times, Wiggins and the Irregulars finding confusing and disturbing information about him.

The police assign constables to guard the Clemens home after the wall-eyed man’s intrustion, and one of them is an atypically educated and cultured constable named Marston, who has an interesting family story, and is, like Watson, a veteraon of the Empire’s wars. He’s a good source of information, including leading them to a ratting club where the wall-eyed man often attends and becoms part of the entertainment.

Yet Holmes and one of the Clemens’s longtime household staff have real doubts about Marston’s intentions.

More evidence turns up, and Holmes and Watson go to visit Mycroft Holmes at his club–and get pulled into a very high-level meeting. The growing evidence that there’s a dangerous plot centered on the Diamond Jubilee is solidifying, and the government, from the Prime Minister on down, wants all hands on deck. Sherlock Holmes would have been sent for, if he and Watson hadn’t conveniently arrived under their own power.

There’s intrigue, a partially successful kidnapping, and the revelation of a more twisted plot than any had suspected. Both Watson’s medical skills and his military experience play an important role. The tension builds to a terrifying climax.

The story was good, and I liked the characters, including most of Doyle’s characters. I wasn’t thrilled with how Lestrade and Gregson were depicted, but the back of my mind is suggesting than Schullery got them more right than my memory. This was a really satisfying book, and the narrator did an excellent job.

I got this audiobook free as part of signing up for the publisher’s newsletter.

Lis Carey Review: The Crown Jewel Mystery

An American actress has come to London, seeking her unknown father who funded her education. She knows the money is sent from a particular bank, but she only has the account number, not the name of the account holder. Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Watson, and Inspector Gregson are on the trail of a major bank robbery that will happen today. It’s the same bank, and what goes down will be dangerous, even deadly. If the actress and her friend survive, it will be due to her intense, careful, attention to detail, and ability to reason out what the details mean.

The Crown Jewel Mystery (Sherlock Holmes and Lucy James Mystery #0.5), by Anna Elliott (author), Charles Veley (author)
Wilton Press, June 2017

Review By Lis Carey: Lucy James, an American actress, arrives in London, officially for a position in the D’Oyly Carte Opera which she has been offered. In reality, her main motivation is to try to find the identity of her father. The stipend that supported her and paid for her education came from the Capital and Counties Bank on Oxford Street in London. She has the account number, but no name. She wants that name.

Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Watson, and Inspector Gregson, have been called to the scene of the seemingly sudden death of a bank clerk at the Capital and Counties Bank. They’re on the trail of a master criminal, and the death of this bank clerk, along with additional information from his brother, tells them this is the day a major attack on the bank will occur. In alternating chapters, we get the story from the different perspectives of Lucy and Watson.

Lucy is accompanied by her friend, Johnny Rockefeller–yes, John D. Rockefeller Jr., which is enormously helpful in getting to talk to the bank manager, and then getting him to take Johnny on a tour of the vault, while leaving the “claustrophobic” Lucy in his office. She has just enough time to find that there’s no name attached to the account, just a safety deposit box number. It’s after she’s gotten the manager to take them to the safety deposit boxes and leave them there briefly, that the bank robbers arrive and begin their attack. 

From there on, Holmes outside and Lucy inside are each working to defeat the gang, each with that peculiarly high attention to detail that we expect of Holmes, but which surprises everyone who meets the young actress. It’s high stakes and dangerous, and exciting right down to the end. I find it a very good Holmes pastiche, true to the tone and the established characters, along with late 19th century London.

Recommended.

I received this book as a gift.