Pixel Scroll 7/27/22 And Did Those Files, In Ancient Time, Scroll Upon England’s Pixels Green?

(1) TODAY’S THING TO WORRY ABOUT. “Stranger Things is being edited retroactively by Netflix. Is this the beginning of a dangerous TV trend?” asks British GQ. It’s not a long article and these tweets have the gist of it.

(2) VIDEO GAME NEWS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In Financial Times behind a paywall, Tom Faber reviews The Quarry, a new game from Supermassive that stars Ted Raimi, David Arquette, and Grace Zabriskie.

While much horror cinema has taken a turn for the intellectual over the past decade, this is a straight-up lesson in the schlock doctrine, a love letter to campy teen slashers such as Friday The 13th.  You’ll find every trope in the book here, from full moons to mysterious trapdoors to flimsy metaphors for intergenerational trauma. The set-up is simple:  it’s the end of summer camp and your group of teenage counsellors are planning to stay one last night to have a party in the woods. The forest inevitably harbours a dreadful, murderous secret, but it will take a lot to faze these kids–theyre horny, wisecracking and ready to make some truly terrible decisions…

…For most of this ten-hour adventure, watching is all you’ll do. Rather than playing, you’re mostly observing scripted sequences and influencing the story by making choices,  These might be fluffy character beats (who do you want to flirt with?) or grim decisions (do you want to pull the knife out of your stomach, risking blood loss?)You’ll also be faced with that horror ur-choice:  run, or hide? There’s no right or wrong; characters can die and the story will keep going.  Each choice leads you towards one of the game’s 186 possible endings.

(3) REMEMBER WHAT THE DORMOUSE SAID. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] The Royal Society concludes that playing video games will not rot your brain. “Time spent playing video games is unlikely to impact well-being”.

Abstract

Video games are a massively popular form of entertainment, socializing, cooperation and competition. Games’ ubiquity fuels fears that they cause poor mental health, and major health bodies and national governments have made far-reaching policy decisions to address games’ potential risks, despite lacking adequate supporting data. The concern–evidence mismatch underscores that we know too little about games’ impacts on well-being. We addressed this disconnect by linking six weeks of 38 935 players’ objective game-behaviour data, provided by seven global game publishers, with three waves of their self-reported well-being that we collected. We found little to no evidence for a causal connection between game play and well-being. However, results suggested that motivations play a role in players’ well-being. For good or ill, the average effects of time spent playing video games on players’ well-being are probably very small, and further industry data are required to determine potential risks and supportive factors to health….

(4) INSIDE BABYLON 5. As J. Michael Straczynski’s Babylon 5 new commentaries get uploaded to his Patreon page, older ones get a public release. The latest posted to YouTube is: “Babylon 5: Message From Earth commentary by J. Michael Straczynski”.

A full-length, sync-up commentary by creator Straczynski about Messages From Earth, the first installment of a trilogy that would forever alter the course of the series.

(5) OKORAFOR PROFILED. “Africanfuturista! The fantastical adventures of Nnedi Okorafor” at Geek Afrique.

Spaceships, terrorist aliens, water spirits, soldiers, Boko Haram, and wet piles of meat. These aren’t part of a kind of dark poetry, but mainstays of some of the best work of writer Nnedi Okorafor. Her work in her genre of choice Africanfuturism (one word, no space), her speculative fiction and fantasy work, are among the most unique today. Africanfuturism, which Okorafor coined, is an exciting subgenre that welds science fiction and technology to African mythologies, weaving black people —or blackness, really— into fertile worlds rife with story possibilities….

(6) OBAMA’S BOOK RECS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Barack Obama put books by Emily St. John Mandel and Silvia Moreno-Garcia on his Summer 2022 reading list.

He also put S.A. Cosby’s novel on there. In “Noir at the Bar”, a piece I wrote for File 770 in 2019 about going to hear crime writers read short stories, I said that Cosby was clearly the best writer in the room…

(7) CREEPY CRAWLIES. “Giant spiders, creeping tentacles all in a day’s work for this Ypsilanti artist”Michigan Live profiles Anna Miklosovic. (Her website is here.)

…Miklosovic currently has two art series depicting the unusual. The first shows a paranormal side of Ypsilanti and features work with giant spiders crawling up the side of the iconic Ypsilanti water tower and a giant tentacle in the Peninsula Paper Company Dam. The 12-part series was turned into a calendar, Miklosovic said.

Her second series focuses on Ann Arbor through the lens of the apocalypse, showing abandoned versions of well-known city locations….

(8) NOT JUST ANY USED CLOTHING. The prices didn’t quite go to infinity and beyond, but close: “Buzz Aldrin’s Space Memorabilia Sells for More Than $8 Million” reports the New York Times.

white, Teflon-coated jacket worn by the astronaut Buzz Aldrin during the Apollo 11 mission to the moon in 1969 sold for $2.7 million at a Sotheby’s auction on Tuesday, fetching the highest price among dozens of pieces of rare memorabilia tracing his career in space exploration.

Mr. Aldrin, now 92, has a storied career as an astronaut, joining NASA in 1963 after flying for the Air Force. Within three years, he had walked in space on the Gemini 12 mission. Then, on July 20, 1969, millions of people watched on television as he became the second man to walk on the moon, about 20 minutes after Neil Armstrong, who declared it “one giant leap for mankind.”

The custom-fitted jacket Mr. Aldrin wore on that mission sold after fierce bidding lasting nine minutes, with the auctioneer calling it “the most valuable American space-flown artifact ever sold at auction.” (The garments worn by the two other Apollo 11 astronauts from that mission are owned by the Smithsonian.)

In all, 68 of 69 lots of Mr. Aldrin’s belongings were sold for a combined $8 million on Tuesday by Sotheby’s in Manhattan at an auction that lasted more than two hours….

(9) MEMORY LANE.  

2008 [By Cat Eldridge.] Your essay tonight is brought to you courtesy of two of my loves — Agatha Christie and Doctor Who. Doctor Who’s “The Unicorn and The Wasp” involved both and had the added advantage of being a David Tennant story — bliss!

This episode aired first aired by BBC One on May 17, 2008. As I said it’s a Tennant Doctor and the Companion was Donna Noble as played delightfully by Catherine Tate. I didn’t care for her at first by she grew on me nicely. 

SPOLIERS ABOUND. GO AWAY NOW!

The two arrive at British manor of Lady Clemency Eddison, (Manor house mysteries are another fascination of mine), where Christie is staying. The episode is a murder-mystery where a shapeshifting giant wasp, in disguise as one of the party guests, murders the other guests using methods similar to those in the novels of Christie. The Doctor and Christie, wonderfully played by Fenella Woolgar, collaborate rather deliciously in uncovering what is going on.

Doctor Who does CGI really well and the wasp here comes off nicely even though it could’ve come as damn silly given how big it is. It didn’t. I mean a giant wasp in the British countryside? Seriously? 

More than a few Christie novels get mentioned. Actually a lot acoording to the writer and Russell T Davies. Titles that were noted were: The Murder of Roger AckroydWhy Didn’t They Ask EvansThe Body in the LibraryThe Secret AdversaryN or M?NemesisCat Among the PigeonsDead Man’s FollyThey Do It With MirrorsAppointment with DeathCards on the TableSparkling CyanideEndless NightCrooked HouseDeath in the CloudsThe Moving FingerTaken at the FloodDeath Comes as the EndMurder on the Orient Express and The Murder at the Vicarage

And there’s a neat riff at the end where the Doctor pulled a copy of a Christie novel out of a locker on the TARDIS from five billion years in the future refuting Christie’s belief that she would be remembered. 

They tie the story into the real life mystery of Christie disappearing for nearly eleven days. Mind you, their explanation is fantastical in the extreme.  

So we get The Doctor playing effectively Holmes in a manor house mystery with the assistance of Christie. 

It’s worth noting Christopher Benjamin who is Colonel Hugh Curbishley here played Henry Gordon Jago in The Talons of Weng-Chiang, another favorite episode of mine.

END SPOILERS. REALLY. 

It’s a delightedly written episode that was penned by Gareth Roberts, who previously wrote the another episode that played off history, “The Shakespeare Code”. I’ve watched it least half dozen times and enjoyed it every times. It’s streaming on HBO Max.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 27, 1938 Gary Gygax. Game designer and author best known for co-creating  Dungeons & Dragons with Dave Arneson. In addition to the almost beyond counting gaming modules he wrote, he wrote the Greyhawk Adventure series and the Dangerous Journeys novels, none of which is currently in print. I’ll admit that I’ve not read any of the many novels listed at ISFDB, so I’ve no idea how he is as a genre writer. Opinions, oh intelligent masses? (Died 2008.)
  • Born July 27, 1949 Maury Chaykin. Though best remembered as portraying Nero Wolfe staring with The Golden Spiders: A Nero Wolfe Mystery on A&E, a role that lasted twenty-seven episodes, he did have some appearances in genre work. He was in WarGames as Jim Sting, he showed up in The Twilight Zone’s “A Game of Pool” as James L. “Fats” Brown, the Millennium film as Richard Keane, on Andromeda in “Pieces of Eight” as Citizen Eight and so forth. (Died 2010.)
  • Born July 27, 1949 Robert Rankin, 73. Writer of what I’d call serious comic genre fiction. Best book by him? I’d single out The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse as the best work he ever did bar none. Hell even the name is absolutely frelling great. 
  • Born July 27, 1968 Farah Mendlesohn, 54. She’s an historian and prolific writer on genre literature, and an active fan. Best works by her? I really like her newest work on Heinlein, The Pleasant Profession of Robert A. Heinlein which won a BSFA and was a 2020 Hugo finalistHer Diana Wynne Jones: Children’s Literature and the Fantastic Tradition is also a fascinating read. And I highly recommend her Rhetorics of Fantasy as we don’t get many good theoretical looks at fantasy. Her only Hugo to date was at Interaction for The Cambridge Companion to Science Fiction though she won a lot of other Awards including BSFAs for the introduction to “Reading Science Fiction”, Rhetorics of Fantasy and The Pleasant Profession of Robert A. Heinlein. She’s also garnered a BFA for Children’s Fantasy Literature: An Introduction (shared with co-writer Michael Levy) which also got a Mythopoeic Scholarship Award for Myth and Fantasy, and she’s also won the Karl Edward Wagner Award as well.
  • Born July 27, 1969 Bryan Fuller, 53. Let’s see…There’s credits as either Executive Producer, Producer or Writer for Voyager and DS9American GodsMockingbird Lane, the  last being a reboot of The Munsters which lasted one episode and was, err, strange, Pushing Daisies, a Carrie reboot, Heroes and Dead Like Me. And animated adaptation of a quirky Mike Mignola graphic novel entitled The Amazing Screw-On Head. Go see it. It’s quite amazing.
  • Born July 27, 1970 Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, 52. Jaime Lannister in Game Of Thrones and Game of Thrones: Conquest & Rebellion: An Animated History of the Seven Kingdoms; as the lead in the short lived New Amsterdam series which is not based on the series by the same name by Elizabeth Bear; also genre roles in the Oblivion and My Name Is Modesty: A Modesty Blaise Adventure films.
  • Born July 27, 1977 Jonathan Rhys Meyers, 45. Dracula in the 2013 – 2014 Dracula series, other genre roles includes being in The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, the Gormenghast series and Killer Tongue, a film with poodles transformed into drag queens. Would I kind you about the latter? It’s genre. 

(11) HULK ALUM RETURNS. Peter David, known for his legendary and impactful run on Incredible Hulk, is proving his acclaimed work on the Hulk mythos is far from over.  Having just finished an epic trilogy of limited series that told the grand saga of Hulk villain Maestro, David will now turn his attention to another iconic creation of his—Joe Fixit! The fan-favorite Hulk persona that muscled his way through Las Vegas as a hedonistic bodyguard will star in his very own limited series set during David’s original time on the Incredible Hulk. Joining David in this Sin City adventure will be artist Yildiray Cinar (The Marvels).

 “When I created Joe Fixit decades ago, it was merely as a means to shake up the standard formula,” David explained. “Typically Bruce would have set up some sort of situation and he would be worried that the Hulk would inevitably show up and screw things up. The storyline with Joe flipped the formula on its head, and set up the Hulk with his great situation in Vegas and he was worried that Bruce would show up to screw things up. I had no idea that the character would have this much staying power, and that so much would eventually be done with him in the pages of the Immortal Hulk. I’m thrilled that Marvel has given me this opportunity to revisit with an old friend.”

(12) 2023 EASTERCON. Chair Caroline Mullan announced that Conversation, the 2023 Eastercon, will be at the Hilton Birmingham Metropole at the NEC, from April 7-10, 2023.

…Expect to see more information from us soon about booking hotel rooms, booking for the dealers’ room and fan tables, and the timing and details of our initial rise in membership rates.

This has been a difficult year for site negotiations. We are very grateful to Vanessa May and the Persistence committee for providing the continuity with this site that has given us this outcome….

(13) THESE ARE THE DAYS OF OUR UNDEAD LIVES. Rest of World purports to take you “Inside the global gig economy of werewolf erotica on platforms like Dreame, GoodNovel and Amazon Kindle Vella”.

…The central characters of many of Dreame’s most beloved werewolf novels often inhabit Americanized settings, but the authors don’t typically live in the U.S. Rather, they come from countries like Mexico, the Philippines, Nigeria, and China – and often write novels in their second or third language. One student in Bangladesh, who writes under the pen name Anamika, spends five hours a day, seven days per week writing romance novels. She ends each chapter with a cliffhanger to keep readers hooked. Each book earns her up to $300, along with adoring messages from Western fans. “They are very sweet,” she said. “Their comments are my encouragement.” 

The emerging web novel industry spans the globe, taking a business model from Asia, assembling a global supply chain of authors in lower-income countries, and paying them to churn out thousands of words a day for English-speaking readers in the West. Rest of World spoke to four current and former employees at these platforms, who described how the art of novel writing is broken down into a formula to be followed: take a popular theme like werewolves, sprinkle it with certain tropes like a forbidden romance, and write as many chapters as you can. Some novels have hundreds of chapters, most ending on a cliffhanger to keep readers engaged and eager to read on.

The platforms, some backed by Tencent or TikTok’s parent ByteDance, thrived during the pandemic amid a surge in demand for online content – jobs that can be done from home. Dreame, GoodNovel, Webnovel, and Fizzo consistently rank among the most-downloaded reading apps in the U.S., the U.K., the Philippines, and Indonesia, and together rake in millions of dollars in revenues every month. The model has proven so successful that, in 2021, Amazon launched Kindle Vella, featuring similar episodic titles and plotlines. Kindle Vella even mimics a key mechanic of the other platforms: readers earn coins by spending more time engaged in the apps, which they can then spend to unlock more chapters….

(14) REBRANDING MURDER HORNETS? Like you need little branding irons for branding ants? MSN.com reports “Invasive ‘murder hornet’ is getting a rebrand. Here’s why.”

… The Asian giant hornet, commonly known as the murder hornet, has a new name as its former moniker could stoke anti-Asian sentiment.  

The Entomological Society of America (ESA) chose to rebrand the invasive species as the northern giant hornet, with the ESA concluding the political climate contributed to the need to change the name…. 

(15) A BAD DAY FOR STURGEON. “Two of the Largest Freshwater Fish in the World Declared Extinct”. MSN.com has details.

The Yangtze sturgeon lived in its namesake river for 140 million years. Now it doesn’t. Nor does another behemoth it shared China’s longest waterway with for ages, the Chinese paddlefish. Updating its Red List of Threatened Species on Thursday for the first time in 13 years, the International Union for Conservation of Nature declared the two species, known as “the last giants of the Yangtze,” extinct.

Once the largest freshwater fish in the world, the Yangtze sturgeon, Acipenser dabryanus, could reach 26 feet in length and weigh 1,500 pounds. Its historic range extended throughout Asia, including Japan, Korea, and the Yellow River in China. Dubbed a “living fossil,” it sported a rounded snout, large pectoral fins, and rows of elevated ridges on its spine and flanks. Though there are still captive fish in breeding programs, authorities, despite many efforts, have failed to successfully reintroduce the fish to the river system, and now it considered extinct in the wild.

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Matthew Van Ness duplicates himself dozens of times as he sings “Hedwig’s Theme” from the Harry Potter movies: “I sing the ENTIRE orchestra in Hedwig’s Theme”.

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

Pixel Scroll 7/21/22 This Pixel Intentionally Left Indescrollable

(1) WICKED GOOD. [Item by Jennifer Hawthorne.] I was browsing this article in Slate and was pleasantly shocked to find Estraven from The Left Hand of Darkness on the list. There are other more mainstream SFFnal entries too. “The best death scenes in movies, TV, books, theater, songs, and more.”

…The death scene is one of the sharpest tools in a writer’s toolbox, as likely to wound the writer themself as the reader—for if a well-written death scene can be thrilling, terrifying, or filled with despair, so can a poorly written one be bathetic, stupid, and eye-rolling.

But let’s not talk about those. Let’s talk about the good ones, the deathless death scenes. We’ve assembled the 50 greatest fictional deaths of all time—the most moving, most funny, most shocking, most influential scenes from books, movies, TV, theater, video games, and more. Spoilers abound: It’s a list that spans nearly 2,500 years of human culture, from Athens to A24, and is so competitive that even poor Sydney Carton and his famous last words couldn’t make it…. 

(2) MOBY CLICK. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] In connection with the previous item, Slate also posted “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: Douglas Adams explains the whale scene”, a piece reprinted with the permission of his estate in which Douglas Adams reacts to the ways that some of his readers reacted to the death of the whale. And, one supposes, this Reprinted Reaction Reaction is now Canon. 

(3)  TIMING IS THE SECRET (NOT JUST OF COMEDY). Gizmodo reports the resolution of a story I first read on Petréa Mitchell’s SMOF News: “As Comic-Con Begins, Hotel Workers Went On Strike… And Won”.

Just as the Hilton Bayfront was set to open its doors to San Diego Comic Con attendees, special guests, and press, the workers at the hotel set up a picket line in front of the hotel. The strike only lasted a few hours, proving once again that collective action, worker solidarity, and excellent timing will often force management to come to the bargaining table willing to present reasonable offers.

The San Diego Union-Tribune reported that last Wednesday, despite the oncoming legion of nerds, geeks, and fans that are set to swarm the sold-out hotel, management had not come to an agreement with the Unite Here Local 30, which represents nearly 450 full-time employees and an additional 150 on-call workers. Today, however, they have presented an agreement that Brigette Browning, president of Unite Here Local 30, views positively, which ended the strike, for now….

(4) PICKET DUTY. Meanwhile, on the East Coast, “HarperCollins Workers Strike For Increased Wages, Benefits and Diversity”  reports the New York Times.

HarperCollins union members went on a one-day strike on Wednesday, with around 100 employees and additional supporters marching in front of the company’s corporate headquarters in Manhattan in the sticky heat for higher wages, better family leave benefits and a stronger commitment to diversity from the company.

Publishing has long offered meager wages to entry and midlevel employees, making it difficult to live in New York City, where the industry is based, without a second job or financial support from a spouse or family.

Many workers say that the low wages also make it hard for potential employees who don’t come from wealth to consider a career in publishing, which hampers efforts to diversify the mostly white industry.

“I love my job, I love my authors, it’s an incredible privilege to get to work on these books, and I would love to do it for the rest of my life, if I can afford to,” said Stephanie Guerdan, an associate editor in the children’s department who joined the strike.

But with a salary of $56,000 a year, she said, she worries she won’t be able to stay.

(5) HEAR THEM RING. A Marriott hosting San Diego Comic-Con visitors is wrapped with publicity for The Rings of Power.

Two tracks of music from the series have been made available to hear online.

(6) GAIMAN AS OPERA. The West Edge opera production of Coraline, based on Neil Gaiman’s book, will be performed at the Oakland Scottish Rite Center in Oakland, CA from July 30-August 7. Tickets here.

With great pleasure we present an opera that is for people of all ages who love gruesome things!

Coraline is a young girl whose life has been uprooted. As she wanders alone through her new creaky house, she tries to get the attention of her work-at-home parents to no avail. One day she discovers a mysterious door, through which she sets out on a terrifying adventure that tests the limits of human bravery.

(7) POWERS OF PERSUASION. While I’m already interested in Jane Austen, if I weren’t, Abigail Nussbaum’s “Four Comments on Netflix’s Persuasion at Asking the Wrong Questions would still rivet my interest. Following the four comments referenced in the title, she sums up:

…The correct attitude when approaching a field this vibrant and busy isn’t condescension, but humility. When even the specific sub-type of Austen adaptation you’re attempting—irreverent and modernized—includes films like Clueless, you don’t have the option of half-assing your work, or failing to think through your choices and how they affect the characters and plot. You have to be able to justify what you’re doing both as a reflection of what Austen wrote, and as a work in its own right. Persuasion does not even seem to have realized that it needed to do this…. 

(8) THAT EXPRESSION IS A SMILE. You might not expect to find James Davis Nicoll recommending “Five Feel-Good Comfort Reads”, but never underestimate his versatility.

Unlike the news, fiction is not limited to a seemingly unending cavalcade of disaster, calamity, and egregiously poor choices, a cavalcade as comforting as glancing up a mountainside to see an avalanche swiftly bearing down on one.  So, if doomscrolling is getting you down, consider stepping away from the newsfeeds to enjoy a comfort read or two…

First on the list, a work with previously unsuspected sff credentials:

Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons (1932)

Orphaned at nineteen, Flora Post embodies “every art and grace save that of earning her own living.” Without any other means at hand, she goes to live with distant relatives: the Starkadders, whose homestead, Cold Comfort Farm, is in the depths of rustic Sussex.

Flora intends to earn her living. The rural melodramas of such luminaries as Mary Webb (Gone to Earth) assure Flora that her unfortunate rural relatives must languish under a myriad of troubles that their simple rustic minds are incapable of solving. Indeed, each Starkadder struggles with issues so profound as to seem parodic. Flora, on the other hand, is a very modern, very organized girl. What seem like insurmountable challenges for her kinfolk are to her simple challenges easily solved.

Readers who know Cold Comfort Farm only from the otherwise exemplary 1995 film adaptation—”There’ll be no butter in hell!”—may be surprised to learn that Cold Comfort Farm was a science fiction novel of sorts. The 1932 text references the Anglo-Nicaraguan wars of ’46, establishing that the book takes place in what is now an alternate history.

(9) TONOPAH ON HIS MIND. Alan White’s personal Westercon 74 Memory Book is filled with entertaining snark and Alan’s marvelous art. It can be downloaded from eFanzines.com. Here’s a paragraph about staying at the Mizpah Hotel in Tonopah.

…The wind came up howling through the window with such force, we thought someone was testing a jet-engine in the alley. The window we could neither open nor close and not until closer inspection see the latch was off-kilter less than a hair’s breadth and with some force, clicked into place (phew). Not long after, there were other noises of speculation every time our neighbor visited the bathroom. There were noises not unlike the Titanic signaling for help whenever the faucets turned on and whenever they drew a bath, I swear there was the sound as if the Lady in Red was blowing a Vuvuzela from the drain in our bathtub. I won’t belabor you dear reader with the trifling sound coming from the air duct…

(10) MEMORY LANE.  

1986 [By Cat Eldridge.] So let’s talk about the five volumes of The Hugo Winners that Isaac Asimov edited, published in various editions between 1962 and 1986. The basic facts are that Asimov selected stories that won a Hugo Award for Short Story, Novelette or Novella at the Worldcons held between 1955 and 1982. That was fine.

However, the powers that be at Doubleday decided that Asimov was free to express his opinions. And oh, did he do so! To put it bluntly, this was quite unusual as the text ordinarily found in these anthologies is, errr, bland to a degree that should surprise no one. Just the facts, ma’am.

Not Asimov, who wrote a short introduction about each author in each anthology. And my. He named writers that he didn’t like, those he was quite jealous of. And he went at length about those writers who won awards ahead of him and how angry that made him as he should have won those awards instead. Of course, he always believed that he should’ve won every award. Poor Isaac.

He discussed his political beliefs as he supported the ending of the Vietnam War. Basically, he used the anthologies to express his annoyance with the universe.  Ok Asimov was never shy about expressing his opinions. I’m just surprised that Doubleday gave him carte blanche authority to write what he wanted.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 21, 1911 Marshall McLuhan. He coined the expressions the medium is the message and global village, and predicted the World Wide Web almost thirty years before it was invented. I read The Medium Is the Massage: An Inventory of Effects a long time ago. Somehow it seemed terribly quaint. (Died 1980.)
  • Born July 21, 1921 James Cooke Brown. He’s the creator of Loglan. Oh, and he did write SF. The Troika Incident written in 1970 features a global data net. That, and two short pieces of fiction, are the sum total of his of genre writings. The Troika Incident is available from Kindle but not from iBooks.  (Died 2000.)
  • Born July 21, 1929 John Woodvine, 93. First role in our realm is as Macbeth at Mermaid Theatre back in the early Sixties. Shortly thereafter, he’s Badger in Toad of Toad Hall at the Comedy Theatre before being The Marshal in the Fourth Doctor story, “The Armageddon Factor”.  He’s in An American Werewolf in London as Dr. J. S. Hirsch, and he had a recurring role in The Tripods as Master West. He did show up on The Avengers several times, each time as a different character, and he was Singri Rhamin for the episodes of Danger Man
  • July 21, 1933 John Gardner. Novelist, critic, teacher, medievalist, among other things. His student Jeffrey Ford described Gardner’s knowledge of literature as ‘encyclopedic,’ with no regard whatever for genre boundaries. He considered Stanislaw Lem the greatest living writer, disliked Tolkien’s poetry (an assessment I agree with) but thought The Lord of the Rings ‘one of the truly great works of the human spirit’. Most of his best works are fantasy: most famously Grendel, but also Freddy’s Book, Mickelson’s Ghosts, the short story collection The King’s Indian, and his posthumously-published short story, “Julius Caesar and the Werewolf”. His book The Art of Fiction is well worth reading for anyone interested in fiction, as a writer or a reader. (Died 1982.) (PhilRM)
  • Born July 21, 1948 G. B. Trudeau, 74. Ok we decided when I first put this Birthday up that there’s enough content to be genre, but he did an amazing series on the Apple Newton when it came out. A Doonesbury Retrospective series is up to three volumes and is available from the usual suspects at very reasonable prices. 
  • Born July 21, 1951 Robin Williams. Suicides depress me. I remember a bootleg tape of a performance of him and George Carlin in their cocaine fueled days. No, not even genre adjacent but damn brilliant. Such manic energy. Genre wise, he was brilliant in most everything he did, be it Mork & Mindy, Hook which I adore, The Fisher KingBicentennial Man or Jumanji. (Died 2014.)
  • Born July 21, 1960 Lance Guest, 62. He’s an American film and television actor, best known for his lead role in The Last Starfighter. He also shows up in Jaws: The Revenge as Michael Brody, as Jimmy in Halloween II, as Kyle Lane in “Fearful Symmetry” episode of The X-Files and as The Burning Zone in “The Critical Mass” episode of The Burning Zone
  • Born July 21, 1976 Jaime Murray, 46. If you watch genre television, you’ve most likely seen her as she’s been Helena G. Wells in Warehouse 13, Stahma Tarr in Defiance, Fiona/the Black Fairy In Once Upon a Time, Antoinette in The Originals, and Nyssa al Ghul in Gotham. She voices Camilla in Castlevania. Filmwise, she was Livinia in The Devil’s Playground and Gerri Dandridge in Fright Night 2: New Blood

(12) BLACK ASL. Black Nerd Problems tells how “’The Champion’s Hike’ Brings African American Sign Language to ‘Craig of the Creek’”.

…“The Champion’s Hike” episode centers around Craig trying to fit in among his former enemies turned friends and Maya being the one to let him know that it’s okay to just be himself. The other portion of this story is how we get to see African American Sign language on screen via Jackie who is deaf. We see Jackie’s father communicating with him prior to the group leaving. We also see Keun-Sup signing communicating to Jackie with ASL as well. Not only do we get to see African American Sign Language, but this episode gives us sign language conversation between two characters of color. We also see Craig learning more ASL and remembering what he’s learned prior from Keun in order to interact with Jackie. Craig of the Creek really be out here thinking of everything man.

There is an artist touch used here as well where we know what is being said of the conversation only by how Keun reacts verbally to what Jackie is saying. We viewers who aren’t versed in ASL won’t understand what’s being said (like the conversation between Jackie and his father) However, that’s fine because it’s not for us….

The episode also attracted the attention of the Los Angeles Times: “How ‘Craig of the Creek’ got Black American Sign Language right”.

…It’s a moment that the episode’s consultants, from Southern California Black Deaf Advocates, point to as a highlight of their experience on the series.

“I teach parents [who have deaf children] how to sign, so the fact that a Black father was signing to his son, that exposure and that emphasis was so amazing,” said Deaf mentor Bibi Ashley through a sign language interpreter during a recent video call. “Just seeing that interaction, that was my favorite part.”…

(13) TALKING HEADS. Let SYFY Wire usher you through “Funko’s tour of Funkoville at SDCC 2022”.

With San Diego International Comic-Con returning this week at full capacity for the first time since July 2019, plenty of companies are finding space around the Gaslamp or on the show floor to welcome back fans and communities in a big way.

One of them is Funko, the collectible company which has long catered to corralling their hyper-engaged audience with live events at cons and at their HQ stores in Everett, Washington and Hollywood, California. After having to go virtual with their FunKon event in 2021, SDCC 2022 finds Funko incorporating the lessons learned during the pandemic and applying them to their massive new show floor booth space which they’ve dubbed Funkoville. 

(14) THEME PARK PUNCHOUT. “Disney World Brawl: Fantasyland Becomes Nightmare As Melee Breaks Out”Deadline has the story.

Close on the heels of a massive brawl that forced Knott’s Berry Farm in Southern California to close early on Saturday, video has surfaced of another large melee at Walt Disney World in Florida on Wednesday.

Video posted online shows at least 6 people simultaneously engaged in physical combat, as dozens of others hover at the edges, some trying to break it up and others at times joining the fray. One large group of about a half-dozen people are dressed in coordinated red shorts and white t-shirts with mouse ears on the front. They seem to be fighting with another equally large group, at least one of whom is heard using a racial slur.

The melee took place behind Cinderella’s Castle just in front of Peter Pan’s Flight in Fantasyland, according to a local Fox affiliate. The sheriff also confirmed to the outlet that one man was hospitalized after the incident and three people were arrested for misdemeanor battery.

This is at least the third sizable fistfight at the Magic Kingdom in as many months, according to reports.

Video of the incident and further updates are posted at WDW News Today: “UPDATE: Guest Involved in Magic Kingdom Brawl Reveals Story & More Footage”.

(15) FANCY DUDS. Just what hangs in the TARDIS closet anyway? “Doctor Who costumes ranked from William Hartnell to Jodie Whittaker” at Radio Times.

The Seventh Doctor once claimed to have “an impeccable sense of haute couture”. Which was a pretty bold statement for a man wearing so many questions marks that even The Riddler probably thought it was “a bit on-the-nose”.

It’s far from the only statement look the Time Lord has sported over the years, of course. And now, if tabloid reports are to be believed – and they’re usually not, but go with me here – it seems Ncuti Gatwa’s Doctor is set to gallivant around the cosmos in a fetching pair of space wellies. So what more perfect time to bring you the Definitive Guide to Wellies in Doctor Who?

Just kidding (although the Cybermen did rock some delightful silver moon boots, back in the day): we’re actually here to talk about the Doctor’s duds down the years. And from Hartnell’s hat to Gatwa’s gumboots, it’s quite the catwalk parade…

(16) WHO HYPE. The Radio Times also reveals: “Doctor Who ‘gets behind-the-scenes spin-off series on BBC Three’”.

Returning Doctor Who showrunner Russell T Davies has commissioned a special behind-the-scenes series ahead of the next season with new Doctor Ncuti Gatwa, according to reports.

The BBC Three Doctor Who spin-off series will be titled Doctor Who: Unleashed and give fans a sneak-peek at the filming process, beginning with the 60th anniversary special next year and the surprise return of David Tennant and Catherine Tate, according to The Mirror.

The series will apparently be similar in format to Doctor Who Confidential, the behind-the-scenes sister show that ran from 2005 to 2012. It will reportedly continue to air alongside the next full season.

(17) DOPEST NIGHT SKY. Sometimes it isn’t aliens… “Strange Pink Glow in Sky Turns Out to Be Caused by Monster Weed Farm” says the Daily Beast.

Turns out that residents in the Australian city of Mildura didn’t need to panic when a mysterious pink glow appeared in the sky on Wednesday night—the feared alien invasion was really just light coming from a huge medical cannabis farm where staff forgot to close the blinds. The sinister hue of the celestial phenomenon was attributed to special lamps used in weed cultivation….

(18) CSI SKILL TREE. The Center for Science and Imagination’s Skill Tree event on sound and worldbuilding can now be viewed on YouTube here, and all ten CSI Skill Tree episodes are available from this playlist.

In this episode of CSI Skill Tree, we discuss how sound design and music in games contributes to worldbuilding, storytelling, and immersion. We look closely at Inside, a moody adventure game with environmental puzzles and grim, industrial aesthetics, and the iconic Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (1992), and consider how the possibilities for sound and music in games have changed over time. Our special guests are science fiction and fantasy author Tochi Onyebuchi (Goliath, Riot Baby) and composer and sound designer Amos Roddy, who has worked on a number of video games, including the recent cyberpunk hit Citizen Sleeper.

(19) MAD, YOU KNOW. Silvia Moreno-Garcia promotes The Daughter of Doctor Moreau on CrimeReads. “Bad Seeds and Mad Scientists: On the Build-A-Humans of 19th-Century Literature”.

…We owe the concept of criminal brains to Cesare Lombroso, an Italian physician who promulgated the idea that criminality was inherited, and that criminals could be identified by physical defects, which indicated savage or atavistic traits. Sloping foreheads or left-handedness were some of the physical signs of primitive qualities inherent in criminal brains. Lombroso’s theories on criminality would be incorporated into eugenic discourse, and the idea of the criminal brain as a source for the creature’s violent actions would be reused in many more adaptations to come….

(20) NOT JUST ANY REC ROOM. As Gizmodo phrases it, “Owen Wilson Is Iron Man With Kids in the Superhero Comedy Secret Headquarters”. Secret Headquarters streams beginning August 12 on Paramount+.

While hanging out after school, Charlie and his friends discover the headquarters of the world’s most powerful superhero hidden beneath his home. When villains attack, they must team up to defend the headquarters and save the world.

(21) LEAP YEAR. In the lead-up to SDCC, the showrunners of the new Quantum Leap sequel series have released some information about the show, which begins airing in September. Entertainment Weekly has the story: “Quantum Leap bosses preview thrilling new chapter”.

…Described as a spiritual scientist, quantum physicist Dr. Song has a specific approach to time travel. “He is compelled over and over again to make the right decision, even if his own life is at stake, so he is a much better person than I am in real life. He’s something to strive for,” Lee says. Dr. Song immigrated from Korea with his mother, which will be integral to the story Quantum Leap is telling. “We’re telling an immigrant story at its core, and it is how Ben is experiencing life moving forward,” Lilien explains.

Dr. Song’s partner will be decorated Army veteran Addison (Caitlin Bassett), who assists in the form of a hologram that only Ben can see and hear. While the pair’s dynamic has the banter of Sam Beckett (Scott Bakula) and Admiral Albert Calavicci (Dean Stockwell), the new iteration will be different. “Their relationship runs deeper than just being a hologram. They have a close relationship,” Lilien teases….

(22) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] RE the upcoming Quantum Leap series sequel, several years ago Colbert had Scott Bakula on The Late Show and they tried a reboot of their own.  Maybe the new series can take a page from them.

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

Pixel Scroll 5/13/22 Make Room Party, Make Room Party

(1) COME THE MILLENNIUM. This year marks 60 years of the iconic Spider-Man. Marvel Comics will celebrate this milestone anniversary with a special issue honoring the comic that started it all, Amazing Fantasy. Arriving in August, Amazing Fantasy #1000 will be a giant-sized one-shot brought together by some of the industry’s most acclaimed creators.

Here’s just some of what fans can expect from this landmark issue:

  • Visionary writer Neil Gaiman’s grand return to the Marvel Universe
  • Emmy Award winning creator behind “Veep” and “Avenue 5” Armando Ianucci’s Marvel Comics debut
  • Spider-Man mastermind Dan Slott and superstar artist Jim Cheung team up to explore the enduring love between Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson in a story set in the far future
  • Acclaimed artist Michael Cho and novelist Anthony Falcone introduce a new Spider-Man villain
  • Ho Che Anderson crafts a horror-fueled Spidey adventure that cuts to Peter Parker’s core
  • Plus stories by Rainbow Rowell, Jonathan Hickman, and many more!

 “It’s Spider-Man’s 60th and we wanted to celebrate in style by inviting some of the greatest creative minds in the world to celebrate it!” Editor Nick Lowe said.

Join the industry’s top talent in celebrating Spider-Man’s birthday when Amazing Fantasy #1000 arrives in August. 

(2) THE SKY IS FALLING. Chillercon, the Horror Writers Association’s UK event, announced a change of venue after the ballroom ceiling collapsed in their planned facility. The con will still take place in Scarborough from May 26-29.

The convention received news this week that there has been a ceiling collapse in the Cabaret Ballroom of the Grand Hotel, one of our main programming rooms in that hotel, and asbestos has been discovered. The room has been closed off and the hotel declared safe to run by the relevant authorities, but for the last forty-eight hours the convention committee has been working with both hotels towards the best solution for both the ability of ChillerCon UK to run effectively and for the safety of our attendees, as obviously we are keen to ensure there’s no risk to anyone attending.

To that end, we are pleased to confirm that all programming and accommodation has now been moved to the Royal Hotel with immediate effect….

(3) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites listeners to join John Appel for a dry-aged burger in Episode 171 of the Eating the Fantastic podcast.

John Appel

John’s debut novel Assassin’s Orbit, published last year, was a finalist for the 2022 Compton Crook Award. He’s a former US Army paratrooper, a long-time information security professional, a historical fencer, and a life-long gamer who’s written the occasional tabletop RPG adventure. He co-edited the anthology Skies of Wonder, Skies of Danger along with Mary Alexandra Agner. John’s also a graduate of the Viable Paradise workshop and a founding member of the Maryland Space Opera Collective writing group.

We met for lunch at the White Oak Tavern, which is in the Enchanted Forest Shopping Center in Ellicott City, Maryland, and if there was ever a proper place to record an episode of Eating the Fantastic, an Enchanted Forest certainly sounds like it.

We discussed how pitching his debut novel as “Battlestar Galactica meets Golden Girls” got him an agent, why his background in table-top RPGs might be the reason he writes novels rather than short stories, how he deals with the “candy bar” scenes of his plots, the way critique groups and sensitivity readers can help make books better, how to juggle multiple viewpoints and still have them all be equally compelling, the political aspects of his novel which make it a different read than it would have been when it was first begun, his particular set of skills which helped bring fight scenes alive, and much more.

(4) BARRIERS REMAIN. Nalo Hopkinson is profiled by Silvia Moreno-Garcia for the University of British Columbia publication Beyond: “As publishing becomes more varied and diverse, challenges remain for writers of colour”.

…Hopkinson believes universities can help enrich the literary landscape by embracing genre fiction, looking at alternatives that deviate from traditional forms of learning and helping students develop a sense of belonging. For example, the traditional workshop model, where students sit around a circle discussing their stories, may be of little value to a student if they are the only writer of colour in a class.

“I encounter a lot of emerging writers who come from a marginalized community who feel that they won’t be welcomed,” she explains.

Hopkinson believes something that helped her become a writer was “middle class entitlement.” She grew up in a place where Black people were in the majority, where her father was a teacher and her mother a librarian and literature seemed an obtainable pursuit.

“There’s a certain type of entitlement because of that. Not wealth, but entitlement,” she says. “That sense of I have a right to be here.”

The hardest lesson for Hopkinson to teach is this self-empowerment….

(5) THE MEMORY LIBRARIAN. “Janelle Monáe: ‘Erasure is happening right under our noses’” the singer and author tells Christiane Amanpour at CNN Style.

…As Monáe wrote on Instagram in December, they have always used sci-fi and Afro-Futurism as “vehicles” for translating ideas into music, art and now literature. But the singer told Amanpour that they believe memory and history are under threat in today’s America.

“I think that there is definitely an agenda for erasure,” Monáe said, pointing to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signing the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which bans LGBTQ+ topics in elementary school classrooms, and Texas Governor Greg Abbott signing legislation that restricts how race and US history is taught in the state’s schools.

“These are real experiences for our ancestors, real experiences for us,” Monáe said. “And erasure is happening right underneath our noses. And it’s being done through lawmaking.”…

(6) VIDEO GAMES. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times behind a paywall, Tom Faber discusses TV adaptations of games.

What film directors seem to miss while adapting games for cinema is that games do not resolve around stories we are told but worlds we inhabit. They need to ask what it means for this story to be watched rather than played, and how it might have to change accordingly. In that respect, TV may prove a more natural fit. The length of a series creates space for the spreading storytelling style of games and their myriad characters. This breathing room should also allow showrunners to capitalise on the abundant lore and environmental detail of modern games, which assist in the trendy pursuit of ‘world building.’

Two TV shows that offer hope for the future are both animations. Castlevania, a vampire story based on a series of hit 1990s games, has become a surprise hit on Netflix since launching in 2017.  It is sharply written with mature themes and thoughtful plotting and paved the way for last year’s Arcane. Another Netflix show, Arcane digs into the origin stories of two heroes from the online battle arena game League Of Legends using striking animation that blends hand-painted textures with 3D graphics. Unlike other adaptations, Arcane forgoes fussy plot exposition in favor of character-driven drama and plays loosely with its source material, focusing on the complex relationship between two women and including action only where it meaningfully impacts the narrative.

(7) STURGEON SYMPOSIUM. The Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction is hosting the first annual Sturgeon Symposium on September 29-30 at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, KS. Here’s the call for papers. They are accepting proposals until June 30.

(8) TIME TRAVEL AND SEX. Nibedita Sen is interviewed by Sarah Gailey in “First Times” at Stone Soup.

First Times is structured unlike anything I’ve read before, using recursion in the narrative to expand and deepen the theme of the story. What inspired you to work in this particular structure? How did you approach storytelling in this medium?

A couple of things, actually – the most important of which is that this was my very first time (hah) writing interactive fiction. As such, I really wanted to keep the game as short and simple as possible, having been warned how easily the simplest-seeming idea can balloon once you actually get down to writing multiple branches of a narrative. Another piece of advice I was given, as a first time IF-writer, was to think about replayability – a game shouldn’t be a one-and-done (hah) kind of thing, but something a reader could go back to multiple times, discovering something new every time….

(9) FRED WARD (1942-2022). Actor Fred Ward has passed on at the age of 79. Detective Harry Philip Lovecraft in Cast a Deadly Spell, Earl Bassett in Tremors and sequels, and the lead in Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins. He was also in The Crow: Salvation, Invasion Earth (miniseries), had parts in episodes of The Incredible Hulk and The Hitchhiker. The New York Times tribute here comments:

…Mr. Ward was likely best known for his performances in “The Right Stuff,” the acclaimed 1983 adaptation of a book by Tom Wolfe, and “Tremors,” a monster movie that ascended to cult classic status since its release in 1990.

But his long career included a broad range of roles in which he applied a sometimes gruff but almost always grounded charisma to parts on film and TV: among other parts, a union activist in “Silkwood,” a detective in “Miami Blues,” Henry Miller in “Henry and June,” and a motorcycle racer in “Timerider: The Adventures of Lyle Swann.”…

(10) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1994 [By Cat Eldridge.] Twenty-eight years ago, The Crow premiered. I saw it at the theatre and yes, I liked it quite a bit. I’m not a horror fan but I found this quite impressive.  I hadn’t realized until now that it was co-written by John Shirley along with David J. Schow but I’ll get back to that in awhile. 

It was directed by Alex Proyas who would later be nominated for a Hugo at Aussiecon Three (1999) for Dark City. (The Truman Show won that year.) And he’d also later direct I, Robot.

The Crow was produced by Jeff Most, Edward R. Pressman and Grant Hill. Most would produce the sequels, The Crow: City of AngelsThe Crow: Salvation and The Crow: Wicked Prayer. Pressman was the uncredited executive producer for Conan the Destroyer and Grant Hill was involved in the Matrix films plus V for Vendetta.

Of course the movie starred Brandon Lee, an actor who gave the film a certain tragic edge by dying. The other major roles were held by Ernie Hudson and Michael Wincott. Ernie you know, but Michael Wincott has largely played villains in such films as Alien Resurrection and The Three Musketeers (remember I hold them to be genre). 

So yes, it was written by John Shirley along with David J. Schow. Checking IMDB, I see Shirley has written far too many screenplays too list all of them here, so I’ll just note his work on Deep Space NineBatman Beyond and Poltergeist: The Legacy. Though definitely not genre, he also wrote one episode of the Red Shoe Dairies. Really he did.

The Crow did well at the box office making nearly a hundred million against twenty-four million in costs. 

So what did the critics think? Michael Wilmington of the Chicago Tribune had this to say: “What’s scary about The Crow is the story and the style itself: American Gothic, Poe-haunted nightmare, translated to the age of cyberpunk science fiction, revenge movies and outlaw rock ‘n’ roll, all set in a hideously decaying, crime-ridden urban hell.” And Caryn James of the New York Times said: “It is a dark, lurid revenge fantasy and not the breakthrough, star-making movie some people have claimed. But it is a genre film of a high order, stylish and smooth.”

It holds a most exemplary ninety percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. 

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born May 13, 1922 Bea Arthur. Really only one meaningful genre credit but oh but what a credit it is. She’s in the Star Wars Holiday Special as Ackmena. That character in the Star Wars canon was the nightshift bartender in Chalmun’s Cantina in Mos Eisley on Tatooine who joined the resistance. (Died 2009.)
  • Born May 13, 1937 Roger Zelazny. Where do I start? The Amber Chronicles are a favorite, as is the Isle of The Dead, To Die in Italbar, and well, there’s very there’s very little by him that I can’t pick him and enjoy for a night’s reading. To my knowledge there’s only one thing he recorded reading and that’s a book he said was one of his favorite works, A Night in the Lonesome October. No, I’ve not forgotten about his Hugos. Roger Zelazny would win his first Hugo for …And Call Me Conrad which would later be called This Immortal.  It would be the first of six Hugos that he would win and one of two for Best Novel, the other being for Lord of Light. His other four Hugos would be for the “Home Is the Hangman” novella, the “Unicorn Variation“ novelette, “24 Views of Mt. Fuji, by Hokusai” novella and “Permafrost” novelette. (Died 1995.)
  • Born May 13, 1946 Marv Wolfman, 76. He worked for Marvel Comics on The Tomb of Dracula series for which he and artist Gene Colan created Blade, and the Crisis on Infinite Earths series in which he temporarily untangled DC’s complicated history with George Pérez. And he worked with Pérez on the direct-to-DVD movie adaptation of the popular “Judas Contract” storyline from their tenure on Teen Titans. (I’m not going to list his IMDB credits here. Hell, he even wrote a Reboot episode!) 
  • Born May 13, 1949 Zoë Wanamaker, 73. She’s been Elle in amazing Raggedy Rawney which was a far better fantasy than Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone where she was Madame Hooch. And she was Cassandra in two Ninth Doctor stories,” The End of the World” and “New Earth”. 
  • Born May 13, 1951 Gregory Frost, 71. His retelling of The Tain is marvellous. Pair it with Ciaran Carson and China Miéville’s takes on the same legend taking an existing legend and remaking it through modern fiction writing. Fitcher’s Brides, his Bluebeard and Fitcher’s Bird fairy tales, is a fantastic novel though quite horrific.
  • Born May 13, 1964 Stephen Colbert, 58. Ubernerd who’s currently recovering from his third bout of Covid. He’s hosted charity showings of Tolkien. Genre credits a cameo as a spy in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, the voice of Paul Peterson in Mr. Peabody & Sherman and the voice of President Hathaway in Monsters vs. Aliens

(12) THE SLEEPER SYMBIOTE CLAIMS A NEW HOST IN VENOM #11. This cover reveal is really only the first phase of Sleeper Agent’s look. They are symbiotes, after all. Pick up his debut issue when Venom #11 arrives in August.

Writers Al Ewing and Ram V and artist Bryan Hitch’s acclaimed run on Venom continues to reshape the symbiote mythos in each explosive issue! And luckily for Venom fans, the trio of superstar creators have no plans to slow down as the ongoing series enters its’ third terrifying arc this August in Venom #11. Kicking off a three-part story called “VENOMWORLD”, readers will see Eddie and Dylan Brock’s journey take a sharp turn as they deal with the shocking revelations of Venom #10. Dylan is still at the mercy of Bedlam while Eddie battles his way across the cosmos, discovering more about the symbiotes than ever before. And the hits keep coming as the Sleeper symbiote joins the fray with a deadly new look… 

(13) LIVE TWEETING. Cat Rambo did the Writers Corner Live show, talking about The Reinvented Heart with Mary Elizabeth Jackson. 

(14) BEWARE SPOILERS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Doctor Strange 2 writer Michael Waldron, in a spoiler-packed article, discusses his screenplay and the Star Wars film he is working on for Kevin Feige. BEWARE SPOILERS! “’Doctor Strange 2′ Writer on Wanda, Mr. Fantastic, ‘Star Wars’ Movie” in Variety.

SPOILER ALERT: This story discusses major plot points in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, currently playing in theaters. Do not read until you’ve seen the movie.

As an alum of “Community” and “Rick and Morty,” screenwriter Michael Waldron certainly knows outré, genre-hopping science fiction; with “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” Waldron found a kindred spirit in director Sam Raimi, who invented outré, genre-hopping horror with his “Evil Dead” trilogy.

Together, Raimi and Waldron have made one of the most distinctive — and, for some, controversial — movies ever in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. To wit (the big spoilers start here): Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) goes full Scarlet Witch and brutally murders anyone who gets in the way of her mission to find a universe in which her sons from the 2021 Disney+ series “WandaVision” are still alive. It’s a heel turn that has shocked many — including Olsen — especially when Wanda decimates the Illuminati, the team of superheroes from an alternate reality that includes Patrick Stewart’s Charles Xavier (from 20th Century Fox’s “X-Men” movies), Anson Mount’s Black Bolt (from ABC’s “Inhumans” TV series), and John Krasinski’s Reed Richards, the first time the leader of the Fantastic Four has appeared in the MCU….

(15) IT WILL BECOME ROUTINE. “Huntsville International Airport becomes first commercial airport allowed to land a space vehicle” reports WAFF.

The Huntsville International Airport was approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to allow commercial space vehicles to land at the airport….

Sierra Nevada Corporation’s Dream Chaser is a space utility vehicle that is designed to transport crew and cargo to destinations such as the International Space Station.

Sierra Space was awarded six missions by NASA to resupply the International Space Station. The FAA could grant the Dream Chaser the option to land in Huntsville in 2023.

“This is a significant milestone for Huntsville International and for our community in the pursuit of landing a commercial space vehicle right here in Rocket City U.S.A.,” Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Port of Huntsville/Huntsville International Airport, Mark McDaniel, said in a statement. “That’s going to be an exciting day, not just for the Airport but also for the talented and dedicated partners in this effort.”

(16) EATING OUTSIDE THE BOX. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Washington Post, Marylou Tousignant says that May 11 was National Eat What You Want Day and recommended ten foods kids could try, including Japanese tuna eyeballs, Vietnamese coconut worms, and Marmite. “On Eat What You Want Day, try something new”.

… It’s easy to think of foods you love and want to eat. We decided to tinker with the idea and tell you about 10 unusual dishes from around the world that you may never have heard of. We’re calling it International Give It a Try Day….

She alerted me to all the damage Paddington caused in this commercial when he switched from marmalade to Marmite sandwiches! “Paddington Bear Marmite TV Commercial “.

[Thanks to Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Dan’l, Paul Weimer, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]

Pixel Scroll 9/28/21 He Left The Galactic Library To Riverworld City But He Gave All The Scrolls To Her

(1) FUTURE TENSE. The September 2021 entry in the Future Tense Fiction series is “The Wait,” by Andrea Chapela, translated by Emma Törzs—a story about disappearances, ubiquitous surveillance, and stultifying bureaucracy.

… When the bell chimes for the next appointment, you raise your eyes from the book you weren’t really reading in the first place. 347. You’re next. You shut the book, a poetry collection you brought intentionally because it lets you open any page and read a few verses before losing the thread and looking back up at the screen…..

It was published along with a response essay by biomedicine and genetics researcher Vivette García-Deister. “Who Wins When the State Appropriates Self-Defense Technologies Developed by Communities?”

… This registry was created in 2018, and it includes disappearances from all the recent violence associated with the nation’s drug cartel wars. But it also includes cases that date back to the “dirty war” of the 1960s, when repressive governments ruthlessly targeted and eliminated revolutionary groups that had taken up arms against the state and anyone else whom they considered political threats, all under the auspices of U.S. anti-communist foreign policy.

Regrettably, therefore, the setting of Andrea Chapela’s “The Wait”—a short story about a woman waiting indefinitely in a governmental office (the “National Institute of Citizen Registration and Geolocation”) for news about Víctor, her missing brother—is painfully familiar to many people in Mexico. And indeed, much like in “The Wait,” women are mainly the ones who do the inquiring of authorities or actually do the searching, sometimes as members of highly organized search collectives….

(2) ROSARIUM ZOOM. Bill Campbell and Rachelle Cruz discuss The Day The Klan Came To Town in a Facebook livestream on Tuesday, October 5 at 7:00 p.m. Pacific.

Join us for a Zoom talk with Bill Campbell, author and publisher at Rosarium Publishing. His latest work, The Day the Klan Came to Town, is a graphic novel based on historical events: The Ku Klux Klan attack on the Jewish, Catholic, Black, and southern and eastern European immigrant communities of Carnegie, Pennsylvania, in 1923, and how they rose up to send the Klan packing.

In dialog with Campbell will be Rachelle Cruz,Professor of Creative Writing in the Genre Fiction concentration at Western Colorado University, and author of Experiencing Comics: An Introduction to Reading, Discussing and Creating Comics.

This event is sponsored by the Orange Coast College Multicultural Center.

(3) LEARNING FROM THE BEST. The Speculative Literature Foundation has put up an index to its Deep Dives video series.

We like to think of Deep Dives as Khan Academy, but for creative writing. …

Each module is based on a clip from our featured interviews with masters of the field and concerns a specific aspect of the writers’ craft (plot, character-building, establishing a setting, how to get published, copyrighting, and so on). Right now we’re focused on posting individual modules, but as we continue to build this project we plan to create syllabi, study guides, and assignments for specific course structures (such as eco-literature for a science classroom, or a seminar on feminist dystopian fiction)…. 

(4) OH, THE INHUMANITY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the September 21 Financial Times (behind a paywall). Isabella Kaminska, in a piece about whether homemade experimenters could genetically modify things at home for bad ends, interviewed Simon Wain-Hobson, a retired virologist who was the first to genetically sequence HIV.

Wain-Hobson “likens the scientific compulsion to tinker with fantasy novelist Terry Pratchett’s observation that ‘if you put a large switch in some cave somewhere with a sign on it saying “End of the world switch. Please do not touch,” the paint wouldn’t have time to dry.'”

(5) CLICKS FROM A DEAD MAN’S EYES. Alexandra Erin has a Twitter thread going about Asimov and the Foundation series’ lack of decent women characters.  Thread starts here.

In the thread there’s a link to a blog post by Justine Larbalestier that reprints some letters from a teenage Asimov on the subject of women in SF stories: “Letters”.

Dear Editor,

Three rousing cheers for Donald G. Turnbull of Toronto for his valiant attack on those favoring mush. When we want science-fiction, we don’t want swooning dames, and that goes double. You needn’t worry about Miss Evans, Donald, us he-men are for you and if she tries to slap you down, you’ve got an able (I hope) confederate and tried auxiliary right here in the person of yours truly. Come on, men, make yourself heard in favor of less love mixed with our science!

—Isaac Asimov, 174 Windsor Place, Brooklyn, N. Y.
Astounding Science Fiction September 1938 p. 161

Isaac Asimov was eighteen when this letter was published.

(6) GAMING COMPANY WILL SETTLE EEOC COMPLAINTS. “Activision Blizzard says it will pay $18 million to settle harassment claims”CNN has the story.

Activision Blizzard will pay $18 million to settle a lawsuit by a US government agency alleging harassment and discrimination, the firm said Monday.

The gaming company, which owns hugely popular titles such as “Call of Duty,” “World of Warcraft” and “Candy Crush,” announced it had reached a settlement agreement with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in response to a complaint the agency filed earlier in the day.

As part of the settlement agreement, which is subject to court approval, Activision Blizzard (ATVI) said it will create an $18 million fund “to compensate and make amends to eligible claimants.” Any remaining amount will either be donated to charities focused on harassment, gender equality and women in the video game industry, or will be used to create diversity and inclusion initiatives within the company, it added….

In a complaint filed earlier on Monday, the EEOC accused Activision Blizzard of subjecting female employees to sexual harassment, retaliating against them for complaining about harassment and paying female employees less than male employees. The company also “discriminated against employees due to their pregnancy,” the complaint alleged.

(7) DAY AFTER DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the September 22 Financial Times, behind a paywall, Tom Faber discusses video games based on Groundhog Day-style time loops.

These (time loop fames) follow in the footsteps of modern classic Outer Wilds, in which players explore a tiny galaxy which resets every 22 minutes when the sun explodes, the minimalist Minit, where you have just 60 seconds to adventure before the game restarts, and the compelling ancient Roman mystery The Forgotten City, in which a whole city is doomed to repeat a day as punishment for its sins.  That’s not to mention the macabre Loop Hero. murder mystery loop The Sexy Brutale, Hamlet-inspired riiff Elsinore, and even a VR game based on the Groundhog Day Ip called Like Father Like Son. There are more every year.  What keeps drawing writers to this particular trope? And why do we never get bored witnessing the same scenes over and over?…

…Gamers have always been at home in loops; traditionally, game environments reset every time they are entered, with enemies respawning and treasure chests restocked with gold.   Game designers speak of the ‘gameday loop,’ the central repeated action which keeps players engaged. Games are the perfect medium to unpack the pleasure in the patterns of a repeated timeframe.  The loop becomes a puzzle that can be solved, while its cyclical nature suggests experimentation–try anything you like, because you can always reset and start again.

(8) VISION QUEST. The wait is almost over. Vox reports “The Webb Space Telescope is 100x as powerful as the Hubble. It will change astronomy”. It will be launched into orbit on December 18.

…The Webb was originally supposed to launch in 2010 and cost around $1 billion. Its price tag has since ballooned to $10 billion, and it’s way overdue. But the wait will be worth it, at least according to the scientists who expect new and revealing glimpses of our universe.

“We’re going right up to the edge of the observable universe with Webb,” says Caitlin Casey, an assistant professor of astronomy at the University of Texas at Austin. “And yeah, we’re excited to see what’s there.”

The Webb will surpass the Hubble in several ways. It will allow astronomers to look not only farther out in space but also further back in time: It will search for the first stars and galaxies of the universe. It will allow scientists to make careful studies of numerous exoplanets — planets that orbit stars other than our sun — and even embark on a search for signs of life there….

(9) REFLECTION IN A GOLDEN VISOR. NASA’s Astronomy Picture Of The Day for September 27, “Five Decade Old Lunar Selfie” turns around a well-known photo taken during the first Moon landing. See the picture here.

Here is one of the most famous pictures from the Moon — but digitally reversed. Apollo 11 landed on the moon in 1969 and soon thereafter many pictures were taken, including an iconic picture of Buzz Aldrin taken by Neil Armstrong. The original image captured not only the magnificent desolation of an unfamiliar world, but Armstrong himself reflected in Aldrin’s curved visor. Enter modern digital technology. In the featured image, the spherical distortion from Aldrin’s helmet has been reversed. The result is the famous picture — but now featuring Armstrong himself from Aldrin’s perspective. Even so, since Armstrong took the picture, the image is effectively a five-decade old lunar selfie. The original visor reflection is shown on the left, while Earth hangs in the lunar sky on the upper right. A foil-wrapped leg of the Eagle lander is prominently visible. 

(10) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • 1996 – Twenty-five years ago on CBS, the Early Edition first aired on this evening. The premise was What If tomorrow’s newspaper arrived at your doorstep today? Our protagonist uses this knowledge to prevent terrible events every day.  It was created by Ian Abrams, Patrick Q. Page and Vik Rubenfeld. It was the first major series for all three of them.  It had a cast of Kyle Chandler, Shanésia Davis-Williams, Fisher Stevens, Kristy Swanson and Billie Worley. Set in Chicago, it was largely filmed there as well. It had a successful run of four seasons and ninety episodes. 

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 28, 1909 — Al Capp. Cartoonist responsible of course for the Li’l Abner strip. Is it genre? Of course. A decade ago, IDW announced Al Capp’s Li’l Abner: The Complete Dailies and Color Sundays as part of their ongoing The Library of American Comics series. The series would be a reprinting of the entire forty year history of Li’l Abner encompassing a projected twenty volumes. So far nine volumes have come out. (Died 1979.)
  • Born September 28, 1923 — William Windom. Commodore Matt Decker, commander of the doomed USS Constellation in “The Doomsday Machine” episode, one of the best Trek stories told. Norman Spinrad was the writer. Other genre appearances include being the President on Escape from the Planet of the Apes, The Major in “Five Characters in Search of an Exit” episode of Twilight Zone and Ben Victor in the “The Night of the Flying Pie Plate” story of The Wild Wild West. This is a sampling only! (Died 2012.)
  • Born September 28, 1935 — Ronald Lacey. He’s very best remembered as Gestapo agent Major Arnold Ernst Toht in Raiders of the Lost Ark. He’s actually in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade as Heinrich Himmler though it’s an uncredited role.  One of his first genre appearances was as the Strange Young Man in The Avengers episode “The Joker”.  In that same period, he was the village idiot in The Fearless Vampire Killers which actually premiered as The Fearless Vampire Killers, or Pardon Me, But Your Teeth Are in My NeckAnd he’s in The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension as President Widmark. This is but a thin wafer of his genre roles so do feel free to add your favorite. (Died 1991.)
  • Born September 28, 1938 — Ron Ellik. A well-known sf fan who was a co-editor with Terry Carr of the Hugo winning fanzine, Fanac,  in the late Fifties. Ellik was also the co-author of The Universes of E.E. Smith with Bill Evans which was largely a concordance of characters and the like. Fancyclopedia 3 notes that “He also had some fiction published professionally, and co-authored a Man from U.N.C.L.E. novelization.” (ISFDB says it was The Cross of Gold Affair.) Encyclopaedia of Science Fiction says he died in an auto accident the day before his wedding. (Died 1968.)
  • Born September 28, 1950 — John Sayles, 71. I really hadn’t considered him a major player in genre films but he is. He’s writer and director The Brother from Another Planet and The Secret of Roan Inish; andhe wrote the scripts of PiranhaAlligatorBattle Beyond the StarsThe HowlingE.T. the Extra-TerrestrialThe Clan of the Cave Bear and The Spiderwick Chronicles.
  • Born September 28, 1963 — Greg Weisman, 58. Writer who’s best remembered for Gargoyles, Spectacular Spider-Man and Young Justice. He also produced Gargoyles from early on. He also scripted some of Men in Black: The Series and Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles. He also wrote the children’s novel World of Warcraft: Traveler, followed by a sequel, World of Warcraft: Traveler – The Spiral Path. Children’s novels in the Warcraft universe? Hmmm… 
  • Born September 28, 1982 — Tendai Huchu, 39. Zimbabwean author who’s the editor along with Raman Mundair and Noel Chidwick of the 2020 issue Shores of Infinity zine. He’s also written a generous number of African centric stories of which “The Marriage Plot” won an African Speculative Fiction Society Nommo Award for African Speculative Fiction for Best Short Story. That issue of Shoreline of Infinity (Issue 18, Summer 2020) is available from the usual digital suspects. His newest novel, The Library of the Dead, is the first in Edinburgh Nights series.
  • Born September 28, 1986 — Laurie Penny, 35. They are the writer of one genre novella to date, Everything Belongs to the Future, published at Tor.com, and a generous number of genre short stories. They were a finalist for the Astounding Award for Best New Writer at Worldcon 75 won by Ada Palmer. “Vector at Nine Worlds: Laurie Penny”, an interview with them by Jo Walton is in Vector 288

(12) BEHIND THE MAGIC 8-BALL. Books by Lincoln Michel, S.B. Divya, and Tade Thompson are praised in this CrimeReads roundup by Molly Odintz: “They’ve Seen the Future And They Don’t Like It: The Year’s Best Scifi Noir (So Far)”.

The future is bleak, whether you’re at the bottom of an underwater sea-scraper, in a spaceship headed to a distant galaxy, or just searching for plastic in the polluted rivers of Scrappalachia. More tech leads to more debt, and AI is as likely to compete with humans as to help them. The denizens of the future are buried in the trash of today, and doomed by the politics of yesterday and tomorrow. And yet, as is the surprisingly hopeful message behind any dystopian novel, life continues. Life will always continue. And sometimes, life even finds a way to thrive….

(13) SPIKE THE CANON. The New York Times finds that “In ‘Star Wars: Visions,’ Lucasfilm and Anime Join Forces, and Go Rogue”.

What would happen if some of the most creative animation studios in Japan were let loose in a galaxy far, far away?

In the anime anthology series “Star Wars: Visions,” Jedi warriors battle enemies with faces like oni (a kind of Japanese demon), and straw-hatted droids inhabit feudal villages straight out of Akira Kurosawa’s classic samurai film “Yojimbo.” There are Sith villains and rabbit-girl hybrids, tea-sipping droids (OK, it’s really oil) and sake-sipping warriors. Lightsabers are lovingly squirreled away in traditional wrapping cloths called furoshiki and in red lacquer boxes.

And this being anime, there are over-the-top action sequences, stunning hand-painted backgrounds and computer-generated wonders. And of course, there’s plenty of “kawaii,” the distinctly Japanese form of cuteness….

(14) DISCH TRIBUTE. [Item by Ben Bird Person.] Artist Will Quinn did this piece based on the 1987 movie The Brave Little Toaster, an adaptation of Thomas M. Disch’s 1980 novel.

(15) SEE MOVIE RELICS. The Icons of Darkness exhibit, which represents itself to be the most extensive privately-owned collection of sci-fi, fantasy and horror film artifacts on earth, has now moved to its new home on the corner of Hollywood Blvd. and Highland in Hollywood.

From “Star Wars” to “Jurassic Park”, “Terminator” to “Harry Potter”, “Batman” to “Iron Man”, and so many more, the Icons of Darkness exhibition has something for everyone. You’ll see screen-used props, original costumes, life casts, production-made maquettes, makeup effects heads, and artifacts from some of Hollywood’s most famous sci-fi, fantasy, and horror classics. The exhibition will feature pieces from “Dracula”, “Frankenstein”, “The Wizard of Oz”, “Spider-Man”, “Edward Scissorhands”, “Silence of the Lambs”, “Lord of the Rings”, “Game of Thrones”, and more!

(16) GETTING CHIPPY. Gene Wolfe gets a one-line mention in “Julius Pringles gets a makeover to celebrate brands’ 30th birthday in the UK” at Bakery and Snacks. Which the site is programmed to stop me from excerpting. You bastards!

(17) A GRAND MACHINE. The New York Times is there when “Amazon announces Astro, a home robot that it swears is more than Alexa on wheels”.

“Customers don’t just want Alexa on wheels,” Dave Limp, the head of Amazon’s devices, said at a company event on Tuesday. Then he proceeded to introduce a technology-packed home robot that looked a lot like … Alexa on wheels.

At least four years in the making, the small robot, called Astro, has a large screen and cameras attached to a wheeled base that can navigate a home…

Of all the products it showed, Amazon was clearly most excited about Astro, which was shown as the finale. And from the start, the company tried to sort out the differences between Astro and Alexa, the company’s digital assistant. Amazon said Astro’s large eyes on the screen, and the different tones it emitted, helped give the machine a “unique persona.” (At a starting price of $1,000, Astro is also a lot more expensive than most Alexa-enabled devices.)

But the main uses Amazon presented seemed to mirror some of the abilities of its Alexa and related products, which already put voice and camera surveillance in different rooms of a house. It does move, though, and Mr. Limp said customers could send the robot to check on people and different pets — for example, raising a camera on a telescopic arm to see if the flame on a stove is still on….

(18) WILD PITCH. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In ‘James Bond;  Die Another Day” on Screen Rant, Ryan George says that the last Pierce Brosnan Bond film features Bond escaping from a hospital by willing his mind into cardiac arrest,, a villain who becomes British, gets knighted, and builds a giant empire in 14 months, and characters who practice ‘dNA remodeling by enlarging your bone marrow” which the producer thinks has enough science words for him.

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

Pixel Scroll 9/22/21 Or I Will Scroll Thee In The Gobberfiles With My Pixelcruncheon, See If I Don’t!

(1) WORKING FOR THE MAN EVERY NIGHT AND DAY. Yesterday’s Scroll picked up The Mary Sue’s report that “Marvel Fired Joe Bennett After Alleged Anti-Semitic Cartoons”. Today Bounding Into Comics reports Bennett is now working for Vox Day’s Arkhaven Comics: “After Being Blacklisted By Marvel Comics, Joe Bennett Joins Arkhaven Comics”. That obviously wasn’t a hard decision for Bennett.

…In a press release, Arkhaven Comics notes they “did not hesitate to take advantage of Bennett’s unexpected availability, and promptly signed the former DC and Marvel illustrator as its lead artist on two series being written by legendary comics writer Chuck Dixon.”

Not only was Bennett the artist for Immortal Hulk, but his resume also includes Savage Hawkman, Deathstroke, and Arrow Season 2.5 among others at DC Comics. 

…Dixon, who has also been subject to a Marvel Comics blacklist since 2002, welcomed Bennett to Arkhaven Comics stating, “It’s a sign of where the American comic industry is at the moment that they would let a powerhouse talent like Joe Bennett go because his personal politics are not in line with their own.”

“I’m looking forward to working with Joe on both of the projects we have in motion at Arkhaven,” he added….

(2) BARBARIAN AT THE GATES. Funcom has purchased the Cabinet Group, which currently holds the trademarks to Conan and most other Robert E. Howard characters. This mainly affects comics and videogames, since there apparently are no movies, TV shows or new books in the works, although they say a game is in development. “Funcom Acquires Full Control of Conan the Barbarian and Dozens of Other IPs”.

…Funcom CEO Rui Casais said he has high ambitions for the IPs and noted at least one unannounced project is already in development. 

“We are currently overseeing the development of an unannounced game which will combine many of the characters in the Robert E. Howard universe,” said Casais. “And if you combine Funcom’s knowledge of games with Heroic Signatures’ knowledge of the TV/entertainment, publishing, and licensing industries, it makes us perfectly placed to take this venture to the next level. It’s exciting times ahead for us and for fans of the IPs.”… 

(3) BES&ST, Lavie Tidhar and Silvia Moreno-Garcia offer an overview of the best sword and sorcery fiction past and present at the Washington Post“Let’s talk about the best sword and sorcery books”.

Lavie: I love the original “Witcher” stories by Andrzej Sapkowski, collected in English as “The Last Wish” in 2007 and translated by Danusia Stok. They were originally published in the Polish magazine Nowa Fantastyka. I got to read “The Last Wish” in proof before it even came out, but I don’t know that anyone then expected it would become as big as it did. For a time, it was nearly titled “The Hexer” but, hexer or witcher, Sapkowski’s Geralt of Rivia is a worthy successor to its earlier influences….

(4) HE CALLED IT. Goodman Games has a post on Fritz Leiber and Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser by James Maliszewski: “Fritz Leiber, H.P. Lovecraft, and the Origin of Sword-and-Sorcery Stories”.

In the May 1961 issue of the fantasy fanzine Amra, future stalwart of Appendix N, Michael Moorcock, wrote a letter to the editor in which he proposed the term “epic fantasy” for the literary genre pioneered by Robert E. Howard in his stories of Conan the Cimmerian. In the July issue of that same year, however, Fritz Leiber offered another term in reply, writing, “I feel more certain than ever that this field should be called the sword-and-sorcery story.” Leiber elaborates a bit on his coinage, adding that this term “accurately describes the points of culture-level and supernatural element,” as well as being useful in distinguishing these stories from other popular pulp genres….

(5) WHAT BELONGS IN THAT BOX? Also at Goodman Games, — now that we have a name for these stories, how do we define sword and sorcery? Brian Murphy discusses the problem in “Sifting Through a Sword-and-Sorcery Definition”.

…But, in the same essay Moorcock began refining these broad parameters, focusing on a subset of fantasy stories “which could hardly be classified as SF, and they are stories of high adventure, generally featuring a central hero very easy to identify oneself with …. tales told for the tale’s sake… rooted in legendry, classic romance, mythology, folklore, and dubious ancient works of “History.” These were quest stories, Moorcock added, in which the hero is thwarted by villains but against all odds does what the reader expects of him….

(6) RACISM IN S&S. This isn’t new, but Charles R. Saunders’ famous essay “Die, Black Dog, Die” about the latent and not so latent racism in sword and sorcery and fantasy in general from the 1970s is available again online here: “Revisiting ‘Die, Black Dog!’” at Reindeer Motel. (It’s posted as a single image file, so no excerpt here.)

(7) BACKSTAGE TO THE FUTURE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster, Designated Financial Times Reader.] In the Financial Times, Sarah Hemming reviews Back To The Future: The Musical, which recently opened in London.  Roger Bart, who played Frankenstein in Young Frankenstein, plays Doc.

“As in the film, restless teenager Marty McFly escapes his humdrum home life by hanging out with doc and ends up taking the wheel of the DeLorean for an early voyage.  But he gets more than he bargains for when that voyage lands him back in 1955 and in the hugely awkward position of meeting his teenage mum–who promptly develops a crush on him.  Gale’s script gleefully replicates the film (with a few wise excisions, such as the Libyan terrorists), while relishing the irony that from 2021, 1985 looks like old hat and that, for many in the audience, the whole show is an exercise in nostalgia–coupled with curiosity to see time travel on stage…

…A mix of pastiche and sincerity characterises the show.  The songs (Alan Silvestri and Glen Ballard) channel the periods–such as a peppy Fifties number in praise of gasoline and DDT–and there’s a nice streak of self-mockery.”

The website for the show is Back to the Future the Musical.

(8) SUPER-OVERRATED. James Davis Nicoll has decided there are “Five Superpowers That Just Aren’t As Fun as They Sound”.

Who among us has not dreamed of having superpowers? We are urged thereto by the avalanche of comics, movies, novels, and roleplaying games featuring abilities beyond mortal ken. Yet not all superpowers are created equal. Some superpowers require secondary superpowers to survive.  Other abilities have disquieting consequences for their possessors.

I’m not going to talk about superhumans with powers that would kill them or their friends if exercised. No one dreams of being any of the following:

  • X-Bomb Betty (can self-detonate, producing a 150 million megaton explosion (once))
  • Hazmat (lethal radioactive aura)
  • Absorbing Man (can duplicate the properties of materials he touches; see footnote)

I’m talking, here, about powers that appear on their surface to be useful but later reveal themselves to be harmful to, or at least extremely alienating for, those who wield them. Below are my musings about five such examples…

(9) NOW, THE NEWS. Also, James Davis Nicoll recommends this comedy sketch on Tik-Tok as an interpretation of “the Canadian election seen through the lens of the Matrix”.

(10) GIANT PEACH OF A DEAL. Netflix now owns the rights to Roald Dahl’s stories. Roundup at Adweek: “Netflix Acquires Roald Dahl Story Company, Plans Extensive Universe”.

The U.S. streaming giant announced Wednesday it has bought the Roald Dahl Story Company, which manages the rights to the British novelist’s characters and stories. It comes three years after Netflix signed a deal to create a slate of new animated productions based on the works of Dahl. (CNBC)

Under the previous deal, Taika Waititi is working on Roald Dahl animated series projects for Netflix, covering Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and its sequel, Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator. That’s in addition to two different versions of Matilda, including a film version of Matilda the Musical and an animated series, plus plans to make a BFG cartoon. (The Verge)

(11) 1001, A FACE ODYSSEY. “What About the Heroine’s Journey?” asks the New York Times in its review of Maria Tatar’s The Heroine With 1,001 Faces.

…[Joseph] Campbell’s ideas have rippled out in the culture for decades — especially after a popular series hosted by Bill Moyers in 1988 — but he has long demanded a feminist response. It would be hard to conjure up a more suitable person to provide one than Maria Tatar, the Harvard professor who is one of the world’s leading scholars on folklore.

Her new book, “The Heroine With 1,001 Faces,” out this month from Liveright, is an answer to Campbell, though she is careful not to frame it as an assault. “Even though my title suggests that I’m writing a counternarrative, or maybe an attack on him, I think of it as more of a sequel,” Tatar said in a video interview from her home in Cambridge, Mass.

She is stirring what J.R.R. Tolkien once called the “cauldron of story” in search of the girls and women, some silenced and some forgotten, some from the Iliad and some from Netflix, who live in Campbell’s blind spot. The reader jumps from Arachne’s battle with Athena to the escape of Bluebeard’s trickster wife to Pippi Longstocking and Nancy Drew and even to Carrie Bradshaw typing away on her laptop.

(12) LIGHTEN UP. Sarah Gailey is joined by Sophie Lee Mae and Jaxton Kimble to play with this new writing prompt in “Building Beyond: That’s Just Super” at Stone Soup:

Exposure to fluorescent lights gives people a 98% chance of developing a superpower under conditions of duress.

(13) J. RANDOLPH COX (1936-2021). Randy Cox died in a nursing home on September 14 reports Mysteryfile.com. Cox edited The Dime Novel Round-Up for over 20 year. He wrote several books including Man of Magic & Mystery: A Guide to the Work of Walter B. Gibson, about the man who created The Shadow; Flashgun Casey: Crime Photographer, co-authored with David S. Siegel, about the character originally created for Black Mask by George Harmon Coxe; Masters of Mystery and Detective Fiction: An Annotated Bibliography;  and The Dime Novel Companion: A Source Book. He received the Munsey Award at PulpFest in 2014.

(14) MEMORY LANE.

  • 1964 – Fifty-seven years ago on NBC, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. premiered. It was created by Sam Rolfe who was responsible for Have Gun, Will Travel and Norman Felton who directed All My Children, the first daytime soap which debuted in the Forties. It starred Robert Vaughn, David McCallum and Leo G. Carroll. It would last four seasons of one hundred and five episodes, most in color. Harlan Ellison scripted two episodes, “The Sort of Do-It-Yourself Dreadful Affair” and “The Pieces of Fate Affair.” A reunion film, Return of the Man from U.N.C.L.E. with the subtitle of The Fifteen Years Later Affair with Vaughn and McCallum reprising their roles with Patrick Macnee replacing Leo G. Carroll, who had died, as the head of U.N.C.L.E. There was a film reboot recently that was very well received. 

(15) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 22, 1917 — Samuel A. Peeples. Memory Alpha says that he’s the person that gave Roddenberry the catch phrase he used to sell Star Trek to the network: “[As] fellow writer Harlan Ellison has credited him with the creation of one of the most famous catch phrases in Star Trek lore, “[Gene Roddenberry] got ‘Wagon Train to the stars’ from Sam Peeples. That’s what Gene said to me. They were at dinner and Sam Peeples, of course, was a fount of ideas, and Gene said something or other about wanting to do a space show and Sam said, ‘Yeah? Why don’t you do Wagon Train to the stars?’” (Died 1997.)
  • Born September 22, 1952 — Paul Kincaid, 69. A British science fiction critic. He stepped down as chairman of the Arthur C. Clarke Award in April 2006 after twenty years. He is the co-editor with Andrew M. Butler of The Arthur C. Clarke Award: A Critical Anthology. He’s also written A Very British Genre: A Short History of British Fantasy and Science Fiction and What It Is We Do When We Read Science Fiction. His latest publication is The Unstable Realities of Christopher Priest.
  • Born September 22, 1954 — Shari Belafonte, 67. Daughter of Harry Belafonte, I first spotted her on Beyond Reality, a Canadian series that showed up when I was living in upstate Vermont. You most likely saw her as Elizabeth Trent in Babylon 5: Thirdspace as that’s her most well known genre performance. 
  • Born September 22, 1957 — Jerry Oltion, 64. His Nebula Award winning Abandon in Place novella is the beginning of the Cheap Hyperdrive sequence, a really fun Space Opera undertaking. Abandon in Place was nominated for a Hugo at LoneStarCon 2 (2013). The Astronaut from Wyoming was nominated for a Hugo at Chicon 2000. 
  • Born September 22, 1971 — Elizabeth Bear, 50. First, let’s all wish her a speedy recovery from her cancer surgery which was this week. Her first sff series was a superb trilogy, which might be considered cyberpunk, centered on a character named Jenny Casey. She’s a very prolific writer; I’m fond of her Promethean AgeNew Amsterdam and Karen Memory series. She won an Astounding Award for Best New Writer, a Hugo Award for Best Short Story for “Tideline”, and a Hugo for Best Novelette for “Shoggoths in Bloom”. One of only five writers to win multiple Hugo Awards for fiction after winning the Astounding Award! Very impressive indeed! It is worth noting that she was one of the regular panelists on now sadly defunct podcast SF Squeecast, which won the 2012 and 2013 Hugo Awards for “Best Fancast”. (CE)
  • Born September 22, 1981 — Maria Ashley Eckstein, 40. She’s voice of Ahsoka Tano on Star Wars: The Clone WarsStar Wars Rebels, and Star Wars Forces of Destiny. She even has a voice only cameo as Ashoka in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. And she voiced the character in the audiobook of E. K. Johnston’s Star Wars: Ahsoka.
  • Born September 22, 1982 — Billie Piper, 39. Best remembered as the companion of the Ninth and Tenth Doctors, she also played the dual roles Brona Croft and Lily Frankenstein in Penny Dreadful. She played Veronica Beatrice “Sally” Lockhart in the BBC adaptation of Philip Pullman’s The Ruby in the Smoke and The Shadow in The North.
  • Born September 22, 1985 — Tatiana Maslany, 36. Best known for her superb versatility in playing more than a dozen different clones in the Orphan Black which won a Hugo for Dramatic Presentation (Short Form) at the  73rd World Science Fiction Convention for its “By Means Which Have Never Yet Been Tried“ episode. She received a Best Actress Emmy and more than two dozen other nominations and awards. She’ll be playing Jennifer Walters / She-Hulk in the upcoming Marvel She-Hulk series.

(16) SHARP POINTY TEETH. Of course it’s a vampire movie. Was there ever any doubt? Night Teeth coming to Netflix on October 20.

(17) IT CANNOT BE DENIED. From a book review in today’s New York Times:

“(Turid is among those names, like Shakespeare’s Titus, for which it is crucial, when spelling, not to omit the second vowel.)”

(18) DANGEROUS HISTORY. A genre study titled Dangerous Visions and New Worlds: Radical Science Fiction, 1950 to 1985 edited by Andrew Nette and Iain McIntyre is available for pre-order from PM Press.

…It starts with progressive authors who rose to prominence in the conservative 1950s, challenging the so-called Golden Age of science fiction and its linear narratives of technological breakthroughs and space-conquering male heroes. The book then moves through the 1960s, when writers, including those in what has been termed the New Wave, shattered existing writing conventions and incorporated contemporary themes such as modern mass media culture, corporate control, growing state surveillance, the Vietnam War, and rising currents of counterculture, ecological awareness, feminism, sexual liberation, and Black Power. The 1970s, when the genre reflected the end of various dreams of the long Sixties and the faltering of the postwar boom, is also explored along with the first half of the 1980s, which gave rise to new subgenres, such as cyberpunk.

Dangerous Visions and New Worlds contains over twenty chapters written by contemporary authors and critics, and hundreds of full-color cover images, including thirteen thematically organised cover selections. New perspectives on key novels and authors, such as Octavia Butler, Ursula K. Le Guin, Philip K. Dick, Harlan Ellison, John Wyndham, Samuel Delany, J.G. Ballard, John Brunner, Judith Merril, Barry Malzberg, Joanna Russ, and many others are presented alongside excavations of topics, works, and writers who have been largely forgotten or undeservedly ignored.

Here’s a sample page that was posted to the book’s Kickstarter site:

(19) THE QUICK SAND AND THE DEAD. Juliette Kayyem remembers a hazard much on the minds of young TV viewers back in the day:

Her tweet inspired E. Gruberman to round up a zillion YouTube links to relevant scenes from old shows of TV heroes up to their hips in quicksand.

(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Transformers:  Age of Extinction Pitch Meeting” on Screen Rant, Ryan George says in the fourth Transformers movie, Sam Witwicky disappears without an explanation because Shia LeBouef didn’t want to be in Transformer movies anymore. The writer explains that the Transformers are powered by “transformium,” “which can change into any product placement we want.” but the third act will be “our usual visual mess” but will feature “guns, boobs, America, victory.”

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Cora Buhlert, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Jayn.]

Pixel Scroll 8/17/21 Podkayne On The Ritz

(1) GOFUNDME FOR MIXON AND GOULD. Stephanie Maez is asking people to signal boost the GoFundMe she has set up on behalf of Aunt Laura and Uncle Steve: “Help Aunt Laura Heal”. Laura J. Mixon, who has Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, a/k/a ME or ME/CFS or chronic fatigue syndrome, is a well-known sff author who also won the Best Fan Writer Hugo (2015). Steven Gould has created multiple sf series and is past president of SFWA. Maez explains:

Due to Aunt Laura’s worsening chronic illness, they’ve been struggling financially for the past several years. They want to sell their home, use the equity to pay off debts, and find a place where they can live affordably. I’ve created a GoFundMe that seeks $20,000: 

  • $3,400 to help pay off existing medical bills;
  • $2,600 to cover impending medical expenses; and,
  • $14,000 for home repairs and moving costs.

They will donate all additional funds above the needed amount to The Open Medicine Foundation, a non-profit that serves as an open-source clearinghouse and a source of funding for top researchers worldwide, who are working collaboratively toward a cure for ME/CFS.

Here’s more from Aunt Laura: 

Until 2013, my engineering work provided us a steady source of income while Steve built up his writing career and was our two kids’ primary caregiver. Unfortunately, by then a chronic illness that I’d had for decades but had never been properly diagnosed for until recently, ME/CFS, had worsened to the point that I was no longer well enough to work.

As a result of my gradually worsening condition, our family has been solely dependent on Steve’s income. We also have a daughter with multiple disabilities living with us, who still needs our support as she works toward independence. We managed to muddle along until about 2017 or 2018, thanks to Steve’s book sales and a couple of well-paying Hollywood deals. But my illness, the associated medical expenses, and two kids in college for much of that time meant the bills kept piling up. The coup de grâce came in 2020, when my health took a sudden nosedive due to pandemic-induced exertion and stress, and Quibi, the new media company developing Steve’s latest creative project, went out of business.

We have decided to sell our house and use the cash to pay off as much of our debt as possible. Because ours is an older home, it needs a lot of work in order to sell at a better-than-fixer-upper price, and we need to get a good price to make enough of a dent in our debt to live sustainably on our current income.

A final note. The past year and a half has brought hard times for many, and there are many important unmet needs out there. We’d be deeply grateful for any signal boost or help you can give, but we’ll totally understand if your own circumstances—financial, mental, or otherwise—don’t permit. We know all too well what it’s like to be tapped out and spent, no matter how much you care. As ever, we’re thinking of you love, and hopes that all is well in your world.

The appeal has raised $17,081 of its $20,000 goal.

(2) THE HOST WITH THE MOST. The Library of Congress announced today: “LeVar Burton to Host 2021 National Book Festival Broadcast on PBS”.

LeVar Burton, fresh from a hosting gig on “Jeopardy,” turns his attention to hosting a special edition of the Library’s 2021 National Book Festival, a one-hour special on PBS that is studded with some of the world’s brightest literary stars.

The show, “Open a Book, Open the World: The Library of Congress National Book Festival,” premieres Sunday, Sept. 12, at 6 p.m. ET (check local listings) on PBS, PBS.org and the PBS Video app. The show will feature 20 of the world’s most captivating authors and celebrities, ranging from actors Michael J. Fox and Lupita Nyong’o, to Nobel Prize-winning novelist Kazuo Ishiguro and Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Annette Gordon Reed….

Burton, a longtime champion of reading, will host from his public library in Los Angeles with Hayden appearing at the Library of Congress on Capitol Hill.

There are many authors featured in the special — these have genre connections:

  • Roxane Gay, essayist and novelist, on her co-authored book “The Sacrifice of Darkness.”
  • Kazuo Ishiguro, Nobel Prize-winning novelist, on his book “Klara and the Sun.”
  • Silvia Moreno-Garcia, novelist in several genres, including horror and noir, on her books “Mexican Gothic” and “Velvet Was the Night.”
  • Christopher Paolini, fantasy and science fiction writer, on his book “To Sleep in a Sea of Stars.”
  • Martha Wells, Hugo and Nebula award-winning writer, on her book “Fugitive Telemetry.”

(3) JEFF SMITH’S GIVEAWAY REPORT. Jeff Smith reports that a solid 2/3 of Filers who claimed lots from his Free Book Giveaway list followed up by sending their shipping addresses to him. Which means that a less solid 1/3…

He started shipping the boxes out today. Jeff says he foolishly set up this giveaway to happen just before his scheduled cataract surgery, so not all shipments will go out as swiftly as this first batch. But any delays should not be extensive, and he begs your indulgence.

(4) THIS IS NOT MY PRECIOUS. Mitchell Clark can think of lots of reasons why “The JRR Token cryptocurrency is almost certainly headed for Mt. Doom”, and lists them in his article for The Verge.

I hate to be the one to tell you this, but there’s a cryptocurrency themed after The Lord of the Rings. It’s dubbed the JRR Token, and its creators have called it “The One Token That Rules Them All.” Upon learning about it, my snap judgment was that it’ll be like The Hobbit’s trilogy of films (pointless and doomed to fail), but that may be unfair. Let’s take a look at the video its creators made to explain what makes it special…

Okay, wait. Before we even go into the crypto stuff, I’m wondering what the legal situation is with this video — the video includes images of rolling green countryside overlaid by very Lord of the Rings-esque text, while what sounds like a piano rendition of Howard Shore’s The Shire plays. Even if those don’t turn out to be infringement, they’re definitely banking on confusion with JRR Tolkien’s name. That doesn’t seem like the kind of thing the Tolkien Estate would let slide without a fight….

(5) EXTENDED NOIR. At CrimeReads, Silvia Moreno-Garcia discusses the classic noir novels that inspired her new novel, Velvet Was The Night: “Seven of the Best Noir Novels of the 1960s and 1970s”.

My latest novel, Velvet Was the Night, is a noir set in the Mexico City of the 1970s. This is a changing world, beset by political and social turmoil, and a space where different forces are violently clashing. To me, it seemed like the perfect decade for a noir, but when I told people what I was working on, they tended to be surprised I was writing a book set in 1971. Most of them associated the word ‘noir’ with the 1950s.

Noir has always had a close relationship with film and it is no wonder that when we think of noir, we tend to harken back to iconic images inspired by Golden Age Hollywood rather than more modern proposals. But noir did not vanish once people traded zoot suits for bell bottoms. Therefore, here is a list of cool, decadent noirs from the 60s and 70s….

(6) RODDENBERRY CENTENARY ZOOM. [Based on a press release.] NASA is helping the legacy of inspiration, hope, and diversity fostered by the creator of Star Trek to live long and prosper. The agency will observe the late Gene Roddenberry’s 100th birthday with a special program called, “Celebrating Gene Roddenberry: Star Trek’s Bridge and NASA” – a panel discussion airing on NASA Television, the agency’s website, the NASA App, and NASA social media on August 19 at 2:00 p.m. Eastern.

Rod Roddenberry, top left, George Takei, Tracy Drain, Jonny Kim, bottom left, Swati Mohan, and Hortense Diggs.

The program includes introductory remarks by NASA Administrator Bill Nelson followed by a panel discussion moderated by Rod Roddenberry, son of Gene Roddenberry. Special guest George Takei, Star Trek actor and activist, will participate in the question-and-answer session.

The NASA panelists includes:

  • Tracy Drain, Europa Clipper flight systems engineer
  • Hortense Diggs, director of the Office of Communications and Public Engagement at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida
  • Swati Mohan, lead for Mars 2020 Guidance, Navigation, and Controls Operations at Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California
  • Jonny Kim, NASA astronaut

Coinciding with the program, NASA will broadcast into space a 1976 recording of Gene Roddenberry’s remarks on diversity and inclusion through the agency’s Deep Space Network of radio antennas. NASA also is inviting people on social media to join celebrating Roddenberry’s 100th birthday on Thursday by posting a Vulcan salute selfie with the hashtag #Roddenberry100.

(7) HAMMER, SICKLE, AND RADIO TUBE. Natalija Majsova analyzes “Soviet Sci-fi Film and Different Modalities of Future Ecosystems” at Strelka Mag.

Soviet science fiction cinema has a very particular genealogy. Due to the temporal proximity of the emergence of the Soviet state project and of the cinematic medium—a means of surveillance and observation, of propaganda and education, of experiment and reiteration, in short, of monstration and narration of a new world-to-be—science fiction film cannot be considered as mere fantasy, symptom, or flight of fancy. Rather, film is simultaneously a dimension, a perspective, and a voice. The genre of science fiction, on the other hand, played a palette of different functions in Soviet history, from the normatively prognostic and mnemonic, to the revelatory and introspective….

…In literature, science fiction under Stalin is chiefly associated with the so-called “near-reach” formula, i.e. narratives that celebrate the graspable, realistic feats of contemporary science. An important undercurrent of such science fiction, or rather “scientific fantasy” (nauchnaia fantastika), that was characteristic of Soviet science fiction films until the late 1960s remains its clear political statement: Soviet authority is associated with scientific progress and righteous goals, whereas scientific progress outside of the Soviet state is linked to heartless imperialism and colonialism….

(8) OUT OF MANY, ONE. “Hachette to Buy Workman for $240 Million as Publishing Continues Consolidation” reports the New York Times. Workman published Tomorrow and Beyond: Masterpieces of Science Fiction Art edited by Ian Summers, The Grand Tour: A Traveler’s Guide to the Solar System by Ron Miller and William K. Hartmann, Barlowe’s Guide to Extraterrestrials, by Wayne Barlowe and Beth Meacham, DiFate’s Science Fiction Hardware, by Vincent DiFate, and other genre titles over the years, notes Andrew Porter.

Hachette Book Group said on Monday that it had agreed to buy Workman Publishing, an independent company known for titles like “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” and the “Brain Quest” workbooks, the latest expected acquisition in an industry whose power is increasingly concentrated in a handful of major companies. The cost of the deal was $240 million.

Workman is one of the largest independent publishers in the United States and is appealing to its new parent for, among other reasons, its lucrative backlist. Backlists include books published years ago that continue to sell — as opposed to the front list of new titles — and at Workman, they are a major focus and a steady stream of reliable income. Michael Pietsch, the chief executive of the Hachette Book Group, said that three-quarters of Workman’s revenue comes from those older titles.

(9) MEMORY LANE.

  • 1960 – On this day in 1960, The Time Machine premiered. The work of legendary director George Pal, it was based on the H.G. Wells novella of the same name. Pal also handled the production. The screenplay was by David Duncan. It would lose out at Seacon to the Twilight Zone series for Best Dramatic Presentation. Cast was Rod Taylor, Alan Young, Yvette Mimieux, Sebastian Cabot and Whit Bissell. Some critics liked it, some didn’t, and most thought the love interest angle sucked. It did very, very well at the box office making two point six million dollars and costing only a little over eight hundred thousand to make. Despite this, the Studio claimed it barely broke clearing only three hundred thousand. Never trust Studio accountants!  Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it an excellent seventy-nine percent rating. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 17, 1917 Oliver Crawford. Screenwriter who overcame the Hollywood blacklist during the McCarthy Era of the 1950s. He wrote three scripts for Trek, “The Cloud Minders,” “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield,” and “The Galileo Seven”. He also wrote for The Outer Limits (“The Special One”), Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (“The Lost Bomb”) and The Wild Wild West (“The Night of the Cossacks” and “The Night of Sudden Death”). No, that’s not everything hescripted. (Died 2008.)
  • Born August 17, 1923 Julius Harris. He’s Tee Hee Johnson, the metal armed henchman courtesy of a crocodile in Live and Let Die, the eighth Bond film. Other genre appearances are scant — he’s a gravedigger in Darkman, boat crew in King Kong and he shows up in the horror film Shrunken Heads. He had one-offs in The Incredible Hulk and the Friday the 13th series.(Died 2004.)
  • Born August 17, 1930 Harve Bennett. The individual who gave us Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Really he did. He would then serve as Producer on the next three Trek films, The Search for SpockThe Voyage Home and The Final Frontier. Bennett also wrote Star Trek III, co-wrote the story and screenplay for Star Trek IV, and co-wrote the story for Star Trek V. His only on scene appearance is in the latter as the Starfleet Chief of Staff. He’s the voice of the Battle simulator computer in Wrath of Khan, and the Flight Recorder in the Search for Spock. (Died 2015.)
  • Born August 17, 1945 Rachael Pollack, 76. She’s getting a Birthday note for her scripting duties on her run of issues 64–87 (1993-1995) of Doom Patrol. She’s also assisted in the creation of the Vertigo Tarot Deck with McKean and Gaiman, and she wrote a book to go with it. She won a World Fantasy Award for Godmother Night, and an Arthur C. Clarke Award winner for Unquenchable Fire. She also wrote Salvador Dali’s Tarot, a book-length exposition of Salvador Dalí’s Tarot deck, comprising a full-page color plate for each card, with her commentary on the facing page.
  • Born August 17, 1956 John Romita Jr., 65. If you’ve read Spider-Man since the Sixties, it’s very likely that you’ve seen his artwork as he had six stints on it between 1980 and 2009. He was also on a number of other titles at Marvel and DC including Superman, Ghost Rider, Hulk, All-Star Batman, Eternals, Captain America and Daredevil to name but a few he illustrated. He also worked with Mark Miller at Image Comics on Kick-Ass, and did the one shot Punisher/Batman: Deadly Knights
  • Born August 17, 1960 Chris Baker, 61. He’s the cover artist for British and German versions of the Redwall books, as well as a storyboard and conceptual artist having worked with  Steven Spielberg, Stanley Kubrick and Tim Burton. Among his films are Big Fish, Skyfall, Charlie and the Chocolate FactoryA.I. Artificial Intelligence and Corpse Bride
  • Born August 17, 1962 Laura Resnick, 59. Daughter of Mike Resnick. She is a winner of the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in Science Fiction for early work including “No Room for the Unicorn.” I’ve not read her Manhattan Magic series so I’m interested to know what y’all think of it. She’s readily available at the usual suspects. 
  • Born August 17, 1966 Neil Clarke, 55. Editor in Chief of Clarkesworld Magazine which has won an impressive three Best Semiprozine Hugos. SFWA also gave him a Kate Wilhelm Solstice Award. He also edits The Best Science Fiction of the Year series for Night Shade Books.  He’s a nominee at Discon III for Best Editor, Short Form. 

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • The Argyle Sweater definitely knows how to keep the arg in comics and shown with this horrible pun.

(12) STAR PLONKER. Laughing Squid makes sure we’re listening when “The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain Performs the Original ‘Star Trek’ Theme Including the Full Lyrics”.

The very talented Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain (previously) shared the album version of their truly celestial cover of the theme from the original Star Trek series. Not only did they vocally cover the theremin-like intro, but also the full lyrics to the song.

(13) A TOUCH OF LARCENY. Two Vulture writers trail “The Mysterious Figure Stealing Books Before Their Release”.

…This was a setup Stieg Larsson would have admired: a clever thief adopting multiple aliases, targeting victims around the world, and acting with no clear motive. The manuscripts weren’t being pirated, as far as anyone could tell. Fake Francesca wasn’t demanding a ransom. “We assumed it was the Russians,” Mörk said. “But we are the book industry. It’s not like we’re digging gold or researching vaccines.” Perhaps someone in publishing, or a Hollywood producer, was desperate for early access to books they might buy. Was the thief simply an impatient reader? A strung-out writer in need of ideas? “In the hacker culture that Stieg Larsson depicted, they do a lot of things not for financial benefit,” Mörk pointed out this spring, “but just to show that they can do it.”

When I first heard about the scheme in February, four years after the attempted “Millennium” heist, the thief was still on the loose, exhibiting behavior that was even bolder and more bizarre as they chased after everything from Sally Rooney’s latest to novels by obscure writers never published in English before. This sounded like a fun challenge, a digital mystery to obsess over at a time when the real world was shut down… 

(14) PLURAL. “Aliens: 10 Things That Still Hold Up Today”ScreenRant counts them off.

Ridley Scott’s Alien is the kind of untouchable masterpiece that should never be ruined by sequels. But James Cameron proved that there are exceptions to this rule with 1986’s Aliens, which both satisfies as a follow-up to the first movie and stands as a classic of action cinema in its own right….

10/10 Replacing One Xenomorph With A Hive Of Dozens

Like all the best sequels (including Cameron’s own Terminator 2), Aliens significantly raises the stakes from the first movie by expanding the scope of the premise. The first Alien movie was essentially a haunted house movie in space, with the crew of the cargo freighter Nostromo getting picked off one by one by a ravenous xenomorph wandering around their ship.

In Aliens, there are dozens of these xenomorphs on the loose as opposed to the single alien that threatened the heroes of the original movie. The single xenomorph from the first movie was scary enough, but Cameron upped the ante with a festering swarm of otherworldly monsters.

(15) PULL UP TWO CHAIRS. In the episode 59 of the Two Chairs Talking podcast, David Grigg and Perry Middlemiss discuss the nominees in the Novelette category for this year’s Hugo Awards, and go on to talk about their other recent reading, including a novel by Claire North about the travails of the Harbinger of Death, and some well-worn favorites of the crime and SF genres. Episode 59: “Thoroughly informed”.

(16) LAW NORTH OF THE OZONE. The issue of who is and isn’t an astronaut is legally very complicated! The Space Review asks “Is it time to create the designation of non-governmental astronaut?”

… Of the three, it is the test offered by Professor Yasuaki Hashimoto that is the test that best harmonizes with international law through the Outer Space Treaty.[5]

For the legal status of “astronaut” to apply under Professor Hashimoto’s test the person must be:

  1. in an object located in space
  2. conducting their activities for the benefit and in the interests of all countries
  3. regarded as an envoy of mankind in outer space.

Applying this test to non-governmentals like the personnel who were carried on SpaceShipTwo and New Shepard, the first prong is easily met as arguably both launch and reentry vehicles were “in space.” However, both fail the second and third prong of the test as they are both commercial ventures that are not conducting their activities for the benefit and interest and all countries nor are they or would be regarded as envoys of all mankind in outer space. This means absent legislative action, non-governmental personnel would not have any legal status in the eyes of domestic and international law….

(17) PEOPLE RUIN EVERYTHING. Mind Matters introduces another short film distributed by DUST: “Merv Is the Last Man in a Ruined World”.

This New Zealand-based film company provides a haunting evocation of a totally ruined urban landscape — just an enormous pile of rubble peopled by a surviving hermit. When he catches sight of another human, he pelts like mad for his underground den. Then, arming himself, sets out to confront the stranger….

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Game Trailers: Pokemon Unite” on YouTube, Fandom Games says that this game is a “sub-par experience” that will disappoint even the most enthusiastic Pokemon fans.

[Thanks to Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Jeffrey Smith, Cat Rambo, Michael J. Walsh, Rob Thornton, Chris Barkley, Steven H Silver, David Grigg, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 7/4/21 You Can’t Make Good Omenlets Without Breaking Bad

(1) NATIONAL BOOK FESTIVAL 2021. The Library of Congress’ “10-Day National Book Festival for 2021” will include appearances by genre figures Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Roxane Gay, Kazuo Ishiguro and more.

The initial lineup of 2021 National Book Festival authors includes Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Roxane Gay, Kazuo Ishiguro, Michael J. Fox (pictured clockwise)

The theme of this year’s festival is “Open a Book, Open the World.” Audiences will be invited to create their own festival experiences from programs in a range of formats and an expanded schedule over 10 days from September 17-26.. “Create Your National Book Festival Experience Over 10 Days in Multiple Formats”.

The lineup includes authors, poets and illustrators from America and around the world:

  • Kacen Callender
  • Michael J. Fox
  • Tana French
  • Roxane Gay
  • Nikki Giovanni
  • Annette Gordon-Reed
  • Adam Grant
  • Yaa Gyasi
  • Maria Hinojosa
  • Mishal Husain
  • Kazuo Ishiguro
  • Chang-rae Lee
  • Silvia Moreno-Garcia
  • Viet Thanh Nguyen
  • Christopher Paolini
  • Sarah Pearse
  • Mary Roach
  • Marcus Samuelsson
  • Angie Thomas
  • Diane von Fürstenberg
  • Martha Wells
  • Isabel Wilkerson

(2) OR MAYBE OLLY WON’T BE THE DOCTOR. Olly Alexander’s manager dismissed rumors that her client is replacing Jodie Whittaker in a pun-filled Instagram reports Digital Spy. “It’s a Sin star Olly Alexander responds to Doctor Who rumours”.

Tabloid reports claimed over the weekend that the Years & Years singer was taking over the role of the iconic Time Lord, following previous speculation that Thirteenth Doctor Jodie Whittaker will be leaving at the end of the next series.

However, it seems like Olly won’t be travelling in the TARDIS anytime soon….

(3) FANS SAY YES, CRITICS SAY NO. Yahoo! has a roundup of the responses to The Tomorrow War: “Chris Pratt’s ‘The Tomorrow War’ Panned as ‘Garbage Pizza’ and ‘Starship Troopers for Dummies’ by Critics”.

… Chris Pratt’s latest ode to his inner “action star,” Amazon Prime’s “The Tomorrow War,” is fighting its own battle with critics, who decry it as everything from “the garbage pizza of science-fiction films” to a “mediocre straight white savior fantasy in which the protagonist is…f—ing stupid.”

“The Tomorrow War” made its debut on Amazon Prime on Friday and is currently sitting at a lukewarm 53% among critics on Rotten Tomatoes, with the audience review topping off at a more positive 80%. The Globe and Mail’s Barry Hertz calls it “Starship Troopers for dummies,” adding, “If I had a time machine, I’d punt myself to the past just before ‘The Tomorrow War’ went into production, and save everyone the trouble,” while Brian Lowry of CNN admits the picture has a “certain appeal,” “but strands its star in a pretty uninspired time and place.”…

(4) THE VIRAL CURTAIN. Darius Hupov is the coordinator of the first Eastern European SciFi Anthology. The Viral Curtain is the 2021 edition, and has short stories from 11 countries. All the details about the anthology, including the short stories and authors, are at the Eastern European SFF Anthology project website.

The anthology premiered in June at the  Refesticon Fantasy Festival in Bijelo Pojle, Montenegro. And this month it will also be present at the Eurocon in Fiugi (in printed format) and (so they hope) at the Worldcon (in ebook format).

Here are the countries, authors, and stories represented in the anthology.

Here are Cristian Vicol, cover designer, Darius Hupov, anthology coordinator, Adrian Chifu, graphic designer for the image on the cover, in Union Square, Timisoara, Romania).

(5) THE TEN PERCENTERS. “Why do writers need agents? To keep track of the rejections” author Chris Paling tells The Guardian.

That 10% fee buys a novelist like me more than the chance of a big book deal – from a hand with the DIY to a shoulder to cry on after yet another knockback…

…A few weeks after the sudden death of my agent, Deborah Rogers, in 2014 the colleague deputed to take me on phoned. “I’ve found something in Deborah’s desk.”

“Yes?”

“A letter from you. To you.”

“Ah.”

“It looks like she’d read it. Remember it?”

Of course I remembered it. Frustrated after months of trying to get a response to a novel, I had written a letter to myself, enclosed a self-addressed envelope, and asked her to tick the appropriate response: “Novel read”, “novel needs work”, “novel submitted”, “novel sold for a: £1,000, b: £10,000, c: £100,000”. Petty-minded and, given her support and encouragement over the years, unforgivable. But, being Deborah, she took it well….

(6) YOUTH WILL BE SERVED. The Hollywood Reporter revisits Logan’s Run with Michael York, the actor who played the title character, book co-author William Nolan, and others in “Run, Runner! ‘Logan’s Run’ Star Michael York Shares New Tales on Film’s 45th Anniversary”.

… The then 33-year-old Englishman was cast to play Logan 5 (Yes, he loves the age irony) whose job as a member of the elite police unit called “Sandmen” is to track down and terminate “Runners,” aka those who try to avoid the ritualistic “Carrousel” where they will be euthanized to control the dome-encased population in the year 2274. Logan’s overindulged existence is divine — until through a series of events he is forced to become a Runner.

The Three Musketeers and Cabaret star initially had zero interest in the enormous sci-fi project, recalling that he was in Los Angeles at the time, starring in the play Ring Around the Moon at the Ahmanson Theatre. One day, a script arrived with Anderson attached to direct: Logan’s Run. York assures he had wanted to work with the director again after their collaboration on Conduct Unbecoming (1975). But after one look, York felt he was wrong for the film and was prepared to pass. 

“I was so stupid,” York says, with laughter. “But, fortunately, there was a younger actor in the company who had been delegated to drive me from Beverly Hills to the Ahmanson, and we became friends. He asked if he could read the script and I said, ‘of course.’ The next morning, he turned up — actually wagging a finger at me — and said ‘You’ve got to do this! You don’t understand. It’s pressing all my buttons!’ So I owe that actor a good deal. I went to MGM and suddenly, I was doing it.” 

(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • July 4, 1996 — Twenty five years ago in the United Kingdom on this day, Independence Day premiered. It was directed and co-written by Roland Emmerich. It was produced by Dean Devlin who also wrote it with Emmerich.  The film had a very large cast that included Will Smith, Bill Pullman, Jeff Goldblum, Mary McDonnell, Judd Hirsch, Margaret Colin, Randy Quaid, Robert Loggia, James Rebhorn, Harvey Fierstein, Vivica A. Fox and Harry Connick Jr.  Critics Inside the USA generally loved it whereas critics outside condemned its hyper-patriotism. The box office here and overseas was such that only Jurassic Park has earned more money that year. Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a solid seventy five percent rating. It was up for a Hugo at LoneStarCon 2 but that went instead to Babylon 5  for the “Severed Dreams” episode. 

(8) 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 terribly convoluted manners 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, 1931 — Stephen Boyd. He only had one genre role that you will remember, that of Grant in Fantastic Voyage. (That’s assuming you’re not watching Raquel Welch.)  He’d later show up in Lady Dracula as Count Dracula. (Died 1977.)
  • Born July 4, 1949 — Peter Crowther, 72. 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 really available in digital form for much of short fiction or novels at the usual digital suspects. 
  • Born July 4, 1960 — Joyce Agu, 61. 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, 1977 — David Petersen, 44. Writer and illustrator of the brilliant Mouse Guard series. If you haven’t read it, do so — it’s that good. 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. 
  • Born July 4, 1989 — Emily Coutts, 32. She plays the role of helmsman Keyla Detmer on Discovery. She’s also her mirror universe counterpart, who is the first officer of that universe’s Shenzhou. (I like the series and am definitely looking forward to it when it jump a thousand years into the future next season!) She was in one episode of the SF series Dark Matter and in Crimson Peak, a horror film but that’s it for genre appearances.

(9) VISIONS QUEST. “’Star Wars: Visions’ unveils special look at anime anthology”SYFY Wire has the breakdown.

…Coming to Disney+ this September, Star Wars: Visions is a anthology of anime shorts produced by some of the most preeminent animation studios in Japan like Kamikaze Douga, Geno Studio (Twin Engine), Studio Colorido (Twin Engine), Trigger, Kinema Citrus, Science Saru, and Production IG…. 

(10) HE’S DEAD – ISN’T HE, JIM? The pandemic also complicated the business of freezing the brains of dead people who hope to be revived in the future: “The Cryonics Industry Would Like to Give You the Past Year, and Many More, Back” in the New York Times.

When an 87-year-old Californian man was wheeled into an operating room just outside Phoenix last year, the pandemic was at its height and medical protocols were being upended across the country.

A case like his would normally have required 14 or more bags of fluids to be pumped into him, but now that posed a problem.

Had he been infected with the coronavirus, tiny aerosol droplets could have escaped and infected staff, so the operating team had adopted new procedures that reduced the effectiveness of the treatment but used fewer liquids.

It was an elaborate workaround, especially considering the patient had been declared legally dead more than a day earlier.

He had arrived in the operating room of Alcor Life Extension Foundation — located in an industrial park near the airport in Scottsdale, Ariz. — packed in dry ice and ready to be “cryopreserved,” or stored at deep-freeze temperatures, in the hope that one day, perhaps decades or centuries from now, he could be brought back to life.

As it turns out, the pandemic that has affected billions of lives around the world has also had an impact on the nonliving.

From Moscow to Phoenix and from China to rural Australia, the major players in the business of preserving bodies at extremely low temperatures say the pandemic has brought new stresses to an industry that has long faced skepticism or outright hostility from medical and legal establishments that have dismissed it as quack science or fraud.

In some cases, Covid-19 precautions have limited the parts of the body that can be pumped full of protective chemicals to curb the damage caused by freezing.

Alcor, which has been in business since 1972, adopted new rules in its operating room last year that restricted the application of its medical-grade antifreeze solution to only the patient’s brain, leaving everything below the neck unprotected…

(11) LOTR TV PRODUCTION ISSUES. The New Zealand Herald reports “Stunt workers’ fury over Lord of the Rings injuries”.

At least three stunt workers on Amazon Studios’ $1 billion The Lord of the Rings television production being filmed in Auckland have been seriously injured — and one has resulted in a $500,000 payment.

Several sources on the set of the most expensive TV show ever produced say they don’t believe their concerns about safety standards are being treated seriously enough after at least two injuries requiring surgery were not proactively reported to WorkSafe.

The Weekend Herald has spoken to four workers who believe a senior stunt supervisor has created an uneasy environment which has contributed to an unsafe workplace.

However, Amazon Studios insists safety is a “top priority” and the company has fulfilled its responsibilities according to New Zealand’s workplace safety guidelines.

In March, world-class Kiwi stuntwoman Dayna Grant suffered a head injury on The Lord of the Rings set at West Auckland’s Kumeu Studios.

After undergoing scans Grant was diagnosed with an 8mm brain aneurysm and an upper spinal injury.

Grant’s head injury was not reported to WorkSafe NZ by Amazon because the company said it did not meet the threshold for reporting.

The Weekend Herald is also aware of two other stunt workers who have left the LOTR production after an injury on set, and a third who departed for mental health reasons.

WorkSafe also did not learn of a serious injury to Australian stuntwoman Elissa Cadwell in February last year until after it was reported by the Weekend Herald.

It is understood Amazon paid her about $500,000 after her injury. This payment was reportedly in part to help Cadwell get back home and settled in Australia and was not an admission of guilt by Amazon.

Amazon gave a blanket denial to The Wrap in “Amazon Says Allegations of ‘Lord of the Rings’ Series’ ‘Unsafe’ Stunt Conditions Are ‘Completely Inaccurate’” available at Yahoo! The piece, in addition, includes many details about the production of the new series.

…Amazon and production company GSR Productions’ safety protocols for “The Lord of the Rings” series include a safety team of 21 full-time and six-to-eight part-time crew members — made up of safety supervisors, medics, nurses and EMTs — to be on set, the insider tells TheWrap. Additionally, a paramedic team is brought in for activity that has a heightened level of risk, such as horse riding and fires.

Per the individual, “The Lord of the Rings” TV series produces job safety analysis reports for every location and each individual shoot day, and all activities with any higher perceived risk have additional risk analysis reports.

Any injury or suspected injury that occurs on set and is not able to be 100% diagnosed and treated on site is referred to the appropriate medical facility or transported by ambulance, the insider says. Standard operating procedure is that all head injuries, however minor, are transported to the appropriate medical facility.

Per the source, though only “notifiable” injuries are reported to WorkSafe, Amazon records all incidents and “near misses” and these reports are analyzed to look for patterns, repetition, or any similarities at all that may indicate systemic, environmental, equipment or personnel issues contributing to incidents/accidents.

“The Lord of the Rings” TV series’ safety department operates under a confidential and “no fault” system, where any crew, cast, or member of the public can report anything of concern, or any accident, knowing that their identity remains confidential to the safety department, if desired….

(12) PILGRIMAGE DELAYED. In the Washington Post, Dalvin Brown discusses the Mayflower Autonomous Ship, which left Britain on June 15 in an effort to be the first ship to cross the Atlantic without a crew but whose voyage ended after two days because of mechanical problems. “IBM’s AI robot ship encounters trouble retracing Mayflower’s historic voyage”. Registration required.

There’s also an open article at WANE: “AI-powered Mayflower, beset with glitch, returns to England”.

The Mayflower had a few false starts before its trailblazing sea voyage to America more than 400 years ago. Now, its artificial intelligence-powered namesake is having some glitches of its own.

A sleek robotic trimaran retracing the 1620 journey of the famous English vessel had to turn back Friday to fix a mechanical problem.

Nonprofit marine research organization ProMare, which worked with IBM to build the autonomous ship, said it made the decision to return to base “to investigate and fix a minor mechanical issue” but hopes to be back on the trans-Atlantic journey as soon as possible….

(13) RACING WITH THE MOON. If you’d like to hear somebody’s opinion of the best werewolf movies, YouTube’s Marvelous Videos says these are the 13 best of all time.

The true fans of horror movies will acknowledge that Werewolf movies got an undue criticism and have been looked down upon right from the start. There has been a far greater acceptance for the likes of Zombie-flicks or even Vampire movies. Even amongst filmmakers, there is a general tendency to avoid Werewolf movies as it involves a greater investment in special effects, costumes, and makeup. The overall idea of Werewolves, however, is intriguing and with the right story, these movies can strike gold. Despite being the ignored cousin amongst various horror film genres, there are some Werewolf movies that did make an impact with the audiences.

(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Weta Workshop Behind the scenes: Our artists at work on Thra” on YouTube.

Tea leaves tree bark, pillow stuffing, succulents… and the world of Thra. We recently showed off a Dark Crystal diorama built by our talented artists, but how exactly did they do it? Daniel Falconer, Chris Menges and Mark Dewes talk us through their process while building this stunning miniature set.

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

Pixel Scroll 6/14/21 45,000 To 105,000 Characters In Search Of A Novelette

(1) BIAS IN REVIEW SPACES. In a series of Twitter threads, Silvia Moreno-Garcia has tackled issues of bias in review spaces against marginalized authors, such as through the misuse of trigger warnings.

One thread starts here.

A second thread starts here.

A third thread starts here.

Adiba Jaigirdar check out what reviewers on Storygraph had reported about her book and found this:

(2) DJINN FIZZ. The Odyssey Writing Workshop Blog features a Q&A with one of the genre’s leading new storytellers: “Interview: Guest Lecturer P. Djèlí Clark”.

Some of your work has been described as Lovecraftian horror. What draws you to the genre? How do you create such an atmosphere in your stories?

Cosmic horror is already entrenched so much in genre, it’s hard to not be drawn to it. When I use it in my own stories, I’m often attempting to convey a sense of the strange, the otherworldly, and at times inconceivable. That might be done by translating a bit of folklore through a cosmic horror lens, drawing on a favorite trope but finding a new way to present it, or by adding some well-placed tentacles. You can never go wrong with tentacles.

(3) MOVIES MAKING MONEY AGAIN. A Quiet Place Part II on Friday became the first movie in the pandemic era to cross the $100 million mark domestically upon finishing the day with $101 million in ticket sales: “’Quiet Place II’ Box Office Sets Pandemec-Era Record With $100M” in The Hollywood Reporter.

(4) NOT-SO-SUPER 8. Craig Miller shares an entertaining reminiscence about his visit to the Conquest of the Planet of the Apes set in 1971.

…Nearly 50 years ago. And I was 16 or 17. I was a science fiction fan and a film fan. And I lived just a few miles from the 20th Century-Fox lot.

I no longer remember what prompted me to try this but, for some reason, one evening I decided to drive to the studio. I parked in the studio lot and walked through the gate. It was long before 9/11. Long before security theater took over. You could walk onto any studio lot in town, right past the security guards, as long as you looked like you were meant to be there. And so I did.

What was shooting on the lot that evening were scenes from Conquest of the Planet of the Apes. These were outdoor scenes, not on a sound stage. Not having to sneak into a sound stage, it was especially easy to approach and watch….

(5) FIRST ORBIT. Cora Buhlert’s new Galactic Journey contribution is a review of Damon Knight’s Orbit 1 anthology which had a whopping 50% female contributors – in 1966: “[June 14, 1966] Aliens, Housewives and Overpopulation: Orbit 1, edited by Damon Knight”.

… Of the nine stories in this anthology, four are written by women. If we count Jane Rice and her collaborator Ruth Allison separately, we have five male and five female authors. Of course, women make up fifty-one percent of the Earth’s population, so an anthology with fifty percent male and fifty percent female contributors shouldn’t be anything unusual. However, in practice there are still way too many magazine issues and anthologies that don’t have a single female contributor, so an anthology where half the authors are women is truly remarkable.

(6) HEALTHY APPENDIX. Cora also visited the Appendix N Book Club podcast to discuss the Clark Ashton Smith collection Xiccarph with hosts Jeff Goad and Ngo Vinh-Hoi: “Episode 97 – Clark Ashton Smith’s ‘Xiccarph’ with special guest Cora Buhlert”. And that’s not all they covered, as the conversation ranges afield to —

…German science fiction, pulp magazines, morbid beauty, vampire flower women, Jirel of Joiry, the Dark Eye, foreshadowing, Gary Gygax’s exclusion of Clark Ashton Smith from the Appendix N, Alphonse Mucha, doomed protagonists, the 2022 World Science Fiction Convention, and much more!

(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • June 1973 — On this month in 1973, Robert Heinlein’s Time Enough for Love was first published by Putnam. Clarke’s Rendezvous With Rama would beat it out for the Hugo for Best Novel at Discon II. It was later given a Prometheus Hall of Fame Award. It’s the life of Lazarus Long told in exhaustive detail. Really exhaustive detail. Critics including Theodore Sturgeon loved it, and John Leonard writing for the NYT called it “great entertainment”. It’s currently priced at just six dollars and ninety-nine cents at the usual suspects. 

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born June 14, 1908 — Stephen Tall. His first published work was “The Lights on Precipice Peak“ in Galaxy, October 1955. Not a prolific writer, he’d do about twenty stories over the next quarter of a century and two novels as well, The Ramsgate Paradox and The People Beyond the Wall. “The Bear with the Knot on His Tail” was nominated for a Hugo. He has not yet made into the digital realm other than “The Lights on Precipice Peak“ being available at the usual suspects. (Died 1981.)
  • Born June 14, 1914 — Ruthven Todd. He’s here for his delightful children’s illustrated trio of Space Cat books — Space Cat Visits Venus, Space Cat Meets Mars and Space Cat and the Kittens. I’m please to say they’re available at all the usual digital suspects. He also wrote Over the Mountain and The Lost Traveller which are respectively a lost world novel and a dystopian novel. (Died 1978.)
  • Born June 14, 1919 — Gene Barry. His first genre role was in The War of the Worlds as Dr. Clayton Forrester. He’d have a number of later genre appearances including several appearances on Science Fiction TheatreAlfred Hitchcock PresentsThe Devil and Miss Sarah, The Girl, the Gold Watch & Dynamite, multiple appearances on Fantasy Island and The Twilight Zone. He’d appear in the ‘05 War of The Worlds credited simply as “Grandfather”. (Died 2009.)
  • Born June 14, 1921 — William Hamling. Author and editor who was active as an sf fan in the late 1930s and early 1940s. His first story “War with Jupiter”, written with Mark Reinsberg, appeared in Amazing Stories in May 1939. He’d write only short stories, some nineteen of them, over the next twenty years. Genre adjacent, his Shadow of the Sphinx is a horror novel about an ancient Egyptian sorceress. He would be the Editor of two genre zines, Imagination for most of the Fifties, and Imaginative Tales during the Fifties as well. He published four issues of the Stardust fanzine in 1940, and contributed to the 1940 Worldcon program. (Died 2017.)
  • Born June 14, 1939 — Penelope Farmer, 82. English writer best known for children’s fantasy novels. Her best-known novel is Charlotte Sometimes, a boarding-school story that features a multiple time slip. There’s two more novels in this, the Emma / Charlotte series, The Summer Birds and Emma in Winter. Another children’s fantasy by her, A Castle of Bone, concerns a portal in a magic shop. 
  • Born June 14, 1949 — Harry Turtledove, 72. I wouldn’t know where to begin with him considering how many series he’s done. I’m fairly sure I first read novels in his Agent of Byzantium series and I know his Crosstime Traffic series was definitely fun reading. He’s won two Sidewise Awards for How Few Remain and Ruled Britannia, and a Prometheus for The Gladiator.
  • Born June 14, 1958 — James Gurney, 63. Artist and author best known for his illustrated Dinotopia book series. He won a Hugo for Best Original Artwork at L.A. Con III for Dinotopia: The World Beneath, and was twice nominated for a Hugo for Best Professional Artist. The dinosaur Torvosaurus gurneyi was named in honor of him.
  • Born June 14, 1972 — Adrian Tchaikovsky, 49. He is best known for his Shadows of the Apt series, and for Children of Time which won an Arthur C. Clarke Award. (He’s also won a BFA for The Tiger and the Wolf, and a BSFA for Children of Ruin.)  The After War series is multi author. He wrote the first, Redemption’s Blade, and Justina Robson wrote the second, Salvation’s Fire

(9) IT TAKES A CREW. Den of Geek questions Charlie Jane Anders, Laura Lam and Elizabeth May, and Yudhanjaya Wijeratne about “How Science Fiction’s Ensemble Stories Humanize Space”.

It’s a formula that has been repeated over and over for about as long as there has been science fiction on television—starting with the likes of Star Trek and Blake’s 7, through the boom in “planet of the week” style TV in the 90s and 00s with Farscape and Firefly, to more recent stories like Dark MatterThe ExpanseKilljoys, and the Guardians of the Galaxy films. Most recently Sky’s Intergalactic, and the Korean movie Space Sweepers have been carrying the standard, while last month saw people diving back into the world of Mass Effect with Mass Effect Legendary Edition. While Commander Sheppard is ostensibly the protagonist of the video game trilogy, few would argue that it’s anything other than the ensemble of the Normandy crew that keeps people coming back.

As science fiction author Charlie Jane Anders points out, it’s not hard to see the appeal of a family of likeable characters, kept in close quarters by the confines of their ship, and sent into stories of adventure.

“I love how fun this particular strand of space opera is, and how much warmth and humour the characters tend to have,” Anders says. “These stories have in common a kind of swashbuckling adventure spirit and a love of problem-solving and resourcefulness. And I think the ‘found family’ element is a big part of it, since these characters are always cooped up on a tiny ship together and having to rely on each other.”…

(10) HYPERTEXT PETS. “HTTP Status Dogs” is a collection of photos about “Hypertext Transfer Protocol Response status codes. And dogs.”

It is inspired by “HTTP Status Cats – The original”. Which Daniel Dern said he’d understand if I made that the primary link in this item. Because cats.

(11) CARDS AGAINST VET EXPENSES. Do you need a feel-good story today? Here it is: “8-year-old boy sells beloved Pokémon cards to save severely sick puppy”.

Bryson Kliemann loves his Pokémon card collection, but when he found out his beloved puppy Bruce was sick and might not survive, the 8-year-old did what he could to save his best friend. He set up a stand on the side of the road in Lebanon, Virginia, with a sign: “4 Sale Pokémon.”

…”I’m a realist with my kids,” Woodruff said. “I told him Bruce was sick and said ‘When you get home today from school, he may be at the vet’s office or in heaven.”

When Bryson got off the school bus that day, he showed his mother and stepfather a business plan he created to sell his Pokémon cards and snacks to help raise money to get Bruce the best possible care.

“I told him no, we’ve got this,” Woodruff said. “And then he later asked my husband and we decided to say yes, because this was also an opportunity to teach him responsibility.”

Bryson set up his stand on the side of the road, complete with a colorful umbrella and handmade signed, and started serving customers.

The first day he made $65. Within two afternoons, Woodruff said her son had made $400 and even received some Pokémon cards from kind strangers who wanted to help….

(12) ETCH-A-SKETCH. Wow! Princess Etch (Jane Labowitch) made an Etch-A-Sketch of the ship that blocked the Suez Canal.

(13) WAKANDA IS THE ARENA. Gamebyte is there when “Black Panther And Wakanda Shown Off In New Marvel’s Avengers Trailer”.

The new update is called “Black Panther: War for Wakanda”. You’ll face off against classic Marvel villain Ulysses Klaue in what seems to be a fight over vibranium. That’s the rare metal in the world of Marvel that can only be found in Wakanda.

This will be the first time that the Black Panther has appeared in the Marvel’s Avengers game, so it’s great to see him finally team up with the Avengers.

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

Pixel Scroll 5/26/21 Buy Me Some Pixels And Shadowjack, I Don’t Care If I Never Loop Back

(1) BLACK PANTHER. Today marks the end of an era for one of Marvel’s most acclaimed series: Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Black Panther. View never-before-seen artwork from Coates’ final issue and revisit some of the best moments of this iconic run in the all-new Black Panther #25 trailer.

Alongside artists Daniel Acuña and Brian Stelfreeze, the National Book Award winner and New York Times Best-selling author closes out his game-changing run with a special giant-sized finale issue. Since taking over the title in 2016, Coates has transformed the Black Panther mythos. Now five years later, he departs, leaving the world of Wakanda and the Marvel Universe as a whole forever changed and laying the groundwork for the next bold era of one of Marvel’s most celebrated heroes.

(2) BOSEMAN REMEMBERED. “Howard University names fine arts college after Chadwick Boseman” – the Washington Post has the story.

Howard University is renaming its College of Fine Arts after one of its most acclaimed alums: actor Chadwick Boseman.

On Wednesday, Howard renamed its performing and visual arts school after the “Black Panther” star, who earned an Academy Award nomination for his role in last year’s “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.” Boseman, who graduated from Howard in 2000 with a bachelor of arts degree in directing, died in August at the age of 43 from colon cancer.The renaming unites Howard and Walt Disney Co.’s executive chairman, Bob Iger, who will spearhead fundraising for an endowment named after Boseman, as well as help raise money for the construction of a state-of-the-art building on the campus. The new building will house the Chadwick A. Boseman College of Fine Arts, the Cathy Hughes School of Communications, its TV station, WHUT, and its radio station, WHUR 96.3 FM.

(3) SFF FROM AFRICAN WRITERS. Omenana Issue 17 is out, the latest issue of a tri-monthly magazine that publishes speculative fiction by writers from across Africa and the African Diaspora. The magazine is credted by Mazi Nwonwu, Co-founder/Managing Editor; Chinelo Onwualu, Co-founder; Iquo DianaAbasi, Contributing Editor; and Godson ChukwuEmeka Okeiyi, Graphic Designer.

Omenana is the Igbo word for divinity – it also loosely translates as “culture” – and embodies our attempt to recover our wildest stories. We are looking for well-written speculative fiction that bridges the gap between past, present and future through imagination and shakes us out of the corner we have pushed ourselves into.

(4) TORCON 2021. Tor.com is running another virtual convention in June. The full schedule is at the link: “Stay Home. Geek Out. Again. Announcing the TorCon 2021 Schedule of Events”.

We’re thrilled to share that TorCon is back! Taking place from June 10 through June 13, 2021, TorCon is a virtual convention that was launched in 2020 with a simple goal: to bring the entertainment and excitement of live book conventions into the virtual space. From Thursday, June 10 through Sunday, June 13, Tor Books, Forge Books, Tordotcom Publishing, Tor Teen, and Nightfire are presenting ten panels featuring more than 30 of your favorite authors, in conversation with each other—and with you!

Join authors, including James Rollins, Charlie Jane Anders, Joe Pera, Catriona Ward, Gillian Flynn, TJ Klune, Alix E. Harrow, Seanan McGuire, Nghi Vo, and many others for four days of pure geekery, exclusive reveals, content drops, giveaways, and more…all from the comfort of your own home!

(5) REPRESENTING MEDIA TIE-IN AUTHORS. Here is Max Alan Collins’ history of how the organization began: “A Blast from the Past – the Origins of the IAMTW – International Association of Media Tie-In Writers”.

I got involved with tie-in writing when, as the then-scripter of the Dick Tracy comic strip, I was enlisted to write the novel of the Warren Beatty film. That was, happily, a successful book that led to my writing novels for In the Line of Fire, Air Force One, Saving Private Ryan, and many others, including Maverick, that favorite of my childhood. Eventually I wrote TV tie-ins as well, in particular CSI and its spin-offs. Finally I got the opportunity to work with the Mickey Spillane estate to write Mike Hammer novels – a dream job, since Spillane had been my favorite writer growing up and Hammer my favorite character.

The founding of the IAMTW came out of a series of panels about tie-ins at San Diego Comic Con. Lee Goldberg, a rare example of a TV writer/producer who also wrote tie-in novels, was an especially knowledgeable and entertaining participant on those panels. He and I shared a frustration that the best work in the tie-in field was ignored by the various writing organizations that gave awards in assorted genres, including mystery, horror, and science-fiction.

Individually, we began poking around, talking to our peers, wondering if maybe an organization for media tie-in writers wouldn’t be a way to give annual awards and to grow this disparate group of creative folk into a community. I don’t remember whether Lee called me or I called Lee, but we decided to combine our efforts. What came out of that was the International Association of Media and Tie-in Writers and our annual Scribe Awards, as well as the Faust, our Life Achievement Award.

(6) SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL OUTLAW.

(7) HOW MANY HAVE YOU READ? AbeBooks has come up with their own list of “100 (Fiction) Books to Read in a Lifetime”, and some genre books are on it. I’ve read 29. (My midlife decision to read Moby Dick is constantly rewarded by raising my score on these things.)

We’ve seen these lists before – from Amazon to the Telegraph to Time Magazine and beyond. Plenty of folks have lists of the 100 best books of all time, the 100 books you should read, and on. And beautifully, despite overlap, they are all different. The glorious subjectivity of art means that no two of these lists should ever be exactly alike. So this is ours, our special snowflake of a list, born out of our passion for books. We kept it to fiction this time. Some of the expected classics are there, alongside some more contemporary fare. There is some science fiction, some YA, and above all else, some unforgettable stories.

Do any of the included titles shock you? Are you outraged by any omissions? Let us know what makes the cut for your top 100 novels.

(8) JMS’ B5 EPISODE COMMENTARY NOW ON YOUTUBE. For nearly a year J. Michael Straczynski has been providing his Patreon supporters full-length on-camera Babylon 5 commentaries. He’s now going to make some of them available to the public. Up first: “The Parliament of Dreams.” For this to work, you need to get access to a recording of the episode. Like JMS says —

For those who would like to sync up with the commentary on this video (since full-length TV episodes are not allowed here), fire up the episode and be ready to hit Play at the appropriate (or inappropriate) moment.

(9) CARLE OBIT. Eric Carle, who illustrated more than 70 books, most of which he also wrote, died May 23 reports NPR: “Eric Carle, Creator Of ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar,’ Dies At 91”.

…Carle headed straight back to the U.S. after graduating from art school at age 23 and was immediately hired by The New York Times. He fell in love with the impressionists (“color, color, color!”), served in the U.S. military during the Korean War, and, upon his return, moved into advertising.

Perhaps that career helped him prepare for using the simple, resonant language of The Very Hungry Caterpillar. For the book’s 50th anniversary in 2019, professor Michelle H. Martin told NPR that The Very Hungry Caterpillar‘s writing helps little kids grasp concepts such as numbers and the days of the week. (“On Monday he ate through one apple. But he was still hungry. On Tuesday he ate through two pears, but he was still hungry.”)

Martin, the Beverly Cleary Endowed Professor for Children and Youth Services at the University of Washington, told NPR the book builds literacy by gently guiding toddlers toward unfamiliar words. For example, when Saturday comes around and the hungry caterpillar binges on “one piece of chocolate cake, one ice-cream cone, one pickle, one slice of Swiss cheese, one slice of salami, one lollipop, one piece of cherry pie, one sausage, one cupcake, and one slice of watermelon,” words such as salami and Swiss cheese might be new to 3-year-olds already familiar with ice cream and lollipops….

Jane Yolen mourned his death in a public Facebook post:

…I am devastated. One of my oldest friends in the business. Our whole family loved him. HE and Bobbie lived for years about twenty five minutes from our house, and then in Northampton for some time before moving down South.

He was funny, dear, a favorite “uncle” to my kids.And his museum is twenty minutes from my house. I have been sobbing since I heard about two hours ago from a notice sent out by the family….

(10) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.

  • May 26, 1995 — On this day in 1995, Johnny Mnemonic premiered. Based on the William Gibson short story of the same name, it was directed by Robert Longo in his directorial debut. It starred Keanu Reeves, Takeshi Kitan,  Henry Rollins, Ice-T, Dina Meyer and Dolph Lundgren. Despite the story itself being well received and even being nominated for a Nebula Award, the response among critics to the film was overwhelmingly negative. It currently holds a 31% rating on Rotten Tomatoes among audience reviewers. It is available to watch here.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born May 26, 1865 — Robert Chambers. His most remembered work was The King in Yellow short stories. Though he would turn away from these supernatural tellings, Lovecraft’s included some of them in his Supernatural Horror in Literature critical study. Critics thought his work wasn’t as great as could have been. That said, Stross, Wagner, Carter and even Blish are said to have been influenced by him. (Died 1933.) (CE) 
  • Born May 26, 1903 — Harry Steeger. He  co-founded Popular Publications in 1930, one of the major publishers of pulp magazines, with former classmate Harold S. Goldsmith. They published The Spider which he created, and with Horror Stories and Terror Tales, he started the “Shudder Pulp” genre. So lacking in taste were these pulps that even a jaded public eventually rejected them. (Died 1990.) (CE) 
  • Born May 26, 1913 — Peter Cushing. Best known for his roles in the Hammer Productions horror films of the Fifties to the Seventies, as well as his performance as Grand Moff Tarkin in Star Wars. He also played Holmes many times, and though not considered canon, he was the Doctor in Daleks’ Invasion Earth 2150 A.D. and Dr. Who and the Daleks. He even made appearances in both The Avengers and The New Avengers as well as Space: 1999. A CGI recreation of Grand Moff Tarkin was used for his likeness in Rogue One. (Died 1994.) (CE)
  • Born May 26, 1913 – Joan Jefferson Farjeon.  Scenic designer, illustrated published versions of plays she’d done, also fairy tales.  See here (a frog footman), here (a tiger lily), here.  From a 1951 stage production, here is a moment in Beauty and the Beast.  (Died 2006) [JH]
  • Born May 26, 1923 — James Arness. He appeared in three Fifties SF films, Two Lost WorldsThem! and The Thing from Another World. The latter is based on the 1938 novella Who Goes There? by John W. Campbell (writing under the pseudonym of Don A. Stuart). The novella would be the basis of John Carpenter’s The Thing thirty years later. (Died 2011.) (CE)
  • Born May 26, 1923 — Roy Dotrice. I’ll always think of him first and foremost as Jacob “Father” Wells on Beauty and the Beast. He was Commissioner Simmonds in two episodes of Space: 1999. He also appeared in a recurring role on Hercules: The Legendary Journeys as Zeus. He’s on A Game of Thrones in the second season playing “Wisdom Hallyne the Pyromancer” in  “The Ghost of Harrenhal” and “Blackwater” episodes. He narrates at least some of the GoT audiobooks. (Died 2017.) (CE) 
  • Born May 26, 1925 – Howard DeVore.  Began collecting, 1936.  Michigan Science Fantasy Society, 1948 (Hal Shapiro said it was the Michigan Instigators of Science Fantasy for Intellectual Thinkers Society, i.e. MISFITS).  Leading dealer in SF books, paraphernalia; known as Big-Hearted Howard, a compliment-complaint-compliment; called himself “a huckster, 1st class”.  Active in N3F (Nat’l Fantasy Fan Fed’n); Neffy Award.  Also FAPA (Fantasy Amateur Press Ass’n), SAPS (Spectator Am. Pr. Society).  Said a Worldcon would be in Detroit over his dead body; was dragged across the stage; became Publicity head for Detention the 17th Worldcon.  With Donald Franson The Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy Awards (through 3rd ed’n 1998).  Named Fan Guest of Honor for 64th Worldcon, but died before the con.  His beanie had a full-size airplane propeller.  (Died 2005) [JH]
  • Born May 26, 1933 – Yôji Kondô, Ph.D.  Black belt in Aikido (7th degree) and judo (6th degree).  Senior positions at NASA, Medal for Exceptional Scientific Achievement; two hundred scientific papers, see here.  SF as Eric Kotani; six novels, most with J.M. Roberts; two shorter stories; edited Requiem tribute to Heinlein; non-fiction Interstellar Travel & Multi-Generation Space Ships with F. Bruhweiler, J. Moore, C. Sheffield; essays, mostly co-authored, in SF Age and Analog.  Heinlein Award.  Writers of the Future judge.  Our Gracious Host’s appreciation here.  (Died 2017) [JH]
  • Born May 26, 1938 – Lyudmila Petrushevskaya, age 83.  Author (including plays and screenwriting), singer, painter, animator.  Russian Booker Prize, Pushkin Prize, World Fantasy Award.  Twenty short stories for us.  See here.  [JH]
  • Born May 26, 1954 – Lisbeth Zwerger, age 67.  Children’s-book illustrator.  Hans Christian Andersen and Silver Brush awards; Grand Prize from German Academy for Children’s & Youth Literature.  Thirty books, most of them fantasy; see here (Swan Lake), here (the Mad Tea Party), here.  [JH]
  • Born May 26, 1964 — Caitlín R. Kiernan, 57. She’s an impressive two-time recipient of both the World Fantasy and Bram Stoker awards. As for novels, I’d single out Low Red MoonBlood Oranges (writing as Kathleen Tierney) and The Drowning Girl: A Memoir as being particularly worth reading. She also fronted a band, Death’s Little Sister, named for Neil Gaiman’s character, Delirium. (CE) 

(12) COMICS SECTION.

(13) ZOOMING WITH THE TRIMBLES. Fanac.org has posted a videos of “Bjo and John Trimble – A Fan History Zoom Session with Joe Siclari (Parts 1 and 2)”.

Bjo and John Trimble sit with Joe Siclari (May 2021) to tell us about their fannish histories. In part 1 of this interview, they talk about how they each found fandom, their ultimate meet-cute under Forry Ackerman’s grand piano, Burbee’s “Golden Treachery” and more serious topics. The Trimbles changed their part of fandom. Bjo talks about how she revitalized LASFS in the 1950s, and about the beginnings of the convention art show as we know it today (and Seth Johnson’s surprising part in that). Fandom is not without its controversies, and the Trimbles also speak about the Breendoggle and Coventry. Part 1 finishes up with anecdotes about Tony Boucher’s poker games. In Part 2, the interview will continue with the Trimbles’ roles in the Save Star Trek campaign. For more fan history, go to <FANAC.org> and <Fancyclopedia.org>. If you enjoyed this video, please subscribe to our channel.

In part 2 of Bjo and John Trimble’s interview with Joe Siclari (May 2021), they tell the remarkable story of how they met Gene Roddenberry and became involved in Star Trek. Learn the story of how they started, orchestrated and managed the “Save Star Trek” campaign which resulted in the third year of Star Trek, the original series. Hint: it all started in Clelveland. There’s much more in this interview. There are stories of the early days of the SCA, including how it got the name “Society for Creative Anachronism”, the day that a Knight of St. Fantony appeared at an SCA event, and the unlikely story of the first coronation of an SCA king. Additionally, you’ll hear about costuming, Takumi Shibano and how Gene Roddenberry helped get him to Worldcon (and how Bjo helped Shibano-san learn that his wife spoke English), and Q&A from the attendees.

(14) HERE KITTY. The lion is moving. “James Bond, Meet Jeff Bezos: Amazon Makes $8.45 Billion Deal for MGM” – the New York Times is there when they’re introduced.

In the ultimate symbol of one Hollywood era ending and another beginning, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, home to James Bond and Rocky, finally found a buyer willing to pay retail: Amazon.

The e-commerce giant said on Wednesday that it would acquire the 97-year-old film and television studio for $8.45 billion — or about 40 percent more than other prospective buyers, including Apple and Comcast, thought MGM was worth….

So why did Amazon pay such a startling premium?

For starters, it can. The company has $71 billion in cash and a market capitalization of $1.64 trillion….

 Amazon most likely paid more than others thought MGM was worth because of its all-important Prime membership program.

In addition to paying Amazon $119 a year or $13 a month for free shipping and other perks — notably access to the Prime Video streaming service — households with Prime memberships typically spend $3,000 a year on Amazon. That is more than twice what households without the membership spend, according to Morgan Stanley. About 200 million people pay for Prime memberships.

“More and more Prime members are using video more often, spending more hours on there, so I think this is a way to add more content and more talent around movies,” said Brian Yarbrough, a senior analyst at Edward Jones.

“This isn’t one studio buying another,” he added. “If you’re Amazon, the perspective is what’s the potential for Prime membership, what is the potential for advertising.”…

(15) SAME BAT-TIME, SAME BAT-CHANNEL. Galactic Journey’s Erica Frank is tuning in to 1966 where Adam West’s Batman on the air: “[May 26, 1966] Batman: So Bad It’s Good?”.

I have been greatly enjoying the new Batman tv series. Campy costumes, over-the-top acting, wacky super-science gizmos, silly plots, the chance to see several of my favorite comic book characters on a screen; it’s all good fun….

The Batman Drinking Game

The best way to watch this show: Before it starts, get yourself a beer, glass of wine, or couple of shots of something harder. Every time you see a gizmo that can’t actually work as shown, take a sip. Every time Robin says, “Holy [something]!,” take a sip. When either of the Dynamic Duo is trapped, take a sip; if they’re both trapped, take two. Every time a supposedly valuable item, like a museum statue, is destroyed during the obligatory heroes-vs-thugs slugfest, take another sip. By the time the show is over, you’ll be pleasantly relaxed—unless you actually know much about science and technology, in which case, you’ll have left “relaxed” in the dust and be on your way to “blitzed.”…

(16) HUGO READING. Camestros Felapton reviews a finalist: “Hugo 2021: Black Sun (Between Earth & Sky 1) by Rebecca Roanhorse”.

…I thoroughly enjoyed this and despite the scale of the world-building, I found myself immersed into the setting very quickly. It is a book with a sense of bigness to it with quite different magical elements to it distinct to the individual characters. The growing tension as chapter by chapter we get closer to what will clearly be a very bad day for all concerned, is well executed and if I hadn’t been using the audiobook version I would probably have rushed through the final chapters.

I’ve enjoyed other works by Roanhorse but this is definitely a more skilful and mature work from a writer who started with a lot of promise. It sits in that sweet spot of delivering the vibe of the big magical saga but with enough innovation in setting and magic to feel fresh and original….

(17) AROUND THE BIG TOP. The latest sf review column in the Washington Post by Lavie Tidhar and Silvia Moreno-Garcia includes praise for Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes and The Illustrated Man. “Clowns are creepy. Let’s talk about horror, science-fiction and fantasy books that make the most of circus settings.”

The circus, with its built-in otherworldliness, is an ideal setting for fantasy, horror and science-fiction novels. Authors have been capitalizing on it for years. Stephen King terrified a whole generation with Pennywise the clown in 1986’s “It,” then tackled a carnival setting 27 years later in “Joyland.” In 2011, Erin Morgenstern charmed readers and scored a big hit with “The Night Circus.” So what other great fiction hides under the big top?…

(18) INVISIBLE INKED. “Inquisitor 1699 An Alternative Guide to Wonderland by Phi” at Fifteensquared analyzes all the answers to a fantasy-themed crossword, with the added bonus of a David Langford comment.

…By now, I was starting to see that the shaded letters would be forming some sort of figure, a pooka indeed and it seemed to be symmetrical. Also, I had enough of the early across answers to start to see the quotation forming. With “Years ago my mother say this world”. An internet search revealed, “Years ago my mother [used to say to me,] she’d say, [“In this world, Elwood, you must be” – she always called me Elwood] – “In this world, Elwood, you must be [oh so] smart or [oh so] pleasant.” Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant. You may quote me. ”…

(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Honest Trailers: The DCEU (400th episode), the Screen Junkies, for their 400th episode, portray the entire DC Extended Universe, a world where “Superman doesn’t want to save people, Batman’s a murderer, Wonder Woman’s an incel, and Harley Quinn takes three movies to break up with Joker, who looks like my coke dealer.”  And given a choice between all the quips in Marvel movies, and DC films where “everyone talks like a 14-year-old boy trying to sound badass while they’re reading a Wiki page,” wouldn’t you rather see an Air Bud movie?”

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, StephenfromOttawa, David Langford, Daniel Dern, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, John Hertz, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]

Pixel Scroll 3/27/21 Listen, Do You Want To Know A Pixel, Do You Promise Not To Scroll?

(1) VENTURING BEYOND. In “Let’s talk about wonderful Indian science-fiction and fantasy novels”, Silvia Moreno-Garcia and Lavie Tidhar introduce Washington Post readers to an array of South Asian works.

Amitav Ghosh made history in 1997 as the first Indian author to win the Arthur C. Clarke Award, for “The Calcutta Chromosome.” But Ghosh is just one of many writers of must-read Indian science-fiction and fantasy novels. Thankfully, many of these books are becoming more available to American readers — let’s hope this trend continues.There are many traditions of science fiction in South Asia, in several languages. “Runaway Cyclone,” by the brilliant polymath Jagadish Chandra Bose, first published in 1896 and anticipating the concept of the “butterfly effect,” is one of the earliest examples of Indian science fiction. A fantastic introduction to the Tamil pulps is “The Blaft Anthology of Tamil Pulp Fiction,” edited by Rakesh Khanna and translated by Pritham K. Chakravarthy. It really is a blast. A more recent anthology is “The Gollancz Book of South Asian Science Fiction,” edited by Tarun K. Saint, which includes several new translations….

(2) SIDE BY SIDE. [Item by Danny Sichel.] Music producer Andrew Huang has put up a video called “4 Composers Score The Same Show ft. Virtual Riot, Christian Henson, Tori Letzler, Mark Hadley”, which is exactly what the title implies: four different composers produce theme music for the intro sequence to a show about space exploration. As far as I can tell, “Spacetime” doesn’t actually exist. Not yet, anyway,

(3) ONCE AROUND THE BLOCK. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the March 24 Financial Times, gaming columnist Tom Faber discusses “pervasive gaming” or games that take place in the real world.

In 2004 a group of students at New York University developed Pac-Manhattan, a physical simulation of the 1980s arcade game which took the grid of streets around Washington Square park as it stage.  Five people dressed as Pac-Man and his neon ghost nemeses chased each other through the neighborhood, each communicating via walkie-talkie with a ‘player’ in a control room who gave advice on direction and speed.  Excited passers-by couldn’t resist joining in, tipping off the ghosts that they had just seen Pac-Man slip away down a side-road.

One player found Pac-Manhattan such a tough workout that he felt sick. It didn’t take long for developers to realise that video games could be beneficial in getting people to exercise in real life, perhaps best articulated in the ‘exer-game’ Zombies, Run!  This app turns your weekly jog into a gripping story of zombie outbreak as you listen to audio narratives that urge you to run faster to outpace the brain-hungry horde, pick up supplies for base camp, and unravel mysteries which include a cameo from writer Margaret Atwood.

(4) SHOULD DRAGON CON TAKE A STANCE? The discussion continues.

(5) A VERY BIG DEAL. After reading this Hollywood Reporter scoop, “George R.R. Martin Signs Massive Five-Year Overall Deal with HBO”, you might expect to see the streaming service renamed GRRM Max.

George R.R. Martin is founding a new content kingdom at HBO.

The Game of Thrones author just signed a massive overall deal to develop more programming for the network and its streaming service, HBO Max.

Sources say Martin’s contract spans five years and is worth mid-eight figures.

The news comes on the heels of a surge of Game of Thrones prequels being put into development. All told, the network has five projects based on Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire fantasy world in the development stage and one (House of the Dragon) that’s been greenlit to series.

The four-time Emmy winner is also developing for HBO the series Who Fears Death (an adaptation of Nnedi Okorafor’s award-winning 2011 postapocalyptic novel) and Roadmarks (an adaptation of Roger Zelazny’s 1979 fantasy novel), both of which he will executive produce.

(6) WHERE GOMER AND GOOBER TROD. So, it only took me 50+ years to notice this: “40 Acres” at Memory Alpha. (Hat tip to John King Tarpinian and Steven Paul Leiva.)

…The last time Star Trek utilized the backlot was for the filming of “The City on the Edge of Forever” on Friday 3 February 1967, where the “Mayberry” sets represented 1930 New York City. Several buildings and signs from The Andy Griffith Show can be seen in the episode, including Floyd’s Barber Shop.

(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • March 27, 1968 — On this day in 1968, Planet Of The Apes had it a full U.S. wide release after several smaller city wide openings. It was directed by Franklin J. Schaffner. It starred Charlton Heston, Roddy McDowall, Kim Hunter, Maurice Evans, James Whitmore, James Daly and Linda Harrison. The screenplay was by Michael Wilson and Rod Serling, and was somewhat based on Pierre Boulle‘s La Planète des Singes. It was not on the final Hugo ballot in either 1968 or 1969 for Best Dramatic Presentation, though it was met with critical acclaim and is widely regarded as a classic film and one of the best films of 1968. Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give it an 87% rating with over 117,000 having expressing an opinion! 

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born March 27, 1901 – Carl Barks.  If invention + execution + comedy isn’t the whole of greatness in comics – notice I presuppose there can be greatness in comics – it’s much, and that was Barks.  Will Eisner called him the Hans Christian Andersen of comic books, which CB’s work with Donald Duck would be enough to sustain: invented Duckburg, Scrooge McDuck, the Junior Woodchucks, the Beagle Boys, Gyro Gearloose, and the duck adventure stories.  Shazam, Inkpot, Disney Legends Awards.  Academy of Comic Book Arts, Eisner, and Hearst Cartoon Halls of Fame.  (Died 2000) [JH]
  • Born March 27, 1917 – Stanley Meltzoff.  A score of covers for us; outside our field, The AtlanticLifeNational GeographicThe Saturday Evening PostScientific American; became known for studies of marine life, particularly saltwater game fish.  Here is The Demolished Man.  Here is the May 55 Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction.  Here is Revolt in 2100.  Here is The War Against the Rull.  Posthumous artbook Stanley Meltzoff.  (Died 2006) [JH]
  • Born March 27, 1935 – Race Mathews, age 86.  Founding member of the Melbourne SF Club, with Membership No. 1.  Went into politics, held Government office during Aussiecon 2 the 43rd Worldcon; read his speech here and here.  Later reflections on SF in Victoria, Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine 3.  [JH]
  • Born March 27, 1942 Michael York, 79. I remember him in the Babylon 5  “A Late Delivery from Avalon” episode as a man who believed himself to be King Arthur returned. Very chilling. I also enjoyed him as D’Artagnan in the Musketeers films and remember him as Logan 5 in Logan’s Run. So what on his genre list that really impresses you? (CE) 
  • Born March 27, 1952 Dana Stabenow, 69. Though better known for her superb Kate Shugak detective series, she does have genre work to her credit in the excellent Star Svensdotter space series. The latter is available at the usual digital suspects. (CE)
  • Born March 27, 1953 Patricia Wrede, 68. She is a founding member of The Scribblies, along with Pamela Dean, Emma Bull, Will Shetterly, Steven Brust and Nate Bucklin. Not to be confused with the Pre-Joycean Fellowship which overlaps in membership. Outside of her work for the the Liavek shared-world anthology created and edited by Emma Bull and Will Shetterly, there are several series she has running including Lyra (Shadow Magic)Enchanted Forest Chronicles and Cecelia and Kate (co-written with Caroline Stevermer). She’s also written the novelizations of several Star Wars films including Star Wars, Episode I – The Phantom Menace and Star Wars, Episode II – Attack of the Clones in what are listed as ‘Jr. Novelizations. (CE) 
  • Born March 27, 1962 – Kevin J. Anderson, age 59.  A hundred thirty novels, some with co-authors including wife Rebecca Moesta, a hundred eighty shorter stories; anthologies; essays, letters, prefaces, reviews; interviewed in ClarkesworldGalaxy’s EdgeLightspeedSF ChronicleVector.  Geffen, Golden Duck Awards.  Guest of Honor at Baycon 1999, Philcon 2004, Ad Astra 27, MidSouthCon 28, Rustycon XXX, Archon 34 (all with Moesta), OryCon 27, LepreCon 31, LibertyCon 26 – to name a few.  [JH]
  • Born March 27, 1969 Pauley Perrette, 52. Though she’s best known for playing Abby Sciuto on NCIS, she does have some genre roles. She was Ramona in The Singularity Is Near, a film based off Ray Kurzweil’s The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology. Next up is the most excellent Superman vs. The Elite in which she voices Lois Lane. Let’s see… she had a recurring role on Special Unit 2 as Alice Cramer but I never watched that series so I’ve no I idea what it was. (CE) 
  • Born March 27, 1970 – Gina Ochsner, age 51.  A novel, two shorter stores for us.  Outside our field, stories in Glimmer TrainThe Kenyon ReviewThe New YorkerPloughsharesTin House.  Grub Street Book Prize, Shirley Jackson and Flannery O’Connor Awards, Kurt Vonnegut Prize.  [JH]
  • Born March 27, 1971 Nathan Fillion, 50. Certainly best known for being Captain Malcolm “Mal” Reynolds in Firefly ‘verse. An interesting case of just how much of a character comes from the actor I think. In his case, I’d say most of it. He voiced Green Lantern/Hal Jordan in Justice League: DoomJustice League: The Flashpoint Paradox and Justice League: Throne of AtlantisThe Death of Superman and Reign of the Supermen. Oh, and he appeared in a recurring role in Buffy the Vampire Slayer as Caleb. (CE) 
  • Born March 27, 1981 – Liliana Colanzi, Ph.D., age 40.  Four short stories, one collection available in English.  Premio Internacional de Literatura Aura Estrada.  Co-editor of Latin American Speculative Fiction.  Teaches at Cornell.  [JH]

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • Lio finds that “real” robots scoff at sitcom robots.

(10) FALCON 9 BLAZES BACK INTO ATMOSPHERE. [Item by rcade.] Video shot in Cannon Beach, Oregon, Thursday night shows the spectacular breakup of an object coming back to Earth as a girl asks, “Mom, are we OK?”

Ars Technica senior space editor Eric Berger reports that it was the second stage of the SpaceX Falcon rocket breaking up three weeks after the launch put 60 Starlink satellites in low-Earth orbit. “A Falcon 9 rocket making an uncontrolled re-entry looked like an alien armada”.

The entire mission was nominal, except for a problem with the rocket’s second stage. Typically, within an orbit or two of launching, the Falcon 9 rocket’s Merlin vacuum engine will relight and nudge the second stage downward so that it harmlessly re-enters Earth’s atmosphere into the Pacific Ocean. …

However, there was not enough propellant after this launch to ignite the Merlin engine and complete the burn. So the propellant was vented into space, and the second stage was set to make a more uncontrolled re-entry into the atmosphere.

(11) WRITING CHALLENGE ACCEPTED. John Scalzi is auditioning a sentence for his new book.

(12) LEFTOVER CANDY. [Item by Dann.] Mark “Minty” Bishop has a “10 things” video about the movie Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.  He managed to have most of his list be things that I had not already heard about this classic movie. “10 Things You Didn’t Know About Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

(13) PAN, TEXT AND MOVIE COMPARED. [Item by Dann.] The Disney Story Origins podcast has released a two-episode review of Peter Pan.  Author and podcaster Paul J. Hale compares the classic movie with the book and the play written by JM Barrie.  He, perhaps unwittingly but probably not, also provides some illumination on the Disney movie Hook.  As always, Paul provides an extensive bibliography for those that want to read a bit more.

(14) JUPITER’S LEGACY. SYFY Wire has revelations about a new series in “Mark Millar teases Jupiter’s Legacy at WonderCon 2021”.

Earlier this week, we reported on some quotes from Mark Millar about Netflix‘s upcoming television adaptation of his seminal comic book: Jupiter’s Legacy. Millar, who created the IP with artist Frank Quitely, teased the sheer scope of the show, stating: “The story starts in 1929 and runs until the end of time. It runs through all time and space and explains the mystery of human existence.” He also described the project as “the greatest superhero epic of all time.”

The show’s ensemble cast doubled down on that bold sentiment during a virtual WonderCon panel released Friday.

“I feel like this is the ultimate [superhero story] because it’s so detailed and you get to stay with these characters — with all their flaws — for over a hundred years,” said Mike Wade, who plays the role of Fitz Small/The Flare, the heart and soul of the world’s greatest team of heroes known as The Union. “It’s like an evolution of the genre. I don’t think there’s any going back after Jupiter’s Legacy.”…

Ben Daniels (Walter Sampson/Brain-Wave, older brother of Josh Duhamel’s Sheldon Sampson/The Utopian) added that there’s some real “gravitas” to the story. “It’s first and foremost a drama,” he said, “and then suddenly, we are superheroes as well. But it’s the drama of it all that is really strong … these characters are all shades of gray and it’s really exciting to see how that becomes a metaphor for America. But then it’s much more universal well … It feels really fresh and current. It feels like it could be written now with the state of the world.”

(15) A LITTLE MISTAKE. CrimeReads’ Olivia Rutigliano reminds everyone about “That Time Scientists Discovered a Creature in Loch Ness and Then Realized It Was a Sunken Prop from The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes”.

I just wanted to remind you all of the time, in 2016, when a Norwegian organization called Kongsberg Maritime sent a high-tech robot down into Loch Ness to scan the depths, and it sent back sonar scans of a creature that looked exactly like the Loch Ness monster. Sadly, very sadly, this turned out to be a model of the Loch Ness Monster built for Billy Wilder’s film The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes, which had accidentally sunk into the Loch during filming in 1969….

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “The Snyder Cut and The Power of Fandom” on YouTube, the Royal Ocean Film Society notes the Snyder Cut is the latest episode of fans demanding director’s cuts or continuing series (remember the campaign for Jericho?) but that the Snyder Cut fracas shows “there are more fans now and they’re louder than ever before.”

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Danny Sichel, Andrew Porter, rcade, Dann, Rob Thornton, John Hertz, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]