Pixel Scroll 8/23/23 I Yelled “Pixel!” When I Scrolled Into The Chocolate

(1) IMAGINARY PAPERS 15. The latest issue of Imaginary Papers, ASU Center for Science and the Imagination’s quarterly newsletter about science fiction worldbuilding, futures thinking, and imagination, is out today.

In this issue, Hispanic studies scholar Mateo Díaz Choza writes about the 1968 speculative fiction story “Tesis,” by José B. Adolph; film studies student Devan Hakkal writes about the gloriously strange 2010 video game Nier: Replicant; and we cover UNESCO’s new open-access book Reporting on Artificial Intelligence: A Handbook for Journalism Educators.

Tesis (1968)

A spacecraft is crossing some indeterminate region of outer space. Inside, a group of students presents their final projects to Professor Locust. His favorite student, Andros, introduces a case study: an unknown planet will be struck by a comet, and violent precipitation and inundations will follow. Andros describes the planet as a primitive place where civilization is in its early stages, though its inhabitants have developed agriculture, modes of transportation, and small cities. When Professor Locust asks Andros how he will resolve the issue of preserving this young civilization, Andros enigmatically answers, “solution B.”…

The full archive of Imaginary Papers is available to read here.

(2) LANSDALE Q&A. Shelf Awareness brings us “Reading with… Joe R. Lansdale”.

Book you’ve bought for the cover: 

A lot of Ace Double science fiction books. There’s no single book I’ve bought for the cover, but many. But the Ace Doubles were great. You got two books for the price of one, short books, and these really outstanding covers that were sometimes better than the contents. I remember one book I bought because of a giant lizard man approaching a human. They were both on a netting in the trees–and I think they were armed–and from there I filled in the story. When I actually read the book, it was nowhere as good as in my imagination. But there were many that fulfilled my expectations. Philip José Farmer was one.

(3) SMOFCON REMINDER. Smofcon, an annual conference for convention planners, will be held December 1-3 in Providence, RI. The event will be fully hybrid convention so members can attend from anywhere. Tammy Coxen explained on Facebook:

At Smofcon, we gather to discuss many aspects of convention planning, at both the local level and at the Worldcon and other large conference level. We look for old friends, make new ones, attend panels on a variety of subjects about convention running, and express our views on best ways to do something. We often get recruited to work on other conventions — or recruit others to come work on our next convention.

While Smofcon covers a variety of topics, this year’s program will have a particular focus on running hybrid conventions.

Learn more and sign up at the Smofcon 40 website.

(4) LEARNEDLEAGUE. [Item by David Goldfarb.] Another SFF question cropped up in the ”Notable Women of Asia” mini-league.

Persis Khambatta was the winner of the 1965 Miss Femina India pageant, a contestant in that year’s Miss Universe pageant, and the first Indian person to present at the Academy Awards. But you may also know her as Deltan Starfleet officer Lt. Ilia in what 1979 science fiction film, a role for which she shaved her head.

This is of course Star Trek: the Motion Picture. It had a 57% get rate, with 13% giving the most common wrong answer of Alien.

(5) A CONDUCTOR’S LIFE. While looking up info about Somtow Sucharitkul for a post today I came across one of the maestro’s anecdotes in Martin Morse Wooster’s 2015 “Operacon Report”:

…Somtow also told about the time he tried to bring an elephant for a performance of Aida. He didn’t know that elephants in Bangkok had to be licensed, and was surprised when the pachyderm police showed up and arrested the elephant, taking him to the elephant impoundment lot or wherever it is that unlicensed elephants in Bangkok go. The resulting performance of Aida was elephant-free….

(6) AUSSIE FANHISTORY IN THE WORKS. Leigh Edmonds announced on Facebook he finished drafting the first part of the history of Australian science fiction fandom.

This project was ordered on my during Aussiecon 4 in 2010 and has taken 13 years to get this far partly because of the necessities of daily life. Partly also because I had expected the entire project of writing a history of Australian fandom up to Aussiecon in 1975 would run to around 50,000 words and the part that I have just completed, which covers the period from 1936 to about 1960, runs to just on 75,300 words. Now it’s time to write an introduction, polish up the text, find some photos, an editor and indexer (hint, hint) and get it published. I still have no idea what to call it.

(7) UNDER COVER OF DARKNESS. While we’re all preparing for the upcoming eclipses, Michael Toman suggests Filers will enjoy hearing Cordelia Willis, Courtney Willis, and Connie Willis tell about family trips they have taken to see eclipses. This 2018 recording is preserved at StoryCorps Archive. There’s a transcript, too. This excerpt quotes Cordelia:

The eclipse itself is very short, you know… Then I remember as the sun started to reappear people yelling out “Encore!” and I did not know what that word meant. And everyone around me laughed and I remember turning to my parents and saying “What does encore mean, what does that mean?” And they said it means “You are so good. We wanted you to do it again.”

(8) MEMORY LANE

2016 – [Written by Cat Eldridge from a choice by Mike Glyer.]

David Hutchison’s Fractured Europe Sequence is a brilliant telling of a Europe fractured into hundreds, maybe thousands, of political polities. Europe in Winter was published by Solaris seven years ago. It was the third of the five Fractured Europe Sequence novels. There may a sixth novel someday Hutchison says. 

It’s an interesting series as the novels share the same setting but aren’t connected though the characters are common to the series except the final novel which has an all new cast of characters.

There are also two stories. Remember my wish that more stories were sold separately? Good luck on reading these two — one is in Barcelona Tales, the other is in London Centric: Tales of Future London which I actually have.

Our Beginning comes from Europe in Winter that won a BSFA. The series actually nominated for a lot of Awards include a Campbell Memorial, a Clarke, multiple BSFAs, a Dragon and even a Kitschies.

And now for our Beginning….

TRANS-EUROPE EXPRESS

THEY ALMOST MISSED the train. They had always planned to arrive close to departure time, so that Amanda had to spend as little time as possible on her feet, but there was a flash mob on the Place de la Concorde and all the streets leading into it were blocked.

“What the hell is this?” muttered William, who was driving. “Anti-Union protesters,” Kenneth said, reading the placards being carried by the crowds boiling between the traffic.

“Well, God has a sense of irony, anyway,” muttered Amanda, shifting uncomfortably on the back seat.

William looked back at her. “How are you feeling?” 

“I’m all right,” she said. “Don’t worry about me. Can we go another way?” 

They were in a make of vehicle nicknamed La Rage by the French, basically a looming black mediaeval fortress festooned with bullbars and lights and antitheft devices. Kenneth had wanted something more anonymous, but William said the only thing Parisian drivers understood was force. It had one obvious drawback; although its defensive systems could cause epileptic fits and rectal bleeding in anyone stupid enough to try to steal or attack it, it was too large to go down many of Paris’s lesser thoroughfares.

“We’re stuck,” William said, twisting left and right to look out of the windows and hovering his finger over the icon on the dash display which triggered a 10,000 volt charge through the skin of the car, as protesters bumped and pushed by between the line of vehicles.”

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 23, 1868 Edgar Lee Masters. Author of the Spoon River Anthology which, since each poem is by someone who’s dead, should count as genre, shouldn’t it?  Well, I think so even if you don’t, so there. (Died 1950.)
  • Born August 23, 1927 Peter Wyngarde. Not a lead actor in any genre series but interesting nonetheless. For instance, he shows up in the two Sherlock Holmes series, one with Peter Cushing and one with Jeremy Brett. He’s in a series of Doctor Who with the Fifth Doctor and he faces off against the classic Avenger pairing of Steed and Peel. He shows up as Number Two in The Prisoner as well. (Died 2018.)
  • Born August 23, 1929 Vera Miles, 94. Lila Crane in Psycho which she reprised in Psycho II. On a much more family friendly note, she’s Silly Hardy in Tarzan’s Hidden Jungle, the very last of the twelve Tarzan pictures released by RKO. She has done one-offs on Buck Rogers in Twentieth CenturyFantasy IslandThe Twilight ZoneAlfred Hitchcock PresentsI Spy and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. 
  • Born August 23, 1931 Barbara Eden, 92. Jeannie on I Dream of Jeannie. Her first genre role however was on Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea as Lt. Cathy Connors, and she’d show up a few years later as Greta Heinrich on The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm. She was Angela Benedict in The Seven Faces of Dr. Lao, the wonderful film version of Charles Finney’s novel, The Circus of Dr. Lao. Some thirty-five years after I Dream of Jeannie went off the air, she had a recurring role as Aunt Irma on Sabrina, the Teenage Witch. Her latest genre was just two years ago, Mrs. Claus in My Adventures with Santa. 
  • Born August 23, 1944 Karl Alexander. Author of Time after Time which was filmed as Time after Time as directed and written by Nicholas Meyer. Cast includes Malcolm McDowell, Mary Steenburgen and David Warner. (A thirteen-episode series would happen in 2017.) His sequel of Jaclyn the Ripper is not as well known, nor is his Time-Crossed Lovers novel. Time after Time was nominated for a Hugo at Noreascon II, the year Alien won. (Died 2015.)
  • Born August 23, 1966 Charley Boorman, 57. He played a young Mordred in Excalibur which was directed by his father (and he was joined by his older sister Katrine Boorman who played Ygraine, Mordred’s grandmother) He was Tommy Markham in The Emerald Forest, and had an uncredited role in Alien

(10) ALIENS ALL OVER THE WORLD TONIGHT. “Invasion season 2 review: Apple’s sci-fi drama ramps up the tension” says critic Andrew Webster in The Verge.

…One of the most notable things about Invasion is its structure. The show follows a handful of characters spread across the globe, each dealing with the invading aliens in different ways. Season 1 was all about survival for pretty much the whole cast, whether it was a mother in America trying to keep her kids alive, a bus full of students stranded and alone in England, or a Japanese communications expert desperately trying to contact a lost astronaut who also happened to be her secret girlfriend. But in season 2, most everybody has a bit more direction, and it makes the show move forward with more purpose and intensity.

The new season picks up a few months after the spiky alien blobs first made their presence known, and things aren’t going so well. Major cities look like war zones, with most people having fled or died, while those who remain struggle to fight against the very tough to kill invaders. If it weren’t for the looming spaceships on the horizon, the show could be mistaken for any number of postapocalyptic series early on…

(11) TENNANT IN STAR WARS PROPERTY. “Who Is Huyang? David Tennant’s ‘Ahsoka’ Character, Explained” at The Mary Sue.

… Professor Huyang is a droid who made his first appearance in the animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars. He appeared in a total of three episodes in season 5, accompanying Yoda (Tom Kane) and Tano (Ashley Eckstein) to the planet Ilum with a group of younglings so they could find Kyber crystals to assemble their lightsabers. This is an important rite of passage for a youngling on their journey to becoming a Jedi. Huyang has been aiding younglings at this stage of their training for centuries and was specifically built to serve this purpose….

…Not much is known about Huyang’s role in Ahsoka, but we can probably expect him to be just as loyal and filled with stories and wisdom as ever. Additionally, we’re expecting a top-notch performance from Tennant, who took home an Emmy award for Outstanding Performer in an Animated Program for his role as Huyang in Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Tennant’s performances brings so much depth, mystery, and allure to the character. Whether it’s another award-winning performance or adding further context to this ancient droid, Huyang’s role in Ahsoka holds quite a bit of potential.

(12) VES HONOREES. Yahoo! is standing by as “Visual Effects Society Reveals 2023 Founders Award & Lifetime Honorees”.

Oscar-winning VFX supervisor and VES founding member Tim McGovern will receive the 2023 VES Founders Award, and the group has awarded lifetime VES memberships to McGovern, archivist and curator Sandra Joy Aguilar, producer and AMPAS Governor Brooke Breton and VFX artist agent and executive Bob Coleman.

(13) RYAN GEORGE VIDEO. It’s great to be a genius, of course, but that’s not who we’re talking to here: “The First Guy To Ever Own A Bird”.

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, David Goldfarb, Joey Eschrich, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Russell Letson.]

Somtow Sucharitkul Honored as National Artist in Thailand

Congratulations to Thai composer, conductor and sff writer Somtow Sucharitkul who is among the 12 selected as National Artists in Thailand’s Cultural Excellence Awards 2022.

The twelve honorees were chosen by the National Committee for Culture, chaired by Minister of Culture Itthipol Khunpluem, “outstanding individuals who have made significant contributions to the field of arts and culture in Thailand.”

Somtow is being recognized for his work in the Performing Arts:

Mr. Somtow Sucharitkul, an internationally acclaimed contemporary music composer and founder of the Bangkok Opera Foundation.

Somtow told Facebook friends:

Needless to say this is a watershed moment in my career. While I have achievement a fair amount of recognition around the world, being recognized in one’s own home has a special resonance.

As I told the interviewer from Thai Post this afternoon, an honor like this can be a great enabler in terms of my work with this country’s young musicians and my ability to have my work speak to the people of this country.

When the minister of culture called me after the official announcement, he told me that the committee’s vote had been unanimous.

… I would especially like to thank my mother, whose delight in this means more to me even than the award itself. I am saddened that my father is no longer here to rejoice with the rest of my family; he missed it by only a few months.

The Department of Cultural Promotion will organize a ceremony to present shields and pins of honor to the 12 national artists. There will also be an exhibition showcasing their works will “to educate and inspire the public on the rich history of Thai arts and culture.”

Pixel Scroll 7/28/23 I’m Sure Painting Pixels The Color Of Stars Was Considered A Good Idea

(1) KUANG CONSIDERS ONLINE BOOK COMMUNITIES. “I don’t choose books based on the aggregate rating as if they are skincare products, nor do I think any critical verdict is the final one,” Rebecca F. Kuang tells Guardian readers in “Goodreads is right to divide opinions, wrong to boil them down”.

…Which brings us to what has been dubbed “review-bombing” by the New York Times – that is, critical pile-ons that can derail a book before it releases. Frankly, authors have been sighing and shrugging about this for years. It’s unclear whether Goodreads can make any meaningful fixes, or whether they have any incentive to. Authors have limited options – it rarely ends well when authors barge into spaces meant for readers. So the duty is left to readers to think carefully about how we write and engage with reviews. I am certainly a naive idealist here, but I retain this faith we could wrestle with online toxicity by taking our own arguments seriously before we post them. What purpose does our outrage serve? Who benefits if this book tanks? Who is making claims about this book? What passages do they cite? Do we agree with their interpretation? Are those passages represented in good faith, or are they plucked out of context? For that matter, how many people leaving these reviews have actually read the book?…

(2) DIRDA AT READERCON. [Item by Evelyn C. Leeper.] Michael Dirda, a mainstream reviewer who is also an unabashed science fiction fan, published his Readercon Report in last Thursday’s Washington Post: “At Readercon, print is still king — and thank goodness for that”.

…As its name implies, Readercon focuses on books. Nowadays, many science fiction conventions — not just San Diego Comic-Con and its offshoots — emphasize what one might call spectacle: blockbuster films, television series, video games, cosplay. But at Readercon, print is still king. At the entrance to the booksellers’ room, a little table displayed a memorial photograph of David Hartwell, the most important science fiction book editor of the past 50 years, who died in 2016. It bore the legend “Hero of Readercon.”…

…I also caught up with Gil Roth, literary podcaster and interviewer extraordinaire (check out “The Virtual Memories Show” and his zine, “Haiku for Business Travelers”), and short-story writer Eileen Gunn, who in her earlier years was director of advertising at Microsoft — one of her best-known stories is the appropriately wry “Stable Strategies for Middle Management.” At various times, I bumped into horror writer Scott Edelman, who in his youth worked at Marvel Comics, and exchanged greetings with Paul Witcover, author of that provocative mash-up “Lincolnstein,” and Neil Clarke, editor of the magazine Clarkesworld. During a Saturday night mixer called “Meet the Pros,” I gratefully sipped a gin and tonic with the distinguished anthologist Ellen Datlow and met a dozen young writers….

…My lively Machen panel was moderated by the eminent antiquarian book dealer Henry Wessells and comprised Michael Cisco, a professor at the City College of New York and author of “Weird Fiction: A Genre Study”; the fantasy artist known as The Joey Zone; Hand and me. On the Verne panel, I sat next to Sarah Smith, a novelist and pioneer of hypertext (“King of Space”) who has spearheaded the recovery of my late friend Thomas M. Disch’s long-lost computer game “Amnesia” and brought out its full text and programming notes in the book “Total ‘Amnesia.’”…

(3) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites listeners to bite into baklava with Charlie Jane Anders in Episode 203 of his Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Charlie Jane Anders

My guest this time around is Charlie Jane Anders, who’s won the Hugo, Nebula, Sturgeon, Lambda Literary, Crawford and Locus Awards. The final volume of her Unstoppable trilogy, Promises Stronger Than Darkness (the first two were Victories Greater Than Death and Dreams Bigger Than Heartbreak), was published just shortly before our chat. Her 2016 novel, All the Birds in the Sky, won the Nebula, Locus and Crawford awards. Other books include the Locus Award-winning short story collection Even Greater Mistakes, and the Hugo Award-winning And Never Say You Can’t Survive, about how to use creative writing to get through hard times. Her novelette “Six Months, Three Days” won a Hugo Award, and her short story “Don’t Press Charges and I Won’t Sue” won a Theodore Sturgeon Award.

Charlie Jane is also the co-creator of the transgender mutant hero Escapade, who was introduced in Marvel Voices: Pride 2022, and has been appearing in the long-running comic New Mutants, with Charlie Jane writing. She was a founding editor of io9.com, a blog about science fiction and futurism, and went on to become its editor-in-chief. With former guest of this podcast Annalee Newitz, Charlie Jane co-hosts a podcast about the meaning of science fiction called Our Opinions Are Correct.

We discussed how her childhood fantasy of aliens whisking her away from Earth gave birth to her Unstoppable trilogy, the way writing a YA meant she had to completely change the way she writes, the challenges of bringing a large cast of characters to life while giving them their own inner lives, why she has problems with Clarke’s Third Law but was willing to roll with it for her new trilogy, the difficulties of still being at work on the third book of a trilogy when the first was already in the hands of readers, how growing as a writer means embracing the messiness of the process, her reaction to being called “this generation’s Le Guin,” what she had to learn to be able to write comics, and so much more.

(4) IN THE PINK. Leonard Maltin’s Movie Crazy reviews this summer’s blockbuster in “Barbie: It’s About Time”.

…America Ferrera plays the human whose disaffection for Barbie sets the story in motion, and she gets to deliver a remarkable screed about woman’s role(s) in society that I suspect will be excerpted and quoted for years to come. Ariana Greenblatt is very good as her sullen adolescent daughter.

When I became a father I searched for movies that would show my daughter positive role models, and it was tough going. Barbie makes up for lost time and should warm the hearts of parents and daughters alike—even if the girls don’t get every gag or reference in the script….

(5) LEARNEDLEAGUE. [Item by David Goldfarb.] The One-Day Special quiz on Iain M. Banks’ Culture novels is now over: you can see the questions here. There was also a quiz on comic books, which tend to be at least genre-adjacent: Just Images Comic Book Covers.

(6) MEDIA DEATH CULT. Moid Moidelhoff interviews Tim Powers on writing, researching and being friends with Philip K. Dick.

(7) HEAR FROM RAY NAYLER. Alan Bailey and Cat Rambo interviewed Ray Nayler for the If This Goes On (Don’t Panic) podcast.

In this episode, Alan and Cat talk with author Ray Nayler about his novel the Mountain in the Sea, Secular Buddhism, animal behavior, interconnectedness, AI, and much more.

(8) EMMY AWARDS BROADCAST BEING RESCHEDULED. “Emmy Awards Will Be Postponed Because of Actors’ and Writers’ Strikes” reports the New York Times.

The fallout from the Hollywood actors’ and writers’ strikes continues.

The 75th Emmy Awards will be postponed because of the strikes, according to a person briefed on the plans. The ceremony, originally planned for Sept. 18, does not yet have a new date but will most likely be moved to January, the person said.

Emmy organizers are hopeful that would give the Hollywood studios enough time to settle the labor disputes. A new date will be finalized in the next few weeks….

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 28, 1866 Beatrix Potter. Probably best known for Tales of Peter Rabbit but I’d submit her gardening skills were second to none as well as can be seen in the Green Man review of Marta McDowell’s Beatrix Potter’s A Gardening Life.(Died 1943.)
  • Born July 28, 1926 T. G. L. Cockcroft. Genre bibliographer of some note such as The Tales of Clark Ashton Smith, and despite being resident in New Zealand, he was a prolific fanzine contributor and kept in contact with fandom everywhere from an early age. None of his works are currently in-print.  Mike has an excellent look at him here. (Died 2013.)
  • Born July 28, 1928 Angélica Gorodischer. Argentinian writer whose Kalpa Imperial: The Greatest Empire That Never Was got translated by Ursula Le Guin into English. Likewise Prodigies has been translated by Sue Burke for Small Beer Press. She won a World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement. You can read Lightspeed Magazine’s interview with her here. (Died 2022.)
  • Born July 28, 1931 Jay Kay Klein. I’ll direct you to Mike’s excellent look at him here. I will note that he was a published author having “On Conquered Earth” in If, December 1967 as edited by Frederik Pohl. I don’t think it’s been republished since. (Died 2012.)
  • Born July 28, 1941 Bill Crider. Primarily a writer of mystery fiction, his extensive bibliography includes three stories in the Sherlock Holmes metaverse: “The Adventure of the Venomous Lizard”, “The Adventure of the St. Marylebone Ghoul” and “The Case of the Vanished Vampire”. He also wrote a Sookie Stackhouse short story, “Don’t Be Cruel” in the Charlaine Harris Metaverse. His “Doesn’t Matter Any Matter More” short story won a Sidewise Awards for Alternate History and his “Mike Gonzo and the UFO Terror” won a Golden Duck Award. (Died 2018.)
  • Born July 28, 1966 Larry Dixon, 57. Husband of Mercedes Lackey who collaborates with her on such series as SERRAted Edge and The Mage Wars Trilogy. He contributed artwork to Wizards of the Coast’s Dungeons & Dragons source books, including Oriental AdventuresEpic Level Handbook, and Fiend Folio. Dixon and Lackey are the CoNZealand’s Author Guests of Honour.
  • Born July 28, 1969 Tim Lebbon, 54. For my money his best series is The Hidden Cities one he did with Christopher Golden though his Relics series with protagonist Angela Gough is quite superb as well. He dips into the Hellboy universe with two novels, Unnatural Selection and Fire Wolves, rather capably.

(10) HOWARD THE DUCK TURNS 50. In November, Marvel will host a birthday blowout for Howard the Duck.

Howard the Duck’s 50th anniversary one-shot will be a giant-sized spectacle that will reunite writer Chip Zdarsky and artist Joe Quinones, the sensational creative team behind Howard’s smash hit and critically acclaimed 2015 ongoing series. …This collection of all-new tales will tackle all the different paths Howard could’ve taken during his offbeat adventures, and pose fascinating questions for this furious fowl’s future! 

 Meet Howard. He’s a hard-boiled P.I. with problems by the duckload. But a cosmic, all-seeing friend(?) known as the Peeper(!) is giving him a chance to see what his life COULD be! The joys he COULD have! All the ways his life COULD suck way less than it does now! In other words: “Whaugh If?”

 Here’s some of the craziness that readers can look forward to:

 Emmy-nominated writer and comedian Daniel Kibblesmith and acclaimed artist Annie Wu put Howard in the Oval Office! Inspired by a classic tale from Steve Gerber and Gene Colan’s 70s’ run, Howard the Duck has been sworn in as President. Find out if how gutsy he is as Commander in Chief when the Earth is invaded by aliens in this startling political satire!

Popular video game designer and writer Merritt K makes her Marvel Comics debut alongside artist Will Robson with a cosmic comedy that sees Howard the Duck leaving the chaos of Earth behind to take over as leader of the Guardians of the Galaxy! Playing Star-Lord is all fun and games for Howard until some of his most iconic classic villains band together to take him out once and for all!

For more information, visit Marvel.com.

(11) RUH-ROH! “Scooby-Doo! and Krypto, Too Release Date Announced”Comicbook.com knows when it is.

Almost a year after a data breach revealed plans for a Scooby-Doo! original movie featuring Krypto the Super-Dog, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment has officially announced Scooby-Doo! and Krypto, Too!, a direct-to-home release that will be available in September on Digital, as well as on DVD at Walmart stores in the U.S. The cast list does not immediately reference the Legion of Super-Heroes, who were spotted in screenshots in the 2022 leak, but it seems likely this is the same film. That movie, reportedly titled Scooby-Doo! Meets Krypto, appeared to use character designs from the 2006-2007 Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes show.

Confirmed to appear in Scooby-Doo! and Krypto, Too! are Superman, Lex Luthor, Lois Lane, Mercy Graves, Joker, Harley Quinn, Solmon Grundy, and Wonder Woman. Tara Strong, who became famous for playing Harley Quinn, will return to the role for the movie.

… The movie will be available in the US to purchase Digitally at retailers everywhere, and on DVD only at Walmart on September 26, 2023 …

(12) BETTER THAN LINEN? “Energy-efficient fabric helps wearers beat heat waves and cold snaps”Physics World has the story.

A new thermoregulating textile keeps its wearers comfortable with a minimal amount of energy input thanks to a conductive polymer that can be modified to adjust how much infrared radiation it sheds. According to the textile’s developers at the University of Chicago, North Carolina State University and Duke University (all in the US), the new “wearable variable-emittance device”, or WeaVE, could be used to make next-generation smart thermal management fabrics.

Many animals are good at manipulating infrared (IR) radiation to heat themselves up and cool themselves down. Saharan silver ants, for example, dissipate excess heat thanks to triangular hairs on their bodies that reflect differing amounts of near-IR rays depending on the position of the Sun. Human bodies, in contrast, absorb and lose heat mainly through IR radiation with a wavelength of 10 microns, and our skin is not capable of controlling this wavelength range in real time to help us regulate body temperature. Researchers  are therefore developing textiles that can do this for us….

(13) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Daniel Dern spotted this parody, “Harry Potter But A Barbie Trailer (Barbie Potter)” from SynthCinemaX.

Our new trailer “Harry Potter But A Barbie” (Barbie Potter)! In this amazing fantasy video, you’ll get to see familiar wizards from the world of Harry Potter in unexpected roles. Imagine Robert Downey Jr. as Albus Dumbledore, Ryan Gosling as Ron Weasley, Emma Watson as Hermione Granger, and, of course, Daniel Radcliffe returning as Harry Potter!

And also “Star Wars directed by Guy Ritchie”, put together with an assist from Midjourney.

(14) VIDEO OF OTHER DAYS. Somtow Sucharitkul reminded readers today they can see a video of his appearance on SF Vortex in the Nineties discussing Dracula with Dr J Gordon Melton and Norine Dresser.

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

Pixel Scroll 7/27/23 Take Back The Links, Take Back The Scrolls

(1) WORLDCON VENUE CONSTRUCTION REPORT. A Weibo user posted a video showing progress at the Chengdu Science and Technology Museum and Science Fiction Museum construction site. Here is a screencap from the video.

(2) WHEN FACEBOOK IS OUT OF TUNE. Somtow Sucharitkul shared his good-natured response to an annoying example of Facebook moderation.

(3) FIGHTING BACK. “Booksellers Move to the Front Lines of the Fight Against Book Bans in Texas” reports the New York Times.

With a book-rating law set to take effect in September, a group of booksellers, along with publishers and authors, filed suit to argue that it is unconstitutional.

A group of booksellers, publishers and authors filed a lawsuit on Tuesday to stop a new law in Texas that would require stores to rate books based on sexual content, arguing the measure would violate their First Amendment rights and be all but impossible to implement.

The law, set to take effect in September, would force booksellers to evaluate and rate each title they sell to schools, as well as books they sold in the past. If they fail to comply, stores would be barred from doing business with schools….

…Charley Rejsek, the chief executive of BookPeople in Austin, said that complying with the law would be impossible. BookPeople — which takes its name from Ray Bradbury’s novel “Fahrenheit 451,” in which a group of people try to preserve books in a world where they are burned — was founded in 1970, Rejsek said. The store does not have records of titles sold over the last half century, much less a way to know which of them are still in circulation — but under the law, BookPeople would be responsible for rating those books.

“I don’t see a clear path forward for complying with the law as written,” she said. “I don’t know how I can rate them if I don’t have any records.”

Going forward, she said, BookPeople would have to read and rate many thousands of titles requested by school districts. Some might be in languages her staff cannot read, she said.

“I want to work with schools,” she said. “But I just literally can’t find a way to comply.”

(4) BLERDCON. Listen as NPR’s “Here and Now” shares how “Blerdcon celebrates Black nerd fandom throughout the year.

While summer may be the season for fan conventions, Blerdcon is unique in catering expressly to Black nerds (or blerds).

Founder and CEO Hilton George explains the rise of Black nerdom and the events he puts on to celebrate it throughout the year.

(5) FAMED MYSTERY BOOKSTORE OWNER. The Bookshop Podcast’s Mandy Jackson-Beverly interviews Otto Penzler of The Mysterious Bookshop.

In this episode, I chat with Otto Penzler, owner of The Mysterious Bookshop about publishing, the genre of mystery and crime fiction, female mystery writers, and collecting first editions.

Opened in 1979 by Otto Penzler, The Mysterious Bookshop is the oldest mystery specialist book store in America. Previously located in midtown, the bookshop now calls Tribeca its home.

The bookshop stocks the finest selection of new mystery hardcovers, paperbacks and periodicals and also features a superb collection of signed Modern First Editions, Rare/Collectible hardcovers and Sherlockiana.

(6) THE SPACE PROGRAM’S ORIGINAL COMPUTERS. PBS’ American Experience covers “The Women Who Brought Us the Moon”.

…The women working at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in the 1960s were all highly trained mathematicians, and many possessed advanced degrees. Helen Ling was born in China and experienced a tumultuous childhood formed under the pressures of WWII. Coming to the United States for college, she earned her master’s degree in mathematics before leading the computing section in a managerial role for over three decades. There was also Janez Lawson, the first African American hired in a technical position at the laboratory. She held a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from UCLA and by modern qualifications would be hired today as an engineer. However, in the 1950s, her gender and race impeded her employment and she was brought in as a computer….

The section on JPL is followed by another devoted to the African American computers at the Langley Memorial Aeronautic laboratory in Hampton, Virginia made famous by Hidden Figures.

…In a system designed to repress their advancement, the African American women became indispensable. “A Trojan horse of segregation opening the door to integration,” Margot Lee Shetterly wrote in Hidden Figures, her 2016 nonfiction book documenting the groundbreaking female African American computers at Langley and adapted into a feature film of the same name. In the book, Shetterly focuses her narrative on three human computers turned engineers: Katherine Johnson, who was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson. While their careers spanned decades, their contributions to early human spaceflight are most frequently lauded…

(7) JEOPARDY! [Item by David Goldfarb.] A number of SF-related clues in Wednesday’s Jeopardy! episode, for some reason all in the first round.

I’m Blue, $200: This Oscar-winning actress has a certain mystique playing Mystique, who, deep down, is all blue

Challenger Lucas Partridge got it right: “Who is Jennifer Lawrence?”

All Kinds of Literature, $600: “Bowman could bear no more. He jerked out the last unit, and HAL was silent forever” is a line from this sci-fi work

Lucas knew this one.

Recent TV Shows by Episode Title, $400: “Chapter 13: The Jedi”

Lucas tried “Obi-Wan”, which left the field open for returning champion Julie Sisson to respond, “What is ‘The Mandalorian’?”

I’m Blue, $400: In this novel, a character is described as having “the half-tint blue eyes that told of off-planet foods in his diet”

Nobody knew what this one does. (I’ll presume that all the Filers do.)

Recent TV Shows by Episode Title, $600: “Dear Offred”

Lucas got it right: “What is ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’?”

“Da” or “Ba” or “Dee”, $800: It’s a word describing motorcyclist Bud Ekins, or the name of a Marvel hero

The third player, Alex Muhler, responded with “What is Daredevil?”

(8) ONE RING. Josh Hutcherson and Morgan Freeman star in 57 Seconds, debuting September 29.

Time bends, revenge ignites, and survival hangs by a thread in 57 SECONDS! Josh Hutcherson and Morgan Freeman team up in this heart-racing action thriller. Franklin (Hutcherson) seeks vengeance against the man who killed his sister and the corporate empire he reigns, as he discovers a time-altering ring dropped by tech guru Anton (Freeman) that propels him into a pulse-pounding battle for survival.

(9) DAVID K. M. KLAUS (1955-2023). Longtime fan and File 770 contributor David K. M. Klaus died July 27 at the age of 67. He is survived by his sons Kevin and Ryan.

Gary Farber wrote a reminiscence on Facebook which begins with meeting David at Suncon, the 1977 Worldcon. About the David he knew for the next almost-fifty-years he says:

…Eager to help, friendly like a puppy, and occasionally overdoing it a bit. He helped several more times on sf conventions I worked on in later years, as well as many others. He also remained a major fan of fanzines and attempted to contribute to local clubs in the various places he lived. Science fiction clubs being what they are, sometimes his efforts were more compatible than others. But he truly wanted to help and was looking for no other reward.

David felt passionately, beyond passionately, about his various enthusiasms, especially his beloved STAR TREK, which remained central to the core of his ethos and who we was. David Klaus was always Starfleet in his own mind.

And now he no longer has to deal with the pain of his relatively recently deceased wife of many years, Nila….

Nila and David met at a Star Trek club meeting, married, and were together for many years, til he lost her to ovarian cancer in 2016.

I was honored with the rare opportunity to have dinner with the whole family when I was in St. Louis on business in 2010.

However, over the years our friendship experienced sudden peaks and valleys, the reasons for which I won’t go into here. Fortunately our last exchange of emails in 2022 ended on an up note when I told him, “I should just point out some things I respect about you. You took care of your family, raised your sons, worked hard. You kept it together. There are some things in that line I’d like to have done as well as you did.” 

(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. (Died 2008.)
  • Born July 27, 1938 Pierre Christin, 85. French comics creator and writer. In the mid Sixties, collaborated with Jean-Claude Mézières to create the science-fiction series Valérian and Laureline for PiloteTime Jam: Valerian & Laureline, a French animated series was released, and a feature film directed by Luc Besson, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, was released as well. A officially released compilation of the Valerian & Laureline series is on YouTube here.
  • Born July 27, 1948 — Juliet Marillier, 75. She’s a New Zealand-born and Western Australian resident fantasy writer focusing entirely on historical fantasy. She has a number of series including Blackthorn & Grim which at two volumes is a good introduction to her, and Sevenwaters which at seven volumes is a serious reading commitment. She contributed to the fiction writing blog, Writer Unboxed.
  • Born July 27, 1939 — Sydney J. van Scyoc. Her first published story was “Shatter the Wall” in Galaxy in 1962. She continued to write short stories throughout the Sixties and Seventies, and published Saltflower, her first novel in the early Seventies. Assignment Nor’Dyren is one of her better novels. Over the next twenty years, she published a dozen novels and likewise number of short stories. (Died 2023.)
  • Born July 27, 1952 Bud Webster. Writer known for his essays on the history of science fiction and genre anthologies. His Bubba Pritchert series, all four stories, is fun reading indeed. He did but a handful of stories but essays as I alluded to above, oh my. Mike has a loving look at him and everything he did here. (Died 2016.)
  • Born July 27, 1968 Farah Mendlesohn, 55. 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 BSFAHer 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. 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 is a Karl Edward Wagner Award winner as well.
  • Born July 27, 1973 Cassandra Clare, 50. I read at least the first three or four volumes of her Mortal Instruments series which I see means I’ve almost completed it. Damn good series. Anyone read her Magnus Bane series? Interestingly she’s been nominated for myriad Goodreads Choice Awards and won two for City of Fallen Angels and City of Heavenly Fire.

(11) A HOWARD BROTHER. Slashfilm points out that “Star Trek: SNW’s Latest Guest Star Appeared in Star Trek When He Was Six Years Old”.

…In “The Corbomite Maneuver,” the U.S.S. Enterprise is approached by a massive and mysterious alien spaceship, perfectly spherical and possessed of immense destructive power. The ship is called the Fesarius, and Captain Kirk (William Shatner) can only communicate with the Fesarius’ captain, Balok (voiced by Ted Cassidy), via audio. Balok declares that he very much intends to destroy the Enterprise using his superior weapons. Thinking quickly, Kirk bluffs; he says that the Enterprise is equipped with an imaginary substance called Corbomite that would react negatively to a weapons attack and destroy both ships. The bulk of the episode is a standoff between the two captains. 

Spock (Leonard Nimoy) is able to hack into the video cameras on board the Fesarius and gets a visual of Balok. Children of multiple generations likely recall the nightmare-inducing image of Balok’s evil face. Cruelly, the “Star Trek” producers included Balok’s evil face over the credits of every episode. 

At the end of the episode, however, it is revealed that Balok was also enacting a bluff. He was not an evil, blue-skinned alien, but a creature that looks an awful lot like a six-year-old boy. Balok was merely testing Kirk and would love to chat diplomatically. 

Balok was played by a six-year-old Clint Howard, an actor who has revisited “Trek” periodically over the decades, and he appears in the latest episode of “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds” as a general in the Klingon Wars. 

…Howard’s latest “Star Trek” appearance is in “Under the Cloak of War,” a flashback episode which shows what Nurse Chapel (Jess Bush) and Dr. M’Benga (Bab Olusanmokun) experienced during the Klingon Wars. Nurse Chapel arrives at a remote Federation outpost that is being aggressively bombarded by Klingon forces and is immediately made one of the chief medical officers because her predecessor was just killed in combat. Howard shows Nurse Chapel around, completely jaded by death and unaffected by the violence. …

Collider has an episode recap: “’Strange New Worlds’ Season 2 Episode 8 Recap: War Makes Monsters of Us All”.

(12) SFF COFFEE BREAK. Bones Coffee Company offers the Crusader’s Cup blend.

Crusader’s Cup is a wise choice for those who want to embark on a flavor-filled journey with hints of nutty chocolate, butterscotch, and caramel. If you’re ready to take on the world and explore new horizons, grab Crusader’s Cup and set out on your next adventure.

(13) PRIME REAL ESTATE CAN BE YOURS. Here’s another plug…. GameSpot says “Lord Of The Rings Monopoly Is On Sale At Amazon Right Now”.

Ever wondered what it would be like to own property in Middle-earth? Well, you can find out if you pick up the Amazon-exclusive Monopoly: The Lord of the Rings edition while it’s on sale for just $26 (normally $45). This price is from a third-party seller, but if you’d rather buy directly from Amazon, you can get it for $32.49 with Prime shipping.

Monopoly: The Lord of the Rings Edition reimagines Hasbro’s classic board game with locations, characters, and items from The Lord of the Rings film series directed by Peter Jackson. For example, instead of the original game pieces like the top hat and thimble, the game uses the iconic members of the fellowship–Frodo, Sam, Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, Pippin, Merry, Boromir, and Gandalf. Monopoly: The Lord of the Rings edition also adds new rules where players compete for control over The One Ring and journey to Mordor along with the classic Monopoly gameplay….

(14) WRITER NOTED AS BODYPAINTING SUBJECT. “At NYC Bodypainting Day, Naked Bodies Become Artists’ Canvases” in the New York Times.

…Across from a Pret a Manger near Union Square Park, Nicolette Barischoff held still as an artist painted an open blue eye across her sternum on Sunday. It was around 88 degrees and a crowd had assembled around them. But the temperature and the audience did not faze Ms. Barischoff. Nor did the fact that she was naked.

“It’s a very Zen experience,” she said, as photographers snapped pictures from behind police barricades. “This is my fishing.”

Ms. Barischoff, 38, a writer in Los Angeles, was among the 60 people who had paid $100 to become mostly nude human canvases for 40 artists during NYC Bodypainting Day, a public art exhibition that has been staged annually since 2014. This year’s installment was the 10th — and the last, according to the event’s founder, Andy Golub, an artist. He said he was ending it to focus on other projects for his organization, Human Connection Arts….

Barischoff’s online bio at Uncanny Magazine tells about the many sff projects she’s worked on:

Nicolette Barischoff has spastic cerebral palsy, which has only made her more awesome. She qualified for SFWA with her first three stories, published in Long Hidden, Accessing the Future, and Unlikely Story’s The Journal of Unlikely Academia. Her work has been spoken aloud by the wonderful people of PodCastle, and one of her novelettes is mandatory reading at the University of Texas, Dallas. She edited the personal essays section of Uncanny Magazine’s Disabled People Destroy Science Fiction, which won a Hugo Award. She’s also a fierce advocate for disability and body-positivity, which has occasionally landed her in trouble. She made the front page of CBS New York, who called her activism “public pornography” and suggested her face was a public order crime. She has the exact same chair as Professor X, and it is also powered by Cerebro.

(15) THE MARTIAN PARTICLES. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Today’s Nature reports a wide range of organic compounds found by Perseverance rover in the Jezero Crater on Mars: “Diverse organic-mineral associations in Jezero crater, Mars”.

The results come from the rover’s Scanning Habitable Environments with Raman and Luminescence for Organics and Chemicals (SHERLOC) instrument.

The SHERLOC instrument is a deep ultraviolet (DUV) Raman and fluorescence spectrometer designed to map the distribution of organic molecules and minerals on rock surfaces.

(16) NUCLEAR PROPULSION BACK ON THE DRAWING BOARD. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Rocket geeks of a certain age will remember the NERVA program, one of the first attempts to design a nuclear thermal rocket engine.

Well, NASA and DARPA are reviving that concept with the intent of a test flight as early as 2027. This version will be limited to cislunar space, but the idea is to enable flight to Mars and possibly beyond. “The US government is taking a serious step toward space-based nuclear propulsion” at Ars Technica.

Four years from now, if all goes well, a nuclear-powered rocket engine will launch into space for the first time. The rocket itself will be conventional, but the payload boosted into orbit will be a different matter.

NASA announced Wednesday that it is partnering with the US Department of Defense to launch a nuclear-powered rocket engine into space as early as 2027. The US space agency will invest about $300 million in the project to develop a next-generation propulsion system for in-space transportation.

“NASA is looking to go to Mars with this system,” said Anthony Calomino, an engineer at NASA who is leading the agency’s space nuclear propulsion technology program. “And in this test is really going to give us that foundation.”

… The basic idea is straightforward: A nuclear reactor rapidly heats up a propellant, probably liquid hydrogen, and then this gas expands and is passed out a nozzle, creating thrust. But engineering all of this for in-space propulsion is challenging, and then there is the regulatory difficulty of building a nuclear reactor and safely launching it into space….

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. One of many trailers shown at SDCC is this one for Popeye The Sailor, a live-action fan-made film.

Based on characters created by E.C. Segar, Popeye The Sailor is a No budget, action, adventure fan film coming later this year. Before Olive, before Bluto, before Sweet Haven and its many residents, this feature film tells the story of a younger Popeye, wandering the world alone, living with questions of his past. In his quest to find answers, new foes are met, and new allies are made.

[Thanks to SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Olav Rokne, David Goldfarb, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 6/9/23 Pixel Was A Scrollin’ Stone

(1) ON THE FRONT OF F&SF. Here is The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction’s July-Aug 2023 issue cover.  The cover art is by Mondolithic Studios.

(2) 2023 NATIONAL BOOK FESTIVAL. The 2023 National Book Festival will be held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C., on Saturday, August 12, from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. (doors open at 8:30 a.m.). The event is free and open to the public. Some creators of genre interest appearing at the Festival are:

George Saunders (Lincoln in the Bardo) discusses his latest collection of stories in Liberation Day.

TJ Klune returns with another fantasy adventure, “In the Lives of Puppets,” a tale of artificial intelligence robots and their human son.

National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature Meg Medina shares the graphic novel adaptation of “Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass” with the novel’s illustrator Mel Valentine Vargas.

Interested attendees not able to join the festival in person can tune into sessions throughout the day. Events on several of the stages will be livestreamed on loc.gov/bookfest. Videos of all presentations will be made available on demand in the weeks after the festival.

(3) KNOST WINGS FINALISTS. The 2023 Michael Knost Wings award finalists have been announced by The Imaginarium Convention.  The award “focuses on authors of speculative and/or dark fiction, specifically authors who are up-and-coming . . . or those who have been around a while but do not get the recognition they deserve.”

The award is named for Michael Knost, is the 2015 recipient of the Horror Writers Association’s Silver Hammer Award for his work as the organization’s mentorship chair. He is also a two-time Bram Stoker Award-winner, and is known for his mentoring, writing classes, and bestselling works. Nominees/finalists are chosen by a committee of editors and authors, and Knost selects the award recipient.

This year’s nominees/finalists are:

  • John F. Allen
  • Anton Cancre
  • Elizabeth Donald
  • Sandy Lender
  • Tommy B. Smith

The winner will be announced during the Imaginarium Awards Banquet on July 15.

(4) REMEMBERING WHEN. Craig Newmark is the ‘Craig’ of Craig’s List, but before that he was 1/3 of Rat’s Mouth Fandom (back in the 1980s). He made the news this week for donating $100M to veteran charities.

You can decipher the origin of Rat’s Mouth Fandom if you know this about Boca Raton FL:

The meaning of the name Boca Raton has always aroused curiosity. Many people wrongly assume the name is simply Rat’s Mouth. The Spanish word boca, or mouth, often describes an inlet, while raton means literally, mouse.

(5) OTHER DARTS. Jacqueline Carey responds to readers who asked why there aren’t trans folk in Terre d’Ange: “Summer 2023”.

It’s Pride Month and we’re celebrating the official relaunch of the original Kushiel’s Legacy trilogy with these shiny new trade paperback editions! It’s hard to believe that it’s been over 20 years since Kushiel’s Dart burst on the scene, exploding with intrigue, heroism and unabashed sexuality the likes of which the fantasy genre had never seen.

In many ways, it’s still ahead of its time; but not all. When I polled a group of longtime readers, this was one of the most common questions on their mind:  Are there trans folk in Terre d’Ange?

Fair question! I created an entire theology based on the idea that love in all its forms, including sexual, was a divine force with agency in the real world. Pansexuality is the norm in Terre d’Ange. Even BDSM has a presiding deity! These books were groundbreaking! So what about gender identity? Where the heck are the trans and nonbinary characters? Where are the intersex and asexual characters?

Here’s what I’m not going to do, which is pull a Rowling and tell you, “Oh, Alcuin was nonbinary all along!” I mean… sure, it’s not outside the realm of possibility. But no. Coming from the author, it’s bullshit if it’s not on the page. I didn’t make that specific choice for the character. Nor did I create a society which explicitly acknowledges the full spectrum of human gender identity.

Sorry, guys. I did my best at the time with the knowledge I possessed. I simply wasn’t aware enough of the breadth and depth of human expression to encompass its totality in my worldbuilding. However, “Love As Thou Wilt” is some damn solid bedrock. It’s strong enough to support a broader and deeper understanding of the world. The love and acceptance were always there.

(6) LIFEWRITING PODCAST. Steve Barnes and Tananarive Due’s recent podcast Lifewriting: Write for Your Life! is “On the WGA strike, community for writers – and Clarion West!”

In this episode, Steve and Tananarive talk about some of the reason for the WGA screenwriters’ strike and the importance of community for writers — and welcome guests Rashida Smith and Stephanie Malia Morris to talk about Clarion West. Find out more information at www.clarionwest.org

(7) CLARION WEST EVENT. There will be a Clarion West fundraiser on November 10: Ted Chiang and Dr. Emily M. Bender in conversation, moderated by Tom Nissley, at Town Hall Seattle. Details to follow.

UW Professor of Linguistics Emily M. Bender talks with award-winning science fiction author Ted Chiang about the nature of creativity and the role of the author in relation to AI-generated storytelling. Moderated by Jeopardy! champion and Phinney Books owner Tom Nissley.

(8) OVERLOOKED, NOW OVERHEARD. Longtime Horror Writers Association member Mort Castle is enraged that he was not contacted to be part of the HWA blog’s “Celebrating Our Elders” Q&A series. (The Scroll linked to a couple of those posts.) He has published “An Open Letter To The Horror Writers Association” on Facebook. Below is a screencap of his public post. Castle’s concluding statement reads:

…The HWA needs to apologize. The HWA needs to attempt to make amends.

I do want to thank those people, the many HWA members and many others who’ve contacted me, letting me know they considered the HWA’s treatment of me to be flat-out wrong.

Your support means so much. It helps.

But it does not set this wrong thing right.

If you would like to help do that, I ask that you contact The Horror Writers Association. You might add comments on the HWA Facebook page and I hope you do.

I ask that you express your thoughts about Mort’s Uncelebration on the part of an organization that says it supports horror writing and the people who create it.

Somtow Sucharitkul’s comment on the open letter brings much needed lucidity and practicality to the issues.  

(9) MEMORY LANE.

2022[Written by Cat Eldridge from a choice by Mike Glyer.]

So let’s talk about Rachel Swirsky. She has two Nebulas, one for her “The Lady Who Plucked Red Flowers Beneath the Queen’s Window novella, the other for her short story, “If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love”. No Hugo wins to date but she has been nominated four times including for that same novella. 

She was the founding editor of the PodCastle podcast which does fantasy fiction and served as editor. Ann Leckie was the founding assistant editor. Impressive.

Our Beginning is from the January Fifteenth novel which was published by Tor.com just last year. It was nominated for the Philip K. Dick Award. 

And now here it is…

UBI Day: Early

Hannah

The blizzard first touched land in Maine. It glazed lakes and lighthouses and red-shingled roofs, and billowed through naked ash trees. It chased coastal waves southward to New Hampshire and then moved inland through Concord and into upstate New York, past Saratoga Springs and Syracuse. In Canastota, the historic Erie Canal froze beside iced railroad tracks, neither taking anyone anywhere. 

Hannah Klopfer felt grateful once again that she and the boys had been able to find a furnished rental inside their budget that was within easy walking distance of necessities like the post office and the grocery store. She zipped up her down jacket and tugged her hat over her ears. She patted her pockets: wallet, phone, keys. As she grabbed her scarf from the aging brass rack by the door, it made a shuddery twang against the greasy metal. 

As the twanging faded, Hannah heard a distant, quiet shuffle from the back of the house. Something wooden groaned. Hannah’s mouth went dry. The ends of her scarf dropped from her hands, unwound, and fell loosely across her chest. Her heart pounded. She hadn’t expected Abigail to find them so fast. She took a deep breath to shout upstairs for Jake and Isaiah to start piling furniture against their bedroom door.

A high-pitched giggle broke the quiet, followed by another. Hannah exhaled in relief. Thank God. It was just the boys playing. 

Her heart hadn’t stopped pounding, though. Damn it. Damn it! What was she supposed to do when the boys wouldn’t listen? This wasn’t about sticking their fingers in their cereal or getting crayon on the walls. Did it really matter that it was developmentally normal for a seven-year-old to test authority if it ended up giving Abigail a way back into their lives?

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born June 9, 1930 Lin Carter. He is best known for his work in the 1970s as editor of the Ballantine Adult Fantasy series. As a writer, His first professional publication was the short story “Masters of the Metropolis”, co-written with Randall Garrett, in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, April 1957. He would be a prolific writer, average as many as six novels a year. In addition, he was influential as a critic of the fantasy genre and an early historian of the genre. (Died 1988.)
  • Born June 9, 1934 Donald Duck, 89. He made his first appearance in “The Wise Little Hen” on June 9, 1934. In this cartoon, Donald and his friend, Peter Pig, lie their way out of helping the titular little hen tend to her corn. 
  • Born June 9, 1943 Joe Haldeman, 80. Whether or not it was written as a response to Starship Troopers as some critics thought at time, The Forever War is a damn great novel which I’ve read at least a half dozen times. No surprise that it won the Hugo at MidAmeriCon and the Nebula Award.
  • Born June 9, 1949 Drew Sanders, 74. He’s an LA resident who’s active in con-running and costuming. He has worked on many Worldcons and is a member of LASFS and SCIFI, and has been an officer of both groups. He co-chaired Costume-Con 4 in 1986.
  • Born June 9, 1956 Patricia Cornwell, 67. You’ll know her better as the author of the medical examiner Kay Scarpetta mystery series, now some twenty-six novels deep. She is here, well in part as I do like that series a lot, because she wrote two SF novels in the Captain Chase series, Quantum and Spin.
  • Born June 9, 1961 Michael J. Fox, 62. The Back to The Future trilogy stands as one of the best SF series ever done and his acting was brilliant. Since 1999 due to his Parkinson’s Disease, he’s has mainly worked as a voice-over actor in films such as Stuart Little and Atlantis: The Lost Empire. Prior to his diagnosis, he performed on Tales from the Crypt and directed “The Trap” episode. He would return to live action performing in 2014, bless him, with The Michael J. Fox Show series. 
  • Born June 9, 1967 Dave McCarty, 56. He’s a Chicago-area con-running fan who chaired Chicon 7. He has been the Hugo Administrator for Loncon (2014), MidAmeriCon II (2016), for Worldcon 76 (2018), and again for the Chengdu Worldcon (2023).
  • Born June 9, 1981 Natalie Portman, 42. Surprisingly her first genre role was as Taffy Dale in Mars Attacks!, not as Padme in The Phantom Menace for which the fanboys gave her far too much hatred which is what they do when they do not have a real life. She’d repeat that role in Attack of The Clones and Revenge of The Sith and of course get fresh grief from them. She’d next play Evey in V for Vendetta. And she played Jane Foster, a role she played oh magnificently — and got more grief for — first in Thor, then in Thor: The Dark World and then in Avengers: Endgame. She reprised the role in Thor: Love and Thunder, playing both Jane Foster and Thor.

(11) NEW HOMES FOR PULPS. This strikes me as a more elegant (and remunerative) version of “Operation Surprise Package” in Bill, the Galactic Hero. “Sci Fi and Fantasy Pulp/Magazine Subscription (2 Per Package)!” offered by Chris Korczak, Bookseller.

The trouble with Tribbles: Chris Korczak wasn’t sure what to do with the thousands of science fiction and fantasy magazines piling up around him. He’s an antiquarian bookseller in Easthampton, Mass., who specializes in role-playing games and related titles. He knew the old pulp magazines comprised a rich record of the genre’s literary and artistic gems, but finding a buyer for each copy felt impossible. 

Don’t Panic: Korczak recently started offering these old magazines as part of an unusual mail-order service. Subscribers receive two randomly selected issues as often as they’d like for $14.49 per shipment (details). 

The magazines — mostly from the 1970s and ’90s, but some as far back as the 1940s — provide a kind of time travel through the world of science fiction and fantasy. “They’re really cool,” Korczak tells me, “and they’re just jam-packed with good stories by good authors.” A shipment could include copies of Asimov’s Science Fiction, Analog, Argosy, the Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, If, Galaxy and other “smaller print-run publications.” (To be clear: These are not reprints; they’re original issues, some with their old mailing labels still attached.)

The randomness of each shipment is part of the thrill. Korczak estimates that “more than half of the magazines contain authors who are household names.” Subscribers might find stories by Ursula K. Le Guin, Philip K. Dick, George R.R. Martin, Frank Herbert and others. (Of course, mixed among the stars, there’s sure to be some dead planets, too.) 

“They’re so cool when you go through them,” Korczak says. “And the artwork — a lot of good illustrations there that are only on those covers.”

If that sounds enticing, boldly go.

(12) JEOPARDY! David Goldfarb reports on a Jeopardy! sff reference.

In the Double Jeopardy round, Literature for $800:

This writer known for robotic laws (which might come in handy soon) wrote his “Lucky Starr” series as Paul French

Returning champion Suresh Krishnan responded correctly.

(13) LATE NIGHT SNACK. Science’s article “Let there be dark” explains how “Crops grown without sunlight could help feed astronauts bound for Mars, and someday supplement dinner plates on Earth.”

For the first astronauts to visit Mars, what to eat on their 3-year mission will be one of the most critical questions. It’s not just a matter of taste. According to one recent estimate, a crew of six would require an estimated 10,000 kilograms of food for the trip. NASA—which plans to send people to Mars within 2 decades—could stuff a spacecraft with prepackaged meals and launch additional supplies to the Red Planet in advance for the voyage home. But even that wouldn’t completely solve the problem…

…Robert Jinkerson, a chemical engineer at the University of California (UC), Riverside, thinks the answer is for astronauts to grow their own on-board garden—in the dark, with plant growth fueled by artificial nutrients rather than sunlight. It won’t be easy; after all, plants evolved for hundreds of millions of years to extract energy from sunlight. But Jinkerson believes it can be done by reawakening metabolic pathways plants already possess—the same ones that power the germination of seeds buried in the ground and then shut off once a seedling’s leaves start to reach for the Sun. In his vision of the future, electricity from solar panels could transform water and carbon dioxide (CO2) exhaled by a spacecraft’s crew into simple, energy-rich hydrocarbons that genetically modified plants could use to grow—even in the darkness of space or the dim light on Mars, which receives less than half as much sunlight as Earth….

(14) TRAILER PROMOTING BOOK ABOUT FURRIES. Furry Planet: A World Gone Wild by Joe Strike covers a lot of ground.

From a veteran furry comes an immersive entry into the world of furries and furry fandom, with a colorful look at an amazing subculture, the timeless human instinct to identify with animals, and a wealth of photos and illustrations showcasing fursuits and furry art. Furries are the creative subculture of people who identify with animals. You can find them at furry conventions, furfests, worldwide—tens of thousands of people donning their most elaborate fursuit. In costume, at conventions, with friends or alone, furries unleash the animal within, letting their inner beasts roar and their inner cats purr, aware of the power—and joy—to be found in connecting with one’s animal side and encouraging others to do the same. In Furry Planet, long-time furry and a media staple for commentary on the culture, Joe Strike—a certified “greymuzzle,” as older furries are known—dives deep into this compelling subculture to share its appeal and rewards. Strike addresses stigmas and misconceptions head on and traces the history of the culture from forty thousand-year-old lion-man figurines through sixteenth-century legends of monkey kings to modern day television and movies starring anthropomorphized animals living human lives. He shares how furry fandom began in the United States but has spread across the globe and delves deep into the various iterations of the culture today, in the process covering events, media, art, storytelling, community resources, costume creation, and advice for newcomers. An unprecedented in-depth look at this intriguing, offbeat world, Furry Planet is complemented by colorful images throughout and is sure to inform and excite fans of the culture, as well as anyone who has ever been curious about it. Inside you’ll find: Insight into the natural impulse to anthropomorphize animals and the joys of furry culture A fascinating history of furry culture A thorough guide to furry conventions, fursuit costume creation, and resources for furries A wealth of colorful photographs from furfests and of superb fursuits Gorgeous furry artwork Much more!

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In 2020, The Late Late Show with James Corden brought us “Marvel’s Mrs. Maisel: Rachel Brosnahan Enters the Marvel Universe”.

James Corden and Rachel Brosnahan look back on their attempt to bring Midge Maisel into the Marvel Universe. Memories of the chemistry between Thanos and Midge have us all wondering how the mashup never made the screen.

[Thanks to Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Rich Lynch, Cathy Green, Daniel Dern, Gordon Van Gelder, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]

Pixel Scroll 3/11/23 Please Send In Two Hypercube Tops As Proof Of Ob, To Receive Your Free Pixel Scroll Title

(1) SPARKS FROM A GOOD CONDUCTOR. Somtow Sucharitkul proudly announces, “I ranted in my Facebook page and the Hollywood Reporter picked it up as an Op-Ed!” Beware spoilers. “Tár Ending is Not Cate Blanchett’s Character’s Downfall: Consultant” in The Hollywood Reporter.

The closing shot of Todd Field’s Oscar-nominated drama has been taken to represent the final fall from grace of the film’s eponymous heroine. But maybe we’ve got the whole thing backwards, writes Thai conductor Somtow Sucharitkul….

Well before Todd Field’s Tár opened in Thailand, I got my first review of the film from my friend, director Paul Spurrier. Paul had seen the film while in Los Angeles for the American Film Market.

“So we have here a mad genius conductor, who is kicked out of a major European orchestra after an act of violence, has rather ambiguous dealings with some young prodigies, ends up in Southeast Asia conducting a youth orchestra in a tawdry venue …,” he began.

“Oh!” I said, “You went to a screening of our film?” Because Paul was giving me the exact plot of our own film, The Maestro: A Symphony of Terror, a horror fantasy we made two years ago, which I wrote and starred in as the aforementioned “mad genius” conductor.

“Actually, no,” he said. “I just saw Tár.”

Since, I too have seen Tár and, as it turns out, Paul wasn’t wrong. Field’s movie does have a similar plot to The Maestro. Alas, I am a poor substitute for the incomparable Cate Blanchett, and our film is wholly different in substance anyway, being a modest little tribute to the horror films of the 1980s. In any case, the fall of the mighty, from Prometheus to the present, has always been the very essence of what we mean by the word tragedy….

(2) GUNN CENTER BOOK CLUB. Everyone is invited to the Gunn Center for the Study of SF’s (CSSF) monthly virtual book club happening on Friday, March 31, 2023, at noon (Central Time). Register here

For the month of March, the Center has chosen Donna Barbra Higuera’s The Last Cuentista. A comet has hit Earth and now Petra Peña’s world is collapsing. Petra, her family and hundreds of others venture to another planet to continue the human race. Petra awakes on a new planet 100 years in the future, and she is the only one who remembers the history of her people. Winner of the Newberry Medal and the Pura Belpré Award in 2022, Higuera infuses Mexican folklore with interplanetary elements to highlight the importance of preserving the history and culture through storytelling.  All ages are welcome to join.

(3) KGB PHOTOS. Ellen Datlow shared her snapshots from the March 8 Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series with Scott Lynch and Elizabeth Bear: KGB March 8, 2023 at Flickr.

(4) I’LL BE STABBED! “Using ChatGPT to Rewrite ‘Game of Thrones’? OpenAI Co-Founder Says ‘That Is What Entertainment Will Look Like’”The Hollywood Reporter has the story.

… “That is what entertainment will look like,” Brockman said at a Friday panel at SXSW. “Maybe people are still upset about the last season of Game of Thrones. Imagine if you could ask your A.I. to make a new ending that goes a different way and maybe even put yourself in there as a main character or something.”

Hollywood creatives have already begun considering the potential impact — both good and bad — that ChatGPT could have on the TV and filmmaking process. As The Hollywood Reporter examined in January, organizations like the Writers Guild of America West have said they are “monitoring the development of ChatGPT and similar technologies in the event they require additional protections for writers,” though screenwriters interviewed by THR said they could see ChatGPT as a tool to aid the writing process, rather than replacing the work of writers….

(5) MOVIE REVIEW. The Hollywood Reporter’s James Hibberd says “SXSW: ‘Mrs. Davis’ Is a Perfectly Timed Warning About A.I. Madness”.

What if ChatGPT, but too much? Too popular, too omniscient, and far too nefarious than today’s cutting-edge chatbots?

That’s the premise of Mrs. Davis, an ultra-ambitious series from Big Bang Theory veteran Tara Hernandez and Watchmen creator Damon Lindelof. Mrs. Davis, premiering at SXSW before its April 20 streaming debut on Peacock, tells the story of a heroic, street-savvy nun (three-time GLOW Emmy nominee Betty Gilpin) battling an omnipresent AI and its legion of obsessed fans who will do anything to please their tech deity (called Mrs. Davis), which is supposedly striving to make the world a better place. Oh, and there’s also a quest for the Holy Grail, possible Nazis with butterfly nets, nefarious magicians and a teary make-out session with Jesus — and that’s just in the first two episodes. As Gilpin’s character, Simone, says at one point: “It’s a lot.”…

(6) OFFICIAL FILTERS CHALLENGED. George Packer argues “The Moral Case Against Equity Language” in The Atlantic.

The Sierra Club’s Equity Language Guide discourages using the words stand, Americans, blind, and crazy. The first two fail at inclusion, because not everyone can stand and not everyone living in this country is a citizen. The third and fourth, even as figures of speech (“Legislators are blind to climate change”), are insulting to the disabled. The guide also rejects the disabled in favor of people living with disabilities, for the same reason that enslaved person has generally replaced slave : to affirm, by the tenets of what’s called “people-first language,” that “everyone is first and foremost a person, not their disability or other identity.”

The guide’s purpose is not just to make sure that the Sierra Club avoids obviously derogatory terms, such as welfare queen. It seeks to cleanse language of any trace of privilege, hierarchy, bias, or exclusion. In its zeal, the Sierra Club has clear-cut a whole national park of words. Urbanvibranthardworking, and brown bag all crash to earth for subtle racism. Y’all supplants the patriarchal you guys, and elevate voices replaces empower, which used to be uplifting but is now condescending. The poor is classist; battle and minefield disrespect veterans; depressing appropriates a disability; migrant—no explanation, it just has to go.

Equity-language guides are proliferating among some of the country’s leading institutions, particularly nonprofits. The American Cancer Society has one. So do the American Heart Association, the American Psychological Association, the American Medical Association, the National Recreation and Park Association, the Columbia University School of Professional Studies, and the University of Washington. The words these guides recommend or reject are sometimes exactly the same, justified in nearly identical language. This is because most of the guides draw on the same sources from activist organizations: A Progressive’s Style Guide, the Racial Equity Tools glossary, and a couple of others. The guides also cite one another. The total number of people behind this project of linguistic purification is relatively small, but their power is potentially immense. The new language might not stick in broad swaths of American society, but it already influences highly educated precincts, spreading from the authorities that establish it and the organizations that adopt it to mainstream publications, such as this one.

Although the guides refer to language “evolving,” these changes are a revolution from above. They haven’t emerged organically from the shifting linguistic habits of large numbers of people. They are handed down in communiqués written by obscure “experts” who purport to speak for vaguely defined “communities,” remaining unanswerable to a public that’s being morally coerced. A new term wins an argument without having to debate. When the San Francisco Board of Supervisors replaces felon with justice-involved person, it is making an ideological claim—that there is something illegitimate about laws, courts, and prisons. If you accept the change—as, in certain contexts, you’ll surely feel you must—then you also acquiesce in the argument….

(7) ANOTHER IDEA WHOSE TIME HAS COME. Ever notice how often two movies with the same general idea reach theaters in the same year? Now ask how it comes to pass than two movies based on the same book might do so. Gizmodo looks ahead to when “Cixin Liu’s Novel Supernova Era Will Explode Into Theaters”.

…For those who want to see Liu’s work on the big screen, good news—his 2003 novel Supernova Era is coming to theaters.

In fact, two Supernova Era movies are technically on the way, and possibly a TV series as well. Conquerer Entertainment, which has the adaptation rights to the novel, has announced a Chinese-language version of the movie, which will be simultaneously produced with an English-language version. If you don’t know the book (which Tor Books released in English in 2019), it’s got a (somewhat literally) killer premise. Here’s the official synopsis:

Eight light years away, a star has died, creating a supernova event that showers Earth in deadly levels of radiation. Within a year, everyone over the age of thirteen will die.

And so the countdown begins. Parents apprentice their children and try to pass on the knowledge needed to keep the world running.

But when the world is theirs, the last generation may not want to continue the legacy left to them. And in shaping the future however they want, will the children usher in an era of bright beginnings or final mistakes?

“The book has captured my interest due to Liu’s imaginative world-building and thought-provoking themes such as the fragility of civilization, the importance of leadership, and the role of technology in shaping society,” Conquerer co-founder Vasco Xu told Deadline. “It also raises questions about the nature of power, the relationship between science and morality, and the implications of different forms of administrations. Due to its futuristic setting and the presence of a significant global event at its core, the book has the potential to be adapted into two enthralling productions that would appeal to both the domestic Chinese audience and the global market.”

Assuming both movies get made, it’ll be very interesting to see how they compare and contrast. But we likely won’t get a chance to do so until 2026 at the earliest.

(8) RED DWARF NEWS. Radio Times reports ”Red Dwarf’s future confirmed after legal dispute resolved”.

…The future of Red Dwarf has finally been confirmed after a legal dispute between its creators, Rob Grant and Doug Naylor.

It’s no secret that the writers, who co-created the comedy series, haven’t always seen eye to eye, dissolving their partnership in the 1990s.

Naylor continued to write the Red Dwarf TV series but, in 2021, launched a High Court action against Grant over the rights to the show.

The dispute has now been resolved and it’s been confirmed that both of the writers will continue separately working on Red Dwarf in different media.

A statement reads: “Rob Grant and Doug Naylor are delighted to announce that the ongoing dispute over the Red Dwarf rights has been resolved.

“Moving onwards and upwards, Rob and Doug hope to launch separate iterations of Red Dwarf across various media, working again with the cast and other valued partners, and wish each other the very best.

“Smoke a kipper, Red Dwarf will be back for breakfast!!”…

(9) MEMORY LANE.

1970[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

This is something rather different for a Beginning.Jefferson Starship’s Blows Against the Empire would be nominated for a Best Dramatic Presentation Hugo fifty-two years ago at the first Noreascon. It wouldn’t win and it’s the only album nominated until the Splendor & Misery recording by Clipping was nominated at Worldcon 75 for a Hugo in the Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form category. That didn’t win either. 

It is the first album to use Starship instead of Airplane, this under Kantner alone who produced the album, a name which Kantner and Slick would use for the Jefferson Starship that emerged after Jack Casady and Jorma Kaukonen left Jefferson Airplane. 

Kantner claimed that the inspiration for the album was the work of Heinlein, particularly Methuselah’s Children where a group of people hijack a starship. Kantner even quotes the novel in the opening song, “Mau Mau (Amerikon)”: “Push the button, pull the switch, cut the beam, make it march”. 

After listening to the album, I’ll be frelled if I can see how it relates to Methuselah’s Children at all. And I’d love to hear why it was nominated for a Hugo. Was it the Heinlein connection?

1974’s Dragon Fly was I think a much better SF album with “Hyperdrive” alone being one of the best SF songs done. 

So I’ll pick the Beginning stanza of “The Baby Tree”

There’s an island way out in the sea
Where the babies they all grow on trees
And its jolly good fun To swing in the sun
But you gotta watch out if you sneeze-sneeze
You gotta watch out if you sneeze

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 11, 1921 F. M. Busby. Together with his wife and others he published Cry of the Nameless which won the Hugo award in 1960. Heinlein was a great fan of him and his wife — The Cat Who Walks Through Walls in part dedicated to Busby and Friday in part to his wife Elinor. He was a very busy writer from the early Seventies to the late Nineties writing some nineteen published novels and myriad short stories before he blamed the Thor Power Tools decision for forcing his retirement. (Died 2005.)
  • Born March 11, 1925 Christopher Anvil. Pen name of Harry Christopher Crosby, a Campbellian writer through and through. He was a staple of Astounding starting in 1956. The Colonization Series that he wrote there would run to some thirty stories. Short stories were certainly his favored length as he only wrote two novels, The Day the Machines Stopped and The Steel, the Mist, and the Blazing Sun. He’s readily available at the usual digital sources. (Died 2009.)
  • Born March 11, 1935 Nancy Kovack, 88. She appeared as Nona in Trek’s “A Private Little War”. She also showed up in The Man from U.N.C.L.E.The Invaders, as Medea in Jason and the ArgonautsBatman (twice as Queenie), Alfred Hitchcock Hour, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, I Dream of JeannieTarzan and the Valley of Gold,  Marooned, Get Smart! and The Invisible Man
  • Born March 11, 1952 Douglas Adams. Another one who died way too young. I’ve read and listened to the full cast production the BBC did of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy but have absolutely no desire to see the film. Wait, wasn’t there a TV series as well? Yes, there was. There’s also the Dirk Gently series which is, errr, odd and its charms escape my understanding. He and Mark Carwardine also wrote the most excellent Last Chance to See, their travels to various locations in the hope of encountering species on the brink of extinction. It’s more upbeat than it sounds. (Died 2001.)
  • Born March 11, 1961 Elias Koteas, 62. Genre appearances include the very first (and I think best of the many that came out) as the sports-crazed vigilante Casey Jones in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III (I did warn you, didn’t I?), Cyborg 2 (just don’t, really don’t), Gattaca, Skinwalkers, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and The Haunting in Connecticut.
  • Born March 11, 1963 Alex Kingston, 60. River Song in Doctor Who. She’s in a number of different stories with a number of different Doctors.  I don’t see a lot of other genre work from her but she was in Ghost Phone: Phone Calls from the Dead, as Sheila and she was Lady Macbeth in the National Theatre Live of Macbeth. Now the latter I would have really to seen!  Oh, and she’s in the Arrowverse as Dinah Lance, in FlashForward as Fiona Banks and recently shows up as Sara Bishop on A Discovery of Witches, a series based off the stellar Deborah Harkness All Souls Trilogy series of the same name.
  • Born March 11, 1989 Anton Yelchin. Yes another way too early death. Best known for playing Pavel Chekov in Star TrekStar Trek Into Darkness, and Star Trek Beyond. He also was in Terminator Salvation as Kyle Reese, in the Zombie comedy Burying the Ex as Max and voiced Clumsy Smurf in a series of Smurf films. Really he did. (Died 2016.)

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • Arlo and Janis work a genre reference into a strip about tonight’s change to daylight savings time.

(12) YOU’VE GOT MAIL. Not sff, but the New York Times tells about a fascinating project that’s started to sift the centuries-old impounded mail taken to from prize ships during England’s colonial wars: “Long-Lost Letters Bring Word, at Last”. At the article are quotes from these old letters.

… None of those lines ever reached their intended recipients. British warships instead snatched those letters, and scores more, from aboard merchant ships during wars from the 1650s to the early 19th century.

 While the ships’ cargoes — sugar from the Caribbean, tobacco from Virginia, ivory from Guinea, enslaved people bound for the Americas — became war plunder, the papers were bundled off to so called “prize courts” in London as potential legal proof that the seizures were legitimate spoils of war….

…For centuries since, the bulging boxes of those undelivered letters, seized from around 35,000 ships, sat neglected in British government storage, a kind of half-forgotten dead letter office for intercepted mail.

Poorly sorted and only vaguely cataloged, the Prize Papers, as they became known, have now begun revealing lost treasures. Archivists at Britain’s National Archives and a research team at the Carl von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg in Germany are working on a joint project to sort, catalog and digitize the collection, which gives a nuanced portrait of private lives, international commerce and state power in an age of rising empires.

The project, expected to last two decades, aims to make the collection of more than 160,000 letters and hundreds of thousands of other documents, written in at least 19 languages, freely available and easily searchable online.

Many of the papers haven’t been read in centuries, and many letters remain sealed and unopened….

(13) THAT’S WHO. At Galactic Journey, Jessica Holmes provides commentary on the very latest (in 1968) Doctor Who story arc. “[March 10, 1968] The Best Laid Plans (Doctor Who: The Web Of Fear [Part 2])”.

The latest serial of Doctor Who tempers the base-under-siege formula with an infusion of ‘whodunnit’, but is this a fresh take on the format or are the mystery elements just a red herring? Let’s take a look at the latter half of The Web Of Fear….

(14) BREAK IT TO HIM GENTLY. “What $27.2 billion buys NASA — and more space stories you may have missed this week” at Yahoo!

Tom Cruise, if you’re reading this, you may want to sit down

Back in October, the head of Universal Pictures made waves by hinting that an upcoming film led by none other than Tom Cruise could literally be heading to outer space. Now, at the time, it seemed a little outlandish, but given Cruise’s career of going to increasingly extreme lengths to pull off elaborate stunts, going to space didn’t seem like too much of a giant leap.

But, unfortunately, it appears someone already beat him to it. On Wednesday, a trailer for “The Challenge,” which was produced by Channel 1 Russia in partnership with Roscosmos and partially filmed aboard the International Space Station, was released. The story is said to follow a surgeon who’s taken aboard the ISS to perform an emergency procedure on an injured cosmonaut. No word on if “The Challenge” will see an official release in the United States, although Tom Cruise likely still hopes to one-up that production by becoming the first civilian to do a spacewalk outside the ISS. And you know what? I think there’s a pretty good chance he’ll actually try to do it….

(15) PUT ON YOUR THINKING CAPS. “To Save Physics, Experts Suggest We Need to Assume The Future Can Affect The Past” contends a writer for Science Alert.

…The quantum threat to locality (that distant objects need a physical mediator to interact) stems from an argument by the Northern Ireland physicist John Bell in the 1960s.

Bell considered experiments in which two hypothetical physicists, Alice and Bob, each receive particles from a common source. Each chooses one of several measurement settings, and then records a measurement outcome. Repeated many times, the experiment generates a list of results.

Bell realized that quantum mechanics predicts that there will be strange correlations (now confirmed) in this data. They seemed to imply that Alice’s choice of setting has a subtle “nonlocal” influence on Bob’s outcome, and vice versa – even though Alice and Bob might be light years apart.

Bell’s argument is said to pose a threat to Albert Einstein’s theory of special relativity, which is an essential part of modern physics.

But that’s because Bell assumed that quantum particles don’t know what measurements they are going to encounter in the future. Retrocausal models propose that Alice’s and Bob’s measurement choices affect the particles back at the source. This can explain the strange correlations, without breaking special relativity.

In recent work, we’ve proposed a simple mechanism for the strange correlation – it involves a familiar statistical phenomenon called Berkson’s bias (see our popular summary here).

There’s now a thriving group of scholars who work on quantum retrocausality. But it’s still invisible to some experts in the wider field. It gets confused for a different view called “superdeterminism”….

(16) READY FOR MY CLOSE UP. “NASA spacecraft beams back tantalizing images of volcanic world Io” at MSN.com.

… Io is tortured because it’s stuck in a relentless “tug-of-war” between the massive Jupiter and two of Jupiter’s other big moons, Ganymede and Europa — a world that might harbor a sizable ocean. This powerful push and pull creates profound heat inside a world that’s a little larger than our moon. All this heat seeks to reach the surface, resulting in molten lava and extreme volcanism. It’s extremely unlikely a world swimming in lava could host conditions for even the hardiest of life to evolve. But other moons in our solar system could potentially contain suitable conditions for life to evolve in their subsurface, like the Saturnian moons Enceladus and Mimas (and, of course, Europa).

Scientists like [mission director Scott] Bolton use these images to, among other things, identify new volcanoes. The darker spots are often places where eruptions have occurred, and other recent NASA imagery shows that this volcanism is incessant. A looming question is whether a global magma ocean oozes inside Io, or if there are just giant pockets of molten rock.

When the Juno spacecraft gets nearer to Io, it’s not directly approaching the moon, but veering by the moon’s orbit, as shown in the graphic below. During each orbit, Juno will snap pictures at the closest approach before it once again whips around the gas giant Jupiter. By the end of December 2023, Juno’s orbit (PJ 58) will bring it within some 930 miles of Io. It’s a much-anticipated event.

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Stephen Colbert interviews Steven Spielberg about a now-ironic complaint about Spielberg’s Night Gallery episode. “Spielberg’s ‘Appalling, Irresponsible’ Contribution to the Horror Anthology, ‘Night Gallery’”.

[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Kathy Sullivan, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]

Pixel Scroll 12/19/22 Pixels Gleaming Bright As They Scroll Off Into The Twilight, Never To Be Seen Again

(1) SOMTOW’S PLAN. It’s nothing like Selden’s. Somtow Sucharitkul will be the composer when “Ed Wood’s cult film ‘Plan 9 From Outer Space’ Gets Opera Adaptation”. He gave The Hollywood Reporter’s Scott Roxborough the exclusive story.

Flying saucers over Bayreuth! Unspeakable horrors descend on the Philharmonic! Ten words I never thought I’d write. But Plan 9 From Outer Space is being turned into an opera. 

The legendary, and legendarily bad, cult film from 1957 — which Tim Burton paid tribute to in his Oscar-winning 1994 feature Ed Wood starring Johnny Depp as the Plan 9 director — will get the classical music treatment courtesy of Thai composer, and B-movie fanatic, Somtow Sucharitkul

Plan 9 From Outer Space: A Really Grand Opera by Somtow Sucharitkul is currently in the libretto stage. Rehearsals will begin in earnest next year. Sucharitkul plans to release a teaser “suite from the opera” next fall and to premiere the full opera in 2024. Torsten Neumann, director of the Oldenburg Film Festival, Germany’s leading indie film fest, is producing. 

Plan 9 is, of course, celebrated as the worst picture ever made and a cultural icon,” Somtow said. “Movie buffs have all the lines memorized. I intend to compose the score in the spirit of Ed Wood — with utter seriousness and high moral intent, as befits the exalted subject matter about aliens saving humanity from itself — so timely in these, ah, times.”

“Of course, we’re not intending to produce the ‘worst opera’ in history,” says Neumann, “quite the opposite. …”

The interview with Somtow also brought out this fact:

…Sucharitkul’s students can also be seen in this year’s awards season contender Tár. The Siam Sinfonietta is the orchestra performing in the film’s final scene. Sucharitkul was a musical consultant on the movie. …

Somtow says Roxborough’s doing a story on that now, interviewing some of the kids in his youth orchestra about what it was like being conducted by Cate Blanchett.

(2) F&SF COVER REVEAL. The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction’s Jan/Feb 2023 cover art is by Kent Bash.

(3) A LOOK UNDER THE HOOD. John Scalzi’s “Process Notes on Starter Villain” at Whatever talks about the novel he just finished in a deadline-pushing whirlwind of writing. While I’m always interested in that kind of background, what I appreciated most was his discussion of post-COVID brain. I had wondered if the funk I’ve been in since I caught it on Halloween was a hangover from Covid, or mourning for Martin Morse Wooster, or if I just needed to buck up, since I was still producing material here everyday (and yet never getting around to certain things that seemed to require more “brainality”.)  Covid is a definite contender as the explanation.

(4) NYC LIBRARY BOOK STATS. The Gothamist can tell you “These were the most borrowed books from NYC’s public libraries in 2022” but it can’t tell you why so few of them are genre. However, on the systemwide list the most-borrowed book of the year is listed as a fantasy, The Midnight Library by Matt Haig. The plot as described in the Wikipediabeware spoilers:

The book’s protagonist is a young woman named Nora Seed who is unhappy with her choices in life. During the night, she tries to kill herself but ends up in a library managed by her school librarian, Mrs. Elm. The library is situated between life and death with millions of books filled with stories of her life had she made some different decisions. In this library, she then tries to find the life in which she’s the most content.[3] For example, in one possible life she tries to reunite with her boyfriend and finds herself married to him, but it isn’t the way as she expected. She also sees herself as a glaciologist doing research in the Svalbard archipelago in the Arctic – a very different life from the one she tries to escape, but not necessarily a better choice.

Gothamist also has separate lists for each borough. Brooklyn had three books of genre interest in the top 10 (the Haig book was one of them).

(5) PHONING A NEW HOME. The original mechanical model from E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial has snagged a staggering sum: “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial Model from 1982 Spielberg Classic Sells for $2.5 Million at Auction”.

…The highly desirable film item (for those with very deep pockets) was part of the recent Julien’s Auctions and TCM Presents: Icons and Idols Hollywood auction, going for a final bid of $2,560,000, according to the auction house.

The no. 1 “hero” used with the actors, the aluminum alloy skeletal model of E.T. was originally estimated by the auction house to fetch between $2 million and $4 million. Bidding opened at $500,000. The winner was not identified….

(6) MEMORY LANE.

1999 [By Cat Eldridge.] Mary Poppins Statue in Maryborough, Australia

She stands but five feet tall and weighing only two hundred twenty of bronze statue , this particular Mary Poppins, the world’s most famous nanny, keeps an eye on the comings and goings in Kent Street and Richmond Lane, in Maryborough,Queensland, Australia.

So how did she come to be here, and why this street corner? Well Mary Poppins’ creator, author P.L. Travers, was born Helen Lyndon Goff, in one of the rooms on the second floor of the building adjacent to the statue, and she lived in this Australian city for the first eighteen months of her life. Not long I’ll frankly admit but a City will claim an author based on the most tenuous of connections, won’t they?

Formerly the Union Bank, Travers’ first home provided lodgings to the family of the Union Bank manager – a position that was occupied by her father, Travers Goff, and immortalised in the character, Mr Banks. Although she later went to some lengths to hide her Australian origins, the writer’s home town has gone to quite some effort to commemorate her life and work. She would, after moving to England, vist Australia.

Maryborough residents and the Proud Marys Association, the group that was founded in 1999 and was aimed at celebrating all things Maryborough and Mary Poppins,  raised more than $40,000, with an additional $5500 each from its city council and the state government for the statue.

Dr Rhyl Hinwood, who did the model in clay in part because she broke one of her wrists and could not work in harder material choose a local lass, Imogen Marnane from Atherton, as the model for Poppins. That story and the process of her working on the statue is well worth reading here.

Now do keep in mind it is not based the Disney character but on the one from Helen’s books, so it, as you’ll see in the image below, is rather different from that Poppins. 

And then there’s the Poppins traffic lights there….

(7) GABRIELLE BEAUMONT (1942-2022). Television director Gabrielle Beaumont died October 8 at the age of 80 reports the Guardian. She was best known for her work on Dynasty, however, she also had many genre credits.

…In 1989, she directed Star Trek: The Next Generation, the first live-action sequel to the 1960s sci-fi series. Later, she worked on episodes of the Star Trek series Deep Space Nine (in 1997) and Voyager (in 2000).

At the beginning of the 80s, Beaumont was among fewer than 100 professional female directors in the US, whereas by the end of the decade there were about 500….

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 19, 1902 Sir Ralph Richardson. God in Time Bandits but also Earl of Greystoke in Greystoke:The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes and Chief Rabbit In Watership Down. Also the Head Librarian in Rollerball. And a caterpillar in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. And Satan in the Tales from the Crypt film. Oh my, he had an interesting genre film career. (Died 1983.)
  • Born December 19, 1922 Harry Warner Jr.. Fan historian and legendary letterhack. Dubbed The Hermit of Hagerstown, as he was rather reclusive, he did nearly all his fanac on paper. He’s known now for the many LOCs he wrote and his two books on fanhistory, All Our Yesterdays, (1969), and A Wealth of Fable which won a Hugo in 1993 for Best Related Book. Rich Lynch has a full essay, “Remembering Harry”, here today. (Died 2003.)
  • Born December 19, 1952 Linda Woolverton, 70. She’s the first woman to have written a Disney animated feature, Beauty and the Beast, which was the first animated film ever to be nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards. She also co-wrote The Lion King screenplay (along with Irene Mecchi and Jonathan Roberts).
  • Born December 19, 1960 Dave Hutchinson, 62. Best known for his absolutely fascinating Fractured Europe series which consists of Europe in AutumnEurope at MidnightEurope in Winter and Europe at Dawn. Stellar reading! He’s got a lot of other genre fiction as well but I’ve not delved into that yet.
  • Born December 19, 1961 Matthew Waterhouse, 61. He’s best known as Adric, companion to the Fourth and Fifth Doctors. He was the youngest actor in that role at the time. And yes, he too shows up in The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot
  • Born December 19, 1972 Alyssa Milano50. Phoebe Halliwell in the long running original and need I say only great Charmed series. Other genre appearances include on Outer LimitsFantasy Island, Embrace of the VampireDouble Dragon, the Young Justice animated series as the voice of Poison Ivy and more voice work in DC’s The Spectre, an excellent animated short.
  • Born December 19, 1979 Robin Sloan, 43. Author of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore which definitely has fantasy elements in it is a damn fine read. His second novel which he sent me for reviewing and I need to write up soon, is Sourdough or, Lois and Her Adventures in the Underground Market, and it is improbably genre but is also weirdly about food as well. Quite tasty it is. Am I rambling? So I am.  And he’s a really nice person as well. 

(9) HEARING FROM HISTORY. Another birthday is being celebrated today by the BBC World Service. Hear a tribute in “The World Service is 90” at BBC Sounds.

For 90 years the BBC World Service has been broadcasting in dozens of languages to audiences so huge they are counted in the tens of millions all over the globe. World Service began transmitting on 19 December 1932. It was called the BBC Empire Service, speaking in slow English via crackly short-wave radio to a now-vanished Empire which then ruled a fifth of the globe. The Second World War saw radio services expand massively, broadcasting in more than 40 languages to listeners hungry for truth and facts they could trust. In every crisis and conflict since, individual voices out of the air have offered news, but also drama, music, education and sometimes hope to their audiences. In a special 90th anniversary programme, the broadcaster Nick Rankin, who worked for more than 20 years at the BBC, digs into a treasure trove of sound archive and talks to journalists who made and still make the BBC World Service such a remarkable network. With Peter Pallai of Hungarian Section; Seva Novgorodsev MBE, star of BBC Russian Service; Najiba Kasraee, broadcasting to Afghanistan and Elizabeth Ohene from Focus on Africa.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • The Far Side has a grotesque idea about the fate of a beloved Peter Pan character.  
  • The Far Side also introduces us to three silly scientists with an insurmountable problem.
  • Popeye takes an unexpectedly Lovecraftian turn.

(11) OPPENHEIMER SECURITY DECISION REVERSED. “J. Robert Oppenheimer Cleared of ‘Black Mark’ After 68 Years” reports the New York Times.

The Secretary of Energy on Friday nullified a 1954 decision to revoke the security clearance of J. Robert Oppenheimer, a top government scientist who led the making of the atomic bomb in World War II but fell under suspicion of being a Soviet spy at the height of the McCarthy era.

In a statement, the Energy Secretary, Jennifer M. Granholm, said the decision of her predecessor agency, the Atomic Energy Commission, to bar Oppenheimer’s clearance was the result of a “flawed process” that violated its own regulations.

As time has passed, she added, “more evidence has come to light of the bias and unfairness of the process that Dr. Oppenheimer was subjected to while the evidence of his loyalty and love of country have only been further affirmed.”

Historians, who have long lobbied for the reversal of the clearance revocation, praised the vacating order as a milestone….

“I’m overwhelmed with emotion,” said Kai Bird, co-author with Martin J. Sherwin of “American Prometheus,” a 2005 biography of Oppenheimer that won the Pulitzer Prize.

“History matters and what was done to Oppenheimer in 1954 was a travesty, a black mark on the honor of the nation,” Mr. Bird said. “Students of American history will now be able to read the last chapter and see that what was done to Oppenheimer in that kangaroo court proceeding was not the last word.”…

(12) THE YEAR’S FANCIEST PHYSICS TRICKS. Scientific American’s year-end roundup lists “6 Times Quantum Physics Blew Our Minds in 2022”. “Quantum telepathy, laser-based time crystals, a glow from empty space and an “unreal” universe—these are the most awesome (and awfully hard to understand) results from the subatomic realm we encountered in 2022…”

Here’s the first example:

THE UNIVERSE IS KINDA, SORTA UNREAL

This year’s Nobel Prize in Physics went to researchers who spent decades proving the universe is not locally real—a feat that, to quote humorist Douglas Adams, “has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.” “Local” here means any object—an apple, for instance—can be influenced only by its immediate surroundings, not by happenings on the other side of the universe. “Real” means every object has definite properties regardless of how it is observed—no amount of squinting will change an apple from red to green. Except careful, repeated experimentation with entangled particles has conclusively shown such seemingly sensible restrictions do not always apply to the quantum realm, the most fundamental level of reality we can measure. If you’re uncertain as to what exactly the demise of local realism means for life, the universe and, well, everything, don’t worry: you’re not alone—physicists are befuddled, too.

(13) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Ryan George brings us into the meeting between “The Guys Who Wrote Frosty The Snowman”.

[Thanks to Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Rob Thornton, Cathy Green, Somtow Sucharitkul, Gordon Van Gelder, Daniel Dern, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Cat Eldridge.]

Sucharitkul Opera Opens in Germany

Somtow Sucharitkul’s opera Helena Citrónová, based on an Auschwitz prisoner’s relationship with an SS guard, has opened in the Bavarian town of Hof in Germany.

As Director Lothar Krause describes it: “Sucharitkul’s work asks questions to which there are no answers: What exactly was the love between Helena Citrónová and Franz Wunsch? Did love make the SS man a better person? And Helena a traitor? Did this connection save lives or only prolong the suffering of the survivors?”

Somtow calls it a “staggering German production” and says, “It’s a big breakthrough for my work, being seriously talked about in European opera circles these days. It’s running for 6 or 7 more performances, until November 20.”

Present at the opening were many of his international friends from the music and sff communities, and they ran a mini OperaCon at the hotel across from the opera house with a panel discussion, a tour of the theater and much else.

The opera was composed to mark the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz by the Red Army, and first performed in Thailand in 2020, where the production was partially sponsored by Thailand’s ministry of culture and the Israeli, Austrian and German embassies. The original performance was in English.  A special German translation was made for the current production, and the text is online here.

LA Fans, Here’s Your Chance to See Somtow Sucharitkul’s Movie “Maestro”

Somtow Sucharitkul and Paul Spurrier’s film The Maestro: A Symphony of Terror is opening at the Laemmle Glendale on Friday. The first showing is at 10:15 p.m., with others scheduled over the course of the week at different times. The film has won 21 international awards so far.

As Somtow told an interviewer from The Hollywood Reporter:

“It’s basically Mr. Holland’s Opus meets The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” jokes Somtow Sucharitkul, the 68-year-old screenwriter, and star, of The Maestro. “I play the murderous, mad conductor. Some might call that typecasting.”

Classical music fans know Somtow as the pioneering composer of operas and symphonies, including Requiem: In Memoriam 9/11 — commissioned by the government of Thailand as a gift for the victims of the 9/11, as the artistic director of Opera Siam and as the founder, in 2010, of Thai youth orchestra the Siam Sinfonietta. The Sinfonietta has performed in Carnegie Hall and Bayreuth, and won Austria’s Summa Cum Laude International Youth Music Festival in 2012.

Well before any of that happened, science fiction fans know him as the author of the Mallworld, Inquestor, and Aquila series. And in the horror genre he wrote Vampire Junction and a series of related novels and stories. His other horror books include the werewolf-Western novel Moon Dance, the zombie-American Civil War novel Darker Angels, and the collections Tagging the Moon: Fairy Tales of L.A. and The Pavilion of Frozen Women. In 1997, he wrote the juvenile vampire novel, The Vampire’s Beautiful Daughter. He also wrote and directed the cult horror film The Laughing Dead and co-wrote the Roger Corman-produced Bram Stoker’s Burial of the Rats (1995). He was even president of the Horror Writers Association from 1998 to 2000.

The Maestro tells the story of Arun, a composer and conductor who tried to make it in Europe but has ended up teaching high society children in Thailand. For years, he has been composing a magnum opus, The Tongues of Angels, and dreams of premiering it under his own baton. The Covid crisis allows him to create an imagined utopia for gifted young musicians in the middle of nowhere, far from the pestilence and corruption of the outside world … but things go horribly wrong.

Pixel Scroll 5/14/22 Scroll Me A Pixel I’ll Be Back For Breakfast

(1) BRAM STOKER LOSERS UNITE. Scott Edelman has famously lost many Bram Stoker Awards – and he has the card to prove it. He invites tonight’s unlucky nominees to become card-carrying members of this group.  

Tonight’s Bram Stoker awards ceremony means — there will be winners — but also losers. If any of the new Never Winner losers created tonight would like this Susan Lucci of the HWA to mail you one of my “It is an honor to be nominated” cards — ask, and one will be sent your way!

However — if you’re a previous Never Winner in Denver tonight who already owns of one of these cards and should lose yet again — please track down Lee Murray, whom I have deputized to punch you a new hole. Good … luck?

(2) LIVE LONG ENOUGH, YOU’LL PROSPER. Somtow Sucharitkul tells Facebook readers why a recent Star Trek episode rang a bell. BEWARE SPOILERS.

SPOILER COMING – But For What Exactly?

The Enterprise discovers that a comet is hurtling toward a planet that doesn’t have warp drive and whose civilization they cannot interfere with because of the prime directive. Presently, they discover that the comet is alive, and has some kind of intelligence. The only way to save the planet is to find a way to communicate with the comet, and it turns out that the key is to sing to it a folk song from someone’s homeworld….

Yes, this is the plot of the new episode of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, but it’s also the plot of my 2001 Star Trek Novel, “Do Comets Dream?” which is itself vaguely adapted from a tale told in my Inquestor series, “The Comet That Cried for Its Mother”, originally published in AMAZING….

(3) IT’S A MASSACRE. “Everything on Broadcast TV Just Got Canceled” Vanity Fair declared yesterday. It will feel like that if you watched sff on CW.

In the ever-changing television landscape, this past Thursday was a particularly tough time to be a broadcast television show. Per TV Guide, 17 broadcast television shows were officially given the axe by their respective networks yesterday. “It’s the Red Wedding at WBTV/CW today,” tweeted showrunner Julie Plec, whose CW shows Legacies and Roswell, New Mexico were both among the carnage. “Much more to say, but not today. Loads of gratitude coming for fans and cast and crew in future tweets. But today, we mourn.” 

The CW was hit particularly hard, with nine shows getting chopped in all. Along with Legacies and Roswell, New Mexico, the teen-focused network said goodbye to Dynasty after five seasons, In The Dark after four seasons, and Batwoman after three seasons. The network is currently up for sale, which may explain why it was particularly ruthless with its cancellations and downsizing its slate from 19 original scripted series to 11 original scripted series ahead of next fall….

(4) WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT, ALFIE? James Wallace Harris reprints and analyzes Alfred Bester’s vintage analysis of the genre in “Blows Against The Empire: Alfred Bester’s 1953 Critique of Science Fiction” at Classics of Science Fiction (a 2020 post).

…Bester is looking back over what many have called the Golden Age of Science Fiction and burning it down with his blaster. I wish I could find the fan reaction to this essay from back in the 1950s, but Google only returns seven results. And for those who aren’t familiar with the name Alfred Bester, he wrote two books in the 1950s that became classics: The Stars My Destination and The Demolished Man. At the time Bester had a reputation for being a writing stylist and innovator. So getting a dressing down from one of our own must have been painful.

I wonder what I would have thought if I read and understood this essay in 1962 when I first began reading science fiction. Science fiction wasn’t popular then like it is today. Science fiction was one step up from comic books, and you were called retarded (their word back then) by your peers if you read comics. I remembered also being called a geek and zero for reading SF. Back then those terms were the social kiss of death. I had two buddies that read science fiction in high school and I remember being very hurt by George’s mother when she sat is down one day and gave us a serious talk about evils of reading science fiction. George’s mother was a sophisticated, well-educated, widely traveled woman, and I was always impressed with her thoughts, so it really hurt when she tried to convince us we were reading trash. She implied reading SF was a sign we were emotionally and intellectually immature. We thought we were Slans…

(5) OPPOSING BOOK BANS. “More than 25 Organizations Join ALA’s ‘Unite Against Book Bans’ Campaign”. Among them are the Authors Guild and Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.

The American Library Association this week announced that more than 25 major organizations, including a host of publishers and author and bookseller groups, have joined its Unite Against Book Bans campaign, an effort to help communities defend the freedom to read. The ALA launched the campaign in April to raise awareness about the surge in book bans and other legislation targeting the work of schools and libraries, with support from the Steve and Loree Potash Family Foundation and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

“Our partners and supporters are critical in moving the needle to ultimately bring an end to book bans,” said Deborah Caldwell-Stone, director of the ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom. “It’s time that policymakers understand the severity of this issue. ALA is taking the steps necessary to protect individuals’ access to information, but we can’t do this alone.”…

“Three-quarters of the 1,100 plus books currently banned in public schools in the United States have been written by authors of color, LGBTQ authors, or other traditionally marginalized voices,” said Authors Guild CEO Mary Rasenberger, in a statement.

(6) NAMING CONVENTIONS. He has a point –

(7) PERSONAL TAXONOMY. Joe Vasicek, often quoted here in the Sad Puppy days of 2015, shares what he calls “an interesting personal discovery” at One Thousand And One Parsecs.

…I just made a very interesting personal discovery, gleaned from the data on my reading of the Hugo and Nebula winning books. Of the 110 novels that have won either award, I have now read all but 16 of them, which is enough data to get some representative results.

One of the best predictors that I will DNF a book is whether the author is a childless woman. Of the 18 books written by childless women, I have DNFed all but three of them (Downbelow Station by C.J. Cherryh, which I read years ago and would probably DNF today, and Network Effect by Martha Wells, which is a genuinely entertaining read, and Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norell by Susanna Clarke, which I haven’t read yet). For childless men, it’s a little bit more of a crapshoot: of the 31 books written by childless men, I’ve DNFed 16 of them and read 11, but only 6 of those are books I thought were worth owning.

Conversely, one of the best predictors that I will enjoy a book is whether the author is a mother. Of the 20 books written by mothers, I have DNFed only 6 of them and read 8, all of which I think are worth owning. Of the six remaining books that I haven’t read yet, I will almost certainly finish four of them, and may finish all six. The only book by an author I haven’t already read and enjoyed is The Speed of Dark by Elizabeth Moon, which I am currently reading and will probably finish next week…

(8) LIGHT MY FIRE. “Firestarter (2022) vs. Firestarter (1984): Which Stephen King adaptation burns brightest?” – Clark Collis supplies his answer at Entertainment Weekly. The summaries of each film make good reading, too.

… The 1984 film stars Barrymore as Charlie McGee, a young girl with pyrokinetic powers who is fleeing from a sinister government organization called “The Shop” with her father Andy, played by David Keith. Andy has been training Charlie to use her powers properly by getting her to turn bread into toast with her mind but it is the unfortunate Shop agents who get browned as Barrymore’s character periodically sets them ablaze. The supporting cast is notable for a few reasons. Oscar-winners Art Carney and Louise Fletcher play a couple who befriend Charlie and Andy, while Martin Sheen portrays the head of the Shop just a year after his performance in David Cronenberg’s adaptation of King’s The Dead Zone. Finally, another Academy Award-winner, George C. Scott, is inexplicably cast as the seemingly First Nation assassin John Rainbird, who has a fondness for punching his targets’ noses into their brains and an unhealthy interest in our heroine…

(9) TOM SWIFT. Edge Media Network supplies an intro as “First Trailer Drops for New CW Series ‘Tom Swift’ Featuring a Black Gay Lead Character”.

…”Tian Richards already made his debut as Tom Swift on one of the best episodes of ‘Nancy Drew’ yet, but get ready to see him in a whole new light on his own show,” EW said.

As previously reported at EDGE, being gay was a prominent part of the character’s depiction when he made a guest appearance on “Nancy Drew.” Sparks flew between Tom Swift and “Nancy Drew” regular character Nick (Tunji Kasim), leading to an onscreen kiss….

(10) WHEN I USE A WORD. At Tor.com, CD Covington’s series on sff linguistics finally tackles the 500-lb gorilla: “On Tolkien, Translation, Linguistics, and the Languages of Middle-earth”.

Since I started this column in 2019, I’ve been avoiding one famous—possibly even the most famous—example of using linguistics in SFF literature: the work of J.R.R. Tolkien. It’s not because I don’t like Lord of the Rings—quite the opposite, in fact. It’s just such an obvious topic, and one which people have devoted decades of scholarship to exploring. Hell, my Old English prof has published academic scholarship on the topic, in addition to teaching a Maymester class on the languages of Middle-earth. But I suppose it’s time to dedicate a column to the book that first made me think language was cool and to the man who wrote it.

(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

2010 [By Cat Eldridge.] I’m starting this essay by acknowledging that everyone has their favorite Robin Hood. My all-time favorite is the one in the Robin of Sherwood series, Robin of Loxley as played by Michael Praed. And yes, I acknowledge that the second Robin, Robert of Huntingdon as performed by Jason Connery was quite excellent too. Richard Carpenter did himself proud with this series. 

But I’m here tonight to talk about one of my favorite Robin Hood films (the other being Robin and Marian.) Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood premiered in the States on this date twelve years ago. It was written by Brian Helgeland who had done mostly horror films before this but was also the screenwriter of the beloved A Knight’s Tale. He along with Ethan Reiff and Cyrus Voris were responsible for the story.

It was produced by Ridley Scott, Brian Grazer and Russell Crowe. Yes the actor who played Robin Hood here helped produce it. So let’s turn to casting. 

I think Crowe made an outstanding Robin Longstride and Cate Blanchett as Marion Loxley was a great casting move. Other interesting casting here includes Max von Sydow as Sir Walter Loxley and William Hurt as William Marshal. This was not a cast of unknowns. I thought Matthew Macfadyen as the Sheriff of Nottingham was interesting as the actor usually had much lighter roles. Mark Addy as Friar Tuck was well cast. 

It was a very expensive undertaking costing at least two hundred million and it took in least three hundred and twenty-five million, so it likely just broke even.

And what was the opinion of critics at the time? Well it was decidedly mixed with Deborah Ross of UK’s Spectator on the side of the dissenters: “Scott decided, I think, to get away from the whole campy thing in tights business and wanted to make this ‘real’. So there is sweat and dirt and rats at the cheese and even bad teeth, which is fair enough, but it is also joyless.” 

But Richard Klein of Shadows on the Wall liked it: “Ridley Scott and his usual Oscar-winning crewmates turn the familiar old English legend it into a robust, thumping epic. The pacing is a bit uneven, but it keeps us thoroughly engaged.”

Let’s finish off with Jeffrey Westhoff of the Northwest Herald:  “Robin Hood doesn’t become the swashbuckling bandit of Sherwood until the final moments, when the tag “And so the legend begins” appears. You may walk away liking this Robin Hood well enough, but wishing you had seen the sequel.” 

It gets just a fifty eight percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. 

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born May 14, 1929 Kay Elliot. The actress who shows up in “I, Mudd” as the android form of Harry Mudd’s wife Stella Mudd. SPOILER ALERT (I promised our OGH I’d put these in. It’s possible someone here hasn’t seen “I, Mudd”.) Need I say she ends getting the upper hand in the end? She also had appearences in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. as Miss Prendergast in “The It’s All Greek to Me Affair” episode and multiple roles on Bewitched. That’s it, but she died young. (Died 1982.)
  • Born May 14, 1933 Siân Phillips, 89. Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam in David Lynch’s Dune, Cassiopeia in Clash of The Titans, Grandmother in A Christmas Carol, Charal in Ewoks: The Battle for Endor, and The Red Queen in Alice Through the Looking Glass. And I’m about to see her on Silent Witness.
  • Born May 14, 1935 Peter J. Reed. A Vonnegut specialist with a long track history starting with Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.; The Vonnegut Chronicles: Interviews and Essays that he wrote with Marc Leeds; Kurt Vonnegut: Images and Representations again with Leeds again. He also wrote a handful of essays such as “Hurting ’til It Laughs: The Painful-Comic Science Fiction Stories of Kurt Vonnegut” and “Kurt Vonnegut’s Bitter Fool: Kilgore Trout”. (Died 2018.)
  • Born May 14, 1944 George Lucas, 78. For better and worse, he created the Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises. Raiders of the Lost Ark and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade are fine, the others suck royally in my opinion. Later Star Wars films are meh though I adore the original trilogy. And let’s not forget THX 1138. So you ask, what are my favorite works that he was involved in? LabyrinthRaiders of the Lost Ark, The Empire Strikes Back and Willow. Yes Willow. Oh, and The Young Indiana Jones series which I really, really loved. 
  • Born May 14, 1945 Francesca Annis, 77. Lady Jessica in David Lynch’s Dune, Lady Macbeth in Roman Polanski’s Macbeth. I know only two roles, but what a pair of roles they were! She also appeared in Krull as The Widow of The Web but I’ll be damned if I can remember her in that role. 
  • Born May 14, 1952 Kathleen Ann Goonan. Her Nanotech Quartet is most excellent, particularly the first novel, Queen City Jazz. Her only Award was given for In War Times which garnered a John W. Campbell Memorial Award. She’s wrote an interesting essay on the relationship between sf and music, “Science Fiction and All That Jazz”. (Died 2021.)
  • Born May 14, 1952 Robert Zemeckis, 70. He’s responsible for some of my favorite films including the Back to the Future trilogy, The Muppet Christmas CarolThe WitchesWho Framed Roger Rabbit and the savagely funny in a twisted sort of way Death Becomes Her. So what’s your favorite films that’s he had a hand in? 
  • Born May 14, 1955 Rob Tapert, 67. I’d say he’s best known for co-creating Xena: Warrior Princess. He also produced and/or wrote several other television series including Hercules: The Legendary JourneysM.A.N.T.I.S. and American Gothic. Tapert also co-created the prequel series Young Hercules which I loved. He’s married to actress Lucy Lawless.

(13) COMICS SECTION.

  • Let Nick Mamatas introduce Tom Gauld’s strip for today’s Guardian.
  • Next, here’s Gauld’s latest comic for New Scientist.

(14) CLUES OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Keith Roysdon remembers newspaper crime comic strips (remember Steve Roper and Mike Nomad?) “Black and White and Noir All Over: A Brief History of Vintage Newspaper Crime Comic Strips” at CrimeReads.

Who could have known that newspaper comic strips and crime stories, including noir, were a match made in heaven?

Newspaper comic strips are an artistic genre that’s largely forgotten now. The strips that remain are for the most part humor strips like “Garfield.” A handful of dramatic strips are still published.

But serial dramatic strips were once a staple of the newspaper comics page. Many of them were soap opera-ish strips like “Mary Worth” and “Apartment 3-G.” To say that drama strips were slow moving is an understatement. I wish I could remember who joked that they came back to read “Apartment 3-G” after decades away and the caption read, “Later that afternoon …”

But that deliberate pace – well, maybe not quite that deliberate – was perfect for teasing out a good crime storyline. And crime and noir look awesome in black and white newsprint.

(15) MUSIC WITHOUT THE SPHERES. “Peace is Still Weirder Than War” asserts Laurie Penny in a very entertaining essay about Eurovision. Admittedly, nothing to do with sff except a brief reference to Catherynne M. Valente’s Space Opera at the end.

…Britain is a lot worse at Eurovision than you’d think. We’ve spent half a century distracting the world from our post imperial decline by flinging out wild handfuls of pop music and self deprecating humour, so we really ought to be able to deploy them here. Sadly, we’re scuppered every time by our even more fundamental fear of looking daft in front of the French.

We’ve made worse choices for the same reason.

But reasons are not excuses, and the land of Monty Python, David Bowie and the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band should be able to do better than another basic bearded guitar boy. We do have the best tv commentary by miles, after Graham Norton seamlessly accepted the baton from the great Terry Wogan, proving once again that Britain’s comfort zone is making fun of other people.  Yes. Hi.

…For related reasons, Ukraine are likely to win this year. Russia can sulk all they like, just like they did when Ukraine stood down from Eurovision in 2015with the reasonable excuse that they were busy being invaded by Russia. in 2016, Ukraine was back, and it won, narrowly beating Russia, whose entry looked like someone repurposed a rave club as a re-education camp without redecorating. Not only did Ukraine win, it won with a song called ‘1944’, about the Soviet genocide of the Crimean Tartars. Russia has not forgotten this. State Television spent a long time denouncing Eurovision as a degenerate spectacle of homosexuality, which did as much good as denouncing bears for defecating in the woods.

But Russia has never really been any good at Eurovision. This year they’re not even going, partly because the Kremlin has no interest in any competition it can’t cheat at, but mostly because they got banned. It’s hard to get banned from Eurovision, but invading a neighboring country and massacring tens of thousands of people will do the trick….

(16) STOP, NOW, WHAT’S THAT SOUND? ScreenRant suggests “10 ‘Subtly’ Scary Horror Movies (For Horror Fans Sick Of Jump Scares)”. A Bradbury adaptation leads the list!

Sometimes the unknown or the unnatural can be much more terrifying than any masked slasher with a chainsaw.

….It’s not so much that these films rely on someone hiding in the shadows and yelling boo, but rather the audience knows something is wrong but can’t identify what. While jump scares and other such tactics might be sparsely employed, the real horror in these movies comes from both knowing and not knowing what might be in store.

Something Wicked This Way Comes (1983)

Sometimes, the scariest movies are the ones where nobody dies, and Disney’s Something Wicked This Way Comes is a brilliant example. Based on the book by Ray Bradbury, the film tells the story of what happens when a mysterious carnival lurks into town one windy October.

Led by the mysterious Mr. Dark, Cooger and Dark’s Shadow Show has the uncanny ability to grant anyone’s wishes and make their dreams come true. But like with most things Disney, all magic comes at a price. When two boys and the local librarian are able to see through the illusions, a slow-burning battle with the freakshow for the souls of the town takes place.

(17) THE HUNDREDTH SHADE. Paul Weimer reviews “Gregory A. Wilson’s Grayshade” at A Green Man Review.

… We meet Grayshade in the midst of an assassination that doesn’t go quite to plan, and a relatively atypical assassination target at that – the outwardly flighty socialite wife of a political powerful man, which in itself seems odd to Grayshade. We come to Grayshade at a point in his career where he is extremely experienced and very good at what he does. This is no “coming of age” novel where we follow the assassin through his first mission; rather this is someone who has past adventures and missions behind him, which grounds him for when things do not go according to his expectations. Things spiral out from the assassination not going right, to the point where Grayshade starts to question his purpose, his role, and the entire Order.

This makes a lot of the novel about information control and dissemination, which in turn reminds me of Wilson’s gamemastering….

(18) BAD BACK TO THE FUTURE. At Galactic Journey, Jessica Holmes gives us an recap of the latest (in 1967!) episode of Doctor Who. “[May 14, 1967] Ben And Polly To The Departure Gate (Doctor Who: The Faceless Ones [Part 2])”.

…We left things off with the Doctor having a sudden attack of a bad back, and things only get worse, with Spencer disabling Jamie and Samantha within moments of the episode’s opening.

Now would be a good time to finish them off, you’d think, but instead he sets up some sort of death ray to kill them… eventually. The thing moves so slowly the trio would probably have time for a round of golf before the ray fries them. Though mostly paralysed, Samantha conveniently has enough control of her faculties to get her mirror from her bag and hand it to Jamie, who uses it to reflect the beam and blow up the death ray machine.

With the machine destroyed, their partial paralysis wears off, which doesn’t make an awful lot of sense to me. I thought it was the freezing pen that paralysed them? And I’m still not sure what that device on the Doctor’s back did to him…

(19) AND YOU ARE THERE. This fossil is in a way a snapshot: “How the dinosaurs died: New evidence In PBS documentary” – the Washington Post digs into the story.

…The ground started shaking with intense vibrations while water in the nearby sea sloshed about in response. The sky filled with burning embers, which drifted down and set fire to the lush primordial forest.

Thescelosaurus panicked and looked to flee — but it was too late. Everything changed in a heartbeat as a 30-foot-high wave of mud and debris came racing up the seaway from the south, sweeping away life and limb in the process. The dinosaur was caught in the destructive deluge, its leg ripped off at the hip by the devastating surge.

That moment — 66 million years ago at the end of the Cretaceous period, when an earth-shattering asteroid ended the reign of the dinosaurs — is frozen in time today through a stunning fossil found last year at the Tanis dig site in North Dakota. This perfectly preserved leg clearly shows the skin, muscle and bones of the three-toed Thescelosaurus.

While the details of the death scenario described above are embellished, they’re based on remarkable new findings and accounts by Robert DePalma, lead paleontologist at Tanis.

“We’re never going to say with 100 percent certainty that this leg came from an animal that died on that day,” the scientist said. “The thing we can do is determine the likelihood that it died the day the meteor struck. When we look at the preservation of the leg and the skin around the articulated bones, we’re talking on the day of impact or right before. There was no advanced decay.”…

(20) DRAWN WITHOUT DRAWERS. CBR.com remembers: “Star Wars: Why George Lucas Had to Fight for Chewbacca Not to Wear Shorts”.

…So he wanted McQuarrie to go beyond humanoid and try to do more of an animal design for Chewbacca. Lucas’ recall led him to a recent issue of Analog Magazine, which had a short novel in it by a pre-Game of Thrones George R.R. Martin called “And Seven Times Never Kill a Man.” Artist John Schoenherr had designed some characters for Martin’s story and they made it to the cover of the magazine…

Lucas sent the drawings to McQuarrie and basically said, “Draw Chewbacca like that” and so that’s what McQuarrie did…

The problem with having basically a giant dog as a character is that dogs, well, you know, don’t have pants. McQuarrie kept coming up with some designs with the character in pants and Lucas kept saying no and that carried over to when the film started production. Lucas’ specific vision of what Chewbacca would look like required him to not have pants and that was a bit of a strange thing for the studio executives at the time.

During the DVD commentary for the 2004 release of Star Wars on DVD, Mark Hamill recalled what Lucas had to go through with regard to Chewbacca’s lack of clothes. “I remember the memos from 20th Century Fox. Can you put a pair of lederhosen on the Wookiee?’ All they could think of was, ‘This character has no pants on!’ This went back and forth. They did sketches of him in culottes and baggy shorts.”…

(21) BEING SNARKY. Would Lewis Carroll readers with an unassigned two hours or so available be interested in the opportunity to watch this complete production? “The Hunting of the Snark” posted by Official London Theatre.

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