Pixel Scroll 2/2/23 Out Fifthed The Web And Pixeled Wide; The Mirror Scroll’d From Side To Side

(1) WRITER PROMOTIONAL TOOLS MAY BE INTERRUPTED. K. Tempest Bradford draws attention to this news:

(2) HERE’S YOUR CHANCE. Publishers Weekly has put out a “Call for Info: SF, Fantasy & Horror (Adult) “ seeking pitches on sffh themes.

Deadline: Feb. 17. Issue: Apr. 17. For this feature, we’d like to speak with authors about creating non-human characters and cultures—aliens, monsters, A.I., and more. We’re also interested in romantic fantasy, Gothic horror, and class conscious, “eat the rich,” near-future SF. Pitches on other SFFH themes are welcome; please limit these to standalone titles and first-in-series books. Pub dates: Apr.–Sept. Adult books and new titles only, please; no reprints. Submission deadline: Feb. 17. Visit publishersweekly.com/ SFFHspring23 to submit your titles

(3) NOT JUST ANY BOT. Martha Wells guests on the If This Goes On (Don’t Panic) podcast. The next Murderbot book, System Collapse, will be released November 14. See the cover here.

In this episode, Alan and Diane chat with author, Martha Wells, about Neurodiversity, writing action scenes, the origins of ART (the sentient spaceship), developing humor in writing, and Martha’s new book.

(4) HARD SCIENCE. Jack Dann will be giving a talk for the Tucson Hard-Science SF Channel about the craft of writing, which will include what he calls “The Keys to the Kingdom” and “Writing As Cartography”. He says, “Basically, this will be a craft-based Jack Dann schmooze session relating to the insane joys and anxieties of becoming a writer and (Heaven forfend!) being a writer.” You’ll be able to find it here on YouTube on February 4 8:00 p.m. Eastern.

(5) OCTOTHORPE. In episode 76, the Octothorpe crew ask “Does It Matter What We Think?”

John Coxon is watching movies, Alison Scott is making games, and Liz Batty isn’t picky. The three of us celebrate Groundhog Day by talking about the Chengdu Worldcon again, and again, and again…  

(6) WITNESSES TO FANHISTORY. Fanac.org has several more “FanHistory Project Zoom Sessions” scheduled in the months to come. Everyone who wants access should write to [email protected] to be put on the attendance list.

Schedule for Future sessions

  • February 11, 2023 – 4PM EST, 1PM PST, 9PM GMT London, Sunday the 12th at 8AM in Melbourne, AU – New York Fandom in the 70s with Moshe Feder, Andy Porter, Steve Rosenstein and Jerry Kaufman
  • March 18, 2023 – 4PM EDT, 3PM CDT, 1PM PDT, 8PM London, March 19 at 7AM in Melbourne, AU – Feminism in 1970s Fandom, with Janice Bogstad, Jeanne Gomoll, and Lucy Huntzinger
  • April 22, 2023 – 7PM EDT, 4PM PDT, April 23 at 12AM in London, 9AM in Melbourne AU – Wrong Turns on the Wallaby Track Part 2, with Leigh Edmonds and Perry Middlemiss

(7) EVERGREEN. Gary Farber pointed out the timeless timeliness of John Scalzi’s 2017 post “The Brain Eater” which deals with writers whose careers hit a flat trajectory and makes them easy to convince that somebody (not them) is to blame.

(8) BEGIN AS YOU INTEND TO GO ALONG. Slashfilm recommends these as “The 14 Greatest Opening Scenes In Sci-Fi Movies”. This favorite is on the list – but not as the final entry.

The Terminator

Okay, I know what you’re thinking. Why would anyone choose the intro to “The Terminator” over the opening battle in “Terminator 2: Judgement Day”? After all, “T2” has that famous shot of the T-800 stomping a human skull, better VFX, more action, and a smoldering, scarred John Connor (Michael Edwards) watching over it all. Is the original’s first scene really better than that?

The answer, of course, is yes, and it all comes down to tone. Sure, the “T2” scene is fun, and it does a decent job of introducing the myth of John Connor. However, at the end of the day it’s little more than an action scene. By contrast, the “Terminator” opening is exactly as bleak as the concept of the Future War demands. There’s no epic battle here, no heroic stand against the machines — only the charred rubble of Los Angeles, a sea of skulls, and a single, desperate soldier fleeing from the lights of the HK-tanks.  More extermination than war, this scene establishes the rest of the movie’s hopeless tone.

The opening of “The Terminator” is then rounded off by what must surely be the greatest piece of expository text in the history of cinema: “The machines rose from the ashes of the nuclear fire. Their war to exterminate mankind had raged for decades, but the final battle would not be fought in the future. It would be fought here, in our present. Tonight …” How’s that for setting the scene?

(9) MEMORY LANE.

1952 [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

Our next Beginnings comes from Lis Carey who says C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, has the “best opening line ever” and she thinks “the rest of the paragraph lives up to it, but I’m not moving right now”. Fortunately it was easy to retrieve from Kindle. 

This is the novel’s seventy-first anniversary as it was published in the United Kingdom by Geoffrey Bles in 1952.  It is the third of seven novels in The Chronicles of Narnia series. 

Like the other novels, it was illustrated by Pauline Baynes, and her work has been retained in many later editions.

THERE WAS A BOY CALLED EUSTACE Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it. His parents called him Eustace Clarence and masters called him Scrubb. I can’t tell you how his friends spoke to him, for he had none. He didn’t call his Father and Mother “Father” and “Mother,” but Harold and Alberta. They were very up-to-date and advanced people. They were vegetarians, non-smokers and teetotalers and wore a special kind of underclothes. In their house there was very little furniture and very few clothes on beds and the windows were always open. Eustace Clarence liked animals, especially beetles, if they were dead and pinned on a card. He liked books if they were books of information and had pictures of grain elevators or of fat foreign children doing exercises in model schools.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born February 2, 1933 Tony Jay. Ok I mostly remember him as Paracelsus in the superb Beauty and the Beast series even it turns out he was only in a handful of episodes. Other genre endeavors include, and this is lest OGH strangle me only the Choice Bits, included voicing The Supreme Being In Time Bandits, an appearance on Star Trek: The Next Generation as Third Minister Campio In “Cost of Living”, being in The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. (and yes I loved the series) as Judge Silot Gato in “Brisco for the Defense” and Dougie Milford In Twin Peaks. (Died 2006.)
  • Born February 2, 1940 Thomas DischCamp ConcentrationThe Genocides334 and On Wings of Song are among the best New Wave novels ever done.  He was a superb poet as well, though I don’t think any of it was germane to our community. He won the Related Book Hugo for The Dreams Our Stuff Is Made Of at Aussiecon 3, a critical but loving look on the impact of SF on our culture, and was nominated for a number of other Hugos for his short fiction. (Died 2008.)
  • Born February 2, 1944 Geoffrey Hughes. He played Popplewick aka The Valeyard in the Fifth Doctor story, “The Trial of The Time Lord”. Intriguingly he was also the voice of Paul McCartney in Yellow Submarine which surely is genre.  And he as Harper in Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased)’s “Somebody Just Walked Over My Grave” episode. (Died 2012.)
  • Born February 2, 1947 Farrah Fawcett. She has a reasonably good SFF resume and she‘s been in Logan’s Run as Holly 13, and Saturn 3 as Alex. (Does anyone like that film?) She was also Mary Ann Pringle in Myra Breckinridge which might I suppose be considered at least genre adjacent. Or not.  Series wise, she shows up on I Dream of Jeanie as Cindy Tina, has three different roles on The Six Million Man, and was Miss Preem Lila on two episodes of The Flying Nun.  Well, she does fly. (Died 2009.)
  • Born February 2, 1949 Jack McGee, 74. Ok so how many of us remember him as Doc Kreuger on the Space Rangers series? Six episodes all told. Not as short as The Nightmare Cafe I grant you but pretty short. I’ve also got him as Bronto Crane Examiner in The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas, as a Deputy in Stardust, Mike Lutz in seaQuest, Doug Perren in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and a Police Officer Person of Interest, to name some of his genre roles.
  • Born February 2, 1949 Brent Spiner, 74. Data on more Trek shows and films than I’ll bother listing here. I’ll leave it up to all of you to list your favorite moments of him as Data. He also played Dr. Brackish Okun in Independence Day, a role he reprised in Independence Day: Resurgence. He also played Dr. Arik Soong/Lt. Commander Data in four episodes of Enterprise. Over the years, he’s had roles in Twilight Zone, Outer LimitsTales from the DarksideGargoylesYoung JusticeThe Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest HeroesWarehouse 13 and had a lead role in the thirteen-episode run of Threshold
  • Born February 2, 1986 Gemma Arterton, 37. She’s best known for playing Io in Clash of the Titans, Princess Tamina in Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, Strawberry Fields in Quantum of Solace, and as Gretel in Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters. She also voiced Clover in the current Watership Down series.  Really? Strawberry Fields? That original to the Fleming novel? 

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) BUTTERWORTH POETRY COLLECTION. Tomorrow, February 3, Space Cowboy Books launches Michael Butterworth Complete Poems 1965-2020.

For more than fifty years Michael Butterworth, better known for his work as a writer, editor and publisher, has also been a quiet unobtrusive voice in poetry, with roots lying both in the small press poetry journals of the sixties and seventies and in New Wave of Science Fiction. His work is distinguished as much for the restless intelligence, wit and intimacy of his voice as a determination, shown in many of these poems, to paint metaphorical pictures of the perils we face due to our poor regard for the fragile biosphere in which we live. In other poems, he finds, within the events of an ordinary life, scope for the transcendent, and in still others his use of nonsense and absurdity playfully captures the moment, puncturing the illusions of the self. Across his work, elements are reiterated but endlessly transfigured –

The effect is at once familiar and yet profound, in language that has the confessional qualities and simplicity of early influences such as Sylvia Plath and the Beats, and the later influence of Zen poets such as Ryōkan. Occasionally the writing is startlingly radical – a reminder of the poet’s beginnings in the New Wave.

A collection such as this one from Space Cowboy Books is overdue, and Complete Poems: 1965-2020 brings to more deserving attention a less heard voice in modern poetry.

(13) PENNYWORTH DROPPED. “’Pennyworth’ Canceled After Three Seasons at HBO Max” reports Variety.

…The third season, officially titled “Pennyworth: The Origin of Batman’s Butler,” was the first season of the show to originate on HBO Max. The series originally debuted on Epix in 2019, with Season 2 airing on that channel in two chunks in 2020 and 2021. Season 3 launched on HBO Max in October 2022.

“While HBO Max is not moving forward with another season of ‘Pennyworth: The Origin of Batman’s Butler,’ we are very thankful to creator Bruno Heller and executive producers Matthew Patnick, Danny Cannon and John Stephens, along with Warner Bros. Television, for their brilliant, unique, gripping depiction of the origin of Alfred Pennyworth, one of the most iconic characters in the Batman world,” an HBO Max spokesperson said in a statement…. 

(14) I LOVE YOU. Entertainment Weekly made sure we heard that the “Valentine’s Day 2023 New Star Wars Funko Pops Have Arrived”. Use them when “I know” isn’t a sufficient answer.

… Whether this will be your first time buying Valentine’s Day-specific Star Wars Funko Pops or if you started collecting the special holiday Funko Pops last year and are looking to build up your collection, these figures are the perfect way to add a pop of romantic hues and swoon-worthy sci-fi charm to any room. There’s a Kylo Ren, Rey, BB-8, and Princess Leia figure, and each figure is entirely red, white, and pink and costs around $13….

(15) RANSOM TRILOGY DISCUSSED. The Pints with Jack podcast presents “’After Hours’ with Dr. Diana Glyer”.

Dr. Glyer returns to the show to speak in more detail about the book she edited, A Compass for Deep Heaven: Navigating the C. S. Lewis Ransom Trilogy.

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, Joe Siclari, Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day by Andrew (not Werdna).]

Pixel Scroll 1/17/23 A Stone Soup Of Pixels Served Up With Buttered Toasted Scrolls

(1) PLAYING THE TRUMPS. “Stephen Colbert to Produce ‘Chronicles of Amber’ TV Series Adaptation” reports Variety.

Stephen Colbert is joining the team that is adapting Roger Zelazny’s “The Chronicles of Amber” for television [under his Spartina production banner].

… “George R.R. Martin and I have similar dreams,” Colbert said. “I’ve carried the story of Corwin in my head for over 40 years, and I’m thrilled to partner with Skybound and Vincent Newman to bring these worlds to life. All roads lead to Amber, and I’m happy to be walking them.”

“The Chronicles of Amber” follows the story of Corwin, who is said to “awaken on Earth with no memory, but soon finds he is a prince of a royal family that has the ability to travel through different dimensions of reality (called ‘shadows’) and rules over the one true world, Amber.”…

(2) MORE LORE. Season 3 of The Mandalorian airs 3 March 1 on Disney+.

The journeys of the Mandalorian through the Star Wars galaxy continue. Once a lone bounty hunter, Din Djarin has reunited with Grogu. Meanwhile, the New Republic struggles to lead the galaxy away from its dark history. The Mandalorian will cross paths with old allies and make new enemies as he and Grogu continue their journey together.

And according to Dark Horizons:

…A fourth season of the series is already in development, whilst this arrives ahead of both “Star Wars: Ahsoka” and “Star Wars: Skeleton Crew”, both due to arrive on the Disney+ service later this year. Filming on “Star Wars: The Acolyte” and a second season of “Star Wars: Andor” are both underway in the UK at present….

(3) SIMULTANEOUS TIMES. Simultaneous Times SF podcast episode 59 has been released. Listen to it here. Stories featured in this episode:

  • “Three to Go” by Ria Rees. Music by Phog Masheeen. Read by Jean-Paul Garnier 
  • “Ghosts” by Michael Butterworth. Music by Julie Carpenter. Read by the author.

Simultaneous Times is a monthly science fiction podcast produced by Space Cowboy Books in Joshua Tree, CA.

(4) FIFTIETH DAY OF HARPERCOLLINS STRIKE TOMORROW. Supporters of the strike against HarperCollins will rally January 18. Publishers Weekly has details: “HarperCollins Union Plans Rally at News Corp Offices in Manhattan”.

As unionized employees at HarperCollins Publishers prepare to mark their 50th day on strike next week, union representatives announced that a rally is planned outside the publisher’s parent company, News Corp, in Manhattan at 12:30 p.m. on January 18. Since November 10 of last year, labor negotiations between the union and company executives have been stalled, and union representatives are hoping to put pressure on the publisher to return to the bargaining table.

Local 2110 of the UAW represents more than 250 HarperCollins employees in editorial, sales, publicity, design, legal, and marketing departments. Union representatives said negotiations have stalled over higher pay, a greater commitment to diversifying staff, and stronger union protection. Negotiations started in December 2021 and unionized employees have been working without a contract since April 2022….

(5) WRITE WHAT YOU KNOW, THEY SAY. [Item by Bill Higgins.] Kenneth Hite, a Chicago author, game designer, and podcaster, was shot in the leg last week by armed robbers near his Hyde Park home.  Fortunately, he’s going to be fine.  Furthermore, he sold an account of the experience to the UK magazine The Spectator.  Because Ken Hite is a true professional. “Trigger warning: how it feels to get shot”.

… But at 3.10 a.m. on Friday, I was walking home from a late-night writing session at a colleague’s apartment a block from my house. (I work as a games designer.) A car pulled up, and two guys with guns jumped out and aggressively requested my 2014 MacBook Air.

I wish I could say I carefully considered whether my life was worth more than a nine-year-old computer and (more importantly) a manuscript I hadn’t backed up, but I acted without thinking and ran. After six or seven shots, I felt a hard thump on the back of my right calf. Then the two geniuses remembered that stuff about the third-largest armed force in Illinois, jumped back into their car and tore off. I counted my blessings and let myself into my house.

It was then that I noticed an awful lot of blood on the floor around my foot. The gunshots had, it turned out, awakened my wife Sheila, who wondered if I knew what had happened. Suddenly I did. ‘I’ve been shot in the leg,’ I told her. She called 911 and both sets of police – University of Chicago and Chicago Police Department – showed up almost immediately. In between questions, one of the cops put a tourniquet on my leg. I’ve heard since that if the tourniquet doesn’t hurt more than the bullet wound, it’s not on tight enough. This one was on tight enough….

(6) COVID STALKS AWARDS SHOWS. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Following the Golden Globe Awards, several celebrities (including some particularly big names) tested positive for COVID. Apparently in response, the Critics Choice Awards instituted a COVID test policy. “Several celebrities test positive for COVID after Golden Globes” at ABC News.

In the wake of the Golden Globes last week, several celebrities said they have tested positive for COVID-19.

At least four stars, including Jamie Lee Curtis and Michelle Pfeiffer, revealed they contracted the virus following the awards show.

In response, the Critics Choice Awards, which was held on Sunday, announced that all attendees would be required to submit a negative COVID-19 test before entering the venue, according to Deadline.

Public health experts said the news of actors and actresses falling ill is not surprising due to the relaxed regulations and people gathering indoors.

(7) MEMORY LANE.

1992 [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]  Mexican food liked you’ve dreamed of

Tonight’s essay concerns Laura Esquivel’s Like Water for Chocolate: A Novel in Monthly Installments with Recipes, Romances, and Home Remedies. It was published by Doubleday in Mexico in 1992 as Como agua para chocolate.  Yes, the English language title is a lot longer.

Perfection Learning published the first edition in 1995. The film actually came out here in 1993 before the book was published here because though shot in Mexico, it had simultaneous English and Spanish language versions. 

So let’s talk about the book. And a magical book it is. Even in the English translation! The original Spanish version, Como agua para chocolat, was the top-selling book in Mexico in 1990. As a work of Latin magical realism, it can’t be topped by any other work to date. I unfortunately don’t know Spanish so I read the English translation which is quite excellent.

Now it’s here because a recurring theme of both the book and the film that came out is is food, which is used to represent all aspects of the vibrant, if troubled, Mexican culture. Hardly a scene goes by without someone eating or preparing a meal, and some of the more tasty chapters/scenes involve truly awesome banquets. Both in the book and in the film, there’s a real feeling that food is more than just something one eats. Food here is a celebration of the helix of life and death, of consuming and being consumed.

It’s is possibly the most erotic film ever made. Truly it is. Even the baking of bread becomes an act of eros. 

Now here’s an exquisite example of the food scenes herein

She felt so lost and lonely. One last chile in walnut sauce left on the platter after a fancy dinner couldn’t feel any worse than she did. How many times had she eaten one of those treats, standing by herself in the kitchen, rather than let it be thrown away. When nobody eats the last chile on the plate, it’s usually because none of them wants to look like a glutton, so even though they’d really like to devour it, they don’t have the nerve to take it. It was as if they were rejecting that stuffed pepper, which contains every imaginable flavor; sweet as candied citron, juicy as pomegranate, with the bit of pepper and the subtlety of walnuts, that marvelous chile in the walnut sauce. Within it lies the secret of love, but it will never be penetrated, and all because it wouldn’t feel proper.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 17, 1899 Nevil Shute. Author of On the Beach. It originally appeared as a four-part series, The Last Days on Earth, in the London weekly Sunday Graphic in April 1957. It was twice a film. He has other SF novels including An Old Captivity which involves time travel and No Highway which gets a review by Pohl in Super Science Stories, April 1949. There’s In the Wet and Vinland the Good as well. (Died 1960.)
  • Born January 17, 1910 Carol Hughes. Genre fans will no doubt best recognize her as Dale Arden in Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe from sixty years ago. Other than The Red Dragon, a Charlie Chan film done in the Forties if I remember correctly, I’m not seeing anything that’s even genre adjacent for her though I’m assuming that the Fifties Ghost Buster short she was in should be a genre production. (Died 1995.)
  • Born January 17, 1927 Eartha Kitt. Though you’ll have lots of folks remembering her as Catwoman from the original Batman, she appeared in but four episodes there. Genre wise, she was in such series as I-SpyMission: ImpossibleMatrix, the animated Space Ghost Coast to Coast and the animated My Life as a Teenage Robot. Film wise, she played Freya in Erik the Viking, voiced Bagheera in The Jungle Book: Mowgli’s Story and was Madame Zeroni In Holes.(Died 2008.)
  • Born January 17, 1931 James Earl Jones, 92. His first SF appearance was in Dr. Strangelove as Lt. Lothar Zogg.  And I think I need not list all his appearances as Darth Vader here. Some genre appearances include Exorcist II: The HereticThe Flight of DragonsConan the Barbarian as Thulsa Doom and I actually remember him in that role, Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold, did you know the 1995 Judge Dredd had a Narrator? Well he’s listed as doing it, and Fantasia 2000 as well. In 2022, his voice was used via software for Darth Vader in the Obi-Wan KenobiDisney+ miniseries. Jones signed a deal with Lucasfilm authorizing archival recordings of his voice to be used in the future to artificially generate the voice of Darth Vader. Jones said later that all Vader voicing would using AI software. 
  • Born January 17, 1935 Paul O. Williams. A poet won the Astounding Award for Best New Writer in 1983 after publishing The Breaking of Northwall and The Ends of the Circle which are the first two novels of his Pelbar Cycle. I’ve not read these, so be interested in your opinions, of course. (Died 2009.)
  • Born January 17, 1962 Jim Carrey, 61. His first genre film is Once Bitten whose content is obvious from its name. The ‘dorable Earth Girls Are Easy was next followed up by Batman Forever in which he played a manic Riddler, then there’s the The Truman Show which stretches genre boundaries I think. May we not talk about How the Grinch Stole Christmas? And is Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind genre?,  who’s seen Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events?, Horton Hears a Who! (FUN!), A Christmas Carol  of which I know nothing, Mr. Popper’s Penguins (well it sounds cute) and, I’m not you, Sonic the Hedgehog. Busy, isn’t he?
  • Born January 17, 1970 Genndy Tartakovsky, 53. Like Romulan Ale, animation style is a matter of taste. So while I like his work on Samurai Jack and Star Wars: Clone Wars, I can understand why many SW fans don’t as it’s definitely an acquired taste.  He also is responsible for directing the animated Hotel Transylvania franchise. 

(9) THE SKY’S THE LIMIT. “Should We Block the Sun to Counter Climate Change?” – an opinion piece in the New York Times.

Last month, a two-person start-up company by the name of Make Sunsets claimed that it had launched weather balloons filled with reflective sulfur particles into the sky somewhere over the coast of Baja California. More provocation than experiment, the launch was a first-of-its-kind field test of a climate intervention known as geoengineering: a branch of speculative technology that promises to counteract and even reverse global warming by altering Earth’s atmosphere.

Long a taboo idea among climate experts thought too dangerous even to research, geoengineering is becoming increasingly mainstream. In 2019, Congress gave the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration $4 million to research techniques like the one Make Sunsets just tested, and it has since drawn interest from the Biden administration.

As the world continues to fall short of the goals of the Paris agreement and the costs of climate change mount, is geoengineering an idea worth taking seriously, or is it a world-historically reckless distraction from the global effort to transition away from fossil fuels? Here’s a look at the debate….

(10) A CELLER’S MARKET. [Item by Christian Brunschen.] A company literally calling themselves “SciFi Foods” are using CRISPR gene editing to develop “scalable beef cell lines” for cultivation — with the CEO claiming inspiration from Ian M. Banks’ The Player of Games. (They’re by far not the only cultivated-meat company out there of course.) “The first CRISPR gene-edited meat is coming. This is the CEO making sci-fi a reality” at Fast Company.

…Cost parity with traditional meat is every founder’s goal, one that sets a seemingly unattainable target. (In 2022, the average price of ground beef was $4.81/lb.) SciFi is betting that the only way to economically scale cultivated meat is with CRISPR, and that by making iterative tweaks they can create dependable cell lines with rich, meat-y flavor. “We have an eventual target of $1 per burger at commercial scale,” March says.

Once harvested, beef cells will be formulated into a blended burger that is mostly like the plant-based burgers you may already know—soy protein and coconut oil. SciFi’s secret sauce is adding a small percentage of SciFi cells (5% to 20%, according to March) to reward our taste buds with the beef-y notes we may think are missing from competitors like Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat. Blood-quickening, salivatory, tempting….

(11) TRIVIAL TRIVIA. The TV adaptation of a Ray Bradbury story, “The Electric Grandmother”, first aired on this day in 1982.

(12) EXTRA CREDIT. Mel Brooks’ History of the World Part 2, “A sequel 40 years in the making.” A four-night event, streaming March 6 on Hulu. John King Tarpinian declares, “I can hardly wait.”

(13) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Honest Trailers — Demolition Man” sends up another Sylvester Stallone science ficton movie.

…One of the few R-rated action sci-fi films that’s remembered more for its clever writing than its shootouts. But kids today will never understand the significance of this movie just like my ex-wife will never understand the significance of the John Spartan mannequin I bought from a Planet Hollywood estate sale….

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, Christian Brunschen, Bill Higgins, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Cat Eldridge.]

Pixel Scroll 1/3/23 Pixel Scroll: I Was Deleted You Won The War; Pixel Scroll: Promise To Read You For Ever More

(1) HONORING OCTAVIA. “Pasadena’s Getting A Bookstore Named For Sci-Fi Author Octavia Butler”LAist has the good news.

Pasadena is set to get another independent bookstore: Octavia’s Bookshelf. Owner Nikki High said she hopes to highlight authors who are Black, Indigenous, and other people of color.

High chose the name as a tribute to Pasadena native, science-fiction author and MacArthur fellow Octavia Butler who died in 2006….

 “She was the first Black sci-fi writer that I read, and it was the first time that I saw Black people in the future,” High said.

… Octavia’s Bookshelf is scheduled to open by mid-to-late February. The bookstore will be located north of the 210 Freeway at 1361 North Hill Avenue.

(2) HUNGARY’S BEST SF. [Item by Bence Pintér.] I was happy to find this English review about the best Hungarian SF novel of 2021: “A Sci-fi Built on Linguistics” at Hungarian Literature Online.

Katalin Baráth took risks on several levels with her new novel Aphasia. First, she didn’t continue the story of Veron Dávid, the saleswoman from Ókanizsa (The Black Piano, The Turquoise Violin, The Ember Harp, The Golden Cimbalom), with which she had built up her considerable fan base, though she had already broken up that series with the thriller Archangel in the Night. Second, she didn’t go with traditional hard science fiction, say nuclear physics, but with a soft sci-fi to which she can more easily relate, a sci-fi built on linguistics, like China Miéville’s Embassytown. And third, she centered the Hungarian language itself; Baráth didn’t use a made-up or artificial language, but elevated the Hungarian language to a cult status in her fictional universe….

(3) REMAINS OF THE DAY. Alec Nevala-Lee has a new piece in the New York Times Book Review on the author R.C. Sherriff, his Thirties SF novel The Hopkins Manuscript, and its influence on what Brian Aldiss called “the cozy catastrophe.” “In the ‘Cozy Catastrophe’ Novel, the End of the World Is Not So Bad”.

… “The Hopkins Manuscript” opens with a foreword by the Imperial Research Press of Addis Ababa, which states that the text that follows was discovered in a thermos flask “in the ruins of Notting Hill.” More than 800 years have passed since an unspecified cataclysm caused the end of Western civilization, and all records of Britain since the time of Julius Caesar have been lost, apart from a few stray fragments, such as a tablet commemorating the dedication of a public swimming pool in North London. Scholars of ancient history, the foreword notes, hoped that the manuscript would shed light on England’s final days, but they were disappointed to find nothing but the testament of “a man of such unquenchable self-esteem and limited vision that his narrative becomes almost valueless to the scientist and historian.”

As the story begins, the reader has little reason to question this statement. Edgar Hopkins is a retired schoolmaster in his early 50s who lives on an estate near the village of Beadle, where he breeds chickens for poultry shows. As an associate member of the British Lunar Society, he is among the first to hear the news that the moon is expected to collide with the earth in just under seven months. The science of the looming disaster is left deliberately vague — the moon’s departure from its habitual orbit is attributed to “some gigantic force” — and Hopkins is unable to believe that anything bad will really occur: “My vanity persuaded me that God would never permit the world to end until I personally had finished with it.”…

(4) TRAVELERS FROM CHINA AND COVID TESTING. “China vows ‘countermeasures’ to ‘unacceptable’ new COVID restrictions on Chinese travelers” reports CBS News. They have not said what those “countermeasures” will be.

The Chinese government has blasted COVID-19 testing requirements imposed on passengers from China and threatened countermeasures against countries involved, which include the U.S. and several European nations.

… The comments were China’s sharpest to date on the issue. Australia and Canada this week joined a growing list of countries requiring travelers from China to take a COVID-19 test prior to boarding their flight, as China battles a nationwide outbreak of the coronavirus after abruptly easing restrictions that were in place for much of the pandemic.

Other countries including the U.S., U.K., India, Japan and several European nations have announced tougher COVID-19 measures on travelers from China amid concerns over a lack of data on infections in China and fears of the possibility that new variants may emerge…. 

(5) MEDICAL UPDATE. The Daily Beast adds details as “Jeremy Renner Shares Photo From Hospital Bed After Snowplow Accident”. Renner’s Instagram photo is here.

In his first post to social media since he was run over by his snowplow on New Year’s Day, Marvel actor Jeremy Renner thanked fans and friends for their support in the wake of what authorities called “a tragic accident.” On Instagram, the 51-year-old posted a photo of himself in a hospital bed sporting visible facial injuries, including scrapes and a swollen eye. “Thank you all for your kind words,” he wrote in the accompanying caption. “Im too messed up now to type. But I send love to you all.” A representative for the Hawkeye star confirmed on Tuesday afternoon that Renner was “making positive progress and is awake, talking and in good spirits,” reiterating that he remained in the intensive care unit in critical but stable condition. “He is overwhelmed by the showing of love and support,” the spokesperson continued. “The family asks for your continued thoughts while he heals with his close loved ones.” The Washoe County Sheriff provided more details on the incident on Tuesday, saying that Renner had just rescued a stranded family member when his 14,330-pound snowcat began to roll as he tried to climb back inside the driver’s cab. Sheriff Darin Balaam emphasized that Renner was not “impaired” at the time of the incident.

(6) WELCOMED TO PUBLIC DOMAIN IN 2023. “Sherlock Holmes joins a first Oscar winner and the ‘ice cream’ song in the public domain”CNN gives a rundown on what’s been released from copyright this year. Several of the notable works entering the public domain in the US this year are genre or genre adjacent, most notably the movie Metropolis

A Sherlock Holmes collection, the first film to win the Oscars’ top prize and a classic ditty by Irving Berlin are among the thousands of books, films and musical compositions entering the US public domain in 2023.

When a piece of art enters the public domain, it means no one holds the copyright to it. Anyone can broadcast, consume or reimagine these works without having to pay royalties. Books, films and artworks in the public domain are also often more easily distributed and sometimes free to consume.

Among the most famous of this year’s crop are “The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes,” which decisively ends a decades-long saga of Arthur Conan Doyle’s estate attempting to curb use of the character by other authors, the wartime romance “Wings” and Berlin’s “Puttin’ On the Ritz.”…

(7) HEAR FROM AUTHOR NEVAIR. Space Cowboy Books will host an online reading and interview with Jonathan Nevair, author of Stellar Instinct, on Tuesday, January 24 at 6:00 p.m. Pacific. Register for free here. Get your copy of Stellar Instinct here

A secret agent. A gaming mastermind. Two players in a dangerous competition blurring the boundaries of entertainment and reality. Mysterious signals pulse from an icy planet in a remote star system. GAM-OPs wants answers. Enter Lilline Renault, secret agent extraordinaire. To ordinary citizens she’s Keely Larkin, an adventure company guide with a flair for the daring and a penchant for writing trite poetry. Lilline’s at the top of the spy game, but publishing her literary work is proving harder than saving the galaxy. When the mission uncovers a dastardly plan threatening billions of lives, Lilline leaps into action. Verses flow as she rockets through space, dons cunning disguises, and infiltrates enemy territory with an arsenal of secret gadgets. But to prevent the whims of a self-obsessed entrepreneur from turning the galaxy into a deadly playground means beating him at his own game. Lilline will need her best weapon to stand a fighting chance: her instinct. STELLAR INSTINCT: A spy-fi thriller set in space.

(8) WALTER CUNNINGHAM (1932-2023). The last surviving Apollo 7 astronaut, Walter Cunningham, died January 3.

…The Apollo 7 mission launched in 1968 and lasted roughly 11 days, sending the crew on a journey into orbit that amounted to a test flight that could demonstrate the Apollo capsule’s ability to rendezvous with another spacecraft in orbit and pave the way for future exploration deeper into space. It was also notable for featuring in the first live TV broadcast of Americans from space, according to NASA.

Cunningham was the last surviving member of the Apollo 7 crew, which also included astronauts Wally Schirra and Donn Eisele….

(9) MEMORY LANE.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

“Now we are all here!” said Gandalf, looking at the row of thirteen hoods—the best detachable party hoods—and his own hat hanging on the pegs. “Quite a merry gathering! I hope there is something left for the late-comers to eat and drink! What’s that? Tea! No thank you! A little red wine, I think for me.”
“And for me,” said Thorin.
“And raspberry jam and apple-tart,” said Bifur.
“And mince-pies and cheese,” said Bofur.
“And pork-pie and salad,” said Bombur.
“And more cakes—and ale—and coffee, if you don’t mind,” called the other dwarves through the door.
“Put on a few eggs, there’s a good fellow!” Gandalf called after him, as the hobbit stumped off to the pantries. “And just bring out the cold chicken and pickles!”
“Seems to know as much about the inside of my larders as I do myself!”

— J.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit

Our author tells us that Hobbits are fond of six meals a day, including two dinners, if they can get it, while in the Prologue to The Lord of the Rings, he notes, they “eat, and drink, often and heartily, and growing food and eating it occupied most of their time.”

These meals are Breakfast at 7 a.m., Second Breakfast  at 9 a.m., Elevenses at 11 a.m., Luncheon at 1 p.m., Afternoon Tea at 3 p.m., Dinner at 6 p.m., and finally Supper at 9 p.m.

Jackson’s The Fellowship of The Ring film for no reason what-so-ever mentions that second breakfast exists, saying that hobbits eat seven meals throughout each day. Why they did this is unknown. Another example of Jackson messing with Tolkien’s writings for no damn good reason. 

Fans of the books have recreated these meals included the elevenses. One site had this for its menu — Elven lembas bread, Bread pudding with cinnamon, Lavender and lemon muffins,  Strawberry shortcake with cream, caraway seed cake and lemon tea cake. And lots of tea with heavy cream of course. 

As Thorin said, “If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world. But, sad or merry, I must leave it now. Farewell.”  

Hildebrandt 1977 Tolkien calendar, “An Unexpected Party.”

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 3, 1892 J.R.R. Tolkien. So what was the first work by him you read? For me, it was The Hobbit which I fell in love with and still find terribly engaging in a way that I don’t, and no throwing rocks please, find The Lord of The Rings. I think it’s that it’s far me easier to lose myself in the work and enjoy what happens than struggle through the story of the latter. I’m also fond of The Road Goes Ever On, a song cycle taken from The Lord of The RingsThe Father Christmas Letters which a local Theater group enacted one year, and The Monsters and the Critics, and Other Essays. (Died 1973.)
  • Born January 3, 1937 Glen A. Larson. Triple hitter as a producer, writer and director. Involved in Battlestar GalacticaGalactica 1980The Six Million Dollar Man, Manimal (no, really don’t ask), Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, and Knight Rider. He also was responsible for Magnum, P.I. which I love but I’ll be damned if I can figure anyway to claim that’s even genre adjacent thought I think one of you will figure a way. He also did a lot of Battlestar Galactica novels, some with Ron Goulart. (Died 2014.)
  • Born January 3, 1940 Kinuko Y. Craft,  83. She is a Japanese-born American painter, illustrator and fantasy artist. True enough. So why is she here? Because she had an amazing run of illustrating the covers of the Patricia McKillip novels until quite recently. I’m linking here to our review at Green Man of The Bards of Bone Plain for a favorite cover of mine she did. There’s a slim volume on Imaginosis called Drawings & Paintings which collects some of her work which Green Man reviews here. She was a guest of honor of the 2016 Worldcon.
  • Born January 3, 1975 Danica McKellar, 48. From 2010–2013 and since 2018, she’s voiced Miss Martian in the Young Justice series. It’s just completed its fourth season and it’s most excellent! She’s done far, far more voice work than I can list here, so if you’ve got something you like that she’s done, do mention it.
  • Born January 3, 1976 Charles Yu, 47. Taiwanese American writer. Author of the most excellent How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe and the short-story collections, Sorry Please Thank You and Third Class Superhero. His novel was ranked the year’s second-best science fiction novel by the Center for the Study of Science Fiction at the University of Kansas — runner up for the Campbell Memorial Award.
  • Born January 3, 1984 Brooke Williams, 39. For recurring roles, she’s been Catania in The Shannara Chronicles and Hannah in 12 Monkeys. She had a recurring also as Jennsen Rahl on Legend of the Seeker which is off novels by Terry Goodkind. She also played Hermia in A Midsummer Night’s Dream at  the Globe Theatre In London. Remember we agreed this was fantasy. Indeed she’s been in Sleeping Beauty and Jack and the Beanstalk, both in New Zealand productions! 

(11) B&N REBOUNDS. “What Can We Learn from Barnes & Noble’s Surprising Turnaround?” – Ted Gioia says quality decisions at the top by CEO James Daunt were the starting point.

…This is James Daunt’s super power: He loves books.

“Staff are now in control of their own shops,” he explained. “Hopefully they’re enjoying their work more. They’re creating something very different in each store.”

This crazy strategy proved so successful at Waterstones, that returns fell almost to zero—97% of the books placed on the shelves were purchased by customers. That’s an amazing figure in the book business.

On the basis of this success, Daunt was put in charge of Barnes & Noble in August 2019. But could he really bring that dinosaur, on the brink of extinction, back to life?

The timing was awful. The COVID pandemic hurt all retailing, especially for discretionary items like books. Even worse, the Barnes & Noble stores were, in Daunt’s own words, “crucifyingly boring.”

But Daunt used the pandemic as an opportunity to “weed out the rubbish” in the stores. He asked employees in the outlets to take every book off the shelf, and re-evaluate whether it should stay. Every section of the store needed to be refreshed and made appealing.

As this example makes clear, Daunt started giving more power to the stores. But publishers complained bitterly. They now had to make more sales calls, and convince local bookbuyers—and that’s hard work. Even worse, when a new book doesn’t live up to expectations, the local workers see this immediately. Books are expected to appeal to readers—and just convincing a head buyer at headquarters was no longer enough.

Daunt also refused to dumb-down the store offerings. The key challenge, he claimed was to “create an environment that’s intellectually satisfying—and not in a snobbish way, but in the sense of feeding your mind.”

That’s an extraordinary thing to hear from a corporate CEO. Daunt wanted to run a bookstore that was “intellectually satisfying” and “feeds your mind.” The first time I heard an interview with him, I decided I trusted James Daunt. I wanted him to succeed. But the odds seemed stacked against him.

Then it started to happen—book sales at Barnes & Noble began rising again….

(12) ICE, NEIN. “A ‘Titanic’ Parody Show That Draws Fans Near, Far, Wherever They Are” – the New York Times tries to figure out why it’s a hit.

… And then: The woman they were waiting for arrived.

“It is me, Celine Dion,” said Marla Mindelle, one of the writers and stars of the “Titanic” musical parody show “Titanique,” casting aside a black garbage bag cloak to reveal a shimmering gold gown — a nod to the witch’s entrance from “Into the Woods” — and sashaying her way to the stage to a tidal wave of applause….

…Part of the appeal, said Ty Hanes, 29, a musical theater actor who has gone 13 times, is that no two performances are the same. He looks forward to seeing what Mindelle will do in the five-minute scene between Rose and Jack that she improvises every night (some of his favorites: a bit about a toenail falling off and a riff on Spam, the tinned pork product).

“You can tell they just have a blast changing stuff up a bit every night,” he said.

“Sometimes it really works, and sometimes it doesn’t,” Mindelle said.

“No, it does,” Rousouli said. “It always lands.”

Unlike a Broadway musical like “Wicked,” in which the script does not change after the show opens, Rousouli said, they tweak the show weekly — sometimes daily — to stay current on pop culture moments and TikTok trends. On a recent night, a joke featuring a Patti LuPone cardboard cutout drew loud laughs (“You can’t even be here, this is a union gig!”), and a line originally uttered by Jennifer Coolidge’s character in the Season 2 finale of the HBO satire “The White Lotus” (“These gays, they’re trying to murder me.”), now spoken by Russell Daniels performing in drag as Rose’s mother, received a mid-show standing ovation.

“People feel like they’re part of something special every night,” Rousouli said….

(13) OATH TAKING. Democratic congressman-elect from California Robert Garcia shared three symbolic items that will be part of his swearing-in ceremony.

(14) SAND IN THE GEARS. Sandman was renewed on November 2, however, it took awhile to happen: “Inside ‘The Sandman’s’ Lengthy Renewal Journey — and Why Netflix Still Won’t Call It Season 2” explains Variety.

It took Neil Gaiman 30 years to get a proper adaptation of “The Sandman” made, and what felt like 30 more years (to fans who adored the final product, at least) for Netflix to renew the fantasy epic following its August premiere.

In reality, it was just three months, but those were a long three months for viewers who watched “The Sandman” hold steady on Netflix’s Top 10 English-language titles list week after week (and receive a bump when its top-secret 11th episode dropped two weeks after the first batch launched).

“We wanted to spend the time to get creatively aligned around what would be the next, best experience with ‘The Sandman,’” Netflix’s head of UCAN scripted TV Peter Friedlander told Variety. “And because of that, we wanted to spend the time with [showrunner Allan Heinberg] and Neil and really talk through and be thoughtful about what the approach should be — because Season 1 is also very thoughtful and intentional. So that was really what took the extra time, is to get our ducks in a row.”…

 [Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Daniel Dern, Scott Edelman, Bence Pintér, Alec Nevala-Lee, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]

Pixel Scroll 12/16/22 I Think There Is A World Market For About Five Pixel Scrolls

(1) BAD NEWS FOR SFF MAGAZINES. [Item by rcade.] Neil Clarke posted on Mastodon that Amazon has informed Clarkesworld that it is ending Kindle Subscriptions in 2023 and trying to get magazines to move to Kindle Unlimited:

In an absolutely devastating announcement (right before the holidays) Amazon has informed us that they are ending their Kindle Subscription program in 2023 and trying to get magazines to switch to Kindle Unlimited. Asking for more details, but this is bad. Magazine subscriptions are guaranteed revenue from each subscriber. KU is not like that. It will effectively cancel thousands of subscriptions since there’s no migration path.

It’s hard to even say how much we’d get from a single subscriber. This completely removes our ability to control our price if we want to be in the dominant ebook ecosystem.
I’ve scheduled an appointment to talk with Amazon later this afternoon. Have many questions. Fellow editors of mags on Amazon: feel free to DM/email me. We should be talking.

(2) LOTS OF BUZZ. Cora Buhlert returns with a new “Masters-of-the-Universe-Piece Theatre: ‘Honeypot’”.

This story is called “Honeypot” and the star is not He-Man for once, but another member of the Masters of the Universe (which was originally just the name of the toyline, until the 2002 cartoon made it the name of the heroic warrior team, something most subsequent versions kept), namely Buzz-Off.

(3) AN INTERVIEW WITH MATT RUFF. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] An interview with Matt Ruff by Moid over at Media Death Cult. Despite discouragement Matt Ruff has always been a writer, it’s what he was born to do. His novel Lovecraft Country was adapted into a HBO TV show.

Matt Ruff, as he says at the start of the interview, is largely unknown in Great Britain, unlike his native US, but originally was most popular in Germany. I certainly never heard of him (though was aware of the show Lovecraft Country) so I did a word search on SF2 Concatenation’s news section on the basis that the majority of the specialist genre imprints – and a few ancillary ones – send their catalogues for their titles to be added to its news pages’ forthcoming books sections. I only found the novel Lovecraft Country listed in awards news as well as the book listings. It is published over here by Picador. Picador is a respected imprint in the UK but not especially noted for having an SF/F focus (despite having published some very worthy SF/F – they have a broader ‘literary’ camp). Picador’s PR folk don’t normally proactively reach out to us, though they are good at responding when we hear of relevant news and get in touch with them. Picador belongs to the Macmillan group and Matt Ruff might want to consider moving to Macmillan’s Tor (UK) if he wants more attention from Britain’s SF/F reading community…? (Just saying.) (Don’t know who publishes him in the US.)

(4) EXCELSIOR AWARD NOMINEES. Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden are shortlisted for Excelsior Awards for Hellboy: The Bones of Giants, and Neil Gaiman and Colleen Doran are shortlisted for Chivalry, both published by Dark Horse Comics. “Excelsior Award Red 2023”.

The Excelsior Awards are chosen by students in over 200 schools in the UK. The Excelsior Award is split up into four different shortlists: Access the entire range of Excelsior Award shortlists 2023 at the link.

  • Excelsior Award White, for students aged 9 and over (Key Stage 2)
  • Excelsior Award Blue, for students aged 11 and over (Key Stage 3)
  • Excelsior Award Red, for students aged 14 and over (Key Stage 4)
  • Excelsior Award Black, for students aged 16 and over (Sixth Form)

Each shortlist consists of five books (graphic novels and/or manga) that will cost no more than £65. 

(5) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites listeners to dive into dim sum with Randee Dawn in episode 187 of his Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Randee Dawn

Randee Dawn’s debut novel, the humorous pop culture fantasy Tune in Tomorrow, was released in August by Rebellion Publishing. She’s a former editor at The Hollywood Reporter and Soap Opera Digest, and these days covers show business for VarietyThe Los Angeles TimesEmmy Magazine, and Today.com. Her short fiction has appeared in numerous anthologies and online publications such as Stories We Tell After MidnightEven in the GraveAnother World: Stories of Portal Fantasy, and more.

She co-edited the anthology Across the Universe: Tales of Alternative Beatles. Her love of all things Law & Order led her to appear in one episode and later co-author The Law & Order: SVU Unofficial Companion. Once a month she hosts Rooftop Readings at Ample Hills Creamery in Brooklyn.

We discussed the way her soap opera and gaming backgrounds led to the creation of her fantasy debut novel Tune in Tomorrow, what made her decide it was time for her to write funny, why her first instinct is always to turn her ideas into novels rather than short stories, how Law & Order fan fiction conquered her fears of showing her writing to others (and eventually led to her appearing as extra on the franchise), the reason she doesn’t read her reviews, and much more.

(6) SIMULTANEOUS TIMES. Space Cowboy Books’ Simultaneous Times podcast episode 58 features these stories:

“The Hand, The Face” by Megan Engelhardt
music by Fall Precauxions

“Cave Art” by Xauri’EL Zwaan
music by Phog Masheeen

Find the podcast here.

(6) RECOMMENDED. “Avatar: On The Cutting Edge” – movie critic Leonard Maltin is very positive about the sequel.

I surrender. It’s easy to poke holes in James Cameron’s films because of awkward dialogue or glib characterizations or his propensity for staging climaxes to his climaxes. But I was completely taken in by Avatar: The Way of Water and overwhelmed by its fluid, kinetic action scenes, eye-popping production design and propulsive storytelling….

(7) MEMORY LANE.

1991 [By Cat Eldridge.] Eeyore, Piglet, Winnie the Pooh and the Hunny Pot, Newton Free Library, Newton, Massachusetts 

You didn’t think we’d pass this up, did you? It’s a most stellar group of statues of Eeyore, Piglet, Winnie the Pooh and the Hunny Pot at the Newton Free Library in Newton, Massachusetts.

They were sculpted by Nancy Schön who is best known for the  “Make Way for Ducklings” sculpture in the Boston Public Garden (which has had two stolen since it was first installed — bad people! Yes, she sculpted new ducklings to replace them.)

All are in honor of young children who have departed us. Piglet was commissioned by a woman who wanted us to celebrate the quite short life of her much-loved brother. She thought her brother was very much just like Piglet. He was timid, yet brave and he was quite able to conquer his fears, according to her, facing the reality of dying. 

Nancy notes of Pooh and the Hunny Pot that, “Sarah died on February 14, 2001. Her parents asked me to design a sculpture of Winnie-the-Pooh in her memory. I added a hunny pot for children to sit on, possibly to cheer Eeyore up. The sculpture was installed on May 12, 2002 with a plaque reading “For The Children of Newton From Sarah Oliver”.

Eyeore was the original statue that she did and was there alone for almost a decade as he was cast in bronze as they all were in 1991, and Pooh and the Hunny Pot in 2002. Piglet would join them eleven years later.

These are based the original illustrations in the A. A. Milne’s books which were illustrated by E. H. Shepard. They are closer in appearance to stuffed animals than the awful Disney version of these characters. For one, Pooh doesn’t have a shirt in the statue. (And of course those were Disney copyright.) 

Here they are with sculptor Nancy.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 16, 1917 Arthur C. Clarke. When I was resident in Sri Lanka courtesy of Uncle Sam in the early Eighties, nearly every American ex-pat I ran into was reading The Fountains of Paradise. The tea plantations he described therein are very awesome.  I never saw him but he was well known among the small British community there and I passed by his residence one day. I’ll admit that I’ve not read that much by him — Childhood’s EndRendezvous with Rama  and that novel are the only long form works by him I’ve read. I’ve read a lot of short fiction including of course Tales from The White Hart which I’ve read over and over. I’m certain I’ve read The Nine Billion Names of God collection as well. And I’ve seen 2001 myriad times but I’ve never seen the sequel. (Died 2008.)
  • Born December 16, 1927 Randall Garrett. Ahhh, Lord Darcy. When writing this up, I was gobsmacked to discover that he’d written only one such novel, Too Many Magicians, as I clearly remembered reading reading more than that number. Huh. That and two collections, Murder and Magic and Lord Darcy Investigates, is all there is of this brilliant series. Glen Cook’s Garrett P.I. is named in honor of Garrett.  I’ll admit I’ve not read anything else by him, so what else have y’all read? (Died 1987.)
  • Born December 16, 1928 Philip K. Dick. Dick has always been a difficult one for me to get a feel for. Mind you Blade Runner is my major touchstone for him but I’ve read the source material as well, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, and Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said which won a John W. Campbell Memorial Award, and I’ve read a lot of the shorter works, so I’d say that saying he’s a challenging writer is a Good Thing. I was surprised his only Hugo win for his fiction was for The Man in The High Castle at Discon though Blade Runner would pick up one at ConStellation.  (Died 1982.)
  • Born December 16, 1927 Peter Dickinson. Author who was married from 1991 to his death to Robin McKinley. He had a number of truly great works, both genre and not genre, including EvaThe Tears of the Salamander and The Flight of Dragons. His James Pibble upper class British mystery series are quite excellent as well. (Died 2015.)
  • Born December 16, 1957 — Mel Odom, 65. An author deep into mining franchise universes with work done into the BuffyverseOutlandersTime PoliceRogue Angel (which I’ve listen to a lot as GraphicAudio as produced them as most excellent audioworks) and weirder stuff such as the Left Behind Universe and Tom Clancy’s Net Force Explorers, both I think game tie-ins. 
  • Born December 16, 1961 — Jon Tenney, 61. He’s best known as Special Agent Fritz Howard on The Closer and continued in its spinoff Major Crimes, but he does have genre creds. He played Jimmy Wells in The Phantom, Martin Jordon in Green Lantern, and Lt. Ching in two episodes in Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. He also showed up on Tales from the Crypt, Outer Limits and neXt
  • Born December 16, 1967 — Miranda Otto, 55. She was Éowyn in the second and third installments of Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings film franchise. (I stopped watching after The Fellowship of The Rings.) She‘s Zelda Spellman in Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, and Mary Ann Davis in Spielberg’s version of The War of The Worlds. She also played Wueen Lenore inI, Frankenstein which had an amazing cast even if the tomatometer at Rotten Tomatoes gives it a five percent rating meaning the critics really didn’t like it.

(9) KGB. Ellen Datlow has posted her photos from the December 14, 2022 gathering of the Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series where Richard Kadrey and Cassandra Khaw each read sections of the forthcoming collaborative novel The Dead Take the A Train coming out from Nightfire.

(10) YIPPIE-AI-OH. David D. Levine has been making this sound pretty interesting – “Die Hard the Musical Parody” which will be a Funhouse Lounge streaming event on Christmas weekend.

In 2017, Funhouse Lounge presented its first original work of its kind, Die Hard the Musical Parody. It was a live stage version of the 1988 Willis/Rickman action classic, re-imagined as a musical. During its 3-year sold out run, it became a holiday tradition for many who came to see it.

We are happy to say it has returned this year, live on stage, for another sold-out run. However, we understand that given the current situation, many of you may not be comfortable gathering to see it. Or, you waited too long and didn’t get tickets. Or you don’t live nearby, but still like stuff that kicks ass. Or maybe you want to enjoy it with friends and family on that big screen TV at home. If any of these describe you, we have what you need.

We will have a recording of this year’s performance and it will be available to view streaming Christmas weekend. Showtimes are December 24th, 25th and 26th,

So, treat yourself to a present you deserve after another long hard year. Gather your family around the TV. Make your favorite hot drink, remembering that the drunker you are the funnier we are.

Levine also got a kind of onstage credit for donating to the production.

(11) TIME VS. GRAVITY. “Time rules everything around you. It’s also an illusion” explains NPR.

… The best-known force that stretches time is gravity. The more gravity somebody experiences, the slower time passes for them when compared to someone in a lower gravitational field.

The effect is miniscule compared to a human lifespan, but it is real and measurable. Boulder, Colo. is a mile above sea level. That means the gravitational field is slightly weaker, and time ticks by a little faster.

But modern technology can’t deal with flowy time like this. As a result, the timekeepers at Boulder and elsewhere make corrections to ensure these different flows of time look like they’re ticking in lock-step….

(12) ALSO SPRACH MATTEL. The Barbie teaser trailer is a hilarious take on 2001: A Space Odyssey. Margot Robbie is Barbie, Ryan Gosling is Ken in the new film.

(13) TANGLED UP IN BLUE. Perhaps the sequel to the Avatar skit we ran yesterday from The Late Late Show With James Corden: “Zoe Saldaña Is Crazy About Anything Blue”.

[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Dariensync, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Scott Edelman, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]

Space Cowboy Books Creates Working Class Writers Scholarship for Odyssey Workshop

Space Cowboy Books, the Joshua Tree, CA bookstore, has created the Space Cowboy Books Working Class Writers Scholarship for the Odyssey Writing Workshop.

Funded by the award-winning Space Cowboy Books, which has the mission to spread the love of science fiction, literature, literacy, and print media, the Space Cowboy Books Working Class Writers Scholarship is offered to provide financial support for a working-class or impoverished writer to attend Your Personal Odyssey. To be considered for this scholarship, you must complete the Odyssey Financial Need Statement by March 13 and indicate that you are interested in the Space Cowboy Books Working Class Writers Scholarship. A panel of three judges will evaluate the financial statements and select the winner. The scholarship covers $300 toward tuition.

Find out more about the Odyssey Writing Workshop here.

Pixel Scroll 12/5/22 I Am Not The Rest Of The Robots

(1) NOMINATIONS OPEN FOR 58TH NEBULA AWARDS. Full, Associate, and Senior members of SFWA are eligible to submit a nomination ballot for the Nebula Awards. Nominations may be cast online or by post. Ballots must be received by February 28, 2023 at 11:59 p.m. Pacific.

(2) CHECKING ON WOOSTER CASE. File 770 followed up with Virginia authorities about the WAVY report on the death of Martin Morse Wooster, “State Police ID suspect in York County hit-and-run”.  

Sergeant Michelle Anaya of the Virginia State Police replied, “In reference to your email…. An arrest has not been made, still under investigation.”

(3) ONE IS THE LONELIEST NUMBER. “Neil Gaiman, Margaret Atwood, and dozens of other famous authors shared stories of their worst book signing disasters to comfort an up-and-coming author” at Yahoo!

For debut author Chelsea Banning, an ill-attended book signing may have turned out to be a big break.

Banning, whose debut book is titled “Of Crowns and Legends” – a fantasy novel following two of King Arthur’s twins as war looms – vented on Twitter yesterday about her first-ever signing event. She shared that while 37 people had RSVP’d, only two showed up. “Kind of upset, honestly,” the Ohio-based librarian tweeted, “and a little embarrassed.”

It was a sentiment that resonated with writers of all sizes and genres, inspiring some of literature’s most prominent names – including Neil Gaiman, Jodi Picoult, Cheryl Strayed, and Margaret Atwood – to share their own humbling experiences of book signings gone awry.

“Terry Pratchett and I did a signing in Manhattan for ‘Good Omens’ that nobody came to at all,” wrote Gaiman. “So you are two up on us.”

“I have sat lonely at a signing table many times only to have someone approach…and ask me where the bathroom is,” added Picoult.

“Join the club,” said Atwood. “I did a signing to which nobody came, except a guy who wanted to buy some Scotch tape and thought I was the help.”…

(4) THEY’RE HISTORY. James Davis Nicoll extols “Five Cold War Classics in Which the U.S. Has Been Toppled” at Tor.com.

Some of you might find the concept of hostility between different modes of government (such as those of, say, the US and Russia) as outdated as Ottoman and Hapsburg rivalries. But back in the day, the Cold War was a source of inspiration to many SF authors. A number of authors speculated as to what would happen if the US government were subverted or overturned by conquest. Too bizarre to contemplate? Not so, as these five Cold War classics show.

First on his list is this most ingenious choice –

The Mouse That Roared by Leonard Wibberley (1955)

The Grand Duchy of Fenwick is an unlikely world power, being as it is a low-population, land-locked pocket kingdom whose meagre economy is dependent on the export of a single luxury product, Pinot Grand Fenwick. The Grand Duchy’s bold scheme depends on their weakness….

(5) RELEASE PARTY FOR APEX 2021. Space Cowboy Books will host an online interview with Apex Magazine editors Jason Sizemore and Lesley Conner on Tuesday, December 6, 2022, 6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. Pacific. Register for free here.

With stories by Alix E. Harrow, Sam J. Miller, Sheree Renée Thomas, Cassandra Khaw, and many more, Apex Magazine 2021 is a collection of darkly beautiful tales appearing originally in Apex Magazine January-December 2021. From a spaceship in the far-flung reaches of space to a cozy living room where a detective interviews a killer, this anthology explores the good and the ugly. It dissects what makes us human versus what makes us monsters.

Within these pages, you will meet a golem that doesn’t know how to save its family, a group of robots debating whether they are alive, and a woman striving for that social media-perfect life. From parasitic twins to a hospital dreamscape, to a town full of people wearing masks, this anthology will take you on journeys you never could have expected.

Come with us and discover the 48 surreal, strange, shocking, and beautiful stories in Apex Magazine 2021.

(6) YOUR AI CO-CREATOR. Andrew Mayne discusses the broader implications of “Collaborative Creative Writing with OpenAI’s ChatGPT”. Daniel Dern pundits, “This is what happens when ChatBots spend too much time playing Colossal Cave (aka ‘Adventure’).”

tl;dr: You can use OpenAI’s ChatGPT to bounce ideas around and write story outlines

Since I got into the field of AI and started working at OpenAI, it’s been interesting to see how things have accelerated. As an author, I’m frequently asked if AI will replace writers altogether. My personal take is that while AI may begin to do more creative writing and produce content on par with humans, it can never replace the fact that we often like what we like, not because of some objective measure, but because of the story of the person who wrote it. A lot of the things we like are because the person who created them is interesting. I like reading Stephen King books because they’re quite good and I find Stephen King fascinating. While an AI might be able to produce a song on the same level as Billie Eillish, it won’t have the same compelling personal journey as she does.

The future looks like it’s going to be a mixture of human and AI content. Some of it will be created by AI and where we care only about its objective value, some by humans where their personal narrative adds meaning and then content that’s collaboratively produced by creative humans and clever AI – which will mix together the best of both worlds….

(7) QUARK AND THE BARD. The Antaeus Theatre Company offers “Masterclass: Shakespeare’s Rhetoric with Armin Shimerman” on January 21 from 10:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Pacific. Are you not intrigued?

Join Armin Shimerman on January 21, 2023, as he delves into Shakespeare’s style and the different literary devices and strategies used in Shakespeare’s plays. Students will leave the two and a half hour Masterclass with a better understanding of England as Shakespeare knew it. This Masterclass is intended for actors, directors, students, theater-lovers, and anyone who has ever wanted to learn more about Shakespeare!

Armin Shimerman is a highly regarded actor and is best known to television audiences as Quark, on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Plus 80 different Guest Star roles, including Antaeus the Nox on Stargate, Principal Snyder on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Judge Hooper on Boston Legal. On Broadway: Threepenny Opera; St. Joan; I Remember Mama, and Broadway. Selected Regional Theater: King Lear (Fool), Road to Mecca (Marius),The Seafarer (Blind Irishman -San Diego Critics Circle Award for Best Actor: San Diego Repertory); Richard III, Love’s Labour’s Lost, Merry Wives of Windsor (San Diego Old Globe);Henry V (American Shakespeare Festival) and recently Polonius (Hamlet) and the Porter ( Macbeth) at the Utah Shakespeare festival. For Antaeus, he has taught, acted, and co-directed both the “Crucible” and last year’s production of “Measure for Measure. ”He is an adjunct professor at the University of Southern California (USC) where he teaches Shakespeare to Theater BFAs. In addition, he has two novels about the early days of William Shakespeare entitled “Illyria” published and currently on sale with a third due next year. He has given lectures on Shakespeare to thousands of people.

(8) STUFF AND BOOKS. Paul Wells wonders if he’s ready for “The Rideau Centre Indigo Store” which has superseded his familiar local bookstore.

…But how far does Ruis, who’s also said “the days of just browsing bookshelves are behind us,” plan to go? I realized my city would soon get a test case when this sign appeared, at the end of September, in a window of the old Chapters downtown Ottawa flagship store at Rideau and Sussex, now shuttered:

…This sign inspired the excited/doomed feel I’ve come to associate with life in the 21st century. Who wouldn’t want “a brand-new state of the art Indigo store” a stone’s throw from the office? I’m definitely in favour of “everything you love and more,” and I’m not, per se, against “lifestyle products and inspiring displays.” I’ve been spotted inside the odd Williams-Sonoma too, you know. The reference to “a curated assortment of books” did made me wonder. Did that mean, like, six books?

Last night I saw that the brand-new state of the art Indigo store at the Rideau Centre shopping mall, across from the old Chapters, is open. I popped in. Here’s what I found.

… Whew. I don’t know about you, but I’m a bit winded after seeing two displays of books in a bookstore. Fortunately, I came upon this oasis, the section where there’s paper without anything written on it….

(9) MEMORY LANE.

2002 [By Cat Eldridge.] Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden 

Today we are going Seussian. The Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden is a sculpture garden in Springfield, Massachusetts that honors Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known to the world as Dr. Seuss. Located at the Quadrangle, a group of cultural buildings in that city.

The Spring Seuss Organisation notes, “Opened in 2002, the Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden was first envisioned when Ted Geisel visited Springfield in 1986. After his death in 1991, his wife Audrey authorized the creation of the memorial and provided major support for the project. In 1996, Ted’s stepdaughter, noted sculptor Lark Grey Dimond-Cates, was selected to make over 30 bronze statues for the Museums’ grounds.”

I of course am going, with the indulgence of Mike, to show you all of them, as they are quite, well, Seussian. We have life-sized bronze statues of the Horton, Grinch and Max, Cat in the Hat, Yertle the Turtle, Thing 1 and Thing 2 and the Lorax—and the author himself. 

The first is Dr. Seuss and the Cat in the Hat, titled Dr. Seuss and the Cat in the Hat: The title character of The Cat in the Hat standing alongside Dr. Seuss at his desk.

The Storyteller: A chair placed in front of a 10-foot-tall book with the text of Oh, the Places You’ll Go!, the title character from Gertrude McFuzz, and beside it, the Grinch and his dog, Max.

This one is called Horton Court with Horton the Elephant from Horton Hears a Who! steps out of an open book accompanied by various ancillary characters from other Dr. Seuss stories, including Thing 1 and Thing 2 from The Cat in the Hat.

The Lorax: The title character from The Lorax stands on a tree stump with the book’s refrain: Unless… Unlike the rest of these, this statue is located in front of the Springfield Science Museum. 

And finally, Yertle the Turtle: a 10-foot-tall tower of turtles, from Yertle the Turtle, which introduces visitors to the Quadrangle from the arch on Chestnut Street. The troll from my previous post would be proud of these I think as I think they look like troll companions. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 5, 1890 — Fritz Lang. Metropolis of course, but also Woman in the Moon (German Frau im Mond) considered to be one of the first “serious” SF films. I saw Metropolis in one of those art cinemas in Seattle in the late Seventies. It’s most excellent I think. (Died 1976.)
  • Born December 5, 1901 — Walt Disney. With Ub Iwerks, he developed the character Mickey Mouse in 1928; he also provided the voice for his creation in the early years. During Disney’s lifetime his studio produced features such as Snow White and the Seven DwarfsPinocchioFantasiaDumbo, and BambiCinderella and Mary Poppins, the latter of which received five Academy Awards. In 1955 he opened Disneyland. In the Fifties he also launched television programs, such as Walt Disney’s Disneyland and The Mickey Mouse Club. In 1965, he began development of another theme park, Disney World, and the “Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow” (EPCOT).  I’ll pick Fantasia as my favorite film that he’s responsible for though I’m also very fond of Cinderella and Mary Poppins. (Died 1966.)
  • Born December 5, 1921 — Alvy Moore. He shows up first in a genre role uncredited as Zippy in The War of the Worlds. (He was also uncredited in The Girls of Pleasure Island that same year.) He’s again uncredited, as a scientist this time, in The Invisible Boy (aka S.O.S Spaceship) and The Gnome-Mobile saw his continue that streak as a Gas Mechanic. The Brotherhood of Satan saw him get a credit role as did The Witchmaker, both all budget horror films. He’s listed as having co-written and produced, along with LQ Jones, A Boy and His Dog, the Ellison originated film. (Died 1997.)
  • Born December 5, 1951 — Susan Palermo-PiscatelloSF Site in its obit said that she was “was active in fandom in the early 1970s, taking pictures that appeared in The Monster Times and working for the company that brought Japanese monster films, including Battle for the Planets and Time of the Apes to the US. She was among the first bartenders at CBGB and was in the band Cheap Perfume. She had recently returned to fandom after several years of gafiation.” (Died 2011.)
  • Born December 5, 1951 — Betsy Wollheim, 71. President, co-Publisher and co-Editor-in-Chief of DAW Books. Winner, along with her co-Publisher and co-Editor-in-Chief Sheila E. Gilbert, of a Hugo Award  at Chicon 7 for Long Form Editing. In the early Nineties, they won two Chesley Awards for best art direction.
  • Born December 5, 1961 — Nicholas Jainschigg, 61. Teacher, Artist and Illustrator. He began his career by doing covers and interior art for Asimov’s and Analog magazines, then progressed to covers for books and other magazines, eventually providing art for Wizards of the Coast gaming materials and for Marvel and DC Comics. As an Associate Professor for the Rhode Island School of Design, his private work these days is mainly in animations, interactive illustration, painting in oils, and paleontological reconstructions in murals and dioramas.
  • Born December 5, 1973 — Christine Stephen-Daly, 49. Her unpleasant fate as Lt. Teeg on Farscape literally at the hands of her commanding officer Crais was proof if you still need it that this series wasn’t afraid to push boundaries of such things of cringe-causing violence. She was also Miss Meyers in the two part “Sky” story on The Sarah Jane Adventures

(11) LANGUAGE TRUE OR FALSE. Would you say these verb choices are consistent American English idioms? When telling about a movie — “I saw The Fabelmans”. But about a TV show – “I watched Saturday Night Live”.  Saw a movie versus watched something on TV.

(12) COLD AS MICE. Are we getting close to the point where something like human hibernation could make space travel easier? WIRED presents “The Hibernator’s Guide to the Galaxy”.

One day in 1992, near the northern pole of a planet hurtling around the Milky Way at roughly 500,000 miles per hour, Kelly Drew was busy examining some salmon brains in a lab. Her concentration was broken when Brian Barnes, a zoophysiology professor from down the hall at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, popped by her bench for a visit. With a mischievous grin, he asked Drew—a neuropharmacologist early in her career—to hold out her hands and prepare for a surprise. A moment later, she felt a hard, furry lump deposited in her palms. It was some sort of brown rodent with dagger-like claws, curled up into a tight ball and so cold to the touch that Drew assumed it was dead. To her astonishment, Barnes gleefully explained that it was actually in perfect health.

An Arctic ground squirrel—the most extreme hibernator on the planet—can spend up to eight months a year in a torpid state.

The creature, an Arctic ground squirrel, was just hibernating, as it does for up to eight months of the year. During that span, the animal’s internal temperature falls to below 27 degrees Fahrenheit, literally as cold as ice. Its brain waves become so faint that they’re nearly impossible to detect, and its heart beats as little as once per minute. Yet the squirrel remains very much alive. And when spring comes, it can elevate its temperature back to 98.6 degrees in a couple of hours.

Drew cradled the unresponsive critter in her hands, unable to detect even the faintest signs of life. What’s going on inside this animal’s brain that allows it to survive like this? she wondered. And with that question, she began to burrow into a mystery that would carry her decades into the future….

(13) SFWA INDIE AUTHOR TOWN HALL. SFWA’s Independent Authors Committee held a town hall on November 10. Video of the event is now online.

Kelly McClymer and John Wilker, members of the SFWA Independent Authors Committee, were joined by Emily Mah, SFWA Editorial Director, to take the temperature of the attending indie author community on hurdles they deal with regarding online retailers. The feedback provided during this town hall will be used by the committee to help direct future advocacy work for SFF independent authors.

(14) PRESENT SHORTLY AFTER THE CREATION. From Library of America, “Story of the Week: Eve’s Diary” by Mark Twain, first published in 1905.

…For I do love moons, they are so pretty and so romantic. I wish we had five or six; I would never go to bed; I should never get tired lying on the moss-bank and looking up at them.

Stars are good, too. I wish I could get some to put in my hair. But I suppose I never can. You would be surprised to find how far off they are, for they do not look it. When they first showed, last night, I tried to knock some down with a pole, but it didn’t reach, which astonished me; then I tried clods till I was all tired out, but I never got one. It was because I am left-handed and cannot throw good. Even when I aimed at the one I wasn’t after I couldn’t hit the other one, though I did make some close shots, for I saw the black blot of the clod sail right into the midst of the golden clusters forty or fifty times, just barely missing them, and if I could have held out a little longer maybe I could have got one….

(15) HAILING FREQUENCY. “’Are we alone in the universe?’: work begins in Western Australia on world’s most powerful radio telescopes” reports the Guardian.

Construction of the world’s largest radio astronomy observatory, the Square Kilometre Array, has officially begun in Australia after three decades in development.

A huge intergovernmental effort, the SKA has been hailed as one of the biggest scientific projects of this century. It will enable scientists to look back to early in the history of the universe when the first stars and galaxies were formed. It will also be used to investigate dark energy and why the universe is expanding, and to potentially search for extraterrestrial life.

The SKA will initially involve two telescope arrays – one on Wajarri country in remote Western Australia, called SKA-Low, comprising 131,072 tree-like antennas.

SKA-Low is so named for its sensitivity to low-frequency radio signals. It will be eight times as sensitive than existing comparable telescopes and will map the sky 135 times faster.

A second array of 197 traditional dishes, SKA-Mid, will be built in South Africa’s Karoo region….

(16) VERTICAL TAKEOFF. Has somebody been watching too many Marvel movies? “Flying Aircraft Carrier: The U.S. Navy’s Next Game Changer?” at MSN.com. Perhaps not. As you’ll discover when you read the article, the author doesn’t really think they’re feasible at all. Still, it’s an entertaining thought experiment with lots of lovely photos of aircraft carriers if that kind of thing floats your boat.

…. Let’s simply assume a flying aircraft carrier could be built. Would such a platform actually serve any purpose? First, it would be extremely dangerous. Even if it weren’t nuclear-powered, it is doubtful most nations would want it to fly overhead. A vessel the size of even a light carrier crashing down on a population center would result in the deaths of tens and even hundreds of thousands of people. Moreover, it would require not only the aforementioned purpose-built construction facility but specialized bases able to accommodate it. It is doubtful even if it were nuclear powered that it could remain aloft indefinitely so there would need to be special landing strips and the ground infrastructure to support/reequip it….

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Fandom Games brutally begins “Honest Game Trailers: Marvel Snap” — “If you’re too dumb for Magic the Gathering too good for Hearthstone and not insane enough for Yu-Gi-Oh now there’s a collectible card game for you.”

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

Pixel Scroll 11/19/22 Scroll And Deliver, Your Pixels Or Your Life!

(1) GREG BEAR MEDICAL UPDATE. File 770 has been receiving copies of Astrid Bear’s FB friends-locked updates about Greg Bear’s decline during the past week, the kind of thing I ordinarily run only with permission of the author. However, today a great many writers publicly shared his latest status, and I will too.

To catch everyone up, here is Robert J. Sawyer’s concise explanation of what has happened:

“Greg Bear had heart surgery eleven days ago on November 8, to redo his aortic arch replacement and repair the proximal descending thoracic aorta work done in a previous heart surgery in 2014. The current operation seemed to go well.

“As of eight days ago, on November 11, he still hadn’t woken up from the anesthetic. A CT scan showed multiple strokes, caused by clots that had been hiding in a false lumen of the anterior artery to the brain ever since Greg’s original surgery eight years ago.”

Today it was announced Bear will soon be taken off life support. This screencap is being shared by many, including Charles Stross, and obviously with the greatest sympathy and regard.

(2) CORFLU FIFTY WINNERS FOR 2023. [Item by Rob Jackson] Rich Coad and I, as US (including Canada) and UK (including Europe) Administrators for the Corflu Fifty fan fund, are delighted to announce that we have picked, and got enthusiastic acceptances from, two Corflu Fifty winners for Corflu Craic, the 40th Corflu which is being held at the end of March in Belfast: Sue Mason (fan artist from London), and Pascal Thomas (fan editor from Toulouse).

(3) SUPERSTAR CHEN. Tordotcom editor Ruoxi Chen carried away the prize at Publisher Weekly’s Star Watch event. “PW Star Watch Finalist Ruoxi Chen Named ‘Superstar’ Winner”  — Publishers Weekly has details, including a list of all the other finalists.

More than 100 people came out on November 15 to celebrate some of the best and brightest names in publishing at PW’s annual Star Watch event, held this year at the Monarch Rooftop in New York City.

In an evening punctuated by food and fanfare, Tordotcom Publishing editor Rouxi Chen became the toast of the town when she took away the $2,500 Superstar prize and used her moment to call attention to the ongoing HarperCollins union strike.

In a short speech, the room erupted into applause as Chen dedicated her win to her family and her “colleagues at HarperCollins who are fighting for workers rights.”

“This industry is sometimes not the easiest one to be in, but it wouldn’t be possible without all of you,” she said. “To my incredible authors, an editor isn’t anything without the books. And I am so grateful that I get to work on editing your stuff.”…

(4) ANOTHER GIANT SHRINKS STAFF. “Amazon Announces Layoffs in Books, Devices” reports Publishers Lunch.

Amazon ceo Andy Jassy told employees on Thursday that the company would “eliminate a number of positions” in the Devices and Books divisions. In a memo to staff, he said that this year’s operating planning review “is more difficult due to the fact that the economy remains in a challenging spot and we’ve hired rapidly the last several years.”

They have not yet announced which roles have been cut or how many, or how the changes will affect the functioning of the Books division. (Unlike Books, Devices has been a drag on the company, reportedly losing over $5 billion a year.)

… Other divisions will be given the option of taking voluntary buyouts, and additional reductions are planned for early 2023.

(5) WOOSTER MOURNED. National Review columnist John Miller has written a tribute to his friend: “Martin Morse Wooster, R.I.P.”

Martin Morse Wooster started a peculiar tradition years ago: Whenever he spotted a “John Miller” in the news, he let me know. Early on, he sent clips by regular mail, cut from the pages of his prodigious reading. At some point, the emails outnumbered the stamped envelopes. Along the way, I learned about hordes of people with whom I share a name. They included loads of criminals and at least one person who attended a Star Trek convention as a Klingon.

I’m sorry to say that I’ll never again receive one of these notices: Martin died on November 12, killed in a hit-and-run accident in Virginia….

(6) MEMORY LANE.

1967 [By Cat Eldridge.] Casino Royale 

Ahhhh spoofs. A long tradition they’ve had in all forms of entertainment and it’s no surprise that the Bond films got a delightful one in the Casino Royale film. It premiered fifty-five years ago, the same year as You Only Live Twice, the fifth Sean Connery Bond film.

So why so? 

Well, it turns out that Casino Royale was the only Ian Fleming book not sold to producers Saltzman and Broccoli for the official James Bond series. Because of the popularity of Sean Connery’s Bond, and because of Connery’s considered expensive million dollars per film price, Charles Feldman decided to make the film a spoof. After production troubles and budget overruns that I’ll detail below, Feldman later told Connery it would have been considerably cheaper to pay him his salary.

It was very, very loosely based upon the 1953 novel of the same name.

TIME TO GO GET A COCKTAIL OR TWO AS FILM SECRETS FOLLOW.

The film stars David Niven as the “original” Bond, Sir James Bond 007, forced out of retirement to investigate the deaths and disappearances of a number of spies. In doing so, he soon is matching wits with Dr. Noah of the not very evil SMERSH. Remember this is a parody. 

Now we come to the really fun part of the film, the matter of multiple, might-be Bonds.

Remember the film’s tagline: Casino Royale is too much… for one James Bond!

Bond’s plan is to mislead SMERSH by having six other agents be him  — baccarat master Evelyn Tremble (Peter Sellers); Bond’s daughter with Mata Hari, Mata Bond (Joanna Pettet); Bond’s secretary Miss Moneypenny (Barbara Bouchet); British agents Coop (Terence Cooper) and The Detainer (Daliah Lavi); and even a millionaire spy Vesper Lynd (Ursula Andress).

Need I say that Bond’s plan, and the film, really did go awry. I’ll discuss that below.

NO MORE SECRETS ALAS WILL BE REVEALED.

The film was a horrid affair with nearly everyone hating being involved as the ensemble cast thought each other was getting more lines than they were, everyone thought each other was getting a better salary and everyone grumbled bitterly about their accommodations. 

Sellers it is said took the role of Bond to heart, and was quite annoyed at the decision to make Casino Royale a comedy, as he wanted to play Bond straight. 

It had five directors, three writers (credited, though it is said legions would work on it) and five producers. It was constantly being rewritten and reshot. The studio never like what they saw in the dailies and demanded constant changes. 

Despite all of that and the critics wanting to drive a stake through its heart, it made forty-seven million against a budget of twelve million, twice what the studio originally budgeted. Time has been kind to it — current critics like it a lot better. 

The success of the film in part was attributed to a marketing strategy that featured a naked tattooed woman on the film’s posters and print ads. You can see that poster below. I personally think calling her naked is really, ready a stretch, isn’t it? 

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 19, 1887 Boris Karloff. Where do I start? Well, consider the Thirties. He portrayed Frankenstein’s monster in FrankensteinBride of Frankenstein and Son of Frankenstein, and Imhotep in The Mummy. And he played a great pulp character in Dr. Fu Manchu in The Mask of Fu Manchu too! Now let’s jump forward to the Sixties and the matter of Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! which featured him as both the voice of The Grinch and the narrator of the story. I know I’ve skipped four decades — that means not a word about such as Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde where he was the latter. (Died 1969.)
  • Born November 19, 1914 Wilson Tucker. Author and very well-known member of fandom. I’m going to just direct you here to “A Century of Tucker”  by Mike as I couldn’t say anything about him that was this good. (Died 2006.)
  • Born November 19, 1916 Michael Gough. Best known for his roles in the Hammer Horror Films from the late Fifities and for his recurring role as Alfred Pennyworth in all four films of the Tim Burton / Joel Schumacher Batman series. His Hammer Horror Films saw him cast usually as the evil, and I mean EVIL! not to mention SLIMY, villain in such films as Horrors of the Black MuseumThe Phantom of the OperaThe Corpse and Horror Hospital, not to overlook Satan’s Slave. Speaking of Doctor Who, Gough appeared there, as the villain in “The Celestial Toymaker” (1966) and then again as Councilor Hedin in “Arc of Infinity” (1983). He also played Dr. Armstrong in “The Cybernauts” in The Avengers (1965) returning the very next season as the Russian spymaster Nutski in “The Correct Way to Kill”. Gough worked for Burton again in 1999’s Sleepy Hollow and later voice Elder Gutknecht in Corpse Bride. He would mostly retire that year from performing though he would voice later that Corpse Bride role and the Dodo in Burton’s Alice in Wonderland. (Died 2011.)
  • Born November 19, 1955 Steven Brust, 67. Of Hungarian descendant, something that figures into his fiction which he says is neither fantasy nor SF. He is perhaps best known for his novels about the assassin Vlad Taltos, one of a scorned group of humans living on a world called Dragaera. All are great reads. His recent novels also include The Incrementalists and its sequel The Skill of Our Hands, with co-author Skyler White. Both are superb. His finest novel? Brokedown Palace. Oh, just go read it. It’s amazing. And no, I don’t love everything he’s done. I wrote a scathing reviewing of Cowboy Feng’s Space Bar and Grille and he told us at Green Man that he might be the only person who liked the novel. Freedom & Necessity with Emma Bull is decidedly different but good none the less and his Firefly novel, My Own Kind of Freedom, is stays true to that series. He’s quite the musician too with two albums with Cats Laughing, a band that includes Emma Bull, Jane Yolen (lyrics) and others. The band in turn shows up in Marvel comics. A Rose For Iconoclastes is his solo album and “The title, for those who don’t know, is a play off the brilliant story by Roger Zelazny, “A Rose For Ecclesiastes,” which you should read if you haven’t yet.” Quoting him again, “’Songs From The Gypsy’ is the recording of a cycle of songs I wrote with ex-Boiled-in-Lead guitarist Adam Stemple, which cycle turned into a novel I wrote with Megan Lindholm, one of my favorite writers.” The album and book are quite amazing! And yes, he is on my chocolate gifting list. He’s another dark chocolate lover. 
  • Born November 19, 1967 Salli Richardson-Whitfield, 55. Best known genre role is as Dr. Allison Blake on Eureka which can be seen on Peacock as can Warehouse 13. I’m reasonably sure her first genre role was as Fenna / Nidell in the “Second Sight” of Deep Space Nine but she charmingly voiced Eliza Mazda, the main human character, on the Gargoyles series!  She shows up as the character named Dray’auc in “Bloodlines” on Stargate Sg-1 and had a role on a series called Secret Agent Man that may or may have existed. She was Maggie Baptiste in Stitchers, a series that lasted longer than I expected it would. 
  • Born November 19, 1970 Oded Fehr, 52. Actor from Israel whose most well-known genre roles are as the mysterious warrior Ardeth Bay in The Mummy and The Mummy Returns, and as Carlos Oliveira (or his clone) in three of the Resident Evil films: ApocalypseExtinction, and Retribution. (His Mummy roles no doubt led to his casting in voice roles in Scooby-Doo in Where’s My Mummy? and as The Living Mummy in the animated Ultimate Spider-Man and Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H.) On Charmed, he played the demon Zankou, the main villain of the show’s seventh season. He’s had an impressively long list of appearances on TV series, including recurring roles on Once Upon A Time, StitchersV, and The First, a series about the first mission to Mars. He has also voiced characters on numerous other animated features and series. He appeared in the third season of Star Trek: Discovery as Fleet Admiral Charles Vance.

(8) COMICS SECTION.

  • Tom Gauld did a cartoon about the great Twitter exodus for the Guardian.

(9) GUNN Q&A. Deadline profiles “James Gunn On Leaving Marvel, DC Plans, & ‘Guardians Of The Galaxy Holiday Special’”.

James Gunn revealed on Twitter today in response to a fan’s question that he and new DC Studios co-head Peter Safran are planning to reveal their new DC plan to the Warner Discovery team in the next two months.

“Yes, that is true (revealing it to the WBD team)” wrote Gunn on Twitter.

Safran and Gunn were appointed the heads of DC Studios, a separate silo that Warner Discovery Boss David Zaslav wanted under the studio’s motion picture umbrella, on Oct. 25. Gunn going forward remains exclusive to WarnerDiscovery and can’t do any Marvel projects, his last ones for the Disney studio being The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special which drops on Black Friday, Nov. 25, and Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 3 which hits theaters on May 5, 2023.

When asked by Deadline recently how he felt about leaving the Marvel Guardians of the Galaxy sandbox behind for DC, Gunn responded “I feel really comfortable. I feel really good. We did this. I think this is a bit of goofy fun that the Guardians needed as an aperitif for Volume 3, which is an enormous film. I had a plan from the beginning.”

“The reason why I needed to finish this is because I love the character of Rocket more than any character I’ve ever dealt with before, and I needed to finish his story and that is what Volume 3 is about. I absolutely needed to do it, and I think we’ve done it in a spectacular way that I can’t wait for people to see.”

(10) PEEKING DISCOURAGED. The owner of the subject Area 51 website/blog currently has their tail in a wringer: “Air Force, FBI raid Nevada homes in probe of Area 51 website” reports Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Agents from the U.S. Air Force and FBI recently raided homes in Clark and Lincoln counties in an investigation of a man who operates a website about the top-secret military base known as Area 51, a spokesman confirmed Wednesday.

The Air Force Office of Special Investigations and FBI entered homes owned by Joerg Arnu in Las Vegas and the tiny town of Rachel on Nov. 3 and seized potential evidence for an undisclosed joint agency probe, according to Lt. Col. Bryon McGarry, spokesman for Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas.

“This is an open and ongoing law enforcement investigation between the Las Vegas FBI and Air Force OSI,” McGarry said in a statement.

He declined to elaborate on the basis for the investigation, but Arnu, of Las Vegas, is the webmaster of a site titled Dreamland Resort, focusing on Area 51, an Air Force base in Lincoln County about 120 miles northwest of Las Vegas where testing is conducted on new and classified U.S. military aircraft.

Dreamland Resort, at dreamlandresort.com, started by Arnu in 1999, features YouTube videos taken from drones flown over places around Area 51, satellite images of the base, a discussion forum with posts on the topic, articles on test flights, “black projects” and UFOs, and what it says are photos of new vehicles such as the so-called “super secret” Northrop Grumman RQ-180 unmanned stealth aircraft shown flying in 2021.

Arnu, reached by email Wednesday, declined comment until he can speak to his attorney. But he forwarded a news release posted on his web page last week telling his side of the story….

As an example of what you find at Dreamland Resort, this 2006 post is old but might be news to you, about an innovative aircraft named for a spaceship from Star Trek: “Bird of Prey – An Innovative Technology Demonstration”.

(11) BE ON THE LOOKOUT. The Onion informs us “Facebook HQ On Lockdown After Mark Zuckerberg’s Avatar Breaks Out Of Metaverse”.

Amid grim reports that several engineers working in the virtual reality server room had been violently dismembered, Facebook’s headquarters were on lockdown Friday after Mark Zuckerberg’s avatar reportedly broke out of the metaverse….

(12) SIMULTANEOUS TIMES. “Space Cowboy Books Presents: Simultaneous Times podcast Ep.57 – Jeff C. Carter & Noah Lloyd”.

Stories featured in this episode:
Hive Songs – by Jeff C. Carter (with music by Phog Masheeen)
In September – Noah Lloyd (with music by Johnny O’Donnell)

(13) TRIVIAL TRIVIA. [Compiled by John King Tarpinian.] L. Frank Baum and his wife purchased a lot one block in Hollywood north of Hollywood Boulevard on the corner of Cherokee and Yucca, which today is the block behind the restaurant Musso & Frank’s. There in 1910 they built Ozcot, a two-story frame home featuring a large library, an attic where Baum stored his manuscripts and props from various plays, and a solarium. The dining room is described as having “light fixtures of cut copper sheets and thick pieces of emerald glass” casting “intricate patterns of green light” in the evenings – his own personal emerald city.

Ozcot

Ozcot’s grounds were as impressive as the house. A large Aviary housed a collection of exotic birds, and a chicken yard was home to a flock of Rhode Island Reds. Baum spent hours in his garden, where the southern California climate allowed him to grow numerous blooms, especially dahlias and chrysanthemums. A goldfish pond was also located in the garden. 

Baum felt right at home in Hollywood – he won many awards for his flowers at the Hollywood Woman’s Club shows and was a member of the Los Angeles Athletic Club’s exclusive Uplifters. He also spent the last nine years of his life writing children’s books under six different pen names and he founded the ambitious but ultimately unsuccessful Oz Film Manufacturing Company.

L. Frank Baum passed away at Ozcot in 1919. His widow Maud lived long enough to witness the success of The Wizard of Oz, which premiered at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, just down the street from Ozcot.

Ozcot was demolished in 1953 and today a plain two-story apartment stands, and is slated to be demolished for a larger complex. There is nothing about the site that would suggest its association with one of America’s most beloved writers.

The story continues that after he passed away his widow started to burn his papers, since his books were already on the book shelf.  A nephew came over one day and stopped her.   Back in those days it was not uncommon for a house to have an incinerator in the backyard to burn your garbage.  My parents’ home had one.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Danny Sichel, Jeffrey Jones, Rob Jackson, JJ, John King Tarpinian, and Chris Barkley for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Patrick Morris Miller.]

Pixel Scroll 11/8/22 We Only Scroll Respectable Pixels

(1) MAJOR STATHOPOULOS SHOW. “The Semblance of Things: Portraits by Nick Stathopoulos” will be a comprehensive 30-year survey show coming next February to the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre in Australia. Nick announced it on Facebook.  There’s already an article about the upcoming exhibition in the Centre’s magazine, downloadable at the link.

(2) FIGURING. Cora Buhlert posted a new “Masters of the Universe-piece Theatre” photo story. This one is called “New Look”.

… I have had some new arrivals recently, including the Teela and Zoar two-pack. I mainly bought the two-pack, because I wanted Zoar the Falcon, but I also got a Teela figure with a nice new headsculpt, which is loosely based on the way she looked in the 2002 cartoon, where Teela had a long ponytail instead of her customary upswept hairstyle. And since Teela is my favourite Masters of the Universe character, I’m always happy to have another version of her. Plus, this Teela has a sword, which is the weapon she actually uses most of the time in the various cartoons. The toys mostly only have the snake staff, even though the snake staff only prominently features in the 2002 cartoon – in every other version she uses a sword.

The fact that Teela got a makeover for the two-pack also inspired the following story. Furthermore, I also get to explore the friendship between Teela and Adora that the cartoons never really gave us (so far) some more….

(3) AMAZING. The Kickstarter for the “Amazing Stories Annual Special: SOL SYSTEM by Steve Davidson” now includes a rather clever animated Zoom meeting between famous science fiction figures from H.G. Wells to Octavia Butler. Here’s a teaser – the complete video runs almost five minutes.

(4) HEARING MORE FROM CORA. Issue one of The Lotus Tree Literary Review is out and contains an interview with Cora Buhlert conducted by Jean-Paul L. Garnier: “The Lotus Tree Literary Review, Autumn 2022, Issue #1”.

Garnier: What challenges have you faced as a German author working in English speaking markets?

Buhlert: It’s harder for someone from beyond the Anglosphere (i.e. the US, UK, Canada, Australia, Ireland and New Zealand) to get noticed. First of all, if you come from a non-English-speaking country (and for some countries in Africa and Asia, where English is an official language, even if you come from an English-speaking country), some people will simply assume that you cannot possibly speak English well enough to write in what is not your first language. I have actually had someone leave a long rambling comment on my blog to tell me that I’m obviously too stupid to understand English.

Physical distance is also an issue, because a lot of the big cons happen in the US or UK and attending takes time, money and also the privilege of being able to get a visa at all, something which is a huge issue for SFF writers from Africa, but also from the Middle East and some countries in Asia and Latin America. It’s probably no accident that I was only nominated for the Hugo after I had attended two Worldcons and one Eurocon in person, took part in programming and met a lot of people…

(5) HAILEY PIPER READS. Space Cowboy Books will host an online reading and interview with Hailey Piper author of No Gods for Drowning on Tuesday November 15 at 6:00 p.m. Pacific. Register for free here.

IN THE BEGINNING, MAN WAS PREY WITHOUT THE GODS, THEY’LL BE PREY AGAIN The old gods have fled, and the monsters they had kept at bay for centuries now threaten to drown the city of Valentine, hunting mankind as in ancient times. In the midst of the chaos, a serial killer has begun ritually sacrificing victims, their bodies strewn throughout the city.

Set in an alternate reality which updates mythology to near-modern day, No Gods For Drowning is part dark fantasy, part noir detective story, and unlike anything you’ve read before, from an author whose imagination knows no boundaries.

(6) A ROBOT WITH A ROSE BY ANY OTHER NAME. Lavie Tidhar discusses his favorite robot stories: “The Best Robots In Science Fiction” at CrimeReads.

My new novel, Neom, started off with the simple image of a robot and a rose. The robot goes to the market in the city of Neom and buys a flower. It then takes the rose into the desert and leaves it in the sand…

Why?

I wrote the rest of the book just to find out….

Second Variety by Philip K. Dick (1953)

As we go through Neom we find out that my robot (who is never named) had a group of companions during the long-ago war. One of them is, of course, a Tasso, from PKD’s classic story about a war in which humanoid robots infiltrate the human population only to blow themselves up. They come in several models, including the David (a young boy) and a Wounded Soldier, but there are rumours of a new, improved model…

(7) LESLIE PHILLIPS (1924-2022). SYFY Wire reports: Leslie Phillips, “Voice of the Sorting Hat in ‘Harry Potter’ dies at 98”.

Leslie Phillips, the British screen legend who voiced the Sorting Hat in the first two Harry Potter films, has passed away at the age of 98 following a lengthy illness. The anthropomorphic head piece that sorts incoming Hogwarts students into the school’s four famous houses appeared prominently in Sorcerer’s Stone (2001) and Chamber of Secrets (2022) — both of which were helmed by director Chris Columbus.

… The actor’s career dated all the way back to the late 1930s and included over 200 roles in dozens upon dozens of projects spanning film, television, and the stage (Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and Doctor Who: Medicinal Purposes are just two small examples). Wizarding World fans, however, will forever associate the man with the sagely voice of the tattered magical hat that took Harry’s own desires into consideration and placed the boy wizard into Gryffindor — where dwell the brave at heart….

(8) MEMORY LANE.

2018 [By Cat Eldridge.] Sometimes it’s the offbeat stories that I really like from authors, the short works that aren’t expanded into full length stories. Such is the case with Elizabeth Bear’s Sub-Inspector Ferron series. Of course, everything she writes is a delight to read. 

Bear’s Sub-Inspector Ferron series at the present consists alas of but two novellas, “In the House of Aryaman, a Lonely Signal Burns” and “A Blessing of Unicorns”. Will there be more? Oh, I hope so. 

TASTY, SPICY ASIAN SPOILERS FOLLOW. THEY REALLY DO!

These two novellas start with “In the House of Aryaman, a Lonely Signal Burns” which is set a half a century from now. In the city of Bangalore, where  scientist working on cutting-edge biotechnology has been discovered inside his own locked flat, his body converted into a neat block of organic material. 

It’s up to Police Sub-Inspector Ferron to figure out the victim’s past and solve the crime, outwitting the best efforts of whoever is behind the death, her overbearing mother, and the complexities of dealing with the only witness – an ever so cute parrot-cat Chairman Miaow. (The latter, she says are, as I guessed, a cat with parrot colors and “a parrot-like level of intelligence and ability to mimic speech”. That cat will later adopted by her. She already has a fox. 

I’ll note that the stories aren’t freestanding, so the novella, “A Blessing of Unicorns” builds off the first novella, therefore must be experienced after the first is read or listened to.

Together they make up a fascinating look at the life and work of Ferron as a Police Sub-Inspector in a balkanised world where there are no national or regional police forces. No, it’s not some small libertarian wet dream here, but a real world with actual consequences to everything that happens. 

WE HAVE CONSUMED THOSE TASTY MORSELS, SO YIU CAN COME BACK.

There is certainly more than enough story here for her to someday write a novel set in the universe. And I look forward to it. 

When I asked her if there would be a novel in the series, she replied “there might be a novel someday but I really need to visit Bangalore myself to write that! I’ve been relying on friends who hail from there, or who have family there and have visited extensively, but it’s not the same as boots in the dirt experience!”

Fantastic stories told well by a master storyteller, what more do you want? 

The Audible narrations are done most excellently by narrated Zehra Jane Naqvi. She’s an Australian expatriate in the United Kingdom of Anglo-Indian descent. She obvious handles the Indian accents quite wonderfully here.  Another genre connection — She started her voice acting career in a several  Big Finish Productions’ Doctor Who audio dramas with Sylvester McCoy and Peter Davison reprising the Seventh and Fifth and Doctors.

The first one is available at the usual suspects, but the second remains at this time an Audible exclusive though Bear assures me that it will be available soon as as an ebook soon.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 8, 1847 Abraham “Bram” Stoker. You know that he’s author of Dracula but did you know that he wrote other fiction such as The Lady of the Shroud and The Lair of the White Worm? Of course you do, being you. The short story collection Dracula’s Guest and Other Weird Stories was published in 1914 by Stoker’s widow, Florence. (Died 1912.)
  • Born November 8, 1906 Matt Fox. I’m here to praise an illustrator of one of those magazines that published the stories of such writers as Robert Bloch, Manly Wade Wellman and Ray Bradbury. The covers by Fox were of course intended to lure you to magazine rack, pick up the magazine and purchase it. Such was what he did for Weird Tales from November 1943 to July 1951. After that, during the Fifties and Sixties he worked for Atlas Comics, inking and penciling Journey into MysteryWorld of FantasyTales of Suspense and Journey into Unknown Worlds. It is thought that his last known published work is an advertisement, printed in 1967, for original mail-order glow-in-the-dark posters. (Died 1988.)
  • Born November 8, 1914 Norman Lloyd. Yes, those dates are right. His longest genre role was as Dr. Isaac Mentnor on the most excellent Seven Days series. He’s been on Next GenGet Smart! in the form of the Nude Bomb film and visited The Twilight Zone, and in a fair number of horror films from The Dark Secret of Harvest Home to The Scarecrow. (Died 2021.)
  • Born November 8, 1932 Ben Bova. He wrote more than one hundred twenty books. He won six Hugo Awards as editor of Analog, and also once was editorial director at Omni. Hell, he even had the thankless job of SFWA President. (Just kidding. I think.) I couldn’t hope to summarize his literary history so I’ll single out his Grand Tour series that though uneven is overall splendid hard sf as well as his Best of Bova short story collections put out in three volumes. What’s your favorite book by him? (Died 2020.)
  • Born November 8, 1955 Jeffrey Ford, 67. Winner of a very impressive seven World Fantasy Awards as well every other award given to writers of fantastic literature except Hugos. Really there’s too many to list here. He’s got two Hugo nominations, one at Torcon 3 for his “Creation” short story, another at Noreascon 4 for ”The Empire of Ice Cream” novelette “.  And yes, his Well-built City trilogy is amazing.
  • Born November 8, 1956 Richard Curtis, 67. One of Britain’s most successful comedy screenwriters, he’s making the Birthday List for writing “Vincent and the Doctor”, a most excellent Eleventh Doctor story. He was also the writer of Roald Dahl’s Esio Trot which isn’t really genre but it’s Roald Dahl who’s certainly is one of us some of the time, isn’t he? (Please don’t deconstruct that sentence.) And he directed Blackadder which is most decidedly genre.
  • Born November 8, 1968 Parker Posey, 54. Doctor Smith on the rebooted Lost in Space series. I’ve not seen it, so how is it?  She was in a film based on based Dean Koontz’s version of Frankenstein. And she shows in Blade: Trinity as well which I’ll admit I liked.
  • Born November 8, 1952 Alfre Woodard, 70. I remember her best from Star Trek: First Contact where she was Lily Sloane, Cochrane’s assistant. She was also Grace Cooley in Scrooged, and polishing her SJW creds, she once voiced Maisie the Cat in The Brave Little Toaster Goes to School. And yes, I know she’s portrayed a character in Marvel Universe. I just like the obscure roles. 

(10) ROWE Q&A. Marc Tassin interviews Christopher Rowe for the GenCon podcast: “Today’s Guest: Christopher Rowe” at Out of Character with Marc Tassin.

(11) VALLESE ESSAY COLLECTION. Grace Byron’s book review considers “Nightmares Worth Indulging: On Feminist Press’s ‘It Came from the Closet’” at LA Review of Books.

… In his introduction, editor Joe Vallese asks, “[H]ow are we to think about the complicated relationship between the queer community and the horror genre?” Vallese notes that all the contributors “convey a rich reciprocity, complicating and questioning as much as they clarify.” In other words, some of the essays will see horror films as nightmares worth indulging, while still interrogating what the genre gives and takes from queer people.

Ever since (and surely before) Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick offered queer readings of homosociality in Dickens, a certain kind of essay was born. These kinds of queer essays excavate the subtext of dominant culture. The mainstream 2009 film Jennifer’s Body, after all, inspired lesbian titillation and launched a thousand lavender wet dreams. Earlier this year, the father of body horror, David Cronenberg, declared that “surgery is sex” in Crimes of the Future, a few years late to the trans tipping point…

(12) FORGET ABOUT IT. “J.D. Dillard’s Star Wars Project Canceled, Exits Rocketeer Sequel” reports CBR.com.

Filmmaker J.D. Dillard experienced a Disney double whammy, having lost not one, but two prominent projects, Star Wars and The Rocketeer, to which he was attached.

In an interview with The Wrap, the director, who was promoting his latest film, the Jonathan Majors-starring Korean War aviator drama Devotion, dropped news about his formerly promising backlog. Indeed, the Mouse House not only lined him up to direct the long-belated sequel to the 1991 adventure classic, titled The Return of the Rocketeer, but tapped him to direct a mysterious Star Wars feature. However, when asked for an update on those projects, Dillard delivered bad news, stating that his Star Wars movie is “unfortunately no longer a thing. It was not for lack of trying.” He further lamented his nixed endeavor for the iconic space franchise, describing it as “an original idea.” Compounding that, Dillard also revealed his exit from the Rocketeer sequel….

(13) PRODUCT WARNING. Ryan Reynolds tells the people that his new movie Spirited is a Christmas movie with Will Ferrell in it and is NOT ELF. “Legally Required Spirited Disclaimers”.

(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Game Trailers: World of Warcraft:  Wrath of the Lich King” Fandom Games says in order to play this game you either have to dress like a “Norse hobo” or “an off-brand Dora” the Explorer. The characters either spend time in cold regions where they run past “icy castles, icy beaches, and icy plains” or go underground in “the most positive depiction of sewers since Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.”

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

Pixel Scroll 10/20/22 Pixel Was A Scrollin’ Stone

(1) GO ANTI-WOKE, GO BROKE. “Anti-Woke Superhero Movie ‘Rebel’s Run’ Blown Up in $1 Million Con” reports The Daily Beast.

An attempt to make a right-wing superhero movie has ended in disaster, with $1 million missing in China and a participant facing a federal indictment.

“I wouldn’t count on us getting the money back,” Theodore Beale, a far-right blogger known as “Vox Day,” admitted to his fans and investors in a video last week….

Vox Day had raised over a million dollars from his followers to finance a planned movie, Rebel’s Run, about the character Rebel, who often wears a Confederate flag bustier, “fighting a global police force hunting down freethinking conservatives.” That money was transferred to Utah-based Ohana Capital Financial to secure additional millions in funding. However, Ohana “was the creation of James Wolfgramm, a self-described cryptocurrency billionaire” and allegedly the money was used for other purposes. 

Unbeknownst to Beale and his supporters, the indictment alleges, Wolfgramm was deeply in debt to one of his business’s other clients. That client had paid Ohana more than $4 million in September 2020, several months into the Covid-19 pandemic, as part of what was meant to be a payment to a Chinese manufacturer of personal protective equipment. Instead of carrying out the transaction, prosecutors allege, Wolfgramm spent the millions on his own unrelated business issues.

Now seven-figures into the hole and with no PPE to show for it, Wolfgramm allegedly used the Rebel’s Run money to buy the Chinese medical equipment. Soon after that, according to a video Beale released to his fans, the blogger and his collaborators became suspicious and contacted the FBI, sparking the investigation into Wolfgramm.

Wolfgramm’s attorney didn’t respond to a request for comment. Beale declined to comment, citing the ongoing investigation.

Wolfgramm now faces four counts of wire fraud over the Rebel’s Run money and other aspects of his business. While the film’s investors might someday recoup a portion of their money through the legal system, Beale has given up on funding his superhero movie….

Camestros Felapton has been following the development of the story. Here’s the link to his latest post: “The fall of a film empire continues”.

And if you want to read Vox Day’s denial of his involvement in the disastrous money tranfser as reported by The Daily Beast [Internet Archive link]: 

…It’s a pity this didn’t run in the Swiss media, or Will Sommer would quickly find himself being dragged into a police station to face an interrogation. I never had any access to, nor did I transfer, “the $1 million” to anyone, nor have I ever had any contact whatsoever with James Wolfgramm, Ohana, or any of its employees, associates, or principals….

(2) SAY CHEESE! The Hugonauts, Brent and Cody, interview Olav Rokne and Amanda Wakaruk on the red carpet before this year’s Hugo Awards ceremony: “The Unofficial Hugo Book Club at the 2022 Hugo Awards with their favorite underrated scifi books!”

(3) WHAT CAN THE MATTER BE? Publishers Weekly is so long at the fair: “Frankfurt Book Fair 2022: ‘Romantasy’ and Revelry on the Fair Floor”.

The word of the week at the 2022 Frankfurt Book Fair, at least in the world of young adult books, is “romantasy,” a portmanteau that speaks for itself.

“Fantasy with lots of romance in the YA category seems to be a thing,” said Nicole Eisenbraun, agent and translation rights manager at Ginger Clark Literary. Claudia Galluzzi, a senior rights manager at Rights People who represents U.S. titles in Arabic, Greek, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish language markets, says that it’s practically all anyone is asking for in any of her markets.

“Rights to the titles that we had in the newer catalogs have already been snatched immediately,” Galluzzi said. Adding that the trend started with the pandemic but has grown over the past year in particular, she noted: “Obviously, you don’t want to be in the present—you want something to take you to other worlds and other realities.”

It’s a sentiment that applies to this year’s fair as well. In spite of an ever-growing list of global troubles—the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, war in Ukraine, protests in Iran (and the Iranian delegation’s last-minute withdrawal from the fair itself), worldwide supply chain issues and skyrocketing inflation—the prevailing mood at Frankfurt is a sort of giddy gratitude: to see old friends and international colleagues in person, to discuss deals over a table instead of a screen, and to party for three nights running, even in a city as oft-maligned as Germany’s financial capital…

(4) SORT OF LIKE DECAFFINATED COFFEE? The Atlantic recommends these “10 ‘Scary’ Movies for People Who Don’t Like Horror”.

Not long ago, a colleague who’s squeamish about horror movies described some of the scariest films she’d been able to make it through. One of the titles she mentioned? Bong Joon Ho’s ParasiteBut wait, I thought, that’s not a horror movie. A tense thriller, maybe, a satirical drama with some frightening set pieces, but not something that would’ve been put on the “horror” shelf in video stores, back when video stores existed.

Still, it does belong to a fun category of films that play with suspense, mystery, and creepiness without sowing constant fear; these stories unsettle but aren’t primarily made to distress and disturb viewers. Below are 10 other worthy and fascinating films that I’d consider to be great “scary” movies for people who don’t like horror. Even if you’re easily spooked, like my colleague, you’ll find something on this list to love.

The Novice (2021, directed by Lauren Hadaway)

A brilliant and sadly underseen indie movie from first-time filmmaker Hadaway, The Novice initially presents as a sports drama. A competitive college freshman named Alex Dall (played by Isabelle Fuhrman) takes a rowing class and catches the itch, quickly rising to join her school’s team. As the plot progresses, Alex’s passion turns into obsession, and she becomes particularly fixated on the clockwork consistency demanded of the best rowers. Fuhrman (known for the Orphan horror franchise) gives an intense performance, but Hadaway’s skill at ratcheting the tension to nightmare levels stands out most as Alex’s devotion turns surreal.

(5) JODIE LAWHORNE, 2023 ARISIA CHAIR, DIES. Arisia mourns the loss of their 2023 convention chair, Jodie Lawhorne, who passed away Wednesday of heart failure after a long illness. 

Nicholas “phi” Shectman, President, Arisia Inc., writes:

I am heartbroken at the loss of a friend, collaborator, and enthusiastic member of the Arisia community.  It’s hard to imagine that he won’t be there to see what we all have created together, but I am buoyed by the work that the community is doing in this sad time to keep Arisia 2023 going forward.  I am especially grateful to Alan and Michelle Wexelblat who will be stepping in to chair the convention.

(6) MEMORY LANE.

1987 [By Cat Eldridge.] Thirty-five years ago this month, The Hidden premiered. Directed by Jack Sholder and produced by committee as it had three producers (Michael L. Meltzer, Gerald T. Olson and Robert Shaye). 

It was written by Jim Kouf under the pseudonym Bob Hunt. Kouf being an Edgar Award being a screenplay writer apparently decided not to be associated with this film. 

It had a cast of Kyle MacLachlan, Michael Nouri, Clu Gulager, Chris Mulkey, Ed O’Ross, Clarence Felder, Claudia Christian and Larry Cedar. 

Critics liked it, with Roger Ebert calling it “a surprisingly effective film“. It has gained cult status.   Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it an excellent seventy-three rating. It likely more or less lost at least something even after making ten million as it cost five million to make and figuring in publicity costs that suggests a loss. 

A sequel, The Hidden II, came out six years later. It did not have the cast of the original film. Let’s just say that it wasn’t well received and leave it there. 

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 20, 1905 Frederic Dannay. Creator and writer, along with Manfred Bennington Lee, of Ellery Queen. Now I wasn’t going to say he was a genre figure but ESF says he was because genre authors such as Sturgeon penned Queen novels like The Player on the Other Side. And I do include mystery writers from time to time here. (Died 1982.)
  • Born October 20, 1913 Barney Phillips. Though he’s best remembered as Sgt. Ed Jacobs on the Dragnet series and yes, I remember him well from it, he did do some genre work of which his most notable being was one on The Twilight Zone, in which he played a Venusian hiding out on Earth as Haley, the short-order cook in “Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?” episode. Remember you can see it on Paramount+. I just did and he’s amazing. I’m not forgetting his other three appearances there, the first being in “The Purple Testament” as Captain E. L. Gunther, next in “A Thing about Machines” as television repairman which is also a brilliant role for him, followed by the Venusian role, and in “Miniature” as Diemel. Quite a feat that many appearances!  He also appeared on The Invaders, Shazzan, Three Musketeers where he was voice of Porthos for all 18 episodes of the animated series, Get Smart! and The Funky Phantomthe latter being a clone of Scooby-Doo! that was set in the American Revolution. Really, I’m not kidding. (Died 1983.)
  • Born October 20, 1923 Erle Korshak.He’s a reminder of how old fandom is. He discovered SF in 1934 with the August Astounding magazine and became a very serious collector in 1937 according to several sources. By 1939 he was a well-known fan and one of the leaders of the Moonstruck Press publishing house which was created to publish a bibliography of all fantasy books.  He was part of the leadership triumvirate of Chicon 1, the 1940 Worldcon. He later co-founded the Shasta publishing house whose first major work was Everett F. Bleiler’s The Checklist of Fantastic Literature in the late Forties, a pioneering work of SF bibliography. This was followed by major works by Heinlein, Bester, Fredric Brown and other SF authors. He was absent from fandom from the late 50s for thirty years, then rejoined fandom and was attending cons with his children.  He was inducted into the First Fandom Hall of Fame in 1996, and won the Barry R. Levin Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature Lifetime Collectors Award in 2001. (Died 2022.)
  • Born October 20, 1934 Michael Dunn. He’s best remembered for his recurring role on the Wild Wild West as Dr. Miguelito Loveless, attempting to defeat our heroes over and over, but he has had other appearances in genre television. He would be Alexander, a court jester, in the Trek “Plato’s Stepchildren” episode, and a killer clown in the Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea’s “The Wax Men” episode. He was even in the Get Smart! pilot as Mr. Big. (Died 1973.)
  • Born October 20, 1937 Emma Tennant. To the manor born but proudly a lifelong supporter of Labour, ISFDB lists nine of her novels as being as SFF. As the Literary Encyclopedia says “Her work is feminist, magical and wicked, and uses the fantastic and the Gothic to interpret and explore everyday women’s roles.“ I’ve not read her, so do tell me about her please if you’ve read her! (Died 2017.)
  • Born October 20, 1955 Magdalena Tulli, 67. Polish writer of many, many novels, a few of which are fantastic tales. Some were translated into English and available are from the usual suspects. The one work by her that I wish to single out is Tryby, published in translation as Moving Parts, as it is a metafiction in which the novel in question takes over from its author.
  • Born October 20, 1966 Diana Rowland, 56. New Orleans writer with a fascinating job history that includes cop, a crime scene investigator, and a morgue assistant. She’s best known for her Kara Gillian series and White Trash Zombie series. Her only award is a Phoenix Award, a lifetime achievement award for a science fiction professional who has done a great deal for Southern Fandom, given by DeepSouthCon. 

(8) RING TONE. As always, in honor of Bela Lugosi’s birthday on October 20, John King Tarpinian dons the Dracula ring which Lugosi wore in Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948), once part of Forry Ackerman’s collection.

(9) THE ROAD TO HALL. The Saturday Evening Post assembles the “Night of the Horror Hosts”. Did you know there is a Horror Host Hall of Fame, administered by HorrorHound Magazine?

…If you lived in Indianapolis in the 1960s, ’70s, or ’80s, your parents would have been aghast at Sammy Terry (shown above), a ghoul with the face of Death from The Seventh Seal and a voice that invoked Vincent Price with a touch of Liberace. Parents in New Orleans would have shaken their heads sadly at the bizarre laboratory experiments of Morgus the Magnificent — a psycho mix of Mr. Wizard and Dr. Frankenstein — whose “lectures” bookended vintage horror flicks. And they most certainly would not have approved of the sexy scares offered by San Diego’s Moona Lisa, who lounged about in a slinky cat suit and often had a live python draped around her neck. “Hello, earthlings!” was her weekly greeting. At sign-off, she sent her audience of 10-year-old boys off to bed by purring, “Happy hallucinations, honeys.”…

(10) SEE YOU IN THE FUNNY PAPERS. Fantagraphics has published an interview-based history of the San Diego Comic-Con: See You At San Diego: An Oral History of Comic-Con, Fandom, and the Triumph of Geek Culture by Stan Sakai and Jeff Smith.

…Why did Neil Gaiman need a horde of armed (“Well, not exactly armed,” he assiduously corrects) Klingons to help him through a particularly aggressive crowd of fans at Comic-Con one year? What was it like for the Russo Bros to first greet the overwhelmingly massive audience in Hall H and announce their debut Marvel film? Why are edible costumes no longer allowed at conventions of any kind?…

(11) SIMULTANEOUS TIMES. Space Cowboy Books has released episode 56 of the Simultaneous Times science fiction podcast featuring stories by Eric Fomley & Jean-Paul L. Garnier.

Dry Run – by Eric Fomley
Phrogger – by Jean-Paul L. Garnier

Simultaneous Times is produced by Space Cowboy Books in Joshua Tree, CA.

(12) MORE PICTURES AT AN EXHIBITION. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Further to the File 770 article on the new “SF Museum Exhibition”, SF2 Concatenation has just tweeted an alert to an advance post of a more detailed review with additional pictures of the exhibition.

(13) HARD CORES. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] At Nature, behind a paywall: “A single star has three super-Earths — and two rare super-Mercuries” – “An unusual planetary system offers hints about the birth of planets with large iron cores and thin mantles.”

 A star system containing two Mercury-like bodies could give clues to how small, dense planets form. Susana Barros at the University of Porto in Portugal and her colleagues studied tiny movements of the star HD 23472 that were caused by the gravitational pull of its planets. This allowed the team to infer the masses of the star’s five known planets, including the two innermost bodies, which seem to be smaller and lighter than Earth.

Combining their data with previous observations, the researchers estimated the five bodies’ compositions. They found that the inner two are likely to be heavier, denser versions of Mercury, with large iron cores; the outer planets, which have larger diameters than Earth, contain more water and gas.

Primary research paper here (no paywall).

(14) CRIMESTOPPERS TEXTBOOK. Although it seems Vox Day went right to the FBI after getting ripped off, knowing Vox’s views about the government prompted someone to remember Tom O’Donnell’s 2014 satire for The New Yorker: “L.P.D.: Libertarian Police Department”.

…”Somebody just stole four hundred and forty-seven million dollars’ worth of bitcoins.”

The heroin needle practically fell out of my arm. “What kind of monster would do something like that? Bitcoins are the ultimate currency: virtual, anonymous, stateless. They represent true economic freedom, not subject to arbitrary manipulation by any government. Do we have any leads?”

“Not yet. But mark my words: we’re going to figure out who did this and we’re going to take them down … provided someone pays us a fair market rate to do so.”

“Easy, chief,” I said. “Any rate the market offers is, by definition, fair.”

He laughed. “That’s why you’re the best I got, Lisowski. Now you get out there and find those bitcoins.”…

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Game Trailers: Splatoon 3,” Fandom Games says Splatoon 3, like the two earlier games, gives gamers an opportunity to blast paint at each other. There are new weapons like a “splatana,” a paint-filled katana, but the game is basically an excuse for gamers to replay a simple game they liked. “I’ll pay you $60” for Splatoon 3, says the gamer, “as long as you don’t put any NFTs in it.”

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Danny Sichel, Jennifer Hawthorne, Scott Edelman, James Reynolds, protonpattycake1, Daniel Dern, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Andrew Porter, Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]

Pixel Scroll 7/17/22 You Can Get Further With A Pixel Scroll And A Ray Gun Than With A Pixel Scroll Alone

(1) GOOSEBUMPS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Yahoo! Entertainment interviews R.L. Stine on the 30th anniversary of the Goosebumps series.  Stine reveals his inspiration is…Ray Bradbury!  “’Goosebumps’ at 30: R.L. Stine on the blockbuster book franchise and why he’s ‘Stephen King for kids’”.

…What started in 1992 as an experiment in bringing horror to tweenage bookworms has become a cross-media phenomenon that includes TV shows, movies, comic books and video games. And if Stine had had his way three decades ago, the series would have ended before it even began.

“I didn’t want to do Goosebumps,” he reveals now, crediting his wife — author and editor Jane Waldhorn — with pushing him to confront the one thing he actually was afraid of: writing for a younger audience. “She kept after me, saying, ‘No one’s ever done a horror series for 7- to 12-year-olds. We have to try it!’ I said, ‘All right, we’ll try two or three of them.'”…

(2) KEEPING UP WITH BEST RELATED. Cora Buhlert has posted another Non-Fiction Spotlight for More Modern Mythmakers: 25 Interviews with Horror and Science Fiction Writers and Filmmakers by Michael McCarty.

I’m continuing my Non-Fiction Spotlight project, where I interview the authors/editors of SFF-related non-fiction books that come out in 2022 and are eligible for the 2023 Hugo Awards. For more about the Non-Fiction Spotlight project, go here. To check out the spotlights I already posted, go here.

For more recommendations for SFF-related non-fiction, also check out this Facebook group set up by the always excellent Farah Mendlesohn, who is a champion (and author) of SFF-related non-fiction….

Why should SFF fans in general and Hugo voters in particular read this book?

McCARTY:  I have some great interviews with some great science fiction and fantasy writers such as Alan Dean Foster, Harry Turtledove, Terry Brooks and Charles de Lint and Connie Willis. Plus, a slew of horror and dark fantasy writers and filmmakers as well.

The book is bursting at the seams with great interviews. You’ll walk away knowing more about the interviewees but also about the horror and science fiction publishing and film industry the art and craft of writing books and doing movies.

I hope the reader comes away more knowledgeable and inspired and will write a terrific work after they finish the book. No thanks needed.

(3) ORWELL PRIZES. The Orwell Foundation announced the Orwell Prizes 2022 on July 14.

  • The Orwell Prize for Political Fiction 2022Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan (Faber).
  • The Orwell Prize for Political Writing 2022My Fourth Time, We Drowned by Sally Hayden (Harper Collins)
  • The Orwell Prize for Journalism 2022: George Monbiot (The Guardian)
  • The Orwell Prize for Exposing Britain’s Social Evils 2022The Cost of Covid – Burnley Crisis by Ed Thomas (BBC News)

A Special Prize was awarded to David Collins and Hannah Al-Othman (The Sunday Times) for The Murder of Agnes Wanjiru. All winners receive £3000 and took part in the Awards Ceremony at Conway Hall on Thursday 14th July 2022. Jean Seaton, the Director of The Orwell Foundation, said of the Book Prizes:

Both Sally Hayden and Claire Keegan have, in very different ways, written gripping stories about things that should alarm us: there are awful truths right at the heart of our societies and systems. However, in their wit, elegance and compassion, these powerful winning books also help us think about the choices we make, and how to make the future better. Orwell would be proud.

(4) FREE READ. The Sunday Morning Transport is doing four free stories in July. The second, Ian Tregillis’ “The Owl and the Reptiloid”, examines a vision of first contact and what comes after. 

Edy is boarding the 147 at Foster, running late to a soul-rotting customer-service gig just off Michigan Avenue, when the Secret Masters grace Chicago with a Black Triangle of its very own. But at the historic moment, she’s earning a little sigh of disdain from the bus driver, thanks to some amateur-hour fumbling of her Ventra card….

(5) LABOR ORGANIZING GAINS MOMENTUM. The New York Times’ Ian Prasad Philbrick analyzes “Why Union Drives Are Succeeding”.

After decades of declining union membership, organized labor may be on the verge of a resurgence in the U.S. Employees seeking better working conditions and higher pay have recently organized unions at Starbucks, Amazon, Apple and elsewhere. Applications for union elections this year are on pace to approach their highest level in a decade. I asked Noam Scheiber, who covers workers and labor issues for The Times, what’s behind the latest flurry of union activity.

Ian: You recently profiled Jaz Brisack, a Rhodes scholar and barista who helped organize a union at a Starbucks in Buffalo that was the first at a company-owned store in decades. Why did she want to work there?

Noam: Jaz comes out of a tradition. We saw it during the Depression; people with radical politics taking jobs with the explicit intention of organizing workers. The term for this is “salting,” like the seasoning. The practice has had some limited success in recent decades, but we’re seeing a broader revival of it, and Jaz is part of that. Several salts got jobs at Amazon and helped organize a facility on Staten Island. Academics like Barry Eidlin and Mie Inouye have written extensively about this.

(6) PODCAST PEOPLE. Simultaneous Times is a monthly science fiction podcast produced by Space Cowboy Books in Joshua Tree, CA. Episode 53 presents stories by Geoff Habiger and Jonathan Nevair read by Jean-Paul Garnier.

Stories featured in this episode:

“Kreuzungmeister” by Geoff Habiger.

“That New Spaceship Smell” by Jonathan Nevair.

(7) HARRYHAUSEN’S LEGACY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In this video, the Royal Ocean Film Society looks at how Ray Harryhausen, “one of Hollywood’s most beloved craftsmen,” combined live action and stop motion animation.  He notes that the methods Harryhausen used were actually quite complicated, and just as Harryhausen built on the work of Willis O’Brien, so do today’s animators at ILM and WETA Digital use Harryhausen’s techniques as a basis for their own work.

(8) LAST SURVIVING MEMBER’S BOTTLE. John L. Coker III told First Fandom members in the latest Scientifiction that he had acknowledged Robert A. Madle as the sole surviving member of First Fandom and dispatched to him the bottle of Beam’s set aside for the winner of a tontine established over 60 years ago.

I sent him the last man’s bottle, inscribed thusly: “This bottle is reserved for science-fiction fandom’s Living Legend Robert A. (Bob) Madle, who in 1958 suggested the idea of forming an organization called First Fandom, a fun-loving group of science-fiction fans of the Golden Era. Founders of First Fandom included C. L. (Doc) Barrett, Don Ford, Lou Tabakow, Ben Keifer and Lynn Hickman. The first person to join the group other than the founders was Robert Bloch. First Fandom would give recognition awards to the great authors of the past, publish a magazine and keep the history of science fiction in front of today’s fans. It would be a “last man’s club” with the final member “knocking off a privately held fifth of liquor.”

(9) FRANKE MOURNED. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] Here are two nice German-language obituaries for Herbert W. Franke, one by fellow SF writer Dietmar Dath at the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung: “Zum Tod des Science-Fiction-Autors Herbert W. Franke”; and Claudia Koestler at the Süddeutsche Zeitung: “Nachruf: Herbert Werner Franke im Alter von 95 Jahren gestorben”.

(10) HARRY ALM OBIT. Long-time Louisiana fan Harry Alm, husband of Marilyn and mainstay of their region’s fandom (not least filking), died this morning. Marilyn announced the news on Facebook.

(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.  

1982 [By Cat Eldridge.] Forty years ago on a summer July evening, Elliott Gould and Mimi Kuzyk starred in this most excellent half hour episode broadcast on HBO of The Ray Bradbury Theater called “The Happiness Machine”. 

It is based off the short story that may have first been published in the Saturday Evening Post or the Dandelion Wine novel that was also published that month. 

SPOILER ALERT (AS IF YOU NEEDED ONE)

After having upon a summer morning what he thinks is the perfect happiness in watching bees buzzing, birds chirping and children playing and so on the husband builds a happiness machine for his family so that they can experience the joy he feels, but the machine’s effect is not what he expects.  

It gives the user a perfect experience of whatever they want which leads to deep depression upon coming back to their usual life.  Now given this a Bradbury story, you already know that will be an upbeat ending. After he destroys the Happiness Machine, his wife points out that reality (bees buzzing, birds soaring and chirping with children playing), and of course his home and family are the actual Happiness Machine.

END OF THE SPOILERS (AS IF YOU NEEDED TO BE TOLD) 

I like Bradbury, his stories always just interesting enough to worth reading or watching. I thought HBO do a rather great job with the Ray Bradbury Theater.

It’s streaming presently on HBO Max. As always please don’t link to copies on YouTube as they are pirated. We’ll just need to remove your post.

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 17, 1889 Erle Stanley Gardner. Though best remembered for the Perry Mason detective stories, he did write a handful of SF stories, all of which are collected in The Human Zero: The Science Fiction Stories of Erle Stanley Gardner. It is not available from the usual digital suspects but Amazon has copies of the original hardcover edition at reasonable prices. (Died 1970.)
  • Born July 17, 1952 David Hasselhoff, 70. Genre roles in the Knight Rider franchise, Nick Fury: Agent of Shield film, as the title characters in — and I’m not kidding — Jekyll & Hyde: The Musical, and in Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2
  • Born July 17, 1954 J. Michael Straczynski, 68. Best known rather obviously for creating and writing most of Babylon 5 and its all too short-lived sequel Crusade. He’s also responsible as well for the Jeremiah and Sense8 series. On the comics sides, he’s written The Amazing Spider-Man, Thor and Fantastic Four. Over at DC, he did the Superman: Earth One trilogy of graphic novels, and has also written SupermanWonder Woman, and Before Watchmen titles. 
  • Born July 17, 1965 Alex Winter, 57. Bill in Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure and its sequels Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey and Bill & Ted Face the Music. And though I didn’t realize it, he was Marko in The Lost Boys. He directed two Ben 10 films, Ben 10: Race Against Time and Ben 10: Alien Swarm. He also directed Quantum is Calling, a short film that has cast members Keanu Reeves, Simon Pegg, John Cho, and Paul Rudd. 
  • Born July 17, 1967 Kelly Robson, 55. She finally has a collection out, nearly five hundred pages of fiction, Alias Space and Other Stories. It’s available at the usual suspects for four dollars and ninety-nine cents. Bliss! It contains “A Human Stain” for which she won a Nebula, and two Aurora winners, “Waters of Versailles” and “Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach”. 
  • Born July 17, 1976 Brian K. Vaughan, 46. Wow. Author of Ex Machina, the stellar Pride of BaghdadRunaways, the Hugo winning at LoneStarCon 3 Saga (which has won a BFA and a Dragon), Y: The Last Man which briefly was a series, and one of his latest undertakings, Paper Girls, which is wonderful. You could spend an entire summer just reading those series. In his spare time, he was a writer, story editor and producer of Lost during seasons three through five, and he was the showrunner and executive producer of the Under the Dome series.
  • Born July 17, 1992 Billie Lourd, 30. Lourd is the only child of actress Carrie Fisher.  She appeared as Lieutenant Connix in the Star Wars sequel trilogy.  She also has been a regular cast member on American Horror Story for five seasons. 

(13) COMICS SECTION.

  • Candorville thinks we should not be assuming this widely believed astronomical fact is true.

(14) FERDINAND’S OFFSRING. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Washington Post, the weekly humor competition, conducted by Pat Myers, is about feghoots.  And boy, are the winners groaners!

The winners are here: “Style Invitational Week 1497: A ‘what if’ contest; winning pun-stories”.

The ones even the judge can’t understand are here: “Style Conversational Week 1497: Figure out the puns in these ‘feghoots’”.

Here are some of the entries that stumped me. YMMV, as they say; the puns might jump right out at you. If so, or if you just want to guess, leave a comment right here at the bottom of the column, rather than in the usual forum of the Style Invitational Devotees group on Facebook. I’m reprinting the entries as they came in, with no editing except to fix spelling, typos, etc. I didn’t check at all who wrote them, though if their authors want to reveal themselves in the comments thread, fine with me!

(15) BOOKSTORE SAVED. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Not a genre bookstore, but I figure all bookstores are fellow travelers. “Detroit bookstore 27th Letter was scammed. The local community stepped in to save it” in the Washington Post.

…The individual placed several different orders, amounting to $35,000 worth of medical and engineering textbooks, each costing between $100 and $200. Then, in late May, staff received a notification from the store’s merchant service provider, flagging a credit card the person used as fraudulent.

The bookstore co-owners went through the individual’s purchases — all of which were shipped to the same address outside Michigan — and quickly realized that the person had placed every past order using a stolen credit card, as well.

“That’s when we started to consider closing,” said Cooper, 28.

They contacted to law enforcement, their insurance provider and different banks, hoping for a reprieve from the serious financial toll they knew the scam would take on their small company. The cost, they were told, would probably fall entirely on them — which would put them out of business.

… “We realized we needed to ask for help,” Erin Pineda said.

The store co-owners started a GoFundMe campaign, and within 10 days, they surpassed their goal of $35,000. They were stunned by the generosity.

“We’re just blown away by how the community responded and lifted us up in a really difficult situation,” Erin Pineda said. “It was incredible.”…

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] An old man struggles to keep his house from collapsing and deal with aging in this 2017 animated film directed by Wong Jin Yao.

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