Pixel Scroll 6/24/22 Uptown Scroll

(1) DOES THE GENRE HAVE A CORE? Charles Payseur, whose reviews of short sff fiction now appear in a column for Locus, questions what is the “core” of the genre in the context of noting that he doesn’t cover Clarkesworld, Asimov’s or Analog. “Quick Sips 06/24/2022”.

…I do always encourage people to just find venues that you like and then otherwise read what you feel like. The field of short SFF is too big to take on comprehensively, and even trying can quickly lead to burnout and frustration (just ask…most short SFF reviewers who try). As a reviewer and now as an editor, though, does there arise some sort of obligation to try? It’s a decent question, and one that I’m not sure anyone can answer because…what would trying look like, if not doing exactly what I’m doing now? Could I fit Clarkesworld into my reading? I’m actually unsure. Probably if I could I would have. It’s not like I have suddenly opened up a bunch of free time in my life. And yet I feel that some would think this omission a failing, as some have found my lack of coverage of Asimov’s and Analog a failing. And…I don’t have much to offer to that. All of those are very large publications and take a big commitment to get through every month. Were they smaller I’d probably be more tempted. As is…

There are some arguments one could make about how to determine where the “core” should be. By what pays best, maybe? Or by what has a long tradition of award nominations. By the prestige of the editor. However the lines of the “core” are drawn, though, many will feel excluded for being on the outside of it. It’s a problem that really can only be overcome by engagement. If more people were engaged in drawing their personal cores, then what gets engaged with critically might greatly expand. If reviewers all are moved not by proximity to some sort of “required reading” but rather are pulled in the direction of their personal taste, then as long as the field of reviewers were diverse and acting in good faith, then the largest possible coverage would be achieved….

(2) ON THE LEFT COAST. SFF author Brenda Clough, whose family moved from Virginia two years ago, tells a Washington Post interviewer “What I love about my home in Portland, Ore.”

Brenda W. Clough and her husband moved from Reston, Va., to Portland, Ore., early in 2020. Brenda, a novelist, shared their experience and what they love about their new home in an email. The following was edited for length and clarity.

“My husband and I sold our big house in Reston, Va., when we retired in early 2020. What good timing we had, because both of our offices closed down later that year. We moved to his hometown, Portland, Ore., where we bought a condo downtown.

… I also wanted modern architecture. The D.C. suburbs are almost purely Colonial in style, a Mid-Atlantic thing. Now I have become a fan of poured concrete and Brutalism. My current home has plate-glass windows that go from floor to ceiling. There are no steps at all. I can’t hear my neighbors, and I don’t have screens on the windows. There aren’t many bugs downtown.

Because I am a novelist, I also needed a place that could accommodate our 10 tall bookcases full of books. I dragged the ones in the picture all the way from the East Coast to the West, the tools of my trade: a science fiction and fantasy collection that spans 70 years and historical volumes focusing on Antarctica or Victorian England. And these are only the survivors of a major cull. I weeded out half of the books and gave them to Reston’s Used Book Shop in Lake Anne, which has been enabling my book shopping for decades. It costs roughly a dollar a pound to move stuff coast to coast, a price that powerfully focuses the mind. Moving like this is the opportunity to prune all the possessions back. It has been liberating to get rid of stuff from the basement, garage and attic….

(3) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites listeners to grab dinner with Gwendolyn Clare during Episode 174 of the Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Gwendolyn Clare

Gwendolyn Clare’s debut novel, Ink, Iron, and Glass, and its sequel, Mist, Metal, and Ash, compose a duology published in 2018 and 2019 about a young mad scientist with the ability to write new worlds into existence. Coming up in November is In the City of Time, the first book in a duology about three science prodigies on a time-traveling adventure to save the Earth. Her short stories have appeared in ClarkesworldAsimov’sAnalog, and Beneath Ceaseless Skies, among others, and her poetry has been nominated for the Rhysling Award.

Her short story “Tasting Notes on the Varietals of the Southern Coast” was reprinted in The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2018. She holds a BA in Ecology, a BS in Geophysics, and a PhD in Mycology — the last of those making me wish I got around to asking her to assuage my fears about a relative of mine who picks and eats wild mushrooms … but hey, that will have to be dealt with at a future meal during a different con.

We discussed the important lesson COVID taught her about her career, whether her most famous short story reads differently during these pandemic times, the identity of the science fiction writer I was startled to learn had been her high school geometry teacher, what the novels of Elizabeth Bear taught her about writing, the short story concept she decided to instead turn into what became her first published novel, how she gets into the mindset to write in the Young Adult genre, the amazing cleanliness of her first drafts, the pantsing fingerprints she sees on Stephen King, the many iterations recent writers have made to John W. Campbell’s “Who Goes There?,” and much more.

(4) WJW AND THE THREE R’S. The Speculative Literature Foundation’s Portolan Project conducted “An Interview with Walter Jon Williams” about the three R’s of writing craft: Raising the stakes, Reveals, and Reversals.

“Reveals keep the narrative from plodding directly from one point to another, and often sends it off in another direction entirely. This comes from theater in which there’s a curtain, you don’t know what’s behind the curtain. Action goes on, the curtain is pulled back and suddenly you’re in another place that is very different from where you were before.”

Watch or read our interview with Walter Jon Williams on the three R’s of writing craft and how they could make our stories more engaging. 

Incidentally, the Portolan Writing Project: Phase 1 recently completed a successful Kickstarter that raised over $5,000. The initiative seeks “to provide a wealth of exceptional creative writing courses and resources, free to the public.”

(5) BETWEEN WORLDS. Barbara Graham searches for the dividing line in “Paranormal Or Normal?” at Mystery Fanfare.

My debut mystery, What Jonah Knew, has been described many different ways: Magical. Mystical. Paranormal. Supernatural. And though in one way the labels fit, in another way they raise questions about where the otherworldly stops and reality begins.           

Some background. I was working as a journalist when I was assigned to write a magazine article on past-life regression therapy. As part of my research, I scheduled an appointment with a well-known Jungian analyst who specialized in this work and had published books on the subject. To be honest, I didn’t expect anything to happen. I knew these sessions involved hypnotic suggestion and I—an admitted control freak—believed myself to be immune to trance-induced states. What’s more, the whole business struck me as unreliable at best, fraudulent at worst. Nearly everyone I’d read about who claimed to recall a past life under hypnosis seemed to remember being someone famous—Napoleon, Nefertiti, Abraham Lincoln—never your average serf or working stiff….  

(6) VOGEL VOTING DEADLINE APPROACHES. Members of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Association of New Zealand (SFFANZ) have until June 30 to get in their 2022 Sir Julius Vogel Awards votes.

The main SFFANZ site (separate to this news service) was down for a bit – that has been fixed.

You need to be a member to vote (it only costs $10) – see “How to Join SFFANZ”. Here’s the info about how to vote and where to download the voting form. If you need more info about the nominees, there is a voting pack available.

(7) PRIDE Q&A’S. The Horror Writers Association blog continues their “Point of Pride” theme in these interviews with Cody Sisco and Steve Berman.

Do you make a conscious effort to include LGBTQ material in your writing and if so, what do you want to portray?

Being part of a marginalized group creates a hyperawareness of how members are represented in the media, including in fiction. To paraphrase an apocryphal quote: First they ignore you, then they scorn you, then they laugh at you, etc. When LGBTQ writers tell stories, there can be pressure to create “good representation” and to avoid portrayals that are complicated or nuanced especially if they touch on stereotypes. Writing horror is doubly tricky because we have to navigate creating characters and plots based on real fears and injustices, which can blur into inflicting pain on readers and calling up their trauma.

In my writing, I aim to include shades of dark and light, to explore the complications, inconsistencies, and dilemmas that shape every character, and to reach a queer audience with stories that expand the boundaries of queer pop culture.

How do you feel the LGBTQ community has been represented thus far in the genre and what hopes do you have for representation in the genre going forward?

I must admit I am fascinated with essays utilizing queer theory to explore works of horror that most readers would consider “very straight” classic works of horror. A number of academics have applied this to Robert Louis Stevenson’s Jekyll and Hyde as well as Stoker’s Dracula. I feel that such examinations are perfectly valid as I bring my own perspective (a very gay one) to everything I read or watch or hear.

While the number of queer-themed contemporary horror fiction has grown over the years so it is very possible to fill several bookshelves with just new releases, I do wish more LGBTQ readers would familiarize themselves with older works—I’m frustrated with tweets and posts that present and celebrate queer horror as a twenty-first-century phenomenon, ignoring the great efforts of of many authors. Before there was Clive Barker and Poppy Z. Brite, horror fans could delve into the Gothic storytelling of Francis Lathom or Forrest Reid, the Southern macabre of Michael McDowell, or the vampires of Jewelle Gomez and Jeffrey McMahan. To deny their existence is wrong.

(8) BANNED SOMEWHERE BESIDES IN BOSTON. Slashfilm can tell you “Why These Sci-Fi Movies Are Banned Around The World”.

Since the dissolution of the Motion Picture Production Code, also known as the Hays Code, in the late 1960s, film censorship has been relatively uncommon in the United States. However, several other countries still actively ban films. Though science fiction is less of a target than other genres, there are still many notable examples of sci-fi films that ran afoul of censors, and behind each case lies a deeper story. Ironically, these bans end up revealing more about the perpetrators and their politics than any sci-fi film ever could.

First on the list:

The Matrix: Reloaded

“The Matrix” sparked backlash when it was first released in Egypt. As the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reports, several Islamic publications interpreted the film as supporting Zionism. Naturally, Egypt promptly banned its follow-up, “The Matrix: Reloaded,” as well, but the reasoning behind that decision is somewhat murkier.

According to Variety, the country’s Department of Monitoring Artistic Products partially attributed the ban to “scenes of excessive violence,” which is a common red flag in Middle Eastern countries. However, the larger reason requires more digging. The committee also noted that the film “deals explicitly with issues of creation and existence,” including “the Creator and the created, the origins of creation, [and] free will and predestination.”

(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY

1950 [By Cat Eldridge.] Seventy-two years ago on this day, the radio version of Robert Heinlein’s Destination Moon aired on the Dimension X radio show.  It was episode twelve of the series.

Despite common belief that it based off the film version of Heinlein’s novel, it was not. It was instead based on Heinlein’s final draft of the film’s shooting script. During the broadcast on June 24, 1950, the program was interrupted by a news bulletin announcing that North Korea had declared war on South Korea, marking the beginning of the Korean War.

A shortened version of this Destination Moon radio program was adapted by Charles Palmer and was released by Capitol Records for children. 

You can hear it here.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born June 24, 1842 — Ambrose Bierce. The Devil’s Dictionary is certainly worth reading but it’s not genre. For his best genre work, I’d say it’s “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” which along with his “The Tail of the Sphinx” gives you range of his talents. Both iBooks and Kindle offer up everything (as near as I can tell) he’s written, much of it free. (Died circa 1914.)
  • Born June 24, 1925 — Fred Hoyle. Astronomer of course, but also author of a number of SF works including October the First Is Too Late which I think is among the best genre novels done. I’m also fond of Ossian’s Ride which keeps its SF elements hidden until late in the story. Though he won no genre Awards, he won a lot of other Awards, to wit the Mayhew Prize, Smith’s Prize, FRS, Kalinga Prize, RAS Gold Medal, Bruce Medal, Royal Medal, Klumpke-Roberts Award and Crafoord Prize. (Died 2001.)
  • Born June 24, 1937 — Charles N. Brown. Founder and editor of Locus. I’m going to stop here and turn this over to those of you who knew him far better than I did as my only connection to him is as a reader of Locus for some decades now. Locus won far too many Hugos to list under his time there. He also was nominated at Conspiracy ‘87 for a Hugo for his Science Fiction in Print: 1985 that was co-written by William G. Contento. (Died 2009.)
  • Born June 24, 1947 — Peter Weller, 75. Robocop, obviously, which was nominated for a Hugo at Nolacon II, with my favorite scene being him pulling out and smashing Cain’s brain in the second film, but let’s see what else he’s done. Well, there’s The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension, a film I adore. And then there’s Leviathan which I’m guessing a lot of you never heard of. Or I hope you haven’t. Well, Screamers based on Philip K. Dick’s short story “Second Variety”.  And Star Trek Into Darkness certainly qualifies. Hey he even showed up in Star Trek: Enterprise
  • Born June 24, 1950 — Nancy Allen, 72. Officer Anne Lewis in the Robocop franchise. (I like all three films for various reasons.) Her first genre role was not in Carrie as Chris Hargensen, but in a best forgotten a film year earlier (Forced Entry) as an unnamed hitchhiker. She shows up in fan favorite The Philadelphia Experiment as Allison Hayes and I see her in Poltergeist III as Patricia Wilson-Gardner (seriously — a third film in this franchise? Oh why?). She’s in the direct to video Children of the Corn 666: Isaac’s Return as Rachel Colby. And she was in an Outer Limits episode, “Valerie 23”, as Rachel Rose. 
  • Born June 24, 1950 — Mercedes Lackey, 72. There’s a line on a wiki page that says she writes nearly six books a year. Very, very impressive. She’s certainly got a lot of really good series out there including the vast number that are set in the Valdemar universe. I like her Bedlam’s Bard series better. She wrote the first few in this series with Ellen Guon and the latter in the series with Rosemary Edghill. The SERRAted Edge series, Elves with race cars, is quite fun too. Larry Dixon, her husband, and Mark Shepherd were co-writers of these. 
  • Born June 24, 1982 — Lotte Verbeek, 40. You most likely know her as Ana Jarvis, the wife of Edwin Jarvis, who befriends Carter on Agent Carter. She’s got an interesting genre history including Geillis Duncan on the Outlander series, Helena in The Last Witch Hunter, Aisha in the dystopian political thriller Division 19 film and a deliberately undefined role in the cross-world Counterpart series. 
  • Born June 24, 1988 — Kasey Lansdale, 34. Daughter of Joe Lansdale. Publicist at Tachyon Books and a really nice person. Really she is. And yes, she’s one of us having written The Cases of Dana Roberts series, and edited two anthologies, Fresh Blood & Old Bones and Impossible Monsters. In her father’s Hap and Leonard collection Of Mice and Minestrone, she has “Good Eats: The Recipes of Hap and Leonard”. 
  • Born June 24, 1994 — Nicole Muñoz, 28. You’ll perhaps best remember her for role as Christie Tarr (née McCawley) in the Defiance series. Her first role was playing a Little Girl in Fantastic Four. Likewise she was A Kid with Braces in The Last Mimzy, and yes, Another Girl, in Hardwired. The latter was written by Michael Hurst, and has apparently nothing to with the Walter Jon Williams novel of the same name.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • The Far Side suggests superheroes are not immune to the problems of aging.  

(12) YOU ASKED FOR IT. “Amazon Promises Another Attempt to Make Comixology Suck Less” as Gizmodo puts it so delicately. Their article is based on a Comixology thread that starts here.

Daniel P. Dern sent the link with a note: “Among other things, as in, (says DPD, based on other comments I’ve seen in past months along with some of my own experience) to un-‘deprove’ recent changes which made by Amazon.

“To be fair (still DPD opining), IMHO, both Marvel and DC have made similar ‘deprovements’ to their streaming digital comic services over the past year. They’re still great deals, money for reading wise, but the UI/UX has gotten unnecessarily more ornery.”

(13) MIRACLEMAN SERIES RETURNS. After thirty years, Neil Gaiman and Mark Buckingham complete their Miracleman saga this October in Miracleman By Gaiman & Buckingham: The Silver Age.

“We’re back! And after thirty years away it is both thrilling and terrifying,” Buckingham said. “Neil and I have had these stories in our heads since 1989 so it is amazing to finally be on the verge of sharing them with our readers.”

The two visionary comic talents will complete their unfinished Miracleman storyline “The Silver Age,” including remastered editions of the first two published issues, complete with new artwork and bonus material. The series will follow the previously announced Miracleman By Gaiman & Buckingham Book 1: The Golden Age TPB, the new collection containing Gaiman and Buckingham’s first Miracleman series. After 30 years, fans will finally see the full incredible story of Young Miracleman with more to come!

Young Miracleman — the lost member of the Miracleman Family — is back! His last memories were of a 1963 world of joy and innocence. Now, he’s been thrust into the 21st century, where his best friends have become gods and monsters. Where can a hero from a simpler time call home in this brave new world?

(14) CAN CONFIRM. George R.R. Martin responds to reports about “SNOW… and Other Stuff” at Not A Blog.

…Yes, there is a Jon Snow show in development.   The HOLLYWOOD REPORTER story was largely correct.   And I would expect no less from James Hibberd.   I have dealt with a lot of reporters over the past few years, and Hibberd is one of the very best, an actual journalist who does all the things journalists are supposed to do (getting the facts right, talking to sources, respecting requests for “background only” and “off the record,” etc) that most of the clickbait sites never bother with….

But, yes, it is true.   This was not an official announcement from HBO, so it seems there was another leak.   I did a long interview with James Hibberd last week, for the big HOUSE OF THE DRAGON story that HOLLYWOOD REPORTER is planning.   At the end of the call, he asked a few questions about the spinoffs.   “Is it possible one of the spinoffs is a sequel rather than a prequel?” he asked.   I answered “No comment.”   Then he asked “Is it possible a member of the original cast is attached?”  And again I answered “No comment.”   And that was all.   But plainly he found someone more forthcoming than me.   Who?   I don’t know, and suspect I never will.   A good journalist protects his sources.

There’s not much more I can tell you, not until HBO gives me a green light….

(15) HYSTERICAL LITTER. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Authorities in Malmo, Sweden created a “sexy trashcan” that mutters suggestive comments whenever anyone throws in some trash.“’Sexy’ rubbish bins installed in Swedish town to encourage use”.

Two rubbish bins on Davidshallsbron bridge in Sweden’s southern city of Malmö have been equipped by city authorities with loudspeakers, blaring out sexual phrases like “ooooh, right there yeah” when the lid is opened to encourage passers-by to use the bins to get rid of their rubbish.

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Game Trailers: Dead By Daylight,” Fandom Games says this multi-player vampire slaughterfest “makes you a little more misanthropic just playing it.” The narrator suggests that after fighting various licensed monsters, the next series should feature Jared Leto. “No. not Morbius, Jared Leto. That would be truly terrifying!

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

SLF Convention Grant Recipient Roundup

The Speculative Literature Foundation announced creation of its new convention grant a year ago, and awarded $10,000 over the course of 2021-2022 on a rolling basis to science fiction and fantasy conventions.

The SLF grant was designed to support conventions both in developing their online presences (through the purchase of tech, training costs, hosting costs, etc.) and making in-person gathering safer once it’s appropriate (through purchase of cleaning supplies, masks, renting additional rooms for better spacing, etc.).The first convention grant recipients were publicized in August. Now the organization has put out a list of all the events to which it distributed funds.

Astronomicon: Run by the Rochester Fantasy Fans non-profit, Astronomicon is looking to make a return after 8 years of not holding the con. Taking place in Rochester, New York, they claim that they will be the first science fiction con happening in New York since the pandemic began.

FIYAHCON: FIYAHCON is a virtual con dedicated to the members of the BIPOC community who’ve contributed to speculative fiction. Their first con was last year, with 1200 participants and a Hugo nomination for Best Related Work.

Loscon: This con is being run by The Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society (LASFS), “the world’s oldest continuously active science fiction and fantasy club (founded Oct. 27, 1934)”!

Estcon: Estcon will be taking place in Estonia, and it will be put on by the Estonian Science Fiction Association, which has been active since 1995 . “It’s about literature, comic books, LARP, films, animations and having a good time during a weekend in July with friends and barbecue.”

Flights of Foundry: Flights of Foundry is a free, online con created by the non profit org Dream Foundry. First put on in 2020, it received lots of praise for being free and accessible to many who wished to experience the con scene during the pandemic.

Capricon: Capricon is a four-day science fiction convention held annually by nonprofit org Phandemonium, Inc in the Chicagoland area since 1981.

CoastCon: CoastCon is Mississippi’s longest running and largest science fiction, fantasy and gaming convention, put on by the nonprofit org CoastCon, Inc. Its ten-member volunteer board develops events and gatherings to promote reading, education, fellowship, and science fiction, fantasy and gaming in all formats across the Southern United States, for over forty-four years.

WisCon: WisCon is a feminist science fiction and fantasy convention held annually in Madison, Wisconsin. Founded in 1976 as the world’s first feminist speculative fiction convention, it has since grown into a robust and dedicated community of fans, artists, and scholars.

The Outer Dark Symposium: The Outer Dark Symposium on the Greater Weird is a progressive speculative fiction conference that focuses on contemporary Weird fiction. The con actively seeks to create spaces that allow for the kinds of conversations and connections that chart the future of boundary-breaking speculative fiction, as well as being an inclusive, safe and welcoming place for women, LBGTQ+, and writers of color.

Founded in January 2004 to promote literary quality in speculative fiction, the all-volunteer Speculative Literature Foundation is led by Mary Anne Mohanraj and 30 other committed volunteers. The Foundation maintains a comprehensive website offering information for readers, writers, editors and publishers of speculative fiction, develops book lists and outreach materials for schools and libraries, and raises funds for redistribution to other organizations in the field, as well as five awards made annually to writers, including the A.C. Bose Grant. For more information, visit speculativeliterature.org.

The SLF is a 501(c)3 non-profit, entirely supported by community donations. If you’d like to be involved with our efforts, please consider joining us as a member for $2/month, at speculativeliterature.org/membership.

The Speculative Literature Foundation is partially funded by a grant from the Oak Park Area Arts Council, Village of Oak Park, Illinois Arts Council, National Endowment for the Arts and Oak Park River Forest Community Foundation.

[Based on a press release.]

Mimi Mondal Wins SLF’s 2022 A.C. Bose Grant

The Speculative Literature Foundation announced today that Mimi Mondal is the winner of the 2022 A.C. Bose Grant for South Asian Speculative Literature worth $1,000 for her work “Twenty-Nine Days Before Remaking the World.”

Mimi Mondal (she/they) was nominated for the Nebula Award in 2020 for her novelette “His Footsteps, Through Darkness and Light” (Tor.com/Realm.fm). Her debut Dungeons & Dragons adventure, named “In the Mists of Manivarsha” and inspired by Bengal from the 5th-6th century CE, is forthcoming in the book Journeys Through the Radiant Citadel (Wizards of the Coast, June 2022). Her fiction can be found on Strange Horizons, Fireside Magazine, Nightmare Magazine, The Gollancz Book of South Asian Science Fiction, Vol. 1 and elsewhere, and her nonfiction column “Extraordinary Alien” on Hindustan Times.

Mimi was born and raised in Kolkata, India, and currently lives in New York City, where she grows hydroponic flowers in the winter, reads (e)books on the grass at public parks in the summer, and takes late-night walks by the East River in all seasons.

“Twenty-Nine Days Before Remaking the World” was originally written in 2019 under the patronage of the Internationales Literaturfestival Berlin, which published the story in German translation by Anke Caroline Burger. The current version of the story is somewhat different from what it was three years ago, and may undergo a few other changes before it appears in Clarkesworld Magazine.

[Based on a press release.]

Pixel Scroll 3/24/22 If You Want A Picture Of The Future, Imagine A Hand Clicking On A Pixel Scroll – For Ever

(1) MOPOP INTRODUCES NEW ONLINE COLLECTION VAULT. [Item by Frank Catalano.] Seattle’s Museum of Pop Culture is finally putting part of its collection online. This is a very cool development for fans of science fiction as popular culture.

The announcement this week only covers a small part of the MoPOP permanent collection, but it’s far more than has been available before. I originally visited and covered the physical MoPOP vault in 2014 for GeekWire (“Preserving the future: A rare glimpse inside the EMP Museum vault”) and interviewed its curators for a podcast about preservation a few years later (“Preserving the future: How MoPOP protects and presents our ever-changing popular culture”).

How do I know it’s only a small subset of everything MoPOP has to offer? Back in 2014, I donated more than 50 lobby cards for science fiction and fantasy films to the permanent collection, and only one has appeared in the online vault so far, for Futureworld. (WHY that crappy movie and not ones for 2001, Planet of the Apes, or others? No idea.)

Direct link: MoPOP Online Collection Vault.

(2) GAIMAN’S ANSWERS. “Neil Gaiman Q&A: ‘As long as there’s a Tardis, all’s right with the world’” in New Statesman.

What’s your earliest memory?

My grandmother taking me to a bridge in my pushchair to watch the steam trains go by. I was 23 months old. I also remember her venting, months later, about the Beatles song “She Loves You” and how their use of the word “yeah” instead of “yes” meant we were now all living in the end times.

Who are your heroes?

As a boy I loved urbane and unflappable literary characters, such as PG Wodehouse’s Rupert Psmith, and indomitable heroes on television – Adam West’s Batman, Adam Adamant, Doctor Who, and the Monkees. When I was a teenager the Stranglers released “No More Heroes” around the same time that David Bowie sang “Heroes”. I listened to them both and thought we are meant to be our own heroes…

(3) KIJ JOHNSON’S NEW JOB. The Ad Astra Center for Science Fiction & the Speculative Imagination at the University of Kansas has announced that sff author Kij Johnson will join the Center as Associate Director. Johnson previously held the same title at KU’s Gunn Center for the Study of SF.

“Kij is a fantastic writer and educator. I’m very excited that she is on board to help shape the vision and impact of Ad Astra,” said center Director Chris McKitterick. “She has been a valued colleague for many years and someone I admire for their tenacity of thought, dedication to students, and excellence in craft.”

Johnson is a writer of speculative and experimental short fiction and novels. She has won the Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy Awards, as well as the Grand Prix de l’Imaginaire and others.

In 2013, she gave the inaugural Tolkien Lecture at Oxford University; since then, she has been a guest of honor at conferences and conventions in Sweden, France, and the United States. Johnson has also been a professor in the Department of English at the University of Kansas, starting in 2012.

“Science fiction—speculative fiction—offers a unique way of engaging with big ideas. In some ways, it is the dominant storytelling mode of our era,” Johnson said. “To continue my work exploring speculative fiction as a practitioner and educator through the efforts of the Ad Astra Center is particularly gratifying.”

These efforts will include many of the center’s public outreach projects, including conferences, classes, presentations, masterclasses, events, and workshops. Kij will be on hand to offer her expertise and experience in driving these projects.

“Right now, Kij and I are planning some wonderful things,” said McKitterick. “For fans, scholars, and writers of spec fic, there will be a lot to enjoy.”

(4) SEE SLF PANEL. The Speculative Literature Foundation has posted their panel “Creating a Shared World” on YouTube.

Writers from George R.R. Martin’s Wild Cards and Ellen Kushner’s Tremontaine come together to talk about the challenges and delights of working in a shared universe. Panelists: Ellen Kushner, author of Swordspoint and other fantasy novels, Delia Sherman author of The Porcelain Dove, Walter Jon Williams author of the Privateers and Gentlemen series, and David D. Levine author of Arabella of Mars. Moderated by Mary Anne Mohanraj, SLF Director.

(5) LE GUIN BIO. Publishers Marketplace, behind a paywall, notes that Julie Phillips, author of the Hugo Award-winning James Tiptree Jr.: The Double Life of Alice B. Sheldon, is at work on an untitled biography of Ursula K. Le Guin (first revealed in 2016) “which will intimately examine Le Guin’s intellectual and emotional development as a person and writer, her struggles with depression, her visionary politics, and her commitment to literary freedom.”

(6) A WORKING WRITER. Cat Rambo shares some words of wisdom from “Jane Yolen on Creativity, Productivity, and Returning to Scotland” on Medium.

I had the great pleasure of interviewing Jane Yolen, author of literally hundreds, perhaps thousands, of books, poems, and stories. This was such a joy of an interview that I wanted to pull out some of my favorite quotes….

(7) OPEN THE POD BAY DOOR HAL. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] … And for God’s sake hold onto that rope!

An article in Vanity Fair (partial paywall) tells stories of the making of 2001: A Space Odyssey. These include the critical scene where astronaut Dave Bowman (played by Kier Dullea) is attempting to re-enter Discovery One and has to try a hazardous jump through vacuum without a helmet.

Dullea did the stunt himself because his face would be to the camera. In fact, his face could have ended up in the camera. The stunt was performed by the expedient of having the actor drop down a vertical shaft toward a camera mounted at the bottom. To control his fall, a rope was tied to him and belayed by a crewmember who had to stop Dullea when a knot tied in the rope reached the crewman’s hands.

I’m sure Dullea was never happier to get a scene right on the first take. And I’d make a bet he took more than one deep breath after doing so. “Behind the Scenes of 2001: A Space Odyssey, the Strangest Blockbuster in Hollywood History”.

… By March the production had moved onto its most elaborate set of all: the Discovery’s work and living area, a centrifuge that rotated to simulate gravity. Kubrick’s production team had taken six months to build an actual centrifuge, with a diameter of 40 feet and a weight of 40 tons. Dressed for its entire 360 degrees, the set could turn forward or backward, at a top rate of three miles an hour, creaking and groaning as it got up to speed. For some scenes the actors had to be strapped in place by hidden harnesses as they spun upside down, with props such as meal trays and video pads glued or bolted in place. Depending on the shot, the set’s entire circumference might be aglow with lights, the actors locked inside and forced to turn on the camera themselves before hitting their marks. In production photos the set resembles a demented and unlikely torture device, a hybrid of jewelry tumbler and blistering heat lamp. With God knows how many megawatts surging through the entire setup, lights frequently exploded while unsecured props and overlooked pieces of equipment plummeted as they reached the top of the arc, narrowly missing actors and crew members. “A portentous spectacle, accompanied by terrifying noises and popping light bulbs,” as Clarke described it….

(8) TIME BENDER. Brian James Gage discusses how he places real people in his supernatural historical novels at CrimeReads: “How (and Why) I Write Supernatural Historical Fiction”.

…Each day started with a brief meditation session where I would clear my mind and say to myself, “All that matters is the characters. Follow their lead, their needs and desires, and everything else about the narrative will unfold naturally.” As after all, in fiction, it truly is the characters who guide the story.

Let them lead and the story-arc will follow.

During my brief meditation, I would ask my characters what they were doing that day, how they were feeling, what they needed, and even if there was anywhere specific they wanted to go. Then I would kindly ask them to show up to set, so I could guide them on a wild and horrific adventure. And during this new ritual, I found something of vast importance—my authentic voice. In August 2020, I had the first draft of The Sommelier complete and for the first time in my life, the entire process felt like a wellspring of creativity and command as I purged my characters’ truth onto the page….

(9) TEXAS SCHOOL DISTRICT SCREENS LIBRARY HOLDINGS. In the wake of actions by Texas governor Greg Abbott, “Texas superintendent tells librarians to pull books on sexuality, transgender people” reports NBC News.

…“I don’t want a kid picking up a book, whether it’s about homosexuality or heterosexuality, and reading about how to hook up sexually in our libraries,” Glenn said.

He also made it clear that his concerns specifically included books with LGBTQ themes, even if they do not describe sex. Those comments, according to legal experts, raise concerns about possible violations of the First Amendment and federal civil rights laws that protect students from discrimination based on their gender and sexuality.

“And I’m going to take it a step further with you,” he said, according to the recording. “There are two genders. There’s male, and there’s female. And I acknowledge that there are men that think they’re women. And there are women that think they’re men. And again, I don’t have any issues with what people want to believe, but there’s no place for it in our libraries.”

Minutes later, after someone asked whether titles on racism were acceptable, Glenn said books on different cultures “are great.” 

“Specifically, what we’re getting at, let’s call it what it is, and I’m cutting to the chase on a lot of this,” Glenn said. “It’s the transgender, LGBTQ and the sex — sexuality — in books. That’s what the governor has said that he will prosecute people for, and that’s what we’re pulling out.”

Over the next two weeks, the school district embarked on one of the largest book removals in the country, pulling about 130 titles from library shelves for review. Nearly three-quarters of the removed books featured LGBTQ characters or themes, according to a ProPublica and Texas Tribune analysis. Others dealt with racism, sex ed, abortion and women’s rights. 

Two months later, a volunteer review committee voted to permanently ban three of the books and return the others to shelves. But that may not be the end of the process…. 

(10) MEMORY LANE.

1999 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Twenty-three years ago this month, Rainbow Mars was published by Tor. It is my absolutely favorite work by Larry Niven, with Ringworld being my second. It contains six stories, five previously published and the longest, “Rainbow Mars”, written for this collection, plus some other material. It is about Svetz, the cross-reality traveler who keeps encountering beings who really should not exist including those Martians. 

The first story, “Get A Horse!” was first published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction in October 1969. That was followed by “Bird in the Hand” in the same magazine, October of the next year. Surprisingly the third story, “Leviathan!” was published in Playboy in August of that year. 

(Yes I know Playboy did a lot of SF, it’s just that I wouldn’t have expected this story to show up there. It fits F&SF better in my opinion. Your opinion on that matter of course may differ.)

Then “There’s a Wolf in My Time Machine” was published in October of that year in the fine zine that printed the first two. Finally the last story that got printed at that time, “Death in a Cage” was published in Niven’s The Flight of the Horse collection in September of 1973 which collected these stories as well. (The Flight of the Horse also had “Flash Crowd” which I like a lot and “What Good is a Glass Dagger?” which is fantastic.) 

Now we get Rainbow Mars, the novel that finishes out the work this delightfully silly work. Some of Pratchett idea’s from a conversation he had with Niven remain in the final version of Rainbow Mars, mainly the use of Yggdrasil, the world tree. Though there’s Norsemen as well…

There’s two other two short pieces, “The Reference Director Speaks”, in which Niven speaks about his fictional sources for the Mars he creates, and “Svetz’s Time Line” which is self-explanatory. 

An afterword, “Svetz and the Beanstalk”, rounds out the work in which Niven talks about the fictional sources for Rainbow Mars as a whole.

The fantastic cover art, which was nominated for a Chelsey Award, is by Bob Eggleton who has won, if my counting skills are right tonight, an impressive nine Hugos, mostly for Best Professional Artist though there was one for Best Related Work for his most excellent Greetings from Earth: The Art of Bob Eggleton

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 24, 1834 William Morris. Credited with creating the modern fantasy literature genre which may or may not be true, he certainly wrote some of its earlier works, to note his epic poem The Earthly ParadiseThe Wood Beyond the World and The Well at the World’s End, plus his entire artistic motif fits nearly within a fantasy literature and artistic design that looks as if it was created by the Fey Themselves. All of his works can be found at the usual digital suspects, often at no cost. (Died 1896.)
  • Born March 24, 1874 Harry Houdini. His literary career intersects the genre world in interesting ways. Though it’s not known which ones, many of his works were apparently written by his close friend Walter B. Gibson who as you know is the creator of The Shadow. And one famous story of his, “Imprisoned with the Pharaohs”, was actually ghost written by Lovecraft! ISFDB lists another piece of genre fiction for him, “The Spirit Fakers of Hermannstad”. And IMDB notes that he appeared in The Master Mystery which decidedly genre with robots and death rays. (Died 1926.)
  • Born March 24, 1930 Steve McQueen. Another one who died far too young. He got his big break by being the lead, Steve Andrews, in The Blob. Setting aside the two different roles on Alfred Hitchcock Presents which are at least genre adjacent, The Blob is his only genre appearance in his brief life. He died of a damn heart attack. (Died 1980.)
  • Born March 24, 1946 Gary K. Wolfe, 76. Monthly reviewer for Locus for twenty-seven years now and yes I enjoy his column a lot. His brief marriage to Ellen R. Weil ended with her tragic early death. They co-wrote Harlan Ellison: The Edge of Forever. Old Earth Books has reprinted many of his reviews done between 1992 and 2006 in  Soundings: Reviews 1992-1996. He’s also written several critical looks at the genre, Critical Terms for Science Fiction and Fantasy and The Known and the Unknown: The Iconography of Science Fiction. The Coode Street Podcast was nominated seven times before winning a Hugo at DicCon III; his Bearings: Reviews 1997-2001 was nominated for Best Related Work at Renovation; and Soundings: Reviews 1992-1996 was nominated for the same at L.A. Con IV. Very impressive indeed.
  • Born March 24, 1946 — Andrew I. Porter, 76. Editor, publisher, fan. He discovered fandom in 1960 and before the end of the year his first news-related column about upcoming paperbacks was appearing in James V. Taurasi’s Science Fiction Times. Porter has been nominated for the Hugo 26 times in the fanzine and semiprozine categories. His fanzine Algol: The Magazine About Science Fiction, later renamed Starship, won a Hugo for Best Fanzine in 1974, in a tie with Richard E. Geis, who was then doing The Alien Critic. (OGH accepted that Hugo on behalf of Geis. Sorry!Porter won two more Hugos with Science Fiction Chronicle, the newzine he began publishing monthly in May 1980, and twenty years later sold to DNA Publications.  He has won the Big Heart Award, and was Fan Guest of Honor at the 1990 Worldcon. And with John Bangsund, he was responsible for Australia hosting its first Worldcon. (OGH)
  • Born March 24, 1949 Tabitha King, 73. Wife of Stephen, mother of that writing brood. I met her but once on the lot of the original Pet Sematary a very long time ago. ISFDB to my surprise lists only two novels she’s written solely by herself, Small World and Wolves at the Door, and one with Michael McDowell, Candles Burning. None of her books are with her husband which surprises me. 

(12) COMICS SECTION.

  • From Idiot of the East:

(13) STORYBUNDLES. Learn how the sausage is made: “THE INDIE FILES: A Guide to SFWA StoryBundles” at the SFWA Blog.

… We seek a well-rounded collection that includes a variety of subgenres and a diversity of authors, settings, and characters. We also look for unique takes on our theme, which means you should never self-reject if you think your book only kind-of fits! 

Conversely, because readers do not select each book individually in a bundle, we avoid books that preach a strong message or contain content that many readers may find disturbing. Those books have a place! But we prefer not to roll them into our bundles….

(14) EVEN-MORE-COLOSSAL CAVE, COMING SOON(ISH). [Item by Daniel Dern.] “Sierra Founders Ken And Roberta Williams Are Remaking 1976’s Colossal Cave Adventure” reports HotHardware. Alternate item title, perhaps: “I’d Love To Play A New Version Of That Game,” said Dern adventurously.

“Roberta and Ken Williams were retired for 25 years, mostly living in Mexico, playing golf, and exploring the world on their boat. In 2020 when the Covid pandemic struck, Ken and Roberta were locked down like everyone. Ken was bored and Roberta suggested he write a book about Sierra. The process of writing the book brought back long forgotten memories resulting in Ken deciding to learn Unity and deciding to make a game,” a related FAQ explains.

They didn’t have any interesting in starting another company, and instead were “just looking for something fun to build.” Roberta had the idea to pay homage to the game that inspired Sierra and “changed our lives.”

And so here we are. Colossal Cave 3D Adventure is being built with Unity. It promises a fully immersive 3D experience with over 143 locations to explore, and will release to the Quest 2, PC, and Mac. And true to old school form, there will be a boxed version (with a USB stick in the box), though those details are still being hammered out.

You will be in a 3D maze of twisty passages! A hollow voice is unlikely to cry out, “God stalk!” 🙂 (quips Dern).

(15) INITIAL THOUGHTS. On a different subject, Daniel Dern suggested a too-long Scroll title that is too entertaining to actually discard, so here it is.

If Hans Solo and Chewie started shipping while doing the Kessel Run, we could have T-shirts that were NSFW NFT of a WTF FTL WFH? Nah, NFW.

(16) TAKING THE HYDE OFF ‘EM. “Jekyll & Hyde files for bankruptcy with $1.5M owed in rent” while Crain’s New York Business is watching the courthouse.

Actors put on shows during dinner and each floor of the restaurant focuses on a different aspect of a fictional, 1930s British explorers club, from science fiction to the Gothic horror of its namesake characters, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

Andrew Porter says, “They used to have a branch in the 50s on 6th Avenue, where I went during a Nebula or Stoker weekend, with Stephen Jones and others, A Long Time Ago…”

(17) ERASURE. “Hit Arnold Schwarzenegger Movie Reboot Debuts First Trailer” and Comicbook.com walks us through it.

… This new chapter of the Eraser series trades Schwarzenegger’s John Kruger character for a different U.S. Marshal named Mason Pollard who “specializes in engineering the fake deaths of witnesses that need to leave no trace of their existence.” As you can see in the trailer, this film once again goes with the premise of the Eraser’s mission being compromised in a serious way, forcing him to go on the run with a key witness that’s in his care….

(18) SPACE-TIME. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] The cover on this week’s edition of Nature has an SFnal riff. The cover image shows a view of the Milky Way captured at Nambung National Park in Western Australia. To understand how the Galaxy formed requires precision age dating of the stars that it contains. In this week’s issue, Maosheng Xiang and Hans-Walter Rix of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg, Germany, present an analysis of the birth dates for nearly 250,000 stars in their subgiant evolutionary phase, when they can serve as precise stellar clocks. The researchers found that the individual ages of the stars ranged from about 1.5 billion to more than 13 billion years old. Tripling the age-dating precision for such a large stellar sample allowed the researchers to infer the sequence of events that initiated our Galaxy’s formation. Using this information, Xiang and Rix were able to determine that the oldest part of our Galaxy’s disk had already begun to form about 13 billion years ago, just 800 million years after the Big Bang, and that the formation of the inner Galactic halo was completed some 2 billion years later.

(19) HE’S BACK. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Ryan Reynolds and Mark Ruffalo team up with a Valued Senior Actor about daylight savings time as they plug The Adam Project.

(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Batman Returns Pitch Meeting,” Ryan George explains that in this movie Oswald Cobblepot became The Penguin because his parents threw him out the window into a river but penguins saved him,  Villain Max Schreck thre Selina Kyle out of a window but cats licked her a lot so she became Catwoman.  The producer explains he was personally saved by pigeons but since this si a family blog we won’t discuss what happened to him!

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

Pixel Scroll 3/8/22 I Think There Is A World Market For About Five Pixel Scrolls

(1) DONATE FOR A CHANCE AT A TIARA. Renowned artist Sara Felix says, “I am entering people to win this week’s Tiara Tuesday if they donate to a charity.” The full announcement from her Facebook page is below. Sara explains that while her Facebook shows the event has closed, “if someone donates and lets me know I will enter them in the giveaway.” Email: sillysarasue@gmail.com. Here is the text:

Happy tiara Tuesday y’all!

A friend asked me to make a blue and yellow tiara as support for the Ukrainian people. Seeing all the gorgeous flower crowns that are a cultural tradition I thought marrying the tiara, the blue and yellow, and the flowers would be a fitting tribute.

I would like to auction the tiara and donate the money to Happy Kids Poland who supports orphaned children and kids with disabilities, I will pick a name from the donations. (Thanks Mariya for the suggestions!) Any amount is fine!

From their donation page:

“Together, we collect money for children from orphanages who have come and will be coming to Poland. The Foundation will also try to evacuate children who spent their last nights in the basement and Kiev. The evacuation of orphans from orphanages, foster families and other forms of foster care from Ukraine to Poland…To this day, the need for evacuation and safe admission of children has been declared to us by the guardians of 900 Ukrainian orphans from Lviv, Odessa, Chrust, Kherson and other cities. The numbers keep growing.”

If you don’t want to go through Facebook let me know, their website also takes paypal as well. (https://www.happykids.org.pl/aid-for-children-from…/...)  (Link on the main page: https://www.happykids.org.pl)

(2) CAROL PINCHEFSKY GETS (IN) WIRED. [Item by Daniel Dern.] Carol Pinchefsky isn’t just getting coverage for her new book, Turn Your Fandom Into Cash – A Geeky Guide to Turn Your Passion Into a Business (or at least a Side Hustle) here at File 770 (“Interview with Carol Pinchefsky”).

She’s also getting traction in WIRED, with a full-episode one-hour interview on WIRED’s weekly podcast Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy, episode #504, “Carol Pinchefsky Interview”, and a WIRED.com article, “It’s Not Easy Running a Geeky Business”, summarizing and linking to the podcast.

Carol notes: “I know David Barr Kirtley and have been on his show three other times. But this was the first time I’ve had an episode dedicated to myself.”

Could a nomination for Best Related Work Hugo be, if not next, soon?

(3) FREE EDITORS PANEL PART OF SLF MEMBERSHIP DRIVE. As part of the Speculative Literature Foundation’s Genesis Membership Drive they are hosting free virtual panels every week for the month of March.

This Saturday’s panel will be What do Editors Want? — March 12, 2:00–3:00 p.m. Central. RSVP here.

A panel of short fiction editors talk about what they’re looking for in stories right now — and what to avoid! What common mistakes do writers make? What makes a story stand out from the slushpile?

Panelists: Award-winning editors Lynne Marie Thomas, editor-in-chief of Uncanny Magazine, and Neil Clarke, editor-in-chief of Clarkesworld Magazine. Moderated by Mary Anne Mohanraj, SLF Director.

(4) SCANNING THE BALLOT. They were just announced six hours ago but Cora Buhlert already has her analysis of the Nebula finalists up. Quick work! “Some Comments on the 2021 Nebula Finalists”. A brief quote —

…A Desolation Called Peace by Arkady Martine is a sequel to the 2020 Hugo winner A Memory Called Empire and probably the most obvious finalist in this category. It’s also a great book.

Finally, Plague Birds by Jason Sanford is another very pleasant surprise on this ballot, since it got less attention than the other novels, probably due to being published by a small press, Apex Books. I’m also really happy for Jason, who’s one of the hardest working people in SFF. Plague Birds is a great novel as well, which hits a lot of my personal buttons….

(5) FLA IN THE OINTMENT. On the Orlando in 2023 NASFiC Bid Facebook page, Adam Beaton works to turn the current criticism of Chengdu into a political asset.

So, we’ve been seeing the recent chatter about letters and petitions about Chengdu WorldCon 2023, and here are our thoughts:

There isn’t an actual mechanism to take away the Worldcon based on the actions of what that committee’s government chooses to do or even not do. We can say, though, that the power of boycotting has always been a way for many diverse voices to be seen and heard, from the Cogadh na Talún in Ireland to the Swadeshi Movement in India. Such actions can and should always be considered by any of the members of WSFS.

The NASFiC can never be the Worldcon, and no one can promise you that. What we can promise you, however, is our deep commitment to running for you the best alternative to the Worldcon we can–a convention that celebrates the diversity and inclusivity that empowers us all as fans and commits our spirit to “keep moving forward,” as Walt Disney once said.

It’s also vital for us to recognize that some in the community have strong feelings about our own government here in Florida and perhaps even the American South at large. It would be hypocritical to not point that out in a statement like this, and we see and hear all of your opinions and feelings regarding this topic.

The WSFS community is a culture of creativity. We’ve never been afraid to express ourselves through any medium, and in the end, it’s the best advice we can give you all regarding this topic.

Be like Walt. Keep moving forward.

(6) ON GOTHAMER WINGS. Abigail Nussbaum assesses “The Batman” at Asking the Wrong Questions.

…The guiding principle was clearly “The Dark Knight, but more so”. The film is structured more as a crime story than a superhero story, with a strong presence for the Gotham police department, an emphasis on organized crime and institutional corruption, and a deranged villain—Paul Dano as the Riddler—who is obsessed with exposing the seedy underbelly of the supposedly respectable Gotham leadership. This is all well-executed as far as it goes, and to his credit, Reeves improves on the original where it was most obviously lacking. The action scenes are coherent and gripping, and the visuals—though eventually the brown and grey color palette becomes quite tedious—are rich and velvety. But where Nolan’s Batman movies were, for better and worse, putting their own stamp on the material, Reeves’s just feels like it’s turning up the dial on someone else’s work…. 

(7) BAT CAVING. In contrast, the Washington Post’s David Betancourt says that The Batman is, in his view, the best DC superhero movie since The Dark Knight because it isn’t part of the DC Extended Universe. “’The Batman’ with Robert Pattinson shows that it’s best when he works alone”.

…Batman is a superhero who looks cool next to other heroes on screen but doesn’t need them for relevancy.  Batman doesn’t need a co-star; he’s the star.  He doesn’t need a cavalry; he is the cavalry. This Caped crusader is the one card in DC’s hand that can beat anything Marvel can throw at them….

(8) EXPANDED POSSIBILITIES. Gareth L. Powell confesses “What I Owe to Bounty Hunter Leia”.

… But one of the key things that influenced me — and I only realised this recently — was the moment at the beginning of Return of the Jedi when Boushh the mysterious bounty hunter pulls off his mask to reveal… He was Leia all the time!

As a youngster, this seemed revolutionary. I thought it was so badass. I’d consumed quite a few 1960s and 1970s sci-fi movies and TV shows by that point, and those tended to feature scantily-clad love interests with poor survival skills, who regularly needed the hero to come and bail them out of trouble. But here, the princess got tooled-up and went to rescue her man. And she even managed to stare down Jabba the Hutt with a thermo detonator!…

(9) FOWLER PROFILE. The Guardian interviews Karen Joy Fowler about her non-sff book Booth, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t any genre gems: “Karen Joy Fowler: ‘I’m a bossy writer; I’m not going to not tell you’”

Booth is dedicated, among others, to the science fiction and fantasy writer Ursula K Le Guin.
She’s enormously important to me. I was living in Davis, California when I’d just begun to publish fiction, and the University of Davis invited her to do some events. I got a call: this lunch was being arranged, and she’d asked that I be included. I’d been reading her since college and was completely in awe – the Booker was great, but I don’t think anything matches the heady success of learning that Ursula K Le Guin wanted to meet me! We became friends and I wrote a couple of introductions to her books. One of them I wrote before she died, the other I wrote after. In the one I wrote before, I called her a genius and she made me take the word out; she said it made her feel squirmy. I did as she asked, but kind of put it back after she died, knowing she would not want me to. She’s a truly amazing voice; there cannot be another writer who has imagined more worlds in more interesting ways….

(10) GOODWIN OBIT. Laurel Goodwin, last surviving member of the first Star Trek pilot “The Cage”, has died at the age of 79 reports Deadline.

Laurel Goodwin, an actor who made her movie debut at age 19 opposite Elvis Presley in the 1962 feature Girls! Girls! Girls! and four years later played a crew member in the original, failed Star Trek pilot starring Jeffery Hunter, died February 25. She was 79.

… it was a performance in an episode that never made it to air for which she earned an enduring cult following: She played Yeoman J.M. Colt in “The Cage,” the unaired 1965 pilot for Star Trek that starred Hunter as Captain Christopher Pike. The pilot was rejected by NBC, though some scenes were recycled for a 1966 two-part episode (“The Menagerie”) after William Shatner had replaced Hunter as the Enterprise captain. (“The Cage” subsequently was released in various home entertainment formats.)

(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1968 [Item by Cat Eldridge] McCoy: “Fantastic machine, the M-5. No off switch.”

Fifty-four years ago this evening on NBC, Star Trek’s “The Ultimate Computer“ first aired. It was the twenty-fourth episode of the second season, and one of six Trek teleplays written by D C Fontana — the other five being “Catspaw”, “Tomorrow is Yesterday”, “Journey to Babel”, “Friday’s Child” and “By Any Other Name”. “Catspaw” was originally uncredited to her but she did the final teleplay based on what Robert Bloch wrote though it is said Roddenberry did further revisions.

The story is by Laurence N. Wolfe. This is his sole writing credit. Wolfe was a mathematician, who wrote the original story out of his fascination with computers. Later on Wolfe would give his original draft to Bradbury to pass on to Roddenberry. 

It was produced by John Meredyth Lucas who was involved with the series for its entire run in all aspects. He wrote three episodes (“The Changeling“, “Patterns of Force” and “Elaan of Troyius”). 

“The Ultimate Computer“ was also considered particularly important in the casting of an African American, William Marshall, as the inventor of the M-5 as well as the duotronic circuit which was the basis of all Star Fleet computer systems.

Reception for this episode is excellent. Michelle Erica Green said of it that, “Star Trek has never done a better ‘bottle show’ – an episode filmed entirely on standing sets, which usually means that all of the action is located on the ship itself.”  

And Jamahl Epsicokhan says “A wonderfully acerbic debate between Spock and McCoy about the role of computers is also well conceived, ending in Spock’s well-put notion to Kirk, “…but I have no desire to serve under them.” Following the M-5’s initial success, the scene where another captain calls Kirk “Captain Dunsel” is the episode’s best-played and simultaneously funny and painful moment. (In a word, ouch.)” 

Note the remastered episode recreates the entire battle between the Enterprise and the other Star Fleet ships with new ships. 

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 8, 1921 Alan Hale Jr. The Skipper on Gilligan’s Island which y’all decided was genre, and he did show up in such films as Captain Kidd and the Slave Girl and The Fifth Musketeer. Series wise, I see he was on The Wild Wild West and Fantasy Island. He was also in the cast of The Giant Spider Invasion film which is most decidedly SF if of a pulpish variety and got the Mystery Science Theater 3000 treatment. (Died 1990.)
  • Born March 8, 1922 John Burke. He was active in Fandom in the Thirties, with work in The FantastThe Futurian and The Satellite. He went pro by the late Thirties in a number of pulp zines.  If you read nothing else by him, I recommend his late in life series The Adventures of Dr. Caspian and Bronwen, well-crafted horror. Ash-Tree Press collected much of his superb short fiction in We’ve Been Waiting for You And Other Tales of Unease. (Died 2011.)
  • Born March 8, 1931 Paddi Edwards. She’s here for two very different roles. First is for being the voice of Gozer in the Ghostbusters film. Second is having the lead role of Anya on “The Dauphin” of The Next Generation. The casting agents at Disney liked her so she had the role of Flotsam & Jetsam in The Little Mermaid franchise.
  • Born March 8, 1950 Peter McCauley, 72. I remember him best from the most excellent Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World series where he played Professor George Challenger. He also showed as Mr. Spilett on Mysterious Island, another series shot in New Zealand and based off Jules Verne’s novel L’Île mystérieuse. Continuing the Verne riff, he was Admiral McCutcheon in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, a Nineties TV version of the novel. 
  • Born March 8, 1970 Jed Rees, 52, Another Galaxy Quest performer, he played Teb, a Thermian. His most recent major genre outing was on Deadpool as Jared / Agent Smith / The Recruiter. He’s had one-offs in Ghost WhispererThe Crow: Stairway to HeavenThe NetX-Files,Outer Limits,The Sentinel and Sliders.
  • Born March 8, 1976 Freddie Prinze Jr., 46. I’m fairly sure his first genre role was in Wing Commander as Lt. Christopher Blair followed by the animated Mass Effect: Paragon Lost in which he voiced Lieutenant James Vega. Speaking of animated endeavors, I’ve got him in Kim Possible: A Sitch In Time voicing Future Jim / Future Tim followed by being in all in all four seasons of the animated Star Wars Rebels as Kanan Jarrus. And that’s a series which I highly recommend as it may well be the best Star Wars fiction ever done. 

(13) TOK SHOW. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times behind a paywall, Nilanjana Roy discusses #BookTok, a branch of TikTok where readers post book reviews.

I quickly added Rebecca Roanhorse’s Between Earth And Sky fantasy series, inspired by the civilisations of pre-Columbian America, and Matt Haig’s The Midnight Library to my book-buying list. I was soon wondering if I should be reading more #enemiestolovers romance, and found myself developing an unhealthy fascination with the melodramatic thrill of ‘crying reader’ videos.  (BookTokers believe in sharing their motions, throwing books they don’t like across a room, screaming or lipsyncing to music,)…

…This brief immersion to #BookTok has inspired me to dust off my grandmother’s Mills & Boons, and allowed me to buy new romance novels without snobbish guilt.  BookTokers might be much younger than my generation, but they’ve built a place where we can all be #booknerds together.

(14) HAPPIER TIMES.  2006 KYIV EUROCON. [By SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Happier times. Opening ceremony at the 2006 Eurocon, Kyiv. Jim Walker (who has reviewed a number of Eurocons for SF2 Concatenation) behind empty seat. Front bottom left: Ian Watson and Jonathan Cowie looking on.

If memory serves, picture by Roberto Quaglia.

Ditto if memory serves Harry Harrison (western GoH — who Eurocon liaised with SF2 Concatenation to get him there) was behind Roberto on the stage.

Also, this was early on, the hall was full for the actual opening ceremony and a government minister said a few words, there was the singing of the national anthem and the GoHs were introduced.

(15) TALKIN’ ABOUT MY INVESTIGATION. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] A former FBI agent turned crime novelist says that FBI agents could get new ideas if they read more horror novels. “What if the FBI Required Recruits to Read Paranormal Crime Thrillers?” at CrimeReads.

Over twelve intense weeks at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia, I learned how to analyze crime scene evidence, elicit information from informants, and detect a liar from a hundred yards away. As a brand new intelligence analyst, however, my training curriculum (regrettably) did not include reading about immortal demons, parallel universes, or reincarnation. Because that would’ve been ridiculous. A complete waste of time. Right?

Well, maybe not.

Paranormal crime thrillers, where these fantastical concepts thrive, don’t obey the neat and tidy rules of the universe. And in my experience at the Bureau, neither do the cleverest of criminals or sneakiest of enemy spies….

(16) CLEARING THE OLD TUBES. NPR says “NASA is opening a vacuum-sealed sample it took from the moon 50 years ago”. The reason for the wait is mentioned in the article.

Fifty years ago, astronauts on one of NASA’s Apollo missions hammered a pair of tubes 14 inches long into the surface of the moon. Once the tubes were filled with rocks and soil, the astronauts — Eugene Cernan and Harrison “Jack” Schmitt — vacuum-sealed one of the tubes, while the other was put in a normal, unsealed container. Both were brought back to Earth.

Now, scientists at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston are preparing to carefully open that first tube, which has remained tightly sealed all these years since that 1972 Apollo 17 mission — the last time humans set foot on the moon….

Because the sample being opened now has been sealed, it may contain something in addition to rocks and soil: gas. The tube could contain substances known as volatiles, which evaporate at normal temperatures, such as water ice and carbon dioxide. The materials at the bottom of the tube were extremely cold at the time they were collected.

The amount of these gases in the sample is expected to be very low, so scientists are using a special device called a manifold, designed by a team at Washington University in St. Louis, to extract and collect the gas.

Another tool was developed at the European Space Agency (ESA) to pierce the sample and capture the gases as they escape. Scientists there have called that tool the “Apollo can opener.”

(17) WHEN GRAVITY FAILS. Netflix released this trailer for a new anime movie which begins streaming on April 28.

In a Tokyo where gravity has broken, a boy and a girl are drawn to each other… The story is set in Tokyo, after bubbles that broke the laws of gravity rained down upon the world. Cut off from the outside world, Tokyo has become a playground for a group of young people who have lost their families, acting as a battlefield for parkour team battles as they leap from building to building. Hibiki, a young ace known for his dangerous play style, makes a reckless move one day and plummets into the gravity-bending sea. His life is saved by Uta, a girl with mysterious powers. The pair then hear a unique sound audible only to them. Why did Uta appear before Hibiki? Their encounter leads to a revelation that will change the world.

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Trailers:  Scream (2022),” the Screen Junkies, in a spoiler-filled episode, say that the new Scream is, like most movies these days, “A self-referential circle jerk of fan service,” and is “the best Scream since the first one, because it basically is the first one.”  But the narrator is interrupted by Scream’s terifying killer Ghostface!  Will the narrator survive?  “You can’t kill off my friends,” he says, “because I don’t have any friends!”

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Daniel Dern, Will R., Chris Barkley, Rob Thornton, 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 Soon Lee.]

Pixel Scroll 2/26/22 Comments Have Spoken, Like The First Filing; Pixels Have Woken, Like The First Scroll

(1) HOW THE WEB MAKES CRIMINALS OF US ALL. The Guardian tells about the revamped Tolkien Estate website in “Unseen JRR Tolkien paintings, photographs and video clips released”. (Andrew Porter reminds us that the artwork in the article is not new.)

Unseen photographs and paintings of JRR Tolkien, the author of The Lord of the Rings fantasy books, have been released by the writer’s estate, along with draft manuscripts and letters.

Its website has been relaunched with new material, including sections on Tolkien’s calligraphy and a timeline of his life.

Audio recordings and video clips featuring both Tolkien, who died in 1973, and his son Christopher, who died in 2020, are among the new material.

The relaunch date of 26 February is significant in Tolkien lore because 26 February 3019 was the date in the Third Age when the Fellowship of the Ring was broken at Amon Hen and Frodo and Sam set out on their lonely and terrifying journey to Mordor.

Perusing the site’s “Frequently Asked Questions and Links” I discovered this jarring information:

Can I publish a Tolkien Fanzine?

The name TOLKIEN is a registered trademark and may not be used without permission. Unfortunately permission cannot be given for publications which use the name TOLKIEN or the Tolkien Estate’s Copyright Materials.

Are a lot of you faneds who don’t spell it T*****n hearing from lawyers?

(2) THEY’VE GOT THE DROP ON US. “Russia’s space chief responds to new sanctions by suggesting that the ISS would no longer be prevented from crashing into the US or Europe” – originally reported by Business Insider.

According to CNN, Biden further stated that the sanctions “will degrade (Russia’s) aerospace industry, including their space program.”… 

In response, Rogozin said on Twitter: “If you block cooperation with us, who will save the ISS from an uncontrolled deorbit and fall into the United States or Europe?” 

He added: There is also the option of dropping a 500-ton structure to India and China. Do you want to threaten them with such a prospect? The ISS does not fly over Russia, so all the risks are yours. Are you ready for them?” 

Rogozin also mentioned that the ISS’s location and orbit in space are controlled by “Russian Progress MS cargo ships.” 

NASA did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment made outside of normal working hours.

In a statement to Euronews, however, NASA said that it “continues working with Roscosmos and our other international partners in Canada, Europe, and Japan to maintain safe and continuous ISS operations.”

It added: “The new export control measures will continue to allow US-Russia civil space cooperation.”

(3) PURLOINED LETTER TECHNIQUE. Radio Times’ Sab Astley says this is the place to look for clues to Doctor Who’s next phase: “Doctor Who Russell T Davies teases from his book on writing”.

…Now, with Davies’ surprise return to Doctor Who looming, everyone is searching for potential clues as to RTD’s approach to his second run – and unusually, the acclaimed screenwriter might have already given us a pretty good idea of what he’s planning thanks to a little book called The Writer’s Tale.

The Writer’s Tale is a tome of correspondence between Davies and Doctor Who Magazine contributor Benjamin Cook, taking place over the pre-production of season 4 right up to the final shots of Tennant’s last special between 2007 and 2009…

The Next Doctor

14th Doctor speculation is currently at an all-time high, with names like Michael Sheen, Michaela Coel, T’Nia Miller and Olly Alexander mentioned. However, one name that hasn’t arisen, which might just be a strong contender to bet on: Russell Tovey.

Davies makes no secret of his love for Tovey, and in a discussion over potential 11th Doctor castings, RTD states that Tovey is “amazing – I think I’d make him the eleventh Doctor”. Since then Tovey has starred in Davies’ Years & Years, and currently all of his upcoming projects are in post-production – making it the perfect time for RTD to nab Tovey if he so wishes.

Alternatively, if we look at Davies’ choice of actors in the years since The Writer’s Tale, the choice becomes clear: Lydia West. She’s clearly a favourite of RTD’s, starring in both Years & Years and It’s A Sin, and could follow in Jodie Whittaker’s footsteps as a female Doctor (and the first ‘lead’ Doctor to be played by a Black actor, though Jo Martin’s Fugitive Doctor technically got there first).

Altogether, based on RTD’s creative patterns and the insight of The Writer’s Tale it seems Russell Tovey or Lydia West are strong options for the 14th Doctor. However, there is a third possibility – the return of David Tennant…..

(4) FUTURE TENSE. “Good Job, Robin”, JoeAnn Hart’s short story about love, earth, and eating crickets, is this month’s installment of Future Tense Fiction, a series from Future Tense and Arizona State University’s Center for Science and the Imagination published on Slate.

Ahimsa waves an elbow at me, keeping her hands firmly cupped. “Isaura! Look!” She shouts to be heard over my earplugs, and I panic thinking she’s woozy again. But no, she only wants to show me something. I lean across the sorting table to look, and with a smile she opens her tawny hands like a flower, just enough so I can peek inside. Two stamens wiggle in the darkness.

Not stamens. Antennae. Out come the earplugs. “It’s just a cricket, Ahimsa. One of a billion crickets under this dome, every one of them chirping like an insect possessed.”…

Christy Spackman, an expert on the future of food, responds to JoeAnn Hart’s story in “Crickets could be the food solution that saves us all.”

…The first time I seriously considered crickets as the food of the future was in late 2015 during a presentation by undergraduates. Their policy proposal outlining how the adoption of insect protein in the Los Angeles Area could help insulate the region from some of the impacts of climate-change included a tasting of a recent-to-market, paleo-friendly, cricket-based protein bar. As I sunk my teeth into the slightly gummy, peanut-buttery bite being passed around the classroom, my mind flashed between the grim food futures presented in science fiction novels and the much smaller collection of hopeful fiction portrayals of delicious future feasts. What is it about our contemporary anxieties that makes it so easy to imagine such dystopic food futures?…

(5) HEAPS OF FUN. The New York Times’ A.O. Scott considers how successive American generations have different ways of arriving at the same destination — mortality: “Shelf Life: Our Collections and the Passage of Time”.

…The things you loved when you were young will never be able to make you young again. The reluctant acceptance of this fact is the source of nostalgia, a disorder that afflicts every modern generation in its own special way. Members of Generation X grew up under the heavy, sanctimonious shadow of the baby boom’s long adolescence, among crates of LPs and shelves of paperbacks to remind us of what we had missed. Just as baby boomers’ rebellion against their Depression- and war-formed parents defined their styles and poses, so did our impatience with the boomers set ours in motion. But I’m not talking so much about a grand narrative of history as about what Aksel might call the useless stuff — the objects and gadgets that form the infrastructure of memory….

Every cohort has these. A CD in a plastic jewel box is not intrinsically more poetic than a vinyl LP in a cardboard sleeve. On the internet and in television shows like “PEN15,” a robust millennial nostalgia fetishizes AOL chat rooms, Dance Dance Revolution, Tamagotchis and other things that I was already too old for the first time around. Gen Z will surely have its turn before long, even if its characteristic cultural pursuits don’t seem to be manifested in physical objects….

(6) SLF GRANT NEWS. The Speculative Literature Foundation has announced the final two winners of the SLF Convention Support Grants.

Over the course of the year we gave out $10,000, in grants of $500 – $1000 each, to science fiction and fantasy conventions.

These grants are intended to support conventions both in developing their online presences (through the purchase of tech, training costs, hosting costs, etc.) and making in-person gathering safer once it’s appropriate. Read on for more information about how each convention will use the funding.

WisCon is a feminist science fiction and fantasy convention held annually in Madison, Wisconsin. Founded in 1976 as the world’s first feminist speculative fiction convention, it has since grown into a robust and dedicated community of fans, artists, and scholars. The convention is hosted by the Society for the Furtherance and Study of Fantasy and Science Fiction a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization in Madison, Wisconsin, which aims to create a safe and inclusive environment for everyone.

WisCon will use the grant funds to cover the costs of equipment and equipment rental to make their con more accessible.

The Outer Dark Symposium on the Greater Weird is a progressive speculative fiction conference that focuses on contemporary Weird fiction. The con actively seeks to create spaces that allow for the kinds of conversations and connections that chart the future of boundary-breaking speculative fiction, as well as being an inclusive, safe and welcoming place for women, LBGTQ+, and writers of color. To meet this mission, they consider each dimension of access (fiscal, disability, equity, etc) with care to inform every decision they make, from where programming is accessed to how it’s structured.

A key focus for their 2022 convention is making sure they have easily accessible virtual spaces, as well as safe future events during the pandemic, which includes travel, catering, and technology costs that they anticipate will increase significantly this year.

(7) GAIMAN ADAPTED. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Behind a paywall in the Financial Times, Nilanjana Roy reviews Chivalry, a graphic novel written by Neil Gaiman and drawn by Colleen Doran and based on a short story from Gaiman’s collection Smoke And Mirrors.

[Colleen Doran’s] stunning artwork turns Arthur’s knight into the kind of dashing, courtly hero who is obliged to seduce a maiden.  Doran’s illustrations, drawing from a soft palette of blues, pinks, and greens that flare unto sudden glorious bursts of crimson and gold at need, are what will make Chivalry a perennial Christmas gift.  Famous Authors are often at risk of having their old work briskly repackaged by clever marketing departments but Doran, a Gaiman fan since her youth has, for complicated rights reasons, waited over two decades to work on this short story…

,,,The question as to whether a single short story taken from a far more varied fantasy collection is satisfying as a standalone graphic novel remains.  Certainly,Gaiman and Doran’s book feels too slight on its own to measure up to the best of Gaiman’s output.  Still, Chivalry reminds you that, some days, all you need is to believe in impossible quests.

(8) UNDERSTANDING OCTAVIA BUTLER. “Black History Month: Octavia Butler’s sci-fi dystopia still relevant”USA Today profiles the author.

…Butler rose to prominence in the traditionally white bastion of science fiction. She was the first to write about prominent Black characters in science fiction settings, using dystopias, time travel and other tropes. 

Science-fiction author Nisi Shawl recalls meeting the “Kindred” author in 1999 during a convention in Seattle when she was tasked with writing a profile on Butler. The two became acquainted and a friendship later blossomed in 2002. 

“One thing that she really instilled in me was the idea that you should write about things that bring up strong emotions in you, things that you fear, things that you loathe, things that you cherish, but things that you are passionate about in one way or another,” Shawl tells USA TODAY, adding that Butler inspired her to write the short story “Momi Watu.” …

(9) MEMORY LANE.

2007 [Item by Cat Eldridge] Barbara Hambly, one of my favorite writers of horror, has won two Lord Ruthven Awards (1996 and 2007) given by the Lord Ruthven Assembly, a group of scholars specializing in vampire literature who are affiliated with the International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts. 

Those Who Hunt in The Night, the first in the excellent John Asher series, won the Locus Award for Best Horror Novel.

I’m also very impressed of her two novelizations done for one of my favorite tv series, Beauty and the Beast and and Beauty and the Beast: Song of Orpheus as it’s hard to write material off those series that’s actually worth reading.  She wrote three Trek novels and several Star Wars too but I’ve not read them. 

And yes, there’s lots about her writing career I’ve not included here so feel free to tell me what you think I should have mentioned. 

Barbara Hambly

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born February 26, 1908 Tex Avery. An animator, cartoonist, director and voice actor beyond compare. Without him, Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Elmer Fudd and Porky Pig would not have existed. Avery’s influence can be seen in Animaniacs and Who Framed Roger Rabbit. (Died 1980.)
  • Born February 26, 1918 Theodore Sturgeon. Damn, I hadn’t realized that he’d only written six genre novels! More Than Human is brilliant and I assumed that he’d written a lot more long form fiction but it was short form where he excelled with more than two hundred such stories. I did read over the years a number of his reviews — they were quite good. (Died 1985.)
  • Born February 26, 1945 Marta Kristen, 77. Kristen is best known for her role as Judy Robinson, one of Professor John and Maureen Robinson’s daughters, in  the original Lost in Space. And yes, I watched the entire series. Good stuff it was. She has a cameo in the Lost in Space film as Reporter Number One. None of her other genre credits are really that interesting, just the standard stuff you’d expect such as an appearance on The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and Alfred Hitchcock Presents.
  • Born February 26, 1948 Sharyn McCrumb, 74. ISFDB lists all of her Ballad novels as genre but that’s a wee bit deceptive as how genre-strong they are depends upon the novel. Oh, Nora Bonesteel, she who sees Death, is in every novel but only some novels such as the Ghost Riders explicitly contain fantasy elements.  If you like mysteries, all of them are highly recommended.  Now the Jay Omega novels, Bimbos of the Death Sun and Zombies of the Gene Pool are genre, are great fun and well worth reading. They are in print and available from the usual suspects which is interesting as I know she took them out of print for awhile. 
  • Born February 26, 1957 John Jude Palencar, 65. Illustrator whose artwork graces over a hundred genre covers. In my personal collection, he’s on the covers of de lint’s The Onion Girl and Forests of the Heart (one of my top ten novels of SFF), Priest’s Four & Twenty Blackbirds and Le Guin’s Tehanu: The Last Book of EarthseaOrigins: The Art of John Jude Palencar is a perfect look at his work and marvelous eye candy as well.
  • Born February 26, 1958 Karen Berger, 64. She created the Vertigo imprint at DC,  and served as the line’s Executive Editor for a decade. Some of my favorite works there are Fables, Hellblazer, Preacher, 100 Bullets and V for Vendetta. She currently runs Berger Books, an imprint of Dark Horse Comics.
  • Born February 26, 1965 Liz Williams, 57. For my money, her best writing by far is her Detective Inspector Chen series about the futuristic city Singapore Three, its favorite paranormal police officer Chen and his squabbles with an actual Chinese-derived Heaven and Hell. I’ve read most of them and recommend them highly. I’m curious to see what else y’all have read of her and suggest that I read.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) 45TH BIRTHDAY ISSUE OF 2000 AD. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] This week the 45th birthday issue of 2000 AD is out. It includes a zarjaz strip of the Command Module droids travelling through the thrillverse collecting 2000 AD characters to help Tharg compose a birthday hit single. It also features the start of a new Judge Dredd story that teases that the Judges are trying to silence someone who claims to have a secret concerning the truth of Judge Dredd!

Splundig!

(13) I SEE BY YOUR OUTFIT THAT YOU ARE A COWBOY. Kevin Standlee says Westercon 74 sent out the following announcement to its members today regarding COVID-19. The short version:

Vaccination required

Masks required

For the long version, click here – “COVID-19 Health and Safety Policy”.

As a reminder, the 2022 Westercon will be held in Tonopah, Nevada from July 1-4.

(14) PURINA BAT CHOW. “Doorbells, chicken and special edition biscuits: why are The Batman’s tie-ins such a joker?” asks the Guardian. “Someone on the merchandising team is working overtime to turn the serious new Robert Pattinson movie into Sonic the Hedgehog.”

…Then there is all the food. The Oreos we have covered; they have a picture of Batman’s face on them, because we all know that nothing is more delicious than wolfing down an effigy of agonising mental torment. Papa John’s is also in on the act. Its pizzas currently come in commemorative The Batman boxes (because who doesn’t love using used food receptacles as keepsakes?) and there is also a new side – black ghost chilli chicken wings – that also apparently have something to do with Batman. Meanwhile, in the US, Little Caesars has made a “calzony” (a kind of folded pizza) that’s shaped like the Batman logo, allowing customers to grab themselves a slice of gooey, unresolved trauma.

Caffè Nero has subverted the pattern a little by focusing on the Riddler. It has launched a new hot chocolate, with a mysterious new flavour. If you can guess the flavour – which is to say, if you can stomach spending your money on a product that for the purposes of suspension of disbelief was designed by a nightmarish BDSM goblin – you can win a trip to a theme park.

Again, I’m barely touching the sides here….

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Dream Foundry has shared the Flights of Foundry 2021 panel “Making Your Reader Hungry: Food in SFF” with Nibedita Sen and Shweta Adhyam, moderated by Cora Buhlert. (Watch the video at the link.)

For a long time, speculative fiction rarely engaged with food. Over on the science fiction side of the fence, protagonists lived on food pills or ordered “Tea, Earl Grey, hot” from the replicator, while fantasy characters subsisted on the ubiquitous stew and quaffed tankards of ale. However, this has changed in recent times and now detailed food descriptions are a lot more common in SFF. Nor are we just seeing only stereotypical western and American food anymore, but also dishes from non-western cuisines and food traditions. This panel will discuss how food is portrayed in science fiction and fantasy and how this parallels real world developments, whether it’s meal replacement products like the unfortunately named Soylent or trends like pandemic baking.

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Chris Barkley, Irene Bruce, Rob Thornton, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Joe H.]

Katie Hale Wins Speculative Literature Foundation’s 2021 Gulliver Travel Grant

Poet Katie Hale photographed near her home at Keld, near Shap. Photo by Phil Rigby.

The Speculative Literature Foundation has chosen Katie Hale as the winner of the 2021 Gulliver Travel Grant.

Since 2004, the Gulliver Travel Grant has sought to assist writers of speculative literature (in fiction, poetry, drama, or creative nonfiction) in their research.  The grant awards one writer $1000 annually, to be used to cover airfare, lodging, and/or other travel expenses.

Hale’s piece, “The Guilting,”was inspired by “a trip to Antarctica at the beginning of 2020, and learning about the continent’s geopolitical situation alongside the impact of climate change.” Judges found her work intriguing and poetic.

Based in the UK, Katie Hale is an internationally recognized poet and novelist. In 2017, she was selected for Penguin Random House’s inaugural WriteNow mentoring scheme – and since then, her debut novel, My Name is Monster (Canongate, 2019), has been translated into multiple languages, and was shortlisted for the Kitschies Golden Tentacle Award. She is also the author of two poetry collections: Breaking the Surface, and Assembly Instructions, which won the Munster Chapbook Prize in 2019. She is a 2019 MacDowell Fellow, and has undertaken Writer in Residence positions internationally, including Gladstone’s Library in Wales, Hawthornden Castle in Scotland, and Passa Porta in Belgium.

In 2021, she won the Palette Poetry Prize, the Prole Laureate Prize, and a Northern Writers’ Award. Her work has been shortlisted for the Desperate Literature, Mslexia and Manchester Prizes, and has appeared in journals such as Poetry Review, Under the Radar, Joyland and The North. In 2021, she was longlisted for the BBC National Short Story Award. She has also written for theatre and immersive digital performance, and has featured on national radio and television, having written commissions for organizations including the BBC, the National Trust, and the Barbican Centre. She regularly runs writing workshops online and in person, and is currently working on her second novel.

The Gulliver Travel Grant is intended to assist writers of speculative fiction in research, and can be used to cover airfare, lodging, and other travel expenses. Previous winners of the Gulliver Travel Grant include Hugo Award-winning author N.K. Jemisin, Ibi Zoboi, and Daniel José Older; last year’s winner was María Isabel Álvarez.

For more information about the grant, click here.

Founded in January 2004 to promote literary quality in speculative fiction, the all-volunteer Speculative Literature Foundation is led by Mary Anne Mohanraj and 30 other committed volunteers. The Foundation maintains a comprehensive website offering information for readers, writers, editors and publishers of speculative fiction, develops book lists and outreach materials for schools and libraries, and raises funds for redistribution to other organizations in the field, as well as five awards made annually to writers, including the Gulliver Travel Grant. For more information, visit  the Speculative Literature Foundation website. The SLF is a 501(c)3 non-profit, entirely supported by community donations.

The Speculative Literature Foundation is partially funded by a grant from the Oak Park Area Arts Council, Village of Oak Park, Illinois Arts Council, National Endowment for the Arts and Oak Park River Forest Community Foundation.

[Based on a press release.]

Pixel Scroll 1/14/22 Do Starros Work As Facemasks? What About Tribbles?

(1) SLF ILLUSTRATION OF THE YEAR. Michelle Feng is the winner of the Speculative Literature Foundation’s search for their 2022 Illustration of the Year.

Michelle Feng

Hoping to translate theory into policy and practice, Michelle’s experience revolves around working directly with traditionally underserved individuals and communities of color to bridge the gap between lived experiences and policy that fails to reflect the complexities of society on a universal scale. Through her dedication to public service, where she traveled around the country working in dedicated pursuit of localized projects with focuses on urban development, environmental conservation, disaster relief, and food insecurity in rural areas. Michelle has also spent time in Human Resources at the Department of Defense and has experience in social work at a small non-profit, which subsequently trained her in crisis de-escalation, conflict mediation, and trauma-informed care.

Feng commented that she found inspiration for her illustration through wanting to combine visual elements from traditional village living structures with futuristic elements of a modern city. Feng used a mix of mediums and textures to build a piece with collage-like elements that illustrated a layered approach to world-building: “imbuing realities that are grounded in something familiar, but still continue to live outside of our surface-level understanding of the world, define speculative fiction to me. As a first generation Chinese-American daughter of immigrants, I grew up hearing stories of my mother’s experience traveling to the rural village her mother grew up in, who always emphasized the importance of balancing education, literacy, and imagination as the key to upward mobility.”

The person climbing the wall of books on the left hand side of the image was inspired by her grandfather, a professor of contemplative literature who taught her mother that art is the highest form of expression. Her hope is that those who see the piece can connect to both of its real & imagined worlds while exploring intersections between the built and natural environment.

You can find more of her work on instagram: @michellef.arts

(2) SQUEECORE. Raquel S. Benedict’s Rite Gud podcast offer “A Guide to Squeecore”, their term for sff’s current favorite flavor.

In 1936, anthropologist Ralph Linton said, “The last thing a fish would ever notice would be water.” It’s difficult to see the medium that encompasses everything around you, especially when you’ve never known anything else. Well, if fish were contemporary sci-fi/fantasy readers, the last thing they would notice is squeecore. What is squeecore? You’re soaking in it! Squeecore is the dominant literary movement in contemporary SFF, a movement so ubiquitous it’s nearly invisible. But in this episode, we are taking notice of how speculative fiction got watered down.

(3) UNWRAPPING THE PRESENT. Camestros Felapton catches the conversational ball thrown by Raquel S. Benedict in that Rite Gud podcast – “Is there a dominant mode of current science fiction?”

…Again, I think that idea (if not the name) that there are common aesthetic elements in notable science fiction (ie what gets critical attention and award nominations) makes some sense. Historically, in the Hugo Awards, I think what we see is overlapping time periods of popularity of some authors, publishers and outlets (5 to 10 year periods, with some figures having much longer spans of relevance). Pick any snapshot of time though, you are likely to find works that reflect elements that are going out of fashion, works that are currently most fashionable and works that reflect newer fashions. That is reflected in the kind of names (some coined contemporaneously and some retrospectively) given to works from particular times. The podcast picks up on that element and the need for a name for the current state of affairs….

(4) ENCOURAGING INTENTIONALITY. Maurice Broaddus urges conventions to move beyond checking the “diversity box” and work on building community. Thread starts here.

(5) ADAPTING STATION ELEVEN. Esquire’s Adrienne Westenfeld analyzes “How HBO Max’s Station Eleven Reimagines the Novel”.

…. Readers of the novel will remember its unique structure: nonlinear and multi-perspective, arcing across time, space, and characters to tell its poignant story about survival and the human spirit. We sense some of that looping structure in the television show, particularly in Episode One’s flash-forward glimpses of Chicago (for the purposes of this adaptation, HBOMax has transplanted the story from Toronto to Chicago). In these shots, we glimpse an unrecognizable world: today’s driveway becomes an overgrown wilderness, years after the pandemic. Today’s theater, where Arthur performs King Lear to a packed audience, is later overrun by feral hogs. The visual style hints at a narrative omniscience….

(6) DAVE WOLVERTON (1952-2022). Dave Wolverton, aka Dave Farland, died the day after sustaining a head injury due to a fall, his son Spencer announced this morning:  

Again this Dave’s son Spencer.

Dave has officially passed. He held on till all his children could say goodbye, then faded swiftly without pain. Thank you for all the kind words, messages, and memories.

After reading the countless messages and reflecting on my own experience, it is safe to say that my dad had a special way of seeing the potential in people. He will surely be missed.

Words can’t express the emotions of losing a loved one.

Eric Flint is among the many paying tribute, here on Facebook:

…Dave was part of my writing career from the very beginning. In fact, he’s the person whom you could say started it. He was the coordinator of the Writers of the Future contest in 1992. I submitted a story which he liked well enough to include in the finalists from whom the judges chose the winners, and I won first place in the winter quarter of that year. Winning that award is what kicked off my writing career. I stayed in touch with Dave after the contest and he was a help to me in many ways, from giving me excellent editing advice to connecting me with the person who became (and still is) my literary agent.

Some years later, Dave and I were two of the five founders of the Superstars Writing Seminar. (The other three were Kevin Anderson, Rebecca Moesta and Brandon Sanderson.) As a result of that association, we met every year at the four-day event, which is held in Colorado Springs in February. I was expecting to see him next month and looking forward to it.

David Doering’s appreciation about him will appear shortly on File 770.

(7) RICK COOK (1944-2022). Rick Cook, author of the Wizardry series (starting with Wizard’s Bane in 1989), died January 13. He wrote a total of nine sff novels, and much short fiction. His short story “Symphony for Skyfall,” co-written with Peter L. Manly, was shortlisted for the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award in 1995. His fact article “The Long Stern Case: A Speculative Exercise” won the Analog Readers Poll in 1987 (and between 1995-1998, three more short stories co-authored with Manly placed second or third in the poll.)

Sir Richard Ironsteed.

He was a co-founder of the Society for Creative Anachronism’s Kingdom of Atenveldt, which encompasses the state of Arizona. In the SCA he was known as Sir Richard Ironsteed. Recalling the early days of the Kingdom of Atenveldt, Cook wrote:

We made it up as we went along. In 1968 I went to Worldcon in San Francisco. The SCA appeared there for the first time. It was then I was introduced to the SCA. I picked up the Known World Handbook and brought it back to the Valley of the Sun. I couldn’t build up much interest, but shared the information with Mike Reynolds. In 1969, he suggested we start a branch. We were the first group that wasn’t started by people who had lived in the Kingdom of the West.

I was part of building the initial group, martial activities, including the administrative duties of marshalling. As first king of Atenveldt, I enjoyed making up the fun as we went along. Those things of great tradition from the early days were really just having a good time. I was also the first herald of Atenveldt, long before we were a kingdom. I tried my hand at many things from helping make our first (infamous) trebuchet to making jewelry.

He became the First King of Atenveldt in 1971.

Heather Jeffcott shared warm memories of him on Facebook:

…He used words like swordplay. Strong and persuasive, nimble and light when needed, then *SMACK*! There came the pun that would lighten the tenor of the conversation. He could be blunt without being rude. (Which is not to say he couldn’t descend into crudity, it just wasn’t his first choice. He was selective in how and when to apply such words for he had plenty of others in his arsenal.) He had a talent for telling you a truth and making it seem like a tall tale. And if he told you a Tall Tale, it took on the manner of a LEGEND….

(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1977 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Forty-five years ago, the first version of Fantasy Island aired its first episode this evening on ABC. The series starred Ricardo Montalbán who was previously known for his Chrysler Cordoba commercials, with their tagline of “Fine Corinthian Leather”, as Mr. Roarke, the Host, and Hervé Villechaize as his dwarf assistant, Tattoo. It was created by Gene Levitt who had very little previous genre experience. 

The critics were unanimous in their utter loathing of it. Newsday was typical of the comments about: “Given the premise, the [pilot] movie could have been fun, but it’s not. It drips with Meaning, but there is none. Actually, it’s quite dumb.”

It was obviously critic-proof as it had an amazing run lasting seven seasons of one hundred fifty-two episodes, plus two films called Fantasy Island and Return to Fantasy Island

A one-season revival of the series with Malcolm McDowell and Mädchen Amick in the two roles aired fourteen years later while a re-imagined horror film version was released two years ago. I’ve seen neither of those versions. I do remember the original series and remember rather liking it.

Chrysler Cordoba commercial (proof nothing vanishes on the net) here.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 14, 1924 Guy Williams. Most remembered as Professor John Robinson on Lost in Space though some of you may remember him as Don Diego de la Vega and his masked alter ego Zorro in the earlier Zorro series. (Is it genre? You decide. I think it is.) He filmed two European genre films, Il tiranno di Siracusa (Damon and Pythias) and Captain Sinbad as well. (Died 1989.)
  • Born January 14, 1943 Beverly Zuk. Ardent fan of Trek: TOS who wrote three Trek fanfics, two of them on specific characters: The Honorable Sacrifice (McCoy) and The Third Verdict (Scotty). Let’s just say that based on her artwork that I found I’d not say these are anything less than R rated in places. She was a founding member of the Trek Mafia though I’m not sure what that was, but I’m betting one of y’all can tell me. (Died 2009.)
  • Born January 14, 1948 Carl Weathers, 74. Most likely best remembered among genre fans as Al Dillon in Predator, but he has some other genre creds as well. He was a MP officer in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, General Skyler in Alien Siege, Dr. Artimus Snodgrass in the very silly The Sasquatch Gang comedy and he voiced Combat Carl in Toy Story 4. And no, I’m not forgetting he’s currently playing Greef Karga on The Mandalorian series. I still think his best role ever was Adam Beaudreaux on Street Justice but that’s very, very not genre. 
  • Born January 14, 1949 Lawrence Kasdan, 73. Director, screenwriter, and producer. He’s best known early on as co-writer of The Empire Strikes BackRaiders of the Lost Ark and Return of the Jedi. He also wrote The Art of Return of the Jedi with George Lucas which is quite superb. He’s also one of the writers lately of Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Solo: A Star Wars Story
  • Born January 14, 1957 Suzanne Danielle, 65. A Whovian as she showed up as Agella in “The Destiny if The Daleks “ a Fourth Doctor story. She was on the Hammer House of Horror series in the Carpathian Eagle” episode, and she’s also in Roald Dahl’s Tales of the Unexpected multiple times in different roles. To my knowledge, her only other SFF appearance was on the Eighties Flash Gordon film.
  • Born January 14, 1962 Jemma Redgrave, 60. Her first genre role was as Violette Charbonneau in the “A Time to Die” episode of  Tales of the Unexpected which was also her first acting role. Later genre roles are scant but include a memorable turn as Kate Lethbridge-Stewart, daughter of Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart on Doctor Who. Not at all surprisingly,she has also appeared as Stewart as the lead in myriad UNIT adventures for Big Finish Productions.
  • Born January 14, 1967 Emily Watson, 55. Her first genre appearance is in Equilibrium as Mary O’Brien before voicing Victoria Everglot in Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride. Next is she’s Anne MacMorrow in the Celtic fantasy The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep. She apparently also was in a Nineties radio production of The Wolves of Willoughby Chase but I’ve no information on it. 
  • Born January 14, 1990 Grant Gustin, 32. The actor, known as Barry Allen aka the Flash in the Arrowverse. I’ve got him as a boyfriend on an episode on A Haunting, one of those ghost hunter shows early in his career. Later on, well, the Arrowverse has kept him rather busy.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Frank and Ernest meet some genetic engineers whose experiments result in terrible puns.

(11) SPRING HAS SPRUNG AT SF2 CONCATENATION. SF² Concatenation has just posted its seasonal edition of news, articles, conreps, genre film analysis, and over 40 standalone book reviews. Vol. 32 (1) contains:

v32(1) 2022.1.15 — Science Fiction & Fantasy Book Reviews

v32(1) 2022.1.15 — Non-Fiction SF & Science Fact Book Reviews

(12) FOUNDRY EVENT. Flights of Foundry, a virtual convention for speculative creators and their fans, will be held online from April 8-10. Programming is now being organized, and registrations taken, at the link.

The world’s biggest multi-disciplinary, round the clock, international virtual convention is returning for its third year, and it’s going to be even better than ever. With stellar guests of honor such as L. D. Lewis and Jana Bianchi, an intensive workshops series, and activities to fill the whole weekend, there’s something for everyone and more than you’ll make it to. Donation-based registration means everyone can attend, and you’ll have a rare opportunity to meet people you’ll never see on the regular con circuit. Join us to learn about craft and business from creatives in your field and those you’ll collaborate with over the course of your career. Talk about your favorite works with people who love them, and love to dissect them, too!

(13) A JAR FULL OF MONEY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Washington Post, Michael Cavna notes that now that Winnie-the-Pooh is in the public domain, artists and writers will have a field day as long as they don’t make the bear wear a shirt (Disney owns that shirt!), don’t mention Tigger (not introduced until the still-under-copyright The House At Pooh Corner) and they should probably put a disclaimer in saying Disney has nothing to do with their work. “’Winnie-the-Pooh’ just entered the public domain. Here’s what that means for fans.”

He notes that Ryan Reynolds has used Winnie the Pooh’s public domain status to promote his cellphone company.

(14) SPIDER-MAN IS THE HOTTEST PROPERTY ON THE BLOCK. The auction block, that is: “Spider-Man comic page sells for record $3.36M bidding”.

Mike Zeck’s artwork for page 25 from Marvel Comics’ “Secret Wars No. 8” brings the first appearance of Spidey’s black suit. The symbiote suit would eventually lead to the emergence of the character Venom.

The record bidding, which started at $330,000 and soared past $3 million, came on the first day of Heritage Auctions’ four-day comic event in Dallas.

(15) THE HORTHMAH. [Item by Hampus Eckerman.] I saw that a new movie has been released, but the title is a bit weird. It mixes existing nordic runes with some that are made up from our ordinary latin alphabet. The closest I come when translating it is “The Horthmah”, but perhaps it is more than two alphabets in there. Is there any filers that are better at runes than me and can help out here? Anyway, I have no idea of what a Horthmah is, but I guess I’ll have to see the movie to find out.

(16) TRAILER TIME. Dance along to the opening credits of James Gunn’s Peacemaker, starring John Cena. Peacemaker is now streaming on HBO Max.

(17) CREDENTIALS IN SPACE. Adventures in Purradise entices viewers to watch “Fur Trek: Tribble Troubles”.

Are you a Star Trek fan? Do you like funny cats? Then this episode is right up your alley. William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy and DeForest Kelley, move over! Fur Trek is coming at warp speed. Capt. James T. Purrk of the UFS Kittyprise responds to a distress call from the planet Tribbiani, home of the adorable indigenous creatures known as Tribbles. Ambassador Barker suspects the warlike Klingoffs plan to steal his cargo of the life-saving grain, quadrokittycale, so he enlists Purrk’s help. Will the innocent Tribbles get caught up in a war between the Furderation and the Klingoff empire? Get ready to travel at warp speed on Jan. 1st to find out.

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

Pixel Scroll 1/12/22 Asking Only Filer’s Pixels, I Come Looking For A Scroll

(1) BIPOC WRITERS INVITED. Editor Jonathan Strahan is reserving up to three spots in his upcoming anthology The Book of Witches for new BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and other People of Colour) writers. “Open submission period for BIPOC* writers for The Book of Witches”. He will be taking submissions from March 14-18. Complete guidelines at the link.

Following on from the award-winning success of The Book of Dragons, Harper Voyager will publish an exciting new anthology, The Book of Witches, edited by Jonathan Strahan in the fall of 2023. Like The Book of DragonsThe Book of Witches will be a big, inclusive, illustrated anthology of fiction and poetry, this time looking at “witches”, more specifically your witch and what it means to you.

So far writers who have agreed to contribute to the book include Linda Addison, S.A. Chakraborty, Zen Cho, P. Djèlí Clark, Indrapramit Das, Amal El Mohtar, Andrea Hairston, Millie Ho, Nalo Hopkinson, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Cassandra Khaw, Fonda Lee, Darcie Little Badger, Ken Liu, Karen Lord, Usman T. Malik, Tochi Onyebuchi, C.L. Polk, Rebecca Roanhorse, Kelly Robson, Angela Slatter, Rivers Solomon, Andrea Stewart, Sheree Renée Thomas, and Tade Thompson, and we are reserving up to three spots in the final book for new BIPOC writers.

If you are a BIPOC writer – regardless of whether you’re widely published or just starting out – and would like to see your work appear in a major anthology like The Book of Witches, we’d love to hear from you. Just check out the submissions guidelines below and send us your story. 

(2) KEEP WATCHING THE SKIES. The American Museum of Natural History will livestream Neil deGrasse Tyson’s “Year in Review” on February 26. Purchase tickets at the link.

Find out what’s new in the cosmos as Tyson, the Frederick P. Rose Director of the Hayden Planetarium, reviews top stories from 2021, including notable commercial space launches, missions to Mars, visits to asteroids, and sky phenomena. 

This program will be presented online. Viewing information will be provided with your purchase confirmation. Only one ticket is needed per household.

(3) APPLY FOR SLF’S BOSE GRANT. The Speculative Literature Foundation is now accepting applications for the 2022 A.C. Bose Grant for South Asian Speculative Literature. Applications will be open through January 31. Complete guidelines are here.

The $1,000 A.C. Bose Grant for South Asian Speculative Literature, co-sponsored by the SLF and DesiLit, is awarded to a South Asian or South Asian diaspora writer developing speculative fiction.

The grant is named in memory of Ashim Chandra Bose, a lover of books, especially science fiction and fantasy, and was founded by his children, Rupa Bose and Gautam Bose.

(4) RELOADING THE CANON. Lois McMaster Bujold has updated her recommended reading order for her various series: “The Vorkosigan Saga Reading Order Debate: The Chef Recommends – Bujold reading-order guide 2022 update (chapter 2)” at Goodreads.

(5) NASA’S WEBB TELESCOPE LEADER PROFILED. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Washington Post, Courtland Milloy profiles James Webb Space Telescope program administrator Gregory Robinson, who is Black. His parents were tobacco sharecroppers and he began his student days in a segregated school, but after graduating from Virginia Union University and then from Howard University joined NASA in 1989 and worked his way up to his current position. Gregory Robinson, Webb telescope director, has had his own journey – The Washington Post

…“I often reflect on how dedicated, smart, encouraging and supportive they were during that time,” Robinson said of his teachers. “They’d tell us that we could do anything we wanted if we had an education. That appealed to me because I wanted to get out of Danville and have a better life.”

“I wanted to go to college but didn’t know if I could afford it,” he recalled. Fortunately, along with his knack for math, he’d been a pretty good high school quarterback. He earned himself a football scholarship to Virginia Union University in Richmond, packed two bags, and caught a Greyhound bus to the university.

At Virginia Union, he earned a bachelor’s degree in math. Then he transferred to Howard University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. He later earned an MBA from Averett College in Danville and attended Harvard University’s Senior Executive Fellows Program at the Kennedy School of Government.

While attending Howard, he met students who had done internships with NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. He was intrigued by what he heard. “They were doing really interesting things, unlocking many secrets, mysteries and unknowns about our solar system, our Earth systems,” he said….

(6) FROM AN OLD FAMILIAR SCORE. CBR calls these the “10 Most Overdone Sci-Fi Clichés”.

…However, the overabundance of certain clichés can be a tad tiresome, especially for fans of sci-fi. This is because the genre insists on recycling the same old symbols and allegories, over and over until all meaning is drained out of the story, leaving behind nothing more than a stale skeleton of something that used to be original at one point….

One of the offenders on their list:

7 Hacking Into Computers Is Easy Enough For Anyone

The process of hacking, particularly methods that rely on brute force, is long, slow, and painfully dull. Most people wouldn’t have the attention span to work out the countless algorithmic permutations required to break into secure computing systems, but sci-fi would have audiences believe that anyone can become a hacking professional.

Even scientist characters aren’t immune to this trope: in Independence Day (1995), they somehow write a virus and inject it into the alien’s computer, despite having no formal knowledge of extraterrestrial tech. Similarly, R2-D2 from Star Wars is capable of hacking practically any computing device with ease, even though his build is relatively ancient.

(7) MEMORY LANE.

1937 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Eighty-five years ago, the German adaptation of The Hound of Baskervilles, Der Hund von Baskerville, as directed by Carl Lamac premiered in Bavaria from the screenplay by Carla von Stackelberg. 

Two individuals are credited as playing Holmes, Bruno Güttner doing the physical work and Siegfried Schürenberg doing the voice. The latter dubbed most of Clark Gable’s films into German including Gone with the Wind. Fritz Odemar was Dr. Watson it was the ninth German film adaptation of this story with the first being in 1914. (There’s only been three such adaptations since then.) 

This was one of two films that was found in Adolf Hitler’s bunker by the Allies in 1945. The other film was Der Mann, der Sherlock Holmes war (The Man who was Sherlock Holmes), another Thirties film. 

If you’re interested, you can see it here with English subtitles.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 12, 1913 Marc Davis. He was one of Disney’s Nine Old Men who created some of Disney’s most-remembered animated cartoons from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs to The Rescuers in the Seventies. He worked on Snow White and the Seven DwarfsBambi, Cinderella, Peter Pan, Sleeping Beauty and A Hundred and One Dalmantians. (Died 2000.)
  • Born January 12, 1916 House Peters Jr. Though he’s best remembered as Mr. Clean in the Procter & Gamble commercials of the Fifties and Sixties, he did appear in a fair amount of SFF including Flash Gordon, Batman and RobinKing of the Rocket MenThe Day The Earth Stood StillRed Planet MarsTarget Earth and The Twilight Zone. Here’s one of the pre-animated Mr. Clean commercials. (Died 2008.)
  • Born January 12, 1937 Shirley Eaton, 85. Bond Girl Jill Masterson in Goldfinger, and yes, she got painted gold in it. She was not nude as is generally thought but was wearing a monokini. She also shows up as the title character in The Million Eyes of Sumuru, the Sax Rohmer based film we discussed last year. Her other significant role would be as Dr. Margaret E. ‘Maggie’ Hanford in Around the World Under the Sea. She retired from acting in the late Sixties. 
  • Born January 12, 1948 Tim Underwood, 74. Bibliographer with such works as Fantasy and Science Fiction by Jack Vance (done with Jack Miller), Shameless Art: Paintings of Dames, Dolls, Pin-ups, and Bad Girls (genre adjacent at the very least) and Stephen King Spills the Beans: Career-Spanning Interviews with America’s Bestselling Author.  
  • Born January 12, 1951 Kirstie Alley, 71. She’s here for being Saavik on Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, her very first film. It was, errr, interesting reading the various rumors why this was her only Trek film. Her SFF experience otherwise was brief limited to being the villain’s ex-girlfriend in Runaway, an uncredited handmaiden on Quark, and being in the Village of the Damned as Dr. Susan Verner.
  • Born January 12, 1952 Walter Mosley, 70. I have read his most excellent Ezekiel “Easy” Rawlins series but hadn’t  been aware that he wrote SF of which he has four novels to date, Blue LightFutureland: Nine Stories of an Imminent FutureThe Wave, and 47. There’s a Jack Kirby art book called Maximum Fantastic Four that was conceived of and orchestrated by him.  Interestingly enough, he’s got a writing credit for episode of Masters of Science Fiction called “Little Brother” where Stephen Hawking was the Host according to IMdB.
  • Born January 12, 1952 Rockne S. O’Bannon, 70. He’s the genius behind the rejuvenated Twilight ZoneAmazing Stories, the absolutely frelling fascinating Farscape, the could-have-been-great SeaQuest 2032, the Alien Nation series and Defiance.
  • Born January 12, 1980 Kameron Hurley, 42. Winner of a Best Related Work Hugo at London 3 for We Have Always Fought: Challenging the Women, Cattle and Slaves Narrative. Fiction wise, her most excellent God’s War won a BFA and a Kitschie, whereas her The Geek Feminist Revolution won her a BFA for non-fiction. Very impressive indeed. Oh, and she won a Hugo for Best Fan Writer at London 3 as well. Nice. 

(9) COMICS SECTION.

 (10) THINK AGAIN. In the Washington Post, David Betancourt says Andrew Garfield’s good work in Spider-Man: No Way Home should lead to a reassessment of his two Spider-Man movies, which Betancourt believes are underrated. “Andrew Garfield’s Spider-Man deserves redemption”.

…That is not to say Garfield’s Spider-Man never had believers. There are plenty of younger fans who were children when he was sticking to walls on the screen between 2012 and 2014 and who identify him as their Spider-Man. For many, however, Garfield’s Peter Parker was the Spider-Man that couldn’t. A Spider-Man who couldn’t beat the worldwide box office of his predecessor, Tobey Maguire. A Spider-Man who couldn’t make it to trilogy status. And worst of all, a Sony Spider-Man that couldn’t swing on his webs alongside the Avengers over at Marvel Studios because of legalities.

But our spidey-senses failed us. Now we know we were wrong about Garfield….

(11) A PREVIOUS PIXEL. Pat Cadigan is always supplying her Facebook readers with essential facts.

Robert Heinlein told me that one winter day, he and his wife were watching one of their cats go from door to door in their house. The cat would look at each door curiously, meow, and then move on to another door.

Heinlein said to his wife, “I wonder what he’s looking for.”

Virginia Heinlein replied, “He’s looking for the door into summer.”

Heinlein said, “Don’t say another word!”

He ran to his typewriter and finished a first draft of the novel within ten days.

Just because I know you couldn’t go a moment longer without knowing this. You’re welcome.

(12) LOOKALIKE COLLECTIBLE. Space Command showrunner Marc Scott Zicree tells “How I Saved Myself $300,000!” Before Marc gets to the main event he talks about some other Star Trek items.

…Then this could easily be an illustration from that but, no, this is an officially licensed product — the Star Trek Coloring Book. Spock has the wrong color uniforms so he’s a red shirt, so he should probably  get killed in this coloring book…

(13) SOLAR BUBBLE. Been having a “lonely, empty feeling” lately? “The Solar System Exists Inside a Giant, Mysterious Void, And We Finally Know Why”ScienceAlert has the story.

The Solar System floats in the middle of a peculiarly empty region of space.

This region of low-density, high-temperature plasma, about 1,000 light-years across, is surrounded by a shell of cooler, denser neutral gas and dust. It’s called the Local Bubble, and precisely how and why it came to exist, with the Solar System floating in the middle, has been a challenge to explain.

A team of astronomers led by the Harvard & Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) has now mapped the Local Bubble with the highest precision yet – and found that the Local Bubble was likely carved out of the interstellar medium by a series of supernova explosions millions of years ago.

(14) DEATH WILL NOT RELEASE YOU. Netflix previews a Korean series about zombies taking over a high school. “All of Us Are Dead”.  Gore warning.

[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Chris Barkley, Daniel Dern, 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 Jack Lint.]

Pixel Scroll 1/1/22 On Nights Like That Every Pixel Scroll Ends In A File

(1) PUBLIC DOMAIN IN 2022. James Langdell told Facebook readers what excites him about the arrival of the New Year:

Welcome to 2022! Now everything published in 1926 has entered the public domain in the US. At last I can legally publish my novel where Jay Gatsby and Winnie-The-Pooh solve the murder of Roger Ackroyd.

The Verge greets the new arrivals in more detail in its article “Winnie-the-Pooh and early sound recordings enter public domain”.

A. A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh, Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises, and other books, movies, and compositions from 1926 enter into the public domain today in the US. The works are now “free for all to copy, share, and build upon,” according to Duke’s Center for the Study of the Public Domain, which tracks which copyrighted materials will become public each year.

This year, the usual list of books, movies, and compositions comes with a sizable bonus: a trove of around 400,000 early sound recordings. A recent law, the 2018 Music Modernization Act, standardized how early sound recordings are handled under federal copyright law. As part of that, it set today as the date that copyright protections would end for “recordings first published before 1923.”

The recordings include “everything from the advent of sound recording technology all the way through to early jazz and blues,” Jennifer Jenkins, director of Duke’s public domain center, recently told NPRThe recordings include works from Ethel Waters, Mamie Smith, and The Sousa Band, among many others….

(2) SOYLENT GREEN IS FABLE. James Pethokoukis shares all the reasons “Why 2022 won’t be anything like the 2022 of ‘Soylent Green’”.

…So why isn’t 2022 for us going to be anything like the 2022 of Soylent Green? Well, the pessimists back then got a lot wrong.

  • They failed to grasp the “demographic transition” when people in rich countries start having fewer kids. The average fertility rate in at least moderately rich countries is now just 1.6, well below replacement. Today’s population-related anxiety is about too few of us, not too many. Oh, and the Big Apple is less than a quarter of the size predicted in the above image from the film’s opening….

(3) APPLY FOR A.C. BOSE GRANT. The Speculative Literature Foundation is taking submissions for the A.C. Bose Grant for South Asian Speculative Literature through January 31.

The SLF and DesiLit are pleased to announce a new co-sponsored grant, founded in memory of Ashim Chandra Bose, known as the A. C. Bose Grant beginning in 2019.

The A.C. Bose Grant will annually give $1000 to a South Asian / South Asian diaspora writer developing speculative fiction. It supports adult fiction, but work that is also accessible to older children and teens will be given preference in the jury process. The donors hope that this grant will help develop work that will let young people imagine different worlds and possibilities.

?The grant is founded in memory of Ashim Chandra Bose. A.C. Bose, a lover of books, and especially science fiction and fantasy, by his children, Rupa Bose and Gautam Bose, in fond memory and to honor the legacy of the worlds he opened up for them.?

(4) YEAR’S BEST COMICS. Find out what made the list of “CBR’s Top 100 Comics of 2021” at the link.

After a short five-year hiatus, we returned this year with a longtime CBR tradition. At the end of the year, we polled the many members of the CBR staff that make this site so great and asked them for their for their rankings of the top comics of the year. Every publisher putting out new comics material in English, regardless of genre or format, was fair game; each individual list was then factored in to determine the overall Top 100 that we unveiled on CBR over the course of this past week….

-DC Comics edged out Marvel 27-26 in entries on the countdown, but what’s staggering to me is HOW the DC titles appeared on the list, as they dominated the top 25 of the list (doubling Marvel up 12 to 6), but when we got to the Top 10, then Marvel edged ahead, taking 4 of the Top 10 to DC’s 3. Of course, going even more narrow, DC had 2 of the top five to Marvel’s 1).

-Image Comics was third on the list with 12 titles, with BOOM! Studios following with five (Dark Horse Comics had three to round out the top five).

(5) HORTON’S NEXT STANZA. Rich Horton is retiring as Locus’ Short Fiction columnist. He says, “The reasons are simple and not controversial (short version: 20 years is a long time, I want more time for other projects and other reading, and, especially, more time to dote on my grandchildren!)” Horton will still be associated with Locus. “I’m not gafiating, and I’ll still be at conventions and writing other stuff.)” He discusses the future at his blog: “Happy New Year: and 2021 Awards Eligibility Post”.

…Also, there is a great personal reason: my grandchildren: Addy is 15 months old today, Gus is two weeks old, and another grandson is due May 31! I’ll certainly be devoting plenty of time to doting on them! (And this is a reminder to me that even when things are depressing in the wider world, there is joy!)…

(6) HORROR UNIVERSITY. “Horror U Courses Begin in January!” The Horror Writers Association is taking signups now. Horror University presents six workshops for horror writers everywhere interested in refining their writing, learning new skills and techniques, or perfecting their manuscript presentation. Register here.

The Winter 2022 Session includes:

  • January 10: Building Your Very Own Haunted House: How to Write Effective Ghost Stories with Gwendolyn Kiste.
  • January 24: Into the Dark Woods: Incorporate Fairy Tale Symbolism and Archetypes in Your Stories with Carina Bissett.
  • January 31: Treacherous Settings: Discover How to Use SETTING to Escalate Conflict, Suspense, and Atmosphere with Michael Arnzen.
  • February 7: Manuscript Magic: Practical Strategies for Polishing and Presenting Your Manuscript with Lee Murray and Angela Yuriko Smith.
  • February 28: Writing Your Horror Novel in Six Weeks: The Castle of Horror Guide with Jason Henderson.
  • March 7: A Writer Prepares: Techniques for Character Development for Fiction Writing with John Palisano.

Registration is $65 for non-HWA-members, $55 for HWA members, and four- and six-course bundles are available.

(7) THE PRINCESS BRIDE & EXTRAS. “First a novel, then a film, now an audio experience.” From BBC Radio 4 — The Best Bits of the Good Parts Version by Stephen Keyworth.  

A two-part dramatisation of swashbuckling adventure plus five bitesize backstories which can be enjoyed as stand-alone stories or to enhance your experience of the drama.

The Dramatisation: Part 2 is now available online: “The Princess Bride, The Dramatisation: Part 2

With Westley captured and Buttercup on the cusp of marrying the dastardly Prince Humperdinck, there are only two people in the world who can save the day – Inigo and Fezzik. But one of them is lost and the other is drunk.

And another Bitesize Backstory is also up: “The Henchman”.

Fezzik was a simple, happy giant…until his parents taught him to fight.

The story of how a giant whose favourite sport was making rhymes became the henchman to a master villain.

(8) LIVING SPACE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times behind a paywall, Mark Ellwood, in a piece about architects designing space habitats, interviews Blue Origin vice president for advanced development programs Brent Sherwood.

Sherwood adds that many of the concepts mooted for interplanetary development aren’t viable–think of the crystalline domes common in set designs from Doctor Who to Space: 1999.  The atmospheric pressure of a vacuum forces structures in such locations to act more like high-pressure balloons, he says, and these glorified greenhouses would shatter.  Their transparency is also misplaced, as the only way to shield humans from harmful radiation beyond the earth’s atmosphere is via mass.

Moon homes, for example, will need to be shielded by thick walls rather than glass windows. “It doesn’t mean troglodytic living–you can design it so it’s not oppressive.  Think about a Gothic cathedral, which is mostly stone but has a but of glass high up in the vaulted space.”

(9) POTTERING ABOUT. In the Washington Post, Travis M. Andrews summarizes all the news in the HBO Max special on the 20th anniversary of Harry Potter, including that many of the adult actors in the films (such as Ralph Fiennes) had little or no familiarity with Harry Potter when they joined the cast. “HBO Max’s Harry Potter reunion: Tears, nostalgia and a curious lack of J.K. Rowling”.

… “I think I’m scarily like my character,” [Rupert] Grint says. [Director Alfonso] Cuarón agrees. He tells a story of giving the actors an assignment to write an essay in character. Grint didn’t do it. “I say, ‘Rupert, where’s your assignment? He says, ‘Well, uh, I thought that Ron wouldn’t do it. So I didn’t do it,’” Cuarón says. “Rupert is Ron. One hundred percent.”

(10) MEMORY LANE.

2002 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Twenty years ago, Ray Bradbury wins the Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a Fiction Collection for his One More for the Road collection. It was published by William Morrow the same year. It contains twenty-six stories by him and an afterword by him. Other authors nominated that year were Stephen King, Nancy A. Collins, Mort Castle and Bentley Little. It was also nominated for a World Fantasy Award and a Locus Award as well.  One More for the Road is available from the usual suspects for a very reasonable price. 

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 1, 1854 James George Frazer. Author of The Golden Bough, the pioneering if deeply flawed look at similarities among magical and religious beliefs globally.  He’s genre adjacent at a minimum, and his ideas have certainly been used by SFF writers a lot both affirming and (mostly) critiquing his ideas.  (Died 1952.)
  • Born January 1, 1889 Seabury Quinn. Pulp writer now mostly remembered for his tales of Jules de Grandin, the occult detective , which were published in Weird Tales from the Thirties through the Fifties. His Alien Flesh, which is SFF, is the sort of novel that Traci Lords wished she hadn’t done films like it. No, I’m not kidding. (Died 1969.)
  • Born January 1, 1926 Zena Marshall. She’s Miss Taro in Dr. No, the very first Bond film. The Terrornauts in which she’s Sandy Lund would be her last film. (The Terrornauts is based off Murray Leinster‘s The Wailing Asteroid, a screenplay apparently written by John Brunner.) She had one-offs in Danger ManThe Invisible Man and Ghost Squad. She played Giselle in Helter Skelter, a 1949 film where the Third Doctor, Jon Pertwee, played Charles the Second. (Died 2009.)
  • Born January 1, 1954 Midori Snyder, 67. I was most impressed with The Flight of Michael McBride, the Old West meets Irish myth novel of hers and Hannah’s Garden, a creepy tale of the fey and folk music. She won the Mythopoeic Award for The Innamorati which I’ve not read.  With Yolen, Snyder co-authored the novel Except the Queen which I do wholeheartedly recommend. (Yolen is one of my dark chocolate recipients.) She’s seems to have been inactive for a decade now. I will say that she has a most brilliant website.
  • Born January 1, 1957 Christopher Moore, 64. One early novel by him, Coyote Blue, is my favorite, but anything by him is always a weirdly entertaining read. I’ve not heard anything about Shakespeare for Squirrels: A Novel, his newest work. Has anyone read it? His only award is a Quill given for the most entertaining or enlightening title for The Stupidest Angel: A Heartwarming Tale of Christmas Terror.
  • Born January 1, 1984 Amara Karan, 37. Though she was Tita in an Eleventh Doctor story, “ The God Complex”, she’s really here for being involved in a Stan Lee project. She was DS Suri Chohan in Stan Lee’s Lucky Man, a British crime drama series which is definitely SFF.  Oh and she shows up as Princess Shaista in “Cat Among Pigeons” episode of Agatha Christie’s Poirot but even I would be hard put to call that even close to genre adjacent. I think her last genre role was on The Twilight Zone as Rena in “The Comedian” episode. 

(12) COMICS SECTION.

  • Grant Snider starts the year at Incidental Comics.

(13) ORGANIZED LABOR. [Item by Olav Rokne.] Strange Horizons’ non-fiction editor Gautam Bhatia’s story Orumai’s Choice tackles the rights of sentient androids to reasonable working conditions. Reads as a thoughtful and positive response to Asimov’s classic robot stories. At Livemint, “Lounge Fiction: Orumai’s Choice by Gautam Bhatia”.

“Eight hours of work, Mr Mayor. Eight hours to dream. And eight hours for what we will.”

Saravanan briefly considered making a bad joke about electric sheep, but thought better of it.”

(14) HOWLING IN DENVER. Meow Wolf opened its third installation in Denver in September and it’s “intergalactic.” “Meow Wolf Launches In Denver, Taking Visitors (Finally) To Convergence Station” reports Colorado Public Radio.

…Step into the lobby of Denver’s strangest new attraction and the adventure begins. Meow Wolf’s Convergence Station offers an interactive galactic experience like few others. It’s essentially a four-story art project mixed with immersive theme park designs and world-building. 

From the transit-like lobby, visitors then decide for themselves on which of the four different worlds to travel to.

Do they head to the grimy metropolis of C Street or the calming natural world of Numina? How about the frozen space castle on Eemia or the catacombs of Ossuary? All roads lead to dozens of hidden rooms, intertemporal passageways and many new clues….

Meow Wolf Denver: Convergence Station. Sept. 13, 2021.

(15) SF’S LIGHTNING ROD. Laura Miller discussed “The Cold Equations” in Slate last April – but the article is news to me: “Stowaway: Netflix’s latest hit updates a story sci-fi fans have been arguing over for decades”.

… For some science-fiction fans, “The Cold Equations” became a touchstone of the genre. James Gunn, an author, anthologist, and scholar of the genre, wrote, “If the reader doesn’t understand it or appreciate what it is trying to say about humanity and its relationship to its environment, then that reader isn’t likely to appreciate science fiction.” In this view, science fiction emphasizes the primacy of “the laws of nature, irrevocable and immutable,” over the squishy ambiguities of human emotions and manners, which are the subject of most fiction. The genre is seen by these fans as a sanctuary for those who appreciate hard truths and the men who face up to them.

Behind the technological gloss (much of the story is taken up with discussing the ship and how it works), “The Cold Equations” clearly illustrates the genre’s roots in the Western. Space and the planets settled by the colonist are referred to as the “frontier,” and Marilyn, in her feminine ignorance of the tough conditions there, makes a fatal mistake closely linked to her gender. Like the countless schoolmarms who arrive in semi-lawless Wild West towns in such movies as 1939’s Dodge City, “she belonged in that world of soft winds and a warm sun, music and moonlight and gracious manners, and not on the hard, bleak frontier.” In order to “civilize” the frontier and make it safe for such tender creatures, the male hero must make painful decisions and commit terrible actions that leave him so damaged he’s unsuitable for civilized company.

Although “The Cold Equations” became one of the most anthologized stories in a genre notable for the importance of its anthologies, in recent decades it is far more likely to be criticized than praised. Complaints about the story typically hinge on its contrived premise. Even within the story’s own value system, a mission designed without the redundancy to cope with the unexpected is simply bad engineering, rather than a demonstration of the universe’s indifference. The writer Cory Doctorow declared the story an example of a “moral hazard,” a term that economists use to describe a situation that encourages an economic actor (such as a corporation) to behave unethically by shielding that actor from the consequences of that behavior….

(16) BAH, HUMBUG! In the Washington Post, Will Oremus notes that, despite all the hype, the metaverse does not exist and “what does exist is an idea, an explosion of hype, and a bevy of rival apps and platforms seeking to capitalize on both.” “Facebook’s ‘Horizon Worlds’ isn’t the metaverse. The metaverse doesn’t exist”.

… In the two months since Facebook’s announcement, the term “metaverse” has taken off. A search of the Factiva database finds that it has appeared in more than 12,000 English-languagenews articles in the past two months, after appearing in fewer than 4,000 in the first nine months of 2021 — and fewer than 400 in any prior year. (Not surprisingly, Facebook was by far the most commonly mentioned company in those articles, with nearly 10 times as many appearances as the next most-mentioned firm, Microsoft.) Google Trends, meanwhile, shows that searches for the word have spiked roughly twentyfold since mid-October.

Many of those stories treat the metaverse as if it were a fait accompli — a real thing, like the World Wide Web or social media. After all, the metaverse has to exist in order to get married there, right?…

(17) CROWDFUNDED ANTHOLOGY ARRIVES. Vital: The Future of Healthcare, a collection of short stories featuring the future of health and medicine, was released December 31. Contributing authors include Tananarive Due, David Brin, James Patrick Kelly, Paolo Bacigalupi, Seanan McGuire, Annalee Newitz, Caroline M. Yoachim, Alex Shvartsman, Eric Schwitzgebel, Congyun Gu, Justin C. Key, Sally Wiener Grotta. Congyun (“Mu Ming”) Gu, Julie Novácová, and Lola Robles.

“Vital: The Future of Healthcare” is published by Inlandia Institute, a literary non-profit serving inland Southern California. Paperback and e-Book editions are available now on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound, Bookshop, and elsewhere.

Net proceeds will be donated to the United Nations Foundation’s COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund for the World Health Organization (WHO), a global leader coordinating the worldwide pandemic response. 

The idea for “Vital: The Future of Healthcare” was first conceived by RM Ambrose, editor of the book. He saw a need and opportunity to use fictional stories to address real-life challenges during the pandemic and declarations of racism as a public health crisis. “Medical science continues to advance, but for many, healthcare has never been more broken,” says Ambrose. “This book will use the power of storytelling to explore and inspire solutions to the problems that government and even the tech industry have struggled to fix.” 

(18) CHEER UP! In the Washington Post, Alexandra Petri looks at all the bad things that didn’t happen in 2021: we didn’t see any ghosts! “Some things that didn’t go wrong in 2021”.

… The ice at the North Pole did not melt and release the Unspeakable, Nameless Thing that has been trapped there for a thousand generations, which did not begin slithering on its hideous belly toward civilization, unhinging the minds of everyone who encountered it and leaving only devastation in its wake….

(19) 2022 IN SPACE. BBC Radio 4’s Inside Science wonders, “A new space age?”

Dr Kevin Fong convenes a panel of astronautical minds to discuss the next decade or two of space exploration.

…2022 promises even more. Most significantly NASA plans to launch the first mission of its Artemis programme. This will be an uncrewed flight of its new deep space vehicle Orion to the Moon, propelled off the Earth by its new giant rocket, the Space Launch System. Artemis is the American space agency’s project to return astronauts to the lunar surface and later establish moon bases. China has a similar ambition.

Are we at the beginning of a new space age and if so, how have we got here? When will we see boots on the Moon again? Could we even see the first people on Mars by the end of this decade? Even in cautious NASA, some are optimistic about this.

Kevin’s three guests are: Dr Mike Barratt, one of NASA’s most senior astronauts and a medical doctor, based at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas; Dr Anita Sengupta, Research Associate Professor in Astronautical Engineering at the University of Southern California; Oliver Morton, Briefings editor at The Economist and the author of ‘Mapping Mars’ and ‘The Moon’

(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Game Trailers:  Mario Party Superstars,” Fandom Games says this compilation of bits from other Mario Party games is “extra dough from stuff you left in your garage” when the original Mario Party came out in the 1990s but the game is still “the best way to avoid a real conversation at a party.”

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Olav Rokne, Hampus Eckerman, Andrew (not Werdna), SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, and Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]