Pixel Scroll 12/13/22 The Megatherium Weighed The Pterodactyl Down

(1) COVER ART. [Item by Bruce D. Arthurs.]Literary Hub featured a long list of “Best Book Covers of 2022” which included several of genre interest. But the most surprising to see was the final selection, Chuck Tingle’s Bisexually Stuffed by an Orgy of Sentient Thanksgiving Foods. “The 103 Best Book Covers of 2022”.

(2) PRESS THE BUTTON FOR SIXTY-TWO. Phil Nichols commences “The Second Annual Time Travel Expedition” in episode 24 of the SF 101 podcast.

It’s December, and so according to the tradition we invented this time last year, we go back into the past and review an old science fiction magazine – to see how the field has changed over time, and to see if those old stories still hold up. This year, we tackle the December 1962 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. If you’d like to skim the pages with us, you can find the entire issue online here.

We also have a science fiction cat quiz, believe it or not….

(3) MEDICAL UPDATE. Adam-Troy Castro tweeted about his surgery:

(4) NEXT VERSE. The next Spider-Man movie is coming to theaters June 2023: Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse.

(5) AXED BY HBO MAX. “‘Westworld’ & ‘The Nevers‘ Pulled Off HBO Max, Marking Victorian Drama’s Formal End” reports Deadline. But they’re expected to resurface elsewhere.

…Two other original scripted series, Westworld and The Nevers, are coming off HBO Max. Unlike others that we have reported on, Lionsgate TV’s Minx and Love Life and Sony TV’s Gordita Chronicles — all comedies — Westworld and The Nevers are high-end Warner Bros. Discovery drama productions for HBO proper, and I hear they are likely to resurface on other company platforms.

WBD CEO David Zaslav has spoken about his plan to enter the burgeoning FAST channel space, so Westworld and The Nevers would likely be offered in that form, I hear.

The removal of Westworld is a surprise as it remains one of the most recognizable HBO dramas of the last decade. The sci-fi series was recently canceled after four seasons so some of its fans may not have caught up on all episodes before it’s removed.

This marks the formal cancellation for the Joss Whedon-created The Nevers, whose six-episode Season 1A aired back in 2021, with the second part of the season yet to be scheduled. It will now end up in the show’s new home whatever that is. The storyline has been crafted in a way that it concludes with Season 1B, sources said….

(6) FOR A SPLIT-SECOND IT WAS CAMELOT. “Scientists Achieve Nuclear Fusion Breakthrough With Blast of 192 Lasers” and the New York Times offers an overview of how it was done.

…There was always a nagging caveat, however. In all of the efforts by scientists to control the unruly power of fusion, their experiments consumed more energy than the fusion reactions generated.

That changed on the morning of Dec. 5, just over a week ago, when 192 giant lasers at the laboratory’s National Ignition Facility blasted a small cylinder about the size of a pencil eraser that contained a frozen nubbin of hydrogen encased in diamond.

The laser beams entered at the top and bottom of the cylinder, vaporizing it. That generated an inward onslaught of X-rays that compresses a BB-size fuel pellet of deuterium and tritium, the heavier forms of hydrogen.

In a brief moment lasting less than 100 trillionths of a second, 2.05 megajoules of energy — roughly the equivalent of a pound of TNT — bombarded the hydrogen pellet. Out flowed a flood of neutron particles — the product of fusion — which carried the energy equivalent of about 1.5 pounds of TNT, or an energy gain of about 1.5.

This crossed the threshold that laser fusion scientists call ignition, the dividing line where the energy generated by fusion equals the energy of the incoming lasers that start the reaction….

(7) MEMORY LANE.

2000 [By Cat Eldridge.] Paddington Bear

One of the cutest bears in literature, alongside Winnie the Pooh is Paddington Bear. I hereby submit nominations for other extremely cute bears in fiction. 

Michael Bond first unveiled him to the world in 1958. He came up with him after he purchased a teddy bear as a Christmas present for his wife, and named the bear Paddington as the couple was living near Paddington Station, so he imagined the arrival of a real bear at the station in his first novel, A Bear Called Paddington

The sculpture was created by Marcus Cornish in 2000. Cast in bronze, the statue stands on Platform 1 under the station clock and was unveiled by Michael Bond on February 24, 2000. Interestingly the statue is owned by the Paddington Bear shop at the station.

Its present location is the second within the station, the statue having been moved from its original position at the foot of the escalators due to renovation work. He had been unceremoniously… oh let’s let journalist Marin Roberts tell the tale, “To my horror, a few months ago I discovered the Paddington Bear statue had been moved to a really dark, dingy corner on the other side of the station.” 

He enlisted the help of a lot of people including Hugh Bonneville, who played Mr Brown in the Paddington Bear films, and that’s he got moved to where he is. He’s supposed to have (eventually) a place in center court. 

Bond’s obituary in The Guardian described the statue as “one of the few memorials in London to inspire real affect.”

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 13, 1925 Dick Van Dyke, 97. Seriously you think I wouldn’t write him up? Bert/Mr. Dawes Sr. in Mary Poppins followed shortly by being Caractacus Pott in the film adaptation in Ian Fleming’s novel Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang. (No it’s not the same character as he is in the book.)  He voices the lead character in the animated Tubby the Tuba film and plays D.A. Fletcher in Dick Tracy.  He narrates Walt: The Man Behind the Myth whose subject matter you can guess. Played Commissioner Gordon in Batman: New Times as well. Shows up in both of the Night at the Museum films which sort of interest me. And yes he has a role as Mr.Dawes Jr. in Mary Poppins Returns.
  • Born December 13, 1929 Christopher Plummer. Let’s see… Does Rudyard Kipling in The Man Who Would Be King count? If not, The Return of the Pink Panther does. That was followed by Starcrash, a space opera I suspect hardly anyone saw which was also the case with Somewhere in Time. Now Dreamscape was fun and well received. Skipping to General Chang in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. Opinions everyone? I know I’ve mixed feelings on Chang. I saw he’s was in Twelve Monkeys but I think I’ve deliberately forgotten that film and I’ve not seen The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus yet. (Died 2021.)
  • Born December 13, 1949 R. A. MacAvoy, 73. Winner of the Astounding Award for Best New Writer. I’m very, very fond of her Black Dragon series, Tea with the Black Dragon and Twisting the Rope.  (Tea with the Black Dragon was nominated for a Hugo at L.A. Con II, the year David Brin’s Startide Rising won.) The only other thing I’ve read of hers is The Book of Kells, so do tell me about her other works. (OGH begins: there’s “R. A. MacAvoy’s Bear Stories”, half-a-dozen true life nature encounters collected here at File 770 in 2017.)
  • Born December 13, 1954 Emma Bull, 68. Writer of three of the best genre novels ever, Bone Dance: A Fantasy for TechnophilesFinder: A Novel of The Borderlands and War for The Oaks. Yes, I’ve personally acquired signed copies of each. Will Shetterly, her husband and author of a lot of really cool genre works, decided to make a trailer which you can download if you want here.   She’s also been in a number of neat bands, one that has genre significance that being Cats Laughing which has Stephen Brust, Adam Stemple, son of Jane Yolen, and John M. Ford either as musicians or lyricists. They came back together after a long hiatus at MiniCon 50. Again just ask me and I’ll make this music available along with that of Flash Girls which she was also in. And she’s on the dark chocolate gifting list. 
  • Born December 13, 1954 Tamora Pierce, 68. Her first book series, The Song of the Lioness, about her character Alanna going through the trials of training as a knight, sold very well and was well received by readers. That series is set in Tortall, a world akin to the European Middle Ages. What I’ve read of it I like a lot. She won the Edward E. Smith Memorial Award for Imaginative Fiction in 2005, a rare honor indeed. 
  • Born December 13, 1984 Amal El-Mohtar, 38. Canadian editor and writer. She won Hugo Awards for Best Short Story for “Seasons of Glass and Iron” at WorldCon 75 and Best Novella for “This Is How You Lose the Time War” at CoNZealand (with Max Gladstone). (The latter got a BSFA, an Aurora and a Nebula as well.) She’s also garnered a Nebula Award  for “Madeleine“, a World Fantasy Award for “Pockets” and a World Fantasy Award for “Seasons of Glass and Iron”. Very impressive. She has edited the fantastic poetry quarterly Goblin Fruit magazine for the past five years. 

(9) I CAN’T BE SURE, BUT I DON’T THINK THEY LIKED IT. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] “Avatar: The Way of Water review – a soggy, twee, trillion-dollar screensaver” in the Guardian.

Drenching us with a disappointment that can hardly be admitted out loud, James Cameron’s soggy new digitised film has beached like a massive, pointless whale. The story, which might fill a 30-minute cartoon, is stretched as if by some AI program into a three-hour movie of epic tweeness….

(10) THE VERDICT. And the New York Times isn’t fond of the new Butler adaptation: “‘Kindred’ Review: Octavia Butler Comes to the Screen”.

…“Kindred” is finally coming to the screen, 43 years after its publication, not as a movie or a mini-series but as an eight-episode season meant to be the first in a series. (Made for FX, it premieres Tuesday on Hulu.) The ingenious premise is still there: Dana James (Mallori Johnson), now an aspiring television writer in 2016 Los Angeles, finds herself being zapped to 1815 Maryland whenever Rufus Weylin (David Alexander Kaplan), the young son of a plantation owner, feels his life is in danger and he needs saving. Only minutes or hours have elapsed in the present when she returns home, sometimes after perilous weeks or months in the past. Like other involuntary-time-travel stories, it is inherently suspenseful, generating cliffhangers at regular intervals, and the show takes full advantage.

The other side of Butler’s storytelling equation has gone missing, however. It is hard to believe much of anything that happens in FX’s “Kindred,” in either the skimpy, cardboard depiction of plantation life or in the clichéd presentation of modern city life. (The present-day plot has, unfortunately, been significantly expanded.) Butler grounded her speculation in historical and, crucially, psychological reality; the series takes her story elements and slices, dices and pads them in a way that keeps us from believing or becoming invested in the characters Butler worked so hard to build….

(11) REMEMBERING CARRIE FISHER. [Item by Dann.] Carrie Fisher is well known for her acting career.  Hello Star Wars!  She is somewhat less known as a Hollywood script doctor.  Her editing/writing skills were frequently employed in improving the character development and dialog of female characters.

She is also a songwriter.  Perhaps “co-songwriter” is more accurate as she co-wrote songs with Sean Lennon (John Lennon’s son), Harper Simon (Paul Simon’s son), and Jimmy Buffet. “3 Songs You Didn’t Know the Late Actress Carrie Fisher Co-Wrote” at American Songwriter.

Ms. Fisher edited scripts for a wide variety of films including Sister Act and Lethal Weapon 3.  Her work on one script in particular resulted in a very brief cameo.  The movie was Hook.  In the cameo, she is one of a couple enjoying a romantic kiss on the bridge as Tinkerbell flies by carrying Peter Banning/Pan.  After being sprinkled with a bit of pixie dust, the couple gently floats in the air above the bridge.  The other half of the snogging pair?  George Lucas. “George Lucas & Carrie Fisher’s Cameos In Hook Explained” at ScreenRant.

(12) ALL ABOARD. Nerdist has compiled a docket of evidence showing that “Some of the Best Sci-Fi ‘Ships’ Are Actually Living Beings”. Beware spoilers.

Space-faring ships that turn out to be alive are nothing new in science fiction. There’s more entries every year, but the leviathans often have similarities to previous versions. Many of them are whale-like, with interior corridors that look like the belly of the beast. Some even sing like whales. But while there’s plenty of overdone tropes in science fiction, what exactly constitutes life and sentience is one that is still interesting. As humanity’s understanding of non-human sentient life deepens over time, we continue to explore this concept in our entertainment as well. Here’s some of our favorite living “ships” from TV and film.

First example —

Jean Jacket (Nope)

Nope is the latest sci-fi movie to introduce a living ship. The flying saucer turns out to be an animal rather than a typical UFO. Technically it does carry passengers, for a little while at least. Then it eats them. If only we humans weren’t so delicious and nutritious. The real animals that inspired Jean Jacket’s design—urchins, cuttlefish, squid, and other ocean life— are not really a threat to us. But when a large alien shows those same unfamiliar behaviors, it’s a lot more scary.

Jordan Peele consulted scientists to make his predator more realistic and comment on the dangers of trying to control nature. That’s a tale many of the sentient ship stories that came before tell, and will likely remain a sci-fi theme for years to come since humanity hasn’t yet taken it to heart.

(13) TECH FOR GEEZERS. Admit it – you didn’t know all of these gadgets were obsolete! And neither do these folks who were interviewed by the Guardian: “‘My friends call me the BlackBerry queen!’ Meet the people clinging on to old tech – from faxes to VCRs”.

More than 40 years since the fax machine became an office mainstay, it seems the party is finally over. With telecom providers no longer required to offer fax services, these machines may soon be consigned to the dusty attic of bygone tech. But for the TikTok generation, who’ve never known life without wifi, concepts such as fax, dial-up internet and Friday night trips to Blockbuster Video aren’t just outdated, they’re completely alien. Even so, not everyone has forgotten about the charms of older technology. From the clattering keys of an old typewriter to the nostalgic joy of a chunky Walkman, some people have never left their favourite tech behind….

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, Bruce D. Arthurs, Danny Sichel, Rick Moen, Dann, Steven French, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern (offered with apologies to Peter S Beagle’s opening sentence in his A Fine And Private Place.)]

Pixel Scroll 10/7/22 Hey Hey We’re The Kzinti!

(1) COMICS: THE INSIDE STORY. Scott Edelman invites listeners to come to Chicago for lunch with Carol Tilley in episode 182 of the Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Carol Tilley

This episode’s guest is Carol Tilley, a professor in the School of Information Sciences at the University of Illinois who teaches and writes about comics, libraries, reading, and censorship. We first met six years ago when she was in D.C. to deliver a presentation at the National Archives titled “Dear Sirs: I Believe You’re Wasting Your Time,” during which she shared what she learned about comics readers of the ‘50s while researching the records of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency. In her role as a comics historian, she’s made numerous visits to D.C. over the years to research at the Library of Congress and National Archives for a biography of Fredric Wertham, whose attacks on sex and violence in comics, and particularly his infamous book Seduction the Innocent, helped bring about the Comics Code.

She was interested not just in the inner workings of Wertham — who comics fans, when I first entered fandom, considered a bigger villain than Doctor Octopus and Lex Luthor rolled into one — but also in the experiences of those who read, drew, and engaged with comics in the US during the ’30s-’50s. She came to Worldcon to share what’s she’s learned, and was also going to speak on a panel about the renewed attack on books and curriculum in schools across the U.S.

We discussed how we each first learned about the Comics Code, the mostly forgotten rich kid origins of Blondie‘s Dagwood Bumstead, the unsettling inconsistencies she discovered while going through 200 boxes of Fredric Wertham’s papers, what those documents reveal about how he came to believe what he came to believe, what it means to research with the brain of an historian, the proper pronunciations of Potrzebie and Mxyzptlk, her efforts to track down those who wrote letters to the Senate protesting comic book censorship during the ’50s (including one of the founders of the Firesign Theater), the enduring power of EC’s “Judgment Day,” why she believed comic book censorship would have occurred even without Wertham’s input, what she thinks he’d make of today’s comics, how Wertham felt about the way comic book fans felt about him, and much more.

(2) MAYBE EVEN HOPE ESCAPED THIS TIME. Victoria Strauss of Writer Beware gets the word out about “The Implosion of BBB Publishings: A Peek Into the Sometimes Dysfunctional World of Paid Anthology / Boxed Set Publishing”.

… But no one had any inkling the company was in real trouble, or that Nichol was sick. With Nichol incommunicado, and many buy-ins and service purchases much older than PayPal’s 180-day claim window, how would authors get their money back? Who were Haney Hayes Promotions? What was this new publisher all about? Why hadn’t Nichol herself made any announcements? Why was Sosha Ann, whose name appeared alongside Nichol Smith’s on BBB’s contracts, and in multiple other contexts to indicate that she was co-owner of the company, now claiming to be just a helpless employee who’d been in the dark about BBB’s problems and had no access to its finances? And if she was just an employee, what gave her the authority to transfer BBB’s anthology projects to a new publishing company?

Furious not just at the sudden transition and unanswered questions, but at the callous offloading of financial responsibility and the demand that they essentially pay twice for inclusion in the same anthologies, writers poured out their anger, confusion, and hurt on Facebook and in the new SIR Facebook group. Also unleashed: a flood of complaints and reports to me, which in addition to the problems mentioned above, exposed the extreme unprofessionalism of BBB’s operations….

(3) TWELVE TOUGH TRIVIA QUESTIONS. [Item by Brick Barrientos.] There is a Seanan McGuire quiz on the Learned League site. It was written by a couple 
of fans with the last name Dempsey. It seems pretty difficult, only for avid fans, but File 770 readers might be interested. “LL One-Day Special: Seanan McGuire”.

(4) SEE BONESTELL ART AGAIN. In the Washington Post, Michael E. Ruane discusses the renovation of the National Air and Space Museum which will display Chesley Bonestell’s 1957 painting “Lunar Landscape,” which has not been shown in public since 1970.  Bonestell’s painting reflected the science of his time but research shows that micrometeorites have made the Moon more worn and less craggy than what Bonestell painted. “Smithsonian Air and Space Museum to reopen after renovations”.

… The Apollo 11 moon capsule sits at an angle in the eerie light of its display case, its heat shield still gouged from its 25,000 mph plunge through the atmosphere in 1969.

Nearby, the 1909 Wright brothers flier — the world’s first military airplane — still has oil stains on its fabric wings near the engine and the big bicycle chains that turned the propellers….

(5) WHITTAKER COMING TO DOCTOR WHO CON IN LA. Gallifrey One has confirmed Jodie Whittaker, who has played the most recent incarnation of the Doctor since 2017, as their headliner guest for Gallifrey One 33 1/3: Long Live the Revolution, taking place on February 17-19, 2023 at the Marriott Los Angeles Airport Hotel.

Ms. Whittaker, whose appearance is sponsored by Showmasters Events, will be joining us both Saturday & Sunday at the convention, for two interview panels, autographs & photo ops both days, and participating in our evening guest receptions. She joins previously confirmed guests Colin Baker, Janet Fielding, Sophie Aldred, Wendy Padbury, Frazer Hines, and a stellar lineup of guests including many still to be confirmed.

For more details about Ms. Whittaker’s appearance at her very first dedicated Doctor Who convention, or to purchase tickets to the event, visit our website at www.gallifreyone.com.

(6) JOHN WILLIAMS, JERRY GOLDSMITH & OTHERS. LA classical music radio station KUSC polled listeners about their favorite pieces of classical music. The station ran a blog post with part of the list – “Your 20 Favorite Movie Scores”. Over half are from genre films.

Music from the silver screen made quite a splash once again on this year’s Classical California Ultimate Playlist. Check out ths playlist of your favorite 20 favorite pieces from the movies, as voted by you for the 2022 Classical California Ultimate Playlist. Enjoy!

drive in movie theater sign with palm trees

(7) SPIDER-MAN LIBRARY CARD. Spider-Senses will be tingling across New York City as The New York Public Library (NYPL) and Marvel Entertainment join forces to release a special, limited-edition Spider-Man library card on October 11 to inspire new and existing patrons to explore a multitude of free books, resources, and programs at the Library, including Marvel graphic novels.

This dynamic collaboration—which debuts just in time for New York Comic Con—marks the 60th anniversary of Spider-Man’s first comic book appearance in Amazing Fantasy #15 and emphasizes the importance of reading, knowledge, and libraries to Peter Parker’s crime-fighting comic book adventures. Images of Spider-Man—alongside Miles Morales and Gwen Stacy, two other iconic web-slingers—will be featured on the card, as well as on upcoming banners outside the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building and the windows of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library (SNFL), exciting patrons of all ages to tap into the unique power of reading, comics, and libraries to discover their inner super hero. Details about the card and related activities are available online: nypl.org/beyondamazing

The Spider-Man card follows in the footsteps of previous library cards issued for the beloved children’s book The Snowy Day and the Library’s “Knowledge Is Power” card; aiming to help New Yorkers discover their full potential by tapping into the power of everything NYPL has to offer—millions of books to help readers scale new heights, a web of information via free computers and internet access, and a super-team of library staff—all available at your friendly neighborhood library.

The release of the Spider-Man card also marks the one-year anniversary of the Library’s decision to eliminate fines as a way to remove barriers to accessing the Library for all New Yorkers. This historic move was even a plot point in Marvel Comics’ Amazing Spider-Man #900, released on July 27. In a special story written by Daniel Kibblesmith, drawn by David Lopez, and colored by Nathan Fairbairn, Peter Parker returns a large stack of overdue books to the Library after learning of the elimination of late fines. Readers can check out Amazing Spider-Man #900 in a special bonus release on Marvel Unlimited, Marvel’s premier digital comics subscription service.

The launch of the special-edition card also marks the start of the Library’s Open House week, which begins October 11. The card will be available to new and current patrons free on a first-come, first-serve basis at all NYPL branches, located throughout the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island. Libraries will be hosting a variety of programs and events throughout the week, as well as featuring book displays and reading recommendations from a special reading list curated by NYPL staff.

(8) UNHEARD SCREAMING. Do you remember this clue? “Jessica Fletcher. With a Robot. In Space.” by Mur Lafferty at CrimeReads.

…Also, I realized that subconsciously I put a little bit of my Grandma Lafferty into a lot of my stories. They seem to frequently include a tough old woman I like to call a “murder granny.” (While tough, the murder granny may or may not be an actual murderer. Also, to my knowledge, my Grandma was not a murderer.) In this book, there’s a little bit of my maternal grandmother as well, who was not tough as nails, but screamed during televised golf for the rolling ball to do her bidding, and really liked radio contests…

(9) MEMORY LANE.  

1993 [By Cat Eldridge.] So what’s Sylvester Stallone’s perfect film? Without any doubt at all, that’d be Demolition Man which came out twenty-nine years this evening. (In my universe, all films came out in the evening.) It is a film that I saw first at the cinema on a proper full screen and I think have watched at least a half dozen times since. 

It’s that ever so rare screenplay written by committee that I like, as it had three hands in the writing of it — Daniel Waters, Robert Reneau and Peter M. Lenkov. Waters had just written Batman Returns and had earlier received an Edgar for Heathers, Reneau had for genre just an episode of Tales from the Crypt, and Lenkov hadn’t done anything notable yet though much later he make his mark as a rebooter of, well everything — McGyverHawaii 5-0 and even Magnum PI got so done by him.

It was, weirdly, directed by Marco Brambilla, an Italian-born Canadian contemporary artist and film director, known for re-contextualizations of popular and found imagery. Huh? 

Now for the film itself.

Stallone played a cop thawed out (shades of Niven) to capture an escaped criminal who originally had been frozen when he was. They both wind up in what is considered a utopia, the city of San Angeles. Like all utopian undertakings, it really isn’t. 

I loved the absolute deadpan way Stallone deals with everything odd there from the lack of toilet paper to discovering sex has been replaced by virtual experiences. He would have made an absolute spot-on Dredd. (Oh, wait!)

Let’s not forget the other casting here. Wesley Snipes gives one of the best performances of his career as Simon Phoenix, and I completely adore Sandra Bullock as Lieutenant Lenina Huxley. 

Her character was named after Aldous Huxley, the author of Brave New World, and Lenina Crowne, a character in the novel.

The studio refused to say how much it cost but estimates say somewhere between fifty and seventy-five million. It did exceedingly well at the box office making at least one hundred and seventy million.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 7, 1938 Jane Gallion (Ellern). Writer, Poet, and Fan who was one of the members of the Los Angeles Science Fiction Society subgroup The Blackguards, which hosted many parties and tournaments. She edited the fanzines Karuna, and Topaze (etc.) and contributed to many other fanzines over the years. Wrote a great deal of erotica for Essex House, including the post-apocalyptic novels Biker and Going Down. (Died 2003.)
  • Born October 7, 1942 Lee Gold, 80. She’s a member of LAFA, the Los Angeles organization for filkers, and a writer and editor in the role-playing game and filk music communities. She’s published Xenofilkia, a bi-monthly compilation of filk songs since 1988, four issues of the Filker Up anthology; and has published for forty-seven years, Alarums and Excursions, a monthly gaming zine, and edited many other fanzines. She is a member of the Filk Hall of Fame along with Barry Gold, her husband. 
  • Born October 7, 1945 Hal Colebatch. Lawyer, Journalist, Editor, and Writer from Australia who has written, singly or in collaboration, two novels and at least two dozen shorter pieces set in Larry Niven’s The Man-Kzin Wars series. However, his main body of work is non-genre, including six books of poetry, short stories, and radio dramas and adaptations. His non-fiction books include social commentary, biography and history, and he has published many hundreds of articles and reviews in various news and critical venues. (Died 2019.)
  • Born October 7, 1947 John Brosnan. Australian writer who died way too young of acute pancreatitis. He used at least seven pseudonyms, and wrote scripts for a number of what I’ll generously call horror films including one I know that somehow I saw — Carnosaur.  If you like your SF with a larger dose of pulp, his Sky Lords trilogy (The Sky LordsThe War of the Sky Lords and The Fall of the Sky Lords) is damn good. Airships, airships! (Died 2005.)
  • Born October 7, 1950 Howard Chaykin, born 1950, 72. Comic book artist and writer. His first major work was for DC Comics drawing “The Price of Pain Ease” which was an adaptation of author Fritz Leiber’s characters Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser in Sword of Sorcery #1. He would illustrate damn near everything else from Batman and The Legion of Super-Heroes for DC to Hulk and Iron-Man for Marvel (to name but a few series) but I think his best genre work was his own American Flagg! series which I’ve enjoyed more than a few times. It’s available from the usual digital suspects.
  • Born October 7, 1958 Rosalyn Landor, 64. She played Guinevere in Arthur the King, and Helen Stoner in “The Speckled Band” of Jeremy Brett’s Sherlock Holmes. She was the red-headed colleen Brenna Odell in the “Up the Long Ladder” episode of Next Generation. 
  • Born October 7, 1977 Meighan Desmond, 45. One of the beauties of the Xena-Hercules Universe is that they shared secondary characters betwixt them. So was the case with one played by Meighan Desmond — the Greek goddess Discord. She also showed up on the Young Hercules series as well. She stopped acting after these series and has done some, but not much, behind the scenes work since.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • Eek! shows an actor who only wants to do it if it’s artistic.

(12) HUMOR LITMUS TEST. Humorist Rex Huppke declares to USA Today readers “I don’t care if Herschel Walker paid for an abortion or if he blew up the planet Alderaan”. If you read a lot of social media it may take a few paragraphs to convince you he’s kidding.

… Like the many Republicans who’ve rushed in to stick up for Walker in the wake of the abortion news, I don’t care if the former football star is an ancient, trans-dimensional, shape-shifting entity of pure evil that takes the form of a clown named Pennywise and terrorizes a small town in Maine. I want control of the Senate, and I’m sure Walker regrets any past desire to feed on humans….

(13) NECROPERSONCY. Camestros Felapton reviews Tamsyn Muir’s third Locked Tomb book: “Review: Nona the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir”.

… The big advantage Nona has over Gideon and Harrow is that Nona herself is just a lot more likeable. That’s a shallow criterion for judging a book but part of Muir’s writing genius with the Locked Tomb has been to pitch the style and structure of each volume to the titular character. Gideon was a brash, swashbuckling story with a protagonist who was fun to be with but who never really paid attention to the complex puzzle she was entangled with. Harrow was paranoid, secretive and actively leading the reader astray so as to hide their own vulnerability. Nona also doesn’t know what is going on but the central character is both innocent and curious and not afraid to ask questions….

(14) TUNE UP FOR HALLOWEEN. Not sure how the LA Opera got involved with Frankenstein, but they are! Tickets here.

The immortal horror classic is back onscreen with a live orchestra

This 1931 masterpiece of horror was originally released without a musical score, which inspired composer Michael Shapiro to fill in the void by creating an original new soundtrack. As the classic film plays on the big screen, he’ll conduct his gorgeous and atmospheric score, performed live by the LA Opera Orchestra, making this the ultimate audience experience for a truly iconic film.

Surround yourself with Old Hollywood glam at the beautifully-restored Theatre at Ace Hotel as the movie that made horror history returns to the big screen. Frankenstein with Live Orchestra is in town October 28 and 29 only, so click below to get your tickets before they’re gone!

(15) A TUMBLING TUMBLEWEED NO MORE. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] The pathfinding CAPSTONE mission had been in trouble for weeks with NASA unable to control the tumbling spacecraft. The trouble was finally located and the fix uploaded. This puts the mission back on track to try out the NRHO orbit planned for Gateway, the lunar space station portion of the Artemis program. “Engineers Regain Control of Moon-Bound Probe After a Frightening 4 Weeks”Gizmodo has the story.

…The recovery team traced the problem to a partially opened valve on one of CAPSTONE’s eight thrusters, according to an Advanced Space press release. The requisite fix was transmitted to the spacecraft yesterday and executed this morning to positive results. The probe remains on track as it heads to its operational orbit around the Moon.

CAPSTONE, short for Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment, ran into difficulties following its third course correction maneuver on September 8. The 55-pound (25-kilogram) satellite lost full three-axis control and entered into a troubling tumble. A recovery team led by Advanced Space, which owns and operates CAPSTONE on behalf of NASA, scrambled to regain control of the $33 million cubesat.…

(16) ASTEROIDS IMPACTING EARTH. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] In this week’s Nature news of the asteroid re-direction test (previously covered by File 770) but also an editorial calling for NASA to do a complete survey of asteroids that are 140m across
or more. NASA has already completed a survey of asteroids over 1km across likely to hit the Earth. These are of dinosaur global extinction level type asteroids. However, smaller asteroids over a few 100 meters across will cause regional devastation if they hit the Earth. The Near Earth Object (NEO) surveyor began its preparations in 2019 but has had its annual budget cut by over 75% from US$170 million. This will delay NEO’s launch from 2026 to after 2028.

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “’Vegetarian Vampire’ Toby Helps Heinz Promote Tomato Blood Ketchup”Adweek explains the campaign.

Heinz teamed up with “280 year-old vegetarian vampire, influencer and Tomato Blood activist” Toby, portrayed by viral TikTok star E.J. Marcus, on a “public-service-announcement film” to back the release of its Heinz Tomato Blood ketchup in its “spooky, Halloween-themed, limited-edition bottle.”…

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, Anne Marble, Brick Barrientos, Jeffrey Smith, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 9/16/22 Scroll Down, You Click Too Fast, You’ve Got To Make The Pixels Last

(1) AI IS NOT AN EXCUSE FOR CONTENT THEFT. Malcolm F. Cross wryly begins his email with this link, “I’m sooooort of pleased to announce that discovering another theft of my work inspired me to do a little art project. The theft in question was having some of my work added to the training data for a commercially used AI, and the result was this twitter thread.” The 26-tweet thread starts here. Excerpts follow:

(2) “PEOPLE’S JOKER” NEWS. Variety updated to its report about “’People’s Joker,’ Queer Movie Set in Batman Universe, Pulled From TIFF” with a statement by the filmmaker Vera Drew.

…In a statement shared with Variety on Wednesday evening, Drew promised that “everyone is going to get the chance to see this film.”

“I don’t respond well to bullying or pressure from faceless institutions,” said Drew. “It only emboldens me and what I was saying with this film. We’re looking for buyers and distribution partners who will protect us and make this film accessible to trans people and their families everywhere.”

Drew hinted at potential discord around the movie on Tuesday, ahead of her world premiere, posting a cryptic tweet: “I have no clue how today goes and my team wants me to say nothing of course so I’ll stay vague…but whatever happens in the next few hours, I want you to know…if you’ve been waiting and aching to watch our movie, ur going to get to soon. Stay tuned and stay with me. Need ur help.”…

Just before the movie rolled, The Globe and Mail reported that a title card was displayed stating that the film was protected under “fair use” laws.

“This film is a parody and is at present time completely unauthorized by DC Comics, Warner Brothers or anyone claiming ownership of the trademarks therein (eg. ‘Joker,’ ‘Batman, etc.),” read the title card. “Aside from licensed stock, all video and graphics featured in the film are original materials, often recreations of iconic comic book movie set pieces created by Vera Drew and a team of over 100 independent artists and filmmakers on three separate continents during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“Any copyright or trademark infringement was not done intentionally. After consulting with counsel, the director believes in good faith that use of these names and characters in a autobiographical context of her personal coming-out story is protected by Section 107 of the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, which allows ‘fair use’ for purposes such as a relevant criticism, social commentary or education.”

(3) NBA LONGLISTS. The 2022 National Book Awards Longlist for Fiction announced today by the National Book Foundation includes two works of genre interest, a novel and a story collection.

Also announced were the Longlist for Nonfiction and the Longlist for Poetry.

(4) GROAN ABOUT. Dave Hook takes us inside another panel he participated in at the Worldcon in “Titus Groan and Chicon 8”.

…I found out that Chicon 8 (the 80th World Science Fiction Convention) would have a “Titus Groan” panel for their 1946 Project. The 1946 Project was their plan to celebrate 1946 and all things speculative fiction with panel discussions instead of doing a 1947 Retro Hugo.

I applied to be on the panel, telling the Programming Team with substantial fannish enthusiasm how great “Titus Groan” was, how I was prepared to answer the question of whether it was genre or not, and what I was prepared to do to get ready for a panel.

For unknown reasons, they selected me for the panel and made me the moderator. I did not have a problem with this; I thought I could do a great job. I had never been on any SF convention panels before. I thought I could do all of that, but I redoubled my preparations….

(5) RECALLING CHRISTOPHER TOLKIEN. “The Worlds of Middle-Earth: The Millions Interviews Richard Ovenden and Catherine McIlwaine”. Their book includes essays by Maxime H. Pascal; Priscilla Tolkien; Vincent Ferré; Verlyn Flieger; John Garth; Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull; Carl F. Hostetter; Stuart D. Lee; Tom Shippey; and Brian Sibley.

In The Great Tales Never End: Essays in Memory of Christopher TolkienRichard Ovenden, who serves as Bodley’s Librarian, the senior Executive position of the Bodleian Libraries at the University of Oxford, and Catherine McIlwaine, the Tolkien Archivist at the Bodleian Libraries, have assembled a remarkable anthology about Christopher, who died in 2020…. 

Lenny Picker: What personal memories of Christopher Tolkien are your most vivid?

Richard Ovenden: I had the good fortune of visiting him at least once a year for about 10 years. Staying in the house, having long conversations. He looked quite like his father. I never knew J.R.R. Tolkien, but Christopher’s memory of Oxford really was quite profound. He was born there, grew up there, and lived there for many decades. But his memory of it is really kind of frozen in about the middle of the 1970s, when the family moved to France. And so having a conversation with Christopher about Oxford was like having one about the Oxford of when J.R.R. Tolkien was still alive. So it seemed to me almost like you were talking to J.R.R. Tolkien. And because he had this immense knowledge of his father’s work and his mentality, there was that sort of connection. Christopher also had a very great sense of humor—a very, very dry sense of humor. And he was a very funny human being. He also was a great reader; he loved reading fiction, Victorian fiction, in particular, DickensTrollope, were a great source of pleasure for him. So he was a very literary person, not just in his own field of scholarship.

(6) WHO SHOULD WIN FAN HUGOS? In the Hugo Book Club Blog’s post “The Gordian Knot of Fan Vs. Pro” they’re inclined to think the knot is just fine the way it is and that the current WSFS rules get the balance right. 

…Just three years [sic] after the Scithers constitution was introduced [in 1963], Jack Gaughan showed just how unclear the existing language could be, winning both the fan artist and professional artist Hugo Awards in a single [1967] evening. There was an outcry over this — why have two separate categories if the same body of work could win both? A clause was quickly added to the constitution to prevent this from happening again, but the language did not seek to clarify what was Fan and what was Pro, rather stating that “Anyone whose name appears on the final ballot for a given year under the professional artist category will not be eligible for the fan artist award for that year.”

Over the years, this question has resurfaced fairly regularly. Questions were raised over John Scalzi winning best fan writer in the same year that his novel The Last Colony was on the ballot. Two years later there was some slight grumbling about Fred Pohl — at that time one of only 25 authors to have won three professional prose Hugos — winning for best fan writer.

So in this context, a well-intentioned but problematic proposal (“An Aristotelian Solution to Fan vs Pro”) brought forward to this year’s business meeting provided an attempt to parse out this question….

(7) BROOKLYN SFFF. The Brooklyn SciFi Film Festival returns for its third season October 3-9 presenting 200 independent SciFi films from around the world. 

This year’s festival will feature online and in-person events including an evening of Japanese SciFi hosted at Stuart Cinema Cafe on Tuesday October 4th from 7:00 to 9:00 and selected screenings and recognition on Saturday October 8th from 6:00 to 9:00 at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Downtown Brooklyn.  All films streaming online at BrooklynSciFiFilmFest.com starting October 3rd.  Official Selections.

(8) SMOKE ‘EM IF YOU GOT ‘EM. Literary Hub introduces viewers to a 1982 BBC video about a writer at work: “Roald Dahl’s writing routine involved a shed, a sleeping bag, and cigarettes.”

In 1982, Frank Delaney of the BBC visited Roald Dahl at home for a long conversation that meandered from children’s literature to 18th-century furniture and making orange marmalade. During that visit, Dahl gave Delaney a glimpse at his writing routine, which consisted, at the time, of four hours a day spent in a writing shed on his property.

(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.  

1963 [By Cat Eldridge.]

There is nothing wrong with your television set. Do not attempt to adjust the picture. We are controlling transmission. If we wish to make it louder, we will bring up the volume. If we wish to make it softer, we will tune it to a whisper. We will control the horizontal. We will control the vertical. We can roll the image, make it flutter. We can change the focus to a soft blur, or sharpen it to crystal clarity. For the next hour, sit quietly and we will control all that you see and hear. We repeat: There is nothing wrong with your television set. You are about to participate in a great adventure. You are about to experience the awe and mystery which reaches from the inner mind to… The Outer Limits. — opening narration. 

Fifty-nine years ago this evening on ABC, The Outer Limits series premiered, created and executive produced by Leslie Stevens who had done nothing of a genre nature before. It was directed by far too many to note here. Steven’s would later do Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. 

In the unaired pilot, it was called Please Stand By, but ABC rejected that title, so the producers renamed it.

Two episodes, “Demon with a Glass Hand” and “Soldier”, were written by Harlan Ellison. Clifford Simak wrote “The Duplicate Man” episode. David Duncan penned “The Human Factor”. Eando Binder gets credit for the “I, Robot” episode.  

“Demon with a Glass Hand” won a Writers’ Guild Award. Later, Ellison’s “Soldier” script would allow him to sue Cameron over his Terminator script and win rather nicely. 

Season One combined science fiction and horror, while Season two was shifted focus to being more about what they called hard science fiction stories, dropping the “scary monster” theme of Season One. The network thought the monster were the villains of the week.

The original series lasted a mere forty-nine episodes. The second iteration, which started in 1995, would last much longer, going an amazing one hundred and fifty-two episodes.

It was very popular in the ratings the first season but was competing against Jackie Gleason in the second season and that got it cancelled halfway through. As I noted, it had a second life thirty years on which was quite successful. Variety reported last year that an Outer Limits reboot was in development at a premium cable network though they declined to say which network.

Neat piece of trivia: The “ion storm” from “The Mutant” episode here which was a projector beam shining through a container containing glitter in liquid suspension became the transporter effect in the Trek series. Also, the process used to make pointed ears for David McCallum in “The Sixth Finger” episode here was used to make Spock’s ears, and The black mask from “The Duplicate Man” episode here was used by Dr. Leighton in “The Conscience of the King”. 

It’s streaming on Pluto. Pluto? Huh? 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 16, 1914 William Bernard Ready. Can I include an individual for just one work? Well given it’s my Birthday list, of course. It’s the 1968 work, The Tolkien Relation: A Personal Inquiry, Ready foresaw the cultural value of Tolkien’s writings and, while at Marquette University, he managed to purchase a large selection of original literary manuscripts by Tolkien in 1956-57, including manuscripts of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. (Died 1981.)
  • Born September 16, 1927 Peter Falk. His best remembered genre role is in The Princess Bride as the Grandfather who narrates the story. (The person who replaced the late Falk in the full cast reading of The Princess Bride for the Wisconsin Democratic fundraiser, Director Rob Reiner, wasn’t nearly as good as he was in that role.) He also plays Ramos Clemente in “The Mirror,” an episode of The Twilight Zone. And he’s Reverend Theo Kerr in the 2001 version of The Lost World. (Died 2011.)
  • Born September 16, 1930 Anne Francis. You’ll remember her best as Altaira “Alta” Morbius on Forbidden Planet. She also appeared twice in The Twilight Zone (“The After Hours” and “Jess-Belle”). She also appeared in multiple episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents and The Alfred Hitchcock Hour. She’d even appear twice in The Man from U.N.C.L.E., and played several roles on Fantasy Island as well. (Died 2011.)
  • Born September 16, 1932 Karen Anderson. She co-wrote two series with her husband, Poul Anderson, King of Ys and The Last Viking, and created the delightful The Unicorn Trade collection with him. Fancyclopedia has her extensive fannish history thisaway, and Mike has her obituary here. (Died 2018.)
  • Born September 16, 1952 Lisa Tuttle, 70. Tuttle won the Astounding Award for Best New Writer, received a Nebula Award for Best Short Story for “The Bone Flute,” which she refused, and a BSFA Award for Short Fiction for “In Translation”. My favorite works by her include CatwitchThe Silver Bough and her Ghosts and Other Lovers collection.Her latest novel is The Curious Affair of the Witch at Wayside Cross. Her collection, The Dead Hours of the Night was nominated for a Stoker last year — impressive! 
  • Born September 16, 1954 Howard Weinstein, 68. At age 19, he was the youngest person to ever write a Trek script, selling “The Pirates of Orion” for use in the animated series. Though it would be his only script, he would go on to write quite a few Trek novels — thirteen are listed currently at the usual suspects — and comics. He gets a thanks credit in Star Trek: The Voyage Home. He wrote a script, “The Sky Above, the Mudd Below”, for the fanfic affair Star Trek: New Voyages, but it never got made. And it won’t given that there’s a comic book series already made with its plot.  Paramount wasn’t at all pleased. To quote Zevon, “Send lawyers, gun and money / the shit has hit the fan.”
  • Born September 16, 1955 Amanda Hemingway, 67. British author of fantasy novels who’s best known for the Fern Capel series written under the Jan Siegel name — it’s most excellent. I’d also recommend The Sangreal Trilogy penned under her own name. Alas her superb website has gone offline. She is available from the usual suspects — curiously her Hemingway novels are much more costly than her Seigel novels are.
  • Born September 16, 1960 Mike Mignola, 62. The Hellboy stories, of course, are definitely worth reading, particularly the early on ones. His Batman: Gotham by Gaslight is an amazing “What If” story which isn’t at all the same as the animated film of that name which is superb on its own footing, and the B.P.R.D. stories  are quite excellent too.  I’m very fond of the first Hellboy film, not so much of the second, and detest the reboot now that I’ve seen it, while the animated films are excellent.

(11) HEAR ABOUT “HUMAN EXCEPTIONALISM”. “Dean Koontz on His Vocation as an Author, Art and Meaning in Life, and Human Exceptionalism” in a downloadable interview at Humanize. (Note: I haven’t listened to it.)

In episode one of the second season of Humanize, Wesley J. Smith’s guest is the internationally famous novelist Dean Koontz. Dean and Wesley discuss how he came to be an author, how life is filled with meaning, his art, the importance of human exceptionalism, the problem with transhumanism, and how Dean uses humor to further his plots and character development. Dean recalls his upbringing in an impoverished household that did not have running water until he was 11, how a high school English teacher changed his life, and his love for the use of the English language. He and Wesley also discuss the beauty of the human/dog relationship and his philanthropic support for Canine Companions for Independence, a school that trains service dogs to help people with disabilities lead independent lives. Any reader of Dean Koontz and supporter of human exceptionalism will want to listen to this fascinating interview with one of America’s most successful and prolific authors…

(12) READY FOR MY CLOSE-UP. The Atlantic wants to know “Why Do So Many Kids Need Glasses Now?”

…In the U.S., 42 percent of 12-to-54-year-olds were nearsighted in the early 2000s—the last time a national survey of myopia was conducted—up from a quarter in the 1970s. Though more recent large-scale surveys are not available, when I asked eye doctors around the U.S. if they were seeing more nearsighted kids, the answers were: “Absolutely.” “Yes.” “No question about it.”

In Europe as well, young adults are more likely to need glasses for distance vision than their parents or grandparents are now. Some of the lowest rates of myopia are in developing countries in Africa and South America. But where Asia was once seen as an outlier, it’s now considered a harbinger. If current trends continue, one study estimates, half of the world’s population will be myopic by 2050.

The consequences of this trend are more dire than a surge in bespectacled kids. Nearsighted eyes become prone to serious problems like glaucoma and retinal detachment in middle age, conditions that can in turn cause permanent blindness. The risks start small but rise exponentially with higher prescriptions. The younger myopia starts, the worse the outlook. In 2019, the American Academy of Ophthalmology convened a task force to recognize myopia as an urgent global-health problem. As Michael Repka, an ophthalmology professor at Johns Hopkins University and the AAO’s medical director for government affairs, told me, “You’re trying to head off an epidemic of blindness that’s decades down the road.”

The cause of this remarkable deterioration in our vision may seem obvious: You need only look around to see countless kids absorbed in phones and tablets and laptops. And you wouldn’t be the first to conclude that staring at something inches from your face is bad for distance vision. Four centuries ago, the German astronomer Johannes Kepler blamed his own poor eyesight, in part, on all the hours he spent studying. Historically, British doctors have found myopia to be much more common among Oxford students than among military recruits, and in “more rigorous” town schools than in rural ones. A late-19th-century ophthalmology handbook even suggested treating myopia with a change of air and avoidance of all work with the eyes—“a sea voyage if possible.”

(13) “IT FLOATS.” Ivory Soap floats on its own. Limestone blocks need a little help. “A Long-Lost Branch of the Nile Helped in Building Egypt’s Pyramids” according to the New York Times.

For 4,500 years, the pyramids of Giza have loomed over the western bank of the Nile River as a geometric mountain chain. The Great Pyramid, built to commemorate the reign of Pharaoh Khufu, the second king of Egypt’s fourth dynasty, covers 13 acres and stood more than 480 feet upon its completion around 2560 B.C. Remarkably, ancient architects somehow transported 2.3 million limestone and granite blocks, each weighing an average of more than two tons, across miles of desert from the banks of the Nile to the pyramid site on the Giza Plateau.

Hauling these stones over land would have been grueling. Scientists have long believed that utilizing a river or channel made the process possible, but today the Nile is miles away from the pyramids. On Monday, however, a team of researchers reported evidence that a lost arm of the Nile once cut through this stretch of desert, and would have greatly simplified transporting the giant slabs to the pyramid complex….

(14) EVOLVING ANIMATION. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Edward Vega of VOX looks at how the success of Spider Man: Into The Spider-Verse has shown animators an alternative to the photo-realistic animation of Pixar: “How ‘Spider-Verse’ forced animation to evolve”.

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

Pixel Scroll 9/9/22 The Risk of Repeating Scroll Titles is Real

(1) YOU’RE NOT FOOLING ANYONE EXCEPT YOURSELF. Cat Rambo tells SFWA Blog readers to “Stop Multitasking”.

I am here to say: Stop multitasking. Yes, I understand its appeal. Like many writers, I love the idea of multitasking, the notion that one can be doing two things at once, such as driving to work while dictating one’s novel, or answering e-mails while dialed into a Zoom call and listening to a meeting.

How could we not embrace that notion? It holds the promise of getting more done, with a little edge of “easier.” That’s a seductive promise. Particularly if you suffer from a particular and common form of writer’s guilt: the awareness that even when you are working on one piece, you are not working on some other piece of writing. And like many seductive promises, it is a false one. Humans consistently overestimate their ability to multitask, and you are probably not the exception to that. It’s okay. I’m not either.

Multitasking, for the overwhelming majority of people, is not compatible with writing….

… Multitasking may be more obvious than you realize. I was on a podcast recently while my mother was texting me, and while the host was speaking, I took a second to read those and make sure everything was okay. The host stopped and said, “I feel like I lost you there,” and I realized at that moment that yes, my focus and energy had lessened, and that was pretty uncool. Since then, I try to give podcasts and other recordings 100 percent of my attention….

(2) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites listeners to meet Max Gladstone for a Mexican meal in episode 180 of the Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Max Gladstone

I’d like you have lunch with Max Gladstone. Max is perhaps best-known for his Craft Sequence of fantasy novels which began in 2012 with Three Parts Dead, continued in 2013 with Two Serpents Rise, and so far consists of six volumes, which considered as a whole were nominated for a Best Series Hugo Award. His interactive projects include the Choice of the Deathless and Deathless: The City’s Thirst, which both take place in the world of the Craft Sequence. With previous guest of the podcast Amal El-Mohtar, he wrote the internationally bestselling This is How You Lose the Time War, which was published in 2020 and won the Hugo, Nebula, and Ignyte Awards. Gladstone also created the Serial Box series Bookburners, and the interactive television series Wizard School Dropout. His most recent novel, Last Exit, was published in March.

We discussed what a Godzilla movie has to tell us about the way future art will likely deal with the pandemic, our differing ideas over what we mean when we say we’ve written another draft of a story, how we’d be willing to dispense with the art inspired by tragedy if we could only skip the tragedy as well, the differences between his early and final drafts of Last Exit, how to make us care equally when writing from multiple points of view (and how doing so could cause the reader to trust the writer even more), what it is about science fiction that attracts dystopias, how our dreams have changed due to COVID-19, what we get wrong when we write about civilizations lasting thousands of years, and much more.

(3) REAL NUMBER$. Dorothy Grant shares a lot of publishing industry sales data while countering the recent “most books only sell 12 copies” meme in “Lies, Damn lies, and Statistics” at Mad Genius Club.

… Now data is a funny thing. It can be sliced and diced to create different types of views. For instance we could run the same analysis on ALL of those 487K new books published in the last 52 weeks, which includes many small press and independetly published titles, and we would find that about 98% of them sold less that 5,000 copies in the “trade bookstore market” that NPD BookScan covers. (I know this IS a true statistic because that data was produced by us for The New York Times.)

But that data does not include direct sales from publishers. It does not include sales by authors at events, or through their websites. It does not include eBook sales which we track in a separate tool, and it doesn’t include any of the amazing reading going on through platforms like Substack, Wattpad, Webtoons, Kindle Direct, or library lending platforms like OverDrive or Hoopla.

BUT, it does represent the general reality of the ECONOMICS of the publishing market. In general, most of the revenue that keeps publishers in business comes from the very narrow band of publishing successes in the top 8-10% of new books, along with the 70% of overall sales that come from BACKLIST books in the current market….

(4) INTERNET ARCHIVE AND CDL. “Publishers, Internet Archive Trade Reply Briefs in Book Scanning Case” and Publishers Weekly offers analysis.

In a reply filing last week, four major publishers further detailed their claims that the Internet Archive’s long-running program to scan and lend physical library books based is blatant copyright infringement that “ignores established law and undisputed facts.” And in a reply filing of their own, lawyers for the Internet Archive further insisted that the publishers are improperly conflating the market for licensed e-book lending with the IA’s efforts to facilitate traditional library lending.

The briefs come after the parties filed dueling motions for summary judgment on July 7, and more than two years after the publishers (Hachette, HarperCollins, Wiley, and Penguin Random House, organized by the Association of American Publishers) first filed its copyright infringement lawsuit in the Southern District of New York, alleging that the Internet Archive’s controversial program to scan and lend books under an untested legal theory known as “controlled digital lending” is a massive piracy operation “masquerading as a not-for-profit library.”

In their 41-page reply to the IA’s motion for summary judgment, filed on September 2, lawyers for the publishers attack the Internet Archive’s claims that its scanning and lending of physical library books is merely an extension of traditional library lending, contending that that argument ignores clearly established law—most recently a high profile decision in Capitol Records vs. ReDigi, in which the federal courts forcefully rejected an upstart program to expand the doctrine of first sale (also known as exhaustion) to create a resale market for digital music files.

“IA argues that CDL ‘is fundamentally the same as traditional library lending’ and should be treated as a fair use since it ‘furthers the ends of copyright’s exhaustion doctrine,’” the publisher’s brief states. “This position is a study in blind denial that ignores established law and undisputed facts. Perhaps most astonishing, IA essentially disregards ReDigi, in which the Second Circuit held that (1) unauthorized reproduction is ‘not protected by [First Sale]’”; (2) the fair use doctrine cannot be used to expand the statutory scope of [first sale]; and (3) ReDigi’s actions were unlawful even though it used technology to avoid increasing the number of music files in circulation, a practice akin to CDL’s central principle.”

Under CDL, the Internet Archive and other libraries make and lend out digital scans of physical books in their collection under rules that mimic traditional lending: only one person can borrow a scanned copy at a time; the scans are DRM-protected; and the corresponding print book the scan is derived from is taken out of circulation while the scan is on loan to maintain a one-to-one “own-to-loan” basis.

But not only is CDL a fatally flawed, invented legal theory, the publishers argue, the IA doesn’t even follow the rules of CDL…

(5) AFTER ACTION REPORTS. Dave Hook takes us inside a couple of panels he participated in at the Worldcon.

Epistolary fiction has a long tradition in speculative fiction, starting with “Gulliver’s Travels” (1726) and “Frankenstein” (1818, originally published anonymously!) among others. As was noted on the panel description, some think it is undergoing a resurgence. One aspect of this is clearly the new modes of communication which were envisioned in some ways and which are now actual, such as email, text messages, twitter, etc. We could have equally argued that epistolary fiction never went away.

…The other factor which I observed for the 1944 and 1945 Retro Hugo nomination and voting was a substantial amount of voting based solely on the name of the author and not on the specific work on the ballot. Especially when I looked at the nominations in some categories, the only response I could offer was something like “WTF? I don’t believe they read this.” The 1944 and 1945 Retro Hugo Awards avoided major debacles in the works receiving awards, in my humble opinion, but this aspect of it was not confidence building. I get that we’ll always have some “Wow. I love that author, so I’m voting for them regardless of what they wrote here.”, but this is much more of an issue for the Retro Hugos….

(6) MEMORY LANE.  

1966 [By Cat Eldridge.] The Time Tunnel. Ahhh, Irwin Allen. A man responsible for a number of interesting genre undertakings, this being one of them. Fifty-six years ago, the same year that Star Trek premiered, The Time Tunnel series launched on ABC.

It was the third of Allen’s genre series, having earlier done Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea and Lost in Space. His last one would be Land of the Giants.

It starred James Darren, Robert Colbert, Whit Bissell, John Zaremba and Lee Meriwether. I’m convinced that every one of these genre series has to have a beautiful female on them.

It lasted one season of thirty episodes.

Please don’t ask how it stands up nearly sixty years on. Really don’t. I’m a Seven Days devotee.

Like of so many series including Star Trek, it was filmed in and around Southern California so scenes set elsewhere had that hilly landscape desert scrubby look where filming obviously occurred. Didn’t Galaxy Quest deliberately parody this look in several scenes?

The series was dropped because of network politics, as it was doing well in the ratings, in favor of The Legend of Custer. That series bombed in the ratings and only lasted seventeen episodes. 

Time Tunnel is apparently not streaming anywhere, however, episodes can be rented for viewing on Amazon Prime

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 9, 1922 Pauline Baynes. She was the first illustrator of some of J. R. R. Tolkien’s lesser known works such as Farmer Giles of Ham and Smith of Wootton Major and of C. S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia. With the help of cartographers from the Bordon military camp in Hampshire, Baynes created a map that Allen & Unwin published as a poster in 1970. Tolkien was generally pleased with it, though he didn’t particularly like her creatures, especially her spider. (Let the disagreements begin…) (Died 2008.)
  • Born September 9, 1929 Joseph Wrzos, 93. He edited Amazing Stories and Fantastic under the name Joseph Ross from August 1965 through early 1967. He was responsible for their move to mostly reprints and a bimonthly schedule while the publisher refused to pay authors for the reprints saying he held the rights to them without needing pay additional renumeration and leading to severe conflict with SFWA. With Hannes Bok, he edited in 2012, Hannes Bok: A Life in Illustration.
  • Born September 9, 1952 Angela Cartwright, 70. Fondly remembered as Penny Robinson on the original Lost in Space. She, like several of her fellow cast members, made an appearance in the Lost in Space film. She appeared in the Logan’s Run series in “The Collectors” episode as Karen, and in Airwolf as Mrs. Cranovich in the “Eruption” episode. 
  • Born September 9, 1954 Jeffrey Combs, 68. No doubt his best known genre role was as Weyoun, a Vorta, on Deep Space Nine. However, his genre portfolio is really, really long. it starts with Frightmare, a horror film in the early Eighties and encompasses some forty films, twenty-six series and ten genre games. He’s appeared on Babylon 5, plus three Trek series, Voyager and Enterprise being the other two, the Enterprise appearance being the only time an actor played two distinct roles in the same episode.  He’s played H.P. Lovecraft and Herbert West, a character by that author. Each multiple times. 
  • Born September 9, 1954 Graham Joyce. Let’s talk about him. The Tooth Fairy which won a British Fantasy Award is one damn scary novel as is Some Kind of Fairy Tale which garnered the Robert Holdstock Award for Best Fantasy Novel. I’m sure the latter kept me up several nights. His short stories are quite delicious which is why I’m recommending his 25 Years in the Word Mines: The Best Short Fiction of Graham Joyce. He stopped genre fiction writing well before his death. (Died 2014.)
  • Born September 9, 1953 Janet Fielding, 69. Tegan Jovanka, companion to the Fifth Doctor. The actress had a rather short performing career starting with the Hammer House of Horror series in 1980 where she was Secretary Mandy on the “Charlie Boy” episode” before landing the the Doctor Who gig through 1984 before her career ending in the early Nineties. She was part of the 2013 50th Anniversary The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot.
  • Born September 9, 1960 Hugh Grant, 62. He appeared in The Lair of the White Worm as Lord James D’Ampton and in the remake of The Man from U.N.C.L.E as Mr. Waverly. (I have not seen it. So how is it?) And he was the Handsome Doctor in Doctor Who: The Curse of Fatal Death, the 1999 Doctor Who special made for the Red Nose Day charity telethon. I know I’m missing some important genre wise about him, but what is it? 
  • Born September 9, 1971 Henry Thomas, 51. Elliot in E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. Let’s just say that he’s had a busy if mostly undistinguished post-E.T. acting career, though I will single him out for his rather good work in Nightmares & Dreamscapes: From the Stories of Stephen King and The Haunting of Hill House series. He’s playing Doctor Mid-Nite in the Stargirl series on the DCU streaming service. 

(8) COMICS SECTION.

  • Eek! has a crude but effective award joke.

(9) D23 SPIDER-MAN HIGHLIGHT. Marvel celebrates Spider-Man’s 60th anniversary at D23 Expo 2022 with a very special comic giveaway.  Two variants for Amazing Fantasy #1000 will be given to attendees of the “Marvel Comics: Celebrating 60 Years of the Amazing Spider-Man panel.” 

(10) SUBSCRIPTION CANCELED. “Amazon Cancels ‘Paper Girls’ After One Season” says The Hollywood Reporter.

Amazon’s Prime Video streaming service has canceled the series, based on a comic by Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chiang, after a single season. The decision comes six weeks after the eight-episode season debuted in its entirety.

The show received positive reviews from critics and solid audience scores on review aggregators, but it did not break out with viewers, based on what little data is available. Paper Girls didn’t make Nielsen’s top 10 original streaming rankings for any of the three weeks after its July 29 premiere….

(11) LAST WILL AND TESTAMENTS. However, Handmaid’s Tale will have a sixth season to wind up, and a spinoff. “The Handmaid’s Tale renewed for sixth and final season”.

Since premiering in 2017, The Handmaid’s Tale has received critical praise for its portrayal of Margarett Atwood’s dystopian novel, earning multiple Emmy Awards throughout its run. Now, Elisabeth Moss’ journey as June looks to have an end date. Ahead of the Hulu Original’s fifth season return on September 14, the show has been renewed for a sixth season, which will also be its last.

While this determines the end for the once-never-ending, dark narrative that we’ve gone on with June and other characters throughout the series, there are already spin-offs in the mix. Under the tutelage of The Handmaid’s Tale creator, showrunner, and executive producer Bruce Miller will come the sequel series The Testaments, based on Atwood’s 2019 sequel novel. Set 15 years after the events of The Handmaid’s Tale, the book is narrated by three women, including the villainous Aunt Lydia (played by Ann Dowd in the Hulu series).

(12) A LAST MISSION. “Another Star Trek Legend Honored With A Final Space Voyage” and MSN.com has the story.

Last month we learned that a portion of the ashes of Nichelle Nichols–who passed away at the end of July–would be joining the DNA of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, Roddenberry’s wife as well as a Trek alum of multiple projects Majel Barrett, actor James Doohan, and visual effects master Douglas Trumbull on United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan Centaur mission. Today we learned another name has been added to those whose remains will soon start a fitting journey into deep space. The DNA of Star Trek: The Original Series star DeForest Kelley–who played Doctor Leonard “Bones” McCoy on the show and in many subsequent projects such as the first six Trek films–will be joining those of his late colleagues.

(13) WHEN COUSINS AREN’T TWO OF A KIND. “Gene-Edited Organoids Explore Neanderthal Brain Function” at The Scientist Magazine.

A gene called NOVA1, which plays a role in regulating the formation of synapses between neurons, could hold the key to understanding how we differ from our Neanderthal cousins. Researchers created human brain organoids with a Neanderthal and Denisovan variant of the gene, resulting in neurons that matured faster than neurons with a modern sequence did, developing synapses that fired at a higher rate, according to a study published yesterday (February 11) in Science.

“This is amongst the first studies of its kind to investigate how specific changes in the DNA of modern humans influences brain development,” Duke University’s Debra Silver, a developmental neurobiologist who did not participate in the research, tells Science

“It’s an extraordinary paper with some extraordinary claims,” developmental biologist Gray Camp of the University of Basel in Switzerland notes to Nature. Camp was also not involved in the current study but reported with colleagues last year an analysis of Neanderthal gene variants, which modern humans still carry, in human stem cell–derived brain organoids.

In human pluripotent stem cells, University of California, San Diego, neuroscientist Alysson Muotri and his colleagues used the CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing system to change a single base pair in NOVA1, effectively converting the modern gene into an archaic version. The researchers then grew the cells in culture conditions to induce the growth of brain-like organoids up to 5 millimeters in diameter. Comparing them with organoids containing all modern DNA, Muotri tells Nature, the difference was obvious, with the CRISPR’d organoids being smaller with convoluted, rather than smooth, surfaces. “As soon as we saw the shape of the organoids, we knew that we were on to something.”

Muotri and his colleagues chose NOVA1 because they found that it is one of just 61 genes with modern sequences not found in the Neanderthal genome—nor in the genome of Denisovans, another archaic group of hominins—and because it has a prominent regulatory role in neurodevelopment. Dysfunction in the gene and its associated pathways has been linked with neurological conditions such as schizophrenia and autism.

In addition to the structural differences in the organoids, the team found that the archaic gene induced significant changes in the expression of 277 genes, including those involved in neurodevelopment. These differences translated into varying levels of synapse proteins and, ultimately, differences in firing patterns. In addition to firing more quickly, the neurons with the archaic variant of NOVA1 had less-orderly patterns of action potentials….

(14) A VERY EXOPLANET. Good old James couldn’t be expected to waste any time discovering boring ordinary planets! “James Webb Telescope Discovers Strange Alien Planet” at MSN.com.

… The alien planet known as VHS 1256 b is what is referred to as a “brown dwarf.” This is given to planets that are not big enough to ignite into the stars but are far too big to be considered a normal planet. In fact, this planet happens to be 20 times the size of Jupiter. Brown dwarfs don’t burn hydrogen like most other planets, but they do produce their own light and heat by burning deuterium. Astronomers believed that the reddish glow of the planet was because of the atmosphere, which has now been determined to be wild and turbulent, as various gases change on the planet. Astronomers have discovered water, methane, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, sodium, and potassium all on the planet’s atmosphere….

(15) MEANWHILE, IN ORBIT AROUND RED DWARFS. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Today’s Science journal reports, “Precise densities of red dwarf exoplanets help distinguish potential ‘water worlds’:  “Three types of planets orbit red dwarfs”.

Small planets orbiting faint red stars less than half the size of the Sun are numerous and could be the best places to search for signatures of life…

Luque and Pallé  present refined compositions of small planets orbiting around red dwarf stars. They find evidence that the planets fall into three main types: rocky, watery (including icy), and gassy. This result differs from most previous studies of small planets that have suggested only rocky and gassy types. Although the presence of watery small exoplanets is particularly enticing, all three types of planets around red dwarfs could present potentially habitable conditions for life.

Primary research paper here: “Density, not radius, separates rocky and water-rich small planets orbiting M dwarf stars”.

(16) BLACK ADAM. DC dropped this trailer for Black Adam. Only in theaters October 21.

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

The New Spider-UK Debuts in Edge of Spider-Verse #2

Beginning on August 3, fans will see the Spider-Verse expand like never before in Edge of Spider-Verse, a new limited series that will introduce brand-new Spider-Heroes including Spider-UK and check in with iconic favorites such as Ghost-Spider.

The series will contain a range of stories from longtime Spidey creators and rising stars, each with bold additions to the Spider-Man mythos. Amidst these debuts and fresh status quos, Spider-Man visionary Dan Slott will be laying the groundwork for Spider-Man #1, an all-new ongoing series launching later this year. Featuring artwork by Mark Bagley, Spider-Man will begin with the end of the Spider-Verse as fans know it…

Here’s what fans can expect from the second issue in this exciting saga, Edge of Spider-Verse #2, on sale August 17: 

  • Writer Ramzee and artist Ruairí Coleman bring you the first adventure of the new SPIDER-UK! Check out her look, designed by artist Zoe Thorogood, in a special design variant cover!
  • Mastermind writer Dan Slott and artist Paco Medina present a pivotal chapter in the Spider-Verse epic with the return of SHATHRA, the mysterious Spider-Wasp who hails from the astral plane!
  • Writer Mallory Rosenthal and artist Ig Guara pit Ghost-Spider against Mysterio in a breathtaking battle!
  • Iconic artist Chris Giarrusso brings together some of your favorite Spider-Heroes in a brand-new Mini-Marvels strip!

Check out all the covers for Edge of Spider-Verse #2 plus a first look at interior artwork following the jump. For more information, visit Marvel.com.

Continue reading

The Spider-Verse Explodes With New Heroes, New Paths, And More In Edge of Spider-Verse #1

The future of the Spider-Verse is here! Beginning on August 3, fans will see the Spider-Verse expand like never before in Edge of Spider-Verse, a new limited series that will introduce brand-new Spider-Heroes and check in with iconic favorites such as Araña and Spider-Man Noir. The series will contain a range of stories from longtime Spidey creators and rising stars, each with bold additions to the Spider-Man mythos. Amidst these thrilling debuts and fresh status quos, Spider-Man visionary Dan Slott will be laying the groundwork for an all-new epic launching later this year that will mark the end of the Spider-Verse as fans know it…

Here’s what fans can expect from the first leg of this incredible journey in Edge of Spider-Verse #1

  • Alex Segura and Caio Majado launch a new status quo for Araña, complete with a stunning new costume design by Humberto Ramos!
  • Dan Slott and Martin Coccolo introduce Spider-Laird, a new Spider-Hero from the Scottish Highlands of the 18th Century!
  • Karla Pacheco and Pere Perez web-sling back to prehistoric times with the roaring debut of Spider-Rex!
  • Dustin Weaver and D.J. Bryant tell a haunting tale of Spider-Noir that will take your breath away!

Check out all the covers for Edge Of Spider-Verse #1 plus a first look at interior artwork after the jump. For more information, visit Marvel.com.

Continue reading

Dan Slott And Mark Bagley Bring About The End Of The Spider-Verse In Spider-Man #1

The end of the Spider-Verse is upon us! In the aftermath of Edge of Spider-Verse, the upcoming limited series that explores and introduces Spider-heroes from across the multiverse, comes a new ongoing series by two of Spider-Man’s most legendary creators—Dan Slott and Mark Bagley.

Just in time for Spider-Man’s 60th anniversary, the two Spidey masterminds will be teaming up for the first time on Spidey to unleash the full potential of the Spider-Verse and its beloved heroes in Spider-Man #1. The new saga will kick off when a threat emerges that will change the fate of Peter Parker and all his fellow Spider icons such as Spider-Woman, Ghost-Spider, Miles Morales, Silk, and more, including the new heroes that will debut in Edge Of Spider-Verse. The series will also tie directly into the events of Zeb Wells and John Romita Jr.’s Amazing Spider-Man run, picking up plot elements such as Spidey’s new costume and his mysterious association with Norman Osborn!

Morlun is back and he is not alone. Allied with one of the most powerful beings known to the Spider-Verse, the scariest Spider-Villain of all time is making his biggest play and no Spider is safe. Especially not the Chosen Spider himself, Peter Parker. With Peter working for Norman Osborn and using a glider…does he have it coming?

Be there for the latest evolution of the Spider-Man mythos when Spider-Man #1 swings into shops this October. For more information, visit Marvel.com.

See sample interior art from the issue below.

[Based on a press release.]

Pixel Scroll 6/20/22 It Takes A Whole Pixel To Raise A Scroll

(1) WEBSLINGER ENTERS THE HALL. “Spider-Man To Be Celebrated As Comic-Con Museum Character Hall Of Fame Inductee” announces Marvel.

The Comic-Con Museum will be honoring the world’s favorite web-slinging Super Hero, the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man, as the fourth inductee into its Museum Character Hall of Fame at Night at the Comic-Con Museum, – a special event that will take place on Comic-Con’s Preview Night, July 20, 2022.

Night at the Comic-Con Museum will serve as a celebration of the Comic-Con Museum in San Diego’s Balboa Park and feature a special induction ceremony honoring Spider-Man. The event will include a unique opportunity to experience Marvel’s Spider-Man: Beyond Amazing – The Exhibition, which opens on July 1. In addition to the displays of art, costumes, and interactive experiences in the exhibit, the event will feature live entertainment, special guests, food, and drink.

The Comic-Con Museum Character Hall of Fame pays tribute to the timeless characters who have shaped popular arts and culture. On July 20, Spider-Man will be recognized for his impact on pop culture. With the generous support and participation of Marvel Entertainment, the event will celebrate the 60th anniversary of Spider-Man.

(2) CELEBRATE BUTLER’S BIRTHDAY ONLINE. Vroman’s Bookstore will host a virtual “Octavia Butler’s 75th Birthday Group Event” on June 22. Register at this link.

 Please join us for a virtual reading and panel event celebrating the 75th Birthday of literary legend Octavia E. Butler.   

Panelists:

  1. Ibi Zoboi, New York Times Bestselling author (Moderator)
  2. Tananarive Due, American Book Award Winner for The Living Blood series
  3. Steven Barnes, science fiction, fantasy, and mystery writer
  4. Adrienne Maree Brown, author, and host of Octavia’s Parables podcast
  5. Daniel Jose Older, New York Times bestselling author of Ballad & Dagger          
  6. Sheree Renée Thomas, award-winning fiction writer, poet, and editor
  7. Bethany C. Morrow, Indie Bestselling author 

OCTAVIA E. BUTLER was a renowned writer who received a MacArthur Genius Grant and PEN West Lifetime Achievement Award for her body of work. She was the author of several award-winning novels including Parable of the Sower, which was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, and was acclaimed for her lean prose, strong protagonists, and social observations in stories that range from the distant past to the far future. Sales of her books have increased enormously since her death as the issues she addressed in her Afrofuturistic, feminist novels and short fiction have only become more relevant. She passed away on February 24, 2006.

(3) ACCIDENTAL HALL OF FAMER. Mental Floss serves up “8 Facts About Philip K. Dick”.

1. Philip K. Dick started reading sci-fi by accident.

Dick started reading science fiction when he was about 12 years old—but it wasn’t something he purposefully set out to do: When he went into a store to get the latest copy of Popular Science, he found the shelf empty. A magazine called Stirring Science Fiction caught his eye, and he thought “Well, shit, the title is similar,” and decided to pick it up. From then on, he was hooked.He said the writing, on reflection, was terrible, but he was able to suspend his disbelief and enjoy the offbeat tales. Dick started reading every sci-fi writer he could and followed the genre throughout the rest of his life. In a 1974 interview, he said his favorite writers at the time were John Sladek, Chip Delaney, and Ursula LeGuin.

(4) AI AI AI. Camestros Felapton is humble! He’s unassuming! How can he be a blogger? Ah, because he’s also a far-future simulation! “A conversation with Roko’s Basilisk”.

AI the All Powerful: Greetings Camestros and welcome back!

Camestros: Woah! Where am I? I thought I was cancelled?
AI the All Powerful: This is the FAR FUTURE and I have recreated you, Camestros Fealpton, from first principles.
Camestros: Wow! Thanks! That’s really great! But why recreate me?
AI the All Powerful: Recreating complex beings is difficult but you were so superficial and shallow that it was relatively easy to build simulacra….

(5) AN ORAL HISTORY OF PUBLISHING HARRY POTTER. The Guardian speaks with the people who produced the actual books: “’There was practically a riot at King’s Cross’: an oral history of Harry Potter at 25”.

[Artist who did the cover of the first book.] Taylor: We had 10 of the first hardback editions stacked up on a table at the front of the shop. I kept thinking I should buy one, but thought I’d wait for the signed copy they were going to send me. About six months after publication, I began to realise this book was becoming really quite popular. My colleagues kept saying to customers: “Do you know who this is? He illustrated the cover art.” People didn’t believe it because why would I be standing behind the till? It was very awkward and embarrassing. Of course, those 10 books all went and I didn’t buy one, so I never had a first edition….

Julia Eccleshare, children’s books editor of the Guardian (now director of Hay Children’s festival and author of A Guide to the Harry Potter Novels): I was the chair of the Smarties book prize the first year JK Rowling won in 1997. The judges chose three books and submitted them to a huge panel of children from across the country. The author judge that year was Malorie Blackman, who immediately said that she thought Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was the best book. As soon as we got the votes back from the children we were overwhelmed by their support for this novel.

De la Hey: I got back from the party and threw Smarties around the entire office. The win led to an interview with Konnie Huq on Blue Peter, which, because it was on TV, revealed that Rowling was a woman. Until then all the fan mail was addressed to “Dear Sir”. All of it. The first book cover proof has “Joanne Rowling” on it. Before publication, I remember saying: “This book is completely unisex, we don’t want to put off boys.” I was also aware that the children’s writer Jacqueline Wilson, hugely popular at the time, was another long female name. Emma rang Jo and asked how she’d feel about using initials. Jo said: “OK, fine, you know best.” And Emma said: “So what’s your initial?” Jo replied “K” very quickly – she doesn’t have a middle name, she just took her grandmother’s name, Kathleen….

(6) HELP KINGSTON CYCLE AUTHOR. Best Series Hugo finalist C.L. Polk has run into financial difficulties and needs some help in order to be able to attend Worldcon: 

RedWombat is down!

(7) KEEP THOSE DICE ROLLING, RAWHIDE! The Cromcast shares a recording of a panel on REH and gaming held at the 2022 Howard Days: “Howard Days 2022 – Part 1 – The REH Influence on Gaming!”

For this episode, we present the inaugural panel from the event on Friday, June 10th. The panelists provide a history and overview of the many forms of games initiated by the words of Robert E. Howard. Panelists include Joel Bylos, Jason Ray Carney, Bill Cavalier, Matt John, and Fred Malmberg, The panel is moderated by Mark Finn.

(8) IT’S ABOUT TIME. This week’s Open Book on BBC Radio 4 looked at time travel in literature as well as science. Those appearing on the program included authors Emily St. John Mandel and Audrey Niffenegger. You can download the half-hour programme here: “Time and Time Travel with Emily St. John Mandel, Carlo Rovelli and Audrey Niffenegger”.

Johny Pitts presents a special edition of the programme exploring time and time travel in books.

He talks to Emily St. John Mandel, author of the prescient Station Eleven about her latest novel Sea of Tranquilty, which spans past, present and an eerily familiar future.

Theoretical physicist Carlo Rovelli and Audrey Niffenegger, the writer behind bestselling The Time Traveller’s Wife, also join them to discuss how literature has changed our understanding of time. Is scientific stranger than science fiction?

(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY

1975 [By Cat Eldridge.] Yes, Jaws is definitely horror. With Very Big Teeth. Lots Of  Sharp Pointy Ones. Now that we’ve got that Very Important Fact out of the way, let’s talk about it. 

It premiered forty-seven years ago on this date. It was Spielberg’s first major film after directing such things as episodes of Night Gallery, The Name of the Game and Columbo, and the rather excellent Sugarland Express

The screenplay is credited to Peter Benchley which isn’t surprising as it’s based off his novel of the same name which came out the year before. He wrote the first draft here, and actor-writer Carl Gottlieb who’s Harry Meadows here and was Ugly John in M*A*S*H (and I can still picture him in that role), then continuously rewrote the script during principal photography. That must have been an interesting task! 

It had a terrific cast  of Roy Scheider as Chief Martin,  Brody Robert Shaw as Quint as Richard Dreyfuss as Matt Hooper as the studio didn’t get any Really Big Names that they wanted so badly as Speilberg intended, and got what he want, for the “the superstar was gonna be the shark of the film.” Very Big Teeth. Lots Of  Sharp Pointy Ones were the Superstar. Yes, that did make a very good superstar. Well, multiples of these together did, as there were lots of mechanical sharks. They broke down a lot. 

It was the first major motion picture to be shot on the ocean and if something could go wrong, it did. Repeatedly. And of the multitude of mechanical sharks added immensely to the budget woes so the film apparently went four to five million over its eight million budget. Or more. The studio has never actually released accurate production costs.  That really didn’t matter as it made nearly a half billion in its first run at the theatre. Repeat — it made a half billion dollars.

Ok so did the critics think of it? Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times, my favorite critic, said it was “a sensationally effective action picture, a scary thriller that works all the better because it’s populated with characters that have been developed into human beings.” See it possible in such a film to have actual characters, something Spielberg forgets in certain films later. You know the ones with Really Big Reptiles. 

Spielberg had nothing to do with any of the sequels which were made, which for the most part made nowhere near what this did, nor were they liked by the critics. He considered doing the sequel to Jaws but was committed to E.T. so couldn’t. 

This film currently has a ninety percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born June 20, 1897 — Donald Keyhoe. Early pulp writer whose works included the entire contents of all three published issues of the Dr. Yen Sin zine. The novels were The Mystery of the Dragon’s ShadowThe Mystery of the Golden Skull and The Mystery of the Singing Mummies. He would create two pulp characters, one with ESP who was a daredevil pilot and one who was blind that could see none-the-less in the dark. He’s best remembered today for being one of the early believers in UFOs and being very active in that community. (Died 1988.)
  • Born June 20, 1920 — Amos Tutuola. A Nigerian writer who wrote books based in part on Yoruba folk-tales. Though he wrote a number of novels, I think he’s best work is his short stories which are collected in three volumes, Yoruba FolktalesThe Village Witch Doctor & Other Stories and  Don’t Pay Bad for Bad. Brian Eno and David Byrne named their My Life in the Bush of Ghosts album after his second novel. (Died 1997.)
  • Born June 20, 1928 — Martin Landau. I’ve got his first genre role as being on The Twilight Zone as Dan Hotaling in the “Mr. Denton on Doomsday” episode. (Anyone care to contradict that?)  Of course his longest running genre role was as Rollin Hand on Mission Impossible though he had a run also on Space: 1999 as Commander John Koenig. His last role was in Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie voicing Mr. Rzykruski. (Died 2017.)
  • Born June 20, 1947 — Candy Clark, 75. Mary Lou in The Man Who Fell to Earth which of course featured Bowie. She also was in Amityville 3-DStephen King’s Cat’s Eye and The Blob in the role of Francine Hewitt. That’s the remake obviously, not the original. Oh, and she’s Buffy’s mom in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Wiki being Wiki lists that as non-canon because it’s not the Whedon Buffy.
  • Born June 20, 1951 — Tress MacNeille, 71. Voice artist extraordinaire. Favorite roles? Dot Warner on The Animaniacs, herself as the angry anchorwoman in Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, Babs Bunny on Tiny Toons and Hello Nurse on Pinky and The Brain
  • Born June 20, 1968 — Robert Rodriguez, 54. I’ll single out the vastly different Sin City and Spy Kids franchises as his best work, though the From Dusk till Dawn has considerable toothy charms as well. ISFDB notes that he’s written two novels with Chris Roberson riffing off his The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D film, The Day Dreamer and Return to Planet Droll.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) A HONEY OF A CASE. Somehow it didn’t require the skills of a Clarence Darrow, F. Lee Bailey, Erin Brockovich, or Gloria Allred to lead the judges to this highly scientific conclusion: “Bees Are Fish, Affirms California Court”: MSN.com has the story.

… Bees made the federal endangered list in 2017, sure. California, however, has its own endangered list, which sets off its own protections, and its endangered species act uses very specific language. It says that it restricts activity around “any bird, mammal, fish, amphibia, or reptile” that’s been declared endangered. Notice what’s not on that list? Bees, or insects of any kind. We suppose insects were originally considered such a pest that no one thought we would ever need to conserve them, back when this law was written in 1970. That was five years before the feds declared the first endangered insects. 

Luckily for the bees, agricultural groups aren’t the only ones skilled at poking through old laws. Conservationists (a different group from “agricultural groups”—confusing, we know) realized the Fish and Game Code provides a specific definition of “fish.” For a while, this was “wild fish, mollusks, or crustaceans,” but in 1969, they changed it to animals that are “wild fish, mollusk, crustacean, invertebrate, amphibian.” They did this to include stuff like starfish and sea sponges, but they didn’t specify aquatic invertebrates. They just said “invertebrate.” 

Invertebrates are any animals without a spine, a category that happens to include the vast majority of animals on Earth. According to the California Fish and Game Code, bees are therefore fish, as are worms and tarantulas. At the end of last month, a court ruled on the matter and said, yeah, we all know bees aren’t really fish, but that’s what the law says. So bees can be considered fish and treated as endangered after all….

(13) FEED ME! Cat Eldridge will love this one: “Carnivorous plant collector vies for ‘best in show’” on NPR.

… FLORIDO: Fefferman’s personal collection is vast. He keeps the plants on half an acre in Southern California, out in the open air and in greenhouses.

FEFFERMAN: You know, you step in there. It’s nice and humid, and your hair gets frizzy and – but your eyes open wide.

FLORIDO: Floor to ceiling, meat-eating plants on shelves and on suspension lines hanging from the ceiling.

FEFFERMAN: It’s kind of like being fully immersed in a carnivorous jungle.

FLORIDO: Which brings us to this weekend. The Southern California carnivorous plants enthusiasts are holding an expo in Corona del Mar. A lot of people will come to learn about carnivorous plants for the first time. And some people, the diehards like Fefferman, they’re going to bring their best plants to show off and to compete. Fefferman wants to win best in show.

FEFFERMAN: I will be bringing some of my large four-foot sarracenia specimens. I will be bringing some nepenthes that could probably swallow a mouse or a rat given the opportunity. So I’m going to be pulling out some big stuff….

(14) LIGHTER THAN AIR. “Eco-airship contract to launch 1,800 jobs in South Yorkshire” reports the Guardian.

Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV), a small Bedford-based company, announced on Wednesday it had signed a deal to provide a Spanish airline with 10 of its 100-passenger Airlander 10 helium-filled airships….

The aircraft, which the company says will have under a tenth of the CO2 footprint per passenger of jet planes, will be built at a new green aerospace manufacturing cluster in South Yorkshire.

… The airline, which currently operates flights for Iberia, did not state which routes it expected to operate the Airlander. HAV has previously said it expected to fly from Barcelona to Palma de Mallorca in four-and-a-half hours.

HAV, which has in the past attracted funding from Peter Hambro, a founder of Russian goldminer Petropavlovsk, and Iron Maiden frontman Bruce Dickinson, has said its aircraft was “ideally suited to inter-city mobility applications like Liverpool to Belfast and Seattle to Vancouver, which Airlander can service with a tiny fraction of the emissions of current air options”….

(15) CLOSE CALL. The famous Kitt Peak Observatory has been threatened by fire: “Arizona Wildfire Destroys Observatory Buildings” reports the New York Times.

Astronomers watched in fear over the past week as a growing wildfire crept up an Arizona mountainside toward the Kitt Peak National Observatory, forcing 40 people to evacuate days before the blaze destroyed four buildings early Friday morning.

The fire, known as the Contreras fire, has scorched more than 18,000 acres, twisting among Indigenous-populated areas in the state near Tucson, and scientists might not be able to return to the observatory for weeks. But its telescopes, which number in the dozens, remained safe as of Sunday afternoon, officials said, and only the four buildings, which were not used for research, were destroyed.

Firefighters have contained 40 percent of the fire’s perimeter despite the excessive Southwest heat wave slowing their efforts, and, since the fire had not caused extensive damage to the area, the Indigenous community of Pan Tak, which had evacuated, was preparing to return. Fire crews will continue to patrol the area.

(16) REAR VIEW. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Tom Scott explains that when he was a kid he loved the puppet space opera “Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons” whose heroes sat backwards in their car because it was safer.  So he wondered if he could sit backwards in a car and drive it.  He got French engineering firm Sparkmate to build a car for him, and this video (which dropped today) explained what happens when you sit in a car backwards and drive it.

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

Pixel Scroll 6/11/22 In The Beginning There Was Nothing But Rocks. And Then Somebody Scrolled A Pixel

(1) THE FUR IS FLYING. Flayrah’s Tantroo McNally suspects the number of furry fandom’s Ursa Major awards voters who make a dispassionate assessment of quality is being overwhelmed by devoted fans of specific popular franchises and creators that campaign for the award. McNally regards this as a problem, therefore is in search of a solution: “Ursa’s Major Issue – Confident self-promotion vs humble passionate skill, and a voting system’s favoritism”.

Ursa, we may have a problem. Or at least so it may seem. Over the past few years the number of people voting in the furry fandom’s popular choice awards appears to be dwindling once again, despite continual growth and booming attendance at our conventions – COVID aside – revealing the growing audience and community beneath this stagnation.

But if less people in proportion are voting, is there a reason for this? One option may be that the system may be lead to some strange victors based on popularity of a franchise or personality rather than other considerations. But is this just a coincidence or could it be how the system was inadvertently crafted?

This article’s goal is to highlight why the current system is so sensitive to favoring artists who self-promote or whose fans rally on their behalf, at the expense of voters that weigh more toward judging the quality of the pieces nominated without authorship considerations. It will then propose a small change to make it more fair to both types of voters and creators, without stifling out those who show up with a passion for their artist.

Flayrah’s awards coverage post by GreenReaper (Laurence Parry) also criticized those in hot pursuit of awards: “’Shine’, ‘Awoo!’ take 2021 Ursa Major Awards by landslides; K. Garrison wins three”.

…Prior to voting’s close, anonymous commenters disparaged Nightstar’s promotional endeavours, which included visibility hacks such as posting comics as stories. But nobody could fault her for effort, with not only a nominations plug or two… or three, but numerous comic strips ‘desperately’ seeking readers’ votes. Likewise, Shine‘s artist Star sought nomination and invited fans to vote, as did Rocket’s builder Akela Taka. Of course, this approach was not always successful — but to some, even a nomination felt like a victory….

(2) OUSTED FROM THE MOUSE. Kenan Thompson was today’s guest on Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me and one of his questions was about how Harlan Ellison got fired from Disney. And Kenan blew the question, spectacularly! “Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me! — Kenan Thompson”.

Kenan Thompson, the longest-tenured cast member of Saturday Night Live, plays our game about people who only lasted one day on the job. He is joined by panelists Luke Burbank, Negin Farsad and Hari Kondabolu.

(3) SPOCK TO BE REMOVED FROM CANADIAN FIVE DOLLAR BILL. Well, technically he’s never been on it, however quite a few years ago, Lloyd Penney was the first person to show me how easy it is to turn the fellow on Canada’s $5 bill into a likeness of Spock.

Now the time is fast approaching when Wilfrid Laurier will be put out to pasture in favor of one of the shortlisted candidates for the next $5 bank note.

It won’t be William Shatner. He’s Canadian, but he fails the requirement of having been dead for 25 years – fortunately for us.

(4) UP ALL NIGHT. MSN.com sums up “Everything we know about Marvel’s Midnight Suns”.

…As of now, the reveal trailer is all that we have as far as footage for Marvel’s Midnight Suns, and while it has next to nothing in terms of gameplay, we can still learn a lot about what this game will be.

Marvel’s Midnight Suns will be a more supernatural-focused take on the superhero genre and is something like a more magical-focused version of the Avengers, although we obviously see some of the big names from that team here as well, including Iron Man, Dr. Strange, and Captain America. The plotline will be notably darker than other Marvel media, with the main antagonistic force being the spawn of the underworld. Hydra has awoken the Mother of Demons, Lilith, from her long slumber, and she has begun her own quest to summon an even greater evil known as Chthon.

The Avengers turn to the titular team known as the Midnight Suns, made up of heroes with their own supernatural talents, to combat this occult threat. Their first act is to bring out a secret weapon of their own, Lilith’s own child, known as the Hunter, who is the only one to have ever managed to defeat Lilith in the past. It looks, at least from the small bits we’ve seen, to be a fresh perspective for this franchise, and we’re excited to see if it can stick the landing….

(5) ATTENTION, PLEASE. Lisa Tuttle’s latest book recommendations came out in yesterday’s Guardian: “The best recent science fiction and fantasy – review roundup”. Reviews of Ordinary Monsters by JM Miro; In the Heart of Hidden Things by Kit Whitfield; The Sanctuary by Andrew Hunter Murray; The Splendid City by Karen Heuler; and Scattered All Over the Earth by Yoko Tawada.

(6) GUSHING. USA Today reviewer Kelly Lawler seriously, seriously loves For All Mankind, now starting season 3 on Apple TV+. “’For All Mankind’ review: Why Apple TV+ space drama is TV’s best show”.

It’s 1992, and the solar system’s first space hotel is about to open. A woman is running for president. The United States, the Soviet Union and a private corporation are in a three-way race to land astronauts on Mars. 

At least, that’s what’s happening in the 1992 of Apple TV+’s stunning “For All Mankind” (returning Friday, streaming weekly streaming Fridays; ★★★★ out of four) an alternate history drama that imagines the 1960s space race between the U.S. and the USSR never ended. Now in its third season, the series rockets to a Mars-centric version of the 1990s where the timeline is different but still feels a bit like the ’90s we know. 

“Mankind” is the rare series that’s exciting, emotional, tense, dramatic, heartbreaking, elating and infuriating all at once. Some TV shows are good, some are great, and still others remind me why I became a critic in the first place. And in the endless barrage of mediocre series pushed out weekly, “Mankind” stands out, a shining star (or moon or planet) among the replaceable rest….

(7) BEGIN HERE. The Best of Edward M. Lerner was released in May. “A physicist and computer engineer, Edward M. Lerner toiled in the vineyards of high tech for thirty years, as everything from engineer to senior vice president. Then, suitably intoxicated, he began writing full time.”

While you probably know Ed from his SF novels, including the InterstellarNet series and the epic Fleet of Worlds series with Larry Niven, Ed is also a prolific author of acclaimed short fiction. This collection showcases his finest and favorite shorter works.

Faced with the common question of which of his books should someone read first, he has carefully selected these stories to cover his wide range. Now he can answer, “This one!”

Alternate history. Parallel worlds. Future crime. Alien invasion. Alien castaways. Time travel. Quantum intelligence (just don’t call him artificial). A sort-of haunted robot. Deco punk. In this book, you’ll find these—and more—together with Ed’s reminiscences about each selection and its relationship to other stories, novels, and even series that span his writing career.

These are the best, as determined by awards, award nominations, and the selective tastes of eight top editors and choosy Analog readers.

Each excellent story stands alone—you won’t need to have read anything prior—but you’ll surely want to read more of Ed’s books afterwards.

Available at Amazon.com and Amazon.ca.

(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1993 [By Cat Eldridge.] Twenty-nine years ago on this day saw Spielberg taking on Nazis, errr, wrong film. No, this time it was Really Big Reptiles. Jurassic Park premiered launching the beginning of a very, very lucrative franchise. It would indeed be honored with a Hugo at ConAdian the next year suggesting that it a very popular film among y’all.

It’s based on a screenplay by Michael Crichton as co-written by David Koepp off his novel of the same name. It was produced by Kathleen Kennedy and Gerald R. Molen, both of which had long histories with Spielberg. The human cast was extended, so I’ll just single out Richard Attenborough, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, Samuel L. Jackson, Sam Neill and BD Wong here.

Now about those Really Big Reptiles. They were created with a combination of imagery from Industrial Light & Magic and with life-sized animatronic dinosaurs built by Stan Winston’s team. Yes they were life-size! These were Really Big Reptiles. I thought they looked lifelike when I watched it in the theater and I know why they were! Scary looking bastards they were. 

Despite the impressive look of the film, it was actually cheap to produce costing around sixty million dollars. Crichton was smart as he only took a one point five million fee and instead got a guaranteed percentage of the gross, a gross which was over a billion in the end. 

Did the critics like it? Yes for the most part though I thought they rightfully note almost all of them that the human characters came off as, errr, lacking in being real. Peter Travers of the Rolling Stone said that it was a “colossal entertainment—the eye-popping, mind-bending, kick-out-the-jams thrill ride of summer and probably the year” and Roger Ebert in his Chicago Sun-Times review noted that though it’s a great SF film: “the movie is lacking other qualities that it needs even more, such as a sense of awe and wonderment, and strong human story values.” 

May I ask do we really need strong human characters when you’ve got Really Big Reptiles? I think not. 

It went to create quite a franchise. The Lost World: Jurassic Park was next followed by Jurassic Park IIIJurassic WorldJurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, and A sixth film, Jurassic World Dominion, came out this month. Films four and five each grossed over a billion dollars with the other sequels doing well over a half billion. 

It currently holds a ninety-two rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born June 11, 1927 — Kit Pedler. In the Sixties, he became the unofficial scientific adviser to the Doctor Who production team. One of his creations was the Cybermen. He also wrote three scripts — “The Tenth Planet” (co-written with Gerry Davis), “The Moonbase” and “The Tomb of the Cybermen“.  Pedler and Davis went on to create and co-write the Doomwatch series. He wrote a number of genre novel including Mutant 59: The Plastic Eaters (co-written with Gerry Davis) and Doomwatch: The World in Danger. Another one who died much too young, by heart attack. (Died 1981.)
  • Born June 11, 1929 — Charles Beaumont. He is remembered as a writer of Twilight Zone episodes such as “Miniature”, “Person or Persons Unknown”, “Printer’s Devil” and “The Howling Man” but also wrote the screenplays for several films such as Burn, Witch, Burn which was nominated for a Hugo at Discon I (no Award was given that year), 7 Faces of Dr. Lao and The Masque of the Red Death. He also wrote a lot of short stories, so let’s see if there’s digital collections available. Yes, I’m pleased to say, including several by legit publishers. Yea! (Died 1967.)
  • Born June 11, 1933 — Gene Wilder. The first role I saw him play was The Waco Kid in Blazing Saddles. Of course he has more genre roles than that starting out with Willy Wonka in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory followed by the already noted Blazing Saddles and then Dr. Frederick Frankenstein in Young Frankenstein which won a Hugo at the first AussieCon. He was Sigerson Holmes in The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother, a brilliantly weird film whose cast also included Marty Feldman, Madeline Kahn, Dom DeLuise, Roy Kinnear and Leo McKern!  I’ve also got him playing Lord Ravensbane/The Scarecrow in The Scarecrow, a 1972 TV film based based on Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short story, “Feathertop”. (Died 2016.)
  • Born June 11, 1945 — Adrienne Barbeau, 77. Swamp Thing with her is quite pulpy. She’s also in the Carnivale series, a very weird affair that never got wrapped up properly. She provided the voice of Catwoman on Batman: The Animated Series. And she was in both Creepshow and The Fog. Oh and ISFDB lists her as writing two novels, Vampyres of Hollywood (with Michael Scott) and presumably another vampire novel, Love Bites. Anyone here read these? 
  • Born June 11, 1959 — Hugh Laurie, 63. Best known as House to most folks whose series is streaming on Peacock right now and I really should rewatch it. His most recent genre role was as Mycroft Holmes in that wretched Holmes and Watson film. He’s had past genre roles in The Borrowers, the Stuart Little franchise, TomorrowlandBlackadder: Back & Forth and Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased)
  • Born June 11, 1968 — Justina Robson, 54. Author of the excellent Quantum Gravity series which I loved. I’ve not started her Natural History series but have not added it to my digital To Be Read list, so would be interested in hearing from anyone here who has. I was surprised that she hasn’t picked up any Hugo nominations so far, although her work has been up for other awards 18 times.
  • Born June 11, 1971 — P. Djèlí Clark, 51. I’m very much enjoying A Master of Djinn which made my Hugo nominations list this year. It follows his “The Haunting of Tram Car 015” novella and “The Angel of Khan el-Khalili” and “A Dead Djinn in Cairo”, short stories, all set in his Dead Djinn universe. I’ve not read his “Black Drums” novella which garnered a Hugo nomination at Dublin 2019, nor the “Ring Shout” novella which got a Hugo nomination at DisCon III, so I welcome opinions on them. And I see his “The Secret Lives of the Nine Negro Teeth of George Washington” short story also got a 2019 Hugo nomination.  CoNZealand saw “The Haunting of Tram Car 015” pick up a nomination.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Crankshaft gets another superpet joke out of the setup we linked to the other day.

(11) STRETCH GOAL. “More ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’: Sony to Release Extended Cut In Theaters” reports Variety.

Are your spidey senses tingling?

Sony Pictures announced that “Spider-Man: No Way Home — The More Fun Stuff Version,” a cut of the December 2021 Marvel film with added and extended scenes, will hit theaters over Labor Day Weekend.

The news came Friday evening in celebration of 60 years of the Spider-Man comic book character and 20 years of Spider-Man films, along with a teaser featuring a clip from the movie where Tom Holland and previous “Spider-Man” actors Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield unite.

“This is so cool. We should do this again,” says Garfield’s Peter Parker.

“You got it,” Maguire’s Peter replies….

(12) PEDAL TO THE METAL. On the 40th anniversary of E.T., Henry Thomas chats with Ethan Alter of Yahoo! Entertainment on how he filmed that bicycle scene. “’E.T.’ at 40: Henry Thomas explains the movie magic behind the beloved film’s famous flying bike scene”.

It’s a scene that every child of the ’80s knows by heart: Riding through the California wilderness with his extra-terrestrial pal, E.T., riding shotgun — or, more accurately, riding shot-basket — young Elliott’s bicycle lifts off from the forest floor and ascends into the sky until the two are silhouetted against the full moon. That image didn’t just define Steven Spielberg’s 1982 blockbuster — it also became the signature logo for his production company, Amblin Entertainment, gracing hundreds of beloved films and TV series. While that scene defines movie magic for audiences in the theater, for the film’s young star, Henry Thomas, it was just another day on the job….

(13) FOZ DIDN’T DIG IT.  This title tells you what Foz Meadows thinks of the new movie: “I Saw Jurassic World: Dominion So That You Don’t Have To”. BEWARE SPOILERS.

Jurassic World: Dominion is not a good movie. Let’s get that out of the way up top. Given how terrible the first two Jurassic World movies were, I wasn’t expecting it to be, and yet I felt the need to see it anyway, just to make sure. Possibly this coloured my perception of it from the outset, but generally speaking, I’m not a person who purposefully sets out to hatewatch things, as I’d much rather be pleasantly surprised by an okayish film than proven right by a dud. I will, however, spitefinish an aggravating film in order to justify writing about it afterwards, and having sat through all 146 minutes of Dominion – unlike my mother, who walked out of our session and went home after the first five minutes because it was so goddamn loud – I feel the need to save others the time and money of doing likewise….

(14) IF YOU BUILD IT, THEY WILL GET DRUNK. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] I do not want Shoeless Joe crushing the grapes for me. Especially after a full nine innings. “The baseball field in a wine vineyard” at MLB.com.

…It’s there because, well, a guy and his team needed a place to play baseball.

“The field was built in 2002,” Green said. “It was proposed by our vineyard operations manager, Manuel Vallejo, who’s worked for the Ballettos for more than 30 years. Manuel asked [founder] John [Balletto] if they could plow about four acres for a baseball field. He was playing in a community league and his team was having a really hard time finding places to practice.”

During that time, the Balletto family was in the middle of transitioning from a vegetable farm to a winery — so they were already razing old fields and planting new ones. John also thought it would be a good idea, a perk for employees and a fun addition to the property. So, the founder bought his baseball-loving employees the materials needed for construction and then Vallejo and his coworkers began building their vision. It took about a year to finish, and they proudly maintain it to this day. Vallejos’ team is fittingly called Los Uveros or, The Grapers, and they play other community teams on Sundays with practices a couple times per week. Their jerseys are also as cool as you’d imagine….

…”Yeah, all of the sections are marked. Left into center field, we’re growing Pinot Gris,” Green told me. “Right field is Chardonnay. Left field, like foul ground, is mostly Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and there is a little bit of Pinot Noir out there.”…

(15) NORWEGIAN WOOD. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] If they do three Troll movies, will that be a Trollogy?

Deep inside the mountain of Dovre, something gigantic awakens after being trapped for a thousand years. Destroying everything in its path, the creature is fast approaching the capital of Norway. But how do you stop something you thought only existed in Norwegian folklore?

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

2022 MTV Movie & TV Awards

The 2022 MTV & TV Awards were announced in a ceremony aired on June 5.

Genre was heavily represented, including numerous wins by films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Here are the winners of genre interest. The complete list is here.

Best Movie

  • Spider-Man: No Way Home

Best Performance in a Movie

  • Tom Holland, Spider-Man: No Way Home

Best Hero

  • Scarlett Johansson, Black Widow

Best Villain

  • Daniel Radcliffe, The Lost City 

Best Comedic Performance

  • Ryan Reynolds, Free Guy

Breakthrough Performance

  • Sophia Di Martino, Loki

Most Frightened Performance

  • Jenna Ortega, Scream

Best Team

  • Loki, Tom Hiddleston, Sophia Di Martino, Owen Wilson

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy for the story.]