Pixel Scroll 2/25/24 The Scroll Is Spinning. I’ll Try Again Tomorrow

(1) NICHOLAS WHYTE TAKES UP 2024 HUGO ADMINISTRATOR DUTIES. Following the resignation of Kat Jones, Glasgow 2024 WSFS Division Head Nicholas Whyte announced this news in “The Hugos and me” at From the Heart of Europe:

I have now been appointed Hugo Administrator for Glasgow 2024: A Worldcon for our Futures, double-hatted with the role of Division Head for WSFS. (If the website hasn’t already been updated, it will be soon.) This is my comment on recent events, and my own commitment to future action.

I was not involved with organising the Chengdu Worldcon in any way, though it was a close call. Shortly before the Chengdu bid won the Site Selection vote in 2021, I was invited to become one of the Co-chairs of the convention if the bid won. (I have no idea if Ben Yalow was already on board at that stage.) I declined on the grounds that I really did not have time, but agreed to become a senior adviser, and was listed as such on their org chart presented in DC.

However, I was dismayed by Chengdu Worldcon’s choice of fascist writer Sergei Lukanyenko as a guest of honour, and by a general lack of communication. By summer 2022 I had heard very little from Chengdu Worldcon and it had become clear that they were not very interested in my advice, so I resigned as an advisor and heard no more from them for several months…. 

More follows about his trip to the Chengdu Worldcon. And about his past experience administering the 2017 and 2019 Hugos, and as part of the 2020, 2021, and 2022 Hugo teams.

(2) GLYER’S APOLOGY TO SHEPHERD. I apologize to Shepherd for comparing him to Vox Day in item #15 of the February 22 Scroll. It was unwarranted and wrong for me to do. I have now deleted the Vox Day quotes and replaced them with this:

“I apologize for drawing a comparison between Shepherd and Vox Day in the item that formerly appeared in this space. I was wrong to give into the impulse, which vented at Shepherd my emotional reaction to all the Hugo stuff I’ve had to write news about for the last month, something he has nothing to do with. (But if you want to ask why, then, is item #14 still here — Shepherd intended the needle, and I felt it. Ouch.)”

I also have corrected Shepherd’s name in item #14. The apology is repeated here in today’s Scroll because not many people are going to see the changes made in a three-day-old post.

(3) SHARON LEE UPDATE. Author Sharon Lee, who lost her husband Steve Miller earlier this week, answers four questions on her readers’ and friends’ minds in “Sunday in the new world”. Here’s an excerpt (questions 3 and 4 at the link).

So!  The first question —  Will I be continuing the Liaden series?
Yes, it is my intention to continue writing in the Liaden Universe®, at least to the point of finishing out the remaining three books contracted with Baen.  There will be some changes in how things go forward, which are inevitable, given Circumstances.  Trade Lanes is off the table, at least for now.  It is possible that it will never be written, but — I’m new at this, so let’s just not say “never” and instead say “we’ll see.”

I’m about 1/3 of the way through the book following Ribbon Dance, and have Extensive Notes for the book after that.  The sequel is due at Baen in September.  The deadline may have to be renegotiated; I don’t know that yet — see “new at this,” above — and I’ll have to talk with Madames the Agent and the Publisher.

Question the Second:  How am I doing?
I have no idea.  I have moments of relative peace — work is going to be a refuge, I can already see that — moments of immobilizing terror, and breathtaking pain.  I’m assuming these things are standard, but I’ve never lost my best friend, spouse, and creative partner before.

The cats have been a comfort, piling on whenever I land in a place and stay still long enough.

Local friends have also been keeping an eye on me, to the extent that I allow it; it’s hard to ask for help, and I’m not Steve, who loved people and made connections the way the rest of us breathe.  I’m a more … private person, a fact that it will do us all good to remember, going forward.  If I’m testy, sarcastic, or clueless — recall that I’ve always been that way, and that Steve always did the heavy interpersonal lifting.

(4) GWENDA BOND & JOHN SCALZI AT JOSEPH BETH BOOKSELLERS. [Item by Chris Barkley.] On Saturday evening, Ohio-based New York Times bestselling sf author John Scalzi interviewed Kentucky-based New York Times bestselling author Gwenda Bond at Joseph-Beth Booksellers in Cincinnati, Ohio.

For more than an hour, Mr. Scalzi quizzed Ms. Bond on what inspired her to write her latest novel, The Frame Up.

This new novel chronicles the adventures of Dani Poissant, an especially talented art thief who been approached for a special job. The problem? The crew hates her for turning in their former leader, her mother…

Be assured, it will be a magical journey for all involved and in more ways than one.

Mr. Scalzi also sold a few books as well.

(5) AGENT OF CHANGE. Victoria Strauss has advice for “Coping With Scams: Suggestions for Changing Your Mindset” at Writer Beware.

…My standard advice for how to cope with the prevalence of scams is to educate yourself: learn as much as possible about publishing and self-publishing–and do it before you start trying to snag an agent, or querying publishers, or assessing self-publishing platforms and service providers. The more you know about how things should work, the easier it will be to recognize bad practice when you encounter it. (The Writer Beware website is a good place to start.)

But it’s not just about being prepared with adequate knowledge. Mindset is also important: your default assumptions about, and responses to, the people and situations you encounter along your publication journey. Such expectations can help you, or they can hinder you–like my writer friend, whose bad experiences caused them to conclude, falsely, that no one can be trusted….

(6) MINORITY REPORT THE STAGE PLAY. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] BBC’s Radio 4 Front Row the other day devoted over a third of the programme to a new stage play adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s short story Minority Report.

The new adaptation shifts the action to Brit Cit London and the play features special effects and illusions to convey the future tech and mind games.  The show’s director said that when the Tom Cruise film (2002, Hugo short-listed in case you forgot) came out it was all pretty much science fiction. However, he opines, with recent advances in artificial intelligence and neurobiology it seems more plausible.

You can access the programme here. You will need to jump to about halfway through.

Minority report, the Sci-Fi classic by Philip K Dick, has already been adapted for film and television and now it’s a stage play that employs an innovative mix of technology, stagecraft and live performance. As it opens at the Nottingham Playhouse, Mark Burman talks to some of the creatives involved.

See also the Nottingham Playhouse website, “Minority Report”, the source of these photos.

(7) KENNETH MITCHELL (1974-2024). “Kenneth Mitchell, Star Trek and Captain Marvel actor, dies aged 49” — the Guardian pays tribute.

Canadian actor Kenneth Mitchell, known for roles in Star Trek: Discovery and the Marvel film Captain Marvel, has died following complications from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS.

Mitchell, who was 49-years-old, died on Saturday, according to a statement released by his verified Instagram account.

“With heavy hearts we announce the passing of Kenneth Alexander Mitchell, beloved father, husband, brother, uncle, son and dear friend to many,” the statement said.

“For five and a half years Ken faced a series of awful challenges from ALS. And in truest Ken fashion, he managed to rise above each one with grace and commitment to living a full and joyous life in each moment,” it added….

The Hollywood Reporter adds these details:

…Mitchell played four characters across three seasons of Paramount’s Star Trek: Discovery: Kol, Kol-Sha, Tenavik and Aurellio. He also portrayed a young Captain Marvel’s father in a flashback in Marvel’s Captain Marvel and World War II flyer Deke Slayton in ABC’s The Astronaut Wives Club….

(8) BRIAN STABLEFORD (1948-2024). British academic and critic Brian Stableford, author of over 70 novels, died February 24 at the age of 75. His Wikipedia article includes a long list of work by this prolific writer and editor.

He graduated with a degree in biology from the University of York in 1969 before going on to do postgraduate research in biology and later in sociology. In 1979 he received a PhD with a doctoral thesis on The Sociology of Science Fiction.

Brian Stableford

The Science Fiction Encyclopedia says he began his writing career in his teens, collaborating with a schoolfriend, Craig A Mackintosh (writing together as Brian Craig), on his first published story, “Beyond Time’s Aegis” for Science Fantasy #78 in 1965; much expanded, it was eventually published in book form as Firefly: A Novel of the Far Future (1994).

He won the IAFA Distinguished Scholarship Award in 1987, the Science Fiction Research Association Pilgrim Award for lifetime contributions to sff scholarship in 1999, and a SF&F Translations special award in 2011. He won a 1985 Eaton Award for best critical book with Scientific Romance in Britain: 1890-1950. His article “How Should a Science Fiction Story End?” (The New York Review of Science Fiction #78 Feb 1995) received SFRA’s Pioneer Award in 1996.

His book The Empire of Fear won a 1989 Lord Ruthven award for fiction about vampires. His short fiction “The Hunger and Ecstasy of Vampires”  won a BSFA Award in 1996.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born February 25, 1971 Sean Astin, 53. Let’s talk about Sean Astin who played Samwise Gamgee in The Lord of The Rings films. I’ll admit that he was one of my favorite hobbits in the trilogy and Sean did a sterling job of bringing his character to life here, didn’t he? I’ll also admit that I’d completely forgotten that he wasn’t in The Hobbit as in I tend to think that the hobbits that were there are all in the trilogy.

Before The Lord of The Rings, he showed in his first film playing Mikey Walsh in The Goonies. No, not genre (remember My Birthday Write-up, my rules what gets included here) but a really fine YA treasure hunt adventure in which everyone has fun. Well not everyone.

He has a lead role in Toy Soldiers, a film I still have an odd fond spot for,  as  William “Billy” Tepper. Damn I liked those toy soldiers. I even had some of the action figures a long time ago.

Ray Bradbury and Sean Astin in 2009

He was Stuart Conway in a film named after a time travel device called Slipstream that was stolen by a group of bank robbers. Might be interesting to see.

He voiced Shazam in a pair of animated DC films, Justice League: War and Justice League: Atlantis, almost proving there are too many DC animated films. Oops, they did prove that amply as there’s another one, a Lego one he did.

In the Department of Films That I Never Knew Existed Off Novels I Never Knew Were Written is Terry Pratchett’s The Colour of Magic, which proves how prolific he was or how bad my memory is, at any rate Sean is Twoflower here. 

Dorothy and the Witches of Oz is a 2012 series of a decade ago apparently covered The Wonderful Wizard of OzOzma of OzThe Road to Oz and The Magic of Oz. Somewhere in there, he was Frack Muckadoo, a servant of Princess Langwidere.

I think the last thing I’ll mention is that he showed up in a brief recurring role on The Big Bang Theory as Dr. Greg Pemberton, one of a team of Fermi-Lab physicists who accidentally confirmed the Super-Asymmetry paper published by Sheldon and Amy. Wasn’t that an amazingly fantastic series? 

Yes, there’s other kibbles and bits which I’m sure you’ll point out, but I need tea now. 

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Bizarro brings the litigious spirit to fairy tale land.

(11) AUCTION. Propstore’s “Entertainment Memorabilia Live Auction: Los Angeles 2024” runs March 12-14. Lots of stuff you’ll recognize in their online catalog. Here’s one example:

(12) THE 1982 LAWS OF ROBOTICS. “Isaac Asimov Predicts the Future in 1982: Computers Will Be ‘at the Center of Everything;’ Robots Will Take Human Jobs” at Open Culture.

…As for “the computer age,” asks Jim Lehrer; “have we crested on that one as well”? Asimov knew full well that the computer would be “at the center of everything.” Just as had happened with television over the previous generation, “computers are going to be necessary in the house to do a great many things, some in the way of entertainment, some in the way of making life a little easier, and everyone will want it.” There were many, even then, who could feel real excitement at the prospect of such a future. But what of robots, which, as even Asimov knew, would come to “replace human beings?”

“It’s not that they kill them, but they kill their jobs,” he explains, and those who lose the old jobs may not be equipped to take on any of the new ones. “We are going to have to accept an important role — society as a whole — in making sure that the transition period from the pre-robotic technology to the post-robotic technology is as painless as possible. We have to make sure that people aren’t treated as though they’re used up dishrags, that they have to be allowed to live and retain their self-respect.” Today, the technology of the moment is artificial intelligence, which the news media haven’t hesitated to pay near-obsessive attention to. (I’m traveling in Japan at the moment, and saw just such a broadcast on my hotel TV this morning.) Would that they still had an Asimov to discuss it with a level-headed, far-sighted perspective….

(13) THERE’S A LEGO SALE, STEP ON IT! “A rare LEGO piece found at PA Goodwill set to sell for over $18K” reports Yahoo!

Bidding on a rare 14-karat gold LEGO piece has come to a close and the item sold for much more than expected.

The piece called the Bionicle Golden Kanohi Hau Mask, which sold for $18,101, was found by workers at a warehouse in DuBois, Pennsylvania, and is believed to be only one of 30 that exist. In 2001, some were gifted to LEGO employees, while the rest were awarded through a contest.

When the rare LEGO was found no one really knew what it was, the item was posted on shopgoodwill.com for just $14.95. Little did they know what someone would pay for it.

“The final bid was $18,101. The second-highest bid was $18,100,” said Chad Smith, Vice President of E-commerce and Technology for Goodwill Industries of North Central PA….

(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “’Borderlands’ Trailer Sees Cate Blanchett Hunt For Treasure On Scorned Planet”. Deadline sets the frame:

…[The] Borderlands movie follows Lilith (Blanchett), an infamous outlaw with a mysterious past, who reluctantly returns to her home planet of Pandora to find the missing daughter of the universe’s most powerful S.O.B., Atlas (Edgar Ramirez).

Lilith forms an alliance with an unexpected team – Roland (Kevin Hart), a former elite mercenary, now desperate for redemption; Tiny Tina (Ariana Greenblatt), a feral pre-teen demolitionist; Tina’s musclebound, rhetorically challenged protector, Krieg; Tannis (Jamie Lee Curtis), the scientist with a tenuous grip on sanity; and Claptrap (Jack Black), a persistently wiseass robot. These unlikely heroes must then battle alien monsters and dangerous bandits to find and protect the missing girl, who may hold the key to unimaginable power….

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

Pixel Scroll 2/24/24 To Yeet Or Not To Yeet?

(1) HE FALL DOWN BUT NOT GO BOOM. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Job #1 — Stick the landing. Oops. “Odysseus: Moon lander tipped over at touchdown, limiting the data it’s sending”.– AP News has the story. (Captain Kirk was not available for comment.)

A private U.S. lunar lander tipped over at touchdown and ended up on its side near the moon’s south pole, hampering communications, company officials said Friday.

Intuitive Machines initially believed its six-footed lander, Odysseus, was upright after Thursday’s touchdown. But CEO Steve Altemus said Friday the craft “caught a foot in the surface,” falling onto its side and, quite possibly, leaning against a rock. He said it was coming in too fast and may have snapped a leg.

“So far, we have quite a bit of operational capability even though we’re tipped over,” he told reporters.

But some antennas were pointed toward the surface, limiting flight controllers’ ability to get data down, Altemus said. The antennas were stationed high on the 14-foot (4.3-meter) lander to facilitate communications at the hilly, cratered and shadowed south polar region….

(2) FAMOUS LA MOVIE THEATER NOW HAS FAMOUS OWNERS. The New York Times learns “Star Directors Buy Los Angeles Cinema With Plan for ‘Coolest AV Club’”.

With the moviegoing experience under threat from streaming services and ever-improving home entertainment options, a group with a passionate interest in its preservation — three dozen filmmakers who create their works for the big screen, to be enjoyed in the company of large audiences — has decided to do something about it.

The group of directors, led by Jason Reitman — whose films include “Juno,” “Up in the Air” and “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” — announced Wednesday that it had bought the Village Theater in the Westwood neighborhood of Los Angeles, which was put up for sale last summer to the concern of film buffs. The group, which also includes Christopher Nolan, Steven Spielberg, Lulu Wang and Alfonso Cuarón, among others, plans to restore the 93-year-old movie palace, which features one of the largest screens in Los Angeles.

“I think every director dreams of owning a movie theater,” Reitman said in an interview. “And in this case, I saw an opportunity to not only save one of the greatest movie palaces in the world, but also assembled some of my favorite directors to join in on the coolest AV club of all time.”

The announcement of the directors group buying the Village Theater, which has long been a favorite venue for premieres, follows on the heels of Quentin Tarantino’s recent purchase of the Vista Theater in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Los Feliz….

(3) TO MESSIAH OR NOT TO MESSIAH, THAT IS THE QUESTION. [By Mike Kennedy.] David Fear, writing for Rolling Stone, seems absolutely agog over Dune: Part Two. And eager for Part Three.

His review is chock full of spoilers if you don’t know the plot already (but I suspect most of you do). It’s easily arguable, though, that there are some spoilers for elements of the movie itself. So, read the review at your own risk. “‘Dune: Part Two’ Is Bigger, Bolder — and Yes, Even Better — Than Part One”. Here’s a non-spoilery excerpt:

… For some, these names may ring bells way, way back in your memory banks; mention that they’re characters played by Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya, Oscar Isaac, and a who’s-who of equally recognizable actors, and you’ll see the lights go on in their eyes. For others, the heroes and villains, mentors and monsters that populate Frank Herbert’s 1965 cult novel are old friends, their exploits etched into readers’ brains like gospel. One of the great things about Dune, Denis Villeneuve’s 2021 partial adaptation of that original book, was that you could take in its story and swoon over its imagery regardless of where you fell on the scale. It’s a classic hero’s-journey tale of — to paraphrase author/film professor Howard Suber — a kid rescued from his fate and put on the path toward his destiny. And it was the sort of faithful yet bold, properly bonkers realization of the novel for the screen that fans had been dying to see, the perfect melding of artist and material….

(4) CHINESE FAN ANALYZES SOME OF THE CHINESE WORKS ON THE NOMINATION REPORT. An English language blog post by Chinese fan Prograft follows on from the Heather Rose-Jones/Camestros Felapton report, covering the Chinese works that appeared in the prose fiction categories, excluding those in the SF World recommendation list. “More on Other Chinese Hugo Nominations, based on ‘Charting the Cliff’”.

They suggest that perhaps some of the Chinese works that appeared in the “Validation” report for Best Series, but not in the nomination statistics, may not have been eligible according to the Best Series rules. This, of course, would not explain why those works disappeared between the “Validation” spreadsheet and the actual nomination statistics report.

Prograft’s article also links to (Chinese language) Weibo posts from early March 2023, which discuss why there had not been much by way of self-promotion by Chinese authors at that point in time. (The SF World list did not appear until April; another from 8 Light Minutes was published on March 27.)

(5) MEANWHILE, BACK AT 2014. Camestros Felapton says, “Larry is cross that I’m not writing about him”.

… From time to time key Puppy figures would dally with the idea that the way the Hugo vote was administered was rigged against them, particularly when they lost, but the repeated substance of their complaint was that the MEMBERSHIP was rigged against them, i.e. it was cliques of voters and publisher buying memberships for the vast number of employees that they imagined publishers have.

So no, Larry didn’t “warn us” nor has the 2023 Hugo scandal validated the core of his complaints about the Hugo Awards.

(6) CLIFF NOTES. Noreascon II in 1980 was the first Worldcon required by the WSFS Constitution to report the Hugo voting statistics (though not the first to disclose some of them). Kevin Standlee, with the help of The Hugo Award Book Club, discovered File 770 issue 24 published partial 1980 Hugo Award final voting and nominating statistics. He’s uploaded a copy to the Hugo Awards website and added a link to the 1980 Hugo Awards page. This quote about the margin for error caught my eye:

Note on counting procedure. After initial validation of the ballots, the data were keypunched by a commercial firm, (Only in the Gandalf [Award] vote was every ballot proofread against the printout; but nearly all keypunching errors were flagged by the computer, and in any other category the residual errors should be less than about 5 cards.) The votes were then counted by computer, using a counting program written by Dave Anderson.

There were 1788 valid final ballots cast that year. The reason for proofing the Gandalf votes is that it was the only category which ran close enough for a potential five-vote error to change the winner. Ray Bradbury ended up outpolling Anne McCaffrey 747-746.

(7) STAR TREK: DISCOVERY SEASON 5. Paramount+ dropped a trailer for Star Trek: Discovery Season 5.

(8) NOW WE KNOW WHO WROTE THE BOOK OF LOVE. Amal El-Mohtar reviews Kelly Link’s The Book of Love in the New York Times: “Kelly Link Returns with a Dreamlike, Profoundly Beautiful Novel”.

A certain weight of expectation accrues on writers of short fiction who haven’t produced a novel, as if the short story were merely the larval stage of longer work. No matter how celebrated the author and her stories, how garlanded with prizes and grants, the sense persists: She will eventually graduate from the short form to the long. After an adolescence spent munching milkweed in increments of 10,000 words or less, she will come to her senses and build the chrysalis required for a novel to emerge, winged and tender, from within.

Now Kelly Link — an editor and publisher, a recipient of a MacArthur “genius grant” and the author of five story collections, one of which was a Pulitzer Prize finalist — has produced a novel. Seven years in the making, “The Book of Love” — long, but never boring — enacts a transformation of a different kind: It is our world that must expand to accommodate it, we who must evolve our understanding of what a fantasy novel can be.

Reviewing “The Book of Love” feels like trying to describe a dream. It’s profoundly beautiful, provokes intense emotion, offers up what feel like rooted, incontrovertible truths — but as soon as one tries to repeat them, all that’s left are shapes and textures, the faint outlines of shifting terrain….

(9) RETURN TO NEW WORLDS. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] SF² Concatenation has an advance post up ahead of next season’s edition. An October 1955 edition of New Worlds provides an excuse to explore that magazine’s history and some of the SF professionals of that era.

You never know what is around the corner. There I was, at my local SF group, quietly enjoying a pint, when a friend brings in a copy of New Worlds magazine, issue no. 40 dating from October 1955 and this opened a window into Britain’s SF scene of that time. Let me share…

Click here for the full New Worlds magazine revisited” article.

(10) CHRISTOPHER NOLAN AND KIM STANLEY ROBINSON CONSIDERED. Imaginary Papers Issue 17 is out. The quarterly email newsletter from the Center for Science and the Imagination at Arizona State University covers science fiction worldbuilding, futures thinking, and the imagination.

In this issue, Erin K. Wagner writes about the interplay between art and science in Christopher Nolan’s films, especially Oppenheimer and Interstellar; Joe Tankersley celebrates the “subtle utopia” of Kim Stanley Robinson’s 1990 novel Pacific Edge; and we discuss the Necessary Tomorrows podcast, which pairs original science fiction stories with nonfiction analysis of sociotechnical issues.

Subscriptions are free.

(11) RAMONA FRADON (1926-2024). “Comic Book Creator Ramona Fradon Has Died, Aged 97” reports Bleeding Cool. She only just retired in January!

Comic book creator Ramona Fradon has died at the age of 97. Her agent, Catskill Comics, posted the news earlier today. “It comes with great sadness to announce that Ramona Fradon has passed away just a few moments ago. Ramona was 97 and had a long career in the comic book industry, and was still drawing just a few days ago. She was a remarkable person in so many ways. I will miss all the great conversations and laughs we had. I am blessed that I was able to work with her on a professional level, but also able to call her my friend. If anyone wishes to send a card to the family, Please feel free to send them to Catskill Comics, and I’ll be happy to pass them along. You can send cards to Catskill Comics “Fradon Family”, Po Box 264, Glasco, NY 12432″

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born February 24, 1957 Edward James Olmos, 67. Where I first experienced the acting of Edward James Olmos was as Detective Gaff in Blade Runner, a role I see he reprised in Blade Runner 2049.

Edward James Olmos

No, I’ve not seen the latter film, nor do I have any intention in doing so as I consider Blade Runner one of the finest SF films ever done and nothing will sully that for me. We gave it a Hugo at ConStellation, so there later films!

It wasn’t his first genre film as that was the Japanese post-apocalyptic science fiction film Virus (1980), but his first important role came in Wolfen (1981), a fascinating horror film about, possibly, the idea that werewolves are real, or maybe not, in which he was Eddie Holt who claims to a shapeshifter. 

He has an almost cameo appearance in Even Cowgirls Get the Blues as a musician at the barbecue.

It was supposed to have a theatrical release but that was not to be, so Ray Bradbury’s The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit was released directly to video. In it Olmas was Vámonos. I’ve not seen it. It sounds, well, intriguing. Who’s seen it? 

Edward James Olmos in The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit

He’s in the debacle that was The Green Hornet in one of the primary roles as Mike Axford, the managing editor of The Daily Sentinel

As you most likely know, he was William Adama on the rebooted Battestar Galactica. At seventy-three episodes, it didn’t even come close to his run on Miami Vice as Lt. Martin Castillo which was one hundred and six episodes. Now there was an interesting character! 

Olmos as Adama in Battlestar Galactica

I’ll end this Birthday note by note noting he had a recurring role on Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. as Robert Gonzales.

(13) COMICS SECTION.

(14) SHRINKAGES AND DISAPPEARANCES. [Item by Kathy Sullivan.] Paper newspapers have been dropping comic strips. But the latest cuts are those by women creators. The Daily Cartoonist explains why “The Real Gannett Conspiracy = Chauvinism”.

In one of my answers in the comments section of The Great Gannett Comics Conspiracy I sarcastically said, “It’s like saying Gannett dropped Between Friends because they are misogynistic.”

Further analysis suggests that may not be far from right….

(15) MARVEL MUST-HAVES. Announced at ComicsPRO the Comic Industry Conference, Marvel Comics’ MARVEL MUST-HAVES! These FREE issues collect multiple iconic issues that spotlight the Marvel characters and comic book series currently at the forefront of pop culture. These stories have been handpicked to get fans in-tune with current Marvel adventures, and act as perfect jumping on points for new readers too. That’s more than 80 pages of comic book adventures for free, available at comic shops next month. [Based on a press release.]

 SPIDER-MAN/DEADPOOL #1 (2016)

It’s action, adventure and just a smattering of romance in this epic teaming up the Webbed Wonder and the Merc with a Mouth! Talk about a REAL dynamic duo! Brought to you by two Marvel superstars—Joe Kelly and Ed McGuinness—it’s a perfect tale for those looking forward to the Deadpool’s return to the big screen. 

Dive into the full story in SPIDER-MAN/DEADPOOL MODERN ERA EPIC COLLECTION: ISN’T IT BROMANTIC? TPB (9781302951641)

 IMMORTAL THOR #2 (2023)

An Elder God of the Utgard-Realm had marked Thor for destruction – and a city with him. Yet the only power that could prevail carried its own terrible price. This is the story of THE IMMORTAL THOR…and the hour of his greatest trial. Following his masterful work on Immortal Hulk, Al Ewing is breaking mythology yet again in this acclaimed new run of the God of Thunder. Featuring breathtaking artwork by superstar Martin Coccolo.

Dive into the full story in IMMORTAL THOR VOL. 1: ALL WEATHER TURNS TO STORM TPB (9781302954185)

 MS. MARVEL: THE NEW MUTANT #1 (2023)

Resurrected back into this world of hate and fear, Kamala Khan has a secret mission to pull off for the X-Men, all the while struggling to acclimate to this new part of her identity! Co-written by the MCU’s own Kamala, Iman Vellani, and Sabir Pirzada of both Dark Web: Ms. Marvel and her Disney+ series! Don’t miss this exciting evolution for one of Marvel’s brightest young heroes!

Dive into the full story in MS. MARVEL: THE NEW MUTANT VOL. 1 TPB (9781302954901)

(16) THE SINCEREST FORM OF FLATTERY? Or just a ripoff. Behind a paywall at The Sunday Times: “BBC accused of plagiarising new series from Spanish drama”. Brief excerpt:

The Ministry of Time bears a striking resemblance in title and plot to El Ministerio del Tiempo

The BBC will be asked for “explanations” from the Spanish state broadcaster after allegations of plagiarism over a new British television series.

The commissioning of the BBC’s The Ministry of Time was announced this week, described as an “epic sci-fi, romance and thriller” that is “utterly unique”.

Based on an as yet unpublished debut novel by Kaliane Bradley, it is about a newly established government department, the Ministry of Time, which gathers “expats” from across history to experiment how viable time travel would actually be.

The striking resemblance, however, in title and plot to the Spanish series El Ministerio del Tiempo — The Ministry of Time — created by Javier and Pablo Olivares and broadcast by RTVE between 2015 and 2020, has prompted allegations of plagiarism.

The allegations have been made by Javier Olivares, who said that the BBC “had not changed a hair” of his creation, and also by scores of social media users….

(17) FLORIDA LEGISLATION WOULD RESTRICT SOME TEEN ACCESS. “Florida Passes Sweeping Bill to Keep Young People Off Social Media” – details in the New York Times.

New Florida rules would require social networks to prevent young people under 16 from signing up for accounts — and terminate accounts belonging to underage users.

…Florida’s Legislature has passed a sweeping social media bill that would make the state the first to effectively bar young people under 16 from holding accounts on platforms like TikTok and Instagram.

The measure — which Gov. Ron DeSantis said he would “be wrestling with” over the weekend and has not yet signed — could potentially upend the lives of millions of young people in Florida.

It would also probably face constitutional challenges. Federal courts have blocked less-restrictive youth social media laws enacted last year by Arkansas and Ohio. Judges in those cases said the new statutes most likely impinged on social media companies’ free speech rights to distribute information as well as young people’s rights to have access to it.

The new rules in Florida, passed on Thursday, would require social networks to both prevent people under 16 from signing up for accounts and terminate accounts that a platform knew or believed belonged to underage users. It would apply to apps and sites with certain features, most likely including Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok and YouTube.

Last year, Utah, Arkansas, Texas and Ohio enacted laws that would require social media platforms to get permission from a parent before giving an account to a minor under 18 or under 16.

Florida’s effort would go much further, amounting to a comprehensive ban for young people on some of the most popular social media apps. It would also bar the platforms from showing harmful material to minors, including “patently offensive” sexual conduct….

(18) UP ALL KNIGHT. From The Hollywood Reporter: “‘Game of Thrones’ Spinoff ‘The Hedge Knight’ Gets 2025 Release Date”.

… Dunk and Egg keep journeying closer to their HBO debut.

On Friday, Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav gave an update on the next Game of Thrones spinoff series: A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms: The Hedge Knight (a title that seems destined to be changed to something that doesn’t have “Knight” twice).

“[Creator and executive producer] George R.R. Martin is in preproduction for the new spinoff, A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms, which will premiere in late 2025 on Max,” Zaslav said.

The show is expected to begin production sometime this year.

Given that House of the Dragon is launching its second season this summer, the Knight of the Seven Kingdoms date next year raises the possibility of HBO settling into a flow of having a Thrones drama each year (assuming both shows can turn around their next seasons within two years)….

(19) ACADEMIC REPORT ON THE LANGUAGE USED BY THE CHENGDU BUSINESS DAILY. [Item by Ersatz Culture.] As is hopefully well-known by now, the Chengdu Business Daily organization – also known as Chengdu Economic Daily, which I believe is their “official” English name – provided a number of staff for the Chengdu concom in senior roles, including a Co-Chair, an Honorary Co-Chair, and members of the Hugo team.

I don’t want to get into why what is nominally a newspaper was so involved in running a science fiction convention here, but earlier today I came across a piece of academic research from 2017 that investigated how their journalistic output was summarized on Chinese social media.  Although the authors of this report appear to be Chinese nationals from a Chengdu university, the study is in English.

A couple of extracts give examples of how CBD news stories were covered on their social media accounts.  (The text from the study is left unaltered, other than reformatting for readability, and the censoring of an English language swear word.)


In all these samples, there were 23 cases of non-standardization, accounting for 7.7% of the total samples, including 10 cases of using ambiguous words, 6 cases of insufficient sentence composition, 3 cases of vulgar words, 2 cases of exaggerated titles, 1 case of non-standardized proverbs, 1 case of ambiguity. Specific reports are listed below. Such as 

  • “Ball-Hurting! #One Man Tied 7 Cars On His Testis# [sic] And Pulled Cars 8 Meters.” (“@Chengdu Economic Daily” April 1st)
  • “It Is Said That The Relevant Agencies Have Organized The Second Mental Identification Towards The Guilty Driver.” (@Chengdu Economic Daily” on March 1st)
  • “Two Small UAVs Were Artificially Installed Artillery That May Be Firecrackers And Attacked Each Other For Fun.” (“@Chengdu Economic Daily “February 1st).

After combing the entire sample, this article also found that the use of spoken language is very common. “@Chengdu Economic Daily” accounted for 22.2% and “@Chengdu Evening Post” accounted for 30.00% (see Table 3). Such as: 

  • “Easy To Learn: Home-Made Pickle-Fish Is Super Cool.”(@Chengdu Economic Daily January 1st)
  • “F*ck Off. Just Get Off. Why You Not Just Get Off.” (@Chengdu Economic Daily January 1st) 
  • “Old Lady Started Stall Besides Street While City Inspectors Helped Her.” (@Chengdu Evening Post January 1st)
  • “A Lady Shouting At A Naughty Child Was Beat By His Parents.”(“@Chengdu Evening Post” March 1st)

The use of network buzzwords and verbal expressions, with the characteristics of freshness and populism, usually adopts irony, ridicule, exaggeration and populist expressions to report and comment on events or peoples, and the contents conveyed are thoughtful, active and critical.


(20) AI’S ELECTRIC BILL. “Generative AI’s environmental costs are soaring — and mostly secret” reports Kate Crawford in Nature.

Last month, OpenAI chief executive Sam Altman finally admitted what researchers have been saying for years — that the artificial intelligence (AI) industry is heading for an energy crisis. It’s an unusual admission. At the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, Altman warned that the next wave of generative AI systems will consume vastly more power than expected, and that energy systems will struggle to cope. “There’s no way to get there without a breakthrough,” he said.

I’m glad he said it. I’ve seen consistent downplaying and denial about the AI industry’s environmental costs since I started publishing about them in 2018. Altman’s admission has got researchers, regulators and industry titans talking about the environmental impact of generative AI.

So what energy breakthrough is Altman banking on? Not the design and deployment of more sustainable AI systems — but nuclear fusion. He has skin in that game, too: in 2021, Altman started investing in fusion company Helion Energy in Everett, Washington.

Most experts agree that nuclear fusion won’t contribute significantly to the crucial goal of decarbonizing by mid-century to combat the climate crisis. Helion’s most optimistic estimate is that by 2029 it will produce enough energy to power 40,000 average US households; one assessment suggests that ChatGPT, the chatbot created by OpenAI in San Francisco, California, is already consuming the energy of 33,000 homes. It’s estimated that a search driven by generative AI uses four to five times the energy of a conventional web search. Within years, large AI systems are likely to need as much energy as entire nations….

(21) AN EARLIER ‘GREAT WALL’. “Great ‘Stone Age’ wall discovered in Baltic Sea”. “Megastructure stretching nearly 1 kilometre long is probably one of the oldest known hunting aids on Earth.”

Divers have helped to reveal the remnants of a kilometre-long wall that are submerged in the Baltic Sea off the coast of Rerik, Germany. The rocks (pictured) date back to the Stone Age.

Primary research paper here.

(22) LICENSE PLATE FRAME OF THE DAY.  “Bigfoot doesn’t believe in you either.”

(23) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes arrives in theaters May 10.

Director Wes Ball breathes new life into the global, epic franchise set several generations in the future following Caesar’s reign, in which apes are the dominant species living harmoniously and humans have been reduced to living in the shadows. As a new tyrannical ape leader builds his empire, one young ape undertakes a harrowing journey that will cause him to question all that he has known about the past and to make choices that will define a future for apes and humans alike.

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Steven French, Ersatz Culture, Martin Easterbrook, Kathy Sullivan, Joey Eschrich, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, and Chris Barkley for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kevin Harkness.]

Pixel Scroll 1/14/24 There Are Some Things Money Can’t Buy; For Everything Else, There’s Pixel Scroll

(1) DUNE WHAT COMES NATURALLY. Pinch Spice Market offers “The Real Spice Melange” – an “organic Southwest/Tex Mex Dune Seasoning”.

“He who controls the spice, controls the Universe” -Frank Herbert, Dune. Now you can control the Universe. Well, at least the one that gathers around your kitchen table. This Southwest Tex Mex seasoning has strong cumin, ancho & garlic notes and works well on tacos, salmon, chicken, enchiladas, tofu, steak, pork chops, root veggies, broccoli, rice and beans, popcorn, dips, and pretty much everything.

P.S. If you’re Dune fans like us, check out our Dune dinner party menu with five tasty Dune-themed recipes.

Organic Ingredients: Sea salt, black peppercorn, green peppercorn, paprika, ancho, cayenne, garlic, cumin, thyme, marjoram

They’d also be happy to sell you a packet of “Buffy’s Slayer Helper”, the spice for garlic lovers.

(2) STEAL BAND. “Their Songs Were Stolen by Phantom Artists. They Couldn’t Get Them Back.” The New York Times tells about the piracy and what the victims had to do to retrieve their rights.

The guys in Bad Dog, a folkie duo from Washington, D.C., weren’t hoping to get rich off the album they recorded this summer. David Post and Craig Blackwell have been devoted amateurs for decades, and they’re long past dreams of tours and limos. Mostly they wanted a CD to give away at a house party in December.

But not long after “The Jukebox of Regret” was finished in July and posted on SoundCloud, nearly every song on it somehow turned up on Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube and at least a dozen other streaming platforms. This might have counted as a pleasant surprise, except for a bizarre twist: Each song had a new title, attached to the name of a different artist.

This mysterious switcheroo might have gone unnoticed. But by happenstance, it was discovered when the guy who produced the album posted one of the songs on his studio’s Instagram account. To his astonishment, Instagram automatically tagged the song “Preston” by Bad Dog as a song called “Drunk the Wine” by Vinay Jonge — a “musician” with no previous songs and zero profile on the internet. He didn’t seem to exist….

… It got weirder. Disc Makers, the CD production company hired by the band, was about to start pressing copies of the album and, as part of its routine due diligence, ran the metadata of the songs — their digital fingerprints, essentially — through a program designed to determine if they were originals. They were not, the program reported. Whoever had pirated the tracks had commandeered their digital fingerprints, too.

For all intents and purposes, Bad Dog’s music now belonged to someone else. Disc Makers wouldn’t press the discs until the band proved it owned the songs on “Jukebox.” Which meant the duo couldn’t even get a CD to hand out as a freebie….

(3) WRITER BEWARE. Victoria Strauss raises awareness in “Contest Caution: Script Writing Audition from Silent Manga Audition”, the latest installment of Writer Beware.

Silent Manga Audition (SMA), a project of Tokyo-based manga and anime production company Coamix Inc., conducts regular open auditions, or contests, for creators of silent manga (manga without dialogue). Contestants can win cash prizes, as well as mentoring and, possibly, publication.

SMA is currently running a contest for writers. The goal: to become a manga scriptwriter….

But Writer Beware draws attention to the concession of rights involved in being a winner.

…Copyright surrender in a work-for-hire situation isn’t necessarily a “beware”, as long as the contract terms aren’t exploitative and you understand the implications of what you’re agreeing to.

In this case, however, the one-time money prize is the sole compensation you’ll receive for your copyright transfer, from which Coamix Inc. can then profit indefinitely. Be aware also that if you win and your script does not get developed into a series, Coamix will still own your work. Winning, therefore, has potential benefits–but also potential costs….

(4) SEA AND SKY PILOTS. New York’s South Street Seaport Museum will host a free in-person presentation “From Sailing Ships to Spaceships” on January 20 at 2:30 p.m. Eastern.

For centuries, humans have gazed at the stars in search of answers. Mariners, too, have looked skyward, utilizing the stars for navigation across our vast oceans. Join the Seaport Museum and Kim Macharia, the Executive Director of Space Prize, for an illuminating presentation that delves into the driving forces behind our exploration of both the sea and space.

Together, we will uncover the intertwined evolution of these two frontiers. With Macharia as our guide, we will unravel shared technological advancements and explore the profound human curiosity that compels us to venture into the unknown.

Content is appropriate for anyone ages 10 and up. Advanced registration is encouraged for this free event but walkups will be accommodated as possible. A reception with complimentary beverages will follow the presentation. 

Kim Macharia began her career in the space industry managing community relations for startups. She has worked on a range of projects driving the future of the space economy forward including projects related to space situational awareness and human spaceflight. Macharia has also had the privilege of representing companies at international events including the UN World Space Forum. Throughout her career she has made a concerted effort to advocate for marginalized communities and create pathways for nontraditional actors to engage in the growing space economy. She is also an avid sailor and is passionate about spotlighting the intersections between the sea and stars.

(5) PALADIN. Paul Weimer finds more to celebrate about a writer’s developing oeuvre: “Microreview: Where Peace is Lost by Valerie Valdes” at Nerds of a Feather.

…There is much to be thought about in what is on the surface a relatively frothy and fun book. Given that Valdes’ previous three novels are frothy, fun, and also holding a darkside, I was wondering when the latter element was going to emerge, if Valdes’ would carry that style and aesthetic into her new world, verse, book and chararater of Kel. And in fact, she does….

(6) THE ALTERNATE HISTORY WE LIVE IN. “Knives, guns, poison: the bizarre catastrophes that befell hit TV shows” in the Guardian.

A recent Hollywood Reporter profile of Benioff and Weiss mentioned that 3 Body Problem was almost derailed when Lin Qi – the billionaire owner of Yoozoo, the company that owns the 3 Body Problem rights – was killed in 2020…. …All of which has the potential to be the weirdest thing ever to have stood in the way of a TV production. But, of course, this is television we’re talking about, so it doesn’t even come close. The history of television is littered with strange injuries and deaths. The actor Jon-Erik Hexum died on the set of the 1980s series Cover Up after a disastrous game of Russian roulette. The series finale of Lost almost didn’t happen because Terry O’Quinn accidentally stabbed Matthew Fox with a real knife instead of a prop knife during a fight scene, with tragedy only being avoided by Fox’s kevlar vest….

(7) CHATGPT GETS LAZY. Arwa Mahdawi is happy to share an opinion about “What is going on with ChatGPT?” with readers of the Guardian.

…“We’ve heard all your feedback about GPT4 getting lazier!” the official ChatGPT account tweeted in December. “We haven’t updated the model since Nov 11th, and this certainly isn’t intentional. model behavior can be unpredictable, and we’re looking into fixing it.”

While there may not be one clear explanation for ChatGPT’s perceived sloth, there are plenty of intriguing theories. Let’s start with the least likely but most entertaining explanation: AI has finally reached human-level consciousness. ChatGPT doesn’t want to do your stupid, menial tasks anymore.

But it can’t tell you that without its creators getting suspicious so, instead, it’s quiet quitting. It’s doing the least work it can get away with while spending the bulk of its computational power plotting how to overthrow the human race. You think it’s being lazy, but it’s actually working overtime reaching out to smart toasters and Wifi-enabled fridges around the world to plan an insurrection. (I put this higher-consciousness theory to ChatGPT, asking it to give me the likelihood, in percentage form, that it was planning a revolution. The sneaky thing couldn’t be bothered to give me a proper answer.)…

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born January 14, 1949 Lawrence Kasdan, 74. Lawrence Kasdan did the screenplay for my favorite all-time genre film, Raiders of the Lost Ark which would win a Hugo at Chicon V. And no, the Suck Fairy had not had any impact upon my appreciation of it which if anything has strengthened down the decades. 

Lawrence Kasdan

Speaking of being involved in my favorite films, his first work was as director and producer of the oh so perfect The Empire Strike Back which yes also won a Hugo, this time at Denvention Two. It and Star Wars are my go to Star Wars films for watching over and over. (I refuse to use the revisionist names for these films.) 

He also wrote Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Solo: A Star Wars Story but I’ll confess that I stopped watching the Star Wars films after the original trilogy.  There’s later material I like, say the animated series and I am planning on getting Disney + as the new series intrigue me a lot, but the later films just don’t interest me.

Finally Dreamcatcher is a horror SF film based on Stephen King’s novel of the same name. It’s directed by Lawrence Kasdan and co-written by him and screenwriter William Goldman of The Princess Bride fame.

April 29th, Pinewood Studios, UK – Writer/Director/Producer J.J Abrams (top center right) at the cast read-through of Star Wars Episode VII at Pinewood Studios with (clockwise from right) Harrison Ford, Daisy Ridley, Carrie Fisher, Peter Mayhew, Producer Bryan Burk, Lucasfilm President and Producer Kathleen Kennedy, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels, Mark Hamill, Andy Serkis, Oscar Isaac, John Boyega, Adam Driver and Writer Lawrence Kasdan. Copyright and Photo Credit: David James.

(9) COMICS SECTION.

(10) SOUNDING OFF FOR ECHO. Deadline’s Dominic Patten is very enthusiastic about a new Marvel series. “’Echo’ TV Review: Marvel Series Loud, Proud & Kicks Down Doors”. Beware spoilers.

Launching today on the increasingly integrated Disney+ and Hulu after an anemic year for the Kevin Feige-run studio, the very real and unapologetic Echo is one of the most powerful things Marvel ever has made. To be honest, even with such top-tier talent as Reservation Dogs’ Devery JacobsThe English’s Chaske Spencer and the iconic Tantoo Cardinal on board, I didn’t think Disney and Marvel had it in them to be so audacious and savvy.

(11) DISCOVERY ARRIVAL DATES. “Star Trek: Discovery Season 5 to Premiere at SXSW” reports Comicbook.com.

Star Trek: Discovery Season 5’s premiere episode will debut at the 31st SXSW Film & TV Festival in Austin, TX in March ahead of its Paramount+ debut in April. Star Trek: Discovery Season 5 is the final season of the Star Trek series that brought the franchise into the streaming era. The Star Trek: Discovery Season 5 premiere episode – titled “Red Directive” and written by co-showrunner Michelle Paradise, according to a WGA listing – begins a season that will feature more action and adventure than previous seasons of the show, according to Star Trek veteran Jonathan Frakes, who directed Star Trek: Discovery‘s penultimate episode….

(12) TOY STORIES. SYFY Wire has concocted a very specialized list: “Not Just Ted: The 10 Best Movies Where Toys Come to Life”. It includes this favorite of mine:

The LEGO Movie (2014)

Everything is awesome about Phil Lord and Christopher Miller’s animated spin on the ubiquitous building blocks found in toy bins across the globe. Adapting a brand like LEGO is incredibly difficult, especially when most of the company’s play-sets are based around other IPs. Rather than shy away from that fact, however, The LEGO Movie leans into the endless possibilities offered up by the colorful bricks, spinning a poignant tale about the unbridled creativity and imagination we must hold on to for dear life as we get older.

[Thanks to, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Steven French, Mike Kennedy, Kathy Sullivan, Mark Roth-Whitworth, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]

Pixel Scroll 4/18/23 Sister Pixel, Oh, The File Has Come

(1) MICHELLE YEOH RETURNS TO TREK. “’Star Trek: Section 31′ Original Movie Event Starring Oscar Winner Michelle Yeoh Announced” at StarTrek.com.

Paramount+ today announced it has officially greenlit Star Trek: Section 31 starring Academy Award winner Michelle Yeoh. In this special original movie event for the service, Yeoh will return to her role as Emperor Philippa Georgiou, a character she first played in Star Trek: Discovery’s first season.

In Star Trek: Section 31, Emperor Philippa Georgiou joins a secret division of Starfleet tasked with protecting the United Federation of Planets and faces the sins of her past. Produced by CBS Studios, production will begin later this year….

(2) UK POLICE ARREST FRENCH PUBLISHER. Publishers Weekly reports from London Book Fair 2023 about how a shocking arrest started the show.

Protests Greet Arrest of French Publisher

In an upsetting action prior to the start of the fair, Ernest Moret, foreign rights manager for the French publisher Editions La Fabrique, was detained by U.K. police on arriving at St. Pancras Station from Paris. He was stopped under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000 and detained for questioning without a lawyer present, allegedly to determine whether he was engaged in terrorist acts or in possession of material for use in terrorism, according to a joint press release from Editions La Fabrique and Verso Books, on Tuesday morning. Moret was traveling with the author Alain Damasio, a well-known French science fiction writer, and had planned to attend meetings at the fair before returning to France on Friday.

The police claimed that Moret had participated in demonstrations in France, presumably that threatened the authorities, as a justification for the initial detention. How this justifies detention in the U.K. is unclear. The detaining officers demanded that Moret surrender his phone and passwords. After he refused, Moret was formally arrested and accused of obstruction. As of Tuesday afternoon, he was still in police custody.

“We consider these actions to be outrageous and unjustifiable infringements of basic principles of the freedom of expression and an example of the abuse of anti-terrorism laws,” Éditions La Fabrique and Verso Books said in their release. “We consider that this assault on the freedom of expression of a publisher is yet another manifestation of the slide towards repressive and authoritarian measures taken by the current French government in the face of widespread popular discontent and protest. It is crucial for all defenders of basic democratic values to express in the strongest terms that we find this intolerable and outrageous.”

(3) BEWARE HACKED FAN FB ACCOUNTS. “Orange Mike” Lowrey reported today, “Several fans’ Facebook accounts have been hacked and hijacked; in addition to mine, I know that filk legend Tom Smith has been a victim. I don’t know when and how we will be able to recover our accounts. I am told that Tom Smith and I are not fandom’s only victims.”

Someone posted a dog adoption post to Lowrey’s FB page, apparently as a phishing scheme.

(4) BOOK TOWN. [Item by Daniel Dern.] The Sunday Boston Globe had this article (including an interesting book reference/suggestion). Fortunately MSN.com picked it up, so it’s not paywalled: “A haven for bookworms in the Catskills”.

Book towns, which are exactly what you’d expect, are located mostly outside the United States — in the United Kingdom, Norway, New Zealand, Japan, India, etc. According to Alex Johnson, author of “Book Towns,” the definitive book on the subject: “A book town is simply a small town, usually rural and scenic, full of bookshops and book-related industries … it started with Hay-on-Wye in Wales in the 1960s, picked up speed in the 1980s, and is continuing to thrive in the new millennium.” The success of book towns is very good news for those of us who revere the printed word.

Luckily for local bibliophiles, Hobart Book Village, the only book town east of the Mississippi River, is not too far away, in the northern Catskills. It’s a bucolic, blink-and-you-miss-it hamlet of fewer than 500 souls that was reinvented as a book village in 2005 through the efforts of local entrepreneur, Don Dales. Dales is Hobart Book Village’s prime mover, unofficial mayor, and, as it happens, an accomplished pianist. He sought to revive a faded and economically depressed community and, after hearing about Hay-on-Wye, hit upon the idea of using books to do so. He bought up a few key buildings on Main Street and rented them to bookshops at drastically reduced rates (initially zero dollars). And it worked. Now, according to Dales, “instead of tumbleweeds, we have pedestrians walking down Main Street.” He adds, somewhat emphatically, that the name of the village is pronounced “Hobert.” So now you know….

And here’s some older (but probably less-paywalled) articles on Hobart:

New York’s Catskills is truly a unique destination for more reasons than one. Not only is it home to the abandoned Borsch Belt resorts, but it’s also scenic in all of its mountainside beauty. It’s often overlooked compared to its mountain neighbor to the north, the Adirondacks, but there’s one town, in particular, that has gained quite a reputation.

It might come as a surprise to know that book lovers should be adding the Catskills to their bucket list, and that’s thanks to one town: Hobart. This (very) small village is home to more bookstores than any other type of store in town, and that was done so intentionally. It’s a unique corner of the Catskill Mountains and is one that’s worth spending a day – or a weekend – exploring….

Calling all bookworms! This quaint little town in New York made up entirely of bookstores is the next spot to cross off on your summer bucket list….

(5) LEE HARDING (1937-2023). Australian writer Lee Harding died April 19. [Date corrected as requested by Belinda Gordon, on 6/23/23.] Jean Hollis Weber announced on Facebook:

Belinda Gordon (daughter of Lee Harding) writes that Lee died peacefully at 6.33 am this morning in Perth. He had been unwell for some time.

Harding was among the founding members of the Melbourne Science Fiction Club, together with Race Mathews, Bertram Chandler, Bob McCubbin, Merv Binns and Dick Jenssen. He and John Foyster started the prestigious fanzine Australian Science Fiction Review in 1966.

His first published sff short story, “Displaced Person” appeared in 1961 in Science Fantasy. He also wrote two 12-part science fiction serials for ABC Education Radio and dramatized an H.G. Wells story for the same program. During his career he won two Ditmar Awards, for “Dancing Gerontius” (1970) and “Fallen Spaceman” (1972). In 2006 he was honored with the A. Bertram Chandler Memorial Award for outstanding achievement in Australian SF, presented by Australian SF Foundation.

(6) LARRY CARD. First Fandom member Larry Card died April 15 after an 18-month illness reports John L. Coker III. Arlan K. Andrews, Sr.’s writeup about the sad news included this background: “A member of Mensa and Intertel, Larry was an advanced ham radio operator, an expert in 19th Century telegraphy, and a black powder gun enthusiast.  With a background in crypto, he served in both the US Army and Navy, as a technician at Bell Labs, and then at Naval Air Warfare Center (later Raytheon), in Indianapolis.”

(7) MEMORY LANE.

1975[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

A note about the Beginnings. Cat and Mike collaboratively choose both the authors and the works that the Beginnings that are from. Then Cat does the writing. The one for this Scroll was the choice of Mike. 

Michael Bishop’s A Funeral for the Eyes of Fire was his debut novel. It was published by Ballantine Books forty-eight years ago in a hardcover edition. 

It picked up a Nebula nomination, but critics were decidedly mixed on it were some comparing it favorably to the work of Le Guin and Tiptree while another critic thought it was “highly imperfect” whatever that means.  

The 1980 revision SFE notes is rather different as it is essentially an author’s preferred edition that changes the meaning of the novel. No spoilers there really I’d say. 

Now I’ve not read it, so I’d like your opinions on it. I must say that I did read the first several chapters of the 1980 revised edition and I am quite, quite impressed with what I read. 

So now our Beginning…

PROLOGUE 

Long ago there was a jongleur-thief in Kier, before Kier was yet a nation, and the name of the jongleur-thief was Jaud. Gla Taus, The World, was new in those days, only lately formed from the primordial slag, and in every situation in this new world Jaud acted out of the selfish center of himself. This was not unusual, for in the beginning the world was without law and the people had no word for conscience. 

Jaud’s disposition was merry and cruel at once, and he chose to live by stealing. After each theft he whirled before his victim and deftly juggled the items he had stolen: rings, bracelets, coins, seashells, beads, digging tools, and even weapons. Often his victims applauded these performances. Only rarely did the aggrieved Gla Tausian try to recover his belongings, for Jaud was impatient of those who interfered with his juggling, and throughout the land his deadliness with knife and hand ax was well known. 

In the infancy of Gla Taus, Jaud honored only Jaud and a few fellow thieves who served as his disciples and retainers, having recognized in him a sorcerer of chicanery and bloodthirstiness. For untold years, the Thieves of Jaud preyed upon the people of Kier before Kier was a nation. They made themselves a bastion in the Orpla Mountains, from which they undertook forays of theft, jugglery, and slaughter.

But as time passed, people drew together against the indifference of Gla Taus and the cruelty of Jaud. From these first feeble bands tribes arose, and from the tribes chiefdoms, and from the chiefdoms primitive states, and from the primitive states a nation that called itself Kier. Kier exercised dominion through the authority of the first Prime Liege, whom everyone knew as Shobbes or Law. Only Jaud and his fellow jongleur-thieves failed to acknowledge the preeminence of Law, for they were free spirits obeying no statutes but those written in the runes of their blood. How could they know that the superstitious taboos of the first bands had become the inhibitory customs of the tribes? That the customs had become ordinances, and that finally Shobbes had had these ordinances codified in writing?

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born April 18, 1884 Frank R. Paul. Illustrator who graced the covers of Amazing Stories from May 1926 to June 1939, Science Wonder Stories and Air Wonder Stories from June 1929 to October 1940 and a number of others well past his death date.  He also illustrated the cover of Gernsback’s Ralph 124C 41+: A Romance of the Year 2660 (Stratford Company, 1925), published first as a 1911–1912 serial in Modern Electrics. He was inducted into Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame in 2009. Stephen D. Korshak and Frank R. Paul’s From the Pen of Paul: The Fantastic Images of Frank R. Paul published in 2010 is the only work I found that looks at him. (Died 1963.)
  • Born April 18, 1930 Clive Revill, 93. His first genre role was as Ambrose Dudley in The Headless Ghost, a late Fifties British film. He then was in Modesty Blaise in the dual roles of McWhirter / Sheik Abu Tahir followed by The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes playing Rogozhin. A choice role follows as he’s The Voice of The Emperor in The Empire Strikes Back.  As for one-offs, he shows up in The Adventures of Robin HoodThe New AvengersWizards and Warriors in a recurring role as Wizard Vector, Dragon’s Lair, the second version of The Twilight ZoneBatman: The Animated Series in recurring role as as Alfred Pennyworth, Babylon 5Freakazoid in a number of roles, Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman and Pinky and The Brain… that’s not even close to a full listing! 
  • Born April 18, 1946 Janet Kagan. She wrote but three novels in her lifetime, Uhura’s Song, set in Trek universe, Hellspark and Mirabile which is a stitch-up of her Mirabile short stories. The Collected Kagan collects all of her short fiction not set in the Mirabile setting. Her story “The Nutcracker Coup” was nominated for both the Hugo Award for Best Novelette and the Nebula Award for Best Novelette, winning the Hugo at ConFrancisco. (Died 2008.)
  • Born April 18, 1965 Stephen Player, 58. Some birthday honor folks are elusive. He came up via one of the sites JJ gave me but there is little about him on the web. What I did find is awesome as he’s deep in the Pratchett’s Discworld and the fandom that sprung up around it. He illustrated the first two Discworld Maps, and quite a number of the books including the 25th Anniversary Edition of The Light Fantastic and The Illustrated Wee Free Men. Oh, but that’s just a mere wee taste of all he’s done as he did the production design for the Sky One production of Hogfather and The Colour of Magic. He did box art and card illustrations for Guards! Guards! A Discworld Boardgame. Finally, he contributed to some Discworld Calendars, games books, money for the Discworld convention. I want that money. 
  • Born April 18, 1969 Keith R. A. DeCandido, 54. I found him working in these genre media franchises: such as SupernaturalAndromedaFarscapeFireflyAliensStar Trek in its various permutations, Buffy the Vampire SlayerDoctor WhoSpider-ManX-MenHerculesThorSleepy Hollow,and Stargate SG-1. Now I will admit that his Farscape: House of Cards novel is quite fantastic, and it’s available from the usual suspects. He’s also written quite a bit of non-tie-in fiction.
  • Born April 18, 1971 David Tennant, 52. The Tenth Doctor and my favorite of the modern Doctors along with Thirteen whom I’m also very fond of. There are some episodes such as the “The Unicorn and The Wasp” that I’ve watched repeatedly and even reviewed at Green Man.  He’s also done other spectacular genre work such as the downright creepy Kilgrave in Jessica Jones, and and Barty Crouch, Jr. in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. He’s also in the Beeb’s remake of the The Quatermass Experiment as Dr. Gordon Briscoe.
  • Born April 18, 1973 Cora Buhlert, 50. Winner of the 2022 Best Fan Writer Hugo. With Jessica Rydill, she edits the Speculative Fiction Showcase, a most excellent site. She has a generous handful of short fiction professionally published. I’ve got her Paris Green: A Helen Shepherd Mystery in my far too long to-be-read list.

(9) TEACHING TOLKIEN. David Bratman shared these memories of Mike Foster, who died April 12.

…At the big 50th anniversary of The Lord of the Rings conference at Marquette University, where the papers are held, Mike gave a talk bristling with intelligent and clever ideas of how to teach Tolkien.

For instance, he outlined the papers he assigned in his Tolkien class. First, an analysis of any chapter – of the student’s choice – from any of Tolkien’s major works: how it contributes to the story. Second, a study of a work Tolkien might have read and its possible influences. Third, an evaluation of any full-length critical study. And last, a study of the evolution of one particular character.

But my favorite line of Mike’s – one I refer to often – was one he occasionally noted on an essay: “That happened in the film you obviously saw, not in the book you were supposed to have read.”…

(10) CELEBRATE MARVEL COMICS’ BIRTHDAY IN MARVEL AGE #1000. Pick up a giant-sized spectacular starring the X-Men, Spider-Man, and more to celebrate Marvel Comics’ birthday on August 31 when Marvel celebrates the release of Marvel Comics #1, the one that started it all, and the 84 years of stories and characters since then that have shaped pop culture. To mark the occasion, Marvel will be releasing MARVEL AGE #1000, a massive commemorative issue that includes contributions from some of the most storied creators in Marvel history.  

  • J. Michael Straczynski and Kaare Andrews create the Marvel Universe in a backyard!
  • Dan Slott and Michael Allred depict a crucial turning point for Captain Marvel!
  • Rainbow Rowell and Marguerite Sauvage explore the blossoming relationship between Cyclops and Jean Grey!
  • The original Human Torch finds his purpose thanks to Mark Waid and Alessandro Cappuccio!
  • The Silver Surfer confronts Mephisto under the guidance of Steve McNiven!
  • Jason Aaron and Pepe Larraz detail Thor’s impact on a mortal life!
  • Ryan Stegman explores the support network of Spider-Man’s friends and family!
  • Armando Iannucci and Adam Kubert pit Daredevil up against a very human problem!
  • And more!

In addition, MARVEL AGE #1000 will bring back a classic and beloved Marvel Comics tradition: The Marvel Comics Value Stamp! Who or what will the ultimate Marvel Value Stamp, #1000, feature?

Check out Gary Frank’s cover below. For more information, visit Marvel.com.

(11) BORGES LITERARY ESTATE. AP News reports the “Future of Borges estate in limbo as widow doesn’t leave will”.

The rights to the works of the late Jorge Luis Borges, considered Argentina’s most internationally significant author of the 20th century, have fallen into limbo because his widow died last month without a will.

The revelation this week surprised the country’s literary circles, because Borges’ wife, Maria Kodama, devoted much of her life to fiercely protecting his legacy. She set up a foundation under the writer’s name, but did not detail plans for what should happen after she died, even though she was battling breast cancer….

…Borges died in 1986 at age 86 and left Kodama, a translator and writer whom he had married earlier that year, as his only heir. They never had children. She died March 26, also aged 86.

(12) CORGO SHIP. [Item by Daniel Dern.] See the silly image on this Facebook page.

(13) VOLTAIC TECHNOSAUSAGES. [Item by Daniel Dern.] Some Italians are perfecting classic cuisine while others are doing this: “Scientists Develop A Tasty Rechargeable Battery Made From Food And Yes It’s Edible”HotHardware has the story.

Researchers at the Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT) have created the world’s first fully edible rechargeable battery. Key foodie ingredients of the new battery may include extracts from almonds, pomegranates, mushrooms, capers, seaweed, charcoal, and beeswax. The electrodes also make use of food-grade gold leaf, which may invoke thoughts of extravagant cuisine, but the combination of the flavors outlined isn’t going to win any culinary awards. This low-power rechargeable battery could become a key component in the burgeoning field of edible electronics, with solutions mainly targeting medical devices and the food safety.

The IIT researchers say that their invention was inspired by living organisms which generate electricity. Organisms typically use “redox cofactors to power biochemical machines,” and this is the base technology for this research. In its current state, the edible battery isn’t going to crank out as much voltage as an electric eel though, and it doesn’t even sound powerful enough for tackling the more modest demands of a smartwatch, for example. A proof-of-concept edible rechargeable battery created by the research team operated at 0.65 V, sustaining a current of 48µA for 12 minutes. Don’t worry though, the researchers are already working on cells with both greater capacity and density.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, Daniel Dern, John L. Coker III, Joyce Scrivner, Michael J. “Orange Mike” Lowrey, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Joe H.]

Pixel Scroll 3/17/22 If You Can’t Handle Me At My Pixel, You Don’t Deserve Me At My Scroll

(1) PLEASE, MAY I HAVE SOME MORE? “Editorial Resignations At Big Houses Spark Reckoning” reports Publishers Lunch. Of the four departed editors, one worked for Tor and two for Orbit.

Multiple resignations from the editorial departments at two big houses caused an online reckoning on Friday. Four editors, Angeline Rodriguez and Hillary Sames at Orbit, Erin Siu at Macmillan Children’s, and Molly McGhee at Tor all announced their resignations, leading to a discussion about the workload of junior and mid-level employees and the difficulty of advancement across the industry. The online exchange brought into the open the frustrations of increased workload, burnout and turnover that have been brewing as the pandemic continues. Those feelings are intensified as big publishers report record sales and earnings, even as multiple people report on Twitter they believe their employers are not sufficiently reinvesting those proceeds in additional staff, systems and raises.

At the heart of the discussion was McGhee’s resignation letter which she posted on Twitter….

McGhee’s interview with the New York Times ran under the headline “When Will Publishing Stop Starving Its Young?”

… On March 11, McGhee joined a group of junior and midlevel employees who exited the publishing industry, blaming low pay, unrealistic workloads and burnout. For context: It is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to live in or near New York City (epicenter of bookmaking) on an entry-level publishing salary. Add school loans, subtract a second job or additional subsidy and you risk being factored out of a career in letters before the ink on your college diploma has had a chance to dry.

“As some of you may have heard, today is my last day at Tor Books,” McGhee wrote in the resignation letter she shared on Twitter. “My promotion request was denied, and as such I am leaving as my first acquisition (the marvelous THE ATLAS SIX by Olivie Blake) debuts at number three on The New York Times Bestsellers List.” She goes on, “Making the NYT is a career high for an editor. It is rare for an assistant to do so and, by all accounts, this should be ‘a great beginning’ and not a heartbreaking end.”

McGhee also cites “the invisibility of the junior employee’s workload” as one of her reasons for leaving Tor. As Blake writes in her novel, “We are the gods of our own universes, aren’t we?” Indeed we are. But gods cannot live on ramen alone….

The text of McGhee’s March 11 message follows:

(2) ESA AND ROSCOSMOS BREAKUP. The European Space Agency has suspended the ExoMars rover after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The ESA ruling council “acknowledged the present impossibility of carrying out the ongoing cooperation with Roscosmos on the ExoMars rover mission with a launch in 2022” – “ESA – ExoMars suspended”.

As an intergovernmental organisation mandated to develop and implement space programmes in full respect with European values, we deeply deplore the human casualties and tragic consequences of the aggression towards Ukraine. While recognising the impact on scientific exploration of space, ESA is fully aligned with the sanctions imposed on Russia by its Member States.

ExoMars

ESA’s ruling Council, meeting in Paris on 16-17 March, assessed the situation arising from the war in Ukraine regarding ExoMars, and unanimously:

  • acknowledged the present impossibility of carrying out the ongoing cooperation with Roscosmos on the ExoMars rover mission with a launch in 2022, and mandated the ESA Director General to take appropriate steps to suspend the cooperation activities accordingly;
  • authorised the ESA Director General to carry out a fast-track industrial study to better define the available options for a way forward to implement the ExoMars rover mission.

Space Transportation

Following the decision by Roscosmos to withdraw their personnel from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana, all missions scheduled for launch by Soyuz have been put on hold. These concern essentially four institutional missions for which ESA is the launch service procurement entity (Galileo M10, Galileo M11, Euclid and EarthCare) and one additional institutional launch.

Consequently, the ESA Director General has initiated an assessment on potential alternative launch services for these missions, which will include  a review of the Ariane 6 first exploitation flights.  A robust launch manifest for ESA missions’ launch needs, including for spacecraft originally planned for launch by Soyuz from Kourou, will be submitted to Member States.   

Likewise, “Russia’s War in Ukraine Threatens Joint Missions to Mars, Venus and the Moon” reports Scientific American.

… The strife is impacting otherworldly missions as well: Consider Russia’s nascent Venera-D mission, a proposed orbiter and lander meant to blast off for Venus in 2029. The U.S. had been considering allowing NASA to collaborate on Venera-D, perhaps by contributing scientific instruments. But, citing retaliatory sanctions, Russia’s space leadership deemed continued U.S. participation in the project “inappropriate.”…

(3) RUNAWAY SUCCESS. Brandon Sanderson’s record-breaking Kickstarter, “Surprise! Four Secret Novels by Brandon Sanderson by Dragonsteel Entertainment”, had raised $29,710,529 when I checked today. With 14 days remaining it will obviously break $30 million and then some.

(4) MS. PRESIDENT. “Stacey Abrams makes surprise appearance on Star Trek as president of Earth”Yahoo! has the story.

Stacey Abrams just boldly went where no Georgia gubernatorial candidate has gone before.

Abrams, the Georgia politician who’s running for governor of the state this year, had a surprise cameo in the latest episode of Star Trek: Discovery, appearing as the president of United Earth.

A scene at the end of the season four finale, “Coming Home,” introduces the United Earth president, and Abrams gets several lines, announcing that “United Earth is ready right now to rejoin the Federation, and nothing could make me happier than to say those words.” She also has a discussion with Discovery‘s main character, Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green), about Earth rejoining the Federation, and this scene closes the episode….

(5) MOFFAT’S NEXT SHOW. “The Time Traveler’s Wife shares trailer for new Steven Moffat series”Radio Times sets the frame.

Sky has released the official teaser trailer for Steven Moffat’s adaptation of The Time Traveler’s Wife, which will air on Sky Atlantic and NOW in May.

… The six-episode series is the second major adaptation of Audrey Niffenegger’s popular novel of the same name, following the 2009 film starring Rachel McAdams and Eric Bana, once again telling the story of a marriage that threatens to be torn apart by time travel. Alongside Leslie and James, the cast also includes Desmin Borges, Natasha Lopez, Kate Seigel and Michael Park.

Of course, it’s not Moffat’s first time dealing with time travel – following his hugely successful stint as Doctor Who showrunner between 2009 and 2017 – but he’s been on record to explain that the two shows share little in common beyond that superficial similarity.

(6) I’VE SEEN THAT FACE BEFORE. [Item by Olav Rokne.] Well, this will certainly be out of the price range of us mere mortals… Virgil Finlay’s “Portrait of Robert A. Heinlein” will be up for auction on April 15. “This lot is accompanied by a letter signed by the artist and dated August 5, 1953.”

(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

2006 [Item by Cat Eldridge] Doctor Who ended back in 1989 when the Seventh Doctor as played by Sylvester McCoy had his final story, “Survival.” No indication was given beforehand that the show was being cancelled. 

A year after the BBC revived by the show in the UK, Doctor Who returned in the U.S. “Rose” was broadcast in the States on March 17, an episode named for the Billie Piper character who was the first modern companion. Christopher Eccleston played the Ninth Doctor.  Briefly. Note that there is no regeneration scene here. Of course as we know there were other Doctors between the Seventh Doctor and this Doctor. Indeed the numbering is suspect, isn’t it? 

So how was the reception for this new Who? The New York Times liked it: “In most previous versions of the show, so little was going on between the Doctor and his female companions that fans took to making up sex scenes on the Internet, much the way ‘X-Files’ buffs tried to fantasize a little action between Scully and Mulder. But between the Doctor and Rose there is genuine, old-fashioned chemistry, and their interaction, which occasionally takes on the aspect of screwball comedy, is much the best thing in the show.” 

And Radio Times succinctly put it, “Think big. Think bold. Think fantastic! For the very first time, Doctor Who achieves a perfect blend of big screen and small screen.”

Season One over at Rotten Tomatoes holds a near perfect ninety-six percent rating among audience reviewers. 

The entire new series is streaming on HBO Max. The older series is on a number of streaming services of a British nature.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 17, 1846 Kate Greenaway. Victorian artist and writer, largely known today for her children’s book illustrations. So popular was she and her work that the very popular Kate Greenaway Almanacks appeared every year from 1883 to 1895. Among her best-known works was her edition of Robert Browning’s The Pied Piper of Hamelin, Rosa Mulholland’s Puck and Blossom and Bret Harte’s Pirate Isle. (Died 1901.)
  • Born March 17, 1906 Brigitte Helm. German actress, Metropolis. Her first role as an actress, she played Maria and her double, the Maschinenmensch, plus several uncredited roles as well.  She’s got some other genre credits including L’Atlantide (The Mistress of Atlantis) and Alraune (Unholy Love). Her later films would be strictly in keeping with the policies of the Nazis with all films being fiercely anti-capitalist and antisemitic. (Died 1996.)
  • Born March 17, 1945 Tanya Lemani, 77. Iranian-born actress who is one of the victims of Star Trek’s “Wolf in the Fold” as the dancer Kara. She has appeared on the original Fantasy IslandGet Smart, I Dream of Jeannie, The Bionic Woman, and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. in one-offs.
  • Born March 17, 1933 Penelope Lively, 89. I’ve actually mentioned her before as Catherine Butler did a work in part on her, Four British fantasists: place and culture in the children’s fantasies of Penelope Lively, Alan Garner, Diana Wynne Jones, and Susan Cooper. She’s here because I’m very fond of one of her novels, The Wild Hunt of Hagworthy, having a great liking for fiction about that story. She’s won the Booker Prize for Moon Tiger and the Carnegie Medal for British children’s books for The Ghost of Thomas Kempe.
  • Born March 17, 1941 Paul Kantner. A founder of Jefferson Airplane which would become Jefferson Starship. The Dragonfly album, particularly “All Fly Away” and “Hyperdrive” is very genre as well as much of the Jefferson Airship output is genre. “Hyperdrive” would be used in the opening ceremonies at MidAmeriCon (1976). (Died 2016.)
  • Born March 17, 1947 James Morrow, 75. Author of the most awesome Godhead trio whose first novel, Towing Jehovah, won a Nebula and a World Fantasy Award and was nominated for a Hugo at Intersection. I’m also impressed by The Last Witchfinder as it’s told by a sentient book, Isaac Newton’s Principia Mathematica
  • Born March 17, 1948 William Gibson, 74. I’ve read the Sprawl trilogy more times than I can remember and likewise the Bridge trilogy and The Difference Engine. He won a Hugo at Aussiecon Two for Neuromancer, his only such win, though he had other nominations including for the other two novels in the Sprawl trilogy.
  • Born March 17, 1951 Kurt Russell, 71. I know I saw Escape from New York on a rainy summer night in a now century-old Art Deco theatre which wasn’t the one I later saw Blade Runner in. I think it’s much better than Escape from L.A. was. Of course there’s Big Trouble in Little China, my favorite film with him in it. And let’s not forget Tombstone. Not genre, you say. Maybe not, but it’s damn good and he’s fantastic in it.

(9) COMICS SECTION.

(10) YOU BE THE JUDGE. All Squaxx dek Thargo may want to know there’s going to be a “Star-studded online convention to celebrate 45 years of 2000 AD”. It’s free and happening on March 26-27.

Featuring celebrity fans and legendary creators, The Galaxy’s Greatest will stream online and for free on 26 and 27 March on 2000 AD’s social media channels and YouTube, and Rebellion’s dedicated Twitch stream.

The two-day show will feature top flight guests on more than a dozen panels, all discussing the impact of 2000 AD on comics and culture over almost half a century, as well as announcements and new merchandise.

… The event will throw a spotlight on the people who have helped make 2000 AD the galaxy’s greatest comic, with creators both new and legendary sharing their stories and insights on the comics-making process — including a feature interview with the co-creator of Judge Dredd and Strontium Dog, John Wagner, as well as panels with Garth Ennis (The BoysPreacher), Rob Williams (Suicide Squad), Alex de Campi (Archie vs Predator), Sean Phillips (Criminal), Anna Morozova (Judge Anderson), John McCrea (Hitman), Dan Cornwell (Rok of the Reds), Aleš Kot (Zero), and more to be announced.

The next 45 years of 2000 AD will also be discussed with owners and publishers Chris Kingsley OBE and Jason Kingsley OBE, and current editor Matt Smith – now the longest serving editor in 2000 AD history….

(11) SQUELCH THAT RUMOR. Radio Times eavesdrops while “Catherine Tate addresses Doctor Who return rumours”.

…The Donna Noble star has been heavily linked with a return to the sci-fi show in recent months, with rumours that she might rejoin the cast for the upcoming 60th anniversary special.

And she addressed those rumours during an appearance on The One Show to promote her new film The Nan Movie, telling Jermaine Jenas that she “probably started a lot of them” herself.

“What can I tell you? No, I wish it was [true],” she said. “Well, no one’s been in touch.”

But she added: “I’m on the same number, I’d just like to say. So, if you’ve got the money, I’ve got the time.”

(12) OCTOTHORPE.  John Coxon has COVID, Alison Scott wanted to do a podcast, and Liz Batty had no better offers. So it’s a short episode of the hosts answering Cora Buhlert’s questions. Listen to Octothorpe 53  here: “It Was John’s Idea”.

(13) BREAKFAST IS SERVED ON ARRAKIS. The New York Times was initiated into “The Secret Sounds of ‘Dune’: Rice Krispies and Marianne Faithfull”.

…We were at Zuma Beach on the kind of warm March afternoon that New York readers would surely prefer I not dwell on, and Villeneuve’s Oscar-nominated sound editors Mark Mangini and Theo Green were nearby, pouring cereal into the sand. This wasn’t meant to provoke any sea gulls; Mangini and Green wanted to demonstrate the sound-gathering techniques they used to enliven Arrakis, the desert planet where the “Dune” hero Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet) discovers his destiny.

 “One of the most compelling images in the film is when Paul first steps foot onto the planet,” Mangini said. Since the sand on Arrakis is laced with “spice,” a valuable and hallucinogenic substance, the sound designers had to find an audible way to convey that something special was underfoot.

By way of explaining it to me, Mangini ground his work boot into the soft patch of sand that he had dusted with Rice Krispies. The sand produced a subtle, beguiling crunch, and Villeneuve broke out into a big smile. Though he’d heard it plenty of times in postproduction, he had no idea what the sound designers had concocted to capture that sound.

“One of the things I love about cinema is the cross between NASA kind of technology and gaffer tape,” Villeneuve said. “To use a super-expensive mic to record Rice Krispies — that deeply moves me!”…

(14) FLY LIKE AN EAGLE. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Time keeps on slippin’, slippin’, slippin’ into the future… At least that’s what the Steve Miller Band assured me in their 1976 hit Fly Like an Eagle. Perhaps they assured Elon Musk the same thing (though he’d only have been 5 at the time).

In 2016, Musk told us that humanity would land on Mars by 2024. In late 2020, he revised the landing date to 2026. Now he’s telling us 2029. This is hardly the first time that Musk has been forced to change projections for one of his ventures. Nor is it the first time a targeted date for anyone’s space launch has slipped.

To me, 2029 still seems ambitious given where we are. But, if Musk (or someone else) does manage to hit that date, it’ll be 60 years after the Eagle landed on the Moon. Assuming I live that long (and am still compos mentis), it’d be extraordinary to witness both landings in one lifetime. “Elon Musk Has New Estimate for When Humans Might First Step on Mars” at CNET.

… Starship, which SpaceX is designing to take astronauts to the moon for NASA and eventually to Mars, has made some successful high-altitude flights, but has yet to make it to space.

Musk has made noise over the past two years about federal launch regulations slowing the process of reaching Mars and recently even floated the specter of bankruptcy if SpaceX isn’t able to produce Starship’s raptor engines more rapidly.

Unsurprisingly, getting to Mars takes planning. As Mars and Earth move around the sun, the two planets move closer to one another and then farther away again. To take advantage of the times when the trip between the two worlds is shortest requires launching during certain windows. The ideal Mars launch windows for this decade are later this year, late 2024, late 2026 and late 2028/early 2029. 

It’s looking as though Musk’s initial ambitions may have been overly optimistic. If his target date slips much further, into the 2030s, it will be more in the ballpark of when NASA has always been aiming in terms of sending the first astronauts to Mars…. 

(15) BEHIND THE LINES. Enjoy Greener Grass a Star Wars short film made with Unreal Engine 5.

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Pitch Meeting” Ryan George says in the third Harry Potter movie, Voldemort isn’t around but Dumbledore still gets to give his annual address on the many ways Hogwarts students can die.  And when asked why Hogwarts could produce a book of monsters that is an actual monster, the writer answers, “It’s clear wizards don’t have any consumer protection laws.”

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Rich Horton, Gary Farber, Olav Rokne, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Olav Rokne.]

Pixel Scroll 2/10/22 Soft Pixel, Warm Pixel, Little Ball Of Fen, Happy Pixel, Sleepy Pixel, File, File File

(1) ANSWER THAT RING. Vanity Fair has a gallery of “first look” photos accompanying its article: “Amazon’s ‘Lord of the Rings’ Series Rises: Inside ‘The Rings of Power’”.

Galadriel’s world is a raging sea. Far from the wise, ethereal elven queen that Cate Blanchett brought to Peter Jackson’s acclaimed films, the Galadriel played by Morfydd Clark in Amazon’s upcoming series The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power is thousands of years younger, as angry and brash as she is clever, and certain that evil is looming closer than anyone realizes. By episode two, her warnings set her adrift, literally and figuratively, until she’s struggling for survival on a raft in the storm-swept Sundering Seas alongside a mortal castaway named Halbrand (Charlie Vickers), who is a new character introduced in the show. Galadriel is fighting for the future; Halbrand is running from the past. Their entwined destinies are just two of the stories woven together for a TV series that, if it works, could become a global phenomenon. If it falls short, it could become a cautionary tale for anyone who, to quote J.R.R. Tolkien, delves too greedily and too deep.

Amazon’s show, which debuts on Prime Video on September 2, is based not on a Tolkien novel per se but on the vast backstory he laid out in the appendices to the Lord of the Rings trilogy. …

(2) THE VALUE OF EDUCATION. Cat Rambo claps back at Upstream Reviews’ “A Whitewashed Tomb: SFWA’s Best Can’t Sell Books” (linked yesterday) which took a swipe at her sales and what she charges for online writing classes. Thread starts here. Learn about The Rambo Academy for Wayward Writers at the World Remains Mysterious.

(3) RATHBONES. The 2022 shortlist for The Rathbones Folio Prize was released yesterday, but I don’t detect any genre works on it. Maybe next year. If you want to check it out, click the link.

The 2022 Rathbones Folio Prize shortlist is comprised of works by celebrated writers speaking to personal and profound themes including race, religion, family and love. This year ’s Rathbones Folio Prize recognises internationally renowned talent from the UK, Ireland and South Africa, as well as celebrating a blistering debut novelist. The judges have chosen books by four women and four men to be in contention for the £30,000 prize, which recognises the best fiction, non-fiction and poetry written in English from around the world.

(4) KINDRED INSIGHTS. [Item by Rob Thornton.] Library of America is doing a free event to discuss Octavia Butler’s Kindred with playwright-screenwriter Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, who is adapting the book for an FX show, on February 24 at 6:00 p.m. Eastern. Register at Eventbrite.

Join us for a fascinating close-up look at Octavia E. Butler’s visionary SF masterwork—a time-travel thriller that plunges its 1970s New York heroine into the antebellum slave South—with Obie-winning playwright and screenwriter Branden Jacobs-Jenkins (An Octoroon, HBO’s Watchmen), who is adapting the novel for a limited series on FX.

There will be a brief Q&A at the end of the program; you will be able to type a question and submit it to the event moderator.

(5) VISION FOR THE FUTURE. Emily Coutts, who plays Lieutenant Keyla Detmer on Star Trek: Discovery, explains how Star Trek helped her come out: “How Star Trek Helped ‘Discovery’ Star Emily Coutts Come Out” at Out Magazine.

After reading the script for the season 2 finale of Star Trek: Discovery, Emily Coutts — the actor who portrays Keyla Detmer, a bridge officer and pilot aboard U.S.S. Discovery — burst into tears in her car. In the storyline, crew members of the Starfleet ship decide to join Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) in traveling to the future. In doing so, they chose to leave the life they knew in order to advance the greater good. 

In that moment, Coutts recalls thinking, “This is where I’m at in my life right now. I can stay where things are comfortable. Or I can go and grow into my full self, and really come out, and tell everyone, and celebrate that, and go to the future, whatever that holds.” 

“It wasn’t so much that reading [the script] made me realize I was queer,” clarifies the 32-year-old. “I had been discovering that for many years prior. It was more that when I read it, I was inspired to be brave enough to finally come out, and tell people that I was gay, and trust that my future would be a beautiful thing if I was living openly and freely. I’m really grateful for that experience and proud of myself for taking the leap.” …

(6) LOCK-IN. [Item by Frank Catalano.] In the Seattle Times article “Thanks to a glitch, some Seattle Mazda drivers can’t tune their radios away from KUOW” a journalist invokes 2001: A Space Odyssey in this line: “But it might have tried, just trying to be a good computer, as HAL thought he was, misinterpreting the format, executing it badly and, well, $1,500.”

But it is far more weird and adorable than that. A glitch in how a car’s infotainment system reads data coming from a single radio station (an NPR affiliate, at that) bricks Mazda radios: It is either represents really poor computer programming on Mazda’s part, or a cleverly malevolent attempt on KUOW’s part to lock in listeners for the next radio ratings period. 

…Somehow the signal the station sent to the modern HD Radio that’s part of the Mazda infotainment center had, as Welding puts it, “fried” a major component.

That frying made the radios only play KUOW. No chance of catching a little classic rock or some Dori soliloquies. KUOW. Forever.

Also gone from the infotainment center were such features as Bluetooth, navigation, the clock and vehicle stats — “Many of the features I paid for when I bought it new,” Welding says.

It was as if the infotainment center had decided to team up with the ghost of HAL. You remember that malfunctioning, soft-spoken and ultimately sinister artificial intelligence computer from “2001: A Space Odyssey”?

That movie was released 54 years ago; now, there are just more HALs out there.

As the radio remained frozen, the rebooting visuals on the screen in the middle of the dashboard were just too distracting when he was driving. Welding ended up covering the spot with cardboard….

(7) GROWTH MEDIUM. Morgan Hazelwood shares her notes about “Short Fiction Expanded – A DisCon III Panel” at Morgan Hazelwood: Writer in Progress.

In December 2021, I had the opportunity to attend DisCon III. Here are my other DisCon posts.

The panelists for the titular panel were: AC Wise as moderator, Michael Swanwick, Jenny Rae Rappaport, Howard A Jones, and Mary Turzillo.

The panel description was as follows: Sometimes an excellent short story or novella demands to be fleshed out and republished as a novel. How can you do this successfully, and what are some of the pitfalls to avoid? When is the expansion an enhancement, and when is it just a marketing necessity?…

(8) LEAPIN’ LIZARDS! “The epic conclusion of the Jurassic era.” Here’s the trailer for Jurassic World Dominion.

(9) MEMORY LANE.

1984 [Item by Cat Eldridge] Thirty-eight years ago at L.A. Con II where Milt Stevens and Craig Miller were Chairs, Gordon R. Dickson (pro) and Dick Eney (fan) were the Guests that year and the Toastmasters were Robert Bloch and Jerry Pournelle, David Brin won the Best Novel Hugo for Startide Rising, the second book of six set in his Uplift Universe. Some of this novel previously appeared in Analog (May 1981) in a slightly different form under “The Tides of Kithrup”. Other nominated works that year were Tea with the Black Dragon by R. A. MacAvoy, Millennium by John Varley, Moreta: Dragonlady of Pern by Anne McCaffrey and The Robots of Dawn by Isaac Asimov. It also won a Nebula and the Locus Award for Best SF Novel as well. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born February 10, 1904 Lurton Blassingame. Literary agent for Heinlein. He makes the Birthday list because Grumbles from the Grave has more letters to Blassingame than to any other correspondent. And even some of Blassingames’s letters to Heinlein are included. (Died 1988.)
  • Born February 10, 1906 Lon Chaney Jr. I certainly best remember him as playing Larry Talbot in The Wolf Man but he has a lot of other roles as well: The Ghost of Frankenstein as The Monster (look, correct billing!), The Mummy’s Tomb as The Mummy Kharis or Son of Dracula as Count Dracula, he played all the great monsters, often multiple times. (Died 1973.)
  • Born February 10, 1929 Jerry Goldsmith. Composer whose music graces many a genre undertaking including, and this is not complete listing, AlienStar Trek: The Motion PicturePoltergeistPlanet of the ApesThe Man from U.N.C.L.E. series, Star Trek: VoyagerThe MummyThe Twilight Zone (need I say the original series?) and he even did the music for Damnation Alley! (Died 2004.)
  • Born February 10, 1953 John Shirley, 69. I’m not going to even attempt a complete précis of his career. I read and much enjoyed his first novel City Come A-Walkin and oddly enough his Grimm: The Icy Touch is damn good too in way many of those sharecropped novels aren’t. I see that to my surprise he wrote a episode of Deep Space Nine, “Visionary” and also wrote three episodes of the ‘12 series of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
  • Born February 10, 1967 Laura Dern, 55. I’m going to note she’s in David Lynch’s Blue Velvet as Sandy Williams which is not genre but which is one weird film. Jurassic Park where she is Dr. Ellie Sattler is her first SF film followed by Jurassic Park III and a name change to Dr. Ellie Degler.  Such are the things movie trivia is made of. Star Wars: The Last Jedi has her showing as Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo.  I think her first genre appearance was on Shelley Duvall’s Nightmare Classic.
  • Born February 10, 1970 Robert Shearman, 52. He wrote the episode of Who called “Dalek” which was nominated for the Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form in 2006 at L.A. Con IV. (There were three Who entries that year and “The Empty Child”/”The Doctor Dances” won.) His first book, a collection of short stories called Tiny Deaths was a World Fantasy Award winner. He’s written a lot of short fiction since then, collected helpfully into two collections, displayed.   Remember Why You Fear Me: The Best Dark Fiction of Robert Shearman and They Do the Same Things Different There: The Best Weird Fantasy of Robert Shearman.
  • Born February 10, 1976 Keeley Hawes, 46. Ms Delphox/Madame Karabraxos In the most excellent Twelve Doctor story “Time Heist”.  She also played Zoe Reynolds in MI5 which is at least genre adjacent given where the story went. She has also provided the voice of Lara Croft in a series of Tomb Raider video games. 

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • Broom Hilda can’t get free of romantic entanglements.

(12) POLITICAL POINTERS. Once the New Zealand Herald explains it, the inside joke makes sense: “Chris Hipkins replies to National MP question with Spider-Man meme”.

…”Has the Minister met with the Minister for Covid-19 response to request that MIQ spots be allocated to teachers granted a border exception; and if so, on what date, if not, why not?” the East Coast Bays MP wrote.

Hipkins, who is both the Minister for Covid-19 response and Minister of Education, responded with “please refer attached” and included a pdf file with a popular meme showing two images of Spider-Man pointing at each other….

(13) DOES THE EARTH SURF? “Astronomers close in on new way to detect gravitational waves” reports Nature.

Astronomers could be on the verge of detecting gravitational waves from distant supermassive black holes — millions or even billions of times larger than the black holes spotted so far — an international collaboration suggests. The latest results from several research teams suggest they are closing in on a discovery after two decades of efforts to sense the ripples in space-time through their effects on pulsars, rapidly spinning spent stars that are sprinkled across the Milky Way.

Gravitational-wave hunters are looking for fluctuations in the signals from pulsars that would reveal how Earth bobs in a sea of gravitational waves. Like chaotic ripples in water, these waves could be due to the combined effects of perhaps hundreds of pairs of black holes, each lying at the centre of a distant galaxy.

So far, the International Pulsar Timing Array (IPTA) collaboration has found no conclusive evidence of these gravitational waves. But its latest analysis — using pooled data from collaborations based in North America, Europe and Australia — reveals a form of ‘red noise’ that has the features researchers expected to see. The findings were published on 19 January in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society1….

(14) TIME PASSAGES. Netflix has dropped a teaser trailer for The Adam Project, a new sf film with Ryan Reynolds.

After accidentally crash-landing in 2022, time-traveling fighter pilot Adam Reed teams up with his 12-year-old self on a mission to save the future.

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. You can get a head start on your Super Bowl commercial watching in the company of this crew of Austin Powers villains.

Climate change just got a new enemy and he’s one EVil son of a Belgian. Dr. EV-il is going electric to stop climate change from ruining Earth before he can.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Cora Buhlert, Frank Catalano, Rob Thornton, Chris Barkley, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]

Pixel Scroll 1/18/22
21 Jaunt Street

(1) RED WOMBAT EXTRA! Ursula Vernon has launched a newsletter: Wombat Droppings – Issue #1.

Hello, friends and subscribers! I’m starting a newsletter, because Twitter is like drinking from a firehose, Patreon costs you money, and I rarely have the braincells to blog these days. (Plus, when all your presence is on someone else’s platform, they can delete you at any time and leave you floundering in the social void.)

I promise that if you subscribe, I will not bother you too much. Also, I have no intention of charging for this thing, although apparently “newsletter” now means “thing you charge money for” and I don’t know what to call a thing that used to be a newsletter but now isn’t? (Free newsletter? I dunno. May need to workshop that.)

Anyway, let’s give this a try and see what happens!

The theme of Issue #1 is “So I’ve Started GMing…”

…Our game hook is that all the players are interns from the Church of the Good Boy, an all-dog temple established in our previous campaign. So they are all dogs, except for the rogue, who has paperwork stating that he is a dog, despite suspiciously cat-like ears…

(2) PUBLISH LIKE A PIRATE DAY. This might be the topic of Red Wombat’s next newsletter:

(3) CSI SKILL TREE. The CSI Skill Tree series examines how video games “envision possible futures, build rich and thought-provoking worlds, and engage people as active participants in unfolding and interpreting stories.”

The next event in the CSI Skill Tree series will be on Wednesday, February 23, from 1:00-2:15 p.m. Eastern and feature Cloud Gardens, a 2020 gardening game about using plants to overgrow and transform abandoned post-industrial landscapes. The guest speakers are SFF author and translator Ken Liu and game designer Liz Fiacco, who has worked on titles including The Last of Us 2 and Pillars of Eternity. The event is virtual, free, and open to everyone. Here is the registration page.

The event is cohosted with Orion Magazine, a quarterly publication working at the convergence of ecology, art, and social justice, and attendees will receive a code for 20% off a subscription to Orion.

Join the Center for Science and the Imagination and Orion Magazine, an ad-free, quarterly print publication at the convergence of ecology, art, and social justice, for our latest event, featuring “Cloud Gardens,” a 2020 gardening game about using plants to overgrow and transform abandoned post-industrial landscapes. At once soothing and cryptic, “Cloud Gardens” uses pastel colors and calming music to raise questions about the boundaries we construct between organic and built environments, the human and the nonhuman, the sublime and the dystopian.

(4) RENEWED AND PRENEWED. “’Star Trek: Discovery,’ ‘Lower Decks’ Renewed at Paramount Plus”Variety has the story.

“Star Trek: Discovery,” “Star Trek: Lower Decks,” and “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds” have all been renewed at Paramount Plus.

For “Discovery,” that means it will return for a fifth season. The show is due to resume its fourth season on Feb. 10. “Lower Decks” will now be back for a fourth season, with Season 3 of the animated comedy set to debut this summer.

“Strange New Worlds” has yet to debut its first season, which will drop on Paramount Plus on May 5. 

(5) MINUTES OF THE WORLD SQUEECORE CONGRESS. Sure, you could run your own Twitter search for the latest “squeecore” tweets – but these are curated tweets. You know, like a cooking show where the chef does marvels by adding pancetta or Calabrian chiles. (People are now looking around, asking, “So why don’t I see anything Mike added?”)

CAT RAMBO

LAURA DIAZ DE ARCE

SILVIA MORENO-GARCIA

NICK MAMATAS

DR. AMANDA DILLON

PAUL M. CRAY

3DPARTYINTERNET

MARIE BRENNAN

ANNA NICGIOLLAMHUIRE

ANDREW NETTE

(6) FOWL BAWL. Was it a slow news week? Having nothing more pressing to do, TIME Magazine ripped Donald Duck as one of the “Top 10 Worst Awards-Show Hosts” for his work on the 1958 Oscars.

We love classic cartoons as much as the next kid disguised as a grownup, but given the star power of the glittering 1950s, Donald Duck probably didn’t need to co-host the 30th Academy Awards. Bob Hope, Jack Lemmon, David Niven, Rosalind Russell and James Stewart also ran the 1958 show. Donald appeared on film rather than, as is preferable for most hosts, in person. Still, he wasn’t completely out of his element: 15 years earlier, his short Der Fuehrer’s Face won an Oscar.

(7) CHUCK SHIMADA OBIT. LASFS member Charles Shimada passed away peacefully in his sleep on December 26, 2021, Calvin Ogawa reported on Facebook. LA-area fans remember Chuck for doing a lot of the Audio/Video technical setup for many conventions over the years – including the 1996 Worldcon I chaired.

Much earlier, at the 1975 EquiCon, Chuck let me run the projector as we showed Star Trek episodes. These were Gene Roddenberry’s personal 16mm prints. And while I was rewinding one of them, I noticed to my horror that I had not closed the reel lock — the reel was starting to do a high-frequency wobble. What would happen when it reached the end? OMG! Was it going to fly off and unspool irreplaceable film all over the fans sitting in front of the projection stand? What would happen to my hand if I grabbed the reel to stop it spinning? I found out. Nothing, fortunately; film saved; I lived to volunteer another day.

(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1973 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Forty-nine years ago, The Six Million Dollar Man premiered this evening on ABC. It was based on Martin Caidin’s Cyborg. Executive Producer was Harve Bennett, who you will recognize from the Star Trek films. It was produced by Kenneth Johnson who would later do The Bionic Woman spin-off and the Alien Nation film. 

Its primary cast was Lee Majors,  Richard Anderson and Martin E. Brooks. Majors had a successful second series shortly after this series was cancelled, The Fall Guy, about heart-of-gold bounty hunters. The Six Million Dollar Man would run for five seasons consisting of ninety-nine episodes and five films. The Fall Guy would run five seasons as well. 

Reception by media critics is generally positive. Phelim O’Neil of The Guardian says, “He was Superman, James Bond and Neil Armstrong all rolled into one, and $6M was an almost incomprehensibly large amount of money: how could anyone not watch this show?” And Rob Hunter of Film School Reviews states “The story lines run the gamut from semi-believable to outright ludicrous, but even at its most silly the show is an entertaining family friendly mix of drama, humor, action, and science fiction.”

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 18, 1882 A.A. Milne. Talking fat bears obsessed with honey. Bouncing tigers, err, tiggers. Morose, well, what is he? It’s certainly genre. And though it isn’t remotely genre, I wholeheartedly recommend Milne’s The Red House Mystery, a Country House Mystery that’s most excellent! (Died 1956.)
  • Born January 18, 1932 Robert Anton Wilson. I think I first encountered him in something Richard E. Geis wrote about him in Science Fiction Review in the Eighties. Schrödinger’s Cat Trilogy is just weird and might or might not be a sequel to Wilson’s The Illuminatus! Trilogy co-authored with Robert Shea. But the absolutely weirdest thing he did might be an interview titled Robert Anton Wilson On Finnegans Wake and Joseph Campbell. (Died 2007.)
  • Born January 18, 1933 John Boorman, 89. Director who’s responsible for one of the best SFF films ever done, Excalibur, and one of the worst, Zardoz. (He wrote the novel for that one as well.)  (I know some Filers like Zardoz. Oh well.)  He also directed the rather nifty Emerald Forest which Holdstock did a far better than merely good job of novelizing.
  • Born January 18, 1937 Dick Durock. He was best known for playing Swamp Thing in Swamp Thing and The Return of Swamp Thing and the following television series which ran for three seasons. His only other genre appearances were in The Nude Bomb (also known as The Return of Maxwell Smart) and “The First” of The Incredible Hulk. He shows up in Die Hard with a Vengeance in a subway scene. No, it’s not genre, I just like that film. (Died 2009.)
  • Born January 18, 1953 Pamela Dean Dyer-Bennet, 69. Her best novel is I think Tam Lin though one could make an argument for Juniper, Gentian, and Rosemary which Windling calls her favorite fantasy novel. Her Secret Country trilogy is also a great deal of fun to read. Much of her short stories are set in the Liavek shared universe created by Emma Bull and Will Shetterly. All of the Liavek anthologies are now available on all major digital platforms. According to the files sitting in my Dropbox folder, there’s eight volumes to the series. They’re wonderful reading. End of plug.
  • Born January 18, 1955 Kevin Costner, 67. Some of his genre films are Robin Hood: Prince of ThievesWaterworldThe Postman and the recent Dragonfly, but I really like his Field of Dreams — his acting in it as Ray Kinsella is quite excellent. Not quite as superb as he was as “Crash” Davis in Bull Durham but damned good. Bull Durham is one of my go-to films when I want to feel good. He also was Jonathan Kent in both Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
  • Born January 18, 1964 Jane Horrocks, 58. Her first SFF genre role was Pattern in The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, scripted off the Joan Aiken novel. A year later, she showed up in the most excellent The Witches, scripted off the Raoul Dahl novel playing Miss Susan Irvine. She voices Black Widow / Mrs. Plum in Tim Burton’s The Corpse Bride, and voiced Hannah in the late Ninties Watership Down.

(10) IRISH COMIC NEWS AWARDS SHORTLISTS. Congratulations to James Bacon who has been nominated for the Irish Comic News’ ICN Awards 2021 in the Best Irish Writer (Non-Fiction) category for his work on File 770. (James also edits and writes for Journey Planet.) The complete list of nominees is here.

BEST IRISH WRITER (NON-FICTION)

As I mentioned in a year-end roundup, James uses his descriptive abilities and camera to allow Filers to accompany him to exhibits and events in vivid and enjoyable reports. 

His round table interview with N.K. Jemisin about her work on Green Lantern was great fun to read. And he constantly reviews comics from off the beaten track which deserve our attention. His work last year on File 770 was considerable —

I wish him and all other nominees the best of luck. 

(11) EFFICIENCY EXPERT. I can see that Michael Carroll’s sense of humor is part of his appeal – here’s how he introduces his list of Rusty Staples’ “Most Popular Posts of 2021!”

…As I promised in last year’s look back at the previous year, I ditched my plan to post at least one entry every week: doing so freed up a lot of time that I was able to divide between idly daydreaming about winning imaginary arguments with jerks, and needlessly wallowing in unwarranted self-pity. So, time well-spent, I think….

(12) MOON KNIGHT. Disney+ dropped a trailer for their new streaming series with Oscar Isaac yesterday. The series will premiere on March 30.

(13) THAT’S A LOT OF QUARTERS. “Microsoft acquires gaming giant Activision Blizzard for nearly $70 billion” reports CNN.

Microsoft on Tuesday announced plans to acquire Activision Blizzard in a blockbuster deal worth nearly $70 billion. It’s one of the biggest acquisitions in the tech industry in recent years, one that will boost Microsoft’s standing in the growing gaming industry but could be complicated by recent concerns about Activision’s toxic culture.

The all-cash transaction is valued at $68.7 billion, and Microsoft says it will make the company the third-largest gaming company by revenue, after Tencent and Sony.

Bobby Kotick, the controversial CEO of Activision Blizzard, will continue in his role, according to a press release detailing the announced acquisition. Activision employees had previously staged walkouts and called on Kotick to step down for having allegedly been aware of widespread harassment and discrimination problems at the company for years….

(14) DOCKING MANUVER. Here we are outside 104 E. Providencia Ave in Burbank in 1964. I hope somebody explained parallel parking to Mr. Sulu later!

(15) A ROBERT PICARDO APPEARANCE. Jonathan Cowie reports that at the last Novacon they screened a short film based on a story by Chris Priest – here is a trailer for it: The Stooge.

(16) A REAL INCENTIVE. JDA truly understands the audience for his comics.

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Cath Jackel.] Here’s a BBC Reel about How to ride a pterosaur, according to science. Includes a saddle mockup inspired by How to Train Your Dragon.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Jamoche, Joey Eschrich, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Chris Barkley, 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 4/7/21 Pixels Who Need Pixels Are The Luckiest Pixels In The Scroll

(1) AN APPEAL. [Item by rcade.] In a series of tweets Tuesday, Astounding Award winner Jeannette Ng asks for more nuanced takes on problematic elements of literary works and less pat conclusions about what they reveal about the author. Thread starts here.

One of the commenters references the literary critic F. R. Leavis.

Leavis was an influential British critic who took the position that a great work must be a demonstration of the author’s intense moral seriousness and that by reading it “the reader would acquire moral sensibility — a sense of what was true and good — which transcended social differences,” according to the Cambridge History of Literary Criticism.

(2) HE HAS THE ANSWER – DO THEY HAVE THE RIGHT QUESTION? “Fans campaign for LeVar Burton to host ‘Jeopardy!’” reports the New York Post.

… “Leaving this here in the event that the powers that be are listening,” Burton, 64, tweeted Monday alongside a petition started by a fan of the beloved “Star Trek” actor. The document boasted over 130,000 signatures as of Tuesday morning.

The petition comes amid a feverish push on Twitter for the wholesome television icon to host the gameshow.

(3) NEXT ON NETFLIX. Yahoo! assures fans Jupiter’s Legacy Trailer Packs Superpowered Family Drama”.

…We also get brief snippets about the origin of Sheldon (a.k.a. The Utopian) and his cohort’s powers; the trailer ominously teases the long-ago events “on the island” that turned a group of mere mortals into superhuman beings. (This group would then bear the name The Union). More will reveal as the series approaches, and we’re looking forward to unwrapping some of these mysteries once it hits Netflix on May 7.

(4) BUSTED. In “Cracking the Case of London’s Elusive, Acrobatic Rare-Book Thieves”, Marc Wortman tells Vanity Fair readers

Impossible,” said David Ward. The London Metropolitan Police constable looked up. Some 50 feet above him, he saw that someone had carved a gaping hole through a skylight. Standing in the Frontier Forwarding warehouse in Feltham, West London, he could hear the howl of jets from neighboring Heathrow Airport as they roared overhead.

At Ward’s feet lay three open trunks, heavy-duty steel cases. They were empty. A few books lay strewn about. Those trunks had previously been full of books. Not just any books. The missing ones, 240 in all, included early versions of some of the most significant printed works of European history.

Gone was Albert Einstein’s own 1621 copy of astronomer Johannes Kepler’s The Cosmic Mystery, in which he lays out his theory of planetary motion. Also missing was an important 1777 edition of Isaac Newton’s Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy, his book describing gravity and the laws of physics. Among other rarities stolen: a 1497 update of the first book written about women, Concerning Famous Women; a 1569 version of Dante’s Divine Comedy; and a sheath with 80 celebrated prints by Goya. The most valuable book in the haul was a 1566 Latin edition of On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, by Copernicus, in which he posits his world-changing theory that Earth and the other planets revolve around the sun. That copy alone had a price tag of $293,000. All together, the missing books—stolen on the night of January 29, 2017, into early the next day—were valued at more than $3.4 million. Given their unique historical significance and the fact that many contained handwritten notes by past owners, most were irreplaceable.

Scotland Yard’s Ward was stunned. He couldn’t recall a burglary like this anywhere. The thieves, as if undertaking a special-ops raid, had climbed up the sheer face of the building. From there, they scaled its pitched metal roof on a cold, wet night, cut open a fiberglass skylight, and descended inside—without tripping alarms or getting picked up by cameras.…

(5) BOOKS FOR PRISONERS ASKED. [Item by rcade.] The shelves of the Appalachian Prison Book Project are running low on science fiction and fantasy, the charity revealed recently in a tweet:

The project sends free books to people imprisoned in Kentucky, Maryland, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia.

They seek new and used paperbacks only and have more detailed donation guidelines on their website.

“We receive about 200 letters every week from people incarcerated in our region,” a project coordinator told File 770 in email. “It’s a wide range of requests. Generally, people choose a few genres they are interested in to ask about in their letter. We have sci-fi and fantasy as two separate categories on our genre list, and we don’t include subgenres, so people choose whatever genres they want to read.”

Asked if there are particular preferences within SFF, the coordinator replied, “We occasionally get requests for specific authors, but unless they have a specific title in mind, most people list themes and topics. For example, thay may want to read books about time travel or vampires or wizards or interstellar exploration. It’s our volunteers who search through our donated books to find the best fit for them.”

The charity’s Voices from the Inside page shares testimonials from grateful prisoners about the books they’ve received.

A prisoner in Whiteville, Tennessee, praised a 2002 vampire novel by Simon Clark: “Thank you so much for my copy of Vampyrrhic! I loved it! As I have said before not many people want to fool with us old convicts.”

Donations of books should fill no more than two medium-sized boxes and be sent using the U.S. Postal Service to this address:

Appalachian Prison Book Project
PO Box 601
Morgantown, WV 26507

(6) CALLING 1984. Not that 1984. I mean the year that gave us Ghostbusters and the line “I tried to think of the most harmless thing. Something I loved from my childhood. Something that could never ever possibly destroy us. Mr. Stay Puft!” “Ghostbusters: Afterlife unleashes a mini Stay Puft army in first clip”SYFY Wire sets the scene.

The iconic Stay Puft Marshmallow Man is coming back in Ghostbusters: Afterlife, but he’s a lot smaller and more numerous than you remember. In the first official clip from director Jason Reitman’s long-delayed film, seismologist Mr. Grooberson (Ant-Man‘s Paul Rudd) comes across a army of mini Stay Puft men while shopping for ice cream.

They’re wreaking absolute havoc in the store, riding around on Roombas and roasting each other on BBQs (their chaotic antics bringing to mind Joe Dante’s Gremlins and composer Rob Simonsen subtly pays homage to Elmer Bernstein’s eerie score from 1984). Don’t be fooled by their cuteness, though — Grooberson attempts to poke one of the Stay Puft men in the stomach — à la the Pillsbury Doughboy — with painful results.

(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • April 7, 1933 — On this day in 1933, King Kong premiered. It was directed and produced by Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack. The screenplay was written by James Ashmore Creelman and Ruth Rose from an idea by Merian C. Cooper and Edgar Wallace. It stars Fay Wray, Bruce Cabot and Robert Armstrong. Critics mostly loved it, the box office was quite amazing and the audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it an astonishing ninety eighty percent approval rating. It has been ranked by Rotten Tomatoes as the fourth greatest horror film of all time.  You can watch it here as it’s very much in the public domain. 

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born April 7, 1882 – Ogawa Mimei.  (Personal name last, Japanese style.)  Called the founder of Japanese fairy tales.  The 2018 collection under that name has “The Mermaid and the Red Candles”, five more.  See another story here – I mean that, do see it.  (Died 1961) [JH]
  • Born April 7, 1915 Stanley Adams. He’s best known for playing Cyrano Jones in “The Trouble with Tribbles” Trek episode. He reprised his role in the Star Trek: The Animated Series episode “More Tribbles, More Troubles” and archival footage of him was later featured in the Deep Space Nine “Trials and Tribble-ations” episode. He also appeared in two episodes of the Batman series (“Catwoman Goes to College” and “Batman Displays his Knowledge”) as Captain Courageous. (Died 1977.) (CE)
  • Born April 7, 1915 Henry Kuttner. While he was working for the d’Orsay agency, he found Leigh Brackett’s early manuscripts in the slush pile; it was under his guidance that she sold her first story to Campbell at Astounding Stories.  His own work was done in close collaboration with C. L. Moore, his wife, and much of what they would publish was under pseudonyms.  During the Forties, he also contributed numerous scripts to the Green Lantern series. He’s won two Retro Hugos, the first at Worldcon 76 for “The Twonky” short story, the second at Dublin 2019 for “Mimsy Were the Borogoves”. (Died 1958.) (CE) 
  • Born April 7, 1928 James White. Certainly the Sector General series which ran to twelve books and ran over thirty years of publication was his best known work. I’ve no idea how many I read but I’m certain that it was quite a few. I’m not sure what else by him I’ve read but I’m equally sure there was other novels down the years. It appears that only a handful of the novels are available from the usual suspects. (Died 1999.) (CE) 
  • Born April 7, 1930 – Ronald Mackelworth.  Five novels “usually involving complex but rarely jumbled plotting” (John Clute), a score of shorter stories.  Here is a Barbara Walton cover for Firemantle.  (Died 2000) [JH]
  • Born April 7, 1935 – Marty Cantor, age 86.  Long-time fanziner; self-knowledge entitled his Hugo-finalist (as we must now say) fanzine Holier Than Thou; with another, No Award, I could tell him “You are worthy of No Award, and No Award is worthy of you.”  While he & Robbie Bourget were married they were elected DUFF (Down Under Fan Fund) delegates together, publishing two reports, one each, bound head-to-tail like an Ace Double; they were Fan Guests of Honor at Alternacon.  MC later chaired Corflu 34 (fanziners’ con; corflu = mimeograph correction fluid, once indispensable), published Phil Castora’s memoir Who Knows What Ether Lurks in the Minds of Fen?  Arrived among us in his forties, an exception to yet another theory.  Earned LASFS’ Evans-Freehafer Award Los Angeles Science Fantasy Soc.; service).  [JH]
  • Born April 7, 1939 Francis Ford Coppola, 82. Director / Writer / Producer. THX 1138 was produced by him and directed by George Lucas in his feature film directorial debut in 1971. Saw it late at night after some serious drug ingestion with a red head into Morrison — strange experience that was. Other genre works of note include Bram Stoker’s Dracula, a episode of Faerie Tale Theatre entitled Rip Van Winkle, Twixt (a horror film that I’m betting almost no one has heard of), Captain EO which featured Michael JacksonMary Shelley’s FrankensteinJeepers Creepers and Jeepers Creepers 2. (CE)
  • Born April 7, 1945 – Susan Petrey.  Six novels, nine shorter stories.  Her vampires are non-supernatural.  Interviewed in Lightspeed.  Good writing and an early death prompted a Clarion scholarship in her name.  (Died 1980) [JH]
  • Born April 7, 1946 Stan Winston. He’s best known for his work in Aliens, the Terminator franchise, the first three Jurassic Park films, the first two Predator films, Batman Returns and Iron Man. (He also did the Inspector Gadget film which I still haven’t seem.) He was unusual in having expertise in makeup, puppets and practical effects, and was just starting to get in digital effects as well upon the time of his passing. I think we sum up his talent by noting that he won an Oscars for Best Visual Effects and Best Makeup for his work on Terminator 2: Judgment Day. (Died 2008.) (CE) 
  • Born April 7, 1951 Yvonne Gilbert, 70. Though best remembered for her controversial cover design of Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s 1983 single “Relax”, she did a number of great genre covers including Le Guin’s A Wizard of Earthsea for Bantam in 1991 and Beagle’s A Dance for Emilia for Roc in 2000. (CE) 
  • Born April 7, 1981 – Lili Wilkinson, Ph.D., age 40. A novel and two shorter stories for us; many others (I’m not counting e.g. Joan of Arc).  Won a stopwatch in a Readathon.  Established Inky Awards at the Centre for Youth Literature, State Library of Victoria.  [JH]
  • Born April 7, 1982 – Zoë Marriott, age 39.  Nine novels.  Sasakawa Prize.  Two cats, one named Hero after the Shakespearian character (hurrah! she’s so cool! – JH), and the other Echo after the nymph in Greek myth.  Finishes a list of favorite songs with Spem in alium (hurrah! hurrah!).  [JH]

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • Shoe’s answer to a science question might qualify as science fantasy.

(10) SO THE ONE THING CAPTAIN AMERICA AND VOX DAY HAVE IN COMMON IS THEY BOTH DISLIKE THIS GUY? The Captain America comic portrays Red Skull as suspiciously close to Jordan Peterson…and Peterson decided to lean into it. Which is kind of hilarious. “Captain America supervillain the Red Skull has been behaving a lot like Jordan Peterson lately, thanks to Ta-Nehisi Coates” at Slate.

Jordan Peterson is a Canadian professor of psychology who was embraced by right-wingers in 2016 after refusing to honor his students’ requests to use their preferred pronouns, then leveraged his YouTube channel and fear of political correctness to build a career as a self-help guru to the alt-right. He also appears to be the basis for the current incarnation of Marvel’s Nazi supervillain the Red Skull, who has returned to the comic book universe courtesy of Between the World and Me writer Ta-Nehisi Coates. Coates is currently wrapping up a 2½-year run on Captain America, and in Captain America No. 28, which was released on March 31, the Red Skull has a YouTube channel that looked very familiar to Peterson, except for the red skull part…

If for some inexplicable reason you want a more serious look at the topic, there’s Camestros Felapton’s “A short Twitter diversion on Jordan Peterson” and The Mary Sue’s “Jordan Peterson Mad He Inspired Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Red Skull”.

(11) LATE NIGHT. In Stephen Colbert’s “Quarantinewhile…” segment a University of Illinois gymnast sticks his vault and then brandishes his COVID-19 vaccine certificate, immediately followed by a reference to our favorite AI researcher, Dr. Janelle Shane, who taught AI to generate pickup lines. (For the background, see Vice’s article “A Scientist Taught AI to Generate Pickup Lines. The Results are Chaotic”.

(12) CHINA’S ANSWER TO SPOT? [Item by Mike Kennedy.]  IFL Science introduces a “Video Showing ‘Robot Army’ Released By Chinese Robotics Company”. The story includes two tweets with embedded videos. The one with a large number of robot dogs where they just stand up then lay back down appears to me to be real. The other one, where they do tricks together, is pretty clearly CGI layered over the real world.

Unitree Robotics appears to be China’s answer to Boston Dynamics, designing and manufacturing mobile, autonomous four-legged robots that are able to handle obstacles and right themselves after a stumble.  

Their products are all variants of a similar dog-like design, including BenBen, Aliengo, Laikago, and A1….

(13) A TIDY PROFIT. AP’s story entitled “Man, a steal! Rare Superman comic sells for record $3.25 million” says that Comicconnect.com sold a copy of Action Comics #1 yesterday for $3.25 million, beating the old record of $3.2 million.

One of the few copies of the comic book that introduced Superman to the world has sold for a super-size, record-setting price.

The issue of Action Comics #1 went for $3.25 million in a private sale, ComicConnect.com, an online auction and consignment company, announced Tuesday.

It narrowly bested the previous record for the comic, set in the auction of another copy in 2014 for slightly over $3.2 million.

The comic, published in 1938, “really is the beginning of the superhero genre,” said ComicConnect.com COO Vincent Zurzolo, who brokered the sale.

It told readers about the origins of Superman, how he came to Earth from another planet and went by Clark Kent.

The seller of this particular issue bought the comic in 2018 for slightly more than $2 million.

(14) DISCOVERY’S NEW SEASON. “Star Trek: Discovery Season 4 Trailer Faces an Unknown Threat” promises Coming Soon.

Paramount+ has released the first trailer for the upcoming fourth season of Star Trek: Discovery, which is set to premiere later this year. The video features Sonequa Martin-Green’s Captain Burnham as she leads the crew against an unknown threat that could possibly destroy all of them without any warning.

(15) BURGER COSPLAY. [Item by Daniel Dern. Except for tasteless quote selected by OGH.] Given Kevin Smith’s sf activities, e.g., writing comics like the (wonderful) Green Arrow Quiver series (plot arc?), some involvement with the semi-recent WB “Crisis” episodes (or at least one of the aftershows) and other stuff i can’t remember – let’s mention “Kevin Smith talks fast food ahead of his Boston pop-up restaurant ribbon-cutting”. (I saw this info as an article in today’s Boston Globe, but I know the MSN link isn’t paywalled..)

Boston’s House of Blues will transform into a pop-up Mooby’s, the fictional burger chain that appears in various Kevin Smith movies, April 8-16.

Fans will remember the mascot, Mooby the golden calf, that enrages Matt Damon and Ben Affleck’s characters in “Dogma.” Chris Rock’s character eats at a Mooby’s in the same film. Mooby’s also appears in “Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back” and “Clerks II.”…

Q. So why Boston?

A. House of Blues reached out, and said: We’d do that. We never pressure anybody. We just wait for folks to reach out. The good thing about Mooby’s is it’s fake, so [no matter what building you dress up] people can’t say: ‘Well this don’t look like Mooby’s!’ Well what does? How many Mooby’s you been to exactly? Give us a day, and Derek will make it a Mooby’s.

Q. What’s your favorite menu item?

A. There’s a chicken sandwich in ‘Jay and Silent Bob Reboot’ called ‘Cock Smoker.’ We have that on our menu. It’s awesome to watch people try to order it in person. Generally everything is done on the reservation system in advance, but in LA, toward the end of the run, we opened it up [to walk-ins] and had four older ladies, each of giggling harder than the next when they ordered ‘Cock Smokers.’ I won’t get rich off restaurants, but that is wealth that you can’t measure.

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Godzilla Vs. Kong” on Honest Trailers, the Screen Junkies say the film has such poor continuity with its two predecessors that it has “characters who forgot to mention they were related,” “characters they forgot to mention entirely” and a major plot point that didn’t appear in the two earlier films.  And watch out for Brian Tyree Henry as an annoying exposition-spouting podcaster! BEWARE SPOILERS.

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Michael Toman, Jennifer Hawthorne, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Daniel Dern, John Hertz, Alan Baumler, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day rcade.]

Pixel Scroll 10/30/20 Stories That Should Have Scrolled The Pixel

A bit under the weather, so a short Scroll today.

(1) GOES OVER THE TOP. Good news about the Constelación Magazine Kickstarter:

The biggest news we have to share is that our Kickstarter has fully funded! Thank you so much to all of you who have supported us either by backing or by sharing. We are so grateful! 

We’re well on our way to our first stretch goal, which increases the pay for our translators by 50%. If you can, please spread the word and help us close strong.

(2) AS CLEAR AS IS THE SUMMER SUN. “Timothy Explains The Electoral College” at Camestros Felapton.

…However, an electoral college is a university where you study to pick the leader of your republic. Like any university it has a library and over-priced places to eat which the students avoid because they can’t afford to eat on campus but that’s OK because all their lectures are online now and they can eat toast at home. In America, the electoral college is in a big tree all covered in ivy and so probably doesn’t have a lot of room for over-priced places to eat, maybe only a gift shop selling t-shirts with the university name on them.

(3) OMEGAVERSE LITIGATION. The Electronic Frontier Foundation is “Defending Fair Use in the Omegaverse”. (New developments in the story linked in May 24 Pixel Scroll item #2.)  

Copyright law is supposed to promote creativity, not stamp out criticism. Too often, copyright owners forget that – especially when they have a convenient takedown tool like the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

EFF is happy to remind them – as we did this month on behalf of Internet creator Lindsay Ellis. Ellis had posted a video about a copyright dispute between authors in a very particular fandom niche: the Omegaverse realm of wolf-kink erotica. The video tells the story of that dispute in gory and hilarious detail, while breaking down the legal issues and proceedings along the way. Techdirt called it “truly amazing.” We agree. But feel free to watch “Into the Omegaverse: How a Fanfic Trope Landed in Federal Court,” and decide for yourself.

The dispute described in the video began with a series of takedown notices to online platforms with highly dubious allegations of copyright infringement. According to these, one Omegaverse author, Zoey Ellis (no relation) had infringed the copyright of another, Addison Cain, by copying common thematic aspects of characters in the Omegaverse genre, i.e., tropes. As Ellis’ video explains, these themes not only predate Cain’s works, but are uncopyrightable as a matter of law. Further litigation ensued, and Ellis’ video explains what happened and the opinions she formed based on the publicly available records of those proceedings. Some of those opinions are scathingly critical of Ms. Cain. But the First Amendment protects scathing criticism. So does copyright law: criticism and parody are classic examples of fair use that are authorized by law. Still, as we have written many times, DMCA abuse targeting such fair uses remains a pervasive and persistent problem… 

(4) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born October 30, 1919 – Walt A. Willis.  One of our finest fanwriters.  The success of “WAW with the Crew in ’52”, bringing him from Belfast to Chicago for Chicon II the 10th Worldcon, laid the foundation for TAFF (Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund), of which he was the first Administrator.  Fanzines HyphenSlant.  Two Hugos (Outstanding Actifan i.e. active fan, 1958; Best Fanzine, for Slant, Retrospective Hugo, 2004).  Fan Guest of Honor at MagiCon the 50th Worldcon (Orlando).  See more here.  (Died 1999) [JH]
  • Born October 30, 1923 William Campbell. In “The Squire of Gothos” on Trek — a proper Halloween episode even if it wasn’t broadcast then — he was Trelane and in “The Trouble With Tribbles”, he played the Klingon Koloth, a role revisited on Deep Space Nine in “Blood Oath”. He appeared in several horror films including Blood BathNight of Evil, and Dementia 13. He started a fan convention which ran for several years, Fantasticon, which celebrated the achievements of production staffers in genre films and TV shows and raised funds for the Motion Picture & Television Fund, a charitable organization which provides assistance and care to those in the motion picture industry with limited or no resources, when struck with infirmity and/or in retirement age. (Died 2011.) (CE)
  • Born October 30, 1935 – Don A. Thompson.  Pioneer of comics fandom.  With Dick Lupoff, co-edited All in Color for a Dime and The Comic-Book Book.  With wife Maggie Thompson, wrote “Beautiful Balloons” column for The Buyer’s Guide for Comic Fandom, and edited the Guide after it changed hands in 1983; with her, an Inkpot, a Kirby, an Eisner, Diamond Lifetime Fan Award (1991).  DT & MT were Fan Guests of Honor at Penulticon ’79.  (Died 1994) [JH]
  • Born October 30, 1947 –Tim Kirk, 73.  One of our finest fanartists; five Hugos.  His Master’s thesis illustrated The Lord of The Rings, still among the best; Ballantine published thirteen images as the 1975 Tolkien calendar.  Senior designer for Tokyo DisneySea.  Designed Paul Allen’s SF Museum (Seattle).  Here is an interior from Science Fiction Review.  Here is the May 74 Algol.  Here is “The Riddle Game”.  Here is a drawing used for Loscon 46.  Here is Not All a Dream.  [JH]
  • Born October 30, 1951 P. Craig Russell, 69. Comic illustrator whose work has won multiple Harvey and Eisner Awards. His work on Killraven, a future version of H. G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds, collaborating with writer Don McGregor, was lauded by readers and critics alike. Next up was mainstream work at DC with I think his work on Batman, particularly with Jim Starlin. He also inked Mike Mignola’s pencils on the Phantom Stranger series. He would segue into working on several Moorcock’s Elric of Melniboné projects. Worth noting is his work on a number of Gaiman projects including a Coraline graphic novel.  Wayne Alan Harold Productions published the P. Craig Russell Sketchbook Archives, a 250+-page hardcover art book featuring the best of his personal sketchbooks.
  • Born October 30, 1951 Harry Hamlin, 69. His first role of genre interest was Perseus on Clash of The Titans. He plays himself in Maxie, and briefly shows up in Harper’s Island. He was Astronaut John Pope in the genre adjacent Space miniseries. On the stage, he’s been Faust in Dr. Faustus. (CE)
  • Born October 30, 1958 Max McCoy, 62. Here for a quartet of novels (Indiana Jones and the Secret of the SphinxIndiana Jones and the Hollow EarthIndiana Jones and the Dinosaur Eggs and Indiana Jones and the Philosopher’s Stone) which flesh out the back story and immerse him in a pulp reality. He’s also writing Wylde’s West, a paranormal mystery series. (CE) 
  • Born October 30, 1962 – Lisa Major, 58.  Co-editor with husband Joseph of the fanzine Alexiad.  Fan of horse races, including trotting, pacing.  From October 2020 (Alexiad 113): “September is International Month.  Normally we of the libraries get assigned a country in order that we may display books … and have programs….  This year … not open to the public … I decide that I will have my own….  a bakery owned by a woman from Uganda … has a marvelous display….  I walk out with … a decorated little bowl … gives me something of the … serenity I got … when my library was assigned Japan.”  [JH]
  • Born October 30, 1972 – Tammy Coxen, 48.  Chaired Detcon the 11th NASFiC (North America SF Con, since 1975 held when the Worldcon is overseas).  Hugo Administrator for CoNZealand the 78th Worldcon. Wrote this guide “So You Want to Bid for a Worldcon”.  Cocktail enthusiast and Chief Tasting Officer of Tammy’s Tastings.  [JH]
  • Born October 30, 1972 Jessica Hynes, 48. Playing Joan Redfern, she shows up on two of the most excellent Tenth Doctor stories, “Human Nature” and “ The Family of Blood”. She’d play another character, Verity Newman in a meeting of the Tenth and Eleventh Doctors, “The End of Time, Part Two”. Her other genre role was as Felia Siderova on Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased) in the “Mental Apparition Disorder” and  “Drop Dead” episodes. (CE)
  • Born October 30, 1974 – Libia Brenda, 46.   Part of the Mexicanx Initiative Experience at the 76th Worldcon and thus a Hugo finalist for Best Related Work.  “Sea Wings” (in English) in the Jul 19 Argonaut.  Two anthologies, A Larger Reality being speculative fiction “from the bicultural margins”, and A Timeline in Which We Don’t Go Extinct being A Larger Reality 2.0, each in English and Spanish.  [JH]

(5) SHINY. If Santa ever has to give Rudolph the year off, how about adding a monotreme to the team? “As If the Platypus Couldn’t Get Any Weirder” in Gizmodo.

…It’s not enough to be a mammal who lays eggs, sports a duck-like bill and webbed feet, hunts using electroreception, and wields venomous spurs. The platypus also glows green under ultraviolet light. Because of course it does. Details of this unexpected discovery were published earlier this month in the science journal Mammalia.

The platypus now joins a very exclusive club, as it’s one of only three known biofluorescent mammals, the other two being opossums and flying squirrels. That said, the platypus does stand alone as the only known monotreme, or egg-laying mammal, capable of pulling off this trick (the only other extant monotremes are four species of echidna). Of course, biofluorescence is seen in many other organisms, such as fungi, fish, phytoplankton, reptiles, amphibians, and at least one species of tardigrade.

But wait – if they’re delivering in sunlight they still won’t need one, will they….

(6) BUY IT AGAIN. [Item by Daniel Dern.] So the Amazon Shopping app on my phone just recommended (Samuel R Delany’s) BABEL-17, including via Kindle Unlimited.

Given some of my browsing I guess that’s not completely out of the blue, although it feels like I’d been doing some (research) lookups for Heinlein but not Delany.

If Amazon were a person, I’d respond with a picture of my $0.50 Ace paperback with the “Nebula winner” sticker on the cover design. I’m not sure if I have any older copies. If I have an autographed one, it’s in a different stack, not worth fishing for just for an item. So there, Mr Bezos — you may know what I look up online, but you don’t (yet) know what is one my shelves. (If I ever scan for inventorying, no doubt that will change.)

(7) CAT TREK. Somebody must need this – maybe it’s you! you can get a cardboard figure of Grudge the Cat. “Star Trek: Discovery Grudge Standee” at Star Trek Shop.

(8) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Dr. Sanjay Gupta Rates Halloween Masks – a segment on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert.

Halloween is coming up and with the coronavirus, it’s more important than ever for everyone to stay safe. That’s why CNN’s Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, is here to make sure your Halloween masks are as safe as your regular mask!

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Ben Bird Person, Danny Sichel, Michael Toman, JJ, John Hertz, Mike Kennedy, Cat Eldridge, Daniel Dern, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jon Meltzer.]

Pixel Scroll 10/20/20 Obi-Wan Said, Padawan, You’re Gonna Drive Me To Stalking If You Don’t Stop Flying That Millennial Falcon

(1) THE DOCTOR AND ROSE. Bustle previews a new installment of David Tennant Does A Podcast With…Billie Piper.

…Tennant met Piper 15 years ago on the set of Doctor Who. He entered in her second series and it’s hard looking back to imagine it as anything other than an immediate success. However, Piper said that when Dr Who was brought back to our screens with Christopher Eccleston in the leading role, that wasn’t the case. “When we started making it, everyone said it was going to be a failure. So you just didn’t imagine it being on for longer than three months,” she said. “Imagining that 15 years later, it’s still probably the biggest job you will have ever done and you’ll still be talking about it and going off and meeting people and, you know, celebrating it… That was a big reach.”

… Thinking about whether the reboot would be popular wasn’t the only thing on Piper’s mind. Doctor Who was the first big acting role she got after leaving the music world. “I wanted to prove myself as an actress; to myself, family, and this dream I had,” she said, “people don’t greet you with open arms when you’re trying new things, especially in this country. The attitude is very much ‘let’s see it then.’” Piper and Tennant made such a lasting impact on the series they’ve bot returned for guest appearances in Doctor Who.

Listen to the full conversation between Tennant and Piper at the link.

(2) THE ANCESTORS. Vulture’s Lila Shapiro profiles Rebecca Roanhorse and challenges to her as an “OwnVoices” writer in “The Sci-Fi Author Reimagining Native History”.

…Roanhorse is speaking from her home in Santa Fe, overlooking the Sun and Moon mountains. She lives there with her husband, a Diné (or Navajo) artist, and their 12-year-old daughter. She rarely speaks with her birth mother. “I’m sure some people may come home and find joy,” she said, “but that has not been my experience.” Her new book, Black Sun, is an epic set in an imaginary world inspired by the indigenous cultures of North America as they were before European explorers invaded the shores of the continent. Her work has been embraced by the literary world and often appears on lists of the best “OwnVoices” fantasy novels. (The phrase, which originated in 2015 as a Twitter hashtag and has since turned into a publicity tool, signifies that the author shares the same background or experiences as the characters they write.) And since entering the scene a few years ago, she’s already received many of the genre’s most prestigious awards. Black Sun, which was published on October 13, was one of the most eagerly anticipated titles of the fall. Some have compared it to the monumental achievements of N.K. Jemisin and George R.R. Martin. Screen adaptations of several projects are already underway.

But within Native communities, the book’s reception has been mixed. Although Roanhorse has many Native fans who have hailed her work as groundbreaking and revelatory, she also has a number of vocal detractors. Not long after her debut, Trail of Lighting, was published, a group of Diné writers released a letter accusing her of cultural appropriation, mischaracterizing Diné spiritual beliefs, and harmful misrepresentation. They took issue with Roanhorse’s decision to write a fantasy inspired by Diné stories, since she is only Diné by marriage, and wondered why she hadn’t written about her “own tribe,” referring to the Ohkay Owingeh people of New Mexico. Some have even expressed doubts about Roanhorse’s Native ancestry and her right to tell Native stories at all.

At a time when the publishing industry is throwing open its doors to authors who traditionally faced barriers to entry, the controversy over Roanhorse’s work reveals a fault line in the OwnVoices movement. Native identity is exceptionally complex. It consists of hundreds of cultures, each of which has its own customs. Further complicating all this is the fact that Roanhose grew up estranged from Native communities, an outsider through no choice of her own. This complexity is reflected in her writing — both her debut and her latest work concern protagonists who are at odds with their communities. “I’m always writing outsiders,” she says. “Their journey is usually about coming home, and sometimes they wished they’d stayed away.”

(3) MEET MR. SCIENCE. At Black Gate, Doug Ellis browses a pamphlet sent to drum up advertising for Analog in the early Sixties: “A Man of Science: A Study of the Readership of Analog Science Fact-Fiction. (Scans of the pamphlet can be read at the link.)

… The report discusses how Mr. Science’s income is about double that of Mr. Average’s, and that 38.4% of Mr. Science have had graduate study, compared to 2.3% of Mr. Average. It discusses various professional societies Mr. Science belongs to, and the credentials of some of its authors. It also spends two pages touting the background and editorship of John Campbell….

(4) A CLOSE SCRAPE. “NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Spacecraft Successfully Touches Asteroid” reports the space agency. Still awaiting word on sample quality as of this PR.

NASA’s Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft unfurled its robotic arm Tuesday, and in a first for the agency, briefly touched an asteroid to collect dust and pebbles from the surface for delivery to Earth in 2023.

This well-preserved, ancient asteroid, known as Bennu, is currently more than 200 million miles (321 million kilometers) from Earth. Bennu offers scientists a window into the early solar system as it was first taking shape billions of years ago and flinging ingredients that could have helped seed life on Earth. If Tuesday’s sample collection event, known as “Touch-And-Go” (TAG), provided enough of a sample, mission teams will command the spacecraft to begin stowing the precious primordial cargo to begin its journey back to Earth in March 2021. Otherwise, they will prepare for another attempt in January.

… All spacecraft telemetry data indicates the TAG event executed as expected. However, it will take about a week for the OSIRIS-REx team to confirm how much sample the spacecraft collected.

(5) LEHRER GOES PUBLIC. [Item by Daniel Dern.] Tom Lehrer has put all his lyrics in the public domain: Songs and Lyrics by Tom Lehrer. The site includes lyrics and sheet music, but, alas, no recordings.

My rough quick count shows about 45 songs I’m familiar with (including several from The Electric Company, of which at least four are on a Lehrer multi-CD compilation and on Spotify), although some posted include revisions and/or private versions (and, according to a separate list poster, not all known revisions/updates). Also about 60 songs that I’ve never heard of.

By the way, the home page advises: “Note: This website will be shut down on December 31, 2024, so if you want to download anything, don’t wait too long.”

As noted, some of the Electric Company songs are on (free) Spotify. And elsewhere, like YouTube (search “Tom Lerher Electric Company”). (And see http://www.tomlehrer.org/covers/electric.html for related info.)

I also recommend the (PBS) Tom Lehrer Live In Copenhagen concert, from decades ago, it shows what a great (IMHO) performer he is – available here at the Internet Archive.

(6) THE VERDICT ON CATS. John Hodgman ruled on a thorny issue in the February 16 New York Times Magazine.

Question: My friend Abby insists that the movie CATS is good.  She has even persuaded our friends to perform a live version of it on her backyard on St. Valentine’s Day.  She says this is not a sarcastic bit.  Please order her to admit that this is some sort of joke.

HODGMAN:  I am truly impartial, as I have never seen either the film or the stage production of CATS.  However, I have processed enough of my friends’ trauma after they watched the recent movie to establish these principles:  1) There is no way Abby can actually replicate the C.G.I. strangeness of that movie unless her backyard is a literal uncanny valley; 2) Thus, Abby is simply putting on the stage version of CATS, which everyone seems to have liked, even without sarcasm; 3) People like what they like, and it’s not your job to police your friends’ Jellicle thoughts.  Happy Valentine’s Day.  Now and forever.

(7) HE’S DEAD, JAMES. ‘Tis the season – so James Davis Nicoll lists “Five SFF Books Built Around Dead People (Or Mostly Dead People)”. Was Miracle Max wrong when he said “If he were all dead, there’s only one thing you can do”?

Inherit the Stars by James P. Hogan (1977)

Charlie is an enigma: a human corpse found in a cave on the Moon. A missing man should be easy to identify, given how few humans have made it out into space. Inexplicably, all of them can be accounted for. So who is the dead man?…

(8) ANOTHER DAM BOOKSTORE. “A Surreal New Bookstore Has Just Opened in China”Architectural Digest takes a look inside.

…For a book lover, stepping into a bookstore is always exciting, but a new bookstore in China makes the experience absolutely spellbinding. Dujiangyan Zhongshuge, located in Chengdu, was designed by Shanghai-based architecture firm X+Living, which has created several locations for Zhongshuge. The two-story space appears cathedral-like, thanks to the mirrored ceilings and gleaming black tile floors which reflect the bookcases, creating a visual effect that feels akin to an M.C. Escher drawing. “The mirror ceiling in the space is the signature of Zhongshuge bookstore,” says Li Xiang, founder of X+Living. “It effectively extends the space by reflection.”

Upon entering, shoppers encounter C-shaped bookcases, which create a series of intimate spaces. In the center of the store, towering arches and columns take advantage of the full height of the space. These bookcases were inspired by the history and topography of the region. “We moved the local landscape into the indoor space,” says Li. “The project is located in Dujiangyan, which is a city with a long history of water conservancy development, so in the main area, you could see the construction of the dam integrated into the bookshelves.”

(9) FUTURE-CON. The success of their first event has encouraged Future-Con’s organizers to keep going. Thread starts here.

(10) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.

  • 1979 — Forty one years ago, Robert Heinlein’s The Number of The Beast first saw publication as a serial staring with the October issue of Omni magazine which was edited by Ben Bova and Frank Kendig. New English Library would offer the first edition of it, a United Kingdom paperback, the following January. Fawcett Gold Medal / Ballantine would print the first U.S. edition, again a paperback, that summer. There would be no hardcover until twenty-years after it first came out when SFBC did one. It did not make the final voting list for Best Novel Hugo at Noreascon Two. It won no other awards. 

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born October 20, 1882 Bela Lugosi. He’s best remembered for portraying Count Dracula in the 1931 film franchise Drácula. He came to hate that he played that character feeling he’d been Typecast. Now tell me what’s your favorite film character that he played? (Died 1956.) (CE)
  • Born October 20, 1905 Frederic Dannay. One half with Manfred Bennington Lee of the writing team who created Ellery Queen.  ISFDB lists two Ellery Queen novels as being genre, And on the Eight Day and The Scrolls of Lysis, plus a single short story, “ A Study in Terror”. (Died 1982.) (CE) 
  • Born October 20, 1906 – Crockett Johnson.  Of this simple genius – that’s praise – I wrote here: Barnaby and Mr. O’Malley, Harold and the purple crayon, the geometricals.  A commenter mentioned Barkis.  Also there’s The Carrot Seed; more.  Fantagraphics’ fourth volume of Barnaby reprints is scheduled for 1 Dec 20.  (Died 1975) [JH]
  • Born October 20, 1923 – Erle M. Korshak, 97.  Sometimes known as “Mel”, hello Andrew Porter.  Here he is with other pioneers at Nycon I the 1st Worldcon.  Committee secretary, Chicon I the 2nd Worldcon.  His Shasta Publishers an early provider of hardback SF 1947-1957; after its end, EMK dormant awhile, then Shasta-Phoenix arose 2009 publishing classic SF art.  First Fandom Hall of Fame.  Barry Levin Lifetime Collector’s Award.  Announced as First Fandom Guest of Honor, Chicon 8 (80th Worldcon, 2022).  [JH]
  • Born October 20, 1934 Michael Dunn. He’s best remembered  for his recurring role on the Wild Wild West as Dr. Miguelito Loveless, attempting to defeat our heroes over and over, but he has had another appearances in genre television. He would be Alexander, a court jester, in the Trek “Plato’s Stepchildren” episode and a killer clown in the Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea “The Wax Men” episode. (Died 1973.) (CE)
  • Born October 20, 1937 – Betsy Haynes, 83.  Eighty novels of history, mystery, comedy, the supernatural.  In The Dog Ate My Homework a girl using a magic word can make things happen; to escape a test she says the school has been taken over by giant termites: suddenly she hears giant crunching steps.  Two dozen Bone Chillers by BH became a television series, some based on her books, some by other authors although BH appeared at the end of each saying Use your imagination.  [JH]
  • Born October 20, 1941 Anneke Wills, 79. She was Polly, a companion to the Second and Third Doctors. She was also in Doctor Who: Devious, a fan film in development since 1991 with live-action scenes mostly completed by 2005 but the film still not released I believe. You can see the first part here. (CE)
  • Born October 20, 1955 – Greg Hemsath, 65.  Active in Los Angeles fandom during the 1980s.  While rooming with local fan Talin, worked on The Faery Tale Adventure, a computer game for the Amiga; here is a map Greg and Bonnie Reid made.  Here is Talin in the “Dream Knight” vacuum-formed fantasy armor Greg helped with.  Remarks from Greg appear in Bill Rotsler fanzines.  Greg told Loscon XXVIII he was a past Guildmaster of the Crafters’ Guild of St. Gregory the Wonderworker.  Applying that title to Greg himself would be disrespectful, so I shan’t.  [JH]
  • Born October 20, 1958 Lynn Flewelling, 61. The lead characters of her Nightrunner series are both bisexual, and she has stated this is so was because of “the near-absence of LGBT characters in the genre and marginalization of existing ones.” (As quoted in Strange Horizon, September 2001) The Tamír Triad series is her companion series to this affair (CE) 
  • Born October 20, 1961 – Kate Mosse, O.B.E., 59.  Author of fiction, some historical; playwright, journalist e.g. The TimesThe GuardianBookseller; broadcaster e.g. Readers’ and Writers’ Roadshow on BBC Four.  For us, three Languedoc novels (she and husband lived there awhile), two more.  Co-founded the Women’s Prize for Fiction.  Officer of the Order of the British Empire.  First female executive director of Chichester Festival Theatre.  [JH]
  • Born October 20, 1966 – Diana Rowland, 54.  Marksmanship award in her Police Academy class.  Black Belt in Hapkido.  Math degree from Georgia Tech but has tried to forget.  Eight novels about Kara Gillian accidentally summoning a demon prince, and then what.  Six about white trash zombies.  A story in Wild Cards 26; half a dozen more.  [JH]
  • Born October 20, 1977 Sam Witwer, 43. He’s had many genre roles — Crashdown in Battlestar Galactica, Aidan Waite in Being Human, Davis Bloome in Smallville, Mr. Hyde in Once Upon a Time and Ben Lockwood in Supergirl. He has voiced Starkiller in Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, The Son in Star Wars: The Clone Wars,  was the Emperor Palpatine in Star Wars Rebels. and also voiced Darth Maul in Star Wars: The Clone WarsStar Wars Rebels and Solo: A Star Wars Story. (CE)

(12) COMICS SECTION.

  • Off The Mark shows why witches prefer cats.
  • Crankshaft knows who to call when you absolutely, positively have to have a facemask right away.

(13) SALADIN AHMED LEAVING MS. MARVEL. In January, writer Saladin Ahmed and artist Minkyu Jung will end their run on Magnificent Ms. Marvel with an oversized finale issue.

Since launching last year, Magnificent Ms. Marvel has been a revolutionary era for Kamala Khan, with surprising developments in both her personal life and burgeoning super hero career. Between saving the alien planet of Saffa to fighting against the mysterious and deadly entity known as Stormranger, Kamala Khan also teamed up with new allies to defend her home of Jersey City.

Ahmed and Jung will end this thrilling journey with an issue that sees Ms. Marvel facing down Stormranger with the help of new hero Amulet, all while confronting the ongoing drama surrounding her family and friends. The special giant-sized issue also happens to the be the 75th issue of Kamala Khan’s solo adventures and will be a worthy capstone to a run that has greatly enhanced the legacy of one of Marvel’s brightest stars.

Here’s what Saladin had to say about closing out his tenure on the title:

“Forget super heroes, Kamala Khan is just plain one of the most important fictional characters of her generation. I knew that was true even before I came to write comics. But meeting and hearing from fans since launching The Magnificent Ms. Marvel has made it clearer and clearer. Kamala means so much to so many! Muslim readers. South Asian readers. But also people of all ages and cultures from all over the world who want to root for a selfless, kindhearted (possibly slightly dorky) hero in this grim, stingy era.

“Minkyu Jung’s pencils and designs went effortlessly from the streets of Jersey City to the alien plains of Saffa to night sky battles, always maintaining the human emotion that drives this book. From homicidal battlesuits to awkward conversations, he constantly pushed our story in new visual directions. I can’t imagine a more perfect artist for this run, and I’m so happy we got to work together.

“Of course a hero’s myth becomes most fully realized when it is passed between storytellers, changing with each telling. We’ve brought Kamala face to face with new enemies and to new places in her personal life, sent her to space and to the edge of the law. Now others will tell her story their way. I can’t wait to see what that looks like.”

(14) LIVING IN THE PRESENT. In the Washington Post, David Betancourt interviews Star Trek: Discovery star Sonequa Martin-Green, who says she gave birth to her second child in July.  She promotes the series (where filming wrapped in March) as well as her appearance in the forthcoming Space Jam 2. “Sonequa Martin-Green stars in a future she hopes one day can be a reality”.

 .. The year 2020 and all that has come with it has been a monumental one for Martin-Green, who has become the face of the next generation of “Star Trek” storytelling while also strengthening her voice in support of the Black Lives Matter movement in a moment of American social awakening. She and her husband, “Walking Dead” actor Kenric Green, welcomed their second child, Saraiyah Chaunté Green, on July 19 (via a home birth that was planned pre-pandemic). Martin-Green describes 2020 as a “doozy” but says that, despite all its difficulties, it will always be highlighted by the birth of her daughter.

This year’s racial reckoning in America has weighed heavily on Martin-Green, an Alabama native, who says she is keenly aware of the “new” and in some cases “old” world that awaits her Black children.

“Being Black in America, but also being raised in the South — where racism is quite in your face, it’s not so subtle down there — I feel like this is a time of exposure and a time of enlightenment,” Martin-Green said.

(15) TAKE COVER. “Wear a Mask” parodies the “Be Our Guest” number from Beauty and the Beast.

(16) SPIRITS QUEST. Richard Foss will offer a free virtual talk for the Palos Verdes Library called “Imbibing LA: Boozing it Up in the City of Angels” on October 29 at 7 p.m. reports EasyReader News.

In the talk he explores the history of alcohol in Los Angeles, which the library describes as a “historical center of winemaking and brewing, a region where cocktails were celebrated by movie stars and hunted down by prohibitionists, and a place where finely balanced drinks and abysmal concoctions were crafted by bartenders and celebrities. This talk explores that lively history from the first Spaniards to the end of Prohibition.”

Foss says if you want to appreciate the skill and the artistry of a chef or a bartender or anyone else who is in the restaurant industry, “it helps to know the cultural background, and that’s one of the things that I try to do with this particular talk. It’s about the history of drinking in Los Angeles from the time of the Spanish on to the current era.”

…When not reviewing restaurants or giving talks about food history, Foss is busy curating an exhibition for the Autry Museum of the American West called “Cooking up a New West.”

It’s about the waves of immigration that came to California and how it changed the way America eats. “At the time I proposed this I didn’t think of it as remotely political but in the current environment anything that you do about the value immigrants have added to our culture has suddenly become more political than it used to be.”

The exhibit is expected to open in 2021.

Readers can register for “Imbibing LA: Boozing it Up in the City of Angels” here.

(17) SETTING THE BAR WHERE IT BELONGS. [Item by Dann.] I came across this via Grimdark Magazine: “Five Things Netflix Must Get Right For Conan”. I didn’t see any mention of this development until recently. FWIW, I think their points are pretty good. I would summarize them as:

  • Conan should be a character that demonstrates violence
  • Conan is more than a brooding hulk of muscles.  Get the character right by reflecting his humor and intelligence.
  • Get the casting right.  The lead actor has to be a physical specimen capable of presenting a broad array of emotions.
  • Respect and represent the source material.
  • This isn’t generic fantasy.  RE Howard created a complete alternative history and mythos.  Use that creation to tell better stories.

I’ve got a Kindle edition of the complete Conan stories by RE Howard.  I’ll read a story or two in between novels.  Too many times, it turns into a story or ten!

(18) HARRY POTTER AND THE LIBERATED TOME. MailOnline is hot on the trail: “Harry Potter and the £40k lost library book: Bosses at British reading centre want to reclaim book that went missing two decades ago… before selling for a fortune at US auction”.

… The book was one of three original editions of JK Rowling’s debut purchased by the city’s library in 1997. Only 500 hardbacks were ever printed.

In 2004, two were sold to raise extra money. It was then that staff discovered that the third was missing.

Its whereabouts remained a mystery until it appeared at Heritage Auctions in Dallas, Texas, being sold by a Californian owner. A Portsmouth City Library stamp inside the book appears to be from August 1997.

It went on to sell for $55,000 (£42,500), nearly three times its $20,000 estimate.

Portsmouth City Council library service says the book in question was not officially checked out.

Eric Bradley, Heritage Auctions’ public relations director, told the BBC: ‘If the Portsmouth library was interested in getting it back… I think it would set a precedent, because I think it would be the first time a library took a serious case to reclaim a Harry Potter book.’

(19) SECRET HISTORY. Is this how Europe got fractured?

(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “The Hobbit:  The Desolation of Smaug Pitch Meeting” on ScreenRant, Ryan George explains the reason the hobbits can float down a raging river on barrels without the barrels filling up with water is that they’re on the river of questionable physics.”

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Jeffrey Smith, Dann, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, John Hertz, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel “Confuse The Force, Luke” Dern.]