Pixel Scroll 12/6/23 For The Scroll Is Hollow And I’ve Touched A Pixel

(1) END OF AN ERA. Kristine Kathryn Rusch signed off her influential weekly business blog on November 22. “Business Musings: All Good Things”.

…I wasn’t that desparate in 2009 and I’m certainly not that desperate now. As I noted in some recent blogs, my books are all in print. The books of my traditional friends? Not in print at all. Or if they are in print, my friends aren’t making a dime off of them.

It’s discouraging, but as I’ve seen over the past few years, people have dug in. It doesn’t matter that traditional writers now have to get a “real” job to make a living. Or that the changes in indie have made it possible for those of us who understand business to make a good living while writing what we love.

We’ve changed.

The world has changed.

And honestly, I’m not that interested in writing about the publishing industry weekly. There is no publishing industry anymore. There are different aspects of book publishing, all of which fascinate me, and none of which make me want to pontificate for a few thousand words every single week.

Then there’s my writing itself. In the spring, I made a list of the books clamoring to get out of my brain. The series that need finishing right now, the standalones I’ve been dying to write, the books I’ve intended to write since the turn of the century if not longer, as well as the short stories that rise to the top of my to-do list because I read an inspiring article or saw an amazing play.

I will have time to write all of that if I double down on my fiction writing. Or triple down. When I write fiction, I write a minimum of 1,000 new words per hour. The blog takes a minimum of 10 hours per week from idea to page, including the audio (which is maybe 20 minutes of that 10 hours). I love the audio. It’s fun.

The blog, not so much.

In fact it had become such a drag that I put it off until the last minute, and then have to give up even more fiction writing time to get it down.

And while the blog makes me more money per month than someone would earn making minimum wage (not counting all the nonfiction books I get out of it or the other perks), I could make more money if I write three novellas a year, whether I sell them to traditional markets or not.

The blog is self-sustaining financially, but it’s actively costing me money. My earnings as a fiction writer have gone up dramatically in the past fourteen years….

… Thirty dollars per hour writing a blog post that has little resale value or $1000 per hour writing stories that can sell for decades. It’s really a no brainer….

… Except…I do like noting things about the publishing industry, from time to time. Some things catch my attention and I want to discuss them. I will do that on my Patreon page, which I am not shutting down.    

I’ll be doing mostly short posts pointing out an article that writers might want to pay attention to, or commenting on some major change. I’m not going to do a long essay, unless I feel inspired….

(2) BUMPER CROP. Slashfilm reveals “Syfy Spent Thousands On Leonard Nimoy And William Shatner Star Trek Ads You Probably Missed”.

…Barry Schulman had been with the Sci-Fi Channel since its start, and he remembers the glory days in detail. He was interviewed for the indispensable book “The Fifty-Year Mission: The Next 25 Years: From The Next Generation to J. J. Abrams,” edited by Mark A. Altman and Edward Gross, and he remembered the production of what was to be one of the more ambitious advertising tie-ins the network could have possibly received. It seems that the Sci-Fi Channel wrote and paid for a series of extended “Star Trek”-inspired interview-style infomercials to be hosted by Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner — Spock and Kirk themselves! — to run after individual episodes. 

Sadly, due to poor ratings, the ads were only sparsely seen….

Of course, programming “Star Trek” presented a technical problem. In the late 1960s, when the hour-long “Star Trek” originally aired on NBC, the broadcast ad breaks only totaled about 10 minutes, leaving 50 minutes of show. By the early 1990s, ad time had grown to 16 minutes, leaving only 44 minutes of show. That would mean any new broadcast of “Star Trek” would, by advertisers’ decree, need to be shaved down by six minutes. 

Shulman’s solution was to expand the “Star Trek” time slot from a 60-minute span to a 90-minute span, including all 50 minutes of “Trek” as well as whole ad breaks. He’d then pad out the remainder of the 90-minute slot with Shatner/Nimoy intro/outro segments. Brilliant….

… The good news is that you can actually watch all of these bumpers with Shatner and Nimoy on YouTube.

Here’s the video for the original Star Trek pilot, “The Cage”.

(3) FANAC.ORG ZOOM. The next Fan History Zoom session is scheduled for Saturday, December 9 at 2:00 p.m. Eastern. If you would like to join, drop a note to [email protected].

APAS EVERYWHERE – Fred Lerner, Christina Lake, Amy Thomson and Tom Whitmore.

Since the first FAPA mailing in 1937, APAs have been a part of fannish life. There are topic specific apas, local apas, general interest apas, convention committee apas, letter substitutes and doubtless many more. Our panelists, all long time APA members, talk about their experiences with APA life: Why did you join the APA(s)? Did you APA live up to your expectations and why? Tell us about the APAs you’ve been part of, and tell us what makes them unique. (You can tell us about APAs you weren’t part of too!) Talk about the way the members of the APA related to each other, and the nature of that community. Compare the experience of an online community like LiveJournal or Facebook with your APA experience. The Cult was called the “13 Nastiest Bastards in Fandom”. Was it? What feels different about womens’ APAs? Are APAs now obsolete? Would you join a new APA today?

Future Zoom History sessions: 

  • January 20, 2024 – 2PM EST, 11AM PST and 7PM London GMT – An Interview with Joe Green, fan, s-f writer, NASA spokesman and educator.
  • February 17, 2024 – 7PM EST, 11 AM Feb 18 Melbourne AEDT – Wrong Turns on the Wallaby Track Part 2, with Leigh Edmonds and Perry Middlemiss
  • March 16, 2024 – 3PM EDT, 2PM CDT, 7PM London (GMT) – The Women Fen Don’t See – Claire Brialey, Kate Heffner, and Leah Zeldes Smith

(4) THE DOG IN THE NIGHT. “Arthur Conan Doyle secretly resented his Sherlock Holmes creation, says historian” reports the Guardian.

Arthur Conan Doyle secretly hated his creation Sherlock Holmes and blamed the cerebral detective character for denying him recognition as the author of highbrow historical fiction, according to the historian Lucy Worsley.

Doyle was catapulted from “obscurity to worldwide fame” after his crime stories began appearing in a magazine in 1891, Worsley writes in the Radio Times. Eleven years later he was awarded a knighthood.

Yet “beneath the surface he was a discontented man”, according to Worsley….

(5) MAJOR SFF EVENTS IN EUROPE IN 2024. [Item by Dave Lally.] The year 2024 has a number of major SF+F events, in Europe, approaching (and all dates given herein are inclusive).  And this info is primarily for those from outside the area (and I trust this data is of help).

Here is major SF+F event No 1 (and in the English Midlands of the UK):

EASTERCON 2024 — Fri 29 March – Mon 1 April we have, in the UK,  Eastercon / “Levitation” (the UK’s annual National SF Con:  Telford, just north of Birmingham).  

[And NOTA BENE, post Eastercon on Thu 4 April, there is the very long standing “One Tun” Central London SF fen meeting (Asimov came in 1974). Upstairs (private) bar 1800-> closing. THE BISHOPS FINGER (pub), London EC1A 9JR (for internet maps). Real craft ale/hot food. Order both on Ground floor. Food delivered later up to you. Nearest Tube: Barbican. Nearest Rail : Farringdon. Nearest Elizabeth Line (esp from Heathrow) : Farringdon ( /// Barbican  exit!!/// ). All  welcome: whether local-to-London or non locals just passing thru!! ]  

Nearest UK Rail Station to 2024 Eastercon : Telford {UK Rail Station code:  TFC}. There are Express InterCity trains from London Euston (if first visiting there, pre-Eastercon) but one should then change trains at Birmingham International { Station code: BHI } NOT Birmingham New St (and see below why, esp re TfW trains). 


Nearest Airport : Birmingham UK [ IATA code : BHX ],  then take the free air-rail shuttle from that Airport, to the local, next door train Station : Birmingham International (as above). There, catch a north-bound train to Telford. 

[If esp travelling from the States, it might be useful to fly to Shannon or to Dublin and then transfer onto a more local flight to BHX. Why? Cos on the return journey from either of those 2 Irish airports (and thanks to JFK +60 years ago), one pre-clears US formalities at those departure locations (the only two so far in Europe, which have them) and then one leaves one’s US airport as a standard, domestic passenger!] 


Especially useful, re UK train travel from { BHI } above,  is the long-distance train (run by Transport for Wales: TfW) which always starts from that Rail Station (usual final destination: ABERYSTWYTH, in mid-Wales). So seats to Telford are usually plentily available thereon, at that Station. Other northbound trains from { BHI } may only go to nearby Birmingham New St (in that City’s central area) or onto Wolverhampton, where one may otherwise then have to change trains anyway. And those other trains may get heavily used by Birmingham commuters, who may block seats for longer-journey-travelling passengers. 

And UK rail data (times, fares etc) are available on: nationalrail(dot)co(dot)uk.  The “green” way to travel..!!

[By the way, that TfW train eventually goes, on splitting much further up the line,  past Portmeirion (!), tho that famous SF (Prisoner) site is much, much further away in North West Wales (oh and see LocationCon data I will provide later, re the proposed visit  –on Tue 6 August– to that venue, pre- and on the way to, Glasgow Worldcon 2024).] 

Eastercon 2024’s website :  Levitation 2024 — The 2024 British National Science Fiction Convention.

( And, as always,  non-UK fen are very welcome indeed at all SF+F events in Europe, incl the UK’s annual NatSFCon- Eastercon..)

(6) LIKE SAND THROUGH AN HOURGLASS. Inverse is warming up the audience for the release of the next Dune movie on March 1, 2024. “’Dune 2’s First 10 Minutes Restores a Classic Scene From The Book — With a Twist”. Spoilers at the link.

When Dune: Part One hit in 2021, fans immediately noticed one change from both the original 1965 novel and the 1984 feature film. Instead of an opening narration from Princess Irulan, Dune: Part One began with a voiceover from Chani (Zendaya). This inversion smartly centered the story of Dune: Part One from the perspective of the Fremen, at least partially. And now, with Dune: Part Two hitting in 2024, the opening of the film will honor the opening of the original book. But this time, the content of the narration will be decidedly different.

Minor spoilers ahead for the first 10 minutes of Dune: Part Two.

At CCXP 2023 in São Paulo, Brazil, on December 3, 2023, during a Dune: Part Two panel, audiences were treated to several preview scenes, including the first 10 minutes of the movie. Back in 2021, the first 10 minutes of Part One were also teased in special screenings, so this kind of preview seems to now be a tradition ahead of the launch of a new Dune movie.

(7) MISSING A NUMBER. Guardian critic Peter Bradshaw was there: “The Moonwalkers: A Journey With Tom Hanks review – a gobsmackingly huge space spectacle”.

Tom Hanks is the narrator and co-writer of this colossal and immersive multimedia family entertainment event or next-level school trip, about Nasa’s historic Apollo moon landings and the planned new Artemis missions. It’s taking place at Lightroom, the innovative new digital art performance venue at London’s Kings Cross – recently the site of Bigger And Closer, an immersive show about David Hockney.

With the audience gathered in the darkened arena-type area, seated on little upholstered double-stools dotted about, Tom Hanks’s likably folksy and nerdily enthusiastic voiceover booms out telling us that this floor space is the size of Mission Control, Houston. Soon, gobsmackingly huge photo images of the moon’s surface and our own planet Earth are flashed up around the walls, also great film footage of the astronauts bouncing and floating, and all with the cathedral vastness and crystal clarity that they have probably always deserved but never before got from TV screens or even movie screens….

… But the strangest omission is the lack of any mention of Apollo 13, the near-disaster rescued with magnificent ingenuity and resourcefulness by the astronauts and ground crews, which Tom Hanks himself almost single-handedly turned into a key moment of American history with his performance as astronaut Jim Lovell in Ron Howard’s film.

Apollo 13 is, after all, why Tom Hanks is narrating this….

(8) NORMAN LEAR (1922-2023). The resume of TV’s Norman Lear even included a few items of genre interest. “Norman Lear, Whose Comedies Changed the Face of TV, Is Dead at 101” in the New York Times.

Norman Lear, the television writer and producer who introduced political and social commentary into situation comedy with “All in the Family” and other shows, proving that it was possible to be topical as well as funny while attracting millions of viewers, died on Tuesday at his home in Los Angeles. He was 101.

In 2003, he helped write a few episodes of “South Park,” the taboo-breaking animated series that was the “All in the Family” of its day. (The show’s creators, Matt Stone and Trey Parker, have said that their bile-spewing character Eric Cartman is partly based on Archie Bunker.)

Mr. Lear turned his attention back to movies in 1982, when he, Mr. Yorkin and Jerry Perenchio bought Avco Embassy Pictures. The newly renamed Embassy Communications released films, including … the acclaimed mock documentary “This Is Spinal Tap” (1984), directed by the “All in the Family” alumnus Rob Reiner.

In 1985… Mr. Lear founded Act III Communications, named to signify the third act of his life. Act III’s most notable productions were two other Rob Reiner films, “Stand by Me” (1986) and “The Princess Bride” (1987)….

(9) MEMORY LANE.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

1975 –Joe Haldeman’s The Forever War. Anyone here who has not read Joe Haldeman’s The Forever War should now leave. Really should as I’m going to discuss it.

It was published by St. Martin’s Press forty-eight years ago with the cover illustration not being credited by ISFFB. 

It would win a Hugo at MidAmeriCon, plus a Nebula and a Ditmar, and be nominated for a Prometheus Award. 

Haldeman said in a Guardian review of 2011 that “It’s about Vietnam, because that was the war the author was in”.  

It was sixteen years after Starship Troopers came out and I thought that Haldeman said it was written as a reaction to that novel but the Guardian quote contradicts that. The reviewer there thinks that much of the look and feel of the book comes from Heinlein’s novel but I didn’t feel that was true. Do you? 

According to the Authors note to my epub Open Road edition of 2008, “This is the definitive edition of The Forever War.” It looks like a novella titled “You can never go back again” that Bova wouldn’t publish at Analog because he thought it was “too downbeat” and therefore wasn’t in the first edition is now included in the middle section of the novel. 

Now for its excellent Beginning…

‘Tonight we’re going to show you eight silent ways to kill a man.’ The guy who said that was a sergeant who didn’t look five years older than me. So if he’d ever killed a man in combat, silently or otherwise, he’d done it as an infant. 

I already knew eighty ways to kill people, but most of them were pretty noisy. I sat up straight in my chair and assumed a look of polite attention and fell asleep with my eyes open. So did most everybody else. We’d learned that they never scheduled anything important for these after-chop classes. 

The projector woke me up and I sat through a short tape showing the ‘eight silent ways.’ Some of the actors must have been brainwipes, since they were actually killed. After the tape a girl in the front row raised her hand. The sergeant nodded at her and she rose to parade rest. Not bad looking, but kind of chunky about the neck and shoulders. Everybody gets that way after carrying a heavy pack around for a couple of months.

 ‘Sir’—we had to call sergeants ‘sir’ until graduation—‘most of those methods, really, they looked … kind of silly.’

‘For instance?’ ‘Like killing a man with a blow to the kidneys, from an entrenching tool. I mean, when would you actually have only an entrenching tool, and no gun or knife? And why not just bash him over the head with it?’ 

‘He might have a helmet on,’ he said reasonably. 

‘Besides, Taurans probably don’t even have kidneys!’ 

He shrugged. ‘Probably they don’t.’ This was 1997, and nobody had ever seen a Tauran; hadn’t even found any pieces of Taurans bigger than a scorched chromosome. ‘But their body chemistry is similar to ours, and we have to assume they’re similarly complex creatures. They must have weaknesses, vulnerable spots. You have to find out where they are.

‘That’s the important thing.’ He stabbed a finger at the screen. ‘Those eight convicts got caulked for your benefit because you’ve got to find out how to kill Taurans, and be able to do it whether you have a megawatt laser or an emery board.” She sat back down, not looking too convinced.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born December 6, 1911 Ejler Jakobsson. (Died 1984.) His first publications, edited with his wife, were The Octopus and The Scorpion in 1939 which were definitely of a pulpish nature.

He has responsibility for Astonishing Stories and Super Science Stories briefly before they shut down production due to paper shortages. When Super Science Stories was revived in 1949, Jakobsson was named editor until the magazine again (and finally) ceased publication in 1951.  I’ve never read that magazine. Who here has? 

He was an editor for Graphic Books in the 1950s. Jakobsson returned to editing in 1969, when he took over Galaxy and If, succeeding Frederik Pohl. He worked to make the magazines more up to date according to SFE with the help of Judy-Lynn del Rey and Lester del Rey. He left the magazines in 1974 and was succeeded by Jim Baen.

SFE says that “During Jakobsson’s editorship the following anthologies were published (his name did not appear on their title pages): The Best from Galaxy Vol I (anth 1972) edited by The Editors of Galaxy Magazine; The Best from If (anth 1973) edited anonymously; The Best from Galaxy Vol II (anth 1974) edited by The Editors of Galaxy Magazine; and The Best from If Vol II (anth 1974) edited by The Editors of If Magazine.” None of these are currently in-print. 

He also wrote a handful of short fiction according to ISFDB, all with Edith Jakobsson. The titles, such as “Corpses on Parades”, “Coming of The Unborn Things” and “Satan’s Toy Monsters”, suggest they were horror writers. These were never gathered into a collection. 

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) FAN MAIL FOR FLASH GORDON. “1980’s FLASH GORDON: Movie of the (Wonderfully) Impossible!” at 13th Dimension.

…It’s a famous story by now—one of the great What If?s in all of pop culture—that in the early 1970s, George Lucas tried to buy the rights to Flash Gordon. His failure to do so led (indirectly) to the creation of Star Wars, and popular entertainment would never be the same. De Laurentiis had first wanted Federico Fellini(!) to direct, then moved onto Nicolas Roeg(!!), finally settling on journeyman director Mike Hodges and screenwriter Lorenzo Semple Jr. (who, besides helping develop the Batman TV series, wrote the 1976 King Kong remake for De Laurentiis). With a budget of $27 million (around $100 million today), De Laurentiis was, as usual, going big.

He’s a miracle!

After a magnificently exciting opening credits scene (scored to Queens’ iconic, propulsive theme music, and peppered with art from the comic strip), we jump right to the action—by the 20-minute mark we’re already on Mongo.

Every sci-fi/fantasy film post-Star Wars bears its influence, visually and tonally. But De Laurentiis’ personality was still so big and forceful that Flash Gordon hits a sweet spot between what a big budget, modern sci-fi movie was supposed to feel like in 1980, and the more idiosyncratic, phantasmagorical, Pop Art feel of the 1960s. Almost everything in Flash Gordon is a practical effect—the retro-futuristic spaceships and weaponry, the Art Deco sets, and the costumes that look mighty uncomfortable for the actors to wear….

(13) SUBMISSION WINDOW. Chris Barkley wanted to make sure I didn’t miss “The Magazine of Horror” by Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki, published in 2020 by Apex Magazine. I’m glad he sent the link.

… PS: as an aside, I was wondering and didn’t want to add something so silly to the main body of my cover letter. It’s silly really. The worries of a newbie writer. I heard that your magazine is the greatest horror magazine and will only publish the greatest horror story at a time, and in the lifetime of the published writer, will publish no other story, until the accepted writer expires. Also, that should a story be accepted, the current story is deleted and the displaced writer dies. What is worse, I heard that all those rejected by your magazine also die. This is of course all just silly rumours. I notice that your magazine only has one story on it, despite its ridiculously high pay rate of a hundred thousand dollars per story…

(14) DAY AND NIGHT, YOU ARE THE ONE. “Chronobiologist and Nobel Laureate in Medicine Michael Rosbash: ‘Lack of sunlight during the day is worse than electric lighting at night’” in El País USA Edition.

Q. One of the things that flies and privileged people have in common is napping and sleeping at night. What is the biological purpose of sleep and of these intermediate pauses during the day?

A. We do not know. Memories are consolidated during sleep and neuronal morphology is modified during sleep. All that happens, but I do not think that is the major purpose of sleep. We do not know what fly and human sleep, for example, have in common. My guess is that it is related to metabolism, such as recharging ATP [adenosine triphosphate, a key energy molecule in cells]. The brain is the largest consumer of ATP; perhaps there is a metabolic need for recharging….

(15) ALL GLORY IS FLEETING. The New York Times tells how “George Santos Uses Cameo Videos to Make, of All Things, an Honest Buck”. (You can view his Cameo videos here: George Santos.) (Though it’s possible Bowen Yang is an even better Santos, as proven by his imitation in Saturday Night Live’s “George Santos Expelled Cold Open” last weekend.)

…Three days after George Santos was expelled from the House of Representatives, he sat in front of a camera to address the American people.

Well, a few American people. The ones willing to pay Mr. Santos — the former congressman who stands accused on federal fraud charges of stealing money from campaign donors for personal expenses — hundreds of dollars a pop on the video app Cameo.

“Hey, Sarah,” Mr. Santos said in one video. “Sometimes work sucks. I mean, let’s talk about bad days, huh? Last Friday wasn’t so great for me, either.”

It was a rare moment of truth for Mr. Santos, who lied to voters and his colleagues about where he went to high school, going to college, being a volleyball star, working on Wall Street, having Jewish ancestry and family ties to the Holocaust and the Sept. 11 attacks, among other things.

There was a time when Mr. Santos expressed regret for some of those falsehoods. His videos on Cameo suggest that time has passed.

“Hey, Harper! I love that you are such a dedicated student at N.Y.U.,” Mr. Santos says in one, before pausing, smirking and chuckling. “You know,” he adds, cocking his eyebrows: “My … not-so-real M.B.A.”

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. I don’t think dogs are rules lawyers by nature the way Ryan George makes them out to be in “When Dogs See A Christmas Tree”, but that’s where the humor comes from in this video. Tell the internet to go fetch it for you.

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

Pixel Scroll 12/1/23 Five Weeks In A Granfalloon

(1) WATERSTONES BOOK OF 2023. The Guardian reports, “Katherine Rundell wins Waterstones book of 2023 with ‘immediate classic’”.

Impossible Creatures by Katherine Rundell has been named the 2023 Waterstones book of the year.

The children’s novel, about a magical archipelago where all mythical creatures still reside, was voted for by booksellers as the book they most enjoyed recommending to readers over the past year.

Rundell said that she was “truly, utterly thrilled” on hearing the news. “I did not believe it until they showed me it in writing. I made my editor show me written-out proof.”

(2) AUTHORS SUE IOWA. NBC News has details as “Penguin Random House and bestselling authors sue Iowa over school book-banning law”.

The nation’s largest publisher and several bestselling authors, including novelists John Green and Jodi Picoult, are part of a lawsuit filed Thursday challenging Iowa’s new law that bans public school libraries and classrooms from having practically any book that depicts sexual activity….

…The law also bans books containing references to sexual orientation and gender identity for students through sixth grade, which the lawsuit says is a violation of the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause.

The lawsuit seeks a court order declaring the law unconstitutional, Novack said, adding that government can’t violate free speech rights “by pretending that school grounds are constitutional no-fly zones.”

The lawsuit does not seek monetary damages….

…Asked for comment on the lawsuit, Reynold’s office referred to her statement issued earlier this week in response to a separate lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union and Lambda Legal on behalf of several families challenging the entirety of the new law. In that statement, Reynolds defended the law as “protecting children from pornography and sexually explicit content.”

Plaintiffs in the latest lawsuit took issue with that characterization, noting that among books that have been banned in Iowa schools are such critically acclaimed and classic works as “The Color Purple” by Alice Walker, “Native Son” by Richard Wright and “1984” by George Orwell, showing that under the law, “no great American novel can survive,” [said Dan Novack, an attorney for and vice president of Penguin Random House]….

(3) DAWN OF CYBERPUNK. The Mirrorshades anthology edited by Bruce Sterling (1986) is now available as a free download (or can be read at the link).

(4) IMAGINARY PAPERS. ASU’s Center for Science and the Imagination has published the sixteenth issue of Imaginary Papers, a quarterly newsletter on science fiction worldbuilding, futures thinking, and imagination. 

In this issue, David K. Seitz writes about “Sanctuary,” a 1993 episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine with timely insights about the abandonment and exclusion of refugees; Katherine Buse and Ranjodh Singh Dhaliwal write about the 2019 video game Hypnospace Outlaw and its alternate-history vision of the 1990s internet; and we share two recent academic publications by our colleague Malka Older, the sociologist and science fiction author.

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

(5) CHINA FANDOM. RiverFlow, a finalist for a 2023 Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer, is interviewed in “Students Are the Future of Science Fiction: A Conversation with RiverFlow by Arley Sorg” at Clarkesworld Magazine.

How did you get involved with the science fiction community?

…On July 23, 2020, I founded the sci-fi fanzine also called Zero Gravity. My hope is that Zero Gravity can let zero gravity sci-fi fans have access to more information, and that they can use this publication to combine the power of Chinese fans. (China has not had an official fanzine, so sci-fi fans did not have a centralized platform for expression.) Now those scattered, but high-quality, sci-fi review articles can be seen by more people. In 2023, we started contacting foreign writers and translating their introductions to the history of sci-fi in their own country as well!

(6) LUKYANENKO’S DECEMBER 1ST EVENTS IN CHENGDU. [Item by Ersatz Culture.] The Weibo account of publisher 8 Light Minutes posted this covering the Friday morning event where Lukyanenko visited a university.  I’m far from certain about this, but I think the guy sitting third from left in the photo of the audience is Chen Shi, aka Raistlin Chen, one of the Worldcon co-chairs.

The afternoon visit to the SF Museum was covered in this Weibo post, which seems to come from the media relations account for the Pidu district of Chengdu, and is a short video with minimal information.  If my recollection of the layout of the museum is correct, the opening shot shows that the big “Hugo Award” rocket mounted on the wall has now been removed.

(7) DOUBLING DOWN ON DOUBLING UP. [Item by Bruce D. Arthurs.] A comment on Blue Sky led to this amusing news piece about a legal motion to impose Microsoft Word standards (28 points) over regular standards (24 points) when double-spacing in legal documents.

Reminded me of the Formatting Foofaraws that regularly erupted in fanzine fandom and still do in writing circles. But this particular one used sixty-six pages of argument and citations in its motion, which feels excessive, even if it was a fannish foofaraw.

(Since this was filed by a law firm, cynical me suspects the legal profession’s “Maximize your billable hours” rule was in action here.) “Heated Litigation Fight Over ‘Double-Spacing’ Ends In Judge Telling Everyone To Shut Up” at Above the Law.

…The brief backs up the vagaries over time point by noting that Microsoft even expanded its spacing before the 2007 version release and that the company’s “double spacing” is not even consistent across fonts.

There’s not been a historical account of typography this thrilling since that Helvetica movie!

Not content to leave well enough alone, plaintiffs pile on with policy arguments for their interpretation of double spacing….

(8) READY FOR YOUR CLOSE-UP? In this 1966 commercial for Butter-Nut Coffee, viewers were enlisted to interact with Boris Karloff, delivering the subtitled lines. (Why are you trembling? Maybe you’ve already had too much caffeine…)

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born December 1, 1942 John Crowley, 81. What a splendiferous Little, Big is! Full of quiet charms that invite second and third readings. It won a Mythoepoeic Award and World Fantasy Award, and was nominated for a Hugo at Chicon IV. It also picked up Balrog, BSFA and Nebula nominations as well. Oh, and it deservedly makes David Pringle’s Modern Fantasy: The 100 Best Novels.

For a treat, you should listen to Crowley read it. He takes great pleasure in doing so. It’s available on Audible. 

John Crowley

Next up is the Ægypt cycle as it’s called that, huh, Harold Bloom declared part of American canon of books. I thought they were good but unlike Little, Big, I’ll freely admit that I’ve not gone back to them since the first reading of them. 

And there’s Lord Byron’s Novel: The Evening Land in which the author in loving detail envisions the novel the Lord Byron never penned but very well might have. An extraordinary work indeed. 

Finally my last novel that I like by him is Ka: Dar Oakley in the Ruin of Ymr. As Crowley says on his stellar site, “Dar Oakley, the main character and storyteller in the novel, is really a Crow.” It’s hard to bring off making a narrator that it’s animal feel like an animal but he does so it here. Fascinating tale indeed which also has a telling narrated by him. Crowley being his crow. Cool indeed. It won a Mythopoeic Award and garnered a World Fantasy Award nomination as well. 

I’ve not read enough short fiction by him to reach a firm opinion of him as a teller of tales at that length, so your opinion please as to which collection I should delve into. The newest one is And Go Like This: Stories. Will that do?

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Tom Gauld is not waiting.

(11) UYGHURS REMEMBERED. Danielle Ranucci, an sff writer and an intern at the Human Rights Foundation, “a nonprofit dedicated to combating dictatorial regimes”, has written an opinion piece “about how China has co-opted Worldcon to help avoid accountability for its ongoing Uyghur genocide.” “Worldconned: How China Co-Opted Sci-Fi’s Crown Jewel Amidst the Uyghur Genocide”. (Ranucci’s personal blog is “Lit In The Time Of War”.)

 Last month, Chengdu, China hosted the 81st World Science Fiction Convention. Known as Worldcon, this annual convention is the site of the prestigious Hugo Awards—sci-fi’s equivalent to the Oscars. Past Hugo winners include household names like George R.R. Martin and Stephen King. Yet as over 20,000 people flocked to Chengdu’s futuristic-looking Worldcon site, China was committing one of the largest genocides since the Holocaust.

China is detaining 2 million Uyghurs, Kazakhs, and other ethnic populations in concentration camps in the East Turkestan region. Meanwhile, the regime seeks to avoid accountability and improve its image through reputation laundering, such as taking advantage of voting irregularities to become the host of the prestigious Winter 2022 Olympics. Or to buy Worldcon….

(12) OPEN CHANNEL ZZZ. [Item by Daniel Dern.] Another “I’ll take $100 for ‘What could possibly go wrong…'” “Lucid Dream Startup Says Engineers Can Write Code In Their Sleep” at Slashdot.

People spend one-third of their lives asleep. What if employees could work during that time … in their dreams? Prophetic, a venture-backed startup founded earlier this year, wants to help workers do just that. Using a headpiece the company calls the “Halo,” Prophetic says consumers can induce a lucid dream state, which occurs when the person having a dream is aware they are sleeping. The goal is to give people control over their dreams, so they can use that time productively. A CEO could practice for an upcoming board meeting, an athlete could run through plays, a web designer could create new templates — “the limiting factor is your imagination,” founder and CEO Eric Wollberg told Fortune.

(13) RABBIT EARS. “’The Velveteen Rabbit’ Captures Holiday Nostalgia with Stylized Animation Mix” says Animation World Network.

VD: As a parent, I have to ask what makes a stuffed rabbit so captivating to a child? There have been numerous children’s stories featuring a young rabbit and my daughter has about 50 stuffed rabbits of her own that she can’t bear to part with. Why do these creatures mean so much to children and lend themselves so well to children’s storytelling?  

TB: Rabbits are wonderful, unthreatening animals with brilliantly expressive faces and ears. Maybe that’s what draws children to them. But we think what really captivates children is the imaginative idea that their toy rabbits, and other toys they may possess, are real, that they can come alive, and that toys feel emotions and understand the children themselves. Children feel the imaginative world is “real” and they know their toys understand that.

(14) IT’S ALWAYS SUNNY IN SPACE. From Giant Freakin Robot, “The Sci-Fi Star Trek Comedy Series From It’s Always Sunny Trio That Didn’t Happen, Watch The Only Episode”.

Boldly Going Nowhere, a proposed comedy science fiction series based on Star Trek ultimately went nowhere, but the original pilot episode can now be seen below. The series came from the showrunners, stars and co-creators of It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, Charlie Day, Glenn Howerton, and Rob McElhenney, with Adam Stein, who pitched the idea to the trio. Stein was a writer’s assistant on the series at the time…

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

Pixel Scroll 10/22/23 All I Have In My Pocket Is A Pixel And A File

(1) CHENGDU WORLDCON ROUNDUP. [Item by Ersatz Culture.]

RiverFlow update

He posted to Twitter this morning (UK time), and a couple of people have since told me that he’s doing better now.

Best Short Story finalist Lu Ban’s Hugo photos

Not sure if he’s at the Worldcon – the post says it came from Sichuan province, so quite possibly he was – but Best Short Story finalist Lu Ban posted these photos to Weibo.  Rather more stylish than your typical author attire, I think?

Three Short Story finalists appear on TV show

Lu Ban also reposted this 11 minute video clip. It’s a fair bit beyond my Chinese language skills, but it seems to be him and fellow finalists Jiang Bo and Ren Qing appearing on a Friday night TV show, possibly aimed at teenagers or young adults judging by the shots of the audience.

Once you get past the opening comedy (?) skit, at around 01:07 the speaker references the 81st Worldcon and the three Hugo Award finalists just before they come on stage.  They then talk about the SFnal topics shown on the board on the left of the stage.

Two more somewhat mysterious announcements

I wasn’t able to watch the closing ceremony due to a failure to connect to the stream (again), but Japanese author Taiyo Fujii posted on Mastodon this image of the “Establishment of Chengdu Worldcon Brand Promotion Center”.  I’m puzzled why you would need a centre to promote the brand of a con that’s just finished.  Google search for that English text didn’t find anything, and I couldn’t make out all the hanzi due to the firework graphics on the screen to be able to search for the Chinese name.  It looks like Ben Yalow and other Western VIPs were on stage for this announcement, so I’m sure they’ll all be able to tell us what exactly it’s about.

(via Zimozi Natsuco)  Besides the Tianwen Program & Award covered in yesterday’s Scroll, we now have the “International Youth Science Fiction Alliance”.  Via Google Translate, with minor cleanup edits:

According to the relevant person in charge, the alliance aims to empower the development of Chinese science fiction, create a high-quality science fiction ecosystem, and jointly promote the development and innovation of China’s science fiction cause and science fiction industry through the alliance platform and linking all-round resources of government, industry, academia and research.

So far, the alliance has received support from more than 70 domestic and foreign university societies such as Stanford University, University College London, Oxford University, Paris-Sorbonne University, Peking University, Renmin University of China, Zhejiang University, Harbin Institute of Technology, Fudan University, and Shanghai Jiao Tong University. 

At first glance, I don’t see any crossover with the names associated with the Tianwen Program, but I think there are members of the Chengdu concom named as being involved in both of these organizations.

Zimozi also said that, as the former president of the Zhejiang University SF society, no-one had contacted him or that association prior to this announcement yesterday afternoon, so the nature of the support the named universities are providing is unclear to say the least.

Bilibili videos

I’ve not had as much time today to trawl Bilibili, Xiaohongshu or Weibo as I’d have liked, but here are a few:

As far as I could tell, there’s nothing on YouTube as yet, but these Bilibili videos appear to be official releases of the Hugo Ceremony, as the uploader is listed as “Hugo X”: EnglishChinese.

Chengdu Plus posted a bilingual compilation of a bilingual compilation of clips summarizing the events of the con.  Much of the footage has been seen before, but there’s footage of what I assume is the Hugo party, with some recognizable faces.

A three-and-a-half-minute clip video of a Chinese fan wandering around the con – nothing earth-shattering, but gives a better idea of what the con was like for regular attendees than the glitzy official promos, none of which show the lengthy snaking line of metal barriers that open this video.

(2) HUGO, GIRL! ACCEPTS. The Hugo, Girl! team posted video of their Best Fancast Hugo acceptance remarks here. However, the tweet is locked except for those who are approved to follow the account.

(3) BLACK TO THE FUTURE. An Afro-Futurist celebration of outstanding Black artists, Black To The Future, a space for visionary imaginings to thrive, launches October 24. See the schedule of events and exhibitions at the link.

BTTF begins as British Black History month ends; launching late October and running until US Black History Month in February 2024, to accompany the British Library’s upcoming major exhibition: Fantasy: Realms of Imagination.

Curated, founded and directed by Irenosen Okojie MBE, in collaboration with the Royal Society of Literature and the British Library.

FANTASY: REALMS OF IMAGINATION

BTTF will accompany the upcoming major British Library exhibition – Fantasy: Realms of Imagination – one of the largest of its kind – showing everything from the original Beowulf and Alice in Wonderland manuscripts to a wide range of contemporary writing and everything in between – plus maps, interactives, sound fan perspectives and so on.

The display will ask why we need Fantasy, or how it reflects the social issues of the day, and where it is going, with an advisory panel including Neil Gaiman.

(4) SARTREAN NAUSEA. Ted Gioia shares “My Lost Gumby Essay” at The Honest Broker.

… Raise the subject of Gumby during a casual conversation. Okay, that’s not always easy to do—so bring a toy Gumby with you to various events.

Then watch how people react.

Gumby will evoke powerful feelings—both positive and negative—in everybody he encounters. Some people will grab your Gumby and caress him lovingly. Others will sneer and mock. But nobody will be indifferent.

This is simply not the case with other figures of children’s TV. Bugs Bunny, Mickey Mouse, Mister Rogers, all three Stooges—these we may like or dislike, tolerate or dismiss, but none reaches as deeply into our psyches as Gumby.

But why?

The key to solving the mystery of the Gumby Syndrome (I’m going to become renowned for naming it thus) can be found in the writings of French existentialist philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre. Towards the end of Sartre’s monumental work Being and Nothingness, he reflects that viscous substance have the rare effect of both attracting us and disgusting us at the same time.

Mud, glue, and all the various types of goo and stickum which we encounter day to day are often things we openly despise, but with an undercurrent of fascination….

(5) RIPPING GOOD TOUR.  The New York Times follows guides who are “Chasing Jack the Ripper Through the Streets of Modern London”.

From certain corners of Commercial Street in East London, a busy thoroughfare that runs through the heart of where Jack the Ripper killed five women more than a century ago, the city can look like it did in 1888, with narrow alleys snaking their way between Victorian-era buildings.

Go down the street, though, and the views turn unmistakably modern: skyscrapers, glassy office buildings lit up with workers eating dinner at their desks, a Peloton store and expensive apartments.

The changed landscape and tall buildings do not deter hundreds of people on most nights from taking guided tours that follow the killer’s footsteps through the neighborhood known as Whitechapel. And much like the city around them, the stories they’re told in 2023 about those murders can feel at turns modern, and unchanged since 1888….

… These days, the Ripper economy is still flourishing in Whitechapel. There’s a barbershop called Jack the Clipper. A fish and chips restaurant called Jack the Chipper. And, night after night, the tours, most of which cost around $20 and run up to two hours. Interest is especially high during late summer and fall, with mild, dark nights and Halloween around the corner….

(6) ART OF GENRE INTEREST IN HUNTSVILLE. [Item by Marc Criley.] An art exhibition integrating sculpture and AR (Augmented Reality) has opened at the Huntsville Museum of Art in Huntsville, Alabama.

In Reforestation of the Imagination, artists Ginny Ruffner and Grant Kirkpatrick “[use] technology to overlay digital information onto sculptural objects, [portraying] two disparate environments.”

Ginny Ruffner: Reforestation of the Imagination combines traditional sculpture with augmented reality (AR). By using technology to overlay digital information onto sculptural objects, two disparate environments are portrayed. The setting is an apocalyptic landscape far in the future. The initial environment consists of five landmasses, which support the glass stumps. Except for the painted shelf mushrooms and tree rings on the stumps and logs, the scene is colorless. The landmasses surround a sixth rocky outcropping that features a large fiberglass stump. The central stump sprouts beautifully grotesque bronze, then glass appendages. This improbable growth has survived the devastation to create a new botany.

“Other than the central stump, the landscape appears at first glance to be barren. Yet, upon viewing the tree rings aided by AR technology a second environment is revealed. Plants appear (both fruit and flowers) which have evolved from existing flora. They have developed dramatic appendages and the skills necessary to adapt and flourish in this radically different environment. From accessing nutrients in ways that symbiotically improve their surrounding conditions, to cultivating protections from new threats, these adaptations are unexpected, beautiful, and optimistic. This is nature reimagining itself. The imagination cannot be exterminated. It just recreates itself.” —Ginny Ruffner

Ginny Ruffner with Grant Kirkpatrick, Digitalis artherium (Double art flowers), 2017, sculpture (handblown glass with acrylic paint tree rings), island (plywood, low-density foam, fiberglass, epoxy, sand, pebbles, and acrylic paint), and holographic image. Sculpture: 9 x 13 x 11 ½ in. Installation view at MadArt Studio, 2018. Courtesy MadArt. Photo by James Harnois.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 22, 1919 Doris Lessing. The five novels collectively known as Canopus in Argos: Archives certainly established her genre creds. I personally would add her Cat Tales, three volumes of stories and nonfiction (Particularly Cats, Rufus the Survivor and The Old Age of El Magnifico) to your reading list. A winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature – and a Worldcon guest of honor in 1987. (Died 2013.)
  • Born October 22, 1927 Lee Jacobs. Fan who lived in LA in the last years of his life. I’m mentioning him here because he’s credited with the word filk which was his entirely unintentional creation. He typoed folk in a contribution to the Spectator Amateur Press Society in the 1950s: “The Influence of Science Fiction on Modern American Filk Music.” Yes I know that its first documented intentional use was by Karen Anderson in Die Zeitschrift für vollständigen Unsinn (The Journal for Utter Nonsense) #774 (June 1953), for a song written by her husband Poul. (Died 1968.)
  • Born October 22, 1939 Suzy McKee Charnas. I’d say The Holdfast Chronicles are her best work to date. “Boobs” won the Best Story Hugo at ConFiction. It was written over a forty year period as the first novel, Walk to the End of the World was published in 1974, and the last novel, The Conqueror’s Child was published in 1999. Her Beauty and the Opéra or The Phantom Beast novelette was a nominee at LoneStarCon 2. She’s also won the Otherwise, Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature, Nebula, Gaylactic Spectrum, and Lambda Literary Awards. Any of you read her Sorcery Hall series? (Died 2023.)
  • Born October 22, 1943 Jim Baen. Editor of Galaxy and If for three years. He edited the sf line at Ace ad then Tor before starting his own namesake company in 1983. In late 1999, he started Webscriptions, now called Baen Ebooks, which is considered to be the first profitable e-book service. He also was the editor of Destinies and New Destinies which I remember fondly.  He was nominated for Best Editor Hugo five times between 1975 and 1981 but never won. At Nippon 2007, he’d be nominated for Best Editor, Long Form. (Died 2006.)
  • Born October 22, 1954 Graham Joyce. Selecting his best novel is a futile exercise as everything is fantastically good but I’ll single out Some Kind of Fairy Tale and The Tooth Fairy as the ones I found the most interesting reads. No Hugos not even a short list nomination but he’s won quite a few BFAs and one WFA for The Facts of Life novel. (Died 2015.)
  • Born October 22, 1956 Gretchen Roper,  67. Long-time member of fandom, filker and con-runner. She co-founded Dodeka Records with her husband, Bill Roper. She received with her husband the Pegasus Award for Best Original Humorous Song, “My Husband The Filker”, and was inducted into the Filk Hall of Fame.

(8) COMICS SECTION.

(9) KEEP DRAWING THE SKIES. “When Étienne Trouvelot turned his attention from insects to astronomy, the result was celestial magic,” says the Smithsonian Air and Space Quarterly: “An Artist Sketches the Heavens”. A gallery of art is at the link.

In the chilly early morning hours of  November 14, 1868, Étienne Léopold Trouvelot gazed out from an upstairs window in his home at 27 Myrtle Street in Medford, Massachusetts. Trouvelot stationed himself at the window from midnight to 5 am so that he could watch a steady stream of meteors visible in the clear black sky. No doubt thrilled by the astronomical display, he immortalized his observations in a pastel illustration titled November Meteors….

(10) BREAKTHROUGH. “Women Sci-fi Writer Numbers Rocketing In China”Barron’s has the story.

Women writers are taking the Chinese science fiction scene by storm, with their increasing prominence one of the genre’s most noticeable trends, according to participants at a major convention in Chengdu this week.

Worldcon — the world’s oldest and most influential sci-fi gathering — is taking place in China for the first time, drawing hordes of eager local fans of all genders.

China can still be a relatively socially conservative country, and under President Xi Jinping the space for the expression of feminism has shrunk even further over the last decade.

But in science fiction, the number of women authors has rocketed in recent years, said Regina Kanyu Wang, a writer and editor nominated for two prestigious Hugo Awards at Worldcon this year.

More women are now realising “it’s not only this nerdy, geeky style of science fiction that can be published, or that can be regarded as science fiction”, she said.

“Liu Cixin (the author of the world-famous Three-Body series) is great, we all love him. But there’s so much more outside of the Liu Cixin style.”

The good news is that once women do get their start as writers, they do not tend to feel they are treated unequally, according to Wang.

The market and readers are demanding new perspectives, she said.

“Nowadays, a lot of Chinese female sci-fi writers pay attention to the problems women face that men might not feel,” Zhou Danxue, a literature scholar at Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University, told AFP.

“The writers can use their own methods to reflect uniquely female feelings.”

In the past two years, there have been four anthologies published that were made up of only women or non-binary authors, Wang said, a major breakthrough….

(11) GENTLEBEINGS, BE SEATED. Here’s a classic type of fan project – identifying the “Commercially Available Chairs in Star Trek” at Ex Astris Scientia.

Countless off-the-shelf office chairs, lounge chairs or car seats appeared in Star Trek productions. Here is a list of the models that we found, among them many design classics. Currently identified: 163.

See also a list of unidentified chairs and help us track their origin….

Here’s one example of how they match a chair to a scene in the show.

(12) THEY DO THE MICRO MUNCH. “‘We are just getting started’: the plastic-eating bacteria that could change the world” reports the Guardian.

In 2001, a group of Japanese scientists made a startling discovery at a rubbish dump. In trenches packed with dirt and waste, they found a slimy film of bacteria that had been happily chewing through plastic bottles, toys and other bric-a-brac. As they broke down the trash, the bacteria harvested the carbon in the plastic for energy, which they used to grow, move and divide into even more plastic-hungry bacteria. Even if not in quite the hand-to-mouth-to-stomach way we normally understand it, the bacteria were eating the plastic.

The scientists were led by Kohei Oda, a professor at the Kyoto Institute of Technology. His team was looking for substances that could soften synthetic fabrics, such as polyester, which is made from the same kind of plastic used in most beverage bottles. Oda is a microbiologist, and he believes that whatever scientific problem one faces, microbes have probably already worked out a solution. “I say to people, watch this part of nature very carefully. It often has very good ideas,” Oda told me recently.

What Oda and his colleagues found in that rubbish dump had never been seen before. They had hoped to discover some micro-organism that had evolved a simple way to attack the surface of plastic. But these bacteria were doing much more than that – they appeared to be breaking down plastic fully and processing it into basic nutrients. From our vantage point, hyperaware of the scale of plastic pollution, the potential of this discovery seems obvious. But back in 2001 – still three years before the term “microplastic” even came into use – it was “not considered a topic of great interest”, Oda said. The preliminary papers on the bacteria his team put together were never published….

(13) VIDEO OF THE DAY. It’s time again to practice your imitation of the “Monster Mash” by Bobby “Boris” Pickett and The Crypt-Kickers.

[Thanks to SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Todd Mason, Brick Barrientos, Marc Criley, Kathy Sullivan, Lise Andreasen, Ersatz Culture, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Tom Becker.]

Pixel Scroll 10/17/23 The Pixel Of Durian Grey

(1) CHENGDU WORLDCON ROUNDUP. [Item by Ersatz Culture.]

  • Online platform launched

The con website has a page about the online/streaming functionality, with a link to the online site, and a list of which panels and events will be streamed.  There are several broken images at the bottom of that page though, which I think are the instructions on how to use the online site, which were fortunately also posted to Facebook.

Only 18 programme items will be streamed — not including the online only events that were listed in the previously-published schedule – and several of them run in parallel to each other.  Around half look to be very businessy and corporate, and none other than the Hugo Ceremony strike me as fannish in nature.

Wednesday 2023-10-18

  • 09:30-12:00 The 81st Worldcon Sci-fi Design Summit
  • 13:00-15:30 “Future is Here”: Multi-dimensional Exploration of a New Pattern of User Experience in the Sci-fi Industry
  • 13:00-15:30 Forum on the Development of Intellectual Property Rights and SF Industry
  • 20:00-21:20 Opening Ceremony

Thursday 2023-10-19

  • 09:30-10:30 Sci-fi Narratives of Advanced Spaceflight
  • 14:30-17:00 “Grasping the Future”: Annual Selection of the Outstanding Performers in Sci-fi Fields

Friday 2023-10-20

  • 09:30-12:00 First Industry Development Promotion Conference
  • 13:00-15:30 Sci-Fi x Space – Connecting the Past and Future of Humanity and the Universe
  • 16:00-18:30 AIGC: A Creative New World

Saturday 2023-10-21 

  • 09:30-12:00 Science Fiction VS Science Facts
  • 09:30-12:00 Science Fiction Film & TV VFX Summit
  • 09:30-12:00 Songs of Space Engineers: A Discussion of Engineering Science Fiction
  • 13:00-14:00 How to Interpret the “Symbiosis Era”: A Conversation with Robert Sawyer
  • 14:00-17:00 Three-Body Global Fan Event
  • 19:00-21:00 Hugo Award Ceremony

Sunday 2023-10-22

  • 09:30-10:30 Launch Event of the Top Ten Future Tech in Science Fiction
  • 09:30-12:00 Believe in the Future: A Conversation Between Rising Sci-fi Stars of Chengdu and Sci-fi Giants
  • 18:00-19:00 Closing Ceremony

The online functionality is accessed via a videogamey 3D environment with avatars, which seems designed for use on a phone or tablet rather than a PC, and seems to have insufficient functionality to justify its existence.

  • Press conferences and interviews in Chengdu media

On Monday 16th there was a “Press Briefing for Preparations of 2023 Chengdu Worldcon”, with coverage from Red Star News/chengdu.cn here.

There was also a press conference about a series of open-air screenings of SF movies in Chengdu, although this doesn’t seem to be officially connected to the Worldcon.

Astounding Award finalist Maijia Liu was also interviewed by Chengdu Daily Jinguan News, as was Best Short Story finalist, Lu Ban.

There is a page on the chengdu.cn website dedicated to Worldcon articles; I assume more will be added as the con progresses.

  • A couple of Bilibili videos

A local SF writer tours the museum, and interviews a director of Zaha Hadid architects and someone from the construction company.

Here’s a short (sub one-minute) video of the Worldcon-branded light rail train in action.  Given that it follows tracks that cross a street, I’m wondering if it would be more accurately classed as a tram?  I’m sure there will be Filers who are also transport buffs, and can clarify the difference.

A short video of the Hugo Hall, and a drone show outside.

  • Some photo galleries

Best Fan Writer and Best Fanzine finalist RiverFlow posted on Weibo photos of the con’s welcoming/information team at the airport, and later on photos at the hotel, with a number of Chinese and Western writers and fans in attendance.

On Xiaohongshu, this gallery shows a couple of exhibits and signage that I haven’t seen before, and there are a couple more showing the drone show (1)(2).

  • Worldcon-branded “cyberpunk” restrooms

Xiaohongshu video.  A transliteration of cyberpunk – 赛博朋克 / “Sàibópéngkè” – is indeed how they are described in the text of the Xiaohongshu post.

  • A dozen new items of merchandise available

Three posts on Xiaohongshu – (1)(2)(3) – show images of twelve new pieces of merchandise.  These focus on the Kormo mascot, but a few do have Chengdu Worldcon branding.  The images here are the items which either have the Chengdu Worldcon logo and/or strike me as the ones that File 770 readers are most likely to be interested in.  They are:

  • Pillow book (Imust confess I’m not sure exactly what this is)
  • Square notebook
  • Phone case
  • Laptop bag
  • Aluminium file
  • Clipboard

Unfortunately the posted images aren’t enough to see any details – such as which models of phone the cases are designed for – and there are no links to any online stores.

  • Silvana’s Twitter thread

Indonesian fan Silvana has arrived on site and has started a Twitter thread, in English and with plenty of photos.  So far everything has gone smoothly for her, and she received a warm welcome from the locals.

  • Three-Body Global Fan Event

The Three-Body Universe licensing company posted on Weibo a series of 3BP-related events to be held at the Worldcon.  Robert J. Sawyer is a panelist on one of these events, but it’s unclear to me what his connection is to 3BP.

Also, just following up on a comment in a recent Scroll about the precise name of the con venue, the image in the post gives the Chinese name as “成都科幻馆” (Chengdu Kehuan Guan / Chengdu Science Fiction Museum), but the English name as “Chengdu Science (Science Fiction) Museum”.

  • A better look at the articles in the Hello Chengdu magazine feature

This was briefly covered in an earlier Scroll, but I belatedly noticed that this Facebook post from the con’s account has images that show the articles are bilingual, and in high enough resolution for them to be readable if you have a big monitor.

  • New promo video

The Chengdu Plus YouTube and Bilibili accounts posted a new promo video.  It shows lots of drone shots inside and outside the museum.  A word-of-warning: the English language voiceover is a Caillou-ish adult-pretending-to-be-a-child thing, which I personally find akin to nails-on-a-chalkboard.

  • Local food options

There have been a few Xiaonhongshu posts about street food catering in the area around the museum; I’m not sure how far away they are though, as the museum isn’t visible in any of the photos.  Posts onetwothree.  Note: I’m not sure if these are actually from two different locations, maybe someone who is already on site can clarify?

  • Staff badge

Following on from yesterday’s member badges, here’s a look at a staff badge, with the completed Wandering Earth “Benben” vehicle in the background.

  • Members of the con team meet up at the SF World offices

Yao Haijun, deputy editor-in-chief of SF World and a Best Editor Long Form finalist, posted a few photos of when Ben Yalow, Helen Montgomery and Carolina Gomez-Lagerlof visited the SF World office a few days ago.  He also includes a few historical photos.

  • Another video of Ben Yalow and Carolina Gomez Lagerlof visiting the Hua-ai school

This Xiaohongshu post shows the visit to the school just over the road from the science museum, covering more of the activities that the students showed to the two visiting members of the con team than the earlier video.

(2) ANOTHER LEARNEDLEAGUE SFF ONE-DAY. [Item by David Goldfarb.] The site just had a quiz about Star Trek: Lower Decks. I’ve never watched it, so didn’t try the questions, but anyone who wants to see them can find them here.

(3) MARINDA DARNELL DIES. Chicon 8 told their Facebook page readers yesterday that fan Marinda Darnell has died.

Marinda was always there for Chicago Fandom, particularly Capricon (which she chaired in 2016) and then Chicon 8. She was so generous with her time and such an important part of our team at C8. She started with a small job, was amazing, and then just kept taking on more things. At the convention she stepped up when one of our area heads was ill and handled IT. She got a Hero of the Convention medal, and was one of the people I gave a shout out to at closing ceremonies. She was a force.

She was fierce and passionate and loved Chicago Fandom. I/We have no words to express how much she will be missed. Our condolences to all who loved her.

(4) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 17, 1914 Jerry Siegel. His most famous creation was Superman, which he created in collaboration with his friend Joe Shuster. He was inducted (along with the previously deceased Shuster) into the comic book industry’s Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame in 1992 and the Jack Kirby Hall of Fame in 1993. (Died 1996.)
  • Born October 17, 1934 Alan Garner, 89. His best book? That’d be Boneland which technically is the sequel to The Weirdstone of Brisingamen and The Moon of Gomrath but really isn’t. Oh, and The Owl Service is amazingly superb! There’s a BBC video series of the latter but I’ve not seen it.
  • Born October 17, 1946 Bruce McAllister, 77. He’s a superb short story writer as you can see in The Girl Who Loved Animals and Other Stories that Golden Gryphon published originally and which Cemetery Dance has now in an ePub edition along with his three novels.  His Dream Baby novel is an interesting if brutal take on the Vietnam War with a definite SF take to it. His Dream Baby novelette was nominated for a Hugo at Nolacon II, and his “Kin” short story was nominated at Nippon 2007.
  • Born October 17, 1950 Michael Tolkin, 73. Of genre interest, he directed Deep Impact, and he had uncredited writing in the first Punisher film and the same for Dawn of the Dead. Likewise The Haunting. Is that a form of ghostwriting? EoSF notes, “He also wrote and directed the adaptation of Robert A Heinlein’s ‘Jerry Was a Man’ (October 1947 Thrilling Wonder) for the Television Anthology Series Masters of Science Fiction (2007).”
  • Born October 17, 1958 Jo Fletcher, 65. British editor who, after working for Gollancz for 16 years, founded Jo Fletcher Books in 2011. Interestingly ISFDB says she’s done two World Fantasy Convention souvenir books, Gaslight & Ghosts and Secret City: Strange Tales of London, both with Stephen Jones. She also wrote with him the British Report aka The London Report for Science Fiction Chronicle. Appropriately for the approaching holiday is that one of her anthologies is Horror at Halloween.
  • Born October 17, 1966 Mark Gatiss, 57. English actor, screenwriter, director, producer and novelist. Writer for Doctor Who; with Steven Moffat, whom Gatiss worked with on Doctor Who and Jekyll, he also co-created and co-produced Sherlock. As an actor, I’ll note he does Vogon voices in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and is Mycroft Holmes in Sherlock.
  • Born October 17, 1971 Patrick Ness, 52. Best known for his books for young adults, including the Chaos Walking trilogy and A Monster Calls. He’s also the creator and writer of the Doctor Who spin-off Class series. And he’s written a Doctor Who story, “Tip of the Tongue”, a Fifth Doctor story. He won The Otherwise Award for The Knife of Never Letting Go, and his Monster Calls novel won both a Carnegie and a Kitschie as well being nominated for a Stoker and a Clarke.

(5) COMICS SECTION.

(6) TRON. “‘The helmet made my hair fall out’: Jeff Bridges on making cult sci-fi film Tron” in the Guardian.

Jeff Bridges, played Kevin Flynn/Clu

In the late 1950s my father, Lloyd Bridges, starred in a TV series called Sea Hunt, about a diver. He played the part so well that people thought he was a real diver. So in the early days of my career, I was always looking for scripts that were unusual. Scripts like Tron feel risky but it’s actually much harder to fail when you’re doing something so innovative. There’s nothing for the film to be compared to.

We shot in 70mm and in black and white. The sets were all made of black duvetyne, a matt, light-blocking fabric, with white adhesive tape to make the lines. Our costumes were black and white, too. Being on set was the oddest feeling – your eyes would adjust to the black and white, then you’d go outside and the colour of the every day would zoom into your eyes. It was amazing. After we shot, the footage went to Korea where women hand-painted every frame. It was very primitive and very advanced all at the same time.

I looked to the director, Steven Lisberger, for inspiration. Since he co-wrote the story, I figured my character, Flynn, was very Steven-like. I can’t remember why, but I decided to curl my hair for the part. For the scenes of me inside the computer, I had to wear these white hockey helmets. My hair had been bleached to get the curl in, and I remember it falling out because of the helmet. The peroxide would get hot and the roots would break.

Steven lined the walls of the soundstages with video games you could play for free – and, man, we studied them big time! I got into one called Battlezone that was very Tron-like. I got some high scores and had this big battle with the makeup man, which he ended up winning. They’d call me for a shot and I’d say: “No way, man! The actor is preparing!” And I’d just be on Battlezone. They’d have to yank me off – but Steven understood….

(7) LAVA LAVA, LAVA LAVA, LAVA LAVA, DUCK [Item by Mike Kennedy.] It’s turning 60, but is the lava lamp from manufacturer Mathmos genre? OK, sure. Or at least it could be. First, there’s the generally rocket shape of many of the lamps. Then, there’s the Doctor Who and The Prisoner connections. Plus you have the Mathmos in Barbarella. Heck, the company is even bringing out a new version developed with pop group Duran Duran—another Barbarella connection.

Well, genre or not, we can still congratulate Mathmos—a small British company still cranking out products after 60 years. “‘Ingrained in the fabric of British society’: the iconic lava lamp turns 60” in the Guardian.

…When Ringo Starr popped into a shop in Birkenhead in 1963, little did he know that his visit would help change the future of what was to become a celebrated British brand.

The Beatles’ drummer had stopped off to buy a lava lamp, the brightly coloured interior piece that has hypnotised millions over the years with its slow-moving exchange of liquid and warmed wax inside a glass cylinder. After the Birkenhead shop announced its celebrity visit, sales of the lamp rocketed.

Then came lava lamp appearances on episodes of Doctor Who in the Patrick Troughton era and in the 1965 film Dr Who and the Daleks starring Peter Cushing. It also featured in the 1960s/70s TV hit The Prisoner, and soon its role as a cultural mainstay was established.

Now the brand is turning 60, and, against all the challenges of a changing audience, economic downturns, the rise of online shopping and Brexit, sales are still going strong….

(8) SNL MAKES THE ATTEMPT. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] The writers strike is over. Saturday Night Live is back on TV. And here’s a skit from the first episode of the season, broadcast October 14. (It’s rather meh. Maybe the writers need more practice.)

(9) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Dann.] “Star Trek: The Silent Skies” is a collection of visuals that purport to be a 1920s film era reimagination of Star Trek. Just images and a few scenes. No dialogue. 

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Ersatz Culture, John King Tarpinian, Dann, Lise Andreasen, Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Peer.]

Pixel Scroll 10/14/23 The Bear That Shouted “Honey!” At The Heart Of The 100-Acre Woods

(1) CHENGDU WORLDCON ROUNDUP. [Item by Ersatz Culture.]

Setup for Worldcon

Here’s a photo gallery showing some of the décor created for the Worldcon inside the Chengdu Science Fiction Museum. More at the link: http://xhslink.com/0yicuv

(2) MORE BAD NEWS FROM INTERZONE. Interzone publisher and editor Gareth Jelley has elaborated on the magazine’s switch to a solely electronic format, which was announced to subscribers the other day.

…It has been a hard call to make, but due to a very significant drop in subscriber numbers over the last three years, and the volatility of the paper market, I have decided that Interzone will be switching to electronic publication — from Interzone #296 onwards, issues of the magazine will be released as ebooks and no print edition will be produced.

When I took Interzone over from Andy Cox, I was determined to get Interzone back onto a bimonthly schedule and I also wanted to keep Interzone going as a print publication. I believed this was possible, and I did everything I could, day in, day out, to keep the print incarnation of IZ alive. Many IZ readers and fans also went above and beyond when I asked for help getting #295 into print.

The reality now is that Interzone subscriber numbers have fallen too far, too quickly, and are not where they need to be to keep Interzone in print and simultaneously back onto a regular, bimonthly publication schedule; and for a zine like IZ, once it is a choice between print and frequency, it is a no-brainer. Anything else is unfair to contributors and frustrating for readers.

Interzone is still not completely out of the woods, financially. I have drained my resources getting Interzone #295 published and it will take a little time to get Interzone #296, in its new electronic form, ready for publication. I am hoping it will not be too long, maybe even before the end of the year. and I will let you know as soon as I can….

(3) NEW YORK REVIEW OF SCIENCE FICTION READINGS. Jane Fancher and C.J. Cherryh make their NYRSF Readings debut on Wednesday, October 18 at 7:00 p.m. Eastern. Defiance, their latest novel in the Foreigner series, is being released that week

NYRSF can be watched LIVE at https://.facebook.com/groups/NYRSF.Readings or at https://youtube.com/streams.

The host will be Nebula finalist Barbara Krasnoff.

(4) OFFICIAL BLOCH WEBSITE. [Item by Rich Lynch.] The Robert Bloch Official Website now features “Bloch’s Acceptance Speech”” from the 1975 First World Fantasy Convention.

…About two months ago in London at Coyle’s Bookshop, they gave one of their monthly luncheons. This one was in honor of a gentleman I don’t think you are aware of—a music hall performer named Arthur Askey. It was the occasion of his seventy-fifth birthday and the publication of his book. Arthur said something which I find strangely apropos at this moment. He looked around the table and said, “This luncheon is not a work of fiction, because everybody at this table is either living or dead.” I have much the same feeling.

This is of course formerly the Arkham Hilton, and probably Mr. Lovecraft did spend a night or two here. I know that last night the sounds I heard could have been the inspiration for “The Rats in the Walls.” I knew I was in the right place when I came here. I walked into the bar and I heard somebody ordering a gin and Miskatonic…

(5) LOVE OF TREK. [Item by Nancy Sauer.] NPR has a brief essay (and love letter) by someone who was deeply influenced by Star Trek.  Heartfelt and interesting. “How Star Trek helped me find my own way”.

… I honestly don’t remember a time when I didn’t love Star Trek. I do remember when I started to realize that this show, and my father who introduced me to it, built the foundation for my sense of social justice as an astrophysicist of color. The show helped me, and my father, find a place within our culture….

… What I really related to — the show that I anticipated each week and bawled when it ended — was Star Trek: The Next Generation. This was a sequel to the original series that aired in the ’60s, a show that Martin Luther King Jr. loved!

The Next Generation had the young LeVar Burton as the chief engineer Geordi La Forge. He was famous as the lead in the TV cultural phenomena Roots and would later make everyone smile with Reading Rainbow. This new version of Star Trek also had the Shakespearean-trained actor Patrick Stewart playing Captain Jean-Luc Picard, which was the antithesis of the original Captain James T. Kirk. This new crew was more interested in science and tackled issues related to race more head-on! The technical jargon I heard coming from Geordi and others on the ship fueled my love for science….

(6) GO EAST YOUNG MAN. David Gerrold and his son’s family have moved to Vermont. Details on Facebook.

(7) LITERARY HISTORY SITE NEEDS TO BE SAVED. “Reader, they lived there: campaign to save Brontës’ Bradford birthplace as it goes on sale” in the Guardian.

Around a million visitors a year beat a path to Haworth, the small West Yorkshire town nestling in the windy moors of the Worth Valley – mainly to see the home of the Brontë sisters.

The house that writers Charlotte, Anne and Emily shared with their father, church minister Patrick, and their wayward brother Branwell is a major tourist attraction. Visitors wander around the parsonage and surrounding cobbled streets to soak up the atmosphere of just how the Brontës lived two centuries ago.

But there is a site that is equally important to the story of perhaps Britain’s greatest literary family, around six miles or so away in the village of Thornton, on the western edge of the Bradford district: the birthplace of the three sisters.

The premises that takes up 72-74 Market Street has had various uses, from an apartment block to a cafe, but a campaign has been launched to turn it into an attraction that would complement Haworth’s enduring appeal.

It is estimated it will cost about £600,000 to buy the property, which is in a state of disrepair and neglect, and sympathetically renovate the Grade II* listed building into a tourist attraction comprising a cultural and educational centre, a cafe and holiday accommodation….

(8) PIPER LAURIE (1932-2023). Actress Piper Laurie, a three-time Oscar and nine-time Emmy nominee died October 14 at the age of 91. This excerpt from Variety’s obituary covers some of her major genre performances.

…Though she informally retired to raise a family for more than a decade, she returned to film and television in the mid-’70s and racked up an impressive roster of characterizations, including Oscar-nominated turns in “Carrie” and in “Children of a Lesser God,” in which she played Marlee Matlin’s icy mother. Laurie was truly chilling in “Carrie,” as the mother of the shy telekinetic girl of the title who has, in the words of Roger Ebert, “translated her own psychotic fear of sexuality into a twisted personal religion.”

Her performance as the plotting, power-hungry Catherine Martell in David Lynch’s landmark TV series “Twin Peaks” brought her two of her nine Emmy nominations. The actress won her only Emmy for her role in the powerful 1986 “Hallmark Hall of Fame” entry “Promises,” in which James Wood starred as a schizophrenic and James Garner as his brother, with Laurie’s character offering help to the pair.

She scored her last Emmy nomination in 1999 for a guest role on sitcom “Frasier” in which she played the mother of a radio psychologist played by Christine Baranski and clearly modeled after Dr. Laura Schlessinger….

(9) MARK GODDARD (1936-2023). Actor Mark Goddard, who gained fame as Maj. Don West on CBS’ Lost in Space series from 1965 to 1968, died October 10. He was 87. The New York Times obituary notes:

…Don was always the character most annoyed by Dr. Smith, and least sympathetic to him. He could be both hot-tempered and coldhearted, but he dutifully took a spacewalk, against his better judgment, to rescue Smith from the clutches of a seductive alien creature. If it had been up to him alone, he admitted, he would have let Dr. Smith drift through space for eternity.

Major West was a role Mr. Goddard had taken reluctantly, not being a fan of science fiction. In his 2008 memoir, “To Space and Back,” he referred to his space uniform, his wardrobe for the show, as “silver lamé pajamas and my pretty silver ski boots.”…

But he came back in a cameo role for the Lost in Space movie (1998).

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 14, 1927 Roger Moore. Bond in seven films 1973 to 1985, a long run indeed. And he played Simon Templar in The Saint for most of the Sixties, an amazing one hundred eighteen episodes. Let’s not forget that he was in the Curse of the Pink Panther as Chief Insp. Jacques Clouseau!  He even got to play Sherlock Holmes in Sherlock Holmes in New York. He wasn’t a bad Sherlock either. (Died 2017.)
  • Born October 14, 1946 Katy Manning, 77. She was Jo Grant, companion to the Third Doctor. She also appeared in that role with the Eleventh Doctor on the Sarah Jane Adventures in a two-part story entitled “Death of the Doctor”. She appears as herself in the The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot.
  • Born October 14, 1949 Crispin Burnham, 74. And then there are those who just disappear.  He was the founder, writer and publisher of Dark Messenger Reader / Eldritch Tales from 1975 to 1995 as the publisher Yith Press. He was also a prolific essayist from 1973 to 1995, his final essay being a reflection on the life and career of Robert Bloch. There’s nothing to show him active after 1998 when the final part of his “People of The Monolith” was published in Cthulhu Cultus #13. Then he vanishes without a trace. 
  • Born October 14, 1953 Greg Evigan, 70. TekWar, one of Shatner’s better ideas, starred him as Jake Cardigan. I really liked it. Yes, Shatner was in it. And the role he had actually worked fine for him. He also shows up in DeepStar Six as Kevin McBride, as Will South in the horror film Spectre aka The House of The Damned, as Marcus Cutter in Cerberus: The Guardian of Hell, and on the Alfred Hitchcock Presents as David Whitmore in “In the Driver’s Seat”. 
  • Born October 14, 1953 Richard Christian Matheson, 70. Son of the Richard Matheson that you’re thinking of. A very prolific horror writer, mostly of short stories, he’s also no slouch at script writing as he’s written for Amazing StoriesMasters of HorrorThe Powers of Matthew StarSplatterTales from the CryptKnight Rider (the original series) and The Incredible Hulk.
  • Born October 14, 1956 Arleen Sorkin. She served as the real-life inspiration and voice for Harley Quinn, co-created by her friend Paul Dini on Batman: The Animated Series. Harley was supposed to be a one-off in “Joker’s Wild” but she was so popular that they kept her in the series. The character would appear in the New Batman AdventuresStatic ShockJustice LeagueGotham Girls, and in Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker. She would die at 66 of pneumonia and complications from multiple sclerosis. (Died 2023.)
  • Born October 14, 1963 Lori Petty, 60. Rebecca Buck – “Tank Girl” in that film. She was also Dr. Lean Carli in Cryptic, and Dr. Sykes in Dead Awake. She had one-offs in The HungerTwilight ZoneStar Trek: Voyager, BrimstoneFreddy’s Nightmares and Alien Nation, and voiced quite well Livewire in the DCU animated shows. 

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) MARVEL’S VAMPIRIC CROSSOVER. At New York Comic Con 2023 Marvel revealed “’Blood Hunt,’ Marvel Comics’ Next Crossover Event”.

…Vampires have always walked amongst the shadows of the Marvel Universe, but in Spring 2024, the long night arrives and these bloodsucking terrors will endure the spotlight like never before. The main event series will be brought to life by an A-team of Marvel talent: current Avengers scribe Jed MacKay and acclaimed X-Men artists Pepe Larraz and Marte Gracia. In classic Marvel fashion, BLOOD HUNT will also spill out into a host of tie-in issues in Marvel’s hottest current series and see the launch of all-new limited series, one-shots, and redefining status quos.

 Brimming with unsurmountable stakes, this startling saga will drag the world into darkness as your favorite heroes struggle to ward off the vampire race’s cursed crusade of terror! Fans will have to wait with bated breath for more story details and information. In the meantime, sink your teeth into a special BLOOD HUNT trailer and a viciously visceral promotional image by Leinil Francis Yu and Sunny Gho!

“We have vampires in our books all the time, there’s some bad blood there,” MacKay said. “What happens if the shoe was on the other foot? We’ve got the Avengers, Moon Knight’s Midnight Mission, Doctor Strange, Miles Morales, and of course, Blade, and there’s going to be more vampires you can shake a stick at.”…

(13) HEAR FROM MICHAEL CHABON. Listen to an installment of World Book Club where Michael Chabon discusses The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay ay BBC Sounds.

American writer Michael Chabon talks about his 2001 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. 

From Jewish mysticism to Houdini to the Golden Age of Comic Books and WWII, Chabon’s immersive novel deals with escape and transformation through the lives of two Jewish boys in New York. Josef Kavalier makes an impossible escape from Prague in 1939, leaving his whole family behind but convinced he’s going to find a way to get them out too. He arrives in New York to stay with his cousin Sammy Klayman, and together the boys cook up a superhero to rival Superman – both banking on their comic book creation, The Escapist, to transform their lives and those around them, which in part he does. Their first cover depicts The Escapist punching Hitler in the face, and they wage war on him in their pages, but the personal impact of WWII is painfully inevitable. 

The novel touches on the personal scars left by vast political upheaval, and the damaging constraints of being unable to love freely and live a true and authentic life. Chabon’s prose is perfectly crafted – sometimes lyrical, sometimes intensely witty, and occasionally painfully heartbreaking.

(14) BLOCK THAT CLICK! “BBC Will Block ChatGPT AI From Scraping Its Content” reports Deadline.

The BBC has blocked the artificial intelligence software behind ChatGPT from accessing or using its content.

The move aligns the BBC with Reuters, Getty Images and other content providers that have taken similar steps over copyright and privacy concerns. Artificial intelligence can repurpose content, creating new text, images and more from the data.

Rhodri Talfan Davies, director of nations at the BBC said the BBC was “taking steps to safeguard the interests of licence fee payers as this new technology evolves….

(15) DAVID MCCALLUM ANNIVERSARY. Did you know?

(16) ANOTHER ANNIVERSARY. “’The Halloween Tree’ at 30 – An Essential Celebration of the Holiday” is a BloodyDisgusting editorial.

…Halloween is the day that we face that chilling finality. Commune with it. Drape our world in its trappings. Halloween is the day that death becomes the tapestry of our joy. We accept it. We embrace it. Maybe we even learn from it. And few Halloween based books, movies, stories or otherwise capture this idea more absolutely than Ray Bradbury’s The Halloween Tree. Perfectly in line with its multi-layered historical trappings, it’s a tale that went through several iterations on its journey to the hallowed halls of Halloween history and one that seemed destined to become the essential animated classic that it has in the three decades since its release.

Almost 30 years before The Halloween Tree (1993) first aired on ABC, Ray Bradbury sat down to watch It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown one October evening in 1966. Despite the acclaimed author’s excitement and unabashed love for all things Halloween, he stood up and kicked his television set as the special’s credits rolled. While he had hoped for the equivalent of Halloween’s Santa Claus in the Great Pumpkin, the promised deity never arrived, denying the holiday its mystical spirit and breaking the vow that its title professed….

(17) MELTING! Nature says someone has figured out “How to build Moon roads using focused beams of sunlight”. First, build a couple of 2m lenses:

…A beam of concentrated sunlight could be used to build paved roads on the Moon by melting lunar dust, according to proof-of-concept experiments involving lasers and a substance resembling Moon dust.

Such roads could be useful infrastructure for future lunar missions, say engineer Juan-Carlos Ginés-Palomares and his colleagues, because they could provide areas for spacecraft to land or move around without churning up fine dust that can damage on-board scientific instruments and other equipment.

The Moon will be an important jumping-off point should humans ever want to explore further reaches of the Solar System. But its low gravity means dust doesn’t settle. Paving the lunar surface by melting the regolith — loose rock and dust — could help to address this problem….

(18) NEVER TOO LATE. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] With the Chengdu Worldcon coming up, arguably time to — if you haven’t already — check out Cixin Liu’s The Three Body Problem. Over on YouTube @Bookpilled  (part of the YouTube Science Fiction Alliance) recently did so. “This Book Has Sold 8 Million Copies – Is It Good?”.

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, Nancy Sauer, Steven French, Lise Andreasen, Rich Lynch, Andrew Porter, Ersatz Culture, John King Tarpinian, and Chris Barkley for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 10/10/23 Nobody Knows The Pixels I’ve Screened

(1) CHENGDU WORLDCON PROMO VIDEO UNVEILED. “Chasing Dreams for the Future_Worldcon” on YouTube.

A two-and-a-half minute video was released today on various platforms, including the official con site.  It features animated characters, against imagery based on a variety of SF works, and also references prior Worldcons.

(2) CHENGDU WORLDCON ROUNDUP. [Item by Ersatz Culture.]

No reference to Lukyanenko in latest PR material

This Weibo post from the con’s official account has a couple of interesting details.   Google Translate rendition of the post text (minor manual edits to fix mangled names):

The World Science Fiction Conference is held for the first time in China. This science fiction event brings together the best science fiction writers and industry insiders from the East and the West in Chengdu, where the past and the future are intertwined.

Liu Cixin, Robert Sawyer, Richard Taylor, Lezli Robyn, Michael Swanwick, David Hull, Satoshi Hase, Neil Clarke, Wu Jing, Guo Fan, Wang Jinkang, Han Song, He Xi… these shining names in the science fiction world, these stars who evoke the exciting dreams of countless science fiction fans, will all be unveiled at the 2023 Chengdu World Science Fiction Conference. 

I think this might be the first official mention of Michael Swanwick’s attendance?  Also, Japanese novelist Satoshi Hase is a name that I don’t think I’ve previously seen mentioned as a guest.

The linked weixin.qq.com page has an article by a reporter from the Chengdu Business Times org, which is involved in the running of the con.  The piece is titled (via Google Translate) “Liu Cixin and Robert Sawyer: Representative figures of hard science fiction from the East and the West will appear together in Chengdu!” Liu and Sawyer are interviewed, and it seems this will be the first in a series of interviews with con guests:

Starting today, we are launching a series of reports called “When Science Fiction Stars Shine” to introduce the science fiction writers, academicians, experts, and industry figures who will appear at this conference, and look forward to and welcome the event with everyone.

There’s also a slightly puzzling statement which says “Robert Sawyer and Liu Cixin will appear together at The 81st World Science Fiction Convention Industrial Development Promotion Conference (WSDF)”, with “WSDF” being an acronym appearing in the Chinese text.  Whilst I’ve seen a bit of con-related material that has references to “industry” and “promotion”, this is the first I’ve heard of something called the “WSDF”.  This “WSDF” term also appears in Weibo posts today from the HELLOChengdu and GoChengdu accounts, which reference the same news item.

Sawyer/Liu/Lukyanenko anthology published

It is reported that the “Stellar Concerto” Chinese-language anthology featuring stories from the three (ahem) Worldcon GoHs, which was previously covered in the September 28th Scroll, has now been published.  The ToC shows that of the 18 stories, 7 are by Sawyer, 6 from Lukyanenko and 5 from Liu.

Special edition coffee packaging

I guess I jinxed things in yesterday’s updates when I said I hadn’t seen any evidence of sponsor branding, because guess what showed up today?  Coffee cups and bags adorned with a stylized representation of the con venue. In fairness, they seem to be licensing from the science museum rather than the Worldcon — the text in the photos only mentions the former.  

A couple more  Xiaohongshu posts

A short video of street artists decorate an electricity substation.

This post has a handful of images, most of which are fairly familiar views of the interior and exterior of the venue, but there are a couple of things I haven’t seen before: a topiary of something that I can’t quite fathom, and what I assume is interior signage for the fan area.

(3) ON THE DRAWING BOARD. Jeremy Zentner offers advice about “Designing Your Fictional Spaceship” at the SFWA Blog.

Spaceships have been iconic in science fiction ever since Jules Verne wrote From the Earth to the Moon. There are many features for writers to consider when designing their craft, including microgravity, faster-than-light (FTL) capabilities, journey time, habitation and resources, whether there’s a menacing AI on board, and so much more. In this article, we’ll examine how many published authors designed their sci-fi spaceships, so strap in and get ready for launch!

Interstellar travel: To FTL or not to FTL. In general, books that describe interstellar travel write about ships with FTL capability. In The Indranan War series, K.B. Wagers uses the Alcubierre drive, a concept developed by theoretical physicist Miguel Alcubierre to enable interstellar travel. Other books use wormhole technology. In John Scalzi’s The Interdependency series, ships penetrate a network of wormholes called the Flow to travel to other star systems. Since the Flow is a natural phenomenon, it’s also subject to cosmic events that can change the nature of its location, culminating in a great plot point. In Becky Chambers’ The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, the Galactic Commons uses artificial gates that tunnel through the fabric of subspace, built by scrappy crews like that of the Wayfarer….

(4) CROWDFUNDING FOR APEX ANTHOLOGY. The Kickstarter campaign for The Map of Lost Places, edited by Sheree Renée Thomas and Lesley Conner, is now live. Click here – “The Map of Lost Places: A Horror Anthology by Apex Publications” to join in bringing this anthology to life. Check out the submission guidelines as well if you’re interested in sending a story to the open call in December.

Here are the perks:

Beyond the anthology itself, we’ve got all sorts of fantastic rewards, add-ons, and stretch goals included in this Kickstarter. Ai Jiang has contributed a beautiful handmade planner as an add-on, and there are five slots available for 15-minute Zoom calls with Brian Keene. A little ways down the line, we’ll have a few surprises from co-editor Lesley Conner, and maybe one or two other things up our sleeves….

Lesley and Apex Magazine managing editor Rebecca Treasure are also offering critiques on up to 7,500 words. Additionally, we have ten explorer care packages available, which will include items to keep you safe on your travels: a train ticket, holy water, a book of protective phrases…visit the Kickstarter page to find out more! Stretch goals include excitements like more open call slots, a new dark microfiction anthology from Marissa van Uden, art for the interior of the Map of Lost Places anthology, and an introduction written by Linda D. Addison.

(5) WARNING ABOUT KOSA. Charlie Jane Anders is quoted in the Sacramento Bee’s paywalled article “CA senators quiet on bill allowing removal of LGBTQ content”.

“Simply put, KOSA as currently written would allow (Texas Attorney General) Ken Paxton and other red-state attorney generals to bring frivolous lawsuits against any content they believe is harmful to kids — which includes LGBTQIA+ content in their view. The states are already passing state laws to censor the internet, but a federal law would give them much more leeway,” said writer and commentator Charlie Jane Anders in an email interview with The Bee.

(6) NOT QUITE THE ELEVENTH HOUR. The latest (in 1968) episode of Star Trek did not wow Gideon Marcus: “[October 10, 1968] Going Native (Star Trek: ‘The Paradise Syndrome’” at Galactic Journey.

With two episodes under its belt, the third season of Star Trek has both disappointed and elated.  The general reaction to “Spock’s Brain” amongst the fan population (beyond the Journey) was universally negative.  Buck Coulson of Yandro has even called for this season’s producer Fred Freiberger to be ridden out on a rail.  On the other hand, “The Enterprise Incident” wowed everyone.  And so, we waited eagerly for Trek at 9:59 PM on a Friday night, a night when we could have been out drinking and carousing (who are we kidding—we’re probably the only group for whom the Friday night “death slot” is actually perfect timing).

What we got was…well, closer to “Spock’s Brain” in terms of quality….

(7) WHEN FRANCHISES LOSE THEIR WAY. Not behind a paywall! “Jedi Knights and Vulcans Both Suck Now. What Happened?” asks Charlie Jane Anders at Happy Dancing.

Something strange happened to both Star Wars and Star Trek around twenty-five years ago: both franchises suddenly became disillusioned with their spiritual, selfless bands of heroes.

The Jedi knights and the Vulcans had been an essential part of these iconic universes from the very beginning, and twentieth century viewers would have come away with a mostly positive impression of them. That changed drastically in the late 1990s, when both Trek and Wars started portraying their respective bands of detached, disciplined seekers of truth as uptight jerks. It was a jarring transformation, and I’m still wondering what exactly happened….

(8) THERE IS ANOTHER. And what about Battlestar Galactica? To find out what Charlie Jane Anders thinks you’ll need to listen to episode 138 of Our Opinions Are Correct “Battlestar Galactica, 20 Years Later”.

One of the greatest science fiction shows on TV debuted twenty years ago: the rebooted version of Battlestar Galactica. This show broke new ground in depicting realistic politics — and a nuanced view of a society of artificial people. How does it hold up? To find out, Charlie Jane went back and watched the entire series — here’s what she found.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 10, 1924 Ed Wood, Jr. Best remembered for Plan 9 from Outer Space which inexplicably has a sixty-eight percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. Really how could they? He did a lot of terribly bad genre films including Night of the Monster and Bride of The Ghouls. (Died 1978.)
  • Born October 10, 1927 Dana Elcar. Most of you will remember him as Peter Thornton on MacGyver which I submit is possibly genre, but he has a long genre history including Russ in Condorman which was inspired by Robert Sheckley’s The Game of X. He also played Sheriff George Paterson in Dark Shadows, and showed up in 2010 as Dimitri Moisevitch. (Died 2005.)
  • Born October 10, 1931 Victor Pemberton. Writer of the script for the the “Fury from the Deep”, a Second Doctor story in which he created the Doctor’s sonic screwdriver. He had appeared as an actor in the series, in a non-speaking role as a scientist in “The Moonbase” story. In 1976, he wrote the BBC audio drama Doctor Who and the Pescatons which I remember hearing. Quite good it was. (Died 2017.)
  • Born October 10, 1931 Jack Jardine. A long-time L.A. fan who was present at many West Coast cons and who shared the dais on panels with some of the major names in SF. He attended his last convention, in a wheelchair, assisted by his daughter Sabra, after a debilitating stroke at the age of 70. His health continued to get worse until he died from heart failure. File 770 has more here. (Died 2009.)
  • Born October 10, 1941 Peter Coyote, 82. He actually did two genre films in 1982 with the first being Timerider: The Adventure of Lyle Swann in which he appeared as Porter Reese and the second being E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial which he’s Keys, the Agent hunting E.T. down. Sphere in which he’s Captain Harold C. Barnes is his next SF outing followed by The 4400 and FlashForward series being his next major genre involvement.
  • Born October 10, 1947 Laura Brodian Freas Beraha, 76. While married to Kelly Freas, she wrote Frank Kelly Freas: As He Sees It with him along with quite a few essays such as “On the Painting of Beautiful Women or Ayesha, She Who Must Be Obeyed” and “Some of My Best Critics are Friends – or Vice Versa”. She’s credited for the cover art for New Eves: Science Fiction About the Extraordinary Women of Today and Tomorrow.
  • Born October 10, 1966 Bai Ling, 57. She’s Miss West in that wretched Wild West West and the Mysterious Women in the exemplary Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, she has a major role as Guanyin in The Monkey King which aired on Syfy. Nope, not seen that one. Her last genre role was Zillia in Conjuring: The Book of the Dead, a horror film riffing off Alastair Crowley. 

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Pearls Before Swine – “I’ll just say — it hits pretty close to home even with my minimal experience at autographings!” says Rich Horton.
  • Wizard of Id has a Dune reference.

(11) DUBLIN COMIC ARTS FESTIVAL. James Bacon’s report about the other con he went to last weekend: “In Review: Diving deep into DCAF 2023, the Dublin Comics Art Festival” at Downthetubes.net.

The Dublin Comics Art Festival, held this year over the weekend of Saturday and Sunday 7th and 8th of October, has been connecting comics and comic fans for years and I got the opportunity to go to their new venue, Richmond Barracks, which is now repurposed as a community cultural centre and library.

I depart Octocon, the National SF convention taking place at the Gibson Hotel and jump onto a Luas (tram), which terminates outside the hotel door and get off at Golden Bridge and its a very short walk to this excellent venue.

This gathering is in a lovely open and airy hall, filled with excitement and art, it’s a welcoming space and it’s busy. 

… In many respects I found DCAF as rewarding as Thought Bubble when it comes to small press, entry level publications, zines and art. It’s a good show, with a wide and desirable selection of vendors. I also liked how relaxed everyone was. It was friendly but there is no hard sell. An occasional “feel free to browse” or “happy to answer questions” and I have to bite my tongue and not ask “why haven’t Marvel hired you for covers” because actually, the creative art of writing and drawing ones own unique story, for me as a reader, is hugely rewarding. I’ll take this, thanks….

(12) HE MADE A LITTLE MISTAKE. The New York Times reports “Unity Chief Resigns After Pricing Backlash” “John Riccitiello angered video game developers who use Unity’s software when he announced a new fee structure that could have significantly increased their costs.”

John Riccitiello, the chief executive of Unity Technologies, abruptly stepped down on Monday, less than a month after a change to the company’s pricing structure infuriated thousands of software developers who rely on the video game company’s tools.

Unity, which makes the underlying software that powers video games, has long imposed an annual licensing fee on developers. But in September, the company said it would begin charging developers additional money each time someone downloaded one of their video games. That meant developers would pay more as their games increased in popularity. Mr. Riccitiello was one of the main proponents of the change….

…His swift exit underscored the precarious position Mr. Riccitiello found himself in after an attempt to fix a corporate balance sheet awash in red ink. But the abrupt shift in the company’s financial model angered many programmers who rely on Unity for their own businesses….

(13) IN THE ZONE. In “20 Best Quotes From The Twilight Zone (& What They Mean)”, ScreenRant sifts through the series’ twists and morals. Among them:

 Season 4, Episode 1, In His Image

“In His Image” follows an android man named Alan, created by Walter Ryder to be a perfect version of himself. However, as the ending reveals, Alan has unexplained flaws that cause him to want to kill others. Walter takes over his life at the end of the episode, realizing he is actually a perfect version of Alan. The episode’s quote, “There may be easier ways to self-improvement, but sometimes it happens that the shortest distance between two points is a crooked line.”

The common phrase says the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, but The Twilight Zone turns this on its head. The quote is saying the bizarre scenario in which Walter created a robot version of himself was the quickest way for him to realize that he is actually the best version of himself. There may have been an easier way, but this is the fastest way he came up with. This could be applied to various areas in life, as sometimes unusual circumstances can be the most effective way to realize or accomplish something.

(14) THE EVOLUTION OF WOMEN. “Eve by Cat Bohannon review – long overdue evolutionary account of women and their bodies” in the Guardian.

…This long overdue evolutionary account is the pre-history to Caroline Criado Perez’s Invisible Women (2019), showing how wrong it is to think of women as just men with breasts and wombs bolted on. Over hundreds of thousands of years, women have developed more sensitive noses (particularly around ovulation and pregnancy), finer hearing at high frequencies, extended colour vision, and longer life expectancy than men by an impressive half decade. Forget plasma exchange and supplementation – entrepreneurs trying to extend human life should be studying women, who comprise around 80% of today’s centenarians.

American academic and author Cat Bohannon asks how this came to be, tracing defining female features back to our “presumed true ancestors”, our Eves as she calls them. The story starts more than 200m years ago in the Jurassic period with a rodent, Morganucodon, nicknamed Morgie, which still laid eggs but also had glands on its tummy that began secreting milk. It was perhaps the first breastfeeder….

… There is no fossil record of brains or wombs. Where any organ once was becomes a cavity of uncertainty. Bohannon finds the gaps “incredibly fun”, excavating possibilities from silence. She revises the opening of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, for example, replacing the testosterone-filled scene of early man as the “primordial inventor” of weapons, with women who were sharpening the tools while also making the babies…

(15) IS STEPHEN KING ‘KING’? [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Moid over at Media Death Cult channel on YouTube is teasing us as to whether Stephen King the horror writer is a king of SF????

The Science Fiction Of Stephen King Filmed in a haunted forest in the pouring rain.

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

Pixel Scroll 9/19/23 In Pixelated Ink Which Glows Under Starlight

(1) OPEN LETTER AGAINST BOOK BANS. “Ariana Grande, Garbage, Natasha Lyonne Sign Open Letter Against Book Bans”The Hollywood Reporter has the story.

Ariana GrandeGuillermo del ToroPadma Lakshmi, Roxane Gay, Gabrielle Union, Sandra Cisneros, Amanda Gorman, Margaret Cho and Ron Perlman are among the signatories of an open letter calling on creative communities in Hollywood and beyond to leverage their voices to stop book bans.

Upwards of 175 actors, musicians, authors, comedians, reality stars, models, media personalities, academics, activists and more have signed the open letter spearheaded by Reading Rainbow host LeVar Burton and published Tuesday via public advocacy organization and political action committee MoveOn Political Action….

The letter’s release coincides with National Banned Books Month and comes amid a corresponding public petition from MoveOn, which will connect signatories with future advocacy opportunities around book bans. Such opportunities include methods of support or events related to MoveOn’s Banned Bookmobile, which launched a multicity tour this summer after measures touted and supported by Gov. Ron DeSantis resulted in an increase in banned and restricted books in Florida schools, according to The Associated Press.

In October, the bookmobile will once again distribute free banned books, in addition to hosting events held in conjunction with Crooked Media’s live Pod Save America and Lovett or Leave It podcasts, and author readings in Georgia, Virginia and South Carolina as part of a broader “Read Banned Books” initiative….

Here is the full text of the letter from Moveon.org.

As artists, creators, entertainers, and activists, we recognize and are horrified by the threat of censorship in the form of book bans.

This restrictive behavior is not just antithetical to free speech and expression but has a chilling effect on the broader creative field. The government cannot and should not create any interference or dictate what people can produce, write, generate, read, listen to, or consume.

We cannot stress enough how these censorious efforts will not end with book bans. It’s only a matter of time before regressive, suppressive ideologues will shift their focus toward other forms of art and entertainment, to further their attacks and efforts to scapegoat marginalized communities, particularly BIPOC and LGBTQ+ folks. 

We refuse to remain silent as one creative field is subjected to oppressive bans. As artists, we must band together, because a threat to one form of art is a threat to us all.

We are calling on everyone to join us in pushing back against these book bans, support free and open creative industries—regardless of personal or ideological disagreements—and use their voice at the local level to stop these bans in their school districts. There is power in artistic freedom, and we refuse to allow draconian politicians to take that from us.

(2) CHENGDU VENUE PROGRESS PHOTOS. [Item by Ersatz Culture.] Here from a Weibo post are a couple more photos of the interior of the Chengdu Worldcon venue.  It looks quite different to my eyes from the earlier images, not sure if it’s the lighting, angle, or if they’ve applied some coating – the Google Translated hashtags include “#金molstone# #石 CrystalWallboard#”, whatever those might be.

(3) CORA FINDS A CRACK IN THE FOUNDATION. Cora Buhlert is doing episode reviews of Apple+ series Foundation. (Access all of them here.) The latest is “Foundation travels ‘Long Ago, Not Far Away’ and blows up its own premise”beware spoilers.

…Warning! There will be spoilers under the cut!

“Long Ago, Not Far Away” was a really good episode of Foundation. Well, at least ninety-five percent of it were really good. Unfortunately, the last five minutes or so not only ruined the episode, but the entire series….

(4) TEXAS BOOK RATING LAW BLOCKED. Publishers Weekly tells how “In a Blistering Opinion, Judge Officially Blocks Texas Book Rating Law”.

After nearly three weeks of waiting, federal judge Alan D. Albright delivered a major victory for freedom to read advocates, issuing a substantive 59-page written opinion and order officially blocking Texas’s controversial book rating law, HB 900, from taking effect. The decision comes after Albright orally enjoined the law at an August 31 hearing and signaled his intent to block the law in its entirety.

Signed by Texas governor Greg Abbott on June 12, HB 900 would have required book vendors to review and rate books for sexual content under a vaguely articulated standard as a condition of doing business with Texas public schools. Under the law, books rated “sexually explicit” (if the book includes material deemed “patently offensive” by unspecified community standards) would be banned from Texas schools. Books rated “sexually relevant” (books with any representation of sexual conduct) would have required written parental permission for students to access them. Furthermore, the law would have given the state the ultimate power to change the rating on any book, and would have forced vendors to accept the state’s designated rating as their own, or be barred from selling to Texas public schools….

…“The Court does not dispute that the state has a strong interest in what children are able to learn and access in schools. And the Court surely agrees that children should be protected from obscene content in the school setting,” Albright concluded. “That said, [the law] misses the mark on obscenity with a web of unconstitutionally vague requirements. And the state, in abdicating its responsibility to protect children, forces private individuals and corporations into compliance with an unconstitutional law that violates the First Amendment.”

In defending the law, Texas attorneys had moved to dismiss the suit, arguing that the plaintiffs lacked standing to challenge the law, and that the state has the right to regulate vendors who wish to do business with Texas public schools—essentially asserting that rating books would simply be part of the cost of doing business in Texas. Albright demolished those arguments in his opinion, and harshly criticized the ill-conceived law in denying the motion to dismiss.

At one point, Albright observed that the burden placed on vendors by the law are “so numerous and onerous as to call into question whether the legislature believed any third party could possibly comply.” And he called out state attorneys for their inability to answer basic questions over the course of two hearings. “Generally, the government was confused and unaware of how the law would actually function in practice,” Albright observed, citing “approximately 40 instances during the August 18th hearing (‘Hearing 1’) where the government either did not know how the law would function or did not have an answer as to what the effects of certain provisions were.”…

(5) PREVIEW GREG JEIN COLLECTION. Heritage Auctions takes you “Inside the Sensational Sci-Fi Collection of Model-Making Legend Greg Jein” in this post for The Intelligent Collector.

Greg Jein was a giant among the Hollywood illusionists who created small things to fill big screens. The model- and miniature-maker never left his hometown of Los Angeles. Yet he was never earthbound: Jein spent decades introducing us to aliens who brought their motherships to Earth, and he sent us soaring time and again into space, the final frontier.

Jein, who died at 76 last year, was nominated for Academy Awards and Emmys, hailed as a magician and beloved as a mentor. Among Hollywood’s special effects wizards, Jein was heartbeat and historian, craftsman and custodian. His life’s story might have made the perfect film.

A fan first, foremost and forever, he made models when he was little. By the time Jein reached his mid-30s, he was a twice-Oscar-nominated maker of motherships, airplanes, city blocks and other models for Close Encounters of the Third Kind and 1941, both directed by Steven Spielberg.

“Greg loved what he did, creating things with his hands,” says Jerry Chang, Jein’s first cousin. “He could see in his mind things other people couldn’t.”

On October 14-15, Heritage Auctions is honored to offer the entirety of Greg Jein’s vast and unparalleled assemblage, which includes his prized trove of models and memorabilia and the cherished miniatures he made. The landmark Greg Jein Collection Hollywood Platinum Signature® Auction

There’s also a gallery of “The Most Revealing Behind-the-Scenes Photos From the Greg Jein Collection” at the link.

(6) NEW SOPHIE BURNHAM TRILOGY. DAW Books has acquired Sargassa, the first book in a trilogy from debut author Sophie Burnham. Set in an alternate North America called Roma Sargassa, where the Roman Empire never fell, readers will plunge into a landscape of political intrigue, queer romance, and impending revolution. The acquisition encompassed three books with World English rights and was agented by Maria Napolitano at the Jane Rotrosen Agency.

Sophie Burnham

…Executive Editor Navah Wolfe expressed immense enthusiasm about the acquisition, stating, “Sophie’s impressive worldbuilding, compelling characters, and insightful social commentary make Sargassa an exceptional addition to DAW’s repertoire. We are immensely excited to introduce their work to the world.”

In the book, North America has always been under Roman rule, and the death of the Imperial Historian thrusts his children, Selah and Arran, into the heart of a conspiracy. An underground rebel faction seeks to obtain the Iveroa Stone and use its secrets to reveal the empire’s obscured past and dethrone its dominion. As Selah works to unlock the Stone’s enigmas, she faces a monumental decision: to uphold or challenge the historical narratives of the Roman rule in Sargassa…

Sophie Burnham is a queer nonbinary novelist and screenwriter, backed by an Acting BFA and a concentration in Playwriting from Syracuse University. Honored with a We Need Diverse Books writing grant and a placement in ScreenCraft’s 2020 Sci-Fi & Fantasy Screenplay competition, Burnham’s debut novel promises to enthrall and enlighten readers. Follow them on Twitter at @sophielburnham.

(7) CON OR BUST FUNDRAISER. The Con or Bust Prize Sweepstakes is selling entries.

Dream Foundry’s Con or Bust program issues cash grants to fans and creatives of color to help connect them with SFFH genre events and resources. Con or Bust sends folks to conventions, workshops, classes, and other networking or professional opportunities. Grants can be used toward travel, registration, food, equipment, and other expenses associated with attending the event.

Con or Bust’s fall fundraiser is in full swing! We have lots of bookish prizes, including a 1 year subscription to Apex Magazine, two $50 Weightless Books gift certificates, libro.fm credits, and more. Oh yeah, and there’s a PS5, too.

Fine print:

The Sweepstakes is open only to the following individuals (each, an “Eligible Participant”):

Individual legal residents of, and physically located within, the United States or Canada, and who are 18 (except 19 in Alabama and Nebraska and 21 in Mississippi) years of age as of the date of entry or of legal age of majority or older in their country of residence…

(8) DOING TIE-IN RESEARCH. David Mack gives a detailed example of the kind of research he needed to do for a Star Trek media tie-in novel. Thread begins here.

(9) FREE READ. The 2023 Baen Fantasy Adventure Award-winning story, “The Hitchhiker on Souls’ Road” by A. A. Nour, is currently available to read at the Baen website.

A. A. Nour with award

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 19, 1922 Damon Knight. Author, editor, critic. Kate Wilhelm who was his wife is also regrettably no longer with us. His 1950 short story, “To Serve Man” was adapted for The Twilight Zone. His first story, “The Itching Hour,” appeared in the Summer 1940 number of Futuria Fantasia which was edited and published by Ray Bradbury.  It’s hard to briefly sum up his amazing genre career but let me note he was a member of the Futurians and a reviewer as well as a writer. Novels of his I’ll single out are Hell’s PavementThe Observers and Special Delivery but don’t think I’m overlooking his brilliant short stories. The Encyclopedia of SF notes that “In 1995, he was granted the SFWA Grand Master Award – which from 2002 became formally known, in his honour, as the Damon Knight Grand Master Award. He was posthumously inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2003.” (Died 2002.)
  • Born September 19, 1928 Adam West. Best known as Batman on that classic Sixties series, he also had a short role in 1964’s Robinson Crusoe on Mars as Colonel Dan McReady. He last played the role of Batman by voicing him in two animated films, Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders and Batman vs. Two-Face. He also most excellently voiced The Gray Ghost in an episode of the Kevin Conroy voiced B:TAS, “Beware the Gray Ghost”. (Died 2017.)
  • Born September 19, 1928 Robin Scott Wilson. Founder, with Damon Knight and others, of the Clarion Science Fiction Writers’ Workshop. He edited Clarion: An Anthology of Speculative Fiction and Criticism from the Clarion Writers’ WorkshopClarion II and Clarion III. He wrote one genre novel, To the Sound of Freedom (with Richard W. Shryock) and a lot of short fiction. He’s not in stock at all at the usual suspects. (Died 2013.)
  • Born September 19, 1933 David McCallum, 90. His longest running, though not genre, role is pathologist Dr. Donald “Ducky” Mallard on NCIS where he appeared in every episode of the first fifteen seasons.  (With series lead Mark Harmon’s departure from the show in the fall of 2021 (Season 19), McCallum became the last remaining member of the original NCIS cast.) Genre wise, he was Illya Nickovitch Kuryakin on The Man from U.N.C.L.E., and the British series Sapphire & Steel where he was Steel and Joanna Lumley was Sapphire. He played the lead in a short-lived U.S. version of The Invisible Man. He was Dr. Vance Hendricks on Babylon 5’s “Infection” episode.
  • Born September 19, 1947 Tanith Lee. I hadn’t realized that she wrote more than ninety novels and three hundred short stories in her career. Ninety novels! She even wrote two of the Blake’s 7 episodes as well. I am more fond of her work for children such as The Dragon Hoard and The Unicorn Series than I am of her adult work. She has garnered well-deserved Stoker and World Fantasy Awards for Lifetime Achievement. (Died 2015.)
  • Born September 19, 1952 Laurie R. King, 71. She’s on the Birthday Honors list for the Mary Russell series of historical mysteries, featuring Sherlock Holmes as her mentor and later partner. Hey it’s at least genre adjacent.  She’s also written at least one genre novel, Califia’s Daughters.
  • Born September 19, 1972 N. K. Jemisin, 51. Her most excellent Broken Earth series has made her the only author to have won the Hugo for Best Novel in three consecutive years. Her “Non-Zero Probabilities” was nominated for the Best Short Story losing out to Will McIntosh‘s “Bridesicle” at Aussiecon 4. “Emergency Skin” I’m pleased to note won the Best Novelette Hugo at CoNZealand. Yeah I voted for it. And at Chicon 8 she won a Best Graphic Story or Comic Hugo for Far Sector, written by her, with art by Jamal Campbell.

(11) FANHISTORY ZOOM. The next FANAC Fan History Zoom session will be about “Boston Fandom in the 60s” with Tony Lewis, Leslie Turek and Mike Ward, moderated by Mark Olson. It will happen September 23,2023 at Time: 4PM EDT, 1PM PDT, 9PM BST (UK), Sept 24 at 6AM Melbourne, AU. If you want access, please send a note to [email protected]

(12) COVER REVEAL. [Item by Ben Bird Person.] Theory podcast Acid Horizon announced on Twitter/X the new cover for the upcoming Zer0 Books release Against the Vortex: Degrowth Utopias in the Seventies and Today by Anthony Galluzzo.

(13) LIVE ACTION, NOT ANIMATED. “Disney World forced to close rides after finding wild bear in park” reports Entertainment Weekly.

Disney World guests were just treated to a new kind of Country Bear Jamboree.

EW can confirm that a wild bear was found inside the park Monday morning, prompting the closure of at least 10 attractions inside the Frontierland, Adventureland, and Liberty Square areas. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission tells EW that biologists with FWC’s Bear Management Program, as well as FWC Law Enforcement officers, are “working on capturing and relocating the bear,” who they say was likely moving through the park in search of food….

(14) CHANGE THE TITLE, CHANGE THE GENRE. Lincoln Michel had fun with this idea – you can too.

(15) ON THEIR OWN TWO FEET. [Item by Nina Shepardson.] Slate has a list of “The 40 best stand-alone TV episodes that can be watched on their own.” Several are from genre TV shows, including Star Trek, The X-Files, and The Twilight Zone. I’d be interested to hear whether other Filers think Slate picked the right episodes…

Whether we’re living in the age of Peak TV or Trough TV, one thing is clear: There’s too much TV. Thankfully, not every show has to be watched in its entirety. One of the best things about television is its serialized nature, the continuous thread that strings viewers along from one episode to the next. It’s a cliché that prestige television is the new novel precisely because of the way that many dramas develop their characters and plots over many hours of storytelling. But an older virtue of TV is its brevity—the way a scenario can be introduced and resolved within the space of an hour, or half that—and some of the best episodes are less like chapters in a long-running novel than like short stories or short films. These are stand-alone episodes….

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Ersatz Culture, Ben Bird Person, Nina Shepardson, Joe Siclari, Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, and SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Cat Eldridge.]

Pixel Scroll 9/17/23 You Don’t Need A Pixelman To Know Which Way The File Scrolls

(1) YOU’RE FROM THE SIXTIES! The Daily Beast’s article “Gay Talese on Resisting His Frank Sinatra Assignment, and What Really Matters in a Marriage” goes into the Sinatra-Ellison confrontation at length. (Which, if you’ve never read the piece, is here,)

Harlan Ellison Photo by Barbara Alper/Getty images
Harlan Ellison Photo by Barbara Alper/Getty images

“… Gay Talese, at 91 years old, perhaps the world’s oldest living bestselling author with 17 books to his credit, and a new one just out— Bartleby and Me: Reflections of an Old Scrivener (Mariner Books)—knew exactly what I was talking about….”

This is the last half of the article’s passage about Ellison and Sinatra:

…“Truman Capote thought he had total recall,” Talese chuckled again, “But I don’t have total recall, but I recall pretty well, and then I go over it later with the person I’m interviewing. I called Harlan Ellison the next day, confirmed that I heard what I heard as to the confrontation, and Harlan added a few things.”

As the late Harlan Ellison later verified on a YouTube video, “I told him what happened and Talese says, ‘Yeah, that’s what happened,’ I said, ‘But how do you know I’m telling the truth?’ And he said, ‘Because I was there.’ Whaaaat?

Cut-up shirt carboards is why Gay Talese can write such extraordinary paragraphs, like this one that concludes “Frank Sinatra Has A Cold”:

“It was the morning after. It was the beginning of another nervous day for Sinatra’s press agent, Jim Mahoney. Mahoney had a headache, and he was worried but not over the Sinatra-Ellison incident of the night before. At the time Mahoney had been with his wife at a table in the other room, and possibly he had not even been aware of the little drama. The whole thing had lasted only about three minutes. And three minutes after it was over, Frank Sinatra had probably forgotten about it for the rest of his life—as Ellison will probably remember it for the rest of his life: he had had, as hundreds of others before him, at an unexpected moment between darkness and dawn, a scene with Sinatra.”…

(2) ON THE ROCKS. The OSIRIS-Rex mission will soon deliver its payload. “NASA’s asteroid sample mission calls on Vatican for help” at Mashable. It won’t come as a surprise to most readers here that the Vatican staffs an observatory. Many of you have met one of the astronomers at a Worldcon (but he’s not the subject of this article).

…If it works, a capsule containing bits of Bennu will fall from the heavens to Utah on Sept. 24.

In the meantime, you could say NASA has called upon the Vatican for a Hail Mary.

Brother Robert J. Macke, curator of the Vatican’s meteorite collection, has designed a custom device that will fit inside the glovebox where scientists will handle the sample. Within days of OSIRIS-Rex’s arrival, the Jesuit will leave Castel Gandolfo, where the pope sometimes summers, and head for Johnson Space Center in Houston. There he will don a protective coverall over his Roman collar and help scientists use his pycnometer, an instrument for measuring the density of tiny grains of gravel. Through these measurements, NASA hopes to get to the bottom of Bennu’s mysterious boulders….

(3) SHE HAD A WAY WITH EDITORS. “’A true original’: Katherine Rundell on the genius of Diana Wynne Jones” in the Guardian.

In 1977, the novelist Diana Wynne Jones finished a children’s fantasy novel and posted off the manuscript of the final draft to her publishers. There, an editor asked her to make further changes to the book – which she had no intention of doing. But rather than say so, Jones took her carbon copy of the draft and chopped some of the pages up into sections, pasting them back together – exactly the same words in the same order – to look as though the book had been heavily revised. She sent it back to her publishers; the book was now perfect, they declared. That was the thing: it had been all along. The book was Charmed Life, one of the wittiest, sharpest children’s fantasies ever written. There are some writers whose voices are so vividly their own that you can detect the distinctive ring of it 10 miles off in a headwind: Jones is one of them.

Jones, who died in 2011, was a true original. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the publication of Wilkins’ Tooth, her first children’s book: it would be a good year to begin reading her….

(4) IT’S NOT HEINZ 57. It’s Star Trek at 57. The Saturday Cinema podcast plays many examples of Trek theme music in its episode titled “To boldly go where no music has gone before”.

On the latest episode of Saturday Cinema, Lynne Warfel celebrates the much more than five-year mission of Star Trek on its 57th anniversary with a survey of the fine music composed for the original TV series and later incarnations.

(5) HAPPY BLOBBIVERSARY. “65 Years Ago, a Quirky Sci-Fi Classic Created The Perfect Movie Monster” – let Inverse tell you all about it.

…In The Blob, teenagers battle an alien blob that’s consuming a small town. Infamously, Steve is played by Steve McQueen in his first major movie, billed here as Steven McQueen, although if you’re looking to start your McQueen cinematic education, you should probably go straight to 1968’s perfect action flick, Bullitt. The pacing of The Blob isn’t just bad for its time; other monster movies from the 1950s were far more thrilling. Even the blob chasing teenagers through a grocery store near the end feels less exciting than it should be. The Blob is a monster movie that often seems to forget it’s a monster movie, which is a large part of why the film has such a mixed reputation.

However, the idea of The Blob is fantastic. The blob is a perfect sci-fi monster. It doesn’t have a goal, it doesn’t look like a monster-ish take on any kind of animal. It can — and will — eat anything. When the movie begins, Steve and Jane observe a meteorite crashing, which is how the blob gets to our planet. What kind of horrifying sci-fi critter could survive on a freaking meteor?…

(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 17, 1908 John Creasey. English crime and SF writer who wrote well over than six hundred novels using twenty-eight different names. His SF writings were mostly in the Dr. Palfrey series, a British secret service agent named Dr. Stanislaus Alexander Palfrey, who forms Z5. There’s a lot of his novels available from the usual suspects. And I do many really a lot, so I’m going to ask all of you where to start reading his SF novels as I am curious as to how they are. (Died 1973.)
  • Born September 17, 1915 Art Widner. Fanzine editor. He was a founding member of The Stranger Club which created Boston fandom. He chaired Boskone I and Boskone II which were held in 1941 and 1942, they being the very first two Boston cons. Fancyclopedia 3 has a very detailed look at him here. (Died 2017.)
  • Born September 17, 1928 Roddy McDowall. He is best known for portraying Cornelius and Caesar in the original Planet of the Apes film franchise, as well as Galen in the television series. He’s Sam Conrad in The Twilight Zone episode “People Are Alike All Over” and he superbly voices Jervis Tetch / The Mad Hatter in Batman: The Animated Series. (Died 1998.)
  • Born September 17, 1939 Sandra Lee Gimpel, 84. In Trek’s “The Cage”, she played a Talosian. That led her to being cast as the M-113 creature in “The Man Trap”, another first season episode. She actually had a much larger work history as student double, though uncredited, showing up in sixty eight episodes of Lost in Space and fifty seven of The Bionic Woman plus myriad such genre work elsewhere including They Come from Outer Space where she was the stunt coordinator
  • Born September 17, 1950 Roger Stern, 73. Comics writer who’s most noted work who was on AvengersCaptain AmericaDoctor Strange, and Starman. I’m very, very impressed of his work on the first twenty-eight issues of Starman, which were published from 1988 to 1990. 
  • Born September 17, 1951 Cassandra Peterson, 72. Definitely best remembered as Elvira, Mistress of The Darkness, a character she played on TV and in movies before becoming the host of Elvira’s Movie Macabre, a weekly horror movie presentation in LA in 1981. She’s a showgirl in Diamonds Are Forever which was her debut film, and is Sorais in Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold. 
  • Born September 17, 1979 Neill Blomkamp, 44. South African born Canadian filmmaker of District 9 which was nominated for Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form at Aussiecon 4. EofSF says also, “Of particular note were Tetra Vaal (2004), a RoboCop-inspired advertisement for a fictional range of third-world law-enforcement drones; Alive in Joburg (2005), about an influx of Alien immigrants from a Spaceship stalled over Johannesburg; and Tempbot (2006), about a Robot office worker attempting to parse cubicle culture.” Other genre films include Elysium and Chappie.

(7) COMICS SECTION.

(8) TIMES OUT OF JOINT. Australia’s ABC News remembers: “The New York Times mocked this scientist in 1920. His discoveries could now take us to Mars”.

…The New York Times got hold of his paper and decided he was an idiot because rockets don’t work in space. They dubbed him the “moon man”.

“That professor Goddard, with his ‘chair’ in Clark College and the countenancing of the Smithsonian Institution [from which Goddard held a grant to research rocket flight], does not know the relation of action to reaction, and of the need to have something better than a vacuum against which to react — to say that would be absurd. Of course he only seems to lack the knowledge ladled out daily in high schools.”

Goddard responded to a reporter’s question.

“Every vision is a joke until the first man accomplishes it; once realised, it becomes commonplace.”

Goddard became very famous, but not in a particularly good way. He was sent insulting letters for years, and started to operate in secrecy….

… Forty-nine years after the New York Times’s editorial, they issued an apology to Goddard — rockets clearly worked in space.

How did they know this? Because one was on its way to the Moon, with Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on board.

Aldrin’s father, Edwin Aldrin Sr, studied rocketry under Goddard as an undergraduate.…

(9) SAIL ON. Universe Today theorizes how “Tiny Swarming Spacecraft Could Establish Communications with Proxima Centauri”.

…For many years, the i4is has been working through Project Lyra to find optimal ways to explore nearby star systems using fleets (1000 or more) of gram-scale spacecraft. Like Starshot, these efforts began with Project Dragonfly (a feasibility study hosted by i4is in 2015) for small, lightweight, distributed spacecraft propelled primarily by laser sails. Per the study’s specifications, these spacecraft would need to be realizable using technology and space infrastructure available in the coming decades and capable of reaching nearby stars within a century.

Among astrophysicists, gram-scale craft and laser sails are considered the only viable means for mounting interstellar exploration in the foreseeable future. But whereas some mission architectures envision sending a single mission with a large lightsail, Project Lyra envisions using a power laser array to send swarms of spacecraft that could explore distant star systems and exoplanets collectively…. 

(10) MEDIA DEATH CULT. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.]  For those that have been following Moid Moidelhoff’s Media Death Cult on YouTube, he hasn’t moved home yet…  However, given the frequency of his posts is down, things may well be afoot… Also Media Death Cult regulars will also know that over the past few years he and his regulars have been working through Phil Dick’s major SF novels. His latest post looks at a few of these… The Zap Gun, Three Early Novels: The Man Who Japed – Dr Futurity – Vulcan’s Hammer. “Philip K. Dick – The Perfect Amount Of Weirdness”.

(11) VIDEO OF THE DAY. From GeekTyrant: “Darren Aronofsky Shares First Look at His Immersive ‘Sci-Fi Experience’ Film That Will Screen on the Largest Screen in the World”.

…The movie is titled Postcard From Earth and it’s a “part sci-fi story, part nature documentary” and it was specially commissioned to screen at the MSG Sphere, which opened in April 2023. This project is an “Immersive and innovative exploration of planet Earth through eyes of two human beings.”…

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, Kathy Sullivan, Lise Andreasen, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, and Chris Barkley for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jeff Smith.]

Pixel Scroll 9/13/23 Scroll Your Pixels Well

(1) LE GUIN ON HER ILLEGAL ABORTION IN 1950. Arwen Curry told Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin Kickstarter backers that a “New Ursula K. Le Guin short film series starts today on LitHub!”

The Journey That Matters, a series of six short films about Ursula K. Le Guin’s life and work that will be serialized on Literary Hub, based on outtakes from the feature documentary you all helped me to create. Spending time with Ursula meant having access to her warm, wise perceptions about all kinds of questions in literature and life. With these little films, I hope to share some more of that abundance.

It starts today with “What it Was Like,” in which Ursula reads her powerful essay about the illegal abortion she had as a senior at Radcliffe in 1950, which she credits with allowing her to pursue her career as a writer and to build her family. It’s a chilling reminder of what we’ve lost since Roe fell — and how women’s success and happiness is predicated on our bodily autonomy….

See the first video in the series on Literary Hub: “Ursula K. Le Guin on Her Illegal Abortion in 1950” introduced by Elisabeth Le Guin and Caroline Le Guin:

As young women growing up under the protection of Roe, we never really talked with our mother about her abortion. Elisabeth [Le Guin] learned that it had occurred when she went through several abortions of her own in the 1980s; but what we know about the story of Ursula’s necessarily different experience comes to us through her written words, as it does to you.  “The Princess” was her keynote address to NARAL Pro-Choice America in 1982 when Roe was not even a decade old, and this piece, “What It Was Like,” was a talk for Oregon’s NARAL chapter in 2004. These stories are public statements, performances of Ursula’s own life material as a means to inspire and transform. The second of them, which you are about to hear, is also a rather extraordinary public love letter to her own family.

This is a hard essay to read or listen to, and it’s meant to be. Clearly, it was hard to write; watching Ursula in her 80s read her own words aloud, more than a decade after she wrote them, the emotion is palpable—and that shy little shrug at the end, that letting go. For us, it’s hard to watch. It’s a hard thing to think about your mother having an abortion, and an illegal one at that—to do so takes you to an exquisitely painful, vulnerable place, imagining what she went through: the shame, the grief, the sense of loss she must have experienced, the lingering, corrosive doubt. A hard thought exercise, but necessary to fully honor the fact that she could later choose to carry you to term, bring you into the world, into her world, to love and mother you the way she wanted to mother….

(2) NEW SFWA PROGRAM SEEKS INTERNS. The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association (SFWA) received a grant from the National Endowment of the Arts (NEA) to support a new program they’re launching: Publishing Taught Me. This program will be shepherded by Nisi Shawl, an accomplished and multiple award-winning author, editor, instructor, and Kate Wilhelm Solstice Award recipient. It will take place over the coming year. And the press release adds that “Publishing Taught Me Launches with an Intern Search”.

…Publishing Taught Me will produce an online essay series, to be collated into an anthology, and a symposium aimed at promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion in the science fiction, fantasy, and horror genres. This will be done by inviting publishing professionals of color to describe their journeys and to provide advice and motivation to writers entering the field via their essays and participation in a Publishing Taught Me symposium. These goals will be accomplished with the support of two paid interns, who will serve as assistant editors for the essay series, symposium, and resultant anthology.

As managing editor for the project, Shawl will oversee the operational aspects of putting together an online essay series and anthology, and will work with SFWA staff to coordinate and execute their publication and the associated events. They will also provide mentorship to the two assistant editor interns, who should be early in their professional publishing careers.

We are now recruiting for the assistant editor internship positions for this program. Interested individuals must be at least at 18 years of age, and should have at least three months previous editing experience, preferably within the science fiction, fantasy, and horror genres, and a firsthand knowledge of the challenges facing people of color in the current publishing environment. Familiarity with Google Docs, Zoom, WordPress, and Canva is a plus.

Responsibilities include soliciting and editing project essays, overseeing contributor agreement completion, assisting with arranging the essays within the final publication, helping to establish and supporting project participant communication protocols, and preparing marketing materials for the project. The term “editing” includes developmental editing, line editing, and copyediting.

The editorial assistants’ work on the project begins November 1, 2023 and will be completed in November 2024. Hours worked will vary from week to week, but the anticipated time commitment will be up to 50 hours per month per person. A flat $2,000 stipend will be provided to each intern for their participation in the program.

If you are interested in applying, please complete the application here by September 30, 2023. We encourage you to share this opportunity with anyone who qualifies and would benefit from learning about the science fiction, fantasy, and horror publishing industry as they fill this important role.

…This program will deliver invaluable insight into our industry that will benefit current and future genre storytellers, and we’re excited to bring it into existence. For questions about Publishing Taught Me, please contact [email protected]

(3) STURGEON SYMPOSIUM NEXT WEEK. Katie Conrad, Interim Director of the Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction shared the schedule for the Second Annual Sturgeon Symposium being held at the University of Kansas from September 20-22. Full details at the link.  

The Symposium theme this year, “Fantastic Worlds, Fraught Futures,” was inspired by this year’s KU Common Book, Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower. The festivities start Tuesday night (9/19) with a co-sponsored Feminist Futures Forum, and continue through Friday (9/20-9/22) with a three-day academic conference open to all and events including a zine workshop (Wednesday afternoon), an open-to-all young adult creative writing workshop with YA author L.L. McKinney (Thursday afternoon), the reception and presentation of the annual Sturgeon Award with a reading by author Samantha Mills (Thursday evening), a closing reception in the gallery with the KU Common Work of Art (Friday afternoon), and a free showing of the movie The Host (Friday evening).  

(4) WHAT LIES IN STORE FOR SIMON & SCHUSTER? The Atlantic warns about the potential consequences of KKR’s purchase of Simon & Schuster in “Private Equity Comes for Book Publishing”.

Earlier this year, the Department of Justice blocked Penguin Random House, owned by the German media giant Bertelsmann, from acquiring Simon & Schuster. The big five publishers—HarperCollins, Penguin Random House, Hachette, Macmillan, and Simon & Schuster—already control about 80 percent of the book market. The literary class was relieved.

Less than a year later, the private-equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts announced that it would buy Simon & Schuster. Because the firm doesn’t already own a competing publisher, the deal is unlikely to trigger another antitrust probe. But KKR, infamous as Wall Street’s “barbarians at the gate” since the 1980s, may leave Simon & Schuster employees and authors yearning for a third choice beyond a multinational conglomerate or a powerful financial firm.

“It may be a stay of execution, but we should all be worried about how things will look at Simon & Schuster in five years,” says Ellen Adler, the publisher at the New Press, a nonprofit focused on public-interest books….

…In their recent book about private equity, These Are the Plunderers, Gretchen Morgenson and Joshua Rosner recount maddening stories about KKR: how it bankrupted Toys “R” Us; gouged residents of Bayonne, New Jersey, for water and sewage; and, very recently, ran a vital provider of emergency services into the ground. If KKR’s latest deal follows a similar trajectory, Morgenson and Rosner might have a harder time documenting it. Their publisher is Simon & Schuster….

(5) DAYTON LITERARY PEACE PRIZE 2023. Noah Hawley’s Anthem is a work of genre interest among the six fiction finalists for the 2023 Dayton Literary Peace Prize. Given for both fiction and nonfiction, the prize honors writers whose work uses the power of literature to foster peace, social justice, and global understanding. Each winner receives a $10,000 cash prize.

2023 Dayton Literary Peace Prize Finalists

Anthem by Noah Hawley (Grand Central Publishing)

Something grave is happening to teenagers across America. Recovering from his sister’s tragic passing, Simon breaks out of a treatment facility to join a man called “The Prophet” on a quest as urgent as it is enigmatic. Their journey becomes a rescue mission when they set off to save a woman being held captive by a man who goes by “The Wizard” in this freewheeling adventure that finds unquenchable light in the dark corners of society.

Didn’t Nobody Give a Shit What Happened to Carlotta by James Hannaham (Little, Brown and Company)

A trans woman, Carlotta Mercedes, reenters life on the outside after more than twenty years in a men’s prison. Set over the course of a whirlwind Fourth of July weekend, Didn’t Nobody Give a Shit What Happened to Carlotta follows her struggles to reconcile with the son she left behind, to reunite with a family reluctant to accept her true identity, and to avoid anything that might send her back to lockup.

Horse by Geraldine Brooks (Viking)

A discarded painting in a junk pile, a skeleton in an attic, and the greatest racehorse in American history: from these strands, a Pulitzer Prize winner braids a sweeping story of spirit, obsession, and injustice across American history. Based on the remarkable true story of the record-breaking thoroughbred Lexington, Horse is a novel of art and science, love and obsession, and our unfinished reckoning with racism.

Mecca by Susan Straight (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

From the National Book Award finalist Susan Straight, Mecca is a stunning epic tracing the intertwined lives of native Californians fighting for life and land. The author crafts an unforgettable American epic, examining race, history, family, and destiny. With sensitivity, furor, and a cinematic scope that captures California in all its injustice, history, and glory, she tells a story of the American West through the eyes of the people who built it—and continue to sustain it.

The Immortal King Rao by Vauhini Vara (W. W. Norton & Company)

In an Indian village in the 1950s, a precocious child is born into a family of Dalit coconut farmers. King Rao will grow up to be the world’s most accomplished tech CEO and lead a global corporate government. King’s daughter, Athena, must reckon with his legacy—literally, for he has given her access to his memories. The Immortal King Rao obliterates the boundaries between literary and speculative fiction, the historical and the dystopian, to confront our age of technological capitalism.

The Light Pirate by Lily Brooks-Dalton (Grand Central Publishing)

As devastating weather patterns wreak gradual havoc on Florida’s infrastructure, a powerful hurricane approaches a small town on the southeastern coast. Wanda, named for the terrible storm she was born into, grows up in a landscape abandoned by civilization. Moving from childhood to adulthood, Wanda loses family, gains community, and ultimately, seeks adventure, love, and purpose in a place remade by nature.

(6) ONLINE EVENT WILL DRAW ATTENTION TO HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES AGAINST UYGHURS. “World Uyghur Congress announces #WritersSupportUyghurs campaign to coincide with World Science Fiction Convention (WorldCon) in Chengdu, China”. The complete press release is at the link.

The World Uyghur Congress will host an online panel discussion featuring several award-winning and bestselling authors on Tuesday, October 17th, 2023. The date, one day before the opening of the Worldcon science fiction convention in Chengdu, China, was selected deliberately in order to draw attention to ongoing human rights abuses against the Uyghurs in East Turkistan. The United States, along with 11 parliaments and senates around the world and the independent Uyghur Tribunal have officially recognized the abuses as a genocide and a crime against humanity. 

This marks the first year that Worldcon, the largest science fiction convention and the bestower of the prestigious Hugo Awards, will be hosted in China. The decision to hold the event in China has prompted concern from a wide range of science fiction fans, journalists, and authors, many of whom have called for a boycott. Making matters worse, the organization has invited Liu Cixin and Sergei Lukyanenko to attend as “guests of honor.” Both writers have been outspoken in favor of genocidal policies, with Liu saying that the genocidal policies are a justifiable form of “economic development” and Lukyanenko calling for Ukrainian children to be drowned

“The Chinese government wants to use Worldcon as a sort of Potemkin Village in order to showcase how futuristic and technologically advanced the country has become,” said Andrew Gillsmith, author of the bestselling novel Our Lady of the Artilects and organizer of the #WritersSupportUyghurs campaign. “Meanwhile, they are interning people in concentration camps, forcibly separating children from their families, conscripting Uyghurs into slave labour schemes, and implementing the most comprehensive and technologically sophisticated surveillance regime in history. Science fiction writers and fans have a longstanding tradition of standing for human rights. This is in the spirit of that tradition.”

The event in October will broadcast live worldwide and is expected to last 90 minutes….

“We are grateful for this support from the science fiction and literary communities,” said Dolkun Isa, President of the World Uyghur Congress. “Our goal is not to disrupt Worldcon but to ensure that coverage of the event includes the facts about an ongoing genocide being perpetrated by the host country.”… 

(7) ALAN MOORE NOW SENDING HIS DC ROYALTIES TO BLM. Variety reports “Alan Moore Donates Film and TV Money to Black Lives Matter”.

Alan Moore, the comic book visionary best known for writing such revered works as “Watchmen,” “V for Vendetta” and “Batman: The Killing Joke,” revealed to The Telegraph that he is longer accepting royalty checks from DC Comics for films and television series based on his works. He’s asked the company to instead reroute these checks to Black Lives Matter.

The Telegraph asked Moore if reports were true about him taking all of the money he makes from film and TV series and dividing it among the writers and other creatives, to which the writer answered: “I no longer wish it to even be shared with them. I don’t really feel, with the recent films, that they have stood by what I assumed were their original principles. So I asked for DC Comics to send all of the money from any future TV series or films to Black Lives Matter.”…

(8) SPACE:1999 SPACECRAFT GETS DOCUMENTARY. “’Space: 1999′ documentary to focus on the iconic Eagle spacecraft” at Space.com.

A Kickstarter campaign has been launched to raise funds for a dedicated documentary focusing specifically on the design and development of the iconic Eagle transport spacecraft from the epic 70s sci-fi TV show “Space: 1999.” The documentary feature is called “The Eagle Has Landed” and will showcase never-before-seen archival footage. It’s set to be released in time for the 50th Anniversary of “Space: 1999” in 2025. 

“‘Space: 1999’ appeared on TV a few short years after the world watched Neil Armstrong take the first steps on the moon. The show’s unforgettable Eagle inspired a generation to envision a future in space and is still doing so decades later. The question we explore is why?” said writer, director Jeffrey Morris and founder FutureDude Entertainment, the production company behind the project….

The Kickstarter link is here: “The Eagle Has Landed – Sci-Fi Documentary by Jeffrey Morris”. The appeal has raised $27,000 of the $500,000 goal on the first day.

…The Eagle Has Landed explores a passionate and ongoing nostalgia for a future that never happened. This intriguing feature-length documentary follows Jeffrey Morris—a Minnesota-based filmmaker and lifelong science-fiction aficionado—as he examines the fascinating connections between art, science, culture, and the iconic Eagle spacecraft. …

(9) MEMORY LANE.

1964 [Written by Cat Eldridge from a choice by Mike Glyer.]

So let’s talk about the publishing of Keith Laumer’s A Plague of Demons which is our Beginning this time as it’s fascinating.  Especially when it got entangled with Baen Books later on.

It first was published in If in the November and December 1964 issues as The Hounds of Hells. This is not the later version known as A Plague of Demons but a shorter version.  

It got its first book publication as a paperback from Berkley Medallion the next year. The cover illustration is by Richard Powers. 

Penguin, Paperback Library and then Warner Paperback Library (yes Warner bought Paperback Library), then Warner Books (such for Paperback Library) and finally Pocket Books before we get to Baen Books.

And there’s Baen Books. They did three paperback editions of it and then printed it as part of A Plague of Demons and Other Stories which collected a lot of his shorter fiction, mostly novelettes. It was then offered up as part of the Baen Free Library. ISFDB says it was included as part of The 1634: The Baltic War Disk and The 1635: The Eastern Front CD-ROMs. 

Now let’s not overlook as you see in a few moments that A Plague of Demons is a most amazing novel. I’ve only included the first paragraph but it’s all you need as it’s most excellent. 

So here is it. Do enjoy it.

It was ten minutes past high noon when I paid off my helicab, ducked under the air blast from the caged high-speed rotors as they whined back to speed, and looked around at the sun-scalded, dust-white, mob-noisy bazaar of the trucial camp-city of Tamboula, Republic of Free Algeria. Merchants’ stalls were a slash of garish fabrics, the pastels of heaped fruit, the glitter of oriental gold thread and beadwork, the glint of polished Japanese lenses and finely-machined Swiss chromalloy, the subtle gleam of hand-rubbed wood, the brittle complexity of Hong Kong plastic – islands in the tide of humanity that elbowed, sauntered, bargained with shrill voices and waving hands, or stood idly in patches of black shadow under rigged awnings all across the wide square. I made my way through the press, shouted at by hucksters, solicited by whining beggars and tattooed drabs, jostled by UN Security Police escorting officials of a dozen nations.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 13, 1931 — Elizabeth Marshall Thomas, 92. An American author. Anthropologist, author of both fiction and non-fiction books on animal behavior, Paleolithic life, and the !Kung Bushmen of the Kalahari Desert. She was written three works of fiction two genre, Reindeer Moon and The Animal Wife and one, Certain Poor Shepherds: A Christmas Tale, a Christmas story, a folk tale and therefore at least genre adjacent. 
  • Born September 13, 1933 Warren Murphy. Ok, I’ll admit that I’m most likely stretching the definition of genre just a bit by including him as he’s best known for writing along with Richard Sapir the pulp Destroyer series that ran to some seventy novels and was (making it possibly genre) the basis of Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins.  He did a number of other series that were more definitely genre. (Died 2015.)
  • Born September 13, 1947 Mike Grell, 76. He’s best known for his work on books such as Green Lantern/Green ArrowThe Warlord, and Jon Sable FreelanceThe Warlord featuring Travis Morgan is a hollow Earth adventure series set in Skartaris which is a homage to Jules Verne as Grell points out “the name comes from the mountain peak Scartaris that points the way to the passage to the earth’s core in Journey to the Center of the Earth. It would be adapted by Matt Wayne for Justice League Unlimited’s “Chaos at the Earth’s Core”. 
  • Born September 13, 1960 Bob Eggleton, 63. He’s has been honored with the Hugo Award for Best Professional Artist eight times! He was guest of honor at Chicon 2000. There’s a reasonably up to date look at his artwork, Primal Darkness: The Gothic & Horror Art of Bob Eggleton which he put together in 2010 and was published by Cartouche Press.
  • Born September 13, 1961 Tom Holt, 62. Assuming you like comical fantasy, I’d recommend both Faust Among Equals and Who Afraid of Beowulf? as being well worth time. If you madly, deeply into Wagner, you’ll love Expecting Someone Taller; if not, skip it. His only two Awards are a pair of World Fantasy Awards, both for novellas, “A Small Price to Pay for Birdsong” and “Let’s Maps to Others”. And yes, I know that he also publishes under the K. J. Parker name as well but I won’t go into the works he publishes here. 
  • Born September 13, 1974 Fiona Avery, 49. Comic book and genre series scriptwriter. While being a reference editor on the final season of Babylon 5, she wrote “The Well of Forever” and “Patterns of the Soul” as well as two that were not produced, “Value Judgements” and “Tried and True”. After work on the Crusade series ended, she turned to comic book writing, working for Marvel and Top Cow with three spin-offs of J. Michael Straczynski’s Rising Stars being another place where her scripts were used. She created the Marvel character Anya Sofia Corazon later named Spider-girl. She did work on Tomb RaiderSpider-ManX-Men and Witchblade as well. 

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) CHENGDU WORLDCON NEWS. A three-part news release primarily devoted to a name for the Chengdu Worldcon mascot and its slogan – “Meet The Future! Slogan and Mascot’s Name for 2023 Chengdu Worldcon Announced” – included this segment publicizing some of the guests and programs, from which Sergey Lukianenko’s name is conspicuously absent.

…This year, the Committee has invited famous sci-fi activists such as Ben Yalow and Dave McCarty, as well as sci-fi litterateurs such as Robert Sawyer and Liu Cixin to bring a sci-fi literature feast to sci-fi fans. Meanwhile, Richard Taylor, the founder of Weta Workshop founder, who has won five Oscars for Best Visual Effects, and prominent figures in the Chinese sci-fi industry such as directors Guo Fan and Yang Lei, will attend the convention. They will engage in in-depth discussions on topics related to the fusion and development of science and technology innovation, culture, cultural tourism, and cultural creativity.

According to Liang Xiaolan, the full-time chairman of the 2023 Chengdu Worldcon and the vice president of the Chengdu Science Fiction Association, the convention will hold about 260 themed salons and parties, which are divided into eight categories: Science Fiction and Literature, Science Fiction and Art, Science Fiction and Film and TV, Science Fiction and Games (Animation), Science Fiction and Academics, Science Fiction and Technology, Science Fiction and Future, and Science Fiction and Industry. “For example, in the Science Fiction and literature section, there will be salons like Liu Cixin’s ‘A Sci-fi Reunion After 10 Years’, and Robert Sawyer’s ‘The Past, Present, and Future of Science Fiction’; In the Science Fiction and Technology section, we will discuss ‘How Far Are We From Space Travel?’ In the Science Fiction and Film and TV section, there will be a ’Sci-fi Film Special Effects Summit’; In the Science Fiction and Art section, there will be a ‘Three-Body Themed Concert’; In the Science Fiction and Games section, we will release the International Sci-fi Gaming Ranking,” Liang said….

(13) NANCY AND ZIPPY. “Bill Griffith on Love, Loss and the Lives of Ernie Bushmiller and Diane Noomin” at the Comics Journal – “Long and moving,” says Andrew Porter.

There are scenes in both Three Rocks and The Buildings are Barking that converge for me. Toward the end of the Diane book, there’s a haunting scene where she appears to you on a sort of “ghost ferry,” and she’s beckoning to you, in a dream sequence, to come join her. It’s very powerful, very sad, very beautifully rendered, and it’s heartbreaking. And toward the end of Three Rocks you have Ernie—toward the end of his life—snoozing on his chair, and Nancy, in another dream sequence, is in some ways doing the same thing to Ernie. Calling on him to follow her.

So that’s me recognizing that parallel– or, under the reality that we’re all experiencing together, there is another reality. It’s just there. It’s there to find. Or create. In that dream sequence in Three Rocks, the conceit is that Nancy is doing this. I’m not doing this. Ernie is not. Nancy is doing this. So, I am saying something that I have said throughout the book, which is that Nancy is a powerful figure. She both represents and controls the world she is in. And Ernie’s world as well. Some people thought she was a child that Ernie and Abbie never had. That’s a little sentimentalized, but possible. And before that dream sequence, I’ve used Nancy in these transitional sections throughout the book where Nancy is taking you from the previous chapter, in effect, to the next chapter. Once again, it’s Nancy, physically, the drawing. Yes, I’m writing it, but it’s Nancy [who is doing it].

In the dream sequence, she’s just pure Nancy. To me, because there’s no writing going on until the very end. It came out of a conversation I had with [Nancy collector and producer/writer for The Simpsons] Tom Gammill, and I’ve also heard the same thing from Mark [Newgarden]. That Ernie would always say that he’s looking for “the perfect gag.” There’s always a more perfect gag that he can’t quite find. The most perfect gag ever. [Laughs] Which I think is a little bit… romanticizing. Either people who heard Ernie say it, or they themselves, romanticized it. It seems a little bit like false humility. In other words, “I’m not all that funny, I’m still looking for the perfect gag. If I ever find it, I’ll let you know.” It’s like a way of deflecting, that he’s a great cartoonist or a funny guy….

(14) BEAMS CHOICE. “The Influence of Star Trek and Science Fiction on Real Science” at Smithsonian Magazine, an excerpt from Reality Ahead of Schedule: How Science Fiction Inspires Science Fact

…To trace the roots of Star Trek’s replicator, it is necessary to understand that it is essentially a repurposed form of the transporter—the teleportation or matter transmission device that “beams” the crew between starship and planet surface. According to legend, the transporter was invented only because the original series lacked the budget to film special, effect-heavy scenes of planetary landing shuttles, but Star Trek did not invent the concept of matter transmission. Its first appearance in science fiction dates back at least as far as 1877, in Edward Page Mitchell’s story “The Man Without a Body,” which prefigures George Langelaan’s much better-known 1957 story “The Fly,” by having a scientist experience a teleportation mishap when his batteries die while he is only partway through a transmission, so that only his head rematerializes.

The replicator uses the same basic principle as the transporter, in which the atomic structure of a physical object is scanned and the information is used to reconstruct the object at the “receiving” end through energy-matter conversion. In practice, all transporters are replicators and matter “transmission” is a misnomer, because matter itself is not transmitted, only information. Every time Captain Kirk steps out of the transporter having “beamed up” from a planet’s surface, it is, in fact, a copy of him—the original has been disintegrated during the initial phase of the operation.

This was precisely the mechanism of teleportation explored in one of the earliest stories on this theme. In Guillaume Apollinaire’s 1910 story “Remote Projection,” an inventor finds that his teleporter is actually a replicator and ends up with 841 identical copies of himself scattered around the world. This idea anticipated the well-known Teletransporter philosophy thought experiment by British philosopher Derek Parfit, which explored questions of continuity of identity. If a transporter is actually a replicator, is the Captain Kirk that steps off the transporter pad the same as the one that was “beamed up” from the planet? If the planet-side Kirk is not disintegrated in the process, and survives the process, which of the two Kirks is the “real” one? Star Trek TNG explored this precise scenario as an ongoing story line, after an episode (“Second Chances,” 1993) featuring a transporter malfunction that results in two copies of the character Will Riker—one who materializes on board his ship and the other who is stranded on a planet. The planet-side copy eventually chooses to be known as Tom Riker….

(15) BID ARAGORN REMEMBER. Far Out Magazine counts this as “The movie with the largest battle scene of all time”.

…However, the formula for creating monumental battle scenes saw a paradigm shift as we moved into the digital age. It was no longer just about recruiting an army of extras and meticulously planning every combat move. Instead, the magic started happening in the digital realm, thanks to pioneering technology developed by New Zealand-based Weta Digital.

Enter Peter Jackson’s acclaimed Lord of the Rings trilogy, released from 2001 to 2003. With the assistance of Weta Digital’s specialised crowd-simulation software, the movies shattered all previous records by featuring battles with an unprecedented 200,000 characters. The program, sensibly named Massive, fused digital animation with early artificial intelligence to govern individual character interactions, creating a spectacle of unparalleled scale and complexity.

What sets Massive apart is its innovative use of AI, allowing each digitally-created soldier to act and react in ways that mimic real-life human behaviour – not just this, but to do it ‘independently’. By allowing the program to govern the movements, animators were spared from tailoring the movements of each of the 200,000 figures. This leap in technology generated battle scenes that were vast in scale and eerily realistic. The technology altered the very foundations of what directors considered possible, raising the bar for epic cinema to an entirely new level….

(16) A SIGNATURE OF LIFE? Mashable reports an intriguing James Webb Space Telescope discovery: “Webb finds a molecule made by microbial life in another world”.

While the James Webb Space Telescope observed the atmosphere of an alien world 120 light-years away, it picked up hints of a substance only made by living things — at least, that is, on Earth.

This molecule, known as dimethyl sulfide, is primarily produced by phytoplankton, microscopic plant-like organisms in salty seas as well as freshwater.

The detection by Webb, a powerful infrared telescope in space run by NASA and the European and Canadian space agencies, is part of a new investigation into K2-18 b, an exoplanet almost nine times Earth’s mass in the constellation Leo. The study also found an abundance of carbon-bearing molecules, such as methane and carbon dioxide. This discovery bolsters previous work suggesting the distant world has a hydrogen-rich atmosphere hanging over an ocean.

Such planets believed to exist in the universe are called Hycean, combining the words “hydrogen” and “ocean.”

“This (dimethyl sulfide) molecule is unique to life on Earth: There is no other way this molecule is produced on Earth,” said astronomer Nikku Madhusudhan in a University of Cambridge video. “So it has been predicted to be a very good biosignature in exoplanets and habitable exoplanets, including Hycean worlds.”…

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. The new miniseries of Star Trek: Very Short Treks continues with “Holiday Party” about a “blooper reel” that’s mostly not actually funny, which is the point.

It’s a First Contact Day celebration and Spock is in charge of the entertainment.

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Daniel Dern, JJ, Lise Andreasen, Mark Roth-Whitroth, Andrew Gillsmith, Ersatz Culture, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Lou.]

Pixel Scroll 9/12/23 For Us, the Scrolling

(1) MICHAEL CHABON SUES META OVER AI COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT. At The Hollywood Reporter:“Meta, OpenAI Class Action Lawsuit: Novel Authors Claim Infringement”.

Michael Chabon and other decorated writers of books and screenplays sued Meta on Tuesday in California federal court in a lawsuit accusing the company of copyright infringement for harvesting mass quantities of books across the web, which were then used to produce infringing works that allegedly violate their copyrights. OpenAI was sued on Sept. 8 in an identical class action alleging the firms “benefit commercially and profit handsomely from their unauthorized and illegal” collection of the authors’ books. They seek a court order that would require the companies to destroy AI systems that were trained on copyright-protected works.

…As evidence that AI systems were fed authors’ books, the suit points to ChatGPT generating summaries and in-depth analyses of the themes in the novels when prompted. It says that’s “only possible if the underlying GPT model was trained using” their works.

“If ChatGPT is prompted to generate a writing in the style of a certain author, GPT would generate content based on patterns and connections it learned from analysis of that author’s work within its training dataset,” states the complaint, which largely borrows from the suit filed by [Paul] Tremblay.

And because the large language models can’t operate without the information extracted from the copyright-protected material, the answers that ChatGPT produces are “themselves infringing derivative works,” the lawsuit against Meta says….

(2) CHENGDU PROGRAM PARTICIPANTS. File 770 asked Chengdu Worldcon committee member Joe Yao for a list of the people who have been added as Worldcon guests since the recent offer of help went out. No names were provided, however, Yao made this statement:

We kept inviting guests from both China and abroad, and now we have about 500 guests confirmed to come. They will attend some key events including the opening ceremony, Hugo ceremony and the closing ceremony, and they will also participate in programs as either guests or speakers. My team is working closely with the overseas team on programs and we have drafted a mastersheet of the programs. It will be confirmed and released soon.

(3) BARRIERS TO TRAVEL. Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki commented on Facebook about the challenges of getting a visa.

Nigerian passport & visa issues. Recently found out the Italian visa app has more requirements than US. Then I thought maybe China’s. Someone just told me that’s harder than the US’s. Germany might not give you visa even on their chancellor’s request. Is there any one that’s easy (possible) for a Nigerian?

When I was in the US, anytime Africans saw I was on a b1-b2 visa they used to be shocked out of their skulls. Like you find someone with the complete infinity gauntlet and stones. So for all these to be harder, Lol.

It’s really something to be a Nigerian that isn’t chained down and utterly grounded. Meanwhile what it took to get my US visa & the price I had to and still pay for it gifted me PTSD and damage I might never be able to afford treatment for. But hey, na me wan dream. Lol

(4) NASFIC MINUTES AVAILABLE. [Item by Kevin Standlee.] The minutes of the NASFiC WSFS Business Meeting at Pemmi-Con are now published on the WSFS Rules page here. (Scroll down to “MINUTES of the 2023 WSFS Business Meeting of the 15th NASFiC”.)

(5) ABRAHAM AND FRANCK Q&A. Award-winning sci-fi writers Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck talk with Meghna Chakrabarti about the world they created in The Expanse and what they’re working on next. “’The Expanse’ authors on ‘the importance of complicating people’” at WBUR.

(6) INTERNET ARCHIVE APPEALS TO HIGHER COURT. “Internet Archive Files Appeal in Copyright Infringement Case”Publishers Weekly has details.

As expected, the Internet Archive this week submitted its appeal in Hachette v. Internet Archive, the closely watched copyright case involving the scanning and digital lending of library books.

In a brief notice filed with the court, IA lawyers are seeking review by the Second Circuit court of appeals in New York of the “August 11, 2023 Judgment and Permanent Injunction; the March 24, 2023 Opinion and Order Granting Plaintiffs’ Motion for Summary Judgment and Denying Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment; and from any and all orders, rulings, findings, and/or conclusions adverse to Defendant Internet Archive.”

The notice of appeal comes right at the 30-day deadline—a month to the day after judge John G. Koeltl approved and entered a negotiated consent judgment in the case which declared the IA’s scanning and lending program to be copyright infringement, as well as a permanent injunction that, among its provisions, bars the IA from lending unauthorized scans of the plaintiffs’ in-copyright, commercially available books that are available in digital editions.

“As we stated when the decision was handed down in March, we believe the lower court made errors in facts and law, so we are fighting on in the face of great challenges,” reads a statement announcing the appeal on the Internet Archive website. “We know this won’t be easy, but it’s a necessary fight if we want library collections to survive in the digital age.”…

(7) GARETH EDWARDS VIRTUAL CONVERSATION. MIT Technology Review will hold an online event “Humanity and AI: A conversation with the director of ‘The Creator’” at LinkedIn on Thursday, September 14, 2023, at 2:30 p.m. Eastern. Appears that LinkedIn registration is required.

As many today try to imagine the future of our world with artificial intelligence, MIT Technology Review’s senior editor of AI, Melissa Heikkilä, speaks with Gareth Edwards, director of the upcoming sci-fi epic “The Creator,” about the current state of AI and the pitfalls and possibilities ahead as this technology marches toward sentience. The film, releasing September 29th and starring John David Washington and Gemma Chan, imagines a futuristic world where humans and AI are at war and fundamentally explores humanity’s relationship with AI, what it means to be human, and what it means to be alive.

(8) THE HEINLEIN SOCIETY. These are the new Officers for The Heinlein Society:

The Board of the Society voted [September 11] for its new leadership & Executive Committee effective immediately:

  • President & Chairman: Ken Walters
  • Vice President: Walt Boyes
  • Treasurer: Geo Rule
  • Secretary: Betsey Wilcox

Congratulations to all of them! 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 12, 1897 Walter B. Gibson. Writer and professional magician who’s best known for his work creating and being the first and main writer of the pulp character The Shadow with The Living Shadow published by Street & Smith Publications in 1933 being the first one. Using the pen-name Maxwell Grant, he wrote 285 of the 325 Shadow stories published by Street & Smith in The Shadow magazine of the Thirties and Forties. He also wrote a Batman prose story which appeared in Detective Comics #500 and was drawn by Thomas Yeates. (Died 1985.)
  • Born September 12, 1921 — Stanisław Lem. He’s best known for Solaris, which has been made into a film three times. The latest film made off a work of his is the 2018 His Master’s Voice (Glos Pana In Polish). The usual suspects have generous collections of his translated into English works at quite reasonable prices. (Died 2006.)
  • Born September 12, 1940 John Clute, 83. Critic, one of the founders of Interzone (which I avidly read) and co-editor of the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (with Peter Nicholls) and of the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (with John Grant) as well as writing the Illustrated Encyclopedia Of Science Fiction. All of these publications won Hugo Awards for Best Non-Fiction. And I’d be remiss not to single out for praise The Darkening Garden: A Short Lexicon of Horror which is simply a superb work.
  • Born September 12, 1942 Charles L. Grant. A writer who said he was best at what he called “dark fantasy” and “quiet horror”. Nightmare Seasons, a collection of novellas, won a World Fantasy Award, while the “A Crowd of Shadows” short garnered a Nebula as did “A Glow of Candles, a Unicorn’s Eye” novella. “Temperature Days on Hawthorne Street” story would become the Tales from the Darkside episode “The Milkman Cometh”. Both iBooks and Kindle have decent but not outstanding selections of his works including a few works of Oxrun Station, his core horror series. (Died 2006.)
  • Born September 12, 1952 Kathryn Anne Ptacek, 71. Widow of Charles L. Grant. She has won two Stoker Awards. If you’re into horror. Her Gila! novel is a classic of that genre, and No Birds Sings is an excellent collection of her short stories. Both are available from the usual suspects. She is the editor and publisher of the writers-market magazine The Gila Queen’s Guide to Markets
  • Born September 12, 1952 — Neil Peart. Drummer and primary lyricist for the prog-rock, power-trio band Rush. Neil incorporated science fiction and fantasy elements into many of Rush’s songs.  An early example is “By-Tor and the Snow Dog” from the Album “Fly By Night”.  The entire first side of the 2112 album (back when albums had sides) was the 2112 suite telling the dystopian story of a man living in a society where individualism and creativity are outlawed.  Neil is a genre author having co-written The Clockwork Angels series with Kevin J. Anderson.  (Died of glioblastoma, 2020.) (Dann Todd) 
  • Born September 12, 1965 Robert T. Jeschonek, 58. Writer for my purposes of both genre and mysteries. He’s written short fiction set in the Trek universe. He’s also written fiction set in the BattletechCaptain MidnightDeathlandsDoctor WhoStarbarian Saga and Tannhauser universes. We really need a concordance to all these media universes. Really we do. 

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Candorville is where an author claims to focus on the positive. But does he?

(11) WESTERCON 75 ANNOUNCEMENT. Arlene Busby, chair of the cancelled Westercon 75, announced today that all membership refunds have been issued. Also, the transfers have been completed for all those members who requested that their membership monies be transfer to Loscon 49.

Similarly, refunds have been issued to all Dealers who requested them. And transfers have been completed for Dealers who requested their fees be transferred to Loscon 49.

Busby adds, “We thank everyone for their support and patience in getting all these transactions processed. If you have any questions please contact me at [email protected].”

(12) TREK THEME PERFORMED IN CHINA. From the Beijing Star Trek Day event mentioned in the September 9 Scroll comes this a video of the Michael Giacchino Star Trek theme performed on traditional Chinese instruments – see it on Weibo

(13) PULITZER PRIZE ELIGIBILITY UPDATED. “Pulitzer Board Expands Eligibility for Authors” reports Publishers Lunch.

Beginning with the 2025 awards, which opens for submissions in spring 2024, the Pulitzer Prize board has changed the eligibility requirements for the books, drama and music awards to include “US citizens, permanent residents of the United States,” and authors for whom “the United States has been their longtime primary home.” Previously, only US citizens were eligible for the awards, with the exception of authors of history books, who could be of any nationality if their book was about US history. “For the sake of consistency,” the prize board said, history books must be written by US authors according to the new guidelines.

Books still must be “originally published in English in the United States.”

In “Pulitzer Prizes expand eligibility to non-U.S. citizens”, the Los Angeles Times amplifies how the change was brought about.

…Following an August petition on the literary sites Literary Hub and Undocupoets to reconsider the U.S. citizenship requirements for the arts prizes, the Pulitzer board addressed the issue….

The petition, which was signed by many prominent authors, was created in part because of the passionate case that author Javier Zamora made against the Pulitzer’s U.S. citizen requirements in a De Los opinion piece titled “It’s time for the Pulitzer Prize for literature to accept noncitizens.”…

(14) GREG JEIN COLLECTION TO AUCTION. Model and miniature-maker Greg Jein, who died last year, had an extraordinary collection of iconic sf props and costumes, which are now going under the hammer: “’Star Wars’ Red Leader X-Wing Model Heads A Cargo Bay’s Worth Of Props At Auction” at LAist.

…The intricately made starfighter brought millions of people along for the ride as a group of plucky Rebel pilots assaulted the Death Star. Now the Star Wars scale model is being sold at auction, with bids starting at $400,000.

The “Red Leader” (Red One) X-wing Starfighter from 1977’s Star Wars: A New Hope is “the pinnacle of Star Wars artifacts to ever reach the market,” says Heritage Auctions, which is handling the sale as part of a trove of science fiction props, miniatures and memorabilia.

The X-wing tops the auction list, but it’s far, far from alone: It was found in the expansive collection of Greg Jein, an expert craftsman who was as skilled at bringing futuristic stories to life as he was devoted to preserving the models and props used to bring strange new worlds to TV and film.

…More than 550 items from Jein’s collection are now heading to auction, from Nichelle Nichols’ iconic knee-high boots and red tunic as Lt. Uhura to Leonard Nimoy’s pointy ears as Spock. A hairpiece for William Shatner’s Captain Kirk and Lt. Sulu’s golden tunic are also up for sale….

There’s more information in the Heritage Auctions press release: “Mother Lode From the Mothership: Model-Making Legend Greg Jein’s Collection Beams Up to Heritage”.

…Jein also preserved Spock’s ka’athyrathe Vulcan lute strummed in a handful of Original Series episodes, including “Amok Time ” and “The Conscience of the King “; the ray generator called into duty during several Original Series episodes; and the Universal Translator that Kirk used to talk to the Gorn in “Arena. “ There’s something for fans of nearly every episode of The Original Series, from the ahn-woon of “Amok Time “ to the agonizer used in “Mirror, Mirror” to The Great Teacher of All the Ancient Knowledge intended to restore “Spock’s Brain.” The Trek offerings in The Greg Jein Auction are nearly as vast as the final frontier itself….

(15) IN THE SPIRIT OF PHILIP K. DICK. A discussion with 81st Worldcon Chair He Xi and multidisciplinary sci-fi artist Yin Guang, “HUGO X: 2”, a Chengdu Worldcon Talkshow, closes with the jolly speculation that carbon-based life will be the scaffolding for silicon-based life – artificial intelligence – and when that building is built, “you’ll be torn down.”

[Thanks to SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Kevin Standlee, Ersatz Culture, Daniel Dern, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Brian Z.]