Pixel Scroll 6/3/24 Rikki Don’t Lose That Pixel, You Don’t Want To Scroll Nobody Else

(1) THE NO BODY PROBLEM. The other day File 770 linked to a report with the good news that Netflix confirmed 3 Body Problem will have a second and third season. Today, Giant Freakin’ Robot took the same story and turned it into a reason for panic: “Huge Netflix Sci-Fi Hit Gets Canceled After Season 3”. Got to get those clicks somehow!

Netflix has long had a reputation for canceling great shows right as they become mainstream hits, and it looks like that won’t be changing anytime soon. The streamer recently revealed that 3 Body Problem will be canceled after season 3.

That means that fans still have two more seasons to look forward to, but it’s not entirely clear how much of the original novels will ultimately be adapted by the show.

At first glance, the news that Netflix has canceled 3 Body Problem after season 3 comes as something of a shock.

After all, the first season was a genuine hit: it currently has a 79 percent critical rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a 78 percent audience score….

(2) KGB. Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present Grady Hendrix & Bracken MacLeod on Wednesday, June 12, 2024. The event begins 7:00 p.m. Eastern at the KGB Bar (85 East 4th Street, New York, NY 10003; Just off 2nd Ave, upstairs.)

Grady Hendrix

Grady Hendrix is the New York Times-bestselling author of How To Sell a Haunted HouseThe Final Girl Support GroupMy Best Friend’s Exorcism, and many more. His history of the horror paperback boom of the ’70s and ’80s, Paperbacks from Hell, won the Stoker Award for Outstanding Achievement in Nonfiction. His books have been translated into 23 languages and sold over a million copies, which means he is guaranteed a seat on the space ark when the earth becomes uninhabitable. You can learn more useless facts about him at www.gradyhendrix.com.

Bracken MacLeod

Bracken MacLeod is a Bram Stoker, Shirley Jackson, and two-time Splatterpunk Award finalist and the author of several books including Closing Costs and 13 Views of the Suicide Woods, which the New York Times Book Review called, “Superb,” though he imagines the reviewer pronouncing that, “supOIB.” Before devoting himself to full-time writing, he’s survived car crashes, a near drowning, being shot at, a parachute malfunction, and the bar exam. So far, the only incident that has resulted in persistent nightmares is the bar exam. So, please don’t mention it.

(3) PHILLY SUMMER AUTHOR EVENTS SCRATCHED. Michael Swanwick alerted Facebook fans that the summer Author Events at the Free Library of Philadelphia have been cancelled. Apparently, the entire staff quit this morning. Here’s the announcement in its totality:

Dear Friends,

The entire lineup of scheduled Author Events is cancelled. The Author Events team is no longer with the Free Library Foundation.

With sincere thanks for your support over these many years of our program, “the big, beating heart of literature in Philadelphia,” (Philadelphia Inquirer),

Andy Kahan, Laura Kovacs, Jason Freeman, and Nell Mittelstead

Reasons for their quitting have yet to be reported.

UPDATE: The Philadelpha Free Library has followed up the earlier email with another saying that despite the resignations no Author Events have been cancelled. See the complete text of that email in Todd Dashoff’s comment below.

Here is the later message:

(4) MARK YOUR CALENDAR – AND MAP. Lev Grossman will be taking to the skies on “The Bright Sword Tour”. The full schedule is at the link. The journey starts in Brooklyn and ends at the San Diego Comic-Con

The Bright Sword is coming out on July 16th. I’m going on tour to promote it.

Not in any virtual or zoomy sense, I am actually going to transport my physical corporeal cells all around the USA. And to bits of the UK as well. Any other anglophone nations want a piece of this—Canada, Australia, New Zealand—you just let me know.

I’m really, really looking forward to it. It’s an incredible privilege to be able to travel around and talk to people about books.

There are definitely aspects of it that make me nervous. Like most writers I am a poorly distributed mix of intro- and extro-vert and I’m never quite sure which of these aspects is going to be outward-facing at any given moment.

But mostly I’m just unbelievably excited. My extrovert-face actually loves talking to crowds, especially about books and King Arthur and The Bright Sword, which I have been working on for ten years, and my family got sick of me talking about it about one year into that process, so you can imagine how much stuff I’ve got pent up. I love new places, and food, I don’t mind planes, and I actively, immoderately adore hotels of all kinds….

(5) SECOND FIFTH. “55 Years Ago, Star Trek Delivered Its Worst Finale — And Accidentally Saved the Fandom” claims Inverse’s Ryan Britt. It was the last aired episode of Star Trek: The Original Series. One of Kirk’s revenge-seeking ex-girlfriends engineers a way to swap bodies with him.

…The episode also accidentally fueled an emergent fan phenomenon: slash fiction. As fanfic readers know, the concept of slash fiction, in which fans pair one character with another, derives its name from Kirk/Spock fanfic, which imagined the famous duo as lovers. In “Turnabout Intruder,” after Spock mind-melds with Janet Lester and realizes Kirk is in her body, he holds their hand, treating Kirk like his girlfriend. It’s not subtle. Supposedly, even the actors were aware the story’s gender-role-switching elements prompted all kinds of questions about Kirk and Spock’s true feelings. In a famous outtake, William Shatner jokingly reworked his line to say, “Spock, it’s always been you, you know it’s always been you. Say you love me too.”

We know this because super-fan Joan Winston got herself onto the “Turnabout Intruder” set. In the fan-made essay collection Star Trek Lives! Winston recounted the experience in great detail, including the anecdote about Shatner jokingly professing his love to Spock. By 1972, Joan Winston would become one of the key organizers of the world’s first Star Trek conventions.

In 1970, only 300 people attended the first San Diego Comic-Con. In 1972, Winston brought 3,000 people to the first Star Trek convention. By 1974, Winston’s fourth Star Trek Lives! convention attracted at least 15,000 attendees. Star Trek conventions helped create large-scale genre-themed conventions in general, which is partially why today’s geek landscape even exists. Small fantasy and sci-fi conventions existed before Star Trek, but Trek made the idea of having a big convention possible, and Joan Winston was one of the movement’s key pioneers….

(6) SOUND INVESTMENT. “U.S. Audiobook Sales Hit $2 Billion in 2024” reports Publishers Weekly.

The audiobook market in the United States continues steadily growing, with revenue increasing by 9%, to $2 billion, in 2023, according to the Audio Publishers Association, which published data from its annual sales survey today. The sales survey, conducted by Toluna Harris Interactive, incorporates data from 27 publishers, including Audible, Hachette Audio, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin Random House, and Simon & Schuster, among others.

In addition, the APA has released highlights from its 2024 consumer survey, carried out by Edison Research, which showed that 52% of U.S. adults, or nearly 149 million Americans, have listened to an audiobook. The survey also found that 38% of American adults listened to an audiobook in the last year, up from 35% reported in 2023….

(7) STOKERCON 2025. The StokerCon 2025 Guests of Honor are:

  • Paula Guran
  • Graham Masterson
  • Gaby Triana
  • Tim Waggoner



[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

June 3, 1964 James Purefoy, 60. James Purefoy has an interesting genre history though I’m going to start with his role in Hap and Leonard based off that series created by Joe R. Lansdale. There he was Hap Collins who was imprisoned for refusing to be drafted during the Vietnam War.  He and Leonard Pine are rather eccentric private investigators for Hap’s girlfriend Brett Sawyer. 

Remember A Knight’s Tale, a film that the Suck Fairy tells me that they don’t even have in their database. He played the dual role of Edward, the Black Prince of Wales and Sir Thomas Colville. It currently not surprisingly has a Rotten Tomatoes rating of eighty percent. It’s one of my favorite films. 

James Purefoy at San Diego Comic-Con in 2012.

Next on his genre work is Solomon Kane where he played that character. Based on the Robert E. Howard character, he made a stellar Kane. It currently has a Rotten Tomatoes rating of seventy-one percent. 

He was Kantos Kan, the Odwar, the commanding officer, of the ship Xavarian in the John Carter film. It currently has a much better rating than I was expecting at Rotten Tomatoes rating — sixty percent. Huh.

He is cast in a main role as Captain Gulliver “Gully” Troy / Captain Blighty in the second and third seasons of the Pennyworth series, the prequel to the Gotham series. I like it a lot better than the latter series. 

He’s Philippe de Clermont  in A Discovery of Witches series based off on Deborah Harkness’ All Souls Trilogy, and it’s named after the first book in the trilogy.  I read and really loved these novels. 

Almost on my list is his performance as Laurens Bancroft in the Altered Carbon series. Yes I read the Richard Morgan trilogy. I thought it was excellently well written story with great characters and a fascinating story. He’s a ruthless billionaire who cares for nothing but what he wants. 

What is finally on my list is something I never knew had been done. BBC Radio 4 as part of their Dangerous Visions series broadcast a two-part adaptation of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Off the Philip K. Dick work. It stars James Purefoy as Rick Deckard and Jessica Raine as Rachael Rosen.  No other cast is credited, a bit odd I think. 


(11) MUSEUM STARTED WITH SALVAGED SETS CAN’T OPEN ITS DOORS. Santa Monica’s SciFi World isn’t open despite a “gala opening” on Memorial Day – the LA Times says in its story “A child porn conviction and angry ‘Star Trek’ fans: Inside the drama around a new sci-fi museum” that “The museum’s public opening is delayed indefinitely due to permitting issues with the city”. The full article is behind a paywall.

Sci-Fi World, a new “museum” that promises fans real and replica props, costumes and sets from popular films and TV shows, hosted its opening “gala” on Memorial Day in the historic former Sears building just a couple of blocks from the Santa Monica Pier.

More than a decade in the making, the museum has drawn the interest of “Star Trek” fans worldwide thanks to its genesis story: Superfan Huston Huddleston said he salvaged a replica of the bridge from “Star Trek: The Next Generation” from a discard pile outside of a Long Beach warehouse in 2011. Huddleston, known for his fanatical devotion to science fiction and horror, launched Kickstarter campaigns to restore the prop and open a museum to house it, raising nearly $163,000 in less than two years.

But now Huddleston, 54, has emerged as the nexus of questions swirling around the museum, which, despite the recent gala, did not actually open as scheduled. Some of those same sci-fi fans who were enthralled by the museum’s origin story have since learned that in 2018, Huddleston was convicted of misdemeanor possession of child pornography. He was required to serve 126 days in jail and three years of summary probation, complete 52 weeks of sex offender counseling and pay fines.

In an interview with The Times, Huddleston said he knew that any association with the museum after his conviction would be toxic for an organization that hopes to attract young fans, so he gave up control of the nonprofit and its collection of film and TV ephemera to the museum’s chief executive.

But several Sci-Fi World volunteers past and present told The Times that Huddleston remains active — if not central — in museum operations and preparations for opening. Lee Grimwade, one of the museum’s lead volunteers who quit a day before the gala, said Huddleston is “definitely 100% involved.”…

(12) AI AND SHOW BIZ. “State of Generative AI in Hollywood”Variety has a roundup. The complete report is behind a paywall.

… It further examines the advancement and potential of video generation models that have gripped the industry, including OpenAI’s Sora and Google DeepMind’s Veo, which were announced in the first half of 2024.

Yet to understand how the tech is actively being used today also requires an understanding of its limitations and challenges. VIP+ digs into the specific factors holding back gen AI implementation as tools used to make the highest production-value content. Ethical use is now central and critical to gen AI decision making for media and entertainment companies, and it is the final focus area of this report.

Research for this special report partly draws from 28 independent interviews conducted on background from February to May 2024 with leaders at generative AI tech and service providers, those in VFX and content localization networks, film and TV concept and storyboard artists, independent filmmakers experimenting with generative AI, ethical technologists and lawyers specializing in entertainment and cybersecurity….

(13) VOICE ACTOR Q&A. “Star Wars Bad Batch: Dee Bradley Baker on Voices, Clones, Show Ending” at The Hollywood Reporter.

If The Bad Batch were a live-action series, it’d most certainly be considered an ensemble show. But given that one actor voiced 22 (!) characters in the final season of the animated series, that term might not quite fit in this case. It’s a point that the voice actor himself, Dee Bradley Baker, humbly acknowledges.

The Bad Batch is a very different creative ask of an actor, to bring all of these full-fledged, full-bodied characters together in a scene as an ensemble, not as disconnected or one-offs,” says Baker. “This is an ensemble story in the same way that The Clone Wars was originally an ensemble story. It’s just in this particular ensemble, I’m most of the ensemble,” he adds, laughing.

The Disney+ series, which ended its three-season run on May 1, follows Clone Force 99, a special forces squad comprising clone solders who were enhanced with special abilities, in the aftermath of Order 66 (whereby Emperor Palpatine ordered the clones to kill all Jedi). The group is led by stellar tracker Hunter and includes the abnormally strong Wrecker, brilliant Tech and uber marksman Crosshair. The quintet is rounded out with Echo, a regular clone who, after cybernetic modifications, joined up with the Bad Batch. All five of those characters are voiced by Baker, who is an Emmy contender this awards season for his role as Crosshair….

Speaking of fans, what is the voice you get asked to do most often?

[In Wrecker’s voice] They want to hear Wrecker all the time. I always say Wrecker wrecks my voice, but I’ll talk like Wrecker anyway. [Switching to Crosshair’s voice] Also, Crosshair because he meant a lot to many of the fans. He was probably the most interesting character of all of the Bad Batch [switching back to his real voice] because Crosshair really had the arc, the transformational redemption arc, that was his story, and what started out to seem to be sort of an adversarial counter-character ends up being the character that you’re rooting for. And that is finally redeemed with that hug that he gets from Omega. It’s a really beautiful story, it’s an inspiring story, and people are really locked into that. But it’s a lot of fun [in Hunter’s voice] just to switch from character to character [in Tech’s voice] because each one is very different from the other [back to his real voice], and they’re all just different people, and they’re here within me.

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

Pixel Scroll 6/29/21 It Takes A Heap Of Pixels To Make A File A Scroll

(1) DAYTIME EMMYS. The Daytime Emmy winners announced June 25 included this item of genre interest:

Outstanding Daytime Promotional Announcement
Jurassic World Camp Cretaceous / Launch Campaign (Netflix)

Subsequently, the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences has revealed the nominations in its Children’s, Animation, Lifestyle Categories. Fansided reports that Star Wars: The Clone Wars picked up three nominations:

The final season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars was released to widespread critical acclaim, and now the animated series will look to pick up some new accolades. It was announced this week that the seventh season of The Clone Wars has received three nominations at the upcoming Daytime Emmy Awards.

The show will look to take home the trophies for Outstanding Writing Team for a Daytime Animated Program, Outstanding Music Direction and Composition for a Preschool, Children’s or Animated Program, and Outstanding Sound Mixing and Sound Editing for a Daytime Animated Program.

The winners in the Children’s Programming and Animation category will be announced in a stand-alone show streaming at 8 p.m. ET July 17 on the Emmy OTT platform.

(2) THE LEVAR BURTON READS WRITING CONTEST. FIYAH Literary Magazine today announced the LeVar Burton Reads Origins & Encounters Writing Contest sponsored by FIYAH.

FIYAH is partnering with the LeVar Burton Reads podcast for their first-ever writing contest! Do you write speculative fiction (sci-fi, fantasy, horror)? Do you love the podcast? Have you dreamed of getting your work in front of THE LeVar Burton ever since the days of Reading Rainbow? Well, here’s your shot. We are looking for one special story to be featured in Season 10 of the podcast

The first place winner will receive $500 and the story will be read by LeVar Burton on an upcoming episode of the LeVar Burton Reads podcast. The second place winner gets $250, and the third place winner, $100.

Editors for this contest include Diana M. Pho and L. D. Lewis, with the final selection being made by LeVar himself. View full submission guidelines and contest rules here.

(3) WHEN NEW WORLDS WAS REALLY NEW. At Galactic Journey, Mark Yon reviewed the July 1966 issues of Impulse and New Worlds. To everybody’s surprise and delight, New Worlds editor Michael Moorcock himself dropped by to leave a comment: “[June 28, 1966] Scapegoats, Revolution and Summer Impulse and New Worlds, July 1966”. (Yon’s review of New Worlds covers an early story by Jon De Cles, who comments here.)

(4) WORDS BY ROY THOMAS. The Cromcast has published another recording from the 2021 Robert E. Howard Days:  “The Roy Thomas Interview!” Thomas was this year’s guest of honor.

(5) VERTLIEB ON THE ZONE. Paradelphia Radio featured Steve Vertlieb on January’s podcast about The Twilight Zone.

After over 50 years of rubbing shoulders with the giants of the entertainment industry, Steve Vertlieb’s resume reads like a cinephile’s dream. This week I speak with the award winning journalist and film historian about the cultural impact of Rod Serling and his seminal science fiction anthology series “The Twilight Zone”.

The late 1950s/early 1960s were a time of staunch conservatism in America. This ideology was prevalent in the mainstream entertainment Americans watched on their television sets and at the local cinema. Rod Serling was a man with a message but it wasn’t a message many at this time wanted to hear. A talented writer, Serling was also a student of history and he knew that to get a message through a fortress wall, sometimes you needed to give the gift of a Trojan horse. “The Twilight Zone” was that gift and in the guise of science fiction, black comedy and horror Rod Serling’s voice reached out to open the eyes, ears and hearts of a fascinated public. This week we welcome award winning journalist, film historian and archivist Steve Vertlieb to the show as we discuss the cultural impact of “The Twilight Zone” and how Rod Serling’s message is still relevant over 60 years after the show’s debut.

(6) CASTAWAYS. James Davis Nicoll chronicles these (unwanted) homes away from home in “Five SFF Tales of Survival in a Strange Place (or Time)” at Tor.com.

… I’m sure you could find many SFF novels about such fuddy-duddy tourism turning strange. There are also novels that up the stakes by marooning the protagonist far from home. This will certainly give the protagonist a way to display do-or-die determination by denying them any choice in the matter…

Consider these five works about castaways.

The Luck of Brin’s Five by Cherry Wilder (1977)

Travel on Torin is a simple matter of hopping into a convenient space-plane and jetting to some other location on the Earth-like world that orbits 70 Ophuichi. Or it would be, if Scott Gale had not just crashed his expedition’s only space-plane on the far side of Torin, near the Terran expeditionary base’s antipodes. Oops.

Torin’s native population is unaware that they have off-world visitors until Scott’s space-plane falls from the sky. To the family of weavers known as Brin’s Five, Scott could become their new Luck (an integral member of each Moruian family’s five-member structure). His arrival may save the weavers from misfortune and starvation.

To Great Elder Tiath Avran Pentroy, also known as Tiath Gargan (or Strangler), technologically superior aliens are an unwanted disruptive element. Best to quietly dispatch Scott before Strangler has to deal with the ramifications of alien contact. And if Brin’s Five are not public-minded enough to surrender their Luck? Why, they can be dispatched as well.

(7) WEISSKOPF WILL KEYNOTE WRITERS OF THE FUTURE CEREMONY. Authors Services President John Goodwin announced today Toni Weisskopf will speak at this year’s WOTF Awards Ceremony. Goodwin indicated they are looking at October 22 as the date of the event.

I am very happy to announce Toni Weisskopf, Publisher of Baen Books, as this year’s keynote speaker for the combined Writers and Illustrators of the Future 36/37 Awards Ceremony. Many of our past winners and current judges are published by Baen Books. Writers of the Future and Toni first connected up in 1989, when as a volunteer, she helped out at the Writers of the Future Awards Event in New York City. We are happy she will be back again!

(8) TIME ENOUGH FOR CATS. Did we mention there is a Japanese adaptation of Heinlein’s The Door Into Summer? Let’s make sure it hasn’t been overlooked by the Scroll:


1999 — Twenty-two years ago, Charles Vess wins a Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature for the illustrated version of Neil Gaiman’s Stardust which was published by Vertigo the previous year. Gaiman of course shared in that Award. It would also win a World Fantasy Award as well. 


[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born June 29, 1919 — Slim Pickens. Surely you remember his memorable scene as Major T. J. “King” Kong in Dr. Strangelove? I certainly do. And of course he shows up in Blazing Saddles as Taggart. He’s the uncredited voice of B.O.B in The Black Hole and he’s Sam Newfield in The Howling. He’s got some series genre work including several appearances on Alfred Hitchcock Presents, plus work on The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and Night Gallery. (Died 1983.)
  • Born June 29, 1920 — Ray Harryhausen. All-around film genius who created stop-motion model Dynamation animation. His work can be seen in The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (his first color film) which was nominated for a Hugo at Detention, Jason and the Argonauts,  Mighty Joe Young and Clash of the Titans. (Died 2013.)
  • Born June 29, 1943 — Maureen O’Brien, 78. Vicki, companion of the First Doctor. Some 40 years later, she reprised the role for several Big Finish Productions Doctor Who audio works. She had a recurring role as Morgan in The Legend of King Arthur, a late Seventies BBC series. Her Detective Inspector John Bright series has been well received.
  • Born June 29, 1947 — Michael Carter, 74. Best remembered  for being Gerald Bringsley in An American Werewolf in London, Von Thurnburg in The Illusionist and Bib Fortuna in the Return of the Jedi. He plays two roles as a prisoner and as UNIT soldier in the Third Doctor story, “The Mind of Evil”. 
  • Born June 29, 1950 — Michael Whelan, 71. I’m reasonably sure that most of the Del Rey editions of McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern series was where I first noticed his artwork but I’ve certainly seen it elsewhere since. He did Heinlein’s The Cat Who Walks Through Walls cover which I love and many more I can’t recall right now. And there’s a wonderful collection of work available, Beyond Science Fiction: The Alternative Realism of Michael Whelan.
  • Born June 29, 1956 — David Burroughs Mattingly, 65. He’s an American illustrator and painter, best known for his numerous book covers of genre literature. Earlier in his career, he worked at Disney Studio on the production of The Black HoleTronDick Tracy and Stephen King’s The Stand. His main cover work was at Ballantine Books where he did such work as the 1982 cover of Herbert’s Under Pressure (superb novel), the 2006 Anderson’s Time Patrol and the 1983 Berkley Books publication of E. E. ‘Doc’ Smith Triplanetary.
  • Born June 29, 1968 — Judith Hoag, 53. Her first genre role was in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as April O’Neil followed by being in Armageddon playing Denise Chappel and then a Doctor in A Nightmare On Elm Street. She filmed a cameo for another Turtle film, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows, but it was deleted. She’s got one one-offs in Quantum LeapThe Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.,  Strange WorldThe Burning ZoneX-FilesCarnivàle and Grimm. Her latest genre role was in The Magicians as Stephanie Quinn.


(12) TOP DOGS AND OTHERS. Gizmodo has an opinion – do you? “DC Super-Pets Ranked: Krypto, Ace the Bat-Hound, Streaky, and More” Daniel Dern sent the link, adding “For those who are wondering ‘Hey, where’s Proty?’ I’ll let Tom Galloway or Kurt Busiek field that one.” (Warning – it’s a click-through slideshow.)

It is a good time to be a superheroic animal. DC’s League of Super-Pets animated movie is on the way and has somehow nabbed Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as the voice of Krypto the Superdog, along with Kevin Hart as Ace the Bat-Hound, plus Keanu Reeves, Kate McKinnon, Diego Luna, and more. But these critters—and maybe others—have long had superhero careers in the pages of DC Comics. It’s time to look at every member of the Legion of Super-Pets— and see how they compare….

(13) SALE OF THE MID-CENTURY. See a bit of sf history in a photo here on Facebook – at the 1968 Worldcon in Oakland/Berkeley, Harlan Ellison auctions off the services of David Gerrold (standing).

(14) BRING THE ANSWERS. For those who’ll be in Wellington, NZ on August 3 and 4, SFFANZ points out the availability of “A quiz from galaxies far away” at the Foxglove Bar & Kitchen. Ticket includes: canapés, two drinks and quiz.

Battle of the Galaxies

It’s time for a showdown of galactic proportions…
In which universe does your loyalty lie, are you Team Spock or is Darth your daddy? Foxglove and Gee Quiz are proud to strike back in 2021 bringing you a quiz from galaxies far away, a showdown between Star Wars and Star Trek superfans.

Whet your whistle in Mos Eisely Cantina while the food replicator whips you up dishes from culinary worlds like Endor, Naboo, Vulcan and Remus. Have you ever tried Petrokian Sausage? All teams answer questions from both universes, including specialty bonus food and beverage rounds to test your knowledge of culinary delights that are out of this world. Every ticket includes 2 drinks, canape and shared table banquet dishes from all corners of the universe!

Book your six person team ($450) or book a single ticket ($75) and declare your loyalty and we’ll match you up with like-minded quizzers.

(15) YOUR NEXT $500 TOY. Er, I’m sorry, only $499.99. “Massive Playmobil Star Trek U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701 Playset Gets Official Images”Comicbook.com has photos.

Playmobil appears to be taking on LEGO and some of the massive Star Wars sets in their Ultimate Collector’s Series lineup with the 70548 Star Trek U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701 Playset. It’s being touted as “the biggest and most deluxe Playmobil playset created up to this point”. UPDATE: Official images added. Additional images are available here at Entertainment Earth, where the set can be pre-ordered for $499.99.

ORIGINAL: How big? When complete the starship will measure 42-inches long and 18-inches wide. Features will include electronic lights and sounds that can be controlled via an app, and you can open up the saucer section of the Enterprise to see a full 1966-style bridge. The body of the ship will also open to display the engineering room.

(16) A DISTURBANCE IN THE FORCE. “Astrophysicists Detect Black Holes and Neutron Stars Merging, This Time for Certain” – let Gizmodo fill you in.

A large collaboration of astrophysicists report they have made the first-ever confirmed detections of shockwaves produced by mergers between neutron stars and black holes. The detections, 10 days apart, represent two of these enormous cosmic unions.

In January 2020, Earth quivered ever so slightly as shockwaves imperceptible to human senses passed through it. Those ripples were gravitational waves, perturbations in spacetime generated by all massive objects but only detectable from extremely huge events, like two black holes colliding. The waves were strong enough to be picked up by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory in Louisiana (the Washington branch of the instrument was offline at the time) and the similar Virgo experiment in Pisa, Italy. These experiments detect gravitational waves using a sensitive arrangement of mirrors and laser beams.

Black holes are points in space with such intense gravitational fields that not even light can escape. They form when a star dies and collapses in on itself. Neutron stars form similarly; they are the extremely dense collapsed remains of dead stars and are mostly composed of packed-in neutrons.

(17) AROUND THE BLOCK. The New York Times reports “Venus Lacks Plate Tectonics. But It Has Something Much More Quirky.”

… Venus doesn’t have plate tectonics. But according to a study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, it may possess a quirky variation of that process: Parts of its surface seem to be made up of blocks that have shifted and twisted about, contorting their surroundings as they went.

These boogying blocks, thin and flat slices of rock referred to as campi (Latin for “fields”), can be as small as Ireland or as expansive as Alaska. They were found using data from NASA’s Magellan orbiter mission, the agency’s last foray to Venus. In the early 1990s, it used radar to peer through the planet’s obfuscating atmosphere and map the entire surface. Taking another look at these maps, scientists found 58 campi scattered throughout the planet’s lava-covered lowlands….

(18) SHOW BIZ WANTS YOU. Universal Studios Hollywood put out a call for contestants to be on “the first ever Harry Potter quiz show.” The application is here.

(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Game Trailers: Ratchet and Crank:  Rift Apart,” Fandom Games says the latest line extension of the Ratchet and Crank franchise is so familiar that “if it seems like a new coat of paint on an old favorite, that’s what it is” and shows the rule of the gaming industry, that, “If it ain’t broke, just slap newer-looking graphics on it and charge full price.”

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Cora Buhlert, James Davis Nicoll, Daniel Dern, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, and Michael Toman  for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]

Dramatic Presentation Watch:
The Clone Wars

Introduction: This is the first in an occasional series of recommendation posts spotlighting potential contenders for the 2021 Best Dramatic Long/Short Form Hugo categories (and possibly Graphic Story later).

By N.

DRAMATIC PRESENTATION WATCH: Star Wars: The Clone Wars: “Old Friends Not Forgotten”/”The Phantom Apprentice”/”Shattered”/”Victory and Death” (Long Form)

The final chapter of The Clone Wars happens over the course of 4 interconnected episodes. Ahsoka Tano finally returns to the Jedi order, reuniting with her master (and best friend) Anakin Skywalker. This reunion is short-lived when General Grievous attacks Coruscant…or rather, when the events of “Revenge of the Sith” kick into gear. What follows is a tragedy, as Ahsoka experienced Order 66 firsthand and the Clone Wars meet a harrowing end, to say little of what becomes of her friend…

Star Wars, to this writer, is a funny franchise. Its introduction to the global public in the 1970s no doubt shaped the course of moviemaking, further popularizing both the American blockbuster and clear-eyed, spectacular genre filmmaking, becoming a merchandising behemoth in the process (Holiday Specials notwithstanding). The following two entries of the trilogy served to further cement its legacy as not just a beloved piece of SF/F but a key part of pop culture, period.

And yet…something happened to Star Wars. George Lucas came back to direct the “Prequel Trilogy,” charting the fall of series villain Darth Vader from his rise as Jedi Anakin Skywalker, premiered in 1999 and concluded in 2005 to initial befuddlement that evolved into anger and mockery. This past decade saw the “Sequel Trilogy,” set after the original trilogy, which attempted to both invoke nostalgia for the original movies and recontextualize their binary view on good vs. evil in a 21st-century light. This resulted in an entry that heavily called back to “A New Hope” only to dissipate from the public consciousness, a highly polarizing entry, and an entry that tried to please everyone and pleased few. Connected to the “Sequel Trilogy” was a larger pushback from those fed up with Star Wars – fed up with the heavy marketing, the discourse that came with these new movies, and the extremely vocal fans.

The supplemental material of Star Wars, however, has always seemed to be better received than the later main entries. The dearly-departed Extended Universe greatly expanded the world of Star Wars, unlocking its potential and firing-up the imaginations of fans and writers, many of whom would wind up working on Star Wars properties themselves. Rogue One and Solo: A Star Wars Story both got resounding mehs, but the Disney+ series The Mandalorian holds rave reviews. There’s a disconnect here between these examples and the main movies; the Original Trilogy, as much as Empire Strikes Back elevated it, was still largely an exercise in invoking the old serials of Lucas’ youth mixed with an Akira Kurosawa-inspired 70’s brat mentality; the actual worldbuilding was incidental (A New Hope, in particular, has that “making this all up on the fly” feel to it.) The more popular the franchise became, the greater the urge to dig into the world became. Ultimately, this was largely to the greater series’ detriment; Like the later Sequel Trilogy, Lucas was attempting to do things with the prequels, both deconstructing the Jedi as a wholly just force and maintaining the series’ fun sensibility. If there’s a trend here, it’s that while works on the sidelines of Star Wars can explore its world with ease, main entries that attempt this seem to always stumble into poor critical receptions, arguably because that was never the intention of the series in the first place.

This writer himself was never big into Star Wars, and still, admittedly, feels a detachment from the franchise. It seems like a series one has to watch at a formative age to feeI a special attachment to; me, I was born a year before Phantom Menace came out and never watched any of the movies as a kid. The only piece of Star Wars media I watched was, coincidence, Clone Wars—not the 2003 miniseries, but this Clone Wars. I remember when the series first premiered in film form and was lambasted, coming fresh off the heels of the prequels and seeming to overturn the beloved miniseries in favor of a kiddie Saturday morning cartoon feel. Seven seasons and a jump to Netflix and Disney+ later, that’s been proven to not be the case. Dave Filoni and collaborators used that supplemental freedom to do what the prequels were unable to do; flesh out the world, flesh out characters that had previously been afterthoughts, and to give credence to the notion of moral ambiguity in the world of Star Wars

That plays out in this 4-part finale, where the already strong storytelling is bolstered by the dramatic irony of how ROTS plays out Ahsoka Tano went from an “annoying add-on” to one of the most beloved Star Wars characters ever; seeing the events from her perspective, as well as from the perspective of the Clones that audiences had come to love over the course of seven seasons, end the series on a sobering note of sublimity.

I had not seen Clone Wars since middle school, so (possibly unavoidably with Star Wars) I felt a hint of nostalgia while watching these episodes. Detached as they are from the rest of the season, they stand alone (though not apart from each other). Due to the cohesive storytelling and combined length, if they’re to be considered for the Hugo Awards, it really has to be for Long Form. Television has always had a spotty history in the category (only a few shows, only in their first seasons), so asking voters to look at what amounts to an arc might be a high order. But, speaking as someone who isn’t really into Star Wars, this set of episodes is worth it.

Pixel Scroll 1/23/20 No-One Expects The Scrollish Pixelation!

(1) THE DOCTOR IS STILL IN. Entertainment Weekly confirms “Doctor Who star Jodie Whittaker will play time traveler for at least one more season”.

… “I’ve seen loads of fan art, which I always love,” she says. “But it’s never been that great for me to immerse myself in noise that you can’t control, good or bad. I think both are a rabbit hole that you shouldn’t necessarily go down. We know that we work really hard for the show to be the best it can be in this moment. Once it’s out in the ether, how people feel, in a way, is kind of irrelevant.”

But Whittaker isn’t going anywhere. The length of time an actor has played the Doctor has varied over the years — back in the ’70s and ’80s, Tom Baker’s Fourth Doctor piloted the TARDIS for seven seasons; in the aughts, Christopher Eccleston’s Ninth Doctor survived just one. So, will Whittaker return for a third run of shows? “Yes, I’m doing another season,” she confirms. “That might be a massive exclusive that I’m not supposed to say, but it’s unhelpful for me to say [I don’t know] because it would be a massive lie! [Laughs] I absolutely adore it. At some point, these shoes are going to be handed on, but it’s not yet. I’m clinging on tight!”

(2) GUINAN. Patrick Stewart, while appearing on The View, extended an invitation to host Whoopi Goldberg to appear in Picard’s second season. See 4-minutue video here. Stewart said —

“I’m here with a formal invitation, and it’s for you, Whoopi.  Alex Kurtzman, who is the senior executive producer of Star Trek: Picard, and all his colleagues, of which I am one, want to invite you into the second season.”

The crowd delivered a standing ovation as Goldberg and Stewart hugged, and Goldberg replied, “Yes, yes, yes!” 

(3) THE PEOPLE ALL RIDE IN A WORMHOLE IN THE GROUND. The New York Post tells readers “Here’s where to get ‘Star Trek: Picard’ MetroCards featuring Patrick Stewart”.

“Star Trek: Picard” is beaming to a subway station near you.

For three weeks starting Thursday, when the show premieres on CBS All Access, the series will be promoted on special MetroCards available at six MTA stations in Manhattan.

In the drama, Sir Patrick Stewart, 79, reprises his “Star Trek: The Next Generation” role of Jean-Luc Picard, the retired Starfleet admiral and former captain of the Starship Enterprise who is living out his latter days on his family’s vineyard in France. Fittingly, the subway promotion will showcase two different cards — one featuring Picard on the front and his family’s sweeping vineyard on the back, the other with Picard’s dog, No. 1, on the front and several planets on the flip side.

(4) IS PICARD MESSAGE-HEAVY? The Daily Beast argues “‘Star Trek: Picard,’ With Its Refugee Crisis and Anti-Trump Messaging, May Be the Most Political Show on TV”.

…At the crux of the Picard premiere is a devastating monologue Stewart delivers recounting a catastrophic event that happened years before, triggering a refugee crisis and driving Picard to quit his position in the Starfleet, disgusted by what the organization and the Federation now stood for. 

It might sound in the weeds if you’re not a Trekkie, but the basics of the plot are refreshingly simple. 

A supernova blast threatened the planet Romulus. Despite their antagonistic relationship, the Federation agreed to rescue the Romulan people. But in the midst of the rescue mission, synthetic lifeforms like Data, who helped Picard pilot his ship, went rogue and destroyed the Federation’s base on Mars, killing over 90,000 people. In the wake of the incident, synthetic lifeforms were banned, a decision that appalled Picard and caused him to quit before he carried out his Romulan rescue mission. 

“It has always been part of the content of Star Trek that it will be attempting to create a better future with the certain belief that a better future is possible if the right kind of work and the right kind of people are engaged in that,” Stewart told reporters. “And my feeling was, as I look all around our world today, there has never been a more important moment when entertainment and show business can address some of the issues that are potentially damaging our world today.” 

(5) CLONE WARS TRAILER. The final season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars starts streaming Feb. 21 on DisneyPlus.

One of the most critically-acclaimed entries in the Star Wars saga will be returning for its epic conclusion with twelve all-new episodes on Disney+ beginning Friday, February 21. From Dave Filoni, director and executive producer of “The Mandalorian,” the new Clone Wars episodes will continue the storylines introduced in the original series, exploring the events leading up to Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith.

(6) HAVE SPACEWORTHY 3D PRINTER, WILL TRAVEL. Daniel Dern looks into “NASA’s 3D Printing Space Initiatives” in an article for GrabCAD.

…The SLS [Space Launch System] is intended to be the primary launch vehicle of NASA’s deep space. By manufacturing as many of the engine’s parts as possible (like the fuel injectors, turbo pumps, valves, and main injectors) with 3D printing, NASA can significantly reduce time and money spent.

“NASA is on track to reduce the number of individual parts by an order of magnitude — from hundreds to tens — and reduce the cost of the entire engine by 30% and later by 50%, and the build time by 50%,” John explains.

Dern notes, “This is the 3rd or 4th NASA-related article I’ve gotten to do over the past six months. I had a lot of fun researching and writing this, and hope find more assignments on this stuff over the coming year.”

(7) WHAT IT TAKES. “Oscar-nominated filmmaker Chris Butler’s top animation tips” – BBC video.

Film writer and director Chris Butler, who has been nominated for an Oscar, has said anyone who wants to be an animator needs to be prepared for “hard work”.

His film Missing Link is up against Toy Story 4 in the Animated Feature category, but Butler, from Maghull, Merseyside, has already beaten it – and Frozen II – to a Golden Globe.

He said he was “shell-shocked” when it was announced as the winner earlier this month – so much so that he cannot remember going on stage to collect the award.

Butler said making animated films was “not easy” and warned that budding filmmakers have to “put in long hours” to make it in the industry.

(8) STONE AGE. First Fandom Experience not only remembers when — “In 1939, Lithography Came To Fanzines — But Why?”. Zine scans at the link.

Beginning in 1932, Conrad H. Ruppert reshaped the world of fan publications with the printing press he bought with money saved by working in his father’s bakery. He printed issues of the most prominent fanzines of the period, including The Time Traveller, Science Fiction Digest, and Charles D. Hornig’s The Fantasy Fan. It’s not unreasonable to assert that the professional appearance of Hornig’s leaflet-sized ‘zine contributed to his ascension to the editorship of Wonder Stories at the age of 17….

(9) THOSE DARN FANS. RS Benedict posted a new episode of the Rite Gud podcast — “This is the first of a two-part series about the dark side of fandom. Why does fandom turn toxic? Can over-investment in fandom stunt your social and artistic growth?” The first episode is here: “The Dark Side of Fandom, Part 1: Have You Accepted Spider-Man as Your Lord and Savior?”

Tim Heiderich of Have You Seen This took the time to talk to us about the creative perils of fandom. Fandom can be fun, but it can also turn ugly too, or it can keep us so busy focusing on someone else’s work that we fail to develop our own talents.

This was a huge conversation, so we split it into two parts. In the first installment, we talk about toxic fandom, simulacra, and the siren song of nostalgia.

(10) EXTRA, EXTRA, READ ALL ABOUT IT. “Orange Mike” Lowrey’s TAFF win attracted local media attention: “From Chester County High School to Stockholm and Birmingham (England)” in the Chester County Independent.

…Lowrey has been attending these conventions since 1975 and loves it. He said he loves how the conventions are filled with interesting, intelligent people. The interaction of science fiction fans overseas is awesome as well he said.
“I got people I consider good friends that I never met before,” he said.
He actually met the woman whom he would spend his life with and marry, C.K. “Cicatrice” Hinchliffe of Bertram, Iowa, at the local Milwaukee science fiction convention in 1981.
Lowrey graduated from Chester County High School in 1971 and earned a magna cum laude degree in history from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. In addition to his job with the State of Wisconsin, he’s been working as a writer and editor since 1984.
He is also a bookseller, serves as a local president and state executive board member of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, and acts as a volunteer administrator for Wikipedia. He has had book reviews published and also Dungeon and Dragon articles published in Dragon magazine.

(11) KARLEN OBIT. John Karlen , the actor who played multiple roles (Willie Loomis, Carl Collins, William H. Loomis, Desmond Collins, Alex Jenkins and Kendrick Young) on the ABC serial Dark Shadows died January 22 at the age of 86.


  • January 23, 1954Killers From Space made it to your local drive-in. It was produced and directed by W. Lee Wilder, brother of Billy Wilder. It has a cast of Peter Graves, Barbara Bestar and James Seay. We should note that Killers From Space came about as a commissioned screenplay from Wilder’s son Myles Wilder and their regular collaborator William Raynor. How was it received? Not well. There was, in the opinion of critics, way too much too talk, too little action, poor production values… you get the idea. Though they liked Graves. Who doesn’t? Reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give it a decidedly unfavourable rating of just 24%. 
  • January 23, 1974 The Questor Tapes first aired on NBC. Created and written by Roddenberry himself with Gene L Coon as co-writer, it was by Richard Colla. It starred Robert Foxworth, Mike Farrell and John Vernon. (Fontana’s novelisation would be dedicated to Coon who died before it aired.) though it was intended to be a pilot fir a series, conflict between Roddenberry and the network doomed the series. It would place fifth in the final Hugo balloting the following year at Aussiecon One with Young Frankenstein being the Hugo winner.
  • January 23, 1985 — The Rankin-Bass version of ThunderCats premiered in syndication. Leonard Starr was the primary writer with the animation contracted to the Japanese studio Pacific Animation Corporation, with Masaki Iizuka as the production manager. It would run for four years and one and thirty episodes. Need we note that a vast media empire of future series, films, comics, t-shirts, statues, action figures and so forth have developed since then?


[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 23, 1923 Walter M. Miller Jr. He’s best remembered  for A Canticle for Leibowitz, the only novel he published in his lifetime. Terry Bisson would finish off the completed draft that he left of Saint Leibowitz and the Wild Horse Woman, a sequel of sorts to the first novel. He did a fair amount of short fiction as well. He’s poorly represented both digitally and in the dead tree sense as well beyond A Canticle for Leibowitz. (Died 1996.)
  • Born January 23, 1932 Bart LaRue. He was the voice of The Guardian  of  Forever in the “City on the Edge of Forever” episode of Trek as well as doing voice roles in “Bread and Circuses” (on-screen too) “The Gamesters of Triskelion” as Provider 1 (uncredited) “Patterns of Force” as an Ekosian newscaster (Both voice and on-screen) and “The Savage Curtain” as Yarnek. He did similar work for Time Tunnel, Mission Impossible, Voyage to The Bottom of The Sea, The Andromeda StrainWild Wild West, Land of Giants and Lost in Space. (Died 1990.)
  • Born January 23, 1939 Greg and Tim Hildebrandt. Greg’s aged eighty one years, and Tim passed in 2006. I’d say best known for their very popular and ubiquitous Lord of the Rings calendar illustrations, also for illustrating comics for Marvel Comics and DC Comics. They also did a lot of genre covers so I went to ISFDB and checked to see if I recognized any. I certainly did. There was Zelazny’s cover of My Name is Legion, Tolkien’s Smith of Wootton Major and Farmer Giles of Ham and Poul Anderson’s  A Knight of Ghosts and Shadows. Nice.
  • Born January 23, 1942 Brian Coucher, 78. He appeared in three genre series — first  the second actor to portray Travis in Blake’s 7 and also as Borg in the Fourth Doctor story, “The Robots of Death”. Finally genre wise he appeared in a Doctor Who spin-off that I’ve never heard existed, Shakedown: Return of the Sontarans. No Who characters appeared though Sophie Alfred played someone other than Ace here. 
  • Born January 23, 1943 Gil Gerard, 77. Captain William “Buck” Rogers in Buck Rogers in the 25th Century which I fondly remember as a really a truly great SF series even if it really wasn’t that great. He also shows up in the very short lived E.A.R.T.H. Force as Dr. John Harding, and he’s General Morgenstern in Reptisaurus, a movie title that proves someone had a serious lack of imagination regarding titles that day. In Bone Eater, a monster film that Bruce Boxleitner also shows up in as Sheriff Steve Evans, he plays Big Jim Burns, the Big Bad. Lastly I’d like to note that he got to play Admiral Sheehan in the “Kitumba” episode of fan created Star Trek: New Voyages. 
  • Born January 23, 1950 Richard Dean Anderson, 70. Unless you count MacGyver as genre which I can say is open to debate, his main and rather enduring SF role was as Jack O’Neill in the many Stargate Universe series. Well Stargate SG-1 really as he only briefly showed up on Stargate Universe and Stargate Atlantis whereas he did one hundred and seventy-three episodes of SG-1. Wow. Now his only other SF role lasted, err, twelve episodes in which he played Enerst Pratt alias Nicodemus Legend in the most excellent Legend co-starring John de Lancie. Yeah, I really liked it. And damn it should’ve caught on. 
  • Born January 23, 1976 Tiffani Thiessen, 44. Better known by far by me at least her role as Elizabeth Burke on the White Collar series which might be genre adjacent, she did end up in three films of genre interest: From Dusk Till Dawn 2: Texas Blood Money, Shriek If You Know What I Did Last Friday the 13th (a parade of the Friday the 13th films) and Cyborg Soldier. They’re average rating at Rotten Tomatoes among reviewers is fifteen percent in case you were wondering how good they were. 
  • Born January 23, 1973 Lanei Chapman, 47. She’s most remembered as Lt. Vanessa Damphousse on Space: Above and Beyond, a series that ended well before it should’ve ended. She made her genre debut on Next Gen as Ensign Sariel Rager, a recurring character who was a conn officer. 
  • Born January 23, 1977 Sonita Henry, 43. Her very first was as President’s Aide on Fifth Element. She was a Kelvin Doctor in the rebooted Star Trek film, and she’s Colonel Meme I the Eleventh Doctor story, “The Time of The Doctor”.  Her latest is playing Raika on Krypton.


(15) AND SPREAD HIM OUT THIN. Adweek says “Rest in Peace, Mr. Peanut—Planters Kills Off Iconic Mascot in Lead-Up to Super Bowl”.  

… In a shocking move, Planters, the Kraft-Heinz-owned snack brand, has killed off its iconic mascot in a teaser for its Big Game spot. Mr. Peanut’s untimely demise began with a Nutmobile crash, followed by falling off a cliff and ending in an explosion.

… And when will the classic mascot be memorialized? During Super Bowl 2020, naturally.

…The loss of Mr. Peanut is a major moment for the brand. Planters first introduced Mr. Peanut to audiences in 1916, meaning that the mascot has been around since the midst of World War I, making him of the longest-standing brand mascots of all time.

The spot, which will air during the third quarter of the Big Game on Feb. 2, was produced by VaynerMedia. Planters also has several promotions and activations to honor Mr. Peanut’s life, including commemorative pins for fans who spot the Nutmobile on the streets and a hashtag, #RIPeanut, for fans to share their sympathies.

(16) POMPEII AND CIRCUMSTANCE. “Mount Vesuvius eruption: Extreme heat ‘turned man’s brain to glass'” – BBC has the story.

Extreme heat from the Mount Vesuvius eruption in Italy was so immense it turned one victim’s brain into glass, a study has suggested.

The volcano erupted in 79 AD, killing thousands and destroying Roman settlements near modern-day Naples.

The town of Herculaneum was buried by volcanic matter, entombing some of its residents.

A team of researchers has been studying the remains of one victim, unearthed at the town in the 1960s.

A study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Thursday, said fragments of a glassy, black material were extracted from the victim’s skull.

Researchers behind the study believe the black material is the vitrified remains of the man’s brain.

(17) YOUR PAL IN SPACE. “Meet Vyom – India’s first robot ‘astronaut'” – BBC video.

India’s space agency has unveiled a robot that will travel to space later this year as part of an unmanned mission

Scientists hope that it will be able to later assist astronauts in a manned space mission called Gaganyaan, which is scheduled for December 2021.

Isro will conduct two unmanned missions – one in December this year and another in June 2021 – before the Gaganyaan mission.

The robot, which has been named Vyom Mitra (which translates from the Sanskrit to friend in space) is designed to perform a number of functions including responding to astronaut’s questions and performing life support operations.

(18) DO IT FOR SCIENCE. Public spirited citizens arise! “Wanted – volunteers to monitor Britain’s growing slug population”.

Citizen scientists are being sought to help carry out the first survey in decades of Britain’s slug populations.

To take part, all that’s required is curiosity, a garden, and a willingness to go out after dark to search for the likes of the great grey or yellow slug.

The year-long research project will identify different slug species and the features that tempt them into gardens.

The last study conducted in English gardens in the 1940s found high numbers of just nine species of slug.

Many more have arrived in recent years, including the Spanish slug, which is thought to have come in on salad leaves. Less than half of the UK’s 40 or more slug species are now considered native.

(19) TRANSMUTING GOLD TO LEAD. Iron Man never had days like this. GQ asks “Does Dolittle’s Box Office Flop Spell Trouble for Robert Downey Jr.?”

For over a decade, Robert Downey Jr. played MCU pillar Tony Stark, a billionaire superhero who would almost certainly consider Dolittle’s abysmal opening weekend earnings to be little more than pocket change.

Despite opening on a holiday weekend, RDJ’s Dolittle made just $29.5 million over the four-day period, and only an additional $17 million internationally. Dolittle cost a jaw-dropping $175 million to make, so those box office numbers are kind of catastrophic, with Universal expected to lose $100 million on the movie, according to The Wrap. Universal, it should be noted, also took a bath last month when the furry fever dream that is Cats flopped, but at least Cats only cost $90 million to make, so the loss isn’t quite as terrible.

The only slim hope for Dolittle’s prospects is a higher than expected haul in the international markets where it hasn’t opened yet—including China—but maybe don’t hold your breath.

It took the strain of wielding all six Infinity Stones to kill him in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, so Robert Downey Jr. will probably survive Dolittle’s bomb. Still… yikes.

(20) I SPY, AGAIN. “Twitter demands AI company stops ‘collecting faces'”

Twitter has demanded an AI company stop taking images from its website.

Clearview has already amassed more than three billion photographs from sites including Facebook and Twitter.

They are used by the FBI and Department of Homeland Security and more than 600 other law-enforcement agencies around the world to identify suspects.

In a cease-and-desist letter sent on Tuesday, Twitter said its policies had been violated and requested the deletion of any collected data.

…US senator Ron Wyden said on Twitter Clearview’s activities were “extremely troubling”.

“Americans have a right to know whether their personal photos are secretly being sucked into a private facial-recognition database,” he said.

“Every day, we witness a growing need for strong federal laws to protect privacy.”

(21) PYTHON PASSPORT. [Item by Hampus Eckerman.] A fitting (and unintentional) tribute to Terry Jones. I’d vote for a Brexit for this one if I could.


Sad to say, the Express graphic is fixed now — “Britons will fly to 2020 summer holiday destinations on classic BLUE passport”.

(22) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Model Citizen” on YouTube, David James Armsby portrays what seems to be the perfect nuclear family–but why is it controlled by evil robots?

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, Hampus Eckerman, Chip Hitchcock, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Contrarius, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Anthony.]