Pixel Scroll 2/2/23 Out Fifthed The Web And Pixeled Wide; The Mirror Scroll’d From Side To Side

(1) WRITER PROMOTIONAL TOOLS MAY BE INTERRUPTED. K. Tempest Bradford draws attention to this news:

(2) HERE’S YOUR CHANCE. Publishers Weekly has put out a “Call for Info: SF, Fantasy & Horror (Adult) “ seeking pitches on sffh themes.

Deadline: Feb. 17. Issue: Apr. 17. For this feature, we’d like to speak with authors about creating non-human characters and cultures—aliens, monsters, A.I., and more. We’re also interested in romantic fantasy, Gothic horror, and class conscious, “eat the rich,” near-future SF. Pitches on other SFFH themes are welcome; please limit these to standalone titles and first-in-series books. Pub dates: Apr.–Sept. Adult books and new titles only, please; no reprints. Submission deadline: Feb. 17. Visit publishersweekly.com/ SFFHspring23 to submit your titles

(3) NOT JUST ANY BOT. Martha Wells guests on the If This Goes On (Don’t Panic) podcast. The next Murderbot book, System Collapse, will be released November 14. See the cover here.

In this episode, Alan and Diane chat with author, Martha Wells, about Neurodiversity, writing action scenes, the origins of ART (the sentient spaceship), developing humor in writing, and Martha’s new book.

(4) HARD SCIENCE. Jack Dann will be giving a talk for the Tucson Hard-Science SF Channel about the craft of writing, which will include what he calls “The Keys to the Kingdom” and “Writing As Cartography”. He says, “Basically, this will be a craft-based Jack Dann schmooze session relating to the insane joys and anxieties of becoming a writer and (Heaven forfend!) being a writer.” You’ll be able to find it here on YouTube on February 4 8:00 p.m. Eastern.

(5) OCTOTHORPE. In episode 76, the Octothorpe crew ask “Does It Matter What We Think?”

John Coxon is watching movies, Alison Scott is making games, and Liz Batty isn’t picky. The three of us celebrate Groundhog Day by talking about the Chengdu Worldcon again, and again, and again…  

(6) WITNESSES TO FANHISTORY. Fanac.org has several more “FanHistory Project Zoom Sessions” scheduled in the months to come. Everyone who wants access should write to [email protected] to be put on the attendance list.

Schedule for Future sessions

  • February 11, 2023 – 4PM EST, 1PM PST, 9PM GMT London, Sunday the 12th at 8AM in Melbourne, AU – New York Fandom in the 70s with Moshe Feder, Andy Porter, Steve Rosenstein and Jerry Kaufman
  • March 18, 2023 – 4PM EDT, 3PM CDT, 1PM PDT, 8PM London, March 19 at 7AM in Melbourne, AU – Feminism in 1970s Fandom, with Janice Bogstad, Jeanne Gomoll, and Lucy Huntzinger
  • April 22, 2023 – 7PM EDT, 4PM PDT, April 23 at 12AM in London, 9AM in Melbourne AU – Wrong Turns on the Wallaby Track Part 2, with Leigh Edmonds and Perry Middlemiss

(7) EVERGREEN. Gary Farber pointed out the timeless timeliness of John Scalzi’s 2017 post “The Brain Eater” which deals with writers whose careers hit a flat trajectory and makes them easy to convince that somebody (not them) is to blame.

(8) BEGIN AS YOU INTEND TO GO ALONG. Slashfilm recommends these as “The 14 Greatest Opening Scenes In Sci-Fi Movies”. This favorite is on the list – but not as the final entry.

The Terminator

Okay, I know what you’re thinking. Why would anyone choose the intro to “The Terminator” over the opening battle in “Terminator 2: Judgement Day”? After all, “T2” has that famous shot of the T-800 stomping a human skull, better VFX, more action, and a smoldering, scarred John Connor (Michael Edwards) watching over it all. Is the original’s first scene really better than that?

The answer, of course, is yes, and it all comes down to tone. Sure, the “T2” scene is fun, and it does a decent job of introducing the myth of John Connor. However, at the end of the day it’s little more than an action scene. By contrast, the “Terminator” opening is exactly as bleak as the concept of the Future War demands. There’s no epic battle here, no heroic stand against the machines — only the charred rubble of Los Angeles, a sea of skulls, and a single, desperate soldier fleeing from the lights of the HK-tanks.  More extermination than war, this scene establishes the rest of the movie’s hopeless tone.

The opening of “The Terminator” is then rounded off by what must surely be the greatest piece of expository text in the history of cinema: “The machines rose from the ashes of the nuclear fire. Their war to exterminate mankind had raged for decades, but the final battle would not be fought in the future. It would be fought here, in our present. Tonight …” How’s that for setting the scene?

(9) MEMORY LANE.

1952 [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

Our next Beginnings comes from Lis Carey who says C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, has the “best opening line ever” and she thinks “the rest of the paragraph lives up to it, but I’m not moving right now”. Fortunately it was easy to retrieve from Kindle. 

This is the novel’s seventy-first anniversary as it was published in the United Kingdom by Geoffrey Bles in 1952.  It is the third of seven novels in The Chronicles of Narnia series. 

Like the other novels, it was illustrated by Pauline Baynes, and her work has been retained in many later editions.

THERE WAS A BOY CALLED EUSTACE Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it. His parents called him Eustace Clarence and masters called him Scrubb. I can’t tell you how his friends spoke to him, for he had none. He didn’t call his Father and Mother “Father” and “Mother,” but Harold and Alberta. They were very up-to-date and advanced people. They were vegetarians, non-smokers and teetotalers and wore a special kind of underclothes. In their house there was very little furniture and very few clothes on beds and the windows were always open. Eustace Clarence liked animals, especially beetles, if they were dead and pinned on a card. He liked books if they were books of information and had pictures of grain elevators or of fat foreign children doing exercises in model schools.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born February 2, 1933 Tony Jay. Ok I mostly remember him as Paracelsus in the superb Beauty and the Beast series even it turns out he was only in a handful of episodes. Other genre endeavors include, and this is lest OGH strangle me only the Choice Bits, included voicing The Supreme Being In Time Bandits, an appearance on Star Trek: The Next Generation as Third Minister Campio In “Cost of Living”, being in The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. (and yes I loved the series) as Judge Silot Gato in “Brisco for the Defense” and Dougie Milford In Twin Peaks. (Died 2006.)
  • Born February 2, 1940 Thomas DischCamp ConcentrationThe Genocides334 and On Wings of Song are among the best New Wave novels ever done.  He was a superb poet as well, though I don’t think any of it was germane to our community. He won the Related Book Hugo for The Dreams Our Stuff Is Made Of at Aussiecon 3, a critical but loving look on the impact of SF on our culture, and was nominated for a number of other Hugos for his short fiction. (Died 2008.)
  • Born February 2, 1944 Geoffrey Hughes. He played Popplewick aka The Valeyard in the Fifth Doctor story, “The Trial of The Time Lord”. Intriguingly he was also the voice of Paul McCartney in Yellow Submarine which surely is genre.  And he as Harper in Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased)’s “Somebody Just Walked Over My Grave” episode. (Died 2012.)
  • Born February 2, 1947 Farrah Fawcett. She has a reasonably good SFF resume and she‘s been in Logan’s Run as Holly 13, and Saturn 3 as Alex. (Does anyone like that film?) She was also Mary Ann Pringle in Myra Breckinridge which might I suppose be considered at least genre adjacent. Or not.  Series wise, she shows up on I Dream of Jeanie as Cindy Tina, has three different roles on The Six Million Man, and was Miss Preem Lila on two episodes of The Flying Nun.  Well, she does fly. (Died 2009.)
  • Born February 2, 1949 Jack McGee, 74. Ok so how many of us remember him as Doc Kreuger on the Space Rangers series? Six episodes all told. Not as short as The Nightmare Cafe I grant you but pretty short. I’ve also got him as Bronto Crane Examiner in The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas, as a Deputy in Stardust, Mike Lutz in seaQuest, Doug Perren in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and a Police Officer Person of Interest, to name some of his genre roles.
  • Born February 2, 1949 Brent Spiner, 74. Data on more Trek shows and films than I’ll bother listing here. I’ll leave it up to all of you to list your favorite moments of him as Data. He also played Dr. Brackish Okun in Independence Day, a role he reprised in Independence Day: Resurgence. He also played Dr. Arik Soong/Lt. Commander Data in four episodes of Enterprise. Over the years, he’s had roles in Twilight Zone, Outer LimitsTales from the DarksideGargoylesYoung JusticeThe Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest HeroesWarehouse 13 and had a lead role in the thirteen-episode run of Threshold
  • Born February 2, 1986 Gemma Arterton, 37. She’s best known for playing Io in Clash of the Titans, Princess Tamina in Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, Strawberry Fields in Quantum of Solace, and as Gretel in Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters. She also voiced Clover in the current Watership Down series.  Really? Strawberry Fields? That original to the Fleming novel? 

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) BUTTERWORTH POETRY COLLECTION. Tomorrow, February 3, Space Cowboy Books launches Michael Butterworth Complete Poems 1965-2020.

For more than fifty years Michael Butterworth, better known for his work as a writer, editor and publisher, has also been a quiet unobtrusive voice in poetry, with roots lying both in the small press poetry journals of the sixties and seventies and in New Wave of Science Fiction. His work is distinguished as much for the restless intelligence, wit and intimacy of his voice as a determination, shown in many of these poems, to paint metaphorical pictures of the perils we face due to our poor regard for the fragile biosphere in which we live. In other poems, he finds, within the events of an ordinary life, scope for the transcendent, and in still others his use of nonsense and absurdity playfully captures the moment, puncturing the illusions of the self. Across his work, elements are reiterated but endlessly transfigured –

The effect is at once familiar and yet profound, in language that has the confessional qualities and simplicity of early influences such as Sylvia Plath and the Beats, and the later influence of Zen poets such as Ryōkan. Occasionally the writing is startlingly radical – a reminder of the poet’s beginnings in the New Wave.

A collection such as this one from Space Cowboy Books is overdue, and Complete Poems: 1965-2020 brings to more deserving attention a less heard voice in modern poetry.

(13) PENNYWORTH DROPPED. “’Pennyworth’ Canceled After Three Seasons at HBO Max” reports Variety.

…The third season, officially titled “Pennyworth: The Origin of Batman’s Butler,” was the first season of the show to originate on HBO Max. The series originally debuted on Epix in 2019, with Season 2 airing on that channel in two chunks in 2020 and 2021. Season 3 launched on HBO Max in October 2022.

“While HBO Max is not moving forward with another season of ‘Pennyworth: The Origin of Batman’s Butler,’ we are very thankful to creator Bruno Heller and executive producers Matthew Patnick, Danny Cannon and John Stephens, along with Warner Bros. Television, for their brilliant, unique, gripping depiction of the origin of Alfred Pennyworth, one of the most iconic characters in the Batman world,” an HBO Max spokesperson said in a statement…. 

(14) I LOVE YOU. Entertainment Weekly made sure we heard that the “Valentine’s Day 2023 New Star Wars Funko Pops Have Arrived”. Use them when “I know” isn’t a sufficient answer.

… Whether this will be your first time buying Valentine’s Day-specific Star Wars Funko Pops or if you started collecting the special holiday Funko Pops last year and are looking to build up your collection, these figures are the perfect way to add a pop of romantic hues and swoon-worthy sci-fi charm to any room. There’s a Kylo Ren, Rey, BB-8, and Princess Leia figure, and each figure is entirely red, white, and pink and costs around $13….

(15) RANSOM TRILOGY DISCUSSED. The Pints with Jack podcast presents “’After Hours’ with Dr. Diana Glyer”.

Dr. Glyer returns to the show to speak in more detail about the book she edited, A Compass for Deep Heaven: Navigating the C. S. Lewis Ransom Trilogy.

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, Joe Siclari, Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day by Andrew (not Werdna).]

Pixel Scroll 1/22/23 Look At My Fingers: Four Pixels, Four Scrolls. Zero Pixels, Zero Scrolls!

(1) SPLATTERPUNK AWARDS DEADLINE RESET. Brian Keene and Wrath James White announced on Facebook that they have extended until January 29 the last date that readers can recommend eligible works at [email protected].

…Given that readers sent in recommendations ALL YEAR LONG, we assumed the community was aware.

Obviously, we were wrong about that. And we apologize for that. We would like to assure authors who expressed disappointment about this that there were indeed recommendations already made. And that is a very good thing. Six years into this process, that’s exactly what the community needs to see — that readers are recommending your work without you reminding them or drawing it to their attention.

To further address the communities concerns, Wrath and I have decided to pause the tallying process and reopen the nominations for another 7 days. We will accept recommendations for WORKS PUBLISHED IN 2022 until midnight on Sunday, January 29th. That way, everyone who has expressed concerns has the opportunity to inform their readers and fans.

So, again… the process has been extended to next Sunday. Email your recommendations to [email protected] After next Sunday, we will then again be accepting recs for works published in 2023.

Our apologies for any stress or duress this may have caused, and our appreciation to those who expressed their concerns in good faith….

(2) MERRIL CENTENARY. [Item by Olav Rokne.] Toronto Public Library (which IIRC is actually the largest library system in North America?) posted a celebration of Judith Merril yesterday to mark her centennial. “100 Years of Judith Merril, Science Fiction Writer and Editor” at The Buzz…About Books.

… At the same time that Merril was publishing novels, she was getting more involved in editorial and review work. This book collects and reflects upon Merril’s editorial and non-fiction work. In particular, “her twelve Year’s Best anthologies, her thirty-eight ‘Books’ columns from F&SF, and three particularly important essays.” These works were originally published between 1956 and 1969. This period marks Merril’s shift from authorship to her editorial career.

To support her daughter Ann, who created artwork and posters in support of Eugene McCarthy, Judith Merril attended the Democratic National Convention in Chicago in 1968. Tensions were high due to the Vietnam War. After Merril witnessed the police response to the anti-Vietnam War protestors, she decided that she and her family needed to leave the United States. At the convention, a copy of the Toronto Anti-Draft Manual caught Merril’s attention. She had a friend in Toronto, a mathematics professor, and with their aid moved to Canada. She legally changed her name to Judith Merril when she become a Canadian citizen….

(3) SF ON SNL. Last night’s Saturday Night Live had two genre related segments:

(4) LOTS TO MEND. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Jeremy Renner, the MCU‘s Hawkeye, is back home after his snowplow accident. The latest pic and information released by the actor shows him undergoing PT at home and letting it be known that over 30 bones were broken in the incident. “Jeremy Renner Says His ’30 Plus Broken Bones’ Will ‘Mend’ After Accident” reports People.

…The actor, 52, shared a post on Instagram Saturday morning of himself in a bed receiving what appeared to be physical therapy.

In the caption of his post, Renner wrote, “Morning workouts, resolutions all changed this particular new years …. Spawned from tragedy for my entire family, and quickly focused into uniting actionable love.”

The Mayor of Kingstown star then said that he wanted “to thank EVERYONE for their messages and thoughtfulness for my family and I …. Much love and appreciation to you all.”

“These 30 plus broken bones will mend , grow stronger, just like the love and bond with family and friends deepens,” Renner concluded. “Love and blessings to you all…”

(5) NOVELIST SEEN FROM THE INSIDE. [Item by Steven French.] Co-screen writer of Matrix Resurrections revealed to be a massive Liverpool fan! “Aleksandar Hemon: ‘A book isn’t a car – not everything has to work’” in The Guardian.

…Tell us about your work as a screenwriter.
The sovereignty of being in my head as a novelist is enjoyable but gets burdensome. Lana and David are good friends with brilliant minds different from mine and there’s relief in that: whenever I watch The Matrix Resurrections, at no point do I think: “That’s mine, I did this,” because I never did it alone. So what I get out of screenwriting – apart from the money, which is nice – is doing something with others. The traditional bourgeois concept of literature is that it’s a way to be alone; there’s a Jonathan Franzen book of essays called How to Be Alone. But I don’t want to be alone. I want to be with people….

(6) FREE READ. Sunday Morning Transport encourages subscriptions with a sample by Benjamin C. Kinney: “The Work-Clock”.

(7) SFF PUPPETRY. “‘The Immortal Jellyfish Girl’ Review: A 26th-Century Love Story” in the New York Times.  

The first time Bug and Aurelia kiss is as romantic as can be, even if Bug has to get past his initial reaction. “That really hurts,” he says. “That stings so much!” Which is what you get when smooching a part-jellyfish humanoid.

Aurelia is the title character of “The Immortal Jellyfish Girl,” though if 23andMe still exists in her postapocalyptic world, it might locate traces of kangaroo, frog, naked mole rat and other beasties in her makeup. Above all, “she is also 100 percent puppet,” as the narrator, a mischievous masked fox in shorts and red tails, informs us.

Kirjan Waage and Gwendolyn Warnock’s play, devised with help from the ensemble and presented by Wakka Wakka Productions and the Norwegian company Nordland Visual Theater at 59E59 Theaters, is indeed a puppet show, and an ambitious one at that….

(8) MEMORY LANE.

2014 [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

One of my absolutely favorite works is Seanan McGuire’s Ghost Roads series. It’s a perfect example of how excellent McGuire is as a writer with splendid, believable characters, especially Rose Marshall, the hitchhiking ghost who was a sixteen-year old prom date who never actually made it to her prom but was killed on her way there and now hitchhikes forever on America’s highways, both the real ones and the ghosts ones, a absolutely fascinating setting and a compelling story that McGuire has developed oh so very well across three novels.

(There is also three shorter pieces set here, “Good Girls go to Heaven”, “Train Yard Blues” and “The Ghosts of Bourbon Street”.) 

One of those settings is the Last Dance Diner that exists on the Ghost Roads. Of it Rose says that, “When you die on the road, if you’re lucky, a phantom rider or a hitchhiking ghost will be there, waiting, to offer you directions to the Last Dance Diner. Best malts this side of the 1950s, pie to die for, and best of all, a chance to rest, for just a little while, before moving on . . . and everyone moves on, in the end.”

So the quote I’ve chosen is from the first novel of the series, Sparrow Hill Road, and concerns that Diner:  

They have good beer here, these routewitches do, and their grill is properly aged, old grease caught in the corners, the drippings of a hundred thousand steaks and bacon breakfasts and cheeseburgers scraped from a can and used to slick it down before anything starts cooking. The plate they bring me groans under a triple-decker cheeseburger and a pile of golden fries that smell like summer nights and stolen kisses—and they smell, even before the platter hits the table.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 22, 1858 Charles H. M. Kerr. He’s best remembered for illustrating the pulp novels of H. Rider Haggard. Some of his other genre-specific work includes the Andrew Lang-edited The True Story Book, Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Wrong Boxand Arthur Conan Doyle‘s  “The Sign of the Four”. You can see the one of the H. Rider Haggard novels he did here. (Died 1907.)
  • Born January 22, 1906 Robert E. Howard. He’s best remembered for his characters Conan the Barbarian and Solomon Kane, less so for Kull, and is widely regarded as the father of the sword and sorcery subgenre. His Cthulhu mythos stories are quite good. I believe all of these were publish in Weird Tales.  If you’re interested in reading him on your slate, you’re in luck as all the usual suspects are deep stockers of him at very reasonable prices. (Died 1936.)
  • Born January 22, 1925 Katherine MacLean. She received a Nebula Award for “The Missing Man” novella originally published in Analog in 1971. She was a Professional Guest of Honor at the first WisCon. Short fiction was her forte and her two collections, The Diploids and Other Flights of Fancy and The Trouble with You Earth People, are brilliant. I can’t speak to her three novels, all written in the Seventies and now out of print, only Missing Man is available from the usual suspects, and I’ve not read it. (Died 2019.)
  • Born January 22, 1934 Bill Bixby. Principal casting in several genre series, first in My Favorite Martian as Tim O’Hara, a young newspaper reporter for the LA Sun who discovers that alien, and then as Dr. David Banner in The Incredible Hulk seriesand in both The Incredible Hulk Returns and The Death of the Incredible Hulk films.  He shows up in a number of other genre series including Fantasy IslandTales of the UnexpectedNight GalleryThe Ghost & Mrs. Muir and The Twilight Zone (original version). He also had the lead as Anthony Blake / Anthony Dorian in The Magician series but as he was a stage illusionist, I couldn’t count it as genre… (Died 1993.)
  • Born January 22, 1940 John Hurt. I rarely grieve over the death of one individual, but damn it I really liked him. It’s rare that someone comes along like Hurt who is both talented and is genuinely good person that’s easy to like. If we count his role as Tom Rawlings in The Ghoul, Hurt had an almost fifty-year span in genre films and series. He next did voice work in The Lord of the Rings (1978) as the voice of Aragorn, and later voiced General Woundwort in seven episodes of the Watership Down TV series.. He appeared as Kane, the first victim, in Alien (and had a cameo in Spaceballs parodying that performance.) Though not genre, I must comment his role as Joseph Merrick in The Elephant Man — simply remarkable. He had the lead as Winston Smith in 1984. He narrates Roger Corman’s Frankenstein Unbound and will later be one of two of the narrators of Jim Henson’s The Storyteller. That role is simply magnificent. Ok, I’m just at 1994. He’s about to be S.R. Hadden in Contact. Did you remember he played Garrick Ollivander in Harry Potter films? You certainly remember him as Trevor Bruttenholm in the Hellboy films, all four of them in total. He’s in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull asDr. Harold Oxley, one of the few decent things about that film. Series wise, he’s been around. I’ve got him in Spectre, a Roddenberry occult detective pilot that I’ve not seen. On the Merlin live action series, he provides the voice of the Great Dragon. It’s an amazing role for him. And fitting that he’s a dragon, isn’t it? And of course, he played The War Doctor. It, despite the brevity of the screen time, was a role that he seemed destined to play. Oh, for an entire series of stories about his Doctor! Big Finish, the audiobook company, had the singular honor of having him flesh out his character in a series of stories that he did with them just before his death. I’ve heard some, they’re quite remarkable.  If I’ve missed anything about him that you feel I should’ve touched upon, do tell me. (Died 2017.)
  • Born January 22, 1965 Diane Lane, 58. I’ve got her as Ellen Aim in Streets of Fire which I count as genre. She’s Chief Judge Barbara Hershey in Judge Dredd, a film I’ll freely admit that I actually like because it catches the pop culture feel of the 2000 A.D. comics in a way the second film doesn’t. Next up for her is playing Mary Rice in Jumper. She’s been playing Martha Kent in the DC Universe films as of late.
  • Born January 22, 1969 Olivia d’Abo, 54. She makes the Birthday Honors list for being Amanda Rogers, a female Q, in the “True Q” episode on Next Generation. Setting that gig aside, she’s got a long and extensive SFF series history. Conan the DestroyerBeyond the StarsAsterix Conquers AmericaTarzan & Jane and Justice League Doom are some of her film work, while her series work includes Fantasy IslandBatman BeyondTwilight Zone, Eureka and Star Wars: The Clone Wars.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • The Argyle Sweater was recommended by Rich Lynch because he thinks John Hertz will love it. Maybe you will, too?
  • Marmaduke keeps watching the skies – and it pays off!

(11) I’M SORRY, I’LL READ THAT AGAIN. Brian Keene says the says in his weekly Substack he’s been sorting through his and J.F. Gonzalez’s archives for things that will go to the University of Pittsburgh. In the middle of a paragraph this line caught my eye:

…There are some gems among the correspondence — letters between Richard Laymon and myself, letters between Robert Bloch and Jesus….

Well, Jesus was Gonzalez’s first name. But I knew Robert Bloch and for a moment I flashed on what seemed an unexpected discovery from his fertile imagination.

(12) DISNEY’S STAR WARS PLANS IN TROUBLE? [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Some aspects of Disney’s acquisition of Star Wars IP are working out great for them; others not so much. Because of underwhelming box office for several films, the concept of theatrical release for a movie a year has faltered. Partially counterbalancing that, the small screen Star Wars series on Disney+ have proved a buffer. 

Star Wars theme park attractions seem to be doing great business, but it now develops that the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser theme hotel—where 2-night immersive experiences start at mid-four-figures—will be sitting empty part of the time. Disney has canceled several “voyages“ in July, August, and September. People who had already booked for those dates have been offered a 50% discount if they will accept a different date.

TheStreet.com has the full story. “Disney’s Huge Star Wars Bet May Be in Big Trouble”.

… “A number of our readers have also noticed Facebook posts which advertise the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser and include lesser known characters. There appear to be quite a few “absolutely loved this” posts from people claiming they were guests on the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser which if you look at their profiles have no info at all, no town, school, or jobs. This leads us to question their authenticity,” Theme Park Tourist alleged.

Overall, the cancellations are more troubling than potential fake reviews. It’s possible that Disney built an attraction with tremendous appeal, but a limited audience due to price and little reason for people to visit more than once. You can take your family on a Disney Cruise for 7 nights for less than what Galactic Starcruiser costs and that’s a lot easier to justify than a two-day trip.

(13) CLEANING UP AROUND THE HOUSE. Get your Digital Dishcloth: “May Godzilla Destroy This Home Last”.

PROTECTION FROM A GIANT LIZARD – This house blessing towel will definitely keep Godzilla from destroying your or your friend’s house! And not only that, it is also the perfect home decor for all lo

(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] The genie makes it genre. The cat makes it perfect (???) for File 770. “Ryan George Compilation Part 1”.

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Steven French, Rich Lynch, Olav Rokne, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jamoche.]

Pixel Scroll 12/30/22 Please State The Nature Of Your Pixel Emergency

(1) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites listeners to take a seat at the table in Little Italy with Al Milgrom in Episode 188 of his Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Al Milgrom

Al Milgrom was the artist for my ’70s run on Captain Marvel, and therefore the co-creator of Dr. Minn-Erva, portrayed by Gemma Chan in the Captain Marvel movie. But Al’s so much more than Captain Marvel.

He edited The Incredible Hulk, drew The Avengers, and both wrote and drew Spectacular Spider-Man. During his early days in comics, he lived in the same Queens apartment building as Howard Chaykin, Walter Simonson, and Bernie Wrightson. His career at Marvel lasted far longer than mine, for he was the inker of X-Factor for eight years (1989–1997) and edited Marvel Fanfare for its full 10-year run (1982–1992). But his impact wasn’t limited to Marvel, as over at DC, he co-created Firestorm with previous guest of the podcast Gerry Conway. He also worked at nearly every existing comics company during his career, including Archie, Dark Horse, Image, Star Reach, Warren, and more.

We discussed our time working together on ’70s Captain Marvel, how he responded when Gerry Conway asked him to provide cover sketches for Jack Kirby, his memories of meeting Jim Starlin in middle school (and what Joe Orlando said about the duo when they brought their portfolios up to DC Comics), what he learned working as a backgrounder for the legendary Murphy Anderson, the day Marie Severin and Roy Thomas sent him on a wild motorcycle ride to track down Rick Buckler, how the artists on Marvel’s softball team always played better than the writers, why (and how) he works best under pressure, how he became a triple threat writer/artist/editor, the conflicting advice Joe Orlando gave him about his DC Comics covers, what not to talk about with Steve Ditko, how Jim Shooter got him to edit at Marvel, and much more.

(2) 1960 TAFF TRIP REPORT. TAFF Baedeker by Don Ford is the latest addition to the Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund’s library of free downloads. And if you enjoy the book, a donation to TAFF is a fine way to express your appreciation.

Don Ford (1921-1965) was the founding US administrator of the TransAtlantic Fan Fund and also won the 1960 eastbound race held in 1959, with rival candidates Terry Carr – a later winner in 1965 – and Bjo Trimble. He attended the 1960 Eastercon in London, played tourist and visited UK fans in London, Cheltenham and Liverpool, and made a side trip to Paris. His trip report TAFF Baedeker was published promptly in two sections, 1960 and 1961. It includes sidelight contributions from several British fans who gave their own accounts of the TAFF winner’s adventures: Norman Ashfield, Ken Bulmer, Ted Carnell, Bill Gray, Roberta Gray (née Wild), Eric Jones, Ella Parker, John Roles and Norman Shorrock.

Ansible Editions ebook officially released at the TAFF site on 1 January 2023. Cover artwork by Arthur Thomson (Atom) from section two (1961) of the original report, reflecting the fact that Don Ford was not only an enthusiastic cameraman but conspicuously tall at six and a half feet. 34,000 words with introduction and notes.

(3) FUTURE TENSE. The December 2022 entry in the Future Tense Fiction series, published on December 24m is “A Lion Roars in Longyearbyen,” a story by Margrét Helgadóttir about a holiday parade, a hunter, a zoo full of lab-grown animals, and a missing lion.

Electricity was rationed at night in Longyearbyen, yet a few lights blinked stubbornly over the empty streets. Automated trash collectors alternated from side to side. One of them paused, as if sensing the tall man’s presence, then buzzed on, sucking up glittering confetti from the frozen ground….

It was published along with a response essay, “Extinction, de-extinction, and the dawn of the synthetic age” by environmental philosopher Christopher Preston.

…Environmental philosophers coined the term “biotic artifact” four decades ago. At the time, it referred to the sheep and cattle whose carefully manufactured temperaments, plump haunches, and passivity in the company of humans made them suitable objects for commodification. Upon earning the label “domestic,” they simultaneously became subjects of greater care and objects of diminished dignity compared with their wild counterparts.

Biotic artifacts were popular from the start. Wild animals suffered in the face of a hundred centuries of growth in domestic livestock. Today, 96 percent of mammalian biomass is humans and domesticated animals. This means 24 times the weight of all the lions, whales, and musk-ox combined are creatures who spend their lives in pens, fields, factories, and other manufactured spaces. The remaining 4 percent of wild, mammalian life accrues rarity value by default….

(4) SITZMARKS. Like in the game of musical chairs, some of the thrones are being removed: “George R. R. Martin Says Future ‘Game of Thrones’ Projects Have Been ‘Impacted’ by HBO Max Changes”Variety has the story.

Even future “Game of Thrones” spinoffs may not be safe from the ongoing changes at HBO Max, according to George R. R. Martin.

In a blog post on Wednesday, the author wrote that some of his planned shows in the “Game of Thrones” universe have been “shelved” at the streamer. After HBO parent company WarnerMedia merged with Discovery in April, HBO Max’s content slate has been growing thinner to cut costs, contributing to the cancellation of shows like “Love Life,” “Minx” and “FBoy Island.”

Though “Game of Thrones” prequel “House of the Dragon” had the biggest season finale HBO has seen since that of the original series and has been renewed for Season 2, Martin wrote that other projects in development aren’t as set in stone.

“Some of those are moving faster than others, as is always the case with development,” Martin wrote. “None have been greenlit yet, though we are hoping… maybe soon. A couple have been shelved, but I would not agree that they are dead. You can take something off the shelf as easily as you can put it on the shelf. All the changes at HBO Max have impacted us, certainly.”

While Martin did not specify which projects have been shelved, there are at least six projects that have been reported to be in development, including prequel series “Tales of Dunk and Egg,” the Princess Nymeria-centered “10,000 Ships” and a Jon Snow spinoff in which Kit Harington is attached to star….

(5) ZINE DIGITAL PRESERVATION. The Fanac.org Fan History project closed the year with this report on Facebook.

This is most likely our last update of the year. We have over 19,450 fanzines digitally archived and approx 23,000 publications total. Our APA Mailing view is growing as we go back and annotate our fanzine index pages, with 924 fanzines so far shown in their FAPA mailings (in context, sort of). Fancyclopedia is growing, the YouTube channel has topped 150K views, and the fannish community is continuing to provide scans and information to make the Fan History project better. Thank you all! Happy New Year.

(6) YEAR-END RECOMMENDATIONS. Fans of comics and graphic novels can make sure they caught ‘em all by consulting the New York Public Library Best New Comics of 2022 for Adults list and the American Library Association Best Graphic Novels for Adults Reading List – 2022 Nominations.

(7) READYING THE WELCOME MAT. BBC Radio 4’s nonfiction program about prospects for ”First Contact” is available for online listening or downloading.

For thousands of years we have gazed up at the stars and wondered: is anybody out there? The idea of meeting aliens has been the inspiration for countless books and films; for art and music. But today, thinking about meeting life on, or from, other planets is no longer dismissed as pure make-believe – it’s the focus of political consideration and cutting-edge space science. Farrah Jarral presents the story of the fantasy and the reality of preparing for first contact with extra-terrestrials.

(8) CHRISTOPHER TUCKER (1941-2022). Christopher Tucker, the makeup artist who created John Hurt’s prosthetics for The Elephant Man and Michael Crawford’s mask in The Phantom of the Opera, died December 14. The Guardian noted many other genre credits as well,

Tucker received official recognition from the UK film world when Bafta made its first presentation of a best makeup award in 1983. The honour went to him, along with Sarah Monzani and Michèle Burke, for their work on the 1981 Canadian-French film La Guerre du Feu (Quest for Fire), a prehistoric fantasy. It included making dentures to snap on over the actors’ own teeth. “Primitive man’s teeth were rather different to modern teeth,” Tucker observed.

…He received other Bafta nominations, for best makeup and best special visual effects, for the 1984 gothic horror film The Company of Wolves. His tasks included transforming the actor Stephen Rea into a wolf as he clutches his face and rips off his own skin – a deliberately laboured and bitingly realistic scene with muscles expanding and contracting – as well as creating wolves bursting out of the mouths of characters.

….[He] designed the face of the obese bon vivant Mr Creosote, one of the characters played by Terry Jones in the 1983 Monty Python film The Meaning of Life. He also made masks for David Niven in Old Dracula (1974), Gregory Peck and Laurence Olivier in The Boys from Brazil (1978), Angela Lansbury in The Company of Wolves, and Daryl Hannah in High Spirits (1988).

Tucker was on the team that brought to life the Mos Eisley cantina bar scene, featuring various alien races, early in the first Star Wars film (1977, later retitled Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope). The humanoid Ponda Baba and a giant praying mantis were his creations….

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 30, 1865 Rudyard Kipling. Yea, Kipling. I didn’t do him last year and he’s written enough of a genre nature such as the Just So Stories for Little Children stories like “How the Camel Got Hump“ and “The Cat that Walked By Himself“ being wonderful stories with a soupçon of the fantastic in them that I should’ve of done so. Or there’s always The Jungle Book, which run to far more stories than I thought. Yes, he was an unapologetic Empire-loving writer who expressed that more than once but he was a great writer. (Died 1936.)
  • Born December 30, 1922 Jane Langton. Author of the Hall Family Chronicles series which is definitely SFF in nature having both fantasy and SF elements in these charming tales for children. The eight books herein are mostly not from the usual suspects though Kindle has the final novel but the Homer Kelly mysteries which both Fantastic Fiction and ISFDB list as genre or genre-adjacent are partially available. (Died 2018.)
  • Born December 30, 1945 Concetta Tomei, 77. Was Dominique, co-proprietor of Big Time TV along with Blank Reg, on the Max Headroom series which I loved. She had guest appearances on Star Trek: Voyager as Minister Odala in the “Distant Origin” episode as well was in the Deep Impact film.
  • Born December 30, 1950 Lewis Shiner, 72. Damn, his Deserted Cities of the Heart novel was frelling brilliant! And if you’ve not read his Wild Cards fiction, do so now. He also co-wrote with Bob Wayne the eight-issue Time Masters series starring Rip Hunter which I see is on the DC Universe app. Yea! Anyone that’s read the Private Eye Action As You Like It collection of PI stories I see listed on Kindle with Joe Lansdale?  It looks interesting. 
  • Born December 30, 1951 Avedon Carol, 71. She was the 1983 winner of the Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund to Albacon II in Glasgow, and she was GOH at Wiscon II along with Connie Willis and Samuel R. Delany. She has been nominated for three Hugos as Best Fan Writer. She’s been involved in thirty apas and fanzines according to Fancyclopedia 3.
  • Born December 30, 1952 Somtow Sucharitkul, 70. AKA S. P. Somtow. A Thai-American musical composer. He’s also a science fiction, fantasy, and horror author writing in English. He’s been nominated for two Hugos, first at Chicon IV for his short story, “Absent Thee from Felicity Awhile…” and second at ConStellation for his “Aquila” novellette.  He did win a World FantasyAward for “The Bird Catcher“ novella.
  • Born December 30, 1959 Douglas Anderson, 63. The Annotated Hobbit, for which he won the Mythopoeic Award, is one of my favorite popcorn readings. I’m also fond of his Tales Before Narnia: The Roots of Modern Fantasy and Science Fiction which has a lot of great short fiction it, and I recommend his blog Tolkien and Fantasy as it’s one of the better ones on fantasy literature out there. Today he’s talking about Clark Ashton Smith.
  • Born December 30, 1971 Eugie Foster. She was nominated for a Hugo at Aussiecon 4 for one of the most wonderfully titled novelettes I’ve ever heard of, “Sinner, Baker, Fabulist, Priest; Red Mask, Black Mask, Gentleman, Beast”. It won a Nebula and was nominated for a BSFA as well. I’ve not read it, who here has read it? She was managing editor for Tangent Online and The Fix.  She was also a director for Dragon Con and edited their onsite newsletter, the Daily Dragon. (Died 2014.)
  • Born December 30, 1976 Rhianna Pratchett, 46. Daughter of Terry who now runs the intellectual property concerns of her father. She herself is a video game writer including the recent Tomb Raider reboot. For her father, she’s overseen and been involved several years back in The Shepherd’s Crown, the last Discworld novel, to print. She was also with Simon Allen the writer of The Watch, the Beeb’s Ankh-Morpork City Watch series. She’s a co-director of Narrativia Limited, a production company which holds exclusive multimedia and merchandising rights to her father’s works following his death. They, of course, helped develop the Good Omens series on Amazon.

(10) A WRITER LOOKS AT HIS PROSE IN THE MIRROR. “Outside the Human Aquarium: Clark Ashton Smith on Art and Life” at Douglas Anderson’s Tolkien and Fantasy blog includes this self-analysis from a 1932 letter by Clark Ashton Smith:

…To the best of my belief, the style in which I write is a perfectly natural mode of utterance for me, and is not affected. My approach to literature is primarily artistic, poetic, esthetic, and for this reason I like the full-hued and somewhat rhythmic type of prose. For many years, I wrote only verse (I have published three volumes of it); and I have always had a prejudice in favor of what is called “the grand manner.” I have also made many paintings and drawings, of a fantastic type; and this pictorial trend has probably influenced my story-writing too. Perhaps, in some case, it has led me to an overuse of adjectives in the effort to achieve a full and vivid vizualization, or rendering of atmosphere….

(11) OSCAR ANTICIPATION. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] The Hollywood Reporter writer Scott Feinberg handicaps upcoming Oscar nominations in each category by grouping films/auteurs/actors/works into three categories: Frontrunners, Major Threats, and Possibilities. “Feinberg Forecast: Last Snapshot of the Oscar Race Before the New Year”.

One of the few categories where genre performances are running strong is —

*BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS*

Frontrunners
Angela Bassett (Black Panther: Wakanda Forever)
Dolly de Leon (Triangle of Sadness)
Jamie Lee Curtis (Everything Everywhere All at Once)
Stephanie Hsu (Everything Everywhere All at Once)
Janelle Monáe (Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery)

(12) LO, NO NOTE TO FOLLOW SO. From Variety we learned that “‘Solo 2’ Is Entirely Fan-Driven, Because a Sequel Is Not a ‘Lucasfilm Priority,’ Says Ron Howard”.

Ron Howard’s “Star Wars” prequel movie “Solo” was supposed to launch a new sector of storytelling for the long-running franchise. Young iterations of Han Solo (Alden Ehrenreich) and Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover) were introduced and intended for sequels and spinoffs, while the 2018 film also revealed that Darth Maul was still alive. None of these plot threads have continued as “Solo” bombed at the box office with just $392 million worldwide, barely making a profit for Disney.

Speaking to NME in a recent interview, Howard said that any talks of a “Solo” sequel are coming only from fans and not Lucasfilm itself. In other words, “Solo 2” is still dead.

…Howard added, “But there’s some great characters launched, and the folks from Lucasfilm love the fans and really do listen so I would never say never — but I’m not aware of any concrete plans right now to extend the story or deal with that particular set of characters.”…

(13) NYCON 3 SITE MEETS FATE. [Item by Andrew Porter.] Building being torn down is the Hotel Pennsylvania, formerly the Statler-Hilton, site of 1967 World SF Convention, many Star Trek, SF, comics conventions, even a Nebula banquet. “Demolition Progresses for 1,200-Foot PENN15 at 15 Penn Plaza in Midtown, Manhattan” at New York YIMBY.

…Since our last update in June, the entirety of Hotel Pennsylvania has been enshrouded in scaffolding and the first floors have begun to be razed from the top of the structure. This upper section had a lighter stone façade with columns, window pediments, and a thick ornate cornice stretching across the roof parapet. The LED advertising boards on the corners of the Seventh Avenue elevation remain uncovered and operating as work progresses above. Demolition is expected to finish by July 2023, as noted on the construction board….

(14) TAKING DR WHO FOR GRANITE. NPR explains, “Zircon is the best timekeeper for understanding Earth’s past”.

The oldest known Earth stuff that remains on the surface of our planet is a mineral that’s been called the “Time Lord” because it’s so incredibly good at keeping geologic time.

The mineral is zircon, and scientists have found bits of it that formed 4.37 billion years ago, not too long after the proto-Earth’s epic collision with a Mars-sized object that spawned our moon.

Tiny crystals of zircon can look like sand, or useless crud. But don’t be fooled. With a radioactive tick-tock that marks the passing of billions of years, these small but mighty minerals offer us a peek into the Earth’s early development.

…In the Jack Hills region of western Australia, for example, there’s rock that formed from a beach 3 billion years ago. The oldest zircons ever discovered came from this rock.

Ackerson once found a zircon that’s 4.32 billion years old. Zircons that old “are extremely, extremely, extremely rare, and they’re the only windows we have into the earliest Earth,” he says.

These days, to know a zircon’s exact age, scientists can zap it with a laser like the one at a geochronology lab at Penn State University….

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Turner Movie Channel’s in memoriam reel “TCM Remembers 2022” includes many genre figures including Nichelle Nichols, Douglas Trumbull and Robbie Coltrane.

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

Pixel Scroll 12/7/22 Pixels: What Are They Scrolling? Are They Scrolling Anything? Let’s Find Out!

(1) 2022 #BLACKSPECFIC. FIYAH has posted the 2022 #BlackSpecFic Report, an examination of the state of representation of Black authors within the speculative short fiction market published in 2021. This report was composed by L. D. Lewis and Nelson Rolon with sponsor support from the Carl Brandon Society, Diabolical Plots, and CatStone Books.

In the report, “a market is considered “successful” with regard to its publication of Black authors if their percentages are within 2% of the U.S. census reported Black population (13.6%)” —

Highlights

  • Of the 23 pro and semipro markets examined in all 2015-2017 studies, 11 showed an increase in publishing works by Black authors relative to their respective outputs.
  • While Black editors of short speculative fiction continue to represent a small portion of the field, nearly all of the surveyed markets who host a Black owner, editor, or guest editor made the “Most Successful (without reprints)” list. And those four publications (Anathema, Fantasy Magazine, Fantasy & Science Fiction, Uncanny Magazine) are responsible for 25.4% of the entire field’s Black-authored works.

The next report is slated for 2025.

(2) AUTHORS NOT GETTING PAID. In the Guardian, Joanne Harris states “Horribly low pay is pushing out my fellow authors – and yes, that really does matter”, and goes on to spotlight how bad things are.

…We arrive at what we imagined would be the creative heart of an industry, but it turns out to be a room full of slot machines. Some of us are lucky enough to feed the right slot at the right time and hit jackpots of varying sizes. Others bring their own luck to the room – they can afford to feed the slots regardless of what they get in return. But what about everyone else? Who can honestly afford to stay?

The trouble with luck is that it is not a reliable foundation for a profession. Nor is it a reliable way to run an industry. Yet here we are.

When the ALCS first ran its survey of author incomes in 2006 it found that the median self-employed income of a full-time author was £12,330. In 2022 – a year in which multiple publishers have posted record profits while freelancers in all professions are still reeling from the impact of Covid-19, Brexit and rising living costs – the median full-time income has fallen to £7,000. That’s a drop of more than 60% when accounting for inflation.

There is also a more worrying, granular luck at play. The gender pay gap is getting worse – men earn 41% more than women (compared with 33% five years ago). Payment for Black and mixed-heritage authors is a full 51% lower than for white authors. Young authors earn less, as do older ones. Fewer authors than ever are receiving advances…

(3) LOCUS INDIEGOGO AT 82%. With 8 days to go, the Locus Magazine Indiegogo appeal has raised $61,790 of its $75,000 goal.

(4) AMAZING KICKSTARTER FALLS SHORT. Despite attracting contributions from 114 backers, the Amazing Stories Kickstarter failed reports publisher Kermit Woodall. Only $3,330 was pledged towards the $13,000 goal.

I’m afraid Amazing Stories failed to meet its Kickstarter goal.  This means the SOL SYSTEM issue won’t be coming out as planned.  Kickstarter won’t take pledge money from backers. No worries!

We do still plan to have an online convention, I can’t promise all the same writers will attend, but it will be different and possibly better! More news as that develops.

…The special SOL SYSTEM issue won’t happen.

(5) GENRE ON STRIKE. The call is out for authors and readers to join the HarperCollins picket line on December 16. (Via John Scalzi.)

(6) IN COLLABORATION. “I See, Therefore You Are: PW Talks with Robert Lanza and Nancy Kress”, a Publishers Weekly Q&A.

Scientist Lanza conveys his theory that “the universe springs from life, not the other way around” in Observer (Story Plant, Jan.), a thriller coauthored with Kress.

How did you come to develop your theory of biocentrism?

Lanza: It goes back to when I was a young boy, when I used to explore the forests of eastern Massachusetts. I was observing nature and pondering the larger existential questions, and it occurred to me that the static objective view of reality that I was being taught just wasn’t right. The Nobel Prize was just awarded just a few months ago to three gentlemen whose experiments showed that entangled particles change behavior depending on whether you look at them or not. Why? The answer is that that reality is a process that involves our consciousness.

How did this partnership begin?

Kress: Our agent put us together, because Bob, who’s published several nonfiction books on biocentrism, wanted to embody his ideas in a novel.
I was intrigued by the project from the very beginning because I have always thought that consciousness is woven into the universe. What we wanted to write together was about how these ideas might inform a possible future. And we worked until we got something we were both happy with….

(7) MEMORY LANE.

2019 [By Cat Eldridge.] Rudyard Kipling statue 

So today is we’re looking at a quite new statue, that  of Rudyard Kipling which unveiled in Burwash just three years ago. Kipling as you know did The Jungle Booksand The Just Stories, plus two true pieces of SF in his Aerial Board of Control series, With the Night Mail and As Easy as A.B.C.: a Tale of 2159 A.D.

The fully life-size figure which is located on High Street shows Kipling,  who lived in the village, sitting on a bench also cast in bronze. Burwash Parish Council commissioned the piece in 2018 and it was created by local sculptor Victoria Atkinson.

Atkinson researched Kipling using archives at Bateman’s,  the Jacobean house which was the home of Rudyard Kipling, and the National Portrait Gallery with the Kipling Society providing details such as Kipling’s height and hat and shoe size.  Of course she needed a live model to actually create the statue so she used one of her neighbors who wore a thick suit of the type favored by Kipling as a model to get the look and pose of Kipling right.

Oh the book underneath the bench? It’s The Just So Stories

It was actually, to keep costs down, cast in Athens, Greece.

Now comes a really cool thing. The unveiling took place on February 25, 2019. So who did the unveiling? Why it was Mike Kipling, grandson of Rudyard Kipling! 

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 7, 1915 Eli Wallach. I‘ve a fondness for anyone who appeared on the Sixties Batman series. He played Mr. Freeze in a two part story, the third actor to do as both George Sanders and Otto Preminger had done so in previous two part stories. He also had one-offs in Worlds BeyondAlfred Hitchcock PresentsVeritas: The Quest and Tales of the Unexpected. (Died 2014.)
  • Born December 7, 1923 Johnny Duncan. Was the Sixties Batman the first Batman series? You know better. Johnny here was Robin on Batman And Robin (1949) for Columbia Pictures Corporation. It ran for fifteen episodes of roughly fifteen or so minutes apiece. Robert Lowery was Wayne / Batman. He has only one other genre appearance, an uncredited one in Plan 9 from Outer Space as Second Stretcher Bearer. (Died 2016.)
  • Born December 7, 1915 Leigh Brackett. Let’s us praise her first for her Retro Hugo for Shadow Over Mars, originally published in the Fall 1944 issue of Startling Stories. Now surely her scripts for The Big Sleep and The Long Goodbye are genre adjacent? Ok, I’m stretching it, I know.  Ok, then her very pulpy Sea-Kings of Mars is? Being rhetorical there. And I love her Eric John Stark stories! (Much of these were written with her husband Edmond Hamilton.) She completed The Empire Strikes Back script for George Lucas just before she died, and although it did not become the final script many of its elements made it into the movie and she received credit along with Lawrence Kasdan. (Died 1978.)
  • Born December 7, 1945 W.D. Richter, 77. As a screenwriter, he was responsible for Invasion Of The Body Snatchers, Dracula, and Big Trouble In Little China, the latter one of my favorite popcorn films. As a director, he brought Late for Dinner and Buckaroo Banzai Across The 8th Dimension to us. He was also co-writer with Stephen King on the adaptation of King’s Needful Things novel to film.
  • Born December 7, 1949 Tom Waits, 73. He’s got uncredited (but obviously known) roles in Wolfen and The Fisher King. He is in Bram Stoker’s Dracula as R.M. Renfield, and he shows up in Mystery Men as Doc Heller and in Mr.Nick in The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. He’s simply Engineer in The Book of Eli
  • Born December 7, 1953 Madeleine E Robins, 69. I’m very fond of her Sarah Tolerance series which starts often Point of Honour, it features a female PI in an alternate version of Georgian London. The Stone War set in a post-apocalyptic NYC is quite interesting as well, and she has quite a bit short fiction, though only three have been collected so far in Lucstones: Three Tales of Meviel. Much of her fiction is available from the usual digital suspects.
  • Born December 7, 1973 Kelly Barnhill, 49. Her The Girl Who Drank the Moon novel was awarded the Newbery Medal and she was a McKnight Writing Fellow in Children’s Literature. Four years ago, her “Unlicensed Magician” novella received the World Fantasy Award for Long Fiction. Iron Hearted Violet was nominated as Andre Norton Award. 
  • Born December 8, 1979 Jennifer Carpenter, 43. Ok, usually I pay absolutely no attention to TV awards, but she got a nomination for her work as Emily Rose in The Exorcism of Emily Rose. It was the MTV Movie Award for Best Scared-As-Shit Performance. It later got renamed to Best Frightened Performance. She’s apparently only got two other genre credits, both voice work. One is as Black Widow in Avengers Confidential: Black Widow & Punisher which is a horridly-done anime film that I do not recommend; the other is as Selina Kyle aka Catwoman in Batman: Gotham by Gaslight, the animated version of the Mike Mignola Elseworld series which I strongly recommend. Possibly the Limitless series she was in is genre, possibly it isn’t…

(9) BRACKETT BIRTHDAY SUGGESTION. Bill Higgins— Beam Jockey – thinks this would be most appropriate.

(10) ENTERPRISING LAWYERS. This legal advertisement is making the rounds in social media.

Evidently the “Shaw-Louvois” firm name is appropriate for Trek because in the 1967 Original Series episode Court Martial Lt. Areel Shaw prosecutes Captain Kirk, and in ST:TNG Phillipa Louvois is a member of Starfleet’s Judge Advocate General branch who has to rule on the rights of Lt. Cmdr. Data in “The Measure of a Man.”

(11) CANCEL THOSE KILLER ROBOTS. Gizmodo reports “San Francisco Votes Down Killer Robots After Fierce Backlash”.

In a hasty retreat, San Francisco lawmakers have reversed a vote allowing local police to use remote-controlled robots equipped with lethal explosives in extreme situations. The move comes after a wave of backlash from the community and activist organizations.

San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors voted 8-3 Tuesday on a revised version of the policy, which now prohibits police from using robots to kill people. Tuesday’s vote was a surprise turn of events after the board approved the policy last week, including a clause allowing for the lethal bots. As reported by the San Francisco Chronicle, the board rarely changes its mind on second round votes, which are typically seen as formalities. However, since the first vote on Nov. 29, the policy has received a wide range of criticism both locally and nationally. Lawmakers will debate the issue for another week before voting on yet another version of the policy next week….

Cat Eldridge is skeptical: “So the Terminators lost this first skirmish against humanity. But to paraphrase Arnold‘s character in the first Terminator film, ‘They’ll be back.’” 

(12) GOOD LORD. “Figgy Pudding | SPAM® Brand”. Eh, so the main ingredient is still pork? Then shouldn’t this be Piggy Pudding?

(13) HOT DAGNABIT. Here’s an NPR segment and another article on this important topic: “Swear words across languages may have more in common than previously thought”.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

There’s a common trope in sci fi when characters curse.

RYAN MCKAY: I watched “Mork & Mindy” when I was growing up.

CHANG: That’s psychologist Ryan McKay. He’s, of course, talking about a sitcom that starred a young Robin Williams as an extraterrestrial named Mork.

MCKAY: He would often cry out shazbot when he would, you know, stub his toe or bang his head or something….

Inverse ran an article about the same study: “Scientists want to know why swear words share this one universal trait”. And unlike NPR, they didn’t bury the lede:

…Rather than present the perfect ingredients for a swear, this study identifies something that all swear words seem to lack. Across languages, swear words tend to exclude sounds like l, r, and w, known as approximants.

If you’re like me, then the first thing you did was scour your brain for exceptions to the rule (and “asshole” was the first one that came to mind, followed by “wanker”). This isn’t to say that swear words wholesale lack these phonemes, but statistically speaking, curses across different languages are less likely to contain approximants….

(14) THIRTY. Open Culture introduces “The 30 Greatest Films Ever Made: A Video Essay” by Lewis Bond from his Youtube channel The Cinema Cartography. Three genre films make Bond’s top 10.

… You may not feel exactly the same as Bond does about both My Dinner with Andre and the Lord of the Rings trilogy (a rare dual enthusiasm in any case), but seeing where he places them in relation to other movies can help to give you a sense of whether and how they could fit into your own personal canon — as well as the kind of context a film needs to earn its place…

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Via DUST, JJ Pollack’s sci-fi short film Jettison.

A restless young woman ships off to fight an interstellar war, only to struggle with the effects of being cut off from her home by both time and space.

(16) DEFINITELY NOT TODAY’S SCROLL TITLE. By Daniel Dern:

Scrollomon Grundry
Filed On Sunday
Posted On Monday
Notified On Tuesday
Clicked On Wednesday
Commented On Thursday
Fifth’ed On Friday
Stalked On Saturday
This is the lifecycle of
Scrollomon Grundy

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Daniel Dern, Soon Lee, Dann, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jim Janney.]

Pixel Scroll 11/29/22 Hush, Little Pixel, Don’t You Cry; Papa’s Going To Sing You A Scroll

(1) FUTURE TENSE. The November 2022 entry in the Future Tense Fiction series is “Universal Waste” by Palmer Holton, a story about a small-town cop, a murder, and a massive futuristic recycling operation.

It was published along with a response essay, “The Laws of Thermodynamics Will Not Bend for Landfills” by Josh Lepawsky, a researcher on pollution and waste at Memorial University in Canada.

(2) WISCON 2023. Kit Stubbs, Treasurer of SF3, WisCon’s parent not-for-profit organization, rallies everyone with the hashtag Let’s #RebuildWisCon!

WisCon 46 in 2023 is happening!
We are thrilled to announce that Gillian Sochor (she/her, G is soft like “giraffe”, Sochor like “super soaker”) is joining Lindsey and Sherry as our third co-chair. This means we are going ahead with an in-person con for 2023!…

Finances
Thanks to everyone who donated and offered matching gifts last year, we were able to cover the cost of our 2022 hotel contract. We are now looking to raise $30,000 in this year’s annual fundraiser which will allow us to do all kinds of awesome things for WisCon 46 in May 2023, including:

Offset the cost of hotel rooms for members who need to isolate due to COVID-19 and who otherwise might not be able to due to the financial burden

Purchase more high-quality air filters for con spaces and masks for members

Expand the meal voucher program, introduced last year, which enables members in need to eat for free at local restaurants

Continue to offer CART services for transcription, now that the state of Wisconsin is no longer providing funds to offset that cost

And part of that $30,000 will go towards rebuilding WisCon’s savings after last year.

If you weren’t aware, WisCon can’t pay for itself with registrations alone. We try to keep the cost of registration down to make our con as affordable as possible. But what that means is that we’re counting on the members of our community who can chip in extra to do so! Please donate today to help #RebuildWisCon!…

WisCon Member Assistance Fund
This year we’re also looking to raise $3,000 for our WisCon Member Assistance Fund! The WMAF is a specially designated fund that can only be used to provide travel grants to help members attend WisCon. Please consider making a donation via PayPal.

(3) THIS COULD BE YOUR BIG BREAK! Daniel Dern says he won’t be covering Arisia 2023, and suggests I ask another Filer would be interested in getting a press credential to attend and reporting on the convention The upcoming Arisia will be held from January 13-16, 2023, at the Westin Boston Seaport hotel. Vaccination Verification required. If you’re game, email me at mikeglyer (at) cs (dot) com and I will put you in touch with the con. 

(4) GOTHAM AWARDS. Everything Everywhere All at Once, the multiverse-spanning adventure, won Best Feature at the Gotham Awards 2022 reports Variety. And cast member Ke Huy Quan won Best Supporting Performance.   I don’t know why I’ve never heard of the Gotham Awards before, but if they keep going to sff movies I’ll be talking about them in the Scroll again.

(5) NEXT YEAR’S LOSCON. Loscon 49 will be held over Thanksgiving Weekend in 2023. The theme: “Enchanted Loscon”. Guests of Honor — Writer: Peter S. Beagle; Artist: Echo Chernik; Fan: Elayne Pelz. At the LAX Marriott Hotel from November 24-26, 2023. More information at: www.loscon.org.

(6) ZOOMIN’ ABOUT PITTSBURGH. The last FANAC Fan History Zoom of 2022 will be on December 10, about the major fannish breakout in Pittsburgh in the late Sixties and Seventies. Write to [email protected] if you want to get on the list to see it live.

(7) THE BARD IS OPEN. CrimeReads hears from Mary Robinette Kowal “On Writing a New Take on The Thin Man, Set in Space”, about the experience of creating her latest novel.

…Science fiction and fantasy, on the other hand, are driven by the aesthetic. They are about the look and feel. The sense of wonder. They don’t have an inherent plot structure. 

This means that you can map Science Fiction onto a Mystery structure easily. 

When I decided I wanted to do “The Thin Man in space,” I needed to understand the structure of the Nick and Nora movies specifically. So I began by watching all six of the films. This was a great hardship, as I’m sure you can imagine.  Here are some of the beats that are in all of the films: A happily married couple and their small dog solve crime while engaging in banter and drinking too much. Interestingly, they also contain the element that Nick does not want to investigate and Nora really wants him to.  Nick almost always gets along well with law enforcement. He has an uneasy relationship with the wealth of Nora’s family. There’s always a scene in which he goes off sleuthing on his own and carefully looks over a crime scene. More than one murder. 

From there, I started building the world of the novel. THAT is the hallmark of science-fiction and fantasy. We engage in worldbuilding in which we think about how changing an element or introducing a technology has ripple effects. For this, I knew I wanted to be on a cruise ship in space. There’s a writing workshop that my podcast, Writing Excuses, runs every year on a cruise ship. I based my ship, the ISS Lindgren on the types of things that happen on those and extrapolated for the future…. 

(8) UNDER THE HAMMER: GRRM SIGNED MSS. Heritage Auctions is taking bids the rest of the day on “George R. R. Martin. Two Signed Early Partial Manuscripts of Game of Thrones”. Bidding was up to $10,500 when last checked.

George R. R. Martin. Two Signed Early Partial Manuscripts of Game of Thrones. Includes: 1 box, 384 leaves. Typed, dated November 1994. Boldly signed on the cover page in blue sharpie. [Together with]: 3 boxes, 888 leaves. Typed, dated July 1995. Boldly signed on the cover page in blue sharpie.

Two early drafts of the first book from A Song of Ice and Fire, the hit HBO series and international phenomenon.

The impact that A Game of Thrones has had on the fantasy genre, both as a novel and a television series, is almost impossible to exaggerate. Named to the BBC list of “100 ‘most inspiring’ novels” in 2019 alongside C.S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia, Frank Herbert’s Dune, and Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea trilogy, it almost single-handedly cemented “grimdark” as a fantasy subgenre and helped inspire the likes of Joe Abercrombie and Marlon James, both masters of fantasy in their own right. The overwhelming success of the HBO show redefined fantasy for the general public and has been lauded by both authors and publishers as responsible for boosted sales in fantasy and science fiction….

…As is his typical process, Martin created five copies of each draft of Game of Thrones. Two were kept for his personal files; one was sent to his editor; a fourth was given to Texas A&M University where the archive of Martin’s oeuvre resides; and this, the fifth and final copy, was initially donated to a ConQuesT charity auction, held annually in Kansas City. Parris McBride, Martin’s wife, hoped the charity would get “a few bucks for them;” alas, no one bid on the items. They were then picked up by one of the original book researchers for A Song of Ice and Fire, and from there found their way to Heritage….

(9) AMAZING STORIES KICKSTARTER FINAL WEEK ANNOUNCEMENT. Amazing Stories is in the FINAL week of raising funds through its Kickstarter for “Amazing Stories Annual Special: SOL SYSTEM by Steve Davidson”.

Our annual special issue – Amazing Stories: SOL SYSTEM – a double-sized issue, both in digital and print, of Amazing Stories. It will be chock full of stories set in exciting futures within our solar system. The publication is set for April 2023.

We’re also planning an online convention for April 2023 to celebrate this issue as well. Most of the contributing authors will be there!

We’re really excited about this and we know you’ll love it. Backers of our Kickstarter can choose digital copies of the magazine, print copies, convention memberships, and many more bonus add-ons as well.

(10) THE WATTYS. The winners of Wattpad’s 2022 Watty Awards have posted. The Grand Prize Winner, worth $5,000, is Nichole Cava’s The Vampire Always Bites Twice.

There are also Category Award winners for Fantasy, Science Fiction, Horror, Paranormal, and Fanfiction, to name a few. The website’s format makes it hard to distinguish the shortlist and the winner – more work than I was willing to invest. If you want to try, they’re all at the link.

– Wattpad, the global entertainment company and leading webnovel platform, announced the 2022 Watty Award winners! With over 500 winners across nine languages, the 2022 Watty Awards were the biggest edition yet. This year’s USD $5,000 English-language grand prize went to Nichole Cava for The Vampire Always Bites Twice (55.1K reads), which follows a criminal necromancer and vampire private eye that unexpectedly team up to solve the case of a missing barista. 

In addition to cash prizes, 2022 Watty Award prizes included multiple publishing and entertainment adaptation opportunities from Wattpad WEBTOON Studios and the Wattpad WEBTOON Book Group. Among the more than 30,000 entries for the 2022 Watty Awards, these winning stories were selected…

(11) PYUN OBITUARY. Albert Pyun, director of Cyborg, Interstellar Civil War, Tales of an Ancient Empire,  the Saturn-winning The Sword and the Sorceror and the 1990 version of Captain America, has died November 26 at 69, after several years of dementia and multiple sclerosis.

(12) MEMORY LANE.

2007 [By Cat Eldridge.] Dorothy and Toto in Oz Park (2007)

Fifteen years ago, a very special statue went up in Oz. No, not that Oz, but the park in Chicago, so first let’s talk about that park. It had been developed as part of the Lincoln Park Urban Renewal Area during the Seventies, and this park was formally named the Oz Park in 1976 to honor Baum who settled in Chicago in 1891 in an area west of the park. 

During the Nineties, the Oz Park Advisory Council and Lincoln Park Chamber of Commerce hired Chicago artist John Kearney to do all the figures for the Park. 

He first created a sculpture of the Tin Man which he fashioned out of chrome bumpers. It was his last such sculpture done that way as the bumpers of chrome were increasingly scarce and thus way too expensive.

Next came the Cowardly Lion which was cast in bronze. Take a look at the detail in the fur — quite amazing, isn’t it? 

Next is the rather colorful Scarecrow that is a seven-foot-tall sculpture, cast in an amazing twenty-two separate pieces in Kearney’s own foundry on Cape Cod.  

Now we come to the last statue, Dorothy and Toto. This final statue to be completed was Dorothy and Toto, using the so-called lost wax technique which you can see an example of here being done. Kearney added paint for the blue dress and the iconic ruby red shoes. The final statue was installed fifteen years ago. 

(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 29, 1910 Kendell Foster Crossen. He was the creator and writer of the Green Lama stories.  The character was a Buddhist crime fighter whose powers were activated upon the recitation of the Tibetan chant om mani padme hum. He also wrote Manning Draco series, an intergalactic insurance investigator, four of which are can be found in Once Upon a Star: A Novel of the Future. The usual suspects has a really deep catalog of his genre work, and the Green Lama stories have been made into audio works as well. (Died 1981.)
  • Born November 29, 1918 Madeleine L’Engle. Writer whose genre work included the splendid YA sequence starting off with A Wrinkle in Time, which won the Newbery Medal and a host of other awards, and has been made into a 2003 television film and a theatrical film directed by Ava DuVernay. She produced numerous loosely-linked sequels, including A Wind in the Door, A Swiftly Tilting Planet, Many Waters, and An Acceptable Time. In addition to her fiction, she wrote poetry and nonfiction, much of which related to her universalist form of Christian faith. She was honored with a World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement in 1997. In 2013, Crater L’Engle on Mercury was named for her. (Died 2007.) (JJ)
  • Born November 29, 1925 Leigh Couch. Science Teacher and Member of First Fandom. Active in fandom, along with her husband and children, during the 1960s and 70s, she was a member of the Ozark Science Fiction Association and one of the editors of its fanzine Sirruish. She was on the committee for the bid to host Worldcon in Hawaii in 1981. She was honored for her contributions as Fan Guest of Honor at the first Archon, the long-running regional convention which grew out of that early St. Louis-area fandom. (Died 1998.) (JJ)
  • Born November 29, 1942 Maggie Thompson, 80. Librarian, Editor, and Fan who, with her husband Don, edited from the 1960s to the 90s the fanzines Harbinger, Comic Art, Rainy Days, and Newfangles, and wrote a column for The Buyer’s Guide for Comic Fandom. When this became the professional publication Comic Buyer’s Guide in 1983, because of their extensive knowledge of comics, she and her husband were hired as editors; after he died in 1994, she continued as editor until it ceased publication in 2013. Under their editorial auspices, it won two Eisner Awards and the Jack Kirby Award. Together they were honored with the Inkpot Award, and twice with the Comic Fan Art Award for Favorite Fan Writers.
  • Born November 29, 1950 Kevin O’Donnell Jr. Writer who produced a number of genre novels and more than 70 short fiction works. He was chair of the Nebula Award Committee for nearly a decade, and business manager for the SFWA Bulletin for several years; he also chaired for 7 years SFWA’s Grievance Committee, which advocates for authors who experience difficulties in dealing with editors, publishers, agents, and other entities. He received the Service to SFWA Award in 2005, and after his death, the award was renamed in his honor. (Died 2012.)
  • Born November 29, 1969 Greg Rucka, 53. Comic book writer and novelist, known for his work on Action ComicsBatwoman and Detective Comics. If you’ve not read it, I recommend reading Gotham Central which he co-created with Ed Brubaker, and over at Marvel, the four-issue Ultimate Daredevil and Elektra which he wrote is quite excellent as well. I’ve read none of his novels, so will leave y’all to comment on those. He’s a character in the CSI comic book Dying in the Gutters miniseries as someone who accidentally killed a comics gossip columnist while attempting to kill Joe Quesada over his perceived role in the cancellation of Gotham Central.
  • Born November 29, 1976 Chadwick Boseman. Another death that damn near broke my heart. The Black Panther / T’Challa in the Marvel metaverse. The same year that he was first this being, he was Thoth in Gods of Egypt. (If you’ve not heard of this, no one else did either as it bombed quite nicely at the box office.) He was Sergeant McNair on Persons Unknown which is at least genre adjacent I would say.  And he even appeared on Fringe in the “Subject 9” episode as Mark Little / Cameron James.  I understand they did a stellar tribute to him in the new Black Panther film.  His Black Panther was nominated at Dublin 2019 for a Hugo but lost to another exemplary film, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. (Died 2020.)

(14) COMICS SECTION.

(15) CHRISTOPHER TOLKIEN PANEL. The 2023 Oxford Literary Festival will host “The Great Tales Never End: in Memory of Christopher Tolkien” on March 28. Tickets available at the link.

The Bodleian’s Tolkien archivist Catherine McIlwaine, writer John Garth and academic Stuart Lee discuss the role of JRR Tolkien’s son, Christopher, in promoting the works of his father and furthering understanding about them.

McIlwaine is co-editor with Bodley’s Librarian Richard Ovenden of The Great Tales Never End: Essays in Memory of Christopher Tolkien, while Garth and Lee have both contributed essays. Christopher was his father’s literary executor and published 24 volumes of his father’s work over four decades, more than Tolkien published during his lifetime. The collection of essays includes reflections on Christopher’s work by world-renowned scholars and reminiscences by family members.

McIlwaine is the Tolkien archivist at the Bodleian Libraries. Garth is an author and freelance writer and editor. He is author of The Worlds of J.R.R. Tolkien: The Places that Inspired Middle-earth and Tolkien and the Great War: The Threshold of Middle-earth. Lee is an English lecturer at the University of Oxford who lectures on fantasy literature with a focus on Tolkien. Discussions are chaired by Grace Khuri, a DPhil candidate at Oxford and the first Oxford postgraduate to write a PhD solely on Tolkien.

(16) HOW TO CONTACT THE CHENGDU WORLDCON. The Chengdu Worldcon posted this list of its “working emails”:

(17) DOING RESEARCH AND ASKING EXPERTS. Gideon P. Smith steers writers toward resources for “Writing the Science Right” at the SFWA Blog.

Getting the science right in SF can make the difference between writing cute stories and great science fiction. If you are a non-scientist writing SF and want to know how to do that, then this blog post is for you….

(18) LA ARTIST & WRITER. Some of you already know him, and All About Jazz invites the rest of you to “Meet Tony Gleeson”.

Tell Us A Bit About Yourself.

I’m an artist by vocation and a musician by avocation (I’ve played guitar all my life and picked up keyboards a couple of decades back). Music of all kinds has always been a major part of my life, but early on I made the choice to pursue the visual arts as my career. I spent my so-called formative years on the east coast, in upstate New York, Washington DC, and New York City. When I attended art school in Los Angeles, I fell in love with southern California and after a few years back in Manhattan, I persuaded my wife Annie to move there— quite an adventurous step for her as she’d never been on the West Coast. We’ve been Angelenos since 1977. We have three grown kids pursuing their own lives and adventures, but the house is hardly empty or still with our two cats, Django and Mingus, and our bird Charlie.

Annie’s been an NICU RN and I’ve run an illustration and design studio ever since we got here. I figure I’ve had around a thousand illustrations published: magazines, newspapers, book covers, catalogues and product illustrations. I’ve also done concept art for film, TV, advertising, and toy and product design.

I was a bookseller for several years early in the new millennium. I’m also a writer, with ten crime novels published in Britain and the United States. The most recent, A Different Kind of Dead, was released in the U.S. by Wildside in 2021. The new one, Find the Money, also by Wildside, is due for release before this year’s end. I’m kind of a polymath with a lot of interests (including film, baseball, classic mysteries, science fiction, and comic art) that tend to veer into obsessions….

(19) TAKEN BY SURPRISE, IN A GOOD WAY. “Slip Through Your Fingers: Thoughts on Andor by Abigail Nussbaum at Asking the Wrong Questions.

Look, I was not expecting this. Two years and more than a dozen shows into the Disney+ experiment, I think we’ve all developed a decent enough sense of what to expect from the television incarnations of the two biggest entertainment franchises on the planet. And for the most part, these shows have been fine. Some fun moments. Some actors who are better than their material. Maybe a hint of a political idea. There was no reason for Andor—a prequel to a prequel whose original premise was already quite dodgy—to be any better.

And then it turned out to be good. Not just good for Star Wars, but just plain good. Best TV of the year good. I have to admit that I went a bit Kübler-Ross about this. First there was Anger—this show is too good to be Star Wars. No way does a story this smart, this thoughtful about the compromises of life under fascism, and the costs of rising up to resist it, exist only as a lead-in to a floppy-haired teenager doing an amusement park ride….

(20) FONT FOLLY. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] A memorable Saturday Night Live skit from 2017 poked a lot of fun at the “lazy choice“ of the font Papyrus for the mega-blockbuster movie Avatar. (You may not be familiar with the controversy, but it’s a real thing.)

The font designer — who was shortly out of school decades ago when he created the font — responded in good humor. Now director James Cameron finally has, too, and Slashfilm is there taking notes: “Avatar Director And Font Connoisseur James Cameron Finally Responds To SNL’s Papyrus Sketch”.

“Saturday Night Live” can be very hit or miss when it comes to their sketches, but it should come as no surprise that “Papyrus” will go down as one of their best. The bit features Ryan Gosling as a man who has disassociated from the world around him because he remembered that James Cameron’s mega-blockbuster “Avatar” used a variation of the Papyrus font for its logo. It’s the kind of thing you may think about for a second or two before moving on with your life, but the sketch from former “SNL” writer Julio Torres dedicates itself to making Gosling’s breakdown look as dramatic as possible.

Like the “Potato Chip” segment, it’s the kind of “SNL” bit that makes you laugh at how seriously everyone is playing their part with something so silly and bizarre. It’s just a logo, and yet Gosling plays it as if the material is worthy of a conspiracy thriller. Since the 2017 sketch, Cameron has given the “Avatar” logo a typeface facelift that gives the series more of an identity, although it’s not that different. It honestly looks as if the graphic designer took the modified Papyrus logo as is, and filled it with air.

The “Terminator 2” filmmaker can change the logo all he wants, but if the internet has taught me anything, it’s that it never forgets. For five years, Cameron has remained silent on the whole Papyrus conversation … until now. With the long-awaited “Avatar: The Way of Water” only weeks away, the blockbuster mastermind is finally breaking his silence.

In the January 2023 issue of Empire, James Cameron finally faces the logo demons that have been haunting him for minutes, as he jokes about how the graphic design choice got in the way of getting even more money. “Just think of how much we could have grossed if it wasn’t for that damn font,” says Cameron…

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Jeffrey Smith, Danny Sichel, Daniel Dern, Scott Edelman, Joey Eschrich, Cora Buhlert, Rich Lynch, Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Cat Eldridge.]

Pixel Scroll 11/26/22 A Pixel Short And A Scroll Late

(1) THE NEW NUMBER ONE. The ever-widening circle of people who are hearing about the death of beloved sf author Greg Bear has resulted in File 770’s obituary notice “Greg Bear (1951-2022)” becoming the site’s most-read post ever. It passed 55,000 hits today.

The previous two record-holders were both from 2015, “Sunday Business Meeting at Sasquan” and “Viewing the Remains of Bradbury’s Home”, each with over 50K hits.  

(2) TOASTS TO GREG BEAR. Also, today at 4:21 p.m. in each time zone people have been offering a rolling toast to Greg Bear, and some have posted photos – like Walter Jon Williams on Facebook.  

Astrid Bear’s own comment on Facebook details what was in her glass:

I sit here near Seattle WA as the skies darken. It’s been an overcast day with occasional rain, so there is no hope of a golden sunset here at ground level. In my glass is a wee dram of Zaya rum from Trinidad and Tobago, one of Greg’s favorites. I am hearted to consider this toast rolling along the globe as sunset travels westward. I know people will be toasting in Australia, Europe, and the Americas, as each in their turn see the shadows draw long.

The memories of Greg will remain with those of us who knew and loved him for many years to come. His books will live on for many more years, even centuries. And that is a grand thing.

To Greg!

——–

Tasting notes: a lot of caramel and vanilla. Almost crème brulee in a glass. The label says “Trinidad and Tobago/Land of the Hummingbird.” Greg loved watching the hummingbirds that come to our flowers and feeders, and he managed to get some very good photographs of them.

(3) BUTLER’S EARLY DAYS. E. Alex Jung chronicles “The Spectacular Life of Octavia E. Butler” at Vulture.

…In her family, Butler went by Junie, short for Junior, and in the world, she went by Estelle or Estella to avoid confusion for people looking for her mother. As a girl, she was shy. She broke down in tears when she had to speak in front of the class. Her youth was filled with drudgery and torment. The first time she remembered someone calling her “ugly” was in the first grade — bullying that continued through her adolescence. “I wanted to disappear,” she said. “Instead, I grew six feet tall.” The boys resented her growth spurt, and sometimes she would get mistaken for a friend’s mother or chased out of the women’s bathroom. She was called slurs. It was the only time in her life she really considered suicide.

She kept her own company. In her elementary-school progress reports, one teacher wrote that “she dreams a lot and has poor concentration.” That was true. She did dream a lot, and she began to write her dreams down in a large pink notebook she carried around with her. “I usually had very few friends, and I was lonely,” Butler said. “But when I wrote, I wasn’t.” By the time she was 10, she was writing her own worlds. At first, they were inspired by animals. She loved horses like those in The Black Stallion. When she saw an old pony at a carnival with festering sores swarmed by flies, she realized the sores had come from the other kids kicking the animal to make it go faster. Children’s capacity for cruelty stayed with her. She went home and wrote stories of wild horses that could shape-shift and that “made fools of the men who came to catch them.”…

(4) BRINGING THEM BACK TO LIGHT. Cora Buhlert’s new “Fancast Spotlight” is “Tales from the Trunk”.

Tell us about your podcast or channel.

Tales from the Trunk is a podcast about the stories that we, as writers, have had to give up on for one reason or another. Every episode, an author comes on to read a story out of their trunk, or in the case of book tour episodes to read an excerpt from a new or forthcoming release, and chat about the writing life, the reasons that some stories just don’t make it, and why every word you write is its own victory. Episodes come out on the first and third Friday of every month.

Who are the people behind your podcast or channel?

Tales from the Trunk is hosted and produced by author Hilary B. Bisenieks (that’s me). I’m joined each episode by a guest author who works in science fiction, fantasy, horror, and beyond….

(5) GOING HOG WILD. Cora Buhlert has also debuted another “Masters-of-the-Universe-Piece Theatre: ‘Pig Invasion’”.

… Now I have a soft spot for pigs in general and the villain Pig-Head is a delightfully goofy character, a pig with a Samurai-style helmet in the most mid 1980s colour scheme ever. So once I spotted him for a good price, I bought him.

Since I like taking photos of new arrivals, I made a short photo story to post on Twitter before Twitter goes belly-up altogether, something which is looking increasingly likely.

So let’s see what happens when Pig-Head invades Eternia….

(6) CLOUDS OF PUNK WITNESS. New Lines Magazine appears to have a -punk suffix movement issue, since they published articles about cyberpunk and solarpunk.

Twenty minutes into the future, the transformative effects of computers and networks necessitate that misfits, outcasts and dissenters living on the fringes rebel against the abuse of cutting-edge science and tech for pleasure, profit and power.

That may seem extreme, but if “Star Trek” and its ilk were the summations of the optimism of the Atomic Age, this is the logical conclusion to the nihilism of the Information Age — one where technology won’t usher in the world of tomorrow. One where the solutions of yesterday will be our undoing; one where we wish we had dismantled the system we now live in before it was too late.

…Enter Solarpunk. By its simplest definition, Solarpunk is a literary and art movement which imagines what the future could look like if the human species were actually to succeed in solving the major challenges associated with global warming, from reducing global emissions to overcoming capitalist economic growth as the primary motor of human society. These seemingly titanic tasks are actually pragmatic necessities dictated by scientific knowledge. We know, for example, that it is simply impossible to have infinite economic growth on a finite planet. And yet, this impossibility is exactly where we are still heading towards as a species…

(7) THOUGHT EXPERIMENT. Inverse speculates, “If Neanderthals had survived, this is what the world might look like now”.

For 99 percent of the last million years of our existence, people rarely came across other humans. There were only around 10,000 Neanderthals living at any one time. Today, there are around 800,000 people in the same space that was occupied by one Neanderthal. What’s more, since humans live in social groups, the next nearest Neanderthal group was probably well over 100 kilometers away. Finding a mate outside your own family was a challenge.

Neanderthals were more inclined to stay in their family groups and were wary of new people. If they had outcompeted our species (Homo sapiens), the population density would likely be far lower. It’s hard to imagine them building cities, for example, because they were genetically disposed to be less friendly to those beyond their immediate family…

(8) MEMORY LANE.

1968 [By Cat Eldridge.] Charly 

So let’s talk about the film that was based off a Hugo Award winning story. 

Charly premiered fifty-four years ago on this date. It was based off “Flowers for Algernon” which is a short story and a novel by Daniel Keyes. The short story, written in 1958 and first published in the April 1959 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, would win the Hugo Award for Best Short Story at Pittcon. The novel was published in 1966 and was the joint winner of that year’s Nebula Award for Best Novel with Samuel R. Delany’s Babel-17

The scriptwriter for this film was Stirling Silliphant who is best remembered for his screenplay for In the Heat of the Night for which he won an Academy Award the previous year.  Not genre but worth noting is he created the Perry Mason series.

The movie had an outstanding cast of Cliff Robertson, Claire Bloom, Leon Janney, Lilia Skala and Dick Van Patten. 

I’m not going to detail the film here as I’m assuming y’all have seen, so no spoilers this time. May I say I found it a terribly depressing film and leave it at that? 

It’s worth noting that the short story became “The Two Worlds of Charlie Gordon”, a 1961 television adaptation for The United States Steel Hour in which Robertson had also starred. The UCLA Film & Television Archive has it legally up on YouTube so you can watch that version here.

William Goldman was to write the screenplay on the strength of his No Way to Treat a Lady novel and got $30,000 to write a screenplay. However, Cliff Robertson was pissed off with Goldman’s work and he hired to Silliphant write a draft which he found most satisfactory.

It was a hit by the studio, making eight times its budget of just a million dollars. 

I think Vincent Canby, critic for the New York Times, summed it up best in saying that it is a: “self-conscious contemporary drama, the first ever to exploit mental retardation for…the bittersweet romance of it.”  It is still way too depressing and ethically questionable for me, but that’s me. I’ll entertain other opinions of course. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 26, 1897 Naomi Mary Margaret Mitchison, Baroness Mitchison, CBE (née Haldane). Author of many historical novels with genre trappings such as The Corn King and the Spring Queen and The Bull Calves but also new wave SF such as Memoirs of a Spacewoman, pure fantasy Graeme and the Dragon and an Arthurian novel in Chapel Perilous. (Died 1999.)
  • Born November 26, 1919 Frederik Pohl. Writer, editor, and fan who was active for more seventy-five years from his first published work, the 1937 poem “Elegy to a Dead Satellite: Luna” to his final novel All the Lives He Led. That he was great and that he was honored for being great is beyond doubt — If I’m counting correctly, magazines he edited won three Hugos, fiction he wrote won three Hugos and two Nebula Awards, and at the end of his career he circled back around and won the 2010 Best Fan Writer Hugo. His 1979 novel Jem, Pohl won a U.S. National Book Award in the one-off category Science Fiction. SWFA made him the 12th recipient of its Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award in 1993, and he was inducted by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame in 1998. OK, setting aside Awards which are fucking impressive, there’s the matter of him editing Astonishing StoriesGalaxy Science FictionWorlds of If, and Super Science Stories which were a companion to Astonishing Stories, plus the Star Science Fiction anthologies – and well let’s just say the list goes on. I’m sure I’ve not listed something that y’all like here. As writer, he was amazing. My favorite was the Heechee series though I confess some novels were far better than others. Gateway won the Hugo Award for Best Novel, the 1978 Locus Award for Best Novel, the 1977 Nebula Award for Best Novel, and the 1978 John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best Science Fiction Novel. Very impressive. Man Plus I think is phenomenal, the sequel less so. Your opinion of course will no doubt vary. The Space Merchants co-written with Cyril M. Kornbluth in 1952 is, I think, damn fun. (Died 2013.)
  • Born November 26, 1936 Shusei Nagaoka. Artist and Illustrator from Japan who is best known for his music album cover art in the 1970s and 1980s. He designed covers for many of Earth, Wind and Fire’s albums, and many of his covers were very distinctively SFFnal; especially notable are Out of the Blue, by Electric Light Orchestra and When We Rock, We Rock, and When We Roll, We Roll by Deep Purple. His art also graced numerous genre books, including Tepper’s After Long Silence, Attanasio’s The Last Legends of Earth, and Reed’s Down the Bright Way. He helped to design the 1970 Osaka World’s Fair Expo, and had one of the first artworks which was launched into outer space and attained orbit, via the Russian Mir Space Station, in 1991. He won a Seiun Award for Best Artist in 1982. (Died 2015.) (JJ) 
  • Born November 26, 1940 Paul J. Nahin, 82. Engineer and Writer of numerous non-fiction works, some of genre interest, and at least 20 SF short fiction works. Time travel is certainly one of the intrinsic tropes of SF, so certainly there should be at least one academic that specializes in studying it. Oh, there is: I present this Professor Emeritus of electrical engineering at the University of New Hampshire who has written not one, but three, works on the subject, to wit: Time Machines: Time Travel in Physics, Metaphysics, and Science FictionTime Travel: A Writer’s Guide to the Real Science of Plausible Time Travel, and Time Machine Tales: The Science Fiction Adventures and Philosophical Puzzles of Time Travel. No mere dry academic is he, as he’s also had stories published in genre venues which include Analog, Omni, and Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone Magazine. (JJ)
  • Born November 26, 1949 Victoria Poyser-Lisi, 73. Artist, Illustrator, Teacher, and Fan who was inspired at the 1979 World Fantasy Convention to become a genre artist. She did more than a hundred covers and interior illustrations for fanzines, magazines, and books, and won two of her three Hugo Award nominations for Best Fan Artist. She now works in collaborative children’s book illustration and instructional painting books, and teaches drawing and painting courses in Colorado. (JJ) 
  • Born November 26, 1961 Steve Macdonald, 61. Musician, Writer, Singer, Filker, and Fan. He served for several years as the Evangelista for the Pegasus Awards (the Filkers’ most prestigious awards, given out by the Ohio Valley Filk Fest), and was responsible for many changes in the award process that led to greater participation among the voting base. In 2001, he attended ten filk conventions around the world and recorded filkers singing “Many Hearts, One Voice”, a song he had composed; the tracks were merged electronically for the WorlDream project to celebrate the new millennium. He has won six Pegasus Awards, for Best Performer, Writer/Composer, Filk Song, Adapted Song, Dorsai Song, and Myth Song. He has been Filk Guest of Honor at numerous conventions, and was inducted into the Filk Hall of Fame in 2006, after which he emigrated to Germany to marry fellow filker Katy Droge, whom he had met eight years before at OVFF. (JJ)

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Mutts is one of the many comics paying tribute to Charles Schulz today on the 100th anniversary of his birth.

(11) MAKING NEW STAR WARS FANS. The conclusion of Andor has people raving (favorably). Here’s a transcript of NPR’s “Movie Review: ‘Andor’”. Beware spoilers.

…DEL BARCO: Showrunner Tony Gilroy created the show after working on “Rogue One” and having written movies such as “Michael Clayton” and the “Bourne Identity” franchise. For many years, he’s been fascinated with empires and revolutions throughout history.

GILROY: I mean, I have a library downstairs just on the Russian Revolution alone. I can go between the Montagnards and the Haitians and the ANC and the Irgun and the French Resistance and the Continental Congress. And literally, you could drop a needle throughout the last 3,000 years of recorded history, and it’s passion. It’s need. It’s people being swept away by betrayal and their own ability and failure to commit. And, oh, my God, it’s just everything.

DEL BARCO: Gilroy infused that kind of drama into “Andor,” and he’s been pleasantly surprised by the passionate reaction by critics and fans, even those like himself who were not necessarily hardcore “Star Wars” aficionados before….

(12) JPLRON. Space.com introduces listeners to “’Blood, Sweat & Rockets:’ Podcast series looks at colorful founders of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab”. The direct link to the podcast is: Blood, Sweat and Rockets.

The early years of rocketry weren’t all about horn-rimmed glasses and slide rules. 

Some of the 20th century’s most important aerospace pioneers were incredibly colorful characters — folks like Jack Parsons, a handsome young chemist who conducted occult rituals with L. Ron Hubbard and sold bootleg nitroglycerine during the Great Depression.

Parsons’ many interests also extended to the nascent field of rocket science: He helped establish the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Southern California, which eventually became NASA’s lead center for robotic exploration.

…A new podcast called “Blood, Sweat & Rockets (opens in new tab)” delves into the lives and work of Parsons and his circle, which included fellow JPL co-founders Frank Malina and Theodore von Kármán. Some of these ambitious engineers, Parsons and Malina among them, were part of a group called the Suicide Squad. The name came from their aggressive approach to rocket research, as the podcast will doubtless detail….

(13) SHADES OF WEIRD TALES. Cora Buhlert has done a “Retro Review” for “’The Hanging of Alfred Wadham’ by E.F. Benson”, which she feels is “a not very good ghost story” that appeared in Weird Tales in 1929.

 …In addition to satirical novels about upper class people being jerks, Benson also wrote a lot of ghost stories and this is what brought him to the attention of H.P. Lovecraft, who wrote admiringly about Benson’s work in “Supernatural Horror in Literature”, and finally to Weird Tales….

(14) SF SCREENPLAY CONTEST. The Geneva International Science in Fiction Screenplay Awards are taking entries through December 2. Full details at the link.

GISFSA is a science related and Sci-Fi screenplay contest based out of Geneva, Switzerland, sponsored by the local production company, Turbulence Films, and CineGlobe the film festival of the CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research).

Our roots in scientific research and connections makes GISFSA the premiere science and sci-fi screenplay contest. We connect winners with the most reputable scientists in the world, who regularly advise on sci-fi pictures.

When submitting a screenplay, all content is analyzed through our sponsors at Scriptmatix, the industry’s leading content evaluation technology company.

For Screenplay Contests:
CONTEST ENTRIES receive analytics on their screenplay’s execution across multiple categories.
ENTRIES + ANALYSIS receive full analytics and evaluative write-ups….

(15) CAST(ING) OF HUNDREDS. “’The sheer scale is extraordinary’: meet the titanosaur that dwarfs Dippy the diplodocus” in the Guardian.

It will be one of the largest exhibits to grace a British museum. In spring, the Natural History Museum in London will display the skeleton of a titanosaur, a creature so vast it will have to be shoehorned into the 9-metre-high Waterhouse gallery.

One of the most massive creatures ever to have walked on Earth, Patagotitan mayorum was a 57-tonne behemoth that would have shaken the ground as it stomped over homelands which now form modern Patagonia. Its skeleton is 37 metres long, and 5 metres in height – significantly larger than the museum’s most famous dinosaur, Dippy the diplodocus, which used to loom over its main gallery.

…The remains of Patagotitan mayorum were uncovered in 2010 when a ranch owner in Patagonia came across a gigantic thigh bone sticking out of the ground. Argentinian fossil experts later dug up more than 200 pieces of skeleton, the remains of at least six individual animals.

Casts have been made of these bones by the Museo Paleontológico Egidio Feruglio in Trelew, Patagonia, and these form the skeleton that will go on display in London in March.

“The number of bones uncovered represents a treasure trove of material,” said Sinead Marron, the exhibition’s lead curator. “It means we now know a lot more about this species than we do about many other dinosaurs.”…

(16) GOOD NIGHT OPPY REVIEW. The New York Times shows why “This Mars Documentary Required Many Sols”.

Early in the documentary “Good Night Oppy,” footage from late 2002 shows Steve Squyres, clad in scrubs, staring down in quiet awe, his eyes welling up as he shakes his head in disbelief. Squyres, the principal investigator for NASA’s first Mars rover mission, is watching his babies take their first steps.

That at least is the sense one gets from the improbably sentimental journey at the core of this movie (which begins streaming Wednesday on Amazon Prime Video) about the Mars exploration rovers Spirit and Opportunity (a.k.a. Oppy). Squyres vividly remembers experiencing this exact moment from the film.

“The first time it sort of came to life, it was a very, very moving experience,” he said recently over Zoom.

Squyres had long awaited the moment. A former geologist, he had worked on Mars exploration proposals for 10 years, including three failed submissions to NASA, before spending another six years, including three cancellations and revivals of the mission, building the machines.

As much as “Good Night Oppy” chronicles the depth of the human achievement behind the Mars rover mission — which was initially planned for a roughly 90-day stretch but instead lasted 15 years — the film is anchored most of all by a kind of pure devotion and connection to the rovers.

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. How It Should Have Ended says this is “How Top Gun Maverick Should Have Ended”.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Cora Buhlert, Francis Hamit, Jack William Bell, Mike Kennedy, JJ, John King Tarpinian, and Chris Barkley for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Lis Carey.]

Pixel Scroll 11/17/22 Some Scroll Titles Make Me Laugh Out Loud, Some Make Me Wish I Thought Them Up, Others I Never Figure Out

(1) AUDIOBOOKS OF THE YEAR. Audible.com has named its picks for “Best of the Year: The 12 Best Sci-Fi Listens of 2022”.

This year’s sci-fi didn’t shy away from heavy, timely topics like climate change, pandemics, and social justice, but even as the subject matter hit close to home, the listening reached to new heights. Several stunning multicast productions make up this list—as well as narrators we can’t hear enough of. In a world that seems increasingly science fictional by the year, the bar is only set higher for creators in this genre—and this year’s list dares it to inch up just a little more….

Audible’s Sci-Fi Audiobook of the Year, 2022 is Upgrade Soul, an adaptation of Ezra Claytan Daniels’s graphic novel.

…Adapting a visual story to an audio medium is a feat in itself, and rather than simply match frame-for-frame, the author took the opportunity to evolve the story by pushing the boundaries of voice and sound. The production value is stunning, and the cast—Marcia Gay Harden, Wendell Pierce—puts on a masterful performance, quite literally transforming their delivery alongside their characters’ journeys. It’s a listen for sci-fi fans, horror fans, and anyone who has ever felt the fear of being left behind….

(2) THE UNADORNED TEXT. And Bookpage adds to the array of year-end roundups with “Best Science Fiction & Fantasy of 2022”.

There is probably no better way to sum up 2022 than to say it was a year dominated by both horror and hopepunk—sometimes even in the same book….

(3) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites listeners to eavesdrop on Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki in Episode 185 of his Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki

Ekpeki — who won the Best Novelette Nebula Award earlier this year for “O2 Arena” — was up for two Hugo Awards that weekend. Not only as a writer for “O2 Arena” again — but also in the category of Best Editor, Short Form. Plus earlier this month, he won a World Fantasy Award in the category of Best Anthology for The Year’s Best African Speculative Fiction. He has also won the Otherwise, Nommo and British Fantasy Awards, plus has been a finalist for the Locus, British Science Fiction Association, Theodore Sturgeon Memorial, and This Is Horror awards.

His fiction and nonfiction have appeared in or are forthcoming in TordotcomApex MagazineStrange HorizonsAsimov’sGalaxy’s EdgeCosmic Roots and Eldritch Shores, and more. In addition to editing that first ever — and now award-winning — Year’s Best African Speculative Fiction anthology, he also co-edited the award-winning Dominion: An Anthology of Speculative Fiction From Africa and the African Diaspora, as well as — most recently — the Africa Risen anthology from Tordotcom, co-edited with Sheree Renée Thomas and Zelda Knight.

We discussed the reason “shocked” seemed an inadequate word to describe his feelings about winning a Nebula Award earlier this year, what he considered the true prize he won over his Worldcon weekend, how growing up next to a library changed his life, how writing fan fiction helped him get where he is today, the way reading the struggles of a certain character in a Patrick Rothfuss novel helped him deal with his own struggles, what caused him to say “the law cannot help you change the law,” when he decided his novella “Ife-Iyoku, Tale of Imadeyunuagbon” deserved to be a trilogy, the way he does his best work when backed into a corner, how it’s possible for three editors to edit an anthology, and much more.

(4) UNPACKING AFTER THE WORLDCON. Read Morgan Hazelwood’s notes about the Chicon 8 panel “Reaching Past Riordan” or view the video commentary at Morgan Hazelwood: Writer in Progress. The panelists are Beth Mitcham, Kathryn Sullivan, Samantha Lane, Marines Alvarez, and Donna JW Munro.

Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series has led to an explosion of YA speculative fiction that explores mythology and folktales through the adventures of modern-day characters. What’s made this subgenre so popular? And who are some authors to pick up after Percy Jackson? And how has the genre expanded to feature non-Western mythologies?

(5) DAW BOOKS ACQUIRES FIVE NEW FANTASY NOVELS FROM MERCEDES LACKEY. Betsy Wollheim, Publisher at DAW Books, has acquired North American rights to five new books by Mercedes Lackey, represented by Russell Galen at Scovil Galen Ghosh Agency, Inc. 

Mercedes Lackey. Photo by Hudson Stryker

Two books will be set in Lackey’s beloved fantasy world of Valdemar, while the other three will continue her long-running Elemental Masters novels. Lackey is a New York Times-bestselling author and was named a Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association in 2022. 

The first of the new Valdemar novels, written in collaboration with her partner Larry Dixon, is scheduled for Spring 2024. Lackey’s expansive fantasy world of Valdemar includes over thirty novels that span the history of the kingdom. Her most recent books explore the long-awaited story of the founding of the nation by the legendary Baron Kordas Valdemar.

Elemental Masters #17 is scheduled for Fall 2024, with books #18 and #19 to follow in 2025 and 2026. Set in the Regency era, these novels combine historical fantasy and fairytale retellings with powers of elemental magic.

(6) NATIONAL BOOK AWARDS. The National Book Awards 2022 were announced this week. None of the winners is of genre interest, except that one of the stories in Samantha Schweblin’s collection Seven Empty Houses (Best Translated Literature) involves a ghost. The complete list of winners is at the link.

(7) REALLY MAD. Mad Genius Club’s Karen Myers is irate about “Authors misusing tools they don’t understand”. In particular she’s offended by the misuse of sentence fragments, and says she finds Lee Child’s Reacher series delivers endless bad examples. While I like the Reacher books, I have noticed this tendency myself…

…Men’s Adventure Stories™ have certain conventions. When you read the genre, you expect explosive action, mortal peril, expertise, heroes & villains, suffering, triumph (contingent). One of the methods used to convey some of this (action, peril, expertise, suffering) is the use of short sentences, or even sentence fragments. The reason this works is that it mimics, in rhetorical form, the experience of hyper-focus or shock — the ability or need to concentrate, in whole or in part, on single things that absorb all attention in a moment of importance. It therefore puts the reader into the head of the person telling the story, a head which can only look at things that way in that moment. It is vivid.

At least, when it’s done right….

(8) TODAY’S DAY. Craig Miller reminds Facebook readers that today is “Life Day” in the Star Wars universe, and explains its origins with an excerpt from his book Star Wars Memories:

The holiday around which “The Star Wars Holiday Special” was centered. The celebration date was chosen because it’s the anniversary of when the show aired its one and only time on television.

To mark the occasion, here’s an excerpt from “Star Wars Memories”, talking about the special’s creation.

The Star Wars Holiday Special

I had no real involvement with “The Star Wars Holiday Special”. It wasn’t a project I was assigned. I didn’t work on it. But I was at Lucasfilm while it was happening, received copies of each draft of the script as they came in, and heard about what was going on from some of the people working on it. So I have a few insights about it….

(9) MEMORY LANE.

1963 [By Cat Eldridge.] The Pink Panther

Fifty-nine years ago — though I’ll admit not even close to this evening — the first of The Pink Panther films came out. I was thinking about Blake Edwards earlier because of Victor/Victoria, hence this essay. Don’t think about that too much.

The first quite naturally was called The Pink Panther

WARNING SPOILERS THAT WOULD ATTRACT THE ATTENTION OF A CERTAIN PINK PANTHER FOLLOW.

The Pink Panther first shows up in the opening credits which you can see here.

Its story follows inspector Jacques Clouseau as he travels from Rome to Cortina d’Ampezzo to catch a notorious jewel thief known as “The Phantom” before he is able to steal a priceless diamond known as The Pink Panther, so called because one can see a leaping pink panther within it supposedly.

It is held by the heiress to a country now ruled by a military junta. She and the Phantom are at the same resort as is the Inspector. Somehow against all logic the Inspector, played throughout the series by Peter Sellers, is accused of being The Phantom, arrested, and jailed. More amusingly for me, a woman at the resort falls in love with him. 

The film ends after the police car carrying the Inspector to prison runs over a traffic warden which again is the Pink Panther. He gets back up as we hear the crash sound that was coming from the police car, holding a card that reads “THEND” and swipes the letters to somehow read “THE END.”

(A lot of comic mayhem happens that I’ve not covered of course.) 

THE PINK PANTHER SAYS IN SIGN LANGUAGE THAT YOU CAN COME BACK. 

Blake Edwards directed from a screenplay by him and Maurice Richlin. It had a steller cast of David Niven, the aforementioned Peter Sellers, Robert Wagner and Claudia Cardinale. 

Niven who played The Phantom here portrayed had previously played Raffles, the Amateur Cracksman, a character closely resembling the Phantom, in the Raffles film of 1939. Apparently this was presented to him as the beginning of a new series of Raffles-style movies. However Peter Sellers stole every scene, and it became a Sellers vehicle instead.

Peter Ustinov was to play Clouseau, with Ava Gardner as his wife.  After Gardner backed out because The Mirisch Company would not meet her demands for a personal staff, Ustinov left as well. 

Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give it a most excellent seventy-eight percent rating. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 17, 1915 Raymond F. Jones. Writer who is best remembered for his novel This Island Earth, which was made into a movie which was then skewered in Mystery Science Theatre 3000: The Movie. However, he produced a significant number of science fiction novels and short stories which were published in magazines such as Thrilling Wonder Stories, Astounding Stories, and Galaxy, including “Rat Race” and “Correspondence Course”, which respectively earned Hugo and Retro Hugo nominations. (Died 1994.)
  • Born November 17, 1925 Rock Hudson. Best known genre role was as Col. John Wilder in The Martian Chronicles series. He also played President Thomas McKenna in the World War III miniseries which you may or may not consider SF. That’s it. (Died 1985.)
  • Born November 17, 1932 Dennis McHaney. Writer and Critic. Pulp writers in particular seem to attract scholars, both amateur and professional. Robert E. Howard was not an exception. So I give you this individual who, between 1974 and 2008, published The Howard Review and The Robert E. Howard Newsletter. Oh, but that was hardly all he did, as he created reference works such as The Fiction of Robert E. Howard – A Pocket Checklist, Robert E. Howard in Oriental Stories, Magic Carpet and The Souk, and The Fiction of Robert E. Howard: A Quick Reference Guide. A listing of his essays and other works would take an entire page. It has intriguing entries such as Frazetta Trading CardsThe Short, Sweet Life and Slow Agonizing Death of a Fan’s Magazine, and The Films of Steve Reeves. Fascinating… (Died 2011.)
  • Born November 17, 1936 John Trimble, 86. Husband of Bjo Trimble. He has assisted her in almost all of her SF work, including Project Art Show. They were GoHs at ConJose, the 2002 Worldcon. He’s a member of LASFS. He’s been involved in far too many fanzines and APAs too list here. 
  • Born November 17, 1956 Rebecca Moesta Anderson, 66. Wife of Kevin James Anderson with whom she collaborates more often than not. They’ve done dozens of Star Wars novels including the Young Jedi Knights series, and even one in the Buffyverse. 
  • Born November 17, 1966 Ed Brubaker, 56. Comic book writer and artist. Sandman Presents: Dead Boy Detectives I’d consider his first genre work. Later work for DC and Marvel included The AuthorityBatmanCaptain AmericaDaredevilCatwoman and the Uncanny X-Men. If I may single out but one series, it’d be the one he did with writer Greg Rucka which was the Gotham Central series. It’s Gotham largely without Batman but with the villains so GPD has to deal with them by themselves. Grim and well done. In 2016, he joined the writing staff for the Westworld series where he co-wrote the episode “Dissonance Theory” with Jonathan Nolan.
  • Born November 17, 1983 Christopher Paolini, 39. He is the author of the Inheritance Cycle, which consists of the books EragonEldestBrisingr, and Inheritance. A film version of the first novel came out in 2006. The Fork, the Witch, and the Worm, the first book in a series called Tales of Alagaësia, was published in 2018.

(11) MARTHA WELLS Q&A. Media Death Cult’s “Sci Fi Spotlight” interviews Martha Wells. Along the way she mentions that Ben Aaronovich’s Rivers of London is one of her favorites, which one of our reviewers will happy to hear.

Martha Wells is a Hugo and Nebula Award winning author from Texas, she won’t mind me saying that she is most well known for Murderbot.

(12) PARADOX FIFTIETH ANNIVERSARY. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] 50 years ago the first edition of the H G Wells Society clubzine Paradox came out. The Romanian writer Silviu Genescu reminded Facebook readers it had no issue number as the authorities (the communist regime) said that there would be no other issues.

In fact the regime almost did not allow the HG Wells Society to be so named as H G Wells was a western author. However the student club members of the society pointed out that Wells was a socialist in outlook and so the authorities granted permission.

This weekend the 50th anniversary edition of Paradox is coming out.

I know a number of H G Wells members as we, SF2 Concatenation, ran cultural exchange ventures with Hungarian and Romanian SF fans and authors back in the 1990s following the fall of the Iron Curtain. So I am still in touch with a few of them.

(13) YEAR’S TOP GRAPHIC NOVELS. The Washington Post’s Michael Cavna declares these are “The 10 best graphic novels of 2022”.

The engine of graphic-novel publishing — fine-tuned to so many demographics and markets — has run on all cylinders in 2022.

Textured memoirs. Throwback superheroes. Chilling fictional thrills and riveting real-life horror. And retrospectives that dazzle in their devotion to the medium’s history.

Our recommendations could easily number in the hundreds, but to distill our picks, here are 10 stellarcomics that represent an array of genres and styles:

The list includes –

‘The Keeper,’ by Tananarive Due, Steven Barnes and artist Marco Finnegan

The acclaimed husband-and-wife horror authors (NAACP Image Award winners both) team with the gifted Finnegan to render a taut and thrilling tale in which an orphaned Detroit girl must come to terms with the titular spirit. The truth lurks in the omnipresent shadows, and revelations reveal themselves with expert pacing and craft.

(13) UP ABOVE THE WORLD SO HIGH. “Canada’s CBC Books Names Five Finalists for Its 2022 Poetry Prize” and one of them is at least genre adjacent — “To the Astronaut Who Hopes Life on Another Planet Will Be More Bearable” by Brad Aaron Modlin. (Read it at the link.) The winner will be announced on November 24 and will receive a cash prize of 6,000 Canadian dollars (US$4,501) from the Canada Council for the Arts. In addition, the winner gets a two-week writing residency at the Banff Center for Arts and Creativity in Alberta. Each finalist receives 1,000 Canadian dollars (US$750).

(14) HOW THEY DID IT. The New York Times’ “Dressing Wakanda” has a detailed commentary by costume designer Ruth E. Carter about five outfits created for Wakanda Forever. Photos at the link.

…Given that Ms. Carter designed “hundreds of character pieces” for the film, working with ateliers and artists in Los Angeles, Paris, India and New Zealand, not to mention brands including Adidas and Iris van Herpen, the choice was not exactly an easy one….

Carter begins with —

Queen Ramonda, in purple dress and crown

Queen Ramonda’s dress, a combination of computer-generated designs and handwork, took four to six months to make.Eli Adé/Marvel Studios

“She wears this to a U.N. meeting in Geneva, and I wanted you to recognize right away that this is the queen, but because of T’Challa’s death, she is now both the queen and the king. The purple dress represents the color of the royal family — color impacts the audience and story enormously — and she has a 3-D printed crown and collar.

The crown is the same style she wore in the first film, which was also 3-D printed to reflect the fact that Wakandans are technologically advanced enough to create wearable art, and modeled on the isicholo, a Zulu married woman’s hat. The collar has additional gemstones that were added by jeweler Douriean Fletcher. So it’s a combination of computer-generated designs by the artist Julia Koerner and handwork. The dress has a series of Wakandan hieroglyphs going down the center and sides and converge at the neckpiece, so she almost becomes a totem. That is her stature now. It probably took four to six months to make.”

(15) SPLASH LANDING. “Winchcombe meteorite bolsters Earth water theory”BBC News explains.

A meteorite that crashed on the Gloucestershire town of Winchcombe last year contained water that was a near-perfect match for that on Earth.

This bolsters the idea rocks from space brought key chemical components, including water, to the planet early in its history, billions of years ago.

The meteorite is regarded as the most important recovered in the UK.

Scientists publishing their first detailed analysis say it has yielded fascinating insights….

This is the link to the scientific paper: “The Winchcombe meteorite, a unique and pristine witness from the outer solar system”.

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Dr. Matt O’Dowd takes up the question “Are there Undiscovered Elements Beyond The Periodic Table?” on PBS’ Space and Time.

Adamantium, bolognium, dilithium. Element Zero, Kryptonite. Mythril, Netherite, Orichalcum, Unobtanium. We love the idea of fictional elements with miraculous properties that science has yet to discover. But is it really possible that new elements exist beyond the periodic table?

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

Pixel Scroll 11/11/22 There Was A Filer Who Had A Blog, And Pixel Was Its Name-O

(1) LAW ENFORCEMENT ACTIVITY NEARBY AS WINDYCON BEGINS. [Item by Steven H Silver.] This year’s Windycon [in the Chicago area] started out in an interesting way.  A police presence in the inside of the ring access road due to a high-speed chase and a search for bullet casings.  Never good to see helicopter views of the building your con is in.  Some inconvenience to members getting in and out of the parking lot, but otherwise no real impact.

File 770 located a brief video report here: “Lombard police investigating report of shots fired at Yorktown Shopping Center”.

(2) VONNEGUT CENTENARY. “100 years after his birth, Kurt Vonnegut is more relevant than ever to science” asserts Science.

…As a philosopher, Vonnegut was no stranger to science. Under pressure from his brother, a renowned atmospheric chemist, he studied biochemistry at Cornell University in the 1940s before dropping out and enlisting in the Army during World War II. He later worked as an institutional writer for General Electric and, until his death in 2007, said he spent more time in the company of scientists than of writers.

Perhaps that’s why, beneath his persistent skepticism about science, there was always a deep appreciation for its potential. In the novel Cat’s Cradle, for instance, a dictator on the brink of death urges his people to embrace science over religion because “science is magic that works.” Even within ultimately dystopian tales, “you can see a sort of romanticization of the scientific endeavor,” says David Koepsell, a philosopher of science and technology at Texas A&M University, College Station….

(3) E.T. FOR SALE. The “Icons & Idols: Hollywood” auction presented by Julien’s Auctions and Turner Classic Movies will feature this high ticket headliner: the E.T. filming model.

Headlining this epic event is the E.T. the Extra Terrestrial Hero “#1” Mechatronic filming model “actor” that brought the eponymous character to life in Steven Spielberg’s 1982 classic E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (estimate: $2,000,000 – $3,000,000). Pre-dating modern CGI technology and effects, this one-of-a-kind cinematographic relic (constructed in 1981) features 85 points of movement and is regarded as an engineering masterpiece.

“Carlo Rambaldi was E.T.’s Geppetto.” – Steven Spielberg

Created by “The Father of E.T.,” Carlo Rambaldi was an Italian special effects master, designer and mechatronics expert best known for his work on King Kong (Paramount Pictures, 1976), Alien (20th Century Fox, 1979), Close Encounters of the Third Kind (Columbia Pictures, 1977), Dune (Universal Pictures/DDL Corp. 1984), and E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

(4) GOLDSMITHS PRIZE. The 2022 winner of the Goldsmiths Prize is the non-genre novel Diego Garcia by Natasha Soobramanien and Luke Williams.

It won out over five other works on the shortlist, which included two of genre interest, Maps of Our Spectacular Bodies by Maddie Mortimer (Picador) and Peaces by Helen Oyeyemi (Faber).

(5) THE BIG SQUEEZE. Dave Doering was left scratching his head after reading the plug for “BookyCon 2022: A Mega Meta Book Festival”.

You up for the world’s largest virtual book festival? 
Reserve your ticket here! (Space is limited)

(6) KEVIN CONROY (1955-2022). Kevin Conroy, longtime voice of the animated Batman, died November 10 at the age of 66. Deadline says he reportedly had been battling cancer:

… An actor with credits on stage, television and film, Conroy became a premier voice actor as the title character of Batman: The Animated Series (1992-96). He’d eventually give voice to the Dark Knight in nearly 60 different productions, including 15 films and more than 15 animated series spanning nearly 400 episodes and more than 100 hours of television.

Conroy also voiced Batman in dozens of video games and was featured as a live-action Bruce Wayne in the Arrowverse’s 2019-20 “Crisis on Infinite Earths” crossover event.

“Kevin was perfection,” said Mark Hamill, who voiced the Joker opposite Conroy’s Batman. “He was one of my favorite people on the planet, and I loved him like a brother. He truly cared for the people around him – his decency shone through everything he did. Every time I saw him or spoke with him, my spirits were elevated.”…

(7) MEMORY LANE.

1946 [By Cat Eldridge.] Molle’ Mystery Theatre’s “Come Back to Me” (1946)

This May 17, 1946 radio show is an adaption of Ray Bradbury’s story, “Killer, Come Back to Me” which was published two years earlier in  the July 1944 issue of Detective Tales. It was adapted for radio by Joseph Ruskall.

It was a fairly meaty story at twenty pages when published in Detective Tales.  It was in three parts, the first of which describes Julie, a stereotypical Forties femme fatale who it turn out is anything but not, and Broghman, a young man who conducts a robbery alone and then finds himself now allied with her. Or so he thinks.

The second part of this story is about the dealings of a Los Angeles crime syndicate Angeles and Broghman’s realization that he is not afraid of them; while the third part is at a meeting between him and the head of the syndicate, who naturally thinks of his thugs as “respectable businessmen” which they are most decidedly not. 

The primary actors here were Richard Widmark and Alice Reinhart in the lead roles. Widmark as one site put it has “the leading role of a cheap hoodlum with delusions of grandeur who assumes the role of a dead gangster while taking up with the crook’s delusional girlfriend.” Alice Reinhart Is Julie, that femme fatale and really delusional girlfriend.

Mollé Mystery Theatre was a thirty-minute radio program that ran from 1943 to 1948 on the NBC network before moving to the CBS network where the show became only the stories of Inspector Hearthstone. It would end its run on the ABC network.  The show was sponsored first by Sterling Drugs, manufacturers of Mollé Brushless Shaving Cream, hence the name. When it was not sponsored by Mollé, the program was called Mystery Theater.

Of its estimated 237 episodes, only 73 are known to be still in circulation.

You can hear it thisaway.

The original story is collected in, not at all surprisingly, Killer, Come Back to Me: The Crime Stories of Ray Bradbury which is published by Titan Books. It’s available from the usual suspects. 

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 11, 1922 Kurt Vonnegut Jr. The Sirens of Titan was his first SF novel followed by Cat’s Cradle which after turning down his original thesis in 1947, the University of Chicago awarded him his master’s degree in anthropology in 1971 for this novel. Next was Slaughterhouse-Five, or The Children’s Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death which is one weird book and an even stranger film. It was nominated for best novel Nebula and Hugo Awards but lost both to Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness. I’m fairly sure Breakfast of Champions, or Goodbye Blue Monday is his last genre novel there’s a lot of short fiction where something of a genre nature might have occurred. (Died 2007.)
  • Born November 11, 1916 Donald Franson. Longtime fan who lived most of his life in LA. Was active in the N3F and LASFS including serving as the secretary for years and was a member of the Neffer Amateur Press Alliance.  Author of A Key to the Terminology of Science-Fiction Fandom. Also wrote A History of the Hugo, Nebula, and International Fantasy Awards, Listing Nominees & Winners, 1951-1970 and An Author Index to Astounding/Analog: Part II—Vol. 36, #1, September, 1945 to Vol. 73 #3, May, 1964, the first with Howard DeVore. (Died 2003.)
  • Born November 11, 1917 Mack Reynolds. He’d make Birthday Honors just for his first novel, The Case of the Little Green Men, published in 1951, which as you likely know is a murder mystery set at a Con.  He gets Serious Geek Credits for writing the first original authorized classic Trek novel Mission to Horatius.  And I’ve seriously enjoyed his short fiction. Wildside Press has seriously big volumes of his fiction up at the usual suspects for very cheap prices. (Died 1983.)
  • Born November 11, 1925 Jonathan Winters. Yes, he did do quite a few genre performances including an early one as James Howard “Fats” Brown in “A Game of Pool”, a 1961 episode of The Twilight Zone. He next shows up as the very, very silly role of Albert Paradine II in More Wild, Wild West. He had a recurring role in Mork & Mindy as a character named Mearth. You’ll find him in The Shadow film, The Adventures of Rocky and BullwinkleThe Flintstones, both of The Smurfs films and quite a bit more. He of course was a guest on The Muppets Show. Who wasn’t? (Died 2013.)
  • Born November 11, 1945 Delphyne Joan Hanke-Woods. Artist and Illustrator whose grandfather taught her to read using science fiction pulp magazines. After discovering genre fandom at Windycon in 1978, she became one of the leading fan artists in fanzines of the time, including providing numerous covers for File 770. In addition to convention art shows, her art also appeared professionally, illustrating books by R.A. Lafferty, Joan D. Vinge, and Theodore Sturgeon, and in magazines including Galaxy, Fantastic Films, and The Comics Journal. She won two FAAn Awards for Best Serious Artist and was nominated six times for the Best Fan Artist Hugo, winning in 1986. She was Fan Guest of Honor at several conventions, including back at a Windycon, where her fandom started. (Died 2013.) (JJ) 
  • Born November 11, 1947 Victoria Schochet, 65. Wife of Eric Van Lustbader. She co-edited with John Silbersack and Mellisa Singer the most excellent The Berkley Showcase: New Writings in Science Fiction and Fantasy that came out in the Eighties. She has worked editorially at Analog as Managing Editor.
  • Born November 11, 1948 Kat Bushman, 74. Costumer and Fan from the Los Angeles area who has chaired/co-chaired Costume-Cons, and has worked on or organized masquerades at a number of Westercons, Loscons, and a Worldcon. She received Costume-Con’s Life Achievement Award in 2015. She is a member of LASFS and of SCIFI, and ran for DUFF in 1987. Her essay “A Masquerade by Any Other Name” appeared in the L.A.con III Worldcon Program Book. (JJ) 

(9) GOING ROGUE. For a spoiler-filled look at Andor, read Variety’s profile: “’Star Wars’ Series ‘Andor’ Showrunner Talks Sex, Revolution, Geekdom”.

… As anyone who has watched the show and/or been on Twitter since it debuted Sept. 21 knows, “Andor” has been one of the most enthusiastically well received “Star Wars” projects of the Disney era. Between its sprawling cast and labyrinthine plotting, the 12-episode series has raced headlong into territory many “Star Wars” fans did not know was possible: mature, dramatic storytelling about everyday people. With each new episode, the social media adulation for “Andor” has only grown louder, as millennials and Gen Xers who grew up with “Star Wars” have become further enthralled by the realization that the family-friendly franchise has proven capable of growing up with them….

(10) SOFT LANDING. “NASA Launched an Inflatable Flying Saucer, Then Landed It in the Ocean” – the New York Times takes a look at the future of Martian valet parking.

On Thursday morning, NASA sent a giant inflatable device to space and then brought it back down from orbit, splashing in the ocean near Hawaii.

You might think of it as a bouncy castle from space, although the people in charge of the mission would prefer you did not.

“I would say that would be inaccurate,” Neil Cheatwood, principal investigator for the Low-Earth Orbit Flight Test of an Inflatable Decelerator, or LOFTID for short, said of the comparison during an interview.

LOFTID may sound like just an amusing trick, but the $93 million project demonstrates an intriguing technology that could help NASA in its goal of getting people safely to the surface of Mars someday. The agency has landed a series of robotic spacecraft on Mars, but the current approaches only work for payloads weighing up to about 1.5 tons — about the bulk of a small car….

(11) VERBAL HINT. The BBC’s Fred Harris talks to game developers at Infocom about interactive fiction in this clip from 1985.

Fred Harris goes behind the scenes at Boston software company Infocom. The developer has enjoyed great success with its line of text adventure games – the likes of Zork, Planetfall, Enchanter, and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – which eschew graphics in favour of a simple text display, and arcade gameplay in favour of what the company calls ‘interactive fiction’. Game designer Dave Liebling – one of Infocom’s founder members – is currently putting the finishing touches to a new game called Spellbreaker. He explains the processes that go in to making a good text-adventure game. This clip is from Micro Live, originally broadcast 29 November, 1985.

(12) PAINT YOUR DRAGON. From Kevin Smith’s YouTube channel: “Curious George: An Evening with GEORGE R.R. MARTIN and KEVIN SMITH!”

A Bayonne boy goes down the shore to geek out with a Highlands nerd about comic books, movies, TV, the dawn of fandom, writing, success, failure, and DRAGONS! It’s a once-in-a-lifetime audience with a living legend: the celebrated, world renowned author of the A Song of Fire & Ice novels, the source for HBO’s Game of Thrones! Watch as he’s interviewed by a guy who was traumatized by The Red Wedding!

[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Jennifer Hawthorne, Steven H Silver, Dave Doering, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jayn.]

Pixel Scroll 9/25/22 It’s Raining Marshmallows! And The Unicorns Are Spearing Them!

(1) STAR WARS AMID REAL WARS. “Darth Vader’s Voice Emanated From War-Torn Ukraine”Vanity Fair details how and why it was done.

Bogdan Belyaev was working from home when the air raid sirens went off. They hadn’t been heard in the city of Lviv since World War II, but it was February 24, and Russia had just invaded Ukraine. “When we heard that missiles were attacking and that our [internet] connection was dropping from parts of our country, we got into shelter,” says Belyaev. That meant him, his wife, and their dog and two cats huddling in the center of their building. “It’s a ‘shelter,’ really in quotes because it was actually our bathroom,” he says. “There is a rule of two walls. You need to be behind two walls. The first wall is taking the impact, and the second one is stopping the small shrapnel.” But for Belyaev, work carried on because he needed it to. People on the other side of the world were relying on him, and the project was the culmination of a passion he’d had since childhood: Star Wars.

Belyaev is a 29-year-old synthetic-speech artist at the Ukrainian start-up Respeecher, which uses archival recordings and a proprietary A.I. algorithm to create new dialogue with the voices of performers from long ago. The company worked with Lucasfilm to generate the voice of a young Luke Skywalker for Disney+’s The Book of Boba Fett, and the recent Obi-Wan Kenobi series tasked them with making Darth Vader sound like James Earl Jones’s dark side villain from 45 years ago, now that Jones’s voice has altered with age and he has stepped back from the role. Belyaev was rushing to finish his work as Putin’s troops came across the border. “If everything went bad, we would never make these conversions delivered to Skywalker Sound,” he says. “So I decided to push this data right on the 24th of February.”

Respeecher employees in Kyiv also soldiered on while hunkered down. Dmytro Bielievtsov, the company’s cofounder and CTO, got online in a theater where tabletops, books, and more had been stacked in front of windows in case of blasts. Programmers “training” the A.I. to replicate Jones’s voice and editors piecing together the output worked from corridors in the interior of their apartments. One took refuge in an ancient brick “basement” no bigger than a crawl space.

Back at Skywalker Sound in Northern California, Matthew Wood was the supervising sound editor on the receiving end of the transmissions from Ukraine. He says that they hired Respeecher because the vocal performances that the start-up generates have an often elusive human touch. “Certainly my main concern was their well-being,” says Wood, who is a 32-year veteran of Lucasfilm. “There are always alternatives that we could pursue that wouldn’t be as good as what they would give us. We never wanted to put them in any kind of additional danger to stay in the office to do something.”…

(2) THE VOICE OF THE PEOPLE. Charles Payseur takes up the “Fan vs. Pro” debate about contenders for the fan Hugos at Quick Sip Reviews“Quick Sips 09/23/2022”

… “What kind of fan work should be recognized by the Hugo Awards?” If you answer “the kind of fan work that is underappreciated and deserves recognition” then I’m sorry, that’s not what a popular vote award is going to give you by definition. Already appreciated fans, fanzines, fancasts, and fan artists are going to have the advantage because by virtue of having fans of their own, they’ll get more votes. If you want awards that will seek to award people doing thankless and vital work, you’re going to need a juried award (both steps, too, because even a juried first stage, popular vote second stage is going to probably favor already popular fans).

And I could propose that we get together and create The Fannies (bwahahahaha), but that again is avoiding the question again. “What kind of fan work should be recognized by the Hugo Awards?” Like with all the other categories, the answer is that we should recognize the fan work that was the most popular in a given year. Yes, platform will effect that a lot. Money will effect that a lot. But unless we’re going to seek to correct for wealth, access, and privilege across all the Hugo categories, singling out the fan awards without reckoning with the current shape and state of SFF fandoms is pointless at best. Might as well just say with your whole voice that you don’t think specific finalists or winners DESERVE the recognition. At which point everyone can see what it is you’re really doing….

(3) GONE INDIE. Brian Keene is moving into indie all the way. He tells why in this interview with Bloody Disgusting: “Manhattan On Mars – Horror Author Brian Keene Launches His Own Publishing Imprint”.

BD: What led you to first consider launching an imprint?

BK: J.F. Gonzalez and I had often talked about doing this, but we were both of a generation where making this sort of transition was seen as crazy talk. So we never did. But even after he died, the idea was there in the back of my brain, gnawing and gnawing. And I started watching authors younger than me, whom I admire, and the success they were having making the plunge. Two of them are thriller writer Robert Swartwood and horror/sci-fi writer Stephen Kozeniewski. They were who finally convinced me to make the move. Rob got me to see that with the size of my audience and fan base, it was ridiculous not to do this.

For the entirety of my career, other companies — big and small — have had partial ownership of my rights and my intellectual properties. And these days, IP is king. These corporations aren’t paying for books or films or comics or video games. They’re paying for IP. I want to fully own my IP again. Now, obviously, I’m not talking about the properties I’ve worked on for others — stuff like Aliens, Doctor Who, The X-Files and all of the Marvel and DC Comics stuff. That’s somebody else’s IP and I was paid to play with it. But I’ve got over fifty books and over three hundred short stories of my own. Why should somebody else get a cut of those profits and a share of the ownership when the technology and infrastructure exists for me to produce them myself and get them into stores and the hands of readers?

And I should stress, I have a great relationship with most of my current publishers. But when I reached out to each of them individually and told them this was the direction I wanted to go, they all understood. They get it. This is what’s best for my remaining years, and for my sons.

And that’s what it comes down to, really. My sons. I turn fifty-five this week, and while I’m in relatively good health (despite the misadventures of my first fifty years), I can also hear that mortality clock ticking. I don’t plan on leaving yet, but most of us don’t really get a say in that, you know? Surprises happen. When I’m gone, I don’t want the executor of my literary estate having to chase down royalty checks from twenty different sources, and I don’t want my sons to have to share my intellectual property with a bunch of other people. By bringing everything in house, they’ll have total control over all of that.

(4) CENSORING FOR POWER. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Washington Post, YA sf writer David Levithan, who PEN America rates as the 11th most censored author in the US, says censorship ultimately won’t prevail and supporters of free expression will win. “Standing up to the new censorship”.

… What I’ve come to believe, as I’ve talked to authors and librarians and teachers, is that attacks are less and less about the actual books. We’re being used as targets in a much larger proxy war. The goal of that war isn’t just to curtail intellectual freedom but to eviscerate the public education system in this country. Censors are scorching the earth, without care for how many kids get burned. Racism and homophobia are still very much present, but it’s also a power grab, a money grab. The goal for many is a for-profit, more authoritarian and much less diverse culture, one in which truth is whatever you’re told it is, your identity is determined by its acceptability and the past is a lie that the future is forced to emulate. The politicians who holler and post and draw up their lists of “harmful” books aren’t actually scared of our books. They are using our books to scare people….

(5) AGE OF EMPIRES AGING WELL. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times, Chris Allnutt discusses a tournament for Age Of Empires II, first released in 1999, with a $200,000 prize and how older games still get big prizes at tournaments.

It is, by and large, older titles–those that have had longer to build a competitive scene and tweak their game mechanics–that dominate the most lucrative tournament rosters.  Data 2 continues to top the table for e-sports prize money, with about $48 million up for grabs in 2021, eight years after its initial release.  Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (2022) and League Of Legends (2009) earned players $21 million and $8 million respectively.  That’s nearly a third of all 2021’s prize money.

As a franchise, Age Of Empires speaks particularly well to the penchant for nostalgia. The series has spawned four games in total, with Age Of Empires IV released last year. But the second game still boasts the higher player count on Steam.

(6) FINAL WRITE-A-THON RESULTS. The Clarion Workshop Write-a-Thon raised $6,713.34 this year. The majority of the funds will go to scholarships for the Clarion Class of 2023. Forty-four writers participated in the Thon this year.

(7) HAVE A CUPPA. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] Here is a nice article from Stewart A. Shearer about the rise of cozy fantasy: “Orcs, Coffee, and the Rise of Cozy Fantasy” at Side Quest.

… While [Travis] Baldree wrote Legends & Lattes for his own satisfaction, the book has still gone on to be a genuine hit. Even months later, it’s holding strong in some of Amazon’s most competitive fiction markets. It’s currently the 19th most popular book on the retail giant’s competitive Romantic Fantasy list. It’s also number five in the LGBQT+ Fantasy category.

If there’s one place where its influence has been most deeply felt, however, it’s the realm of “cozy fantasy.”

Inspired directly by Legends & Lattes, enthusiastic readers established the CozyFantasy community on Reddit. Since its inception in May 2022, r/CozyFantasy has added more than 5,000 subscribing members. The community sees hundreds of posts  every week from people sharing reviews, looking for recommendations, and eager to chat about their favorite works from the sub-genre.…

(8) PYTHON ALUM PALIN’S NEW BOOK. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times, Sir Michael Palin discusses his newest book, Into Iraq, which also is part of a series that was broadcast on Channel 5 beginning on September 20.

In September 2019 I went into Bart’s Hospital in London for open-heart surgery (during which a mitral valve was repaired and an aortic valve replaced0, but within a few months I was feeling not only better but bolder too, and looking at my atlas again with a renewed confidence. Before I could rush to the nearest airport, however, the world hit the pause button.  Airports emptied and the world fell silent…

…On a bright morning, we gathered outside the Rixos hotel in the town of Duhok.  “Candle In The Wind’ was playing in the lift as I checked in the previous night, and ‘Hey Jude’ as I sat down to breakfast.  Shielded from the road by blast barriers, we were briefed by James Willcox, whose company Untamed Borders socializes n taking people to places most other people don’t want to go.  Standing beside him was Peter, ex-army, accompanying us as security and medical escort.  No one suggested that he was here because I was so old, but I couldn’t help sensing that he was keeping an eye on me.  I, in turn, was determined to pretend I was 29, not 78.

If you want a signed copy, Palin will happily send you one through his website.

(9) TOM MADDOX HEALTH UPDATE. Tom Maddox’s wife Mary told his Facebook followers he’s had a stroke:

Tom is in the hospital (ICU) after having a severe stroke. He is unconcious and may not wake up the doctors say at present. The doctor told me if he lives he will go to a nursing home for critical care. I am beyond grief stricken and am going everyday to the hospital and he is restless but when I am there he sleeps peacefully.

(10) TOM CHMIELEWSKI (1952-2022). Science fiction writer Tom Chmielewski died in June at the age of 70. The family obituary is here.

He worked in the field of journalism beginning in 1975, and worked at the Kalamazoo Gazette from 1987-1997. After leaving the Gazette, he worked as a part-time instructor at WMU; started a monthly publication called Great Lakes Stage, which covered theatre in the Midwest; and served as editor of Trains.com, an online publication based in Milwaukee that covered model railroading, one of his passions.

He was a member of the Clarion workshop class of 1984. He served as Treasurer to the Clarion Foundation from 2016-2022, where he did tremendous work behind-the-scenes for the Foundation, including supporting their Thon fundraiser for numerous years.

He published his first novel Lunar Dust, Martian Sands in 2014 through his company, TEC Publishing, followed by two more novels in his Mars trilogy, Rings of Fire and Ice (2018), and The Silent Siege of Mars (2019). He created and released an audio drama, “Shalbatana Solstice,” a prequel to his first novel, that was later broadcast by the BBC.

Chmielewski is survived by his brothers and sisters-in-law, four nieces and a nephew, and his former wife, Susan Lackey.

Contributions may be made to the Tom Chmielewski Memorial Fund, which is designated for older writers who wish to attend Clarion, set up in his honor by the Clarion Foundation. To make a donation, go to theclarionfoundation.org (if donating online, designate your contribution for Tom’s fund by sending an email to [email protected] You may also mail a check made out to The Clarion Foundation to 716 Salvatierra St., Stanford, CA 94305-1020.)

(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.  

1987 [By Cat Eldridge.] Thirty-five years ago, what might indeed be the sweetest damn film ever released premiered today in The Princess Bride. Yes, I’m biased. 

Based off the exemplary novel of fourteen years previously by William Goldman who adapted in the film here, I need not detain the story here as I know there’s not a single individual here who’s not familiar with it. If there is anyone here with that hole in their film education, why are you reading this? 

It’s streaming on Disney + right now and you can rent it pretty much everywhere. Go and then come back here! 

It’s a very sweet love story, it’s a send-up of classic adventure tales, it’s a screwball comedy, it’s a, well, it’s a lot of things done absolutely perfectly. Did I mention sword fights? Well I should.

I fell in love with The Princess Bride when Grandfather played by Peter Falk repeated these lines from the novel: “That’s right. When I was your age, television was called books. And this is a special book. It was the book my father used to read to me when I was sick, and I used to read it to your father. And today, I’m gonna read it to you.” A film about a book. Cool!

Yes, they shortened the title of book which was The Princess Bride: S. Morgenstern’s Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure, The “Good Parts” Version. But unwieldy for a film. Though a stellar book title indeed. 

There are very few films that successfully adapt a book exactly as it written. (Not looking at you the first version of Dune or Starship Troopers.) The only one I’ve seen that did was Like Water for Chocolate off the novel by Laura Esquivel. That Goldman wrote the script obviously was essential and the cast which you know by heart so I’ll not detail here were stellar in their roles certainly made a difference.

Rob Reiner was without doubt the director for it and the interviews with him have indicated his love for the novel.

That it won a Hugo at Nolacon II was I think predestined. I won’t say it magical, no I take that back, in many ways it was magical. And I think that it was by far the best film that year. My opinion, yours of course might well be different.

Only six percent of the audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes don’t like it. Ponder that. 

Deluxe one-sixth scale figures of the cast members are starting to be released. You can stage your own version of the film. 

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 25, 1919 Betty Ballantine. With her husband Ian, she created Bantam Books in 1945 and established Ballantine Books seven years later. They won one special World Fantasy Award for professional work in 1975 and another one shared with Joy Chant et al for The High Kings which is indeed an amazing work. ISFDB lists just one novel for her, The Secret Oceans, which I’ve not read. Who here done so? (Died 2019.)
  • Born September 25, 1930 Shel Silverstein. Not sure how he is SFF but ISFDB lists him as such for his Every Thing On It collection and a handful of aptly named poems, and I’m more than thrilled to list him under Birthday Honors. I’m fond of his poetry collection Where the Sidewalk Ends and will also note here A Light in the Attic if only because it’s been on “oh my we must ban it now attempts” all too often. So what do you think is genre by him? (Died 1999.)
  • Born September 25, 1932 J. Hunter HollyHer various book dedications showed she had a strong love of cats. I’ve not encountered her novels but she wrote a fair number of them including ten genre novels plus The Assassination Affair, a novel in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. franchise. Only The Flying Eyes novel by her is available from the usual digital suspects. (Died 1982.)
  • Born September 25, 1946 Felicity Kendal, 76. She plays Lady Clemency Eddison in the the Tenth Doctor story, “The Unicorn and The Wasp”, one of my favorite Who tales which I reviewed at Green Man here. She recently played Baroness Ortsey in the new Pennyworth series. And though it’s definitely really not genre, I’m noting her role in Shakespeare-Wallah, story of a family troupe of English actors in India, just because it’s a fascinating story.
  • Born September 25, 1951 Mark Hamill, 71. OK, I’ll confess that my favorite role of his is voicing The Joker in the DC Universe. He started doing this way back on Batman: The Animated Series and has even done so on other such series as well. Pure comic evilness! Oh, and did you know he voices Chucky in the new Child’s Play film? Now that’s really, really creepy. 
  • Born September 25, 1952 Christopher Reeve. Superman in the Superman film franchise. He appeared in the Smallville series as Dr. Swann in the episodes “Rosetta” and “Legacy”. His Muppet Show appearance has him denying to Miss Piggy that he’s Superman though he displayed those superpowers throughout that entire episode. (Died 2004.)
  • Born September 25, 1977 Clea DuVall, 45. A long genre history if we include horror (and I most gleefully do) — Little Witches, Sleeping Beauties, Ghosts of Mars and How to Make a Monster. Series appearances include Buffy the Vampire Slayer, a main role on Carnivàle as Sofie Agnesh Bojakshiya (loved that series), a recurring role as Audrey Hanson on Heroes, and though we didn’t see it, she was in the unsold television pilot for the never to be Virtuality series as Sue Parsons, she had a recurring role in American Horror Story: Asylum as Wendy Peyser, and finally another recurring role in The Handmaid’s Tale as Sylvia.
  • Born September 25, 1983 Donald Glover, 39. A cast member of Community as Troy Barnes, a series that is least genre adjacent. His first genre appearance is in The Muppets film as a junior CDE executive. He also appeared in a season 43 episode of Sesame Street as famous musician LMNOP. And then there’s the minor matter of being in Solo: A Star Wars Story as someone called Lando Calrissian, Spider-Man: Homecoming as Aaron Davis and then voicing Simba in The Lion King. Not bad at all.

(13) COMICS SECTION.

  • The Flying McCoys shows Superman trying to come up with a new theme song.
  • Sally Forth shows why it’s hard to decide which super-power to wish for.
  • Dilbert is told how he can help robot sales.

(14) CROSSING SPACE VIA WINDMILL. Literary Hub invites you to “Watch the first episode of a forgotten 1970 TV adaptation of Don Quixote . . . set in space.”

For about two months in 1970, ITV aired episodes of a bonkers science fiction comedy series based (oh so very loosely) on Miguel de Cervantes’ literary classic Don Quixote. The show, entitled The Adventures of Don Quick, follows an astronaut named Don Quick (Ian Hendry) and his sidekick, Sam Czopanser (Ronald Lacey), who are part of an “Intergalactic Maintenance Squad” that sends them, each episode, to try to “maintain” or otherwise improve alien planets—which usually do not at all need their help, and whose citizens range from bemused to quite irritated by the intrusion.

Fun fact: Angela Carter, the queen of feminist fairy tales herself, was once commissioned by ITV to write the script for an episode of the show, which was (alas!) never produced….

(15) LEAP YEARS. “’Quantum Leap’ revival to address Sam’s leap into Magic” reports SYFY Wire.

Did you know the character played by Ernie Hudson in NBC’s Quantum Leap revival goes back more than 30 years within the world of the show?

Herbert “Magic” Williams first appeared in the original iteration of the series in the 1990 episode entitled “The Leap Home, Part II,” where Dr. Sam Beckett (Scott Bakula) travels back to the days of the Vietnam War, leaping into the body of Herbert “Magic” Williams, who served in the same Navy SEALs platoon as Sam’s older brother, Tom.

This will actually be addressed by Williams in the fourth episode of the revamp. “[Magic] does explain, from his point-of-view, that leap,” showrunner and executive producer Martin Gero (Blindspot) teased during a recent interview with TVLine. “Ernie [Hudson] gives this phenomenal monologue. It’s so beautiful. It might be my favorite scene of this first chunk [of episodes]. It’s really, really special.” He also went on to tease an adventure in the Old West — circa the 1870s — come Episode 5. “We’re telling some stories that have not been told about the West, and that is very exciting for us.”

(16) HOLMES ON THE RANGE. “Millie Bobby Brown’s Detective Service Is Open for Business in ‘Enola Holmes 2’ Trailer”. Yahoo! cues up the film —

…Poor Enola is still facing down misogynist creeps in this new trailer. After opening her very own detective agency, people are still uncertain of her crime-solving abilities. Cut the girl some slack! Hasn’t she gone through enough? Still, folks beg to be assigned to her older brother Sherlock (Henry Cavill), reliant on his wits instead of hers.

“While I have not a single case, Sherlock’s latest seems to be vexing him,” Enola tells us. Cut to Sherlock playing a sad violin, panicking over his inability to crack the case.

Not only does Enola have a sad big bro to fix, she does have a big case to prove herself as a professional sleuth….

(17) REVISIT AN EIGHTIES OPEN FILK SESSION. Fanac.org has posted video from when Julia Ecklar was the special filk guest at Tropicon 8, held in Dania, Florida, in 1989. This recording captures the second part of an open filk at the convention, and includes 11 songs (of which Julia sings seven). 

The singers in order of appearance are: Julia Ecklar, Linda Melnick, Dina Pearlman, C.J. Cherryh, Francine Mullen, and Doug Wu.

This includes much of the conversation between songs, the laughter and the real feel of a 1980s convention filk session. 

One lovely addition is that Linda Melnick signs on one of the songs, as well as sings. 

Another bonus – this video includes several songs by Orion’s Belt, which consisted of Dina Pearlman, Francine Mullen and Doug Wu. 

Tropicon was a small convention, and you will see some of the author guests in the filk. That’s Tropicon 8 GoH Lynn Abbey sitting next to C.J. Cherryh for example, and Joe Green sitting back against the wall…

Thanks to Eli Goldberg for sound editing on this recording and for the details in the song listing. 

(18) WORRIES. Some say this is feminist sf in the vein of The Stepford Wives“Don’t Worry Darling”.

Alice (Pugh) and Jack (Styles) are lucky to be living in the idealized community of Victory, the experimental company town housing the men who work for the top-secret Victory Project and their families. The 1950’s societal optimism espoused by their CEO, Frank (Pine)—equal parts corporate visionary and motivational life coach—anchors every aspect of daily life in the tight-knit desert utopia. While the husbands spend every day inside the Victory Project Headquarters, working on the “development of progressive materials,” their wives—including Frank’s elegant partner, Shelley (Chan)—get to spend their time enjoying the beauty, luxury and debauchery of their community. Life is perfect, with every resident’s needs met by the company. All they ask in return is discretion and unquestioning commitment to the Victory cause. But when cracks in their idyllic life begin to appear, exposing flashes of something much more sinister lurking beneath the attractive façade, Alice can’t help questioning exactly what they’re doing in Victory, and why. Just how much is Alice willing to lose to expose what’s really going on in this paradise? An audacious, twisted and visually stunning psychological thriller, “Don’t Worry Darling” is a powerhouse feature from director Olivia Wilde that boasts intoxicating performances from Florence Pugh and Harry Styles, surrounded by the impressive and pitch-perfect cast.

(19) GLASS ONION NEWS. Rian Johnson introduces a clip from his sequel to Knives Out – “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery — Exclusive Clip”.

(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Trailers: Nope,” the Screen Junkies, in a spoiler-packed episode, says that Jordan Peele is one of the few directors trying to preserve cinema “in a world dominated by corporate IP.”  Daniel Kaluuya is “the oldest young man ever” and Nope is “an old-fashioned Black cowboy movie.”  But while Peele is geeky enough he has an Akira reference as an Easter egg, much of the film shows “we’re so emotionally stunted that we can only process trauma through old SNL references.”

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

Pixel Scroll 9/17/22 The Last Scroll Title On Earth Sat Alone In A Room

(1) JAYMEE GOH ANTHOLOGY HAS EKPEKI STORY. Don’t Touch That, an anthology about parenting edited by Jaymee Goh, was released this week. It includes Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki’s latest short story “Mother’s Love, Father’s Place”. He says, “It’s a historical fantasy story set in southern Nigeria and touches on the killing of Twins in Calabar & how it ended. (spoiler, not by Mary Slessor).”

(2) NO TURNING BACK! The New Yorker remembers “The Enduring Allure of Choose Your Own Adventure Books”.

You were a girl who wanted to choose your own adventures. Which is to say, you were a girl who never had adventures. You always followed the rules. But, when you ate an entire sleeve of graham crackers and sank into the couch with a Choose Your Own Adventure book, you got to imagine that you were getting into trouble in outer space, or in the future, or under the sea. You got to make choices every few pages: Do you ask the ghost about her intentions, or run away? Do you rebel against the alien overlords, or blindly obey them?

This was the late eighties in Los Angeles. You binged on these books, pulling tattered sun-bleached copies from your bookshelf: four, five, six in the course of a single afternoon. All over the country, all over the world, other kids were pulling these books from their bookshelves, too. The series has sold more than two hundred and seventy million copies since its launch, in 1979. It’s the fourth-best-selling children’s-book series of all time. Its popularity peaked in the eighties, but the franchise still sells about a million books a year….

The story of Choose Your Own Adventure is largely the tale of two men: Edward Packard, a lawyer who came up with the concept while telling bedtime stories to his two daughters (who sometimes wanted the protagonist to do different things), and R. A. (Ray) Montgomery, an independent publisher who put out Packard’s first book, in 1976, after all the big houses had rejected it….

Both men went through divorces shortly before the series started gaining momentum, and ended up writing many of their books as single fathers. Their children remember helping their fathers invent and flesh out new scenarios: Packard’s daughter Andrea suggested the idea of a time-travelling cave; Montgomery’s sons, Anson and Ramsey, suggested cars (the Saab 900 Turbo, the Lancia Stratos) for “The Race Forever.” Packard paid his children thirty-five cents an hour to read his manuscripts and offer feedback: Which parts were boring? Which choices would kids enjoy? (Andrea, Anson, and Ramsey ended up writing for the franchise, publishing their first Choose books during college.)…

(3) INTERIOR LIFE OF THE ARTIST. Melissa Capriglione is “just journaling some thoughts” – that we probably can all relate to in our own way.

(4) RECIDIVIST. Bob Roehm posted a clever photo on Facebook taken after he was apprehended with a banned book – Fahrenheit 451 – at Carmichael’s Bookstore in Louisville, KY.  

(5) THE DNA OF THE DEATH STAR. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] The San Francisco Chronicle looks at how John Dysktra built the Death Star in Star Wars based on his work in 1972 building a realistic model of Berkeley. “This obscure Bay Area study shaped the ending of ‘Star Wars’”.

The newly released six-part Disney Plus streaming docuseries “Light & Magic” goes deep into the history of George Lucas’ San Francisco-based special effects studio Industrial Light & Magic, which was founded in 1975. The ending of the second episode explores the process behind the Death Star scene, in which the fate of the Rebel Alliance hangs on Luke Skywalker’s ability to speed his X-wing through a narrow trench and blast a thermal exhaust port that is only 2 meters wide.

In reality, the entire surface of the Death Star was a hand-built model that measured approximately 15 by 40 feet. Meticulous craftsmanship contributed to the verisimilitude, but the documentary reveals that the filmmaking techniques that made the scene feel so real are actually rooted outside the realm of special effects. It turns out that the entire sequence hinged on a model developed during an urban planning study at UC Berkeley in the early 1970s, which also happened to shape the future of San Francisco’s skyline.

“The Berkeley Experiment,” as it is referred to in the documentary, was funded by the National Science Foundation and led by urban planning professor Donald Appleyard at the school’s Environmental Simulation Lab. Completed in 1972, the project entailed building a small-scale model of Marin County and a computer-controlled stop-motion 16 mm camera system. The goal was to achieve a sense of realism as a model car traversed the miniature cityscape, in hopes that the technique could guide civic decision-making regarding construction choices. …

An archival photo of the UC Berkeley Environmental Simulation Laboratory.

(6) ATTACK OF THE 50-YEAR-OLD CONVENTION. Rob Hansen draws on contemporary reports by Fred Pohl, Rob Holdstock, Sam Long, Bob Shaw and many others to reconstruct the events of “Chessmancon (1972)”. Many photos, too, including GoH Larry Niven giving a physics lecture?

CHESSMANCON, the twenty-third post-war UK National Science Fiction Convention, took place over the weekend of Friday, 31st March to Monday, 3rd April 1972. Named for both its location (Chester) and the city (Manchester) from whose Delta Group most of those organising it were drawn, CHESSMANCON was the fourth MANCON, the others being MANCON, SUPERMANCON, and THIRDMANCON.

…Presumably because of its name, the organisers of CHESSMANCON decided to include a chess tournament. Sadly, I don’t think SUPERMANCON made any reference to Clark Kent, or THIRDMANCON any reference to Harry Lime. So far as I’m aware, CHESSMANCON is the only con to be named after *two* cities.

And here’s another excerpt —

BOB SHAW:

I suppose that in what purports to be a con report one should make some mention of the official programme. Regrettably, I have a tendency to go to conventions and not see any of the programme items, but this doesn’t mean that the programme isn’t important to me. I like to be near the programme and let it induce currents in me, a coil of nerves in the vicinity of the con hall’s electromagnetic field. Some other fans feel the same way (I won’t name any names) and it is pleasant to sit with them in the bar, speculating on what is actually happening in the hall and listening to fragmentary reports from runners – “George Hay has got up to ask a question”, “The projector has broken down”, “There’s been an outbreak of sporran rash among the Scottish fans”, “George Hay is still asking his question”….

(7) RAMMING SPEED. Science is watching as “NASA’s asteroid deflection mission takes aim”.

On 26 September, an act of targeted violence will unfold 11 million kilometers from  Earth,  as  a  spacecraft  about  the size  of  a  vending  machine  smashes into a small asteroid at 6 kilometers per   second.   Unlike   some   asteroids that stray worrisomely close to Earth’s orbit, Dimorphos—the 160-meter moon of a larger body—is  an  innocent  bystander,  posing  no threat to our world. But the looming assault represents humanity’s first-ever field test of a planetary defense mission: NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test, or DART. The  hope  is  that  the  collision  will  nudge Dimorphos  toward  its  780-meter  partner, Didymos,  shortening  a  nearly  12-hour  orbital period by minutes. A successful strike would support the idea that, in the future, similar efforts could deflect threatening asteroids onto safer courses. But simulations and lab experiments show the fate of the mission  depends  on  a  crucial  question: Are  such  small  asteroids  solid  boulders or—as astronomers increasingly believe—loose heaps of rubble?…

(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.  

1964 [By Cat Eldridge.] Bewitched premiered on ABC fifty-eight years ago this evening.

Creator Sol Saks’ said his basis for this series were I Married a Witch,  the 1942 film that came from Thorne Smith’s unfinished novel The Passionate Witch, and the John Van Druten Broadway play Bell, Book and Candle, which was adapted into the 1958 film. Yes, both films were properties of Columbia Pictures, which also owned Screen Gems, which also produced Bewitched.

The show was popular, finishing as the second-rated show in America during its debut season, staying in the top ten for its first three seasons, and ranking in eleventh place for both seasons four and five.

It starred, as you well know, Elizabeth Montgomery as Samantha Stephens, Dick York for the first, and Dick Sargent for the rest of the series, as Darrin Stephens. Agnes Moorehead as Endora was really the only other ongoing character. 

Look I need no SPOILER ALERTS here as y’all know the characters, the setting and the story. I bet everyone here has seen some or all of it. 

Historical note here.

Series director William Asher started rehearsals for the pilot on November 22, 1963 which of course coincided with President Kennedy’s assassination.  He felt deeply affected by the event as he personally knew Kennedy — he had produced the 1962 televised birthday party where Marilyn Monroe sang “Happy Birthday, Mr. President”.

End historical note. Back to the series.

The Stephens house, inside and out, was inspired by a location used in two Gidget movies. Gidget was filmed in 1959 at a real house at 267 18th Street in Santa Monica. The blueprints of this house were later reversed and replicated as a house facade attached to an existing garage on the backlot of Columbia’s Ranch. This was the house seen on Bewitched

Then, the patio and living room sets seen in Columbia’s Gidget Goes to Rome (1963) were adapted as the permanent Bewitched set for 1964. (At least some episodes of I Dream of Jeannie also were filmed using this interior set which makes sense as it’s the same production company. Using material from one series or film on another is very, very economical.) 

Bewitched lasted eight seasons and two hundred fifty episodes. Both the opening and closing animated credits were produced by Hanna-Barbera. Naturally they are on YouTube.

No, I’m not mentioning or discussing the reboot. I’m really not.

As near as I can tell, Bewitched is only streaming for free, errr, on Freevee. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 17, 1885 George Cleveland. He was Professor Hensley aboard the Thirties Flash Gordon film serial. IMDb says that he was supposed be in 1938’s Flash Gordon’s Trip To Mars, but his bits ended up not being in the film. (Died 1957.)
  • 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, 1917 Art Widner. 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 2015.)
  • Born September 17, 1920 Dinah Sheridan. She was Chancellor Flavia in “The Five Doctors”, a Doctor Who story that brought together the First, Second, Third, Fourth and Fifth Doctors. Richard Hurndall portrayed the First Doctor, as the character’s original actor, William Hartnell, had died. (Died 2012.)
  • Born September 17, 1920 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 voices Jervis Tetch / The Mad Hatter in Batman: The Animated Series. And where’s a treat for you. Here he is on The Carol Burnett Show wearing his Planet of the Apes makeup. (Died 1998.)
  • Born September 17, 1939 Sandra Gimpel, 83. Performer and stunt woman. Though you’ll literally not recognize her, she was the salt monster aka the M-113 creature (as it was called in the credits) in “The Man Trap” episode of the original Trek. In “The Cage” episode, she played a Talosian. As a stunt woman, she’s been on genre shows ranging from Lost in Space to Lucifer and even appeared on films like Escape from New York
  • Born September 17, 1950 Roger Stern, 72. 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, 1979 Neill Blomkamp, 43. 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.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Close to Home’s joke probably really isn’t about the first thing that came to my mind.
  • Lio today is a real sinus friction story.

(11) NEW SUPERHERO CASTING CONTROVERSY. “With an Israeli Superhero, Marvel Wades Into an Intractable Conflict” reports the New York Times.

It was the latest addition to a fantasy world populated by an ever-growing cast of superheroes and villains: Marvel Studios announced this past week that it had cast the Israeli actress Shira Haas to play Sabra, a mutant Israeli police officer-turned-Mossad agent, in the next installment of the “Captain America” franchise.

While Jewish Israelis rejoiced at the casting of an actress from Israel as a superhero in a major Hollywood production (“Israeli Pride,” declared the Hebrew news site Maariv), the backlash among Palestinians and their supporters was swift, and #CaptainApartheid soon appeared on social media.

Many critics expressed outrage about Sabra’s character and her identity as an Israeli intelligence agent, accusing Marvel of buying into Zionist propaganda; of ignoring, or supporting, Israel’s occupation of territory captured in 1967; and of dehumanizing Palestinians….

(12) HE CAN DO IT! Paul Weimer takes up the challenge of reviewing the latest entry in a long-running series: “Microreview [book]: The Untold Story by Genevieve Cogman” at Nerds of a Feather.

How does one really review the 8th(!) book in a series and make that review intelligible to readers who have never read any of the books, and yet helpful to readers both old and new alike. This is the situation where I find myself talking about Genevieve Cogman’s The Untold Story, eighth in her Invisible Library novels. 

I’ll start by saying that the Invisible Library novels, which the first was published in 2016, were multiverse before the multiverse was the new hotness. Imagine a multiverse of worlds , aligned on an order-chaos spectrum a la Moorcock. Imagine these worlds taking cues from Earth cultures and societies.  Imagine two sets of superhuman beings–Dragons, representing order, and Fae, representing chaos, struggling for control and domination of these worlds.  Now imagine a third power, a third party, the Library, seeking to stabilize the worlds, and collect books from all of them at the same time.   

Irene Winters is one of these interdimensional Librarians. Her previous adventures have had her tangle with a traitor to the library (Alberich, more on him anon) deal with both Fae and Dragon politics (her first assistant is a Dragon, and her newest apprentice is a Fae) and visit a variety of worlds in places inspired by Venice, Vienna, New York, and more….

(13) SHE DREAMS OF GENIE. Nerds of a Feather film reviewer Arturo Serrano says it is no easy task to convey the feelings roused by this movie: “Love is a freely chosen yoke in ‘Three Thousand Years of Longing’”. But he does!

When one encounters an impeccably beautiful work of art, the attempt to explain it feels like a desecration. Three Thousand Years of Longing is that kind of art that you’re meant to experience more than understand. It does follow a plot, and the plot does make arguments, but to dissect those arguments risks losing sight of the experience. I can’t properly communicate to you the emotional content of this story. What I can try to do is describe what happens in it, but I will fall short of conveying all it says. This is one of those films that leave you permanently changed, and the only way for that secret alchemy to happen is to go yourself to the theater and let it wash over you….

(14) FIFTY YEARS LATER. Totally not sff, but a fascinating interview with insights about screenwriting: “Alan Alda on ‘M*A*S*H’: ‘Everybody Had Something Taken From Them’” in the New York Times.

Were there story lines that you thought “M*A*S*H” hadn’t quite tackled yet that you wanted to bring into the world of the show as a writer and director?

When I wrote, I tried to find out a little bit more about each of the characters. Who is Klinger [Jamie Farr] really? What was underneath — I almost said, what was underneath the dresses. [Laughs.] What was underneath the wearing of the dresses? Who was Margaret [Loretta Swit]?

I see on the internet that people assumed that because I was politically active, trying to get the Equal Rights Amendment passed, that in my writing I was trying to make political points, too. And I wasn’t. I really don’t like writing that passes as entertainment when it’s really propaganda. I want to hear a human story.

(15) EARLY CLUES. Jess Nevins writes about the history of Chinese detective fiction at CrimeReads: “Pre-Revolution Chinese Detective Fiction”.

Mysteries and detective fiction are usually thought of as the inventions of Edgar Allan Poe, but the truth is that they have both been popular in China for over a thousand years. The Chinese have no clear place or person of origin for mysteries and detective fiction, the way the West has Poe, but what the Chinese do have are centuries’ more mysteries and detective stories than the West does.

The first Chinese proto-mysteries—that is, mysteries who some but not all of the elements of modern mystery fiction—were the “gong’an” (“court case”) stories. Told in the form of oral performances and puppetry shows, the gong’an began appearing during the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127). Gong’an traditionally featured incorruptible government officials solving criminal cases and bringing about justice to the guilty and restoration to those who were wronged…. 

(16) CAME TO THE WORLD IN THE USUAL WAY. CNN invites everyone to “Meet the mystery diamond from outer space”.

Scientists have debated its existence. Tiny traces provided clues. Now, researchers have confirmed the existence of a celestial diamond after finding it on Earth’s surface.

The stone, called lonsdaleite, has a hardness and strength that exceeds that of a regular diamond. The rare mineral arrived here by way of a meteorite, new research has suggested….

The revelation started to unfold when geologist Andy Tomkins, a professor at Monash University in Australia, was out in the field categorizing meteorites. He came across a strange “bended” kind of diamond in a space rock in Northwest Africa, said study coauthor Alan Salek, a doctoral student and researcher at RMIT University in Australia.

Tomkins theorized the meteorite that held the lonsdaleite came from the mantle of a dwarf planet that existed about 4.5 billion years, Salek said.

“The dwarf planet was then catastrophically struck by an asteroid, releasing pressure and leading to the formation of these really strange diamonds,” he added.

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Alasdair Beckett-King explains why you should be nice to the annoying little guy with a squeaky voice who offers to show you a fantasy world!

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