Pixel Scroll 1/17/23 A Stone Soup Of Pixels Served Up With Buttered Toasted Scrolls

(1) PLAYING THE TRUMPS. “Stephen Colbert to Produce ‘Chronicles of Amber’ TV Series Adaptation” reports Variety.

Stephen Colbert is joining the team that is adapting Roger Zelazny’s “The Chronicles of Amber” for television [under his Spartina production banner].

… “George R.R. Martin and I have similar dreams,” Colbert said. “I’ve carried the story of Corwin in my head for over 40 years, and I’m thrilled to partner with Skybound and Vincent Newman to bring these worlds to life. All roads lead to Amber, and I’m happy to be walking them.”

“The Chronicles of Amber” follows the story of Corwin, who is said to “awaken on Earth with no memory, but soon finds he is a prince of a royal family that has the ability to travel through different dimensions of reality (called ‘shadows’) and rules over the one true world, Amber.”…

(2) MORE LORE. Season 3 of The Mandalorian airs 3 March 1 on Disney+.

The journeys of the Mandalorian through the Star Wars galaxy continue. Once a lone bounty hunter, Din Djarin has reunited with Grogu. Meanwhile, the New Republic struggles to lead the galaxy away from its dark history. The Mandalorian will cross paths with old allies and make new enemies as he and Grogu continue their journey together.

And according to Dark Horizons:

…A fourth season of the series is already in development, whilst this arrives ahead of both “Star Wars: Ahsoka” and “Star Wars: Skeleton Crew”, both due to arrive on the Disney+ service later this year. Filming on “Star Wars: The Acolyte” and a second season of “Star Wars: Andor” are both underway in the UK at present….

(3) SIMULTANEOUS TIMES. Simultaneous Times SF podcast episode 59 has been released. Listen to it here. Stories featured in this episode:

  • “Three to Go” by Ria Rees. Music by Phog Masheeen. Read by Jean-Paul Garnier 
  • “Ghosts” by Michael Butterworth. Music by Julie Carpenter. Read by the author.

Simultaneous Times is a monthly science fiction podcast produced by Space Cowboy Books in Joshua Tree, CA.

(4) FIFTIETH DAY OF HARPERCOLLINS STRIKE TOMORROW. Supporters of the strike against HarperCollins will rally January 18. Publishers Weekly has details: “HarperCollins Union Plans Rally at News Corp Offices in Manhattan”.

As unionized employees at HarperCollins Publishers prepare to mark their 50th day on strike next week, union representatives announced that a rally is planned outside the publisher’s parent company, News Corp, in Manhattan at 12:30 p.m. on January 18. Since November 10 of last year, labor negotiations between the union and company executives have been stalled, and union representatives are hoping to put pressure on the publisher to return to the bargaining table.

Local 2110 of the UAW represents more than 250 HarperCollins employees in editorial, sales, publicity, design, legal, and marketing departments. Union representatives said negotiations have stalled over higher pay, a greater commitment to diversifying staff, and stronger union protection. Negotiations started in December 2021 and unionized employees have been working without a contract since April 2022….

(5) WRITE WHAT YOU KNOW, THEY SAY. [Item by Bill Higgins.] Kenneth Hite, a Chicago author, game designer, and podcaster, was shot in the leg last week by armed robbers near his Hyde Park home.  Fortunately, he’s going to be fine.  Furthermore, he sold an account of the experience to the UK magazine The Spectator.  Because Ken Hite is a true professional. “Trigger warning: how it feels to get shot”.

… But at 3.10 a.m. on Friday, I was walking home from a late-night writing session at a colleague’s apartment a block from my house. (I work as a games designer.) A car pulled up, and two guys with guns jumped out and aggressively requested my 2014 MacBook Air.

I wish I could say I carefully considered whether my life was worth more than a nine-year-old computer and (more importantly) a manuscript I hadn’t backed up, but I acted without thinking and ran. After six or seven shots, I felt a hard thump on the back of my right calf. Then the two geniuses remembered that stuff about the third-largest armed force in Illinois, jumped back into their car and tore off. I counted my blessings and let myself into my house.

It was then that I noticed an awful lot of blood on the floor around my foot. The gunshots had, it turned out, awakened my wife Sheila, who wondered if I knew what had happened. Suddenly I did. ‘I’ve been shot in the leg,’ I told her. She called 911 and both sets of police – University of Chicago and Chicago Police Department – showed up almost immediately. In between questions, one of the cops put a tourniquet on my leg. I’ve heard since that if the tourniquet doesn’t hurt more than the bullet wound, it’s not on tight enough. This one was on tight enough….

(6) COVID STALKS AWARDS SHOWS. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Following the Golden Globe Awards, several celebrities (including some particularly big names) tested positive for COVID. Apparently in response, the Critics Choice Awards instituted a COVID test policy. “Several celebrities test positive for COVID after Golden Globes” at ABC News.

In the wake of the Golden Globes last week, several celebrities said they have tested positive for COVID-19.

At least four stars, including Jamie Lee Curtis and Michelle Pfeiffer, revealed they contracted the virus following the awards show.

In response, the Critics Choice Awards, which was held on Sunday, announced that all attendees would be required to submit a negative COVID-19 test before entering the venue, according to Deadline.

Public health experts said the news of actors and actresses falling ill is not surprising due to the relaxed regulations and people gathering indoors.

(7) MEMORY LANE.

1992 [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]  Mexican food liked you’ve dreamed of

Tonight’s essay concerns Laura Esquivel’s Like Water for Chocolate: A Novel in Monthly Installments with Recipes, Romances, and Home Remedies. It was published by Doubleday in Mexico in 1992 as Como agua para chocolate.  Yes, the English language title is a lot longer.

Perfection Learning published the first edition in 1995. The film actually came out here in 1993 before the book was published here because though shot in Mexico, it had simultaneous English and Spanish language versions. 

So let’s talk about the book. And a magical book it is. Even in the English translation! The original Spanish version, Como agua para chocolat, was the top-selling book in Mexico in 1990. As a work of Latin magical realism, it can’t be topped by any other work to date. I unfortunately don’t know Spanish so I read the English translation which is quite excellent.

Now it’s here because a recurring theme of both the book and the film that came out is is food, which is used to represent all aspects of the vibrant, if troubled, Mexican culture. Hardly a scene goes by without someone eating or preparing a meal, and some of the more tasty chapters/scenes involve truly awesome banquets. Both in the book and in the film, there’s a real feeling that food is more than just something one eats. Food here is a celebration of the helix of life and death, of consuming and being consumed.

It’s is possibly the most erotic film ever made. Truly it is. Even the baking of bread becomes an act of eros. 

Now here’s an exquisite example of the food scenes herein

She felt so lost and lonely. One last chile in walnut sauce left on the platter after a fancy dinner couldn’t feel any worse than she did. How many times had she eaten one of those treats, standing by herself in the kitchen, rather than let it be thrown away. When nobody eats the last chile on the plate, it’s usually because none of them wants to look like a glutton, so even though they’d really like to devour it, they don’t have the nerve to take it. It was as if they were rejecting that stuffed pepper, which contains every imaginable flavor; sweet as candied citron, juicy as pomegranate, with the bit of pepper and the subtlety of walnuts, that marvelous chile in the walnut sauce. Within it lies the secret of love, but it will never be penetrated, and all because it wouldn’t feel proper.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 17, 1899 Nevil Shute. Author of On the Beach. It originally appeared as a four-part series, The Last Days on Earth, in the London weekly Sunday Graphic in April 1957. It was twice a film. He has other SF novels including An Old Captivity which involves time travel and No Highway which gets a review by Pohl in Super Science Stories, April 1949. There’s In the Wet and Vinland the Good as well. (Died 1960.)
  • Born January 17, 1910 Carol Hughes. Genre fans will no doubt best recognize her as Dale Arden in Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe from sixty years ago. Other than The Red Dragon, a Charlie Chan film done in the Forties if I remember correctly, I’m not seeing anything that’s even genre adjacent for her though I’m assuming that the Fifties Ghost Buster short she was in should be a genre production. (Died 1995.)
  • Born January 17, 1927 Eartha Kitt. Though you’ll have lots of folks remembering her as Catwoman from the original Batman, she appeared in but four episodes there. Genre wise, she was in such series as I-SpyMission: ImpossibleMatrix, the animated Space Ghost Coast to Coast and the animated My Life as a Teenage Robot. Film wise, she played Freya in Erik the Viking, voiced Bagheera in The Jungle Book: Mowgli’s Story and was Madame Zeroni In Holes.(Died 2008.)
  • Born January 17, 1931 James Earl Jones, 92. His first SF appearance was in Dr. Strangelove as Lt. Lothar Zogg.  And I think I need not list all his appearances as Darth Vader here. Some genre appearances include Exorcist II: The HereticThe Flight of DragonsConan the Barbarian as Thulsa Doom and I actually remember him in that role, Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold, did you know the 1995 Judge Dredd had a Narrator? Well he’s listed as doing it, and Fantasia 2000 as well. In 2022, his voice was used via software for Darth Vader in the Obi-Wan KenobiDisney+ miniseries. Jones signed a deal with Lucasfilm authorizing archival recordings of his voice to be used in the future to artificially generate the voice of Darth Vader. Jones said later that all Vader voicing would using AI software. 
  • Born January 17, 1935 Paul O. Williams. A poet won the Astounding Award for Best New Writer in 1983 after publishing The Breaking of Northwall and The Ends of the Circle which are the first two novels of his Pelbar Cycle. I’ve not read these, so be interested in your opinions, of course. (Died 2009.)
  • Born January 17, 1962 Jim Carrey, 61. His first genre film is Once Bitten whose content is obvious from its name. The ‘dorable Earth Girls Are Easy was next followed up by Batman Forever in which he played a manic Riddler, then there’s the The Truman Show which stretches genre boundaries I think. May we not talk about How the Grinch Stole Christmas? And is Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind genre?,  who’s seen Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events?, Horton Hears a Who! (FUN!), A Christmas Carol  of which I know nothing, Mr. Popper’s Penguins (well it sounds cute) and, I’m not you, Sonic the Hedgehog. Busy, isn’t he?
  • Born January 17, 1970 Genndy Tartakovsky, 53. Like Romulan Ale, animation style is a matter of taste. So while I like his work on Samurai Jack and Star Wars: Clone Wars, I can understand why many SW fans don’t as it’s definitely an acquired taste.  He also is responsible for directing the animated Hotel Transylvania franchise. 

(9) THE SKY’S THE LIMIT. “Should We Block the Sun to Counter Climate Change?” – an opinion piece in the New York Times.

Last month, a two-person start-up company by the name of Make Sunsets claimed that it had launched weather balloons filled with reflective sulfur particles into the sky somewhere over the coast of Baja California. More provocation than experiment, the launch was a first-of-its-kind field test of a climate intervention known as geoengineering: a branch of speculative technology that promises to counteract and even reverse global warming by altering Earth’s atmosphere.

Long a taboo idea among climate experts thought too dangerous even to research, geoengineering is becoming increasingly mainstream. In 2019, Congress gave the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration $4 million to research techniques like the one Make Sunsets just tested, and it has since drawn interest from the Biden administration.

As the world continues to fall short of the goals of the Paris agreement and the costs of climate change mount, is geoengineering an idea worth taking seriously, or is it a world-historically reckless distraction from the global effort to transition away from fossil fuels? Here’s a look at the debate….

(10) A CELLER’S MARKET. [Item by Christian Brunschen.] A company literally calling themselves “SciFi Foods” are using CRISPR gene editing to develop “scalable beef cell lines” for cultivation — with the CEO claiming inspiration from Ian M. Banks’ The Player of Games. (They’re by far not the only cultivated-meat company out there of course.) “The first CRISPR gene-edited meat is coming. This is the CEO making sci-fi a reality” at Fast Company.

…Cost parity with traditional meat is every founder’s goal, one that sets a seemingly unattainable target. (In 2022, the average price of ground beef was $4.81/lb.) SciFi is betting that the only way to economically scale cultivated meat is with CRISPR, and that by making iterative tweaks they can create dependable cell lines with rich, meat-y flavor. “We have an eventual target of $1 per burger at commercial scale,” March says.

Once harvested, beef cells will be formulated into a blended burger that is mostly like the plant-based burgers you may already know—soy protein and coconut oil. SciFi’s secret sauce is adding a small percentage of SciFi cells (5% to 20%, according to March) to reward our taste buds with the beef-y notes we may think are missing from competitors like Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat. Blood-quickening, salivatory, tempting….

(11) TRIVIAL TRIVIA. The TV adaptation of a Ray Bradbury story, “The Electric Grandmother”, first aired on this day in 1982.

(12) EXTRA CREDIT. Mel Brooks’ History of the World Part 2, “A sequel 40 years in the making.” A four-night event, streaming March 6 on Hulu. John King Tarpinian declares, “I can hardly wait.”

(13) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Honest Trailers — Demolition Man” sends up another Sylvester Stallone science ficton movie.

…One of the few R-rated action sci-fi films that’s remembered more for its clever writing than its shootouts. But kids today will never understand the significance of this movie just like my ex-wife will never understand the significance of the John Spartan mannequin I bought from a Planet Hollywood estate sale….

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, Christian Brunschen, Bill Higgins, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Cat Eldridge.]

Pixel Scroll 1/7/23 Farmers Market In The Sky

(1) IT WASN’T THE HOBBIT. What turned Stephen Colbert into a voracious reader? Science fiction. Specifically, Niven, Asimov, Heinlein, Pohl and more. See “Team Hobbit or Lord of the Rings?” on TikTok.

(2) SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT. Concerning a Slate critic’s claim about Tolkien’s elves, here’s Kalimac’s response from “Ross Douthat writes a fantasy novel”.

…Tolkien’s elves…. only … “essentially good” in the … sense in which they’re broadly good, they’re more good than bad, they aspire to goodness. Read the Silmarillion and you’ll find plenty of elves behaving extremely badly, and a few who are evil the way that Saruman in Lord of the Rings is evil. The reason you don’t find elves like that in Lord of the Rings is that the elves are chastened by their earlier experiences, the ones recounted in the Silmarillion, and aren’t going to make the same mistake again….

(3) SPECULATIVE POETS AT COLLAGE. [Item by Denise Dumars.] Science Fiction and Fantasy fan? Poetry fan? Why not try both together? You will get to do so when members of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association  (SFPA) read their work and discuss the topic at Collage: a place for Art and Culture. You’ll also learn how to join the SFPA and how to find markets for your own poetry in the genres by writers who have published in numerous journals both print and online. Come join us on Sunday, January 15, at 2:00 p.m.. Collage is located at the south end of the Harbor Freeway, at 731 S. Pacific Ave., San Pedro, CA, 90731.   

Speakers:  

  • Wendy Van Camp: Poet Laureate of Anaheim, CA, and Convention Coordinator for the SFPA, Wendy is an award-winning writer who has edited Eye to the Telescope, the online journal of the SFPA, and is currenly nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She edits the Eccentric Orbits series of SF/F poetry anthlogies, and the current issue is nominated for Best Anthology Award. Find her at https://wendyvancamp.com/.  
  • Ashley Dioses: Award winning dark fantasy poet and fiction writer, with books of poetry published by Jackanapes Press and Hippocampus Press, Ashley has been nominated for the Rhysling and Elgin awards for SF/F poetry as well as appearing in such well-known journals as Cemetery Dance and Weirdbook. She blogs at fiendlover.blogspot.com.  
  • Denise Dumars: Columnist for Star* Line, the Journal of the SFPA, and widely published and award-winning poet and short fiction writer, Denise has been a college English instructor and a literary agent. Author of several poetry books and chapbooks, she has been nominated multiple times for the Rhysling, Elgin, and Dwarf Stars awards and is a current nominee for the Pushcart Prize. Find her at www.DeniseDDumars.com.  
  • Jean-Paul L. Garnier: Editor of Star*Line, the Journal of the SFPA, he is the owner of Space Cowboy bookstore, winner of the Critters Best Bookstore award for 2021. His podcast is Simultaneous Times, and he is an independent publisher of SF poetry and fiction. He is a five-time nominee for the Elgin award with several books in print. He contributes to dreamfoundry.org. Find him at https://spacecowboybooks.com/.

(4) PIEZOELECTRIC BOOGALOO. A New York Times writer says, “‘M3GAN’ Makes Us Ask (Again): Who’s Afraid of Dancing Robots?”

…“When you see the Boston Dynamics robots dancing in perfect unison,” Johnstone said, “it’s almost like them looking at us and saying, ‘We can do what you do, and we can do it better,’ in the most obnoxious way.” He chuckled. “Like they’re going to sashay their way toward the extermination of all humanity.”

M3GAN’s ice-cold, ruthlessly calculated “performance” stands in contrast to the human dancing in some recent horror films, where flesh-and-bone bodies reach states of overheated delirium. The choreographer, director and writer Jack Ferver, who worked on the coming horror movie “The Parenting,” said dance horror is effective when the person dancing “transcends their personhood.”

But what does that mean for a nonperson? Robots aren’t dead behind the eyes because they’re in some kind of ecstatic trance; they’re dead behind the eyes because they’re not alive….

(5) MEMORY LANE.

1964 [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.] Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

No. We are not here to talk about the stellar Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory film but rather about the source material that inspired it, Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory novel. It was first published in the U.K. by George Allen & Unwin in 1964 with this edition illustrated by Faith Jaques. (Yes, the US edition was first but we think this one should be considered the true first for reasons below.) 

She was renowned for her work as a children’s book author, illustrator, artist, stamp designer and a very fierce advocate of artists’ rights for control of their work. She was chosen to do the British edition following the controversy over the depiction of the Oompa-Loompas in the US edition of the book where they were African pygmies. Racism at its very worst.

In this edition, as well as the subsequent sequel, Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, was written by Dahl in 1971, the Oompa-Loompas were drawn as being white and appearing similar to hippies and the references to Africa were deleted. All other editions followed this convention.

The story was said to based on Dahl’s experience of chocolate companies including Cadbury during his schooldays sending packages to the schoolchildren in exchange for their opinions on the new products. Popular belief was that the companies sent spies into each other’s factories to scope out new chocolates. 

Because of these practices, companies became highly protective of their chocolate making. It was a combination of this secrecy and the elaborate, often gigantic, machines that looked fantastical to a child that inspired him to write this novel.

There are several editions, each with a different illustrator — Joseph Schindelman (first and revised US editions); Faith Jaques (first UK edition); Michael Foreman (1985 US edition); and Quentin Blake (1995 edition). 

The book as you know as been adapted into two major motion pictures: Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory just several years after it was published, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory that came out about twenty years ago. A prequel film, Wonka, a musical fantasy film, exploring Willy Wonka’s origins will be released in 2023. Timothée Chalamet is Willy Wonka. Really, he is.

Eric Idle narrated the audiobook version of the American Edition of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 7, 1899 F. Orlin Tremaine. He was the Editor of Astounding from 1933 to 1937. It’s said that he bought Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness without actually reading it. Later as Editor at Bartholomew House, he brought out the first paperback editions of Lovecraft’s The Weird Shadow Over Innsmouth and The Dunwich Horror. He wrote a dozen or so short stories that were published in the pulps between 1926 and 1949. (Died 1956.)
  • Born January 7, 1912 Charles Addams. Illustrator best known for the Addams Family which he first drew in 1932 and kept drawing until his death. Needless to say there have been a number of films and series using these characters of which The Addams Family is my favorite. Linda H. Davis’ Charles Addams: A Cartoonist’s Life is well worth seeking out and reading. (Died 1988.)
  • Born January 7, 1913 Julian S. Krupa. Pulp cover and interior illustrator from 1939 to 1971 who graced Amazing Stories and Fantastic. In the Thirties, he also contributed art to fanzines, including Ad Astra. His grandson said that “his Grandfather did all the illustrations for the training films for the first Nuclear Submarines and was a friend to Admiral Rickover. And then continued to do early training films for NASA.” (Died 1989.)
  • Born January 7, 1928 William Peter Blatty. Novelist and screenwriter best known for The Exorcist though he was also the same for Exorcist III. The former is by no means the only genre work that he would write as his literary career would go on for forty years after this novel and would include Demons Five, Exorcists Nothing: A Fable which he renamed Demons Five, Exorcists Nothing: A Hollywood Christmas Carol and The Exorcist for the 21st Century, his final work. (Died 2017.)
  • Born January 7, 1955 Karen Haber, 68. Wife of Robert Silverberg. Author Of the Fire In Winter series (first co-written with Robert) and the War Minstrels series as well. With Robert, she edited three of the exemplary Universe anthologies that Terry Carr had created. Her Meditations on Middle Earth, her essay collection on J.R.R. Tolkien is quite superb. And of course her prequel Thieves’ Carnival to Leigh Brackett’s The Jewel of Bas is stunning.
  • Born January 7, 1962 Mark Allen Shepherd, 61. Morn, the bar patron on Deep Space Nine. Amazingly he was in Quark’s bar a total of ninety-three episodes plus one episode each on Next Gen and Voyager. Technically he’s uncredited in almost all of those appearances. That’s pretty much his entire acting career. I’m trying to remember if he has any lines. He’s also an abstract painter whose work was used frequently on DS9 sets. For all practical purposes, this was his acting career. Do note that we saw more Lurians on Discovery showing that the species is still around even in the 32nd century. 
  • Born January 7, 1971 Jeremy Renner, 52. You know him as Hawkeye in those MCU films but he’s also in a number of other SFF film including Hansel and Gretel: Witch HuntersMission: Impossible – Ghost ProtocolMission: Impossible – Rogue Nation and Arrival.

(7) COMICS SECTION.

  • Catching up with Tom Gauld –

(8) THEY MADE MARVEL. CBR.com contends these are “The 10 Most Important Comics In Marvel History”. For example —

8/10 Fantastic Four #1 Brought The Heroes Back

As the superhero boom died out in the late 1940s, Timely switched to other genres, including romance, teen books, and comedy titles. In 1951, a year after Captain America was canceled, Timely became Atlas News Company and it seemed like the heroes would be gone for good.

But according to legend, a decade later Martin Goodman was playing golf with Jack Liebowitz, the then head of DC Comics when Liebowitz bragged about the company’s success with their new superhero titles, most notably the Justice League of America. Goodman turned to Stan Lee and Jack Kirby to give Atlas their own superhero team, and from that discussion, the Fantastic Four, and “The Marvel Age of Comics,” were born.

(9) HE’S A POE MAN FROM A POE FAMILY. “Dudley did right: Harry Melling on his evolution from Harry Potter to Edgar Allan Poe” is explained by in a Yahoo! profile.

…He first appeared at 10 years old in Sorcerer’s Stone as the hero’s tortuous, spoiled cousin, Dudley Dursley, and would maintain the part into his 20s.

Unlike his contemporaries, he found life on set to be quite isolating at times. “My experience was unique in terms of I wasn’t in it throughout the entire shoot,” the actor, 33, tells EW over Zoom from Los Angeles — now much taller and leaner compared to the plump, rosy-cheeked child with a haughty smirk movie-goers have been used to. “The earthly sequences would very much be an isolated filming block. So, I dipped in, and then I went back to school and normal life.”

Melling never felt as if people would recognize him on the streets of London. “Which I kind of loved,” he quickly adds. To him, fame feels like noise. He counts himself lucky that he hasn’t become traditionally “famous.” “Sometimes it’s nice to just concentrate on the work and what excites you,” he says.

Melling has been able to do just that with his life post-Potter, from his early run in theater to playing chess champ Harry Beltik in the Netflix hit The Queen’s Gambit. However, one role would create a different kind of noise, the kind that would get his industry peers to notice him, if not the public. Seeing Melling as the limbless artist in 2018’s The Ballad of Buster Scruggs would inspire director Scott Cooper (Out of the FurnaceAntlers) to cast the Englishman as a young Edgar Allan Poe in The Pale Blue Eye, Melling’s most impressive on-screen role to date.

“I was struck by that performance,” Cooper tells EW of Melling’s work in Buster Scruggs. “I felt, ‘My God! He would be a really terrific Edgar Allan Poe.’ And as we say in Virginia, he kind of favors Poe. He looks like him.”….

Melling also was interviewed by NPR: “Harry Melling on playing Edgar Allan Poe in the new movie ‘The Pale Blue Eye’”.

…SIMON: The film is set in 1830. But I got to begin by asking, what’s Edgar Allan Poe doing at West Point?

MELLING: I know. That’s what I thought, right? He was there in real life, which is extraordinary….

(10) DOOR HANGER. Found hanging on the internet…

(11) BE FREE. JUNG_E debuts on Netflix on January 20.

Humanity’s hope and ultimate weapon A.I. combat warrior JUNG_E Watch her break free.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Cat Eldridge, John Hertz, Andrew (not Werdna), Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, and Chris Barkley for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 12/14/22 Scroll My Pixeling Down, Sport

(1) LOCUS CROWDFUNDING NEARS FINISH LINE. The Locus Magazine Indiegogo campaign wraps up tomorrow. Backers have pledged $73,015 of $75,000 as of this afternoon – they may make it!

Sarah Gailey interviewed Locus’ publisher and editor-in-chief at Stone Soup: “Liza Groen Trombi Asks Better Questions”.

…Locus is a hub of genre community news, collecting stories about publishers, awards, conferences, publishing rights, deaths, and so much more. You encounter a massive volume of information every day — you’ve mentioned elsewhere that Locus receives as many as 80-100 emails in an hour. How do you process that avalanche into such a concise and informative package?

Practice, practice, practice. We have a lot of systems to gather info, an amazing senior editor who sifts through hundreds of emails every day pulling out news and all the important bits and bobs (Tim Pratt – we all bow down to his speed and competence), another who indexes all of our incoming books, many of which we hear about in email at this point (Carolyn Cushman), another who is constantly chasing up new titles and hunting down info  (Arley Sorg)… and we also know we aren’t going to cover everything, catch every bit of news. So then a little self-compassion helps a lot….

(2) THE SUN IN A JAR. In “Fusion? We’ve Seen This Movie Before”, the New York Times tells how popular culture is setting viewers’ expectations for a scientific breakthrough.  

…You probably already have some familiarity with fusion thanks to movies.

At the end of the 1985 sci-fi classic “Back to the Future,” Dr. Emmett Brown, played by Christopher Lloyd, soups up his tricked-out time-traveling DeLorean by feeding trash into a canister called the Mr. Fusion Home Energy Reactor attached to the top of the car. And in “Spider-Man 2,” from 2004, the well-meaning scientist Dr. Octavius (a.k.a. Doc Ock, played by Alfred Molina) creates a fusion reactor with an artificial sun at the center. But when it gets out of control, so does he, transforming into a villain who aims to re-create the dangerous machine.

Pop culture’s fascination with fusion goes beyond a process that sustains robotics and machinery; our culture’s collective dreams of safe, unlimited energy have even been epitomized by some of our heroes….

(3) MAPPING THE OUTER DARKNESS. Sunday Morning Transport marks “Reader Favorite Wednesday” by posting as a free read Yoon Ha Lee’s “Nonstandard Candles”.

Why hasn’t Yoon Ha Lee won all the awards? His writing is always smart, inventive, and above all compelling—everything you want Science Fiction to be. This story, about making maps through the darkest of spaces, is just one example, and especially apropos given everything going on in the world right now.

(4) TWISTED SISTERS CREATOR REMEMBERED. The Comics Journal reports “Diane Noomin’s Memorial Service at SVA, November 10, 2022”, a profile of the artist with a full a transcript of the remarks by her husband Bill Griffith (excerpted below).

… Diane was my partner in so many ways, from our mutual love for comics and art to a decades-long, behind the scenes collaboration on what we produced, and as aunts and uncles, brothers and sisters, and friends to our extended family. But here’s the thing to remember. We were each other’s creative editors on every project we worked on, on her Twisted Sisters anthologies, on her career-spanning Glitz-2-Go book, on her recent landmark book, Drawing Power, and especially for me, on my four graphic novels, the last one still in progress. Diane’s fingerprints are all over every page of all of those books. I can’t begin to count how many times, after reading a few of my pages as I created them, she’d say, “Put more feeling into it. Get under the character’s skin, bring out the emotion. Put in some backstory.”

These books wouldn’t be the same without Diane. I can only hope I absorbed enough of her spot-on insights and continuity expertise to keep me on the straight and narrow in the future….

(5) RICHARD MILLER (1942-2022).  Industrial Light and Magic sculptor Richard Miller died December 8 at the age of 80. Deadline led with his work creating Princess Leia’s gold bikini costume for Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, and followed with a long list of credits of his work on other Hollywood films, many of which were genre.

His work was used in films like Willow (1988), Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988) Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), Body Wars (1989), Back to the Future Part II (1989), Back to the Future Part III (1990), Backdraft (1991), Rocketeer (1991), Hook (1991) and Death Becomes Her (1992).

Other movies his work was featured in were The Flintstones (1994), Baby’s Day Out (1994), The Mask (1994), Casper (1995), Congo (1995), Jumanji (1995), Mission Impossible (1996), Spawn (1997), Flubber (1997).

Miller returned to the Star Wars universe when his sculptures were used in the three prequels of the saga. His credits also included films like The Mummy (1999), Space Cowboys (2000), A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001), Planet of the Apes (2001), Hulk (2003) and Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003).

Some of his last work was on the Pirates of the Caribbean series of films.

(6) MEMORY LANE.

2007? [By Cat Eldridge.] The Ent in Birmingham 

Yes, there’s an Ent in Birmingham. Well, there’s supposed to be.

Let’s start at the beginning with the solicitation: “In honour of JRR Tolkien, a Treebeard type Statue is going to be built for the centre of Moseley, the place where he grew up as a child and where he puts his inspiration down to. In this area, very close to his second childhood home in what was the hamlet of Sarehole (now part of Moseley) are the amazing places of Moseley Bog, the Dell and Sarehole Mill. These 3 places, alongside the River Cole have been preserved and protected, allowing the writer to experience what it must have been like for JRR and his brother Hilary as children.” 

They raised the cost by selling leaves, to wit “Under ‘him’, will be a bed of leaves on which you can have a personalised dedication engraved and so be associated with this most famous of writers. We are offering 30 large bronze leaves at a fixed price of £2000.” 

So far, so good. The twenty foot tall stainless steel structure is off Treebeard and it up in Moseley Village Green, near J. R. R. Tolkien’s childhood home in Birmingham. It will eventually be made by the author’s great-nephew Tim Tolkien.

Let me now quote the sculptor at length from an interview in 2007: “The ‘Ent’ idea was the one that was most liked. There was some negative criticism but enough positive, too, for planning permission to be granted.  

The design stage is complete now. It took probably about two to three years; the time was spent considering different ideas and going through the process of getting planning permission.  A model was made and used to create mock photos, which people thought were very realistic. I’ve had people ring to see if the statue has been moved, because they’ve seen the mock photos then gone to visit, but I haven’t started making yet. I won’t until all the money is there.  It will take about six months to construct the statue; I will build it in pieces then put it together on the site.”

In the meantime, local opposition has mounted several campaigns to get the local authorities to rescind their approval for it going there with one group claiming that Tolkien is not a major British literary figure and therefore this is an improper usage of that space. Yes, they really did say that.

Yes, there are digital models as it’ll appear placed there so here’s one. It might indeed be up but I can find no proof that it online. On the other leaf, it might never actually have happened. The Google Maps photo of the proposed location shows nothing but lawn.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 14, 1916 Shirley Jackson. First gained public attention for her short story “The Lottery, or, The Adventures of James Harris” but it was her The Haunting of Hill House novel which has made her legendary as a horror novelist as it’s truly a chilling ghost story.  I see that she’s written quite a bit of genre short fiction — has anyone here read it? And yes, I know there’s at least one series made off The Haunting of Hill House novel but you already know my opinion on such matters. (Died 1965.)
  • Born December 14, 1920 Rosemary Sutcliff. English novelist whose best known for children’s books, particularly her historical fiction which involved retellings of myths and legends, Arthurian and otherwise. Digging into my memory, I remember reading The Chronicles of Robin Hood which was her first published novel and rather good; The Eagle of the Ninth is set in Roman Britain and was an equally fine read. (Died 1992.)
  • Born December 14, 1949 David A. Cherry, 73. Illustrator working mostly in the genre. Amazingly he has been nominated eleven times for Hugo Awards, and eighteen times for Chesley Awards with an astonishing eight wins! He is a past president of the Association of Science Fiction and Fantasy Artists. Oh, and he’s is the brother of the science fiction writer C. J. Cherryh (“Cherry” is the original spelling of the last name of the family) so you won’t be surprised that he’s painted cover art for some of her books such as The Cherryh Odyssey and The Kif Strike Back! as well as books for Robert Asprin, Andre Norton, Diane Duane, Lynn Abbey and Piers Anthony to name but a few.
  • Born December 14, 1954 James Horan, 68. One of those actors that had roles across the Trek verse, having appeared on Next GenerationVoyager, Deep Space Nine and Enterprise. He also voiced a character on Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles, and showed up on Highlander, Charmed and Lost. Like so many Trek alums, he’s also been on The Orville
  • Born December 14, 1959 Debbie Lee Carrington. Actress who was an ardent advocate for performers with disabilities. She was the performer inside the Howard the Duck costume, a Martian rebel named Thumbelina in Total Recall, an Ewok in Return of the Jedi (and in the TV movies that followed, a Drone in Invaders from Mars, Little Bigfoot in Harry and the Hendersons, an Emperor Penguin in Batman Returns and a Chucky double in Curse of Chucky. (Died 2018.)
  • Born December 14, 1966 Sarah Zettel, 56. Her first novel, Reclamation, was nominated for the Philip K. Dick Award in 1996, and in 1997 tied for the Locus Award for the Best First Novel. Writing under the alias of C. L. Anderson, her novel Bitter Angels won the 2010 Philip K. Dick award for best paperback original novel. If you’ve not read her, I’d recommend her YA American Fairy Trilogy as a good place to start.
  • Born December 14, 1968 Kelley Armstrong54. Canadian writer, primarily of fantasy novels since the early party of the century. She has published thirty-one fantasy novels to date, thirteen in her Women of the Otherworld series, another five in her Cainsville series. I’m reasonably sure I listened to the Cainsville series and would recommend it wholeheartedly.

(8) INVESTIGATING CONSCIOUSNESS. The Hugo Book Club Blog reviews “The Tentacle of Empathy” by Ray Nayler.

…The novel’s depiction of semi-functional future geopolitics and extreme forms of predatory capitalism are sadly believable, but written with interesting nuance. Nayler’s background working in the foreign service has given him a perspective and a knowledge that lends the story credibility.

But at its core, the strength of the novel is in how richly it explores the ways in which humans interpret experiences, how different sensoria and neurological architecture might construct individual understandings of the world, and how artificial intelligences might evolve and what that could mean for their sentience. It’s impossible to know what’s going on in another being’s head, nor whether depicting these processes can ever be accomplished, but we suspect that Nayler has done this about as well as possible….

The author was pleased —

(9) BLOOD SCIENCE. “World-First Trial Transfusing Lab-Grown Red Blood Cells Begins”ScienceAlert has details.

…The world-first trial, underway in the UK, is studying whether red blood cells made in the laboratory last longer than blood cells made in the body.

Although the trial is only small, it represents a “huge stepping stone for manufacturing blood from stem cells,” says University of Bristol cell biologist Ashley Toye, one of the researchers working on the study.

To generate the transfusions, the team of researchers isolated stem cells from donated blood and coaxed them into making more red blood cells, a process that takes around three weeks.

In the past, researchers showed they could transfuse lab-grown blood cells back into the same donor they were derived from. This time, they have infused the manufactured cells into another compatible person – a process known as allogeneic transfusion….

(10) SOME LIGHTNING FOR THUNDER LIZARDS. 65 comes to movie theaters March 10. SYFY Wire explains the premise.

…The new film, written and directed by A Quiet Place creators Scott Beck and Bryan Woods, opens with a very familiar premise. Commander Mills (Adam Driver), a starship pilot, is sending out a distress signal after his ship crashed on an uncharted planet. With his means of escape ripped to shreds and just one human survivor (Arianna Greenblatt) to co-exist with on this new world, he has no choice but to simply work to survive until some form of help can arrive. What he doesn’t know, of course, is that he’s crashed somewhere very familiar, not to him, but certainly to us.

That’s right, the “65” of the title is for “65 million years ago,” pitting Driver’s character against all manner of prehistoric creatures who’ve never seen the likes of him before, and setting up some very interesting implications about the early history of Earth….

(11) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “’A Very Cold War Christmas’ – A Late Show Animated Holiday Classic”.

It’s Christmas eve, and after Vladimir Putin demands Ukraine for Christmas, Santa must defend the North Pole against a Russian invasion. President Biden delivers much needed aid to Santa via bicycle drawn choo-choo train, and then sends an elite elf squadron of North Pole’s best to the Kremlin in a Top Gun style mission culminating in an epic face off in Red Square. Are you ready to “Ride into the Manger Zone?”

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

Pixel Scroll 11/22/22 File Thing, You Make My Scroll Sing, You Make Everything … Pixelly

(1) NPR’S PICKS OF 2022. NPR has put up its massive list of “Best Books 2022: Books We Love”. It’s sortable by category – this is the button to pull out the 67 “Sci-Fi, Fantasy & Speculative Fiction” titles. The tool will also take you back to any of their annual selections since 2013.

Books We Love! – NPR’s biannual, interactive reading guide – is back for its 10th year with 400+ books published in 2022! Mix and match tags including “Book Club Ideas,” “Eye-Opening Reads,” and “Kids’ Books” to browse titles hand-picked by NPR staff and trusted critics. Click back through a decade of recommendations to find more than 3,200 books – we’ve got your next favorite read and something for every person on your holiday shopping list. Discover the books that comforted, challenged, and captivated us this year.

(2) WHAT DO YOU WANT SANTA TO BRING? Connie Willis, on Facebook, recommends adding Miracle on 34th Street to your Thanksgiving viewing. She does a deep dive into how a real Macy’s parade was filmed for the movie, and has other insights into the actors and actresses.

Thanksgiving is fast upon us, and I have a great movie to recommend (besides the standards we watch every year: PLANES, TRAINS, AND AUTOMOBILES and DEAR GOD.) The movie is MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET (the original black and white with Edmund Gwenn, Natalie Wood, Maureen O’Hara, and John Payne).

“But that’s a Christmas movie!” I can hear you saying. True, but it actually begins at Thanksgiving, with the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade, and, even better, the parade in the movie is the real deal. Yes, the actual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade from the year the movie was made, 1946. They filmed the opening sequences with the majorette and the clown and the drunken Santa–“It’s cold! A man’s gotta do SOMETHING to keep warm!”–at the beginning of the parade….

(3) LOCUS FUNDRAISER MAKING PROGRESS. With 23 days left, the Indiegogo for “Locus Magazine: Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror” has raised $45,169 of the $75,000 goal with the help of 473 backers. There’s a variety of perks available, such as this one for $30 donors.

(4) WILL IT MAKE A BIG SPLASH? A new trailer for Avatar: The Way of Water – in theaters December 16.

Set more than a decade after the events of the first film, “Avatar: The Way of Water” begins to tell the story of the Sully family (Jake, Neytiri, and their kids), the trouble that follows them, the lengths they go to keep each other safe, the battles they fight to stay alive, and the tragedies they endure.

(5) IT’S REALLY AND SINCERELY DEAD. The Department of Justice put out a press release about Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster’s decision to not appeal the district court’s verdict barring their merger deal.

The district court’s decision is a victory for authors, the marketplace of ideas, consumers, and competitive markets. It reinforces the important principle that antitrust laws apply to transactions that harm content creators and workers. The Department is pleased that Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster have opted not to appeal.

(6) RECOMMENDED READING FOR ELON MUSK. Norman Spinrad, for reasons unexplained, wants to place a copy of his forthcoming novella Up and Out in the hands of Elon Musk. He calls on everyone to use their connections and get back to him at [email protected]

ELON MUSK WHERE ARE YOU?
       
It has often been said that no one on the planet is more than 6 steps from anyone else, and I have been trying contact Elon Musk fruitlessly, not surprising, given that he is the richest and maybe one of the most famous people on Earth.  I did not want to ask him for money or anything else.  I simply wanted to give him something that I know he would enjoy, a novella called UP AND OUT, but of course, impossible to get the rtf to him personally.
     
And this is a very personal gift and now it will be published December 13th in the formally January/February issue of  Asimov’s SF Magazine.  So he will be able to buy the issue if he knows about it, and I think he can probably afford it.  

So what I am asking y’all is only to help me tell him.  Given that there are about 200 people getting this, the math would seem to say that the odds are good.  I’m not asking for an email address, or anything else, so this would seem to be possible.

(7) A CLASSIC RESUMES. “’Willow’ Resurrected: The Hard-Fought Story of an Epic Comeback”Vanity Fair tells that story, how it came to pass that Willow will roll again on Disney+ beginning November 30.

Jonathan Kasdan was in the middle of making a Star Wars movie, but his mind kept venturing to an entirely different universe. 

This happened in 2017, when the screenwriter of Solo stood on the Canary Islands set of the movie, watching as one of his idols dropped in for a cameo. Warwick Davis, who was there to play a member of a galactic biker gang, had a long history of playing Star Wars characters, but he was also the star of one of Kasdan’s favorite movies from childhood, the 1988 sword-and-sorcery adventure Willow.

“I asked to be introduced to him,” Kasdan recalls. “I had one of the ADs walk me over, and he was sitting in his foldout chair. I said, ‘I’m Jon Kasdan. I’m one of the writers.’ And he was very nice.” But Kasdan had a not-so-secret agenda. “I said, ‘Listen, I love Willow, and I really think there’s something to be done here. I’m beating the drum loudly with Kathy [Kennedy, Lucasfilm’s president] and with the company.’” Davis lit up. “He immediately was like, ‘Have a seat! Let’s talk more!’” Kasdan says. “We started talking that very minute about what it could be and have never stopped.” 

Five years later, Willow—the new Disney+ series —will debut on November 30. But the journey between that first conversation and the completion of the show was a fraught adventure of its own, sometimes harrowing, sometimes comical, sometimes just awkward. Still, it was driven by a sincere love of this fantasy realm and the unlikely hero at its center.

Today, Kasdan is part of the Lucasfilm brain trust, consulting on multiple projects with his own office at their Disney headquarters, (complete with a sweeping view of Kennedy’s parking space, he jokes). But back in 2017, when he first broached the subject of reviving Willow with Davis on the set of Solo, his credits included writing stints on Dawson’s Creek and Freaks and Geeks, and directing the indie films The First Time and In the Land of Women. Kasdan had leveled up to epics for the first time with Solo, which he had cowritten with his father (Star Wars veteran and Oscar-nominated screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan). He had the experience and the enthusiasm to take on a return to Willow, if not the actual pull at Lucasfilm to make it a reality….

(8) PARADOX LAUNCH EVENT. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.]  I previously sent an image of the cover of Romania’s H. G. Wells SF Society of Timisoara 50 year anniversary edition of Paradox (Pixel Scroll 11/17/22 item #12).

The zine’s launch  took place at the Theresien Bastion (the main section of the former Austrian fortifications that defended Timisoara in 1700s) and it attracted a number of old sci-fi fans and members of the H.G. Wells association. 

I have pictures of the launch courtesy of Silviu Genescu (himself an award-winning author – the Romanian equivalent of the Booker for D is for ‘End’)

(9) MEMORY LANE.

1986 [By Cat Eldridge.] Nutcracker: The Motion Picture 

Christmas long ago was the memory of a dream that seemed never to end. But somewhere in the middle of that dream, I always did wake up, just in time to attend the Christmas party. — Opening lines as said by the adult Clara.

So let’s talk about a most unusual Nutcracker that had the blessing to get filmed. Nutcracker: The Motion Picture, also known as Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Nutcracker or simply Nutcracker, is was produced thirty-six years ago by the Pacific Northwest Ballet.

So what makes this one worth knowing about? Two words that form a name: Maurice Sendak. 

Choreographer Kent Stowell who the artistic director of the Pacific Northwest Ballet had invited the author-illustrator Maurice Sendak to collaborate on a Nutcracker production in 1979 after his wife and another colleague had seen a Sendak design for a performance of Mozart’s The Magic Flute.  

Sendak initially rejected Stowell’s invitation, later explaining why he did so:  

The Nutcrackers I’ve seen have all been dull. You have a simpering little girl, a Christmas party, a tree that gets big. Then you have a variety of people who do dances that seem to go on and on ad nauseam. Technically it’s a mess, too; Acts I and II have practically nothing to do with each other. … What you don’t have is plot. No logic. You have lots of very pretty music, but I don’t enjoy it because I’m a very pedantic, logical person. I want to know why things happen.

He later accepted provided that he could write it so it was in tune with the themes in Hoffmann’s original story. It was extremely popular and it was the annual Christmas show for thirty-one years. 

For reasons too complicated to explain here, I got invited on a personal tour of the backstage area of the Pacific Northwest Ballet building where the scenery and other materials that Sendak had designed for this were stored. To say these were magical is an understatement. And just a tad scary up close. 

Two Disney executives attended the premiere and suggested it’d make a splendid film. Sendak and the Director of the Ballet resisted at first preferring to just film the ballet. But both finally decided to adapt it to a film. That meant Clara’s dream had to be clarified; large portions of the choreography were changed; some of some the original designs underwent revision, and Sendak created additional ones from scratch.

It was shot in ten days on the cheap and critics weren’t particularly kind about the result as they could see the necessary shortcuts taken. Ballard, the Director here as well, responded to criticism about the editing in a later The New York Times interview, noting that the editing was not what he had initially planned, but was because of the tight filming schedule.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 22, 1932 Robert Vaughn. His best-known genre work was as Napoleon Solo in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. with other genre work being in Teenage CavemanStarship InvasionsThe Lucifer ComplexVirusHangar 18Battle Beyond the StarsSuperman III C.H.U.D. II: Bud the C.H.U.D. (seriously who penned that awful title?), Transylvania Twist and Witch Academy. Oh, and he wrote the introduction to The Man from U.N.C.L.E. series companion that came out a generation after the series aired. (Died 2016.)
  • Born November 22, 1940 Terry Gilliam, 82. He’s directed many films of which the vast majority are firmly genre. I think I’ve seen most of them though I though I’ve not seen The Man Who Killed Don QuixoteTidelandThe Zero Theorem or The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. I’ve seen everything else. Yes, I skipped past his start as the animator for Monty Python’s Flying Circus which grew out of his work for the children’s series Do Not Adjust Your Set which had the staff of Eric Idle, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin. Though he largely was the animator in the series and the films, he did occasionally take acting roles according to his autobiography, particularly roles no one else wanted such those requiring extensive makeup.  He also co-directed a number of scenes. Awards? Of course. Twelve Monkeys is the most decorated with six followed by Brazil with two and Time Bandits and The Fisher King which each have but one.  He’s not won any Hugos though he has been nominated for four — Monty Python and the Holy GrailTime Bandits, Brazil and Twelve Monkeys. My favorite films by him? Oh, the one I’ve watched the most is The Adventures of Baron Munchausen followed by Time Bandits. He’s co-directing and writing the forthcoming Time Bandits series Apple is financing and showing. I’ll subscribe when it’s out.
  • Born November 22, 1943 William Kotzwinkle, 79. Fata Morgana might be in my opinion his best novel though Doctor Rat which he won the World Fantasy Award for is in the running for that honor as well. And his short stories of which there are many are quite excellent too.  Did you know Kotzwinkle wrote the novelization of the screenplay for E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial? The usual digital suspects are well stocked with his books.
  • Born November 22, 1949 John Grant. He’d make the Birthday list solely for being involved in the stellar Encyclopedia of Fantasy which won a Hugo at BucConeer.  And he did win another well-deserved Hugo at Noreascon 4 for Best Related Work for The Chesley Awards for Science Fiction and Fantasy Art: A Retrospective.  Most of His short fiction has been set in the Lone Wolf universe though I see that he did a Judge Dredd novel too. (Died 2020.)
  • Born November 22, 1957 Kim Yale. Married to John Ostrander until 1993 when she died of breast cancer, she was a writer whose first work was in the New America series, a spin-off of Truman’s Scout series. With Truman, she developed the Barbara Gordon Oracle character, created the Manhunter series, worked on Suicide Squad, and was an editor at D.C. where she oversaw such licenses as Star Trek: The Next Generation. For First Comics, she co-wrote much of the amazing Grimjack with her husband.
  • Born November 22, 1958 Jamie Lee Curtis, 64. Can we agree that she was the best Scream Queen for her film debut in the 1978 Halloween film in which she played the role of Laurie Strode? No? Well, that’s my claim. Spoilers follow. She followed up with yet more horror films, The Fog and Prom Night. In all, she’s the only character that survives.  She would reprise the role of Laurie in six sequels, including Halloween H20Halloween: ResurrectionHalloween II and Halloween III: Season of the WitchHalloween (a direct sequel to the first Halloween) and Halloween Kills.  She shows up in one of my fave SF films, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension as Sandra Banzai but you’ll need to see the director’s extended version as she’s only there in that version. Is True Lies genre? Probably not, but for her performance, Curtis won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy and the Saturn Award for Best Actress. Damn impressive I’d say.  No, I’m not listing all her films here as OGH would likely start growling. Suffice to say she’s had a very impressive career. 
  • Born November 22, 1984 Scarlett Johansson, 38. Best known perhaps for her role as the Black Widow in the MCU films including the present Black Widow film but she has other genre appearances including playing Motoko Kusanagi in Ghost in the Shell which was controversial for whitewashing the cast, particularly her character who was supposed to be Japanese. 

(11) JMS WILL WORK WITH AWA. “AWA Studios Enlists Top Creatives to Shepherd Content Derived From Graphic Novels” reports Variety. J. Michael Straczynski is one of the six.

AWA Studios has enlisted Reginald HudlinGregg Hurwitz, Laeta Kalogridis, Joseph Kosinski, Al Madrigal and J. Michael Straczynski to serve on the company’s Creative Council. The council’s charter is for those established players to use their experience and their connections to help AWA writer and graphic artists “unleash the full potential of their characters and stories, providing a diversity of contemporary storytelling perspectives and putting projects in the best position to be scaled across the entertainment ecosystem,” per AWA.

(12) YA THRILLER. At Nerds of a Feather, Elizabeth Fitzgerald reviews a book that won the Norma K. Hemming Award for Long Work: “Microreview [book]: Ghost Bird by Lisa Fuller”.

Ghost Bird belongs most comfortably in the genre of the YA thriller. A certain subsection of this genre likes to play coy about the presence of supernatural elements. Examples include Black by Fleur Ferris, Small Spaces by Sarah Epstein and Flight of the Fantail by Steph Matuku. By the end, each of these books definitively answers whether the speculative elements played with are considered real within the story’s world. Ghost Bird also has definitive answers, making it very at home in this subgenre. However, its identity as an Indigenous Australian Own Voices narrative makes it difficult to call the story a speculative one. After all, referring to what may be a part of a living Indigenous tradition as fantasy or speculative seems neither respectful nor accurate.

Cleverly, this tension between Western and Indigenous thought is one of the central themes of Ghost Bird. The story is written in first person present tense from the perspective of Stacey. She is intelligent, rational and takes her education very seriously — too seriously, according to some of her family, who feel she should be paying more heed to traditional ways…

(13) THE RAVELED SLEEVE OF CARE IS NOT KNITTED UP. Arturo Serrano reviews a disappointing film based on Winsor McCay’s visual innovations: “’Slumberland’ won’t spark your dreams, but it will put you to sleep” at Nerds of a Feather.

A girl loses her father and processes her grief by oversleeping. An emotionally stunted uncle tries to learn childrearing from Google. The complicated interplay of growth and decay makes the future uncertain and scary. If she wants to grow up and stop retreating into fantasies, she’ll have to accept the fact of death, but also help her uncle reconnect with his inner child and dream again.

This setup sounds like it should deliver a full emotional experience, bolstered by the metaphoric possibilities of dream language. Unfortunately, Netflix film Slumberland shows us a muted dreamscape that doesn’t dare embrace the protean qualities of the unconscious mind. When protagonist Nemo ventures into the land of dreams to look for her father, the place looks too rigid, too rational, built on an oppressively linear logic that makes it less Paprika and more Inception. This does not feel like the dream of a child; it feels like an adult’s self-serving memory of what goes on in a child’s mind….

(14) POPULATION CRISIS. Paul Weimer reviews a novel about a world ruled by women where girl children are no longer being born: “Microreview [book]: Scorpica by G.R. McAllister” at Nerds of a Feather.

…Humans are a species that can think in terms of years, decades and generations ahead and to come. Humans are a species that is very concerned with their posterity, as a way of preserving not only their legacy, but establishing the future for their children and their children’s children. And when that posterity is threatened, people, and the societies they inhabit, can come under stress, fracture, and break.

P D James’ novel The Children of Men (and its movie adaptation) explores the death of posterity for the human race by having had no children born in the last 17 years. Mankind is slowly and inexorably aging out to death, and the stresses on people, on society are like an inexorably tightening vise, a ticking clock for humanity. It’s not pretty, even (and perhaps especially) when there is a glimmer of hope that the doom can be averted.

We come to GR McAllister’s Scorpica, which takes a widescreen epic fantasy approach to this scenario. The Five Queendoms (which is also the name of the series that Scorpica starts) are a quintet of fantasy kingdoms which are not just matriarchies, kingdoms ruled by women, but out and out gynarchies. This is a woman’s world, from the fierce fighters of Scorpica to the potent magicians of Arca, the power, authority and social structures are all controlled by women.

So, when the Drought of Girls begins, and girls are no longer being born among any of the five kingdoms, there is indeed a slow moving, inexorably building crisis that strikes the inhabitants of the kingdoms, and the lives of those whom we meet in the book….

(15) GENRE JUSTICE. “Judge John Hodgman on Klingon Cat Names” in the New York Times.

Tyler writes: My partner, who is also named Tyler, wants a second cat. I’m not a fan of cats, so he takes full responsibility for ours. I told him if he adopts another cat, I would get to name it. He agreed. But he doesn’t like the name I’ve chosen — Gowron, after the Chancellor of the Klingon High Council — and insists I choose another.

This one hurts. First, because you presumed I didn’t know who Gowron is. He’s the son of M’Rel, for Kahless’s sake! Second, I suspect you’re just trying to annoy Tyler as punishment for this second cat. Third, it’s obvious this cat should be named Tyler. But a deal is a deal: Gowron it is. At least you did not get clever and suggest “Meowron,” which I’m sure has been done one million times. Readers, let me know how many of you have cats named Chancellor Meowron. Also email me if your dog is named Lieutenant Woof.

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. From The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on October 26: “Will Our New Writer George R.R. Martin Finish The Monologue On Time?”

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Cat Rambo, ja, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, 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 Tom Becker.]

Pixel Scroll 10/26/22 Did You Know That Pixel Chases Transdimensional Scrolls?

(1) SHAUN TAN Q&A. Steven Heller interviews artist Shaun Tan for Print in “The Daily Heller: One-Eyed, One-Horned, Flying Purple People Eater”.

You create nightmarish visions that have a witty or acerbic quality, like the one-eyed creature on the cover of your book. Do you lean towards high or comic graphic depictions?
I suppose I hover in between, or try to fuse, as there’s no reason a thing can’t be both. I think of Philip Guston’s paintings, for instance, or a film like Terry Gilliam’s Brazil, which was very influential for me as a teenager, or the comics of Daniel Clowes and Chris Ware—which can be simultaneously funny and painful—the stories of Kelly Link. In fact, I love anything that exists in that space between scary and funny, or serious and frivolous. I suppose I’m interested in figuring out the difference, why we react to some things as creepy and disconcerting, and to others as delightful and amusing. I think the one-eyed creature you mention is a good one for that kind of emotional litmus test. It is both disquieting and inviting, cool and warm. A lot of the work at the easel is about striking that balance, and it is a very precarious balance that can take days to get right. For me it comes down to a backlit feather, the obscured parts of a face, the movement of shadow on stems of grass.

(2) GIANCOLA EXHIBITION. The Huntsville (AL) Museum of Art will host “Donato Giancola: Adventures in Imagination” from October 30 through January 22. Giancola is the winner of three Hugo Awards, a World Fantasy Award, plus 23 Chesley Awards for his superlative work in the field.

Donato Giancola is an American artist specializing in narrative realism with science fiction and fantasy content. Considered the most successful sci-fi/fantasy illustrator working today, he creates engaging paintings that bridge the worlds of contemporary and historical figurative arts. Exclusive to the Huntsville Museum of Art, Adventures in Imagination will include a range of thematic subjects, including paintings and drawings based on the popular HBO series Game of Thrones, J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter, J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, and the fantasy tabletop role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons. Also included are works created to illustrate the covers and stories of recent fantasy novels, as well as other surprises….

(3) CLOSE YOUR EYES. “Doctor Who: Every Companion Featured in the Centenary Special” – in case you don’t have enough spoilage already, CBR.com says they’ve named them all.

“The Power of the Doctor” was significant in Doctor Who history in more ways than one. Not only did the episode see Jodie Whittaker’s Thirteenth Doctor regenerate into one of her former selves for the first time in the series’ history, but the special was part of the BBC’s centenary celebration. The episode marked the occasion well with the return of some familiar faces from the sci-fi series’ long history, which spans more than half the BBC’s lifetime….

(4) A BOOK WITH A DIFFERENT KIND OF PROMOTION. Tananarive Due is named one of the “5 Female Demi-Gods of Horror” by CrimeReads.

TANANARIVE DUE: “Ghost Summer: Stories” (Sept. 2015)

From the USA, I present Ghost Summer: Stories, a collection of horror stories featuring fourteen short stories and the novella, Ghost Summer, from which the book gets its title. The work showcases Due’s undisputable skill as a master storyteller. Due also makes little intimate notes after each story which the reader will find just as engaging. The stories are creepy, and the horror subtle, yet powerful. Stories like The Knowing, (dealing with a woman who knows when everybody she meets is going to die, including her own son) and Ghost Summer, (featuring a town where the children are the only ones to see the ghosts dwelling in their midst) are my personal favourites. The themes of racial injustices, as well as historical events, come together to make this book a must-read for every horror fan this Halloween. Another hit by this fiercely unconventional American horror writer….

(5) IS IT A GOOD FAKE? “When a Modern Director Makes a Fake Old Movie: A Video Essay on David Fincher’s Mank. Open Culture analyzes how effective the deception is.

As of this writing, Mank is David Fincher’s newest movie — but also, in a sense, his oldest. With Netflix money behind him, he and his collaborators spared seemingly no expense in re-creating the look and feel of a nineteen-forties film using the advanced digital technologies of the twenty-twenties. The idea was not just to tell the story of Citizen Kane scriptwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz, but to make the two pictures seem like contemporaries. As Fincher’s production designer Donald Graham Burt once put it, the director “wanted the movie to be like you were in a vault and came across Citizen Kane and next to it was Mank.” ….

Here’s a video about the challenge David Fincher took on.

(6) BECALMED IN WINTER. George R.R. Martin was on Stephen Colbert’s show to promote other books and projects, however, you won’t be surprised that it was only the book he doesn’t have out that made news. In The Hollywood Reporter: “George R.R. Martin Says ‘The Winds of Winter’ Is Now Three-Quarters Finished”.

George R.R. Martin is giving a specific update on his Winds of Winter progress.

The Game of Thrones and House of the Dragon author was on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on Tuesday, where he was asked the mandatory, yet wearisome, question about his progress on the long-long-awaited next A Song of Ice and Fire book.

“I think it’s going to be a very big book [more than 1500 pages] and I think I’m about three-quarters of the way done,” Martin said. “The characters all interweave and I’m actually finished with a couple of the characters, but not others. I have to finish all that weaving.”

Colbert did the math. “So [it’s taken] 10 years to go 75 percent of the way through … which means about … three more years?”

“That’s depressing,” Martin replied, and also lamented that the moment he finishes, he’ll get the first tweet asking when his seventh and final ASOIAF book is coming, A Dream of Spring. The author said he hasn’t even played his hit game, Elden Ring, due to his writing commitment….

(7) THE HILLS ARE ALIVE WITH THE SOUND OF GAIMAN. “Author Neil Gaiman to Release First Album with Australian String Quartet” reports American Songwriter.

Creator of The Sandman, Stardust, American Gods, and countless graphic novels and books, Neil Gaiman is releasing his first album of original music, Signs of Life (Instrumental Recordings) in collaboration with the Australian FourPlay String Quartet, out April 28, 2023.

All words, music, and backing vocals provided by Gaiman, the album comes after the author and quartet have collaborated for more than 12 years. The quartet was first commissioned to compose a soundtrack for Gaiman’s 2010 novella, The Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains, which they later performed together.

Ahead of the April 2023 release, Gaiman and the quartet shared two new singles, “Bloody Sunrise” and “Credo,” the former accompanied by an official music video, directed by James Chappell, featuring Goodridge, who sings lead vocals, lying in a coffin and rising to perform with the FourPlay String Quartet in a graveyard. Gaiman, who also sings backing vocals, also makes a cameo on a flickering television screen at the beginning of the video….

(8) PLANETARY POSTER CHILD. In time for Halloween, NASA’s Exoplanet Exploration webpage invites us into the “Galaxy of Horrors”.

Take a tour of some of the most terrifying and mind-blowing destinations in our galaxy … and beyond. After a visit to these nightmare worlds, you may never want to leave Earth again! You can also download our free posters – based on real NASA science – if you dare.

Here’s an example:

(9) MEMORY LANE.

1950s [By Cat Eldridge.] Ray Bradbury’s EC Comics 

During a particularly wonderful moment in the early 1950s, EC Comics adapted twenty-five classic Ray Bradbury stories into comics form. Al Feldstein scripted, and all of EC’s artists illustrated, his tales  — Johnny Craig, Reed Crandall, Jack Davis, Will Elder, George Evans, Frank Frazetta, Graham Ingels, Jack Kamen, Roy Krenkel, Bernard Krigstein, Joe Orlando, John Severin, Angelo Torres, Al Williamson, and Wallace Wood. 

Now the twenty-five stories themselves were done between 1951 and 1954 in oversized newspaper style design. The volume also includes ten “related” stories.

The title story apparently combines two of his stories, those being “Kaleidoscope” and “Rocket Man”, and Bradbury was very proud of the result. “Sound of Thunder”, which was later filmed, is here as well. So is a favorite story of mine, “The Million Years Picnic”. 

Bradbury had several primary sources for these stories  — the Dark Carnival tales, The Martian ChroniclesThe Golden Apples of the Sun and The Illustrated Man stories.

Now Fantographics has gathered all them including those maybe unauthorized stories in Home to Stay!: The Complete Ray Bradbury EC Stories.

Not at all surprisingly, it has a load of bonus features, including introductions and commentary by Greg Bear, Thommy Burns, Bill Mason, Dr. Benjamin Saunders, and Ted White; a nice look at the comics by Bradbury; and two full-color paintings by Frank Frazetta.

It’s the usual superbly fine work by Fantographics at, all things considered, a very reasonable price, just seventy-five dollars.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 26, 1934 Dan McCarthy. The grand old man of New Zealand fandom. He belonged to Aotearapa, New Zealand’s APA, for 25 years, and was its official editor from 1986-1987 and 2001-2003. As a member, he contributed 77 issues of his fanzine Panopticon, for which he did paintings and color graphics. His skills as a fanartist were widely appreciated: he was a Fan Guest of Honour at the New Zealand national convention, a nominee for the Sir Julius Vogel Award, and he won NZ Science Fiction Fan Awards (the predecessor of the Vogel) Best Fan Artist twice. (Died 2013.) (JJ) 
  • Born October 26, 1942 Bob Hoskins. I’ll insist his role as Eddie Valiant in Who Framed Roger Rabbit? is his finest genre role although I suppose Mario Mario in Super Mario Bros. could be said… Just kidding!  He played Professor George Challenger in a film version of Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World, and also appeared in Snow White and The Huntsman, Hook, the Hugo-nominated Brazil, A Christmas Carol, Son of The Mask, and as the voice of The Badger in an animated version of The Wind in The Willows. (Died 2014.)
  • Born October 26, 1945 Jane Chance, 77. Scholar specializing in medieval English literature, gender studies, and J. R. R. Tolkien with a very, very impressive publication list for the latter such as Tolkien’s Art: A “Mythology for EnglandTolkien the MedievalistThe Lord of the Rings: The Mythology of Power and Tolkien, Self and Other: “This Queer Creature”
  • Born October 26, 1953 Jennifer Roberson, 69. Writer of of fantasy and historical romances. The Chronicles of the Cheysuli is her fantasy series about shapeshifters and their society, and the Sword-Dancer Saga is the desert-based adventure series of sort, but the series I’ve enjoyed most is her Sherwood duology that consists of Lady of the Forest and Lady of Sherwood that tells that tale from the perspective of Marian. Her hobby, which consumes much of her time, is breeding and showing Cardigan Welsh Corgis.
  • Born October 26, 1962 Cary Elwes, 60. He’s in the ever-so-excellent Princess Bride as Westley / Dread Pirate Roberts / The Man in Black which won a Hugo at Nolacon II. He also shows up in Dr. Lawrence Gordon in the Saw franchise, and was cast as Larry Kline, Mayor of Hawkins, for the third season of Stranger Things. And that’s hardly all his genre roles. 
  • Born October 26, 1963 Keith Topping, 59. Writer from England. It being the month of ghoulies, I’ve got another academic for you. He’s published a number of non-fiction reference works – frequently in collaboration with Martin Day and/or Paul Cornell – for various genre franchises, including The Avengers, The X-Files, Stargate SG-1Star Trek Next Generation and Deep Space NineBuffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, and for horror film fans in general, A Vault of Horror: A Book of 80 Great British Horror Movies from 1956-1974. He’s also written four novels in the Doctor Who universe, and co-authored The DisContinuity Guide.
  • Born October 26, 1971 Anthony Rapp, 51. Lieutenant Commander Paul Stamets on Discovery. His first role ever was Wes Hansen in Sky High, and he showed up early in his career as Jeff Glaser in the “Detour” episode of X-Files. He was Seymour Krelbourn in a national tour of Little Shop of Horrors.
  • Born October 26, 1976 Florence Kasumba, 46. Actor of German Ugandan heritage who has done films in English, German, and Dutch languages. She is best known for her role as Ayo in the Marvel universe movies Captain America: Civil War, the Hugo nominated Black Panther, and Avengers: Infinity War, but she also had a role in the Hugo-winning Wonder Woman, played the Wicked Witch of the East in the TV series Emerald City, and voiced a character in the live-action remake of The Lion King.

(11) HO HO HO, IT’S THE GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY. Entertainment Weekly cues up the clip: “The Guardians of the Galaxy kidnap Kevin Bacon in their first holiday special trailer” .

Yes, the real Kevin Bacon.

The Guardians of the Galaxy are rockin’ around the Christmas tree — or is that the Christmas Groot?

Director James Gunn has shared the first trailer for the Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special, teasing our first look at Marvel’s most festive project yet. The upcoming special will debut on Disney+ in November, and it follows everyone’s favorite ragtag band of space weirdos as they cavort around the universe and try to spread a little Christmas cheer….

(12) MAYBE IT’S JUST SOCIAL MEDIA DOES THAT. Try not to be disappointed, however, video games may not rot your brain after all! The Verge reports “Kids who play video games score higher on brain function tests”.

Kids who play video games have better memory and better control over their motor skills than kids who don’t, according to a new study looking at adolescent brain function.

Video games might not be responsible for those differences — the study can’t say what the causes are — but the findings add to a bigger body of work showing gamers have better performance on some tests of brain function. That lends support to efforts to develop games that can treat cognitive problems.

… To study video games and cognition, the research team on this new study pulled from the first set of assessments in the ABCD study. It included data on 2,217 children who were nine and 10 years old. The ABCD study asked participants how many hours of video games they played on a typical weekday or weekend day. The research team divided the group into video gamers (kids who played at least 21 hours per week) and non-video gamers (kids who played no video games per week). Kids who only played occasionally weren’t included in the study. Then, the research team looked at the kids’ performance on tests that measure attention, impulse control, and memory.

The video gamers did better on the tests, the study found…. 

(13) HOW LONG CAN YOU HOLD YOUR BREATH? “NASA instrument detects dozens of methane super-emitters from space” at Yahoo!

An orbital NASA instrument designed mainly to advance studies of airborne dust and its effects on climate change has proven adept at another key Earth-science function – detecting large, worldwide emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas.

The device, called an imaging spectrometer, has identified more than 50 methane “super-emitters” in Central Asia, the Middle East and the Southwestern United States since it was installed in July aboard the International Space Station, NASA said on Tuesday.

The newly measured methane hotspots – some previously known and others just discovered – include sprawling oil and gas facilities and large landfills….

(14) WHY I OTTER… “In Prehistoric Ethiopia, Otters Were as Big as Lions” according to Atlas Obscura.

SOME THREE MILLION YEARS AGO, one of our early hominin ancestors was chowing down on some leaves along a riverbank in what is now Ethiopia. And there it was—440 pounds of fur, with teeth strong enough to crush bone. An otter the size of a large male lion ambled through the dense grasses before bending down to drink from the muddy riverbank. Our ancestor, we figure, crept back into the surrounding woodlands. It doesn’t matter how potentially adorable the giant otter may (or may not) have been, you just don’t want to cross an animal that size.

The otter, Enhydriodon omoensis, is the largest ever found. A new study in the French journal Comptes Rendus Palevol is the first to classify the species, naming it after Ethiopia’s Omo River, where its remains were uncovered. While the study calls the otter “lion-sized,” paleontologist Margaret Lewis of Stockton University in New Jersey, who first analyzed some of the fossils in 2008*, thinks “that’s kind of underselling it.” “Bear otter,” she says, is perhaps a better term to encapsulate just how massive these otters were. Okay, grizzly otter it is….

(15) TOM AND JERRY ON THEIR WAY TO THE CRUSADES. “Artist Makes Astonishing Armor for Cats & Mice”. Open Culture admires the work.

…Using steel, silver, brass, bronze, nickel, copper, leather, fiber, wood, and his delicate jewelry making tools, DeBoer became the cats’ armorer, spending anywhere from 50 to 200 hours producing each increasingly intricate suit of feline armor.  A noble pursuit, but one that inadvertently created an “imbalance in the universe”:

The only way to fix it was to do the same for the mouse.

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Game Trailers:  Grounded,” the Screen Junkies say this game, where you shrink to bug size and run around a back yard, is a cross between Honey, I Shrunk The Kids and “any survival game you’ve ever played.” With the game explorers’ “greatest fear:  touching grass.”  But what other game lets you paint your own sphid?

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

Pixel Scroll 7/22/22 And The Pixel That Was Planted In My Brain Still Remains, Within The Scrolls Of Filers

(1) BOT AND PAID FOR. In “Fandoms Can Do Bad All by Themselves”, Vice looks at reports about what percentage of social media support for the release of the Zack Snyder cut of Justice League came from bots, but concludes most of it was probably genuine.

According to a report in Rolling Stone, the very online campaign for the release of Zack Snyder’s cut of Justice League was a battle waged in no small part by bots. The report is gossipy fun and well worth reading in full—multiple sources tell reporter Tatiana Siegel that Snyder, discoursing on his enemies to a studio executive, said, “I will destroy them on social media,” and it gets more absurd from there—but the main impression the reader is left with is that the pro-Snyder movement was perhaps not quite as organic as it seemed. One interesting thing is that it’s not clear how much that would matter—the behavior of most fandoms when they’re incensed, after all, is not all that different from bots to begin with.

… The outlet commissioned reports from three different cybersecurity and social-media firms, and also quotes from reports that were commissioned by Warner Bros. According to reports commissioned by Rolling Stone, at least 13% of the accounts using the hashtags related to the Snyder fandom were deemed fake—much higher than the average of around 5%. Because people and bots using this hashtag would often target specific Warner Bros. executives with implied death threats, Rolling Stone reports, the studio hired cybersecurity firms to analyze its contents. While all acknowledge that any popular hashtag will have bot activity, at a few points in the article different people argue that if Snyder was scheming behind the scenes at the Warner Bros. studios, then these bots must have been under his control as well. (One site, forsnydercut.com, was at one point registered by an ad agency, but Rolling Stone was unable to establish a connection between Snyder and a person apparently behind the site, whom he denied knowing or hiring.)

While this report is full of juicy gossip surrounding Snyder’s behavior towards the people he felt had wronged him, it probably somewhat overstates the power of robot armies; whatever else Snyder was or wasn’t in control of, he certainly knew how to present himself to a fandom in order to garner its sympathy….

(2) LOVE NEVER FAILS. “Sarah Gailey On Loving Monsters” at CrimeReads.

Just Like Home is dedicated “to everyone who ever loved a monster.”

It is the easiest thing in the world to love a monster. It’s easy to love a monster because love isn’t a decision. It’s no one’s fault that love happens. Emotions, urges, and impulses are themselves beyond our ability to control. Love in its many forms wells up out of the human spirit irrepressibly. Like anger or sadness or the desire to kill, it arrives without invitation or intention. Action might spring from emotion—love might lead to an expression of affection, anger might lead to violence, a powerful impulse might lead to a monstrous act. But on its own, love is no different from any other feeling. To love a monster is easy, when the monster seems loveable.

It’s easy for a monster to seem loveable. All monsters partition other people into two categories—those who witness their monstrosity, and those who don’t. Maybe this is because the monster sees the world as divided into unequal parts, where some deserve to flourish while others deserve to be the targets of ungoverned impulse. Or maybe it’s because monsters want to be loved just as much as anyone else, and they understand that those who experience their ungoverned impulses aren’t likely to give them support, affection, admiration. Maybe it’s just another reflex, as unconscious as the way my voice slips into a slightly different register when I’m around trusted friends….

(3) AFROFUTURISM NEWS. In the Guardian’s interview with artist and filmmaker Edward George, he talks about Black cultural history, Tupac Shakur, the evolution of dub and his remarkable cinema essays with the Black Audio Film Collective: “Edward George: ‘You can’t have Afrofuturism without some ambience of a fascist thinking creeping in’”.

…Last Angel is not only a film about science fiction but, partly influenced by Chris Marker’s 1962 film La Jetée, it features a character called the “data thief” who travels back from the year 2195 to probe the failure of the Ghanaian revolution. If this all sounds hugely ambitious, Icarean even, that’s part of its appeal. It played a crucial role in popularising Afrofuturism – a term first coined by white theorist Mark Dery, and now used to describe countless exhibitions, film series and even films (such as the feudalism-romanticising Black Panther) in which the term is used breezily, a floating signifier for something to do with technophilia, empowerment, a vague and breezy form of utopianism. “Because of the ways it uses the archive, its montage, its commentary – the film has become a codex of futurity,” says George.

“If you want to fetishise futurity less, you have to go back to the plantations and to the slaves themselves: a lot of the songs that they were singing were literally about a tomorrow. These were cast in the metaphysical language of the day – that of the Bible – which was an act of mastery in itself. More than that, look at Italian futurism in the early 20th century: it opened out on to all kinds of fascism. You can’t have futurity, or futurism, or Afrofuturism, without some ambience of a fascist thinking creeping in.”…

(4) FLINT FUNDRAISER ACHIEVES GOAL. The “Eric Flint” GoFundMe created to help pay the costs of memorial services raised $12,540. The organizer announced, “The family wants to thank you for your generosity. We have reached the goal and will be closing the campaign. Hug your loved ones today.”

(5) SFWA SPOTLIGHTS ROMANCE STEERING COMMITTEE. The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association (SFWA) announced that a SFWA Romance Steering Committee (RSC) was formed in Fall 2021.

The RSC will offer meaningful input and assistance in cultivating a positive trajectory for authors of stories that combine fantasy, science fiction, and romance in a way that encourages diversity, engagement, and quality, while also providing outreach and support resources for romance writers struggling with inclusion in the SFF community at large.

RSC resources that are already available, or will be soon, include:

  • The SFWA Discord channel #romantic-sff
  • Monthly posts in the Romancing SFF series on the SFWA Blog searchable here.
  • A Romancing SFF Meetup to be held in the fall.

The members of the Romance Steering Committee are Alexia Chantel, Claire Davon, Miranda Honfleur (co-chair), Victoria Janssen, Chelsea Mueller (co-chair), Abigail Reynolds, Katherine Ley, and R.K. Thorne.

(6) HOT ITEM. From AbeBooks “Most expensive sales from April to June 2022”, see the asbestos-bound copy of Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. The third-biggest sale of the quarter, it went for $22,500.

This is the famous asbestos-bound edition of Bradbury’s classic dystopian novel about the power of books. #83 of 200 signed and numbered copies. A regular signed first edition of Fahrenheit 451 sold for $12,000 via AbeBooks earlier in the year.

Sixth on the list was Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland illustrated by Salvador Dali sold for $21,375.

(7) CYBER-GROUNDHOG DAY. [Item by Daniel Dern.] Sure, sounds useful, but also “Yet another ‘what could possibly go wrong,’ e.g., heists/capers, foreign invaders, alien invaders, and AI/cyber takeovers. E.g, Niven/Pournelle Oath of Fealty, probably also at least one PK Dick story. “Earthgrid Aims To Rewire the USA Using Super-Cheap Tunnel Tech” at Slashdot.

Bay Area startup Earthgrid says it’s developing a plasma boring robot that can dig underground tunnels 100x faster and up to 98% cheaper than existing tech, and it plans to use it to start re-wiring America’s energy, internet and utilities grids….

(8) SHATNER LENDING VOICE TO MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE. Yahoo! was a witness as “William Shatner crashes Comic-Con—and soon, Masters Of The Universe”.

He-Man and his friends will welcome a new addition to the follow-up to Netflix’s Masters Of The Universe: Revelation—an animated series set in outer space that, up until now, has been sorely lacking anyone who’s actually been in outer space. William Shatner made a surprise appearance at Thursday’s San Diego Comic-Con panel celebrating 40 years of Masters Of The Universe toys, films, and series, at which series creator Kevin Smith confirmed that Shatner will voice a mystery character in the upcoming Masters Of The Universe: Revolution.

The legendary Star Trek actor and actual astronaut arrived to deliver the news of his casting in the most conceivably Comic-Con way possible: his booming voice startling and delighting Hall H audience members before he emerged to join the panel. The 2022 edition of the convention is a busy one for Shatner, who was also on hand to preview a forthcoming documentary about his life produced by Legion M, the production company created and led entirely by fans. “San Diego Comic-Con has grown,” he quipped. “There’s something in the water. It used to be a little sleepy town!”…

There are more details about the panel in CBR.com’s article “SDCC: He-Man & the Masters of the Universe 40th Anniversary Panel”.

Cora Buhlert is keeping a sharp eye on these developments. She notes there will be another Masters of the Universe panel on Friday focused on the toys. Plus, says Cora, “Mattel has a huge toy display at the con, including a diorama featuring the massive Eternia playset, of which only a handful were produced in the 1980s. Apparently, the Eternia set will be crowdfunded, e.g. Mattel will be collecting preorders and only then go into production. There are a couple of videos about the Mattel display online. This one is pretty detailed and offers a good look at the Eternia diorama and the other toys announced.”

(9) BUHLERT’S NEW TOY PHOTO STORY. The previous item would have been the perfect lead-in to a new Masters of the Universe figure photo story, but that’s not the source of her latest, which is “The Frost-Giant’s Daughter”, an adaptation of a story by Robert E. Howard.

…For those who don’t know, “The Frost-Giant’s Daughter” is the second story about Conan of Cimmeria that Robert E. Howard ever wrote, ninety years ago now. It was rejected by Weird Tales and only published in altered form (with Conan renamed Amra) in the fanzine The Fantasy Fan during Howard’s lifetime. The original version did not appear until way after Howard’s death. You can read the Amra version here.

“The Frost-Giant’s Daughter” is set early during Conan’s career. Many believe it is the earliest of Conan’s chronicles adventures. I’m not entirely convinced by this, but Conan is definitely young in this story.

My adaptation differs from the original story in two aspects. For starters, I made it less rapey. Secondly, instead of the male pseudo-Viking companions from the original story, the companion I gave Conan is Valeria of the Red Brotherhood, pirate, mercenary, swordswoman and all around awesome character, whom Conan meets in the later story “Red Nails”.

So I present you: “The Frost-Giant’s Daughter” by Robert E. Howard, starring Conan of Cimmeria and Valeria of the Red Brotherhood…

(10) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites listeners to dig into dumplings with Patrick O’Leary in episode 176 of the Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Patrick O’Leary

We discussed the way his new novel 51 is similar to The Great Gatsby, why he believes his books will crumble if he attempts to describe them, the perils and pleasures of pantsing (and how his stories often don’t get any good until the 15th draft), the tragedy of being an invisible creature, our mutual fears of what aging might bring, his love for Marvel Comics (and especially the Silver Surfer), how Laura Ingalls Wilder introduced him to literature, the way reading Kurt Vonnegut taught him there were no rules, the two science fiction greats who literally left him speechless, and much more.

(11) ALAN GRANT (1949-2022). Comic writer Alan Grant, best known for his work on Judge Dredd and Batman, died July 20 at the age of 73. 2000AD has a full profile of his career here.

…Grant was one of his generation’s finest writers, combining a sharp eye for dialogue and political satire with a deep empathy that made his characters seem incredibly human and rounded. Through his work he had a profound and enduring influence on 2000 AD and on the comics industry….

(12) MEMORY LANE.  

1922 [By Cat Eldridge.] One hundred years ago, Agatha Christie’s Secret Adversary was released in the United Kingdom by The Bodley Head. The novelintroduces Tommy and Tuppence who will be featured in three more novels and a collection of short stories. The five Tommy and Tuppence books would span Christie’s writing career.

The story here is that the Great War is over, and jobs are almost impossible to find, so childhood friends Tommy Beresford and Prudence “Tuppence” Cowley decide to start their own business as The Young Adventurers. In this novel, they are hired for a job that leads them into many dangerous situations, and meeting allies as well, including an American millionaire in search of his cousin.

The critics liked it. The Times Literary Supplement said it was “a whirl of thrilling adventures” and the Daily Chronicle was very happy with it: “It’s an excellent yarn and the reader will find it as impossible as we did to put it aside until the mystery has been fathomed.” 

It would be the second Christie work to be turned into a film as it would be made in Germany by the Orplid Film company in 1929 as a silent movie which ran for 76 minutes. Thought to be lost, it wasn’t and was shown at the National Film Theatre in 2001. 

The novel was adapted twice for television, in 1983 and in 2014. Significant changes were made to story. A graphic novel was done.  Several theatre productions were staged. 

(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 22, 1882 Margery Williams. The Velveteen Rabbit (or How Toys Become Real) is the work that is by far her best known work. Is it genre? Sure. And it has been adapted as video, audio and theatre myriad times. One audio version was narrated by Meryl Streep with music by George Winston. (Died 1944.)
  • Born July 22, 1932 Tom Robbins, 90. Author of such novels as Even Cowgirls Get the Blues and Another Roadside Attraction. ISFDB lists everything he’s done as genre and who am I to argue with them on this occasion at least? Well I will. Now Jitterbug Perfumethat’s definitely genre! Cowgirls Get the Blues got made into a rather excellent film by Gus Van Sant and stars Uma Thurman, Lorraine Bracco, and Keanu Reeves. Interesting note: Still Life with Woodpecker made the long list at one point for the Prometheus Award for Best Libertarian SF Novel. 
  • Born July 22, 1941 Vaughn Bodé. Perhaps best known for the Cheech Wizard character and his art depicting erotic women. For our purposes, he’s a contemporary of Ralph Bakshi and has been credited as a major influence on Bakshi’s The Lord of the Rings and Wizards. He’s been inducted into the Will Eisner Award Hall of Fame. (Died 1975.)
  • Born July 22, 1944 Nick Brimble, 78. His first genre role was in Lust for a Vampire as the First Villager. He next shows up in Roger Corman’s Frankenstein Unbound as The Monster.  He’s Sir Ectot in A Knight’s Tale which I really like be it genre adjacent or not. His lastest film genre role is as Dr. Zellaby in Soulmate, and he’s the voice of Owsla in the Watership series. 
  • Born July 22, 1959 Nigel Findley. He was a game designer, editor, and an author of science fiction and fantasy novels and RPGs. He was also part of the original Shadowrun RPG core group and has sole writing credit on both sourcebooks and Shadowrun world novels. Yes, I played Shadowrun, a most enjoyable experience. (Died 1995.)
  • Born July 22, 1972 Colin Ferguson, 50. Best known for being Sheriff Jack Carter on  Eureka. Damn I miss that series which amazingly won no Hugos. (I just discovered the series is on the Peacock streaming service which I subscribe to so I’m going to watch it again!) He’s also been in Are You Afraid of the DarkThe HungerThe X-FilesThe Outer Limits, the Eureka “Hide and Seek” webisodes (anyone seen these?) and The Vampire Diaries. Oh and he made a series of commercials for Maytag.

(14) COMICS SECTION.

  • Last Kiss has genre-related advice for a foundering romance.

(15) COLBERT AT COMIC-CON. “SDCC: Stephen Colbert hosts Lord Of The Rings extravaganza”A.V. Club has the story.

Amazon spent nearly half a billion dollars on their new Lord Of The Rings series, and at least half of that must’ve gone into their Comic-Con panel. Led by a string accompaniment featuring series composer Bear McCreary, the panel kicked off with the music of Middle Earth to set the stage, and Late Show host Stephen Colbert on hand to speak elvish and keep things moving.

Prime Video played a room-wrapping trailer on screens all around Hall H, showing off the various peoples of Middle Earth. And all that’s before showrunner J.D. Payne taught us to say “Oh, shit” in Elvish—only to be challenged by Colbert. “Tolkien speaks the language of the soul,” said Payne. And he also speaks the language of debate.

… And finally, Colbert asked question that was on everyone’s lips: “Will there be Entwives?”

“Maybe you’ve seen them already,” McKay teased.

(16) RINGS TRAILER. Here’s the “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power” trailer shown at San Diego Comic-Con. Begins streaming September 2 on Prime Video.

Discover the legend that forged the rings. #TheRingsOfPower Prime Video’s The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power brings to screens for the very first time the heroic legends of the fabled Second Age of Middle-earth’s history. This epic drama is set thousands of years before the events of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, and will take viewers back to an era in which great powers were forged, kingdoms rose to glory and fell to ruin, unlikely heroes were tested, hope hung by the finest of threads, and the greatest villain that ever flowed from Tolkien’s pen threatened to cover all the world in darkness. Beginning in a time of relative peace, the series follows an ensemble cast of characters, both familiar and new, as they confront the long-feared re-emergence of evil to Middle-earth. From the darkest depths of the Misty Mountains, to the majestic forests of the elf-capital of Lindon, to the breathtaking island kingdom of Númenor, to the furthest reaches of the map, these kingdoms and characters will carve out legacies that live on long after they are gone.

(17) FREE READ. Cora Buhlert has a new flash story online at Wyngraf Magazine. This one is called “Demon Child” which she says “is a changeling story in reverse.” The first line is —

“I swear to you, this baby is a monster,” Sansavi said as she pushed the pram back and forth across the black bridge of Zairahm….

(18) A COMIC ABOUT MARTIANS IN PASADENA. NPR presents “NASA engineer Nagin Cox on Mars rover time”. “This comic, illustrated by Anuj Shrestha, is inspired by an interview with NASA engineer Nagin Cox from TED Radio Hour’s episode It Takes Time.

(19) ALTERNATE RACE TO MARS CONTINUES. “’For All Mankind’ Renewed for Season 4 at Apple”Variety reports from Comic-Con.

For All Mankind” has been renewed for Season 4 at Apple.

The announcement was made Friday as part of the show’s panel at San Diego Comic-Con. Production on the new season is scheduled to begin in August. Season 3 of the series debuted on the streamer on June 10.

“For All Mankind” is an alternative history series that explores what would have happened if the global space race had never ended. The series presents an world where NASA astronauts, engineers and their families find themselves in the center of extraordinary events seen through the prism of an alternate history timeline — a world in which the USSR beats the US to the moon.

In Season 3, the series moved into the early ‘90s with a race to a new planetary frontier: Mars. The Red Planet becomes the new front in the Space Race not only for the U.S. and the Soviet Union, but also an unexpected new entrant with a lot to prove and even more at stake. The characters find themselves going head-to-head as their ambitions for Mars come into conflict and their loyalties are tested, creating a pressure cooker that builds to a climactic conclusion….

(20) STRANGER CHICKEN. Adweek is fascinated when “KFC Releases ’80s-Style Horror Film With Killer Pizza”.

The phenomenon of Netflix series Stranger Things has produced a resurgence of interest in ’80s horror movies. Now chicken restaurant chain KFC is looking to tap into that interest from younger consumers by producing its own short film in Spain, featuring killer pizza.

The fast-food chain has released La Massacre—a 14-minute short film, which tells the often-told story of five teenagers who travel to a remote cabin in the woods to enjoy a weekend away. However, once they reach it, they are stalked and killed by a terrifying entity shaped like a pizza.

(21) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Pitch Meeting,” Ryan George notes the sixth Harry Potter movie begins with Harry Potter breaking Hogwarts security by reading a magic newspaper in a Muggle coffee shop.  But Dumbledore drags him back to Hogwarts so that he can begin his yearly ritual of “placing children in mortal danger.” The producer notes that at Hogwarts “they really don’t teach anything except how to die a horrible death,” so Harry and the gang “spend way too much time on teenage romance.”  But things are so lax at Hogwarts that Harry nearly kills Draco Malfoy until Snape saves him but Harry isn’t punished for this.

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

Pixel Scroll 7/21/22 This Pixel Intentionally Left Indescrollable

(1) WICKED GOOD. [Item by Jennifer Hawthorne.] I was browsing this article in Slate and was pleasantly shocked to find Estraven from The Left Hand of Darkness on the list. There are other more mainstream SFFnal entries too. “The best death scenes in movies, TV, books, theater, songs, and more.”

…The death scene is one of the sharpest tools in a writer’s toolbox, as likely to wound the writer themself as the reader—for if a well-written death scene can be thrilling, terrifying, or filled with despair, so can a poorly written one be bathetic, stupid, and eye-rolling.

But let’s not talk about those. Let’s talk about the good ones, the deathless death scenes. We’ve assembled the 50 greatest fictional deaths of all time—the most moving, most funny, most shocking, most influential scenes from books, movies, TV, theater, video games, and more. Spoilers abound: It’s a list that spans nearly 2,500 years of human culture, from Athens to A24, and is so competitive that even poor Sydney Carton and his famous last words couldn’t make it…. 

(2) MOBY CLICK. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] In connection with the previous item, Slate also posted “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: Douglas Adams explains the whale scene”, a piece reprinted with the permission of his estate in which Douglas Adams reacts to the ways that some of his readers reacted to the death of the whale. And, one supposes, this Reprinted Reaction Reaction is now Canon. 

(3)  TIMING IS THE SECRET (NOT JUST OF COMEDY). Gizmodo reports the resolution of a story I first read on Petréa Mitchell’s SMOF News: “As Comic-Con Begins, Hotel Workers Went On Strike… And Won”.

Just as the Hilton Bayfront was set to open its doors to San Diego Comic Con attendees, special guests, and press, the workers at the hotel set up a picket line in front of the hotel. The strike only lasted a few hours, proving once again that collective action, worker solidarity, and excellent timing will often force management to come to the bargaining table willing to present reasonable offers.

The San Diego Union-Tribune reported that last Wednesday, despite the oncoming legion of nerds, geeks, and fans that are set to swarm the sold-out hotel, management had not come to an agreement with the Unite Here Local 30, which represents nearly 450 full-time employees and an additional 150 on-call workers. Today, however, they have presented an agreement that Brigette Browning, president of Unite Here Local 30, views positively, which ended the strike, for now….

(4) PICKET DUTY. Meanwhile, on the East Coast, “HarperCollins Workers Strike For Increased Wages, Benefits and Diversity”  reports the New York Times.

HarperCollins union members went on a one-day strike on Wednesday, with around 100 employees and additional supporters marching in front of the company’s corporate headquarters in Manhattan in the sticky heat for higher wages, better family leave benefits and a stronger commitment to diversity from the company.

Publishing has long offered meager wages to entry and midlevel employees, making it difficult to live in New York City, where the industry is based, without a second job or financial support from a spouse or family.

Many workers say that the low wages also make it hard for potential employees who don’t come from wealth to consider a career in publishing, which hampers efforts to diversify the mostly white industry.

“I love my job, I love my authors, it’s an incredible privilege to get to work on these books, and I would love to do it for the rest of my life, if I can afford to,” said Stephanie Guerdan, an associate editor in the children’s department who joined the strike.

But with a salary of $56,000 a year, she said, she worries she won’t be able to stay.

(5) HEAR THEM RING. A Marriott hosting San Diego Comic-Con visitors is wrapped with publicity for The Rings of Power.

Two tracks of music from the series have been made available to hear online.

(6) GAIMAN AS OPERA. The West Edge opera production of Coraline, based on Neil Gaiman’s book, will be performed at the Oakland Scottish Rite Center in Oakland, CA from July 30-August 7. Tickets here.

With great pleasure we present an opera that is for people of all ages who love gruesome things!

Coraline is a young girl whose life has been uprooted. As she wanders alone through her new creaky house, she tries to get the attention of her work-at-home parents to no avail. One day she discovers a mysterious door, through which she sets out on a terrifying adventure that tests the limits of human bravery.

(7) POWERS OF PERSUASION. While I’m already interested in Jane Austen, if I weren’t, Abigail Nussbaum’s “Four Comments on Netflix’s Persuasion at Asking the Wrong Questions would still rivet my interest. Following the four comments referenced in the title, she sums up:

…The correct attitude when approaching a field this vibrant and busy isn’t condescension, but humility. When even the specific sub-type of Austen adaptation you’re attempting—irreverent and modernized—includes films like Clueless, you don’t have the option of half-assing your work, or failing to think through your choices and how they affect the characters and plot. You have to be able to justify what you’re doing both as a reflection of what Austen wrote, and as a work in its own right. Persuasion does not even seem to have realized that it needed to do this…. 

(8) THAT EXPRESSION IS A SMILE. You might not expect to find James Davis Nicoll recommending “Five Feel-Good Comfort Reads”, but never underestimate his versatility.

Unlike the news, fiction is not limited to a seemingly unending cavalcade of disaster, calamity, and egregiously poor choices, a cavalcade as comforting as glancing up a mountainside to see an avalanche swiftly bearing down on one.  So, if doomscrolling is getting you down, consider stepping away from the newsfeeds to enjoy a comfort read or two…

First on the list, a work with previously unsuspected sff credentials:

Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons (1932)

Orphaned at nineteen, Flora Post embodies “every art and grace save that of earning her own living.” Without any other means at hand, she goes to live with distant relatives: the Starkadders, whose homestead, Cold Comfort Farm, is in the depths of rustic Sussex.

Flora intends to earn her living. The rural melodramas of such luminaries as Mary Webb (Gone to Earth) assure Flora that her unfortunate rural relatives must languish under a myriad of troubles that their simple rustic minds are incapable of solving. Indeed, each Starkadder struggles with issues so profound as to seem parodic. Flora, on the other hand, is a very modern, very organized girl. What seem like insurmountable challenges for her kinfolk are to her simple challenges easily solved.

Readers who know Cold Comfort Farm only from the otherwise exemplary 1995 film adaptation—”There’ll be no butter in hell!”—may be surprised to learn that Cold Comfort Farm was a science fiction novel of sorts. The 1932 text references the Anglo-Nicaraguan wars of ’46, establishing that the book takes place in what is now an alternate history.

(9) TONOPAH ON HIS MIND. Alan White’s personal Westercon 74 Memory Book is filled with entertaining snark and Alan’s marvelous art. It can be downloaded from eFanzines.com. Here’s a paragraph about staying at the Mizpah Hotel in Tonopah.

…The wind came up howling through the window with such force, we thought someone was testing a jet-engine in the alley. The window we could neither open nor close and not until closer inspection see the latch was off-kilter less than a hair’s breadth and with some force, clicked into place (phew). Not long after, there were other noises of speculation every time our neighbor visited the bathroom. There were noises not unlike the Titanic signaling for help whenever the faucets turned on and whenever they drew a bath, I swear there was the sound as if the Lady in Red was blowing a Vuvuzela from the drain in our bathtub. I won’t belabor you dear reader with the trifling sound coming from the air duct…

(10) MEMORY LANE.  

1986 [By Cat Eldridge.] So let’s talk about the five volumes of The Hugo Winners that Isaac Asimov edited, published in various editions between 1962 and 1986. The basic facts are that Asimov selected stories that won a Hugo Award for Short Story, Novelette or Novella at the Worldcons held between 1955 and 1982. That was fine.

However, the powers that be at Doubleday decided that Asimov was free to express his opinions. And oh, did he do so! To put it bluntly, this was quite unusual as the text ordinarily found in these anthologies is, errr, bland to a degree that should surprise no one. Just the facts, ma’am.

Not Asimov, who wrote a short introduction about each author in each anthology. And my. He named writers that he didn’t like, those he was quite jealous of. And he went at length about those writers who won awards ahead of him and how angry that made him as he should have won those awards instead. Of course, he always believed that he should’ve won every award. Poor Isaac.

He discussed his political beliefs as he supported the ending of the Vietnam War. Basically, he used the anthologies to express his annoyance with the universe.  Ok Asimov was never shy about expressing his opinions. I’m just surprised that Doubleday gave him carte blanche authority to write what he wanted.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 21, 1911 Marshall McLuhan. He coined the expressions the medium is the message and global village, and predicted the World Wide Web almost thirty years before it was invented. I read The Medium Is the Massage: An Inventory of Effects a long time ago. Somehow it seemed terribly quaint. (Died 1980.)
  • Born July 21, 1921 James Cooke Brown. He’s the creator of Loglan. Oh, and he did write SF. The Troika Incident written in 1970 features a global data net. That, and two short pieces of fiction, are the sum total of his of genre writings. The Troika Incident is available from Kindle but not from iBooks.  (Died 2000.)
  • Born July 21, 1929 John Woodvine, 93. First role in our realm is as Macbeth at Mermaid Theatre back in the early Sixties. Shortly thereafter, he’s Badger in Toad of Toad Hall at the Comedy Theatre before being The Marshal in the Fourth Doctor story, “The Armageddon Factor”.  He’s in An American Werewolf in London as Dr. J. S. Hirsch, and he had a recurring role in The Tripods as Master West. He did show up on The Avengers several times, each time as a different character, and he was Singri Rhamin for the episodes of Danger Man
  • July 21, 1933 John Gardner. Novelist, critic, teacher, medievalist, among other things. His student Jeffrey Ford described Gardner’s knowledge of literature as ‘encyclopedic,’ with no regard whatever for genre boundaries. He considered Stanislaw Lem the greatest living writer, disliked Tolkien’s poetry (an assessment I agree with) but thought The Lord of the Rings ‘one of the truly great works of the human spirit’. Most of his best works are fantasy: most famously Grendel, but also Freddy’s Book, Mickelson’s Ghosts, the short story collection The King’s Indian, and his posthumously-published short story, “Julius Caesar and the Werewolf”. His book The Art of Fiction is well worth reading for anyone interested in fiction, as a writer or a reader. (Died 1982.) (PhilRM)
  • Born July 21, 1948 G. B. Trudeau, 74. Ok we decided when I first put this Birthday up that there’s enough content to be genre, but he did an amazing series on the Apple Newton when it came out. A Doonesbury Retrospective series is up to three volumes and is available from the usual suspects at very reasonable prices. 
  • Born July 21, 1951 Robin Williams. Suicides depress me. I remember a bootleg tape of a performance of him and George Carlin in their cocaine fueled days. No, not even genre adjacent but damn brilliant. Such manic energy. Genre wise, he was brilliant in most everything he did, be it Mork & Mindy, Hook which I adore, The Fisher KingBicentennial Man or Jumanji. (Died 2014.)
  • Born July 21, 1960 Lance Guest, 62. He’s an American film and television actor, best known for his lead role in The Last Starfighter. He also shows up in Jaws: The Revenge as Michael Brody, as Jimmy in Halloween II, as Kyle Lane in “Fearful Symmetry” episode of The X-Files and as The Burning Zone in “The Critical Mass” episode of The Burning Zone
  • Born July 21, 1976 Jaime Murray, 46. If you watch genre television, you’ve most likely seen her as she’s been Helena G. Wells in Warehouse 13, Stahma Tarr in Defiance, Fiona/the Black Fairy In Once Upon a Time, Antoinette in The Originals, and Nyssa al Ghul in Gotham. She voices Camilla in Castlevania. Filmwise, she was Livinia in The Devil’s Playground and Gerri Dandridge in Fright Night 2: New Blood

(12) BLACK ASL. Black Nerd Problems tells how “’The Champion’s Hike’ Brings African American Sign Language to ‘Craig of the Creek’”.

…“The Champion’s Hike” episode centers around Craig trying to fit in among his former enemies turned friends and Maya being the one to let him know that it’s okay to just be himself. The other portion of this story is how we get to see African American Sign language on screen via Jackie who is deaf. We see Jackie’s father communicating with him prior to the group leaving. We also see Keun-Sup signing communicating to Jackie with ASL as well. Not only do we get to see African American Sign Language, but this episode gives us sign language conversation between two characters of color. We also see Craig learning more ASL and remembering what he’s learned prior from Keun in order to interact with Jackie. Craig of the Creek really be out here thinking of everything man.

There is an artist touch used here as well where we know what is being said of the conversation only by how Keun reacts verbally to what Jackie is saying. We viewers who aren’t versed in ASL won’t understand what’s being said (like the conversation between Jackie and his father) However, that’s fine because it’s not for us….

The episode also attracted the attention of the Los Angeles Times: “How ‘Craig of the Creek’ got Black American Sign Language right”.

…It’s a moment that the episode’s consultants, from Southern California Black Deaf Advocates, point to as a highlight of their experience on the series.

“I teach parents [who have deaf children] how to sign, so the fact that a Black father was signing to his son, that exposure and that emphasis was so amazing,” said Deaf mentor Bibi Ashley through a sign language interpreter during a recent video call. “Just seeing that interaction, that was my favorite part.”…

(13) TALKING HEADS. Let SYFY Wire usher you through “Funko’s tour of Funkoville at SDCC 2022”.

With San Diego International Comic-Con returning this week at full capacity for the first time since July 2019, plenty of companies are finding space around the Gaslamp or on the show floor to welcome back fans and communities in a big way.

One of them is Funko, the collectible company which has long catered to corralling their hyper-engaged audience with live events at cons and at their HQ stores in Everett, Washington and Hollywood, California. After having to go virtual with their FunKon event in 2021, SDCC 2022 finds Funko incorporating the lessons learned during the pandemic and applying them to their massive new show floor booth space which they’ve dubbed Funkoville. 

(14) THEME PARK PUNCHOUT. “Disney World Brawl: Fantasyland Becomes Nightmare As Melee Breaks Out”Deadline has the story.

Close on the heels of a massive brawl that forced Knott’s Berry Farm in Southern California to close early on Saturday, video has surfaced of another large melee at Walt Disney World in Florida on Wednesday.

Video posted online shows at least 6 people simultaneously engaged in physical combat, as dozens of others hover at the edges, some trying to break it up and others at times joining the fray. One large group of about a half-dozen people are dressed in coordinated red shorts and white t-shirts with mouse ears on the front. They seem to be fighting with another equally large group, at least one of whom is heard using a racial slur.

The melee took place behind Cinderella’s Castle just in front of Peter Pan’s Flight in Fantasyland, according to a local Fox affiliate. The sheriff also confirmed to the outlet that one man was hospitalized after the incident and three people were arrested for misdemeanor battery.

This is at least the third sizable fistfight at the Magic Kingdom in as many months, according to reports.

Video of the incident and further updates are posted at WDW News Today: “UPDATE: Guest Involved in Magic Kingdom Brawl Reveals Story & More Footage”.

(15) FANCY DUDS. Just what hangs in the TARDIS closet anyway? “Doctor Who costumes ranked from William Hartnell to Jodie Whittaker” at Radio Times.

The Seventh Doctor once claimed to have “an impeccable sense of haute couture”. Which was a pretty bold statement for a man wearing so many questions marks that even The Riddler probably thought it was “a bit on-the-nose”.

It’s far from the only statement look the Time Lord has sported over the years, of course. And now, if tabloid reports are to be believed – and they’re usually not, but go with me here – it seems Ncuti Gatwa’s Doctor is set to gallivant around the cosmos in a fetching pair of space wellies. So what more perfect time to bring you the Definitive Guide to Wellies in Doctor Who?

Just kidding (although the Cybermen did rock some delightful silver moon boots, back in the day): we’re actually here to talk about the Doctor’s duds down the years. And from Hartnell’s hat to Gatwa’s gumboots, it’s quite the catwalk parade…

(16) WHO HYPE. The Radio Times also reveals: “Doctor Who ‘gets behind-the-scenes spin-off series on BBC Three’”.

Returning Doctor Who showrunner Russell T Davies has commissioned a special behind-the-scenes series ahead of the next season with new Doctor Ncuti Gatwa, according to reports.

The BBC Three Doctor Who spin-off series will be titled Doctor Who: Unleashed and give fans a sneak-peek at the filming process, beginning with the 60th anniversary special next year and the surprise return of David Tennant and Catherine Tate, according to The Mirror.

The series will apparently be similar in format to Doctor Who Confidential, the behind-the-scenes sister show that ran from 2005 to 2012. It will reportedly continue to air alongside the next full season.

(17) DOPEST NIGHT SKY. Sometimes it isn’t aliens… “Strange Pink Glow in Sky Turns Out to Be Caused by Monster Weed Farm” says the Daily Beast.

Turns out that residents in the Australian city of Mildura didn’t need to panic when a mysterious pink glow appeared in the sky on Wednesday night—the feared alien invasion was really just light coming from a huge medical cannabis farm where staff forgot to close the blinds. The sinister hue of the celestial phenomenon was attributed to special lamps used in weed cultivation….

(18) CSI SKILL TREE. The Center for Science and Imagination’s Skill Tree event on sound and worldbuilding can now be viewed on YouTube here, and all ten CSI Skill Tree episodes are available from this playlist.

In this episode of CSI Skill Tree, we discuss how sound design and music in games contributes to worldbuilding, storytelling, and immersion. We look closely at Inside, a moody adventure game with environmental puzzles and grim, industrial aesthetics, and the iconic Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (1992), and consider how the possibilities for sound and music in games have changed over time. Our special guests are science fiction and fantasy author Tochi Onyebuchi (Goliath, Riot Baby) and composer and sound designer Amos Roddy, who has worked on a number of video games, including the recent cyberpunk hit Citizen Sleeper.

(19) MAD, YOU KNOW. Silvia Moreno-Garcia promotes The Daughter of Doctor Moreau on CrimeReads. “Bad Seeds and Mad Scientists: On the Build-A-Humans of 19th-Century Literature”.

…We owe the concept of criminal brains to Cesare Lombroso, an Italian physician who promulgated the idea that criminality was inherited, and that criminals could be identified by physical defects, which indicated savage or atavistic traits. Sloping foreheads or left-handedness were some of the physical signs of primitive qualities inherent in criminal brains. Lombroso’s theories on criminality would be incorporated into eugenic discourse, and the idea of the criminal brain as a source for the creature’s violent actions would be reused in many more adaptations to come….

(20) NOT JUST ANY REC ROOM. As Gizmodo phrases it, “Owen Wilson Is Iron Man With Kids in the Superhero Comedy Secret Headquarters”. Secret Headquarters streams beginning August 12 on Paramount+.

While hanging out after school, Charlie and his friends discover the headquarters of the world’s most powerful superhero hidden beneath his home. When villains attack, they must team up to defend the headquarters and save the world.

(21) LEAP YEAR. In the lead-up to SDCC, the showrunners of the new Quantum Leap sequel series have released some information about the show, which begins airing in September. Entertainment Weekly has the story: “Quantum Leap bosses preview thrilling new chapter”.

…Described as a spiritual scientist, quantum physicist Dr. Song has a specific approach to time travel. “He is compelled over and over again to make the right decision, even if his own life is at stake, so he is a much better person than I am in real life. He’s something to strive for,” Lee says. Dr. Song immigrated from Korea with his mother, which will be integral to the story Quantum Leap is telling. “We’re telling an immigrant story at its core, and it is how Ben is experiencing life moving forward,” Lilien explains.

Dr. Song’s partner will be decorated Army veteran Addison (Caitlin Bassett), who assists in the form of a hologram that only Ben can see and hear. While the pair’s dynamic has the banter of Sam Beckett (Scott Bakula) and Admiral Albert Calavicci (Dean Stockwell), the new iteration will be different. “Their relationship runs deeper than just being a hologram. They have a close relationship,” Lilien teases….

(22) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] RE the upcoming Quantum Leap series sequel, several years ago Colbert had Scott Bakula on The Late Show and they tried a reboot of their own.  Maybe the new series can take a page from them.

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

Pixel Scroll 6/18/22 It Takes A Scroll To Laugh, It Takes A Pixel To Cry

(1) IT’S STILL HOME. Samit Basu is a best-selling author in India who’s been published in the US/UK since 2013. His book The City Inside is a recent release from Tordotcom. In a guest post at Stone Soup he questions “When Is A Dystopia Just The Real World?”

…I wanted to write a near-future projection of my surroundings that was pragmatic, but optimistic. I’ve lived in Delhi for many years now, and however bad it gets, you can’t really see the place where you live as dystopian – genrewise, it’s also the setting for your romances, your office comedies, your reluctant action-adventures, your gritty urban dramedies, your heartwarming holiday specials. You live in this odd multi-tab chaos that makes you extremely conscious of your own privileges, because you’re in proximity to people whose living conditions are extremely challenging, especially in politically apocalyptic times. And this convinces you – or convinced me, at least – that whatever happens, however bad things get, the people in this city – or any other – will outlast it, because they have no choice. Not because they are passive, but because they are used to all systems failing them, and will always cling on to hope. And if you have hope, if you have purpose, you’re not living in a dystopia, even if it looks like one from outside….

(2) LIGHTS! CAMERA! ACTION FIGURES! Cora Buhlert has posted another ingenious Masters of the Universe action figure photo story on her blog: “Masters-of-the-Universe-Piece Theatre: ‘Siblings’”.

Now Roboto has a bit of a strange history. He was an action figure in the 1980s, but he only had a handful of appearances in the original Filmation cartoon, where he was an alien explorer from a planet of robots who crashlanded on Eternia, was repaired by Man-at-Arms and wound up staying and fighting alongside He-Man and his friends.

The 2002 cartoon retconned his origin and made him a sentient and intelligent robot built by Man-at-Arms originally as a chess partner for Man-e-Faces. However, Roboto wanted to be a warrior, upgraded himself and heroically sacrificed himself in order to save He-Man and all of Eternia from a plague of multiplying skeletons. Luckily, Man-at-Arms was able to repair him and so Roboto was frequently seen fighting alongside the other heroic warriors.

Masters of the Universe: Revelation tweaked Roboto’s backstory yet again. He’s still a sentient and intelligent robot who was built by Man-at-Arms, but in Revelation Roboto considers Duncan his father and Teela his sister and refers to them as such….

It’s also on Twitter – here is an excerpt.

(3) WRITERS GET PAID. Preferably.

(4) PLEASE KEEP YOUR SEATS ‘TIL THE TRAIN COMES TO A COMPLETE STOP. Deadline has learned “‘Snowpiercer’ To End With Season 4 On TNT”.

TNT’s Snowpiercer will be pulling into the station. The post-apocalyptic drama’s upcoming fourth season, which is in production, will be its last. I hear the cast’s options were coming up and were not picked up, releasing the actors to book other jobs….

Snowpiercer, which follows the passengers of a perpetually moving train carrying the remnants of humanity after the world becomes a frozen wasteland, was the last remaining original scripted series on TNT as the other original drama still on the network, Animal Kingdom, is launching its final season on Sunday. The TNets already had been scaling back on original scripted fare; the process was accelerated by the Discovery-WarnerMedia merger….

(5) SOMETHING SHORT OF INFINITY. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Lightyear may be coming up a bit short. The new Disney/Pixar flick was expected to easily lead at the box office this Father’s Day/Juneteenth weekend. Instead, it seems to be coming in below expectations and in a close race with the latest Jurassic World movie. “Box Office: ‘Lightyear’ Could Get Clobbered by ‘Jurassic World 3’” in The Hollywood Reporter.

The animated family film was expected to open to at least $70 million to $85 million in North America, but now it looks like Lightyear may only buzz to $52 million to $55 million for the three-day weekend.

Universal and Amblin’s Jurassic World Dominion could stomp to $57 million in its second outing.

Monday is a federal holiday honoring Juneteenth, so Monday could look more like a Saturday and Sunday in terms of traffic at the box office. Universal insiders believe Jurassic World 3‘s domestic total could climb as high as $66 million for the four days.

(6) HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. Book Riot’s Arvyn Cerézopoints to “11 Must-Read Filipino Sci-Fi Books”.

Philippine literature is slowly gaining international recognition, especially when it comes to general fiction and fantasy. And there are even more sub-genres waiting to be explored by international readers. For instance, though there’s a dearth of Filipino sci-fi books, they are so rare and precious that it’s only once in a while when they come out. In fact, you can count them on one hand.

… Although there’s an apparent short supply of Filipino science fiction books in circulation, I’ve managed to find 11 of them.

Their recommendations lead off with:

SCIENCE FICTION: FILIPINO FICTION FOR YOUNG ADULTS BY DEAN FRANCIS ALFAR AND KENNETH YU

Dean Francis Alfar, one of the more widely recognized Filipino speculative fiction writers, has written many books in the genre. Salamanca, his first novel, is considered to be a modern classic.

In this collection, however, he edited science fiction stories for Filipino young readers, which might be the first in the Philippines. The collection features stories from known Filipino spec fic writers such as Victor Fernando Ocampo, Nikki Alfar, Eliza Victoria, and Gabriela Lee. This is really sure to please.

(7) YOU’RE FIRED. “SpaceX employees fired after writing letter criticizing Elon Musk” – the Guardian has the story.

At least five employees were fired by private rocket company SpaceX after drafting and circulating an open letter criticizing founder Elon Musk and calling on executives at the start-up to make the company’s work culture more inclusive, according to two people familiar with the matter.

…SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell sent an email saying the company had investigated and “terminated a number of employees involved” with the letter, the New York Times said.

The newspaper said Shotwell’s email said employees involved with circulating the letter had been fired for making other staff feel “uncomfortable, intimidated and bullied, and/or angry because the letter pressured them to sign onto something that did not reflect their views”.

Reuters could not independently confirm that report.

The earlier open letter to SpaceX executives seen by Reuters had called Musk a “distraction and embarrassment” to the company he founded.

In a list of three demands, the letter said: “SpaceX must swiftly and explicitly separate itself from Elon’s personal brand.”

It added: “Hold all leadership equally accountable to making SpaceX a great place to work for everyone” and “define and uniformly respond to all forms of unacceptable behavior”.

(8) SF LISTENING ON BBC RADIO 4. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] The Machine Stops is airing on BBC Radio 4.  

This is an audio adaptation of the classic E. M. Forster 1909 short story ‘The Machine Stops‘. This is a new version to the previous BBC Radio 4 one half a decade ago (2016).

A far future sees humanity living underground in a vast, highly automated complex run by a machine…

You can download it from here.

(9) NOTION’S ELEVEN. Gizmodo opines that these are “The 11 Best (and Worst) Sentient Robots From Sci-Fi”. (I’d liked to have seen the Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz here, too.)

HAL 9000 (2001: A Space Odyssey)

To kick things off, we have to talk about one of the most terrifying sentient bots of all—the “Heuristically programmed ALgorithmic Computer,” or HAL—from Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 film 2001, A Space Odyssey. And by design, he’s a pretty hard working bot: he’s built into the spacecraft where the film takes place, and is tasked with essentially running the ship. He opens doors, keeps life support systems afloat, and, like LaMDA, he can talk.

Unlike LaMDA though, HAL comes programmed with real, human emotions. And after encountering a minor glitch at the start of the film, those emotions are what cause HAL to go off the rails (to put it mildly).

“Most advanced computer theorists believe that once you have a computer which is more intelligent than man and capable of learning by experience, it’s inevitable that it will develop an equivalent range of emotional reactions—fear, love, hate, envy, etc,” Kubrick said about the bot in an interview. “Such a machine could eventually become as incomprehensible as a human being, and could, of course, have a nervous breakdown—as HAL did in the film.”

(10) MEDIA BIRTHDAY

2005 [By Cat Eldridge.] On this evening seventeen years ago, we got our first true look at David Tennant in that role. The episode was “The Parting Of The Ways” The episode of course, SPOILER ALERT! (Cue Dalek sound here) It featured Christopher Eccleston making his final appearance as the Ninth Doctor and marks the first appearance of David Tennant as the Tenth Doctor as we got our first regeneration of the modern era. END SPOILER ALERT!

It was written by Russell T. Davies who as we all know was responsible for reviving this series. It was directed by Joe Ahearne whose main credit to was the vampire series Ultraviolet. It was produced by Philip Collinson who is returneing to that role under Davies.

Of the modern Doctors, Tennant is by far my favorite one and I thought the stories were very fitting to him. He seemed both very human and very alien at the same time. From the very beginning in this episode, he seemed to have the role spot on. (Baker is by far my favorite of the older Doctors. BritBox is showing all of the surviving older Who episodes.)

Neither of the two male Doctors that followed was really to my liking, not quite sure why as the stories for the most were fine, though I did like the Thirteenth Doctor a lot. I just never warmed to either of them. I actually like the Tenth Doctor better than either of them.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born June 18, 1908 — Bud Collyer. He’s best-remembered  for his radio-starring role of Kent and Superman beginning in early 1940 on The Adventures of Superman on the Mutual Broadcasting System, a role he also would do in the later Superman and other cartoons such as Aquaman and the Batman/Superman Hour. He was posthumously named as one of the honorees by DC Comics in the company’s 50th anniversary publication Fifty Who Made DC Great. (Died 1969.)
  • Born June 18, 1917 — Richard Boone. He did only two genre roles of which one, playing Maston Thrust Jr. in The Last Dinosaur, I’m willing to bet almost all of you have never seen it. (It gets a fifty percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes.) The other however is one that nearly everyone here has heard, yes heard, as he voiced Smaug in the Rankin/Bass animated version of The Hobbit. Of course his major non-genre role was as Paladin in Have Gun, Will Travel which I’ve seen every episode of at least three times. Really I have. (Died 1981.)
  • Born June 18, 1931 — Dick Spelman. A fan and a legendary book dealer who was active at SF conventions from the late Seventies through the early Nineties. He chaired Windycon IX in 1982. He was a member of the board of directors of Chicon IV, and ran the Dealers’ Room at many Worldcons. In 1991 he sold his book business to Larry Smith and retired to Orlando, where he was active in local fannish affairs. (Died 2012.)
  • Born June 18, 1942 — Roger Ebert. He got his start as a fanzine writer while in high school, publishing the Stymie zine and having his writing appear in Xero, Yandro and many other zines such as Kipple, Parsection and Psi-Phi. At university, he was a member of the Champaign-Urbana Science Fiction Association. His fannish autobiography is How Propellor-Heads, BNFs, Sercon Geeks, Newbies, Recovering GAFIAtors and Kids in Basements Invented the World Wide Web, All Except for the Delivery System. Of course, he grew up to be a Pulitzer Prize-winning film reviewer. Mike has much more to say about him here. (Died 2013.)
  • Born June 18, 1947 — Linda Thorson, 75. Though Diana Rigg as Emma Peel was John Steed’s best known partner on The Avengers, she was not his first nor his last. His last one would be Tara King played by this actress. She was the only one to be a real spy. Interesting that other than an appearance on Tales from The Darkside, her only other genre performances was on The Next Gen as Gul Ocett in “The Chase” episode, and on the Good Witch as Mrs Hansen in “Graduation” episode.
  • Born June 18, 1949 — Chris Van Allsburg, 73. For some twenty years now until the Pandemic came upon us, the local Narrow Gauge Railroad ran a Polar Express every Christmas season compete with cars decorated in high Victorian fashion and steaming cups of hot chocolate for the children. It always sold out for the entire month they ran it. Allsburg‘s Polar Express book is just magical for me and I enjoy his Jumanji every bit as much. (I’ve never seen the film and won’t.) He illustrated A City in Winter which was written by Mark Helprin and I highly recommended it. 
  • Born June 18, 1958 — Jody Lee, 64. Illustrator with a long career in genre work. Her first cover art was Jo Clayton’s Changer’s Moon for DAW Books in 1985. Her latest is Passages: All-New Tales of Valdemar, a Mercedes Lackey anthology, that came out last year on DAW Books which seems to be her primary client. Her rather excellent website is here. Her cover for Mercedes Lackey’s The Oathbound won her a Chelsey Award.
  • Born June 18, 1960 — Barbara Broccoli, 62. Daughter of the late James Bond producer Albert R. “Cubby” Broccoli. She has producer or director credit on at least fourteen Bond films which are definitely genre. Her only acting role is as an uncredited Opera patron in The Living Daylights. She produced the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang production staged in NYC at the Hilton Theater sixteen years ago. That must have been really interesting. She was named a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2022 Queen’s New Year Honours List.

(12) COMICS SECTION.

  • Off the Mark shows a variation on a childhood bedtime ritual that makes sense if you think about it.
  • Lio knows why these aren’t on the aliens’ bill of fare.

(13) SIMULTANEOUS TIMES. Space Cowboy Books presents stories by Ai Jiang and Ricardo Victoria in episode 52 of the Simultaneous Times podcast.

Emotion: XXXX – by Ai Jiang – https://aijiangauthor.wordpress.com/
music by Phog Masheeen – https://phogmasheeen.com/
read by Jean-Paul Garnier 

Last Witness – by Ricardo Victoria – https://ricardovictoriau.com/
music by Patrick Urn – https://morlox.bandcamp.com/
read by Jean-Paul Garnier

(14) MARVEL BRICK UNIVERSE. 9to5Toys has a series of reveals from LEGO CON 2022 including the Sanctum Sanctorum, and a Star Wars item (see it at the link).

Showcasing the latest addition to the Marvel side of the lineup, the new Sanctum Sanctorum has been revealed. In the same style as last year’s Daily Bugle, this one arrives with 2,708 pieces and nine minifigures. There’s tons of references packed into the three different floors, as well. It will sell for $249.99 once it launches on August 1.

Here’s a breakdown of who’s included this time around:

  • Doctor Strange
  • Sinister Strange
  • Dead Strange
  • Wong
  • Iron Man
  • Spider-Man
  • The Scarlet Witch
  • Master Mordo
  • Ebony Maw

(15) SENSITIVE SUBJECT. The Hollywood Reporter tells why: “‘Late Show’ Staffers Arrested for Unlawful Entry at U.S. Capitol After Taping Triumph the Insult Comic Dog Skit”.

A number of people working for The Late Show with Stephen Colbert were arrested Thursday night at a U.S Capitol office building after taping a skit. Among those arrested was Robert Smigel, the former SNL and Conan writer, best known for portraying Triumph the Insult Comic Dog. According to authorities, the group was confronted by police in the Longworth House Office Building on Thursday evening, after it was closed to visitors. They were charged with unlawful entry. 

… “On Wednesday, June 15 and Thursday, June 16, Triumph the Insult Comic Dog was on-site at the Capitol with a production team to record interviews for a comedy segment on behalf of The Late Show,” a CBS spokesperson said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter. “Their interviews at the Capitol were authorized and pre-arranged through Congressional aides of the members interviewed. After leaving the members’ offices on their last interview of the day, the production team stayed to film stand-ups and other final comedy elements in the halls when they were detained by Capitol Police.”

(16) BLOW IT OUT YOUR A&$. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] One maker of robot “dogs” has a new water jet accessory available, allowing the bot to propel itself across relatively calm waters. (But don’t call it Spot — this isn’t the Boston Dynamics pooch.) “A new propulsion system allows this robotic dog to ‘swim’”.

… And now the NAUT allows a dog-shaped robot to move with water jet propulsion. The jet takes in water and ejects it at greater speed, allowing the Vision 60 to move with vectored thrust in a body of water.

“The system is capable of propelling the robotic dog and speeds up three knots and can operate at full power using a dedicated power source for approximately 35 minutes,” reports The War Zone. “The ‘tail’ can also continue to function after that by drawing electricity from the robot dog’s own internal power source.”

At 3 knots, or just 3.4 mph, the NAUT-powered Vision 60 won’t be winning any races, but should be perfectly capable of crossing streams and calm waters. The ability to go amphibious makes a robot useful in scouting and patrols in coastal or riverine terrain, and possibly even of use in the tricky terrain of a marsh or bayou….

(17) THEY CALL ME MISTER ROCKET. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket likes to go by a different name. They’ve taken to calling it Mega Moon Rocket, even in official press releases. One supposes it has a better ring to it. Imagine, though, what Bezos or Musk might have come up with. “NASA prefers this nickname for Artemis’ new lunar rocket” at Mashable.

If this NASA launch vehicle could talk — say at an international consortium of the world’s most elite, hobnobbing space rockets — this is how it would introduce itself after filling out its “Hello, my name is” sticker.

Space Launch System? Bleh, only my mother and technical manuals call me that.

SLS? Not since grade school.

Please, friends call me Moon Rocket. Mega Moon Rocket.

Technically, this gargantuan is the U.S. space agency’s Space Launch System or SLS for short. But somewhere along the line, the mission crew stopped calling it by its given name and started referring to it by its badder, Transformers-ish nickname. Even the news releases from the agency use it now….

(18) CLOTHES MAKE THE WIZARD. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Daniel Radclliffe, Emma Watson, directors Mike Newell ad Alfredo Cuaron and several constume designers talk about the clothes in Harry Potter in this video that dropped two weeks ago (and is a 2022 film).

(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. The Chicago Sun-Times is looking forward to “’It Came from Outer Space’ musical, inspired by cult classic film” which was based on Ray Bradbury’s story. The show runs June 22-July 24 at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater.

Before there was “Alien,” before there was “Star Trek,” before there was “Star Wars,” there was “It Came from Outer Space.” The 1953 sci-fi film may look cheesy by today’s standards but that, and its Ray Bradbury pedigree, has only added to its status as a cult classic.

Now Joe Kinosian and Kellen Blair, the musical theater team behind the hit show “Murder for Two,” have met the challenge of transforming the film, which was based on a Bradbury story, into a stage musical….

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, 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 Rich Horton.]

Pixel Scroll 4/25/22 Mrs. File You’ve Got A Lovely Pixel, Scrolls As Sharp As Her Are Something Rare, But It’s Sad, She Doesn’t Read My Books, I’d Give Her Free Copies, But It’s No Good To Beg

(1) SALE OF TWITTER PROMPTS RESPONSE. It was announced today that Elon Musk will buy Twitter. Cora Buhlert tweeted her reaction to the news. Thread starts here. Here are excerpts.

Meanwhile, John Scalzi noticed a disturbance in the Force:

(2) LITFEST 2022. LitFest Pasadena runs from April 30-May 14. The science fiction/fantasy related programming is on April 30 – see the graphic below. (Yes, in the Mountain View Mausoleum – what could be cheerier?)

(3) NOT IN MY BACK YARD. The New Yorker reports local angst about “The Plan to Make Michigan the Next Space State”. And the monied entrepreneurs who might want to carry out the project.

…I had come to visit… because Granot Loma had been selected as the location for a proposed rocket-launch site, as part of a plan called the Michigan Launch Initiative. If built, the site, along with two other facilities, would constitute the first spaceport in the Midwest. The site planned for Granot Loma would host vertical launches, through which rockets carrying satellites and other payloads—not human passengers—would be sent into low-Earth orbit. The second facility is a horizontal-launch site at the Oscoda-Wurtsmith Airport, about two hundred miles north of Detroit, where aircraft carrying satellites would take off from runways. Operations for both sites would be supported by the third facility, a command-and-control center, which would be situated in the Upper Peninsula, in Chippewa County, east of Marquette.

The spaceport plan is the brainchild of the Michigan Aerospace Manufacturers Association (mama), a trade association founded in 2007. mama estimates that the command-and-control center will be operational by 2023, and that all three sites of the spaceport will be up and running by 2026. Their initiative has been polarizing: some locals believe that the spaceport will benefit the economy and attract more talent to the state, while others, particularly those who live close to Granot Loma, worry about the potential disruption of having rocket launches in their back yards….

(4) CRUSH HOUR. Commuters, SYFY Wire can tell you where the dino traffic will be heaviest: “Colin Trevorrow Jurassic World Dominion map”.

America has a little dinosaur infestation problem in Jurassic World Dominion. How bad is this prehistoric predicament? Director and co-writer Colin Trevorrow made it quite plain with a nifty map of all the once-extinct animals now running loose across the United States in the upcoming blockbuster (out in theaters this June). “It’s a problem,” tweeted the filmmaker, 

(5) TRIVIAL TRIVIA. [Item by John King Tarpinian.] As we know, James Earl Jones and Carrie Fisher were in a series of movies together, Star Wars.  Until they appeared on an episode of the TV series, Big Bang Theory, they had never met.  Since Jones’ Star Wars performance was as a voice actor he was never on-set.

(6) JAMES BAMA (1926-2022). Artist James Bama died April 24 at the age of 96 reports DeathObits.com. He was inducted into the Illustrators Hall of Fame in 2000.

James Bama, a legendary and super talented American Artist/Painter, who painted Doc Savage, Frankenstein, the crew of the Enterprise and so many other fantasy/sci-fi subjects, has sadly and unexpectedly passed away on Sunday, April 24, 2022, leaving his entire family, close relatives, and groups of friends in total devastation and sadness.

… Beginning with The Man of Bronze (1964), he created a powerful set of 62 Doc Savage Bantam Books paperback covers, frequently employing actor Steve Holland, star of TV’s Flash Gordon (1954–55), as a model. He also created the box art for Aurora’s monster model kits, such as King Kong, Frankenstein, Dracula, and The Mummy. His work is collected in The Western Art of James Bama (Bantam Books, 1975) and The Art of James Bama (1993). Brian M. Kane’s James Bama: American Realist (Flesk, 2006) has an introduction by Harlan Ellison.

(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1999 [Compiled by Cat Eldridge] Twenty-three years ago on this evening on FOX, the David Duchovny-written-and-directed X-Files’ “The Unnatural” episode first aired. It is not connected to the underlying mythology of series, and thus is one of their Monster of the Week stories.

We’ve aliens (as in Roswell), baseball and the KKK. Well, only the latter are the monsters here if you ask me as the aliens definitely aren’t. We would have had Darren McGavin here too but he suffered a stroke after he was cast as one of the principal characters, but after the stroke, he was replaced by M. Emmet Walsh whom you’ll recognize as Bryant in Blade Runner. McGavin never filmed anything again. 

It had a notable cast, so I’ll list it: Frederic Lane, M. Emmet Walsh, Jesse L. Martin, Walter T. Phelan, Jr.  Brian Thompson and Paul Willson.

Reception for this episode is exceptionally good. Them Movie Reviews said of it that, “It is truly a credit to Duchovny that The Unnatural works at all, let alone that it turns out as a season highlight. There are any number of memorable and striking visuals in The Unnatural. The sequence where Dales discovers Exley’s true nature is one of the most distinctive shots in the history of The X-Files.”

While Doux Reviews stated “Think about it for a minute. This is an episode about baseball players in the 1940s. They are not only black in a time when being so could be life threatening, they are aliens. Our two heroes are, for the most part, nowhere to be seen throughout this hour. This story should never have worked. It did and it does on every subsequent re-watch. Written and directed by David Duchovny, this is an earnest hour of television. Duchovny took a premise that could have been silly and inane beyond the telling of it and chose to take the whole thing seriously. Because he does, we do as well.”

Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give the series as a whole an outstanding eighty-six percent rating. 

The X-Files are free to steam on Amazon Prime. 

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born April 25, 1897 Fletcher Pratt. He’s best remembered for his fiction written with L. Sprague de Camp, to wit, Land of Unreason, The Carnelian Cube and The Complete Compleat Enchanter. I’m rather fond of The Well of the Unicorn and Double Jeopardy. I see that he and Jack Coggins were nominated for International Fantasy Award for their Rockets, Jets, Guided Missiles and Space Ships, a non-fiction work published in 1951. Anyone known about this? He got nominated for two RetroHugos, the first at MidAmericCon II for “The Mathematics of Magic” novella, the second there for another novella, “The Roaring Trumpet”.  (Died 1956.)
  • Born April 25, 1907 Michael Harrison. English writer of both detective and genre fiction. He wrote pastiches of Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes and Poe’s C. Auguste Dupin. His most remembered work is In the Footsteps of Sherlock HolmesThe London of Sherlock Holmes and The World of Sherlock Holmes. He was also a noted Sherlock Holmes scholar, being a member of both the Baker Street Irregulars of New York, and the Sherlock Holmes Society of London. He wrote three genre novels — The Bride of FrankensteinHigher Things and The Brain. (Died 1991.)
  • Born April 25, 1915 Mort Weisinger. Comic book editor best known for editing  Superman during the Silver Age of comic books. He also served as story editor for the Adventures of Superman series. Before that he was one of the earliest active sf fans, working on fanzines like The Planet (1931) and The Time Traveller (1932) and attending the New York area fan club known as The Scienceers. (Died 1978.)
  • Born April 25, 1950 Peter Jurasik, 72. Ambassador Londo Mollari on Babylon 5 who would be Emperor one day and die for his considerable sins. (Yes spoiler, but there can’t be anyone here who hasn’t seen Babylon 5.) He has also very short genre credits other than Babylon 5— Doctor Oberon Geiger for several episodes on Sliders and Crom, the timid and pudgy compound interest program, in the Tron film.
  • Born April 25, 1952 Peter Lauritson, 70. Long involved with the Trek franchise starting with Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. He became the producer of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and supervising producer for Deep Space NineVoyager and Enterprise. He directed three episodes of those series, including the Hugo Award-winning (at ConFrancisco)  “The Inner Light”, as well as being second unit director for two Trek films.
  • Born April 25, 1969 Gina Torres, 53. The first thing I remember seeing her in was Cleopatra 2525 where she was Helen ‘Hel’ Carter. (I really liked that series.)  Her first genre was in the M.A.N.T.I.S. pilot as Dr. Amy Ellis, and she actually was in The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions as a character named Cas but I’ll frankly admit I remember almost nothing of those films. She’s had a number of DC voice roles including a recurring Justice League Unlimited run as Vixen / Mari McCabe. And of course Zoe in the Firefly verse. Lastly anyone remember her on the Angel series as Jasmine?
  • Born April 25, 1981 Silvia Moreno-Garcia, 41. She’s the publisher of Innmouths Free Press , an imprint devoted to weird fiction. Not surprisingly, she co-edited with Paula R. Stiles for the press the Historical Lovecraft and Future Lovecraft anthologies. She won a World Fantasy Award for the She Walks in Shadows anthology, also on Innsmouth Free Press. She was a finalist for the Nebula Award in the Best Novel category for her Gods of Jade and Shadow novel, which won a Sunburst and Ignyte Award. And finally with Lavie Tidhar, she edits the Jewish Mexican Literary Review. Not genre, but sort of genre adjacent. Canadian of Mexican descent.
  • Born April 25, 1988 Jonathan Bailey, 34. Here for being Psi on the Twelfth Doctor story, “Time Heist”,  the best story I think that they did. He, in what I think was his only other genre role, was Lewis is Alice Through the Looking Glass.

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • Bizarro – a comic that consistently lives up to its name. Today’s joke is about vampires.

(10) CLASSIC CAR FOR THE 21ST CENTURY. If this vehicle was in LA they could re-enact the famous photo of the shuttle driving by the big donut on the roof of Randy’s Donuts. “Drive to the airport in your own Endeavour Space Shuttle” in the NZ Herald.

Consultant John Powell and his friend dairy worker Paul Mulligan have converted a 2006 Nissan Presage station wagon into the Endeavour Space Shuttle to raise money for Starship children’s hospital.

They said this is an ideal vehicle for Kiwis “to the airport and beyond”.

The “shuttle” has clocked just under 200,000km on its wheels but as for flight time, it’s still brand new with less than a minute on air.

“Other than some split-second flight along the bumpy New Zealand highway, it’s brand new,” he said.

“It’s very hard to find a spaceship with less than 200k on the clock,” Powell said.

it has three rocket engines driven by a fire extinguisher generating incredible but unmeasurable thrust.

… However, the downside is the vessel does use unleaded 91 petrol as a fuel source, the price of which seems to be flying higher than the Endeavour but this fuel type is a whole lot cheaper than the liquid hydrogen which retails roughly for about $10 per kg.

(11) STAR TREK NEXT GENERATION ANIMATED SERIES CLASSIC STYLE. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] A fan-made animation has surfaced of the ST:TNG scene where the Borg kidnap Picard. It’s made in the style of the Filmation Star Trek: The Animated Series. Spot on. 

(12) THINKING BIG. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] OK, this is unashamedly sciencey but is also the metaphysical stuff of science fiction: Greg Egan’s Quarantine for example, but then you’d expect me to say that, my being a Science Fact & Fiction Concateneer.  One of my favourite YouTube channels is PBS Space Time: always good to start the week with a bit of physics before moving on to the serious stuff of bio- and geoscience. This channel has a few million followers so quite a few do like its hard science.

Sometimes episodes have maths and sometimes the maths is a tad heavy. But equally, some episodes are maths free. This week’s episode is one such.  Further – while some say biology is the most amorphous of the four core sciences (maths being the fourth) – physics too can have its unquantifiable moments even if part-spurred by real experimentation. This week’s episode of PBS Space Time looks at such an area of fuzzy physics when asking the question “Does the Universe Create Itself?”…  Apparently, we could be living in a universe that is playing Reverse 20 Questions with itself.

(13) WAYBACK TO THE FUTURE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Barry Norman reviews Back To The Future on the BBC in December 1985, and said while he liked the film, “If you give more money to Steven Spielberg, that can’t be helped.  It’s already been established that he’s a descendant of King Midas.”

(14) SOCK IT TO MOMA. Stephen Colbert interviews Oscar Isaac and we learn a Dune movie relic is now part of the MOMA Collection: “Oscar Isaac Gifted His Modesty Sock To “Dune” Director Denis Villeneuve”.

(15) ROLLING ROLLING ROLLING. From three years ago, OK Go’s music video “This Too Shall Pass” is staged around an epic Rube Goldberg Machine.

[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Rob Thornton, Andrew Porter, Anne Marble, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie. Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kendall. We’ve done the short version of this title; today we’re going all the way!]

Pixel Scroll 4/20/22 “Sorry We’re Late, Kate,” The Sweet Birds Sang

(1) FROM THE LIFE OF JMS. J. Michael Straczynski has released an unlocked Patreon post of a chapter he cut from his autobiography: “Chapter Cut from Bio: The Great Bible Battle”. Here’s his introduction:

As noted elsewhere, I cut a good chunk of material from my autobiography Becoming Superman because there was just too much stuff for one book and I didn’t want to do this in two volumes.  It was already almost too long.  

This is actually one of the better, and in part most heartfelt chapters in the whole book, but it was also one that could be cut without damaging the structure of the book because it was for all intents and purposes unconnected from what came before and what followed.  It also marks one the first times that something I’d done earned me death threats (yes, there were others).  

So I present this to you, good patrons, seen here for the first time anywhere, ever.

(2) AWARD RETURNING. Submissions are being taken for the 2022 IAFA Imagining Indigenous Futurisms Award through December 1, 2022.

The IAFA Imagining Indigenous Futurisms Award recognizes emerging authors who use science fiction to address issues of Indigenous sovereignty and self-determination.

(3) AWARD FLAMBEAU. Serge Ecker’s video takes you inside the foundry to witness the “Making of the European Science Fiction Award 2022 – LuxCon, the 2022 EuroCon”. Molten metal and flames aplenty.

(4) LOVE IS BLUE. Somtow Sucharitkul is creating “Terrestrial Passions: a Regency Romance with Aliens” on Kindle Vella. The wry titles of the first four installments set the tone — “A Most Peculiar Frenchman”, “Universally Acknowledged”, “Dissuasion”, and “Incense and Insensibility”.

The widowed Mrs. Dorrit lives a marginal existence with her brother, a vicar, and twin daughters in a cottage on the estate of her wealthy cousin, Lord Chuzzlewit, in the West London village of Little Chiswick. As the season dawns and a rakish Earl takes up residence in the once-abandoned Flanders House nearby, their lives, and the marital prospects of Emma’s daughters, become immeasurably complicated when a starship lands in her apple orchard. By World Fantasy Award winning author S.P. Somtow

Where did this art come from? Somtow says, “Hilarious cover created for my Vella Serial by an Austrian designer on Fiverr.” No name given.

(5) VERTLIEB HONORED. Steve Vertlieb shared today that he has been honored “for his dedication and tireless activity to keep Miklos Rozsa’s memory alive,” by the Hungarian Hollywood Council. Congratulations, Steve!

(6) HOW KENTUCKY LEGISLATION WILL AFFECT LIBRARIES. “New Kentucky Law Hands Control of Libraries to Local Politicians” reports Publishers Weekly.

In a move that has alarmed library supporters, a new law in Kentucky will give politicians control over local library boards in the state. According to a report in the Lexington Herald Leader, SB 167—which came back from the dead last week with a dramatic veto override—will empower local politicians to “appoint whomever they want to library boards and block major library spending.”

Last week, the bill appeared to be killed after Kentucky governor Andy Beshear vetoed it, and the Kentucky House of Representatives fell short of the necessary votes to override. But in a surprise maneuver, supporters of the bill were able to revive the bill for another override vote—and this time, four representatives who had not voted in the previous effort voted to override Beshear’s veto, carrying the measure into law. The law is scheduled to take effect in January 2023.

According to the Lexington Herald Leader, Kentucky Republicans say the issue is “accountability,” pointing out that most of Kentucky’s public library boards can levy taxes and should therefore “answer to someone elected by voters.” But critics say the bill is in fact a thinly veiled effort to “politicize” library boards, and give unprecedented control over library operations to politicians….

(7) CAN IT BE THEY DON’T LOVE US? Lise Andreasen sends “A warm hug to everybody who feels physical pain at ‘it’s not science fiction’ and ‘it’s science fiction but’” in her roundup of critics’ slighting comments about the sff genre in “They Bellow… Dune edition”.

(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1955 [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.] Sixty-seven years ago, George Pal’s fourth genre film premiered. It was the Conquest of Space and it had two firsts, our first trip to Mars and our first space station, a marvel in itself. It was based off The Conquest of Space by Willy Ley and Chesley Bonestell. The former author has a crater on the far side of the moon named after him. Later in life he became a believer In cryptozoology. Ohhh well. (I’ve actually met Loren Coleman, the prime proponent of that fake science. Don’t get me started on that subject.) 

Ley and Bonestell would win an International Fantasy Award for the book. Bonestell would be recognized with Special Award for Beautiful and Scientifically Accurate Illustrations at DisCon II (1974). He later won a Hugo for Best Related Work for The Art of Chesley Bonestell at ConJosé (2002). He’d also pick up a Retro Hugo at Noreascon 4 (2004) for Best Professional Artist. 

(Pal had hired Bonestall to the technical adviser on Destination Moon buthe bought the book’s film rights at the urging of Ley.) 

The screenplay was by James O’Hanlon from an adaptation by Barre Lyndon, Phil Yordan and George Worthing Yates. O’Hanlon had done the Destination Moon screenplay which won a Retro Hugo at the Millennium Philcon.

It was directed by Byron Haskin who is best remembered for directing The War of the Worlds, one of many films where he teamed with producer George Pal. Bonestell who is known for his photorealistic paintings of outer space, provided the film’s space matte paintings.

So what did critics think about when it was released? 

The Variety said of it that, “When Byron Haskin’s direction has a chance at action and thrills they come over well, but most of the time the pacing is slowed by the talky script fashioned from the adaptation of the Chesley Bonestell-Willy Ley book by Philip Yordan, Barre Lyndon and George Worthington Yates.”

The New York Times likewise liked it: “THERE is very little doubt about who should receive a generous amount of credit and praise for ‘Conquest of Space,’ yesterday’s science-fiction entry at the Palace. They are the special effects artists, John P. Fulton, Irmin Roberts, Paul Lerpae, Ivyle Burks and Jan Domela. In telling the fanciful tale of man’s first trip to Mars, they created top-flight effects such as ‘the wheel,’ a self-contained station orbiting about earth, rocket flights in space and a horrendous near-collision with an asteroid. These facets of the Paramount production—and fortunately they are many and frequent—are much to marvel at. But then there is a story. As plots go in this type of unearthly entertainment—and it is nothing more than broad, undemanding entertainment—it is not offensive.”

Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes do not like it at all giving at just a twenty percent rating. Damned if I know why this is so. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born April 20, 1908 Donald Wandrei. Writer who had sixteen stories in Astounding Stories and fourteen stories in Weird Tales, plus a smattering elsewhere, all in the Twenties and Thirties. The Web of Easter Island is his only novel. He was the co-founder with August Derleth of Arkham House. He received the World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement, and he’s a member of First Fandom Hall of Fame. Only his “Raiders of The Universe“ short story and his story in Famous Fantastic Mysteries (October 1939 issue) are available at the usual digital suspects. (Died 1987.)
  • Born April 20, 1937 George Takei, 85. Hikaru Sulu on the original Trek. And yes, I know that Vonda McIntyre wouldn’t coin the first name until a decade later in her Entropy Effect novel. Is it canon? Post-Trek, he would write Mirror Friend, Mirror Foe with Robert Asprin. By the way, I’m reasonably sure that his first genre roles were actually dubbing the English voices of Professor Kashiwagi of Rodan! The Flying Monster and the same of the Commander of Landing Craft of Godzilla Raids Again.  Oh, and it won’t surprise you he played Sulu again in the fan fic video Star Trek: Phase II episode, “World Enough and Time.”
  • Born April 20, 1939 Peter S. Beagle, 83. I’ve known him for about twenty years now I realize, met him but once in that time. He’s quite charming. (I had dinner with him here once several years back. His former agent is not so charming.)  My favorite works? A Fine and Private PlaceThe Folk of The AirTamsinSummerlong and In Calabria. He won the Novelette Hugo at L.A. Con IV for “Two Hearts”. And he has the World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement. He is working on a new novel now I’m told by his editor Deborah Grabien, another friend of mine.
  • Born April 20, 1949 Jessica Lange, 73. Her very first role was Dwan in the remake of King Kong. Later genre roles are Sandra Bloom Sr. in Big Fish, Katherine Pierson in Neverwas, and the amazing run of Constance Langdon / Elsa Mars / Fiona Goode / Sister Jude Martin in American Horror Story
  • Born April 20, 1949 John Ostrander, 73. Writer of comic books, including GrimjackSuicide Squad and Star Wars: Legacy. Well those are the titles he most frequently gets noted for but I’ll add in The SpectreMartian Manhunter and the late Eighties Manhunter as well. His run on the Suicide Squad is available on the DC Universe app as is his absolutely amazing work on The Spectre.
  • Born April 20, 1951 Louise Jameson, 71. Leela of the Sevateem, companion to the Fourth Doctor. Appeared in nine stories of which my favorite was “The Talons of Weng Chiang” which I reviewed over at Green Man. She segued from Dr. Who to The Omega Factor where she was in the regular cast as Dr. Anne Reynolds. These appear to her only meaningful genre roles. And she like so many Who performers has reprised her role for Big Finish. 
  • Born April 20, 1964 Sean A. Moore. He wrote three Conan pastiches, Conan the Hunter, Conan and the Grim Grey God and Conan and the Shaman’s Curse. He also wrote the screenplay for Kull the Conqueror, and the novelization of it. All were published by Tor. He was active in Colorado fandom. He died in car crash in Boulder. (Died 1998.)
  • Born April 20, 1964 Andy Serkis, 58. I will freely admit that the list of characters that he has helped create is amazing: Gollum in The Lord of the Rings films and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, King Kong in that film, Caesar in the Planet of the Apes reboot series, Captain Haddock / Sir Francis Haddock in The Adventures of Tintin (great film that was), and even Supreme Leader Snoke in The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi. Last year, he portrayed the character of Baloo in his self-directed film, Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle. His readings of The Hobbit and The Lord of The Rings are truly amazing as well. 

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Bizarro reports a shocking defection from a well-known superhero team.

(11) PANTHER CHOW. In the Washington Post, Emily Heil interviews Nyanyika Banda, author of The Official Wakanda Cookbook, who explains how they tried to come up with a cuisine that wasn’t just pan-African but actually might have recipes that would come from that imaginary country. “Wakanda cookbook brings Black Panther food lore to life”.

The fictional worlds spun in many TV shows, movies and video games can feel as real and as meaningful to fans as places with actual Zip codes. Think of Hogwarts, the magic-filled, honey-lit boarding school in the world of Harry Potter books and movies; the faraway galaxy of “Star Wars”; or even the lovably quirky small town of Stars Hollow in “Gilmore Girls.”

Wakanda, the wealthy, technologically advanced, mountain-ringed land of the “Black Panther” comics and blockbuster 2018 movie, though, occupies an even more rarefied role. It’s not just the setting for the action in a beloved franchise; it has become a symbol of African greatness, a mythical place that feels like an actual homeland to many people, and not just to comics geeks with posters of King T’Challa on their bedroom walls.

This week, the mythical country is seeing its culture expand with “The Official Wakanda Cookbook,” a collection of recipes sanctioned by “Black Panther” publisher Marvel….

… Aside from the challenges posed by satisfying an avid fan base and respecting a cultural touchstone, Banda faced another, more practical task. Often, a cookbook author writing about a region of the world is concerned about staying true to the dishes, the ingredients, the people and the history of the land. But what does it mean to be faithful to something that doesn’t actually exist?…

(12) JEOPARDY! Andrew Porter was tuned into Monday night’s episode of Jeopardy! and watched as contestants drew blanks on several items about the fantasy genre:

Category: Fantasy Fiction

Answer: In George R.R. Martin’s saga of Westeros, this blustery & bloody volume follows “A Game of Thrones” & “A Clash of Kings”

No one could ask, What is “A Storm of Swords?”

***

Answer: Set in ancient China, “A Hero Born” by Jin Yong takes place in a world where this martial art is practiced magically.

Wrong question What is Karate?

Right question: What is Kung-Fu?

***

Answer: Victor LaValle’s “The Changeling” tells the tale of a human baby switched at birth with one of these Nordic creatures.

No one could ask, What is  troll?

(13) FUTURE IS NOW FOR SJW CREDENTIALS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Washington Post, Maria Luisa Paul discusses  ViaGen Pets, which will clone your dead cat for $25,000.  But while the clone may look like the original cat, it won’t have the personality of the original feline. “A woman cloned her pet after it died. But it’s not a copycat.”

… When the beloved 5-year-old cat died in 2017, there was nothing her owner, Kelly Anderson, could do — or so she thought.

Chai’s body had not yet turned cold when Anderson remembered a conversation with her roommate about the Texas-based ViaGen Pets, one of just a few companies worldwide that clones pets. The next morning, she called them.

Some $25,000 and five years later, Anderson — a 32-year-old dog trainer from Austin — has a 6-month-old carbon copy of Chai curled up in her lap. Belle is nearly identical to Chai, down to her deep-blue eyes and fluffy white coat. The two cats share a couple of quirks, like sleeping with their bodies stretched out against Anderson’s back. But that’s where the similarities end, Anderson said….

(14) PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER. What could be more wholesome? Mecha Builders is coming from the makers of Sesame Street.

Catch a sneak peek of an all-new series from Sesame Street in this official Mecha Builders Trailer! Together Elmo, Cookie Monster, and Abby are the Mecha Builders! The Mecha Builders are always ready to save the day, and while they may not get it right the first time, they won’t give up until they do! There’s no problem too big or too small for this super team to solve … all before snack time. New series coming to Cartoonito! Watch on Cartoon Network May 9th and stream the next day on HBO Max!

(15) SUMMERTIME, AND THE CONCATENATING IS EASY. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] The SF² Concatenation summer* edition is now up, which is a few days later than usual so as to capture news announced over Easter. This edition has its full news page, articles and convention reports, including:  Film NewsTelevision News;  Publishing News;  General Science News  and  Forthcoming SF Books from major imprints for the season, among much else.  Plus there is a tranche of stand-alone book reviews.  Something for everyone.

* ‘Summer’ season here being the northern hemisphere, academic year summer.

v32(3) 2022.4.20 — New Columns & Articles for the Summer 2022

v32(2) 2022.4.20 — Science Fiction & Fantasy Book Reviews

v32(3) 2022.4.20 — Non-Fiction SF & Science Fact Book Reviews

(16) E.T. FAMILY REUNION. Dee Wallace played Drew Barrymore’s mom in the iconic film E.T. almost 40 years ago. They will be reuniting at the 40th Anniversary screening of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial on Opening Night of the: 2022 TCM Classic Festival. And Wallace got a head start by appearing on Drew’s TV show. Yahoo! has the story: “Drew Barrymore Reunites with E.T. Onscreen Mom Dee Wallace Ahead of Film’s 40th Anniversary”.

Drew Barrymore is taking fans on a trip down memory lane.

The Golden Globe winner, 47, reunited with Dee Wallace, who played her mother in 1982’s E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, as they reminisced about the film ahead of its 40th anniversary Monday on The Drew Barrymore Show.

“That was the first day on the set and I’m sitting in this really high director’s chair,” Wallace, 73, recalled of a photo of the two of them. “And Drew comes up to me and she says, ‘Hi, I’m going to sit on your lap now.’ And I said, ‘Well, come on up Drew.'”

“I mean, I knew you were going to be a director/producer back then,” she told Barrymore.

Barrymore raved about how “sexy” Wallace looked in the cheetah costume her character wore for the Halloween scene. “I still fit in it too,” Wallace proclaimed….

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Neil deGrasse Tyson was on Colbert last night to talk about his new book Welcome To The Universe In 3D. “Aliens May Have Been Watching Earth’s TV Shows For The Last 80 Years – Neil deGrasse Tyson”.

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