Pixel Scroll 1/21/23 On The Sunny Side Of The Discworld

(1) ART IMITATING ART? [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Spot on? Several years ago Paleofuture uncovered a 1923 cartoon that “predicted” art would be machine generated in 2023. See the cartoon at the link. At that time (2014), columnist Matt Novak noted that the drawing part was more or less solved, but the idea generation part wasn’t. In the intervening years after this find, that idea generation bit has been attacked—enter machine learning.

One has to wonder, though, what an AI trained on only this sort of “predictive” art would crank out.

(2) SELF-REPORTING COVID. Arisia 2023, held in Boston over the January 13-16 weekend, has posted a “COVID19 Positive List” where people can report if they tested positive or contracted Covid after the convention.  So far there are eight listings.

(3) THE IMMORTAL DAVID CROSBY. Famed rock performer David Crosby died January 18. In “David Crosby’s Cosmic Americana”, The Atlantic’s Jason Heller tells how the late musician’s obsession with science fiction shaped his legacy. (The article is paywalled.)

“Science fiction was so expansive and it was so unlimited,” Crosby told Neil deGrasse Tyson on the latter’s StarTalk podcast in 2016. “Anything could happen, and that was just rich to me. And I lusted after it.” His obsession with space exploration, emerging musical technology, and the literature of the fantastic forged a kind of future-folk.

Now that you’ve discovered the singer’s sf fandom, read Arthur Cover telling Facebook followers a funny story about Crosby’s visit to Dangerous Visions Bookstore.

(4) THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS BAD PUBLICITY? The Conversation theorizes about “How Edgar Allan Poe became the darling of the maligned and misunderstood”.

… The obituary writer, who turned out to be Poe’s sometime friend and constant rival Rufus W. Griswold, claimed that the deceased had “few or no friends” and proceeded with a general character assassination built on exaggerations and half-truths.

Strange as it seems, Griswold was also Poe’s literary executor, and he expanded the obituary into a biographical essay that accompanied Poe’s collected works. If this was a marketing ploy, it worked. The friends that Griswold claimed Poe lacked rose to his defense, and journalists spent decades debating who the man really was…

Griswold’s defamatory portrait, along with the grim subject matter of Poe’s stories and poems, still influences the way readers perceive him. But it has also produced a sustained reaction or counterimage of Poe as a tragic hero, a tortured, misunderstood artist who was too good – or, at any rate, too cool – for his world.

While translating Poe’s works into French in the 1850s and 1860s, the French poet Charles Baudelaire promoted his hero as a kind of countercultural visionary, out of step with a moralistic, materialistic America. Baudelaire’s Poe valued beauty over truth in his poetry and, in his fiction, saw through the self-improvement pieties that were popular at the time to reveal “the natural wickedness of man.” Poe struck a chord with European writers, and as his international stature rose in the late 19th century, literary critics in the U.S. wrung their hands over his lack of appreciation “at home.”…

(5) PERSONQUINS. Grady Hendrix curates “The Best Killer Dolls and Puppets in Books” for CrimeReads.

Literature is so full of evil dolls and puppets that it’s probably best to assume that any doll or puppet you encounter in a book is up to no good. Maybe they’re having sex with your girlfriend, maybe they’re trying to drive you insane, whatever their method, remember that we are not the same species and your first response should always be to throw it in the fire. Read these books at your own peril (not recommended) but if you want to avoid the trauma, I’ve done you the favor of reading them myself and compiling a list of the dolls and puppets you should go out of your way to avoid….

(6) ENDANGERED DARLINGS. Open Culture revisits “Stephen King’s 20 Rules for Writers”.

…Below, we bring you King’s top twenty rules from On Writing. About half of these relate directly to revision. The other half cover the intangibles—attitude, discipline, work habits. A number of these suggestions reliably pop up in every writer’s guide. But quite a few of them were born of Stephen King’s many decades of trial and error and—writes the Barnes & Noble book blog—“over 350 million copies” sold, “like them or loathe them.”

1. First write for yourself, and then worry about the audience. “When you write a story, you’re telling yourself the story. When you rewrite, your main job is taking out all the things that are not the story.” …

(7) MEMORY LANE.

2003 [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.] Iain Banks’ Raw Spirit: In Search of The Perfect Dram

So let’s talk about whisky.  Well, in a minute we will. So the book about whisky is by Iain Banks who when he wrote science fiction used Iain M. Banks. I absolutely adored the Culture series with the first, Consider Phlebas, and the last, The Hydrogen Sonata, being my favorites. That is not to say that I didn’t enjoy the rest of the novels and short stories set there.

But Banks had a great love, other than his wife of course, in his life: whisky. So being someone who regularly and quite successfully pitched ideas about books that he wanted to write, he decided to pitch to his editor as he says “a book about one of the hardest of hard liquors and for all this let’s be mature, I just drink it for the taste not the effect, honest, Two units a day only stuff… it is, basically, a legal, exclusive, relatively expensive but very pleasant way of getting out of your head.”

Having thereby convinced his editor it was a brilliant idea, he bought a sports car with part of the advance and as one must do this in style as he notes in Raw Spirit: In Search of The Perfect Dram, packed his bags and headed north to Scotland. 

 And here’s the quote that he started the book off with: 

‘Banksie, hi. What you up to?’

 ‘Well, I’m going to be writing a book about whisky.’ 

‘You’re what?’ 

‘I’m going to be writing a book about whisky. I’ve been, umm, you know, commissioned. To write a book about it. About whisky. Malt whisky, actually.’ 

‘You’re writing a book about whisky?’ 

‘Yeah. It means I have to go all over Scotland, driving mostly, but taking other types of transport–ferries, planes, trains, that sort of thing–visiting distilleries and tasting malt whisky. With expenses, obviously.’ 

‘You serious?’ ‘Course I’m serious!’ 

‘Really?’ 

‘Oh yeah.’ 

‘… Do you need any help with this?’

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 21, 1922 Telly Savalas. Best remembered as Kojak on that long running series. He appeared in Her Majesty’s Secret Service as Ernst Stavro Blofeld, and on The Man From U.N.C.L.E. as Count Valerino De Fanzini in two episodes.  Oh, and he was on the Twilight Zone as Erich Streator in the stellar “Living Doll” episode. (Died 1994.)
  • Born January 21, 1923 Judith Merril. Author of four novels, Shadow on the HearthThe Tomorrow PeopleGunner Cade, and Outpost Mars, the last two with C. M. Kornbluth. She also wrote many short stories, of which twenty-six are collected in Homecalling and Other Stories: The Complete Solo Short SF of Judith Merril (NESFA Press). She was an editor as well. From 1956-1966 she edited a series of volumes of the year’s best sf. Her collection England Swings SF (1968) helped draw attention to the New Wave. Oh, and between, 1965 and 1969, she was an exemplary reviewer for The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. (Died 1997.)
  • Born January 21, 1925 Charles Aidman. He makes the Birthday Honors for having the recurring role of Jeremy Pike on The Wild Wild West, playing him four times. Other SFF appearances include Destination SpaceThe InvadersTwilight ZoneMission: Impossible and Kolchak the Night Stalker to name but a few of them. (Died 1993.)
  • Born January 21, 1938 Wolfman Jack. Here because I spotted him showing up twice in Battlestar Galactica 1980 presumably as himself if I trust IMDb as it doesn’t list a character for him. He does have genre character roles having been in the Swamp Thing and Wonder Women series plus two horror films, Motel Hell and The Midnight Hour. (Died 1995.)
  • Born January 21, 1939 Walter C. DeBill, Jr., 84. Author of horror and SF short stories and a contributor to the Cthulhu Mythos. Author of the Observers of the Unknown series about a Lovecraftian occult detective which is collected is two volumes, The Horror from Yith and The Changeling. They don’t appear to be in print currently.
  • Born January 21, 1956 Geena Davis, 67. Best remembered genre wise I’d say for being in Beetlejuice but she also appeared in Earth Girls Are Easy and Transylvania 6-5000. She’s done some one-offs on series including Knight RiderFantasy Island and The Exorcist. Yes, they turned The Exorcist into a series. 
  • Born January 21, 1956 Diana Pavlac Glyer, 67. Author whose work centers on C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, and the Inklings. She teaches in the Honors College at Azusa Pacific University in California. She has two excellent works out now, The Company They Keep: C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien as Writers in Community and Bandersnatch: C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, and the Creative Collaboration of the Inklings.

(9) COMICS SECTION.

(10) EXPANDED EXPANSE. “The Expanse: Dragon Tooth Comic Picks Up Where the TV Series Left Off”IGN has a preview.

The Expanse fans definitely know what it’s like to be left wanting. Even though the critically acclaimed TV series was saved from cancellation and went on to enjoy another three seasons on Prime Video, many have bemoaned the fact that Amazon didn’t keep the story going even longer. But there is a silver lining. The show’s story is continuing on in a new form thanks to BOOM! Studios.

IGN can exclusively reveal the first details about The Expanse: Dragon Tooth, a new 12-issue limited series set after the show’s final season….

… Dragon Tooth is set after the events of the show’s finale, meaning it’ll reveal the fates of many characters and answer some of the lingering questions not addressed in Season 6. Interestingly, the comic also seems aimed directly at fans of the novels, as it’s set in the lengthy time gap separating Book 6, Babylon’s Ashes, and Book 7, Persepolis Rising….

(11) TOTALLY LEGIT. The Unemployed Philosophers Guild Star Trek Dilithium Crystal Breath Mints cost a mere $5.95. The container alone should be worth the price, right?

  • Whether you’re meeting Mudd’s Women or transporting the Federation ambassador to Eminiar VII, these genuine pink peppermint Dilithium Crystals keep your breath fusion-fresh.
  • Officially Licensed by CBS Consumer Products.
  • Contains 1 tin of sugarfree breathmints. No aspertame. Kosher, sugarless and gluten free.

(12) GREEN COMET AND HAM. MSN.com says, “We could be the last humans to see the green comet passing Earth for the first time since the Ice Age. Here’s how, where, and when to watch it.”

We could be the last humans to ever see the green comet hurtling past Earth from the outer reaches of the solar system in late January and early February.

C/2022 E3 (ZTF), or Comet ZTF for short — the name astronomers gave this space snowball after the Zwicky Transient Facility discovered it in March — hasn’t been in our cosmic neighborhood since the last Ice Age.

Researchers calculated that the icy ball of gas, dust, and rock orbits the sun roughly ever 50,000 years, which means that Neanderthals were still walking the Earth and humans had just migrated out of Africa for the first time when the comet last whizzed by….

Why the comet is green

The comet has a “greenish coma, short broad dust tail, and long faint ion tail,” according to NASA.

Many comets glow green. Laboratory research has linked this aura to a reactive molecule called dicarbon, which emits green light as sunlight decays it.

Dicarbon is common in comets, but it’s not usually found in their tails.

That’s why the coma — the haze surrounding the ball of frozen gas, dust, and rock at the center of a comet — is glowing green, while the tail remains white.

(13) MORE COLORS OUT OF SPACE. Open Culture invites readers to “Behold Colorful Geologic Maps of Mars Released by The United States Geological Survey”. (The USGS source post is here.)

The USGS Astrogeology Science Center has recently released a series of colorful and intricately-detailed maps of Mars. These colorful maps, notes USGS, “provide highly detailed views of the [plantet’s] surface and allow scientists to investigate complex geologic relationships both on and beneath the surface. These types of maps are useful for both planning for and then conducting landed missions.”….

(14) HIGH MILEAGE. From the May 2022 “Findings” column of Harper’s Magazine (page 96):

…The brains of the elderly exhibit lesions resulting from a lifetime of wear and tear and may also be cluttered with accumulated knowledge….

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Ryan George is on hand (both hands, actually) for ScreenRant’s Wednesday Pitch Meeting”.

”So if you’re at this school you need some kind of powers.”
“Wait, does Wednesday have a power?”
“She does, yeah, she started having these psychic Visions but they’re a secret.”
“If her powers are secret how’d they know to let her in?”
“Hey, shut up!” 

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

Pixel Scroll 12/9/22 Where We’re Scrolling, We Won’t Need Pixels

(1) AUTHOR SIGNING ANNOUNCED. Catherine Asaro is doing a signing/panel next week on Wednesday, Dec 14, 2022 at 7:00 pm in the Port Jefferson Library, NY with two other authors, Sarah Beth Durst and Kelley Skovron. If you can attend, register here. Asaro explains why registration, while optional, will help assure all three can attend:

You can do a walk in instead of registering, and many people do. However, that means that they don’t know how many will show up or even if anyone will come. Kelly Skovron has to travel from Washington D.C. to Long Island, a several day trip for her, with the associated costs, so if they don’t get enough pre-registrations, she may not be able to come.

Sarah and I will be there regardless because we are local, but it would be lovely if they had enough sign-ups that they felt okay about asking Kelley to come.

Here’s the full address for the library: 150 East Main Street, Port Jefferson, NY 11777. Phone: (631) 509-5707. Web site: portjefflibrary.org

(2) THE BOOK IN HAND. “Shelf Awareness for Friday, December 9, 2022” includes “Reading with… Denise Crittendon”.

Journalist Denise Crittendon has been a newspaper reporter, magazine editor, motivational speaker, ghostwriter and adjunct community college professor. …Where It Rains in Color (Angry Robot, December 6, 2022), an Afrofuturistic sci-fi/fantasy, is her debut novel…. 

On your nightstand now: 

The Deep by sci-fi author Rivers Solomon. Considering the controversy about a Black actress starring in Disney’s The Little Mermaid, this novel is pretty timely. Solomon tends to write passionate speculative fiction that incorporates the transatlantic slave trade. In The Deep, she offers an inventive twist on what happened to Africans who either jumped from ships during the Middle Passage or were thrown overboard due to illness.

Your top five authors:

Octavia Butler–I’m amazed by her extraordinary vision and fascinating usage of the natural world for organic technology. In her Lilith’s Brood series (DawnAdulthood Rites and Imago), the space vessel is an actual living being. Also, the aliens in this world can place sleeping humans inside biologically altered carnivorous plants, thereby prolonging their lives for centuries…. 

(3) CONDENSED CREAM OF WHO. SYFY Wire reveals “Doctor Who Season 14 shortened, to feature just 8 episodes”.

The Tenth Doctor may be in (again), but David Tennant’s return trip as Doctor Who himself — this time as time traveler no. 14 in the venerable sci-fi series — won’t require quite as many TARDIS trips when the reportedly shorter, 8-episode new season finally does arrive.

Season 14 showrunner Russell T. Davies, also back at the reins of Doctor Who after famously helping revive the series back in 2005, recently explained to Doctor Who Magazine (via Bleeding Cool) that the new season might be compact, but that it also should serve as just the first tasty bite in a more ambitious slate of bigger doings within the endlessly discoverable Who-verse.

… While it’s not known whether, or where, in Season 14 the story might find Tennant’s Fourteenth Doctor ceding the role over to inbound Fifteenth Doctor Ncuti Gatwa, both Tennant and Gatwa are still on track to take up the Time Lord’s mantle as the series picks up where outgoing Thirteenth Doctor Jodie Whittaker left off.

(4) YEAR’S TOP VIEWING. The Hollywood Reporter lists “AFI Best Movies and TV Shows of 2022”.

The American Film Institute has revealed its picks for the best movies and TV shows of 2022.

The group’s picks for the 10 best films are, in alphabetical order: Avatar: The Way of Water, Elvis, Everything Everywhere All at Once, The Fabelmans, Nope, She Said, Tár, Top Gun: MaverickThe Woman King and Women Talking.

On the TV side, AFI’s picks for the 10 best TV shows of the year are, again alphabetically, Abbott ElementaryThe BearBetter Call Saul, Hacks, Mo, Pachinko, Reservation Dogs, Severance, Somebody Somewhere and The White Lotus.

(5) WYLIE PROFILE. It’s not about his sff, however, you may be interested: “The Man Who Hated Moms: Looking Back on Philip Wylie’s ‘Generation of Vipers’” in LA Review of Books.

IN 1943, PHILIP WYLIE, then best known for his cosmic disaster novel When Worlds Collide (1933) and its sequel, After Worlds Collide (1934), dropped a literary bombshell into the laps of readers with Generation of Vipers (1943), a blistering critique of American society whose impact has yet to be equaled….

(6) A CENTURY OF VAMPIRA. American Cinematheque in Los Angeles is offering tickets to various events that are part of “Vampira’s 100th Birthday Celebration!” on December 11.

On Sunday, December 11th, The American Cinematheque remembers Maila “Vampira” Nurmi with a 100th birthday celebration. We have a a book signing with Sandra Nieme for Maila Nurmi’s biography Glamour Ghoul prior to the screening of the Tim Burton classic ED WOOD followed by a panel with screenwriters Scott Alexander & Larry Karaszewski, author Sandra Niemi (Glamour Ghoul), filmmaker Ray Greene (VAMPIRA AND ME) and make-up legend Ve Niell (ED WOOD) moderated by comedian Dana Gould and Ed Wood’s classic PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE preceded by a reel of rare footage of Vampira’s TV appearances in the 1950’s. It’s a one-night only special celebration of a very special woman.

(7) MEMORY LANE.

1999 [By Cat Eldridge.] Statues of Sherlock Holmes

Tonight we are discussing two statues of Sherlock Holmes done by the same sculptor. Yes statues. Being a fictional character of his stature, it wouldn’t do for there to be just one statue to honor him, would there.

The first is almost where you would expect to be which would be 221B Baker Street. It was dedicated on September 23rd,1999 with this  sculpture being  funded by the Abbey National building society whose headquarters were on the fictional site of that address. 

Unfortunately there was no place on Baker Street for this sculpture by John Doubleday who also crafted as The Beatles and Laurel and Hardy to be erected so it is located outside Baker Street tube station on Marylebone Road, near both the detective’s fictional home at 221B Baker Street and the Sherlock Holmes Museum between numbers 237 and 241.

The nearly ten foot high bronze statue depicts Holmes wearing an Inverness cape and a deerstalker and holding a calabash pipe, attributed as first given to him by Sidney Paget, the illustrator of Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories for The Strand Magazine.

The other statue is I think more interesting.

It completed by John Doubleday in 1988 and shows the great detective a few hours before his final and fatal encounter James Moriarty at the Grand Reichenbach Fall.  He is just sitting, just thinking one presumes, as you can see in the first image. 

On the statue and, in the second image you’ll see the plaque next to the statue are sculpted clues, most of which are symbols. It is said by obsessed Sherlock Holmes fans that with intent observation one can compile a complete list of all the sixty Sherlock Holmes stories from these symbols. Huh. 

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 9, 1848 Joel Chandler Harris. American journalist, fiction writer, and folklorist who is best known for his collection of Uncle Remus stories. He’s white and the stories are about the ‘Brer Rabbit’ stories from the African-American oral tradition. Some, like Henry Louis Gates, Jr., credit him for preventing these tales from being lost, while some others criticize his work as cultural appropriation. James Weldon Johnson called them “the greatest body of folklore America has produced.” (Died 1908.)
  • Born December 9, 1900 Margaret Brundage. An illustrator and painter who is now remembered chiefly for having illustrated Weird TalesHere is her first cover for them.  She’s responsible for most of the covers for between 1933 and 1938. Wiki claims without attribution that L. Sprague de Camp and Clark Ashton Smith were several of the writers not fond of her style of illustration though other writers were. She’d win the Retro Hugo at CoNZealand for Best Professional Artist after being nominated four times before. And she’s a member of the First Fandom Hall of Fame. (Died 1976.)
  • Born December 9, 1902 Margaret Hamilton. Most likely you’ll remember her best as The Wicked Witch in The Wizard of Oz. She would appear later in The Invisible Woman, along with much later being in 13 Ghosts, a horror film, and she had a very minor role in The Night Strangler, a film sequel to The Night Stalker. And then there were her coffee commercials in the Seventies — absolute fantasy! See Maxwell House Coffee ad with Margaret Hamilton. (Died 1985.)
  • Born December 9, 1911 Don Ward. Author of H. Rider Haggard’s She: The Story Retold. More intriguingly, he ghost-wrote works credited according to ESF to both Alfred Hitchcock (Bar the Doors: Terror Stories) and Orson Welles (Invasion from Mars: Interplanetary Stories). He also worked with Theodore Sturgeon on Sturgeon’s West. (Died 1984.)
  • Born December 9, 1934 Judi Dench, 88. M in a lot of Bond films. Aereon in The Chronicles of Riddick, Queen Elizabeth in Shakespeare in Love which is at genre adjacent, Society Lady in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and Miss Avocet in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. Her very first genre film in the late Sixties, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, was poorly received by critics and I recall her role being a mostly nude faerie. 
  • Born December 9, 1947 Sarah Smith, 75. She has authored King of Space, a work of genre fiction published as a hypertext novel by Eastgate System, one of the first such works. She’s written two conventional genre novels, The Knowledge of Water and The Other Side of Dark, plus a double handful of short fiction and essays.
  • Born December 9, 1952 Nicki Lynch, 70. She and her husband Rich Lynch edited Mimosa which won six Best Fanzine Hugos and was nominated a total of 14 times. She and her husband have been members of WSFA, the Southern Fandom Confederation, the Chattanooga Science Fiction Association. She has also been a member of SAPS, SFPA, Myriad (Galactic Hitch Hiker), and LASFAPA.  
  • Born December 9, 1970 Jennifer Brozek, 52. She picked up a Hugo nomination at Sasquan for Best Editor Short Form for the Beast Within 4: Gears & Growl steampunk anthology (she also edited numbers 2 and 3 in the series). Her novel The Last Days of Salton Academy garnered a Stoker nomination.

(9) WILDLIFE ANTICIPATION. “A little girl in California has been granted a license to keep a unicorn” reports NPR.

Madeline wrote to LA county officials asking for approval to keep a unicorn in her backyard if she could find one.

The animal control department agreed, granting her their very first unicorn license….

Insider quotes the county’s letter to Madeline: “LA County gave a girl a ‘unicorn license’ for her backyard — but only if she gives the mythical creature ‘regular access to rainbows’ and biodegradable glitter”.

…The department responded to her in a letter penned by Marcia Mayeda, the director of the Los Angeles County Department of Animal Care and Control, on November 30. In the letter, Mayeda granted the license Madeline sought, as long as she followed the county’s conditions for keeping a unicorn, including caring for the pet in compliance with Title 10 of the Los Angeles County Code, which lays out the county’s laws for animal control and health.

Additionally, any unicorn owners must give their magical pets “regular access to sunlight, moonbeams, and rainbows,” Mayeda explained in the letter, adding that the unicorn must be fed watermelon — “its favorite treats” — at least once a week. 

In order to maintain the unicorn’s horn in “good health,” Madeline would be required to polish it “at least once a month with a soft cloth.” Also, “any sparkles or glitter used on the unicorn must be nontoxic and biodegradable.”… 

(10) DAILY ROBOTS. [Item by Bruce D. Arthurs.] Came across this on Twitter from a fellow who does a coloring Advent picture every year. Only saw it yesterday, so it’s a bit late for the start of Advent, but it thought it was pretty adorable even as a standalone collection of cartoon robots.

(11) OVERFLOW. The Guardian profiles a famous Stephen King movie adaptation: “’The police came because of the sea of red gore’: unseen photos from the set of The Shining”.

Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining has legions of admirers the world over – not the least Lee Unkrich, director of Pixar classics including Toy Story 3 and Coco. Unkrich spent years collecting pictures, artefacts and stories about the making of the film, uncovering deleted scenes and getting to grips with its most obscure details. Here are a collection of unseen photographs from his forthcoming book about the 1980 horror classic…

…“Stanley was extremely nervous,” said Leon Vitali, actor and personal assistant to Kubrick, of the infamous blood elevator shoot. “We didn’t know if it was going to work. It was a one-off. We had thousands of gallons of this stuff that was going to be coming out of those elevator doors and it had to work … It was so beautiful you wanted to hug [him].” To the horror of nearby residents, a good deal of the blood allegedly escaped from the studio into the surrounding areas, and police were called to address the sea of red gore running through town….

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

Pixel Scroll 11/24/22 On The Avenue, Second-Fifth Avenue, The Filetographers Will Snap Us, And You’ll Find That You’re In The Pixelgravure

(1) TURKEY DAY. Following that overstuffed title it’s time to pay homage to another Thanksgiving tradition, one I’m sure you’ll immediately recognize.

(2) SIGNERS OF THE TIMES. “Bob Dylan Gets Tangled Up in Book Autograph Controversy” – the New York Times tells why.

Simon & Schuster sold 900 signed copies of the singer’s new essay collection, but superfans and internet sleuths noticed something wasn’t right with the autograph. Now the publisher is issuing refunds.

… So when Simon & Schuster, Dylan’s publisher, advertised limited-edition, hand-signed copies of the musician’s new collection of essays for $600 each, Bernstein was among 900 fans who went for one. Last week, he received his copy of “The Philosophy of Modern Song,” Dylan’s first collection of writings since he won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2016, with a letter of authenticity signed by Jonathan Karp, the publisher’s chief executive.

There was only one problem.

Karp’s signature “looked more legit than Bob’s,” Bernstein said.

Bernstein was one of hundreds of fans who sleuthed their way around social media, reaching the conclusion that the supposedly hand-signed books had not, in fact, been signed by Dylan.

“I got the nostalgia bug,” said Bernstein, who already owned an unsigned copy of the book, as well as a Kindle version and an audio version. He added, “If he touches this book — he wrote it, signed it — it feels like the soul of Bob Dylan is with me.”

Instead, many fans suggested that the “autographed” copies of the book had been signed by a machine….

(3) OCTOTHORPE. “Just Nearly Froze to Death”, Octothorpe episode 71, is ready for listeners.

John is on the Holodeck, Alison is in the past, and Liz is at school. We discuss what Alison got up to at Novacon before chatting about a few other bits and bobs. Listen here!

(4) SMACKAGE. “Stephen King, Elon Musk spar: MyPillow will be Twitter’s ‘only advertiser’” on MarketWatch.

That was master of horror and bestselling fiction writer Stephen King riffing on the parade of advertisers including GM, United Airlines and Audi pausing or scrapping their marketing on the social-media platform since Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk took over…. 

…This is perhaps why Musk responded to King’s most recent tweet about MyPillow with “Oh hi lol.” 

Musk followed up by asking, “Is My Pillow actually a great pillow? Now I’m curious.” 

(5) DRAGONS DEFENDED. In “Weber & Correia on the mil-SF Dragon Award” – Camestros Felapton delivers lengthy excerpts from the two authors’ remarks delivered in the wake of the Dragon Awards deleting the Military SF category. Weber tries to justify the decision to his grumpy fan base, and Larry Correia upbraids “the people who are nominally supposed to be on my side” for their “black pilled doom nonsense.” If you care what Weber and Correia think about the situation, this would be the place to find out.

(6) PUSH THE PANIC BUTTON! SF2 Concatenation, in an Autumn 2022 editorial headlined “The 2023 Worldcon in China may be cancelled! If, that is, the UN COP15 Convention on Biodiversity (CBD-COP15) changes are a portent”,  is volunteering the Winnipeg NASFiC as the backup plan.

The 2023 Worldcon in Chengdu China has had its problems, not least political controversy due to its Guests of Honours’ support for political aggression, namely: China’s Uyghur policy, Putin’s war on Ukraine and apparent tacit support (being willing to share a platform with those of such views) thereof respectively.  However, these are not  the reasons the event may be cancelled.  China has a strict ‘zero CoVID-19 policy that has meant that as soon as a number of cases are reported in a city, then that city is put into strict lockdown: this has already happened a number of times this year.  So, for instance, following discussions with China, on 21st June (2022) the United Nations announced that the CBD-COP15 meeting would no longer be held in Kumming, China, but be held instead 5th – 17th December (2022) in Montreal, Canada.  The risk of the CBD-COP running foul of, or even itself causing – with the international influx of thousands of participants – a mini CoVID outbreak so triggering, a strict lockdown in Kumming was real enough for the UN to make the change: it was considered a non-trivial risk….

Meanwhile, following the above being written in July-August following the UN CBD-COP15 change, at the beginning of September (2022) 25 million people in Chengdu, China, have been put in lockdown.  This is a portent if ever one should be needed, irrespective with what has already happened with the UN’s CBD-COP15.

The crew’s vision for rescuing the Hugo Awards is a little shortsighted — “The rest could be arranged by those regularly associated with WSFS governance (the World SF Society being the body under whose auspices the Hugo’s are organised)” – because WSFS is not an administrative body, it is the members of the seated Worldcons. There’s no WSFS management to pull the plug on Chengdu, or to take funds from them to pay for award trophies. That would take the Chengdu Worldcon’s cooperation. And consider that the minimum requirements for the Worldcon are far more modest than a UN convention. What if Chengdu fell back on doing a virtual Worldcon, like CoNZealand?

(7) MEMORY LANE.

1993 [By Cat Eldridge.] Tombstone 

The Old West has a significant impact upon the SFF genre, be it in video such as Star Trek’s “Spectre of the Gun”, Doctor Who’s “A Town Called Mercy”, The Wild Wild West series or, to note but two novels, Emma Bull’s Territory and Midori Snyder’s The Flight of Michael McBride

So I’m going to look at some of my favorite Westerns starting with the Tombstone which premiered twenty-nine years ago. 

It directed by George P. Cosmatos from a screenplay by Kevin Jarre. He was also the original director, but was replaced early in production.  It had three producers — James Jacks, Sean Daniel and Bob Misiorowski.

It quite possibly the most extraordinary cast ever assembled for a Western —  Kurt Russell, Val Kilmer and Sam Elliott in lead roles, and with Bill Paxton, Powers Boothe, Michael Biehn, and Dana Delany in supporting roles, as well as narration by Robert Mitchum. The Dana Delany appearance, though brief, I think was one of her best ever.

The film was screenwriter Kevin Jarre’s first job as director but he was overwhelmed by the job, failing to get needed shots and falling behind the shooting schedule. Biehn threaten to quit being his close friend but Russell talked him out of it.

I see no need for spoilers as likely you know the story as they really didn’t deviate that much from what has been told before. It’s how they told it that I find such a stellar story. Each of the principal characters is realized, a completely believable human being. And each is given enough lines to come to life in this story. If I had to single out one actor here in particular, it’d be Val Kilmer as the dying Doc Holliday. That is a performance for the ages. 

One of the actors gets much of the credit for what the final shooting script looks like. Russell worked endlessly with producer Jacks to ruthlessly cut to the bone Jarre’s originally vastly overblown script, deleting endless subplots and emphasizing the oh so important relationship between Wyatt and Doc. 

It is disputed to this day who directed the actual film. Russell claims that he and not Cosmatos did. He says that the latter was brought in as a “ghost director” because Russell did not want it to be known at the time that he was directing the film. 

Critics either really liked it or really, really hated it. The latter, all male I must note, thought it treated women badly. I didn’t. 

Box office wise, it was a fantastic success, making three times what it cost to produce. 

I’ve watched it at least a half dozen times. The Suck Fairy has equally enjoyed it each times she’s viewed it with me. She particularly liked the final scene with Kurt Russell as Wyatt Earp and Dana Delany as Josephine Marcus dancing in the snow in San Francisco. She does have a soft heart, you know.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 24, 1882 E. R. Eddison. Writer whose most well-known work by far is The Worm Ouroboros. It’s slightly connected to his much lesser known later Zimiamvian Trilogy. I’m reasonably that sure I’ve read The Worm Ouroboros but way too long ago to remember anything about it. Silverberg in the Millenium Fantasy Masterworks Series edition of this novel said he considered it to be “the greatest high fantasy of them all”. (Died 1945.)
  • Born November 24, 1907 Evangeline Walton. Her best-known work, the Mabinogion tetralogy, was written during the late 1930s and early 1940s, and her Theseus trilogy was produced during the late 1940s. It’s worth stressing Walton is best known for her four novels retelling the Welsh Mabinogi. She published her first volume in 1936 under the publisher’s title of The Virgin and the Swine which is inarguably a terrible title. Although receiving glowing praise from John Cowper Powys, the book sold quite awfully and none of the other novels in the series were published at that time. Granted a second chance by Ballantine’s Adult Fantasy series in 1970, it was reissued with a much better title of The Island of the Mighty. The other three volumes followed quickly. Witch House is an occult horror story set in New England and She Walks in Darkness which came out on Tachyon Press is genre as well. I think that is the extent of her genre work but I’d be delighted to be corrected. She has won a number of Awards including the Mythopoeic Award for Adult Literature, Best Novel along with The Fritz Leiber Fantasy Award, World Fantasy Award, Convention Award and the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement. (Died 1996.) (JJ )
  • Born November 24, 1926 Forrest J Ackerman. It’s no wonder that he got a Hugo for #1 Fan Personality in 1953 and equally telling that when he was handed the trophy at Philcon II (by Asimov), he physically declined saying it should go to Ken Slater to whom the trophy was later given by the con committee. That’s a nice summation of him. You want more? As a literary agent, he represented some two hundred writers, and he served as agent of record for many long-lost authors, thereby allowing their work to be reprinted. Hell, he represented Ed Wood! He was a prolific writer, more than fifty stories to his credit, and he named Vampirella and wrote the origin story for her. His non-fiction writings are wonderful as well. I’ll just single out Forrest J Ackerman’s Worlds of Science FictionA Reference Guide to American Science Fiction Films and a work he did with Brad Linaweaver, Worlds of Tomorrow: The Amazing Universe of Science Fiction Art. Did I mention he collected everything? Well, he did. Just one location of his collection contained some three hundred thousand books, film, SF material objects and writings. The other was eighteen rooms in extent. Damn if anyone needed their own TARDIS, it was him. In his later years, he was a board member of the Seattle Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame who now have possession of many items of his collection. (Died 2008.)
  • Born November 24, 1948 Spider Robinson, 74. His first story, “The Guy with the Eyes,” was published in Analog (February 1973). It was set in a bar called Callahan’s Place, a setting for much of his later fiction.  His first published novel, Telempath in 1976 was an expansion of his Hugo award-winning novella “By Any Other Name”. The Stardance trilogy was co-written with his wife Jeanne Robinson; the first book won a Nebula. In 2004, he began working on a seven-page 1955 novel outline by the late Heinlein to expand it into a novel. The resulting novel would be called Variable Star. Who’s read it?
  • Born November 24, 1957 Denise Crosby, 65. Tasha Yar on Next Gen who got a meaningful death in “Yesterday’s Enterprise” after getting an earlier truly meaningless one. In other genre work, she was on The X-Files as a doctor who examined Agent Scully’s baby. And I really like it that she was in two Pink Panther films, Trail of the Pink Panther and Curse of the Pink Panther, as Denise, Bruno’s Moll. And she’s yet another Trek performer who’s popped doing what I call Trek video fanfic. She’s Dr. Jenna Yar in “Blood and Fire: Part 2”, an episode of the only season of Star Trek: New Voyages as Paramount was not amused. 
  • Born November 24, 1957 Jeff Noon, 65. Novelist and playwright. Prior to his relocation in 2000 to Brighton, his stories reflected in some way his native though not birth city of Manchester. The Vurt sequence whose first novel won the Arthur C. Clarke Award is a very odd riff off Alice in Wonderland that he describes as a sequel to those works. Noon was the winner of an Astounding Award for the Best New Science Fiction Writer.
  • Born November 24, 1957 John Zakour, 65. For sheer pulp pleasure, I wholeheartedly recommend his Zachary Nixon Johnson PI series which he co-wrote with Larry Ganem. Popcorn reading at its very best. It’s the only series of his I’ve read, anyone else read his other books? 
  • Born November 24, 1965 Shirley Henderson, 57. She was Moaning Myrtle in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. She was Ursula Blake in “Love & Monsters!”, a Tenth Doctor story, and played Susannah in Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story, a film that’s sf because of the metanarrative aspect.

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • Eek! shows that even a successful experiment by a mad scientist can cause problems. (Or do they always?)
  • The Far Side shows the real reason they went extinct.

(10) I SEE BY YOUR OUTFIT. Radio Times is agog as “Doctor Who unveils new look at David Tennant as Fourteenth Doctor”.

…Fans were previously treated to a closer look at Tennant’s Fourteenth Doctor outfit at MCM Comic Con last month, where a special exhibit showed off the blue coat and white trainers that the Doctor will wear in the upcoming 60th anniversary episodes, which are set to air in 2023.

The exhibit also featured the striped jumper and green jacket worn by Catherine Tate, who will be reprising her role as the Doctor’s companion Donna Noble in the three specials….

(11) SHOCKWAVE WIDER. Nature shows how “Shock waves spark blazing light from black holes”.

Radiation from a jet of ultrafast particles powered by a supermassive black hole suggests that the particles are accelerated by shock waves propagating along the jet, making them shine with the brightness of 100 billion Suns!

Most of the 200 billion galaxies in the Universe are centred around enormous black holes that can weigh as much as one billion Suns. Many of these black holes are dormant, but some are still growing, devouring gas from their surroundings and releasing vast amounts of radiation. Even fewer of these active supermassive black holes are capable of launching powerful jets from their cores — ultrafast streams of particles that shine brightly, and can travel distances of up to 100 times the size of their own galaxy. But what provides the initial kick that enables these particles to release so much energy? Writing in Nature, Liodakis et al. report that the push comes from shock waves that are generated naturally…

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

Stephen King’s Fairy Tale: Worth The Read. Another Dern Not-Quite-A-Review

By Daniel Dern. For many years now, Jane Yolen, among others, has been researching, teaching, writing, and panelling the dark pre-Disney roots of fairy tales.

In Fairy Tale, his newest novel, Stephen King delivers a, cough, grimm contemporary story, explicitly incorporating horror in the, cough, spirit of Lovecraft (King also explicitly namedrops, in the text, August Derleth, and Henry Kuttner), in which high-schooler Charlie Reade becomes involved in things — and challenges — that, as the book and plot progress, stray beyond the mundane. There’s a dog involved — in this book, a good one rather than a bad one. (King does, amusingly have Charlie namedrop “Cujo” — the St. Bernard from King’s early eponymous novel — early on.)

And lots more. There’s guns and gold. No riddle scenes, no dragons.

Personally, I’m inclined to label Fairy Tale “dark fantasy,” whatever that means, rather than horror, although as I think about it, both feel correct. (Darrell Schweitzer or some other horror expert is welcome to weigh in.) But it’s not the “because evil/unhappy spirits of buried bones” that it feels like too many of King’s books end up blaming.

If you are already a King fan, you’ll want to read Fairy Tale. (I’ve read lots of King, though not all, for example, not the Dark Tower books, although I have one friend who loves them.)

If you haven’t read King yet, or only a few, but you’re open to dark bordering-on-horror fantasy, I recommend Fairy Tale. Does it have a happy or unhappy ending? Is there a pile of gold? No comment. The only non-spoiler comment I’ll make: The story is told first-person, Charlie unreeling events from a long-after perspective. So Charlie doesn’t buy the farm.

I know, heckofa non-review. It’s King, so well-written, long (though by today’s standards, average length or even, since it’s a one-and-done, technically almost short). Good, real characters. Clear prose, great pacing.

Or, to boil it down to a short sentence: “Stephen King’s got a new dark fantasy/horror novel out, worth reading.”

Pixel Scroll 10/5/22 Thoughts Gather, But Fail To Coalesce Into Pixels

(1) CHARLES YU Q&A. “’In Any Version of Reality’: Talking SF with Charles Yu” at Public Books.  

Christopher T. Fan (CF): In a later chapter of How to Live Safely, there’s another father-son scene, where the father is trying to impart knowledge to the young protagonist. He’s opening a pack of graph paper, peeling off the cellophane—it’s very tactile. He says, “Choose a world, any world,” as he opens up this graph paper and presents it to his son. Can you say more about that sense of optimism? How graph paper leads to a world? 

Charles Yu (CY): In my dad’s office, he had these thick pads of graph paper with this very pleasing feel. They were pretty squishy because the paper was thick, and they had these very light green lines. It wasn’t perforation, it was like they were wax. You just tore a page off, and there was a sound that the pad would make as you tore off a nice sheet. I usually wouldn’t tear off the page I was working on, because you’d want the feeling of all the sheets underneath the top one. I was just playing with the idea.

No matter what else is going on, no matter if you’re an immigrant making your life in a foreign country, or if you’ve got all this work pressure and money pressure, or you’re trying to refinance the house because you’re maxed out on all your credit cards—whatever is going on in your life at that moment, you think, OK, we have math, we have a universe. I draw the X axis, I draw the Y. We’re in the Cartesian plane—here we are. To be able to go to that plane, anytime, just like that.

(2) NBA FINALISTS. The 2022 National Book Awards finalists were announced October 4 by the National Book Foundation. There are two works of genre interest. The complete list of finalists is here.

National Book Award 2022 Finalists: Translated Literature

Scattered All Over the Earth by Yoko Tawada

Original Language: Japanese/ Translator: Margaret Mitsutani (Penguin Random House / Riverhead Books)

National Book Award 2022 Finalists: Young People’s Literature

The Ogress and the Orphans by Kelly Barnhill(Workman Publishing / Algonquin Young Readers)

(3) WIKI BARS THE DOOR. [Item by Paul Weimer.] Author Gwenda Bond has been denied a Wikipedia for extremely sketchy reasons. Thread starts here.

(4) THE TANK HAS BEEN REFILLED! Chris Garcia just released his Drink Tank Chicon 8 / Chicago issue — The Drink Tank 441 – Chicon! It’s 84 pages of words and pictures from Alissa McKersie, Chuck Serface, and Chris Garcia, joined by Dave O’Neill, Paul Weimer, Fred Moulton, Vanessa Applegate, Juan Sanmiguel, Phoenix Data Art, Bill Rowe, Thad Gann, Ron Oakes, Steven H Silver, Espana Sheriff, DALL*E 2, Midjourney, and WOMBO Dream.

The Drink Tank’s “Crime Fiction – 1950 to 2000” issue should be out in a week or so, but there’s still time to submit for the up-coming looks at “Welcome to Nightvale” (Deadline Dec. 1) and the “Grant Morrison” issue (November 1).

(5) SKELETOR’S RECRUITING OFFICE. Cora Buhlert has a new photo story — “Masters-of-the-Universe-Piece Theatre: ‘Help’”

… “Ahem and why are we capturing Man-at-Arms, boss?”

“So he can build machines and weapons for us, Trap Jaw. And tell me all about the secrets of Castle Grayskull and how to kill He-Man, while he’s at it.”

“Uhm, I’m pretty sure Tri-Klops won’t like that, boss. After all, he is our tech guy.”

“I don’t care what Tri-Klops thinks. If he doesn’t want to be replaced, maybe he should come up with inventions that actually work.”…

(6) MY LITTLE PONYTAIL. GQ inquires “How Did This Ponytail Become the Go-To Men’s Hairstyle in Fantasy Adaptations?”

…The show, a Game of Thrones prequel, takes place 200 years before the events of the original series and focuses on the wheelings and dealings of the Targaryen dynasty. This means that while there was one recurring platinum blonde Targaryen wig on Game of Thrones, pretty much everyone on House of the Dragon gets to rock one—and, along with it, the half-ponytail. (It’s so excessive that Vulture published an entire House of the Dragon half-ponytail ranking.) By the time I saw Matt Smith stride onto screen as the bad boy prince Daemon Targaryen—complete with a fancy little half-ponytail he apparently meticulously styles in between waging wars, riding his dragon, and macking on his niece—I realized that the look was far bigger than Westeros. It’s become the go-to hairstyle to telegraph: “This guy’s in a fantasy series.”

So where did its reign start? The ur-fantasy-half-ponytail, down to the blonde dye job, seems to belong to Legolas in the early aughts Peter Jackson Lord of the Rings movies. J.R.R. Tolkien’s Elven prince had previously been depicted on paperback covers or in the 1978 animated Ralph Bakshi adaptation with more of a cocaine chic shag situation going on. But in the Jackson films, Orlando Bloom emerges with long silky blonde locks, tied back in a half-pony. (Where were you when, in 2001, you discovered what Bloom’s actual hair looked like?) Every prominent modern half-ponytail in fantasy—Henry Cavill in The Witcher, Daemon in House of the Dragon—owes a debt to this one.

Curious about how it originally came to be, I called up the Academy Award-winning hair designer for the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Peter Swords King (yes, really). He told me that he didn’t consult any previous aesthetics when developing the hair for Legolas. “We spent weeks experimenting with different things and came up with that. Then Peter Jackson said, ‘Oh, I really like that. That looks great,’” King recalled. “Legolas had two fishtailed braids on the other side of his head and that kept it back off his face. And then there was a tiny bit at the top by the back that was pulled into a ponytail.” (“Elves cannot have messy hair,” King added. “Lots of other characters can, it’s fine. But elves can’t. It’s not elvish to be messy.”)

King also worked on Jackson’s three-part adaptation of The Hobbit and pointed out that he gave a more rugged version of the style to Luke Evans when he played Bard the Bowman. “He was going to have all his hair down at one point and I went, ‘No, no I’m going to just try it half up, half down once,’” he said. “And I did that and said, ‘That’s it. That’s perfect. We want to see that hair moving when he runs and fights, but we don’t want it in his face.’” The issue with the hair all down was that “as soon as he started fighting, even with product in it and everything, it kept getting in his face. It looked bad. He looked messy.”

(7) MIYAZAKI ON STAGE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times behind a paywall, Sarah Hemming interviews My Neighbour Totoro, based on the film by Hayao Miyazaki, written by Tom Morton-Smith and with music by Joe Hisaishi (who also did the music for the film).  It is playing at the Barbican Theatre (barbican.org.uk) through January 21.

Morton-Smith “describes his task as ‘translation as well as adaptation’  He’s expanded several scenes, brought forward some characters and increased the dialogue.  But he adds that, although the story doesn’t confirm to convention expectations, it does have defined sections and a narrative journey…

Finding a stage language for this delicate story has meant drawing together a high-powered international team.  Hisaishi has been closely involved and his original score will be played live.  Jim Henson’s Creature Shop is building the puppets, designed by Basil Twist, and Phelim McDermott, expert in improvisation and puckish invention is directing.  The show is produced in collaboration with English theatre company Improbable and Japan’s Nippon TV.

(8) ALBERT COWDREY (1933-2022). Author Albert Cowdrey died August 21 at age 88. According to the family obituary, “He wrote Elixir of Life, a historical novel, Crux, a science fiction novel, and more than sixty published short stories, many in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. He was the only writer to receive awards from both the American Historical Association (Herbert Feis Award, 1984) and the World Fantasy Convention (World Fantasy Award, 2002).” The WFA was for his short story “Queen for a Day”.

(9) MEMORY LANE.  

1923 [By Cat Eldridge.] Ninety-nine years ago this month in Black Mask’s October 1923 issue, Dashiell Hammett’s Continental Op private detective first appeared. He’s employed as an operative of the Continental Detective Agency’s San Francisco office, hence his nickname. The stories are all told in the first person and his actual name is never given.

He may be the earliest hardboiled detective to appear in the pulp magazines. Note I said maybe. It’s still in matter of debate among pulp magazine historians. 

He appeared in thirty-six short stories, all but two of which appeared in Black Mask. Some ofHammett’s short stories in Black Mask were intended to be the basis for his novels, so for example “Black Lives”, “Hollow Temple”, “Black Honeymoon” and “Black Riddle” would become The Dain Curse. The novels differ substantially from the stories as they were revised by an editor at Alfred A. Knopf.

There are but two novels in the series, The Dain Curse and Red Harvest.  The latter was originally called The Cleansing of Poisonville and it sums up the novel damn well. Red Harvest, like The Dain Curse, started life as linked stories in Black Mask.

The Library of America’s Complete Novels includes both Red Harvest and The Dain Curse as printed by Knopf. The companion collection Crime Stories and Other Writings uses the original pulp magazine texts.

Of course there have been video adaptations. 

The Dain Curse was made into a six-hour CBS television miniseries in 1978 starring James Coburn. Here The Op was named Hamilton Nash which was his creator’s name ‘spelled sideways’. 

Four years later, Peter Boyle played the Continental Op in the opening of Hammett in which Hammett as played by Frederic Forrest is writing a story about the detective character.

And finally thirteen years later, Christopher Lloyd played The Continental Op in “Fly Paper” in season two, episode seven of the Fallen Angels anthology series adapted from Hammett’s short story of the same name. 

Blackstone has done a most exemplary audio productions of the novels which I know are on Audible and probably everywhere else as well.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and JJ.]

  • Born October 5, 1905 John Hoyt. His first genre role was in When Worlds Collide as Sydney Stanton, and the next in Attack of the Puppet People as Mr. Franz, bookending the Fifties. He starts off the Sixties in The Time Travelers as Varno. He appeared twice during the second season of The Twilight Zone in the episodes “Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?” and “The Lateness of the Hour”. And he had roles in many other genre series, including as the KAOS agent Conrad Bunny in the Get Smart episode “Our Man in Toyland”, and General Beeker in Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea’s episode “Hail to the Chief”, and Dr. Philip Boyce in the original pilot episode of Star Trek (“The Cage”). In the Seventies he appeared in Flesh Gordon as Professor Gordon. Yes, Flesh Gordon. (Died 1991.)
  • Born October 5, 1919 Donald Pleasence. He was Doctor Samuel Loomis in the Halloween franchise and the President in Escape from New York. He also had a plethora of parts in other genre properties, a few of which include the main role in the movie Fantastic Voyage which was novelized by Isaac Asimov, roles in episodes of the The Twilight ZoneThe Outer Limits, and The Ray Bradbury Theater, a part in George Lucas’ first foray into filmmaking, THX 1138, John Carpenter’s The Prince of Darkness, and the role of Merlin in the TV movie Guinivere. My favorite film title for a work he was in? Frankenstein’s Great Aunt Tillie in which he played the dual roles of Victor Frankenstein and Old Baron Frankenstein. (Died 1995.)
  • Born October 5, 1949 Peter Ackroyd, 73. His best known genre work is likely Hawksmoor which tells the tale of a London architect building a church and a contemporary detective investigating horrific murderers involving that church. Highly recommended. The House of Doctor Dee is genre fiction as is The Limehouse Golem and The Casebook of Victor Frankenstein.  I thought Hawksmoor had been turned into a film but it has not. But he has a credit for The Limehouse Golem which is his film work. 
  • Born October 5, 1952 Clive Barker, 70. Horror writer, series include the Hellraiser and the Book of Art, which is not to overlook The Abarat Quintet which is quite superb. Though not recent, The Essential Clive Barker: Selected Fiction published some twenty years ago contains more than seventy excerpts from novels and plays and four full-length short stories. His Imaginer series collects his decidedly strange art.  There has been a multitude of comic books, both by him and by others based on his his ideas.  My personal fave work by him is the Weaveworld novel.
  • Born October 5, 1945 Judith Kerman, 77. Can we call her a polymath? She’s a translator, publisher, academic, anthologist and poet.  All of her poetry, collected in Uncommonplaces: Poems of the Fantastic, is well worth your time. She did two non-fiction works of which I’m recommending one, “Retrofitting Blade Runner: Issues in Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner and Phillip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep”, as I’ve a Jones for that literature.
  • Born October 5, 1959 Rich Horton, 63. Editor of three anthology series — Fantasy: Best of The Year and Science Fiction: Best of The Year, merged into The Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy in 2010. He wrote a review column for Locus for twenty years, signing off this past February. His Strange at Ecbatan blog includes reviews, criticism, and a well-received series that proposes Hugo finalists to fill in the old years when only winners were announced, or even before the award was created.
  • Born October 5, 1971 Paul Weimer, 51. Writer, Reviewer, and Podcaster, also known as @PrinceJvstin. An ex-pat New Yorker living in Minnesota, he has been reading science fiction and fantasy for over 30 years and exploring the world of roleplaying games for more than 25 years. A three-time Hugo finalist for Best Fan Writer (2020-2022), he is a prolific reviewer for Nerds of a Feather. He also contributes to the Hugo-nominated fancast The Skiffy and Fanty Show and the SFF Audio podcast. He was the 2017 Down Under Fan Fund delegate to the Australia and New Zealand National Conventions, and his e-book DUFF trip report, consisting of more than 300 pages of travel stories and stunning photographs, is still available here.
  • Born October 5, 1975 Kate Winslet, 47. A longer and deeper genre record than I thought starting with being Prince Sarah in A Kid in King Arthur’s Court before playing Ophelia in Branagh’s Hamlet a few years later. She shows next as Clementine Kruczynski in the superb Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and was Sylvia Llewelyn Davies in the equally superb Finding Neverland. She’s Jeanine Matthews in Divergent and Insurgent, and is slated to be Ronal in the forthcoming Avatar 2. She’s the voice of Miss Fillyjonk in the English dub of the Swedish Moominvalley series. Finally, I’d like to note she narrated the audiobook version of Roald Dahl’s Matilda.

(11) LIVE FROM NEW BOOK, IT’S SATURDAY NIGHT! Goodman Games is doing a live interview with Michael Moorcock this weekend: “Live Interview With Michael Moorcock is This Weekend!”

The Sanctum Secorum is pleased to announce a special episode of Sanctum Secorum Live with guest Michael Moorcock. In honor of the forthcoming release of the newest book in the Elric saga, The Citadel of Forgotten Myths, Mr. Moorcock will be talking live about Elric, his new book, and more. Perhaps more importantly, he will also be taking questions from you, our viewers!

The show will be broadcast live on The Official Goodman Games twitch channel, and will also be rebroadcast via the Sanctum Secorum podcast feed as well as the Goodman Games Youtube channel. The show is being broadcast at 4:00 pm EST, allowing the entirety of the global Goodman Games fan base to take part and have your voices heard (figuratively at least).

(12) CHOW IN THE PINE TREE STATE. Some parts are edible…! Stephen King talks about the cuisine of Maine and shares a recipe that sounds pretty tasty: “Stephen King on What Authentic Maine Cuisine Means to Him” at Literary Hub.

… When I think of Maine cuisine, I think of red hot dogs in spongy Nissen rolls, slow-baked beans (with a big chunk of pork fat thrown in), steamed fresh peas with bacon, whoopie pies, plus macaroni and cheese (often with lobster bits, if there were some left over). I think of creamed salt cod on mashed potatoes—a favorite of my toothless grandfather—and haddock baked in milk, which was the only fish my brother would eat. I hated it; to this day I can see those fishy fillets floating in boiled milk with little tendrils of butter floating around in the pan. Ugh.

As the twig is bent the bough is shaped, so they say, and my tastes have remained simple and unrefined. I like nothing better than a couple of blueberry pancakes for breakfast, floating in maple syrup. (Folks think of Vermont when they think of maple syrup, but the Maine variety is just as good.) There’s nothing like a chunk of fried fish with vinegar for lunch, and a New England boiled dinner for supper—corned beef, cabbage, potatoes, and carrots. (“You must zimmer very zlowly,” my mother liked to say.) Add some strawberry shortcake (Bisquick biscuits, please) for dessert, and you’ve got some mighty good eatin’….

(13) BLANK SLATE. Slashfilm knows “Why Star Trek: Lower Decks Creator Mike McMahan Wanted Non-Trekkies In The Writers’ Room”.

… While it might seem like a no-brainer to stick with die-hard fans, the writers who were new to the “Trek” universe brought something special to the table, too:

“The original ‘Star Trek’ was made by people who had never seen ‘Star Trek’ because they were creating it. I wanted that feeling of brains that didn’t know ‘Star Trek’ as well, but were just thinking about the characters and the comedy. … [The new writers] find things that are super funny that they love, and you’re like, ‘Oh, right, that was normal to me because I’ve seen it my whole life, but that is an amazing, weird, funny thing.'”

As it turns out, McMahan’s unconventional decision paid off. The show has been a breath of fresh air, which was almost certainly the result of getting fresh eyes in the writers’ room. …

 (14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] How It Should Have Ended took a pause this summer, but they are back with guest voice Jon Bailey (the “epic voice guy” form Honest Trailers)

[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Chris Barkley, Paul Weimer, Cora Buhlert, 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 Lis Carey.]

Pixel Scroll 9/22/22 On Tsundoku Did OGH, A Stately Pixel-Scroll Decree

(1) TO BOLDLY SNIFF. No need to be shy about writing this subgenre:“Imagining The Real World by Rae Mariz” at Stone Soup.

…I write climate fiction and it took me a while to realize how saying that in a declarative sentence made publishing professionals recoil like I’d asked them to smell my skunk. I put it proudly in my pitches and query letters. Climate! Fiction!… Smell! My! Skunk! I didn’t know you weren’t supposed to say the c-word in polite company. I’m still not sure why that is, why it’s not something people are actively “looking for” in fiction. Because for me, stories are ideal places to work out the tangles of complicated issues—especially the “what are we not talking about when we refuse to talk about the climate crisis?” questions….

(2) BAIKONUR BOOGIE. Today I learned there is also a Russian Space Forces (they use the plural). And I’m told this is their anthem. You can dance to it!

(3) WINDOW ON CHICON 8. Keith Stokes’ photos of the Worldcon are now online at “Chicon 8 – the 2022 World Science Fiction Convention”.

Here’s his shot of the Chengdu Worldcon exhibit table.

(4) TOLKIEN IN THE BOOT. The New York Times covers “Hobbits and the Hard Right: How Fantasy Inspires Italy’s Potential New Leader”

Giorgia Meloni, the hard-right leader who is likely to be the next prime minister of Italy, used to dress up as a hobbit.

As a youth activist in the post-Fascist Italian Social Movement, she and her fellowship of militants, with nicknames like Frodo and Hobbit, revered “The Lord of the Rings” and other works by the British writer J.R.R. Tolkien. They visited schools in character. They gathered at the “sounding of the horn of Boromir” for cultural chats. She attended “Hobbit Camp” and sang along with the extremist folk band Compagnia dell’Anello, or Fellowship of the Ring.

All of that might seem some youthful infatuation with a work usually associated with fantasy-fiction and big-budget epics rather than political militancy. But in Italy, “The Lord of the Rings” has for a half-century been a central pillar upon which descendants of post-Fascism reconstructed a hard-right identity, looking to a traditionalist mythic age for symbols, heroes and creation myths free of Fascist taboos.

“I think that Tolkien could say better than us what conservatives believe in,” said Ms. Meloni, 45. More than just her favorite book series, “The Lord of the Rings” was also a sacred text. “I don’t consider ‘The Lord of the Rings’ fantasy,” she said….

(5) HORROR FILM MAGAZINE INTERVIEWS VERTLIEB. The new issue of We Belong Dead Magazine, the prestigious British horror film magazine, includes a twelve-page interview and color layout on the life and times of Steve Vertlieb. It’s issue No. 31, and is available now at Barnes and Noble, and wherever good books and magazines are sold throughout the globe. Get your copy now!

(6) I LIVE IN A CLOCK NOW. Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele take on steampunks in this 2020 sketch. “When Your Friend Goes Steampunk”.

(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.  

1997 [By Cat Eldridge.] Time Travel series aren’t exactly rare, are they? A quarter of a century ago on this evening one such series, Timecop, premiered on ABC. It was based on the much more successful Jean-Claude Van Damme Timecop film. Yes, I liked that film a lot. 

If you blinked you missed this series as it lasted just nine episodes before the cancellation blues played out.

Mark Verheiden who later co-produced the more successful Falling Skies series for TNT created this series. 

It starred Ted King as the Timecop, Officer Jack Logan. You may remember him as Andy Trudeau on Charmed during its first season. There is only one character, Captain Eugene Matuzek, carried over from the film, but the premise is the same. 

And yes, the beautiful female character trope held true here. 

I wouldn’t say its originality quota was high as here’s the story for the pilot: “A time traveler from the twenty-first century kills Jack the Ripper and takes his place.” That Jack becomes the main antagonist.

Nine of the thirteen episodes ordered were televised. No, there’s not four unaired episodes out there as they were never produced.

A trilogy continuing the story was published by Del Rey Books: The ScavengerViper’s Spawn and Blood Ties.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 22, 1917 Samuel A. PeeplesMemory Alpha says that he’s the person that gave Roddenberry the catch phrase he used to sell Star Trek to the network: “[As] fellow writer Harlan Ellison has credited him with the creation of one of the most famous catch phrases in Star Trek lore, “[Gene Roddenberry] got ‘Wagon Train to the stars’ from Sam Peeples. That’s what Gene said to me. They were at dinner and Sam Peeples, of course, was a fount of ideas, and Gene said something or other about wanting to do a space show and Sam said, ‘Yeah? Why don’t you do Wagon Train to the stars?’” (Died 1997.)
  • Born September 22, 1939 Edward A. Byers. Due to his early death, he has but two published novels, both space operas, The Log Forgetting and The Babylon Gate. EOFSF says “Byers was not an innovative writer, but his genuine competence raised expectations over his short active career.” There’s no sign his double handful of stories was collected, though his two novels are in-print. (Died 1989.)
  • Born September 22, 1952 Paul Kincaid, 70. A British science fiction critic. He stepped down as chairman of the Arthur C. Clarke Award in April 2006 after twenty years. He is the co-editor with Andrew M. Butler of The Arthur C. Clarke Award: A Critical Anthology. He’s also written A Very British Genre: A Short History of British Fantasy and Science Fiction and What It Is We Do When We Read Science Fiction. His latest publication is The Unstable Realities of Christopher Priest.
  • Born September 22, 1954 Shari Belafonte, 68. Daughter of Harry Belafonte, I first spotted her on Beyond Reality, a Canadian series that showed up when I was living in upstate Vermont. You most likely saw her as Elizabeth Trent in Babylon 5: Thirdspace as that’s her most well known genre performance. Bet hardly of you saw her as Linda Flores in Time Walker, an Eighties SF horror film, or the Mars SF film in which she played Doc Halliday. 
  • Born September 22, 1957 Jerry Oltion, 65. His Nebula Award winning Abandon in Place novella is the beginning of the Cheap Hyperdrive sequence, a really fun Space Opera undertaking. Abandon in Place was nominated for a Hugo at LoneStarCon 2 (2013). The Astronaut from Wyoming was nominated for a Hugo at Chicon 2000. 
  • Born September 22, 1971 Elizabeth Bear, 51. I’m only going to note the series that I really like but of course you will course add the ones that you like. First is her White Space series, Ancestral Space and Machine, which I’ve read or listened to each least three times.  Next up is the sprawling Promethean Age series which is utterly fascinating, and finally The Jenny Casey trilogy which just came out at the usual suspects.
  • Born September 22, 1982 Billie Piper, 40. Best remembered as the companion of the Ninth and Tenth Doctors, she also played the dual roles Brona Croft and Lily Frankenstein in Penny Dreadful. She played Veronica Beatrice “Sally” Lockhart in the BBC adaptation of Philip Pullman’s The Ruby in the Smoke and The Shadow in The North. 
  • Born September 22, 1985 Tatiana Maslany, 37. Best known for her superb versatility in playing more than a dozen different clones in the Orphan Black which won a Hugo for Dramatic Presentation (Short Form) at the 73rd World Science Fiction Convention for its “By Means Which Have Never Yet Been Tried“ episode. She received a Best Actress Emmy and more than two dozen other nominations and awards. She is Jennifer Walters / She-Hulk in the new Marvel She-Hulk series.

(9) COMICS SECTION.

(10) IT COULD ALWAYS GET WORSE. Stephen King reviews Celeste Ng’s Our Missing Hearts for the New York Times: “Celeste Ng’s Dystopia Is Uncomfortably Close to Reality”.

The definition of “dystopia in the Oxford English Dictionary is bald and to the point: “An imaginary place in which everything is as bad as possible.”

Literature is full of examples. In “The Time Machine,” the Morlocks feed and clothe the Eloi, then eat them. “The Handmaid’s Tale” deals with state-sanctioned rape. The firefighters in “Fahrenheit 451” incinerate books instead of saving them. In “1984”’s infamous Room 101, Winston Smith is finally broken when a cage filled with rats is dumped over his head. In “Our Missing Hearts,” Celeste Ng’s dystopian America is milder, which makes it more believable — and hence, more upsetting.…

(11) MORE HORRIFYING THAN PUMPKIN SPICE. “Demonic Doll ‘Chucky’ Gets Pumpkin Beer for Halloween”. The official collaboration between Elysian Brewing and NBCUniversal has been launched to celebrate the second season of Chucky’s eponymous TV show. (That red color comes from the added cranberry juice.)

…”Chucky is one of Halloween’s most iconic, beloved characters, and we have found the perfect partner in Elysian Brewing to capture his spirit this season,” Ellen Stone, executive vice president for entertainment consumer engagement and brand strategy at the networks’ parent company NBCUniversal Television and Streaming, stated. “This custom pumpkin beer provides a fresh, unique way for fans and beer fanatics alike to quench their thirst with a taste of Chucky ahead of the season two premiere….

(12) IRON CONTRACT. “’Iron Widow’ YA Bestseller to Be Adapted Into Movies” reports Variety.

Iron Widow,” the New York Times bestselling novel by Xiran Jay Zhao, is headed to the big screen.

Erik Feig’s Picturestart has obtained adaptive rights and is plotting a franchise around the science fiction premise, with J.C. Lee (of the forthcoming “Bad Genius” remake) set to write the screenplay.

The book is set in the fictional world of Huaxia, where humanity’s only hope against alien invaders are giant transforming robots called Chrysalises, which require a boy-girl pair to pilot…. 

(13) THE 3-D LAWS OF ROBOTICS. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Nature’s cover story is about new robots — move over Asimov… “Builder drones”.

Ground-based robots have potential for helping in the construction industry, but they are limited by their height. In this week’s issue, Mirko Kovac, Robert Stuart-Smith and their colleagues introduce highly manoeuvrable aerial robots that can perform additive 3D construction tasks. Inspired by natural builders such as wasps and bees, the researchers created BuilDrones (as shown on the cover) that can work in an autonomous team to perform 3D printing tasks using foam- or cement-based materials. They also created ScanDrones to assess the quality of the structures being built. The team hopes that this approach of ‘aerial additive manufacturing’ could help to build structures in difficult to access areas.

Aerial-AM allows manufacturing in-flight and offers future possibilities for building in unbounded, at-height or hard-to-access locations.

(14) JWST LOOKS AT NEPTUNE. “New Webb Image Captures Clearest View of Neptune’s Rings in Decades”. Read the NASA release at the link.

…Webb also captured seven of Neptune’s 14 known moons. Dominating this Webb portrait of Neptune is a very bright point of light sporting the signature diffraction spikes seen in many of Webb’s images, but this is not a star. Rather, this is Neptune’s large and unusual moon, Triton….

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Ryan George takes you inside the Pitch Meeting that led to Pinocchio (2022)!

[Thanks to Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, N., Lise Andreasen, Alan Baumler, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Steve Vertlieb, 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 Jayn.]

Pixel Scroll 8/14/22 I Am A Little Scroll Made Cunningly, Of Pixels, And An Angelic Sprite

(1) AURORA AWARD STATS. The 2022 Aurora Award Results and Hall of Fame Inductees were announced last night, and the CSFFA website now has the voting statistics and nomination totals available here.

It’s notable that in the Best Fan Writing and Publication category it was R. Graeme Cameron competing against himself, winning for Polar Borealis, while his Canadian SF&F book and magazine reviews in Amazing Stories (online) finished second.

(2) CONFUSION IS STILL WITH US. [Item by John Winkelman.] Con Chair Cylithria Dubois has posted an update about ConFusion 2022 and 2023. To sum up: Despite hardships and obstacles, COVID-related and otherwise, ConFusion 2022 ended in the black, financially, and there will be a ConFusion 2023, about which details will be announced soon. “2022 Rising ConFusion Final Report & Handoff to The Legend of ConFusion”.

Rising ConFusion 2022 took place January 21st – 23rd of 2022.  December & January were peak times for the  DELTA variant of the COVID-19 pandemic. As DELTA took hold, times looked very grim due to the pandemic, and on January 7th, 2022, I made a public plea to our community, alerting you of the dire financial straits ConFusion Convention faced due to lower attendance, higher costs, and lack of income from the postponed 2021 event. 

The day I made that plea, I was also packing to travel via car from my home in Kansas City, MO., to my Home in Bay City, MI. I posted that, went to bed, got up and drove the 14 hour journey. By the time I arrived in Michigan, I was gob-smacked at the community outpouring of support. Y’all have no idea how utterly stunned silent I truly was. (Lithie, Silent? Whoa)… 

In Quick Summary Form:

-The amount of income made by Rising ConFusion 2022 was $17,848.48. 
-The amount of Donation Income made from your generosity was $13,705.09. 
-Combined those total: $31,553.57! 
-Our total expenses (see note below) came to -$19,234.81.  
-The amount of money leftover was: +$12,318.76

In Short; Yes, you saved Rising ConFusion and there will be another ConFusion in 2023!…

(3) HEINLEIN BLOOD DRIVE. “The Heinlein Society Sponsors Chicago Blood Drive” for those wanting to donate blood while the Worldcon is happening. The Society says:

Worldcon chose not to sponsor a blood drive this year. For the convenience of those expecting to Pay It Forward by donating blood The Heinlein Society and Virgin Hotels, a block away from the Hyatt, will have a blood drive on Sunday. Schedule your appointment early as the drive is open to the public before Worldcon starts. More information will be available as well as a free book with a cool bookmark at The Heinlein Society Fan Table at Worldcon.

(4) WHERE IT BEGAN. Robert Charles Wilson told Facebook readers about a personal artifact he rediscovered.

I’ve spent the last few days putting my book collection in order, and yesterday I came across this, the first sf magazine I ever purchased: the March 1964 issue of F&SF, from a little shop in the town of Port Credit, Ontario.

J.G. Ballard, Kit Reed, Oscar Wilde, Avram Davidson’s haunting little story “Sacheverell”—pretty heady stuff for a precocious ten-year-old. But what had the greatest impact, looking backward from 2022, was Robert Bloch’s article “The Conventional Approach”—a pocket history of science fiction fandom. I was already nursing an ambition to write, specifically to write sf, and here was what looked like an invitation to a subculture of like-minded enthusiasts and maybe even a roadmap to a career.

A few more years would pass before I attended a convention or sold a piece of fiction to a professional market, but that little digest-magazine article had pretty profound consequences for me. What I eventually found by way of that subculture was, yes, a career, including a Hugo Award for my novel Spin, but also enduring friendships, two marriages and one long-term relationship, visits to Europe and Asia I would probably not otherwise have undertaken, and a more colourful and varied life than my 10-year-old self could have reasonably imagined.

All that, bought for 40 cents on a wintry Saturday in rural Ontario. Your money went further in those days, I guess.

(5) RUSHDIE UPDATE. “Salman Rushdie off ventilator and ‘road to recovery has begun,’ agent says” reports Reuters, quoting an email.

Salman Rushdie, the acclaimed author who was stabbed repeatedly at a public appearance in New York state on Friday, 33 years after Iran’s then-supreme leader called for him to be killed, is off a ventilator and his health is improving, his agent and a son said on Sunday.

“He’s off the ventilator, so the road to recovery has begun,” his agent, Andrew Wylie, wrote in an email to Reuters. “It will be long; the injuries are severe, but his condition is headed in the right direction.”…

Meanwhile, the Guardian reports that author J.K. Rowling, after tweeting sympathy for Rushdie. received a death threat: “Police investigate threat to JK Rowling over Salman Rushdie tweet”.

Police are investigating a threat against JK Rowling that was made after she posted her reaction on social media to the attack on Salman Rushdie.

Rowling tweeted on Friday: “Horrifying news. Feeling very sick right now. Let him be OK.”

Twitter user under the name Meer Asif Asiz replied: “Don’t worry you are next.”

Rowling shared screenshots of the threat and thanked everyone who had sent supportive messages. “Police are involved (were already involved on other threats),” she wrote.

(6) HE KNOWS HORROR WHEN HE SEES IT. In MSN.com’s extract of The Sunday Times interview, “Stephen King talks politics: ‘Trump was a horrible president and is a horrible person’”.

…King, who is himself active on Twitter, also spoke to the Sunday Times about the role social media has played amid the current political and cultural climate. 

“It’s a poison pill. I mean, I think it’s wonderful, for instance, that in the wake of George Floyd’s death, his murder by police, that you could muster via social media protests in cities across America and around the world,” he noted. “But on the other hand, it’s social media that has magnified the idea that the election was stolen from Donald Trump. And there’s millions of people who believe that, and there are millions of people who believe that the COVID vaccinations are terrible things. Some of the things are good, some are not so good, and some are downright evil.”…

(7) THE BOOKEND. Rich Horton’s last 50’s Hugo post is “Hugo Nomination Recommendations, 1960”. (I don’t have to explain why 1960 is the last year in this series about the 50’s, I’m sure.)

… This was the height of the Cold War, and the height of fears of Nuclear War, and that is emphasized by the popular success of out and out “End of the World due to Nuclear War” books like Level 7Alas, BabylonA Canticle for Leibowitz; and On The Beach, all published in this time frame. For that matter, Providence Island is about a lost race resisting the use of their island for nuclear tests, and The Manchurian Candidate is surely a Cold War novel to the max!…

(8) FAN MAIL. Connie Willis writes in praise of “Favorite Author – Mary Stewart” on Facebook.

I just finished re-reading AIRS ABOVE THE GROUND and was reminded all over again what a wonderful writer Mary Stewart was. Many science-fiction fans will be familiar with her because of her trilogy about Merlin and King Arthur–THE CRYSTAL CAVE, THE HOLLOW HILLS, and THE LAST ENCHANTMENT–but when those books came out, I was already a long time admirer who’d discovered her through, of all things, Hayley Mills.

I was a huge Hayley Mills fan in high school and college and saw all her movies. I also was an inveterate reader of movie credits (this was how I found new books to read–and still do) and thus discovered Eleanor Porter’s POLLYANNA, Jules Verne’s IN SEARCH OF THE CASTAWAYS–and Mary Stewart’s THE MOONSPINNERS. I promptly ran to the library to check out the book.

…I said her novels had been the foundation for the modern romantic mystery genre, but that’s not really true. Even though they’ve been compared to Daphne DuMaurier’s and Jane Austen’s books, nobody else before or since has been able to do the sort of thing she did. What is true is that she “built the bridge between classic literature and modern popular fiction. She did it first, and she did it best.” And if you’ve never read her, you’re in for a treat….

(9) SUMMER HELL IS HERE. This sounds fascinating. At Black Gate, Joe Bonadonna introduces an anthology: “In Hell, Everyone’s Pants are on Fire: A preview of Liars in Hell.

Seven Degrees of Lying

The opening story in Liars in Hell is by Janet and Chris Morris, and it’s called Seven Degrees of Lying. Under Lord Byron’s protection for a night, Percy Shelley is abducted and drowned. Honor bound, Byron sets out to find and rescue him, dragging Christopher Marlowe, Shakespeare, the Inklings, Satan, Lord Walsingham, and J, the mysterious Bible writer, into the first skirmish of the Liars War. Even Byron’s dog, Boatswain, gets in on the act.

…So come visit Hell and enjoy the company of our heroes and villains. There’s plenty of action, drama and gallows humor to go around. But bring your own pitchfork. It’s better to have it and not need it, than it is to need it and not have it. You never know when it might come in handy.

(10) MEMORY LANE.  

2009 [By Cat Eldridge.] I like pulp films and the Sherlock Holmes films that Robert Downey Jr. did, Sherlock Holmes and Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, certainly are pulp. Expensively produced ones as I will note in a bit. 

Both films were directed by Guy Ritchie and were produced by Joel Silver, Lionel Wigram, Susan Downey, and Dan Lin. Susan is the wife of Robert. They have their own production company, Team Downey. 

The story for the first one was by Lionel Wigram and Michael Robert Johnson. Eigram’s only other story was the The Man from U.N.C.L.E film, though he was the executive producer for the Potter films; Johnson genre wise only did three episodes of The Frankenstein Chronicles

The second film’s screenplay was written by Michele Mulroney and Kieran Mulroney, a married couple whose entire genre output otherwise is scripting together Next Generation’s “The Outrageous Okona” and Star Trek: Enterprise’s “Fortunate Son” episodes.

Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law portray Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson, respectively. I really think that they do a great job but, I suspect very deeply, like the video Poirots from yesterday, that is very much a matter of personal taste. I like their takes on the characters a lot. No, Downey is not the Holmes in the stories. 

They were expensive to produce, ninety million and the sequel added thirty-five onto its cost. The first was shot at in part at Freemasons’ Hall and St Paul’s Cathedral. The former was where the Suchet Poirot shot part of its Murder on the Orient Express. For the second film, principal photography moved for two days to Strasbourg, France. Shooting took place on, around, and inside Strasbourg Cathedral as that in stood for the German city where it was supposed to be set.

They made money, oh did they make money, roughly a half billon apiece. 

Roger Ebert I think in reviewing the first nails it perfectly and I’m going to quote only him from the multitude of critics. Here’s his entire first paragraph of his Sherlock Holmes review: “The less I thought about Sherlock Holmes, the more I liked ‘Sherlock Holmes.’ Yet another classic hero has been fed into the f/x mill, emerging as a modern superman. Guy Ritchie’s film is filled with sensational sights, over-the-top characters and a desperate struggle atop Tower Bridge, which is still under construction. It’s likely to be enjoyed by today’s action fans. But block bookings are not likely from the Baker Street Irregulars.”

Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give both films scores of seventy-seven percent which is a most excellent rating. 

They are available on HBO Max and Netflix.

There may or may not be a third film next year. The film company has announced such for Christmas but I hold little stock in that as the film hadn’t started production yet. 

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 14, 1910 Herta Herzog. At the Radio Project, she was part of the team of that conducted the groundbreaking research on Orson Welles’ 1938 broadcast of The War of the Worlds in the study The Invasion from Mars. The Radio Research Project was founded in 1937 as a social research project and funded by the Rockefeller Foundation to look into the effects of mass media on society. (Died 2010.)
  • Born August 14, 1932 Lee Hoffman. In the early Fifties, she edited and published the Quandry fanzine. At the same time, she began publication of Science-Fiction Five-Yearly which appeared regularly until ‘til 2006. It won a Hugo at Nippon 2007 which she shared with Geri Sullivan and Randy Byers. It was awarded after her death. She wrote four novels and a handful of short fiction, none of which are in the usual suspects. (Died 2007.)
  • Born August 14, 1940 Alexei Panshin, 82. He has written multiple critical works along with several novels, including the Nebula Award-winning Rite of Passage and the Hugo Award-winning study of SF, The World Beyond the Hill which he co-wrote with his wife, Cory Panshin. He also wrote the first serious study of Heinlein, Heinlein in Dimension: A Critical Analysis.
  • Born August 14, 1950 Gary Larson, 72. Setting aside a long and delightful career in creating the weird for us, ISFDB lists a SF link that deserve noting. In the March 1991 Warp as published by the Montreal Science Fiction and Fantasy Association, he had a cartoon “The crew of the Starship Enterprise encounters the floating head of Zsa Zsa Gabor”. 
  • Born August 14, 1951 Carl Lumbly, 71. I first encountered him voicing the Martian Manhunter on the Justice League series and he later played M’yrnn J’onzz, the father of the Martian Manhunter on the first Supergirl series.  His first major genre role was in The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension as John Parker, and he later had a number of voice roles in such films as Justice League: Doom and Justice League: Gods and Monsters. He of course was the lead in the short lived M.A.N.T.I.S. as Miles Hawkins. 
  • Born August 14, 1956 Joan Slonczewski, 66. Their novel A Door into Ocean won the John W. Campbell Memorial Award. They won a second John W. Campbell Memorial Award for their Highest Frontier novel. They were nominated for an Otherwise Award for The Children Star novel.
  • Born August 14, 1965 Brannon Braga, 57. Writer, producer and creator for the Next Gen, Voyager, Enterprise, as well as on the Star Trek Generations and Star Trek: First Contact films. He has written more episodes in the Trek franchise than anyone else with one hundred nine to date. He was responsible for the Next Gen series finale “All Good Things…” which won him a Best Dramatic Presentation Hugo (1995), along with Ronald D. Moore.
  • Born August 14, 1966 Halle Berry, 56. Her first role genre was not as I thought Miss Stone in The Flintstones but a minor role in a forgotten SF series called They Came from Outer Space. This was followed by being Storm in the X- Men franchise and Giacinta “Jinx” Johnson in Die Another Day, the twentieth Bond film. She then shows up as Catwoman. She has myriad roles in Cloud Atlas. And she is Molly Woods in Exant, a Paramount + series that originally ran on CBS. Both seasons are streaming there now.

(12) COMICS SECTION.

  • Popeye versus Cthulhu?
  • Thatababy shows what Alexa is up to after the owner leaves.
  • Tom Gauld covers all the options.

(13) THE REASON PEOPLE ARE TALKING ABOUT THIS BOOK. Politico’s Jenni Laidman interviews Kim Stanley Robinson: “Climate Catastrophe Is Coming. But It’s Not the End of the Story”.

…“This book has transformed my life,” Robinson said. “I’m doing nothing but talking about Ministry for the Future for the last year and a half, almost two years now. It’s also terrifying. It shows to me that people are feeling a desperate need for a story like this. They’re grabbing onto this book like a piece of driftwood, and they’re drowning at the open ocean.”…

Laidman: In your opening chapter, 20 million people die in an Indian heat wave and power failure, with several thousand of them poached to death in a lake as they try to escape the heat. Will it take this kind of climate horror to jolt the world into action?

Robinson: No. When I was at COP 26, Jordanian diplomat Zeid Ra’ad Hussein, who had read Ministry, was talking about the power of stories. He said, “You don’t need to be in a plane crash to know that it would be bad to be in a plane crash.” Every year since I wrote the book — I wrote it maybe three years ago — it’s as if attention to the climate change crisis has more than doubled. It’s almost exponential.

We’re not at the point of solutions, but at every COP meeting the sense that, “Oh my gosh, we are headed into a plane crash” is intensified. We’re not doing enough. We’re not paying the poor countries enough. Rich countries are breaking promises made at earlier COPs. Disillusionment with that process is getting so intense that I fear for the COP process itself. I’ve been comparing it to the League of Nations. The League of Nations was a great idea that failed. And then we got the 1930s and World War II. The 2015 Paris Agreement was an awesome thing, like something that I would write that people would call utopian. But it happened in the real world.

Now, with Russia and the brutal Ukraine war, things are so messed up that the COP process and the Paris Agreement could turn into the League of Nations. I’m frightened for that. It’s not a done deal.

(14) WHAT DO YOU THINK? Book Riot’s Caitlin Hobbs calls these the “20 of the Best Science Fiction Books of All Time”.

Before we get started, let me define “best” for you real fast. In this context, best does not secretly mean my favorite science fiction that I’m calling best because I’m the one writing the article. The best science fiction books of all time — at least the ones on this list — are the ones that remain highly rated, are incredibly popular, or have made some sort of mark on the science fiction genre or its various sub-genres, even mainstream culture as a whole. There are also only 20 books on this list, meaning it is not conclusive, as I am one person. I will inevitably miss a book that you think belongs on this list. So many science fiction falls into the definition of “best” that I’m using.

Because that’s what science fiction is meant to do: push the envelope, show what things could be if we continue down the path we’re on, and make you question what’s possible…. 

(15) KHAW SHORT FICTION. Sunday Morning Transport has a story and an offer.

(16) BREAKFAST IN A GALAXY A LONG TIME AGO. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Who thought this was a good idea?  The Mandalorian NEVER waffles! “The Mandalorian Galactic Homestyle Frozen Waffles”. (However, Martin confesses he bought these today.)

Start your adventure with a delicious breakfast including Eggo® The Mandalorian Galactic Homestyle Waffles. It’s our classic Eggo® taste featuring the Mandalorian & Grogu™ from the hit Star Wars™ series. Collect all Mandalorian cards, only available across three different hero pack designs while supplies last. It’s the quick and delicious breakfast that families across the whole galaxy love.

(17) DON’T TOUCH THAT DIAL. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Inverse writer Jon O’Brien takes a, let’s say nostalgic, look at Stay Tuned—a 30 year old movie the columnist believes deserved a better reception than it got. Starring John Ritter (Three’s Company) and Pam Dawber (Mork and Mindy), the movie’s plot includes strong flavors of the metafictional tropes so utterly infused in the recent & much better received WandaVision. “30 years ago, a sci-fi flop beat Marvel to its smartest story idea”.

…In 1992, Stay Tuned was accused of failing to say anything substantial in its send-up of America’s TV addiction. But decades on, the film serves as a forewarning of the dark route TV went down. The prank show genre, for example, has gone to such extremes as staging fake ISIS abductions and simulating plane crashes. The macabre spoof “Autopsies of the Rich and Famous” pretty much become a depressing reality.

Alongside ads for warped products such as The Silencer of the Lambs (muzzles for annoying youngsters) and Yogi Beer (alcohol for kids), and an end-credits sequence that zips through teasers for “Beverly Hills, 90666,” “The Golden Ghouls,” and “I Love Lucifer,” these brief side gags only appear via the Knables’ new-fangled TV set. But most of Stay Tuned’s lampoons play out in full screen, with Roy and Helen front and center after the new satellite dish zaps the bickering pair into Hellavision….

(18) A LUCRATIVE REJECTION. Neil Gaiman reveals he first pitched Sandman to George R.R. Martin for a Wild Cards series and Martin turned him down in this video with Gaiman and Martin that dropped last week: “Why Neil Gaiman Has George R.R. Martin to Thank for The Sandman”.

(19) BILL NYE IS BOOKING. SYFY Wire shares an “Exclusive clip for ‘The End is Nye’ on Peacock”.

SYFY WIRE has an exclusive first look at the all-new clip for the six-episode event series set to debut at Peacock on Aug. 25, and it’s safe to say that Bill’s not backing down from some of the biggest CGI-realized effects ever to bring a science documentary to life. How big are we talking? Like, positively supervolcanic — as in Yellowstone Caldera exploding, mushroom cloud-forming, town-engulfing big.

Bill and his trademark neckwear are in serious jeopardy in the new clip, which finds him flooring it out of a Rocky Mountain hamlet in a frighteningly futile attempt to outrace a superheated, 500 mph pyroclastic flow. Can Bill and his little electric car make it? Well…stick around to the end: It’s definitely Bill Nye like you’ve never seen him.

The blurb for the YouTube trailer says this is what the series is about:

Synopsis: The End is Nye sends Bill Nye into the most epic global disasters imaginable – both natural and unnatural – and then demystifies them using science to show how we can survive, mitigate, and even prevent them. Each stand-alone episode takes a hell-bent dive into the mystery and terror of one specific threat. Every catastrophe is abundant with thrills, but also offers hope and a way forward —a scientific blueprint for surviving anything that comes our way. The series is hosted and executive produced by Emmy Award winner and renowned science educator, engineer, author, and inventor Bill Nye. Each episode also features a brief cameo by longtime science advocate and series EP Seth MacFarlane.

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Rich Horton, Daniel Dern, Clifford Samuels, John Winkelman, Dennis Howard, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Chris Barkley, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day JeffWarner returns, because he isn’t donne yet.]

Pixel Scroll 8/2/22 I Took My Files Down To Jaxom’s Ruth (You Know That Dragon With The Pixeled Tooth)

(1) WITNESS FOR THE PLAINTIFF. Stephen King took the stand today and AP News was there: “Stephen King testifies for government in books merger trial”.

…King’s displeasure about the proposed merger led him to voluntarily testify for the government.

“I came because I think that consolidation is bad for competition,” King said. The way the industry has evolved, he said, “it becomes tougher and tougher for writers to find money to live on.”

King expressed skepticism toward the two publishers’ commitment to continue to bid for books separately and competitively after a merger.

“You might as well say you’re going to have a husband and wife bidding against each other for the same house,” he quipped. “It would be sort of very gentlemanly and sort of, ‘After you’ and ‘After you,’” he said, gesturing with a polite sweep of the arm.

King’s was entertaining and informative, although he had little specific to say over how the merger might harm bestselling authors, with the government’s case focusing on those receiving advances of $250,000 or more. Attorney Daniel Petrocelli, representing the publishers, told King he had no questions for him and demurred on a cross-examination, saying instead he hoped they could have coffee together some time….

(2) BAIL OUT. Costume Con 40 chair Sarah Richardson is trying to raise $80,000 to pay a large penalty owed to their facility because of the shortfall in meeting their room rental commitment: “Covid-19 Relief for Costume-Con 40”. (On the other hand, some are advising the concom to work with an attorney who specializes bankruptcy.)

…Because of the sudden cancellation of Costume-Con 38 and the rescheduling of Costume-Con 39, we lost any potential advertising and seed money that might have been generated by those events. So far, we have been able to cover all our expenses except one, the venue cost.

Many of our attendees, especially our international members, were unable to attend due to Covid travel restrictions were levied right before the convention. Because of this, over a fourth of our registered members (100+ people) were not able to attend. This led to our not meeting the room night obligations in our contract, and so we must pay a hefty “attrition” penalty. We have been negotiating since April with the hotel to resolve this outstanding balance and continue to do so.

This is where we need your help. As a small, volunteer-run non-profit, we are turning to our community and putting out a request for monetary donations to help defray this debt. Any amount will be a help to us. And we intend, should we exceed our goal of retiring this particular debt, to “pay it forward” to next year’s Costume-Con and thus further ease the financial strain caused by the pandemic. Remember, we are a 501(c)3 non-profit and would be happy to issue a receipt for tax purposes.

(3) THAT’S CLAWFUL. Cora Buhlert sent He-Man and friends on a beach holiday and posted another action figure photo story on her blog: “Masters-of-the-Universe-Piece Theatre: ‘Holiday on Orkas Island’”.

In the 1980s Filmation cartoon, Clawful looks quite different from his toy counterpart, probably because the cartoon was based on an early prototype. He also seems to be one of a kind. However, the 2002 He-Man cartoon reveals that there is a whole species of lobster people out there and that they hail from a place called Orkas Island, which also happens to be the retirement home of an aged warrior called Dekker, Duncan’s former mentor and predecessor at Man-at-Arms.

So I decided to send Prince Adam, Teela and Man-at-Arms on a well-deserved holiday and have Clawful and his fellow aquatic Evil Warrior Mer-Man cause some trouble. I also got out a bunch of maritime themed objects to serve as props….

(4) HE FIGURES IT OUT. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] Here is a video by a toy collector and YouTuber named Pixel Dan who wound up as a panelist on the He-Man 40th anniversary panel at San Diego Comic Con (he wrote a collector’s guide to Masters of the Universe toys). He offers a rare look at what the infamous Hall H looks like backstage and on stage. His enthusiasm is certainly infectious. Plus, bonus interview with Kevin Smith who moderated the panel.

(5) PEOPLE WHO NEED PEOPLE. Kim Bannerman wrote a nice profile of Zenna Henderson at Luna Station Quarterly“The Improbable Worlds of Zenna Henderson”.

…Henderson’s experiences as a teacher would influence her writing throughout her career. In her 1952 short story “Ararat”, aliens marooned on Earth are searching for a new teacher to guide their children; all the other teachers have been scared away by the children’s telekinetic powers. This story was the first in a series that featured ‘The People’, a community of gentle humanoids trying to survive on Earth.

The People are isolated, lonely individuals seeking safety and community, and they must suppress their inherent gifts in order to be accepted by human society. Instead of focusing on conquest and war, Henderson’s stories examine the quiet, personal lives of The People…. 

(6) CARS. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] We had a small science fiction fayre down our way here in Brit Cit. Stalls with SF miniatures, playing card collectables abounded. Sadly, no second-hand book stall (which, on second thoughts, did save a couple of hours of my time). Nor did there seem to be a tie-in with our local film memorabilia and gaming shop, The Movie Shack: even though it was just twenty yards away inside our indoors shopping precinct. However, in the mix was a Ghostbusters marshmallow man and car, and there was also a Back to the Future DeLorean: it was one way to beat the Worldcon queues — the last time a Back to the Future DeLorean was on Worldcon show…

(7) THE BIRD IS THE WORD. Sarah Z delivers “An Exhaustive Defense of Fanfiction” in a new YouTube video.

On art, transformativity, and the literary wonders of putting your middle finger up at preps.

(8) NEW FROM LEONARD MALTIN. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] I listened to the podcast Leonard and Jessie Maltin did with Michael Uslan.  Although Leonard Maltin and Uslan never met, they quickly determined they were the same age, were both guys from Jersey (Uslan’s from exit 105) who developed obsessions very early (Maltin with animation, Uslan with comics) and both were probably two rows away from each other at a notorious  1966 screening of the 1943 Batman serial at Manhattan’s Eighth Street Playhouse where the audience got rowdier and rowdier as the film got stinkier and stinkier.

Uslan grew up with comic books and read everything.  But the event that changed him was in 1972 when he successfully proposed what became the first university course on comic book at Indiana University.  This led to his getting calls from Stan Lee and Sol Harrison at DC.  He first did scripts (He proudly remembers Julius Schwartz telling him. “Your story doesn’t stink:” when he did a story for The Shadow).  In 1979 he acquired the movie rights to Batman and spent ten years in development until Tim Burton’s film came out.  He has been an executive producer on every Batman project since, including Lego Batman.  He also got DC to give him the movie rights to Swamp Thing for free if he agreed to spend $15,000 on the character, which led to two Swamp Thing movies in the 1980s.

Uslan says he likes the takes Michael Keaton, Christian Bale, and Robert Pattinson have done with the character and people shouldn’t complain about a film until they’ve seen it.  Leonard Maltin quoted Harlan Ellison, “You have the right to your informed opinion.”  He has two volumes of memoirs about his life with Batman and a Broadway play in development.  In addition, Uslan is an executor of Stan Lee’s estate and is working on Lee’s forthcoming centennial celebration. Maltin on Movies: Michael Uslan.

(9) MEMORY LANE.  

1986 [By Cat Eldridge.] Since we just discussed the Grateful Dead by way of the Jerry Garcia birthday write-up, let’s talk about a novel, that according to the author in an email received just now was indeed named after a Dead song. (Yes, he is one of the writers that gets dark chocolate.) 

There are certain novels that I return to from time to time and Steve Brust’s Brokedown Palace is one of them. It’s the only stand-alone novel set in Dragaera series, which runs currently to over twenty five novels. (I’ve read quite a few of them.) It leads off the series. It is also notable for being set in Fenario, the human-populated portion of that world.

The novel is heavily influenced by Hungarian myth and culture, not surprising giving that Brust is of Hungarian descent.  Brust uses that tradition’s folklore to great effect while combining it with family dynamics  King László, the oldest of the brothers, is a fair and just ruler along the Princies of the Lands. All live in Brokedown Palace.

Once upon a time, there were four brothers who lived in the land of Fenario. These were the King and Princes of the land, and they lived together in the decrepit Old Palace in the center of the city of Fenario. Ahhh but things are not as they seem as things well become very complicated… I won’t say more than that as it’d spoil things if you’ve not read it yet. 

This is a more complex novel than Brust usually writes and the characters here actually have more agency, more feel of being actual individuals  than that they usually get in his novels. That’s a reflection of it being a family-based novel so it feels more intimate than usual.

The wonderful cover art on the first edition is by Alan Lee. Since the art on the actual first edition is obscured by title text and other typography, we’re using the version on a later edition to display it. (ISFDB has the real first edition cover here.)

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 2, 1917 Wah Chang. Co-founder in the late 1950s, with Gene Warren and Tim Baar, of Project Unlimited Inc, the first true special effects company. They provided the effects for numerous George Pal productions, including The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm, Jack the Giant Killer, and The Time Machine (for which they won an Academy Award, although Chang’s name was erroneously omitted). Wang and his fellow Projects coworkers did essentially all of the effects for the original Outer Limits television series. Perhaps most famously, Chang created some of the best-known effects for the original Star Trek, including the communicator, the tricorder, the Romulan Bird of Prey, the Tribbles, and numerous aliens, although he did not receive screen credit for any of this work. A talented artist, later in life he gained reknown as a wildlife sculptor. (Died 2003.) (PhilRM)
  • Born August 2, 1920 Theodore Marcuse. He was Korob in “Catspaw”, a second season Trek episode written by Robert Bloch that aired just before Halloween aptly enough. He had appearances in The Twilight Zone (“The Trade-Ins” and “To Serve Man”), Time TunnelVoyage to the Bottom of the SeaWild Wild West and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. in the episodes “The Re-collectors Affair”, “The Minus-X Affair”, and “The Pieces of Fate Affair”. (Died 1967.)
  • Born August 2, 1932 Peter O’Toole. I’m tempted to say his first genre role was playing King Henry in A Lion in Winter as it is alternate history. It really is despite some of you saying it isn’t. Neat film. Well the original is, the second, not so much. Stewart just doesn’t work in that role for me. Actually before that he’s got an uncredited role in Casino Royale as a Scottish piper. Really he does. His first genre role without dispute is as Zaltar in Supergirl followed by being Dr. Harry Wolverine in Creator. He’s Peter Plunkett in the superb High Spirits, he’s in FairyTale: A True Story as a very credible Arthur Conan Doyle, and Stardust as King of Stormhold. Not surprisingly, he played in a version of Midsummer Night’s Dream as Lysander. (Died 2013.)
  • Born August 2, 1948 Robert Holdstock. Another one who died far too young. His Ryhope Wood series is simply amazing with Lavondyss being my favorite volume. And let’s not overlook his Merlin Codex series which is one of the more original takes on that character I’ve read. The Ragthorn, co-written with Garry Kilworth, is interesting as well. Tor, which has the rights to him in the States, has been slow to bring him to the usual suspects. (Died 2009.)
  • Born August 2, 1954 Ken MacLeod, 68. Sometimes I don’t realize until I do a Birthday note just how much I’ve read of a certain author. And so it was of this author. I’ve read the entire Fall Revolution series, not quite all of the Engines of Light Trilogy, just the first two of the Corporation Wars but I’ve got it in my to-be-finished queue, and every one of his one-off novels save Descent. His Restoration Game is quite chilling.  I should go find his Giant Lizards from Another Star collection as I’ve not read his short fiction. Damn it’s not available from the usual suspects! Hugo Award wise, he didn’t win any but had some nominations. The Sky Road was nominated at the Millennium Philcon, Cosmonaut Keep at ConJosé and Learning the World at L.A. Con IV. 
  • Born August 2, 1956 Leslie Ackerman, 66. She is best remembered for her role as the waitress in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine 1996 episode “Trials and Tribble-ations”. She also showed on the rebooted Twilight Zone as Time-Traveller in the “Lost and Found”.  She was on The Incredible Hulk and Project UFO.  She retired from acting several years after filming “Trials and Tribble-ations”.
  • Born August 2, 1970 Kevin Smith, 52. Well-loved comics writer who’s worked for DC, Marvel and other venues. He was involved with both Daredevil and Green Arrow. He directed the pilot for the CW supernatural comedy series Reaper, produced and appeared in a reality television series, Comic Book Men, and appeared as a character in the animated Superman: Doomsday.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • In The Far Side, an archeologist has dug up someone familiar, He’s not Yorick, but you knew him well.  

(12) GREEN TOWN. Wauke-Con 2022, Waukegan’s second annual comic book convention in Ray Bradbury’s home town, will take place October 8-9. The proceeds benefit Three Bros. Theatre.

(13) TURN OFF THE BATLIGHT. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Warner Discovery won’t release Batgirl and has blown off the $70 million spent on it because the new regime doesn’t think the film works. “’Batgirl’ movie gets ‘shelved’ by Warner Bros: source” reports the New York Post.

Holy millions down the drain, Batman! 

The DC Comics film “Batgirl” will be completely “shelved” by Warner Bros., a top Hollywood source told The Post. 

That means it won’t hit theaters or the streaming service HBO Max. Fans will not see it.

The reportedly $70 million movie (the source said the budget was actually more than $100 million), which was doing test screenings for audiences in anticipation of a late 2022 debut, would rank among the most expensive cinematic castoffs ever.  

Those tests were said to be so poorly received by moviegoers that the studio decided to cut its losses and run, for the sake of the brand’s future. It’s a DC disaster….

(14) THE DOOR INTO BUMMER. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] I found this USA Today headline funny for all the wrong reasons: “Fact check: Scientists at CERN are not opening a ‘portal to hell’”.

… The accelerator, the Large Hadron Collider, had undergone repairs and upgrades, and scientists plan to use it to crash protons together and learn more about the origins of the universe.

Nevertheless, social media users are suggesting that the machine has a different purpose. A Facebook post shared July 5 shows a TikTok video of a woman who claims that CERN scientists are using the machine to open a doorway for demons.

“If y’all don’t know about cern it’s a demonic/Evil machine that opens up portals to other dimensions/Hell/other spiritual worlds(not Heaven/or bosom of Abraham)and it brings in demons wicked spirits/High Evil Principalities,” reads the caption of the post….

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Game Trailers: Stray,” Fandom Games, in a spoiler-filled episode, says that Stray is “A playable Internet cat video, wrapped around a cyberpunk dystopia” but the least realistic thing about it is that the cat follows a robot’s instructions, because a real cat would “ignore you for four hours and then throw up on your carpet.”

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

Pixel Scroll 8/1/22 The Scrolls Finally Busted Madame Marie For Filing Pixels Better Than They Did

(1) CHICON 8 SITE SELECTION OPENS 8/6. Site Selection Administrator Warren Buff wrote to members today that voting for the location of both the 2024 Worldcon and the 2023 NASFiC will open August 6.

Also that day there will be a Q&A session with the bidders over Zoom (Saturday, August 6, at 12:00 p.m. Central).  The public is welcome to view the Zoom event, however, the committee asks that they request the link by emailing [email protected].

Electronic/online voting will be a new option, alongside paper voting, this year. Chicon 8 has selected ElectionBuddy for this service. An explanation will be given during the Q&A session on the 6th. Members will also be provided documentation online.

(2) FUTURE TENSE. Here is the July 2022 entry in the Center for Science and the Imagination’s  Future Tense Fiction series, published this past Saturday: “All That Burns Unseen,” by Premee Mohamed, a story about the future of fighting wildfires.

The plane had no pilot. Vaughn, who had wandered into the cockpit to find someone to talk to, found herself more startled than shocked by this—after all, her boss had said about half the flights going up to the fires were self-flown—but there had certainly been a pilot when she’d boarded. He must have disembarked in Cold Lake, where they had stopped so briefly that Vaughn hadn’t even bothered unfastening her seat belt. Either way, the Hercules was now, undeniably, flying itself…. 

It was published along with a response essay by Meg Duff, an expert in environmental politics and climate law. “Firefighting chemicals are dangerous for the environment. Can that change?”

(3) WELLER OUT. Columbia College Chicago professor Sam Weller has been terminated following an investigation of accusations of sexual assault reports The Columbia Chronicle. He is a four-time Bram Stoker Award nominee for his work as a Bradbury biographer.

Tenured professor Sam Weller, who was accused of sexual assault by a former faculty member in February, has been terminated by the college.

In an email statement, President and CEO Kwang-Wu Kim announced that Weller, who was an associate professor in the English and Creative Writing Department, was issued a Notice of Dismissal earlier today as a result of the investigation conducted by the law firm Mayer Brown LLP.

“Based on Mayer Brown’s findings that Professor Weller engaged in conduct that violated the college’s sexual harassment and other policies, Provost Marcella David concluded that the conduct warranted termination,” the statement read.

Cara Dehnert, a former associate professor of instruction in the Business and Entrepreneurship Department, accused Weller of sexually assaulting her in her office in 2018 in an article published to Medium Feb. 12.

Dehnert said she spoke with Human Resources in a February 2020 meeting where she told then-Associate Vice President of Human Relations Norma De Jesus “everything,” and provided texts, emails and Facebook messages between her and Weller, but never heard from Human Resources again following the meeting. 

De Jesus resigned from her position at the college two weeks ago on June 24…. 

(4) A REACH THAT EXCEEDS. “’I can’t do superheroes, but I can do gods’: Neil Gaiman on comics, diversity and casting Death” – the Guardian profiles the Sandman creator. Here’s what he thought when he started out:

…“Bear in mind, at this point I’ve written and sold maybe four short stories and [comic miniseries] Black Orchid. And now I’m going to have to do a monthly comic,” he says. “And I have no idea whether or not I can do it. I don’t think I have the engine to write a superhero comic. I’ve watched what Alan Moore does, what Grant Morrison does. These guys have superhero engines, they can do them; I don’t have that.”

Gaiman needed another way in, and it came via a US science-fiction author. “Roger Zelazny did a book called Lord of Light, where he did science-fictional gods who feel like superheroes,” says Gaiman. “It’s set in a world in the future where a bunch of space explorers have given themselves the powers of the Hindu pantheon. I thought: I can’t do superheroes, but I could do god comics. I bet I could get that kind of feeling to happen, and it might feel enough like a superhero comic to fool people.”…

(5) TESTING THE TURING TEST. Mohanraj and Rosenbaum Are Humans podcast episode 39 is about “Ted Chiang and the Metrics of Personhood”.

Surprise! It’s a bonus season 1 episode we’ve been keeping on the back burner! Ted Chiang comes onto the show to have a discussion with Ben about what it means to be a person, whether Alan Turing’s test for artificial intelligence still holds up, and the persistent themes of parenting and religion in Chiang’s work.

Content warning for a potentially ableist use of a congenital disease as an example of the theological problem of innocent suffering.

(6) TRIAL BEGINS. “Penguin Random House-S&S Acquisition Case Goes to Court” – an update from Publishing Perspectives.

It was on November 25, 2020, when it was announced that Penguin Random House‘s parent company Bertelsmann had struck a deal to buy Simon & Schuster for US$2.175 billion.  And it was nine years and a month ago—July 1, 2013—when another merger was completed, the one that brought Penguin and Random House together.

Oral arguments are scheduled to begin today (August 1) in the antitrust suit filed by the United States Department of Justice, a case with which the government proposes to block the merger of PRH and S&S.

The case, being heard by Judge Florence Pan at Washington’s US District Court for the District of Columbia (the Prettyman Courthouse), brings home the fact that those who object to consolidation among the book business’ biggest players aren’t wrong that things actually are moving quite quickly. These two major inflection points are occurring in under a decade.

That’s one reason that this American antitrust trial has a lot of interest for our international readership, of course. The case in Washington is focused on Penguin Random House as the States’ biggest publisher and Simon & Schuster as one of PRH’s sisters in the US “Big Five”—which could become the “Big Four,” if Bertelsmann and Penguin Random House are successful the bid to buy S&S. These industry-leading companies, however, have profound presence in many markets of world publishing, and so, in fact, does an issue on which the government’s case turns very heavily: author compensation.

Author Stephen King is expected to testify at Tuesday’s session: “Stephen King is star witness as government tries to block publishing giants’ merger” reports the Portland Press Herald.

… The government’s star witness, bestselling author Stephen King, is expected to testify at Tuesday’s session of the weekslong trial in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. King’s works are published by Simon & Schuster.

At Monday’s opening session, opposing attorneys for the two sides presented their cases before U.S. District Judge Florence Pan.

Justice Department attorneys called the merger “presumptively wrong” because it would shrink competition and, inevitably, the vital public discourse that books help engender. Penguin Random House countered that the new company would “enhance” competition because the combined company could turn out books more efficiently….

(7) LABORING IN THE VINEYARD. Sharon Lee’s post “In which the authors are working” includes some Trader’s Leap spoilers, should you be in the market for some.

Much like being a Liaden Scout, being a writer is 98% mucking around in the mud, and 2% excitement.

And, after a brief period of excitement, we’re back to Business as Usual, which is exciting enough for those doing the work, but makes for poor telling….

(8) SOMEBODY OWES HIM MONEY. Cory Doctorow explains why he won’t let his books appear on Audible in “Pluralistic: 25 Jul 2022”. The long saga includes this bit of comic relief:

…We’re going to be rolling out a crowdfunding campaign for the Chokepoint Capitalism audiobook in a couple of weeks (the book comes out in mid-September). …And it won’t be available on Audible. Who owe me $3,218.55.

But you know what will be available on Audible?

This. This essay, which I am about to record as an audiobook, to be mastered by my brilliant sound engineer John Taylor Williams, and will thereafter upload to ACX as a self-published, free audiobook.

Perhaps you aren’t reading these words off your screen. Perhaps you are an Audible customer who searched for my books and only found this odd, short audiobook entitled: “Why none of my books are available on Audible: And why Amazon owes me $3,218.55.”

I send you greetings, fellow audiobook listener!

…In the meantime, there is now a Kindle edition of this text:

I had to put this up, it’s a prerequisite for posting the audio to ACX. I hadn’t planned on posting it, but since they made me, I did.

Bizarrely, this is currently the number one new Amazon book on Antitrust Law!

(9) MEMORY LANE.  

1977 [By Cat Eldridge.] Now I’m feeling old as I clearly remember watching this episode, the next-to-last one of the series. Holmes & Yoyo’s “The Cat Burglar“ aired forty-five years ago on this date on ABC. Someone is stealing well loved felines for ransom from wealthy ladies, and Holmes and Yoyo set out to catch the cat stealer. 

Look no one is ever going to accuse Holmes & Yoyo, which lasted a mere thirteen episodes, of being deep or meaningful because it wasn’t. Was it good SF? Not really? Was it a decent detective series? Oh no, but despite that, it was fun to watch. 

And this story was proof of that in, errrr, the number of cats under foot. It’s lightweight and no one but one gets hurt, it’s got John Schuck at his very, very comic best and it’s got cats in it. None of which get hurt. 

I don’t think that series could’ve gone any further than it did as there just wasn’t anything there to build off, was there? To say to the premise was thin would be an understatement. 

I hold that John Schuck is best in his comic roles and that includes his role as Draal on Babylon 5 which had a measure of comedy the way he presented himself. Herman Munster on The Munsters Today may have been his best role ever, and the Lt. Charles Enright character on the McMillan & Wife series (which yes, I watched and liked a lot) had more than a bit of comic relief in it. And I adore his take on M.A.S.H. as Capt. ‘Painless’ Waldowski. I’ve watched that film at least a half dozen times now. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 1, 1862 M.R. James. Writer of some of the best ghost stories ever done. A Pleasing Terror: The Complete Supernatural Writings, released in 2001 from Ash-Tree Press has forty stories which includes the thirty stories from Collected Ghost Stories plus the 3 tales published after that, and the seven from The Fenstanton Witch and Others. It’s apparently the most complete collection of his stories to date. Or so I though until I checked online. The Complete Ghost Stories of M.R. James, over seven hundred pages, is available from the usual suspects for a mere buck ninety-nine! (Died 1939.)
  • Born August 1, 1910 Raymond A. Palmer. Editor of Amazing Stories from 1938 through 1949. He’s credited, along with Walter Dennis, with editing the first fanzine, The Comet, in May 1930. The secret identity of DC character the Atom as created by genre writer Gardner Fox is named after Palmer. Very little of his fiction is available from the usual suspects. Member, First Fandom Hall of Fame. He was nominated five times for a Retro Hugo for Best Editor, Short Form, and once as Best Professional Editor, Short Form. (Died 1977.)
  • Born August 1, 1914 Edd Cartier. Illustrator who received the World Fantasy Award for lifetime achievement, the first artist to receive that honor. His artwork was first published in Street and Smith publications, including The Shadow, to which he provided many interior illustrations, and Astounding Science Fiction, Doc Savage Magazine and Unknown as well. (Died 2008.)
  • Born August 1, 1930 Geoffrey Holder. You’ll likely best remember him for his performance as Baron Samedi in Live and Let Die but he’s also the narrator in Tim Burton’s rather awful Charlie and The Chocolate Factory. He was also Willie Shakespeare in Doctor Doolittle but it’s been so long since I saw the film that I can’t picture his character. And he was The Cheshire Cat in the Alice in Wonderland that had Richard Burton as The White Knight. Weird film that. (Died 2014.)
  • Born August 1, 1932 Paddy Chayefsky. In our circles known as the writer of the Altered States novel that he also wrote the screenplay for. He is the only person to have won three solo Academy Awards for Best Screenplay. The other winners of three Awards shared theirs. He did not win for Altered States though he did win for Network which I adore. (Died 1981.)
  • Born August 1, 1941 Craig Littler, 70. His main genre role was as space adventurer Jason in Jason of Star Command which of course James Doohan was in as well. If you look closely, you’ll spot him briefly in Blazing Saddles as Tex and Rosemary’s Baby as Jimmy as well. And he has one-offs in The Next BeyondAirWolf and Team Knight Rider. Team Knight Rider? Really, they didn’t know when to stop?
  • Born August 1, 1942 Jerry Garcia. Lead vocalist of the Grateful Dead. The Dead did some songs that were SF as SFE notes. The song “The Music Never Stopped” (on Blues for Allah, 1975) borrows its title from a sentence in Alfred Bester’s The Stars My Destination (1956) and was possibly inspired by that novel.  And SFE notes that the band was hired to compose and perform some appropriately outré music for the first revival of the Twilight Zone television series.  There’s lots more connections to SF but I’ll stop by saying that Garcia played the banjo heard in the first remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. (Died 1995.)
  • Born August 1, 1948 David Gemmell. Best remembered for his first novel, Legend, the first book in his long-running Drenai series. He would go on to write some thirty novels. The David Gemmell Awards for Fantasy were presented from 2009 to 2018, with a stated goal to “restore fantasy to its proper place in the literary pantheon”. (Died 2006.)
  • Born August 1, 1955 Annabel Jankel, 67. Director who was first a music video director and then the co-creator and director of Max Headroom. She conceptualized Max. She and her partner Rocky Morton first created and directed The Max Talking Headroom Show, a mix of interviews and music vids which aired on Channel 4 (where it was sponsored by Coca-Cola) and HBO. Jankel and Morton would go on to direct Super Mario Bros. And they’re both responsible for the Max Headroom movie and series. I haven’t heard if she has a role in the forthcoming rebooted Max Headroom series.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) DEJA VIEW. That NPR is a radio network doesn’t keep them from reaching for this optical analogy: “Seeing double: Near-identical films that came out at the same time”. Surely you’ve noticed yourself that this happens. And many of the movies are genre.

They are showdowns that didn’t need to happen — rival studios staring each other down, refusing to blink.

In 1998, Earth-snuffing asteroids got blown up in the nick of time by nuclear warheads, not once but twice, in Armageddon and Deep Impact. That same year, animated insects skittered onto movie screens in Antz and A Bug’s Life — and just a year earlier, dueling lava flows erupted in Dante’s Peak and Volcano.

And in 2013, Jesse Eisenberg starred in The Double, and Jake Gyllenhaal in Enemy, each as a man tormented by his doppelganger (and wouldn’t you know that Enemy was based on a novel called…wait for it… The Double.)…

(13) ACT NOTABLE AWARDS. [Item by Dann.] A.C.T. (Australia Capitol Territory) Writers presented their awards for 2020 and 2021 over the weekend.  Covid caused them to not have an awards ceremony for 2020.

T.R. Napper’s collection of science fiction stories called Neon Leviathan won in for fiction in 2020 under the Small Press category. The collection was published by GrimDark Magazine.

(14) MORE MUNROE DOCTRINES. Randall Munroe has a new book coming out in September. “Randall Munroe – Sixth & I. At the link you have the option to buy in-person or virtual tickets to see Munroe in conversation with Derek Thompson on September 14 at 7:00 p.m. Eastern.

Planning to ride a fire pole from the moon back to Earth? The hardest part is sticking the landing. Hoping to cool the atmosphere by opening everyone’s freezer door at the same time? Maybe it’s time for a brief introduction to thermodynamics. For the answers to the rest of the weirdest questions you never thought to ask, “xkcd” creator and former NASA roboticist Randall Munroe is back with What If? 2: Additional Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions.

(15) IN THE BEGINNING. Bill jumped in his TARDIS and returned with a clipping of this early advertisement for Nichelle Nichols when she was a nightclub singer. From the Honolulu Advertiser, Aug 4, 1960.

(16) SUPER CLEAN. WLKY captures the scene as “’Superhero’ window washers scale Norton Children’s Hospital again”.

It’s a bird. It’s a plane. No, it’s superheroes outside of patient windows at Norton Children’s Hospital again!

That’s exactly what kids and their families at Norton Children’s Hospital in downtown Louisville got on Monday morning as window washers traded in their cleaning uniforms for capes and masks.

The goal is to give sick children a surprise several stories high as a crew from Pro Clean International dress as superheroes to wash the exterior windows of the hospital.

CEO of Pro-Clean International, and ‘Iron Man’, Joe Haist says, he got the idea from personal experience. “I have a special needs child that was born blind with special needs” said Haist, “I know that sometimes you go to the hospital, you’re there for a long time and there’s not a lot to see or do and there’s not a lot of happiness. So it’s really a great moment to really kind of bring people with some happiness.”

They have done this at least the past few years.

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] This video from Alasdair Beckett-King dropped today. “Every Internet Video From 2003 (not literally)”.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Chris Barkley, Bill, Warren Buff, Dann, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jeff Smith.]

Pixel Scroll 4/8/22 No One But A Blockhead Ever Scrolled Except For Pixels

(1) CANON SALUTE. “Spock Gets New Canon Full Name In Star Trek Strange New Worlds” reports Gizmodo. And that name is S’Chn T’Gai Spock.

…[This] is not an unfamiliar name to fans of classic Star Trek novels. Barbara Hambly’s Pocket Book novel Ishmael, first released in 1985, gave S’Chn T’Gai as Spock’s name. It was established that, in a similar manner to how the Bajorans naming conventions work—where, for example, Deep Space Nine’s Major Kira Nerys’ given name is Nerys, not Kira—Vulcan names are inverted, and S’Chn T’Gai is actually Spock’s family name. Spock had previously alluded to having a first name in the Star Trek season 1 episode “This Side of Paradise,” where he described it as “unpronounceable.” Not any more, apparently!…

A watermarked version of the forthcoming poster with Spock’s full name can be seen here at TrekCore.com.

Naturally, Barbara Hambly is ecstatic. As she told Facebook followers: “Now, classic Star Trek fiction is having its legacy live on in TV once more with the canonization of S’Chn T’Gai. And that makes me Mr. Spock’s godmother! This delights me as much as winning a Hugo or a Nebula. Maybe more.”

(2) A CRUEL CAREER. “’Unlivable and Untenable.’ Molly McGhee on the Punishing Life of Junior Publishing Employees” – a Literary Hub podcast.

Fiction writer and former Tor assistant editor Molly McGhee joins co-hosts V.V. Ganeshananthan and Whitney Terrell to discuss details of her recent resignation from a position she’d fought for in the industry she loves. She also talks about what’s behind #PublishingBurnout for junior employees and what that means for the future of publishing.

Molly McGhee: I had a lot of people reach out privately to me, and publicly, and express that this is something they felt as well, but that they were really nervous to burn any bridges. The thing about publishing is that no matter how high you are, especially if you’re in editorial, you had to start from the bottom. And so you have been experiencing this struggle for years and years, and then find yourself in a position of frustration where you cannot alleviate that struggle for other people below you….

(3) THE FOOD OF AFROFUTURISM. Eat the Culture presented an array of recipes in their “2022 Black History Month Virtual Potluck”.

We collaborated with more than 30 Black recipe developers as we celebrate Black History Month 2022. This Virtual Potluck explores Black food through the lens of Afrofuturism. Our collaboration of recipes explores the intersection of the Black diaspora via culture, future, geopolitics, imagination, liberation, culture, and technology…

What is Afrofuturism?

“Afrofuturism evaluates the past and future to create better conditions for the present generation of Black people through the use of technology, often presented through art, music, and literature.”

Taylor Crumpton, “Afrofuturism Has Always Looked Forward,” Architectural Digest, August 24, 2020

We tasked participants with developing recipes that honor the culinary ingenuity of our past and stretch towards an innovative culinary future.  We sought out to take familiar cultural foods and reimagine them with the ingredients we use, flavors we develop, textures we mold, and visually the way we present….

(4) CAN’T GET IT FIXED. Chad Orzel tells about a writer’s heartbreak from “The Persistence of Errata” at Counting Atoms.

… [The] problem of errors creeping in and somehow making it past the seemingly endless rounds of editing is a pretty universal one. I’ve had a few over the years, and in fact just this week got another email pointing one out. The biggest of the errors that I’ve been alerted to are:

— I’m shocked to realize that this was ten years ago, now, but all the way back in How to Teach Relativity to Your Dog, we ended up with a typo in Maxwell’s equations (on page 34 of the paperback)— there’s an incorrect sign in the Ampere-Maxwell law. In my defense, in the first round of proofs, basically every symbol in there had been replaced by some random dingbat because of a font issue, so it took quite a bit of effort to even get them close. I think the Kindle edition was still rendering a lot of them as empty boxes a few months after publication. I’ve gotten a bunch of emails about this one over the years, starting with one from Bill Phillips….

(5) NO VISIBLE MEANS OF SUPPORT. And here’s another little mistake that made it past quality control: “’The Northman’ Subway Posters Trolled For Excluding Title” at Comic Sands.

If you’ve been anywhere near the internet or TV lately, you’ve likely heard about the new film The Northman as commercials have hit the airwaves and the film’s star-studded cast have begun walking red carpets at various glitzy premieres.

The sweeping Viking epic from director Robert Eggers star-studded cast includes Alexander Skarsgård and Nicole Kidman, making the film pretty hard to miss as its opening weekend approaches.

But if you get most of your advertising from the New York city subway? …[The] film’s marketing team seems to have forgotten to put the film’s title on its poster….

Twitter is helpfully filling in the blank. This might be the best of them:

(6) EAVESDROPPING. In case you haven’t listened to BBC Radio 4’s encounter between the Archbishop and Stephen King, linked here last month, there is now a webpage with the highlights: “Ten things we learned when the Archbishop of Canterbury met author Stephen King”.

1. King’s versatility surprises people

The Archbishop confesses that he didn’t know that King wrote The Green Mile and Shawshank Redemption. He’s not alone.

“The thing that I remember best about those books,” says King “is being in the supermarket one day and going up an aisle where this woman was looking at me, and she said, ‘I know who you are. You write all those scary stories. And that’s all right. For some people, that’s fine. I don’t read those scary stories. I like uplifting things like that Shawshank Redemption.’ And I said, ‘I wrote that,’ and she said, ‘No, you didn’t.’ So that was it. That was our whole conversation!”

(7) SCRIBNER OBIT. Australian fan Edwin A. “Ted” Scribner who edited the web version of the Australian SF Bullsheet (second series) has died. The editor of the email/print version Edwina Harvey announced the news today. He and Harvey were nominated six times for the Ditmar Award for their work on the newzine, winning in 2004, 2005, and 2006. Scribner also was a member of the Sydney Futurians.

Edwina Harvey’s personal tribute to her co-editor and friend is here on Facebook.

(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1950 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] I’m reaching way back into the history of the genre this time as the Dimension X radio show premiered seventy-two years ago this evening on the NBC radio network. It was preceded by Mutual’s 2000 Plus which as the name suggests was another SF series with episodes like “Men from Mars”. That series lasted two years.

The Dimension X radio show was, according to all the articles I read, not the first SF radio series but it benefited from the deep stock of writers involved and I’m going to list all of them here: Isaac Asimov, Robert Bloch, Ray Bradbury, Fredric Brown, Robert A. Heinlein, Murray Leinster, H. Beam Piper, Frank M. Robinson, Clifford D. Simak, William Tenn, Jack Vance, Kurt Vonnegut, Jack Williamson and Donald A. Wollheim. Holy frell! 

If I may single out an episode, I will by noting June 10, 1950’s “The Green Hills of Earth“, based upon the Heinlein story of the same name, relates the life of “Noisy” Rhysling whose story y’all know. It’s wonderful to hear it told. 

The stories of course had already been published, be it in Astounding Science Fiction or the Saturday Evening Post. It was really the Golden Age of Science Fiction for these authors as they’d get paid for these stories again when they were used on the X Minus One series that followed not long after. Remember Heinlein’s adage about filing the serial numbers off. 

With a five-month hiatus from January to June of 1951, the series spanned seventeen months. Quite remarkably all fifty episodes of the series have survived and can be heard today. I’ve profiled at least six episodes of this series on File 770. Do a search here if you want to listen to one of them.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born April 8, 1942 Douglas Trumbull. Let’s call him a genius and leave it at that. He contributed to, or was fully responsible for, the special photographic effects of Close Encounters of the Third Kind2001: A Space Odyssey, Star Trek: The Motion Picture and Blade Runner, and directed the movies Silent Running and Brainstorm. And Trumbull was executive producer for Starlost which we will forgive him for. (Died 2022.)
  • Born April 8, 1943 James Herbert. Writer whose work erased the boundaries between horror and sf and the supernatural in a manner that made for mighty fine popcorn reading. None of his work from his first two books, The Rats and The Fog, to his latter work such as Nobody True would be considered Hugo worthy in my opinion (you may of course disagree) but he’s always entertaining. I will note that in 2010 Herbert was greatly honored by receiving the World Horror Convention Grand Master Award which was presented to him by Stephen King. (Died 2013.)
  • Born April 8, 1967 Cecilia Tan, 55. Editor, writer and founder of Circlet Press, which she says is the first press devoted to erotic genre fiction. It has published well over a hundred digital book to date with such titles as Telepaths Don’t Need Safewords and Other Stories from the Erotic Edge of SF/Fantasy (Wouldn’t Bester be surprised to learn that. I digress), Sex in the System: Stories of Erotic Futures, Technological Stimulation, and the Sensual Life of Machines and Genderflex: Sexy Stories on the Edge and In-Between. She has two series, Magic University and The Prince’s Boy
  • Born April 8, 1974 Nnedi Okorafor, 48. Who Fears Death won a World Fantasy Award for Best Novel.  Lagoon which is an Africanfuturism or Africanjujuism novel (her terms) was followed by her amazing Binti trilogy. Binti, which led off that trilogy, won both the Nebula and Hugo Awards. Binti: The Night Masquerade was a Hugo finalist at Dublin 2019. She was also a 2019 Hugo finalist for her work on the most excellent Black Panther: Long Live the King. Several of her works have been adapted for video, both in Africa and in North America. She wrote LaGuardia, winner of the Best Graphic Story Hugo at CoNZealand, and won a Nommo Award for writing Shuri, another graphic novel.  
  • Born April 8, 1977 Sarah Pinsker, 45. A nine-time finalist for the Nebula Award, her first novel A Song for a New Day won the Nebula for Best Novel while her story Our Lady of the Open Road won the award for Best Novelette. Her short story, “In Joy, Knowing the Abyss Behind”, won a Sturgeon Award, and “Two Truths and a Lie” won Best Novelette at DisCon III. Another novelette, “The Blur in the Corner of Your Eye” was nominated at ConNZealand, and a novella, “And Then There Were (N-One)”, was nominated at Worldcon 76. Very impressive indeed.
  • Born April 8, 1980 Katee Sackhoff, 42. Being noted here  for playing Lieutenant Kara “Starbuck” Thrace on the rebooted Battlestar Galactica though I must confess I’ve only seen in her excellent role as Deputy Sheriff Victoria “Vic” Moretti on Longmire which is now streaming on Peacock. She also played Amunet Black, a recurring character who showed up on the fourth season of The Flash. To my pleasant surprise, I see her on Star Wars: The Clone Wars in a recurring role of voicing Bo-Katan Kryze.
  • Born April 8, 1981 Taylor Kitsch, 41. You’ll possibly remember him  as the lead in John Carter which I swear was originally titled John Carter of Mars. He also played Gambit in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and was Lieutenant Commander Alex Hopper in Battleship which was based off the board game.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

(11) BUCHA AND BOYCOTT. [Item by James Bacon.] The Will team continue to inform fans of what they are seeing and doing, as they are faced with daily news that is upsetting and horrifying. 

The massacre in Bucha has stunned many, and artist Igor Kurilin created a piece of art,

And there is one raising awareness of Russian supporters in our midst. 

Art by Igor Kurilin & TheWillProduction

(12) ALL ABIRD! “Whoopi Goldberg joins Anansi Boys TV series as Bird Woman” reports Entertainment Weekly.

… Goldberg has boarded the cast of Anansi Boysthe TV series adaptation of Gaiman’s acclaimed 2005 book at Amazon. And she’s playing a key antagonistic role that Gaiman himself promises is “going to be scary.”

Amazon revealed the actors who will portray the pantheon of deities on the show, including Goldberg’s Bird Woman, a.k.a. the God of Birds. She is the embodiment of birds, and not just the more beautiful, stately avian animals, but the dangerous ones, as well. Long ago, Anansi, the African trickster God of Stories did her dirty, and now she might finally have her chance to turn the tables….

(13) SPLICING GENRE GENES. James David Nicoll introduces Tor.com readers to “5 Captivating SFF Mystery Novels”.

I’ve noticed that many of my friends who read SFF also read mysteries. Not only that—authors who publish in SFF sometimes publish mysteries as well (which are often more profitable). Indeed, some authors even write SFF mysteries. Here are five recent SFF mysteries I liked.

One of his picks is A Study in Honor by Claire O’Dell (2018).

(14) POSSIBLE NEW FORCE IN PHYSICS. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Back in the day, at our occasional dinners, the bioscientists on the SF2 Concatenation team would always rib our physicist, Graham Connor (who was prone to saying that physics was the> key science), by asking him had physicists found anti-gravity yet? Or, broken the speed of light? etc.  Well, now it just may be the BBC News reports that a new force in physics may have been discovered…

The new research from Fermi Lab has been published in the journal Science and it may upset the standard model of physics.

(15) SF CINEMA SFX. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Another chance to hear Unreal: The VFX Revolution.

This is a three-part BBC Radio 4 documentary, first broadcast last year, that largely focuses on SF film special effects. It is now being repeated on BBC Radio 4 but you can access all three episodes on BBC Sounds.

Yesterday’s Part 2 episode was particularly interesting.

Oscar winner Paul Franklin explores how film entered the digital realm.

The 1970s saw the very first onscreen digital effects in films like Westworld. Those first pioneers of CGI already spoke of digital humans, indeed of entire films being made within the computer, but Hollywood was unconvinced. By 1979, some of those visionaries like Ed Catmull and Alvy Ray Smith, later founders of Pixar, were working for filmmaker George Lucas, who primarily wanted new digital tools for editing and compositing and to explore computer graphics. Their first all-digital sequence created life-from lifelessness with the Genesis effect for Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Meanwhile Disney itself was creating TRON, a spectacular mix of state-of-the art animation and pioneering digital effects that took audiences into cyberspace for the first time. In their different ways these two films were the true harbingers of the digital revolution that would bring profound change to moviemaking within little more than a decade. And then came Terminator 2’s chrome shape shifter-the T1000. The revolution was underway.

(16) FROM LOTR TO UFO. Mashable declares “Stephen Colbert’s latest ‘Lord of the Rings’ rant is beautiful to witness”.

Stephen Colbert has nerded out over Lord of the Rings many times before on The Late Show, and frankly it’ll never get old.

The latest glorious example came on Thursday during a segment on space news, when the discovery of a new star name Earendel prompted Colbert to launch into a truly impressive rundown of the name’s importance in Tolkien’s world….

“Space News: Hubble Finds A New Star, Bret Baier Warns Of Alien Pregnancies” on YouTube.

Outer space enthusiast Stephen Colbert shares updates from beyond our world, including news about a newly-discovered star with a name borrowed from “The Lord of the Rings,” and an explosive report on unexplained alien phenomena from our buddy Bret Baier at Fox News.

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