Pixel Scroll 6/1/24 If You Like My File And You Think I’m Pixely, Come On Baby Let Me Scroll

(1) $UPPORT THE BID. The Worldcon Heritage Organization, which maintains several fixed exhibits to be shown at Worldcons, including a collection of past Hugo Awards, is putting together a bid in hopes of acquiring the first Hugo Award ever given when it goes to auction on June 7. They will also try to get the honorary one given to Hugo Gernsback in 1960, another lot in the same auction.

WHO President Kent Bloom said in a comment on File 770, “Our funds are limited, so if anyone bids against us we may not succeed. I don’t know how to set up a fund to collect donations, but anyone who wants to donate can send money to Worldcon Heritage Organization, c/o Kent Bloom, 1245 Allegheny Drive, Colorado Springs, CO 80919. If you want this considered as a contingent donation, please let us know and if we don’t succeed in acquiring the trophies we can return your contributions.” Bloom can be contacted at [email protected] or at kent.bloom (at) rialto.org

John Pomeranz followed with this advice: “And, as a reminder, let’s not publicize how much we’re giving. No need to tip off the other bidders how high WHA might be able to go.”

(2) POLAND’S FAN OF THE YEAR. Congratulations to Polish fan Marcin “Alqua” Klak who received the Śląkfa Award from Śląski Klub Fantastyki as the fan of the year.

Marcin “Alqua” Klak

(3) UNEXPECTED KAIJU. “Godzilla Minus One Makes a Surprise Stomp to Netflix and Digital” reports Gizmodo.

Godzilla Minus One was one of 2023’s best movies, if not the best, depending on who you ask. If you’re one of the folks who didn’t get the chance to see it in theaters, great news: it’s now on Netflix and available to own or rent digitally…

…If you weren’t aware, there was some confusion around the circumstances of Minus One’s arriving on streaming and physical formats. Due to a contract between Toho and Legendary, the movie had to be taken out of theaters once Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire came out. Presumably, that’s also why a physical 4K/Blu-rRay version hasn’t dropped in outside of Japan either. New Empire only just hit streaming in mid-May and is coming to physical formats on June 11, so it might be a while before folks get to snatch up Minus One to add onto their physical collections….

(4) WHO KNEW? At Physics World, Robert P. Crease says our Steven French knew! “Ursula Le Guin: the pioneering author we should thank for popularizing Schrödinger’s cat” at Physics World.

… But despite its current ubiquity, the fictitious animal only really entered wider public consciousness after the US science-fiction and fantasy writer Ursula K Le Guin published a short story called “Schrödinger’s cat” exactly 50 years ago. Le Guin, who died in 2018 at the age of 88, was a widely admired writer, who produced more than 20 novels and over 100 short stories.

Schrödinger originally invented the cat image as a gag. If true believers in quantum mechanics are right that the microworld’s uncertainties are dispelled only when we observe it, Schrödinger felt, this must also sometimes happen in the macroworld – and that’s ridiculous. Writing in a paper published in 1935 in the German-language journal Naturwissenschaften (23 807), he presented his famous cat-in-a-box image to show why such a notion is foolish.

For a while, few paid attention. According to an “Ngram” search of Google Books carried out by Steven French, a philosopher of science at the University of Leeds in the UK, there were no citations of the phrase “Schrödinger’s cat” in the literature for almost 20 years. As French describes in his 2023 book A Phenomenological Approach to Quantum Mechanics, the first reference appeared in a footnote to an essay by the philosopher Paul Feyerabend in the 1957 book Observation and Interpretation in the Philosophy of Physics edited by Stephan Körner….

(5) SUMMER IS COMING. “George R.R. Martin reveals first look at his sci-fi short film The Summer Machine” at Winter Is Coming.

…The Summer Machine is a science fiction story and may be the first entry in an anthology. Martin is producing the movie, but not writing or directing it; both roles are filled by Michael Cassutt, with whom Martin worked on the 1985 Twilight Zone reboot. The short will star Lina Esco, Charles Martin Smith and Matt Frewer.

We don’t know many details about the plot, although in the image above you can clearly see that Martin is sitting in front of some kind of sci-fi doohicky….

(6) GEORGE R.R. MARTIN COMING TO GLASGOW 2024. Blink and you’ll miss it, but in a Not a Blog post about yet another TV series based on his work (“Here’s Egg!”) George R.R. Martin said he’s going to this year’s Worldcon.

THE HEDGE KNIGHT will be a lot shorter than GAME OF THRONES or HOUSE OF THE DRAGON, with a much different tone… but it’s still Westeros, so no one is truly safe  Ira Parker and his team are doing a great job.  I hope to visit the shoot come July, when I swing by Belfast on my way to the worldcon in Glasgow.  

(7) CENSORING SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENT APPARENTLY FEARS TO TOUCH BOOK. “The Handmaid’s Tale Was Removed from An Idaho School Library. This Teen Handed A Copy to the Superintendent At Graduation”People tells what happened then.

Annabelle Jenkins protested the removal of the graphic novel adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel earlier in the school year

An Idaho high school graduate took book censorship into her own hands at her graduation ceremony earlier this month.

During the May 23 graduation ceremony for the Idaho Fine Arts Academy, Annabelle Jenkins handed West Ada School District superintendent Derek Bub a copy of the graphic novel adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel The Handmaid’s Tale. The book had been removed from the school district’s libraries in Dec. 2023.

According to the Idaho Statesman, the novel was one of 10 books, including Water for Elephants by Sarah Gruen and Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J. Maas, to be removed from the school district. It’s administration concluded that the “graphic imagery contained within [the graphic novel adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale] was not suitable for the West Ada School District student population,” per a statement from district representative Niki Scheppers.

“I just realized that I did not want to walk across that stage and get my diploma and shake the superintendent’s hand,” Jenkins told KTVB. “I just did not want to do that.”

In a TikTok Jenkins posted, which currently has over 24 million views, the graduate is seen shaking the hands of other faculty on stage during the ceremony. When she gets to Bub, Jenkins hands him a copy of The Handmaid’s Tale graphic novel instead.

“I got up there and I got the book out. I kind of showed it to the audience really quick,” she said. “He crossed his arms like this and he wouldn’t take it.” Jenkins placed the book at his feet before she walked off the stage….

(8) DOG’S BEST FRIEND. The New York Times’ Amy Nicholson tells why this is a “critic’s pick”: “‘Robot Dreams’ Review: A Friendship That Is Far From Mechanical”. (Link bypasses NYT paywall.)

Decades after Philip K. Dick asked if androids dreamed of electric sheep, we have an answer. This android — one of two nameless leads in the Oscar-nominated charmer “Robot Dreams” — envisions a small, lonely dog in his third-floor walk-up, microwaving a depressing dinner for one. Set in 1980s Manhattan, Pablo Berger’s all-ages, wordless wonder of a cartoon kicks into gear when the mutt assembles a self-aware, spaghetti-limbed robot companion ordered from an infomercial. You might be thinking that sentient artificial intelligence didn’t exist 40 years ago, and you’d be right. But dogs don’t rent apartments, either.

This fanciful vision of New York is populated by animals: sporty ducks, punk rock monkeys, buffalo mail carriers, penguins shouldering boomboxes, and a disproportionate number of llamas. Mechanical beings are sparse and some creatures consider them lower in status, a brutal development when our robot’s relationship with his dog begins to break down. But Berger isn’t interested in science fiction. He’s made a buddy film that’s as relatable as two friends bonding over slices of pizza (but the robot eats the plate, too)….

(9) ZACK NORMAN (1940-2024). Producer Zack Norman, who gained a kind of fame as the maker of a film referenced on Mystery Science Theater 3000, died April 28 at the age of 83. The New York Times obituary tells how he became a pop culture icon.

…A far more obscure film that Mr. Norman helped produce, “Chief Zabu” (1986), entered into pop-culture lore in an unusual way: by disappearing for three decades.

“Chief Zabu,” which Mr. Norman wrote, produced and directed with Neil Cohen, was another bargain, made on a shoestring budget of $200,000. Mr. Norman was also a star of the film: He played Sammy Brooks, a real estate mogul who, with his friend Ben Sydney (Allen Garfield), pursues both financial and political ambitions in a grandiose scheme to take over a fictitious Polynesian island.

The film fizzled in a preview and was never released. For 30 years it was buried, but not forgotten — at least not to fans of “Mystery Science Theater 3000,” the Generation X staple of the 1990s that featured a weary space traveler and his robot friends poking fun at bad B-movies on a journey through the cosmos.

On the show, any time a character in one of those achingly bad movies cracked a newspaper, Joel Hodgson, the original host, would wearily intone, “Hey, Zack Norman is Sammy in ‘Chief Zabu.’”

It was a knowing reference to an advertisement for the movie, featuring a stern photo of Mr. Norman, that he continued to run — stubbornly yet playfully — in Weekly Variety every Wednesday for nine years. Why? “Because it gave me great joy,” he said in a 2016 interview with The Sun Sentinel of South Florida….

Mr. Norman’s faith in “Chief Zabu” eventually paid off. He and Mr. Cohen released a new cut of the film in 2016 and then took it on tour, presenting it at comedy clubs. Even so, it took them decades to realize that the Variety ad had become a cultural artifact.

In a 2020 interview with the film website Skewed & Reviewed, Mr. Cohen said that neither of them had heard of “Mystery Science Theater 3000” until one afternoon in the mid-2010s when they were walking down a Los Angeles street and saw a man wearing a “Zack Norman as Sammy in Chief Zabu” T- shirt.

“We stopped the guy and said, ‘Dude, what is up with that?’” he recalled. “And you can imagine his reaction when he saw he was talking to Zack Norman, whose face was on his T-shirt.”

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

June 1, 1947 Jonathan Pryce, 77. I’m reasonably sure that the first role I saw Jonathan Pryce in was the lead antagonist of Some Wicked Comes This Way. (Bradbury did a stellar job writing the screenplay, didn’t he?)  He pulls off the carnival leader of Mr. Dark in suitably sinister manner. 

Then there’s the matter of Right Ordinary Horatio Jackson in The Adventures of Baron Munchausen where we meet him executing a heroic officer played by Sting for his act of bravery because it’s demoralizing to soldiers and citizens just trying to lead as he says unexceptional lives. 

(That is the Gilliam film I’ve watched the most followed by Time Bandits. Surely you’re not surprised?) 

As media baron Eliot Carter is in the Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies, he’s trying to cause war between the United Kingdom and China. Arrogant little prick he is here. 

He’s in Pirates of the Caribbean seriesas Governor Weatherby Swann. I’ve only seen the first film, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, and I thought it was an interesting but not terribly great film. 

He’s The Master in the Doctor Who special,  Doctor Who and the Curse of Fatal Death, made specifically for the Red Nose Day charity telethon. It was the only BBC commissioned live-action Doctor Who production between the Who television movie and the launch of the present Who era starting with the “Rose” episode.

In Sherlock Holmes and the Baker Street Irregulars, he got to play that character with Bill Paterson as Watson. The Baker Street Irregulars, a group of street urchins as the BBC press kits described them, is trying to find their missing members, while also trying to prevent Sherlock Holmes being convicted of murder. I’ll end this review with a photo of him in that role.

Jonathan Pryce as Sherlock Holmes.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) STARLINER LAUNCH SCRUBBED. “Boeing forced to call off its first launch with NASA astronauts once again”NBC News has the story.

NASA and Boeing were forced once again to call off the first crewed launch of the company’s Starliner spacecraft.

NASA astronauts Barry “Butch” Wilmore and Sunita Williams were scheduled to lift off aboard the Starliner from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on Saturday at 12:25 p.m. ET. The flight to the International Space Station would have been the vehicle’s first with a crew.

The launch attempt was scrubbed with only 3 minutes and 50 seconds to go in the countdown — yet another setback for Boeing, which has already dealt with years of delays and budget overruns with its Starliner program.

Officials were attempting to try again the next day but announced Saturday evening that the flight was postponed “to give the team additional time to assess a ground support equipment issue,” according to NASA….

(13) SECOND LIFE. “Scavengers Reign, a sci-fi show like no other, now gets a second shot at life on Netflix”Polygon has the good news.

The streaming era operates via a cold and opaque calculus. Many shows unceremoniously premiere with limited promotion, only to face swift cancellation with an equal lack of fanfare. With no real numbers and a few dodgy reports available to the public and creators (now a little less dodgy, thanks to the Writers Guild of America strike), a show’s fate can feel like a cosmic joke, with no rhyme or reason to why some soldier on and some never get the chance to find an audience. Scavengers Reign, the stunning animated series that debuted on Max last year, found its number was up when the streamer canceled it earlier this May. However, in a rare moment of clarity, there is a way forward for the show: It just has to be a hit starting Friday, when it premieres on Netflix.

Its new summer home (Scavengers Reign is still available to stream on Max) is reportedly considering a season 2 renewal pending the show’s Netflix debut, though what a favorable run looks like isn’t terribly clear. Mostly, this is just an excuse to exercise a rare bit of streaming-era agency: Go check out Scavengers Reign, one of the very best shows of last year, and the rare series that earns the superlative of “like nothing else on television” simply by virtue of its stunning visual design.

Taking visual cues from European sci-fi artists like Moebius and Simon Roy, Scavengers Reign chronicles the aftermath of a disaster aboard the spacecraft Demeter, following a handful of survivors that escaped to the alien world of Vesta Minor, a hauntingly beautiful and hostile planet…. 

(14) THREE SHALL BE THE NUMBER. “’3 Body Problem’ To Run For 3 Seasons On Netflix” reports Deadline.

3 Body Problem creators David Benioff, D.B. Weiss and Alexander Woo on Friday cleared up the confusion over the Netflix sci-fi drama’s recent renewal, confirming that it will produce two more seasons.

At the streamer’s upfront presentation last month, the streamer announced that 3 Body Problem has been picked up for “all-new episodes”, with Benioff, Weiss and Woo assuring fans that they will “get to tell this story through to its epic conclusion.”

No number of episodes or seasons were revealed, creating a confusion and triggering wild speculation. Benioff, Weiss and Woo subsequently indicated to THR that the pickup was for “seasons” but have not provided specifics until today when they confirmed that there will be Seasons 2 and 3 during a 3 Body Problem Television Academy panel at the Netflix FYSEE space….

(15) SMOKE BUT NO MIRRORS? [Item by Steven French.] So, maybe not built by aliens ….? “Are dusty quasars masquerading as Dyson sphere candidates?” asks Physics World.

Seven candidate Dyson spheres found from their excess infrared radiation could be a case of mistaken identity, with evidence for dusty background galaxies spotted close to three of them.

The seven candidates were discovered by Project Hephaistos, which is coordinated by astronomers at Uppsala University in Sweden and Penn State University in the US.

A Dyson sphere is a hypothetical construct: a swarm of energy collectors capturing all of a star’s radiant energy to provide huge amounts of power for its builders. As these energy collectors – basically huge arrays of solar panels – absorb sunlight, they must emit waste heat as infrared radiation to avoid overheating. While a complete Dyson swarm would hide a star from view, this waste heat would still be detectable.

The caveat is that to build a complete Dyson swarm, a lot of raw material is required. In his 1960 paper describing the concept, Freeman Dyson calculated that dismantling a gas giant planet like Jupiter should do the trick.

Given that this is easier said than done, Project Hephaistos has been looking for incomplete Dyson swarms “that do not block all starlight, but a fraction of it,” says Matías Suazo of Uppsala University, who is leading the project….

(16) CHANG’E-6 LANDS ON MOON. “China’s Chang’e-6 probe successfully lands on far side of the moon”CNN puts the news in perspective.

China’s Chang’e-6 lunar lander successfully touched down on the far side of the moon Sunday morning Beijing time, in a significant step for the ambitious mission that could advance the country’s aspirations of putting astronauts on the moon.

The Chang’e-6 probe landed in the South Pole-Aitken Basin, where it will begin to collect samples from the lunar surface, the China National Space Administration announced.

China’s most complex robotic lunar endeavor to date, the uncrewed mission aims to return samples to Earth from the moon’s far side for the first time.

The landing marks the second time a mission has successfully reached the far side of the moon. China first completed that historic feat in 2019 with its Chang’e-4 probe.

If all goes as planned, the mission — which began on May 3 and is expected to last 53 days — could be a key milestone in China’s push to become a dominant space power.

The country’s plans include landing astronauts on the moon by 2030 and building a research base at its south pole – a region believed to contain water ice.

Sunday’s landing comes as a growing number of countries, including the United States, eye the strategic and scientific benefits of expanded lunar exploration in an increasingly competitive field.

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. You’re just in time (!) for the “Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark Pitch Meeting” with Ryan George. Does the proposed story have any holes? Shut up, he explained.

[Thanks to Kathy Sullivan, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Steven French, and Teddy Harvia for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]

Pixel Scroll 1/28/24 Intergalactic Antiques Road Show

(1) GALAXY QUEST FUNKOS. Slashfilm rejoices: “Cool Stuff: By Grabthar’s Hammer, Galaxy Quest Funko POPs Have Arrived!”

… Funko has revealed three new POP vinyl figures of Jason Nesmith (Tim Allen) as Commander Peter Quincy Taggart, Sir Alexander (Alan Rickman) as Dr. Lazarus, and Fred Kwan (Tony Shalhoub) as Tech Sergeant Chen. They’re all given the classic look from the original “Galaxy Quest” TV series, though they’re not intended to be the classic versions of their characters. If they were, Tim Allen’s hair mold would probably look more retro. However, they did depict Fred Kwan with that semi-squinted expression in his eyes, which only really happened when he was fully in character on the show. Personally, I’d like to have a series of “Galaxy Quest” Funko POPs with them looking disheveled, such as Sir Alexander with hair poking out of his torn alien headpiece.

What’s a little disappointing is the lack of the rest of the original crew, with no figures for Gwen DiMarco (Sigourney Weaver) as Lt. Tawny Madison and Tommy Webber (Daryl Mitchell) as Laredo in sight. Seems like quite an oversight to exclude both the woman and the Black cast members from the movie/series, especially since the packaging for the other figures indicates that there are two other “Galaxy Quest” Funko POPs on the way…

(2) AFTER ACTION REPORT PART II. {By Steven French.] [Part I was in a previous Scroll.] It wouldn’t be a fantasy exhibition in Leeds without *some* mention of JRR! Leeds Central Library’s Fantasy: Realms of Imagination included a couple of displays with Tolkien-related material including one with a photo of his and Edith’s house in West Park, out on the edge of the city, as well as two of his poems that were published in the university student magazine The Gryphon. One, ‘Iumonna Gold Galdre Bewunden’ not only features a dragon on its hoard but also makes mention of a ring (!). The other, ‘Light as Leaf on Lindentree’ , from 1925, eventually became the Song of Beren and Lúthien which Strider recited to the hobbits on Weathertop. 

(3) AFTER ACTION REPORT PART III. [By Steven French.] And finally (honest!), no fantasy exhibition would be complete without a dragon or two and Fantasy: Realms of Imagination at Leeds Central Library had its fair share, including this fine example:

Plus an egg or two:

But my favourite was this little fellow, made by the Bermantofts Pottery of east Leeds:

(Bermantofts Pottery also made the ox-blood faïence (glazed terracotta tiles) for the facades of such London Underground stations as Covent Garden and Russell Square)

Even the reading room, with its magnificent ceiling, took part in the spot-the-dragon competition (can you see it?!):

Fun for kids of all ages!

(4) ABOUT THOSE SMOFCON VIDEOS. Ersatz Culture advanced this “Modest Proposal” about the Chengdu panels at SMOFcon:

He’s also posted this at Mastodon, where Cheryl Morgan gave a response that can be read at the link.

(5) TIANWEN. The “Tianwen” project was announced in Chengdu last October with the cooperation of representatives of several professional writers groups and Hugo Award Administrator Dave McCarty. This puff piece encompasses what we know so far: “Tianwen: Unveiling China’s Diverse Science Fiction to the World” at News Directory 3. While the publicity seeks to associate a new literature prize with the Hugo brand, it does not appear to claim a formal connection to the WSFS award.

The announcement and unveiling of the “Tianwen” project at the first Industrial Development Summit of the World Science Fiction Conference is set to revolutionize the Chinese science fiction scene. This global project, launched by the Chinese Authors Association and the Organizing Committee of the World Science Fiction Conference, aims to discover new talents, support science fiction works, and promote the integrated development of the industry.

The project was unveiled by Alai, Vice Chairman of the Chinese Writers Association, Hiroshi Osawa, Chairman of the Japan Science Fiction Writers Association, and Dave McCarty, head of the Hugo Award Selection Committee. Alai expressed his hope that “Qu Yuan’s romanticism and idealism will be better publicized in ‘Tianwen’”, while Osawa emphasized the impact of the project on shaping the future generation.

The “Tianwen” plan includes the establishment of the Tianwen Global Science Fiction Literature Prize, which will be awarded annually from 2024. This prize aims to encourage new and young writers, focusing on their innovative literary works and expression of new cultural fields. It will serve as an important supplement to the prestigious Hugo Awards and contribute to the diversity of the Hugo culture.

Additionally, the “Tianwen” project will host various activities to promote the integrated development of the global science fiction industry. These include sub-forums, award ceremonies, promotion conferences, creation salons, exhibitions, and industry roadshows.

Liang Xiaolan, the chairman of the World Science Fiction Conference Chengdu 2023, emphasized that “Tianwen” is not only an award and program, but also a platform for the industrial development of national science fiction culture. This initiative aims to elevate Chinese science fiction to a global level and promote exchange and collaboration between China and foreign countries.

With the inclusion of Chinese works in the selection process of the Hugo Awards for the first time, “Tianwen” will play a crucial role in showcasing Chinese science fiction to a wider audience. Dave McCarty views “Tianwen” as a valuable platform for international science fiction exchange, leading the way for the global science fiction industry….

(6) LESS PAIN, MORE GAIN. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] The Directors Guild of America–the most prominent Hollywood Guild that did not strike last year—has now gotten a bump in several contract areas to more closely match their sibling guilds. You know, the siblings who did walk the picket lines. “DGA, the Guild That Didn’t Strike, Gets Improved Contract Terms” in Variety.

The Directors Guild of America, the Hollywood union that did not strike last year, told members Thursday that it has won additional gains, including a viewership bonus for streaming shows.

DGA members will get a 50% residual bump for work on the most-watched shows on streaming platforms, matching the terms won by the Writers Guild of America.

The DGA also got increases in several other areas, including a .5% increase in pension and health contributions in both the second and third year of the contract.

The DGA agreed to a three-year deal with the major studios on June 3, about a month into the WGA strike. At the time, DGA negotiators did not seek a viewership-based bonus, instead choosing to focus on a 21% increase in streaming residuals to account for the growth in foreign subscribers.

The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers was not obligated to reopen the terms of that deal, which was ratified by 87% of the members. But by doing so, and matching the streaming residual terms obtained by the WGA, the AMPTP helps DGA leadership make the case to its members that they were not disadvantaged by refusing to strike….

(7) BACK TO THE MOON. Maya St. Clair praises Samantha Harvey’s novel in ORBITAL Review: the stars look very different today” at News from the Orb.

…When literary authors cross over into science fiction, they often do so as enlightened homesteaders, equipped with notions of the field’s backwardness and confidence that their own innovative ideas will reform the backwaters of tropey sci-fi for the better. (Remember when Ian McEwan — in A. D. 2019 — told sci-fi writers that they’d better start “actually looking at the human dilemmas” that would arise with high-level AI?)

Samantha Harvey falls into a different camp, in that she’s not attempting what we might consider “science fiction” — not exactly. I initially found Orbital (2022) because it was displayed the sci-fi section of my library; however, Harvey has described it as “space realism”: a rendering of life in space as humans currently experience it. Orbital takes place in the near future, on an international space station (the ISS in all but name), wherein six astronauts live and work, sheltered from the black void by its narrow walls. Their daily tasks are structured and mundane, and nothing happens in the novel (spacewalks, toilet repairs, floating dinners served in bags) that hasn’t happened in real life. No speculative elements, except a new manned mission to the moon, are introduced.

That being said, sci-fi fans would do themselves a disservice in skipping Orbital. Although it has no aliens or new technology, it’s one of the most inventive and immersive novels I’ve read in a long time.

(8) A HIGH WIRE ACT. That’s what Paul Weimer says readers are witnessing in his review of the final volume of a trilogy by Kevin Hearne, A Curse of Krakens: “Seven Kennings Trilogy and the Power of Story” at Nerds of a Feather.

…Right at the start, we find that this novel, and this trilogy is about the telling of story. A bard with the power of a Kenning, in particular the magical ability to project his voice, begins to tell the war-weary city of the war that they themselves are suffering privation under.  We are in medias res of the Giant’s War, and the bard, we soon learn, has been sent to tell the story of the Giants War and prepare the populace for what is to come next.

But it’s not a simple linear narrative. This is not a simple recitation of facts. The bard has collected and (with his flawless memory) organized a raft of stories from, ultimately, twenty or so points of view. This sounds absolutely unwieldy and unsustainable and it is a high wire act that Hearne works at through the books. Hearne manages it by telling the stories of these characters through the bard in a narratively interesting and engaging order, which is not a straight up order by dates. And by having the bard tell the stories, we can use present day events in Pelemyn itself as a breather and a buffer from the stories he tells. 

What’s more, this ambitious three volume out of order narrative drives plot right up to the “present”…

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born January 28, 1981 Elijah Wood, 43. In Elijah Wood, we’ve an actor that I always enjoy watching. Best known here and in the greater film community for being Frodo Baggins in The Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, he has a much more extensive film career.

Elijah Wood in 2011. Photo by Gage Skidmore.

He makes his debut in a blink and you’ll miss it performance as Video Game Boy #2 in Back to the Future Part II; he next has a significant genre role as Nat Cooper in Forever Young, the screenplay being written by J. J. Abram from his story named “The Rest of Daniel”. 

He next shows up as the young Mike Marshall (primary version) in Radio Flyer with Tom Hanks playing, uncredited the older version and the film narrator.  Fantastic film that. 

Then he’s Huck in, well, The Adventures of Huck Finn. Haven’t seen it, but the usual suspects at Rotten Tomatoes who did see this Disney Production did like it and gave it a seventy-three rating.  I know it’s not genre, but I like the story. A lot. 

Elijah Wood in 2019. Photo by Gage Skidmore.

Next is SF in Deep Impact where he plays, let me see my notes, Leo Biederman, a teenage astronomer who discovers the Wolf–Biederman comet . Oh look they cast a teenager as a teenager!

Now we have an adult role for him in one of my favorite films — he’s Patrick Wertz in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Good role, wonderfully executed by him. 

Can we skip Sin City pretty please? Yes, I know, and do forgive me here.

He’s got a minor role in, depending in how you frame it, the reboot or new version or remake of The Toxic Avenger. I personally see no reason for such a perfectly trashy film to be made again, do you?

To quote Porky Pig, that’s it folks. 

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Frazz has a question about lunch.
  • Candorville shares an interesting collection of filk lullabies.
  • Tom Gauld has more about the life of books.

(11) GRAND PRIX. “Graphic novelist Posy Simmonds wins prestigious French comics award” reports the Guardian.

The graphic novelist Posy Simmonds has won the Grand Prix at France’s Angoulême International Comics festival – the first time a British artist and author has been awarded the world’s most prestigious prize for lifetime achievement in comics.

Simmonds’s satirical observations on modern British society, interweaving detailed illustration with long literary texts, are held to have redefined the graphic novel genre.

She said of the award: “I was gobsmacked – époustouflée, as you would say in French … It’s extraordinary because if you’re writing or drawing, you work in a room on your own, and it’s then very extraordinary when the book, or your work, or you are given a lot of exposure.”…

(12) FREE READ. Sunday Morning Transport has another free story – “The Empty Throne” by Benjamin C. Kinney – to encourage new subscribers.

For the final free-to-read story of January, Benjamin C. Kinney takes us to 19th century Budapest, where a young woman wrestles with her father’s angels. Note: Should you be inclined towards tremendous footnotes, the author has linked one at the end of the story for you to peruse.

(13) SQUISHMALLOWS. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] This Entertainment Weekly article recommends these as Valentine’s Day gifts. Hmpf. Perhaps for one’s young nephew, or niece, but it might be just a little bit ick (or EW) to give an adult love interest a squishy pillow-shaped plush styled after an underage tween/teen. “Harry Potter Squishmallows are available at Amazon just in time for Valentine’s Day”.

… Your wish has been granted with no wand-waving needed, as Harry Potter Squishmallows now exist. The lovable main character has been reimagined into a poofy, cozy plush toy that will delight any HP fan come Valentine’s Day. The Gryffindor legend has his glasses, Hogwarts house robe, and trademark lightning bolt scar all in an ultra-huggable material. 

If you’re interested in snapping up the OG trio, Ron Weasley is also available, and Hermione Granger can be preordered now, too, with the official launch date set for February 13….

(14) THUNDERBOLT FANTASY. A new episode of the Anime Explorations Podcast is up today, where they discuss the second season of the Taiwanese Wuxia Puppet series Thunderbolt Fantasy, with special guest Tom Merritt of the Daily Tech News Show and Sword & Laser Podcast. “Anime Explorations Podcast: Episode 16: Thunderbolt Fantasy Season 2”.

(15) BASKETBALL MOANS. I don’t know. Maybe you can figure it out: “Tyra Banks Nets, Furries Clip Goes Viral” at Buzzfeed.

…The clip that began picking up steam was Tyra on the Jumbotron, covering her eyes with her hands as the two furries leaned over her to caress one another….

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