Pixel Scroll 1/30/23 Many Scrolls And Files Knew What It Was To Be Roasted In The Depths Of The Pixels That Day, I Can Tell You

(1) PUBLISHING CONTROVERSY REVISITED. Pamela Paul, former New York Times Book Review editor, returned to the three-year-old American Dirt controversy in an op-ed for the New York Times: “The Long Shadow of ‘American Dirt’”.

…From the moment Cummins’s agent sent “American Dirt” out to potential publishers, it looked like a winner. The manuscript led to a bidding war among nine publishing imprints, resulting in a game-changing, seven-figure deal for its author. In the run-up to publication, as the editor of The New York Times Book Review, I asked attendees at Book Expo, then the most significant annual publishing conference, which upcoming book they were most excited about. The answer was as unanimous as I’ve ever heard: “American Dirt.” Publishers, editors, booksellers, librarians were all wildly enthusiastic: “American Dirt” wasn’t only a gripping novel — it brought attention to one of the most vexing and heartbreaking issues of our time, the border crisis. This, its champions believed, was one of those rare books that could both enthrall readers and change minds.

But in December 2019, a month before the novel’s release, Myriam Gurba, a Latina writer whose memoir, “Mean,” had been published a couple of years earlier by a small press, posted a piece that Ms. magazine had commissioned as a review of “American Dirt,” and then killed. In her blog post and accompanying review, Gurba characterized the novel as “fake-assed social justice literature,” “toxic heteroromanticism” and “sludge.” It wasn’t just that Gurba despised the book. She insisted that the author had no right to write it.

A central charge was that Cummins, who identifies as white and Latina but is not an immigrant or of Mexican heritage, wasn’t qualified to write an authentic novel about Latin American characters. Another writer soon asserted in an op-ed that the “clumsy, ill-conceived” rollout of Cummins’s novel was proof that American publishing was “broken.” The hype from the publisher, which marketed the book as “one of the most important books for our times,” was viewed as particularly damning. Echoing a number of writers and activists, the op-ed writer said it was incumbent upon Mexican Americans and their “collaborators” to resist the “ever-grinding wheels of the hit-making machine,” charging it was “unethical” to allow Oprah’s Book Club to wield such power. More than 100 writers put their names to a letter scolding Oprah for her choice….

Dana Snitzky takes issue: “This Week in Books: It’s Pamela Paul Week”.

…American Dirt was merely criticized. Criticized, probably most famously (yet not by any means initially) in the pages of the New York Times Book Review. The New York Times Book Review as edited by Pamela Paul. Yes, friends, you heard correctly—as Max Read and others online have pointed out, Pamela Paul’s powers of discourse are such that she has established a vertically integrated outrage machine, seeing the process through from initial cancellation to reactionary backlash…. 

Silvia Moreno-Garcia addressed Paul’s op-ed in an extended Twitter thread that starts here. A few of her comments are:

(2) ELSEWHERE MONTELEONE KEEPS DIGGING THE HOLE DEEPER. It was taken down today, however, yesterday YouTube’s Hatchet Mouth posted their “Tom Monteleone Interview”, an extended opportunity for Monteleone to deliver more remarks in the vein of his now-removed Facebook post. He belittled a past Horror Writers Association award winner in derogatory racial terms (while making every effort to assign the wrong ethnicity to the person being insulted), and gave the same treatment to the woman who called for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer to be renamed (as it was). Copies of the YouTube auto-generated transcript are floating around. In fact, I made my own if you need to see one…

(3) BACK TO THE DINOSAURS. Apex Publishing’s Jason Sizemore, responding to a particular thread within the Monteleone kerfuffle, told Facebook readers what was wrong with the latest attack on an award-winning story.  

There’s another old white male author who has found offense at the award recognition of non-white, non-male writers by the HWA. It’s been all over my FB feed.

Inevitably, the usual cadre of traditionalists and self-anointed old school sci-fi readers rallied around this writer rehashing the same tired arguments that showcase a poor understanding of capitalism, reality, and the depth of fiction they bemoan.

Apex Magazine was accused of catering to reactionary and psychotic (not my words) people.

“If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love” by Rachel Swirsky was evoked. Again. This story came out in March of 2013….

(4) BUFFY SLAYS TROLLS & SLIMEBALLS. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Working now from a position of earned respect and power, Sarah Michelle Gellar expressed her opinions on mistreatment of women in visual media. In an interview with the Guardian, she takes shots at both the trolls who sit in front of the screen and certain slimeballs who reside behind the cameras. “’A lot of the demons seem a little cheesy now’: Sarah Michelle Gellar on Buffy, her burnout and her comeback”.

…For all its similarities to Buffy, Wolf Pack has one key difference: this time Gellar is in a position of influence, as an executive producer as well as the lead.

The title can be almost meaningless, a way to sweeten the deal for a star, but Gellar says she told Davis: “I’ve been doing this for 40 years. I have a lot of experience, and I have a lot to bring to the table. If you’re just looking for an actor that just wants to have the credit, I’m not your person. I’m going to have ideas, and I’m going to be vocal about them.”…

(5) IN MEMORIAM 2022. Steven H Silver’s list “In Memoriam: Those We Have Lost in 2022” has been posted at Amazing Stories.

(6) LISA LORING OBITUARY. TV’s original Wednesday Addams, Lisa Loring, died January 30 at age 64 reports the BBC.

…Her daughter, Vanessa Foumberg, told The Hollywood Reporter she died of a stroke caused by high blood pressure.

“She went peacefully with both her daughters holding her hands,” Foumberg said.

The actress had been on life support for three days, her friend Laurie Jacobson posted on Facebook.

“She is embedded in the tapestry that is pop culture and in our hearts always as Wednesday Addams,” she said in her post.

The Addams Family, which was the first adaptation of Charles Addams’ New Yorker cartoons, ran from 1964 to 1966 on ABC.

Ms Loring also appeared in the soap opera “As the World Turns” and the sitcom “The Pruitts of Southampton.”…

(7) MEMORY LANE.

1987 [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

And now we come to the end of the genre quotes (at least for now) with a most splendid one from Ellen Kushner’s Swordspoint: A Melodrama of Manners novel. As y’all know, it’s the first work of the Riverside series which continues in The Fall of the Kings, was co-written with her wife Delia Sherman, and finished in The Privilege of the Sword.

Yes, it’s one of my favorite novels, and the series as well, to re-read. Preferably on a cold winter’s night. I do think that Swordspoint is the best of the novels though The Privilege of the Sword is quite tasty as well. 

And you have to love a society where chocolate is the drink of choice among everyone. 

BY MIDDAY, MOST OF THE NOBLES ON THE HILL COULD be counted on to be awake. The Hill sat lordly above the rest of the city, honeycombed with mansions, landscaped lawns, elaborate gates, and private docks on the cleanest part of the river. Its streets had been built expressly wide and smooth enough to accommodate the carriages of nobles, shortly after carriages had been invented. Usually, mornings on the Hill were passed in leisurely exchange of notes written on colored, scented, and folded paper, read and composed in various states of dishabille over cups of rich chocolate and crisp little triangles of toast (all the nourishment that ought to be managed after a night’s reveling); but on the morning after the garden duel, with the night’s events ripe for comment, no one had the patience to wait for a reply, so the streets were unusually crowded with carriages and pedestrians of rank.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 30, 1911 Hugh Marlowe. First let me note that he was first to play the title character in the very first radio version of The Adventures of Ellery Queen. No, it’s not even genre adjacent but neat nonetheless. As regards genre roles, he’s Tom Stevens in The Day the Earth Stood Still, and Dr. Russell A. Marvin in Earth vs. the Flying Saucers. He was also Harold McPherson in Seven Days in May if you want to count that as genre which I definitely think you should. (Died 1982.)
  • Born January 30, 1920 Michael Anderson. English Director best remembered for Around the World in 80 Days, Logan’s Run, and perhaps not nearly as much for, Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze. Yes, I saw it. It was, errrr, interesting. He also directed The Martian Chronicles series. (Died 2018.)
  • Born January 30, 1924 Lloyd Alexander. His most well-crafted work is The Chronicles of Prydain. Though drawn off Welsh mythology, they deviate from it in significant ways stripping it of much of its negativity.  To my belief, it is his only genre writing as I don’t hold the Westmark trilogy to actually be fantasy, just an alternative telling of European history. Splitting cats hairs? Maybe. He was also one of the founders of Cricket, an illustrated literary journal for children. The late illustrator Trina Schart Hyman whose art I lust after, errrr, adore was another founder. (Died 2007.)
  • Born January 30, 1926 Peter Brachacki. Set designer for the very first episode of Doctor Who. Everything I’ve been able to read on him says that he was not at all interested in working on the series and did so reluctantly under orders. Doctor Who producer Verity Lambert would later recount that she was impressed with Brachacki’s work on the TARDIS interior even though she personally did not like him at all. His design elements persist throughout the fifty years the series has been produced. His only other genre work that I’ve been able to find was Blake’s 7 and a short series called the The Witch’s Daughter done in the late Seventies. The BBC wasn’t always great at documenting who worked on what series. (Died 1980.)
  • Born January 30, 1941 Gregory Benford, 82. His longest running series is Galactic Center Saga, a series I find a little akin to Saberhagen’s Beserker series. I’ve not read enough of it to form a firm opinion though I know some of you of have done so.  Other novels I’ve read by him include Timescape (superb) and A Darker Geometry: A Man-Kzin Novel which was actually was quite excellent. Yes I do read Baen Books. 
  • Born January 30, 1955 Judith Tarr, 68.  I’m fond of her Richard the Lionheart novels which hew closely to the historical record while introducing just enough magic to make them fantasy. The novels also make good use of her keen knowledge of horsemanship as well. Her Queen of the Amazons pairs the historical Alexander the Great, with a meeting with the beautiful Hippolyta, who is queen of the Amazons. Highly recommended.
  • Born January 30, 1973 Jordan Prentice, 50. Inside every duck is a self-described person of short stature. His words, not mine. In the case of Howard the Duck from the movie of the same name, one of those persons was him. He’s not in a lot of SFF roles after his performing debut there though he shows up next as Fingers Finnian in Wolf Girl, playing Sherrif Shelby in Silent But Deadly, Napoleon in Mirror Mirror and Nigel Thumb in The Night Before the Night Before Christmas.
  • Born January 30, 1974 Christian Bale, 49. First enters our corner of the mediaverse in a Swedish film called Mio in the Land of Faraway where he plays a character named Yum Yum. Note though that he doesn’t speak in this role as his Swedish voice is done by Max Winerdah. So his playing Demetrius in A Midsummer Night’s Dream is his first speaking role. Next up is American Psycho in which he was Patrick Bateman, that was followed by a role in Reign of Fire as Quinn Abercromby. He was John Preston in Equilibrium, and he voiced Howl in Howl’s Moving Castle, a film well worth seeing.  Need I say who he plays in Batman Begins? I thought not. He’d repeat that in The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises. Amidst being Batman, he was also John Connor in Terminator Salvation. His last genre role to date was voicing Bagheera in Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle asked off Kipling’s All the Mowgli Stories. He’s got a television genre credit, to wit Jim Hawkins in Treasure Island off the Robert Louis Stevenson of that name.

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • Candorville shows a dad telling his shrink about trying to get his kid to watch Star Trek.
  • Foxtrot’s “Goodnight Doom” adapts the verses of a children’s book to a kid’s computer.

(10) ALTERNATE OVAL OFFICES. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Welcome to an alternate universe. Actually, six different ones.

Have you ever wondered what the White House Oval Office would look like if it were outfitted completely in IKEA furniture? Or perhaps another home furnishing brand? House Fresh will be glad to show you.

Some of the choices are breathtaking; albeit perhaps not in the way a President might desire. “If 6 Iconic Home Brands Redesigned The Oval Office” at HouseFresh.

Consider the Pottery Barn version….

(11) THE BIRD HAS THE WORD. “’An Ostrich Told Me the World Was Fake’ Director Discusses Oscar Nom” in Variety.

…The short film follows a young telemarketer named Neil who is confronted by a mysterious talking ostrich who tells him that the universe is actually stop-motion animation. Neil, voiced by Pendragon, then tries to convince his colleagues about the discovery….

Let’s talk about “An Ostrich Told Me the World Was Fake” and its journey. Where did it begin?

It was part of a doctorate in visual arts program at film school. It had to come from a research perspective. The project needed to have a level of innovation and something that you were doing differently that you could write about and talk about. I wanted to do something on stop-motion because it’s something that I love doing, but I hadn’t thought too much about it yet. There was so much potential about what could be done and explored.

I wanted to look at the handmade quality of stop-motion animation and ensure they were as apparent as possible. That led me down this path of doing something that breaks the fourth wall and deconstructs it, so that the audience could be watching the behind-the-scenes as they were watching the film. I thought it was entertaining because it would show all that goes into making this kind of film. But then on the other side, it’s like, how do I make sure that it’s not too distracting that you can still connect with these characters? Finding that balance was difficult….

(12) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Honest Trailers – Snakes on a Plane” shows that if you steal ideas from enough different places it’s not plagiarism. But first, you also have to steal enough special effects snakes.

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

Barkley — So Glad You (Didn’t) Ask #72

WORLDCON 80 – A PICTORIAL ESSAY 

By Chris M. Barkley and Juli Marr.

AUGUST 30, 2022 – TRAVEL DAY

My partner Juli and I set out on a beautiful morning for Chicago. One of our favorite sights is the immense Meadow Lake Wind Farm (which generates 801.25 megawatts of electricity) consisting of 301 turbines, just northwest of  Lafayette, Indiana. I have always been in awe of the size and scope of this modern marvel of engineering.

We arrived at dusk and were treated to the enchanting vista of Chicago at night by the river…

SEPTEMBER 1ST

Blues Brothers Cap

Since I was going to be dwelling in the hometown of the Blues Brothers, I thought it would be appropriate to be attired properly.

Galaxy ‘s Edge Editor Lezli Robyn and myself by Juli Marr

One of the first people Juli and I met at Chicon 8 was Galaxy’s Edge Editor and Arc Manor Assistant Publisher Robyn Lezli, who was a large display of books and magazines with her benevolent (and generous) boss, Shahid Mahmud.

Journey Planet

On my way to the Press Office, Christopher Garcia threw a copy of Journey Planet (paperboy style) as we passed each other. Here is a photo of it in mid-flight…

One of the first things I unpacked for the Press Office was this item. When the staff assembled that first morning, I told them in NO UNCERTAIN TERMS that if they stepped out of line, I would not hesitate to blow the Illuminated Death Star Beach Ball up! Needless to say, it remained deflated during the duration of the convention.

SEPTEMBER 2

After several delays (and escapades) involving the United States Department of State and airline hijinks, Nigeria’s rising literary star (and double Hugo Finalist), Oghenechowe Donald Ekpeki finally arrived at Chicon 8. I greeted him at the Galaxy’s Edge table in the Dealer’s Room with two facemasks and an envelope with some valuable personal papers. Needless to say, everyone was overjoyed to see him…

Myself, Laura and Navia Moorman, photo by Juli Marr

Also on hand were my daughter, Laura, her husband Charlie (not pictured, unfortunately) and my granddaughter, Navia. They were here to witness my (possible) Hugo Award acceptance speech on Sunday. I may have felt the sting of disappointment by not winning but I was so incredibly happy they were all there.

 Chicago By Day…

Dan Berger, Juli Marr and Sushee Blat pondering

So here are my Press Office mates, Dan Berger, Juli Marr and Sooshe Blat Harkins, pondering where we should go for dinner along the Chicago Riverwalk. Rest assured, we did eat that evening…

Chicago After Dark…

SEPTEMBER 3RD

Day Three of Chicon 3, another beautiful morning.

The Chicon 8 Hugo Award

 On my way to the Press office, I made some time Saturday morning to stop by the Exhibit Hall and check out this year’s Hugo Award trophy. This magnificent award was handcrafted by the renowned Chicago artist and business entrepreneur Brian Keith Ellison of BKE Designs.

Chicon 8 Panelists

Ah, FINALLY, a photo from a Chicon 8 panel. Here are the panelists of “Movie Year in Review: A Curated Look at Genre Films (2021–2022)” moderated by yours truly.  From left to right are: Matthew S. Rotundo, Daryll Mansel, Joshua Bilmes and Deirdre Crimmins. We had fun. You should have been there.

Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki and Seanan Maguire

I was checking up on how Mr. Ekpeki was getting along in the Dealer’s Room when up ZOOMED fellow Hugo Award Finalist Seanan Maguire on her scooter. They both knew of a photo opportunity when they saw it…  

Regency John Hertz

It’s Saturday Night so you know it’s time for another magnificent appearance by fandom’s favorite, and most regal, Masquerade Judge, John Hertz!  

Masquerade Ensemble

And here is a wide shot of all the Chicon 8 Masquerade contestants. I apologize for it being out of focus; I BLAME the three apparitions lighting up in the middle of the photo. I don’t recall who they are but let’s face it, they lit up the joint that evening.

SEPTEMBER 4TH

Breakfast of Champions

It’s THE BIG DAY! And that calls for a BIG BREAKFAST, courtesy of the Chicon 8 Staff Lounge. I hadn’t had a bowl of Rice Chex in AGES. (As a kid, I used to inhale whole boxes in a single sitting. Ah, those were the days…). Anyway, kudos to everyone who helped kept us fed during the convention.   

Juli and I are very sneaky. We knew in advance that Sunday was Lezli Robyn’s birthday so we planned something a little special for her. The day before we left, we packed and wrapped her gift specially for her. We have both known for years that Lezli is a bit, uh, accident prone. After the fifth or sixth incident we started threatening to just roll her in bubble wrap, for her own safety and protection. Well at Chicon 8, we decided on this preemptive strike before disaster struck again. As you can see, a nice birthday card was placed on top of the package. And you can see Lezli’s reaction as she realized that bubble wrap was all that was left in the box. All for her. We were later informed by sources that she used the bubble wrap as a pillow (in an appropriate place, mind you) when she needed to nap. You’re welcome, Lezli, anytime. 

Catherynne Valente

After delivering Ms. Robyn’s gift, I stole a few minutes from my Press Office duties to have a novel by Catherynne M. Valente signed. We met before when she had a signing at Joseph Beth Booksellers in Cincinnati where I worked for many years. She remembered me and enthusiastically remarked that she had a great time and would love to return for a visit someday. I told her I would pass the word along.  

As the day wore on, the more nervous I became. Since there wasn’t much going on that afternoon, I turned my attention to writing a Hugo Award acceptance speech and a concession speech (which was published on File 770 that very evening). Everyone wished me luck but deep down, I knew that I was long shot to actually win. (And, as it turned out, I was right, finishing second in the nomination count and fifth overall in the vote standings.)

O. Donald Ekpeki and myself, photo by Juli Marr

At the Chicon 8 Hugo Award Reception, Mr. Ekpeki and I were recessed to the nines!

Hugo Award Fan Writer Finalists, photo by Juli Marr

Your 2022 Hugo Award Finalists in the Fan Writing Category; from left to right, Jason Sanford, myself, Paul Weimer and Bitter Karella. 

The Crowd gathers for the start of the Hugo Awards Ceremony.

My Date, My Love and My Partner, the lovely and vivacious Juli Marr.

My Fellow 2022 Hugo Award Finalist Steven H Silver and his partner, Elaine Silver. 

Chuck Serface

My Fellow 2022 Hugo Award Finalist Chuck Serface.

Our 2022 Hugo Award Ceremony Hosts, Annalee Newitz and Charlie Jane Anders.

Olav Rokne and Myself at the After Party, photo by Juli Marr

Two Hugo Losers commiserating, Olav Rokne and myself (being subtly photobombed by Vincent Docherty) at the Chengdu Hugo Reception.

Laura Moorman and myself, photo by Juli Marr

My daughter Laura and I at the Glasgow Bid Party.

My daughter Laura is seen here holding the 2022 Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation – Long Form for Dune (Part 1). The award was offered for photos by Chicon 8 Advisor Dave McCarty, whom we thank profusely for the opportunity.

SEPTEMBER 5TH AND 6TH

John Hertz and Myself, photo by Juli Marr

And it’s all over but the shouting. Here John Hertz and I are watching the proceedings, counting down until the dead dog parties start… 

Myself, Jonathan P. Brazee and Maurizio Manzieri, photo by Juli Marr

After Closing Ceremonies, Juli and I met author Col.Jonathan P. Brazee and Hugo Award Finalist (Best Professional Artist) Maurizio Manzieri outside the hotel on their way to an early dinner.   

Berger, Berger and Blat-Harkins

As we wind down a day after Chicon 8 has officially ended, we shared a final meal with Dan Berger, Terry Berger and Sooshe Blat Harkins, who were a tremendous help in the Chicon 8 Press Office. 

Your humble correspondents

A final portrait from Chicago of your humble correspondents, myself and Juli Marr. Until next time, Goodbye and Good Luck… 

Journey Planet 66: Robin Hood

By Steven H Silver: Robin Hood, whether you picture Errol Flynn, a fox, or the cover of a book by Howard Pyle, at Journey Planet Steven H Silver joins Christopher J. Garcia and James Bacon for this issue which looks at the legend of Robin Hood, historically, cinematically, and affectionately.

Lawrence Ellsworth, Jeff Berkwits, and Anthony Roche look at the various cinematic versions of the Robin Hood legend, each bringing their own take to what the outlaw from Sherwood Forest means.

Robin Hood’s adventures on the small screen are covered by James Bacon, Bonnie K. Jones, Michael A. Burstein, and Alissa Wales.

Tina L. Jens describes a vast array of cartoon depictions of Robin, not just by Disney, but featuring Tom & Jerry, Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Popeye, and less famous characters.

Laura Frankos shares her love of musicals with an article about a popular operetta based on Robin Hood that debuted in 1891 and helped chart the path for the American musical theatre.

Yilin Wang, David Stein, and Chris Garcia explore historical outlaws who share traits with the Robin Hood of legend.

James returns for a look at the comic The Real Robin Hood and Steven discusses Parke Godwin’s decision to set his novel Sherwood during the immediate aftermath of the Norman Conquest.

And finally, Graeme Davis interviews Robin Hood, or at least Tim Pollard, who has been the official Robin Hood of Nottingham and is a co-founder of the International League of Legends.

All this can be found in the latest issue of Journey Planet, available for download.

Pixel Scroll 10/3/22 My Positronic Brain It Teems With Endless Subroutines

(1) FANTASTIC FICTION AT KGB FUNDRAISER. Fantastic Fiction at KGB is a monthly speculative-fiction reading series held on the second Wednesday of every month at the KGB Bar in Manhattan, hosted by Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel. Admission is always free. To cover the next round of guest expenses, they have launched their first fundraiser in three years, with a $6,000 goal: “Fantastic Fiction reading series at the KGB Bar Gofundme”.

The monthly series, which has been running since the late 1990s , serves as a salon, where writers, editors, agents, and fans of science fiction, fantasy, and horror can co-mingle in a shared event space. The series also served a vital social function during multiple Covid lockdown periods, when we featured authors from all over the globe on our live YouTube channel, and people who were isolated due to the lockdown could keep in contact with the writing community. We also release a free podcast, where we post audio recordings of the monthly readings.

Running the series costs us money. We pay a stipend to our guests, we pay for their drinks at the bar, and we also take them out to dinner after the readings. At present, the series costs about $2,000 per year to run. Unfortunately, we are almost out of money from our last fundraiser three years ago. We hope to raise at least $6,000, which will fund the series for three more years. It would be great if we could raise more.

(2) BLACK PANTHER. “Show them who we are.” A new trailer for Marvel Studios’ Black Panther: Wakanda Forever dropped today. See it only in theaters beginning November 11.

(3) CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS — JOURNEY PLANET: ANTHROPOCENE RUMINATIONS. [Item by Olav Rokne and Amanda Wakaruk.] When Chris Garcia and James Bacon approached us to guest edit an edition of their Hugo-winning fanzine Journey Planet, they asked us “what subject would you most like to tackle?”

The answer was easy: climate fiction.

Climate change is the defining crisis of our age. Given that the causes of climate change are rooted in technological transformations celebrated by the past century of science fiction, enthusiasts like us have some responsibility to grapple with what it means.

The upcoming “Anthropocene Ruminations” will contain some of the various ways in which SFF fans are grappling with a rapidly heating and chaotic planet: through fiction, through art, through poetry, and through critical discourse. 

We’re hoping to have reviews of books depicting climate change, discussions of historical trends, and examinations of aspects of climate change that may have been neglected by genre fiction. 

We’d love to hear article and art pitches from across the fandom community (that means all y’all). Send us your ideas before October 15 (email BOTH of us at amanda.wakaruk at gmail dot com and olavrokne at gmail dot com). We’re aiming to have the finished works submitted by November 15. 

Will “Anthropocene Ruminations” singlehandedly solve climate change? It’s too early to say for certain. What it’s not too early to say is that it will contain some pieces by Hugo-finalist and Hugo-winning fanwriters.

Drop us a line. Amanda & Olav. Unofficial Hugo Book Club Blog co-editors

(4) KEEPING UP WITH CORA BUHLERT. The alumni newsletter of Bremen University, Kurzmeldungen, listed Cora Buhlert’s Hugo win.

Issue Zero of New Edge Sword & Sorcery Magazine published Cora’s article about C.L. Moore and Jirel of Joiry, as well as fiction and non-fiction by Howard Andrew Jones, Brian Murphy, Milton J. Davis, Nicole Emmelhainz, David C. Smith, Dariel R.A. Quiogue, Remco van Strane and Angeline B. Adams, Bryn Hammond, J.M. Clarke, T.K. Rex, Robin Marx and editor Oliver Brackebury. The digital edition is free, the print editions are fairly cheap.

And Cora has an essay about anime in West Germany in the 1970s and 1980s in Rising Sun Reruns: Memories of Japanese TV Shows from Today’s Grown-Up Kids.

In these pages you will find glowing memories of flights of fancy such as Ultraman, Johnny Sokko and His Flying Robot, Astro Boy, Battle of the Planets, Space Giants, Speed Racer, Robotech, and many, many more—including a few you may never even heard of!

(5) NOBEL PRIZE FOR PHYSIOLOGY OR MEDICINE. “Svante Pääbo Wins Nobel Prize for Unraveling the Mysteries of Neanderthal DNA”Smithsonian Magazine has the story.

The Nobel Committee for Physiology or Medicine awarded the field’s top prize on Monday to Svante Pääbo, a Swedish geneticist who determined how to extract and analyze DNA from 40,000-year-old Neanderthal bones. Pääbo’s decades of research have made it possible for scientists to begin probing differences between today’s modern humans and their ancient ancestors.

Pääbo, who is 67, has spent decades pioneering and perfecting new methods of extracting Neanderthal DNA, an extremely complex and challenging process. Over time, very old DNA degrades and can become polluted with the DNA of bacteria, and modern scientists can also easily contaminate it with their own genetic material.

But time and again, Pääbo found ways around these and other issues. In 2010, after years of painstaking work, Pääbo and his team published the sequenced Neanderthal genome, a feat that at one time was considered impossible, reports the New York Times’ Benjamin Mueller. As Elizabeth Kolbert wrote in her book The Sixth Extinction, the process was like trying to reconstruct a “Manhattan telephone book from pages that have been put through a shredder, mixed with yesterday’s trash, and left to rot in a landfill.”

…On Monday morning, Pääbo was just finishing a cup of tea when he got a call from Sweden. He assumed the call was bad news about his family’s summer home in Sweden and was instead surprised to learn he’d won the Nobel Prize. When asked whether he ever envisioned winning science’s most prestigious prize, Pääbo humbly replied that he “somehow did not think that this really would… qualify for a Nobel Prize,” per an interview posted on the Nobel Prize website….

Here’s a further excerpt from the Nobel’s “Svante Pääbo – Interview”.

…AS: Your work is of course on the sequencing of these early hominins. What does our knowledge, your knowledge of the genetic makeup of those species tell us about our relationship with them.

SP: Well, it does tell us that we are very closely related, first of all, and we’re actually so closely related that they have contributed quite directly, 50, 60 thousand years ago, DNA to the ancestors of most people today, those who have their roots outside Africa. And that variation that, sort of, those variants do have an influence, and influence many things in our physiology today.

AS: Do you think that changes our view of ourselves, knowing that?

SP: In some sense, I do think it does so, the sort of realisation that until quite recently, maybe 14 hundred generations or so ago there were other forms of humans around and they mixed with our ancestors and have contributed to us today. The fact that the last 40 thousand years is quite unique in human history, in that we are the only form of humans around. Until that time, there were almost always other types of humans that existed.

(6) A MOMENT IN SFF HISTORY. “Science Fiction In Communist Bloc Changed Forever 40 Years Ago” writes Jaroslav Olsa Jr., the Consul General of the Czech Consulate in Los Angeles.

In October 1982, the first issue of FANTASTYKA, Polish science fiction monthly reached its first readers. This was the first real science fiction magazine in the former Soviet bloc! And it had an enormous impact on science fiction in other neighbouring countries as the situation in Eastern Europe was significantly different than in Western Europe as all publishing business in Soviet bloc was under strict control of each state and its leading (often Communist) party. The publishing houses were operated and owned predominantely by state ministries or its subsidiaries, controlled more or less visibly by various types of censorship bodies and though in some Soviet bloc countries in different times publishing was allowed greater freedom (e. g. Yugoslavia, Hungary and/or 1980s Poland), there was never allowed a free press.

And thus even publishing SF fanzines was a sort of risky adventure…

Thank you late Adam Hollanek, late Maciej Parowski, late Andrzej Krzepkowski, Jacek Rodek, Andrzej Wójcik and many many others, who gave us Fantastyka, and who helped us to open the window to science fiction in the West and internationalize science fiction – something then a real novelty….

(7) MICKEY MOUSE CAPITALISM. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times behind a paywall, Elaine Moore discusses how Disney CEO Bob Chapek is concerned that people who show up at a Disney park every week are crowding out the occasional visitor who will spend a lot of money on stuff.

The problem is that super fans don’t spend as much per visit as occasional park visitors.  There are only so many Minnie Mouse headbands a person can wear.  For some, the annual pass that allows buyers to visit Disney parks throughout the year is extremely good value too.  A one day trip to Disney World in Florida is $109.  The annual Incredi Pass is $1,299 plus tax. Visit once a month and you break even.  Go every week and you’d save over $4,000.  The mismatch has shades of the MoviePass debacle, in which subscribers paid less than $10 per month for multiple cinema trips.  MoviePass guessed they might visit once or twice a month.  But their willingness to go day after day left the company bankrupt…

…At the recent D23 Expo there were complaints that passes were still suspended.  Unluckily for them, Chapek used to run the parks division.  He knows that demand is far higher than supply and is sufficiently unsentimental to take advantage.  Prices would double and visitors would pay them.  Disney fans may moan but they will still keep coming back.”

(8) ANTI-MUSLIM SENTIMENTS. The culture war is engulfing Bollywood reports the Guardian: “Bollywood under siege as rightwing social media boycotts start to bite”.

…For decades, India’s Hindi film industry, known as Bollywood, has been one of the country’s most popular products, for Indians themselves and the world at large. But the consolidation of Hindu nationalism under the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), has marked a cultural shift.

Laal Singh Chaddha stars, and is produced by, Aamir Khan, one of Hindi cinema’s trio of superstar Khans (Shahrukh and Salman are the other two, all unrelated). On its release, social-media platforms witnessed a tidal wave of targeted attacks calling for a boycott of the movie. The resurfacing of remarks made by Khan on the rise of “intolerance” in India in 2015, as well as clips from his 2014 film PK (which criticised blind-faith belief) were coupled with targeted tweets. Laal Singh Chaddha has fared poorly at the box office, but the calls for a boycott have not stopped. Other movies, such as Vikram Vedha, Dobaara, Shamshera and Brahmastra, are also in the line of fire, the last two owing to the recirculation of 11-year-old remarks by the lead actor, Ranbir Kapoor, on eating beef….

(9) SALES FIGURES. In the Washington Post, David Betancourt looks at the process that Hasbro uses to make 32-inch action figures that cost $399,99.  (The latest, Galactus, will be “a towering 32-inch monstrosity of plastic articulation.”)  Betancourt says Hasbro uses a crowdfunding method of deciding which giant action figures to make; they greenlit the huge Galactus last summer after 14,000 people agreed to buy it.) “Would you buy a $400 Marvel action figure? Thousands of people can’t wait.”

In comic books,Galactus is known as the devourer of worlds. When it comes to action figures, Galactus is now the destroyer of wallets.

Hasbro decided that its newest figure depicting the giant planet eater from Marvel’s Fantastic Four wouldn’t be the typical six-inch toy that retails inthe $20 to $30 range and decorates work desks and bookshelves. This Galactus,with a design based on the art of famed Marvel writer-artist John Byrne, would be a towering 32-inch-tall monstrosity of plastic articulation. The figure, scheduled for release some timethis fall, is the biggest toy Hasbro has ever built for its Marvel line, which is fitting, given Galactus’s gigantic stature….

(10) A FREE-TO-READ STORY. Sunday Morning Transport presents “A Hole in the Light” by Annalee Newitz, “an astounding new world wrapped around a stellar story of grief and growth.”

Arch had never been to a ritual of dissolution for someone who mattered.

Of course, there were distant kin who had died. But when they dissolved, it felt like they had moved to the next village: poignant, but not a disaster. The artificiality of the ritual made her more uncomfortable than their loss. Well, perhaps that wasn’t quite true. She had genuinely suffered when her physics teacher had died, and she could no longer ask questions about what lay beyond the village of Slope-Toward-Sea, on the planet Skiff, wrapped in the mottled glow of the eroding firmament. Even when her teacher dissolved, though, the ritual had seemed absurd….

(11) MEMORY LANE.  

2016 [By Cat Eldridge.] Six years ago on NBC the Timeless series debuted. (Yes, I do delve into the recent past on occasion). It would last but two seasons. (Yes, two seasons. Read below for why it was only two seasons, really.)

Not terribly original in concept, it involved a group that attempts to stop a mysterious organization from changing the course of history through time travel. 

It was created by Eric Kripke who of Supernatural series fame along with the later The Boys, and Shawn Ryan who’s done nothing else they genre wise but has created S.W.A.T. that I love and Lie to Me, a rather odd crime drama series I also like a lot. Yes, I have odd tastes.

Project Lifeboat, among its members, had a history professor, a Delta forces soldier, a computer programmer and a creator of the Lifeboat time machines. Ok I did say it wasn’t a terribly original concept, didn’t I so guess what? NBC got sued by the Spanish series El ministerio del tiempo (The Ministry of Time), which follows the adventures of a three-person team made up of two men and a woman who travel to the past with a view to preserving past events.  

It went to court but eventually “their attorneys of record hereby stipulate that the entire civil action may be and hereby is dismissed with prejudice, with each party bearing that party’s fees and costs of suit.” One assumes that large sums of money were involved. Isn’t there always money involved when such things need to be settled?

Getting back to the series, it was cancelled after the second season but a massive, and I do mean massive, fan campaign sort of saved it, so it got a special two-part finale. It originally didn’t make the cut for the next fall season but when they started getting a pushback from fans, NBC responded saying “And then we woke up the next morning, heard the outcry (from fans). We went back to the drawing board, with our partners at Sony, and we found a way to bring it back. It’s extraordinarily well produced and deserved to come back.”

Unlike many similar series, it was allowed a proper wrap-up. Fandango noted, “A fitting farewell, Timeless wraps with a fun, festive finale that ties up loose ends and provides enough fan service to satisfy.”

It carries a most excellent seventy-seven percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. It does not appear to be streaming for free anywhere. 

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 3, 1933 Norman Adams. The SF Encyclopedia says genre wise that “Adams may be best known for his cover for the first edition of Larry’s Niven’s World of Ptavvs” on Ballantine Books in 1966.  I must say having looked at his ISFDB listings that their assessment is absolutely right. (Died 2014.)
  • Born October 3, 1927 Don Bensen. Best-known for his novel And Having Writ… which is not in print in form digitally or in hard copy — damn it. Indeed, nothing by him is. Huh. (Died 1997.)
  • Born October 3, 1931 Ray Nelson, 91. SF writer best known for his short story “Eight O’Clock in the Morning” which was the basis of John Carpenter’s They Live.  He later collaborated with Philip K. Dick on The Ganymede Takeover. In the 1940s Nelson appropriated the propeller beanie as a symbol of science fiction fandom. His fannish cartoons were recognized with the Rotsler Award in 2003. He was inducted to the First Fandom Hall of Fame in 2019.
  • Born October 3, 1935 Madlyn Rhue. She on Trek’s “Space Seed” as Lt. Marla McGivers, Khan Noonien Singh’s (Ricardo Montalbán) love interest. Other genre appearances included being on the original Fantasy Island as Lillie Langtry in “Legends,” and Maria in the “Firefall” episode of Kolchak: The Night. (Died 2003.)
  • Born October 3, 1944 Katharine Kerr, 78. Ok I’m going to confess that I’ve not read her Deverry series so please tell me how they are. Usually I do read such Celtic tinged series so I don’t know how I missed them.
  • Born October 3, 1964 Clive Owen, 58. First role I saw him in was the title role of Stephen Crane in the Chancer series. Not genre, but fascinating none the less. He’s been King Arthur in film of the same name where Keira Knightley was Guinevere. He’s also was in Sin City as Dwight McCarthy, and in The Pink Panther (though weirdly uncredited) as Nigel Boswell/Agent 006. I’ll also single him out for being Commander Arun Filitt in Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets.
  • Born October 3, 1973 Lena Headey, 49. Many of you will know her as Cersei Lannister on Game of Thrones, but I liked her sociopathic Madeline “Ma-Ma” Madrigal on Dredd better.  She was also Angelika in The Brothers Grimm, a film I’m sure I’ve seen but remember nothing about. 

(13) COMICS SECTION.

(14) SURPRISE BEGINNING. John Grayshaw of the Middletown PA Public Library arranged for questions about Murray Leinster to be answered for his Online Science Fiction Book Club by Steven H Silver and the author’s daughter, Billee Stallings. See the Q&A here: “Interview about Murray Leinster”. Note: Murray Leinster was the pen name of Will Jenkins, but I never knew til now that H.L. Mencken was behind his decision to use one.

Damo Mac Choiligh: A trivial question perhaps, but where did he get the pseudonym ‘Leinster’? The word is the English version of the name of a region of Ireland, well known to any Rugby fans.

Billee: When Will was published in Smart Set magazine in his teens, H. L. Mencken put down the other magazines he was selling to and said he should use a pen name and save his own for the “good stuff” (ie; Smart Set). Dad selected Murray from his mother’s maiden name (Murry. Wyndham Martyn, an English writer for the magazine, suggested Leinster. Martyn (known for the Anthony Trent novels) told him the Fitzgeralds (Dad’s middle name) were descended from the Dukes of Leinster.

(15) A DIFFERENT KIND OF TIMELESS NEWS. In 2020, Alex Ross crafted over 30 extraordinary depictions of Marvel’s most beloved super heroes in a beautiful art piece known as Timeless. This iconic imagery was used to produce a best-selling variant cover program and now… it’s the villains turn.

The legendary artist’s newest art piece deviously unites 37 of Marvel’s classic villains! Capturing the menace, danger, and allure of characters like Green Goblin, Doctor Doom, and Thanos, this stunning group shot represents the definitive takes on Marvel’s deadliest foes straight from one the industry’s most revered talents! Look for this beautifully painted artwork to be used for a new series of variant covers starting in March 2023.

“The passion I held for illustrating many of Marvel’s heroes in a timeless representation was easily matched by the passion I felt for illustrating the villains,” Ross said. “Marvel clearly has some of the greatest concepts in the realm of supervillains as well as heroes.”

Find more information about Alex Ross’ new piece including which titles it’ll grace the covers of at Marvel.com.

(16) HERE THEY COME AGAIN. “’The Rings of Power’ Season 2 Has Started Filming” in the UK says The Hollywood Reporter.

The news follows the first official Nielsen ratings being released Thursday for the Prime Video series, showing The Rings of Power topped the streaming charts for its debut week with 1.3 billion minutes viewed (likely an Amazon series record given that only two hours were released).

The first season of the show was filmed in New Zealand over an epic stretch of 18 months during the pandemic. For season two, which will consist of eight episodes, Amazon switched the show’s production to the U.K., which is considered more economical and is also where the company is establishing a multishow hub….

(17) SCREEN TIME. Here are JustWatch’s September’s Sci-Fi Top 10 lists:

Rank*MoviesTV shows
1NopeQuantum Leap
2Everything Everywhere All at OnceThe Handmaid’s Tale
3Jurassic World DominionSeverance
4MoonfallWar of the Worlds
5AvatarThe Twilight Zone
6PreyOrphan Black
7Jurassic World: Fallen KingdomDoctor Who
8The ThingLa Brea
9Jurassic WorldThe X-Files
10Crimes of the FutureMoonhaven

*Based on JustWatch popularity score. Genre data is sourced from themoviedb.org

(18) MORE HOLLYWOOD BUZZ. The teaser trailer for the new Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania movie dropped Friday.

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

Pixel Scroll 2/17/22 I Have No Internet And I Must Stream

(1) BREATHTAKING. Here’s a chance to admire Nalo Hopkinson’s magnificent SFWA Grand Master award.

(2) SILVER Q&A. Sea Lion Press’ Gary Oswald has a conversation with a co-founder of the Sidewise Awards for Alternate History: “Interviewing the AH Community: Steven H Silver”.

In 2020, a Sea Lion Press story won a Sidewise Award for the first time. Most Sidewise winners are paper novels by major book publishers which sell in the thousands so it was exciting to us that an ebook by a minor publisher with more modest sales could win it. You’re obviously not the only judge but do you consider popularity or legitimacy at all or would you be happy to vote for a self published ebook with barely any sales if you felt the work was good enough?

I try to read each story or novel for the Sidewise Award pretending I know nothing of its provenance. I try to ignore who the author is, who published it, or the way it got to press. To me, it is about the story being told and the way it is told. I try to judge each book on two levels. Is it a good/interesting alternate history and is it a well written book. I’ve voted down books I like because they were strong in one of those two categories, but weak in the other. If the writing isn’t good, the concept doesn’t matter and if the writing is good but the alternate history is weak, it is hard to consider it a contender….

(3) WHO CAN RESIST CETACEANS? [Item by Ben Bird Person.] Artist JohannesVIII (@ViiiJohannes) did this piece of two humpback whales assimilated as Borg from Star Trek.

(4) FANHISTORY ZOOM. Fanac.org’s next Fan History Project Zoom Series presentation is happening on February 26. To RSVP, or find out more about the series, please send a note to [email protected]

  • Death Does Not Release You – LASFS Through the Years with Craig Miller (M), Tim Kirk, Ken Rudolph and Bobbi Armbruster

Date: February 26, 2022
Time: 4pm EST, 1pm PST, 9PM London, 8AM Sunday AEDT (Melbourne)

LASFS is unique – in its history and impact on fandom. LASFS has a clubhouse, a long list of professional writers that have been members, and has had an incredibly active fan group over the decades. Los Angeles area fandom has produced innumerable fanzines, six Los Angeles Worldcons (and many other conventions). Join us for a session with our real world AND fannishly accomplished participants – convention runners (including a Worldcon chair), a noted fan and professional artist, and a fanzine editor, all past or present LASFS members – in conversation about Los Angeles fandom from the inside.

Upcoming Fanac.org fanhistory Zooms are:

  • March 19 — Traveling Ghiants, Fan Funds from the Days of Mimeo to the Days of Zoom

Geri Sullivan (m), Lesleigh Luttrell (DUFF), Justin Ackroyd (GUFF) and Suzle Tompkins (TAFF)

4pm EDT, 1pm PDT, 8pm London, 7am AEDT (Melbourne) – 

  • April 23 — Fandom From Both Sides

Joe Haldeman and Gay Haldeman

2pm EDT, 11am PDT, 7pm London – 

(5) OMICRON AT ANIME NYC. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] The CDC has published a study of what ABC News identifies as the 2021 Anime NYC COVID-19/Omicron outbreak. The function isn’t named in the study, but details that are given match that convention. “Omicron spread quickly at convention in New York City — but boosters helped at ABC News.

…According to convention rules, attendees were required to have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose and wear masks indoors.

The first case was reported to the CDC by the Minnesota Department of Health on Dec. 2 in a man — called Patient A — who had flown to New York City for the convention, the report said.

For the report, the CDC teamed up with the MDH and state and local departments across the country interviewing Patient A, and 23 of his 29 close contacts from 13 states who also attended the convention.

Patient A had traveled to New York City on November 18. He was fully vaccinated and received a booster shot earlier in November, according to the authors.

However, he developed symptoms on Nov. 22 and subsequently tested positive for COVID-19, after which he notified all his close contacts, the report said.

Of the 23 attendees contacted, 16 tested positive for the virus, equating to an attack rate of 70%.

All the contacts were fully vaccinated, but only 11 had received a booster dose before going to the convention, according to the report. The authors indicate that having a booster dose lowered the odds of testing positive for COVID-19.

Ten of the 12 people, or 83%, who didn’t receive a booster tested positive for the virus while six of the 11 people, 55%, who tested positive were boosted, meaning there were 1.5 times fewer infections in boosted individuals….

(6) TEXMOOT CALL FOR PAPERS. Signum University is hosting a hybrid event, TexMoot 2022, whose theme is “Starships, Stewards, and Storytellers: How Imaginary Worlds Teach Us to Care for This One”. It takes place in Austin, TX on March 26. Registration costs $50 for on-site participants, $25 for online attendees, and $15 for students in either mode. To register, click here. The complete call for papers is here.

In 2022, Signum University’s Annual Texas Language and Literature Symposium (TexMoot) invites you to join us as we consider the ethical turn in speculative fiction: How do imaginary worlds teach us to care for this one?

From ecological concerns to social commentary, science fiction and fantasy offer readers a mirror through which to view our own world. For example, the struggles of a terraforming planet may remind us how precious and fragile is the one we live on. The real-world conflict between nature and technology comes to life on the page when trees march to war. We may find insights into how to interact with people around us by spending time with characters in a fellowship—or on a starship. 

At TexMoot 2022, you will explore questions like: How do we relate to the Other—the “monsters” and “aliens” beyond the bulkhead door? What roles can technology play in preserving nature or reinforcing what makes us human? Do humans change the nonhuman environment, or are they inevitably changed by it? Is there really a clear line between the human and the nonhuman, anyway? And whose responsibility is it to preserve “civilization” and transmit its legacy to future generations?

TexMoot 2022 will also investigate the ways authors convey these commentaries. What literary techniques best serve the message; at what point does a work cross the line into propaganda? When does the message serve the story, and when does the story serve the message?

The TexMoot Team is looking for both traditional academic papers (of about 15 minutes) and shorter discussion prompts in which the presenter talks for 5 minutes and ends with a provocative question to start a roundtable discussion. Presentations and discussion topics can be more academic or popular, according to your preference and experience. 

(7) STRANGER THINGS GETS FIFTH SEASON. The airdates for the fourth season of Stranger Things have been announced, as has the greenlit fifth and last season. Deadline has the story, and a gallery of promotional posters. “’Stranger Things’ Renewed For Fifth And Final Season, Gets Premiere Dates For Split Season 4 On Netflix”.

Stranger Things, a signature show for Netflix since its premiere in 2016, has been renewed for a fifth and final season.

In addition to the climactic renewal, the company said the long-awaited Season 4 of the show will premiere in two “volumes,” the first on May 27 and the second on July 1. In an open letter to fans (read it in full below), co-creators Matt and Ross Duffer said the split season resulted from the season’s nine episodes having a total running time twice as long as that of any previous season.

The Duffer Bros noted that the full arc was expected to be “four or five” seasons when they first envisioned the show, so the end is not a surprise. Plus, it won’t be the end of the franchise, they promised.

“There are still many more exciting stories to tell within the world of Stranger Things: new mysteries, new adventures, new unexpected heroes,” they wrote. “But first we hope you stay with us as we finish this tale.”

(8) IT HAPPENED TO JANE. You may not be able to watch Natalie Portman gear up as Thor just yet, but you can pre-order an action figure of her. Gizmodo offers “Thor Love and Thunder Natalie Portman as Thor First Look”, but it comes with a spoiler warning.

While movie studios like Marvel like to keep all details about their films under complete wraps, there’s one truth they simply cannot get around: It takes a long time to make merchandise, especially action figures. That’s why they’re often the first looks at movie outfits and characters, and it’s why we’re getting this first look at Natalie Portman as Jane Foster as the Mighty Thor in the upcoming Thor: Love and Thunder. In related news, she’s awesome—as regular Thor’s new movie outfit, which you can also see here!…

(9) RIDE WITH THE SPACE COWBOY. Simultaneous Times science fiction podcast episode 48 is live, featuring short stories by F.J. Bergmann and Toshiya Kamei with original soundtracks by Phog Masheen and RedBlueBlackSilver. “Simultaneous Times Ep.48 – F.J. Bergmann & Toshiya Kamei”. Simultaneous Times is a monthly science fiction podcast produced by Space Cowboy Books in Joshua Tree, CA.

(10) FAREN MILLER (1950-2022). Faren Miller, a Locus staffer and contributor for 37 years, died February 15 at the age of 71 reports Locus Online. Miller was hired by Locus in 1981, and her last review column for the magazine was in 2018. Her only published novel, The Illusionists (1991), was a finalist for the William Crawford – IAFA Fantasy Award for first fantasy book.

(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1989 [Item by Cat Eldridge] Thirty-three years ago, the first film of what would become the Bill & Ted franchise, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, premiered on this day. It was directed by Stephen Herek as written by Chris Matheson, son of author Richard Matheson, and Ed Solomon, writer of the first Men in Black film, who would write all three of these films. 

Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, of course, stars Keanu Reeves, Alex Winter and George Carlin. (I met the latter many years ago. A rather nice gentleman he was.) Two out of the three had successful careers after this, one really didn’t. 

It was a box office triumph earning back forty million against a modest budget of just ten million.

Critics generally hated it. The New York Times in reviewing it flatly stated that it was a “painfully inept comedy”. And the Los Angeles Times said that it was an “unabashed glorification of dumbness for dumbness’ sake”. Dissenting from this unrelenting hostility, the Radio Times cheerfully said ir was a “flawless, purpose-built junk movie”. 

So how do audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes view it now? Well, they give it a most bodacious seventy-five percent rating. 

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born February 17, 1912 Andre Norton. She penned well over a dozen series, but her major series was Witch World which began rather appropriately with Witch World in 1963. The first six novels in that series were Ace Books paperback originals published in the Sixties. I remember them with fondness quite some decades after reading them. (Died 2005.)
  • Born February 17, 1913 David Duncan. A screenwriter and novelist who was nominated twice for Hugos, first for being writing the screenplay for The Time Machine at Seacon, and for the same work on Fantastic Voyage at NyCon 3. He also wrote Time Machine: The Journey Back sequel to The Time Machine. And he wrote The Outer Limits’ “The Human Factor” episode. (Died 1999.)
  • Born February 17, 1939 Kathy Keeton. Founder and publisher of the now defunct Omni. It was founded by her and her partner and future husband Bob Guccione, the publisher of the also defunct Penthouse. It would publish a number of stories that have become genre classics, such as Card’s “Unaccompanied Sonata”, Gibson’s “Burning Chrome” and “Johnny Mnemonic” and George R. R. Martin’s “Sandkings” to name a few of the stories that appeared there. (Died 1997.)
  • Born February 17, 1954 Don Coscarelli, 68. A film director, producer, and screenwriter best known for horror films. His credits include the Phantasm series, The Beastmaster, and Bubba Ho-Tep, the latter based a novella by Joe R. Lansdale whom I’ve met and who is a really nice person.
  • Born February 17, 1971 Denise Richards, 51. Her first genre role was as Tammy in Tammy and the T-Rex (really don’t ask). Her next role was the one she’s known for as Carmen Ibañez in Starship Troopers. A few years later she’ll be Dr. Christmas Jones in The World Is Not Enough, the eighteenth Bond film. She played Victoria Dare in Timecrafters: The Treasure of Pirate’s Cove.
  • Born February 17, 1975 Jerry O’Connell, 47. Quinn Mallory on Sliders, a series whose behind-the-broadcast politics is too tangled to detail here. His first SF role was on Mission to Mars as Phil Ohlmyer with the SF dark comedy Space Space Station 76 with him as Steve being his next role. He’s done a lot of of DCU voice work, Captain Marvel in Superman/Shazam!: The Return of Black Adam, Clark Kent / Superman in Justice League vs. Teen Titans and Justice League: Throne of AtlantisJustice League DarkThe Death of Superman and Reign of the Supermen where he also plays Cyborg Superman to great, chilling effect. The latter film is kickass excellent.

(13) SUBSCRIBERS MUST SQUINT. According to Polygon, “recent updates have made it harder to read, shop, and publish on the U.S.’s most popular digital comics platform” — “Amazon’s big Comixology changes ignite concern from comic book creators, fans”.

This week Amazon, launched a new app for its digital comics platform, Comixology, and a new Amazon-native online storefront that will eventually replace Comixology’s browser-based store and reader. But the new changes have alarmed both users and creators.

Long-time Comixology users have taken to social media to list all the ways the new web and app user experience represents a step backward from what they’re used to. Chief among the many complaints is a new web reader that doesn’t display double page spreads correctly, has removed creator credits from book listings on the storefront, and lacks both panel-by-panel and zoom functions, rendering most comics in illegibly small images….

(14) MISSING A PART OF THE FUTURE. Voice acting veterans Mark Hamill, Tara Strong, Kari Wahlgren, and Charlie Adler call out Hulu, which is reviving Futurama but hasn’t been willing to meet the terms of Bender’s voice John DiMaggio: “Futurama Hulu revival: Actors supporting John DiMaggio” at SYFY Wire.

A number of established Hollywood veterans have come to the side of John DiMaggio as the actor continues to clash with Hulu and 20th Century Studios over proper compensation for the streamer’s upcoming revival of Futurama.

The official announcement of the beloved series’ return from co-creators Matt Groening and David X. Cohen was slightly marred by the fact that DiMaggio (who voices foul-mouthed robot Bender and a plethora of supporting characters) was the only member of the original cast who had not signed on for the revival. It was soon reported that the show would recast Bender in the wake of contract negotiations stalling out. If talks have ended for good between both parties, some fans say they won’t be tuning in if DiMaggio isn’t brought back for the 20 additional episodes slated to premiere sometime next year (production kicks off this month)….

(15) STORYLIVING BY DISNEY. Love Disney parks so much you’d want to live in one?  Now you can (sort of). “Disney is developing planned communities for fans who never want to leave its clutches”The Verge will fill you in.

Disney has launched a new business for fans who can’t bear to leave the pristine, family-friendly world the corporation has nurtured through its theme parks and media ventures.

“Storyliving by Disney” will operate as part of the company’s theme parks division, developing a series of master-planned communities for residential living, designed by Disney’s creative staff and offering the same pampered tranquility found in its resorts.

“Picture an energetic community with the warmth and charm of a small town and the beauty of a resort,” said Disney Parks, Experiences and Products exec Helen Pak in a promotional video.

Only one location has been announced so far: a community of 1,900 housing units named Cotino that will be built in the city of Rancho Mirage in California’s Coachella Valley (a location where Walt Disney himself once lived)….

(16) SPLISH SPLASH, YOU’LL BE TAKIN’ A BATH. [Item by Michael Toman.] I can’t be the only Filer who would be interested in reading this Kim Stanley Robinson nightmare scenario, with or without fires and earthquakes. What will California’s coast look like in 100 years? “We’re Kind of Built on This Knife’s Edge” at Alta.

Eighteen thousand years ago, give or take, the continental shelf 30 miles off the coast of San Francisco was exposed as a wide, flat coastal plain with an extensive system of dunes and river valleys connecting the Farallon Islands to the continental United States, which didn’t go by that name. Farther north, salt waters from the Pacific Ocean stretched all the way inland to present-day Sacramento.

Rising sea levels have continued to erode the shoreline ever since, as human beings established a society they would eventually call California. Some of our biggest cities were built in this 10 miles of dynamic coastline.

“We often think of the California coast as this high-relief terrain with active tectonics, which it is, but we’ve put millions of people in the lowest parts of the entire state, like the San Diego Bay, the San Francisco Bay, and the Los Angeles Basin,” says Patrick Barnard, the research director of the climate impacts and coastal processes team at USGS Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center in Santa Cruz….

(17) YAKKITY-YAK. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Not satisfied with something commonplace like a robotic dog, China is going for a robotic yak. They are said to be essentially ready for troop support, but Popular Mechanics isn’t buying it. “China’s New ‘Robotic Yak’ Will Support Ground Troops, But It’s Not as Capable as It Seems”.

Chinese engineers are developing a large, four-legged robotic “yak,” supposedly capable of hauling as much cargo as two real yaks. The unnamed robot—which seems destined for military use—is similar to the robo-dog concept that Waltham, Massachusetts-based Boston Dynamics has popularized over the last decade. But a careful reading of the video shows that it may just be a bunch of Chinese Communist Party propaganda.

Supported by its four spindly legs and barrel-shaped body, the robot is topped off with a cargo-carrying metal rack. Global Times, a Chinese tabloid with links to the Chinese government, claims it can carry up to 160 kilograms (352 pounds) and travel at up to 6.21 miles per hour. It cites the Chinese Communist Party news site People’s Daily as saying the robot was “the world’s largest, heaviest and most off-road-capable of its kind.”…

…. Robo-yak isn’t going anywhere anytime soon for the same reasons the Marines never pursued LS3: robots run on batteries and once the batteries run down, it takes hours—at a place with abundant power to spare, which is not exactly the desert—to recharge them. 

(18) THE BOYS ARE BACK IN TOWN. “Homelander’s Vought Origin Story Shown In The Boys Diabolical Trailer”Screen Rant sets the frame:

Set within the same universe as its parent series, The Boys: Diabolical acts as an eight-part collection of animated short films exploring a range of stories related to the corrupt superhero world that fans of The Boys have come to know and love. Each episode will run between 12 and 14 minutes and feature a unique animation style

(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Game Trailers: It Takes Two,” Fandom Games says the gimmick of this game is that you’re supposed to play it with your partner and preserve your marriage.  But the narrator says a better test is to “Play Cuphead with your wife, because if your marriage can survive that, it can survive anything!”

[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Steven H Silver, Chris Barkley, 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 Randall M.]

“Cancelled Too Soon” Is Theme of Journey Planet 58

Hugo Award winning fanzine Journey Planet’s issue 58, co-edited by Steven H Silver, Evan Reeves, James Bacon, and Chris Garcia, is themed “Cancelled Too Soon” and explores television shows from the ‘60s to the ‘10s that were cancelled within two seasons of their debut.  

Ranging from for the four-episode Wonderfalls to the impressive single season of 85 episodes of Battle of the Planets, the writers share their favorite shows that disappeared as well as shows that acquired another life in syndication, video release, or streaming.

Featuring more than 55,500 words covering 31 television shows with authors ranging from Alan Smale to Rich Horton to Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki the authors welcome you to the shows that helped shape their imaginations. The issue includes articles on Dark Skies by showrunner Bryce Zabel, on StrangeLuck by screenwriter Michael Cassutt, on The Middleman by screenwriter Margaret Dunlap, and on FlashForward by Robert J. Sawyer, upon whose novel the show was based.

Download Journey Planet 58: Cancelled Too Soon at the link.  This is the fourth issue of Journey Planet co-edited by Steven H Silver and the first with Evan Reeves.

Sidewise Awards Contenders for 2019 and 2020

The nominees for the Sidewise Awards for Alternate History for calendar years 2019 and 2020 have been announced. 

2019 SHORT FORM

  • Seanan McGuire: “Any Way the Wind Blows,” Tor.com, 6/19
  • Christopher G. Nuttall, “Drang Nach Osten,” Trouble in the Wind, edited by Chris Kennedy and James Young, Theogony Books, 2019
  • Christopher G. Nuttall, “The Kaiserin of the Seas,” To Slip the Surly Bonds, edited by Chris Kennedy and James Young, Theogony Books, 2019
  • William Stroock, “The Blue and the Red: Palmerston’s Ironclads,” Those in Peril, edited by Chris Kennedy and James Young, Theogony Books, 2019
  • Harry Turtledove, Christmas Truce, Asimov’s, 11/19

2019 LONG FORM

  • K. Chess, Famous Men Who Never Lived, Tin House, 2019
  • Jared Kavanagh, Walking through Dreams, Sea Lion Press, 2019
  • John Laband, The Fall of Rorke’s Drift, Greenhill, 2019
  • Annalee Newitz, Future of Another Timeline, Tor, 2019

2020 SHORT FORM

  • Andrew J. Harvey: “1827: Napoleon in Australia,” Alternate Australias, edited by Jared Kavanagh, Sea Lion Press, 2020
  • Matthew Kresal: “Moonshot,” Alternate Australias, edited by Jared Kavanagh, Sea Lion Press, 2020
  • Sean McMullen, “Wheel of Echoes,” Analog, 1/20

2020 LONG FORM

  • Dennis Bock, The Good German, Patrick Crean Editions, 2020
  • Junior Burke, The Cold Last Swim, Gibson House Press, 2020
  • Mary Robinette Kowal, The Relentless Moon, Tor, 2020
  • Charles Rosenberg, The Day Lincoln Lost, Hanover Square, 2020
  • Adrian Tchaikovsky, The Doors of Eden, Pan McMillan, 2020

In addition, several of the judges wanted to call attention to Elektra Hammond’s 2019 short story “O-Rings,” which appeared in the anthology Alternate Peace, which is ineligible for nomination since Sidewise Administrator Steven H Silver was the anthology’s editor.

The winners will be announced during this year’s Worldcon, DisCon III. The Sidewise Awards have been presented annually since 1995 to recognize excellence in alternate historical fiction.

This year’s panel of judges was made up of Karen Hellekson, Matt Mitrovich, Olav Rokne, Kurt Sidaway, and Steven H Silver. Silver also noted, “We regret that earlier this year long-time Sidewise Award judge Jim Rittenhouse passed away.”

The Sidewise Awards for Alternate History were conceived in late 1995 to honor the best allohistorical genre publications of the year. The first awards were announced in summer 1996 and honored works from 1995. The award takes its name from Murray Leinster’s 1934 short story “Sidewise in Time,” in which a strange storm causes portions of Earth to swap places with their analogs from other timelines.

2021 Cordwainer Smith Rediscovery Award

The 2021 Cordwainer Smith Rediscovery Award honoree is D.G. Compton. The selection was announced this weekend at Readercon 31.

Compton’s 1970 novel The Steel Crocodile was nominated for the Nebula Award, and his 1974 novel The Continuous Katherine Mortenhoe was filmed as Death Watch by Bertrand Tavernier in 1979. His 1980 novel Ascendancies was on the “100 Must-Read Science Fiction Novels” list created by Stephen E. Andrews and Nick Rennison in 2006.  He was named a SFWA Author Emeritus in 2007.

D.G. Compton

The Cordwainer Smith Rediscovery Award has been given annually since 2001 by the Cordwainer Smith Foundation, preserving the memory of science-fiction writer Paul Linebarger, who wrote under that pen name. The Cordwainer Smith Rediscovery Award honors under-read science fiction and fantasy authors with the intention of drawing renewed attention to the winners.

The award is presented at Readercon, and is sponsored by Paul Linebarger’s estate, represented by B. Diane Martin.

The 2021 jury consisted of  Steven H Silver, Richard Horton, and Grant Thiessen. See the award discussion they did for Readercon on YouTube.

Pixel Scroll 5/16/21 The Dinosaurs That Fall On You From Nowhere

(1) DESIGNS FOR THE TIMES. Jane Frank reviewed a portfolio project by famed sff artist Richard Powers as a vehicle for studying his career and influence: “Richard Powers: The World of fFlar” at NeoText.

…Powers happily obliged, by portraying the Portfolio as a single story told in 16 (17, if you include the cover) illustrations even though the very first painting reproduced in the portfolio, The Ur-City of fFlar, cropped on the right, began life in 1958 as the cover to the fourth in a popular digest anthology series Star Science Fiction, edited by Frederik Pohl. And the same image served further duty, cropped on the left side this time, as the cover for The Deep by John Crowley, published by Berkley, 1976.

This use, and re-use of imagery, I should add, was common for Powers’ – who excelled in “re-purposing” his art, both to gain monetarily from additional usages, but also to save time. He had no qualms about cutting up and pasting portions of existing artworks in order to fashion “new” illustrations, and publishers either didn’t realize it, or didn’t care. Not only the images themselves, but also certain compositional elements, can be spotted on other covers, as if both publishers and Powers himself enjoyed creating variations on a favored theme . . . and there are fans of Powers’ art who make a sport out of discovering such connections. The humorous caption for The Ur City of fFlar indeed suggests that Powers was well aware of several uses to which one painting could be put:

Jane Frank also did an analysis of the paperback covers and other works of an iconic sff artist in “Paul Lehr: Unexpected Rhythms” at NeoText.

binary comment

…Freed from the need to produce garish imagery designed to lure adolescent readers to buy magazines, Lehr soon developed his own unique voice and palette.

One of Lehr’s studio experiments ended up being his first published cover.

“I constructed spaceships out of wire, cardboard toilet paper tubes, ping pong balls and the like, making strange looking ships. I painted them silver and white, and hung them up as still lifes against dark backgrounds, shining a strong light upon them, embellishing them with stars, bursts of fire, and other bits of painterly cosmic excitement. I also bought model kits and assembled them in crazy ways. A B-17 would become a moonlander or shuttleboat.” (Visions of Never” 2009)…

(2) INCREDIBLE BABEL. Cora Buhlert’s latest contribution to Galactic Journey is a review about the brand-new-in-1966 novel Babel-17 by Samuel R. Delany: “[MAY 16, 1966] SPIES, POETS AND LINGUISTS: BABEL-17 BY SAMUEL R. DELANY”

With so much grim news in the real world, you just want to escape into a book. So I was happy to find Babel-17, the latest science fiction novel by Samuel R. Delany, in the spinner rack at my local import bookstore. The blurb promised a mix of space opera and James Bond style spy adventure, which sounded right up my alley….

(3) JOHNNY B BAD. “The Ballad of Russell & Julie”, performed a decade ago, is a hysterical “Musical Tribute to the Creators of the Rebooted ‘Doctor Who’ Series” as Laughing Squid explains. It’s newsworthy for a line that alludes to the kind of behavior which saw John Barrowman back in the headlines this week. (Around the 2:02 mark.)

During a Doctor Who wrap party in 2011, actors David TennantCatherine Tate, and John Barrowman performed “The Ballad of Russell and Julie,” a musical tribute to Russell T. Davies (RTD) and Julie Gardner, the creators of the new version of Doctor Who, which was first broadcast ten years ago today. The tribute pokes gentle fun at RTD’s smoking uncertainty and Gardner’s incredible confidence.

(4) PREDICTING STAR TREK. And there’s still time for you to add your guess to Galactic Journey’s poll about what that soon-to-premiere TV show Star Trek will be like. (Is the second choice below really a title? It looks like a code off my phone bill.)

(5) WELL-MET IN LAKE GENEVA. James Maliszewski, who runs the RPG blog Grognardia, has dug up a 1976 report about GenCon IX by none other than Fritz Leiber:  “Fritz Leiber at GenCon”.

Earlier this month, I posted an image of an article penned by author Fritz Leiber that appeared in the San Francisco Examiner on September 5, 1976. Leiber recounts his experiences as guest of honor at GenCon IX and, as one might expect, what he writes is of great interest. He begins by briefly recounting the recent history of wargaming, starting with the publication of Gettysburg by Avalon Hill in 1958. (Why he starts there rather than with Tactics in 1954, I am not sure) 

Moving on from that, he speaks of GenCon, the “oldest gathering of tabletop generals in America,” which is “held at the pleasant Wisconsin resort-town near Chicago.

(6) ESFS AWARDS OPEN. The European Science Fiction Society is gathering nominations for the Next ESFS Awards.

Nominations are now open for the ESFS Awards that will be held at the 2021 Eurocon in Fiuggi, 15th to 18th July. The last day nominations will be accepted is Tuesday 15th June 2021. This is also the last day that bids for future Eurocons will be accepted for discussion in the Business Meeting, and the last day that topics to be raised in the Business Meeting will be accepted.

There should only be a single nomination from each country, as selected by their own rules. In the event of multiple nominations from one country, only matching nominations or nominations without a competing name will be accepted. In the event that all ballots from one country contain different names, there will be no nominees accepted for that country.

Nominations are made for a country by representatives of that country. If you are not familiar with how your country chooses its nominations, the EuroSMOF Facebook group is a good place to connect with other Eurocon attendees from your country.

Before nominating, read the list of current awards and their requirements, and the Awards FAQ.

(7) MONSTROUS FUN FOR TOURISTS. Travel Awaits encourages you to come and look for yourself: “Unicorns, Kelpies, And Wulvers: 7 Of Scotland’s Most Captivating Mythical Creatures”.

You probably know about the Loch Ness Monster, but have you ever heard of kelpies or wulvers?

Scots are legendary storytellers (they even host an International Storytelling Festival), and their culture is rich with imaginary creatures — or, perhaps, creatures not so imaginary… Here are some of my favorites. 

1. Unicorns 

No list of Scottish mythical creatures would be complete without mentioning Scotland’s national animal — the infamous unicorn, which adorns the country’s royal coat of arms. In Celtic mythology, the unicorn represents both purity and power, innocence and dominance. The creature has been part of Scotland’s ethos for centuries….

Pro Tip: Unicorns are ubiquitous in Scotland! The Palace of HolyroodhouseEdinburgh CastleCraigmillar Castle, and St Giles’ Cathedral — all in Edinburgh — sport unicorns. But, really, anywhere you go in Scotland, you can find a unicorn. Consider visiting on National Unicorn Day (celebrated on April 9) to get your unicorn fix. 

(8) FOLLOW THE BOUNCERS. On “The Muppet Show” on Saturday Night Live: “Security! Security!  Statler and Waldorf are causing trouble again!”

(9) RITTENHOUSE OBIT. Juris doctor, conrunner and Sidewise Award judge Jim Rittenhouse (1957-2021)  died May 16.

Steven H Silver paid tribute on Facebook.

I woke up to the news that my longtime friend and fellow Sidewise Award judge Jim Rittenhouse has lost his final battle. Jim welcomed me into fandom early and we discovered our shared love for alternate history. While working on my first Windycon under the auspices of the late Ross Pavlac, Ross was listening to Jim and me discuss alternate history and at the next meeting he presented each of us with Captain Midnight decoders, so he would be able to understand what we were talking about in the future.

Eventually Jim founded the Apazine Point of Divergence, which I was a founding member of and stayed with for a while. I later invited Jim to become a judge for the Sidewise Award for Alternate History, for which he was one of the longest serving judges.

Jim had a deep and personal interest in Chinese history and last year when I was working on my story “The Prediscovered Country,” we discussed the history of the Ming Dynasty to figure out what a Chinese colony in Australia would look like. In return, I modeled the Dutch character De Bruijn after Jim.

There will probably be a memorial service for Jim at either Windycon or Capricon.

May his memory be for a blessing.

(10) MEMORY LANE.

  • 1953 – Sixty-eight years ago, Alfred Bester’s Demolished Man wins a Hugo for Best Novel. It was first serialized in three parts, beginning with the January 1952 issue of Galaxy Science Fiction. The novel is dedicated to Galaxy’s editor, H. L. Gold, who made writing ideas to Bester. Bester’s suggested title was Demolition!, but Gold talked him out of it. It would be his only Hugo Award. 

(11) TODAY’S DAY.

National Mimosa Day – They’re celebrating the six-time Hugo-winning fanzine at Fanac.org.

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born May 16, 1918 – Colleen Browning.  Set designer, illustrator, lithographer, painter.  A Realist in the face of Abstract Realism and Abstract Expressionism, she later turned to Magic Realism blurring the real and imaginary.  Here is Union Mixer.  Here is Mindscape.  Here is The Dream.  (Died 2003) [JH]
  • Born May 16, 1920 – Patricia Marriott.  Cover artist and illustrator, particularly for Joan Aiken; a score of covers, as many interiors.  Here is Black Hearts in Battersea.  Here is A Small Pinch of Weather.  (Died 2002) [JH] 
  • Born May 16, 1925 – Pierre Barbet.  Author and (under another name) pharmacist.  Towards a Lost FutureBabel 3805; space opera, heroic fantasy, alternative history. In The Empire of Baphomet an alien tries to manipulate the Knights Templar; in Stellar Crusade the knights go into Space after him; six dozen novels, plus shorter stories, essays.  (Died 1995) [JH]
  • Born May 16, 1937 —  Yvonne Craig. Batgirl on Batman, and that green skinned Orion slave girl Marta on “Whom Gods Destroy” on the original Trek. She also one-offs in The Man from U.N.C.L.E.The Wild Wild WestVoyage to The Bottom of the SeaThe Ghost & Mrs. MuirLand of the GiantsFantasy Island and Holmes and Yo-Yo. (Died 2015.) (CE)
  • Born May 16, 1942 – Judith Clute, age 79.  Two dozen covers, thirty interiors.  Here is the Dec 90 Interzone.  Here is Chip Crockett’s Christmas Carol.  Here is Pardon This Intrusion.  Here is Stay.  [JH]
  • Born May 16, 1944 — Danny Trejo, 77. Trejo is perhaps most known as the character Machete, originally developed by Rodriguez for the Spy Kids films. He’s also been on The X-FilesFrom Dusk till DawnLe JaguarDoppelgangerThe Evil WithinFrom Dusk Till Dawn 2: Texas Blood MoneyMuppets Most Wanted and more horror films that I care to list here. Seriously he’s really done a lot of really low-budget horror films. (CE)
  • Born May 16, 1953 — Pierce Brosnan, 68. James Bond in a remarkably undistinguished series of such films. Dr. Lawrence Angelo in The Lawnmower Man,and he was lunch, errr, Professor Donald Kessler in Mars Attacks! and Mike Noonan in Bag of Bones. (CE) 
  • Born May 16, 1953 – Lee MacLeod, age 68.  Four dozen covers, plus interiors, for us.  Lee MacLeod SF Art Trading Cards.  BatmanHoward the DuckPocahontas (i.e. Disney’s).  Air Force Art Program.  Here are two covers for The Mote in God’s Eye from 1993 and 2000.  For his fine art e.g. plein air, see here.  [JH]
  • Born May 16, 1962 — Ulrika O’Brien, 59. A Seattle-area fanzine fan, fanartist, con-running fan, and past TAFF winner. Her list of zines in Fancyclopedia 3 is quite amazing —  Fringe, Widening Gyre and Demi-TAFF Americaine (TAFF Newsletter). Her APAzines include Mutatis Mutandis, and APA memberships include APA-L, LASFAPAMyriad and Turbo-APA. U. O’Brien won Best Fanartist in the 2021 FAAn (Fan Activity Achievement) Awards. (CE) 
  • Born May 16, 1968 — Stephen Mangan, 53, Voiced Bigwig, Silverweed and Shale in the 1999 Watership Down series, Green Javelins in the Hyperdrive SF comedy series, and Dirk Gently in that series after the pilot. (CE) 
  • Born May 16, 1969 — David Boreanaz, 52. Am I the only one that thought Angel was for the most part a better series than Buffy? And the perfect episode was I think “Smile Time” when Angel gets turned into a puppet. It even spawned its own rather great toy line including of course an Angel puppet. (CE) 
  • Born May 16, 1978 – Marion Poinsot, age 43.  Illustrator of comics, role-playing games.  In the audio series The Keep [«le donjon»of Naheulbeuk by John Lang, here is MP’s Quilt of Oblivionhere is Chaos Under the Mountain.  Here is a poster for her Nina Tonnerre.  Here is Perle the black dragon.  [JH]

(13) COMICS SECTION.

(14) AUDIO FICTION. The latest episode of the Simultaneous Times podcast from Space Cowboy Books includes Jean-Paul Garnier reading Cora Buhlert’s short story “Little Monsters” and “Hidden Underneath” by Toshiya Kamei.

(15) WORKING ON THE RAILROAD. In the Washington Post, Stuart Miller interviews five actors on The Underground Railroad about their work on the Amazon Prime show. “Filming ‘The Underground Railroad’ was grueling. But the cast grasped ‘the weight of what we were doing.’”

…So while Mbedu always felt well cared for during filming — there was a guidance counselor on set “to bring me back to myself,” she says, and Jenkins himself “was always checking up on me” — the supportive cast and crew understood that putting on the chains and the burdens of being Black in antebellum America naturally took a toll.

“I had to have tricks, like moving through the set with my eyes downcast, so that when I opened my eyes I’d be experiencing everything only as Cora, because otherwise it would be too much for Thuso to take in,” Mbedu says.

The South African actress grew up in the immediate aftermath of apartheid and, like Cora, lost her parents at a young age. But she drew a sharp border between her life and Cora’s, relying on “a whole lot of research” to bring the character’s vocal, physical and psychological journey to life.

“The one time in the past where I made the mistake of trying to draw from my own experience, my brain went, ‘That was too traumatizing, we’re shutting down now.’ I can empathize, but I cannot personalize because it’s too traumatic to relive.”…

(16) IRREPLACEABLE. The Guardian gets Patrick Ness’ reaction to various books he’s read. One genre author stands out: “Patrick Ness: ‘Terry Pratchett makes you feel seen and forgiven’”.

My comfort read
Discworld by Terry Pratchett. I am always at some point through the cycle (I’m currently on The Thief of Time). They’re not only gloriously funny, they’re humane in a way that makes you actually feel seen and forgiven, with all your faults. He was a one-off, Sir Terry. When I finish reading them through, I simply put the last book down and pick the first one up again.

(17) GREATEST OF ALL TIME TRAVEL. Ryan Britt makes a daring claim at Inverse: “The best time-travel show of all time is streaming for free right now”. And that show is? Quantum Leap!

…Trying to figure out the actual sci-fi rules of Quantum Leap is a bad idea. As stated in the voice-over, Sam Beckett “stepped into the quantum leap accelerator and vanished.” The premise of the series is that his consciousness is transferred into various people’s bodies — regardless of gender — throughout time. Once Sam shows up in one of these bodies, a holographic projection from his associate Al (Dean Stockwell) advises him on what he’s supposed to accomplish in whatever historical period he’s found himself in.

Basically, Quantum Leap is a paint-by-numbers science fiction drama. Every episode begins with Sam trying to acclimate to his new body, while Al tells him the stakes. Despite the fact that Al is assisted by a super-computer named “Ziggy,” there’s never a clear path for what Sam is supposed to do. His essential mission — which is ill-defined — is to “set right what once went wrong” — but what that means exactly is relatively opaque until the end of each episode. This makes zero sense. It’s also brilliant.

[Thanks to John Hertz, Andrew (not Werdna), Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Michael Toman, Cora Buhlert, John King Tarpinian, Rich Lynch, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit goes to contributing editor of the day OGH.]

Pixel Scroll 2/25/21 Good Science Fiction Predicts The Pixel. Great Science Fiction Extrapolates To The Scroll

(1) COGITO ECO SUM. In “Jeff VanderMeer Talks Noir, Suspense, and His New Eco-Thriller With Meg Gardiner” at CrimeReads Gardiner interviews VanderMeer about his new novel Hummingbird Salamander, which he says is a thriller set “ten minutes into the future.”

MG: You’re known as a speculative fiction writer—science fiction, fantasy, the weird. Hummingbird Salamander, though, is grounded in the present day-ish world. It doesn’t include supernatural elements. It does contain plenty of suspense and action, and draws us into mysteries that revolve around traumatic loss—of family, ecologies, maybe the world. How do you describe this book? 

JV: That’s true, but at the same time the Southern Reach trilogy, for example, was set in the real world and the real challenge there was character relationships, how to unfold the mystery—all of the usual stuff in non-speculative books. So I see the “weird” element in Hummingbird Salamander as being about how dysfunctional and strange our reality has become. Sometimes I describe the novel as a thriller-mystery set ten seconds into the future, or as traveling through our present into the near future. Readers should expect a lot of the dark absurdity and environmental themes as well as the usual thing—that I tend to write “messy” protagonists who don’t easily fit into the world around them. The fact is, our reality with its conspiracy paranoia and all the rest tends to affect our fiction, too. So that the present-day is science fiction.

(2) BAFTA GOTY NOMINEES. The BAFTA EE Game of the Year Award Nominees 2021 have been released. The EE Game of the Year Award is the only category at this year’s British Academy Games Awards voted for by the public. This new award recognizes the fans’ favorite game from the past year. These are the nominees:

(3) FOUR CENTURIES OF YOLEN. “’Owl Moon’ author Jane Yolen looks back at 400 books”. The article is behind a Boston Globe paywall, but what the heck, let’s celebrate!

Her 400th publishes March 2 — and she’s got 30 more in the works

By Lauren Daley Globe Correspondent

(4) BY NO MEANS THE LAST. Peter White, in “’Avatar: The Last Airbender’ To Expand With Launch Of Avatar Studios” at Deadline, says Nickelodeon is launching Avatar Studios to produce a lot of animated content following the continuing success of Avatar:  The Last Airbender.

Nickelodeon is launching Avatar Studios, a division designed to create original content spanning animated series and movies based on the franchise’s world….

Nickelodeon’s Avatar: The Last Airbender, which follows the adventures of the main protagonist Aang and his friends, who must save the world by defeating Fire Lord Ozai and ending the destructive war with the Fire Nation, aired for three seasons between 2005 and 2008.It was followed by The Legend of Korra, which launched on Nickelodeon in 2012 and ran for four seasons.

The property has subsequently been translated into a ongoing graphic novel series written by TV series co-creator DiMartino, a live-action feature film starring Dev Patel and directed by M. Night Shyamalan and Netflix is making a live-action Avatar: The Last Airbender series, albeit without the involvement of Dante DiMartino and Konietzko. 

Avatar: The Last Airbender and Korra have grown at least ten-fold in popularity since their original hit runs on Nickelodeon…” said Brian Robbins, President, ViacomCBS Kids & Family.

(5) MONOPOLY MONEY. The New York Times contemplates “What Happens When a Publisher Becomes a Megapublisher?”

…Perhaps the industry’s biggest concern about the merger, especially among agents and authors, is what it will mean for book deals. An agent representing a promising author or buzzworthy book often hopes to auction it to the highest bidder. If there are fewer buyers, will it be harder for agents to get an auction going for their clients, and ultimately, will it be harder for authors to get an advantageous deal?

Penguin Random House operates about 95 imprints in the United States, like Vintage Books, Crown Publishing Group and Viking, and these imprints are allowed to bid against one another, as long as another publisher is bidding as well. If the third party drops out, the bidding stops, and the author selects an imprint from within Penguin Random House in what the industry likes to call a “beauty contest.”

A spokeswoman for Penguin Random House said the practice of allowing imprints to compete would continue but that it was too early to say whether Simon & Schuster and its imprints would still count as a third party. Some publishers only offer house bids and do not allow internal competition….

Booksellers are concerned, too:

Penguin Random House has worked closely with independent booksellers during the pandemic, offering flexible or deferred payments to help them through such a challenging year. Still, some are anxious about narrowing competition in a world where their choices are already constricted. Gayle Shanks, one of the owners of Changing Hands bookstores in Tempe and Phoenix, Ariz., said that while Penguin Random House has been supportive of independent bookstores, she worries that with fewer big publishers to work with, she’ll have less leverage and opportunity to negotiate.

(6) ROBOCOP STATUE. Its kneecaps alone weigh 25 pounds apiece! “A decade later, Detroit’s crowdfunded RoboCop statue is finally complete — but still awaiting a final home” reports the Detroit Metro Times. “The statue, in the coming weeks, will be moved into storage, awaiting its new home — though it will no longer be the Michigan Science Center.”

…10 years ago this month, some wag tweeted at Detroit Mayor Dave Bing that Detroit needed a statue of RoboCop. The reason: Philadelphia had a statue of Rocky, and RoboCop “would kick Rocky’s butt.”

The post lit up social networking, prompting the creation of a fan page blaring “Detroit Needs a RoboCop Statue.” It gave hundreds of people something to like, to laugh about, or even to scorn.

“Within 24 hours, it went viral,” Walley says. “And I don’t remember whether I called Jerry or Jerry called me, but a light bulb went off. We were like, ‘Whoa, we could really create a big buzz and gain a lot of attention for what we’re doing. We might be able to take it to the next level!”

Their instincts hit instant pay dirt: Within three days, their crowdfunding appeal for funding a statue of RoboCop had raised more than $17,000 from more than 900 backers worldwide. Heck, soon Funny or Die released a video of RoboCop lead actor Peter Weller riffing on the project. By the time the funding drive was over six weeks later, more than 2,700 backers had pledged more than $65,000.

…On the east side of Detroit, in a small cinderblock building across the road from a major auto parts supplier, work continues on the RoboCop statue. On this chilly winter afternoon, Venus Bronze Works honcho Giorgio Gikas is busy coaching his crew through final assembly at his shop.

Gikas is the very picture of a European metalworker. Stocky and stout, and adorned with tattoos, he wears his hair short on the sides and back, long on top, pulled back into a ponytail. He speaks in an accented, raspy voice in Hemingway sentences that pull no punches. Mention a Detroit art name to him and he’ll give you his honest estimation — without the sugar on top. Gikas has a right to his opinion — he is the only outdoor sculpture conservator in Michigan who does museum-quality work.

The sixtysomething has been working on RoboCop for six or seven years, including the time he spent fighting colon cancer. The malignancy left him in bed for a year and a half, in no condition to do anything.

“I’m clean now, got everything taken care of,” he says, then looks over at the statue and adds, “and it’s still here.”…

(7) PEOPLE OF THE (FUTURISTIC) BOOK. Next Thursday, March 4 at 7:00 ET, Michael A. Burstein, Valerie Frankel, and Steven H Silver will be discussing “What it means when we say something is Jewish Science Fiction” as part of the Jewish Museum of Maryland’s programming in support of their Jews in Space Exhibit.  More information and the registration page can be found at “People of the (Futuristic) Book”.  Ticket prices are free, $5, $25, or $50.

(8) TREK + TREK = PARAMOUNT PLUS. “Paramount+ Releases Expanding Star Trek Universe Sizzle Reel”Comicbook.com sets the frame.

When Paramount+ launches on March 4th, it will become the streaming home of every classic Star Trek series in its entirety — Star Trek: The Original SeriesStar Trek: The Animated SeriesStar Trek: The Next GenerationStar Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: Voyager, and Star Trek: Enterprise — plus the first three seasons of Star Trek: Discovery and the first season of Star Trek: Picard and Star Trek: Lower Decks. Each of those newer series will return for more episodes. Discovery spinoff Star Trek: Strange New Worlds is in production and Kurtzman has said that he has years of new Star Trek planned….

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born February 25, 1909 Edgar Pangborn. For the first twenty years or so of his career, he wrote myriad stories for the pulp magazines, but always under pseudonyms. It wasn’t until the Fifties that he published in his own name in Galaxy Science Fiction and The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. His Tales of a Darkening World work is certainly well-crafted and entertaining. He’s deeply stocked at reasonable prices at the usual digital suspects. (Died 1976.) (CE)
  • Born February 25, 1917 – Rex Gordon.  Nine novels for us, a dozen others, some under other names.  Radio operator on passenger and merchant ships during World War II; one was sunk.  (Died 1998) [JH]
  • Born February 25, 1917 Anthony Burgess. I know I’ve seen and read A Clockwork Orange many, many years ago. I think I even took a University class on it as well. Scary book, weird film.  I’ll admit that I’m not familiar with the Enderby series having not encountered them before now. Opinions please. (Died 1993.) (CE) 
  • Born February 25, 1930 – Frank Denton, age 91.  His fanzine Ash-Wing drew Grant Canfield, Terry Jeeves, Andy Porter, Lisa Tuttle; here is AW 14 (Jim Garrison cover).  Co-founder of Slanapa.  Fan Guest of Honor at MileHiCon 6, Westercon 30, MosCon II, Rustycon 7.  The Great Haiku Shoot-Out with Mike Horvat.  [JH]
  • Born February 25, 1943 – Jean Weber, age 78.  Of the twenty-year fanzine WeberWoman’s Wrevenge.  GUFF delegate (Get Up and over Fan Fund when northbound, Going Under Fan Fund southbound) with Eric Lindsay, published Jean and Eric ’Avalook at the U.K. (this link might let you download a PDF).  Guest of Honour at Circulation IV.  [JH]
  • Born February 25, 1949 – Wiktor Bukato, age 72.  Author, publisher, translator of Anderson, Clarke, Ellison, Sturgeon, Weinbaum, White.  Here is Science Fiction Art (sztuka is art in Polish).  Three Silesian Fantasy Club Awards as Publisher of the Year.  Co-ordinator of Eurocon 1991.  Big Heart (our highest service award).  [JH]
  • Born February 25, 1957 Tanya Huff, 64. Her now-concluded Confederation of Valor Universe series is highly recommended by me though it’s probably not quite good enough to a Hugo worthy series.  And I also give a strong recommendation to her Gale Family series which might be. I’ve not read her other series, so I’ll ask y’all what you’d recommend. (CE)
  • Born February 25, 1968 A. M. Dellamonica, 53. A Canadian writer who has published over forty rather brilliant short since the Eighties. Their first novel, Indigo Springs, came out just a decade ago but they now have five novels published with the latest being The Nature of a Pirate. Their story, “Cooking Creole” can be heard here at Pod Castle 562. It was in  Mojo: Conjure Stories, edited by Nalo Hopkinson.
  • Born February 25, 1970 – Robert Price, age 51.  Learned Cantonese as a teenager, got a Chinese Studies M.A. in Germany, wrote Space to Create in Chinese SFhere is his cover; here is a 2017 interview.  [JH]
  • Born February 25, 1984 – Susan Dennard, age 37.  Studied marine biology around the world, but forwent a Ph.D. to write.  Half a dozen novels (two of them NY Times Best-Sellers), two novellas.  After marrying a Frenchman, settled in the U.S. Midwest; two dogs named Asimov and Princess Leia, two cats.  Likes karate and gluten-free cookies.  [JH]
  • Born February 25, 1985 Talulah Riley, 36. Miss Evangelista in “Silence in the Library” and “Forest of the Dead”, two most excellent Tenth Doctor stories. She also portrays Angela in the Westworld series, and she shows up in Thor: The Dark World as an Asgardian nurse. And she’s Gina Gartison in Bloodshot, the Van Diesel fronted Valiant Comics superhero film.  Anyone seen the latter? (CE) 

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Bizarro shares advice from an Avenger.

(11) OCEAN’S ARMY. Netflix dropped a trailer for Army of the Dead, a Zack Snyder movie about zombies smashing Las Vegas.

Following a zombie outbreak in Las Vegas, a group of mercenaries take the ultimate gamble, venturing into the quarantine zone to pull off the greatest heist ever attempted.

(12) TODAY’S THING NOT TO WORRY ABOUT. Did you hear about the controversy over whether Hasbro is “cancelling” Mr. Potato Head and Mrs. Potato Head and replacing them with unisex Potato Head? Hasbro says this isn’t happening and Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head will continue as separate characters.

(13) BRUNNER IN PERSPECTIVE. “Paul Di Filippo Reviews The Society of Time by John Brunner” at Locus Online includes an interesting overview of Brunner’s career.

… But on the other hand, now that we have passed the 25th anniversary of his death, the personal details of his life—the mortal horrors and human mundanities—recede somewhat from the foreground of his biography, and the mountain ranges of his books remain. Thus it is with every writer, great and small, in their posthumous days. And so we can now see that Brunner’s life was, using this perspective, consequential and victorious, not an unmodified tragedy at all. He left monuments. For one brief span—from 1968’s Stand on Zanzibar to 1975’s The Shockwave Rider—Brunner was on fire, tapped into the zeitgeist and channeling his speculations into brilliant novels that remain eerily prophetic and impactful today. If you read The Sheep Look Up (1972) in 2021, you’ll think it’s a newly written post-mortem on our current sad state of affairs….

(14) IT WAS MIDNIGHT ON THE SEA. In “More Than a Hundred Years Later, the Sinking of the Titanic Still Matters” on CrimeReads, sf author Alma Katsu discusses her new novel The Deep, her take on the Titanic disaster.

…As the Titanic goes to show, it is easy for humans to cling to denial when faced with existential threats like spiraling poverty and consolidation of power by elites. How does one prepare for doomsday? Is it so unexpected that many would prefer to believe the lies and would refuse to see the iceberg until chunks of it came crashing onto the deck?

(15) BOG STANDARD. This Mental Floss post certainly lives up to its title: “11 Incredible Things Found in Bogs”.

2. FRANKENSTEIN BODIES

Archaeologists know that prehistoric people knew about bogs’ preserving properties not just because of the butter, but also because of a pair of extremely cool—and extremely weird—skeletons known as the Cladh Hallan bodies. Found beneath the floor of a house in a small village in Scotland’s Outer Hebrides, these two bodies were buried sometime around the year 1000 BCE. It wasn’t unusual for ancient people to bury their ancestors beneath their homes. What was odd, however, was the fact that the bodies were hundreds of years older than the house itself. The island’s early inhabitants had mummified the corpses by stashing them in a bog for several months before burying them in their new location.

It gets even weirder. On closer examination, archaeologists discovered that each skeleton was a mishmash of bones from three different individuals, making a total of six bodies. The matching was done so well, it only turned up during a DNA test.

(16) THE NEXT GENERATION. Satirical news site The Onion offers up this gem: “NASA Welcomes Litter Of Mars Rovers After Successful Breeding Of Perseverance, Curiosity”. They write:

It will be months before these little guys can open up their image sensors and begin rolling around on their own, but once they do, their mother will teach them how to collect samples and analyze soil composition.

(17) JUST A LITTLE CAT MAP. The Budget Direct insurance website is attracting clicks with its feature “Cats vs. Dogs: Which Does the World Prefer?” – their map of the results is here.

…Country-for-country, the cats have it. We found 91 countries with more cat posts than dog posts on Instagram, and just 76 the other way around. Cat-lover territory includes the huge territories of Canada (52.3% of cat or dog photos are cats), China (88.2% cats), and Russia (64% cats).

The dogs take more continents, though. Dog posts outweigh cat posts across North and South America, Oceania, and Africa, while the cats take just Europe and Asia. The most fervently dog-loving city is Morpeth in North East England. Morpeth has the highest number of dog posts among the 58 cities that are 100% pro-dog. Hoofddorp in the west of the Netherlands is the most emphatically pro-cat city.

(18) THROWBACK THURSDAY. In case you thought the TV show had an original story.

[Thanks to JJ, Mike Kennedy, Christian Brunschen, Olav Rokne, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, John Hertz, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Olav Rokne.]