Pixel Scroll 6/11/24 A Pixel Is To Be Hugged And Sung Lullabies Lest It Grow Up Feeling Unwanted. And Then It Won’t Want To Be Scrolled

(1) GLASGOW 2024 TOWN HALL ABOUT BUSINESS MEETING ON 6/15. Glasgow 2024 will host a virtual Town Hall Event about the WSFS Business Meeting on Saturday, June 15, at 7:00 p.m. BST (which is 11:00 a.m. Pacific). Sign up for a free ticket at this Eventbrite link.

Key members of the Business Meeting and The World Science Fiction Society (WSFS) team from Glasgow 2024 will discuss the Business Meeting that will occur at Glasgow 2024.

The event will be moderated, taking questions in advance. If you wish to submit a question for consideration, please do so below. There may not be enough time to cover all questions, but we will do our best to get to as many as we can. https://forms.gle/goRw9ZGspQ4YE3mA9

(2) SHE’S ON THE FRONT. Nnedi Okorafor is featured in the June 10 issue of Publishers Weekly.

(3) CREDIT FOR HELPING SAVE TREK. Bjo Trimble’s daughter Lora reports on Facebook she “again went to the Peabody awards last night to watch Star Trek be honored with the Peabody Institutional Award. What Bjo didn’t know was Alex Kurtzman paid tribute to her and My father John Trimble and all the work they did to save Star Trek and keep it going! It was a lovely evening.” More photos at the link.

Bjo Trimble attends the 2024 Peabody Awards at Beverly Wilshire on June 9. Photo by Jon Kopaloff.

Below you can see J. J. Abrams and Alex Kurtzman accepting Star Trek’s Peabody Award, including Kurtzman’s mention of Bjo.

(4) A STELLAR VILLAIN. “Paul Giamatti Joins ‘Star Trek: Starfleet Academy’ as Main Villain” reports Variety. (Does Starfleet Academy have holiday holdovers?)

Set phasers to stunned. In another casting coup, the upcoming Paramount+ series “Star Trek: Starfleet Academy” has cast Emmy winner and multiple Oscar nominee Paul Giamatti in a recurring guest role as the first season’s main villain, who has a sinister connection to the past of one of the (yet to be cast) cadets.

Giamatti joins Holly Hunter, who Variety exclusively reported in May is boarding “Starfleet Academy” as the Academy’s captain and chancellor.

“Sometimes you’re lucky enough to discover that one of the greatest actors alive is also a huge ‘Star Trek’ fan, and meeting Paul was one of those miraculous moments for us,” said co-showrunners Alex Kurtzman and Noga Landau in a statement. “The sheer delight with which he dove in on ‘Starfleet Academy’ is only surpassed by the gratitude we feel about him joining our incredible cast.”…

(5) HOW MANY VIEW WHO. Steven Moffat told Facebook readers today:

According to Russell T Davies, the ratings for Doctor Who are “far above expectations.”

While he admits that the figures “aren’t where we want them. We always want higher”, an independent BBC review has revealed that it is the most watched show for under 30s in the world.

The series has “reached and exceeded every target, so we are showing no signs of slowing down.”

(6) NO VROOM AT THE INN. New York Times critic Esther Zuckerman recommends “A Four-Hour-Long Hotel Review That Is Actually About So Much More” – Jenny Nicholson’s report on Disney’s Star Wars-themed Galactic Starcruiser hotel, now shut down, which she deems a spectacular failure.

…One of the most captivating pieces of entertainment I’ve seen so far this year is a four-hour-long YouTube video in which one woman describes her stay at a Disney World hotel. I’m as shocked by this as anyone.

To be clear: I was initially resistant when my partner encouraged me to watch Jenny Nicholson’s epic “The Spectacular Failure of the Star Wars Hotel,” which breaks down in microscopic detail her visit to Disney’s Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser. During the experience, now closed, guests on vacation were encouraged to live out their George Lucas dreams by participating in a role-playing game while staying in a structure on the outskirts of the park near Orlando, Fla.

Nicholson’s monologue, which runs longer than “Lawrence of Arabia,” has been viewed more than seven million times since it was uploaded last month and has been the talk of social media, yet I was still unprepared for how absolutely riveting it was. While it highlights a litany of problems with the hotel itself, the video can also be viewed as a diagnosis of the entertainment industry’s current ills writ large. In her frustration, Nicholson becomes a valiant truth teller, clearly articulating how corporate greed betrays loyal fans to sell a cheaper and less emotionally enriching product. And she does this against a backdrop of stuffed animals and while wearing various costumes, including, at one point, a giant suit resembling a Porg, the puffin-like creature in “The Last Jedi.”…

…The great irony is that Nicholson herself produced what Disney couldn’t: a comprehensive, entrancing experience that held my attention.

(7) PLEASE DON’T FEED THE BOTS. Clarkesworld’s Neil Clarke has updated his blog post “Block the Bots that Feed ‘AI’ Models by Scraping Your Website” to warn about another offender: “If you haven’t updated your robots.txt to protect your work from scraping for ‘AI’ training recently, there’s probably a few bots you aren’t blocking. Added Applebot-Extended this morning.”

Applebot-Extended does not directly crawl webpages. It is used to determine whether or not pages crawled by the Applebot user agent will be used to train Apple’s models powering generative AI features across Apple products, including Apple Intelligence, Services, and Developer Tools….

(8) ANOTHER SCURRILOUS TACTIC. [Item by Jennifer Hawthorne.] I was listening to a favorite law podcast of mine, Law and Chaos, (“PA Dad Takes On Moms For Liberty”) and they were  interviewing a Pennsylvania father who discovered books were quietly going missing from his kid’s local school library and decided to figure out why. Turns out it was a “shadowban” campaign against books that Moms for Liberty hates and included such lovely behavior as the school creating fake student library accounts, checking out the books to those accounts for an entire year, and then adding the books to the list of items to be removed from the library on the grounds that they weren’t being checked out (!). It’s a fascinating story about just how far Culture Warriors will go to ban books! The titles secretly removed included the entire “A Court of Thorns and Roses” (ACOTAR) fantasy series, which, while not my cup of tea where fantasy is concerned, are very popular with teenage girls who deserve to have the right to check out the books if they want.

The Bucks County Beacon wrote about the Dad who discovered what was going on: “Uncovering the Cover-up: How Republican Pennridge School Board Directors Secretly Banned Books”.

…Frustrated by the lack of answers, I submitted a Right-To-Know request seeking a report that listed the books checked out of the high school library by non-students.  To my surprise, the report furnished by the district was discernibly inaccurate. It did not contain any of the targeted titles that had recently gone missing.

I hired an open records attorney, Joy Ramsingh, to negotiate with the district’s law firm, Eckert Seamans. I was simply requesting the production of a good faith public record. My goal was to learn which books were being censored.  

I wanted to give the community a fair opportunity to read, defend, and debate the merit of literature before it was permanently removed from the library. My lawyer sought to reach a quick and amicable resolution, but the negotiations were unsuccessful. We appealed to the Court of Common Pleas.

After a year of litigation, my attorney was able to prove that the RTK report furnished by the district was illegally manipulated. Faced with overwhelming evidence, the district eventually conceded that an employee had deleted records from the report. It was a clear attempt to hide the removal of books from public scrutiny….

(9) MEDICAL UPDATE. Adam-Troy Castro, in a public Facebook post, has announced he is battling cancer again – but it should be survivable. Full details at the link.

…They remove this and give me another round of chemo and it is pretty survivable. Which is a lot different than this would be if the Colon Cancer had metastasized in any other organ. Anywhere else would have been a case of, “okay, we’re bailing water to keep the boat afloat until it sinks.”

On the scale of having Stage 4 any kind of Cancer, this kind of cancer is not as bad as most. Okay? It’s survivable.

Does this suck?

Yes.

Does it suck a lot less than it could suck if it has to suck?

Yes….

(10) WHAT THE SCROLL SHOULD HAVE ADDED ABOUT H. BRUCE FRANKLIN. [Item by Daniel Dern.] Pixel Scroll 5-23-24 item #9’s mini-obit of H. Bruce Franklin, while acknowledging him as “author of numerous books, essays, and exhibitions related to science fiction.” fails to cite what (to me at least) are the obvious suspects (titles) Future Perfect (an antho that I read decades ago; my memory burped the title up instantly when I saw the NYTimes obit a few weeks ago) and it looks like he also wrote a book about Heinlein, Robert A. Heinlein: America as Science Fiction, and, along with political/historical non-fiction, this one of interest no doubt to SJW credentials: The Most Important Fish in the Sea: Menhaden and America.  

And thanks to Scott Edelman, here’s an unlocked copy of the New York Times obituary: “H. Bruce Franklin, Scholar Fired for His Antiwar Views, Is Dead at 90”.

(11) WORKING THROUGH LOSS. Sharon Lee writes about her experiences while grieving the death of her husband, Steve Miller, in “While one lives, both stand”. Here are the opening paragraphs.

Grief puts funny ideas into your head.

For instance, for awhile back in March, I was convinced that Steve had left me — walked out of our partnership and left no forwarding address.  I couldn’t imagine why, and spent way too much time minutely reviewing our past, looking for my error.

Then I became convinced that we had gotten done at this house, and were moving on.  As has been the case in previous moves, Steve had gone on ahead, leaving me to clean up these last few things before I joined him.  This delusion is particularly pernicious because for those of us who speak Metaphor, it’s true.   Only it’s not.

Anyhow, it’s been my goal for some while now to find or create for myself a place of gratitude for having been privileged to share so much time, love, and magic; for having had Steve in my life.  While it’s certainly a very lonely, hard, and scary thing to no longer have him for back-up, for taking the lead, for producing surprising — and occasionally infuriating — insights — surely unrelenting misery was not the best lesson I could take from our life together.

So, I started looking for ways to achieve, at first, equilibrium.  I didn’t expect to leap from misery to gratitude.  I expected there to be a process, and backsliding, and all the things that attend the pursuit of any mighty goal.

Steve and I not only shared our mundane lives, but we shared an active and beguiling fantasy life.  The worlds we built, the people who live there, the lessons, the philosophies — those also fed the richness of our partnership and informed our mundane lives…

(12) DOUG LEWIS (1955-2024). Thomas Kellogg, in a Centipede Press newsletter, paid tribute to bookseller and publisher Doug Lews, who died May 20.

Doug Lewis who with his wife Tomi, owned and operated the Little Bookshop of Horror/Roadkill Press in Arvada, Colorado and won a World Fantasy Award in the Nonprofessional category in the 1990s, died on May 20, 2024 of complications of diabetes. 

Doug started their bookstore when he was unable to find a copy of Joe Lansdale’s The Night Runners to purchase locally. The Lewis’ store primarily featured horror, fantasy, science fiction and crime fiction. Soon they were sponsoring readings by Joe R. Lansdale, along with Edward Bryant, Harlan Ellison, Dan Simmons, Connie Willis, Nancy Collins, Norm Partridge, Steve Rasnic Tem, Melanie Tem and many others. 

The Night Voices series of readings spawned a long friendship between Doug, Tomi and Ed Bryant. Ed was in many ways their mentor. Ed was the MC for the readings and his introductions were memorable by themselves. The readings spawned a publishing venture Roadkill Press. The initial idea was to publish chapbooks of the writers featured in readings. At that time chapbooks were a rarity. The concept was a quality item using high quality paper, with illustrations, signed by the writers that were incredibly affordable. The line of chapbooks was a big success. A collectible that was affordable was unusual in a time dominated by costly limited editions.

…It all came to a crashing end when Tomi became ill and was diagnosed with cancer. Although she fought bravely, she was gone in less than eight months. A farewell auto tour across the county to see all their friends was thwarted by the ravages of the chemotherapy. Doug was crushed by Tomi’s passing. Nothing mattered anymore. Tomi was the extrovert of the pair. With her gone, Doug fell into an abyss of despair that would last the rest of his life.

Adrift in that despair, his physical health deteriorated. He became a type 1 diabetic almost overnight. I remember at the time he told me that he wasn’t going to let diabetes run his life. Caring about nothing, he failed to take care of himself. The disease ultimately destroyed life. 

My 30 year plus friendship with Doug spanned both his highs and his lows of his life. It as a tragedy that he couldn’t overcome the loss of Tomi. As with us all, he had his demons. Many friends reached out multiple times in the years after Tomi’s passing, only to be rebuffed or ignored. I like to think he avoid responding because it only deepened his sense of loss….

(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Compiled by Paul Weimer.]

Born June 11, 1971 P. Djeli Clark, 53.

By Paul Weimer. By day, he is a historian of slavery in history and popular culture. By night. P. Djèlí Clark is a ferocious new talent in science fiction and fantasy.  It took me a bit to come across his work, a friend of mine practically pushed his novella, The Haunting of Tram Car 015 into my hands, telling me that this was going to be my jam.  And an alternate historical late 19th century Egypt with magic, becoming a world power? Djinn, magic, spirits and a strong sense of place in this alternate Cairo?  It most certainly was, and is. 

P. Djèlí Clark

His A Master of Djinn continues in that same world as the novella, and builds and extends and grows that world in a very satisfactory manner. Like the first novella, it builds and works with themes of colonialism, race and gender relations, and magical worldbuilding in exploring the consequences of “The magic returns” and making Egypt a powerhouse. I would so love to physically visit this alternate Cairo and photograph its wonders, but for the moment, can only hope for more books set in this world.

 I have not yet read the copy of Ring Shout on my Kindle although, given his day job, it is probably the work of his thus far that is closest to his day job and his academic research interests. I am confident that it will be excellent, but it remains buried in Mount TBR. For now.

However, as part of my Hugo Reading for 2024, I read and enjoyed “How to Raise a Kraken in Your Bathtub”. It’s a clever little story that takes its worldbuilding as a matter of fact sort of approach to add Krakens, and merpeople, to a 19th century Britain not really equipped or ready to deal with the consequences of racism and colonialism and sexism.

As of the writing of this, I have started reading an ARC of his forthcoming work, The Dead Cat Tail Assassins. This story, unlike his others, is firmly set in a secondary world, and reminds me, as of this moment, of the secondary world fantasy of N K Jemisin, in particular the Dreamblood novels. The setting is an entrepot city, and indeed, the main character is one of the titular Dead Cat Tail Assassins. Shenanigans have already ensued.  It’s a new and different mode for Clark, and I look forward to seeing how he continues with it. 

(14) COMICS SECTION.

(15) THE GAME’S AFOOT. Inverse’s Ryan Brittthinks “’Indiana Jones and the Great Circle’ Could be the Best Indy Adventure in 35 Years”.

…But for the most ideal Indy results, perhaps it’s still best if the entire adventure happens in the 1930s or 1940s, with Dr. Jones looking and sounding like he’s in between the events of the first three movies. And with the release of a new trailer for the upcoming Bethesda game Indiana Jones and the Great Circle, it seems the franchise is getting back to its roots in an unexpected medium.

Set in 1937, The Great Circle takes place right in between Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Last Crusade and pairs Indy with a new character named Gina Lombardi. As revealed in the new trailer, the primary mystery in this story is centered on various spiritual sites of great importance — from the Vatican to the Great Pyramids — that form a kind of invisible circle. A madman named Voss is after this power, and it’s up to Gina and Indy to stop him while they race to unlock the secrets of the circle.

Indy is voiced by Troy Baker, but you can barely tell this isn’t Harrison Ford uttering the lines. The mystical and religious overtones of the story also feel very aligned with the tone of The Last Crusade. In other words, this feels authentically Indy in a way that aspects of Dial of Destiny and Kingdom of the Crystal Skull didn’t.

(15) BAIT FOR YOUR CLICK. “’Lord of the Rings: The War of the Rohirrim’ Debuts Epic First Footage”Variety has the reaction. (But no video!)

Warner Bros. Animation, New Line Cinema and Sola Entertainment previewed 20 minutes of its upcoming anime feature “The Lord of the Rings: The War of the Rohirrim,” receiving thunderous applause during the packed presentation on Tuesday at the Annecy Animation Festival.

Director Kenji Kamiyana said he was inspired by not just J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings” books, but by the films of Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh, who were confirmed as exec producers of the movie during the session.

The new story is set nearly 200 years before Bilbo Baggins comes into contact with the ring of power, and centers on the House of Helm Hammerhand, the King of Rohan (voiced by Brian Cox), with a focus on his daughter, the strong willed Princess Héra (voiced by Gaia Wise). In the clip, a dispute erupts during a council meeting, leaving Wulf, a ruthless Dunlending lord, seeking vengeance. Miranda Otto reprises her “Lord of the Rings” role as Éowyn, this time as the movie’s narrator….

(16) BYE, BOYS. “’The Boys’ Is Ending With Season 5 on Amazon” says The Hollywood Reporter.

The Boys will have their final fight in the near future.

Eric Kripke, the showrunner of Prime Video‘s super(anti)hero series, said on social media Tuesday that the show’s fifth season — which the streamer ordered in May — will be its last.

“Season 4 premiere week is a good time to announce: Season 5 will be the final season!” Kripke wrote on X. “Always my plan, I just had to be cagey till I got the final OK from Vought. Thrilled to bring the story to a gory, epic, moist climax.”…

(17) NO SCRAPING UNLESS IT’S MY SCRAPING. Gizmodo tells us “Elon Musk Just Cancelled iPhones”.

Apple and OpenAI’s partnership is only a few hours old, and Elon Musk is already going to war over it. The owner of Tesla, X, SpaceX, and xAI said he would ban Apple devices at his companies if Apple integrated ChatGPT at the operating system level, which the companies are very much planning to do. Musk, a founder of OpenAI who is now suing the present owners, said ChatGPT integrated iPhones present an “unacceptable security violation.”

“If Apple integrates OpenAI at the OS level, then Apple devices will be banned at my companies,” said Musk in a tweet on Monday. “And visitors will have to check their Apple devices at the door, where they will be stored in a Faraday cage,” said Musk in a follow-up tweet

(18) STEVE HEADROOM? “Brighton general election candidate aims to be UK’s first ‘AI MP’” reports the Guardian. Candidate Steve Endacott tells journalists how it’s supposed to work.

‘Politics is too serious a matter to be left to the politicians’, so the saying goes.

This may be why a businessman in the south of England is proposing a novel solution: putting himself forward as a candidate in the UK general election as the first “AI MP”.

AI Steve is a nominee on the list of candidates for the 4 July general election in Brighton Pavilion, last held by the Green party’s Caroline Lucas, who is stepping down.

The man behind AI Steve is Steve Endacott, a self-described entrepreneur who lives in Rochdale, but “maintains a house in Brighton”.

Endacott, who is the chair of an artificial intelligence company called Neural Voice but “made his fortune” in the travel sector, claims he will attend parliament to vote on policies as guided by AI Steve’s feedback from his constituents.

He claims the AI representative would answer constituents’ concerns and questions using a rendition of Endacott’s voice and an avatar.’…

(19) SMALL BANG THEORY. “Webb telescope reveals asteroid collision in neighboring star system” at Hub.

Astronomers have captured what appears to be a snapshot of a massive collision of giant asteroids in Beta Pictoris, a neighboring star system known for its early age and tumultuous planet-forming activity.

The observations spotlight the volatile processes that shape star systems like our own, offering a unique glimpse into the primordial stages of planetary formation.

“Beta Pictoris is at an age when planet formation in the terrestrial planet zone is still ongoing through giant asteroid collisions, so what we could be seeing here is basically how rocky planets and other bodies are forming in real time,” said Christine Chen, a Johns Hopkins University astronomer who led the research.

The insights will be presented today at the 244th Meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Madison, Wisconsin.

Chen’s team spotted significant changes in the energy signatures emitted by dust grains around Beta Pictoris by comparing new data from the James Webb Space Telescope with observations by the Spitzer Space Telescope from 2004 and 2005. With Webb’s detailed measurements, the team tracked the dust particles’ composition and size in the exact area previously analyzed by Spitzer.

Focusing on heat emitted by crystalline silicates—minerals commonly found around young stars as well as on Earth and other celestial bodies—the scientists found no traces of the particles previously seen in 2004–05. This suggests a cataclysmic collision occurred among asteroids and other objects about 20 years ago, pulverizing the bodies into fine dust particles smaller than pollen or powdered sugar, Chen said.

(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. PRINT Magazine praises “Design Army’s Out of This World Campaign for the Hong Kong Ballet”.

The Hong Kong Ballet is celebrating its 45th anniversary with a groundbreaking campaign in collaboration with Design Army and Dean Alexander Productions. The production brings the ethereal beauty of ballet to the masses, transforming it from a symbol of privilege to a universal cultural experience. This inventive campaign, inspired by Degas’ ballerina portraits, the Renaissance, and artistic hip-hop, redefines ballet in a uniquely Hong Kong context. From the witty “Tutu Academy” to sci-fi extraterrestrial scenes, the film captures the essence of dance as a universal language, connecting everyone, even aliens, to its unearthly magic. With vibrant settings ranging from university halls to iconic plazas, the campaign showcases the troupe’s artistry against the backdrop of Hong Kong’s cultural landmarks, making ballet accessible, relatable, and joyfully unconventional….

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

Pixel Scroll 3/21/24 Mr. Sandworm, Bring Me A Dream

(1) MASTER OF SF. Vernor Vinge died March 20. One of the many callbacks to this distinguished sf author’s genre contributions comes from the Hugo Book Club Blog: “A Tribute To Vernor Vinge”.

…“Singularity is the point at which our old models will have to be discarded, where a new reality will reign,” Vinge wrote. “This is a world whose outlines will become clearer, approaching modern humanity, until this new reality obscures surrounding reality, becoming commonplace.”

One of these forays into singularitarianism helped launch an entire subgenre of science fiction. First appearing in a Dell paperback alongside George R.R. Martin’s Nightflyers, the story True Names offered a blueprint for cyberpunk that would influence and inspire everything from blockbuster movies to role playing games and television series….

(2) CIXIN LIU ON PRODUCTIVITY ISSUES. [Via Zionius on Weibo] On Wednesday, Singapore newspaper The Straits Times published an article tying in with the release of the Netflix adaptation of The Three-Body Problem.  The piece includes a few quotes from Liu himself, where he talks about his activity in recent years, and his sympathy with one of his peers, George R.R. Martin.

While he yearns to see Martin place the long-delayed sixth book, The Winds Of Winter, in the hands of publishers, Liu, 60, also sympathises with his 75-year-old peer’s plight – Liu himself has been through a long fallow period.

“The Winds Of Winter has been delayed for 10 years. As a writer who also writes fantasy literature, I completely understand this, because I have not been able to publish a new work for more than 10 years,” Liu tells The Straits Times in an e-mail interview…

Other than Of Ants And Dinosaurs (2010), a work that imagines a war between the two species of the title, Liu has not produced a new novel since.

“Martin has at least published other works during that time, and I had done almost nothing,” he says. 

(3) A LIFELINE TO SANITY. The Guardian calls it, “’A fascinating insight into pandemic psychology’: how Animal Crossing gave us an escape”.

“Today is the first day of your new life on this pristine, lovely island. So, congratulations!” says Tom Nook, the benevolent tanuki landlord, a few minutes into Animal Crossing: New Horizons. (Nook is often besmirched online, but you can’t argue that he’s extremely welcoming.) Many players read this comforting message at a destabilising and frightening time in the real world: Animal Crossing: New Horizons came out on Nintendo Switch on 20 March 2020, a few days before the UK entered its first Covid lockdown.

This was fortuitous timing. When we were all stuck at home, the game let us plant our native fruits, tend to our flowers and see what the town shop had on offer, repaying our extensive loans (interest-free, thankfully) to Tom Nook as a way of escaping the chaos and daily death tolls. We opened the gates to our islands and welcomed friends and strangers into our pristine little worlds. As real life crumbled, we started anew with bespectacled catssheep in clown’s coats and rhinos who looked like cakes.

The game’s sudden popularity caused Nintendo Switch sales to skyrocket among pandemic-induced shortages. New Horizons had sold 44.79 million units by December 2023 – nearly three-and-a-half times more than any other game in the Animal Crossing series, which has been running since 2001. It’s the second best-selling Switch game to date, behind Mario Kart 8 Deluxe….

(4) BOT AND PAID FOR. Annie Bot has already been called “A sharp take on a sex robot that becomes human” in a paywalled New Scientist review:

I opened the novel with low hopes, because the idea of a robot learning to be human, then chafing at its bonds, seemed a bit old hat. How wrong I was. Right from the first page, the book is coruscating, unexpected and subtle….

Now Glamour has interviewed author Sierra Green in a Q&A titled “Annie Bot Is a Chillingly Prescient Novel That Asks What Happens When a Sex Robot Realizes Her Worth”.

…The character of Doug felt so real to me (a man who would rather have a sex slave robot than a real human companion), which is scary, to say the least. What does his character represent to you, and why do you think it is important to demonstrate these types of men in the media?

This is a complicated subject. I think it’s important to try to understand what in our society encourages a man to feel like he ought to be in control, even when he’s not. No one likes to feel helpless, but men can feel doubly conflicted when they are denigrated because society has taught them that they deserve respect. Suddenly they have to reassess the entire system. When we see a character like Doug who is lonely and wants to be in control, we understand why he’s reaching out for a connection. We’re not surprised that men turn to the internet for pornography, and Annie is just a step beyond that. What matters to me is that Doug learns from his situation. He experiences deep shame, isolation, and rage, but he’s also willing to reflect on how to become a better man, a better human. Almost despite himself, he takes risks that lead him where he needs to go.

Do you think if Stellas really existed, a lot of men would buy them?

Yes. Women would buy them too, or the male Handy models. People will buy a new toy whether it’s good for them or not….

(5) MONSTER MASHER. Radio Times says “Doctor Who needs Steven Moffat – despite what he might say”.

…Every showrunner has brought something incredible to Doctor Who, from Russell T Davies’s famously skillful writing to Chris Chibnall’s bold new directions, but there’s something that Moffat brings to the show that no other writer does.

He remains unmatched as Doctor Who’s monster maker. By his own admission, his creations are simple and actually a little formulaic, usually riffing on a childhood fear to create a chilling physical embodiment of our nightmares. But it doesn’t get old – because he does it so well.

Moffat’s first episodes, a season 1 two-parter, introduced the Empty Child. Arming his creation with a haunting catchphrase (“Are you my mummy?”) and a gruesome physicality (I’ve never forgotten that transformation scene), he immediately ensured his first Doctor Who monster would be one for the ages. But it was far from his most iconic.

In season 3, Moffat penned what is widely described as one of Doctor Who’s best ever episodes, Blink, creating an all-time classic monster, the Weeping Angels….

(6) A TILT TOWARD NORTH AMERICA. “Doctor Who’s schedule change is inevitable – but still heartbreaking” opines Radio Times.

With the decision being made to debut new Doctor Who episodes at midnight on BBC iPlayer, many Whovians have expressed their disappointment. They argue that the choice was made for US-based audiences, and it undeniably was.

When the first two episodes are released on BBC iPlayer at midnight on Saturday 11th May, they will also be available on Disney Plus at 7pm ET on Friday 10th May, before BBC One airs them again later in the day on Saturday.

This means that while viewers on the US East Coast can enjoy the premiere episode in the late evening, UK fans will have to stay up into the late hours of the night to watch, diminishing the event nature and experience of watching the series…

(7) NEW HORROR. Gabino Iglesias reviewed Premee Mohamed’s The Butcher Of The Forest, C.J. Cooke’s A Haunting In The Arctic, Tim Lebbon’s Among The Living, and Amanda Jayatissa’s Island Witch in “Demons, Haunted Forests and Arctic Nightmares in 4 New Horror Novels” for the New York Times in February.

(8) SPUR AWARDS. The Western Writers of America have presented the 2024 Spur Awards. Complete winners list at the link – there do not appear to be any genre works among them. Not even Thomas Goodman’s Best First Novel The Last Man: A Novel of the 1927 Santa Claus Bank Robbery has much to do with jolly old elves.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born March 21, 1946 Timothy Dalton, 78. Timothy Dalton made his film debut sixty-eight years ago as Philip II of France in The Lion in Winter. I remember him distinctly in that role. Of course, I’ve watched that film enough times that I think I’ve memorized much of the script. 

He would do two Bond films, The Living Daylights and Licence to Kill. He made a decent Bond, but then I think the only true Bond was Connery. 

Timothy Dalton in 1987.

Now doing a dive into his genre roles, he was Prince Barin in Flash Gordon, and had a major role as film star Neville Sinclair, one of baddies in The Rocketeer. An absolutely amazing film which is why it got a nomination for a Hugo at MagiCon. 

And he was Lord President Rassilon in “The End of Time”, the last Tenth Doctor story. He made a rather impressive Time Lord indeed. 

I’ll finish up with his role as the Chief on the DC Universe/Max Doom Patrol series which just wrapped up. It was a great role for him, and a most excellent series indeed. 

(10) COMICS SECTION.

(11) TRAINING FOR WAR. James Bacon reviews an issue of Battling Britons, “The Fanzine of Vintage British War Comics”, for Downthetubes.net: “In Review: Battling Britons 6 – Planes, Trains and Giant Vampire Bats!”.

The Book: The latest issue of a fanzine dedicated to British war comics, offering articles, reviews and features on comics such as Commando, still published, and vintage comics such as Battle Picture Weekly, War Picture Library, including items on strips such as “Black Max”, “Dredger”, “Maddock’s Marauders”, “Kommando King” and more…

…Editor and publisher Justin Marriott often writes about subjects that are close to my heart, and this issue he looks at Commando comics that feature trains. He starts this with a fabulous laugh out loud list of the ten things he has learned from reading comics which featured trains. It’s a light hearted and humorous approach, and then lists some 30 Commando stories, and discusses them briefly….

(12) NOT JUST LOOKING AT THE PICTURES. And Downthetubes.net founder John Freeman suggests, “Comics: The Answer to The UK’s Literacy Crisis?”

We’re used to Spider-Man saving the world from the Green Goblin and a multiverse of masked miscreants. But new research by Comic Art Europe, and a separate research project by the National Literacy Trust, suggests that he could have the super-powers to do something even more valuable – something our government has signally failed to do: turn us into a nation of readers again

That’s the view, at least, of Lakes International Comic Art Festival chair Peter Kessler MBE, in an article for the latest issue of Books for Keeps magazine.

“A unique project has been unfolding in a primary school in North Manchester,” he notes, discussing the Comics and Literacy Project the Festival worked on as a partner of Comic Art Europelaunched in 2021, supported by The Phoenix comic, its full, interim report here on the Festival web site.“Abraham Moss is a typical, hard-working community school in an underprivileged area. Most of its students are from ethnic minority backgrounds, and it has a higher-than-average number in receipt of the Pupil Premium subsidy given to disadvantaged students. The school has spent two academic years participating in a Europe-wide research project entitled Comics and Literacy. The aim of the project: to analyse and quantify the impact of exposure to comics on young people.

“The results are jaw-dropping….”

(13) FANAC ZOOM NOW ONLINE. You can view the two-part FANAC History Zoom: “The Women Fen Don’t See” with Claire Brialey, Kate Heffner and Leah Zeldes Smith on YouTube.

Part 1 – 

Description: Women did not magically appear in fandom with the advent of Star Trek, but have been part of science fiction fandom since the earliest days. They’re faneds, and convention chairs, writers and artists, club fans and costumers. Sometimes, they’re all of the above. Our impressive panelists (see bios on the bottom) Claire Brialey, Kate Heffner and Leah Zeldes Smith talk about why early female fans have received less credit than they deserved, or been overlooked entirely, and describe the contributions of a number of them…In this recording (Mar 2024, part 1 of 2), our panelists talk about how this research began, and why women that were cranking the mimeos, writing fanzine articles and going to conventions were not even regarded as fans. Early fan historians didn’t correct this impression, reflecting the attitudes of society and ignoring women’s contributions to fandom, especially married women. In this recording, you’ll learn about what fans did say about women in the community, “the radical hoax of Lee Hoffman”, and Miss Science Fiction 1949 (and the Fake Geek Girl response that ensued).

Women discussed in this part 1 include Jean Bogart, Pam Bulmer, Daphne Buckmaster, Marion Eadie, Helen Finn, Nancy Kemp, Trudy Kuslan, Lois Miles, Frances Swisher, and Jane Tucker. There’s a lot of information, a little hero worship and a dive into those hard-to-research women whose fanac was not primarily in fanzines. The discussion continues in Part 2. For more fan history, go to https://fanac.org and https://fancyclopedia.org. If you enjoyed this video, please subscribe to our channel.

Bios: 

Claire Brialey – Claire encountered fandom in her early teens, in the mid-’80s, after having read SF for five or six years. She’s a fanzine fan and co-editor of Banana Wings, as well as having won the 2011 Best Fan Writer Hugo. She’s a former President of ANZAPA and a conrunner (up to and including the Worldcon level). She’s worked on clubs, fan funds, and awards administration. She is one of the Guests of Honor of the 2024 Worldcon in Glasgow. And she still enjoys reading and watching SF. 

Kate Heffner – Kate Heffner (she/they) is a PhD researcher at the University of Kent England in the Department of History and an adjunct faculty member in the School of Library and Information Science at the University of Iowa. She is completing her dissertation entitled ‘A Fanzine of Her Own: Femme Fans in the Post-War Era.’ She is the recipient of the 2022 Peter Nicholls prize for best essay and a former judge for the Arthur C Clarke Award. For the last several years, she has also been adding to Fancyclopedia.org. 

Leah Zeldes Smith – A retired journalist, Leah has been an actifan for more than 50 years, since she was a young teenager. She is a fanzine fan, and her zine STET was nominated for the Best Fanzine Hugo 3 times (1993, 1994, 2001). She’s a DUFF winner (93). She’s been involved with APAs, clubs and convention running. Leah’s involvement in documenting fanhistory dates back several decades. She has been a mainstay of Fancyclopedia, and has made thousands of updates to the site. Recently she’s pulled together a list of Fandom Firsts.

Part 2: 

Description: Women did not magically appear in fandom with the advent of Star Trek, but have been part of science fiction fandom since the earliest days. They’re faneds, and convention chairs, writers and artists, club fans and costumers. Sometimes, they’re all of the above. In this part 2 of the session (Mar 2024), our panelists Claire Brialey, Kate Heffner and Leah Zeldes Smith continue to talk about why early female fans have received less credit than they deserved, or been overlooked entirely, and describe the contributions of a number of them.

Women discussed here include Ina Shorrock, Bobbie Gray, and Ethel Lindsay. There’s more about Femizine, the impact that early female fans can have on younger generations today, and whether women fans today will experience the same sorts of erasure. At about 32 minutes in, Q&A from the audience begins, with the difficulty of researching women fans, especially those that change their names multiple times, and anecdotes of Nan Gerding, Lynette Mills, Fuzzy Pink Niven, and Noreen Shaw. Maggie Thompson contributes a wonderful anecdote about her mother SF author Betsy Curtis and Tony Boucher. The recording concludes with a welcome discussion of how women have been treated in fandom in recent years.

(14) OSCARS A RISING TIDE FOR THESE ACTORS. JustWatch asked: (1) Which movies featuring Oscar-winners Emma Stone and Cillian Murphy are the most popular with audiences? (2) Are their 2024 Oscar-winning pictures at the top?

Key Insights

Poor Things is topping our popularity ranking, with an overall popularity of 48.6% among global audiences. The Favourite, her other Oscar winning performance, is no surprise in second place. Followed by La La Land, which was also a top contender during the 2016 Oscars. Surprisingly, Cruella ranked lower on the list, even though it was a big budget Disney project. 

Oppenheimer blew away Cillian Murphy’s other movies, garnering more than 60% of global popularity. Inception, another Christopher Nolan project, took second place. Dunkirk, A Quiet Place, and The Dark Knight also ranked in our top 1010. 

We created this report by using our JustWatch Streaming Charts, which are calculated by user activity, including clicking on a streaming offer, adding a title to a watchlist, and marking a title as ‘seen’. This data is collected from >40 million movie & TV show fans per month. It is updated daily for 140 countries and 4,500 streaming services.

(15) DON’T BOTHER ME, I’M BUSY. The form letter Robert A. Heinlein devised to answer his mail is making the rounds again. In the Seventies when I heard this existed I wrote him a fan letter in hopes of receiving a copy in reply, and I did — though it was a later variation than this one. (Click for larger image.)

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Arriving in theaters on September 9: “’Beetlejuice Beetlejuice’ Trailer: ‘The Juice Is Loose’ In Sequel Teaser”. Let Deadline lead the way.

… The logline: Still haunted by Beetlejuice, Lydia’s life is turned upside down when her rebellious teenage daughter, Astrid (Ortega), discovers the mysterious model of the town in the attic and the portal to the Afterlife is accidentally opened. With trouble brewing in both realms, it’s only a matter of time until someone says Beetlejuice’s name three times and the mischievous demon returns to unleash his very own brand of mayhem….

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

Pixel Scroll 3/20/24 He Will Know These Pixels As If Born To Them

(1) HE LIED. THANK GOODNESS! Former Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat is writing an episode due to air in Ncuti Gatwa’s first season as the Fifteenth Doctor: “Steven Moffat returns to write episode for new season of Doctor Who”.

….Speaking on his return to the Whoniverse, Steven Moffat says:

“Yes, okay, fair enough – apologies to everyone I’ve very slightly misled – I am in fact writing an episode of the series of Doctor Who. Exactly like I said I never would. What can I tell you? There was begging, there was pleading but finally Russell agreed to let me have another go – so long as I got out of his garden. Working with old friends and a brand new Doctor I couldn’t be happier. Sorry I was a bit reticent on the subject for so long. It was all part of an elaborate plan that would have delighted millions but at the last minute I forgot what it was.”

(2) OCTAVIA E. BUTLER SCIENCE FICTION FESTIVAL. The Pasadena middle school once attended by — and in 2022 renamed for — the author Octavia E. Butler will hold its third Science Fiction Festival on Friday reports LAist in“Student Sci-Fi”. (The event schedule is here: “Octavia E. Butler Library Science Fiction Festival 2024”.)

…The multi-award winning and best selling author graduated from what was then Washington Junior High in 1962 and wrote some of her earliest stories while a student.

School librarian Natalie Daily organized the Octavia E. Butler Magnet’s first science fiction writing contest in 2020, the same year the school’s library was renamed in her honor. The school itself was renamed two years later.

“I want [students] to realize that their ideas matter,” Daily said. “I think that Butler is a testament to that, you know, she was writing stuff and thinking about really, really deep ideas when she was a student here.”…

(3) KINGFISHER AND COMPANY. Sarah Gailey interviews the Tor team behind the publication and promotion of T. Kingfisher’s new book. “The Mess That the Editor Fixes: What Feasts at Night by T. Kingfisher” at Stone Soup.

T. Kingfisher has been one of my favorite horror authors since I read The Twisted Ones, one of the only novels that has ever made me scream out loud with genuine terror. In 2022, Kingfisher released the Locus Award-winning novella What Moves the Dead, an early entry into the now-thriving world of Fungal Gothic Literature. It’s a tale of declining wealth and reanimation (sort of), and it includes some fascinating worldbuilding conversations about social constructions of gender. I got to connect with Kingfisher and the production team at Tor to discuss the upcoming sequel to What Moves the Dead. What follows is a deep dive into the process behind What Feasts at Night….

Gailey: Okay, T. Kingfisher, tell us what you do.

T. Kingfisher, Author, What Feasts at Night: I write the mess that the editor fixes. I always say that my dream is to sit in a room and write and have people shove food and checks under the door, and Tor is like “Here is a sandwich and a check and we wrote a list of all the advertisements the book has appeared in on the napkin.” It’s basically the perfect relationship, so far as I’m concerned. Lindsey Hall, my editor, is an absolute champ!…

(4) XENOMORPHS ON THE LOOSE AGAIN. Variety interviews the director of the next Aliens movie in “’Alien: Romulus’ Trailer: Fede Alvarez Teases Facehuggers, Frights”.

…“Alien: Romulus” marks the seventh film in the “Alien” franchise, and the overall ninth involving acid-blooded xenomorphs, if you include the “Aliens vs. Predator” crossover films. Writer-director Álvarez is about to complicate its already convoluted timeline even further with “Romulus,” which premieres August 16. But the more important question is, will it be better than some of the more lackluster chapters in this ongoing saga — which there are probably more of than great ones?…

How tough was it to find a balance between the little green computer monitors of “Alien” and the futuristic technology of the more recent films?

I know a lot of people felt like it makes no sense. But I think we make the mistake when we watch the Nostromo and assume that’s how the entire universe looks like. If I decide to make a movie on Earth today, and I go to the Mojave Desert and I take an old truck because a guy drives a Chevy, if you’re an alien, you’re going to go, “That’s what the world looks like.” But it doesn’t mean there’s not a guy in a Tesla in the city, which would be the “Prometheus” ship. The first movie is truck drivers in a beat-up truck. “Prometheus” is the ship of the richest man in the world….

(5) PRE-WORLDCON TOUR OF SCOTLAND OFFERED. Val and Ron Ontell are fans who have been running tours in connection with Worldcon since 1987. Past tours have included Britain, Australia, Ireland, Japan, and Scandinavia/St. Petersburg. They are currently organizing one for two weeks in Scotland beginning in Edinburgh and ending in Glasgow the day before the con begins.

Some of the highlights: Loch Ness, Inverness and the Highlands, the Isles of Arran and Skye, Stirling Castle, a ride on the Jacobite Steam Train (aka the Hogwarts Express), going into a Concorde SST at the National Museum of Flight, having a traditional Scottish dinner (including haggis), and attending the Edinburgh Tattoo. Click for the itinerary.

For complete information, visit their website at <ontell.org/Scotland> or contact them at <[email protected]>.

(6) FREE FLYER. Flaco, the escaped Central Park Zoo owl, died on February 23. The owl’s story is the premise for a book competition offering a $20,000 prize from Brazen House Inc. Contact [email protected] for full details.

The story of Flaco, the owl from Central Park Zoo, has touched people all over the world as a tale of inspiration and admonition for humans. The Eurasian eagle-owl escaped from his cage after thirteen years in captivity and moved about fearlessly in the concrete jungle of New York skyscrapers, pursuing freedom and a little perch he could call home. He found neither in that rich patch of America that stands for freedom and opportunity. Even though he had a legion of human supporters rooting for him, the authorities shadowed him, trying to get him back into his cage. As for finding a home, every inch of the land had been claimed by humans. After a year of striving and struggling, Flaco met with a tragic death when he crashed into a building on the Upper West Side.

If Flaco could speak to us from the other side of the veil, what would he say about his captive life and the brief freedom he enjoyed? What resentments would he have about the humans who for years kept him in a cage as an object of mere curiosity? What were his most joyful moments in freedom? What did he pine for most as he ranged over the concrete jungle of New York City?

Brazen House is soliciting proposals for an imaginative novel that will tell his story through his eyes and reflect on how humans regard other species. The book is intended for young adults, but the story and the writing should resonate with older readers as well. And it should make a distinguished contribution to the literature for young readers in enhancing their appreciation of other species with whom we share this Earth…

The submission should be exclusive to Brazen House. The winning proposal will be announced on September 1, 2024….

Somtow Sucharitkul sent the news item to File 770 with a disclosure, “I’m doing a new trilogy with his publishing house and I’m on his committee to pick the winning book for the 20,000 prize.”

(7) E PLURIBUS YRTH. And since we’ve mentioned Somtow’s new trilogy from Brazen House…

Yrth Trilogy by S.P. Somtow

An epic series by World Fantasy Award winning author S.P. Somtow

A timeless story reinvented for the 21st Century: with the sweep of Lord of the Rings and the spectacle of Dune

An eon from now, humans are mostly a memory, wiped out by war and their own hubris, living on the fringes. Yrth is a desolate wasteland, but life has started to return. New races have begun to live in the wasteland, finding their own harmony with their environment. Some have evolved from what were once thought of as animals. Others were created to make real the myths and imaginings of the departed humans. These races have created pockets of utopia.

But will they repeat the mistakes of past, and return Yrth to the realm of shadow? Can many species become a united world?

(8) LIGHTS…CAMERA…WATCH MEDIA! “Sci-Fi Series ‘Murderbot’ Officially Begins Filming at Apple TV+” reports Midgard Times.

The upcoming Apple TV+ sci-fi series, “Murderbot” has officially begun filming this Monday in Toronto, Canada. Starring Alexander Skarsgård in the leading role, the series is based on the award-winning books by Martha Wells.

“Murderbot” is described as an action-packed sci-fi series based on Wells’ award-winning novels about a self-hacking security android who is appalled by human emotion but lured to its weak “clients.” Murderbot must suppress its free will and perform a perilous mission when all it truly wants is to be left alone to watch future soap operas and find out its place in space….

…The 10-episode Murderbot is expected to take more than three months to complete the production. As per the current schedule, the sci-fi series will officially wrap filming on June 27, 2024. The series comes from Chris and Paul Weitz, who are writing, directing, and producing it, while also acting as showrunners….

(9) THY THREE SUNS. Critic Inkoo Kang tells readers of The New Yorker, “’3 Body Problem’ Is a Rare Species of Sci-Fi Epic”.

…“3 Body Problem” belongs to an all too rare breed: mainstream entertainment that leads its viewers down bracingly original speculative corridors. The scenario the show ultimately posits bears little resemblance to traditional sci-fi fare; the aliens are coming, but not for another four hundred years, putting humanity on notice for an encounter—and possibly a war—that’s many lifetimes away. This time span is as much a curse as a blessing. Forget the science for a second; what kind of political will—totalitarian or otherwise—is required to keep centuries of preparation on track? How do we get the über-rich to contribute to a new space race in a way that also flatters their egos? And what resources does it take to accelerate scientific discovery to a breakneck pace?…

(10) M. EMMETT WALSH (1935-2024). Character actor M. Emmet Walsh died March 19 at the age of 88 reports Variety.

…In Ridley Scott’s 1982 “Blade Runner,” Walsh was Harrison Ford’s LAPD boss, while he played the vicious private detective Loren Visser in the Coen brothers’ directing debut “Blood Simple.” Wearing a sickly yellow suit, Pauline Kael said he was the film’s “only colorful performer. He lays on the loathsomeness, but he gives it a little twirl — a sportiness.”

His other roles included the corrupt sheriff in the 1986 horror film “Critters” and a small role as a security guard in “Knives Out.”…

He also did voice work in Iron Giant.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born March 20, 1932 Jack Cady. (Died 2004.) Jack Cady’s Wikipedia page says he’s known “mostly as an award-winning writer of fantasy, horror, and science fiction. He won the Nebula Award, the World Fantasy Award, and the Bram Stoker Award.” I’m betting that he’s much more than just his ‘Wards, don’t you think?

So let’s see… Ghost stories are a good place to begin I think. McDowell’s Ghost gives a fresh spin on the trope of seeing a War Between The States ghost, and The Night We Buried Road Dog is another ghost story set in early Sixties Montana. 

Jack Cady

Now The Well is not quite a ghost story as such but it’s a haunted house story of sorts heavy on the horror, really heavy on the horror. 

Not a ghost story as such but equally impressive is Inagehi which is the story of a young Cherokee woman who inherits a mountain and the mystery of her father’s death. 

Now Dark Dreaming with Carol Orlockreminds me just a bit of He Who Shapes in its use of the darker side of dreams. Well much darker than Zelazny ever did. Don’t read later at night.

Cady’s The Man Who Could Make Things Vanish is a tale of a man who make anything disappear against an organisation that might or might exist wanting to rule the world. 

He wrote more novels than that but those are the ones I’m familiar with. 

He also wrote quite a bit of short fiction, some sixty pieces I figure. Phantoms: Collected Writings, Volume 1 and Fanthoms: Collected Writings, Volume 2, both done a decade ago, collect about forty-five pieces of short fiction. Both are available at the usual suspects. 

Those ‘Wards? He won a Nebula and Stoker for a novella, “The Night We Buried Road Dog”; the World Fantasy Award was for a short collection, The Sons of Noah & Other Stories; and the final one was the International Horror Guild Award a warded for Outstanding achievements in the field of Horror and Dark Fantasy.

(12) COMICS SECTION.

(13) CONTINUAL HEALING. “’I’m still trying to recover’: Annie Potts on Ghostbusters, Toy Story – and the car crash that almost killed her” in the Guardian.

…Ask her why she thinks Ghostbusters is so enduring, and she replies: “Well, it’s made a lot of money.” But the reason for that is the affection audiences have for it. “It was uniquely hilarious and scary – it’s scalarious – and that turned out to be a very good combination.” For those of us who loved it as children, she thinks we’re trying to “get back to that moment where you’ve been both tickled and scared. And so here we are, 40 years later.” We’re speaking over Zoom; Potts is in New York for the premiere, and she’s warm, funny and has the straightforward air of someone who has seen it all….

…As well as Janine returning, the original team played by Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd and Ernie Hudson are also back; Harold Ramis, who played Egon Spengler, died in 2014. Spengler’s estranged daughter and her children are part of the new crew (having been introduced in 2021’s Ghostbusters: Afterlife). “So they have the young ghostbuster, and the mom ghostbuster, and then they have me, the old lady ghostbuster,” says Potts, delightedly….

…Just as her career was getting started, it was almost derailed by a car crash when she was 21. “Drunk drivers, three carloads of teenagers in the middle of the day were drag-racing down the wrong side of a two-lane highway and ran head on into the car I was in.” Virtually every bone in her body below the waist was broken, she says. “It took a very long time to recover. I’m still trying to recover.” It must have shattered her sense of security and invincibility, which many of us take for granted at that age. “Yes, when you almost lose your life, it becomes pretty dear. I don’t know if you can know how dear it is until you are faced with losing it.”…

(14) BUCKET TWIST. “The Surprise Ending of ‘Dune,’ the Popcorn Bucket” – the New York Times consults a nutritionist about the impact of the souvenir container.

In the “Dune” movies, a gigantic sandworm can rise from the desert and devour soldiers and military vehicles in its gaping maw. In real life, humans watching movies devour popcorn. These two ideas have been combined to spawn the “Dune” popcorn bucket, a sandworm-shaped tub that is having a cultural moment. The bucket arrives on the heels of other recent popcorn collectibles, like the 16-inch Barbie Corvette snack holder. But is there more to these vessels than meets the eye?

Lindsay Moyer thinks about popcorn. She is the senior nutritionist at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a nonprofit consumer advocacy group focused on food systems and healthy eating. She sat down with The New York Times to discuss what she sees when she considers “Dune: The Popcorn Bucket.” This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

…My colleague and I called some AMC locations this morning, and they all told us that the “Dune” bucket is like getting a large popcorn there, but that it varies by location. We talked to their employees and asked them how many calories are listed on the menu, and a large has 980 calories. My understanding is that would be before you added any buttery topping yourself, if you choose to add it…

(15) QUITE A COLLECTIBLE. “Manhattan Project Report Signed by J. Robert Oppenheimer Sells at Auction” at Smithsonian Magazine.

report describing the creation of the atomic bomb signed by J. Robert Oppenheimer sold for $53,594 at auction last week.

The RR Auction sale took place just a few days after Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer cleaned up at the Oscars, where it won in seven categories (including Best Picture and Best Director)….

The 200-page document—titled “Atomic Bombs: A General Account of the Development of Methods of Using Atomic Energy for Military Purposes Under the Auspices of the United States Government, 1940-1945”—was signed by Oppenheimer, the theoretical physicist who directed the Manhattan Project, and 23 other contributors, including Enrico FermiErnest LawrenceJames Chadwick and Harold Urey. It provides a detailed description of the “technical and administrative history” of the atomic bomb’s development….

… Nellie V. Sanderson, the secretary for General Leslie Groves (who oversaw the Manhattan Project), collected the signatures, intercepting the men as they came to meet with Groves and asking them to sign the report.

Along with the report, the anonymous buyer also got several items that belonged to Sanderson, including letters, documents and a Manhattan Project shoulder patch. One of Groves’ business cards was also included in the lot….

(16) A.I. REALLY MEANS ARTIFICIAL IMPRESSIONISM. Adam Gopnik seeks an answer to the question “What Can A.I. Art Teach Us About the Real Thing?” in The New Yorker.

…The range and ease of pictorial invention offered by A.I. image generation is startling; the question, though, is whether its arrival is merely recreational or actually revolutionary. Is it like the invention of the electric light bulb or like the coming of the lava lamp? Herewith, some thoughts.

The intersection of new machines with new kinds of images has a long history. I once owned a French drawing device—a kind of camera lucida, with reflecting mirrors and refracting prisms—that called itself a Machine to Draw the World. It took for granted that the task of image-making was to incise and adjust a drawing to a pattern of light—in itself, a fiendishly difficult action that preoccupied artists for centuries. (Whether actual machines like it played a significant role in the art of Vermeer or Rembrandt is an unsettled question.)

But systems like dall-e 2 don’t operate on light and shadow; they operate on art history—on the almost bottomless reservoir of images on which they’re trained. And the power of images lies less in their arguments than in their ambiguities. That’s why the images that dall-e 2 makes are far more interesting than the texts that A.I. chatbots make. To be persuasive, a text demands a point; in contrast, looking at pictures, we can be fascinated by atmospheres and uncertainties. Even images made to persuade—such as propaganda posters or altarpieces—are only communicative through the intercession of our outside knowledge of the narratives that they illuminate. When you don’t know the story, even tutelary religious pictures become enigmatic. 

…This is not a machine to draw the world. Instead, it proposes a recombinant approach to popular imagery as a means of making art. (The dialogue of popular imagery and modern art was, as it happens, the topic of that abandoned Ph.D. thesis.) In effect, it exploits, and has installed in it as a premise, an idea specific to a particular heritage of image-making, the heritage of Symbolism, and then of the Surrealism that Symbolism engendered. Appropriately enough, the system takes its punning name from a Surrealist painter, since dall-e 2 is ideally trimmed to make soft watches and derby hats on dogs and trains racing out of fireplaces….

(17) PUTTING HIS FOOT DOWN FOR SAFETY. “Godzilla was back on the streets of Tokyo — this time for a good cause”NPR’s “Morning Edition” has the story.

…Good morning, I’m Steve Inskeep. Godzilla, the monster of Japanese movie fame, was back on the streets of Tokyo. This time, the kaiju visited on a public service mission to encourage people to observe traffic safety laws. Godzilla was even made police chief for a day. Think of the size of his hat. The appearance was part of a campaign using Japanese movie characters to promote traffic safety. I wonder what job they gave Pikachu….

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, JeffWarner, Robin Anne Reid, Kathy Sullivan, Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, and Steven French for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Peer.]

Pixel Scroll 3/14/24 I Am The Go-Captain Of The Pixelfore

(1) LIBBY BOOK AWARDS. Congratulations to Martha Wells and Rebecca Yarros, two of the 17 winners of the inaugural Libby Book Awards, chosen by a panel of 1700 librarians worldwide.

  • Fiction: The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store, by James McBride
  • Nonfiction: The Wager, by David Grann
  • Young Adult: Divine Rivals, by Rebecca Ross
  • Audiobook: I Have Some Questions for You, by Rebecca Makkai
  • Debut Author: The House in the Pines, by Ana Reyes
  • Diverse Author: Camp Zero, by Michelle Min Sterling
  • Comic Graphic Novel: The Talk, by Darrin Bell
  • Memoir & Autobiography: Pageboy, by Elliot Page
  • Cookbook: Start Here, by Sohla El-Waylly
  • Mystery: Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice for Murderers, by Jesse Q. Sutanto
  • Thriller: Bright Young Women, by Jessica Knoll
  • Romance: Georgie, All Along, by Kate Clayborn
  • Fantasy: Fourth Wing, by Rebecca Yarros
  • Romantasy: Iron Flame, by Rebecca Yarros
  • Science Fiction: System Collapse, by Martha Wells
  • Historical Fiction: Let Us Descend, by Jesmyn Ward
  • Book Club Pick: Yellowface, by R. F. Kuang

(2) BOOK BANS SURGED IN 2023. “American Library Association reports record number of unique book titles challenged in 2023” at ALA.org.

Stack of books background. many books piles

The number of titles targeted for censorship surged 65 percent in 2023 compared to 2022, reaching the highest levels ever documented by the American Library Association (ALA). The new numbers released today show efforts to censor 4,240 unique book titles* in schools and libraries. This tops the previous high from 2022, when 2,571 unique titles were targeted for censorship. 

ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom documented 1,247 demands to censor library books, materials, and resources in 2023. Four key trends emerged from the data gathered from 2023 censorship reports: 

  • Pressure groups in 2023 focused on public libraries in addition to targeting school libraries. The number of titles targeted for censorship at public libraries increased by 92 percent over the previous year; school libraries saw an 11 percent increase.
  • Groups and individuals demanding the censorship of multiple titles, often dozens or hundreds at a time, drove this surge.  
  • Titles representing the voices and lived experiences of LGBTQIA+ and BIPOC individuals made up 47 percent of those targeted in censorship attempts. 
  • There were attempts to censor more than 100 titles in each of these 17 states: Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

“The reports from librarians and educators in the field make it clear that the organized campaigns to ban books aren’t over, and that we must all stand together to preserve our right to choose what we read,” said Deborah Caldwell-Stone, director of ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom. “Each demand to ban a book is a demand to deny each person’s constitutionally protected right to choose and read books that raise important issues and lift up the voices of those who are often silenced.  By joining initiatives like Unite Against Book Bans and other organizations that support libraries and schools, we can end this attack on essential community institutions and our civil liberties.”…

(3) PNH’S NEW POST AT TPG. “Patrick Nielsen Hayden to Become Editor-at-Large for TPG” reports Publishers Weekly.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden has assumed the title of editor-at-large for the Tor Publishing Group. Hayden has been with TPG for 35 years and most recently served as v-p, associate publisher, and editor-in-chief.

During his tenure, he has published the debut novels of authors such as Charlie Jane Anders, Corey Doctorow, John Scalzi, and Jo Walton, and has received three Hugo Awards and a World Fantasy Award for his editorial work. In 2020, he founded our Tor Essentials imprint, which highlights a new generation of SFF classics. 

As editor-at-large, he will continue to edit such authors as Scalzi, Doctorow, and Walton, and will continue to select and oversee the Tor Essentials. 

In announcing Hayden’s new role, TPG president and publisher Devi Pillai added that the company “will not be replacing Patrick in his previous position—he is one of a kind.”

Patrick Nielsen Hayden in 2013. Photo by Scott Edelman.

(4) WICKED WORLD’S FAIR FOLLOWUP. “Eventbrite Refutes Mach’s Claims About WWF Payouts, Hints at Possible ‘Actions’” at The Steampunk Explorer. The linked post adds a great deal more coverage after this introductory item:

Amid the fallout from the Wicked World’s Fair (WWF), show organizer Jeff Mach has repeatedly blamed Eventbrite, the online ticketing and event management platform, for his inability to cover the event’s expenses. But in a statement provided Wednesday to The Steampunk Explorer, Eventbrite refuted key aspects of his claims.

WWF was held Feb. 23-25 at the SureStay Plus hotel in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Mach used Eventbrite to manage ticket sales, as well as sales of vendor spaces. During the event, as a sound crew was awaiting payment and vendors were requesting refunds, he told them that Eventbrite had frozen his account, preventing use of the platform’s payout features.

In the weeks that followed, Mach continued to blame Eventbrite for payment issues at WWF. “I had repeated assurances from Eventbrite that the money would be forthcoming,” he remarked in one statement to The Steampunk Explorer. “Why Eventbrite had the account locked down, but refused to tell us, I don’t know.”

This was the company’s response on Wednesday: “Eventbrite offers, but does not guarantee, multiple ways to request funds ahead of the event date. Due to an error on the organizer’s end, we can confirm that a few of these advance payouts were delayed. This was quickly remedied, and the organizer received much of his payout ahead of the event and has now been paid out in full.”…

(5) I NEVER WANTED TO GO DOWN THE STONEY END. [Item by Danny Sichel.] Last month, Doug Muir did a piece about the impending death of Voyager 1, originally launched in 1977. “Death, Lonely Death” at Crooked Timber.

…Voyager has grown old.  It was never designed for this!  Its original mission was supposed to last a bit over three years.  Voyager has turned out to be much tougher than anyone ever imagined, but time gets us all.  Its power source is a generator full of radioactive isotopes, and those are gradually decaying into inert lead.  Year by year, the energy declines, the power levels  relentlessly fall.  Year by year, NASA has been switching off Voyager’s instruments to conserve that dwindling flicker.  They turned off its internal heater a few years ago, and they thought that might be the end.  But those 1970s engineers built to last, and the circuitry and the valves kept working even as the temperature dropped down, down, colder than dry ice, colder than liquid nitrogen, falling towards absolute zero.  

(Voyager stored its internal data on a digital tape recorder.  Yes, a tape recorder, storing information on magnetic tape.  It wasn’t designed to function at a hundred degrees below zero.  It wasn’t designed to work for decades, winding and rewinding, endlessly re-writing data.  But it did.)…

… We thought we knew how Voyager would end.  The power would gradually, inevitably, run down.  The instruments would shut off, one by one.  The signal would get fainter.  Eventually either the last instrument would fail for lack of power, or the signal would be lost.

We didn’t expect that it would go mad.

In December 2023, Voyager started sending back gibberish instead of data.  A software glitch, though perhaps caused by an underlying hardware problem; a cosmic ray strike, or a side effect of the low temperatures, or just aging equipment randomly causing some bits to flip.

The problem was, the gibberish was coming from the flight direction software — something like an operating system.  And no copy of that operating system remained in existence on Earth….

But all is not lost. Well, probably. But not necessarily. At the link you can read the rest of the story about the people trying to put the smoke back in the system from fifteen billion kilometers away.

(6) WEIMER GUESTS ON WORLDBUILDING FOR MASOCHISTS. Paul Weimer joins hosts Marshall Ryan Maresca, Cass Morris, and Natania Barron for  episode 124 of the Worldbuilding for Masochists podcast, “Worldbuilding in Review”.

We spend a lot of time thinking about how to work with worldbuilding as writers — but how does a reviewer approach the topic when they’re reading works of sci-fi and fantasy? Guest Paul Weimer joins us to share his insights as a prolific consumer and critiquer of speculative fiction! Paul talks about the details that he pays attention to, the things he looks for, and the things that draw his attention, as well as discussing the purpose of reviews and who they’re for (hint: it’s not the authors!).

In this episode, we spin things around to look at how we approach worldbuilding and narrative construction as readers — since we are, of course, readers as well as writers! We explore of aspects of how a writer can set and, hopefully, meet expectations through worldbuilding — and where that can sometimes become challenging as a series goes on. What makes a world exciting to enter in the first place? What grips a reader and keeps them with it? And how can you use worldbuilding to make your wizard chase sequence a more cohesive part of your world?

(7) ENTRIES SOUGHT FOR BALTICON SHORT FILM FESTIVAL. Balticon Sunday Short Science Fiction Film Festival has been revised and is looking for talented filmmakers. Full guidelines here: “Short Film Festival”. Entries must be submitted by April 10 2024.

In 2024, the Balticon Sunday Short Science Fiction Film Festival (BSSSFFF) will take place on Sunday evening at 7:00pm. We will thrill festival attendees with independently produced short films from around the region and across the globe. BSSSFFF features live action and animated films in the science fiction, fantasy, and horror from some of the best independent filmmakers this side of the Crab Nebula.

Awards will be given in both the Live Action and Animation category based upon audience preferences. Some of the history of this film festival can be found on the BSFS website.

(8) TRY SUNDAY MORNING TRANSPORT. Mary Robinette Kowal has posted a link valid for a 60-day free trial of Sunday Morning Transport.

(9) ONE SUPERHERO ACTOR CONS ANOTHER. “Simu Liu was scammed by a Hollywood Boulevard Spider-Man” at Entertainment Weekly.

Simu Liu is reflecting on an enemy he made during his first visit to Los Angeles: a not-so-friendly neighborhood Spider-Man.

During an interview with Jesse Tyler Ferguson on Dinner’s On Me, the Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings actor recalled an unfortunate encounter with a swindling web-slinger on Hollywood Boulevard. “I remember I was taking photos of the Chinese Theater and a Spider-Man came up to me and was like, ‘I’ll help you!’” the actor remembered.

Alas, Liu’s spider-sense didn’t alert him to the insidious plot that was about to unfold. “And then he took a bunch of photos of me, and then he took some selfies of himself, and then he was like, ‘That’ll be $20!’” the actor said. “And that was mortifying for me, because I didn’t have $20 to give him. Core memory, clearly.”

(10) INTELLECTUAL (?) PROPERTY. Jon Del Arroz tagged me on X.com about this. I clicked through and was fascinated to learn he has declared Sad Puppies is a movement “owned and led by JDA!”

OFFICIAL Sad Puppies merch is now live on the store! Show your allegiance to this great movement which is owned and led by JDA!

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born March 14, 1933 Michael Caine, 91. On my list of favorite British performers of all time, Michael Caine is near the top of that list. Both his genre and non-genre performances are amazing. So let’s take a look at those performances.

Caine portrayed Alfred Pennyworth in Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy. He was quite stellar in this role. And he was in The Prestige, a truly great film, as John Cutter, in Inception as Stephen Miles, Professor John Brand in Interstellar and Sir Michael Crosby in Tenet.

Did you see him in as Ebenezer Scrooge in The Muppet Christmas Carol? If not, go see it now. He’s wonderful and The Muppet take on the Dickens story is, errr, well actually touching. Really it is.

Definitely not genre is The Man Who Would Be King, based off the Kipling story, which starred him with Sean Connery, Saeed Jaffrey and Christopher Plummer. The two primary characters were played by Sean Connery — Daniel Dravot — and Caine played the other, Peachy Carnehan. A truly fantastic film. 

Michael Caine and Sean Connery in The Man Who Would Be King.

In the Jekyll & Hyde miniseries, he’s got the usual dual role of Dr Henry Jekyll / Mr Edward Hyde. He was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – in a Miniseries. He did win a Globe for Best Actor for playing Chief Insp. Frederick Abberline in the Jack Ripper miniseries airing the same time.

Nearly thirty years ago, he was Captain Nemo in a 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea miniseries. 

He’s in Austin Powers in Goldmember, third film in the franchise. He’s Nigel Powers, a British agent and Austin and Dr. Evil’s father. Can someone explain to me the appeal of these films? 

In Children of Men, he plays Jasper Palmer, Theo’s dealer and friend, Theo being the primary character in this dystopian film. 

He’s Chester King in Kingsman: The Secret Service. That’s off the Millarworld graphic novel of Kingsman: The Secret Service by Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons.

I’m reasonably sure that’s all I need to mention about his career.

(12) COMICS SECTION.

  • Blondie anticipates tomorrow’s celebration of World Sleep Day.
  • Frazz figures out the anatomy involved in scientific advancement.
  • Does F Minus depict the dream of some File 770 commenters?
  • Non Sequitur imagines the earliest days of streaming.
  • Carpe Diem has a new origin story.

(13) OCTOTHORPE. In episode 105 of the Octothorpe podcast, John Coxon watches movies, Alison Scott walks on the Moon, and Liz Batty has special bonds. Listen here: “Scorching Hot Month-Old Takes”.

In this episode, we talk through your letters of comment with diversions into Zodiac podcasts, poetry collections, and Scientology. We discuss the BSFA Awards shortlist and return to the Hugo Awards for another round of head-scratching and bewilderment.

A famous photograph of Margaret Hamilton standing beside printed outputs of the code that took the Apollo spacecraft to the Moon, overlaid with the words “Octothorpe 105” and “Liz has finished reading the latest Hugo Award exposés”.

(14) OUTSIDE THE BOX — AND INSIDE THE SHELVES. Harlan Ellison’s Greatest Hits can already be found in some bookstores, ahead of the official release date.

(15) GLIMPSE OF BLACK MIRROR. “Black Mirror Season 7 Will Arrive in 2025 With a Sequel to One of Its Most Beloved Episodes”IGN has the story.

Netflix’s long-running bleak anthology series, Black Mirror, is coming back for Season 7 next year, and it’s bringing a sequel to fan-favorite episode USS Callister with it.

The streaming platform announced the news during its Next on Netflix event in London (via The Hollywood Reporter), later bringing public confirmation with a cryptic message on X/Twitter. The post contains a video teasing the six episodes, and judging by the familiar logo that appears, it sounds like the third will be the one to give us our USS Callister sequel.

(16) THE GANG’S ALL HERE. “Doctor Who’s Russell T Davies and Steven Moffat unite to support Chris Chibnall”Radio Times cheers the gesture.

Doctor Who writers past and present have shared a photo together after Russell T Davies and Steven Moffat attended a performance of Chris Chibnall’s new play.

Recently returned showrunner Davies posted the image to his Instagram page alongside the caption: “A marvellous night out in Salisbury to see Chris Chibnall’s wonderful new play, One Last Push.”

And he added: “Also, we plotted Zarbi vs Garms”, referencing two classic Doctor Who monsters…

(17) TRUE OR FALSE? Radio Times reviews evidence supporting story that “Doctor Who’s Steven Moffat ‘returns to write 2024 Christmas special’”.

More than six years after his final episode of Doctor Who aired, it appears that former showrunner Steven Moffat may be returning to write a new episode of the sci-fi.

While the news has not yet been confirmed, it was picked up on Tuesday 12th March that producer Alison Sterling’s CV had been updated to note she had worked on the show’s 2024 Christmas special.

Underneath this, it was noted that the director of the episode is Alex Pillai, while it was stated that the writer is one Steven Moffat. The notes regarding the writer and director of the episode have since been removed….

One factor which may throw doubt on the idea that Moffat has written the special, is that Russell T Davies previously said that he himself was writing it back in 2022.

(18) STARSHIP HITS SOME MARKS. “SpaceX celebrates major progress on the third flight of Starship”ArsTechnica has details.

… The successful launch builds on two Starship test flights last year that achieved some, but not all, of their objectives and appears to put the privately funded rocket program on course to begin launching satellites, allowing SpaceX to ramp up the already-blistering pace of Starlink deployments.

“Starship reached orbital velocity!” wrote Elon Musk, SpaceX’s founder and CEO, on his social media platform X. “Congratulations SpaceX team!!”

SpaceX scored several other milestones with Thursday’s test flight, including a test of Starship’s payload bay door, which would open and shut on future flights to release satellites into orbit. A preliminary report from SpaceX also indicated Starship transferred super-cold liquid oxygen propellant between two tanks inside the rocket, a precursor to more ambitious in-orbit refueling tests planned in the coming years. Future Starship flights into deep space, such as missions to land astronauts on the Moon for NASA, will require SpaceX to transfer hundreds of tons of cryogenic propellant between ships in orbit.

Starship left a few other boxes unchecked Thursday. While it made it closer to splashdown than before, the Super Heavy booster plummeted into the Gulf of Mexico in an uncontrolled manner. If everything went perfectly, the booster would have softly settled into the sea after reigniting its engines for a landing burn.

A restart of one of Starship’s Raptor engines in space—one of the three new test objectives on this flight—did not happen for reasons SpaceX officials did not immediately explain.

Part rocket and part spacecraft, Starship is designed to launch up to 150 metric tons (330,000 pounds) of cargo into low-Earth orbit when SpaceX sets aside enough propellant to recover the booster and the ship. Flown in expendable mode, Starship could launch almost double that amount of payload mass to orbit, according to Musk….

Space.com has a video at the link: “SpaceX launches giant Starship rocket into space on epic 3rd test flight (video)”.

(19) FAILURE TO LAUNCH. Elsewhere, some bad news from Japan: “Space One’s Kairos rocket explodes on inaugural flight” reports Reuters.

Kairos, a small, solid-fuel rocket made by Japan’s Space One, exploded shortly after its inaugural launch on Wednesday as the firm tried to become the first Japanese company to put a satellite in orbit…

(20) TALKING TO NUMBER ONE. In Gizmodo’s opinion, “This New Robot Is So Far Ahead of Elon Musk’s Optimus That It’s Almost Embarrassing”.

As if Elon Musk needed yet another reason to hate OpenAI. Figure, a startup that partnered with OpenAI to develop a humanoid robot, released a new video on Wednesday. And it’s truly heads above anything Tesla has demonstrated to date with the Optimus robot.

The video from Figure, which is available on YouTube, shows a human interacting with a robot dubbed Figure 01 (pronounced Figure One). The human has a natural-sounding conversation with the robot, asking it to first identify what it’s looking at….

(21) MILLION DAYS TRAILER. “A Million Days” is available on Digital Platforms 18 March.

The year is 2041 and the next step in the future of humankind is imminent. After decades of training and research, the mission to create the first lunar colony is about to launch with Anderson as lead astronaut. Jay, an AI purpose built for the mission, has simulated every possible outcome for the expedition. Tensions arise when the chilling motives of Jay become apparent, sowing the seeds of distrust between Anderson, and the group that had gathered to quietly celebrate the launch. As the night descends into chaos, the group’s faith in one another and their mission begins to crack, with the knowledge that the decisions they make before sunrise, will change humanity forever.

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

Pixel Scroll 5/18/22 Fili, Scrolli, Pixeli – I Liked, Scrolled And Pixeled — Fiulius Pixar

(1) ANIME CENTRAL RELAXES MASK POLICY. Anime Central is a convention taking place in Chicago from May 20-22. At the end of April the con committee was adamant that for ACen 2022 they’d be requiring all attendees to wear a mask and provide proof of vaccination or a negative Covid test result, and that this policy would not change.

However, their Covid policy has changed after all, reports Anime News Network: “Anime Central 2022 Reverses Mask Policy, No Longer Requires COVID-19 Vaccination or Negative Test”. ANN says, “An e-mail sent by and to Anime Central staff suggests that this was a decision made by the Midwest Animation Promotion Society (MAPS) following ‘lack of support from the venue’ and ‘last-minute communication.’”

Anime Central has changed its Covid policy to read:

…Our policies are based on current CDC Guidelines and align with the requirements of the Donald E. Stephens Conventions Center and state and local health authorities regarding large indoor events. Currently, verification of vaccination or proof of negative test are not required for admission to the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center or Anime Central. We will continue to monitor the requirements and guidance from state and local health departments….

Face Coverings Required in Select Areas

In our recent vaccine and mask policy change announcement, we stated that face coverings may be required in some areas of Anime Central or at the request of our guests of honor at their events. We’ve received a lot of feedback for clarification on which areas and events will require a face covering and which do not. Face coverings will be required to enter:

  • All guest and panelist events
  • The Dances
  • The Exhibit Hall
  • The Artist Alley
  • The Gaming and Entertainment Hall

We strongly recommend wearing masks in all lobbies, hallways, public spaces, and restrooms. Our team will continue to do the best we can to help enforce this in our spaces, we ask that you also join in in masking even where it’s not required.

(2) A WARNING. “’Have we not loved you? Have we not cared for you?’: The Plight of AI in the Universe of Douglas Adams” examined by Rachel Taylor at the Tor/Forge Blog.

…When we think of the dangers of AI, we normally think of Skynet, HAL or AM. And sure, there is a non-zero chance that any Super AI might spend five minutes on the internet and think “ah, I see the problem. Where are those nuclear codes?” But honestly, if I had to place money on the science fiction writer who will prove most prophetic in depicting our future relationship with AI? Not Philip K. Dick. Not Harlan Ellison. Not Asimov.

Douglas Adams, all the way.

In the universe of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and its sequels across all media the relationship between humanity and the various computers and robots they’ve created is less apocalyptic warfare and more like a miserably unhappy marriage….

(3) ROSWELL VOICES. Here are the celebrity readers for this weekend’s 2022 Roswell Award event. Register for the free Zoom presentation.

The Roswell Award and Feminist Futures Award: Celebrity Readings & Honors recognizes outstanding new works of science fiction by emerging writers from across the United States and worldwide, including the winner of this year’s feminist themed sci-fi story. This thrilling show will feature dramatic readings by celebrity guests from some of today’s hottest sci-fi and fantasy shows and movies. Following the readings, the authors will be honored for their writing! 

(4) AURORA VOTERS PACKAGE. Canadian Science Fiction & Fantasy Association members can now download the 2022 Aurora Awards Voters Package. Login (or join) at www.prixaurorawards.ca. Downloads remain available until voting closes on July 23.  Voting for the 2022 awards will begin on June 11.

Have you started reading works by this year’s finalists? We are pleased to announce that this year’s voters’ package contains either e-versions or links for every single one of our 2022 nominated works and is open to all CSFFA members to download.

The electronic versions of these works are being made available to you through the generosity of the nominees and their publishers. We are grateful for their participation and willingness to share with CSFFA members. Please remember, all downloads are for CSFFA members only and are not to be shared.

The purpose of the voters’ package is simple–before you vote for the awards, we want you to be able to experience as many of the nominated works as possible so you can make informed decisions.

(5) HEAR RHYSLING NOMINEES READ ALOUD. The second of three readings of the short poems nominated for the Rhysling Awards will be held on May 20, 2022 from 7:00 to 8:15 p.m. Eastern, live on Facebook via Zoom. tinyurl.com/Rhysling2

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association presents the annual Rhysling Awards, named for the blind poet Rhysling in Robert A. Heinlein’s short story “The Green Hills of Earth.” Apollo 15 astronauts named a crater near their landing site “Rhysling,” which has since become its official name.

Nominees for each year’s Rhysling Awards are selected by the membership of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association. For 2022, 103 short poems and 78 long poems were nominated.

The last reading of the nominated short poems in the Rhysling anthology will be held on June 6, 2022 from 7 to 8 p.m. EDT. The readings, hosted by Akua Lezli Hope, are free and open to the public. 

(6) THE FIRST TRAILER FOR SHE-HULK. “You’ll like her when she’s angry.” She-Hulk: Attorney at Law, an Original series from Marvel Studios, starts streaming August 17 on Disney+.

(7) HIGHER LEARNING. In the Washington Post, Mary Quattlebaum interviews Dhonielle Clayton about The Marvellers, her YA magic-school novel. “’The Marvellers’ by Dhonielle Clayton features a diverse school of magic”.

… “So many people said it couldn’t be done,” said Dhonielle (pronounced don-yell) Clayton about a novel set in a school of magic. “How can anyone compete with Harry Potter?”

Well, Clayton proved them wrong. “The Marvellers,” the first book in her new middle-grade series, was launched this month.

The boarding school — called the Arcanum Training Institute for Marvelous and Uncanny Endeavors — is quite different from the Hogwarts of J.K. Rowling’s global publishing phenomenon. It’s located in the sky rather than a mystical land that resembles the Scottish Highlands. Young magic folks from around the world are invited to attend.

Clayton’s inspiration came from a real school, one in New York City’s East Harlem neighborhood, where she was a librarian.

“The kids there were from different countries, different cultures,” said Clayton, who lives in the city. “They didn’t see themselves in the fantasy books they wanted to read.”

So for the past five years, Clayton devoted herself to researching and writing a book that might reflect and connect with those students — and so many like them, around the world….

(8) THOUGHTS AND PREYERS. Giant Freakin Robot assures us, “The Predator Actually Looks Good Again In The Trailer For New Movie Set 300 Years Ago”.

…Prey will stream on Hulu starting Friday, August 5. While it will technically be a prequel to the rest of the Predator films, it will reportedly not directly reference any of their events. Besides, you know. Having someone from the same freaky alien species hunting people down and murdering them….

The YouTube intro says:

Set in the Comanche Nation 300 years ago, “Prey” is the story of a young woman, Naru, a fierce and highly skilled warrior. She has been raised in the shadow of some of the most legendary hunters who roam the Great Plains, so when danger threatens her camp, she sets out to protect her people. The prey she stalks, and ultimately confronts, turns out to be a highly evolved alien predator with a technically advanced arsenal, resulting in a vicious and terrifying showdown between the two adversaries.

(9) MEMORY LANE.

2013 [By Cat Eldridge.] Ok I cannot do this essay without SPOILERS, so you are warned. Go away now if you haven’t read Ancillary Justice

Just nine years ago, Ancillary Justice, Ann Leckie’s debut novel came out. And oh what a novel it is! It’s the first in her Imperial Radch space opera trilogy, followed by Ancillary Sword and Ancillary Mercy. Breq is both the sole survivor of a starship destroyed by treachery by her own people and the carrier of that ship’s consciousness. What an amazing job Leckie does differentiating between those two characters.

Doing space opera that feels original is damn hard but she pulls it off here amazingly well. The very personal and the grand political are present here, balanced in a way and tangled together as well that is rarely done so intelligently. Genevieve Valentine of NPR in her review agrees with me saying that it is “A space opera that skillfully handles both choruses and arias, Ancillary Justice is an absorbing thousand-year history, a poignant personal journey, and a welcome addition to the genre.” 

Everyone in our community liked it as not only did it win a most deserved Hugo at Loncon 4, but it effectively swept the awards season garnering an Arthur C. Clarke Award, a BSFA Award, a Kitschies Golden Tentacle for Best Debut Novel, Locus Award for Best First Novel, a Nebula Award for Best Novel and a Seiun Award for Best Translated Novel. And it got nominated for a Compton Crook Award, Otherwise Award and Philip K. Dick Award.

The next two novels in this trilogy are just as stellar. Ancillary Sword got nominated for a Hugo at Sasquan, and Ancillary Mercy would get a nomination at MidAmericaCon.

The audioworks are narrated by Adjoa Andoh who appeared on Doctor Who as Francine Jones during the Time of the Tenth and Eleventh Doctors. They are quite superb. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born May 18, 1930 Fred Saberhagen. I’m reasonably sure I’ve read the entirety of his Berserker series though not in the order they were intended to be read. Some are outstanding, some less so. I’d recommend Berserker ManShiva in Steel and the original Berserker collection.  Of his Dracula sequence, the only one I think that I’veread is The Holmes-Dracula File which is superb. And I know I’ve read most of the Swords tales as they came out in various magazines.  His only Hugo nomination was at NYCon 3 for his “Mr. Jester” short story published in If, January 1966. (Died 2007.)
  • Born May 18, 1934 Elizabeth Rodgers. Yes, Nyota Uhura was the primary individual at the communications post but several others did staff it over the series. She appeared doing that as Lt. Palmer in two episodes, “The Doomsday Machine” and “The Way to Eden”.  She was The Voice of The Companion in a third episode, “Metamorphosis”. She would also appear in The Time Tunnel, Land of The Giants and Bewitched. (Died 2004.)
  • Born May 18, 1946 Andreas Katsulas. I knew him as the amazing Ambassador G’Kar on Babylon 5 but had forgottenhe played played the Romulan Commander Tomalak on Star Trek: The Next Generation. I’m reasonably sure that his first genre role on television was playing Snout in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and he had a recurring role in Max Headroom as Mr. Bartlett. He also had appearances on Alien NationThe Death of the Incredible HulkMillenniumStar Trek: Enterprise anda voice role on The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest. Screw the damn frelling Reaper for taking him far too soon.  (Died 2006.)
  • Born May 18, 1948 R-Laurraine Tutihasi, 74. She’s a member of LASFS and the N3F. She publishes Feline Mewsings for FAPA. She won the N3F’s Kaymar Award in 2009. Not surprisingly, she’s had a number of SJW creds in her life and her website here gives a look at her beloved cats and a lot of information on her fanzines. 
  • Born May 18, 1952 Diane Duane, 70. She’s known for the Young Wizards YA series though I’d like to single her out for her lesser-known Feline Wizards series where SJW creds maintain the gates that wizards use for travel throughout the multiverse. A most wonderful thing for felines to do! Her Tale of the Five series was inducted into the Gaylactic Spectrum Award Hall of Fame in 2003. She also has won The Faust Award for Lifetime Achievement given by The International Association of Media Tie-In Writers. 
  • Born May 18, 1958 Jonathan Maberry, 64. The only thing I’ve read by him is the first five or six novels in the Joe Ledger Series which has an extremely high body count and an even higher improbability index. Popcorn reading with a Sriracha sauce.  I see that he’s done scripts for Dark Horse, IDW and Marvel early on. And that he’s responsible for Captain America: Hail Hydra which I remember as quite excellent. Not surprisingly, he’s won Stoker Awards and nominated for at least a dozen more. 
  • Born May 18, 1969 Ty Franck, 53. Half of the writing team along with Daniel Abraham that s James Corey, author of the now-completed Expanse series. I’ll admit that I’ve fallen behind by a volume or two as there’s just too many good series out there too keep up with all of them, damn it, but now that it’s ended I intend to finish it. The Expanse won the Best Series Hugo at CoNZealand. The “Nemesis Games” episode of The Expanse is nominated at Chicon 8 for a Hugo as have two episodes previously. 

(11) FREE READ. “Grant Morrison Releases a Sci-Fi Comic He Made Back in the ’80s” and Gizmodo invites you to read it in a slideshow presented at the link.

Grant Morrison, multiple award-winning writer of acclaimed comic books like All-Star Superman, The Invisibles, Doom Patrol, New X-Men, Batman, and many many more, had a special gift released this past Free Comic Book Day. In wasn’t a new title; in fact, it was quite the opposite—a 40-year-old short story he’d written and drawn in the very early stages of his career. While Morrison originally posted it on their SubStack, we’re absolutely honored to be able to republish it on io9.

(12) A KALEIDOSCOPIC AUDIENCE. Charles Payseur, who now is reviewing short fiction for Locus and stepped away from his epic Quick Sip Reviews blog, speaks openly about how public expectations whipsaw critics. Thread starts here.

(13) ABANDONED LAUNDRY. The Guardian’s Lucy Mangan says, “Steven Moffat’s adaptation of Audrey Niffenegger’s 2003 bestseller is witty and well done, but it can’t overcome the novel’s depressingly old-fashioned and iffy implications.” – “The Time Traveler’s Wife review – far too much ick factor to be truly great”.

…He [The Time Traveler] learns to find his feet (and some clothes) a little faster each time. In the course of his many unchronological journeys, he meets his soulmate, Clare. They are wrenched repeatedly from each other’s arms to reunite weeks, months or years later in more or less romantic scenarios, depending on their ages at the time.

It is, in short, guff of a high order. But the new six‑part adaptation (Sky Atlantic) by Steven Moffat (a longtime fan of the book, which he used as inspiration for the Doctor Who episode The Girl in the Fireplace) does it proud. He takes the melodrama down a notch and salts the schmaltz with wit where he can.

Nonetheless, an emetic framing device remains….

(14) TELL NASA WHAT YOU THINK. “NASA Seeks Input on Moon to Mars Objectives, Comments Due May 31”.

As NASA moves forward with plans to send astronauts to the Moon under Artemis missions to prepare for human exploration of Mars, the agency is calling on U.S. industry, academia, international communities, and other stakeholders to provide input on its deep space exploration objectives. 

NASA released a draft set of high-level objectives Tuesday, May 17, identifying 50 points falling under four overarching categories of exploration, including transportation and habitation; Moon and Mars infrastructure; operations; and science. Comments are due to the agency by close of business on Tuesday, May 31. 

“The feedback we receive on the objectives we have identified will inform our exploration plans at the Moon and Mars for the next 20 years,” said Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy. “We’re looking within NASA and to external stakeholders to help us fine-tune these objectives and be as transparent as possible throughout our process. With this approach, we will find potential gaps in our architecture as well as areas where our goals align with those from industry and international partners for future collaboration.”   

(15) WEIRDO CEREAL NEWS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Not even kids stoked on sugar wanted to see creepy creatures staring at them from the cereal bowl, so I bought a box on the half-price shelf today. “Minecraft” at Kellogg’s.

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] The Blue Peter gang drive a full-scale Thunderbirds Fab-1 complete with a rotating license plate, machine gun, and a closed-circuit TV set in this 1968 BBC clip that dropped yesterday.

Blue Peter presenters Valerie Singleton, John Noakes and Peter Purves bring a fully-functioning life-size replica of Lady Penelope’s iconic Rolls-Royce, FAB 1 into the studio.

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

Pixel Scroll 4/7/22 Earth, Be Glad! An April Scroll Is Born

(1) GAIMAN AND DORAN. The Guardian has made the full video of the livestream event with Neil Gaiman and Colleen Doran available online now, introducing their new graphic novel Chivalry from Dark Horse Comics. In comic shops now, in bookstores next week.

(2) AS TIME GOES BY. Rachel Birenbaum, author of a time travel novel, discusses why time travel stories remain an important part of sf. “On Time Travel and Metafiction” at CrimeReads.

…Every iteration begins with rules. The author has to create their universe and dictate how long time travel lasts, how it’s done, how it might affect the protagonist physically, and more. Most tales send people hurtling forwards or backwards with orders not to affect anything but their target. While all the rules are different, the reason behind time travel is almost always the same: regret….

(3) ONE DOES NOT SIMPLY. “LOTR Fitness Challenge Asks You To Walk From The Shire To Mordor To Rid Evil From The World”GameSpot has the details.

Looking to get in shape but need some extra motivation? A new gamified exercise program challenges players to log workouts in the real world as they virtually follow The Lord of the Rings characters Frodo and Sam from The Shire to Mount Doom to destroy the One Ring.

The Conqueror Virtual Challenges has teamed up with Warner Bros. for a new series of five virtual challenges based on The Lord of the Rings movies. Anyone can take part in exercises of varying lengths, with the ultimate goal of making it all the way to Mordor to destroy the ring.

The Conqueror Challenges app has been updated with a Middle-earth map that has five challenges to unlock: The Shire, The Fellowship, Mines of Moria, The Eye of Sauron, and the Mordor. Participants can run, cycle, swim, or walk to reach the set distance, and each stop has stories and postcards detailing Frodo and Sam’s journey. The distances are listed below….

(4) COUNT HIM OUT. “Doctor Who’s Steven Moffat ‘can confidently say’ he’s done showrunning”. Radio Times has quotes.

“I think I can confidently say I’m done showrunning Doctor Who,” Steven Moffat (who was in charge of Doctor Who from 2010 to 2017) told RadioTimes.com at the Radio Times Covers Party.

“Everyone can stop worrying. I did it for six seasons on the trot. And I cannot imagine going back into doing that. I cannot. I simply cannot picture it.”

He added: “I loved the show. I don’t want anyone to think I didn’t love the show. And I loved every second I spent on it, although some of them were hellish. But I’ve done that. I have done it and I did it a lot.

“So no offence and no disrespect and certainly no disdaining of wonderful memories. But no, I will not be showrunning Doctor Who again.”

(5) AN APPEAL TO AUTHORS. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Russia has been using SF/F fiction for a few years now to promote propaganda against Ukraine.

Even back in 2006 at the Eurocon in Ukraine it was possible to see how Russian publishing dominated over Ukrainian in that country. However, since then Russian propaganda against Ukraine has appeared in fiction including fantasy.

For example Eduard Limonov in Kyiv Kaput has written an alternate universe history of Ukraine that ends up predicting events in the future.

Mockups Design

Chytomo – the Ukrainian publishing news site – has created a pie chart of Russian publishers and the number of such propaganda books they publish.

Western writers may wish to note — once all this ghastly business is over — who these publishers are and avoid them translating western works. The chart is here.

Ukranian fan Borys Sydiuk also commented, “This is an important article, it explains why we ask authors not to provide foreign rights to Russian publishers.” “50 propaganda books against Ukraine and incitement to hatred against Ukrainians from Russian publishers” at Chytomo.

…Another problem was propaganda.

 Since 2009, Russia has been actively publishing books on the war between Russia and Ukraine in the «fantasy» genre, as well as «historical» and nonfiction literature about the «collapse of the Ukraine project» and mocking the independence of the «non-existent» Ukrainian people, «artificial» Ukrainian language.

These books can be easily found on the Internet for purchase and in services for open access books. In addition, children’s books began to offer more and more poems about the «great Russian army» that was coming to free everyone. 

The import of books from Russia was limited in 2017 due to their aggressive content. Only books with anti-Ukrainian printed materials were restricted, such as publications aimed at eliminating Ukraine’s independence, promoting violence, inciting ethnic, racial, religious animosity, carrying out terrorist attacks, and violating human rights and freedoms. The State Committee of television and radio broadcasting of Ukraine was entrusted with the functions of examination and issuance of permits.

The State Committee of television and radio broadcasting of Ukraine processed more than 45,000 applications during this period: issued 39,416 permits to import  publishing products, 5,275 refusals and revoked  2,227 previously issued permits.

Among the publications not allowed on the territory of Ukraine, many publications belong to authors who have been included in the lists of persons who pose a threat to national security — in particular, Zakhar Prilepin, Alexander Dugin and Alexander Tamonikov. The latter is «famous» because the list of anti-Ukrainian publications includes 20 of his works at once, not just with propaganda elements, but those whose sole purpose is to incite hatred against Ukraine and Ukrainians.

(6) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1978 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Much to my surprise, forty-four years ago a series called Quark aired as mid-season replacement on NBC. Why surprises me is that it only lasted eight episodes. I swear I remember it lasting longer than that. 

It was created by Buck Henry, co-creator of Get Smart. It was co-produced by David Gerber who had been responsible for the series version of The Ghost & Mrs. Muir (try not to hold that against him) and Mace Neufield who after being a talent agent for such acts as The Captain and Tennille became responsible for The Omen as the producer. 

The cast was Richard Benjamin, Tim Thomerson Richard Kelton Tricia Barnstable, Cyb Barnstable, Conrad Janis, Alan Caillou and Bobby Porter. The Barnstable twins got a lot of press, mostly for the fact that they didn’t wear much and really, really could not act. They previously appeared as the Doublemint Twins often with identical canines. I kid you not. 

Ok, so how is the reception? Oh you have to ask? Seriously? One reviewer summed it up this way: “Only lasting eight episodes, it is eight episodes too many. The idea of spoofing science fiction is a given and there are only a handful that get it right, but this is a spectacularly awful show.” And another said succinctly that “A viewer seeking something a little different may find the series entertaining, but low expectations are a must.” 

It has no rating at Rotten Tomatoes. It might be streaming on Crackle and Philo, two services that I’ve never heard of. 

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born April 7, 1909 Ray Quigley. Here solely for the three covers that he did for Weird Tales in the Forties. He didn’t do a lot of pulp work that I can find but these three are amazing. He did the December 1938 cover with the Dracula like figure here, the September 1940 cover with the nightmarish skull-faced Bombers here, and finally, the May 1942 cover with the really scary living ship here. The latter issue had Henry Kuttner, Robert Bloch and Dorothy Quick listed on the cover! (Died 1998.)
  • Born April 7, 1915 Henry Kuttner. While he was working for the d’Orsay agency, he found Leigh Brackett’s early manuscripts in the slush pile; it was under his guidance that she sold her first story to Campbell at Astounding Stories.  His own work was done in close collaboration with C. L. Moore, his wife, and much of they would publish was under pseudonyms.  During the Forties, he also contributed numerous scripts to the Green Lantern series. He’s won two Retro Hugos, the first at Worldcon 76 (2018) for “The Twonky” short story, the second at Dublin 2019 for “Mimsy Were the Borogoves”. (Died 1958.)
  • Born April 7, 1928 James White. Certainly the Sector General series which ran to twelve books and ran over thirty years of publication was his best known work. I’ve no idea how many or even which ones that I read but I’m certain that it was quite a few as I really, really loved this series. I’m not sure what else by him I’ve read but I’m equally sure there were other novels down the years. He was a 1996 Worldcon guest of honor at L.A.con III. It appears that only a handful of his novels are available from the usual suspects. (Died 1999.)
  • Born April 7, 1939 Francis Ford Coppola, 83. Director / Writer / Producer. THX 1138 was produced by him and directed by George Lucas in his feature film directorial debut in 1971. Saw it late at night after some serious drug ingestion with a redhead who was seriously into Morrison — strange experience that was. Other genre works of his include Bram Stoker’s Dracula, a episode of Faerie Tale Theatre entitled “Rip Van Winkle”, Twixt (a horror film that I’m betting almost no one here has heard of), Captain EO which featured Michael JacksonMary Shelley’s FrankensteinJeepers Creepers and Jeepers Creepers 2.
  • Born April 7, 1945 Susan Petrey. Another who died far, far too young. Only three of her stories were published during her lifetime. More of her work appeared in the Gifts of Blood collection published after her death. She was nominated, also posthumously, for the Astounding Award for Best New Writer, and her story ”Spidersong” was nominated for the Hugo Award at Denvention Two. The Susan C. Petrey Clarion Scholarship Fund annually awards scholarships to both the Clarion & Clarion West workshops and also supports an instructor at Clarion West as a Petrey Fellow. (Died 1980.)
  • Born April 7, 1946 Stan Winston. He’s best known for his work in Aliens, the Terminator franchise, the first three Jurassic Park films, the first two Predator films, Batman Returns and Iron Man. (He also did the Inspector Gadget film which I still haven’t seem.) He was unusual in having expertise in makeup, puppets and practical effects, and was just starting to get in digital effects as well upon the time of his passing. I think we sum up his talent by noting that his four Oscars include a pair he won for Best Visual Effects and Best Makeup for his work on Terminator 2: Judgment Day. (Died 2008.)
  • Born April 7, 1951 Yvonne Gilbert, 71. Though best remembered for her controversial cover design of Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s 1983 single “Relax”, she did a number of great genre covers including Le Guin’s A Wizard of Earthsea for Bantam in 1991 and Beagle’s A Dance for Emilia for Roc in 2000. (CE) 

(8) WORLD BUILDER. “How Long ’til Black Future Month? by N.K. Jemisin (a review)” by Brenton Dickieson at A Pilgrim in Narnia.

…Thus, while Jemisin has become a leading figure, her influence and prestige have come through two decades of unrelenting commitment to sophisticated world-building, culturally rich, character-driven literary prose, and a remarkable capacity for experimental writing. This concentration of character-voice combined with a disciplined approach to speculative world-building appears in some of Jemisin’s best writing in How Long ‘Til Black Future Month?

The true Jemisin fan is going to be particularly thrilled to participate in some of her short story experiments that later become novels or full series. “The Narcomancer” has a tinge of a melancholy sweetness, a story of conscience and vocational risk that becomes part of the Dreamblood series (which I haven’t read yet). “Stone Hunger” was exciting for me to read, for I was privileged to see how Jemisin began to conceptualize the extremely complex character make-up of The Broken Earth Trilogy–and how deeply implicated the characters are in that universe with the speculative world itself. And “The City Born Great” has all the terrifying brilliance and bracing goodness of The City We Became–an experiment in allegorical fiction that I have argued (here and here) is more successful in this short story than in the full novel….

(9) THIS JUST IN. From the authors themselves: “Getcher new Lee & Miller news right here!”

Three Liaden Universe® titles to be released by Baen in 2023
Scout’s Progress will be reissued in a new mass market/ebook edition March 2023
Salvage Right* will be published in Summer 2023
Trade Lanes** will be published in Fall 2023

Liaden Universe® Constellations audiobook editions
Tantor Media will be releasing the first four Liaden Universe® Constellations, starting in June.  Go to this link, and click on the individual titles to preorder.

Trade Lanes audiobook edition
We are in contact with our publisher and hope to have news regarding the Trade Lanes audiobook edition soon.  As soon as we have it, you’ll have it.  Promise

_________________
*Salvage Right is set on Tinsori Light after the events described in Neogenesis. The cast of characters includes, but is not limited to: Jen Sin yos’Phelium, Seignur Veeoni, Tocohl Lorlin, Lorith, Tolly Jones, Hazenthull nor’Phelium, Theo Waitley

**Fair Trade is the third book following the adventures of Jethri Gobelyn ven’Deelin, who made his first, admittedly awkward, bow in Balance of Trade; his second, somewhat more nuanced, in Trade Secret.

(10) ON STAGE AT CALTECH. A musical adaptation of Verne’s From the Earth to the Moon will be performed by Theater Arts at Caltech (TACIT) in Pasadena’s Ramo Auditorium on six times next week – see full details at the link.

From the Earth to the Moon

From the writers of the record-breaking Caltech musical Boldly Go! comes a fresh new science fiction musical based on the Jules Verne classic written in 1865. Gauntlets are thrown, headlines made, duels waged, and alliances put to the test in this dynamic imagining of spaceflight in the late nineteenth century directed by Brian Brophy.

…TACIT, as Theater Arts at Caltech is familiarly known, typically prepares and performs two or three plays each academic year. Recent productions include She Kills Monsters, Avenue Q, Rent, Company and many original projects.

Members of the Caltech community have the opportunity to learn all aspects of the theatrical craft—acting, stage crew, set construction, wardrobe, light and sound operation, properties, house management, and publicity—and to work with professionals in areas of theater design: set, light, sound, costume, and music. This is a hands-on approach, not classroom theory. It also provides an appreciation of the theatrical literature and exposure to the literature of many languages (in translation). 

(11) HOLY GUACAMOLE. The New York Times invites you to “Meet DALL-E, the A.I. That Draws Anything at Your Command”.

At OpenAI, one of the world’s most ambitious artificial intelligence labs, researchers are building technology that lets you create digital images simply by describing what you want to see.

They call it DALL-E in a nod to both “WALL-E,” the 2008 animated movie about an autonomous robot, and Salvador Dalí, the surrealist painter.

OpenAI, backed by a billion dollars in funding from Microsoft, is not yet sharing the technology with the general public. But on a recent afternoon, Alex Nichol, one of the researchers behind the system, demonstrated how it works.

When he asked for “a teapot in the shape of an avocado,” typing those words into a largely empty computer screen, the system created 10 distinct images of a dark green avocado teapot, some with pits and some without. “DALL-E is good at avocados,” Mr. Nichol said….

(12) HE’S NOT HEAVY, HE’S MY BOSON. The W boson is not bigger on the inside, but it’s bigger than anticipated: “’Huh, That’s Funny’: Physicists Delighted by New Measurement for the W Boson” reports Gizmodo.

A collaboration of hundreds of scientists have precisely measured the mass of the W boson, an elementary particle responsible for the weak nuclear force. The researchers found, to their surprise, that the boson is more massive than predicted by the Standard Model of particle physics, the working theory that describes several of the fundamental forces in the universe….

(13) A BAD DAY IN NORTH DAKOTA A LONG TIME AGO. “Tanis: Fossil of dinosaur killed in asteroid strike found, scientists claim”. BBC News says the artifact will be seen in a Sir David Attenborough production to be broadcast April 15.

Scientists have presented a stunningly preserved leg of a dinosaur.

The limb, complete with skin, is just one of a series of remarkable finds emerging from the Tanis fossil site in the US State of North Dakota.

But it’s not just their exquisite condition that’s turning heads – it’s what these ancient specimens are purported to represent.

The claim is the Tanis creatures were killed and entombed on the actual day a giant asteroid struck Earth.

The day 66 million years ago when the reign of the dinosaurs ended and the rise of mammals began.

Very few dinosaur remains have been found in the rocks that record even the final few thousand years before the impact. To have a specimen from the cataclysm itself would be extraordinary.

The BBC has spent three years filming at Tanis for a show to be broadcast on 15 April, narrated by Sir David Attenborough.

Sir David will review the discoveries, many that will be getting their first public viewing.

Along with that leg, there are fish that breathed in impact debris as it rained down from the sky.

We see a fossil turtle that was skewered by a wooden stake; the remains of small mammals and the burrows they made; skin from a horned triceratops; the embryo of a flying pterosaur inside its egg; and what appears to be a fragment from the asteroid impactor itself….

(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Ryan George, in “Morbius Pitch Meeting,” a spoiler-filled episode, says that Dr. Michael Morbius drinks vampire bat blood which causes him to bulk up “like a Calvin Klein underwear model.” But the producer tells the screenwriter to add many more references to Spider-Man, Vulture, and other Marvel characters because “we’re in the MCU now” at Sony.

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Cleo Campion, Daniel Dern, Borys Sydiuk, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Hampus Eckerman.]

Pixel Scroll 3/17/22 If You Can’t Handle Me At My Pixel, You Don’t Deserve Me At My Scroll

(1) PLEASE, MAY I HAVE SOME MORE? “Editorial Resignations At Big Houses Spark Reckoning” reports Publishers Lunch. Of the four departed editors, one worked for Tor and two for Orbit.

Multiple resignations from the editorial departments at two big houses caused an online reckoning on Friday. Four editors, Angeline Rodriguez and Hillary Sames at Orbit, Erin Siu at Macmillan Children’s, and Molly McGhee at Tor all announced their resignations, leading to a discussion about the workload of junior and mid-level employees and the difficulty of advancement across the industry. The online exchange brought into the open the frustrations of increased workload, burnout and turnover that have been brewing as the pandemic continues. Those feelings are intensified as big publishers report record sales and earnings, even as multiple people report on Twitter they believe their employers are not sufficiently reinvesting those proceeds in additional staff, systems and raises.

At the heart of the discussion was McGhee’s resignation letter which she posted on Twitter….

McGhee’s interview with the New York Times ran under the headline “When Will Publishing Stop Starving Its Young?”

… On March 11, McGhee joined a group of junior and midlevel employees who exited the publishing industry, blaming low pay, unrealistic workloads and burnout. For context: It is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to live in or near New York City (epicenter of bookmaking) on an entry-level publishing salary. Add school loans, subtract a second job or additional subsidy and you risk being factored out of a career in letters before the ink on your college diploma has had a chance to dry.

“As some of you may have heard, today is my last day at Tor Books,” McGhee wrote in the resignation letter she shared on Twitter. “My promotion request was denied, and as such I am leaving as my first acquisition (the marvelous THE ATLAS SIX by Olivie Blake) debuts at number three on The New York Times Bestsellers List.” She goes on, “Making the NYT is a career high for an editor. It is rare for an assistant to do so and, by all accounts, this should be ‘a great beginning’ and not a heartbreaking end.”

McGhee also cites “the invisibility of the junior employee’s workload” as one of her reasons for leaving Tor. As Blake writes in her novel, “We are the gods of our own universes, aren’t we?” Indeed we are. But gods cannot live on ramen alone….

The text of McGhee’s March 11 message follows:

(2) ESA AND ROSCOSMOS BREAKUP. The European Space Agency has suspended the ExoMars rover after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The ESA ruling council “acknowledged the present impossibility of carrying out the ongoing cooperation with Roscosmos on the ExoMars rover mission with a launch in 2022” – “ESA – ExoMars suspended”.

As an intergovernmental organisation mandated to develop and implement space programmes in full respect with European values, we deeply deplore the human casualties and tragic consequences of the aggression towards Ukraine. While recognising the impact on scientific exploration of space, ESA is fully aligned with the sanctions imposed on Russia by its Member States.

ExoMars

ESA’s ruling Council, meeting in Paris on 16-17 March, assessed the situation arising from the war in Ukraine regarding ExoMars, and unanimously:

  • acknowledged the present impossibility of carrying out the ongoing cooperation with Roscosmos on the ExoMars rover mission with a launch in 2022, and mandated the ESA Director General to take appropriate steps to suspend the cooperation activities accordingly;
  • authorised the ESA Director General to carry out a fast-track industrial study to better define the available options for a way forward to implement the ExoMars rover mission.

Space Transportation

Following the decision by Roscosmos to withdraw their personnel from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana, all missions scheduled for launch by Soyuz have been put on hold. These concern essentially four institutional missions for which ESA is the launch service procurement entity (Galileo M10, Galileo M11, Euclid and EarthCare) and one additional institutional launch.

Consequently, the ESA Director General has initiated an assessment on potential alternative launch services for these missions, which will include  a review of the Ariane 6 first exploitation flights.  A robust launch manifest for ESA missions’ launch needs, including for spacecraft originally planned for launch by Soyuz from Kourou, will be submitted to Member States.   

Likewise, “Russia’s War in Ukraine Threatens Joint Missions to Mars, Venus and the Moon” reports Scientific American.

… The strife is impacting otherworldly missions as well: Consider Russia’s nascent Venera-D mission, a proposed orbiter and lander meant to blast off for Venus in 2029. The U.S. had been considering allowing NASA to collaborate on Venera-D, perhaps by contributing scientific instruments. But, citing retaliatory sanctions, Russia’s space leadership deemed continued U.S. participation in the project “inappropriate.”…

(3) RUNAWAY SUCCESS. Brandon Sanderson’s record-breaking Kickstarter, “Surprise! Four Secret Novels by Brandon Sanderson by Dragonsteel Entertainment”, had raised $29,710,529 when I checked today. With 14 days remaining it will obviously break $30 million and then some.

(4) MS. PRESIDENT. “Stacey Abrams makes surprise appearance on Star Trek as president of Earth”Yahoo! has the story.

Stacey Abrams just boldly went where no Georgia gubernatorial candidate has gone before.

Abrams, the Georgia politician who’s running for governor of the state this year, had a surprise cameo in the latest episode of Star Trek: Discovery, appearing as the president of United Earth.

A scene at the end of the season four finale, “Coming Home,” introduces the United Earth president, and Abrams gets several lines, announcing that “United Earth is ready right now to rejoin the Federation, and nothing could make me happier than to say those words.” She also has a discussion with Discovery‘s main character, Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green), about Earth rejoining the Federation, and this scene closes the episode….

(5) MOFFAT’S NEXT SHOW. “The Time Traveler’s Wife shares trailer for new Steven Moffat series”Radio Times sets the frame.

Sky has released the official teaser trailer for Steven Moffat’s adaptation of The Time Traveler’s Wife, which will air on Sky Atlantic and NOW in May.

… The six-episode series is the second major adaptation of Audrey Niffenegger’s popular novel of the same name, following the 2009 film starring Rachel McAdams and Eric Bana, once again telling the story of a marriage that threatens to be torn apart by time travel. Alongside Leslie and James, the cast also includes Desmin Borges, Natasha Lopez, Kate Seigel and Michael Park.

Of course, it’s not Moffat’s first time dealing with time travel – following his hugely successful stint as Doctor Who showrunner between 2009 and 2017 – but he’s been on record to explain that the two shows share little in common beyond that superficial similarity.

(6) I’VE SEEN THAT FACE BEFORE. [Item by Olav Rokne.] Well, this will certainly be out of the price range of us mere mortals… Virgil Finlay’s “Portrait of Robert A. Heinlein” will be up for auction on April 15. “This lot is accompanied by a letter signed by the artist and dated August 5, 1953.”

(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

2006 [Item by Cat Eldridge] Doctor Who ended back in 1989 when the Seventh Doctor as played by Sylvester McCoy had his final story, “Survival.” No indication was given beforehand that the show was being cancelled. 

A year after the BBC revived by the show in the UK, Doctor Who returned in the U.S. “Rose” was broadcast in the States on March 17, an episode named for the Billie Piper character who was the first modern companion. Christopher Eccleston played the Ninth Doctor.  Briefly. Note that there is no regeneration scene here. Of course as we know there were other Doctors between the Seventh Doctor and this Doctor. Indeed the numbering is suspect, isn’t it? 

So how was the reception for this new Who? The New York Times liked it: “In most previous versions of the show, so little was going on between the Doctor and his female companions that fans took to making up sex scenes on the Internet, much the way ‘X-Files’ buffs tried to fantasize a little action between Scully and Mulder. But between the Doctor and Rose there is genuine, old-fashioned chemistry, and their interaction, which occasionally takes on the aspect of screwball comedy, is much the best thing in the show.” 

And Radio Times succinctly put it, “Think big. Think bold. Think fantastic! For the very first time, Doctor Who achieves a perfect blend of big screen and small screen.”

Season One over at Rotten Tomatoes holds a near perfect ninety-six percent rating among audience reviewers. 

The entire new series is streaming on HBO Max. The older series is on a number of streaming services of a British nature.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 17, 1846 Kate Greenaway. Victorian artist and writer, largely known today for her children’s book illustrations. So popular was she and her work that the very popular Kate Greenaway Almanacks appeared every year from 1883 to 1895. Among her best-known works was her edition of Robert Browning’s The Pied Piper of Hamelin, Rosa Mulholland’s Puck and Blossom and Bret Harte’s Pirate Isle. (Died 1901.)
  • Born March 17, 1906 Brigitte Helm. German actress, Metropolis. Her first role as an actress, she played Maria and her double, the Maschinenmensch, plus several uncredited roles as well.  She’s got some other genre credits including L’Atlantide (The Mistress of Atlantis) and Alraune (Unholy Love). Her later films would be strictly in keeping with the policies of the Nazis with all films being fiercely anti-capitalist and antisemitic. (Died 1996.)
  • Born March 17, 1945 Tanya Lemani, 77. Iranian-born actress who is one of the victims of Star Trek’s “Wolf in the Fold” as the dancer Kara. She has appeared on the original Fantasy IslandGet Smart, I Dream of Jeannie, The Bionic Woman, and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. in one-offs.
  • Born March 17, 1933 Penelope Lively, 89. I’ve actually mentioned her before as Catherine Butler did a work in part on her, Four British fantasists: place and culture in the children’s fantasies of Penelope Lively, Alan Garner, Diana Wynne Jones, and Susan Cooper. She’s here because I’m very fond of one of her novels, The Wild Hunt of Hagworthy, having a great liking for fiction about that story. She’s won the Booker Prize for Moon Tiger and the Carnegie Medal for British children’s books for The Ghost of Thomas Kempe.
  • Born March 17, 1941 Paul Kantner. A founder of Jefferson Airplane which would become Jefferson Starship. The Dragonfly album, particularly “All Fly Away” and “Hyperdrive” is very genre as well as much of the Jefferson Airship output is genre. “Hyperdrive” would be used in the opening ceremonies at MidAmeriCon (1976). (Died 2016.)
  • Born March 17, 1947 James Morrow, 75. Author of the most awesome Godhead trio whose first novel, Towing Jehovah, won a Nebula and a World Fantasy Award and was nominated for a Hugo at Intersection. I’m also impressed by The Last Witchfinder as it’s told by a sentient book, Isaac Newton’s Principia Mathematica
  • Born March 17, 1948 William Gibson, 74. I’ve read the Sprawl trilogy more times than I can remember and likewise the Bridge trilogy and The Difference Engine. He won a Hugo at Aussiecon Two for Neuromancer, his only such win, though he had other nominations including for the other two novels in the Sprawl trilogy.
  • Born March 17, 1951 Kurt Russell, 71. I know I saw Escape from New York on a rainy summer night in a now century-old Art Deco theatre which wasn’t the one I later saw Blade Runner in. I think it’s much better than Escape from L.A. was. Of course there’s Big Trouble in Little China, my favorite film with him in it. And let’s not forget Tombstone. Not genre, you say. Maybe not, but it’s damn good and he’s fantastic in it.

(9) COMICS SECTION.

(10) YOU BE THE JUDGE. All Squaxx dek Thargo may want to know there’s going to be a “Star-studded online convention to celebrate 45 years of 2000 AD”. It’s free and happening on March 26-27.

Featuring celebrity fans and legendary creators, The Galaxy’s Greatest will stream online and for free on 26 and 27 March on 2000 AD’s social media channels and YouTube, and Rebellion’s dedicated Twitch stream.

The two-day show will feature top flight guests on more than a dozen panels, all discussing the impact of 2000 AD on comics and culture over almost half a century, as well as announcements and new merchandise.

… The event will throw a spotlight on the people who have helped make 2000 AD the galaxy’s greatest comic, with creators both new and legendary sharing their stories and insights on the comics-making process — including a feature interview with the co-creator of Judge Dredd and Strontium Dog, John Wagner, as well as panels with Garth Ennis (The BoysPreacher), Rob Williams (Suicide Squad), Alex de Campi (Archie vs Predator), Sean Phillips (Criminal), Anna Morozova (Judge Anderson), John McCrea (Hitman), Dan Cornwell (Rok of the Reds), Aleš Kot (Zero), and more to be announced.

The next 45 years of 2000 AD will also be discussed with owners and publishers Chris Kingsley OBE and Jason Kingsley OBE, and current editor Matt Smith – now the longest serving editor in 2000 AD history….

(11) SQUELCH THAT RUMOR. Radio Times eavesdrops while “Catherine Tate addresses Doctor Who return rumours”.

…The Donna Noble star has been heavily linked with a return to the sci-fi show in recent months, with rumours that she might rejoin the cast for the upcoming 60th anniversary special.

And she addressed those rumours during an appearance on The One Show to promote her new film The Nan Movie, telling Jermaine Jenas that she “probably started a lot of them” herself.

“What can I tell you? No, I wish it was [true],” she said. “Well, no one’s been in touch.”

But she added: “I’m on the same number, I’d just like to say. So, if you’ve got the money, I’ve got the time.”

(12) OCTOTHORPE.  John Coxon has COVID, Alison Scott wanted to do a podcast, and Liz Batty had no better offers. So it’s a short episode of the hosts answering Cora Buhlert’s questions. Listen to Octothorpe 53  here: “It Was John’s Idea”.

(13) BREAKFAST IS SERVED ON ARRAKIS. The New York Times was initiated into “The Secret Sounds of ‘Dune’: Rice Krispies and Marianne Faithfull”.

…We were at Zuma Beach on the kind of warm March afternoon that New York readers would surely prefer I not dwell on, and Villeneuve’s Oscar-nominated sound editors Mark Mangini and Theo Green were nearby, pouring cereal into the sand. This wasn’t meant to provoke any sea gulls; Mangini and Green wanted to demonstrate the sound-gathering techniques they used to enliven Arrakis, the desert planet where the “Dune” hero Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet) discovers his destiny.

 “One of the most compelling images in the film is when Paul first steps foot onto the planet,” Mangini said. Since the sand on Arrakis is laced with “spice,” a valuable and hallucinogenic substance, the sound designers had to find an audible way to convey that something special was underfoot.

By way of explaining it to me, Mangini ground his work boot into the soft patch of sand that he had dusted with Rice Krispies. The sand produced a subtle, beguiling crunch, and Villeneuve broke out into a big smile. Though he’d heard it plenty of times in postproduction, he had no idea what the sound designers had concocted to capture that sound.

“One of the things I love about cinema is the cross between NASA kind of technology and gaffer tape,” Villeneuve said. “To use a super-expensive mic to record Rice Krispies — that deeply moves me!”…

(14) FLY LIKE AN EAGLE. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Time keeps on slippin’, slippin’, slippin’ into the future… At least that’s what the Steve Miller Band assured me in their 1976 hit Fly Like an Eagle. Perhaps they assured Elon Musk the same thing (though he’d only have been 5 at the time).

In 2016, Musk told us that humanity would land on Mars by 2024. In late 2020, he revised the landing date to 2026. Now he’s telling us 2029. This is hardly the first time that Musk has been forced to change projections for one of his ventures. Nor is it the first time a targeted date for anyone’s space launch has slipped.

To me, 2029 still seems ambitious given where we are. But, if Musk (or someone else) does manage to hit that date, it’ll be 60 years after the Eagle landed on the Moon. Assuming I live that long (and am still compos mentis), it’d be extraordinary to witness both landings in one lifetime. “Elon Musk Has New Estimate for When Humans Might First Step on Mars” at CNET.

… Starship, which SpaceX is designing to take astronauts to the moon for NASA and eventually to Mars, has made some successful high-altitude flights, but has yet to make it to space.

Musk has made noise over the past two years about federal launch regulations slowing the process of reaching Mars and recently even floated the specter of bankruptcy if SpaceX isn’t able to produce Starship’s raptor engines more rapidly.

Unsurprisingly, getting to Mars takes planning. As Mars and Earth move around the sun, the two planets move closer to one another and then farther away again. To take advantage of the times when the trip between the two worlds is shortest requires launching during certain windows. The ideal Mars launch windows for this decade are later this year, late 2024, late 2026 and late 2028/early 2029. 

It’s looking as though Musk’s initial ambitions may have been overly optimistic. If his target date slips much further, into the 2030s, it will be more in the ballpark of when NASA has always been aiming in terms of sending the first astronauts to Mars…. 

(15) BEHIND THE LINES. Enjoy Greener Grass a Star Wars short film made with Unreal Engine 5.

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Pitch Meeting” Ryan George says in the third Harry Potter movie, Voldemort isn’t around but Dumbledore still gets to give his annual address on the many ways Hogwarts students can die.  And when asked why Hogwarts could produce a book of monsters that is an actual monster, the writer answers, “It’s clear wizards don’t have any consumer protection laws.”

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Rich Horton, Gary Farber, Olav Rokne, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Olav Rokne.]

Pixel Scroll 12/16/21 A Pixelness In The Scroll

(1) COLBERT’S LOTR CAST REUNION RAP. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Stephen Colbert (of The Late Show) is a self-proclaimed Lord of the Rings fanatic (both the books and the movie series).His show is going on hiatus after this week for the rest of the year and Colbert bemoaned the fact that he will not be on air to celebrate Sunday’s 20th anniversary of the theatrical release of the first LOTR movie directed by Peter Jackson.

The Late Show With Stephen Colbert assembled Elijah Wood, Sean Astin, Billy Boyd, Dominic Monaghan, Orlando Bloom, Andy Serkis, Hugo Weaving, pro rappers Killer Mike and Method Man, plus bandleader Jon Batiste, host Colbert, and (for reasons unknown) Anna Kendrick, to create a rap video that pounds home the dominance of the LOTR movie trilogy.

(2) LEE AND MILLER’S FREE HOLIDAY STORY. Steve Miller says he “is in a strange land far away from Worldcon” —

The plan was that our new Liaden story would hit the interwebz while we were off at Worldcon, but we dropped that plan awhile back due to the pandemic. The story came out on time, but we’re home in Maine! FWIW I had several convention dreams last night (guess I’m missing the whole crew!), but it still isn’t the same.

Yesterday some folks were having a hard time finding the new release, though, so this is a direct link to “From Every Storm A Rainbow”, our official free online Liaden Universe holiday story for 2021, which follows pretty hard on the heels of our recent “Bread Alone” chapbook, which ran a week or so as “#1 new release” under SF anthologies right at Thanksgiving. “Bread Alone’s” on sale in many venues now, but here’s the Amazon link.

Have a good holiday season, a good year, and we’re still hoping for Chicago….

Bests wishes from all of us here at the Cat Farm and Confusion Factory …

(3) CLARION WEST IS HIRING. The annual Clarion West Writers Workshop is looking to fill several positions – Six-Week Workshop Facilitator, Residential Workshop Administrator, and Communications Specialist. See Jobs – Clarion West for the details.

Do you believe that stories are important? Do you want to work with a diverse and passionate team to bring emerging writers to the field of speculative fiction? Do you want to support more writers of color and from traditionally underrepresented communities? Take a look at our open opportunities and see where your expertise can grow Clarion West.

(4) SITE SELECTION CONTINUES. Rich Lynch sent along this photo he took of DisCon III’s at-con Site Selection voting area.  

(5) ON YONDER SHOREHAM. Highlander tweeted a video walkthrough from the first day of DisCon III. I see John Hertz in his beanie appears around the 25-second mark.

(6) HALL COSTUMES. Ian Randal Strock tweeted a photo of cosplayers at DisCon III dressed as the TARDIS and two Doctor Who nemeses.

(7) MOFFAT TEASES WHO FANS. Radio Times plucked some juicy quotes from an hour-long conversation about Steven Moffat’s career hosted by the Oxford Union: “Steven Moffat talks Russell T Davies’ ‘fantastic’ plans for Doctor Who”.

…“I had no idea Russell was going to do that,” Moffat told Oxford Union. “He told me the night before, he sent me an email and I read it. I was just coming home from a restaurant and I thought: ‘Is that real? I’ll see if that email is still there in the morning.’

“Then I phoned him up and said, ‘Have you read [behind-the-scenes Doctor Who book] The Writer’s Tale? Have you read it? Because I think you should’,” continued Moffat. “He said, ‘I want to do it again, I’m excited, I’m thrilled.’”…

View the complete Q&A session on YouTube.

Writer of Doctor Who and Sherlock, Steven Moffat has won an Emmy award, five BAFTA Awards and four Hugo Awards. He had been a fan of Doctor Who since childhood, and is responsible for some of the most famous episodes including ‘Blink’ and ‘Silence in the Library.’ In 2015, he was appointed an Order of the British Empire for his services to drama

(8) SIGNED BY EGO. Rob Hansen has posted a real rarity at his THEN British fanhistory website – the text of a 1940s chain letter with Arthur C. Clarke as one of the participants: “FAN-MAIL (1941)”.

Here’s something I never thought I’d ever see – one of Clarke’s WW2 chain-letters. Yet, amazingly, this one has survived after 80 years. And finally seeing one has, I think, enabled me to figure out the how these chains worked, an explanation of which appears after the scans. I described them in THEN as essentially operating like APAs, but the logistics involved were a bit more complicated than that.

(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1987 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Thirty four years ago, A Muppet Family Christmas first aired on ABC. It was produced not by Jim Henson (though he did executive produce it) , a rare thing indeed, but rather by Peter Harris and Eric Till from a script by Jerry Juhl who had earlier scripted the most excellent Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas. For a Muppet film, it had an unusually large cast, to wit Gerry Parkes, Jim Henson, Frank Oz, Jerry Nelson, Richard Hunt, Dave Goelz, Steve Whitmire, Caroll Spinney, Kathryn Mullen, Karen Prell and David Rudman. 

This is one of the rare Muppet productions to feature the Muppets that were associated with all four of the major Muppet franchises: Fraggle RockMuppet Babies (who are seen here as actual puppets instead of their usual animated selves), The Muppet Show and Sesame Street

If you’ve saw it on TV and then watched it later on the North American DVD and VHS release, you might’ve notice that a lot of the original film was missing. That was because the Henson company only secured broadcast rights, not subsequent rights to songs like “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” weren’t available. 

Critics generally like it. Myles McNutt of the A.V. Club said of it that was “a love letter to the Muppets as a wide-ranging, meaningful part of viewers’ childhoods.” Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give it a most cheery eighty-eight percent rating. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 16, 1917 Arthur C. Clarke. When I was resident in Sri Lanka courtesy of Uncle Sam in the early Eighties, nearly every American ex-pat I ran into was reading The Fountains of Paradise. The tea plantations he described therein are very awesome.  I never saw him but he was well known among the small British community there and I passed by his residence one day. I’ll admit that I’ve not read that much by him — Childhood’s EndRendezvous with Rama and that novel are the only long form works by him I’ve read.  I’ve read a lot of short fiction including of course Tales from The White Hart. I’m certain I’ve read The Nine Billion Names of God collection as well. And I’ve seen 2001 myriad times but I’ve never seen the sequel. (Died 2008.)
  • Born December 16, 1927 Randall Garrett. Randall Garrett. Ahhh, Lord Darcy. When writing this up, I was gobsmacked to discover that he’d written only one such novel, Too Many Magicians, as I clearly remembered reading more than that number. Huh. That and two collections, Murder and Magic and Lord Darcy Investigates, is all there is of this brilliant series. (The later Lord Darcy collection has two previously uncollected stories.) Glen Cook’s Garrett P.I. is named in honor of Garrett.  I’ll admit I’ve not read anything else by him, so what else have y’all read? (Died 1987.)
  • Born December 16, 1928 Philip K. Dick. Dick has always been a difficult one for me to get a feel for. Mind you Blade Runner is my major touchstone for him but I’ve read the source material as well, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, and Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said which won the John W. Campbell Memorial Award, and I’ve read a lot of the shorter works, so I’d say that saying he’s a challenging writer is a Good Thing. I was surprised his only Hugo win was for at The Man in The High Castle at DisCon though Blade Runner would pick up one at ConStellation. (Died 1982.)
  • Born December 16, 1937 Peter Dickinson. Author who was married from 1991 to his death to Robin McKinley.  He had a number of truly great works, both genre and not genre, including EvaThe Tears of the Salamander and The Flight of DragonsThe Ropemaker garnered a well-deserved Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature. His James Pibble upper-class British mystery series are quite excellent as well. (Died 2015.)
  • Born December 16, 1957 Mel Odom, 64. An author deep into mining franchise universes with work done into the BuffyverseOutlandersTime PoliceRogue Angel (which I’ve listen to a lot as GraphicAudio as produced them as most excellent audioworks) and weirder stuff such as the Left Behind Universe and Tom Clancy’s Net Force Explorers, both I think game tie-ins. 
  • Born December 16, 1961 Jon Tenney, 60. He’s best known as Special Agent Fritz Howard on The Closer and continued in its spinoff Major Crimes, but he does have genre creds. He played Jimmy Wells in The Phantom, Martin Jordon in Green Lantern, and Lt. Ching in two episodes in Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. He also showed up on Tales from the Crypt, Outer Limits and neXt
  • Born December 16, 1967 Miranda Otto, 54. She was Éowyn in the second and third installments of Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings film franchise. (I stopped watching after The Fellowship of The Rings.) She‘s Zelda Spellman in Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, and Mary Ann Davis in Spielberg’s version of The War of The Worlds. She also played Wueen Lenore inI, Frankenstein which had an amazing cast even if the tomatometer at Rotten Tomatoes gives it a five percent rating meaning the critics really didn’t like it.

(11) GUESS WHAT? This March, make way for the new Sorcerer Supreme!

With Doctor Strange dead, another sorcerer has taken the title, or should we say Sorceress? Clea, mistress of the Dark Dimension and Stephen Strange’s powerful partner, will rise to the challenge of defending earth from mystical and otherworldly danger in writer Jed MacKay’s STRANGE #1! Featuring artwork by AMAZING SPIDER-MAN artist Marcelo Ferreira, this all-new ongoing series will spin directly out of the story still unfolding in MacKay’s DEATH OF DOCTOR STRANGE. 

.. Here’s what MacKay had to say about continuing this unprecedented Doctor Strange saga:

“After the apocalyptic events of The Death of Doctor Strange, there’s a new Sorcerer Supreme in residence at 177A Bleecker Street, and a new Doctor Strange- Clea Strange. And she’s got her work cut out for her- when she’s not fighting off the magical gangsters of the Blasphemy Syndicate, or battling undead super-monsters, she’s going after what’s hers: the late Stephen Strange. Clea is of the Faltine, that race of Warlords and conquerors, and like her relatives Dormammu and Umar, she will not be thwarted in her desires, not even by the mysterious Harvestman standing in her way.”

(12) NOW PLAYING. You can listen to Connie Willis and Nalo Hopkinson’s LOA Live appearance to promote American Christmas Stories on Soundcloud or watch the program on the Library of America website.

(13) FLICK PICKS. Wired presents its list of “The Best Sci-Fi Movies of 2021”. They start with Dune, but let’s skip ahead to one you haven’t read a million words about:

… Perhaps, at this stage, you’d prefer your women on the more visible side of things. If so, consider the French film Oxygen (Netflix), whose main—nearly only—character is a scientist played by the marvelous Mélanie Laurent. She wakes up in an AI-controlled cryogenic pod and must figure out how to escape it before the titular oxygen runs out. Who put her there? Where even is there? Soon enough, she begins to remember a man. A husband. The love of her life. Who died in a horrible pandemic back on Earth. Yes, that’s it: She’s part of a mission to save the human race, predicted to die out completely in two generations….

(14) A BIG DEAL. Radio Times fills us in on the new owner’s ambitions for Bad Wolf: “Doctor Who’s Bad Wolf could be biggest drama producer in UK, says Sony”.

Sony Pictures has invested £50 million into Welsh drama producer Bad Wolf, in the hopes of helping the maker of Doctor Who and His Dark Materials reach its “zenith”.

Wayne Garvie, Sony’s president of international production, recently revealed his hopes that Bad Wolf could become “the biggest drama producer in Britain and in Europe” (via BBC News).

He said: “We have invested in a company that has not reached its zenith. We have [another] company called Left Bank Pictures who make The Crown, which you may have watched, and which is Britain’s biggest drama company. And we built that together with the founders of the company over about eight years or so.

“And we want to do the same with Bad Wolf. There is no reason why Bad Wolf should not be or could not be the biggest drama producer in Britain and in Europe. And that is our ambition.”

(15) KEEPING TRACK OF CENSORSHIP. “School Library Journal Starts a Library Censorship Tips Hotline” reports Book Riot.

…In response to this wave of censorship attempts, the School Library Journal has opened a library censorship tips hotline, which allows library professionals to report censorship attempts anonymously. Hopefully, this will give a more complete picture than the ALA numbers and shed light on censorship happening that is not getting covered on the news. The censorship tips hotline form asks for name and email (both optional); the library/school district, and state; and a comments field: “Tell us who is behind the objection—parents, school board members, or other parties—and how the district/library responded. Was challenge policy followed? Let us know anything else relevant.”…

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. The How It Should Have Ended gang have an opinion about Spider-Man.

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, N., Steve Miller, Rob Thornton, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Rob Thornton, part of “The Hugo Pixel Scroll Winners” series.]

Irene Adler Features in
Latest Manga Adaptation of
BBC Sherlock Series

Sherlock: A Scandal In Belgravia Part One goes on sale September 15. Sherlock meets his match in Irene Adler and has to recover compromising photographs of the royal family. This is Titan Comics’ ongoing manga adaption of the BBC’s seminal Sherlock series with Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman.

Fresh from confronting Moriarty in the end of The Great Game, Sherlock Holmes (Benedict Cumberbatch) and John Watson (Martin Freeman) are called to save the royal family from blackmail at the hands of Irene Adler (Lara Pulver), a dominatrix known as “The Woman”. Adler pulls Sherlock into a complex web of mysteries involving the CIA and the MOD, with secrets that could threaten to threaten international security and topple the monarchy.

Co-created by Mark Gatiss, an English actor, comedian, screenwriter and novelist. His work includes writing for and acting in the TV series Doctor Who, Sherlock, The League of Gentlemen and Taboo.

Written by Steven Moffat, the Scottish television writer and producer well-known for his work on Doctor Who and Sherlock, who has won BAFTA and Emmy awards.

Manga artist Jay continues to capture both the look and spirit of the original with his amazing, expressive panels, and we present it in the original back-to-front manga format.

Following the jump are some art panels from the issue. The last three pages Titan Comics has shared exclusively with File 770 readers.

Continue reading

Pixel Scroll 10/27/18 When A Pixel’s Not Engaged In Its Enscrollment, Or Maturing Its Pixellious Little Plans

(1) ARISIA AGAIN. A second account where someone tells how Arisia unsatisfactorily handled her reported rape — Maura Taylor in “Arisia and #MeToo (TW: Rape)”.

I believe Crystal Huff, in part because a very similar thing happened to me.

Arisia ’15, I was raped. And Arisia did nothing in response…

(2) NOVEL VERDICT. SF Bluestocking weighs in on an anticipated sequel: “Book Review: Bloody Rose by Nicholas Eames”.

Nicholas Eames’ freshman novel, Kings of the Wyld, was one of my favorite reads of 2017, a well-written, cleverly observed and often hilariously funny adventure fantasy pastiche that adhered to genre forms while gently poking fun at well-worn tropes and presenting a refreshingly positive and downright heartwarming portrait of non-toxic masculinity in action. So I was pretty hyped to see what Eames would make of this sequel, which showcases a mixed-gender cast from the point of view of a queer teenage girl. Unfortunately, Bloody Rose doesn’t quite rise to the level of excellence of its predecessor, although it’s also by no means a complete failure at the perhaps-too-many things it sets out to accomplish…

(3) HERE’S LOOKING AT WHO, KID. ScienceFiction.com calls it “sour grapes”: “Steven Moffat Is Afraid Of ‘Doctor Who’ Looking ‘Cheap’”.

While on an episode of the podcast Sitcom Geeks, Moffat revealed that he thinks more money should be spent on ‘Doctor Who’ in order to keep the show competitive. The interviewer made a comment about the ‘Who’ of his childhood, saying:

“My memory of ‘Doctor Who’ is very much a piece of cardboard that he is standing behind.”

To which Moffat replied:

“That’s the big challenge of ‘Doctor Who’ now… running the risk of looking as cheap now as it did then, compared to what the rest of TV is doing, unless they put a whole lot more money into it. And it’s still an inexpensive show. A show that generates as much money as ‘Doctor Who’ should be getting more of it back.”

(4) A THEOLOGICAL CONTROVERSY. Popsugar throws down: “Is the Nightmare Before Christmas a Halloween Movie or a Christmas Movie? Let’s Settle This”.

Yes, a lot of the movie takes place in Halloween Town and main character Jack Skellington is the Pumpkin King, but there are also plenty of Christmas elements once Jack travels to Christmas Town. Is it a Christmas movie that happens to take place around Halloween, or is it a Halloween movie with strong Christmas themes? The debate between which is which has raged on among fans ever since the film’s release in 1993 (in late October, it should be noted), so much so that director Henry Selick finally had to step into the fray.

Click to find out how the director answered the question.

(5) FAST FOOD CONFRONTATION. N.K. Jemisin’s thread starts here.

https://twitter.com/nkjemisin/status/1055937794265284614

https://twitter.com/nkjemisin/status/1055942408612052992

“Badassfully” — that cracks me up.

(6) FOR THE RECORD. Video researcher Echo Ishii’s latest two finds include one of the recent past and another from 20 years ago.

HUMANS is a UK science fiction television series that began in 2015. There are three series broadcast thus far. The theme revolves around a modern world in which anthropomorphic androids called ‘synths’ are part of daily life. Synths can be purchased for family/personal use but there are also synths contracted by companies and synths contracted by government health services. HUMANS is an SF drama show-the focus being on how the exists of synths explores human relationships to technology and each other….

…Thomas Veil’s life has been erased. His friends don’t know him and his identity seems to be erased from all record. He figures out that the people responsible for his erasure negatives of a photograph he took of rebels being hanged by  US soldiers in South America. Someone wants the negatives to erase all the evidence. Veil believes it’s part of a coverup of government activities.  He tries to identify the military unit involved using evidence from the photos, yet, each step takes him  deeper into a an ever, menacing conspiracy.  He follows a trail of clues with lead him to several other anomalies: one town controlled by  subliminal programming; another town in which people are being abducted by UFO’s;  yet another  town comprised entirely of people who’ve been erased like Tom.  Veil himself is often captured, tracked, and subject to further experiments.

(7) THE PLOT THICKENS. WIRED’s coverage of Kim Stanley’s Robinson’s new book, Red Moon, begins in his community garden plot — “The Climate-Obsessed Sci-Fi Genius of Kim Stanley Robinson”.

Robinson’s little town, crisscrossed by bike paths, is full of artists and scientists. (The guy who works the next garden plot over is a researcher at Monsanto; Robinson says everyone can tell that neighbor secretly threw down some RoundUp to clear a pathway.) Robinson tried to build a perfect ecosystem within the constraints of scientific and political realities. It went wrong. Now, only a polymerization of advanced superscience and hardcore diplomacy will fix it—and ignoring those realities will make things worse.

In other words, Kim Stanley Robinson is living inside a Kim Stanley Robinson novel….

(8) LE GUIN THE POET. David Naimon, who interviewed Ursula K. Le Guin for Ursula K. Le Guin: Conversations on Writing, discusses in “Always Beginning”, a post at the Poetry Foundation website, how Le Guin’s she continued to work on poems throughout her career.

…Despite her formal playfulness, Le Guin’s poems aren’t considered experimental or avant-garde. She wasn’t interested in what was or was not en vogue—formally, stylistically, or otherwise—in contemporary poetry. She found more freedom in the constraints of metrically rhyming verse than in free verse. And there is a way in which Le Guin’s poetry feels, if not out of time, then as if it arises from a longer span of time. I first noticed this elongated perspective, this drawing from a longer timeline of influence, when discussing the craft of writing fiction with her. She cautioned against getting swept up in whatever was in fashion given how many fashions she had seen come and go in publishing, as well as how the commodification of books shapes many of these fashions….

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and JJ.]

  • Born October 27, 1926 – Takumi Shibano, Teacher, Writer, Editor, and Fan from Japan. He co-founded and edited Uchujin, Japan’s first SF magazine, in 1957. He was a major figure in the establishment of Japanese SFF fandom, and he founded and chaired four of the first six conventions in that country. In 1968 the Trans-Oceanic Fan Fund (TOFF) paid for him to attend a Worldcon for the first time, in the U.S., where he was a Special Guest. He wrote several science fiction novels starting in 1969, but his work translating more than 60 science fiction novels into Japanese was his major contribution to speculative fiction. From 1979 on, he attended most Worldcons and served as the presenter of the Seiun Award. He was Fan Guest of Honor at two Worldcons, in 1996 and at Nippon 2007, he was given the Big Heart Award by English-speaking fandom, and he was presented with a Special Hugo Award and a Special Seiun Award.
  • Born October 27, 1939 – John Cleese, 79, Oscar-nominated Actor, Writer, and Producer from England whose most famous genre work is undoubtedly in the Hugo finalist Monty Python and the Holy Grail, but who has also appeared many other genre films, including the Saturn-nominated Time Bandits, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, The Great Muppet Caper, the live-action version of The Jungle Book, two of the Harry Potter movies, and the remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still – and, surprisingly, in episodes of the TV series The Avengers, Doctor Who, and 3rd Rock from the Sun. And he wrote a DC Elseworlds tale, Superman: True Brit, in which Superman was British. Really. Truly.
  • Born October 27, 1940 – Patrick Woodroffe, Artist and Illustrator from England, who produced more than 90 covers for SFF books, including works by Zelazny, Heinlein, and GRRM, along with numerous interior illustrations, in the 1970s. He was also commissioned to provide speculative art for record album cover sleeves; his masterwork was The Pentateuch of the Cosmogony: The Birth and Death of a World, a joint project with the symphonic rock musician Dave Greenslade, which purported to be the first five chapters of an alien Book of Genesis, consisting of two music discs by the musician and a 47-page book of Woodroffe’s illustrations. It sold over 50,000 copies in a five-year period, and the illustrations were exhibited at the Brighton UK Worldcon in 1979. Hallelujah Anyway, a collection of his work, was published in 1984, and he was nominated for Chesley and BSFA Awards.
  • Born October 27, 1948 – James Cosmo, 70, Actor and Producer from Scotland whose most notable recent genre appearance was playing Night’s Watch Commander Mormont in the series Game of Thrones. He had roles in the films Highlander, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising, Wonder Woman, Doomwatch, Malevolent, Dark Signal, and the short film 2081 (based on Vonnegut’s story “Harrison Bergeron”), as well as roles in TV series such as SS-GG, Terry Pratchett’s The Colour of Magic, UFO, Merlin, and the upcoming His Dark Materials.
  • Born October 27, 1948 – Bernie Wrightson, Artist and Illustrator, whose credits include dozens of comic books and fiction book covers, and more than hundred interior illustrations, as well as a number of accompanying works of short fiction. His first comic book story, “The Man Who Murdered Himself” appeared in the House of Mystery No. 179 in 1969. With writer Len Wein, he later co-created the muck creature Swamp Thing in House of Secrets No. 92. In the 70s, he spent seven years drawing approximately fifty detailed pen-and-ink illustrations to accompany an edition of Frankenstein. And in the 80s, he did a number of collaborations with Stephen King, including the comic book adaptation of that author’s horror film Creepshow. In 2012, he collaborated with Steve Niles on Frankenstein Alive, Alive! for which he won a National Cartoonists Society’s award. He was Guest of Honor at numerous conventions, was honored with an Inkwell Special Recognition Award for his 45-year comics art career, and received nominations for Chesley Awards for Superior and Lifetime Artistic Achievement and for a Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in an Illustrated Narrative.
  • Born October 27, 1953 – Robert Picardo, 65, Actor and Writer who played the Emergency Medical Hologram on 170 episodes of the Saturn-winning Star Trek: Voyager, a role which he reprised in cameos in the film Star Trek: First Contact and episodes of Deep Space Nine and the fan series Star Trek: Renegades. He is also credited with writing a Voyager tie-in work, The Hologram’s Handbook. He has a long list of other genre credits, including the films The Man Who Fell to Earth, Total Recall, Innerspace, Legend, Amazon Women on the Moon, and Gremlins 2 (for which he received a Saturn nomination to match the one he received for Voyager), and recurring roles in the TV series Stargate SG-1, Stargate Atlantis, Smallville, and Sabrina, the Teenage Witch. Since 1999 he has been a member of the Advisory Board, and now the Board of Directors, of The Planetary Society, which was founded by Carl Sagan to provide research, public outreach, and political advocacy for engineering projects related to astronomy, planetary science, and space exploration.
  • Born October 27, 1970 – Jonathan Stroud, 48, Writer from England who produces speculative genre literature for children and young adults. The Bartimaeus Trilogy is set in an alternate London, and involves a thousand-year-old djinn; Lockwood & Co. is a series involving ghost hunters in another alternative London. I’ve read a few of the latter – they’re fun, fast reads. His works have won 3 Mythopoeic Awards for Children’s Literature and 3 Prix Imaginaires for Youth Novels.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • In Monty, an attack of the credentials:
  • Wrong Hands is confident you’ll hear a lot of these clichés at Halloween.

(11) INPUT REQUESTED. Do you have an opinion about what magazines Featured Futures should cover? Jason wants to know: “Poll: What Magazines Should Featured Futures Cover?”

(12) BACK IN THE ZONE. Whew! Galactic Journey’s Natalie Devitt says in the new fall (1963) season The Twilight Zone has redeemed itself: “[October 26, 1963] [Return to Form] (Twilight Zone, Season 5, Episodes 1-4)”.

In case you have been living under a rock or moved on to newer programs, like The Outer Limits, The Twilight Zone returned to television for a fifth season. The series has also returned to a half-hour format and is once again airing on Friday nights. Back in May, I wrote that I hoped the program would be renewed for at least another season, because I just could not bear the thought of a once great series ending its run with an episode like The Bard. Well, it seems as if the television gods must have been listening because my wish has come true. If you have not been tuning in consistently for the past month, here is what you may have missed:

(13) PANNED. NPR’s Chris Klimek reviews “‘Suspiria’: A Cult-Horror Remake Dances To A Confusing Beat”.

Suspiria, Luca Guadagnino’s reimagining of Dario Argento’s gnarly Italian cult film about a haunted dance academy in Germany, is vulgar, shamelessly pretentious, and frequently opaque. But enough about its virtues.

Set in 1977, the year Argento unleashed Suspiria Prime upon the world, this “cover version” (in the words of Guadagnino’s longtime collaborator Tilda Swinton, who plays three of the new film’s major roles, under varying tonnages of prosthetic makeup) is, tonally and visually, muted and somber where its inspiration was vibrant and operatic. A title card at the opening warns us that it comprises “Six Acts and an Epilogue in a Divided Berlin,” and sure enough, this Suspiria, at 152 minutes, runs just shy of an hour longer than Argento’s. Even without those title cards at the top of each act, you would. Notice. The. Time.

(14) PECUNIAM PRO ARTIS. Monetizing: at London’s “Comic Con, Cosplayers explain how they support their art”.

Yaya Han has more than two million fans on Facebook alone. She’s become a celebrity in her own right and has even featured on comic book covers for Marvel.

She has found her niche within the community, but only through trial and error.

“It’s still brand new to all of us,” she says.

“I have a line of cosplay accessories that I designed back in the early 2000s. I have been selling online as well as at conventions as a vendor or exhibitor.

“People saw me at conventions for years, and this was how I built my name and brand recognition.

“I did all of this without knowing what I was doing. I just wanted to live at cons [conventions].

(15) OLD FILM SERVICE TO BE SHUTTERED. FilmStruck, a subsection/streaming service for old movies, will be closed before the end of November says Gizmodo: “Warner Bros. and Turner Are Killing One of the Internet’s Last Good Things”.

…  Variety reports that AT&T subsidiaries Warner Bros. Digital Network and Turner are shuttering FilmStruck, the Netflix-like streaming service for older films. If you’ll remember AT&T acquired Turner, Warner Bros., and HBO in a major deal in June.

FilmStruck, for the sadly uninitiated, is a service that allowed you to stream thousands of old movies and documentaries for less than the price of Netflix. For old movie lovers, this was an absolute boon; between the catalogs of Warner Bros., Turner, and Criterion, FilmStruck had the largest library of early films available to a mass audience. There are movies on the service that are virtually impossible for the public to view any other way—no VHS release, no readily available spools of film, and only the slightest chance of a screening on TCM.

(16) CEASELESS SURVEILLANCE. Camestros Felapton discusses the trilogy — “Review: The Centenal Cycle by Malka Older”.

Comprising three books (Infomocracy, Null States and State Tectonics), the Centenal Cycle examines a near future world with a radical form of global democracy. With most of the globe carved up into roughly equal population sized mini-states, Older’s thought-experiment novels takes the ‘marketplace of ideas’ seriously with a world where people might move a few blocks in a big city to change their government. The grout in the tiles of worldwide micro-democracy is information and Information. The latter is an organisation that is a cross between a nationalised Google, a surveillance state, a non-partisan civil service, the ‘deep state’ and a benevolent version of a Wikipedia of everything….

(17) FRANK AT 200. At Nerds of a Feather, Adri analyzes a thematic collection — “Microreview [Book]: Creatures: The Legacy of Frankenstein”.

I’m looking today at a timely volume from Abaddon books, which explores the mythology two centuries on through a new set of stories edited by David Thomas Moore. Creatures: The Legacy of Frankenstein is a collection of five long novelettes and/or short novellas exploring the legacy of Victor Frankenstein and his creation through a series of shared universe stories, dealing with other creators in other situations, all of which circle the same themes of life, death, autonomy and monstrosity that the original text evokes so effectively.

…Put together, this is a very strong collection: what the stories as a whole lack in inter-relatedness and consistency, they make up for in terms of the sheer breadth of the Frankenstein experience that they cover between them.

(18) STYLE SAVINGS. Silly, but they are authorized. “A Sweet Offer: The Last Unicorn Nail Wraps” at Support Peter S. Beagle.

Interested in some neat The Last Unicorn themed product that’s been personally endorsed by Peter and benefits him as well? Well do I have a very sweet deal for you!

Peter says to tell mr to share code UNICORN10 with you which will grant you 10% off of all The Last Unicorn nail wraps and you can go here to view all neat designs you can purchase.

(19) DEATH ON A HOLIDAY. The “15th Annual Halloween Mourning Tours” educate people about death in Los Angeles a century ago.

It’s 1918, there’s been a death in the family and you are invited to the funeral. Will you cry? What will you wear? Will you attempt to contact the dearly departed?

Get the answers as you join the funeral party and see how Edwardians grieved their dead at Heritage Square Museum’s popular Mourning Tours from noon – 4pm on October 27 and 28, 2018.  Throughout the weekend, funeral-goers will be immersed in mourning etiquette, participate in a reenactment ceremony inside a historic home and other activities including:

  • The year is 1918 and that means the Spanish Flu is wreaking havoc! Will you defy the gathering bans to attend the funeral? Or, if you are deemed “sick,” what will you discover as you are escorted into a flu-ridden home?
  • Learn about the turn-of-the-century movement of Spiritualism and the lure of séances complete with a reenactment and a discussion on the “tricks of the trade.”
  • Experience a re-creation of Phantasmagoria, a phenomenon that shocked and exhilarated its Victorian audiences.

(20) MOONBASE. An open access article at Nature — “How to build a Moonbase” [PDF file].

Researchers are ramping up plans for living on the Moon.

Next year, astronaut Matthias Maurer expects to walk on the surface of the Moon — but without the hassles of a rocket flight, zero-gravity nausea and a risky landing. Instead he’ll stroll close to home in a leafy meadow near Cologne, Germany, which is set to host the largest Moon mock-up ever made. On a pit of artificial lunar dust covering more than 1,000 square metres, Maurer and other scientists will be attached to crane-and-pulley systems that allow them to leap as if experiencing the Moon’s weaker gravity, and work under adjustable lamps that simulate lighting at different lunar sites. Sometimes, they will retreat to lunar-style living quarters: an airlock-connected module the size of a shipping container.

(21) BYE BYE BOBA. There won’t be a Boba Fett movie and this writer for The Verge seems to think it is a Good Thing™: “Lucasfilm canceling its Boba Fett film could be good news for Star Wars’ future”.

…We also know what happens with the other characters in the other rumored projects: Boba Fett gets eaten by a Sarlacc in Return of the Jedi, and Obi-Wan Kenobi bites it after helping a terrorism suspect escape from a secure facility in A New Hope. These backstory movies flesh out the larger world of Star Wars, but they’re not advancing the larger story or advancing toward the kind of ending that builds anticipation and story loyalty.

This isn’t to say that prequel stories can’t be useful or interesting. Lucasfilm’s animated TV shows have done solid work in looking at older time periods in the franchise and telling intriguing, engaging, successful stories…

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy Carl Slaughter, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jayn.]