Pixel Scroll 4/8/24 Everyone I Know Is A Hoopy Scroll, Who Know Where Their Pixel Is

(1) ANGRY ROBOT BRINGS ON ECLIPSE OF STORYWISE. [Item by Anne Marble.] Angry Robot Books announced a one-week open submissions period that begins April 22, and several posts down in their thread they also said they would be using a submissions portal named Storywise to help them sort through their submissions. In their image, they explain a little more and point out that it’s not generative AI.

Angry Robot provided more information about Storywise here: “Storywise and Open Submissions FAQ’s “ [Internet Archive copy]. It included information on how authors can opt out of Storywise being used in their submission.

For obvious reasons, people are worried. People are pointing out that the Storywise platform can have biases. (And because it’s software, you can’t see those biases.) While it’s great that it’s not generative AI, does that mean writers can still trust it? For example, how do authors known what Storywise will do with their submissions? Others think its fine because it’s not generative AI — it’s just AI being used as a tool. Some have pointed out that slush readers are often unpaid, so that this is not taking away jobs. (But does that apply to slush readers working for book publishers?!)

Here is a quote-tweet by Vajra Chandrasekera with lots of information about Storywise. (Thread starts on X.com here.)

Angry Robot subsequently removed the posts to social media about their open submissions, and walked back the announcement with respect to Storywise, saying they will resume using their inbox system.

Editor’s note: Adrian Moher has a good roundup about the controversy at Astrolabe Digest: 040824. (Moher provided the link in his social media.)

(2) ON THE WAY TO THE CENTERLINE. Rich Lynch snapped this photo of the view from Interstate 87, in the middle of Adirondack Park while on his way to witness today’s eclipse. (Click for larger image to read sign).

No pictures of the event itself, though. “I don’t have any eclipse photos on my iPhone.” But Rich says, “It very much did exceed my expectations, even with the sun having to burn its way through a thin cloud layer.”

(3) STOKERCON 2024 ADDS GOH. Rob Savage was announced today as StokerCon 2024’s fifth Guest of Honor.

Rob Savage initially gained attention at the age of 19 when he wrote, directed, produced, and edited the low-budget romantic drama film Strings (2012), he later became more widely known for his work in horror films and has since co-written and directed lockdown horror hit Host (2020), co-written and directed Dashcam (2021), and directed Stephen King adaptation The Boogeyman (2023).

The con also signal-boosted HWA’s Librarian’s Day.

This year’s Librarian’s Day on Friday, May 31, 2024, once again offers fantastic programming featuring the conference’s guest authors on timely topics and more. Librarian’s Day ticket holders ($60) will have access to the Dealers Room and other areas of the full conference throughout the day.  

(4) DETROIT FURRY CON VICTIMIZED AGAIN. “Motor City Furry Con evacuated for second straight year” reports Audacy.

For a second straight year Motor City Furry Con attendees were forced to be evacuated from their hotel due to a threat.

The nature of the threat was not clear, but officials with the convention confirmed Sunday the Ann Arbor Marriott Ypsilanti at Eagle Crest in Ypsilanti was evacuated around 9 a.m.

The “all clear” was given around 12:30 p.m. and the final day of convention activities resumed.

Sunday’s evacuation comes a year after attendees were evacuated from the same hotel due to an emailed bomb threat. Ultimately, there were no injuries or any explosives found last March.

The Motor City Furry Con is a convention for people who “appreciate the anthropomorphic lifestyle,” according to a report from The Detroit Free Press.

The Detroit Free Press article also noted, “Event attendee Scoops took to social media to celebrate the second year of being an evacuee.”

(5) SLOWLY WE TURNED, STEP BY STEP. “Caeciliusinhorto” has written an impressive perspective piece synthesizing all the news items that comprise “The 2023 Hugo Awards fuckup” for Reddit’s r/HobbyDrama.

… After much discussion, the general consensus seemed to coalesce around a combination of two or three explanations: firstly, active censorship by the Hugo administrators, possibly due to pressure from the Chinese government (national or local); secondly, incompetence; and perhaps thirdly, weird nominator behaviour (possibly including organised voting blocs). For a while things stalled there: the data was obviously wrong, the most plausible explanation seemed to be some combination of cock-up and conspiracy, and there was no prospect of anyone finding out anything more.

And then we found out more….

(6) SURE. MAYBE. DUNNO. ABSOLUTELY NOT. Nautilus asked six sff writers “Does Science Fiction Shape the Future?”.

Behind most every tech billionaire is a sci-fi novel they read as a teenager. For Bill Gates it was Stranger in a Strange Land, the 1960s epic detailing the culture clashes that arise when a Martian visits Earth. Google’s Sergey Brin has said it was Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash, the cyberpunk classic about hackers and computer viruses set in an Orwellian Los Angeles. Jeff Bezos cites Iain M. Banks’ Culture series, which unreel in an utopian society of humanoids and artificial intelligences, often orchestrated by “Minds,” a powerful AI. Elon Musk named three of SpaceX’s landing drones after starships from Banks’ books, a tribute to the role they played in turning his eyes to the stars.

Part of this makes sense. Science fiction widens the frontiers of our aspirations. It introduces us to new technologies that could shape the world, and new ideas and political systems that could organize it. It’s difficult to be an architect of the future without a pioneer’s vision of what that future might look like. For many, science fiction blasts that vision open.

Yet these tech titans seem to skip over the allegories at the heart of their favorite sci-fi books. Musk has tweeted, “If you must know, I am a utopian anarchist of the kind best described by Iain Banks.” Yet in Banks’ post-scarcity utopia, billionaires and their colossal influence are banished to the most backward corners of the galaxy.

Recently, I interviewed six of today’s foremost science-fiction authors. I asked them to weigh in on how much impact they think science fiction has had, or can have, on society and the future….

The interview subjects are N.K. Jemisin, Andy Weir, Lois McMaster Bujold, David Brin, Cory Doctorow and Charles Stross. Here’s a quote from Stross:

Charles Stross: Yes, the entire current AI bubble is exactly that. The whole idea of AI has been turned into the centerpiece of a secular apocalyptic religion in which we can create superhumanly intelligent slaves that will solve all our knottily human intellectual problems, then work out how to liberate our pure soul-stuff from these clumsy rotting meatbags and upload us into a virtual heaven. And right now, some of the biggest tech companies out there are run by zealots who believe this stuff, even though we have no clear understanding of the mechanisms underlying consciousness. It’s an unsupported mass of speculation, but it’s threatening to derail efforts to reduce our carbon footprint and mitigate the climate crisis by encouraging vast energy expenditure.

(7) MONSTER BOX OFFICE. Godzilla x Kong rang the registers loudly last weekend reports Variety.

“Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire” dominated the domestic box office again, looming large over newcomers “Monkey Man” and “The First Omen.”

Warner Bros. and Legendary Entertainment’s monster tentpole added $31.7 million from 3,948 theaters in its second weekend of release. Ticket sales dropped a standard (for a tentpole of its size and scale) 60% from its mighty $80 million debut and stand at $132 million domestically and $361 million globally.

First-time director Dev Patel’s action thriller “Monkey Man” nabbed second place with $10.1 million from 3,029 venues, while Disney and 20th Century’s supernatural prequel “The First Omen” trailed at the No. 4 spot with a muted $8.4 million from 3,375 locations….

(8) PEAK TELEVISION. “Twin Peaks’ Agent Cooper: How TV’s strangest detective was born” – BBC went right to the source.

… Writer Mark Frost told the BBC’s Late Show that part of the inspiration behind the character was the show’s co-creator and director David Lynch. 

“I tried to base that character on David to some extent,” said Frost. “A lot of his quirkiness and attention to detail, which are things that David has in great abundance, sort of came to the surface with that character. I guess his interest in people’s obsessions, and characters who are obsessed with something, are pretty common with other things he’s done.” …

(9) SMALL BUSINESS. And what is David Lynch working on today? “David Lynch Still Wants To Make Animated Movie ‘Snootworld’: Interview” at Deadline. Netflix said no – maybe someone else will say yes.

…“I don’t know when I started thinking about Snoots but I’d do these drawings of Snoots and then a story started to emerge,” Lynch told us in a rare interview. “I got together with Caroline and we worked on a script. Just recently I thought someone might be interested in getting behind this so I presented it to Netflix in the last few months but they rejected it.”

Lynch was philosophical about the reasons for that decision: “Snootworld is kind of an old fashioned story and animation today is more about surface jokes. Old fashioned fairytales are considered groaners: apparently people don’t want to see them. It’s a different world now and it’s easier to say no than to say yes.”

Thompson described the storyline to us as “wackadoo”: “It takes my breath away how wacky it is. The Snoots are these tiny creatures who have a ritual transition at aged eight at which time they get tinier and they’re sent away for a year so they are protected. The world goes into chaos when the Snoot hero of the story disappears into the carpet and his family can’t find him and he enters a crazy, magnificent world”….

(10) WHO WAS THAT MASKED MAN? “Star Trek Discovery’s Doug Jones Reveals How He Said Goodbye to Saru (And It Involves Whitney Houston)”Comicbook.com listens in.

Star Trek: Discovery‘s long-awaited fifth season finally debuted this week on Paramount+, and it marks the beginning of the end for the series. ComicBook.com recently had the chance to chat with some of the show’s cast, and they opened up about saying goodbye to their characters in the final season. Doug Jones (Saru) revealed how he said farewell to the character he began playing in 2017, and it involves an iconic song…

“Oh yeah,” Jones said when asked if he was able to keep any part of Saru after the show finished filming. “I wasn’t gonna let that go. Yeah. My final time taking Saru off, I did not cut him up and throw him across the room at all,” he added, referencing the famous story of René Auberjonois throwing his Odo mask at the showrunner at the end of Deep Space Nine. “I held him on my hand and we were playing a Whitney Houston song and I sang ‘I Will Always Love You’ to him and somebody was recording it. So I hope that’s out there somewhere.”…

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born April 8, 1974 Nnedi Okorafor, 50. Tonight we have Nnedi Okorafor, a truly phenomenal writer. 

She’s Nigerian, and has coined two words to describe her literary focus, Africanfuturism, and Africanjujuism. The latter word identifies the Afrocentric subgenre of fantasy fiction that draws on African spiritualities and cosmologies. Cool. 

Let’s start with some of her work as comic book writer.  The LaGuardia series that she wrote for was published by Berger Books. The collection won a Graphic Story Hugo Award at ConZealand, and her Black Panther: Long Live the King was nominated at Dublin 2019. She did other work in the Panther universe as well — Shuri in which Black Panther is missing and she has to find him (great story), Wakanda Forever and Shuri: Wakanda Forever

I started there as I love her writing in this medium. Now let me pick my favorite novellas and novels by her. 

The Binti trilogy is an extraordinary feat of writing and my favorite reading experience by her. The Binti” novella which leads it off won a Hugo at MidAmeriCon II. Then came the “Binti: Home” novella which was nominatedfor a Hugo at Worldcon 76 and the final “Binti: The Night Masquerade” novella to date which was nominatedfor a Hugo at Dublin 2019. 

Lagoon is a deep dive in Nigerian mythology including Legba in the forefront here, in what is a SF novel as aliens and humans come together to form a new postcapitalist Nigeria. Neat concept well executed, characters are fascinating and the story is done well. 

(12) COMICS SECTION.

(13) IT COULDN’T HURT. “Fallout Moves To California For Season 2 With Big Tax Credit Award”Deadline pencils in the numbers.

Just days before its debut, Fallout looks to be assured a second season thanks to a $25 million tax credit from California.

Officially, Amazon has not said yet that the Prime Video series is coming back, but, with some hints from executive producers Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan recently, it is pretty clear the money is doing the talking here. Receiving one of the largest allocations ever from the program for a relocating series, the LA-set post-apocalyptic drama is among a dozen shows awarded $152 million in incentives.

Primetime prequel NCIS: Originsthe Noah Wyle starring The Pitt, plus the Ryan Murphy executive produced Dr. Odyssey starring Joshua Jackson, and Grotesquerie starring Emmy winner Niecy Nash also were awarded credits through the California Film Commission run $330 million annual program – as you can see below….

… Of course, being awarded the tax credits, even big bucks like what Fallout has reaped, is no guarantee a project will go forward. The allocations are conditional on certain timelines being met, and a number of films and shows, like Season 2 of Amazon’s spy saga Citadel, have dropped out of the program after getting a green light….

(14) FILM CENSORSHIP. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Though not SF in itself, this half-hour radio programme, Screenshot, will be of interest to anyone over here in Brit Cit who are fans of fantastic films.  It explains how Britain ranks its films for age suitability. Those in the rebel colonies are not ignored as there is a section comparing Britain’s system with that in the US. It seems we get a better deal over here. Meanwhile, along the way Kim Newman (co-master of ceremonies at the 2005 Hugo ceremony) gets a name check.

As the British Board of Film Classification publishes its new guidelines, Ellen E Jones and Mark Kermode delve into the long, chequered history of film censorship and classification in the UK.

Mark speaks to BBFC President (and original Strictly Come Dancing winner) Natasha Kaplinsky about her role, and about her reaction to the new guidelines. And he discusses the Board’s controversial history, and some of its most notorious decisions, with ex-BBFC Head of Compliance Craig Lapper.

Ellen talks to director Prano Bailey-Bond about her debut film Censor, which was inspired by the ‘video nasty’ moral panic of the 1980s. And pop culture critic Kayleigh Donaldson talks her through some of the differences between the BBFC and its US equivalent, the MPA Ratings Board.

Half hour prog here: BBC Radio 4 – Screenshot, “Censorship”.

(15) THE ELEPHANT NOT IN THE ROOM. “US company hoping to bring back the dodo and the mammoth – but here’s why it won’t be like Jurassic Park” explains Sky News.

… “We’ve got all the technology we need,” says Ben Lamm, chief executive of the firm, based in Dallas, Texas.

“It is just a focus of time and funding. But we are 100% confident [we can bring back] the Tasmanian tiger, the dodo, and the mammoth.”

The science behind the project is simple: Work out the genes that make an extinct animal what it is, and then replicate those genes using the DNA of a close existing relative….

… So after around 4,000 years of extinction, when could we see the return of the mighty mammoth – a creature that fell victim to human hunting and the changing conditions brought about by the end of the last Ice Age.

“We are well into the editing phase,” says Mr Lamm.

“We don’t have mammoths yet, but we still feel very good about 2028.”…

(16) STAND BY FOR MANIACAL LAUGHTER. “Animaniacs in Concert” will be presented at Pepperdine in Malibu on April 19. Buy tickets at the link. Learn more about the show itself at their website: “Animaniacs – IN CONCERT”.

Join the leading voice cast of Animaniacs—the iconic animated Warner Bros. series created and produced by Steven Spielberg—for a “zany, animany and totally insaney” evening as they perform the world-famous songs backed by projections from the beloved cartoon TV series. The live show celebrates the creative inspiration behind the songs with lots of audience interaction and never-before-told behind-the-scenes insider stories shared by the show’s original Emmy-Winning composer Randy Rogel and iconic voice actors like Rob Paulsen (Yakko) and Maurice LaMarche (The Brain) to some of the most unforgettable characters in the history of animation. Special guest Nancy Cartwright joins for this performance. Nancy, of course, is Bart Simpson, a lead character in a “globally known property,”  as well as Mindy in Animaniacs, from “Mindy and Buttons.”  

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Warp Zone’s video “If the Star Wars ‘Cantina Song’ Had Lyrics” was first posted six years ago – but it is news to me! (Maybe you, too?)

[Thanks to SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Steven French, Mike Kennedy, Mark Roth-Whitworth, Lise Andreasen, Daniel Dern, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Igvar.]

Pixel Scroll 3/16/24 And The Riverbank Scrolls Of The Pixels Of March

(1) SEE SAMATAR’S EPIC LECTURE. Sofia Samatar will deliver the 2024 Richard W. Gunn Memorial Lecture on Monday, March 18, at 4:00 p.m Central. The lecture is virtual and you can register here. She will be speaking on the relationship between epic poetry and fantasy:

What is the relationship between ancient epic poetry and the contemporary genre known as epic fantasy? This talk offers five answers to that question, from the perspective of a speculative fiction writer. Sofia Samatar is the author of six books, including the memoir The White Mosque, a PEN/Jean Stein Award finalist. Her works range from the award-winning epic fantasy A Stranger in Olondria to Tone, a collaborative study of literary tone with Kate Zambreno.

(2) THE FIRST GREEN HILLS. Bobby Derie filled in a previously unsuspected gaping hole in my knowledge of sff history with “Quest for the Green Hills of Earth (1995) by Ned Brooks” at Deep Cuts in a Lovecraftian Vein. Originally I was just checking to see if he was talking about the Ned Brooks I knew – he was. Then – bang! – I discovered that C.L. Moore and Henry Kuttner are at the root of a famous verse tradition.

…Who wrote this bit [in “Quest of the Starstone”]? Moore was the poet of the pair, but Kuttner was no slouch, and the title itself is a callback to two previous tales. In “Shambleau” Moore wrote: “[…] he hummed The Green Hills of Earth to himself in a surprisingly good baritone”; and in “The Cold Gray God” (1935):

“No one sang Starless Night any more, and it was the Earth-born Rose Robertson’s voice which rang through the solar system in lilting praise of The Green Hills of Earth.”

That could be the kind of detail that a good pasticheur like Kuttner would pick up and expand upon. Yet it wouldn’t be surprising if they both had a hand in the final version of this scene….

…However, Sam Moskowitz claims:

“When Robert Heinlein read the story, he never forgot the phrase which became the title of one of his most famous short stories and of a collection, The Green Hills of Earth.”Sam Moskowitz, Seekers of Tomorrow (1967), 312

“The Green Hills of Earth” ran in The Saturday Evening Post for 8 Feb 1947, and provided the title for Heinlein’s 1951 collection of science fiction. Heinlein did not reiterate Moore & Kuttner’s verses, but came up with his own—and attributed it to an author, the blind poet Rhysling….

Ned Brooks later produced a chapbook based on these works:

…This is where Quest of the Green Hills of Earth (1995) comes in. Edited by Ned Brooks and illustrated by Alan Hunter, this is the kind of standalone chapbook that is a hallmark of science fiction and fantasy fandom. It reprints “Quest of the Starstone” in its entirety, Heinlein’s verses from “The Green Hills of Earth,” and three fan-made versions—one by Chuck Rein, George Heap, “and other fans of the 1960s”; one by Don Markstein (“late 60s”), and one by Steve Sneyd (Oct 1992)….

(3) SPIRITED GIVING 2024. Spirited Giving, a horror-themed fundraiser serving as the official kickoff to StokerCon 2024, takes place May 29, 2024 beginning at 3:00 p.m. in the San Diego Central Library. Full details at the link.  

It’s a night of author readings, live performances, meet and greets, and book signings, all while raising funds for the San Diego Library Foundation, particularly the Books Unbanned Initiative.

The event will feature readings from: Clay McLeod Chapman, Jamie Flanagan, Ai Jiang, Vincent V. Cava, Danger Slater, and Bridget D. Brave. And a special one-hour live performance by YouTube Horror Narrator Mr. Creepypasta.

To attend the event, get Spirited Giving Tickets at Eventbrite.

(4) IF NOT NEWS TO YOU, IT WILL BE NEWS TO SOMEONE. At Literary Hub Debbie Berne makes her case — “Not Just Covers, But Every Page: Why Writers Should Talk About Book Design Early On”.

… Interior design is both micro and macro. It involves technical prowess and creativity. There is line-by-line typesetting and there is translation of vibe.

Take, for instance, chapter openers. Most books are divided into chapters and an author has decided if they each have chapter titles or just numbers, or both, or neither, or additional info like a subtitle or time stamp or narrator name or geographic locator or setting-up-an-idea pull quote.

The designer, then, must figure out how to make those pieces of text—many or few—look nice and clear on the page and put forward an aesthetic, bringing visual voice to the writing voice. Which font? How big? How bold? Italic? Centered or no? In a single line, neatly stacked, cascading? Each decision is literal and expressive….

(5) HOW MUCH WAS C-3PO’S HEAD WORTH? Read the answer reported in Friday’s Birmingham (UK) Mail.

(6) SPRINGTIME FOR WONKA. Everyone is going to make money off this disaster except the people who perpetrated it. (Would you have it any other way?) “Viral Willy Wonka Glasgow event to be turned into musical” at BBC.

A new musical satire based on a Glasgow Willy Wonka experience that went viral is in the works.

The show’s lead producer, Richard Kraft, has assembled a team of writers and producers for the project titled Willy Fest: A Musical Parody.

The event in February gained notoriety after angry families, who paid up to £35 to attend, demanded their money back.

Kraft says he hopes people watching the show “won’t be left in tears.”

The creative team working on the musical includes Emmy-nominated actor and comedian Riki Lindhome who tweeted, “I’m so excited,” along with screenshots of an article.

Others attached to the project include Broadway songwriters Alan Zachary and Michael Weiner.

Kraft is known for producing and directing a Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory concert at the famed Hollywood Bowl.

He told the BBC it was his idea to turn the Glasgow event into a musical and that the writing team was “assembled in less time than it takes for someone to sing the first verse of ‘Oompa Loompa Doompa-Dee-Do’.”

He hopes to launch the musical later this year….

…Asked why the Glasgow event might be ripe for the musical theatre treatment, Kraft said: “It is about desperate dreamers who actually have fragments of a great idea, just executed beyond their budget and abilities.”

He said he loved shows “about big-hearted flim-flam artists in musicals like The Music Man, The Greatest Showman, and The Producers. At the core they are romantics who get in over their heads.”…

(7) THREE-BODY, BUT NOT JUST ONE PROBLEM. “’3 Body Problem:’ How Netflix’s new sci-fi saga employs the legendary Wow! signal”Space.com is sure you’ll want to know.

The Wow! signal is one of the great astronomy puzzles of the past 50 years, but it’s not so mysterious in the sci-fi universe of “3 Body Problem.”

Netflix’s new eight-episode alien invasion saga “3 Body Problem” uses the famous SETI (search for extraterrestrial intelligence) signal as a prominent plot device in its wild centuries-spanning narrative.

The Wow! signal was an intense narrowband radio signal detected on the night of Aug. 15, 1977 by Ohio State University’s Big Ear Radio Observatory and the North American Astrophysical Observatory (NAAPO) during a standard SETI search. No personnel were on duty at the time, yet the strong 72-second-long signal was recorded by a computer printer….

Beware spoiler:

… “3 Body Problem,” which drops on March 21, puts its own spin on the signal. In the series, Wow! is a real message from intelligent aliens beyond Earth. A Chinese astrophysicist responds to the translated signal by inviting the aliens to visit Earth — to humanity’s detriment, as we later learn….

(8) SIGNING TIME. John King Tarpinian has the Glendale Civic Auditorium all prepared to welcome tomorrow’s influx of dealers to the 2024 LA Vintage Paperback Collectors Show & Sale.

(9) JON STOPA (1935-2024). Longtime Chicagoland fan Jon Stopa died March 4 at the age of 88. See the family obituary in the Kenosha News at the link. (The family obituary spells his first name “John”. In the sff field he was known as “Jon” except for the few instances when he used “John” in the credits for his book cover art for Advent:Publishers).

Jon Stopa

Fancyclopedia 3’s article about Jon records that he made his first sf short story sale to Astounding at age 22, “The First Inch” published in 1957, followed by two more appearances in Campbell’s magazine in 1958. Jon’s fourth and last fiction credit was in 1973 with “Kiddy-Lib” in Eros in Orbit.

He co-founded Advent:Publishers in 1955 with Earl Kemp, Robert Briney, Sidney Coleman, James O’Meara, George Price, and Ed Wood. The company produced nonfiction books about the sf field, the first of which was Damon Knight’s essay collection In Search of Wonder (1956).

A Jon Stopa-designed Advent book cover.

Stopa met Joni Cornell at the 1960 Worldcon (Pittcon). They married in 1962 and lived at Wilmot Mountain, Stopa’s family ski resort in Wilmot, WI, where they began hosting Wilcon, a three-day long invitation-only relaxacon.

Jon appears as a bartender in the video Faans (1983) (around the 18:50 mark) in a scene shot at the lodge at Wilmot Mountain.

Throughout the 1960s, the Stopas entered and won many convention masquerades. In the early 1970s, the couple helped found the conrunning group ISFiC.

The Stopas were Fan GoHs at Chicon V, the 1991 Worldcon.

Jon’s survivors include his grandson, Keanen (Kim) Burns; sister, Diane Reese; great-granddaughter, Kinsley Burns; and nieces: Tiffany and Amanda Stopa. Along with his parents and wife; John was preceded in death by his daughter, Deb Burns; and brothers: Walter Jr. and Conrad (Karen) Stopa.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born March 16, 1920 Leo McKern. (Died 2002.) Pop culture is wonderful, isn’t it? And Leo McKern was definitely part of it. 

The Prisoner where he was Number Two in three of the seventeen episodes is definitely his best remembered SF role. He played that role more than any of the other seventeen credited actors. That is if you consider The Prisoner to even be SF and not merely a spy series gone very weird. Just tossing that idea out here.

Leo McKern as Number Two in The Prisoner.

Next up is The Adventures of Robin Hood where he was Sir Roger DeLisle, usurper of the Locksley manor and lands, and Herbert of Doncaster, a corrupt moneylender. It was an early Fifties series and his of earliest acting roles. 

Sliding on later in his career is one of my favorite roles by him, Horace Rumpole, a London barrister on Rumpole of the Bailey. He was a great  character to watch, the cases were interesting and the supporting cast was well thought out.

Slipping on over to his radio work, he was the voice of Captain Haddock in the 1992 and 1993 BBC Radio Hergé’s The Adventures of Tintin.

He was “Mac” MacGill in X the Unknown, a Fifties horror SF film from Hanmer Productions; and he’s got a lead role as Bill McGuire in The Day the Earth Caught Fire, an end of the world Sixties film.

The final role I want to mention is in The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother where he gets to be Professor Moriarty. I’m almost certain that I’ve seen it. 

(11) COMICS SECTION.

And we’re overdue to catch up with Tom Gauld!

(12) STAND AND DELIVER. [Item by Steven French.] Sally Wainwright is a national treasure over here in the U.K. so her writing a new fantasy show set in the 18th century (featuring Louisa Harland formerly of Derry Girls as a gender fluid highwaywoman with superpowers!) is a Big Deal: “’I never dreamed I’d get this role!’: Derry Girl Louisa Harland on Sally Wainwright’s thrilling new heroine” in the Guardian.

When Louisa Harland was cast as the lead in the new Sally Wainwright drama, Renegade Nell, the director told her: “Nell needs to be one of those characters, even when she’s on the screen so much, you still want the audience to miss her when she’s not.” It’s quite an ask: Nell is a massive Doctor Who of a role, swashbuckling, always with a new accent or cool pyrotechnics or punch in the face, and Harland fills the screen every second she’s on it. Somehow, though, you do miss her when she isn’t. Meeting the 31-year-old in central London, I can see exactly why she was chosen for Nell, even though almost the first thing she says is “I never in my wildest dreams thought I would get this role. My parents still think it is so random.”

Renegade Nell is a rebel and a chancer, an 18th-century tomboy in a constant life-or-death scenario of some other bugger’s making. The year is 1705, and she’s just lost her husband in a battle that has left her both widowed and superhuman, but only sometimes. The show has a lush period feel and is a closely observed love affair with the British countryside (Harland describes the incredibly precise location scouts combing through forests searching for trees that would have been mature by 1705), but it is powered by mischief – fight scenes, disguises, magic monsters and highway robbery after highway robbery….

(13) JAPANIMATION’S SUICIDE SQUAD. Animation Magazine introduces Warner Bros. Japan LLC’s updated trailer featuring the anime-styled anti-heroes of Suicide Squad ISEKAI.

Synopsis:  In the crime-ridden Gotham city, Amanda Waller, the head of A.R.G.U.S., has assembled a group of notorious criminals for a mission: Harley Quinn, Deadshot, Peacemaker, Clayface and King Shark. These DC Super-Villains are sent into an otherworldly realm that’s connected to this world through a gate. It’s a world of swords and magic where orcs rampage and dragons rule the skies — an “ISEKAI!”

Harley and others go on a rampage after arriving in ISEKAI but are captured by the Kingdom’s soldiers and sent to prison. They only have 72 hours before the bomb on their neck explodes.

The deadline is fast approaching. After negotiations with Queen Aldora, the condition for liberation was the conquest of the hostile Imperial army. They have no choice but to throw themselves head-first into the front line of battle.

They run; they die. They lose; they die. With their lives on the line, can Harley Quinn and The Suicide Squad survive in ISEKAI? Brace yourselves for the pulse-pounding saga of the elite task force known as the “Suicide Squad” as they embark on a jaw-dropping adventure! Let the party begin!

(14) THE HOBBIT DIET EXPLAINED SCIENTIFICALLY. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Filers may have noted “(10) NO MICHELIN STARS FOR MORDOR.  CBR.com chronicles ‘Every Meal Hobbits Eat In Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings’” in “Pixel Would Like A Word With Engineering”. It strikes me that there is a very logical, biological reason for Hobbits requiring more meals than us, larger, humans!

It centres on the fact that scale is size specific: a cube does not have the same spatial properties at any scale – its surface area to volume ration is scale specific. For example, to depart slightly from a simple cube, a single cube might have a volume of one unit and a surface area of six square units: a cube has six sides. However, a cube of volume of two cubic unites only has a surface area of ten square units. (You can easily create a volume of two cubic units by joining two one-cubic-volume cubes together and in the process cover two, one cubic square sides leaving just ten cubic squares as the surface area.)

What this all means is that smaller creatures have proportionally more surface area from which to lose heat.

Hobbits are smaller than humans and so must lose more heat assuming they have the same blood temperature. Proportionally losing more heat means that they must consume proportionally more food, hence require more meals.

Jus’ sayin’.

Second breakfast anyone?

(15) POOR LITTLE MERCURY! Space.com says “Mercury slammed by gargantuan eruption from the sun’s hidden far side, possibly triggering ‘X-ray auroras’”.

A gigantic, fiery eruption around 40 times wider than Earth recently exploded from the sun’s hidden far side. The eruption hurled a massive cloud of plasma into space that later smashed into Mercury, scouring the planet’s rocky surface and potentially triggering “X-ray auroras” on the unprotected world.

The eruption was likely triggered by a powerful solar flare, which occurred around 7 p.m. ET on March 9, Spaceweather.com reported. NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) spotted a large, partially obscured plasma filament exploding outward from behind the sun’s northeast limb. Based on the amount of visible plasma, the eruption likely spanned around 310,000 miles (500,000 kilometers) across.

SDO data showed that the explosion, which likely left behind a massive “canyon of fire” on the sun’s surface, also released a large coronal mass ejection (CME) — a fast-moving cloud of magnetized plasma and radiation — that collided with Mercury on March 10.

Mercury is often blasted with CMEs due to its proximity to our home star. The small planet has no atmosphere left as a result of this bombardment and is fully exposed to the full force of these solar storms. …

(16) HOT TIMES CLOSER TO HOME. “The Staggering Ecological Impacts of Computation and the Cloud” at The MIT Press Reader. “Anthropologist Steven Gonzalez Monserrate draws on five years of research and ethnographic fieldwork in server farms to illustrate some of the diverse environmental impacts of data storage.” (A full version of this article, as well as a bibliography, can be accessed here.)

…The molecular frictions of digital industry, as this example shows, proliferate as unruly heat. The flotsam and jetsam of our digital queries and transactions, the flurry of electrons flitting about, warm the medium of air. Heat is the waste product of computation, and if left unchecked, it becomes a foil to the workings of digital civilization. Heat must therefore be relentlessly abated to keep the engine of the digital thrumming in a constant state, 24 hours a day, every day.

To quell this thermodynamic threat, data centers overwhelmingly rely on air conditioning, a mechanical process that refrigerates the gaseous medium of air, so that it can displace or lift perilous heat away from computers. Today, power-hungry computer room air conditioners (CRACs) or computer room air handlers (CRAHs) are staples of even the most advanced data centers. In North America, most data centers draw power from “dirty” electricity grids, especially in Virginia’s “data center alley,” the site of 70 percent of the world’s internet traffic in 2019. To cool, the Cloud burns carbon, what Jeffrey Moro calls an “elemental irony.” In most data centers today, cooling accounts for greater than 40 percent of electricity usage….

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Physicist Matt O’Dowd at PBS Space Time this week takes a dive into a decidedly SFnal trope, that of the possible need to hide humanity from aliens as they themselves may be doing so?

Dark Forest: Should We NOT Contact Aliens?

In 1974 we sent the Arecibo radio message towards Messier 13, a globular cluster near the edge of the Milky Way, made up of a few hundred thousand stars. The message was mostly symbolic; we weren’t really expecting a reply. Yet surely other civilisations out there are doing the same thing. So, why haven’t we heard anything? What if the silence from the stars is a hint that we shouldn’t be so outgoing? What if aliens are deliberately keeping quiet for fear that they might be destroyed?

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

Pixel Scroll 2/29/24 Scrollaris

(1) STOKER AWARD UPDATE SPARKS KERFUFFLE. [Item by Anne Marble.] The Horror Writers Association has realized that Camp Damascus by Chuck Tingle was in the wrong category in the list of finalists — it is not a YA novel. So they moved it to the Adult category – increasing the finalists there from five to six (i.e, nobody was dropped). And because of this change, they added a YA novel by author Kalynn Bayron to the YA category.

But as a result, some people are yelling at Kalynn Bayron on social media — apparently because they think she “stole” the nomination from Chuck Tingle. And Brian Keene has stepped in and asked people to yell at Mr. Keene instead. Let’s see if the people who were so eager to yell at Kalynn Bayron (a young Black YA author) are just as eager to yell at Brian Keene. (Somehow, I doubt it.)

(2) STOKERCON GOH NEWS. Paula Guran will be unable to attend StokerCon 2024 the convention announced today in a newsletter. A reason was not given; the committee hopes she will be able to join them at a future event.

The remaining GoHs are Justina Ireland, Nisi Shawl, Jonathan Maberry and Paul Tremblay.

(3) ANNUAL YARDSTICK. Publishers Weekly reports “New Lee & Low Diversity Baseline Survey Finds Minor Changes” in the publishing industry.

The third edition of Lee & Low Books’ quadrennial “Diversity Baseline Survey” found that the publishing industry has made incremental gains in broadening its workforce since the survey was introduced in 2015.

The survey’s top-line findings show that white people made up 72.5% of this year’s 8,644 respondents, down from 76% in 2019 and 79% in 2015. Those identifying as biracial/multiracial were the second largest group, at 8.3%—a significant increase over the 3% in 2019 who identified as biracial/multiracial. The percentage of respondents who were Asian/Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander/South Asian/Southeast Indian rose slightly, to almost 8%, from 7% in 2019. Black respondents held even at about 5% of the publishing workforce, while those identifying as Hispanic/Latino/Mexican fell to 4.6%, from 6% in both 2019 and 2015….

(4) REACH OUT. Dream Foundry calls for donations to “Con or Bust”, which seeks to assist creators or fans of color with opportunities they can’t afford:

Con or Bust has received a slew of applications for extremely exciting opportunities that we are not currently able to fund or support. You can help us change that! Since late October, we’ve had to defer or decline 14 applications requesting over $25,000 in fiscal support. In most cases even a small portion of the request made as a grant would be a huge help to the applicant. Most fiscal grants we’ve made are $500, and that’s also the largest amount we’ve granted out of our unrestricted funds. …

…If you’ve ever been to an industry event that inspired, motivated, or nurtured you, then you know what these opportunities can mean. Help us bring that to more people!

(5) WRITERS AND ARTISTS, GET READY. Dream Foundry is also looking ahead to their annual Writing and Arts Contest which opens to submissions from April 1 through May 27, 2024.

(6) MACHINES IN TRAINING. Rivka Galchen is “Thinking About A.I. with Stanisław Lem” in The New Yorker.

…“Solaris” is mostly serious in tone, which makes it a misleading example of Lem’s work. More often and more distinctively, he is funny and madcap and especially playful on the level of language. A dictionary of his neologisms, published in Poland in 2006, has almost fifteen hundred entries; translated into English, his invented words include “imitology,” “fripple,” “scrooch,” “geekling,” “deceptorite,” and “marshmucker.” (I assume that translating Lem is the literary equivalent of differential algebra, or category theory.) A representative story, from 1965, is “The First Sally (A) or, Trurl’s Electronic Bard.” Appearing in a collection titled “The Cyberiad,” the story features Trurl, an engineer of sorts who constructs a machine that can write poetry. Does the Electronic Bard read as an uncanny premonition of ChatGPT? Sure. It can write in the style of any poet, but the resulting poems are “two hundred and twenty to three hundred and forty-seven times better.” (The machine can also write worse, if asked.)

It’s not Trurl’s first machine. In other stories, he builds one that can generate anything beginning with the letter “N” (including nothingness) and one that offers supremely good advice to a ruler; the ruler is not nice, though, so it’s good that Trurl put in a subcode that the machine will not destroy its maker. The Electronic Bard is not easy for Trurl to make. In thinking about how to program it, Trurl reads “twelve thousand tons of the finest poetry” but deems the research insufficient. As he sees it, the program found in the head of even an average poet “was written by the poet’s civilization, and that civilization was in turn programmed by the civilization that preceded it, and so on to the very Dawn of Time.” The complexity of the average poet-machine is daunting….

(7) THE ROOM WHERE IT HAPPENS. It was the club’s first in-person meeting outside of a Loscon since the pandemic. See photos at “We’re Back Baby! LASFS 1st Meeting in Years” on the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Website.

(8) OCTOTHORPE. Episode 104 of the Octothorpe podcast is “Groundbreaking and Great”. And humble!

Octothorpe 104 is here! We know you’ve eagerly been awaiting our takes on the Hugo Awards, so here they all are, as we discuss our favourite SF of 2023!

Hang on, what do you mean? Something else happened with the Hugo Awards and you thought we were talking about that? Well, er…maybe next time!

John is in the bottom-left, sitting in a chair, wearing a blue shirt and purple trousers, holding a can, and reading an ebook. Alison is in the upper-middle, lying down upside down, wearing a purple shirt and stripy trousers, and reading an ebook. Liz is in the bottom-right, wearing a pink shirt with green trousers, holding a mug of a hot beverage, and reading a physical book. They are surrounded by floating beer bottles, books, the Moon, a mug with a moose on it, and two cats. The word “Octothorpe” appears in scattered letters around the artwork, against a pinky-purple background.

(9) FREE READ. Worlds of If #177 is available as a free download for a limited time at the Worlds of If Magazine website. And the print version and t-shirts are also available for order there.

(10) JAIME LEE MOYER HAS DIED. Author and poet Jaime Lee Moyer was found dead today after friends requested a wellness check. C.C. Finlay announced on Facebook:

Dear friends of Jaime Lee Moyer, we have some very sad news. No one had heard from Jaime in more than ten days, which was concerning because her latest book was scheduled for release this week.

This morning we contacted her rental company and the East Lansing Police Department and asked them to perform a wellness check. They found Jaime deceased in her bedroom, apparently from natural causes. They’ve contacted her family to make formal arrangements. We only just received the news, and we don’t know any other information at this time.

Jaime has friends in the writing community all over the world. We thought this would be the best way to reach you. If you are a friend of hers, a client, or are waiting to hear an answer from her on anything else, we wanted you to know as soon as possible.

With love and grief,

Charlie and Rae

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born February 29, 1952 Tim Powers, 72. Now Tim Powers is a writer that I really admire. He’s decently prolific as he has twenty novels published. Now remember this essay is about what I like, so I may or may not mention what something that you, so please do t be too miffed by that. 

Where to start?  That’s easy as it has to be The Anubis Gates. Victorian London and Egypt. Ancient Egypt. Time travel. Anubis. Oh ymmm. It’s on my list of To Be Listened To list as I’ve already read it several times and the sample at Audible indicates Bronson Pinchot does a great job of narrating this. 

Tim Powers

Just as good in a very different manner is On Stranger Tides takes place during the so-called Golden Age of Piracy which was nothing of the kind, when an individual on his way from Britain to Haiti has a series of increasingly wild adventures. I know the novel was purchased to be part on the Pirates of Caribbean franchise. I’ve not seen the film, so I don’t know how much, if anything of his novel made it into the film, but I’m betting nothing except the name did.

Declare, a secret history of the Cold War, is extraordinary. I mean it really. When I was still actually reading novels as opposed to listening to them, as I’m doing now, I didn’t spend six to eight hours a day on one but I remember I did on Declare just to see where the story went. Stellar.

The Vickery and Castine series is just fun, and I mean that as a compliment. Set in contemporary LA, rogue federal agents Sebastian Vickery and Ingrid Castine can see ghosts and other things that are the secret reality of that city. It’s an ongoing series with four novels so far. Highly recommended. 

Then there’s Three Days to Never which I’m not convinced actually makes sense but is really fun to read with its wild mix of supernatural history of what actually happened, time travel and foreign agents. 

Ok, those are my picks as the Powers novels that I really like. So what’s your choices? 

(12) COMICS SECTION.

(13) TWO COMPANIONS CUT A RUG. Radio Times makes sure we don’t miss out when “Karen Gillan and Jenna Coleman share cute Doctor Who reunion”.

Amy Pond and Clara Oswald may have never met on-screen, but the former Doctor Who companions certainly look like they get along behind the camera.

Karen Gillan (Amy) and Jenna Coleman (Clara) were spotted together at an event in London last night, with former Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat also in attendance.

Gillan took to the opportunity to share a video of the trio on the dance floor on TikTok alongside the caption: “We might have had a few red wines… but look WHO it is!”…

@karengillan

We might have had a few red wines…but look WHO it is! #doctorwho

? original sound – Karen Gillan

(14) AGBABI Q&A. HAL interviews 2021 Clarke Award nominee Patience Agbabi, author of The Past Master, at Carbon-Based Bipeds.

HAL: Hello Patience, and congratulations to you on finishing your tetralogy. I’m curious, did you always know this would be a four-book cycle or did the project grow more organically?

PATIENCE: …In reality, a series made sense for lots of other reasons since I had too many ideas to fit into a single book: I wanted to explore the past as well as the future; to take different angles on ecological issues, becoming more covert as the series progressed; and also, I wanted to develop my hero, Elle, from a 3-leap girl to a 4-leap young woman. Elle is black, of Nigerian origin and autistic. It was a positive challenge to show the reader how she overcomes numerous obstacles to reach maturity. I originally submitted the manuscript as young YA but Canongate wanted to market it as middle-grade since my hero was 12 and children like to read up. But since my hero gets one year older with each instalment, I knew I’d be segueing into YA territory anyway, which demands a greater level of introspection.

(15) STRINGS ATTACHED. SOMETIMES. “Muppets, marionettes and magic: My life with puppets” – hear an interview with Basil Twist, who created puppets for the My Neighbour Totoro production by the Royal Shakespeare Company  at BBC Sounds.

Basil Twist’s fascination for puppets started as a child watching productions his mum put on as an amateur puppeteer. Basil built his own puppet characters of Star Wars as a kid and loved it, but became a ‘closeted puppeteer’ in his teens. It wasn’t cool anymore, and playing with dolls was seen as feminine. Basil pursued an education at college, but became unhappy and dropped out. Later moving to New York, Basil could finally embrace his puppetry passions. He scoured phone books and bashed phones to track down people involved in puppetry. His diligence took him around the world, winning awards and captivating crowds along the way. During the pandemic Basil found his biggest challenge to date – bringing the much-loved animated Japanese character Totoro to life for a live action stage show…. 

(16) OUTSIDE THE BOX. The Onion reports “Litter-Robot Recalls Thousands Of Self-Cleaning Litter Boxes That Accidentally Transported Cats To Year 1300”. (Could they be using the same version of the software as my comments section, which unaccountably tells people they’re in random years?)

(17) TODAY’S THING TO WORRY ABOUT. Jessica Grose wonders “Could Swifties or Trekkies Decide the Election?” in a New York Times opinion piece. (Well, maybe I exaggerate. I don’t think it really worries her.)

…Social media is where many young voters live — about a third of adults under 30 regularly get news from TikTok, according to Pew Research. And turning out young voters who are otherwise not particularly politically engaged will be key to winning elections up and down the ballot in November. The left-leaning Working Families Party isn’t exactly a threat to take the White House in 2024, but it is on to a new way of reaching Gen Z voters at a time when the old ways are increasingly useless.

As Marcela Valdes explained this week for The New York Times Magazine, young voters tend to have low turnout rates. “No one is more ambivalent about participating in elections than young people,” she wrote. (It’s worth noting, though, that turnout among Americans ages 18 to 29 was historically high in 2018, 2020 and 2022, according to C.I.R.C.L.E., the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement at Tufts University.)…

(18) TOMORROW’S THING TO WORRY ABOUT! Kathryn Schulz doubts we’re prepared for “What a Major Solar Storm Could Do to Our Planet” as she tells readers of The New Yorker.

…But “space-weather forecaster” is an optimistic misnomer; for the most part, he and his colleagues can’t predict what will happen in outer space. All they can do is try to figure out what’s happening there right now, preferably fast enough to limit the impact on our planet. Even that is difficult, because space weather is both an extremely challenging field—it is essentially applied astrophysics—and a relatively new one. As such, it is full of many lingering scientific questions and one looming practical question: What will happen here on Earth when the next huge space storm hits?

The first such storm to cause us trouble took place in 1859. In late August, the aurora borealis, which is normally visible only in polar latitudes, made a series of unusual appearances: in Havana, Panama, Rome, New York City. Then, in early September, the aurora returned with such brilliance that gold miners in the Rocky Mountains woke up at night and began making breakfast, and disoriented birds greeted the nonexistent morning.

This lovely if perplexing phenomenon had an unwelcome corollary: around the globe, telegraph systems went haywire. Many stopped working entirely, while others sent and received “fantastical and unreadable messages,” as the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin put it. At some telegraph stations, operators found that they could disconnect their batteries and send messages via the ambient current, as if the Earth itself had become an instant-messaging system.

Owing to a lucky coincidence, all these anomalies were soon linked to their likely cause. At around noon on September 1st, the British astronomer Richard Carrington was outside sketching a group of sunspots when he saw a burst of light on the surface of the sun: the first known observation of a solar flare. When accounts of the low-latitude auroras started rolling in, along with reports that magnetometers—devices that measure fluctuations in the Earth’s magnetic field—had surged so high they maxed out their recording capabilities, scientists began to suspect that the strange things happening on Earth were related to the strange thing Carrington had seen on the sun….

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, Daniel Dern, Kathy Sullivan, Lise Andreasen, JeffWarner, Anne Marble, Jean-Paul Garnier, Jeffrey Smith, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Steven French, Mike Kennedy, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day JeffWarner.]

Pixel Scroll 1/12/24 You’re Scrolling Into Another Dimension, The Signpost Up Ahead, The Pixel Scroll

(1) STOKERCON 2024 ADDS GOHS. The Horror Writers Association has announced two new Guests of Honor for StokerCon, Justina Ireland and Nisi Shawl. They join Paula Guran, Jonathan Maberry and Paul Tremblay, with a sixth guest soon to join them.

(2) SCHOLARSHIP FROM HELL. Applications are open for the Horror Writers Association’s annual Scholarship From Hell through March 1. Full details at the link.

This scholarship puts the recipient right into the intensive, hands-on workshop environment of Horror University.  Horror University takes place during HWA’s annual StokerCon. The winner of the Scholarship From Hell will receive domestic coach airfare (contiguous 48 states) to and from the StokerCon venue, $50 for luggage reimbursement, a 4 night stay at the convention,  free registration to StokerCon, and as many workshops as you’d like to attend!

(3) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites listeners to join Izzy Wasserstein for Kansas City BBQ in episode 216 of his Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Izzy Wasserstein

The guest you and I will be breaking bread with this time around is Izzy Wasserstein, who’s published fiction in AnalogApexLightspeedFantasyFireside, and many other magazines, plus such anthologies as A Punk Rock FutureResist FascismFuture Fighting for the Future: Cyberpunk and Solarpunk TalesGlitter + Ashes: Queer Tales of a World That Wouldn’t Die, and more.

Many of those stories have been collected in her marvelous short story collection All the Hometowns You Can’t Stay Away From, which was a Lambda Literary Award finalist. Her poetry collections include When Creation Falls and This Ecstasy They Call Damnation. Her forthcoming debut novella These Fragile Graces, This Fugitive Heart will be released by Tachyon in March, and you should preorder it right now.

We discussed the way Sarah Pinsker sparked her lightbulb moment, why it’s important for her to learn your chosen D&D character, which Star Trek: The Next Generation characters caused her to take her first stab at writing, the change she’d make in her life if she were independently wealthy, why we both miss those paper rejection slips from publishing’s pre-electronic days, the disconnect between the way we feel about certain stories of ours and how readers respond, the most important gift she was given by the Clarion writing workshop, our perverse love for second-person present-tense stories, how surprised she was when she sold a story to Analog, and much more.

(4) TBRCON PANEL. Gareth L. Powell alerted fans to an upcoming event. It’s free to watch.

As part of TBRCon, I will be participating in an online panel discussion with Ai Jiang, Max Gladstone, Sadir S, Samir, Nicholas W. Fuller, and Jendia Gammon.

The panel will stream LIVE on: the FanFiAddict YouTube channel, the TBRCon Twitter feed, the SFF Addicts Twitter feed, and the FanFiAddict Facebook page.

It takes place on Jan 25 at 11.00am CST / 12.00pm EST / 17.00pm GMT and is absolutely FREE to watch.

Additional information can be found here:
https://fanfiaddict.com/tbrcon2024/

(5) FANAC FANHISTORY ZOOM SERIES. Fanac.org kicks off a new year in its zoom programming next week when they interview Joe Green, fan, sff writer, and NASA spokesman.

Next Zoom Session: An Interview with Joe Green

Please Note: NEW TIME to better accommodate our attendees requests from around the world. Graphic poster attached.

January 20, 2024 – 3PM EST, Noon PST, 8PM London GMT and 7AM Jan 21 in Melbourne

Joe Green has traced an amazing arc through fandom, prodom and the space program. Joe was a fan in the 50s, is a professional science fiction writer with his first stories having appeared in the early 60s, and later became a NASA spokesman, specializing in educating the public about the space program. Host of many a legendary launch party, Joe has lived the dream of many a young science fiction fan.

Send a note to [email protected] with “Zoom” in the title to subscribe.

View past sessions on the FANAC Fan History YouTube channel.

(6) THE GREAT TIME WAR. “Doctor Who Season 15 Trailer Brings Back a Classic Companion for a New Time War Scene”Den of Geek tells what to look for.

 [The] announcement trailer for Doctor Who: The Collection – Season 15 …features a whole new scene starring former companion Leela. In the short “Leela vs. the Time War,” Leela, played again by Louise Jameson witnesses the final moments of the Great Time War on Gallifrey. As she watches the Daleks decimate the remains of the Time Lord capitol, a soldier arrives with a gift from the Doctor, forcing her to make a decision. Check out the full scene here:

(7) STAN MATTSON (1937-2024). J. Stanley Mattson, who founded the C.S. Lewis Foundation in 1986, died January 9. He is survived by his wife Jean.

A past member of the faculty of Gordon College and of the faculty and administration of the University of Redlands, Dr. Mattson also served as Headmaster of The Master’s School of West Simsbury, CT.

One of the C.S. Lewis’ Foundation’s first projects was the restoration of Lewis’ house, The Kilns, in Headington Quarry, Oxfordshire, England. It’s now a study center for visiting academics.

(8) DAVID J. SKAL (1952-2024). A Clarion graduate and sf novelist whose greatest fame came from his film scholarship, David J. Skal died January 1 in an auto accident in Los Angeles. According to his nephew, he was struck by a drunk driver. Steve Vertlieb calls Skal “brilliant beyond mere words, and an historian of immeasurable scope and substance. He towered above most film scholars, and was an inspiration to all those who write about motion picture history.”

Skal’s science fiction novels were Scavengers (1980), When We Were Good (1981) and Antibodies (1987). He wrote numerous nonfiction works about Dracula, vampires, and monsters: Hollywood Gothic: The Tangled Web Of Dracula From Novel To Stage To Screen (1990); The Monster Show: A Cultural History Of Horror (1993); V Is For Vampire (1995); Dark Carnival: The Secret World Of Tod Browning (1995,with Elias Savada); the Norton Critical Edition of Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1996, co-edited with Nina Auerbach); Screams Of Reason: Mad Science And Modern Culture(1997); and the monumental anthology Vampires: Encounters With The Undead (2001).

As a documentary filmmaker he wrote and co-produced segments for the A&E’s series Biography, and contributed scripts chronicling the lives and careers of Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff, Lon Chaney, Jr. and Angela Lansbury (with whom he had worked during his theatre career).

In 1999, he wrote, co-produced and co-directed a behind-the-scenes chronicle of the Academy Award-winning film Gods and Monsters. The same year, he contributed to a Universal Studios Home Video series of twelve original DVD documentaries exploring the legacies of the studio’s classic horror and science fiction films. His DVD work has continued with Disney Home Video’s Jules Verne and Walt Disney: Explorers of the Imagination (2003) and the feature commentary for Warner Home Video’s special-edition release of Tod Browning’s Freaks (2004).

Other projects include Claude Rains: An Actor’s Voice, Romancing The Vampire, and Citizen Clone: The Morphing Of America.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born January 12, 1980 Kameron Hurley, 43. So I’ve been listening to Kameron Hurley’s space opera The Stars are Legion as I write this Birthday essay. A most excellent story indeed. It was nominated first a Campbell Memorial Award.  

Her time travel novel which I listened to recently, The Light Brigade, is one the best works in that sub-genre I’ve encountered. It was nominated for a Hugo at CoNZealand. 

Her first novel which I need someday to listen to (if it’s in audiobook format) is the start of her matriarchal Islam culture Bel Dame Apocrypha biopunk trilogy. Her term, not mine. 

The Worldbreaker trilogywhich begins with The Mirror Empire I find delightful with its merging of hard SF underpinned by magic in a space opera setting. Now that shouldn’t work, should it? Really. But it magnificently does.

And let’s talk about her non-fiction. The Geek Feminist Revolution which garnered a BFA is a collection of previously published blog posts and none news essays written for here. One of the first, “We Have Always Fought’: Challenging the ‘Women, Cattle and Slaves’ Narrative” got a Hugo for Best Related Work at Loncon 3, and she also won a Hugo for Best Fan Writer.

Her exemplary short stories have been collected so far in Meet in The Future and Future Artifacts.  Meet in The Future was nominated for an Otherwise Award. 

Of course everything she’s written is available from the usual suspects. 

Mur Lafferty, Ursula Vernon, and Kameron Hurley at 2017 Hugo Award reception.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Candorville has another detail on the difference between Star Trek and Star Wars.

(11) WOMEN WORKING IN ASTRONOMY. Atlas Obscura tells how researchers are “Uncovering the Forgotten Female Astronomers of Yerkes Observatory”. It all started with a group photo featuring Albert Einstein.

…Nearly a century later, a group of researchers at the University of Chicago evaluating the photograph (below) recognized that distinctive coif first: It was, unmistakably, Albert Einstein, on a whirlwind tour of the United States in the early days of his global fame. Some of those gathered around the physicist were also well-known to the researchers. The distracted-looking man with his tie askew was Edwin B. Frost, the then-director of the observatory. The white-haired man with the walrus mustache was Edward E. Barnard, an astronomer known for his photographs of the Milky Way. “And then someone in the room asked a deceptively simple question,” recalls Andrea Twiss-Brooks of the University of Chicago Library. “Who are all the women in the photograph?”

Of the 19 people documented alongside Einstein that day eight were women. They stand shoulder to shoulder with the men in this hallowed space of scientific exploration, an unusual sight in the 1920s. Even more surprisingly, while their presence at the observatory has been forgotten in the intervening decades, they were not overlooked in 1921. In the margin of another copy of the photograph in the University of Chicago archives, someone identified each person by last name. “Once we had names,” says Twiss-Brooks, “being a librarian, I knew what to do.”

Over the last three years, Twiss-Brooks and her team—including historian Kristine Palmieri and a group of undergraduate students—have rediscovered the lives of many of these women and the story of this unique place in Williams Bay, Wisconsin. In the first half of the 20th century, when men dominated the world of scientific research, Yerkes Observatory employed more than 100 women, some as secretaries; some as “computers,” solving mathematical equations; and many as astronomers. At Yerkes, women scientists could reach for the stars.

(12) WITCHER ADDS FISHBURNE. The Hollywood Reporter tells readers, “Netflix’s ‘The Witcher’ Season 4 Casts Laurence Fishburne as Regis”.

Netflix‘s The Witcher has cast acclaimed actor Laurence Fishburne in a major role.

Fishburne (the Matrix and John Wick franchises) has joined season four as Regis, a fan-favorite character from The Witcher books and games.

The character is in saga creator Andrzej Sapkowski’s novel Baptism of Fire as “a world-wise Barber-surgeon with a mysterious past” who will join Geralt (now played by Liam Hemsworth, taking over for Henry Cavill) on his adventures….

(13) HOT ON THE TRAIL. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Scientists have spotted a “hot Jupiter” exoplanet with a tail longer than the distance from the Earth to the Moon.

WASP 69-b is in a close orbit that takes it around its home star in under 4 days. The heat from the primary is driving helium off in concentrations sufficient to be detected from our vantage point about 160 light years away. The helium forms a tail lagging behind the planet as it orbits. “Scientists find planet with a tail 150 times longer than the Mississippi” at Mashable.

There are some strange planets out in deep space.

Now, scientists have found a planet with a tail at least 350,000 miles (563,270 kilometers) long. That’s longer than the distance between Earth and the moon, and about 150 times longer than the Mississippi River. Helium gas is escaping from the Jupiter-sized planet WASP-69b, located 160 light-years away from Earth. With observations from the giant W. M. Keck Observatory atop Hawaii, researchers detected this planetary leak has created an expansive tail.

“Previous observations suggested that WASP-69b had a modest tail, or no tail at all,” Dakotah Tyler, an astrophysics doctoral candidate at UCLA and first author of the research, said in a statement. “However, we have been able to definitively show that this planet’s helium tail extends at least seven times the radius of the giant planet itself.”…

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

Pixel Scroll 6/18/23 I Think There Is A World Market For About Five Pixel Scrolls

(1) STOKERCON 2024. Next year the Horror Writers Association will hold StokerCon in San Diego, CA from May 30-June 2. Here’s the Eventbrite listing: StokerCon 2024 Tickets.

(2) 3-BODY TRAILER FROM G-O-T CREATORS. “3 Body Problem: Netflix Show From Game of Thrones Creators Has Trailer” reports Variety.

At long last, Netflix has revealed the first footage of its highly anticipated sci-fi epic from “Game of Thrones” creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss — their first large-scale project at the streamer since signing a mega overall deal in 2019 — and Alexander Woo.

Based on the book series by Cixin Liu, the eight-episode drama, which recently wrapped production, will launch in January 2024.

Per Netflix’s logline for the sci-fi series, “A young woman’s fateful decision in 1960s China reverberates across space and time to a group of brilliant scientists in the present day. As the laws of nature unravel before their eyes, five former colleagues reunite to confront the greatest threat in humanity’s history.”…

(3) BAD B.O. “Pixar’s ‘Elemental’ Falls Flat, Adding to Worries About the Brand” opines the New York Times.

Pixar is damaged as a big-screen brand.

That was one of the rather glum takeaways from the weekend box office, which found “Elemental,” a $200 million-plus Pixar original, arriving to a disastrous $29.5 million in domestic ticket sales. “The Flash,” a Warner Bros. superhero spectacle that cost about $200 million, also struggled, taking in a lethargic $55.1 million, according to Comscore, which compiles ticketing data.

“Hard to sugarcoat this,” said David A. Gross, a film consultant who publishes a newsletter on box office numbers.

Questions about Pixar’s health have swirled in Hollywood and among investors since last June, when the Disney-owned studio released “Lightyear” to disastrous results. How could Pixar, the gold standard of animation studios for nearly three decades, have gotten a movie so wrong — especially one about Buzz Lightyear, a bedrock “Toy Story” character?

Maybe pandemic-worried families were not quite ready to return to theaters. Or maybe, as some box office analysts speculated, Disney had weakened the Pixar brand by using its films to build the Disney+ streaming service. Starting in late 2020, Disney debuted three Pixar films in a row (“Soul,” “Turning Red” and “Luca”) online, bypassing theaters altogether.

By streaming standards, those three movies were runaway hits. But Pixar’s most recent box office success was in 2019, when “Toy Story 4” took in $1.1 billion worldwide…

(4) MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE PIECE THEATRE. Cora Buhlert has posted a new Masters of the Universe toy photo story — or rather two short ones in time for the US Father’s Day: “Two Links and a Masters-of-the-Universe-Piece Theatre Double Feature: ‘New Dad’ and ‘Orko Interruptus’”.

…This version of King Randor is based on the 2002 cartoon, where Randor was protrayed as a somewhat younger and more active character than his Filmation counterpart. While the Filmation Randor mostly set around on his throne and occasionally gave a speech, the 2002 Randor charged into battle alongside his warriors on occasion and also seemed to do more actual governing. The 2002 cartoon also established that Randor was captain of the guard, i.e. Teela’s current, before he became king. All in all, I’d say that the 2002 cartoon features the best overall King Randor – and Randor is a difficult character, because his raison d’etre is to be the parent who does not understand or even see their child – though the Netflix CGI features the best version of Randor as a father. In case you’re wondering which version of King Randor is the worst, that would be the King Randor of Masters of the Universe Revelation, who narrowly missed winning the 2021 Darth Vader Parenthood Award

(5) AGENT OF CHAOS. But trolls have made Father’s Day rough for Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki as he told Twitter readers:

Hows my Father’s day going? Saw @virtuallyleslie wrote a racist manifesto where she said I only get attention cuz of political correctness. Her supremacist cult friends are on it, including the one impersonating my dead father who was gruesomely murdered, to defame & harass me

Patrick S. Tomlinson also has commented on what Leslie Varney wrote, and the significance of it coming from an agent. Thread starts here.

Leslie Varney wrote a reply thread that starts here.

(6) ONCE UPON A BIRTHDAY. Brian Murphy profiles Lin Carter for what would have been his 93rd birthday: “Lin Carter: Enthusiast of the Fantastic” at Goodman Games.

…. I love Carter’s illuminating and occasionally gushing introductions to the volumes he edited. Introducing readers to William Morris in the BAFS, Carter makes a compelling case that his The Wood Beyond the World (1895) was the first-ever novel of heroic fantasy ever written in a true secondary world, quipping that “it was the first of all such tales of adventurous wanderings through the marvelous landscapes of worlds which have somehow managed to avoid the wear and tear of ever having actually existed.”…

(7) FREE READ. Issue 7 of Whetstone Amateur Magazine of Sword and Sorcery has just come out and is available as a free download: Whetstone: Amateur Magazine of Pulp Sword and Sorcery: Issue 7.

(8) MEMORY LANE.

1999[Written by Cat Eldridge from a choice by Mike Glyer.]

Vernor Vinge’s A Deepness in The Sky is our Beginning this Scroll.  It won a much deserved Hugo at Chicon 2000 along with a John W. Campbell Memorial Award and a Prometheus Award for Best Libertarian SF Novel. It was also nominated for a HOMer and a Nebula as well. Damn impressive I’d say.

The novel is a loose prequel and is set twenty thousand years earlier to his A Fire Upon the Deep which was published previously. 

So let’s get to the Beginning…

The manhunt extended across more than one hundred light-years and eight centuries. It had always been a secret search, unacknowledged even among some of the participants. In the early years, it had simply been encrypted queries hidden in radio broadcasts. Decades and centuries passed. There were clues, interviews with The Man’s fellow-travelers, pointers in a half-dozen contradictory directions: The Man was alone now and heading still farther away; The Man had died before the search ever began; The Man had a war fleet and was coming back upon them. 

With time, there was some consistency to the most credible stories. The evidence was solid enough that certain ships changed schedules and burned decades of time to look for more clues. Fortunes were lost because of the detours and delays, but the losses were to a few of the largest trading Families, and went unacknowledged. They were rich enough, and this search was important enough, that it scarcely mattered. For the search had narrowed: The Man was traveling alone, a vague blur of multiple identities, a chain of one-shot jobs on minor trading vessels, but always moving back and back into this end of Human Space. The hunt narrowed from a hundred light-years, to fifty, to twenty—and a half-dozen star systems. 

And finally, the manhunt came down to a single world at the coreward end of Human Space. Now Sammy could justify a fleet specially for the end of the hunt. The crew and even most of the owners would not know the mission’s true purpose, but he had a good chance of finally ending the search.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born June 18, 1917 Richard Boone. He did only two genre roles of which one, playing Maston Thrust Jr. in The Last Dinosaur, I’m willing to bet almost all of you have never seen it. (It gets a fifty percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes.) The other however is one that nearly everyone here has heard, yes heard, as he voiced Smaug in the Rankin/Bass animated version of The Hobbit. Of course his major non-genre role was as Paladin in Have Gun, Will Travel which I’ve seen every episode of at least three times. Really I have. (Died 1981.)
  • Born June 18, 1931 Dick Spelman. A fan and a legendary book dealer who was active at SF conventions from the late Seventies through the early Nineties. He chaired Windycon IX in 1982. He was a member of the board of directors of Chicon IV, and ran the Dealers’ Room at many Worldcons. In 1991 he sold his book business to Larry Smith and retired to Orlando, where he was active in local fannish affairs. (Died 2012.)
  • Born June 18, 1942 Roger Ebert. He got his start as a fanzine writer while in high school, publishing the Stymie zine and having his writing appear in XeroYandro and many other zines such as KippleParsection and Psi-Phi. At university, he was a member of the Champaign-Urbana Science Fiction Association. His fannish  autobiography is  How Propellor-Heads, BNFs, Sercon Geeks, Newbies, Recovering GAFIAtors and Kids in Basements Invented the World Wide Web, All Except for the Delivery System. Mike has much to say about him in a obituary here. (Died 2013.)
  • Born June 18, 1958 Jody Lee, 65. Illustrator with a long career in genre work. Her first cover art was Jo Clayton’s Changer’s Moon for DAW Books in 1985. Her latest is Passages: All-New Tales of Valdemar, a Mercedes Lackey anthology from DAW Books which seems to be her primary client. Her most stellar website is here.
  • Born June 18, 1960 Barbara Broccoli, 63. Daughter of the late James Bond producer Albert R. “Cubby” Broccoli. She has producer or director credit on at least fourteen Bond films which or may not be genre depending on how you view each one of them. Her only acting role is as an uncredited Opera patron in The Living Daylights. She produced the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang production staged in NYC at the Hilton Theater sixteen years ago. 
  • Born June 18, 1947 Linda Thorson, 76. Best known for playing Tara King, the only actual spy in The Avengers. For her role in that series, she received a special BAFTA at the 2000 BAFTA TV Awards along with the other three actresses from the series, Honor Blackman, Joanna Lumley and Diana Rigg. She’s also been in Return of the SaintTales from the DarksideStar Trek: The Next GenerationKung Fu: The Legend ContinuesF/X: The Series and Monsters
  • Born June 18, 1949 Chris Van Allsburg, 74. For some twenty years now until the Pandemic came upon us, the local Narrow Gauge Railroad ran a Polar Express every Christmas season compete with cars decorated in high Victorian fashion and steaming cups of hot chocolate for the children. It always sold out for the entire month they ran it. Allsburg‘s Polar Express book is just magical for me and I enjoy his Jumanji every bit as much. (I’ve never seen the film.) He illustrated A City in Winter which was written by Mark Helprin and I highly recommended it. 

(10) COMICS SECTION.

(11) ROLLING THE CREDITS. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Descendants of Jack Kirby seem none too happy about the recently-released Disney+ documentary on Stan Lee’s life. Granddaughter Jillian Kirby has published a statement from her father Neal Kirby at the latter’s request. 

Among other things, Neil provides an analogy for Lee having an idea for a character to others bringing the character to life. “In 1501, the Opera del Duomo commissioned a 26-year-old Michelangelo to sculpt a statue of David for the Cathedral of Florence—their idea, their money. The statue is called Michelangelo’s David—his genius, his vision, his creativity.” “Jack Kirby’s Son, Neal Kirby Responds to Stan Lee Disney+ Documentary” at Bleeding Cool.

The following is an excerpt of the statement from Neal Kirby, son of the late Jack Kirby.

…I (000ps!) understand that, as a “documentary about Stan Lee,” most of the narrative is in his voice, literally and figuratively. It’s not any big secret that there has always been controversy over the parts that were played in the creation and success of Marvel’s characters. Stan Lee had the fortunate circumstance to have access to the corporate megaphone and media, and he used these to create his own mythos as to the creation of the Marvel character pantheon. He made himself the voice of Marvel. So, for several decades he was the “only” man standing, and blessed with a long life, the last man standing (my father died in 1994). It should also be noted and is generally accepted that Stan Lee had a limited knowledge of history, mythology, or science.

On the other hand, my father’s knowledge of these subjects, to which I and many others can personally attest, was extensive. Einstein summed it up better; “More the knowledge, lesser the ego. Lesser the knowledge, more the ego.”

If you were to look at a list and timeline of Marvel’s characters from 1960 through 1966, the period in which the vast majority of Marvel’s major characters were created during Lee’s tenure, you will see Lee’s name as a co-creator on every character, with the exception of the Silver Surfer, solely created by my father. Are we to assume Lee had a hand in creating every Marvel character? Are we to assume that the other co-creator never walked into Lee’s office and said, “Stan, I have a great idea for a character!” According to Lee, it was always his idea. Lee spends a fair amount of time talking about how and why he created the Fantastic Four, with only one fleeting reference to my father. Indeed, most comics historians recognize that my father based the Fantastic Four on a 1957 comic he created for DC, “Challengers of the Unknown,” even naming Ben Grimm (The Thing) after his father Benjamin, and Sue Storm after my older sister Susan.

Though the conflict between Lee and my father concerning creator credit gets glanced over with little mention, there is more attention paid to the strife between Lee and Steve Ditko, with Lee’s voice proclaiming, “It was my idea, therefore I created the character,” Ditko’s rebuttal being that his art and storyline is what brought life to Spiderman. In 1501, the Opera del Duomo commissioned a 26-year-old Michelangelo to sculpt a statue of David for the Cathedral of Florence – their idea, their money. The statue is called Michelangelo’s David – his genius, his vision, his creativity.

I was very fortunate. My father worked at home in his Long Island basement studio we referred to as “The Dungeon,” usually 14 – 16 hours a day, seven days a week. Most of the artists, writers, inkers, etc. worked at home, not in the Marvel offices as depicted in the program. Through middle and high school, I was able to stand at my father’s left shoulder, peer through a cloud of cigar smoke, and witness the Marvel Universe being created. I am by no means a comics historian, but there are few, if any, that have personally seen or experienced what I have, and know the truth with first-hand knowledge.

My father retired from comic books in the early 1980s and of course, passed away in 1994. Lee had over 35 years of uncontested publicity, much naturally, with the backing and blessing of Marvel as he boosted the Marvel brand as a side effect of boosting himself. The decades of Lee’s self-promotion culminated with his cameo appearances in over 35 Marvel films starting with “X-Men” in 2000, thus cementing his status as the creator of all things Marvel to an otherwise unknowing movie audience of millions, unfamiliar with the true history of Marvel comics. My father’s first screen credit didn’t appear until the closing crawl at the end of the film adaptation of Iron Man in 2008, after Stan Lee, Don Heck, and Larry Lieber. The battle for creator’s rights has been around since the first inscribed Babylonian tablet. It’s way past time to at least get this one chapter of literary/art history right. ‘Nuff said.

(12) JEOPARDY! [Item by David Goldfarb.] On Thursday’s episode there was a full category of “21st Century horror novels”, which the contestants took in order.

  • Returning champ Holly Hassel
  • Kiran MacCormick
  • Suzanne Goldlust

$200: Christina Henry’s “Looking Glass” is the last book in a chilling trilogy about a woman with this 5-letter name

Returning champ Holly Hassel tried: “What is Megan?”

Her name was Alice. (As in “Through the Looking-Glass”….)

$400: In Grady Hendrix’ “How to Sell” this place, it has a sealed attic & creepy puppet collection & Redfin will be no help

Suzanne Goldlust knew or guessed: “What is a haunted house?”

$600: The Scooby Gang was often accused of being these, the title of a book by Edgar Cantero about 4 teens with a telepathic pooch

Suzanne said, “What are meddling teens?”

Holly tried “What are those meddling kids?” but this was not accepted, as the title of the book was just “Meddling Kids”.

$800: Megan James pays homage to this horror master & his creation Cthulhu with her graphic novel “Innsmouth”

Holly knew this one.

$1000: Clive Barker’s “Scarlet Gospel” revisits the Hellraiser universe where this prickly priest of Hell mans the pulpit

Holly knew this one too: “Who is Pinhead?”

In the Double Jeopardy round, there was one:

TV Criminals, $800: The villainous supe Homelander on this series is the leader of The Seven, a group of some not-so-super heroes

This was triple stumper: nobody was familiar with the comic “The Boys” or its Amazon Prime adaptation. (I quibble with the question here. The Seven are super enough! It’s the “hero” part that should be getting the “not-so-“.)

(13) TURA SATANA. [Item by Steve Green.] Tura Satana, whose movie credits included The Astro-Zombies (1968) and its 2004 ‘reimaging’, is now an action figure, based upon her role in the 1965 cult classic Faster Pussycat… Kill! Kill!

Ms Satana, who died in 2011, was smart enough to trademark her own likeness, and this is apparently the first officially-licensed figure. It’s a collaboration between White Elephant Toyz and the publisher PlaidStallions (as Odeon Toys). “Tura Satana Action Figure Pre-Orders now open!”.

… This limited edition action figure is 8″ tall and features a detailed outfit, natural hair, motorcycle gloves, and boots. Tura is ready to kick your other action figures’ asses.

Each Tura Satana Action figure comes in vintage style packaging with striking artwork by Joseph Michael Linsner, creator of “Dawn.”…

(14) FIRST AMERICAN WOMAN IN SPACE. The National Air and Space Museum remembers “Sally Ride”.

40 years ago today, Dr. Sally K. Ride became the first American woman in space, launching aboard Space Shuttle Challenger on the STS-7 mission.

Dr. Sally Kristen Ride was a physicist, astronaut, educator, and advocate for young people in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Best remembered as the first American woman in space, Ride’s tenure as an astronaut was but one chapter in a long and impactful career.

Ride was accepted to the astronaut corps in 1978 as a member of Astronaut Group 8—NASA’s first astronaut class to include women. On June 18, 1983, when Dr. Sally K. Ride became the first American woman in space, she challenged long-held stereotypes about who would make a good astronaut. Ride spent more than two weeks in space over the course of two missions, STS-7 and STS-41G. Ride operated one of the Space Shuttle’s most important tools—the robotic arm—and loved taking photos of Earth from space.

When Ride retired from NASA in 1987, she dedicated herself to educating and inspiring learners. For more than 18 years she taught physics at the University of California San Diego. In 2001, Ride founded Imaginary Lines (now Sally Ride Science) with her partner, Dr. Tam O’Shaughnessy, to inspire girls and young women to explore science careers.

(15) ANKYLOBITERS. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] A new dinosaur has been found on the Isle of Wight so the BBC reports.

Don’t worry, it’s dead! So we are all safe. (Phew.) If you do go to the Isle of Wight to hunt for dinosaurs (they really all are dead) then I recommend a beer and food at the Crab and Lobster Inn. The view from outside to the left is mainland Brit Cit while straight ahead and left is the English Channel with a view of The Nab tower a few miles offshore and transatlantic liners going around the point.

But if you can’t be bothered then there is the primary research paper.

…It is the first new species of armoured dinosaur to be found on the island since 1865 and belongs to the same family – the ankylosaurs.

Though fearsome in appearance with its blade-like armour, the giant reptile – which has been named Vectipelta barretti – only ate plants.

It was discovered in rocks dating back between 66 and 145 million years….

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Here’s the teaser trailer for One Piece.

Here’s a first look at the live action adaptation of the most popular manga in history, written by Eiichiro Oda. ONE PIECE sets sail on August 31st only on Netflix.

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, Cora Buhlert, David Goldfarb, Steve Green, Rich Lynch, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]

Pixel Scroll 5/26/23 Pixels Get Ready, There’s A Scroll A-Coming

(1) BRADBURY MUSEUM CLOSING. The Ray Bradbury Experience Museum in his hometown of Waukegan, IL is shutting down this month they announced today on Facebook.

In 2017 a group of dedicated volunteers came together to honor Ray Bradbury in his hometown Waukegan, Illinois, with an interactive museum. As the Ray Bradbury Experience Museum Committee, we operated the museum out of a space in downtown Waukegan, donated by the Greater Waukegan Development Coalition.

Now, after much consideration, the RBEM Committee has decided to officially close in May 2023. This decision followed challenging realities. COVID was a daunting obstacle. Many donors shifted their attention to other, more pressing social needs. In addition, it was immensely difficult to secure a much-needed permanent location in downtown Waukegan.

Over the years, we worked with museum designers to develop plans for the future museum. At the same time, the RBEM Committee and volunteers welcomed visitors to events, readings, performances, and exhibits in Waukegan and at national and regional conventions. We presented Ray Bradbury programs, online and in-person, for local and regional schools and libraries. A highlight event was the August 22, 2020, celebration of the Centennial of Ray Bradbury’s birth in Waukegan.

April 2023 marked our final program. Partnering with the Waukegan Public Library and the Waukegan Historical Society and funded by an Illinois Humanities grant, we presented Explore Ray Bradbury, a weekend of multi-media and hands-on engagement with Bradbury’s classic books and themes. Excited visitors of all ages heard Bradbury stories, created Bradbury-themed crafts, invented banned book slogans and pins, and experienced a virtual reality journey to the International Space Station….

(2) FLORIDA FUR. CBR.com reports how “Furry Convention Disrupted by Florida Governor’s New Law”.

Megaplex, a furry convention based in Orlando, has been forced to change its policy on the minimum age of attendees due to new Florida legislation.

Ron DeSantis, governor of Florida and Republican presidential nominee, recently passed SB 1438, or the Protection of Children Act. This bill prohibits the admission of children to any “adult live performance,” defined as “a presentation that depicts or simulates nudity, sexual conduct, or specific sexual activities.” Allowing underage individuals to an event in Florida falling under that definition is punishable by a year of prison and/or a $1,000 fine. As reported by Rolling Stone, furries are not a specific target of SB 1438, but the subculture, which involves art and costumes of anthropomorphized animals, is often stereotyped as being highly sexualized.

… A statement on Megaplex’s website reads, “Many have raised concerns about recent changes in Florida legislation. After reviewing Florida SB 1438 it has been decided that for legal reasons and protection of our attendees, our venue, and the overall convention, Megaplex 2023 attendees must be 18 years of age at the time of registration pickup. Megaplex has welcomed younger fandom members and their families since its inception and making this change was very difficult… It is our hope that this change is temporary and that we can welcome members of all ages back next year. With this in mind, the public decorum portion of the Code of Conduct as well as standards for programming, attire, and behavior in convention space will not be changing and will continue to be enforced as has been in the past.”…

The Rolling Stone article has more analysis: “Furries Now Have Serious Beef With Ron DeSantis”.

…So what does a law about exposing kids to sexually charged content have to do with people dressing as cartoon bunnies and foxes? While SB 1438 does not specifically target minors dressing as furries, it prohibits children from attending adult performances, which it defines as “a presentation that depicts or simulates nudity, sexual conduct, or specific sexual activities.” And, like drag, there are pervasive misconceptions that this mode of expression is inherently sexual. 

While it is true that there is a segment of furrydom that does treat it as a kink, it is not a representation of the wider community, and many furries do not view their interest in anthropomorphized creatures as sexual at all. Though many conventions do cater to the NSFW aspects of the furry fandom, they typically save such programming for later at night to ensure the rest of the con is family-friendly, or cordon off adult vendors so they are not in full view of other attendees.

The fact that the furry organizers felt pressured to bar children from the convention is yet another example of how it’s been seen as an attack on LGBTQ rights. (The ACLU referred to it as “a blatant attempt to erase drag performers and silence the LGBTQ+ community.”) The furry fandom overwhelmingly skews LGBTQ, with nearly 80 percent of furries self-identifying as such, according to surveys of the fandom. “Furry has become synonymous with LGBTQ, since there is such a large intersection of communities,” says Joelle, one of the founders of Moms of Furries, an organization supporting kid furries and their parents. (Joelle and her cofounder, Carrie, requested their last names be withheld for safety reasons; they both have children in the fandom who are also queer.) “Furries feel connected to what they see as persecution of the queer community.”

Additionally, many furries identify as transgender, and “would not feel safe” at a convention in Florida, which recently passed a law making it a misdemeanor trespassing offense for someone to use a bathroom that does not align with their birth sex, says Carrie. “Right now anything that isn’t very straight-laced, in Florida, is starting to be called out as deviant,” she says. “Obviously furries are an easy mark for that.”…

… Megaplex will take place September 15-17 in Orlando, FL.

(3) IAFA ASKS IF THEY SHOULD STAY IN ORLANDO. For similar reasons, The International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts (IAFA) has launched a survey about whether it should remain in Florida, relocate to another state, or adapt to a virtual or hybrid format.

We have received many concerns regarding the safety of our multiply-marginalized members, the ethical issues of spending organizational and personal funds in Florida, and many other concerns. We fully acknowledge and share your dismay over these developments, as they are antithetical to our organization’s values of inclusivity, equality, and justice. 

While the decision to move the conference is a significant one, we also understand that it may have practical implications and involve a complex process. Therefore, we assure you that we are actively exploring alternative options and potential venues. We are engaging with our partners and considering various locations that align with our values and prioritize the well-being of our members. 

Moreover, we recognize that this situation extends beyond a single event or location. We are committed to using our platform and influence to raise awareness, challenge discriminatory practices, and support organizations and activists who are fighting against systemic inequalities. We will actively seek opportunities to collaborate with local advocates, amplify their voices, and contribute to the ongoing efforts to create a more just and inclusive society. 

We want to emphasize that your feedback and perspectives are invaluable to us. We encourage you to continue sharing your concerns, suggestions, and insights with us by clicking the ICFA45 Survey below. Together, we can navigate these challenging times and work towards a more equitable future.

(4) SCHOLARSHIP FROM HELL. The Horror Writers Association Scholarship from Hell recipients are Alex Luceli Jimenez and Timaeus Bloom.

The Scholarship From Hell puts the recipients into the workshop environment of Horror University, which takes place during HWA’s annual StokerCon®.

The winners receive domestic coach airfare (contiguous 48 states) to and from StokerCon 2023 in Pittsburgh, PA, June 15-18, $50 for luggage reimbursement, a 4 night stay at the convention,  free registration to StokerCon®, and as many Horror University workshops as they’d like to attend.

(5) UTOPIA AWARDS. The public is invited to make nominations for the 2nd annual Utopia Awards hosted by CliFiCon 2023.

The 2nd annual Utopia Awards will highlight and honor authors, artists, and other creators producing works focused on hopeful outlooks, solutions to climate change and related social problems, and building a better future.

Nominations for the 2nd annual Utopia Awards are open to works published in 2022 that exemplify hopeful, utopian fiction (science fiction, fantasy, climate fiction…)

Works nominated for a Utopia Award must have been published during 2022.

Nominations are accepted for works published by traditional or independent publishers, magazines, and anthologies, as well independently published works.

CliFiCon 2023 is a two-day online conference taking place October 7-8. Buy tickets here.

(6) WHERE DID YOUR SF JOURNEY START? [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Don’t know if you’ve seen this over at Media Death Cult ”This is where my Science Fiction journey started”? But Moid Moidelhoff has done a piece on where his SF journey began… 

Now, mine began with H. G. Wells War of the Worlds original film and then novel along with Gerry Anderson’s Supercar then Fireball XL5 etc. Quickly followed by 2001: A Space Odyssey (premiere week in Cinerama format at London Leicester Square) to discover Arthur C. Clarke wrote books too and so it was: Sands of Mars, Childhood’s End, City and the Stars, Tales From The White Hart…  My first con was the 1977 Novacon 7 in Birmingham with John Brunner (whom I had already read) as GoH.  At Novacon 8 I met biologist and SF fan Jack Cohen and I did not know it but that was to become a life-long (his sadly and not mine) fan friendship and biological colleague (he was active in the professional learned body, the Institute of Biology, of whom I was to become a staff member and ultimately Head of Science Policy and Books. Jack was occasionally on one of the committees I serviced.)…

I’m rambling aren’t I? Anyway, Moid’s journey it seems began with the weekly comic 2000AD and its Judge Dredd. I too was (and am) into 2000AD and our college SF group, Hatfield PSIFA, visited the 2000AD office a couple of times and they were also guests of honour at one of our early Shoestringcons (as recorded in the 2000AD  1983 annual – see pic attached). It’s been sad to lose so many of the 2000AD staff including recently Alan Grant (to whom I owe a few pints as he always said I was a poor student (and so to this day I always buy a pint for a student at cons and/or an unemployed fan depending on whom I come across)).

I’m rambling again aren’t I?  Moid recounts his being a fan of 2000AD in this 20 minute vid here.

(7) BOLO FOR A DEATH ON THAT HILL. Collider’s Lloyd Farley declares “’Return of the Jedi’ Is the Best Film in the Original Star Wars Trilogy and I Will Die on That Hill”.

… New, unique creatures enter the Star Wars universe for the first time, including a rancor, the sarlacc, Ewoks, fan favorite Max Rebo, and Jabba the Hutt himself, a large slug-like creature covered in his own excesses, lauded for heading a far-reaching criminal empire. Jabba is nothing like we would have expected him to be, but to me, he’s perfect — a visual representation of the ugliness of his vocation. Jedi also brings back the fun that took a back seat in Empire Strikes Back. Han oozing charm and confidence as he tries in vain to sweet talk Jabba out of killing our group of heroes is a funny return to the charming scoundrel we love. C-3P0’s awkward handling of the revelation that the Ewoks see him as a god is delightfully comic, a pretentious droid having to come to terms with unyielding adoration….

(8) WHEN MONEY FLOWS AWAY FROM THE WRITER. “Termination Fees in Publishing Contracts: Not Just Bad for Authors” explains Victoria Strauss at Writer Beware.

…Why are termination fees a red flag?

Obviously, they are onerous for authors, who might have good reason to want to escape a contract early, and can’t do so without opening up their wallets.

More problematically, publishers can and do employ termination fees abusively. They may hold them over the heads of unhappy writers to shut them up, attempt to use them as an extra income source by offering to jettison dissatisfied authors at the slightest provocation (for example, now-defunct publisher Curiosity Quills offered an annual “escape clause” period where writers could request an invoice), impose them even in situations where, per their own contract language, they shouldn’t apply (as happened to this author as part of a dispute over publisher breach), terminate the contracts of writers who’ve pissed them off and demand the fee even though termination wasn’t the writer’s decision, or, in more than one case I’ve heard about, close the publisher down and refuse to return rights unless the writers paid to get them back….

(9) GARY KENT (1933-2023). [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Gary Kent, a stunt performer, stunt coordinator, and actor in numerous genre films, died May 25 reports Variety. Most were horror with a smaller number of science, fiction & fantasy flicks. Most were also “B movies.” He was most active during the 60s, 70s, and 80s. One of the notable exceptions to that time period was his stint as stunt coordinator for Bubba Ho-Tep in 2002.

…Soon after his stuntman debut in 1965, Kent appeared as a gas tank worker in Peter Bogdanovich’s debut feature film “Targets,” then worked on “Hell’s Bloody Devils,” “The Incredible 2-Headed Transplant” “Angels’ Wild Women” and Richard Rush’s “Psych-Out,” racking up injuries along the way.

While starring in Al Adamson’s soft-core Western “Lash of Lust,” Kent encountered Charles Manson and his followers living at the Spahn movie ranch, and later told Quentin Tarantino about Manson and his mechanic’s work on the film’s dune buggy. Though the Cliff Booth character was also based on other stuntmen, Kent’s story inspired the “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” sequence when Booth encounters the Manson family at Spahn Ranch.

In addition to performing in front of the camera, Kent also worked in production jobs and directed, serving as the assistant director on “Dracula vs. Frankenstein,” the unit production manager on Brian De Palma’s “Phantom of the Paradise,” writer-director for “Rainy Day Friends” and director of “The Pyramid.”…

(10) MEMORY LANE.

2011[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

Lisa Goldstein’s The Uncertain Places gives us the Beginning this Scroll. 

Now she’s one of my favorite writers with this novel plus Dark Cities UndergroundStrange Devices of the Sun and Moon and Walking the Labyrinth all being excellent reads.  I also like her short fiction, some of which has been collected in Daily Voices and Travellers in Magic but none since the latter collection was done thirty years ago.

This novel was published by Tachyon twelve years ago.  The cover art was by Ann Monn. 

It won the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature. 

And here is that Beginning…

IT WAS BEN AVERY who introduced me to Livvy, Livvy and her haunted family. This was in 1971, when Ben and I were sophomores in college. A lifetime ago, another world, but it seems like I can still remember all of it, every motion, every color, every note of music. For one thing, it was the year that I fell in love. But for another, I don’t think that anyone who experienced what I did that year could possibly forget it. 

Ben had gone to Berkeley early in September, before classes started, to find an apartment for us. He’d seen Livvy’s sister Maddie in a play and they’d started dating, and when I got to Berkeley he couldn’t talk about anything else. Now we were going to visit her family up in Napa Valley, in the wine country, for a couple of days. 

Back then Ben drove a humpbacked 1966 Volvo, a car that seemed ancient even though it was only five years old. It smelled of mold and rust and oil, and to this day, whenever I find myself in a car like that, I feel young and ready for anything, any wild scheme that Ben or I would propose. The car went through a constant cycle of electrical problems—either the generator didn’t work, or the regulator, or the battery—and on this trip, as on so many others, the battery warning light flickered on and off, a dull red like the baleful eye of Mordor.

We got on the freeway and headed out of Berkeley, then passed through the neighboring suburbs. As we crossed the Carquinez Bridge Ben started telling me about the last time he’d taken the car in, and the Swedish mechanic who told him the problem was with the “yenerator.” He did a goofy imitation of the mechanic, who I was sure was nothing like Ben portrayed him, but I barely paid attention. I was thinking about my upcoming classes, and about this sister of Maddie’s he wanted me to meet.

“Tell me again why I’m coming with you,” I said, interrupting him in the middle of the story.

You’ll like them,” Ben said. “They’re fun. Come on, Will, have I ever disappointed you?”

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born May 26, 1865 Robert Chambers. His most-remembered work was The King in Yellow short stories. Though he would turn away from these supernatural tellings, Lovecraft included some of them in his Supernatural Horror in Literature critical study. Critics thought his work wasn’t as great as could have been. That said, Stross, Wagner, Carter and even Blish are said to have been influenced by him. (Died 1933.)
  • Born May 26, 1913 Peter Cushing. Best known for his roles in the Hammer Productions horror films of the Fifties to the Seventies, as well as his performance as Grand Moff Tarkin in Star Wars. He also played Holmes many times, and though not considered canon, he was the Doctor in Daleks’ Invasion Earth 2150 A.D. and Dr. Who and the Daleks. He even made appearances in both The Avengers and The New Avengers as well as Space: 1999. There’s a CGI recreation of Grand Moff Tarkin used for his likeness in Rogue One. (Died 1994.)
  • Born May 26, 1923 James Arness. He appeared in three Fifties SF films, Two Lost Worlds, Them! and The Thing from Another World. The latter is based on the 1938 novella Who Goes There? by John W. Campbell (writing under the pseudonym of Don A. Stuart). The novella would be the basis of John Carpenter’s The Thing thirty years later. (Died 2011.)
  • Born May 26, 1923 Roy Dotrice. I’ll always think of him first and foremost as Jacob “Father” Wells on Beauty and the Beast. He was Commissioner Simmonds in two episodes of Space: 1999. He also appeared in recurring role on Hercules: The Legendary Journeys as Zeus. He was on A Game of Thrones in the second season playing “Wisdom Hallyne the Pyromancer” in “The Ghost of Harrenhal” and “Blackwater” episodes. (Died 2017.)
  • Born May 26, 1925 Howard DeVore.He was according to all sources, an expert on pulp magazines who dealt in them and collected them, an APA writer, con-runner and otherwise all-around volunteer in First Fandom. He wrote two fascinating-sounding publications with Don Franson, A History of the Hugo, Nebula, and International Fantasy Awards, Listing Nominees & Winners, 1951-1970 and A History of the Hugo, Nebula, and International Fantasy Awards. (Died 2005.)
  • Born May 26, 1964 Caitlín R. Kiernan, 59. They’re an impressive two-time recipient of both the World Fantasy and Bram Stoker awards. As for novels, I’d single out Low Red MoonBlood Oranges (writing as Kathleen Tierney) and The Drowning Girl: A Memoir as being particularly worth reading. They also fronted a band, Death’s Little Sister, named for Neil Gaiman’s character, Delirium.
  • Born May 26, 1970 Alex Garland, 53. Writer of DreddEx Machina and Annihilation (which I still haven’t seen — opinions please on it — the books for the latter were excellent and usually don’t see films based on fiction I like). Ex Machina was nominated for a Hugo at MidAmeriCon II, Annihilation likewise was at Dublin 2019: An Irish Worldcon. Dredd alas wasn’t nominated. He also wrote 28 Days Later but I’m really not into Pandemic films right now despite the current one ending. 

(12) BOOKSTORE UNIONIZATION UPDATE. Publishers Weekly tells the status of three different bookstore unionization efforts: “Workers at Park Slope B&N File for Union Election; Hadley, Mass. Store Votes for Union”.

Barnes & Noble workers at the Park Slope, Brooklyn, store filed for a union election with the National Labor Relations Board on May 25, seeking representation from the Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union (RWDSU). The news comes a little less than a month after workers at the flagship B&N store in Manhattan’s Union Square launched their own union drive, and on the same day as 15 workers at the B&N outlet in Hadley, Mass., voted unanimously to join the United Food and Commercial Workers, Local 1459. The Union Square B&N election is scheduled for June 7.

(13) ANTHOLOGY WILL BENEFIT PRO-CHOICE ORGANIZATION. [Based on a press release.] Aqueduct Press announced today that it will publish Adventures in Bodily Autonomy: Exploring Reproductive Rights in Science Fiction, Fantasy, & Horror. One hundred percent of royalties will go to NARAL, Pro-Choice America.

Edited by Raven Belasco, author of the Blood & Ancient Scrolls series, the anthology will feature the work of Kathleen Alcalá, Elizabeth Bear, Raven Belasco, Tara Campbell, Anya De Niro, Jaymee Goh, Cynthia Gralla, K Ibura, Ellen Klages, Annalee Newitz, Nisi Shawl, Cecilia Tan, Sonya Taaffe, Helena María Viramontes, and an introduction by international social justice activist Maggie Mayhem.

World Fantasy Award Winner Elizabeth Lynn says this of the anthology, “So satisfying to read a volume of new speculative fiction stories centered on women’s experience, women’s lives, women’s choices! You’ll find a pleasurable variety here: hard sf, fantasy, ghosts, vampires, horror, sweet lyricism, and steel-edged noir—stories from well-known names, and stories from writers you’ve never encountered before. I guarantee that at least one story in this volume will make you punch the air in triumph, and another will work its way into your dreams, and not let go.”

(14) FANS IN THE FIFTIES. [Item by Andrew Porter.] Just an amazing number of photos from the 1950s, all digitized in Dave Rike’s gallery of old black-and-white photos of fans now preserved at the Internet Archive.

(15) RISKY BUSINESS. [Item by Steven French.] Like the author of this piece, I hadn’t really thought of quantum based tech being of interest to the insurance industry but of course, the latter is all about dealing with risk, and the former offers risk a-plenty. These include risks associated with cyber attacks (because according to the no cloning theorem quantum states can’t be replicated), or with the fact that we’re dealing with fundamentally irreducible probabilistic phenomena (at least according to most interpretations of quantum theory) but what was most interesting to me, as a philosopher of physics, was the concern about risks to do with our lack of understanding: “Commercializing quantum technologies: the risks and opportunities” at Physics World.

…Striking a balance between using reinsurance and insuring risk internally is a classic optimization problem that is very important for an insurance company to get right. Getting things wrong, even by a tiny bit, can be very costly. Scharrer explains that optimization is currently done using a heuristic approach that relies on human expertise.

While reinsurance optimization could be done better on a conventional computer, Scharrer says that it would take decades to do the calculations. And that is where a quantum computer could come in handy – because some quantum computers are predicted to be very good at solving certain optimization problems that could be relative to reinsurance. But like a lot of the technology being discussed at the conference, such a quantum computer does not yet exist.

In his talk, Munich Re’s Nawroth talked about how insurers could use quantum computers to do simulations that could help them better understand a wide range of phenomena that affect risk. These include climate change, green technologies, financial markets, pandemics, cyber security and so on….

(16) SPEAK, MEMORY. “Security vendor says fast action is needed now on deepfake voice” reports Biometric Update.

A new research report from security analyst vendor Recorded Future says voice cloning is capable of defeating voice multifactor authentication in the wild. Authors of the report say a cross-industry approach is needed to keep deepfake voice in check.

The report, “I Have No Mouth, and I Must Do Crime,” is a nod to science-fiction author Harlan Ellison’s dark visions, but the findings it contains warrant poetic flourish.

“Voice cloning technology is currently being abused by threat actors in the wild,” the report states. It is “enabling the spread of misinformation and disinformation and increasing the effectiveness of social engineering.” The barrier to entry continues to get lower, with platforms such as ElevenLabs’s popular Prime Voice AI offering low cost, browser-based options for text-to-speech (TTS) conversion.

“Voice cloning samples – such as those of celebrities, politicians, and internet personalities (‘influencers’) – and are intended to create either comedic or malicious content, which is often racist, discriminatory, or violent in nature,” the report says. Threat actors are demonstrating effective voice-based fraud attacks including voice phishing, or vishing….

(17) FLIGHT TEST. BBC News finds Virgin Galactic back on the scene after two years: “Virgin Galactic: Sir Richard Branson’s rocket plane returns to spaceflight”.

Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic rocket plane is back in action after a gap of almost two years.

The Unity vehicle, with two pilots and four passengers aboard, climbed high over the New Mexico desert to the edge of space – before gliding back down.

It was billed as the plane’s final test outing before entering commercial service in June.

Galactic has sold over 800 tickets to individuals who want to ride more than 80km (260,000ft) above Earth.

The company expects to start working through this passenger list with Unity flights initially occurring at the rate of one a month. New rocket planes are being designed for service in 2026 that should each be capable of increasing the cadence to one a week.

Thursday’s mission came just a couple of days after winning bids were announced to buy the assets in Sir Richard’s other space firm, Virgin Orbit, which filed papers with a bankruptcy court in April….

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Actor, author and “Reading Rainbow” founder LeVar Burton joined the L.A. Times Book Club on May 24 to discuss the State of Banned Books with Times editor Steve Padilla.

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

StokerCon 2023 Announces Next Guest of Honor

StokerCon 2023, the Horror Writers Association annual convention, will be held at the Sheraton Pittsburgh Hotel at Station Square, from June 15-18th.

Today they added a third Guest of Honor, author of Succulent PreyThe Resurrectionist, and more, Wrath James White. Find Wrath’s work here and follow him on Twitter.

At StokerCon™ 2022, they announced their first two Guests of Honor Daniel Kraus and Cynthia Pelayo.

Pixel Scroll 5/19/22 That’s Why I Called The Song Alice’s Pixel Scroll

(1) HWA RELEASES SOCIAL MEDIA STATS. The Horror Writers Association shared some numbers about their coverage of social media platforms.

a. Facebook page: 3713 followers 
b. Facebook group: 15.8K members
c. Twitter: 22.3K followers
d. Instagram: 3713 followers 
e. Slasher: 5500
f. Discord Server: 150 members – has same functions as HWA’s old message boards but is more secure.
g. TikTok: 108 followers

(2) NEW DELANY NOVEL. No indication that it’s sff that I’ve seen: “Samuel R. Delany to Publish Serial Novel in The Georgia Review. The first installment is out.

The Georgia Review is proud to announce that our Summer 2022 issue will begin our serial publication of This Short Day of Frost and Sun, a new novel by Samuel R. Delany. The novel begins on New York’s Upper West Side sometime in the early 1990s, and, in an embedded tale, moves to a millionaire’s estate somewhere in the Midwest, a residence called “Mapless.” 

Somone on Facebook asked how long the serial will run. Delany replied:  

It might take them as much as three or four years to finish up the whole thing. I’m fiddling with it as I feed them chapters.

(3) NEXT YEAR’S STOKERCON. The Horror Writers Association’s StokerCon® 2023 will be in Pittsburgh, PA from June 15-18. Michael Arnzen, Benjamin Rubin, and Sara Tantlinger will co-chair the event. Register here.

(Early Bird) Launch through September 30 – $150
October 1st through October 31st – $200
November 1st through December 31st – $250
January 1st through May 15th – $300
More info will be available in the coming months.

(4) BAD LUCK AND TROUBLE YIELDS GOOD SF TV? The LA Times interviewed several showrunners to learn “How science fiction is shaping prestige TV”.

With storylines rooted in the Cold War or climate change or any number of other deep-seated earthbound concerns, no fewer than four new series (and counting) are boldly proclaiming an emerging era of prestige science fiction this season.

Why this sudden surge?

“Science fiction has always flourished when things weren’t going too well, and right now, there’s just a ton of anxiety in the world,” says David S. Goyer, showrunner for the Apple TV+ series “Foundation.”

That anxiety is reflected in these wildly variegated, star-packed offerings: Goyer’s “Foundation,” starring Jared Harris, traffics in “Dune”-style interplanetary strife set 25,000 years in the future; folksy heartland drama “Night Sky” (May 20, Prime Video) features Oscar winners Sissy Spacek and J.K. Simmons as a couple who periodically visit a distant planet via the teleportation device ensconced in their backyard shed; time-travel western “Outer Range” (Prime Video) stars Oscar nominee Josh Brolin as a Wyoming rancher spooked by a giant hole on the edge of his property; and “The Man Who Fell to Earth” (Showtime) casts Oscar-nominated Chiwetel Ejiofor as a charismatic extraterrestrial.

And while “Star Trek” in all its versions has been a relatively constant presence on screens big and small since the mid-1960s, its presence in these current times is growing ever larger, adding to the mix the recently launched “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds” (Paramount+), which follows Captain Pike (Anson Mount) and his USS Enterprise crew on fresh adventures. And there’s still more to come as Apple TV+ will be back in the space race soon with “Constellation,” featuring Noomi Rapace and Jonathan Banks.

The Envelope spoke to these showrunners about how they’re reshaping sci-fi TV amid troubled times….

(5) STILL GUESSING. “Doctor Who casts Heartstopper star Yasmin Finney for 60th anniversary”Radio Times declines to leap to any conclusion about the history of the character named Rose that this actor will play.

…However, Rose is also the title of Davies’ very first Doctor Who episode, where NuWho (and his own involvement in the series) all began. As he returns to take over the show again, it seems oddly appropriate for there to be another Rose in the mix – and given his heartbreaking parting from the original Rose, we might assume it’ll have some resonance for Tennant’s Doctor as well.

For now, it’s still unclear exactly what role Finney will play alongside Tate and Tennant, how many episodes (or specials) she’ll appear in, and whether she’s just a guest star or whether she’s here for the long haul. If she is a companion, Finney will be the first trans actor to hold that position in the TV series (though Rebecca Root has played a trans companion in audio dramas, and trans actors have appeared in episodes and spin-offs before)….

Similiarly: “Doctor Who casts new Rose but what’s her connection to Billie Piper?” at Radio Times.

This new version of Rose isn’t necessarily a multiversal revamp or reincarnation. She’s not necessarily Donna’s surprise daughter (though that would be cool, right?) or a herald for Billie Piper’s own comeback (though again, let’s not rule that one out).

For the last 17 years, that name has been a crucial motif in Doctor Who. And as Davies looks back for the 60th anniversary of the show, it might have just felt right to have a new Rose blooming for a new generation.

(6) ANOTHER HUGO-WINNING PRONOUN ANTAGONIST. [Item by Anne Marble.] I didn’t know Barry Longyear would use words like “woke” and complain about pronouns. Maybe Barry Longyear should be shipwrecked on another planet with an asexual pregnant alien… Then he might learn about his prejudices. Longyear’s May 17 Facebook post begins:

I usually shy away from this sort of nonsense, but after watching the news this morning, enough is enough.

Of all the cruel, pointless, wastes of time in existence, “woke” pronoun designation and enforcement is vying with CRT and the new college segregation to promote “racial harmony” for first place. Three Wisconsin middle school boys have been charged with sexual harassment for using “incorrect gender pronouns.” A student in rather crude terms, berated a boy for not using “they” and “them” when referring to that student….

(7) DEATH DID NOT RELEASE HIM. “Marvel Signs Deal to Insert CGI Stan Lee Cameos Into Future Films”Futurism has the story.

…What happens when a brand puts words in a dead guy’s mouth? And how come Marvel reversed course? In 2021, the company said the digitally-aged cameo of Lee they inserted into “End Game” would be his last.

And emotionally, it’s worth noting that the whole thing feels a little icky. Is it really what Lee would have wanted?

“Ghoulish behavior,” one fan wrote on Twitter. “Do not resurrect the man for further movie appearances as a CGI puppet, no matter what his estate is willing to sign off on.”

(8) OH, SNAP! Seems like death did not release Nick Fury, either. How did that happen? “Secret Invasion Taking Place ‘During The Blip’ Raises Obvious Question” and Bleeding Cool tries to find the answer.

…During Disney’s Upfronts on Tuesday, Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige brought out Jackson to help him promote the six-episode series. And that’s when things got interesting because while folks knew Secret Invasion would take place within the MCU timeline, Feige offered a bit more clarity that… caused a bit of confusion. While still engaging in the Marvel Studios’ policy of offering as few details as possible, did say that the series would take place “during The Blip, when half of the universe was decimated by Thanos and will explore the events that happened in that period.” So if that’s the case and it takes place between Avengers: Infinity War (especially that post-credits scene) and Avengers: Endgame, then we have a huge mystery in front of us. Because as far as everyone saw during that previously mentioned post-credits scene, Fury and Cobie Smulders‘ Maria Hill (who is also set to appear in the series) found themselves on the wrong side of Thanos’ finger-snap…

(9) VANGELIS (1943-2022). The Guardian reports Vangelis, composer of Chariots of Fire and Blade Runner soundtracks died May 17. His music was also associated with space exploration.

…A fascination with outer space found voice in 2016’s Rosetta, dedicated to the space probe of the same name, and Nasa appointed his 1993 piece Mythodea (which he claimed to have written in an hour) as the official music of the Mars Odyssey mission of 2001. His final album, 2021’s Juno to Jupiter, was inspired by the Nasa probe Juno and featured recordings of its launch and the workings of the probe itself in outer space….

Sultana Raza commemorated his passing in verse: “Cosmic Rainbow – Vangelis’ music inspired this poem”.

(10) MEMORY LANE.

1983 [By Cat Eldridge.] Thirty-nine years ago, William Shatner got his very own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. It as the 1762nd such star. He’d actually also get a star on the Walk of Fame in Canada. 

It is said that hundreds of people attended Shatner’s dedication ceremony, including Leonard Nimoy. He gave a speech on the day, in which he said that Shatner was “a wonderful man and a great actor” before telling the crowd about the terrible jokes Shatner liked to play on him. 

Shatner also spoke, “This is my small ticket to the stars. All of the other accolades are so ephemeral one never has anything that’s truly concrete and this is the one exception.” 

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born May 19, 1904 Anthony Bushell. He played Colonel Breen in the Quatermass and the Pit series. He showed in DangerInvisible Man and The Saint. (Died 1997.)
  • Born May 19, 1937 Pat Roach. He was cast in the first three Indy Jones films as a decided Bad Person though he never had a name. His first genre appearance was in A Clockwork Orange as a Milkbar bouncer but his first named role was being Hephaestus in Clash of Titans. He was of an unusually stocky nature, so he got cast as a Man Ape in Conan the Destroyer, and as Bretagne the Barbarian in Red Sonja. And of course he had such a role as Zulcki in Kull the Desttoyer. Oh, and he played a very large and mostly naked Executioner in the George MacDonald Fraser scripted The Return of The Musketeers. (Died 2004.)
  • Born May 19, 1944 Peter Mayhew. Chewbacca from the beginning to The Force Awakens before his retirement from the role. The same year he first did Chewy, he had an uncredited role as the Minotaur in Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger. He also shows in the Dark Towers series as The Tall Knight.  Can we say he earned a Hugo at IguanaCon II? I know I’m stretching it there. (Died 2019.)
  • Born May 19, 1946 Andre the Giant. Fezzik in The Princess Bride, one of my all-time favorite films. He had an uncredited role as Dagoth In Conan the Destroyer. He’s actually did a number of genre roles such as The Greatest American Hero with his American acting debut playing a Bigfoot in a two-part episode aired in 1976 on The Six Million Dollar Man titled “The Secret of Bigfoot”. He died at age forty-six of congestive heart failure in his sleep at a Paris hotel while there for his father’s funeral. (Died 1993.)
  • Born May 19, 1948 Grace Jones, 74. Singer, best known for a song about looking for a parking spot, but also acts. In addition to other genre roles, she was a companion of Conan in Conan the Destroyer and a Bond Girl in View to a Kill. (Alan Baumler) 
  • Born May 19, 1966 Jodi Picoult, 56. Her Wonder Women work is exemplary (collected in Wonder Women, Volume 3 and Wonder Woman: Love and Murder). She also has a most excellent two volume YA series called the Between the Lines Universe which she wrote with Samantha van Leer. ISFDB lists her Second Glance novel as genre but I’d say it’s genre adjacent at best. 

(12) WE INTERRUPT THIS SCROLL. John Scalzi has not been neglecting his Coca-Cola tasting duties – we just missed the coverage!

In February CNN Business featured another variation on the soft drink: “Coca-Cola Starlight: Coke’s new flavor is out of this world”. That week Scalzi obtained a can and shared his impression:

Then earlier this month he also wrote up another new limited edition flavor: Pixel Flavored! (How on earth – or off it – did we miss that?) “In Which I Try the Latest Coca-Cola Creations Flavor” at Whatever.

It is the Byte Limited Edition Pixel Flavored Coca-Cola Zero Sugar, which you cannot get in the stores; you have to order it off the Coca-Cola Web site, where it comes in a specialty boxed package (which you can see in the background) featuring two cans, a sticker and a QR card for a video game, all for $15 or thereabouts. Apparently only 25,000 of the boxes will be made. Well, okay; I bought two boxes, just in case I fell so in love with whatever “pixel flavored” tastes like that I needed to have a couple extra to string it out.

(13) MORE LOVE, MORE DEATH, MORE ROBOTS. And unrelated to beverages, About Netflix tapped John Scalzi for comments on “’Love, Death + Robots’: The Story Behind the Anthology Series’ First-Ever Sequel”.

How did it feel to return to these characters?

For me, the thing that was great is I wrote the characters because, years ago, a friend of mine kept poking me until I contributed to her anthology, Robots Vs. Fairies. I knocked it out in about an hour. The fact that something I did to keep my friend from annoying me has gone on to have such a long life – first in the book, then the first season, then being the only episode that is explicitly a sequel – just tickles me. And it thrills me, because the longer I’m with those characters, the more I love them….

(14) BRADBURY DNA. The Chicago Shakespeare Theater will be inspired by a bard from another world when they stage “It Came from Outer Space” from June 22-24.

A new musical comedy adapted from the ‘50s cult classic sci-fi film from Universal Pictures! Amateur astronomer John Putnam encounters an alien spaceship in the desert and becomes the laughingstock of his small town—until the extraterrestrial visitors make their presence known and he must convince the gathering mob that they have come in peace. A clever musical score and creative physical humor puts a new spin on Ray Bradbury’s flying saucer tale, examining society’s fear of outsiders as it simultaneously embraces the wonder of what lies just beyond the stars. Commissioned and developed by Chicago Shakespeare with Creative Producer Rick Boynton, the production reignites an artistic partnership with creators Joe Kinosian and Kellen Blair, following the triumph of their Jeff Award-winning 2011 musical, Murder for Two, which went on to an acclaimed New York run.

(15) JEOPARDY! Andrew Porter was planted in front of the TV tonight when Jeopardy! contestants stumbled over this genre item.

Category: Lit Bits

Answer: This book introduced us to the Eloi and Morlocks.

Wrong questions: What is “The Lord of the Rings” and “What is “War of the Worlds”?

Right question: What is “The Time Machine”?

(16) TIMES CROSSWORD PUZZLE. The answers to Thursday’s puzzle are hidden to avoid spoilers. Though we guess most Filers will get this four-letter answer pretty easily.

(17) ORION SHALL WRITHE. “In The Original ‘Star Trek’ Pilot, It Wasn’t Easy Being Green” explains H&I. It’s not a long anecdote, and would be spoiled by running enough of an excerpt to read coherently. So just click over and be entertained.

(18) NOT A FLOOR BUT A CEILING? Dr. Matt O’Dowd analyzes possible answers to a reciprocal of the usual assumption: “What If the Galactic Habitable Zone LIMITS Intelligent Life?” at PBS Space Time.

Our solar system is a tiny bubble of habitability suspended in a vast universe that mostly wants to kill us. In fact, a good fraction of our own galaxy turns out to be utterly uninhabitable, even for sun—like stellar systems. Is this why .. most of us .. haven’t seen aliens?

(19) NOT A FAN OF FOX. Screen Rant takes notes as “Star Trek Writer Hits Back At Controversial Fox News Op-Ed”. “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine writer Robert Hewitt Wolfe reacts to a Fox News op-ed that smeared the show as having suddenly adopted ‘woke politics.’”

(20) MEANWHILE, BACK IN FLORIDA. Reason brings you “Democratic Disney vs. Republican Disney”.

Tired of Disney not bending to their partisan sensibilities, two politicians update their theme parks.

(21) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness Pitch Meeting,” Ryan George, in a spoiler-packed episode, says that when the writer tells the producer that Wanda has gone bad because she’s been “possessed by an evil book,” the producer says, “this is why I don’t read.”  But the producer discovers who to cast for cameos when the writer makes smirky faces to him.

[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, Anne Marble, John Scalzi, Will R., SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Matthew Johnson.]

Pixel Scroll 5/16/22 I’ve Scrolled Pixels You People Wouldn’t Believe

(1) DISCON III SOUVENIR BOOK NOW AVAILABLE IN CHINESE. The 2021 Worldcon committee has had the Souvenir Book translated into Chinese.

It is digitally available in either English or Chinese on their website to anyone who wishes a copy. The English edition is here. The Chinese copy is here.

(2) STOKERCON PHOTOS. Ellen Datlow has shared her Flickr album of photos taken at Stokercon 2022 Denver. No captions yet, however.

(3) MORE HUGO FINALIST SAMPLERS. Alasdair Stuart has anticipated the Hugo Voter Packet by making available his selections from 2021’s The Full Lid, a Best Fanzine finalist, as either a PDF or a zip file containing PDF, mobi, and epub formats. He adds, “With many thanks to Nick Eden for the assembly!”

You can also find voter materials for two Best Semiprozine finalists, Escape Pod as well as PodCastle, at their sites.

(4) SPACE HOSPITALITY. In “Hugo Novel 2022: The Galaxy and the Ground Within by Becky Chambers”, Camestros Felapton reacts to another finalist.

…The story very much fits the expectations of a Chambers novel. The stakes are galactically-low and focused on the personal. There is conflict but it is either resolved or accommodated by people finding ways to get along. If anything, the focus on this aspect is greater than in previous stories and oddly, I found it better for that. It is a novel that is far more confident in staying within this personal space that is nonetheless shaped by political and cultural events….

(5) CODE NAME: DUDLEY. James Davis Nicoll begins “Five SF Works About Fighting Crime in Space” by explaining a bit of Canadian news to Tor.com readers, what might hypothetically follow, then names some books that might provide models:

…Presumably some sort of jet-pack-wearing analog of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police will be along to enforce this. Its officers might well wonder “how would a space-based police force work? How does one even set fire to a barn in space?” Happily, while a space patrol may be new to Canada, SF authors have already explored how such an organization might operate, as these five vintage works prove.

Space Cadet by Robert Heinlein (1948)

While hardly the first space patrol novel, Heinlein’s coming-of-age tale may be one of the best known. Space Cadet follows the education and early career of would-be Interplanetary Patrolman Matt Dodson, from his enrollment to his first major assignment on Venus. Along the way, he is transformed from a naïve teen into a responsible young man.

While the Patrol reserves the option to simply nuke problems from orbit, it prefers more subtle approaches. The Venus affair is a case in point. In the 19th or 20th century, a dispute between natives and traders might have been resolved through violent retribution against the natives. The Patrol, with its more ethical and enlightened outlook, does its best to respect the Venusians and deliver actual justice. Hard news for the trader in question, who is very much in the wrong.…

(6) THE BOYS ARE BACK IN TOWN. Amazon dropped this trailer for season 3 of The Boys today.

(7) A QECHJEM’A’ GROWS IN BROOKLYN. “Star Trek’s Klingon Helps NYC Teachers Understand Student Struggles Learning English” reports NBC New York.

Teachers at a Brooklyn school are finding inspiration from an unlikely source: Star Trek.

They’re boldly going where no educators have gone before (probably), learning “Klingon” as a way to connect to students in their classroom — as the fictional language invented for aliens serves as a reminder of everyone’s humanity.

Teachers at Saint Mark Catholic Academy in Sheepshead Bay are hoping that changing their language will help change their way of thinking. They are learning a language that until fairly recently was all Greek to them.

“Unless you’re a real Star Trek fan, you’re not well versed in Klingon,” said principal Mark Wilson.

It’s spoken by the fictional Klingon warriors on Star Trek. But learning this foreign fictional language is helping the teachers better understand real students learning English as a second language.

Over the last few years the school has seen an influx of eastern European students — children who don’t speak English at home. That includes Denys Shorodok, who came from Ukraine and for whom English is a third language.

“The teachers were coming to me (saying) I want to help my students but I don’t know how, and I wanted to help my teachers and I didn’t know how. So That’s when I reached out to ACES,” said Wilson.

… “One of the key parts of empathy is to think about what would it feel like for you if you were in the same situation,” said Rania El-Badry, the assistant director of the program.

“They now are familiar with the psychology and emotions of students in the classroom,” says program director Erica David, “and that’s something that will influence the way that they teach going forward.”…

(8) REVOVLVERS.  Dwayne Day discusses his five favorite moons in “All the myriad worlds” at The Space Review.

The other day I was having dinner with a prominent planetary scientist when I mentioned that I had a list of my five favorite moons. You do? He asked, surprised. Sure. Don’t you? He studies Venus, and Venus, like Vulcan, has no moon, so he didn’t have his own list of favorite moons but asked me to name mine. As I explained, most of my choices are not based strictly on scientific merit, but on the stories they tell—and the history of how we have discovered, studied, and explored them. Here they are, and why they’re on my list.

First up – Triton.

…Triton is one of Neptune’s moons, the largest, and it is an oddball. It circles the planet backwards, retrograde, in the opposite direction of Neptune’s other moons. This indicates that it did not form with them, and was likely captured when it wandered in from the Kuiper Belt. Triton was discovered shortly after the discovery of Neptune in 1846. Triton is cold, with estimated temperatures of 38 K (−235 °C). That, and its origins, combine to make it very interesting, and intriguing….

(9) KARL LEMBKE (1960-2022). Long-time LASFSian Karl Lembke died May 15 after a three-year battle with cancer. Karl was first elected Chair of the Board of Directors in 2002 (which I know because I took the minutes of the meeting!) and served continuously for 20 years.  

He joined LASFS in September 1985. He received the Evans-Freehafer Award for service to the club in 2010. His financial donations to the club were acknowledged by making him a Patron Saint of the 38th meeting of the year. At times he also served as Scribe of the Thursday night meetings.

Past LASFS President Eylat Poliner adds, “Karl was a gentle soul. He was a devoted and loved member of the LASFS. He ran hospitality for Loscon for many years. He loved to play mahjong. He liked to cook/bake and was loyal to his family, He loved science fiction. He brewed mead and beer. He loved his co-workers and boss.”

As a conrunner, Karl often worked the green room or staff lounge at Loscon, Gallifrey, and even Corflu the last time it was in LA. He chaired Loscon 32 in 2005.

Heinlein would have been impressed to know that in Karl’s lifetime he made 997 apheresis (plasma and platelet) donations to the Red Cross.

Karl identified himself with the Sad Puppies – even reblogging installments of Chris Chan’s 2017 article series this year when it was reposted by John C. Wright. His Twitter @KarlLembke actively reflected comparable political interests. 

Karl Lembke in 2004.

(10) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

2013 [By Cat Eldridge.] Just nine years ago, the sequel to rebooted Star Trek came out, Star Trek Into The Darkness. The twelfth film in the Trek franchise (really it was), it would be Leonard Nimoy‘s last film appearance before his death two years later. The Trek cast from the first film were back and the guest cast of Benedict Cumberbatch, Alice Eve, and Peter Weller would be here as well.

Naturally it was directed by J.J. Abrams off a script written by Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman  and Damon Lindelof. Abrams and Orci created Fringe, Kurtzman wrote the first film in this series plus he directed and co-wrote The Mummy which I essayed here not long ago, and Lindelof is one of the prime movers behind Lost.

In case someone here has managed not to see it yet, I’m not going to discuss it. See NO SPOILERS. 

It was costly. Best estimates say it was close to two hundred million by the time they were all done but it made nearly a half billion according to industry sources. That said, calculating in all of the expenses, Deadline Hollywood estimated that the film made a profit of only thirty million. Oh ouch.

So what did critics think of it at the time? Well most liked it though some I will admit detested it with all their hearts. Peter Travers of the Rolling Stone said: “Spoilers would cause me more trouble than an army of Klingons. One hint: If you rewatch any Star Trek movie before seeing this one, make it 1982’s iconic The Wrath of Khan. Kudos to Abrams for going bigger without going stupid. His set pieces, from an erupting volcano to the hell unleashed over London and Frisco Bay, are doozies. So’s the movie. It’s crazy good.” 

And SF Crownest said: “Snappy dialogue, spry action sequences, vibrant special effects, solid characterizations and galaxy-induced intrigue paints ‘Star Trek: Into Darkness’ as one the first summertime hits of 2013 to register its big box office promise with genuine thrills at a time where aimless sequels usually spell redundancy and disaster. Alas, it is quite acceptable to feel around in the ‘Darkness’ for Abrams’s stimulating spectacle that beams up some sharp and boisterous fun-filled momentum as routinely as it does an exasperated Scotty looking to return on board the ship.”

Christopher Orr of The Atlantic has an interesting point in his review I think and so we’ll leave our review notes with it: “For all its chasing and falling and fighting–and the movie supplies a great deal of each–Star Trek Into Darkness is at its best when the Enterprise crew are merely bickering and bantering among themselves: less space opera than soap opera.”

It currently has a most excellent ninety percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. 

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born May 16, 1918 Barry Atwater. Surak in “The Savage Curtain” episode where several reliable sources say he had serious trouble making Vulcan hand gesture. He did a lot of other genre work from Night Stalker where he played the vampire Janos Skorzeny to The Man From U.N.C.L.E.The Alfred Hitchcock HourVoyage to the Bottom of the SeaNight Gallery, The Wild Wild West and The Outer Limits. (Died 1978.)
  • Born May 16, 1937 Yvonne Craig. Batgirl on Batman, and that green-skinned Orion slave girl Marta on “Whom Gods Destroy” on Trek. She also one-offs in The Man from U.N.C.L.E.The Wild Wild West, Voyage to The Bottom of the SeaThe Ghost & Mrs. MuirLand of the GiantsFantasy Island and Holmes and Yo-Yo. (Died 2015.)
  • Born May 16, 1950 Bruce Coville, 72. He’s won three Golden Duck Awards for Excellence in Children’s Science Fiction. He won first for his My Teacher Glows in the Dark, the second for his I Was a 6th Grade Alien, and the third for producing an audio adaptation of Heinlein’s The Rolling Stones. And NESFA also presented him with the Edward E. Smith Memorial Award for Imaginative Fiction. He was twice nominated for the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature. 
  • Born May 16, 1953 Pierce Brosnan, 69. Louis XIV in The Moon and the Sun adaptation of Vonda McIntyre’s novel, shot in 2014 then not released til this year. James Bond in a remarkably undistinguished series of such films. Seriously, what do you remember about his Bond films? Dr. Lawrence Angelo in The Lawnmower Man, and he was lunch, errr, Professor Donald Kessler in Mars Attacks! and Mike Noonan in Bag of Bones.
  • Born May 16, 1955 Debra Winger, 67. Not I grant you an extensive genre resume but interesting one nonetheless. Her first genre appearance is in E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial in uncredited turn as, and I kid you, a Halloween Zombie Nurse with a poodle. Really I’m not kidding. And she appeared in three episodes of the Seventies Wonder Woman as Drusilla / Wonder Girl. If you want to stretch it, she was Rebecca in The Red Tent film.
  • Born May 16, 1968 Stephen Mangan, 54. Voiced Bigwig, Silverweed and Shale in the 1999 Watership Down series, Green Javelins in the Hyperdrive SF comedy series, and Dirk Gently in that series after the pilot. Last year, he was the lead in A Christmas Carol at The Old Vic. 
  • Born May 16, 1969 David Boreanaz, 53. Am I the only one that thought Angel was for the most part a better series than Buffy? And the perfect episode was I think “Smile Time” when Angel gets turned into a puppet. It even spawned its own rather great toy line. He’s currently Master Chief Special Warfare Operator Jason Hayes on SEAL Team which has migrated to Paramount + which means that the adult language barrier has been shattered so it’s quite amusing to hear a very foul mouthed Boreanaz. 
  • Born May 16, 1977 Lynn Collins, 45. She was an excellent Dejah Thoris in the much underrated John Carter. Her first genre role was Assistant D.A. Jessica Manning on the very short lived horror UPN drama Hauntings, and she showed up in True Blood as Dawn Green. She survived longer on The Walking Dead as Leah Shaw.  Back to films, she was in X-Men Origins: Wolverine and The Wolverine as Kayla Silverfox, Rim of The World as Major Collins and Blood Creek as Barb. 

(12) COMICS SECTION.

(13) GEORGE PÉREZ APPRECIATION. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Washington Post, David Betancourt has an appreciation for George Pérez.  He notes that Perez was proud of his Puerto Rican heritage and was proud of creating with Bill Mantlo the first Puerto Rican superhero, the White Tiger, whose first appearance was in The Deadly Hands Of Kung Fu #19 in 1975. “George Pérez was the master of the big comic-book moment”.

… And on the page, the storytelling power of Pérez’s pencils was fueled by the undeniable joy that came through in every panelhe ever illustrated. To flip through the pages of his decades of work with Marvel and DC Comics as well as independent projects was to know this man was born to draw superheroes.

As comics changed over the years, his art style remained classic — subtle and sophisticated. He never bowed to the pressure to draw oversexualized heroines in suggestive positions or heroes who looked as if they took superhero performance enhancers, which were the norms for many publishers in the very extreme 1990s….

(14) A MASTER’S VOICE. Frank Frazetta was an Illustrators of the Future Contest judge from its inception until he passed away in 2010. The contest recently made available a short video featuring him: “Advice from a Master: Frank Frazetta”.

(15) IF YOU CAN’T MAKE IT HERE. The New Yorker’s critic Richard Brody scoffs, “’Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ Is a Formulaic Corporate Slog”.

The first “Doctor Strange” film introduced an idiosyncratic character by means of an apt cinematic peculiarity, but its sequel, “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” squeezes the character into the Marvel franchise by trimming away all the whimsy. The strength of the first “Doctor Strange” is the embrace of its protagonist’s weirdness, which enshrines him among the franchise’s fictional personalities. The sequel is conservative: the weirdness is reined in, and the narrative’s symbolic loose ends are replaced by chains that bind it to other characters and story lines from the Marvel stable.….

(16) AUNTIE EM! AUNTIE EM! The Smithonian’s video series STEM in 30 tracks “The Science of the Wizard of Oz”.

How can monkeys, houses, and witches fly?

L.Frank Baum’s book “”The Wonderful Wizard of Oz”” was first published in 1900 and was a hit from the get-go. While the story was first adapted for Broadway in 1903 and for film in 1910, it is probably the 1939 film starring Judy Garland that most people think of when one mentions The Wizard of Oz. In this episode we’ll explore some of the more fanciful parts of the story and dive deep into tornadoes, flying witches, hot air balloons and – what about those flying monkeys?

(17) OLD SPARKY. HuffPost Entertainment tells how “John Oliver Killed By ‘Murderous Hell-Demon’ In Surprise Show-Stopper”.

…Oliver said he’d normally bring out a mascot to show how “terrible and horrifying” utilities are.

But he didn’t have to in this case.

“They already made a murderous hell-demon almost 100 years ago,” he said, referring to an extremely creepy long-ago mascot for power companies called Reddy Kilowatt.

He regretted it almost instantly.

“I could kill you right now and there’s nothing anyone could do about it,” Reddy Kilowatt declared.

Then, he did exactly that….

(18) UPON A STAR. Tella is an animated film, directed by Zachary Conlu, about a little girl and her unusual new pet.

A lost girl gets a surprise visit from a fallen star that seems to give no notice of her…

(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] This Eddie Izzard sketch of what happened when Darth Vader showed up in the Death Star cafeteria may have 28 million views, but it’s never appeared in File 770! (From 2008.)

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

Pixel Scroll 5/10/22 Of All The Pixels In The World, She Scrolls In To Mine

(1) RICK RIORDAN HURLS THUNDERBOLT. Percy Jackson author Rick Riordan today condemned the racist backlash against Leah Jeffries, the young actor who is set to play Annabeth Chase in the upcoming Disney+ series Percy Jackson and the Olympians. “Leah Jeffries is Annabeth Chase”

This post is specifically for those who have a problem with the casting of Leah Jeffries as Annabeth Chase. It’s a shame such posts need to be written, but they do. First, let me be clear I am speaking here only for myself. These thoughts are mine alone. They do not necessarily reflect or represent the opinions of any part of Disney, the TV show, the production team, or the Jeffries family.

The response to the casting of Leah has been overwhelmingly positive and joyous, as it should be. Leah brings so much energy and enthusiasm to this role, so much of Annabeth’s strength. She will be a role model for new generations of girls who will see in her the kind of hero they want to be.

If you have a problem with this casting, however, take it up with me. You have no one else to blame. Whatever else you take from this post, we should be able to agree that bullying and harassing a child online is inexcusably wrong. As strong as Leah is, as much as we have discussed the potential for this kind of reaction and the intense pressure this role will bring, the negative comments she has received online are out of line. They need to stop. Now.

…You have decided that I couldn’t possibly mean what I have always said: That the true nature of the character lies in their personality. You feel I must have been coerced, brainwashed, bribed, threatened, whatever, or I as a white male author never would have chosen a Black actor for the part of this canonically white girl.

You refuse to believe me, the guy who wrote the books and created these characters, when I say that these actors are perfect for the roles because of the talent they bring and the way they used their auditions to expand, improve and electrify the lines they were given. Once you see Leah as Annabeth, she will become exactly the way you imagine Annabeth, assuming you give her that chance, but you refuse to credit that this may be true.

You are judging her appropriateness for this role solely and exclusively on how she looks. She is a Black girl playing someone who was described in the books as white.

Friends, that is racism.

And before you resort to the old kneejerk reaction — “I am not racist!” — let’s examine that statement too….

(2) SPECIAL COPYRIGHT OPERATION. “Bill Targeting Disney’s ‘Special Copyright Protections’ Introduced”The Hollywood Reporter has the story.

Disney, under siege by Republican lawmakers, may immediately lose its copyright for Mickey Mouse if a law slashing the duration of ownership is passed.

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) on Tuesday proposed legislation that limits copyright protection to 56 years. According to the Copyright Clause Restoration Act of 2022, the law would retroactively apply to existing copyrights.

The move follows Florida lawmakers last month stripping Disney of special privileges of self-government that allowed it to independently oversee its sprawling theme park area. The feud started when the company vowed to push for repeal of the Parental Rights in Education Law, which bars discussion of gender identity or sexual orientation in grades K-3 and allows parents to sue school districts if they think there’s been a violation.

…Gov. Ron DeSantis placed Disney front and center in a culture war against what he called “woke corporations.”

Hawley, employing DeSantis’ playbook, said in a statement, “Thanks to special copyright protections from Congress, woke corporations like Disney have earned billions while increasingly pandering to woke activists.”

Hawley’s mention of “special copyright protections” refers to Disney’s major role influencing the evolution of copyright law. Mickey Mouse was first introduced with the 1928 release of Steamboat Willie. At the time, Disney was afforded 56 years of protection for the character.

But with the copyright set to expire in 1984, Disney lobbied for reform and secured the passage of the Copyright Act of 1976. This allowed ownership of works by corporations for 75 years. In 1998, Disney was again able to delay the entry of Mickey Mouse into the public domain with the adoption of the Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998. The law extended protection of copyrights by corporations for 95 years from their original publication, pushing the expiration of Disney’s copyright for Steamboat Willie to 2024.

Several Republican lawmakers have said that they won’t support an extension of copyright protections for Disney if a bill is introduced. In a letter to chief executive Bob Chapek, Jim Banks (R-In.) denounced the company for capitulating “to far-left activists through hypocritical, woke corporate actions” with its opposition to the Parental Rights in Education Act….

Variety says the damage to Disney would be less than one might assume.

…But even if Disney’s copyright for Steamboat Willie expires, only the original design of Mickey Mouse will hit the public domain. There have been several iterations of the character over the past century….

(3) READ SFF FROM THE MARGINS. Anathema’s first issue of 2022 (#15) is live. The May 2022 issue features new fiction from Saswati Chatterjee, Choo Yi Feng, M.S. Dean, Wen-yi Lee, poetry from Rasha Abdulhadi and Folarin James, and cover art by Yu Ying. Read the entire issue free online: Anathema: Spec from the Margins Issue 15, May 2022

(4) KOJA Q&A. “’The Fringe Is Where the Fun Really Happens’: A Conversation with Kathe Koja”, conducted by Rob Latham at the LA Review of Books.

 When you moved into writing YA, I’m sure you confronted kneejerk assumptions about the field: that it had to pull its punches when dealing with contentious topics, that it couldn’t be as sophisticated as “adult” literature. Yet your YA novels are, if not as obviously transgressive as your horror fiction, quite bold and even worldly: they never pander, never assume their readers can’t grasp complex motivations or ambiguous desires. The young heroine of The Blue Mirror, for example, one of your more overtly supernatural stories, is as seduced by darkness as any of the protagonists in your horror novels. Can you say a bit about what drew you to the field? Did you find that you had to adapt your style or writing method at all? And I’m curious, have you had any response from young readers to your books? 

At my first meeting with my YA editor, the completely legendary Frances Foster at Farrar, Straus and Giroux, she cautioned me about that very thing. And there were some readers who mourned that I had “stopped writing” when they learned I was writing YA! It just floors me that anyone would think writing for young(er) readers is “easier” — writing YA demanded all the same skills I’d deploy in any novel, and even more stringent narrative drive: younger readers are wonderfully unforgiving, and if you bore them, they will straight up let you know.

It was one of the things I loved most about doing school and library visits: the kids would ask pointed questions, they’d confront me if they thought they found errors in the books. And they would question and debate with each other. During one especially remarkable visit, bleachers full of middle schoolers argued, passionately, over whether a book should show the world as it ought to be rather than as it is, “so we can see it and change it.” Writing YA asked of me a heightened level of intention: because younger readers know that they don’t know everything (older readers don’t either, but they might not believe that anymore), and a new idea, a new point of reference, can change a young reader’s point of view, change the way they view the world. There’s a responsibility inherent in that, and I took it very seriously….

(5) PALISANO MEDICAL UPDATE. Horror Writers Association President John Palisano announced last night on Facebook he has contracted Covid and will miss this weekend’s StokerCon in Denver.

It’s with a very heavy heart I’m sharing I will not be attending StokerCon this year. Over the weekend, I developed strong symptoms of Covid-19. A positive PCR test confirmed my worst fears just yesterday. For the record? I’m fully vaccinated and boosted. Obviously, the virus is still a serious threat.

With my bags packed, ready to celebrate years of hard work, to say I’m devastated at not being able to see friends new and old and see this come to life is an understatement.

(6) JANELLE MONÁE. Two interviews in synch with the release of Memory Librarian.

…The book’s five thematically linked stories, each co-written with a different author, all play off Monáe’s 2018 post-cyber-punk album “Dirty Computer,” which blended many sounds and styles — rap, pop, funk, R&B, rock and every subgenre imaginable — but felt more directly personal in its celebration of Black women and their sexuality than her earlier, more metaphorical albums.

Monáe felt the album was still resonating after she finished recording it. She made a 45-minute short film inspired by the album but even that wasn’t enough. “The themes were strong and I knew there were more stories to tell,” she explains.

“Memory Librarian” explores a futuristic world in which an organization called the New Dawn takes a Big Brother-esque approach to wiping out human desires deemed abnormal, seeking to create “their versions of what ideal citizens should be,” Monáe says. “They’ll strip people of their own selves.”

People in marginalized groups, especially in the LGBTQ community, are in danger of having their memory wiped out with a drug called Nevermind. Anyone who sympathizes with them or rebels against the system is also in danger….

What’s it like to share the space of Dirty Computer with collaborators?

I think you’ve hit the nail on the head: community. Everything I’ve tried to do, I’ve tried to keep it rooted in community—like starting my arts collective, the Wondaland Arts Society, at the beginning of my career. It’s full of writers, it’s full of filmmakers, it’s full of actors, it’s full of musicians. And coming from a big family as well—I have like 49 first cousins—I don’t know how to not be communing. So it just felt right as I entered into the literary space to find other like-minded spirits, other dirty computers, whose work I admired and I knew admired my work. How can we make this innovative? What we’re doing is not common; what we’re doing is super special and I love it: being able to have the back and forth, to give character, to give plot point and say, OK, run wild! You read that first draft and you’re like, “OK, this is it! OK, let’s tweak this, let’s do that.” The writers feeling seen in the way they’re writing and me feeling seen in the vision I have, it’s amazing!…

(7) 2022 PULITZER PRIZES. No genre in the list of today’s 2022 Pulitzer Prize Winners & Finalists that I could see. There were a couple winners connected with areas we’ve followed in the Scroll: 

EXPLANATORY REPORTING

For coverage that revealed the complexities of building the James Webb Space Telescope, designed to facilitate groundbreaking astronomical and cosmological research. 

ILLUSTRATED REPORTING AND COMMENTARY

For using graphic reportage and the comics medium to tell a powerful yet intimate story of the Chinese oppression of the Uyghurs, making the issue accessible to a wider public.

(8) 1957-1958 HUGOS THOUGHT EXPERIMENT. Rich Horton’s research into the early Hugos revealed something that inspired a Facebook post that begins —

Wandering through the history of the Hugos in the 1950s — a chaotic time, with no well established rules, with constantly changing award categories, with a con committee, in one case, refusing to give fiction awards at all … I realized that no stories from 1957 won a Hugo. (The 1958 Hugo for short story went to “Or All the Seas With Oysters”, by Avram Davidson (Galaxy, May 1958) and the Hugo for — get this — “Novel or Novelette” went to “The Big Time”, by Fritz Leiber, a novel (albeit very short) that was serialized in Galaxy, March and April 1958. In 1957, no Hugos for fiction were given.

So, what the heck — here’s my list of proposed fiction nominees from 1957….

(9) SERGEY DYACHENKO (1945-2022). Publishers Lunch reports Russian-Ukrainian sff author Sergey Dyachenko died in California on May 5 at 77. With his wife, Marina Dyachenko, he was the co-author of more than 30 books, including Vita NostraThe Scar, and Daughter from the Dark. A sequel to Vita Nostra will be published by Harper Voyager next year. Adam Whitehead has more at The Wertzone: “RIP Serhiy Dyachenko”.

(10) MEMORY LANE.

1975 [By Cat Eldridge.] Forty-seven years ago, Monty Python and the Holy Grail premiered in the States. It would be nominated for a Hugo at MidAmericaCon (A Boy and His Dog which I’ve written up was the choice by Hugo voters.)

The film was written and performed by the Monty Python which course was Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin, and was directed by Gilliam and Jones in their directorial debuts. It was done during a break between the third and fourth series of their Monty Python’s Flying Circus. So it was just another episode of that series in an extended format. Yes, it is but one skit, that of King Arthur, but it is a Python skit none-the-less. A really, really long one at ninety minutes. 

(Not wanting a good, or bad idea depending on which critic you were, to go to waste, the film was the basis for the Eric Idle’s Tony Award-winning Spamalot musical thirty-five years later.) 

It cost virtually nothing, somewhere around a half million dollars, to produce and made five million dollars in its first run. Not bad at all. 

Speaking of critics, and we should at this point, what did they think of it? 

Well Chicago-Sun Tribune gave Gene Siskel reviewing duties this time instead of Roger Ebert and he thought that “it contained about 10 very funny moments and 70 minutes of silence. Too many of the jokes took too long to set up, a trait shared by both Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein. I guess I prefer Monty Python in chunks, in its original, television revue format.” 

And Geoff Brown of The Monthly Film Bulletin says “The team’s visual buffooneries and verbal rigamaroles (some good, some bad, but mostly indifferent) are piled on top of each other with no attention to judicious timing or structure, and a form which began as a jaunty assault on the well-made revue sketch and an ingenious misuse of television’s fragmented style of presentation, threatens to become as unyielding and unfruitful as the conventions it originally attacked.” 

It currently has an extraordinarily good ninety-five rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. 

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born May 10, 1863 Cornelius Shea. As the authors of SFE put it, “author for the silent screen and author of dime novels, prolific in many categories but best remembered for marvel stories using a fairly consistent ‘mythology’ of dwarfs, subterranean eruptions, and stage illusion masquerading as supernatural magic.” To my surprise, only two of his novels are in the Internet Archive, though Complete Mystery Science Stories of Cornelius Shea which includes two of these novels is available from the usual suspects. (Died 1920.)
  • Born May 10, 1886 Olaf Stapledon. Original and almost unimaginable.  Last and First Men, his first novel (!) extends over two billion years – written in 1930.  Who could follow that?  He did, with Star Maker, over 100 billion years. Their range, imagination, and grandeur may still be unequaled.  He was, however – or to his credit – depending on how you see things – an avowed atheist.  Odd John, about a spiritual-intellectual superman, may be tragic, or heroic, or both. Darkness and the Light was nominated for a Retro-Hugo At WorldCon 76 as was Sirius: A Fantasy of Love and Discord at CoNZealand. He was the first recipient of the Cordwainer Smith Rediscovery Award in 2001 and voted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2014. (Died 1950.)
  • Born May 10, 1895 Earl Askam. He played Officer Torch, the captain of Ming the Merciless’s guards, in the 1936 Flash Gordon serial. It’s his only genre appearance though he did have an uncredited role in a Perry Mason film, The Case of Black Cat, which is at least genre adjacent as the defendant is a feline! (Died 1940.)
  • Born May 10, 1899 Fred Astaire. Yes, that actor. He showed up on the original  Battlestar Galactica as Chameleon / Captain Dimitri In “The Man with Nine Lives” episode. Stunt casting I assume.  He had only two genre roles as near as I can tell which were voicing The Wasp in the English-language adaptation of the Japanese Wasp anime series, and being in a film called Ghost Story. They came nearly twenty years apart and were the last acting roles that he did. (Died 1987.)
  • Born May 10, 1935 Terrance Dicks. He had a long association with Doctor Who, working as a writer and also serving as the program’s script editor from 1968 to 1974. He wrote many of its scripts including The War Games which ended the Second Doctor’s reign and The Five Doctors, produced for the 20th year celebration of the program. He also wrote novelizations of more than sixty of the Doctor Who shows. Yes, sixty! Prior to working on this series, he wrote four episodes of The Avengers and after this show he wrote a single episode of Space: 1999 and likewise for Moonbase 3, a very short lived BBC series that I’ve never heard of. (Died 2019.)
  • Born May 10, 1963 Rich Moore, 59. He’s directed Wreck-It Ralph and co-directed Zootopia and Ralph Breaks the Internet; he’s has worked on Futurama. It’s not really stretching the definition of genre, so I’ll note that he did the animation for the most excellent Spy vs. Spy series for MADtv. You can see the first one here.
  • Born May 10, 1969 John Scalzi, 53. I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve ever read by him. What would I recommend if you hadn’t read him? The Old Man’s War series certainly is fantastic with Zoe’s Tale bringing tears to my eyes. The Interdependency series is excellent. I really have mixed feelings about Redshirts in that it’s too jokey for my taste. I will note that his blog is one of a very few which I read every post of.

(12) S&S NEWS. If you sign up for the Thews You Can Use sword and sorcery newsletter, you now get a free sampler of contemporary sword and sword stories, including two by Cora Buhlert as well as fiction by Remco van Straten and Angeline B. Adams, Dariel Quioge, Chuck E. Clark, Nathaniel Webb, J.T.T. Ryder, Mario Caric and Michael Burke: Thews You Can Use.

(13) TOLKIEN AND UKRAINE. The Washington Examiner invites you to “Meet the publisher bringing JRR Tolkien and military manuals to Ukraine’s readers”.

It says something about modern Ukraine’s place in the world that an academic who takes “special pride” in publishing a Ukrainian translation of the complete works of J.R.R. Tolkien was determined also to print a series of manuals on military tactics and civilian survival in a war zone.

“This is a bestseller,” Astrolabe Publishing founder Oleh Feschowetz told the Washington Examiner during a recent interview in his office. “One hundred thousand copies.”

He was referring not to The Hobbit or The Silmarillion, but to Swiss army Maj. Hans von Dach’s mid-century guerrilla warfare manual, Total Resistance: A small war warfare manual for everyone — already in its seventh Astrolabe edition, just eight years after Feschowetz first printed the Ukrainian translation. “It was the first military book in the beginning of the war, [in] 2014.”…

“Because Russia always interpret[s] the culture just like a weapon,” he said in another conversation. “We must do the same. Culture is a weapon.”

So his team has published translations of works as ancient and various as the poems of Catullus, Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy, and Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit. The Old English epic Beowulf and Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales were unavailable in the Ukrainian language before Astrolabe brought them forth. For Feschowetz, the study of “high literature” such as the works he has published (including Tolkien’s works, which he rates as “one of the best books” of Western civilization) holds a special resonance for Ukrainian readers who continue to labor to establish strong institutions within their civil society, beyond as it is the protection of Western allies.

“In other words, [Tolkien] speaks more of a man who relies not on an institution, procedures, but on ‘his own hands and his own ship,’ as in Beowulf,” Feschowetz, more comfortable writing in English than conversing, explained in a subsequent note. “In other words, it is not so much about institutionalized freedom, so important for the West, as about gaining and defense of it, that is, [in] fact, about the basis and origins of this freedom, about the real, internal mechanism of its functioning, from which we are so often removed by well-established institutions and procedures. This is, so to speak, the inner ‘West.’”…

(14) HUGO NEWS AUF DEUTSCH. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] The other local paper Kreiszeitung ran a great article about me and my Hugo nomination: Only in German alas: “Science-Fiction-Preis: Cora Buhlert auf der Jagd nach der Rakete”.

… Für Cora Buhlert sind solche postapokalyptischen Geschichten zurzeit kein Thema. „Die will ich nicht schreiben. Außerdem gibt es viele Möglichkeiten, die Welt untergehen zu lassen. Ich habe selbst eine Menge ausprobiert. Fiktional“, schiebt sie noch hinterher und lacht….

(15) JEOPARDY! [Item by Rich Lynch.] Going into tonight’s episode the current Jeopardy! champion Danielle Mauer is a costumer who attends Dragon Cons.

Andrew Porter adds that one of tonight’s new Jeopardy! contestants was editor-author Mallory Kass, profiled by Publishers Weekly.  

For the Daily Double, contestants, here’s your clue: she’s a senior editor at Scholastic who’s also a bestselling YA fantasy, sci-fi, and dystopian author writing under the name Kass Morgan. Correct response: who is Mallory Kass? And on Tuesday, May 10 she makes her debut as a contestant on Jeopardy! on ABC at 7 p.m. ET. …The Monarchs—the second book in the Ravens duology she co-wrote with Danielle Page—came out in January.

We won’t blab about who came out on top. (There was a third contestant, too, without a genre connection anyone has mentioned.)

(16) HBCU CON. DCist reports that “Black Cosplayers Celebrate ‘Black Geek Homecoming’ At HBCU Con”. The event took place April 30.

Chauna Lawson, who cosplays by the name “CC the Geek,” thinks about the last time she felt truly embraced and acknowledged for all of who she was.

“That was when I was at Bowie State,” says Lawson, an alum of the historically Black university and founder of HBCU Con, a fandom convention held there April 30.

At her dorm in Alex Haley Residence Hall, she and her friends would play video games, watch anime like Sailor Moon and Digimon Adventure and talk about life.

“Nothing was off the table and everyone was respected in the room, regardless of where they came from,” Lawson says. “I just wanted to take that experience and recreate it and give it back to the people because it really got me through some really tough times in my life.”

Lawson, who graduated from Bowie State University in 2009, is the CEO of HBCU Con. It’s a convention where people dress up as their favorite characters from video games, anime, science fiction novels, comics or even their own creations, and celebrate both HBCUs and Black geeks.

At the three-day event, people meet other cosplayers, participate in panels on anything from life as a Black K-pop fan to the history of cosplay, participate in a gaming tournament, and attend events like a step show and fashion show put on by HBCU students….

(17) YAY? “Great News: An Autonomous Drone Swarm Can Now Chase You Through a Forest Without Crashing“ reports Core77.

If you have a deep passion for being surveilled, you probably dream of living in a city in the UK or China, festooned as they are with security cameras and face-rec. But what if you want to be spied on in a rural environment? It’s not feasible to install cameras on every tree in a forest. Autonomous tracking drones exist (thank you Skydio and Snapchat!) but they’re probably not progressing as fast as you’d like them to.

Well, help is here thanks to a team of researchers at Zhejiang University. As New Scientist reports, this research team has been working on drone swarms composed of ten tiny, fully autonomous drones that use off-the-shelf components, a camera and an algorithm to navigate through a forest without crashing into anything, or one another….

(18) CAMERON BLUE IT. The Guardian is every bit as skeptical about the Avatar 2 trailer as the critics at CinemaCon were impressed by it: “Avatar 2 trailer: prepare to be swept away by boredom”.

…Well, luckily for us the Avatar 2 trailer went online yesterday, giving us lowly non-exhibitors a chance to have our brains splattered out of the back of our skulls as well. And, upon watching it, there’s a good chance that we all had the same thought at the same time. Wait, are we watching the thing that they watched?

Because the trailer that dropped on YouTube really isn’t particularly spectacular. Some Na’vi jump across a tree. A sort of lizardy bird thing flies across some water. Some characters go for a bit of a swim. Sam Worthington’s character looks like he’s doing his best to hold in a fart. And, apart from the soundtrack – which is effectively the sound of Enya passing out from boredom and landing on a synthesiser – that’s about it….

(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] John Cleese and Michal Pailn discuss the difficulties making Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life in this clip from the BBC in December 1982 that dropped yesterday.

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Cora Buhlert, Cat Rambo, Rich Lynch, Cathy Green, Chris Barkley, 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 Rob Thornton.]