Pixel Scroll 5/23/22 Cosplaying And Straying In Pixel Scroll Land, To The Sounds Of The Pixel Scroll Band

(1) DELANY’S STATEMENT. David Lubkin’s Facebook page has become one of the centers for discussing the Mercedes Lackey controversy because Samuel Delany – whose work Lackey reportedly was praising when she used the slur – reacted to the issue in a comment there. Lubkin’s post begins:

Science fiction writer Mercedes Lackey was recognized on Saturday at the Nebula Awards Conference as the newest SFWA Grand Master.

She was removed today from the conference and the additional panels she was scheduled for in accordance with the SFWA Moderation Policy for making a “racial slur” as a panelist yesterday.

The rule is “Respect all cultures and communities. Do not make derogatory or offensive comments even as a joke.” and was deemed to apply in all SFWA space, and being given SFWA’s highest honor that day didn’t exempt her.

I didn’t listen to the panel. But according to the moderator and a fellow participant, what happened: While praising the work of SFWA Grand Master and my old friend Chip (Samuel Delany), she referred to him as “colored.” My guess is she’d chosen the term for being commonplace in Chip’s experience growing up. (He turned 80 last month. She’s 71 herself.)…

Delany wrote in a comment there:

(2) ALTERNATIVE VIEW. K. Tempest Bradford wrote a balanced explanation of why Delany’s exoneration of Lackey won’t be the end of the issue for others: “On Samuel Delany, the use of the term ‘colored’, intergenerational conversations about language, and why SFWA was still right to remove Mercedes Lackey” at Tempest in a Teapot.

On Samuel Delany, the use of the term “colored”, intergenerational conversations about language, and why SFWA was still right to remove Mercedes Lackey from programming.

Several people have tweeted the screenshot below at me due to my thoughts on this situation.

What strikes me about this is that Delany is coming at this issue from a him-centric viewpoint (which is fine). Thing is, this isn’t just a Delany-centered problem. If Delany wants us all to refer to him as colored, fine. If he just doesn’t care if that word is used to label/describe him even if he personally prefers black, also fine.

But this is also about how hearing a Black man referred to as colored by an older white woman affects other Black people and people of color broadly. It’s not necessarily a respectful term to use in public on a panel at one of the community’s most respected events.

Even if Delany is cool with one of his friends calling him Colored, it doesn’t mean that the rest of us can’t have a different reaction or find it upsetting. This is similar to how even worse slurs might be used in-group without issue but are frowned upon when used out-group.

And I’m sure Chip knows and understand this. My guess is he’s upset by the perceived slight against his longtime friend by SFWA and that’s what’s at the forefront of that comment, though he is free to correct me.

Either way, it’s one thing to use an outdated term that’s generally considered a slur within a friend group and another to use the term on a panel at a con. That’s what Mercedes Lackey should have been aware of and that’s what most people are reacting to…

This is roughly the first half of Bradford’s comment, which continues at the link.

(3) RETALIATION. Jen Brown, whose Twitter thread explained what happened on a Nebula Conference panel that resulted in Mercedes Lackey being removed from the event, reported last night on Twitter that she is being harassed.

(4) PUSHBACK. Some of the social media lightning generated by SFWA’s removal of Mercedes Lackey from the Nebula Conference found its way to ground in responses to what was intended as a close-out tweet for the Nebula Conference. Critics protested that the term “comfort elves” resonated with the WWII term “comfort women”.

The tweet was removed and this one took its place.

(5) KAY Q&A. The Reddit subreddit /r/fantasy brought Guy Gavriel Kay in to answer questions and talk about his new release All The Seas“Hello, all. I am novelist Guy Gavriel Kay – Ask Me Anything”.

What has been your favorite book to read over the last 24 months?

I *loved* John Banville’s *The Untouchable* … that’s partly because I’m fascinated by the Cambridge spies. But it is so elegantly written (Banville’s known for that, and he’s Irish, which is unfair) and also, this one actually inhabits the space I do, as to a quarter turn away from ‘using’ real lives and names. This is a fictionalized treatment, with characters *almost* the real ones. I’m always happy when I see other writers exploring that.

(6) PRAIRIE HORROR COMPANION. Westworld Season 4 premieres Sunday, June 26 on @HBO and @HBOMax.

(7) COLIN CANTWELL (1932-2022). Colin Cantwell, a concept designer of Star Wars vehicles, died May 21 at the age of 90. The Hollywood Reporter profile notes:

…His love of architecture and fascination with space provided the perfect combination for Cantwell to make serious moves in Hollywood, working on several projects, his initial credited work being ‘2001: A Space Odyssey.’

Colin Cantwell, the concept artist who designed iconic Star Wars spacecraft, including the X-wing Starfighter, TIE fighter and Death Star…

Cantwell’s film credits include special photographic effects for 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), technical dialogue for Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) and computer graphics design consultant for WarGames (1983). Yet, he was most renowned for his work with George Lucas on Star Wars, designing and constructing the prototypes for the X-wing, TIE fighter, Star Destroyer and the Death Star, among more.

… It was Cantwell’s work on WarGames — programming the Hewlett Packard monitors to depict the dramatic bomb scenes on NORAD screens as the WOPR (War Operation Plan Response) computer nearly launched nuclear weapons — that led him to programming software that took the actual Hewlett Packard from a few colors to 5,000 colors.

In addition to his film work, Cantwell’s wrote two science fiction novels, CoreFires 1 and CoreFires 2.

And according to the Guardian:

…He said “a dart being thrown at a target in a British pub” gave him the concept for the X-wing, and explained how he accidentally designed an iconic feature of the Death Star that became a crucial plot point: the meridian trench, used by the Alliance and Luke Skywalker as part of their attack on the mighty battle station in A New Hope.

“I didn’t originally plan for the Death Star to have a trench, but when I was working with the mould, I noticed the two halves had shrunk at the point where they met across the middle,” he told Reddit. “It would have taken a week of work just to fill and sand and re-fill this depression. So, to save me the labor, I went to George and suggested a trench. He liked the idea so much that it became one of the most iconic moments in the film!”

His IMDb listing also has his video game work.

(8) KENNETH WELSH (1942-2022). Actor Kenneth Welsh, best known for his work in Twin Peaks, died May 5. The New York Times noted these genre roles:

…Mr. Welsh appeared in 10 episodes of “Twin Peaks” in its second season, playing Earle, the vengeful, maniacal adversary and former F.B.I. partner of the protagonist, Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan)…

But in his more than 240 movie and television roles, he ranged widely across genres, including … science fiction (“Star Trek: Discovery” in 2020).

His notable film notable roles included the vice president of the United States in Roland Emmerich’s “The Day After Tomorrow” (2004), about the onset of an ecological catastrophe…

(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1980 [By Cat Eldridge.] Forty-two years ago today, the most perfect Stephen King film imaginable came out in the form of The Shining. Directed by Stanley Kubrick from a screenplay by him and Diane Johnson, it was also produced by him. 

It had an absolutely wonderful primary cast of Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall. Danny Torrance, Scatman Crothers and Danny Lloyd. Jack Nicholson in particular was amazing in his role as was Shelley Duvall in hers. And the setting of the Overlook Hotel is a character in and itself — moody, dangerous and quite alive. 

Kubrick’s script is significantly different from the novel which is not unusual to filmmaking. However Stephen King was extremely unhappy with the film due to Kubrick’s changes from his novel. 

If you saw it upon the first release, you saw a print that was a half hour longer than later prints. And Kurbrick released multiple prints, all different from each other. Some prints made minor changes, some made major changes. 

It cost twenty million to make and made around fifty million. It did not make money for the studio. 

So how was it received by the critics? Well it got a mixed reception. 

Gene Siskel in his Chicago Tribune review stated he thought it was a “crashing disappointment. The biggest surprise is that it contains virtually no thrills. Given Kubrick’s world-class reputation, one’s immediate reaction is that maybe he was after something other than thrills in the film. If so, it’s hard to figure out what.” 

However Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian was much more positive: “The Shining doesn’t look like a genre film. It looks like a Kubrick film, bearing the same relationship to horror as Eyes Wide Shut does to eroticism. The elevator-of-blood sequence, which seems to ‘happen’ only in premonitions, visions and dreams, was a logistical marvel. Deeply scary and strange.”

I’ll let Roger Ebert have the last word: “Stanley Kubrick’s cold and frightening ‘The Shining’ challenges us to decide: Who is the reliable observer? Whose idea of events can we trust?” 

Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a excellent ninety three rating. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born May 23, 1921 James Blish. What was his best work? Cities in FlightA Case of Conscience? I’d argue it was one of those works. Certainly it wasn’t the Trek novels though he certainly pumped them out with nearly ninety all told if I’m reading ISFDB right. And I hadn’t realized that he wrote one series, the Pantropy series, under a pen name (Arthur Merlyn). (Died 1975.)
  • Born May 23, 1933 Joan Collins, 89. Sister Edith Keeler in “The City on the Edge of Forever”,  the sort-of-Ellison-scripted Trek episode which won a Hugo at BayCon. She has an extensive number of other genre appearances including Land of the PharaohsMission: ImpossibleThe Man From U.N.C.L.E.Tales from the CryptSpace: 1999The Fantastic JourneyFuture CopFantasy Island and Faerie Tale Theatre.
  • Born May 23, 1933 Margaret Aldiss. Wife of Brian Aldiss. She wrote extensively on her husband’s work including The Work of Brian W. Aldiss: An Annotated Bibliography & Guide. He in turn wrote When the Feast is Finished: Reflections on Terminal Illness, a look at her final days. She also co-edited the A is for Brian anthology with Malcolm Edwards and Frank Hatherley. (Died 1997.)
  • Born May 23, 1935 Susan Cooper, 87. Author of the superb Dark is Rising series. Her Scottish castle set YA Boggart series is lighter in tone and is just plain fun. I’d also recommend her Dreams and Wishes: Essays on Writing for Children which is quite excellent.  The Grey King, part of The Dark is Risk series, won a Newbery, and she received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the World Fantasy Convention.
  • Born May 23, 1941 Zalman King. OK he’s best known for The Red Shoe Diaries which are decidedly not genre and indeed are soft core erotica but even that isn’t quite true as some of the episodes were definitely genre such as “The Forbidden Zone” set in a future where things are very different, and “Banished” which deals with an Angel now in mortal form all on Earth. I’m betting there’s more fantasy elements but I need to go through sixty episodes to confirm that. Denise Crosby appeared in two episodes of the Red Shoe Dairies playing the different characters, Lynn ‘Mona’ McCabe in “The Psychiatrist”  and Officer Lynn ‘Mona’ McCabe in “You Have the Right to Remain Silent”. Zalman himself played Nick in “The Lost Ones” episode on The Land of The Giants and earlier was The Man with The Beard in the Munsters episode of “Far Out Munsters”. His final acting genre gig was on The Man from U.N.C.L.E. as Gregory Haymish in “The Cap and Gown Affair”. (Died 2012.)
  • Born May 23, 1979 Brian James Freeman, 43. Horror author. Novels to date are Blue November StormsThis Painted Darkness and Black Fire (as James Kidman). He’s also done The Illustrated Stephen King Trivia Book (superbly done) which he co-authored with Bev Vincent and which is illustrated by Glenn Chadbourne. He publishes limited edition books here.
  • Born May 23, 1986 Ryan Coogler, 36. Co-writer with Joe Robert Cole of Black Panther which he also directed. He will directed Black Panther: Wakanda Forever to be released this year. Producer, Space Jam 2, producer of the announced Wankanda series on Disney+. Black Panther was nominated at Dublin 2019: An Irish Worldcon, the year that Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse won the Hugo. 

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • Crankshaft finds photos from the wrong kind of rover.

(12) A FRESH LOOK AT S&S. Oliver Brackenbury talks about feminism and sword and sorcery with pulp scholar Nicole Emmelhainz on his So I’m Writing a Novel podcast: “Sword & Sorcery & Feminism, with Nicole Emmelhainz”.

This covers things like Weird Tales Magazine, Robert E. Howard and Conan, Jirel as “Alice in Wonderland with a big sword”, Howard and Lovecraft’s correspondence with each other as well as fellow Weird Tales writers like Moore, S&S writing as “an opportunity to expose gender as fundamentally performative in nature”, growth and change in Conan, the flexibility of sword and sorcery, what Nicole sees as the necessary qualities for an S&S story to be feminist, defying gender roles, the body as a vessel for victory, S&S as a very body-centric genre, good old barbarism vs civilization, queer possibilities in S&S, an intriguing ambiguity in the ending of Black God’s Kiss, what might be a “trans utopic space” in sword and sorcery?, the potential for expanding the space of sword & sorcery along lines of gender & sexuality, cozy fantasy, and more!

(13) YOU HEARD IT HERE LAST. The BBC reports that a 1698 book predicting alien life in the solar system has been discovered in the UK: “Rare book predicting alien life discovered in Cotswolds”.

…The book, lengthily entitled The Celestial World Discover’d: Or, Conjectures Concerning the Inhabitants, Plants and Productions of the Worlds in the Planets, Huygens questions why God would have created other planets “just to be looked” upon from Earth….

(14) GIVE CREDIT TO GENRE. The Cultural Frontline episode “Breaking the boundaries of fiction” is available at BBC Sounds.

How novelists working across popular genres like crime, horror and fantasy are overcoming literary snobbery to get their work the credit it deserves and broaden the definition of what makes truly great writing. 

South Korean horror writer Bora Chung, shortlisted for the 2022 International Booker Prize, tells us what it means to see her work, a type of fiction often dismissed in her country as commercial and not ‘pure literature,’ nominated for the prestigious award. 

Crime novelists from two very different countries, Deon Meyer in South Africa and Awais Khan in Pakistan, discuss with Tina Daheley why theirs is a misunderstood genre, one with the capacity to offer a social critique, and even change society for the better, all in the process of telling a great story. 

Critically acclaimed New Zealand fantasy novelist Elizabeth Knox shares the magic of imagining fantastical new worlds, and how writing and reading fantasy can help us come to terms with traumatic experiences. 

(15) IT IS A VERY GOOD YEAR. Glasgow In 2024 have commissioned Pixel Spirits to craft our own bespoke gin called “GIn2024”. (Only available for delivery in the UK, they say: “Sadly, for now, different hurdles make it very difficult to ship internationally. We’ll make sure to keep all Gin lovers updated though, in case this changes.”)

Using the finest Science Fiction & Fantasy inspired botanicals, GIn2024 is rich and zesty, perfectly balanced with a subtle astringency and refined sweetness; exploring a taste journey out-of-this-world!

We have two sizes of bottles available, 70cl and 20cl and both have labels designed by our bid artists Sara Felix and Iain Clark.

Pricing and shipping: VOL 70cl for £37; VOL 20cl for £15; Postage to a UK address: £4.45 per bottle; ABV: 43%

The two bottles have different artwork on their labels. On the 70cl bottle, ‘The Suffragette Tree, Glasgow’ by the BSFA Award-winning artist, Iain Clark. And on the 20cl bottle, an armadillo design by the Hugo Award-winning artist, Sara Felix. Sara is taking inspiration from the Armadillo auditorium at the SEC in Glasgow, where the Glasgow bid aims to host the Hugo awards as part of Worldcon in 2024.

(16) MOON SHOT. NASA Astronaut Thomas Marshburn reads Goodnight Moon from the International Space Station, and Mark Vande Hei answers questions.

Watch as astronaut Thomas Marshburn reads out loud from the children’s book “Goodnight Moon” by Margaret Wise Brown while floating in microgravity aboard the International Space Station. Also, Astronaut Mark Vande Hei joins Thomas to answer questions sent to them. This video was featured as a part of the Crayola and Harper Kids “Read Along, Draw Along” event to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the book’s publication.

(17) NEW ALASDAIR BECKETT-KING VIDEO. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Orson Welles has risen from the grave to denounce Sonic the Hedghog!

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

Pixel Scroll 5/9/22 Listen: There’s A Hell Of A Good Pixel Next Door; Let’s Scroll

(1) RAMBO ACADEMY. Cat Rambo asks:

Want to move from promising rejections to actual acceptances? The Rambo Academy for Wayward Writers offers live and on-demand classes as well as a virtual campus featuring daily co-working sessions, weekly story discussion, and other Zoom-based social events and a Discord server for chatting with other writers and exchanging story critiques.

She has just released the latest round of classes, and people can find details here She will also be adding a Nisi Shawl class on August 25, which will be up on the website as soon as possible). There’s also a giveaway for a live class. “All the June-August Classes, Plus Some Others! And a Delightful Giveaway.”

(2) BLUE WATERS. Variety introduces “’Avatar 2′ Trailer: James Cameron’s Long-Awaited Sequel”.

After 13 years and numerous delays, 20th Century Studios has finally released a glimpse into James Cameron’s “Avatar 2,” due Dec. 16. This marks the long-awaited sequel to the highest-grossing film of all time. The sequel’s official title is “Avatar: The Way of Water.”…

(3) CORA BUHLERT NEWS. Best Fan Writer nominee Cora Buhlert’s Hugo Voter Packet submission is now online as a free download for those who want to check it out or get a headstart on their Hugo reading: 2022 Hugo Voter Packet.

Cora also has been a guest on the Retro Rockets podcast and was interviewed by Andrea Johnson of Little Red Reviewer: “RetroRockets With Cora Buhlert”.

(4) A RIVERDALE UPDATE. [By Martin Morse Wooster.] BEWARE SPOILERS. Riverdale is currently under the control of Percival Pickens, an evil British person who became mayor with the aid of Betty’s mother, Alice Cooper. Pickens has decided he wants Archie and the gang to return overdue library books, and if the characters don’t return an exact copy of the book they checked out decades ago they will have to pay thousands of dollars in fines and possibly serve prison time.  He asks all of the characters to give him something personal as collateral–Archie’s guitar, Betty’s diary.  Jughead offers to give up his signed copy of Don DeLillo’s Underworld, but instead gives a copy of a book written by his grandfather.

Pickens is a sorcerer who uses these personal treasures as tools to control Archie and his friends.  Luckily Jughead uses his internet skills, and fans of Manhattan’s Strand Bookstore will find the Strand is namechecked here. Jughead finds copies of the overdue books, and Pickens returns the items. Cheryl Blossom says the only way to break the spell is for everyone to throw the possessed items in a fire and burn them.

Jughead doesn’t want to burn his grandfather’s book.  “It’s a book and I won’t burn it,” he says. “What would Ray Bradbury say?”

(5) MERRIL COLLECTION PODCAST. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] The new season of the Unknown Worlds of the Merril Collection podcast kicks off with host Oliver Brackenbury discussing sword and sorcery with Brian Murphy: “Sword & Sorcery”.

Upcoming subjects on the Unknown Worlds of the Merril Collection podcast are:

  • Scifi Digests
  • Haunted Houses
  • Norse Mythologies
  • Alternate Histories
  • Graphic Novels
  • Beyond Lovecraft
  • Folklore and the Four Winds Storytellers Library

New episodes drop every two weeks.

(6) LAUNCHING A MAGAZINE. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] On his personal podcast So I’m Writing a Novel, Oliver Brackenbury interviews Nat Webb, who just started a new fantasy magazine: “Founding a Literary Magazine, with Nat Webb”.

Returning champion Nat Webb joins us to discuss his recent founding of a literary magazine, Wyngraf!

Their discussion covers alternate titles for the magazine, defining cozy fantasy & backpack fantasy, conflict in stories and other things that can drive story, writing delicious food scenes, the cozy fantasy scene on Reddit and elsewhere, getting into short stories, his first submission and rejection and what he learned from it all, self-publishing a novel, discovering a love for the technical side of publishing, taking submissions in for the first time, putting one of your own stories in your own magazine, being transparent about the numbers behind your business, paying forward all the writing advice you’ve been given, working with an artist on a cover commission, choosing to pay authors and how much, deciding how often to release new issues, the importance of actually finishing a project, knowing when to stop with a project, Legends and Lattes and other reading recs, refreshing sincerity vs ironic distance, “coffee shop AU” explained, “numbies” explained, how sometimes the thing you bang out quickly resonates with people far more than the thing you slaved over forever, ins and outs of the Kindle Select program, the merits of publishing flash fiction, and more!

(7) JEWISH HERITAGE IN HORROR. The Horror Writers Association blog has posted two more Q&As in one of its thematic interview series:

What has writing taught you about how to express your Jewishness or the experiences you’ve had as someone who is Jewish?

I have been writing about stories for as long as I can remember. As a student, I took many courses analyzing literature, and one thing that always came up was applying a “Jesus” lens to stories. As a kid who grew up in the Jewish tradition, spending 2 days a week at Hebrew school, and having most of my family’s social life revolve around the synagogue, I had to teach myself about Jesus in order to keep up in these classes and add to the discussion. Interestingly, I never thought of this as problematic; it was just the way things had to be, I thought. This is a common issue for those with marginalized identities; systemic oppression means we must conform, and yet we don’t question that we have to.

Do you make a conscious effort to include Jewish characters and themes in your writing and if so, what do you want to portray?

The book I wrote immediately after Bird Box is called Bring Me the Map, and with that one I was thinking in terms of “Jewish horror story.” I was thinking lofty then, that I might write the essential Jewish horror novel, as The Exorcist seems to be that for Catholics. But the book changed organically as it went, and became less about Judaism and more about this family affair, but still, Jewish characters, all. And one of my more recent books, Forever Since Breakfast, is absolutely Jewish-centric. I’m hoping both these books come out soon. And, yes, it was a conscious effort to highlight Jewish characters in both. No doubt. And it felt good to do so. I should probably examine what that means and do it more often.

(8) DELANY IN NYT. [Item by Steven Johnson.] “Samuel R. Delany’s Life in Books” is a feature/interview on Samuel Delany in the New York Times T Magazine, April 24. The quote I liked best: “My library makes me comfortable.” And I do not recall the anecdote about reading Bob Kane Batman comics at a critical age. 

(9) PÉREZ FAREWELL. The New York Times has published its obituary for a famous comics writer and artist: “George Pérez, Who Gave New Life to Wonder Woman, Dies at 67”.

…Mr. Pérez was also at the helm of the 1986 reboot of Wonder Woman, which presented the character, who had originally appeared in 1941, as a new superheroine. His version was younger, and he leaned into the Greek mythology rooted in her origin story.

“Wonder Woman had to rise or fall based on me,” Mr. Pérez said in a telephone interview in December. “It was a great success that gave me an incredible sense of fulfillment.”

His editor on the series, Karen Berger, said in an email, “What set George apart on Wonder Woman was that he really approached the character from a woman’s perspective — I found her relatable and authentic.” Patty Jenkins, the director of the “Wonder Woman” films, cited this version of the character as an influence…

(10) MEMORY LANE.

1973 [By Cat Eldridge.] Forty-nine years ago, Soylent Green was in general distribution in the States. (It had premieres earlier in LA and NYC, respectively, on April 18th and April 19th.) 

The film was directed by Richard Fleischer who had previously directed Fantastic Voyage and Doctor Doolittle, and, yes, the latter is genre. Rather loosely based off of Harry Harrison’s Make Room! Make Room! Novel, it starred Joseph Cotten, Chuck Connors, Charlton Heston, Brock Peters, Edward G. Robinson in his final film role, and Leigh Taylor-Young. 

The term soylent green is not in the novel though the term soylent steaks is. The title of the novel wasn’t used according to the studio on the grounds that it might have confused audiences into thinking it a big-screen version of Make Room for Daddy. Huh? It’s worth noting that Harrison was not involved at all in the film and indeed was was contractually denied control over the screenplay. 

So how was reception at the time? Definitely mixed though Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Tribune liked it: “Richard Fleischer’s ‘Soylent Green’ is a good, solid science-fiction movie, and a little more. It tells the story of New York in the year 2022, when the population has swollen to an unbelievable 80 million, and people live in the streets and line up for their rations of water and Soylent Green.” 

Other were less kind. A.H. Weiler of the New York Times summed it up this way: “We won’t reveal that ingredient but it must be noted that Richard Fleischer’s direction stresses action, not nuances of meaning or characterization. Mr. Robinson is pitiably natural as the realistic, sensitive oldster facing the futility of living in dying surroundings. But Mr. Heston is simply a rough cop chasing standard bad guys. Their 21st-century New York occasionally is frightening but it is rarely convincingly real.“

Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a sixty percent rating. It was nominated for a Hugo at DisCon II, the year Sleeper won.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born May 9, 1920 William Tenn. Clute says in ESF that “From the first, Tenn was one of the genre’s very few genuinely comic, genuinely incisive writers of short fiction, sharper and more mature than Fredric Brown and less self-indulgent in his Satirical take on the modern world than Robert Sheckley.” That pretty sums him up I think.  All of his fiction is collected in two volumes from NESFA Press, Immodest Proposals: The Complete Science Fiction of William Tenn: Volume I and Here Comes Civilization: The Complete Science Fiction of William Tenn: Volume II. He’s very, very well stocked at the usual suspects. (Died 2010.)
  • Born May 9, 1920 Richard Adams. I really loved Watership Down when I read it long ago so will not read it again so the Suck Fairy may not visit it. Are any of the various Watership animated affairs worth seeing? Reasonably sure I’ve read Shardik once but it made no impression one way or the the other.  I have heard good things about Tales from Watership Down and should add it my TBR pile. (Died 2016.)
  • Born May 9, 1925 Kris Ottman Neville. His most famous work, the novella Bettyann, is considered a classic of science fiction by no less than Barry Malzberg who wrote a detailed remembrance in Locus. He wrote four novels according to ISFDB over a rather short period of a decade and a number of short story stories over a longer period. Clute at EoSF says that “He was one of the potentially major writers of Genre SF who never came to speak in his full voice.” (Died 1980.)
  • Born May 9, 1926 Richard Cowper. The Whit Bird of Kinship series is what he’s best remembered for and I’d certainly recommend it as being worth reading.  It appears that all of here are available from the usual digital suspects. (Died 2002.)
  • Born May 9, 1936 Albert Finney. His first genre performance is as Ebenezer Scrooge in Scrooge. That’s followed by being Dewey Wilson in Wolfen, a really deeply disturbing film. He plays Edward Bloom, Sr. In the wonderful Big Fish and voices Finis Everglot in Corpse Bride. He was Kincade in Skyfall. He was Maurice Allington in The Green Man based on Kingsley Amis’ novel of the same name. A deeply strange affair. Oh, and he played Prince Hamlet in Hamlet at the Royal National Theatre way back in the Seventies! (Died 2019.)
  • Born May 9, 1951 Geoff Ryman, 71. His first novel, The Unconquered Country, was winner of the World Fantasy Award and British Science Fiction Association Award. I’m really intrigued that The King’s Last Song is set during the Angkor Wat era and the time after Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge, grim times indeed for an SF novel. And let’s not overlook that The Child Garden which bears the variant title of The Child Garden or A Low Comedy would win the Arthur C. Clarke Award for Best SF Novel. 
  • Born May 9, 1979 Rosario Dawson, 43. First shows as Laura Vasquez in MiB II. Appearances thereafter are myriad with my faves including being the voice of Wonder Woman in the DC animated films, Persephone in Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief and her take as Claire Temple across the entire Netflix Marvel universe. She played Ahsoka Tano on The Book of Boba Fett on Disney + in “From the Desert Comes a Stranger” which has led to her being the lead in upcoming Ahsoka Tano series on the same streaming service. (Editorial comment: I wish I liked the Star Wars universe well enough to subscribe to Disney + to see all of this stuff  but I really don’t.) 

(12) COMICS SECTION.

(13) WHICH IS IT? “Whether you think it’s one of the best sci-fi movies ever or one of the worst, you’re never going to forget it.” An Inverse writer considers the possibilities: “25 years ago, Bruce Willis made the most divisive sci-fi movie ever”.

… The initial response to The Fifth Element, which celebrates its 25th anniversary on May 7th, was divisive. It was recognized just as much at Cannes and the Oscars as it was the Razzies. Even those who appeared in its gleefully insane world have contrasting opinions, with Milla Jovovich hailing it as “one of the last hurrahs of epic filmmaking” and Gary Oldman admitting he “can’t bear it” and only signed up for the paycheck….

(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] In which SNL host Benedict Cumberbatch discovers the multiverse is real. At least in TV Land. “The Understudy”.

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Cora Buhlert, Steve Johnson, Cat Rambo, Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Patrick Morris Miller.]

Pixel Scroll 4/30/22 Those Who Cannot Remember Past Pixel Scrolls Are Doomed To Re-File Them

(1) CAT RAMBO AT FUTURE TENSE. The new entry from Future Tense Fiction, a monthly series of short stories from Future Tense and Arizona State University’s Center for Science and the Imagination about how technology and science will change our lives. Cat Rambo’s “The Woman Who Wanted to Be Trees” at Slate.

“For someone like me,” Nefirah’s client said, “it’s not a question of whether or not I’ll be remembered. The question is precisely how.”…

Tamara Kneese, an expert on the digital afterlife, delivers a response in her essay “Is a Lasting Digital Memorial to a Dead Person Even Possible?”

I’m a death scholar and a sustainability researcher at a major tech company, so Cat Rambo’s “The Woman Who Wanted to be Trees” hit home. In the story, a death care worker is asked to memorialize clients in innovative ways, using cutting-edge technologies to blur the boundaries between life and death, and between humans and the natural world. For the past 15 years, I have been researching how people use technology to remember and communicate with the dead. My forthcoming book, Death Glitch: How Techno-Solutionism Fails Us in This Life and Beyond, explores the fundamental incompatibility between dreams of technologically mediated life extension and the planned obsolescence of material technologies…. 

(2) AUTHOR MAGNET. The inaugural Santa Fe Literary Festival will take place May 20-23, at the Santa Fe Community Convention Center in Santa Fe, NM. The authors who are scheduled to appear include Margaret Atwood, Sandra Cisneros, John Grisham, Joy Harjo, Anne Hillerman, Craig Johnson, Phil Klay, Jon Krakauer, Emily St. John Mandel, George R.R. Martin, N. Scott Momaday, James McGrath Morris, Douglas Preston, Rebecca Roanhorse, Bob Shacochis, Colson Whitehead and Don Winslow.

Besides author readings and book signings, the festival will feature meals during which chefs and food writers will talk about the food they’ve prepared, their work and their books; Walk & Talks, during which attendees and authors will together explore parts of Santa Fe; and Tea & Tequila, featuring tea and tequila tastings. On Monday, the last day of the festival, attendees will be able to go on literary day trips in Santa Fe and nearby areas in northern New Mexico.

(3) FRESH VIEWPOINT. Artists & Climate Change’s “Wild Authors: Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki” is a Q&A with a 2022 double-Hugo-nominee and editor of The Year’s Best African Speculative Fiction (2021)

In your short story “Mercy of the Wild,” you wrote from the viewpoint of a lion. What inspired that story?

“Mercy of the Wild” was a point of experimentation for me. I love to experiment with forms and styles or speculative fiction, and that was one such experiment that I was delighted to follow up on. The story was inspired by an almost childlike, wide-eyed curiosity about what goes on in the minds of the creatures we share the planet with. What if we heard their story, from the horse’s mouth so to speak. Or as the Igbo proverb says, “Until the lion learns to tell its story, the hunt will always glorify the hunter.” This got me wondering, what if the roles were reversed? Its telling impresses on me the need for people of diverse cultures to champion and find spaces for their stories to thrive in the world of today.

(4) GREAT LEAP FORWARD.  Cora Buhlert was a guest on the Dickheads podcast (as in Philip K. Dick) and discussed “‘The Big Jump’ – Leigh Brackett” with Grant Warmack and host David Agranoff.

In the first episode of this podcast, Solar Lottery, David said he would someday do this episode. So four years later, in January of this year, he sat down with a couple of colleagues and discussed the lesser-known novel The Big Jump by Leigh Brackett. The pair of talents he was privileged to have here are newcomer to Leigh Brackett writer/music manager/tarot reader Grant Wamack and long time ‘Bracketteer’ teacher/translator/writer and three time Hugo nominee Cora Buhlert. Enjoy.

(5) S&S: Here is more about the nascent New Edge sword and sorcery movement: “New Edge S&S Guest Post: Oliver Brackenbury” at Scott Oden’s blog.

[Scott Oden:] I put out the call, a few days ago, for a few guest posts relating to the New Edge of Sword & Sorcery. And here is our first victim . . . er, participant. Oliver is a podcaster, a screenwriter, and a novelist; he’s also one of the organizers of the whole New Edge movement. Oliver, you have the floor . .

[Oliver Brackenbury]: …I’ve been in conversations like that before, in other scenes and settings, and I thought “Wouldn’t be nice if all this energy was directed at really changing the situation?”. So I proposed an open, yet specific question – “What could we do to get more young people into this genre we all love?”.

Now, I can take credit for asking the question, but I cannot take credit for the incredible amount of energy I unwittingly tapped into by asking it. The conversation that took off was galloping and enthusiastic and good-natured and productive and WOW!

Scott Oden’s own thoughts about the movement appear in “Putting a NEW EDGE on an Old Blade”.

A genre can grow dull. The accretion of old social mores — the misogyny, racism, and homophobia of bygone eras — can oxidize a genre, making it seem as graceless as a barnacle-encrusted hunk of metal drawn from the sea. A genre’s founders can (and will) die, leaving less-invested imitators to tease out only the surface tropes while its deeper meanings are lost to the ages. And, over time, that genre starts to become irrelevant to the world at large.

In today’s fiction market, this is largely the fate of sword-and-sorcery. Mainstream publishers are loath to market a work as S&S because they consider it a dead end market. Readers less concerned with genre labels use the term nowadays to describe any book with swordplay and magic, from Tolkien to Pratchett — and they’re unaware that it has (or had) a very specific meaning. In short, the term sword-and-sorcery has lost its edge. It has rusted, and is stuck in a very old and problematic scabbard.

There is, however, a nascent movement that has started in the small press sphere to remove that blade from its sheath, to clean the rust from it, sharpen it on a grinding wheel, and fashion a new scabbard — one free from the old problems of the genre. That movement is called the NEW EDGE of S&S….

(6) SUBGENRE GETS NEWSLETTER SOURCE. There’s now also a free weekly sword and sorcery newsletter with the delightful name “Thews You Can Use” from Sword & Sorcery News. It just started.

This week’s Roundup will be a little different—not that you’d know, since it’s the first. Rather than covering the week in S&S news, I’ll go back over the last couple months. Here’s a quick roundup of S&S news from February through April…. 

(7) MURDERBOT AND POLICY. The New America website will hold a gathering of its Science Fiction/Real Policy Book Club to discuss All Systems Red on June 1 at 6:00 p.m. Eastern. Register here.

Science fiction can have real policy impacts, and comes rife with real-life commentary. For the next, we have selected All Systems Red by Martha Wells.

The novel explores a spacefaring future in which corporate-driven exploratory missions rely heavily on security androids. In Wells’ engaging – at times funny – tale, one such android hacks its own system to attain more autonomy from the humans he is accompanying. The result is a thought-provoking inquiry into the evolving nature of potential human-robot relations.

Join Future Tense and Issues in Science and Technology at 6pm ET on Wednesday, June 1 to discuss the novel and its real-world implications. The book club will feature breakout rooms (they’re fun and stress-free, we promise) where we can all compare notes and share reactions, even if we didn’t finish the book (though we picked a short one this time!).

(8) SPACE FORCE OFFICIALLY GROUNDED. I hadn’t realized the show wasn’t already canceled. Well, it is now: “Netflix cancels Steve Carell sci-fi comedy ‘Space Force’” reports SYFY Wire.

…In addition to Carell as General Mark Naird, the show also starred an A-list supporting cast of John Malkovich (Dr. Adrian Mallory), Ben Schwartz (F. Tony Scarapiducci), Tawny Newsome (Captain Angela Ali), Lisa Kudrow (Maggie Naird), and Diana Silvers (Erin Naird). 

That group is chock full of talent, which may have been part of its downfall — according to THR, the show’s large budget was reportedly in part because of the actors’ salaries, with Carell getting over $1 million per episode. That much built in spending, along with mixed reviews for both seasons, apparently resulted in a failure for Space Force to (ahem) launch into a third season…. 

(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1938 [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.] Not his official appearance as Bugs Bunny that will happen in “A Wild Hare” on July 27, 1940. But a preliminary version of the character we now know as him first showed up in “Porky’s Hare Hunt” eighty-four years ago today. The Looney Tunes cartoon was directed by Ben “Bugs” Hardaway (do note his name) and an uncredited Cal Dalton. It stars Porky Pig as a hunter whose quarry is a rabbit named Happy. Yes, Happy.

Oh, I well know that most Bugs Bunny fans will tell you that July 27 is the day that he was created as that is the anniversary of the 1940 debut of the familiar rabbit and his adversary, Elmer Fudd. In that July debut people also heard for the first time Bugs’s famous line, “What’s up, Doc?”

But today is the real anniversary of the creation of this character.  He first appeared on the theater short called as I noted above “Porky’s Hare Hunt.” Perhaps the reason people don’t recognize, or indeed want to credit him as that rabbit, is Bugs in that early cartoon was credited as Happy Rabbit. And admittedly it really looks pretty much like any rabbit save the smirking face, doesn’t it? Or does he? 

It’s been uploaded to YouTube so go watch it. It may not look like him but it acts like him and it sounds like him. Several sources state that Mel Blanc voiced him here but the cartoon itself has no credits.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born April 30, 1930 Bill Buchanan. A musician who was not a filker but might have been. Really. Truly. His most famous composition took place in 1956, when he and Dickie Goodman created the sound collage “The Flying Saucer”.  They then did “The Flying Saucer Goes West” which is a lot of fun. A short time later, they would do “The Creature (From A Science Fiction Movie)” / “Meet The Creature (From A Science Fiction Movie)”. With other collaborators, he did such works as “Frankenstein Of ’59/Frankenstein Returns”.  Checking iTunes, quite a bit of what he did is available. (Died 1996.)
  • Born April 30, 1938 Larry Niven, 84. One of my favorites author to read, be it the Gil Hamilton the Arm stories, Ringworld, Protector, The Mote in God’s Eye with Jerry Pournelle (The Gripping Hand alas didn’t work for me at all), or the the Rainbow Mars stories which I love in the audiobook version as you know since I wrote an essay on them. What’s your favorite Niven story? And yes, I did look up his Hugos. “Neutron Star” was his first at NyCon followed by Ringworld at Noreascon 1 and in turn by “Inconstant Moon” (lovely story) the following year at L.A. Con I,  “The Hole Man” (which I don’t remember reading) at Aussiecon 1 and finally “The Borderland of Sol” novelette at MidAmericaCon. He’s not won a Hugo since 1976 which I admit surprised me. 
  • Born April 30, 1968 Adam Stemple, 54. Son of Jane Yolen. One time vocalist of Boiled in Lead. (Which I just discovered has not released a recording in a decade. Damn.) He was the lead vocalist for Songs from The Gypsy which was based on The Gypsy, the novel written by Steven Brust and Meghan Lindholm. A truly great album.  With Yolen, he’s written the Rock ‘n’ Roll Fairy TalesPay the Piper and Troll Bridge which are well worth reading, plus the Seelie Wars trilogy which I’ve not read. He’s also written two Singer of Souls urban fantasies which I remember as quite engaging.
  • Born April 30, 1973 Naomi Novik, 49. She wrote the Temeraire series which runs to nine novels so far. Her first book, His Majesty’s Dragon, won her the Astounding Award for Best New Writer. She most deservedly won the Nebula Award for Best Novel for Uprooted which is a most excellent read. I’ve not yet read her Spinning Silver novelwhich won a Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature, so opinions are welcome. She has a number of Hugo nominations starting at Nippon 2007 for His Majesty’s Dragon, then next at MidAmericaCon II for Uprooted, The Temeraire series at Worldcon 75. No wins yet which really, really surprises me. She’s twice been a finalist for Lodestar Award for Best Young Adult Book with A Deadly Education at DisCon III for  and this year at Chicon 8 for The Last Graduate.
  • Born April 30, 1982 Kirsten Dunst, 40. Her first genre role was as Claudio in Interview with the Vampire. Later genre roles include Judy Shepherd in Jumanji, voicing Christy Fimple in Small Soldiers, voicing Becky Thatcher in The Animated Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Mary Jane Watson in Spider-Man franchise, voicing Kaena in Kaena: The Prophecy, and showing up on Star Trek: The Next Generation as Hedrilin in the “Dark Page” episode. She would have been nine years old in that episode!
  • Born April 30, 1985 Gal Gadot, 37. Wonder Woman of course in the DC film universe. Other genre work, well, other than voicing Shank on Ralph Breaks the Internet, there really isn’t any. She did play Linnet Ridgeway Doyle in the Kenneth Branagh production Death on the Nile which is quite lovely but not genre adjacent, but I really don’t mind as they’re lovely mysteries. Oh, and she’s playing The Evil Queen in the forthcoming Snow White film.
  • Born April 30, 2003 Emily Carey, 19. Yes, nineteen years old. She has had a lot of roles for her age. First she played the twelve-year-old Diana in Wonder Woman followed by playing  the fourteen-year-old Lara in the rebooted Tomb Raider.  And then she’s in Anastasia: Once Upon a Time in the lead role of Anastasia.  She’s Teen Wendy Darling in the forthcoming The Lost Girls. She was in the genre adjacent Houdini and Doyle as Mary Conan Doyle, and finally she’s in the not-yet-released G.R.R. Martin’s House of the Dragon series as the young Alicent Hightower. 

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) CHALK AROUND THE CLOCK. The Pasadena Chalk Festival returns June 18-19 at The Paseo.

The Pasadena Chalk Festival began in 1993 after a summer intern at the Light Bringer Project attended a street painting festival in Paris and brought back her amazing pictures and observations. The first “Chalk on the Walk” took place at Centennial Square at Pasadena City Hall with over 150 visual artists participating in the first Los Angeles-area event. All proceeds went toward community arts programs and HIV/AIDS resources.

In 2010, The Pasadena Chalk Festival was officially named the largest street painting festival by the Guinness World Record, welcoming more than 600 artists using over 25,000 sticks of chalk and drawing a crowd of more than 100,000 visitors in one weekend. 

Below is an hour-long video of last year’s Chalk Festival. And here is File 770’s roundup of sff art from the 2019 festival via Twitter.

(13) DON’T SAY PAY. The Florida legislature’s move to punish Disney for publicly opposing the “Parental Rights in Education” bill, also known as the “don’t say gay” bill fails to conform to other requirements of state law says the corporate giant: “Disney’s special tax district suggests its repeal is illegal” in the Miami Herald.

As Florida legislators were rushing through passage of a bill to repeal the special district that governs Walt Disney World last week, they failed to notice an obscure provision in state law that says the state could not do what legislators were doing — unless the district’s bond debt was paid off. Disney, however, noticed and the Reedy Creek Improvement District quietly sent a note to its investors to show that it was confident the Legislature’s attempt to dissolve the special taxing district operating the 39-square mile parcel it owned in two counties violated the “pledge” the state made when it enacted the district in 1967, and therefore was not legal. The result, Reedy Creek told its investors, is that it would continue to go about business as usual.

The statement, posted on the website of the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board on April 21 by the Reedy Creek Improvement District, is the only public statement Disney has supplied since lawmakers unleashed their fury over the company’s vocal opposition to the “Parental Rights in Education” law, also known as the “don’t say gay” bill. The statement, first reported by WESH 2, quotes the statute which says, in part, that the “State of Florida pledges…it will not limit or alter the rights of the District…until all such bonds together with interest thereon…are fully met and discharged.”

… In essence, the state had a contractual obligation not to interfere with the district until the bond debt is paid off, said Jake Schumer, a municipal attorney in the Maitland law firm of Shepard, Smith, Kohlmyer & Hand, in an article for Bloomberg Tax posted on Tuesday and cited in a Law and Crime article.

The law passed by the Republican Legislature on a largely party-line vote, and signed into law by the Republican governor, either violates the contract clause of the Florida Constitution, or is incomplete, Schumer told the Herald/Times on Tuesday. If the Legislature wants to dismantle the Reedy Creek Improvement District, it has more work to do.

(14) FLY YOU FOOLS! J. Michael Straczynski would like to tell you about the worst musical he ever saw. Thread starts here.

(15) DO TOUCH THAT DIAL. Tor.com’s Robert Repino beggars the imagination by reminding readers about “Six Bizarro Made-for-TV SFF Movies That Actually Exist”. Such as —

Gargoyles (1972)

Not to be confused with the prematurely canceled ’90s cartoon of the same nameGargoyles starred B-movie tough guy Cornel Wilde (from The Naked Prey). The opening voiceover raises the stakes pretty high: In the aftermath of the war between God and Satan, a race of creatures climbs out of hell to terrorize mankind every few centuries. In the modern age, the gargoyles are relegated to myth and statues, leaving humans completely unprepared for their next onslaught.

Whoa. That sounds serious. Until you notice that the gargoyles reemerge in a desert that is surely within driving distance of the studio. And it takes only a handful of armed townsfolk to quell the apocalyptic uprising. But those minor details aside, this movie remains a guilty pleasure for my generation, in part because of the Emmy-winning makeup wizardry of Stan Winston. The gargoyles aren’t that scary, but they look pretty darn cool, and some of them even fly. And by “fly,” I mean “slowly lift off the ground with a barely concealed cable.”

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Alasdair Beckett-King meets the evil emperor, who wonders why the people don’t love him!

What do you do when you’ve seized power and/or purchased a large social media company? You monologue.

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Cora Buhlert, 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 Cliff.]

Pixel Scroll 3/1/22 I Claim This Pixel In The Name Of Mike! Isn’t That Lovely, Hmm?

(1) AUTHORS AND PUBLISHERS RESPOND TO INVASION OF UKRAINE. Shelf Awareness did a roundup of industry statements of support, and announcements of stronger actions.

PEN International released a letter signed by more than 1,000 writers worldwide, expressing solidarity with writers, journalists, artists and the people of Ukraine, condemning the Russian invasion and calling for an immediate end to the bloodshed.

“We, writers around the world, are appalled by the violence unleashed by Russian forces against Ukraine and urgently call for an end to the bloodshed,” the letter stated. “We stand united in condemnation of a senseless war, waged by President Putin’s refusal to accept the rights of Ukraine’s people to debate their future allegiance and history without Moscow’s interference.

“We stand united in support of writers, journalists, artists, and all the people of Ukraine, who are living through their darkest hours. We stand by you and feel your pain.

“All individuals have a right to peace, free expression, and free assembly. Putin’s war is an attack on democracy and freedom not just in Ukraine, but around the world.

“We stand united in calling for peace and for an end to the propaganda that is fueling the violence. There can be no free and safe Europe without a free and independent Ukraine. Peace must prevail.”


The Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals issued a statement of solidarity and support for librarians, archivists and information professionals in Ukraine, noting: “We are gravely concerned at the threat posed by this action to the safety of the Ukrainian people, their heritage and identity, as well as to the security of our professional colleagues.


A statement of support, signed by Juergen Boos, director of the Frankfurt Book Fair, responded to a joint public appeal from the Baltic cultural organizations representing book creators, publishers and other professionals to end all cooperation with institutions of the Russian Federation.

“The organizers of the Frankfurt Book Fair strongly condemn Russia’s attack on Ukraine ordered by President Putin,” Boos wrote. “Against the backdrop of the Russian Federation’s invasion of Ukraine, a violation of international law, the Frankfurt Book Fair is suspending cooperation with the Russian state institutions in charge of organizing the Russian collective stand at Frankfurter Buchmesse. The Frankfurt Book Fair assures the Ukrainian publishers’ associations of its full support.”

The appeal was signed by the Lithuanian Culture Institute, the Latvian Literature/the International Writers and Translators house, the Estonian Literature Centre, Publishers Associations and Writers Unions in all three counties, the Lithuanian, Latvian, and Estonian sections of the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY), and the Estonian Children’s Literature Centre.


Publishers Weekly adds this news: “Ukraine Update: Bologna Blocks Russia, Ukrainians Call for Global Boycott”.

Today, the organizers of the Bologna Children’s Book Fair announced that, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Fair has, “with immediate effect,” suspended cooperation with all Russian state institutions in charge of organizing the Russian collective stand for the upcoming fair, which is scheduled for March 21-24. Last week, Bologna officials condemned the Russian attack, but had stopped short of blocking Russian participation in the fair.

(2) RUSSIAN SFF WRITER WHO OPPOSES THE WAR. An anti-war and pro-Ukraine article by Russian sff author Dmitry Glukhovsky has been published in Die Zeit, a major German weekly paper: “Ukraine: Antirussland”. If you’re willing to take your chances on a machine translation from German to English, a copy can be downloaded here.

… I have visited Ukraine many times, both before and after 2014. With each passing year, the difference between our two countries has become more and more clear to me. Ukraine was and remains a very free country. A country whose social and political life has always been characterized by chaos. It bears a strong resemblance to the Russia of before Vladimir Putin took office, and the longer Putin was in power, the clearer the differences became. From year to year in Russia order increased and freedom decreased. Today the difference to Ukraine is enormous. Russia is a police state with an almost dictatorial order. And there is almost as much freedom left here as in a dictatorship. Ukraine, on the other hand, has actually become a kind of anti-Russia: despite the chaos and total corruption, it is an example of a functioning democracy. During the elections, power shifted from one political-financial conglomerate to the other. When one of the parties tried to usurp power, people took to the streets demanding justice. In contrast, no real opposition has been admitted to the Russian elections for 20 years….

(3) TRACKULA. BBC Radio 4 has reprised “The Trainspotter’s Guide to Dracula”, a 2017 production. Listen at the link.

“3 May. Bistritz. Left Munich at 8:35 P. M, on 1st May, arriving at Vienna early next morning; should have arrived at 6:46, but train was an hour late.”

The first line of Bram Stoker’s Dracula makes it clear what the novel will be about: trains. As the book begins, the English solicitor Jonathan Harker is travelling across Europe by train, en route to meet his mysterious new Transylvanian client, complaining all the way about the late running of the service. “It seems to me that the further East you go the more unpunctual are the trains. What ought they to be in China?”

In the Trainspotter’s Guide to Dracula, Miles Jupp uses Bram Stoker’s novel as it has never been used before, as a train timetable, following its references to plot a route across Europe by rail to Dracula’s castle in Transylvania.

Will Miles be able to reach Dracula’s castle more quickly than Harker did, or will his journey be dogged by discontinued services, closed lines and delays?

(4) YOUNG AT ART. At Young People Read Old SFF, James Davis Nicoll subjects his panel to a Fritz Leiber story that merges sff with chess.

This month’s selection is SF stalwart Fritz Leiber’s Midnight by the Morphy Watch, which as it happens I have not only read but read recently. I was not much impressed by the anthology that contained this story but I did like the Leiber…. 

However, if there is one thing I’ve learned from the nearly seven years I’ve been curating Young People, it is that the overlap between my opinions and the Young People’s is often well short of one hundred percent. Let’s see what they thought. 

(5) FOURTH STEP. Brandon Sanderson says “It’s Time to Come Clean”. “This is because something irregular has happened in my career lately, and I need to let you know about it.”

(6) KICK STEP. Sanderson’s confession leads into this Kickstarter – “Surprise! Four Secret Novels by Brandon Sanderson by Dragonsteel Entertainment” – which has already exceeded its $1 million goal and has raised almost $8 million with 30 days remaining.

Over the last two years, a group of ideas wormed their way into my brain and I found I couldn’t let them go. Despite all of my other obligations, I had to write these stories. So I squeezed them in during moments of free time, crafting four brand new novels. I’m extremely proud of them, as each represents some new aspect of storytelling that has forced me to grow in an interesting way. Each also takes you to someplace new, original, and vibrant. Three of these are Cosmere books taking place on new worlds, and the other one is something completely different.

(7) FOCUS ON RELATED WORK. Cora Buhlert has posted the next Non-Fiction Spotlight and interview with Abraham Riesman, author of True Believer: The Rise and Fall of Stan Lee.

Tell us about your book.

It’s the first complete and unvarnished look at the life of the man born Stanley Martin Lieber. You know him as Stan Lee, the writer/editor who brought Marvel Comics to the world, changed global popular culture, and became an unmistakeable icon. But beyond those broad strokes, most of what the world knew about Stan Lee was false….

…It’s a story of overreach; of a man who achieved so much, yet always boasted of more. It’s a story of obsession; of the birth of modern fandom and its ripeness for manipulation. Above all, it’s a story of ambiguity; of the fact that certain moral judgments and factual assertions can never be made with certainty. Living with that ambiguity is the great challenge of understanding the life and impact of Stan Lee.

(8) LOST AND FOUND. James Davis Nicoll draws a bead on “5 Classic SF Stories About Lost Home Worlds” at Tor.com.

The End of Eternity by Isaac Asimov (1955)

In one sense, Andrew Harlan knows exactly where Earth is. Although he and the other agents of Eternity live outside time, they can and do visit Earth almost any time they care to. Literally. The Eternals monitor and shape Earth’s history over a 70,000 century span. This paradoxically means Harlan can never return to the Earth he grew up on, because Eternity’s incessant tweaking of history to bring about a perfect, stable world means that version of Earth has long since been overwritten.

Harlan knows he can never go home. What he can do is allow himself to be drawn into an ill-fated romance with Noÿs Lambent, who is beautiful, irresistible, and as far as the skilled Eternal can ascertain, slated to be erased from history as an unintended but unavoidable side effect of Eternal tampering. Harlan is determined to save the woman he loves at any cost. Any cost may mean the very existence of Eternity itself…

(9) FOR YOUR VIEWING. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] Matt Davis reviews The Spine Of Night, a 2021 fantasy film that deserves more attention, at Grimdark Magazine.

I’ve just come back from a trip. It wasn’t entirely long, but it was certainly very strange, and I won’t be forgetting it any time soon. The Spine of Night is a surreal, blood-soaked fever dream of epic proportions that recalls esoteric animated classics like 1981’s Heavy Metal Ralph Bakshi’s animated adaptation of Lord of the Rings. It unfolds a fantastical and outrageously violent saga throughout the course of its runtime, a story that touches on at times deeply philosophical themes of truth, knowledge, and the futility of existence. At times, The Spine of Night is even profoundly nihilistic—but also beautiful, and thoughtful….

(10) SMITH OBIT. Jeff Smith – the North Carolina fan, not the Filer – died February 28 after a short battle with liver cancer. He was a 2019 Rebel Award winner who chaired numerous StellarCon and MACE gaming conventions.

(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1989 [Item by Cat Eldridge] Thirty-three years ago this evening on CBS, the Hard Times on Planet Earth series first aired. It was one of those ubiquitous midseason replacements that networks are so fond of doing when a series they started the season with was a failure. This one had an alien soldier who rebelled against his empire doing penance in a human body (surprise). Originality wasn’t really a thing here even though Michael Piller was involved for three episodes.

The cast was Elite Military Officer (yes that’s how he’s named in the credits) played by Martin Kove, and Control, voiced by Danny Martin, and depicted as a small floating robot.

It was created by the brother Jim and John Thomas who previous has written the screenplays for Predator and Predator 2, though they would later write the Wild Wild West. Ooops. Reception for this was hostile to say the lies with People Magazine critic saying of this particular Disney product, “About 20,000 RPM—that’s how fast I reckon Walt Disney must be spinning in his grave with shows like this on the air.”  And the Sun Sentinel reviewerreally hated it:  “The youngest Nielsen demographic starts at 2-year-olds. Even the slowest of developers would be too sophisticated at 24 months for Hard Time on Planet Earth. There hasn’t been a more insultingly stupid, utterly worthless series since Misfits of Science.”

Normally I’d give you its rating on Rotten Tomatoes but apparently it has gotten even a dedicated fan base or CBS has kept it locked away deep in their digital vaults since its initial airing. 

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 1, 1915 Wyman Guin. Ok, occasionally doing these Birthdays results in me being puzzled and this is one of those times. In 2013, he was named as recipient for the Cordwainer Smith Rediscovery Award at ReaderCon 24. When I look him up, I find that he wrote a single novel and seven stories according to the folks at ISFDB. I’ve not read him. So, was he that good? Should I seek out his novel, The Standing Joy, and add it to my reading list? His short stories are available at the usual digital publishers, but the novel still isn’t. (Died 1989.)
  • Born March 1, 1918 Roger Delgado. The first Master in the Doctor Who series and still my favorite. The role was written especially for him. He would appear only with the Third Doctor as he died in car crash in Spain. Other genre appearances were Quatermass IIDanger ManThe Mummy’s Shroud and First Man into Space. (Died 1973.)
  • Born March 1, 1930 Eddie Hice. New to the Birthday list for being one of the original Red Shirts on Star Trek. He appeared in two episodes, first as a Red Shirt in “The Day of The Dove” and then having the same role in “Wink of an Eye”. I don’t recall either episode well enough to remember his fate in those stories. He had an extensive genre history showing in Batman twice, including once playing The Riddler, he was in Get Smart nine times, six as an actor and three as stunt double (his career as a stunt double was much longer and extensive than his acting career), The Beastmaster and voice work on the animated Lord of The Rings. (Died 2015.)
  • Born March 1, 1938 Michael Kurland, 84. The Unicorn Girl which he pennedis the middle volume of the Greenwich Village trilogy by three different authors, the other two being by Chester Anderson and T.A. Waters. Kurland has also written other genre novels including Ten Little Wizards and A Study in Sorcery, set in the world of Garrett’s Lord Darcy. His other genre novels are Ten Years to Doomsday (written with Chester Anderson), Tomorrow KnightPluribus and Perchance. All three of the Greenwich Village trilogy are available from the usual suspects. 
  • Born March 1, 1946 Lana Wood, 76. She’s best remembered as Plenty O’Toole in Diamonds Are Forever. She was in The Wild Wild West as Vixen O’Shaughnessy in “The Night of the Firebrand” and as Averi Trent in “The Night of the Plague” episodes. She was in both of the CBS televised Captain America films playing Yolanda, and she was still active in the genre as little five years ago playing a character named Implicit in Subconscious Reality. Be very suspicious that all the Amazon reviews of the latter are five stars. Though it does get a fifty three percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. 
  • Born March 1, 1950 David Pringle, 72. Pringle, with Malcolm Edwards and Ian Watson, edited Foundation: The Review of Science Fiction from the late late Seventies through the mid Eighties. He helped found Interzone, and the 2005 Glasgow Worldcon committee gave Pringle a Special Award for his work on the magazine. Besides his various guides to the genre such as The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Fantasy, I see early on that he did a lot of work on J.G. Ballard such as Earth Is the Alien Planet: J. G. Ballard’s Four-Dimensional Nightmare and J. G. Ballard: A Primary and Secondary Bibliography
  • Born March 1, 1952 Steven Barnes, 70. Co-writer with Larry Niven of the Dream Park series. I read the first two when they came out thirty years ago, not bad at all. Their Heorot series isn’t bad either. I’ve not read him on his own so cannot say how he is as a solo writer. I see he’s got a lot of series writing having done work for The Outer LimitsAndromeda and Stargate SG-1

(13) COMICS SECTION.

(14) BEHIND CLOSED DOORS. Bob Byrne’s series about how the famous detective spent his time during the plague year continues at Black Gate: “Nero Wolfe’s Brownstone: Stay at Home – Day 38”.

…I know a lot of people, staying at home all day, every day, are eating a lot more then they normally do. But since Nero Wolfe rarely leaves the house, there hasn’t been a change in his habits. Sometimes he wants more beer than he should have, but that’s got nothing to do with the pandemic. I’ve made sure to get my walk in at least every other day, since Fritz’ cooking hasn’t fallen off a bit. I don’t need my pants size to go up during all this….

(15) THAT’S A SPACY MEATBALL. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Washington Post, John Kelly interviews NASA “multimedia liaison for film and TV collaboration” about the rules the agency has for working with film and television projects.  The agency “was heavily involved” with Hidden Figures, First Man, and The Martian, but refused to work with Life, a 2017 movie about an alien space bug that attacked astronauts.  The agency will also not approve use of its circular “meatball” (designed by James Modarelli in 1959) on “alcohol, food, cosmetics, tobacco, underwear, or technology.” “These days, everyone from filmmakers to fashionistas want to collaborate with NASA”.

… That’s where I saw him wearing what NASA-philes call the “Meatball,” the distinctive blue, star-filled circle, with a red swoop and a dot orbiting the letters “NASA.”That symbol seems to be cropping up everywhere. I saw characters wearing it in recent Spider-Man movies, in the new film “Don’t Look Up,” on various TV shows. What gives? The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is just another government agency headquartered in Washington. So is the National Archives and Records Administration, but you hardly ever see anyone wearing a NARA T-shirt in a blockbuster film….

(16) WHAT IT MEANS. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] The always excellent Rogues in the House podcast hosts a roundtable about the future of sword and sorcery: “Sword and Sorcery Round Table: Making sense of the S&S label.”

Sword-and-sorcery can be a confusing label, but the Rogues are determined to make sense of it. In the latest episode, they’re joined by experts of the genre – Scott Oden, Howard Andrew Jones, and Brian Murphy – for a roundtable discussion.

(17) BRINGING SHECKLEY TO THE SCREEN. The Take Me to Your Reader podcast, which discusses cinematic adpatations of SFF stories and novels, discusses the two adaptations of Robert Sheckley’s “The Prize of Peril.” Cora Buhlert has a brief guest appearance, talking about the brilliant West German adpatation from 1970: “Shot With a Happy Ending (The Prize of Peril, by Robert Sheckley)”.

This time, the guys take on some Robert Sheckley in non-English adaptations, namely the 1970 German TV film Das Millionenspiel and the 1983 French film Le Prix Du Danger. Both of these films were adapted from Sheckley’s 1958 short story “The Prize of Peril.”

Of course, we engaged a couple of our friends who were native speakers to help break down the movies. So huge thanks to Cora Buhlert for her excellent breakdown of the German movie, and Emmanuel Dubois for helping us with the French movie.

(18) THE COMING FURY. Tor.com’s Vanessa Armstrong tells readers “Here’s What We Know About the Furiosa Movie So Far”.

… Making Furiosa something other than a non-stop action movie has the benefit of letting us get to see and experience other parts of the Max Max world, including locales that were only mentioned in passing in the 2015 film. “When I started reading [the Furiosa script], I couldn’t put it down,” unit production manager Dan Hood says in Buchanan’s book. “It is going to be really, really good. You get to see Gas Town. You get to see the Bullet Farm. It’s exciting to be able to build that stuff.”

That’s right—you only have to wait a little over one-and-a-half years to see Miller’s vision of Gas Town and the Bullet Farm, places that young Furiosa undoubtedly frequented before she became the Charlize Theron version we saw in Fury Road….

(19) MAKING MEMORIES. Lisa Morton recently asked readers of her newsletter Every Day Is Halloween, “Did you know that several of the best horror movies of the 1940s were written by a woman?” Her name is Ardel Wray.

…One of the reasons you’ve likely never heard of Wray is that she fell victim to the scourge of McCarthyism – she refused to work with investigators to name suspected Communists in the film industry and so was “gray-listed,” meaning her career as a screenwriter was essentially over….

Bright Lights Film Journal profiled her: “Ardel Wray: Val Lewton’s Forgotten Screenwriter”.

During the wartime years of the 1940s, RKO Pictures produced a series of low-budget B-movie chillers that have since become classics of the genre, celebrated for their subtlety and intelligence despite the lurid titles imposed by the studio. Produced by Russian émigré Val Lewton, the films effectively kick-started the careers of venerated directors Jacques Tourneur, Mark Robson, and Robert Wise. Other well-known industry names such as writer DeWitt Bodeen also found fame as a result of their association with Lewton’s B unit, affectionately nicknamed “The Snake Pit.”

However, Ardel Wray, whose credits include I Walked with a ZombieThe Leopard Man, and Isle of the Dead, remains largely unrecognized, despite contributing to more Lewton projects than any other single writer and despite being the only female writer on his team. In addition, she co-wrote what is arguably the best of the RKO “Falcon” thriller series, and wrote the original screenplay for the unproduced Boris Karloff/Val Lewton historical mystery Blackbeard the Pirate….

(20) AND THEN THE OTHER SHOE DROPPED. Yesterday, Disney announced it would not open some new movies in Russia due to the Ukranian situation, but the industry thought it was too late to expect Warner Bros. to halt this week’s opening of The Batman. But no! “’The Batman’ Pulls Russia Release” says The Hollywood Reporter.

Warner Bros. has pulled The Batman from its Russian release calendar at the eleventh hour. The decision comes as Russia continues its invasion of Ukraine and follows Disney’s move to pause its upcoming releases in the country.

“In light of the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, WarnerMedia is pausing the release of its feature film The Batman in Russia,” a WarnerMedia spokesperson said in a statement. “We will continue to monitor the situation as it evolves. We hope for a swift and peaceful resolution to this tragedy.”…

(21) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Trailers: The Book of Boba Fett,” the Screen Junkies note that Boba Fett only had four lines in the first three Star Wars movies.  But in this show we learn Boba Fett is a bald fat guy who takes a lot of naps, spends way too much time in the bathtub, has many, many “space meetings” and has a gang led by people on space Vespas.  Thankfully, in chapter 5 the Mandalorian shows up to kick down doors and make a chain mail shirt for Baby Yoda.  But there is a scene where we see what happens when you get a Wookie drunk and give him brass knuckles!

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Rich Lynch, Chris Barkley, Cora Buhlert, Giant Panda, Jennifer Hawthorne, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jayn.]

Pixel Scroll 2/24/22 The Naming Of Scrolls Is A Difficult Matter. It Isn’t Just One Of Your Pixel-File Games

(1) BONDS OF EUROCON. The editors of SF2 Concatenation are mindful of the fans affected by the Russian invasion:

(2) REALITY CHECK OR CHECK ON REALITY? [Item by Cora Buhlert.] Pulp scholar Jason Ray Carney talks about the value of escapist reading and sword and sorcery at the LA Review of Books“Reading Sword-and-Sorcery to Make the Present Less Real”. (For some reason, the LA Review of Books felt the need to illustrate the essay with a Weird Tales cover that’s not for a sword and sorcery story.)

 …Whether we read to engage or to escape reality, we continue to read fiction because it provides us with an experience that cannot be satisfied by other means. Additionally, as a cultural practice, reading fiction has taken on a quasi-spiritual aura; it has become a secular ritual, not unlike mindfulness meditation, that is robustly encouraged by its proponents. One recalls the Orwellian “READ” posters that have been published by the American Library Association since 1985, the most recent a rendering of Channing Tatum, holding a copy of Peter Pan, standing in front of a glittering star field. Evoking the imperious command of alien billboards in John Carpenter’s They Live — obey, marry, reproduce, consume — these posters celebrate reading as an activity of unquestionable social value and say nothing about what is real. Why not read fiction to escape the real?…

(3) LIVING BY THE SWORD. Oliver Brackenbury interviews Dariel Quiogue, a Filipino author of Asian based sword and sorcery or sword and silk, in episode 34 of the So I’m Writing a Novel podcast: “Interview with Dariel Quiogue – So I’m Writing a Novel…”

…Their discussion covers portrayal of war elephants in history and stories, Alexander the Great being a war criminal to some, Carter & De Camp (and Nyburg) Conan tales, Howard Lamb’s Khlit the Cossack stories (a huge influence on Robert E Howard), drawing from Asian history for his stories – including an intriguing alternate path for Genghis Khan, wanting to write more fiction based in where you’re from, being anxious about a lack of experience to the world limiting your fiction, how late in history Dariel feels you can set a story and still have it feel like sword & sorcery, the “Sword & Sorcery attitude”…

(4) APPENDIX N(ORTON). [Item by Cora Buhlert.] The good people of Goodman Games continue their series of profiles of classic SFF authors. Jim Wampler profiles Andre Norton: “Adventures in Fiction: Andre Norton”.

… Norton’s influence on adventure gaming and its creators was not accidental. She often employed a recurring motif in her books in which the protagonist begins as an outsider or “other”, and through dedicating themselves to a perilous journey in the wilderness, eventually becomes a fully-realized heroic figure. The parallels to the level advancement and experience point systems of early role-playing games is obvious….

And Michael Curtis profiles Margaret St. Clair — “Adventures in Fiction: Margaret St. Clair” – focusing almost exclusively on those two novels by her which are listed in the Appendix N of the original D&D Dungeon Master’s guide, even though St. Clair wrote so much more. But Goodman Games is an RPG company, so I guess that’s fair.

…Margaret St. Clair is an interesting figure, one whose work is largely overlooked in the present age. St. Clair was one of only three women authors who appeared on Gygax’s list of influential writers and their works. During both the Golden and Silver Ages of fantasy fiction, the field was dominated by white males, so much so that the now-often derided pronouncement on the back cover of the Bantam Books 1963 printing of The Sign of the Labrys (“Women are Writing Science Fiction!”) was actually somewhat shocking. The fact that Appendix N includes three women authors is a testimony to the breadth of Gary’s reading….

(5) HOW WORLDCON GOHS ARE CHOSEN. Esther MacCallum-Stewart of the Glasgow in 2024 Worldcon Bid has written a thoughtful post about the committee’s process for picking their prospective GoHs: “From the Chair: Selecting Our Guests of Honour”.

5. The selection team and the chair’s team then met to decide a Short List, based on the recommendations of the committee, but also considering several other criteria which allowed flexibility in looking at the list:

  • Who will represent Glasgow in 2024’s vision of Inclusion, Caring and Imagination best?
  • Who could present an indicative picture of science fiction and fantasy in 2024?
  • Who might make an interesting Guest of Honour, able to participate to the best of their ability and help create a fun, exciting contribution to a Worldcon in Glasgow 2024?
  • What other elements, like involving local voices, varied perspectives and contemporary discussions, should these Guests represent?
  • How might the Guests of Honour look as a group? (more on this later)

6. Phew! This seems like a lot, but at last there is a short list, and since this process is still happening, I’m expecting it to be about 30 names. We’re ready to start making the decision.

(6) ATWOOD ON BBC RADIO 4. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Margret Atwood was on an episode of BBC Radio 4’s Women’s Hour this week with a 15 minute interview. Topics included when did women’s status fall and how
the right purloins left tools.

The programme is downloadable from here for a month after which it will be available on BBC Sounds.

Margaret Atwood’s latest collection of essays, Burning Questions, gathers together her essays and other occasional non-fiction pieces from 2004 to 2021. She is the author of more than fifty books of fiction, poetry and critical essays. Her novels include Cat’s Eye, The Robber Bride, Alias Grace, and The Blind Assassin which won the Booker prize in 2000. Her 1985 classic, The Handmaid’s Tale, was followed in 2019 by a sequel, The Testaments, which was also a Booker Prize winner (with Bernadine Evaristo’s Girl, Woman, Other). Margaret joins Emma to talk about culture wars, free speech, feminism, grief and being in your 80’s.

(7) CLONE ARRANGERS. Edward Ashton names books by Tiptree, Simak, and Mur Lafferty while recommending books about clones and replicants at CrimeReads: “Eight Books About What It Means to be Human”.

Six Wakes, by Mur Lafferty

It’s probably a lucky thing that I didn’t read this book until after I’d finished writing Mickey7, because Six Wakes begins in a very similar place—clones, mind-mapping, immortality, an interstellar colonization mission—but then takes off in a wildly different direction….

(8) CLOTHES FOR THE OCCASION. Hypebeast shares a fashion display as “Disney Launches Official ‘Star Wars’ Galactic Starcruiser Merchandise”.

…Offered by the boutique located just off the Atrium of the Halcyon, “The Chandrila Collection” will allow you and your family and friends to fully embrace the world of science-fiction and fantasy with futuristic garments inspired by some of the most iconic characters and factions from the epic franchise. From hooded black dresses and saber-training tunics to mechanics’ jumpsuits and starship captains’ jackets, the collection carries something for every fan. You’ll also find the classic white Princess Leia dress as well as a cloak inspired by Padmé Amidala’s royal wardrobe….

There’s a video here of The Chandrila Collection – some philistines would call it a commercial, I’m sure.

(9) JEOPARDY! As usual, the wrong Jeopardy! questions are the most entertaining. Andrew Porter saw this one tonight.

Final Jeopardy: Fictional Families

Answer: Introduced in the 1930s in The New Yorker, they’ve appeared on TV & Broadway & in live action & animated films.

Wrong question: Who are the Von Trapps?

Correct question: Who is The Addams Family?

(10) KELLERMAN OBIT. Actress Sally Kellerman, whose many roles included a Star Trek appearance, has died at the age of 84. The New York Post profiled her career.

…Kellerman is also rooted in “Star Trek” history. Fans of the original series will remember her role as a psychologist in the third episode, “Where No Man Has Gone Before” — which actually was originally filmed as one of two pilots for the sci-fi series….

(11) MEMORY LANE.

2010 [Item by Cat Eldridge]  Jack Vance who I think I can say without fear of contradiction is beloved by all here won three Hugos. The first was at the first DisCon for “The Dragon Masters” which was originally published in the August 1962 issue of Galaxy, the second was at NyCon 3 for “The Last Castle” published in Galaxy in the April 1966 issue, and the third, and this one surprised me, was Best Related Work at Aussiecon 4 (2010) for This is Me, Jack Vance! (Or, More Properly, This is “I”)

His first Hugo nomination that didn’t result in a win was at Detention for “The Miracle-Workers”, published in Astounding in July 1958, his other nomination was a Retro Hugo at Millennium Philcon for The Dying Earth novel. 

His I-C-a-BeM novelette was longlisted at Seacon. His Ecce and Old Earth novel was likewise at MagiCon. If we’re being completists… Queen of Air and Darkness, I love databases! 

Dick Lupoff delivers Jack Vance’s 2010 Hugo.

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born February 24, 1909 August Derleth. He’s best known as the first book publisher of H. P. Lovecraft, and for his own fictional contributions to the Cthulhu Mythos (a term that S. T. Joshi does not at all like). Let’s not overlook him being the founder of Arkham House which alas is now defunct. I’m rather fond of his detective fiction with Solar Pons of Praed Street being a rather inspired riff off the Great Detective. (Died 1971.)
  • Born February 24, 1933 Verlyn Flieger, 89. Well-known Tolkien specialist. Her best-known books are Splintered Light: Logos and Language in Tolkien’s WorldA Question of Time: J. R. R. Tolkien’s Road to Faerie, which won a Mythopoeic Award, Tolkien’s Legendarium: Essays on The History of Middle-earth (her second Mythopoeic Award) and Green Suns and Faërie: Essays on J.R.R. Tolkien (her third Mythopoeic Award). She has written a YA fantasy, Pig Tale, and some short stories.
  • Born February 24, 1945 Barry Bostwick, 77. Best remembered for being Brad Majors in The Rocky Horror Picture Show. His first genre undertaking was the English language narration of Fantastic Planet. He voices the Mayor in The Incredibles 2. He also won a Tony Award for his role in The Robber Bridegroom, a play based off the Eudora Welty novella.
  • Born February 24, 1947 Edward James Olmos, 75. Reasonably sure the first thing I saw him in was Blade Runner as Detective Gaff, but I see he was Eddie Holt in Wolfen a year earlier which was his genre debut. Though I didn’t realize it as I skipped watching the nearly entire film, he was in The Green Hornet as Michael Axford. He has a cameo as Gaff in the new Blade Runner film. And he’s William Adama on the rebooted Battlestar Galactica. He has made appearances on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Eureka.
  • Born February 24, 1951 Helen Shaver, 71. Her SFF debut was as Betsy Duncan in Starship Invasions aka Project Genocide in the U.K. Though you’ve likely not heard of her there, you might have seen her as Carolyn in The Amityville Horror.  She’s Littlefoot’s mother in The Land Before Time, and Kate ‘White’ Reilly in the second Tremors film. She’s got one-offs in The Outer LimitsAmazing StoriesRay Bradbury Theater and Outer Limits to name but a few. And she was Dr. Rachel Corrigan in Poltergeist: The Legacy, a excellent series indeed. 
  • Born February 24, 1966 Billy Zane, 56. His genre roles include Match in Back to the Future and Back to the Future Part II, Hughie Warriner in Dead Calm, John Justice Wheeler in Twin Peaks, The Collector in Tales from the Crypt presents Demon Knight and the title role in The Phantom
  • Born February 24, 1968 Martin Day, 54. I don’t usually deal with writers of licensed works but he’s a good reminder that shows such as Doctor Who spawn vast secondary fiction universes. He’s been writing such novels first for Virgin Books and now for BBC Books for over twenty years. The Hollow Men, a Seventh Doctor novel he co-wrote wrote with Keith Topping, is quite excellent. In addition, he’s doing Doctor Who audiobooks for Big Finish Productions and other companies as well. He’s also written several unofficial books to television series such as the X Files, the Next Generation and the Avengers

(13) ARTHURIANA. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Washington Post, Molly Roberts says very few people were asking for the PBS animated series Arthur to end after 25 years with their characters aging two decades and the beloved cartoon aardvark turning into “a fledgling graphic novelist with an even less fledged goatee.” “Arthur grew up in the finale of his PBS show. It’s a betrayal.”

… PBS’s sendoff of his namesake show after a quarter-century of seasons unexpectedly age-accelerates its characters two decades or so. It’s a move undoubtedly designed to offer closure to fans from preschooler to professional. But maybe closure is exactly what we didn’t need.

To recap, for those too busy living adult life to dip back into the old days for the finale of the longest-running animated children’s series in history: The (non-)boy the New York Times dubbed “the world’s most popular student aardvark” has apparently become a fledgling graphic novelist with an even less fledged goatee. His sister, the perennial pest D.W., has become … a cop? Buster the bunny is a drably dressed teacher; self-proclaimed tough guy and secret softie Binky Barnes the bulldog is a journalist….

(14) MALTIN ON MOVIES. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] I heard this podcast Leonard and Jessie Maltin did with director Ken Kwapis, which is worth listening to for one very good anecdote about Jim Henson.  Kwapis directed Henson as a puppeteer in Sesame Street Presents:  Follow That Bird (which Leonard Maltin thinks is an underrated musical).  Jim Henson only had one request.  Before the shoot began, Henson asked everyone–cast and crew–to hold one arm high in the air for a minute. The reason: to give everyone a sense of what puppeteers had to do during a movie.

This is an entertaining hour, but most of what Kwapis directed is not genre.  Even though he directed all seven episodes of the second season of Space Force, he doesn’t have much to say about the show. “Maltin on Movies: Ken Kwapis”.

(15) THE WINTER OF THEIR DISCONTENT. “Patton Oswalt Slams Comixology Changes as Fans Call Out Amazon” reports Screen Rant.

…As Oswalt makes clear, with the changes, ComiXology has gone from being a dedicated hub for comics to just another tab for digital content in Amazon’s Kindle storefront. Whereas before the change, in addition to being a place where subscribers could “collect” and “curate” their digital collections, ComiXolgy provided a way for fans to explore the wonderful world of comics, manga, graphic novels in efficient and enjoyable manner.

Oswalt wasn’t the only one to find fault with the changes. Indeed, from hardcore fans to casual readers, from writers to gamers, the change seems to have struck a chord everywhere….

(16) JEFFERSONIAN STARSHIP. Politico tells “Why Musk’s biggest space gamble is freaking out his competitors”. “Starship is threatening NASA’s moon contractors, which are watching its progress with a mix of awe and horror.”

Elon Musk is planning yet again to rocket beyond the status quo. And if he succeeds, the aerospace giants that won the first space race may never catch him in this one.

Standing in front of the towering Starship rocket at Space X’s southwest Texas “Starbase” on Thursday night, Musk pledged that his most ambitious spaceship yet will make its first journey in the coming months….

Starship is designed to be the first all-purpose space vehicle: a reusable and refuelable spacecraft that can take scores of people and millions of tons of cargo from Earth directly to the moon and eventually Mars — and do it over and over again.

If he can pull it off, Musk’s previous breakthroughs — electric cars, reusable rockets for launching satellites, the first commercial space capsule to dock with the International Space Station — might seem, by comparison, to be modest achievements….

(17) DUSTING OFF HISTORY. Pollen leads to a picture of “The Uneven Sweep Of Black Death’s Assault On Europe” in a Nature article.

The historical pandemic known as the Black Death might not have been as devastating as was previously thought, an analysis of ancient pollen suggests.

Historians estimate that a wave of bubonic plague in the mid-1300s killed about half of the people in Europe, at a time when most lived in rural areas. To investigate the Black Death’s true toll, Alessia Masi at the Sapienza University of Rome and her colleagues analysed ancient pollen from 261 lakes and wetlands across Europe (pictured, a sampled bog in Poland). By assessing the varieties of pollen, the team determined whether fields and pastures had been abandoned after the plague and eventually replaced by forests.

Levels of pollen from species common in agricultural lands were much lower in many places, including France and central Italy, between 1350 and 1450 than during the previous 100 years. This suggests high mortality rates. But in other regions, including Ireland and much of eastern Europe, agricultural activities were stable and even expanded, suggesting that populations there were growing.

Factors such as weather and local economies might have caused the pandemic’s course to vary, the authors say.

(18) FELL WEAPON. Nature discusses a “Gift From Above: The Meteorite Origins Of King Tut’s Dagger”.

Chemical analysis of an iron dagger found in King Tutankhamen’s tomb has identified the type of meteorite from which the metal was derived — and suggests the knife might have been a gift from another ruler.

Tut reigned in the fourteenth century bc, before iron working was common in Egypt. Previous research identified an iron– nickel meteorite as the probable
source of the blade’s metal, but little was known about how the dagger was manufactured.

Tomoko Arai at the Chiba Institute of Technology in Narashino, Japan, and her colleagues mapped the metal’s elements by shining X-rays along the blade and analyzing the resulting fluorescence. They found that the nickel was distributed in a crosshatched pattern typical of a group of meteorites called octahedrites. The blade must have been forged at a relatively low temperature to retain the pattern and other meteorite specific features, they say….

(19) GALAXY CHEX QUEST. [Item by Ben Bird Person.] Artist/illustrator Will Quinn did this piece based on the 1996 computer game Chex Quest. According to Wikipedia, Chex Quest was included as a cereal prize in boxes of Corn Chex, Rice Chex, and Wheat Chex. “Daily bunny no.1676 is fighting for a balanced breakfast (A Patreon reward for @DrWho42!)”.

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

Pixel Scroll 10/22/21 I Must Not Scroll, Scroll Is The Pixel-Killer

(1) MCINTYRE FILM ADAPTATION COMING TO THEATERS. Moviegoers at last will be able to see the film based on the late Vonda McIntyre’s 1997 Nebula-winning novel The Moon and the Sun: “A Fantasy Blockbuster Shot In 2014 Is Finally Being Released” reports Looper. It arrives in theaters in January.

The Moon and The Sun actors Kaya Scodelario and Pierce Brosnan.

… However, one fantasy blockbuster’s release problems predate the worldwide pandemic by over half a decade. It’s a film that has been mysteriously missing ever since its production finished in 2014. That film was originally known as “The Moon and the Sun,” before it dropped off the radar ahead of its planned 2015 release date. The vanishing movie is based on the 1997 Nebula Award-winning novel of the same name by Vonda N. McIntyre (via Deadline). The family-friendly fantasy epic features Pierce Bronson in a lead role, and — had the film arrived on schedule — it would have been the realization of nearly two decades worth of effort to get the story to the big screen.

Obviously, “The Moon and the Sun” didn’t make its release date and lost the attention of both the media and moviegoers as it went into a lengthy post-production limbo. However, it seems that the film, which has been rebranded and renamed, is finally ready for a wide release and will be headed to theaters in early 2022. Here is everything fans need to know about “The King’s Daughter,” and why they’ve had to wait nearly six years to finally see it….

McIntyre got to see production shooting in France (“Vonda Visits Versailles”). A print reportedly was shown during her GoH slot at Sasquan in 2015.

(2) SAND THROUGH THE HOURGLASS. Alissa Wilkinson dissects “Dune’s expansive, enduring appeal” at Vox.

Harkonnens. Messiahs. Deadly, insect-like hunter-seekers. A secretive all-women order of spies, nuns, scientists, and theologians that’s bending history to its will. A spice harvested from an arid desert that enables space travel. ’Thopters. Interstellar war. Giant sand worms.

The world of Dune is a wild one, a tale spun by Frank Herbert in the tumultuous 1960s that mixes fear of authoritarian rule and environmental collapse with fascism, racism, and hallucinatory imagery. The 1965 novel, which eventually garnered widespread acclaim, was followed by a universe of sequels for its rabidly devoted fans. The trappings of its imagined, distant-future world feel wondrous, unfamiliar, and strange.

Or they would, if we hadn’t been steeped in Dune fever for so many years, even prior to the recent arrival of Denis Villeneuve’s extraordinary and resolutely abstruse film adaptation. Even the most Dune-averse person can hardly avoid the long tail of Herbert’s saga, whether they realize it or not.

The story has been referenced by pop stars like Lady Gaga, who made a sly nod to Dune in the “Telephone” music video, and Grimes, whose debut studio album, Geidi Primes, is a concept album based on Dune. Fatboy Slim’s song “Weapon of Choice,” the one with the music video starring Christopher Walken, is one big reference to the book (“Walk without rhythm / It won’t attract the worm”). Video games like Fallout and World of Warcraft contain references to Dune, as do plenty of TV shows from Scooby-Doo to Rick & Morty to SpongeBob SquarePants. There’s a crater on the moon officially named Dune, and some of the features on Saturn’s moon Titan have been named for planets from the series….

(3) A HOUSE DIVIDED. In the Washington Post, Michael Dirda offers his assessment of the book and film of DUNE and recalls his meeting with Frank Herbert in 1984. “’Dune’ has long divided the science fiction world. The new film won’t change that.”

… Unlike “Star Wars,” though, Villeneuve’s “Dune” isn’t a sparky, upbeat space opera. It’s more like a Wagnerian music-drama, a somber story built around intimations of doom and orchestrated with a soundtrack of pounding drums and high-pitched wailings and ululations. It is, however, packed with eye-popping visual spectacle, notably speedy little aircraft that resemble mechanical dragonflies and enormous space cruisers as sleek as any on the cover of an old issue of Thrilling Wonder Stories. Like Herbert’s book, the film is also deliberately majestic in its pacing and virtually without humor. Life is real, life is earnest and nobody has much fun. Instead, characters nobly pontificate or murmur gnomically about whether the young hero, Paul Atreides, is or isn’t the Kwisatz Haderach, the promised warrior prophet who will lead the tough and fiercely independent Fremen to victory over their brutal oppressors. Their cruelest enemy, the consummately evil Baron Harkonnen, symbolically dwells in darkness, surrounding himself with swirling smoke and completely hairless attendants. He is a grotesque vision of rampant, unbridled capitalism….

(4) DUNE VS. TATTOOINE. On This Day in Science Fiction delivers an assessment of this week’s cinematic history by comparing two sf epics with grit in “Stardate 10.22.2021.B: 2021’s ‘Dune’ Needed More Spice”.

… Paul means little to me.  Luke?  I get Luke.  I want to be Luke.  I’ll fly the Death Star trench with him, and I’ll gladly join him on Dagobah for secret Jedi training, or I’d even stand shoulder-to-shoulder in a blazing lightsaber battle with Emperor Palpatine if Luke asked me to.
 
But … Paul?
 
He’s Christlike … so what does he need me for?
 
Now, categorically, none of this lessens the strengths of what director Villeneuve accomplishes visually.  Clearly, he’s immersed himself in these worlds, and he’s spared no investor’s expense to bring them to life on the screen.  He’s taken the wide, open, endless desert seas of Arrakis and made them visual poetry – certainly real enough for fans of this franchise to enjoy again and again, much like Marvel fans flock to their superhero yarns for endless repeats.  He’s given breath to the political machinations of a galaxy that really only existed before in Herbert’s series of books in such a way that I’m sure folks will be reminded of Peter Jackson’s The Lord Of The Rings and HBO’s Game Of Thrones adaptations.  These ships and vehicles are unlike anything many have ever seen before, and I’m convinced these production designs will become influential in the years and decades ahead for other filmmakers who want to tackle similar challenges with the kind of scale employed here….

(5) A CHALLENGE FACED BY INTERNATIONAL WRITERS. Jason Sanford has posted a public Genre Grapevine column on his Patreon about the issues that international authors in Africa, parts of Asia and Latin America, etc… face to get paid for their work:  “Genre Grapevine Special Report: A Truly Global SF/F Genre Must Recognize the Financial Barriers Faced by Many International Authors and Creatives”.

…3. A fear that many people in the U.S.A., Canada and Europe don’t understand the financial barriers faced by those in other countries and that the hassles of arranging payments could cause some international authors and creatives to not have their works considered for publication in the first place.

That last point is a critical one to emerge from my interviews with more than a dozen authors, artists and creative people in countries such as Colombia, Australia, India, Nigeria, Brazil, South Korea, and Mexico, all of whom have experienced issues with receiving payments.

None of the people I spoke with knew of a single technical solution to the problems they’ve encountered with receiving payments. Instead, they spoke of worries about how the editors, publishers, and clients they’ve worked with in the U.S.A., Canada and Europe perceive these difficulties in receiving payments. It’s likely even their fellow authors and creatives in the U.S.A., Canada and Europe don’t generally understand these concerns.

In fact, most of the people I interviewed asked to remain anonymous because they feared harm to their career if they spoke publicly about the issue….

(6) REMEMBERING TRAGIC ACCIDENT VICTIM. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] Everybody is talking about Alec Baldwin, but the Guardian has a profile/obituary of Halyna Hutchins, the cinematographer Baldwin accidentally shot. Some of the films she worked on were genre. Plus, I think she deserves to be remembered as more than just a footnote: “Halyna Hutchins profile: a talented and passionate cinematographer”.

Halyna Hutchins was a talented and passionate cinematographer who was clearly enjoying her job as director of photography on Alec Baldwin’s latest cowboy movie.

Over the past three weeks, she posted photos on her Instagram account from the film’s rugged set in the foothills of New Mexico. They included vivid sunsets and a cast and crew picture in which Hutchins is standing next to Baldwin against the backdrop a log cabin.

There is also a short video clip taken on Wednesday in which Hutchins – wearing a grey scarf and wide-brimmed hat – sets off on horseback with colleagues. “One of the perks of shooting a western is you get to ride horses on your day off,” she wrote….

(7) FRIGHTENING ADVICE. Will Maclean shares some tips in writing scary ghost stories: “How to write scary ghost stories” at Writers Online.

The first and most important thing to remember when writing a ghost story is the difference between scariness and creepiness. You will need to deploy both moods, so it’s well worth giving the matter some thought.

The part of us concerned with pure scariness is indescribably ancient, concerned only with fight or flight, with survival. As such, we are only truly, properly terrified when we’re confronted with those same primal terrors that threatened us a million years ago – being alone, being watched, being hunted or chased or otherwise pursued, with deadly intent… that small stock of evergreen human nightmares is where the pure, visceral scares will always come from….

(8) ANATOMY OF A SUBGENRE. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] Bill Ward has an article about the intersection of cosmic horror and sword and sorcery at Goodman Games, who are a remarkably good source of SFF related articles: “The Cosmic Horror of Sword & Sorcery”.

… The bones of sword & sorcery lie close to the skin, and one sure blade-stroke is enough to lay them bare for all to see. There is plot-driven pulp action there, at the core, but supporting that is a foundation of swashbuckling historical adventure, and expectations of encounters of the picaresque and the exotic kind. To be sure we can also see the unsentimentality of the hardboiled, the individualism of the American experience, and a surprising dose of literary realism for a genre concerned with fantastic monsters, haunted crypts, and vampiric blades….

(9) FOUNDATION REVIEW. Camestros Felapton weighs in on “Foundation Episode 6”. As he says, spoilers follow.

The show has been taking its time by introducing the background and a broader plot about the fall of the Galactic Empire. However, if the pace was slow it was still moving. Episode 6 was a case of the show spinning its wheels without really going anywhere. There are some good bits but what momentum the story had in the previous episodes got caught up in dithering. Spoilers follow….

(10) YAKKO, WAKKO AND DOT. Hulu dropped this trailer for season 2 of Animaniacs yesterday.

“We’re so meta the shark jumped us!”

(11) SAME MOTIVE AS EVER, GETTING PAID. The Digital Antiquarian’s article about “I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream” begins with an expansive biography of author Harlan Ellison before turning to the game based on one of his stories.

… Ellison’s attitude toward computers in general was no more nuanced. Asked what he thought about computer entertainment in 1987, he pronounced the phrase “an oxymoron.” Thus it came as quite a surprise to everyone five years later when it was announced that Harlan Ellison had agreed to collaborate on a computer game.

The source of the announcement was a Southern California publisher and developer called Cyberdreams, which had been founded by Pat Ketchum and Rolf Klug in 1990. Ketchum was a grizzled veteran of the home-computer wars, having entered the market with the founding of his first software publisher DataSoft on June 12, 1980. After a couple of years of spinning their wheels, DataSoft found traction when they released a product called Text Wizard, for a time the most popular word processor for Atari’s 8-bit home-computer line. (Its teenage programmer had started on the path to making it when he began experimenting with ways to subtly expand margins and increase line spacings in order to make his two-page school papers look like three…)

(12) ANGEL OBIT. Legacy.com covers the career of the late “Jack Angel (1930–2021), voice actor in ‘Super Friends,’ ‘Transformers’” – who I remember listening to on KFI at the beginning of his career.

Angel got his start in the entertainment industry as a radio disc jockey in California. He worked in radio for almost 20 years before beginning his voice acting career on the popular Saturday morning cartoon “Super Friends.” Angel provided the voices of Hawkman, the Flash, and Super Samurai. He went on to perform in beloved cartoons including “The Smurfs,” “Scooby-Doo and Scrappy-Doo,” and “Spider-Man.” In 1985, Angel began voicing a number of characters for “The Transformers,” including Ramjet, Smokescreen, and Omega Supreme. He was the voice of Wetsuit in “G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero” and Dr. Zachary Darrett in “Pole Position” as well as providing a number of voices in “Voltron: Defender of the Universe.” Angel also worked in animated feature films, providing voices for many movies including “Beauty and the Beast,” “Aladdin,” “A Bug’s Life,” “The Iron Giant,” “Spirited Away,” and “Monsters Inc.” Angel was a U.S. Army veteran who served in Korea.

(13) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • 2006 – On this evening in 2006, Torchwood first aired on BBC Three before moving to BBC Two and finally to the level BBC One. A spin-off of Doctor Who which returned the previous year after a long hiatus, it was created by Russell T. Davies, the first Showrunner for the new Doctor Who. Its principal cast was John Barrowman, Eve Myles, Gareth David-Lloyd, Burn Gorman and Naoko Mori. Over five years, it would run for four series and forty-one episodes. I personally liked the first two series much better than the last two series. Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a most excellent seventy-four percent rating. Both BBC and Big Finish have continued the series in audio dramas. 

(14) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 22, 1919 Doris Lessing. The five novels collectively known as Canopus in Argos: Archives certainly established her genre creds. I personally would add her Cat Tales, three volumes of stories and nonfiction (Particularly Cats, Rufus the Survivor and The Old Age of El Magnifico) to your reading list.  (Died 2013.)
  • Born October 22, 1938 Derek Jacobi, 83. He played a rather nicely nasty Master in “Utopia”, a Tenth Doctor story. He’s played Metatron on Good Omens. And he was Magisterial Emissary in The Golden Compass. I’ll single out that he’s played Macbeth at Barbican Theatre in London as part of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre ensemble.
  • Born October 22, 1938 Christopher Lloyd, 83. He has starred as Commander Kruge in The Search for Spock, Emmett “Doc” Brown in the Back to the Future trilogy, Judge Doom in the most excellent Who Framed Roger Rabbit, and played a wonderful Uncle Fester in The Addams Family and the Addams Family Values. (Though I admit didn’t spot him in that makeup.) Let’s not forget that he was in The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension as John Bigbooté, and he played Dr. Cletus Poffenberger in a recurring role on Tremors.
  • Born October 22, 1939 Suzy McKee Charnas, 82. I’d say The Holdfast Chronicles are her best work to date. “Boobs” won the Best Story Hugo at ConFiction. Her Beauty and the Opéra or The Phantom Beast novelette was a nominee at LoneStarCon 2. She’s also won the Otherwise, Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature, Nebula, Gaylactic Spectrum, and Lambda Literary Awards. Any of you read her Sorcery Hall series? 
  • Born October 22, 1943 Jim Baen. Editor of Galaxy and If for three years. In late 1999, he started Webscriptions, now called Baen Ebooks, which is considered to be the first profitable e-book service. He also was the editor of Destinies and New Destinies which I remember fondly.  He was nominated for Best Editor Hugo five times between 1975 and 1981 but never won. At Nippon 2007, he’d be nominated for Best Editor, Long Form. (Died 2006.)
  • Born October 22, 1952 Jeff Goldblum, 69. The Wiki page gushes over him for being in Jurassic Park and Independence Day (as well as their sequels, The Lost World: Jurassic Park and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom and Independence Day: Resurgence), but neglects my favorite film with him in it, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension, not to mention the  Invasion of the Body Snatchers remake he was in. Well, I do really like Independence Day. Though not even genre adjacent, he’s got a nice run on Law and Order: Criminal Intent as Zack Nichols.
  • Born October 22, 1954 Graham Joyce. Selecting his best novel is a futile exercise as everything is fantastically good but I’ll single out Some Kind of Fairy Tale and The Tooth Fairy as the ones I found the most interesting reads. No Hugos not even a short list nomination but he’s won quite a few BFAs and one WFA for The Facts of Life novel. (Died 2014.)

(15) TANANARIVE DUE PROFILE. “Afrofuturist and horror writer Tananarive Due: ‘Invite more Black creators to the table’”. So she tells interviewer Roxane Gay at Inverse.

RG: You have this seemingly idyllic upbringing with both of your parents, loving family, surrounded by books. How do you develop an interest in writing horror?

TD: That’s also my mother. She was a huge horror fan. It’s only in recent years really since her loss, ironically, which has been the biggest trauma of my life that I’m thinking, “Ah, I wonder if her love of horror had a lot to do with the trauma she suffered, first growing up under Jim Crow then being subjected to state violence as a civil rights activist?” That monster on a screen, whether it’s Frankenstein or the Wolf Man, can represent the real-life trauma you have to stand up to. And you watch characters stand up to it even when they don’t understand it, even when they don’t know how to fight it.

(16) VONNEGUT ON FILM. Thom Dunn gets us ready to “Watch the trailer for the new Kurt Vonnegut documentary ‘Unstuck In Time’” at Boing Boing.

The upcoming documentary Kurt Vonnegut: Unstuck In Time looks pretty interesting if you (like me) are a fan of the late author. Filmmaker Robert Weide first approached Vonnegut in 1988 to propose the idea of a documentary, and they filmed on and off until Vonnegut’s death in 2007. As a result, the movie not only documents Vonnegut’s life and career, but also the evolution of the relationship between the two men. 

(17) SOURCES OF DUNE. Haris Durrani analyzes Herbert’s drawing on Islam in “The Muslimness of Dune: A Close Reading of ‘Appendix II: The Religion of Dune’” at Tor.com.

… I find the books’ engagement with Islam to transcend linguistic wordplay and obscure intertextuality. After all, Herbert was fascinated by linguistics and believed words shape substantive meaning. The use of “Voice” by the Bene Gesserit, an order of imperialist superhuman female breeders, is a prime example of this, as is the saga’s running obsession with symbols and myths. As these semiotic tools wield tremendous power within the Dune universe, Herbert’s references likewise generate a profound “Muslimness” that goes beyond mere orientalist aesthetics. (This is not to say that the Dune novels are not orientalist in other ways, which I have detailed elsewhere.) Dune does not cheaply plagiarize from Muslim histories, ideas, and practices, but actively engages with them….

(18) NOT THE EXPANSE. Astronomy Picture of the Day: “Lucy Launches to Eight Asteroids.”

(19) VERSATILE AARDVARK. Cat discovered recordings of six episodes of “Cerebus: The Radio Show” at the Internet Archive.

Comic book series created by Canadian cartoonist Dave Sim, which ran from December 1977 until March 2004. The title character of the 300-issue series is an anthropomorphic aardvark who takes on a number of roles throughout the series-barbarian, prime minister and Pope among them. The series stands out for its experimentation in form and content, and for the dexterity of its artwork, especially after background artist Gerhard joined with the 65th issue. As the series progressed, it increasingly became a platform for Sim’s controversial beliefs.

(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.]

“A Crewneck for Pete” on Vimeo, directed by Andy Mills, is about how you know it’s fall in New England, when the leaves turn and you drink cider straight from the jug.  But where is Pete going to find a cozy crewneck sweatshirt?

[Thanks to  JJ, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Rob Thornton, Will R., Cora Buhlert, Jason Sanford, Michael J. Walsh, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Rob Thornton.]

Pixel Scroll 9/22/21 Or I Will Scroll Thee In The Gobberfiles With My Pixelcruncheon, See If I Don’t!

(1) WORKING FOR THE MAN EVERY NIGHT AND DAY. Yesterday’s Scroll picked up The Mary Sue’s report that “Marvel Fired Joe Bennett After Alleged Anti-Semitic Cartoons”. Today Bounding Into Comics reports Bennett is now working for Vox Day’s Arkhaven Comics: “After Being Blacklisted By Marvel Comics, Joe Bennett Joins Arkhaven Comics”. That obviously wasn’t a hard decision for Bennett.

…In a press release, Arkhaven Comics notes they “did not hesitate to take advantage of Bennett’s unexpected availability, and promptly signed the former DC and Marvel illustrator as its lead artist on two series being written by legendary comics writer Chuck Dixon.”

Not only was Bennett the artist for Immortal Hulk, but his resume also includes Savage Hawkman, Deathstroke, and Arrow Season 2.5 among others at DC Comics. 

…Dixon, who has also been subject to a Marvel Comics blacklist since 2002, welcomed Bennett to Arkhaven Comics stating, “It’s a sign of where the American comic industry is at the moment that they would let a powerhouse talent like Joe Bennett go because his personal politics are not in line with their own.”

“I’m looking forward to working with Joe on both of the projects we have in motion at Arkhaven,” he added….

(2) BARBARIAN AT THE GATES. Funcom has purchased the Cabinet Group, which currently holds the trademarks to Conan and most other Robert E. Howard characters. This mainly affects comics and videogames, since there apparently are no movies, TV shows or new books in the works, although they say a game is in development. “Funcom Acquires Full Control of Conan the Barbarian and Dozens of Other IPs”.

…Funcom CEO Rui Casais said he has high ambitions for the IPs and noted at least one unannounced project is already in development. 

“We are currently overseeing the development of an unannounced game which will combine many of the characters in the Robert E. Howard universe,” said Casais. “And if you combine Funcom’s knowledge of games with Heroic Signatures’ knowledge of the TV/entertainment, publishing, and licensing industries, it makes us perfectly placed to take this venture to the next level. It’s exciting times ahead for us and for fans of the IPs.”… 

(3) BES&ST, Lavie Tidhar and Silvia Moreno-Garcia offer an overview of the best sword and sorcery fiction past and present at the Washington Post“Let’s talk about the best sword and sorcery books”.

Lavie: I love the original “Witcher” stories by Andrzej Sapkowski, collected in English as “The Last Wish” in 2007 and translated by Danusia Stok. They were originally published in the Polish magazine Nowa Fantastyka. I got to read “The Last Wish” in proof before it even came out, but I don’t know that anyone then expected it would become as big as it did. For a time, it was nearly titled “The Hexer” but, hexer or witcher, Sapkowski’s Geralt of Rivia is a worthy successor to its earlier influences….

(4) HE CALLED IT. Goodman Games has a post on Fritz Leiber and Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser by James Maliszewski: “Fritz Leiber, H.P. Lovecraft, and the Origin of Sword-and-Sorcery Stories”.

In the May 1961 issue of the fantasy fanzine Amra, future stalwart of Appendix N, Michael Moorcock, wrote a letter to the editor in which he proposed the term “epic fantasy” for the literary genre pioneered by Robert E. Howard in his stories of Conan the Cimmerian. In the July issue of that same year, however, Fritz Leiber offered another term in reply, writing, “I feel more certain than ever that this field should be called the sword-and-sorcery story.” Leiber elaborates a bit on his coinage, adding that this term “accurately describes the points of culture-level and supernatural element,” as well as being useful in distinguishing these stories from other popular pulp genres….

(5) WHAT BELONGS IN THAT BOX? Also at Goodman Games, — now that we have a name for these stories, how do we define sword and sorcery? Brian Murphy discusses the problem in “Sifting Through a Sword-and-Sorcery Definition”.

…But, in the same essay Moorcock began refining these broad parameters, focusing on a subset of fantasy stories “which could hardly be classified as SF, and they are stories of high adventure, generally featuring a central hero very easy to identify oneself with …. tales told for the tale’s sake… rooted in legendry, classic romance, mythology, folklore, and dubious ancient works of “History.” These were quest stories, Moorcock added, in which the hero is thwarted by villains but against all odds does what the reader expects of him….

(6) RACISM IN S&S. This isn’t new, but Charles R. Saunders’ famous essay “Die, Black Dog, Die” about the latent and not so latent racism in sword and sorcery and fantasy in general from the 1970s is available again online here: “Revisiting ‘Die, Black Dog!’” at Reindeer Motel. (It’s posted as a single image file, so no excerpt here.)

(7) BACKSTAGE TO THE FUTURE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster, Designated Financial Times Reader.] In the Financial Times, Sarah Hemming reviews Back To The Future: The Musical, which recently opened in London.  Roger Bart, who played Frankenstein in Young Frankenstein, plays Doc.

“As in the film, restless teenager Marty McFly escapes his humdrum home life by hanging out with doc and ends up taking the wheel of the DeLorean for an early voyage.  But he gets more than he bargains for when that voyage lands him back in 1955 and in the hugely awkward position of meeting his teenage mum–who promptly develops a crush on him.  Gale’s script gleefully replicates the film (with a few wise excisions, such as the Libyan terrorists), while relishing the irony that from 2021, 1985 looks like old hat and that, for many in the audience, the whole show is an exercise in nostalgia–coupled with curiosity to see time travel on stage…

…A mix of pastiche and sincerity characterises the show.  The songs (Alan Silvestri and Glen Ballard) channel the periods–such as a peppy Fifties number in praise of gasoline and DDT–and there’s a nice streak of self-mockery.”

The website for the show is Back to the Future the Musical.

(8) SUPER-OVERRATED. James Davis Nicoll has decided there are “Five Superpowers That Just Aren’t As Fun as They Sound”.

Who among us has not dreamed of having superpowers? We are urged thereto by the avalanche of comics, movies, novels, and roleplaying games featuring abilities beyond mortal ken. Yet not all superpowers are created equal. Some superpowers require secondary superpowers to survive.  Other abilities have disquieting consequences for their possessors.

I’m not going to talk about superhumans with powers that would kill them or their friends if exercised. No one dreams of being any of the following:

  • X-Bomb Betty (can self-detonate, producing a 150 million megaton explosion (once))
  • Hazmat (lethal radioactive aura)
  • Absorbing Man (can duplicate the properties of materials he touches; see footnote)

I’m talking, here, about powers that appear on their surface to be useful but later reveal themselves to be harmful to, or at least extremely alienating for, those who wield them. Below are my musings about five such examples…

(9) NOW, THE NEWS. Also, James Davis Nicoll recommends this comedy sketch on Tik-Tok as an interpretation of “the Canadian election seen through the lens of the Matrix”.

(10) GIANT PEACH OF A DEAL. Netflix now owns the rights to Roald Dahl’s stories. Roundup at Adweek: “Netflix Acquires Roald Dahl Story Company, Plans Extensive Universe”.

The U.S. streaming giant announced Wednesday it has bought the Roald Dahl Story Company, which manages the rights to the British novelist’s characters and stories. It comes three years after Netflix signed a deal to create a slate of new animated productions based on the works of Dahl. (CNBC)

Under the previous deal, Taika Waititi is working on Roald Dahl animated series projects for Netflix, covering Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and its sequel, Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator. That’s in addition to two different versions of Matilda, including a film version of Matilda the Musical and an animated series, plus plans to make a BFG cartoon. (The Verge)

(11) 1001, A FACE ODYSSEY. “What About the Heroine’s Journey?” asks the New York Times in its review of Maria Tatar’s The Heroine With 1,001 Faces.

…[Joseph] Campbell’s ideas have rippled out in the culture for decades — especially after a popular series hosted by Bill Moyers in 1988 — but he has long demanded a feminist response. It would be hard to conjure up a more suitable person to provide one than Maria Tatar, the Harvard professor who is one of the world’s leading scholars on folklore.

Her new book, “The Heroine With 1,001 Faces,” out this month from Liveright, is an answer to Campbell, though she is careful not to frame it as an assault. “Even though my title suggests that I’m writing a counternarrative, or maybe an attack on him, I think of it as more of a sequel,” Tatar said in a video interview from her home in Cambridge, Mass.

She is stirring what J.R.R. Tolkien once called the “cauldron of story” in search of the girls and women, some silenced and some forgotten, some from the Iliad and some from Netflix, who live in Campbell’s blind spot. The reader jumps from Arachne’s battle with Athena to the escape of Bluebeard’s trickster wife to Pippi Longstocking and Nancy Drew and even to Carrie Bradshaw typing away on her laptop.

(12) LIGHTEN UP. Sarah Gailey is joined by Sophie Lee Mae and Jaxton Kimble to play with this new writing prompt in “Building Beyond: That’s Just Super” at Stone Soup:

Exposure to fluorescent lights gives people a 98% chance of developing a superpower under conditions of duress.

(13) J. RANDOLPH COX (1936-2021). Randy Cox died in a nursing home on September 14 reports Mysteryfile.com. Cox edited The Dime Novel Round-Up for over 20 year. He wrote several books including Man of Magic & Mystery: A Guide to the Work of Walter B. Gibson, about the man who created The Shadow; Flashgun Casey: Crime Photographer, co-authored with David S. Siegel, about the character originally created for Black Mask by George Harmon Coxe; Masters of Mystery and Detective Fiction: An Annotated Bibliography;  and The Dime Novel Companion: A Source Book. He received the Munsey Award at PulpFest in 2014.

(14) MEMORY LANE.

  • 1964 – Fifty-seven years ago on NBC, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. premiered. It was created by Sam Rolfe who was responsible for Have Gun, Will Travel and Norman Felton who directed All My Children, the first daytime soap which debuted in the Forties. It starred Robert Vaughn, David McCallum and Leo G. Carroll. It would last four seasons of one hundred and five episodes, most in color. Harlan Ellison scripted two episodes, “The Sort of Do-It-Yourself Dreadful Affair” and “The Pieces of Fate Affair.” A reunion film, Return of the Man from U.N.C.L.E. with the subtitle of The Fifteen Years Later Affair with Vaughn and McCallum reprising their roles with Patrick Macnee replacing Leo G. Carroll, who had died, as the head of U.N.C.L.E. There was a film reboot recently that was very well received. 

(15) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 22, 1917 — Samuel A. Peeples. Memory Alpha says that he’s the person that gave Roddenberry the catch phrase he used to sell Star Trek to the network: “[As] fellow writer Harlan Ellison has credited him with the creation of one of the most famous catch phrases in Star Trek lore, “[Gene Roddenberry] got ‘Wagon Train to the stars’ from Sam Peeples. That’s what Gene said to me. They were at dinner and Sam Peeples, of course, was a fount of ideas, and Gene said something or other about wanting to do a space show and Sam said, ‘Yeah? Why don’t you do Wagon Train to the stars?’” (Died 1997.)
  • Born September 22, 1952 — Paul Kincaid, 69. A British science fiction critic. He stepped down as chairman of the Arthur C. Clarke Award in April 2006 after twenty years. He is the co-editor with Andrew M. Butler of The Arthur C. Clarke Award: A Critical Anthology. He’s also written A Very British Genre: A Short History of British Fantasy and Science Fiction and What It Is We Do When We Read Science Fiction. His latest publication is The Unstable Realities of Christopher Priest.
  • Born September 22, 1954 — Shari Belafonte, 67. Daughter of Harry Belafonte, I first spotted her on Beyond Reality, a Canadian series that showed up when I was living in upstate Vermont. You most likely saw her as Elizabeth Trent in Babylon 5: Thirdspace as that’s her most well known genre performance. 
  • Born September 22, 1957 — Jerry Oltion, 64. His Nebula Award winning Abandon in Place novella is the beginning of the Cheap Hyperdrive sequence, a really fun Space Opera undertaking. Abandon in Place was nominated for a Hugo at LoneStarCon 2 (2013). The Astronaut from Wyoming was nominated for a Hugo at Chicon 2000. 
  • Born September 22, 1971 — Elizabeth Bear, 50. First, let’s all wish her a speedy recovery from her cancer surgery which was this week. Her first sff series was a superb trilogy, which might be considered cyberpunk, centered on a character named Jenny Casey. She’s a very prolific writer; I’m fond of her Promethean AgeNew Amsterdam and Karen Memory series. She won an Astounding Award for Best New Writer, a Hugo Award for Best Short Story for “Tideline”, and a Hugo for Best Novelette for “Shoggoths in Bloom”. One of only five writers to win multiple Hugo Awards for fiction after winning the Astounding Award! Very impressive indeed! It is worth noting that she was one of the regular panelists on now sadly defunct podcast SF Squeecast, which won the 2012 and 2013 Hugo Awards for “Best Fancast”. (CE)
  • Born September 22, 1981 — Maria Ashley Eckstein, 40. She’s voice of Ahsoka Tano on Star Wars: The Clone WarsStar Wars Rebels, and Star Wars Forces of Destiny. She even has a voice only cameo as Ashoka in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. And she voiced the character in the audiobook of E. K. Johnston’s Star Wars: Ahsoka.
  • Born September 22, 1982 — Billie Piper, 39. Best remembered as the companion of the Ninth and Tenth Doctors, she also played the dual roles Brona Croft and Lily Frankenstein in Penny Dreadful. She played Veronica Beatrice “Sally” Lockhart in the BBC adaptation of Philip Pullman’s The Ruby in the Smoke and The Shadow in The North.
  • Born September 22, 1985 — Tatiana Maslany, 36. Best known for her superb versatility in playing more than a dozen different clones in the Orphan Black which won a Hugo for Dramatic Presentation (Short Form) at the  73rd World Science Fiction Convention for its “By Means Which Have Never Yet Been Tried“ episode. She received a Best Actress Emmy and more than two dozen other nominations and awards. She’ll be playing Jennifer Walters / She-Hulk in the upcoming Marvel She-Hulk series.

(16) SHARP POINTY TEETH. Of course it’s a vampire movie. Was there ever any doubt? Night Teeth coming to Netflix on October 20.

(17) IT CANNOT BE DENIED. From a book review in today’s New York Times:

“(Turid is among those names, like Shakespeare’s Titus, for which it is crucial, when spelling, not to omit the second vowel.)”

(18) DANGEROUS HISTORY. A genre study titled Dangerous Visions and New Worlds: Radical Science Fiction, 1950 to 1985 edited by Andrew Nette and Iain McIntyre is available for pre-order from PM Press.

…It starts with progressive authors who rose to prominence in the conservative 1950s, challenging the so-called Golden Age of science fiction and its linear narratives of technological breakthroughs and space-conquering male heroes. The book then moves through the 1960s, when writers, including those in what has been termed the New Wave, shattered existing writing conventions and incorporated contemporary themes such as modern mass media culture, corporate control, growing state surveillance, the Vietnam War, and rising currents of counterculture, ecological awareness, feminism, sexual liberation, and Black Power. The 1970s, when the genre reflected the end of various dreams of the long Sixties and the faltering of the postwar boom, is also explored along with the first half of the 1980s, which gave rise to new subgenres, such as cyberpunk.

Dangerous Visions and New Worlds contains over twenty chapters written by contemporary authors and critics, and hundreds of full-color cover images, including thirteen thematically organised cover selections. New perspectives on key novels and authors, such as Octavia Butler, Ursula K. Le Guin, Philip K. Dick, Harlan Ellison, John Wyndham, Samuel Delany, J.G. Ballard, John Brunner, Judith Merril, Barry Malzberg, Joanna Russ, and many others are presented alongside excavations of topics, works, and writers who have been largely forgotten or undeservedly ignored.

Here’s a sample page that was posted to the book’s Kickstarter site:

(19) THE QUICK SAND AND THE DEAD. Juliette Kayyem remembers a hazard much on the minds of young TV viewers back in the day:

Her tweet inspired E. Gruberman to round up a zillion YouTube links to relevant scenes from old shows of TV heroes up to their hips in quicksand.

(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Transformers:  Age of Extinction Pitch Meeting” on Screen Rant, Ryan George says in the fourth Transformers movie, Sam Witwicky disappears without an explanation because Shia LeBouef didn’t want to be in Transformer movies anymore. The writer explains that the Transformers are powered by “transformium,” “which can change into any product placement we want.” but the third act will be “our usual visual mess” but will feature “guns, boobs, America, victory.”

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Cora Buhlert, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Jayn.]

Pixel Scroll 8/10/21 The Scrolls Are Lovely, Dark And Deep, But I Have Pixels To Keep

(1) SANDBAGGING GOODREADS FOR RANSOM. TIME probes “Goodreads’ Problem With Extortion Scams and Review Bombing”.

A few months after posting a message on Goodreads about the imminent release of a new book, Indie author Beth Black woke up to an all-caps ransom email from an anonymous server, demanding that she either pay for good reviews or have her books inundated with negative ones: “EITHER YOU TAKE CARE OF OUR NEEDS AND REQUIREMENTS WITH YOUR WALLET OR WE’LL RUIN YOUR AUTHOR CAREER,” the email, shared with TIME, read. “PAY US OR DISAPPEAR FROM GOODREADS FOR YOUR OWN GOOD.”

Black, who has self-published both a romance novel and a collection of short stories in the past year, didn’t pay the ransom. “I reported it to Goodreads and then a couple hours later, I started noticing the stars dropping on my books as I started getting all these 1-star reviews,” she says. “It was quite threatening.”

Scammers and cyberstalkers are increasingly using the Goodreads platform to extort authors with threats of “review bombing” their work–and they are frequently targeting authors from marginalized communities who have spoken out on topics ranging from controversies within the industry to larger social issues on social media.

… Goodreads remains one of the primary tools on the internet for book discovery, meaning lesser-known authors often have to rely on the site to get their work noticed. But at this point, some feel that Goodreads’ ratings and reviews system is causing more harm than good.

In a July 29 statement to TIME, a spokesperson for Goodreads said that the company is actively working to resolve many of these review bombing problems.

“We take swift action to remove users when we determine that they violate our guidelines, and are actively assessing all available options to take further action against the small number of bad actors who have attempted extortion scams,” the statement read. “We have clear guidelines for reviews and participation in our community, and we remove reviews and/or accounts that violate these guidelines… We also continue to invest in making technology improvements to prevent bad actor behavior and inauthentic reviews in order to better safeguard our community.”

Review bombing, ransom emails and extortion

As author Rin Chupeco told TIME, Goodreads is a “good idea that slowly became unmanageable over the years due to lack of adequate moderation and general indifference.”

One emerging issue is review bombing: when a coordinated group, or a few people with multiple accounts, intentionally tank a book’s aggregate rating with a flurry of one-star ratings and negative reviews….

.. But Black isn’t the only author to be targeted. There are many threads on Goodreads discussing similar issues, with posts from writers who’ve been targeted….

(2) MAKING RULES DIFFERENTLY. Eleanor Konik shows colleagues a way to expand their horizons in “Unusual Governments to Take Inspiration From” at the SFWA Blog.

Often, speculative fiction relies on common government types, like monarchies and republics, because they’re familiar to readers. History, however, offers other examples of sociopolitical systems. They can be a gold mine for worldbuilding ideas that stretch beyond the mainstream.

Cycling Governments

Age-sets are a sociopolitical system common in East Africa. Among Kenya’s Nandi people, each ibinda (age-set) corresponds to a stage of the life cycle. Boys and girls from each region would be initiated into their age-sets during a series of mass ceremonies.  As an analogy, consider a series of nearby communities gathering children into one centralized boarding school then transitioning them out of school and into the lifestage of young adults marrying and being busy with young children, after which they would return to the workforce before finally amassing the experience to lead the community as political figures. 

In the Ethiopian Highlands, this sort of cycling age-set system, known in some places as gadaa (for men) or siqqee (for women), led to the development of a republic with democratic elections and the peaceful transfer of power, which took roughly eight years to accomplish. It is not the “democratic republic” as described in ancient Greece. Men were bound to their neighbors by the bonds of shared experiences, handling infrastructure projects for the whole region. In some places, this led to peace. In others, expansion of the length of time men spent in the warrior stage meant an increase in raids and conquest. 

(3) SILVERBERG TO BE DISCON III VIRTUAL PARTICIPANT. Robert Silverberg revealed online today: “Apparently I will be at the DC worldcon after all, though only virtually.  Since I am unwilling to travel to the East Coast in wintertime, they have arranged for me to do a virtual conversation with Nancy Kress, with Alvaro Zinos-Amaro acting as moderator.  So my 67-year streak of worldcon attendance will remain intact, if only virtually.”

(4) ENTER THE DRAGONS. Camestros Felapton’s epic has now reached a key moment of 2016: “Debarkle Chapter 55: The Dragon Award Begins”.

…With the devastating final results of the 2015 Hugo Award, some Puppy supporters thought that the right response was to walk away from Worldcon and the Hugo Awards altogether. This was matched by some of the rhetoric from critics of the Puppies, who had suggested that the Puppy leadership should set up their own awards.

So it was both notable and not wholly a surprise when on March 31 2016 Dragon Con announced the first inaugural Dragon Awards with their own new website…

(5) DULCET TONES. Open Culture invites you to listen as “Benedict Cumberbatch Reads Kurt Vonnegut’s Letter of Advice to People Living in the Year 2088”.

A few years ago we posted Kurt Vonnegut’s letter of advice to humanity, written in 1988 but addressed, a century hence, to the year 2088. Whatever objections you may have felt to reading this missive more than 70 years prematurely, you might have overcome them to find that the author of Slaughterhouse-Five and Breakfast of Champions single-mindedly importuned his fellow man of the late 21st century to protect the natural environment. He issues commandments to “reduce and stabilize your population” to “stop preparing for war and start dealing with your real problems,” and to “stop thinking science can fix anything if you give it a trillion dollars,” among other potentially drastic-sounding measures.

Commandment number seven amounts to the highly Vonnegutian “And so on. Or else.” A fan can easily imagine these words spoken in the writer’s own voice, but with Vonnegut now gone for well over a decade, would you accept them spoken in the voice of Benedict Cumberbatch instead?

(6) END TIMES. Netflix dropped this trailer for the final season of Lucifer today.

Lucifer scored the promotion, but does he really want the job? Plus, Chloe prepares to give up detective work, Amenadiel joins the LAPD, and more.

(7) SOUNDING OFF. The Guardian interviews actors who are better known for their voice than their face. One of them is Doug Jones of Star Trek: Discovery fame: “’They wanted my meerkat to sound like a Russian Alan Sugar’ – meet TV’s secret superstars” in The Guardian.

…[Doug Jones:] When you say yes to playing something that doesn’t look human, you’re saying yes to the entire process. I don’t get to shout: “Get this off me! It’s so hot and sticky.” I need the mindset of a performer, but also the endurance of an athlete, one who can take five or six hours of makeup application, then get through a long day of shooting.

Because of all the parts I’ve played, I often end up skipping the conventional casting process. People in creature effects just say: “It’s a tall skinny alien – we need Doug Jones.” I was playing the amphibian in the Oscar-winning film The Shape of Water when Star Trek: Discovery approached me. I was actually thinking “I’m not sure how much more rubber and glue I want in my life,” but there was no way I could turn it down. For Saru, I wear a four-piece prosthetic over my head that comes down past my collarbones, with gloves to change my hands. It’s all been moulded to my shape and pre-painted so getting it all glued on is only a two-hour process. I wear a Starfleet uniform like everybody else, but I do have special hoofed boots that add five inches to my height. That makes me about 6ft 8ins!…

(8) TRAPPED IN AMBER. Irish/Dutch writer couple Angeline B. Adams and Remco van Straten talk about the future of the sword and sorcery genre — and if it has one: “Fled & Done: Sword & Sorcery” at Turnip Lanterns.

…Modern Sword & Sorcery writers face an uphill battle, if they want to emerge from the shadow of Conan (including, and in particular, his Marvel comics and Schwarzenegger film incarnations). And that indeed sums up our dilemma: is it worth trying to expand the genre, when the general audience’s idea of S&S has calcified in cliché? Especially when a large section of S&S fans (and authors) have very firm ideas of what S&S was, is and always will be?…

(9) INTERNATIONAL TOLKIEN FANDOM. Brazilian podcast Tolkien Talk did a video Q&A with acclaimed Tolkien scholar Douglas Anderson. It’s the fifth in their series of major international interviews. Find the others at their Tolkien Talk YouTube channel.

Meet Douglas A. Anderson, creator of The Annotated Hobbit and one of the most important tolkienists of our time. All the way from his first contact with J.R.R. Tolkien’s work to unveiling misconceptions throughout the time, get an overview on Tolkien’s life and works from one that accessed them directly.

(10) CRIMINAL RECORD. Anthony Horowitz has reached a crime fiction award milestone: “Horowitz becomes Japan’s most-decorated foreign crime author” at The Bookseller.

Author Anthony Horowitz has won the Best Mystery of the Decade award by Honkaku Mystery Writers Club for his first Daniel Hawthorne novel, The Word is Murder, making him the most-decorated foreign crime author in Japanese history.

Horowitz is the first author in Japanese history to win 16 literary awards in total, according to his publisher…. 

(11) WHY THIS SOUNDS FAMILIAR. “’I Am Legend’ screenwriter responds to conspiracy theory about vaccines and zombies”Yahoo! has the story.

There are a multitude of reasons why people are hesitant or refusing to get the coronavirus vaccine in the midst of a pandemic that’s killed over 600,000 people in the U.S. and millions worldwide, from distrust in science and medicine to wariness towards the government and also… zombies?

New York Times report last weekend about a Bronx-based eyewear company struggling to persuade its employees to get jabbed referenced one worker whose hesitancy was based off of the belief that the COVID vaccine is the shot that turned people into zombies in the 2007 post-apocalyptic film I Am Legend.

As the Times pointed out, the zombification portrayed in the box office hit starring Will Smith was caused by a genetically reprogrammed virus, not the vaccine for it. But the bizarre claim has still flourished on the hotbed of vaccination misinformation that is social media.

On Monday, I Am Legend screenwriter Akiva Goldsman entered the chat.

“Oh. My. God. It’s a movie. I made that up. It’s. Not. Real,” Goldsman tweeted in response to journalist and comic book writer Marc Bernadin, who shared a screencap of the article with quote, “We. Are. All. Going. To. Die. Sooner. Than. We. Should.”…

(12) MEMORY LANE.

  • 2013 – Eight years ago, Futurama ended its run. It had four seasons on FOX, and when cancelled there was revived by Comedy Central and ran another three seasons. In between, reruns aired on Adult Swim.  It was created by Matt Groening of Simpsons fame. Over its seven seasons, it would run for one hundred and seventy episodes. There would be four later films, Bender’s Big Score, The Beast with a Billion Backs, Bender’s Game and Into the Wild Green Yonder. It had a legendary voice cast of Billy West, Katey Sagal, John DiMaggio, Tress MacNeille, Maurice LaMarche, Phil LaMarr, Lauren Tom, David Herman and Frank Welker. It was nominated for a Nebula Award for Best Script for the “Where No Fan Has Gone Before” episode during the last season. It has a ninety-five percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. 

(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 10, 1902 Curt Siodmak. He is known for his work in horror and sf films for The Wolf Man and Donovan’s Brain, the latter  from his own novel. He won a Retro Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form at Dublin 2019  for Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman and was nominated for six more. ISFDB notes Donovan’s Brain was part of his Dr. Patrick Cory series, and he wrote quite a few other genre novels as well. Donovan’s Brain and just a few other works are available from the usual suspects. (Died 2000.)
  • Born August 10, 1903 Ward Moore. Author of Bring the Jubilee which everyone knows about as it’s often added to that mythical genre canon, and several more that I’m fairly sure almost no one knows of. More interestingly to me was that he was a keen writer of recipes of which ISFDB documents — four of his appeared in Anne McCaffrey’s Cooking Out of This World including “Kidneys — Like Father Used to Make” and “Pea Soup — Potage Ste. Germaine.“ (Died 1978.)
  • Born August 10, 1913 Noah Beery Jr. Genre wise, he’s best remembered as Maj. William Corrigan on the Fifties classic SF film Rocketship X-M, but he showed up in other genre undertakings as well such as 7 Faces of Dr. LaoThe Six Million Dollar ManFantasy IslandBeyond Witch MountainThe Ghost of Cypress Swamp and The Cat Creeps. I think he appeared in one of the earliest Zorro films made where he’s credited just as a boy, he’d be seven then, The Mark of Zorro which had Douglas Fairbanks Sr. and his father, Noah Beery Sr. (Died 1994.)
  • Born August 10, 1931 Alexis A. Gilliland, 90. He won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in 1982, edging out Brin and Swanwick for the honor. Gilliland also won four Hugo Awards for Best Fan Artist in the early Eighties and won the Tucker Award for Excellence in Partying in the late Eighties. What the Hell is that? And he won the Rotsler Award for fan art in 2006.  He’s got two series, Rosinante and Wizenbeak, neither of which I’ve read, so do tell me about them please. 
  • Born August 10, 1944 Barbara Erskine, 77. I’m including her because I’ve got a bit of a mystery. ISFDB lists her as writing over a dozen genre novels and her wiki page says she has a fascination with the supernatural but neither indicates what manner of genre fiction she wrote. I’m guessing romance or gothic tinged with the supernatural based on the covers but that’s just a guess. What do y’all know about her?
  • Born August 10, 1955 Eddie Campbell, 66. Best known as the illustrator and publisher of From Hell, written by Alan Moore, and Bacchus, a most excellent series about the few Greek gods who have made to the present day. Though not genre in the slightest way, I highly recommend The Black Diamond Detective Agency which he did. It’s an adaptation of an as-yet unmade screenplay by C. Gaby Mitchell.
  • Born August 10, 1960 Antonio Banderas, 61. Genre work in Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles, the Spy Kids franchise, voice work in the Puss in Boots and Shrek franchises, appearances in The Voyage of Doctor Dolittle and the New Mutants. He’s James Mangold in the forthcoming Indiana Jones film. 
  • Born August 10, 1965 Claudia Christian, 56. Best known role is Commander Susan Ivanova on Babylon 5, but she has done other genre roles such as being Brenda Lee Van Buren in The Hidden, Katherine Shelley in Lancelot: Guardian of Time, Quinn in Arena, Lucy in The Haunting of Hell House and Kate Dematti in Meteor Apocalypse. She’s had one-offs on Space RangersHighlanderQuantum LeapRelic Hunter and Grimm. She’s Captain Belinda Blowhard on Starhyke, a six episode series shot in ‘05 you can see on Amazon Prime.

(14) COMICS SECTION.

(15) UP TO DATE. Entertainment Weekly says Robin is now bi. “Robin becomes a bisexual icon in new Batman comic”. Clearly it doesn’t cut it to keep visualizing Burt Ward/Robin as Adam West/Bruce Wayne’s teenage ward — I missed the part where Robin was dating at all.

The latest issue of Batman: Urban Legends, a monthly anthology series, revealed that the Caped Crusader’s longtime sidekick Robin, specifically the Tim Drake version of him, is bisexual. 

The moment came at the end of part 3 of the Sum of Our Parts story, from writer Meghan Fitzmartin, artist Belén Ortega, colorist Alejandro Sánchez, and letterer Pat Brosseau. 

(16) SUBSTACK GROWING. “Comic Book Writers and Artists Follow Other Creators to Substack” – the New York Times tells how it will work.

… Nick Spencer, a comic book writer best known for his work for Marvel Entertainment, was the liaison between Substack and a group of creators who, starting Monday, will publish new comic book stories, essays and how-to guides on the platform.

He said he approached Chris Best, a Substack founder, with the idea last year, when the pandemic was keeping many fans out of the comic book shops and the creators were looking for new ways to connect with readers.

The initial lineup includes comic-centric newsletters from Saladin AhmedJonathan HickmanMolly OstertagScott Snyder and James Tynion IV, with other writers and artists to be announced.

The creators will be paid by Substack while keeping ownership of their work. The company will take most of the subscription revenue in the first year; after that, it will take a 10 percent cut.

Mr. Tynion, who last month won an Eisner Award, the comic industry’s highest honor, for best writer, said he would break away from writing Batman for DC Entertainment to devote time to his creator-owned series and his Substack newsletter.

(17) KEEPING THE BOOKS. Lazy Rabbit has a set of humorous pictures of librarian jokes on Facebook.

(18) CATS FOR ADOPTION. Let’s signal boost the availability for adoption of a new litter of kittens in Los Angeles. The owner is a friend of Gideon Marcus of Galactic Journey. You can reach her by emailing digginginthewrongplace (at) gmail (dot) com.

The momma cat is approx two years old. We just had her spayed and she had a dental check too. She’s negative for all diseases/fleas/worms, and in great health.

Kitties are 9 weeks old. All in great health. Too young to be neutered yet.

Let me know if anyone’s interested!

(19) CANDLING THE EGGS. SYFY Wire got first dibs on this 90-second video: “Monsters at Work: Explore the Pixar show’s various Easter eggs”.

SYFY WIRE is excited to debut an exclusive featurette that breaks down a number of these subtle — and not-so-subtle — references in the Disney+ series. Series executive producer Bobs Gannaway tells us that all of the Easter eggs “happened naturally and came from anyone on the crew at any phase of production — be it a storyboard artist adding something in the board, or the art director dressing the set.” 

“We focused mostly on world expansion — using the graphics to suggest parts of the world we will never see: like the Laffeteria menu, or advertisements on the back of Roz’s newspaper,” he continues. “We also focused things more inward and on our characters. For example, Duncan’s nameplate changes every episode, and whenever he’s listening to his boom box, the ‘mixtape’ is labeled. You have to really zoom into the frames to see those. Other things aren’t so much Easter eggs as they are just having fun: like changing the theme music every time during the credits to reflect that episode’s story, and doing something different each time with the wind-up teeth in the Mike’s Comedy Class title card. Everyone has a good time adding the details to the world.”

(20) TRICK OR TRICK. “’Muppets Haunted Mansion’ Halloween Special First Images Revealed” – see the pics at Halloween Daily News. Below is the trailer from May.

On today’s 52nd anniversary of the premiere of the Haunted Mansion dark ride at Disneyland, two first-look images from this October’s new Muppets Haunted Mansion Halloween special have been released, including Kermit and Miss Piggy in costume …as each other.

The special will feature the Muppets cast, along with celebrity cameos, new music, and fittingly seasonal fun for all ages.

Muppets Haunted Mansion will take place on Halloween Night, when Gonzo is challenged to spend one night in The Haunted Mansion.

(21) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Honest Game Trailers, The Legend of Zelda:  Skyward Sword”, Fandom Games says this is “the motion-control Zelda game no one asked for” where “every fight feels like doing a bunch of morphone before a high-school fencing match.”

[Thanks to Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Cora Buhlert, BravoLimaPoppa, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Flaneur.]