Tananarive Due Wins LA Times Book Prize for SFF

The Los Angeles Times Book Prizes winners were announced April 20.

Tananarive Due’s The Reformatory: A Novel won the Science Fiction, Fantasy & Speculative Fiction category, a book the Times describes as “part horror, part historical fiction in its examination of life under Jim Crow law in the South.”

The other finalists in the category were:

  • Daniel Kraus, Whalefall
  • Victor LaValle, Lone Women: A Novel
  • V. E. Schwab, The Fragile Threads of Power
  • E. Lily Yu, Jewel Box: Stories

Two other works of genre interest won awards: the Graphic Novel/Comics category, Emily Carroll, for A Guest in the House; and in the Young Adult category, Amber McBride for Gone Wolf.

Here is the complete list of LA Times Book Prize winners.

Achievement in Audiobook Production (presented by Audible)

  • Dion Graham and Elishia Merricks, Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin): A Memoir, Macmillan Audio

Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction

  • Shannon Sanders, Company: Stories, Graywolf Press

Biography

  • Gregg Hecimovich, The Life and Times of Hannah Crafts: The True Story of The Bondwoman’s Narrative, Ecco/HarperCollins

Christopher Isherwood Prize for Autobiographical Prose

  • Claire Dederer, Monsters: A Fan’s Dilemma, Knopf

Current Interest

  • Roxanna Asgarian, We Were Once A Family: A Story of Love, Death, and Child Removal in America, Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Fiction

  • Ed Park, Same Bed Different Dreams: A Novel, Random House

Graphic Novel/Comics

  • Emily Carroll, A Guest in the House, First Second

History

  • Joya Chatterji, Shadows at Noon: The South Asian Twentieth Century, Yale University Press

Mystery/Thriller

  • Ivy Pochoda, Sing Her Down: A Novel, MCD

Poetry

  • Airea D. Matthews, Bread and Circus: Poems, Scribner

Science Fiction, Fantasy & Speculative Fiction

  • Tananarive Due, The Reformatory: A Novel, Saga Press

Science & Technology

  • Eugenia Cheng, Is Math Real? How Simple Questions Lead Us to Mathematics’ Deepest Truths, Basic Books

Young Adult Literature

  • Amber McBride, Gone Wolf, Feiwel & Friends

44th Los Angeles Times Book Prize Finalists

The shortlists for the Los Angeles Times Book Prizes have been revealed. The Book Prizes recognize 66 works in 13 categories. The sff category finalists are:

Science Fiction, Fantasy & Speculative Fiction

  • Tananarive Due, The Reformatory: A Novel
  • Daniel Kraus, Whalefall
  • Victor LaValle, Lone Women: A Novel
  • V. E. Schwab, The Fragile Threads of Power
  • E. Lily Yu, Jewel Box: Stories

The category judges are Maurice Broaddus, Craig Laurance Gidney, and Lucy A. Snyder.

This category was previously named the Ray Bradbury Prize for Science Fiction, Fantasy & Speculative Fiction category, sponsored by the Ray Bradbury Foundation. I asked judge Lucy A. Snyder if she knew the reason for the change and she explained: “My understanding is that the Bradbury estate recently changed ownership, and the new owners decided they didn’t want to sponsor the award any longer. (Sponsorship cost in the range of $22,000 a year to cover costs of the awards, flying the winners out, etc.)”

The complete list of finalists follows the jump.

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Pixel Scroll 1/5/24 Scroll, Muse, of the Pixels of the Filers

(1) FREE ON EARTH. Brian Keene has posted the program schedule for “Christopher Golden’s House of Last Resort Weekend (hosted by Brian Keene)” a FREE horror convention, taking place January 18 – 21, 2024 at the Sheraton Portsmouth Harborside Hotel, 250 Market St., in Portsmouth, NH 03801.

Admission is FREE with weekend hotel room reservation.  Click here to register for this FREE one-time event. Click here to reserve your hotel room.

The “House of Last Resort Weekend Schedule” is at Brian Keene’s blog. Apparently, if you’re going, you really really should not miss Opening Ceremonies.

7:00pm (Prescott) – Opening Ceremonies: Christopher Golden and host Brian Keene welcome you to this one of a kind, once in a lifetime special event. We’ll go over the rules, the purpose of the weekend, the schedule, and much more. Attendance is strongly encouraged, and to show you that we mean this, we’ll give away free door prizes to random individuals.

(2) APPLY FOR THE BOSE GRANT. The Speculative Literature Foundation is taking applications for the A.C. Bose Grant for South Asian Speculative Literature through January 31.

The A.C. Bose Grant annually provides $1,000 to South Asian or Desi diaspora writers developing speculative fiction. Work that is accessible to older children and teens will be given preference in the jury process. 

This grant, as with all SLF grants, is intended to help writers working with speculative literature. Speculative literature spans the breadth of fantastic writing, encompassing literature ranging from hard science fiction to epic fantasy, including ghost stories, horror, folk and fairy tales, slipstream, magical realism, and more. Any piece of literature containing a fabulist or speculative element would fall under our aegis.

This grant is awarded on the basis of merit. If awarded the grant, the recipient agrees to provide a brief excerpt from their work and an autobiographical statement describing themselves and their writing (500-1,000 words) for our files and for public dissemination on our website and mailing list.

The application form is at the SLF website.

(3) MATCH GAME. Nick Johnson thought of a great way to spice up his annual recommendation list: “Reading (and Publication!) Round-Up for 2023” at Medium.

I’m choosing to do my year-end wrap-up a little differently this time. Whereas before I separated out novels and short stories to highlight the best of both, for 2023 I present instead a curated, tandem list — a prix fixe menu, if you will. I’ve listed each book in the order I read it, complete with brief description and a rating (out of 5 ★s).

Each novel is paired with a short story. Why? Because short stories don’t get enough love! Think of them as palate cleansers, digestifs to follow the main course. Some of these pairings are based on similarities between concepts or characters. Sometimes they approach similar themes from divergent angles. Whatever the reason may be, if you choose to read them, I hope they take you on rewarding journeys to emotional places you don’t expect.

Here’s one example.

A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking, by T. Kingfisher (★★★★)

T. Kingfisher’s solid young-adult fantasy novel follows Mona, a baker’s apprentice skilled in crafting magical golems out of baked goods, whose life is turned upside down when she finds a dead body on the floor of her bakery. Hijinks, both harrowing and heartwarming, ensue.

Pairing“There’s Magic in Bread” | Effie Seiberg | Fantasy MagazineSeiberg’s story about magical bread is more grounded to this plane, though sneaks in some grain-based golems for good measure.

(4) WHAT SHE’S READING. Maud Woolf features in the “Books & Authors” section of Shelf Awareness for Friday, January 5, 2024”.

Reading with… Maud Woolf

Maud Woolf is a speculative-fiction writer with a particular focus on horror and science fiction who lives in Glasgow, Scotland. Her work has appeared in a variety of online magazines. She’s worked a number of jobs, including waitressing, comic book selling, sign-holding, and as a tour guide at a German dollhouse museum. She is the author of Thirteen Ways to Kill Lulabelle Rock (Angry Robot, January 9, 2024), a feminist satire on celebrity and the multiple roles into which women are forced to squeeze their lives.

On your nightstand now: 

I have a bad habit of dipping in and out of multiple books at the same time. At the moment, I’m obsessed with solarpunk, so I’m reading A Psalm for the Wild-Builtby Becky Chambers and Glass and Gardens, an anthology of solarpunk stories edited by Sarena Ulibarri. Those have both just been abandoned in favour of The Forever Warby Joe Haldeman, a science-fiction classic influenced by the author’s own experiences in the Vietnam War. I usually avoid military sci-fi, but it’s completely consumed me.

(5) FRED CHAPPELL (1936-2024.) North Carolina writer and teacher Fred Chappell died January 4 at the age of 87. The Greensboro News and Record has a tribute here: “Fred Chappell, acclaimed author and poet, has died”.

His first novel, Dagon (1968) was honored as the Best Foreign Book of the Year by the Académie Française. He won two World Fantasy Awards for short fiction, “The Somewhere Doors” (1992) and “The Lodger” (1994). His short story “The Silent Woman” was also shortlisted for the Otherwise Award in 1997.

He was a past Poet Laureate of the state of North Carolina, and PBS North Carolina aired a documentary about him in 2022, “Fred Chappell: I Am One of You Forever”.

(6) JOHN F. O’CONNELL (1969–2024.) [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Author John O’Connell died January 1. His “Legerdemain” got him nominations for the Shirley Jackson and World Fantasy Awards. Two of his stories, “Legerdemain” and “The Swag from Doc Hawthorne’s” were published in F&SF. His only Award was an Imaginaire for his Dans les limbes, the French translation of The Resurrectionist novel. All three of his noirish linked novels, Box Nine, Skin Palace and Word Made Flesh are set in the fictional New England city of Quinsigamond, loosely based on his own resident city of Worcester, Massachusetts.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born January 5, 1966 Tananarive Due, 57. This Scroll I’m very pleased to be looking at Tananarive Due, an author whose work is definitely more focused towards the noir side of our genre. 

She’s a native Floridian, born of civil rights activist Patricia Stephens Due and civil rights lawyer John D. Due, her mother named her after the French name for Antananarivo, the capital of Madagascar.  She’s married to Steve Barnes, and they live now in LA where their two children also live. 

Tananarive Due

Her first work was The Between, published twenty-eight years ago. It was nominated for a Bram Stroker Award. Like much of her work, it straddles the thin line between the mundane and horror quite chillingly. 

Shortly after that, she started the dark fantasy and a bit soap operish African Immortals series which ran over almost fifteen years and four novels. An Ethiopian family traded something away well over four centuries ago in a ritual that granted them true immortality. And one of them wants to invoke that ritual now… 

Eight years later, she’d write The Good House, one of the scariest haunted house stories I have ever encountered. Trigger warning: it deals with a suicide and the horror of it is very real here. 

Joplin’s Ghost followed shortly thereafter. Yes this is centered around the ragtime musican Scott Joplin and his haunting of a young female hip hop artist. It’s less of a horror novel than her works and more of a dark fantasy. Very well done.

Ghost Summer: Stories a decade on collected eighteen of her over thirty excellent short stories including the title story. Most of the rest, though not all, are in The Wishing Pool and Other Stories. The “Ghost Summer” story won a Carl Brandon Kindred Award and I love the story about who Carl Brandon is! The collection garnered a BFA. 

Her latest novel just out, The Reformatory: A Novel, is set in a Jim Crow Florida reformatory where the full horrors of the injustices of racism known no bounds of death. Really, really scary. 

Her quite well-crafted website can be found over here. She offers online courses including ones on Afrofuturism.

(8) COMICS SECTION.

  • Crankshaft surprises a friend by dropping an sff reference.

(9) KNOW YOUR VERBIAGE. Janet Rudolph has posted a chart of “Commonly Misused Words” at Mystery Fanfare. And in a comment Hal Glatzer has added this example:

Gauntlet = a heavy glove Gantlet = a double row of men with swords or pikes

You challenge someone to a duel by “throwing down the gauntlet.”
You put someone in danger by making them “walk (or run) the gantlet.”

(10) YEOH SHOW CANCELLED. American Born Chinese had a lot going for it – based on a Gene Luen Yang book, a cast including Michelle Yeoh and Ke Huy Quan – but it won’t be back for a second season says Variety: “’American Born Chinese’ Canceled After One Season at Disney+”.

American Born Chinese” has been canceled after one season at Disney+Variety has learned.

According to an individual with knowledge of the decision, Disney was high on the creative of the series, but its viewership did not justify greenlighting a second season. The producers plan to shop the series to other outlets.

“American Born Chinese” debuted on Disney+ on May. The Disney Branded Television series was based on the graphic novel of the same name by Gene Luen Yang. The official logline states that the show “chronicles the trials and tribulations of a regular American teenager whose life is forever changed when he befriends the son of a mythological god.”

(11) WHO’S WATCHING WHAT? JustWatch sent along its 2023 Market Shares data and graphics.

SVOD market shares in Q4 2023
In the final quarter of the year, Disney’s streaming services, Disney+ and Hulu, combined gathered more shares than current market leader Prime Video. Meanwhile, Netflix is approaching Prime Video with just a 1% difference between the two players.

Market share development in 2023
Over the year, the streaming battle in the US displayed interesting changes with Paramount+ leading with the highest increase since January, adding a total of +2%. Global streamer: Apple TV+ also displays strong improvement with a +1% increase.

(12) I’VE LOOKED AT CLOUDS FROM BOTH SIDES NOW. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] In this week’s Science journal we have “Magellanic cloud may be two galaxies, not one”.

The Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC), a hazy blob in the night sky easily visible to people in the Southern Hemisphere, has long been considered a lone dwarf galaxy close to the Milky Way. But a study posted online this month, and accepted by The Astrophysical Journal, suggests the familiar site is not a single body, but two, with one behind the other as viewed from Earth.

By tracking the movements of clouds of gas within the SMC and the young stars recently formed within them, astronomer Claire Murray of the Space Telescope Science Institute and her colleagues have found evidence of two stellar nurseries thousands of light-years apart. If confirmed, the reassessment will likely amplify calls from an increasing number of astronomers to change the SMC’s name and that of its neighbour, the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC).

Sixteenth century Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan, after whom the galaxies are named, was not an astronomer, did not discover them, and is recorded as having murdered and enslaved Indigenous people during his first-ever circumnavigation of the globe. As a result, astronomer Mia de los Reyes of Amherst College called for renaming the SMC and LMC in an opinion piece for Physics magazine in September. The idea has since “gotten a lot of informal support,” she says.

(13) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] In “Three Sci-Fi Books Nobody Reads Anymore”,  Book Pilled looks at three lost SF treasures.  Gerard Klein The Overlords of War (English translation by the transmazing John Brunner), James Blish’s Vor, and Avram Davidson’s What Strange Stars and Skies.

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

Pixel Scroll 6/9/23 Pixel Was A Scrollin’ Stone

(1) ON THE FRONT OF F&SF. Here is The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction’s July-Aug 2023 issue cover.  The cover art is by Mondolithic Studios.

(2) 2023 NATIONAL BOOK FESTIVAL. The 2023 National Book Festival will be held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C., on Saturday, August 12, from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. (doors open at 8:30 a.m.). The event is free and open to the public. Some creators of genre interest appearing at the Festival are:

George Saunders (Lincoln in the Bardo) discusses his latest collection of stories in Liberation Day.

TJ Klune returns with another fantasy adventure, “In the Lives of Puppets,” a tale of artificial intelligence robots and their human son.

National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature Meg Medina shares the graphic novel adaptation of “Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass” with the novel’s illustrator Mel Valentine Vargas.

Interested attendees not able to join the festival in person can tune into sessions throughout the day. Events on several of the stages will be livestreamed on loc.gov/bookfest. Videos of all presentations will be made available on demand in the weeks after the festival.

(3) KNOST WINGS FINALISTS. The 2023 Michael Knost Wings award finalists have been announced by The Imaginarium Convention.  The award “focuses on authors of speculative and/or dark fiction, specifically authors who are up-and-coming . . . or those who have been around a while but do not get the recognition they deserve.”

The award is named for Michael Knost, is the 2015 recipient of the Horror Writers Association’s Silver Hammer Award for his work as the organization’s mentorship chair. He is also a two-time Bram Stoker Award-winner, and is known for his mentoring, writing classes, and bestselling works. Nominees/finalists are chosen by a committee of editors and authors, and Knost selects the award recipient.

This year’s nominees/finalists are:

  • John F. Allen
  • Anton Cancre
  • Elizabeth Donald
  • Sandy Lender
  • Tommy B. Smith

The winner will be announced during the Imaginarium Awards Banquet on July 15.

(4) REMEMBERING WHEN. Craig Newmark is the ‘Craig’ of Craig’s List, but before that he was 1/3 of Rat’s Mouth Fandom (back in the 1980s). He made the news this week for donating $100M to veteran charities.

You can decipher the origin of Rat’s Mouth Fandom if you know this about Boca Raton FL:

The meaning of the name Boca Raton has always aroused curiosity. Many people wrongly assume the name is simply Rat’s Mouth. The Spanish word boca, or mouth, often describes an inlet, while raton means literally, mouse.

(5) OTHER DARTS. Jacqueline Carey responds to readers who asked why there aren’t trans folk in Terre d’Ange: “Summer 2023”.

It’s Pride Month and we’re celebrating the official relaunch of the original Kushiel’s Legacy trilogy with these shiny new trade paperback editions! It’s hard to believe that it’s been over 20 years since Kushiel’s Dart burst on the scene, exploding with intrigue, heroism and unabashed sexuality the likes of which the fantasy genre had never seen.

In many ways, it’s still ahead of its time; but not all. When I polled a group of longtime readers, this was one of the most common questions on their mind:  Are there trans folk in Terre d’Ange?

Fair question! I created an entire theology based on the idea that love in all its forms, including sexual, was a divine force with agency in the real world. Pansexuality is the norm in Terre d’Ange. Even BDSM has a presiding deity! These books were groundbreaking! So what about gender identity? Where the heck are the trans and nonbinary characters? Where are the intersex and asexual characters?

Here’s what I’m not going to do, which is pull a Rowling and tell you, “Oh, Alcuin was nonbinary all along!” I mean… sure, it’s not outside the realm of possibility. But no. Coming from the author, it’s bullshit if it’s not on the page. I didn’t make that specific choice for the character. Nor did I create a society which explicitly acknowledges the full spectrum of human gender identity.

Sorry, guys. I did my best at the time with the knowledge I possessed. I simply wasn’t aware enough of the breadth and depth of human expression to encompass its totality in my worldbuilding. However, “Love As Thou Wilt” is some damn solid bedrock. It’s strong enough to support a broader and deeper understanding of the world. The love and acceptance were always there.

(6) LIFEWRITING PODCAST. Steve Barnes and Tananarive Due’s recent podcast Lifewriting: Write for Your Life! is “On the WGA strike, community for writers – and Clarion West!”

In this episode, Steve and Tananarive talk about some of the reason for the WGA screenwriters’ strike and the importance of community for writers — and welcome guests Rashida Smith and Stephanie Malia Morris to talk about Clarion West. Find out more information at www.clarionwest.org

(7) CLARION WEST EVENT. There will be a Clarion West fundraiser on November 10: Ted Chiang and Dr. Emily M. Bender in conversation, moderated by Tom Nissley, at Town Hall Seattle. Details to follow.

UW Professor of Linguistics Emily M. Bender talks with award-winning science fiction author Ted Chiang about the nature of creativity and the role of the author in relation to AI-generated storytelling. Moderated by Jeopardy! champion and Phinney Books owner Tom Nissley.

(8) OVERLOOKED, NOW OVERHEARD. Longtime Horror Writers Association member Mort Castle is enraged that he was not contacted to be part of the HWA blog’s “Celebrating Our Elders” Q&A series. (The Scroll linked to a couple of those posts.) He has published “An Open Letter To The Horror Writers Association” on Facebook. Below is a screencap of his public post. Castle’s concluding statement reads:

…The HWA needs to apologize. The HWA needs to attempt to make amends.

I do want to thank those people, the many HWA members and many others who’ve contacted me, letting me know they considered the HWA’s treatment of me to be flat-out wrong.

Your support means so much. It helps.

But it does not set this wrong thing right.

If you would like to help do that, I ask that you contact The Horror Writers Association. You might add comments on the HWA Facebook page and I hope you do.

I ask that you express your thoughts about Mort’s Uncelebration on the part of an organization that says it supports horror writing and the people who create it.

Somtow Sucharitkul’s comment on the open letter brings much needed lucidity and practicality to the issues.  

(9) MEMORY LANE.

2022[Written by Cat Eldridge from a choice by Mike Glyer.]

So let’s talk about Rachel Swirsky. She has two Nebulas, one for her “The Lady Who Plucked Red Flowers Beneath the Queen’s Window novella, the other for her short story, “If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love”. No Hugo wins to date but she has been nominated four times including for that same novella. 

She was the founding editor of the PodCastle podcast which does fantasy fiction and served as editor. Ann Leckie was the founding assistant editor. Impressive.

Our Beginning is from the January Fifteenth novel which was published by Tor.com just last year. It was nominated for the Philip K. Dick Award. 

And now here it is…

UBI Day: Early

Hannah

The blizzard first touched land in Maine. It glazed lakes and lighthouses and red-shingled roofs, and billowed through naked ash trees. It chased coastal waves southward to New Hampshire and then moved inland through Concord and into upstate New York, past Saratoga Springs and Syracuse. In Canastota, the historic Erie Canal froze beside iced railroad tracks, neither taking anyone anywhere. 

Hannah Klopfer felt grateful once again that she and the boys had been able to find a furnished rental inside their budget that was within easy walking distance of necessities like the post office and the grocery store. She zipped up her down jacket and tugged her hat over her ears. She patted her pockets: wallet, phone, keys. As she grabbed her scarf from the aging brass rack by the door, it made a shuddery twang against the greasy metal. 

As the twanging faded, Hannah heard a distant, quiet shuffle from the back of the house. Something wooden groaned. Hannah’s mouth went dry. The ends of her scarf dropped from her hands, unwound, and fell loosely across her chest. Her heart pounded. She hadn’t expected Abigail to find them so fast. She took a deep breath to shout upstairs for Jake and Isaiah to start piling furniture against their bedroom door.

A high-pitched giggle broke the quiet, followed by another. Hannah exhaled in relief. Thank God. It was just the boys playing. 

Her heart hadn’t stopped pounding, though. Damn it. Damn it! What was she supposed to do when the boys wouldn’t listen? This wasn’t about sticking their fingers in their cereal or getting crayon on the walls. Did it really matter that it was developmentally normal for a seven-year-old to test authority if it ended up giving Abigail a way back into their lives?

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born June 9, 1930 Lin Carter. He is best known for his work in the 1970s as editor of the Ballantine Adult Fantasy series. As a writer, His first professional publication was the short story “Masters of the Metropolis”, co-written with Randall Garrett, in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, April 1957. He would be a prolific writer, average as many as six novels a year. In addition, he was influential as a critic of the fantasy genre and an early historian of the genre. (Died 1988.)
  • Born June 9, 1934 Donald Duck, 89. He made his first appearance in “The Wise Little Hen” on June 9, 1934. In this cartoon, Donald and his friend, Peter Pig, lie their way out of helping the titular little hen tend to her corn. 
  • Born June 9, 1943 Joe Haldeman, 80. Whether or not it was written as a response to Starship Troopers as some critics thought at time, The Forever War is a damn great novel which I’ve read at least a half dozen times. No surprise that it won the Hugo at MidAmeriCon and the Nebula Award.
  • Born June 9, 1949 Drew Sanders, 74. He’s an LA resident who’s active in con-running and costuming. He has worked on many Worldcons and is a member of LASFS and SCIFI, and has been an officer of both groups. He co-chaired Costume-Con 4 in 1986.
  • Born June 9, 1956 Patricia Cornwell, 67. You’ll know her better as the author of the medical examiner Kay Scarpetta mystery series, now some twenty-six novels deep. She is here, well in part as I do like that series a lot, because she wrote two SF novels in the Captain Chase series, Quantum and Spin.
  • Born June 9, 1961 Michael J. Fox, 62. The Back to The Future trilogy stands as one of the best SF series ever done and his acting was brilliant. Since 1999 due to his Parkinson’s Disease, he’s has mainly worked as a voice-over actor in films such as Stuart Little and Atlantis: The Lost Empire. Prior to his diagnosis, he performed on Tales from the Crypt and directed “The Trap” episode. He would return to live action performing in 2014, bless him, with The Michael J. Fox Show series. 
  • Born June 9, 1967 Dave McCarty, 56. He’s a Chicago-area con-running fan who chaired Chicon 7. He has been the Hugo Administrator for Loncon (2014), MidAmeriCon II (2016), for Worldcon 76 (2018), and again for the Chengdu Worldcon (2023).
  • Born June 9, 1981 Natalie Portman, 42. Surprisingly her first genre role was as Taffy Dale in Mars Attacks!, not as Padme in The Phantom Menace for which the fanboys gave her far too much hatred which is what they do when they do not have a real life. She’d repeat that role in Attack of The Clones and Revenge of The Sith and of course get fresh grief from them. She’d next play Evey in V for Vendetta. And she played Jane Foster, a role she played oh magnificently — and got more grief for — first in Thor, then in Thor: The Dark World and then in Avengers: Endgame. She reprised the role in Thor: Love and Thunder, playing both Jane Foster and Thor.

(11) NEW HOMES FOR PULPS. This strikes me as a more elegant (and remunerative) version of “Operation Surprise Package” in Bill, the Galactic Hero. “Sci Fi and Fantasy Pulp/Magazine Subscription (2 Per Package)!” offered by Chris Korczak, Bookseller.

The trouble with Tribbles: Chris Korczak wasn’t sure what to do with the thousands of science fiction and fantasy magazines piling up around him. He’s an antiquarian bookseller in Easthampton, Mass., who specializes in role-playing games and related titles. He knew the old pulp magazines comprised a rich record of the genre’s literary and artistic gems, but finding a buyer for each copy felt impossible. 

Don’t Panic: Korczak recently started offering these old magazines as part of an unusual mail-order service. Subscribers receive two randomly selected issues as often as they’d like for $14.49 per shipment (details). 

The magazines — mostly from the 1970s and ’90s, but some as far back as the 1940s — provide a kind of time travel through the world of science fiction and fantasy. “They’re really cool,” Korczak tells me, “and they’re just jam-packed with good stories by good authors.” A shipment could include copies of Asimov’s Science Fiction, Analog, Argosy, the Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, If, Galaxy and other “smaller print-run publications.” (To be clear: These are not reprints; they’re original issues, some with their old mailing labels still attached.)

The randomness of each shipment is part of the thrill. Korczak estimates that “more than half of the magazines contain authors who are household names.” Subscribers might find stories by Ursula K. Le Guin, Philip K. Dick, George R.R. Martin, Frank Herbert and others. (Of course, mixed among the stars, there’s sure to be some dead planets, too.) 

“They’re so cool when you go through them,” Korczak says. “And the artwork — a lot of good illustrations there that are only on those covers.”

If that sounds enticing, boldly go.

(12) JEOPARDY! David Goldfarb reports on a Jeopardy! sff reference.

In the Double Jeopardy round, Literature for $800:

This writer known for robotic laws (which might come in handy soon) wrote his “Lucky Starr” series as Paul French

Returning champion Suresh Krishnan responded correctly.

(13) LATE NIGHT SNACK. Science’s article “Let there be dark” explains how “Crops grown without sunlight could help feed astronauts bound for Mars, and someday supplement dinner plates on Earth.”

For the first astronauts to visit Mars, what to eat on their 3-year mission will be one of the most critical questions. It’s not just a matter of taste. According to one recent estimate, a crew of six would require an estimated 10,000 kilograms of food for the trip. NASA—which plans to send people to Mars within 2 decades—could stuff a spacecraft with prepackaged meals and launch additional supplies to the Red Planet in advance for the voyage home. But even that wouldn’t completely solve the problem…

…Robert Jinkerson, a chemical engineer at the University of California (UC), Riverside, thinks the answer is for astronauts to grow their own on-board garden—in the dark, with plant growth fueled by artificial nutrients rather than sunlight. It won’t be easy; after all, plants evolved for hundreds of millions of years to extract energy from sunlight. But Jinkerson believes it can be done by reawakening metabolic pathways plants already possess—the same ones that power the germination of seeds buried in the ground and then shut off once a seedling’s leaves start to reach for the Sun. In his vision of the future, electricity from solar panels could transform water and carbon dioxide (CO2) exhaled by a spacecraft’s crew into simple, energy-rich hydrocarbons that genetically modified plants could use to grow—even in the darkness of space or the dim light on Mars, which receives less than half as much sunlight as Earth….

(14) TRAILER PROMOTING BOOK ABOUT FURRIES. Furry Planet: A World Gone Wild by Joe Strike covers a lot of ground.

From a veteran furry comes an immersive entry into the world of furries and furry fandom, with a colorful look at an amazing subculture, the timeless human instinct to identify with animals, and a wealth of photos and illustrations showcasing fursuits and furry art. Furries are the creative subculture of people who identify with animals. You can find them at furry conventions, furfests, worldwide—tens of thousands of people donning their most elaborate fursuit. In costume, at conventions, with friends or alone, furries unleash the animal within, letting their inner beasts roar and their inner cats purr, aware of the power—and joy—to be found in connecting with one’s animal side and encouraging others to do the same. In Furry Planet, long-time furry and a media staple for commentary on the culture, Joe Strike—a certified “greymuzzle,” as older furries are known—dives deep into this compelling subculture to share its appeal and rewards. Strike addresses stigmas and misconceptions head on and traces the history of the culture from forty thousand-year-old lion-man figurines through sixteenth-century legends of monkey kings to modern day television and movies starring anthropomorphized animals living human lives. He shares how furry fandom began in the United States but has spread across the globe and delves deep into the various iterations of the culture today, in the process covering events, media, art, storytelling, community resources, costume creation, and advice for newcomers. An unprecedented in-depth look at this intriguing, offbeat world, Furry Planet is complemented by colorful images throughout and is sure to inform and excite fans of the culture, as well as anyone who has ever been curious about it. Inside you’ll find: Insight into the natural impulse to anthropomorphize animals and the joys of furry culture A fascinating history of furry culture A thorough guide to furry conventions, fursuit costume creation, and resources for furries A wealth of colorful photographs from furfests and of superb fursuits Gorgeous furry artwork Much more!

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In 2020, The Late Late Show with James Corden brought us “Marvel’s Mrs. Maisel: Rachel Brosnahan Enters the Marvel Universe”.

James Corden and Rachel Brosnahan look back on their attempt to bring Midge Maisel into the Marvel Universe. Memories of the chemistry between Thanos and Midge have us all wondering how the mashup never made the screen.

[Thanks to Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Rich Lynch, Cathy Green, Daniel Dern, Gordon Van Gelder, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]

Pixel Scroll 6/6/23 The Magic Morlock, So Pixeled And So New

(1) KGB. Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present Nathan Ballingrud and Dale Bailey on Wednesday, June 14 at 7:00 p.m. Eastern. Where: KGB Bar, 85 East 4th Street, New York, NY 10003 (Just off 2nd Ave, upstairs).

Nathan Ballingrud

Nathan Ballingrud is the author of The StrangeWounds: Six Stories from the Border of Hell, and North American Lake Monsters, which won the Shirley Jackson Award. A novella, Crypt of the Moon Spider, will appear in 2024. He has been shortlisted for the World Fantasy, British Fantasy, and Bram Stoker Awards. His stories have been adapted into the Hulu series Monsterland. He lives in Asheville, NC.

Dale Bailey

Dale Bailey is the author of This Island Earth: 8 Features From the Drive-In and eight previous books, including In the Night Wood and The End of the End of Everything. His story “Death and Suffrage” was adapted for Showtime’s Masters of Horror television series. He has won the Shirley Jackson Award and the International Horror Guild Award, and has been a finalist for the World Fantasy, Nebula, Locus, and Bram Stoker awards. He lives in North Carolina with his family.

(2) THESE FIGURES ADD UP. Cora Buhlert’s latest Masters of the Universe action figure photo story is “The Prisoner of Castle Grayskull Revisited”.

Masters of the Universe: Revelation never really goes into what happens to Duncan, after Lyn gets the Power. We only see him again, after he has escaped from the dungeon with the help of the tentacled creature known as the Orlax of Primeria and joins the battle outside Castle Grayskull.

But would Lyn really ignore her favourite prisoner? I don’t think so, so let’s see what happens when the powered up Lyn goes to see Duncan in the dungeon.

In the dungeons deep underneath Castle Grayskull…

(3) SPIDER-VERSE NETS BIG DOLLARS. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse opened to $120.5 million in North America, the third-biggest opening ever for an animated film, as well as a best-ever for Sony Animation. According to Deadline:

Among all animated pic domestic openings, Spider-Verse is sixth behind Incredibles 2 ($182.6 million), Super Mario Bros ($146.3 million), Finding Dory ($135 million), Frozen 2 ($130.2 million) and Toy Story 4 ($120.9 million). 

NPR analyzes why the film is drawing a big audience in “’Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ stats show how representation works”.

Turns out inclusivity also means more people want to give you their money! The early box office figures for the new Spider-Man film — and the demographic data of moviegoers — paint a vivid picture.

Who is he? There are plenty of variations on who Spider-Man is, and now Miles Morales is getting the spotlight….

What’s the big deal? The most recent film in the series, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse has made even bigger headlines and received rave reviews.

  • The film grossed $208 million worldwide in its opening weekend, roughly three times as much as the opening of the first film, as reported by NPR’s critic, Bob Mondello.
  • And while in his review Mondello cites the inventive animation and plot as contributing to the success, he says that the diversity on screen was a huge draw for audiences.
  • That ranges from the main hero portrayed by Shameik Moore, to the several Spider-women featured, as well as the India based Spider-guy, Pavitr Prabhakar.
  • According to Mondello’s reporting, the film opened strongly in 59 countries. In North America, exit tracking found that the audience was about one-third Latino and another third Black and Asian, diversity percentages far higher than for most superhero films.

(4) COULD IT BE…TRINITROTRITICALE? The filmmaker insisted on a real crop of wheat for scenes in his movie.“Zack Snyder Goes Galactic: Exclusive First Look at ‘Rebel Moon’” at Vanity Fair.

Zack Snyder is world-building once again with Rebel Moon. This time the 300 and Justice League filmmaker is creating not just one world but a sprawling menagerie of planets, full of cyborg warriors with molten-metal swords, giant half-humanoid arachnids, and ancient robots that seem to have emerged more from medieval times than the future. The new Netflix space saga that Snyder directed and cowrote extends far beyond the verdant orb of the title. That moon is actually one of the more modest worlds. It circles an immense gas giant at a distant edge of the galaxy and is populated mainly by farmers. It’s nowhere special, but it’s about to change the balance of power in this fictional universe.

While any sci-fi extravaganza naturally features copious digital effects, Snyder also used his estimated budget of at least $166 million to manifest as much of it in real life as possible. In a Santa Clarita canyon just outside Los Angeles, a full-size abandoned starfighter decays not far from what appears to be an idyllic Scandinavian-style village, complete with clusters of homes, shops, and barns, as well as a stone bridge arching over a crystalline river. (Team Snyder also built the river.) Vast fields of actual wheat sprout from desert hardpan never meant for such lush growth, but Snyder insisted on real crops for his farmers to harvest and defend. Just over the rocky hillside sits another Rebel Moon set for a larger community known as Providence that looks like an Old West metropolis.  All of these are just locations on the moon of the title; there are other worlds beyond.…

(5) FILM HAS NEW NAME BUT YOU’LL RECOGNIZE THE SHIELD. Yahoo! is on hand when “Marvel Announces ‘Captain America 4’ Retitled as ‘Brave New World’”.

…Brave New World comes on the heels of the events of Avengers: Endgame and the Disney+ series The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. The former saw Chris Evans’ Steve Rogers pass the Captain America shield on to Mackie’s Sam Wilson, who had been serving as hero Falcon since Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which released in 2014…

(6) GRIFANT Q&A. Space Cowboys Books will host an online reading and interview with KC Grifant on Tuesday June 13 at 6:00 p.m. Pacific. Register for free here.

In an Old West overrun by monsters, a stoic gunslinger must embark on a dangerous quest to save her friends and stop a supernatural war. Sharpshooter Melinda West, 29, has encountered more than her share of supernatural creatures after a monster infection killed her mother. Now, Melinda and her charismatic partner, Lance, offer their exterminating services to desperate towns, fighting everything from giant flying scorpions to psychic bugs. But when they accidentally release a demon, they must track a dangerous outlaw across treacherous lands and battle a menagerie of creatures-all before an army of soul-devouring monsters descend on Earth. Supernatural meets Bonnie and Clyde in a re-imagined Old West full of diverse characters, desolate landscapes, and fast-paced adventure.
Get your copy of Melinda West: Monster Gunslinger here.

(7) DENNY LIEN MEMORIAL ITEMS. A memorial celebration was held on June 2 for Minneapolis fan Denny Lien, who died April 15.

The photo stream about Denny Lien’s life put together by David Dyer-Bennett for the memorial celebration (which was not screened due to equipment problems) can be viewed on DD-B’s Facebook feed.

At the memorial co-editors Karen Schaffer and Geri Sullivan distributed copies of the 32-page sampler of Denny’s fanwriting, LienZine, now available at eFanzines. Their introduction begins:

Denny Lien was Minneapolis fandom’s gentle giant. He was a research librarian at the University of Minnesota, and a mainstay of Minneapolis fandom back in the day. His height and impressive muttonchops could be intimidating on first encounter, but his quiet and calm demeanor was reassuring. He was also a prolific, erudite, and funny writer, with a fondness for parodies, puns, and imaginative flights of speculation. His letters to newspapers range from stern factual corrections to delightful skewering of logical fallacies. He wrote columns and articles for science fiction fanzines and APAs (Amateur Press Associations). He exercised his skill for parody in musical lyrics, especially in the beloved local production of Midwest Side Story. He even enlivened the minutes from the local science fiction club Minn-StF during his times as secretary.

For this memorial fanzine, we tried to include a representative cross section of his prodigious output, though we undoubtedly missed many gems. Perhaps you, the reader, will discover more someday. 

They suggest if LienZine leaves you looking to make a donation in Denny’s memory, make it to the Down Under Fan Fund or Habitat for Humanity.

(8) MEMORY LANE.

2010[Written by Cat Eldridge from a choice by Mike Glyer.]

Catherine Asaro is the writer who provides our Beginning this Scroll. 

She is best known for her books about the Ruby Dynasty, called the Saga of the Skolian Empire.  The Ruby Dice, one of those novels,is the source of our Beginning. 

It was first published thirteen years ago by Baen Books and in audio format by Recorded Books. 

Digging around the net, I discovered the Point Valid band had worked with her. Their second CD, Diamond Star, released fourteen years ago, is considered the soundtrack for Asaro’s novel of that name. She provides vocals on several tracks including “Ancient Ages” and her voice is quite excellent indeed. That album is available on Apple Music and I assume elsewhere. 

It’s worth noting that she’s a member of SIGMA, a think tank of speculative writers that advises the government as to future trends affecting national security.  

My favorite works by her are this series plus The Quantum Rose series and her last novel, The Jigsaw Assassin.  I can’t say that I’ve read he short fiction, so do tell me about it please. 

And now for The Ruby Dice Beginning…

Prologue

The Emperor of the Eubian Concord ruled the largest empire ever known to the human race, over two trillion people across more than a thousand worlds and habitats. It was a thriving, teeming civilization of beautiful complexity, and if it was also the greatest work of despotism in all history, its ruling caste had managed to raise their denial of that truth also to heights greater than ever before known.

Lost in such thoughts, the emperor stood in a high room of his palace and stared out a floor-to-ceiling window at the nighttime city below. The sparkle of its lights created a visual sonata that soothed his vision, if not his heart. At the age of twenty-six, Jaibriol the Third had weathered nine years of his own rule. Somehow, despite the assassination attempts, betrayals, and gilt-edged cruelty of his life, he survived.

Tonight the emperor grieved.

He mourned the loss of his innocence and his joy in life. His title was a prison as confining as the invisible bonds that held the billions of slaves he owned and wished he could free.

Most of all, he mourned his family. Ten years ago tonight, his parents had died in a spectacular explosion recorded and broadcast a million times across settled space. In the final battle of the Radiance War between his people and the Skolian Imperialate, the ship carrying his parents had detonated. He had seen that recording again and again, until it was seared into his mind.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born June 6, 1947 Robert Englund, 76. I think his best performance was as Blackie on the very short-lived Nightmare Cafe. Of course, most will remember him playing Freddy Krueger in the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise. He actually appeared in a couple of now forgotten horror films, Dead & Buried and Galaxy of Terror, before landing that role. And he’s continued to do myriad horror films down to the years ranging from CHUD to Strippers vs Werewolves. Versatile man, our Robert.  
  • Born June 6, 1951 Geraldine McCaughrean, 72. Fifteen years ago, she wrote Peter Pan in Scarlet, the official sequel to Peter Pan commissioned by Great Ormond Street Hospital, the holder of Peter Pan’s copyright which J.M. Barrie granted them. So has anyone here read it? 
  • Born June 6, 1959 Amanda Pays, 64. I first encountered her as Thero Jones on Max Headroom, a series I think could be considered the best SF series ever made. She also had a guest role as Phoebe Green in the episode “Fire” of The X-Files, and and as Christina “Tina” McGee in The Flash. She appeared as Dawn in the Spacejacked film. 
  • Born June 6, 1961 Lisabeth Shatner, 62. Uncredited as a child along with her sister Melanie in “Miri” episode. Also appeared uncredited on TekWar entitled “Betrayal” which she wrote. The latter also guest-starred her sister, and was directed by their father.  Co-wrote with father, Captain’s Log: William Shatner’s Personal Account of the Making of Star Trek V the Final Frontier.
  • Born June 6, 1963 Jason Isaacs, 60. Captain Gabriel Lorca, the commanding officer of the USS Discovery in the first season of Discovery and also provided the voice of The Inquisitor, Sentinel, in Star Wars Rebels, and Admiral Zhao in Avatar: The Last Airbender. Oh, and the role of playing Lucius Malfoy in the Harry Potter film franchise.
  • Born June 6, 1973 Guy Haley, 50. British author of the Richards & Klein Investigations series, a cyberpunk noir series where the partners are an android and an AI. His regular paycheck comes from his Warhammer 40,000 work where he’s written a baker’s dozen novels so far. Not surprisingly, he’s got a novel coming out in their Warhammer Crime imprint which, though I’ve read no other Warhammer 40.000 fiction, I’m interested in seeing how they do it.
  • Born June 6, 1973 Patrick Rothfuss, 50. He is best known for the Kingkiller Chronicle series, which won him several awards, including the 2007 Quill Award for his first novel, The Name of the Wind. He also won the Gemmell Award for The Wise Man’s Fear. Before The Name of the Wind was released, an excerpt from the novel was released as a short story titled “The Road to Levinshir” and it won the Writers of the Future contest in 2002. 

(10) DRAWN FROM THE SOURCE. Publishers Weekly’s questions about her latest book leads them to revelations about “Tananarive Due’s Haunted History”.

Tananarive Due’s new novel The Reformatory (Saga, Aug.) opens with this dedication: “For Robert Stephens, my great-uncle who died at the Dozier School for Boys in Marianna, Florida, in 1937. He was fifteen years old.”

Due learned of Stephens’s existence 10 years ago, when she got a call from the Florida state attorney general’s office telling her she likely had a relative buried at the Dozier School, a reform school operated by the state from 1900 to 2011 that has become notorious for its horrific abuse of students. This brutality resulted in the deaths of dozens of boys who were then buried on the premises. After getting the call, Due and her father traveled to the site and attended a meeting of survivors.

Speaking via Zoom from her home office in Upland, Calif., clad in black and with posters for several of her works framed on the wall behind her, Due recalls the meeting: “I heard the firsthand testimony of survivors, Black and white, and the things that they had been through,” she says. “Some of those stories I will just never forget.”

Due mentions a man who spoke about receiving a beating so violent that the school physician had to remove pieces of his clothing from the lash marks on his back. “And this was a white man,” she notes, “which I say because if you’re talking about the segregation era, the 1960s and the 1950s, if they’re treating white students like that—white prisoners—you can only imagine how they’re treating the Black prisoners.”

Learning of her personal connection to the institution inspired Due to write The Reformatory, a ghost story that fictionalizes the experience of her great-uncle at Dozier. It’s set in 1950, when 12-year-old Black boy Robert Stephens is convicted of the crime of kicking a white boy. After being sent to the Gracetown Reformatory for Boys, Stephens finds himself under the jurisdiction of the sadistic Superintendent Haddock.

The school is also crawling with the “haints,” or ghosts, of boys who were killed there, and Haddock soon discovers that Robert has a gift for spotting them….

… “My real wish was to create almost a historical fable,” Due says, “but built on reality, where I could raise awareness about the horrible things that happened at the Dozier School and in the Jim Crow South in general.” Using the format of a ghost story also allowed her to put a spotlight on a broken criminal justice system “without retraumatizing readers.”…

(11) ZILLIONS OF CATEGORIES, MISTER RICO! [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Oh my good ghod there are tons and tons and tons of categories here. And, despite the name of the award, it covers a lot more than just trailers. All that said, quite a percentage of the nominees are genre or genre related. “Golden Trailer Awards Nominations List: ‘Stranger Things,’ ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,’ ‘Ted Lasso’ & ‘Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery’ Among Most Nominated” at Deadline.

The Golden Trailer Awards has unveiled its nominees for its 23rd annual extravaganza taking place on Thursday, June 29th at The Orpheum Theatre in Los Angeles. The awards show honors the creative teams that are tasked with condensing two-hour films into two-minute trailers.

Films that received the most mentions include Black Panther: Wakanda ForeverDungeons & Dragons: Honor Among ThievesGlass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, Nope and Oppenheimer. The TV series that were the most nominated included Ted LassoStranger Things and Only Murders in the Building.

This awards show highlights the phenomenal trailers from the current year. The 2023 jury comprises an illustrious lineup of A-list directors, producers, actors, writers, executives, and advertising creatives. Winners are awarded in categories such as Best Action, Comedy, Drama, Documentary, Horror, Foreign, Video Game, Romance, and more….

(12) TRANSFORMERS FRANCHISE POPULARITY RANKING. With the premiere this week of Transformers: Rise of the Beasts, JustWatch has checked how many people are viewing the various films in the Transformers franchise.

Classic Transformers claims the first position, followed closely by Bumblebee in second place, which outshines the third-ranked Transformers: The Last Knight. The sixth spot is occupied by Transformers: Dark of the Moon. completing the lineup.

(13) DON’T LET IT BUG YOU. Mant (1993) is the story of a man who has mutated into a giant ant.

This 16-minute film in glorious black and white is the complete ‘film within a film’, which was featured in Joe Dante’s Matinee from 1993. A parody or homage morphing of several low-budget science-fiction horror films of the 1950s (many in black & white) that fused radioactivity with mad science and mutation.

(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. The Good Omens Season 2 Opening Title Sequence has been released.

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

Pixel Scroll 1/8/23 “Repent, Harlan!” Said The Pixelman

(1) COSINE COMMUNITY. COSine 2023, the Colorado Springs Science Fiction Convention, will be held January 20-22. Guests of honor include author Martha Wells, science guests Drs. Louise & James Gunderson, Experts in Robotics & Artificial Intelligence, artist Kyle Crutcher, a Retro-Futurist Potter, and special guests Connie Willis and Courtney Willis.

Their latest news letter also calls attention to the needs of their Artist Guest of Honor from 2020, Peri Charlifu, who is having some health issues. Although he (and his amazing pottery) will still be at COSine this year, it looks like he is going to be dealing with a lot in 2023. There is a GoFundMe running for those who’d like to help out: “Peri’s Medical Support Fund ~ Stage Four”.

In late December 2022, Peri shared with us that “I have been dealing with kidney failure for a while now. My last trip to the nephrologist was not a great one. She’s moved me into stage four renal failure and I’m looking at dialysis soon, maybe as soon as next year. I have some options, but in any case, it will mean a pretty big change to my life. Whatever kind of dialysis I elect to pursue, I will need some sort of surgery, and if I can get a transplant, I will also need major surgery. This will critically impact my work schedule, I will be unable to work in my studio and I will not be able to throw or do any type of kiln or glaze work. So I need to make as much inventory now as I can, so I have something to send to shows while I’m convalescing. Because of this, I will not be as active at conventions, in programming or in running the art shows. I hope you all understand. Thank you, I’m optimistic that I’ll eventually be OK.”

(2) ADVICE FROM THE STARS. The LA Review of Books says “Hurray for Inventing New Genres or Whatever: On Dr. Moiya McTier’s ‘The Milky Way’”.

LOOKING FOR a New Year’s resolution? According to Dr. Moiya McTier, the Milky Way galaxy has a few for you: “Ask questions about the world around you and find real answers to them. Decide you deserve better and fight to clean your sky of all kinds of pollution — trust me, I’m worth it. Or make beautiful art that people can talk about long after you’ve shuffled off your particular mortal coil.”

If that seems like a lot for one year, don’t worry. The Milky Way is on a tight schedule, so it has condensed a galactic lifetime of advice and insight into a compact book entitled The Milky Way: An Autobiography of Our Galaxy. “My telling you this story — my story — is a gift,” the Milky Way reminds its readers, “[i]t’s like Beyoncé taking time out of her ‘busy’ schedule to personally give you singing lessons.” But who is the Milky Way galaxy to invoke Beyoncé, tell us how to live, or, for that matter, talk at all? And why is it speaking out now?

McTier, the author behind the Milky Way’s voice, became the first Black woman to earn her PhD in astronomy at Columbia after majoring in astrophysics along with folklore and mythology at Harvard. She has since built a career in science communication and storytelling that includes collaborations with PBS and Disney. In an interview for this publication, McTier described the Milky Way as a “larger-than-life character” who “looks at us and sees a homogeneous group.” She elaborated that “the idea that there are different types of humans is absurd to the galaxies,” but to McTier, who grew up in a log cabin in rural Pennsylvania, this idea was a formative influence. The autobiography’s foreword reveals how, in a community that “had only ever seen a Black person on TV,” McTier looked to the sun and moon as her imaginary parents and emotional support system. …

(3) UPHILL ALL THE WAY. The Washington Post looks at “Why it took 43 years to bring ‘Kindred’ to TV”.

Fans and critics can’t yet decide on the success of FX’s take on Octavia E. Butler’s “Kindred,” calling it “thrilling” but “uneven,” “provocative” yet “skimpy.” But there’s one thing they do agree on.

“It’s about damn time,” said author and film historian Tananarive Due, echoing the long-bottled frustration of Butlerphiles who have been waiting patiently (and somewhat hesitantly) for one of her most popular stories to make the leap from page to screen. Nearly 43 years after the novel’s publication and 16 years after Butler’s untimely death at 58, “Kindred’s” arrival on Hulu last month was a result of political movements, box-office trends, and a bit of luck.

Since its debut in 1979, Kindred has been “optioned” — industry parlance for the nascent stage of adaptation — in one form or another. Almost 20 years later, celebrated playwright Branden Jacob Jenkins discovered the novel as a tween on a shelf at Sister Space, a D.C. indie bookstore centering Black female authors and stories. It’d be another two decades before Jacob Jenkins, the series creator, would see his interpretation of Butler’s work available to binge on Hulu. The process wasn’t just long, it was Sisyphean.

“I like to say it’s a miracle whenever a Black property makes it to the screen because Hollywood is very risk adverse,” explained Due, who has firsthand knowledge of the improbability of the book-to-TV pipeline. Back in the mid-2000s, Due pitched an adaptation of her novel “The Good House,” about family history entwined with a haunted house. During one such meeting, an executive asked if the Black characters centered in her story “had to be Black.”

“That’s what Octavia was up against,” Due said. “No matter how much her work was beloved, the gatekeepers were not looking for stories in the speculative realm featuring Black characters. No one was asking for that. Hollywood was always an uphill climb and a hard sell.”

(4) SPELL CHECKING. It’s a big trend — “Spellbound: why ‘witch lit’ is the hottest new genre on our bookshelves” — and the Guardian looks for answers.

Someone, or something, shadowy has put a strong spell on popular literature aimed at women, once cheekily labelled “chick lit”. This perky genre, packaged in bright covers, jauntily titled and so long a mainstay of the publishing industry, has been slowly transforming into something darker and rich with sorcery, with 2023 set to be a new high point in a growing “witch lit” trend.

“Witches are definitely a big thing, which is exciting and fun,” said Phoebe Morgan, a publisher at Hodder Fiction, “but it also has something to do with a sense that women’s rights are in danger of being stripped away again, with things like the overturning of Roe v Wade in America. These books are often concerned with pregnancy, abortion and abuse, as well as magic.”

Several big forthcoming titles in the adult women’s market are concerned with witches and witchcraft, with female persecution developing as a main theme. Next month, Emilia Hart’s much-heralded Weyward will hit bookshops, telling an epic story of three generations of women entangled with magic. But space around the bubbling cauldron is already crowded. Kirsty Logan’s Now She Is Witch will already have staked its place, with publication this week….

(5) FREE READ. Sunday Morning Transport offers a free story by Sarah Rees Brennan, “Tears Waiting to Be Diamonds: Part One”.

… “Make haste, my prince,” warned Hrim. “Your uncle has risen against your father and usurped the throne. Your father and brothers met axe blades in the dark, wielded by the lovers your uncle placed by their sides. Your sisters’ nurses were bribed, their defenses are breached. You’re the last hope.”…

(6) DOT’S ALL, FOLKS! Clive Thompson discusses “What I Learned About My Writing By Seeing Only The Punctuation” at Medium, and shared an online gadget where you can run your own tests — just the punctuation. (An item via Steven H Silver that dates to 2021.)

…I love this concept! And he’s right — when you look at those writers’ punctuation, you can see, in a quick glance, how different they are.

They’re also gorgeous graphics — you want to print them up, hang them on your wall, tweet them out. Calhoun himself was originally inspired by a series of posters that stripped out the punctuation of famous novels and arrayed them in a spiral. When I tweeted about Calhoun’s project last month it quickly spread far and wide — I realized that a lot of people find punctuation-analysis both revealing and beautiful….

Here’s what was distilled from a couple pages of my own fanwriting.

(7) MEMORY LANE.

1907 [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.] L. Frank Baum’s Ozma of Oz

Today’s essay is upon an extended quote from L. Frank Baum’s Ozma of Oz: A Record of Her Adventures with Dorothy Gale of Kansas, Billina the Yellow Hen, the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, the Cowardly Lion and the Hungry Tiger; Besides Other Good People Too Numerous to Mention Faithfully Recorded Herein. Yes, that is the actual title.  Forty words I believe. Somebody tell Scott Edelman.

It was published on July 30, 1907 by Reilly & Britton who published all of the Oz novels. It was officially the third book of Baum’s Oz series. It was the first in which Baum was indicated that there would be a series of Oz novels of which there would eventually be fourteen. 

The book was illustrated lavishly in color by John R. Neill. 

Did you know Reilly & Lee, the American publisher who was very desperate to keep the series going, selected Ruth Plumly Thompson to continue the series? So she wrote another nineteen, followed by three Oz books written by John R. Neill, two by Jack Snow and one each by Rachel Cosgrove Payes and by Eloise Jarvis McGraw & her daughter. Wow. 

It bears this dedication: “To all the boys and girls who read my stories – and especially to the Dorothys – this book is lovingly dedicated.”

And here’s the quote I selected which is a delightful look at lunch box trees: 

One was quite full of square paper boxes, which grew in clusters on all the limbs, and upon the biggest and ripest boxes the word “Lunch” could be read, in neat raised letters. This tree seemed to bear all the year around, for there were lunch-box blossoms on some of the branches, and on others tiny little lunch-boxes that were as yet quite green, and evidently not fit to eat until they had grown bigger.

The leaves of this tree were all paper napkins, and it presented a very pleasing appearance to the hungry little girl.

But the tree next to the lunch-box tree was even more wonderful, for it bore quantities of tin dinner-pails, which were so full and heavy that the stout branches bent underneath their weight. Some were small and dark-brown in color; those larger were of a dull tin color; but the really ripe ones were pails of bright tin that shone and glistened beautifully in the rays of sunshine that touched them.

Dorothy was delighted, and even the yellow hen acknowledged that she was surprised.

The little girl stood on tip-toe and picked one of the nicest and biggest lunch-boxes, and then she sat down upon the ground and eagerly opened it. Inside she found, nicely wrapped in white papers, a ham sandwich, a piece of sponge-cake, a pickle, a slice of new cheese and an apple. Each thing had a separate stem, and so had to be picked off the side of the box; but Dorothy found them all to be delicious, and she ate every bit of luncheon in the box before she had finished.

“A lunch isn’t zactly breakfast,” she said to Billina, who sat beside her curiously watching. “But when one is hungry one can eat even supper in the morning, and not complain.”

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 8, 1908 William Hartnell. The very first Doctor who appeared when Doctor Who originally aired on November 23rd, 1963. He would be the Doctor for three years leaving when a new Showrunner came on. He played The Doctor once more during the tenth anniversary story The Three Doctors (aired 1972–73) which was the last thing he filmed before his death. I scanned through the usual sources but didn’t find any other genre listing for him. Is that correct? (Died 1975.)
  • Born January 8, 1925 Steve Holland. Did you know there was a short lived Flash Gordon series, thirty-one episodes in 1954 – 1955 to be precise? I didn’t until I discovered the Birthday for the lead in this show today. Except for four minor roles, this was his entire TV career. Biography in “Flash Gordon: Journey to Greatness” would devote an entire show to him and this series. (Died 1997.)
  • Born January 8, 1941 Boris Vallejo, 82. Illustrator whose artwork has appeared on myriad genre publications. Subjects of his paintings were gods, hideous monsters, well-muscled male swordsmen and scantily clad females. Early illustrations of Tarzan, Conan the Barbarian and Doc Savage established him as an illustrator.
  • Born January 8, 1942 Stephen Hawking. Y’all know who he is, but did you know that Nimoy was responsible for his appearance as a holographic representation of himself in the “Descent” episode on Next Gen?  He also guest starred in Futuruma and had  a recurring role on The Big Bang Theory. Just before his death, he was the voice of The Book on the new version of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy radio series. (Died 2018.)
  • Born January 8, 1947 David Bowie. First SF role was as Thomas Jerome Newton in The Man Who Fell to Earth. He plays The Shark in Yellowbeard, a film that Monty Python should have produced but didn’t. Next up is the superb Labyrinth where he was Jareth the Goblin King, a role perfect for him. There’s a sixty scale figure from Hot Toys that is stellar. He shows up again in The Hunger later on as The Host. From that role, he went on to being Pontius Pilate in The Last Temptation of Christ, an amazing role by the way. He was in Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me as FBI Agent Phillip Jeffries, a role which was his last role when he appeared later in the Twin Peaks series.  He also played Nikola Tesla in The Prestige from Christopher Priest’s novel of the same name. (Died 2016.)
  • Born January 8, 1977 Amber Benson, 46. Best known for her role as Tara Maclay on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Her post-BtVS genre credits are scant with a bit of work on Supernatural, a Sci-fi Channel film called Gryphon, a web series called The Morganville Vampires and, I kid you not, a film called One-Eyed Monster which is about an adult film crew encountering monsters. She is by the way a rather good writer. She’s written a number of books, some with Christopher Golden such as the Ghosts of Albion series and The Seven Whistlers novel which I read when Subterranean Press sent it to Green Man for review. Her Calliope Reaper-Jones series is quite excellent too.
  • Born January 8, 1979 Sarah Polley, 44. H’h what did I first see her in? Ahhhh she was in The Adventures of Baron Munchausen! Let’s see what else she’s done… She’s been in the animated Babar: The MovieExistenzNo Such Thing (which is based very loosely on Beowulf), Dawn of the DeadBeowulf & Grendel (well sort of based on the poem but, errr, artistic license was taken) and Mr. Nobody.

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • That’s Doctor to you — Eek!

(10) APES THAT PULL RUGS. “Mutant Ape Planet NFT developer charged with fraud in Brooklyn federal court”, and the Brooklyn Eagle is there.

A developer of the NFT known as Mutant Ape Planet was charged in the Eastern District of New York for allegedly defrauding investors of $2.9 million. Aurelien Michel, a 24-year-old, French national who lives in Dubai, was charged with defrauding purchasers of his non-fungible token (NFT), a type of digital asset, of more than $2.9 million. Michel was arrested at John F. Kennedy International Airport on Wednesday night and appeared before Magistrate Judge James Cho on Thursday.

… Rug pulls have become a common scheme for sellers of NFTs, but this would be one of the biggest ever as it would potentially be bigger than the Big Daddy Ape Club, that allegedly cost investors $1.3 million at the time, the Baller Ape Club, that allegedly cost investors $2.6 million….

(11) IT’S NOT PRINCE SPAGHETTI DAY. No matter how saucy it gets. Vulture is delighted to report, “’Wednesday’ Season 2 Renewed at Netflix: What We Know”.

Get ready to dance, dance, dance with your hands above your head, Wednesday fans. The Jenna Ortega–led show has officially escaped Netflix’s one-and-done cancellation curse and been renewed for a second season. “It’s been incredible to create a show that has connected with people across the world. Thrilled to continue Wednesday’s tortuous journey into season two,” showrunners and executive producers Alfred Gough and Miles Millar confirmed to Tudum.com. “We can’t wait to dive head first into another season and explore the kooky spooky world of Nevermore. Just need to make sure Wednesday hasn’t emptied the pool first.” Below, what we know about the goth girl’s next semester at Nevermore Academy, straight from Enid’s gossip blog….

(12) ON SF CONS. [Item by David Doering.] A question to muse: are the decades of cons and the resulting con-fostered SR/F community why we won the culture war?

In terms of global culture, SF cons are a rather unique expression–amateur-run, passion driven–over other fields of interest. Yes, there’s been fraternities and clubs for all kinds of interests. But none seem to have had such an impact with what you and I have seen over the last 50-60 years. 

Going from the despised and avoided, con-energized fans now are the drivers of culture worldwide.  Interesting, no? 

(13) REVEALED FIGURE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Scientific American weighs in on the true meaning of 42. “For Math Fans: A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Number 42”.

The author’s choice of the number 42 has become a fixture of geek culture. It’s at the origin of a multitude of jokes and winks exchanged between initiates. If, for example, you ask your search engine variations of the question “What is the answer to everything?” it will most likely answer “42.” Try it in French or German. You’ll often get the same answer whether you use Google, Qwant, Wolfram Alpha (which specializes in calculating mathematical problems) or the chat bot Web app Cleverbot.

Since the first such school was created in France in 2013 there has been a proliferation of private computer-training institutions in the “42 Network,” whose name is a clear allusion to Adams’s novels. Today the founding company counts more than 15 campuses in its global network. The number 42 also appears in different forms in the film Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. Many other references and allusions to it can be found, for example, in the Wikipedia entry for “42 (number).”

The number 42 also turns up in a whole string of curious coincidences whose significance is probably not worth the effort to figure out. For example:

In ancient Egyptian mythology, during the judgment of souls, the dead had to declare before 42 judges that they had not committed any of 42 sins.

The marathon distance of 42.195 kilometers corresponds to the legend of how far the ancient Greek messenger Pheidippides traveled between Marathon and Athens to announce victory over the Persians in 490 B.C. (The fact that the kilometer had not yet been defined at that time only makes the connection all the more astonishing.)…

(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Ryan George takes us inside the “Clash of the Titans Pitch Meeting” – which begins by straightening out the boss about the fact that there are no Titans in the movie.

[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Todd Mason, Jennifer Hawthorne, David Doering, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Tom Becker.]

Pixel Scroll 11/17/22 Some Scroll Titles Make Me Laugh Out Loud, Some Make Me Wish I Thought Them Up, Others I Never Figure Out

(1) AUDIOBOOKS OF THE YEAR. Audible.com has named its picks for “Best of the Year: The 12 Best Sci-Fi Listens of 2022”.

This year’s sci-fi didn’t shy away from heavy, timely topics like climate change, pandemics, and social justice, but even as the subject matter hit close to home, the listening reached to new heights. Several stunning multicast productions make up this list—as well as narrators we can’t hear enough of. In a world that seems increasingly science fictional by the year, the bar is only set higher for creators in this genre—and this year’s list dares it to inch up just a little more….

Audible’s Sci-Fi Audiobook of the Year, 2022 is Upgrade Soul, an adaptation of Ezra Claytan Daniels’s graphic novel.

…Adapting a visual story to an audio medium is a feat in itself, and rather than simply match frame-for-frame, the author took the opportunity to evolve the story by pushing the boundaries of voice and sound. The production value is stunning, and the cast—Marcia Gay Harden, Wendell Pierce—puts on a masterful performance, quite literally transforming their delivery alongside their characters’ journeys. It’s a listen for sci-fi fans, horror fans, and anyone who has ever felt the fear of being left behind….

(2) THE UNADORNED TEXT. And Bookpage adds to the array of year-end roundups with “Best Science Fiction & Fantasy of 2022”.

There is probably no better way to sum up 2022 than to say it was a year dominated by both horror and hopepunk—sometimes even in the same book….

(3) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites listeners to eavesdrop on Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki in Episode 185 of his Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki

Ekpeki — who won the Best Novelette Nebula Award earlier this year for “O2 Arena” — was up for two Hugo Awards that weekend. Not only as a writer for “O2 Arena” again — but also in the category of Best Editor, Short Form. Plus earlier this month, he won a World Fantasy Award in the category of Best Anthology for The Year’s Best African Speculative Fiction. He has also won the Otherwise, Nommo and British Fantasy Awards, plus has been a finalist for the Locus, British Science Fiction Association, Theodore Sturgeon Memorial, and This Is Horror awards.

His fiction and nonfiction have appeared in or are forthcoming in TordotcomApex MagazineStrange HorizonsAsimov’sGalaxy’s EdgeCosmic Roots and Eldritch Shores, and more. In addition to editing that first ever — and now award-winning — Year’s Best African Speculative Fiction anthology, he also co-edited the award-winning Dominion: An Anthology of Speculative Fiction From Africa and the African Diaspora, as well as — most recently — the Africa Risen anthology from Tordotcom, co-edited with Sheree Renée Thomas and Zelda Knight.

We discussed the reason “shocked” seemed an inadequate word to describe his feelings about winning a Nebula Award earlier this year, what he considered the true prize he won over his Worldcon weekend, how growing up next to a library changed his life, how writing fan fiction helped him get where he is today, the way reading the struggles of a certain character in a Patrick Rothfuss novel helped him deal with his own struggles, what caused him to say “the law cannot help you change the law,” when he decided his novella “Ife-Iyoku, Tale of Imadeyunuagbon” deserved to be a trilogy, the way he does his best work when backed into a corner, how it’s possible for three editors to edit an anthology, and much more.

(4) UNPACKING AFTER THE WORLDCON. Read Morgan Hazelwood’s notes about the Chicon 8 panel “Reaching Past Riordan” or view the video commentary at Morgan Hazelwood: Writer in Progress. The panelists are Beth Mitcham, Kathryn Sullivan, Samantha Lane, Marines Alvarez, and Donna JW Munro.

Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series has led to an explosion of YA speculative fiction that explores mythology and folktales through the adventures of modern-day characters. What’s made this subgenre so popular? And who are some authors to pick up after Percy Jackson? And how has the genre expanded to feature non-Western mythologies?

(5) DAW BOOKS ACQUIRES FIVE NEW FANTASY NOVELS FROM MERCEDES LACKEY. Betsy Wollheim, Publisher at DAW Books, has acquired North American rights to five new books by Mercedes Lackey, represented by Russell Galen at Scovil Galen Ghosh Agency, Inc. 

Mercedes Lackey. Photo by Hudson Stryker

Two books will be set in Lackey’s beloved fantasy world of Valdemar, while the other three will continue her long-running Elemental Masters novels. Lackey is a New York Times-bestselling author and was named a Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association in 2022. 

The first of the new Valdemar novels, written in collaboration with her partner Larry Dixon, is scheduled for Spring 2024. Lackey’s expansive fantasy world of Valdemar includes over thirty novels that span the history of the kingdom. Her most recent books explore the long-awaited story of the founding of the nation by the legendary Baron Kordas Valdemar.

Elemental Masters #17 is scheduled for Fall 2024, with books #18 and #19 to follow in 2025 and 2026. Set in the Regency era, these novels combine historical fantasy and fairytale retellings with powers of elemental magic.

(6) NATIONAL BOOK AWARDS. The National Book Awards 2022 were announced this week. None of the winners is of genre interest, except that one of the stories in Samantha Schweblin’s collection Seven Empty Houses (Best Translated Literature) involves a ghost. The complete list of winners is at the link.

(7) REALLY MAD. Mad Genius Club’s Karen Myers is irate about “Authors misusing tools they don’t understand”. In particular she’s offended by the misuse of sentence fragments, and says she finds Lee Child’s Reacher series delivers endless bad examples. While I like the Reacher books, I have noticed this tendency myself…

…Men’s Adventure Stories™ have certain conventions. When you read the genre, you expect explosive action, mortal peril, expertise, heroes & villains, suffering, triumph (contingent). One of the methods used to convey some of this (action, peril, expertise, suffering) is the use of short sentences, or even sentence fragments. The reason this works is that it mimics, in rhetorical form, the experience of hyper-focus or shock — the ability or need to concentrate, in whole or in part, on single things that absorb all attention in a moment of importance. It therefore puts the reader into the head of the person telling the story, a head which can only look at things that way in that moment. It is vivid.

At least, when it’s done right….

(8) TODAY’S DAY. Craig Miller reminds Facebook readers that today is “Life Day” in the Star Wars universe, and explains its origins with an excerpt from his book Star Wars Memories:

The holiday around which “The Star Wars Holiday Special” was centered. The celebration date was chosen because it’s the anniversary of when the show aired its one and only time on television.

To mark the occasion, here’s an excerpt from “Star Wars Memories”, talking about the special’s creation.

The Star Wars Holiday Special

I had no real involvement with “The Star Wars Holiday Special”. It wasn’t a project I was assigned. I didn’t work on it. But I was at Lucasfilm while it was happening, received copies of each draft of the script as they came in, and heard about what was going on from some of the people working on it. So I have a few insights about it….

(9) MEMORY LANE.

1963 [By Cat Eldridge.] The Pink Panther

Fifty-nine years ago — though I’ll admit not even close to this evening — the first of The Pink Panther films came out. I was thinking about Blake Edwards earlier because of Victor/Victoria, hence this essay. Don’t think about that too much.

The first quite naturally was called The Pink Panther

WARNING SPOILERS THAT WOULD ATTRACT THE ATTENTION OF A CERTAIN PINK PANTHER FOLLOW.

The Pink Panther first shows up in the opening credits which you can see here.

Its story follows inspector Jacques Clouseau as he travels from Rome to Cortina d’Ampezzo to catch a notorious jewel thief known as “The Phantom” before he is able to steal a priceless diamond known as The Pink Panther, so called because one can see a leaping pink panther within it supposedly.

It is held by the heiress to a country now ruled by a military junta. She and the Phantom are at the same resort as is the Inspector. Somehow against all logic the Inspector, played throughout the series by Peter Sellers, is accused of being The Phantom, arrested, and jailed. More amusingly for me, a woman at the resort falls in love with him. 

The film ends after the police car carrying the Inspector to prison runs over a traffic warden which again is the Pink Panther. He gets back up as we hear the crash sound that was coming from the police car, holding a card that reads “THEND” and swipes the letters to somehow read “THE END.”

(A lot of comic mayhem happens that I’ve not covered of course.) 

THE PINK PANTHER SAYS IN SIGN LANGUAGE THAT YOU CAN COME BACK. 

Blake Edwards directed from a screenplay by him and Maurice Richlin. It had a steller cast of David Niven, the aforementioned Peter Sellers, Robert Wagner and Claudia Cardinale. 

Niven who played The Phantom here portrayed had previously played Raffles, the Amateur Cracksman, a character closely resembling the Phantom, in the Raffles film of 1939. Apparently this was presented to him as the beginning of a new series of Raffles-style movies. However Peter Sellers stole every scene, and it became a Sellers vehicle instead.

Peter Ustinov was to play Clouseau, with Ava Gardner as his wife.  After Gardner backed out because The Mirisch Company would not meet her demands for a personal staff, Ustinov left as well. 

Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give it a most excellent seventy-eight percent rating. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 17, 1915 Raymond F. Jones. Writer who is best remembered for his novel This Island Earth, which was made into a movie which was then skewered in Mystery Science Theatre 3000: The Movie. However, he produced a significant number of science fiction novels and short stories which were published in magazines such as Thrilling Wonder Stories, Astounding Stories, and Galaxy, including “Rat Race” and “Correspondence Course”, which respectively earned Hugo and Retro Hugo nominations. (Died 1994.)
  • Born November 17, 1925 Rock Hudson. Best known genre role was as Col. John Wilder in The Martian Chronicles series. He also played President Thomas McKenna in the World War III miniseries which you may or may not consider SF. That’s it. (Died 1985.)
  • Born November 17, 1932 Dennis McHaney. Writer and Critic. Pulp writers in particular seem to attract scholars, both amateur and professional. Robert E. Howard was not an exception. So I give you this individual who, between 1974 and 2008, published The Howard Review and The Robert E. Howard Newsletter. Oh, but that was hardly all he did, as he created reference works such as The Fiction of Robert E. Howard – A Pocket Checklist, Robert E. Howard in Oriental Stories, Magic Carpet and The Souk, and The Fiction of Robert E. Howard: A Quick Reference Guide. A listing of his essays and other works would take an entire page. It has intriguing entries such as Frazetta Trading CardsThe Short, Sweet Life and Slow Agonizing Death of a Fan’s Magazine, and The Films of Steve Reeves. Fascinating… (Died 2011.)
  • Born November 17, 1936 John Trimble, 86. Husband of Bjo Trimble. He has assisted her in almost all of her SF work, including Project Art Show. They were GoHs at ConJose, the 2002 Worldcon. He’s a member of LASFS. He’s been involved in far too many fanzines and APAs too list here. 
  • Born November 17, 1956 Rebecca Moesta Anderson, 66. Wife of Kevin James Anderson with whom she collaborates more often than not. They’ve done dozens of Star Wars novels including the Young Jedi Knights series, and even one in the Buffyverse. 
  • Born November 17, 1966 Ed Brubaker, 56. Comic book writer and artist. Sandman Presents: Dead Boy Detectives I’d consider his first genre work. Later work for DC and Marvel included The AuthorityBatmanCaptain AmericaDaredevilCatwoman and the Uncanny X-Men. If I may single out but one series, it’d be the one he did with writer Greg Rucka which was the Gotham Central series. It’s Gotham largely without Batman but with the villains so GPD has to deal with them by themselves. Grim and well done. In 2016, he joined the writing staff for the Westworld series where he co-wrote the episode “Dissonance Theory” with Jonathan Nolan.
  • Born November 17, 1983 Christopher Paolini, 39. He is the author of the Inheritance Cycle, which consists of the books EragonEldestBrisingr, and Inheritance. A film version of the first novel came out in 2006. The Fork, the Witch, and the Worm, the first book in a series called Tales of Alagaësia, was published in 2018.

(11) MARTHA WELLS Q&A. Media Death Cult’s “Sci Fi Spotlight” interviews Martha Wells. Along the way she mentions that Ben Aaronovich’s Rivers of London is one of her favorites, which one of our reviewers will happy to hear.

Martha Wells is a Hugo and Nebula Award winning author from Texas, she won’t mind me saying that she is most well known for Murderbot.

(12) PARADOX FIFTIETH ANNIVERSARY. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] 50 years ago the first edition of the H G Wells Society clubzine Paradox came out. The Romanian writer Silviu Genescu reminded Facebook readers it had no issue number as the authorities (the communist regime) said that there would be no other issues.

In fact the regime almost did not allow the HG Wells Society to be so named as H G Wells was a western author. However the student club members of the society pointed out that Wells was a socialist in outlook and so the authorities granted permission.

This weekend the 50th anniversary edition of Paradox is coming out.

I know a number of H G Wells members as we, SF2 Concatenation, ran cultural exchange ventures with Hungarian and Romanian SF fans and authors back in the 1990s following the fall of the Iron Curtain. So I am still in touch with a few of them.

(13) YEAR’S TOP GRAPHIC NOVELS. The Washington Post’s Michael Cavna declares these are “The 10 best graphic novels of 2022”.

The engine of graphic-novel publishing — fine-tuned to so many demographics and markets — has run on all cylinders in 2022.

Textured memoirs. Throwback superheroes. Chilling fictional thrills and riveting real-life horror. And retrospectives that dazzle in their devotion to the medium’s history.

Our recommendations could easily number in the hundreds, but to distill our picks, here are 10 stellarcomics that represent an array of genres and styles:

The list includes –

‘The Keeper,’ by Tananarive Due, Steven Barnes and artist Marco Finnegan

The acclaimed husband-and-wife horror authors (NAACP Image Award winners both) team with the gifted Finnegan to render a taut and thrilling tale in which an orphaned Detroit girl must come to terms with the titular spirit. The truth lurks in the omnipresent shadows, and revelations reveal themselves with expert pacing and craft.

(13) UP ABOVE THE WORLD SO HIGH. “Canada’s CBC Books Names Five Finalists for Its 2022 Poetry Prize” and one of them is at least genre adjacent — “To the Astronaut Who Hopes Life on Another Planet Will Be More Bearable” by Brad Aaron Modlin. (Read it at the link.) The winner will be announced on November 24 and will receive a cash prize of 6,000 Canadian dollars (US$4,501) from the Canada Council for the Arts. In addition, the winner gets a two-week writing residency at the Banff Center for Arts and Creativity in Alberta. Each finalist receives 1,000 Canadian dollars (US$750).

(14) HOW THEY DID IT. The New York Times’ “Dressing Wakanda” has a detailed commentary by costume designer Ruth E. Carter about five outfits created for Wakanda Forever. Photos at the link.

…Given that Ms. Carter designed “hundreds of character pieces” for the film, working with ateliers and artists in Los Angeles, Paris, India and New Zealand, not to mention brands including Adidas and Iris van Herpen, the choice was not exactly an easy one….

Carter begins with —

Queen Ramonda, in purple dress and crown

Queen Ramonda’s dress, a combination of computer-generated designs and handwork, took four to six months to make.Eli Adé/Marvel Studios

“She wears this to a U.N. meeting in Geneva, and I wanted you to recognize right away that this is the queen, but because of T’Challa’s death, she is now both the queen and the king. The purple dress represents the color of the royal family — color impacts the audience and story enormously — and she has a 3-D printed crown and collar.

The crown is the same style she wore in the first film, which was also 3-D printed to reflect the fact that Wakandans are technologically advanced enough to create wearable art, and modeled on the isicholo, a Zulu married woman’s hat. The collar has additional gemstones that were added by jeweler Douriean Fletcher. So it’s a combination of computer-generated designs by the artist Julia Koerner and handwork. The dress has a series of Wakandan hieroglyphs going down the center and sides and converge at the neckpiece, so she almost becomes a totem. That is her stature now. It probably took four to six months to make.”

(15) SPLASH LANDING. “Winchcombe meteorite bolsters Earth water theory”BBC News explains.

A meteorite that crashed on the Gloucestershire town of Winchcombe last year contained water that was a near-perfect match for that on Earth.

This bolsters the idea rocks from space brought key chemical components, including water, to the planet early in its history, billions of years ago.

The meteorite is regarded as the most important recovered in the UK.

Scientists publishing their first detailed analysis say it has yielded fascinating insights….

This is the link to the scientific paper: “The Winchcombe meteorite, a unique and pristine witness from the outer solar system”.

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Dr. Matt O’Dowd takes up the question “Are there Undiscovered Elements Beyond The Periodic Table?” on PBS’ Space and Time.

Adamantium, bolognium, dilithium. Element Zero, Kryptonite. Mythril, Netherite, Orichalcum, Unobtanium. We love the idea of fictional elements with miraculous properties that science has yet to discover. But is it really possible that new elements exist beyond the periodic table?

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

Pixel Scroll 10/26/22 Did You Know That Pixel Chases Transdimensional Scrolls?

(1) SHAUN TAN Q&A. Steven Heller interviews artist Shaun Tan for Print in “The Daily Heller: One-Eyed, One-Horned, Flying Purple People Eater”.

You create nightmarish visions that have a witty or acerbic quality, like the one-eyed creature on the cover of your book. Do you lean towards high or comic graphic depictions?
I suppose I hover in between, or try to fuse, as there’s no reason a thing can’t be both. I think of Philip Guston’s paintings, for instance, or a film like Terry Gilliam’s Brazil, which was very influential for me as a teenager, or the comics of Daniel Clowes and Chris Ware—which can be simultaneously funny and painful—the stories of Kelly Link. In fact, I love anything that exists in that space between scary and funny, or serious and frivolous. I suppose I’m interested in figuring out the difference, why we react to some things as creepy and disconcerting, and to others as delightful and amusing. I think the one-eyed creature you mention is a good one for that kind of emotional litmus test. It is both disquieting and inviting, cool and warm. A lot of the work at the easel is about striking that balance, and it is a very precarious balance that can take days to get right. For me it comes down to a backlit feather, the obscured parts of a face, the movement of shadow on stems of grass.

(2) GIANCOLA EXHIBITION. The Huntsville (AL) Museum of Art will host “Donato Giancola: Adventures in Imagination” from October 30 through January 22. Giancola is the winner of three Hugo Awards, a World Fantasy Award, plus 23 Chesley Awards for his superlative work in the field.

Donato Giancola is an American artist specializing in narrative realism with science fiction and fantasy content. Considered the most successful sci-fi/fantasy illustrator working today, he creates engaging paintings that bridge the worlds of contemporary and historical figurative arts. Exclusive to the Huntsville Museum of Art, Adventures in Imagination will include a range of thematic subjects, including paintings and drawings based on the popular HBO series Game of Thrones, J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter, J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, and the fantasy tabletop role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons. Also included are works created to illustrate the covers and stories of recent fantasy novels, as well as other surprises….

(3) CLOSE YOUR EYES. “Doctor Who: Every Companion Featured in the Centenary Special” – in case you don’t have enough spoilage already, CBR.com says they’ve named them all.

“The Power of the Doctor” was significant in Doctor Who history in more ways than one. Not only did the episode see Jodie Whittaker’s Thirteenth Doctor regenerate into one of her former selves for the first time in the series’ history, but the special was part of the BBC’s centenary celebration. The episode marked the occasion well with the return of some familiar faces from the sci-fi series’ long history, which spans more than half the BBC’s lifetime….

(4) A BOOK WITH A DIFFERENT KIND OF PROMOTION. Tananarive Due is named one of the “5 Female Demi-Gods of Horror” by CrimeReads.

TANANARIVE DUE: “Ghost Summer: Stories” (Sept. 2015)

From the USA, I present Ghost Summer: Stories, a collection of horror stories featuring fourteen short stories and the novella, Ghost Summer, from which the book gets its title. The work showcases Due’s undisputable skill as a master storyteller. Due also makes little intimate notes after each story which the reader will find just as engaging. The stories are creepy, and the horror subtle, yet powerful. Stories like The Knowing, (dealing with a woman who knows when everybody she meets is going to die, including her own son) and Ghost Summer, (featuring a town where the children are the only ones to see the ghosts dwelling in their midst) are my personal favourites. The themes of racial injustices, as well as historical events, come together to make this book a must-read for every horror fan this Halloween. Another hit by this fiercely unconventional American horror writer….

(5) IS IT A GOOD FAKE? “When a Modern Director Makes a Fake Old Movie: A Video Essay on David Fincher’s Mank. Open Culture analyzes how effective the deception is.

As of this writing, Mank is David Fincher’s newest movie — but also, in a sense, his oldest. With Netflix money behind him, he and his collaborators spared seemingly no expense in re-creating the look and feel of a nineteen-forties film using the advanced digital technologies of the twenty-twenties. The idea was not just to tell the story of Citizen Kane scriptwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz, but to make the two pictures seem like contemporaries. As Fincher’s production designer Donald Graham Burt once put it, the director “wanted the movie to be like you were in a vault and came across Citizen Kane and next to it was Mank.” ….

Here’s a video about the challenge David Fincher took on.

(6) BECALMED IN WINTER. George R.R. Martin was on Stephen Colbert’s show to promote other books and projects, however, you won’t be surprised that it was only the book he doesn’t have out that made news. In The Hollywood Reporter: “George R.R. Martin Says ‘The Winds of Winter’ Is Now Three-Quarters Finished”.

George R.R. Martin is giving a specific update on his Winds of Winter progress.

The Game of Thrones and House of the Dragon author was on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on Tuesday, where he was asked the mandatory, yet wearisome, question about his progress on the long-long-awaited next A Song of Ice and Fire book.

“I think it’s going to be a very big book [more than 1500 pages] and I think I’m about three-quarters of the way done,” Martin said. “The characters all interweave and I’m actually finished with a couple of the characters, but not others. I have to finish all that weaving.”

Colbert did the math. “So [it’s taken] 10 years to go 75 percent of the way through … which means about … three more years?”

“That’s depressing,” Martin replied, and also lamented that the moment he finishes, he’ll get the first tweet asking when his seventh and final ASOIAF book is coming, A Dream of Spring. The author said he hasn’t even played his hit game, Elden Ring, due to his writing commitment….

(7) THE HILLS ARE ALIVE WITH THE SOUND OF GAIMAN. “Author Neil Gaiman to Release First Album with Australian String Quartet” reports American Songwriter.

Creator of The Sandman, Stardust, American Gods, and countless graphic novels and books, Neil Gaiman is releasing his first album of original music, Signs of Life (Instrumental Recordings) in collaboration with the Australian FourPlay String Quartet, out April 28, 2023.

All words, music, and backing vocals provided by Gaiman, the album comes after the author and quartet have collaborated for more than 12 years. The quartet was first commissioned to compose a soundtrack for Gaiman’s 2010 novella, The Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains, which they later performed together.

Ahead of the April 2023 release, Gaiman and the quartet shared two new singles, “Bloody Sunrise” and “Credo,” the former accompanied by an official music video, directed by James Chappell, featuring Goodridge, who sings lead vocals, lying in a coffin and rising to perform with the FourPlay String Quartet in a graveyard. Gaiman, who also sings backing vocals, also makes a cameo on a flickering television screen at the beginning of the video….

(8) PLANETARY POSTER CHILD. In time for Halloween, NASA’s Exoplanet Exploration webpage invites us into the “Galaxy of Horrors”.

Take a tour of some of the most terrifying and mind-blowing destinations in our galaxy … and beyond. After a visit to these nightmare worlds, you may never want to leave Earth again! You can also download our free posters – based on real NASA science – if you dare.

Here’s an example:

(9) MEMORY LANE.

1950s [By Cat Eldridge.] Ray Bradbury’s EC Comics 

During a particularly wonderful moment in the early 1950s, EC Comics adapted twenty-five classic Ray Bradbury stories into comics form. Al Feldstein scripted, and all of EC’s artists illustrated, his tales  — Johnny Craig, Reed Crandall, Jack Davis, Will Elder, George Evans, Frank Frazetta, Graham Ingels, Jack Kamen, Roy Krenkel, Bernard Krigstein, Joe Orlando, John Severin, Angelo Torres, Al Williamson, and Wallace Wood. 

Now the twenty-five stories themselves were done between 1951 and 1954 in oversized newspaper style design. The volume also includes ten “related” stories.

The title story apparently combines two of his stories, those being “Kaleidoscope” and “Rocket Man”, and Bradbury was very proud of the result. “Sound of Thunder”, which was later filmed, is here as well. So is a favorite story of mine, “The Million Years Picnic”. 

Bradbury had several primary sources for these stories  — the Dark Carnival tales, The Martian ChroniclesThe Golden Apples of the Sun and The Illustrated Man stories.

Now Fantographics has gathered all them including those maybe unauthorized stories in Home to Stay!: The Complete Ray Bradbury EC Stories.

Not at all surprisingly, it has a load of bonus features, including introductions and commentary by Greg Bear, Thommy Burns, Bill Mason, Dr. Benjamin Saunders, and Ted White; a nice look at the comics by Bradbury; and two full-color paintings by Frank Frazetta.

It’s the usual superbly fine work by Fantographics at, all things considered, a very reasonable price, just seventy-five dollars.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 26, 1934 Dan McCarthy. The grand old man of New Zealand fandom. He belonged to Aotearapa, New Zealand’s APA, for 25 years, and was its official editor from 1986-1987 and 2001-2003. As a member, he contributed 77 issues of his fanzine Panopticon, for which he did paintings and color graphics. His skills as a fanartist were widely appreciated: he was a Fan Guest of Honour at the New Zealand national convention, a nominee for the Sir Julius Vogel Award, and he won NZ Science Fiction Fan Awards (the predecessor of the Vogel) Best Fan Artist twice. (Died 2013.) (JJ) 
  • Born October 26, 1942 Bob Hoskins. I’ll insist his role as Eddie Valiant in Who Framed Roger Rabbit? is his finest genre role although I suppose Mario Mario in Super Mario Bros. could be said… Just kidding!  He played Professor George Challenger in a film version of Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World, and also appeared in Snow White and The Huntsman, Hook, the Hugo-nominated Brazil, A Christmas Carol, Son of The Mask, and as the voice of The Badger in an animated version of The Wind in The Willows. (Died 2014.)
  • Born October 26, 1945 Jane Chance, 77. Scholar specializing in medieval English literature, gender studies, and J. R. R. Tolkien with a very, very impressive publication list for the latter such as Tolkien’s Art: A “Mythology for EnglandTolkien the MedievalistThe Lord of the Rings: The Mythology of Power and Tolkien, Self and Other: “This Queer Creature”
  • Born October 26, 1953 Jennifer Roberson, 69. Writer of of fantasy and historical romances. The Chronicles of the Cheysuli is her fantasy series about shapeshifters and their society, and the Sword-Dancer Saga is the desert-based adventure series of sort, but the series I’ve enjoyed most is her Sherwood duology that consists of Lady of the Forest and Lady of Sherwood that tells that tale from the perspective of Marian. Her hobby, which consumes much of her time, is breeding and showing Cardigan Welsh Corgis.
  • Born October 26, 1962 Cary Elwes, 60. He’s in the ever-so-excellent Princess Bride as Westley / Dread Pirate Roberts / The Man in Black which won a Hugo at Nolacon II. He also shows up in Dr. Lawrence Gordon in the Saw franchise, and was cast as Larry Kline, Mayor of Hawkins, for the third season of Stranger Things. And that’s hardly all his genre roles. 
  • Born October 26, 1963 Keith Topping, 59. Writer from England. It being the month of ghoulies, I’ve got another academic for you. He’s published a number of non-fiction reference works – frequently in collaboration with Martin Day and/or Paul Cornell – for various genre franchises, including The Avengers, The X-Files, Stargate SG-1Star Trek Next Generation and Deep Space NineBuffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, and for horror film fans in general, A Vault of Horror: A Book of 80 Great British Horror Movies from 1956-1974. He’s also written four novels in the Doctor Who universe, and co-authored The DisContinuity Guide.
  • Born October 26, 1971 Anthony Rapp, 51. Lieutenant Commander Paul Stamets on Discovery. His first role ever was Wes Hansen in Sky High, and he showed up early in his career as Jeff Glaser in the “Detour” episode of X-Files. He was Seymour Krelbourn in a national tour of Little Shop of Horrors.
  • Born October 26, 1976 Florence Kasumba, 46. Actor of German Ugandan heritage who has done films in English, German, and Dutch languages. She is best known for her role as Ayo in the Marvel universe movies Captain America: Civil War, the Hugo nominated Black Panther, and Avengers: Infinity War, but she also had a role in the Hugo-winning Wonder Woman, played the Wicked Witch of the East in the TV series Emerald City, and voiced a character in the live-action remake of The Lion King.

(11) HO HO HO, IT’S THE GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY. Entertainment Weekly cues up the clip: “The Guardians of the Galaxy kidnap Kevin Bacon in their first holiday special trailer” .

Yes, the real Kevin Bacon.

The Guardians of the Galaxy are rockin’ around the Christmas tree — or is that the Christmas Groot?

Director James Gunn has shared the first trailer for the Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special, teasing our first look at Marvel’s most festive project yet. The upcoming special will debut on Disney+ in November, and it follows everyone’s favorite ragtag band of space weirdos as they cavort around the universe and try to spread a little Christmas cheer….

(12) MAYBE IT’S JUST SOCIAL MEDIA DOES THAT. Try not to be disappointed, however, video games may not rot your brain after all! The Verge reports “Kids who play video games score higher on brain function tests”.

Kids who play video games have better memory and better control over their motor skills than kids who don’t, according to a new study looking at adolescent brain function.

Video games might not be responsible for those differences — the study can’t say what the causes are — but the findings add to a bigger body of work showing gamers have better performance on some tests of brain function. That lends support to efforts to develop games that can treat cognitive problems.

… To study video games and cognition, the research team on this new study pulled from the first set of assessments in the ABCD study. It included data on 2,217 children who were nine and 10 years old. The ABCD study asked participants how many hours of video games they played on a typical weekday or weekend day. The research team divided the group into video gamers (kids who played at least 21 hours per week) and non-video gamers (kids who played no video games per week). Kids who only played occasionally weren’t included in the study. Then, the research team looked at the kids’ performance on tests that measure attention, impulse control, and memory.

The video gamers did better on the tests, the study found…. 

(13) HOW LONG CAN YOU HOLD YOUR BREATH? “NASA instrument detects dozens of methane super-emitters from space” at Yahoo!

An orbital NASA instrument designed mainly to advance studies of airborne dust and its effects on climate change has proven adept at another key Earth-science function – detecting large, worldwide emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas.

The device, called an imaging spectrometer, has identified more than 50 methane “super-emitters” in Central Asia, the Middle East and the Southwestern United States since it was installed in July aboard the International Space Station, NASA said on Tuesday.

The newly measured methane hotspots – some previously known and others just discovered – include sprawling oil and gas facilities and large landfills….

(14) WHY I OTTER… “In Prehistoric Ethiopia, Otters Were as Big as Lions” according to Atlas Obscura.

SOME THREE MILLION YEARS AGO, one of our early hominin ancestors was chowing down on some leaves along a riverbank in what is now Ethiopia. And there it was—440 pounds of fur, with teeth strong enough to crush bone. An otter the size of a large male lion ambled through the dense grasses before bending down to drink from the muddy riverbank. Our ancestor, we figure, crept back into the surrounding woodlands. It doesn’t matter how potentially adorable the giant otter may (or may not) have been, you just don’t want to cross an animal that size.

The otter, Enhydriodon omoensis, is the largest ever found. A new study in the French journal Comptes Rendus Palevol is the first to classify the species, naming it after Ethiopia’s Omo River, where its remains were uncovered. While the study calls the otter “lion-sized,” paleontologist Margaret Lewis of Stockton University in New Jersey, who first analyzed some of the fossils in 2008*, thinks “that’s kind of underselling it.” “Bear otter,” she says, is perhaps a better term to encapsulate just how massive these otters were. Okay, grizzly otter it is….

(15) TOM AND JERRY ON THEIR WAY TO THE CRUSADES. “Artist Makes Astonishing Armor for Cats & Mice”. Open Culture admires the work.

…Using steel, silver, brass, bronze, nickel, copper, leather, fiber, wood, and his delicate jewelry making tools, DeBoer became the cats’ armorer, spending anywhere from 50 to 200 hours producing each increasingly intricate suit of feline armor.  A noble pursuit, but one that inadvertently created an “imbalance in the universe”:

The only way to fix it was to do the same for the mouse.

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Game Trailers:  Grounded,” the Screen Junkies say this game, where you shrink to bug size and run around a back yard, is a cross between Honey, I Shrunk The Kids and “any survival game you’ve ever played.” With the game explorers’ “greatest fear:  touching grass.”  But what other game lets you paint your own sphid?

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

Pixel Scroll 10/21/22 < PanGalacticGargleBlaster-Emoji > < MTBR-Emoji > < Sleeping-Credential-Emoji >

(1) AS THE DAYS DWINDLE DOWN. Is it the end of the year so soon? Publishers Weekly has announced its selection of 150 “Best Books 2022”. Here’s what they picked in the “SF/Fantasy/Horror” category.

  • The Golden Enclaves by Naomi Novik (Del Rey)
  • The Hacienda by Isabel Cañas (Berkley)
  • Leech by Hiron Ennes (Tordotcom)
  • Lonely Castle in the Mirror by Mizuki Tsujimura, trans. from the Japanese by Philip Gabriel (Erewhon)
  • Moon Witch, Spider King by Marlon James (Riverhead)
  • The Mountain in the Sea by Ray Nayler (MCD)
  • Ocean’s Echo by Everina Maxwell (Tor)

(2) WHAT’S SAUCE FOR THE GOOSE? Aja Romano’s article for Vox, “Xi Jinping’s crackdown on fandom and social media, explained”, primarily discusses China’s pop music fans, especially fans of Kpop, however it’s still instructive.

…Fans, locally and abroad, are motivated by deeply personal, often byzantine motivations that no amount of outside interference — even from the Chinese government — can moderate. If anything, its attempts to do so only remind us how universal the problem of controlling uncontrollable social media has become. In a way, it’s as though the Chinese government has engaged in a game of whack-a-mole: The more it attempts to crack down on extreme fandom behavior, the more creative fans get at dodging its regulations and the more extreme that behavior becomes.

In a strange twist, the very fandom communities the CCP [Chinese Communist Party] is most concerned about may also be the ones that are unexpectedly helping to spread its political agenda. A recently published study from researchers at Concordia University and York University, conducted between January 2020 and October 2021, looked at the way danmei fans online interacted with the CCP’s restrictions. They found that in the absence of clarity around many of the restrictions, the fans themselves, through a mix of speculation and “accusatory reporting” — that is, reporting or threatening to report each other to authorities for perceived transgressions — were doing a more efficient job policing themselves than the government ever could. In essence, the fans who tried to conduct their subversive fandoms within the parameters of the regime “strengthened the political authority’s practice and narrative.”

Ultimately, the biggest irony of the Qinglang campaign is that it may have ensured the communities the government wanted to “clean and clear” are messier than ever. “In my friend circle, we often say the only people ‘cleaned’ are the normal fans,” one fan told me. “The toxics are completely unaffected.”

(3) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites listeners to dig into dim sum with the Nebula Award-winning Eileen Gunn in episode 193 of the Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Eileen Gunn

My guest this time around is Eileen Gunn, who received the Nebula Award in 2005 for “Coming to Terms,” a story inspired, in part, by her friendship with Avram Davidson, about whom she’s working on a biography. She also won Japan’s Sense of Gender Award, and has been nominated for the Hugo, Philip K. Dick, Locus, and Tiptree awards. Her short story collections include Stable Strategies and Others (2004), Questionable Practices (2014), and most recently Night Shift Plus … , out earlier this year as part of the PM Press Outspoken Authors Series. From 2001-2008, she was editor and publisher of the influential webzine The Infinite Matrix. She served for 22 years on the board of directors for Clarion West, and taught there and at numerous other creative writing workshops. She also had a lengthy career in technical advertising and website management in Boston, Seattle, and New York.

We discussed how it’s possible to write when you always have writers block, the Ursula K. Le Guin story which convinced her she could have a career in science fiction, the two most important things she wants aspiring writers to know, her early advertising career writing funny ads for shoes she didn’t like, the reason she believes “I don’t decide what the story is until after I’ve finished it,” which famous science fiction writer wrote the box copy for Screaming Yellow Zonkers, the question Kate Wilhelm asked her at Clarion which unlocked the unknown ending of a story in progress, the way her years in the ad business helped her become a better writer, how Carol Emshwiller made her a person of interest with a sheriff’s department, what she said on a Worldcon panel which was so outrageous the audience had to be told she was joking, how Psychology Day magazine was almost sued over Frankenstein because they didn’t listen listen to my advice, and much more.

(4) IN DYSON’S SPHERE. Jeremy Bernstein recounts his half-century friendship with the renowned scientist and visionary in “Freeman Dyson and Me” at the MIT Press Reader.

…That summer he went off to the General Atomic division of the large firm General Dynamics in La Jolla to consult, and I went to the RAND Corporation in Santa Monica to do likewise. It was not a success.

Although RAND had the superficial atmosphere of a college campus, it was devoted to the strategy of nuclear war. The Falstaffian figure of Herman Kahn was assuring everyone that a few megadeaths in an exchange with the Soviets would be quite tolerable. I recall once going into a room with the other RAND physicists where a seismograph had been set up. We watched while it registered the quavers from a hydrogen bomb test in the Pacific. I found the whole atmosphere very depressing. In the meanwhile, the secretary we had in our building at the Institute was forwarding mail along with the gossip. I learned that Dyson was designing a spaceship, that he had been to a bullfight, and had been bitten by a dog. I wrote a note to him saying that if any of these three things were true, he was having a better time than I was. Much to my surprise, a day or so later the phone rang, and it was Dyson inviting me to come down to La Jolla. I jumped at the chance.

It turned out that all three of these things were true, and the spaceship, which was supposed to be powered by the exploding atomic bombs, was called the “Orion.” It is not an accident that this was the name of a spaceship in Kubrick’s “2001.” There was more. He had been stopped by the police for walking. They had some reason: he had broken his glasses and was wearing scuba diving goggles to assist his vision. When asked for identification, he produced a card with his picture and fingerprints on it from the Department of Defense. It said that the bearer of this card was entitled to receive top-secret information. One can only wonder what went through the police officer’s mind….

(5) TROLLING. [Item by Danny Sichel.] Sakeina Syed’s article for The Walrus, “The Rings of Power Has a Troll Problem”, is about the outsize effect of online racists, and how the productions try to deal with them.

…Beneath assertions of fandom pride and purity seethes a maelstrom of abject racism. The now-deleted YouTube comment barrage is one strand in a much larger web of backlash, diligently stoked by subgroups of fans that seem hell-bent on tanking the series.

While it’s long been present, the racism in groups of pop culture fans online has rapidly gained coordination and sophistication in recent years. Behind-the-scenes planning has allowed relatively small minorities of users to flood online spaces. These campaigns go beyond seemingly trivial internet chatter and have the power to shape the future of projects, the careers of BIPOC actors, and the film and TV industry as a whole.

…FOR THE FANS who don’t subscribe to the racist and misogynistic rhetoric, those clamouring voices are a source of dismay, antithetical to the works they know and love. Anna María is a UK-based actor, community organizer, and self-described armchair Tolkien expert who was first introduced to the series at the age of seven. “Bigotry hurts more when it comes from a space you once associated only with joy,” she writes in an email.

“Seeing racist comments (and facing some myself) from fellow Tolkien fans . . . is infinitely more personal and hurtful. I know it makes me—and many of my friends—feel decidedly unwelcome in the fandom.”…

(6) CATCHING UP WITH CHICON. Read Morgan Hazelwood’s notes about the Chicon 8 panel “Fairytales & Folklore in Urban Fantasy” or view the video commentary at Morgan Hazelwood: Writer in Progress.

As humans, we look for patterns everywhere. So, when we see a new story, draped in the shape of a well-known fairytale, the vibrant mix of the familiar with the new and strange can be irresistible to many of us as readers. There’s a reason that wrapping fairytales and folklore in urban fantasies has proven so popular.

In 1987, Charles de Lint published Jack, the Giant Killer, a retelling of a fairytale set in 1980s Ottawa. This novel, along with Terri Windling’s Borderlands, became part of the foundation of the urban fantasy subgenre. How was utilizing folktales in contemporary settings revolutionary in the 1970s and 80s? How have fairy and folk tales influenced urban fantasy since then? Join us as we explore the roots of one of the most influential subgenres of the early 21st century.

The titular panel at ChiCon8/WorldCon 80 was moderated by Alma Alexander and featured Adam Stemple, Sharon Sheffield, and C.L. Polk. The insightful discussion wandered a ways from the given description but stayed on topic….

(7) MEMORY LANE.

1972 [By Cat Eldridge.] Ray Bradbury’s The Halloween Tree

Tom Skelton shivered. Anyone could see that the wind was a special wind this night, and the darkness took on a special feel because it was All Hallows’ Eve. Everything seemed cut from soft black velvet or gold or orange velvet. Smoke panted up out of a thousand chimneys like the plumes of funeral parades. From kitchen windows drifted two pumpkin smells: gourds being cut, pies being baked. — The Halloween Tree

I love everything that he wrote unreservedly. Now I am not saying that everything was great but I go into reading something by him knowing that there’s a very good chance that I’ll enjoy it. And I really like him as, well, himself.

Now we come to this book. I’m assuming that being from the upper Midwest that he was well-versed, indeed deep in the bone, in the ways of Halloween. So it was rather appropriate that he’d write this novel fifty years ago with illustrations by Joseph Mugnaini who worked extensively with Bradbury. You can hear him here talking about working with Bradbury.

Doubleday published the first edition in June 1972 within Mugnaini doing all the art.

IF YOU’VE HAVEN’T READ OR, YES, SEEN IT, GO HIDE UNDER BED FOR NOW. [SPOILERS]

Bradbury is stellar here. Truly brilliant.

Lifelong friends do what such boys always do on this day: trick-or-treating. However, they discover that a ninth friend has been whisked away on a journey, a really fantastic journey, that could in the end say whether he lives or dies. 

Through the help of a mysterious character named Carapace Clavicle Moundshroud (and doesn’t our author have a way with names?) they pursue their friend across the universe through the old civilizations of Egypt, Greece, and Rome, learn what Celtic Druids are like, visit the Cathedral Notre Dame in Medieval Paris, and finish their journey at Mexican Day of the Dead. 

Like an overstuffed goose, they consume and hopefully digest a lot of stuff on this fantastic night. (They are young kids after all.) Bradbury speaking through Moundshroud as the narrator is rather a good guide here. 

We are made aware that the Halloween Tree itself, with its myriad branches oh so heavy with jack-o’-lanterns, is Bradbury’s metaphor for the historical confluence of all these traditions.

COME OUT NOW. MOTHER’S BAKING CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES AND MAKING COCOA IN THE KITCHEN. 

Hanna-Barbera nineteen years later would make it into an animated film. Bradbury serves as the narrator of the film, which also has Nimoy as Moundshroud. Bradbury also wrote the film’s Emmy Award winning screenplay.

Now here’s where we loop oddly enough back to the children’s book. That work originated five years before it was published as a screenplay as an unproduced collaboration with animator Chuck Jones. Now think about that being actually done!  No idea if the illustrated screenplay exists as a published work but I wanted it really badly.  

The Halloween Tree is shown on the Cartoon pretty much continuously during this month. It enjoys an eighty-eight percent rating at Rotten Tomatoes among audience reviewers.

The children’s book is available at the usual suspects for a very reasonable price.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 21, 1929 Ursula K. Le Guin. Ursula K. Le Guin: Writer, Artist, Editor, Poet, and Translator. She called herself a “Narrative American”. And she most emphatically did not consider herself to be a genre writer – instead preferring to be known as an “American novelist”. Oh, she wrote genre fiction with quite some brillance, be it the Earthsea sequence, The Left Hand of DarknessThe Dispossessed, or Always Coming Home. Her upbringing as the daughter of two academics, one who was an anthropologist and the other who had a graduate degree in psychology, with a home library full of SF, showed in her writing.  She wrote reviews and forewards for others’ books, gave academic talks, and did translations as well. Without counting reader’s choice awards, her works received more than 100 nominations for pretty much every genre award in existence, winning most of them at least once; she is one of a very small group of people who have won Hugo Awards in all four fiction length categories. She was Guest of Honor at the 1975 Worldcon; was the second woman to be named SFWA Grand Master; was given a World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement; and was awarded the National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. In later years, she took up internet blogging with great delight, writing essays and poems, and posting pictures and stories of her cat Pard; these were compiled into a non-fiction collection, No Time to Spare: Thinking About What Matters, which won a posthumous Hugo for Best Related Work. Her last Hugo was at Dublin 2019 for The Books of Earthsea: The Complete Illustrated Edition which was illustrated by Charles Vess. (Died 2018.)
  • Born October 21, 1937 Richard Meredith. writer, graphic designer and illustrator who’s best remembered  for the most excellent We All Died at Breakaway Station and his Timeliner Trilogy. He wasn’t prolific in his shorter works, producing only eleven total novellas, novelettes and short stories. His only Award was the Phoenix, the lifetime achievement award for a science fiction professional who has done a great deal for Southern Fandom.  He died when he was only forty-one, following a stroke. Awakening, his last novel, was published by St. Martin’s Press after his death. (Died 1979.)
  • Born October 21, 1945 Vicki Ann Heydron, 77. Wife of Randall Garrett with whom she wrote almost all of her fiction. Her first work, “Keepersmith” was published in Asimov’s in 1979. I recommend the Gandalara Cycle beginning with The Steel of Raithskar with her husband that ended seven books later with The River Wall. 
  • Born October 21, 1952 Robin McKinley, 70. Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast was her first book. It was considered a superb work and was named an American Library Association Notable Children’s Book and an ALA Best Book for Young Adults. Rose Daughter is another version of that folktale, whereas Spindle’s End is the story of Sleeping Beauty, and Deerskin and two of the stories that you can find in The Door in the Hedge are based on other folktales. She does a superb telling of the Robin Hood legend in The Outlaws of Sherwood. Among her novels that are not based on folktales are SunshineChalice and Dragonhaven. Her 1984 The Hero and the Crown won the Newbery Medal as that year’s best new American children’s book. She was married to Peter Dickinson from 1991 to his death in 2015; they lived together in Hampshire, England where she still lives. They co-wrote two splendid collections, Water: Tales of Elemental Spirits and Fire: Tales of Elemental Spirits. I’d be very remiss not to note her Awards, to wit a Newbery Honor for The Blue Sword, then a Newbery Medal for The Hero and the Crown, a World Fantasy Award for Anthology/Collection for Imaginary Lands, as editor, a Phoenix Award Honor Book for Beauty and a Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature for Sunshine. Impressive indeed!
  • Born October 21, 1952 Candas Jane Dorsey, 70. Canadian writer who’s the winner of the Prix Aurora Award and the Otherwise Award for gender bending SF for her Black Wine novel. She’s also won a Prix Aurora Award for her short story, “Sleeping in a Box”.  She’s one of the founders of SF Canada was founded as an authors collective in the late Eighties as Canada’s National Association of Speculative Fiction Professionals. At the present time, she appears to have little available from the usual digital suspects save two mysteries about her “queer, nameless, amateur detective.”
  • Born October 21, 1976 Lavie Tidhar, 46. The first work I read by him was Central Station which won a John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best Science Fiction Novel. It certainly deserved that accolade! The next work by him I experienced was The Bookman Histories in which Mycroft Holmes is murdered and, well, everything of a pulp nature gets tossed into alternate history England. Both absolutely brilliant and completely annoying at the same time. I’ve just read Unholy Land, his telling of the founding of a Jewish homeland long ago in Africa, and I’m now reading Neom, his sequel to Central Station. It’s quite, quite stellar.

(9) CAPE FEAR. Steve Vertlieb, seeing yesterday’s mention of the star’s birthday, invites all to read “Vertlieb’s Views: Bela Lugosi” at The Thunder Child.

Lugosi. The very name struck palpable terror into the hearts of film goers throughout the nineteen thirties. With his iconic voice, hypnotic gaze, and nightmarish persona, Lugosi became the very embodiment of vampiric decadence and mortal decay. A fallen aristocrat, the Transylvanian Count was the symbolic reflection of sexual repression and the abduction of innocence. Like the haunted character whom he most famously portrayed, Bela Lugosi has long ago passed both into memory and legend.

Born Béla Ferenc Dezső Blaskó on October 20th, 1882, no single individual has ever been as closely or indelibly associated with Bram stoker’s immortal “Dracula” as this aristocratic, ultimately tragic Hungarian actor.

Here, then, is my affectionate Halloween Birthday tribute to Bela Lugosi…his “horrific” career ascension, as well as its poignant decline…as we remember The Man Behind Dracula’s Cape.

(10) CELEBRATE THE SEASON. The Root recommends “15 Scary Ass Books By Black Authors That Are Perfect for Halloween”

… If you’re looking for a spooky story to sink your teeth into this Halloween, check out some of these haunting novels by Black authors. Just be sure to read them with the lights on….

First on the list:

In “The Good House” [by Tananarive Due], Angela Toussaint comes back to the house where her son committed suicide looking for the truth about his death. And what she finds is an invisible, evil force that is inciting acts of violence from the locals.

(11) TALKING ABOUT THE FIFTY WAYS. Ted Gioia continues his praise of “non-realist fiction” in “The 50 Best Works of Non-Realist Fiction of the 21st Century (Part 2 of 5)” at The Honest Broker. You’ll definitely recognize several of these titles.

Below is the second installment of my guide to the 50 best works of non-realist fiction published since 2000. For part one of the survey, click here.

I’m sharing the entire list in five installments (because of email length constraints).

To be eligible for the list, a book must be either science fiction, fantasy, horror, magical realism, alternate history, or some other genre that violates our notions of everyday reality. As I’ve written elsewhere, I believe that much of the best contemporary fiction falls into these categories—and is often unfairly neglected because of its genre origins….

(12) PALETTE CLEANSER. Meanwhile, Screen Rant is taking a count of its own. “10 Things Only Marvel Comics Fans Know About The Incredible Hulk”.

10/10 Gray Hulk

Most Marvel Comics fans know Hulk becomes gray for a period in the 1980s. They may not know he started out that way. In his comic book debut in The Incredible Hulk #1 in 1962, the Hulk appears gray. Co-creators Stan Lee and Jack Kirby intended Hulk to be gray, but coloring limitations at the time left him looking more green.

(13) RECONSIDERING SOLAR ENERGY SATELLITES. Science investigates the question, “Has a new dawn arrived for space-based solar power?” “Better technology and falling launch costs revive interest in a science-fiction technology.”

…NASA first investigated the concept of space solar power during the mid-1970s fuel crisis. But a proposed space demonstration mission—with ’70s technology lofted in the Space Shuttle and assembled by astronauts—would have cost about $1 trillion. The idea was shelved and, according to Mankins, remains a taboo subject for many at the agency.

Today, both space and so-lar power technology have changed beyond recognition. The efficiency of photo-voltaic (PV) solar cells has increased 25% over the past decade, Jones says, while costs have plummeted….

(14) LAUNDRY DAY. UPI invites you to “Watch: Researchers unveil world’s fastest clothes-folding robot”.

…The robot uses a neural network called BiManual Manipulation Network to interpret input from machine vision and manipulates the clothing using a pair of industrial robot arms.

The researchers detailed the robot’s creation and capabilities in a paper submitted for presentation at the International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems 2022 next week in Kyoto, Japan….

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

Steven Barnes and Tananarive Due to be Guests of Honor at Chicon 8

Chicon 8, the 2022 World Science Fiction Convention, has announced Steven Barnes and Tananarive Due as additional Guests of Honor for this year’s Worldcon. They join Chicon’s roll of Guests of Honor including artist Floyd Norman, fans Joe Siclari and Edie Stern, and the late Erle Korshak (who will be honored in memoriam); and special guests: writer and sociologist Dr. Eve L. Ewing, comic artist Gene Ha, and illustration and concept artist Eric Wilkerson.

Steven Barnes is the NY Times bestselling author of over thirty novels of science fiction, horror, and suspense.  The Image, Endeavor and Cable-Ace Award winning author also writes for television, including The Twilight ZoneStargate SG-1Andromeda, and an Emmy Award winning episode of The Outer Limits. He has taught at UCLA, Seattle University, and lectured at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C.  Steven was born in Los Angeles, California, and except for a decade in the Northwest, and three years in Atlanta Georgia, has lived in that area all his life.

Tananarive Due (tah-nah-nah-REEVE doo) is an award-winning author who teaches Black Horror and Afrofuturism at UCLA. She is an executive producer on Shudder’s groundbreaking documentary Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror.  A leading voice in Black speculative fiction for more than 20 years, Due has won an American Book Award, an NAACP Image Award, and a British Fantasy Award and her writing has been included in best-of-the-year anthologies. Her books include Ghost Summer: StoriesMy Soul to Keep, and The Good House. She and her late mother, civil rights activist Patricia Stephens Due, co-authored Freedom in the Family: A Mother-Daughter Memoir of the Fight for Civil Rights

Steven and Tananarive are frequent collaborators as well as married couple. Working together, they wrote “A Small Town” for Season 2 of Jordan Peele’s The Twilight Zone on Paramount+, and two segments of Shudder’s anthology film Horror Noire. They also co-wrote the upcoming Black Horror graphic novel The Keeper, illustrated by Marco Finnegan. 

Steven and Tananarive have also collaborated to create online courses in Afrofuturism (www.afrofuturismwebinar.com), Black Horror (www.sunkenplaceclass.com), and Screenwriting, as well as co-hosting a podcast, Lifewriting: Write for Your Life!  They live in California with their son Jason. 

[Based on a press release.]