Pixel Scroll 10/21/23 Seven Pixels You Can’t Scroll On Television

(1) URSULA VERNON’S HUGO ACCEPTANCE SPEECH. Nettle & Bone by T. Kingfisher (Ursula Vernon’s pen name) won the Best Novel Hugo today. Arley Sorg delivered her acceptance remarks and by popular demand she has published them in a free Patreon post titled “The Light At The End Of The Frog”.

… There are a lot of serious and heavy things I could say right now, and probably I should. But other people have said them better and more movingly than I ever will. So instead I want to share something wonderful and disgusting and maybe a little inspiring with you.

There is a species of water beetle that regularly gets swallowed whole by frogs. And while there’s a lot of things you can do to keep from being eaten, once you’re inside a frog, your options are severely limited….

(2) MEDICAL UPDATE. RiverFlow, co-editor of this year’s Hugo-winning fanzine Zero Gravity Newspaper, was hospitalized today reports Zimozi Natsuco in a File 770 comment here. More details at the link.  

(3) CHENGDU WORLDCON PHOTO GALLERIES ACCESS. [Item by Ersatz Culture.] Adaoli/SF Light Year sent me a clean version of the QR codes for the official photo galleries.

(4) GET SEATTLE 2025 PR 0. Seattle 2025 is now officially seated after yesterday’s site selection vote. Their Guests of Honor will be Martha Wells, Donato Giancola, Bridget Landry, and Alexander James Adams with Hosts K. Tempest Bradford and Nisi Shawl. Download Seattle Worldcon 2025 Progress Report 0 at the link. The chair told followers in a message:

My name is Kathy Bond, Chair of this Worldcon, and I am absolutely thrilled to announce that Seattle will have the honor of hosting you all for the 83rd World Science Fiction Convention. I love Seattle, especially when it rains, and I cannot wait to share with you all of the rich, vibrant, creative life in the people and places of this city. I hope that you will be able to join us in person or virtually if a trip to Seattle is not in the cards.

Worldcon cannot take place without every member of this community. All of the plans and dreams that have led us here to this moment would not have been possible without the volunteers who helped sit at tables, who talked to each other and you about Seattle, and without the financial support of buying pre-support memberships. Every tiny act of volunteerism built this bid and helped us win. And, we still need those acts of volunteerism. Come join our community of makers, doers, and shapers for a few hours during the convention or throughout this planning process.

My vision for this Worldcon is to bring our Pacific Northwest community and our Worldcon community together to learn from each other, to create with each other, and to build with each other the type of inclusive community that our best genre fiction inspires us to build. Building Yesterday’s Future For Everyone is an acknowledgement that we have not successfully built the future we have aspired to but that we can still be inspired by the optimism of the past to keep building. We remember our yesterdays; we work for our better futures….

The convention’s website is here: Seattle Worldcon 2025 – Building Yesterday’s Future–For Everyone.

(5) BULGACON 2023. [Item by Valentin D. Ivanov.] Bulgacon is the annual national Bulgarian SFF convention. The 2023 edition took place in Plovdiv from September 22-24 with help from the Bulgarian Ministry of Culture. The event gathered some international participation including Alex Schvartsman, Andreas Eschbach, Francesco Verso, Nina Horvath, Peter Watts and Wole Talabi, among others.

A bilingual Bulgarian/English booklet with the program and the list of panelists can be seen in PDF format here at the convention website.

(6) SUSAN C. PETREY FUND CLOSING. The Clarion Foundation has issued its own farewell on the heels of the October 18 announcement by Paul Wrigley and Debbie Cross.

The Clarion Foundation wishes to honor the impact of the Susan C. Petrey Clarion Scholarship Fund as it winds down after 43 years of support. Thanks to Paul Wrigley and Debbie Cross, and their tireless fundraising efforts through the Oregon Science Fiction Conventions Inc, the Petrey scholarship stands as the oldest ongoing scholarship supporting Clarion students, and has demonstrated the critical importance of scholarship support in making the Workshop possible. Over the years it has awarded 71 scholarships to Clarion and Clarion West students. 

The fund was created in honor of Susan C. Petrey, an American fantasy writer of short fiction who was early in her career when she passed. Her work would later go on to be posthumously nominated for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer and a Hugo Award. Thanks to Paul and Debbie, her legacy and community spirit have endured.

The Petrey Scholarship is particularly appreciated for its demonstration of the ways that communities built around a special person or a targeted cause — in this case, both — can have philanthropic impact beyond what the original donors might have imagined. Along with Paul and Debbie, we sincerely thank all of the fund supporters, and look forward to building more such communities in the coming years and decades. 

“On behalf of the Clarion Foundation board and all the many recipients of this important scholarship over the years, we want to express our deepest appreciation to Debbie, Paul, and the OFSCI,” said Clarion Foundation President Karen J. Fowler. “Your generosity over so many years has been simply extraordinary.  I don’t know how we can begin to thank you.  I feel all the end-of-an-era sadness, but a sadness overwhelmed with gratitude.” 

Former recipients of the Susan C. Petrey Clarion Scholarship Fund are welcome to share the importance of their scholarship to their Clarion experience and we will pass them along.

(7) BEST OMENS. “Neil Gaiman: ‘In your 60s, any sex is good sex. It’s like: Oh my gosh, I can still do this thing’” – so he told an interviewer from the Guardian. Here are some other things he had to say.

Which book are you ashamed not to have read?
I’ve never read Proust.

What was the last lie you told?
I don’t tell lies any more, because my memory is going.

What is your guiltiest pleasure?
Really fancy sushi.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 21, 1904 Edmond Hamilton. One of the prolific writers for Weird Tales from the late 20s to the late 40s, writing nearly eighty stories. (Lovecraft and Howard were the other key writers.) Sources say that through the late 1920s and early 1930s Hamilton wrote for all of the SF pulp magazines then publishing. His story “The Island of Unreason” (Wonder Stories, May 1933) won the first Jules Verne Prize as the best SF story of the year. This was the very first SF prize awarded by a vote of fans, which one source holds to be a precursor of the Hugo Awards. From the early 40s to the late 60s, he worked for DC, in stories about Superman and Batman. He created the Space Ranger character with Gardner Fox and Bob Brown. On December 31, 1946, Hamilton married fellow science fiction author and screenwriter Leigh Brackett. Now there is another story as well. (Died 1977.)
  • Born October 21, 1914 Martin Gardner. He was one of leading authorities on Lewis Carroll. The Annotated Alice, which incorporated the text of Carroll’s two Alice books, is still a bestseller. He was considered the doyen (your word to learn today) of American puzzlers. And, to make him even more impressive, in 1999 Magic magazine named Gardner one of the “100 Most Influential Magicians of the Twentieth Century”.  Cool! (Died 2010.)
  • Born October 21, 1929 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 brilliance, 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 both Hugo and Nebula Awards in all four fiction length categories. She was Guest of Honor at several conventions, including 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, 1971 Hal Duncan, 52. Computer Programmer and Writer from Scotland whose first novel, Vellum: The Book of All Hours, won a Spectrum Award and received nominations for World Fantasy, British Fantasy, Kurd Laßwitz, Prix Imaginaire, and Locus Best First Novel Awards, as well as winning a Tahtivaeltaja Award for best science fiction novel published in Finnish. His collection Scruffians! and his non-fiction work Rhapsody: Notes on Strange Fictions were also both finalists for British Fantasy Awards. An outspoken advocate and blogger for LGBTQ rights, he was a contributor to Dan Savage’s It Gets Better Project.
  • Born October 21, 1974 Chris Garcia, 49. He’s editor of The Drink Tank and several other fanzines. He won a Hugo Award at Renovation with co-editor James Bacon for The Drink Tank after being nominated from 2010 to 2013. He was nominated for the Best Fan Writer Hugo three years straight starting in 2010. His acceptance speech for the Hugo at Renovation was itself nominated for Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form Hugo at Chicon 7. I can’t begin to list all his feats and honors here. 

(9) FLASH GORDON COMING BACK. Michael Cavna reveals that the “’Flash Gordon’ comic strip is returning after a 20-year break’ in the Washington Post.

He might be nearing 90, but one relentlessly athletic adventurer is poised for a pop-culture reappreciation.

Flash Gordon, the intergalactic space warrior who predates Superman and Batman as an iconic American action-comic hero sprung from Depression-era pages — as well as a Hollywood screen star who inspired George Lucas’s Star Wars — is returning to newspapers.

King Features Syndicate, whichintroduced the character in 1934, will relaunch the comic strip “Flash Gordon” beginning Sunday after a two-decade absence — featuring a new look and a new artist. (The Sunday and daily strips will be available online and in print.)…

…Guiding the new enterprise will be Dan Schkade, an Eisner-nominated cartoonist in his early 30s best known for his work on such comics as “Will Eisner’s The Spirit Returns,” “Lavender Jack” and “Saint John.”

Schkade won a competitivetryout earlier this year to script and draw the strip, shortly before King announced a licensing deal with Mad Cave Studios, which will begin publishing other original “Flash Gordon” narratives, graphic novels and comic reprints beginning next year.

(10) TED CHIANG ON AI. “Writers respond to techno-optimism about AI: ‘It’s mostly nonsense’” at GeekWire.

How will “The Techno-Optimist Manifesto,” venture capitalist Marc Andreessen’s paean to economic growth and artificial intelligence, play to a wider audience? The reviews are in from two award-winning writers who are familiar with the impact of generative AI on creative professions.

“I think it’s mostly nonsense,” science-fiction writer Ted Chiang said Thursday at the GeekWire Summit in Seattle.

Chiang, a longtime Seattle-area resident, is best-known as the author of “Story of Your Life,” the novella that was adapted for the Oscar-nominated 2016 movie “Arrival.” But he’s also won acclaim as a commentator on AI’s effects for The New Yorker and other publications. Last month, Time magazine included Chiang among the 100 most influential people in AI.

The other writer on the SIFF Cinema stage was Eric Heisserer, the screenwriter who turned Chiang’s story into the script for “Arrival.” Heisserer witnessed the debate over generative AI and the future of work up close as a member of the negotiating committee for the Writers Guild of America during its recent strike against Hollywood studios.

Both Chiang and Heisserer say AI is too often unjustly portrayed as a high-tech panacea. That claim came through loud and clear in Andreessen’s manifesto, which called AI a “universal problem solver.”

“Technology can solve certain problems, but I think the biggest problems that we face are not problems that have technological solutions,” Chiang said in response. “Climate change probably does not have a technological solution. Wealth inequality does not have a technological solution. Most of these are problems of political will. … And so Marc Andreessen’s manifesto is a prime example of ignoring all of these other realities.”

Chiang took issue with Andreessen’s view that growth is always good. “Growth is untenable on a finite planet, so at some point, we are going to have to think about some alternative to a growth economy, some kind of stable state, because the laws of physics are going to put a stop to growth at some point,” he said.

He also called attention to Andreessen’s track record as a tech commentator. “He was all in on crypto,” Chiang said. “He is all in on the metaverse. Anyone who was so enthusiastic about those things … I think we need to keep that in mind when gauging their credibility about anything they recommend now.”…

(11) RED PILL REVIEW. [Item by Steven French.] For those who happen to be in or near Manchester, U.K.: “Free Your Mind review – Danny Boyle’s Matrix reboot is a thrilling shock to the system” in the Guardian.

…The show is a 2023 take on the 1999 film The Matrix, which fits with the current 90s nostalgia (those skintight PVC trousers will take you right back) but is also alarmingly prescient in its story of humans being usurped by intelligent machines as we enable the march of AI, ever more in thrall to the algorithm….

… Are the Matrix’s hero, Neo (Corey Owens), and his journey a bit lost among all this? Well, yes. With 50 dancers on stage, Free Your Mind is built from large-scale set pieces. Choreographer Kenrick “H2O” Sandy is a master at orchestrating tightly drilled ranks of battle-ready glitching bodies and short, sharp shocks of metrical movement. Although when Sandy himself appears as Morpheus, he reminds us one dancer is sometimes enough. A magisterial performer, he is molten and he is rock….

(12) BLAST FROM THE PAST. “Mysterious fast radio burst traveled 8 billion years to reach Earth” reports CNN.

Astronomers have detected a mysterious blast of radio waves that have taken 8 billion years to reach Earth. The fast radio burst is one of the most distant and energetic ever observed.

Fast radio bursts, or FRBs, are intense, millisecond-long bursts of radio waves with unknown origins. The first FRB was discovered in 2007, and since then, hundreds of these quick, cosmic flashes have been detected coming from distant points across the universe.

The burst, named FRB 20220610A, lasted less than a millisecond, but in that fraction of a moment, it released the equivalent of our sun’s energetic emissions over the course of 30 years, according to a study published Thursday in the journal Science….

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, Valentin D. Ivanov, Nathan Hillstrom, Frank Catalano, Steven French, Andrew Porter, Ersatz Culture, John King Tarpinian, and Chris Barkley for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Patrick Morris Miller.]

Wishful Thinking & AI: Ted Chiang and Dr. Emily M. Bender Speak on 11/10

Clarion West presents a conversation with Ted Chiang and Dr. Emily M. Bender on Friday, November 10 at 7:30 PM at Town Hall Seattle. Purchase tickets here.

UW Professor of Linguistics Emily M. Bender talks with award-winning science fiction author Ted Chiang about the hype, realistic expectations, and who should be involved in the conversation around AI. Moderated by Jeopardy! champion and Phinney Books owner Tom Nissley.

Both speakers were recently featured in Time Magazine’s Time100 Most Influential People in AI. “This group of 100 individuals is in many ways a map of the relationships and power centers driving the development of AI. They are rivals and regulators, scientists and artists, advocates and executives—the competing and cooperating humans whose insights, desires, and flaws will shape the direction of an increasingly influential technology,” wrote Time’s Sam Jacobs on how they selected the scientists, thinkers, journalists, innovators, and artists featured in the article.

The article declares Ted Chiang as “one of the sharpest critics of AI and the corporations behind it.” In clear sentimental agreement, Dr. Bender is quoted in the article stating, “You can’t expect a machine-learning system to learn stuff that’s not in its training data. Otherwise you’re expecting magic.” On November 10, hear both speakers discuss their thoughts and concerns in-person at Town Hall Seattle or live in Zoom.

This event is a fundraiser for Clarion West, supporting emerging and underrepresented writers in speculative fiction.

About Dr. Emily M. Bender: Emily M. Bender is a Professor of Linguistics and an Adjunct Professor in the School of Computer Science and the Information School at the University of Washington, where she has been on the faculty since 2003. Her research interests include multilingual grammar engineering, computational semantics, and the societal impacts of language technology.  She is the co-author of recent influential papers such as Climbing towards NLU: On Meaning, Form, and Understanding in the Age of Data (ACL 2020), On the Dangers of Stochastic Parrots: Can Language Models Be Too Big? (FAccT 2021), and AI and the Everything in the Whole Wide World Benchmark (NeurIPS 2021). In 2022 she was elected as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Together with Dr. Alex Hanna, she posts Mystery AI Hype Theater 3000, a podcast which skewers AI hype.

About Ted Chiang: Ted Chiang’s fiction has won four Hugo, four Nebula, and six Locus Awards, and has been reprinted in Best American Short Stories. His first collection Stories of Your Life and Others has been translated into twenty-one languages, and the title story was the basis for the Oscar-nominated film Arrival. His second collection Exhalation was chosen by The New York Times as one of the 10 Best Books of 2019.

About Tom Nissley: Tom Nissley is the owner of Phinney Books and Madison Books in Seattle. He’s the author of A Reader’s Book of Days, has a PhD in English from the University of Washington, and was an eight-time champion on Jeopardy!

[Based on a press release.]

Pixel Scroll 9/14/23 There Are Some Things Money Can’t Buy; For Everything Else, There’s Pixel Scroll

(1) TOP PEOPLE. Writer Ted Chiang, filmmaker Lilly Wachowski, manga creator Rootport, and artist Kelly McKernan are some of the recognizable names who are not CEOs or scientists on TIME’s list of “The 100 Most Influential People in AI 2023”.

(2) COLLATERAL DAMAGE OF LISTS. “Here we go again. Another badly skewed list of fantasy books recommended for newcomers” – Juliet E. McKenna tees off. Which list? I don’t know, but they keep coming along.

Must be a day with a Y in it. Yes, well-informed readers are pushing back against this particular dated, limited and male-dominated list, and no, I’m not going to link to it and argue the toss over every title. There’s a wider point to be made.

Women SF&F writers don’t take these best-of lists, these recommended-for-award-nominations and shortlists, these articles and review columns that erase us ‘personally’. We object because they damage us professionally. The same is true for every under-represented group excluded from these lists. And yes, the male authors writing the progressive, informed and thought-provoking SF&F which is being ignored have a right to feel aggrieved as well.

When newcomers to fantasy fiction see the most easily-found review coverage and online discussion is all about grimdark books from big publishers, with stories about blokes in cloaks, written by authors like Macho McHackenslay, that’s what they will buy. Or they will be completely put off and go elsewhere in search of fiction where they see themselves and their concerns represented. They will never know what they’re looking for can be found in SF&F.

Either way, six months down the line, the big publisher’s accountants at head office look at the sales figures and see Macho McHackenslay is one of their bestsellers. The order goes out to ask literary agents for more of the same. Because big publishing is a numbers game, and it skews towards repeating successes rather than promoting innovation.

Meantime, an editor will be arguing the case to give another contract to P.D.Kickassgrrl. He insists the body count and hardcore ethics of P.D.Kickassgrrl’s excellent work will surely appeal to Macho McHackenslay fans, as well as whole lot of other readers. Unfortunately her sales aren’t nearly as good, because her books get far fewer reviews and other mentions. Genre magazines and blogs can have a similar skew towards established successes, arguing they have to review the books people are actually buying, because those are the writers readers are clearly interested in. The self-referential and self-reinforcing circle is complete….

(3) NATIONAL BOOK AWARD LONGLISTS ROLLING OUT. The 2023 National Book Award Longlist for Translated Literature includes one work of genre interest – Bora Chung’s collection Cursed Bunny.

Translated Literature

  • Devil of the Provinces by Juan Cárdenas and translated from the Spanish by Lizzie Davis (Coffee House)
  • Cursed Bunny by Bora Chung and translated from the Korean by Anton Hur (Algonquin)
  • Beyond the Door of No Return by David Diop and translated from the French by Sam Taylor (FSG)
  • Kairos by Jenny Erpenbeck and translated from the German by Michael Hofmann (New Directions)
  • The Words That Remain by Stênio Gardel and translated from the Portuguese by Bruna Dantas Lobato (New Vessel)
  • No One Prayed Over Their Graves by Khaled Khalifa and translated from the Arabic by Leri Price (FSG)
  • This Is Not Miami by Fernanda Melchor and translated from the Spanish by Sophie Hughes (New Directions)
  • Abyss by Pilar Quintana and translated from the Spanish by Lisa Dillman (World Editions)
  • On a Woman’s Madness by Astrid Roemer and tanslated from the Dutch by Lucy Scott (Two Lines)
  • The Most Secret Memory of Men by Mohamed Mbougar Sarr and translated from the French by Lara Vergnaud (Other Press)

(4) STURGEON SYMPOSIUM. The full schedule for the 2nd Annual Sturgeon Symposium has been posted at the link. Shows the in-person and several virtual program items. Optional registration available.

(5) HWA’S NEW EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR. Maxwell I. Gold has been installed as Executive Director of the Horror Writers Association, replacing Brad Hodson who served the HWA for ten years as Administrator.

…The HWA Hiring Committee saw a robust pool of twenty applicants and conducted six interviews in the organization’s first executive search. As HWA President and member of the hiring committee, John Lawson  noted:

“This Executive Director search was a first for the HWA, and while I expected interest in the job opening, I had no idea we’d garner the attention of such strong applicants, including those outside the HWA community. Having worked closely with Maxwell, both as Treasurer and as Interim Executive Director, I’ve witnessed firsthand his creative problem-solving and know our membership—and volunteers—will benefit from his efforts. I couldn’t be more thrilled with the outcome of this process and am proud to serve alongside Maxwell.”

Gold has served on the Board of Trustees for two years as Treasurer and will remain a non-voting member of the Board in his new role as Executive Director. Effective immediately, Michael Knost, currently running unopposed, will assume the role and responsibility of the Office of Treasurer for the Horror Writers Association….

(6) BATTLESTAR GALACTICA PICKET LINE. You’re invited to drop by on September 21.

(7) THAT SINKING FEELING. [Item by Danny Sichel.] Mickey Ralph, the lead designer for Good Omens, posted to Twitter about some logistical problems that resulted from there being a second season. Thread starts here.

(8) FOR ALL MANKIND SEASON 4. Collider unpacks “’For All Mankind’ Season 4 Teaser”. The show returns November 10 on Apple TV+.

In previous seasons, For All Mankind explored space exploration’s impact on political and cultural landscapes in different eras, from the 1970s Moon mission to the 1980s Cold War competition for lunar resources. Season 3 saw a race to conquer Mars, leading to a climactic finale.

Launching into the new millennium, Happy Valley has made remarkable strides over the past eight years since Season 3. It has rapidly expanded its presence on Mars, transforming former adversaries into valuable partners. Fast forward to 2003, and the primary focus of this space program has shifted towards capturing and mining extraordinarily precious, mineral-rich asteroids that have the potential to reshape the destinies of both Earth and Mars. However, underlying tensions among the inhabitants of the sprawling international base now jeopardize everything they have worked so diligently to achieve.

Here’s a clip of the show’s “Helios Recruitment” commercial.

Rocketing into the new millennium in the eight years since Season 3, Happy Valley has rapidly expanded its footprint on Mars by turning former foes into partners. Now 2003, the focus of the space program has turned to the capture and mining of extremely valuable, mineral-rich asteroids that could change the future of both Earth and Mars. But simmering tensions between the residents of the now-sprawling international base threaten to undo everything they are working towards.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 14, 1919 Claire P. Beck. He was a reclusive fan known as the Hermit of Lakeport, California was active in the 1930s. Editor of the Science Fiction Critic fanzine which published in four issues the first work of criticism devoted to American SF: “Hammer and Tongs,” written by his brother, Clyde F. Beck. Their publishing house was Futile Press. (Died 1999.)
  • Born September 14, 1927 Martin Caidin. His best-known novel is Cyborg which was the basis for The Six Million Dollar Man franchise. He wrote two novels in the Indiana Jones franchise and one in the Buck Rogers one as well. He wrote myriad other sf novels as well. Marooned was nominated for a Hugo at Heicon ’70 but TV coverage of Apollo XI won that year. The Six Million Dollar Man film was a finalist for Best Dramatic Presentation at Discon II which Woody Allen’s Sleeper won. (Died 1997.)
  • Born September 14, 1944 — Rowena Morrill. Well-known for her genre art, she is one of the first female artists to impact paperback cover illustration. Her notable works include The Fantastic Art of Rowena, Imagine (French publication only), Imagination (German publication only), and The Art of Rowena.  Though nominated for the Hugo four times, she never won, but garnered the British Fantasy Award, and the World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement. She also did the three covers you see here for the Recorded Books edition of The Lord of The Rings. OGH’s obituary for her is here. (Died 2021.)
  • Born September 14, 1950 Michael Reaves. A scriptwriter and story editor to a number of Eighties and Nineties animated television series, including Batman: The Animated SeriesDisney’s Gargoyles He-Man and the Masters of the UniverseSmurfs Space Sentinels, Star Wars: Droids and The Transformers. Live action wise, he worked on Next GenerationSlidersSwamp Thing, original Flash and Young Hercules.  He also worked on two of my favorite animated Batman films, Batman: Mask of the Phantasm and Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman. (Died 2023.)
  • Born September 14, 1961 Justin Richards, 62. Clute at ESF says “Richards is fast and competent.” Well I can certain say he’s fast as he’s turned out thirty-five Doctor Who novels which Clute thinks are for the YA market between 1994 and 2016. And he has other series going as well! Another nineteen novels written, and then there’s the Doctor Who non-fiction which runs to over a half dozen works.  He writes mainly Doctor Who novels with thirteen, so from the Eighth through the Thirteenth Doctor so far, and Creative Consultant for the BBC Books range of Doctor Who novels. He’s written novels with Professor Bernice Summerfield as the protagonist as well. And written more SF that aren’t Whovian than I could possibly list here. One such series is, as EoSF notes, “the Invisible Detective sequence, beginning with The Paranormal Puppet Show (2003; vt Double Life 2004), consists in each case of two stories: one set in the 1930s, where the four young protagonists solve sf and fantasy mysteries; the other set in the contemporary world, where a parallel tale is told.”
  • Born September 14, 1972 Jenny T. Colgan, 51. Prolific writer of short stories in the Whovian universe with a baker’s dozen to date with several centered on River Song. She novelized “The Christmas Invasion”, the first full Tenth Doctor story. She has two genre novels, Resistance Is Futile and Spandex and the City.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Wrong Hands mashes up kids’ programming with a famous horror story.
  • Wrong Hands also shows the varieties in the “film school of fish”.

(11) EMBROIDERED WORLDS KICKSTARTER PURSUES STRETCH GOALS. The Kickstarter for the “Embroidered Worlds” English translation of Ukrainian SFF is now funded as far as all stories are concerned, but now they’re working on stretch goals for illustrations and other features. Donors who support this for as little as $1 which will receive a copy of the ebook. There are just over two weeks left in the Kickstarter that will benefit not only Ukrainian writers but, it is hoped, Ukrainian illustrators.

There are several guest blogs for the Kickstarter, including this one by Michael Burianyk on “Why do we need Ukrainian stories?”.

… Because the origins of Ukraine’s cultural and political capital Kyiv are lost in the shades of unrecorded time, they are fought over by competing storytellers. To this day, historians speculate and argue and create their own legends about who and when and why. And Kyiv was for a large part of its story a post-apocalyptic city: It lay in ruins, its spectacular architecture burnt and rotting, its population ravaged and scattered — a perfect breeding ground for ghosts and angst.

Ukraine was a place of conflict, in many ways still unresolved, between the Pagan and the Christian. Priests of the new god ensured that the old, some might say more interesting, beliefs were not written down. Prince Volodymyr, the Red Sun of legend, had the wooden idol of Perun flogged and dragged into the Dnipro to drown, and one imagines that his ghost still wanders the hills of the city along with his divine siblings, Dazhbog, Stribog, and Simargl, who still haunt the wooded ravines and forests of the country — as do many other fantastic and terrible beings.

The country saw, through the centuries, hordes and armies and emperors and commissars — not so different and no more understandable than demons and invading space invaders. Ukraine saw fire and sword wielded by abominable aliens; destruction visited over terrified generations and without warning. The Ukrainian people created their own interesting champions through these times. Stories of its protectors: Volodymyr of legend again and other bogatyry, were told for consolation. Legends of the Kozaks were examples of the spirit of independence of the people and their need for liberty that permeates their souls to this day….

(12) WHERE TO SEE THE CHINESE SERIES THREE-BODY PROBLEM. Seattle PBS station KCTS 9 is going to be running the Chinese-language version of the Three-Body Problem TV series (with English subtitles). Members can stream the first episode now, and the full series starting September 23. Will it be shown on any other PBS stations? My search on the main PBS website didn’t find it, nor another search on LA PBS station KCET. Let me know if it shows up anywhere else. But you could always become a member of the Seattle station and get access to it.  

(13) MISSED THE WINDOW. “Stan Lee’s Estate Loses Yearslong Elder Abuse Lawsuit Against Former Attorney on a Technicality”The Hollywood Reporter has the story.

A messy legal battle initiated by Stan Lee’s estate involving accusations of exploitation and elder abuse by the comic book legend’s inner circle has concluded, with an arbitrator siding with Lee’s former attorney that the lawsuit against him was brought too late.

The five-year legal saga was sparked by The Hollywood Reporter’s investigation into Lee’s estate, which chronicled allegations that people introduced into his life by his daughter, J.C., stole millions of dollars from him. This included Jerardo Olivarez, Lee’s ex-business manager who was given power of attorney. Olivarez allegedly insisted that Lee retain Uri Litvak as his attorney for business dealings, but he didn’t disclose a conflict of interest stemming from Litvak representing him in personal matters. A year after Olivarez was sued, Lee also named Litvak in the lawsuit calling the pair “unscrupulous businessmen, sycophants and opportunists” seeking to take advantage of him following the death of his wife.

A procedural defect in the lawsuit, however, led to Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mark Epstein on Tuesday entering judgment in favor of Litvak after an arbitrator found in February that the statute of limitations to sue him had expired. Lee had a one-year window starting on April 12, 2018, when the complaint against Olivarez was filed, to also name Litvak in the lawsuit. Litvak was sued on April 18, 2018, five days passed the maximum allowable time to initiate legal proceedings….

(14) KGB READINGS. Ellen Datlow shared her photos from the September 13 Fantastic Fiction at KGB readings with Josh Rountree and Benjamin Percy.

(15) DIDN’T SEE THAT COMING. It was supposed to be a tautology until it wasn’t.

(16) SF2 CONCATENATION RELEASES AUTUMN ISSUE. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] The N. hemisphere’s academic, autumnal edition of SF2 Concatenation is now up. Its contents are:

v33(5) 2023.9.15 — New Columns & Articles for the Autumn 2023

v33(5) 2023.9.15 — Science Fiction & Fantasy Book Reviews

v33(5) 2023.9.15 — Non-Fiction SF & Science Fact Book Reviews

Forthcoming: In November SF2 Concatenation will have the third of its four ‘Best of Nature “Futures” short stories‘ of the year, and in December a pre-Christmas final one. If you are new to the site, these are short, one-page, SF stories. They’re rather fun and well worth sitting down with a mug of tea/coffee for a few minutes read. (The Best of Nature “Futures” short stories link is to the SF2 Concatenation archive of past ‘Best of’ stories, so feel free to have a browse. Enjoy.)

(17) FUTURAMA TEASER. Animation World Network shares “Exclusive Clip: ‘Futurama: The Prince and The Product’”.

… Hulu has shared with AWN an exclusive clip from Futurama: The Prince and The Product, streaming Monday, September 18 – one of three mini-episodes slated this season that reimagine the series in a different style…. 

…In the new episode “The Prince and The Product,” the crew members, reborn as toys, find themselves in life-and-death situations and, in our exclusive sneak peek clip, “Zoidberg Gets Left Behind” a plan is made to go to Saturn and the group decides to… you guessed it! Leave Zoidberg behind….

(18) REVISION QUEST. [Item by Andrew (not Werdna).] Rebecca Watson’s video “The Long History Behind the Latest TikTok ‘No Glasses’ Scam” is about a recent Tik-Tok quack who is reviving the old Bates method – a bogus method to improve eyesight that turns up in Heinlein, Van Vogt and Pohl (and perhaps others).

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Andrew (not Werdna), Bruce D. Arthurs, Linda Deneroff, Michael Burianyk, Danny Sichel, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]

Pixel Scroll 8/4/23 Brush Up Your Star Trek

(1) THIRD SELF-PUBLISHED SCIENCE FICTION COMPETITION OPENS TODAY. Hugh Howey’s third annual Self-Published Science Fiction Competition (SPSFC) is now taking submissions. Are you an indie science fiction writer looking for a wider audience? Check the guidelines here. Submit here.

(2) CHIANG AND BENDER IN CONVERSATION. 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 amid rising concerns about AI-generated storytelling. Moderated by Jeopardy! champion and Phinney Books owner Tom Nissley. November 10, 2023 at 7:30 p.m.

This event is a fundraiser for Clarion West. VIP tickets and meet-and-greet reception go on sale on Monday, August 7.

(3) CLARION WEST FALL CLASS SCHEDULE. Registration is open now.

Fall classes are here! We’ve got an exciting line-up of instructors, classes, and workshops. Registration is open now. Come learn with us!

(4) BOGUS BARKER. Writer Beware’s Victoria Strauss reports on somone impersonating her in “Dogging the Watchdog: In Which a Scammer Tries to Troll Me”.

…If you read here regularly, you’ll know that I’ve written a lot of posts about the impersonation scams that are becoming increasingly common. Well, an enterprising scammer recently decided to turn the tables…by impersonating me…

The [email protected] email address, of course, is bogus, and the scammer has added “literary agent” to my resume (which I am not, even though people sometimes mistakenly believe I am). And for added authenticity, a photo of me! Swiped from my personal Facebook page. (I’m sure the scammer would have preferred something unflattering, but I rarely post photos of myself–this post should make it clear why–so they didn’t have a lot to choose from.)

Obviously I would not want anyone to be defrauded in my name, so I enlisted a couple of the writers to write back to see what would happen. After a week with no replies, it seemed pretty clear that–as I’d half-suspected, especially given the stupidity of the fake email address –the email was a trolling attempt and not a bona fide scheme to scam.

Trolling doesn’t deliver the emotional satisfaction the troll craves unless the trollee knows they’re being trolled, though. And the scammer did want me to know…. 

(5) OLD BRIDGE (NJ) PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE FICTION DISCUSSION GROUP DISBANDING. Evelyn Leeper told MT Void readers today:

After twenty years of meeting, the Old Bridge Public Library science fiction discussion group is disbanding.  Given that the last few meetings have been only three or four people, that sounds a bit more dramatic than it really is.  Our final book was THIS IS HOW YOU LOSE THE TIME WAR by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone (Saga Press, ISBN 978-1-534-43100-3) and all three of us disliked it, so we have referred to this as THIS IS HOW YOU KILL THE DISCUSSION GROUP.  The book swept all the major awards for novellas, so we are clearly in some sort of minority here.

But it was not really the book that killed the group, but the gradual drifting away of members.  We tried both Zooming and in-person meetings. but though we had weathered the pandemic, the return to other opportunities for socializing et al made it harder to get people to attend….

(6) BACK TO THE FUTURE MUSICAL. The Hollywood Reporter favorably reviews “’Back to the Future: The Musical’ Review: Stage Adaptation on Broadway”.

…The creators of Back to the Future: The Musical weren’t taking any chances.

The production, newly arrived on Broadway after a London engagement that snagged a 2022 Olivier Award for Best New Musical, begins with the stirring main theme of the 1985 film’s score, garnering loud cheers from the audience. The book, with some minor exceptions, recreates the screenplay beat for beat and in some cases line for line. And the performances hew closely to those of the movie’s lead actors, with Hugh Coles, playing Marty McFly’s father George, imitating Crispin Glover so closely that it’s hard to tell whether it’s tribute or appropriation.

None of this is surprising, considering that original co-screenwriter Bob Gale has written the musical’s book and original composer Alan Silvestri, in collaboration with Glen Ballard (GhostJagged Little Pill), its score. What is surprising is how effective and damn fun it all is.

(7) REFERENCE DIRECTOR. Daniel Dern’s Scroll title, inspired by the musical Star Trek episode, he would like to remind everyone, is a reference to “Brush Up Your Shakespeare” from Kiss Me, Kate — which, by coincidence, came from a Cole Porter musical as did the song that kicked off the musical episode.

(8) CHILDREN’S BOOK PUBLISHER REMEMBERED. The Washington Post’s recalls the impact on children’s literature of Ursula Nordstrom (1910-1988) in “The fighter behind many of the most beloved children’s books of all time”.

…Hired as a clerk in 1931 at what was then Harper & Brothers (later Harper & Row, now HarperCollins), Nordstrom became an assistant in the department of books for boys and girls five years later. In 1954, she became the first woman elected to the Harper board of directors, and its first female vice president in 1960. She was referred to (and referred to herself) as the Maxwell Perkins of children’s literature. Perkins was an editor who built his career and reputation on seeking out and supporting new writers such as Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Thomas Wolfe. Over more than three decades, beginning in earnest in 1940, Nordstrom shepherded, chivied and gently bullied some of the greatest works of children’s literature into life. Those books included “Goodnight Moon,” “Where the Wild Things Are,” “Harriet the Spy,” “Little Bear,” “Harold and the Purple Crayon,” “Charlotte’s Web,” “Stuart Little,” “Bedtime for Frances,” “Where the Sidewalk Ends” and “Freaky Friday.”

Nordstrom’s spectacular eye for talent and many “firsts” as a mid-century career woman were not the most remarkable things about her. She believed in truth for children, even when it made adults uncomfortable. She prioritized children’s needs over reactionary parental qualms and rallied a fierce defense of realistic themes in books for young people. Her stance should be recognized, now more than ever, as a model for fighting back against censoriousness, grandstanding and patronizing of children masquerading as protecting them…

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 4, 1923 Paul Schneider. He wrote scripts for the original Star TrekStar Trek: The Animated SeriesThe StarlostThe Six Million Dollar Man, and Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. He’s best remembered for two episodes of the Trek series: “Balance of Terror” and “The Squire of Gothos.” “Balance of Terror,” of course, introduced the Romulans. (Died 2008.)
  • Born August 4, 1937 David Bedford. Composer who worked with Ursula K. Le Guin to produce and score her Rigel 9 album which the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction says is ‘a work that is musically pleasant although narratively underpowered.’ I’ve not heard it, so cannot say how accurate this opinion is. The not usual suspects such as iTunes have as their Meredith Moment for just seven dollars. (Died 2011.)
  • Born August 4, 1944 Richard Belzer. A long non-genre career as John Munch, for 23 years starting on Homicide: Life on the Street and then Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and related series which made him only the third actor ever to play the same character in six different prime time TV series. In the Third Rock from The Sun series as himself, also the Species II film and an adaption of Heinlein’s The Puppet Masters, along with series work too in The X-FilesThe InvadersHuman Target, and a recurring role in the original Flash series to name a few of his genre roles. (Died 2023.)
  • Born August 4, 1950 Steve Senn, 73. Here because of his Spacebread duology, Spacebread and Born of Flame. Spacebread being a large white cat known throughout the galaxy as an adventuress and a rogue. He’s also written the comic novels, Ralph Fozbek and the Amazing Black Hole Patrol and Loonie Louie Meets the Space Fungus
  • Born August 4, 1968 Daniel Dae Kim, 55. First genre role was in the NightMan series, other roles included the Brave New World TV film, the second Fantasy Island of three series, recurring roles on Lost, Gavin Park on Angel and Lieutenant John Matheson on Crusade, the Babylon 5 spinoff Crusade series, Star Trek: VoyagerCharmed and voice work on Justice League Unlimited.
  • Born August 4, 1969 Fenella Woolgar, 54. Agatha Christie in “The Unicorn and The Wasp” episode of Doctor Who, my favorite episodewhere she more than capably played off against David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor. Her only other genre was as Helena in A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester.
  • Born August 4, 1981 Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, 42. Yes, she’s done a genre performance or so. To be precise, she showed up on Fringe in the first two episodes of the second season (“A New Day in the Old Town” and “Night of Desirable Objects”) as Junior FBI Agent Amy Jessup. She was also in the “First Knight” episode of Knight Rider as Annie Ortiz, and Natasha in “A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Lose” on Century City, a series most of you have likely never heard of. 

(10) DOCUMENTING POP CULTURE. Steven Heller interviews ephemera collector and student of popular culture Richard Marschall: T “What To Do With All This Ephemera” in PRINT Magazine.

What do the comics, satiric magazines and newspapers in your holdings teach you? And what do they say, through your books and exhibits, to your audience?

…But I never wanted to deconstruct to the point of denying construction in the first place. In
the 1970s I reveled to a popular culture symposium that invited me because of my “informed” attitudes on the comics as an art form. Yet every speech, roundtable and Q&A dealt with comics as mere conduits—“What did Dick Tracy say about crime?” Not, “What expressive dynamics did Chester Gould employ to communicate in revolutionary ways?” Arrested development. This academic myopia was maddening. The graphics community at one time was similarly dismissive, as you know as well as anyone, may I confidently say?

So even unconsciously I amassed a collection of comics, sections, clips, original art, magazine runs, bound volumes of newspapers, books, toys, postcards, posters and such … with the goal, instinctive as it actually was, to be in a position to document all this, and with a mature cultural perspective. And, no less earnestly, to help others who sought to do so….

(11) YOU ARE THERE. A day like any other day, but — Ersatz Culture says this news story involves his local library!

(12) WIMPS. [Item by Steven French.] Dark stars observed! No it’s nothing to do with the John Carpenter and Dan O’Bannon movie. Astronomers have closely examined recent images produced by the James Webb Space Telescope and concluded that they reveal ancient stars powered by dark matter. “Stars powered by dark matter may have been seen by the JWST” at Physics World.

… In 2007, Freese and colleagues proposed the possibility of “dark stars”, which may have been common in the early universe. While composed mostly of hydrogen and helium, these exotic stars would be fuelled by “dark matter heating” rather than nuclear fusion. This could involve a type of dark matter called weakly interacting massive particles (WIMPs). WIMPs have evaded discovery for decades in Earth-based detection experiments, but according to Freese’s team, the sheer density of dark matter in the early universe could cause them to interact far more frequently with regular matter during the formation of some of the earliest stars.

In the early universe, “WIMPs could have annihilated into photons, electron-positron pairs, and other particles, which collided with the hydrogen in collapsing clouds,” Freese explains. “These particles then get stuck inside the cloud, and deposit all the energy from the mass of the dark matter particles into the cloud. The cloud then stops collapsing, and instead turns into a ‘dark star’.”…

(13) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] The concept of the space elevator was popularized by Arthur Clarke’s Fountains of Paradise.

The idea is that a cable from the equator (Ceylon/Sri Lanka was geographically moved in Clarke’s novel) to a large satellite/small asteroid, in geosynchronous orbit, can be used to haul payload very cheaply into Earth orbit.

This concept has been further explored before by Isaac Arthur on his Science Futurism channel. Isaac has just taken this concept further by considering the advantages of a space elevator on the Moon…

A Space Elevator on the Moon, made of mundane materials, could be built with modern technology, and allow ultra-cheap freight off the Moon

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

Pixel Scroll 7/4/23 Chocolate With Pixels Swirling At Their Center Do Taste Better Than Chocolate Covered Manholes

(1) SFF GROWING IN INDIA. Jaya Padmanabhan explores “Myth, AI, & Reality Power A Thrilling New Genre Of Indian Sci-Fi!” at IndiaCurrents.

…Presently, more and more writers are experimenting with the genre. While only a handful of SF novels have thus far been traditionally published in India every year, a slate of new science and speculative fiction domains is giving space to new voices and ideas, like the magazine Mithila Review and the feminist collection Magical Women (2019).

Vandana Singh, Anil Menon, Samit Basu, Mimi Mondal, and Gautam Bhatia, among others, headline discussions on Indian SF today. Their storylines expose the chaos, upheavals, and power structures of an ethnically, religious, and linguistically diverse India.

Unique to Indian SF is the manner in which mythology and folklore undergird much of the storytelling. From the Vedas and Puranas to the epics Ramayana and Mahabharata, historical plots continue to have relevance in Indian SF. As a result, science fiction from India is emerging as a singular genre rich with its own vernacular lexicon….

(2) PROBLEMS THAT ARE WORSE THAN AI. “’We Have Built a Giant Treadmill That We Can’t Get Off’: Sci-Fi Prophet Ted Chiang on How to Best Think About About AI” at Vanity Fair.

…The “AI as McKinsey” piece also articulates an underlying capitalist critique in your work. You clearly hold a lot of skepticism about the idea that Silicon Valley can provide magic fixes for social ills; you wrote this BuzzFeed News essay in 2017 that was so saucy. When reading “Seventy-Two Letters,” your short story from 2000, I gravitate toward this conversation between a craftsman and an inventor trying to create labor-saving robots, where the craftsman tells the inventor:

“Your desire for reform does you credit. Let me suggest, however, that there are simpler cures for the social ills you cite: a reduction in working hours, or the improvement of conditions. You do not need to disrupt our entire system of manufacturing.”

At a moment when we’re being promised “labor-saving” AI, this feels…relevant.

There’s this saying, “There are two kinds of fools. The first says, ‘This is old and therefore good.’ And the second one says, ‘This is new and therefore better.’” I think about that a lot. How can you evaluate the merits of anything fairly without thinking it’s good simply because it’s new? I think that is super difficult.

There probably was a time in history where most people were thinking, “This is old and therefore good,” and they carried the day. Now I think that we live in a time where everyone says, “This is new and therefore better.” I don’t believe that the people who say that are right all the time, but it is very difficult to criticize them and suggest that maybe something that is new is not better….

(3) STEPPING OFF THE MORAL HIGH GROUND. Beatriz Williams celebrates “The Return of the Cold War Novel and Its Glorious Uncertainties” at CrimeReads.

I was a kid playing Atari with my best friend when she informed me, as she sent her frog darting through traffic, that Nostradamus had predicted the world would end in nookuler destruction in August of that year. The exact date she named happened to be my birthday. Since Nostradamus lived hundreds of years ago and didn’t even know what nookuler was, she continued confidently, he must have had special powers and his predictions were therefore true. It was the early eighties and we had no internet, so I accepted her logic and spent the remaining weeks of summer assuming I would die before the leaves fell. 

If you were born in the 1970s, like me, or the sixties or the fifties, the Cold War was the backdrop of life, like wallpaper. It had no beginning and no end. It just was. You trundled to school each day under partly cloudy skies and a chance of nuclear annihilation, and when you went to the bookstore or the movie theater you found spy novels, spy movies that pitted Us against Them—the Soviet Union. In these stories, men chased each other around the world while some bomb ticked somewhere, some web of loyalties required untangling. Their manly brows furrowed under the weight of so much responsibility. Their wives worried cluelessly at home. The hot girl in the black sequined dress with the cleavage turned out to be a honey trap….

(4) REMEMBER DOS? “’Indiana Jones’: One of the Best Sequels Wasn’t a Movie” according to Collider.

During an ample period of growth for the LucasArts division of Lucasfilm Limited, the company began experimenting with the new games centered around their tentpole properties; as the Star Wars franchise began developing the initial Rebel Assault and Super Star Wars games, Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis was pitched as a canonical sequel to Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. The game takes place in 1939 during which Indy discovers that his former archeological collaborator Sophia Hapgood has given up her profession to become a psychic. Fearing that she’ll be targeted by the Nazis, Indy teams up with his old flame on an adventure to discover the ancient city of Atlantis and unlock its secrets before the Nazis take it for themselves to use as weaponry in World War II.

Compared to Lucasfilm’s Star Wars franchise, the Indiana Jones saga doesn’t quite have the same extensive expanded universe. While there are a few novel series, comic storylines, and adventure games focused on different aspects of Indy’s life, they’re merely a fraction of the massive expanded timeline developed in the Star Wars “Legends” and modern canon sagas. However, Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis didn’t just expand upon the character and tease a new chapter of his story; it developed Indy’s motivations under dire circumstances and featured a compelling storyline that actually surpassed some of the cinematic installments. Even if it never hit theaters, it’s easy to rank Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis among the best projects in the Indiana Jones universe….

(5) GOODER ENGLISH. [Item by Danny Sichel.] The mention of Downbelow Station in Monday’s file reminded me of the “lost in translation” thread from rec.arts.sf.written back in, oh god, 1999.

In particular, it reminded me that Susan Stepney did an archive thereof, which Filers may find amusing. “Lost in the Translation”.

Certain competition threads start spontaneously on the science fiction newsgroup rec.arts.sf.written. One of my favourites was about title/author pairs that can be read as a single phrase (with possibly the best being The Sheep Look Up John Brunner). In May 1999 someone quoting an alleged funny mistranslation, by a translator who missed the point, of a well-known SF book title A Very Important Mission, and a thread took off from there. Below are some of the submissions I’ve collected from that thread, and from ones sent to me later. (The contributors of the titles – either the devisers themselves, or telling of titles they remember from earlier competitions – are noted afterwards.) I’ve also provided answers – but no peeking before trying to work them out – that’s most of the fun!…

Here are couple:

Nancy Kress

  • Hispanic Mendicants (Angus MacSpon)

Ursula K. LeGuin

  • On the Other Hand, It’s Dark (Joe Slater)

(6) ANTI-FAN MAIL. “Gene Roddenberry’s Threatening Star Trek Letter To Leonard Nimoy And William Shatner” at Slashfilm.

…Gene Roddenberry, writing in 1967, was clearly reacting to various stories from the “Star Trek” set claiming William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy were on their worst behavior. It seems they were swapping lines, taking dialogue from co-stars, and going all-out to get as much screen time as possible. “Star Trek,” unlike some other shows at the time, had an open-door policy at [NBC], allowing actors to air grievances, explore ideas, and examine characters earnestly with those at the top. By Roddenberry’s description, this privilege was being abused. Shatner and Nimoy would cause delays in shooting and their characters would start to change on camera. Roddenberry, wanting to put the kibosh on his prima donnas, wrote the following letter, which was addressed to both actors equally:

“Toss these pages in the air if you like, stomp off and be angry, it doesn’t mean that much since you’ve driven me to the edge of not giving a damn. […] No, William, I’m not really writing this to Leonard and just including you as a matter of psychology. I’m talking to you directly and with an angry honesty you haven’t heard before. And Leonard, you’d be very wrong if you think I’m really teeing off at Shatner and only pretending to include you. The same letter to both; you’ve pretty well divided up the market on selfishness and egocentricity.” 

Roddenberry knew that actors all have egos and that petty grievances would indeed arise from time to time. Gene evidently instructed the production offices to overlook any foul moods from the cast, as tensions can run high and forgiveness will keep hackles lowered and production smooth. But after too many complaints, Roddenberry admitted, “‘Star Trek’ is going down the drain.”…

(7) IMPOSTOR PRODROME. Writer Beware’s Victoria Strauss warned Facebook readers about fraudsters trying to use her name.

So…after years of reporting on impersonation scams (rampant right now), the scammers have done me the ultimate honor: impersonating ME.

(8) TODAY’S TRIVIA. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] The following CNN video (well, link to a video) by SE Cupp includes a quote from Isaac Asimov at the end. “SE Cupp: Was ‘Idiocracy’ real? The Musk-Zuckerberg cage match could not be dumber”

In case you were wondering whether the quote was correctly attributed, see the information at this link.

(9) MEMORY LANE.

1983 [Written by Cat Eldridge from a choice by Mike Glyer.]

Our Beginning tonight is a true one as Bruce Bethke tells us the origin  story of a now familiar word and the story that he’d use it in.

The essay and story itself were published in Amazing Science Fiction, November 1983. If after reading the Beginning here, you can do so at Infinity Plus where it is up with the permission of the author.

In the early spring of 1980 I wrote a little story about a bunch of teenage hackers. From the very first draft this story had a name, and lo, the name was —

Cyberpunk

And you can bet any body part you’d care to name that, had I had even the slightest least inkling of a clue that I would still be answering questions about this word nearly 18 years later, I would have bloody well trademarked the damned thing!

Nonetheless, I didn’t, and as you’re probably aware, the c-word has gone on to have a fascinating career all its own. At this late date I am not trying to claim unwarranted credit or tarnish anyone else’s glory. (Frankly, I’d much rather people were paying attention to what I’writing now –e.g., my Philip K. Dick Award-winning novel, Headcash, Orbit Books, 5.99 in paperback.) But for those folks who are obsessed with history, here, in tightly encapsulated form, is the story behind the story.

The invention of the c-word was a conscious and deliberate act of creation on my part. I wrote the story in the early spring of 1980, and from the very first draft, it was titled “Cyberpunk.” In calling it that, I was actively trying to invent a new term that grokked the juxtaposition of punk attitudes and high technology. My reasons for doing so were purely selfish and market-driven: I wanted to give my story a snappy, one-word title that editors would remember.

Offhand, I’d say I succeeded.

Art accompanying the short story Cyberpunk in Amazing Stories by Bob Walters

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 4, 1883 Rube Goldberg. Not genre, but certainly genre adjacent. Born Reuben Garrett Lucius Goldberg, he was a sculptor, author, cartoonist, engineer, and inventor who’s certainly best known for his very popular cartoons showing overly complex machines doing simple tasks in a terribly convoluted manner, hence the phrase “Rube Goldberg machines”. The X-Files episode titled “The Goldberg Variation” involved an apartment rigged as a Goldberg machine. (Died 1970.)
  • Born July 4, 1900 Guy Endore. Writer of The Werewolf of Paris which is said by Stableford in the St. James Guide to Horror, Ghost & Gothic Writers as “entitled to be considered the werewolf novel”. He also wrote “The Day of the Dragon” which Stableford likes as well. He was a scriptwriter hence for writing Mark of the Vampire starring Bela Lugosi. He also the treatment for The Raven but never got credited. (Died 1970.)
  • Born July 4, 1910 Gloria Stuart. She was cast as Flora Cranley opposite Claude Rains in The Invisible Man in 1933, and 68 years later she played Madeline Fawkes in The Invisible Man series. She was in The Old Dark House as Margaret Waverton which is considered horror largely because Boris Karloff was in it. And she was in the time travelling The Two Worlds of Jennie Logan as well. (Died 2010.)
  • Born July 4, 1949 Peter Crowther, 74. He is the founder (with Simon Conway) of PS Publishing where he’s editor now. He edited a series of genre anthologies that DAW published. And he’s written a number of horror novels of which I’d say After Happily Ever and By Wizard Oak are good introductions to him. He’s also done a lot of short fiction but I see he’s not really available in digital form all that much for short fiction or novels. 
  • Born July 4, 1974 Kevin Hanchard, 49. Canadian actor best known for his major role in Orphan Black as Detective Art Bell, whose partner’s suicide kicks off the whole show. He also had a significant role in the first season of The Expanse as Inspector Sematimba, Det. Miller’s old friend from Eros. Other genre roles include appearances in the movies Suicide Squad and the made-for-TV Savage Planet, and shows The StrainHemlock GroveWynonna Earp, and Impulse, among others. (Xtifr) 
  • Born July 4, 1977 David Petersen, 46. Writer and illustrator of the brilliant Mouse Guard series. If you haven’t read it, do so — it’s that good and it’s still ongoing. It almost got developed as a film but got axed due to corporate politics. IDW published The Wind in The Willows with over sixty of his illustrations awhile back.  I’d have love to seen that! 

(11) CANCELLATION MARK. There’s a hole in the schedule where Crater used to be says Digital Spy: “Handmaid’s Tale star’s new movie removed from Disney+ seven weeks after release”.

Disney+ has removed Crater from its platform just seven weeks after it premiered.

The sci-fi adventure follows Caleb Channing (Isaiah Russell-Bailey), a young boy who was raised on a lunar mining colony and is about to be moved to a distant planet following the death of his father.

The film also features Mckenna Grace, best known for portraying child bride Esther Keyes in The Handsmaid’s Tale….

But despite its $50 million (£39 million) budget, the film – directed by Kyle Patrick Alvarez – can no longer be watched on Disney+….

Crater, which debuted on May 12, scored a respectable 64% on aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes….

(12) LITTLE ICE AGE. The National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., in “Painting Climate Change in the 17th Century”, discusses art that documents a historic climate fluctuation.  

The world has warmed by more than one degree Celsius since the late 19th century, and it is on course to warm by another two degrees by the end of this century. The combination of the speed, likely magnitude, and human cause of this global warming make it unprecedented in the history of our species.

Yet this is not the first time Earth’s climate has changed. In the 13th century, the climate of the Northern Hemisphere started to cool due to natural causes. Although cooling varied over time and from place to place, in general it persisted for several centuries. This period is commonly referred to as the Little Ice Age. Global temperatures declined by just a few tenths of a degree Celsius—significantly less dramatic a change than our current warming trend. Nevertheless, regional effects were often severe, including catastrophic droughts, torrential rains, and entire years in which winter never fully gave way to spring and summer.

…Some of the disasters of the Little Ice Age may sound familiar. Indeed, many scholars study how people of the past coped with extreme weather to better understand how our societies might respond to global warming. The 17th-century Low Countries (modern Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands) provide striking models of just how adaptive and resilient people can be in the face of a changing climate. But they also provide warnings about how climate resilience can create or worsen inequality.

Fortunately, the 17th century has furnished us with a unique resource: millions of paintings, prints, and drawings, created by thousands of artists across the Low Countries, that depict elements of everyday life. By 1650 the inhabitants of Holland—the wealthiest province of the Dutch Republic, the precursor state to today’s Netherlands—collectively owned around 2.5 million paintings. Many of these paintings seem to reflect the presence of the Little Ice Age and record its consequences for ordinary people. Some remarkable examples are included in the National Gallery’s collection. 

These include stunning winter landscapes, which seem to recreate, with plausible detail, real-life gatherings in frigid weather. For example, Adam van Breen painted Skating on the Frozen Amstel River amid a sequence of chilly winters in the Low Countries, and in 1646—when Jan van Goyen painted Ice Scene near a Wooden Observation Tower—winter was even colder.

Although there were forces other than climate change that influenced how artists chose and depicted their subjects, icy landscapes do shed light on how the Dutch adapted to a cooler climate. The coastal Low Countries were crisscrossed by waterways that allowed for the efficient transportation of goods, people, and information. 

Paintings like those of Van Breen and Van Goyen accurately portray how ordinary people across the Low Countries used sleds and ice skates—a Dutch invention—to keep these transportation networks open in cold weather. To maintain crucial shipments of goods that were easier to send by water, intrepid traders even designed specialized icebreaker ships.

(13) ENGRAVED IN MEMORY. Catherynne Valente told Facebook readers why this quote is familiar.

OH MY GOD LOOK WHAT I JUST FOUND IN THE #BAYCON DEALERS’ ROOM!

I’m so completely delighted! I, big dumb #Trekkie, wrote that thing back when Twitter was fun! Ahh!

(14) THE END OF THE WORLD, AGAIN! [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] There nothing like the end of the world.  It is spectacular.  It is catastrophic. It has bags of sense-of-wonder.  It is anything but mundane. What’s not to like..?  Having said that, I prefer my ends of the world to be firmly in science fiction or alternatively in the future: certainly beyond my time; I’m dead sure I would not be personally partial to it and if I were I’d shortly be dead…  On that cheery thought, it is time to check out Science & Futurism with Isaac Arthur as he explores ‘Earth After Humanity’.

Isaac Arthur notes that there are many ways humanity’s world could end, but picks six basic scenarios:

  • An extinction-level natural catastrophe
  • Mass destruction by nuking ourselves or dystopian industrial scenarios
  • A super plague  
  • Artificial Intelligence kills us off
  • Aliens
  • Humanity abandons Earth.

Isaac opines that a global-level natural catastrophe – say an asteroid hundreds of miles across – would be unlikely to thread the needle between wiping out humanity, but leave lesser creatures such as plants and insects alive from which the biosphere might recover. Along the way, he touches on problems such as genetic bottle-necking in recovering sparsely distributed, very small populations.

With a super plague, he notes that it would not be instantaneous, and almost certainly there would be time to land planes and turn-off nuclear power plants (though here I note that Ukraine has demonstrated that that is not as easy as Isaac suggests). So the planet would continue without humanity and wildlife would reclaim our farms and cities.

Isaac is more optimistic when it comes to considering whether an AI would want to take out humanity. He hovers between AI possibly being ‘human-like’ as we would create it, and AI being completely alien to us.

With regards to aliens coming along and killing us off, Isaac thinks they would be likely to value life even if they were ruthless about wiping out potential competitors, so again, life other than humanity would survive. Having said that, he reminds us that the first rule of warfare (the physicist Isaac served in the US forces) is that there is no such thing as overkill.

One issue would be our pets. Could larger dogs survive and evolve even better predatory skills? He does wonder who would end up at the top of the food chain?

Finally, Isaac cannot easily see us simply abandoning Earth (unless there was an existential threat). Some humans would not leave…

…By the way, this was the 401th episode of  Science & Futurism with the 400th milestone happening the other week.

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

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 6/4/23 Wednesday’s Pixel Is Full Of Scroll

(1) CHIANG CALLS AI “A POOR CHOICE OF WORDS”. Behind a paywall in the Financial Times: “Sci-fi writer Ted Chiang: ‘The machines we have now are not conscious’”.

…Before we have had a chance to order, the proprietor, who also doubles as the waiter, turns up with two steaming bowls of peppery red lentil soup. The flavours instantly awaken my taste buds: salty and pungent. As we dive in, Chiang, in his contemplative way, takes issue with my observation that his fictional worlds and the one we’re inhabiting are getting uncomfortably close together.

“The machines we have now, they’re not conscious,” he says. “When one person teaches another person, that is an interaction between consciousnesses.” Meanwhile, AI models are trained by toggling so-called “weights” or the strength of connections between different variables in the model, in order to get a desired output. “It would be a real mistake to think that when you’re teaching a child, all you are doing is adjusting the weights in a network.”

Chiang’s main objection, a writerly one, is with the words we choose to describe all this. Anthropomorphic language such as “learn”, “understand”, “know” and personal pronouns such as “I” that AI engineers and journalists project on to chatbots such as ChatGPT create an illusion. This hasty shorthand pushes all of us, he says — even those intimately familiar with how these systems work — towards seeing sparks of sentience in AI tools, where there are none.

“There was an exchange on Twitter a while back where someone said, ‘What is artificial intelligence?’ And someone else said, ‘A poor choice of words in 1954’,” he says. “And, you know, they’re right. I think that if we had chosen a different phrase for it, back in the ’50s, we might have avoided a lot of the confusion that we’re having now.”

So if he had to invent a term, what would it be? His answer is instant: applied statistics….

(2) CHICON 8 WILL SHARE SURPLUS. The Chicon 8 Worldcon committee informed Facebook readers today the 2022 event has a surplus. Here’s how they will distributed it:

We are delighted to tell you that Chicon 8 has achieved a modest budget surplus, despite the challenge of a pandemic environment which reduced our membership numbers and increased our costs. This means that we will have funds to pass along to the next three Worldcons, as well as some other fannish organizations.

Additionally, we are offering a partial reimbursement to all qualifying staff, volunteers and program participants. You should have received the email last weekend, so do check your spam filters! Questions can be sent to reimbursements @ chicon.org

(3) POORFEADING. My reprinting “TYPOS by Mike Glyer” today reminded John Hertz of the popular poem “Ode to a Typographical Error” at Mighty Red Pen. The first two lines are:

The typographical error is a slippery thing and sly;
You can hunt till you are dizzy, but it somehow will get by.

(4) ON THE FRITZ. And while we’re on the subject, Andrew (not Werdna) suggested we check out the typos (at least two) on the back of this edition of Robert Silverberg’s Great Tales of Science Fiction.

(5) CELEBRITY BRUSH. Buzzfeed found “17 Stories From Former Classmates Of Celebs” – one of them writes sff.

Quite a while back, a since-deleted Reddit account asked, “Those who went to high school with celebrities, who were they and what were they like?”…

16. “My cousin went to high school with George R. R. Martin [the author of A Song of Ice and Fire, the series adapted into Game of Thrones] and recalled having a freshman lit class with him. When it was time for everyone to read their stories, George’s was BY FAR the best. Apparently, the entire class simultaneously dropped their jaws. Guy’s a talent. Oh, and apparently, he was a typical nice dude.”

(6) PLAY IT AGAIN, CARL. MeTV says “The music of Kolchak: The Night Stalker shares roots with Star Trek and Trilogy of Terror”.

From the first frame in the opening sequence of Kolchak: The Night Stalker, the music sets the tone. First, our protagonist whistles us a tune, a homespun melody that grounds us in Carl Kolchak’s world. Quickly, though, the playful music swells into a nearly-overwhelming orchestral score, contrasting the simpler sounds with blood-pressuring raising crescendos.

The title music is indicative of what’s to come. Carl Kolchak is seemingly a simple-enough man, however, his exploits are anything but. What could be a simple series about a regular newspaper reporter turns into a monster-of-the-week horror show. It’s a testament to the cast and crew that this tone is so expertly balanced.

Chief among the creatives who influenced the series’ direction is the show’s various composers. Initially, for the made-for-TV ABC movies featuring Kolchak, those duties were handled by Bob Cobert. Cobert was, himself, no stranger to television shows that go bump in the night; that’s his work soundtracking the vintage vampire soap opera Dark Shadows. You might also recognize his work in Trilogy of Terror, another terrifying made-for-TV flick.

The theme for the television series, though, was composed by Gil Mellé. That’s Mellé’s melody that Kolchak whispers in the opening moments. Shows like Ironside and The Night Gallery were all the better for their Mellé scores…. 

(7) YOUR MILEAGE MAY VARY. “20 Books to 50K is worse than KBoards now” opines Joe Vasicek.

I don’t think I have posted a single thing to the 20 Books to 50K Facebook group that hasn’t been declined by the moderators. None of my posts have been political, and I’ve gone out of my way not to throw any bombs.

Even in the wokest days of KBoards, before I was banned from that site (and just before they fell off a cliff in terms of being the main gathering place online for indie authors), the moderators were never this harsh.

Online communities have a life cycle, and in the later stages they either fall apart because the trolls take over, or the moderators become too tyrannical. Apparently, that now applies to real-life communities too, now that we all spend most of our time online. Right now, 20 Books is in perhaps the most advanced stage of a moderator takeover that I’ve ever seen….

(8) MEMORY LANE.

2003[Written by Cat Eldridge from a choice by Mike Glyer.]

Our Beginning is that of “A Night on the Barbary Coast”, a short story by Kage Baker that was first published in The Silver Gryphon anthology edited Marty Halpern and Gary Turner and published by their Golden Gryphon Press twenty years ago. Check out the contents on ISFDB — if you’ve not read it, you’ll want to.  Oh and the wrap around illustration is by Tom Canty.

Kage and I as I have mentioned before had a long conversation ongoing in email and on the phone for years before her death. We were planning a Concordance consisting of interviews with her characters and other materials but she became too ill too fast for it to happen. Pity that as it would been a lot of fun to do. 

Gods and Pawns where it was reprinted along with other Company stories is available from the usual suspects. The Silver Gryphon is about two dollars currently on ABE Books. Signed copies are considerably more. 

And here’s our Beginning…

I’d been walking for five days, looking for Mendoza. The year was 1850. 

Actually, walking doesn’t really describe traveling through that damned vertical wilderness in which she lived. I’d crawled uphill on hands and knees, which is no fun when you’re dressed as a Franciscan friar, with sandals and beads and the whole nine yards of brown burlap robe. I’d slid downhill, which is no fun either, especially when the robe rides up in back. I’d waded across freezing cold creeks and followed thready little trails through ferns, across forest floors in permanent darkness under towering redwoods. I’m talking gloom. One day the poets will fall in love with Big Sur, and after them the beats and hippies, but if vampires ever discover the place they’ll go nuts over it. 

Mendoza isn’t a vampire, though she is an immortal being with a lot of problems, most of which she blames on me.

I’m an immortal being with a lot of problems, too. Like father, like daughter. 

After most of a week, I finally came out on a patch of level ground about three thousand feet up. I was standing there looking down on clouds floating above the Pacific Ocean, and feeling kind of funny in the pit of my stomach as a result—and suddenly saw the Company-issue processing credenza on my left, nicely camouflaged. I’d found Mendoza’s camp at last. 

There was her bivvy tent, all right, and a table with a camp stove, and five pots with baby trees growing in them. Everything but the trees had a dusty, abandoned look. Cripes, I thought to myself, how long since she’s been here? I looked around uneasily, wondering if I ought to yoo-hoo or something, and that was when I noticed her signal coming from… up? I craned back my head.

An oak tree rose from the mountain face behind me, huge and branching wide, and high up there among the boughs Mendoza leaned. She gazed out at the sea; but with such a look of ecstatic vacancy in her eyes, I guessed she was seeing something a lot farther away than that earthly horizon.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born June 4, 1936 Bruce Dern, 87. Here for Silent Running, a film I’d completely forgotten I’d seen until compiling this Birthday. It’s the directorial debut of Douglas Trumbull who went on to much more famous projects. Dern also shows up in a number of other genre films such as The Incredible 2-Headed TransplantThe HauntingThe Astronaut Farmer and Freaks. Needless to say, you’ll find him on series such as The Outer LimitsAlfred Hitchcock Presents and Land of the Giants
  • Born June 4, 1951 Wendi Pini, 72. With husband Richard, responsible for Elfquest. Over the years Elfquest has been self-published by the Pinis through their own company Warp Graphics, then Marvel Comics, then the Pinis again, more recently DC Comics and then Dark Horse Comics. Everything prior to 2013 is free online. Be prepared to spend hours lost in great reading! 
  • Born June 4, 1960 Kristine Kathryn Rusch, 63. If you’ve not discovered the delights of her Diving Universe series, you’re in for a treat — it’s that good. Her Retrieval Artist series is one that can be read in no particular order so is a great deal of fun no matter where you start. Nor let us forget the Spade/Paladin series, I think we can call it a series, which is quite delightful.  Ten Little Fen is the first novel in that series. Oh, and she won the Astounding Award for Best New Writer. Her Website is here; don’t miss her appreciation of A. J. Budrys.
  • Born June 4, 1960 Bradley Walsh, 63. His first genre was on The Sarah Jane Adventures as Odd Bob Elijah Spellman aka The Pied Piper in “The Day of the Clown” story. His major genre role video wise however is Graham O’Brien, companion to the Thirteenth Doctor. Now it’s worth noting that he has a lot of theatre experience that is genre having appeared in multiple versions of AladdinCinderellaJack & the Bean StalkPeter Pan and Snow White.
  • Born June 4, 1964 Sean Pertwee, 59. Let’s see, where did I see him first? Oh, of course, playing Sheriff Hugh Beringar on Cadfael but that’s not genre, is it? Captain Heinz in “Trenches of Hell, Part 2 “,  on The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles was his first genre role followed being Pilot Smith on Event Horizon and Macbeth in a UK film of that name the same year. He did a bit of low-budget horror playing Bradley Cortese in Tale of the Mummy and likewise in being Sergeant Harry G. Wells in Dog Soldiers. There were some fairly low budget SF as well, say Father in Equilibrium. Not to mention Brother Proteus in Ultramarines: A Warhammer 40,000 Movie which I dearly want to see! All of which gets redeemed by his Inspector Lestrade in Elementary, a stunning take on that character. And then there’s his Alfred in Gotham.
  • Born June 4, 1972 Joe Hill, 51. I’ve met him once or twice down the years as he shows up here in Portland for signings at both book shops and comic shops. Nice guy like his father. Actually the whole family is amazingly nice. Locke & Key is a superb graphic novel series and I’m fond of all of his short stories, particularly those collected in 20th Century Ghosts. I’ve got Full Throttle, his latest collection in my digital reading pile. I notice that though he’s not yet won a Hugo, he’s won a fistful of Stokers, many BFAs, a World Fantasy Award and even an International Horror Guild Award.  
  • Born June 4, 1975 Angelina Jolie, 48. I really liked her two Tomb Raider films and thought Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow was a really cool film with her role being quite magnificent. I never saw her early Cyborg 2 undertaking but think Hackers and her role as Kate “Acid Burn” Libby was rather good. I’ve not seen her Maleficent films. 
  • Born June 4, 1991 Jordan Danger, 32. She is best known for her role as Zoe Carter on Eureka. (Now inexplicably renamed A Town Called Eureka in syndication.) She also showed up in Ragin Cajun Redneck Gators which as horror is genre of sorts, plus the SF films, Higher Power and Beyond the Sky. And even a vampire film, Living Among Us. All low budget, all straight to DVD productions.

(10) TO START YOUR WEEK. Sunday Morning Transport seeks to encourage subscribers with this free read, “Hibernation Heirloom”.

For June, we begin with Chelsea Mueller’s evocative view of motherhood’s pressures and expectations. ~ Julian and Fran, June 4, 2023

(11) ROBERT J. SAWYER PROFILE. The Chengdu Worldcon’s latest “Dialogue with Sci-Fi Heavy Hitters” is: “Robert J. Sawyer: Go to Chengdu and You Will Meet the Best Sci-Fi Fans in the World”.

…Robert J. Sawyer’s latest sci-fi novel Download released this month also revolves around the two core themes. In the novel, humans have uploaded their consciousness into the meta-universe, opening up an alternative way of life. But suddenly, something happened. Some people vanish forever, and the survivors have to return to the real world.

The inspiration for the novel comes from Sawyer’s own feelings during the pandemic. “Before the pandemic, we were free to meet, to gather, to touch each other, to hug loved ones. Then the life we had taken for granted took a big hit and many had to connect online. So I thought, what if one day humans could only survive digitally and never return to the real world? Or what if they were suddenly forced to return to the real world after getting used to digital existence?”

Nor were his feelings confined to this point. “For decades, sci-fi writers have depicted various possible plagues, but when a plaue actually arrived, the world was still unprepared. People never learn from their mistakes, and this hasn’t changed for thousands of years.” Sawyer tells.

“And one thing hasn’t changed too. No matter how much convenience the Internet can provide, how exciting the video games can be, nothing can replace real human connection, laughter and clinking glasses, eye contacts, and soft breathing by the ears. Digital life has never been the direction of human evolution. In this era of rapid advances in AI, it is more vital than ever to appreciate human contribution and value.” Sawyer claims….

(12) WILLETT’S FIRST NOVEL BACK IN PRINT. Soulworm, the debut novel of Edward Willett, now the award-winning author of more than 20 novels and twice that many nonfiction books, has been made available once more in a new edition from Shadowpaw Press Reprise.

This YA fantasy novel, originally published in 1997, was written in the 1980s while Willett was news editor of the Weyburn Review newspaper, and is set in Weyburn in 1984—which nowadays gives it a Stranger Things vibe, although at the time it was a present-day tale.

Willett is an Aurora Award winner for Marseguro (DAW) and for Best Fan Related Work in 2019 for The Worldshapers podcast, and a Saskatchewan Book Award for Spirit Singer in 2002.

The story

For years, Liothel has waited in vain for her powers to manifest themselves, so that she can become a full-blown Warder, defender of the realm of Mykia from the mind-controlling spirit creatures known as soulworms. But when a soulworm escapes from the Warden’s citadel through a magical portal into the parallel world of Earth, it is her spirit that, entirely by accident, is sent in pursuit.

She finds herself, a helpless, unsuspected observer, in the mind of Maribeth, a teenage girl in the small Canadian prairie city of Weyburn, Saskatchewan, in 1984—and discovers the soulworm has possessed Maribeth’s best friend, Christine.

Somehow, she must find a way to save Earth from the plague of death and destruction the soulworm and its offspring will release if allowed to spread across the unprotected planet. Only she knows the danger—and only she can stop it.

(13) “NOT TODAY”. Michael Toman suggests those who have read Connie Willis’ novel Passage could be interested in this item: “Scientists saw a surge in brain activity in dying patients that could finally help explain mysterious near-death experiences” at MSN.com.

…The researchers found that two out of four of the dying patients experienced a swell of gamma waves — the brain activity associated with lucid dreams and hallucinations — even after their hearts had stopped, according to Smithsonian Magazine.  

Scientists have long thought that the brain dies with the rest of the body, but the latest study suggests that people may retain a certain level of consciousness that lends to dream-like, out-of-body experiences as they die, Vice reported

“The discovery of the marked and organized gamma activities in the dying brain suggests that [a near-death experience] is the product of the dying brain, which is activated at death,” the lead author of the study, Jimo Borjigin, told Vice. 

“As far as I am concerned, our study may be as good as it will ever get for finding neural signatures of near-death consciousness,” Borjigin told Vice, adding that the “only thing better than this is to have the patients survive to tell the tale that correlates with the detected neural signatures.”…

(14) PROVING LOVE. A Midsummer Night’s Dream, with Gwendoline Christie and Oliver Chris, was captured live from the Bridge Theatre in 2019. Watch now on National Theatre at Home:  

‘The course of true love never did run smooth.’ A feuding fairy King and Queen of the forest cross paths with four runaway lovers and a troupe of actors trying to rehearse a play. As their dispute grows, the magical royal couple meddle with mortal lives leading to love triangles, mistaken identities and transformations… with hilarious, but dark consequences. Shakespeare’s most famous romantic comedy will be captured live from the Bridge Theatre in London. Gwendoline Christie (Game of Thrones), Oliver Chris (Green Wing, NT Live: Young Marx), David Moorst (NT Live: Allelujah!) and Hammed Animashaun (The Barber Shop Chronicles) lead the cast as Titania, Oberon, Puck and Bottom.

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. The Daniel Radcliffe series arrives July 10 reports Collider: “’Miracle Workers: End Times’ Release Date Finally Set at TBS”.

It’s the end of the world as we know it, and we feel great. After several months of delay, TBS has finally set a new release date for its anthology series Miracle Workers. The upcoming fourth season, formally titled Miracle Workers: End Times, premieres on the network on Monday, July 10.

End Times primarily follows a warrior named Sid (Daniel Radcliffe) and a warlord named Freya (Geraldine Viswanathan), a couple who must now face one of their biggest challenges yet: acclimating to a suburban lifestyle. Because even dystopia comes with its own share of modern day struggles. Based on previously released trailers, Sid and Freya try their best to find normalcy in their new setting, offering support for each other through every up and down. Additionally, Steve Buscemi will play Sid’s boss, and from the current glimpses of him, things won’t be smooth sailing.

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

Pixel Scroll 2/14/23 They Will Not Be Filed, Stamped, Indexed, Briefed, Debriefed, Or Numbered But They Will Be Pixelated

(1) CLOSE ENOUGH FOR…WHAT KIND OF WORK? Ted Chiang tells The New Yorker that “ChatGPT Is a Blurry JPEG of the Web”.

… This analogy to lossy compression is not just a way to understand ChatGPT’s facility at repackaging information found on the Web by using different words. It’s also a way to understand the “hallucinations,” or nonsensical answers to factual questions, to which large language models such as ChatGPT are all too prone. These hallucinations are compression artifacts, but—like the incorrect labels generated by the Xerox photocopier—they are plausible enough that identifying them requires comparing them against the originals, which in this case means either the Web or our own knowledge of the world. When we think about them this way, such hallucinations are anything but surprising; if a compression algorithm is designed to reconstruct text after ninety-nine per cent of the original has been discarded, we should expect that significant portions of what it generates will be entirely fabricated.

This analogy makes even more sense when we remember that a common technique used by lossy compression algorithms is interpolation—that is, estimating what’s missing by looking at what’s on either side of the gap. When an image program is displaying a photo and has to reconstruct a pixel that was lost during the compression process, it looks at the nearby pixels and calculates the average. This is what ChatGPT does when it’s prompted to describe, say, losing a sock in the dryer using the style of the Declaration of Independence: it is taking two points in “lexical space” and generating the text that would occupy the location between them. (“When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one to separate his garments from their mates, in order to maintain the cleanliness and order thereof. . . .”) ChatGPT is so good at this form of interpolation that people find it entertaining: they’ve discovered a “blur” tool for paragraphs instead of photos, and are having a blast playing with it….

(2) ARGUMENT FOR SEPARATING ART AND THE ARTIST. [Item by Bruce D. Arthurs.] EV Knight, doctor, says she was dumped from a hospital position due to writing horror. There is further information in Knight’s response to comments.

(3) ATTENDING LTUE THOUGHTFULLY. At Being A Better Writer, Max Florschutz encourages writers attending LTUE to focus on the opportunity to learn more about their craft and not just bask in the reflected glory of celebrity authors: “How to Use a Writing Resource Like LTUE”.

…LTUE, Life, The Universe, and Everything, which is the writing convention for writers, is happening this week. It’s a big deal. I’ve been readying myself for several weeks now, making sure that I’m prepared and ready to go when this Thursday rolls around…. 

See, there’s a lot that goes on at LTUE, but one thing that people sometimes forget when they’re in attendance is that first and foremost, LTUE is an educational con. Yes, it’s neat and fun to be able to meet some of our favorite authors and creators in the Sci-Fi and Fantasy space … but we’re not there just to meet them. And when they bring up that book that you really love or that scene that you thought was very cool, they’re not just brining it up because of that—though they definitely love it too. No, they’re bringing it up because they want to illustrate a point, or demonstrate something….

He follows with a checklist to use in assessing which items to attend. It’s advice you could adapt for attending many different cons.

(4) AMAZING’S NEW EDITOR. Lloyd Penney is a news flash on the Toronto Metropolitan University School of Journalism webpage: “Alum named editor of sci-fi magazine Amazing Stories”.

Lloyd Penney

When Lloyd Penney ‘83 received a phone call last November, he was not expecting to hear surprising news. He says he was utterly shocked to find out he would be the next editor-in-chief for one of America’s most popular sci-fi magazines, Amazing Stories, external link.  

Penney describes Amazing Stories as the “best writing” of science fiction that is enjoyable to read.

“Some of them can be bizarre, but that’s the expression of imagination. And if you can think it, if you can imagine it, you can grasp it,” says Penney.

Published for almost a century, the idea of Amazing Stories is to challenge you to think the unthinkable, enhance your imagination and enjoy the writing.

“Now, one of my jobs, besides being the editor-in-chief, is also the defender of that long history. I want to make sure that we do right by it,” says Penney….

(5) STICKING TO IT. Jon Favreau now has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The actor he cast as Iron Man introduced him in Tony Stark style. “Watch: Robert Downey Jr. Honors Jon Favreau by Defiling His Walk of Fame Star With Chewed Gum” at Comicbook.com.

…Downey took the podium to pay tribute to his two-time Iron Man director, who lobbied producer Kevin Feige and Marvel Studios to cast the once-troubled actor at the time better known for his off-screen bad behavior than his movie career. (“It wasn’t an easy job to get him cast,” Favreau recalled to EW in 2018. “There was quite a bit of resistance at first.”)

“Never forget where you come from. 16 years ago this week, Jon and I were in pre-production on what felt like a high-concept indie, and we were fueled by this infectious, yet unfounded, confidence,” Downey said in his speech. “I was beyond grateful for the power of second chances. Strangely, Kevin Feige trusted us, he and I trusted Jon, and for no good reason, Jon and Kevin trusted me.”

Before Iron Man grossed more than half a billion dollars globally and kick-started the now 31-movie MCU, it was “a second-tier superhero property that had no shot at affording Kevin Feige the opportunity to launch a cinematic universe, because there was no such thing as a cinematic universe.”

“Now, I would never insinuate that it was me who made Jon a multi-hyphenate international sensation, because I have to leave something for his speech,” Downey quipped, breaking out in laughter. “And there’s nothing more awkward for my friend that we are here to celebrate and honor than being honored and celebrated.”…

(6) MEMORY LANE.

1981[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

I suspect that almost all of you here have seen the Who Framed Roger Rabbit? film. Brilliant I think we can all agree. The screenplay was by Jeffrey Price and Peter S. Seaman which they based off of Gary K. Wolf’s Who Censored Roger Rabbit? novel. 

Now how many of you have read the Who Censored Roger Rabbit novel? Well I have. It actually reads rather well.  It of course is an entirely different experience than the film but a rather excellent one none the less. The characters are well fleshed out, the setting is described quite well and the story which more or less makes it intact to Who Framed Roger Rabbit? is quite good.

And now here is that Beginning…

I found the bungalow and rang the bell.

My client answered the door. Novel.

He was almost my height, close to six feet, but only if you counted his eighteen-inch ears. He wore only a baggy pair of shorts, held up by brightly colored suspenders. His shoulders stooped so badly, he had to secure his suspender tops in place with crossed pieces of cellophane tape. For eyes, he had twin black dots, floating in the center of two oblong white saucers. His white stomach, nose, toes, and palms on a light brown body made him resemble someone who had just walked face first into a freshly painted wall.

“I’m Eddie Valiant, private eye. You the one who called?”

“Yes, I am,” he said, extending a fuzzy white paw. “I’m Roger Rabbit.” His words came out encased in a balloon that floated over his head.

The rabbit ushered me into his living room. The angular furniture reminded me of the upward-reaching spires in caves. That, combined with an extremely low ceiling and stale air, gave the room the closed-in nature of an underground burrow. Perfect interior design for a rabbit.”

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born February 14, 1919 David A. Kyle. He chaired the 1956 Worldcon, was a leader in First Fandom, and wrote innumerable fanhistorical articles for Mimosa. Along with Martin Greenberg, he founded Gnome Press in the late Forties. He also penned two illustrated SF histories, A Pictorial History of Science Fiction and The Illustrated Book of Science Fiction Ideas and Dreams. He wrote three novels set in the Lensman universe: The Dragon LensmanLensman from Rigel and Z-Lensman. So has anybody read these? (Died 2016.)
  • Born February 14, 1925 J. T. McIntosh. Scottish writer at his best according to Clute in his early work such as World Out of Mind and One in Three Hundred. He’s deeply stocked at the usual suspects at very reasonable rates, indeed most as Meredith Moments. (Died 2008.)
  • Born February 14, 1933 Robert Shea. Author with Robert Anton Wilson of The Illuminatus Trilogy (The Eye in the PyramidThe Golden Apple and Leviathan). Is it really genre? Or just the ravings of two insane writers?  It won the Prometheus Hall of Fame Award. (Died 1994.)
  • Born February 14, 1942 Andrew Robinson, 81. Elim Garak on Deep Space Nine. He wrote a novel based based on his character, A Stitch in Time  and a novella, “The Calling” which can be found in Prophecy and Change, a DS9 anthology edited by Marco Palmieri. Other genre credits include Larry Cotton in Hellraiser, appearing in The Puppet Masters as Hawthorne and playing John F. Kennedy on the The New Twilight Zone
  • Born February 14, 1952 Gwyneth Jones, 71. Interesting person that she is, let’s start with her thoughts on thoughts on chestnuts. Just because I can. Now regarding her fiction, I’d strongly recommend her Bold As Love series of a Britain that went to pieces, and her twenty year-old Deconstructing the Starships: Science, Fiction and Reality polemic is still worth reading.
  • Born February 14, 1952 Paula M. Block, 71. Star Trek author and editor; but primarily known for working in Paramount Pictures’ consumer licensing division and then with CBS Consumer Products. Remember that novel I noted by Andrew Robinson? Yeah that’s her bailiwick. She’s also written with her husband Terry J. Erdmann, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion and Star Trek: Costumes: Five Decades of Fashion from the Final Frontier. It looks like she did some Trek fanfic as well including “The Girl Who Controlled Gene Kelly’s Feet”.
  • Born February 14, 1963 Enrico Colantoni, 60. Any excuse to mention Galaxy Quest is one I’ll gladly take. He played a delightful Mathesar on that film and that was his first genre role, lucky bastard. up next for him was A.I. Artificial Intelligence as The Murderer followed by appearing in Justice League Dark as the voice of Felix Faust where (SPOILER!) his fate was very, very bad. He had an amazing role on Person of Interest as Charlie Burton / Carl Elias. Not genre, but his acting as Sgt. Gregory Parker on Flashpointa Canadian police drama television series is worth noting
  • Born February 14, 1975 M. Darusha Wehm, 48. New Zealand resident writer who was nominated for the Nebula Award and won the New Zealand Sir Julius Vogel Award for The Martian Job novel. She says it’s interactive fiction. You can read the standalone prequel novella, Retaking Elysium, on her website which can be found here.

(8) COMICS SECTION.

  • Sally Forth shows someone inventing an entertaining board game mashup.

(9) JEOPARDY! David Goldfarb chronicled two sff references in yesterday’s episode of Jeopardy!

TV Catchphrases, $200: “This Starfleet captain: ‘Make it so'”

The returning champion, Mira Hayward, tried “Who is Captain Kirk?”.

Jeff Paine responded correctly.


TV Catchphrases, $1000: “Mork: This double-talk Orkan signoff”

Jeff Paine (who looked a bit young to have watched it on first run) responded “Nanu nanu”. He hails from Colorado Springs, so perhaps the Colorado connection helped.

(10) VERDICT APPEALED. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Some little time back, Warner Bros. Discovery executives leaked that they axed the Batgirl film, which was well into post production, because, well, it sucked. “Not so!” says the title actress, Leslie Grace.  “‘Batgirl’ Star Leslie Grace Rejects Studio’s Claim the Axed Film Was Unreleasable: The Cut I Saw Was ‘Incredible’” in Variety.

When “Batgirl” completed its seven-month production in Scotland, star Leslie Grace received a wrap gift from Brendan Fraser, who played her nemesis, Firefly, in the DC movie — a gold necklace that included two charms, a little bell and a pair of dice.

“The card said a lot of really sweet things, but he basically said, ‘I give you this necklace because in this business you gotta have a little luck. So ring your bell and never stop,’” Grace says. “It was just like, Whoa. And after all this, it’s had so much meaning.”

“All this” is the August bombshell that Warner Bros. Discovery had decided to kill the film, co-directed by Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah. After the first disappointing test screenings, WBD executives chose to take a tax write-off instead of trying to complete work on the film, which had cost the debt-ridden studio $90 million, and would have cost many more millions to finish.

Grace says she had no idea the movie, originally set to stream on HBO Max, was shelved, until it was first reported by the New York Post.

“I found out like the rest of you,” she says. “And then my phone just started blowing up.”

Like Grace, Fraser says he was blindsided by the news. “I thought I was getting punked, but it checked out,” he says of reading the initial stories. “Then came hysterical laughter like, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me?’ I know that the filmmakers and producers were expecting to hear from the studio about the film, and the anticipation was, ‘How do we broaden the movie out to take it from a streaming format to a theatrical release?’ But as we all know, it was the complete opposite. When we were expecting XYZ amount of support and money to expand scenes — to do pickup shots and those kinds of things — that was a gut punch. But then we learned that it was in the interest of writing down some debt? That part really stung.”

Fraser immediately called Grace. “What I find most lamentable is that now a whole generation of little girls are going to have to wait longer to see a Batgirl and say, ‘Hey, she looks like me,’” he says. “That makes me sad. I know how good she was. And I know what this would mean to so many people.”

Fraser gets emotional talking about working with Grace. “It was just magical to see how she was as quietly confident as a young actress in this breakthrough role and had a sense of purpose and dignity,” he says. “She has a work ethic that is unrivaled. She’s dynamite — and dynamite comes in small packages but still goes bang. We do battle each other several times. There was a lot of kicking and punching and getting hurt but we were always help each other to our feet after breaking set pieces and knocking the tar out of each other.”…

(11) A SPOKE IN SPACE. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Research in the journal Geophysical Research Letters highlights the start of a change in Saturn’s rings. “Hubble Detects the Start of a New Saturn Ring Spoke Season”.

Saturn is known for its iconic, pristine rings. However, the main B ring can have splotches and streaks of darker or lighter material, known as spokes, that may be tied to dust interactions with the planet’s magnetic field. These spokes appear periodically, lasting around 8 years, centered around Saturn spring or fall equinox. Hubble Space Telescope observations in 2021 and 2022 revealed the start of a new ring spoke season in advance of the next equinox in 2025. Multi-color observations reveal a reddish color, and that the spokes circle the planet at about the same rate as the ring particles, though perhaps influenced by the variable rotation rate of Saturn’s magnetosphere. Spoke activity should continue to increase for the next several years, becoming more visible to ground-based telescopes over time.

(12) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In Fabrice Mathieu’s “In the shadow”, a shadow is telling its life story with his “Wearer”, a flesh and bone double, who one day it decides to get rid of…

This prequel is a research and editing work based on footage from more than sixty movies showing the most beautiful shadows in the cinema history, from “Nosferatu” to “Sin City”. The story is narrated from the shadow’s point of view.

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, Bruce D. Arthurs, Daniel Dern, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, David Goldfarb, Lloyd Penney, Fabrice Mathieu, Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Cat Eldridge.]

Pixel Scroll 9/20/22 Crisis Of Infinite Credentials: The Anti-Timothy Rises

(1) NONFICTION SPOTLIGHT Q&A. Cora Buhlert’s new “Non-Fiction Spotlight” is an interview with Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki about his collection Bridging WorldsBridging Worlds: Global Conversations On Creating Pan-African Speculative Literature In a Pandemic, edited by Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki”.

What prompted you to write/edit this book?

It just seemed like often we were shouting into the void, and not being heard. The works we create were received with nary a thought for where they came from or the work that went into them. It might seem like a seperate issue, the origin of the work. But a creator’s identity is very valid to their creation. And you cannot properly value a body of work without knowing it’s history or it’s creator. I witnessed a lot of struggle during the pandemic year, from my perch in Nigeria. And interacted with a lot of writers and creatives of African descent. And I just knew that these experiences needed to be documented, seen and heard.

(2) LASFS WEBSITE REVIVAL. Kristine Cherry is bringing alive the latest iteration of the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society’s website at LASFS.org. It includes a new blog whose latest feature is “A Letter to Forrest J Ackerman You Won’t Soon Forget”, which was written to Ackerman by Edgar Rice Burroughs in 1931.

(3) SUPPORT FOR INDIE AUTHORS. SFWA has added two sections to their “Indie Pub 101 Main Page”.

Launched in July, Indie Pub 101’s purpose is to provide up-to-date resources for indie authors so they can improve their craft, produce professional books, and promote their indie work competitively in the digital marketplace, using the best practices and innovations of successful indie authors. Of course, many of these resources are useful for creators using traditional publication paths as well.

The two new sections are:

(4) FREE READ. [Item by Olav Rokne.] Edify, a local affairs magazine in Edmonton, got Premee Mohamed to write a story for them. It’s odd, whimsical, and fairly short. “The Control of Certain Impulses”.

(5) 2022 ACFW CAROL AWARDS. The ACFW Carol Awards for Christian Fiction include a speculative fiction category. The complete list is of winners is here.

WINNER

  • Windward Shore by Sharon Hinck (Enclave)

OTHER FINALISTS

  • Secrets in the Mist (Skyworld Book 1) by Morgan L. Busse 
  • Cast the First Stone by Susan May Warren

(6) DNA OF CLASSIC TOYS. Fitting in with last week’s report about the 2022 National Toy Hall of Fame finalists, here’s an article about “How Do You Make the Perfect Toy?”, and why some toys last, from The Walrus.

… Speaking from her home in Chicago, Baxter explains that parents, not toy producers, were the ones driving these sales. “There is this nostalgic element of either wanting to share something from their own childhood or give something that they felt they lacked in their childhood, because they think it will be good,” Baxter says. Especially now, in a largely digital world, there is something about these analog toys “that parents see as desirable for their children [and] that we find desirable for ourselves.” In fact, when Fisher-Price tried to modernize its iconic toy phone by removing the rotary dial, there was a consumer revolt, and sales fell. Nostalgia, Baxter concluded, is what keeps certain toys alive…. 

(7) WILD OATES. [Item by rcade.] After hearing a talk by science fiction author Ted Chiang at the Seattle Book Festival, Joyce Carol Oates claimed that he called the fantasy genre “fundamentally young adult”:

The living American author with the most overloaded prize shelf, Oates is spending her eighties aggravating people on Twitter. In July, she tweeted that a literary agent friend told her young white male writers can’t get published any more: “Joyce Carol Oates claims White male writers are being shut out. The data disagrees” at CNN Style.

In a tweet published Sunday morning, the author of more than 50 books shared a New York Times op-ed criticizing the publishing industry as too sympathetic to the political left.

Along with the link, Oates wrote: “A friend who is a literary agent told me that he cannot even get editors to read first novels by young white male writers, no matter how good; they are just not interested. this is heartbreaking for writers who may, in fact, be brilliant, & critical of their own ‘privilege.'”…

Ted Chiang protects his tweets so his reaction (if any) to Oates’ characterization of his talk is not available, but Jason Sanford scoffed at her interpretation:

You don’t need to know what “that tweet about her foot” references. If it was a genre it would be fundamentally horror.

(8) CREEPTASTIC! Hailey Piper recommends stories by Barker, Gaiman, and Machado for crime lovers who want to read supernatural fiction. “10 Shadowy Meetings of Crime and the Occult” at CrimeReads.

…Sometimes the crime layer peels and reveals more horrific muscle underneath. Crime and horror, especially the occult, have a long-entwined history. Sometimes it’s a ruse like Sherlock Holmes faces in The Hound of the Baskervilles, or ambiguous like in True Detective, but stories of investigators and outlaws facing ghosts, witches, and devils dot the pages of genre-mixed stories in Weird Tales, movies, novels, and comic book characters like Batman, John Constantine, and more. It’s a fun mix, too; hard to predict whether the greater threat might come from and carrying the mix of noir elements suggesting an unjust universe….

(9) MORE TRIBUTES FOR MAUREEN KINCAID SPELLER.

Nina Allan mourns “Maureen Kincaid Speller” at The Spider’s House.

…Death is always difficult to come to terms with, but in the case of Maureen it seems doubly so. She had so much more still to give. Her indomitable spirit, her keen intellect, her wicked sense of humour and the all round pleasure in being in her company – these things make her loss all the more painful. I don’t think I will ever get used to the knowledge that she is no longer with us….

Paul Raven appreciated her inclusiveness: “maureen” at Velcro City Tourist Board.

… I found her an easy person to like, which is rarer than you might think. A lot of it probably had to do with the way in which she would just kinda include you in a conversation or event, even if she didn’t know you that well: an assumption not of friendship, exactly, but of the potential for such….

(10) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.  

1999 [By Cat Eldridge.] Before the Tomb Raider films kicked dust up, there was twenty-three years ago the Relic Hunter series, to put it politely, a ripoff of the Indiana Jones films with a much more sexy central character.

Starring Althea Rae Duhinio Janairo known as professionally when modeling, or acting as Tia Carrere, it has instead of a grizzled Professor, a sexy Sydney Fox, also a professor who is also a globe-trotting “relic hunter” who looks for ancient artifacts to return to museums and/or the descendants of the original owner. See rip off. Many of these relics have genre underpinnings to them, being supernatural in nature or being pieces of advanced technology.

Yes, the series was shot in the Toronto area like so many genre series before the Vancouver region became popular for reasons unknown though I assume it had to do with a shorter commute to the LA studios, and includes many familiar local landmarks among its locations. A sharp eye can spot that the European locations are actually still there. No, not blue screen was not done on this series. 

Jay Firestone who was the Executive Producer here is a Major Player on genre series responsible behind the scenes for such works as AndromedaFX: The SeriesLa Femme NikitaQueen of Swords and Mutant X. Some one hundred seventy shows are in his company holdings right now. 

The Relic Hunter series which premiered in 1999 really didn’t last that long as it went off the air after three seasons and sixty-six episodes. It’s streaming on Amazon, Freevee, Tubu, Vudu and YouTube right now. 

It holds among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes a middling fifty-five percent rating. 

Ok, I’ve not seen it, so who has? 

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 20, 1935 Keith Roberts. Author of Pavane, an amazing novel.  I’ve also read his collection of ghost stories, Winterwood and Other Hauntings, with an introduction by Robert Holdstock. Interestingly he has four BSFA Awards including ones for the artwork for the cover of his own first edition of Kaeti & Company. (Died 2000.)
  • Born September 20, 1948 JoAnna Cameron. I’ve previously mentioned in passing Shazam!, a Seventies children’s series done by Filmation. Well she was the lead on Isis, another Filmation children’s series done at the same time. Her only genre appearance was a brief one in the Amazing Spider-Man series. Anyone here seen it? I don’t remember seeing it. (Died 2021.)
  • Born September 20, 1950 James Blaylock, 72. One of my favorite writers. I’d recommend the Ghosts trilogy, the Christian trilogy and The Adventures of Langdon St. Ives which collects all of the Langdon St. Ives adventures together as his best writing, but anything by him is worth reading. I see the usual suspects don’t have much by him but they do have two Langdon St. Ives tales, Homunclus and Beneath London. He’s generously stocked at the usual suspects.
  • Born September 20, 1965 Robert Rusler, 57. Actor whose genre creds include Max in Weird Science, Ron Grady in the genre adjacent A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge, A.J. In the equally genre adjacent Vamp, Richard Lawson in Sometimes Trey Come Back off the Stephen King novel, a recurring role for twenty two episodes of Lt. Warren Keffer on Babylon 5 (see how many characters JMS would be recasting?), Enterprise’s “Anomaly” as Orgoth and I think that’s it. 
  • Born September 20, 1973 Cody Goodfellow, 49. Best known for his Radiant Dawn sequence which consists of Radiant Dawn and Ravenous Dusk which have more than a touch of the Cthulhu Mythos in them. Perfect Union uses bee genes to create a near perfect utopia that actually is a horror in the end. Very prolific with over ten novels to his name so far. 
  • Born September 20, 1974 Owen Sheers, 48. His first novel, Resistance, tells the story of the inhabitants of a valley near Abergavenny in Wales in  the Forties shortly after the failure of Operation Overlord and a successful German takeover of Britain. It’s been made into a film.  He also wrote the “White Ravens”, a contemporary take off the myth of Branwen Daughter of Llyr, found in the New Stories from the Mabinogion series.
  • Born September 20, 1986 Aldis Hodge, 36. He played Alec Hardison on the Leverage series which just got a reboot. Ok, I know it’s not precisely genre but if there’s a spiritual descendant of Mission: Impossible, this series is it. Both the cast and their use of technology in that series are keeping with the MI spirit. He’s also had one-offs on CharmedBuffy the Vampire SlayerSupernaturalThe Walking DeadStar Trek: Discovery’s Short Takes and Bones (which given that it crossed over with Sleepy Hollow…) He will play Carter Hall/Hawkman in the upcoming Black Adam assuming it doesn’t get cancelled.
  • Born September 20, 1989 Malachi Kirby, 33. His most noted was Stripe in the Black Mirror episode “Men Against Fire”, but he’s also been in the Twelfth Doctor story “Hell Bent” as Gaston. He had the recurring role of Spring Heeled Jack Burton in the Thirties-set version of Jekyll and Hyde which revolved around of the grandson of Dr. Henry Jekyll who has inherited his grandfather’s split personality and violent alter-ego.

(12) FORCES THAT FORMED TOLKIEN. Smithsonian Magazine will host John Garth’s talk “The Real World of J.R.R. Tolkien” on Wednesday, September 21 at 2:00 p.m. Eastern. Tickets $25 at the link.

In this insightful lecture, the British scholar John Garth will tell us about the real-life forces that shaped Tolkien’s imaginary world—particularly the upheavals of the interwar period, which shook Tolkien to the core and prompted him to create the story of a doomed Atlantis-like island, now the basis for a new Amazon Prime television series. Garth, author of a feature in the October issue of Smithsonian, will also take your questions about all things Tolkien in a Q&A with Smithsonian senior editor Jennie Rothenberg Gritz.

(13) CLOSING THE BARN DOOR BEFORE THINGS ESCAPE. A Colorado town library has a new solution to book bans: “Colorado Town Has A Plan To Tackle Censorship: Banning Book Bans” at HuffPost.

A group of residents who showed concerns about books in a Colorado library last month have sparked a ban they did not foresee this week: a ban on book bans.

The Wellington town board voted 5-2 to pass a resolution that barred the board from restricting access to materials at the Wellington Public Library on Tuesday, The Coloradoan reported.

The move followed an August town board meeting where residents, led by town board member Jon Gaiter’s wife, Christine Gaiter, referred to books ― what she called “pornographic materials” ― she said weren’t suitable for kids.

Gaiter’s list of 19 books included “The Bluest Eye” by Toni Morrison and “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” by Stephen Chbosky, according to the newspaper.

Gaiter told the board on Tuesday that she wanted restrictions on children accessing the books, not a book ban, but some residents said in August that they did want a ban.

A “majority” of residents “packed” a board room to support the resolution that would ban book bans on Tuesday, according to The Coloradoan….

(14) TOUGH TRIVIA. The Slate quiz from a couple days ago was on an SF theme: “Slate Quiz: The hardest trivia you’ll answer all week”. I got 10 of 12 quiz questions right. Knew 9 of them cold, guessed the rest but only one of my guesses was right. How about you?

(15) VAT GOT YOUR TONGUE? It’s the season for no reason…. There are 14 questionable flavors available at Archie McPhee’s “Candy Canes” headquarters page.

This year’s candy canes are here in three wonderfully terrible flavors. Butter Candy Canes have the taste of unsalted, but heavily sweetened, butter. Brisket is a holiday staple and Brisket Candy Canes are sure to become a tradition in your family. You can taste the meat! Last, and perhaps most disturbing, we have Caesar Salad Candy Canes. It tastes like salad with a hint of anchovy. Christmas is “yummy” again!

And let’s not forget “Sardine Candy Canes”.

(16) BAT-TIME TO WAKE UP. I think I would find this more palatable: Comics on Coffee’s “Dark Knight Roast”.

The ultimate team-up! Comics On Coffee & DC have joined forces to make your mornings more exciting and action packed with great tasting coffee! This Dark Knight Roast is an excellent cup of coffee, that will leave your taste buds begging for one more cup! Absolutely no bitter aftertaste, with a tiny hint of citrus and chocolate.

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Game Trailers: Outer Wilds”, Fandom Games says this game gives you a chance to explore fascinating new worlds, until the 20-minute timer causes the sun to go supernova if you haven’t completed a task. The narrator says this could be “the next game you annoy your friends about” but if you’re a gamer who likes to punch or blast things, this one is not for you.

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

Pixel Scroll 8/1/22 The Scrolls Finally Busted Madame Marie For Filing Pixels Better Than They Did

(1) CHICON 8 SITE SELECTION OPENS 8/6. Site Selection Administrator Warren Buff wrote to members today that voting for the location of both the 2024 Worldcon and the 2023 NASFiC will open August 6.

Also that day there will be a Q&A session with the bidders over Zoom (Saturday, August 6, at 12:00 p.m. Central).  The public is welcome to view the Zoom event, however, the committee asks that they request the link by emailing [email protected].

Electronic/online voting will be a new option, alongside paper voting, this year. Chicon 8 has selected ElectionBuddy for this service. An explanation will be given during the Q&A session on the 6th. Members will also be provided documentation online.

(2) FUTURE TENSE. Here is the July 2022 entry in the Center for Science and the Imagination’s  Future Tense Fiction series, published this past Saturday: “All That Burns Unseen,” by Premee Mohamed, a story about the future of fighting wildfires.

The plane had no pilot. Vaughn, who had wandered into the cockpit to find someone to talk to, found herself more startled than shocked by this—after all, her boss had said about half the flights going up to the fires were self-flown—but there had certainly been a pilot when she’d boarded. He must have disembarked in Cold Lake, where they had stopped so briefly that Vaughn hadn’t even bothered unfastening her seat belt. Either way, the Hercules was now, undeniably, flying itself…. 

It was published along with a response essay by Meg Duff, an expert in environmental politics and climate law. “Firefighting chemicals are dangerous for the environment. Can that change?”

(3) WELLER OUT. Columbia College Chicago professor Sam Weller has been terminated following an investigation of accusations of sexual assault reports The Columbia Chronicle. He is a four-time Bram Stoker Award nominee for his work as a Bradbury biographer.

Tenured professor Sam Weller, who was accused of sexual assault by a former faculty member in February, has been terminated by the college.

In an email statement, President and CEO Kwang-Wu Kim announced that Weller, who was an associate professor in the English and Creative Writing Department, was issued a Notice of Dismissal earlier today as a result of the investigation conducted by the law firm Mayer Brown LLP.

“Based on Mayer Brown’s findings that Professor Weller engaged in conduct that violated the college’s sexual harassment and other policies, Provost Marcella David concluded that the conduct warranted termination,” the statement read.

Cara Dehnert, a former associate professor of instruction in the Business and Entrepreneurship Department, accused Weller of sexually assaulting her in her office in 2018 in an article published to Medium Feb. 12.

Dehnert said she spoke with Human Resources in a February 2020 meeting where she told then-Associate Vice President of Human Relations Norma De Jesus “everything,” and provided texts, emails and Facebook messages between her and Weller, but never heard from Human Resources again following the meeting. 

De Jesus resigned from her position at the college two weeks ago on June 24…. 

(4) A REACH THAT EXCEEDS. “’I can’t do superheroes, but I can do gods’: Neil Gaiman on comics, diversity and casting Death” – the Guardian profiles the Sandman creator. Here’s what he thought when he started out:

…“Bear in mind, at this point I’ve written and sold maybe four short stories and [comic miniseries] Black Orchid. And now I’m going to have to do a monthly comic,” he says. “And I have no idea whether or not I can do it. I don’t think I have the engine to write a superhero comic. I’ve watched what Alan Moore does, what Grant Morrison does. These guys have superhero engines, they can do them; I don’t have that.”

Gaiman needed another way in, and it came via a US science-fiction author. “Roger Zelazny did a book called Lord of Light, where he did science-fictional gods who feel like superheroes,” says Gaiman. “It’s set in a world in the future where a bunch of space explorers have given themselves the powers of the Hindu pantheon. I thought: I can’t do superheroes, but I could do god comics. I bet I could get that kind of feeling to happen, and it might feel enough like a superhero comic to fool people.”…

(5) TESTING THE TURING TEST. Mohanraj and Rosenbaum Are Humans podcast episode 39 is about “Ted Chiang and the Metrics of Personhood”.

Surprise! It’s a bonus season 1 episode we’ve been keeping on the back burner! Ted Chiang comes onto the show to have a discussion with Ben about what it means to be a person, whether Alan Turing’s test for artificial intelligence still holds up, and the persistent themes of parenting and religion in Chiang’s work.

Content warning for a potentially ableist use of a congenital disease as an example of the theological problem of innocent suffering.

(6) TRIAL BEGINS. “Penguin Random House-S&S Acquisition Case Goes to Court” – an update from Publishing Perspectives.

It was on November 25, 2020, when it was announced that Penguin Random House‘s parent company Bertelsmann had struck a deal to buy Simon & Schuster for US$2.175 billion.  And it was nine years and a month ago—July 1, 2013—when another merger was completed, the one that brought Penguin and Random House together.

Oral arguments are scheduled to begin today (August 1) in the antitrust suit filed by the United States Department of Justice, a case with which the government proposes to block the merger of PRH and S&S.

The case, being heard by Judge Florence Pan at Washington’s US District Court for the District of Columbia (the Prettyman Courthouse), brings home the fact that those who object to consolidation among the book business’ biggest players aren’t wrong that things actually are moving quite quickly. These two major inflection points are occurring in under a decade.

That’s one reason that this American antitrust trial has a lot of interest for our international readership, of course. The case in Washington is focused on Penguin Random House as the States’ biggest publisher and Simon & Schuster as one of PRH’s sisters in the US “Big Five”—which could become the “Big Four,” if Bertelsmann and Penguin Random House are successful the bid to buy S&S. These industry-leading companies, however, have profound presence in many markets of world publishing, and so, in fact, does an issue on which the government’s case turns very heavily: author compensation.

Author Stephen King is expected to testify at Tuesday’s session: “Stephen King is star witness as government tries to block publishing giants’ merger” reports the Portland Press Herald.

… The government’s star witness, bestselling author Stephen King, is expected to testify at Tuesday’s session of the weekslong trial in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. King’s works are published by Simon & Schuster.

At Monday’s opening session, opposing attorneys for the two sides presented their cases before U.S. District Judge Florence Pan.

Justice Department attorneys called the merger “presumptively wrong” because it would shrink competition and, inevitably, the vital public discourse that books help engender. Penguin Random House countered that the new company would “enhance” competition because the combined company could turn out books more efficiently….

(7) LABORING IN THE VINEYARD. Sharon Lee’s post “In which the authors are working” includes some Trader’s Leap spoilers, should you be in the market for some.

Much like being a Liaden Scout, being a writer is 98% mucking around in the mud, and 2% excitement.

And, after a brief period of excitement, we’re back to Business as Usual, which is exciting enough for those doing the work, but makes for poor telling….

(8) SOMEBODY OWES HIM MONEY. Cory Doctorow explains why he won’t let his books appear on Audible in “Pluralistic: 25 Jul 2022”. The long saga includes this bit of comic relief:

…We’re going to be rolling out a crowdfunding campaign for the Chokepoint Capitalism audiobook in a couple of weeks (the book comes out in mid-September). …And it won’t be available on Audible. Who owe me $3,218.55.

But you know what will be available on Audible?

This. This essay, which I am about to record as an audiobook, to be mastered by my brilliant sound engineer John Taylor Williams, and will thereafter upload to ACX as a self-published, free audiobook.

Perhaps you aren’t reading these words off your screen. Perhaps you are an Audible customer who searched for my books and only found this odd, short audiobook entitled: “Why none of my books are available on Audible: And why Amazon owes me $3,218.55.”

I send you greetings, fellow audiobook listener!

…In the meantime, there is now a Kindle edition of this text:

I had to put this up, it’s a prerequisite for posting the audio to ACX. I hadn’t planned on posting it, but since they made me, I did.

Bizarrely, this is currently the number one new Amazon book on Antitrust Law!

(9) MEMORY LANE.  

1977 [By Cat Eldridge.] Now I’m feeling old as I clearly remember watching this episode, the next-to-last one of the series. Holmes & Yoyo’s “The Cat Burglar“ aired forty-five years ago on this date on ABC. Someone is stealing well loved felines for ransom from wealthy ladies, and Holmes and Yoyo set out to catch the cat stealer. 

Look no one is ever going to accuse Holmes & Yoyo, which lasted a mere thirteen episodes, of being deep or meaningful because it wasn’t. Was it good SF? Not really? Was it a decent detective series? Oh no, but despite that, it was fun to watch. 

And this story was proof of that in, errrr, the number of cats under foot. It’s lightweight and no one but one gets hurt, it’s got John Schuck at his very, very comic best and it’s got cats in it. None of which get hurt. 

I don’t think that series could’ve gone any further than it did as there just wasn’t anything there to build off, was there? To say to the premise was thin would be an understatement. 

I hold that John Schuck is best in his comic roles and that includes his role as Draal on Babylon 5 which had a measure of comedy the way he presented himself. Herman Munster on The Munsters Today may have been his best role ever, and the Lt. Charles Enright character on the McMillan & Wife series (which yes, I watched and liked a lot) had more than a bit of comic relief in it. And I adore his take on M.A.S.H. as Capt. ‘Painless’ Waldowski. I’ve watched that film at least a half dozen times now. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 1, 1862 M.R. James. Writer of some of the best ghost stories ever done. A Pleasing Terror: The Complete Supernatural Writings, released in 2001 from Ash-Tree Press has forty stories which includes the thirty stories from Collected Ghost Stories plus the 3 tales published after that, and the seven from The Fenstanton Witch and Others. It’s apparently the most complete collection of his stories to date. Or so I though until I checked online. The Complete Ghost Stories of M.R. James, over seven hundred pages, is available from the usual suspects for a mere buck ninety-nine! (Died 1939.)
  • Born August 1, 1910 Raymond A. Palmer. Editor of Amazing Stories from 1938 through 1949. He’s credited, along with Walter Dennis, with editing the first fanzine, The Comet, in May 1930. The secret identity of DC character the Atom as created by genre writer Gardner Fox is named after Palmer. Very little of his fiction is available from the usual suspects. Member, First Fandom Hall of Fame. He was nominated five times for a Retro Hugo for Best Editor, Short Form, and once as Best Professional Editor, Short Form. (Died 1977.)
  • Born August 1, 1914 Edd Cartier. Illustrator who received the World Fantasy Award for lifetime achievement, the first artist to receive that honor. His artwork was first published in Street and Smith publications, including The Shadow, to which he provided many interior illustrations, and Astounding Science Fiction, Doc Savage Magazine and Unknown as well. (Died 2008.)
  • Born August 1, 1930 Geoffrey Holder. You’ll likely best remember him for his performance as Baron Samedi in Live and Let Die but he’s also the narrator in Tim Burton’s rather awful Charlie and The Chocolate Factory. He was also Willie Shakespeare in Doctor Doolittle but it’s been so long since I saw the film that I can’t picture his character. And he was The Cheshire Cat in the Alice in Wonderland that had Richard Burton as The White Knight. Weird film that. (Died 2014.)
  • Born August 1, 1932 Paddy Chayefsky. In our circles known as the writer of the Altered States novel that he also wrote the screenplay for. He is the only person to have won three solo Academy Awards for Best Screenplay. The other winners of three Awards shared theirs. He did not win for Altered States though he did win for Network which I adore. (Died 1981.)
  • Born August 1, 1941 Craig Littler, 70. His main genre role was as space adventurer Jason in Jason of Star Command which of course James Doohan was in as well. If you look closely, you’ll spot him briefly in Blazing Saddles as Tex and Rosemary’s Baby as Jimmy as well. And he has one-offs in The Next BeyondAirWolf and Team Knight Rider. Team Knight Rider? Really, they didn’t know when to stop?
  • Born August 1, 1942 Jerry Garcia. Lead vocalist of the Grateful Dead. The Dead did some songs that were SF as SFE notes. The song “The Music Never Stopped” (on Blues for Allah, 1975) borrows its title from a sentence in Alfred Bester’s The Stars My Destination (1956) and was possibly inspired by that novel.  And SFE notes that the band was hired to compose and perform some appropriately outré music for the first revival of the Twilight Zone television series.  There’s lots more connections to SF but I’ll stop by saying that Garcia played the banjo heard in the first remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. (Died 1995.)
  • Born August 1, 1948 David Gemmell. Best remembered for his first novel, Legend, the first book in his long-running Drenai series. He would go on to write some thirty novels. The David Gemmell Awards for Fantasy were presented from 2009 to 2018, with a stated goal to “restore fantasy to its proper place in the literary pantheon”. (Died 2006.)
  • Born August 1, 1955 Annabel Jankel, 67. Director who was first a music video director and then the co-creator and director of Max Headroom. She conceptualized Max. She and her partner Rocky Morton first created and directed The Max Talking Headroom Show, a mix of interviews and music vids which aired on Channel 4 (where it was sponsored by Coca-Cola) and HBO. Jankel and Morton would go on to direct Super Mario Bros. And they’re both responsible for the Max Headroom movie and series. I haven’t heard if she has a role in the forthcoming rebooted Max Headroom series.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) DEJA VIEW. That NPR is a radio network doesn’t keep them from reaching for this optical analogy: “Seeing double: Near-identical films that came out at the same time”. Surely you’ve noticed yourself that this happens. And many of the movies are genre.

They are showdowns that didn’t need to happen — rival studios staring each other down, refusing to blink.

In 1998, Earth-snuffing asteroids got blown up in the nick of time by nuclear warheads, not once but twice, in Armageddon and Deep Impact. That same year, animated insects skittered onto movie screens in Antz and A Bug’s Life — and just a year earlier, dueling lava flows erupted in Dante’s Peak and Volcano.

And in 2013, Jesse Eisenberg starred in The Double, and Jake Gyllenhaal in Enemy, each as a man tormented by his doppelganger (and wouldn’t you know that Enemy was based on a novel called…wait for it… The Double.)…

(13) ACT NOTABLE AWARDS. [Item by Dann.] A.C.T. (Australia Capitol Territory) Writers presented their awards for 2020 and 2021 over the weekend.  Covid caused them to not have an awards ceremony for 2020.

T.R. Napper’s collection of science fiction stories called Neon Leviathan won in for fiction in 2020 under the Small Press category. The collection was published by GrimDark Magazine.

(14) MORE MUNROE DOCTRINES. Randall Munroe has a new book coming out in September. “Randall Munroe – Sixth & I. At the link you have the option to buy in-person or virtual tickets to see Munroe in conversation with Derek Thompson on September 14 at 7:00 p.m. Eastern.

Planning to ride a fire pole from the moon back to Earth? The hardest part is sticking the landing. Hoping to cool the atmosphere by opening everyone’s freezer door at the same time? Maybe it’s time for a brief introduction to thermodynamics. For the answers to the rest of the weirdest questions you never thought to ask, “xkcd” creator and former NASA roboticist Randall Munroe is back with What If? 2: Additional Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions.

(15) IN THE BEGINNING. Bill jumped in his TARDIS and returned with a clipping of this early advertisement for Nichelle Nichols when she was a nightclub singer. From the Honolulu Advertiser, Aug 4, 1960.

(16) SUPER CLEAN. WLKY captures the scene as “’Superhero’ window washers scale Norton Children’s Hospital again”.

It’s a bird. It’s a plane. No, it’s superheroes outside of patient windows at Norton Children’s Hospital again!

That’s exactly what kids and their families at Norton Children’s Hospital in downtown Louisville got on Monday morning as window washers traded in their cleaning uniforms for capes and masks.

The goal is to give sick children a surprise several stories high as a crew from Pro Clean International dress as superheroes to wash the exterior windows of the hospital.

CEO of Pro-Clean International, and ‘Iron Man’, Joe Haist says, he got the idea from personal experience. “I have a special needs child that was born blind with special needs” said Haist, “I know that sometimes you go to the hospital, you’re there for a long time and there’s not a lot to see or do and there’s not a lot of happiness. So it’s really a great moment to really kind of bring people with some happiness.”

They have done this at least the past few years.

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] This video from Alasdair Beckett-King dropped today. “Every Internet Video From 2003 (not literally)”.

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