Pixel Scroll 1/3/23 Pixel Scroll: I Was Deleted You Won The War; Pixel Scroll: Promise To Read You For Ever More

(1) HONORING OCTAVIA. “Pasadena’s Getting A Bookstore Named For Sci-Fi Author Octavia Butler”LAist has the good news.

Pasadena is set to get another independent bookstore: Octavia’s Bookshelf. Owner Nikki High said she hopes to highlight authors who are Black, Indigenous, and other people of color.

High chose the name as a tribute to Pasadena native, science-fiction author and MacArthur fellow Octavia Butler who died in 2006….

 “She was the first Black sci-fi writer that I read, and it was the first time that I saw Black people in the future,” High said.

… Octavia’s Bookshelf is scheduled to open by mid-to-late February. The bookstore will be located north of the 210 Freeway at 1361 North Hill Avenue.

(2) HUNGARY’S BEST SF. [Item by Bence Pintér.] I was happy to find this English review about the best Hungarian SF novel of 2021: “A Sci-fi Built on Linguistics” at Hungarian Literature Online.

Katalin Baráth took risks on several levels with her new novel Aphasia. First, she didn’t continue the story of Veron Dávid, the saleswoman from Ókanizsa (The Black Piano, The Turquoise Violin, The Ember Harp, The Golden Cimbalom), with which she had built up her considerable fan base, though she had already broken up that series with the thriller Archangel in the Night. Second, she didn’t go with traditional hard science fiction, say nuclear physics, but with a soft sci-fi to which she can more easily relate, a sci-fi built on linguistics, like China Miéville’s Embassytown. And third, she centered the Hungarian language itself; Baráth didn’t use a made-up or artificial language, but elevated the Hungarian language to a cult status in her fictional universe….

(3) REMAINS OF THE DAY. Alec Nevala-Lee has a new piece in the New York Times Book Review on the author R.C. Sherriff, his Thirties SF novel The Hopkins Manuscript, and its influence on what Brian Aldiss called “the cozy catastrophe.” “In the ‘Cozy Catastrophe’ Novel, the End of the World Is Not So Bad”.

… “The Hopkins Manuscript” opens with a foreword by the Imperial Research Press of Addis Ababa, which states that the text that follows was discovered in a thermos flask “in the ruins of Notting Hill.” More than 800 years have passed since an unspecified cataclysm caused the end of Western civilization, and all records of Britain since the time of Julius Caesar have been lost, apart from a few stray fragments, such as a tablet commemorating the dedication of a public swimming pool in North London. Scholars of ancient history, the foreword notes, hoped that the manuscript would shed light on England’s final days, but they were disappointed to find nothing but the testament of “a man of such unquenchable self-esteem and limited vision that his narrative becomes almost valueless to the scientist and historian.”

As the story begins, the reader has little reason to question this statement. Edgar Hopkins is a retired schoolmaster in his early 50s who lives on an estate near the village of Beadle, where he breeds chickens for poultry shows. As an associate member of the British Lunar Society, he is among the first to hear the news that the moon is expected to collide with the earth in just under seven months. The science of the looming disaster is left deliberately vague — the moon’s departure from its habitual orbit is attributed to “some gigantic force” — and Hopkins is unable to believe that anything bad will really occur: “My vanity persuaded me that God would never permit the world to end until I personally had finished with it.”…

(4) TRAVELERS FROM CHINA AND COVID TESTING. “China vows ‘countermeasures’ to ‘unacceptable’ new COVID restrictions on Chinese travelers” reports CBS News. They have not said what those “countermeasures” will be.

The Chinese government has blasted COVID-19 testing requirements imposed on passengers from China and threatened countermeasures against countries involved, which include the U.S. and several European nations.

… The comments were China’s sharpest to date on the issue. Australia and Canada this week joined a growing list of countries requiring travelers from China to take a COVID-19 test prior to boarding their flight, as China battles a nationwide outbreak of the coronavirus after abruptly easing restrictions that were in place for much of the pandemic.

Other countries including the U.S., U.K., India, Japan and several European nations have announced tougher COVID-19 measures on travelers from China amid concerns over a lack of data on infections in China and fears of the possibility that new variants may emerge…. 

(5) MEDICAL UPDATE. The Daily Beast adds details as “Jeremy Renner Shares Photo From Hospital Bed After Snowplow Accident”. Renner’s Instagram photo is here.

In his first post to social media since he was run over by his snowplow on New Year’s Day, Marvel actor Jeremy Renner thanked fans and friends for their support in the wake of what authorities called “a tragic accident.” On Instagram, the 51-year-old posted a photo of himself in a hospital bed sporting visible facial injuries, including scrapes and a swollen eye. “Thank you all for your kind words,” he wrote in the accompanying caption. “Im too messed up now to type. But I send love to you all.” A representative for the Hawkeye star confirmed on Tuesday afternoon that Renner was “making positive progress and is awake, talking and in good spirits,” reiterating that he remained in the intensive care unit in critical but stable condition. “He is overwhelmed by the showing of love and support,” the spokesperson continued. “The family asks for your continued thoughts while he heals with his close loved ones.” The Washoe County Sheriff provided more details on the incident on Tuesday, saying that Renner had just rescued a stranded family member when his 14,330-pound snowcat began to roll as he tried to climb back inside the driver’s cab. Sheriff Darin Balaam emphasized that Renner was not “impaired” at the time of the incident.

(6) WELCOMED TO PUBLIC DOMAIN IN 2023. “Sherlock Holmes joins a first Oscar winner and the ‘ice cream’ song in the public domain”CNN gives a rundown on what’s been released from copyright this year. Several of the notable works entering the public domain in the US this year are genre or genre adjacent, most notably the movie Metropolis

A Sherlock Holmes collection, the first film to win the Oscars’ top prize and a classic ditty by Irving Berlin are among the thousands of books, films and musical compositions entering the US public domain in 2023.

When a piece of art enters the public domain, it means no one holds the copyright to it. Anyone can broadcast, consume or reimagine these works without having to pay royalties. Books, films and artworks in the public domain are also often more easily distributed and sometimes free to consume.

Among the most famous of this year’s crop are “The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes,” which decisively ends a decades-long saga of Arthur Conan Doyle’s estate attempting to curb use of the character by other authors, the wartime romance “Wings” and Berlin’s “Puttin’ On the Ritz.”…

(7) HEAR FROM AUTHOR NEVAIR. Space Cowboy Books will host an online reading and interview with Jonathan Nevair, author of Stellar Instinct, on Tuesday, January 24 at 6:00 p.m. Pacific. Register for free here. Get your copy of Stellar Instinct here

A secret agent. A gaming mastermind. Two players in a dangerous competition blurring the boundaries of entertainment and reality. Mysterious signals pulse from an icy planet in a remote star system. GAM-OPs wants answers. Enter Lilline Renault, secret agent extraordinaire. To ordinary citizens she’s Keely Larkin, an adventure company guide with a flair for the daring and a penchant for writing trite poetry. Lilline’s at the top of the spy game, but publishing her literary work is proving harder than saving the galaxy. When the mission uncovers a dastardly plan threatening billions of lives, Lilline leaps into action. Verses flow as she rockets through space, dons cunning disguises, and infiltrates enemy territory with an arsenal of secret gadgets. But to prevent the whims of a self-obsessed entrepreneur from turning the galaxy into a deadly playground means beating him at his own game. Lilline will need her best weapon to stand a fighting chance: her instinct. STELLAR INSTINCT: A spy-fi thriller set in space.

(8) WALTER CUNNINGHAM (1932-2023). The last surviving Apollo 7 astronaut, Walter Cunningham, died January 3.

…The Apollo 7 mission launched in 1968 and lasted roughly 11 days, sending the crew on a journey into orbit that amounted to a test flight that could demonstrate the Apollo capsule’s ability to rendezvous with another spacecraft in orbit and pave the way for future exploration deeper into space. It was also notable for featuring in the first live TV broadcast of Americans from space, according to NASA.

Cunningham was the last surviving member of the Apollo 7 crew, which also included astronauts Wally Schirra and Donn Eisele….

(9) MEMORY LANE.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

“Now we are all here!” said Gandalf, looking at the row of thirteen hoods—the best detachable party hoods—and his own hat hanging on the pegs. “Quite a merry gathering! I hope there is something left for the late-comers to eat and drink! What’s that? Tea! No thank you! A little red wine, I think for me.”
“And for me,” said Thorin.
“And raspberry jam and apple-tart,” said Bifur.
“And mince-pies and cheese,” said Bofur.
“And pork-pie and salad,” said Bombur.
“And more cakes—and ale—and coffee, if you don’t mind,” called the other dwarves through the door.
“Put on a few eggs, there’s a good fellow!” Gandalf called after him, as the hobbit stumped off to the pantries. “And just bring out the cold chicken and pickles!”
“Seems to know as much about the inside of my larders as I do myself!”

— J.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit

Our author tells us that Hobbits are fond of six meals a day, including two dinners, if they can get it, while in the Prologue to The Lord of the Rings, he notes, they “eat, and drink, often and heartily, and growing food and eating it occupied most of their time.”

These meals are Breakfast at 7 a.m., Second Breakfast  at 9 a.m., Elevenses at 11 a.m., Luncheon at 1 p.m., Afternoon Tea at 3 p.m., Dinner at 6 p.m., and finally Supper at 9 p.m.

Jackson’s The Fellowship of The Ring film for no reason what-so-ever mentions that second breakfast exists, saying that hobbits eat seven meals throughout each day. Why they did this is unknown. Another example of Jackson messing with Tolkien’s writings for no damn good reason. 

Fans of the books have recreated these meals included the elevenses. One site had this for its menu — Elven lembas bread, Bread pudding with cinnamon, Lavender and lemon muffins,  Strawberry shortcake with cream, caraway seed cake and lemon tea cake. And lots of tea with heavy cream of course. 

As Thorin said, “If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world. But, sad or merry, I must leave it now. Farewell.”  

Hildebrandt 1977 Tolkien calendar, “An Unexpected Party.”

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 3, 1892 J.R.R. Tolkien. So what was the first work by him you read? For me, it was The Hobbit which I fell in love with and still find terribly engaging in a way that I don’t, and no throwing rocks please, find The Lord of The Rings. I think it’s that it’s far me easier to lose myself in the work and enjoy what happens than struggle through the story of the latter. I’m also fond of The Road Goes Ever On, a song cycle taken from The Lord of The RingsThe Father Christmas Letters which a local Theater group enacted one year, and The Monsters and the Critics, and Other Essays. (Died 1973.)
  • Born January 3, 1937 Glen A. Larson. Triple hitter as a producer, writer and director. Involved in Battlestar GalacticaGalactica 1980The Six Million Dollar Man, Manimal (no, really don’t ask), Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, and Knight Rider. He also was responsible for Magnum, P.I. which I love but I’ll be damned if I can figure anyway to claim that’s even genre adjacent thought I think one of you will figure a way. He also did a lot of Battlestar Galactica novels, some with Ron Goulart. (Died 2014.)
  • Born January 3, 1940 Kinuko Y. Craft,  83. She is a Japanese-born American painter, illustrator and fantasy artist. True enough. So why is she here? Because she had an amazing run of illustrating the covers of the Patricia McKillip novels until quite recently. I’m linking here to our review at Green Man of The Bards of Bone Plain for a favorite cover of mine she did. There’s a slim volume on Imaginosis called Drawings & Paintings which collects some of her work which Green Man reviews here. She was a guest of honor of the 2016 Worldcon.
  • Born January 3, 1975 Danica McKellar, 48. From 2010–2013 and since 2018, she’s voiced Miss Martian in the Young Justice series. It’s just completed its fourth season and it’s most excellent! She’s done far, far more voice work than I can list here, so if you’ve got something you like that she’s done, do mention it.
  • Born January 3, 1976 Charles Yu, 47. Taiwanese American writer. Author of the most excellent How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe and the short-story collections, Sorry Please Thank You and Third Class Superhero. His novel was ranked the year’s second-best science fiction novel by the Center for the Study of Science Fiction at the University of Kansas — runner up for the Campbell Memorial Award.
  • Born January 3, 1984 Brooke Williams, 39. For recurring roles, she’s been Catania in The Shannara Chronicles and Hannah in 12 Monkeys. She had a recurring also as Jennsen Rahl on Legend of the Seeker which is off novels by Terry Goodkind. She also played Hermia in A Midsummer Night’s Dream at  the Globe Theatre In London. Remember we agreed this was fantasy. Indeed she’s been in Sleeping Beauty and Jack and the Beanstalk, both in New Zealand productions! 

(11) B&N REBOUNDS. “What Can We Learn from Barnes & Noble’s Surprising Turnaround?” – Ted Gioia says quality decisions at the top by CEO James Daunt were the starting point.

…This is James Daunt’s super power: He loves books.

“Staff are now in control of their own shops,” he explained. “Hopefully they’re enjoying their work more. They’re creating something very different in each store.”

This crazy strategy proved so successful at Waterstones, that returns fell almost to zero—97% of the books placed on the shelves were purchased by customers. That’s an amazing figure in the book business.

On the basis of this success, Daunt was put in charge of Barnes & Noble in August 2019. But could he really bring that dinosaur, on the brink of extinction, back to life?

The timing was awful. The COVID pandemic hurt all retailing, especially for discretionary items like books. Even worse, the Barnes & Noble stores were, in Daunt’s own words, “crucifyingly boring.”

But Daunt used the pandemic as an opportunity to “weed out the rubbish” in the stores. He asked employees in the outlets to take every book off the shelf, and re-evaluate whether it should stay. Every section of the store needed to be refreshed and made appealing.

As this example makes clear, Daunt started giving more power to the stores. But publishers complained bitterly. They now had to make more sales calls, and convince local bookbuyers—and that’s hard work. Even worse, when a new book doesn’t live up to expectations, the local workers see this immediately. Books are expected to appeal to readers—and just convincing a head buyer at headquarters was no longer enough.

Daunt also refused to dumb-down the store offerings. The key challenge, he claimed was to “create an environment that’s intellectually satisfying—and not in a snobbish way, but in the sense of feeding your mind.”

That’s an extraordinary thing to hear from a corporate CEO. Daunt wanted to run a bookstore that was “intellectually satisfying” and “feeds your mind.” The first time I heard an interview with him, I decided I trusted James Daunt. I wanted him to succeed. But the odds seemed stacked against him.

Then it started to happen—book sales at Barnes & Noble began rising again….

(12) ICE, NEIN. “A ‘Titanic’ Parody Show That Draws Fans Near, Far, Wherever They Are” – the New York Times tries to figure out why it’s a hit.

… And then: The woman they were waiting for arrived.

“It is me, Celine Dion,” said Marla Mindelle, one of the writers and stars of the “Titanic” musical parody show “Titanique,” casting aside a black garbage bag cloak to reveal a shimmering gold gown — a nod to the witch’s entrance from “Into the Woods” — and sashaying her way to the stage to a tidal wave of applause….

…Part of the appeal, said Ty Hanes, 29, a musical theater actor who has gone 13 times, is that no two performances are the same. He looks forward to seeing what Mindelle will do in the five-minute scene between Rose and Jack that she improvises every night (some of his favorites: a bit about a toenail falling off and a riff on Spam, the tinned pork product).

“You can tell they just have a blast changing stuff up a bit every night,” he said.

“Sometimes it really works, and sometimes it doesn’t,” Mindelle said.

“No, it does,” Rousouli said. “It always lands.”

Unlike a Broadway musical like “Wicked,” in which the script does not change after the show opens, Rousouli said, they tweak the show weekly — sometimes daily — to stay current on pop culture moments and TikTok trends. On a recent night, a joke featuring a Patti LuPone cardboard cutout drew loud laughs (“You can’t even be here, this is a union gig!”), and a line originally uttered by Jennifer Coolidge’s character in the Season 2 finale of the HBO satire “The White Lotus” (“These gays, they’re trying to murder me.”), now spoken by Russell Daniels performing in drag as Rose’s mother, received a mid-show standing ovation.

“People feel like they’re part of something special every night,” Rousouli said….

(13) OATH TAKING. Democratic congressman-elect from California Robert Garcia shared three symbolic items that will be part of his swearing-in ceremony.

(14) SAND IN THE GEARS. Sandman was renewed on November 2, however, it took awhile to happen: “Inside ‘The Sandman’s’ Lengthy Renewal Journey — and Why Netflix Still Won’t Call It Season 2” explains Variety.

It took Neil Gaiman 30 years to get a proper adaptation of “The Sandman” made, and what felt like 30 more years (to fans who adored the final product, at least) for Netflix to renew the fantasy epic following its August premiere.

In reality, it was just three months, but those were a long three months for viewers who watched “The Sandman” hold steady on Netflix’s Top 10 English-language titles list week after week (and receive a bump when its top-secret 11th episode dropped two weeks after the first batch launched).

“We wanted to spend the time to get creatively aligned around what would be the next, best experience with ‘The Sandman,’” Netflix’s head of UCAN scripted TV Peter Friedlander told Variety. “And because of that, we wanted to spend the time with [showrunner Allan Heinberg] and Neil and really talk through and be thoughtful about what the approach should be — because Season 1 is also very thoughtful and intentional. So that was really what took the extra time, is to get our ducks in a row.”…

 [Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Daniel Dern, Scott Edelman, Bence Pintér, Alec Nevala-Lee, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]

Pixel Scroll 1/2/23 It’s A Wonderful File

(1) BRANDON SANDERSON V AUDIBLE. Brandon Sanderson’s “State of the Sanderson 2022” published on December 22 featured revelations about his efforts to use his market leverage to curb the greed of Audible, Amazon’s dominant audiobook seller.

The four “secret project” novels that will be going to backers of his record-breaking Kickstarter will also be produced as audiobooks and put up for sale, but not on Audible. Here’s an excerpt, and there’s a great deal more information at the link.

AUDIOBOOKS for NON-BACKERS

On the tenth or eleventh of each month a book goes to backers, we will put the audiobooks up for sale. They will be on several services, but I recommend the two I mentioned above. Spotify and Speechify. 

The books will not be on Audible for the foreseeable future. 

This is a dangerous move on my part. I don’t want to make an enemy of Amazon (who owns Audible). I like the people at Audible, and had several meetings with them this year.

But Audible has grown to a place where it’s very bad for authors. It’s a good company doing bad things. 

Again, this is dangerous to say, and I don’t want to make anyone feel guilty. I have an Audible account, and a subscription! It’s how my dyslexic son reads most of the books he reads. Audible did some great things for books, notably spearheading the audio revolution, which brought audiobooks down to a reasonable price. I like that part a lot.

However, they treat authors very poorly. Particularly indie authors. The deal Audible demands of them is unconscionable, and I’m hoping that providing market forces (and talking about the issue with a megaphone) will encourage change in a positive direction.

If you want details, the current industry standard for a digital product is to pay the creator 70% on a sale. It’s what Steam pays your average creator for a game sale, it’s what Amazon pays on ebooks, it’s what Apple pays for apps downloaded. (And they’re getting heat for taking as much as they are. Rightly so.)

Audible pays 40%. Almost half. For a frame of reference, most brick-and-mortar stores take around 50% on a retail product. Audible pays indie authors less than a bookstore does, when a bookstore has storefronts, sales staff, and warehousing to deal with. 

I knew things were bad, which is why I wanted to explore other options with the Kickstarter.  But I didn’t know HOW bad.  Indeed, if indie authors don’t agree to be exclusive to Audible, they get dropped from 40% to a measly 25%. Buying an audiobook through Audible instead of from another site literally costs the author money…. 

Daniel Green analyzes “The Audible Situation” in this video —

(2) KING’S NEW YEAR’S HONOURS LIST 2023. The King’s New Years Honours list included a knighthood for Queen guitarist Brian May.

Dr Brian Harold May CBE. Musician, Astrophysicist and Animal Welfare Advocate. For services to Music and to Charity. (Windlesham, Surrey)

May also worked as a member of the New Horizons team, for which he wrote a song that debuted during the the New Horizons flyby of Ultima Thule on January 1, 2019.

(3) MEDICAL UPDATE. Actor Jeremy Renner (Marvel’s Hawkeye) was in critical condition after a snow plow accident Variety reported on January 1.

…“We can confirm Jeremy is in critical but stable condition with injuries suffered after experiencing a weather related accident while plowing snow earlier today,” Renner’s rep confirmed with Variety. “His family is with him and he is receiving excellent care.”…

His reps later told Deadline:

“We can confirm that Jeremy has suffered blunt chest trauma and orthopedic injuries and has undergone surgery today, January 2nd 2023. He has returned from surgery and remains in the intensive care unit in critical but stable condition.”

(4) ROLLING OVER THE RESOLUTION. Owner of Colorado’s Mile High Comics, Chuck Rozanski, advises people to protect their collections, while confessing he still has more work to do on his own.

…Clearly, I am trying to protect our home through these defensive environmental actions, but I want to make note of the fact that I am also trying to protect my many personal collections, including my comic books. Inspiring me is the tragedy of one of our dearest family friends, who lost everything that she owned, including her 50-year comics collection and her vast science fiction books library, to that horrible Marshall inferno. My efforts may in the end prove futile, but at least some houses in otherwise incinerated cul-de-sacs in Louisville survived, so advance planning does at least seem to improve one’s odds. Just saying…

So, what have you done lately to protect your own collection? If you’re like me, probably not enough. I have (for example) vowed for the past nine years to elevate all of my storage cabinets in my personal comics vault to at least an inch above ground level, so that if another 20-inch deluge of rain materializes (as it did upon us in 2013) that the bottom of my storage bins (and everything sitting in the floor) will not get soaked (again). Have I accomplished that incredibly arduous task? Nope. I keep putting it off, while I have instead been traveling endlessly all around the country to buy even more comics. Sigh. I really do mean to be more diligent, but finding the time is truly hard. Maybe, just maybe, I’ll get to it this winter….

(5) LIGHTS ON. Cora Buhlert renews two series of “spotlight” profiles she’s doing to make people more aware of works eligible for Best Fancast and Best Related Work.

The new “Fancast Spotlight” is for a channel called “Dennis Frey Books”.

Tell us about your podcast or channel.

I do a lot of content on creative writing on Twitch – lessons, reading excerpts from the community and my own books, longer workshops, throwbacks to the first works of different artists… aaaand it’s all in German. Sorry.

If that’s fine with you, there is about 100 hours of writing content from the streams on my YouTube Channel.

Buhlert also did a new “Non-Fiction Spotlight” for “Slaying the Dragon – A Secret History of Dungeons and Dragons by Ben Riggs”.

Tell us about your book.

My book is the shocking and true story of the rise of Dungeons & Dragons and how it almost imploded in the 90s under the weight of terrible management decisions. If you’re interested in an representative sample, Dicebreaker excerpted the disastrous attempt of TSR to create a comic book company in the 90s.  https://www.dicebreaker.com/series/dungeons-and-dragons/feature/dnd-comic-books-failed-attempt-tsr-dc-comics

(6) ADDAMS UNKNOWN. David Gerrold reviews Wednesday, which he finds to be such a departure from the established characterizations that he calls it “the Addams Family in name only”.

…And that finally brings me to Tim Burton’s series on Netflix — Wednesday.

It reinvents not only the Addams Family, it reinvents the world they live in.

In the sitcom, in the movies, in the two animated films, the Addams Family exists in a world that is (mostly) normal, even mundane.

In the Tim Burton series, there are monsters, sirens, medusas, werewolves, shapeshifters, and more. Wednesday has an estranged relationship with her parents. Gomez and Morticia are both flawed, they can’t keep their hands off each other, and only Wednesday has the ability to solve their situations.

Also, this Wednesday has visions that clue her in to a horrific past at Nevermore University and the town of Jericho.

So this isn’t the Addams family that we are familiar with, it’s a reinvention. And it’s not the most endearing one….

(7) TODAY’S DAY.

January 2 is National Science Fiction Day. Sure, every day is science fiction day for some of us, but this date was picked for national observance because it’s Asimov’s birthdate.

John King Tarpinian thinks maybe this would be better called ABC Day…after Asimov, Bradbury, & Clarke.

(8) MEMORY LANE.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

The Queen let another drop fall from her bottle on to the snow, and instantly there appeared a round box, tied with green silk ribbon, which, when opened, turned out to contain several pounds of the best Turkish Delight. Each piece was sweet and light to the very centre and Edmund had never tasted anything more delicious. — C. S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

Turkish delight is a popular dessert sweet in Greece, the Balkans, and, especially Turkey. But most Americans, if they have any association with the treat at all, know it only as the food for which Edmund Pevensie sells out his family.

I don’t know about you but I had no idea what Turkish delight was until I was at University as it wasn’t something that was carried in the stores where I grew up. A friend had a box and offered it up. It was, errr, sweet and chewy. I liked and I’ve since gifted quite a few times.

Turkish Delight, the name we know it by in the West is not inaccurate. The Turkish people make and consume an immense quantity of lokum in a wide range of varieties as it called in Turkey and it’s a popular gift, a sign of hospitality. The candy was invented in the early 19th century, apparently by confectioner Bekir Effendi, though that’s disputed by other Turks who say they invented it.

Most Westerners  encounter it first in reading this novel (or possibly the Eighties television series, or the film). As you know, Edmund is tempted by Turkish Delight into an alliance with the White Witch, who has brought eternal winter to Narnia. When Edmund first encounters the witch, she asks him, “What would you like best to eat?” He doesn’t even hesitate. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 2, 1920 Isaac Asimov. I can hardly summarize everything he’s done here, so I’ll just pick my very short list of favorite works by him which would include the Galactic Empire series, the Foundation Trilogy which a Hugo at a Tricon, The Gods Themselves which won a Hugo at TorCon II and his I, Robot collection.  And no, I’ve not watched the Foundation series although I have the Apple + streaming service. Should I watch it? (Died 1992.)
  • Born January 2, 1940 Susan Wittig Albert, 82. She’s the author of The Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter, a series of mysteries featuring that writer. Really. Truly. Haven’t read them but they bear such delightful titles as The Tale of Cuckoo Brow Wood. She has non-genre series involving an herbalist and a gardening club as well. 
  • Born January 2, 1948 Deborah Watling. Best known for her role as Victoria Waterfield, a companion of the Second Doctor. She was also in Downtime, playing the same character, a one-off sequel to a sequel to the Second Doctor stories, The Abominable Snowmen and The Web of Fear. No Doctors were to be seen. If you’ve seen the English language dubbed version of Viaje al centro de la Tierra (Where Time Began, based off Verne’s Journey to the Center of The Earth), she’s doing the lines of Ivonne Sentis as Glauben. (Died 2017.)
  • Born January 2, 1959 Patrick Nielsen Hayden, 64. In a fit of exuberance Wiki lists him as a “editor, fan, fanzine publisher, essayist, reviewer, anthologist, teacher and blogger.” Which is true. He’s won three Hugo Awards for Best Editor Long Form (2007, 2010, 2013), won a World Fantasy Award for editing the Starlight 1 anthology (1997). 
  • Born January 2, 1967 Tia Carrere, 56. Best remembered for her three-season run as Sydney Fox, rogue archeologist on Relic Hunter. She’s been in a lot of one-offs on genre series including Quantum LeapHerculesTales from The Crypt, AirwolfFriday the 13th and played Agent Katie Logan for two episodes on Warehouse 13.
  • Born January 2, 1979 Tobias S. Buckell, 44. I read and enjoyed a lot his Xenowealth series which he managed to wrap up rather nicely. The collection he edited, The Stories We Tell: Bermuda Anthology of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror, is well worth reading, as is his own Tides from a New World collection. And his Tangled Lands collection which won the World Fantasy Award is amazing reading as well.
  • Born January 2, 1983 Kate Bosworth, 39. She’s Barbara Barga in the SS-GB series adapted from the superb Len Deighton novel. She’s both a producer and a performer on The I- Land Netflixseries where she’s KC, a decidedly not nice person. For a more positive character, she portrayed Lois Lane in Superman Returns.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Six Chix makes a mighty literary New Year’s resolution. It will probably sound familiar to a few of you!
  • Peanuts On This Day on Twitter brings us an sff-adjacent strip from January 2, 1973.

(11) HERE COMES THE DRAGON-PROWED BOAT. The Los Angeles Times asks “Why is a Swedish billionaire buying up California’s video gaming empire?” In recent years many game makers have been acquired by Lars Wingefors’ company, Embracer.

…Or as the tech-oriented website the Verge put it: “Embracer Group, the company forging one IP portfolio to rule them all.”

The strategy has sparked both criticism and confusion in the gaming world. Some gamers accuse Embracer of sacrificing artistry, while others find the company’s approach scattershot and incoherent. An Embracer developer defends the company’s approach, saying it supports game makers.

“If you look at them from afar, you might wonder what the company is doing,” says Simon Rojder, a programmer who is the founder of Mirage, a game studio in Karlstad that Embracer absorbed in 2016. “What he [Wingefors] does is find people who know what they are doing and then leaves them alone.

“This company is called the big dragon monster of gaming because they soak up everything. But they give you space to do your work. We feel quite independent, even if on paper we are not.”

Today, Embracer oversees 237 games being developed across 132 studios on every continent except Africa and Antarctica. More than 15,000 employees work for Embracer or a company under its umbrella.

In California, Embracer has a foothold in San Francisco, where it owns a studio that developed the free game “Star Trek Online.” Irvine is home to a recently acquired karaoke company, Singtrix, while SpringboardVR, a company focused on arcade development, is in Los Angeles. In Agoura Hills, Embracer runs global marketing for Vertigo Games, a Dutch game studio and virtual reality group. It also has a distribution contract with Exploding Kittens, an L.A. game studio named after the card game, which shot up in popularity after launching on Kickstarter in 2015.

Embracer’s rapid expansion comes as tech, gaming and moviemaking collide in a content race to grab the attention and dollars of any consumer they can. Fueled in part by a boom during pandemic-era lockdowns, the gaming industry’s price tag now rivals those of Hollywood and music…

(12) UNDERFOOT IN THE CRETACEOUS. Elsewhere in Sweden is a place where they study “The Fossil Flowers That Rewrote the History of Life” – read about it in The New Yorker.

The centerpiece of the Swedish Museum of Natural History, in Stockholm, is probably the Fossils and Evolution hall, in which an enormous Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton seems to yawn over crowds of starstruck schoolchildren. Nearby, tourists marvel at a triceratops skull and a velociraptor model. These iconic dinosaurs evolved during the late-Cretaceous epoch and went extinct about sixty-six million years ago, around the time that an asteroid smashed into the planet. It is difficult to think of any event in the history of life that has left a bigger mark on the human imagination. “I don’t think you can compete with the dinosaurs,” Else Marie Friis, a paleobotanist and professor emerita at the museum, told me the first time we spoke.

Friis has come to believe, however, that the disappearance of the dinosaurs was not even the most interesting development of the Cretaceous period. She is more interested in a pair of easy-to-miss boulders near the feet of the T. rex, which bear impressions of some very old angiosperm leaves. Angiosperms, or flowering plants, are so ubiquitous today that one can hardly imagine life without them; they encompass at least three hundred and fifty thousand species, including everything from cactuses to wind-pollinated grasses to broadleaf trees, and far outnumber older plants such as ferns, conifers, and mosses. Yet the first dinosaurs, in the Triassic and Jurassic periods, lived in a world without flowers. The first angiosperms probably bloomed in the early Cretaceous, around a hundred and thirty-five million years ago. They ignited a revolution that reinvented nature itself….

(13) ONE AND DONE. “’1899′ Canceled: Netflix Not Moving Forward With Season 2” says Variety.

1899” will not receive a second season at Netflix. The news was confirmed by series co-creator Baran bo Odar through a statement shared to his official Instagram. The letter to fans was also signed by Odar’s partner and series co-creator Jantje Freise.

“With a heavy heart we have to tell you that ‘1899’ will not be renewed,” Odar wrote. “We would have loved to finish this incredible journey with a second and third season as we did with ‘Dark.’ But sometimes things don’t turn out the way you planned. That’s life.”

“We know this will disappoint millions of fans out there. But we want to thank you from the bottom of our hearts that you were a part of this wonderful adventure,” the statement continues. “We love you. Never forget.”

(14) LA MANCHA AND TATTOOINE. According to Ted Gioia, “Don Quixote Tells Us How the Star Wars Franchise Ends”.

…This is an important shift in the history of storytelling, and we need to pay close attention to it—because this is how Star Wars ends. This is how the Marvel Cinematic Universe loses its mojo. This is how the movie business will eventually reinvent itself.

The key person here is Miguel de Cervantes (1547-1616). And the amazing thing is that he relied on a knight to kill all the other knights, and clear the way for the rise of the novel.

Cervantes’s knight was the famous Don Quixote, celebrated in the book of the same name. And we could argue endlessly whether this book was, in fact, the first novel. The exact chronology here isn’t the key issue. The more pressing point is that Don Quixote made all the earlier books about knights look ridiculous. In other words, Cervantes pursued the literary equivalent of a scorched earth policy.

The title character in his book is a shrunken and shriveled man of about 50, who has gone crazy by reading too many stories about knights and their adventures. In a fit of delusion, he decides to leave home and pursue knightly adventures himself—but the world has changed since the time of King Arthur, and our poor knight errant now looks like a fool. Other characters mock him, and play practical jokes at his expense—and simply because he believes all those lies in the brand franchise stories.

We start to feel sorry for Don Quixote, even begin cheering for our hapless hero. Thus this protagonist, in Cervantes’s rendering, is both absurd and endearing. This is what raises the novel above mere satire—because we eventually come to admire Don Quixote for holding on to his ideals in the face of a world where they don’t fit or belong.

In other words, there is much to admire in this book, but this three-layered approach to reality is perhaps the most interesting aspect of them all. Here are the three layers:

  1. Don Quixote is just an ordinary man, not a hero by any means.
  2. But in his delusion, he pretends to be a hero, following rules and procedures that are antiquated and irrelevant. They merely serve to make him look pitiful and absurd.
  3. Yet by persisting in this fantasy, he actually does turn into a hero, although a more complex kind that anticipates the rise of the novel. He is the prototype of the dreamer and idealist who chases goals in the face of all obstacles.

The end result was that the old fake stories of knights were now obsolete, but something smarter and more sophisticated emerged in their wake. After Cervantes, readers demanded better stories—and not just the intellectuals and elites. The novel soon became the preferred narrative format at all levels of literate European society.

Believe it or not, this could happen again, even in Hollywood….

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

Pixel Scroll 12/20/22 The Filezentian Gate

(1) PRESIDENT’S DAY WEEKEND.  Get ready for Boskone 60, coming February 17-19, 2023 in Boston – and via the internet. The convention’s guests are Nalo Hopkinson – Guest of Honor; Victo Ngai – Official Artist; Tui T. Sutherland – Special Guest; and Dave Clement – Musical Guest. Full information at the link.

Boskone 60 will be held in person at The Westin Boston Seaport District hotel, 425 Summer Street, Boston, MA. You can also attend in person at our incredible 3-day convention, starting in the afternoon on Friday, February 17, 2023, at 2:00 pm (U.S. Eastern Standard Time) and running through Sunday, February 19. We are also planning to make a portion of our programming available for virtual members and virtual program participants.

You can experience Boskone virtually for only $24.60!

(2) MEDICAL STRUGGLE. [Item by Danny Sichel.] Kelly Barnhill, winner of the 2016 World Fantasy Award for Best Novella, is marking one year since she missed a step, hit her head, fell down a flight of stairs, and was unconscious for 15 minutes.Recovery from concussion is slow; as a result, she says, writing fiction is not currently possible. Thread starts here. Some excerpts:

(3) AI YI YI. Alyssa Shotwell brings readers up to date about why “Tor Faces Major Backlash for AI Art for Upcoming Novel From Bestselling Author” in The Mary Sue.

…The comments accusing Tor of using AI art in Christopher Paolini‘s follow-up to To Sleep in a Sea of StarsFractal Noise, came as early as November (when the cover was revealed), but it wasn’t until December when more people realized what happened. Around December 9, pressure had built up, and those concerned demanded an answer from Tor and Paolini. On December 15, Tor released this statement on their social media:

“Tor Books designed the cover for Fractal Noise by Christopher Paolini. During the process of creating this cover, we licensed an image from a reputable stock house. We were not aware that the image may have been created by AI. Our in-house designer used the licensed image to create the cover, which was presented to Christopher for approval. Due to production constraints, we have decided to move ahead with our current cover. Tor Publishing Group has championed creators in the SFF community since our founding and will continue to do so.”

At first glance, it’s easy to take at least the first part of this as truth. As far back as September, stock websites and individuals began to host AI art for licensing purposes. Since then, it’s only grown, with Adobe Stock and the portfolio site Artstation catering to AI art. Shutterstock even inked a deal with AI generators in October. Between the sites hosting the images and the companies (like Tor) using them, there are no guidelines for even labeling AI art. It’s being mixed in with human-made art. The AI image created (from stolen images) for the base of Fractal Noise is not even labeled as AI created on Shutterstock.

… Tor knew they would continue to get backlash because, in that tweet, they turned off replies. Most of the people talking about it are retweets, and the conversation continues in those replies….

… Paolini has given mixed responses to the whole situation and has been tweeting (and replying) a lot. He spoke about the value of an artist in the book illustration process and how he’s always shared fan art of his works. Paolini commissioned work from artists and illustrated many elements of his Inheritance Saga (Eragon, etc.), including the map of Alagaësia. He also stated that this AI art situation is not ideal. Most other comments from the author remain neutral.

This is disappointing, as a reader of his books and as an artist, not to see him take a stronger stance on this, at least in a professional setting….

(4) CRICHTON, POURNELLE, AND BENFORD IN 2005. Camestros Felapton resumes following strands of right-wing and reactionary thought within science fiction in a new series “Contrarian Cli-Fi” about sff writers who took a contrarian view of climate change. The latest chapter, “Contrarian Cli-Fi 0.07: Aftermath 2005”, makes a real effort at fairness, it seemed to me, at a time when the internet gives no cookies for such efforts.  

…A great deal about science communication had changed over the intervening time between Fallen Angels and State of Fear. Whereas in past decades science magazines and hybrid sci-fi/science magazines like Analog or OMNI were a key part of science communication to a broader audience of people interested but not experts in science, in the 2000s science blogging was a growing channel between actual scientists and the public.

Michael Crichton’s novel State of Fear also helped spur actual climate scientists to counter Crichton’s views (and doubts about global warming more generally) directly on the web. One of the most interesting exchanges in the wake of State of Fear was, unsurprisingly, on Pournelle’s own blog in 2005.

I’ve cast Pournelle as a right-wing ideologue pushing the contrarian view on climate change but he also manifestly had a genuine interest in climate science. He absolutely wanted to understand the scientific debate if only to refute it on its own terms. In the wake of the State of Fear discussion about global warming and global cooling would be a major topic on his blog. In part that debate was fuelled by reactions to Crichton’s novel in science and science fiction communities.

One obvious overlap between State of Fear, scientists and science fiction writers was author and physicist Gregory Benford. In a 2003 speech by Crichton that presaged the sceptical position of his novel, Crichton had quoted a paper by a panel that included Benford published in Science[1]: …

…Benford responded in a column in the San Diego Tribune published in 2005 taking apart many of Crichton’s claims and misleading statements. Benford unequivocally stated that Crichton was getting his science wrong, relying on secondary sources and misunderstanding those sources….

(5) TRYING TO PREDICT THE PRESENT. “Bezos appears to lose interest in the Washington Post as its tech ambitions wither” reports Semafor.

THE SCOOP

Earlier this month, Washington Post publisher Fred Ryan and a handful of executives traveled to Seattle for a budget meeting with owner Jeff Bezos. The paper’s executive editor Sally Buzbee was not in attendance, according to two people with knowledge of the meeting.

Turmoil back in Washington, DC has followed. Ryan abruptly announced a round of layoffs. Buzbee appeared to distance herself from her publisher. The Post and Buzbee did not respond to requests for comment.

And employees and observers of the Post alike were left wondering what Bezos is doing with the publication….

(6) AMAZON CURBED IN EU ACTION. A European Union press release announced the final “commitments” made by Amazon to avoid further enforcement action, including fines. “Antitrust: Commission accepts commitments by Amazon barring it from using marketplace seller data, and ensuring equal access to Buy Box and Prime”.

To address the Commission’s competition concerns in relation to both investigations, Amazon initially offered the following commitments:

– To address the data use concern, Amazon proposed to commit:

      • not to use non-public data relating to, or derived from, the independent sellers’ activities on its marketplace, for its retail business. This applies to both Amazon’s automated tools and employees that could cross-use the data from Amazon Marketplace, for retail decisions;
      • not to use such data for the purposes of selling branded goods as well as its private label products.

– To address the Buy Box concern, Amazon proposed to commit to:

      • treat all sellers equally when ranking the offers for the purposes of the selection of the Buy Box winner;
      • display a second competing offer to the Buy Box winner if there is a second offer from a different seller that is sufficiently differentiated from the first one on price and/or delivery. Both offers will display the same descriptive information and provide the same purchasing experience.

– To address the Prime concerns Amazon proposed to commit to:

      • set non-discriminatory conditions and criteria for the qualification of marketplace sellers and offers to Prime;
      • allow Prime sellers to freely choose any carrier for their logistics and delivery services and negotiate terms directly with the carrier of their choice;
      • not use any information obtained through Prime about the terms and performance of third-party carriers, for its own logistics services.

Between 14 July 2022 and 9 September 2022, the Commission market tested Amazon’s commitments and consulted all interested third parties to verify whether they would remove its competition concerns. In light of the outcome of this market test, Amazon amended the initial proposal and committed to:

      • Improve the presentation of the second competing Buy Box offer by making it more prominent and to include a review mechanism in case the presentation is not attracting adequate consumer attention;
      • Increase the transparency and early information flows to sellers and carriers about the commitments and their newly acquired rights, enabling, amongst others, early switching of sellers to independent carriers;
      • Lay out the means for independent carriers to directly contact their Amazon customers, in line with data-protection rules, enabling them to provide equivalent delivery services to those offered by Amazon;
      • Improve carrier data protection from use by Amazon’s competing logistics services, in particular concerning cargo profile information;
      • Increase the powers of the monitoring trustee by introducing further notification obligations;
      • Introduce a centralised complaint mechanism, open to all sellers and carriers in case of suspected non-compliance with the commitments.
      • Increase to seven years, instead of the initially proposed five years, the duration of the commitments relating to Prime and the second competing Buy Box offer.

The Commission found that Amazon’s final commitments will ensure that Amazon does not use marketplace seller data for its own retail operations and that it grants non-discriminatory access to Buy Box and Prime. 

(7) HENRY MORRISON OBIT. Literary agent Henry Morrison died November 2 at the age of 86. The Publishers Weekly noted his sff connections.

…Morrison struck out on his own before he turned 30.

For the next 55 years, characters and storylines in the books and films whose rights Morrison sold became household American names, Robert Ludlum’s Jason Bourne and David Morrell’s Rambo among them. A particularly prolific agent in the crime and thriller genres, other authors in the space Morrison represented included Brian Garfield, Dean Koontz, Eric van Lustbader, Matt Scudder, and Donald E. Westlake. He also represented the science fiction writers Samuel R. Delany (one of his earliest clients) and Roger Zelazny. His well-rewarded midlist writers won multiple Edgars and served as Mystery Writers of America presidents, Grandmasters, and International ThrillerMasters….

(8) MEMORY LANE.

2014 [By Cat Eldridge.] Frankenstein in Geneva 

Tonight’s creature is one that y’all will now very well, that of  Frankenstein’s monster, though almost everyone now calls it Frankenstein. Philistines. 

While the writer was English, the story was written and takes place in Geneva, Switzerland where this statue is placed in the spot where it goes on a rampage and kills his creator’s brother. 

KLAT, a Geneva artist collective, so there was no individual sculptor listed for this work, created this nearly eight-foot-tall cast bronze sculpture. “Franc” as they call him,  is dressed in ragged clothes, which represents not the character from the novel, but “the figure of the vagrant or the marginal”. With his hunchback, his scars including those of face and hooded sweatshirt and old jeans cut at the knees, it is not at all in keeping with Shelley’s original description of the monster in her novel, but more in line with the modern interpretation of a zombie-like creature. 

The statue was unveiled in May 2014, and is part of the collection of the Contemporary Art Fund of the City of Geneva. That unveiling was — shall we say? — quite electrifying?

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 20, 1838 Edwin Abbott Abbott. Author of the Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions, an 1884 novella that has come to be adopted as SF even though it’s really mathematical fiction. Go ahead, argue with me. (Died 1926.)
  • Born December 20, 1925 Nicole Maurey. She appeared in The Day of the Triffids as Christine Durrant, and was Elena Antonescu in Secret of the Incas, a film its Wiki page claims was the inspiration for Raiders of the Lost Ark. I can’t find proof anywhere else that it is… (Died 2016.)
  • Born December 20, 1943 Jacqueline Pearce. She’s best known as the villain Servalan on Blake’s 7. She appeared in “The Two Doctors”, a Second and Sixth Doctor story as Chessene, and she’d voice Admiral Mettna in “Death Comes to Time”, a Seventh Doctor story. I’d be remiss not to note her one-offs in Danger ManThe AvengersThe Chronicles of Young Indiana Jones and The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes. (Died 2018.)
  • Born December 20, 1951 Kate Atkinson, 71. A strong case can be made that her Jackson Brodie detective novels are at least genre adjacent with their level of Universe assisting metanarrative. The Life After Life duology is definitely SF and pretty good reading. She’s well stocked on usual suspects.
  • Born December 20, 1952 Jenny Agutter, 70. Her first SF role was Jessica 6, the female lead in Logan’s Run. Later genre roles include Nurse Alex Price In An American Werewolf in London (fantastic film), Carolyn Page in Dark Tower which is not a Stephen King based film, an uncredited cameo as a burn doctor in one of my all time fave films which is Darkman and finally she was Councilwoman Hawley in The Avengers and The Winter Soldier
  • Born December 20, 1960 Nalo Hopkinson, 62. First novel I ever read by her was Brown Girl in The Ring, a truly amazing novel. Like most of her work, it draws on Afro-Caribbean history and language, and its intertwined traditions of oral and written storytelling. I’d also single out the Mojo: Conjure Stories and Falling in Love With Hominids collections as they are both wonderful and challenging reading. Worth seeking out is her edited Whispers from the Cotton Tree Root: Caribbean Fabulist Fiction. 
  • Born December 20, 1970 Nicole de Boer, 52. Best remembered for playing the trill Ezri Dax on the final season of Deep Space Nine, and as Sarah Bannerman on The Dead Zone. Well maybe not the latter I’ll admit. She’s done a number of genre films including Deepwater Black, Cube, Iron Invader, and Metal Tornado, and has one-offs in Beyond RealityForever KnightTekWarOuter LimitsPoltergeist: The LegacyPsi Factor and Stargate Atlantis. Did I mention she’s Canadian?
  • Born December 20, 1984 Ilean Almaguer, 38. Here for her role as Illa on the most excellent Counterpart series. If you’ve not seen it, I highly recommend it. To my knowledge, none of many the Spanish-language Mexican telenovelas she appeared in had the slightest genre element. 

(10) COMICS SECTION.

(11) TUNE IN. The BBC World Service is airing a production of Susan Cooper’s “The Dark Is Rising”.

A young boy’s time-travelling fight against ancient evil. When the Dark comes rising, who will hold it back? This dramatisation of Susan Cooper’s cult novel is a magical journey into the supernatural.

There currently are three episodes available with 26 to come.

(12) IRON MAN BACK TO THE PRESS. Gene Wolfe said in his 1985 Worldcon guest of honor speech that the difference between a professional publisher and a fanzine publisher is that if a fanzine sells out, the editor will print more. So what are we to make of Marvel’s enthusiastic announcement that Iron Man #1 is getting a second printing?

This past Wednesday, fans witnessed the beginning of an all-new era for Tony Stark in Invincible Iron Man #1! Writer Gerry Duggan and artist Juan Frigeri have taken over the armored Avenger’s adventures and didn’t pull any punches in their explosive first issue, which sold out and will return in February with a second printing!

 Invincible Iron #1 will receive two new second printing covers, both of which celebrate the character’s iconic legacy by showcasing the many armors Tony has suited up in over the years: A brand-new piece by superstar artist Mark Bagley and definitive Iron Man artist Bob Layton’s showstopping connecting piece in all its glory.

 Invincible Iron Man #1 ended with Tony Stark hitting rock bottom, having lost it all: his wealth…his fame…his friends. But don’t count Stark out just yet. In upcoming issues, Stark will navigate his new status in the Marvel Universe in surprising ways. Readers will see Iron Man court new allies, embrace bold solutions, and make startling moves that will affect his relationships with the Avengers and mutantkind. Is he building towards a brighter future or will he be the architect of further destruction? 

 (13) OH SNAP! SNAP! [Item by Daniel Dern.] If (movie version) Thanos sang or hummed along to the Addams Family theme song, would that quantumize 2x 50% or 50% of 50%?

(14) SOMETHING TO READ. Ted Gioia posted his picks for “The Best Online Essays & Articles of 2022”.

…Most of these are longform essays on music, arts, and culture—because those are matters I think about (and worry about) every day. But I don’t impose any arbitrary limits here. If the article is good enough, I include it, no matter what the subject….

First on the list – “A few things to know before stealing my 914” by Norman Garrett,

Dear Thief,

Welcome to my Porsche 914. I imagine that at this point (having found the door unlocked) your intention is to steal my car. Don’t be encouraged by this; the tumblers sheared off in 1978. I would have locked it up if I could, so don’t think you’re too clever or that I’m too lazy. However, now that you’re in the car, there are a few things you’re going to need to know. First, the battery is disconnected, so slide-hammering my ignition switch is not your first step. I leave the battery disconnected, not to foil hoodlums such as yourself, but because there is a mysterious current drain from the 40-year-old German wiring harness that I can’t locate and/or fix….

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Honest Game Trailers: The Game Awards” sends up an awards show which finds it impossible to live up to its pretentions, saying it’s “an award show that wants to be taken as seriously as the Oscars except that every single year something absolutely ridiculous happens.” Mistakes were made, birds were flipped.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Danny Sichel, Todd Mason, Daniel Dern, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, and Chris Barkley for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Joe H.]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eileen Gunn

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(7) MEMORY LANE.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bradbury is stellar here. Truly brilliant.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

First on the list:

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

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

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

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

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

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

10/10 Gray Hulk

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pixel Scroll 10/15/22 Scrolls Are The Lycantropic Form Of Pixels

(1) AND YOU ARE THERE. Eleven years ago today at Capclave this happened – “Terry Pratchett Capclave Interview”.

(2) GET OUT OF YOUR OWN HEAD. Lincoln Michel advises writers how to balance “Understanding the Reader Without Pandering to the Reader” at Counter Craft. A brief excerpt:

…Here are some specific areas that often stand out to me along these lines:

Repetition:

Unless your book becomes part of some rabid geek fanbase or a English lit staple, few if any readers are going to read your stories with the Talmudic scrutiny you write and revise them. Readers are distracted. We read a story on a loud, crowded subway. We put a novel down midchapter and don’t get back to it for weeks. We read a chapter sleepily late at night. We miss things. What writers fear is beating their reader over the head is often doing the bare minimum to tap them on the shoulder.

This is a lesson even famous and award-winning authors can forget. I remember hearing a favorite writer give a craft talk and mention how in their first draft of a novel they had a line from chapter 1 repeated near the end of the book. “Aha, everyone will snap their fingers at the connection and realize the true identify of this character!” they thought. But then their editor, they said, quite rightly pointing out no one was going to remember that line 250 pages later. The novel needed to repeat that line four, five, or more times spaced out across the text for the reader to notice.

(3) THE HEAT DEATH OF THE INTERNET. Yeah, like that’s going to happen. But is the culture changing? “Has the Internet Reached Peak Clickability?” asks Ted Gioia.

… But it’s quite plausible that the Internet is losing its coolness and its clickbait appeal. It definitely feels stale and formulaic, more so with each passing month, and I’m not the only person who thinks so. If you dig into the numbers, you find that engagement on the largest platforms is falling—and not in a small way (as Sinatra might say).

The numbers don’t lie, and Kriss serves them up here—summarizing the bad news for clicks and swipes…

… But the metrics now tell a different story.

I shouldn’t be surprised by all this. My own experience at Substack has made me acutely aware of the longform renaissance. When I launched on this platform, I definitely planned to write those long articles that newspaper editors hate—Substack would be my moment of luxurious freedom! Even so, I assumed that my shorter articles would be more popular. I guess I’d drunk the Kool-Aid too, accepting the prevailing narrative that readers want it short and sweet, so they can read it complete in the time it takes the Piano Man to play a request.

Yet my Substack internal metrics reveal the exact opposite of what I expected. The readers here prefer in-depth articles. Who would’ve guessed? For someone like me, it’s almost too good to be true. It’s like some positive karma in the universe is reinforcing my own better instincts.

But the real reason is that the market for clickbait is saturated, and longform feels fresher, more vital, more rewarding….

(4) LOWREY COMMENCES TAFF REPORT. “Orange Mike” Lowrey reports the 2020 TAFF race status is now “Trip report in progress”. 

The first installment of A Visible Fan Abroad: A TAFF Journal of the Plague Years, “Chapter the First: The Trip That Never Was” appears on pages 22-23 of Nic Farey and Ulrika O’Brien’s Beam 17.

When they make it available online, readers will find it at eFanzines.com.

(5) SFF IN NYT. Amal El-Mohtar reviews Babel, The Anchored World, and Self-Portrait with Nothing in “The Magic of Translation” at the New York Times.

The word “translation” connotes movement: carrying meaning from one language to another, or shifting bodies from one place — or one context — to another, all while recognizing that moving entails loss and change. These books dwell in that potent space between setting out and arriving….

(6) MUSK TO THE FUTURE. NPR’s “It’s Been A Minute” contends “Elon Musk’s bid to buy Twitter and defend free speech is part of his mythmaking”.

The saga around Elon Musk’s deal to buy Twitter has been just that: a months-long soap opera involving lawsuits and subpoenas, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, even a town hall. But why does Musk — one of the world’s richest and arguably most influential men — want a social media platform?

It’s Been a Minute host Brittany Luse puts the question to Jill Lepore, political historian and host of The Evening Rocket, a podcast about Musk. Lepore says that the idea of being a savior of free speech would appeal to Musk, who has built around himself a mythology inspired by what she sees as a misinterpretation of mid-twentieth century science fiction.

Lepore discusses how Musk crafted a powerful narrative that millions around the world have bought into; how he draws from science fiction and film; and why we need to be more critical of billionaire visionaries….

(7) ONLINE CLUB MEETING. The Science Fiction/Real Policy Book Club will take up “Lock In by John Scalzi” on November 29, 2022 at 6:00 p.m. Eastern. Register at the link.

Science fiction can have real policy impacts, and comes rife with real-life commentary. For the next gathering of our Science Fiction/Real Policy Book Club, we have selected Lock In by John Scalzi.

The detective novel imagines a world in which a pandemic left 5 million people in the U.S. alone with lock in syndrome: fully conscious but unable to move. Twenty-five years later, enormous scientific and technological investment has created a way for those living with “Haden’s syndrome” to take part in daily life. While they remain in their beds, robotic avatars let them take classes, interact with their families, and work—including as FBI agents. Chris is a rookie FBI agent assigned to work a case that seems to involve the world of Haden’s syndrome, and he and his partner must figure out exactly what’s going on. Lock In is a fascinating tale that raises questions about the “real” world, accessibility and disability, public-health funding, and much more.

Join Future Tense and Issues in Science and Technology at 6pm Eastern on Tuesday, Nov. 29, to discuss the novel and its real-world implications. The book club will feature breakout rooms (they’re fun and stress-free, we promise) where we can all compare notes and share reactions, even if we didn’t finish the book (though we picked a short one this time!).

(8) FRANK DRAKE (1930-2022). Radio astronomer and astrophysicist Frank Drake died September 2. He was a pioneer of the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, carrying out the first search for signals from extraterrestrial civilisations, Project Ozma, in 1960. He is the inventor of the “Drake equation” used to estimate the number of extraterrestrial civilizations in our galaxy. The Guardian obituary notes:

…As a radio astronomer at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Green Bank, West Virginia, he made the first observations of Jupiter’s radiation belts, analogous to the Van Allen belts around the Earth, and was one of the first astronomers to measure the intense surface temperature on Venus, a consequence of the greenhouse effect of its thick atmosphere. But it is for Project Ozma, named after Princess Ozma in L Frank Baum’s Wizard of Oz books and carried out with Green Bank’s 85ft radio telescope, that he will be remembered.

For three months Drake observed the sun-like stars Tau Ceti and Epsilon Eridani for radio signals that might be from planets with extraterrestrial civilisations. None were found, but as Drake recalled in a 2012 interview: “It was a start – and it did stimulate a lot of other people to start searching.”….

(9) MICHAEL CALLAN (1935-2022). Actor Michael Callan died October 10. Best known for his roles in Cat Ballou and West Side Story, his genre resume included the film The Mysterious Island, and television’s The Bionic Woman, Fantasy IslandKnight Rider, and Superboy.

(10) MEMORY LANE.

1928 [By Cat Eldridge.] The Passing of Mr. Quin (1928)

We have a special treat for you this Scroll, a silent film first shown in the UK ninety-four years ago. The Passing of Mr. Quin was based off a short story by Agatha Christie. Though it did not feature Hercule Poirot, as that film debut wouldn’t happen for another three years.

It is a rather odd story. To wit, Professor Appleby has abused his wife, Eleanor, for years but when he is brutally murdered and her lover, Derek, goes missing under mysterious circumstances, Eleanor suspects the worst as she indeed should. 

A mysterious stranger, known mostly as “Mr Quin” appears, and begins to seduce her, but his alcoholism causes him to die quite soon. On his death bed, he confesses that he was Derek all along, and offers her to a rival, who promises to make Eleanor a happy wife.

Not cheerful at all and with just more than a soupçon of misogyny there as well but I don’t think it had any of the anti-Jewish tendencies Christie was known for early on. Need I say that the scriptwriters had their way with Christie’s original story? Well they did. 

This silent film was directed by Leslie Alibi. Three years later he directed the first ever depiction of Poirot with Austin Trevor in the lead role. That was not a silent film and Trevor once claimed he was cast as Poirot because he could speak with a French accent. The Poirot film unfortunately is now lost. 

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 15, 1911 James H. Schmitz. Writer of short fiction in a space opera setting, sold primarily to Galaxy Science Fiction and Astounding Science-Fiction. His “Lion Loose” was nominated for a Short Fiction Hugo at Chicon III, and The Witches of Karres was nominated for Best Novel at NyCon 3. Sources laud him for his intelligent female characters. His collections and novels are available at the usual suspects. (Died 1981.)
  • Born October 15, 1919 E.C. Tubb. A writer of at least one hundred forty novels and two hundred twenty short stories and novellas, he’s best remembered I think for the Dumarest Saga. His other long-running series was the Cap Kennedy stories. And his short story “Little Girl Lost” which was originally published in New Worlds magazine became a story on Night Gallery. He novelized a number of the Space: 1999 episodes. Somewhat surprisingly he’s never been nominated for or won any awards. (Died 2010.)
  • Born October 15, 1924 Mark Lenard. Sarek, the father of Spock in the Trek franchise, showing up in that role in “Journey to Babel”.  (The role got reprised in the animated series, as well as three films and two episodes of The Next Generation.) Surprisingly he played Romulan Commander in “Balance of Terror,” in the first season, and a Klingon Captain in Star Trek: The Motion Picture. He also had one-offs on Mission ImpossibleWild Wild WestOtherworld, The Secret EmpireThe Incredible Hulk, and Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. He had a recurring role on the Planet of The Apes as Urko. (Died 1996.)
  • Born October 15, 1935 Ray “Duggie” Fisher. Editor, Conrunner and Fan, who chaired the 1969 Worldcon in St. Louis, was on the committee for several other conventions, and was a founding member of the Poplar Bluff Science Fiction Club and the Ozark Science Fiction Association. His fanzine ODD was a finalist for a Best Fanzine Hugo. His contributions to fandom were, sadly, cut short by his death at age 52 due to complications of diabetes. (Died 1988.) [JJ]
  • Born October 15, 1942 Lon Atkins. Editor, Conrunner, and Fan who chaired a DeepSouthCon and was editor of numerous fanzines and apazines, including eight years as co-editor of Rally! He was Fan Guest of Honor at a Westercon, and a recipient of Southern Fandom’s Rebel lifetime achievement award. He was also a ferocious Hearts player. (Died 2016.) [JJ]
  • Born October 15, 1953 Walter Jon Williams, 69. The last thing I read by him was his most excellent Dagmar Shaw series which I highly recommend, but Fleet Elements is on my TBR list.  I also like his Metropolitan novels, be they SF or fantasy, as well as his Hardwired series. I’m surprised how few awards that he’s won, just three with two being Nebulas, both for shorter works, “Daddy’s World” and “The Green Leopard Plaque”, plus a Sidewise Award for “Foreign Devils”.  Damn it, where is his Hugo? 
  • Born October 15, 1954 Linnea Sinclair, 68. Merging romance, SF and paranormal into, well, damned if I know. She’s here sole because I’m really tickled by the use of her SJW credentials as told here: Games of Command and the short story “Of Cats, Uh, Furzels and Kings” feature telepathic feline creatures called ‘Furzels’. Sinclair has stated that these are inspired by her two cats. 
  • Born October 15, 1968 Jack du Brul, 54. A writer of somewhat SF novels that EoSF says of “the Philip Mercer sequence featuring a geologist who – not entirely unlike Steven Spielberg’s similarly scholarly Indiana Jones – has physical gifts extending beyond the probable.” He also co-wrote, and continued after Clive Cusler passed on, The Oregon Files.

(12) THE DOUBLE-OH GENERATION. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Washington Post, Alexandra Petri says that she is worried that the new James Bond might be a Millennial. “What the millennial James Bond might look like”. “Do you expect me to talk?”  “No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to text!” She’s got a million of them.

(13) RAMBLING MAN. John Meaney’s post “What I Did On My Holiday” shows that he kept up his impressive workout regimen even while vacationing in “places like Lindisfarne (think Vikings) and Whitby Abbey (think Dracula) and the Western Highlands of Scotland.” He also snapped a memorable photo.

…The Caledonian Canal features a long series of locks called Neptune’s Staircase, and I did take photos of the canal itself, but was struck by this piece of useful advice, which we should always bear in mind every day….

(14) DUNGEON ACOUSTICS. “’D&D’ Goes ‘DIY’ On Kill Rock Stars’ Latest Compilation” reports Bandcamp Daily.

What does Dungeons & Dragons sound like?

That’s the fundamental question at the heart of SPELLJAMS, a new compilation album curated and produced by Chris Funk. The Decemberists guitarist wasn’t tasked with soundtracking just any old D&D campaign: SPELLJAMS is a companion piece to the newly rebooted Spelljammer setting, an outer-space-set oddity that’s become a cult favorite since its introduction in 1989. Spelljammer is a bit of an outlier within the broader D&D lore, which made it ripe for the kind of freewheeling, adventurous track listing Funk assembled for the album.

(15) LUCY IN THE SKY WITH DODGING. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Lucy, a spacecraft designed to visit Jupiter’s Trojan astroids, will swing past Earth for a gravity assist on Sunday. To get the proper oomph from the assist, it will have to come so close to Earth that it will be inside the orbit of many Low-Earth-Orbit satellites (including the International Space Station).

Cognizant of the possibility of a collision between Lucy and a LEO satellite, NASA has pre-prepared two orbit changes to stagger Lucy’s closest approach just a little bit. Or, if needed, a little bit more than that. They’re waiting as long as they can to calculate orbital positions for everything and make that decision, because the longer they wait the more accurate the predictions will be.

With luck, observers in parts of Australia or the western US may be able to see Lucy glinting like a diamond before it ducks into or after it comes out of Earth’s shadow, respectively. If you miss this chance you’ll get another opportunity two years hence when Lucy swings by for another orbital assist. “NASA on Collision Alert for Close Flyby of Lucy Spacecraft”. Gizmodo says the Space Force has been scrambled!

…The collision assessment team will send Lucy’s position to the Space Force’s 18th Space Control Squadron, which monitors objects in low Earth orbit. The team is prepared to perform swerving maneuvers if Lucy has more than a 1 in 10,000 chance of colliding with another object. “With such a high value mission, you really need to make sure that you have the capability, in case it’s a bad day, to get out of the way,” Highsmith said….

(16) WAITING IN A BREAD LINE. “Meet Pan Solo, a California bakery’s 6-foot bread sculpture of Han Solo frozen in carbonite”.

…The edible replica, which was painstakingly modeled out of dough to resemble Harrison Ford‘s captured character in 1980’s The Empire Strikes Back and 1983’s Return of the Jedi, has been on display outside the family bakery in Benicia, Calif., since Sunday. He is accompanied by a chalkboard that adorably proclaims, “Our hero Pan Solo has been trapped in Levainite by the evil Java the Hut.”…

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In this 2021 clip, Alasdair Beckett-King explains that even in the olden times, pepole couldn’t remember their passwords!

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Chris Barkley, Michael J. Walsh, Rob Thornton, JeffWarner, Todd Mason, 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 Peer.]

Pixel Scroll 8/11/22 Pixel Scroller, Qu’est-Ce Que C’est?

(1) UGANDA BID FOR 2028 WORLDCON. Starburst Magazine’s Ed Fortune reports “Uganda To Bid For Worldcon 2028”.

…If successful, it will be the first time in the convention has ever been to the continent of Africa. The bid chair is Kabunga Micheal, an author, industrial artist and science-fiction fan. Other members of the bid committee includes the film director Anita Nannozi Sseruwagi.

The aim of the bid is to empower local artists and increase international awareness of Uganda’s contribution to world science fiction. The bid has not announced an exact location as yet, as it is very early days. Kampala has a plethora of possible sites….

The bid website is here: Kampcon 2028.

(2) DRAGON AWARDS 2022 BALLOT. The 2022 Dragon Awards Ballot was posted today. The public is invited to vote on the winners. You may register to receive a ballot until 11:59 (EDT) on the Friday of Dragon Con (September 2). Here’s the link — Dragon Con 2022 – Fan Awards Signup Form.

(3) DOWNTIME. Daily Science Fiction! told followers today they are going on hiatus. However, the site is scheduled to present stories into December.

Hi. Many of you have noted that we’ve been closed for story submissions for a bit. Many more of you (our most loyal supporters–Thank you!) noticed that today we just canceled automatic renewals for the DSF membership. This is because we have decided that, as we pass our 12th anniversary, we will go on a hiatus, either temporary or somewhat longer. The good news is that we have stories accepted and scheduled to present to you through the middle of December.

Thank you for reading and for your support through more than a dozen years of fun and stories.

(4) AWARD JUDGES. The Aurealis Awards 2022 Judging Panels have been announced – see the names at the link.

We are very pleased to welcome our 2022 Aurealis Awards judging panels. We had a massive response to our call out this year, and are delighted to welcome both returning and new panelists to the team. All our judges are volunteers and we are extremely grateful for their hard work and professionalism throughout the process. The Awards would not exist without them!

(5) THE WAY HOME WAS THROUGH THE COURTHOUSE. “Peter Beagle, Author of ‘The Last Unicorn,’ Is Back In Control” says the New York Times in a profile.

…After a lifetime writing whimsical stories and struggling to cover his bills, Beagle lost control of his intellectual property to his manager, Connor Freff Cochran, who also controlled his finances, and later claimed to friends and family that Beagle had dementia.

Now, after a lengthy court battle in which he accused Cochran of financial elder abuse, Beagle has the rights to his work back, and is making the most of it: A new edition of “The Last Unicorn” came out in July, a sequel called “The Way Home” is scheduled for publication next year, and he has another novel out on submission to his publisher.

“A line I wrote in ‘The Last Unicorn’ when I was in my early twenties,” Beagle said, turned out to be as prescient, for better and worse, as anything he’s written since. “‘Mortals, as you may have noticed, take what they can get.’”

Beagle, 83, has a mischievous sense of humor, and when he speaks, it sounds like he’s reading a play on a 1940s radio program, his full, rumbling voice spooling his stories and delivering the punchline just so.

“I know I’m a good story teller,” he said, “which makes my life sound more interesting than it actually is.”…

(6) RESISTANCE THROUGH CROWDFUNDING. “Residents raise almost $100,000 for Michigan library defunded over LGBTQ books” according to NBC News.

Residents of a small town in western Michigan helped raise almost $100,000 for their local library after it was defunded over the inclusion of LGBTQ books.   

Primary voters in Jamestown Township, a community 20 miles east of Lake Michigan, rejected a proposal last week to renew tax funds to support the Patmos Library in nearby Hudsonville that serves Jamestown and the surrounding area. The rejection, which passed with nearly two-thirds voter approval, eliminates 84% of the public library’s annual budget, or $245,000….

Two days after the vote, Jesse Dillman, a Jamestown resident and father of two, launched an online fundraiser to help raise the $245,000 to keep the library open. 

“I am very passionate about this, and I have people that are behind me to do this,” he said in an interview. “I think I have to do it now, because the iron is hot. If this is going to happen, it’s going to happen now.” 

As of Thursday morning, approximately 1,800 people had contributed more than $90,000. While many of those donors are local, people from as far away as Australia have contributed, Dillman said.

(7) DOES THE ORVILLE HAVE A FUTURE? “Seth MacFarlane has ‘no idea’ if The Orville will return” reports Winter Is Coming.

Last week marked the season 3 finale of The Orville, and what a run it has been. After two seasons on FX, the show made the jump to Hulu for its third season, where it flourished. Subtitled The Orville: New Horizons, season 3 of the comedic science fiction drama was not only better than its previous seasons by leagues, but also one of the most polished shows on TV.

But as of this writing, the fate of The Orville is still up in the air. Creator, executive producer, and star Seth MacFarlane (Captain Ed Mercer) spoke at length with Syfy Wire and gave a bit more insight into the state of the show and his approach to crafting its third season finale, which was intentionally designed to be satisfying for fans in case The Orville wasn’t renewed for season 4. The title — “Future Unknown” — is a nod to this. “You do want to continue to expand the world and, in a perfect scenario, tease what’s to come. But we just don’t know what’s to come. We just haven’t gotten a firm answer,” MacFarlane said.

(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.  

1989 [By Cat Eldridge.] Yes, I’m a big fan of Bradbury with my favorite works being The Illustrated Man and Something This Way Wicked Comes (now that’s horror done properly), but I really do like much of his short fiction as well. (Yes, I know The Illustrated Man is really short stories.) And that is how we come to Ray Bradbury Theatre’s  “A Sound of Thunder” which aired for the first time thirty-three years ago on this evening.

It was adapted, of course, from “A Sound of Thunder” which was first published in Collier’s in the June 28, 1952, issue and published again in The Golden Apples of the Sun collection by Doubleday a year later. The Golden Apples of the Sun collection is available from the usual suspects. Interestingly Hard Case has Killer, Come Back to Me: The Crime Stories of Ray Bradbury which they released just two years ago. Ymmmm!

SPOILER ALERT (JUST IN CASE SOMEONE HAS READ OR SEEN IT) 

Two time travelers paid a hefty fee to Time Safari Inc. to go hunting dinosaurs who would’ve died in a few minutes. This means they don’t alter history at all. But they make a horrible, time stream altering mistake that they were told never, ever to make: don’t get off the marked path. One does and kills a a butterfly and changes the stream forever.  

Is Bradbury the origin of the oft told meteorological story about a butterfly flapping it’s wings in China altering weather conditions around the world?  

END SPOILER ALERT (WHO OF YOU COULD NOT HAVE SEEN IT?)

Unlike the latter film with Ben Kingsley which of course was padded out and critics like Roger Ebert saying that it was really bad and yes it gets a eighteen percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes, I thought it did a more than just credible job of presenting Bradbury’s story. Given the low budget nature of the series, it carried off the SFX rather well. But then I thought the entire series was quite excellent.

The major streaming services carrying it are Amazon and Peacock. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 11, 1902 Jack Binder. Thrilling Wonder Stories in their October 1938 issue published his article, “If Science Reached the Earth’s Core”, where the first known use of the phrase “zero gravity” is known to happen. In the early Forties, he was an artist for Fawcett, Lev Gleason, and Timely Comics. During these years, he created the Golden Age character Daredevil which is not the Marvel Daredevil though he did work with Stan Lee where they co-created The Destroyer at Timely Comics. (Died 1986.)
  • Born August 11, 1932 Chester Anderson. New Wave novelist and poet. He wrote The Butterfly Kid, the first part of the Greenwich Village trilogy. It was nominated for a Hugo Award at BayCon. He wrote one other genre novel, Ten Years to Doomsday, with Michael Kurland. Not even genre adjacent, but he edited a few issues Crawdaddy! in the late Sixties. (Died 1991.)
  • Born August 11, 1944 Ian McDiarmid, 78. Star Wars film franchise including an uncredited appearance in The Empire Strikes Back, other genre appearances in DragonslayerThe Awakening (a mummies horror film with Charlton Heston), The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles series and reprising his SW role in the animated Star Wars Rebels series.
  • Born August 11, 1959 Alan Rodgers. Author of Bone Music, a truly great take on the Robert Johnson myth. His “The Boy Who Came Back From the Dead” novelette won the Bram Stoker Award for Best Long Fiction, and was nominated for a World Fantasy Award, and he was editor of Night Cry in the mid Eighties. Bone Music is his only work available from the usual suspects. (Died 2014.)
  • Born August 11, 1961 Susan M. Garrett. She was a well-known and much liked writer, editor and publisher in many fandoms, but especially the Forever Knight community. (She also was active in Doctor Who and The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne fandoms. And no, I had no idea that the latter had a fandom given its short longevity.) She is perhaps best known for being invited to write a Forever Knight tie-in novel, Intimations of Mortality. (Died 2010.)
  • Born August 11, 1962 Brian Azzarello, 60. Comic book writer. First known crime series 100 Bullets, published by Vertigo. Writer of DC’s relaunched Wonder Woman series several years back. One of the writers in the Before Watchmen limited series. Co-writer with Frank Miller of the sequel to The Dark Knight Returns, The Dark Knight III: The Master Race.
  • Born August 11, 1964 Jim Lee, 58. Korean American comic-book artist, writer, editor, and publisher. Co-founder of Images Comics, now senior management at DC though he started at Marvel. Known for work on Uncanny X-MenPunisherBatmanSuperman and WildC.A.T.s.
  • Born August 11, 1965 Viola Davis, 57. Amanda ‘The Wall’ Waller in the first Suicide Squad film, and back again in The Suicide Squad; also appeared in The Andromeda Strain miniseries (2008), Threshold and Century City series, and the Solaris film.
  • Born August 11, 1976 Will Friedle, 46. Largely known as an actor with extensive genre voice work: Terry McGinnis aka the new Batman in Batman Beyond which Warner Animation now calls Batman of the Future, Peter Quill in The Guardians Of The Galaxy, and Kid Flash in Teen Titans Go! to name but a few of his roles.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • The Far Side shows where prelates go when they’re not looking at the Sistine Ceiling.

(11) SUPERHERO CREATOR. The BBC’s Outlook program reports on an artist who is “Creating a Puerto Rican superhero to save the world” at BBC Sounds.

Puerto Rican Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez grew up in the Bronx, New York. By the time he was 18 years old he’d lived in 22 different places, but one constant in his life was his love of comic books. Edgardo was a natural artist and storyteller and even at primary school he would write stories for the other children. He is now a highly successful graphic novelist and has created a series based on a female Puerto Rican superhero called La Borinqueña. Her mission? To fight for social justice and save the world from climate change. 

(12) CENSORING AN ANTI-CENSORSHIP ICON. In the summer “Banned Books” issue of Reason​, “’Fahrenheit 451′ Was Once Sanitized for Public Schools” discusses the school edition of Fahrenheit 451.

…Starting in 1967, publisher Ballantine Books produced a second version of the text for consumption by high schoolers, omitting supposedly offensive curse words and a reference to a drunk. This version became known as the “Bal-Hi” edition, for Ballantine High School, and for several years it was available concurrently with the original text. In 1973, Ballantine began publishing only the Bal-Hi version, and it continued doing so until Bradbury, who had not consented to the publication change, complained in 1979….

(13) ESCAPE THE PODIUM. Ted Gioia shares “My 10 Rules for Public Speaking” and most of them make a lot of sense. This one is not quite as intuitive to me as the others, so I’m repeating it here to help keep it in mind:

(4) Remember That the Audience Always Wants You to Succeed:

I’ve never met anyone who went to an event hoping to be bored and disappointed. The audience really, really wants you to succeed, and if you give them even the slightest chance at having a good time, they will cheer you on. 

Just understanding this takes away much of the fear of public speaking. Even better, this desire for success is contagious—and in both directions: When you radiate enjoyment, the audience feels it too. When the audience is having a good time, you do as well.

That’s a virtuous circle, and you want you get into it as soon as possible. You should try to find a way of signalling within your first minute in front of an audience that everyone will have a good time today. Often you will even see the relief on the faces of people in the crowd in that moment when they realize that your talk won’t be a kind of punishment or chastisement. They will be grateful—and you will be too.

(14) S. KOREAN MOON PROBE. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Reported in this week’s Nature journal, by this time next week, South Korea’s first lunar probe will be on its way to the Moon. The probe, Danuri, which means ‘enjoy the Moon’, should arrive at its destination by mid-December and orbit for a year…  Scientists in South Korea say the mission will pave the way for the country’s more ambitious plans to land on the Moon by 2030. Success for Danuri will secure future planetary exploration. “South Korea set for first Moon mission”.

(15) TIME TO CONSIDER HUMAN EXTINCTION. The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) has posted “Climate Endgame: Exploring catastrophic climate change scenarios”.

Scientists are usually rather measured in their proclamations even if they do think outside of the box. However, when it comes to climate change, the scientific community has not considered the ultra-extreme situation, a possible extinction level threat.

Now, https://www.pnas.org/doi/epdf/10.1073/pnas.2108146119  research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS) calls for the need to explore catastrophic climate scenarios. The proposed agenda covers four main questions: 1) What is the potential for climate change to drive mass extinction events? 2) What are the mechanisms that could result in human mass mortality and morbidity? 3)What are human societies’ vulnerabilities to climate-triggered risk cascades, such as from conflict, political instability, and systemic financial risk? 4) How can these multiple strands of evidence—together with other global dangers—be usefully synthesized into an“integrated catastrophe assessment”? It is time for the scientific community to grapple with the challenge of better understanding catastrophic climate change…

(16) MORE MORTAL. Warner Bros. dropped the trailer for Mortal Kombat Legends: Snow Blind.

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Andrew Porter.] “Goldilocks (Sci-Fi Short Film by Blake Simon)” on YouTube.

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

Pixel Scroll 9/3/17 The Alpha Ralpha Boulevard Of Broken Dreams

(1) WESTEROS IN FERMENT. John King Tarpinian found these vintage wines languishing on the shelf at Pier One Imports.

(2) THE BEST WINE YET. You’ll find the rest of Ted Gioia’s essay on Dandelion Wine at Conceptual Fiction.

These efforts reached their culmination in Bradbury’s ambitions for a big “Waukegan novel,” which he sent to his publisher at the end of 1956.   Years later, the writer’s wife Maggie would mention that Dandelion Wine was Bradbury’s favorite among his books—although the author himself was more coy.  “They are all my children.  You can’t pick favorites when it comes to children.”   But if you have any doubts about how closely Bradbury identifies with this work you need merely look at is protagonist Douglas Spaulding, whose very name makes clear that he is the author’s alter ego:  Bradbury’s middle name is Douglas, and his great-grandmother’s maiden name was Spaulding.   Here in Green Town, Illinois—the stand-in for Waukegan—we follow in this boy’s path during the summer of 1928.

(3) HOPS TO IT. Woodbridge, Virginia’s Heroic Ale Works has all of their beers branded as superhero characters.  They brewed Escape Velocity Ale for the Escape Velocity convention sponsored by the Museum fo Science Fiction, which was held in Washington between September 1-3. See all the beer labels at the link.

You’ve tasted the beers, now get to know the stories behind the characters in the brand new, original ‘Heroic Aleworks Presents’ comics created by the owners of Heroic Aleworks, featuring artwork by talented artists from around the world.

(4) DEL TORO. Deadline, in “Guillermo Del Toro’s ‘The Shape Of Water’ Shines Bright In Lido Embrace – Venice”, says the director’s new SFF movie received an enthusiastic response at an Italian festival:

Guillermo del Toro gave the Venice Film Festival press corps a giant hug this morning, while also tugging — hard — at heartstrings. The press is hugging back. The filmmaker’s lyrical period fairy tale The Shape Of Water was met with sustained applause (and a fair amount of tears) as the lights rose in the Sala Darsena earlier today. Reviews that have followed are glowing, and this afternoon’s press conference was slightly delayed when reporters wouldn’t stop hooting and hollering as the filmmaker and his cast took their spots on the dais.

(5) THE SHARKE BITES. Megan AM summarized her experience as a Shadow Clarke juror in “SFatigued”. A good friend sent me the link, asking for my help in identifying who she’s talking about here. Thanks, pal!

In my mind, it was the American commentary that became the strangest and most unexpected turn of events. Suddenly, people from different corners of the USian SF blogosphere–people who admitted they never cared about or even paid attention to the Clarke Award before–suddenly had a lot to say and feel about open criticism aimed at what is becoming a corporatized award process– it appearing to be an industry award, rather than the critical award it was originally intended to be– all things they knew nothing about and took no time to comprehend. These people had a lot to say, not because they cared about the Clarke, but because… they could sense that some Sharke criticism might be aimed at their faves. And rightly so.

These people had a lot to say because they are not stupid. They are intelligent people who know exactly why something that should have nothing to do with them might feel a little bit threatening: They know their faves are not actually amazing, that they are actually inherently problematic, superficial, simplistic, dumbed down, and NOT award worthy. They know it because it is just that apparent. (And hardly worth the word count the Sharke jury spent on those books). They did not want to face it. Because they need it to feel safe. (And I get that. I really do. This is, after all, an important social sphere for many people.)

But the USian defensiveness was palpable. The stale, conservative watering hole for Hollywood Tonight-style SF news updates chronicled the Sharke process while its commenters huffed and puffed and said, “not gonna even waste my breaf on it” (but still did). Massively successful workshop authors who don’t seem to read much more than other massively successful workshop authors unloaded words about how readers like me will never appreciate the art of their simplicity (and then back-patted each other for how comforting and original they all are). (Comforting AND original! In the same sentence!) The young, white, feminist LGBTQ contingent–MY PEOPLE, goddammit–missed the big picture, as usual, because they benefit from the back-scratching, because they’re afraid to demand more of publishers and writers (because they’re afraid to demand more of themselves).

(6) SF IN POLAND. Marcin Klak, the Fandom Rover, in his Polcon report, tells who won the Janusz A. Zajdel Award:

Janusz A. Zajdel Award

The ceremony of this most prestigious Polish SF award was very simple this year. It did not include any artistic performances and was in fact just an announcement of the winners. Still, as each year, it was a very important part of the con. The results are as follows:

Best Novel

Krzysztof Piskorski — Czterdziesci i cztery (Forty and four)

Best Short Story

Lukasz Orbitowski and Michal Cetnarowski — Wywiad z Boruta (Interview with Boruta devil)

(7) FUR AND FEATHERS OVERRATED? The Guardian reports an Interesting study on the use of anthropomorphic animals in children’s books — “Children’s books with humans have greater moral impact than animals, study finds”.

Forget the morals that millennia of children have learned from the Hare and the Tortoise and the Fox and the Crow: Aesop would have had a greater effect with his fables if he’d put the stories into the mouths of human characters, at least according to new research from the University of Toronto’s Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE).

In the Canadian study, researchers read one of three stories to almost 100 children between four and six years old: Mary Packard’s Little Raccoon Learns to Share, in which anthropomorphic animals learn that sharing makes you feel good; a version of the story in which the animal illustrations were replaced with human characters; or a control book about seeds.

(8) TODAY’S DAY

Pet Rock Day

Launched in the 1970s by advertising executive Gary Dahl, the pet rock was an antithesis to those living pets in need of regular care. It did, however, come with a mean “attack” mode. For a mere $3.95 people could adopt their very own rock, supplied on a bed of hay in an well-ventilated box. Like all things, pet rocks are more expensive these days, but you could always catch a wild one for free – just remember that undomesticated rocks may be more difficult to handle.

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • September 3, 1976 — Viking 2 lander touched down on Mars at Utopia Planitia.

(10) COMICS SECTION. John King Tarpinian found today’s Close To Home is a moving experience.

(11) DRAGON CON ART SHOW. The Daily Dragon tells us the winners of the “2017 Dragon Con Art Show Awards”.

(12) WONDER OF THE WORLD. The Daily Dragon also covered “Life, Lust, and Laughs with John Barrowman”.

From his sparkling, shining star–filled entrance to his final innuendo, John Barrowman had the 7PM capacity crowd in the Hilton Grand Ballroom alternately in stitches and in awe. No one was safe from his star power.  His costume designers from Elhoffer Design were the first to feel his special brand of love, being unwittingly pulled on stage to celebrate his Wonder Woman outfit, complete with sparkling cape, tiara, and booty shorts. Their designs for Barrowman never cease to shock and amaze.

(13) DRAGON AWARDS CLIPPINGS. Here are miscellaneous reports and reactions to today’s Dragon Awards announcement.

More than 8,000 fans cast ballots for Dragon Award winners among 88 properties in 15 categories covering the full range of fiction, comics, television, movies, video gaming and tabletop gaming.  Winners were announced on Sept. 3 at Dragon Con, which runs September 1 to September 4, 2017 in Atlanta.

In all seriousness, congrats to Cory Doctorow on his win for “Walkaway”. The sequel to “A Place Outside The Wild” — “A Place Called Hope” — should be out in six weeks or so, and then I’ll be starting work on the follow-up to “Fade”, “Night’s Black Agents.”

Congratulations to the administrators of the Dragon Awards. In just two short years, you have ascended to the pinnacle and I feel you’ve only just got started. There may not be one of those incredible Dragon Awards sitting on my mantle (yet) but I am honored and humbled by the fact that I am, and will always be, a Dragon Award Finalist.

If I was the Dragon Award organisers I’d be happy with the results. Mainly safe choices that avoided rewarding poor behaviour.

First, I’d like to congratulate all of the nominees for the Dragon Awards. I had friends, both from cyberspace and meatspace, on the ballot. I’m sorry they didn’t win.

And now, I have a confession to make.

I didn’t vote this year. I didn’t vote for the Gemmells either.  Before anyone starts screaming about hypocrisy and double standards, I had a very good reason for not voting.

I didn’t read any of the nominees.

I’m not going to vote on a ballot when I haven’t read at least some of the titles under consideration.

  • John Scalzi had this to say:

  • Annalee Flower Horne condemned the proceedings out of hand, as did Lady Business’ Renay, and D. Franklin.

  • Here are assorted other tweets:

(14) KAYLON IN COSTUME. At ScreenRant, “Mark Jackson Says The Orville Is For ‘Disgruntled Star Trek Fans’”.

Seth McFarlane’s new TV show The Orville is about to hit TV screens with a stellar cast including Scott Grimes, Victor Garber, Adrianne Palicki and British actor Mark Jackson. …

So how did you film your scenes? Did you pull an Andy Serkis in a motion capture suit?

No it was me in that suit, and Seth specifically wanted that. When he was doing the Ted films, he was there giving the lines and he wanted that for this show too. I have never done anything like that before, it brings its own challenges, but to get it right you have to be in the suit and match what they’re doing. What was nice about the show is that it has a retro feel, which kind of harks back to the original Star Trek with the colors and innocence. I think Isaac is classic but not like C-3PO, even though at first I thought maybe he could be like that. He’s very fluid, he’s an efficient machine rather than being rigid.

How is Seth to work with? Is it anything like you have experienced before?

He has a real respect for acting and the craft of acting, he’s a man of many talent who is very supportive. It’s very funny when you meet such a comedic genius because you think they’re going to be really funny all the time, and then you feel like you have to be funny too, and it escalates into this shit show of funniness, but he’s not like that. He’s very bright, which can be quite intimidating, and knows exactly what he wants for the show, so is good at articulating that. We actually had a wrap party a few days ago at Seth’s house up in Beverly Hills, which is obviously fantastic, but the man knows how to throw parties. He turned his entire garden, I think he’s renovating at the moment so he could, into a spaceship bar, it was extraordinary. All of the waiting staff were done up like aliens in full prosethetics and there was a full ice sculpture of a spaceship as you walked in. That was very Hollywood, I feel.

(15) UP ABOVE THE WORLD SO HIGH. She’s back — “Record-breaking U.S. astronaut and crew back on Earth”.

NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson and two crewmates made a parachute touchdown in Kazakhstan on Saturday, capping a career-total 665 days in orbit, a U.S. record.

Whitson, 57, ended an extended stay of more than nine months aboard the International Space Station, a $100 billion research laboratory that flies about 250 miles (400 km) above Earth.

”I feel great,” the biochemist said during an inflight interview on Monday. “I love working up here. It’s one of the most gratifying jobs I’ve ever had.”

During her third mission aboard the station, Whitson spent much of her time on experiments, including studies of cancerous lung tissue and bone cells. She also completed four spacewalks, adding to her six previous outings, to set a record for the most time spent spacewalking by a woman.

(16) NO WONDER. Professor Marston and the Wonder Women is a biopic about the creator of the comic and his marital relationship. In theaters October 13.

Details the unconventional life of Dr. William Marston, the Harvard psychologist and inventor who helped invent the modern lie detector test and created Wonder Woman in 1941. Marston was in a polyamorous relationship with his wife Elizabeth, a psychologist and inventor in her own right, and Olive Byrne, a former student who became an academic. This relationship was key to the creation of Wonder Woman, as Elizabeth and Olive’s feminist ideals were ingrained in the character from her creation. Marston died of skin cancer in 1947, but Elizabeth and Olive remained a couple and raised their and Marston’s children together. The film is said to focus on how Marston dealt with the controversy surrounding Wonder Woman’s creation.

 

(17) GET OUT OF JAIL FLEE. Infinity Chamber will be released September 15.

A man trapped in an automated prison must outsmart a computer in order to escape and try and find his way back to the outside world that may already be wiped out

 

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Carl Slaughter, JJ, David Langford, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]