Pixel Scroll 1/18/23 Scroll Me Once, I Am The Pixel, Scroll Me Twice, I Am The File

(1) RIGHTS ACQUIRED. A novel George R.R. Martin co-authored with Daniel Abraham and the late Gardner Dozois has been optioned for a movie. Variety has the details: “George R.R. Martin, Exile Content Pact on ‘Hunter’s Run’ Film Rights”.

…The sci-fi tale is the only one among Martin’s body of work that features a Latino lead, making it a natural fit for Exile Content which has produced a slew of content in Spanish and English.

Based on the sci-fi novel co-penned by Martin, Gardner Dozois and Daniel Abraham (“The Expanse”), “Hunter’s Run” follows Ramón Espejo who ekes out a living as a day laborer on a distant planet where he finds his living conditions no better off than what he left on planet Earth. He escapes but finds himself on the run for the murder of an interplanetary diplomat….

The novel itself took thirty years to finish, for reasons explained in the Wikipedia: “Hunter’s Run”.

…In 1976, science fiction author and editor Dozois conceived of a story beginning with a man floating in darkness. Dozois conceived of Ramón’s name, ethnicity (feeling that Hispanic protagonists were underrepresented in science fiction) and his basic situation, but the story did not proceed far. The following year, while working as a guest instructor at a Catholic women’s college at the invitation of Martin, his friend and colleague, Dozois read the story out loud. Martin thought the story was interesting and waited for Dozois to finish it, but Dozois found himself unable to do so. In 1981, Dozois suggested that Martin continue the story instead, which he did, bringing the story to the beginning of the chase sequence. Martin hit on the idea of expanding the story to a 500-page novel exploring the ecosystem of São Paulo..

After his writing on the story stalled in 1982, Martin handed it back to Dozois, suggesting they alternate working on it until it was done. However, Dozois was unable to come up with any ideas on how to proceed and the book remained in his desk drawer until 2002, when he and Martin decided to bring the story to the attention of a third author, Daniel Abraham. Abraham completed the story, and titled Shadow Twin, it was published by Subterranean as a novella in 2004. Dozois then went back and reworked the manuscript into a 380-page novel, renamed Hunter’s Run, for publication in 2007….

(2) STAY TUNED. Zack Snyder’s own longtime-in-hatching project Rebel Moon is finally on the way says The Hollywood Reporter: “Rebel Moon Netflix Release Date: Zack Snyder Movie Hits in December”.

Netflix has set a date for Zack Snyder’s Rebel Moon. The space epic will bow Dec. 22 on the streaming service, Netflix revealed Wednesday as part of a broader look at its 2023 slate.

Snyder originally developed Rebel Moon as a potential Star Wars feature more than a decade ago, before Disney acquired Lucasfilm in 2012. “This is me growing up as an Akira Kurosawa fan, a Star Wars fan,” Snyder told The Hollywood Reporter in July 2021. “It’s my love of sci-fi and a giant adventure. My hope is that this also becomes a massive IP and a universe that can be built out.”…

(3) NOT AGAINST THE LAW? [Item by Daniel Dern.] Behind a paywall, more from the New York Times on the not-dead indie romance author: “A Fake Death in Romancelandia”

… She had not heard again from the police and sounded confident that she would not face charges, saying the family had not received substantial donations after her online death announcement; she had offered the detectives access to her bank accounts to prove it. She did admit feeling remorse for the fans who had grieved her loss.

“I’m sorry for their mourning, but from a legal standpoint, I did nothing wrong,” she said. “Morally, I might have done something wrong. But legally, there’s nothing wrong.”

(4) WHAT IF YOUR BOOK IS ALREADY INSIDE THE PICKET LINE? Dan Kois, a mainstream author, discusses the “HarperCollins strike: why publishing my first novel has me deeply conflicted” at Slate.

Today, my first novel is being published. It’s the culmination of seven years of work and, uh, a large number of years of dreaming of writing a novel. Publication day for a debut novel can be a little overwhelming, I’m told—you’ve got all those TV news producers begging you for interviews. (They haven’t called me yet, but I assume they will soon.) Overall, though, pub day ought to be a time of joy, if slightly nervous joy: A thing you made, and care deeply about, is finally making its way into the world!

But for me, and for a lot of other authors this winter, publication day is feeling a little bittersweet. That’s because we’re being published by HarperCollins.

About 200 HarperCollins publishing employees, primarily younger assistants and associates, have been on strike since November. Their demands are not outlandish and reflect the issues facing junior employees across publishing: They want the company’s minimum starting salary increased from $45,000 to $50,000. They want the publisher to address diversity issues at the company. They also want to ensure all eligible employees are in the union.

… So what do owe the young striking employees of HarperCollins? Should I be delivering public statements about my support for the union? Sure, that’s easy. But is that enough? Isn’t the success of my book also success for a company that’s currently behaving in a way I can’t agree with? Should I be withholding my labor and refusing to promote my book entirely?

No, said Rachel Kambury, a striking associate editor at HarperCollins. “That’s not your responsibility,” she said. “We don’t want to harm HarperCollins authors.” Indeed, the striking workers aren’t asking customers to boycott Harper titles, and have even created a Bookshop.org affiliate page where you can buy Harper books (here’s a great example!) while also contributing to the union’s strike fund, which supports workers who haven’t gotten paid for two months now….

And Publishers Weekly posted a lengthy article about the strike, the company’s intransigence, and its prospective effects on the industry: “Who Wins in the HarperCollins Union Labor Dispute?”

As the HarperCollins labor dispute rolls into a new year, the company’s unionized employee strike is now the longest in the union’s more than 80-year history at the top publisher. Since the initial employee walkout on November 10, the dispute has caught the attention of all publishing sectors, with many anticipating the outcome as a test case for how labor unions could change business operations. But for many publishing industry veterans, whether that change is positive or negative remains to be seen.

Indeed, some smaller independent publishers—mostly outside of New York City—are concerned that the public nature of the strike, with wage demands made public, is raising unrealistic financial expectations. Smaller publishing operations can’t afford to match wages at the Big Five publishing companies. Moreover, despite the double-digit profit margins that the publicly-traded publishers have posted in recent years, publishing is generally a low margin business. Sales gains during the initial years of the COVID-19 outbreak notwithstanding, the industry typically has marginal growth in annual sales, and “flat is the new up” has long been an unofficial business slogan. A lengthy, very public strike only adds to the industry’s challenges, with many agents and authors wanting the dispute to be resolved quickly and immediately so the industry can get back to business.

As of January 18, unionized employees have missed 50 work days, amid numerous stories about HarperCollins’ low pay, particularly for entry-level employees….

(5) MARVEL MOVIES RETURNING TO CHINA SCREENS. “China ends de facto ban on Marvel films after more than three years” reports the Guardian.

China has ended its de facto ban on Marvel films, with superhero flicks Black Panther: Wakanda Forever and Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania both locking in surprise release dates, after a three-and-a-half-year gap that has cost Disney hundreds of millions in ticket sales.

The films will be released in February, after the lunar new year, marking the first Marvel releases in the world’s second-largest theatrical market since Avengers: Endgame in 2019.

Foreign film releases are approved or denied by regulators at the China Film Administration, which is part of the Chinese Communist party’s propaganda department. The CFA routinely blocks the release of foreign films to maintain censorship and protect the domestic film industry.

The CFA has never explained why Marvel films have been blocked since mid-2019….

…The readmittance of Marvel films comes as the US and China work to repair relations, and amid other signs of China’s government easing its hardline approaches on the private sector.

(6) KINSMAN HISTORY MAKER. The Tribune-Chronicle in Warren, Ohio ran a profile about a famous local author: “Valley author found success in the stars”.

Edmond Moore Hamilton was a popular author of science fiction stories and novels through the mid-20th century. During his career, he wrote more than 30 science fiction novels and 400 stories.

… On Dec. 31, 1946, Hamilton married fellow science fiction author and screenwriter Leigh Brackett in San Gabriel, California, and in 1951 moved with her to a farmhouse in Kinsman, where they worked side by side for a quarter-century, but rarely shared the task of authorship….

(7) MEMORY LANE.

1993 [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

I am not making the assumption that all of us here love Terry Pratchett’s Discworld fiction but I deeply, madly do. At forty one novels and a number of related works including the Hugo nominated The Science of Discworld, there’s a lot of great reading to be had.

And let’s not forget a music adaptation by Steeleye Span of one of his novels. As the Green Man reviewer says, “It may be an example of retrospective inevitability now that it has actually happened in the form of the Wintersmith CD, however.  In any case, the end result is one that is overwhelmingly a credit to all concerned; worthy of the names involved and their reputations.” 

And of course, Discworld has food.  Tonight, I’ll offer up one of my favorite quotes by him on that subject. Don’t worry — there’s more food to follow by him. 

Our quote this Scroll is from “Theatre of Cruelty”, a Discworld short story that Terry Pratchett wrote in 1993. It has an interesting history as it was first written for W. H. Smith Bookcase magazine and then was slightly changed before being published in the program of OryCon 15, and finally in The Wizards of Odd, a compilation of fantasy short stories.

Pratchett allowed it to be published sort as a feral thing online, so you can find the full text, well, pretty much everywhere. Here’s a nicely formatted copy.

And here’s the excerpt from it that I promised. 

There is such a thing as an edible, nay delicious, meat pie floater, its mushy peas of just the right consistency, its tomato sauce piquant in its cheekiness, its pie filling tending even towards named parts of the animal. There are platonic burgers made of beef instead of cow lips and hooves. There are fish ‘n’ chips where the fish is more than just a white goo lurking at the bottom of a batter casing and you can’t use the chips to shave with. There are hot dog fillings which have more in common with meat than mere pinkness, whose lucky consumers don’t apply mustard because that would spoil the taste. It’s just that people can be trained to prefer the other sort, and seek it out. It’s as if Machiavelli had written a cookery book.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 18, 1882 A.A. Milne. Oh, Pooh has to count as genre, doesn’t he? A talking, honey loving bear? Certainly that an exhibition entitled “Winnie-the-Pooh: Exploring a Classic” appeared at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London shows his place in our culture. There’s also Once on a Time, a rather charming fairy tale by him. And though it isn’t remotely genre, I wholeheartedly recommend The Red House Mystery, a Country House Mystery that’s most excellent! (Died 1956.)
  • Born January 18, 1932 Robert Anton Wilson. Conspiracy nut or SF writer? Or both? I think I first encountered him in something Geis wrote about him in SFR in the Eighties. Schrödinger’s Cat Trilogy is just weird and might or might not be a sequel to The Illuminatus! Trilogy. But the absolutely weirdest thing he did I think is an interview titled Robert Anton Wilson On Finnegans Wake and Joseph Campbell. Yes, he frothed at the mouth on Campbell and Joyce in it! (Died 2007.)
  • Born January 18, 1937 Dick Durock. He was best known for playing Swamp Thing in Swamp Thing and The Return of Swamp Thing and the following television series which ran for three seasons. His only other genre appearances were in The Nude Bomb (also known as The Return of Maxwell Smart) and “The First” of The Incredible Hulk. He shows up in Die Hard with a Vengeance in a subway scene. No, it’s not genre, I just like that film. (Died 2009.)
  • Born January 18, 1943 Paul Freeman, 80. Best remembered I’d say for being the evil René Belloq in Raiders of the Lost Ark. He also played Professor Moriarty in Without a Clue which had Michael Caine as Holmes and Kingsley as Watson. He played Frederick Selous on two episodes of The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles. His last genre appearance was the new The Man Who Fell to Earth series.
  • Born January 18, 1953 Pamela Dean, 70. Her best novel is I think Tam Lin though one could make an argument for Juniper, Gentian, and Rosemary which Windling claims is her favorite fantasy novel. Her Secret Country trilogy is a great deal of fun reading. Much of her short stories are set in the Liavek shared universe created by Emma Bull and Will Shetterly. Alll of these are now available on all major digital platforms. According to the files sitting in my Dropbox folder, there’s eight volumes to the series. They’re wonderful reading. End of plug.
  • Born January 18, 1955 Kevin Costner, 68. Some of his genre films are Robin Hood: Prince of ThievesWaterworldThe Postman and the recent Dragonfly. Bull Durham is one of my go-to films when I want to feel good. He also was Jonathan Kent in both Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. On the baseball side of things, I really like his Field of Dreams — his acting in it as Ray Kinsella is quite excellent. Not quite as superb as he was as “Crash” Davis in Bull Durham but damned good.

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • Bizarro shares the latest in alien transportation.

(10) LET THERE BE MOMENTARY LIGHT. “Inside the nuclear fusion breakthrough that could be a step to unlimited clean energy in the distant future” CBS’ 60 Minutes has posted their coverage as a text article in addition to the video recording.

…Last month, the nearest star to the Earth was in California. In a laboratory, for the first time, the world’s largest lasers forced atoms of hydrogen to fuse together in the same kind of energy producing reaction that fires the sun. It lasted less than a billionth of a second. But, after six decades of toil and failure, the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory proved it could be done. If fusion becomes commercial power one day, it would be endless and carbon free. In other words, it would change human destiny. As you’ll see, there’s far to go. But after December’s breakthrough, we were invited to tour the lab and meet the team that brought star power down to Earth.

Uncontrolled fusion is easy–mastered so long ago the films are in black and white. Fusion is what a hydrogen bomb does, releasing energy by forcing atoms of hydrogen to fuse together. What’s been impossible is harnessing the fires of Armageddon into something useful. 

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory helps maintain nuclear weapons and experiments with high-energy physics. An hour east of San Francisco, we met Livermore’s director, Kim Budil, in the lab that made history, the National Ignition Facility. 

Kim Budil: The National Ignition Facility is the world’s largest, most energetic laser. It was built starting in the 1990s, to create conditions in the laboratory that had previously only been accessible in the most extreme objects in the universe, like the center of giant planets, or the sun, or in operating nuclear weapons. And the goal was to really be able to study that kind of very high-energy, high-density condition in a lot of detail….

(11) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Honest Game Trailers: High on Life”, Fandom Games is not just honest, but brutally honest.

…From Rick and Morty creator and alleged domestic abuser Justin Roiland comes a brand new video game that’s exactly the thing that you would expect from him. It’s a space adventure where every joke goes on two minutes too long – High on Life.

Witness what happens when Justin Roiland decides to bring his vision to life in game and experience a world that feels like a cheap knockoff of a thing made by the same guy… 

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

Pixel Scroll 12/28/22 Goodnight, Barsoom

(1) YOU’RE INVITED TO THE PARTY. File 770’s 45th anniversary celebration begins soon after the turn of the year. The 45th birthday of the fanzine is on January 6, and the 15th anniversary of the blog is on January 15. Is there something you can contribute to the occasion? It doesn’t have to be about File 770 – a book review, a parody filksong, a guest opinion post, a piece about your favorite Korean TV show – anything in the realm of sff and fandom that you’re passionate about. Contact me at mikeglyer (at) cs (dot) com.

(2) BIG TICKET ITEMS. AbeBooks’ list of ten “Most expensive sales in 2022” kicks off with the nonfiction volume I Quattro Libri dell Architettura by Andrea Palladio in first place with a $57,750 price tag. Genre works occupy the fifth and sixth position.

#5 — The Time Machine by H.G. Wells – $30,500

Published by Henry Holt, this is the 1895 first edition of The Time Machine with the author’s name misspelled as H.S. Wells on the title page. This copy is signed by Wells just below the names of the previous owners. The Time Machine was the author’s first novel and has become a cornerstone of science fiction with its time traveling theme.

#6 — The Tour of the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne – $30,000

Better known as Around the World in 80 Days, this is the first American printing of Verne’s story. The book was rebound in 1952 in green calf leather. It was owned by Mrs. Nellie W. Pillsbury. One of Nellie’s daughters, Nellie Ruth King, was the mother of the author Stephen King. The book was accompanied by a handwritten note from Verne, signed and dated October 1883, where he describes two upcoming titles. In addition, a handwritten note from American author Nellie Bly is tipped into the book. Inspired by Verne, Bly made her own trip around the globe and wrote a book called Around the World in Seventy-Two Days.

(3) NEW TEST RULE. Beginning January 5, the U.S. is instituting a new requirement for travelers from China: “US to require travelers from China to show negative Covid-19 test result before flight” reports CNN.

The United States will require all travelers from China to show a negative Covid-19 test result before flying to the country as Beijing’s rapid easing of Covid-19 restrictions leads to a surge in cases.

Passengers flying to the US from China will need to get a test no more than two days before flying, federal health officials said, and present proof of the negative test to their airline before boarding.

The tests can be either a PCR test or an antigen self-test administered through a telehealth service.

The requirement will apply both to passengers flying directly to the United States from China as well to passengers flying through popular third-country gateways, including Seoul, Toronto and Vancouver.

Passengers who test positive more than 10 days before their flight can provide documentation of their recovery in lieu of a negative test result.

The new rules take effect at 12:01 a.m. ET on January 5….

(4) FIRE RECOVERY FUNDRAISER. [Item by Steven H Silver.] Lisa Garrison, who has long been active in MarCon, has run Windycon’s children’s programming for several years, and chaired the 2020 NASFIC in Columbus/Online suffered a devastating house fire on December 23 and lost everything, including her pets (although Lisa and her children are okay.)  A GoFundMe has been set up: “Fire Recovery Fund Lisa Garrison & Family”. At this writing $28,594 of the $35,000 goal has been donated.

….They lost their house in a fire early this morning and have lost everything, including their beloved pets. I am heartbroken and doing all that I can to help ease the loss, but I know that many people far and wide love Lisa, Seamus, and Jade, and will also want to help. We would love if you chip in to help them get on their feet, and try to pick up the pieces after this horrific loss. God bless you and Merry Christmas!

We are so very thankful for the immense outpouring of support, but as the days pass the amount of items that were lost continues to grow, and the need is so very great. Lisa & the kids are overwhelmed with gratitude from their community, but I know that they will need as much help as we can all give them!

(5) MIKE CAREY Q&A. Moid over at Media Death Cult has an interview with Mike Carey.

Mike Carey (The Girl With All The Gifts, X-Men, Lucifer, Hellblazer) is an English comic, novel and screenplay writer who bloody loves the end of the world.

(6) MARK YOUR CALENDARS. Sharon Lee and Steve Miller of the Liaden Universe® chart the first half of 2023 for fans – what’s being published, and where you can meet them.

January 3, 2023 Chicks in Tank Tops publication date.  Edited by Jason Cordova, with brand new stories from Esther Friesner, Kevin Ikenberry, Jody Lynn Nye, Joelle Presby, Marisa Wolf, Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, and?  More!  No, honestly, there’s a whole lot of good reading in this book, and you don’t want to miss out.  Available from your favorite bookstore.

January 5, 2023:  Rembrandt’s Station by Christie Meierz releases, a happy fact that will be celebrated by a Zoom launch party on January 7.  Steve and I will be there, and hope that you will, too.  Party details here

February 17-19, 2023:  Boskone 60.  GOHs: Nalo Hopkinson, Vito Ngai, Tui T. Sutherland, Dave Clement.  Steve Miller and Sharon Lee will be attending in person after a several year gap.  We cannot yet reveal our schedules, but we can say that we will be reading from Salvage Right, the 100th Lee and Miller collaboration; participating in a few panels, and hosting a kaffeeklatsch.  Hope to see you there.  Here’s your link to register

February 28, 2023:  The anniversary re-issue of the classic Liaden Regency, Scout’s Progress, with a new and exciting cover by Sam Kennedy, and! a new foreword by the authors, releases from All the Usual Suspects.

Looking a little further down the line — April 28-30, 2023:  Heliosphere 2023.  GOHs: Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, David M. Mattingly.  Registration is open and though it is a thought over four months away, we urge you to register now.  Heliosphere is a small con and depends on its pre-registrations.  Here’s your link.

And, going way, way out, now — July 4, 2023Salvage Right, the 25th novel set in the Liaden Universe® created by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller back in the last century, releases from all of your favorite bookstores.

(7) WHO KNEW? Flying Cars and Food Pills is Steve Carper’s Retrofuturism site. Among its many offerings is an article about an atomic bomb mystery story published during WWII that the FBI investigated – not the Cleve Cartmill story you already know about, but “The Last Secret” by Dana Chambers.

…If the government investigated Cartmill’s story, then why didn’t they spot The Last Secret? They did. The only difference is that the mystery world doesn’t have the obsessive fan grapevine that the f&sf world has and had.

The government’s virtually unknown actions are laid out in a wonderfully informative paper by Patrick S. Washburn presented at the Annual Meeting of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (July 2-5, 1988): “The Office of Censorship’s Attempt to Control Press Coverage of the Atomic Bomb during World War II.”…

(8) GNOME PRESS. Steve Carper also has a site devoted to an early sff publisher: “Gnome Press: The Complete History and Bibliography”. Here’s an excerpt from the introduction.

Hard to believe today, but before World War II not a single mainstream publisher in America would publish a genre science fiction or fantasy novel. H. G. Wells had once been so fanatically popular that publishers would pirate his works if they couldn’t get them legitimately, but the coming of the pulp magazine era destroyed the reputation of the field. Science fiction was written by subliterates for subliterates, or so went the opinion of the literary world….

A few science fiction fans saw a niche. They pooled what seems today like pitifully small amounts of money and started small presses. There was Shasta and Prime Press and the New Collector’s Group and Fantasy Press and Hadley Publishing and the Buffalo Book Company and many more.

Perhaps the most ambitious, the most professional, the most forward thinking, the most successful – all attributes that the acolytes of the other presses will forever dispute – was brought into being as The Gnome Press, Inc. Martin L. Greenberg, who must always be carefully introduced as no relation to the anthologist Martin H. Greenberg, wanted to do more than resurrect older stories from their living death in browning pulp magazines – although he did much of that, very successfully; he wanted to make modern science fiction and fantasy part of the modern world of publishing….

And another excerpt from “The History of Gnome Press”:

… Greenberg had no experience in publishing, especially with regards to the printing the book and getting it out the door function, far more important for a small press in 1948 than any other aspect of the job. He turned to David A. Kyle, who essentially grew up in fandom, reading the pulps from his early teens, and turning into a letter hack, fanzine publisher, founder of fan groups, and all-around friend of everybody in New York fandom, somewhat like being a music junkie in 1967 San Francisco….

(9) DILLONS AND THE SPOKEN WORD. Artist and designer John Coulthart chronicles the album covers produced by a couple who were among sff’s most famous artists: “The Dillons at Caedmon”. The post includes many images.

There’s a lot you could write about illustrators Leo and Diane Dillon. They were very prolific for a start, creating many book covers and interior illustrations in a variety of styles and different media. They also maintained a long-running association with Harlan Ellison whose praise for the pair was never less than fulsome. Like Bob Pepper and other versatile illustrators, they created art for album covers as well as books, with regular commissions from Caedmon Records, a label that specialises in spoken-word recordings….

(10) MEMORY LANE.

[By Cat Eldridge.] Terry Pratchett statue

There is apparently to be a statue of Terry Pratchett. Or so it is thought. So the sculptor, Paul Kirby, announced on his site in 2016: “I am delighted that Salisbury City Council has given the thumbs up to the proposal of a bronze statue of Sir Terry Pratchett for the city.  Designs and plans can now progress to the next stage.  I am proud to be the chosen artist to create this piece and very much look forward to sculpting Terry. I hope the end result will be an unsentimental and a happy depiction of the author, which celebrates his achievements both literary and philanthropic and brings pride to the people of Salisbury.” 

Let me show you the proposed statue. The sketch below until recently (I’ll explain that in a minute) was all that existed of the idea. It was to be crowdfunded according to the sculptor and that really, really didn’t happen. But then hundred thousand dollar statues generally need government and foundation backing, don’t they? 

The campaign had received the enthusiastic support of Pratchett’s family, as well as his friend and fellow author Neil Gaiman. That however was six years ago as I noted above and until this year, not a word more we heard about it. Is it moving forward? Who knows? 

However the concept of a seven foot-and- a-half statue has turned into one solitary bronze bust that you can see below. According to the news stories, that’s all the sculptor has completed in six years as “he said getting the expression right was especially hard, trying to portray Pratchett as not unhappy, but not smiling too much.” Left absolutely unsaid was if funding had been raised to do the statue itself. My guess? If it had been raised, it’d been shouted from here to Discworld that it had. 

For now, it’s safe to say that no date has been announced for a statue going up, nor has any government body or foundation committed to funding, not even the Pratchett people themselves which is curious indeed.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 28, 1913 Charles MaxwellHe makes the Birthday List for being Virgil Earp in “Spectre of the Gun”, a Trek story that opinions are divided on.  He also appeared in My Favorite Martian’s “An Old Friend of the Family” as the character Jakobar. His longest running genre role was as the Radio Announcer on Gilligan’s Island for which he was largely uncredited until late in that series. Interestingly he had six appearances playing six different characters on Science Fiction Theatre. (Died 1993.)
  • Born December 28, 1922 Stan Lee. Summarizing his career is quite beyond my abilities. He created and popularized Marvel Comics in a way that company is thought to be the creation of Stan Lee in a way that DC isn’t thought if of having of having a single creator. He co-created the Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, the X-Men, Iron Man, Thor, the Hulk,  Daredevil, Doctor Strange, Black Panther, Scarlet Witch and Ant-Man, an impressive list by any measure. And it’s hardly the full list. I see he’s won Eisner and Kirby Awards but no sign of a Hugo. Is that correct? (Died 2018.)
  • Born December 28, 1932 Nichelle Nichols. Uhura on Trek. She reprised her character in Star Trek: The Motion PictureStar Trek II: The Wrath of KhanStar Trek III: The Search for SpockStar Trek IV: The Voyage HomeStar Trek V: The Final Frontier and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. Other film SF roles included Ruana in Tarzan’s Deadly Silence with Ron Ely as Tarzan, High Priestess of Pangea in The Adventures of Captain Zoom in Outer Space, Oman in Surge of Power: The Stuff of Heroes and Mystic Woman in American Nightmares. Other series appearances have been as Lieutenant Uhura and additional voices in the animated Trek, archive footage of herself in the “Trials and Tribble-ations” DS9 episode and as Captain Nyota Uhura In Star Trek: Of Gods and Men which definitely isn’t canon. (Died 2022.)
  • Born December 28, 1934 Maggie Smith, 88. First genre role was as Theis in Clash of the Titans though she’s better known as Minerva McGonagall in the Harry Potter film franchise. She also played Linnet Oldknow in From Time to Time and voiced Miss Shepherd, I kid you not, in two animated Gnomes films.
  • Born December 28, 1942 Eleanor Arnason, 80. She won the Otherwise Award and the Mythopoeic Award for A Woman of the Iron People and also won the Gaylactic Spectrum Award for Best Short Fiction for “Dapple”.  She’s been a WisCon Guest of Honor. I wholeheartedly recommend her Mammoths of the Great Plains story collection, which like almost all of her fiction, is available at the usual digital suspects. 
  • Born December 28, 1945 George Zebrowski, 77. He won the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best Science Fiction Novel for Brute Forces. He’s married to Pamela Sargent with whom he has co-written a number of novels, including Trek novels. He was an editor of The Bulletin of the Science Fiction Writers of America.
  • Born December 28, 1970 Elaine Hendrix, 52. I found a Munsters film I didn’t know about (big fan I am, yes) and she’s Marilyn Munster in it: The Munsters’ Scary Little Christmas. She later was Gadget Model 2 (G2) in Inspector Gadget 2. (Anyone watch these?) And she’s Mary in the animated Kids vs Monsters. 

(12) COMICS SECTION.

  • Bizarro records a superhero’s visit to his tailor.

(13) EYE TO EYE. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] A new art exhibition in China juxtaposes works by H.R. Giger and Hajime Sorayama—two very different futuristic artists. It will be at UCAA Lab in Beijing through 19 February 19, 2023. “‘H.R. Giger X Sorayama: Approaching’ Is a Must-See Exhibition for Science Fiction Lovers” at Hypebeast.

H.R. Giger and Hajime Sorayama grew up on opposite ends of the earth and equally possessed a starkly different view on the promises of technology. Giger, whose monstrous machines would characteristically be tied to the Alien franchise, presented a haunting vision of the distant future. Whereas, Sorayama continues to create erotically-charged robots that oscillate between human and machine, reality and fantasy.

NANZUKA worked with COEXIST and UCCA Lab in Beijing to present an enthralling new exhibition juxtaposing the work of the two legendary artists. H.R. Giger X Sorayama: Approaching features 45 works by each figure from the 1960s to the present day. The show’s layout was inspired by an underground ant colony, where visitors will be pitted amongst a series of rooms — each presenting a duality of notions….

(14) TZ MARATHON. Get in the zone! SYFY Wire has everything you need to know: “SYFY’s 2022 New Year’s ‘Twilight Zone’ marathon is here”.

It’s that time of year again — time to cross over into The Twilight Zone … and stay there for a bit. A few days, actually. SYFY’s annual New Year’s marathon of The Twilight Zone episodes is returning, and the extravaganza stretches over four freaky calendar days, beginning on Saturday and running through Tuesday morning.

As a bonus this year, in addition to featuring episodes from the five-season Rod Serling-created anthology series that ran from 1959 to 1964, the marathon will also include episodes from the Jordan Peele-developed revival of The Twilight Zone that premiered in 2019 and came back for a second season in 2020…. 

(15) HAPPENING IN 2024. “Mickey’s Copyright Adventure: Early Disney Creation Will Soon Be Public Property”. The New York Times can’t wait to do news stories about the problems that will create.

There is nothing soft and cuddly about the way Disney protects the characters it brings to life.

This is a company that once forced a Florida day care center to remove an unauthorized Minnie Mouse mural. In 2006, Disney told a stonemason that carving Winnie the Pooh into a child’s gravestone would violate its copyright. The company pushed so hard for an extension of copyright protections in 1998 that the result was derisively nicknamed the Mickey Mouse Protection Act.

For the first time, however, one of Disney’s marquee characters — Mickey himself — is set to enter the public domain. “Steamboat Willie,” the 1928 short film that introduced Mickey to the world, will lose copyright protection in the United States and a few other countries at the end of next year, prompting fans, copyright experts and potential Mickey grabbers to wonder: How is the notoriously litigious Disney going to respond?

… The matter is more complicated than it appears, and those who try to capitalize on the expiring “Steamboat Willie” copyright could easily end up in a legal mousetrap. “The question is where Disney tries to draw the line on enforcement,” Mr. Moss said, “and if courts get involved to draw that line judicially.”…

(16) THE BY-NO-MEANS-OFFICIAL HISTORY. The Comics Journal’s Chris Mautner reviews “See You at San Diego: An Oral History of Comic-Con, Fandom, and the Triumph of Geek Culture”.

Having spent years, if not decades, as the top dog of comic conventions, and largely recognized by the hoi polloi as the de facto pop culture happening for well over a decade now, it’s surprising that a big book on the history of the San Diego Comic-Con hasn’t been published sooner. See You at San Diego, a whopping 480-page(!!) oral history of the show’s creation and growth, attempts to detail the origins of the convention and how it became the massive juggernaut it is today, with lots of anecdotes and remembrances from the people that helped shape it.

Unfortunately, while See You at San Diego does contain some engaging and occasionally delightful anecdotes, it’s also more than a bit of a mess, badly in need of an editor that could whittle its massive length down to a leaner and more succinct size, avoid the numerous repetitions, ask some tough questions about inclusion and the dominance of geek culture today, and perhaps even suggest some different page design choices than what’s offered in the final product….

(17) AND DON’T FORGET THIS BIRTHDAY. CNN is there when the “World’s oldest-ever tortoise turns 190”.

… Further proof of his age emerged when an old photograph taken between 1882 and 1886 was uncovered. In it, a fully grown Jonathan can be seen grazing in the garden of Plantation House, the residence of the Governor of St. Helena, where he has spent most of his life.

… Officials on the island are currently working on Jonathan’s birthday celebrations, which are planned for later this year. A series of commemorative stamps will be issued and anyone who visits him this year will receive a certificate featuring the first known picture of his footprint.

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Ryan George takes us inside the conversation in “Avatar: The Way of Water Pitch Meeting”.

2009’s Avatar was the highest-grossing movie of all time. Naturally, that meant sequel-time, and FAST. Okay maybe not fast. Maybe not even slow-paced. Maybe THIRTEEN YEARS LATER James Cameron has brought us back to the world of Pandora, along with all the characters whose names we definitely remember. Avatar: The Way Of Water definitely raises some questions. Like why spend so much money bringing back Colonel Quarritch to life, the guy who famously failed the last time he attempted something similar to this mission? Why does Jake suddenly decide that it’s suddenly time to run away after literally heading into battle regularly? Where did all the ocean people go in the third act? How many decades until the next movie?

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

AudioFile’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy Audiobooks for 2022

This year File 770 is partnering with AudioFile to announce the winners of the Best Science Fiction & Fantasy Audiobooks of 2022. They are listed below with links to AudioFile’s review.

AudioFile also will be featuring exclusive interviews with narrators from Best Audiobooks 2022 across all the categories on their podcast, Behind the Mic with AudioFile Magazine.

Left: January LaVoy. Photo by Todd Cerveri. Right: Bahni Turpin. Photo Linda Posnick.

AudioFile’s 2022 Best Science Fiction and Fantasy audiobooks are full of out-of-this world listening. Read on to discover a new take on a beloved classic, rich worldbuilding with outstanding full-cast narrations, or a captivating noir fantasy full of otherworldly beings.

BEST SCIENCE FICTION & FANTASY AUDIOBOOKS FOR 2022

THE ATLAS SIX: Atlas, Book 1 by Olivie Blake | Read by Steve West, David Monteith, Damian Lynch, Caitlin Kelly, Andy Ingalls, Munirih Grace, Siho Ellsmore, James Patrick Cronin | AudioFile Earphones Award. Macmillan Audio | 16 hrs.

Six exceptional individuals are recruited to join the mysterious Alexandrian Society. Listeners hear from prospective initiates from alternating points of view as the competition unfolds, all performed by a talented ensemble of narrators.

A COURT OF MIST AND FURY: A Court of Thorns and Roses, Book 2 by Sarah J. Maas | Read by Melody Muze, Anthony Palmini, Henry W. Kramer, Jon Vertullo, Amanda Forstrom, and a Full Cast |AudioFile Earphones Award. GraphicAudio | 8 hrs.

Melody Muze inhabits the role of this story’s narrator, along with Feyre, a mortal in an immortal body who lives in the land of Faerie. Sound effects, background music, and an imaginative cast enhance this magical battle between good and evil.

EVEN THOUGH I KNEW THE END by C.L. Polk | Read by January LaVoy | AudioFile Earphones Award. Recorded Books | 3.75 hrs.

January LaVoy’s captivating talents are on full display as she narrates a romantic, fantastical noir mystery. Helen Brandt has sold her soul to a demon, but now faces a chance to earn it back, save her city, and have a future with her girl.

MAXINE JUSTICE: Galactic Attorney by Daniel Schwabauer | Read by Aimee Lilly | AudioFile Earphones Award. Oasis Audio | 9 hrs.

There can be no doubt that narrator Aimee Lilly is having fun portraying Maxine Justice, who is feisty, resilient, and a bit down on her luck. Lilly captures all of Max’s dry wit, which makes this whimsical sci-fi story full of humans, robots, and aliens even more effective. 

MOON WITCH, SPIDER KING: Dark Star Trilogy, Book 2 by Marlon James | Read by Bahni Turpin | AudioFile Earphones Award. Penguin Audio | 30.75 hrs.

Bahni Turpin shows extraordinary range in her expert narration of this sprawling fantasy, the second installment of the Dark Star Trilogy. Listeners are treated to the fascinating and tumultuous 177-year life story of the witch Sogolon—from her painful childhood to her rise to power.

WITCHES ABROAD: Discworld, Book 12 by Terry Pratchett | Read by Indira Varma, Peter Serafinowicz, Bill Nighy | AudioFile Earphones Award. Penguin Audio UK | 9.75 hrs.

This highly amusing new recording of a classic in Pratchett’s beloved Discworld series, primarily narrated by Indira Varma with distinct British voices, introduces listeners to a godmother-witch, Magrat. She must stop the servant Emberella from marrying the prince, which (surprisingly) would destroy the kingdom.

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 9/27/22 You’re Telling Me A Pixel Filed This Scroll?

(1) UP ALL NIGHT. Sarah Gailey hosts an “Exclusive Interview with Victor Manibo” about his novel, The Sleepless.

…One aspect of The Sleepless that fascinates me is the way society in the book reacts to what some call a superpower, and what could also be framed as a hypercapitalist disability. Sleeplessness offers a fundamental change to human form and function as it’s typically understood, but it’s a change that allows people to engage more with capitalist productivity culture, consumption, and work. What made you want to explore this particular tension?

This story grew out of a what-if question I asked myself during a particularly busy time in my life. What if I didn’t need to sleep? Would I get more stuff done? How would such a change impact me, personally? The thought experiment was hard to contain to the individual level, and when I expanded the what-if to the world at large, it really raised some interesting questions. That’s when I felt like I needed to write it all out.

We’re living in an interesting time where more and more people are taking more control regarding their place in our capitalistic society. People are “quiet quitting”; it’s the age of “The Great Resignation”; there’s an increasing frequency of success stories in labor organizing, and there’s a record number of socialists in Congress. I wanted this story to be in conversation with what’s going on in the world, to interrogate why and how we participate in capitalism….

(2) A LITTLE SURPRISE. Google Double Asteroid Redirection Test, then wait a moment. [Via Tom Galloway.]

(3) HE’S GOT NOTHING. BUT SOMEBODY ELSE HAS SOMETHING. This teaser for Deadpool 3 dropped today. Ryan Reynolds apologizes for missing D23. Oh, and there’s a little casting surprised revealed at the end. “Deadpool Update”.

Or if you want to skip the video and go straight to the surprise, read this article in The Hollywood Reporter.

(4) MAKING CONTACT. Vulture has assembled an oral history of the movie Contact. “‘No Aliens, No Spaceships, No Invasion of Earth’”.

Ahead of Contact’s 25th anniversary, we spoke to nearly two dozen people involved in its making, including Zemeckis, Foster, McConaughey, Druyan, Sasha Sagan, and veteran producer Lynda Obst. They disagreed on several aspects of Contact’s development saga, but settled on some consensus: Contact was a lightning-in-a-bottle project, the kind of thing big movie studios barely made before and would probably never make again — intellectually challenging, emotionally messy, heavy with metaphor, wherein nobody shoots an alien in the face in front of an American flag. “We used to do that,” said Foster. “We used to make movies that were resonant and were entertaining.”…

Ann Druyan: This is 1978. Carl and I are still working on Cosmos. At the time, it was popular to say things like, “Well, if men are as smart as women, then how come there are no female Leonardos? No female Einsteins?” This made both of us furious. I had just co-written the part of Cosmos about the Great Library of Alexandria and the fact that Hypatia, who was the leader of the library, was a mathematician focusing on the Diophantine equations that Newton would later become interested in. Her reward for being the great intellectual light of the library in 415 AD was to be ripped from her chariot that she was driving herself and carved to bits with abalone shells.

People were throwing everything at Carl then. He was such a phenomenon in the culture, and everybody wanted to do something with him. So we knew we could get a book and a movie contract. We agreed one night, sitting in the pool at our little rented house in West Hollywood, that we were going to tell a story in which not only would a woman be the intellectual hero but, in the great tradition of Gilgamesh, she was going to go on the voyage and the guys would stay home.

(5) UNIONIZING PUBLISHING. UAW Local 2110 (2110uaw.org) – HarperCollins is the only unionized Big 4 publisher. HarperCollins workers are pushing for better compensation, diversity protections, and union security.

(6) KSR TO SPEAK IN MARYLAND.  At the 2022 F. Scott Fitzgerald Festival, with the theme “Stories and the More-Than-Human”, will be held over several dates. The main date events are on October 15, 2022 at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Rockville, MD.  The keynote speaker Kim Stanley Robinson will participate in the “Tribute to Richard Powers” at the Writer’s Center on Friday evening, October 14, and will engage with Richard Powers in a “Conversation about the Art of Fiction” and introduce Richard Powers for the Fitzgerald Award on Saturday, October 15. Festival registration is here.

(7) CRAFTING WITCHES. Leanna Renee Hieber and Andrea Janes admire “The Unstoppable, Fearsome, Delicious Allure of the Witch” at CrimeReads.

Witches are powerful women. Like all powerful women, they have been maligned, persecuted, hated, desired, feared. They are eternal, mythical subjects, a source of endless fascination. In American history, they occupy a unique place where folklore blurs the lines of reality; we remember the “witches” of Salem, Massachusetts, who were not actually witches. They have become totemic figures in television, movies, books, and pop culture, and their appeal shows no signs of waning: as of this writing, the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem is devoting a full-scale exhibit to the power and imagery of the witch…

(8) INVESTING TIME. Camestros Felapton is inspired to think about “Time travel and energy” after reading Sheila Jenne’s “Theories of time travel”. (His post was published on September 28, which is only appropriate, too…)

I was reading this neat summary of time travel rules in fiction and thinking about a couple of things basically angles and effort. The idea that a small change at one point leads to a big change in the future (aka two different kinds of things both known as a butterfly effect) predates modern science fiction. The proverb of consequences that typically starts with “for want of a nail” dates back to at least the 13th century and describes a causal chain of circumstances where a small issue (the nail in a horseshoe) leads to a major outcome.

Put another way: a small amount of effort in the past can lead to a result that would require a huge amount of effort if you were to attempt the same outcome in the present. I think that gives a neat rationale for fiction where you want time travel that allows changes to the future but where you don’t want an oops-I-stepped-on-a-butterfly-now-Donald-Trump-is-president situation….

(9) HOLDING HANDS WITH DEATH. “Terry Pratchett: A Life With Footnotes by Rob Wilkins review – anecdotes, elephants and ‘an embuggerance’” – the Guardian’s Frank Cottrell-Boyce comes away wondering why Pratchett was “so underestimated”.

…Caring for someone who has dementia is an overwhelmingly vivid experience, full of pain and comedy. There are heartbreaking and funny stories in A Life With Footnotes – started by Pratchett himself but written and completed by his longtime assistant Rob Wilkins – about the things that Pratchett’s shrinking brain made him do. He once accidentally donated £50,000 to Bath Postal Museum, for instance. Moments like that can supplant your memories of what a person was like before; here, Wilkins, who started working for the author in 2000, attempts to recover Pratchett pre-dementia. His closeness to the subject means that the book is sometimes joyfully, sometimes painfully, intimate. The description of the day Pratchett’s daughter, Rhianna, was born, for example, is so animated by love, it’s as if this treasured moment was a jewel that Pratchett placed in Wilkins’s care, to ensure it would not be stolen away by the embuggerance….

(10) CHAN DAVIS (1926-2022). Author Chandler Davis died September 24 reports Olav Rokne, who tweeted an extensive tribute that begins here.

SIDE NOTE: (I became aware of Chandler Davis as a science fiction author only a couple of years ago because of @gautambhatia88. But by an odd coincidence it turns out I met him several times in the 1980s as he worked on some math papers with my godfather Dr. Peter Lancaster)

(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.  

1968 [By Cat Eldridge.] This, I believe, was truly one of the the classic episodes of the original Star Trek series. Airing fifty-four years ago on NBC, it scripted by D.C. Fontana, one of eleven episodes that she would write including “Catspaw” that I dearly love, and directed by John Meredyth Lucas as the second episode of the final season.

If you’ve forgotten, the story is Kirk violated the neutral zone. The Romulans have a new bit of technology called a “cloaking device” (just go with the idea please). Kirk pretends to be crazy, then pretends to be a Romulan to get to it. Meanwhile, Spock pretends to be in love. But is he pretending? Who knows. 

D. C. Fontana says she based her script very loosely upon the Pueblo incident but I’ll be damned I can see this. It’s a Cold War espionage thriller at heart and most excellently played out. You did note the Romulnan commander never gets named? Later novels including Vulcan’s Heart by Josepha Sherman and Susan Shwartz gave her the name of Liviana Charvanek. 

Speaking of Vulcans, Fontana deliberately kept the romance between her and Spock low key to the finger games they did. And then there’s Roddenberry’s idea, never done, Spock “raining kisses” on the bare shoulders of the Romulan commander. Oh awful.

Season three had no budget, I repeat, no budget for frills, so this episode suffered several times from that. Kirk was supposed to have surgery done on him after dying but that got deep sixed, and McCoy was supposed to accompany him back to the Romulan ship but my, oh my ears are expensive, aren’t they? 

Fontana would co-write with Derek Chester a sequel: Star Trek: Year Four—The Enterprise Experiment, a graphic novel published by IDW Publishing in 2008.

Critics then and now love it.

It’s airing on Paramount + as is everything else in the Trek universe. 

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 27, 1927 Roberta Gellis. Though she wrote nearly a dozen novels of her own, you most likely know her writing within the Elves on the Road Universe created by Mercedes Lackey. She co-wrote Serrated Edge Prequels with Lackey, two of which were full novels — Ill Met by Moonlight and And Less Than Kind. (Died 2016.)
  • Born September 27, 1932 Roger Charles Carmel. The original Harcourt Fenton “Harry” Mudd who appeared in two episodes of the original Star Trek, “Mudd’s Women” and “I, Mudd”” and one episode of the animated series as well, “Mudd’s Passion”. I say original because Discovery has decided that they have a Harry Mudd. He also had one-offs on I-SpyMunstersThe Man from U.N.C.L.E.Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea and Batman. It is rumored but at all not confirmed he was going to reprise his role as Harry Mudd in a first-season episode of Next Gen but died before filming could start. (Died 1986.)
  • Born September 27, 1934 Wilford Brimley. His first genre role was as Dr. Blair in John Carpenter’s The Thing. He’s Benjamin ‘Ben’ Luckett in the Cacoon films, and Agency Director Harold Smith in Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins. He made a rather splendid President Grover Cleveland in The Wild Wild West Revisted. And finally I note that he was Noa in Ewoks: The Battle for Endor. (Died 2020.)
  • Born September 27, 1947 Meat Loaf. He has a tasty role as Eddie in The Rocky Horror Picture Show. And I’d argue some of his music videos are genre stories in their own right including “I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)”. He also has film roles in Wishcraft (horror), Stage Fright (horror) and Urban Decay (yes, more horror). He’s also in BloodRayne which is yes, horror. He’s had one-offs on Tales from the Crypt, The Outer LimitsMonsters, Masters of Horror and was Doug Rennie, a main cast member of Ghost Wars. (Died 2022.)
  • Born September 27, 1950 Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, 72. He’d be on the Birthday Honors list if he’d only been Zylyn in Space Rangers which lasted just six episodes. Damn. But he’s also shown up on Babylon 5, the premier of Star Trek: The Next GenerationSuperboyAlien Nation, the Australian version of Mission: ImpossibleSabrina the Teenage WitchStargate SG-1Poltergeist: The LegacyThe Librarians, voicing characters on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Star Wars Rebels. More recently he played Nobusuke Tagomi in The Man in The High Castle (2015-2018), and Hiroki Watanabe in Lost in Space 2018-2021). 
  • Born September 27, 1956 Sheila Williams, 66. Editor, Asimov’s Science Fiction the last fifteen years. She won the Hugo Award for Best Short Form Editor at Renovation and Chicon 7. With the late Gardner Dozois, she co-edited a bonnie bunch of anthologies such as Isaac Asimov’s RobotsIsaac Asimov’s Christmas and Isaac Asimov’s Cyberdreams. She was also responsible for the Isaac Asimov Award for Undergraduate Excellence in Science Fiction and Fantasy writing being renamed the Dell Magazines Award for Undergraduate Excellence in Science Fiction and Fantasy Writing. 
  • Born September 27, 1972 Gwyneth Paltrow, 50. Yes, she is Pepper Potts in the Marvel Universe film franchise but her first genre role was as a young Wendy Darling in Hook. And she shows up in Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow as Polly Perkins, a reporter for The Chronicle. And let’s not forget she was in Shakespeare in Love as Viola de Lesseps. Yes, it’s most decidedly and deliciously genre, isn’t it? 
  • Born September 27, 1972 Andy Briggs, 50. He started out as an uncredited writer working on story developer on the Highlander Series. I’m going to single out his writing of The Tarzan Trilogy which consists of Tarzan: The Greystoke LegacyTarzan the Jungle Warrior and Tarzan: The Savage Lands. Most excellent pulp. He’s written eleven scripts including a remake of The Philadelphia Experiment

(13) COMICS SECTION.

Lio is rejected for UFO abduction – find out why.

(14) MEANWHILE, BACK AT THE RANCH. The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood will be staged at City Garage Theatre in Santa Monica, CA from November 11 – December 18, 2022. Get tickets here.

City Garage presents the “The Penelopiad” by feminist icon Margaret Atwood, author of “The Handmaid’s Tale.” In this remarkable retelling of “The Odyssey,” Atwood transforms both the power and the politics of the classic tale by shifting the point of view to Penelope, Odysseus’s wife, and of her twelve faithful maids unjustly hanged by the returning “hero.” It takes place in Hades, where these thirteen spirits are trapped for all eternity, telling and retelling their story like angry furies, unable to find redress for what they suffered at male hands.

While her husband Odysseus is off fighting pointless wars—for the sake of her beautiful, shameless, aggravating cousin Helen—dallying with nymphs and sirens, and playing the hero, Penelope is holding the kingdom together. All alone, with nothing but her wits, toughness, and strength to rely on, she has to raise her rebellious son, face down dangerous rumors, and keep more than a hundred lustful, brutal suitors at bay. When twenty years later the “hero” finally returns there is indeed hell to pay—but it is Penelope and her twelve faithful maids who pay the tragic price.

Atwood gives Penelope a modern voice, witty, pragmatic, yet still filled with pain as she gets to tell her own story at last, and set the record straight. 

(15) I NEVER DRINK…WELL, ON SECOND THOUGHT. Vampire Vineyards in Ventura, CA has all kinds of amusing marketing ideas. How about wine bottles with Dracula capes? Or Vampire Gummies?

(16) LAURIE STRODE RIDES AGAIN. “Jamie Lee Curtis in ‘Halloween Ends’ final trailer”SYFY Wire cues it up:

…Universal Pictures dropped the final trailer for Halloween Ends Tuesday, giving us one last look at the concluding chapter of this legacy sequel saga ahead of its October 14 premiere, and the stakes of the film are now clearer than ever. It’s been four years since the events of Halloween Kills, which left the town of Haddonfield deeply scarred and left Laurie’s own daughter (Judy Greer) dead at Michael’s hands. After that night, Michael Myers vanished, but of course Laurie’s not convinced he’s gone for good. The boogeyman is coming back for one last night of terror, and this time, Laurie thinks she finally knows how to kill him. The catch, of course, is that she might have to die too…. 

(17) RED GULCH. “China’s Mars rover finds new evidence of an ancient waterway on the Red Planet” Inverse covers a study published in Nature.

CHINA landed its first rover on the surface of Mars, called Zhurong, on May 15, 2021. Just ten days later, it began a series of observations that ancient flows of water on the Red Planet could explain.

new study published Monday in the journal Nature details how Zhurong collected data on Mars’ subterranean sediments with an instrument called the Rover Penetrating Radar (RoPeR). Chinese scientists looked at the radar results Zhurong obtained as it traveled across more than 1,100 meters of flat landscape in a place called Utopia Planitia from May 25 to September 6, 2021. That’s about 102 Mars days, or sols. In the new work, Chinese researchers announced that Mars’ subsurface sediments were organized in a way that could be explained by ancient water flow on Mars….

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Trailers: The Sandman,” the Screen Junkies say that Neil Gaiman may “look like a hobbit,” but The Sandman was “one of the greatest comics ever” and the high quality of this $160 million production shows the merits of “creators owning the rights to their creations.”  The show is about the power of dreams, “but the concrete linear kind, not the ones where you’re mowing the lawn with your naked dad.” And does Patton Oswalt’s casting mean he “sounds like a talking bird?”

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

Pixel Scroll 9/18/22 Scrolling Pixels In The Park

(1) HE KEPT IT UNDER HIS HAT. Rob Wilkins, who assisted Terry Pratchett for many years, writes a long profile about him for the Guardian: “’I think I was good, though I could have been better’: Terry Pratchett and the writing of his life”. “After he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, the Discworld author began an autobiography. He never finished it, but seven years after his death, his long-time assistant has taken up the task.”

…Terry also had strong and, some might even say, puritanical ideas about how much money he should accept in advance of a book’s publication. If he couldn’t be confident that the advance would earn itself out inside three years and that the book would go into profit and yield royalties, he refused to accept it. At one point, for example, Transworld offered Terry £125,000 for a book. This was in the mid-1990s, when a generous offer for a book of its nature would have been in the region of £25,000, so that six-figure offer was an emphatic demonstration of confidence in Terry’s writing. Colin, naturally, was excited to tell Terry about it. The conversation they had was short and pointed. Colin then found himself ringing Transworld and saying: “I have conveyed your offer to Terry, and I’m afraid he is not at all happy with it … No, he says it’s far too much and he would like me to agree a deal with you for less.”…

(2) THE KICKOFF. Charlie Jane Anders is the new sf/fantasy book reviewer for The Washington Post. Here is her first column: “4 witchy books from the world of science fiction and fantasy”.

When Megan Giddings told her agent she wanted to write a novel about witches, he told her: “If anybody can make them feel new, it’s you.” In the acknowledgments of her new novel, The Women Could Fly” (Amistad),Giddings says she didn’t entirely agree with him that witches feel like a tired subgenre; to her, there’s always room for another take.

Luckily for anyone who feels the same way, a wealth of novels about witches has come out recently — and many of them do feel brand new.

To be sure, many recent witch novels explore timeworn themes: Witches are distrusted and feared and must conceal themselves from the world. But Giddings and other authors also uncover fresh layers to the classic witch tales, exploring the complexity of anti-witch attitudes in an enriching and timely way….

(3) IT’S NOT EVEN THE THING I’M POINTING AT WHEN I SAY ‘FANZINE’.  In “Fan v Pro v Fanzine”, Camestros Felapton ventures into the twisty little maze of passages all alike.

…But seriously, I think the current knot arises out of an unwillingness to redefine what a fanzine is. Functionally, fan artist and fan writer arose out of fanzine culture where fanzine didn’t need a definition. To a lesser degree the mess around semi-prozine arises there as well. There’s an intuitive sense of three grades of platforms were stuff happens: professional, fan and somewhere in between (a labour of love that aspires to be a going concern).

There are many available dimensions but none by themselves capture the essence of the fanzine distinction:

  • profit v non-profit
  • paywall v open access
  • corporate v non-corporate
  • size – number of people involved in the endeavour
  • fiction v non-fiction
  • hobby v “job”
  • weight class – a mix of size, influence and professional demeanour I guess
  • paying writers or not
  • paying staff or not
  • general vibe

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

commercial-corporate v. non-commericial-corporate gets closest to a distinction but not one that I could convert into a sensible set of rules.

Which means that I must circle back to the notion of self-identification as fan or pro. That also has tricky cases (a pro-writer who is a fan artists or vice versa) but if the point is to address the weight-class idea then maybe that is the least problematic pain point to accept. Put another way, if we see the “original sin” of John Scalzi’s* fan writer win not as blogs v print fanzines, not as style of genre question (clearly it was in the genre of fan writing), not as whether he is a real fan (clearly he is), but as a question of whether the voting is distorted because he had a large voting base in the Hugo Awards and major name recognition…then self-identification for the purpose of award eligibility gets at that issue….

(4) AND HE’D DO IT ALL OVER AGAIN.  Meanwhile, John Scalzi’s ears are burning.

(5) HWA CELEBRATES LATINX HORROR AUTHORS. The latest entry in the Horror Writers Association blog’s “Latinx Heritage in Horror” series is an “Interview with LP Hernandez”.

What inspired you to start writing?

Reading fueled my love of writing. I was a constant Scholastic Book Fair customer, addicted to the smell of new Goosebumps or Fear Street books. Eventually, I progressed to King, McCammon, and Tolkien. I began writing stories at around nine or ten. I remember corralling my mother in the morning as she attempted to get ready for work, handing her what I knew was going to be a best seller and requesting she read it right there in front of me.

(6) RATED ARRRRH! Do people still do “Talk Like a Pirate Day”? If so, it’s tomorrow, September 19.

(7) UNTRUE GRIT. Brian Murphy shares his appreciation for the Bard books by Keith Taylor: “Under the Spell of Keith Taylor’s Bard Songs” at Goodman Games.

…A characteristic of good sword-and-sorcery is earthiness; even if not set in some ancient age of our own earth, sword-and-sorcery nevertheless is typically gritty, even grimy, in its realism. Joseph McCullough once described sword-and-sorcery with the terse, pithy, “fantasy with dirt.” That works for me.

Over this layer of grit, which serves to ground the reader somewhere recognizable and to spare overly tedious worldbuilding, the skilled sword-and-sorcery writer adds in the fantastic, in small doses. Weird monsters and dark sorcery that feels alien, and dangerous, and when it appears casts its spell upon the reader….

(8) HOUSES DIVIDED. The New York Times explores “How Russian Trolls Helped Keep the Women’s March Out of Lock Step”.

…For more than a century, Russia and the Soviet Union sought to weaken their adversaries in the West by inflaming racial and ethnic tensions. In the 1960s, K.G.B. officers based in the United States paid agents to paint swastikas on synagogues and desecrate Jewish cemeteries. They forged racist letters, supposedly from white supremacists, to African diplomats.

They did not invent these social divisions; America already had them. Ladislav Bittman, who worked for the secret police in Czechoslovakia before defecting to the United States, compared Soviet disinformation programs to an evil doctor who expertly diagnoses the patient’s vulnerabilities and exploits them, “prolongs his illness and speeds him to an early grave instead of curing him.”

A decade ago, Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin, oversaw a revival of these tactics, seeking to undermine democracies around the world from the shadows.

Social media now provided an easy way to feed ideas into American discourse, something that, for half a century, the K.G.B. had struggled to do. And the Russian government secretly funneled more than $300 million to political parties in more than two dozen countries in an effort to sway their policies in Moscow’s favor since 2014, according to a U.S. intelligence review made public last week.

What effect these intrusions had on American democracy is a question that will be with us for years. It may be unanswerable. Already, social media was amplifying Americans’ political impulses, leaving behind a trail of damaged communities. Already, trust in institutions was declining, and rage was flaring up in public life. These things would have been true without Russian interference.

But to trace the Russian intrusions over the months that followed that first Women’s March is to witness a persistent effort to make all of them worse….

(9) MORE TROLLS WITH OPINIONS. The homegrown trolls are also busy. “The Rings of Power Gets Review Bombed: Amazon Turns Off Ratings”The Hollywood Reporter has the story.

Where’s a wizard to fight trolls when you need one?

The mega-budget fantasy series The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power is under fire from some of its viewers. A day after the first two episodes of Amazon’s billion-dollar baby debuted on Prime Video, the show’s average audience score on Rotten Tomatoes is a “rotten” 37 percent, and reviews on Amazon have been outright suspended.

Compare that score to TV critics giving the show a very fresh 83 percent average, and many of the reviews were highly enthusiastic (“It’s great: a gorgeously immersive and grandly ambitious spectacle, packed with stunning imagery and compelling plot threads,” wrote TV Line). The Hollywood Reporter dubbed the first two episodes a rather successful, promising start.

The scores come a couple weeks after Marvel’s She-Hulk was declared review bombed on the site, with 88 percent critics score and an initial 36 percent audience score.

How The Rings of Power is doing on Amazon’s own user review ecosystem is not yet clear because the company has taken the unusual step of suspending user ratings for the show. An Amazon source says reviews are being held 72 hours to help weed out trolls and to ensure each review is legitimate. The source later claimed Prime Video started the policy this summer on all its shows.

“Review bombing” is when a group of online users post numerous negative reviews for a product or service due to its perceived cultural or political issues rather than its actual quality….

(10) HENRY SILVA (1926-2022). [Item by Cora Buhlert.] Actor Henry Silva, whose genre rolls include The Manchurian Candidate (well, I think it’s genre), Killer Kane in Buck Rogers in the 25th Century and the voice of Bane in Batman: The Animated Series, died September 13 at the age of 95.

…“Henry Silva is one of those guys you most likely will recognize even if you don’t know his name,” onetime Crimespree magazine writer Dave Wahlman wrote in 2016. “His face is something straight out of central casting if you were looking for a villain. It alternates between the insipid glee of potential mayhem and looking emotionless and dead as a stone.”

…He went on to make dozens of movies in Europe, the majority of which were in the Italian “poliziotteschi” genre. “Funny thing,” he said in a 1971 interview, “over here they see me as a bad guy; in Europe, they see me as a hero.”… 

(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.  

1964 [By Cat Eldridge.] There are series I refuse to rewatch lest the Suck Fairy with her steel toed boots stomps all over it.  The Addams Family series which premiered on this evening fifty-eight years ago on ABC is definitely one of them. I unreservedly loved that series. 

The Los Angeles Times in its obituary of David Levy explained how he came to create the series: “The idea for the series came to Levy when he was strolling with a friend down New York’s 5th Avenue and passed a display of Addams’ books. One, ‘Homebodies,’ showed the entire group of Addams characters in a family portrait on the cover. Levy was stopped in his tracks by the sight and told his friend: ‘There’s a hit series!’”

Now let’s talk about the characters here. Who wasn’t perfect? Be it John Astin as Gomez Addams or Carolyn Jones as his wife Morticia, they played their roles perfectly. And no, I’m certainly not forgetting Wednesday, their child. (Surely the name comes from the English folk poem, Wednesday’s child is full of woe), Uncle Fester or Thing. Not to mention Lurch played oh-so-well by Ted Cassidy. 

It had pets, presaging to a great extent what Lio would have. Aristotle was Pugsley’s pet octopus and Fang was his pet jaguar. Addams Family had a lion called Kitty Kat and they piranhas, Tristan and Isolde. Zelda was their vulture. Morticia had a very large carnivorous plant named Cleopatra and Wednesday has a pet tarantula by the name of Homer.

It didn’t last nearly as long as I thought did — just two seasons totaling sixty-four episodes shot in glorious black and white. 

Halloween with the New Addams Family aired eleven years after the series went off the air with new characters added in. Seven years after the series was cancelled, the animated version of The Addams Family aired for sixteen episodes. It’s notable for a young Jodie Foster voicing Pugsley Addams. Only Jackie Coogan and Ted Cassidy, who played Uncle Fester and Lurch from the series, returned in voice acting roles.

Gold Key Comics produced a comic book series in connection with the show, but it only lasted three issues.

It streams on Amazon and Paramount +. Of course Paramount + owns the Columbia catalog and Columbia produced it.

It has a near perfect ninety-eight percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes.

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 18, 1884 Gertrude Barrows Bennett. She’s been called by many a pioneering author of genre fiction. She wrote a number of fantasies between in the late 1910s and early 1920s, and has been called “the woman who invented dark fantasy”. Her short story, “The Curious Experience of Thomas Dunbar” which was published under G.M. Barrows in Argosy is considered the first time that an American female writer published an SF story using her real name. (Go ahead, dispute it.) I’m pleased to say that the usual suspects are heavily stocked with her works.  (Died 1948.)
  • Born September 18, 1917 June Foray. Voice performer with such roles as Cindy Lou Who, Natasha Fatale and Rocky the Flying Squirrel. She also provided the voice of Lucifer the Cat from Disney’s Cinderella. She also did a lot of witches such as Looney Tunes’ Witch Hazel which you can hear over here. She was instrumental in the creation of the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature twenty years ago. OGH has a most touching remembrance here. (Died 2017.)
  • Born September 18, 1946 Struan Rodger, 76. He was the Bishop in Stardust, and shows up in the A Discovery of Witches as John Dee. (Loved the novels, skipped the series as I always do.) He voiced the Three-Eyed Raven in The Game of Thrones’ “The Lion and The Rose” and “The Children”.  More interestingly he’s got multiple roles in Doctor Who. First he’s The Voice of The Face of Boe in the Tenth Doctor stories, “New Earth” and “Gridlock”, next he’s Clayton in the Twelfth Doctor story, “The Women Who Lived” and finally he’s a voice again, that of Kasaavin in “Skyfall, Part One”, a Thirteenth Doctor story. 
  • Born September 18, 1946 Nicholas Clay. Here for playing Lancelot on Excalibur. He did two earlier horror films, The Damned and Terror of Frankenstein, and he was The Prince in Sleeping Beauty. For television work, he’s done The Adventures of Sherlock HolmesThe Hound of the BaskervillesZorroThe New Adventures of Robin HoodVirtual MurderHighlander and Merlin. (Died 2000.)
  • Born September 18, 1948 Lynn Abbey, 74. She’s best known for co-creating and co-editing with Robert Lynn Asprin (whom she was married to for 13 years) the quite superb Thieves’ World series of shared-setting anthologies. (Now complete in twelve volumes.) Her Sanctuary novel set in the Thieves’ World universe is quite excellent. I’ve not kept up with her latter work, so y’all will have to tell me how it is. Most, if not all, of the Thieves’ World series is available from the usual digital suspects.
  • Born September 18, 1959 Mark Romanek, 63. His first film was Static about a teenager who invents a device he claims can show picture of Heaven. Cult hit in the UK after Robyn Hitchcock prompted it. Never Let Me Go, a film released a decade ago postulated clones whose organs were harvested that made life extension possible in the UK. US reviewers thought it was fact leading it to having a text prologue explaining it was fiction.
  • Born September 18, 1963 Gary Russell, 59. A very prolific director of audio narratives for Big Finish Productions, having done forty-five Doctor Who and related productions, which is to say the Sarah Jane and Bernice Summerfield lines as well. He’s written novels that feature Doctor Who and related characters. He’s written three nonfiction works, two Who related, no surprise there, and one called The Art of The Lord of the Rings.
  • Born September 18, 1984 Caitlin Kittredge, 38. Known for her Nocturne City series of adult novels which I’d not heard of before this, and for The Iron Codex, a series of YA novels, but I think her best work is by far the Black London series. She’s penned a Witchblade series at Image Comics, and the excellent Coffin Hill series for Vertigo. 

(13) COMICS SECTION.

(14) EDGE CASE. “R. Crumb Means Some Offense” is a profile of the iconic comix creator in the New York Times.

…Crumb used to attend comic conventions and book signings, but now he makes very few public appearances. He never really picked up French (he relies on Kominsky-Crumb for that), and his social circle is small. Crumb’s followed in the long line of artists and writers who have exiled themselves from America, but his life abroad feels far more circumscribed than most. He doesn’t even have a cellphone. (At one point, he looks at his wife’s and says earnestly, “It’s listening to us right now.”) He uses email but “I worry about it,” he says. “Any email you write goes into the N.S.A. computer banks.” He’s only voted once in his life, for Barack Obama in 2008. Yet even living thousands of miles from America, disconnected from its culture by so many moats of his own making, he is, like many of his expatriate predecessors, a dedicated and unflinching observer of home. It was his ability to capture the id of America — in all its decadence, hypocrisy and lecherousness — that established him as an artist; that ability is unmatched nearly six decades later. He’s been called an “equal opportunity offender”: For his entire career, he’s angered the left, the right and everyone in between. It’s why his work remains, more than that of perhaps any other artist today, a litmus test for how much we’re willing to put up with for the sake of art….

(15) CONSTANTINE NEWS. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] There can be only one. AKA The Law of Conservation of Constantines. “Keanu Reeves’ Constantine Sequel Means JJ Abrams’ Constantine Show is Dead, For Now” reports Gizmodo.

Just before the weekend started, Warner Bros. Discovery up and surprised everyone when they revealed that a sequel to their 2005 Constantine movie was in development. With Keanu Reeves and original director Francis Lawrence both set to return, it seemed like a pleasant shock…until one had to remember that way back in 2021, the corporation announced that JJ Abrams was working on a series for the Hellblazer. And like with much of what’s recently happened with HBO Max, the situation for Abrams’ show is now in a weird bind.

Per Variety, the new Constantine show, along with the Madame Xanadu series being headed up True Blood’s Angela Robinson, are both dead at the moment…. 

(16) SCREEN TIME. Gizmodo is also prepared to fill you in about the coming season of genre TV: “Fall 2022 TV Preview: All the Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and Horror Shows”.

Your TV brain might be completely hardwired into magical rings and lusty dragons these days, but there are so many more sci-fi, fantasy, and horror shows—both returning and new—coming to screens this season.

Scroll through for our handy calendar of all the geeky series that you need to know about, with the caveat that dates may be subject to change….

(17) LIFE LESSONS. His role in Tron is the ObSF reference, however, there’s so much more! “’Dealing with your mortality, it makes things more precious’: Hollywood legend Jeff Bridges on the gift of life after cancer” in the Guardian.

…So he’s someone who can quickly identify and make the most of a bright side. As I’m not someone like that, I ask him how he does it. How did he stay positive through two vicious illnesses? Bridges starts to tell an apparently unrelated story, the relevance of which only gradually becomes clear. “So I’m remembering the very last gift my father gave me, before he died,” he says. His father, Lloyd, was a successful TV actor who died in 1998. “Sue and I had this new house at the time,” Bridges continues, “huge grounds, and what I really wanted for my birthday was a neat little electric golf cart to get around the property. I know Dad’s bought something cool for me. I open a door. And there… It’s not the golf cart I wanted… It’s like a motorised, gasoline-operated, dump truck kind of a thing. In my mind I’m thinking, ‘Oh, shit. This is not what I want at all.’ But I say thank you to him. Then he dies. Suddenly I’m using this vehicle all the time. I’m constantly saying to myself, ‘This is so much better than a golf cart! It’s so much more powerful! There are so many things I can get done!’”…

(18) HOT STUFF. Get ready to serve breakfast on Halloween: “Dash Mini Waffle Maker — Halloween, Black and Orange”.

SPOOKY WAFFLES: The Dash Halloween Mini Waffle Maker 2-pack is perfect for making spooky waffles for fall and beyond. Plus make your favorite breakfast classics and get creative with waffled hash browns, cookies and more

(19) NASA RELIC. “A Busted Trailer Listed on a Government Auction Website Turned Out to Be a Space Fan’s Dream: a NASA Command Vehicle”. ArtNet News tellxs all about it.

For most people trawling government auctions, the listing would not have stood out: GSA Auctions, a division of the General Services Administration, was offering up a vehicle described simply as a “1989 Airstream Executive Air Coach,” with no minimum bid.

An online sleuth, however, was able to determine that the RV was probably once used in NASA’s Space Shuttle program. Acquired for just $21,000, the historic item was a major steal for any fan of space memorabilia…. 

The upshot? “This van was the official Convoy Command Vehicle for the Space Shuttle at Edwards,” Higgins wrote. “It directed all Shuttle recovery procedures once the spacecraft was on the ground! And it’s for sale currently at $10k.” (He also shared a YouTube video of the vehicle in action.)

Some 19 bidders competed for the former Convoy Command Vehicle, with interest leaping from $10,000 to over $20,000 in the final day….

(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Alasdair Beckett-King parodies “Every ‘Not So Fast… I’ll Be Taking That’ Scene”.

When you’re a rogue archaeologist in search of a surprisingly cheap-looking idol. I’m really pushing the limits of what one man with four hats can do, here.

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Cora Buhlert, Steven French, Andrew Porter, 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 Cliff.]

Pixel Scroll 8/28/22 Attack Of The 10 Foot Pixels!

(1) SPSFC2 COVER CONTEST: HELP RATE THE TOP 100. The second year of the Self-Published Science Fiction Competition has kicked off. While the reviewing teams are judging the books, you can help judge the covers. Vote in the SPSFC2 Cover Contest – People’s Choice at Pollunit.

The teams scored the covers of the 30 books assigned to each of them and picked their top ten, for a total of 100 covers. You will be asked to give each cover from 0 – 10 points.

Covers are displayed in batches of 10 and their order is randomized for each viewer.

The poll is open until September 9. When it’s finished, we’ll find out which SPSFC contestant’s cover people think is the best.

(2) DOUBLE PLUS GOOD? David Robson explores radical optimism – “hopepunk” – in “The sci-fi genre offering radical hope for living better” at BBC Culture.

Alexandra Rowland didn’t mean to spark a new artistic genre. In 2017, however, the fantasy author had a moment of inspiration. Rowland had been contemplating the rise of grimdark – the subgenre of fantasy fiction typified by George RR Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire (the inspiration for the TV series Game of Thrones) – which emphasises the flaws in human nature, and focuses on our capacity for cruelty.

But what could describe literature that instead focuses on our capacity for good? “The opposite of grimdark is hopepunk. Pass it on,” wrote the author in a short post on Tumblr. The post soon went viral – and by 2019 the term had entered the Collins English Dictionary, defined as “a literary and artistic movement that celebrates the pursuit of positive aims in the face of adversity”.

Various works of fiction – including the Lord of the Rings and Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series – have now been labelled as examples of hopepunk, along with a slew of contemporary writers.  

“Cautionary tales are very important,” says Becky Chambers, one of the leading authors associated with the hopepunk movement, who has won a much-coveted Hugo Award for her sci-fi Wayfarer series. “But if that is all that you have, you risk nihilism.”…

(3) OOPS. The people who ran Discworld Convention 2022 apologize for leaving out something important: “A Message from the Committee – Discworld Convention 2022”.

Now that we have caught up on our sleep and have taken stock, we realise there was a major omission in both our opening and closing ceremonies. Although Terry was in all our hearts and thoughts before and during the Convention, we didn’t include our tribute to him in the ceremonies.

That shortcoming is something that we deeply regret and humbly apologise to all of you.

There is a lot that we can feel pleased about, especially given the difficulties we all faced in planning and running the Con, but they are all overshadowed by our collective oversight.

But what now? Anything we could do in the short term is far too little, far too late. But in the long term? For that, turn inwards and try to ask what Sir Terry would say if he saw what we did. And this is the answer we hope he would give:

“Do Better. BE Better. And don’t be such tossers again.”

So, that is what we plan to do. To be better. And to remember what he and Vimes taught us. A city, a community, lives and dies by the people in it. And committees are there to serve them, to put them first, and do right by them, by you.

2024 is both a long way away and no time at all, so we’re already working to prove deserving of your, and Sir Terry’s, trust. Hopefully, you’ll give us the chance.

Yours in humility, the ConCom that was and the ConCom that will be.

(4) I CAN’T BELIEVE MY EARS. “Zachary Quinto finds family Spock Connection in ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’”.

While researching Zachary Quinto’s family tree for his upcoming appearance on Who Do You Think You Are?, Ancestry.com found a surprising connection in his family’s past and his character, Spock. In a newspaper record from 1899, Quinto’s great-grandfather P.J. McArdle wrote a letter to the editor that closes out with “May it live long and prosper” – almost the same words used in the iconic Vulcan greeting and farewell “live long and prosper,” first introduced by Leonard Nimoy as Spock on Star Trek: The Original Series and spoken by Quinto as Spock for the Kelvin Universe films. Quinto’s full journey will air on Who Do You Think You Are? on August 14 at 7/6c on NBC and stream on Peacock.

(5) UNCORKING A VINTAGE YEAR. First Fandom Experience traces “A Year In the Life of a Fan: Joe Kennedy in 1946”.

In our series of posts in support of the 1946 Project at Chicon 8, we’ve already explored the year in fandom. We also want to understand what it was like to spend that year as an active fan.

One of the most prolific and well-regarded fans was Joseph Charles “Joe” Kennedy. His remarkable 1946 is worthy of note, if not entirely representative of how most fans spent their year….

January

January 1 — the very dawn of 1946 — Kennedy joined a gathering at the New Jersey home of Sam Moskowitz. This was the second meeting of the self-designated “Null-A Men,” satirically named after the controversial novel by A.E. van Vogt. As Moskowitz noted in The 1946-47 Fantasy Review, “The initial idea of a loosely knit, social group was abandoned when 10 fans showed up… The idea of an organizational meeting was expanded into a full-fledged convention.” This was the origin of the “First Post-War Eastern Science Fiction Convention,” which would convene in March of that year.

(6) AUREALIS AWARDS NEWS. The “2022 Aurealis Awards are open for entry”. Full information at the link.

The Aurealis Awards, Australia’s premier awards for speculative fiction, are for works created by an Australian citizen or permanent resident, and published for the first time between 1 January 2022 and 31 December 2022.

We strongly encourage publishers and authors to enter all works published already this year by September 30, 2022, then subsequent publications as they are released; our judges appreciate having time to consider each entry carefully.

Entries for the Aurealis Awards main categories close on December 14, 2022.

(7) TOP OF THE LIST? GameRant contends “Tolkien’s Most Obscure Story Is Actually His Best One”. (Though it’s unlikely that “Leaf By Niggle” will qualify as “obscure” among readers here.)

…The writer himself said in a letter to his friend Stanley Unwin:

‘That story was the only thing I have ever done which cost me absolutely no pains at all. Usually, I compose only with great difficulty and endless rewriting. […] It took only a few hours to get down, and then copy out.’

This is definitely unusual for Tolkien, who is famous for spending decades carefully crafting and sculpting each individual character, language, culture, and history. And the suddenness of its appearance in Tolkien’s mind isn’t the only thing that makes the narrative so different from many of his other works. The story centers around one main character’s thoughts, experience, and journey, rather than a group of companions or a fellowship like most of the long-form works that he is famous for. What’s more, it is very introspective, reflecting much of Tolkien’s own thoughts and tribulations as a creative….

(8) MEMORY LANE.  

2022 [By Cat Eldridge.] Usually here we look at something that has already happened but we’re going to look at something that has not happened yet, Rob Zombie’s The Munsters. It’s due to break out almost exactly a month from now as the release date in the States is supposed to be September 27.

The Munsters as you well know started out as a television series in 1964 and was followed by The Munsters Today and the recent one-off Mockingbird Lane which was intended as a pilot. Several Munsters movies were released, three of which had original cast members.  

So how is that Rob Zombie of all individuals is releasing a Munsters film? Very good question I’d say.  Well he does have a fondness for The Munsters. Zombie a quarter of a century ago released the single “Dragula”. (I kept looking at that and seeing Dracula.) The title came from the name of Grandpa’s dragster DRAG-U-LA. (You can see the plate here.) Zombie’s music video mimics, sort of, the Munsters family getting into Grandpa’s car for a ride.

This film takes place prior to the events prior to the series, serving as an origin for the characters. It is directed and written by Zombie who also producing it. That’s either a very good thing or a very bad thing.  It is very obviously a vanity project for him. 

The cast is mostly not anyone that I recognize but here they be for your perusal: Jeff Daniel Phillips, Sheri Moon Zombie, Daniel Roebuck, Richard Brake and Sylvester McCoy. Wait, we have a Time Lord here? McCoy is playing Igor. 

And if you’ve not guessed yet, Sheri Moon Zombie who plays Lily Munster is married to Rob Zombie. You really, really don’t want to look up her filmography. 

And Jeff Daniel Phillips who plays Herman Munster has an equally unídistinguished acting career. Remember the Cavemen series? (Hopefully you don’t.) He was Maurice in it.

Casandra Peterson, better known as Elvira, played Barbara Carr who is described as the #1 real estate agent in all of Mockingbird Heights.

The premise is that is a love story taking place in Transylvania where Herman and Lily met, dated and departed for here as her father didn’t at all like Herman. They married after moving here and the prequel leads up the series we know.

Transylvania? WTF were they doing there? Frankenstein Castle located in the city of Darmstadt in Germany. It is often thought that this castle may have been the inspiration for Mary Shelley in writing her novel. Definitely not in Transylvania. 

It was filmed entirely in Hungary including the construction from scratch of 1313 Mockingbird Lane duplicating the house from the Mockingbird Lane pilot exactly according to Zombie who used the plans for it.

Now if your planning on going out to the nearest cinema to settle in with popcorn and your favorite beverage, don’t bother. The only place that you can see it is on Netflix as they financed it. Peacock originally was thought to have rights to it but that turned out to incorrect. 

The latest trailer is here.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 28, 1915 Tasha Tudor. American illustrator and writer of children’s books. Her most well-known book is Corgiville Fair, published in 1971, the first of a series to feature anthropomorphic corgis. (Died 2008.)
  • Born August 28, 1916 Jack Vance. Where to start? The Dying Earth series? Or perhaps the Lyonesse trilogy? I think I’ll pick the Demon Princes series. Damn he was good. Hugos? Oh yes. Discon was his first for “The Dragon Masters” short story followed by winning one for “The Last Castle” novellette at NYCon 3. His autobiography, This is Me, Jack Vance! (Or, More Properly, This is “I”), Jack Vance, won at Aussiecon 4. Let’s not forget that he has a World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement as well. And a SFWA Grand Master Award, too. (Died 2013.)
  • Born August 28, 1917 Jack Kirby. Responsible for a goodly part of modern comics from Captain America and the X-Men to Challengers of the Unknown and the New Gods. (Another DC film that got cancelled.) I had forgotten that he created the Black Panther. (Died 1994.)
  • Born August 28, 1948 Vonda McIntyre. I’ve read a number of her works including Dreamsnake and The Moon and the Sun which are all phenomenal. The latter was based on a short story of hers done as a faux encyclopaedia article “The Natural History and Extinction of the People of the Sea”, that was illustrated by Le Guin. Way cool. (Died 2019.)
  • Born August 28, 1951 Barbara Hambly, 71. Author of myriad genre works including the James Asher, Vampire NovelsThe Windrose Chronicles, and the Sun Wolf and Starhawk series. Some Trek work. Was married for some years to George Alec Effinger.
  • Born August 28, 1965 Amanda Tapping, 57. Stargate franchise of course, also lead in the rather smashing SanctuaryTravelers, the Killjoys which I still need to see, Riese, EarthseaFlash Forward and X-Files.
  • Born August 28, 1978 Rachel Kimsey, 44. She voices Wonder Woman on Justice League Action, yet another series that proves animation, not live, is the DC film strong point. Here’s a clip of her voice work from that show. She was Zoe, the old imaginary friend of Frances, on Don’t Look Under The Bed, a supposedly horror that ran on Disney. Disney, horror? And she was a zombie in the “Don’t Let Her Pull You Down” music video by New Found Glory. 

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Tom Gauld

(11) GAME FACE. The video game The Stanley Parable “is about what it means to be free in a tightly constrained simulated world.” From “Exhausting All Possibilities” by Gabriel Winslow-Yost  in The New York Review of Books. (The complete article is behind a paywall.)

…The structure of the game is simple. The narrator—voiced in a ripe, pompously authoritative English accent by Kevan Brighting—tells us the story of the day that “would forever change Stanley,” when Stanley suddenly realizes that all of his coworkers have disappeared and leaves his desk to find out what’s happened. And we pilot Stanley through it: walking to the conference room to see if he’s forgotten about a meeting (he hasn’t), then upstairs to the boss’s office to see if he’s there (he is not), then stumbling upon a “terrible secret that lay buried below his feet” (a giant mind-control machine hidden in the basement) before triumphing rather easily over this subterranean evil (there’s an off switch) and heading outside for a sunlit happy ending….

(12) NUCLEAR WINTER IF RUSSIA DEPLOYS NUKES. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] To cheer you up as you wend your way to Worldcon…. Nature contemplates the unthinkable. “Nuclear War Between Two Nations Could Spark Global Famine”. What if Russia deployed nukes in its war against Ukraine?

Even a small conflict in which two nations unleash nuclear weapons on each other could lead to worldwide famine, research suggests. Soot from burning cities would encircle the planet and cool it by reflecting sunlight back into space. This in turn would cause global crop failures that — in a worst-case scenario — could put five billion people on the brink of death.

“A large per cent of the people will be starving,” says Lili Xia, a climate scientist at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, who led the work. “It’s really bad.”

The research, published on 15 August (L. Xia et al. Nature Food vol. 3, p586–596; 2022), is the latest in a decades-long thought experiment about the global consequences of nuclear war. It seems especially relevant now, given that Russia’s war against Ukraine has disrupted global food supplies, underscoring the far-reaching impacts of a regional conflict.

Nature this week points to the latest research that also reminds us of research a couple of years ago on even a small nuclear war. This earlier work also suggests that even a small war would have a huge impact. They developed a scenario of a small India–Pakistan nuclear war could lead to crops failing in dozens of countries — devastating food supplies for more than one billion people. 2020 primary research here.

The latest research is chilling. 100 weapons of just 15 kilotonnes each on urban targets, while ‘only’ giving 27 million direct deaths, would result in a quarter of a billion without food by the end of year two…

(13) TURN UP THE GASLIGHT. DUST presents a short film “Who Among Us”. Which player is the machine?

Directors’ Statement: We wanted to explore how the media and groupthink can cause a person to doubt what they know to be true. Seven’s character goes through the trauma of gas-lighting, but on a public scale. Reality television specifically exploits and bends the truth in this way. We just extrapolated how that would play out in the future when bots like Siri and Alexa become nearly indistinguishable from humans. Wouldn’t there be a game show where contestants have to figure out who among them is the machine? The fascinating part is how open we are to untested technology, especially when it’s entertaining. That can be a good thing for technologists. From firsthand experience building @artieapp (check it out on Instagram) we know that sometimes a glitch can become a feature. There is a fine line though. In the film it’s not clear whether the host is following a script, or if he’s manipulating the contestants of his own volition. Are we just a glitch away from disaster? Or are we a glitch away from a great discovery? That’s the idea behind our feature script, which examines the characters lives in the aftermath of the game show.

[Thanks to Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Jeffrey Smith, Angela Smith, 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 Peer.]

Pixel Scroll 6/19/22 She Filed Me Into A Scroll! (I Got Better!)

(1) HARASSMENT CAMPAIGN. [Item by Meredith.] Someone(s) used the names and email addresses of several members of sf/f fandom including Paul Weimer, Patrick S Tomlinson, John Scalzi, and Adam Rakunas to send racist abuse to a black author (@fairyfemmes) through the contact form on their websites (where the email address can be entered manually). The author originally believed it was real, but is now wanting to know who is behind it. They’ve taken their account private.

John Scalzi tweeted:

Paul Weimer posted on Patreon about “The Trolls Harassing others in my name”.

The Trolls that have harassed me for years in my name have come up with a new and horrible trick–they are harassing others, in this case, a POC, and using my name to do it.  

So it’s a double whammy–to hurt someone else, and to blacken my name at the same time.

Patrick S. Tomlinson addressed a message sent under his name, and another from the person posing as Adam Rakunas.

(2) TONOPAH PROGRAM UPDATED. The most recent (June 19) Westercon 74 Program Schedule  version has downloadable PDFs of the Program Grid, which shows items by date/time/location. Click on the link.

(3) WISCON’S COVID OUTCOME. The “WisCon 2022 Post-Con COVID-19 Report” begins with a fully detailed account of the extensive COVID-19 safety measures instituted by the committee, then assesses the results. 

…Two weeks out from the end of the convention, we are stopping our case tracking efforts. While it’s impossible to say with any certainty whether some members arrived sick, contracted COVID-19 during travel to/from, or contracted COVID-19 at the con, we can, with much gratitude, report that we had a total reported count of 13 cases including one possible false positive, or 3% of our estimated 407 in-person attendance. That’s just about miraculous.

We want to especially extend our thanks to those who tested positive very soon after arriving and took the necessary measures to take care of themselves and keep those around them safe, up to and including leaving the convention entirely. We know it must have been so gut-wrenching and disappointing. Thank you….

(4) STOP DISCOUNTING CRAFTSMANSHIP. Mark Lawrence reacts to a viral tweet by someone who rates books highly for other things than good writing in “I don’t care how good a writer you are…”

…It’s as if people are celebrating the idea that writing doesn’t matter and that “good writing” is some form of intellectual elitism that doesn’t have anything to do with them. They’re death metal fans and they don’t care about opera.

But that is, of course, nonsense. It’s akin to saying “I don’t care how good a brain surgeon you are, as long as you get this tumour out.” “I don’t care how good a mechanic you are, as long as you fix my car.” Sure, the end is the thing that’s important to you … but the end is generally strongly correlated with the means….

(5) SCARE PALS. Adrienne Celt advises New York Times Magazine readers that “You Need a Horror Movie Friend for a More Frightening, Less Lonely Life”.

… A lot of people hate horror movies, but I don’t. In fact, I frequently find myself strong-arming my friends and loved ones into watching something scarier than they would prefer, just for the company. It’s a difference of philosophy as much as a difference in taste. Horror deniers often claim there’s nothing emotionally valuable in the experience of being frightened. I disagree. When I first watched “The Last Unicorn” (a horror movie masquerading as a children’s cartoon) at age 8, the image of a naked harpy devouring a witch was burned into my brain, but so was the realization that the conditions that created the harpy also allowed for the unicorn. The existence of horror is inevitably proximate to the existence of wondrous possibility.

Meeting another person who loves horror as much as I do, then, is like meeting a fellow traveler from my home country while stuck somewhere distant and strange….

(6) A LOT TO LIKE. Rich Horton continues his project of filling in the historic blank spaces with “Hugo Nomination Recommendations, 1954” at Strange at Ecbatan.

… This was a remarkable year for SF novels, and the five that I list as nominees — the same list the Retro Hugo nominators picked — are all certified classics in the field. There some impressive alternate choices too — among those I list, Leiber’s The Sinful Ones (an expansion and in my opinion an improvement on his 1950 short novel “You’re All Alone”) is a personal favorite. In my Locus article I picked The Caves of Steel as the winner, but I’m really torn. Nowadays I might lean to either More Than Human, or to the Retro Hugo winner, Fahrenheit 451….

(7) REREADING PRATCHETT. Nicholas Whyte discusses “Mort, by Terry Pratchett” at From the Heart of Europe.

…You’ve read it too, so I won’t go on at length. It is as funny as I remembered. I was pleasantly surprised on re-reading by the breadth and depth of references to classic (and Classical) literature. The main driver of the Sto Lat subplot, the rewriting of history and destiny, is actually more of a science fiction trope, rarely found in fantasy (and the description of it is fairly sfnal). And Death’s slogan resonates still for me, 35 years on.

THERE’S NO JUSTICE. THERE’S JUST ME.

(8) A VISION FOR SF. Pop quiz: What editor’s name immediately comes to your mind when you read the statement that Astounding shaped modern science fiction? My guess is it won’t be the name that came to Colin Marshall’s mind when he wrote this post for Open Culture: “Revisit Vintage Issues of Astounding Stories, the 1930s Magazine that Gave Rise to Science Fiction as We Know It”.

Having been putting out issues for 92 years now, Analog Science Fiction and Fact stands as the longest continuously published magazine of its genre. It also lays claim to having developed or at least popularized that genre in the form we know it today. When it originally launched in December of 1929, it did so under the much more whiz-bang title of Astounding Stories of Super-Science. But only three years later, after a change of ownership and the installation as editor of F. Orlin Tremaine, did the magazine begin publishing work by writers remembered today as the defining minds of science fiction….

(9) HAPPY 90TH. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Washington Post, classical music critic Michael Andor Brodeur celebrates John Williams’s 90th birthday with recommendations about his orchestral music to try (ever heard his flute concerto or his violin concerti?) “Composer John Williams being feted with performances at Kennedy Center”.

… For “John Williams: A 90th Birthday Gala,” conductor Stéphane Denève will lead the NSO in a sprawling celebration of Willams’s famed film music. Special guests cellist Yo-Yo Ma, filmmaker Steven Spielberg and German violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter will cue up selections from some of Williams’s most beloved scores, including “Close Encounters,” “E.T.,” “Harry Potter,” “Indiana Jones” and “Schindler’s List.” The program will also highlight Williams’s most recently lauded work, the score to Kobe Bryant and Glen Keane’s Oscar-winning 2017 short film “Dear Basketball.

A pair of companion concerts flanking the gala celebration will focus on two of Williams’s best-known scores — representing a fraction of his 29 collaborations with Spielberg. (Their latest project, “The Fabelmans,” is due out in November). Steven Reineke will conduct the composer’s scores for “E.T.” and “Jurassic Park” on June 22 and 24, respectively. (The NSO will also perform Williams’s score for “Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back” with a screening of the film at Wolf Trap’s Filene Center on July 29.)

Taken together, the birthday party is three days of music that will hit all the subconscious buttons that Williams has wired into our collective memories over the past five decades — a rich catalogue of instantly identifiable melodies, moods and motifs that can conjure entire worlds with the stroke of a bow.

The party, however, conspicuously forgot to invite Williams’s concert music — the province of his output that truly opened my ears to his compositional mastery. (It also leaves out selections from “A.I. Artificial Intelligence,” a deep cut that represents some of his best work with Spielberg, but that’s another story.)

I get it. We have come to equate Williams with Hollywood so closely that it can be hard to fathom him freed of cinema’s frame.

But in Williams’s many concertos, chamber works and solo pieces, his familiar compositional voice is fully present, albeit put to completely different use. His connections to multiple classical traditions register more clearly: his Berg-ian penchant for darkness and dissonance, his Copland-esque ease with evoking natural grandeur, his inheritance of gestures from Debussy, Wagner, Tchaikovsky and Korngold.

Here are some of my favorite Williams works that have nothing to do with the movies — and have a lot more depth than you might expect from a composer we associate with the silver screen….

One of the pieces Michael Andor Brodeur recommended of John Williams was his “Fanfare For Fenway” so here it is as Williams and the Boston Pops perform the world premiere at Fenway Park in 2012.

(10) THINK FAST. Deadline calls it “Zaslav’s First Movie Crisis: What To Do With Ezra Miller, The Erratic Star Of Warner Bros’ $200M ‘Flash’ Franchise Launch”

Even though it isn’t on the Warner Bros release calendar until June 23, 2023, The Flash is becoming Warner Bros Discovery CEO David Zaslav’s first movie crisis, because of the escalating coverage of incidents of volatile and odd behavior involving the film’s star, Ezra Miller.

Zaslav has made clear his desire to grow the DC Universe to MCU scale and has all the ingredients of a first foot forward in The Flash, including the return of Michael Keaton as Batman along with a reprise by Ben Affleck, a $200 million budget and a hot director in Andy Muschietti, who delivered the blockbuster It for the studio. The Warner Bros Discovery CEO exercised his well known penchant for micro-management by declining to greenlight Wonder Twins for being too niche. Zaslav will have to soon make a decision of what to do with the completed picture that is The Flash, and what to do with a young actor who appears to have serious off-set issues….

(11) VERTLIEB MEDICAL NEWS. Steve Vertlieb is home after his fifth hospital stay of the year. He brings everyone up-to-date in “Back To The Suture 3” on Facebook.

… Days upon days of antibiotic treatment were required before they dared to open the wound and clean out the bacteria. This additional procedure was accomplished on Monday, June 13th.

Consequently, I was admitted yet again to the cardiac unit where I remained for nine days more until my delayed and eventual release this afternoon. I’ve a “Wound V.A.C.” attached to my groin where it hangs rather uncomfortably, and shall continue to do so for, perhaps, the next week or two. I’m home once more, and praying that this is where I shall be permitted at long last to remain….

(12) MEDIA BIRTHDAY

1956 [By Cat Eldridge.] Forbidden Planet debuted sixty years ago on this date in the United Kingdom. I had the extremely good fortune of seeing Forbidden Planet at one of those boutique cinema houses some four decades back. Great sound and print, and a respectful audience who were there to see the film so everyone paid attention to it. 

It was produced by Nicholas Nayfack who had no genre background and who would die of a heart attack, age forty-nine just two years later. It was directed by Fred Wilcox, best known for Lassie, Come Home. The script was written by Cyril Hume who had prior to this written scripts for two Tarzan films. It is said that is based off “The Tempest” as conceived in a story by Irving Block and Allen Adler. Huh. 

I’ll skip the cast other than Robbie the Robot. He cost at least one hundred and twenty-five thousand dollars to produce, and was based off the design originating with ideas and sketches by production designer Arnold “Buddy” Gillespie, art director Arthur Lonergan, and writer Irving Block. Robbie was operated (uncredited at the time) by stuntmen Frankie Darro and Frankie Carpenter, both rather short actors. And his voice in the film was done in post-production by actor Marvin Miller. 

The budget was about two million of which it was later estimated that Robbie was actually well over ten percent of that because of the cost of Miller’s time which added considerably to his cost. It made two point eight million, so yes it lost money. 

So what did the critics think? Variety thought it had “Imaginative gadgets galore, plus plenty of suspense and thrills, make the production a top offering in the space travel category” while the Los Angeles Times thought it was “more than another science-fiction movie, with the emphasis on fiction; it is a genuinely thought-through concept of the future, and the production MGM has bestowed on it gives new breadth and dimension to that time-worn phrase, ‘out of this world.’” 

It has a most stellar eighty-five percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. 

(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born June 19, 1915 — Julius Schwartz. He’s best known as a longtime editor at DC Comics, where at various times he was primary editor for the Superman and Batman lines. Just as interestingly, he founded the Solar Sales Service literary agency (1934–1944) where Schwartz represented such writers as Bradbury, Bester,  Bloch, Weinbaum, and Lovecraft which included some of Bradbury’s very first published work and Lovecraft’s last such work. He also published Time Traveller, one of the first fanzines along with Mort Weisinger and Forrest J Ackerman. (Died 2004.)
  • Born June 19, 1921 — Louis Jourdan. Fear No Evil and Ritual of Evil, two very low budget TV horror films in the late Sixties that don’t show up on Rotten Tomatoes, appear to be his first venture into our realm. And no, I can’t say I’ve seen either one of them. He’d play Count Dracula in, errr, Count Dracula a few years later which gets a most excellent seventy-eight rating at Rotten Tomatoes. And then comes the role you most likely remember him for, Dr. Anton Arcane in Swamp Thing which he reprised in The Return of Swamp Thing. (No, don’t ask what they got for ratings. Please don’t ask.) Definitely popcorn films at their very best. Oh, and let’s not forget he was Kamal Khan, the villain in Octopussy! (It’s Moore, again don’t ask.) (Died 2015.)
  • Born June 19, 1926 — Josef Nesvadba. A Czech writer, best known in his SF short stories, many of which have appeared in English translation. ISFDB lists a number of stories as appearing in English and two collections of his translated stories were published, In The Footsteps of the Abominable Snowman : Stories of Science and Fantasy and Vampires Ltd.: Stories of Science and Fantasy. Neither’s available from the usual suspects though Cora can read him in German. (Died 2005.)
  • Born June 19, 1947 — Salman Rushdie, 75. I strongly believe that everything he does has some elements of magic realism in it. (So let the arguments begin on that statement as they will.) So which of his novels are really genre? I’d say The Ground Beneath Her FeetGrimus (his first and largely forgotten sf novel), Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights and Haroun and the Sea of Stories which I essayed here. If you’ve not read anything by him, I’d start with The Ground Beneath Her Feet which is by far both one of his best works and one of his most understandable ones as well.
  • Born June 19, 1952 — Virginia Hey, 70. Best remembered  for her role as Pa’u Zotoh Zhaan in the fantastic Farscape series and playing the Warrior Woman in Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior. She’s also Rubavitch, the mistress of the KGB Head, General Pushkin, in The Living Daylights. She also had a brief appearance as a beautician in The Return of Captain Invincible, an Australian musical comedy superhero film. No, I’ve not seen it, so who has? 
  • Born June 19, 1957 — Jean Rabe, 65. She’s a genre author and editor who has worked on the DragonlanceForgotten RealmsRogue Angel and BattleTech series, as well as many others. Ok I admit to a degree of fascination with such writers as I’m a devotee of the Rogue Angel audiobooks that GraphicAudio does and she’s written at least five of the source novels under the house name of Alex Archer. She has won the Internation Assoication of Media Tie-In Writers’ Faust Award for Lifetime Achievement. 

(14) COMICS SECTION.

  • Off the Mark celebrates Fathers Day.
  • zach can foretell the present!

(15) OVERCOMER. [Item by Steven French.] Interesting interview with Sarah Hall, author of plague novel Burntcoat (not sure writing a book during the pandemic is quite comparable to what Sarah Connor did but ok …) “Sarah Hall: ‘I used to almost fear opening a book’”.

When did you begin writing Burntcoat?
On the first day of the first lockdown in March 2020, with notebooks and a pen, which I’d not done since my first novel, 20 years ago. It felt like a response to what was going on – this odd scribbling in the smallest room in the house, really early in the morning when it was quiet and eerie.

And you kept it up even while home schooling your daughter?
There was some part of me that thought: “This is just one more thing that’s going to make it difficult to work and I’m going to do it anyway.” I was anxious, but I’m a single parent and I go into, as I call it, Sarah Connor mode from The Terminator: it’s out there, here’s my child, what do I need to do? Get buff! I got pains in my hand because I wasn’t used to writing so much.

(16) WACKY WIKI. If for any reason you were wondering whether Vox Day’s Infogalactic is still around, Camestos Felapton permitted his eyeballs to be stabbed with its content in order to research this post: “Incredibly, Voxopedia is still running”.

(17) THE CENTER WILL NOT HOLD. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Washington Post, A.A. Dowd celebrates the 40th anniversary of E.T., saying the film “has the simplicity of a fable and the texture of ordinary American life.” “’E.T.,’ 40 years later, is still the most soulful of box-office sensations”.

… Not that the movie subscribes to the idea of adolescence as a carefree, unburdened time. By now, it’s conventional wisdom that “E.T.” grew out of Spielberg’s memories of his emotionally fraught teenage years. The director modeled his title character on a real imaginary friend he came up with to cope with his parents’ divorce. As written by Melissa Mathison, who combined elements from two scrapped Spielberg projects, the film became a melancholy fantasy deeply haunted by parental absence. At heart, it’s about a broken nuclear family trying to piece itself back together….

(18) WHO NEEDS SPECIAL EFFECTS? Gizmodo is delighted that “Doctor Strange 2 Gets a Dance-Heavy Blooper Reel Before Disney+ Drop”.

… Beyond that, it’s funny to watch the cast’s long capes and skirts get stuck in the scenery and have them try to fight off errant leaves as they wave their arms around doing pretend magic.

(19) A COMMERCIAL MESSAGE FROM OUR FUTURE ROBOT OVERLORDS. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Estonian company Milrem Robotics has joined with a partner company (who supplied the 30 mm autocanon) to demonstrate what their “Type-X“ armored, uncrewed, AI-powered Robotic Combat Vehicle could do if outfitted as a tank. “Robot Tank Firing at Cars and Other Targets Is the Stuff of Nightmares” at Autoevolution.

The disastrous use of tanks by the Russians in Ukraine isn’t stopping defense contractors from researching such platforms, though. Of course, even if they look like traditional tanks, these new machines are as modern as they get.

Take the so-called Type-X Robotic Combat Vehicle, developed over in Europe by Milrem Robotics and Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace. That would be an autonomous, AI-governed, tracked vehicle that could become a common presence on the battlefields of tomorrow….

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

Pixel Scroll 5/6/22 I Pixelled Today’s Scrolldle In Fifth Guesses

(1) KSR AT EARTH DAY GATHERING IN DHARAMSALA. Kim Stanley Robinson was among those present for the 14th Dalai Lama’s “Meeting with Participants in a Dialogue for Our Future”. This was posted on April 22:

…Kim Stanley Robinson, who described himself as a science fiction writer, asked how Buddhism can help science. His Holiness told him that scientists have been interested to discuss ways to achieve peace of mind because they recognise that if the mind is disturbed people won’t be happy. He emphasised the benefits of discovering more about mental consciousness and learning to train it on the basis of reasoning…

(2) VERTLIEB MEDICAL UPDATE. Steve Vertlieb returned to Facebook as he begins his long recovery from major heart surgery.

… My time on Facebook will, for the present, be limited, I fear, in the days ahead, but I just wanted to let everyone know that I’ve survived. I came home from the hospital yesterday (Thursday) after a ten day stay following major open-heart surgery. The procedure lasted approximately six hours, during which my surgeons replaced one heart valve, repaired another, stitched back together the hole in my heart, and stopped my internal bleeding.

This procedure was far more involved and life threatening than I ever imagined or was advised. The second time, it seems, is not the charm, but the entire bracelet. They had to cut through an already existing incision, breaking once healed bones protecting my heart cavity yet again, in order to reach and operate upon the newly troubled areas. My recovery, consequently, will also be far more difficult than my original transition back to health, healing, and wholeness twelve years ago.

The good news, however, is that when I asked my surgeon the chances for a complete recovery, he responded “ONE HUNDRED PERCENT.” Doing anything beyond menial movement and chores over the next several months will be severely limited. My brother Erwin is here with me for the next month or so, and he’ll be taking care of me….

(3) LOWREY ARRIVES. Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund delegate “Orange Mike” Lowrey has returned. “As of 5 p.m. Milwaukee (11 p.m. GMT), I’m off the plane and have already been put back to work here at the bookstore. (Yes, the gout’s still painful.)” Welcome back! Sorry about the gout…

(4) YEAR’S BEST SERIES IN ABEYANCE. Jonathan Strahan, praising a story at his Notes from Coode Street blog, said:

In the meantime, since I’m not currently editing a year’s best anthology series for anyone, I’ll try to note some of the best short fiction I’m reading about the place. My favourite story of the moment is Maureen McHugh’s wonderful “The Goldfish Man“, from Uncanny 45. Because it’s online and shareable, you should go read it if you see this. It would be in my year’s best.

He clarified in a comment there will not be a forthcoming volume in his Year’s Best SF series:

Sadly, those were not successful and they opted not to proceed. I have been looking for new publisher for the series, but to no avail so far.

It was news to me.

(5) I’M WORKING, REALLY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Anne Helen Petersen explains how remote workers can show the home office they’re busy by turning work into a LARP: “LARPing your job” at Culture Study.

…The compulsion to LARP is for those who have to feel accountable to some larger salary god, one who takes earthly shape in the form of our manager, our manager’s manager, and/or our coworkers, all of whom are constantly deciding whether or not we deserve the salaried, privileged position in which we’ve found ourselves. This is largely bullshit, of course: yes, our managers do think about how much we’re producing, but only the worst of them are clocking how many hours our green dot is showing up on Slack. Most of our coworkers are too worried about LARPing their own jobs to worry about how much you’re LARPing yours.

We’re performing, in other words, largely for ourselves. Justifying to ourselves that we deserve the place that we’ve found ourselves. Justifying to ourselves that writing for the internet is a vocation that deserves steady payment. At heart, this is a manifestation of a general undervaluing of our own work: we still navigate the workplace as if getting paid to produce knowledge means we’re getting away with something, and have to do everything possible to make sure no one realizes they’ve made a massive mistake.

Of course, there are myriad cultural and societal forces that have led us to this point of disbelief. Every time someone made fun of my undergrad degree, or my dissertation, or my Ph.D. Every time someone made fun of BuzzFeed, or denigrated writing about celebrities or pop culture generally. Every time someone at a family gathering said something like “must be fun to get paid to go to the movies?” All of those messages come together to tell me that my work is either easy or pointless. No wonder I spend so much time trying to communicate how hard I work…

(6) LOUD AND CLEAR. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] This is a documentary that Penguin Random House UK putout in late April about the new Discworld audiobooks.  This is corporate promotion but still worth 20 minutes in part because you get a sense of how an audiobook is made and also because you get to hear some of the actors who are narrating, as well as Pratchett’s literary executor, Rob Wilkins. One important point is that these books have been called “full cast” audiobooks and they’re not; a single actor narrates each one of the Discworld subseries, with the great Bill Nighy providing the footnotes. Of the narrators I thought Andy Serkis (who now has a pompadour) was the most interesting. “Turning Terry Pratchett’s Discworld into Audiobooks”.

This documentary follows Penguin Audio’s ambitious project of turning the entire Discworld catalog into audiobook format. Click here to find out more: https://linktr.ee/Discworld This is Discworld like you’ve never heard it before. With an incredible cast of names from British stage and screen, including Bill Nighy, Peter Serafinowicz, Indira Varma, Colin Morgan, Andy Serkis and Sian Clifford. This ambitious project, taking 40 unabridged books, containing nearly 4 million words, recording over 135 days and featuring over 420 hours of audio is being produced and directed by Neil Gardner – the multiple award-winning radio writer & director – who is a life-long Terry Pratchett superfan.

(7) STOP AVOIDING THE SF LABEL. At Publishers Weekly, Emily Midkiff argues “Sci-Fi for Kids Is a Missed Publishing Opportunity”.

… When I looked at very different libraries all across the country, I saw the same low supply of science fiction that I had observed in that first elementary school library, but I also saw a high demand for it. In each library, only about 3% of the books were science fiction. I expected to see a corresponding low number of checkouts. Instead, the records showed that science fiction books were getting checked out more often per book than other genres. While realistic fiction books were checked out, on average, one to three times per book and fantasy books were checked out three to four times per book, science fiction books’ checkout numbers were as high as six times per book. These libraries may not have many science fiction books available, but the children seem to compensate by collectively checking out the available books more often.

The librarians were just as surprised as I was. Library software doesn’t keep track of each book’s genre, and so librarians have no easy way of knowing that science fiction books are being checked out so often. Librarians are, however, aware that there isn’t much science fiction available. There just aren’t as many choices as there are for other genres…

(8) GREAT LEAP FORWARD. “’Quantum Leap’ Sequel Scores Series Pickup at NBC”The Hollywood Reporter has details.

Nearly 30 years since the Scott Bakula-led original series signed off after a five-season run on NBC, the broadcast network has handed out a formal series order to the sequel series starring Raymond Lee.

The drama, which was formally picked up to pilot in January, recently wrapped production and is one of a handful of comedies and dramas that is expected to be in formal consideration for the 2022-23 fall schedule.

Written by God Friended Me and Alcatraz duo Steven Lilien and Bryan Wynbrandt — who will now have two shows on NBC with rookie La Brea having already been renewed — the new Quantum Leap follows a new team that has been assembled to restart the Quantum Leap project in the hopes of understanding the mysteries behind the machine and the man who created it 30 years since Dr. Sam Beckett stepped into the accelerator and vanished….

(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1960 [By Cat Eldridge.]

This is Gart Williams, age thirty-eight, a man protected by a suit of armor all held together by one bolt. Just a moment ago, someone removed the bolt, and Mr. Williams’ protection fell away from him, and left him a naked target. He’s been cannonaded this afternoon by all the enemies of his life. His insecurity has shelled him, his sensitivity has straddled him with humiliation, his deep-rooted disquiet about his own worth has zeroed in on him, landed on target, and blown him apart. Mr. Gart Williams, ad agency exec, who in just a moment, will move into the Twilight Zone—in a desperate search for survival. — opening narration of “A Stop at Willoughby”

Sixty-two years ago this evening CBS aired The Twilight Zone’s “A Stop at Willoughby”. So why am I essaying this Scroll? It is because, although I cannot give you an original source for it, it is said that Rod Serling cited this as his favorite story from the first season of the series. This being a story of the Twilight Zone, I’m willing to accept that as a true story.

 So “A Stop at Willoughby” concerns a man so lonely, so unhappy with his life that he starts dreaming as he takes a short nap on the train while commuting home one snowy November day. Waking he finds his dream is real and he is in Willoughby in 1888, which Serling describes as a “peaceful, restful place, where a man can slow down to a walk and live his life full measure.” Even the train, where he’s the only passenger, is eighty years old.

He returns to Willoughby several times where he’s created as if he’s actually resident there but this being the reality of the Twilight Zone, things don’t end as he hopes. I am most definitely not saying what happens as that’d be a major spoiler and there might actually be someone here who hasn’t yet seen it. Though I find that extremely unlikely. 

It shows up repeatedly in popular culture with some instances I’ll note here. The For All Time film starring Mark Harmon was based on this episode. An animated Rugrats “Family Reunion” episode has all of the Pickles family taking the train to Willoughby, with the conductor saying, “Next stop Willoughby!” And in Stargate Atlantis’ “The Real World” episode, Dr. Elizabeth Weir awakens in the Acute Care Unit of Willoughby State Hospital. 

The Twilight Zone is streaming on Paramount +. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born May 6, 1914 Randall Jarrell. Author of the ever so charming The Animal Family which is illustrated by Maurice Sendak. Go read it — you’ll be smiling afterwards. The Anchor Book of Stories has more of his genre friendly stories. (Died 1965.)
  • Born May 6, 1915 Orson Welles. Certainly the broadcast of “The War of the Worlds” in 1938 was his pinnacle of genre success, but for the Federal Theatre Project he also did the 1936 adaptation of Macbeth with an entirely African American cast that was absolutely amazing. That was known as the Voodoo Macbeth which might give you an idea of what he did to it. He would later do a more straightforward film of Macbeth. And of course he made a most excellent radio Shadow as well! (Died 1985.)
  • Born May 6, 1946 Nancy Kilpatrick, 76. Fangoria called her “Canada’s answer to Anne Rice”. I do recommend the anthology she edited Danse Macabre: Close Encounters with the Reaper as it’s a most excellent horror collection. 
  • Born May 6, 1952 Michael O’Hare. He was best known for playing Commander Jeffrey Sinclair in the first season of Babylon 5.  Other genre appearances were limited — he played Fuller in the 1984 film C.H.U.D, was Jimmy in the “Heretic” episode of Tales from the Darkside and appeared as a thug on the subway train in The Trial of the Incredible Hulk. And yes, he’s one of Babylon 5 actors who died well before they should’ve. (Died 2012.)
  • Born May 6, 1961 Carlos Lauchu, 61. Anubis, the captain of Ra’s personal guard, in the original Stargate film. His only other genre acting was two appearances in the Monsters anthology series. 

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • Bizarro has Superman explaining why you can’t afford to be subtle in comics.

(12) MOON KNIGHT QR & A. Variety reveals “How Marvel Studios Buried Secret Messages via QR Codes Inside ‘Moon Knight’”.

It’s not every day that one can write a sentence that reasonably connects the Fox animated series “Bob’s Burgers,” the House of Terror museum of fascist and communist regimes in Hungary, and the Marvel Cinematic Universe — but in 2022, anything is possible.

Let’s back up. Ever since the Marvel Studios series “Moon Knight” debuted on Disney+ on March 30, eagle-eyed viewers have noticed a series of semi-conspicuous QR codes in the background of scenes in the first, second and fifth episodes of the show. Scanning the codes sends viewers to a special website that contains a weekly free web comic featuring the Moon Knight character through the run of the show, from his first appearance in 1975 through his most recent issue in 2019.

It’s a savvy way to expand viewers’ comic book knowledge for a character even serious Marvel fans may never have read, and it’s been wildly successful: According to Disney, the landing page has been visited over 1.5 million times, leading to over 500,000 full comics read to date…

(13) DOUBLE-CROSSOVER. [Item by Danny Sichel.] in 2004, KC Carlson compiled an Oral History of the JLA/Avengers crossover from the early 80s. The one that was never published. The Oral History wasn’t published either — possibly because it presents a rather unpleasant image of many of the people involved. But now here it is. At Comics Beat:

George Pérez:  “It just ended up being one thing after another — accusations both from DC and Marvel towards each other — until I realized there was a lot more private politics that seemed to be going on which were killing the book I really wanted to work on. After a while I became very bitter about the entire thing. It was never more apparent to me that, as much as I love drawing comics, it’s still a business, and politics and petty squabbles can kill a project, even such a potential money-maker.”  — Modern Masters Volume 2: George Pérez, 2003

George nailed it. If there ever was a single comics project that embodied company politics, petty squabbles, and flying accusations, it was the original JLA/Avengers crossover, scheduled to be jointly published between Marvel Comics and DC Comics in the summer of 1983 — the fifth in a series of highly successful team-ups. Pairing the legendary Justice League of America (JLA) and the mighty Avengers, this project would include virtually all of the quintessential characters from the two companies’ lineups….

George Pérez:  “I had been drawing for two weeks and was already starting page 21, when I received a call from Len Wein saying they needed to find out what changes I was making in the plot. (DC staffer) Joey Cavalieri had to do a piecemeal plot based on things I had changed — ideas, if not actual explanations — since I hadn’t quite worked out everything as I was going along yet.” — Comics Interview #6, August 1983

Gerry Conway, unwilling to do another draft of the plot, leaves the project at this point. Cavalieri, in consultation with Perez and Wein, cobbles together a new plot — draft #3 — and Giordano rushes it into Shooter’s hands….

(14) ABOUT JANE 57821. Janelle Monáe’s volume of collaborative stories is the subject of  “Review: The Memory Librarian and Other Stories of Dirty Computer” by Arturo Serrano at Nerds of a Feather.

… The introduction to the collection is a quick summary of the rise of a totalitarian regime, New Dawn, whose control over society was possible because “we accepted their offer that an eye in the sky might protect us from… ourselves.” With the assurance of total visibility, an immediate problem emerged regarding privacy and deviancy, and the regime decided that “what they struggled to see, they began to deem not worthy of being seen—inconsistent, off standard. Began calling it dirty—unfit to be swallowed by their eyes.”

In the backstory that this introduction presents, the new social category of the dirty started being applied to modes of thought and identity that did not fit the rigid standards of the regime. The stories that compose this collection explore various characters’ struggle to reclaim, preserve, and even celebrate the dirty….

(15) A LAUGH RIOT IT’S NOT. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] “The debut episode of the new Star Trek show has drawn complaints for using documentary footage of the 2014 Maidan Uprising to depict an alien riot,” reports Gizmodo: Star Trek Strange New Worlds Uses Ukrainian Protest Footage as Alien Riot”.

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds heads to the franchise’s past to tell adventure stories for a bright, optimistic future—but its very first episode has looked to our own recent history to provide a proxy that has some very unfortunate connotations.

Part of the first episode of the new series, titled “Strange New Worlds” itself, sees the Enterprise’s Captain Pike (Anson Mount), Lt. Spock (Ethan Peck), and Lt. Noonien-Singh (Christina Chong) beam down to an alien world, Kiley 279, in an attempt to recover missing Starfleet officers in the wake of a First Contact meeting. The trio arrives to find the world a pre-warp civilization being torn apart by a conflict between the planetary government and a local uprising…

…Shortly after the away team lands on Kiley 279, they come across a crowd of civilians watching a news broadcast on an outside monitor, discussing an overnight series of protests taking place across the Kiley civilization. However, the footage shown is from much closer to our home than the world of Star Trek: it’s footage taken during the late 2013-early 2014 civil unrest in Ukraine known as “Euromaidan,” or the Maidan Uprising.

…Footage from the Maidan Uprising is not the only archival protest footage used in the episode—later on in the episode, Captain Pike shows the Kiley 279 government a selection of footage from Earth’s history as a precedent to World War III in Star Trek’s timeline, notably using footage from the January 6th 2021 riots at the U.S. Capitol as Pike draws a direct line between a “second Civil War, and then the Eugenics War, and then finally just World War III.”… 

(16) ROBOHOP. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Dine Brands—corporate parent of both IHOP and Applebee’s—is among the restaurant companies beginning or expanding experiments with robotics. The bots have roles both back-of-house (e.g., food prep) and front-of-house (e.g., delivering food or busing tables). Labor shortages are said to be the biggest inspiration. “Applebee’s And IHOP Are Adding New Technologies, Including Robotics, To Offset Labor Shortages” at Forbes.

…Further, IHOP has a new point-of-sale system that streamlines orders across channels and a franchisee is also testing a robot that can deliver food to guests and bus tables. Robotic servers are starting to pop up across the casual dining segment, including at Denny’s and Chili’s, the latter of which just expanded deployment to 51 more restaurants.

It’s too early to tell if such an approach is worth a broader rollout. Peyton did say, however, that the robot makes servers more productive and efficient and “guests and kids think it’s super cool.”

“Also, borrowing from QSR, we’re testing a robotic arm that can work the fryer station,” he said. “If we have one less cook in the kitchen, this can help them be more efficient and productive.”…

(17) 8K. Seán Doran provides some video of a crater on Mars from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter: “A Very Detailed View Of A Crater On Planet Mars”.

This is ESP_073055_1675 from HiRISE camera onboard Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. Frame height is approximately 1km taken from an orbit height of 250km. Source was denoised, blended, graded, rescaled & animated to create the footage. HiRISE (High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment) is the most powerful camera ever sent to another planet, one of six instruments onboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. The color you see in HiRISE images is not the “true” color human eyes would see on Mars. This is because the HiRISE camera views Mars in a different part of the spectrum than human eyes do. The camera has three different color filtered CCDs: red, blue-green, and near-infrared. False color imagery is extremely valuable because it illuminates the distinction between different materials and textures.

(18) MAKE A DOUBLE BATCH. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Do you know where your Cumberbatch is? James Cordon of The Late Late Show, Elizabeth Olsen, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Benedict Cumberbatch dispute whether telling news-based jokes or drinking margaritas is more important on Cinco de Mayo. Or maybe it’s figuring out which Benedict Cumberbatch is from our universe. “Benedict Cumberbatch and Elizabeth Olsen interrupting James Corden’s monologue is sheer chaos” at Mashable.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Rob Thornton, Andrew (Not Werdna), Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, and Chris Barkley for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]

Cats Sleep on SFF: Monstrous Regiment

MSB’s cat Susie B takes cover behind a Monstrous Regiment – what could be safer?

The attached photo shows my cat Susie B hiding from the hoover behind my Terry Pratchett collection, as she does every week. I use Ikea’s Ivar shelves, so as to pack as many volumes in the space as possible. Susie resumes her place on the sofa (in the sun) as soon as the hoover stops.


Photos of your felines (or whatever you’ve got!) resting on genre works are welcome. Send to mikeglyer (at) cs (dot) com