Pixel Scroll 12/14/22 Scroll My Pixeling Down, Sport

(1) LOCUS CROWDFUNDING NEARS FINISH LINE. The Locus Magazine Indiegogo campaign wraps up tomorrow. Backers have pledged $73,015 of $75,000 as of this afternoon – they may make it!

Sarah Gailey interviewed Locus’ publisher and editor-in-chief at Stone Soup: “Liza Groen Trombi Asks Better Questions”.

…Locus is a hub of genre community news, collecting stories about publishers, awards, conferences, publishing rights, deaths, and so much more. You encounter a massive volume of information every day — you’ve mentioned elsewhere that Locus receives as many as 80-100 emails in an hour. How do you process that avalanche into such a concise and informative package?

Practice, practice, practice. We have a lot of systems to gather info, an amazing senior editor who sifts through hundreds of emails every day pulling out news and all the important bits and bobs (Tim Pratt – we all bow down to his speed and competence), another who indexes all of our incoming books, many of which we hear about in email at this point (Carolyn Cushman), another who is constantly chasing up new titles and hunting down info  (Arley Sorg)… and we also know we aren’t going to cover everything, catch every bit of news. So then a little self-compassion helps a lot….

(2) THE SUN IN A JAR. In “Fusion? We’ve Seen This Movie Before”, the New York Times tells how popular culture is setting viewers’ expectations for a scientific breakthrough.  

…You probably already have some familiarity with fusion thanks to movies.

At the end of the 1985 sci-fi classic “Back to the Future,” Dr. Emmett Brown, played by Christopher Lloyd, soups up his tricked-out time-traveling DeLorean by feeding trash into a canister called the Mr. Fusion Home Energy Reactor attached to the top of the car. And in “Spider-Man 2,” from 2004, the well-meaning scientist Dr. Octavius (a.k.a. Doc Ock, played by Alfred Molina) creates a fusion reactor with an artificial sun at the center. But when it gets out of control, so does he, transforming into a villain who aims to re-create the dangerous machine.

Pop culture’s fascination with fusion goes beyond a process that sustains robotics and machinery; our culture’s collective dreams of safe, unlimited energy have even been epitomized by some of our heroes….

(3) MAPPING THE OUTER DARKNESS. Sunday Morning Transport marks “Reader Favorite Wednesday” by posting as a free read Yoon Ha Lee’s “Nonstandard Candles”.

Why hasn’t Yoon Ha Lee won all the awards? His writing is always smart, inventive, and above all compelling—everything you want Science Fiction to be. This story, about making maps through the darkest of spaces, is just one example, and especially apropos given everything going on in the world right now.

(4) TWISTED SISTERS CREATOR REMEMBERED. The Comics Journal reports “Diane Noomin’s Memorial Service at SVA, November 10, 2022”, a profile of the artist with a full a transcript of the remarks by her husband Bill Griffith (excerpted below).

… Diane was my partner in so many ways, from our mutual love for comics and art to a decades-long, behind the scenes collaboration on what we produced, and as aunts and uncles, brothers and sisters, and friends to our extended family. But here’s the thing to remember. We were each other’s creative editors on every project we worked on, on her Twisted Sisters anthologies, on her career-spanning Glitz-2-Go book, on her recent landmark book, Drawing Power, and especially for me, on my four graphic novels, the last one still in progress. Diane’s fingerprints are all over every page of all of those books. I can’t begin to count how many times, after reading a few of my pages as I created them, she’d say, “Put more feeling into it. Get under the character’s skin, bring out the emotion. Put in some backstory.”

These books wouldn’t be the same without Diane. I can only hope I absorbed enough of her spot-on insights and continuity expertise to keep me on the straight and narrow in the future….

(5) RICHARD MILLER (1942-2022).  Industrial Light and Magic sculptor Richard Miller died December 8 at the age of 80. Deadline led with his work creating Princess Leia’s gold bikini costume for Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, and followed with a long list of credits of his work on other Hollywood films, many of which were genre.

His work was used in films like Willow (1988), Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988) Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), Body Wars (1989), Back to the Future Part II (1989), Back to the Future Part III (1990), Backdraft (1991), Rocketeer (1991), Hook (1991) and Death Becomes Her (1992).

Other movies his work was featured in were The Flintstones (1994), Baby’s Day Out (1994), The Mask (1994), Casper (1995), Congo (1995), Jumanji (1995), Mission Impossible (1996), Spawn (1997), Flubber (1997).

Miller returned to the Star Wars universe when his sculptures were used in the three prequels of the saga. His credits also included films like The Mummy (1999), Space Cowboys (2000), A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001), Planet of the Apes (2001), Hulk (2003) and Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003).

Some of his last work was on the Pirates of the Caribbean series of films.

(6) MEMORY LANE.

2007? [By Cat Eldridge.] The Ent in Birmingham 

Yes, there’s an Ent in Birmingham. Well, there’s supposed to be.

Let’s start at the beginning with the solicitation: “In honour of JRR Tolkien, a Treebeard type Statue is going to be built for the centre of Moseley, the place where he grew up as a child and where he puts his inspiration down to. In this area, very close to his second childhood home in what was the hamlet of Sarehole (now part of Moseley) are the amazing places of Moseley Bog, the Dell and Sarehole Mill. These 3 places, alongside the River Cole have been preserved and protected, allowing the writer to experience what it must have been like for JRR and his brother Hilary as children.” 

They raised the cost by selling leaves, to wit “Under ‘him’, will be a bed of leaves on which you can have a personalised dedication engraved and so be associated with this most famous of writers. We are offering 30 large bronze leaves at a fixed price of £2000.” 

So far, so good. The twenty foot tall stainless steel structure is off Treebeard and it up in Moseley Village Green, near J. R. R. Tolkien’s childhood home in Birmingham. It will eventually be made by the author’s great-nephew Tim Tolkien.

Let me now quote the sculptor at length from an interview in 2007: “The ‘Ent’ idea was the one that was most liked. There was some negative criticism but enough positive, too, for planning permission to be granted.  

The design stage is complete now. It took probably about two to three years; the time was spent considering different ideas and going through the process of getting planning permission.  A model was made and used to create mock photos, which people thought were very realistic. I’ve had people ring to see if the statue has been moved, because they’ve seen the mock photos then gone to visit, but I haven’t started making yet. I won’t until all the money is there.  It will take about six months to construct the statue; I will build it in pieces then put it together on the site.”

In the meantime, local opposition has mounted several campaigns to get the local authorities to rescind their approval for it going there with one group claiming that Tolkien is not a major British literary figure and therefore this is an improper usage of that space. Yes, they really did say that.

Yes, there are digital models as it’ll appear placed there so here’s one. It might indeed be up but I can find no proof that it online. On the other leaf, it might never actually have happened. The Google Maps photo of the proposed location shows nothing but lawn.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 14, 1916 Shirley Jackson. First gained public attention for her short story “The Lottery, or, The Adventures of James Harris” but it was her The Haunting of Hill House novel which has made her legendary as a horror novelist as it’s truly a chilling ghost story.  I see that she’s written quite a bit of genre short fiction — has anyone here read it? And yes, I know there’s at least one series made off The Haunting of Hill House novel but you already know my opinion on such matters. (Died 1965.)
  • Born December 14, 1920 Rosemary Sutcliff. English novelist whose best known for children’s books, particularly her historical fiction which involved retellings of myths and legends, Arthurian and otherwise. Digging into my memory, I remember reading The Chronicles of Robin Hood which was her first published novel and rather good; The Eagle of the Ninth is set in Roman Britain and was an equally fine read. (Died 1992.)
  • Born December 14, 1949 David A. Cherry, 73. Illustrator working mostly in the genre. Amazingly he has been nominated eleven times for Hugo Awards, and eighteen times for Chesley Awards with an astonishing eight wins! He is a past president of the Association of Science Fiction and Fantasy Artists. Oh, and he’s is the brother of the science fiction writer C. J. Cherryh (“Cherry” is the original spelling of the last name of the family) so you won’t be surprised that he’s painted cover art for some of her books such as The Cherryh Odyssey and The Kif Strike Back! as well as books for Robert Asprin, Andre Norton, Diane Duane, Lynn Abbey and Piers Anthony to name but a few.
  • Born December 14, 1954 James Horan, 68. One of those actors that had roles across the Trek verse, having appeared on Next GenerationVoyager, Deep Space Nine and Enterprise. He also voiced a character on Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles, and showed up on Highlander, Charmed and Lost. Like so many Trek alums, he’s also been on The Orville
  • Born December 14, 1959 Debbie Lee Carrington. Actress who was an ardent advocate for performers with disabilities. She was the performer inside the Howard the Duck costume, a Martian rebel named Thumbelina in Total Recall, an Ewok in Return of the Jedi (and in the TV movies that followed, a Drone in Invaders from Mars, Little Bigfoot in Harry and the Hendersons, an Emperor Penguin in Batman Returns and a Chucky double in Curse of Chucky. (Died 2018.)
  • Born December 14, 1966 Sarah Zettel, 56. Her first novel, Reclamation, was nominated for the Philip K. Dick Award in 1996, and in 1997 tied for the Locus Award for the Best First Novel. Writing under the alias of C. L. Anderson, her novel Bitter Angels won the 2010 Philip K. Dick award for best paperback original novel. If you’ve not read her, I’d recommend her YA American Fairy Trilogy as a good place to start.
  • Born December 14, 1968 Kelley Armstrong54. Canadian writer, primarily of fantasy novels since the early party of the century. She has published thirty-one fantasy novels to date, thirteen in her Women of the Otherworld series, another five in her Cainsville series. I’m reasonably sure I listened to the Cainsville series and would recommend it wholeheartedly.

(8) INVESTIGATING CONSCIOUSNESS. The Hugo Book Club Blog reviews “The Tentacle of Empathy” by Ray Nayler.

…The novel’s depiction of semi-functional future geopolitics and extreme forms of predatory capitalism are sadly believable, but written with interesting nuance. Nayler’s background working in the foreign service has given him a perspective and a knowledge that lends the story credibility.

But at its core, the strength of the novel is in how richly it explores the ways in which humans interpret experiences, how different sensoria and neurological architecture might construct individual understandings of the world, and how artificial intelligences might evolve and what that could mean for their sentience. It’s impossible to know what’s going on in another being’s head, nor whether depicting these processes can ever be accomplished, but we suspect that Nayler has done this about as well as possible….

The author was pleased —

(9) BLOOD SCIENCE. “World-First Trial Transfusing Lab-Grown Red Blood Cells Begins”ScienceAlert has details.

…The world-first trial, underway in the UK, is studying whether red blood cells made in the laboratory last longer than blood cells made in the body.

Although the trial is only small, it represents a “huge stepping stone for manufacturing blood from stem cells,” says University of Bristol cell biologist Ashley Toye, one of the researchers working on the study.

To generate the transfusions, the team of researchers isolated stem cells from donated blood and coaxed them into making more red blood cells, a process that takes around three weeks.

In the past, researchers showed they could transfuse lab-grown blood cells back into the same donor they were derived from. This time, they have infused the manufactured cells into another compatible person – a process known as allogeneic transfusion….

(10) SOME LIGHTNING FOR THUNDER LIZARDS. 65 comes to movie theaters March 10. SYFY Wire explains the premise.

…The new film, written and directed by A Quiet Place creators Scott Beck and Bryan Woods, opens with a very familiar premise. Commander Mills (Adam Driver), a starship pilot, is sending out a distress signal after his ship crashed on an uncharted planet. With his means of escape ripped to shreds and just one human survivor (Arianna Greenblatt) to co-exist with on this new world, he has no choice but to simply work to survive until some form of help can arrive. What he doesn’t know, of course, is that he’s crashed somewhere very familiar, not to him, but certainly to us.

That’s right, the “65” of the title is for “65 million years ago,” pitting Driver’s character against all manner of prehistoric creatures who’ve never seen the likes of him before, and setting up some very interesting implications about the early history of Earth….

(11) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “’A Very Cold War Christmas’ – A Late Show Animated Holiday Classic”.

It’s Christmas eve, and after Vladimir Putin demands Ukraine for Christmas, Santa must defend the North Pole against a Russian invasion. President Biden delivers much needed aid to Santa via bicycle drawn choo-choo train, and then sends an elite elf squadron of North Pole’s best to the Kremlin in a Top Gun style mission culminating in an epic face off in Red Square. Are you ready to “Ride into the Manger Zone?”

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

Pixel Scroll 10/19/22 The Music Slan

Illo by Teddy Harvia

(1) UNCLE HUGO’S NEWS. Don Blyly’s latest email says a sign for Uncle Hugo’s has finally been installed on the west side of the building. He hopes the new awnings will be installed on the front of the building within the next few weeks, replacing the ones with the old tenant’s name.

Blyly also pointed out that a couple of the local TV stations have done reports on the Uncles re-opening. “You can see the new building, Ecko acting as store dog, and me explaining things to the camera.”

Minneapolis TV station KARE 11 has the text on its website, and the video on YouTube: “The Uncles are back: After burning to the ground, beloved Minneapolis bookstores find new home”.

“I had more and more people who were saying, ‘Please, please reopen. We can’t find anything like what you were offering,'” Blyly said.

Blyly originally opened Uncle Hugo’s Science Fiction Bookstore in 1974. While attending law school and reading constitutional law in the library, Blyly decided he needed something fun to do as a pastime. He had about $1,500 in student loan money left and decided to use it to open a bookstore.

After opening Uncle Hugo’s, customers came to him requesting the same type of concept but for mysteries. When Blyly couldn’t find anyone interested in doing it, he opened Uncle Edgar’s Mystery Bookstore at a separate location in 1980.

Eventually, both bookstores were housed in the same building off of Chicago Avenue. That remained the Uncles’ home until the building burned down in the early morning hours of May 30, 2020.

Here’s the report aired by Minneapolis CBS affiliate WCCO: “Beloved sci-fi bookstore, in business since the ’70s, reopens”.

(2) FANTASTIC FICTION AT KGB FUNDRAISER. Matt Kressel says the “Fantastic Fiction reading series at the KGB Bar” Gofundme needs a push to get over the finish line.

Thank you to all those who’ve donated so far! We’re more than two-thirds of the way to our goal of funding the series for three more years! We have just under $2,000 left to go. Can you help us reach our goal this week?

(3) SEAT OF FAME. Richard Wilhelm offers Facebook readers the opportunity to claim a piece of history.

Is anyone interested in owning a piece (actually, three pieces) of Science Fiction history? We have a couch and two matching chairs to give away to someone. They are a set from the 30s; overstuffed with mohair upholstery and carved wood arms. They were owned by my folks, authors Kate Wilhelm and Damon Knight, since the 1960s, and just about every author you’ve heard of from the realm of Science/Speculative Fiction mid-century forward, has sat in these at one time or another. Yes, there’s a caveat… They all need TLC to bring them back to excellent condition. Plus, you’d need to pick them up in North Portland.

(4) DISNEY V. FRANCE. The Guardian explains why Disney is resisting France’s protective regulations. “Disney threatens to bypass French cinemas unless release rules are relaxed”.

Disney is to release Black Panther: Wakanda Forever in French cinemas next month but has warned that future blockbusters may go straight to its streaming service, Disney+, unless France relaxes film distribution rules….

…Earlier this year, Disney took a stance against the French “windowing” system, which is designed to protect its industry and national TV industries, sending the animated action adventure Strange World straight to Disney+.

Films that are not released in French cinemas are not subject to the restrictive windowing regulations. In January, French film authorities shortened the window between film release and availability on subscription streaming services to 15 months but Disney was not a signatory of the new deal.

Disney said it had decided to push ahead with the cinema release of the Black Panther sequel because the French authorities have acknowledged that the windowing system “needs to be modernised”….

(5) EMIGRATING TO MARS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] This is from an interview with Elon Musk by Financial Times editor Roula Khalaf, behind a paywall in the October 8 Financial Times.  X is Elon Musk’s son.

Musk’s biggest worry is the preservation of life beyond Earth.  His solution is to populate Mars. ‘Something will happen to Earth eventually, it’s just a question of time.  Eventually the sun will expand and destroy all life on Earth, so we do need to move at some point, or at least be a multi-planet species,’ he says.  ‘You have to ask the question:  do we want to be a space-flying civilisation and a multi-planet species or not?’  I’m not sure what i think but Musk is emphatic.  ‘It’s a question of what percentage of resources we should devote to such an endeavour?  I think if you say 1 per cent of resources, that’s probably a reasonable amount.

Would Musk himself join the pioneering colony on Mars? ‘Especially if I’m growing old, I’ll do it.  Why not?’ he says.  But how useful would he be to Mars if he’s too old?  ‘I think there’s some non-trivial chance of dying, so I’d prefer to take that change hen I’m a bit older, and saw my kids grow up.  Rather than right now, when little X is only two-and-a-half.  I think he’d miss me.’

(6) HANDMADE BY MARTIANS. Meanwhile, the Guardian observes artists who are exploring what life might be like if a human colony was established on Mars. “An other-worldly art project: the artists furnishing a Martian house”.

There is a “Martian guitar” manufactured out of recycled pieces of wood and metal with an amp fashioned from a coffee pot. A surprisingly comfortable chair, plus rug and curtains, have been created out of the sort of parachute material a Mars landing craft may have used.

The bedding in the sleeping pods has been decorated with dyes from plants, while a “mist shower” has been made using bits of hose and garden irrigation sprays.

Over the last 10 weeks, the people of Bristol have been taking part in an other-worldly art project – to furnish a “Martian house” that materialised, golden and gleaming, on the harbour-side in Bristol during the summer only using recycled and repurposed objects….

(7) THE PLANET WITH PUMPKINS. The previous two items perhaps set the mood for us to link to Library of America’s “Story of the Week”, Ray Bradbury’s “The Emissary”. It’s a Halloween tale, not a Mars story, so the segue isn’t completely smooooth.  Here’s an excerpt from the introduction.  

“Halloweens I have always considered wilder and richer and more important than even Christmas morn,” Ray Bradbury wrote in an article for the October 1975 issue of Reader’s Digest. “1928 was one of the prime Halloween years. Everything that was grandest came to a special climax that autumn.”

Ray Bradbury was eight years old that year, and his beloved Aunt Neva, 19 years old and recently graduated from high school, owned a Model-A Ford. Sometime around October 20, he recalls in his essay, she said to Ray, “It’s coming fast. Let’s make plans.” She drove him and his brother, Skip, around the countryside to collect pumpkins, corn sheaves, and other decorations to embellish their grandparents’ house for the upcoming festivities. “Then, everything set and placed and ready, you run out late from house to house to make certain-sure that each boy-ghost remembers, that each girl-become-witch will be there.” The big night arrived . . . and then it was over.

“365 darn days until Halloween again. What if I die, waiting?” Ray complained.

“Why, then,” Skip responded, “you’ll be Halloween. Dead people are Halloween.”

(8) STAND BY FOR SCIENCE FICTION IN REAL LIFE. “Next pandemic may come from melting glaciers, new data shows” – the Guardian has the story.

The next pandemic may come not from bats or birds but from matter in melting ice, according to new data.

Genetic analysis of soil and lake sediments from Lake Hazen, the largest high Arctic freshwater lake in the world, suggests the risk of viral spillover – where a virus infects a new host for the first time – may be higher close to melting glaciers.

The findings imply that as global temperatures rise owing to climate change, it becomes more likely that viruses and bacteria locked up in glaciers and permafrost could reawaken and infect local wildlife, particularly as their range also shifts closer to the poles.

For instance, in 2016 an outbreak of anthrax in northern Siberia that killed a child and infected at least seven other people was attributed to a heatwave that melted permafrost and exposed an infected reindeer carcass. Before this, the last outbreak in the region had been in 1941.

To better understand the risk posed by frozen viruses, Dr Stéphane Aris-Brosou and his colleagues at the University of Ottawa in Canada collected soil and sediment samples from Lake Hazen, close to where small, medium and large amounts of meltwater from local glaciers flowed in….

(9) EDGAR ALLAN POE NEWS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] This is a group that is trying to create a national theater for Poe’s works and is having a performance as a fundraiser in Baltimore. They have a trailer! “Poe’s Blood, Sweat & Fears”.

(10) MEMORY LANE.

1990 [By Cat Eldridge.] Ray Bradbury Theater’s “And the Moon Be Still as Bright” (1990)

It was so cold when they first came from the rocket into the night that Spender began to gather the dry Martian wood and build a small fire. He didn’t say anything about a celebration; he merely gathered the wood, set fire to it, and watched it burn.  — opening words of “And the Moon Be Still as Bright”

Ahhhh Bradbury. So have I mentioned that I’m madly in love with the fiction that he wrote? Well I am. Damn great stuff it is. And he himself was a wonderful individual as well.

So this Scroll we’re looking at the Ray Bradbury Theater’s production of “And the Moon Be Still as Bright” thirty-two years ago. It was first published in Thrilling Wonder Stories in the June 1948 issue where it would’ve cost you twenty cents, and three dollars today adjusted for inflation, still a bargain I’d say. It would become part of The Martian Chronicles when that was first published by Doubleday two years later. It was the lead story there. 

OK SPOILERS LIKE AUTUMN LEAVES ABOUND NOW. 

This is the third of the Mars expeditions and they find nothing but leaves. Leaves that are actually the ashes of the Martins all killed by a human disease. One member of the expedition is so outraged by this as he thinks that he can foresee how humanity and its culture will supplant all which remains of Mars.

He being an archaeologist vows to become a Martian himself so he goes off to a nearby town to study what he thinks is Martian culture and wage a one-man war against humanity. Of course the only humans are his fellow crew whose defilement of Mars he hates. He kills several when he returns to them. 

Studying the other is a long passion in archaeology and anthropology as Le Guin as noted more than once. It’s interesting to Bradbury use it here in telling a story. And yes it often ends this badly.

END OF SPOILERS. JOIN ME BY THE FIRE FOR SOME MULLED CIDER. 

David Carridine as Spender is absolutely perfect here though the rest of the cast are really little than barely sketched out. The production values are ok but it really didn’t convince me that they were anywhere but on a backlot in California. But then Star Trek with a much higher budget didn’t either. 

Look I think Bradbury is one of the great writers and be forewarned that this is one of his more brutal undertakings from start to finish. It’s not one of his comfortable stories at all. 

Want to watch it? You’re spoiled for streaming choices as it is on Amazon, Freevee, Peacock, Pluto and Vudu which might well be a record. 

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 19, 1921 George Nader. In 1953, he was Roy, the leading man in Robot Monster (a.k.a. Monster from Mars and Monsters from the Moon) acknowledged by him and others to be the one of the worst SF films ever made. He showed up in some decidedly low budget other SF films such as The Human DuplicatorsBeyond Atlantis and The Great Space Adventure. Note: contrary to popular belief, Robot Monster is not in the public domain. This movie is under active copyright held by Wade Williams Distribution. (Died 2002.)
  • Born October 19, 1940 Michael Gambon, 82. Actor of Stage and Screen from Ireland who is best known to genre fans as Professor Albus Dumbledore from the Hugo-nominated Harry Potter films (a role he picked up after the passing of Richard Harris, who played the character in the first two films). He also had roles in Toys (for which he received a Saturn nomination), Mary ReillySleepy Hollow, and the Hugo finalist Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. He has had guest roles in episodes of The Jim Henson HourDoctor Who, and Tales of the Unexpected, and played an acerbic storyteller and possibly tomb robber in Jim Henson’s The Storyteller. He has also done voice roles in animated features including Fantastic Mr. FoxPaddington, and The Wind in the Willows, in which he voiced very nicely The Badger. 
  • Born October 19, 1943 L.E. Modesitt, Jr., 79. Writer of more than 70 novels and 10 different series, the best known of which is his fantasy series The Saga of Recluce. He has been Guest of Honor at numerous conventions, including a World Fantasy Convention. He won a Neffy for his Endgames novel, and a Utah Speculative Fiction Award for his Archform: Beauty novel. 
  • Born October 19, 1943 Peter Weston. Writer, Editor, Conrunner, and Fan from England who founded the Birmingham Science Fiction Group (the longest-lived fan group in the U.K.), and chaired several conventions, including the 1979 Worldcon. His fanzines Zenith and Speculation received 8 Hugo nominations, and his memoir With Stars in My Eyes: My Adventures in British Fandom was a finalist for the Hugo Award for Best Related Book. He was the TAFF delegate in 1974, was Guest of Honor at several conventions, was given a Lifetime Achievement Award by the long-running fanzine convention Corflu, and received the Doc Weir Award (the UK Natcon’s Life Achievement Award). (Died 2017.) (JJ)
  • Born October 19, 1945 John Lithgow, 77. He enters SF fame as Dr. Emilio Lizardo / Lord John Whorfin in The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension. He’ll later be in Santa Claus: The MovieHarry and the HendersonsShrekRise of the Planet of the ApesInterstellar and the remake of Pet Sematary. Oh, and he voiced The White Rabbit on the Once Upon a Time in Wonderland series! He of course is Dick Solomon in 3rd Rock from the Sun.  And for true genre creds, he voiced the character of Yoda in the NPR adaptations of The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.
  • Born October 19, 1946 Philip Pullman, 76. I’ll confess that I like his Sally Lockhart mysteries, both the original versions and the Billy Piper-led series, far more than I enjoy the Dark Materials series as there’s a freshness and imagination at work there I don’t see in the latter. Oh, some of the latter is quite good — I quite enjoyed Lyra’s Oxford and Once Upon a Time in The North as the shortness of them works in their favor.
  • Born October 19, 1948 Jerry Kaufman, 74. Writer, Editor, Conrunner, and Fan who, while in Australia as the DUFF delegate, created a Seattle bid for the Australian Natcon which actually won the bid (temporarily, for a year, before it was overturned and officially awarded to Adelaide). He was editor of, and contributor to, numerous apazines and fanzines, two of which received Hugo nominations. With Donald Keller, he founded and ran Serconia Press, which published criticism and memoirs of the SF field. He served on the Board of Directors of the Clarion West Writers Workshop and served as Jurist for the James Tiptree, Jr., Memorial Award. He has been Fan Guest of Honor at several conventions, including a Westercon. (JJ) 
  • Born October 19, 1990 Ciana Renee, 32. Her most known genre role is as Kendra Saunders / Hawkgirl on Legends of Tomorrow and related Arrowverse series. She also showed up on The Big Bang Theory as Sunny Morrow in “The Conjugal Configuration”, and she played The Witch in the theatrical production of Daniel Wallace’s Big Fish: A Novel of Mythic Proportions.  She was also Elsa in the theatrical production of Frozen.

(12) THE QUEER ANTICAPITALIST AFROFUTURIST HIP HOP MUSICAL EXTRAVAGANZA YOU’VE ALL BEEN WAITING FOR. [Item by Olav Rokne.] Look, I’ll admit it, I’m full-on campaigning to see Neptune Frost get shortlisted for a Hugo Award. It’s a supremely complex, layered, and challenging piece of cinema. It tackles a wide variety of social justice issues that need to be addressed within fandom (human rights, exploitation, the marginalization of the Global South). And it is the product of creative voices who have all-too-often been silenced in fandom and in broader discourse. 

Put bluntly, this isn’t the feel-good Hollywood corporate refined product that often ends up on awards ballots. This is a raw anarchic kaleidoscope of narrative art that takes work to understand and appreciate. I’ve seen it three times, and keep finding new layers to appreciate. Like, I’m still mentally chewing on the line “To imagine hell is a privilege.”

Honestly, it’s kind of great.

The four of us from my blogging group who watched it all argued about the content for most of a year before being able to craft a review: “A Unanimous Gold Mine Of Subtext” at the Hugo Book Club Blog.

If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like if Sun Ra and Samuel R. Delany had tried to make The Matrix, the answer is something like Neptune Frost….

(13) NIGHTMARE AT 351,000 FEET. This excerpt from Shat’s memoir discusses his trip into space aboard Blue Origin. “William Shatner: My Trip to Space Filled Me With Sadness” in Variety.

So, I went to space.

Our group, consisting of me, tech mogul Glen de Vries, Blue Origin Vice President and former NASA International Space Station flight controller Audrey Powers, and former NASA engineer Dr. Chris Boshuizen, had done various simulations and training courses to prepare, but you can only prepare so much for a trip out of Earth’s atmosphere! As if sensing that feeling in our group, the ground crew kept reassuring us along the way. “Everything’s going to be fine. Don’t worry about anything. It’s all okay.” Sure, easy for them to say, I thought. They get to stay here on the ground.During our preparation, we had gone up eleven flights of the gantry to see what it would be like when the rocket was there. We were then escorted to a thick cement room with oxygen tanks. “What’s this room for?” I asked casually.

“Oh, you guys will rush in here if the rocket explodes,” a Blue Origin fellow responded just as casually.

Uh-huh. A safe room. Eleven stories up. In case the rocket explodes.

Well, at least they’ve thought of it….

(14) IMMERSIVE MIYAZAKI. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Washington Post, three reporters led by Michelle Ye Hee Lee visit the Studio Ghibli theme park which has just opened. “We visited Studio Ghibli’s long-awaited theme park. It’s a sensory delight.”

… Don’t expect rides or human-sized characters posing for photos. The vision for the 494-acre park is unique to the vision of Hayao Miyazaki, the studio’s 81-year-old co-founder, and is an homage to his legacy as a groundbreaking animator and creator. (The idea came about in 2017 after Miyazaki made what seemed to be his final retirement announcement, though he is now working again.)

The result is believed to be Japan’s first “hybrid park,” built around an existing public space to minimize harm to the environment. Mindful of sustainability, its creators sourced as many materials as possible locally. The main attraction — Ghibli’s Grand Warehouse — is converted from an indoor pool attached to an indoor skating rink.

As with Ghibli films, you cannot help but appreciate the nature surrounding you. It’s designed so that you feel like you are living in an actual Ghibli world, rather than visiting a fantasy. The result: a sensory overload that is peaceful at the same time….

(15) NAME THAT DECADE. I was looking at a fanzine recently added to the archives at Fanac.org. Can you guess the decade when this evergreen argument was uttered?

Why do you consider that those readers of science fiction who might vote if they didn’t have to join the Worldcon to do so would add so much to the validity of the voting? Like most award contests (though not all of them) the HUGO election is a popularity contest, and all sorts of factors come into play to influence the voters — including when he gets around to voting, what his friends are touting, and even what particular temperament he is in that morning — rather than merely the literary merit of the book under discussion. So the addition of one more pack of popularity selectors is not going to raise the quality very much. Might as well give the con members the voting privilege so they’ll help the con in its early money-raising stages.

It comes from Bruce Pelz’ Rache 6 published in March 1962.

(16) ON THE TUBE IN BRITAIN. Some all-time classics included here.“From the Triffids to Blake’s 7 and Ghostwatch: the BBC’s greatest cult classics”. The Guardian makes its picks.

The Beeb has seemingly spent a century trying to scar the nation. Here are its most influential – and most terrifying – cult hits so far.

R.U.R. (Rossum’s Universal Robots) (1927 on radio, 1938 on TV)

Sadly nothing survives of either production beyond the listings in the Radio Times, but in February 1938 an excerpt of Karel Čapek’s play R.U.R. (Rossum’s Universal Robots) was broadcast on the BBC’s fledgling television service. The play gave the English language the word “robot” and is widely credited as the first ever piece of television science-fiction. The BBC made a radio version in 1927, and would remake the play several times over the years in both mediums, including in 2022.

(17) LET US NOW PRAISE FAMOUS MEN. Netflix dropped a vignette in which Wednesday stars Jenna Ortega, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and showrunners Alfred Gough and Miles Millar discuss the creative genius that Tim Burton brings to the series.

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Trailers: She-Hulk, Attorney-At Law,” the Screen Junkies say that She-Hulk “fights the half of humanity Thanos forgot to worry about — men,” including “dating-App dinguses” who think “How much do you dead lift?” is a good line for picking up She-Hulk. The show “isn’t as bad as the Twitter-bashers made it out to be, but isn’t good enough to defend.” But after that statement, Epic Voice Guy faces his greatest foe — the YouTube algorithm!

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

Pixel Scroll 9/16/22 Scroll Down, You Click Too Fast, You’ve Got To Make The Pixels Last

(1) AI IS NOT AN EXCUSE FOR CONTENT THEFT. Malcolm F. Cross wryly begins his email with this link, “I’m sooooort of pleased to announce that discovering another theft of my work inspired me to do a little art project. The theft in question was having some of my work added to the training data for a commercially used AI, and the result was this twitter thread.” The 26-tweet thread starts here. Excerpts follow:

(2) “PEOPLE’S JOKER” NEWS. Variety updated to its report about “’People’s Joker,’ Queer Movie Set in Batman Universe, Pulled From TIFF” with a statement by the filmmaker Vera Drew.

…In a statement shared with Variety on Wednesday evening, Drew promised that “everyone is going to get the chance to see this film.”

“I don’t respond well to bullying or pressure from faceless institutions,” said Drew. “It only emboldens me and what I was saying with this film. We’re looking for buyers and distribution partners who will protect us and make this film accessible to trans people and their families everywhere.”

Drew hinted at potential discord around the movie on Tuesday, ahead of her world premiere, posting a cryptic tweet: “I have no clue how today goes and my team wants me to say nothing of course so I’ll stay vague…but whatever happens in the next few hours, I want you to know…if you’ve been waiting and aching to watch our movie, ur going to get to soon. Stay tuned and stay with me. Need ur help.”…

Just before the movie rolled, The Globe and Mail reported that a title card was displayed stating that the film was protected under “fair use” laws.

“This film is a parody and is at present time completely unauthorized by DC Comics, Warner Brothers or anyone claiming ownership of the trademarks therein (eg. ‘Joker,’ ‘Batman, etc.),” read the title card. “Aside from licensed stock, all video and graphics featured in the film are original materials, often recreations of iconic comic book movie set pieces created by Vera Drew and a team of over 100 independent artists and filmmakers on three separate continents during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“Any copyright or trademark infringement was not done intentionally. After consulting with counsel, the director believes in good faith that use of these names and characters in a autobiographical context of her personal coming-out story is protected by Section 107 of the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, which allows ‘fair use’ for purposes such as a relevant criticism, social commentary or education.”

(3) NBA LONGLISTS. The 2022 National Book Awards Longlist for Fiction announced today by the National Book Foundation includes two works of genre interest, a novel and a story collection.

Also announced were the Longlist for Nonfiction and the Longlist for Poetry.

(4) GROAN ABOUT. Dave Hook takes us inside another panel he participated in at the Worldcon in “Titus Groan and Chicon 8”.

…I found out that Chicon 8 (the 80th World Science Fiction Convention) would have a “Titus Groan” panel for their 1946 Project. The 1946 Project was their plan to celebrate 1946 and all things speculative fiction with panel discussions instead of doing a 1947 Retro Hugo.

I applied to be on the panel, telling the Programming Team with substantial fannish enthusiasm how great “Titus Groan” was, how I was prepared to answer the question of whether it was genre or not, and what I was prepared to do to get ready for a panel.

For unknown reasons, they selected me for the panel and made me the moderator. I did not have a problem with this; I thought I could do a great job. I had never been on any SF convention panels before. I thought I could do all of that, but I redoubled my preparations….

(5) RECALLING CHRISTOPHER TOLKIEN. “The Worlds of Middle-Earth: The Millions Interviews Richard Ovenden and Catherine McIlwaine”. Their book includes essays by Maxime H. Pascal; Priscilla Tolkien; Vincent Ferré; Verlyn Flieger; John Garth; Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull; Carl F. Hostetter; Stuart D. Lee; Tom Shippey; and Brian Sibley.

In The Great Tales Never End: Essays in Memory of Christopher TolkienRichard Ovenden, who serves as Bodley’s Librarian, the senior Executive position of the Bodleian Libraries at the University of Oxford, and Catherine McIlwaine, the Tolkien Archivist at the Bodleian Libraries, have assembled a remarkable anthology about Christopher, who died in 2020…. 

Lenny Picker: What personal memories of Christopher Tolkien are your most vivid?

Richard Ovenden: I had the good fortune of visiting him at least once a year for about 10 years. Staying in the house, having long conversations. He looked quite like his father. I never knew J.R.R. Tolkien, but Christopher’s memory of Oxford really was quite profound. He was born there, grew up there, and lived there for many decades. But his memory of it is really kind of frozen in about the middle of the 1970s, when the family moved to France. And so having a conversation with Christopher about Oxford was like having one about the Oxford of when J.R.R. Tolkien was still alive. So it seemed to me almost like you were talking to J.R.R. Tolkien. And because he had this immense knowledge of his father’s work and his mentality, there was that sort of connection. Christopher also had a very great sense of humor—a very, very dry sense of humor. And he was a very funny human being. He also was a great reader; he loved reading fiction, Victorian fiction, in particular, DickensTrollope, were a great source of pleasure for him. So he was a very literary person, not just in his own field of scholarship.

(6) WHO SHOULD WIN FAN HUGOS? In the Hugo Book Club Blog’s post “The Gordian Knot of Fan Vs. Pro” they’re inclined to think the knot is just fine the way it is and that the current WSFS rules get the balance right. 

…Just three years [sic] after the Scithers constitution was introduced [in 1963], Jack Gaughan showed just how unclear the existing language could be, winning both the fan artist and professional artist Hugo Awards in a single [1967] evening. There was an outcry over this — why have two separate categories if the same body of work could win both? A clause was quickly added to the constitution to prevent this from happening again, but the language did not seek to clarify what was Fan and what was Pro, rather stating that “Anyone whose name appears on the final ballot for a given year under the professional artist category will not be eligible for the fan artist award for that year.”

Over the years, this question has resurfaced fairly regularly. Questions were raised over John Scalzi winning best fan writer in the same year that his novel The Last Colony was on the ballot. Two years later there was some slight grumbling about Fred Pohl — at that time one of only 25 authors to have won three professional prose Hugos — winning for best fan writer.

So in this context, a well-intentioned but problematic proposal (“An Aristotelian Solution to Fan vs Pro”) brought forward to this year’s business meeting provided an attempt to parse out this question….

(7) BROOKLYN SFFF. The Brooklyn SciFi Film Festival returns for its third season October 3-9 presenting 200 independent SciFi films from around the world. 

This year’s festival will feature online and in-person events including an evening of Japanese SciFi hosted at Stuart Cinema Cafe on Tuesday October 4th from 7:00 to 9:00 and selected screenings and recognition on Saturday October 8th from 6:00 to 9:00 at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Downtown Brooklyn.  All films streaming online at BrooklynSciFiFilmFest.com starting October 3rd.  Official Selections.

(8) SMOKE ‘EM IF YOU GOT ‘EM. Literary Hub introduces viewers to a 1982 BBC video about a writer at work: “Roald Dahl’s writing routine involved a shed, a sleeping bag, and cigarettes.”

In 1982, Frank Delaney of the BBC visited Roald Dahl at home for a long conversation that meandered from children’s literature to 18th-century furniture and making orange marmalade. During that visit, Dahl gave Delaney a glimpse at his writing routine, which consisted, at the time, of four hours a day spent in a writing shed on his property.

(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.  

1963 [By Cat Eldridge.]

There is nothing wrong with your television set. Do not attempt to adjust the picture. We are controlling transmission. If we wish to make it louder, we will bring up the volume. If we wish to make it softer, we will tune it to a whisper. We will control the horizontal. We will control the vertical. We can roll the image, make it flutter. We can change the focus to a soft blur, or sharpen it to crystal clarity. For the next hour, sit quietly and we will control all that you see and hear. We repeat: There is nothing wrong with your television set. You are about to participate in a great adventure. You are about to experience the awe and mystery which reaches from the inner mind to… The Outer Limits. — opening narration. 

Fifty-nine years ago this evening on ABC, The Outer Limits series premiered, created and executive produced by Leslie Stevens who had done nothing of a genre nature before. It was directed by far too many to note here. Steven’s would later do Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. 

In the unaired pilot, it was called Please Stand By, but ABC rejected that title, so the producers renamed it.

Two episodes, “Demon with a Glass Hand” and “Soldier”, were written by Harlan Ellison. Clifford Simak wrote “The Duplicate Man” episode. David Duncan penned “The Human Factor”. Eando Binder gets credit for the “I, Robot” episode.  

“Demon with a Glass Hand” won a Writers’ Guild Award. Later, Ellison’s “Soldier” script would allow him to sue Cameron over his Terminator script and win rather nicely. 

Season One combined science fiction and horror, while Season two was shifted focus to being more about what they called hard science fiction stories, dropping the “scary monster” theme of Season One. The network thought the monster were the villains of the week.

The original series lasted a mere forty-nine episodes. The second iteration, which started in 1995, would last much longer, going an amazing one hundred and fifty-two episodes.

It was very popular in the ratings the first season but was competing against Jackie Gleason in the second season and that got it cancelled halfway through. As I noted, it had a second life thirty years on which was quite successful. Variety reported last year that an Outer Limits reboot was in development at a premium cable network though they declined to say which network.

Neat piece of trivia: The “ion storm” from “The Mutant” episode here which was a projector beam shining through a container containing glitter in liquid suspension became the transporter effect in the Trek series. Also, the process used to make pointed ears for David McCallum in “The Sixth Finger” episode here was used to make Spock’s ears, and The black mask from “The Duplicate Man” episode here was used by Dr. Leighton in “The Conscience of the King”. 

It’s streaming on Pluto. Pluto? Huh? 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 16, 1914 William Bernard Ready. Can I include an individual for just one work? Well given it’s my Birthday list, of course. It’s the 1968 work, The Tolkien Relation: A Personal Inquiry, Ready foresaw the cultural value of Tolkien’s writings and, while at Marquette University, he managed to purchase a large selection of original literary manuscripts by Tolkien in 1956-57, including manuscripts of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. (Died 1981.)
  • Born September 16, 1927 Peter Falk. His best remembered genre role is in The Princess Bride as the Grandfather who narrates the story. (The person who replaced the late Falk in the full cast reading of The Princess Bride for the Wisconsin Democratic fundraiser, Director Rob Reiner, wasn’t nearly as good as he was in that role.) He also plays Ramos Clemente in “The Mirror,” an episode of The Twilight Zone. And he’s Reverend Theo Kerr in the 2001 version of The Lost World. (Died 2011.)
  • Born September 16, 1930 Anne Francis. You’ll remember her best as Altaira “Alta” Morbius on Forbidden Planet. She also appeared twice in The Twilight Zone (“The After Hours” and “Jess-Belle”). She also appeared in multiple episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents and The Alfred Hitchcock Hour. She’d even appear twice in The Man from U.N.C.L.E., and played several roles on Fantasy Island as well. (Died 2011.)
  • Born September 16, 1932 Karen Anderson. She co-wrote two series with her husband, Poul Anderson, King of Ys and The Last Viking, and created the delightful The Unicorn Trade collection with him. Fancyclopedia has her extensive fannish history thisaway, and Mike has her obituary here. (Died 2018.)
  • Born September 16, 1952 Lisa Tuttle, 70. Tuttle won the Astounding Award for Best New Writer, received a Nebula Award for Best Short Story for “The Bone Flute,” which she refused, and a BSFA Award for Short Fiction for “In Translation”. My favorite works by her include CatwitchThe Silver Bough and her Ghosts and Other Lovers collection.Her latest novel is The Curious Affair of the Witch at Wayside Cross. Her collection, The Dead Hours of the Night was nominated for a Stoker last year — impressive! 
  • Born September 16, 1954 Howard Weinstein, 68. At age 19, he was the youngest person to ever write a Trek script, selling “The Pirates of Orion” for use in the animated series. Though it would be his only script, he would go on to write quite a few Trek novels — thirteen are listed currently at the usual suspects — and comics. He gets a thanks credit in Star Trek: The Voyage Home. He wrote a script, “The Sky Above, the Mudd Below”, for the fanfic affair Star Trek: New Voyages, but it never got made. And it won’t given that there’s a comic book series already made with its plot.  Paramount wasn’t at all pleased. To quote Zevon, “Send lawyers, gun and money / the shit has hit the fan.”
  • Born September 16, 1955 Amanda Hemingway, 67. British author of fantasy novels who’s best known for the Fern Capel series written under the Jan Siegel name — it’s most excellent. I’d also recommend The Sangreal Trilogy penned under her own name. Alas her superb website has gone offline. She is available from the usual suspects — curiously her Hemingway novels are much more costly than her Seigel novels are.
  • Born September 16, 1960 Mike Mignola, 62. The Hellboy stories, of course, are definitely worth reading, particularly the early on ones. His Batman: Gotham by Gaslight is an amazing “What If” story which isn’t at all the same as the animated film of that name which is superb on its own footing, and the B.P.R.D. stories  are quite excellent too.  I’m very fond of the first Hellboy film, not so much of the second, and detest the reboot now that I’ve seen it, while the animated films are excellent.

(11) HEAR ABOUT “HUMAN EXCEPTIONALISM”. “Dean Koontz on His Vocation as an Author, Art and Meaning in Life, and Human Exceptionalism” in a downloadable interview at Humanize. (Note: I haven’t listened to it.)

In episode one of the second season of Humanize, Wesley J. Smith’s guest is the internationally famous novelist Dean Koontz. Dean and Wesley discuss how he came to be an author, how life is filled with meaning, his art, the importance of human exceptionalism, the problem with transhumanism, and how Dean uses humor to further his plots and character development. Dean recalls his upbringing in an impoverished household that did not have running water until he was 11, how a high school English teacher changed his life, and his love for the use of the English language. He and Wesley also discuss the beauty of the human/dog relationship and his philanthropic support for Canine Companions for Independence, a school that trains service dogs to help people with disabilities lead independent lives. Any reader of Dean Koontz and supporter of human exceptionalism will want to listen to this fascinating interview with one of America’s most successful and prolific authors…

(12) READY FOR MY CLOSE-UP. The Atlantic wants to know “Why Do So Many Kids Need Glasses Now?”

…In the U.S., 42 percent of 12-to-54-year-olds were nearsighted in the early 2000s—the last time a national survey of myopia was conducted—up from a quarter in the 1970s. Though more recent large-scale surveys are not available, when I asked eye doctors around the U.S. if they were seeing more nearsighted kids, the answers were: “Absolutely.” “Yes.” “No question about it.”

In Europe as well, young adults are more likely to need glasses for distance vision than their parents or grandparents are now. Some of the lowest rates of myopia are in developing countries in Africa and South America. But where Asia was once seen as an outlier, it’s now considered a harbinger. If current trends continue, one study estimates, half of the world’s population will be myopic by 2050.

The consequences of this trend are more dire than a surge in bespectacled kids. Nearsighted eyes become prone to serious problems like glaucoma and retinal detachment in middle age, conditions that can in turn cause permanent blindness. The risks start small but rise exponentially with higher prescriptions. The younger myopia starts, the worse the outlook. In 2019, the American Academy of Ophthalmology convened a task force to recognize myopia as an urgent global-health problem. As Michael Repka, an ophthalmology professor at Johns Hopkins University and the AAO’s medical director for government affairs, told me, “You’re trying to head off an epidemic of blindness that’s decades down the road.”

The cause of this remarkable deterioration in our vision may seem obvious: You need only look around to see countless kids absorbed in phones and tablets and laptops. And you wouldn’t be the first to conclude that staring at something inches from your face is bad for distance vision. Four centuries ago, the German astronomer Johannes Kepler blamed his own poor eyesight, in part, on all the hours he spent studying. Historically, British doctors have found myopia to be much more common among Oxford students than among military recruits, and in “more rigorous” town schools than in rural ones. A late-19th-century ophthalmology handbook even suggested treating myopia with a change of air and avoidance of all work with the eyes—“a sea voyage if possible.”

(13) “IT FLOATS.” Ivory Soap floats on its own. Limestone blocks need a little help. “A Long-Lost Branch of the Nile Helped in Building Egypt’s Pyramids” according to the New York Times.

For 4,500 years, the pyramids of Giza have loomed over the western bank of the Nile River as a geometric mountain chain. The Great Pyramid, built to commemorate the reign of Pharaoh Khufu, the second king of Egypt’s fourth dynasty, covers 13 acres and stood more than 480 feet upon its completion around 2560 B.C. Remarkably, ancient architects somehow transported 2.3 million limestone and granite blocks, each weighing an average of more than two tons, across miles of desert from the banks of the Nile to the pyramid site on the Giza Plateau.

Hauling these stones over land would have been grueling. Scientists have long believed that utilizing a river or channel made the process possible, but today the Nile is miles away from the pyramids. On Monday, however, a team of researchers reported evidence that a lost arm of the Nile once cut through this stretch of desert, and would have greatly simplified transporting the giant slabs to the pyramid complex….

(14) EVOLVING ANIMATION. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Edward Vega of VOX looks at how the success of Spider Man: Into The Spider-Verse has shown animators an alternative to the photo-realistic animation of Pixar: “How ‘Spider-Verse’ forced animation to evolve”.

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

Pixel Scroll 9/3/22 I Have Come To Praise Your Furries, Not To Scroll Them

(1) CHICON 8 ATTENDANCE UPDATE. Registration Area Head Elayne Pelz reported on Facebook that as of 11:15 a.m. Saturday there were 3,308 attendees present at Chicon 8.

(2) HUGO LIVESTREAM. Chicon 8 announced that the Hugo Awards ceremony will begin livestreaming September 4 at 7:45 Central on YouTube. This is the link: Chicon 8 Hugo Awards Ceremony – YouTube. (The ceremony will not be streamed on Airmeet.)

(3) IN GLORIOUS B&W. The Eaton Collection rounded up some of Jay Kay Klein’s photos from Chicon III, the 1962 Worldcon:

(4) KEEPING THEM DOWN ON THE FARM. Cloudflare.com has done a 180 and kicked Kiwi Farms off the service: “Blocking Kiwifarms”. Kiwi Farms is a forum for discussing figures it deems “lolcows” (people who can be “milked for laughs”), and the targets of threads are often subject to doxing and other forms of organized group trolling, harassment, and stalking, including real-life harassment by users.

We have blocked Kiwifarms. Visitors to any of the Kiwifarms sites that use any of Cloudflare’s services will see a Cloudflare block page and a link to this post. Kiwifarms may move their sites to other providers and, in doing so, come back online, but we have taken steps to block their content from being accessed through our infrastructure.

This is an extraordinary decision for us to make and, given Cloudflare’s role as an Internet infrastructure provider, a dangerous one that we are not comfortable with. However, the rhetoric on the Kiwifarms site and specific, targeted threats have escalated over the last 48 hours to the point that we believe there is an unprecedented emergency and immediate threat to human life unlike we have previously seen from Kiwifarms or any other customer before….

Vice explains the decision more fully in “Kiwi Farms is Down After Cloudflare Boots The Site As a Customer”.

…This comes just one week after Cloudflare defended the choice to keep the site as a customer.

In August, Twitch streamer Clara Sorrenti, known as Keffals, was the target of transphobic raiding and swatting—the dangerous internet harassment tactic involving prank calls to authorities that prompt police to send a SWAT team to someone’s home. Sorrenti alleges that Kiwi Farms members organized this attack, and has been campaigning for Cloudflare, the internet infrastructure company that protects Kiwi Farms from DDoS attacks among other services, to drop the website as a customer….

(5) BURKE RESPONDS TO B56 COC REPORT. Stephanie Burke posted to Facebook her reaction to the Baltimore Science Fiction Society’s Reports of the Results of the Code of Conduct Investigation Concerning Balticon 56.

I have been exonerated by Balticon for all of the bullshit that just happened. I feel that this letter to me is … I don’t know…more about them covering their asses and there still is no real apology to me or to the people who have been dealt with in this manner by the con before… It may be a bit of a reach but this is how I feel.

They say I can come back as a program participant but I am never going back. The thought of going back gives me the shakes and the start of panic attacks. I can never go back. I will miss a lot of my friends and family who are there, but I have to think about my mental health, the lies that were spread about me, and how I was treated. This could happen to anyone at any given time so I say everyone proceed with caution at cons. This was a life-changing experience for me and not in a positive way….

(6) NEW JMS B5 COMMENTARY. After J. Michael Straczynski’s full-length sync-up Babylon 5 commentaries have been offered exclusively on his Patreon page for a while, he releases them on YouTube. Here’s the latest, for “Point of No Return”, the middle of the Messages from Earth trilogy.

(7) ANTICI-PATION. JMS also revealed there is a completed Babylon 5 project that will debut next year at San Diego Comic-Con. Wait for it.

(8) THE HONORVERSE: WHAT’S AHEAD? David Weber has written a long post looking to the future of the Honorverse.

…So, by my calculations, that’s another 22 books I need to get written [with various collaborators] to wrap up my current series plans.

I’m 70 this October. I sold the first novel thirty-three years ago. Since then, I have published (or have currently turned in, awaiting production) 74 solo and collaborative novels, which works out to roughly 2.24 per year. That doesn’t count the anthologies, of course.

I lost roughly 2 years to the concussion, and about a year and a half to the Covid, so let’s call it 30 years, not 33, which brings the production up to 2.5 per year. And let’s assume that I write for another ten years, which (at the moment, and barring any anticipated encounters with mortality) seems entirely plausible. By my calculations, that comes to another TWENTY-FIVE solo and collaborative novels, in the process of which I will be working with some of my collaborators to establish them firmly in the existing universes going forward.

People, like the characters in Richard Adams’ PLAGUE DOGS, I’ll probably still be writing “when the dark comes down.” That means, obviously, that I won’t be “finished” when I leave, but don’t go around thinking that you’re getting rid of me next week!

(9) TAKEI. Look who’s reading the Unofficial Hugo Book Club twitter feed.

(10) MEMORY LANE.  

1977 [By Cat Eldridge.] Doctor Who’s “Horror Of Fang Rock” (1977)

Doctor Who: “Why am I standing here wasting my time trying to work out its size? If Reuben’s seen it, he can tell us.’”

Leela: “That is what I thought, but of course I am only a savage.’”

Doctor Who: “Come on, savage!”

BritBox streams these so naturally I watched before writing this up. It was every bit as great as I remembered it. Ahhh the sacrifices I make for all of you here! 

This Fourth Doctor story with the much loved Tom Baker in that role, obviously, and Louise Jameson as Leela the barbarian. (See quote above if you think I’m disparaging her.) It was first broadcast in four weekly twenty-five minute episodes on BBC1 from the third to twenty-fourth of September forty-five years ago.

It was directed by Paddy Russell, she also did those honors for another favorite of mine, “Pyramids of Mars”. (Paddy, by the way, was a well-known and much beloved SJW.) In all, she directed parts or the entire of six Who serials.  It was written by Terrence Dicks, not at all surprisingly as this was the period in which he was heavily involved in the series.

HERE IN THE FOG BE SPOILERS! GO AWAY! 

The Doctor and His Companion land along the coast of England, find a dead body and a erratic light in, errr, a Lighthouse. He being he decides to investigate. One of the Keepers, Reuben, tells them about the Beast of Fang Rock (Britain is lousy with such folktales. Really it is.) 

Ahh but being the Doctor soon Aliens abound as they always do, don’t they? And more humans will die. What will the Doctor do? Well he will prevail in the end of course.

END OF SPOILERS. I THINK. MAYBE.

Now this serial was the only one of the original series to have been produced at any BBC studios outside of London.  

Dicks based his script off a poem, “Flannan Isle” written by Wilfrid Wilson Gibson, which The Doctor quotes from at the end of the Story.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 3, 1810 Theodor von Holst. He was the first artist to illustrate Shelley’s Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus in 1831. The interior illustrations consist of a frontispiece and title page engraved illustrations.  To my knowledge, this is his only genre work. (Died 1844.)
  • Born September 3, 1943 Mick Farren. Punk musician who was the singer with the proto-punk band the Deviants. He also wrote lyrics for Hawkwind. His most well-known genre work was the The Renquist Quartet about an immortal vampire.  The Renquist Quartet is available at the usual suspects.  Not at all genre, he wrote The Black Leather Jacket which details the history of the that jacket over a seventy-year span up to the mid-eighties, taking in all aspects of its cultural, political and social impact. (Died 2013.)
  • Born September 3, 1943 Valerie Perrine, 79. She has uncredited role as Shady Tree’s sidekick is Diamonds Are Forever in her first film appearance. Her first credited film role is as Montana Wildhack in Sluaughterhouse-Five. She’s Eve Teschmacher in Superman and Superman II. 
  • Born September 3, 1954 Stephen Gregg. Editor and publisher of Eternity Science Fiction which ran 1972 to 1975 and 1979 to 1980. It had early work by Glen Cook, Ed Bryant, Barry N Malzberg, andrew j offutt and Roger Zelazny. (Died 2005.)
  • Born September 3, 1959 Merritt Butrick. He played Kirk’s son, David, in The Wrath of Khan and again in The Search for Spock. Note the very young death. He died of AIDS. Well, he died of toxoplasmosis, complicated by AIDS to be precise. (Died 1989.)
  • Born September 3, 1969 John Picacio, 53. Illustrator who in 2005 won both the World Fantasy Award for Best Artist and the Chesley Award for Best Paperback Cover for James Tiptree Jr.’s Her Smoke Rose Up Forever. He’s also won eight other Chesley Awards. He was the winner of the Best Professional Artist Hugo in 2012, 2013, and 2020.
  • Born September 3, 1971 D. Harlan Wilson, 51. Author of Modern Masters of Science Fiction: J.G. BallardCultographies: They Live (a study of John Carpenter) and Technologized Desire: Selfhood & the Body in Postcapitalist Science Fiction. No, I’ve no idea what the last book is about.
  • Born September 3, 1974 Clare Kramer, 48. She had the recurring role of Glory, a god, or perhaps demon, from a hell dimension that was the main antagonist of the fifth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. She’s been a lot of horror films including The Skulls III, The GravedancersThe ThirstRoad to HellRoad to HellBig Ass Spider! and Tales of Halloween.

(12) COMICS SECTION.

  • La Cucaracha listens in as a character tells Trump why he needs to return a box of classified stuff.
  • Tom Gauld helps you enrich your vocabulary.

(13) SNAPSHOT. JJ sent along this photo of Cora Buhlert from her Table Talk yesterday at Chicon 8.

(14) THE BORED OF AVON. Mental Floss would like to acquaint you with “5 Writers Who Really Hated Shakespeare”. On the list is —

4. J.R.R. TOLKIEN

While a member of a school debating society in the early 1900s, a teenage J.R.R. Tolkien reportedly delivered a lengthy speech in which, according to his biographer Humphrey Carpenter, he “poured a sudden flood of unqualified abuse upon Shakespeare, upon his filthy birthplace, his squalid surroundings, and his sordid character.” Opinion is divided over whether or not Tolkien upheld these opinions as an adult, but his letters offer up a number of clues: In one, dated 1944, he dismissed reading and analyzing Shakespeare’s works as “folly,” while in another from 1955, he recalls that he “disliked cordially” studying his work at school. 

… In a 1951 letter to his editor Milton Waldman, Tolkien wrote that he had recently invented two new languages to be spoken by the elves in his novels, before adding in a footnote that he intends “the word [elves] to be understood in its ancient meanings, which continued as late as Spenser—a murrain on Will Shakespeare and his damned cobwebs.” 

(15) ELVISH HAS LEFT THE BUILDING. [Item by Soon Lee.] Mike Godwin (yes, *that* Godwin) tweeted an Elvis/h filk. And it is delicious. Thread starts here.

(16) INCURABLE. Anthony Lane confesses to having “The Hobbit Habit: Reading ‘The Lord of the Rings’” in a 2001 article from The New Yorker.

…I first took on “The Lord of the Rings” at the age of eleven or twelve; to be precise, I began it at the age of eleven and finished at the age of twelve. It was, and remains, not a book that you happen to read, like any other, but a book that happens to you: a chunk bitten out of your life….

(17) THE RINGS, OH LORD! Vice reports “Astronomers Are Freaking Out Over Bizarre Rectangle-Shaped Rings in Space”. Images at the link.

… In a photograph of the star WR140, as pointed out by citizen scientist Judy Schmidt who reposted the image from the automated @JWSTPhotoBot on Twitter, a spiral of rings and rays fan out from the star’s bright white center. The rings aren’t perfectly circular, but look more like rounded squares, and not even astronomers seem to know what to do with it….

(18) HELPING JOHN WILLIAMS CONDUCT. Some of my daughter’s relatives were at the Hollywood Bowl waving along! And they say during last night’s concert Williams even debuted a piece from the upcoming Indiana Jones movie.

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

Pixel Scroll 8/21/22 Of Dyson Spheres And Birthdays Best Told Fresh

(1) ON SAIL. Walter Jon Williams gets reacquainted with his 25-year-old self in “Onward Into the Past”.

Back in April Kathy and I drove the three and a half hours to Portales for the 45th Jack Williamson Lecture, and had to figure out how we were going to entertain ourselves for the long drive across the Llano Estecado. Kathy suggested we listen to the audio book of To Glory Arise, the first of my Privateers & Gentlemen books. I’d met Kathy more than ten years after saying goodbye to that series, and she’d never read them, so she was coming to them fresh.

So we listened to the book driving out and back, and were entertained by the book and Bronson Pinchot’s excellent reading of it. I found the book so entertaining that I’ve been listening to the rest of them as they’ve been released, though the reason I was so entertained was peculiar to me— reviewing that series was a way of re-discovering my twenty-five-year-old self, the person who wrote that series, a person who is not quite the man I am today.

I was surprised by how much time and energy I devoted to the psychological dimensions of my characters. I mean, I certainly knew the psychological element was there— I considered it a selling point of the series that it wasn’t about two-dimensional action heroes, but instead characters of some complexity. But there ended up being more pages devoted to psychology than I remembered, and I think more pages than the characters actually warranted. I did not understand the concept of enough. I was inclined to say the same things over and over. I wish I’d had editors who told me that….

(2) A RISING TIDE LIFTS ALL BOATS. “Game of Thrones effect fires up reissues of ‘lost’ fantasy fiction classics” in the Guardian.

It is a lyrical, beautiful fantasy story about a mythical beast who sets out on a quest into a world that no longer believes in her to find out if she is truly the last of her kind.

Published in 1968, The Last Unicorn by Peter S Beagle spawned an animated movie 40 years ago and is a cherished novel that appeals to children and adults alike. But it’s not surprising if you haven’t heard of it. It hasn’t been published in the UK for half a century.

This week it is finally being reissued, the latest in a string of classic fantasy novels to find a new audience thanks to the prevalence of the genre on TV and the big screen….

As well as Beagle’s novel, other writers’ work is being reissued, including John M Ford’s novels The Dragon Waiting and Growing Up Weightless, Hope Mirrlees’s 1926 faerie fantasy Lud-In-The-Mist, and Antonia Barber’s The Ghosts, while books such as the Arabic fantasy The Tale of Princess Fatima, Warrior Woman, and Japanese author Yukio Mishima’s delightfully weird Beautiful Star have recently had their first ever English-language publications.

(3) FRIENDS. “Supporters, Opponents Weigh in on Internet Archive Copyright Battle” at Publishers Weekly is a collection of excerpts from the amicus briefs filed on behalf of both sides.

Is the Internet Archive’s program to scan and lend copies of print library books under an untested legal theory known as controlled digital lending (CDL) wholesale piracy? Or is it a carefully considered and legal effort to preserve the mission of libraries in a digital world that is moving away from ownership to licensed access? With Summary Judgment motions now filed in a closely-watched lawsuit filed by four major publishers over the Internet Archive’s scanning program, stakeholders on both sides of the case are weighing in with amicus briefs….

(4) BRAN SPANKIN’ WORDS. Jesse Sheidlower of the Historical Dictionary of Science Fiction (HDSF) begins a new Boing Boing series, “Updating the Historical Dictionary of Science Fiction”.

…Of course, the most important feature is the continued addition of new entries. Since the launch, we have continued to unearth new information, and we are excited to be able to share it with readers. The over 200 new entries (as of this writing) include accidental omissions (Vulcan); terms from proto-SF (space senses of fleetbattleship, and warship, all from around 1900); and genuinely recent entries that came to prominence after the original project began (cli-fi (2009), murderbot (2006), Nnedi Okorafor’s Africanfuturism (2018))….

… Yet the majority of the new entries are simply common SF terms that never made it into the original: cityship (1953), doppel (1981), the proto-SF ether ship (1883), ion gun (1935), the fandom word kipple (1960), pseudopod (1929), skin job (in an original (1958) and a Blade Runner sense (1981)), star liner (1932), timequake (1954)….

(5) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.  

1985 [By Cat Eldridge.] Since I mentioned yesterday Ursula Le Guin’s Always Coming Home when I talked about Austin Wright Tappin’s Islandia yesterday, let’s have a conversation about Always Coming Home tonight. 

At one thousand and fifty-five pages, the Library of America edition of Always Coming Home is almost exactly the same length as the printed version of Islandia. Le Guin commented upon Islandia that it is “not a great book perhaps, but a singularly durable one, and a durably singular one. There is nothing else in all literature like Islandia.”

Now I will argue Always Coming Home is quite unlike anything else she wrote as it is not really a work of fiction but rather an anthropology of a people that don’t yet exist. It was published thirty-seven years ago and labeled a novel, but I that reject that label as Le Guin, the daughter of anthropologist, has here created the only true genre work of future anthropology ever done.

She lets the Kesh, the people that Pandora, the documentarian from the other civilization, is studying largely speak for themselves. So we as the observers are learning about them through a collage of their mythologies, poetry and their stories. All in an ethnographic approach.

There is a piece of fiction, a central novella, with the story of a woman called Stonetelling who leaves the valley to live with her father’s people, the Condor. That has Stonetelling reflecting upon her people. 

The end of the Always Coming Home contains additional information about the Kesh in more traditional ethnographic form. And there are maps as well. Quite fascinating maps.

The first edition, the trade paper in the slip case, had music too. It was called the Music and Poetry of the Kesh, featuring ten musical pieces and three poetry performances by Todd Barton. 

The book contains a hundred original illustrations by Margaret Chodos. 

The expanded edition released by Library of America is available from the usual suspects. I’ve decided to include the original cover here. 

Lest you ask, yes, I like it a lot.

(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 21, 1888 Miriam Allen deFord. Almost all of her genre fiction was published at The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction under the editorship of Anthony Boucher. It can be found in two collections, Xenogenesis and Elsewhere, Elsewhen, Elsehow. Her “A Death in the Family” story was adapted in Night Gallery‘s second season. Other than a few short stories, nothing’s available digitally by her. (Died 1975.)
  • Born August 21, 1911 Anthony Boucher. I’m now reading The Case of The Crumpled Knave, one of his superb mysteries. Really great read. The Compleat Boucher: The Complete Short Science Fiction and Fantasy of Anthony Boucher is a most excellent read, but it’s not an epub yet. The Case of The Crumpled Knave, The Compleat Werewolf and Other Stories of Fantasy and Science Fiction are available digitally and a lot are at the usual suspects. (Died 1968.)
  • Born August 21, 1937 Arthur Thomson. Fanzine writer and editor and prolific artist known as ATom. Artist for the well-known Hyphen zine, he won the Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund in 1964 and visited the States. He was nominated five times for the Hugo Award for Best Fan Artist, but never won. After Thomson won the 2000 Rotsler Award, it was decided not to present the Rotsler posthumously again. (Died 1990.)
  • Born August 21, 1943 Lucius Shepard. Life During Wartime is one seriously weird novel. And his World Fantasy Award winning The Jaguar Hunter is freaking amazing as are all his short collections. (Died 2014.)
  • Born August 21, 1956 Kim Cattrall, 66. Gracie Law in John Carpenter’s Big Trouble in Little China. Fantastic film! She also played Justine de Winter in The Return of the Musketeers, Paige Katz in Wild Palms, Lieutenant Valeris in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country and Linday Isley in Good v. Evil. Series-wise, she was in one offs in Tales of the Gold MonkeyLogan’s RunThe Incredible Hulk and The Outer Limits (rebooted version of course). 
  • Born August 21, 1957 John Howe 65. Canadian book illustrator who’s worked on many a project, of which the Peter Jackson Hobbit films are the ones we’ll know best and which he did with Alan Lee, but he’s also done a number of endeavors including a limited edition of George R. R. Martin’s novel A Clash of Kings which was released by Meisha Merlin, A Diversity of Dragons by Anne McCaffrey and A Middle-Earth Traveler: Sketches from Bag End to Mordor.
  • Born August 21, 1966 Denise Mina, 56. Genre wise, she’s best known for having written thirteen issues of Hellblazer. Her two runs were “Empathy is the Enemy” and “The Red Right Hand”.  ISFDB lists The Dead Hour as genre but it’s very much not. Excellent novel but think rather in the vein of Ian Rankin’s Rebus novels.
  • Born August 21, 1966 Carrie-Anne Moss, 56. I first saw her as Tara McDonald in the Dark Justice series. Not genre, just her first video I think. Playing Monica Howard in the “Feeding the Beast” episode of Forever Knight was her first genre role. Oddly enough her next role was as Liz Teel in the Canadian series called Matrix which has nothing to do with the Matrix film franchise where she’s Trinity. And she’s been playing Jeryn Hogarth in the Netflix based Marvel Universe.

(7) COMICS SECTION.

(8) WAS 1970 THE WORST IN SCI FI CINEMA? [Item by Olav Rokne.] Going through the Hugo finalists year by year in order. And oof, 1971’s shortlist was difficult to get through. We even dug through the other movies and TV shows that were eligible that year, and the fact that I don’t think Hugo nominators could have done a better job on that shortlist is an indictment of SF cinema at that time. “Possibly The Worst Year In Sci-Fi Cinema” at The Hugo Book Club Blog.

… Expressing a sentiment that was common at the time, John Baxter wrote: “Written SF is usually radical in politics and philosophy; SF cinema, like the comic strips, endorses the political and moral climate of its day.” While we’d suggest that Baxter was a little too generous towards prose SF, having watched and listened to the 1971 shortlist, it’s clear that there’s some merit in his indictment of screen offerings.

The shortlist was an eclectic one in some ways. It had one theatrically released American movie (Colossus: The Forbin Project), one television movie (Hauser’s Memory), one British movie (No Blade of Grass) one spoken-word comedy album (Don’t Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me the Pliers) and one prog rock concept album (Blows Against the Empire)…

(9) REFRESH AND RELOAD. The School Library Journal believes in “refreshing the canon” and offers this “Refreshing the Canon Booklist”. Click on the title of a famous classic and you’ll be led to a list of newer suggested readings.

George Orwell’s modeling of a totalitarian society in 1984 has long been a staple of the summer reading canon. As an alternative, consider these seven titles that feature dystopian, futuristic, and repressive societies—and teens who fight back.

  • Adeyemi, Tomi. Children of Blood and Bone. Holt. ISBN 9781250170972.
  • Anderson, M.T. Feed. Candlewick. ISBN 9780763662622.
  • Bacigalupi, Paolo. Ship Breaker. Little, Brown. ISBN 9780316056199.
  • Cameron, Sharon. The Forgetting. Scholastic. ISBN 9780545945219.
  • Dimopoulos, Elaine. Material Girls. Houghton Harcourt. ISBN 9780544388505
  • Higuera, Donna Barba. The Last Cuentista. Levine Querido. ISBN 9781646140893. 
  • Jian, Ma. China Dream. Random/Vintage. ISBN 9781640092402.

(10) AH, SWEET MYSTERY OF LIFE, AT LAST I’VE FOUND THEE. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] A look at the first episode of She-Hulk: Attorney At Law (Disney+) is filled with spoilers for that show and with (some would say) TMI about Steve Rogers’ love life. “She-Hulk post-credits finally solve an incredible Captain America mystery” at Inverse.

…Though Jennifer is related by blood to a famous Avenger, Bruce hasn’t spilled every secret about Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. In the first episode of She-Hulk: Attorney At Law, a post-credits scene continues a joke planted early in the episode about Jennifer and her crush on Captain America….

[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Nancy Sauer, Jeffrey Smith, Olav Rokne, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, and Chris Barkley for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Cat Eldridge.]

Pixel Scroll 6/23/22 Last And First Scrolls

(1) CHARLIE JANE ANDERS KEYNOTE OPENS EVERY DOOR. In “Children’s Institute 10: Charlie Jane Anders Says ‘Magical Portals Exist, and Adults Aren’t Real’”, Publishers Weekly has extensive details of the author’s talk.

Science fiction author Charlie Jane Anders (Victories Greater Than Death) brought abundant charisma to the stage for her Ci10 keynote. Her hot-pink bob, matching Doc Martens, and neon-confetti-dotted black dress reinforced her energy. She delivered her talk, “Magical Portals Are Real, and I Can Prove It!,” in a conversational and confiding tone, to booksellers who know and recommend her LGBTQ+ fiction.

Alluding to Frank Herbert’s Dune dictum that “the universe is full of doors,” Anders said that we encounter portals in our lives. “I’ve jumped universes three or four times,” she said, acknowledging how she came to recognize her authorial persona and trans identity. “This is definitely not the universe I was born in.”…

(2) FINAL SCORE? Indiana Jones 5 might be it: “John Williams, 90, steps away from film, but not music” – reports the Associated Press.

After more than six decades of making bicycles soar, sending panicked swimmers to the shore and other spellbinding close encounters, John Williams is putting the final notes on what may be his last film score.

“At the moment I’m working on ‘Indiana Jones 5,’ which Harrison Ford — who’s quite a bit younger than I am — I think has announced will be his last film,” Williams says. “So, I thought: If Harrison can do it, then perhaps I can, also.”

Ford, for the record, hasn’t said that publicly. And Williams, who turned 90 in February, isn’t absolutely certain he’s ready to, either.

“I don’t want to be seen as categorically eliminating any activity,” Williams says with a chuckle, speaking by phone from his home in Los Angeles. “I can’t play tennis, but I like to be able to believe that maybe one day I will.”

Right now, though, there are other ways Williams wants to be spending his time. A “Star Wars” film demands six months of work, which he notes, “at this point in life is a long commitment to me.” Instead, Williams is devoting himself to composing concert music, including a piano concerto he’s writing for Emanuel Ax….

(3) THE DNA OF SFF. Camestros Felapton works out the difference between bounty hunters and Our Heroes in “Friday’s Rag Tag Crew versus bounty hunters”.

…But why, in reality, are bounty hunters so distinctly American? Like many things, once you dig beyond the fiction you run straight into the depressing inevitabilities of US history. There is a complex history behind bounty hunters in the US but looming large in that history are slave catchers. People employed to catch fugitive slaves were not a US invention but the size of the US slave economy (until the Civil War and emancipation) meant that “slave catcher” was both casual work and a profession for some. The powers of slave catchers was further enhanced prior to the Civil War with the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fugitive_Slave_Act_of_1850) which codified the ability of slave catchers to act beyond the borders of slave states. Slavery is not the only defining element in the US bounty hunting history but it is such a substantial example in the formative years of the nation that it is hard to imagine that it isn’t key to the lasting influence of the idea in the US.

The attraction of the bounty hunter concept to quasi-libertarian SFF is apparent. The bounty hunter as a character can be simultaneously running a private business and be an arm of law enforcement. As a legitimised vigilante, the bounty hunter as a character can sit in a kind of Lagrange point between the pull of the heroic individualist and the pull of authoritarian imposition of order…. 

(4) SPACEHOUNDS OF THE WSFS, And when Camestros Felapton is finished with the topic above, he chronicles the work of another set of adventurers who are hard at work to disarm “The Hugo Kill Switch”.

The people at The Hugo Book Club Blog (Olav Rokne & Amanda Wakaruk) are on a high-stakes mission to defuse a time bomb. Deep within the WSFS constitution is a hidden switch that is creeping ever closer to hitting some beloved Hugo Award categories. Can a rag-tag team save the Fan categories before the timer reaches zero?!

(5) TO THE EGRESS, AND BEYOND. Arturo Serrano analyzes the special challenges inherent in the audience’s complicated history with the Toy Story franchise and the Buzz Lightyear character and tells why Lightyear doesn’t fly, but it falls with style” at Nerds of a Feather.

…The quest for continued relevance is a preoccupation that the movie assigns to both Buzz and itself. It tries to evoke the feel of the Flash Gordon serials and, of course, both of the big Star franchises. But instead of the now-common practice of attempting to recapture an old moment of wonder via repetition and allusion, this movie gave itself the harder task of pretending to be that first experience. Although the villain’s big plan involves the return to an idealized past, Lightyear is not a case of nostalgia (because anything it could try to revisit is supposed to be provided by this story for the first time), but of pastiche. It may be unfair to cast Pixar as a victim of its own spectacular successes, but Lightyear is certainly not the best that the studio is capable of, and at times it’s a stretch to imagine small Andy being blown away by it….

(6) YES, THE END IS NEAR! The inaugural winner of the first Self-Published Science Fiction Competition will be announced in three weeks.

(7) WHO IN THE MOVIES. Radio Times covers the revelation that a “Doctor Who unmade film script featured two Doctors”.

…However, Subotsky revealed that a second deal was negotiated following production of 1965’s Dr. Who and the Daleks which would indeed have allowed for a third film. “There was a further agreement that was entered into, to give the rights to make a third movie, which of course was never done,” he explained. “It was on the same terms as the original films, so my feeling is… the option lapsed.”

Though a third movie never materialised, Subotsky further revealed that his father did in fact produce a screenplay for the proposed sequel that remains in his family’s possession and was also displayed at the BFI event – this script, however, was not an adaptation of any existing Doctor Who television serial.

“Many years later, maybe 15 years later, it was clearly still on his mind, because he had prepared a script called ‘Doctor Who’s Greatest Adventure’ which actually was a repurposed script of a horror film entitled ‘King Crab’… the original title was even worse, it was ‘Night of the Crabs’!

“It was with two Doctors – a young Doctor and an old Doctor – which is an idea that has been returned to.”…

(8) PEOPLE WHO NEED PEOPLE. Polygon’s Joshua Rivera drops a few SPOILERS along the way: “Obi-Wan Kenobi finale review: a Star Wars show as broken as its hero”.

… Across its brief six-episode run, Obi-Wan stopped the spectacle to focus on people — and it mostly resonates as a contrast to how much I’ve missed them in other Star Wars stories.

At the heart of this are Obi-Wan’s two central performances. As Obi-Wan, Ewan McGregor plays a broken man in exile, a soldier who knows he lost the war but is still being asked to fight it, keeping constant vigil from afar over the young Luke Skywalker. As befits the character that shares the series’ name, every note of Obi-Wan’s journey rings true, largely thanks to McGregor’s performance….

(9) PHYSICS AIN’T MISBEHAVING. Matt O’Dowd of PBS Space Time whittles away at the question, “Is Interstellar Travel Impossible?”.

Space is pretty deadly. But is it so deadly that we’re effectively imprisoned in our solar system forever? Many have said so, but a few have actually figured it out.

(10) MEMORY LANE

1983 [By Cat Eldridge.] Thirty-nine years ago, the follow-up film to the Twilight Zone series premiered this week. Produced by Steven Spielberg and John Landis, Twilight Zone: The Movie certainly carried high expectations. This film features four stories directed by Landis, Spielberg, Joe Dante, and George Miller. 

Landis’ segment is the only original story created for the film, while the segments by Spielberg, Dante, and Miller are remakes or more precisely reworkings of episodes from the original series.

The screenplay is not surprisingly jointly done by a committee of John Landis, George Clayton, Johnson Richard Matheson and Melissa Mathison as is the story which is by Landis, Matheson, Johnson and Jerome Bixby. 

The principal cast was surprisingly small given that there were four stories, just Dan Aykroyd, Albert Brooks, Scatman Crothers, John Lithgow, Vic Morrow and Kathleen Quinlan. 

It did quite well at the box office, making over forty million against a budget of under ten million. Some critics like Roger Ebert at the Chicago Sun-Tribune like some of it though he noted that, “the surprising thing is, the two superstar directors are thoroughly routed by two less-known directors” while others such as Vincent Canby at the New York Times hated all of it calling the movie a “flabby, mini-minded behemoth”. 

It was enough of a financial success that the suits at CBS gave the approval to the Twilight Zone series.

Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give it a not great fifty-five percent rating. 

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born June 23, 1908 — Sloan Nibley. Writer who worked on a number of genre series including Science Fiction TheaterAddams FamilyThe Famous Adventures of Mr. MagooShazan, and the New Addams Family. (Died 1990.)
  • Born June 23, 1945 — Eileen Gunn, 77. Her story “Coming to Terms” based on her friendship with Avram Davidson won the Nebula Award for Best Short Story. Her stories are in Stable Strategies and OthersSteampunk Quartet and Questionable Practices. With L. Timmel Duchamp, she penned The WisCon Chronicles, Vol. 2: Provocative Essays on Feminism, Race, Revolution, and the Future. Her ”Stable Strategies for Middle Management” story picked up a nomination at Noreascon 3 (1989), and “Computer Friendly” garnered a nomination the next year in the same category at ConFiction (1990). She’s well stocked at the usual digital suspects. 
  • Born June 23, 1957 — Frances McDormand, 65. She’s God. Well at least The Voice of God in Good Omens. Which is on Amazon Prime y’all. Her first genre role was in the “Need to Know” episode of Twilight Zone followed shortly thereafter by being Julie Hastings in Sam Raimi’s excellent Dark Man. She’s The Handler in Æon Flux and that’s pretty much everything worth noting. 
  • Born June 23, 1963 – Liu Cixin, 59. He won the Best Novel Hugo at Saquan (2015) for his Three Body Problem novel, translated into English by Ken Liu. It was nominated for the Campbell Memorial, Nebula, Canopus and Prometheus Awards as well. He picked up a Hugo novel nomination at Worldcon 75 (2017) for Death’s End also translated by Liu. 
  • Born June 23, 1972 — Selma Blair, 50. Liz Sherman in Hellboy and  Hellboy II: The Golden Army. She also  voiced the character in the animated Hellboy: Sword of Storms and Hellboy: Blood and Iron as well which are quite excellent. She’s Stevie Wayne in The Fog, a slasher film a few years later and was Cyane on the “Lifeblood” episode of Xena: Warrior Princess. Later on, she’d be Jessica Harris in the “Infestation” episode of Lost in Space. 
  • Born June 23, 1980 — Melissa Rauch, 42. Bernadette Rostenkowski-Wolowitz on The Big Bang Theory which is at least genre adjacent if not genre. She gets to be really genre in voicing Harley Quinn in Batman and Harley Quinn which Bruce Timm considers “a spiritual successor to Batman: The Animated Series”. Having watched a few episodes on HBO when I was subscribed to that streaming service, I vehemently disagree. 
  • Born June 23, 2000 — Caitlin Blackwood, 22. She was the young Amelia Pond in these Doctor Who episodes; “The Eleventh Hour”, “The Big Bang”, “Let’s Kill Hitler” and “The God Complex”. She had a cameo in “The Angels Take Manhattan”.  She’s the cousin of Karen Gillan who plays the adult Pond.  I can’t find anything online that talks about how she was cast in the role but it was brilliantly inspired casting!

(12) COMICS SECTION.

(13) DEADLY DESIGNS. Paul Weimer will make you want to read the second City Siege novel of KJ Parker: “Book Review: How to Rule an Empire and Get Away with it” at Nerds of a Feather.

…While the first volume had Orban explicitly say that he was not telling the whole truth in the end, here from the beginning we have a professional telling us right from the get go about the power of stories, lies, shading the truth and more in order to tell his story. The first novel was Parker geeking out about engineering and siegecraft and how a determined engineer could frustrate the greatest army the world has assembled. By contrast, this second novel does have concerns regarding the siege and defending it, because Parker does really like to go down his rabbit holes and show it off. (In some ways, I think of him very much like Herman Melville, just enjoying sharing what he has learned and shown off about all sorts of abstruse subjects, interwoven masterfully into the story)….

(14) OCTOTHORPE. With a cover courtesy of DALL-E, Octothorpe 60 is now up! Listen here: “Different Types of Tedium”.

John Coxon is going to brunch, Alison Scott watched a film, and Liz Batty is critical. We discuss what we’d do if we were king of The Hugo Awards for the day, and then we talk about ABBA and other science fiction. And Monster Munch – you love to hear it.

Cover by DALL-E

(15) LIGHT FINGERS. Yahoo! listens as “Taika Waititi admits to stealing equipment from ‘The Hobbit’ set”.

New Zealand filmmaker and actor Taika Waititi appeared Wednesday on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, where he shared a Hobbit-sized secret regarding the second film in the popular franchise directed by fellow Kiwi Oscar winner Peter Jackson.

Waititi shared, “When I did What We Do in the Shadows, when Jemaine [Clement, the film’s co-writer and star] and I were shooting that, we didn’t have much money to do that film, and The Hobbit had just wrapped. And, so, our production designer — man, I don’t know if I should tell this. OK, but I will. Our production designer, in the dead of night, took his crew to The Hobbit studios and stole all of the dismantled, broken-down green screens and took all of the timber, and we built a house.”…

(16) THEY CROSSED THE STREAMS. “The Mandalorian gets mashed up with The Stay Puft Marshmallow Man in Star Wars/Ghostbusters crossover cosplay” at Ghostbusters News. They draw our attention not only to the clever cosplay, but “the adorable replacement for Grogu, consisting of a miniature version of Stay Puft being seen nestled inside his pram pod.”

(17) IT IS HIS FETA. Gizmodo takes a pretty funny look at “The Weirdest, Goat-iest Thor: Love and Thunder Merchandise”.

Marvel’s latest movie is bringing with it an Asgard Tours boat-load of weird and wonderful merchandise.

(18) REVISITING FILMATION. [Item by Bill.] The 1973-1974 Star Trek: The Animated Series was produced by Filmation.  Recently, Gazelle Animations has done some clips from Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Voyager in the Filmation style:

The animator gives background. And note the Most Important Device in the Universe!

(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Lightyear Pitch Meeting,” Ryan George, in a spoiler-packed episode, the producer learns that the premise of Lightyear–that it’s an action movie Andy saw in 1995 that made him want to buy a Buzz Lightyear toy–he gets excited because that means a producer in the Toy Story universe made money on the film.  But even though it’s supposed to be “a 1990s movie,” fans of 1990s movies that featured “a lot of over the top action and cheese” will be cruelly disappointed.  Toy Story fans who remember that the villain Zurg is Buzz Lightyear’s father will also be very disappointed.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, N., Bill, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Daniel Dern, 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 Steve Davidson.]

Pixel Scroll 6/2/22 The Left Hand Of Pixelness

(1) NOBEL MEDAL AUCTION. Heritage Auctions is taking bids for the “Dmitry Muratov 2021 Nobel Peace Prize Medal”, being sold to benefit children and their families forced to flee Ukraine and those internally displaced since the start of the war in February. All proceeds will support UNICEF’s humanitarian response for children in Ukraine and neighboring countries.

Dmitry Muratov is the editor-in-chief of the influential Russian news outlet Novaya Gazeta. Bidding will conclude with a live auction at The Times Center in Manhattan on World Refugee Day, June 20.

“The editors of Novaya Gazeta decided it was necessary to help those in desperate need,” says Muratov, who in 1993 co-founded the Moscow-based publication that is now the last independent newspaper in Russia. “Everyone understood that we had to help, and the sale of the Nobel medal through Heritage Auctions gave us a powerful opportunity to help Ukrainian refugees. We hope that everyone around the world supports us and contributes to this movement, however they can.”

Muratov shared the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize with Filipino journalist Maria Ressa. The Norwegian Nobel Committee celebrated their “fight for freedom of expression in a world in which democracy and freedom of the press face increasingly adverse conditions.”

(2) ORIGINS AWARDS HELD OVER TO 2023. The Game Manufacturers Assocation (GAMA) told Facebook readers:

We are not having the Origins Award this year. We will be bringing them back for 2023 and will have information this fall on categories and submission process.

The awards also were not given in 2021, which prompted this comment from Jason Williams:

Can I ask then what happened to all the physical games which were entered as the awards were open for entry in 2021,(this is for game titles produced in 2020) and publishers did invest time and resources on making entries. Maybe those games which were entered need to have awards in 2023 recognized if there are enough staff available then. The fact that in 2021, submissions were accepted, but no awards were ever given, seems pretty wrong. Especially since titles are only able to be entered for the awards in the year they are published and these titles can never be considered for these awards in the future.

GAMA did not reply.

(3) JASON SANFORD. Camestros Felapton continues his series of why-you-should-vote-for each Best Fan Writer finalist with “Jason Sanford: Hugo 2022 Fanwriter Finalist”.

Jason Sanford is a fan journalist, reviewer and award-nominated novelist. He is having a busy year with two different streams of his work being recognised in 2022: he was a Nebula Award & Philip K Dick Award finalist for Best Novel with The Plague Birds and he is a Hugo Award Finalist for Best Fan writer.

As well as being a published fiction writer, Sanford is a prolific fan writer with an active interest in news and invents within fandom and genre publishing…. 

(4) NKWETI Q&A. “Nana Nkweti on Writing Cameroonian American Experiences & Crossing Genres” at Open Country.

Nana Nkweti started writing at nine years old. A sci-fi lover even then, her earliest stories saw her in future worlds, going on space adventures. Like most writers, she was a voracious reader, digging through her father’s books, the good fortune of having a home library. She read everything from fantasy to the realist classics, and began to imagine herself and girls who looked like her reflected in those stories.

It is no surprise then that the 10 stories in her collection Walking on Cowrie Shells centre Cameroonian women. The characters share her intersectional identity, as a Black woman, a hyphenated American, an ethnic African. But the stories also speak to the universal idea of people charting next steps, growing and evolving along the way.

The title “Walking on Cowrie Shells” is a play on the English idiom. She deploys it in the book to embody that sense of being in a threshold, in liminal spaces, of teetering between choices, between cultures or identities. Her characters are tentative; they are about becoming and figuring life out, who they are, who they want to be….

(5) BARRIERS TO PUBLICATION FOR AFRICAN SFF WRITERS. The If This Goes On (Don’t Panic) podcast takes up “Publishing in Africa: Publishing Platforms Or the Lack Therof with Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki”. The cohosts are Alan Bailey, Cat Rambo, Diane Morrison, and Graeme Barber.

In our 3rd audio column about publishing in Africa we chat with Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki about how Africans are being deplatformed within the publishing business. We also discuss the The Emeka Walter Dinjos Memorial Award For Disability In Speculative Fiction. As this episode was recorded before the 2022 Nebulas, we’d also like to congratulate Oghenechovwe on his award.

(6) SAULSON REPORTS ON CONVENTIONS. Sumiko Saulson reports “StokerCon 2022 was like a Black family reunion, but the struggle is far from over” at SF Bayview. Includes quotes from Craig L. Gidney, Steve Van Patten, and L.M. Wood.

…“The best part of going to cons these days is seeing the increase of diverse creators in the community. When I first started going to cons, I was one of a few folks of color. Now I’m one of many. And it feels great!

“I love that there are other Black queer creators out there – such as yourself [referring to Saulson], Kai Ashante Wilson and Marlon James. And even in that cohort, there are immense differences! For years, I wrote my fiction in isolation, collecting rejection slips like some people collect decoder rings. Now, not only is there a readership, there are other authors. It’s a great time to be publishing!” rejoiced Craig L. Gidney, author of the “Nectar of Nightmares.”

Another positive outcome for the new in-person conventions is an increase in POC representation amongst the Guests of Honor. For instance, Floyd Norman, an 86-year-old African American animator, writer, and comic book artist who was the first Black person to be a regular employee on Walt Disney’s animation staff will be the artist guest of honor at WorldCon in Chicago this year….

Saulson also covered the discussion here of SFWA’s removal of Mercedes Lackey from the Nebula Conference:

…In the wake of the incident, the power dynamics remained in play, as older, white authors have flocked to the File 770 article on the situation in defense of Mercedes Lackey, many of them citing Samuel Delaney’s personal lack of offense at the comment in their sometimes mean spirited comments about Jen Brown. Many such comments were removed from the “r/fantasy” Reddit…. 

Many comments weren’t approved for File 770, either, but speaking about the ones that were, including two welcome additions from Saulson, my goal for having that discussion was to let some in the File 770 commenting community who needed to do so alleviate their ignorance, while others came alongside to battle the excuse-makers and set proper boundaries for future discussion. I’ll point to what I said in that discussion:

Introducing the word shibboleth is an unwelcome attempt to ask white people to give intent priority over the clear statements from black people who take offense at the word. Even if Delany or Steve Barnes aren’t condemning Lackey, the status of the word is plain to see.

(7) TIME FOR A ROYAL FLUSH? [Item by Olav Rokne.] Various members of my book club and I have been jabbering away about monarchy in SFF at various points over the past several years. So when we realized that the vestigial monarch of England (and various former vassal states) was marking an arbitrary anniversary of a meaningless ceremony, Amanda and I decided was a good opportunity to talk about the various kings, tsars, emperors, etc. that populate so much SF. So we collaborated with some other folk in pulling this blog post together quickly this week. “The Tsars Like Dust” at the Hugo Book Club Blog.

…Given that there are few places that are still governed by monarchs of anything other than a vestigial variety, it might seem reasonable that few authors choose to engage critically with the consequences of the monarchies they depict. Americans under the age of 244 and British people with no recollection of what things were like before Peterloo don’t have any direct experience with just how truly awful it would be to live in a polity governed by Emperoxes. (Even if there’s a good ruler like Greyland once in a while, they end up being hamstrung by the weight of tradition.) 

Authors seeking to more accurately depict what a space empire might look like should probably look to the few modern-day examples of absolute monarchy that still exist, places like the Sultanate of Oman, the Kingdom of Eswatini, and the Kim Family Protectorate of North Korea. To put it bluntly, in the real world there is a strong correlation between the authority of monarchs, and a lack of human rights, and this is rarely depicted in science fiction….

(8) TONOPAH NEWS. The Westercon 74 in Tonopah program schedule is now online. Strangely, it seems to be in alphabetical order by title of the program item – rather than in chronological order.

The Virtual Program schedule is in chrono order.

(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

2015 [By Cat Eldridge.] Seven years ago this evening, on what was ABC Family, the Stitchers series premiered. The premise is simple: Kirsten Clark, who has been recruited into a covert government operation is to be “stitched” with the memories of people recently deceased to investigate murders. 

It was created by Jeff Schechter who as near as I can tell had little genre background other than Strange Days at Blake Holsey High and Animorphs, but I will single him out for the very non-genre series, Transporter: The Series which was off Luc Besson’s Transporter film. 

Kirsten Clark was played by Emma Ishta. In addition, you’ll recognize two other cast members — Salli Richardson-Whitfield from Eureka who is Magritte “Maggie” Baptiste here and Allison Scagliotti of Warehouse 13 who is Camille Engelson in this series. The only other actor worth noting is Kyle Harris as Cameron Goodkin. 

Stitchers was popular enough that it made through three seasons before getting canceled. It did not accrue a lot of episodes, being treated like a British series as each series had only only ten episodes save the first that had eleven.

So did the critics like it? No, they didn’t. 

Variety’s review was typical: “About as slim as a sci-fi-inspired premise gets, ‘Stitchers’ joins a long list of series built around wide-eyed youths with an unusual skill who are recruited to join a save-the-world-type enterprise. In this case, the protagonist is a beautiful and brilliant Caltech student with temporal dysplasia, which means she doesn’t feel the passage of time. Most viewers, however, will likely feel it acutely while wading through this tired and predictable hour, which centers on a secret program that hacks into the brains of the recently deceased to solve crimes. While its heroine might not know it, skipping ‘Stitchers’ will save you time.”

Collider wasn’t any kinder: “The show’s premise thematically belongs to Syfy, and the cast is very CW, but nothing about Stitchers really comes together for ABC Family. Kirsten is described as emotionally void, and the show shares the same fate. Unfortunately, it doesn’t also happen to be brilliant to offset its other faults. The show is all over the place with its story and its tone, portraying Kirsten as a hacker, and then as a super-sleuth. Though there is some potential and humor present with its minor cast, the series pulls together elements of many other series — like CSI and Bones — without improving upon them. A missed opportunity, Stitchers is looking for signs of life, but hasn’t found them yet.” 

Eighty six percent of audience members at Rotten Tomatoes liked it. Good for them.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born June 2, 1921 Virginia Kidd. Literary agent, writer and editor, who worked mostly is SF and related fields. She represented R.A. Lafferty, Ursula K. Le Guin, Anne McCaffrey, Judith Merril, and Gene Wolfe. She was married to James Blish, and she published a handful of genre short fiction.  Wolfe modeled Ann Schindler, a character in Castleview, in large part on Kidd. (Died 2003.)
  • Born June 2, 1920 – Bob Madle, 102. Helped start his local sf club in 1934, went to what he considered to be the first-ever sf convention in 1936, and attended the first Worldcon (Nycon I) in 1939. Bob Madle named the Hugo Awards. He was the first North American TAFF (Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund) delegate to an overseas con (Loncon, 1957). Twenty years later he was Fan Guest of Honor at the 1977 Worldcon. First Fandom has inducted him to their Hall of Fame, and given him the Moskowitz Award for collecting. He’s a winner of the Big Heart Award).  This post about his centennial birthday two years ago includes photos and a summary of his fannish life in his own words. (OGH)
  • Born June 2, 1929 Norton Juster. Author of The Phantom Tollbooth, it is said that he met Jules Feiffer who illustrates that work when he was taking his trash out. There is of course the superb film that followed. And let’s not forget The Dot and the Line: A Romance in Lower Mathematics, a work well worth an evening spent reading. He wrote a lot of other works, none of which I recognize. (Died 2021.)
  • Born June 2, 1937 Sally Kellerman. You know she was in Star Trek as Dr. Elizabeth Dehner in “Where No Man Has Gone Before”.  But did you know she also appeared on the Twilight ZoneThe Outer LimitsLost HorizonThe InvadersThe Ray Bradbury Theater, and finally Boris and Natasha: The Movie in which she played Natasha Fatale? Quite a genre record, isn’t it? (Died 2022.)
  • Born June 2, 1941 Stacy Keach, 81. Though best known for playing hard-boiled Detective Mike Hammer, he’s got a long association with our genre starting with being The Mountain of the Cannibal God, an Italian horror film. Next up for him was Class of 1999 followed by voicing both Carl Beaumont / Voice of Phantasm in Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, a film I really, really like. More horror, and a really silly title, await him in Children of the Corn 666: Isaac’s Return where The Hollow has a tasteful title which the Man with the Screaming Brain does not provide him. Storm War, also known as Weather Wars, is SF. And then there is Sin City: A Dame to Kill which is a rather nice piece of film making. And yes, he’s been in a televised version of Macbeth playing Banquo.
  • Born June 2, 1965 Sean Stewart, 57. Fantastic author whose Galveston novel that won the World Fantasy Award I highly recommend as well as the Resurrection Man novels. I’ve not read his most recent set of novels, The Cathy’s Book series, but it’s take on augmented reality sounds intriguing.
  • Born June 2, 1979 Morena Baccarin, 43. Very long genre history starting with portraying Inara Serra in Firefly and  Serenity; Adria in the Stargate SG-1 series and the Stargate: The Ark of Truth; Anna in the 2009 version of the series V; Vanessa in the Deadpool franchise; and Dr. Leslie Thompkins in Gotham. She also did an exemplary job of voicing Black Canary in Justice League Unlimited
  • Born June 2, 1982 Jewel Staite, 40. Best known as the engineer Kaylee Frye in the Firefly verse. She was Jennifer Keller in Stargate Atlantis, Catalina in the Canadian series Space Cases, Tiara VanHorn in Honey, I Shrunk the Kids: The TV Show and “Becca” Fisher in Flash Forward. Genre one-offs? Oh yes: The Odyssey (twice), Are You Afraid of The Dark (again twice), The X-FilesSo WeirdSabrina: The Animated SeriesThe ImmortalSeven DaysStargate AtlantisSupernaturalLegends of TomorrowThe Order and The Magicians.

(11) DANGER ZONE. Lawyers, Guns & Money’s Robert Farley compares Pete Mitchell (from Top Gun: Maverick) to Luke Skywalker: “Pete Mitchell and Luke Skywalker”.

… As it happens, the distance between Top Gun and Top Gun: Maverick is 36 years, while the distance between Return of the Jedi and the Last Jedi is 34 years. In both films those numbers are fully realized; Hammill and Cruise each play characters with the weight of three and a half decades on their shoulders. It is perhaps worth mentioning that the mission in Top Gun: Maverick is modeled on nothing so much as Luke Skywalker trench run against the Death Star in A New Hope. I find it awfully interesting that Pete “Maverick” Mitchell and Luke “Red Five” Skywalker each returned to the screen thirty-five years after the completion of their triumphant 80s arcs. I would not have guessed that the former would have been much more favorably received than the latter, and I think it’s worth investigating why….

(12) SFWA AUCTION RESULT. The second SFWA Silent Auction brought in nearly $18,400. Over 200 items, tuckerizations, and virtual sessions were offered. The funds will go to support SFWA’s ongoing work to promote, advance, and support SFF storytelling.

(13) UNFINISHED SYMPHONY. Paul Weimer delves into “the final, and incomplete, work by a master of science fiction and fantasy” — “Microreview [book]: Aspects by John M. Ford” at Nerds of a Feather. But first he issues a warning:

…If reading incomplete books is not your cup of tea, if the fact that this story does end abruptly without resolution, then, honestly, you probably don’t need to continue on with this book review and can go, read The Dragon Waiting or something else. I admit that it poked and prodded at my brain, but I think the book and what it does, what we have of it, is worth discussing, even in an incomplete stage. Inside baseball, perhaps, but it is akin to being shown the first chapters of a book or part of a novella from a friend writer, asking for what they think of it and what works and what does not….

(14) A NICE WAY TO SPEND 100 HOURS. Joe DelFranco is gung ho about Elden Ring: “Review [Video Game]: Elden Ring by From Software” at Nerds of a Feather.

Elden Ring is a vast, seemingly endless experience, that delivers wonders and death at every turn. A hit in all spheres of the industry, loved by fans and journalists both, not just for its generous amount of content but for its ability to transport the player firmly into the Lands Between without loosening its grip for hours on end. From Software has delivered a game that lets the player go on the adventure that they wish without holding their hand, a rarity in video games nowadays; a risk that paid off….

(15) THEY AIM TO PLEASE. The Corridor Crew wants to show you have different the series would be if Stormtroopers could hit what they shoot at: “We Made Star Wars Stormtroopers Accurate”.

Jordan and Fenner set out to correct the most glaring mistake in the original Star Wars trilogy–the lack of affordable health care for the Stormtroopers.

(16) UNLIKELY HERO RETURNS. Willow is an original series streaming on Disney+ beginning November 30.

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Pitch Meeting,” Ryan George says when Dolores Umbridge shows up in the fifth Harry Potter movie, she’s “super-snotty and mean: because she interrupts Dumbledore’s annual speech on the many ways Hogwarts students can die. Also, the vision of Voldemort Harry conjures up is even more terrifying because Voldemort’s wearing a zip-up hoodie!”

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Bonnie Warford, Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Steve Davidson.]

Pixel Scroll 4/5/22 Now That’s A Pixel I’ve Not Scrolled In A Long Time. A Long Time

(1) BEARING IT ALL. John Scalzi gives his fans a gift in “A New Story For You: Grizzly Bear Conflict Manager” at Whatever.

Whenever I go on book tour, I like to write up a short story to read at the events; a thank you, as it were, to the people who show up, who get to hear me read something no one else has gotten to yet. …

… This year, the short story I wrote (which I performed first on the 2022 edition of the JoCo Cruise) is called “Grizzly Bear Conflict Manager,” and it comes with a backstory, which is, there’s an actual job with the US National Park Service called a Grizzly Bear Conflict Manager. This job was pointed out to me by a friend who works with the park service; they were going to go into detail about the job actually entailed, but I stopped them before they could do so. “No, no,” I said. “I want to write a story about this job, and I do not want it sullied by mere facts.”

Thus, this story is a fanciful interpretation of what I imagine a Grizzly Bear Conflict Manager does, which I am almost entirely certain has nothing to do with what someone with this job actually does…

(2) PRECIOUS MOMENTS. Andy Serkis returns as Gollum in the new audiobook of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings.

Award-winning actor Andy Serkis (The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit) returns to Middle-earth this September in the brand new unabridged audiobook of J.R.R. Tolkien’s masterpiece, The Lord of the Rings. In this scene, he reprises his role as Gollum.

 (3) DO KNOW MUCH ABOUT HISTORY. Scott Oden talks about “The Landscape of Historical Fiction, Circa Now”.

…Certain topics are perennial. The Tudors, for example, seem always in fashion. So, too, the Romans. The latter are split into two camps: the pulpier sword-and-sandal novels of war and great deeds, emperors and kings, and the “quieter” histories that also bear some resemblance to romance novels. Scottish books are still holding steady, with their shirtless Highlanders and fiery gingers. Civil War novels have all but vanished, and there are a few Revolutionary era out there. I’ve seen more set in medieval India that I’d previously noticed.

Discordant to me, the Sixties have edged into historical fiction. The 1960s. The decade of my birth. This reminds me I’m slowly fossilizing ….

(4) WRAP ARTIST. At CrimeReads, Lisa Tuttle says “Forget Frankenstein. It’s Time To Read The Mummy!”, about a little known early science fiction novel from 1827.

FRANKENSTEIN, published in 1818, established Mary Shelley’s monster as a permanent icon of horror, and is considered by many to be the first true science fiction novel. Yet The Mummy! A Tale of the Twenty-Second Century, published nine years later, has a much stronger claim to that position. It was also the first work of fiction to feature an Egyptian mummy restored to life, but it was too far ahead of its time to become the foundational text for the later wave of horror featuring vengeful mummies.

Despite some Gothic flourishes, The Mummy! is not strictly a tale of horror. It does not deal in ancient curses or dark magic, and if at first the mummy of Cheops appears as a grim, imposing figure with flashing eyes and an eerie laugh, striking terror into the hearts of all who see him, he turns out to be a strangely helpful Machiavellian operator as he swiftly involves himself in political machinations following the death of Queen Claudia in twenty-second century London….

(5) IF YOU WANT OGRES. The Hugo Book Club Blog reviews Adrian Tchaikovsky’s Ogres in “Monstrously Wealthy”. Maybe you’d like to read it, too? They have three copies to give away. Here’s what you need to do.

(6) Q&A WITH NOMMO NOMINEES. The BSFA interviews past nominees for the Nommo Awards: Innocent Chizaram Ilo; Tlotlo Tsamaase; Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki; Tochi Onyebuchi; NIkhil Singh; Stephen Embleton.

(7) THAT OLD GANG OF MINE. “Star Trek: Picard to Reunite Next Generation Cast for Season 3”Variety tells who’ll be aboard.

Star Trek: The Next Generation” stars LeVar Burton, Michael Dorn, Jonathan Frakes, Gates McFadden, Marina Sirtis and Brent Spiner will join Patrick Stewart for the third and final season of the Paramount Plus series “Star Trek: Picard.”

Spiner has played several characters on “Picard” in Season 1 and 2 (which is currently streaming), including his original role of the android Data; Frakes and Sirtis appeared in one memorable episode of “Picard” in Season 1 as William T. Riker and Deanna Troi. And Whoopi Goldberg reprised her role as Guinan in the Season 2 premiere. But this will be the first time the main “TNG” cast — including Burton as Geordi La Forge, Dorn as Worf, and McFadden as Dr. Beverly Crusher — has performed on screen together since the 2002 feature film “Star Trek: Nemesis.”

(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1974 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Forty-six years ago, the Golden Voyage of Sinbad premiered in the United States on this day. It was based as these things are somewhat loosely upon on Sinbad the Sailor from One Thousand and One Nights, better known as the Arabian Nights

It was directed by Gordon Hessler, previously known for his long association with the Alfred Hitchcock Presents series. It was scripted by him from a story by himself and Ray Harryhausen who of course did the special effects here. Harryhausen and Charles Schneer, whose career was spent mostly working with Hartyhausen, produced it. 

It has a cast of John Phillip Law, Tom Baker, Takis Emmanuel, Caroline Munro, Douglas Wilmer and Martin Shaw. Munro was given the female lead, though they had to hew to a G rating here. And it is said that Baker’s performance in this film was what landed him the role of the Fourth Doctor, because the show’s producer, Barry Letts, was impressed with his performance here.

So how was the reception at the time for it? 

Well, Time magazine (remember them?) rather liked it though Baker they did not: “The movie is short on talk, except for the windbag wizard (Tom Baker) who plays the villain, and long on action, quite the proper proportion for entertainments like this. Sinbad is light, silly fun, and kids will probably appreciate both the skillful technique of the fantasy and the fact that the film makers have had the good sense not to include a single—yecchh!—kissing scene.” 

And Variety was likewise impressed: “As with producer Charles H. Schneer’s Jason and the Argonauts, Ray Harryhausen encores as coproducer and special effects collaborator. Among his creations: an animated ship’s figurehead, a grotesque centaur, a many-armed religious idol and swordplay adversary, and a couple of small bat-like creatures performing intelligence duty for the black artsy heavy of the piece. Good enough conjuring tricks to impress the kids.  Neither story nor running time are belabored under Gordon Hessler’s capable direction. And the play-acting is up to snuff for this kind of throwback, in which John Phillip Law impersonates Sinbad with appealing understatement.”

Currently it holds decent though not outstanding sixty-four percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. You can purchase or rent it pretty much anywhere.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born April 5, 1909 Albert Broccoli. American film producer responsible for all the Bond films up to Licence to Kill, either by himself or in conjunction with others. He also was the producer of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and executive produced The Gamma People which is in the public domain, so you can see it here. (Died 1996.)
  • Born April 5, 1916 Bernard Baily. A comics writer, editor and publisher. Best remembered as co-creator of The Spectre and Hourman. For DC Comics precursor National Comics, Baily co-created and drew the adventure feature “Tex Thomson” in Action Comics #1 (June 1938), the landmark comic book that introduced Superman. In 1943, he founded his own studio. Among the artists who started out in the industry there were Frank Frazetta, Carmine Infantino and Gil Kane. (Died 1996.)
  • Born April 5, 1917 Robert Bloch. His Wiki page says he’s best known as the writer of Psycho, but I’ll guarantee that only film geeks and many of y’all know that. I know him best as the writer of the Trek “Wolf in the Fold” episode, one of three Trek episodes he did. His Night of the Ripper novel is highly recommended. And I know “That Hellbound Train” which won him first Hugo at Detention is the piece by him that I’ve read the most. He received a special committee award at L.A. Con II, where they were honored him for fifty years as SF professional. Impressive indeed. And yes, he’s a member of First Fandom as he should be. (Died 1994.)
  • Born April 5, 1926 Roger Corman, 96. Ahhhh, popcorn films! (See popcorn literature for what I mean.) Monster from the Ocean Floor in the early Fifties was his first such film and Death Race: Beyond Anarchy was his final film just a few years back. He’s a man who even produced a film called, errr, Munchies. A Worldcon guest of honor in 1996. A very, very long career. 
  • Born April 5, 1933 Frank Gorshin. To my amazement, I’ve not written him up before! He of course played The Riddler eleven times on The Batman counting the film. And he appeared on Star Trek  playing Bele in “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield”, though I’ll be damn if I remember which of the two he was. He had one-offs on The MunstersWonder WomanBuck Rogers in the 25th Century (well a two-parter there), MonstersAre You Afraid of the DarkThe Ren & Stimpy Show (voice role), Black Scorpion and coming full circle finally voicing Professor Hugo Strange on The Batman. One of the figure companies is doing a one-sixth scale figure of his Riddler this Autumn. (Died 2005.)
  • Born April 5, 1950 Anthony Horowitz, 72. He wrote five episodes of Robin of Sherwood, and he was both creator and writer of Crime Traveller. He’s also written both Bond and Holmes novels. If you can find a copy, Richard Carpenter’s Robin of Sherwood: The Hooded Man is a very nice fleshing out of that series in literary form.
  • Born April 5, 1950 A.C. Crispin. She wrote several Trek and Star Wars novelizations and created her series called Starbridge which was heavily influenced by Trek. She also co-wrote several Witch World novels, Gryphon’s Eyrie and Songsmith, with Andre Norton. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Price of Freedom was her last novel prior to her death from bladder cancer while in hospice care. (Died 2013.)
  • Born April 5, 1965 Deborah Harkness, 57. She’s the author of the All Souls Trilogy, which consists of A Discovery of Witches and its sequels Shadow of Night and The Book of Life. I listened to the Jennifer Ikeda-narrated audiobooks which are an amazing experience. Highly recommended as Harkness tells a remarkable story here with lots of Library-related material. I’m not even fond ’tall of vampires in any form and hers actually are both appealing and make sense. I’ve not seen the series made from the novels.

(10) SPOT ON. Cora Buhlert has posted another Fanzine Spotlight for “Science Fiction and Other Suspect Ruminations” by Joachim Boaz.

Tell us about your site or zine.

Science Fiction and Other Suspect Ruminations maps the varied landscape of SF produced during the turbulence of the post-WWII to the mid-1980s world. I am fascinated by the ways authors responded to the advent of nuclear weapons, the rise of 50s suburbia and commercialism, the Civil Rights movement, the Counterculture and radical student politics, the Vietnam War, and the 1970s political backlash. I chart what’s produced in a specific time and territory to understand the people who dwelled at that moment—their dreams for the future, their fears of the present, and all the manifestations of estrangement and elation generated by a rapidly transforming world. Science fiction is a fantastic way to get at the zeitgeist of an era.

I am particularly receptive to New Wave science fiction of the late 60s and early 70s that attempted to tackle our oblique interiors via radical structure/politics, non-standard characters and perspectives, and experimental prose. Sometimes it’s beautiful. Sometimes it doesn’t work. But it’s all fascinating.

(11) 2021 HUGO SWAG. Also, congratulations to Cora Buhlert who is celebrating the arrival of her DisCon III Hugo finalist goodies.

(12) UP YOUR LIBRARY I WILL PROP. The “Yoda Illusion Bookend” seems like an entertaining idea.

(13) CUT-AND-PAST. The 2014 trailer for graduate film student Ricky Kennedy’s feature length film “The History of Time Travel” is news to me!

(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Trailers:  Ghost Rider 1 and 2,” the Screen Junkies say the two Ghost Rider movies “Feel like going on a 48-hour Coke bender with Nick Cage. They’re a bad idea, but still pretty fun.”  The two films are “loud, fun, and barely make sense. They’re dumb, but comic books are dumb.”

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

Pixel Scroll 3/23/22 I’m a Pixel, and a Filer, and a Midnight Scroller

(1) TWIGGING TO IT. The Glasgow in 2024 Worldcon bid is running a community craft project at Reclamation, the 2022 Eastercon. “The Fantastic Tree of Life”. Full plan with ideas about various types of crafts and how to get them to the team can be found at the link. Reclamation 2022 is April 15-18.

The Tree of Life is a symbol found in many cultures and religions around the world. Showing variously the connection between Earth and Sky, the connection between all living things or the cycle of the seasons, there can be many different ways it is depicted. What would the tree look like if it were created by a bunch of SFF fans?

Our goal is to create a wall-hanging of a Tree of Life with all kinds of fantastic lifeforms on it. We will prepare a background cloth with the basic elements on it – earth/grass and sky and the outline of a tree. One of the defining features of the type of Tree of Life we’re envisioning is that it shows all kinds of different leaves, flowers and fruits on the same tree at the same time, often with added animals as well. So, we’re asking you to create something SFF-inspired for the tree – with sources as varied as fairy-tales and space opera, and to be honest, life on this here planet is often strange enough to qualify as well. I’m envisioning something highly stylized and drawing on naive and medieval art rather than realism.

So, what exactly do we want, and what should it be created from? We’re taking the name of Reclamation seriously and are going to reclaim and reuse all the bits and pieces lying around from previous projects – leftover yarn, felt and leather scraps, pretty paper. For example, I’ve been collecting gift wrapping paper that I found too pretty to throw out, as well as a bunch of small pieces that were left over from when I was wrapping the gifts. Those make great sources for origami and other paper crafts!

(2) KICK CANCER’S BUTT. Author John Barnes’ wife has pancreatic cancer and the family needs financial help. A GoFundMe has been launched.

“Fundraiser by Orion Rodriguez : Help Diane Kick Cancer’s Butt!” Full medical details at the link. The appeal’s introduction asks —

A few words from Orion

Whether you’ve worked with her as a teacher or tutor, collaborated with her as an artist, or simply known her as a neighbor or friend, there’s one thing everyone notices about Diane Talbot – she’s dedicated her life to helping others. Now, let’s all step up to help her!

(3) FALLING OFF THE EDGE? [Item by Cora Buhlert.] The Hugo Book Club Blog is delving into the potential issue with the Hugo Award’s 25 percent rule and how some categories are in danger of not being awarded at all, because not enough people vote in them: “The 25 per cent solution”. They suggest how the rule could be revised.

… This rule also comes from a time in which there was far more parity between the number of votes in various categories. In 1980 (the first year that we have full voting statistics on the Hugos for), the category which received the fewest votes was Best Fan Writer. In that year, 884 out of 1,788 Hugo voters voted for Fan Writer, giving that category a participation rate of 49 per cent.

Four decades later, the number of people voting in the Fan Writer category has not substantially changed, but the numbers voting in the prose fiction categories has drastically increased. Thus, the percentage of voters engaged with this category has decreased. This means that these Hugo Award categories are being endangered not due to declining interest in those categories when counted by number of voters, but rather by the enthusiasm and growth of other categories.

Fundamentally, the decision about whether or not the Best Editor – Long Form award is worth running should not be contingent on how many people voted in the Best Dramatic Presentation category….

(4) BORYS IN A BIT OF FINANCIAL DIFFICULTY. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.]  Ukranian fan Borys Sydiuk (immediate family and couple of elderly dependents) is in a bit of financial difficulty.  He is in Kyiv but normal means of earning a living have stopped because some idiot keeps chucking shells and missiles at the city.

If anyone wishes to send him a few quid then Borys Sydiuk’s PayPal is [email protected] Small amounts gratefully received.  This is not for a huge medical bill or some grand project, but some cash for living basics. (The economy in Ukraine has gone very peculiar.)

(5) SAYING FOR THE DAY. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie,] “Science Fiction can only be created by a free mind.” Igor Likhovoi, Ukraine’ s Minister for Culture & Tourism in 2006 at the 2006 Eurocon.

(6) RATHBONE FOLIO PRIZE. The Rathbones Folio Prize 2022 winner is a non-genre novel by Irish novelist Colm Tóibín, The Magician (Viking), a “haunting, intimate portrait of the exiled German Nobel winner Thomas Mann.” He will receive a £30,000 prize,

(7) RICHARD LABONTÉ (1949-2022). Canadian fan, writer and editor Richard Labonté died March 20.

In 1967 he started ACUSFOOS, A Carleton University Speculative Fiction Organization, Of Sorts. He was the one who introduced Susan Wood to fandom as she later recalled: “Too late, I realized that that shy, mild-mannered, clean-shaven, white-shirted young gentleman in the corner of our newspaper office, who did all the work and never spoke to anyone, was the infamous Richard Labonte, Secret Master of Canadian Fandom. I was enslaved…” He soon was part of the community around Susan and Mike Glicksohn’s Hugo-winning fanzine Energumen. He even was once a department head of the National Fantasy Fan Federation, in charge of Round Robins. 

In later years Labonté became well-known professionally as the editor or co-editor of numerous anthologies of LGBT literature and won the Lambda Literary Award three times.

Daniel Lynn Alvarez paid tribute to him on Facebook.

(8) MEMORY LANE.

1976 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Forty-six years ago at MidAmeriCon where Ken Keller was the Chair and Robert A. Heinlein (pro) and George Barr (fan) were the Guests, A Boy And His Dog won the Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation. (Also, a pre-release cut was shown at the 1974 Worldcon.)

It was directed by L.Q. Jones who also wrote the screenplay which was based on the novella by Harlan Ellison. A novella nominated for a Hugo at Heicon ’70 – a category won that year by “Time Considered as a Helix of Semi-Precious Stones“. 

The cast was Don Johnson, Susanne Benton, Alvy Moore and Jason Robards. It’s a small ensemble but it fit the story.

So how was the reception for it at the time? Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times mostly liked it: “The movie’s about eccentrics (especially the dog, who turns out to be very eccentric), and Jones seems to have a feel for that: The movie doesn’t look or sound like most s-f tours of alternative futures. It’s got a unique . . . well, I was about to say charm, but the movie’s last scene doesn’t quite let me get away with that.”  

The New York Times in an unsigned review (apparently no one wanted to take credit for the review) wasn’t as kind: “’A Boy and His Dog,’ a fantasy about the world after a future holocaust, is, more or less, a beginner’s movie. It has some good ideas and some terrible ones. The good ideas are marred by awkwardness; the terrible ideas are redeemed somewhat by being, at least, unpredictable.”

Despite costing only four hundred thousand to produce, it was a box office disaster. It has, not unsurprisingly, become a cult film. You can watch it on Amazon Prime and a lot of other streaming services as well. Though not quite a Meredith moment, it is available to purchase on Amazon and iTunes. 

It has an excellent sixty-three percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 23, 1904 H. Beam Piper. Was there ever a more fun writer to read? I am reasonably sure that the first thing I read and enjoyed by him was Lord Kalvan of Otherwhen followed by Little Fuzzy and related works which are as I said damn fun reading. Has anyone here read Scalzi’s Fuzzy novel? Not a Hugo to be had by Piper, amazingly, but Little Fuzzy was nominated at the first Discon when The Man in the High Castle won. (Died 1964.)
  • Born March 23, 1934 Neil Barron. Certainly best known for Anatomy of Wonder: A Critical Guide to Science Fiction, actually still a damn fine read, which is unusual for this sort of material which can tend towards being rather dry.  (It picked up a Hugo nomination at NolaCon II.) If memory thirty years on serves me right, his Fantasy Literature and Horror Literature guides were quite good too. He did win an International Horror Guild Award for Fantasy and Horror: A Critical and Historical Guide to Literature, Illustration, Film, TV, Radio, and the Internet . (Died 2010.)
  • Born March 23, 1937 Carl Yoke, 85. One of those academics that I stumbled upon when I was looking for information on Zelazny. His 1979 study of him, Roger Zelazny, is quite excellent, as is his essay, “Roger Zelazny’s Bold New Mythologies” which is in Tom Staicar’s Critical Encounters II: Writers and Themes in Science Fiction. He also wrote “What a Piece of Work is a Man: Mechanical Gods in the Fiction of Roger Zelazny” which you’ll find in Contributions to the Study of Science Fiction and Fantasy. Yoke does have two genre stories to his credit, they’re called The Michael Holland Stories.
  • Born March 23, 1947 Elizabeth Ann Scarborough, 75. Though her only award was a Nebula for The Healer’s War, I remember her best for a three book series called The Songkiller Saga which was wonderful and the Acorna series that she did with Anne McCaffrey which they co-wrote all but two as the first two were written by McCaffrey and Margaret Ball. She wrote a tribute to McCaffrey, “The Dragon Lady’s Songs”, that appeared in Dragonwriter.
  • Born March 23, 1952 Kim Stanley Robinson, 70. If the Mars trilogy was the only work that he’d written, he’d rank among the best genre writers ever. But then he went and wrote the outstanding Three Californias Trilogy. I won’t say I have liked everything he writes, the Science in the Capital series just didn’t appeal to me. His best one-off novels I think are without argument (ha!) The Years of Rice and Salt and New York 2140.  I should note he has won myriad awards including the Hugo Award for Best Novel for the two in the Mars trilogy at ConAdian and LoneStarCon 2 (the first novel got nominated at ConFrancisco but did not win), BSFA Award for Best Novel, the Nebula Award for Best Novel and the World Fantasy Award. And the Heinlein Society gave him their Robert A. Heinlein Award for his entire body of work! 
  • Born March 23, 1958 John Whitbourn, 64. Writer of a number novels and short stories focusing on an alternative history set in a Catholic universe. It reminds me a bit of Keith Robert’s Pavane but much more detailed. A Dangerous Energy in which Elizabeth I never ascends the throne leads off his series. If that’s not to your taste, Frankenstein’s Legion’s is a sheer delight of Steampunk riffing off Mary Shelley‘s tale. He’s available at the usual digital suspects.
  • Born March 23, 1959 Maureen Kincaid Speller, 63. Former editor of Matrix, and former Administrator of the British Science Fiction Association. Senior Reviews Editor at Strange Horizons and Assistant Editor at Foundation. Also reviews for Interzone and Vector among others; a collection of her reviews appeared as And Another Thing … (2011, chapbook). Co-editor (with husband Paul Kincaid) of The Best of Vector Vo.1 (2015). Fanzines include Steam Engine Time (with Bruce Gillespie and Paul Kincaid) and Snufkin’s Bum. Founder of Acnestis apa. Four-times judge of the Arthur C. Clarke Award, has also served as a judge of the Otherwise Award (formerly known as the James Tiptree Jr. Award) and the Rotsler Award. TAFF delegate in 1998. Joint Fan Guest of Honour at Eastercon 1996 (Evolution) with Paul Kincaid. Winner of the Nova Award for Best Fanwriter 1998. [Birthday done by by Ziv Wities.]
  • Born March 23, 1977 Joanna Page, 45. It’s not the longest of genre resumes but it’s an interesting one. First she’s Ann Crook in From Hell from the graphic novel by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell. Next up is appearing in yet another version of The Lost World. (I think that there’s a legal contract requiring one be made every so often.) And finally  she’s Queen Elizabeth I in The Day of The Doctor

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • The Argyle Sweater’s joke becomes more grotesque every moment you think about it.
  • Bizarro finds inspiration by adding a comma to the first line of a classic.

(11) BRADBURY’S EC STORIES. Fantagraphics will release Home to Stay!: The Complete Ray Bradbury EC Stories on October 25. Surely this belongs under your Halloween tree?

Between 1951 and 1954, EC Comics adapted 28 classic Ray Bradbury stories into comics form, scripted by Al Feldstein and interpreted and illustrated by all of EC’s top artists: Johnny Craig, Reed Crandall, Jack Davis, Will Elder, George Evans, Frank Frazetta, Graham Ingels, Jack Kamen, Bernard Krigstein, Joe Orlando, John Severin, Angelo Torres, Al Williamson, and Wallace Wood. This special companion collection to our EC Comics Library series features all 28 stories with stunning art reproduced in generously oversized coffee table dimensions!

(12) TANGLED UP IN BLUE. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] Leslie Felperin of the Guardian reviews the rotoscoped fantasy film The Spine of Night, though she seems to believe it’s steampunk, when it’s really a sword and sorcery film: “The Spine of Night review – a heady concoction of steampunk and flower power”

… The Spine of Night is set in a world that seems to be going through an historical period roughly analogous to our late medieval/early Renaissance era of colonialism and discovery, when better armed conquistadors with better weapons and fewer scruples conquer the native occupants of a swampy land. However, the indigenous people, who go about mostly naked all the time, have magical blue flower power, in the literal shape of a botanical tech that shamanistic priestess Tzod (voiced by Lucy Lawless) can control with her mind and do cool stuff with, like making lethal blue flames…

[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Cora Buhlert, Jerry Kaufman, Ziv Wities, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Rob Thornton.]

Pixel Scroll 3/18/22 When A Pixel’s Not Engaged In Its Enscrollment

(1) BIG GREEN NUMBERS. Brandon Sanderson shares a lot of information about his successful Kickstarter and his progress on other projects in “Some FAQs You Might Enjoy”. Also includes a long analysis of Amazon’s effect on his business.

How Are You Going to Spend the Money?

I got this question from the journalist from the Associated Press who interviewed me.  He gave an excellent interview, and we had a really great conversation.  But this question stopped me for a moment.  It’s a valid question, but it took me by surprise, as I haven’t been looking at this the way that some people seem to be.  I didn’t hit the lottery, any more than any other business hits the lottery when they have a product that connects with their market.

I will spend the money as I spend the rest of my money.  Part into savings, part into paying salaries (along with nice extra bonuses because the Kickstarter did well), part reinvested into the company.  (We’re still planning on building a physical bookstore, and this will help accelerate those plans.  Also, it’s not outside of reason that as I move into doing more film and TV, I will want to partially fund some of the projects.)

While this Kickstarter is an incredible event, and (don’t get me wrong) is going to earn me a good chunk of money, it’s going to be comparable to other projects I’ve done.  Also, don’t underestimate how much money it costs to maintain the infrastructure (like a warehouse–or in this case, probably more than one) it takes to be able to ship several hundred thousand books.  It will likely be years before we can be certain how much this actually earned us after all expenses.  More than we’d get from New York on the same books, but potentially not that much more.

That said, I will almost certainly buy myself some nice Magic cards.  Still have a few unlimited duals in my cube that could use an upgrade to black border.

Did You Anticipate This Level of Success for the Kickstarter?

I did not.  I knew the potential was there, but I didn’t think it (getting to this astronomical number of backers) would happen.

My guess was that we’d land somewhere in the 2–4 million range, though I really had no idea.  My team can attest to the fact that in the lead-up, I was very conservative in my estimates and expectations.  This was an experiment from us that I’d been wanting to try for a while.  (I’ll talk more about that below.)  I didn’t have any idea how well it would go.

…How many of those potential 250k–800k people who normally buy a Sanderson book in the first year could be convinced instead to move and preorder it through Kickstarter?  Our guesses, it turned out, were way low.  But at the same time, it is interesting that (not disregarding our huge success, which I’m not at all complaining about) even this huge Kickstarter breaking all records is only grabbing a fraction of my normal audience.  So maybe you can see why we knew we had potential, but were conservative in our estimates. … 

There is also much inside baseball about what indie authors have to face:

…These days, according to some of my indie author friends, you have to spend a great deal to sell on Amazon.  Not everyone’s experience is the same, but I hear this time and time again.  To make it as an indie author, you need to shell out for expensive advertising on the very website selling your books.  I have indie author friends who are spending a good portion of their income on these advertisements–and if they don’t, their sales vanish.  Amazon has effectively created a tax where indie authors pay back a chunk of that glorious 70% royalty to Amazon.  (And this is for the authors lucky enough to be allowed to buy those advertising spots, and therefore have the chance at selling.)….

…Regardless, this has been bothering me for over a decade.  I feel that the current system has a gun to my head.  Heck, all that has to happen is for someone at Amazon read this blog post or see my Kickstarter and decide they just want to make an example out of me.  Poof.  85% of my sales gone.  And while some people might go to another vendor to get my books, the painful truth is that many would not.  Time and time again, studies of contemporary tech media consumption have shown that the person who controls the platform is the one who controls the market. …

(2) MAIL CALL. In “An Open Letter to the 2022 Hugo Finalists, Whoever They May Be”, Cora Buhlert once again shares her experience and advice.

… Right now, no one except for possibly the Hugo administrators knows who those finalists will be. However, sometime in the next two weeks or so, some of you will receive an e-mail from Chicon 8, informing you that you are a finalist for the 2022 Hugo Award and asking you whether you want to accept the nomination. Some of you will have received such e-mails before, for others it will be the first time.

But whether it’s your first or your twentieth nomination, congratulations! That’s awesome.

As a first time recipient of such an e-mail in 2020, here are a few things I’ve learned…

(3) UNIVERSE WILL KEEP EXPANDING. Sharon Lee’s biggest news in “Liaden Universe® Updates” is that she and Steve Miller have accepted an additional three book contract with Baen for Liaden novels.

…The contract’s call-name is Traveler’s Trio, and we have no idea where those novels will take us, yet, but we do have delivery dates.  Those are:

Traveler’s Trio ONE:  September 2024
Traveler’s Trio TWO:  September 2025
Traveler’s Trio THREE:  September 2026

Note A:  In September 2026, I will be 74 years old.  Steve will have celebrated his 76th birthday three months prior.  This by way of reassuring those folks who have been worrying about our retirement that, err — writers don’t retire.  At least, writers at our level of the game don’t retire.

Here ends the Updatery.

(4) GUNN CENTER EVENTS. The Gunn Center for the Study of SF has posted the selections and dates for the next several meetings of their virtual book club, and another event. Zoom info and further details at the links. 

Discussion of Colson Whitehead’s first novel, The Intuitionist. This choice anticipates Whitehead’s visit to Lawrence for the Paper Plains Literary Festival in early April! https://www.paperplains.org

Discussion of Angelline Boulley’s young adult thriller, Firekeeper’s Daughter. More aligned with conversations about Indigenous belief systems and spirituality than conventional science fiction; also in anticipation of the Paper Plains festival. Co-sponsored with Haskell Indian Nations University, KU’s First Nations Student Association, and others. Teens welcome!

Discussion of Franny Choi’s Soft Science. In celebration of National Poetry Month!

  • Friday, MAY 20th* @ noon (CT) – [no link yet] Discussion of Sarah Pinsker’s Two Truths and a Lie

Winner of the 2021 Nebula Award & 2021 Hugo Award for Best Novelette. (*) Please note that this is not the last Friday of the month, which falls on Memorial Day Weekend.

(5) ARE THEY TALKING ABOUT YOU? The Silmarillion Writers’ Guild seeks the meaning of it all in “A Sudden Outcry: The Tolkien Estate and Fanworks”.

…When the Tolkien Estate recently presented their newly revamped website, it did not take fans long to see past the new artwork and other features to find that the Tolkien Estate has a policy on fanworks. The past several days have seen a whirl of discussion about what it all means that can be distilled down to a single burning question:

Did the Tolkien Estate just ban fanworks?

In short, no, the Tolkien Estate did not just ban fanworks. The fanworks you have posted, are in the middle of creating, or are even thinking about creating are not affected by what the Estate says on their website.

The longer answer depends on if you’re interested in the just or the ban part of that question (or maybe both!). While the following is not legal advice, we hope it will lessen the worry that the existence of fanworks is in jeopardy.  As always, bear in mind that laws vary from country to country. If you have specific concerns, the Organization for Transformative Works’ legal committee, while unable to give legal advice, can answer questions you might have.

The article contains an extensive history of the Estate’s policies towards fanworks. The writers come to this paradoxical conclusion:

…The Tolkien Estate is anti-fanwork and always has been. For all that the “other minds and hands” quote gets tossed about by fans eager to believe that Tolkien would have condoned their activities, Tolkien himself was anti-fanwork when it came to his books,2 unless it was something that he liked. This has neither changed nor prevented Tolkien fanworks from being made in the almost seven decades since The Lord of the Rings was published…

(6) OMELAS. The Unofficial Hugo Book Club Blog tweeted a crusher yesterday. There are nine tweets in the thread, which starts here.

(7) THE SAND OF MUSIC. Hans Zimmer tells Vanity Fair about the score for Dune in a video that dropped today: “How ‘Dune’ Composer Hans Zimmer Created the Oscar-Nominated Score”.

“Something I wanted to always do. Invent instruments that don’t exist. Invent sounds that don’t exist.” Hans Zimmer, ‘Dune’ composer, gives his in-depth analysis and insider’s look at how the score was created for Denis Villeneuve’s 2021 film.

(8) MORE FROM DISCON III. Morgan Hazelwood posted her notes from the DisCon III panel “Ask An Editor: Longform Writing” with participants George Jreije, Katherine Crighton, Navah Wolfe, and Trevor Quachri, plus Joshua Bilmes as moderator. (The material is also presented in a YouTube video.)

The description for this panel was as follows:

What makes a good novel? How do you know it’s ready? Where should you send it and how should you respond to comments? This is your chance to ask burning questions to a panel of respected agents and editors.

(9) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites listeners to share deep-fried wontons with Library of Congress curator Sara Duke in episode 167 of the Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Sara Duke

Library of Congress curator Sara Duke and I were supposed to have lunch two years ago, way back in March of 2020, but then … something happened. I suspect you can guess what that something was. We finally managed to break bread — or rather, share Pad See Ew — last week at D.C.’s Young Chow Chinese restaurant.

Sara Duke has been at the Library of Congress for more than 30 years, the past 23 as the curator of Popular and Applied Graphic Art in the Prints and Photographs Division. She’s in charge of cartoons, documentary drawings, and ephemera. Starting with Blondie Gets Married in 2000, she’s been responsible for curating many exhibits relating to popular culture, including Comic Art: 120 Years of Panels and Pages, and most recently, Geppi’s Gems.

We discussed the first piece of artwork she longed to get her hands on after a 13-month pandemic absence, our joint loathing of slabbed comics, the misconceptions many people have about the Library of Congress, the things most people no longer remember about Blondie, her comic book exhibit cancelled by COVID, the serendipitous way a PhD in 17th century Irish history led to her becoming a curator, her early (and continuing) love of MAD magazine, and much more.

(10) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1981 [Item by Cat Eldridge] On this evening forty-one years ago, the show that Warner Bros. sued for copyright infringement in Warner Bros. Inc. v. American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. premiered on ABC. The Greatest American Hero starred William Katt as teacher Ralph Hinkley in a suit that allowed him to fly and which looked sort of like that Super-Hero. The Court ruled, “as a matter of law, The Greatest American Hero’ is not sufficiently similar to the fictional character Superman.” 

It was created by producer Stephen J. Cannell and was his only genre undertaking.

The rest of the regular cast consisted of just Robert Culp as FBI agent Bill Maxwell and Connie Sellecca as lawyer Pam Davidson. ABC wasn’t going to deal with a bloated salary line here.  Culp of course had been Kelly Robinson on I Spy, but more importantly was in The Outer Limits episode “Demon with a Glass Hand”, written by Harlan Ellison. Sellecca played Pamela Edwards in a recurring role in the Beyond Westworld series.

It would last three seasons and have a proper conclusion in which the story was wrapped up. That conclusion lead to the pilot for another series which was not picked up by another network. A reboot with a female lead was in the works at ABC several years back but not even a pilot was shot.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 18, 1888 Alexander Leydenfrost. As an illustrator, he briefly worked for Planet Stories before being signed by Life magazine where the money was better. But his quite brief tenure at Planet Stories is credited with the creation of the enduring cliche Bug Eyed Monster as that’s what his illustrations showed. (Died 1961.)
  • Born March 18, 1926 Peter Graves. Star of Mission Impossible and the short lived Australian-based Mission Impossible, which if you not seen it you should as it’s damn good. I’m reasonably certain his first genre role was on Red Planet Mars playing Chris Cronyn. Later roles included Gavin Lewis on The Invaders, Major Noah Cooper on Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, Doug Paul Martin in Killers from Space and Paul Nelson on It Conquered the World. It’s worth noting that a number of his films are featured on the Mystery Science Theater 3000 series. (Died 2010.)
  • Born March 18, 1932 John Updike. It might surprise you to learn that there are two Eastwick novels, The Witches of Eastwick and The Widows of Eastwick, the latter set some three decades after the first novel ended. No idea what it’s like as I’ve never heard of it. He wrote a number of other genre friendly novels including The CentaurBrazil and Toward the End of Time. (Died 2009.)
  • Born March 18, 1950 J.G. Hertzler, 72. He’s best known for his role on Deep Space Nine as the Klingon General (and later Chancellor) Martok. He co-authored with Jeff Lang, Left Hand of Destiny, Book 1, and Left Hand of Destiny, Book 2, which chronicle the life of his character. His very TV first role was a genre one, to wit on Quantum Leap sac Weathers Farrington in the  “Sea Bride – June 3, 1954” episode. Setting aside DS9, he’s been in ZorroHighlanderThe Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of SupermanLois & Clark: The New Adventures of SupermanCharmedRoswell and Enterprise series;  for film genre work, I see The Redeemer: Son of SatanTreasure Island: The Adventure Begins and Prelude to Axanar (yet another piece of fanfic). In addition, he’s done a lot of video game voice acting, the obvious Trek work but such franchises as BioShock 2The Golden Compass and Injustice: Gods Among Us.
  • Born March 18, 1959 Luc Besson, 63. Oh, The Fifth Element, one of my favorite genre films. There’s nothing about it that I don’t like. I’ve not seen Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets and comments leave me disinclined to do so. The Transporter is not genre but I recommend it as a great film none the less.
  • Born March 18, 1960 Richard Biggs. Another way too young death on Babylon 5 as he appeared as Dr. Stephen Franklin, reprising the role in the final aired episode of Crusade, “Each Night I Dream of Home”. Other genre roles included playing Roger Garrett on Tremors, Hawkes In The Alien Within, An Unnamed Reporter on Beauty and the Beast,  Dr. Thomson on an episode of The Twilight Zone and a Process Server in an episode of The Magical World of Disney.  (Died 2004.)
  • Born March 18, 1961 James Davis Nicoll, 61. A freelance game and genre reviewer. A first reader for SFBC as well. Currently he’s a blogger on Dreamwidth and Facebook, and an occasional columnist on Tor.com. In 2014, he started his website, jamesdavisnicoll.com, which is dedicated to his book reviews of works old and new; and which later added the highly entertaining Young People Read Old SFF, where that group reads and comments on prior-to-Eighties SF and fantasy.

(12) SENDING UP DISNEY. “This Young Artist Successfully Wows Disney Fans With Hilarious Disney Fanarts” at Aubtu.

Disney fans tend to redraw Disney characters with their unique ideas, but Jorge D. Espinosa has taken it to another level. As a talented artist, Jorge has recreated several famous Disney characters with different settings. They can be about Aurora’s hangover or Jasmine as a dancer enjoying Beyonce’s song. There is no doubt that these unique and funny drawings can make even The Beast laugh….

(13) IDIOMATIC ACCESSION. I need one of these. Don’t I? Archie McPhee’s “Murder of Crows”.

(14) SQUEEZING OUT THE WATER. James Davis Nicoll tells Tor.com readers about “Five Wonderfully Concise SFF Books”.

Olden-time SF authors, limited as they were to pen and paper, typewriters, and other now archaic methods of production, and trying to sell to markets uninterested in purchasing lengthy works, often delivered works that seem startlingly concise and to the point by modern standards. There’s nothing like not having a choice to urge people to make the right choices.

However, even in this age of word processing software and publisher enthusiasm for meandering series of enormous story-fragments, there are authors who deliver short, effective books that contain within them all of the necessary narrative elements. They even include that most elusive ingredient—an actual ending. Consider these five comparatively recent examples of books that are wonderfully short and to the point….

(15) THAT OTHER JAMES. ScienceAlert says “Webb Just Sent Back Its First-Ever Sharp Image of a Star, And It’s Breathtaking”.

…To demonstrate its capabilities, Webb focused on a single star, named 2MASS J17554042+6551277, more commonly known as TYC 4212-1079-1.

This bright object, around 2,000 light-years away, is just over 16 times intrinsically brighter than the Sun – a nice, clear target for Webb. A red filter was used to optimize visual contrast; and, although the telescope was just looking at the star, its instruments are so sensitive that background stars and galaxies can also be seen.

“We have fully aligned and focused the telescope on a star, and the performance is beating specifications. We are excited about what this means for science,” said Ritva Keski-Kuha, deputy optical telescope element manager for Webb at NASA Goddard….

(16) PARADOX RESOLVED. “Scientists claim hairy black holes explain Hawking paradox” reports BBC News. I have nothing to say about that headline at all.

Scientists say they have solved one of the biggest paradoxes in science first identified by Prof Stephen Hawking.

He highlighted that black holes behave in a way that puts two fundamental theories at odds with each other.

Black holes are dead stars that have collapsed and have such strong gravity that not even light can escape.

New research claims to have resolved the paradox by showing that black holes have a property which they call “quantum hair”….

(17) ONCE MORE INTO THE BREACH, DEAR FRIENDS. “’Muppets Mayhem’ Series a Go at Disney+”The Hollywood Reporter has the story.

Disney+ is taking another swing at a Muppets TV series.

The streamer, following a lengthy development process, has handed out a series order to comedy The Muppets Mayhem, with Lilly Singh set to star.

The comedy will follow the Electric Mayhem Band as it records its first-ever album. Singh will star as the human lead, Nora, the junior A&R executive who is tasked with managing and wrangling the band that originally debuted in the pilot for The Muppet Show in 1975. (Watch the band’s debut below.) Sources say the 10-episode comedy will begin filming in April.

The series — which will feature Dr. Teeth, Animal, Floyd Pepper, Janice, Zoot and Lips — is described as a music-filled journey in which the 45-year-old band comes face to face with the current-day music scene as they attempt to go platinum….

(18) ALIEN SCHOOL. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Or, how to be a Thermian in six “easy“ lessons. 

Digg.com has, um, dug up a short docu-feature on how the Thermans came to be so wonderfully quirky in Galaxy Quest. It’s a Class A lesson in the collaborative nature of filmmaking – where the screenwriter, director, actors, and everyone else contribute to what is eventually seen on the screen.

The singsongy, pitchy, sound of the aliens was originated by character actor Enrico Colantoni, who absolutely nailed his audition for the Thermian leader when he broke out that voice. Then they had to develop the walk, their native speech when the translator box breaks, and mannerisms for all sorts of situations. And the whole alien ensemble had to nail all of it. 

Just watch the video. You’ll love it. 

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Dr. Giselle Anatol, Steve Miller, Danny Sichel, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]