Pixel Scroll 11/11/23 Thanks To His Repellatron Skyway, Tom Swift Always Takes The High Road

(1) BESTSELLING WRITERS WILL OPEN BOOKSTORE. [Item by Anne Marble.] Brian Keene and Mary SanGiovanni are opening an indie bookstore in the historic district of Columbia, Pennsylvania. They’re planning to open it in the spring of 2024. They were inspired by indie bookstores such as Mysterious Galaxy, Dark Delicacies, etc.

Brian Keene and Mary SanGiovanni

Here’s their announcement: “New Brick and Mortar Bookstore”.

At the respective ages of fifty-six and forty (mumbles incoherently), Mary and I are planning for our golden years. We have seen too many of our peers struggling to write in their later years, and dependent upon those advances and royalties from book sales. It’s a sobering and frightening prospect, and we’d like a different future, with a second revenue stream so that we can continue to write in our old age….

…We are opening an independent bookstore specializing in Horror, Science-Fiction, Fantasy, Bizarro, and other speculative fiction genres.

Vortex Books & Comics will open Spring of 2024 in the historic district of beautiful Columbia, Pennsylvania — easily and quickly accessible from Baltimore, Philadelphia, Harrisburg, New York City, Washington D.C. and more. We’ll carry a full complement of books from the Big Five, as well as hundreds of books from many cool indie publishers and small presses, and titles in Espanol and other languages. We’ll host weekly signings, readings, workshops, and other events. We know this business, and are intimately familiar with its ups and downs, ebbs and flows. Our goal is to make the store a destination. As our record for the last 30 years shows, we believe that Horror fiction is for everyone, and Vortex will echo that. All are welcome, and all will have a place on our shelves….

And for everyone in the community who wants to help, there’s a GoFundMe: “Brian Keene and Mary SanGiovanni’s Bookstore”.

…If you would like to show your solidarity and support with a donation, it will be put toward further set-up costs such as fixtures, security, inventory, marketing and advertising, signage, etc. thus giving us a bit of breathing room and time to make the store profitable….

(2) AI IN TIMES TO COME. [Item by Cliff.] Very interesting take on ‘AI’ from a number of authors. Two of them reference Italo Calvino, who I guess was ahead of his time in dwelling on this subject.“’It is a beast that needs to be tamed’: leading novelists on how AI could rewrite the future” in the Guardian.

Bernardine Evaristo

… Imagine a future where those who are most adept at getting AI to write creatively will dominate, while we writers who spend a lifetime devoted to our craft are sidelined. OK, this is a worst‑case scenario, but we have to consider it, because ChatGPT and the other Large Language Models (LLMs) out there have been programmed to imagine a future that threatens many creative professions. ChatGPT is already responding to the questions I ask it in seconds, quite reliably. It is an impressive beast, but one that needs to be tamed. We cannot afford to ignore it…

(3) CUT! The Hugo Book Club Blog argues against ratification of two new Hugo categories which received first passage at the Chengdu Worldcon business meeting: “Hugo Book Club Blog: Indie Cinema And The Hugo Of Doom”.

At the 2023 WSFS Business Meeting, a constitutional amendment was passed that would (if ratified at the 2024 Business Meeting) add two new categories to the already long list of Hugo Awards: Best Independent Short Film and Best Independent Feature Film.

The beauty and diversity of global cinema and of independent film is something that should be more celebrated at the Hugo Awards. But despite our love of independent SFF cinema, we are firmly opposed to the creation of a secondary award for a specific type of movie.

… In recent years, sub-par corporate works such as The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and Avengers Endgame have received Hugo nods ahead of significantly better independent and foreign movies such as Robot & Frank and Prospect. That does point to problems with the category. But the solution is advocacy. People who care about independent cinema should be working to encourage Hugo voters to check out a wider variety of films, and then giving them the time to watch those movies by WSFS extension of eligibility under rule 3.4.3.

Over the past four years, we have filed extension of eligibility motions (allowing a longer time for Hugo voters to consider nominating) on lower-budget SFF movies like After YangStrawberry MansionNeptune FrostMad GodNine DaysBeyond The Infinite Two MinutesPsycho GoremanThe Color Out Of Space, and Prospect. We are passionate about celebrating and promoting independent SFF movies. However, we do not think that the best way to recognize that is with the creation of new Hugo Award categories, seemingly based on how much money a film makes.

There are a number of problems with the idea of a Hugo Award for independent cinema. The first and most significant to us is that creating these categories positions independent cinema as something other than “real” movies…

(4) CHENGDU WORLDCON ROUNDUP. [Item by Ersatz Culture.]

Southern Weekly article

This is a long piece – which can also be found in truncated form here, and partially behind a login barrier here – covering a number of aspects of the convention.  There are some factual errors – for example, stating that the first Worldcon took place in Chicago – but overall it is the most thorough coverage of the con that I’ve seen from a media outlet.

Following are several extracts, via Google Translate with manual edits to the text for style and grammar.  I have reordered and grouped chunks of the text, in order to put related material together.  Note: 南方周末 literally translates as “Southern Weekend”, but images on that page show that they use the English name “Southern Weekly”, so I’ve tried to update all references from the former to the latter.

On the location and date of the con:

The Chengdu Science Fiction Museum, the main venue of the 81st World Science Fiction Convention, is located in the center of a two-kilometer radius area called “Science Fiction Avenue”. When Chengdu’s bid to host the event was successful two years ago, it was still a wilderness. This plot of land in Pidu District, Chengdu, which was originally planned as a “Science and Technology Museum”, was quickly upgraded to become a “Science Fiction Museum”…

It’s already chilly in Chengdu in late October, and the summer vacation period for students is long past. When Chengdu applied to host the World Science Fiction Convention in 2021, many student science fiction fans spent money – around 600 yuan [$80 USD] – to register as members of DisCon III, in order to vote for Chengdu [in site selection], with the expectation that they would attend the science fiction event during their summer vacation…

Co-chair Chen Shi comments:

[Note: He also uses the English name Raistlin Chen – as seen on the video wall at the ceremonies – but most English language material, such as the staff page on the con’s site, uses Chen Shi, so I’ve kept with that.

Pretty much all coverage of the con describes him – and the other members of the concom – as members of the “Chengdu Science Fiction Society” (examples: 12), but an archived copy of the original “Worldcon in China” website shows that he is/was a marketing director at the Chengdu Business Daily news organization, and that several other members of the bid/con team are/were also employees of that company.  Whether people will feel that this context is relevant, YMMV…]

“Its charm is that it is a spirit based on a community of creators. Everyone is both a participant and a creator. This is something given to it by cultural tradition and cannot be replaced or copied casually,” convention co-chair Chen Shi told Southern Weekly reporters…

Chen Shi had also applied for a panel at Chi-Con 8. “I just filled in a form, and the organizing committee told me when and where it would take place. You can just do it yourself, and they won’t bother you,” Chen Shi said.  “Given China’s cultural background, this may not be suitable.”

“The foreign World Science Fiction Convention is very attractive to the fantasy fandom, but within the fandom, their core membership is around 20,000 people. The number of people who come every year does not change much, and it has formed its own community culture. There is a cultural threshold you have to pass in order to enter that community. If we were to completely copy that, it might be very miserable…” When Chen Shi first thought about what kind of World Science Fiction Convention he would hold, he had already decided to take a different path.

[Question: when Chen Shi and/or the Chengdu team were doing presentations at other events, was there any indication that “he had already decided to take a different path”, or what that path might be?]

On the exhibition areas and panels:

The two large halls on the first floor are the divided into the commercial exhibitors, and the science fiction fan tables. Most of the dozens of booths in the corporate exhibition hall are Chinese companies. Some sell science fiction cultural creations, some make projections, and more are engaged in science fiction publishing. The sound and light effects of their booths are eye-catching, which clearly differs from the adjacent fan exhibition area. The corporate exhibition hall is something that has never been seen in previous Worldcons. The support of the government, the participation of enterprises, and the brand promotion of a large number of sponsors have given the event more forms and commercial value.

Compared with the coolness of the corporate exhibition area, the science fiction fan exhibition area looks much simpler.  A table, a flag, an introduction card or a QR code. They come from university clubs, foreign science fiction organizations, and unknown amateur authors… It’s a bit like a recruitment fair for university clubs. On the table of the Tibetan science fiction club, there are Tibetan science fiction works that have been published over the years. A young Tibetan man patiently introduces the history of Tibetan science fiction to curious onlookers. This kind of atmosphere is more like the previous World Science Fiction Conventions. Science fiction literature research scholar Arthur Liu attended the 2019 Dublin Worldcon, and recalls that the atmosphere there was “free and easy”…

There were more than 400 panels registered for the Chengdu World Science Fiction Convention, and more than 230 panels were eventually held…  This time, the Chengdu Organizing Committee invited a total of more than 600 guests, including more than 180 overseas guests – of whom more than 150 people were present at the con – who formed the bulk of the panellists.

On the WSFS Business Meeting:

But old science fiction fans all know that “only by attending business meetings can you have a deep understanding of the organization and participation methods of the World Science Fiction Association and the World Science Fiction Convention, and you will feel some interesting things,” Chen Shi said.

If you have personally experienced the process and debate of the business meeting, it is not difficult to understand why the fandom circle calls this meeting the “Constitutional Amendment Conference.” The business meetings of the Chengdu Worldcon are held in the Meteor Hall of the Science Fiction Hall, which is a small hall independent of the main building. People with [a WSFS] membership can enter to listen, express opinions and vote at any time. …

Comment: regarding “a small hall independent of the main building”, comments I have seen from a couple of different people indicated that it had inaccessibility issues not that far from “Beware of the Leopard” levels.  Certainly, I could never find any reference to the “Meteor Hall” on any of the several interior and exterior maps of the con that came into my possession.  (Anyone who did attend the Business Meetings, please correct me if my impression is incorrect.)

On organizational hassles for smaller entities:

It is not easy for publishers participating in the exhibition to sign and sell their books at this venue.

Xixi (pseudonym) is an editor at a publishing house. This time he brought an author’s science fiction novel to Chengdu and planned a panel. He hoped that science fiction fans could have a good chat with the author themselves, and hold a book signing.  Xixi initially communicated the entire process to the organizing committee, but a few days before the opening, he received a notice that the panel could not be placed together with the signing session. “In normal book fairs, there are book signings after the interaction between authors and readers, but here the two events must be separated in both time and location,” Xixi said. This means that readers who are interested in the author would have to make two trips to get a signed copy.

On the corporate/commercial aspects of the con:

There are various panels, forums, and summits at the World Science Fiction Convention, but in addition to the opening and closing ceremonies and the Hugo Award presentation night, there was also an “Industrial Development Summit”. Almost all the major guests were invited to attend this summit, and the lineup was comparable to the Hugo Awards night.

This was the first time an industry development-related conference has been held at the World Science Fiction Convention. At the meeting, a number of plans related to the development of the science fiction industry were announced, including the “Chengdu Consensus on the Science Fiction Industry”, the Tianwen Program, the “2023 China Chengdu Science Fiction Industry Report”, and there was even a centralized signing ceremony for science fiction industry projects. According to reports, there were 21 signed projects, with a total investment of 8 billion yuan [approx $1 billion USD].

At this “Industrial Development Summit”, Liu Cixin no longer talked about literature, but talked about industrial development: “Chengdu has long planned the layout of the science fiction industry, and related industrial plans, industrial policies, talent policies, etc. have been implemented.”

“Science fiction full industry chain ecosystem”, “IP creation” and “strengthening the image of the science fiction city”: faced with these various new words, Canadian science fiction writer Robert Sawyer said, “I am very shocked to see you turning science fiction into an industry.”  He said that in North America those who do these things may be publishers, and that science fiction is a career that is random, aimless, and without long-term planning. These industry figures were generally not invited to previous World Science Fiction Conventions, and most of the people who came were writers and editors.

The area where the Chengdu Science Fiction Museum is located will also be turned into the science fiction hub of Chengdu.  According to a person close to the local government, we were told that a science fiction industrial park may be built here in the future. “That street is a science fiction themed block, and science fiction companies may move in in the future. This area is said to be a science fiction education base; there will be training camps for science fiction writers, and summer camps for students every year, and the science fiction museum itself is a large-scale consumer and public welfare space. This area will be built into a science fiction themed tourist destination.” …

On how the more traditional aspects of Worldcons fared:

Previous conventions would set up a memorial area, which is a place for middle-aged and elderly science fiction fans to reminisce and reminisce about the past.  In 2017, the British science fiction writer Brian Aldiss [who had previously visited Chengdu, and has several works published in China] passed away. There was a small space at the World Science Fiction Convention that year, displaying his works, and photos from his life, as well as some of his treasure possessions, and a black and white TV playing back interviews with him. In 2023, Aldiss’ daughter Wendy had also come to Chengdu. She told our reporters that the Chengdu Worldcon was originally going to hold an exhibition for those photos, but it was not possible “because of a lack of space.” …

[Double Hugo finalist, CEO of the publisher 8 Light Minutes, and member of the Chengdu concom] Yang Feng originally planned to stage a commemorative exhibition at the convention, in honour of Mike Resnick, the former editor-in-chief of the American science fiction magazine “Galaxy’s Edge”.  After Resnick’s death in 2020, his collection and books were put up for online auction, and 8 Light Minutes bought a large number of items. “Look, this is full of his things,” said Yang Feng, pointing to a glass cabinet.  Initially, the organizers promised an exhibition area of 70 square meters. Worried about missing out, “thousands of yuan [was spent] on freight shipping” the collected items.  However, the exhibition area ended up being occupied by several technology companies, and Yang Feng was only given a glass cabinet.

Fans and authors talk about the changes and clashes in culture at this Worldcon:

In the midst of this sea of noise, a man was dozing on a chair. He had white hair, a cowboy hat on the table, and his eyes were lowered, as if he had entered another world. His name was James Joseph [Styles], and he had come from Australia. He is in his seventies and has been a science fiction fan for nearly fifty years. In 1975, the World Science Fiction Convention was held in Oceania for the first time. He was moved by the atmosphere of science fiction and has attended Worldcons 15 times to date.

James told us that this convention is the most special one he has ever been to. He had never seen so many enthusiastic and young science fiction fans [when he attended cons] in Europe or the United States before…

… Wang Jinkang, another science fiction writer who has stopped writing, also recalled the low ebb of Chinese science fiction in the 1990s. “At that time, Chinese science fiction was wild, and received little attention from society. However, there were also many science fiction fans. When we went to universities to participate in activities, they all I used chalk to write ‘Welcome Mr. Wang Jinkang’ on the blackboard, and that’s how we started to communicate. The simplicity back then had its charm, and I still miss it very much. It is indeed different now.”

“You can vaguely feel a conflict between [different] science fiction cultures in the convention venue,” Zero Gravity News co-editor Ling Shizhen told Southern Weekly reporters, “but I don’t think this is really a conflict. Whether things are harmful or meaningless, this is a necessary process.  If you want to embrace a truly diverse world, this step cannot be escaped.”

Outside of the above extracts, a number of people familiar to Filers, such as Ben Yalow, Kevin Standlee, Donald Eastlake, and Nicholas Whyte are namechecked or interviewed.

(5) HUNGARIAN POLITICAL EFFORTS TO LIMIT LGBTQ BOOKS AND MEDIA. The New York Times tells how “Restrictions on L.G.B.T.Q. Depictions Rattle Hungary’s Cultural World”.

When a far-right member of Hungary’s Parliament invited the media three years ago to watch her shred a book of fairy tales that included a gay Cinderella, only one reporter showed up.

But what began as lonely, crank campaign against “homosexual propaganda” by a fringe nationalist legislator, Dora Duro, has snowballed into a national movement led by the government to restrict depictions of gay and transgender people in Hungary.

The campaign has unsettled booksellers, who have been ordered to shrink-wrap works that “popularize homosexuality” to prevent young readers from browsing, and also rattled one of Hungary’s premier cultural institutions.

The director of the Hungarian National Museum was fired this past week for hosting an exhibition of news photographs, a few of which featured men in women’s clothing, and for suggesting that his staff had no legal right to check whether visitors were at least 18 years old.

The exhibition displayed scores of photos awarded prizes by the World Press Photo Foundation in Amsterdam and had been running for weeks before Ms. Duro went to take a look with a friend and noticed a handful of images showing older gay men in the Philippines that were shot on assignment for The New York Times.

Also upset by explanatory texts that she believed were “indoctrinating” young visitors, she wrote a letter to Hungary’s culture minister, Janos Csak, complaining that photos of men wearing high heels and lipstick violated a Hungarian law that bans the display to minors of content deemed to promote homosexuality or gender fluidity.

The minister ordered the museum to bar anyone under 18 from attending the exhibition.

Tamas Revesz, a Hungarian photographer who has organized the annual show for more than 30 years, said he was aghast to arrive at the museum to find signs at the entrance restricting entry to adults “as if this place were a porn shop.”…

… Hannah Reyes Morales, who took the photographs at the center of the museum furor while on assignment for The New York Times and won a World Press Photo award, said her pictures of a Manila community called Golden Gays “are not dangerous or harmful” but portrayed “warm, kind and loving human beings.”

She said she was “saddened that their story is being kept in a shadow, echoing much of the oppression that the Golden Gays have had to live through over the years.”…

(6) DON’T SAY GAY-LICK. [Item by Anne Marble.] Have you seen this article about the use and abuse of Scottish Gaelic in Fourth Wing? (The article also mentions Holly Black and Sarah J. Maas.) It’s an interesting point — language is more political than people realize. At the same time, with all those Gaelic fantasies out there, I also wonder how many other authors got it wrong and weren’t called out in it. Hmm… “Reader Frustrated Over ‘Fourth Wing’s Gaelic” at The Mary Sue.

Over the summer, Scottish BookToker Muireann went viral on Tiktok for sharing the Scottish Gaelic pronunciation of words from the bestselling adult fantasy novel Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros. While she offered mild criticism of the book’s grammatical errors, Muireann spoke out again following a viral interview of Yarros at New York Comic-Con….

…Story-wise, Muireann expressed praise and excitement to see where the series goes. However, regarding the use of Scottish Gaelic, she had mixed feelings. Without spoiling anything, Muireann gave translations and best guesses on non-Gaelic words that looked to be fused with Gaelic ones. It was here she found missing accent marks and misspellings. Also, she found words in the book that, in Gaelic, would be two or three words instead of one. Many commenters appreciated the information and pointed to how different the audiobook was from actual Gaelic.

Muireann said it was cool for the language to be represented in such a popular book. She feels that other Celtic languages like Irish/Gaeilge (what Scots call Irish Gaelic) are more common in contemporary fantasy. Still, she put the onus on the publisher for not hiring a language consultant. That grace dropped off when Muireann heard Yarros speaking about the book.

“It is genuinely laughable to me that American fantasy authors can get away with this. They can use minority languages in such a disrespectful way. They’re just pronouncing them like English speakers. She’s just sprinkling Gaelic words in there to add a bit of spice to her fancy book.”

Veronica Valencia interviewed Rebecca Yarros for Popverse at NYCC 2023, where she asked Yarros to “set the record straight” on pronouncing words. After Popverse shared a video of this to TikTok, Muireann stitched it frustrated. She began by pointing out that Yarros said Gaelic by pronouncing it “gay-lick” which is a different language than the Scottish Gaelic (“gal-lick”). Muireann said most Gaelic words used were mispronounced in the interview. These were small mistakes that showed a genuine lack of care when bringing other cultures into the book…

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 11, 1916 Donald Franson. Longtime fan who lived most of his life in LA. Was active in the N3F and LASFS including serving as the secretary for years and was a member of Neffer Amateur Press Alliance.  Author of A Key to the Terminology of Science-Fiction Fandom. Also wrote A History of the Hugo, Nebula, and International Fantasy Awards, Listing Nominees & Winners, 1951-1970 and An Author Index to Astounding/Analog: Part II—Vol. 36, #1, September, 1945 to Vol. 73 #3, May, 1964, the first with Howard DeVore. (Died 2002.)
  • Born November 11, 1917 Mack Reynolds. He’d make Birthday Honors just for his first novel, The Case of the Little Green Men, published in 1951, which as you likely know is a murder mystery set at a Con. He gets Serious Geek Credits for writing the first original authorized classic Trek novel Mission to Horatius. And I’ve enjoyed his short fiction as well. He’s available at the usual suspects including The Case of the Little Green Men for very reasonable prices. (Died 1983.)
  • Born November 11, 1922 Kurt Vonnegut Jr. The Sirens of Titan was his first SF novel followed by Cat’s Cradle which after turning down his original thesis in 1947, the University of Chicago awarded him his master’s degree in anthropology in 1971 for this novel. Next was Slaughterhouse-Five, or The Children’s Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death which is one weird book and an even stranger film. It was nominated for best novel Nebula and Hugo Awards but lost both to Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness. I’m fairly sure Breakfast of Champions, or Goodbye Blue Monday is his last genre novel there’s a lot of short fiction where something of a genre nature might have occurred. (Died 2007.)
  • Born November 11, 1946 Ian Miller, 77. Let’s have one illustrator and an editor this time.  He did the backgrounds for Ralph Bakshi’s Wizards film. Genre wise, he did the cover art and interior illustrations for David Day’s The Tolkien Bestiary, and what I think is one of the weirder covers for Something Wicked This Way Comes. Oh and I did say editor, didn’t I? Well he was. Between 1983 and 1985, he co-edited Interzone along with John Clute, Alan Dorey, Malcolm Edwards, Colin Greenland, Roz Kaveney, Simon Ounsley and David Pringle. 
  • Born November 11, 1947 Victoria Schochet, 76. Wife of Eric Van Lustbader. She co-edited with John Silbersack and Mellisa Singer the most excellent The Berkley Showcase: New Writings in Science Fiction and Fantasy that came out in the Eighties. She worked editorially at Analog as their managing editor and additionally at Harper, Putnam, and as a senior editor at the Berkley Publishing Group, where she co-edited with Silbersack all five volumes of The Berkley Showcase: New Writings in Science Fiction and Fantasy.
  • Born November 11, 1974 Felix Gilman, 49. Two series. The first, Arjun series, started off with the Thunderer novel and has one more novel so far, Gears of the City, earned him a nomination for Astounding Award in both 2009 and 2010. The other series, Half-Made World, is fantasy with a generous dollop of steampunk served warm.

(8) THE OTHER THREE-BODY ADAPTATION. “’3 Body Problem’ Premiere Date, New Trailer From Netflix”The Hollywood Reporter shares them all.

The new sci-fi drama from the creators of Game of Thrones now has a premiere date: 3 Body Problem will launch on Netflix on March 21, 2024. The streamer also released a video with some new footage from the series, which is adapted from Liu Cixin’s Hugo Award-winning trilogy….

…There’s also a new, more specific description of the anticipated show: “A young woman’s fateful decision in 1960s China reverberates across space and time into the present day. When the laws of nature inexplicably unravel before their eyes, a close-knit group of brilliant scientists join forces with an unflinching detective to confront the greatest threat in humanity’s history.”

3 Body Problem is from Emmy-winning Thrones showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss along with Emmy-nominated True Blood writer-producer Alexander Woo.

Netflix also released some teaser art to promote the premiere date, which rather cleverly incorporates an element from the story that the novel’s fans will recognize…

(9) NO ONE WAS LEFT HOLDING THE BAG. “Astronauts dropped a tool bag during a spacewalk, and you can see it” says Space.com.

Joining stars, planets, nebulas, and galaxies as a target for skywatchers is now a surprisingly bright tool bag floating through the space around Earth. The bag of tools gave NASA astronauts Jasmin Moghbeli and Loral O’Hara the slip on Nov. 2, 2023, as they were conducting a spacewalk outside of the International Space Station (ISS). 

The tool bag is now orbiting our planet just ahead of the ISS with a visual magnitude of around 6, according to EarthSky. That means it is slightly less bright than the ice giant Uranus, the seventh planet from the sun. As a result, the bag  —  officially known as a crew lock bag  —  is slightly too dim to be visible to the unaided eye, but skywatchers should be able to pick it up with binoculars.

To see it for yourself, first find out when you can find spot the space station over the next few months (NASA even has a new app to help you). The bag should be floating two to four minutes ahead of the station. As it descends rapidly, the bag is likely to disintegrate when it reaches an altitude of around 70 miles (113 kilometers) over Earth….

(10) GET A HEAD START ON SF2 CONCATENATION. [Item by Jonathan Cowie.] SF² Concatenation has published an advance post of an article ahead of its next seasonal edition as it is time sensitive. It is a longer version of the new British Library exhibition on Fantasy that File770 ran the other week. “British Library Fantasy Exhibition 2023”.

Also up is a short 1-page best of Nature ‘Futures’ short story: “’Aleph’ by Lavie Tidhar”. This story came out in 2022 before this year’s (2023) explosion in artificial intelligence (AI). But AI is not ‘General AI’. What would that first conversation be like?

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, Anne Marble, Brian Keene, Cliff, Andrew Porter, Ersatz Culture, John King Tarpinian and Chris Barkley for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 10/28/23 When You Saw Only One Set Of Pixels, It Was Then That I Scrolled You

(1) CHENGDU WORLDCON ROUNDUP. [Item by Ersatz Culture.]

Con reports: Arthur Liu (part 2)

Arthur’s con crud is subsiding, and he was able to post the second (of a projected four) part of his con report.  This one covers the setup ahead of the event.  Disclosure: I am also mentioned in this part.  Via Google Translate, with minor manual edits:

…in late September (around the 21st), the organizing committee terminated the sale of offline tickets without any notice. The financial problems of fan groups have already been mentioned in the previous article. Among them, members’ travel expenses and conference attendance expenses are equally expensive. Affected by this, as the situation at the booths has not progressed, members of the Tsinghua University Fantasy Association were still waiting and watching, planning to buy tickets after the situation settled down a bit. However, this unexpected situation caused almost all members who were expected to participate in the exhibition to be wiped out. After many inquiries, the volunteers said that there would be work permits, but the number could not guarantee that all people would be covered. This left the fan booth’s participation in the exhibition in a state of limbo until the end of the conference…

Man-made landscapes related to the science fiction conference are everywhere along the way. As I approached the venue, I saw the huge contrast in the street scenes in different areas of Pidu District (outside the main city, there are many open spaces and wastelands, new buildings and abandoned buildings), which also made me realize the importance of the science fiction conference. For the local government, the potential economic significance of hosting this conference is significant…

The security check area was crowded with people, and each gate had a large number of security guards. The inspection process was probably the most thorough in my life ever. Part of our luggage was examined, every page was taken out and checked. After delaying for a while, we arrived inside the venue.  The smell of air freshener was very strong and there was also a strong pungent smell…

After boarding the train, [con liaison] L said that a special car had been arranged to pick us up, but it was no longer needed. On the way, I learned from [con liaison] LY that when the pen club I applied for was handed over within the volunteers, the demand for personnel control (15 people) was not handed over. Now there was no guarantee that this demand would be met, but she promised to report it to the above… By this time, both of us were exhausted and had reached the limit of emotional management.

At 19:03, we finally arrived at Wyndham, and [con liaison] L met us in the lobby. Before checking in, we went to the check-in office to get our guest badges, and then we were told that the conference manual had not been produced yet, nor had the attendant badges. Historically, some science fiction fans will start from a certain point and feel that the entire community is not worthy and is no longer worth bothering with. This was probably that moment for me. In the guest room, I got very angry with [con liaison] L – actually it was not his own fault, so I apologized to him – and explained several requirements: the member’s ID, as well as the participation manual and traffic control map, the next day.  Given that the con was about to begin, the last two were necessities for participating in the con. They had to exist.

In the second image, the data visualization shown on the TV on the right can be found here (note; the UI is Chinese only).

Request for submissions to Zero Gravity

RiverFlow is requesting submissions for a future issue of the Hugo-winning Zero Gravity.

Dear friends, if you write about the memories of the Chengdu WorldCon, welcome to send me the English version and pictures. Chinese Fanzine Zero Gravity newspaper is organizing the Chengdu WorldCon story, we will organize human translation.

The email is: [email protected]

CCTV news report on the Worldcon

I doubt many will sit all the way through this untranslated 21 minute CCTV news item from Monday 23rd about the Worldcon, but I include it just in case.  Notable faces in the early part of the video include (in order of first appearance):

  • RiverFlow and Ling Shizhen
  • Ben Yalow
  • Cixin Liu
  • Enzhe Zhao
  • Hai Ya

Later on, from around 16:00, we also see:

  • Liang Xiaolan (Honorary Co-Chair of the con)
  • Dave McCarty

The core of the piece is a videolink interview with Best Novelette winner Hai Ya from around 04:00 to 12:45.

There’s then more a bit more reportage of the con – mostly the ceremonies – followed by coverage of the Galaxy Award ceremony that took place over in the Sheraton, before going back to the con.

From 16:30 there’s a telephone interview with (Hugo finalist, SF World editor, concom member) Yao Haijun, during which Nicholas Whyte pops up (again 😉 in footage at around 19:23, followed shortly thereafter by James Bryant.

Hai Ya responds to criticism of his work following his Hugo win

SF Light Year posted a brief Q&A with Hai Ya on Wednesday 25th, following the negative reaction in some quarters to his Hugo win, as covered in Tuesday’s Scroll.  Here’s an extract, via Google Translate:

My current mentality is very stable and I have a clear understanding of the award and myself. As for the work, I never thought it was very elegant or something that people expected of me. I could only present what I thought was a better state within the scope of my abilities. Let the readers judge. There will definitely be criticism and harshness. It is actually difficult to define how much of this is objective, but popular novels must accept this unfair scrutiny, and I have the consciousness to accept it.

Compared with the position of a writer, I prefer to define myself as a science fiction fan. I agree with some of your ideas. The science fiction circle should be more diverse. The increase in science fiction fan activities and comments is a sign that the ecosystem is getting healthier

A couple of days later, on Thursday 26th, Hai Ya made a brief statement on Weibo.  Via Google Translate (which seems to be slightly more readable than the Alibaba Cloud rendition available within Weibo, but still far from flawless):

After nearly a week of busy work, things are gradually sorting out, thank God. What I want to express has basically been made clear. I am personally neither qualified nor interested in doing too much value output. Writing science fiction has always been a very personal matter for me, and I have become more and more cautious about various activities and invitations, leaving them to the editor. Happily, despite all the criticism, there were few personal attacks. Friends who care about me, please rest assured. As the saying goes, if you want to wear a crown, you must bear its weight. What I got is not a crown, and the pressure I receive is not that great. Currently I’m in good condition.

There’s at least one hater in the comments.

Weibo SF promo image

(Via SF Light Year)  The Weibo app had a splash page at launch promoting “The New Power of Science Fiction”, showing the avatars of the three Chinese Hugo winners, and namechecking the Hugos and Hai Ya’s Best Novelette win.  A further post shows the page shown if you clicked on the button, you would get a list of notable SF people’s accounts, including previous Hugo winner Hao Jingfang, and some of this year’s finalists Bo Jiang, Regina Kanyu Wang, Lu Ban and Yao Haijun.

Linking to the same list, RiverFlow reported that his number of followers had jumped from around 1,100 to 38 thousand.

Bits and pieces from Xiaohongshu

The following are a handful of posts that I’d never gotten round to submitting before now.

(2) A SNAPSHOT FROM WFC. Greg Ketter of DreamHaven Books and Comics feels disrespected. For good reason.

(3) AGGRESSIVE FAKES. Victoria Strauss exposes the “Imposter Syndrome: The Rise of Impersonation Scams” at Writer Unboxed.

…When I first started discovering these AS knockoffs (here’s my first blog post about them), they were mostly just selling Author Solutions-style publishing and marketing packages–although exponentially more overpriced and deceptively advertised than the original, with terrible customer service and the books and other products far more likely to be of poor quality (and that’s when they didn’t just take the money and run).

In recent years, though, their numbers have exploded—there are hundreds of AS knockoffs in operation now, and more cropping up all the time—creating fierce competition for customers in an increasingly crowded field. This has driven them to adopt ever more brazen practices to support their quest for writers’ cash: forging documents and contracts from Big 5 publishers, selling completely fictional products such as “book insurance”, engaging in elaborate front operations involving multiple fake businesses, and impersonating reputable literary agents, publishers, and movie companies.

Impersonation scams especially have become common over the past couple of years, and they can be quite convincing. In this post, you’ll find examples of the three types of impersonation scam you’re most likely to encounter, along with a look at the telltale signs that can identify them….

(4) INTERVIEW WITH CHANDLER DAVIS BIOGRAPHER. [Item by Olav Rokne.] I’m really hoping this book gets some serious consideration for the Best Related Hugo. Very well written, thoroughly researched. Doesn’t focus very much on the science fiction career of Chandler Davis, but he’s still a figure from the genre’s past, and it’s an interesting and relevant read. 

Got to interview the author Steve Batterson: “The Un-American Treatment of a Leftist Science Fiction Fan” at the Hugo Book Club Blog.

… The book starts off with a fairly straightforward biography of Davis’ early life. His childhood as the son of leftist academics who were members of the Communist Party, his education at Harvard and involvement with science fiction fandom, his military service and his marriage to Natalie Zemon-Davis. All of this is in service of the focus of the book: Davis’ brief stint at the University of Michigan, his firing, and the six-year legal saga that led to his imprisonment.

“It was incredibly courageous what Chandler did,” Batterson explains. “He was 27 or 28 years old when this all started. He had a wife and one child at the time – with another on the way. His wife was a graduate student, and it wasn’t clear at the time that she would go on to become one of the greatest historians of her generation.”

During the period after his firing, the Davis family faced economic hard times. When friends and colleagues took up a donation for them, the FBI ended up with a list of who donated; sadly it appears few in the science fiction community stood by their former compatriot.

“There’s not a lot of mention of science fiction or fandom in the FBI documents,” Batterson notes. “The FBI didn’t consider that to be disreputable.”

After he was released from serving his six-month prison sentence in 1960, the family emigrated to Canada where both Davis and his wife became professors at the University of Toronto. He rejoined fandom there, and published a handful of later stories. In 1989, he was one of the guests at the 47th Worldcon held in Boston. Both he and his wife had distinguished academic careers….

(5) FOR EXPOSURE. Jane L. Rosen reports on “A Night of Reading, Cover to Uncover” to the New York Times. “The author of ‘On Fire Island’ wasn’t sure what to expect when she was invited to appear at a ‘Books & Burlesque’ event. Here’s her unblushing report.”

Early in the summer, an unusual email popped up in my inbox. Sandwiched between a podcast request and an offer to speak at a South Florida chapter of Hadassah was an invitation to read an excerpt from my latest novel, “On Fire Island,” at a “Books & Burlesque” evening on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. The event, as the show’s producers Fortune Cookie and Rosie Tulips explained, would feature five writers reading, each paired with a burlesque or drag artist creating an act inspired by the author’s work.

It took me a minute. Funny? Outrageous? Ill-advised? Possibly, but most of all, an intriguing change from the usual folding-chair-strewn book talk or stodgy Q. and A session. Even though the closest I’d ever gotten to burlesque was a brief stint as a young Gypsy Rose Lee at Camp Lokanda in the late ’70s, I nervously accepted….

(6) IF YOU THOUGHT GETTING MARRIED WAS SCARY BEFORE… The New York Times tells about couples “Vowing Till Death Do Us Part at the Hotel That Inspired ‘The Shining’”.

Couples who get married in October at the Stanley Hotel, situated at the doorstep of the Rocky Mountains in Estes Park, Colo., sometimes have a hard time getting their guests to R.S.V.P.

Lauren Nichols and Jeffrey Sheffler, who will marry there Oct. 28, couldn’t convince a dozen of their out-of-town guests to stay on the premises of the hotel that inspired Stephen King to write “The Shining,” his novel turned film, after staying there in 1974. And Melanie Pingel, who married Kyle Johnson there Oct. 13, was compelled to reserve a quiet space on a separate floor for guests who needed a moment away from the ghostly festivities. “My mom called it the place where the old ladies get to go have a break from it all,” she said.

These and other concessions — Jennie Wilson, a 2017 Stanley bride, was told by a guest “straight up that she wouldn’t come” — are perhaps a necessary trade-off for couples who want to exchange vows at what many call “The Shining” hotel….

Only a handful of couples who plan well in advance are greenlit for their October celebrations, said John Cullen, the Stanley’s owner. Those who do snag a spot between Oct. 1 and Halloween, the hotel’s busiest season, tend to share a common aesthetic: bridal fangs and cakes with Frankenstein-like surgical stitching can be part of it. Flower girls dressed as the sinister, not-quite-living Grady twins from the 1980 horror classic, or table décor that includes jars of pig hearts preserved in formaldehyde, can also be used.

The spookiness of the place is the allure for many couples, said Shayna Papke, a popular local planner for Halloween season weddings at the Stanley. “A wedding is the ultimate expression of who you are, and there are just people in the world who, this is who they are,” she said. “They’re the outliers who like dark music and dark stories. They’re fascinated by the death part of life.”

Many who fit that description flock to the Stanley for a ghost tour led by the hotel’s staff or to participate in a séance (More than 100,000 people visit per year; October is busy also because elk walk the streets and it’s “a really nice time to be in Estes Park,” Mr. Cullen said.) Still others consider it the ultimate location for committing to each other….

(7) RICHARD MOLL (1943-2023) [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Though possibly best known for his role as Bull the bailiff in the original run of Night Court, Richard Moll did an amazing amount of genre work over a long career. This includes a lot of voice work in animation and video games (see dozens of credits at IMDb.) One of his notable later appearances was in the 2010 live-action film Scooby-Doo: Curse of the Lake Monster in which he played the mysterious lighthouse keeper Elmer Uggins. Full profile: “Richard Moll, Bull the Bailiff on ‘Night Court,’ Dies at 80” in The Hollywood Reporter.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 28, 1944 Ian Don Marter. He was known for his role as Harry Sullivan on Doctor Who. As this is a Birthday listing of writers of authors, you might ask why he’s here. That’s because he’s one of the few Who actors authorized to write fiction in that universe in that time. As a result, he wrote nine novels before he died of a diabetic heart attack. He co-wrote in collaboration with Baker and director James Hill a script for a film provisionally titled Doctor Who Meets Scratchman (also known as Doctor Who and the Big Game). However due to a lack of funding as no one was interested in underwriting it , the project was ultimately abandoned. Bake and Hill novelized this script and there’s a Big Finish version as well. (Died 1986.)
  • Born October 28, 1951 Joe Lansdale, 72. Writer and screenwriter whose animated DCU Jonah Hex is far superior to the live action Hex film. Bubba Ho-Tep, an American comedy horror film starring Bruce Campbell, is his best-known genre work though he has done a number of another works including The God of The Razor and Reverend Jedidiah Mercer series which are definitely Weird Westerns. 
  • Born October 28, 1951 William H. Patterson, Jr.. Author of Robert A. Heinlein: In Dialogue with His Century, a two-volume look at Heinlein which arguably is the best biography ever done on him. He also did The Martian Named Smith: Critical Perspectives on Robert A. Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land. This “Tribute to Bill Patterson” by Mike with comments by Filers is touching indeed.  (Died 2014.)
  • Born October 28, 1957 Catherine Fisher, 66. Welsh poet and children’s novelist who writes in English. I’d suggest The Book of The Crow series of which Corbenic won the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature. Her Incarceron and Sapphique also earned a Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature nomination. 
  • Born October 28, 1958 Kristin Landon. Author of the uncompleted space opera Hidden Worlds (The Hidden WorldsThe Cold Minds and The Dark Reaches) and a one-off, Windhome, a first contact story. (Died 2019.)
  • Born October 28, 1958 Amy Thomson, 65. Writer of four novels, including Virtual Girl. She won the Astounding Award for Best New Writer and was nominated for the Campbell Memorial, Endeavour, Philip Dick and Prometheus Awards. Very impressive indeed. Her short fiction “The Ransom of Princess Starshine” appeared in 2017 in Stupefying Stories, edited by Bruce Bethke. 

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • The Argyle Sweater shows a monster who you don’t ordinarily think of as moving that fast.
  • Thatababy introduces us to Konbanwa in a strip devoted to cinema history.
  • Jess Bradley says this is what the Singularity will really be like.
  • Finding Dee shows us true horror.

(10) SHOT ON LOCATION IN HALLOWEEN TOWN. “‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’: A Hit That Initially Unnerved Disney” – Tim Burton and director Henry Selick look back 30 years at the making of a cult favorite.  

…Over the course of its original run, “Nightmare” grossed $50 million at the domestic box office. And while that number is by no means dismal, it’s a far cry from Disney animated hits like “Aladdin,” which just a year earlier brought in $217 million from U.S. screens alone.

At the time, Disney couldn’t figure out how to market the operatic saga of Jack, a lanky, sharply dressed skeleton, infatuated with bringing the wonder of Christmas to his monstrous friends in uncanny Halloween Town.

Selick initially worried that the number of songs Danny Elfman had composed for the movie, a total of 10 tracks for the brisk 76-minute run time, would alienate viewers. In retrospect, he said, the memorable tunes were crucial to the film’s eventual success, once audiences connected with its unconventional rules of storytelling and design.

These days Selick can’t go a week without running into a fan wearing a sweater, hat or other apparel emblazoned with “Nightmare” imagery.

“This year there’s a 13-foot-tall Jack Skellington you can buy at Home Depot, and people have them on their lawns,” Selick said. “I like that because it’s pretty bizarre and extreme. That’s not just a T-shirt, that’s a real commitment.”

For Burton, the character of Jack Skellington embodies a preoccupation common in his work over the years: the terrifying notion of being misunderstood. “The conception of it was based on those feelings growing up of people perceiving you as something dark or weird when actually you’re not,” he recalled.

Selick compared the skeletal antihero’s amusingly manic behavior to Mr. Toad from the animated classic “The Wind in the Willows,” one of his favorite Disney protagonists. “I’ve always been drawn to characters like Jack Skellington,” Selick said. “He gets carried away with something new and goes way overboard with his enthusiasm.”…

(11) HERZOG Q&A. While promoting his memoir Every Man for Himself and God Against All, Werner Herzog tells the Guardian: “’I am not that much in pursuit of happiness’: Werner Herzog on beer, yoga and what he would ask God”.

…So, this new book he’s just written about the Austrian musician-cum-dairy-farmer combines two of Herzog’s passions then? “Neither is milking cows a great love of mine nor is rocking so…” he replies with an amused smirk. “But I understand. I catch your drift.”

Herzog is probably best known for his documentary films, which include 2005’s Grizzly Man, the tale of bear enthusiast Timothy Treadwell in Alaska, and Cave of Forgotten Dreams, made in 3D in 2010 from footage shot inside the prehistoric Chauvet Cave in southern France. Increasingly, though, Herzog devotes his creative energies to writing. In 2021, he published his first novel, The Twilight World, based on the Japanese army lieutenant Hiroo Onoda, who refused to believe the second world war was over and only emerged from the jungle and surrendered in 1974.

“I’ve been a writer from the very beginning,” he says. “And it’s important to say one thing because people are puzzled: films are my voyage, and writing is home. And since 40 years, I keep preaching to deaf ears that my writing will arguably outlive my films, all of them.”

Certainly, Every Man for Himself and God Against All is a joyous, fulfilling read….

(12) BRADBURY HISTORY. Phil Nichols’ new Bradbury 100 podcast episode covers “Chronological Bradbury, 1940”.

…Ray published nine stories in 1940, nearly all of them in fanzines (and one of them in a semi-prozine). Here’s a list, with links to online versions of the stories, where they exist….

(13) ORSON WELLES PROFILE. Steve Vertlieb invites you to read his post “Vertlieb’s Views: Xanadu: A Castle in the Clouds: The Life of Orson Welles” at The Thunder Child.

Celebrating the genius of this extraordinary artist with my published look at the turbulent life and career of Orson Welles, the fabulous, visionary film maker whose personal demons sadly overshadowed his staggering talent, and finally, tragically destroyed him.

Yet, in spite of his personal failings or, perhaps, because of them, Welles rose to become one of the most remarkable film makers of his, or any other generation.

From his groundbreaking first feature length motion picture Citizen Kane, regarded by many still as the greatest single film in motion picture history, to Touch Of Evil, his remarkable “Cinema Noir” tale of a squandered life and legacy corrupted by bribery and temptation, Welles remains one of the most extraordinary directors in the history of film.

His is a story of unwitting sabotaged achievement and haunting, incomparable genius.

Here, then, is “Xanadu: A Castle In Clouds … The Life of Orson Welles.”

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Ersatz Culture, Mlex, Olav Rokne, Kathy Sullivan, Lise Andreasen, Steve Vertlieb, Steve French, John King Tarpinian, and Chris Barkley for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Matthew Johnson.]

Pixel Scroll 7/14/23 Knock, Knock! Who’s There? Cthul.

(1) BUTLER’S NEW YORK PREMIERE. The New York Times interviews Toshi Reagon, co-creator of an opera based on Parable of the Sower. “Apocalypse Nowish: Singing the Prophetic Warnings of Octavia Butler”.

… It was the novel’s urgency, and the need to share it [Parable of the Sower] with as many people as possible, that prompted the composer and performer Toshi Reagon and her mother, Bernice Johnson Reagon, a founding member of the a cappella group Sweet Honey in the Rock, to adapt it into an opera — or what Toshi calls a “congregational opera.” “Parable of the Sower,” which has its New York premiere on Thursday at David Geffen Hall as part of Lincoln Center’s Summer for the City, includes a chorus made up of at least 170 community members from New York City’s five boroughs, making it the biggest production at Geffen Hall since its reopening in the fall.

Still, Toshi Reagon kept the music alive. When she and her band, BigLovely, performed at Reagon’s annual birthday concert series at Joe’s Pub in 2014, she closed her set with a few “Parable” songs. That’s where Shanta Thake, then the director of Joe’s Pub at the Public Theater, first heard them. Thake, who is now the chief artistic officer of Lincoln Center, recalled being “floored by the actual songs,” which ranged from folk to Black spirituals to protest music, and by their ability to teach “the power of participation in the work and in the world.”

She invited Reagon back the next year to present more of the opera as a work-in-progress at the Public’s Under the Radar Festival. And she committed herself to its further development, a pledge she kept in her new role at Lincoln Center and through the work’s many iterations as a concert, a gathering and now an opera.

Reagon has toured the world, spreading Butler’s ominous message through the opera and other platforms. In June 2020, she started hosting, with the writer Adrienne Maree Brown, “Octavia’s Parables,” a podcast in which they discuss Butler’s novels, one chapter at a time. And Reagon also created “Parable Path,” a series of community-based initiatives inspired by the opera…

Why an opera?

Neither one of us really writes dialogue, but we tell everything in a song. I remember my mom doing shows at DC Black Repertory Theater Company in Washington. I was a 9-year-old theater kid. And all of her songs were like opera. She called them song talks, and when she retired from Sweet Honey, she did a solo kind of song talking, and I would go and watch her work and they were really beautiful. So, I think that’s one of the reasons.

The other part is I like breaking up with things. I don’t know why they structured Western opera the way they did, but it makes sense to us that a story about journeying is a story about a lot of different voices operating together and finding their way to be a unit. We really simplified our story to Lauren’s last day [in her home near Los Angeles].

How did the community choir come about?

Last summer, we asked people: “You want to sing with Toshi? Sign up, and make your Lincoln Center debut.” It’s an all-volunteer choir. I had a series of Zooms so I could actively meet people. And these people are everything. There’s a dean of a college. There was a woman from Berlin who is working on translating Black books into these languages she knows how to speak. It was people coming back to New York and needing a reason to come back. There’s a cello player who was also a trucker.

We call it a “congregational choir” because if you had to build a congregation, you could do it out of these people. And nobody is getting paid money to come and sing, so the currency is different….

NPR also has a post about it: “Octavia Butler wrote a ‘Parable’ that became a prophecy — now it’s also an opera”.

(2) WATERSTONE’S DEBUT PRIZE. [Item by Steven French.] Some genre interest here with Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah’s dystopian novel Chain-Gang All-Stars on the shortlist: “Waterstones debut fiction prize 2023 shortlist announced” in the Guardian.

The prize, now in its second year, is voted for by Waterstones booksellers and open to all debut fiction published in the UK.

Though the prize is open to any debut novel written or translated into English, New York-based Adjei-Brenyah is the only writer on the 2023 shortlist who does not live in the UK or Ireland. Chain-Gang All-Stars, his first novel following a New York Times-bestselling collection of short stories, Friday Black, is set in an imagined near-future in which “gladiator” prisoners fight against one another for their freedom. Speaking about the novel in a Guardian interview, the author said America’s penal system was “a kind of poison that affects us, even if we’re not impacted directly. I wanted to speak to that.” LJ, a bookseller at Waterstones Haywards Heath, said of Chain-Gang All-Stars:“[It] made me feel every single emotion.”

…This year’s winner will be announced on 24 August. 

(3) CAFFIENDS. “Six Shots of Espresso” is a Good Omens Season 2 sneak peek.

Crowley and Aziraphale visit the neighborhood coffee shop, Give Me Coffee or Give Me Death, where we meet Nina, the owner. While Crowley orders his caffeine fix, Aziraphale finds that he’s the subject of some salacious gossip.

(4) A SECOND OPINION. George Scithers was the founding editor of Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine (1977-82) where he notably encouraged young writers. However, in later years working on Weird Tales he seems to have taken a much different approach. Cat Rambo tells about her bizarre experience trying to submit to that magazine on TikTok.

@catrambo145

I promise I will get back to the anthology and collection read, but in the meantime, here is a story about being a newbie writer back in the day when I had just gotten out of Clarion West. It involves George Scithers of Weird Tales #editors #weirdtales

? original sound – Cat Rambo

(5) OUT OF THE STARTING GATE. Camestros Felapton starts his review of the Hugo contenders: “Hugo 2023: Best Dramatic Presentation Long Form”.

You’ve got to start somewhere and as an avowedly lazy person, BDP:Long is a handy place to start. I’ve (sort of) watched them all and also none of the finalists really care very much, so I’m not ruining anybody’s happy time basking in the glow of Hugo recognition….

Despite the introduction it’s a pretty interesting review. Is Camestros related to Heinlein’s “The Man Who Was Too Lazy to Fail”? 

(6) SIMULTANEOUS TIMES ARCHIVE. Space Cowboy Books has compiled and released all 36 issues of the fanzine Simultaneous Times Newsletter (2020-2023), featuring interviews with SF authors, editors, and publishers, as well as speculative poetry, book recommendations, and more. Download them free here.

Simultaneous Times Newsletter Year One:

Cover Art by Austin Arthur Hart

Interviews with: Mari Collier, David Farland, Christopher Ruocchio, Sarah Waites (Queer Science Fiction & Fantasy Database), Brent A. Harris, Rob Carroll (Dark Matter Magazine), Jason Sizemore (Apex Magazine), Weston Ochse, Marie Vibbert, JW Stebner (Hexagon Magazine)

Poetry and writing by: Holly Lyn Walrath, Samuel Butler, Therese Windser, Robin Rose Graves, Jean-Paul L. Garnier, Kim Martin, Thelma D. Hamm

Simultaneous Times Newsletter Year Two:

Cover Art by Zara Kand

Interviews with: Tom Purdom, A.C. Wise, Cora Buhlert, Charlie Jane Anders, Sean Clancy (Planet Scumm Magazine), Holly Lyn Walrath (Intersteller Flight Press), Christina Sng, Chris Kelso, Akua Lezli Hope, David Schultz (Speculative North Magazine), Jeanne Cavelos (Odyssey Workshop), Kay Allen (Sword & Kettle Press)

Poetry and writing by: James Clerk Maxwell, Gareth L. Powell, David Brin, F.J. Bergmann, Arley Sorg, Gabriel Hart, Marie Vibbert, Richard Magahiz

Simultaneous Times Newsletter Year Three:

Cover Art by Austin Arthur Hart

Interviews with: Guy Hasson (Geekdom Empowers), Rachel S. Cordasco (SF in Translation), Andy Dibble, Tristan Evarts (Utopia Magazine), Dr. Phoenix Alexander, Justin Sloane (Starship Sloane), Jonathan Nevair, Adrian M. Gibson (SFF Addicts), Michael Butterworth, Todd Sullivan

Poetry and writing by: Renan Bernardo, Jana Bianchi, Rodrigo Assis Mesquita, Pedro Iniguez, Mary Soon Lee, Robin Rose Graves

And more!

(7) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman tells listeners it’s time for a ramen reunion with my 1979 Clarion classmate Rhondi Salsitz in Episode 202 of the Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Rhondi Salsitz

My guest this episode — my penultimate conversation while in California for this year’s Nebula Awards Conference — is Rhondi Salsitz, whom I met when I attended the Clarion Science Fiction Writing Workshop in 1979. This is the second time you’re getting the chance to eavesdrop as I chat with someone I met during that long ago summer, the first being Gene O’Neill way back in Episode 12.

You might have read Rhondi’s work without realizing it — because she’s also appeared under the names Charles Ingrid, Kendall Rivers, Sara Hanover, Emily Drake, Anne Knight, Elizabeth Forrest, Jenna Rhodes, Rhondi Greening, R.A.V. Salsitz, and Rhondi Vilott — and those are just a few of the pseudonyms under which she’s published over the past four decades.

 Rhondi’s first publication was actually one of the stories written while at Clarion, and was chosen by our teacher, Damon Knight, for publication in Orbit 21. (And believe me — we were envious! And some of us were even jealous.)

Since that time, she’s written so many books under so any names — not only science fiction, fantasy, and horror, but also romances, westerns, and choose your own adventure books — her prolific career has unfairly been overlooked, and I’m so glad I was able to get her to step out from behind the mask so you can learn more about her. Her series — include The Sand Wars (written as Charles Ingrid), Elven Ways (as Jenna Rhodes), Dragon Tales (as Rhondi Vilott), and many others.

We discussed her early missed opportunity to workshop with Octavia Butler, the terrible thing Tom Disch told her during their one-on-one meeting during Clarion, the animated series which inspired her to write her bestselling Sand Wars series of novels, why she feels she’s still standing when so many of our Clarion comrades aren’t, what caused a reader to write an angry letter to Dean Koontz about one of her novels, how she progressed from recognizing there was a problem but not knowing how to fix it to understanding what needed to be done, and so much more.

(8) DANIEL GOLDBERG (1949-2023). Producer Daniel Goldberg died July 12 at the age of 74 reports Deadline.

Daniel Goldberg, who produced all three The Hangover films, Space Jam, Old School and many others and co-wrote movies including the Bill Murray comedies Stripes and Meatballs...

Goldberg and Ivan Reitman collaborated for more than 30 years, working together on features including the animated Heavy Metal (1981); toon/live-action hybrid Space Jam (1996), starring Michael Jordan alongside Looney Toons characters; 1994’s Junior, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger as the world’s first pregnant man, along with Danny DeVito and Emma Thompson; … the 2001 sci-fi comedy Evolution, starring David Duchovny, Orlando Jones, Seann William Scott and Julianne Moore…

He also was an executive producer on a pair of animated TV series based on features: Beethoven and Extreme Ghostbusters.

(9) MEMORY LANE.

2007 [Written by Cat Eldridge from a choice by Mike Glyer.]

So let’s about Nalo Hopkinson. The first work by her I read was Brown Girl in the Ring, a stellar telling of Afro-Caribbean culture with its themes of folklore and magical realism. Midnight Robber and The Salt Roads are equally worth reading. Her short fiction is equally well crafted with Falling in Love With Hominids, her latest collection, being a great place to start.

So Mike’s pick of her works for our Beginning is The New Moon’s Arms which was published sixteen years ago by Warner Books. The cover is a montage of four photos, all credited on the rear flap; over-all design by Don Puckey and Jesse Sanchez.

It won the Sunburst Award for Excellence in Canadian Literature of the Fantastic and the Prix Aurora Award for Best Canadian science fiction and fantasy works and activities in English and French. It was also nominated for John W. Campbell Memorial, Mythopoeic and Nebula Awards. And she won the Astounding Award for Best New Writer. 

Now for this Beginning…

A CROWD HAD GATHERED AROUND MRS. WINTER. The commotion at the graveside vibrated with suppressed hilarity. Me, I wasn’t able to keep properly solemn. When my shoulders had started shaking with silent laughter, I’d ducked behind the plain pine coffin still on its stand outside the grave. 

I bit my lips to keep the giggles in, and peeked around the coffin to watch the goings-on. 

Mrs. Winter had given up the attempt to discreetly pull her bloomers back up. Through the milling legs of the mourners, I could see her trying desperately instead to kick off the pale pink nylon that had slithered down from her haunches and snagged around her ankles.

Her kick sent a tiny flash of gold skittering across the cemetery lawn to land near me. I glanced down. I picked up the small tangle of gold-coloured wire and put it in my jacket pocket for later. Right now, I had some high drama to watch.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 14, 1904 — Zita Johann. She’s best known for the lead performance in Karl Freund’s 1932 film The Mummy which also featured Boris Karloff. She wouldn’t show in another horror film for another fifty-four years when she was in Raiders of the Living Dead as a Librarian; her original career only lasted three years. She quit film to work in theater where she where she was a partner of John Houseman, her husband, who she was married to from 1929 to 1933, and with Orson Welles as well. She also taught acting to people with learning disorders. (Died 1993.)
  • Born July 14, 1906 — Abner J. Gelula. One of the many authors* of Cosmos, a serialized novel that appeared first in Science Fiction Digest July 1933 and then has a really convoluted publication history that I won’t detail here. It was critiqued as “the world’s most fabulous serial,” “one of the unique stunts of early science fiction,”and conversely “a failure, miserable and near-complete.” The entire text, chapter by chapter, can be read here. (*To be precise, Earl Binder, Otto Binder. Arthur J. Burks, John W. Campbell, Jr., Lloyd Arthur Eshbach. Ralph Milne Farley, Francis Flagg, J. Harvey Haggard, Edmond Hamilton, David H. Keller, M.D., Otis Adelbert Kline, A. Merritt, P. Schuyler Miller, Bob Olsen, Raymond A. Palmer, E. Hoffmann Price and Edward E. Smith.)
  • Born July 14, 1926 — Harry Dean Stanton. My favorite genre role for him? The video for Procul Harum’s “A Whiter Shade of Pale”. No, I’m not kidding.  He also played Paul of Tarsus in The Last Temptation of Christ, Harold “Brain” Hellman in Escape from New York, Detective Rudolph “Rudy” Junkins in Christine, Bud in Repo Man, Carl Rod in Twin Peaks twice, Toot-Toot in The Green Mile, Harvey in Alien Autopsy and a Security Guard in The Avengers. He didn’t do a lot of genre tv, one episode of The Wild Wild West as Lucius Brand in “The Night of The Hangman” and a character named Lemon on Alfred Hitchcock Presents in the “Escape to Sonoita” episode. (Died 2017.)
  • Born July 14, 1939 — Sid Haig. Best remembered as having a lead role in Jason of Star Command as the villain Dragos. He had one-offs in BatmanMission: ImpossibleStar TrekGet SmartFantasy IslandBuck Rogers in the 25th Century, and MacGyver. His Trek appearance was First Lawgiver in “The Return of the Archons”, and someone in casting at Mission: Impossible liked him as he had nine different roles there. He was Royal Apothecary twice on Batman, not a role I recognize. (Died 2019.)
  • Born July 14, 1943 — Christopher Priest, 80. This is the Birthday of the One and True Christopher Priest. Not that Pretender. If I was putting together an introductory reading list to him, I’d start with The Prestige, add in the Islanders (both of which won BSFAs) and its companion volume, The Dream Archipelago. Maybe Inverted World as well. How’s that sound?  
  • Born July 14, 1949 — Brian Sibley, 74. He co-wrote (with Michael Bakewell) BBC Radio 4’s adaptation of The Lord of the Rings. He also adapted The Chronicles of Narnia, and Titus Groan and Gormenghast for the same. Print wise, he’s responsible for such works as The Lord of the Rings Official Movie Guide and The Lord of the Rings: The Making of the Movie Trilogy. His only Award to date is a Sir Julius Vogel Award which is given by the members of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Association of New Zealand (SFFANZ) and the National Science Fiction convention for Weta Digital: 20 Years of Imagination on Screen.
  • Born July 14, 1964 — Jane Espenson, 59. She had a five-year stint as a writer and producer on Buffy the Vampire Slayer where she shared a Hugo Award at Torcon 3 for her writing on the “Conversations with Dead People” episode. She was on the writing staff for the fourth season of Torchwood and executive produced Caprica. And yes she had a stint on the rebooted Galactica. 
  • Born July 14, 1966 — Brian Selznick, 57. Illustrator and writer best known as the writer of The Invention of Hugo Cabret which may or may not be genre. You decide. His later work, Wonderstruck, definitely is. The Marvels, a story of a travelling circus family is magical in its own right though not genre.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) TRIVIA OF THE DAY. [Item by Olav Rokne.] If there’s one thing I love it’s science fiction. If there’s a second, it’s trivia. So we’ve been taking some time to go through the list of Hugo Award winners and finalists to pick out a few choice tidbits of trivia. Many of which, I’m sure the Filers will already know. But I hope to surprise them with a few of these morsels of trivia. “Trivia is Latin for ‘Three Roads’” at the Hugo Book Club Blog. Here’s one item:

The Hugo Hat Trick:
There are only three authors who have won a Hugo Award in each of the four long-established prose fiction categories (novel, novella, novelette, and short story). They are Fritz Leiber, Ursula K. Le Guin, and Connie Willis.

(13) HE DID IT WITH STYLE. [Item by Steven French.] In an exhibit of artifacts from the Sixties at York’s Castle Museum and representing the “style of the ‘60s”, I spotted this classic from a certain Mr Aldiss:

(14) CALLING FOR VOLUNTEERS. [Item by Hampus Eckerman.] Ok, this isn’t really news, but did you know that Vincent Price invented a dish called Dishwasher Salmon? As he was a master chef, I feel that this is something that needs to be tested by someone. Could some Filer help? Here’s the reference: Vincent Price in the Wikipedia.

…In 1971, Price hosted his own cooking program on British television, called Cooking Price-Wise produced for the ITV network by Thames Television, which was broadcast in April and May 1971. This show gave its name to Price’s fourth and final cookbook later that year. Price promoted his cookbooks on many talk shows, one of the most famous instances being the November 21, 1975, broadcast of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, when he demonstrated how to poach a fish in a dishwasher….

(15) THE VIEW FROM CHILE. “See world’s largest telescope come together beneath the Milky Way” at Space.com.

Newly released stunning images show that the Extremely Large Telescope is now halfway complete.

The images taken in June show the structure of the revolutionary ground-based Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) currently under construction atop the mountain Cerro Armazones located in Northern Chile’s Atacama Desert in extraordinary detail.When complete, the ELT will boast a 128-foot (39-meter) wide primary mirror that will represent the largest eye on the universe from the surface of Earth, able to view the cosmos in both visible and infrared light… 

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

Pixel Scroll 7/11/23 Practically Perfect Pixels Never Permit Scrolls To Muddle Their Thinking

(1) 2023 WORLDCON CRITICIZED. C. L. Polk, author of a 2023 Hugo finalist, told newsletter readers they want the Hugos taken away from the Worldcon.  

…I rebuke Chengdu Worldcon for inviting Sergey Lukianenko, a choice that is so terrible I can’t even make a bitter derisive joke about it. That’s a fucking horrifying choice from all angles and this person should not be honored in this way. And I shouldn’t have to be horrified by even one GOH who supports fucking genocide, but actually there’s two, since Liu Cixin is also invited.

The treatment of Uighyr Muslims in China is an atrocity and I hate it. The attempt to invade Ukraine and re-colonize it with unspeakable violence is an atrocity and I hate that too. I don’t have any clever words for this. it’s fucking evil and gross and thinking about it makes me feel fury. There was no way I would attend or participate, and being on the ballot for the Hugo awards doesn’t change my mind.

Again, I don’t really feel like anyone is surprised that I object to Chengdu worldcon’s guests and I have nothing to say to any of them.

But I wish that the Hugo Award would/could separate itself from Worldcon.

I have had this opinion for ages. yes, the Hugo Award is not Worldcon; it is only presented there, but that’s a distinction that doesn’t register for a lot of people who believe or assume that they are the same thing. They’re not…but.

The Hugo award is like the Aurora Award here in Canada. It has its own organization, just like the Aurora Award here in Canada. But the Aurora Award ceremony in Canada is hosted by different Canadian conventions each year. In 2019, I went to Ottawa for a lovely award ceremony as part of Can Con (please attend this convention; it’s a good one.) The Aurora Award ceremony has been held in Calgary several times. It floats from place to place, year to year, and in that wandering, asserts that it belongs only to itself.

Perhaps the Hugo Award should do that too, to reinforce that it’s not Worldcon – it’s simply that a worldcon bid, by tradition, includes the hosting of the Hugo awards and so they are associated in this way….

(2) SECONDED. John Wiswell also says, “’D.I.Y.’ is a Hugo Finalist! And I am not going to Worldcon”.

…I wish that I could just spend my time celebrating. But there’s more we need to discuss. I’ve wrestled with this for some time.

The ceremony for the Hugo Awards traditionally takes place at each year’s Worldcon. I support Worldcon touring the world; it should not always be in the U.S., especially not as the U.S. becomes increasingly dangerous for visitors and marginalized people.

This year’s Worldcon is in Chengdu, China, which many authors protested because of the Chinese government’s ongoing genocide of the Uyghurs. Since then Chengdu Worldcon has selected reprehensible Guests of Honor. Among them is Sergei Lukyanenko, an author infamous for his rabid support of Russia’s war in Ukraine. Chengdu Worldcon has been asked numerous times to remove him and ignored it. Lukyanenko has had ample opportunities to change and has instead deepened his support for the war, and specifically cheering for the murder of Ukrainian civilians and children.

I am a descendant of many Slavs. One of my first introductions to fantastical literature was my grandmother telling me fairy tales from her ancestors. My great grandfather helped assemble one of the largest collections of Slavic literature in the English-speaking world. He gave the collection to Texas A&M University in the hopes of further spreading knowledge of Slavic culture.

It shouldn’t take that level of connection to be disturbed here. It is repulsive that anyone would platform and celebrate Lukyanenko while he gloats about war crimes. It is the same repulsion I feel when reading reports of the genocide against the Uyghurs, and that I feel when so-called Guests of Honor vocally support that genocide.

So, as a Hugo finalist, I will not be participating in this year’s Worldcon. I will not travel to Chengdu in person. I will not do any virtual programming remotely, either.

The Worldcon community should know how these decisions have hurt us, and that this is how a Hugo finalist feels. I’m grateful that my work is meaningful to you. I hope the community can do better. It deserves better….

(3) PAY THE WRITER. [Item by Anne Marble.] Yilin Wang learned the British Museum was using their translations of poems by Qiu Jin (“China’s Joan of Arc”) — without credit, permission, or payment – and tweeted about it on June 18. Wang translated works that were in the public domain, and the copyright on the translation is owned by Wang.

The story has been covered in ARTnews (“British Museum Removes Writer’s Translations of Chinese Poetry”) and by CNN (“British Museum apologizes after using translator’s work in China exhibition without pay or acknowlegment”). The British Museum eventually responded to the controversy by taking down the translations — instead of, you know, paying the translator.

The translator, Yilin Wang (she/they), has been published in Clarkesworld, Fantasy Magazine, and others. (Wang has been covered in several File 770 posts.) Wang was a finalist for the Aurora Award and attended Clarion West Writers Workshop 2020/2021.

On July 10 an organization called the International Intellectual Property Law Association put up a very misinformed article about the topic that could have been considered defamatory because it said the translator was the copyright infringer. It has since been superseded by the version “British Museum Drops Writer’s Chinese Poetry Translations Over Copyright Claims” which ends with an apology by IIPLA for its “wrong interpretation”.

The British Museum has issued an apology following the unauthorized use of translations by writer and translator Yilin Wang in their exhibition titled “China’s Hidden Century.” Wang expressed disappointment on Twitter, stating that their translations of Chinese feminist poet Qiu Jin’s work were included without their consent.

The museum released a press statement acknowledging the incident as an “unintentional human error.” They privately corresponded with Wang and offered compensation for using the translations. Consequently, both Wang’s translations and the Chinese poems they translated were removed from the exhibition. However, the museum’s actions have faced criticism, sparking a broader conversation about the role of translators.

The British Museum, which previously stated it would not remove “controversial objects” from the display, faced criticism from Wang, who described the response as “erasure.” This raises concerns about the museum’s engagement with its curation and power dynamics with non-white contributors. The museum issued a statement acknowledging Wang’s request, removing the translations from the exhibition, and offering financial compensation. However, Wang disputes the sufficiency of the museum’s response….

PS: Apology from IIPLA for Wrong Interpretation…

Yilin Wang is continuing to press for compensation from the British Museum for having used her translations: “Canadian Translator Will File Copyright Lawsuit Against British Museum” at ARTnews.

Vancouver-based writer, translator and poet Yilin Wang has raised enough money to initiate a legal claim against the British Museum, as she continues to accuse the institution of copyright infringement after the museum removed poetry translations from a major exhibition on nineteenth century China.

As of July 10, Wang has raised £17,380 ($22,400) on crowd-funding platform CrowdJustice to work with lawyers in the UK to file a claim against the British Museum in the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court (IPEC), a specialist court that is part of the Business and Property Courts of the High Court of Justice in London. Wang has also retained the services of Jon Sharples, a solicitor specializing in intellectual property and art, from the British firm Howard Kennedy LLP.

,,, Wang told ARTnews Monday she decided to raise money to pursue legal action after exchanging several emails with the British Museum about full reinstatement of Qiu Jin’s poetry with credit for her translations; “reasonable payments” for the use of her work in several different formats; as well as an apology explaining what happened and how the museum would avoid it in the future. Wang said the British Museum initially offered a payment of £150 ($194) for the catalogue. That amount was raised to £600 ($775) after Wang asked for a list of all the places the poetry translations had appeared, but the museum also said it would not reinstate Qiu Jin’s poetry and Wang would not be credited because the work would not be in the exhibit.

“They refused twice,” Wang said. “And that was why I started the fundraiser, because it was just not going anywhere at that point.”…

(4) IN THE FIRST PERSON. The SFWA Blog has more testimony in “The LGBTQ+ Speculative Experience: Part 2”, curated by Elle Ire. Ire is joined by Scott Coatsworth, Nicola Griffith, Jose Pablo Iriarte, and Virginia Black. “Kind of like the Star Trek Experience—lots of diversity that some accept, some fight, and others never see.”

Our exploration of the experiences of various members within the LGBTQ+ spec fic community continues in this blog post. Please see Part 1 for an introduction to the series, disclaimers, and why I began this quest. In Part 2, we’ll look at the publishing choices my interviewees made once they were bitten by the writing bug and examine whether there was a connection between their initial exposure to spec fic and the publishing paths they took….

(5) NEW TRANSLATION PRIZE. The Cercador Prize is a new bookseller-led prize for literature in translation. A wide range of prose works will be eligible.

A new and auspicious distinction, the Cercador Prize for Literature in Translation will be awarded annually by a committee of five independent booksellers. During the initial prize cycle, each committee member will be responsible for nominating two full-length translations published in the U.S. between January 1, 2023 and December 31, 2023. The Cercador committee’s primary focus will be translated prose works including but not limited to fiction, nonfiction, memoir, and hybrid texts. As nominations are culled from the organic discovery, discussions, and recommendations of the committee, there is no formal submissions process for this prize.

The ten finalists for the Cercador Prize will be announced no later than October 15, 2023 with one winner, chosen by whatever method the committee deems appropriate, to follow. The winning translation will be announced no later than November 15, 2023. A prize amount of $1,000 will be attached and conferred entirely to the winning translator(s). Translators based anywhere in the world are eligible for the Cercador Prize.

The inaugural prize’s five committee members include:

  • Thu Doan of East Bay Booksellers in Oakland, Calif.
  • Gary Lovely of Prologue Bookshop in Columbus, Ohio
  • Javier Ramirez of Exile in Bookville in Chicago, Ill.
  • Riley Rennhack of Deep Vellum Books in Dallas, Tex.
  • Spencer Ruchti of Third Place Books in Seattle, Wash. (chair)

(6) HOLLYWOOD BOWL. Steve Vertlieb was in the audience to hear this concert over the weekend. Great poster!

(7) MEMORY LANE.

1971 [Written by Cat Eldridge from a choice by Mike Glyer.]

Philip Jose Farmer’s the writer who Mike choose this time. Now I know that y’all are very familiar with him, so I don’t feel that I need to go into any depth on him.  

I will say that I love the first two novels of the Riverworld saga, plus Doc Savage: His Apocalyptic Life.  

So the Beginning for this Scroll is To Your Scattered Bodies Go, the beginning of the Riverworld saga, which won a Hugo at the first L.A. Con. It was also nominated for a Ditmar. 

It was published by G. P. Putnam’s Sons fifty-two years ago. It was originally serialized as two separate novellas: “The Day of the Great Shout” which was printed in the January 1965 issue of Worlds of Tomorrow, and “The Suicide Express” that was in the March 1966 issue of Worlds of Tomorrow. The cover illustration is by Ira Cohen.

And now let’s see how the Riverworld novelstarted off..

His wife had held him in her arms as if she could keep death away from him. 

He had cried out, “My God, I am a dead man!” 

The door to the room had opened, and he had seen a giant, black, one-humped camel outside and had heard the tinkle of the bells on its harness as the hot desert wind touched them.  Then a huge black face topped by a great black turban had appeared in the doorway. The black eunuch had come in through the door, moving like a cloud, with a gigantic scimitar in his hand. Death, the Destroyer of Delights and the Sunderer of Society, had arrived at last. 

Blackness. Nothingness. He did not even know that his heart had given out forever. Nothingness.

Then his eyes opened. His heart was beating strongly. He was strong, very strong! All the pain of the gout in his feet, the agony in his liver, the torture in his heart, all were gone. 

It was so quiet he could hear the blood moving in his head. He was alone in a world of soundlessness. 

A bright light of equal intensity was everywhere. He could see, yet he did not understand what he was seeing. What were these things above, beside, below him? Where was he?

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 11, 1899 — E. B. White. Author of Charlotte’s Web and Stuart Little, both of which are surely genre. Along with William Strunk Jr. he’s the co-author of The Elements of Style English language style guide. In a survey of School Library Journal readers, Charlotte’s Web came in first in their poll of the top one hundred children’s novels. I know I saw the Stuart Little film. It was, errr, cute. (Died 1985.)
  • Born July 11, 1913 Cordwainer Smith. Pen name of Paul Myron Anthony Linebarger. Most of his fiction was set in The Instrumentality of Mankind series which I know I’ve read once upon a time at in fragments. Both iBooks and Kindle are well stocked with his novels and short stories including Scanners Live in Vain, a most excellent novella. (Died 1966.)
  • Born July 11, 1950 Bruce McGill, 73. His first role was as Director Eugene Matuzak in Time Cop. He later has got one-offs in Quantum Leap (twice), Babylon 5Voyager and Tales from the Crypt.  He’s in the first television remake of The Man Who Fell to Earth as Vernon Gage. If MacGyver counts as genre and I for one think that it should, he had the recurring role of Jack Dalton there. 
  • Born July 11, 1956 Amitav Ghosh, 67. Author of the absolutely brilliant The Calcutta Chromosome: A Novel of Fevers, Delirium and Discovery. Really go read it and then we’ll discuss it over a cup of chai masala.
  • Born July 11, 1958 Alan Gutierrez, 65. An artist and illustrator, specializing in SF and fantasy cover art. His first professional sale was to Rigel Science Fiction, #3 Winter 1982 . He then began producing work for Baen Books, Tor Books, Pequod Press  and other publishers. He has also painted covers for Analog magazine, Aboriginal Science Fiction, Asimov’s Science Fiction, and other SF magazines.
  • Born July 11, 1976 T.L. Morganfield, 47. She is as she says “An Aztec geek; whether it’s history or mythology, I devour it all. It’s a love affair that began in college and has taken over my fiction writing life.” And that’s why I’m recommending her Bone Flower trilogy which is at genre adjacent if not genre. Her Aztec West series bring the Aztec gods into the Old West and is quite entertaining in a weird sort of manner.

(9) JUDGE DREDD. [Item by Olav Rokne.] This was an emotionally challenging book to read. Often damning and enraging. But brilliantly written, and insightful. Michael Molcher’s I Am The Law deserves consideration for Best Related Work next year. “Judge, Jury, Executioner … and Prophet” at the Hugo Book Club Blog.

…The book depicts the creation of Judge Dredd as a response to the rising reactionary moral panics that engulfed British media in the late 1970s. Molcher seems to argue that comics provided a fertile ground outside of the “establishment” media for Judge Dredd writers like John Wagner and Alan Grant. It provided a platform from which they could offer pointed critiques that were later seen as prescient. 

“Things that happen in [Judge Dredd] echo, copy, or pressage things that happened in real life maybe a week or two either side. These are comics that were written months before,” Molcher says. “It’s almost Cassandra-like.”

By understanding Judge Dredd, Molcher argues, we can understand the multifaceted political crisis we are facing today. Thus, it might also be considered an important work of social science fiction. Throughout the book, history, sociology, and cultural studies are woven together.

“When you look at the book Policing The Crisis by Stuart Hall — it’s about the moral panic around the mugging crisis of the 1970s — you can’t help but realize that Hall and [Judge Dredd writers] John Wagner and Alan Grant are talking about the same things,” Molcher says….

(10) GIZZARD HISTORY. “A Strange Museum Takes a Strange Turn” and Reason wants to tell you about it.

Philadelphia has some of the strangest museums in the country. There is a Dental Museum with buckets of teeth, a museum dedicated to insects, and Pizza Brain, featuring…pizza. But the strangest collection must be the Mütter Museum.

Part of the College of Physicians, the museum houses a vast store of medical oddities dating back to the 1850s. Although not large, the two-story institution houses hundreds of specimens and maintains a 19th century feel. Visitors can see part of Albert Einstein’s brain, tumors removed from American presidents, and the death cast of the “Siamese twins” Chang and Eng Bunker, who died in 1874. The collection of skulls and diseased body parts defies description. One of my favorite exhibits is a large set of drawers filled with bizarre objects that people have swallowed (including, as I recall, a cast metal toy ship).

As much as I loved the Mütter, I have been careful to bring only visitors I thought would enjoy it. Some people prefer to keep their distance from a display of a 9-foot human colon…. 

(11) SOME ASSEMBLY REQUIRED. Speaking of gizzards, here’s what Archie McPhee has been up to.

These are some adorable organs! From kidneys to livers, this pack of internal organs is a perfect pick-me-up for a minuscule mortician. While it includes a few unpopular organs, you’ll also get the most popular organ of all time, the heart! (Brain is a close second. Also included.)

Want to make it look like a gnome died in your potted plant? These Itty Bitty Bones are like a tiny archaeological dig in your azaleas. Or, pose them in front of your cat and take a picture! What has little Fluffy been up to?

(12) SLEEPOVER IN A MISSILE SILO. Alta will host a Zoom interview with missile silo owner and enthusiast Gary Baker tomorrow, July 12, at 12:30 p.m. Pacific. Register here.

Would you spend the night in a decommissioned missile silo in Roswell, New Mexico? If your answer is an enthusiastic yes, you’ll want to meet Gary Baker: silo enthusiast and owner of Site 4, one of Airbnb’s most curious rental offerings. Profiled in Mark Wallace’s Alta Journal article “Sleeping in the Barrel of a Gun,” Baker joins Alta Live to detail his passion for missile silos, tell us about “preppers”—people who prepare for the end of the world—and reveal what it’s like to sleep in an underground bunker that was built to withstand a war. This will be a fun one—join us!

(13) THE VIBES. [Item by Steven French.] It turns out that the shape of your brain may be more important than previously thought (presumably by folk with particularly shaped brains …!) “MRI study challenges our knowledge of how the human brain works” at Physics World.

We have long thought that specific thoughts or sensations elicit activity in specific parts of the brain, but this study reveals that structured patterns of activity are excited across nearly the entire brain, just like the way in which a musical note arises from vibrations occurring along the entire length of a violin string, and not just an isolated segment…

(14) IS RESISTANCE FUTILE? “How to Resist Amazon and Why by Danny Caine (Audiobook Excerpt from Chap. 2)” from 2021.

This is a preview of the digital audiobook of How to Resist Amazon and Why by Danny Caine (Audiobook Excerpt from Chap. 2: An open letter to Jeff Bezos from a small bookstore), available on Libro.fm

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

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.]