(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.
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.
… 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 Yang, Strawberry Mansion, Neptune Frost, Mad God, Nine Days, Beyond The Infinite Two Minutes, Psycho Goreman, The 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: 1, 2), 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.”
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.]