Pixel Scroll 1/17/23 A Stone Soup Of Pixels Served Up With Buttered Toasted Scrolls

(1) PLAYING THE TRUMPS. “Stephen Colbert to Produce ‘Chronicles of Amber’ TV Series Adaptation” reports Variety.

Stephen Colbert is joining the team that is adapting Roger Zelazny’s “The Chronicles of Amber” for television [under his Spartina production banner].

… “George R.R. Martin and I have similar dreams,” Colbert said. “I’ve carried the story of Corwin in my head for over 40 years, and I’m thrilled to partner with Skybound and Vincent Newman to bring these worlds to life. All roads lead to Amber, and I’m happy to be walking them.”

“The Chronicles of Amber” follows the story of Corwin, who is said to “awaken on Earth with no memory, but soon finds he is a prince of a royal family that has the ability to travel through different dimensions of reality (called ‘shadows’) and rules over the one true world, Amber.”…

(2) MORE LORE. Season 3 of The Mandalorian airs 3 March 1 on Disney+.

The journeys of the Mandalorian through the Star Wars galaxy continue. Once a lone bounty hunter, Din Djarin has reunited with Grogu. Meanwhile, the New Republic struggles to lead the galaxy away from its dark history. The Mandalorian will cross paths with old allies and make new enemies as he and Grogu continue their journey together.

And according to Dark Horizons:

…A fourth season of the series is already in development, whilst this arrives ahead of both “Star Wars: Ahsoka” and “Star Wars: Skeleton Crew”, both due to arrive on the Disney+ service later this year. Filming on “Star Wars: The Acolyte” and a second season of “Star Wars: Andor” are both underway in the UK at present….

(3) SIMULTANEOUS TIMES. Simultaneous Times SF podcast episode 59 has been released. Listen to it here. Stories featured in this episode:

  • “Three to Go” by Ria Rees. Music by Phog Masheeen. Read by Jean-Paul Garnier 
  • “Ghosts” by Michael Butterworth. Music by Julie Carpenter. Read by the author.

Simultaneous Times is a monthly science fiction podcast produced by Space Cowboy Books in Joshua Tree, CA.

(4) FIFTIETH DAY OF HARPERCOLLINS STRIKE TOMORROW. Supporters of the strike against HarperCollins will rally January 18. Publishers Weekly has details: “HarperCollins Union Plans Rally at News Corp Offices in Manhattan”.

As unionized employees at HarperCollins Publishers prepare to mark their 50th day on strike next week, union representatives announced that a rally is planned outside the publisher’s parent company, News Corp, in Manhattan at 12:30 p.m. on January 18. Since November 10 of last year, labor negotiations between the union and company executives have been stalled, and union representatives are hoping to put pressure on the publisher to return to the bargaining table.

Local 2110 of the UAW represents more than 250 HarperCollins employees in editorial, sales, publicity, design, legal, and marketing departments. Union representatives said negotiations have stalled over higher pay, a greater commitment to diversifying staff, and stronger union protection. Negotiations started in December 2021 and unionized employees have been working without a contract since April 2022….

(5) WRITE WHAT YOU KNOW, THEY SAY. [Item by Bill Higgins.] Kenneth Hite, a Chicago author, game designer, and podcaster, was shot in the leg last week by armed robbers near his Hyde Park home.  Fortunately, he’s going to be fine.  Furthermore, he sold an account of the experience to the UK magazine The Spectator.  Because Ken Hite is a true professional. “Trigger warning: how it feels to get shot”.

… But at 3.10 a.m. on Friday, I was walking home from a late-night writing session at a colleague’s apartment a block from my house. (I work as a games designer.) A car pulled up, and two guys with guns jumped out and aggressively requested my 2014 MacBook Air.

I wish I could say I carefully considered whether my life was worth more than a nine-year-old computer and (more importantly) a manuscript I hadn’t backed up, but I acted without thinking and ran. After six or seven shots, I felt a hard thump on the back of my right calf. Then the two geniuses remembered that stuff about the third-largest armed force in Illinois, jumped back into their car and tore off. I counted my blessings and let myself into my house.

It was then that I noticed an awful lot of blood on the floor around my foot. The gunshots had, it turned out, awakened my wife Sheila, who wondered if I knew what had happened. Suddenly I did. ‘I’ve been shot in the leg,’ I told her. She called 911 and both sets of police – University of Chicago and Chicago Police Department – showed up almost immediately. In between questions, one of the cops put a tourniquet on my leg. I’ve heard since that if the tourniquet doesn’t hurt more than the bullet wound, it’s not on tight enough. This one was on tight enough….

(6) COVID STALKS AWARDS SHOWS. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Following the Golden Globe Awards, several celebrities (including some particularly big names) tested positive for COVID. Apparently in response, the Critics Choice Awards instituted a COVID test policy. “Several celebrities test positive for COVID after Golden Globes” at ABC News.

In the wake of the Golden Globes last week, several celebrities said they have tested positive for COVID-19.

At least four stars, including Jamie Lee Curtis and Michelle Pfeiffer, revealed they contracted the virus following the awards show.

In response, the Critics Choice Awards, which was held on Sunday, announced that all attendees would be required to submit a negative COVID-19 test before entering the venue, according to Deadline.

Public health experts said the news of actors and actresses falling ill is not surprising due to the relaxed regulations and people gathering indoors.

(7) MEMORY LANE.

1992 [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]  Mexican food liked you’ve dreamed of

Tonight’s essay concerns Laura Esquivel’s Like Water for Chocolate: A Novel in Monthly Installments with Recipes, Romances, and Home Remedies. It was published by Doubleday in Mexico in 1992 as Como agua para chocolate.  Yes, the English language title is a lot longer.

Perfection Learning published the first edition in 1995. The film actually came out here in 1993 before the book was published here because though shot in Mexico, it had simultaneous English and Spanish language versions. 

So let’s talk about the book. And a magical book it is. Even in the English translation! The original Spanish version, Como agua para chocolat, was the top-selling book in Mexico in 1990. As a work of Latin magical realism, it can’t be topped by any other work to date. I unfortunately don’t know Spanish so I read the English translation which is quite excellent.

Now it’s here because a recurring theme of both the book and the film that came out is is food, which is used to represent all aspects of the vibrant, if troubled, Mexican culture. Hardly a scene goes by without someone eating or preparing a meal, and some of the more tasty chapters/scenes involve truly awesome banquets. Both in the book and in the film, there’s a real feeling that food is more than just something one eats. Food here is a celebration of the helix of life and death, of consuming and being consumed.

It’s is possibly the most erotic film ever made. Truly it is. Even the baking of bread becomes an act of eros. 

Now here’s an exquisite example of the food scenes herein

She felt so lost and lonely. One last chile in walnut sauce left on the platter after a fancy dinner couldn’t feel any worse than she did. How many times had she eaten one of those treats, standing by herself in the kitchen, rather than let it be thrown away. When nobody eats the last chile on the plate, it’s usually because none of them wants to look like a glutton, so even though they’d really like to devour it, they don’t have the nerve to take it. It was as if they were rejecting that stuffed pepper, which contains every imaginable flavor; sweet as candied citron, juicy as pomegranate, with the bit of pepper and the subtlety of walnuts, that marvelous chile in the walnut sauce. Within it lies the secret of love, but it will never be penetrated, and all because it wouldn’t feel proper.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 17, 1899 Nevil Shute. Author of On the Beach. It originally appeared as a four-part series, The Last Days on Earth, in the London weekly Sunday Graphic in April 1957. It was twice a film. He has other SF novels including An Old Captivity which involves time travel and No Highway which gets a review by Pohl in Super Science Stories, April 1949. There’s In the Wet and Vinland the Good as well. (Died 1960.)
  • Born January 17, 1910 Carol Hughes. Genre fans will no doubt best recognize her as Dale Arden in Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe from sixty years ago. Other than The Red Dragon, a Charlie Chan film done in the Forties if I remember correctly, I’m not seeing anything that’s even genre adjacent for her though I’m assuming that the Fifties Ghost Buster short she was in should be a genre production. (Died 1995.)
  • Born January 17, 1927 Eartha Kitt. Though you’ll have lots of folks remembering her as Catwoman from the original Batman, she appeared in but four episodes there. Genre wise, she was in such series as I-SpyMission: ImpossibleMatrix, the animated Space Ghost Coast to Coast and the animated My Life as a Teenage Robot. Film wise, she played Freya in Erik the Viking, voiced Bagheera in The Jungle Book: Mowgli’s Story and was Madame Zeroni In Holes.(Died 2008.)
  • Born January 17, 1931 James Earl Jones, 92. His first SF appearance was in Dr. Strangelove as Lt. Lothar Zogg.  And I think I need not list all his appearances as Darth Vader here. Some genre appearances include Exorcist II: The HereticThe Flight of DragonsConan the Barbarian as Thulsa Doom and I actually remember him in that role, Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold, did you know the 1995 Judge Dredd had a Narrator? Well he’s listed as doing it, and Fantasia 2000 as well. In 2022, his voice was used via software for Darth Vader in the Obi-Wan KenobiDisney+ miniseries. Jones signed a deal with Lucasfilm authorizing archival recordings of his voice to be used in the future to artificially generate the voice of Darth Vader. Jones said later that all Vader voicing would using AI software. 
  • Born January 17, 1935 Paul O. Williams. A poet won the Astounding Award for Best New Writer in 1983 after publishing The Breaking of Northwall and The Ends of the Circle which are the first two novels of his Pelbar Cycle. I’ve not read these, so be interested in your opinions, of course. (Died 2009.)
  • Born January 17, 1962 Jim Carrey, 61. His first genre film is Once Bitten whose content is obvious from its name. The ‘dorable Earth Girls Are Easy was next followed up by Batman Forever in which he played a manic Riddler, then there’s the The Truman Show which stretches genre boundaries I think. May we not talk about How the Grinch Stole Christmas? And is Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind genre?,  who’s seen Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events?, Horton Hears a Who! (FUN!), A Christmas Carol  of which I know nothing, Mr. Popper’s Penguins (well it sounds cute) and, I’m not you, Sonic the Hedgehog. Busy, isn’t he?
  • Born January 17, 1970 Genndy Tartakovsky, 53. Like Romulan Ale, animation style is a matter of taste. So while I like his work on Samurai Jack and Star Wars: Clone Wars, I can understand why many SW fans don’t as it’s definitely an acquired taste.  He also is responsible for directing the animated Hotel Transylvania franchise. 

(9) THE SKY’S THE LIMIT. “Should We Block the Sun to Counter Climate Change?” – an opinion piece in the New York Times.

Last month, a two-person start-up company by the name of Make Sunsets claimed that it had launched weather balloons filled with reflective sulfur particles into the sky somewhere over the coast of Baja California. More provocation than experiment, the launch was a first-of-its-kind field test of a climate intervention known as geoengineering: a branch of speculative technology that promises to counteract and even reverse global warming by altering Earth’s atmosphere.

Long a taboo idea among climate experts thought too dangerous even to research, geoengineering is becoming increasingly mainstream. In 2019, Congress gave the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration $4 million to research techniques like the one Make Sunsets just tested, and it has since drawn interest from the Biden administration.

As the world continues to fall short of the goals of the Paris agreement and the costs of climate change mount, is geoengineering an idea worth taking seriously, or is it a world-historically reckless distraction from the global effort to transition away from fossil fuels? Here’s a look at the debate….

(10) A CELLER’S MARKET. [Item by Christian Brunschen.] A company literally calling themselves “SciFi Foods” are using CRISPR gene editing to develop “scalable beef cell lines” for cultivation — with the CEO claiming inspiration from Ian M. Banks’ The Player of Games. (They’re by far not the only cultivated-meat company out there of course.) “The first CRISPR gene-edited meat is coming. This is the CEO making sci-fi a reality” at Fast Company.

…Cost parity with traditional meat is every founder’s goal, one that sets a seemingly unattainable target. (In 2022, the average price of ground beef was $4.81/lb.) SciFi is betting that the only way to economically scale cultivated meat is with CRISPR, and that by making iterative tweaks they can create dependable cell lines with rich, meat-y flavor. “We have an eventual target of $1 per burger at commercial scale,” March says.

Once harvested, beef cells will be formulated into a blended burger that is mostly like the plant-based burgers you may already know—soy protein and coconut oil. SciFi’s secret sauce is adding a small percentage of SciFi cells (5% to 20%, according to March) to reward our taste buds with the beef-y notes we may think are missing from competitors like Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat. Blood-quickening, salivatory, tempting….

(11) TRIVIAL TRIVIA. The TV adaptation of a Ray Bradbury story, “The Electric Grandmother”, first aired on this day in 1982.

(12) EXTRA CREDIT. Mel Brooks’ History of the World Part 2, “A sequel 40 years in the making.” A four-night event, streaming March 6 on Hulu. John King Tarpinian declares, “I can hardly wait.”

(13) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Honest Trailers — Demolition Man” sends up another Sylvester Stallone science ficton movie.

…One of the few R-rated action sci-fi films that’s remembered more for its clever writing than its shootouts. But kids today will never understand the significance of this movie just like my ex-wife will never understand the significance of the John Spartan mannequin I bought from a Planet Hollywood estate sale….

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

Pixel Scroll 12/6/22 But Here’s My Pixel, So Scroll Me, Maybe?

(1) HARPERCOLLINS STRIKE NEWS. HarperCollins president and CEO Brian Murray, in “An Open Letter to Authors and Agents”, today addressed the company’s stalled negotiations with the United Auto Workers union which represents employees whose strike is now in its 19th day.

… Our current compensation offerings are consistent with our peers in the publishing industry. During recent negotiations, we proposed a fair and reasonable pay structure, including increases to entry level salaries. Based on publicly available information, HarperCollins’s proposed compensation increases would provide for a higher starting salary than any other major New York publisher. As well, we offer a minimum of six and a half weeks paid time off for all full-time employees (increasing with tenure), four “work from anywhere” weeks, overtime pay for those qualifying, and generous health and wellness benefits.

As with the entire industry, HarperCollins continues to contend with ongoing challenges to publishing and its underlying economics. The financial requests made by United Auto Workers, which are many and far reaching, fail to account for the market dynamics of the publishing industry and our responsibility to meet the financial demands of all our business stakeholders—including all employees, authors, and booksellers….

(2) PICKETER SPEAKS. Striking HarperCollins employee Rye White tells readers what’s going on in “HarperCollins Strike Dispatch” at N+1.

… Leading up to this year’s strike, the anxiety and frustration from union members toward the company was palpable even over video meetings and emails. HarperCollins still largely operates remotely (although good old Brian has since issued a mandate to change this), and it’s generally difficult when you work from your own living space to feel fully connected to the whole. Many people, myself included, are pandemic hires. We’ve seldom, if ever, actually come down to work in the office. Even so, our union’s organizing committee met with nearly every individual member for one-on-one chats about questions and concerns, and we were greeted with an enormous amount of careful consideration. What do we do if bosses pressure us to write out instructions for how to handle our everyday tasks? What will happen to our authors? Each of us understood the power in this decision. When it came time to vote, out of 200 or so members, more than 190 voted to authorize.

The first two days of the strike, we asked anyone who could make the commute to come down to 195 Broadway for maximum turnout and maximum noise. In the last two weeks, I’ve met many of my coworkers for the first time, put faces to names I’d only ever seen over email, and have learned about many people’s personal struggles and motivations and frustrations. “I feel closer to you all than ever before,” one picket captain noted in a recent weekly debrief meeting. “This is definitely a weird time, but I feel the camaraderie and it’s really meaningful.”…

(3) AUREALIS AWARDS. The deadline for entering work for the Aurealis Awards, Australia’s premier speculative fiction awards, is December 14.

All work published (or planned for publication) between January 1 and December 31, 2022 needs to be entered by this deadline. Enter your Australian speculative fiction work in the Aurealis Awards here.

(4) IN FRIGHTENING TECHNICOLOR. Headlining “Heritage’s Most Star-Studded Entertainment Auction Ever” is “The Wicked Witch of the West Hourglass — the Most Famous and Recognizable Timepiece in Film History.” They’re looking for an opening bid of $400,000.

….Three decades since it was last offered at auction, and after years of being displayed in myriad museums and traveling exhibitions – including Los Angeles Public Library’s Getty Gallery – it’s time once again for The Wicked Witch of the West’s hourglass to return to market. This meticulously constructed piece – made of wood, papier-mâché and handblown glass filled with red glitter and decorated with gargoyles keeping watch over the witch’s castle – is perhaps the most recognizable timepiece in cinema history. It is the very instrument the Wicked Witch uses to count down the moments Dorothy has to live – a beautiful thing no matter the moment, and forever linked to some of our earliest Technicolor nightmares.

The hourglass, which stands nearly two feet tall, was first available as part of MGM’s landmark 1970 auction, among “the things dreams were once made of.” The studio actually reused the prop a handful of times after its appearance in Oz, including in 1941’s Babes on Broadway – starring, amazingly enough, Judy Garland alongside Mickey Rooney in the Busby Berkeley-directed “Backyard Musical” (with Vincente Minnelli helming his wife’s sequences)….

(5) RAY BRADBURY SQUARE. Ten years ago today the intersection near L.A. library was named for Ray Bradbury. Read all about it in John King Tarpinian’s 2012 post “A Wonderful Day in the Neighborhood”. Plus photos, including this one of the official sign.

(6) MEMORY LANE.

1938 [By Cat Eldridge.] Mother Goose in Central Park

Continuing our exploration of characters from the fantasy genre is our look at the Mother Goose statue in Central Park.

The figure of Mother Goose is the imaginary author of a collection of French fairy tales and later of English nursery rhymes. Mother Goose in English dates back to the early Eighteenth Century, when Charles Perrault’s Contes de ma Mère l’Oye fairy tale collection was first translated into English as Tales of My Mother Goose. English writers quickly created their own collections of Mother Goose tales.

This granite statue by Frederick Roth, installed at the entrance to Rumsey Playfield in Central Park in 1938, shows a woman flying atop a goose. She has a pointy hat, purse, cloak, buckled shoe, and one very unhappy-looking cat riding the clouds.

Several other nursery rhyme characters are carved into its sides from five of the Mother Goose stories — Humpty Dumpty, Old King Cole, Little Jack Horner, Mother Hubbard, and Mary and her little lamb. I’m only going to show you the flying woman atop a goose and the cat as I think it’s the best part of the statue.

The Park went on to commission two more such statues, Alice in Wonderland and Hans Christian Andersen and the Ugly Duckling.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 6, 1893 Sylvia Townsend Warner. Do yourself a favor and look up a bio of her as she’s a fascinating person. This lovely site is a good place to do so. Her first novel, Lolly Willowes or, The Loving Huntsman, is definitely genre. ISFDB lists four genre collections by her. Kingdoms of Elfin is available on on Kindle Kindle, Lolly Willowes everywhere the usual suspects are. (Died 1978.)
  • Born December 6, 1900 Agnes Moorehead. I’m assuming that the statute of limitations for spoilers has long passed on this particular show. I’m referring to The Twilight Zone episode “The Invaders” in which she never spoke a word as she fought off the tiny Invaders, human astronauts, and she a giant alien. Written especially for her by Richard Matheson. (Died 1974.)
  • Born December 6, 1924 Wally Cox. Ok, who can resist the voice of the Underdog series which ran from 1964 to 1967? I certainly can’t. He was in Babes in ToylandThe Twilight ZoneMission: ImpossibleLost in SpaceGet SmartThe Girl from U.N.C.L.E.QuarantinedNight Gallery and Once Upon a Mattress. Warning: anything with him in it on YouTube or Vimeo is still under copyright so please don’t link to it. (Died 1973.)
  • Born December 6, 1953 Tom Hulce, 69. Oscar-nominated screen and stage actor and producer. His first genre role was in a highly-praised performance as the lead in the American Playhouse broadcast of The Rise and Rise of Daniel Rocket, about a young boy who discovers that he can fly. Although the bulk of his career has been in the theater, his most notable genre film role was as Henry Clerval in Kenneth Branagh’s Saturn-nominated Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. He was nominated for an Annie Award for his voice performance of Quasimodo in Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and appeared in the films Stranger than Fiction and Jumper.
  • Born December 6, 1957 Arabella Weir, 65. A performer with two Who appearances, the first in “Exile,” a Big Finish audio, released in 2003. Almost a decade later Weir appeared on screen as Billis in “The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe”, a superb Eleventh Doctor story. She’s had one-offs on genre and genre adjacent series such as Shades of DarknessGenie in the HouseRandall & Hopkirk (Deceased) and even a genre adjacent Midsomer Murders
  • Born December 6, 1962 Colin Salmon, 60. Definitely best known for his role as Charles Robinson in the Bond films Tomorrow Never DiesThe World Is Not Enough and Die Another Day. He played Dr. Moon in “Silence in the Library” and “Forest of the Dead”, Tenth Doctor stories, and was Walter Steele on Arrow. He most recently played General Zod on Krypton He was, alas, Ben in that clunker of films, Mortal Engines.
  • Born December 6, 1969 Torri Higginson, 53. I had forgotten that she had a role in the TekWar movies and series as Beth Kittridge. I like that series a lot. Of course, she portrayed Dr. Elizabeth Weir in one episode of Stargate SG-1 and the entire Stargate Atlantis series. Her most recent genre roles was as Dr. Michelle Kessler in Inhuman Condition, where she plays a therapist who focuses on supernatural patients, and Commander Delaney Truffault in the Dark Matter series. 

(8) COMIC SECTION.

  • Sure, Thanksgiving is over, but Herman has another reason not to decorate for Christmas yet.

(9) REALITY OVERTAKES SCIENCE FICTION. ScreenRant lists “10 Pieces Of Technology Where Reality Did Better Than The Movies, According To Reddit”.

It’s been over half a century since science fiction’s golden age of the ’60s and ’70s, and a lot of the movie technology that initially seemed advanced at the time now seems woefully out of date. Today’s reality has surpassed what was once thought of as science fiction and Redditors have come together to discuss some of the examples they think are the most blatant…

For one example:

User Interface

User interface is one of the most complicated fields in technology. They can often be visually striking, but they’re chiefly made to be easily navigated. Movies don’t really get this. As Redditor YZJay comments, UI shown in movies is “hilariously unusable in terms of design, low contrast, weak indicators of what are interactive, waaaay too much animations etc.”

UI in movies animate far too much to be useful, and they have too many transitions and sparkly effects. As mentioned, ease of navigation is the priority and the UI in movies is usually way too complicated or patience-testing to use. It makes one thankful for more basic, minimalist designs.

(10) SHRUNKEN EDS. Open Culture remembers “The Fiske Reading Machine: The 1920s Precursor to the Kindle”.

The Sony Librie, the first e-reader to use a modern electronic-paper screen, came out in 2004. Old as that is in tech years, the basic idea of a handheld device that can store large amounts of text stretches at least eight decades farther back in history. Witness the Fiske Reading Machine, an invention first profiled in a 1922 issue of Scientific American. “The instrument, consisting of a tiny lens and a small roller for operating this eyepiece up and down a vertical column of reading-matter, is a means by which ordinary typewritten copy, when photographically reduced to one-hundredth of the space originally occupied, can be read with quite the facility that the impression of conventional printing type is now revealed to the unaided eye,” writes author S. R. Winters.

Making books compatible with the Fiske Reading Machine involved not digitization, of course, but miniaturization. According to the patents filed by inventor Bradley Allen Fiske (eleven in all, between 1920 and 1935), the text of any book could be photo-engraved onto a copper block, reduced ten times in the process, and then printed onto strips of paper for use in the machine, which would make them readable again through a magnifying lens….. 

(11) WILL WORK FOR APPLAUSE. Here’s what we’ve got to have: “Star Wars (‘The Mandalorian’) The Child Talking Clapper with Night Light”. (See video demo on YouTube.)

From Star Wars Mandalorian it’s The Child Clapper with Night Light! Known as “Baby Yoda” to fans, The Child Clapper is the cutest way to operate an appliance with two claps. Clap 3 times to turn on the night light and hear quotes from the show. Hear, “The kid is coming with me” when the night light is turned on and “Come on baby, do the magic hand thing” when it’s turned off. 

(12) THE HOLE WORLD IN HIS HANDS. “Physicists Create ‘the Smallest, Crummiest Wormhole You Can Imagine’” for reasons explained by the New York Times. It’s a simulation, not the real thing, however.

…In their report, published Wednesday in Nature, the researchers described the result in measured words: “This work is a successful attempt at observing traversable wormhole dynamics in an experimental setting.”

… The wormhole that Dr. Spiropulu and her colleagues created and exploited is not a tunnel through real physical space but rather through an “emergent” two-dimensional space. The “black holes” were not real ones that could swallow the computer but lines of code in a quantum computer. Strictly speaking, the results apply only to a simplified “toy model” of a universe — in particular, one that is akin to a hologram, with quantum fields on the edge of space-time determining what happens within, sort of in the way that the label on a soup can describes the contents….

(13) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Emergency Awesome delivers a “Guardians Of The Galaxy Holiday Special FULL Breakdown, Marvel Easter Eggs and Things You Missed”.

The special went live (on Disney+) during Thanksgiving weekend. Daniel Dern says, “We finally watched it last night; a lotta fun. It’s also worthwhile to then watch one of the ‘abouts’ for more on the lesser-known characters, in-jokes, cameos, and implications for the Marvel movie universe.”

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

Pixel Scroll 12/3/22 A Credential Is Haunting Mount TBR

(1) 2023 SMOFCON AWARDED TO RHODE ISLAND. Massachusetts Convention Fandom Inc. (MCFI) has been voted the right to host the 2023 Smofcon in Providence, RI. The vote, taken this weekend at the Smofcon in Montreal, was Providence 37 and Sweden 28. The MCFI bid presentation can be accessed here.

The convention will be held December 1-3, 2023 at the Providence Marriott Downtown. The membership rates, good through February 28, 2023 are: Attending $50; Hybrid $35; Family/Con Suite Only $30.

(2) WHAT TO DO THE WEEK AFTER GLASGOW 2024. The Glasgow 2024 Worldcon will be held August 8-12, 2024. Information coming out of Smofcon indicates two cons will run the following weekend.

  • The Buffalo, NY 2024 NASFiC will be held August 15-18, 2024.
  • Eurocon 2024, which had announced plans to run in August, now is reported to be slotted into the weekend after Worldcon, although its website still does not show specific dates.

(3) FUTURE TENSE FICTION. The latest story in Future Tense Fiction’s monthly series of short stories is “Universal Waste, by Palmer Holton” at Slate, “about a small-town cop, a murder, and a massive recycling plant.”

It’s accompanied by waste management expert Josh Lepawsky’s response essay “Can we turn landfills into energy? The laws of thermodynamics have something to say”.

You handle waste every day. Tissues. Bottles and cans. Kitchen scraps, maybe yard trimmings. And plastics. So many plastics. The wet, the dry, the smelly, and the disgusting.

But the stuff you personally put in this or that bin is the tiniest part of all the waste that arises in the United States and other countries whose economies are premised on mass consumption. Although numbers are tricky here, something like 97 percent of all waste arising in the United States happens before you—as citizen and consumer—buy, use, and toss the things you need and want for your daily life. If you live in a typical American city, all the garbage and recycling you see getting picked up at the curb is just that remaining 3 percent of overall waste arising….

(4) SUSAN COOPER PRAISED. “Midwinter magic: Robert Macfarlane on the enduring power of The Dark Is Rising” in the Guardian. (The 12-part BBC audio adaption of The Dark Is Rising will be broadcast on the World Service from December 20, and on Radio 4 from December 26.)

I first read Susan Cooper’s The Dark Is Rising the summer I turned 13, the year the Berlin Wall came down. I read it by torchlight under the bedclothes, not because of parental curfew or power cut, but because that seemed the safest place to read what was, unmistakably, the eeriest novel I’d ever met.

Eeriness is different in kind to horror. Eeriness thrives in edge-of-the-eye glimpses; horror is full-frontal. The eerie lives in the same family of feelings as Freud’s “uncanny”, which in its original German, unheimlich, means “unhomely”. A core power of Cooper’s novel lies in its counterpointing of the homely and the unhomely. It opens in the domestic clamour of the Stanton family house, in a quiet English village in the upper Thames valley. It’s 20 December: the eve of both the winter solstice and the 11th birthday of Will, the youngest of the Stanton children. Inside the house, all is pre-Christmas chaos, baking smells and familiarity. But in the wintry landscape around, something is very wrong. Rooks are behaving strangely, dogs are suddenly afraid of Will, a blizzard is coming, and “a shadowy awareness of evil” is building. Will’s life is about to change for ever – for he will become caught up in an ancient battle between the forces of the Light and those of the Dark, which are always strongest at midwinter. His young shoulders are soon to bear an immense burden….

(5) KRESS Q&A. Media Death Cult brings fans “An Interview with Nancy Kress”.

Nancy Kress is a multiple Hugo and Nebula award winning science fiction author, a Professor of Literature and a lover of ballet. Her books include:
– BEGGARS IN SPAIN
– AFTER THE FALL, BEFORE THE FALL, DURING THE FALL –
– PROBABILITY MOON –
– OBSERVER (2023)

She discusses her work, the future of humanity and gives her top SF reads.

(6) DECEMBER IS HERE AND A PERSON’S MIND TURNS TO PRESENTS[Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Fancy an SFnal read? A reminder that in the autumnal edition of SF2 Concatenation, its news page has a listing of current SF book listings and brief blurbs from Britain’s major SF imprints. Also included are fantasy listings and popular science. These titles should be available in N. America at your favorite SF bookshop or online.

SF2 Concatenation has also just tweeted an advance post of a Best of Nature ‘Futures’ short story: “The Christmas Tree Barn” by Mary E. Lowd.  This one has a suitable theme for the festive season. What will Christmas trees be like in the Future? Remember, a Christmas tree is not just for Christmas!

(7) PEPPÉ REMEMBERED. The Guardian profiles the late Rodney Peppé who died October 27.

For more than 50 years Rodney Peppé, who has died aged 88, conjured up a wonderful world through the children’s books that he wrote and illustrated, together with the toys, models and automata that he made. In that world, daydreaming pigs dance, mice travel in time, and at the turn of a handle characters come to life. Two of these creations became stars for children’s television, Huxley Pig (Central TV, 1989, 1990) and Angelmouse (BBC, 1999).

Inspired by the painted and embellished wood models and sculptures of the British artist Sam Smith, as well as by Victorian toys, Rodney carefully crafted colourful toys and automata that displayed a playful charm and engaging, gentle wit, free from any dark undercurrents. A substantial collection of these, together with his book illustrations and archive, are now housed at Falmouth Art Gallery.

He authored more than 80 children’s books, including The Mice and the Clockwork Bus (1986), which was to become part of the national curriculum for seven-year-olds….

(8) MEMORY LANE.

1990 [By Cat Eldridge.] Alice in Wonderland in Guildford

Lewis Carroll spent much of his later years in rural Guildford. He had chosen it as he found that he really liked walking in that area, it had good train access to London, and he could access it easily by train from his home in Oxford.

So it’s not surprising that a sort of cottage industry has grown up there around him and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and its sequel Through the Looking-Glass

We have not one, but two Alice in Wonderland statues here with the first at Guildford Castle. It’s the more fantastical of the two. “Alice through the Looking Glass”, the life-size statue, is in Alice’s Garden on the eastern side of the castle. The statue depicts Alice trying to climb through the looking glass. Sculptor Jeanne Argent made the statue in 1990 to mark the link between Lewis Carroll and Guildford. It is modeled on the sculptor’s daughter Anne.

The second statue, “Alice & the White Rabbit”, is far more traditional. It depicts the book’s famous beginning where Alice follows a talking rabbit into a hole, leaving her older sister behind. So we have the two sisters and, of course, the white rabbit. 

Edwin Russell, the sculptor, who did this in 1984, got really obsessed about finding the perfect model for his white rabbit and looked at, errr, over five hundred! 

And please note that the sculptor gave Alice a bob-cut, so she has short-fringed hair, a relatively uncommon depiction of the character. And note that her sister is also depicted as a young girl, unlike the 1951 Disney film and most modern illustrations of her. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 3, 1918 Polly Freas. Fan and wife of SFF artist Frank Kelly Freas with whom she had 3 children. She was much loved in fandom. She and Kelly co-edited Wonderworks: Science Fiction and Fantasy Art by Michael Whelan, which was a Hugo finalist for Best Nonfiction Book. She was Guest of Honor at numerous conventions, and was given a Special Award by Southern Fandom. (Died 1987.)
  • Born December 3, 1922 Donald Tuck. Engineer, Writer, Editor, and Fan from Tasmania, Australia who discovered SF very young; by the time he was 18, he had co-edited three issues of the fanzine Profan, which included author bios and bibliographies. Considering the logistical difficulties of the time in terms of communication by snail mail – especially given the added difficulty due to WWII and the distance of Australia from the U.S. – his feat in amassing a huge collection of index cards with the details of hundreds of SFF works was impressive. In 1954, he collected those index cards into A Handbook of Science Fiction and Fantasy, a 151-page bibliography of the field; in 1959 he released a greatly-expanded and updated version, at 396 pages. He was given a Worldcon Special Award for this work. He continued to refine this over the years, and in 1974 produced the first volume of The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy through 1968: Who’s Who, for surnames starting A to L, followed four years later by Volume 2, for M to Z, and was recognized for this work with a World Fantasy Special Award. The third volume, a bibliography to accompany the two-volume encyclopedia of authors, editors, and artists, won a Hugo Award. He was to be Guest of Honor at the first Australian Worldcon; when he couldn’t attend, a group of fans went to visit him at his home. In 1985, he was given Fandom’s Big Heart Award. (Died 2010.) (JJ)
  • Born December 3, 1937 Morgan Llewelyn, 85. Ok, so what have I read by her is The Horse Goddess, as wonderful as is Grania: She-King of the Irish Seas and Lion of Ireland which I read a long time ago because the now closed Brian Boru Pub had just opened here and I was interested in his story. I later booked uilleann piper Paddy Keenan there. I got into a dispute a few mornings after with the Irish lads who ran the Pub who wanted their money back claiming no one showed up when in fact over ninety people at twenty dollars packed the upstairs and each drank at least three pints that night. How much Irish whisky was consumed I know not.  No, they didn’t get a cent back. 
  • Born December 3, 1949 Malcolm Edwards, 73. Writer, Editor, and Critic from England who is considered one of the field’s great editors. Early in his career, he joined the British Science Fiction Association, and served as editor of its journal Vector. He was extremely active in British fandom in the 60s and 70s, producing several fanzines, and was one of the co-founders of the semiprozine Interzone. In the 80s, he co-wrote several SFF nonfiction reference works. His work has influenced many fans’ reading: as SF editor for Gollancz, he launched the SF Masterworks series. He was Deputy CEO of the Orion Publishing Group until 2019. Although he is best known as an editor, his short story “After-Images” won a British Science Fiction Award, and has been included in five different anthologies. He chaired the 1987 Worldcon in Brighton, and was a Guest of Honor at Worldcon in London in 2014.
  • Born December 3, 1958 Terri Windling, 64. Author of The Wood Wife, winner of the Mythopoeic Award for Novel of the Year, she has deservedly won has won nine World Fantasy Awards, the Bram Stoker Award, and The Armless Maiden collection was on the short-list for the then named James Tiptree, Jr. Award. Along with Ellen Datlow, Windling edited sixteen volumes of the Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror  from 1986–2003. (Yes, the first volume is actually called Year’s Best Fantasy. I do have a full set here so I know that.) She is one of the core creative forces behind the mythic fiction emergence that began in the early Eighties through her work as an editor for the Ace and Tor Books fantasy lines, and they also edited a number of anthologies such as the superb Snow White, Blood Red series which collected the very best in contemporary fantasy. I’m very fond of her work with Illustrator Wendy Froud, wife of Brian Froud, on the Old Oak Wood series about faeries living in the Old Oak Wood.  She interviewed one of them, Sneezlewort Rootmuster Rowanberry Boggs the Seventh, for Green Man here.
  • Born December 3, 1960 Daryl Hannah, 62. She made her genre debut in Brian De Palma’s The Fury, though she’s better known as Pris in Blade Runner. And she was the mermaid Madison in Splash. In a decidedly unfashionable role, she was Ayala in The Clan of The Cave Bear before being Mary Plunkett Brogan in High Spirits which resulted in her being nominated for a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Supporting Actress. Was she really that bad in it? Her last genre role I think was in the Sense8 series as Angelica Turing, though she had a cameo as herself in Cosmic Radio.
  • Born December 3, 1968 Brendan Fraser, 54. The Mummy and The Mummy Returns are enough to get him Birthday Honors. (Let’s not mention the third Mummy film.) Though he’s been in Monkeybone based on Kaja Blackley’s graphic novel Dark TownSinbad: Beyond the Veil of MistsLooney Tunes: Back in ActionJourney to the Center of the EarthG.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra and being Robotman on the Doom Patrol series that now airs on HBO Max.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • FoxTrot features a D&D game with a special challenge.

(11) SPSFC TAKE TWO. In the second annual Self-Published Science Fiction Competition, Team ScienceFiction.news, the successor to last year’s Team File 770, has announced the seven books that they are advancing as quarterfinalists. The seven-member judging team is led by Rogers Cadenhead, and includes Rowena, Joshua Scott Edwards, Claire, Al, Sarah Duck-Mayr, and Varnster. See what they had to say about their picks for SPSFC Quarterfinalists.

You might wonder about the quality of novels submitted to a self-published competition open to the public. Are they a slush pile of unpolished prose where a story that’s well-written and compelling is the exception, or do enough good books get entered in the contest that it makes choosing the best of them genuinely difficult?

The ScienceFiction.news team of judges in the Self-Published Science Fiction Competition sampled 27 books in our allocation during the first round and had to pick the seven most worthy of being selected as quarterfinalists. It wasn’t easy to choose just seven….

(12) APPLIED SF: FREE ZOOM EVENT. [Item by Joey Eschrich.] The ASU Center for Science and the Imagination’s event, “Science Fictional Scenarios and Strategic Foresight: Planning for the Future with Applied Sci-Fi,” will take place on Thursday, December 8, from 12:00-1:00pm Eastern time. Panelists include science fiction writer and consulting futurist Madeline Ashby and foresight practitioners Ari Popper (SciFutures), Steven Weber (Breakwater Strategy), and Leah Zaidi (Multiverse Design). The event will also feature introductory remarks by renowned game designer and futures thinker Jane McGonigal, author of the books Superbetter and Imaginable.

The event is the third in a series for the Applied Sci-Fi Project at ASU’s Center for Science and the Imagination, which seeks to understand the influence of science fiction on technology and the people who build it, and to study the ways that sci-fi storytelling can a tool for innovation and foresight. 

The event is free and open to everyone. Here is the registration link.

(13) BEFORE THE IDES OF MARCH. “’Mandalorian’ Season 3 Sets March Premiere Date at Disney+” and Yahoo! has the story.

…The third season of the “Star Wars” series will debut on March 1 on Disney+, the Mouse House has announced. It had previously been reported that the series would debut on February 2023, but no official date had been announced prior to this.

(14) STOP IN THE NAME OF LOVE. “I do not think San Francisco police’s killer robots are a good idea” declares Washington Post satirist Alexandra Petri.

…I understand that this remark is controversial. But what are columnists for, if not to take these bold stances? So I will say it again: I, for one, think that killer robots are bad. I do not think the robots should kill. I think if you are going to draw a line someplace, killer robots should be on the other side of the line.

I was against the murder hornets, too. I heard “hornet” and said, “I will hear you out,” but then they said “murder,” and I said, “I will pass!” I am also opposed to killer people. When people say, “I am thinking of killing,” I am always the first to say, “Don’t!” I am consistent in these matters….

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Transformers: Rise of the Beasts arrives in theatres June 9, 2023.

Transformers: Rise of the Beasts will take audiences on a ‘90s globetrotting adventure and introduce the Maximals, Predacons, and Terrorcons to the existing battle on earth between Autobots and Decepticons.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mark, James Bacon, Joey Eschrich, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Cora Buhlert, Mike Kennedy, JJ, 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 8/14/22 I Am A Little Scroll Made Cunningly, Of Pixels, And An Angelic Sprite

(1) AURORA AWARD STATS. The 2022 Aurora Award Results and Hall of Fame Inductees were announced last night, and the CSFFA website now has the voting statistics and nomination totals available here.

It’s notable that in the Best Fan Writing and Publication category it was R. Graeme Cameron competing against himself, winning for Polar Borealis, while his Canadian SF&F book and magazine reviews in Amazing Stories (online) finished second.

(2) CONFUSION IS STILL WITH US. [Item by John Winkelman.] Con Chair Cylithria Dubois has posted an update about ConFusion 2022 and 2023. To sum up: Despite hardships and obstacles, COVID-related and otherwise, ConFusion 2022 ended in the black, financially, and there will be a ConFusion 2023, about which details will be announced soon. “2022 Rising ConFusion Final Report & Handoff to The Legend of ConFusion”.

Rising ConFusion 2022 took place January 21st – 23rd of 2022.  December & January were peak times for the  DELTA variant of the COVID-19 pandemic. As DELTA took hold, times looked very grim due to the pandemic, and on January 7th, 2022, I made a public plea to our community, alerting you of the dire financial straits ConFusion Convention faced due to lower attendance, higher costs, and lack of income from the postponed 2021 event. 

The day I made that plea, I was also packing to travel via car from my home in Kansas City, MO., to my Home in Bay City, MI. I posted that, went to bed, got up and drove the 14 hour journey. By the time I arrived in Michigan, I was gob-smacked at the community outpouring of support. Y’all have no idea how utterly stunned silent I truly was. (Lithie, Silent? Whoa)… 

In Quick Summary Form:

-The amount of income made by Rising ConFusion 2022 was $17,848.48. 
-The amount of Donation Income made from your generosity was $13,705.09. 
-Combined those total: $31,553.57! 
-Our total expenses (see note below) came to -$19,234.81.  
-The amount of money leftover was: +$12,318.76

In Short; Yes, you saved Rising ConFusion and there will be another ConFusion in 2023!…

(3) HEINLEIN BLOOD DRIVE. “The Heinlein Society Sponsors Chicago Blood Drive” for those wanting to donate blood while the Worldcon is happening. The Society says:

Worldcon chose not to sponsor a blood drive this year. For the convenience of those expecting to Pay It Forward by donating blood The Heinlein Society and Virgin Hotels, a block away from the Hyatt, will have a blood drive on Sunday. Schedule your appointment early as the drive is open to the public before Worldcon starts. More information will be available as well as a free book with a cool bookmark at The Heinlein Society Fan Table at Worldcon.

(4) WHERE IT BEGAN. Robert Charles Wilson told Facebook readers about a personal artifact he rediscovered.

I’ve spent the last few days putting my book collection in order, and yesterday I came across this, the first sf magazine I ever purchased: the March 1964 issue of F&SF, from a little shop in the town of Port Credit, Ontario.

J.G. Ballard, Kit Reed, Oscar Wilde, Avram Davidson’s haunting little story “Sacheverell”—pretty heady stuff for a precocious ten-year-old. But what had the greatest impact, looking backward from 2022, was Robert Bloch’s article “The Conventional Approach”—a pocket history of science fiction fandom. I was already nursing an ambition to write, specifically to write sf, and here was what looked like an invitation to a subculture of like-minded enthusiasts and maybe even a roadmap to a career.

A few more years would pass before I attended a convention or sold a piece of fiction to a professional market, but that little digest-magazine article had pretty profound consequences for me. What I eventually found by way of that subculture was, yes, a career, including a Hugo Award for my novel Spin, but also enduring friendships, two marriages and one long-term relationship, visits to Europe and Asia I would probably not otherwise have undertaken, and a more colourful and varied life than my 10-year-old self could have reasonably imagined.

All that, bought for 40 cents on a wintry Saturday in rural Ontario. Your money went further in those days, I guess.

(5) RUSHDIE UPDATE. “Salman Rushdie off ventilator and ‘road to recovery has begun,’ agent says” reports Reuters, quoting an email.

Salman Rushdie, the acclaimed author who was stabbed repeatedly at a public appearance in New York state on Friday, 33 years after Iran’s then-supreme leader called for him to be killed, is off a ventilator and his health is improving, his agent and a son said on Sunday.

“He’s off the ventilator, so the road to recovery has begun,” his agent, Andrew Wylie, wrote in an email to Reuters. “It will be long; the injuries are severe, but his condition is headed in the right direction.”…

Meanwhile, the Guardian reports that author J.K. Rowling, after tweeting sympathy for Rushdie. received a death threat: “Police investigate threat to JK Rowling over Salman Rushdie tweet”.

Police are investigating a threat against JK Rowling that was made after she posted her reaction on social media to the attack on Salman Rushdie.

Rowling tweeted on Friday: “Horrifying news. Feeling very sick right now. Let him be OK.”

Twitter user under the name Meer Asif Asiz replied: “Don’t worry you are next.”

Rowling shared screenshots of the threat and thanked everyone who had sent supportive messages. “Police are involved (were already involved on other threats),” she wrote.

(6) HE KNOWS HORROR WHEN HE SEES IT. In MSN.com’s extract of The Sunday Times interview, “Stephen King talks politics: ‘Trump was a horrible president and is a horrible person’”.

…King, who is himself active on Twitter, also spoke to the Sunday Times about the role social media has played amid the current political and cultural climate. 

“It’s a poison pill. I mean, I think it’s wonderful, for instance, that in the wake of George Floyd’s death, his murder by police, that you could muster via social media protests in cities across America and around the world,” he noted. “But on the other hand, it’s social media that has magnified the idea that the election was stolen from Donald Trump. And there’s millions of people who believe that, and there are millions of people who believe that the COVID vaccinations are terrible things. Some of the things are good, some are not so good, and some are downright evil.”…

(7) THE BOOKEND. Rich Horton’s last 50’s Hugo post is “Hugo Nomination Recommendations, 1960”. (I don’t have to explain why 1960 is the last year in this series about the 50’s, I’m sure.)

… This was the height of the Cold War, and the height of fears of Nuclear War, and that is emphasized by the popular success of out and out “End of the World due to Nuclear War” books like Level 7Alas, BabylonA Canticle for Leibowitz; and On The Beach, all published in this time frame. For that matter, Providence Island is about a lost race resisting the use of their island for nuclear tests, and The Manchurian Candidate is surely a Cold War novel to the max!…

(8) FAN MAIL. Connie Willis writes in praise of “Favorite Author – Mary Stewart” on Facebook.

I just finished re-reading AIRS ABOVE THE GROUND and was reminded all over again what a wonderful writer Mary Stewart was. Many science-fiction fans will be familiar with her because of her trilogy about Merlin and King Arthur–THE CRYSTAL CAVE, THE HOLLOW HILLS, and THE LAST ENCHANTMENT–but when those books came out, I was already a long time admirer who’d discovered her through, of all things, Hayley Mills.

I was a huge Hayley Mills fan in high school and college and saw all her movies. I also was an inveterate reader of movie credits (this was how I found new books to read–and still do) and thus discovered Eleanor Porter’s POLLYANNA, Jules Verne’s IN SEARCH OF THE CASTAWAYS–and Mary Stewart’s THE MOONSPINNERS. I promptly ran to the library to check out the book.

…I said her novels had been the foundation for the modern romantic mystery genre, but that’s not really true. Even though they’ve been compared to Daphne DuMaurier’s and Jane Austen’s books, nobody else before or since has been able to do the sort of thing she did. What is true is that she “built the bridge between classic literature and modern popular fiction. She did it first, and she did it best.” And if you’ve never read her, you’re in for a treat….

(9) SUMMER HELL IS HERE. This sounds fascinating. At Black Gate, Joe Bonadonna introduces an anthology: “In Hell, Everyone’s Pants are on Fire: A preview of Liars in Hell.

Seven Degrees of Lying

The opening story in Liars in Hell is by Janet and Chris Morris, and it’s called Seven Degrees of Lying. Under Lord Byron’s protection for a night, Percy Shelley is abducted and drowned. Honor bound, Byron sets out to find and rescue him, dragging Christopher Marlowe, Shakespeare, the Inklings, Satan, Lord Walsingham, and J, the mysterious Bible writer, into the first skirmish of the Liars War. Even Byron’s dog, Boatswain, gets in on the act.

…So come visit Hell and enjoy the company of our heroes and villains. There’s plenty of action, drama and gallows humor to go around. But bring your own pitchfork. It’s better to have it and not need it, than it is to need it and not have it. You never know when it might come in handy.

(10) MEMORY LANE.  

2009 [By Cat Eldridge.] I like pulp films and the Sherlock Holmes films that Robert Downey Jr. did, Sherlock Holmes and Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, certainly are pulp. Expensively produced ones as I will note in a bit. 

Both films were directed by Guy Ritchie and were produced by Joel Silver, Lionel Wigram, Susan Downey, and Dan Lin. Susan is the wife of Robert. They have their own production company, Team Downey. 

The story for the first one was by Lionel Wigram and Michael Robert Johnson. Eigram’s only other story was the The Man from U.N.C.L.E film, though he was the executive producer for the Potter films; Johnson genre wise only did three episodes of The Frankenstein Chronicles

The second film’s screenplay was written by Michele Mulroney and Kieran Mulroney, a married couple whose entire genre output otherwise is scripting together Next Generation’s “The Outrageous Okona” and Star Trek: Enterprise’s “Fortunate Son” episodes.

Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law portray Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson, respectively. I really think that they do a great job but, I suspect very deeply, like the video Poirots from yesterday, that is very much a matter of personal taste. I like their takes on the characters a lot. No, Downey is not the Holmes in the stories. 

They were expensive to produce, ninety million and the sequel added thirty-five onto its cost. The first was shot at in part at Freemasons’ Hall and St Paul’s Cathedral. The former was where the Suchet Poirot shot part of its Murder on the Orient Express. For the second film, principal photography moved for two days to Strasbourg, France. Shooting took place on, around, and inside Strasbourg Cathedral as that in stood for the German city where it was supposed to be set.

They made money, oh did they make money, roughly a half billon apiece. 

Roger Ebert I think in reviewing the first nails it perfectly and I’m going to quote only him from the multitude of critics. Here’s his entire first paragraph of his Sherlock Holmes review: “The less I thought about Sherlock Holmes, the more I liked ‘Sherlock Holmes.’ Yet another classic hero has been fed into the f/x mill, emerging as a modern superman. Guy Ritchie’s film is filled with sensational sights, over-the-top characters and a desperate struggle atop Tower Bridge, which is still under construction. It’s likely to be enjoyed by today’s action fans. But block bookings are not likely from the Baker Street Irregulars.”

Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give both films scores of seventy-seven percent which is a most excellent rating. 

They are available on HBO Max and Netflix.

There may or may not be a third film next year. The film company has announced such for Christmas but I hold little stock in that as the film hadn’t started production yet. 

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 14, 1910 Herta Herzog. At the Radio Project, she was part of the team of that conducted the groundbreaking research on Orson Welles’ 1938 broadcast of The War of the Worlds in the study The Invasion from Mars. The Radio Research Project was founded in 1937 as a social research project and funded by the Rockefeller Foundation to look into the effects of mass media on society. (Died 2010.)
  • Born August 14, 1932 Lee Hoffman. In the early Fifties, she edited and published the Quandry fanzine. At the same time, she began publication of Science-Fiction Five-Yearly which appeared regularly until ‘til 2006. It won a Hugo at Nippon 2007 which she shared with Geri Sullivan and Randy Byers. It was awarded after her death. She wrote four novels and a handful of short fiction, none of which are in the usual suspects. (Died 2007.)
  • Born August 14, 1940 Alexei Panshin, 82. He has written multiple critical works along with several novels, including the Nebula Award-winning Rite of Passage and the Hugo Award-winning study of SF, The World Beyond the Hill which he co-wrote with his wife, Cory Panshin. He also wrote the first serious study of Heinlein, Heinlein in Dimension: A Critical Analysis.
  • Born August 14, 1950 Gary Larson, 72. Setting aside a long and delightful career in creating the weird for us, ISFDB lists a SF link that deserve noting. In the March 1991 Warp as published by the Montreal Science Fiction and Fantasy Association, he had a cartoon “The crew of the Starship Enterprise encounters the floating head of Zsa Zsa Gabor”. 
  • Born August 14, 1951 Carl Lumbly, 71. I first encountered him voicing the Martian Manhunter on the Justice League series and he later played M’yrnn J’onzz, the father of the Martian Manhunter on the first Supergirl series.  His first major genre role was in The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension as John Parker, and he later had a number of voice roles in such films as Justice League: Doom and Justice League: Gods and Monsters. He of course was the lead in the short lived M.A.N.T.I.S. as Miles Hawkins. 
  • Born August 14, 1956 Joan Slonczewski, 66. Their novel A Door into Ocean won the John W. Campbell Memorial Award. They won a second John W. Campbell Memorial Award for their Highest Frontier novel. They were nominated for an Otherwise Award for The Children Star novel.
  • Born August 14, 1965 Brannon Braga, 57. Writer, producer and creator for the Next Gen, Voyager, Enterprise, as well as on the Star Trek Generations and Star Trek: First Contact films. He has written more episodes in the Trek franchise than anyone else with one hundred nine to date. He was responsible for the Next Gen series finale “All Good Things…” which won him a Best Dramatic Presentation Hugo (1995), along with Ronald D. Moore.
  • Born August 14, 1966 Halle Berry, 56. Her first role genre was not as I thought Miss Stone in The Flintstones but a minor role in a forgotten SF series called They Came from Outer Space. This was followed by being Storm in the X- Men franchise and Giacinta “Jinx” Johnson in Die Another Day, the twentieth Bond film. She then shows up as Catwoman. She has myriad roles in Cloud Atlas. And she is Molly Woods in Exant, a Paramount + series that originally ran on CBS. Both seasons are streaming there now.

(12) COMICS SECTION.

  • Popeye versus Cthulhu?
  • Thatababy shows what Alexa is up to after the owner leaves.
  • Tom Gauld covers all the options.

(13) THE REASON PEOPLE ARE TALKING ABOUT THIS BOOK. Politico’s Jenni Laidman interviews Kim Stanley Robinson: “Climate Catastrophe Is Coming. But It’s Not the End of the Story”.

…“This book has transformed my life,” Robinson said. “I’m doing nothing but talking about Ministry for the Future for the last year and a half, almost two years now. It’s also terrifying. It shows to me that people are feeling a desperate need for a story like this. They’re grabbing onto this book like a piece of driftwood, and they’re drowning at the open ocean.”…

Laidman: In your opening chapter, 20 million people die in an Indian heat wave and power failure, with several thousand of them poached to death in a lake as they try to escape the heat. Will it take this kind of climate horror to jolt the world into action?

Robinson: No. When I was at COP 26, Jordanian diplomat Zeid Ra’ad Hussein, who had read Ministry, was talking about the power of stories. He said, “You don’t need to be in a plane crash to know that it would be bad to be in a plane crash.” Every year since I wrote the book — I wrote it maybe three years ago — it’s as if attention to the climate change crisis has more than doubled. It’s almost exponential.

We’re not at the point of solutions, but at every COP meeting the sense that, “Oh my gosh, we are headed into a plane crash” is intensified. We’re not doing enough. We’re not paying the poor countries enough. Rich countries are breaking promises made at earlier COPs. Disillusionment with that process is getting so intense that I fear for the COP process itself. I’ve been comparing it to the League of Nations. The League of Nations was a great idea that failed. And then we got the 1930s and World War II. The 2015 Paris Agreement was an awesome thing, like something that I would write that people would call utopian. But it happened in the real world.

Now, with Russia and the brutal Ukraine war, things are so messed up that the COP process and the Paris Agreement could turn into the League of Nations. I’m frightened for that. It’s not a done deal.

(14) WHAT DO YOU THINK? Book Riot’s Caitlin Hobbs calls these the “20 of the Best Science Fiction Books of All Time”.

Before we get started, let me define “best” for you real fast. In this context, best does not secretly mean my favorite science fiction that I’m calling best because I’m the one writing the article. The best science fiction books of all time — at least the ones on this list — are the ones that remain highly rated, are incredibly popular, or have made some sort of mark on the science fiction genre or its various sub-genres, even mainstream culture as a whole. There are also only 20 books on this list, meaning it is not conclusive, as I am one person. I will inevitably miss a book that you think belongs on this list. So many science fiction falls into the definition of “best” that I’m using.

Because that’s what science fiction is meant to do: push the envelope, show what things could be if we continue down the path we’re on, and make you question what’s possible…. 

(15) KHAW SHORT FICTION. Sunday Morning Transport has a story and an offer.

(16) BREAKFAST IN A GALAXY A LONG TIME AGO. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Who thought this was a good idea?  The Mandalorian NEVER waffles! “The Mandalorian Galactic Homestyle Frozen Waffles”. (However, Martin confesses he bought these today.)

Start your adventure with a delicious breakfast including Eggo® The Mandalorian Galactic Homestyle Waffles. It’s our classic Eggo® taste featuring the Mandalorian & Grogu™ from the hit Star Wars™ series. Collect all Mandalorian cards, only available across three different hero pack designs while supplies last. It’s the quick and delicious breakfast that families across the whole galaxy love.

(17) DON’T TOUCH THAT DIAL. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Inverse writer Jon O’Brien takes a, let’s say nostalgic, look at Stay Tuned—a 30 year old movie the columnist believes deserved a better reception than it got. Starring John Ritter (Three’s Company) and Pam Dawber (Mork and Mindy), the movie’s plot includes strong flavors of the metafictional tropes so utterly infused in the recent & much better received WandaVision. “30 years ago, a sci-fi flop beat Marvel to its smartest story idea”.

…In 1992, Stay Tuned was accused of failing to say anything substantial in its send-up of America’s TV addiction. But decades on, the film serves as a forewarning of the dark route TV went down. The prank show genre, for example, has gone to such extremes as staging fake ISIS abductions and simulating plane crashes. The macabre spoof “Autopsies of the Rich and Famous” pretty much become a depressing reality.

Alongside ads for warped products such as The Silencer of the Lambs (muzzles for annoying youngsters) and Yogi Beer (alcohol for kids), and an end-credits sequence that zips through teasers for “Beverly Hills, 90666,” “The Golden Ghouls,” and “I Love Lucifer,” these brief side gags only appear via the Knables’ new-fangled TV set. But most of Stay Tuned’s lampoons play out in full screen, with Roy and Helen front and center after the new satellite dish zaps the bickering pair into Hellavision….

(18) A LUCRATIVE REJECTION. Neil Gaiman reveals he first pitched Sandman to George R.R. Martin for a Wild Cards series and Martin turned him down in this video with Gaiman and Martin that dropped last week: “Why Neil Gaiman Has George R.R. Martin to Thank for The Sandman”.

(19) BILL NYE IS BOOKING. SYFY Wire shares an “Exclusive clip for ‘The End is Nye’ on Peacock”.

SYFY WIRE has an exclusive first look at the all-new clip for the six-episode event series set to debut at Peacock on Aug. 25, and it’s safe to say that Bill’s not backing down from some of the biggest CGI-realized effects ever to bring a science documentary to life. How big are we talking? Like, positively supervolcanic — as in Yellowstone Caldera exploding, mushroom cloud-forming, town-engulfing big.

Bill and his trademark neckwear are in serious jeopardy in the new clip, which finds him flooring it out of a Rocky Mountain hamlet in a frighteningly futile attempt to outrace a superheated, 500 mph pyroclastic flow. Can Bill and his little electric car make it? Well…stick around to the end: It’s definitely Bill Nye like you’ve never seen him.

The blurb for the YouTube trailer says this is what the series is about:

Synopsis: The End is Nye sends Bill Nye into the most epic global disasters imaginable – both natural and unnatural – and then demystifies them using science to show how we can survive, mitigate, and even prevent them. Each stand-alone episode takes a hell-bent dive into the mystery and terror of one specific threat. Every catastrophe is abundant with thrills, but also offers hope and a way forward —a scientific blueprint for surviving anything that comes our way. The series is hosted and executive produced by Emmy Award winner and renowned science educator, engineer, author, and inventor Bill Nye. Each episode also features a brief cameo by longtime science advocate and series EP Seth MacFarlane.

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Rich Horton, Daniel Dern, Clifford Samuels, John Winkelman, Dennis Howard, JJ, 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 JeffWarner returns, because he isn’t donne yet.]

Pixel Scroll 3/21/22 Go Strider In The Sky 

(1) BALTICON GUEST NEWS. Balticon 56 announced that Odera Igbokwe has had to withdraw as Artist Guest of Honor due to personal reasons.

They followed up by naming two special guests: Kevin Roche, a costumer, conrunner, and quantum scientist and his husband Andy Trembley, a filker, costumer, and conrunner.

Balticon, which takes place May 27-30, also confirmed they will be streaming their most popular program tracks, and hosting virtual panels, kaffeeklatsches, author readings and more.

Virtual pricing for the whole weekend is $30 for adults and $20 for young adults. Virtual membership is automatically included with any in-person membership purchase. (Full rate information is here.)

(2) ESFS AWARDS NOMINEES. The European Science Fiction Society has released the nominations for the 2022 Achievement Awards, Hall of Fame Awards, and Chrysalis Awards.

The winners of these awards will be selected at the next general meeting of the ESFS, which will take place at Luxcon 2022, which takes place from 7th to 10th April, 2022 in Dudelange, Luxembourg.

(3) GRRM-CONNECTED GAME SUCCESS. Yahoo! reports “’Elden Ring’ Sells Over 12 Million Copies Worldwide”  — “Almost as many as PacMan,” teases John King Tarpinian.

While publisher Bandai Namco initially predicted that FromSoftware‘s Elden Ring would sell around 4 million units, the game has more than surpassed expectations. In the 18 days following its release, over 12 million copies of Elden Ring have been sold worldwide, the two companies announced on Monday.

According to the press release, the game was released throughout North America, Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East. 1 million units were sold in Japan alone.

Created in collaboration with novelist George R. R. Martin, who is best known for writing the series behind Game of Thrones, Elden Ring is an open-world action RPG that entered development in 2017. Players begin with a linear opening but are gradually enabled to explore the mythical Lands Between….

And George R.R. Martin recently took a moment to deny a story about the game.

…Oh, and as long as I am setting stuff straight, there’s a weird story all over the internet about how I “hid” my initials in ELDEN RING because… ah.. some of the characters have names beginning with R, or G, or M.   To which I say, “Eh?  What?  Really?”   This was news to me.    I have been writing and publishing stories since 1971, and I suspect that I have been giving characters names beginning with R and G and M since the start.   Along with the other twenty-three letters of the alphabet as well…  

(4) WHAT WOULD IT LOOK LIKE IF THE MANDALORIAN WAS INDIGENOUS? [Item by Olav Rokne.] Pretty cool Star-Wars-Inspired works by Canadian artist Christal Ratt got featured on the CBC News this weekend. Ratt, a member of the Barriere Lake Algonquin Nation in Quebec, used traditional techniques to create birch-bark armour modelled after the Mandalorian’s beskar armour. “What if the Mandalorian’s armour was birch bark instead of beskar? An Algonquin artist brings that to life”.

…And while it may not be able to stop lightsabers, the wearable piece of art also includes a birch bark helmet, with quilled Woodland florals and different shades of orange to honour residential school survivors from her community. 

The piece is called Shemaginish, which means warrior….

Personally, I find it really interesting to note that several artists of Indigenous Canadian descent are reinterpreting Star Wars iconography through traditional Indigenous styles. In addition to Ratt, there are several examples I can think of this, including well-known Canadian artists Andy Everson (a member of the Comox First Nation), and Aaron Paquette (a member of the Métis community in Edmonton) have found inspiration in mixing Star Wars with styles drawn from their respective Indigenous communities.

(5) AUTHOR’S GUILD SUPPORTS SMART COPYRIGHT ACT. The Author’s Guild announced, “AG Supports Introduction and Passage of the SMART Copyright Act of 2022”.

Why the Smart Copyright Act Is Necessary

The safe harbors for internet platforms in the Copyright Act are conditioned on the platforms’ cooperation to remove pirated content. The law has not worked as intended by Congress to encourage that cooperation, however, because the courts resisted enforcing the loss of safe harbors. In doing so, they took the teeth out of the law. As a result, piracy is out of control today, and the only mechanism that creators have to combat piracy is to send continuous takedown notices to the platforms, which is not only costly and time-consuming—for both the creators and platforms—but it is also ineffective because pirates often repost the infringing material. Online piracy harms the entire publishing and other creative ecosystems, leaving creators, who are usually at the bottom of the food chain, with only crumbs. Writers and other creators have no recourse except to watch the income from legitimate sales of their works dwindle while e-book pirates line their coffers.

The best way to curb piracy is for service providers to adopt STMs that automatically limit the amount of piracy on their services. These technologies already exist, and many platforms already use them effectively for certain types of works. The Authors Guild and other organizations representing creators have asked Congress to require all the major user-generated content sites to use such technologies to prevent or curb piracy. While the current law contemplates voluntary multi-industry convenings to create and adopt STMs, there has been no incentive for online providers to do so. As a result, no STMs have been formally recognized in the 23 years since the law was passed.

Bill co-sponsor Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) says on his site:

…Online service providers struck a deal with Congress twenty years ago—they wouldn’t have to pay for copyright theft facilitated by their systems if they worked with copyright owners to create effective standardized technical measures (STMs) to identify and protect against distribution of stolen content. In enacting this grand bargain, Congress clearly envisioned this safe harbor immunity would act as an incentive for platforms and rights holders to collaborate on developing effective measures to combat copyright theft, lower transaction costs, accelerate information sharing, and create a healthy internet for everyone. 

Yet rather than incentivizing collaboration, the law actually inhibits it because service providers cannot risk losing their valuable safe harbors if an STM is created. In addition, the current statute provides only one path to establish that a technological measure is a consensus-based STM that must be available to all. As a result, no STMs have been identified since the law took effect.  The issue isn’t whether technical measures to combat rampant copyright infringement exist—plenty do—but rather how to encourage service providers to adopt technical measures to combat stealing and facilitate sharing of critical copyright data.   

The Strengthening Measures to Advance Rights Technologies (SMART) Copyright Act of 2022 takes a measured approach to addressing these barriers in two ways. It creates flexibility so that more existing measures could be eligible for consensus created STMs and it addresses the incentive issue by authorizing the Librarian of Congress to designate through an open, public rulemaking process technical measures identified by stakeholders that certain service providers must accommodate and not interfere with. Instead of “bet the company” loss of safe harbors, violations involving designated technical measures (DTMs) risk only actual or statutory damages, from which innocent violators can be exempt.

Read a one-pager of the bill HERE and myth vs. fact HERE.

(6) LISTEN IN. Cora Buhlert is interviewed by Oliver Brackenbury in episode 36 of the So I’m Writing a Novel podcast: “Interview with Cora Buhlert”.

Cora Buhlert is a Hugo-nominated author and genre scholar who Oliver was lucky enough to meet through his research for the novel, and he’d love for you to meet her too!

Oliver and Cora discuss her falling in love with the very American body of work known as pulp fiction while she grew up travelling the world, the survival of dime novels in modern Germany, the irresistible pull of forbidden fiction, Thundarr and He-Man, “the best thing that happened in Germany in 1989”…

(7) SLICE OF LIFE. Did you ever want to know what H.P. Lovecraft thought of Gustav Meyrink’s The Golem and its silent film adaptations? If yes, Bobby Derie has you covered: “The Golem (1928) by Gustav Meyrink” at Deep Cuts in a Lovecraftian Vein.

Der Golem (“The Golem”) was a silent film directed by and starring Paul Wegener with German intertitles released in 1915. The film is now believed to be lost, aside from some fragments. This film was followed by two more: Der Golem und die Tänzerin (“The Golem and the Dancing Girl”) in 1917, and Der Golem, wie er in die Welt kam (“The Golem: How He Came Into The World”) in 1920, both of which were also directed by and starring Paul Wegener as the golem. So it isn’t clear which film Lovecraft actually saw. The 1920 film survives and is in the public domain.

Lovecraft claimed in most of his letters to have caught a showing of it in 1921, and like many an English student of the VHS era who needed to write a book report, he assumed somewhat erroneously that it was faithful to the plot of the book….

(8) ONCE UPON A NEWSSTAND. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] At Dark Worlds Quarterly, G.W. Thomas takes a look at Weird Tales’ shortlived sister magazine Oriental Stories a.k.a. Magic Carpet Tales: “Magic Carpet Tales: The Other Weird Tales” I’ve read some of Robert E. Howard’s contributions to Oriental Stories/Magic Carpet Tales and they were very good.

… Exotic locales, sexy seductresses and plotting agents aside, much of what appeared was a type of Horror fiction. Not always supernatural, torture tales, conte cruels but not your run-of-the-mill werewolf and vampire stories. For those who love Robert E. Howard and other WT authors, this is a bonanza of secondary tales….

(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1968 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] On this day in the United Kingdom fifty-four years ago, Planet of The Apes premiered. It was directed by Franklin J. Schaffner. The screenplay was by Michael Wilson and Rod Serling, and was based loosely upon Pierre Boulle‘s La Planète des Singes

It starred Charlton Heston, Roddy McDowall, Kim Hunter, Maurice Evans, James Whitmore, James Daly and Linda Harrison. Roddy McDowall had a long-running relationship with this series, appearing in four of the original five films (absent only from the second film of the series, Beneath the Planet of the Apes, in which he was replaced by David Watson in the role of Cornelius), and also in the television series.

It was met with critical acclaim and is widely regarded as a classic film and one of the best films of that year.  Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times said that it was “much better than I expected it to be. It is quickly paced, completely entertaining, and its philosophical pretensions don’t get in the way.” And Kevin Thomas of the Los Angeles Times exclaimed that it was, “A triumph of artistry and imagination, it is at once a timely parable and a grand adventure on an epic scale.” 

It did exceedingly well at the box office costing less than six million to make and making more than thirty million in its first year of screening.

Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give it an eighty-seven percent rating with over a hundred thousand reviewers having expressed an opinion!

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 21, 1931 Al Williamson. Cartoonist who was best known for his work for EC Comics in the ’50s, including titles like Weird Science and Weird Fantasy, and for his work on Flash Gordon in the Sixties. He won eight Harvey Awards, and an Eisner Hall of Fame Award.  (Died 2010.)
  • Born March 21, 1944 Lorene Yarnell Jansson. Yarnell played Dot Matrix (body acting, with Joan Rivers performing the voice) in Spaceballs. She was Sonia in The Wild Wild West Revisted, Formicida / Dr. Irene Janis in Wonder Woman’s “Formicida” episode and on the Muppet Show in season four episode, “Shields And Yarnell”. (Died 2010.)
  • Born March 21, 1946 Terry Dowling, 76. I was trying to remember exactly what it was by him that I read and it turned out to be Amberjack: Tales of Fear and Wonder, an offering from Subterranean Press a decade ago. Oh, it was tasty! If it’s at all representative of his other short stories, he’s a master at them. And I see he’s got just one novel, Clowns at Midnight which I’ve not read but really should. He’s not at all deeply stocked at the usual digital suspects but they do have this plus several story collections. He’s won ten Ditmars, very impressive indeed, and quite a few other Awards as well.
  • Born March 21, 1946 Timothy Dalton, 76. He is best known for portraying James Bond in The Living Daylights and Licence to Kill but is currently in The Doom Patrol as Niles Caulder, The Chief. As I’ve said before, go watch it now! He also was Damian Drake in Looney Tunes: Back in Action, Sir Malcolm on the Penny Dreadful series and Lord President of the Time Lords (Rassilon) during the Time of Tenth and Eleventh Doctors. He went to theatre to play Lord Asriel in the stage version of His Dark Materials.
  • Born March 21, 1956 Teresa Nielsen Hayden, 66. She is a consulting editor for Tor Books and is well known for her and husband, Patrick Nielsen Hayden’s superb weblog Making Light, and back in the Eighties, they published the Izzard fanzine. And she has three fascinating framing pieces in The Essential Bordertown, edited by Delia Sherman and Terri Windling. 
  • Born March 21, 1958 Gary Oldman, 64. First genre film role was as Rosencrantz in Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead. Next up is the lead role in Bram Stoker’s Dracula. And of course he was Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg in Fifth Element, followed by being Lost in Space‘s Dr. Zachary Smith, which in turn led to Harry Potter’s Sirius Black, and that begat James Gordon in the Batman filmsAlthough some reviewers give him accolades for us as role as Dr. Dennett Norton in the insipid Robocop remake, I will not. Having not seen Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, I can’t say how he is as Dreyfus in it.
  • Born March 21, 1965 Cynthia Geary, 57. Best remembered as Shelly Tambo on Northern Exposure. It’s genre, isn’t it? If that’s not enough, she’s got a prime genre role in The Outer Limits episode “Mary 25” in which she plays Teryl who is not what she seems. And she shows up on Fantady Island in the “Dying to Dance” as Pamela Lewis.
  • Born March 21, 1970 Chris Chibnall, 52. Current showrunner for Doctor Who and the head writer for the first two (and I think) best series of Torchwood. He first showed up in the Whoverse when he penned the Tenth Doctor story, “42”.  He also wrote several episodes of Life on Mars. He’s been nominated for a Hugo three times for work on Doctor Who, “Rosa” at Dublin 2019, “Resolution” CoNZealand and for “Fugitive of the Judoon” at DisCon III.
  • Born March 21, 1985 Sonequa Martin-Green, 37. She currently plays Michael Burnham on Discovery which is now In its fourth series. She had a brief recurring role as Tamara in Once Upon a Time, and a much longer recurring role on The Walking Dead as Sasha Williams but I’ve never seen her there as zombies hold absolutely no interest to me. Well Solomon Grundy does…  And she was in the Shockwave, Darkside film.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • The Duplex shows the history you learn from watching movies.
  • Lise Andreasen says these are “Exactly the same things I would do!”

(12) OUTFOXED. Arturo Serrano reviews the new Pixar film for Nerds of a Feather in “’Turning Red’ finds joy in the scary messiness of puberty”.

…Disney/Pixar’s new animated movie Turning Red takes this metaphor of puberty as transformation and situates it in the no less stressful context of the immigrant experience during the rise of digital mass media. If being a teenager is hard, it’s almost unbearably so when inherited traditions and expectations conflict with multicultural openness and pop culture sex symbols. When protagonist Meilin Lee learns that the women of her family have the power to transform into enormous red pandas, it feels like it couldn’t have come at a worse time: she’s busy enough pleasing her parents and excelling at school and daydreaming about boy bands without going all Katie Ka-Boom every time she gets emotional. So she panics, and tries to hide what’s happening to her, and pretends to be in full command of her feelings—but her inner animal won’t be tamed. There’s no denying the call of nature….

(13) EFF ME. That was my reaction to the headline “Hugh Grant ‘in conversation’ to replace Jodie Whittaker as Doctor Who” at Metro News.

…Well, rumour has it the Love Actually star could be taking over from Jodie Whittaker as the Time Lord.

According to The Mirror, the BBC series could be heading for a Marvel-style makeover, with Hugh at the helm….

(14) WIN BY LOSING. “Loki Award Show Lost Saves Universe, According to Miss Minutes”Gizmodo has the story.

Awards season hit a high note this weekend as multiple guilds and groups gave awards leading up to the grand finale, the Oscars, which happen this coming Sunday. One of the biggest to do so was the Writers Guild of America—and apparently one specific category literally saved the world, at least according to a certain animated talking clock from the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

… In the Drama category, Succession was up against The Handmaid’s Tale, The Morning Show, Yellowjackets, and Marvel’s Loki. And it’s that last one we’re going to concentrate on. Showrunner and head writer Michael Waldron revealed on Twitter that, had Loki won, this is the acceptance speech the writers submitted to air.

(15) REGENCY TEA TIME. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] Aja Romano shares her appreciation for the works of Georgette Heyer and wonders why Heyer is not a household name and has never had a film or TV adaptation: “When will Hollywood discover Georgette Heyer?” at Vox. I’d say that Georgette Heyer is at least genre-adjacent, since a lot of SFF fans seem to like her and Regency romance in general. Plus, Regency dancing is a thing at many cons.

…[Jane] Austen’s relative lack of sentiment also helped her gain popularity and respect as a writer in a male-dominated century of literature. While other women writers of her time like Fanny Burney were reviled as trashy, Austen’s lack of interest in high drama and romance made her work acceptable to male readers as well as to women. One 19th-century critic wrote approvingly that “she sets her face zealously against romantic attachments.”

That patriarchal lack of respect for the art of writing about love may also explain why few outside of romance fans have ever heard of Austen’s primary successor: Georgette Heyer. Despite singlehandedly creating the modern romance, Heyer is still a niche author. And though she has nearly 10 times as many books available for cinematic adaptation as Austen, Hollywood has yet to discover her….

(16) PARALLAX VIEWS OF WESTEROS. George R.R. Martin introduces The Rise Of The Dragon” at Not A Blog and explains how it complements Fire & Blood. Sample art at the link.

We’re so excited to announce The Rise of The Dragon, a lavish visual history of House Targaryen – the iconic family at the heart of HBO’s Game of Thrones prequel series, House of the Dragon – featuring over 180 all-new illustrations!

For those of you who are wondering: What’s the difference between The Rise of the Dragon and Fire & Blood? Think of The Rise of the Dragon as a deluxe reference book, in which Westeros’ most infamous family – and their dragons – come to life in partnership with some truly incredible artists.

Fire & Blood was scribed as a grandmaesters’ account of events from Aegon Targaryen’s conquest of Westeros through to the infamous Dance of the Dragons, the civil war that nearly undid the Targaryen rule. The Rise of the Dragon will cover the same time period, but is written in a more encyclopedic style similar to The World of Ice and Fire. In fact, The World of Ice and Fire authors Elio M. García, Jr. and Linda Antonsson have returned to help with this tome. …

(17) AIRING ON THE SIDE OF CAUTION. [Item by Daniel Dern.] From the “By The Book” weekly interview in the NY Times (Sunday) Book Review section, 3/20/22, with Jeremy Denk, a question that IIRC is part of every interview:

Q: What books are on your night stand.

A: In Manhattan, my night stand has become commandeered by a CPAP machine. I chose breathing over reading.

He then goes on to list books elsewhere in his domicile(s).

(18) IT’S FOR YOU. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] The BBC shows it’s possible to walk outside with a mobile phone “as big as a walkie talkie” and make a phone call in this clip from a 1974 episode of Blue Peter.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Lise Andreasen, Olav Rokne, Daniel Dern, Cora Buhlert, 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, who calls it his Tolkien cowboy title.]

Pixel Scroll 2/25/22 Pixels, Comments, Shoggoths, That Scroll! Credentials, Nitpicks, Wrongtime Is That Scroll!

(1) PAY THE WRITER. Publishers Weekly says a New York State legislator has introduced a bill designed to upgrade protections for freelancers, including writers: “‘Freelance Isn’t Free’ Bill Introduced in New York State”.

Roughly five years after the implementation, in New York City, of the Freelance Isn’t Free Act, a local law intended to establish and enhance the rights of freelance workers—including authors, journalists, and other writers on contract—a similar law has been proposed at the state level.

On February 18, Democratic New York state senator Andrew Gounardes and assembly member Harry Bronson introduced S8369, also nicknamed “Freelance Isn’t Free,” a new bill intended to “protect contract and freelance workers from wage theft by ensuring all freelancers receive appropriate contracts for their work, are paid in a timely manner, and have state support to recoup unpaid wages.” It would, the lawmakers explained in a release, build upon the prior New York City bill, expanding the protections for freelancers state-wide.

The bill, should it become law, would also lower the threshold for mandating additional financial remediation from contractors to contract workers should the latter not be paid in a timely manner from $800 to $250. It would also make the New York State Labor Department the regulatory agency for freelancers in the state, including New York City, where, currently, the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection oversees the protection of freelancers, but has no ability to pursue legal action against delinquent contract clients….

(2) RELATED WORK. Cora Buhlert has released her latest Non-Fiction Spotlight. This one features a new biography of Robert E. Howard:  “Renegades and Rogues: The Life and Legacy of Robert E. Howard by Todd B. Vick”.

What prompted you to write this book?

The simple answer: I’ve been a fan of Robert E. Howard’s work since 1981 when, at the time, my best friend loaned me his Ace paperback copy titled, Conan, with the Frank Frazetta cover art for Howard’s story, “Rogues in the House.” The idea for a biography came to me when I purchased a copy of Glenn Lord’s work, The Last Celt back in the mid-80s. Lord’s book made me realize there were others out there who took Howard’s work a bit more seriously than the casual reader. Due to life and higher education, Howard was sidelined until I began work (mostly research) on the biography in late 2002. I am currently working on a novel….

(3) 25 BEST SFF SHOWS. Den of Geek declares these to be the “Best Sci-Fi TV Shows of the Past 15 Years”. I don’t want to spoil everything by posting their #1 – but here, let me spoil number nine…

9. The Mandalorian

Star Wars has long been a little too beholden to one particular corner of its mythology. The Skywalker Saga looms large, perhaps too large, in pop culture consciousness. Deviate too much from it, or fail to pay sufficient homage to childhood classics, at your peril. But The Mandalorian managed to deliver everything longtime fans want from Star Wars, while also making the galaxy far, far away equally appealing to those who might be experiencing it for the first time. As much a space Western or a riff on Lone Wolf and Cub as it is an actual science fiction show, The Mandalorian is every bit as cinematic as the most famous entries in the franchise, exploring deeper corners of the Star Wars universe than we’re accustomed to seeing in live action (with apologies, of course, to the brilliant Rogue One).

Alternately as episodic as the vintage movie serials that first inspired George Lucas and as intricately woven as any other prestige TV effort, it’s made all the more remarkable by the fact that it’s anchored by a riveting performance by its lead (Pedro Pascal), who spends all but moments of the show’s entire runtime so far hidden completely behind a mask. And then there’s Grogu (Baby Yoda), a character who should feel like the cloying, craven little cash grab he is who instead became an instantly (and deservedly) beloved Star Wars fixture. – Mike Cecchini

(4) NOVACON. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Novacon is Britain’s longest-running regional SF convention. Last November it held its 50th event. SF2 Concatenation has just Tweeted an advance post of a review of the 50th anniversary Novacon report ahead of its next seasonal edition that is slated for April. [The con took place November 12-14, 2021.]

There were around 250 attendees: about a quarter of those you’d get at the average Eastercon these days. Being the 50th anniversary event, the occasion was marked by a special publication, Burning Brightly, edited by Ian Whates, gathering stories generated exclusively from various Novacon publications over the decades, with work by such luminaries as Iain M Banks, Adrian ( Shards of Earth) Tchaikovsky and Stephen (Flood) Baxter among others. Each attendee received a free copy.

There were two programme streams with main hall events running parallel to fringe events in a side room, and everything was on the ground floor with easy access. (The accommodation was upstairs, served by a dreadful, slow rickety tin elevator with a mind of its own)….

(5) ASK THE D.A. “Peter Sarsgaard: ‘Have we reached superhero saturation? Probably’” answers the actor in The Guardian.

… His tendency to seem half-asleep and harmless until – snap! – he has you in his teeth, like a Venus flytrap, serves him well in the world of The Batman. Robert Pattinson plays the caped vigilante, while Sarsgaard is Gil Coulson, the shady, shaven-headed district attorney of Gotham City. “Gil is leading a double life,” he says. “He is protective of his family, but he’s involved in some things that are not legit.” The mix of sweet and sour appeals. “It creates more conflict. What if the biopic of Donald Trump showed how he made a damn good cherry pie on Thanksgiving, and sang songs with his family, but then he did all this other stuff?”…

(6) A MIRROR TO LIFE.  Two scholars and their cats announce a Call for Papers for Gardeners of the Galaxies: How Imaginary Worlds Teach Us to Care for This One by Drs. Sørina Higgins and Brenton Dickieson”.

As the climate crisis worsens, our home planet and our conversations about it are heating up–and creative writers both reflect and anticipate such concerns. Thanks to the recent ethical turn in science fiction and fantasy, many speculative works offer readers a mirror in which to view our own world. Its beauties and vulnerabilities take on special clarity through the page or the screen. A tale of terraforming another planet reminds us how precious and fragile our home world is. The perennial conflict between nature and technology comes alive when trees march to war. We find insights into healthy, diverse communities by spending time with characters in a fellowship–or on a starship….

(7) HENRY LINCOLN (1930-2022). Doctor Who writer Henry Lincoln has died at the age of 91. Doctor Who News paid tribute.

Henry Lincoln was the last surviving writer to have worked on Doctor Who in the 1960s. He wrote three Doctor Who stories, co-creating The Yeti and the character Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart. 

…In the 1960s he formed a writing partnership with Mervyn Haisman and together they were commissioned to write a six-part story for the second Doctor. The result was The Abominable Snowmen which saw the Doctor, Jamie and Victoria battle The Great Intelligence and their robot servants The Yeti. The story was so successful the team was immediately commissioned to write a sequel, this time bringing the Yeti into the claustrophobic world of the London Underground in The Web of Fear.

The story introduced a new character in the form of Colonel Lethbridge-Stewart played by Nicholas Courtney. Not only was the story highly regarded but the new character caught the imagination of the producers and would return the following year, albeit with a promotion, and become a regular throughout the Pertwee years. 

Henry Lincoln and Mervyn Haisman’s third outing with the Doctor was not so successful. Their six-part story, The Dominators would cause a permanent rift with the BBC following an argument over who owned the characters The Quarks. The story was rewritten and reduced to five episodes resulting in the writers asking for their names to be removed from the credits. The story was transmitted under the pseudonym Norman Ashby. …

(8) GEORGE OLSHEVSKY (1946–2021). Artist George Olshevsky died in December of Covid, according to an announcement by SDCC’s Jackie Estrada on Facebook. A profile of his work for Marvel can be found on the Marvel Database.

…Graduate of M.I.T. Olshevksy indexed all of the Marvel Comics major titles in the 1970’s and Early 80’s. This quite extensive project also employed Lou Mougin and many others. Olshevksy was also aided by a complete personal collection of Marvel Comics….

(9) MEMORY LANE.

2019 [Item by Cat Eldridge] Two of my favorite individuals, Charles de Lint, who would later win a World Fantasy Lifetime Achievement Award, and Charles Vess, who received a Hugo at Dublin 2019 for Best Professional Artist and a World Fantasy Award for Best Artist. collaborated on The Cats of Tanglewood Forest, a follow-up to their A Circle of Cats

Fourteen years ago, it would win the Sunburst Award for Excellence in Canadian Literature of the Fantastic, an award that until this moment I’d not heard of. My bad for not knowing of this award. 

If you’ve not encountered this novel, it’s considered a young adult work but I’d recommend for anyone interested in a good read grounded in Appalachia folklore with the fantastic artwork of Vess profusely illustrating it. You can read the Green Man review here. And here’s our review for A Circle of Cats as well. I’ve got one of his signed prints for A Circle of Cats in my apartment.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born February 25, 1909 Edgar Pangborn. For the first twenty years of his career, he wrote myriad stories for the pulp magazines, but always under pseudonyms. It wasn’t until the Fifties that he published in his own name in Galaxy Science Fiction and The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. Ursula Le Guin has credited him with her realizing it is possible to write humanly emotional stories in an SF setting. And yes, I know he wrote Davy. (Died 1976.)
  • Born February 25, 1917 Anthony Burgess. I know I’ve seen and read A Clockwork Orange many, many years ago. I think I even took a University class on it as well. Scary book, weird film.  I’ll admit that I’m not familiar with the Enderby series having not encountered them before now. Opinions please. (Died 1993.)
  • Born February 25, 1964 Lee Evans, 58. He’s in The History of Mr Polly as Alfred Polly which is based on a 1910 comic novel by H. G. Wells. No, not genre, but sort of adjacent genre as some of you are fond of saying.
  • Born February 25, 1968 A. M. Dellamonica, 54. A Canadian writer who has published over forty rather brilliant short since the Eighties. Her first novel, Indigo Springs, came out just a decade ago but she now has five novels published with her latest being The Nature of a Pirate. Her story, “Cooking Creole” can be heard here at Pod Castle 562. It was in Mojo: Conjure Stories, edited by Nalo Hopkinson.
  • Born February 25, 1971 Sean Astin, 51. His genre roles include Samwise Gamgee in the Rings trilogy, Mikey Walsh in The Goonies, and Bob Newby in the second season of Stranger Things. He also shows up in Justice League: War and in Justice League: Throne of Atlantis films voicing both aspects of Shazam, a difficult role to pull off. He reprises that role on the Justice League Action series. 
  • Born February 25, 1973 Anson Mount, 49. He was Black Bolt in Marvel’s Inhumans series. He now has a recurring role as Captain Christopher Pike, a role he first played on Discovery, and which he will reprise on Strange New Worlds this year.  I see he was in Visions, a horror film, and has had appearances on LostDollhouse and Smallville.

(11) JEOPARDY! Sure, you’ll get it. But Andrew Porter saw a contestant miss it on tonight’s episode of Jeopardy!

Final Jeopardy; category: Awards

Answer: These awards have a retro version & winners include the novel “The Sword in the Stone” and “The War of the Worlds” radio broadcast

Wrong question: What are the Webbies?

Right question: What are the Hugo Awards?

(12) VASTER THAN EMPIRES. [Item by Daniel Dern.] “Largest Bacterium Ever Discovered Has An Unexpectedly Complex Cell”Slashdot has the story.

A newly described bacterium living in the Caribbean “is visible to the naked eye, growing up to 2 centimeters — as long as a peanut — and 5,000 times bigger than many other microbes,” writes Elizabeth Pennisi via Science.org.

(Cue Christine Lavin singing “The Amoeba Hop”.)

(13) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Not only can you play Lego Star Wars in “mumble mode,” but your inner eight-year-old will love that you can turn off the weapons noises and replace them with human sounds! “LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga – Behind the Scenes”.

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

Pixel Scroll 9/27/21 A Pixel Scroll Title That Turns Out To Have Been Used Before

(1) B5. Variety reports J. Michael Straczynski is working on bringing back his keynote show: “’Babylon 5′ Reboot in Development at The CW From Original Creator”.

… Original series creator J. Michael Straczynski is onboard to write the project. He will also executive producer under his Studio JMS banner. Warner Bros. Television, which produced the original series, will produce the reboot.

The new iteration of the sci-fi series is described as a “from-the-ground-up reboot.” In the series, John Sheridan, an Earthforce officer with a mysterious background, is assigned to Babylon 5, a five-mile-long space station in neutral space, a port of call for travelers, smugglers, corporate explorers and alien diplomats at a time of uneasy peace and the constant threat of war. His arrival triggers a destiny beyond anything he could have imagined, as an exploratory Earth company accidentally triggers a conflict with a civilization a million years ahead of us, putting Sheridan and the rest of the B5 crew in the line of fire as the last, best hope for the survival of the human race.

Which all makes sense of Straczynski’s cryptic tweet of two weeks ago.

(2) LDV NEWS. Today Straczynski also tweeted a brief update about the status of Last Dangerous Visions.

(3) TWO TO TANGO. James Davis Nicoll is there “When Authors Collide: Five SFF Works of Collaborative Fiction” at Tor.com.

The writing of prose is often depicted as a solitary activity, an occupation suited to hermits sealed into poorly lit garrets, sliding their manuscripts out under their front door, receiving flat food under the same door. Now this can be a perfectly functional approach to writing…but it is not the only one…..

(4) READERCON. The Readercon committee announced the next con will be in 2023. Rose Fox will be interim con chair leading their “year of renovation.” Readercon 32 Moved to July 13–16, 2023.

There will be no Readercon in 2022. But don’t panic! We’re not going anywhere! We just need some time to recharge and get our house in order.

The last two years have been a doozy for everyone. We all need some rest. And Readercon as an organization needs an opportunity to revamp back-end processes, update and streamline old systems, and recruit new volunteers to fill key positions. Just as you can’t fix your car’s brakes while you’re driving, we can’t make all those changes at the same time as putting on a convention. So after much behind-the-scenes discussion, we’re officially taking 2022 as a Renovation Year!…

(5) CORFLU. The convention for fanzine fans, Corflu 39 Pangloss, still aspires to run on its March 18-20, 2022 date – and toward that end has published Progress Report #1 with all the info about venue, membership, and who’s on the committee.

We live in parlous times. There is great confusion under heaven, and the conditions are excellent.  Which is to say, thanks to border closures, travel restrictions, economic wobbles, and ongoing pandemic uncertainty, much of what we can tell you about Corflu 39 is aspirational, provisional, or pending better data with the unfolding of future events.  But we step out in hope, and choose to be optimistic that all our Corflu wishes will come true.  Thus, Corflu Pangloss….

(6) CITY PICKS BUTLER BOOK. The city of South Pasadena (CA) has voted its One City One Story book for 2021 – Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler. The South Pasadena Public Library will hold an in-person discussion on October 21 and a Zoom discussion on November 10 – register at the links.

One City One Story is the South Pasadena Public Library’s Citywide Reading Program. Community voting took place for a title from September 1-10. The winning book, Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler, was announced on September 27. We encourage South Pasadenans to read it to engage with this year’s theme, “Navigating Nature”. Dive even deeper with community discussions and themed programs.

(7) BANKS TV ADAPTATION PLANNED. Producer Matthew James Wilkinson (Yesterday) is teaming up with Poldark and Endeavour exec producer Tom Mullens on a TV adaptation of The Business by Iain Banks – Deadline has the story: “’Poldark’ & ‘Yesterday’ Producers Team For Iain Banks Adaptation”.

The Business follows Kate Telman, a working-class Glaswegian who has risen through the ranks to become a senior executive in a secretive super-corporation, known only as The Business. Telman discovers that The Business is planning to buy a small country in order to secure a seat on the UN and that, despite the benevolent image and democratic structure it presents to the world, the company will stop at nothing to increase its influence. So begins a dangerous personal reckoning as Telman travels the globe from Scotland to the Swiss Alps, the American Midwest, Pakistan and the Himalayas, determined to uncover the conspiracy at the heart of the shady company she works for.

…Mullens and Wilkinson said: “We are thrilled to have the opportunity to adapt Iain Banks’ wickedly satirical The Business for television. As relevant today as when it was first published, we look forward to honouring Iain’s work with a powerful, entertaining thriller.”

(8) THE EFFECTS THAT WON THE AWARDS. This ILM look at season 2 of The Mandalorian dropped last week: “The Emmy-Winning Special Visual Effects Of The Mandalorian: Season 2”.

Join Visual Effects Supervisor, Richard Bluff, as he shares a peek behind the curtain of the effects of The Mandalorian: Season 2, winner of 7 Emmy® Awards including Special Visual Effects, Sound Mixing, Cinematography, Prosthetic Makeup, Stunt Coordination, Stunt Performance, and Music Composition. For its sophomore outing, Lucasfilm’s hit Disney+ series built upon the groundbreaking technical and artistic achievements accomplished during season one, combining traditional methodologies, with ever-advancing new technologies. The team also increased the physical size of the ILM StageCraft LED Volume which would again be used for over half of all scenes. This season also marked the debut of ILM’s state-of-the-art real-time cinema render engine called, Helios. The high-resolution, high-fidelity engine was used for all final pixel rendering displayed on the LED screens and offers unmatched performance for the types of complex scenes prevalent in today’s episodic and feature film production. Practical creature effects have been a vital part of the aesthetic and charm of the Star Wars universe since 1977, and for season two, the effects team realized over 100 puppeteered creatures, droids, and animatronic masks, which included the beloved Tatooine Bantha, realized as a ten foot-high puppeteered rideable creature. Practical miniatures and motion control photography were used once again for scale model ships, as well as miniature set extensions built for use in ILM’s StageCraft LED volume. Stop motion animation was also utilized for the Scrap Walker at the Karthon Chop Fields. The greater krayt dragon on Tatooine was realized as a six-hundred-foot computer-generated creature that would swim shark-like through the sand environment by way of a liquefaction effect, wherein the sand would behave like water.

(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • 1964 – Fifty-seven years ago this evening on CBS, My Living Doll, a SF comedy, first aired. Another production of the Desilu Studios, My Living Doll was rather unusual in that it was purchased by the network without any pilot at the request of CBS’s president, due to the success of Chertok’s previous series, My Favorite Martian. The series starred Bob Cummings as Dr. Bob McDonald, a psychiatrist who is given care of Rhoda Miller, an android who was played by Julie Newmar who would later be Catwoman on Batman. Unlike My Favorite Martian which ran three seasons and over a hundred episodes, it would last a single season of twenty six episodes. It is available on DVD but not on streaming services. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 27, 1927 — Martin Caidin. His best-known novel is Cyborg which was the basis for The Six Million Dollar Man franchise. He wrote two novels in the Indiana Jones franchise and one for the Buck Rogers franchise as well. He wrote myriad other sf novels. The Six Million Dollar Man film was nominated for a Hugo at Discon II which Woody Allen’s Sleeper won, and Marooned was nominated at Heicon ’70 when TV Coverage of Apollo XI was chosen for the Best Dramatic Presentation Hugo. (Died 1997.)
  • Born September 27, 1932 — Roger Charles Carmel. The original Harcourt Fenton “Harry” Mudd as he appeared in two episodes of the original Star Trek, “Mudd’s Women” and “I, Mudd” and one episode of the animated series as well, “Mudd’s Passion.” I say original because Discovery has decided that they have a Harry Mudd too. He also had one-offs on I-SpyMunstersThe Man from U.N.C.L.E.Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea and Batman. It is rumored but cannot be confirmed that he was going to reprise his role as Harry Mudd in a first-season episode of Next Gen but died before filming could start. (Died 1986.)
  • Born September 27, 1934 — Wilford Brimley. His first genre role was as Dr. Blair in John Carpenter’s The Thing. He’s Benjamin ‘Ben’ Luckett in the Cocoon films, and Agency Director Harold Smith in Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins. He made a rather splendid President Grover Cleveland in The Wild Wild West Revisted. And finally I note that he was Noa in Ewoks: The Battle for Endor. (Died 2020.)
  • Born September 27, 1947 — Meat Loaf, 74. He has a rather tasty role as Eddie in The Rocky Horror Picture Show.  He also has film roles in Wishcraft (horror), Stage Fright (horror) and Urban Decay (yes more horror). He’s also in BloodRayne which is yes, horror. He’s had one-offs on Tales from the CryptThe Outer LimitsMonstersMasters of Horror and was Doug Rennie, a main cast member of Ghost Wars. I think one of his songs, particularly the video version, “I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)” qualifies as genre. 
  • Born September 27, 1956 — Sheila Williams, 65. Editor, Asimov’s Science Fiction, the past fifteen years. She won the Hugo Award for Best Short Form Editor at Renovation and Chicon 7. (She’s nominated this year again.) With the late Gardner Dozois, she co-edited a bonnie bunch of anthologies such as Isaac Asimov’s RobotsIsaac Asimov’s Christmas and Isaac Asimov’s Cyberdreams. She was also responsible for the Isaac Asimov Award for Undergraduate Excellence in Science Fiction and Fantasy writing being renamed the Dell Magazines Award for Undergraduate Excellence in Science Fiction and Fantasy Writing.
  • Born September 27, 1966 — David Bishop, 55. In Nineties, he edited the UK Judge Dredd Megazine (1991–2002) and 2000 AD (1995–2000). He wrote a number of Dredd, Warhammer and Who novels including the Who novel Who Killed Kennedy which is a popular Third Doctor story.  He’s written Big Finish stories in the DreddSarah Jane and Who lines. Dredd audio drams. Huh.
  • Born September 27, 1970 — Tamara Taylor, 51. Best remembered I’d say as Camille Saroyan in Bones which is at least genre adjacent being connect to Sleepy Hollow. Genre wise, she was in season seven of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. as the primary antagonist, Sibyl. She also appeared in Lost, as the former girlfriend of Michael and mother of Walt, Susan Lloyd. And she has a brief appearance in the Serenity film just listed as Teacher.

(11) TONY AWARDS. The American Theater Wing presented its Tony Awards over the weekend. A Christmas Carol won five of them.  “Tony Awards: The Full List Of Winners”.

(12) DUCK! There’s four days left to bid on the original “Duck with a Pearl Earring” by Omar Rayyan, offered by Last Week Tonight with John Oliver with all proceeds going to benefit U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Bidding was up to $16,351 last I looked.

This is an original oil on paper painting, commissioned by Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.

The painting was entered in the 2021 Federal Duck Stamp Art Contest, in which the winning entry is turned into a duck stamp and sold to raise funds for conserving the nation’s wetlands and other wildlife habitats. It is a take on a classic painting, Girl with a Pearl Earring. But there is one significant difference between the two works of art: ours is good, because it is a duck.

Shockingly this masterpiece did not win, but you can still help conserve habitats for birds and other wildlife in our National Wildlife Refuge System by bidding on the painting here.

(13) START AGAIN. “New Limits Give Chinese Video Gamers Whiplash” reports the New York Times.

China’s video game industry is booming. But it sure doesn’t feel that way to Stone Shi, a game designer in China.

Mr. Shi, 27, got his first job in 2018, when Beijing temporarily suspended approval of new games. The next year, the government placed new limits on minors’ playing time. A few weeks ago, the rules got stricter still. People under 18 can now play just three hours a week, during prescribed times on weekends.

“We never hear any good news about the gaming industry,” Mr. Shi said. “We have this joke, ‘Each time this happens, people say it’s doomsday for the video game industry.’ So we say, ‘Every day is doomsday.’”

That’s a bit of an exaggeration. Mr. Shi remains employed and hundreds of millions of Chinese continue to play games each day. Minors still find ways around government blocks. Chinese tech companies, like Tencent, are cornerstones of the global gaming industry. The country has also been quick to embrace competitive gaming, building e-sports stadiums and enabling college students to major in the topic.

(14) MUSH-A-BOOM. Jaya Saxena takes the opening of the Ratatouille ride at Walt Disney World on October 1 as the excuse for a culinary experiment: “Disney Made Me Do It: The Lightning Mushroom From ‘Ratatouille’” at Eater.

…Remy is, of course, an animated talking rat, and this is a movie that presumes, among other things, that a human body is an elaborate marionette operated by hair. I know the lightning cheese mushroom is not realistic. But it looked so enticing, like a crunchy balloon, or like if Eleven Madison Park made a Cheeto. I would very much like to taste an exploded mushroom. So to that end, I nearly set my house on fire.

…There aren’t many recipes for applying lightning to mushrooms, but some people have tried to approximate what this might taste like. My first attempt at distilling the flavor of a storm came from Disney itself, which published a recipe for “Lightning-y Mushrooms” adapted from Fiction-Food Café. Already I saw a problem, though: This recipe calls for fresh, spreadable chevre, which is whipped with herbs and honey and stuffed into mushroom caps. But in the film, Remy is enthralled to find not fresh chevre, but Tomme de Chevre, a semisoft cheese with a grey rind that’s been aged for at least seven weeks. I opted to follow in Remy’s footsteps, and ad-lib where I could.

…I decided I needed to employ some actual electricity. But short of sticking a mushroomed fork in a socket and hoping I didn’t die, I had no idea what to do. So I called Chris Young, co-author of Modernist Cuisine, hoping he had come across something like this in his experiments.

Young explained what I was trying to do is called ohmic cooking, which is actually quite common, especially in the dairy industry. Picture how a power cord plugged into a wall tends to heat up. That’s because it’s a conductor for the electricity, and because a wire is not a perfect conductor, the resistance begins to generate heat. The same thing can happen with food when you essentially make the food the wire…. 

(15) ACRONYMS. Brought to you by Harvard.edu, “Dumb Or Overly Forced Astronomical Acronyms Site (or DOOFAAS)”. This is the kind of thing we’re talking about:

SMIRFSSub Millimeter InfraRed Fiber-feed System (or something)
SMOGSpitzer Mapping of the Outer Galaxy
SMUDGESSystematic Multiwavelength Unbiased catalog of Dwarf Galaxies and Evolution of Structure 

(16) TRAILER TIME. Netflix dropped a trailer for its animated series Arcane.

From the creators of League of Legends comes a new animated series, Arcane. Set in the utopian region of Piltover and the oppressed underground of Zaun, the story follows the origins of two iconic League champions-and the power that will tear them apart.

And while I’m not that wowed by the trailer for Muppets Haunted Mansion people keep sending me the link, so what do I know?

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Chris Barkley, Marc Criley, Michael J. Walsh, Daniel Dern, Jerry Kaufman, Bill Burns, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Michael Toman, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]

Pixel Scroll 9/3/21 If It Doesn’t Scroll Naturally, File It

(1) MASSIVE DOCTOR WHO POLL. Herald of Creation today finished releasing the results of its poll of the best Doctor Who episodes, a Twitter marathon that began in July with number 296 “The Battle of Ranskoor av Kolos” (a Thirteenth Doctor episode, unfortunately.) Here are the top five, with apologies that WordPress won’t display single tweets. (And since Herald of Creation revealed them in last to first order, that shuffles things up, too.)

(2) ELIZABETH BEAR MEDICAL UPDATE. In an open Patreon post, Elizabeth Bear announced she’s been diagnosed with cancer: “The good news is that I’m a writer and I already own 75 pairs of pajamas.” Wishing her the best of care.

This is one of those bad news but not the worst news posts, which is to say that I’ve been diagnosed with early stage breast cancer and am in the process of scheduling surgery and radiation for it.

This means that The Folded Sky will probably be a little delayed, because at least two months of my life are going to vanish in a puff of waiting rooms and lasers. The good news on that front is that I’m working on the copy edits for The Origin of Storms right now and those should be handed back very soon. And I think I’ll get the short story I’m working on finished by deadline, too…

Don’t fret about me too much: I’ve got a great care team and a great group of local family and friends, and the odds are in my favor. The survival rate for early detected breast cancer is 99% these days.

I expect to be crushingly bored and annoyed and somewhat terrified for three months or so, and then suffer through biannual mammograms for the rest of my life, however long that is….

(3) MEMORY BOOK. A Kickstarter appeal has been launched to fund a limited edition hardcover book of art by the world famous fantasy and science fiction artist, Rowena — Paintings and Drawings by Rowena by Kim DeMulder.

The magically amazing artwork of Rowena is known to people everywhere in the world. She painted literally hundreds of book covers and illustrations for many different publications. She won many awards during her career, including the British Fantasy Award for Best Artist in 1984, and was a four-time Hugo finalist for Best Professional Artist. Her professional peers made her a 1999 Chesley Award nominee. And the World Fantasy Conventions awarded her a lifetime achievement award in 2020.

Sadly, Rowena passed away in February 2021 and the art world experienced a profound loss.

And that means, of course that there will be no more Rowena art produced…ever. However, legends never die and here is the opportunity to keep her legend alive. This new book of her artwork contains many pieces that were never published before. And will also include several pieces that were never published in Rowena’s previous art books. Over 100 pages of paintings and drawings and even some poetry are contained within this hard cover volume.

 This beautiful book is being lovingly designed and edited by Kim DeMulder, who had lived with Rowena for approximately the last 18 years.

(4) DOES YOUR CON NEED HELP? Speculative Literature Foundation is still taking applications for their Convention Support Grants.  It’s a rolling grant – the first recipients were announced last month.

This has been a difficult year for the conventions that have long been the lifeblood of our field. The SLF is pleased to announce a new Convention Support Grant for 2021-2022.

We’ll be giving out $10,000 over the course of the year, in grants of $500 – $1000 each, to science fiction and fantasy conventions. (Literary conventions that have significant speculative literature content are also welcome to apply.)

These grants are intended to support conventions both in developing their online presences (through the purchase of tech, training costs, hosting costs, etc.) and making in-person gathering safer once it’s appropriate, perhaps in the last quarter of 2021 (through purchase of cleaning supplies, masks, renting additional rooms for better spacing, etc.). Non-profit organizations preferred.

Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis. Open for submissions: Conventions taking place between January 1 and May 31, 2022, application period: August 15 – September 15, 2021

Please visit our website for more specific information on the application process: https://speculativeliterature.org/convention-support-grant/

(5) L’AUDACE L’AUDACE TOUJOURS L’AUDACE. “The French military’s newest weapon: science fiction writers” says Literary Hub.

…Essentially, reports Le Monde and WorldCrunch, the French Military of Defense is working with the University of Paris Sciences and Lettres to train their military on sci-fi-esque ideas. The science fiction writers, already in the business of thinking of futuristic technology and social innovations, come up with futuristic scenarios that could possibly endanger France between 2030 and 2060. Once the sci-fi writers, called the “Red Team,” fact-check with “The Purple Team,” academics working in AI and tech, and the “Blue Team,” military, the military uses those ideas as practice scenarios.

…A little surprisingly, a fraction of the scenarios are made available for public consumption on the Red Team’s website; the two scenarios currently on the site are “The Sublime Door Opens Again,” a world where hypervelocity missiles have caused armies to design shields that can cover a whole city, and “Chronicle of an Announced Cultural Death,” a world where communities have siloed themselves into “safe spheres”.

The Red Team also has a YouTube channel filled with what are essentially commercials for themselves.

(6) IN A HOLE IN THE GROUND. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster, Designated Financial Times Reader.] In the August 28 Financial Times (behind a paywall), Lorien Kite discusses a vacation she took with her family in Iceland, organized by Black Tomato “Take me on a Story” based on Jules Verne’s Journey To The Centre Of The Earth.

The action begins almost as soon as we make it through the melee of duty-free shopping and Covid-related bureaucracy at Keflavik arrivals only to be greeted by our guide for the next four days, Arnar Olafsson.  Outside, loading the vehicle, we find an envelope wedged under the windscreen wiper, which opens to reveal a letter with certain words rendered in Scandinavian runes together with part of a runic-to-roman key–though not a big enough part for us to make much headway. Later, after we are dropped off at our base for the first two days, the stylish Hotel Husafell near the Lankjokull glacier, a parcel including the missing section is delivered to our door.

The packages keep coming, all containing puzzles or messages that whet the appetite for the next day’s activities and sustain the narrative of a mysterious uncle with the initials “GH” who has discovered a way to the centre of the Earth and is now on the run:  It’s a kind of treasure hunt, borrowing from the 1959 and 2008 films as well as from the book.

(7) DHALGREN IN DEPTH. On Samuel R. Delany’s Dhalgren, edited by Bill Wood, and put together with a great deal of assistance from Delany himself, will be released by Fantastic Books on September 9.

This book—full of reviews, critical essays, and in-depth analyses of Dhalgren as a novel, and as commentary on life and the world—is an excellent companion to the novel itself. There are also discussions of how to read the novel, and clues to unraveling some of the mysteries hidden therein. Dhalgren is a difficult novel to read—playing with the reader’s perception through the use of circular text, interior echoes, multistable perception, and repeated imagery—but it is a worthwhile read. The book includes nine full-color illustrations (and more spot black-and-white illos), as well as an essay on “The Making of Hogg,” Delany’s infamous and nearly unpublishable novel.

Samuel R. Delany is the winner of two Hugos and four Nebula Awards. He has been honored with lifetime achievement awards, including SFWA’s Grand Master, the Eaton Award, the Lambda Pilgrim Award, and the Gaylactic Spectrum Award, and was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame. Dhalgren, his most popular and most controversial novel, was first published in 1975. It was nominated for the Nebula Award, remains in print to this day, and has sold close to two one million copies in a variety of editions.

Contributors include Douglas Barbour, Mary Kay Bray, Rudi Dornemann, Harlan Ellison, Robert Elliot Fox, Jean Marc Gawron, Kenneth R. James, Gerald Jonas, John Nizalowski, Steven Paley, Darrell Schweitzer, Steven Shaviro, K. Leslie Steiner, Theodore Sturgeon, and Samuel R. Delany himself.

The table of contents is on the publisher’s website.

(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • 2003 – Eighteen years on this date, Seven Seasons of Buffy: Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Discuss Their Favorite Television Show was published by BenBella Books. It’s a look by Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel by genre writers who are very obviously fans of those series. I won’t list all of the authors and their essays who are here so I’ll single out just a few such as David Brin who wrote “Buffy vs. the Old-Fashioned ‘Hero'”, Laura Resnick’s “The Good, the Bad, and the Ambivalent” and Sherrilyn Kenyon “The Search for Spike’s Balls”. It’s available should you want to read it from the usual suspects for a mere four dollars and ninety nine cents. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 3, 1940 — Pauline Collins, 81. She played Queen Victoria in the Tenth Doctor story, “Tooth and Claw”, a most excellent tale, but she first showed up on Who over thirty years earlier as Samantha Briggs in “The Faceless Ones”, a Second Doctor story. She’s appears in Tales of the UnexpectedThe Three Musketeers, Julian Fellowes’ From Time to Time film and the Merlin series. 
  • Born September 3, 1943 — Valerie Perrine, 78. She has an uncredited role as Shady Tree’s sidekick in Diamonds Are Forever, her first film appearance. Her first credited film role is as Montana Wildhack in Slaughterhouse-Five. She’s Eve Teschmacher in Superman and Superman II. She showed up as Tins in “The Three Little Pigs” episode of Faerie Tale Theatre, and was April Flowers in “Who’s Who: Part 3” of Ghostwriters.
  • Born September 3, 1943 — Mick Farren. Punk musician who was the singer with the proto-punk band the Deviants. He also wrote Hawkwind lyrics who several genre writers have included in their novels.  His most well-known genre work was the The Renquist Quartet about an immortal vampire. His late Eighties novel The Armageddon Crazy was set in a post-Millennium States dominated by fundamentalists who toss the Constitution away. (Died 2013.)
  • 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 toxoplasmosis, complicated by AIDS to be precise. (Died 1989.)
  • Born September 3, 1969 — John Picacio, 52. 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 won the Hugo for Best Professional Artist at LoneStarCon 3 and at CoNZealand. He’s nominated this year for the same Award. 
  • Born September 3, 1974 — Clare Kramer, 47. She had the recurring role of Glory, a god 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 IIIThe GravedancersThe ThirstRoad to HellRoad to Hell, Big Ass Spider! and Tales of Halloween

(10) COMICS SECTION.

(11) SUSANNA CLARKE Q&A. “Susanna Clarke: ‘Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman taught me to be courageous in writing’” in The Guardian.

The book I wish I’d written
The Man Who Was Thursday by GK Chesterton. It’s an extraordinary novel, funny and clever. It is subtitled A Nightmare. But it’s an odd sort of nightmare – one where terror keeps dissolving into cheerfulness (which is the opposite way round from most nightmares, and from a lot of contemporary fiction). Chesterton describes scenes and objects and colours with an almost heraldic vividness – or, looked at another way, as if they were pages in a modern graphic novel. He makes London feel like a fairytale, which to him I think it was. I have read The Man Who Was Thursday many, many times, but I still don’t understand it. I’ll keep going.

A word of warning: it is a book of its times. There are no women characters. Well, there might be one, but she says three things and vanishes immediately….

(12) DUELING KAIJU. John Scalzi’s tweet  brings to mind something I saw during the 1986 Worldcon, possibly in the same hotel. (How many downtown Atlanta hotels have these glass-walled elevators?)  Quote follows.

…At other times, the illusion of flight and the view of other elevator cars hurtling past inspired new fannish stunts. Late Friday night the car I was riding stopped at the 38th floor, admitting Jerry Pournelle and Barbara Clifford. Seconds later, another car stopped beside us on the 38th floor. Staring from its window was a 3-foot-tall inflatable Godzilla held upright by two laughing fans. Both elevators left the 38th floor together, and raced downward on a parallel course. Like a tailgunner sighting bogies through his perspex dome, Pournelle jackhammered his arms from the recoil of imaginary twin-.50s and yelled, “Die, monster, die!” Godzilla’s bodyguards imitated Jerry and they shot each other down into the lobby….

(13) MORE NEWS. Petréa Mitchell returns to the con reporting field with the launch of her new Substack newsletter SMOF News. Issue 1 is live here.

SMOF News aims to be a newsletter covering fan conventions and related topics of interest. Please send your press releases, your news tidbits, and your outraged letters to [email protected].

Each issue will have 4 parts:

  1. Discussion of the big news of the week. If there is no big news, the space will be filled by editorializing, helpful tips for congoers, Q&As, or whatever else seems appropriate to the moment. Like this introduction, for instance.
  2. News in brief from around the convention world.
  3. Convention listings for the next five weekends.
  4. One interesting link that may or may not have anything at all to do with geek fandoms.

Newsletters will be published every Wednesday evening, Pacific Time.

(14) OCTOTHORPE. Episode 39 of the Octothorpe podcast is now up.  John Coxon, Alison Scott, and Liz Batty are at their computers for the first time in ages, and spend awhile catching up on locs before talking about convention COVID-19 policies. Listen here: “Bar Cookies”.

(15) HOME WEET HOME. “Meet The Women Who Live In Real-Life Disney Houses” is an aggregation of Instagrams and Tik-Tok videos with framing comments at The Refinery, if you want to satisfy your curiosity.

On TikTok, the hashtag #disneyhouse currently has over 120 million views. Here, you can see everything from handles shaped like the talking doorknob in Alice In Wonderland to princess beds to Aladdin rugs to doors decaled to look like Boo’s from Monsters, Inc. In recent years, much has been made of ‘Disney adults’ – often childless millennials with an all-consuming love of Walt’s wares. Disney adults subtly dress like Disney characters, they holiday in the parks multiple times a year and they fill their homes with Disney décor. 

(16) TEN PERCENTER. Powell’s Books has picked a list of 50 Books for 50 Years. I’ve read five. (Sometime I’m going to make my own list so for once I can have a good score.)

Which books have foretold the present, lit our paths, warned us back, egged us on? What books stand with us now, reflecting the present?

Read why we picked each of these remarkable volumes of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and comics for our anniversary list — and share your favorites with us using the hashtag #50Books50Years.

(Click for larger image.)

(17) MADE OF CHEESE. The moon, maybe, the movie for sure. Moonfall comes to theaters February 4, 2022.

In Moonfall, a mysterious force knocks the Moon from its orbit around Earth and sends it hurtling on a collision course with life as we know it. With mere weeks before impact and the world on the brink of annihilation, NASA executive and former astronaut Jo Fowler (Academy Award® winner Halle Berry) is convinced she has the key to saving us all – but only one astronaut from her past, Brian Harper (Patrick Wilson, “Midway”) and a conspiracy theorist K.C. Houseman (John Bradley, “Game of Thrones”) believes her. These unlikely heroes will mount an impossible last-ditch mission into space, leaving behind everyone they love, only to find out that our Moon is not what we think it is.

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Mark Hamill talks to Star Wars Coffee about his role in The Mandalorian. This is actually quite interesting and only four minutes long.

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Ian Randal Strock, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Jack Lint. Or Kendall. I’m not sure.]

Pixel Scroll 8/8/21 It Is Pitch Black. You Are Likely To Be Pixeled By A Scroll

(1) EMERGENCY HOLOGRAPHIC CAPTAIN. Slashfilm rounds up everything they can find out about Nickolodeon’s “’Star Trek: Prodigy’ Season 1: Release Date, Cast and More”.

…Prodigy will be a kids-oriented show revolving around a group of alien teens who attempt to get away with stealing a Starfleet vessel of their very own, the U.S.S. Protostar. In a fun surprise for older fans, Captain Janeway from the Star Trek: Voyager series will appear as a hologram throughout this show, guiding the teens along their many adventures to the stars….

Pictured: Art for Star Trek: Prodigy . Photo Cr: Nickelodeon/Paramount+ ©2021, All Rights Reserved.

(2) STEER CLEAR. A Starfleet Academy series is also in development. Fansided’s Chad Porto is adamant that “Star Trek series based around Starfleet Academy should avoid these ideas”. From the middle of his list —

The third idea is about Worf. Dang-it. Walked into that one. Do you want to see more Worf? You do? Do you want to see more Worf but not played by Michael Dorn!? Wait, where did everyone go!? No one wants to see it. Don’t do it. No more prequels. I feel like Edna Mode in The Incredibles. No prequels!

(3) HOLLYWOOD AUTO CREATOR GOING AWAY. “Holy hot wheels, Batman! Iconic auto shop site is for sale” reports the LA Times.

A foundation stone of Southern California car culture is about to be dislodged: The North Hollywood home of Barris Kustom Industries — birthplace of the Batmobile, the Munster Koach and a thousand other custom cars — is for sale.

The 10,000-square-foot commercial property, on an 18,000-square-foot corner lot, is offered at $3.995 million and is almost certainly destined for redevelopment.

The package includes the showroom that still houses a Batmobile; the garages where brothers George and Sam Barris did custom body work for celebrities including Elvis Presley, Elton John and Cassandra Peterson, a.k.a. Elvira, Mistress of the Dark; and even the spray booth where “kustom kolors” concocted by George were applied to cars driven by James Dean, John Wayne and ventriloquist Jeff Dunham, for whom Barris built a Bat Smart Car….

(4) IS IT A HOARD? Even if it is, calling the lot a collection sounds like good customer relations. Chuck Rozanki of Denver’s MileHiComics announced he has acquired another mountain of inventory. You should see the pictures: “Chuck Buys Another Huge Collection!”

I have just left California, and entered Nevada through Reno. I spent all day yesterday hauling 400 cases of toys, books, comics, and all sorts of pop-culture collectibles from a huge house on top of a mountain in Oroville, California. When you take a look at the sheer mass of material that I picked up, this ends up being the largest private collection that I have ever purchased. Of even greater importance is that this collection is incredibly diverse, as the gentleman who put it together was a thrift store devotee for the past 40 years, shopping pretty much every day on his lunch break. He picked up an amazing array of fun pop culture collectibles.

In case you are wondering, yes, this is the same collection that I mentioned back in June that I was going to return to pick up in California. There was so much material that it took six weeks for it to all get packed up. When I finished unpacking my two truckloads, I ended up with 13 full pallets out at FedEx, which is about 20,000 pounds. I have at least another thousand pounds in my cargo van, including a mint-in-box customized bicycle that was painted by the same guys who do the custom motorcycles down in LA. The last one sold on eBay for $4000…

(5) MARKIE POST (1950-2021). Actress Markie Post died August 7 reports Deadline.  

…Her first acting credits came in 1979, with appearances on episodes of … The Incredible HulkThe Lazarus SyndromeBuck Rogers in the 25th Century… 

She’d later appear in series such as The Love Boat, … Fantasy Island and The A-Team, before landing the role of bail bondswoman Terri Michaels in ABC’s The Fall Guy. She appeared in 65 episodes of that action drama between 1982 and 1985. Post was also a series regular on NBC’s Night Court, portraying public defender Christine Sullivan for 159 episodes between 1985 and 1992. 

(6) BRAD ALLAN OBIT. Stuntman Brad Allan, who worked on Wonder Woman and the Kingsman series, died August 7: “Brad Allan, Stuntman and Jackie Chan Protege, Dies at 48”. (msn.com).

Allan eventually carved out a space in Hollywood as one of the best in his craft. After serving as both a stunt actor and coordinator on a string of movies with Chan, including “Shanghai Noon” and “Rush Hour 2,” he went on to design action scenes for movies like, “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World,” “Wonder Woman,” “Solo: A Star Wars Story” and the “Kingsman” series. 

By the time of his death, Allan had also completed work on “The King’s Man” and Marvel’s “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” which hits theaters next month. 

(7) MEMORY LANE.

  • 1988 – Thirty-three years ago at Nolacon II, Ursula K. Le Guin would win the Best Novelette Hugo for “Buffalo Gals, Won’t You Come Out Tonight.” Other nominated works that year were “Rachel in Love” by Pat Murphy, “Dinosaurs” by Walter Jon Williams, “Flowers of Edo” by Bruce Sterling and “Dream Baby” by Bruce McAllister.  

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 8, 1919 Dino De Laurentiis. Responsible for Dune obviously but less obviously also a lot of other genre including Conan the BarbarianFlash GordonKing KongHalloween II and Halloween IIIDead Zone and The Last Legion. His company even made Army of Darkness! (Died 2010.)
  • Born August 8, 1930 Terry Nation. Best known as scriptwriter for Doctor Who and creator of the Daleks. He later created Blake’s 7. He would also write scripts for Department SThe Avengers, The Champions and MacGyver. (Died 1997.)
  • Born August 8, 1935 Donald P. Bellisario, 86. His genre shows include Tales of the Gold MonkeyAirwolf, Magnum P.I. (according to some of you) and of course that truly amazing show Quantum Leap. He was a writer and producer on the original Battlestar Galactica.
  • Born August 8, 1937 Dustin Hoffman, 84. Ahhh — Captian Hook, the man who got swallowed by the vast crocodile in Hook. Yeah, I like that film a lot. By no means his only genre appearance, as he was Mumbles, Caprice’s fast-talking henchman in Dick Tracy (not a film I love), Mr. Edward Magorium in Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium and the voice of Master Shifu in Kung Fu Panda.
  • Born August 8, 1943 Terry J. Erdmann, 78. He ran the media campaigns for such films as Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, (where he was credited as the film’s publicist). He’s also written such books as the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, which he co-wrote with Paula Block, his wife who works as a Trek publicist, and The Magic of Tribbles: The Making of Trials and Tribble-ations.
  • Born August 8, 1949 Keith Carradine, 72. Genre roles include Special Report: Journey to MarsStar Trek: Enterprise, Kung Fu, voice work on the animated Spider-Man series, Dollhouse and The Big Bang Theory
  • Born August 8, 1993 Kawennáhere Devery Jacobs, 28. She’s a Kahnawake Mohawk. Why I mention that will be apparent in a moment. Her most recent role is recurring one as Sam Black Crow on now-cancelled American Gods but she has a very long genre history starting with being Monique on the Stephen King’s Dead Zone series. From there, she was Claudia Auditore in Assassin’s Creed: Lineage, a series of three short films based on the Assassin’s Creed II video game before showing up as Ali’s in Rhymes for Young Ghouls which is notable for its handling of First Nations issues. She’s Daisy in Another WolfCop (oh guess which monster), an unnamed bar waitress in Being Human, Nourhan in Exploding Sun and Sam in the The Walking Dead: Michonne video game. Her latest genre role is Blood Quantum about a zombie uprising on a First Nations homeland.

(9) LIGHTEN UP.  John King Tarpinian swears he had none of these. Especially if it had anything to do with disco. “5 of the wildest pieces of vintage Star Trek merch” at Heroes & Icons.

THIS LIGHT-UP JACKET THAT’S PERFECT FOR DISCOS, CONVENTIONS, SF PARTIES AND SCHOOL ACTIVITIES

Sure, a replica of the actual Starfleet uniform is rad, but not as rad as a shiny jacket that “lights up,” “flashes” and “creates a sensation,” with the Enterprise emblazoned on the back. This 1978 official licensed jacket surely would have impressed everyone at school and at the disco.

(10) ABANDONED STARSHIPS. Heroes & Icons also knows about “9 abandoned Star Trek series that never made it to the TV screen”. Some of these I’ve heard about, but not this one!

2. THE HARRY MUDD SHOW

Harcourt Fenton Mudd remains one of the most beloved rogues in the Star Trek universe, even appearing in the new Discovery series, as played by Rainn Wilson of The Office. Roger Carmel, also a delightful Batman villain, originated the role. He was the only character aside from the Enterprise crew to appear in more than one episode (“Mudd’s Woman” and “I, Mudd). No wonder NBC hoped to give him a spin-off. As Carmel himself recalled, “Gene Roddenberry was there and we started talking and Gene said, ‘It’s a shame that series thing for you never worked out.’ I said, ‘What series thing?’ He said, ‘Oh, didn’t you know? Well, after the successful Harry Mudd episodes, NBC wanted to know if I would develop a spin-off series for you starring the Harry Mudd character. A space pirate, intergalactic con-man kind of thing.'” A flabberghasted Carmel asked, “‘My God, Gene, I didn’t know anything about that. What happened?’ He said, ‘Well, the artists didn’t have enough time to develop it.'” Arg! 

(11) TWELVE IS NOT FIVE BY FIVE. Did Capaldi talk himself out of a job? “Doctor Who Is Canceling One Of Its Former Stars”Giant Freakin Robot has the story.

It’s in the area of voice work, in fact, where Capaldi recently may have gotten in a little bit of trouble. As Cinema Blend reported on Thursday, Capaldi was expected to play the Doctor for the Big Finish Doctor Who audio drama Timejacked. However, rather than Capaldi, the Twelfth Doctor will now be voiced by Jacob Dudman, who has done voice work on previous Doctor Who audio dramas.

While it hasn’t been confirmed, there’s a lot of speculation that Capaldi’s recent interview on The Chris Moyles Show may be to blame for his replacement in the Doctor Who audio drama. Capaldi appeared on the show while doing press for The Suicide Squad. During the interview, after Capaldi mentions he’d like to be DJ, he’s asked if he’s ever worked in radio. The actor answers he’s done radio plays, and what he says about them isn’t very complimentary. Capaldi says he finds making them “quite dreary” and that they’re made “in the basement of the BBC with all the pipes and stuff.” He goes on to call it “an absolutely glamor free zone.” 

(12) FANTASTIC PLASTIC. I’d almost forgotten these (and now I’ll have to start all over again!) “It’s the 50th anniversary of the most horrific kids’ toys ever” reminds Input.

…Nabisco, the cookie and cracker conglomerate that bought Aurora soon after these kits were released, found itself in a world of pain after horrified parents, op-ed writers, and boisterous protesters decried the toys as misogynistic and grotesque — and wholly inappropriate for kids. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the torture-toy scandal, during which public outcry led to not only the discontinuation of an outrageously successful toy line, but also to the passage of legislation that would keep similarly objectionable toys off store shelves, at least in California.

But a half-century later, these kits still thrive, thanks, of course, to the internet…. 

(13) MIND ON THE GAME. In the Washington Post, Shannon Liao reviews the about to be released video game Psychonauts 2, a sequel to the 2005 Psychonauts, which was one of the first video games to address mental health issues.  She talks to game designers who explain how they tried to have a good story while trying to improve gamers’ mental health. “’Psychonauts 2’ preview: Double Fine discusses game’s bosses, mental health”.

…To undo the mistake he made, Raz must venture back into his mentor’s mind, but this time, it’s transformed into a fantastical level that’s part hospital, part casino. Eventually, he’s able to undo the bad mental connections he made in Hollis’s mind, undo other mental connections she’s formed such as “defiance is useless” and get her to recognize better connections such as “wisdom = decisions.” It’s clear throughout this level that Raz is genuinely feeling regret and guilt for messing with Hollis’s mind without consent. He reflects on what he did wrong, and apologizes to Hollis.

“It’s a small change between the first and second games,” Schafer said. “I noticed in the first game, Raz just kind of pops into everyone’s mind willy nilly. He’s like, ‘hey!’ And so in every level on ‘Psychonauts 2,’ except for some near the end where it’s an emergency situation, in every brain you go into, there is a moment of actually getting consent from the person’s brain that you’re going into, because it is an invasive process going into someone’s brain. There’s a lot more dialogue about that, which we try to be careful about in the second game.”…

(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. We ran the trailer, now see the whole short film: Forsaken Mandalorian And The Drunken Jedi Master – A Star Wars Fan Film.

A Forsaken Mandalorian hunts down a Hutt Courier to recover an asset that unexpectedly leads him to team up with an outcast Drunken Jedi Master to fulfill his sworn duty.

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]

Pixel Scroll 5/14/21 I Plan To Read All The Hugo Nominees Tonight, Said Tom Swiftly.

(1) AN ALIEN STUDY. Charlie Jane Anders tells what problems are caused when TV aliens are just minority groups given forehead bumps: “Star Trek, Star Wars reveal the cultural minefield of inventing aliens” at Polygon.

… Alien characters don’t just entertain us with their strange and unfamiliar ways — they also reflect our humanity back to us. Science fiction is all about exploring what it means to be human, and we can do that more easily by comparing ourselves against the alien characters we love or hate. This works a couple of different ways for writers:

  1. You can create alien characters who act human in many ways, except for a few major differences — and those differences can provide a contrast that reveals something about that human-seeming behavior.
  2. You can take one aspect of human behavior and exaggerate it until it becomes a defining characteristic, which lets viewers see its importance and its drawbacks more clearly.

Human-with-a-difference aliens can be an awesome thing — as anyone who’s ever been at a convention with a hundred people dressed as Klingons and Vulcans can attest. But there’s a drawback: the same thing that lets these alien characters reveal essential truths about human beings also risks turning them into reflections of our worst ideas about our fellow humans. Sometimes that almost-but-not-quite-human thing can reflect noxious stereotypes, or present one-dimensional images that we can then turn around and project onto real people….

(2) UNDERGROUND RAILROAD. In the Washington Post, Ann Hornaday interviews Barry Jenkins about directing The Underground Railroad which just dropped on Amazon Prime. “With ‘The Underground Railroad,’ Barry Jenkins looks squarely at Black trauma”.

…For the most part, he didn’t. If anything, Jenkins’s version of “The Underground Railroad” is most startling for its implacable realism.

“Colson and I actually talked about this right at the beginning,” Jenkins explains. “He said, ‘You know, there’s a version of this where it’s all leather and steampunk and I don’t think we want to do that.’ And I was like, ‘No. We don’t want to do that.’?”

Invoking the corroded, retro-futuristic design of Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s steampunk classic “The City of Lost Children,” he expands on the point. “I said to my production designer, ‘I don’t want CGI trains, I don’t want CGI tunnels. The trains have to be real, the tunnels have to be real.’?”

Indeed, Jenkins was so committed to photorealistic style in “The Underground Railroad” that he wrote an entire new chapter for the series, which turned out to be too expensive to film. He and co-writer Nathan Parker came up with “Genesis,” the story of Black miners who are buried after a methane explosion; when the mine’s owner decides against rescuing them to recoup their life insurance policies, “the men start digging. .?.?. And when they come aboveground, they’re on the other side of the Mason-Dixon [line]. And rather than stay aboveground, they go back down. And that’s how the underground railroad begins. .?.?. It’s not about steampunk. People aren’t going to levitate. We’re going to build myth out of rock and bone.”…

(3) NEW EDEN. Netflix dropped a trailer for Eden, a new anime series.

(4) THE PEDESTRIAN. Urban Archive traces the route of “A Night with the Missus: H.P. Lovecraft in Greenwich Village” with historic photos.

Horror writer H.P. Lovecraft lived in New York City between 1924 and 1926. One of his favorite pastimes was searching neighborhoods for buildings or structures dating from the eighteenth-century or embracing its styles. Lovecraft’s literary friends often served as his trusted companions in urban exploration. He also enjoying experiencing New York with his wife, Sonia H. Greene. In August 1924, Greene and Lovecraft shared an evening stroll through Greenwich Village. This excursion introduced Lovecraft to “more of the ancient New-York” than any of his other “numerous pilgrimages.”

…Greene and Lovecraft next ventured to Patchin Place. Gazing down this cul-de-sac, Lovecraft imagined that he had stepped into his beloved colonial American past. He was transfixed by an antique streetlamp in the pocket neighborhood. The lamp’s “pale beams cast alluring shadows of archaic things half of the imagination.” Poet e.e. cummings lived at Patchin Place at this time. Coincidentally, cummings and Lovecraft’s literary circles soon would intersect.

Incidentally, sff writer Charles Platt once lived in the Patchin neighborhood and gave its name to his short-lived magazine The Patchin Review, now collected in an ebook available as a free download from Dave Langford’s unofficial TAFF site (donation appreciated).

(5) BARROWMAN APOLOGY. CinemaBlend quotes John Barrowman’s apology: “Doctor Who’s John Barrowman Issues Apology After Flashing Allegations Resurface”

Public interest in the claims of John Barrowman exposing his genitals on the sets of Doctor Who and Torchwood was reignited by the recent allegations of misconduct against actor Noel Clarke, who was also on the series around the same time. Allegations made years prior by various cast members (including Clarke) claimed that Barrowman would randomly expose himself on set and even hit cast members with his penis at random.

The Guardian then spoke to several sources who then confirmed John Barrowman repeatedly exposed himself on set, though not in a manner that one would perceive as sexual. One woman, who had her name changed for the article, stated that while Barrowman exposing himself to her and others on set made her uncomfortable, there was never a time in which it happened that she felt unsafe. While Barrowman’s lawyers said he “could not recall” specific instances mentioned in the article, the actor did give a statement apologizing for any resurfaced claims and new ones from his early years on the show:

With the benefit of hindsight, I understand that upset may have been caused by my exuberant behaviour and I have apologised for this previously. Since my apology in November 2008, my understanding and behaviour have also changed.

… Earlier this week ITV declined to confirm if Mr Barrowman would continue as a judge on Dancing On Ice, saying decisions about the next series’ line-up had yet to be made.

(6) TORCHWOOD IS LIGHTS OUT. Big Finish won’t release a story Barrowman voiced: “John Barrowman: Release of new Torchwood audio story scrapped” reports BBC.

An audio story featuring John Barrowman as Captain Jack Harkness, his character from Doctor Who and spin-off Torchwood, has been pulled from release.

It follows allegations that in the past the actor repeatedly exposed himself while filming the TV shows.

Mr Barrowman has previously apologised for his behaviour.

Torchwood: Absent Friends was made by Big Finish, the company licensed by the BBC to produce official Doctor Who and Torchwood audio plays.

It was due to be released this month. In it, Captain Jack was due to be reunited with the Doctor, voiced by David Tennant, who played the character on TV between 2005-2010.

A Big Finish spokesperson said: “We have no plans to publish this title at this time.”…

(7) R.H.I.P. Emily Temple Google-searched 275 famous books that came to mind and turned it into an imprecise ranking for Literary Hub: “What Are the Most Discussed Books on the Internet?” Not ‘til you get to #31 do her sff picks rise above the event horizon.

…This number, by the way, is an estimate—a Google Webmaster described it as “a ballpark figure,” but it may be even less accurate than that. Even the estimate can vary a lot, based on a whole host of different factors, like where you are and what else you’ve searched for (in your whole entire life). But even if the numbers themselves are approximate, they may still have relative meaning, especially when accessed from the same computer, using the same browser, on the same day: at the very least, they should be able to tell us, in a general way, which books have been referenced more or less than others online.

It’s important to remember that this is not exactly the same as true popularity—plenty of bestsellers, especially older bestsellers, published when the internet was less of a driving force in book marketing, were relatively low-ranked here….

Here’s an excerpt — #31-37 on the list:

Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games – 2,080,000
James Joyce, Ulysses – 1,850,000
Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale – 1,800,000
Charles Dickens, David Copperfield – 1,780,000
Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – 1,630,000
Barack Obama, A Promised Land – 1,610,000
Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451 – 1,600,000

(8) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.

  • May 14, 1996 Doctor Who aired on the Fox Television Network in the United States. Starring Paul McGann as the Eighth Doctor, Sylvester McCoy briefly as the Seventh Doctor, Daphne Ashbrook as Grace Holloway and Eric Roberts as The Master. It was directed by Geoffrey Sax off a script by Matthew Jacobs. It was intended as a pilot to an American-produced and -based Who series but internal politics at BBC killed it off. Some critics loved, some hated it; and the audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes gave it a decent forty eight percent rating.  He has since reprised the role, briefly in video form in the BBC series and quite extensively in audio form for Big Finish. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born May 14, 1848 – Albert Robida.  French illustrator, etcher, lithographer, caricaturist, novelist.  Edited and published Caricature magazine; 520 illustrations for Pierre Giffard’s weekly serial The Infernal War; 60,000 during AR’s life.  In The Twentieth Century (1882; set in 1952), War in the Twentieth Century (1887), Electric Life (1890), five more, imagined technological developments e.g. the telephonoscope whose flat-screen display shows news, plays, conferences, 24 hours a day; here’s an aerial rotating house.  Illustrated Cyrano de Bergerac, Rabelais, Swift.  Clock of the CenturiesThe End of Books (with Octave Uzanne); The Long-Ago Is With Us TodayIn 1965.  (Died 1926) [JH]
  • Born May 14, 1853 – Sir Thomas Henry Hall Caine (known as “Hall Caine”).  Novelist, dramatist, short-story writer, poet, critic.  Secretary to Dante Gabriel RossettiRecollections of Rossetti (rev. 1928).  Son of a Manxman, moved there, elected to its legislature; Bram Stoker dedicated Dracula to him in Manx.  The Christian, first novel in Britain to sell a million copies; a score more novels, as many plays, four films (plus more made from his books); The Supernatural in Shakespere (HC’s spelling), The Supernatural Element in Poetry, a score more books of non-fiction; ten million books sold.  Went to Russia, Morocco, Iceland, Egypt.  Sixty thousand people at his funeral.  (Died 1931) [JH] 
  • Born May 14, 1929 – George Scithers.  Two Hugos for his fanzine Amra.  Chaired three Disclaves and the 21st Worldcon; Fan Guest of Honor at the 2nd NASFiC (North America SF Con, since 1975 held when the Worldcon is overseas) and the 59th Worldcon; frequent chair of the annual WSFS (World SF Soc.) Business Meeting.  Served as President of WSFA (Washington, D.C., SF Ass’n) and Official Arbiter of The Cult (an apa famous in song and story).  First editor of Asimov’s, two Hugos as Best Pro Editor.  Perpetrated the Scithers SFL (Science Fiction League) Hoax.  Revived Weird Tales (with John Betancourt), World Fantasy special award for it (with Darrell Schweitzer).  World Fantasy lifetime-achievement award.  (Died 2010) [JH]
  • Born May 14, 1933 – Ron Bennett.  British fanwriter, collector, publisher, used-book dealer, even while living in Singapore. TAFF (Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund) delegate; trip report Colonial Excursion.  Chaired Eastercon 13, ran the Dealers’ Room at the 45th Worldcon.  Member variously of OMPA (Off-trails Magazine Publishers Ass’n, serving awhile as its Official Editor), FAPA (Fantasy Am. Press Ass’n), The Cult; best-known fanzines, Skyrack (rhyming with “beer hack” because, as RB well knew, it meant shire oak, but what a name), Ploy.  (Died 2006) [JH]
  • Born May 14, 1944 George Lucas, 77. For better and worse I suppose, he created  the Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises. (Raiders of the Lost Ark and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade are fine. I adore the original Trilogy.) And let’s not forget THX 1138. My fav works that he was involved in? LabyrinthRaiders of the Lost Ark, The Empire Strikes Back and Willow. Oh, and and The Young Indiana Jones series. (CE) 
  • Born May 14, 1945 Rob Tapert, 76. I’d say he’s best known for co-creating Xena: Warrior Princess. He also produced and/or wrote several other television series including Hercules: The Legendary JourneysM.A.N.T.I.S. and American Gothic. Tapert also co-created the prequel series Young Hercules which I loved. He’s married to actress Lucy Lawless. (CE) 
  • Born May 14, 1952 Kathleen Ann Goonan. Her Nanotech Quartet is most excellent, particularly the first novel, Queen City Jazz. Her only Award was given for In War Times which garnered a John W. Campbell Memorial Award. She’s wrote an interesting essay on the relationship between sf and music, “Science Fiction and All That Jazz”. (Died 2021.) (CE) 
  • Born May 14, 1952 Robert Zemeckis, 69. He’s responsible for some of my favorite films including the Back to the Future trilogy, The Muppet Christmas CarolThe WitchesWho Framed Roger Rabbit and the savagely funny Death Becomes Her. What’s your favorite films that’s he had a hand in? (CE) 
  • Born May 14, 1953 – Kerryn Goldsworthy, Ph.D., age 68.  Taught at Univ. Melbourne.  Free lance since 1997.  Pascall Prize, Horne Prize.  She edited Australian Book Review, “learning more about human nature in those two years than in either the preceding thirty-three or the following nineteen.”  Anthologies outside our field e.g. Coast to CoastAustralian Women’s Stories. [JH]
  • Born May 14, 1956 – Gillian Bradshaw, age 65.  A score of novels for us; outside our field, historical fiction set in ancient Egypt, Rome, the Byzantine Empire (she won the Phillips Prize for Classical Greek while at Univ. Michigan).  Married a British mathematical-physics professor (and Ig Nobel Prize winner), has judged the Inst. Physics’ Paperclip Physics competition.  [JH]
  • Born May 14, 1965 — Eoin Colfer, 56. He is best known for being the author of the Artemis Fowl series. (OGH)

(10) CATCH ‘EM AND BRAWL. “Target pulls Pokemon cards from stores, citing threat to workers and customers”CBS News has details.

Target is pulling in-store sales of popular trading cards, citing employee safety, after a parking lot brawl in one of its stores last week. The retailer told CBS MoneyWatch it would no longer sell Pokemon and sports trading cars in its physical locations starting Friday.

“The safety of our guests and our team is our top priority. Out of an abundance of caution, we’ve decided to temporarily suspend the sale of MLB, NFL, NBA and Pokemon trading cards within our stores, effective May 14. Guests can continue to shop these cards online at Target.com,” a Target spokesperson said in a statement.

… Target last month limited card sales to three packs per person per day, then to one pack per day. But the policy led to even more frenzied speculation with some shoppers camping out outside the stores before they opened.

Last week, a shopper leaving a Target store in Wisconsin was attacked by three men in the parking lot, leading the victim to pull out his gun and neighboring stores to impose momentary lockdowns. No shots were fired, and the victim suffered only minor injuries, according to reports. It’s unclear which type of trading card was the cause of the scuffle.

(11) KEEPING TABS. The Otherwise Award put together a post about what its past winners had published in 2020: “Eligible for nomination: 2020 books & stories by past Otherwise winners”. The first two entries on the lengthy list are –

Eleanor Arnason, 1991 winner for A Woman of the Iron People, published the short story “Tunnels” in Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine on May 1, 2020. You can buy that issue on Magzter.

Maureen McHugh, 1992 winner for China Mountain Zhang, published the short story Yellow and the Perception of Reality in July 2020. You can read it for free on Tor.com.

(12) OCTOTHORPE. In episode 31 of the Octothorpe podcast, “If I Set Fire to Alison”, “John [Coxon] has bad Internet, Alison [Scott] is monologuing, and Liz [Batty] is the long-suffering one.” Make of that what you will. The episode outline says there’s a discussion of Worldcon bids and the business meeting in the middle.

(13) STASIS. Kate Washington tells about “Rereading The Phantom Tollbooth in This Year of Our Pandemic Doldrums” at Literary Hub.

In The Phantom Tollbooth, Milo—the child-hero driving through a world of word and number play—accidentally enters a low, dull place. The world loses all its color, everything becoming “grayer and monotonous.” He feels drowsy, his car won’t move, and finally he comes to a dead stop. He has strayed into this land of stasis by failing to pay attention to where he’s going, and, an inhabitant tells him slowly, it’s called The Doldrums: “‘The Doldrums, my young friend, are where nothing ever happens and nothing ever changes.’”

Its inhabitants, the Lethargarians, are firmly wedded to their torpor, sticking to a strict schedule of doing nothing at all and telling Milo that thinking is against the law (“Ordinance 175389-J: It shall be unlawful, illegal, and unethical to think, think of thinking, surmise, presume, reason, meditate, or speculate while in the Doldrums”). When Milo objects that everyone thinks, they shoot back that most of the time, in fact, people don’t, and in fact that’s why Milo is in the Doldrums….

(14) HE’S GOT A TICKET TO RIDE. “Japanese Tycoon Planning Space Station Visit, Then Moon Trip”US News has the story.

“Going to the ISS before the Moon,” Yusaku Maezawa announced Thursday via Twitter.

Maezawa has bought two seats on a Russian Soyuz capsule. He’ll blast off in December on the 12-day mission with his production assistant and a professional cosmonaut.

“I’m so curious, ‘What’s life like in space?’ So, I am planning to find out on my own and share with the world,” Maezawa said in a statement.

He’ll be the first person to pay his own way to the space station in more than a decade, according to Virginia-based Space Adventures, which brokered the deal. A Space Adventures spokeswoman declined to divulge the cost. The company has sent seven other tourists to the space station, from 2001 to 2009.

Maezawa’s trip to the moon aboard Elon Musk’s Starship is tentatively scheduled for 2023. He’ll fly around the moon — not land — with eight contest winners.

(15) A FIVE-YEAR MISSION. And this one’s going to be completed. “NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Spacecraft Heads for Earth with Asteroid Sample” reports the space agency.

After nearly five years in space, NASA’s Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft is on its way back to Earth with an abundance of rocks and dust from the near-Earth asteroid Bennu.

On Monday, May 10, at 4:23 p.m. EDT the spacecraft fired its main engines full throttle for seven minutes – its most significant maneuver since it arrived at Bennu in 2018. This burn thrust the spacecraft away from the asteroid at 600 miles per hour (nearly 1,000 kilometers per hour), setting it on a 2.5-year cruise towards Earth.

After releasing the sample capsule, OSIRIS-REx will have completed its primary mission. It will fire its engines to fly by Earth safely, putting it on a trajectory to circle the sun inside of Venus’ orbit.

After orbiting the Sun twice, the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft is due to reach Earth Sept. 24, 2023. Upon return, the capsule containing pieces of Bennu will separate from the rest of the spacecraft and enter Earth’s atmosphere. The capsule will parachute to the Utah Test and Training Range in Utah’s West Desert, where scientists will be waiting to retrieve it.

(16) TODAY’S THING TO WORRY ABOUT. Popular Mechanics gets the internet clicking with its post “Russia Is Going to Try to Clone an Army of 3,000-Year-Old Scythian Warriors”.

When you hold a job like Defense Minister of Russia, you presumably have to be bold and think outside the box to protect your country from enemy advances. And with his latest strategic idea—cloning an entire army of ancient warriors—Sergei Shoigu is certainly taking a big swing.

In an online session of the Russian Geographical Society last month, Shoigu, a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, suggested using the DNA of 3,000-year-old Scythian warriors to potentially bring them back to life. Yes, really.

First, some background: The Scythian people, who originally came from modern-day Iran, were nomads who traveled around Eurasia between the 9th and 2nd centuries B.C., building a powerful empire that endured for several centuries before finally being phased out by competitors. Two decades ago, archaeologists uncovered the well-preserved remains of the soldiers in a kurgan, or burial mound, in the Tuva region of Siberia….

Shoigu subtly suggested going through some kind of human cloning process. But is that even possible?

To date, no one has cloned a human being. But scientists have successfully executed the therapeutic cloning of individual kinds of cells and other specific gene-editing work, and of course, there are high-profile examples of cloning pretty complex animals. Earlier this year, for example, scientists cloned an endangered U.S. species for the first time: a black-footed ferret whose donor has been dead for more than 30 years.

…But let’s say Russia ignores all legality in favor of Shoigu’s big plans. In that case, scientists would have to develop a way to lift out the human nucleus without damaging the cell beyond repair.

Scientists have cloned certain monkeys, so primates are at least hypothetically still in the mix, despite the spindle proteins. But the success rate even for non-primate clones is already very low—it took Dolly the sheep’s research team 277 attempts to get a viable embryo.

And what if all of that went perfectly? Well, the Scythians were powerful warriors and gifted horsemen, but scientists—or the Kremlin—must carefully monitor a cloned baby version of a deceased adult warrior for illnesses and other prosaic childhood problems. Who will raise these children? Who will be legally responsible for their wellbeing?

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “The Mandalorian Theme U.S. Army Band” on YouTube shows that the U.S. Army Band (Pershing’s Own) celebrated Star Wars Day with their version of the theme from The Mandalorian.

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