Pixel Scroll 5/13/22 Make Room Party, Make Room Party

(1) COME THE MILLENNIUM. This year marks 60 years of the iconic Spider-Man. Marvel Comics will celebrate this milestone anniversary with a special issue honoring the comic that started it all, Amazing Fantasy. Arriving in August, Amazing Fantasy #1000 will be a giant-sized one-shot brought together by some of the industry’s most acclaimed creators.

Here’s just some of what fans can expect from this landmark issue:

  • Visionary writer Neil Gaiman’s grand return to the Marvel Universe
  • Emmy Award winning creator behind “Veep” and “Avenue 5” Armando Ianucci’s Marvel Comics debut
  • Spider-Man mastermind Dan Slott and superstar artist Jim Cheung team up to explore the enduring love between Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson in a story set in the far future
  • Acclaimed artist Michael Cho and novelist Anthony Falcone introduce a new Spider-Man villain
  • Ho Che Anderson crafts a horror-fueled Spidey adventure that cuts to Peter Parker’s core
  • Plus stories by Rainbow Rowell, Jonathan Hickman, and many more!

 “It’s Spider-Man’s 60th and we wanted to celebrate in style by inviting some of the greatest creative minds in the world to celebrate it!” Editor Nick Lowe said.

Join the industry’s top talent in celebrating Spider-Man’s birthday when Amazing Fantasy #1000 arrives in August. 

(2) THE SKY IS FALLING. Chillercon, the Horror Writers Association’s UK event, announced a change of venue after the ballroom ceiling collapsed in their planned facility. The con will still take place in Scarborough from May 26-29.

The convention received news this week that there has been a ceiling collapse in the Cabaret Ballroom of the Grand Hotel, one of our main programming rooms in that hotel, and asbestos has been discovered. The room has been closed off and the hotel declared safe to run by the relevant authorities, but for the last forty-eight hours the convention committee has been working with both hotels towards the best solution for both the ability of ChillerCon UK to run effectively and for the safety of our attendees, as obviously we are keen to ensure there’s no risk to anyone attending.

To that end, we are pleased to confirm that all programming and accommodation has now been moved to the Royal Hotel with immediate effect….

(3) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites listeners to join John Appel for a dry-aged burger in Episode 171 of the Eating the Fantastic podcast.

John Appel

John’s debut novel Assassin’s Orbit, published last year, was a finalist for the 2022 Compton Crook Award. He’s a former US Army paratrooper, a long-time information security professional, a historical fencer, and a life-long gamer who’s written the occasional tabletop RPG adventure. He co-edited the anthology Skies of Wonder, Skies of Danger along with Mary Alexandra Agner. John’s also a graduate of the Viable Paradise workshop and a founding member of the Maryland Space Opera Collective writing group.

We met for lunch at the White Oak Tavern, which is in the Enchanted Forest Shopping Center in Ellicott City, Maryland, and if there was ever a proper place to record an episode of Eating the Fantastic, an Enchanted Forest certainly sounds like it.

We discussed how pitching his debut novel as “Battlestar Galactica meets Golden Girls” got him an agent, why his background in table-top RPGs might be the reason he writes novels rather than short stories, how he deals with the “candy bar” scenes of his plots, the way critique groups and sensitivity readers can help make books better, how to juggle multiple viewpoints and still have them all be equally compelling, the political aspects of his novel which make it a different read than it would have been when it was first begun, his particular set of skills which helped bring fight scenes alive, and much more.

(4) BARRIERS REMAIN. Nalo Hopkinson is profiled by Silvia Moreno-Garcia for the University of British Columbia publication Beyond: “As publishing becomes more varied and diverse, challenges remain for writers of colour”.

…Hopkinson believes universities can help enrich the literary landscape by embracing genre fiction, looking at alternatives that deviate from traditional forms of learning and helping students develop a sense of belonging. For example, the traditional workshop model, where students sit around a circle discussing their stories, may be of little value to a student if they are the only writer of colour in a class.

“I encounter a lot of emerging writers who come from a marginalized community who feel that they won’t be welcomed,” she explains.

Hopkinson believes something that helped her become a writer was “middle class entitlement.” She grew up in a place where Black people were in the majority, where her father was a teacher and her mother a librarian and literature seemed an obtainable pursuit.

“There’s a certain type of entitlement because of that. Not wealth, but entitlement,” she says. “That sense of I have a right to be here.”

The hardest lesson for Hopkinson to teach is this self-empowerment….

(5) THE MEMORY LIBRARIAN. “Janelle Monáe: ‘Erasure is happening right under our noses’” the singer and author tells Christiane Amanpour at CNN Style.

…As Monáe wrote on Instagram in December, they have always used sci-fi and Afro-Futurism as “vehicles” for translating ideas into music, art and now literature. But the singer told Amanpour that they believe memory and history are under threat in today’s America.

“I think that there is definitely an agenda for erasure,” Monáe said, pointing to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signing the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which bans LGBTQ+ topics in elementary school classrooms, and Texas Governor Greg Abbott signing legislation that restricts how race and US history is taught in the state’s schools.

“These are real experiences for our ancestors, real experiences for us,” Monáe said. “And erasure is happening right underneath our noses. And it’s being done through lawmaking.”…

(6) VIDEO GAMES. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times behind a paywall, Tom Faber discusses TV adaptations of games.

What film directors seem to miss while adapting games for cinema is that games do not resolve around stories we are told but worlds we inhabit. They need to ask what it means for this story to be watched rather than played, and how it might have to change accordingly. In that respect, TV may prove a more natural fit. The length of a series creates space for the spreading storytelling style of games and their myriad characters. This breathing room should also allow showrunners to capitalise on the abundant lore and environmental detail of modern games, which assist in the trendy pursuit of ‘world building.’

Two TV shows that offer hope for the future are both animations. Castlevania, a vampire story based on a series of hit 1990s games, has become a surprise hit on Netflix since launching in 2017.  It is sharply written with mature themes and thoughtful plotting and paved the way for last year’s Arcane. Another Netflix show, Arcane digs into the origin stories of two heroes from the online battle arena game League Of Legends using striking animation that blends hand-painted textures with 3D graphics. Unlike other adaptations, Arcane forgoes fussy plot exposition in favor of character-driven drama and plays loosely with its source material, focusing on the complex relationship between two women and including action only where it meaningfully impacts the narrative.

(7) STURGEON SYMPOSIUM. The Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction is hosting the first annual Sturgeon Symposium on September 29-30 at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, KS. Here’s the call for papers. They are accepting proposals until June 30.

(8) TIME TRAVEL AND SEX. Nibedita Sen is interviewed by Sarah Gailey in “First Times” at Stone Soup.

First Times is structured unlike anything I’ve read before, using recursion in the narrative to expand and deepen the theme of the story. What inspired you to work in this particular structure? How did you approach storytelling in this medium?

A couple of things, actually – the most important of which is that this was my very first time (hah) writing interactive fiction. As such, I really wanted to keep the game as short and simple as possible, having been warned how easily the simplest-seeming idea can balloon once you actually get down to writing multiple branches of a narrative. Another piece of advice I was given, as a first time IF-writer, was to think about replayability – a game shouldn’t be a one-and-done (hah) kind of thing, but something a reader could go back to multiple times, discovering something new every time….

(9) FRED WARD (1942-2022). Actor Fred Ward has passed on at the age of 79. Detective Harry Philip Lovecraft in Cast a Deadly Spell, Earl Bassett in Tremors and sequels, and the lead in Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins. He was also in The Crow: Salvation, Invasion Earth (miniseries), had parts in episodes of The Incredible Hulk and The Hitchhiker. The New York Times tribute here comments:

…Mr. Ward was likely best known for his performances in “The Right Stuff,” the acclaimed 1983 adaptation of a book by Tom Wolfe, and “Tremors,” a monster movie that ascended to cult classic status since its release in 1990.

But his long career included a broad range of roles in which he applied a sometimes gruff but almost always grounded charisma to parts on film and TV: among other parts, a union activist in “Silkwood,” a detective in “Miami Blues,” Henry Miller in “Henry and June,” and a motorcycle racer in “Timerider: The Adventures of Lyle Swann.”…

(10) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1994 [By Cat Eldridge.] Twenty-eight years ago, The Crow premiered. I saw it at the theatre and yes, I liked it quite a bit. I’m not a horror fan but I found this quite impressive.  I hadn’t realized until now that it was co-written by John Shirley along with David J. Schow but I’ll get back to that in awhile. 

It was directed by Alex Proyas who would later be nominated for a Hugo at Aussiecon Three (1999) for Dark City. (The Truman Show won that year.) And he’d also later direct I, Robot.

The Crow was produced by Jeff Most, Edward R. Pressman and Grant Hill. Most would produce the sequels, The Crow: City of AngelsThe Crow: Salvation and The Crow: Wicked Prayer. Pressman was the uncredited executive producer for Conan the Destroyer and Grant Hill was involved in the Matrix films plus V for Vendetta.

Of course the movie starred Brandon Lee, an actor who gave the film a certain tragic edge by dying. The other major roles were held by Ernie Hudson and Michael Wincott. Ernie you know, but Michael Wincott has largely played villains in such films as Alien Resurrection and The Three Musketeers (remember I hold them to be genre). 

So yes, it was written by John Shirley along with David J. Schow. Checking IMDB, I see Shirley has written far too many screenplays too list all of them here, so I’ll just note his work on Deep Space NineBatman Beyond and Poltergeist: The Legacy. Though definitely not genre, he also wrote one episode of the Red Shoe Dairies. Really he did.

The Crow did well at the box office making nearly a hundred million against twenty-four million in costs. 

So what did the critics think? Michael Wilmington of the Chicago Tribune had this to say: “What’s scary about The Crow is the story and the style itself: American Gothic, Poe-haunted nightmare, translated to the age of cyberpunk science fiction, revenge movies and outlaw rock ‘n’ roll, all set in a hideously decaying, crime-ridden urban hell.” And Caryn James of the New York Times said: “It is a dark, lurid revenge fantasy and not the breakthrough, star-making movie some people have claimed. But it is a genre film of a high order, stylish and smooth.”

It holds a most exemplary ninety percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. 

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born May 13, 1922 Bea Arthur. Really only one meaningful genre credit but oh but what a credit it is. She’s in the Star Wars Holiday Special as Ackmena. That character in the Star Wars canon was the nightshift bartender in Chalmun’s Cantina in Mos Eisley on Tatooine who joined the resistance. (Died 2009.)
  • Born May 13, 1937 Roger Zelazny. Where do I start? The Amber Chronicles are a favorite, as is the Isle of The Dead, To Die in Italbar, and well, there’s very there’s very little by him that I can’t pick him and enjoy for a night’s reading. To my knowledge there’s only one thing he recorded reading and that’s a book he said was one of his favorite works, A Night in the Lonesome October. No, I’ve not forgotten about his Hugos. Roger Zelazny would win his first Hugo for …And Call Me Conrad which would later be called This Immortal.  It would be the first of six Hugos that he would win and one of two for Best Novel, the other being for Lord of Light. His other four Hugos would be for the “Home Is the Hangman” novella, the “Unicorn Variation“ novelette, “24 Views of Mt. Fuji, by Hokusai” novella and “Permafrost” novelette. (Died 1995.)
  • Born May 13, 1946 Marv Wolfman, 76. He worked for Marvel Comics on The Tomb of Dracula series for which he and artist Gene Colan created Blade, and the Crisis on Infinite Earths series in which he temporarily untangled DC’s complicated history with George Pérez. And he worked with Pérez on the direct-to-DVD movie adaptation of the popular “Judas Contract” storyline from their tenure on Teen Titans. (I’m not going to list his IMDB credits here. Hell, he even wrote a Reboot episode!) 
  • Born May 13, 1949 Zoë Wanamaker, 73. She’s been Elle in amazing Raggedy Rawney which was a far better fantasy than Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone where she was Madame Hooch. And she was Cassandra in two Ninth Doctor stories,” The End of the World” and “New Earth”. 
  • Born May 13, 1951 Gregory Frost, 71. His retelling of The Tain is marvellous. Pair it with Ciaran Carson and China Miéville’s takes on the same legend taking an existing legend and remaking it through modern fiction writing. Fitcher’s Brides, his Bluebeard and Fitcher’s Bird fairy tales, is a fantastic novel though quite horrific.
  • Born May 13, 1964 Stephen Colbert, 58. Ubernerd who’s currently recovering from his third bout of Covid. He’s hosted charity showings of Tolkien. Genre credits a cameo as a spy in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, the voice of Paul Peterson in Mr. Peabody & Sherman and the voice of President Hathaway in Monsters vs. Aliens

(12) THE SLEEPER SYMBIOTE CLAIMS A NEW HOST IN VENOM #11. This cover reveal is really only the first phase of Sleeper Agent’s look. They are symbiotes, after all. Pick up his debut issue when Venom #11 arrives in August.

Writers Al Ewing and Ram V and artist Bryan Hitch’s acclaimed run on Venom continues to reshape the symbiote mythos in each explosive issue! And luckily for Venom fans, the trio of superstar creators have no plans to slow down as the ongoing series enters its’ third terrifying arc this August in Venom #11. Kicking off a three-part story called “VENOMWORLD”, readers will see Eddie and Dylan Brock’s journey take a sharp turn as they deal with the shocking revelations of Venom #10. Dylan is still at the mercy of Bedlam while Eddie battles his way across the cosmos, discovering more about the symbiotes than ever before. And the hits keep coming as the Sleeper symbiote joins the fray with a deadly new look… 

(13) LIVE TWEETING. Cat Rambo did the Writers Corner Live show, talking about The Reinvented Heart with Mary Elizabeth Jackson. 

(14) BEWARE SPOILERS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Doctor Strange 2 writer Michael Waldron, in a spoiler-packed article, discusses his screenplay and the Star Wars film he is working on for Kevin Feige. BEWARE SPOILERS! “’Doctor Strange 2′ Writer on Wanda, Mr. Fantastic, ‘Star Wars’ Movie” in Variety.

SPOILER ALERT: This story discusses major plot points in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, currently playing in theaters. Do not read until you’ve seen the movie.

As an alum of “Community” and “Rick and Morty,” screenwriter Michael Waldron certainly knows outré, genre-hopping science fiction; with “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” Waldron found a kindred spirit in director Sam Raimi, who invented outré, genre-hopping horror with his “Evil Dead” trilogy.

Together, Raimi and Waldron have made one of the most distinctive — and, for some, controversial — movies ever in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. To wit (the big spoilers start here): Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) goes full Scarlet Witch and brutally murders anyone who gets in the way of her mission to find a universe in which her sons from the 2021 Disney+ series “WandaVision” are still alive. It’s a heel turn that has shocked many — including Olsen — especially when Wanda decimates the Illuminati, the team of superheroes from an alternate reality that includes Patrick Stewart’s Charles Xavier (from 20th Century Fox’s “X-Men” movies), Anson Mount’s Black Bolt (from ABC’s “Inhumans” TV series), and John Krasinski’s Reed Richards, the first time the leader of the Fantastic Four has appeared in the MCU….

(15) IT WILL BECOME ROUTINE. “Huntsville International Airport becomes first commercial airport allowed to land a space vehicle” reports WAFF.

The Huntsville International Airport was approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to allow commercial space vehicles to land at the airport….

Sierra Nevada Corporation’s Dream Chaser is a space utility vehicle that is designed to transport crew and cargo to destinations such as the International Space Station.

Sierra Space was awarded six missions by NASA to resupply the International Space Station. The FAA could grant the Dream Chaser the option to land in Huntsville in 2023.

“This is a significant milestone for Huntsville International and for our community in the pursuit of landing a commercial space vehicle right here in Rocket City U.S.A.,” Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Port of Huntsville/Huntsville International Airport, Mark McDaniel, said in a statement. “That’s going to be an exciting day, not just for the Airport but also for the talented and dedicated partners in this effort.”

(16) EATING OUTSIDE THE BOX. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Washington Post, Marylou Tousignant says that May 11 was National Eat What You Want Day and recommended ten foods kids could try, including Japanese tuna eyeballs, Vietnamese coconut worms, and Marmite. “On Eat What You Want Day, try something new”.

… It’s easy to think of foods you love and want to eat. We decided to tinker with the idea and tell you about 10 unusual dishes from around the world that you may never have heard of. We’re calling it International Give It a Try Day….

She alerted me to all the damage Paddington caused in this commercial when he switched from marmalade to Marmite sandwiches! “Paddington Bear Marmite TV Commercial “.

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

Pixel Scroll 5/7/22 Your Scroll, A Flame Of Pixel’s Desire

(1) BASFF 2022. Rebecca Roanhorse is the guest editor of Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2022.

(2) PRO TIP. What’s the best writing advice J. Michael Straczynski’s ever been given?

(3) COMPLAINT: JUSTIFIED OR UNJUSTIFIED? [Item by Anne Marble.] This review of the new alternative history novel The Peacekeeper: A Novel by B.L. Blanchard might make an interesting discussion. There’s also a three-star review showing the same confusion. (This is one of the First Reads book for this month on Amazon, so the potential reviewers probably come outside of SFF, but still… Why can’t people just Google?)

(4) VIDEO GAME NEWS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times behind a paywall, Tom Faber reviews Norco, a point-and-click adventure game with magical realist elements based on the personal experiences of lead developer Yuts, who grew up in Norco, Louisiana near “a Shell oil refinery that exploded during his childhood in 1988, damaging his house.”

Norco‘s writing nods to Southern Gothic authors such as William Faulkner and Cormac McCarthy alongside genre writers Raymond Chandler and William Gibson. Looking at a vehicle in your garden, you are told:  “This truck was your grandfather’s.  You remember hiding in his lap while he let you steer. The dead wasps that collected behind the seat. The smell of grease, whiskey and nicotine.’ This terse, stylish language is studded with sharply observed local vernacular and occasional bouts of impressionistic poetry whose adventurous metaphors only rarely stray into purple prose….

..If it all sounds sombre, the game leavens its storytelling with plenty of wackiness and wry humour.  There is a detective who wears clown make-up as a fashion choice.  A cat on a bookshop counter will, if stroked repeatedly, purr so ecstatically that it flies through the air, crashing through the ceiling.

(5) LIFEWRITING. [Item by Todd Mason.] Tananarive Due and Steve Barnes’s latest podcast features guest Patton Oswalt. All three are horror genre folks, among other things, including being screenwriters, and Harlan Ellison friends or acquaintances. “Lifewriting: Write for Your Life! Special Guest: Patton Oswalt!”

In this episode, Steve and Tananarive talk to comedian and actor Patton Oswalt about how horror helps us navigate difficult times, the horror-comedy connection, the late Harlan Ellison, and meditation as a tool for coping with stress.  

(6) GEORGE PERÉZ (1954-2022) George Pérez, the acclaimed comic book artist and writer known for his work on major DC properties, including Crisis on Infinite Earths and Wonder Woman, along with Marvel’s The Avengers, has died. The Hollywood Reporter noted his passing with a long tribute. He was 67.

Someone in touch with the family posted this emotional description about his last hours.  

To all of George’s fans and friends,

Constance here, with the update no one wants to read. George passed away yesterday, peacefully at home with his wife of 490 months and family by his side. He was not in pain and knew he was very, very loved.

We are all very much grieving but, at the same time, we are so incredibly grateful for the joy he brought to our lives. To know George was to love him; and he loved back. Fiercely and with his whole heart. The world is a lot less vibrant today without him in it.

He loved all of you. He loved hearing your posts and seeing the drawings you sent and the tributes you made. He was deeply proud to have brought so much joy to so many.

Everyone knows George’s legacy as a creator. His art, characters and stories will be revered for years to come. But, as towering as that legacy is, it pales in comparison to the legacy of the man George was. George’s true legacy is his kindness. It’s the love he had for bringing others joy – and I hope you all carry that with you always.

Today is Free Comic Book Day. A day George absolutely loved and a fitting day to remember his contributions to comics and to our lives. I hope you’ll enjoy your day today with him in mind. He would have loved that.

Please keep his wife Carol in your thoughts and again, I thank you for respecting her privacy. I remain available through the contact on the page.

George’s memorial service will take place at MEGACON Orlando at 6pm on Sunday, May 22nd. It will be open to all. Details to follow.

We will miss him always.

(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1997 [By Cat Eldridge.] Twenty-five years ago, The Fifth Element got its first theatrical exhibition at the Cannes Film Festival, an English-language French film directed by Luc Besson and co-written by Besson and Robert Mark Kamen from a story by Besson. 

Artists Jean “Moebius” Giraud and Jean-Claude Mézières, whose books Besson acknowledges are his inspiration for a great deal of the film, were hired for production design. The fabulous if admittedly over-the-top costume design was by Jean-Paul Gaultier who is not in the film. (I checked.) The filming took place in London and Mauritania when nothing in France was available. 

It is very much an adolescent fantasy, or fiction if you prefer, as he wrote it at sixteen though he was thirty-eight when it was actually produced. I love the cast which includes among many Bruce Willis, John Neville, Milla Jovovich, Gary Oldman, Ian Holm and, in a role for the ages, Maïwenn Le Besco. Look I love this film — the casting is great, the story works and I love the universe here. I’ve watched it least a half dozen times so far. 

The budget was close to ninety million but it made back over two hundred and sixty million. Quite impressive indeed.

So what did the critics think at the time? Let’s as usual start with Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Tribune: “’The Fifth Element,’’ which opened the Cannes Film Festival on Thursday, is one of the great goofy movies–a film so preposterous I wasn’t surprised to discover it was written by a teenage boy. That boy grew up to become Luc Besson, director of good smaller movies and bizarre big ones, and here he’s spent $90 million to create sights so remarkable they really ought to be seen.”

And let us finish with Marc Salov of the Austin Chronicle who obviously didn’t know how old Besson was he wrote the script: “The Fifth Element never takes itself too seriously. Oldman is hilarious as the effete, over-the-top Zorg; Willis plays essentially the same character he’s played in his last five films — ever the scruffy rebel; and Jovavich is gorgeous, charming, and thoroughly believable as Leeloo (thanks to some terrific post-English language skills). Even U.K. trip-hop sensation Tricky scores points as Zorg’s right-hand toadie. Although the film tends to suffer from a severe case of overt preachiness in the third reel (shades of James Cameron’s The Abyss), it’s still a wonderfully visual, exciting ride. Besson remains one of France’s great national treasures, and The Fifth Element is a surprising, delightful melange of old-school dare-deviltry and new-age sci-fi.” 

It has a very impressive eighty-six percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. It was nominated for a Hugo at BucConeer, the year Contact won. It is streaming on Amazon Prime and Paramount +.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born May 7, 1922 Darren McGavin. Oh, I loved him being Carl Kolchak on the original Kolchak: The Night Stalker — How many times have I seen it? I’ve lost count. Yes, it was corny, yes, the monsters were low-rent, but it was damn fun. And no, I did not watch a minute of the reboot. By the way, I’m reasonably sure that his first genre role was in the Tales of Tomorrow series as Bruce Calvin in “The Duplicates“ episode which you can watch here. (Died 2006.)
  • Born May 7, 1923 Anne Baxter. The Batman series had a way of attracting the most interesting performers and she was no exception as she ended playing two roles there, first Zelda, then she had the extended recurring role of Olga, Queen of the Cossacks. Other genre roles were limited I think to an appearance as Irene Adler in the Peter Cushing Sherlock Holmes film The Masks of Death. (Died 1985.)
  • Born May 7, 1931 Gene Wolfe. He’s best known for his Book of the New Sun series. My list of recommended novels would include Pirate FreedomThe Sorcerer’s House and the Book of the New Sun series. He’s won the BFA, Nebula, Skylark, BSFA and World Fantasy Awards but to my surprise has never won a Hugo though he has been nominated quite a few times. He has been honored as a Grand Master by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. (Died 2019.)
  • Born May 7, 1940 Angela Carter. Another one taken far too young by the damn Reaper. She’s best remembered for The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories where she took fairy tales and made them very, very adult in tone. Personally I’d recommend The Curious Room insteadas it contains her original screenplays for the BSFA-winning The Company of Wolves which starred Angela Lansbury, and The Magic Toyshop films, both of which were based on her own original stories. Though not even genre adjacent, her Wise Children is a brilliant and quite unsettling look at the theatre world. I’ve done several essays on her so far and no doubt will do more. (Died 1992.)
  • Born May 7, 1951 Gary Westfahl, 71. SF reviewer for the LA Times, the unfortunately defunct as I enjoyed it quite a bit Internet Review of Science Fiction, and Locus Online. Editor of The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy: Themes, Works, and Wonders; author of  Immortal Engines: Life Extension and Immortality in Science Fiction and Fantasy (with George Slusser) and A Sense-of-Wonderful Century: Explorations of Science Fiction and Fantasy Films. 
  • Born May 7, 1952 John Fleck, 70. One of those performers the Trek casting staff really like as he’s appeared in Next GenerationDeep Space Nine in three different roles,  Voyager and finally on Enterprise in the recurring role of Silik. And like so many Trek alumni, he shows up on The Orville.
  • Born May 7, 1969 Annalee Newitz, 53. They are the winner of a Hugo Award for Best Fancast at Dublin 2019 with Charlie Jane Anders for “Our Opinions Are Correct”. And their novel Autonomous was a finalist for the Nebula Award for Best Novel, John W. Campbell Memorial Award and the Locus Award for Best First Novel, while winning a Lambda Literary Award. Very impressive indeed. They are also the winner of the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award for their best short science fiction, “When Robot and Crow Saved East St. Louis”. They are nominated again this year at Chicon 8 for a Best Fancast Hugo for their “Our Opinions Are Correct” podcast. 

(9) STRANGE HAPPENINGS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Washington Post, David Betancourt interviews Benedict Cumberbatch and Elisabeth Olsen about Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, with Cumberbatch explaining that he thinks Stephen Strange is part of an ensemble and not necessarily the star. “Benedict Cumberbatch on Doctor Strange sequel: ‘It’s not all about him’”.

… Cumberbatch still gets opportunities to flex his own superhero muscles in the new film by playing multiple alternate universe versions of Doctor Strange. These include heroic, seemingly evil and zombielike versions of the superhero, who was created by the late Steve Ditko and Stan Lee and first appeared in Marvel Comics “Strange Tales” No. 110 back in 1963. Cumberbatch first dabbled with a Doctor Strange from a different world when he voiced the character in the animated series “What If…?” last year.

Ego seems to be the common denominator among the variants — he never works well with others. But Cumberbatch says Strange has to learn to rely on someone other than himself.

“These parallel existences have a similarity about them but there’s also key differences,” Cumberbatch said. “It was a challenge … to create something that’s different but at the same time recognizably Strange. There’s an element of him that’s constant. But he’s still really injured by his ego and his arrogance and his belief that he has to be the one holding the knife. This film really undoes that logic and stress-tests him in a way that means his evolution is such that he can’t operate as a solo entity. He has to collaborate.”…

(10) THESE BOOTS ARE MADE FOR HAWKING. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] The Starfleet boots seen on the new series will be made available to the public and will retail for about $500 Cdn. “Vancouver designer’s boots on deck as official shoes of the Enterprise in new Star Trek series” reports CBC News. And there’s no stitching in them because in space no one can see a sewing machine!

Vancouver’s John Fluevog is joining the USS Enterprise this spring as Starfleet’s official bootmaker.

Fluevog, whose shoes have been worn by the likes of Madonna, Beyoncé, Lady Gaga and even B.C.’s Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, designed footwear for the cast of the new series Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, which premieres May 5. 

He said he feels a sense of connection to Star Trek in that both his shoes and the series offer a sense of escapism….

(11) CASTING COINCIDENCE. “West Side Story Actor Brings His Talents To He-Man” on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

(12) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Boston Dynamics’s Spot is a hard-working robot but he still likes showing off his latest dance moves! “No Time to Dance”.

[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Rob Thornton, Lisa Garrity, Anne Marble, Todd Mason, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Thomas the Red.]

Pixel Scroll 4/24/22 Story Day, Sweepin’ Boredom Away, On My Way To Where Genre Fans Meet, Can You Tell Me How To Get? How To Get To Pixel Scroll Street?

(1) WRITING ADVICE. Cat Rambo advises “Write What You Love” in a guest post at Stone Soup.

…Write what you love is one of those pieces of writing advice that gets trotted around and may even seem the equivalent of the LIVE LOVE LAUGH plaque hanging in some existential AirBnb of the soul. It’s a piece of advice that is so basic, so simple that people ignore it, think it purely decorative.

But the thing about that sort of advice is that often it’s worth taking the time to look again. Sometimes they’re more like zen koans, or puzzle boxes that yield increasing levels of secrets the more you know about unlocking their depths.

Absolutely, write what you love, and know that there are a multitude of reasons for doing so….

(2) VIDEO GAME REVIEW. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times behind a paywall, Tom Faber reviews Tunic.

…There are many games that keep their secrets hidden, but few are brave enough to refuse to tell you how to play. In Tunic you will have to work out for yourself how to run or level up your skills, often learning that you had an ability or an access to a shortcut that you could have been using all along, had you known it was there. There is something profound about a game that doesn’t expect you constantly to acquire new moves, but asks you to look within and discover the true extent of your abilities.

This thoughtful ethos is threaded through every layer of Tunic, a passion project by Canadian developer Andrew Shouldice, who spent seven years making it, mostly alone. The result feels singular yet also indebted to gaming history. Its top-down perspective and endless waves of slashable monsters recall recent indie games such as Hades and Death’s Door, but deeper in this game’s DNA are more ambitious references: to the way Elden Ring plays with death and combat, the sophisticated meta-puzzles of Fez and the obscure secrets in classic Mario and Zelda….

(3) COULDN’T SPARE TIME TO BE TIME TRAVELER. Slashfilm remembers this lost opportunity: “The Star Trek Role That Was Actually Written For Robin Williams”.

…[Whoopi] Goldberg is also, it turns out, old friends with comedian Robin Williams, as she, Williams, and Billy Crystal were the three headliners of the comedy charity event Comic Relief. And this is where we talk about how Williams wanted to follow Goldberg and make an appearance on “Star Trek: The Next Generation.”

In 1991, when “Next Generation” was in its fifth season, the show’s writers wanted to include Robin Williams. Williams was always an outspoken Trekkie — he even made a reference to killing off Spock in an episode of “Mork & Mindy” — and the “Trek” writers were, in turn, big Robin Williams fans. Williams’ fast-talking, manic comedy wasn’t necessarily a good match for the normally staid, composed, mature tone of “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” so the writers would have to create a new role — likely not a Starfleet officer — for Williams…

(4) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

2014 [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.] One day the AIs are going to look back on us the same way we look at fossil skeletons on the plains of Africa. An upright ape living in dust with crude language and tools, all set for extinction. — Nathan, the programmer

Just eight years ago, Ex Machina premiered written and directed by Alex Garland in his directorial debut. He previously wrote and produced Dredd but let’s not hold that against him. Too much. This is a story that follows a programmer who is invited by his CEO to administer the Turing test to an intelligent humanoid robot.

It had a core cast of Domhnall Gleeson, Alicia Vikander and Oscar Isaac. 

It was made on a budget of just fifteen million, and it grossed thirty-six worldwide. Not bad at all. 

The reception was quite good. The critic at The Reader liked and said, “What’s amazing about Ex Machina is Garland’s precise control over the audience both visually and through a singularly perfect script. The characters and the audience are both captive, processing the slightest information as fast as they can.” Whereas Sunday People commented “Precision-tooled to perfection with sumptuously seductive design,it combines the brains of Blade Runner, the gloss of James Bond, and the sly satire of cult comic 2000AD.” Finally I’ll let NOW Toronto have the last word: “The film is at its best when the characters are simply talking to each other, creating a delicate, hypnotic back-and-forth between the humans and the new creature in their midst.”

Released on the US in 2015, it was nominated for a Hugo for MidAmericaCon which was the year The Martian won.

And yes, the audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes really do like it giving an eighty-six percent rating. 

(5) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born April 24, 1910 Albert Zugsmith. American film producer, film director and screenwriter who specialized in really low-budget exploitation films such as Sex Kittens Go to College and Female on the Beach through the Fifties and Sixties. So why am I giving him a Birthday, you ask?  Why it’s because he produced The Incredible Shrinking Man which won a Hugo at Solacon (1958). (Died 1993.)
  • Born April 24, 1925 Virginia Huston. Not a long genre history but an interesting one. Her first role was as Jane in Tarzan and the Jungle Queen (which was originally released as Tarzan’s Peril) and was advertised as being filmed on location in Africa. Next she was Lady Ellen Douglas in The Highwayman which is just genre adjacent, before being Carol Stratford in Flight to Mars. (Died 1981.)
  • Born April 24, 1930 Richard Donner. He’s credited in directing Superman which is considered by many to be the first modern superhero film. H’h. Well I’m instead going to celebrate him instead for ScroogedThe Goonies and Ladyhawke. Not to mention the horror he did — Tales from the Crypt presents Demon Knight and Bordello of Blood. Oh, and the first X-Men film which was superb. (Died 2021.)
  • Born April 24, 1936 Jill Ireland. For her short life, she appeared in an amazing number of genre shows. She was on Star Trek romancing Spock as Leila Kalomi In “This Side of Paradise” episode. She had five appearances on The Man from U.N.C.L.E. as well as being on Night Gallery, My Favorite MartianVoyage to the Bottom of the SeaThe Voodoo Factor and the SF film The Girl, the Gold Watch & Everything based on the 1962 novel of the same name by John D. MacDonald. (Died 1990.)
  • Born April 24, 1939 David L. Ross, 83. He appeared on Trek as mostly Lt. Galloway eight times though occasionally as Security Guard or Guard. Since one of his appearances was on “Trouble with Tribbles”, he also appeared on “Trials and Tribble-ations”.  His only other genre appearance was a one-one off on The Man from U.N.C.L.E. in “The Hot Number Affair”. 
  • Born April 24, 1947 Michael Butterworth, 75. Author of, with Michael Moorcock naturally, two Time of the Hawklords novels, Time of the Hawklords and Queens of Deliria. He also wrote a number of Space 1999 Year 2 novels, too numerous to list here. He also edited Corridor8 magazine from 1971 to 1974. He also wrote a number of short fiction pieces including one whose title amuses me for reasons I’m not sure, “Circularisation of Condensed Conventional Straight-Line Word-Image Structures“. 

(6) SPECIAL DELIVERY. Cat Eldridge wrote about Ray Bradbury’s special citation from the Pulitzer Board in the April 16 Pixel Scroll (item #9). We ran a photo of his agent accepting the plaque, but I just rediscovered the video of it being delivered to Ray Bradbury during his 2007 birthday celebration at a Glendale bookstore.

Unable to travel to the East-coast to accept the special Pulitzer in person, author Ray Bradbury accepts it on a special 87th birthday celebration held on August 25, 2007, at “Mystery and Imagination Bookstore”, in Glendale, California. ‘Logan’s Run’ author, William Nolan, presents the award, and ‘Ocean’s 11’ author, George Clayton Johnson, waxes eloquently around the fond memories of Bradbury, his influences, and his work.

(7) DON’T LOOK. Moira Weigel, an assistant professor of communication studies at Northeastern University, tells readers “What You Don’t Know About Amazon” in an opinion piece for the New York Times.

…If you are reading this, there’s a good chance you’re an Amazon customer. And if you feel guilty about that, it is probably because you are thinking about the warehouse and delivery workers whose labor Amazon exploits, the small merchants whose successful products Amazon copies, the beloved local bookstores whose bottom lines they undercut. Or maybe you just think about all the boxes piling up by your door.

You should feel guilty. I do, anyway. Convenience is not a good reason to participate in exploitation or waste. But guilt is a weak political emotion. In my experience, it can easily lose out to the 3 a.m. realization that Baby Two has soaked through her sleepsack and we need more Huggies Overnites ASAP.

But a series of product safety cases that have been brought against Amazon over the past few years makes clear that its rewiring of retail poses risks to customers as well. Above all, the cases highlight a significant gap between how most people understand the world’s largest e-commerce company and what that company actually does.

Conversations about Amazon tend to emphasize the company’s omniscience — the cutting-edge technologies that it uses to gather data on its competitors and customers and to discipline its workers. But in reality, as the scholar Miriam Posner has written, supply chains that drive global capitalism depend on “partial sight.” Companies are able to get customers so many things so cheap and fast because they know only what they have to; toward everything else, they often turn a blind eye….

(8) SPACE CASE. In “Judge John Hodgman on a Deathbed Request”, the New York Times columnist arbitrates an issue with a Martian twist.

(9) SCI-FI IDEA FOR LA SMOG. [Item by David Doering.] I can go months without finding anything off the wall, now I find several in a week! 

Here’s a sci-fi idea to clean up the air of LA in 1954. Big tubes would suck in bad air and expel it in the mountains. Wow. I love the phrase “…would be discharged harmlessly…” 

(10) BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY. [Item by Daniel Dern.] These two renditions of Bohemian Rhapsody aren’t new – though they may be to you.

Via Open Culture: “1910 Fairground Organ Plays Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” and It Works Like a Charm”.

First built in Paris by Charles Marenghi in 1910, the organ above quickly found a home in a Belgian restaurant. And there it remained for many years … until 1967, when it traveled abroad, to a Texas fairground. Imagine the culture shock it must have felt. But that’s not where it ends.

Nowadays, you can watch the 81-key organ play Queen’s 1975 hit “Bohemian Rhapsody,” quite different than whatever it was playing in Antwerp a century ago. Alexey Rom wrote the arrangement for the song, and programmed it using the strip of cards being fed through the instrument. Hopefully this isn’t the last stop on this organ’s grand journey.

“Literal Bohemian Rhapsody” visualized as a short live-action video via Uncrate:

You’ve belted it out in your car. Sang along during Wayne’s World. But have you ever really listened to the lyrics to “Bohemian Rhapsody”? Corridor turned the Queen classic into a shot film, resulting in a dark tale of drugs, crime, and a poor boy.

(11) DASHCON. [Item by Jennifer Hawthorne.] The convention in question is from quite a few years ago, but this post-mortem video is recent and might be interesting to the Filers. You could call it “How to NOT run a convention.” “Tumblr’s Failed Convention: The Story of Dashcon” as told by Sarah Z.

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, David Doering, Jennifer Hawthorne, Chris Barkley, Rob Thornton, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]

Pixel Scroll 4/12/22 If I Could Godstalk To The Animals

(1) SPEAKER FOR THE REDSHIRTS. “The Big Idea: Wil Wheaton” is a discussion of Wheaton’s new book today at Whatever.  

… In Still Just A Geek, I write a lot about the child abuse, neglect, and exploitation I survived and still struggle with. It was incredibly challenging to revisit (and in the case of The Curse, relive) all of it. In the afterword, I wrote that I expected that doing that work would lead to a catharsis, but all it did was retraumatize me.

That was true, until I narrated the audiobook. Over the course of six or seven days, I said everything I wrote in the book out loud. I gave a voice to the child who was put to work against his wishes at seven years old. I gave a voice to the teenager who was abused by his father. I gave a voice to the young father and husband who was struggling to provide for his family while he also struggled to figure out what he was going to do with the rest of his life….

Click here to read an excerpt from Still Just A Geek

(2) THE LIST. While we’re talking about the struggle against things that make life hard, Tobias S. Buckell adds this question:

(3) ORIGIN OF THOUGHT SPECIES. In the LA Review of Books, Brian Attebery reviews a book that examines the question “Who Controls the Narrative?: On David M. Higgins’s ‘Reverse Colonization: Science Fiction, Imperial Fantasy, and Alt-Victimhood’”.

Both politicians and political scientists know the power of narratives: there is much talk about who controls and how to alter “the narrative.” But neither group tends to ask where these narratives are actually, you know, narrated. In his new book, Reverse Colonization: Science Fiction, Imperial Fantasy, and Alt-Victimhood, David M. Higgins offers a fascinating look into the process by which such stories are generated and transformed into cultural references and societal roadmaps.

Higgins examines a particular cluster of narratives about power and identity, a cluster that is nicely described in his title: stories that use the iconography of science fiction to express fear of the other and resentment of loss of power, thus giving a boost to a number of reactionary movements, from Brexit and the cult of Trump to anti-feminist internet trolldom. Higgins traces the origins of a set of powerful tropes in print science fiction from the 1960s and early 1970s; he then follows their spread through media and electronic culture as well as their uses in political rhetoric and advertising. His choice of decade might seem unnecessarily limiting — why not go back to the Gothic origins of science fiction or forward to survey the contemporary scene? — but it makes perfect sense as he guides us through the paranoid visions of Philip K. Dick, the heroic illusions of Frank Herbert’s Dune (1965), and the crumbling empires of J. G. Ballard, and then shows how these and their contemporaries provided the imagery, language, and narrative tropes that continue to mold behavior and set terms for debate….

(4) REPAYING IT FORWARD. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times behind a paywall, Tom Faber discusses why far too many gamers are trolls.

…Two-thirds of gamers have experienced toxic behaviour in online multiplayer games, according to a study from games company Unity.  Anyone who has played an online shooter will be familiar with the abuse that fills your headphones and can escalate from ‘noob’ to ‘kill yourself’ within seconds.

Online gaming forums too are hotbeds of vitriol.  ‘Hate raids’ on Twitch–where mobs of trolls target streamers from minority backgrounds with spam and hate speech–have become so prevalent that streamers boycotted the platform last September in protest.  Anti-Defamation League research shows that marginalised groups suffer worst and that online abuse can cause real world harm, with 44 per cent of players feeling emotionally affected by attacks and 11 per cent of them reporting depressive or suicidal thoughts as a result….

(5) WE INTERRUPT THIS NARRATIVE. For those who just tuned in and for whom it’s important to believe that a genre that didn’t have a name until a hundred years ago was knowingly practiced by writers since Roman times, Grunge’s Richard Milner offers, “The 1,800-Year-Old History Of Science Fiction Explained”.

… But yes, science fiction does indeed go back to the 2nd century CE. That doesn’t mean that ancient sci-fi features cell phones, rocket propulsion, and quantum tunneling. Rather, it means that the recognizably current sci-fi tropes — extraplanetary adventure, alien races, space flight, and the rest — were present even back then, albeit in a softer, more fantastical form…. 

(6) GILBERT GOTTFRIED (1955-2022). Comedian and voice actor Gilbert Gottfried died April 12 from Recurrent Ventricular Tachycardia due to Myotonic Dystrophy type II. Primarily thought of as a comedian/comic actor by (likely) most people, he did tons of voice work in genre TV and films, mostly animated.

He was the voice of the wise cracking parrot Iago in Disney’s iconic animated film Aladdin (1992), the video Aladdin 2: The Return of Jafar (1994), and many more Aladdin-themed projects over the years.

His live-action genre film and TV work included episiodes of Superboy, The Weird Al Show (as “Al’s imaginary friend Gilbert”), and the last three Sharknado films. He also did voice work in episodes of The Ren and Stimpy Show, Superman: The Animated Series as Mr. Mxyzptlk, and many other sff shows.   

(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1979 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Forty-three years ago, I was at University which is where I saw Mad Max in a lovely old theater near there. Not a packed house but a decent gathering if I remember this correctly many years on. 

It was produced by George Miller and Bryon Eric Kennedy (who’d go on to Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior with him. He died at age thirty three when the helicopter he was piloting crashed at Warragamba Dam in New South Wales, Australia). 

The screenplay was by Miller and James McCausland. It’s his only screenplay and he shows up in Mad Max as the bearded man in an apron. 

Need I say who played the lead character here? I think not.

So how was the reception? 

First, it cost virtually nothing to produce, less than a half million, and made at least a hundred million globally. It holds the Guinness World Record for the highest box office to budget ratio of any motion picture ever.

Second, critics liked it. Or despised it. Philip Adams in the Australian Bulletin said that it had “all the emotional uplift of Mein Kampf”. Ouch. Whereas David Nusair of Reel Film Reviews stated that “Gibson’s thoroughly charismatic performance, along with Miller’s treatment of the film’s few high-octane moments, goes a long way towards keeping things interesting for the majority of Mad Max‘s mercifully brief running time.” 

It get an excellent seventy percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. 

It was not nominated for a Hugo but its sequel, The Road Warrior (with the alternative title of Mad Max 2) was at ConStellation. 

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born April 12, 1884 Bob Olsen. He wrote twenty-seven poems and stories that were published in Amazing Stories in the late Twenties and early Thirties. He’s said to be one of the first authors to use the term “space marines”. A search of both print and digital publishers does not show any indication that any of his genre or mystery fiction is now in-print. (Died 1956.)
  • Born April 12, 1916 Beverly Cleary. One of America’s most successful authors, almost a hundred million copies of her children’s books have been sold worldwide since her first book was published over seventy years ago. Some of her best-known characters are Ramona Quimby and Beezus Quimby, Henry Huggins and his dog Ribsy, and Ralph S. Mouse. (Died 2021.)
  • Born April 12, 1915 Emil Petaja. He considered his work to be part of an older tradition of ‘weird fiction.’  He published thirteen novels and some one hundred and fifty short stories. His Otava series, published by Ace Books in the Sixties, is based on the Finnish national myth, The Kalevala. He was named the first ever Author Emeritus by the Science Fiction Writers of America. And he was chair of the Golden Gate Futurians, a club of writers and fans, hosting meetings at his home in the Castro neighborhood of San Francisco. (Died 2000.)
  • Born April 12, 1921 Carol Emshwiller. I think her short stories are amazing and The Start of the End of It All and Other Stories collection won a World Fantasy Award. She’d later receive a Life Achievement honor from the World Fantasy Awards. I’ve not read her novels, so which would you recommend I read? Novel wise, she’s reasonably well stocked at the usual suspects but her collections are largely not there. (Died 2019.)
  • Born April 12, 1922 Vince Clarke. He first made acquaintance with fandom in the late Thirties, and was active as a fanwriter and editor from a decade hence including Science Fantasy News. He’d be the winner of the first TAFF in 1954 but didn’t take the trip. He worked on the 1957 Worldcon, Loncon I, and he was Fan Guest of Honor at the 1995 Worldcon, Intersection. He helped create the British Science Fiction Association. (Died 1998.)
  • Born April 12, 1936 Charles Napier. Well, let’s meet Adam on the Trek episode of “The Way to Eden”. Oh, that’s a horrible outfit he’s wearing. Let’s see if he had better genre roles… well he was on Mission: Impossible twice in a truly anonymous roles, likewise he played two minor characters on The Incredible Hulk and he did get a character with a meaningful name (General Denning) on Deep Space 9. I’m surprised to learn that he voiced General Hardcastle in the Superman and Justice League Unlimited series, and also voiced Agent Zed for the entire run of the Men in Black animated series.  (Died 2011.)
  • Born April 12, 1958 Elizabeth Klein-Lebbink, 64. A LA-resident con-running fan. She has worked on a variety of conventions, both regionals and Worldcons, frequently in the art shows. She has been a member of the Dorsai Irregulars. She is married to fellow fan Jerome Scott. Works for NASA where she’s co-authored papers such as “Measurements of Integration Gain for the Cospas-Sarsat System from Geosynchronous Satellites”.
  • Born April 12, 1968 Alicia Coppola, 54. She showed up on Voyager in the premier episode “Caretaker” as  Lieutenant Stadi. Depending on how you define genre, she was in National Treasure: Book of Secrets as FBI Agent Spellman, and had one-offs in Touched by an AngelThe Lazarus ManThe Burning ManThe SentinelProfilerThe Dead Zone and Teen Wolf. She was Dr. Ana Castillo in Blood & Treasure which surely is genre. 

(9) STRANGER THINGS. Season 4 is incoming. Variety sets the frame: “’Stranger Things 4′ Trailer Goes to War With Upside Down”.

The “Stranger Things” kids are all grown up and going to war with the monsters of the Upside Down in the official trailer for Season 4.

Set to a looping version of the pulse in Journey’s “Separate Ways (Worlds Apart),” the trailer sees Mike (Finn Wolfhard), Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo), Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin) and Max (Sadie Sink) enter high school, while Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) and Will (Noah Schnapp) are in California. As the friends navigate their different surroundings, a new supernatural threat surfaces, forcing them to once again confront the horrors of the Upside Down….

(10) RUN DON’T WALK TO YOUR NEAREST THEATER. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] This listicle of someone’s idea of the 15 “best” movie posters is a little over half genre. Maybe closer to 2/3 if you include all kinds of horror. YMMV. “These Are The 15 Best Film Posters Of All Time” at Buzzfeed. Images of the posters are at the link.

There have been many creative and eye-popping designs for film posters over the years, and a lot of them have become just as iconic as the films themselves. No matter how much they’ve told us about their respective movies, these posters made us want to line up and buy a ticket. These are the 15 Best Film Posters of All Time….

6. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

Behind the shot of Elliott flying on his bike in front of the moon, this poster is one of the most memorable images of Steven Spielberg’s sci-fi masterpiece. Invoking Michelangelo’s “The Creation of Adam,” this image is a marvelous display of a young boy’s first encounter with this magical little alien. 

(11) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Trailers: Critical Role’s The Legend of Vox Machina,” the Screen Junkies say that, even though we live “in a world where the only thing more boring than someone telling you about their dreams is someone telling you about their Dungeons and Dragons campaign,” this Amazon series, which raised $1.3 million on Kickstarter, could be the first successful adaptation of a tabletop game since 1985’s CLUE.”  After noting numerous board game adaptations that were failures (remember the Tom Hanks cheesefest Mazes And Monsters) this series “has so much D & D in it you’ll feel like you’re eating lunch alone in the eighth grade again.”  But then voice actor Matthew Mercer shows up and Mercer and the narrator have an epic voice rap battle!

The link is here.

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

Pixel Scroll 4/1/22 This Title Contains A Non-Fungible Tribble

(1) DIAL Q FOR MOCKERY. It may be April 1 but calling 323-634-5667 gets you the message: “Star Trek Picard Easter Egg: Real Phone Number Lets You Call Q” reports Gizmodo.

Which, of course actually works. Turns out, calling the number and not being fictional rogue geneticist Adam Soong however, just gets Q mocking you for trying to call the mighty, incomprehensible society that is the Q Continuum. Check out our recording of the phone message below:

If you can’t hear the message, here’s a transcript:

“Hello! You have reached the Q Continuum. We are unable to get to the phone right now, because we are busy living in a plane of existence your feeble, mortal mind cannot possibly comprehend.

“Furthermore, it’s pointless to leave a message, because we of course already knew that you would call, and we simply do not care. Have a nice day.”

(2) A FOOLISH CONSISTENCY. Daniel Dern sent this link with the caution – “Note, (Stardate) April 1, 2022.” “Timekettle New Cross-Species Translator Supports Klingon and Dog&Cat”.

The Timekettle team has launched cross-species language translation through its self-developed translation engine on April 1st, 2022. It is now possible to chat with aliens from the Klingon Empire, as well as with your pets via Woof or Meow.

Dern also suggested trying it on this: “GreenEggsAndHam” at the Klingon Language Wiki.

(3) PRESSED DOWN, SHAKEN TOGETHER, AND RUNNING OVER. What was Brandon Sanderson’s final take? According to CNBC, “Author’s record-breaking Kickstarter campaign closes at $41.7 million”.

Brandon Sanderson asked Kickstarter fans for $1 million to self-publish four novels he wrote during the pandemic. Thirty days later, his campaign has topped $41.7 million from more than 185,000 backers and is the most-funded Kickstarter in the crowdfunding site’s history.

Sanderson’s campaign surpassed the previous record holder in just three days, topping the $20.3 million in funds that smartwatch company Pebble Technology generated in 2015.

With the project successfully funded, Kickstarter will take a 5% fee from the funds collected, or more than $2 million….

(4) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites listeners to pig out on pork BBQ with Paul Witcover in episode 168 of his Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Paul Witcover

Paul Witcover‘s first novel, Waking Beauty (1997) was short-listed for the James Tiptree, Jr. Award. He’s also written five other novels: Tumbling After (2005), Dracula: Asylum (2006), The Emperor of All Things (2013) and its sequel, The Watchman of Eternity (2015), plus most recently, Lincolnstein, just out from PS Publishing.

His 2004 novella “Left of the Dial” was nominated for a Nebula Award, and his 2009 novella “Everland” was nominated for a World Fantasy Award. His short fiction has appeared in Twilight Zone magazine, Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction magazine, Night Cry, and other venues. A collection of his short fiction, Everland and Other Stories, appeared from PS Publishing in 2009, and was nominated for a Shirley Jackson Award. He’s been a frequent reviewer for Realms of FantasyLocusNew York Review of Science Fiction, and elsewhere. He teaches fiction at UCLA Extension and at Southern New Hampshire University, where he is the Dean of the Online MFA program.

We discussed the reason the pandemic resulted in some of the best years of his freelance career, the way he thrives as a writer when dealing with the boundaries of historical fiction, why his new novel Lincolnstein is “exactly what you think it is,” how he writes in yesterday’s vernacular without perpetuating yesterday’s stereotypes, what can and can’t be taught about writing, the reasons he felt lucky to have attended Clarion with Lucius Shepard, the effect reading slush at Asimov’s and Twilight Zone magazines had on his own fiction, what Algis Budrys told him that hit him like a brick, and much more.

(5) PATREON EXPLAINS IT TO JDA. Jon Del Arroz, who as usual says he didn’t do nothin’, asked Patreon to explain why they killed his account. They answered and he has posted their response letter — which mentions that “our guidelines apply equally to off-platform activity.” It would be ironic if Patreon bounced him for the racist and misogynistic tweets and YouTube videos he posts which those platforms permit to go undisciplined despite their own community guidelines.  

(6) AGING ORANGE. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Check out BBC Radio 4’s Front Row arts programme. Last night’s episode includes an item on A Clockwork Orange, it being the 60th anniversary of the novel. It was very interesting. Apparently there was an unpublished sequel which was basically having a message that art does not spread violence though society. Front Row – “A Clockwork Orange, the National Poetry Competition winner announced, Slow Horses and Coppelia reviewed”.

(7) WESTWARD HO. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times behind a paywall, Tom Faber reviews Horizon Forbidden West.

The one-line pitch is that you’re a hunter-gatherer fighting robot dinosaurs across a post-apocalyptic US.  With such a fun hook, nobody needed Horizon Zero Dawn to have a good story, yet its narrative proved unexpectedly compelling.  The game takes place a thousand years after rampaging machines have wiped out most of humanity.  Survivors have clustered into tribal communities who view relics of technology as objects of either suspicion or religious reverence.  The dramas of warring clans are narrated alongside the tale of how our world came to ruin. Guerillas struck gold with flame-haired heroine Aloy, who balances grit and tenderness as one of the most memorable new characters of its console generation…

Forbidden West is the first truly eye-popping flex of the PS5’s muscles, with graphics so beautiful that I have often found myself halting the adventure just to gawp at the landscape, whether dust clouds careening across the desert or forest leaves quivering in the breeze.  The robot enemies are ingenious works of biomechanical clockwork, shaped like snakes, hippos, ferrets, rams, and pterodactyls, with electric cables for sinew and gleaming steel for ligaments.

(8) CLARION WEST CLASSES. Registration for Clarion West’s Spring online classes and workshops is now open. Full information and ticket prices at the links.

This workshop aims to give you practical tools for evaluating publishing contracts. While it’s impossible to teach you everything there is to know about the legal side of publishing in a single class, it is possible to gain a general understanding of the rights involved and the practical mindset needed to protect your interests.

After a brief lecture on common publishing contractual terms, instructor Ken Liu (a lawyer and an author) will lead participants in interactive exercises to spot potential issues in language taken from actual contracts. Whether you’re looking at your first pro short story sale or an offer to adapt your novel into a TV show, the exercises in this class will help you.

Depending on the contracts used in the exercises, topics covered may include publishing rights (print, web, electronic, audio, etc.), performance rights, foreign language rights, media rights (gaming, film, and TV), royalties, advances, taxes, indemnification, etc. There will also be a Q&A period to address specific questions from participants.

This class is provided for educational purposes only, and none of the content should be construed as professional legal, tax, or financial advice.

With demand for transgender and nonbinary narratives on the rise, more cisgender (non-trans/nonbinary) people are adding trans and nonbinary characters to their stories. But what can you do to make sure you’re providing accurate representation? In this session, we will explore the “Three Es” of writing a trans/nonbinary character, the best craft approaches for each, and their potential pitfalls. We’ll also go over (in)appropriate reasons to write a trans/nonbinary narrative, general dos, and don’ts, and an overview of the experiences most often used incorrectly in stories.

This class for intermediate to advanced writers focused on craft to help you flex your funny muscles (since bones don’t flex). We’ll cover new ways to look at your funny fiction, techniques, exercises, the odd hack and trick- and culminate in a small mini-workshop where we’ll go over a piece you worked on!

This class meets three times: April 12, 16 and May 10, 2022, 11:00 AM to 12:30 PM Pacific.

This class will give an overview of the tools libraries use to discover materials and what makes a title more likely to be ordered for a library’s collection. We will also discuss the challenges and opportunities librarians face in acquiring materials and how authors can position themselves to be in a library’s line of sight when it comes to getting their books included in library collections.

We’ll cover physical materials (books and audiobooks) as well as the prickly digital (ebooks and audiobooks) library landscape.

Finally, we’ll also cover a little bit about doing library programs, like readings and classes.

Attendees will come away with a better understanding of how libraries locate and purchase materials and the limitations and differences between the library and the consumer markets.

You know it’s possible to be a successful short story writer with a full-time job, family, and hobbies. The question is, How? How do you get beyond the slush pile? How do you find the time to write when you have a million other obligations? This class will cover how to level up your craft as a short story writer and how to find the time, motivation, and persistence to stick with it while living a full life.

Suitable for writers at all stages of their careers, this class will emphasize self-compassion and give you ideas for how to level up your stories!

(9) HE WAS AN INFLUENCE ON BRADBURY. [Item by Alan Baumler.] Loren Eisley was a prolific science writer, and at least one sf writer liked him. About his book The Star Thrower Ray Bradbury wrote, “The book will be read and cherished in the year 2001. It will go to the Moon and Mars with future generations. Loren Eiseley’s work changed my life.” In “Erik Visits an American Grave, Part 1,059”, Erik Loomis traces the author’s life for readers of Lawyers, Guns & Money.

…As Ray Bradbury said of Eiseley, “he is every writer’s writer, and every human’s human.” This is a great description and his combination of interest in science, human origins, evolutionary theory, and what it means to be a human being continued to lead to best sellers. He quickly moved on his popularity to become the leading interpreter of science in the United States. Darwin’s Century followed in 1958. I haven’t read that one. I have read his 1960 book The Firmament of Time. This was an attempt to give people hope to live with science in an era of such astounding advances that it threatened human beings, particularly nuclear science….

(10) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1995 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Twenty-seven years ago this evening on BBC One, the Bugs series first aired. The series was created by Brian Eastman and producer Stuart Doughty with input from writer and producer Brian Clemens who is best known for his work on The Avengers which is why he considered this “an Avengers for the 1990s”. No idea if that was true having not seen it.

It lasted, despite almost being cancelled at the end of series three, for four series and forty episodes. It had an immense, and I do mean that, cast including Jaye Griffiths who was on Silent Witness early on (I’m watching all twenty-one series of it right now), Craig McLalachlan who was the lead in The Doctor Blake Mysteries, Jesse Birdsall who played Fraser Black in the very popular soap opera Hollyoaks and Steve Houghton who’s Gregg Blake in the London Burning series.

So how was it? I couldn’t find any contemporary reviews, but this later review suggests that it was a mixed bag: “Bugs is a mid-1990s British techno-espionage TV series, intended to be The Avengers (1960s) for a new decade. Wikipedia has the facts. Absolutely laden with Hollywood Science tropes, and quite prone to So Bad, It’s Good.” Another review noted that, “The show does have a cult following in the UK and in 2005 was released on DVD. The main cast have also spoken very highly of the show and the work they did on it, expressing that Bugs was deliberately ahead of its time and set a bench mark for other shows to come.” 

JustWatch says it is not streaming anywhere at the current time.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born April 1, 1883 Lon Chaney. Actor, director, makeup artist and screenwriter. Best remembered I’d say for the Twenties silent horror films The Hunchback of Notre Dame and The Phantom of the Opera in which he did his own makeup. He developed pneumonia in late 1929 and he was diagnosed with bronchial lung cancer which he died from. (Died 1930.)
  • Born April 1, 1917 Sydney Newman. Head of Drama at BBC, he was responsible for both The Avengers and Doctor Who happening. It’s worth noting that Newman’s initial set-up for The Avengers was much grittier than it became in the later years. (Died 1997.)
  • Born April 1, 1925 Ernest Kinoy. He was a scriptwriter for such stories as “The Martian Death March” to Dimension X and X Minus One as well as adapting stories by Isaac Asimov,  Ray Bradbury,  Philip K. Dick for the both series. He also wrote an adaptation of Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” for NBC’s Presents: Short Story. (Died 2014.)
  • Born April 1, 1926 Anne McCaffrey. I read both the original trilogy and what’s called the Harper Hall trilogy oh so many years ago when dragons were something I was intensely interested in. I enjoyed them immensely but haven’t revisited them so I don’t know what the Suck Fairy would make of them. I confess that I had no idea she’d written so much other genre fiction! And I recounted her Hugo awards history in the March 7 Pixel Scroll (item #9). (Died 2011.)
  • Born April 1, 1930 Grace Lee Whitney. Yeoman Janice Rand on Star Trek. She would reach the rank of Lt. Commander in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. Folks, I just noticed that IMDB says she was only on eight episodes of Trek, all in the first fifteen that aired. It seemed like a lot more at the time. She also appeared in in Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. By the last film, she was promoted to being a Lt. Commander in rank. Her last appearance was in Star Trek: Voyager’s “Flashback” along with Hikaru Sulu. Oh, and she was in two video fanfics, Star Trek: New Voyages and Star Trek: Of Gods and Men. (Died 2015.)
  • Born April 1, 1942 Samuel R. Delany, 80. There’s no short list of recommended works for him as everything he’s done is brilliant. That said I think I’d start off suggesting a reading first of Babel- 17 and Dhalgren followed by the Return to Nevèrÿon series. His two Hugo wins were at Heicon ’70 for the short story “Time Considered as a Helix of Semi-Precious Stones” as published in New Worlds, December 1968, and at Noreascon 3 (1989) in the Best Non-Fiction Work category for The Motion of Light in Water: Sex and Science Fiction Writing in the East Village, 1957-1965.  I will do a full look at his awards and all of his Hugo nominations in an essay shortly. 
  • Born April 1, 1953 Barry Sonnenfeld, 69. Director of The Addams Family and its sequel Addams Family Values  (both of which I really like), the Men in Black trilogy and Wild Wild West. He also executive-produced Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events which I’ve not seen, and did the same for Men in Black: International, the recent not terribly well-received continuation of that franchise.
  • Born April 1, 1963 James Robinson, 59. Writer, both comics and film. Some of his best known comics are the series centered on the Justice Society of America, in particular the Starman character he co-created with Tony Harris. His Starman series is without doubt some of the finest work ever done in the comics field. His screenwriting is a mixed bag. Remember The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen? Well, that’s him. He’s much, much better on the animated Son of Batman film. And I’ll admit that James Robinson’s Complete WildC.A.T.s is a sort of guilty pleasure.

(12) IT CAUGHT ON IN A FLASH. Cora Buhlert has a new story out. A flash story called “Rescue Unwanted,” it appears as part of the flash fiction Friday series of Wyngraf Magazine of Cozy Fantasy“Cozy Flash: ‘Rescue Unwanted’”.

After a lengthy and laborious climb, Sir Clarenbald the Bold finally reached the summit of the Crag of Doom. The cave of the dragon lay before him, its mouth a dark void in the grey rock….

(13) WHERE IT’S AT. The Movie District has mapped out the “Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) Filming Locations” with a combination of stills from the movie and contemporary Google Maps images. This is pretty damn interesting to me because I used to live two blocks from a few of the places in Sierra Madre.

(14) RAZZIES REVERSED. “Razzie Awards Backtrack, Rescind Bruce Willis Award – and Shelley Duvall Nomination as Well”The Wrap explains why.

The Razzie Awards have reversed their decision to stand by their “Worst Performance by Bruce Willis in 2021” award. “After much thought and consideration, the Razzies have made the decision to rescind the Razzie Award given to Bruce Willis, due to his recently disclosed diagnosis,” a statement by co-founders John Wilson and Mo Murphy says.

“If someone’s medical condition is a factor in their decision making and/or their performance, we acknowledge that it is not appropriate to give them a Razzie.” Willis’ family announced on Wednesday that the actor had been diagnosed with the cognitive disorder aphasia and was stepping away from acting.

The Razzie Awards came under fire on Wednesday for refusing to rescind the special award for Willis, and for making an inflammatory Tweet. “The Razzies are truly sorry for #BruceWillis diagnosed condition,” the parody awards ceremony wrote on Twitter. “Perhaps this explains why he wanted to go out with a bang in 2021. Our best wishes to Bruce and family.”

In addition, the organization took the opportunity to rescind another previous nomination – Worst Actress for Shelley Duvall in “The Shining.”

“As we recently mentioned in a Vulture Interview, extenuating circumstances also apply to Shelley Duvall in ‘The Shining.’ We have since discovered that Duvall’s performance was impacted by Stanley Kubrick’s treatment of her throughout the production.  We would like to take this opportunity to rescind that nomination as well.”…

(15) JEOPARDY! Andrew Porter says tonight’s Jeopardy! contestants struck out on this one.

Category: Books and Authors

Answer: In “The Story of” this man, his friends include Too-Too, an owl, Chee-Chee, a monkey, & Dab-Dab, a duck.

No one could ask, “Who is Doctor Dolittle?”

(16) JUSTWATCH – TOP 10’S IN MARCH. JustWatch says these were the “Top 10 Sci-Fi Movies and TV Shows in the US in March 2022”.

Rank*MoviesTV shows
1Spider-Man: No Way HomeSeverance
2DuneHalo
3The Adam ProjectUpload
4After YangResident Alien
5Spider-Man: Far From HomeDoctor Who
6Spider-Man: HomecomingRaised by Wolves
7Venom: Let There Be CarnageSnowpiercer
8Spider-ManStar Trek: The Next Generation
9InterstellarThe X-Files 
10The Matrix ResurrectionsBattlestar Galactica

*Based on JustWatch popularity score. Genre data is sourced from themoviedb.org

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Hancock Pitch Meeting” Ryan George explains that Hancock has a scene where one character destroys her house to prevent her husband from knowing she has super powers.  But the producer is troubled by another scene where Hancock becomes enraged and violent after he is taunted.  “How could that happen?” the producer asks.  “That’s just not in Will Smith’s character!”

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Cora Buhlert, Alan Baumler, Scott Edelman, Michael J. Walsh, Dennis Howard, Dan Bloch, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 3/15/22 Here’s One Weird Trick To Nominate For The Hugos. SMOFS Hate It. Click Here For More

(1) TIME TO PANIC. Nominations for the 2022 Hugo Awards, Lodestar Award for Best Young Adult Book, and Astounding Award for Best New Writer close at 11:59 pm Pacific Daylight Time (UTC-7), today, March 15, 2022.

If this was a cooking show, the judges would be yelling, “You should be plating!”

Or you could just panic.

(2) REGISTER FOR NEBULA CONFERENCE. The 2022 SFWA Nebula Conference registration is now open. The online event runs May 20-22.

We know that many of you have been eagerly awaiting the opening of registration for this year’s Nebula Conference, tamping down the anxious space bats fluttering in your stomachs as you waited for news. We are pleased to announce that registration is now open! 

Registration Price: $150.00 for One Year of Access Starting May 1st!

Register Here: https://events.sfwa.org/

This year’s conference is fully online, and filled with all the panels and networking opportunities that we can possibly fit into a three-day weekend! The 2022 Nebula Conference Online will once again host the SFWA Nebula Awards Ceremony. 

(3) A SPLASH AT THE BOTTOM OF THE WELL. Chris Barkley is excited that someone on the Chengdu Worldcon committee acknowledged his message “about the current status of the Committee on whether or not your group will be able to fulfill their duties in administering the 2023 World Science Fiction Convention.”  

This morning, at 9:58 am EDT, I received the following response from that account:

Chengdu Worldcon 2023:

“Hi Chris, thank you for the message and concern over the status of our committee. Since we are fully committed to run a most successful convention, we are working hard with locals for the best possible services for our members, including a very affordable membership package. The plan will be announced soon. Sorry for this delayed reply.”

(4) GAMES HUGO SUPPORT SITE GROWS. Ira Alexandre, proponent of a permanent Best Game or Interactive Work Hugo category, has updated the “Games Hugo – FAQ”. They’ve also written a series of tweets defending watching “playthrough” videos as an alternative way for voters to inform themselves rather than playing the games. Thread starts here. (See also “Games Hugo – Playthroughs”)

And if you don’t agree, well —

The category definition itself has been updated to prevent the possibility of conventions being considered in the category. 

(5) WERE YOU THERE? On Twitter, a cosplay fan pointed out a half-hour news documentary of the 1987 Worldcon in Brighton, UK is available on YouTube. “The Human Factor – World Science Fiction Convention”.

(6) MS. MARVEL. “The future is in her hands.” Marvel Studios’ Ms. Marvel comes to Disney+ on June 8. Variety remembers where it all began: “’Ms. Marvel’ Trailer: MCU’s First Muslim Superhero Debuts on Disney+”.

In 2013, Marvel Comics introduced Kamala Khan, a Pakistani American teenager from New Jersey who idolizes Carol Danvers, aka Captain Marvel. By 2014, Kamala had superhuman abilities, her own solo series and her own superhero moniker — Ms. Marvel — making her the first Muslim superhero to headline a Marvel comic.

Nine years later, Kamala is making history once again in “Ms. Marvel,” the latest Disney Plus series from Marvel Studios that debuted its first trailer on Tuesday. The series will debut on June 8….

(7) WHO SAID CASH OFFENDS NO ONE? “Do Ya Wanna Taste It? Thoughts on Peacemaker by Abigail Nussbaum at Asking the Wrong Questions.

I had no intention of watching HBO Max’s Peacemaker. The whole concept seemed to me indicative of the cynicism and blatant manipulation that characterize this most recent chapter in the lifecycle of the superhero-industrial complex. Superheroes are now the leading product of the increasingly consolidated entertainment empires vying for our money, and each of those empires is now promoting its own streaming platform. Ergo, each superhero property has to function as a launching platform for a spin-off show, be it ever so esoteric and hard to justify artistically. Did you think that The Batman‘s take on the Penguin was weird and over-emphasized, a waste of Colin Farrell under a distracting fat suit in a role that could have been played by any character actor in Hollywood? Well, just sit tight for The Penguin, coming to HBO Max in 2023!

It would be one thing if these shows were bad and easily ignorable. But the same self-correcting mechanism that allows Marvel to keep chugging as the biggest pop culture juggernaut in existence despite the failure of individual movies is clearly informing the production of these shows, which repeatedly forestall the “who asked for this?” reaction with top-notch casting, stratospheric production values, and (up to a certain point) good writing….

(8) MORNING IN THE METAVERSE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times behind a paywall, Tom Faber discusses the sf origins of the metaverse.

It tells you a lot about the state of the tech industry that much of its terminology is pilfered from dystopian science fiction novels.  Isaac Asimov gave us ‘robotics.’  HG Wells named the atomic bomb, and Neuromancer author  William Gibson came up with “cyberspace.”  Meanwhile in his 1992 novel Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson popularised the term ‘avatar’ to refer to the digital embellishment of a human in a shared world he called ‘the Metaverse.’  His vision of how humans might behave in a virtual world was quite prescient. ‘If you’re ugly, you can make your avatar beautiful,’ he wrote.  ‘You can look like a gorilla or a dragon or a giant talking penis in the Metaverse.”,,,

…The idea we’re being sold of the metaverse is essentially a video game, and it’s a dreadfully boring one.  All the exciting promises that glitter among the metaverse hype–the ability to socialise in digital spaces, engage in virtual economies, or build genuine friendships online–have existed in games for decades.  See the sophisticated societies in MMORPGS such as World of Warcraft and Final Fantasy XIV, or the virtual universe of Fortnite and Roblox. They are more like a ‘true’ metaverse than anything Meta has to offer:  virtual worlds where you can customise an avatar, spend digital currency, attend concerts and, in what is becoming a metaverse specialty, tolerate obnoxious branding partnerships with your friends.

(9) EASY BIRTH. Goodreads does a brief Q&A with authors Jo Harkin, Sequoia Nagamatsu, Sue Lynn Tan, Olivia Blake, and John Scalzi in “Today’s Hottest Speculative Fiction Authors Answer Our Burning Questions”. Here’s part of what Scalzi has to say about writing The Kaiju Preservation Society.

GR: What sparked the idea for this book?

JS: The complete and utter collapse of an entirely different novel I was writing and the panic that came from knowing I was going to miss a publication date unless I came up with a new idea, fast. To which my brain said, OK, well, how about big monsters? And I said, YES BIG MONSTERS YES, and then my brain dropped the whole plot into my head.

GR: What was the most challenging part of writing your novel?

JS:  Honestly, nothing was challenging about writing this novel. It was a complete and liberating joy from start to finish, and I completed it quickly and easily. I want my next 60 novels at least to be just like this experience. I may be willing to do some unspeakable live sacrifices to achieve this. 

(10) LESLIE LONSDALE-COOPER. Publisher and translator Leslie Lonsdale-Cooper has died at the age of 96 reports the Guardian.

…Following a move to Methuen, where she became a rights specialist, she met [Michael] Turner and with him began translating the Tintin stories, a project that continued for three decades. “Translation” in this context meant rendering Hergé’s Brussels slang into English utterances that could be fitted into the speech bubbles of Hergé’s original drawings. Leslie was especially proud of their invented Tintinian oaths, such as “blistering barnacles!”…

(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1973 [Item by Cat Eldridge] Some affairs are mostly harmless to use. The Hitchhikers Guide to The Galaxy phrase. So it was with The Girl with Something Extra series that debuted forty-nine years ago. That the lead actress was Sally Field tells you how deep the story was intended to be. She was a wife who had ESP, and her husband never quite understood her. It was intended to be cute, really, really cute. 

Rounding out the cast was Teri Garr, Henry Jones and Zohra Lampert.

One critic noted that “The plot for The Girl With Something Extra TV show immediately brings to mind another show that ended in March of 1972 after a whopping eight seasons on the air! That series of course was “Bewitched” which also featured a young newlywed couple with the wife having super-human powers that caused many problems for her and her husband.” 

The audience apparently didn’t grasp its charms and it was canceled after one season of twenty two half episodes. I believe that it might be streaming on Netflix. (I have four streaming services but not that one. I have Britbox, HBO Max, Peacock and Paramount. That’s quite enough, thank you.) 

Lancer Books published a tie-in novel by Paul Farman, The Girl With Something Extra. 

I see a signed script is for sale on eBay. Huh. 

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 15, 1852 Isabella Augusta, Lady Gregory (née Persse). Irish dramatist, folklorist, theatre manager. With William Butler Yeats and Edward Martyn, she created the Irish Literary Theatre and the Abbey Theatre. She produced a number of books of retellings of stories taken from Irish mythology. Gods and Fighting Men, all seven hundred pages strong, is the best look at her work. It’s available at all the usual digital sources. (Died 1932.)
  • Born March 15, 1911 Desmond  W. Hall. He served as assistant editor of Astounding Stories of Super Science. His writing career is best remembered for his Hawk Carse series which would as Space Hawk: The Greatest of Interplanetary Adventures in the Fifties. These were co-written with Harry Bates, Astounding Editor. Unfortunately, it appears that he never stayed in print, either in paper or digitally. (Died 1982.)
  • Born March 15, 1920 Lawrence Sanders. Mystery writer who wrote several thrillers that according to ISFDB had genre elements, such as The Tomorrow File and The Passion of Molly T. Now I’ve not read them so I cannot comment how just on how obvious the genre elements are, but I assume it’s similar to what one finds in a Bond film. One of these novels btw is described on the dust jacket as an “erotic spine tingler”. Huh. (Died 1998.)
  • Born March 15, 1924 Walter Gotell. He’s remembered for being General Gogol, head of the KGB, in the Roger Moore Bond films as well as having played the role of Morzeny, in From Russia With Love, one of Connery’s Bond films. He also appeared as Gogol in The Living Daylights, Dalton’s first Bond film. I’m fairly sure that makes him the only actor to be a villain to three different Bonds. (Died 1997.)
  • Born March 15, 1926 Rosel George Brown. A talented life cut far too short by cancer. At Detention (1959), she was nominated for the Hugo Award for best new author, but her career was ended when she died of lymphoma at the age of 41. She wrote some twenty stories between 1958 and 1964, with her novels being Sibyl Sue Blue, and its sequel, The Waters of Centaurus about a female detective, plus Earthblood, co-written with Keith Laumer. Sibyl Sue Blue is now available from Kindle. (Died 1967.)
  • Born March 15, 1939 Robert Nye. He did what the Encyclopaedia of Fantasy describes as “bawdy, scatological, richly told, sometimes anachronistic reworkings of the traditional material“ with some of his works being BeowulfTaliesin (which was the name of my last SJW cred), FaustMerlin and Mrs. Shakespeare: The Complete Works. His Falstaff novel is considered the best take on that character. Some of his works are available at the usual digital suspects. (Died 2016.)
  • Born March 15, 1943 David Cronenberg, 79. Not a director whose films are at all for the squeamish. His best films? I’d pick VideodromeThe FlyNaked Lunch and The Dead Zone. Though I’m tempted to toss Scanners in that list as well. ISFDB says he has one genre novel, Consumed, which was nominated for a Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a First Novel. Oh, and he was in the film version of Clive Barker’s Nightbreed. And he’s playing a recurring role in Star Trek: Discovery as Federation agent Kovich. 
  • Born March 15, 1967 Isa Dick Hackett, born 1967, 55. Producer and writer for Amazon who helped produce The Man in the High CastlePhilip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams, and The Adjustment Bureau, all of which are based on works by her father, Philip K. Dick.

(13) COMICS SECTION.

  • Bizarro shows a long-time household member having a problem with a new arrival.

(14) PRIDE MONTH. Honoring Pride Month, Marvel’s Voices: Pride returns for its second annual showcase of LGBTQI+ characters and creators in June.

Marvel Comics is proud to highlight its commitment to LGBTQI+ representation with stories that spotlight existing stars AND introduce brand-new characters to the Marvel mythology. Ranging from poignant to action-packed, here are some of the tales that fans can look forward to, each one capturing the joy and promise of PRIDE MONTH!

  • In last year’s MARVEL’S VOICES: PRIDE, Steve Orlando and Luciano Vecchio introduced the dreamy mutant hero SOMNUS,  who now stars in the ongoing X-Men series MARAUDERS! New York Times-bestselling, multi-award-winning author Charlie Jane Anders continues this tradition with the debut of another new hero to the Marvel Universe – and it won’t be the last you see of them. Stay tuned for more info!
  • IRON MAN scribe and lauded TV showrunner Christopher Cantwell takes on Moondragon’s complex legacy for a heart-bending story across space and time.
  • Shuster and Eisner-winning writer Andrew Wheeler makes his Marvel debut with the Marvel Universe’s real god of love – Hercules! Drawn by PATSY WALKER artist Brittney Williams!
  • Nebula, World Fantasy, and Locus-award winner Alyssa Wong reunites the Young Avengers fan-favorite artist Stephen Byrne in a story guaranteed to please fans new and old! Byrne will also depict the team in a vibrant variant cover that you can check out now!
  • Comedy writer Grace Freud (Rick and Morty, the Eric Andre Show) brings her talents to Marvel with a story about the power of responsibility featuring the Marvel Universe’s favorite gay ginger, D-Man! She’s joined by Eisner-nominated artist Scott B. Henderson in his first work for Marvel!
  • Television writer and podcaster Ira Madison III explores the legacy of Pride in his Marvel debut!
  • Champions scribe Danny Lore revisits the legacy of two characters long left in the closet in a tale of love and redemption! 

(15) PUTTING ON THE WRITS. NPR shows that even when you win in court, you don’t necessarily win: “Try as she might, Bram Stoker’s widow couldn’t kill ‘Nosferatu’”.

The world’s first vampire movie premiered 100 years ago. After a long copyright battle, Florence Stoker, widow of the author of Dracula, asked for all copies of Nosferatu to be destroyed. Were they?…

(16) A LARGER CANVAS. Rich Horton spotlights a first novel from a gifted short fiction writer in “Review: On Fragile Waves, by E. Lily Yu” on Strange at Ecbatan.

…On Fragile Waves is a powerful novel on a very contemporary theme, that if anything has become more powerful, more apposite, since it appears. It is the story of an Afghan family, fleeing the chaos in Afghanistan. At one level, it is purely naturalistic fiction, and very effectively so. But there is a fantastical level as well (or “magical realistic” as many reviews would have it) expressed in two ways — the stories the parents of the main character tell, traditional stories (with variations) … and, more obviously, a dead character who returns to haunt — or inspire — the main character….

(17) HOW MANY LIVES WAS THAT? A trailer has dropped for Puss in Boots: The Last Wish, the upcoming movie that stars Antonio Banderas and Salma Hayek.

DreamWorks Animation presents a new adventure in the Shrek universe as daring outlaw Puss in Boots discovers that his passion for peril and disregard for safety have taken their toll. Puss has burned through eight of his nine lives, though he lost count along the way. Getting those lives back will send Puss in Boots on his grandest quest yet. Antonio Banderas returns as the voice of the notorious PiB as he embarks on an epic journey into the Black Forest to find the mythical Wishing Star and restore his lost lives. But with only one life left, Puss will have to humble himself and ask for help from his former partner and nemesis: the captivating Kitty Soft Paws (Salma Hayek).

(18) OWLKITTY. NPR profiles the creator of OwlKitty in “Videographer imagines what it would look like if Steven Spielberg made cat videos”.

…MARTIN: In one of Charroppin’s latest videos, Lizzy co-stars with Leonardo DiCaprio in “Titanic.”…

CHARROPPIN: The hardest of it is not adding the cat, it’s removing Kate Winslet. That process takes about three-quarters of how long it takes to do video.

MARTIN: Lizzy has 6 million social media followers, which is something Charroppin and his wife hope that animal shelters actually benefit from. They adopted Lizzy five years ago.

CHARROPPIN: If there’s one reason to do all of this, it’s to mostly raise awareness that adopting cats is way better than going to get full breed cats. Anything that we can do to help makes it all worth it.

(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Game Trailers: The Elden Ring,” Fandom Games, in a spoiler-filled episode, notes this new game, designed by George RR Martin, is a world where “every animal, person and plant wants to kill you” and features a dozen different killer swamps.  But the narrator thinks the scariest monsters are the crabs and lobsters. “I haven’t been this frightened by seafood since I got food poisoning at Red Lobster!”

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

Pixel Scroll 2/18/22 My Name Is Scroll, Pixel Scroll, Agent 770, With A License To File

(1) #METOO. On February 12, attorney and former Weller colleague Cara Dehnert published an essay detailing her previous relationship with Bradbury biographer Sam Weller. The piece alleges mental, emotional, and sexual abuse from Weller, including rape. “What Happened To Me. By: Cara Dehnert” at Medium.

(2) TRUTHS ABOUT TRAUMA. Sarah Gailey sets the bar “On Trauma-Informed Writing” at the SFWA Blog.

… “A difficult or unpleasant experience that changes a person in a lasting way” is a descriptor that applies to most stories. In spite of the promises of a recent literary movement that strives to elide unpleasantness in storytelling, it’s difficult to make a narrative compelling when characters aren’t changed as a result of struggle. Further, a story in which characters endure traumatic experiences without changing in response to them is a story that can cause immense harm.

Narratives help us to understand ourselves and the world around us, and stories that depict trauma as a temporary inconvenience reinforce the idea that ongoing trauma-responses are unusual, or even a sign of weakness. This real-world impact bears out in the way many people process—or are unable to process—their own real-life traumas. Many trauma survivors find themselves questioning why they’re unable to move on from traumatic events. They’ve consumed narratives in which scary things happen, but when the scary things are over . . . everyone stops being scared. So why shouldn’t the same be true in real life?

Treating a character’s trauma as though it can be resolved along with the plot is disingenuous. Treating a character’s trauma as though it must be resolved along with the plot is dangerous. Both are profoundly disrespectful to the story being told…. 

(3) FEDERAL PREEMPTION. Publishers Weekly explains why “Court Blocks Maryland’s Library E-book Law”.

In a rebuke to Maryland state legislators, a federal judge has granted the Association of American Publishers’ motion for a preliminary injunction, blocking Maryland officials from enforcing the state’s new library e-book law.

“It is clear the Maryland Act likely stands as an obstacle to the accomplishment of the purposes and objectives of the Copyright Act,” concluded federal judge Deborah L. Boardman, in a 28-page opinion. Although the judge noted that the Maryland Act only requires an ‘offer’ to license and does not ‘explicitly require’ publishers to grant licenses to libraries, “this is a distinction without a difference,” Boardman concluded (lifting directly from the AAP’s brief), holding that the threat of civil and criminal penalties for non-compliance amounts to “a forced transaction” that “effectively strips publishers of their exclusive right to distribute.”

In enjoining the law, Boardman found that the AAP cleared all four factors necessary to grant a preliminary injunction—a likelihood of success on the merits; irreparable harm; winning the balance of equities, and that the injunction was in the public interest. But while the court entertained—and largely accepted the AAP’s arguments on each factor—the court’s decision ultimately came down to one simple finding (which the AAP also argued): the Maryland law is fatally flawed because it is preempted by federal copyright law….

(4) POKEMON. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times behind a paywall, Tom Faber reviews Pokemon Legends;  Arceus.

The game “comes as something of a shock.  There is rarely a surprise in a mainline Pokemon game–if you’ve played one, you’ve played them all.  While The Pokemon Company has spun its IP into the highest-grossing media franchise of all time, encompassing movies, merchandise and trading cards, there has always been an uncomfortable tension in the video games:  that they are supposedly about the joy of adventure, yet have been proven remarkably unwilling to tread new ground for 25 years…

…Like Harry Potter and all the most successful franchises for younger children, Pokemon sells a dream, a world that children desperately want to be real.  As a kid I yearned to make life-long friends with magical creatures.  Arceus is not the Poikemon game I dreamt of, but it gets close.  Game Freak has swapped the series’ aging skeleton for a promising new set of bones, creating a Pokemon game that feels fresh for the first time in over a decade.  It achieved this by finally taking a leaf out of its own book–to make like a Pokemon and evolve.”

(5) IT MIGHT BE SFF. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Legendary Director Francis Ford Coppola has announced he will be dipping deep into his own pocket to fund a passion project: Megalopolis. Coppola wrote the script around 40 years ago (though one guesses there may have been revisions since). IMDb gives this succinct description,“An architect wants to rebuild New York City as a utopia following a devastating disaster.” GQ described it as, “A love story that is also a philosophical investigation of the nature of man.” Variety interviewed him about it: “Francis Ford Coppola to Spend His Own $120 Million on New Film: I Don’t Care ‘About the Financial Impact’”.

… Speaking to GQ magazine, Coppola said that major Hollywood executives reacted to his “Megalopolis” pitch the “same way they did when I had won five Oscars and was the hottest film director in town and walked in with ‘Apocalypse Now’ and said, ‘I’d like to make this next.’ I own ‘Apocalypse Now.’ Do you know why I own ‘Apocalypse Now?’ Because no one else wanted it.”

Coppola added, “So imagine, if that was the case when I was 33 or whatever the age and I had won every award and had broken every record and still absolutely no one wanted to join me, [then how do you think they’re reacting now?] I know that ‘Megalopolis,’ the more personal I make it, and the more like a dream in me that I do it, the harder it will be to finance.”

…When GQ asked if self-funding “Megalopolis” could mirror his experience on “One From the Heart,” a massive flop that Coppola spent years paying back the bank for, the director responded, “I couldn’t care less about the financial impact whatsoever. It means nothing to me.”

(6) BRENNER OBIT. Film editor David Brenner died February 18 at the age of 59 reports Variety. In 1990, Brenner won the Academy Award for film editing with director Oliver Stone’s Born on the Fourth of July, sharing the award with editor John Hutshing. His genre film credits include Independence Day (1996), What Dreams May Come (1998), The Day After Tomorrow  (2004), 2012 (2009), Pirates of the Carribean: On Stranger Tides (2011), Man of Steel (2013), Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016), Justice League (2017), and Zack Snyder’s Justice League (2021).

(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

2005 [Item by Cat Eldridge]  On this day in 2005, Constantine was released in the U.S. Based off DC’s Hellblazer series, it starred dark haired Keanu Reeves as the much blonder-haired John Constantine, a decision that of course drew much criticism. It was, to put it mildly, produced by committee. The screenplay by Kevin Brodbin and Frank Cappello off a story by Kevin Brodbin. 

Its impressive cast included Keanu Reeves, Rachel Weisz, Shia LaBeouf, Tilda Swinton, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Djimon Hounsou, Gavin Rossdale, and Peter Stormare. I really Tilda Swinton‘s role. 

Reception among critics was mostly negative with Roger Ebert saying Reeves that he “has a deliberately morose energy level in the movie, as befits one who has seen Hell, walks among half-demons, and is dying. He keeps on smoking.” The film made his most hated list. 

Box office wise, it made nearly a 25 million dollars off a budget that was maybe a hundred million dollars. The studio has declined to admit how much the production costs were. 

Over the years, its rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes has steadily climbed now standing at an excellent seventy-two percent. Huh. 

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born February 18, 1908 Angelo Rossitto. A dwarf actor and voice artist, with his first genre role being in 1929’s The Mysterious Island as an uncredited Underwater Creature. His last major role was as The Master in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. He showed up in GalaxinaThe Incredible HulkJason of Star Command, Bakshi’s Lord of The RingsAdult FairytalesClonesDracula v. Frankenstein and a lot more. (Died 1991.)
  • Born February 18, 1919 Jack Palance. His first SF film is H. G. Wells’ The Shape of Things to Come which bears little resemblance to that novel. (He plays Omus.) Next up he’s Voltan in Hawk the Slayer followed by being Xenos in two Gor films. (Oh the horror!) He played Carl Grissom in Burton’s Batman, and Travis in Solar Crisis along with being Mercy in Cyborg 2. ABC in the Sixties did The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in which he played the lead dual roles, and he had a nice turn as Louis Strago in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. which is worth seeing. (Died 2006.)
  • Born February 18, 1929 Len Deighton, 93. Author of possibly the most brilliant alternative novel in which Germany won the Second World War, SS-GB. It deals with the occupation of Britain. A BBC One series based off the novel was broadcast several years back.
  • Born February 18, 1968 Molly Ringwald, 54. One of her was first acting roles was Nikki in Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone. She’ll later have the lead role of Frannie Goldsmith in Stephen King’ The Stand series. And does the Riverdale series count at least as genre adjacent? If so, she’s got the recurring role of Mary Andrews there.

(9) COMICS SECTION.

(10) WILD CARDS COMICS. Paul Cornell and Mike Hawthorne retell the foundational Wild Cards stories in new comic series, Wild Cards: The Drawing Of Cards #1 coming June 1.

Based on stories by Harold Waldrop, Roger Zelazny and series master-mind and editor, George R.R. Martin, Wild Cards is a fascinating saga set in a whole new world reshaped by the emergence of superpowers. The limited series, titled The Drawing Of Cards, will be written by a team of comic superstars, writer Paul Cornell and artist Mike Hawthorne, and serve as a perfect entry point for Wild Cards newcomers and a must-have new reimagining for Wild Cards aficionados!

Spanning more than 25 novels, 20 short stories, and written by more than 40 authors over three decades, the Wild Cards series tells the story of an alternate history where Earth is home to super-powered individuals. When a human is infected with the alien “Wild Card” virus, the odds are that they will be killed… which is referred to as “drawing the black queen”. Of those that survive, the bulk of them become “jokers”, left with some strange mutated form. A lucky few are called “aces”, those gifted with super powers they can put to use towards heroic goals… or villainous ones….

“As my fans may already know, the Wild Cards World holds a special place in my heart, so to have the privilege of announcing that an industry titan like MARVEL is going to produce the narrative from the beginning as a comic book brings me no end of joy,” [George R.R. Martin] added.

(11) ONE DOES NOT SIMPLY WALK INTO MORDLE. [Item by Jennifer Hawthorne.] You know that word game, Wordle, that’s burning up Twitter?

Well, variants are popping up like mushrooms after a rainstorm, and someone came up with “Lordle of the Rings.”  It’s Wordle, but you can only use five letter words found in “The Lord of the Rings.”  (Mind you, given how long the books are, that covers a lot of ground.) Find it here: “Lordle of the Rings”.

(12) THE PRICE DOESN’T SUCK THAT MUCH. A “Scarce First Edition, First Issue of ‘Dracula’ by Bram Stoker from 1897” is being auctioned by Nate D. Sanders. The binding is a little banged up, but surely it’s a bargain at $22,500?

(13) NASA NEWS. SF is discussed in this interview with NASA’s chief economist: “Astronomy, sci-fi, and the roots of the space economy: My long-read Q&A with Alex MacDonald” at the American Enterprise Institute.

… In the Industrial Revolution, a lot of the technologies that allow you to think about space flight come online, the most obvious one being pressure vessels, the other relevant ones being, essentially, large armaments. It’s not a coincidence that when Jules Verne talks about the technology for traveling to the Moon in his very well-known book “From the Earth to the Moon,” he essentially has the protagonists being underemployed armaments makers in the United States after the Civil War, who had incredible capabilities for developing large cannons, and they thought they might put them to a different use, a type of swords-into-plowshares initiative in the United States in the 19th century.

This results in a real explosion of stories about traveling into space. Jules Verne’s “From the Earth to the Moon” is written in the 1860s, but also written in the 1860s is the story “The Brick Moon” by Massachusetts pastor and writer Edward Everett Hale. He writes the first story about living on a space station. He and his brother, while they’re students at Harvard, basically come up with a concept for what today we would call a GPS system. All of these things are in the culture and in the literature.

Perhaps the most striking combination of these two themes of science fiction and astronomy is the story of Percival Lowell. Percival Lowell builds a little observatory, at which, later in the 20th century, the planet Pluto is discovered. I should say the dwarf planet Pluto. He is motivated by this idea of canals on Mars, which had been essentially emerging as a culture topic because of a mistranslation of Giovanni Schiaparelli’s Italian word canale, by which he meant channels, and which gets translated into English as canals. But Lowell sees these things, and he writes these books like “Mars as the Abode of Life.” And all of these popular culture works that expound the idea of a purported hypothetical Martian civilization, which, of course, gives further energy to the space flight movement overall.

That intertwining of astronomy and space flight ambition really is there in the 19th century, and of course, it continues up to the present day. The James Webb Space Telescope, of course, is one of the most exciting projects of our time. I was fortunate enough to take off some time from work and actually go down to French Guiana to watch the launch, and it was an amazing moment….

(14) HUMAN RESOURCES. This Netflix series isn’t about an HR department, but about aliens assigned to deal with humans. Airs March 18.

Life on Earth is pretty complicated. That’s why people need them. Welcome to Human Resources.

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Apple, Inc. has turned their Signal Boost dial to 11 to promote a new Korean short film shot entirely on an Apple iPhone 13 Pro. Editing was done on Apple Macintosh computers. Director Park Chan-wook’s 21-minute fantasy Life is But a Dream—plus a short “making of” doc—are both available on YouTube. The soundtrack is available on Apple Music. 9to5mac has the story: “Apple shares film shot on iPhone 13 Pro by Park Chan-wook”.

An undertaker who needs woods to build a coffin for the savior of his village digs up an abandoned grave. But while doing so, he accidentally awakens the ghost of an ancient swordsman. Now the ghost tries to take back his coffin.

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

Pixel Scroll 1/19/22 File The Pixels, Lest They Squeak Or Scroll

(1) LOTR SERIES TITLE ANNOUNCEMENT. Amazon Studios will be calling it — The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. The series begins airing on Amazon Prime on September 2, 2022.

Amazon Studios’ forthcoming series brings to screens for the very first time the heroic legends of the fabled Second Age of Middle-earth’s history. This epic drama is set thousands of years before the events of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, and will take viewers back to an era in which great powers were forged, kingdoms rose to glory and fell to ruin, unlikely heroes were tested, hope hung by the finest of threads, and the greatest villain that ever flowed from Tolkien’s pen threatened to cover all the world in darkness. Beginning in a time of relative peace, the series follows an ensemble cast of characters, both familiar and new, as they confront the long-feared re-emergence of evil to Middle-earth. From the darkest depths of the Misty Mountains, to the majestic forests of the elf-capital of Lindon, to the breathtaking island kingdom of Númenor, to the furthest reaches of the map, these kingdoms and characters will carve out legacies that live on long after they are gone.

(2) IN TRANSLATION. The Lord of the Rings on Prime also tweeted a video displaying versions of the series title in different languages – including two of Tolkien’s.

We’re assured by an expert that the Sindarin translation is accurate: “’Rings of Power’ Tengwar and Sindarin (Prime)”.

Amazon has published today not only the trailer for the series “Rings of Power” (see below) but also a teaser with the title in different languages. There is a Polish version (I will show it in a moment). There is also a Sindarin version! This is the correct Sindarin (you can see that the creators of the series have tried to get good Tolkien linguists). 

(3) SPACE UNICORNS SOUND OFF. You have until February 7 to make your voice heard:

We’ve set up a poll for Uncanny readers to vote for their top three favorite original short stories from 2021. (You can find links to all of the stories here.)

The poll will be open from January 10 to February 7, after which we’ll announce the results. We’re excited for you to share which Uncanny stories made you feel!

snazzy certificate will be given to the creator whose work comes out on top of  the poll!

(4) ALGORITHM RUN AMOK. The Fantasy Book Critic blog was buried under a massive amount of wrong DMCA takedown notices generated by the Link-Busters anti-piracy service, and for the time being has been removed by its host, Blogger, for the breach of TOS (Terms of Service). Link-Busters reportedly has acknowledged their mistake and agreed to notify Blogger. This reputable blog is one of the judges of both the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off and the Self-Published Science Fiction Competition.

The fans are trying to accelerate getting their blog restored through social media. Thread starts here.

(5) THEY’RE EAR-IE. It’s Edgar Allan Poe’s birthday, and Christopher Conlon touts these radio dramas above any other adaptations. “Edgar in the Air: Poe and America’s Golden Age of Radio”.

…Lots of these broadcasts still exist today, and they often make for compelling listening. I would go so far as to say that some vintage radio adaptations of Poe’s stories surpass, both in fidelity to the source material and overall dramatic effectiveness, any film or TV version ever done of them….

His list begins with this 1957 episode of Suspense — “The Pit and Pendulum”.  

(6) FOUNDING OF THE SCA. Fanac.org has extracted the story of how the Society for Creative Anachronism was started from an audio interview with the late Ed Meskys.

Ed Meskys tells us the story of the beginnings of the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA) in this short audio recording (enhanced with photographs). Ed played a pivotal role in introducing fencers Dave Thewlis and Ken de Maiffe to Diana Paxson, and has an insider’s perspective on how the “Great Idea” was born. Ed recounts how the First Tournament came to be, and points us to a contemporary report about it in his fanzine, Niekas. You can read the report on page 7 of #16 at Niekas This short recording is excerpted from a longer 2018 interview by Mark Olson.

(7) THE MATRIX HAS A FUTURE AGAIN. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times behind a paywall, Tom Faber reviews games connected to The Matrix.

The most interesting of the Wachowskis’ experiments in gaming was The Matrix Online (MX)O), a massively multiplayer online role-playing game released at the same time World Of Warcraft was becoming a cultural phenomenon.  Following the end of the trilogy, they wanted fans to ‘inherit the storyline’ and collaboratively write a narrative which would be canon in the Matrix universe. Over four years the game’s story developed in instalments, notably featuring the death of Morpheus. This collaborative cross-media space that the Wachowskis created feels imaginative even today, as we buckle under the weight of the extended cinematic universe of Marvel and Star Wars.

Just ahead of the recent film, a new playable Matrix was released. The Matrix Awakens is not a full game but rather a tech demo intended to show off Unreal Engine 5, the latest iteration of Epic’s software engine which powers many contemporary games.  It features (Keanu) Reeves reprising his role in scenes written by Lana Wachowski, including action and narrative sequences, before players are let loose in a stunningly realistic open world.  While you can do little more than play tourist in this space, it is a remarkable demonstration of the game worlds we can expect as developers get to grips with the new generation of consoles.  After a long period of silence, a return to the Matrix in gaming once again points us towards the future.

(8) AND TELL TCHAIKOVSKY THE NEWS. Cora Buhlert tells squeecore to roll over, it’s time to talk about a real trend: “How To Define a New Subgenre/Trend: The Speculative Epic and an Addendum to the ‘Squeecore’ Debate”.

… That said, Lincoln Michel is right that there seem to be more books featuring multiple intertwining timelines right now, that they share certain characteristics such as addressing social issues (though you could argue that The Star Rover address the issue of prisoner abuse) and that they mainly come from the literary side of the pond rather than from the genre side, whereas the predecessors were mostly genre writers. In addition to Cloud Atlas, the examples Michel gives are Appleseed by Matt Bell, To Paradise by Hanya YanagiharaCloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr, Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel and How High We Go in the Dark by Sequoia Nagamatsu.

However, I’m not just linking to this article because I’m interested in literary trends, subgenre formation and genre taxonomy (though I am), but also because Lincoln Michel demonstrates how to identify and define a new trend/potential subgenre without being a jerk about it….

(9) LEFT BEHIND. James Davis Nicoll says “Novels with a focus on demographic transition-driven decline are sadly rare in Western SF,” to begin his latest post for Tor.com, “Empty Earths: Five SF Stories Set on a Depopulated Planet”. One of those rarities is —

Knight Moves by Walter Jon Williams (1985)

A core-world alien, Snaggles, studies the social evolution of various carbon-based intra-skeletal species. Humanity’s past falls within its remit. Humanity’s present, however, is an inconvenience. Billions of humans interfere with field work. Therefore, Snaggles makes a deal with Doran. Doran can provide his fellow humans with immortality and vast power if they take his one-way tickets to habitable exo-planets. Most humans find the offer attractive. By the modern era, Earth has ten million humans left on it….

(Walter Jon Williams hastened to let his Facebook followers know it’s by no means a rare subject in his catalog — he’s written three on that theme.)

(10) YVETTE MIMIEUX (1942-2022). Actress Yvette Mimeux, whose place in genre history was cemented in 1960 with her appearance as Weena opposite Rod Taylor’s H. George Wells in The Time Machine, died January 17 at the age of 80. She also co-starred as an ESP-sensitive scientist in The Black Hole (1979), Disney’s highest budgeted movie up to that time.

Her other genre appearances included: One Step Beyond (1960 TV show, 1 ep.), The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm (1962), The Picasso Summer (1969) – based on a Ray Bradbury short story, Death Takes a Holiday (1971 TV movie), Black Noon (1971 TV movie), The Neptune Factor (1973), Bell, Book and Candle (1976 TV movie), Snowbeast (1977 TV movie), and Devil Dog: The Hound of Hell (1978 TV movie).

(11) GASPARD ULLIEL OBIT. French actor Gaspard Ulliel, cast as Midnight Man in the upcoming Marvel series Moon Knight, has died following a skiing accident. He was injured Tuesday in a collision with another skier. After being airlifted to Grenoble, he died of a traumatic brain injury NBC News reported. Among Ulliel’s many upcoming projects was La bête, a science fiction movie reteaming him with his Saint-Laurent director, Bertrand Bonello.

(12) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

2006 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Just sixteen years ago, Pan’s Labyrinth premiered. In Spanish, it was called El laberinto del fauno which meansThe Labyrinth of the Faun. It was written, directed and co-produced by Mexican-born and raised Guillermo Del Toro. Other producers were Bertha Navarro, Alfonso Cuarón, Frida Torresblanco and  Álvaro Augustin. 

It was narrated by Pablo Adán with a primary Spanish language cast (Sergi López, Maribel Verdú, Ivana Baquero, Ariadna Gil and Álex Angulo) with the exception of Doug Jones as the Faun and the Pale Man who of course has a very long relationship with Del Toro going back to Mimic which was based on theDonald Wollheim’s story of the same name. The “Mimic” story was nominated for a Retro Hugo at Worldcon 76.

Reception for it was excellent. It won the Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form, at Nippon 2007 which had dual Toastmasters in the guise of George Takei and Nozomi Ohmori. Children of MenThe Prestige, V for Vendetta and A Scanner Darkly were also nominated for this Award.

Critics really liked it. Roger Ebert at the Chicago Sun Times said of it that “Nothing I am likely to see, however, is likely to change my conviction that the year’s best film was Pan’s Labyrinth.” And Mark Kermode writing in The Observer exclaimed that it is “an epic, poetic vision in which the grim realities of war are matched and mirrored by a descent into an underworld populated by fearsomely beautiful monsters.”

Box office was quite superb as it cost just under twenty million to produce and made over eighty million.  Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give a near perfect ninety one percent rating. 

Usually I don’t note the figures made for a film but the Faun got some great ones including the NECA eight inch version which you see here in all its nightmarish glory. The Pale Man got his own figure as well.

(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 19, 1916 Bernard Baily. A comics writer, editor and publisher. Best remembered as co-creator of the DC Comics the Spectre and Hourman. For DC Comics precursor National Comics, Baily co-created and drew the adventure feature “Tex Thomson” in Action Comics #1 (June 1938), the landmark comic book that introduced Superman. (Died 1996.)
  • Born January 19, 1924 Dean Fredericks. Actor best known for his portrayal of the comic strip character Steve Canyon in the television series of the same name which aired from 1958–1959 on NBC. His first genre role is in Them! followed by appearances in The Disembodied and the lead in The Phantom Planet which you can watch here. (Died 1999.)
  • Born January 19, 1930 Tippi Hedren, 92. Melanie Daniels in Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds which scared the sh!t out of me when I saw it a long time ago. She had a minor role as Helen in The Birds II: Land’s End, a televised sequel done thirty years on. No idea how bad or good it was as I’ve not seen it. Other genre appearances were in such films and shows as Satan’s HarvestTales from the DarksideThe Bionic Woman, the new version of Alfred Hitchcock Presents and Batman: The Animated Series.
  • Born January 19, 1932 Richard Lester, 90. Director best remembered for his Eighties Superman films. He’s got a number of other genre films including the exceedingly silly The Mouse on the MoonRobin and Marian which may be my favorite Robin Hood film everand an entire excellent series of Musketeers films. He also directed Royal Flash based on George MacDonald Fraser’s Flashman novel of that name. 
  • Born January 19, 1956 Geena Davis, 66. Her first genre role was as Veronica “Ronnie” Quaife in The Fly reboot, followed by her widely remembered roles as Barbara Maitland in Beetlejuice and Valerie Gail in Earth Girls Are Easy. She also played Morgan Adams in the box office bomb Cutthroat Island before getting the choice plum of Mrs. Eleanor Little in the Stuart Little franchise.  She has a lead role in Marjorie Prime, a film tackling memory loss in Alzheimer’s victims some fifty years by creating holographic projections of deceased family members that sounds really creepy. Who’s seen it?  Her major series role to date is as Regan MacNeil on The Exorcist, a ten-episode FOX sequel to the film.
  • Born January 19, 1958 Allen Steele, 64. Best, I think, at the shorter length works as reflected in his three Hugo wins: the first at LA Con III for his “The Death of Captain Future”, the second for his “… Where Angels Fear to Tread” at BucConeer and his third for “The Emperor of Mars” at Renovation. Not to say that you should overlook his novels and future history series beginning with The Jericho Iteration, which is well-worth your time. 
  • Born January 19, 1962 Paul McCrane, 60. Emil Antonowsky in RoboCop whose death there is surely an homage to the Toxic Avenger. A year later, he’d be Deputy Bill Briggs in the remake of The Blob, and he played Leonard Morris Betts in the “Leonard Betts” episode of the X-Files. 

(14) COMICS SECTION.

(15) GENRE MUSIC TOPS THE CHARTS. In the Washington Post, Bethonie Butler says that the songs from Encanto have become very popular, with four songs on the Billboard Hot 100 and “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” reaching  #5. They’ve also gotten many fans on TikTok. “How ‘Encanto’ and its soundtrack became a viral phenomenon”.

… If you didn’t know the “Hamilton” creator was responsible for “Encanto’s” original songs, you would almost certainly know by the time you heard “Surface Pressure.” In the bouncy track, the brawny Luisa (Jessica Darrow) belts out her anxiety and resolve around the (literal) heavy lifting she takes on to help her family. It contains one of the most [Lin Manuel] Mirandaesque lines ever: “Under the surface, I feel berserk as a tightrope walker in a three-ring circus,” Luisa sings before asking, “Was Hercules ever like ‘Yo, I don’t wanna fight Cerberus?”

(16) THE SKY’S NO LIMIT. “Radian announces plans to build one of the holy grails of spaceflight”Ars Technica has the story.

A Washington-state based aerospace company has exited stealth mode by announcing plans to develop one of the holy grails of spaceflight—a single-stage-to-orbit space plane. Radian Aerospace said it is deep into the design of an airplane-like vehicle that could take off from a runway, ignite its rocket engines, spend time in orbit, and then return to Earth and land on a runway.

“We all understand how difficult this is,” said Livingston Holder, Radian’s co-founder, chief technology officer, and former head of the Future Space Transportation and X-33 program at Boeing.

(17) TODAY’S THING TO WORRY ABOUT. Newsweek is deeply concerned: “Earth’s Core Is Cooling Faster Than Expected, Creating Uncertain Future for Planet”.

A study has unveiled secrets previously locked deep inside the Earth’s interior that could have profound implications for the future of the planet we call home.

The research paper, published in Earth and Planetary Science Letters, shows Earth’s core is cooling faster than scientists had thought previously.

Scientists examined the conductivity of bridgmanite, previously named as the most abundant material in the Earth, that is found in great quantities between the core and mantle of the Earth’s interior—a place known as the Core-Mantle-Boundary (CMB.)

By experimenting on bridgmanite using extreme temperatures and pressures found at the CMB, scientists found that bridgmanite is about 1.5 times more conductive of heat than previously thought.

Consequently, the heat transfer of the high temperatures found at the center of the Earth to its outer areas, like the molten rock of the mantle and beyond, is happening faster than was previously thought….

(18) SMELLETH LIKE THE SHOW THOU LOVE. Last month, Old Spice did a commercial that ties into The Witcher. And Netflix ran a related quiz that’s still online: “Old Spice + The Witcher” – I’m counting on you to better my rate of 50% correct.

(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Trailers: Hawkeye,” the Screen Junkies say that “in a multiverse of infinite possibilities, even the lamest ideas must exist” and that the series features Hawkeye’s assistant, who is obsessed with branding, and a deaf character who doesn’t have to hear the characters surrounding her overuse the word “bro.”

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

Pixel Scroll 1/4/22 If You Like My File And You Think I’m Pixely, Come On Baby Let Me Scroll

(1) ACCESSIBILITY ISSUES RAISED ANEW. Mari Ness, who recently called out Discon III’s accessibility issues, today tweeted about another setback involving the Viable Paradise writers workshop. Thread starts here.

The “Accessibility at Viable Paradise” webpage discusses the provisions made by the workshop.

(2) SAVE THE CITY COMPOSER Q&A. “’Rogers: The Musical’ composer reveals a deleted ‘Hawkeye’ scene” — an Inverse interview with Marc Shaiman.

HAWKEYE’S POST-CREDITS SCENE was unlike anything we’ve seen before. While Marvel normally teases the future, their latest series ended with a victory lap in a full encore performance of in-universe Broadway sensation Rogers: The Musical’s “Save the City.”

Many fans weren’t pleased with this prime spot looking backwards instead of forward, but the scene paradoxically did something new. After 20-odd teasers and reveals, the most surprising choice was not revealing anything at all. It also allowed the fabulous music and lyrics of Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman to take center stage.

Shaiman and his co-lyricist Scott Wittman are Broadway legends, with Hairspray and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory among their many collaborations. But Hawkeye posed unique challenges: how do you create a show tune that fans would enjoy but Clint Barton would walk out of? How do you immortalize a classic Marvel moment in a silly but loving way? The answers involve a lot of lore, some speculation, and tons of encouragement from the brains behind Hawkeye….

There’s an official soundtrack (only) of the number here on YouTube. I also discovered a fan-made video performance version by “Stray and the Soundtrack” here which is a lot of fun.

(3) TOLKIEN SAINTHOOD. Francisco García, President of STP, the Peruvian Tolkien Society, reports they offered a Mass for the 130th birthday of JRR Tolkien and for the advancement of his Cause of Canonization on January 3. A video of the service is available on Facebook.

(4) COSTA BOOK AWARDS. The 2021 Costa Book Awards, a UK literary prize sponsored by a coffee company, have been announced. None of the shortlisted genre works are winners.

The prize has five categories – First NovelNovelBiographyPoetry and Children’s Book. The winner of each receives £5,000. The Costa Book of the Year will be chosen from among them and get a £30,000 prize. The overall winner will be announced on February 1.

  • 2021 First Novel Award – Open Water by Caleb Azumah Nelson (Viking)
  • 2021 Novel Award – Unsettled Ground by Claire Fuller(Fig Tree)
  • 2021 Biography Award – Fall: The Mystery of Robert Maxwell by John Preston (Viking)
  • 2021 Poetry Award – The Kids by Hannah Lowe(Bloodaxe Books)
  • 2021 Children’s Book Award – The Crossing by Manjeet Mann(Penguin)

(5) A KAIJU FORETASTE. Tor invites readers to “Download a Digital Preview of The Kaiju Preservation Society, the first five chapters of John Scalzi’s forthcoming novel.

When COVID-19 sweeps through New York City, Jamie Gray is stuck as a dead-end driver for food delivery apps. That is, until Jamie makes a delivery to an old acquaintance, Tom, who works at what he calls “an animal rights organization.” Tom’s team needs a last-minute grunt to handle things on their next field visit. Jamie, eager to do anything, immediately signs on.

What Tom doesn’t tell Jamie is that the animals his team cares for are not here on Earth. Not our Earth, at at least. In an alternate dimension, massive dinosaur-like creatures named Kaiju roam a warm and human-free world. They’re the universe’s largest and most dangerous panda and they’re in trouble.

It’s not just the Kaiju Preservation Society who’s found their way to the alternate world. Others have, too. And their carelessness could cause millions back on our Earth to die.

(6) BUTLER’S GEOGRAPHY. The Huntington has arranged some companion events and interactive online resources to enrich their “Mapping Fiction” exhibit. These three relate to Octavia Butler.

Lecture – Revisiting Octavia E. Butler’s Pasadena
Saturday, March 19, and Saturday, April 23, 2022
2–3:30 p.m.
Pasadena Public Library, La Pinturesca Branch
Free with reservation; limited capacity [ticket info available soon]
On two Saturdays this spring, Ayana Jamieson, local educator and founder of the Octavia E. Butler Legacy Network, will lead a moderated conversation about our desire to locate Butler’s Pasadena.

Walking/Driving Tour – Octavia E. Butler’s Pasadena: A Literary Tour
Visitors can take a self-guided walking or driving tour of the locations around Pasadena where Butler lived, visited, and often found inspiration. Tour maps are available online and in the exhibition gallery. You can also access the tour in Google Maps. After you take the tour, share your pic by tagging it #WalkWithOctavia.

The Literary Life of Octavia E. Butler: How Local Libraries Shaped a Sci-Fi Legend
An interactive map
 by the Los Angeles Times of Octavia Butler’s life in books.

(7) BOGDANOFF TWINS DIE. Twin brothers Grichka and Igor Bogdanoff (b. August 29, 1949) both died on COVID (on December 28 and January 3, respectively).  In 1976, they published Clefs pour la science-fiction, and from 1979-86 co-hosted the science fiction show Temps X, which introduced several British and American science-fiction series to the French public, including The PrisonerStar Trek, and Doctor Who. They also were involved a controversy in which it was alleged the brothers wrote nonsensical advanced physics papers that were nonetheless published in reputable scientific journals.

(8) JAY WOLPERT (1942-2022). Screenwriter Jay Wolpert has died at age 79. Before he started writing movies, he also created The Price Is Right TV game show. The Hollywood Reporter mentions his credit for Disney’s film The Count of Monte Cristo, and for helping to start another Disney franchise —  

…Wolpert then found himself as the first writer hired by Disney to tackle a movie adapting its classic theme park ride, The Pirates of the Caribbean. Once again, he channeled his Classics Illustrated love plus his affinity for pirates — he had once made a pilot for a swashbuckling game show titled Duel in the Daytime  — to write the script for Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003).

Three other scribes joined the film, but when the movie that starred Johnny DeppOrlando Bloom and Keira Knightley was released, Wolpert received a story by credit, and he would also receive a credit for creating characters in the four subsequent feature sequels. He spent the next decade or so working on several Disney movie projects, including a reimagining of The Sword and the Stone.

(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

2001 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Twenty one years ago, the first of four episodes of the RoboCop: Prime Directives series first aired on Space in Canada. The series, created by Fireworks Entertainment, consists of four feature-length episodes: Dark JusticeMeltdownResurrection, and Crash and Burn. It follows up directly on the first Robocop film. 

It was directed by Julian Grant as written by Brad Abraham and Joseph O’Brien who I guarantee hadn’t done anything that you’d heard of. Robocop here was Paige Fletcher who played the narrator in the HBO genre anthology series The Hitchhiker. Other primary cast were Maurice Dean Wint, María del Mar Geraint Wyn Davies, Leslie Hope and Anthony Lemke. 

Reception for the series was generally good. Allan Johnson writing for the Chicago Tribune said that it was “worthy of Verhoeven’s movie, never letting up on the satirical nature of the original, not shying away from the mayhem, and making good use of special effects.”  It didn’t do well on the Scifi Channel because, as usual, that channel didn’t bother to publicize it at all. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 4, 1890 Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson. Creator of the modern comic book by publishing original material in the early Thirties instead of reprints of newspaper comic strips. Some years later, he founded Wheeler-Nicholson’s National Allied Publications which would eventually become DC Comics. (Died 1965.)
  • Born January 4, 1946 Ramsey Campbell, 75. My favorite novel by him is without doubt The Darkest Part of the Woods which has a quietly building horror to it. I know he’s better known for his Cthulhu mythology writings but I never got into those preferring his other novels such as his Solomon Kane movie novelization which is quite superb. 
  • Born January 4, 1958 Matt Frewer, 64. His greatest role has to be as Max Headroom and Edison Carter on the short-lived series of the same name. Amazingly, I think it still stands thirty-five years later as SF well-crafted. Just a taste of his later series SF appearances include playing Jim Taggart, scientist  and dog catcher on Eureka, Pestilence in Supernatural, Dr. Kirschner in 12 Monkeys and Carnage in Altered Carbon.  His film genre appearance list is just as impressive but I’ll single out Supergirl,  Honey, I Shrunk the KidsThe StandMonty Python’s The Meaning of Life (oh do guess where he is in it) and lastly Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, a series of films that I really like.
  • Born January 4, 1960 Michael Stipe, 62. Lead singer of R.E.M. which has done a few songs that I could say are genre adjacent. But no, I’ve honored him here for being involved in a delightful project called Stay Awake: Various Interpretations of Music from Vintage Disney Films. Lots of great songs given interesting new recordings. His contribution was “Little April Shower” from Bambi which he covered along with Natalie Merchant, Michael Stipe, Mark Bingham and The Roches. Fun stuff indeed! 
  • Born January 4, 1982 Kerry Condon, 40. She provides the voice of F.R.I.D.A.Y. in the Marvel Universe films. More impressively, she was the youngest actress ever to play Ophelia in a Royal Shakespeare Company production of Hamlet. She also played Clara on three episodes of The Walking Dead, and I see she was Dr. Zoe Boyle In Believe, one of those many series that disappeared before anyone knew they existed. 
  • Born January 4, 1985 Lenora Crichlow, 37. She played Cheen on “Gridlock”, a Tenth Doctor story. She played also Annie Sawyer on the BBC version of Being Human from 2009 to 2012. And she appeared as Victoria Skillane in the “White Bear” of Black Mirror.
  • Born January 4, 2000 Addy Miller, 22. She is on the Birthday List for being Sarah in Plan 9. Really? They re-made that movie? Why? And yes she played A Walker in that other show. My fave role by her is because of the title, it was a short  called Ghost Trek: Goomba Body Snatchers Mortuary Lockdown, in which she was Scary Carrie Carmichael. And yes you can watch it here.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • Marc de Wolf relays news from Mars.

(12) GOING FOURTH. Arturo Serrano is on fire! Check out his review of Matrix Resurrections — “In ‘Resurrections,’ the toxic legacy of ‘The Matrix’ is the new villain to defeat” — at Nerds of a Feather. Beware Spoilers.

Lana Wachowski is very much aware of how dangerous it was to ask for another Matrix movie.

In the first scene of The Matrix Resurrections, a self-professed fan of Neo watches a deliberately inaccurate remake of The Matrix, one where the female lead loses. Then this fan intrudes into the narrative, rescues one of her heroes, and exits a movie theater, running for her life.

The title of the movie she’s desperately fleeing? The Root of All Evil.

What, pray tell, is the root of all evil? The love of money.

That’s the horror Resurrections is trying to avoid, and despite its corporately mandated existence, it manages to not lose itself.

(13) SOLE SURVIVOR GAMES. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times behind a paywall, Tom Faber reviews “battle royale” games where, like The Hunger Games or Squid Game, all the characters fight each other until only one survives.

In the world of gaming, the first titles to imitate Battle Royale, such as the visual novels Dangonrompa and Zero Escape, explored similar themes, but the big successes today are shooters with no such intellectual pretensions.  Here a group of players are dropped from a plane across a large map and must scavenge weapons and fight until only one survives.  These have become the dominant form in online gaming…

…The genre has also proved versatile. A number of non-violent games have offered eccentric takes on the battle royale, ranging from the candy-coloured obstavle course Fall Guys to Tetris 99, where 99 players stack blocks in a last-man-standing competition.  Today there is truly a battle royale for every player, and last week I finally found one for me–new release Babble Royale, a spin on Scrabble in which players parachute letter tiles on to a board and compete to be the last speller standing.

(14) THE BOTTOM LINE. For the fourteenth year, Jim C. Hines has shared his professional earnings results in “2021 Writing Income”.

… So while I produced almost two books, 2021 was a year with no original Jim C. Hines publications, which is a bit frustrating and discouraging. It also makes the income numbers more interesting, at least to me.

2021 Income: The biggest check came from the Delivery/Acceptance payment for Terminal Peace. While I delivered that manuscript in September 2020, the payment didn’t make its way through the system and get to me until 2021. I’m kind of glad, because otherwise this year’s numbers would be a lot more depressing…

(15) GET YOUR BETS DOWN. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] SF² Concatenation has just tweeted; its first advance post ahead of its seasonal edition (slated for mid-month). This advance post relates to its team’s informal bit of fun as to the best books and film or the past year. The SF² Concatenation have been doing this for quite a few years now and have something of a track record of some of their choices going on to be short-listed for awards (a few even winning). See here and scroll down.

(16) TRAILER PARK. From Disney+, The Book of Boba Fett Episode 2 trailer.

(17) A LITTLE OOPS. There were a lot of eyeballs on the big reunion – too many to miss a mistake like this: “Harry Potter reunion special mixes up Emma Watson and Emma Roberts: ‘How did this happen?’”

…The makers of HBO Max’s hit reunion special, Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts, accidentally swapped in a childhood photo of Emma Roberts for franchise star Emma Watson…. 

(18) A CENTURY AHEAD. Isaac Arthur lays out his “Challenges & Predictions for the Next 100 Years” – that will sober you up!

Every year has new challenges, every generation faces its own unique crises, and as we move into the New Year, we will look at the challenges facing us in the next century and set out Top 10 Predictions for life in the year 2121.

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

Pixel Scroll 12/15/21 A Pixel Upon The Deep

(1) CHENGDU MARATHON LIVESTREAM CONTINUES. The Chengdu Worldcon bid livestream was noted in yesterday’s Scroll. Alison Scott took a look at it and reported in a comment here —

The Chengdu bid has been running a stream each evening (11:00 – 14:00 UTC) on Chinese Youtube/Twitch style site bilibili, featuring SF authors and other celebrities encouraging Chinese SF fans (of whom there are millions of course) to join DisCon III and vote for Chengdu.

The link to the stream is here. Although i couldn’t understand the stream, I used Google Translate to read the chat; full of SF fans, mostly students, talking about their favourite books, movies and tv shows and asking how to set up a local SF club in their area.

(2) TOMORROW PRIZE DEADLINE. There’s less than one week left for Los Angeles County high school students to enter their short sci-fi stories in The Tomorrow Prize and The Green Feather Award competitions. Full details at the Omega Sci-Fi Awards website. Those feeling the pressure should read “5 Things that Inspire” by Clare Hooper.

With the deadline approaching, many find it intimidating to start writing. Writer’s block is the worst. But the best cure for writer’s block is finding a good place to start, and that may mean inspiration. Here are five things that inspired previous winners and honorable mentions of The Tomorrow Prize and The Green Feather Award to write:

1: Anime

The accessibility and popularity of anime has only gotten wider in recent years. With so many shows in dozens of genres, it’s easy to find something you may want to put your own spin on. Omega Sci-Fi Awards Student Ambassador and Tomorrow Prize Finalist, Gwendolyn Lopez found inspiration through Studio Ghibli films. These films usually have a thin line between the mundane and the fantastical, thus inspiring Gwendolyn to give a more introspective feel to her story, Star Sailor. Ethan Kim, an honorable mention for The Tomorrow Prize, took inspiration from a different anime show, Dororo, which features a young man roaming the countryside fighting demons. Dororo inspired the themes of godlike figures and a battlefield setting in his story Cold Ashes….

(3) TOP GRAPHIC NOVEL. “Bechdel’s ‘Secret to Superhuman Strength’ Wins PW’s 2021 Graphic Novel Critics Poll” announced Publishers Weekly.

The Secret to Superhuman Strength (Mariner) by Alison Bechdel lands on the top spot of PW’s annual Graphic Novel Critics Poll, garnering seven votes from a panel of 15 critics. A groundbreaking queer author and a true household name in contemporary comics, Bechdel is best known for her widely acclaimed 2006 graphic family memoir Fun Home.

In The Secret to Superhuman Strength, her long-anticipated third memoir, Bechdel celebrates the fads and fanaticism of fitness culture—including her own obsession with physical self-improvement—using the phenomenon as a lens through which to examine both queer and American culture writ large…. 

(4) RAISING KANE. Cora Buhlert posted a new Fancast Spotlight, featuring The Dark Crusade, a podcast focused on the works of Karl Edward Wagner: “Fancast Spotlight: The Dark Crusade”.

… Therefore, I’m happy to welcome Jordan Douglas Smith of The Dark Crusade to my blog:

Tell us about your podcast or channel.

The Dark Crusade is dedicated to the life and work of writer/editor/publisher Karl Edward Wagner. We are systematically moving through his work, discussing it from a historical and literary lens. In addition to the podcast, we have a companion blog that covers additional facts about the stories, links to scholarship, and overviews of some of the collections Wagner has edited….

(5) TAFF VOTING OPENS TODAY. Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund administrators Johan Anglemark and Geri Sullivan are now accepting ballots for the 2022 TAFF race. It will close on April 19, 2022, after Reclamation (Eastercon) in London.

You can download the fill-in form ballot here (US Letter; A4 will follow shortly). It has the candidates’ platforms, the names of their nominators, and the voting instructions. Voting is open to anyone active in fandom before April 2020 who donates at least £3 (GBP), €3 (EUR), or $4 (USD) to TAFF. Voting is also possible online here.

Competing for the honor are these four great fans: Anders Holmström (Sweden), Fia Karlsson (Sweden), Mikolaj Kowalewski (Poland), and Julie Faith McMurray (UK). One of them will make a TAFF trip to Chicon 8, the 80th World Science Fiction Convention in September, 2022.

(6) CAST A WIDE NET. [Item by Cora Buhlert] The Pulp Net has an article about Fritz Leiber, Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser by Don Herron: “Three sought adventure”. What struck me about this is that Herron not only knew Leiber, but also met Harry Otto Fisher, on whom Mouser was based and the resemblance was apparently uncanny.

… “Two Sought Adventure” saw print that August in the pulp Unknown — the first professional sale for Fritz Leiber Jr., who would go on to become one of the most-awarded writers in 20th-century imaginative literature.

The characters introduced, the barbarian Fafhrd and the wily Gray Mouser — the two best thieves in Lankhmar, and the two best swordsmen — would have many more adventures with the author till the end of his life….

(7) I’VE HEARD THAT NAME BEFORE. It appears to be Fritz Leiber month, because Grimdark Magazine also has an article about him by Ryan Howse: “The works of Fritz Leiber”.

… During their adventures, they battled men, magicians, and monsters, were in the power of two bizarre wizards who obviously did not have their best interests at heart, faced down the incarnation of death, survived the poverty of lean times in Lankhmar, climbed the world’s largest mountain on a whim, and plenty more. Their quests were often them following a rumour for fun or profit, with no grander schemes in mind….

(8) RAMA LAMA. “Dune Director Denis Villeneuve to Adapt Arthur C. Clarke’s Rendezvous with Rama”Tor.com has the story.

Filmmaker Denis Villeneuve is heading from Arrakis to Rama. After he finishes up Dune: Part Two (which was greenlit after Dune: Part One’s commercial success), the director will take on a feature adaptation of Arthur C. Clarke’s Rendezvous with Rama….

(9) OFF THE BEAM. Camestros Felapton has his own cat-themed series – Timothy the Talking Cat in the spirit of Zelig: “Missing Moments from Movie History: The Carbonite Manoeuvre”. Picture at the link.

An infamous cat-related accident on the set of the Empire Strikes Back resulted in this unfortunate outcome….

(10) ON THE DIAL. At BBC Sounds, The Exploding Library series begins with “Mother Night, by Kurt Vonnegut”.

In this new literature series, a trio of comedians explode and unravel their most cherished cult books, paying homage to the tone and style of the original text – and blurring and warping the lines between fact and fiction.

“We are what we pretend to be. So we must be careful about what we pretend to be.”

So reads the warning at the beginning of the novel Mother Night, in an author’s introduction written by Kurt Vonnegut himself. Yet in this world of unreliable narrators, editor’s “corrections” and weirdly omniscient first-person testimony, nothing is really what it seems.

Purportedly the “confessions of Howard J. Campbell Jr”, an American expat-turned Nazi propagandist-turned Allied spy (allegedly), Vonnegut’s warped collection of bizarre characters and slippery narratives invite us to cast aside our black and white notions of morals and guilt and survey the gazillions of greys in between.

Comedian Daliso Chaponda considers the strange world of people playing versions of themselves in public – comedians, spies, politicians and, to an extent, all of us. How do you deal with people perceiving you differently to your “real” self? And, for that matter, how do you know who you “really” are?

(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1974 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Forty-seven years ago, Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein premieres. The screenplay was co-written by Brooks and Gene Wilder who plays the lead role. The rest of the cast was Peter Boyle, Marty Feldman, Cloris Leachman, Teri Garr, Kenneth Mars and Madeline Kahn. 

The film was shot in black and white with the lab equipment there originally used as props for the 1931 film Frankenstein as created by Kenneth Strickfaden.

Brooks has often said that he considers it by far his finest although not his funniest film as a writer-director. Reception for it was generally very good with Roger Ebert saying it was his “most disciplined and visually inventive film (it also happens to be very funny).”  It won a Hugo at Aussiecon. It was a fantastic box office success earning eighty-six million on a budget of just three million. Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give it near perfect rating of ninety-two percent. 

Mel Brooks would later adapt this into a musical that would run both off Broadway and on Broadway.

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 15, 1923 Freeman Dyson. Physicist best known in genre circles for the concept he theorized of a Dyson Sphere which would be built by a sufficiently technologically advanced species around a sun to harvest all solar energy. He credited Olaf Stapledon in Star Maker (1937), in which he described “every solar system… surrounded by a gauze of light traps, which focused the escaping solar energy for intelligent use” with first coming up with the concept. (Died 2020.)
  • Born December 15, 1937 John Sladek. Weird and ambitious would be ways to describe his work. The Complete Roderick Is quite amazing, as is Tik-Tok, which won a BSFA, and Bugs is as well. He did amazing amounts of short fiction, much of which is collected finally in the ironically named Maps: The Uncollected John Sladek. He is generously stocked at the usual suspects. (Died 2000.)
  • Born December 15, 1951 David Bischoff. His “Tin Woodman” which was written with Dennis Bailey and nominated for a Nebula would be adapted into a Next Generation story. He also wrote the Next Gen story “First Contact” (with Dennis Russell Bailey, Joe Menosky, Ronald D. Moore and Michael Piller.) And he continued the Bill the Galactic Hero story with Harry Harrison.  He’s also written a kickass excellent Farscape novel, Ship of Ghosts. (Died 2018.)
  • Born December 15, 1952 Marta DuBoi. Her first genre role is on the Starman series as Dr. Ellen Dukowin the “Fever” episode though you’ll likely better recognize her as Ardra on the “Devil’s Due” episode of the Next Generation. She also had roles on The Land of The LostThe Trial of the Incredible Hulk and Tales of the Golden Monkey. (Died 2018.)
  • Born December 15, 1953 Robert Charles Wilson, 68. He’s got a Hugo Award for Spin, a John W. Campbell Memorial Award for The Chronoliths, a Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award for the “The Cartesian Theater” novelette and Prix Aurora Awards for the Blind Lake and Darwinia novels. He also garnered a Philip K. Dick Award for Mysterium. Very, very mpressive indeed. 
  • Born December 15, 1954 Alex Cox, 67. Ahhh, the Director who back in the early Eighties gave us Repo Man. And that he got a co-writer credit for the screenplay of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas before it was completely rewritten by Gilliam. As you know he directed a student film version of Harry Harrison’s Bill, the Galactic Hero at University of Colorado Boulder just a few years ago!
  • Born December 15, 1963 Helen Slater, 58. She was Supergirl in the film of that name, and returned to the 2015 Supergirl TV series as Supergirl’s adoptive mother. Also within the DC Universe, she voiced Talia al Ghul in in Batman: The Animated Series. Recently she also voiced Martha Kent in DC Super Hero Girls: Hero of the Year. And Lara in Smallville… And Eliza Danvers on the  Supergirl series..   Her other genre appearences include being on SupernaturalEleventh HourToothlessDrop Dead Diva and the very short-lived Agent X
  • Born December 15, 1970 Michael Shanks, 51. Best known for playing Dr. Daniel Jackson in the very long-running Stargate SG-1 franchise. His first genre appearance was in the Highlander series and he’s been in a lot of genre properties including the Outer LimitsEscape from MarsAndromeda (formally titled Gene Roddenberry’s Andromeda and there’s a juicy story there), SwarmedMega Snake, Eureka, Sanctuary, Smallville, Supernatural and Elysium. Wow! 

(13) TIME TO CROW. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times behind a paywall, Tom Faber reviews Death’s Door, a game he feels is strongly influenced by Legend Of Zelda, Dark Souls, and Hollow Knight.

Coming from tastemaking indie publisher Devolver Digital, I should have known better than to judge the game harshly.  Its mechanics are familiar but the plot is original and compelling, told with an economy that threads through every element of the game’s design.  You play a fledgling crow who is a new employee at a supernatural bureau of avatar grim reapers.  Your job is to collect the souls of those who have passed on.  Yet when a soul you have collected is stolen, your immortality (a handsome job perk) is compromised, meaning you will age and ultimately die if you cannot recover it….

Death’s Door is a game about being a small, fragile thing in a mysterious, dangerous world.  This is deftly constructed with certain characters and safe spaces scattered across the map which are colourful and memorable: the interminable bureaucracy of the celestial reaper’s office; your companion Pothead, whose skull has been replaced with a vat of soup; the gravedigger who gives touching elegies for those enemies you slay. The spare lines of dialogue tinkle with humour and specificity, helping you empathise with the mute reaper crow on his lonely journey to understand the meaning of death.

(14) BUHLERT AT VIRTUAL WORLDCON. Best Fanwriter Hugo finalist Cora Buhlert has posted her virtual DisCon III schedule: “Cora goes virtually to DisCon III, the 2021 Worldcon”. Her first panel is Thursday.

(15) COMING DOWN A CHIMNEY NEAR YOU. The Washington Post’s Michael Dirda rescues last-minute shoppers with his list of “Gift books 2021: Mysteries, ghost stories and other treats”.

‘The Valancourt Book of Victorian Christmas Ghost Stories: Volume 5,’ edited by Christopher Philippo (Valancourt)

This latest in an annual series again demonstrates that chills and frights still linger in the browning pages of old magazines and Christmas albums. Philippo reprints two fine tales I’ve read elsewhere — Amelia B. Edwards’s “My Brother’s Ghost Story” and Barry Pain’s “The Undying Thing” — but all his other choices were unfamiliar to me. Since James Skipp Borlase is represented by two stories, I decided to read them first….

(16) YA BOOK SUGGESTIONS. Tara Goetjen on YA horror, paranormal, and ghost story novels crime fiction fans might like. “Genre-Bending YA Novels Perfect For Crime Fans” at CrimeReads.

… To me, this is the great intrigue of a genre-bending thriller. There should always be, without fail, a human face behind the mystery or the bloodshed, just like there is in No Beauties or Monsters [her new book]. But whether or not there is a shadowy, inexplicable, perhaps unbelievable force also wielding terror… well, that’s why we read on till the very end. Here are some other genre-bending young adult novels with speculative elements that kept me reading till the very end too….

(17) LET US NOW PRAISE FAMOUS HOBBITS. GameRant’s Alice Rose Dodds delves into the books to help fans of the LOTR movies answer the question  “What Exactly Is Shire Reckoning?” — “What exactly is this measurement of time, and how does It differ from others in Middle Earth?”

…It is little known that there was a vast long period of time before which any hobbits ever came to rest in The Shire. Hobbits, being of a homely nature and loving their beautiful holes beyond all else, dislike to remember this fact, for they see those days as terrible days, before the comfort of a simple life was discovered… 

(18) IT’S BEGINNING TO LOOK AT LOT LIKE CHRISTMAS. But don’t be fooled.  “Christmas Movies Show How Fake Snow Evolved, From ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ To Harry Potter” at LAist.

Watching classic holiday movies is a journey through the technology used to create yuletide joy in different generations. We once used asbestos as movie snow — now the technology ranges from computer graphics to a special type of paper.

In the early days of film, Hollywood “snowmen” would take anything that could be seen as white and flaky and put it to use, author and Atlas Obscura editor April White told LAist. Those sources of flaky whiteness included bleached cornflakes, gypsum, salt, concrete dust, asbestos, and even chicken feathers….

(19) THE LATEST STRANDS. Richard Lawson sorts the cycles of Spider-Man movies for Vanity Fair readers and comments on the new trailer in “Spider-Man: No Way Home Is a Very Tangled Web”.

…Well, to be fair, Spider-Man was always a Marvel property; he just lives at Sony because of deals that long predate Kevin Feige’s Disney-backed conquest of the content cosmos. In that sense, No Way Home is mostly just a triumph of studio executives agreeing on things and actors making their schedules work. A feat unto itself, I suppose…

(20) WEB CASTER VS. SPELL CASTER. Doctor Strange and Spider-man battle it out in the mirror dimension in this clip of the Spider-Man vs Doctor Strange fight scene from Spider-Man: No Way Home.

[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Rob Thornton, Cora Buhlert, Jeffrey Smith, Johan Anglemark, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Steve Davidson, part of “The Hugo Pixel Scroll Winners” series.]