Pixel Scroll 12/28/22 Goodnight, Barsoom

(1) YOU’RE INVITED TO THE PARTY. File 770’s 45th anniversary celebration begins soon after the turn of the year. The 45th birthday of the fanzine is on January 6, and the 15th anniversary of the blog is on January 15. Is there something you can contribute to the occasion? It doesn’t have to be about File 770 – a book review, a parody filksong, a guest opinion post, a piece about your favorite Korean TV show – anything in the realm of sff and fandom that you’re passionate about. Contact me at mikeglyer (at) cs (dot) com.

(2) BIG TICKET ITEMS. AbeBooks’ list of ten “Most expensive sales in 2022” kicks off with the nonfiction volume I Quattro Libri dell Architettura by Andrea Palladio in first place with a $57,750 price tag. Genre works occupy the fifth and sixth position.

#5 — The Time Machine by H.G. Wells – $30,500

Published by Henry Holt, this is the 1895 first edition of The Time Machine with the author’s name misspelled as H.S. Wells on the title page. This copy is signed by Wells just below the names of the previous owners. The Time Machine was the author’s first novel and has become a cornerstone of science fiction with its time traveling theme.

#6 — The Tour of the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne – $30,000

Better known as Around the World in 80 Days, this is the first American printing of Verne’s story. The book was rebound in 1952 in green calf leather. It was owned by Mrs. Nellie W. Pillsbury. One of Nellie’s daughters, Nellie Ruth King, was the mother of the author Stephen King. The book was accompanied by a handwritten note from Verne, signed and dated October 1883, where he describes two upcoming titles. In addition, a handwritten note from American author Nellie Bly is tipped into the book. Inspired by Verne, Bly made her own trip around the globe and wrote a book called Around the World in Seventy-Two Days.

(3) NEW TEST RULE. Beginning January 5, the U.S. is instituting a new requirement for travelers from China: “US to require travelers from China to show negative Covid-19 test result before flight” reports CNN.

The United States will require all travelers from China to show a negative Covid-19 test result before flying to the country as Beijing’s rapid easing of Covid-19 restrictions leads to a surge in cases.

Passengers flying to the US from China will need to get a test no more than two days before flying, federal health officials said, and present proof of the negative test to their airline before boarding.

The tests can be either a PCR test or an antigen self-test administered through a telehealth service.

The requirement will apply both to passengers flying directly to the United States from China as well to passengers flying through popular third-country gateways, including Seoul, Toronto and Vancouver.

Passengers who test positive more than 10 days before their flight can provide documentation of their recovery in lieu of a negative test result.

The new rules take effect at 12:01 a.m. ET on January 5….

(4) FIRE RECOVERY FUNDRAISER. [Item by Steven H Silver.] Lisa Garrison, who has long been active in MarCon, has run Windycon’s children’s programming for several years, and chaired the 2020 NASFIC in Columbus/Online suffered a devastating house fire on December 23 and lost everything, including her pets (although Lisa and her children are okay.)  A GoFundMe has been set up: “Fire Recovery Fund Lisa Garrison & Family”. At this writing $28,594 of the $35,000 goal has been donated.

….They lost their house in a fire early this morning and have lost everything, including their beloved pets. I am heartbroken and doing all that I can to help ease the loss, but I know that many people far and wide love Lisa, Seamus, and Jade, and will also want to help. We would love if you chip in to help them get on their feet, and try to pick up the pieces after this horrific loss. God bless you and Merry Christmas!

We are so very thankful for the immense outpouring of support, but as the days pass the amount of items that were lost continues to grow, and the need is so very great. Lisa & the kids are overwhelmed with gratitude from their community, but I know that they will need as much help as we can all give them!

(5) MIKE CAREY Q&A. Moid over at Media Death Cult has an interview with Mike Carey.

Mike Carey (The Girl With All The Gifts, X-Men, Lucifer, Hellblazer) is an English comic, novel and screenplay writer who bloody loves the end of the world.

(6) MARK YOUR CALENDARS. Sharon Lee and Steve Miller of the Liaden Universe® chart the first half of 2023 for fans – what’s being published, and where you can meet them.

January 3, 2023 Chicks in Tank Tops publication date.  Edited by Jason Cordova, with brand new stories from Esther Friesner, Kevin Ikenberry, Jody Lynn Nye, Joelle Presby, Marisa Wolf, Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, and?  More!  No, honestly, there’s a whole lot of good reading in this book, and you don’t want to miss out.  Available from your favorite bookstore.

January 5, 2023:  Rembrandt’s Station by Christie Meierz releases, a happy fact that will be celebrated by a Zoom launch party on January 7.  Steve and I will be there, and hope that you will, too.  Party details here

February 17-19, 2023:  Boskone 60.  GOHs: Nalo Hopkinson, Vito Ngai, Tui T. Sutherland, Dave Clement.  Steve Miller and Sharon Lee will be attending in person after a several year gap.  We cannot yet reveal our schedules, but we can say that we will be reading from Salvage Right, the 100th Lee and Miller collaboration; participating in a few panels, and hosting a kaffeeklatsch.  Hope to see you there.  Here’s your link to register

February 28, 2023:  The anniversary re-issue of the classic Liaden Regency, Scout’s Progress, with a new and exciting cover by Sam Kennedy, and! a new foreword by the authors, releases from All the Usual Suspects.

Looking a little further down the line — April 28-30, 2023:  Heliosphere 2023.  GOHs: Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, David M. Mattingly.  Registration is open and though it is a thought over four months away, we urge you to register now.  Heliosphere is a small con and depends on its pre-registrations.  Here’s your link.

And, going way, way out, now — July 4, 2023Salvage Right, the 25th novel set in the Liaden Universe® created by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller back in the last century, releases from all of your favorite bookstores.

(7) WHO KNEW? Flying Cars and Food Pills is Steve Carper’s Retrofuturism site. Among its many offerings is an article about an atomic bomb mystery story published during WWII that the FBI investigated – not the Cleve Cartmill story you already know about, but “The Last Secret” by Dana Chambers.

…If the government investigated Cartmill’s story, then why didn’t they spot The Last Secret? They did. The only difference is that the mystery world doesn’t have the obsessive fan grapevine that the f&sf world has and had.

The government’s virtually unknown actions are laid out in a wonderfully informative paper by Patrick S. Washburn presented at the Annual Meeting of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (July 2-5, 1988): “The Office of Censorship’s Attempt to Control Press Coverage of the Atomic Bomb during World War II.”…

(8) GNOME PRESS. Steve Carper also has a site devoted to an early sff publisher: “Gnome Press: The Complete History and Bibliography”. Here’s an excerpt from the introduction.

Hard to believe today, but before World War II not a single mainstream publisher in America would publish a genre science fiction or fantasy novel. H. G. Wells had once been so fanatically popular that publishers would pirate his works if they couldn’t get them legitimately, but the coming of the pulp magazine era destroyed the reputation of the field. Science fiction was written by subliterates for subliterates, or so went the opinion of the literary world….

A few science fiction fans saw a niche. They pooled what seems today like pitifully small amounts of money and started small presses. There was Shasta and Prime Press and the New Collector’s Group and Fantasy Press and Hadley Publishing and the Buffalo Book Company and many more.

Perhaps the most ambitious, the most professional, the most forward thinking, the most successful – all attributes that the acolytes of the other presses will forever dispute – was brought into being as The Gnome Press, Inc. Martin L. Greenberg, who must always be carefully introduced as no relation to the anthologist Martin H. Greenberg, wanted to do more than resurrect older stories from their living death in browning pulp magazines – although he did much of that, very successfully; he wanted to make modern science fiction and fantasy part of the modern world of publishing….

And another excerpt from “The History of Gnome Press”:

… Greenberg had no experience in publishing, especially with regards to the printing the book and getting it out the door function, far more important for a small press in 1948 than any other aspect of the job. He turned to David A. Kyle, who essentially grew up in fandom, reading the pulps from his early teens, and turning into a letter hack, fanzine publisher, founder of fan groups, and all-around friend of everybody in New York fandom, somewhat like being a music junkie in 1967 San Francisco….

(9) DILLONS AND THE SPOKEN WORD. Artist and designer John Coulthart chronicles the album covers produced by a couple who were among sff’s most famous artists: “The Dillons at Caedmon”. The post includes many images.

There’s a lot you could write about illustrators Leo and Diane Dillon. They were very prolific for a start, creating many book covers and interior illustrations in a variety of styles and different media. They also maintained a long-running association with Harlan Ellison whose praise for the pair was never less than fulsome. Like Bob Pepper and other versatile illustrators, they created art for album covers as well as books, with regular commissions from Caedmon Records, a label that specialises in spoken-word recordings….

(10) MEMORY LANE.

[By Cat Eldridge.] Terry Pratchett statue

There is apparently to be a statue of Terry Pratchett. Or so it is thought. So the sculptor, Paul Kirby, announced on his site in 2016: “I am delighted that Salisbury City Council has given the thumbs up to the proposal of a bronze statue of Sir Terry Pratchett for the city.  Designs and plans can now progress to the next stage.  I am proud to be the chosen artist to create this piece and very much look forward to sculpting Terry. I hope the end result will be an unsentimental and a happy depiction of the author, which celebrates his achievements both literary and philanthropic and brings pride to the people of Salisbury.” 

Let me show you the proposed statue. The sketch below until recently (I’ll explain that in a minute) was all that existed of the idea. It was to be crowdfunded according to the sculptor and that really, really didn’t happen. But then hundred thousand dollar statues generally need government and foundation backing, don’t they? 

The campaign had received the enthusiastic support of Pratchett’s family, as well as his friend and fellow author Neil Gaiman. That however was six years ago as I noted above and until this year, not a word more we heard about it. Is it moving forward? Who knows? 

However the concept of a seven foot-and- a-half statue has turned into one solitary bronze bust that you can see below. According to the news stories, that’s all the sculptor has completed in six years as “he said getting the expression right was especially hard, trying to portray Pratchett as not unhappy, but not smiling too much.” Left absolutely unsaid was if funding had been raised to do the statue itself. My guess? If it had been raised, it’d been shouted from here to Discworld that it had. 

For now, it’s safe to say that no date has been announced for a statue going up, nor has any government body or foundation committed to funding, not even the Pratchett people themselves which is curious indeed.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 28, 1913 Charles MaxwellHe makes the Birthday List for being Virgil Earp in “Spectre of the Gun”, a Trek story that opinions are divided on.  He also appeared in My Favorite Martian’s “An Old Friend of the Family” as the character Jakobar. His longest running genre role was as the Radio Announcer on Gilligan’s Island for which he was largely uncredited until late in that series. Interestingly he had six appearances playing six different characters on Science Fiction Theatre. (Died 1993.)
  • Born December 28, 1922 Stan Lee. Summarizing his career is quite beyond my abilities. He created and popularized Marvel Comics in a way that company is thought to be the creation of Stan Lee in a way that DC isn’t thought if of having of having a single creator. He co-created the Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, the X-Men, Iron Man, Thor, the Hulk,  Daredevil, Doctor Strange, Black Panther, Scarlet Witch and Ant-Man, an impressive list by any measure. And it’s hardly the full list. I see he’s won Eisner and Kirby Awards but no sign of a Hugo. Is that correct? (Died 2018.)
  • Born December 28, 1932 Nichelle Nichols. Uhura on Trek. She reprised her character in Star Trek: The Motion PictureStar Trek II: The Wrath of KhanStar Trek III: The Search for SpockStar Trek IV: The Voyage HomeStar Trek V: The Final Frontier and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. Other film SF roles included Ruana in Tarzan’s Deadly Silence with Ron Ely as Tarzan, High Priestess of Pangea in The Adventures of Captain Zoom in Outer Space, Oman in Surge of Power: The Stuff of Heroes and Mystic Woman in American Nightmares. Other series appearances have been as Lieutenant Uhura and additional voices in the animated Trek, archive footage of herself in the “Trials and Tribble-ations” DS9 episode and as Captain Nyota Uhura In Star Trek: Of Gods and Men which definitely isn’t canon. (Died 2022.)
  • Born December 28, 1934 Maggie Smith, 88. First genre role was as Theis in Clash of the Titans though she’s better known as Minerva McGonagall in the Harry Potter film franchise. She also played Linnet Oldknow in From Time to Time and voiced Miss Shepherd, I kid you not, in two animated Gnomes films.
  • Born December 28, 1942 Eleanor Arnason, 80. She won the Otherwise Award and the Mythopoeic Award for A Woman of the Iron People and also won the Gaylactic Spectrum Award for Best Short Fiction for “Dapple”.  She’s been a WisCon Guest of Honor. I wholeheartedly recommend her Mammoths of the Great Plains story collection, which like almost all of her fiction, is available at the usual digital suspects. 
  • Born December 28, 1945 George Zebrowski, 77. He won the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best Science Fiction Novel for Brute Forces. He’s married to Pamela Sargent with whom he has co-written a number of novels, including Trek novels. He was an editor of The Bulletin of the Science Fiction Writers of America.
  • Born December 28, 1970 Elaine Hendrix, 52. I found a Munsters film I didn’t know about (big fan I am, yes) and she’s Marilyn Munster in it: The Munsters’ Scary Little Christmas. She later was Gadget Model 2 (G2) in Inspector Gadget 2. (Anyone watch these?) And she’s Mary in the animated Kids vs Monsters. 

(12) COMICS SECTION.

  • Bizarro records a superhero’s visit to his tailor.

(13) EYE TO EYE. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] A new art exhibition in China juxtaposes works by H.R. Giger and Hajime Sorayama—two very different futuristic artists. It will be at UCAA Lab in Beijing through 19 February 19, 2023. “‘H.R. Giger X Sorayama: Approaching’ Is a Must-See Exhibition for Science Fiction Lovers” at Hypebeast.

H.R. Giger and Hajime Sorayama grew up on opposite ends of the earth and equally possessed a starkly different view on the promises of technology. Giger, whose monstrous machines would characteristically be tied to the Alien franchise, presented a haunting vision of the distant future. Whereas, Sorayama continues to create erotically-charged robots that oscillate between human and machine, reality and fantasy.

NANZUKA worked with COEXIST and UCCA Lab in Beijing to present an enthralling new exhibition juxtaposing the work of the two legendary artists. H.R. Giger X Sorayama: Approaching features 45 works by each figure from the 1960s to the present day. The show’s layout was inspired by an underground ant colony, where visitors will be pitted amongst a series of rooms — each presenting a duality of notions….

(14) TZ MARATHON. Get in the zone! SYFY Wire has everything you need to know: “SYFY’s 2022 New Year’s ‘Twilight Zone’ marathon is here”.

It’s that time of year again — time to cross over into The Twilight Zone … and stay there for a bit. A few days, actually. SYFY’s annual New Year’s marathon of The Twilight Zone episodes is returning, and the extravaganza stretches over four freaky calendar days, beginning on Saturday and running through Tuesday morning.

As a bonus this year, in addition to featuring episodes from the five-season Rod Serling-created anthology series that ran from 1959 to 1964, the marathon will also include episodes from the Jordan Peele-developed revival of The Twilight Zone that premiered in 2019 and came back for a second season in 2020…. 

(15) HAPPENING IN 2024. “Mickey’s Copyright Adventure: Early Disney Creation Will Soon Be Public Property”. The New York Times can’t wait to do news stories about the problems that will create.

There is nothing soft and cuddly about the way Disney protects the characters it brings to life.

This is a company that once forced a Florida day care center to remove an unauthorized Minnie Mouse mural. In 2006, Disney told a stonemason that carving Winnie the Pooh into a child’s gravestone would violate its copyright. The company pushed so hard for an extension of copyright protections in 1998 that the result was derisively nicknamed the Mickey Mouse Protection Act.

For the first time, however, one of Disney’s marquee characters — Mickey himself — is set to enter the public domain. “Steamboat Willie,” the 1928 short film that introduced Mickey to the world, will lose copyright protection in the United States and a few other countries at the end of next year, prompting fans, copyright experts and potential Mickey grabbers to wonder: How is the notoriously litigious Disney going to respond?

… The matter is more complicated than it appears, and those who try to capitalize on the expiring “Steamboat Willie” copyright could easily end up in a legal mousetrap. “The question is where Disney tries to draw the line on enforcement,” Mr. Moss said, “and if courts get involved to draw that line judicially.”…

(16) THE BY-NO-MEANS-OFFICIAL HISTORY. The Comics Journal’s Chris Mautner reviews “See You at San Diego: An Oral History of Comic-Con, Fandom, and the Triumph of Geek Culture”.

Having spent years, if not decades, as the top dog of comic conventions, and largely recognized by the hoi polloi as the de facto pop culture happening for well over a decade now, it’s surprising that a big book on the history of the San Diego Comic-Con hasn’t been published sooner. See You at San Diego, a whopping 480-page(!!) oral history of the show’s creation and growth, attempts to detail the origins of the convention and how it became the massive juggernaut it is today, with lots of anecdotes and remembrances from the people that helped shape it.

Unfortunately, while See You at San Diego does contain some engaging and occasionally delightful anecdotes, it’s also more than a bit of a mess, badly in need of an editor that could whittle its massive length down to a leaner and more succinct size, avoid the numerous repetitions, ask some tough questions about inclusion and the dominance of geek culture today, and perhaps even suggest some different page design choices than what’s offered in the final product….

(17) AND DON’T FORGET THIS BIRTHDAY. CNN is there when the “World’s oldest-ever tortoise turns 190”.

… Further proof of his age emerged when an old photograph taken between 1882 and 1886 was uncovered. In it, a fully grown Jonathan can be seen grazing in the garden of Plantation House, the residence of the Governor of St. Helena, where he has spent most of his life.

… Officials on the island are currently working on Jonathan’s birthday celebrations, which are planned for later this year. A series of commemorative stamps will be issued and anyone who visits him this year will receive a certificate featuring the first known picture of his footprint.

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Ryan George takes us inside the conversation in “Avatar: The Way of Water Pitch Meeting”.

2009’s Avatar was the highest-grossing movie of all time. Naturally, that meant sequel-time, and FAST. Okay maybe not fast. Maybe not even slow-paced. Maybe THIRTEEN YEARS LATER James Cameron has brought us back to the world of Pandora, along with all the characters whose names we definitely remember. Avatar: The Way Of Water definitely raises some questions. Like why spend so much money bringing back Colonel Quarritch to life, the guy who famously failed the last time he attempted something similar to this mission? Why does Jake suddenly decide that it’s suddenly time to run away after literally heading into battle regularly? Where did all the ocean people go in the third act? How many decades until the next movie?

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

Pixel Scroll 10/18/22 Pixelitl Axolotl Pixelitl Axolotl Cheep Cheep Cheep! Axelot, Pixelitl More…

(1) CLARION WEST AUCTION AND GALA. The Clarion West After Dark 2022 Auction is open until October 21 at 9:00 PM Pacific Time. You must register for the event to begin bidding on auction items. Clarion West After Dark is a fundraising event and auction created to help support Clarion West’s year-round speculative program. 

Here are a couple of the many items on the block:

Clarion West board member Yang-Yang Wang (Dungeon Scrawlers) will serve as DM for a One Shot Dungeons & Dragons adventure (a single self-contained adventure) with author Seanan McGuire (Middlegame, Every Heart A Doorway, X-Men) and up to 3 of your friends.

Nisi Shawl is an award-winning author of science fiction, fantasy, and horror. They also make delectable, unique, and magical teas. Spend time with Nisi learning how they buy, dry, cut, stir, and steep the best cup of tea. Join Nisi at the home of board member Susan Gossman in Queen Ann.

Includes a signed copy of Nisi’s book Everfair.

There will also be a livestreamed Clarion West After Dark 2022 event on YouTube on October 21 at 7:00 p.m. Pacific with Special Guest Author Daniel J. Abraham. Register at the link.

Join us as we journey across the dark expanse of space for a night of celebration, imagination, and inspiration. Clarion West is all about stories, and our story is like a generation ship: students become instructors and scholarship recipients become donors, powering this journey across time and space as we go boldly into the creation of wild and amazing worlds.

(2) SFBC’S PROMO ART RARITIES. The fourth installment of Doug Ellis’ look at the art from the Science Fiction Book Club’s Things to Come bulletin is now available; this one covers 1964-1966 and includes seldom seen work by Virgil Finlay. “The Art Of Things To Come, Part 4: 1964-1966” at Black Gate.

…As I’ve noted in prior installments, the artists who contributed to these early bulletins are often unidentified. That’s usually the case during this period as well.

The notable exception to that rule is the great Virgil Finlay, who kicks off our tour with his illustration for Fifth Planet by Fred Hoyle and his son, Geoffrey Hoyle (misspelled as Goeffrey) from the Winter and March 1964 issue of the bulletin. The original of this lovely piece still exists in a private collection….

(3) PARAMOUNT PLUS HALF PRICE DEAL. [Item by Daniel Dern.] Paramount Plus, where the new Star Trek shows (and some of the older ones) are available, is having a “temporary promotion” (not clear how that differs functionally from “a sale.” (Note: “Offer ends 11/3/22.”)

In particular (as in, the one I just went for), Paramount Plus’ with-ads version has a half-off year offer ($24.99 instead of $49.99). (And other offers which I ignored, because of lack of interest or frugality. We enjoyed no-ads on a previous promotion, which, when it expired, I cancelled our subscription.)

So if you plan to watch Star Trek (new seasons and some older ones, and, I believe, movies) (and/or want to watch the final season of The Good Fight), here’s a helpful article (where I learned about this) including a link: https://www.howtogeek.com/841103/you-can-get-an-entire-year-of-paramount-for-just-25

Quick notes:

(1) As HowToGeek cautions, “The only catch is that the subscription auto-renews, and the low price is only for the first year”.

If you don’t want to lose track and accidentally get auto-renewed, at full price, in a year, consider cancellation after, say, a month. (If you were able to get the free trial period, make sure you’re a few days past that.)

Paramount says: “If you cancel your subscription, the cancellation will go into effect at the end of your current subscription period, as applicable. You will have continued access to the Paramount+ Service for the remainder of your paid subscription period.”

(2) The HowToGeek article says [you] also get an Amazon Fire TV Stick Lite. https://www.amazon.com/fire-tv-stick-lite/dp/B07YNLBS7R ($29)

However, I didn’t see this offered in the actual subscribing process or the near-immediate confirmations from Paramount. I just did a Chat with Paramount customer service; they said I should have received an email with a PIN (didn’t comment whether that related to the promised Fire Stick), and will cause a new message-with-PIN to get sent to me.)

Even if you don’t need one for everyday use, if you’re actually travelling (within the US), it might be a convenient take-along.

(4) SCHULZ CENTENNIAL. Just to remind you, the new issue of Charles M. Schulz / Peanuts stamps is now available from the USPS.

New stamps salute the centennial of cartoonist Charles M. Schulz (1922–2000) whose “Peanuts” characters are some of the best known and most beloved in all of American culture. For five decades, Schulz alone wrote and drew nearly 18,000 strips, the last one published the day after he died. Each character reflects Schulz’s rich imagination and great humanity. His resonant stories found humor in life’s painful realities including rejection, insecurity and unrequited love.

In a celebratory mode, characters from “Peanuts” adorn 10 designs on this pane of 20 stamps and form a frame around a 1987 photograph of Schulz.

Art director Greg Breeding designed the stamps from Schulz’s artwork and an existing photograph by Douglas Kirkland.

(5) DOCTOR WHICH. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Leslie S. Klinger provides background on Robert Louis Stevenson for a new edition of Dr Jekyll And Mr. Hyde.

… While RLS’s fiction never flagged in popularity, he was shunned by the critics for a long period. His work was excluded from major anthologies for much of the twentieth century. Today, however, he is highly regarded by academia as an original voice, an artist with a wide range of interests and insights, no longer to be relegated to the shelves of children’s literature or horror fiction. In 2004, the Journal of Stevenson Studies began publication, with an impressive editorial board and a mission: “The Journal of Stevenson Studies (JSS) is committed to the study and wider consideration of the work of Robert Louis Stevenson as a popular writer with an original and unique insight into the moral, psychological and cultural ambiguities of the modern world. This is the Stevenson admired by authors like Henry James, Graham Greene and Jorge Luis Borges….

(6) JEMISIN TAKES STOCK OF NYC. N. K. Jemisin was the guest on a New York Times podcast — The Ezra Klein Show: “A Legendary World-Builder on Multiverses, Revolution and the ‘Souls’ of Cities” on Apple Podcasts.

N.K. Jemisin is a fantasy and science-fiction writer who won three consecutive Hugo Awards — considered the highest honor in science-fiction writing — for her “Broken Earth” trilogy; she has since won two more Hugos, as well as other awards. But in imagining wild fictional narratives, the beloved sci-fi and fantasy writer has also cultivated a remarkable view of our all-too-real world. In her fiction, Jemisin crafts worlds that resemble ours but get disrupted by major shocks: ecological disasters, invasions by strange, tentacled creatures and more — all of which operate as thought experiments that can help us think through how human beings could and should respond to similar calamities.

Jemisin’s latest series, which includes “The City We Became” and “The World We Make,” takes place in a recognizable version of New York City — the texture of its streets, the distinct character of its five boroughs — that’s also gripped by strange, magical forces. The series, in addition to being a rollicking read, is essentially a meditation on cities: how they come into being, how their very souls get threatened by forces like systemic racism and astronomical inequality and how their energies and cultures have the power to rescue and save those souls.

I invited Jemisin on the show to help me take stock of the political and cultural ferment behind these distressing conditions — and also to remember the magical qualities of cities, systems and human nature. We discuss why multiverse fictions like “Everything Everywhere All at Once” are so popular now, how the culture and politics of New York and San Francisco have homogenized drastically in recent decades, Jemisin’s views on why a coalition of Black and Latinx voters elected a former cop as New York’s mayor, how gentrification causes change that we may not at first recognize, where to draw the line between imposing order and celebrating the disorder of cities, how Donald Trump kept stealing Jemisin’s ideas but is at the root a “badly written character,” whether we should hold people accountable for their choices or acknowledge the way the status quo shapes our decision-making, what excites Jemisin about recent discoveries about outer space, why she thinks we are all “made of exploding stars” and more.

(7) CINEMA FARAWAY. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] I review the 1967 West German Edgar Allan Poe adaptation The Snake Pit and the Pendulum at Galactic Journey as part of an overview post about recent movies. The other films covered are Quatermass and the Pit, The Day the Fish Came Out, which I have to admit I’d never heard of before, and Bonnie and Clyde, which is not even remotely SFF, but a film that reviewer Jason Sacks really likes: “[October 18, 1967] We Are The Martians: Quatermass and the Pit, Bonnie and Clyde, The Day the Fish Came Out and The Snake Pit and the Pendulum”.

… Compared to the many horrors of the real world, watching a spooky movie in the theatre feels almost cathartic. And so I decided to get away from the real world by watching the new West German horror movie Die Schlangengrube und das Pendel (The Snake Pit and the Pendulum) at my local cinema….

(8) ICONIC ARTIST. The Goodman Games website has a profile of Flash Gordon artist Alex Raymond: “A Profile of Legendary Illustrator Alex Raymond”.

Few people have influenced American comics as much as Alex Raymond. While “Jungle Jim” and “Rip Carson” [sic – Rip Kirby] may not be household names, Raymond’s most famous creation, Flash Gordon, is so ingrained into American pop culture that simply his name can be used as shorthand for a specific type of heroic, romantic science fiction. Alex Raymond’s career was short, and his death came far too soon, but his art and influence are immortal….

(9) SERIES COMPLETED. The Guardian interviews Malorie Blackman, author of dystopian YA fiction: “Malorie Blackman: ‘Thank God that’s done!’”.

…The sixth and final book in the Noughts & Crosses series, Endgame, came out last year. How do you feel now that’s over?
Mainly: Thank God I lived long enough to finish it! And: Thank God that’s done! OK, to be serious about it, it’s been a hell of a journey, which I’m really grateful for because it’s been 20-odd years. But I really do feel with the end of Endgame that really is it. And anyone who’s read it will know why. If there are more books written in that series, they won’t be by me….

(10) BE YOUR OWN SQUID. Also at the Guardian, Amelia Tait asks why immersive pop culture experiences are booming: “Dance like you’re in Bridgerton, play Squid Game: why are immersive experiences booming?”

…Welcome to the age of immersion. Dinosaurs and DC barely scratch the surface – this  summer also saw the launch of Stranger Things and Tomb Raider “experiences” in London, an I’m A Celebrity Jungle Challenge in Manchester, and an Alice in Wonderland “immersive cocktail experience” in Sheffield.

By September, fans were able to re-enact Netflix’s Squid Game at Immersive Gamebox venues in London, Essex and Manchester. In the coming weeks, London will also host an experience based on the horror franchise Saw, while Cheshire will see thousands visit Harry Potter: A Forbidden Forest Experience. And that’s without mentioning the boom in immersive art experiences, the most recent of which – Frameless – has just opened in central London….

(11) HAUNTED TRACKS. The Cromcast have launched their annual “Cromtober” event of reviewing spooky works in October. This time around, they discuss The Twilight Zone episode “A Stop at Willoughby”: “Episode 1: Get on the Ghost Train and Head to Willoughby”.

…For our first episode, we focus most of our discussion on the class Twilight Zone episode “A Stop at Willoughby” where our protagonist “Mr. Gart Williams, an ad agency exec, who in just a moment, will move into the Twilight Zone—in a desperate search for survival.”

Beyond our stop in the Twilight Zone, we also discuss why trains are kind of scary and the different things they symbols in folklore and ghost stories. Last but not least, let’s learn about President Abraham Lincoln’s Ghost TrainHop aboard, won’t you? …

(12) JIM MCDIVITT (1929-2022) Former astronaut Jim McDivitt, who played key roles in making America’s first spacewalk and moon landing possible, died October 17 at the age of 93. NPR paid tribute:

…In 1962, McDivitt was selected by NASA to become an astronaut. He was chosen to pilot Gemini 4 — becoming the first-ever NASA rookie to command a mission.

Considered NASA’s most ambitious flight at the time in 1965, the Gemini 4 mission was the first time the U.S. performed a spacewalk and the longest that a U.S. spaceflight had remained in Earth’s orbit: 4 days.

Four years later, McDivitt commanded Apollo 9 — a 10-day shakeout mission orbiting the Earth in March 1969 that involved testing the lunar landing spacecraft. It paved the way for NASA to successfully land humans on the moon four months later in July 1969.

Apollo 9 was his last trip to space. Despite his instrumental role in propelling NASA’s moon landing, McDivitt himself never reached the moon. Francis French, a spaceflight historian, said McDivitt chose not to command a moon landing mission and decided to take on a management role….

… McDivitt became manager of Lunar Landing Operations in May 1969, and in August of that year became manager of the Apollo Spacecraft Program. He was the program manager for Apollo missions 12-16….

(13) MEMORY LANE.

2005 [By Cat Eldridge.] Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars (2005)

Once upon a time, a beloved SF series got cancelled, and yes there is absolutely nothing unusual in that happening, it happens more often than it should. What is extremely unusual is that it got a second chance to have a proper ending in the Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars seventeen years ago. 

So let’s tell the tale of how that happened. Farscape arrived here twenty-three ago when Deep Space Nine was just wrapping up and Voyager was well into its seven year run. It started fine and ratings were strong until the fourth season and that, combined with regime change here in the States on who was picking up the tab for the two million dollars per episode led it to end abruptly. 

Fans being fans weren’t going to let things end that way, nor should we. (Yes I loved the show. Deeply, unreservedly. I think it was one of the best series ever made, if not the best.) A massive campaign was undertaken with of course emails,  letters, phone calls, and phone calls pleading with the network to reverse the cancellation. 

Even Bill Amend who created the Fox Trot series had his Jason Fox character direct his ire at SciFi and demand that they change their mind.

Well they did, sort of. A fifth season didn’t happen after all. What did happen in some ways I think was even better though I know that isn’t a popular opinion among those who wanted a full season. 

What we got was the two episode, one hundred and eighty minute Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars which I thought splendidly wrapped things up. Every single storyline that wasn’t dealt with during the series was during this film.

SPOLER ALERT HERE.

We got a baby too. Yes, our Peacekeeper gives birth in a fountain in the middle of a firefight, insists she’s married while in labor, carries her baby unscathed through a battle. I assume that the baby was a puppet from the Henson labs. It was terribly cute.

END OF SPOILERS

I’ve watched it at least a half dozen times, probably more, in the last fifteen years. The Suck Fairy in her steel toed boots is obviously scared of those Aussie actors (and the non Aussie one as well) as she slinks away to harass someone else. 

Just looked at Rotten Tomatoes — not at all surprisingly, it carries a ninety-two percent rating among audience reviewers there. It’s streaming at Amazon Prime.

(14) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 18, 1934 Inger Stevens. She’s here for two appearances on The Twilight Zone. She had the lead as Nan Adams “The Hitch-Hiker” and she was again the lead, Jana, as the sensitive daughter of a creative genius in “The Late of The Hour”. Her only other genre credit was as Sarah Crandall in the post nuclear Holocaust film The World, the Flesh and the Devil. The coroner ruled her 1970 death a suicide. (Died 1970.)
  • Born October 18, 1938 Barbara Baldavin. She was a recurring performer on Trek first as Angela Martine in “Balance of Terror” and “Shore Leave”.  She would also appear in the final season’s “Turnabout Intruder” as communications officer Lisa.  After that, she had one-offs on Fantasy Island and The Bionic Woman. She retired from the business in 1993.
  • Born October 18, 1948 Dawn Wells. Mary Ann Summers on Gilligan’s Island which y’all decided was genre.. She had genre one-offs on The InvadersWild Wild West and Alf. (Died 2020.)
  • Born October 18, 1944 Katherine Kurtz, 76. Known for the Deryni series which started with Deryni Rising in 1970, and the most recent, The King’s Deryni, was published in 2014. As medieval historical fantasy goes, they’re damn great. 
  • Born October 18, 1951 Jeff Schalles, 71. Minnesota area fan who’s making the Birthday Honors because he was the camera man for Cats Laughing’s A Long Time Gone: Reunion at Minicon 50 concert DVD. Cats Laughing is a band deep in genre as you can read in the Green Man review here.
  • Born October 18, 1952 Pam Dawber, 71. Mindy McConnell in Mork & Mindy. She did very little other genre work, such as Faerie Tale Theatre and the Twilight Zone. She was however in The Girl, the Gold Watch & Everything as Bonny Lee Beaumont which is based off the John D. MacDonald novel of the same name. Go watch it — it’s brilliant! 
  • Born October 18, 1964 Charles Stross, 58 . I’ve read a lot of him down the years with I think his best being the rejiggered Merchant Princes series. Other favorite works include the early Laundry Files novels and both of the Halting State novels. 

(15) FIGURES DON’T LIE. Cora Buhlert posted another “Masters-of-the-Universe-Piece Theatre” photo story. This one is called “Fake Out”.

(16) SCI-FI BREAD. It turns out that the “Pan Solo” linked here the other day was only the latest genre baking stunt from this Benecia, CA bakery. The New York Times gets the goods: “Bakery Creates ‘Pan Solo,’ a 6-Foot Replica of ‘Star Wars’ Hero Made of Bread”.

…In 2018, the year they opened the family bakery, they made Game of Scones, featuring a White Walker made of bread, next to an iron throne of baguettes.

Encouraged by the positive response from the public, in 2020 they made the “Pain-dough-lorian,” clad in armor made of bread, “Baby Dough-Da” clothed in bread and “floating” in mixing bowls, and “the Pandroid,” made of pans and kitchen tools, all inspired by the television series “The Mandalorian.”

Last year, they created “Dough-ki,” a menacing alligator made of bread, with sharp teeth and curved horns, modeled after “Alligator Loki,” a creature on the Marvel television series “Loki,” starring Tom Hiddleston…..

(17) MERMAN FOR HIRE. The Los Angeles Times takes readers “Inside Southern California’s subculture of mermaid enthusiasts”.

…Laflin squirmed and flailed around on the floor for 45 minutes that first time. When he could finally sit up, he looked down his torso to inspect himself. Half fish, half man, it was a transformation that turned out to be life-altering.

Ten years after he first tried on the set piece in his apartment, Laflin, 40, is a full-time merman, part of a hub of mermaid enthusiasts in Southern California who inhabit personas that express everything from a yearning for childhood play and entertainment to environmental advocacy and gender identity. Going by the stage name “Merman Jax,” he runs a business that he christened Dark Tide Productions, which employs a team of about 10 men and women who perform at events such as birthday parties, corporate galas, and Renaissance fairs, sometimes in water, sometimes posing by a pool or the entrance of an event.

Mermaids tend to be more in demand, Laflin says, because most clients prefer to go with a performer who is female-presenting. But he loves the moments when he is swimming in a tank or lounging poolsidebecause of the sense of wonder it can inspire….

(18) THE MASKED HYMIE. “You probably forgot that Dick Gautier once filled in briefly as Batman” – let MeTV remind you.

In 1971, Adam West was done being Batman.

“I knew it was going to be hard to live down such a strong identification,” West told a TV columnist syndicated in The Newspaper Enterprise Association that year. “But it’s been even harder than I anticipated. And today the series is being widely rerun, so I’m still identified with Batman.”

This was three years past the series end, but the action series maintained a wide fan base, and that year, an idea was floated to use the popular characters of Batgirl, Batman, and Robin to run a public service announcement raising awareness for a movement to secure equal pay for women.

In the PSA, Batman and Robin are tied up, and Batgirl appears.

“Untie us before it’s too late,” Batman commands Batgirl.

“It’s already too late,” Batgirl retorts, refusing to set them free until Batman agrees to give her a raise. “I’ve worked for you a long time, and I’m paid less than Robin!”

The PSA was promoting awareness of the federal equal pay law, and it ends with a cliffhanger to tune in tomorrow to find out if Batman does his duty and gives Batgirl what she’s owed.

West refused to do this PSA, not because of politics, but because he just didn’t want to be Batman anymore….

(19) DEL TORO’S PINOCCHIO: ONE REVIWER’S TAKE. “’Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio’ Review: The Fantasy Master’s Distinctive Stop-Motion Take on the Old Story Carves Out Its Own Way” at Yahoo!

The possessive claim in the title “Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio” is a gutsy one. There’s confidence — some would even say arrogance — in filming an oft-told story at least as old as the hills, and suddenly branding it as your own: Even two auteurs as ballsy as Francis Ford Coppola and Baz Luhrmann didn’t slap their own names on “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” and “William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet,” respectively. Still, you can hardly blame del Toro’s stop-motion spin on Carlo Collodi’s 19th-century chestnut “The Adventures of Pinocchio” for wanting to advertise its distinguishing vision up top: After umpteen tellings of the wooden-boy tale, and coming on the heels of Robert Zemeckis’ wretched Disney remake, Netflix’s rival adaptation has to announce itself as something different. That it is; it’s often delightful too….

(20) THESE ARE THE MENUS OF THE STARSHIP ENTERPRISE. “The New ‘Star Trek’ Cookbook Reveals the Challenges in Recreating Trek Food” reports Rachel P. Kreiter at Eater, who finds that making food green isn’t enough.

The Star Trek Cookbook is lightly bound by the conceit that Monroe-Cassel is a “gastrodiplomat” lecturing Starfleet cadets about how to further the Federation’s exploratory and expansionist goals through sharing a meal with representatives of other planets. The dishes themselves are all references I could ID from a lifetime of consuming Star Trek, but each dish’s franchise origin is noted. The book is organized by dish type, and not Star Trek series, era, or culture. In theory this makes it more usable for its intended purpose, that is, making and eating the food. This is (ugh) logical for a cookbook, and some of the recipes in here are good. Cardassian Regova eggs, for example: I boiled them, cracked the shells, and submerged them in dye diluted in water until they emerged a pretty, webby green. Spiked with some frilly bits of lettuce they looked striking; maybe I’d serve them at a Halloween party. They were also okay devilled eggs, and I learned a new trick: that you can slice off the tops and prepare them vertically.

But they’re also just devilled hen eggs, and nothing in the filling (yogurt, red pepper, garlic) makes them anything other than superficially a little weird. Everything about how the food looks — the plating, the reliance on dyes, the lightly modernist approach — broadcasts alienness, in a sci-fi aesthetic way. But making a traditionally structured cookbook with solid recipes for kinda odd-seeming food falls short of this project’s full potential, since nobody is going to a Star Trek cookbook first and foremost because it’s a cookbook…

(21) AI ART GENERATION. Camestros Felapton reviews one of the early books about the new AI art-creating systems, by a name that will be familiar to some of you: “Review: An Illustrated Guide to AI Prompt Mastery by Jack Wylder”.

…If the name sounds familiar, Jack Wylder does a lot of work with Larry Correia including producing Correia’s podcast. He’s recently produced a book which, unsurprisingly was promoted in former Puppy circles. That’s where I saw it but my interest wasn’t the connection to that particular circle of authors. Rather, I’ve been interested to see how independently published authors would start engaging with machine-learning art generation systems such as Midjourney and Dall-e for producing book covers.

An Illustrated Guide to AI Prompt Mastery attempts a system-agnostic approach to prompts. It doesn’t suggest a given system or discuss the syntax differences between systems. That is a sensible choice given that new systems are appearing regularly and the details of the syntax are better covered in their own documentation. The downside is that if you are expecting a kind of plug-and-play manual to AI-art syntax you’ll be disappointed….

(22) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Game Trailers: Overwatch 2,” Fandom Games says this comes from Blizzard, which “delivers controversies faster than new titles,” as development of the game led to a lot of the staff quitting and the company releasing a bug-ridden game that included times where 40,000 people were in front of you to play.  Overwatch 2 is  for “people who fear change so much that you want sequels that are five percent different than the last title,”  and that Blizzard should have fixed the bugs in Overwatch rather than come out with a “new” line extension.

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

Pixel Scroll 10/16/22 I Can Scroll Clearly Now The Pixel’s Come, I Can See All Comments Now In This Thread, Gone Are The Strange Trolls That Spoiled My View, It’s Going To Be Bright, Bright, Bright Pixelly Scroll

(1) WISCON HANGS IN THE BALANCE. WisCon not only is trying to recruit people for leadership, their blog says the fate of their 2023 event depends on whether the positons are filled by November 30. “Co-Chair and Online Con Leads needed to have in-person, online events in 2023”.

…Last week Stephanie [Sarac] announced she would be stepping down as co-chair for WisCon 46 in 2023. Please join us in thanking Stephanie for all the hard work she did on the post-con survey, Guest of Honor nominations, and department outreach/coordination as co-chair. We’re really grateful for her willingness to jump into things after having only attended WisCon one time!

…In the interest of transparency, we want to let you all know that if the open Co-Chair position isn’t filled by end of November, the in-person con will be cancelled.  It is possible we may still do an Online-only con in that scenario, but that depends on a number of other variables.  If we’re able to fill the Co-Chair position but aren’t able to recruit Online Con Department lead(s), the con will be in-person only (we won’t be able to have online or hybrid programming). In either scenario of in-person and/or online con not being able to happen, we will use that time to build up departments, train up leads and chairs, fundraise, and put ourselves in the best possible position for a full event the following year.

(2) THE NEXT FANAC.ORG ZOOM. Fanac.org will host an interview with Maggie Thompson titled “Before, During and After the Origins of Comics Fandom,” with interviewer Dr. Chris Couch on Sunday October 30 at 2:00 p.m. Eastern.  To attend the Zoom session, send a request to Edie Stern, the FANAC webmaster at [email protected].

A list of past sessions, which are all available on FANAC’s Fan History YouTube channel, go to https://fanac.org/zoom.html.

(3) SIMPLE ANSWER. Dorothy Grant has sound answers to the question “What do you have to read in order to write in a genre?” at Mad Genius Club. Similar to what Larry Niven says, that a writer must read widely in order to “stock the shelves” of the imagination.

This question was posed elsewhere, and responses were quick to make fun of mandatory reading, and of “Reading The Classics”. I, on the other hand, propose a different answer.

There is no have to. Do I look like your abuela? But here is what you should do, in order to improve:

Read widely. Read deeply. Read the critically-acclaimed successes. Read the high-selling works the critics declaimed as Trash or Merely Pulp….

(4) EYES LOCKED ON. Joachim Boaz considers TV in “Future Media Short Story Review: Ray Bradbury’s ‘Almost the End of the World’ (1957)” at Science Fiction and Other Suspect Ruminations.

…Ray Bradbury conjures a strange new world without television….

.. Ray Bradbury’s “Almost the End of the World” first appeared in The Reporter (December 26, 1957). It later appeared in his short story collection The Day It Rained Forever (1959). If you have an Internet Archive account, you can read it online here.

In multiple earlier reviews in this series, I’ve laid out television’s transformative and speedy infiltration of the American consciousness and daily activities over the course of the 1950s. Multiple Bradbury stories critique this new world. The lovely and crystalline “The Pedestrian” (1951) imagined a future night city in which its denizens are transfixed by their TV scenes. The city, observed by the solitary one-time writer Leonard Mead, is as silent as “a wintry, windless Arizona country” (90). “Almost the End of the World” (1957) ruminates on the effects on American society if a cosmic event severs the viewer from the succor of the screen….

(5) BILL AT 91. “William Shatner talks growing older, living life without regrets” in a Yahoo! interview about his new memoir, Boldly Go.

You write in your book about when you first told your parents that you wanted to be an actor. Did they live long enough to see your success?

[When I told them], they looked at me like, “Who are you? Where did you come from? What’s acting again? Isn’t that what a minstrel does?” [Laughs] I think my father must have thought, because he came from Europe to Montreal when he was about 9 or 10 … that his son wanted to be on a horse and wagon roaming across the country.

My father was around when Star Trek began [in 1966]. He died in 1968. I don’t how much of a success I was then, but I was making a living. My mother lived until a few years ago, so she saw that success. The success part wasn’t as [important to them] as long as I could make a living. And that varied as time went on, and as more and more children arrived. The definition of what a living was increased.

(6) CHAN DAVIS APPRECIATION.  [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Alan Wald, H. Chandler Davis Collegate Professor at the University of Michigan, remembers the sf writer Chan Davis, who died last month at 96. “H. Chandler Davis Was a Lifelong Radical and a Moral Touchstone for the Left” at Jacobin.

Chandler Davis (born Horace Chandler Davis and called “Chan” by his friends) was an internationally esteemed mathematician, a minor science fiction writer of note, and among the most celebrated political prisoners in the United States during the years of the high Cold War.

Dismissed from the University of Michigan (U-M) in 1954 for refusing to cooperate with the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) on First Amendment grounds, he served six months in Danbury Federal Correctional Institution in Connecticut, then faced an academic blacklist that drove him to pursue a career in Canada.

The death of this endlessly resilient, lifelong radical at the age of ninety-six on September 24 in Toronto seems like the passing of an emissary from a world of the socialist Left that no longer exists. Despite errors of political judgment, which Chan was the first to acknowledge, he was for many of us a moral touchstone in our own decades of political upheaval and unpredictability….

(7) MEMORY LANE.

1959 [By Cat Eldridge.] The Twilight Zone’s “Mr. Denton On Doomsday” (1959)

Portrait of a town drunk named Al Denton. This is a man who’s begun his dying early—a long, agonizing route through a maze of bottles. Al Denton, who would probably give an arm or a leg or a part of his soul to have another chance, to be able to rise up and shake the dirt from his body and the bad dreams that infest his consciousness. In the parlance of the times, this is a peddler, a rather fanciful-looking little man in a black frock coat. And this is the third principal character of our story. Its function: perhaps to give Mr. Al Denton his second chance. — Opening narration

Rod Serling was, if I must say so, bloody brilliant. And “Mr. Denton On Doomsday”, just the third episode of this series, shows this. (If you’ve not seen it of late, the series it is airing on Paramount +.) A Western, it’s also really look at how a man, two in fact can be redeemed.

SPOILERS LIKE WHISKEY IN A FICTIONAL WESTERN BAR FLOW NOW, SO GO AWAY!

Denton, our lead here played  by Dan Duryea, was once known as the quickest draw in town, but riddled with increasing guilt over the dead in his gun fights, one just a teenager, he became drunk and the derision of everyone in this Western town.

(There’s an animated Jonah Hex where this very storyline comes up. It’s called DC Showcase: Jonah Hex and Jonah, when the way-too-young male draws on him, hits with his rifle and knocks him quite unconscious. Right now, I think the only place you can see that is HBO Max.) 

A stranger offers him redemption. But he knows gunslingers come from miles around to seek him out and, inevitably, kill him. Or so he fervently hopes. The stranger named Fate (HA!) offers him and another gunfighter each a bottle of the potion. 

They fight, do not kill each other, but wound their shooting hand, thus ending their days as gunslingers. 

Fate tips his hat to Denton and rides quietly out of town.

DRINK UP, I’M DONE WITH SPOILERS. REALLY, I AM.

Martin Landau who played Dan Hotaling (the younger gunslinger) here would return to play Major Ivan Kuchenko in “The Jeopardy Room” which I’ve already essayed. He would also appear in two more Twilight Zone episodes, “The Beacon” and “One Life, Furnished in Early Poverty”. 

The harmonica music you hear in the background is an old Russian folksong known as “Stenka Razin”.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 16, 1924 David Armstrong. He appeared in two Trek episodes, “A Taste of Armageddon” as a guard to the Eminiar, uncredited of course, and as Kartan in “Operation – Annihilate!” and, though having a name, also uncredited according to Memory Alpha. He also had an amazing twenty-two appearances on The Man from U.N.C.L.E. where he was only credited when he showed as Thrushman, which must have been some sort of inside joke. Genre roles were common for him — I SpyGet Smart!The InvadersThe Girl from U.N.C.L.E. and Kolchak were all where he showed up. (Died 2016.)
  • Born October 16, 1925 Dame Angela Brigid Lansbury. She first shows up in a genre work as Sibyl Vane in The Picture of Dorian Gray. A few years later, she’s Queen Anne of France in The Three Musketeers. Somewhat later, she’s Miss Eglantine Price in Bedknobs and Broomsticks. She voices Mommy Fortuna in The Last Unicorn, and is Granny in A Company of Wolves which won the BSFA Award for Best Film and is based off Angela Carter’s A Company of Wolves. And yes, she’s in Mary Poppins Returns as The Balloon Lady. (Died 2022.)
  • Born October 16, 1926 Joe Sinnott. He worked primarily as an inker. He is best remembered for his work on the Fantastic Four from the Sixties to into the Eighties, with it being first over the pencils of Jack Kirby. He worked, mostly as a freelancer, some sixty years at Marvel, where he had long runs on The AvengersThe Defenders and Thor. And yes, he deserved many an Award  — the Alley Award, the  Inkpot Award, the Will Eisner Hall of Fame, the Inkwell Awards Hall of Fame and finally the Retro Inkwell Awards Favorite Inker. (Died 2020.)
  • Born October 16, 1947 Guy Siner, 75. Apparently he’s one of only 32 actors to appear in both the Star Trek and Doctor Who franchises. He appeared in the “Genesis of the Daleks”, a Fourth Doctor story, and on Enterprise in the “Silent Enemy” episode. Interestingly he shows up on Babylon 5 as well in “Rumors, Bargains and Lies”.  And that might place him in very select acting company indeed.
  • Born October 16, 1958 Tim Robbins, 64. I think his finest role was as Nuke LaLoosh in Bull Durham, but his first genre role was Phil Blumburtt in Howard the Duck. He played Erik in Erik the Viking, and is in The Shawshank Redemption as Andy Dufresne. He’s Woodrow “Woody” Blake in Mission to Mars. He was Harlan Ogilvy in War of the Worlds followed by being Senator Robert Hammond in Green Lantern
  • Born October 16, 1965 Joseph Mallozzi, 57. He is most noted for his work on the Stargate series. He joined the Stargate production team at the start of Stargate SG-1’s fourth season in 2000. He was a writer and executive producer for all three Stargate series. He also co-created the Dark Matter comic book series with Paul Mullie that became a Syfy series. 
  • Born October 16, 1973 Eva Röse, 49. Most likely best known for her role as the android Niska in Season 1 of the Swedish Real Humans upon which AMC’s Humans was based. She also was one of the voice cast for the animated Creepschool series, and was Jasmie on The Befallen, a supernatural series that lasted one season there. 

(9) COMICS SECTION.

Tom Gauld blends literary analysis with psychoanalysis.

(10) THE GHOSTS OF COMICS PAST. “When DC Seriously Tried to Prove Bob Kane Wasn’t Actually Drawing Batman” – a “Comic Legend” history piece by Brian Cronin.

COMIC LEGEND:

Mort Weisinger tried to prove that Bob Kane wasn’t actually drawing his Batman comics when Kane added Lew Sayre Schwartz as his ghost in 1948

STATUS:

True

A while back, I wrote about the peculiar situation when it came to Bob Kane’s ghosts on the Batman comic books heading into the 1960s. The majority of the artwork being done for Batman comic books throughout the 1950s and 1960s was by “Bob Kane,” but obviously, for that much artwork to be produced, no one believed that Bob Kane was doing it all himself. As it turned out, by the mid-1950s, Kane wasn’t doing it at ALL, with Sheldon Moldoff doing ALL of the work that was credited to Kane…

(11) AN EARLY FILER. [Noted by John Hertz.]

Plutarch grappled with … the import of the word E’i inscribed on the Temple of Apollo at Delphi. In Greek it can mean “Five”; it can mean “If”: but above all it means “Thou Art”.

M.A. Screech, intr. to Montaigne’s Apology for Raymond Sebond p. xxix (1993)

(12) GETTING WHAT THEY DESERVE? Molly Odintz reviews books by Silvia Moreno-Garcia and Stephen Graham Jones at CrimeReads: “These Books Prove We’re Living In a Golden Age of Horror”.

…There are several converging factors for the rise in horror. First, we can’t underestimate the impact of Jordan Peele or the film Midsommar on the trends of social horror and folk horror, respectively. We apparently now wish to not only watch what we want to read, but read what we want to watch. Second, horror fiction, like crime fiction, is a vastly more diverse landscape than just a few years ago, and a genre that I’d previously stereotyped as full of fear of the other (sorry, Stephen King!) is now distinguished by sympathy for the other. Third, we’ve all gotten far more interested in haunted houses since we became forced to spend every waking hour in them. And fourth, people have simply gotten worse, and it is correspondingly more satisfying to watch them die (hence the return of the slasher)….

(13) ALSO ON CRIMEREADS. Michael Gonzales looks at the 1968 sf film Wild In The Streets. “Rock & Roll Apocalypse: ‘Wild in the Streets’”.

…It was during one of my Saturday night movie marathons that I first saw the politically charged sci-fi satire Wild in the Streets (1968), a flick about a bugged-out alternative America guided by an insane pop star named Max Frost, his band mates The Troops and the millions of fans. Twenty-two-year-old Max despised anyone over 30, and throughout the film worked hard to get rid of mature adults who were “stiff with age.” Played with crazed charisma by method actor Christopher Jones, a southern mumbler who critics compared to James Dean, Max Frost began his mission by partnering with a youngish (thirty-seven years old) congressman who helped him by getting the voting age lowered to fourteen…. 

(14) EYE OPENER. This must be my Mercedes Lackey moment, because our printing “Bulgaria” when it should have been “Croatia” is something I would have thought was more like an easily fixed mistake. Evidently it’s much worse.

(15) LIZARDS IN THE WILD. Check out the rather funny cosplay encounter at “EV Grieve: Saturday’s parting shot”.

A tail of two cities today near Union Square … photo by Derek Berg

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Ryan George discovers that it’s really hard for people in 2022 to explain to the world in 1996 what the metaverse is like. “Time Traveler Discovers The Metaverse – THE FUTURE IS DUMB”.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, Michael “Orange Mike” Lowrey, John Hertz, 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 Camestros Felapton.]

Pixel Scroll 8/18/22 I’ve Been Scrolling On The Fileroad, All The Pixelled Day

(1) TOLKIEN MANUSCRIPT EXHIBIT. [Item by Michael “Orange Mike” Lowrey.] “J.R.R. Tolkien: The Art of the Manuscript” opens August 19 in Milwaukee, with material not just from Marquette University’s collection but items on loan from England which will probably not be seen again in North America in our lifetimes. The exhibit runs through December 23. Ticket information here.

Marquette University’s Raynor Memorial Libraries and the Haggerty Museum of Art collaboratively present this exhibition focused on the work of celebrated author and artist J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973), best known for his literary classics The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. The exhibition considers Tolkien’s work through the lens of manuscripts, in terms of both the materials that Tolkien studied as a medieval philologist and the manuscripts that he created while developing his collected writings on Middle-earth. Professor Tolkien was deeply immersed in the complexities of manuscripts, and this exhibition will illustrate how different aspects of the manuscript tradition found expression within Tolkien’s scholarly life and in his creative writing. Founded on Marquette’s J.R.R. Tolkien Collection, the exhibition also includes items borrowed from other repositories, including a significant number of Tolkien manuscripts and artwork from the Bodleian Libraries at the University of Oxford. Many of the 147 items in the exhibition have not previously been exhibited or published. 

(2) CROWDFUNDING FOR DE LINT AND HARRIS. Charles de Lint had to step down as Chicon 8 GoH last fall after his wife contracted a severe illness. And for reasons explained below, a family friend now has launched a “Fundraiser for Charles de Lint” on Gofundme. (De Lint has also opened a Patreon: “Charles de Lint is creating stories, music, art”.)

MaryAnn Harris has been in the hospital since September 6, 2021. She is recovering from Powassan virus, an extremely rare tick-bourne illness, but is still dependent on a ventilator to breathe, and paralyzed except for a toe. In order to make a full recovery and go home (which her doctor believes is possible), she needs significantly more therapy than the Canadian healthcare system can provide. In addition, due to the severity and long term nature of her condition, Charles & MaryAnn will start being assessed a co-pay for MaryAnn’s room and board that could be as high as $4k per month, an impossible figure at this time. Charles & MaryAnn have spent their lives reaching out to all of us through words and music and conversation and acts of kindness, through their creativity and heart, their generous spirits, and their dedication to putting light out into the world. Together we can help build the resources needed to help MaryAnn make a full recovery and to bring her home. Thank you.

(3) DREAM INTERRUPTED. Suffering a heartbreaking disappointment, Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki was denied a visa to attend Chicon 8. His appointment with the U.S. Embassy in Lagos was this morning, and he now has distilled his Twitter thread about what happened into a Facebook post. (See also File 770’s post and the comments: “US Embassy in Nigeria Denies Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki Visa Application; Won’t Get to Attend Worldcon”.)

… If I had been considered & denied I wouldn’t even have worried as much. But I don’t feel I was even considered at all. It didn’t look like. Despite all I did (seperate from being ultra excellent at what I do.

After I undertook to attend the Hugo, I did a GoFundMe drive ran for me by Jason Sanford l. We raised over $7000 in a day. I started trying to get a visa interview appointment. Nigerians reading this know how nerve wracking that is.

This was in June. Btw then and August, like 2 months, I got an interview date. I battered my soul to pieces for that. Nigerians understand. Immigration firm I went to refused to talk to me. Said no one was going to US from Nigeria now cuz no dates. Everyone said it was impossible. But I got it.

That’s how many layers of impossible I have had to beat. How many miracles. But this is Nigeria. Everything needs a miracle. The most basic ish. Miracle after miracle till you are one short….

(4) OCTOTHORPE. In episode 64 of the Octothorpe podcast, “John Coxon is crying, Alison Scott is lounging, and Liz Batty is crocheting. We go through our entire Hugo Award ballots in 30% the time it took us to go through one category, before talking about our schedules for Chicon 8 and then doing some picks.”

Listen here — “Best Commemorative Plate”.

(5) OCTOPUS. Nautilus takes readers down “Another Path to Intelligence”, with help along the way from Adrian Tchaikovsky, author of Children of Time.

It turns out there are many ways of “doing” intelligence, and this is evident even in the apes and monkeys who perch close to us on the evolutionary tree. This awareness takes on a whole new character when we think about those non-human intelligences which are very different to us. Because there are other highly evolved, intelligent, and boisterous creatures on this planet that are so distant and so different from us that researchers consider them to be the closest things to aliens we have ever encountered: cephalopods.

Cephalopods—the family of creatures which contains octopuses, squids, and cuttlefish—are one of nature’s most intriguing creations. They are all soft-­bodied, containing no skeleton, only a hardened beak. They are aquatic, although they can survive for some time in the air; some are even capable of short flight, propelled by the same jets of water that move them through the ocean. They do strange things with their limbs. And they are highly intelligent, easily the most intel­ligent of the invertebrates, by any measure.

… Perhaps one of the fullest expressions of this difference is to be found, not in the work of scientists, but in a novel. In his book Children of Time, science-fiction writer Adrien Tchaikovsky conceptualizes octopus intelligence as a kind of multi­threaded processing system. For the space­faring octopuses in Children of Time, their awareness—their consciousness—is tripartite. Their higher functions, which Tchaikovsky calls the “crown,” are embedded in their head-­brain, but their “reach,” the “arm­-driven undermind,” is capable of solving prob­lems independently—sourcing food, opening locks, fighting, or fleeing from danger. Meanwhile, a third mode of thinking and communicat­ing, the “guise,” controls the strobing and spotting of the octopuses’ “skin, ‘the chalkboard of the brain,’” where it doodles its thoughts from moment to moment. In this way, the octopuses freewheel through space, constructing ships, habitats, and whole societies which owe as much to bursts of emotion, flights of fancy, acts of curiosity and bore­dom, as they do to conscious intent. Tchaikovsky’s octopuses are lively, frantic, bored, creative, distracted, and poetic—all at the same time: a product of the constant dialogue and conflict within their own nervous systems. As Tchaikovsky tells it, octopuses are multiple intel­ligences in singular bodies….

(6) AND THEN THERE ARE VIRTUAL TENTACLES. Steve Davidson contemplates “The Coming Death of Commercialized Art” at the hands (figuratively speaking) of artificial intelligence in a post for Amazing Stories.

…Eventually, things will sort themselves out (if global warming doesn’t get us first) and commercial art will become the province of AI programs:  Need some paintings for your hotel lobby?  An AI will no doubt already have tens of thousands of possibilities available at relatively low cost (maybe large corporations will simply buy an art-enabled AI outright, for ALL of their commercial art needs – report covers, company retreat t-shirt designs, product illustrations, etc.).  Amazon will no doubt be the first to offer “get the story you want to read” services…completely custom fiction (written in the style of – and boy, won’t that “style copyfight” be an interesting one);  franchises will become perpetual, versions can be offered for different reading ages, the saga need never end….

Human beings will NOT be able to compete effectively in those environments.  They need food and water and shelter, sleep, physical exercise and can’t memorize the writing styles or painting styles of any artist or author who ever produced something.

We’re not talking about the “death of artistic expression”, but we are almost certainly talking about the death of the midlist author and the commercial graphic artist….

(7) CALL IT A FANACALENDAR. First Fandom Experience’s latest post in support of Project 1946 at Chicon 8 tracks “A Year in Fandom: 1946” practically day-by-day.

What was it like to be a science fiction fan in 1946?

There was a lot of new material to read. With the end of the war, Science fiction and fantasy pulps had proliferated. Classics genre novels from pulps of prior years were issued in book form. Just keeping up was a challenge.

Fan activity was also resurgent. The club scene remained most active in Los Angeles and New York, but fans from other corners also made their voices heard. Several clubs formed prior to the war resumed meeting in 1946, often attracting a mix of old and new members.

The timeline presented here is drawn from a variety of sources. Primary among them is Joe Kennedy’s 1946-1947 Fantasy Review, the second in his series of yearbooks covering the field. Eleven pages were dedicated to the doings of fans….

(8) MEMORY LANE.  

1950 [By Cat Eldridge.] Seventy-two years ago on this date, Destination Moon, produced by George Pal and an uncredited Walter Lantz premiered in the United Kingdom. 

It was directed by Irving Pichel from the screenplay by Alford Van Ronkel and Robert A. Heinlein and James O’Hanlon. It’s based off Robert A. Heinlein‘s Rocketship Galileo novel. 

It starred John Archer, Warner Anderson, Erin O’Brien-Moore, Tom Powers and Dick Wesson. 

Mainstream critics were mixed with a Bob Thomas of the Associated Press saying, “Destination Moon is good hocus-pocus stuff about interplanetary travel.” Asimov meanwhile not surprisingly said in In Memory Yet Green that it was “the first intelligent science-fiction movie made.”  

Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give it a mediocre 48% rating. It however did rather well at the box office returning ten times its half million-dollar production budget. 

It would be voted a Retro Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation at the Millennium Philcon. 

It is not in the public domain, but the trailers are and here is one for you.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 18, 1925 Brian Aldiss. I’ll single out his Helliconia series, Hothouse and The Malacia Tapestry as my favorites. He won a Hugo at Chicon III for “The Long Afternoon of The Earth”, another at Conspiracy ’87 for Trillion Year Spree which he co-authored with David Wingrove. He’s edited far too many collections to know which one to single out, but I’m sure that the collective wisdom here can make recommendations. (Died 2017.)
  • Born August 18, 1929 Joan Taylor. Her first genre role was Earth vs. the Flying Saucers as Carol Marvin, and she followed that with 20 Million Miles to Earth as Marisa Leonardo. Her last genre role was as Carol Gordon in Men into Space, a late Fifties series about a USAF attempt to explore and develop outer space. She retired from acting in the early Sixties. (Died 2012.)
  • Born August 18, 1932 Grant Williams. He is best remembered for his portrayal of Scott Carey in The Incredible Shrinking Man though he will have the role of the psychopathic killer in Robert Bloch’s The Couch. Of course, he shows in Outer Limits, he plays Major Douglas McKinnon in “The Brain of Colonel Barham”.  And he’s Major Kurt Mason in The Doomsday Machine. (Died 1985.)
  • Born August 18, 1934 Michael de Larrabeiti. He is best known for writing The Borrible Trilogy which is noted by several sources online as being an influence by writers in the New Weird movement. Ok folks, I’ve not read so please explain how The Borrible Trilogy influences that literary movement. And while you’re at it, explain what the New Weird movement was as I never quite did figure that out. (Died 2008.)
  • Born August 18, 1954 Russell Blackford, 68. Writer resident in Australia for awhile but now in Wales. Author of Terminator 2: The New John Connor Chronicles, and editor of the Australian Science Fiction Review in the Eighties. With Van Ikin and Sean McMullen, he wrote Strange Constellations: A History of Australian Science Fiction. And he wrote Science Fiction and the Moral Imagination: Visions, Minds, Ethics.
  • Born August 18, 1958 Madeleine Stowe, 64. She’s in the Twelve Monkeys film as Kathryn Railly, and she’s in the Twelve Monkeys series as Lillian in the “Memory of Tomorrow” episode. Her only other genre work was a one-off in The Amazing Spider-Man which ran for thirteen episodes nearly forty years ago. She was Maria Calderon in “Escort to Danger” in that series, and she also played Mia Olham in Impostor which was scripted off Philip K. Dick’s “Impostor” story.
  • Born August 18, 1966 Alison Goodman, 56. Australian writer who’s won three Aurealis Awards for Excellence in Speculative Fiction for Singing the Dogstar BluesThe Two Pearls of Wisdom and Lady Helen and the Dark Days PactThe Two Pearls of Wisdom was nominated for an Otherwise Award. 
  • Born August 18, 1967 Brian Michael Bendis, 55. He’s both writer and artist, a still uncommon occurrence. Did you know he’s garnered five Eisner Awards for both his creator-owned work and Marvel Comics? Very impressive! He’s the primary force behind the creation of the Ultimate Marvel Universe, launching Ultimate Spider-Man which is an amazing series which I read on the Marvel Unlimited app. 

(10) COMIC SECTION.

  • Ordinarily, I wouldn’t expect to hear a character in Funky Winkerbean holding forth about psychohistory.

(11) PUBLIC SERVICE MESSAGE. N. K. Jemisin tweeted a reminder.

(12) SOYLENT GREEN IS BALONEY! This being the year in which the movie is hypothetically set, Slate’s Andrew Maynard could not resist pointing out “Why Soylent Green got 2022 so wrong”.

All of this may have remained as a footnote in the annals of dystopian 1970’s sci-fi movies, were it not for the fact that Soylent Green was set in a year we’re all very familiar with: 2022. Predictably, there’s been a flurry of journalistic interest this year in what was predicted back in 1973, and how it compares to where we are now. The good news is that we haven’t yet resorted to eating people (although based on recent trends in fiction we may be closer than we think!). But this isn’t the only thing that the film gets wrong.

Despite being underpinned by very real issues, the extrapolated future that Soylent Green portrays is deeply out of step with present-day reality. Overpopulation is not the issue it was perceived to be in the 1970s—rather, the prospect of static and declining populations is now raising concerns. The productivity of agricultural systems has been vastly extended through technologies ranging from high yield crops and advances in irrigation techniques, to innovations in agrochemicals and genetic engineering. And rather than the dystopic single-noted social, political, and culinary narratives portrayed in the film, many—including me—would argue that the world we live in has never been more diverse and full of potential (even if some of us do have a tendency to reject this in favor of our own manufactured monotoned bubbles)….

(13) DOES THIS RING TRUE FOR YOU? Here’s a compilation of anecdotes in support of Tolkien’s reputation as a funny guy: “JRR Tolkien: academic, philologist – and prankster extraordinaire”.

…Humphrey Carpenter put it well in his authorised biography of Tolkien: “He could laugh at anybody, but most of all at himself, and his complete lack of any sense of dignity could and often did make him behave like a riotous schoolboy.” He catalogues incidents where Tolkien dressed up as a polar bear in sheepskin rug, as an Anglo-Saxon axeman (he chased a neighbour down the street), and gave shopkeepers his false teeth in a handful of change.

But it was the late Hugh Brogan, eminent professor of history at the University of East Anglia, who showed me the lengths Tolkien would go to in his quest for a laugh. As a child, Brogan lived in a late Regency house with a tall, elegant, winding staircase. Tolkien, visiting the family, “went up to the first-floor landing and fell all the way down quite spectacularly – about a dozen steps, I guess – arms and legs splaying about in all directions, and an immense clatter. We were literally breathtaken.” The elderly Brogan regretted that he couldn’t remember for sure whether Tolkien gave an encore….

(14) HEAVY METAL NEWS. [Item by Dann.] Heavy Metal Entertainment is taking another plunge into the video market. Its studio division, Heavy Metal Studios, will produce live-action video content from Heavy Metal’s library of properties. (TaarnaCold Dead War, Dark Wing, Arena Mode, etc.)

A sizzle reel accompanied the announcement at this year’s San Diego Comic-Contm. Curiously, the sizzle reel includes snippets from movies that have already been released. (I swore that the rhinos came from Jumanji. There were others.)

“Just as Heavy Metal Magazine changed the way the world looked at comic books, and how the ‘81 animated film Heavy Metal changed animation forever, Heavy Metal Studios is about to take the reins on live action content and push it far past its current stagnation and into new heights. Things will never be the same again, again,” said Tommy Coriale, Heavy Metal’s President and Head of Studio.

(15) JUMP ABOARD. Marc Scott Zicree is “Riding Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone Carousel!”

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Games Trailers:  Madison,” Fandom Games says “Madison,” even though it appears to be named after a really annoying Valley Girl, delivers an oldschool horror experience:  so old-school messages come on cassette tapes and clues come from snapping Polaroids. But can you take enough Polaroids to find the ghosts?

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

I Sing Bradbury Electric: A Loving, Personal Remembrance 

Ray Bradbury at his home in Los Angeles (photo by Danny Tuffs, Getty Images)

By Steve Vertlieb: He was a kindly, gentle soul who lived among us for a seeming eternity. But even eternity is finite. He was justifiably numbered among the most influential writers of the twentieth century. Among the limitless vistas of science fiction and fantasy he was, perhaps, second only in literary significance to H.G. Wells who briefly shared the last century with him. Ray Bradbury was, above all else, the poet laureate of speculative fiction. He shared with Ernest Hemingway the simplicity of phrase inspired by genius. No more legendary literary figure ever claimed Earth as his home, and yet Ray Bradbury was a childlike gargantuan whose life and artistry were shaped by the wonder and innocence of curiosity and tender imagination.

He was born into a world of rocket ships and monsters, a universe traversed by Buck Rogers, Flash Gordon, Frankenstein, Dracula, and a miraculous primordial ape called KING KONG. His boyhood was transformed by the promise of distant worlds and stranger creatures whose outward malevolence masked secret torment, the sadness of being deemed somehow different.

Ray Douglas Bradbury was born in Waukegan, Illinois (a hometown he shared with Jack Benny) on August 22nd, 1920. From birth he shared an affinity with the magical realm of motion pictures. His middle name was dedicated to the imagery of screen swashbuckler Douglas Fairbanks, and so Ray always knew that his spiritual ancestors consisted of pirates and colorful masked swordsmen. Coming of age during America’s great Depression, the gregarious youth was lifted by the seat of his pants by silken images painted in celluloid. His heroes consisted not only of daring cavaliers such as Fairbanks, but by the pervasively exotic characterizations of Lon Chaney Sr., Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi. The mystic lure of far away worlds beckoned the impressionable adolescent with the promise of tomorrow, while monstrous cinematic cadavers and rockets to Mars replaced the mundane scenery of a Depression-stricken America.

As sympathetic souls and kindred spirits came together in pre-destined unison, Bradbury found himself drawn to the early worlds of science fiction, fantasy, pulp fandom and, together with fellow teenagers Ray Harryhausen and Forrest James Ackerman, began their journey of discovery, forming what has come to be recognized as “first fandom,” in pursuit of creative profit and recognition. Bradbury would later state that he owed everything to Forry Ackerman who sold his first published story. The third member of the imaginative trio, Ray Harryhausen, formalized their creative partnership with the visual realization of Bradbury’s short story “The Fog Horn.” Published in a celebrated issue of The Saturday Evening Post, the short story concerning a sea beast consumed by the tantalizing image of an isolated light house, became the basis for Harryhausen’s first solo screen effort, The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms.

Rod Serling encouraged the celebrated writer to join his literary enclave at CBS Television as the decade reached its conclusion and, while Bradbury submitted several scripts to Serling’s classic science fiction/fantasy anthology series, The Twilight Zone, only one was aired as a part of the series. “I Sing The Body Electric,” inspired by Walt Whitman’s famous poem, served as the basis for a Bradbury story in which an electric grandmother is hired by a wealthy widower to work as his children’s nanny. The episode aired as a part of the series on May 18th, 1962 and was later included in a famous Bradbury anthology of the same name published in 1969. While this remains the only episode of the series penned by Bradbury, Serling managed to include an affectionate reference to the writer in his own melancholy tale (“Walking Distance”) of an advertising executive on the verge of a nervous breakdown, coming home once more to the small town in which he had spent his boyhood. As Martin Sloan (Gig Young) walks along the streets of Homewood, he makes a casual reference to the Bradbury house standing prominently in his gaze. Homewood sweetly represented small town Americana from which both writers had migrated.

Ray Bradbury turned his adolescent energy and enthusiasm into poetic imagery, and brought a human face to Man’s exploration of the stars. When Neil Armstrong took his first small steps upon the lunar landscape in July,1969, generating a giant leap of faith for all Mankind, Bradbury’s frustration over the lack of excitement shown by the television networks covering the monumental story exploded into headlines, and a memorable tirade by the world’s most eloquent innocent. Bradbury sat solemn and quiet as a guest on a network Lunar themed telecast, struggling to fill time with inanity after insanity. Unable to contain his rage at the proliferation of stupidity filling the national airwaves, the child in a man’s body rose to his feet…outraged by the lack of understanding and exhilaration being exhibited by David Frost and his disinterested panel of guests…and threatened to walk off of the live telecast. His contempt for the bland assemblage of guests apparent, Bradbury admonished them as he would a poor student in the gaze of a disappointed teacher. “This is the greatest night in the history of the world,” he raged. The lack of excitement over this cherished, awe inspiring moment in time, was just too much for this child of wonder either to accept or to absorb. The moment that Ray, and millions of children around the world, had dreamt of and imagined since Buck Rogers and Superman had first flown into space some thirty years earlier was finally here. That these simple, uninspired talk show guests were consumed with themselves, rather than this extraordinary moment of mortal achievement and exploration, was more than Bradbury could endure.

Like millions of imaginative children inhabiting Bradbury’s world, I revered his name and legend. Ray Bradbury signified everything I’d ever dreamt of or aspired to.

As a quiet, introspective boy growing up in Philadelphia during the nineteen fifties, I became a poster child for what would one day become known as “A Monster Kid” — a generation of “baby boomers” weaned on, and inspired by, television, the huge monster movie craze of the fifties, and the introduction of a genre movie magazine with the unlikely name of Famous Monsters of Filmland. The progenitor of this magical publication was none other than the editor who had first brought Ray Bradbury to the attention of publishers. Forrest J Ackerman, or as he was known to his millions of adoring children, “Uncle Forry.”

Forry was the Hans Christian Anderson of science fiction, fantasy, and horror, a Walt Disney father figure who, like the proverbial “Pan,” would lure willing children to worlds and concepts beyond the stars, filling their imaginations with inspirational promise and invitation. He was a joyous Pied Piper who, together with his boyhood friends, Ray Bradbury and Ray Harryhausen, would cause generation after generation of creative youth to embrace their dreams, and create their own fantastic lives and careers. Steven Spielberg and George Lucas were only two of the many artists who found their singular paths among the clouds inhabited by Bradbury, Harryhausen, and Ackerman.

Ray Bradbury with Steve and Erwin Vertlieb

It was during the wonderful Summer months of 1974 that I traveled for the first time to Los Angeles, and came face to face with the land of fantasies, dreams, imagination, and motion pictures that had so consumed and mesmerized my own impressionable childhood. I was like the proverbial kid in the candy store. Everywhere I turned represented the reflection of my own childhood longing and wanderings.

Among my friends of the period was composer and orchestrator John Morgan. John announced one afternoon that he had received an invitation to Ray Bradbury’s house that evening, and he wondered if my brother Erwin and I would like to join him for the royal summons. I swallowed my singular exhilaration, and excitedly accepted his generous invitation. Bradbury’s residence was a large yellow structure in a quiet residential neighborhood. We nervously climbed the outer steps and rang the door bell. As the door opened, Ray greeted us personally and ushered the three of us into his living room. I was both thrilled and frightened, for here within my gaze was the legendary writer smiling at me and extending his hand. His hands, I remember, were very large and inviting and I became lost inside their welcome grasp. Ray asked me about my own career, and I told him that I was a published writer and minor film historian. My day job was, I explained, a film editor at a Philadelphia television station.

He asked if I knew that he had written the screen play for John Huston’s magnificent 1956 production of Moby Dick. I assured him that I had. He was very proud of the gift that Huston had given him after the picture had been released. It was a 16-millimeter Technicolor print of the Warner Bros. release given him personally by the director. Ray was like a little kid proudly showing off his Hopalong Cassidy pistol. He asked if I’d like to see a few minutes of the film. I said yes, of course, and he ran to find the print. His joy was infectious as I watched him delicately thread the projector and share his treasure with us.

As the film began to unspool on the screen in his living room I could see that the print was immaculate. My film editor’s eye, however, noticed just the beginnings of an emulsion scratch in the otherwise gorgeous Technicolor print. I took my life in my hands, and asked Ray to stop the film for a moment. I don’t know if it was courage on my part or youthful arrogance. It’s difficult now to say which. Ray looked at me with a puzzled expression. I asked him if he ever cleaned his projector “gate.” He asked what I meant. I said “Ray, do you have a box of cue tips and some Isopropyl Alcohol?” Here was one of the most important writers of the Twentieth Century going dutifully to fetch a box of cue tips for this young upstart transgressing his hospitality. I honestly thought he would lift me bodily from my chair, and hurl me out the door to the street below. Instead, like the gentle soul he was, he went out into another room to bring what I had requested. I took a cue tip from the box he had handed me and immersed it in the accompanying bottle of alcohol. I showed him how to clean the “gate” of the projector in the areas that came into contact with the film print and assured him that this procedure would help to keep his beloved Technicolor print from being torn and permanently scratched. He thanked me for this simple lesson in film maintenance, and appeared grateful, but I was thoroughly convinced at the time that I would soon be black listed all over Hollywood, and forbidden from ever encountering or confronting this splendid Ice Cream Man again. That was Ray. He was just a big kid…a gentle, enthusiastic child with the talent and intellect of a genius.

During that same trip out West we had the unique opportunity to sit in the audience with Ray and his wife for a live, small theater production of Fahrenheit 451. Ray told me that he adored Bernard Herrmann’s original score for the Truffaut film version of his famous novel and, at his insistence, the small theater troupe used excerpts from the Herrmann recording of his score for London Phase 4 Records, with the composer conducting The London Philharmonic Orchestra. The experience was surreal.

After that, Ray and I maintained a sporadic, yet steady correspondence for the rest of his life. I remember running into him at one of Forry Ackerman’s Famous Monsters Of Filmland conventions in Virginia in 1993. I hadn’t seen Ray in years. He was surrounded, as he always was, by a burgeoning crowd of awe-struck fans. I approached him and asked if he remembered an arrogant young man some twenty years earlier who had had the temerity, in his own living room, to lecture him on the care and feeding of his 16-millimeter movie projector. He looked up at me from the hotel couch on which he was sitting and grinned somewhat impishly, pointing his finger in my direction. “Was that YOU?” I assured him that I was, indeed, that brazen young lad. We both chuckled over the recollection of that embarrassing episode so many years earlier. He might have cringed at my appearance, but he didn’t. He simply chuckled in delight. He was A Medicine For Melancholy.

Among the many ties that bound us together was Ray’s passionate interest in symphonic motion picture music written for the screen. We shared a love for the music of such composers as Bernard Herrmann, Miklos Rozsa, and Max Steiner among others. I had known Miklos Rozsa as a friend for nearly thirty years, and Ray not only admired his music, but had worked together with the composer during the filming of King Of Kings for MGM in 1961. Rozsa had won a richly deserved Oscar for his magnificent 1959 score for Metro-Goldwyn- Mayer’s Ben-Hur, and so was asked to write the music for the studio’s early sixties remake of the original 1927 Cecil B. DeMille silent classic. Ray was hired by Metro to write the narration spoken by Orson Welles scattered throughout the picture, and attended some of the recording sessions with Rozsa.

In 2007 the historic Castro Theater in San Francisco was preparing a special film festival honoring the work of the legendary composer, and I was asked to choose the films for the presentation, write the liner notes for the program, and co-host the festival. As it turned out, the Miklos Rozsa film festival became a major San Francisco event in late 2007 and early 2008 with seventeen motion pictures presented to packed houses over a nine-day period. The composer’s daughter, Juliet Rozsa, along with his granddaughters Nicci and Ariana, all drove in from Los Angeles and appeared with me on stage during the introductions. I was honored to read proclamations from both the Mayor of San Francisco, as well as the Hungarian Ambassador to The United States. However, the introduction that thrilled me the most was one written expressly for the event by Ray Bradbury.

Knowing Ray’s love for film music, I wrote him about the festival. He wrote me back asking if he might contribute his own written introduction to the festival. I was honored to accept his lovely request. After all, who was I to say say “no” to Ray Bradbury. Consequently, I felt a tingle of excitement as I read Ray’s brief, loving words from the stage to an audience of some seven hundred people just prior to my “live” interview with Juliet Rozsa, and a 35-millimeter screening of the composer’s masterpiece, Ben-Hur.

Over the years that followed I continued to correspond with Ray, both my mail and through the internet. Each Christmas would bring Ray’s newest holiday poetry which seemed to arrive not through conventional mail delivery but, rather, upon wings of angels within a snow covered sleigh. On one memorable occasion, after sending him an article I’d written pertaining to the science fiction genre we both so adored, he wrote me a lovely note thanking me for continuing to write about the worlds of fantasy and science fiction. He felt a singular obligation to keep the faith, so to speak, through his own place in literary history, and wanted to thank me, as well, for continuing to carry the torch along with him. Despite his advancing years and assorted health problems, which included a debilitating stroke in 1999, he was still the same little boy who had discovered the wonder of other worlds and galaxies so many decades before. Like Ray Harryhausen and Forry Ackerman, with whom he had shared his first spiritual journeys to outer space, he wrote “Steve…You’re a good pal.” I nearly cried when I read that, and wanted to reach out and hug this gentle soul whose life and work had so touched and impacted my own.

Ray continued to find wonder in the music of the movies and particularly loved Jerry Goldsmith’s valiant score for The Wind and The Lion. His affection for Goldsmith’s exhilarating musical themes for the romantic Sean Connery adventure film inspired his own work, and he proudly acknowledged his debt to the composer’s symphonic poetry in creating Now And Forever: Somewhere A Band Is Playing, published by William Morrow Company in 2007.

Jerry Goldsmith

I published my own tribute to Jerry Goldsmith and his music for another epic score, First Knight, in June, 2011, at Film Music Review, and discussed Ray’s love for that earlier Goldsmith music. I sent the article to Ray’s beloved daughter, Alexandra (Zee) shortly after its online publication. I think that one of the greatest thrills of my life, perhaps, was when Zee took my work along with her during a trip to her dad’s home a few weeks later, and read it to him. She wrote me that he smiled from ear to ear and offered his own enthusiastic comments as she read him my words about the Goldsmith music. 

Several weeks later I received a small parcel from Ray in the mail. On the face of the large white envelope were two postage stamps honoring Edgar Allan Poe.

Next to the stamps, Ray had drawn an arrow pointing toward Poe, and written in big letters “My Pa.”

Inside the envelope were a photograph of Ray standing next to a painting of Poe, along with a handwritten note which read…

Steve:

Thanks for “Mickey” (Miklos Rozsa)
4E (Forry Ackerman)
Xmas
& ME!

Love,
Ray

I got to see Ray a couple of more times, and those visits were the most wonderful love fests that I could have imagined. After the death of his lifelong friend friend Forry Ackerman, I sent Ray my Rondo-nominated tribute to my own forty-seven year friendship with Uncle Forry and, as I sat at his side, Ray said “I owe him everything.” I visited Ray shortly after his ninetieth birthday in late August, 2010. He was busily involved in numerous tributes, interviews and appearances honoring his birthday, but he told Zee to please somehow fit me into his schedule…and so I traveled with my little brother Erwin to Ray’s house to spend a loving hour at his feet. It was difficult for him to speak due to ill health, but he was obviously happy to see us and felt invigorated by our visit. I continued to feel astonished that this world renowned literary figure, this giant of a writer, was still living within the confines of the very same humble home he’d shared with an unsuspecting, quiet residential neighborhood for some fifty years. When I asked him about it, he told me that he’d raised his family and enjoyed much of his fame and success in his beloved house. Why would he ever wish to leave it?

In January, 2010, I discovered that my own health had been dramatically failing and that I would need major open heart surgery quite soon if I were to survive. In mid February of that year we scheduled surgery for a few weeks hence. I wrote Ray of my impending procedure, and he playfully instructed Zee to write me of the poetic irony of my requiring heart surgery right around Valentine’s Day. He further instructed her to tell me that he would not allow me to die. Who was I to contradict Ray Bradbury?

I was able to visit Ray one more time during the closing days of August, 2011. Once again, the demands on his time had become nearly impossible, as the world around him was beginning to understand and respect the significance and singular importance of the solitary inspiration who had so profoundly influenced the better part of their lives. Once again, Ray grew excited at the prospect of my impending visit and asked Zee to please arrange his schedule so that he might find time to see me. When Zee wrote me that “Dad” was excited about seeing me during my visit to Los Angeles, I humbly pondered the reasons why Ray Bradbury…this living legend…would grow excited over seeing me, of all people. I think the reason for his enthusiasm had little to do with me personally. It was just that Ray had never truly grown up. He was still the eternal innocent…still the little boy possessed of childlike awe and wonder who was eager to stop time and simply visit with an old “pal.”

Ray had just turned ninety-one and was visibly excited over the news that a film production company had just purchased the rights to his novel Dandelion Wine. As we entered the house, Zee told me that her dad was thrilled by the report and that he couldn’t wait to tell me about it. When I entered his den I found him in good spirits and quite animated. We talked of the sale, and of our nearly forty-year friendship. As the time wore on, and Ray was growing tired, I grew unusually sentimental as we were to preparing to leave. I filled up with tears as I told Ray how deeply I loved him, and how he had so profoundly impacted not only my life, but the lives of literally millions of friends and admirers all over the world who loved him as well, and owed him so very much. I arose from my chair and embraced this frail, gentle soul. I kissed him on his cheek, and told him how much he meant to me. He said “I love you, too, Steve” as each of us smiled and fought back the inevitable tears.

As we left the modest home on Cheviot Drive, I turned once more to see the façade and stood there for a moment, deep in thought and contemplation. As we got into the car, I said to Erwin “I have a terrible feeling that this is the last time we’ll ever see Ray.”

The remaining months of 2011 slipped quickly away. A new year was dawning but, with it, came new health concerns…not only for me, but for my beloved mom who had celebrated her one hundredth birthday six months earlier. In the early morning hours of February 1st, 2012, I received the dreaded telephone call that my mother had passed away. Among the treasured notes and letters of condolence that I received was a touching E-mail from Ray and Zee Bradbury expressing their sadness over the loss of my mom.

Nostalgia for things past and for a simpler time, perhaps, has become a common thread shared by so many so called “baby boomers.” In December, 2011, I was interviewed in my home for two hours by film director Robert Tinnell and a camera crew for a new film documentary concerning the “Monster Kid” phenomenon inspired by Forrest J Ackerman, his groundbreaking Famous Monsters Of Filmland Magazine, and the hugely popular, affectionately remembered monster movie craze of the 1950’s. Such luminaries as Steven Spielberg and George Lucas owe their careers to the phenomenon, as do such decidedly minor players as myself. While the film has not yet been completed, the producers released a theatrical trailer promoting their forthcoming documentary in the Spring. I sent the link for the trailer to Zee Bradbury, inspiring her to write back that “Dad should really be a part of this.” I telephoned Bob Tinnell on his mobile phone while he was driving in West Virginia to let him know that Ray Bradbury was interested in appearing in his film. He pulled off to the side of the road in excitement over the news. I put Bob in touch with Zee, and they arranged for Bob to come and visit Ray either in late May or early June, 2012, to interview him for the film.

In the meantime, I had spoken with Zee about my own impending return to Los Angeles in late August, 2012 and, as usual, she wrote back that her dad was excited about seeing me, and had asked her to re-arrange his schedule so that he might find the time to do so. While at work on the morning of Wednesday, June 6th, I received an E-Mail from Bob Tinnell letting me know that Ray had passed away during the night before at his home in Los Angeles. I stared at my Blackberry phone in stunned silence, unable to fully grasp the news. Ray Bradbury was gone. I began to cry. My lifelong hero and friend had died. I would no longer behold his wonderful face and childlike smile, nor would I ever again find my own hands lost in his. He had joined Forry and his other pals in what must surely be Science Fiction Heaven. Ray shared our lives and existence for an all too brief and shining moment in eternity, and now he had departed, leaving us to face a world sadly dreary in his absence.

Ray has found peace in another realm of immortality, having joined The Ghosts of Forever, and yet his work lives on beyond his fabled physical presence, and we shall continue to sing Bradbury Electric in joyful celebration and chorus for the remainder of our own solitary sojourn upon this wondrous sphere.

— Steve Vertlieb, June 2012
Contributing writer – Film Music Review

Originally published by Roger Hall in Film Music Review.

[Some of the images in the remembrance are from the author’s personal collection. Others are from online sources and no copyright infringement is intended or implied.]

Pixel Scroll 5/6/22 I Pixelled Today’s Scrolldle In Fifth Guesses

(1) KSR AT EARTH DAY GATHERING IN DHARAMSALA. Kim Stanley Robinson was among those present for the 14th Dalai Lama’s “Meeting with Participants in a Dialogue for Our Future”. This was posted on April 22:

…Kim Stanley Robinson, who described himself as a science fiction writer, asked how Buddhism can help science. His Holiness told him that scientists have been interested to discuss ways to achieve peace of mind because they recognise that if the mind is disturbed people won’t be happy. He emphasised the benefits of discovering more about mental consciousness and learning to train it on the basis of reasoning…

(2) VERTLIEB MEDICAL UPDATE. Steve Vertlieb returned to Facebook as he begins his long recovery from major heart surgery.

… My time on Facebook will, for the present, be limited, I fear, in the days ahead, but I just wanted to let everyone know that I’ve survived. I came home from the hospital yesterday (Thursday) after a ten day stay following major open-heart surgery. The procedure lasted approximately six hours, during which my surgeons replaced one heart valve, repaired another, stitched back together the hole in my heart, and stopped my internal bleeding.

This procedure was far more involved and life threatening than I ever imagined or was advised. The second time, it seems, is not the charm, but the entire bracelet. They had to cut through an already existing incision, breaking once healed bones protecting my heart cavity yet again, in order to reach and operate upon the newly troubled areas. My recovery, consequently, will also be far more difficult than my original transition back to health, healing, and wholeness twelve years ago.

The good news, however, is that when I asked my surgeon the chances for a complete recovery, he responded “ONE HUNDRED PERCENT.” Doing anything beyond menial movement and chores over the next several months will be severely limited. My brother Erwin is here with me for the next month or so, and he’ll be taking care of me….

(3) LOWREY ARRIVES. Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund delegate “Orange Mike” Lowrey has returned. “As of 5 p.m. Milwaukee (11 p.m. GMT), I’m off the plane and have already been put back to work here at the bookstore. (Yes, the gout’s still painful.)” Welcome back! Sorry about the gout…

(4) YEAR’S BEST SERIES IN ABEYANCE. Jonathan Strahan, praising a story at his Notes from Coode Street blog, said:

In the meantime, since I’m not currently editing a year’s best anthology series for anyone, I’ll try to note some of the best short fiction I’m reading about the place. My favourite story of the moment is Maureen McHugh’s wonderful “The Goldfish Man“, from Uncanny 45. Because it’s online and shareable, you should go read it if you see this. It would be in my year’s best.

He clarified in a comment there will not be a forthcoming volume in his Year’s Best SF series:

Sadly, those were not successful and they opted not to proceed. I have been looking for new publisher for the series, but to no avail so far.

It was news to me.

(5) I’M WORKING, REALLY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Anne Helen Petersen explains how remote workers can show the home office they’re busy by turning work into a LARP: “LARPing your job” at Culture Study.

…The compulsion to LARP is for those who have to feel accountable to some larger salary god, one who takes earthly shape in the form of our manager, our manager’s manager, and/or our coworkers, all of whom are constantly deciding whether or not we deserve the salaried, privileged position in which we’ve found ourselves. This is largely bullshit, of course: yes, our managers do think about how much we’re producing, but only the worst of them are clocking how many hours our green dot is showing up on Slack. Most of our coworkers are too worried about LARPing their own jobs to worry about how much you’re LARPing yours.

We’re performing, in other words, largely for ourselves. Justifying to ourselves that we deserve the place that we’ve found ourselves. Justifying to ourselves that writing for the internet is a vocation that deserves steady payment. At heart, this is a manifestation of a general undervaluing of our own work: we still navigate the workplace as if getting paid to produce knowledge means we’re getting away with something, and have to do everything possible to make sure no one realizes they’ve made a massive mistake.

Of course, there are myriad cultural and societal forces that have led us to this point of disbelief. Every time someone made fun of my undergrad degree, or my dissertation, or my Ph.D. Every time someone made fun of BuzzFeed, or denigrated writing about celebrities or pop culture generally. Every time someone at a family gathering said something like “must be fun to get paid to go to the movies?” All of those messages come together to tell me that my work is either easy or pointless. No wonder I spend so much time trying to communicate how hard I work…

(6) LOUD AND CLEAR. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] This is a documentary that Penguin Random House UK putout in late April about the new Discworld audiobooks.  This is corporate promotion but still worth 20 minutes in part because you get a sense of how an audiobook is made and also because you get to hear some of the actors who are narrating, as well as Pratchett’s literary executor, Rob Wilkins. One important point is that these books have been called “full cast” audiobooks and they’re not; a single actor narrates each one of the Discworld subseries, with the great Bill Nighy providing the footnotes. Of the narrators I thought Andy Serkis (who now has a pompadour) was the most interesting. “Turning Terry Pratchett’s Discworld into Audiobooks”.

This documentary follows Penguin Audio’s ambitious project of turning the entire Discworld catalog into audiobook format. Click here to find out more: https://linktr.ee/Discworld This is Discworld like you’ve never heard it before. With an incredible cast of names from British stage and screen, including Bill Nighy, Peter Serafinowicz, Indira Varma, Colin Morgan, Andy Serkis and Sian Clifford. This ambitious project, taking 40 unabridged books, containing nearly 4 million words, recording over 135 days and featuring over 420 hours of audio is being produced and directed by Neil Gardner – the multiple award-winning radio writer & director – who is a life-long Terry Pratchett superfan.

(7) STOP AVOIDING THE SF LABEL. At Publishers Weekly, Emily Midkiff argues “Sci-Fi for Kids Is a Missed Publishing Opportunity”.

… When I looked at very different libraries all across the country, I saw the same low supply of science fiction that I had observed in that first elementary school library, but I also saw a high demand for it. In each library, only about 3% of the books were science fiction. I expected to see a corresponding low number of checkouts. Instead, the records showed that science fiction books were getting checked out more often per book than other genres. While realistic fiction books were checked out, on average, one to three times per book and fantasy books were checked out three to four times per book, science fiction books’ checkout numbers were as high as six times per book. These libraries may not have many science fiction books available, but the children seem to compensate by collectively checking out the available books more often.

The librarians were just as surprised as I was. Library software doesn’t keep track of each book’s genre, and so librarians have no easy way of knowing that science fiction books are being checked out so often. Librarians are, however, aware that there isn’t much science fiction available. There just aren’t as many choices as there are for other genres…

(8) GREAT LEAP FORWARD. “’Quantum Leap’ Sequel Scores Series Pickup at NBC”The Hollywood Reporter has details.

Nearly 30 years since the Scott Bakula-led original series signed off after a five-season run on NBC, the broadcast network has handed out a formal series order to the sequel series starring Raymond Lee.

The drama, which was formally picked up to pilot in January, recently wrapped production and is one of a handful of comedies and dramas that is expected to be in formal consideration for the 2022-23 fall schedule.

Written by God Friended Me and Alcatraz duo Steven Lilien and Bryan Wynbrandt — who will now have two shows on NBC with rookie La Brea having already been renewed — the new Quantum Leap follows a new team that has been assembled to restart the Quantum Leap project in the hopes of understanding the mysteries behind the machine and the man who created it 30 years since Dr. Sam Beckett stepped into the accelerator and vanished….

(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1960 [By Cat Eldridge.]

This is Gart Williams, age thirty-eight, a man protected by a suit of armor all held together by one bolt. Just a moment ago, someone removed the bolt, and Mr. Williams’ protection fell away from him, and left him a naked target. He’s been cannonaded this afternoon by all the enemies of his life. His insecurity has shelled him, his sensitivity has straddled him with humiliation, his deep-rooted disquiet about his own worth has zeroed in on him, landed on target, and blown him apart. Mr. Gart Williams, ad agency exec, who in just a moment, will move into the Twilight Zone—in a desperate search for survival. — opening narration of “A Stop at Willoughby”

Sixty-two years ago this evening CBS aired The Twilight Zone’s “A Stop at Willoughby”. So why am I essaying this Scroll? It is because, although I cannot give you an original source for it, it is said that Rod Serling cited this as his favorite story from the first season of the series. This being a story of the Twilight Zone, I’m willing to accept that as a true story.

 So “A Stop at Willoughby” concerns a man so lonely, so unhappy with his life that he starts dreaming as he takes a short nap on the train while commuting home one snowy November day. Waking he finds his dream is real and he is in Willoughby in 1888, which Serling describes as a “peaceful, restful place, where a man can slow down to a walk and live his life full measure.” Even the train, where he’s the only passenger, is eighty years old.

He returns to Willoughby several times where he’s created as if he’s actually resident there but this being the reality of the Twilight Zone, things don’t end as he hopes. I am most definitely not saying what happens as that’d be a major spoiler and there might actually be someone here who hasn’t yet seen it. Though I find that extremely unlikely. 

It shows up repeatedly in popular culture with some instances I’ll note here. The For All Time film starring Mark Harmon was based on this episode. An animated Rugrats “Family Reunion” episode has all of the Pickles family taking the train to Willoughby, with the conductor saying, “Next stop Willoughby!” And in Stargate Atlantis’ “The Real World” episode, Dr. Elizabeth Weir awakens in the Acute Care Unit of Willoughby State Hospital. 

The Twilight Zone is streaming on Paramount +. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born May 6, 1914 Randall Jarrell. Author of the ever so charming The Animal Family which is illustrated by Maurice Sendak. Go read it — you’ll be smiling afterwards. The Anchor Book of Stories has more of his genre friendly stories. (Died 1965.)
  • Born May 6, 1915 Orson Welles. Certainly the broadcast of “The War of the Worlds” in 1938 was his pinnacle of genre success, but for the Federal Theatre Project he also did the 1936 adaptation of Macbeth with an entirely African American cast that was absolutely amazing. That was known as the Voodoo Macbeth which might give you an idea of what he did to it. He would later do a more straightforward film of Macbeth. And of course he made a most excellent radio Shadow as well! (Died 1985.)
  • Born May 6, 1946 Nancy Kilpatrick, 76. Fangoria called her “Canada’s answer to Anne Rice”. I do recommend the anthology she edited Danse Macabre: Close Encounters with the Reaper as it’s a most excellent horror collection. 
  • Born May 6, 1952 Michael O’Hare. He was best known for playing Commander Jeffrey Sinclair in the first season of Babylon 5.  Other genre appearances were limited — he played Fuller in the 1984 film C.H.U.D, was Jimmy in the “Heretic” episode of Tales from the Darkside and appeared as a thug on the subway train in The Trial of the Incredible Hulk. And yes, he’s one of Babylon 5 actors who died well before they should’ve. (Died 2012.)
  • Born May 6, 1961 Carlos Lauchu, 61. Anubis, the captain of Ra’s personal guard, in the original Stargate film. His only other genre acting was two appearances in the Monsters anthology series. 

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • Bizarro has Superman explaining why you can’t afford to be subtle in comics.

(12) MOON KNIGHT QR & A. Variety reveals “How Marvel Studios Buried Secret Messages via QR Codes Inside ‘Moon Knight’”.

It’s not every day that one can write a sentence that reasonably connects the Fox animated series “Bob’s Burgers,” the House of Terror museum of fascist and communist regimes in Hungary, and the Marvel Cinematic Universe — but in 2022, anything is possible.

Let’s back up. Ever since the Marvel Studios series “Moon Knight” debuted on Disney+ on March 30, eagle-eyed viewers have noticed a series of semi-conspicuous QR codes in the background of scenes in the first, second and fifth episodes of the show. Scanning the codes sends viewers to a special website that contains a weekly free web comic featuring the Moon Knight character through the run of the show, from his first appearance in 1975 through his most recent issue in 2019.

It’s a savvy way to expand viewers’ comic book knowledge for a character even serious Marvel fans may never have read, and it’s been wildly successful: According to Disney, the landing page has been visited over 1.5 million times, leading to over 500,000 full comics read to date…

(13) DOUBLE-CROSSOVER. [Item by Danny Sichel.] in 2004, KC Carlson compiled an Oral History of the JLA/Avengers crossover from the early 80s. The one that was never published. The Oral History wasn’t published either — possibly because it presents a rather unpleasant image of many of the people involved. But now here it is. At Comics Beat:

George Pérez:  “It just ended up being one thing after another — accusations both from DC and Marvel towards each other — until I realized there was a lot more private politics that seemed to be going on which were killing the book I really wanted to work on. After a while I became very bitter about the entire thing. It was never more apparent to me that, as much as I love drawing comics, it’s still a business, and politics and petty squabbles can kill a project, even such a potential money-maker.”  — Modern Masters Volume 2: George Pérez, 2003

George nailed it. If there ever was a single comics project that embodied company politics, petty squabbles, and flying accusations, it was the original JLA/Avengers crossover, scheduled to be jointly published between Marvel Comics and DC Comics in the summer of 1983 — the fifth in a series of highly successful team-ups. Pairing the legendary Justice League of America (JLA) and the mighty Avengers, this project would include virtually all of the quintessential characters from the two companies’ lineups….

George Pérez:  “I had been drawing for two weeks and was already starting page 21, when I received a call from Len Wein saying they needed to find out what changes I was making in the plot. (DC staffer) Joey Cavalieri had to do a piecemeal plot based on things I had changed — ideas, if not actual explanations — since I hadn’t quite worked out everything as I was going along yet.” — Comics Interview #6, August 1983

Gerry Conway, unwilling to do another draft of the plot, leaves the project at this point. Cavalieri, in consultation with Perez and Wein, cobbles together a new plot — draft #3 — and Giordano rushes it into Shooter’s hands….

(14) ABOUT JANE 57821. Janelle Monáe’s volume of collaborative stories is the subject of  “Review: The Memory Librarian and Other Stories of Dirty Computer” by Arturo Serrano at Nerds of a Feather.

… The introduction to the collection is a quick summary of the rise of a totalitarian regime, New Dawn, whose control over society was possible because “we accepted their offer that an eye in the sky might protect us from… ourselves.” With the assurance of total visibility, an immediate problem emerged regarding privacy and deviancy, and the regime decided that “what they struggled to see, they began to deem not worthy of being seen—inconsistent, off standard. Began calling it dirty—unfit to be swallowed by their eyes.”

In the backstory that this introduction presents, the new social category of the dirty started being applied to modes of thought and identity that did not fit the rigid standards of the regime. The stories that compose this collection explore various characters’ struggle to reclaim, preserve, and even celebrate the dirty….

(15) A LAUGH RIOT IT’S NOT. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] “The debut episode of the new Star Trek show has drawn complaints for using documentary footage of the 2014 Maidan Uprising to depict an alien riot,” reports Gizmodo: Star Trek Strange New Worlds Uses Ukrainian Protest Footage as Alien Riot”.

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds heads to the franchise’s past to tell adventure stories for a bright, optimistic future—but its very first episode has looked to our own recent history to provide a proxy that has some very unfortunate connotations.

Part of the first episode of the new series, titled “Strange New Worlds” itself, sees the Enterprise’s Captain Pike (Anson Mount), Lt. Spock (Ethan Peck), and Lt. Noonien-Singh (Christina Chong) beam down to an alien world, Kiley 279, in an attempt to recover missing Starfleet officers in the wake of a First Contact meeting. The trio arrives to find the world a pre-warp civilization being torn apart by a conflict between the planetary government and a local uprising…

…Shortly after the away team lands on Kiley 279, they come across a crowd of civilians watching a news broadcast on an outside monitor, discussing an overnight series of protests taking place across the Kiley civilization. However, the footage shown is from much closer to our home than the world of Star Trek: it’s footage taken during the late 2013-early 2014 civil unrest in Ukraine known as “Euromaidan,” or the Maidan Uprising.

…Footage from the Maidan Uprising is not the only archival protest footage used in the episode—later on in the episode, Captain Pike shows the Kiley 279 government a selection of footage from Earth’s history as a precedent to World War III in Star Trek’s timeline, notably using footage from the January 6th 2021 riots at the U.S. Capitol as Pike draws a direct line between a “second Civil War, and then the Eugenics War, and then finally just World War III.”… 

(16) ROBOHOP. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Dine Brands—corporate parent of both IHOP and Applebee’s—is among the restaurant companies beginning or expanding experiments with robotics. The bots have roles both back-of-house (e.g., food prep) and front-of-house (e.g., delivering food or busing tables). Labor shortages are said to be the biggest inspiration. “Applebee’s And IHOP Are Adding New Technologies, Including Robotics, To Offset Labor Shortages” at Forbes.

…Further, IHOP has a new point-of-sale system that streamlines orders across channels and a franchisee is also testing a robot that can deliver food to guests and bus tables. Robotic servers are starting to pop up across the casual dining segment, including at Denny’s and Chili’s, the latter of which just expanded deployment to 51 more restaurants.

It’s too early to tell if such an approach is worth a broader rollout. Peyton did say, however, that the robot makes servers more productive and efficient and “guests and kids think it’s super cool.”

“Also, borrowing from QSR, we’re testing a robotic arm that can work the fryer station,” he said. “If we have one less cook in the kitchen, this can help them be more efficient and productive.”…

(17) 8K. Seán Doran provides some video of a crater on Mars from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter: “A Very Detailed View Of A Crater On Planet Mars”.

This is ESP_073055_1675 from HiRISE camera onboard Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. Frame height is approximately 1km taken from an orbit height of 250km. Source was denoised, blended, graded, rescaled & animated to create the footage. HiRISE (High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment) is the most powerful camera ever sent to another planet, one of six instruments onboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. The color you see in HiRISE images is not the “true” color human eyes would see on Mars. This is because the HiRISE camera views Mars in a different part of the spectrum than human eyes do. The camera has three different color filtered CCDs: red, blue-green, and near-infrared. False color imagery is extremely valuable because it illuminates the distinction between different materials and textures.

(18) MAKE A DOUBLE BATCH. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Do you know where your Cumberbatch is? James Cordon of The Late Late Show, Elizabeth Olsen, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Benedict Cumberbatch dispute whether telling news-based jokes or drinking margaritas is more important on Cinco de Mayo. Or maybe it’s figuring out which Benedict Cumberbatch is from our universe. “Benedict Cumberbatch and Elizabeth Olsen interrupting James Corden’s monologue is sheer chaos” at Mashable.

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

Pixel Scroll 4/27/22 It Was The Time Of The Pixel, In The Year Of Scroll One

(1) ZAGREB CON’S SPECIAL DEAL. Croatia’s SFeraKon 2022, taking place May 13-15, is offering free admission to Ukrainians taking temporary shelter in the country.

Given the current situation in Eastern Europe, we decided to invite Ukrainians who are currently in Croatia to SFeraKon without paying a registration fee.

Free SFeraKon 2022 attendance for citizens of Ukraine If you are a citizen of Ukraine who came to Croatia to find temporary shelter from war, and are interested in science, science fiction, fantasy, horror literature, films or series, or borderline geeky activities such as board or computer games, cosplay or stuff like that, we would love to help you drop your worries for at least one weekend: come to SFeraKon for free. We offer three days of programme, but more importantly, an opportunity for you to take part in a gathering with a lot of fun and friendly people who may share some of your interests. Unfortunately, we cannot offer any translation into Ukrainian language, but if you speak English, then you already have something in common with 90% of the population at SFeraKon. Even of you don’t speak English, Ukrainian and Croatian have some similarities so most likely you will be able to communicate with others with a moderate amount of good will and a bit of hand waving SFeraKon is taking place from 13th till 15th of May (Friday evening till Sunday evening) at the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing (If you are in Zagreb, simply look for FER). We will be glad to meet and hang out with you.

(2) AMERICAN WRITERS FESTIVAL. [Item by Steven H Silver.] The American Writers Festival, sponsored by the American Writers Museum, will take place on May 15 at the Chicago Cultural Center.  It will include a panel discussion moderated by Chicon 8 Special Guest Dr. Eve L. Ewing (“The Future of Black”), and a talk between Ewing and Ashley C. Ford, and a discussion between Chicon 7 Toastmaster John Scalzi and Michi Trota.

The inaugural American Writers Festival on May 15, 2022 in Chicago coincides with the American Writers Museum’s fifth anniversary. The free literary festival will be held at four stages inside the Chicago Cultural Center and one stage at the American Writers Museum, and feature more than 75 beloved contemporary authors, artists and playwrights. Participating writers will address their perspectives on many of today’s most timely and controversial topics including immigration, book censorship, racism and equality through themes within their literature.

As a special bonus, the AWM will waive museum admission fees on Sunday, May 15 and Monday, May 16 – AWM’s fifth anniversary – to encourage more people to experience the literary works of the greatest American writers.

Proof of vaccination and masks are required to enter the American Writers Museum and all event spaces at the Chicago Cultural Center.

(3) CHARITY STREAM. [Item by Ben Bird Person.] Twitch streamer Keffals will be having a charity stream to help Alabaman trans kids and their parents. Lilly Wachowski, Anthony Fantano, and Chelsea Manning are confirmed guests!

(4) AVATAR SEQUEL LEAVES DRYDOCK. Variety was there as “’Avatar 2′ Footage Debuts at Cinemacon”.

Avatar 2” is real, and it’s here — naysayers be damned.

After at least seven delays in the last eight years (the film was originally supposed to open in 2014), director James Cameron is finally ready to show audiences his otherworldly, underwater vision for “Avatar’s” long-awaited sequel. It’s newly titled as “Avatar: The Way of Water.”

Disney, which inherited the franchise after acquiring 20th Century Fox in 2019, unveiled new footage of the highly anticipated film at CinemaCon, the annual gathering of movie theater owners that’s currently unfolding at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.

CinemaCon attendees were given 3D glasses to watch the minutes-long trailer, which contained almost no dialogue. Instead, exhibitors were immersed into different regions across the dazzling world of Pandora through sweeping visuals of the planet’s crystal blue oceans and lakes. The footage also shows the local tribe of Na’vi interacting with various species resembling whales and pelicans, some of which flew through the screen and into audience member’s faces thanks to the three-dimensional technology.

(5) COME FROM AWAY. Sarah Gailey responded to the angst about Twitter’s future by encouraging writers and artists to use her comments to tell where to find their newsletters. Thread starts here.  

(6) KAREN GILLAN INTERVIEW. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] I heard this podcast that Leonard and Jessie Maltin did with Karen Gillan, which is the first time I’ve heard Gillan speak in her normal Scottish voice (she’s from Inverness). Much of Gillan’s work is genre-related, ever since she was Matt Smith’s companion for three seasons on Doctor Who, a part she enjoyed because the cast bonded as a family through nine months of shoots where they worked 11 days out of every 14. She talks about what it is like being behind a table at media conventions, where fans pepper her with really arcane trivia questions about her roles, most notably as Nebula in the MCU. (Fans, Leonard Maltin says, “are a wily lot.”)  But she also talks about promoting MCU films in giant press conferences where the stars have two goals:  Not saying anything about the movie and making sure that Tom Holland doesn’t blurt out spoilers.

Gillan is currently developing Conventional, based on a short film she wrote and starred in in 2018 about a horror film star who meets fans who dress as the serial killer in her movies.  The film is on YouTube and would be rated R if it had a rating.

(7) ESSAY: JACK KLUGMAN ON THE ORIGINAL TWILIGHT ZONE.

By Cat Eldridge: Only three individuals did four or more appearances on Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone and Jack Klugman was one of them. 

Let’s discuss his appearances. He was in “A Passage for Trumpet,” “A Game of Pool”, “Death Ship” and “In Praise of Pip”. 

In “A Passage for Trumpet” he’s Joey Crown, a hopeless NYC trumpeteeer with no money, no friends, and no job prospects due to being an alcoholic. He ends in Limbo talking to an Angel. 

Next he’s Jesse Cardiff in “A Game of Pool,” where we get told the story of the best pool player living and the best pool player dead. No points for guessing which he is. 

Now this episode was remade in the eighties Twilight Zone. That version featured Esai Morales as Jesse Cardiff and Maury Chaykin as Fats Brown. This version used the original alternate ending that Johnson intended for the original version. (Nope in keeping with the File 770 policy of not having spoilers if at possible, I’m not telling you what that ending was. After all it’s only been sixty years and some of you might not have seen it yet.) 

The next episode he’s in is definitely SF and based on a Richard Matheson short story with the same title, “Death Ship”. (It was first published in Fantastic Story Magazine, March 1953.) Matheson wrote sixteen episodes of The Twilight Zone including “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet”. Only Serling wrote more. In this episode, a spaceship crew discovers a wrecked replica of their ship with their own dead bodies inside. Klugman plays the Captain Paul Ross.

The model used in this episode of the hovering spaceship is that of a C-57D Cruiser, a leftover prop from Forbidden Planet. It would also be used in the episodes “The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street” and “Third from the Sun”. The crashed ship is a model created for this episode.

The final appearance by him is in “In Praise of Pip” where his role is Max Philips,  a crooked bookie, who after learning that his soldier son has suffered a mortal wound in the Vietnam War, apparently encounters a childhood version of his son.

The Twilight Zone streams on Paramount +. 

From “Death Ship”

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born April 27, 1894 Dashiell Hammett. Yes, I know he’s written some genre fiction but I’m interested this time in his mysteries. He wrote The Maltese Falcon which was turned into the film you remember and another film a decade earlier. And, of course, there are Nick and Nora Charles in The Thin Man series that got turned in a six film series. Now my favorite character by him is the Continental Op in Red Harvest and The Dain Curse. And let’s not forget the Secret Agent X-9 comic strip which artist Alex Raymond  of Flash Gordon fame illustrated. (Died 1961.)
  • Born April 27, 1899 Walter Lantz. Cartoonist, animator, producer and director who founded Walter Lantz Productions. He created the Woody Woodpecker and Chilly Willy characters among others. He received an Academy Award “for bringing joy and laughter to every part of the world through his unique animated motion pictures”. (Died 1994.)
  • Born April 27, 1901 Frank Belknap Long. John Hertz says that he should be singled out for the “To Follow Knowledge” novelette which John lovingly discuses here. Let me add that Long received the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement. (Died 1994.)
  • Born April 27, 1920 Doris Baumgardt. Well-known and loved fan, illustrator and writer under the name of Leslie Perri. She was a member of the Futurians, and a founding member of FAPA. She was also a member of the CPASF and the Science Fictioneers. She was one of five members of the Futurians allowed into the first World Science Fiction Convention by Sam Moskowitz  with the other four were Isaac Asimov, David Kyle, Jack Robinson and Richard Wilson. She wrote three pieces of short fiction that were published in the Forties and Fifties; she contributed artwork to fanzines. (Died 1970.)
  • Born April 27, 1962Rachel Caine. She had two series, the Weather Warden series which is most excellent and the superb Great Library series. I can’t speak to the Morganville Vampires series as I don’t really do vampires. She’s got a number of other series, far more than can detailed here. She won the Nebula Solstice Award last year, given for significant impact on speculative fiction. Ben Bova and Jarvis Bernard Sheffield also were given the Award that year. (Died 2020.)
  • Born April 27, 1963 Russell T. Davies, 59. Responsible for the 2005 revival of the BBC One of Doctor Who. A Whovian since the very beginning, he thinks “The Talons of Weng-Chiang” has the best dialogue in the entire series, an opinion I concur with. Of course he’s also responsible for Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures as well. (Need I note that the The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot was his idea?) Oh, and a few years back, he produced A Midsummer Night’s Dream. And that hardly covers everything that he’s done. Hugo nominations and awards? Oh yes. Starting at Nippon 2007, where he was nominated for Doctor Who’s “Army of Ghosts” and “Doomsday”, then at Anticipation both “Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead” and “Turn Left” were nominated. At Aussiecon 4, he finally won a Hugo for “The Water of Mars”. “The Next Doctor” and “Planet of the Dead” were also nominated.  And y’all know he’s the new Who showrunner. That should be interesting. 
  • Born April 27, 1986 Catherine Webb, 36. She’s writes under a number of names but I only know her under her Kate Griffin name where she wrote the extraordinary London set Matthew Swift series which one of the best urban fantasy series I ever read. Hugo worthy indeed. I’ve not read any of her fiction written as Claire North which is major other name, so if you have, do tell me how it is. As North, her book The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August won the Clarke Award and Campbell Memorial Award, and The Sudden Appearance of Hope won a World Fantasy Award. Now go read the Matthew Swift series! 
  • Born April 27, 1986 Jenna Coleman, 36. Clara Oswald, Companion to the Eleventh and Twelfth Doctors.  She remains the longest serving companion since the series was revived. Genre wise, she was also Connie in Captain America: The First Avenger, and did voice work on the animated reboot of Thunderbirds Are Go. And yes, she showed up in The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot which deserves to be annotated. 

(9) SAGA IS BACK. NPR’s Mallory Yu tells how “Radical pacifism and violence collide in the ‘Saga’ comic series”.

There’s a frog playing drums, an alien on guitar, and a humanoid creature with a television for a head on vocals on the cover of Saga‘s Issue 58.

It’s a collection of characters that’s par for the course for the award-winning science fiction epic, which pretty quickly amassed a legion of fans after its first issue in 2012. Then, in 2018, creators Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples announced their saga would be going on hiatus.

Their series returned this year, in February, and Vaughan was ready to get started.

“I can’t stop thinking about it,” he said. “I think most of my hiatus was really spent still focused on Saga and sort of plotting out the next several years of these character’s adventures.”

If you call running for your life while dangerous assassins shoot lasers at you “adventures.”…

(10) WHO – OR WHAT? – WILL EXPLORE SPACE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Jeff Foust reviews a new book that argues that we don’t need astronauts anymore and can just rely on unmanned missions. “The End of Astronauts” at The Space Review.

…For the last couple of decades, there has been a truce between advocates of robotic and human space exploration, with an acknowledgement that the two can and should work together: robots serving as precursors and assistants for later human missions. But in The End of Astronauts, Donald Goldsmith and Martin Rees—a veteran science writer and the UK’s Astronomer Royal, respectively—argue that exploration beyond Earth orbit should be left to robots, a case that is certainly controversial but not necessarily compelling.

…Of course, governments don’t send astronauts into space exclusively or even primarily to do exploration: it’s one rationale of several, like geopolitics and national prestige. Goldsmith and Rees appear to acknowledge this, expecting the US and China to land humans on the Moon in the next decade or so, with Mars missions possibly by the 2040s but perhaps later….

(11) HOW ANCIENT DNA HIT THE HEADLINES; [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] The origins, politics and motivations of the people who sequence age-old genomes dance with science fiction In tomorrow’s Nature….

In 1993, the day after the film Jurassic Park premiered in Washington DC, Nature reported the sequencing of DNA from a weevil encased in amber more than 120 million years ago. Then, in 2015, days before the global premiere of a sequel, Jurassic World, Nature Communications published evidence for the preservation of red blood cells and proteins in a 75-million-year-old dinosaur sample. Coincidence? The authors of the 1993 paper (R. J. Cano et al. Nature 363, 536–538; 1993) insisted it was, notes historian of science Elizabeth Jones. One of the co-authors of the 2015 paper https://www.nature.com/articles/ncomms8352.pdf (S. Bertazzo et al.Nature Commun. 6, 7352; 2015) told me theirs was, too: “100%”. These tantalizing parallels between life and art open Jones’s book Ancient DNA, a fun and thought-provoking introduction to the origins, politics and motivations of research into age-old genomes…

...Will the ancient-DNA big-hitters go back in time once more? The latest film in the franchise, Jurassic World Dominion, premieres in June; perhaps we’ll find out.

(12) THE GANG’S ALL HERE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Sam Neill, Laura Dern, and Jeff Goldblum chat with Vanity Fair about Jurassic Park and Jurassic World: Dominion, which they are all in, in this video that dropped today.

(13) ON THE HORIZON. Snopes.com expects “Musk’s Twitter Ambitions to Collide with Europe’s Tech Rules”.

A hands-off approach to moderating content at Elon Musk’s Twitter could clash with ambitious new laws in Europe meant to protect users from disinformation, hate speech and other harmful material.

Musk, who describes himself as a “free speech absolutist,” pledged to buy Twitter for $44 billion this week, with European Union officials and digital campaigners quick to say that any focus on free speech to the detriment of online safety would not fly after the 27-nation bloc solidified its status as a global leader in the effort to rein in the power of tech giants.

“If his approach will be ‘just stop moderating it,’ he will likely find himself in a lot of legal trouble in the EU,” said Jan Penfrat, senior policy adviser at digital rights group EDRi.

Musk will soon be confronted with Europe’s Digital Services Act, which will require big tech companies like Twitter, Google and Facebook parent Meta to police their platforms more strictly or face billions in fines….

(14) YOU’LL WANT TO RUSH TO YOUR NEAREST THEATER 45 YEARS AGO! “Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back Gets a Modern Trailer Makeover” and ScreenRant admires it greatly.

1980’s Star Wars: The Empire Strikes back gets a brand new, modern trailer that doesn’t give away any of the film’s surprises. As one of the true blockbusters, the release of 1977’s original Star Wars movie marked the beginning of one of the most influential franchises of all time. For its first sequel, creator George Lucas stepped back from directorial duties, handing off the role to his former film school professor Irvin Kirshner. With a story by Lucas and a script by Lawrence Kasdan, The Empire Strikes Back took a much darker tone than its predecessor and was all the better for it.

(15) FOR THEIR FANS. This trailer explains what happens when a character “has CGI surgery,” shows Chip and Dale going to cons, and hopefully will not have kids ask, “What are the Chippendale dancers?” Coming to Disney Plus in May!

(16) HONEST GAME TRAILER. In “Honest Game Trailers: Tunic,” Fandom Games says this game first asks “What if Zelda were a furry?” but then goes on to be a game where all the rules and plot mechanics are hidden, so the game “captures the feeling of being a lost child in Costco.” But as you repeat actions over and over, “It’s like having OCD–but the fun kind!”

[Thanks to Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Borys Sydiuk, Steven H Silver, Ben Bird Person, 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 Soon Lee.]

Pixel Scroll 4/17/22 Filefjonk, Scrollmaiden, And Other Moominpixels

(1) HE PUT THE BOMP. “Cyberpunk pioneer John Shirley survived Portland’s 1970s music scene, discovers you can go home again” – the author is profiled by The Oregonian.

…Ultimately, he didn’t make it as a punk rocker. And that was OK. He loved performing for an audience, creating noise and upheaval. But he loved sitting by himself in front of a typewriter too.

He wrote wild stories that took readers to distant worlds, and inside the heads of killers, sex fiends and sadists.

This was how he made his mark — his X.

Shirley pioneered cyberpunk (just ask William Gibson, the best-known writer associated with the influential science-fiction subgenre). He’s published more than 50 novels and many more short stories, earning a dedicated fan base. He co-wrote the screenplay for the cult movie “The Crow” and penned a series of paperback novels that inspired the Sylvester Stallone movie “The Specialist.”…

(2) JOCULARITY. “I Feel Funny: Humor Writing Tips for Novelists” by Kathy Flann at the SFWA Blog

Fairly or unfairly, the general public doesn’t associate science fiction and fantasy (SFF) with hilarity. In fact, a recent fake survey revealed that 72% of readers expected these novels to be “Moby-Dick in space … (or the moors or wherever).” However, what is humor if not an observant reimagining of the familiar, typically with some kind of an unexpected twist? Writers of SFF create ten interesting twists before their well-observed breakfasts. So, why aren’t our bookshelves and our zeitgeists chock-full of hilarious SFF novels? 

My guess is that SFF writers already feel overwhelmed. Not only do they face the challenges of any novel—including character development, plot, point of view, and so on—but also the mandate to build worlds for characters to inhabit and confront. I think writers suffer from knee-knocking fear of the additional layer of “trying” to be funny. A corny novel that makes readers groan may erode their suspension of disbelief. All that work for nothing!… 

(3) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites listeners to chow down on butter chicken with Paul Kupperberg in episode 169 of the Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Paul Kupperberg

It’s time once again to step into the time machine, as this episode’s guest, Paul Kupperberg, is one of the two people in comics I’ve known the longest. He, along with former guest of the podcast Paul Levitz, ran fanzine sales at Phil Seuling’s 1971 4th of July weekend Comic Art Convention. We were both 16 then.

Paul’s another one of those guests I’d planned to sit across the table from during a day trip north sometime during the past two years, but that couldn’t happen, so to prevent the state of the world from stealing from us the conversation we would have had in better times, this became another one of the remote episodes I started doing once our world narrowed in early 2020, urged on by my Patreon supporters, who felt as much of a need for community during this difficult period as I did.

A lot has changed over the past half century since Paul and I met, as he’s written more than 1,000 short stories and comic book stories during those years. Among the characters whose adventures he’s scripted are Superman, Supergirl, Superboy, the new Doom Patrol, Green Lantern, the Justice League of America, Aquaman, Conan, and many others. He also scripted something near and dear to my heart — the first appearance of Keith Giffen’s Ambush Bug character in DC Comics Presents #52 (Dec. 1982). He wrote the syndicated The World’s Greatest Superheroes newspaper comic strip with José Delbo from 1981–1985. He’s the author of more than three dozen books of fiction and nonfiction, including The Same Old StoryJSA: RagnarokDirect Comments: Comics Creators in Their Own Words, and Paul Kupperberg’s Illustrated Guide to Writing Comics. He’s been an editor at DC Comics, WWE Kids’ Magazine, and the Weekly World News.

Paul ordered in Butter Chicken from Curry & Hurry in Riverside Connecticut, I ran over to Spice Connexion in Martinsburg, West Virginia for take-out Lamb Rogan Josh, and I hope you grab some Indian food so you can better pretend to be part of the gabfest.

We discussed which superhero starred in his first favorite comic book, the reasons we’re in agreement when it comes to the Stan vs. Jack debate, why his introduction to Superman had nothing to do with comics, what we each felt was lacking in our own early comic book writing, the surprising identity of the DC editor whose books sold the best, what caused legendary artist Don Heck to curse him out, the special challenges of writing comic strips, how he needed to get ready (or not) before writing all those legacy characters, what it was like rebooting Doom Patrol, which Archie character’s death upset him so much he had to step away from the keyboard, and much more.

 (4) THE RESISTANCE. Publishers Weekly is “Confronting Cultural Illiteracy: LGBTQ Books 2022”.

The recent spate of challenges to books with LGBTQ content has been met with equally vocal resistance from booksellers, librarians, parents, and other advocates. Caught in the middle are the people who create the books.

George M. Johnson’s All Boys Aren’t Blue, a YA essay collection revolving around themes of identity and family, was, according to the ALA, the third most challenged book of 2021; it was cited for LGBTQ content, profanity, and because it was considered sexually explicit. “It’s never easy to wake up to Google alerts mischaracterizing your work as something that it isn’t or seeing it used as a pawn for political partisanship,” Johnson says. “It only makes me want to create more stories in the world—find newer, cooler mediums to tell my stories.”

Another author, Jarrett Dapier, had a virtual presentation of his picture book Mr. Watson’s Chickens cancelled when the school librarian told the principal that the story features a gay couple. The principal then suggested offering parents the choice to opt out of the event, which Dapier found unacceptable. The presentation was rescheduled, the author says, after the school agreed to his terms: he insisted that the principal not send the opt-out letter, and that “teachers would not change their approach to the book or point out the characters’ relationship in anything but a positive, normal light, if they did at all.”…

(5) DENIS MEIKLE (1947-2022). Author Denis Meikle, a scholar who wrote about Hammer Films, died this week reported his daughter. His books included A History of Horrors-The Rise and Fall of the House of Hammer (1996), Jack the Ripper-The Murders and the Movies (2001), Vincent Price-The Art of Fear (2002), Johnny Depp-A Kind of Illusion (2004), The Ring Companion (2006), Roman Polanski-Odd Man Out (2007), Mr Murder-The Life and Times of Tod Slaughter (2019). And he wrote numerous articles for magazines such as My Little Shoppe of Horrors, The Dark Side, etc. He was the publisher of The Fantastic Fifties, The Sensational Sixties, and The Age of Thrills magazines.

(6) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1964 [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.] The cast of characters—a cat and a mouse, this is the latter. The intended victim who may or may not know that he is to die, be it by butchery or ballet. His name is Major Ivan Kuchenko. He has, if events go according to certain plans, perhaps three or four more hours of living. But an ignorance shared by both himself and his executioner, is of the fact that both of them have taken the first step into the Twilight Zone. — Opening narration of this episode. 

On this evening fifty eight years ago, The Twilight Zone‘s “The Jeopardy Room” first aired on CBS.  The plot is Major Ivan Kuchenko  as played by Martin Landau, a KGB agent who is attempting to defect, is trapped inside a hotel room in an unnamed, politically neutral country with a bomb about to go off unless he can disarm it. I’m assuming that you’ve seen, but on the grounds that you might not have, I won’t say more. It’s a splendid bit of Cold War paranoia. 

Not surprisingly, it was written by Serling. It was directed by Richard Donner who later on would be known for The OmenScrooged and Superman but this was very early on in his career and he had just three years earlier released X-15, an aviation film that presented a fictionalized account of the X-15 research rocket aircraft program. Neat indeed. 

It is one of only a handful of The Twilight Zone episodes that has no fantastical elements at all. It’s a classic Cold War story more befitting a Mission: Impossible set-up than this series. It even involves a message delivered by way of a tape recorder, but mine you that series is two years in the future so that has to be just a coincidence. Or The Twilight Zone being The Twilight Zone

Like all of The Twilight Zone series, it’s streaming on Paramount +. 

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born April 17, 1919 Julius Fast. He was the first recipient of the Edgar Award given by the Mystery Writers of America for the best first novel of 1945, Watchful at Night.  (He wrote a lot of mystery novels.) He was also a sff genre writer and he released Out of This World, a collection of SF stories while he was still in the Army during WW II. He only genre novel was written in the Seventies, The League of Grey-Eyed Women. (Died 2008.)
  • Born April 17, 1923 Lloyd Biggle Jr. He was the founding Secretary-Treasurer of Science Fiction Writers of America and served as Chairman of its trustees for many years. Writing-wise, his best known series were the Jan Darzek and Effie Schlupe troubleshooting team, and the Cultural Survey. His “Monument” story published in Analog was a finalist at Chicon III for a Short Story Hugo. I find it interesting that he wrote his own Sherlock Holmes stories from the perspective of Edward Porter Jones, an assistant who began his association with Holmes as a Baker Street Irregular. There are two novels in this series, The Quallsford Inheritance and The Glendower Conspiracy. (Died 2002.)
  • Born April 17, 1923 Earl Norem. An illustrator who signed his work simply Norem. He did a lot of work in Goodman’s men’s magazine but for our purposes I’m interested in the fact that he did a lot of for the same line of black-and-white comics magazines affiliated with his Marvel Comics division. Here is three of his covers, first for the trade paperback of Star Lord: Guardian of The Galaxy, next for Punisher/Black Widow: Spinning Doomsday’s Web (1992) #1, and finally for Moon Knight #6. (Died 2015.)
  • Born April 17, 1942 David Bradley, 80. It’s his Doctor Who work that garners him a Birthday honor.  He first showed up during the time of the Eleventh Doctor playing a complete Rat Bastard of a character named Solomon in the “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship” episode. But it was his second role on the series as actor who was the First Doctor that makes him really worth noting. He portrayed William Hartnell in An Adventure in Space and Time and then played the role of the First Doctor again in “The Doctor Falls” and “Twice Upon a Time”, both Twelfth Doctor stories.  He is also known for playing Argus Filch in the Harry Potter film franchise, Walder Frey in Game of Thrones and Abraham Setrakian in The Strain
  • Born April 17, 1948 Peter Fehervari, 74. Ok I’ll admit I’m including him because he’s written a number of novels set in the Warhammer Universe and I’ve never read anything set there. Who here has read the fiction set there? Is it worth reading, and if so, is there a good starting point?  I’ll admit that as a causal collector of action figures that some of those do seriously interest me as they have a definite SF vibe as you can see here.
  • Born April 17, 1959 Sean Bean, 63. His current role that garners him recognition is Joseph Wilford on Snowpiercer, though he gave an iconic performance as Ned Stark in Game of Thrones, and he’s been in our area of interest a long time.  His first genre role was in GoldenEye as the antagonist of Bond, Alec Trevelyan (Janus). Next he shows up as Boromir in the first of The Lord of the Rings films. He played Dr. Merrick in the horror SF film The Island and was James in horror flick The Dark which purports to be based off Welsh myth. Following in the horror vein, he’s Chris Da Silva in Silent Hill (which gets a sequel later in Silent Hill: Revelation) and in yet more horror is John Ryder in the remake of The Hitcher. (Was it so good that it yearned for a remake? I doubt it.) Black Death — yes more horror — and the character of Ulric ensued next. Finally something not of a horror nature in playing Zeus in Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief happened. I’m going to forgo listing the subsequent horror films he’s in and just finally note that he’s in The Martian playing Mitch Henderson. 
  • Born April 17, 1972 Jennifer Garner, 50. Back before there was the Marvel Cinematic Universe, there were Marvel Comic movies which have not been retconned into the MCU reality. Such was the case with Elektra and its lead character of Elektra Natchios. She also had the same role in Daredevil which was at best an OK film though I’m fond of the Kingpin character. And yes, I know some of you don’t like that Kingpin. 
  • Born April 17, 1973 Cavan Scott, 49. To my thinking, there’s somewhat of an arbitrary line between fanfic and professional writing. (Ducks quickly.) Which bring me to the world of fiction set in media universes where a lot of fanfic is set. This writer has apparently specialized in such writing to the extent that he has novels in the universes of Dr. Who (including the full blown subgenre of Professor Bernice Summerfield), Blake’s 7Judge DreddSkylanders UniverseThe Tomorrow PeopleStar Wars and Warhammer Universe (yes again). Judge Dredd?  Novels? Who knew? 

(8) COMICS SECTION.

(9) ASIMOV PROFILE. The Jerusalem Post published this feature to mark the thirtieth anniversary of the author’s death: “Isaac Asimov: The biochemist who created new worlds – The Jerusalem Post (jpost.com)

Isaac Asimov is considered one of the greatest science fiction writers, and definitely the most famous of them all. He has written some of the most influential and popular books of the genre, which contained ideas, prophecies and quotes that appear in multiple references to this day. He has written and edited more than 500 books in different fields and was legendarily prolific as a writer. The American writer Harlan Ellison once commented about Asimov, “He had writer’s block once. It was the worst ten minutes of his life.”

Owing to his huge success as an author, it’s easy to forget that Asimov was also a scientist and a professor of biochemistry. Science was an integral part of his life and greatly influenced his stories…. 

(10) SELF-PUBLISHED BOOKS HONORED. Among those receiving medals in the 2022 Global Book Awards for Self-Published Authors this week in the science fiction categories were:

  • VS Holmes, author of Heretics won Silver for Sci Fi/ Hard
  • Kristina Rienzi, author of Among Us won Silver for Sci-fi / Space Exploration

Heretics

Hot-tempered Dr. Nel Bently is not cut out to save the world. After her last project ended in fire and death, Nel must put aside her distrust of just about everyone and embark on a lo-fi search for a deadly radio transmission.

Earth’s survivors are torn between the austere superpower of IDH and the high-tech grassroots Los Pobledores. At every turn more allies go missing and Nel questions where everyone’s true loyalties lie–and on which side Lin will fall when a line is finally drawn.

They need experts. They need firepower. But it looks like the only thing standing between Earth and devastation is Nel: archaeologist, asshole, and functioning alcoholic with anger issues.

Among Us

Marci Simon lives a double life: conservative professor of English by day, and controversial blogger of aliens by night. But when a classified document lands in her lap, her two worlds collide in an explosive revelation of shocking and deadly secrets.

Despite imminent danger at every twist, Marci embarks on an unstoppable quest to expose the terrifying truth. Only she never anticipated the entangled nebula of dark lies, nor the never-ending wormhole the government would spiral through to silence her forever.

Knowledge can kill.

And Marci knows too much. With global security at risk, no one can be trusted. To debunk the stratosphere of deceit, Marci races at the speed of light to escape the grips of the clandestine Extraterrestrial Security Agency (ESA) hunting her before she vanishes like all the others. But Marci is unique. Despite being the ESA’s prime target, she’s also the skeleton key to the deadliest truth in the history of the universe.

The nightmare is real, and it’s only just begun. Marci must take a nefarious leap of faith before her options, and her breaths, evaporate into a black hole for all eternity.

(11) VOYAGER NEWS. An excerpt has been released from a new documentary on Star Trek:  Voyager.“To The Journey”.

(12) GYGAX. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] The BBC interviews E. Gary Gygax, the great game creator Sid Sackson, and goes to a British national gaming convention in this Classic BBC Clip from a 1982documentary that dropped this week. “Why do we play TABLETOP GAMES?”

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

Pixel Scroll 2/14/22 Our Files Are Protected By Mutual Assured Pixellation

(1) PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE ASKS INTERNET ARCHIVE TO REMOVE MAUS. Chris Freeland, a librarian and Director of the Internet Archive’s Open Libraries program, advocates for his work at ZDNet: “Librarian’s lament: Digital books are not fireproof”.

The disturbing trend of school boards and lawmakers banning books from libraries and public schools is accelerating across the country. In response, Jason Perlow made a strong case last week for what he calls a “Freedom Archive,” a digital repository of banned books. Such an archive is the right antidote to book banning because, he contended, “You can’t burn a digital book.” The trouble is, you can.

A few days ago, Penguin Random House, the publisher of Maus, Art Spiegelman’s Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel about the Holocaust, demanded that the Internet Archive remove the book from our lending library. Why? Because, in their words, “consumer interest in ‘Maus’ has soared” as the result of a Tennessee school board’s decision to ban teaching the book. By its own admission, to maximize profits, a Goliath of the publishing industry is forbidding our non-profit library from lending a banned book to our patrons: a real live digital book-burning.

We are the library of last resort, where anyone can get access to books that may be controversial wherever they happen to live — an existing version of Perlow’s proposed “Freedom Archive.” Today, the Internet Archive lends a large selection of other banned books, including Animal FarmWinnie the PoohThe Call of the Wild, and the Junie B. Jones and Goosebumps children’s book series. But all of these books are also in danger of being destroyed.

In the summer of 2020, four of the largest publishers in the U.S. — Penguin Random House among them — sued to force our library to destroy the more than 1.4 million digital books in our collection. In their pending lawsuit, the publishers are using copyright law as a battering ram to assert corporate control over the public good. In this instance, that means destroying freely available books and other materials that people rely on to become productive and discerning participants in the country’s civic, economic, and social life…. 

(2) SUPER BOWL COMMERCIALS WITH A TOUCH OF SFF. Thanks to Cora Buhlert for flagging several of these in a comment yesterday on the “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power – Teaser Trailer” post. Besides the ones I’ve embedded below, there’s a “Planet Fitness – What’s Gotten into Lindsay?” spot with a cameo and narration by William Shatner, and astronaut Matthew McConaughey headlining the “’The New Frontier’ Salesforce Super Bowl Ad” (“while the others look to the metaverse and Mars, lets stay here and restore ours…”).

Enter a new dimension of Strange. Watch the official trailer for Marvel Studios’ Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Only in theaters May 6. In Marvel Studios’ “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” the MCU unlocks the Multiverse and pushes its boundaries further than ever before. Journey into the unknown with Doctor Strange, who, with the help of mystical allies both old and new, traverses the mind-bending and dangerous alternate realities of the Multiverse to confront a mysterious new adversary.

See the all-new Big Game TV Spot for Marvel Studios’ #MoonKnight ?, an Original series streaming March 30, only on Disney+. The story follows Steven Grant, a mild-mannered gift-shop employee, who becomes plagued with blackouts and memories of another life. Steven discovers he has dissociative identity disorder and shares a body with mercenary Marc Spector. As Steven/Marc’s enemies converge upon them, they must navigate their complex identities while thrust into a deadly mystery among the powerful gods of Egypt.

In a competitive home buying market, Barbie was able to find and finance her dream house with some help from Rocket Homes??, Rocket Mortgage® and Anna Kendrick.

Retiring from Mount Olympus to Palm Springs, Zeus is underwhelmed by all earthly electric things and becomes a shell of his former self. But right when we think all hope is lost, his wife, Hera, introduces him to the all-electric BMW iX and helps mighty Zeus reclaim his spark.

(3) THE SIXTIES CONAN REDISCOVERY. At Galactic Journey, Cora Buhlert continues her overview of the Lancer Conan reprints with Conan the Warrior, which includes two of the best Conan stories “and no L. Sprague de Camp mucking about”: “[February 14, 1967] Three Facets of Conan: Conan the Warrior by Robert E. Howard”.

…Valeria is a marvellous character, a warrior woman who is Conan’s equal in many ways. “Why won’t men let me live a man’s life?” Valeria laments at one point. “That’s obvious,” Conan replies with an appreciative look at Valeria’s body. Robert E. Howard is usually considered a writer of masculine fiction and Conan is clearly a man’s man, but I was pleasantly surprised by the variety and competence of the female characters in these stories. Not every women in these stories is as impressive as Valeria or Yasmina from “The People of the Black Circle”, but they are all characters with personalities and lives of their own and every one of them is given a chance to shine….

(4) IT’S TIME FOR TRIVIA. Clarion West’s third annual speculative fiction trivia night fundraiser welcomes anyone to join this celebration of all things speculative. The event takes place March 20 from 5:00 p.m.-7:30 p.m. Pacific. Purchase tickets here – most options are $15.

Quizmaster Seanan McGuire will host us on Sunday, March 20th at 5pm PT for a night of science fiction, fantasy, and horror-themed rivalry. We’re also excited to welcome celebrity team captains Tananarive Due & Steven Barnes, A.T. Greenblatt, Greg & Astrid Bear, Cat Rambo, Andy Duncan, Brooks Peck, Julia Rios, and Curtis C. Chen!

Clarion West began running Speculative Fiction Trivia Night as an in-person fundraiser in 2019. It’s been such a hit that we’ve kept it going online for our global community. We enjoy bringing everyone together for this annual event, keeping it easy to run (with lots of volunteer power), and low cost to join! Ticket sales support Clarion West, the time and efforts of our staff, and our wonderful quizmaster Seanan McGuire!

You can join as an individual and be placed on a team, bring your own team, or join a team led by one of our amazing celebrity team captains (these fill quickly)!

Learn more about Trivia Night, our Celebrity Team Captains, and other details here.

(5) HIDDEN GEMS. G.W. Thomas remembers the adventures of Thula, a little known 1970s sword and sorcery heroine by Pat McIntosh, whose stories only appeared in an obscure British fanzine and Lin Carter’s Year’s Best Fantasy collections: “The Adventures of Thula” at Dark Worlds Quarterly.

 The Adventures of Thula was a series of five Sword & Sorcery tales featured in Lin Carter’s The Year’s Best Fantasy Stories 1-5Pat McIntosh, the Scottish author of these tales, was a mystery to me. Her stories appeared first in John Martin’s British fanzine Anduril but nowhere else. She was an obvious favorite of Lin’s, along with other women writers such as Tanith Lee, C. J. Cherryh and Janet Fox. He called McIntosh “…a new British writer bound to go places in the years to come!”…

(6) NOPE TRAILER. “Jordan Peele’s ‘Nope’ Trailer Sees a UFO Terrorize Keke Palmer, Daniel Kaluuya and Steven Yeun”. Yahoo!’s preview explains, “One day, a UFO appears in the sky, causing all matter of chaos for those at the ranch and its neighboring town. In one eye-catching scene in the trailer, we see Kaluuya on horseback trying to outrun the UFO; in another, a gooey alien creature stalks its prey.”

(7) IVAN REITMAN (1946-2022). A prolific Hollywood producer and director, Ivan Reitman died February 13 at the age of 75. He worked on many famous non-sf films, but the Ghostbusters movies were his best-known. As a producer or executive producer he had a hand in genre films Heavy Metal (1981), Spacehunters: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone (1983), Ghostbusters (1984), Ghostbusters II (1989), and the reboots Ghostbusters (2016) and Ghostbusters: Afterlife (2021), Space Jam (1996), Evolution (2001), A Babysitters Guide to Monster Hunting (2020), and also two animated TV series Mummies Alive (1997) and Alienators: Evolution Continues (2001), plus a recurring segment of the Atom TV series (2008).

The Guardian’s Hadley Freeman found Ivan Reitman impressive: “I finally met Ivan Reitman three months ago – my Hollywood hero was a truly lovely man”.

As the Guardian’s official 80s movies correspondent, I talked to Reitman multiple times over the years, beginning with a phone interview for the last film he directed, 2014’s Draft Day. When I contacted him again a few weeks later to ask if I could interview him for a book I was working on about 80s movies, he immediately agreed, and talked to me for over an hour, reminiscing about films people had been asking him to reminisce about for over 30 years. He never showed boredom or irritation. If I ever needed a quote, or just had a question, I could email him and he’d reply immediately. Does it really need saying that this kind of behaviour from a genuine Hollywood powerhouse is not exactly typical?

(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1964 [Item by Cat Eldridge] James Elwood: master programmer. In charge of Mark 502-741, commonly known as Agnes, the world’s most advanced electronic computer. Machines are made by men for man’s benefit and progress, but when man ceases to control the products of his ingenuity and imagination, he not only risks losing the benefit, but he takes a long and unpredictable step into… The Twilight Zone.”

Fifty-eight years ago this evening, Twilight Zone’s “From Agnes—With Love” episode first aired. The twentieth episode of Season Five, it tells the rather silly story of a meek computer programmer who has Agnes, the world’s most advanced computer, loving him. And what ends she’ll go to make sure no end else wins his hand. 

It was directed by Richard Donner who went to fame by directing The Omen and the 1978 Superman. It was written by Bernard Cutner Schoenfeld who had done mostly crime noir before this including Phantom Lady and The Dark Lady though he did write the screenplay for The Space Children, a film currently holding a fourteen percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. You can see it here.

The cast of this series was: Wally Cox as James Elwood, Sue Randall as Millie, Raymond Bailey as Supervisor,  Ralph Taeger as Walter Holmes, Don Keefer as Fred Danziger, Byron Kane as Assistant  and Nan Peterson as A Secretary. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born February 14, 1925 J. T. McIntosh. Scottish writer at his best according to Clute in his early work such as World Out of Mind and One in Three Hundred. He’s deeply stocked at the usual suspects at very reasonable rates, indeed most as Meredith Moments. (Died 2008.)
  • Born February 14, 1942 Andrew Robinson, 80. Elim Garak on Deep Space Nine. He wrote a novel based on his character, A Stitch in Time, and a novella, “The Calling,” which can be found in Prophecy and Change, a DS9 anthology edited by Marco Palmieri. Other genre credits include Larry Cotton in Hellraiser, appearing in The Puppet Masters as Hawthorne and playing John F. Kennedy on the The New Twilight Zone.
  • Born February 14, 1948 Teller, 74. Performed on Babylon 5 in the episode scripted by Neil Gaiman titled “Day of The Dead” as part of Penn & Teller who portrayed comedians Rebo and Zooty. It’s one of my favorite episodes of the series. Harlan Ellison provided his voice there. Now available on HBO Max. 
  • Born February 14, 1952 Gwyneth Jones, 70. Interesting person that she is, let’s start with her thoughts on chestnuts she did when she was Winter Queen at Green Man. Just because I can. Now regarding her fiction, I’d strongly recommend her Bold As Love series of a Britain that went to pieces as it now certainly is, and her twenty-year-old Deconstructing the Starships: Science, Fiction and Reality polemic is still worth reading. 
  • Born February 14, 1952 Paula M. Block, 70. Star Trek author and editor; but primarily known for working in Paramount Pictures’ consumer licensing division and then with CBS Consumer Products. Remember that novel I noted by Andrew Robinson? Yeah, that’s her bailiwick. She’s also written with her husband Terry J. Erdmann, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion and Star Trek: Costumes: Five Decades of Fashion from the Final Frontier. It looks like she did some Trek fanfic as well including “The Girl Who Controlled Gene Kelly’s Feet”.
  • Born February 14, 1963 Enrico Colantoni, 59. Any excuse to mention Galaxy Quest I’ll gladly take. He played a delightful Mathesar on that film, and that was his first genre role, lucky bastard. Up next for him was A.I. Artificial Intelligence as The Murderer followed by appearing in the most excellent animated Justice League Dark as the voice of Felix Faust where his fate was very, very bad. He had an amazing role on Person of Interest as Charlie Burton / Carl Elias. Not genre, but his acting as Sgt. Gregory Parker on Flashpointa Canadian police drama television series is worth noting as it that excellent series. 
  • Born February 14, 1964 Zach Galligan, 58. You’ll no doubt recognize him best as Billy Peltzer in Gremlins and Gremlins 2: The New Batch. He did some really forgettable films after that including Waxwork II: Lost in TimeWarlock: The Armageddon and Cyborg 3: The Recycler even if the star of the latter was Malcolm McDowell. He did show on Voyager on as Ensign David Gentry in the “In the Flesh” episode. 
  • Born February 14, 1970 Simon Pegg, 52. Best known for playing Montgomery Scott in the sort of ongoing Star Trek franchise. His first foray into the genre was Shaun of the Dead which he co-wrote and had an acting role in. Late genre roles include Land of the Dead where he’s a Photo Booth Zombie, Diary of the Dead where he has a cameo as a Newsreader, and he portrays Benji Dunn in the ongoing Mission: Impossible franchise.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Bizarro has a cringeworthy joke for the holiday.  [Link worked earlier; right now it appears none of Comics Kingdom’s comics will load for some reason.]

(11) TUBERS IN SPACE. Nerdist gives us fair warning when “Mr. Potato Head Joins STAR WARS with The Yamdalorian Toy”. (See it at Hasbro.com.)

…Bring some space saga to your kid’s toy chest with Hasbro’s newest Star Wars plaything. This intergalactic version of Mr. Potato Head is ready to carry Grogu, in this case known as the Tot, everywhere he goes. Even in his stomach. The Yamdalorian features a 5-and-a-half inch body and comes with 14 parts to make him into the greatest bounty spud in the universe. That includes a Mandalorian helmet, armor, and cape. As well a base with feet, eyes, two arms, two ears, nose, and mustache. And his adopted son can also fit inside his pouch…

(12) FUN FACT. [Item by Sam Long.] I was looking up the word “god” in the Online Etymological Dictionary, and found that it could be derived from the Proto-Indo-European (PIE) word ghu-to, to pour a libation (as of bheer).  Apparently fandom–or at least the fannish “h”–dates back five thousand years or more.

“Bloomin’ idol o’ egoboo,

Wot they call the ghreat ghod Ghu!

(Plucky lot she cared for idols when I gave her some corflu.”

          –On the Road to Fandalay

(13) IMPRISONED ALIENS. Some aliens may never be able to leave their world due to things like high gravity or self-generated orbital debris. Isaac Arthur considers “The Fermi Paradox: Imprisoned Planets”.

(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. As one commenter calls it, “The all-Boston crossover you never expected, but deserved.” “Your Cousin From Boston (Dynamics)”.

While working security at the Boston Dynamics robotics lab, Your Cousin From Boston gives a robot a Sam Adams. At least he brought a Wicked IPA Party Pack to share!

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

The Next Bradbury Roundup

Is due in five…four…three….

(1) MEET THE MARTIANS. Nicholas Whyte’s quick notes about “The Martian Chronicles, by Ray Bradbury” begin “Gosh. I had forgotten quite how good this is.”

(2) FREE RANGE MARS STORIES. But wait, there are more! In Bradbury 100 episode 30 Phil Nichols takes up “Bradbury’s OTHER Mars Stories”.

This episode looks at Ray Bradbury’s OTHER Martian stories, stories about Mars and Martians which are NOT included in his THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES.

I review each of the un-chronicled martian tales, and figure out where they fit into the mythos of The Martian Chronicles. Be ready for some surprises!

(3) COMPARE AND CONTRAST. YouTuber Robert Bacon analyzes “A Twilight Zone Episode Turned Into A Kids Movie”.

The Electric Grandmother is a made for TV movie that was based on a short story by Ray Bradbury that itself was based on a Twilight Zone episode that Bradbury wrote. The film was originally aired on NBC, but most people saw it when it was distributed to classrooms. No idea why this was considered educational, but I don’t think anyone cared. The Electric Grandmother (1982) Director: Noel Black Writer: Ray Bradbury Starring: Maureen Stapleton, Edward Herrmann, and Paul Benedict Plot: A trio of children and their father, get a very special robot grandmother to assist them.

(4) THE MELODY LINGERS ON. Screen Rant’s Spencer Bollettieri finds that Disney’s animated hit resonates with a Bradbury classic: “Encanto: How Mirabel’s Powers Struggle Mirrors A 76-Year-Old Fantasy Story”.

Encanto is a beloved tale of an enchanted family with supernatural power, but it’s not a new one; it actually mirrors a story originally written 76 years ago by late horror author Ray Bradbury. Both are timeless tales about what it means to be human in an extraordinary family and the drama they face when confronted with collapse. Although Bradbury claimed he was unable to predict the future, he somehow reflected it in ways even the Madrigals couldn’t foresee.

In 1946 Ray Bradbury first chronicled the story of the Elliott family, a clan of gothic creatures who adopted a human boy named Timothy, who they found strange. Inspired by Bradbury’s real-life experiences, he wrote a 50-year collection of short stories compiled into a single narrative titled From the Dust Returned. Although not as recognized as gothic icons such as The Addams Family, many considered it a beautifully macabre novel and found the Elliott family resonated with them….

(5) WHEN BRADBURY WAS 89. Kenneth Strange says “You’ll Never Guess Who Kissed Me” – but I will bet you can.

..During the signing, I handed my book to Ray Bradbury but decided to crouch like a baseball catcher so I could whisper a word to him at eye level. As he scribbled his name in the book and closed it, I leaned in and opened my heart, “Mr. Bradbury. Many years ago I discovered you in a small library in Brooklyn, New York. Your books made such a difference in my life…thank you for that.” His eyes began to water and I suppose mine did as well. A spontaneous gesture from this playful man of “gentle humanity” followed as he pulled me toward him and kissed me on the cheek.

I’m a lucky man. Some might prefer being kissed by Bo Derek. Not me….

Ray Bradbury’s 89th Birthday Cake. Photo by John King Tarpinian.

(6) DRINK UP. For a short time, Mary Robinette Kowal is offering a limited edition Bradbury Base mug for all new and existing subscribers at $25 or above to her Patreon.

(7) CENTER FOR RAY BRADBURY STUDIES. There was a changing of the guard last year.

Former Director Dr. Jonathan R. Eller retired on February 1, 2021 and Dr. Jason Aukerman stepped into the role. During his career at IUPUI, Dr. Eller co-founded the Bradbury Center with the late Dr. William Touponce, became a Chancellor’s Professor of English, and touched countless lives through his work as a teacher and scholar. Without Dr. Eller, there would be no Bradbury Center, and even though he is now retired, Dr. Eller and Debi Eller maintain a close relationship with Center staff, serving as volunteers, consultants, and friends. We thank the Ellers for their passionate leadership and continued support!

(8) FOURTH ANNUAL WRITER’S LECTURE. The Center for Ray Bradbury Studies has posted a video of the 2021 Ray Bradbury Visiting Writer’s Lecture With Maurice Broaddus presented this past November.

Maurice Broaddus is the resident Afrofuturist at the Kheprw Institute and librarian at the Oaks Academy Middle School. His work has appeared in places like Lightspeed Magazine, Black Panther: Tales from Wakanda, Asimov’s, Magazine of F&SF, and Uncanny Magazine, with some of his stories having been collected in The Voices of Martyrs. He’s also an editor at Apex Magazine!

(9) REASONS TO READ. Amit Majmudar promotes Ray Bradbury: Novels & Story Cycles, the Library of America’s inaugural Bradbury volume. “Ray Bradbury: Prophetic visionary, ‘word-wizard,’ and next-door neighbor”.

Mention Ray Bradbury, I’ve found, and faces light up. Strangers reach out to you on Twitter with testimonials. A voice changes on the phone, as if you just mentioned a childhood best friend. This is something beyond fondness and beyond admiration. The name conjures up poignant wonder; the name exhilarates the imagination. No one seems to be just “familiar with his work.” You’ve either never read him, or you love him.

 One place to read his best work (his stories are as innumerably luminous as stars) is in Library of America’s new omnibus, which contains The Martian ChroniclesFahrenheit 451Dandelion Wine, and Something Wicked This Way Comes

(10) PEDALING THE COLLECTION. Anne Farr Hardin spent most of her life collecting Bradbury books, and corresponding with him, too – and all of it will be preserved: “Ray Bradbury collection finds new home at the University of South Carolina” reports the Greenville Journal.

…The exhibit features a full case on Bradbury’s most famous novel, “Fahrenheit 451,” a couple of cases exploring the author’s lifelong fascination with the planet Mars and a representative range of the collection’s other holdings. Taken together, they provide an intriguing window on 20th-century book and periodical publishing, particularly in the genres of fantasy and science fiction.

But what’s on display is just a hint of the many treasures tucked into Hardin’s vast collection, which also chronicles a decades-long correspondence and friendship Hardin enjoyed with the famous writer. 

Bradbury devotees who take the time to dive into the holdings will discover every edition of classics like “Fahrenheit 451,” “The Martian Chronicles” and “Dandelion Wine”plus vividly illustrated mid-century pulps like “Amazing Stories” and “Weird Tales,” mainstream magazines or “slicks” like “Mademoiselle,” “McCall’s” and “Good Housekeeping,” plus small-run fanzines predating the author’s international fame and acclaim.

In other words, it’s about as complete as complete gets — the collection even includes one of Bradbury’s bicycles — and it’s all the result of Hardin’s tireless literary sleuthing, which stretches back more than four decades….

(11) GOLDEN TONES. From LeVar Burton Reads, “’The Great Wide World Over There’ by Ray Bradbury”.

A visitor’s arrival delivers both wonder and heartache to a rural community. This story appears in Ray Bradbury’s collection THE GOLDEN APPLES OF THE SUN. Thanks to our presenting sponsor Audible. 

(12) HOT NUMBER. Extra Credits episode “Fahrenheit 451 – Dystopias and Apocalypses” can be viewed on YouTube.

Ray Bradbury not only cautions against censorship (the primary theme of Fahrenheit 451), but offers interesting commentary on who censors works at all, and why humans do it anyway.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian for these links.]